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David rummaged through his toiletry bag to dig out his sunscreen. He considered playing one of his divas playlists, but it seemed a shame to drown out the soothing sound of waves gently lapping against whatever architectural magic held his over-water bungalow above the Indian Ocean.

Last night had been a blur of jet lag, crying, time zone confusion, crying, Melatonin, and more crying. That deadly cocktail had made him substantially oversleep. Not that he could oversleep on a vacation with zero schedule, but it was jarring to wake up on his own after noon. He used to be a late riser, but that wasn’t an option as the on-air talent for a flagship HGTV show. 

Starting his vacation feeling like he’d wasted half his first day wasn’t the vibe he wanted, so he’d forced himself out of bed to take advantage of the amenities in his super fucking expensive bungalow. His days in the Maldives were supposed to be about unplugging, rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, eating amazing food, and spoiling himself.

Actually, it was supposed to be about him and Sebastien reconnecting before Seb had called things off a few weeks ago. That’s where his crying had come in. He slid on his white-rimmed sunglasses to hide the residual redness around his eyes, though no one was around to see the evidence. 

Honestly, the crying had been more about finally getting a real vacation after years of hustling, having looked forward to enjoying it with someone else, but ending up alone. Again. David was tired of doing everything alone. At least he was alone in a beautiful place instead of nursing his break-up blues in his L.A. condo with an ever-growing pile of takeout containers.

He squirted sunscreen in his palm and rubbed it into his arms and chest. Yet another thing he couldn’t do by himself—get the sunscreen everywhere it needed to be. God, he’d probably end up buying one of those drugstore aerosol brands with an angled nozzle to reach his back. Pathetic. What was next? Buying a buzzer to wear around his neck to call for help in case he slipped and hit his head in the shower? At least the network would hunt him down if he were so much as an hour late for work. Even if no one cared about him, the network cared about their asset.

Even when he wasn’t technically alone, he might as well be. Dating another celebrity wasn’t much better than being single, but it’s all he could manage. It was impossible to meet “normal” people (civilians?) in his world, but he’d love to. For once, he wanted to date someone who didn’t care how they looked on David’s arm, but cared about David. As if such a thing could exist outside of the rom-coms playing on loop in his mind.

He wanted someone who didn’t mind going to events with David, but didn’t spend all of their time trying to be seen. David had grown tired of the Hollywood life. He’d like to live with more substance, maybe even love. He wanted to spend most evenings cooking with his partner at him, snugging on the couch, unwinding after a long day, and sometimes getting dressed to the nines and going to a red carpet event. He’d like that to be the exception, no longer the rule. 

David pulled a water bottle from the mini fridge and strode through the clear glass sliding doors to the deck. He dropped his sunscreen on the table and sat the water at the edge of the deck next to the pool. David stood at the top of the steps that led into the square pool nestled next to the bathrooms and tilted his face toward the sun. His body warmed quickly, despite only wearing swim shorts. He’d never really thought about a bathroom being gorgeous until he’d seen that oversized oval tub placed at the corner of two floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the ocean. Splurging for the over-water ocean pool villa had been the right call, even if he was the only one to enjoy it.

A slight breeze took the edge off of the heat from the sun beating down on him. He had nowhere to be, no one tugging him from shooting promos to filming an episode to an interview to doing voiceover work in postproduction. He couldn’t remember the last time his schedule was really his own. Even his days off were a series of beauty treatments that had left self care territory and moved into work mode years ago. Maintaining his appearance was part of his job.

 David walked through the other set of glass doors on the deck to the bathroom and grabbed an oversized towel. He draped it over the white lounger, then laid down on his back. A satisfied sigh escaped as he closed his eyes and focused on the sun beating down on him. He lost himself to the gentle laps of water, someone laughing in the distance, and a breeze tickling his toes. It was perfect. 

He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he snapped out of his light snooze. He’d basically melted into a puddle on the lounge chair. Time to test out his private pool. David pulled himself from the chair and stood. He lifted his arms toward the sky and stretched as high as he could reach, then arched his back and reached behind him. His body popped and snapped with the movement. He opened his now warm bottle of water, tilted his head back, and chugged half of it down. 

After another stretch, David dropped his hands to his hips and looked out over the aqua clear water. Movement to his left caught his attention. Someone standing on some sort of surfboard looking thing interrupted his serenity. Weren’t there rules about passing in front of someone’s bungalow? He could’ve been naked getting out of the tub or something. Maybe he should pull down the shades over the bathroom windows.

David’s sunglasses provided him the privacy to look at the man who was about fifty meters away. When David had stumbled into his accommodations last night after over thirty-five hours of traveling, he’d had a passing thought about how he’d lucked out to get the bungalow at the far end with only a neighbor on one side. The expansive views made it worth the extra bit of dock to walk. Now he realized it probably meant more water activity traffic, like the guy assaulting his eyes with his horrific jewel-toned tropical floral board shorts. 

Vacation fashion faux pas aside, the guy had an athletic body. A sturdy frame with thick thighs that probably had the strength for some athletic sex, judging by his ability to balance on that floating thing. Those legs would look great framing David’s, with that tight torso bouncing up and down. And, yup, he needed to get laid. It was stage three in his break-up process, after all. Between eating his weight in white cheddar popcorn and swearing off dating.

The man looked out toward the open ocean as his defined arms moved the paddle through the water. What kind of sport was that? Beginner surfing or something?

Though the guy faced straight ahead, David got the feeling that he was looking at David through his own sunglasses. David really should look away because it was feeling awkward, but as he started to turn away, the guy appeared to lose his balance, and he teetered for a moment before falling into the ocean. 

It didn’t appear deep, but David didn’t know what kind of wildlife lurked in the clear waters. He watched to make sure the guy didn’t drown because he didn’t need that on his conscience. When a pale head with wet auburn hair surfaced sputtering, he called out. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Just wounded pride,” the guy called back, laughing a little.

David stepped down into his pool and pretended not to watch the guy climb back on the floating platform, but, come on, how could he not look? It was enthralling to watch his muscles flex in the sunlight. David knew he could never climb back on that thing without falling over again, but that guy managed it with relative ease. He’d never understand sporty people.

The cool water of the pool soothed his heated skin. He sat on a bench and draped his arms over the edge of the pool. He looked up again. Maybe if he kept his attention skyward, he wouldn’t get caught looking at that attractive guy.

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

Patrick was careening toward creepy, and he needed to rein it in. The first time he’d paddle boarded by the row of over-water bungalows, he hadn’t noticed the guy. On his way back toward the dock, his attention had been pulled toward someone lounging at the last bungalow. The guy’s short, tight, tiny, white swim shorts practically reflected the sun. How could he not notice?

Patrick slowed his paddling and snuck a couple of glances at the man who seemed to be asleep. Patrick looked a moment or two longer than polite as he took in the man’s long, lean legs, olive skin, and the way his shorts hugged his hips. He started to head back toward the equipment return, but he still had twenty minutes on the rental, so he made another pass by in front of the bungalows. 

The man hadn’t moved at all, so Patrick let himself have one more look as he paddled away from his ultimate destination. He’d get another look on his way back. Which was creepy. Too creepy. But how could he help it? The guy was absolutely gorgeous from what he could tell with his furtive glances. Either he was lonely or horny. Maybe both. Probably both. He’d gotten used to regular, pretty satisfying sex with Ken. He missed little about being Ken’s boyfriend now that he recognized they weren’t a good fit long term, but he definitely missed the sex. And cuddling. Cuddling was nice.

Patrick paddled quickly down the bungalows until he reached the end, then turned back around, but not too fast so it didn’t appear like he was loitering around that guy’s place. Because he wasn’t doing that at all. He was paddle boarding in a safe area away from boat traffic that just happened to be near a gorgeous man in tiny white swim shorts, with little slits at the sides, sunbathing on a lounge chair. 

As Patrick approached the last bungalow, he nearly lost his footing when he saw the guy standing and facing him. Busted. Patrick tried to focus on keeping his balance and making smooth strokes of the paddle. He hoped the probable flush on his chest looked like a result of the sun, not being busted looking where he had no business doing so. The man was even sexier on his feet. Hands on his hips, a defined chest and angular jaw. He looked like he’d be taller than Patrick. He’d really like to try it with someone bigger than him.

When he’d decided to go on the vacation anyway, after he and Ken had broken up a couple of months ago, a part of him had wondered if there would be a shot at a vacation fling. He wasn’t really the fling kind of guy. After breaking up with Rachel and coming out as one of the first openly gay professional baseball players, he had met Ken at a charity event hosted by Ken’s socialite parents. At first, it had been nice to date someone in the public eye who got it. Someone who understood the demand on Patrick’s schedule and didn’t get annoyed when people would approach him for autographs, but in time, it had felt like part of Patrick’s allure to Ken was his celebrity jock status. 

Coming out had been a big deal—way too much of a deal than Patrick was comfortable with—and the extent of his public attention had shifted from baseball fans to more of the general public. Ken loved it. Patrick didn’t. He missed how his relationship with Rachel felt more normal. He loved Rachel and appreciated their ongoing friendship deeply, but he didn’t miss being in a relationship with her. He missed the way he could completely decompress with her. She happily accompanied him to any event he needed her to, but she never pushed him for more. Rachel had been perfectly happy spending Friday nights watching movies or playing games with their college friends.

But as he took another look at that man towering over the pool at the edge of his bungalow, Patrick wanted. He wanted to have fun without the prying eyes of the paparazzi. When Ken and Patrick had been nailing down the details of their vacation, the seclusion had appealed to Patrick. The Maldives were already remote, but that resort was the remote of the remote. As long as Ken got accommodations with a private pool, he had been happy. But that didn’t matter any longer because they had broken up, and now Patrick was on vacation alone. He should have trusted his gut that planning an international vacation so damn far away had been a bad idea, given they had only been together a few months. On the bright side, at least his refusal to lose money on the trip by canceling it had forced him into taking a real vacation for the first time in years.

Patrick knew, at his core, he was a relationship guy. He understood dating was a necessary evil to a relationship, but he never enjoyed the awkwardness of dating. The holding parts of himself back while navigating compatibilities with a person. Exhausting. Maybe he should just have a little fun for a while. The odds of finding someone to have a little fun with at a resort in the Maldives seemed like a slim possibility, but he let his mind run off with the prospect as he paddled past the gorgeous man.

He couldn’t tell if the guy was looking at him since he had sunglasses on, but he faced Patrick, so maybe? Now that he was paddling by the guy while he was awake, Patrick felt really awkward about making several passes. What if the guy hadn’t been asleep at all and was trying to warn Patrick off by staring him down? There was probably some sort of etiquette about paddling by the bungalows. Aside from white swim trunks guy, Patrick had kept his attention on the water as soon as he realized there were bathtubs behind floor-to-ceiling glass walls. He didn’t want to get an eyeful of anyone, well, most anyone. He wouldn’t mind getting an eyeful of that sexy guy. Get your head out of your trunks, Brewer.

Patrick imagined those long, tanned legs wrapped around his waist, his chest glistening with sweat, his—shit! Patrick put too much velocity in his paddle swipe to the left, and his body tilted to that side. He fell into the ocean before he fully realized what was happening. If he could breathe underwater, he would’ve stayed there until he was out of sight of the guy. But his need for oxygen pushed him sputtering to the surface. The guy was probably bent at the waist, laughing at Patrick’s epic fail. He hadn’t fallen off a single time until he started picturing how well that guy would take his cock.

“Are you okay?”

Patrick swung around to look at the man. Patrick wanted to hear his voice again, but he also sort of wanted a wave to crash over him so he could die from embarrassment in peace.  

“I’m fine. Just wounded pride.” Patrick couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation. That would teach him for looking where he had no business doing so. At least he got back on the board with minimal embarrassment.

He glanced back at the bungalow and considered saying something else. Maybe thank the man for making sure he was okay, or ask him where he got his swimsuit so Patrick could write them a thank you letter. Instead, he gawked a moment too long as the guy stepped down into his little pool and spread his arms out like the king of his castle, waiting to be served.

Patrick turned back toward shore and focused on making even strokes with his paddle and not making an ass of himself again. 

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

David flipped through the channels on the television for the fifth time. He was in a plush bungalow literally constructed over the ocean and he was channel surfing like it was a Tuesday night back in L.A. He hadn’t traveled halfway across the world to waste time watching bad reality television.

He pulled himself out of the absurdly comfortable bed—he’d have to note the brand later and buy himself one—and made his third outfit change of the day. Pajamas to swim shorts to joggers and a T-shirt to linen capris and a white, short-sleeved button up French tucked in the front. Comfortable and casual while being acceptable attire should someone recognize him and immortalize his vacation on the internet. 

It would be a good idea to explore the resort before the day got away from him. He only had five more days in paradise before he had to spend another day-and-a-half traveling home. If he caved and ordered room service on day one, he probably would end up doing it every day and never leave the comfort of the pool.

David slid his passport card and credit card into his pocket and pulled another water bottle from the fridge. It wasn’t scorching hot outside, but hot enough that he shouldn’t risk dehydration from the sun.

He took a leisurely stroll down the dock to the shore. It had been a quick trip on the golf cart that delivered him to his bungalow yesterday, but he kind of enjoyed the jaunt from the far end of the dock to the rest of the resort. He would probably enjoy it less with a full stomach after dinner later.

First order of business: scope out the restaurants. He remembered reading something about a library in the resort’s guidebook. He should book a few spa treatments, too, before things filled up for the week. It had been too long since he’d had a good massage.

He removed his sandals to enjoy the feeling of his feet pushing through the soft sand with each step. The beach was fairly narrow on that side of the tiny island. He slipped his sandals back on once he reached the wooden plank walkway that appeared to wind through the palm trees and greenery to the interior of the island where the restaurants and other buildings were connected. Feet splinters were incorrect. 

David tried not to think about the tropical insects lurking out of sight in the lush foliage surrounding him. A couple of minutes later, he found himself next to the building where he had checked in yesterday. 

“Mr. Rose, how is your stay so far?”

He turned toward the voice and saw the same friendly woman who had checked him in yesterday.

“Wonderful, thank you. This place is incredible.”

She smiled knowingly, but it had a sweetness to it. “I’m pleased to hear it. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“I wanted to check out the restaurant options and schedule a few spa treatments for the week. Do all the restaurants require reservations?”

She talked him through the restaurant options and showed him menus with the day’s specials. “The spa is down the walkway to the left. They would be happy to book you in for any treatments.”

David made a mental note of the restaurants he wanted to try, especially since his stash of travel snacks was nearly depleted after his lunch and afternoon snack. Then he walked over to the spa and scheduled himself for a few treatments. 

It was amazing to think of how many creature comforts were available on a tiny island that felt so remote. Wi-Fi, television, pizza. What else could he need?

Hmm, a book. That’s what he needed. He’d packed his Kindle, but there was something about reading a printed book on vacation. He’d considered bringing one, but it wasn’t worth losing the precious space in his luggage.

He followed the way-finding signage toward the library. It was a cozy space with arched ceilings shaped like a wish bone, with natural wood in light tones with white trim. Like most buildings on the island, the walls were floor-to-ceiling glass and opened wide to let in the breeze. Jewel toned cushy chairs were placed around the library. Three shelves of books stood in the middle of the room with what looked like a mix of fiction, nonfiction, and maps. 

David went straight for the paperbacks. Vacation reading called for a good mystery or romance. He picked out one of each and tucked them under his arm. As he was about to turn around, he spotted a telescope next to another shelving unit. David couldn’t resist looking in it. Not that he would see anything during the daylight, but he’d always been intrigued by telescopes. They seemed like something he’d have used before if he’d had a regular childhood. Instead, he knew his way around proper place settings and which fork to use.

“Do you know how to use one of those?”

David startled at the voice and jabbed himself in the eye with the business end of the telescope. He straightened up and blinked his eye several times to stop the watering, but instead of getting better, both eyes watered. He probably looked like an idiot.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. Are you alright?” The voice was closer, but David couldn’t see through the tears welling.

“I’m fine. Just a klutz.” He gently wiped the tears away without being rough with the sensitive skin under his eyes. There was no need to reverse the work of his fancy eye creams with one rough swipe.

David’s eyes slowly focused as the tears cleared away. He saw a figure a few inches shorter than him, short hair, broad shoulders under a T-shirt with some sort of bird on it. He blinked a few more times as the person’s face took shape. Large, concerned eyes and a friendly smile. Wait, he’d seen that face before.

“You’re the guy who fell off that surfboard.”

He rubbed the back of his neck and looked up bashfully at David. David was relieved his eyes were working well enough again to catch the blush on the guy’s cheeks.  

“Yeah, that wasn’t my finest moment. I usually have more coordination than that.”

“Did you see a shark in the ocean or something?”

The pink on his cheeks deepened, and he glanced away. “Something like that.”

David swallowed. Either it was wishful thinking, or he was picking up a vibe. “I probably couldn’t have gotten to a standing position in the first place. I can barely balance on a yoga mat, let alone floating on water.”

“I’m sure you’d do great out there.” He shoved his hands into his—oh, god—cargo shorts. 

David waved him off. “If I fell off that thing, I’d have had to paddle back on my belly like a dog. You got back on it so easily.”

One side of his mouth turned up. “You watched me get back on the paddle board, huh?”

David liked his smug little smile, but wasn’t willing to give anything away, so he tucked his own smile to the side of his mouth. “Who am I to ignore entertainment literally right in front of me?”

The guy’s blush returned a little, but he didn’t ease up on the grin. “So you haven’t tried paddle boarding yet, and I’m guessing you’re new to the telescope too. Have you done any other activities on the island beyond sun bathing?” 

David liked the teasing attitude this guy had. He didn’t encounter many, okay, any, people in L.A. who carried that level of confidence while also seeming so wholesome and nice.

“I arrived yesterday. All I’ve managed so far is jet lag-fueled fitful sleep, napping while sunbathing, and a nice soak. I figured I should probably explore the island to minimize the self-loathing.”

The guy nodded slowly. “There are some great activities to help with the self-loathing. Snorkeling, whale watching, scuba diving, sailing, and cruises, I think. There are some good couple’s activities, if you’d be looking for those. Or family activities.” He glanced around like he expected a couple of kids to run around David’s ankles or something. God, imagine?

“No couple or family activities for me. My boyfriend dumped me, and my romantic getaway has more of a How Stella Got Her Groove Back vibe now.” As the words left David’s mouth, he realized he’d intended the quip to mean seizing life, his personal journey or whatever, but the amped up wattage of the guy’s smile reminded him there was the whole vacation fling part of that movie. Which, well, looking at water sport guy up close? Didn’t seem like a bad idea.

“What a coincidence.” His owlish eyes blinked. “My boyfriend and I broke up, and our couple’s vacation turned into my need to get the hell out of town for a week.”

David’s smile grew, and he didn’t care to stop it. “Huh.” He sent a silent thank you to whatever celestial body had put him in the path of a sexy, single guy on vacation. 

“Yeah,” the guy said, pulling his hands from the ridiculously long pockets on his fugly shorts and placing them on the waist David had gotten a solid eyeful of earlier.

“I’m David.”

The guy held out his hand, and David tucked the books under his left arm. His handshake was firm shake, but not brotastically showy. The kind of handshake that wasn’t about asserting dominance, but showed he was there, focused, in the moment. “Patrick.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Patrick.” He caught Patrick glancing down at his smile. He wasn’t used to it naturally coming out so easily. Normally he turned it on for work, but his genuine smile felt different. He was a little out of practice with it, but the stretch in the muscles was nice.

“Likewise, David.”

David waited for a moment, as he always did when meeting someone new. That moment where he learned whether the person recognized him. Patrick’s smile didn’t budge. He looked interested, but there wasn’t a sign of recognition beyond having seen each other earlier in the day.

That’s new. He wasn’t used to running into people who didn’t know him from his HGTV show or the memes. The fucking memes. Usually people paid attention to him because he was somewhat famous and they wanted to get something from him, or claim him as a conquest. Or the other group of people who liked to shout, “that’s incorrect!” at him during inappropriate times, like at the bar or buying toilet paper (because he wasn’t that famous to not have to do that himself).

But Patrick looked at him like he was an intriguing stranger, and maybe someone Patrick would like to get to know. Not because of his job or because he was a Rose. Because he was also a single guy on vacation.

“Do you have dinner plans?” David bit his bottom lip.

“I hope I’m about to.” Patrick’s eyes twinkled.

Chapter Text

 Patrick’s leg bounced under the table as he took another sip from the sweaty water glass. He looked up again to check for David. 

I hope I’m about to. 

He couldn’t believe he’d said that to David earlier. Where had that boldness had come from? Maybe Vacation Patrick was a bit more confident. 

He wasn’t really shy, but he’d never had to pursue anyone. Ugh, that sounded cocky, like most of his teammates. God, even his self talk needed a pep talk. Back in high school, Rachel had told him they got along and she thought he was cute, so they should date. He’d agreed. The couple of other women he’d dated during his breakups with Rachel had pursued him too. Beth had given him a drunken congratulatory kiss after his college team had won the conference championship, and they’d started dating. One of his softball player friends had set her friend Veronica up with him. Julie had asked him out on a dare.

As he thought about it, he hadn’t been the one to initiate things with someone else, ever. Even the couple of one-night stands he’d had before and after he’d come out. His M.O. was more to go with the flow. He enjoyed sex, but he never really initiated it with new people. After coming out, he had wondered if his passive approach to dating had been more about not dating people he was actually attracted to more than it being his style. But even with Ken, he had been pursued. He had certainly enjoyed being pursued more by Ken than the women he’d dated, but he hadn’t felt that instinctive pull toward anyone. There had been nothing in him that screamed for him to go for it or regret it.

Until David. Thirty seconds into their conversation earlier, Patrick had already begun planning how to ask David out. David had beaten him to it. That had to mean something more than David was ridiculously attractive. He’d met plenty of ridiculously attractive people before. Being in the MLB put him in circles with a high proportion of attractive people. But David. Yes, David was sexy as hell, but Patrick felt a different kind of pull to him. He wanted to learn what was beneath the pretty packaging.

Patrick pulled his cell phone out of the pocket of his nice jeans to check the time. It was five minutes after they’d agreed to meet. A spike of anxiety shot through him. He’d never been stood up before, but he supposed it was a little early for him to panic about that. Despite being a successful professional athlete, he felt like he was playing out of his league with David. Something about him exuded class and taste. 

David seemed like the kind of guy who knew how to match clashing prints in clothes in a way that worked, the appropriate number of throw pillows for couches and beds, and appreciated those fancy restaurants with a dozen courses of foam and infused air and single carrot sticks. Patrick had to hire someone to buy his throw pillows because Rachel had said he couldn’t keep living like a college bachelor as a thirty-year-old with money. She’d been right, but he hadn’t known where to start. He’d take a burger over a fancy multi-course meal any day.

Now that he thought about it, what would he have in common with David? He was a numbers nerd who played sports and grew up in rural Canada. David seemed like he fit right in with a Manhattan crowd or Hollywood. 

What did it matter anyway? They were on vacation and their trips overlapped, at least by a day. It’s not like he was proposing marriage to the guy. He was spending time with someone who piqued his interest instead of being alone.

“Hi, hi. Sorry I’m late,” David said as he neared the table. 

Patrick immediately stood. To do what? He wasn’t sure. Hug? Kiss on the cheek? The lips? No, that was too presumptuous, but his lips looked so dang kissable. “Hi, don’t worry. You look great.” He looked David up and down. David wore white skinny jeans with slits at the knees and a black linen short-sleeved henley. A patch of his chest hair was visible in the deep neckline. He wanted to run his fingers through it.

David cupped Patrick’s shoulder and leaned in, brushing his lips just out of reach of Patrick’s. He gripped the bicep of David’s other arm as he fought the urge to angle his head to capture David’s lips. And. Yeah. Wow. That was new. That brief touch lit up all of Patrick’s nerves. 

“Thanks,” David said shyly. “This humidity is wreaking havoc on my hair, and I couldn’t get it to mind. That’s why I’m late.” He reached up and cupped his palm over his wavy pompadour. “Normally I’m more put together.”

More put together? Impossible. “I think it looks great. I like the waves. It makes me wish I’d let mine grow out more.” Patrick ran his hand through his short hair. “The curls can be a pain in the ass sometimes.” He nearly said when I get all sweaty playing, and it looks terrible after wearing my ball cap all day. But Patrick didn’t want to talk about work. For once, he just wanted to be Patrick. Patrick, a numbers guy who played guitar and read autobiographies and loved craft beer and fell off of paddle boards around hot guys. Not Patty Brewer, shortstop for the Blue Jays, and one of the few out gay players in the MLB. He didn’t want David to form opinions about him based on his job. Patrick wanted David to form opinions on him based on himself alone.

“You could have curls and you keep your hair that short? That’s criminal, Patrick.” David studied Patrick’s head, and the attention made him flush. 

That flush cranked up a few degrees when he imagined David running his long fingers, adorned with his silver rings, through his curls. If he learned how to style the curls, he could probably get away with the baseball cap hair.

“My mom has said the same thing many times.”

“A woman of impeccable taste.” David’s dimple deepened as he slid his smile to one side of his mouth. He moved to sit down.

Right. They were still standing. Patrick cleared his throat and sat. He focused on spreading the white cloth napkin back over his lap as he collected his thoughts. Were they on a date? Or were they two guys alone on vacation who shared a meal? Patrick didn’t want it to be only that. He wanted to be on a date with the most gorgeous man he’d ever seen, even if it didn’t go anywhere beyond Patrick getting to stare into David’s eyes as the sun fell in paradise surrounding them.

They immediately fell into easy conversation. By the time they’d ordered drinks, David had shared a hilarious story about an annoying seat mate on one of his flights over, and Patrick’s nerves were forgotten.

“Do you want an appetizer?” Patrick asked as he tore his attention away from David to look at the menu. After the server had come by for the second time to check if they’d decided, he figured he should actually look at the food. 

“The lamb samosa looks good. Or the shami kebab.” David licked his lips as though he could taste the food. 

Patrick wanted to see his tongue again, and the thought thrilled him. For the first time in a long time, if ever, he wanted to pursue someone. He wanted to invite David back to his room for a drink and maybe more. The urge to undress David and feel the chest he’d admired earlier coursed through him.

“No octopus?”

David grimaced. “I had an unfortunate incident with an octopus on a trip to Greece a few years back. I’d prefer not to revisit that experience.”

“Fair enough,” Patrick said and chuckled. The expressions David made were more entertaining than any TV show he’d seen. 

They got their appetizer and main course orders in, and the server refreshed their drinks.

“Have you been to the Maldives before?” Patrick wouldn’t be surprised if he had. David had already mentioned traveling to several other amazing places that Patrick had only dreamed of. 

“No, this is my first time. I’ve wanted to come here for years, but it hadn’t worked out until now.” He swirled the straw in his drink. “I rarely get enough days off consecutively because of work, so Europe is often the furthest I go so I don’t waste too much time on a plane.”

“What kind of work do you do?” His shoulders tensed the moment Patrick said the words. They came so naturally because he wanted to know so much more about David. But, by asking David, he opened the door to having to answer that question. He was comfortable sharing anything with David, but he didn’t want to share that. Not yet. He tried not to show his panic by taking a sip of the fruity drink David had suggested.

David looked off toward the ocean. “Interior design.” He glanced at Patrick briefly. “I’m usually booked up far in advance, so my schedule is tight.”

Of course he was an interior designer. He seemed put together and like he’d have amazing taste. He definitely knew the right number of throw pillows. “It’s a good thing your schedule had room for this trip.” Patrick held out his glass for a cheers. “To making new friends on vacation.”

David’s dark eyes twinkled in the candlelight. “To new friends.” He clinked his glass against Patrick’s. 

Patrick couldn’t help his smile at the way David said friends. It sounded like an inside joke that he wanted to be in on. He tried to get out of his head and his own self doubt and watch how David looked at him. Everything about his body language said he was interested, or at least enjoying himself. Patrick sure as hell was enjoying himself, so he’d roll with it and see where the night went.

Their main courses arrived in time to stop Patrick’s panic. When Patrick tried to steal a bite of David’s snapper, David blocked Patrick’s fork with his own like an MVP goalie. Patrick tilted his head back and laughed at how pleased David looked.

“What kind of work do you do?” David asked as he broke off a piece of his fish. 

Patrick took a long drink to give himself a moment to think. “Accounting and business consulting.” The words tumbled out of his mouth.

“You’re pretty fit for a business nerd.” 

Patrick watched the fork slide between David’s lips. He swallowed thickly as David’s lips curve around the metal. Patrick blinked a few times as his brain caught up to the words. “Fit, huh?” Patrick grinned.

David tucked his lips between his teeth and rolled his eyes. “The paddle surfing. Clearly you’re athletic or whatever.” He waved his fork in Patrick’s direction.

He ignored the twinge of guilt at not confirming David’s assumption about Patrick being athletic. He didn’t exactly lie about his job. He made great money as a baseball player, but he wasn’t one of the top players and knew his career had a shelf life. When he got injured or his body couldn’t keep up, he’d have to find another way to make money. He’d tried to invest as much of his salary as possible so he’d be set for retirement, and he used his off-season months to build up a business consulting business that he’d work in full-time when he left baseball. Someday. He’d put that business degree to good use.

“Business guys can’t be athletic?”

David huffed and took a sip of his drink. “All I’m saying is I imagine it’s difficult to maintain a physique like yours with a desk job.”

Patrick dropped his elbow to the table and leaned forward. “A physique like mine?”

The way David’s mouth twitched as he clearly fought a smile enchanted Patrick. “Fishing for compliments isn’t attractive.”

“Are you complimenting me, David?”

“Okay!” David said. Despite his annoyed tone, Patrick noticed how easily his smile came after that as they finished their dinners and desserts.

The server dropped off the check a while later. “We will close soon, but the bar is open for a while longer.”

Patrick glanced at his phone to check the time. Whoa. They’d been there for hours. Time with David passed differently. He’d never been so comfortable with someone he’d just met before. The way they shared stories so easily and teased each other left him feeling like he’d known David for much longer.

David reached for the check with his speedy reflexes. Patrick covered David’s hand with his own. “My treat.”

David’s substantial eyebrows furrowed. “Why is it your treat? I’m the one who invited you to dinner.”

Patrick couldn’t argue with that. “Split?”

In a move that Patrick would think about for years to come, David turned his hand over so his palm pressed against Patrick’s. “How about you get dinner tomorrow?”

Patrick stared at his pale hand on top of David’s. He gently swiped his thumb across the heel of David’s hand as he curled his fingertips around David’s thumb. “How long are you here for?” He looked up at David and saw him looking down at their hands.

David’s attention slowly traveled up Patrick’s arm, chest, neck, to his face. He felt every inch like a caress. “Saturday. You?”

“Friday,” Patrick said, grinning. It was only Monday.

“Any plans this week?”

“Aside from more paddle boarding and maybe some snorkeling? Nah. You?”

David gently shook his head. “Though, I’m getting a few ideas,” he said, giving Patrick the sultriest look he’d ever received. Patrick couldn’t take his eyes off of the cupid’s bow of David’s upper lip and wondered how it would feel to run the tip of his tongue across it.

The server came back, and David quickly filled out the bill to charge it to his room while the server waited. Patrick’s heart thundered in his chest as he downed the rest of his cocktail. He wanted to be one of David’s ideas, and he had just about worked up enough nerve to suggest it.


🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


David folded the receipt and slid it into his pocket. “If you’re up for continuing this, we could get a drink?” He studied Patrick’s face. 

He was pretty good at gauging the signals when someone was interested in him, and Patrick definitely seemed interested. His gaze lingered a little too long on David, and he caught Patrick watching him in a way that made him feel adored, not creeped out. Patrick listened, like really listened, when David spoke. He’d shared stories about himself and asked about David in a way that felt like he wanted to get to know him, not simply do the bare minimum of niceties to get them to a point where they’d fuck and forget about each other.

Patrick treated him like this was not just a date, but their first date. Not that they’d met on vacation with a clear expiration date to their time together, but like he was simply so damn happy to be in David’s company.

David liked it, loved it, and wasn’t ready to give it up yet.

“A drink sounds good,” Patrick said and smiled. Beads of sweat dotted his temples, and he saw the reflection of the tabletop candle reflected in Patrick’s enormous eyes. Patrick pushed back his chair and stood. “Shall we?”

David stood from the table and bit back a smile when Patrick grazed his lower back with his fingertips. He knew he was sweaty there—how could he not be in such a humid place, even that late at night—but he liked the thought of Patrick’s touch more than hating his sweat. And that said something. He glanced at Patrick and smiled with a bit of teeth showing. Patrick rewarded him with a more firm press of his hand at the small of David’s back as they navigated out of the restaurant. The server thanked them, looking relieved, and waved them off.

He noticed they were the last ones in the restaurant. Oops. Good thing he’d left a large tip. 

David looked at the sign showing the bar was to their left, then looked to his right, in the direction of his villa. He could join Patrick at the bar and have another drink or two. Maybe get tipsy and kiss or go back to one of their rooms. Maybe flirt some more and make plans for tomorrow and build the anticipation.

Or. Or. Or he could invite Patrick back to his room for a drink and see what happened. Best case? They had great sex and maybe had some more sex this week. Maybe they had sex, then it was awkward, and they avoided each other. Maybe they didn’t have sex at all, but at least he could spend a bit more time with Patrick. Worst case, Patrick declined—politely, because Patrick seemed like he would be super polite about it—and David jerked off and passed out. 

Really, there was no reason not to invite him back to his room. David wanted to fuck, and he wanted to fuck Patrick.

“It looks like the bar is that way.” Patrick gestured toward the beach.

David licked his lips, and he saw Patrick’s attention immediately snap to the movement, then he licked his own. If that wasn’t an invitation, he didn’t know what was. He leaned forward and gauged Patrick’s reaction before going all the way. 

Patrick wrapped his hand around the back of David’s head and pulled him in. David smiled into the kiss as he stepped into Patrick’s body. It wasn’t a long kiss, but it held promise. A hell of a lot of promise. If a simple press of lips had David practically panting, he couldn’t imagine what more of Patrick would do.

He pulled back and opened his eyes to find Patrick smiling at him. He definitely wasn’t ready for the night to end.

“I know of another bar.” God, his voice sounded hoarse already.

Patrick still had his hand cupping the back of David’s head. He swiped his thumb over David’s cheek. “Yeah? What bar is that?”

“It’s very exclusive, over the water, requires an invitation.”

The way the skin around Patrick’s eyes crinkled as he smiled made David want to do anything to keep him smiling. “How does one get an invitation?”

“There’s only one way, I’m afraid.” He leaned in to kiss Patrick again. Still fairly chaste, but David put a bit more movement in his lips and let the tip of his tongue dart out to graze Patrick’s bottom lip. The little humming sound Patrick made went right to David’s dick. 

Patrick’s hand slid from David’s head down to his waist. “Am I invited to this exclusive bar now?”

“Mhm. Yeah. Yup. Let’s go.” He pushed on Patrick’s shoulder to turn him toward the path to the dock.

“Why are you in a hurry, David? Does it close soon?”

He glared at Patrick, but there was no heat in it. When they cleared the trees and reached the beach, Patrick grabbed David’s hand. He was so fucking sweet. Instead of playing it cool or trying to rip off his clothes, he seemed giddy. He kept glancing at David like he expected him to disappear or something. It would be easy to get addicted to that kind of attention. Not just attention, but attention from Patrick.

David reminded himself that they were both on vacation and didn’t really know anything about each other. Hell, he hadn’t even told Patrick about his real job. Sure, he was an interior designer with a busy schedule, but he left out some significant details. 

He loved simply being David, though. Not David Rose, TV personality. No one yelling his catch phrase, That’s incorrect! at him. No one trying to use him for clout. Patrick treated him like he was any normal guy who had the money to vacation in the Maldives. Treated him like a guy whose pants Patrick wanted in. He would happily accommodate that. 

“What kind of room did you get?” David asked as they reached the dock to the over-water bungalows.

“One of the duplex pool villas. They’re on the other side of the island.” Patrick shot him a teasing smile. That he could already tell Patrick’s teasing smile left him reeling a bit. “It’s two-stories. The bedroom is on the second floor with a nice balcony, and the pool outside the porch downstairs is blocked from the beach by a row of trees. The shower is outside too. It’s nice, but not quite as nice as these.”

“It sounds great.” Except for the outdoor shower. The possibility of bug encounter had put David off of those rooms when he’d booked.

“I’ll give you a tour.” Patrick squeezed his hand.

And, huh, that was something. Usually when David hooked up with someone, they were careful not to even hint at seeing each other again. David usually did the same, but he already wanted to see Patrick again.

As they approached David’s villa, nerves flared in his stomach. There were always nerves when it came to getting naked with someone for the first time, but these nerves were different. He wished he’d met Patrick at home so they had more time together. Or the opportunity for it.

At least they had a few more days together. That was probably for the best, actually. Long enough to have a great time, but not so long that Patrick reached that inevitable point where he tired of David. 

David pulled his key card from his pocket and unlocked the door. He pushed it open and tossed the card on the little table next to the door as he kicked off his shoes. “Welcome to the most private bar on the island,” he said as he flipped on the light. “What can I get you to drink?”

“Water?”

David gaped at him. 

Patrick shrugged and smiled sweetly at him. So he wanted to do this sober. Huh.

“Coming right up.” David bent at the waist to pull two bottles of water from his fridge. Did he have to bend at the waist? No, he could’ve crouched like he normally would’ve. But if he’d have done that, he wouldn’t have caught Patrick staring at his ass when he looked back. Busted. David grinned at him, and Patrick chuckled. 

Patrick walked over to the sliding glass doors that led to the pool and bathroom. “Mind if I check it out?”

“Not at all.” David followed him out there and handed Patrick the bottle of water. 

Patrick excused himself to the bathroom. David should do the same to freshen up. He kept his back to the bathroom and looked out over the nearly full moon casting shadows of the ocean. The water closet and shower were both completely private behind closed doors, but the wider bathroom they opened to—including the bathtub and sinks—were behind glass walls. He hadn’t thought about lowering the shades for privacy because he hadn’t exactly expected to bring someone back with him. Though, he probably should’ve prepared just in case. Maybe closed the bathroom shades and rummaged through his toiletry bag to see if he had any condoms leftover in there from his last trip. At least he’d thought to bring lube for jerking off. Lube he’d already used that afternoon to take the edge off.

After Patrick returned a couple of minutes later, David took his turn to relieve himself and freshen up. 

“This villa is amazing. It’s incredible to have a pool on the water’s edge like this.” Patrick looked over and smiled at him when he exited the bathroom. The moonlight made his eyes sparkle.

“It’s like being in the ocean but without all the toe-biting critters.”

Patrick laughed, and David basked in the sound. “Toe-biting? Sounds like there’s a story there.”

David huffed. “Not much of one. I made the mistake of having painted toenails on vacation once. We did a catamaran trip and snorkeling, and my toes became fish food.” A shiver wracked his body. “I still haven’t recovered.”

Patrick stepped into David’s space and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Don’t worry. I won’t let the fish bite your toes.”

With a bite to his bottom lip, David let himself drape his arms over Patrick’s shoulders as though they’d done it a million times. How something brand new could feel like muscle memory escaped him, but he leaned into it. “And how are you going to do that?”

Patrick pointedly looked back into the bedroom, then back at David. “I don’t see any fish in your bed.”

David looked at Patrick for a long moment and felt his mouth twitch. He held out as long as he could before the laughter took over. 

Patrick dropped his forehead against David’s shoulder and shook with laughter. “I’m so sorry. That was, I think the worst line in the history of pickup lines.”

He forced the laughter down and let his fingers toy with the short hair at the nape of Patrick’s neck. “Are you trying to pick me up?” David bit back his grin when Patrick looked back up at him. God, he could get lost in Patrick’s eyes. “Because I’m a sure thing.”

“Yeah?” Patrick licked his lips.

“Mmm.” David leaned down to gently kiss Patrick, but within seconds, Patrick pulled David against him and deepened the kiss. The tip of his tongue brushed over David’s bottom lip, so he opened up and moaned.

Patrick walked them back into the bedroom, only stopping when the back of David’s knees hit the bed. “Can I undress you?” Patrick’s voice was raspy.

“Yeah, yup. Please.” David’s head spun with Patrick’s gentle touches. The brush of Patrick’s fingertips up his abdomen as he pushed up David’s shirt sent a shiver down his spine. 

David was damn near panting and they’d barely touched, but the way Patrick looked at his bare chest and slid his fingers through David’s chest hair had him wrecked. They were down to their boxers in a flash. 

Patrick started to push David back on the bed, but he stopped him. “Wait, the comforter. I doubt a hotel even this nice washes them regularly. I don’t want to add our DNA to what I’m sure is quite the bouquet already.”

“Your sexy talk is really working for me,” Patrick mumbled against the skin under David’s ear. 

He froze for a moment. His filter must be on vacation too, because he’d normally never be that blunt. If he’d said that to Sebastien? Jesus. Seb would’ve said he was disgusting and probably pushed him down on it, anyway. 

Patrick looked up at him with laughter in his eyes, and all of David’s hesitations washed away with the water he could barely hear lapping over his breathing. He knew little about Patrick, but he’d learned enough to know Patrick wasn’t like the other people David had dated. He seemed nice and caring and thoughtful and not a shallow asshole.

Then again, in some ways he felt like he knew Patrick better after one date than some people he’d dated for weeks. David had opened up to Patrick over dinner. He may not have shared his job, but he shared a hell of a lot more with Patrick than he had with others. He hadn’t even meant to. It’s like Patrick’s earnestness acted as a truth serum.

Usually, his conversations with people he dated focused on talking about people they both knew, the hottest restaurants and clubs, fashion, gossip. He’d spent so many years in the tornado of Hollywood that he’d forgotten how good it felt to be himself. He was starved for authenticity, and there came Patrick like a doctor’s prescription.

He’d let himself let loose and be, well, himself, around Patrick to get it out of his system. Then he’d go home and go right back to living in a layer of superficiality. 

“Do you want the comforter off or folded down?” Patrick kissed along David’s jaw. 

He asked like he didn’t care about the answer. Like Patrick truly didn’t mind, and he’d do whatever David wanted. 

“F-folded down is fine.” He moaned as Patrick licked across his Adam’s apple. 

Patrick nipped at his jaw, then stepped away and moved to the side of the bed. He carefully lifted off the top pillows and moved them over to the bench tucked against the wall. David admired the ways his shoulders stretched with his movements. He’d already seen Patrick in only his board shorts earlier. Now he understood how truly horrific those swim trunks had been. Not only was the pattern horrific, but the length hid Patrick’s incredible tree trunk thighs. David wanted to do things to those thighs. His hips jerked involuntarily.

Patrick must’ve caught the motion because he looked down at David’s hips, then bit his bottom lip. His attention crawled up David’s body, and David sucked in a breath. He’d never been looked at like that before, like he was a bottle of water and Patrick was stranded in a desert. 

Patrick walked over to him. “You’re beautiful, David.” Patrick said it with a level of sincerity that had David squaring his shoulders and sucking up every ounce of attention Patrick gave him.

“Thank you,” David whispered against Patrick’s lips. He held on as Patrick wrapped one hand around the back of his head, and his other hand slid around David’s waist and moved up his back. He pulled on David until their chests and groins pressed together. And fuck, Patrick was already hard. As hard as David.

Patrick gently dragged his fingernails down David’s back as he kissed him deeply, palming David’s ass and squeezing, pressing them even closer together. He moaned at the delicious friction of his cock rubbing against Patrick’s hip.

“Bed. Bed, now.” David pushed at Patrick’s shoulders.

Patrick laughed into David’s kisses as they tumbled onto the bed. He was quickly growing addicted to the sound of laughter during sex, which was something he never thought he’d tolerate, let alone enjoy.

He laid on his back and pulled Patrick on top of him. He needed to feel the weight of Patrick’s body on his own, the press of his hard cock, the tangle of their legs together. 

David lost himself to the sensations of Patrick. He ran his hands over every bit of skin he could touch. Patrick’s muscles were borderline ridiculous. They weren’t showy, like he worked out for appearance, but sturdy like he gained them as a side effect of something else. He probably spent his weekends hiking or rock climbing or something. 

They were both sweating in the humid air, and Patrick’s natural musk was basically an aphrodisiac. Patrick ground his hips into David’s, and the friction was so fucking good, but he wanted more. The layers of cotton between them were too much.

He slid his hand underneath the waistband of Patrick’s snug, white boxers and squeezed his ass.

“Yeah, David.” Patrick pressed into David’s palm, then pressed back into David’s hips, over and over again like he wasn’t sure what feeling to chase. He mouthed at David’s neck, kissed his breath away, nibbled at his ears. Patrick didn’t stop moving, and David never wanted him to.

“Fuck, your ass is incredible.” David shamelessly squeezed both cheeks and experimentally pulled them apart.

Patrick moaned into David’s neck. “Yeah? You like it?”

David raked his fingernails across the bubbled mounds. “Eighth wonder of the world.”

“I hear this attraction has recently opened up for admission.”

David tilted his head back into the pillow to gape up at Patrick. “That’s worse than the last one!” He couldn’t help the laughter from spilling out.

“It’s a gift. What can I say?” Patrick cut off his own words with a firm swivel of his hips.

“Are you suggesting I fuck you?” David leaned up to kiss down Patrick’s throat as a couple of his fingers made their way to Patrick’s crease. 

“No.” Patrick kissed David deeply and thoroughly until David damn near forgot his own name, then pulled his knees up David’s side and sat up, straddling his waist. “I’m suggesting I fuck myself with that huge cock of yours.” Patrick moved his palms up David’s chest and stopped to play with one of his nipples. God, he loved to have his nipples played with.

David nodded rapidly and reached over to his nightstand to retrieve his lube, but he couldn’t get his wrist to turn the right angle to get into the drawer from his position.

“I’ve got it.” Patrick reached over, pausing to gently kiss David on his way, and retrieved the lube. “Condom?”

David turned to look at the nightstand like it would produce a condom. For how much he paid for the room, it should have a fucking artisanal sex basket of condoms and lube. He narrowed his eyes and glared at it for betraying him and stopping him from getting his dick inside of Patrick’s perfect ass.

“Fuck!” He dropped his head back on the pillow. “I don’t think I packed any.” He squeezed his eyes closed, so he didn’t have to see Patrick’s look of annoyance or disappointment. “Sorry.” 

A moment later, he felt Patrick shift on top of him, but instead of rolling away, David sucked in a breath as Patrick licked around his nipple. 

“Don’t worry. S’plenty of other things we can do. Don’t need ‘em.” He tugged lightly at David’s nipple with his teeth.

David cracked one eye open and sucked in a breath as he watched the tip of Patrick’s pink tongue swirl around his hard nipple. Fuck. Yeah. Okay. He was still on board with this. 

“Wanna fuck your thighs.”

Patrick’s head snapped up. “Fuck my thighs?”

“They’re sexy. Thick.” He slid his hands as far down Patrick’s backside as he could reach and squeezed the backs of his upper thighs. “Bet you’d squeeze my cock so good.”

Patrick responded by tensing his muscles, and David groaned. “I think I can do that.” He climbed off David and stood next to the bed. Without looking away from David’s face, he hooked his thumb in the waistband of his boxers and pushed them down. His glorious cock bounced forward. Thick, a slight curve, a bit shorter than David’s. Perfect.

David watched Patrick’s attention snap to David’s hands, where they dragged off his own boxers. He kicked them off somewhere to the side of the bed, then wrapped his hand around his aching cock and stroked it a few times. “Lube me up?”

 Patrick’s mouth curved into a grin as he bent down and leaned across David’s torso to reach the lube. David tucked his hands behind his head and watched Patrick straddle him again and pour a dollop of lube into his palm. He wrapped his big hand around David’s cock and drifted his hand from base to tip, leaving a slick trail in its wake. He used just enough pressure to make David’s toes curl.

“I wonder if the little store in the main building sells condoms,” Patrick mumbled, seemingly to himself. After a few more strokes, he stopped and squirted more lube in his palm.

Good thing he stopped because David was embarrassingly close to coming just by half a hand job. He watched with his mouth hanging open as Patrick reached between his legs and smothered the lube across his skin, then squirted more in his palm and let it sit for a moment—to warm up?—before spreading it on David’s lower stomach. He couldn’t manage anything more than blinking, and he watched Patrick take charge and get them ready. God, was that a whimper? It’s just that Patrick was so fucking gentle in how he spread the lube, and no one had been gentle with him in a long goddamn time.

Patrick stared at David with lust filled eyes as he squeezed his thighs, which pressed David’s own together. And, fuck. His legs were even stronger than they looked. He’d love to get Patrick’s thighs on each side of his head as he forced his cock down David’s throat.

“Cmon, cmon.” David tugged at Patrick’s arms until he was sprawled out on top. He didn’t fuck like this too often. It somehow felt more intimate than penetration, so he usually avoided it, but he wasn’t scared of that with Patrick. 

Patrick reached between them and positioned David’s rock-hard cock between his thighs. He gripped David’s dick firmly and rubbed the sensitive head against his perineum. Patrick’s eyes fell closed and his mouth dropped open. “Fuck, that feels good.”

“So good,” he choked out.

“You’re so big. Long.” Patrick squeezed his legs together, but frowned. “Not tight enough.” 

David wasn’t complaining, but okay. 

“Wanna try somethin’.” Patrick looked so focused, and it was as adorable as it was sexy.

“What?” David let Patrick spread his legs, then he nestled between them.

“Since you’ve got such a long cock—” he gave it a long, slow stroke “—wanna try this.” He grinned and grabbed David’s left hand, and placed it behind his knee. As he reached for David’s right hand, the head of Patrick’s cock brushed against David’s hole. Fuck, fucking fuck. He’d never forget to pack condoms again.

Patrick mumbled something that sounded like need condoms next time. Next time? They hadn’t even finished fucking, and he might want to do it again? Whatever David had done to cross paths with that guy, well… thank god.

Patrick put David’s right hand behind his right knee. “That okay? Can you hold them?”

“Uh-huh. For now.”

Sitting back on his heels, Patrick took a long, slow look at David’s exposed body. If it wasn’t for Patrick’s fuck me eyes, David would feel incredibly vulnerable in that position. “David, I don’t think this is going to take long.”

Wow. Okay. Yeah. If he kept talking like that.

Patrick scooted as close as he could to David’s pelvis, knocked his knees together, and angled David’s cock down to slide it between his thighs. He collapsed onto David’s torso and bracketed David’s head with his sexy forearms. 

“Unnf,” David grunted. The pressure of his thighs was so goddamn tight. Patrick gave an experimental thrust as he panted into David’s ear. David’s dick slid across Patrick’s perineum. “Yeah. Fuck. Fuck. Just like that.”

Patrick fucked David in short thrusts—somehow finding the strength to keep his thighs squeezed tight as his cock rubbed against David’s belly. He clutched the backs of his knees, squeezing hard enough to leave marks, as he did his best to thrust up into Patrick’s thighs with the little leverage he had.

David needed Patrick’s mouth on his. He already craved it more than sex with just about any of his past partners. It’s like Patrick was made to turn him on.

As he barreled toward his orgasm, David prayed a mirror would magically appear so he could watch the flex of Patrick’s thighs and ass as he fucked David’s cock. The hottest thigh fucking in the history of the world. David knew he had a sizable cock, but feeling how its length slid along Patrick’s thick thighs? He’d never been so grateful to be blessed in the dick department before.

“So fucking good,” Patrick said against David’s lips. At that point, they weren’t doing more than sharing breath.

He was close. So close, but he needed more. He needed his hands on Patrick. David planted his feet on the bed and reached down to grab Patrick’s ass. He spread his cheeks apart and fucked into his thighs in sharp bursts.

“Yeah, yeahyeahyeahyeah.” Patrick pushed his ass in to David’s hands. 

David could take a hint. He was almost fucking there. Just a bit more. Maybe if- he rubbed his dry fingertip against Patrick’s hole and let it catch the rim. Patrick tilted his head back and groaned. David felt it in his own chest, followed by warmth on his stomach as Patrick came. His thighs clenched tighter, and David followed him over the edge, coming on the backs of Patricks thighs. His beautiful fucking thighs made for fucking.

When the panting calmed and the come began to cool, David expected Patrick to roll off of him and make some excuse to go. But Patrick continued to be full of surprises. He tucked one arm under David’s shoulder and slid his other hand into David’s hair and kissed him. Kissed him like they hadn’t just gotten off. Kissed him like he wanted to do it a thousand more times. Kissed him like he wanted David to know he cared and had fun.

He scolded himself for jumping to conclusions about feelings and focused on kissing Patrick back with everything he had while he had him. But eventually the reality of drying come was enough of a distraction that they needed to deal with it. 

“Roll off. I’ll get us a towel.” He pushed at Patrick’s shoulder. He’d become a dead weight. Comforting dead weight, but immovable nonetheless. 

“Mmkay.” Patrick kissed David’s cheek then rolled onto his side.

It took David a second to get his balance and bearings before he tried not to walk like he was completely fucked out. He definitely failed when he rammed his shoulder into the edge of the glass patio door, and Patrick laughed.

“Shut up.”

“Didn’t say anything.” God, he sounded so fucking fond. 

I’m not going to get attached. I’m not going to get attached. 

David turned on the shower to quickly rinse the come and sweat off. He kind of wished Patrick was there to join him, but hookups didn’t shower together after orgasms. 

A minute later, he dried off and wrapped a towel around his waist, then ran a hand towel under warm water. He grabbed a dry one to be considerate. If Patrick ever figured out who David was, he wouldn’t have him thinking David Rose as an inconsiderate fuck. 

When he reached the bedroom, he found Patrick laying there with a pillow under his head, snoring softly. He had no right looking that adorable while sleeping. Long eyelashes fanned over his cheeks, his chest with a sparse patch of hair rising and falling gently, his mouth curved into a faint smile. 

David didn’t have the heart to wake him up, but he also didn’t want to touch Patrick without him being awake and aware of it. Though, it would be a dick move to let the come dry in Patrick’s body hair. He walked to the side of the bed and gently cleaned the backs of Patrick’s thighs. 

“Thanks,” Patrick mumbled, but he didn’t open his eyes. “You’re nice.”

“Never been accused of that before.”

Patrick chuckled softly and burrowed deeper into the pillow. Dammit. David definitely didn’t have the heart to make him fully wake up and leave. He looked so… content. He finished cleaning Patrick off and went back to throw the dirty towel on the bathroom tile floor.

David took his time going through his skincare routine and getting ready for bed. Either Patrick would wake up and make his excuse to leave, or they’d both fall asleep and Patrick would wake up in the night and leave. 

He wasn’t really sure which would be worse. Going to be alone or waking up alone. That was tomorrow David’s problem, he guessed.


🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


The first thing Patrick noticed when he woke was how hot he was. Hotter than the last couple of mornings in the Maldives. It didn’t seem to get muggy until later in the morning, and he’d found it to be fairly breezy when he’d woken up. But, damn. He was sweating. 

He cracked open one eye to see a mess of dark wavy hair fanned over a crisp white pillowcase.

Right. David. David David David. 

The sexiest man he’d ever seen and the best sex of his life. Patrick bit his bottom lip and grinned up at the ceiling. 

That was way more fun that the couple of other hook-ups he’d had. Maybe casual sex was something he could get into. As his brain came more online, he stated to see how maybe he wasn’t built for it because he already wanted to see David again and again. He wanted to get his number and make plans to see each other when they got back home, even though he didn’t even know where David lived. With how many parts of North America he traveled to for work, it wouldn’t be that hard. Despite all the things they’d talked about last night, they hadn’t covered locations. Then again, he hadn’t exactly been forthcoming with some of his basic demographics. He’d been open about the important things, the meaningful things, but not his job or location.

David sniffled and burrowed into Patrick like an animal seeking warmth on a frosty night. He realized his leg was draped over David’s legs, and David’s arm was wrapped around Patrick’s waist. They were tangled up like a pair of octopi. Octopuses? 

Fuck it. He slid his free arm across David’s back and snuggled closer. He didn’t know if David even wanted him there, but he’d take cuddling anytime he could. Especially with someone so soft who smelled good. 

He definitely should’ve probably left last night. He hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but he’d come so hard and couldn’t have been expected to have rational thoughts after such life-changing sex. If David had wanted him to leave, he probably would’ve woken him up and said he had some sort of sleep disorder that involved a lot of kicking or something. 

Instead, David slept practically wrapped around him, which could have been a holdover from his last relationship. But maybe, just maybe, it was something else. Patrick sure as hell hadn’t been a sleep cuddler with Rachel or Ken or anyone else he had dated. 

David rubbed his face against Patrick’s chest. The stubble scratched his skin, and he loved it. Loved it, loved it. He loved it so much that he leaned forward and kissed the top of David’s head.

David mumbled something and yawned. Shit. He shouldn’t have done that. Way to be a creepy hookup, Brewer. Sleep over without being invited and kiss David’s head while he was sleeping. It wasn’t his fault, though. David’s seemingly constantly emotive face looked so relaxed, peaceful. He couldn’t stop looking.

“Warm,” David said accusingly.

Patrick couldn’t help but laugh at the way David sort of frowned when he said it, but tightened his arms around Patrick anyway like he needed more warmth.

David stiffened. Dammit. Patrick braced himself for the awkwardness. “Good morning,” he said gently, not releasing his arms. If it was going to be awkward, it sure as hell would not be because of him. Because if he were being honest with himself, he felt better in David’s arms than he had in a long, long time. If it took flying halfway across the world to feel it, he would not give it up yet.

“I’m surprised you’re still here,” David whispered as he blinked a few times. He didn’t pull away though, and Patrick counted that as a win.

“Do you want me to go?” Patrick’s heart thundered in his chest as he waited for David to reply. Several moments passed.

“No,” David said even more softly.

“Good. I don’t want to go either.” He rolled onto his back and pulled David against him.

“Yeah?” David said against his chest.

“Here’s how I see it.” Patrick swallowed and gathered his courage. “We had fun, right? I mean, I had a lot of fun.” His lips pulled back in a smile. “Here, but at dinner too.”

He felt David smile against his chest. “Me too.” 

“And we’re both here for a few days. We’re both single and on vacation alone,” he said hesitantly.

“So far, I agree.” David’s scratchy morning voice was so sexy.

Patrick went all in and ran his fingers through David’s wild and thick hair. “What if we keep hanging out? I’d rather have dinner with you than alone.”

“I- You would?” David looked up at Patrick, and his espresso eyes were even more hypnotic in the soft morning light. 

“Absolutely. It’s either we keep spending time together, if we want, or we try to avoid each other on this tiny as hell island to avoid any awkwardness. We’re on vacation. Why let things get awkward?”

David dropped his cheek back down against Patrick’s chest and rubbed his thumb against Patrick’s bicep. “Awkward encounters are not a good vacation vibe.”

“Bad vibe, indeed.” He felt so happy and free. “So, we agree?”

“What are we agreeing on, exactly? Agreeing to.” David yawned again. 

Did “vacation romance” sound too corny? A fling sounded too dismissive. “Spending time together. Doing whatever sounds fun. We’re on vacation, so let’s have fun on vacation.”

“Okay.” David’s dimple deepened.

“Okay. How about I get some coffee going and order us breakfast?” He wasn’t naïve enough to expect they’d spend all of their time together, but he wasn’t ready to part ways yet. 

“Mm, perfect. I’ll just stay here while you do those important things.” David kissed Patrick’s skin just below his nipple, then rolled onto his back. 

Patrick missed the weight of him immediately. “Food preferences?”

“Nothing with mushrooms.”

“Got it.”

“Something savory.” David smacked his lips. So cute.

“You got it.”

“No, something sweet. Savory. No, sweet.” He frowned and looked over at Patrick. 

“Okay, David.” He’d order both. David deserved both. He was so damn charmed.

Patrick wished he hadn’t had fallen asleep naked. He had no shame about his body, but it was different being naked around people outside the locker room or outside the, uh, heat of the moment. 

If he was going to spend more time around David, he figured they’d be naked a lot. Might as well get used to it. He threw the bedding back and stood.

David made an encouraging sound. “Your ass is incredible.”

He looked over his shoulder and smirked at David. “I’ve been told it’s like the eighth wonder of the world.”

“Mm, they sound wise.”

“Very.” He found his boxers and pulled them on. He relieved himself in the bathroom, then ordered breakfast and made coffee. Patrick caught David smiling when he ordered a cinnamon roll and a savory crepe for him. 

“They said it’ll be here in a half an hour.” He poured a cup of coffee and walked over to the bed. 

David rearranged the pillows and sat up against the headboard. He made grabby hands for the coffee as Patrick approached.

Since they were doing this, Patrick went all in and roll with his instincts. He kept the coffee out of reach and gave David a chaste kiss, then handed him the mug. Patrick was rewarded by a flush on David’s cheeks.

“I want to try out your pool.”

David rolled his eyes, but his dimple deepened. “Because it’s so different from yours?”

“It could be. How will I know unless I try it?”

“You don’t even have your fugly board shorts.”

Patrick pressed his open hand to his chest. “Fugly? I can’t believe you’d disrespect them that way. They’re Tommy Bahama, I’ll have you know.” He grinned at David’s grimace.

David threw the covers off of him with his free hand and stood from the bed spilling no coffee. “If you have a pair with cocktail drinks on them, I won’t be seen with you.”

Patrick stepped into David’s space and wrapped his arms around David’s waist. “Who says I want to be seen by anyone. We’ve got a bed and access to room service.” He kissed a trail up David’s neck. “What else do we need?”

David tilted his head back, and Patrick took advantage of his exposed throat. “Condoms.”

Patrick laughed. Giddy knowing that David wanted him too. He kissed David’s cheek while he took a sip of his coffee, then turned and walked out to the pool. The sun beat down on his skin. He knew he needed to get some sunscreen on, but he’d give himself a few minutes in the pool first. 

He heard David squawk from the bedroom when Patrick walked into the pool.

“You’re wearing underwear!”

“I can’t go naked, David. There could be people paddle boarding. It’s a very popular path.” The cool water was the perfect balance to the humid air. 

Movement caught his eye to his left, and he turned to see David walking into the bathroom. They locked eyes, and David shook his head before closing the door to the toilet. 

He moved to the edge of the pool and leaned out over the ocean. He’d debated reserving the over the water bungalow—Ken had wanted it—but Patrick couldn’t justify the extra cost when the other room had a private pool, too. It seemed so exposed when he’d looked at the photos online, compared to the villa he’d reserved with tall bushes giving his pool privacy. He felt exposed, sure, but it still felt private somehow. He loved it.

“Have I mentioned how nice your ass is?”

“A time or two.” Patrick looked back over his shoulder and watched David descend into the pool wearing those same tiny white swim shorts. “Have I mentioned how incredible your legs are?”

“No, but feel free to tell me how much you love them. I’m very vain.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Patrick grinned, then turned to look at the ocean landscape in the clear water.

“Those boxers are practically pornographic. Hugging your bubble butt and all see-through.”

“You complaining?” Patrick croaked out when David’s thumbs pressed against the edges of his crease. David moved his thumbs up Patrick’s crack, almost but not quite dipping inside.

“We’re definitely going to need to find some condoms.” He moved his hands around Patrick’s hips and linked his arms. He pressed against Patrick’s back and hooked his chin over Patrick’s shoulder. “After breakfast, though.”

Chapter Text

David relaxed into the padded table as the warm seaweed wraps worked their magic all over his body. He hadn’t catalogued all the aches until he was forced to lie there without distraction. Forced to think about why his body was sore and all the things he did with it last night and this morning. And the things he did with Patrick’s body. Patrick’s perfect, strong, energetic body.

Earlier, while laying in his bed with a belly full of breakfast and the taste of Patrick lingering in his mouth, he had considered canceling his appointment because he wasn’t ready to part from Patrick yet. They’d made plans for dinner, but David was already trying to figure out how he could spend as much time with Patrick as possible during their remaining days together. 

Which was scary as fuck. He was on vacation to be by himself, and you know, self care. He wasn’t about to change his plans for someone else, because David had done that far too often with Sebastien. Though, he might try to change a couple of his other spa treatments this week to include Patrick. It would be nice to get a massage together so they could go back to one of their rooms and undo all of that relaxation. That felt like a reasonable compromise. 

It made David nervous that he was already so eager to spend time with Patrick. A day of good dinner, great company, fun flirting, and fantastic sex, and he was already a lovesick puppy for some guy he wouldn’t see again after Friday.

Maybe that was part of the magic—the deadline to their fun. Without the pressure of trying to figure out if Patrick liked him or if he liked Patrick and would their schedules line up and would the press say bad things about them and would Patrick have some dirt the paparazzi would dig up, he could just enjoy himself.

That’s what his vacation was all about. Enjoying himself. 

Having a few days with Patrick without expectations or pressure was what he needed. He could be himself without the baggage of his career and lifestyle. 

David enjoyed the rest of the seventy-five minute treatment. He’d begun to doze off when the clinician came back in to gently rouse him. She gently talked him through removing the wraps, directed him to the shower, and asked if he would like to visit the heated pool before leaving. Heated pool? Yes, please.

She led him out to the back of the spa where an L-shaped pool overlooked the white sand beach and ocean. Steam gently rose from it. 

David scanned the pool and spotted familiar shoulders. “Patrick?”

Patrick turned around and beamed at David. “Hey. How was your treatment?”

David grinned and walked over to the pool as seductively as he could, which hard to do when what he wanted to do was skip over there. “So relaxing. What are you doing here?”

Patrick shrugged. The movement drew David’s attention to his shoulders. David had never cared so much about shoulders before. “You made it sound so relaxing, so I swung by to check out the services and ended up getting a manicure.” He held up one of his hands and gently waved his fingers.

“A manicure? I didn’t expect you to be a manicure kind of guy.” He waded through the water and enjoyed the way Patrick’s gaze wandered down David’s torso. He squatted down in the water and crowded between Patrick’s knees. Patrick scooted back on the underwater bench and widened his legs. 

“I like to get them once in a while during the off—” He cleared his throat. “Winter. The winter months. Dry hands in Ontario, you know?”

David grabbed his hand and intertwined their fingers. “Proper cuticle and nail care is important.”

One side of Patrick’s smile turned up. “It had been a while since I got one, but I thought it might be appreciated this week.”

David bit his bottom lip. “Oh? How come?”

Patrick took his free hand and ran it down David’s back to cup his ass. His fingertips teased the crease between his cheeks in the short swim trunks. “I’ve got a few ideas.”

“I’d be interested in hearing about these ideas.” David loved the fire in Patrick’s eyes. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so desirable. Not because of his name or his job or his status or his money, but him. He was already addicted to the feeling. 

“You’ve made your thoughts about my ass quite clear.” 

David leaned in and kissed Patrick’s shoulder. “Mm, good.”

“And I believe I’ve made my thoughts on your legs as clear.” Patrick tipped his head back against the edge of the pool as David kissed up his neck, taking advantage of being alone in the pool. 

“You have.” David nipped at Patrick’s earlobe. 

Patrick lifted his head back up and licked his lips. He leaned forward until his lips brushed David’s ear. “I’d love to see your long legs wrapped around my waist while I finger you open for my cock.”

David’s entire body shivered. “Yes. Yup. Let’s do that. Now.”

Patrick leaned back and chuckled. The little shit. “But I’m enjoying our pool time.”

“We both have pools in our rooms,” David grumbled. 

“Not heated ones.” Patrick arched one of his pale eyebrows.

“The sun is super fucking hot. We don’t need the heated pool.”

“Patience, David,” Patrick said in a low voice.

David would do anything Patrick said if he used that voice. He moved to sit next to Patrick and sighed dramatically as he draped his elbows on the pool’s edge. David would never admit it, but he loved the delayed gratification. Did that count as edging? He didn’t want to climb out of the pool with an erection, anyway.

For several minutes, Patrick peppered kisses across David’s shoulder and made filthy promises. 

“The pool is through here. Help yourself to any of these towels. You can leave them in this basket, the changing rooms, or take them back to your room.”

David turned at the unfamiliar voice and saw a young couple being led into the pool area. 

“Wow, honey, this is amazing.” A petite blonde bounced on her toes. She had a slight English accent. 

The couple greeted Patrick and David as they entered the pool. David wasn’t interested in sharing the pool with strangers. He was much more interested in getting Patrick naked. But they still needed to track down condoms. 

David tried to ignore the couple as he and Patrick talked quietly to each other. The filthy promises had shifted to sharing stories about past vacations, and David’s sides ached from laughter. 

“Are you two on your honeymoon, too?” The young woman treaded water nearby. 

Ugh. Vacation small talk with strangers was bad enough, but trying to navigate the person’s assumption about a guy he’d only fucked a couple of times? 

He didn’t dare look at Patrick’s face. The fastest way to kill his arousal would be to see a hint of fear or being uncomfortable there.

But then an arm wrapped around David’s waist. “Not on our honeymoon. Just on vacation.” He said the words easily, casually, and pulled David toward him.

“We got married last week.” She held out her ring and wiggled her fingers. Her husband rolled his eyes good-naturedly.

“Congratulations,” Patrick and David said simultaneously. Then they looked at each other. David took a mental snapshot of Patrick’s sweet smile.

She told them about their wedding. Her bubbly personality reminded him a little bit of Alexis, but with even fewer personal boundaries. 

“How did you two meet?” She asked eventually. 

David had tucked himself under Patrick’s arm as they’d listened to the story. He stiffened at her question. 

“We met on vacation.” Patrick looked at David and grinned, then kissed his cheek.

“You two are the absolute cutest. How many years have you been together?”

“Years?” David croaked out.

“You two have that happy, been together for years, vibe.”

They did? He looked down and smiled to himself. He hadn’t had that experience before. David had been told he looked stiff and awkward around people he’d dated. 

Then there was what Stevie had said after Seb dumped him. That David never looked or acted settled with him. That he always seemed jumpy, or like he was sitting down with half of his body off a chair, ready to bolt. 

But one day with Patrick and he looked like he’d been with that man for years? The wonders of a vacation.

He risked a look at Patrick and found him smiling softly as he looked at David. Patrick leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss to David’s lips. That- that was a lot. Passionate, steamy, sex-fueled kisses were his comfort zone. Using bodies and getting off. Chaste kisses weren’t about getting off. Chaste kisses held feelings.

“Come on, Suz. Let’s leave them alone.” Her husband pulled her into his arms and kissed her.

“I think that’s our cue to give the honeymooners some privacy.” David stood and walked out of the pool. He needed to get Patrick naked and out of his own head. 

They walked together to the lockers to grab their belongings. David dried off, then pulled out his phone, room key, T-shirt and black joggers. When he turned toward Patrick and slipped on his clothes over his wet swim shorts, he said, “do you have any plans before dinner?” They already had dinner plans, and he certainly didn’t expect Patrick to spend the entire day with him, but he wouldn’t mind some sex before they filled up on delicious food. Especially if they found some condoms. He didn’t want Patrick’s manicure to go to waste. 

Patrick pulled a small bag out of his locker with the resort’s name on it, then looked up at David and winked. “Your place or mine?”




🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


“I need you in me, David.” Patrick pressed David up against the wall as soon as they got inside the door to David’s villa. He’d never needed someone so bad in his life.

“Fuck. Yeah, okay.” David sounded breathy.

Patrick sucked in a breath as David’s hands slid underneath the waistband of his board shorts to cup his ass. David spread his legs and pulled Patrick against him. His cock began hardening quickly as it rubbed against David’s. 

He kissed every part of David he could reach while not moving too much to interrupt the steady rhythm of their hips grinding against each other. 

“Bed, bed, now, now. Pants off.” Patrick backed away from the wall and pulled David with him. He tossed the bag of condoms on the bed. He’d bought two boxes, just in case.

“So bossy.” David grinned at him.

There was fire in David’s eyes. Patrick responded on instinct. “You like bossy? I can be bossy.”

“Ilikebossy,” David said on an exhale, as his pupils dilated. 

“Good. I like being bossy.” He liked it a lot. Especially with the heated look on David’s face. Patrick enjoyed being a switch and vers, and he’d happily take control to keep David looking at him with that hunger.

He carefully grabbed the hem of David’s white T-shirt, which became see-through in spots where his skin was still wet from the pool. Patrick slid his hands up David’s torso and pushed the shirt with it. “Arms up.”

David obediently lifted them, and Patrick carefully removed his shirt. He walked over and draped it over the back of the chair. He stood back and took in David’s gorgeous body. He’d seen much more of it already, a couple of times, but the drops of water clinging to the wiry curls on his chest and the way his joggers hugged his long legs were as hot as David fully nude. Patrick took a slow walk around David’s body so he could admire the curve of his ass.

He gently dragged his knuckles down David’s spine and smiled at the way David sucked in a breath and shuddered. As much as he’d love to see David’s gorgeous legs wrapped around his waist as he fucked into him, he wanted David’s cock in him even more.

Patrick slid his hands between the waistband of David’s swim shorts and his hips. With slow, steady force, he pushed the damp material down David’s body, squatting as he went. When the clothes reached David’s ankles, he kissed each of David’s asscheeks and let his breath ghost over his crease.

“I love your ass.” Patrick slid his hands up the back of David’s legs, then cupped his ass—a cheek in each palm—and gently pulled them apart. “And as much as I want in there—” he smiled to himself when David clenched and released “—I fingered myself open before going to the spa and we can’t let that go to waste, can we?” David’s body convulsed, and Patrick widened his tongue and licked a long stripe up David’s left asscheek.

“You wh- what?” David’s voice broke. 

Patrick loved how receptive he was. How into it David was. “I think you heard me, David.” He moved around to David’s front. “I’d like you to get on the bed and get yourself nice and hard for me while I get undressed.”

Patrick had learned the importance of sex negotiation and communication with Ken. It was one of the things he felt grateful for about that relationship. Since he and David hadn’t negotiated anything, Patrick would keep his bossiness on the light side. If David was into it, maybe they could talk about taking it further another time. Or maybe David could boss him around. He pressed the heel of his hand to his cock at that thought.

David’s mouth fell open as he watched Patrick’s groin. 

“Can you do that for me, David? I’d really love to ride your thick cock.”

David’s face snapped up, and his mouth slowly curved into a grin. “Fuck.” David snagged his bottom lip with his front teeth. “I’m so into this.”

Patrick appreciated the check in. “Me too.” He loosely wrapped his hand around David’s hard cock. “Get yourself ready for me.”

David turned and pulled down the comforter, then climbed onto the bed. Patrick knew David was sticking his ass out more than necessary, and he admired the view. Patrick stood still as he watched David pile the pillows together and lean back against them, sitting partially upright. As soon as David got settled, he wrapped his long fingers around his cock and looked at Patrick.

Patrick felt confident and reckless. He’d never felt like that before. Not without having been with someone for a while or the crutch of a few drinks, at least. Definitely not in the middle of the day with a man he barely knew. It was different with David. Or it was different in the Maldives. Vacation Patrick wanted to have fun and wasn’t overthinking things like he usually did.

Once he had David’s full attention, he lifted his T-shirt over his head. Instead of immediately dropping his hands, he let the shirt fall to the floor, then slid his hands down his chest, stopping to twist his nipple. As soon as he did, David mirrored him, seemingly not even aware of it. When Patrick reached the waist of his board shorts, he untied them, then slowly pushed them down his body. 

David audibly sucked in a breath, and he sped up his strokes. 

Patrick gathered his clothes and David’s, then opened the patio door and draped the clothes over the lounge chairs to dry in the sun while they fucked. He wasn’t normally the kind of guy to walk around outside fully nude, but there wasn’t anyone around. And it kind of thrilled him.

“Oh my god. You’re so fucking hot, Patrick. The way the sun is hitting you right now.”

David’s tiny swim shorts slid off the chair. Feeling bold, Patrick bent over at the waist, ass toward David, and picked them up.

Get in here,” David said in a strangled voice. 

Patrick glanced over his shoulder. “I thought it was my turn to be bossy?”

David growled. Legitimately growled. Patrick stood and turned around, wrapped a hand around his cock, and loosely stroked. 

“Get yourself nice and slick for me.”

Without taking his eyes off of Patrick, David fumbled around the nightstand with his left hand. Patrick slowly walked toward the bed as David searched for the lube. A few moments later, when Patrick reached the foot of the bed, David held it up like it was an Olympic Gold Medal.

“Got it!”

“You did good. Now rub some on your hard cock for me.”

David squirted some into his palm and grinned while tugging his bottom lip into his mouth. “I can’t wait to get inside of you.”

Patrick crawled toward David on the bed, stopping to kiss up his leg, nuzzling the inside of his thighs, exhaling over his balls. “I can’t wait too,” he said against the crease at his pelvis. 

Normally he’d drag it out by rimming or blowing his partner into oblivion before getting penetrated, but he needed David now.

David’s hand slid up and down his cock, squelching with the heavy coating of lube. Patrick reached over and grabbed one of the condom boxes as he licked one of David’s nipples. 

“Can I finger you?” David’s voice had dropped an octave. 

Patrick groaned against David’s chest. It wouldn’t take much to finish getting him ready since he’d gotten a head start earlier. But yeah, fuck. He wanted every part of David inside him he could physically manage.

“Fuck yeah.” He surged forward and kissed David hard. They clashed tongues and teeth as Patrick straddled David’s waist. The head of David’s cock bounced against Patrick’s hole in a tantalizing tease of what he’d get in a few minutes. 

By the time David had a finger sliding inside, all Patrick could do was pant into his mouth. There was barely any resistance with the one finger, and Patrick moaned at two. David’s long arms reached around Patrick’s hips easily. 

“Three. Gimme three.”

David chuckled as he rubbed the tip of a third finger against Patrick’s rim. Teasing, taunting, toying with him. 

Patrick bit at David’s shoulder. “In me, in me, inme.

As David slid a third finger inside, he reached between them to stroke Patrick’s dick. 

“Fuck, oh fuck,” he panted against David’s neck, kissing the skin as he could manage.

“You’re so fucking hot. The sounds you make.”

Patrick couldn’t even stop to be ashamed at how easily he responded to David when he felt so damn good. “I’m ready. So ready.” 

“Yeah?” David released Patrick’s dick and moved the heel of his hand up Patrick’s stomach. “Then get on my dick.”

Patrick sat up and grinned. “Making me do all the work, huh?”

“You’re the boss right now. Seems like the boss should be in charge.” David pulled his fingers out of Patrick’s ass, and he immediately missed the fullness. 

Patrick licked into David’s mouth. “Better hold on.”

 David gripped Patrick’s thighs and dug his fingernails in just shy of too much. Patrick loved it.

Patrick moved down David’s legs and grabbed a condom package. He tore it open and looked at David. The expression on David’s face left Patrick wanting to show off a little. He’d never felt sexier in his life. 

He unrolled the condom a bit to make sure he knew what direction it was going. Then he dragged his index finger up David’s cock, from base to tip, and gathered some lube. While holding David’s eye contact, he rubbed it over his lips.

“Wha-?” 

Patrick was grateful Ken had taught him this trick. He lifted the condom into his mouth and pressed the tip against the back of his teeth with his tongue. He winked at David, inhaled, opened his throat, then slid the condom over David’s cock in one swift motion. 

“Fucking holy fuck what the fucking fuck!” David’s hand slid into Patrick’s hair. Not pressing him down, but a steady pressure, a solid presence. Patrick held as long as he could, then eased off, stopping to tongue underneath David’s cockhead. “You’re gonna kill me,” David hissed as his head thunked back against the wall.

“Don’t die yet. It’d be rude to croak before I’ve come.” 

David barked out a loud and startled laugh. As his laughter slowed, he gave Patrick a thoughtful look. “I’m not used to laughing during sex and it being… okay.”

Patrick’s heart seized. Patrick loved laughter during sex. That was one of the ways he knew he really clicked with someone. “I’ll be sure to give you plenty of things to laugh at.” He sat up and leaned forward to kiss David, probably a bit softer than he should. But their thing was about fucking, not feelings, so he squirted lube in his palm and slicked up David’s cock.

David tugged at Patrick’s legs. “Now, come on, fuck me.”

Patrick straddled David’s waist, reached behind himself, and gripped David’s cock. He slowly lowered himself onto it. “Fuck. You’re so hard.”

“Have you seen yourself?” David said, exasperated. 

“You inspire me,” Patrick said on an exhale once he was fully seated. He dropped his head onto David’s shoulder as he adjusted to the thickness of David’s cock. It was even better than he’d expected, than what he’d thought about nonstop for the last day. 

David kissed his forehead, his temple, his cheek. “You’re so tight. God, so fucking tight.”

“‘Course I am. You’re thick.” The biggest dick he’d had. Ken wasn’t thick, but longer than average. The few other guys Patrick had been with were average, and it had been fun. But David? Damn.

David dug his fingertips into Patrick’s hips. “Flattery will get you everywhere.”

He could tell David was doing his best to hold back. Patrick moved his hips in a slow rotation to stretch a bit further. He couldn’t help the groan that came out of his chest. Lifting up his head, he nipped on David’s bottom lip. “Ready?”

“Fuck me,” David whispered against his mouth.

“Gladly.” Patrick used the lower body strength he’d been steadily building for twenty years to pull himself almost off of David, then right back down. The impact punched a groan out of both of them. 

He did it again and again and again until their chests, slick with sweat, slid against each other.

“So good. So fucking good.” Patrick licked into David’s mouth.

“Yeah?” David bent his knees and planted his feet on the bed. The change in angle hit Patrick’s prostate.

“Oh god.”

“Call me David.”

“Fuck you.” Patrick grinned and shifted his legs so his feet were ahead of him instead of behind him. 

David smirked and wrapped his arms around Patrick’s waist. “Ready to come? Wanna feel you.” David thrust his hips up into Patrick’s.

The angle hit him right where he wanted. He wrapped his arms around David’s neck, tilted his head back, and held on as David pounded his prostate with deadly accuracy. “Fuck me, fuck me! F-fuck me.” When David licked his nipple, Patrick lost it. “Gonna come.”

“Yeah, come on,” David said, panting. “Lemme feel you grip my cock with your tight little hole.”

David’s sex talk sent Patrick careening over the edge with an orgasm so strong he saw spots when he squeezed his eyes closed. 

David slowed his pace as Patrick rode the aftershocks. No, he didn’t want that. He wanted David to fuck him hard and fast until he came.

“Don’t you fucking stop. Fuckmefuckmefuckme.” 

“Oh god. Okay, okay.” David shifted his hands to cup Patrick’s ass and pulled his cheeks apart. David fucked up into Patrick, and Patrick loved every second of it. 

Overstimulation had never been a thing for him, but now? He wanted David to use him until he came. If he could get hard again that soon, he definitely would. He held on for dear life and tried to lick at David’s ear, but was bouncing so much that all he could manage was the tip of his tongue flicking against his lobe every few thrusts.

“Yeah, oh god, yeah, yeah.” David’s hips stuttered as he came, and Patrick tried and failed to clench around him. David’s pace slowed, and Patrick tightened his arms around David’s shoulders. 

Patrick slid his fingers in David’s hair and angled his face up to kiss. The deep kiss slowed into something more gentle. When David’s arms went slack around him, Patrick lifted off and collapsed next to David on the bed.

“Wow.” David slid down the bed until he was horizontal, too.

Patrick turned his head toward David and grinned. “Yeah.”

Their fingertips brushed, and David hooked his pinky over Patrick’s. 

David turned his head and looked at Patrick. “So glad you found condoms.” 

“Me too. My turn next time?”

David’s eyes went wide for a moment. “You want a next time?” He sounded more hesitant than Patrick had heard him so far.

It took an immense amount of strength, but Patrick managed to roll to his side so he fully faced David. “Were you not here for what just happened or what? Of course I want a next time. If you do.”

David chuckled, then looked outside. “I’m not used to people sticking around.” He cleared his throat. “For more than one night,” he said, shooting Patrick a quick glance.

How anyone could stay away after the pleasure of a night with David, Patrick would never understand. Patrick had never felt more alive, more himself, than in David’s company.




🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


David straightened the collar of his shirt and spritzed his cologne in the air. He was still moderately shocked Patrick still wanted to have dinner after the incredible sex they’d had that afternoon. A part of him figured Patrick would make polite excuses once the sex fog cleared.

He closed his eyes and smiled. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had sex as great as that. There was something about Patrick that let David relax in his presence. Instead of being focused on how he looked and made his partner feel, he could focus on just having fun. A lot of fucking fun.

David loved sex. Loved it. Sex with Patrick? An entirely new level. He couldn’t wait until after dinner. They’d spent the last two nights together, which was probably a bad idea, but he couldn’t imagine wanting to waste any opportunity for time with Patrick while he had it. While they were in the vacation bubble, he’d take everything he could get. 

He still had twenty minutes until he was supposed to meet Patrick for dinner. The fact that he wasn’t only on time, but early to get ready showed how excited he was. 

While he had a bit of time, he decided to call Stevie to check in. As his manager, he figured she was fielding a lot of bullshit so he could take a vacation, but her silence since he’d sent her proof of life after arriving on the island was sending his anxiety into a spiral. Though, as he thought about it, he was surprised it took him two days to call her. He must have really settled into vacation mode. Or great sex with a great guy mode.

Stevie picked up on the third ring. “It’s before seven in the fucking morning. You’d better be in the hospital.”

He sat at the foot of his bed and grinned. “If by hospital, you mean a villa over the ocean with a private pool, then, yes.”

“Asshole.” She sighed loudly, and he heard a cupboard slam closed. “What do you want?”

“Is it wrong for me to want to hear the voice of my best friend?”

“When I’m your best friend, you text. When I’m your manager, you call. You called.”

She knew him too well. 

“I just wanted to know if there was anything going on.” He heard her kitchen faucet running.

“Of course there’s stuff going on. Invitations to fancy shit, spokesperson offers, interview requests. The usual.”

He swallowed. “Nothing… bad?”

“No. No article, yet.” Her voice had gone a little soft, and he appreciated it.

“Good.” He swallowed the lump in his throat. The tip they’d received from their contact at People about a reporter considering doing a profile on Sebastien didn’t bode well for David. 

“How have your first couple of days been? Load up on sleeping pills and wake up under a pile of snack wrappers?”

“No. I’ve had a spa treatment and am about to go to dinner, thank you very much. Self care and all that shit,” he said.

“Solo dinner in a paradise surrounded by couples. So jealous.”

“Mm.” He straightened the pillows on his well-used bed.

“What’s with the tone?”

“What tone?” David squeezed his eyes closed. “It’s probably an issue with the connection. I’m basically in the middle of the ocean.”

“Have you met someone down there?” Stevie sounded eager. 

“I’ve met several people. The person who checked me in, the person at the spa who did my—“

“You met someone!”

David dropped in one of the armchairs in front of his bed that faced the patio and enjoyed the light breeze swinging by the sheer, white curtains. “Fine. I met someone. It’s not a big deal.”

“Since you woke my ass up before my alarm, I expect details while I caffeinate. Proceed.”

So he did. He told her about the hot guy who fell off the surf paddle thingie, dinner, the sex, the amazing sex. 

“Damn,” she said.

“Yeah.” Spilling it all left David feeling a bit raw. Hearing it all spelled out like that was, well, it was kind of a lot. He’d known the guy for two days and was spending more time with Patrick than he usually did with the people he dated.

They were operating in a different world. Some sort of weird vacation bubble where time and expectations and fears didn’t work the same way.

“This sounds like more than two people taking advantage of a little vacation fun.”

“I barely know him. It’s not more.”

“David, I know you. I know every person you’ve dated for the past five years, and most of the people you’ve fucked. I’ve never heard you sound this… happy.”

“Of course I’m happy! I’ve had like five orgasms in two days that I didn’t have to do myself.” He didn’t want the conversation to turn serious. He was just having fun with Patrick.

Stevie sighed, and the sound got under his skin. “Be careful, okay?”

“We’re using condoms.” He knew that’s not what she meant.

“You know that’s not what I mean.”

“I’m not getting attached. I’m letting loose a little while the stakes are low. I get to be David for a week. Not David Rose, celebrity interior designer, but David. It’s… nice.”

“I know,” she said softly. “But be careful. Are you sure he doesn’t know who you are? I hate to say this as your friend, but I have to as your manager. How do you know he’s not going to take this to a tabloid? Has he taken photos?”

David hated that she asked it and hated that he was glad she did. Most of all, he hated how fast his mind ran through the catalogue of their time together that he’d already stored in his mind to recall in the future when he was sad and lonely and missing how he felt for those few days in the Maldives. Patrick had taken photos, but not of David. No weird cell phone placements on the nightstand or anything. 

“He doesn’t know who I am. Or if he does, give the man a fucking Oscar.”

“Okay. Just be careful.”

David sighed. “I will.” 

They hung up, and David shook out his body to clear himself of the lingering doubt Stevie had planted in him. He knew she needed to—it’s why he trusted her so much—but dammit. Not everyone was manipulative like Sebastien or cared about their reputation more than their happiness, like most of the people he knew in LA.

Patrick was a regular guy. A sweet, sexy man who treated David with respect. Patrick was the kind of regular guy David would never meet in his celebrity circles. 

Patrick was exactly the kind of guy David had been wanting to meet and who he’d probably compare everyone else to forever. Because for a few days, David felt like a regular guy, too.

Chapter Text

“Come on, it’ll be fun.” Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s waist and kissed the constellation of freckles across the back of his shoulders. 

“We just had breakfast. Isn’t there a rule about not going in the water for, like, three hours or something?”

“I think it’s twenty minutes and something tells me it’ll take you at least that long to get ready.” Patrick smiled against David’s shoulder at David’s indignant huff. “Anyway, you can’t come to the Maldives and not go in the ocean.” He kissed David’s shoulder again because he couldn’t get enough of the freckles. There was something about that natural, beautiful blemish that seemed to go against what he expected was David’s constant compulsion to look put together. He wondered what David looked like in his normal life.

“I’m pretty sure I can do exactly that.” David angled his head as Patrick’s kisses traveled up his neck.

“But why would you want to? The water is perfect, and the sand is white. Just a little swim.” Patrick smiled at the way David’s body relaxed in his arms. “Pretty please. I’ll make it worth it.”

“I’m listening,” David said, then turned in Patrick’s arms.

“You’ll have to trust me.”

David rolled his eyes, but the twitch in his mouth gave him away. “I guess.”

It had only been a couple of days of their vacation thing—hookup? fling? romance?—and Patrick was already addicted to the feeling of David in his arms. They’d spent most of their time the past two together. But in the small pockets of time when he was alone, his mind traveled with increasing frequency to mourning the loss of David that hasn’t even happened yet. 

Beyond the incredible sex, Patrick was having fun. So much fun. David kept him on his toes with his wit and never-ending barbs and gentle poking.

“I promise you won’t regret it.” He gave David a kiss filled with promise, then turned him by the hips and pushed him toward his suitcases. “Now get your swim shorts on.” A concern tugged at him, so he followed up with, “But no pressure. If you really don’t want to go into the ocean, you can watch me from a non-touching distance.”

He watched David’s shoulders relax, then David tossed a sultry look over his shoulder. “I didn’t bring only shorts.”

“Oh?” Patrick’s voice cracked.

Over a half an hour later, David and Patrick walked hand-in-hand down the dock from David’s villa and to the beach. It wouldn’t have taken that long except after Patrick saw David in his black swim briefs that hugged his hips and ass perfectly. He got carried away with kisses and a bit of groping. Then David had insisted on a thorough application of sunscreen all over Patrick’s body. He had to stop David from applying it to the skin covered by his board shorts or else they’d never leave the villa. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing, but he wanted to feel the sand between his toes and stretch out his body to swim in a way he couldn’t in their villa pools. And he wanted to watch David’s long, lean body move in the ocean. And maybe he wanted to lick saltwater off of David’s skin.

They were halfway around the island when David spoke. “Is there a specific place you had in mind for this swimming adventure or?”

He didn’t, beyond maybe not where there were a lot of other people. When they reached the beach in front of Patrick’s place, he stopped them. There were two people a couple of hundred feet down the beach, but that was it. The townhouse style villas lined that side of the island, but the tall foliage between each villa and the beach gave decent privacy, which worked out well for people on the ocean side of it too.

If things went south, at least they were near Patrick’s place. “How about here?”

David looked around them. “Looks like the rest of the beach. Works for me. Let’s get this over with.”

Patrick couldn’t muster up any annoyance at David’s dismissiveness. There were a couple of guys like that on his team. Ones who always had a sharp comment about everything, but with David, it seemed harmless. Like he was a stubborn kid who said they hated broccoli without trying it, but then realized they liked it and claimed they liked broccoli all along and it was their idea to eat it. He’d make sure David liked this broccoli. 

Patrick opened his waterproof bag and held it out for David. David looked at it like it was a polyester pantsuit, but he dropped his phone and room key in it, anyway. Patrick sealed it, buried it in the sand a little, then put their towels on top of it. 

He stood and gave David a playful look. “Come and get me.” He walked backward to the ocean, which he knew was a violation of basic ocean etiquette, but David would warn him of an issue. David had his back. 

“What do I get when I catch you?” David stalked toward him like a panther. His quads flexed with each purposeful step he took. His long arms hung at his waist, framing the way the black swimming briefs fit him perfectly.

The tide hit Patrick’s heels and quickly climbed up his calves as he continued taking steps back. “Guess you’ll have to catch me and find out.” He winked at David, then turned and walked deeper into the clear water. 

Moments later, Patrick heard a splash, then felt David’s arms around his waist. 

“Gotcha,” David whispered in his ear in a seductive voice. 

The sound shot right to his dick. The ocean wasn’t the most conducive place for a boner, but in that moment, he was consumed by the prospect of having sex with David in the water. Free and open. He turned around in David’s arms and wrapped his own around David’s waist as he walked them deeper into the water until it inched under the legs of his shorts. He squatted down and tugged David with him.

Laughing, David nearly fell on Patrick. “What are you doing? You’re going to get me all wet!”

Patrick kissed his shoulders and wrapped his legs around David’s waist. “We’re in the ocean. You’re already wet.”

“But my hair is dry and perfectly styled, thank you very much.”

Patrick didn’t point out David’s ongoing bitching about the humidity’s effects on his hair. He didn’t know what David’s hair usually looked like, but he loved the slight wave to it. Maybe before the week was over, he could get David to let it go fully curly for a bit before he hurried to style it after a shower. 

For the dozenth time that week, at least, he was tempted to Google David. He knew his last name since the staff greeted them both as Mr. Brewer and Mr. Rose, but he didn’t want to Google him. He would feel like a hypocrite if he learned more about David than David offered, while keeping his own secrets. Since David hadn’t said anything about baseball, he assumed David hadn’t looked him up for similar reasons.

David lowered himself further in the water until his shoulders were covered, then he cupped Patrick’s ass as he walked them deeper into the ocean. “Feeling frisky?” He leaned in and kissed Patrick’s neck.

Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s neck. “Around you? Always.”

David’s teeth tugged on his bottom lip and grinned. “There’s people out here.”

Patrick looked around. He saw a couple pretty far away and heard some music playing in the distance. “There’s nothing inappropriate happening.”

“Not yet.” David’s fingers inched toward Patrick’s hole on the outside of his swim trunks. “You have an exhibitionism kink or something?”

“No, but I do have a you’re all wet and warm and here kink.” 

“That’s a kink I can get into.” David took his mouth in a passionate kiss.

As Patrick lost himself to David, David, David, he felt water land on his head. That wasn’t the direction of the water. Another drop. More drops fell faster.

“The fuck?” David pulled back, and Patrick leaned forward to chase his lips. David looked up and squeezed his eyes closed as the raindrops pelted his face. “Oh my god! It’s raining!”

David stood abruptly, and Patrick fell back into the water like a monkey falling off a tree. David turned toward the shore like he was calculating how long it would take him to get to shelter.

Patrick reached out and grabbed his wrist. “Where are you going?”

“To somewhere I’m not getting assaulted with cloud piss, obviously.” 

Patrick tugged David until their chests slammed together. “Don’t go,” he said against David’s lips. “You’re already wet.” He moved his hands to grip David’s waist, letting his pinky slip under the waistband of his designer speedo. 

The rain fell harder. The warmth of it tickled his shoulders and trickled down the back of his neck.

“But my hair,” David said in a weak voice.

“It’ll dry. Come on. Make out with me in the middle of a rainstorm in the Indian Ocean. It’s romantic.”

David’s pupils widened, and he palmed Patrick’s ribs with his large hands. The tip of his thumbs skimmed the base of his pecs, teasing that he wasn’t close enough to Patrick’s nipples. 

“Okay,” David whispered.

Patrick crashed their lips together and pulled on David until their hips touched. He wrapped his arms around David’s back and get their bodies even closer together, but there wasn’t any air between them.

He lost himself to the sensations of David’s lips, their tongues tangled, the rain dripping down his back, the tide lapping at his waist, David’s hands cupping his head and jaw. He could spend forever making out with David in the ocean and feel really damn good about his life choices. 

The pull of touching David’s wet hair became too strong to resist. He moved his hand up so his fingers slid into David’s wet hair. His fingers gripped and tugged lightly, causing David to groan into Patrick’s mouth. 

Patrick was so damn hard it almost hurt. David’s hard dick pressed insistently into his hip. He’d do something about it if it didn’t mean pulling away from David’s embrace. 

David leapt back. “What the fuck? What the fuck was that?” He spun in a circle as he looked down in the water, sort of hopping between feet.

“What’s wrong?”

“Something touched me.” David gripped Patrick’s bicep as he moved to stand behind Patrick like he could protect him from the ocean.

“I was touching you?” He turned to look at David.

David glared at him. “Something in the water. Like a creature or something. Are there sharks here? Do Great White sharks live here? Oh god, we’re going to die. My body is going to become shark shit, and I’ll have to suffer through haunting this ocean forever. Watching other people have fun.”

Patrick cupped David’s cheeks and tried to hold back his laugh. “We won’t both die. The shark can only eat one of us at a time.”

“I hate you.” David let out a long exhale, like he was releasing steam as rain clung to his eyelashes.

“We’re safe. It’s probably the rain kicking up sand or something.”

David nodded absently. “Yeah. Okay, yeah. That makes sense.”

“I was thinking, can I—” Patrick felt something brush the back of his knee. “What the hell?” He jumped back.

“See! I told you!” David turned on his heel and hauled ass toward the shore. 

Patrick didn’t waste any time following him. He wanted to get David naked and definitely didn’t want whatever brushed his leg to brush other parts of them. 

Within a few minutes, Patrick had collected their now soaking wet towels, their completely dry phones (David rolled his eyes at Patrick’s smug look), and were squeezing between bushy plants to Patrick’s place.

“This is nice,” David said as he stepped through the privacy plants lining Patrick’s pool. “Private.” He shimmied his shoulders.

The rain eased up. “Want to take a shower? Wash the saltwater off?” Patrick trailed his fingertips down David’s spine, then draped the wet towels over his lounge chairs. He figured they would dry quickly once the rainstorm passed. 

“Mm, yes, please.” 

Patrick kept a straight face as he grabbed David’s hand and led him to the shower. David shot Patrick a confused look when Patrick didn’t take them inside his two-story villa. 

His villa was larger than David’s in square footage, but it shared walls with other villas. Sort of like town homes with a bit more privacy between their outdoor areas than townhouses back home. 

He had two showers. One inside near the toilet and the other outside, probably to wash off after swimming. But it was private, and the thought of showering with David outside was really working for him. The outdoor shower had a half circle of bamboo acting like a privacy wall.

“This? This is where you’ve been showering?” David grimaced as he studied it and the foliage growing over the bamboo and hanging in the shower space. “Aren’t there bugs?” He studied the large palm frond close to him.

“I haven’t encountered any yet.” He turned on the water, then shoved his thumbs in his waistband and pushed his board shorts down.

“Maybe this shower isn’t all bad.” David gave him an appreciative once-over.

Patrick stepped under the warm water and turned so his back was to the water. He let the water spray on the top of his head, and he lifted his hands to massage his scalp. He watched David watched his arms, so he flexed a little. He knew he had decent arms. The hours he clocked in the weight room back home ensured that. “Gonna join me or just watch?”

David blinked a few times, then pushed his swimming briefs down. His semi-hard cock bounced once it was free from the skin-tight suit. He stepped into Patrick’s space and claimed his mouth. The water poured over them as they touched each other everywhere. It was thrilling to be naked and together outside, but with enough privacy that the concern of getting caught wasn’t a real and distracting worry, but a distant, unlikely thrill. The rain and warm shower felt so good on his skin. Almost as good as David’s stubble. Their hard cocks rubbed against each other as they rolled their hips into a gentle rhythm, but he needed more. He wanted to give more. 

He swapped their positions so David was under the water. “I want to do something.”

“Anything,” David said. He sounded needy, desperate, unbelievably sexy.

Patrick spun David around and placed his hands on the bamboo wall, then dropped to his knees, dragging his fingernails down David’s back as he went. 

“Fuck,” David said, holding the vowel for a long moment. 

Patrick looked up and saw David craning his neck to look down at him. While holding David’s eye contact, he licked a stripe up David’s left ass cheek to give him a preview of what he had planned. 

David’s entire body shuddered. “Please.” 

He grabbed David’s ass and pulled his cheeks apart, and dove in. Patrick licked broad stripes over David’s hole, moaning at the hint of saltwater and sweat. He loved David’s taste everywhere. The long licks shifted to kitten licks and gentle probes of his tongue, stopping to seal his mouth and suck. Once David’s thighs began to quake, he pointed his tongue and fucked David’s hole. The way David whimpered spurred Patrick on. He seemed to barely contain his sounds, but he was managing. Patrick wanted to hear him loose control.

David’s back was arched and arms extended, probably propping himself up against the shower wall. He wasn’t about to pull back from David’s hole to look. He was a man on a mission, and that mission was to make David feel so fucking good he forgot his own name while never forgetting Patrick’s.

Patrick wanted to reach around or between David’s legs to stroke his cock, but he refused to let go of his ass. He gripped David’s cheeks to keep them as far apart as he could, so his tongue could get in as far as it would go. Patrick wanted to bury his face so far in David’s ass that he needed to pull back to breathe. 

But David wasn’t touching himself either, and that wasn’t enough for Patrick. He wanted David overwhelmed by sensations, so he pulled back. “Touch yourself. I want to feel you come on my tongue.” 

David groaned and his hips moved in gentle thrusts as he jerked himself forward and fucked himself back on Patrick’s tongue. Patrick was so fucking hard. He’d never been so hard in his life, but he didn’t care about doing anything with it because all that mattered in that moment was David’s pleasure.

He wiggled his tongue from side-to-side, forcing David’s hole to loosen for him. And, god, it did. It really did. David’s body sang for him every time he touched David. 

“Fuck, oh fuck, that’s s’good. You’re so good,” David said desperately in a low voice. 

Patrick eased out his tongue and dragged his scruffy cheek against David’s sensitive skin.

“Yeah, oh god, yeah. Do it again.” 

David would probably have permanent fingerprints of Patrick’s hands on his ass after that. Patrick scratched his cheek against the other side before targeting David’s hole again with licks and sucks. He heard David’s shallow breath over the rain and shower, and he speared his tongue in as far as it would go.

“Unnff.” David groaned, and his entire body jerked.

Patrick gripped David’s hips, spun him around clumsily, knocked David’s hand out of the way, then swallowed his cock until Patrick’s nose brushed the trimmed hair at David’s pelvis.

“Holy fucking fuck.” David gripped Patrick’s hair, and the shower water sprayed the top of Patrick’s head.

He bobbed his head a few times, gently, before David pulled him off. When David dropped back against the shower wall, Patrick forced himself to stand on wobbly legs. He hadn’t been on his knees that long in a while. It certainly wasn’t an offseason standard for him.

He gave David a soft, slow kiss. “Come on. Let’s get dried off.” Then maybe he’d do something about his aching cock.

Patrick picked up their swimsuits and pulled David toward his bathroom where the dry towels were. 

“Wait, you have an indoor shower? Why didn’t we use the indoor shower, Patrick?” David said when they reached Patrick’s bathroom. His voice was shrill, and Patrick loved it.

“The outdoor shower felt right.” He handed David a fluffy towel. “I didn’t hear you complaining. In fact, I don’t think any o of the sounds you made could be considered complaints.”

David arched an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything else. He dropped the towel to the ground, then dropped to his knees on top of it.


🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


David glanced over at Patrick and smiled. The relaxed curve to Patrick’s shoulders, the way his open, short-sleeved shirt billowed in the breeze as they walked, captivated David. Patrick walked with comfort, confidence. Patrick looked up, smiling. He was so in over his head. 

“That was fun.” Patrick grabbed his hand.

David looked down at their connected hands, nearly faltering his steps on the dock. His own Cuban collar shirt, open, and the hem shifted in the breeze, brushing their hands. 

He couldn’t believe he had joined Patrick in the open-shirt vacation vibe. That look wasn’t a fashion choice. It was the absence of one, but he was too relaxed to care.

“It was.”

“Regret not joining me in the snorkeling?” Patrick’s mouth twitched. 

“And get attacked by another slimy sea creature like this morning? Pass.” David smiled at Patrick’s laugh. 

When Patrick had suggested the afternoon snorkeling cruise, David had hesitated. He had zero interest in snorkeling, but he did have an interest in getting some sun somewhere near Patrick. He had been nervous about telling Patrick he didn’t want to snorkel in case Patrick was disappointed or tried to pressure him into it, but he hadn’t. He’d winked and said, “then you can keep an eye on my stuff.” And that had been it. Patrick just seemed happy to have David nearby.

David felt the same. It was scary how happy having Patrick nearby made him after only a few days together. Since they had passed the tipping point of more time having passed than remaining together, his thoughts drifted with increasing frequency to how much it was going to hurt when Patrick left on Friday. Two more days. One-and-a-half.

Patrick squeezed David’s hand in silent acknowledgement. Like that was a normal thing they did in their non-relationship relationship. Like they had been together for ages and formed their own silent communication.

To give them some credit, their communication had been pretty amazing from the beginning. Especially with sex. God, their sex. He’d never felt such bone-deep satisfaction before. Every time they had sex, it felt revolutionary.

He glanced back down at their clasped hands swinging between them. The casual affection from Patrick had tilted David’s world on its axis without him realizing it. With anyone else he’d been with, he couldn’t imagine hand holding without it being pre-negotiated and intentionally seen by someone or paparazzi. Patrick seemed perfectly happy to hold David’s hand, like it meant nothing, but it meant everything to David. Everything.

“Hey! That’s incorrect!” Someone with a masculine voice laughed after calling it out.

David’s head snapped up at the voice saying his tagline from his show, which was just him expressing himself until the marketing people turned it into A Thing. He felt like he’d been thrown off a cruise ship into the Arctic. Two young guys passed them. One smiled wide, the other mouthed an apology, then pushed the other one forward when the speaker seemed to want to stop and talk. Both looked at him, Patrick, then at their hands. 

Fuck. That wasn’t what he needed. He didn’t want Patrick to know about that part of that life. He didn’t want Patrick to get wrapped up in it, to be the latest guy on David’s arm and have his life harmed by tabloid speculation. David was used to being seen with known people. There was a hashtag dedicated to the A- and B-list (okay, and sometimes C-list) celebrities he was seen out with, kissing, dancing with. Seeing him in the wild with a random guy was probably a shock to those two guys. 

If it ended up on some tabloid website that he was on vacation with someone, he was going to be so angry. Patrick doesn’t need to get caught up in David’s ridiculous life—the cloud of speculation that followed him everywhere—even to the middle of the goddamn Indian Ocean. 

“I need to rinse off the salt water,” he said after they passed the two guys.

“You didn’t go into the ocean,” Patrick said, laughing.

He tried to squash his panic and feel normal. At least the new standard of normal he felt around Patrick. The definition of normal he’d been aching for as long as he could remember. 

“I got a very aggressive hug from someone who had been in the ocean.”

Patrick let out an exaggerated gasp. “You want to wash off my hug? I’m so offended, David.”

David rolled his eyes and tucked his smile to one side. “I’m going to take a bath.” He figured he’d give Patrick an out to have some time apart. 

He had already given himself a pep talk about not defensively distancing himself from Patrick. That was his usual M.O. When something seemed like it would hurt, he tried to control the pain as much as he could. But with this situation? There was no way watching Patrick leave on Friday wouldn’t wreck him completely. He’d gone into this fully knowing that possibility. From Patrick’s fall off the surfboard and their first real conversation in the library, he knew he was in trouble. David wouldn’t waste a single moment with Patrick because of his own self-sabotaging tendencies.

Instead, he’d leave a gentle opening for Patrick to choose to have some time to himself. Just because David wanted to spend every single moment with him didn’t mean Patrick wanted the same. David recognized his default was clingy; he’d been told that often enough.

“That sounds good. I haven’t tried your tub yet. Think it’ll fit both of us?”

David’s mouth fell open, but no words came out. He studied Patrick’s unguarded happiness. “Let’s find out.”

They walked off the dock and onto the sand. David looked back at the other guys. It would be fine. He was recognized, but it would be fine. It had to be. 

A while later, after David filled the tub and added some of the lavender bath oil he’d brought. He stepped into the tub and sat between Patrick’s legs, laying back against his chest. Patrick made a nice pillow. His pillow kissed his temple.

“This is nice.” Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s waist.

“It really is,” David said, then sighed happily as he looked out over the ocean through the window-wall that slid open. The salty breeze complimented the lavender.  

“I don’t remember the last time I’ve been this relaxed,” Patrick said casually, like the words wouldn’t absolutely devastate David in the best way.

David snuggled in closer. “Me too. Historically, I’m not great at relaxing outside of spa treatments with scheduled start and end times.”

“Is it really relaxing if it’s got a scheduled end time?”

“Mm, I’m on vacation. Not here to think about philosophical questions,” David said, letting his eyes fall closed. 

The rumble of Patrick’s laugh against his back relaxed him further. He tucked his hands under Patrick’s thighs. 

“How do you relax back home?” David wondered what Patrick’s life in Canada was like. When he was done doing his business-y things, how did he spend his free time? He seemed sporty. He probably liked hiking and camping and team sports. Ew. Maybe video games with his college buddies while he wore an old T-shirt and backward hat.

For a moment, David pictured himself in a cute boyfriend of a player outfit and going to Patrick’s community hockey league game. Giving him a massage after the performance to soothe his aching muscles. The image lasted mere seconds, but that’s all it took to create a permanent crack in the foundation of David’s heart.

“I’m not great at it,” Patrick admitted. “Usually beer and watching a game. When I have time, I like to go hiking, but it’s hard to find time to do that during my busy seasons.”

David wasn’t sure how Patrick’s job had busy seasons. Must be a tax thing. David had people for that, so he wasn’t quite sure how it all worked. 

“How about you?”

David focused on how the hair on Patrick’s thighs felt under his fingertips. “Also not great at it. My schedule is really busy.” His voice sounded surprisingly sad about it. He knew he hadn’t been the happiest for a while, but it was easier to cope with being less-than-happy when you didn’t know what happy actually felt like. It was easier when happy was an abstract concept he’d collaged together from rom-coms, romance novels, and his own imagination.

Now, David knew the shape and feel and warmth of happiness. It wasn’t his celebrity status or fashion or parties. It was- it was- not his lonely life in L.A. But that was his life and he had to stick with it. 

“I want to make more time to relax. I want to ease off my schedule a bit. I want more control over my life. I want—” He swallowed the lump growing in his throat.

“What do you want, David?” 

David focused on Patrick’s arms tightening even more around his waist, the gentle press of Patrick’s lips against his temple, how he felt in Patrick’s arms, and blinked away the tears forming in his eyes.

“I want to be happy,” David whispered, worried if he dared to say it at normal volume, the world might collapse around them. David Rose didn’t get happy. He got popularity and work and a reputation of being great at his job despite his eccentricities, but the price of that was his happiness. It was a deal he’d struck long ago.

Patrick moved one arm up and slid his fingers into David’s hair and gently massaged his scalp. “Me too,” he said eventually.  

David’s heart cleaved in two at the unfiltered want in Patrick’s voice. David couldn’t imagine Patrick not having happiness. He deserved all the happiness in the world. Literally all of it. So much of it he didn’t have anywhere else to put it because it took up every ounce of space around him. He couldn’t understand how anyone could meet Patrick and not want to give him the world. 

He’d known the man for days, days, and he was embarrassingly attached. All he wanted was for Patrick to have everything he wanted. If Patrick wanted happiness, he would do everything he could to make sure Patrick was happy in their remaining time together. If it left David a husk of a human at the end, at least he’d have his job to distract him until the pain eased into a dull ache.  

A tear escaped, and Patrick kissed it away without a word.


🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


Patrick ordered another beer and failed at paying attention to the football game on the television hanging over the beachside bar. 

It was impossible to focus on anything other than tomorrow being his last full day with David. He was terrified to let himself think about it too much because he didn’t want to drown in the sadness of it and impact the little time they had left. Two more nights. That sounded better. Except they’d sleep away most of that time. 

His mind spun from the day they’d had. Each day had built on the last. They’d spent two of them together, well, two-and-a-half and two nights. Today had been one of the best days of his life. Sure, a lot of that had to do with rimming David incoherent in the shower this morning and lazy hand jobs in the bathtub this afternoon, but it was so much more. It was David’s willingness to go in the ocean with him and stay there in the rain, the sight of David practically running out of the ocean when it got to be too much.

It was the almost defiant way David had said he wouldn’t snorkel when Patrick learned there were two openings in the afternoon snorkel cruise, like he was daring Patrick to push him. Patrick was quickly learning when he could push David and when not too, like a sixth sense. It was how David smiled sheepishly at him with a plate full of snacks from lunch on the cruise when Patrick found him after snorkeling. The way David playfully slapped his hand after Patrick stole a piece of fruit from his plate. 

Most of all, it was the way David opened up to him in the safety of the bathtub while they looked out over the gorgeous ocean. How they shared with each other and held each other until the water became too cold to ignore. 

Patrick had been emotionally connected to people and sexually interested in others, but he had never felt quite this type of collision of both of those connections in one person before. Not even with Ken, which went a long way to explaining why that had fizzled out. 

David Rose had stormed into his life like a hurricane of particular opinions, sex positivity, and affection. David’s affection began hesitantly, like a kid sneaking a piece of candy and expecting to get told off for it. But as they spent more time together, David’s affection came easy. So did Patrick’s. He could imagine walking through the farmer’s market near his house, holding hands, and listening as David gave thorough opinions on every vendor they passed. 

“Here you go.” The bartender sat the fresh beer in front of him.

“Thanks.” He took a long sip as he imagined David giving him a hard time about the taste of beer on his kisses when David joined him for dinner after his spa treatment was finished. Some sort of facial thing that Patrick didn’t understand. He rubbed his thumb across the nail of his index finger and smiled at the memory of his own treatment the other day and what came after.

“Good choice.”

Patrick looked over at the voice to his right and found a man a few years younger than his dad sitting next to him. David would hate the man’s Tommy Bahama shirt. “It’s a good one.” He noticed the man had the same beer.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect for beer down here, but it’s been a good selection. I can’t imagine the supply chain to get products all the way out here, but I’m grateful for it,” the man said.

“I’ve been wondering that myself.” He took another drink.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, both facing the TV. 

“I know you’re on vacation and you probably don’t want people approaching you or cornering you, but I just wanted to say it’s a pleasure to watch you play.”

Patrick’s shoulders tensed, and he glanced around to make sure David wasn’t nearby. “Uh, thank you. I appreciate that.”

The man nodded a couple of times, but didn’t take his eyes off of the television. He reminded Patrick so much of his dad when he was graduating from college years ago. In fact, when he took his parents on a post-graduation vacation to the Bahamas after signing with the Blue Jays his senior year, he was pretty sure his dad wore the same shirt. 

“This is probably even less appropriate, but my wife would probably kick my ass later if I didn’t take the opportunity to tell you that all you’ve done means a lot to us. To our family.” The man shifted slightly on his stool to face Patrick.

Patrick swallowed and turned a little toward the man. He was raised to not be rude, and clearly this guy had something he wanted to say. He was used to strangers rating Patrick’s game performance and reciting stats to him like he didn’t get that enough from his coaches, but sometimes people had a particular set to their jaws and seriousness in their eyes that told Patrick they were about to mention the other thing. The thing that felt like his duty to listen to as an openly gay man in a position of status. A status he used for good as often as possible. 

So he listened and waited.

“You probably hate people mentioning this in public because your sexuality shouldn’t be anyone’s business.” The man scratched his thumbnail against the edge of the coaster. “But because of your courage in being out, my son felt comfortable coming out to his team. To his parents.” He looked up and gave Patrick a half smile, tears in his eyes. 

Patrick forgot how to breathe.

“I didn’t know he was gay. I mean, we suspected, but he never said anything, had a high school girlfriend. Said he was too busy with his college baseball team to have a girlfriend there, but after you came out.” The man’s neck shifted as he swallowed. “When he saw your bravery, it gave him some, and I’ve never seen my kid happier. He’s even got a boyfriend now. A painter. Great kid.” He cleared his throat. “Didn’t mean to dump all this on you. Wanted to tell you I know it’s probably not easy, but it’s making a difference.” He tossed back the rest of his beer and stood, then clapped a hand on Patrick’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

“Uh, you’re welcome.” The words cracked when they left Patrick’s mouth. He didn’t know how to respond to the man’s brief speech. One he’d probably been going over in his head for as long as they’d been sitting near each other.

The man gave Patrick that knowing look only a dad could give. “Could you add his drinks to my tab?” 

“You don’t have to do that,” Patrick said.

“Least I can do for helping my boy feel good being himself.”

Patrick managed a smile. “What team does he play for?”

“Arkansas. Jeremy Boyd, shortstop. We’re hoping for some good news at the draft in January.” The man looked so proud.

Patrick made a mental note to reach out to Jeremy when he got home. He wished he’d had more openly gay athletes to look up to when he was growing up, and if he could be a support to young student-athletes, it was the least he could do.

The man turned to leave.

“Mr. Boyd,” Patrick called. 

The man turned back to him.

“It makes a difference when your parents make you feel safe coming to them with stuff like that. At least that was the case for me.”

The man’s eyes shone with tears in the sunlight. He nodded, smiled, then walked away.

Patrick tried to shake that slap of real life away. He wasn’t ready to face life outside the Maldives with David. He knew he’d be facing it in a day-and-a-half, had a ridiculously long flight to dwell over it, but not yet. 

He looked out over the beach and into the slowly lowering sun. He spotted a table in the distance with candles and a resort employee walking up with food.

“Hey, what’s that? Is that one of the restaurants?” Patrick asked the bartender when he came back to check on him.

“Private dining. You can arrange that at the front desk. It’s really romantic.” She smiled. 

“Thanks.” Patrick finished his beer and rushed to the front desk before David was done with his treatment. 

Chapter Text

Patrick carefully dipped the paddle into the water and pushed himself toward David’s villa. Seventy-two hours after first seeing David sunbathing, Patrick felt like a different man. 

If he were being honest with himself, it was the best three days of his life. Which was ridiculous. How could time with a stranger top thirty years of experiences? His logical brain couldn’t comprehend it, but his emotions got it. Thoroughly got it. Kind of to a level that he was terrified to examine. 

“Gonna fall in again?”

Patrick looked up and saw David sitting on the second-to-last step that went from his deck into the ocean. Patrick had taken a few swims from those stairs and into the ocean, but he hadn’t seen David try it yet. As much as he loved seeing David experience things, he loved learning his boundaries, too.

“Depends.” Patrick paddled closer to David. 

“On?” David smirked as he took a sip of his coffee. His hair stuck up all over, which was to be expected given how much Patrick had tugged on it last night while David had given him a five-star blowjob. His white T-shirt looked impossibly soft and, though he was sitting, Patrick knew intimately how great David looked in those grey joggers. The fact that David hadn’t worried about fixing himself up before enjoying coffee on the patio and letting Patrick see him did things to his heart. Big, scary things.

“Whether you’re going to distract me again.”

David’s face lit up, and he gave Patrick a toothy, sleepy smile. “How did I distract you last time? I was innocently sun bathing. Minding my own business.”

“Exactly. Those little white shorts and your long legs.” Patrick focused on not falling in again, just at the thought of David’s legs wrapped around him.

“Sounds like it’s a you problem not a me problem.”

Patrick paddled close enough to gently swat David with the end of the paddle. With surprisingly fast reflexes for someone who, not an hour before, said he was too fucked out to be expected to get out of bed while the hour was still a single digit, David grabbed the end of the paddle.

“You’re looking a little dry over there.” David arched one eyebrow.

“So are you. You dump me in, I’ll make a splash and that’ll hit you.”

David dropped the paddle like it burned him, which threw Patrick off-balance, but he caught himself before toppling in the water.

“What do you want to do today?” Patrick could have played coy and asked David if he wanted to spend the day together, but it was their last full day together. Patrick had to catch the boat in less than twenty-four hours as the start of a long journey back to Canada, and he wanted to spend every second with David. Dropping pretenses, he knew David did, too. But he wanted David relaxed and rested, so he decided to spend the morning paddle boarding while David leisurely came to.

“Spend time with you.” One half of David’s mouth turned up in a lopsided, shy smile, like he didn’t have the energy to be coy either. Like he didn’t want to waste any energy not saying what he meant in that sleepy moment before David’s day really started and his armor was in place.

Patrick still didn’t know David that well, not in the ways it seemed to matter to society anyway, since time was allegedly a major metric in how well you knew someone. But Patrick knew that David’s clothes and how he presented himself to the world were part of his armor in the same way he knew Patrick’s friendly nature was part of his own armor.

“Glad we’re on the same page, then. I’ll keep doing this for a while and give you time to wake up and get ready. Then we can do brunch?”

David nodded and looked over at the bathroom.

“Room service brunch?”

David turned back and smiled a genuine smile. “That sounds great.”

Patrick considered paddling around the tiny island in loops, but instead he paddled to a large palm tree at a bend in the island and back to David’s villa. Back and forth.

When he came back the next time, he saw David standing at the bathroom sink, brushing his teeth in only his joggers. He paddled close to the open wall in the bathroom. “Hey sexy.” He caught David’s smile in the mirror before he turned his head to Patrick. He loved David’s chest and shoulders and arms, god, his arms.

David spit into the sink, then rinsed it. “Hey pinky.”

“Pinky?” 

“Did you even put sunscreen on?” David rummaged through his toiletry bag and pulled out his sunscreen.

“Yes,” Patrick said a little petulantly. “I know how not to burn in the sun. I’ve been this pasty white my whole life.”

David walked to the sliding glass door in the bathroom that dropped off into the ocean where Patrick was currently hovering. “How did you get your back?”

Patrick opened his mouth, then closed it. 

“That’s what I thought. Can you get close without falling in the water?”

“I’ll try.” Patrick paddled close to the ledge outside the bathroom and held onto the privacy divider between the villas. He carefully spun around and widened his stance to keep his balance. As soon as David’s hands were on him, he moaned softly like a touch-starved man. Like he hadn’t woken up with David’s arms and legs wrapped around him less than two hours ago.

David thoroughly rubbed in the sunscreen to his shoulders, neck, arms, and back. Patrick focused on not falling over or collapsing, as his body relaxed under David’s expert hands.

A gentle kiss to the back of his neck snapped him out of his dreamy fog.

“There. Burn proof,” David said, then his stubble scratched the top of Patrick’s shoulder. “Because I don’t want your skin hurting later while I have my way with you.”

Patrick’s body shuddered. “Yeah. Good call.” He cleared his throat. 

“Now go do your sporty things and have fun.” David swatted Patrick on the ass.

“Thank you, David,” he said as he pushed off from the ledge.

“You’re welcome.” David pushed his smile to one side, deepening his dimple.

Patrick paddled back to the big tree, then returned to the villas. David had one leg propped up on the lounge chair as he rubbed sunscreen on his leg. Patrick’s gaze followed the white lotion as it disappeared into his skin, up the bend of his long legs and to those little white swim shorts that had featured prominently in Patrick’s dreams over the past three nights. Patrick dog whistled at him.

David looked up and winked at him, then straightened. Patrick’s mouth went dry. That time, he was allowed to brazenly ogle David in those swim shorts. He looked his fill and seared it into his memory bank. 

After another trip to the tree and back, his arms were beginning to ache a little and his skin was starting to tingle. He decided it would be his last pass. One more look at David before returning the board and paddle to the equipment rental.

He expected to see the sun reflecting off the bright white shorts, but he found the lounger laid all the way flat and David’s head toward the ocean instead of his feet. He saw a mass of dark hair, broad, freckled shoulders, bare hips, and a reflection in the closed glass doors to his room. A reflection of long, tan legs and the curve of his perfect ass. A naked ass. 

Patrick looked around, but it was just him. It wasn’t the most private place, but it wasn’t public either. The deck was surrounded on three sides by the bathroom, the bedroom, and a privacy screen that protected part of the deck from the open ocean and the part of the island Patrick had been paddling to and from. Patrick was on the fourth side.

“Holy fuck.”

David looked up, wearing the thick, white-framed sunglasses, and smirked. “See something you like?”

Patrick saw David’s ass wiggle in the reflection. “Hell yeah.”

David slowly lifted his hips, then gently thrusted them into the lounger. Patrick was not going to get a boner while paddle boarding. He would not.

Oh, god, he was. He was getting an erection. “You are such a tease.” He maneuvered the board to point toward the equipment return. 

“Is it teasing if it’s a sure thing?” David bit his bottom lip, then lowered his head back to the lounger. 

Patrick huffed out a breath and hurried to give back the board and paddle. He could be back at David’s room in fifteen minutes if he hustled. He was tempted to leave the paddle board on David’s patio steps into the ocean, but he didn’t want to deal with returning it later. He didn’t want anything to interrupt them.

He managed not to fall in the water while paddling. It was a miracle that he managed to be polite to the chatty person who took the equipment back. On his way to David’s, he’d stopped at one of the restaurants he passed to order room service to be delivered in about forty-five minutes. That should give them enough time to work up an appetite.

He speed-walked down the dock to David’s place at the far end. In the quiet late morning, the thunk of his sandals hitting the wood thundered in his ears almost as loud as his heartbeat. He was half-hard by the time he reached the door. He pulled out the extra key David had gotten made for him yesterday and let himself in. Patrick expected to see David’s bare ass greeting him through the glass doors, but instead he saw David’s broad shoulders and trim waist in the pool. David hung over the infinity edge, looking out at the ocean.

He was perfect. Gorgeous. After giving himself a few moments to memorize the view, he decided to permanently immortalize it by taking a photo. Patrick had snuck a few photos of David, and they’d taken a few selfies. When he was back home in the cold Toronto winter, he knew those photos and his memories would keep him warm at night. 

Patrick looked over at the box of condoms and quickly emptying lube bottle on the nightstand. They had used more lube in three days than he’d used in months on his own.  

Ever since he’d seen David in those little swim shorts on Monday, he’d dreamt of getting inside of him. He’d fingered David and rimmed him, but hadn’t penetrated him yet. David had asked him for it last night, but they’d come before they got to it. He’d promised to do it today, and what better time than now. With a wicked grin, Patrick formed a plan.

Patrick reached in his swim trunks and slowly stroked himself as he watched David and thought about the sex they’d had this week. It was ridiculous how fast he got hard. He lubed up his cock and slipped a condom on underneath his swim trunks before joining David in the pool with the bottle of lube clutched tightly in his fist.


🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


David looked back in the direction where Patrick kept paddling from, but hadn’t seen him return yet. Getting naked had been risky, but he thought Patrick would enjoy it. Judging by his strangled words, he had. Either Patrick needed to paddle off some tension, or maybe he fell in the water and drowned. 

After Patrick had promised to fuck him last night but ended up coming while he fingered David open—which was the biggest goddamn turn on of all time—David couldn’t stop thinking about it. He’d already been thinking about it a lot, probably since he first saw Patrick on Monday, definitely since he’d penetrated Patrick, and definitely definitely since last night. 

God, he needed Patrick to fuck him. He needed to feel that thick cock in his ass once before- before. Just once. At least once. He draped his elbows over the edge of the infinity pool and looked down at the white sand floor of the ocean in front of him. He could almost feel Patrick’s touch, like had been burned into him. David clenched in anticipation of Patrick’s return.

He heard footsteps on the deck, and he shot a coy look over his shoulder. “You’re back.”

Patrick looked focused, determined, and he had the biggest fucking tent in his dorky floral board shorts. “Your little show worked.”

“Worked? What do you mean?” David arched his back a little and smirked when Patrick’s attention shifted to his ass.

“You know what I mean.” Patrick stalked toward him and stepped down into the pool.

David braced for Patrick to tug him back to the bedroom. Wet bodies in a bed were incorrect, but he’d make an exception for Patrick. He’d make a lot of exceptions for Patrick.

Patrick squared his shoulders and moved toward David. Before David had time to spin around and tug him in, Patrick was on his back, kissing across his neck and shoulders, gripping his hips. 

David arched into him and moaned when he felt Patrick’s hard cock press against his ass. He swung his arm back to cup Patrick’s head and keep him there. 

Patrick began kissing across his bicep. “Shh. We don’t want our neighbors to hear you get fucked.”

David whimpered and squeezed his mouth closed. 

“Are you going to let me fuck you, David?” Patrick whispered in his ear. “Can you stay quiet for me while I finger you open?”

David nodded and fumbled with his shorts to slide them down. He looked around to make sure there was no one in sight. Beyond his already labored breathing and the sound of Patrick’s frenzied kisses across his skin, he could hear faint sounds of neighbors talking and playing music, otherwise it was quiet. 

Though the infinity pool made it feel like they were out in the open, the villa gave them enough privacy while still a thrill. 

“So eager for me, baby.” Patrick reached around and grabbed David’s cock as he nipped his earlobe.

Baby. David usually abhorred pet names, but coming from Patrick’s lips? He clutched the edge of the pool to stay upright.

Patrick grabbed him and stroked loose and slow. Enough to get him hard, but not get him off. Patrick was going to drive him absolutely wild. 

He heard the lube cap flip open and felt Patrick’s thumb slide into his crease and tug one cheek to the side. Moments later, Patrick’s finger traced over his hole.

“Oh fuck. Yes, Patrick. Yes. 

“Shh.” Patrick bit David’s shoulder. He barely managed to hold in his moan. 

Patrick pressed his fingertip in, and David pushed back to get more.

“Look at you. Swallowing my finger right up.” Patrick spoke in a steady, low voice. His warm breath tickled the hairs on the back of David’s neck.

“Want your cock.” David thrust back onto Patrick’s finger. “In me. Now.” He was absolutely desperate for it. 

“Soon. Let me work you open for me.”

David whimpered. “Yeah. Yeah, okay.” God, he sounded wanton.

Patrick kissed his cheek, like he was checking in. David leaned into it and nuzzled his face for a moment. Then Patrick pulled his finger out and soon returned with a second one. 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” David said, as quietly as he could. He reached one hand behind him to slide into Patrick’s shorts. He was met with rubber, not skin. He turned his head. “Condom?”

“I wanted to be prepared,” Patrick said playfully, his firm tone slipping.

David laughed. “Sexy.”

“Yes, you are.” Patrick curled his fingers, and David saw stars. 

Patrick pushed a third finger in. “Giving me a show.” He thrusted. “Your sexy sleep hair.” Thrust. “Joggers that make your cock look amazing.” Thrust. “Shirtless while applying my sunscreen.” Thrust. “Those fucking white swim shorts.” Thrust. “Your ass.” Thrust, thrust, thrust. “Your ass. Do you have any idea how hard it was not to jump off the paddle board and fuck you right then?”

David shook his head and gripped the edge of the pool. “Show me.” 

“Oh, I’m gonna show you. I’m gonna take your little white shorts all the way off, then you’re gonna spread your legs for me.”

David tried to spread them now, but the fabric around his thighs stopped him. 

“Then I’m going to slowly push my cock in you while you stay quiet for me. I’m going to fuck you up against the edge of this pool, looking out over the ocean. You’re going to come, and then we’re going to get cleaned up and enjoy the brunch that will be delivered in about thirty-five minutes. Okay?”

“Brunch?” He was confused, disoriented, and horny as fuck. 

“You’ll see. Let’s work up an appetite.”

Something about the ticking clock really worked for him. “Yes. Green. Please!”

Patrick pulled his fingers out. “If you can’t stay quiet, I can’t fuck you out here.” Though he spoke in full sentences, David could hear the desire coursing through every word. “If you want to be loud, we can go inside.”

David reached back and grabbed Patrick’s wrist and tried to push his fingers back in as he nodded frantically. He could stay quiet. He could. He wanted to. God, he wanted to.

Patrick chuckled and kissed David’s neck. “Let me get more lube in you.”

Such a clinical sentence shouldn’t be so devastatingly hot. David grabbed his ass and pulled his cheeks apart. He focused on the distant music—was that Tina Turner? He loved that song—and the feeling of Patrick’s fingers scissoring and stretching him out. 

His skin was on fire with sensations. The heat of Patrick’s chest against his back warming him differently than the sun beating down on the front of him. The cool water lapping around his waist helped keep him grounded. 

David couldn’t go another moment without Patrick’s cock in him. He wasn’t sure how he’d already gone this long. He turned his head. “I’m ready,” he whispered. “Fuck me. Please.” They’d done so much already. He needed this, too. Selfish, but he didn’t care. He wanted as many memories as possible with Patrick. 

Patrick pulled out his fingers, and David dropped his head between his shoulders.

“I know, I know. Hold on for me, sweetheart.”

David grabbed the base of his dick to stave off that familiar ache. Patrick being bossy and calling him sweetheart? It’s like Patrick was talking directly to his dick and working it like an instrument. 

He held on to the ledge of the pool as Patrick stepped back, pulled his swimsuit off one leg. There was something hot about the shorts hanging off his left ankle. He heard some rustling and light splashing, then felt Patrick’s big hands rubbing up and down the front of his thighs as Patrick’s cock teased at his hole.

Instinctively, David pushed back against it. Patrick wrapped one arm around David’s chest and held him steady as he started to push inside.

“Ever since I saw you in those shorts on Monday, I’ve wanted to do this.” He pushed in a little further. The width of his head stretched David open. “And then on Monday night? God, if we had condoms. I’ve been thinking about doing this with you so much this week.” Patrick’s voice stayed low and even as he whispered into David’s ear. 

How did Patrick sound so unaffected? David was on the verge of tears. “Me too. Want it so much.”

“I’m gonna give it to you.” Patrick pushed in slowly. “Your ass is perfect.” When his stomach was flush against David’s back, Patrick rested his forehead against the back of David’s neck. “You’re perfect,” he said, barely audible. 

David squeezed the base of his dick harder as his body acclimated to Patrick inside of him. Where the hell did Patrick come from? Who could be so fucking sexy and sweet at the same time? If he knew people like that existed in Canada, he probably would’ve moved back years ago.

He reveled in the delicious stretch of Patrick’s thick cock. “So big.” David gently rocked his hips minutely forward and back to get more used to feeling so full.

“You’re so fucking tight.” Patrick scratched down David’s stomach as his other hand came up to tease David’s nipple. 

As Patrick slowly pulled nearly all the way out and even more slowly pushed back in, David reached one arm up to wrap around the back of Patrick’s head. Patrick’s chest was pressed against his back and there was practically no air between them, but it still wasn’t close enough.

“I’m good. You can move.” He needed Patrick to move. Needed to feel the water slap against his skin as Patrick quietly thundered into him. 

Patrick ran his palms up and down David’s sides, fingers splayed over his ribs, while he made short thrusts in and out, almost like a warmup. It wasn’t enough. David reached back to grab Patrick’s ass but couldn’t get a good grip. He clutched on to whatever skin he could to try and pull Patrick harder against him, closer, impossibly close. 

He felt Patrick’s knees dig into the back of his legs for a moment, then he was overwhelmed by Patrick moving his hips in a circle instead of forward and back. It stretched David even further, hitting him in unexpected places. All he could do was hold on as Patrick lit him up like a Christmas tree from the inside.

David was hurtling embarrassingly fast toward a climax, so he tried to focus on the way the water splashed against his balls with each thrust, trying to swallow his moans, whether the rhythmic water slapping would be obvious to their neighbors, whether he cared. 

God, Patrick felt so good. So fucking good. He wished he could say it, scream it. Patrick deserved to know how Patrick made him feel more alive than he ever had before, but he didn’t trust himself to be able to say it at a volume fitting for anywhere other than trying to hold a conversation near a speaker at a rock concert. 

Patrick had such a glorious cock, and David needed it as deep as it would go. When Patrick was almost pulled out and gearing up for another heart-stopping thrust, David bent at the waist and used his ass to push Patrick back.

“Oh fuck, yeah, okay.” Patrick gripped David’s hips so hard he’d probably have marks for days. A physical reminder of his time with Patrick that would carry him home.

Yep. Nope. Definitely not the fucking time to be thinking about that. Jesus.

Patrick must have crouched a little because his cock drove in at a slightly different angle and so fucking deep that it knocked a groan out of David.

“David,” Patrick said in a quiet, warning tone. 

He lifted a hand that had been white-knuckling the pool’s edge and waved it around in silent acknowledgement and maybe gave a thumbs up or something? He wasn’t sure. He was getting his brains fucked out, thank you very much. 

It’s just that Patrick kept hitting his prostate like he was trying to win a giant teddy bear at a carnival playing the ring the bell game. Slamming that mallet hard against the base of the tower, each of Patrick’s powerful thrusts shooting him closer to his orgasm.

“Fuck, Patrick, fuck! Harder. Need it harder.”

Patrick stilled and gripped David’s shoulders, pulling him back upright. “Got such a mouth on you.” Patrick wrapped one arm around David’s hip and grabbed his cock while the other slid up his throat.

And, oh, that was something he’d wished they’d negotiated ahead of time because Patrick’s hands around his throat? He nearly came right then. “Didn’t complain about my mouth last night,” David growled as he thrust between Patrick’s cock in his as and grip around his dick. 

“Who said I was complaining?” He covered David’s mouth. Loose enough that David could’ve easily swatted it away, but present enough that he got the message and he liked the message. “Gonna have to keep you quiet while I make you come, huh?” 

David needed to come. David never wanted it to end.

“Come on, David, come for me. Wanna feel you come around my cock.” Patrick hooked his chin over David’s shoulder and licked at his earlobe. How he managed to thrust and jerk and lick in time together while whispering dirty praise, he’d never understand and certainly not complain. 

David’s muscles clenched as his orgasm built. He tried to thrust back and forth, but couldn’t get enough leverage to make a difference. Patrick was in complete control. Instead of flailing his arms around, he clutched Patrick’s forearms. Fuck, he loved Patrick’s forearms. 

He traced the tip of his tongue between Patrick’s fingers and tried to curl it to pull one into his mouth. Patrick shoved two inside, and David shamelessly sucked and licked them to keep his mouth occupied so no moans would escape while he road the wave to his orgasm.

Patrick must have sensed David was about to come because he quickened his strokes of David’s dick and pushed in as hard as he could while rotating his hips, hitting every spot inside of him. He aimed David’s cock, and David came over the edge of the pool and into the ocean.

Moments later, Patrick’s body shuddered, and he gently thrusted through his own orgasm as he released David’s dick. 

As soon as Patrick pulled out, David turned around to pull Patrick into a passionate kiss. “That was incredible. You’re incredible.” David kissed Patrick’s cheek, forehead, nose, lips, jaw.

Patrick wrapped his free arm around David’s waist and pulled them close together. “I haven’t come that hard since—” he kissed David. “—uh, since the last time I came with you I guess.” Patrick’s sun-reddened cheeks darkened, and he looked up at David from underneath his eyelashes.

“Mmhm. Sex with you is pretty great.” David shimmied his shoulders. 

“I’d better go take care of this.” He looked down at where his hand held the condom. 

“I’ll wait here for our brunch.”

“Wow! Look at the view on these villas,” came an unfamiliar voice.

David whipped around to the direction of it. He couldn’t see anyone yet, but whoever was on the water wasn’t far away. He squatted down into the pool so only his shoulders and aupbove would be visible. He fumbled for the swim shorts hanging off his ankle.

“Fuck.” Patrick looked between the water and the bathroom, with its glass walls. 

“Don’t risk it.” David tugged Patrick down into the water. 

“But.” Patrick gestured to his dick as he lowered himself into the pool. 

David looked at the fear on Patrick’s face, and couldn’t stop the laughter from bubbling up. “Hold on for dear life. We don’t want that to get sucked into a filter and have to call maintenance.”

Patrick glared at him as he snatched his board shorts from the patio’s edge at the pool steps. 

David reclined back on the edge of the pool he’d just been fucked against and spread his arms along the side. Comfortable in his clothed state and delighted as fuck at Patrick’s stress.

“You okay over there?” He laughed again as Patrick tucked himself into the corner closest to the ocean.

“Fucking peachy. Thanks.” Patrick tried to look stern, but David caught his mouth twitching.

“How much time do you think we have before the food gets here?”

Patrick’s eyes went wide, and he opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, the people approaching greeted them.

David’s new favorite hobby was watching a naked Patrick clutch a filled condom for dear life against his flaccid dick while attempting his default Canadian politeness with strangers who ventured a bit too close.

Eventually, David thought Patrick had been teased enough, so he intervened. “I hope you two enjoy your trip. Patrick, shall we get ready for lunch?”

“Yes, please.” Patrick nodded, a bit frantic.

David waved off the pair of people in kayaks. Once they were out of sight, he signaled for Patrick to go.

“Did you really need to ask their thoughts about the restaurant’s cocktail selection, David?” Patrick hissed as he picked up his swim trunks with his free hand hurried out of the pool.

“I believe I did, yes. Very important topic” David tugged his lips between his teeth, and his shoulders shook with laughter when Patrick flipped him off through the bathroom’s glass wall before he closed the door to the toilet stall.

While Patrick was getting cleaned up, David got out of the pool and stretched out on one of the lounge chairs on his stomach, resting his head on his crossed arms. 

“If I had a shorter refractory period, this sight would get me going again.”

David turned his head and watched Patrick climb onto the other lounger and settle on his back. “After we eat, I could go another round.”

“Insatiable.”

Ticking clock. He wanted to say it, but he didn’t. Instead, he waggled his eyebrows.

He fell into a light doze and was roused when he heard someone say, “Mr. Brewer? Mr. Rose?”

David lifted onto his elbows and looked over at the voice. Two people pulled a canoe up against the edge of the pool. 

“We have your order.”

“Great, thanks so much.” Patrick stood from the lounger and walked over to the pool. “Need any help?”

One of the resort employees shook their head. In a clearly well-practiced move, the two people, who faced each other on the canoe, lifted in unison a large tray covered with food and gently slid it over the pool’s edge and onto the water. It floated in the pool as one employee added a champagne bottle and two glasses to a bucket on top of it. 

“There you are. When you’re ready for us to pick this back up, please call the front desk and we’ll return to collect it.”

“Thanks so much,” Patrick said.

David said his thanks and walked over to the pool. “Wow.”

“Yeah.” 

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder next to the pool and looked down at the incredible spread on the tray. Pastries, fruit, some sort of egg dish, and a few other things he couldn’t wait to taste.

“One a scale of one to five, how dorky is it if I want to take a photo of it?”

David looked at Patrick and smiled. Grabbing Patrick’s hand, he squeezed it. “Zero as long as you send me the picture.”

“Deal.” Patrick smiled into a quick kiss, then walked through the open doors to the bedroom.

David turned to watch him go, then looked back at the food. It was such a romantic setup. A tray of perfectly arranged treats, champagne, flowers scattered on the wooden tray between the dishes, and getting to enjoy it all while sitting in a small pool over the ocean.

It was exactly the vacation he’d wanted when he booked it for him and Sebastien. The romance, the sex, the fun, but he realized that he could have never had that with Sebastien. Hell, with anyone else he’d ever dated. Only Patrick could give him the vacation of his dreams. Had given him the vacation of his dreams. 

Patrick returned and wrapped an arm around David’s waist as he took a photo.

“The light isn’t right. Try from a lower angle,” David said as he crowded in Patrick’s space to look at the screen.

Patrick laughed and handed him the phone. “Take a photo for us and text it to yourself.”

David allowed himself only three seconds to have a mental meltdown at Patrick trusting him with his phone. Sure, it was only to take a photo and send a text, but still. He wasn’t used to that kind of trust, but now that he’d had a taste, he wasn’t sure if he could go back.


🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


“Sitting next to each other at a table is incorrect,” David said as he munched on a samosa he held in his right hand while his left hand held Patrick’s. 

David looked too happy and relaxed for Patrick to actually worry there was any truth to his snark. “Technically, we’re not on the same side.” 

“When two people are sitting at a four-person table, it’s most appropriate to sit opposite each other.”

Patrick squeezed David’s hand. “It’s gracious of you to suspend your expectations for one dinner.”

David smirked. “I’m a very generous person.”

Since Patrick had made the spur-of-the-moment decision to arrange a private dining experience yesterday, he’d been sweating it a little. More than a little. It was one thing to have great sex and spend time together during the day because they could and didn’t have a reason not to. It seemed normal to go to the island restaurants together and get room service when they didn’t feel like going out, so they could maximize time for sex. Though they’d spent more time not having sex and spending time together than having sex.

But arranging a private dining experience on the beach with a table set far from the restaurants in their own little bubble with lit torches marking its boundary was a lot. Maybe too much for vacation fling territory. That was more like anniversary or honeymoon territory. It’s just, Patrick wanted to do something special. He wanted their last night to be special, memorable for both of them. 

Patrick was a terrible liar, and he didn’t have it in him to claim that his time with David had been all sex and spending a lonely vacation with a nearby warm body. It may have started that way, but four days with David had changed a lot of things for Patrick. One of them being no longer taking things for granted. 

No matter what happened and whether he and David stayed in contact after tomorrow, he wanted their last dinner together to be worthy of David. He wanted David to feel as special as he made Patrick feel with every look, every touch, every laugh, every piece of himself he’d shared with Patrick.

“Generous, and you’re gorgeous too.” Patrick lifted their joined hands to his mouth and kissed David’s knuckles.

David sucked in a shaky breath as he looked at their hands. “I’m still not convinced you’re real. I feel like there’s a thirteen percent chance I’ll wake up and this will have been some sort of sleeping pill induced fever dream.”

“You’re saying I’m the man of your dreams, eh?” Patrick picked up his beer. The sweaty glass was covered in condensation and nearly fell through his grip. He meant the words as a tease, but as they left his mouth, his tone wasn’t as breezy as he’d intended. He risked a glance at David and saw his mouth turned down. 

Before Patrick could change the subject or say things that neither needed to hear with their arrangement as it was, the server arrived with their main courses.

Stealing bites from each other’s plates as the sun disappeared—their last sunset together—was filling him with a bittersweet happiness he wasn’t sure what to do with. They were a little quiet, a little melancholy, but he didn’t need to waste his energy thinking about that now. He had a hellish flight schedule home tomorrow that would give him plenty of time to wallow.

“This quiet won’t do. We’re literally in paradise and being treated like royalty. I will not have our dinner ruined by our pouting.” David squared his shoulders and slightly shifted his chair to face Patrick more head-on.

Patrick wanted to make a quip to lighten the tension, but he couldn’t. David was putting himself out there, and Patrick could meet him halfway. “We are pouting, aren’t we?”

“Literally what I just said.” David huffed. 

He was so cute when he did that. “Any ideas?” Patrick dropped his elbow on the table and rested his chin on his palm.

 David chewed on a prawn as he looked out over the ocean, gently rolling in and out only steps away from their table. 

Patrick studied his profile. He really was the most beautiful man Patrick had ever seen. 

“Ooh, I’ve got it. Tell me something you’ve never told anyone.” David looked giddy, like they were about to swap secrets at a middle school sleepover.

“Are you going to share something with me?”

David threw a piece of garnish at Patrick. “Obviously.”

Patrick thought for a moment as he chewed his fish. Possibly the best fish he’d ever had, and he’d eaten at a lot of fancy restaurants. His agent loved to take him to overpriced and under-portioned restaurants in Toronto.

There wasn’t a lot Patrick hadn’t shared with at least one person. The first thing he thought of was that he’d nearly quit playing baseball in high school. He’d hated it, but didn’t want to disappoint his dad, so he’d stuck with it. If he shared that, though, he’d have to share why that was a big deal. And the last thing Patrick wanted was to blow up their last night together by finally opening up about work. He needed something else to share.

Another thing crystalized in his mind, but he wasn’t sure it was appropriate. Then again, if he couldn’t share it with a man he might not see again, when could he? And it might be nice to get off his chest.

“Got one.” He squirmed a little in his chair. “The first guy I had sex with? I didn’t like it.”

David gestured for him to continue. “And? Isn’t that a pretty universal experience when losing one’s virginity?”

“I wasn’t a virgin, David.”

David rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean. My first time with a man wasn’t great either.”

Patrick rested his fork on his plate. “It’s more than that.” He searched for the words to make David understand. “It had taken me so long to let myself wonder if I wasn’t straight, let alone actually decide I wanted to test the waters with men. I expected my first time to be like fireworks. Angels singing that I was finally on the right track. An orgasm so good I blacked out.”

David laughed. “You watch too many movies.”

“Isn’t that my line?” David had referenced rom-coms at least a dozen times throughout the week. That was one of the reasons the romantic, private dinner had stood out to him as a good idea. 

“I definitely think your expectations were maybe a bit high.”

Patrick chuckled. “You think?” He tapped his thumb on the white tablecloth. “It was awkward. I didn’t know what I was doing, I was in my head about it, and I hadn’t told him it was my first time with a man.” He shook his head. “I thought that maybe meant I didn’t like men after all. It was really confusing.”

David placed his hand on Patrick’s thigh and squeezed. “That sounds really difficult.”

“It was like ten steps forward, then five back.” He let the frustration of that time in his life wash over him, then follow the tide out to the ocean. “But I got there in the end and that’s what matters.” He placed his hand over David’s and cleared his throat. “Your turn.”

“Mm, how to follow up a classic gay awakening story.”

Patrick focused on his dinner to give David a moment.

“I wish I knew how to cook,” David said after a couple of minutes.

Patrick had learned enough about David that week to know if he stayed quiet, David would probably fill the silence. David was like a glacier, and he wanted to know what lurked beneath the surface. 

Eventually, Patrick decided to gently prod him along. “That seems like a good goal. Why is that special for you?”

David’s smile softened. Patrick lost himself for a moment, watching the candle’s flames dancing in David’s eyes. He soaked up every twist to David’s lips, every expression, every shape his hands made as they spoke alongside his mouth.

He feels a shape forming in his heart. A cardboard cutout that every future person will be measured against. A shape with tall hair, broad shoulders, long legs, and a big heart.

“I could say health reasons. It’s probably not great to sustain on takeout, but L.A. has a lot of nutritious takeout options.” David took a sip of his cocktail. “There’s something about doing it for myself, though, that I’ve been thinking about more and more lately.”

“Like a self-care thing?” Patrick asked.

David shrugged. It looked nonchalant, but Patrick thought he was on the right track. “For so long, I thought a mark of success was being able to afford the takeout from amazing and expensive restaurants. Cooking felt like something I would have to do if I couldn’t afford anything to have others do it for me. We always had cooks growing up,” he said, almost defensively.

Patrick could understand that, but his own views on it were so different. Growing up, cooking had been a family bonding thing. Helping his mom cook in the kitchen or helping his dad barbecue, all three of them baking cookies together. Certain meals were even connected with events and moods. Grandma’s chicken noodle soup whenever he was sick, lasagna after big wins or good grades, macaroni and cheese after losses and bad days. He’d always loved cooking, especially with and for a partner. Takeout was reserved for when he was too tired to do it himself.

“Now I sort of feel like I’m missing out. I think it would be nice to come home after a long day and cook something. Have that sense of accomplishment.” David shook his head. “It’s silly.”

Patrick grabbed his hand. “It’s not silly. It’s nice. Being able to do that for yourself and do that for others.” He could imagine coming home from practice and knocking his hip against David’s in his kitchen as they cooked together. Arguing over how much salt to add. He could already feel how the ghost of an alternative life would haunt him for a long time.

David looked back out to the ocean. “I’d like that.” He smiled, almost absently, and Patrick wished he could see the filmstrip playing in David’s mind.

“It’s a shame the villa doesn’t have a kitchen, or I’d suggest we leave right now and go cook something. I could teach you how to make a mean lasagna.”

“I love lasagna,” David said shyly. 

They finished their dinner and ordered dessert. Between gentle teasing and swapping stories, they peppered each other with this or that questions, like they were desperate to soak up any silly fact about each other before real life sucked the air out of the room.

They hadn’t talked about After yet. After the trip, after they returned to their real lives, after David probably learned that truth about who Patrick was. It would be hard to hold that back once he transitioned back into pre-season activities after the holidays next month, and he knew he should tell David. Eventually.

Would they be talking then? He hoped so. He really hoped so. Patrick would rather have David in his life as a friend than not at all. Maybe David could be someone he would grab a drink with when he was in L.A. for a game. 

If he visited David, would they have sex? Try to pick up the spark they’ve had from this week? Patrick wasn’t sure he could handle that. A part of him would take any amount of David in any form he could get, but that would ruin him. Living in an almost opposite sides of the continent would make an actual relationship impossible, assuming David was even open to that. Patrick knew he had just ended one. But if he knew his trips to L.A. could include a taste of David? He’d never let it go. He’d probably begin to live for those tastes until he was so starved it would never be enough. He could imagine himself going to San Francisco for games and hopping a flight to L.A. just for a night, just for a few minutes in David’s bed to satiate the ever-growing hunger. 

Yeah, so maybe he could be David’s friend. Keep a bit of a distance to protect himself so he could be a part of David’s life without hurting himself. 

Now that he had a few days of experiencing a kaleidoscope of colors, he couldn’t go back to gray scale. Even if the colors became more muted after the trip, at least they’d be there, maybe. 

David opened and closed his mouth a couple of times after the server cleared their dessert plates. Patrick waited and gently rubbed the middle of David’s back. Despite sitting on sides of the table next to each other being “incorrect,” David had been surprisingly amendable when Patrick had scooted his chair closer and pushed his own dessert plate toward David. Sharing food is incorrect, but yours looks better than mine. 

“You’re welcome to come back to my room, but I understand if you need to pack and get a good night’s sleep,” David said carefully.

The only way Patrick could get a good night’s sleep is if David was in his arms. If he tried to sleep in his own room, he knew he’d lay awake all night regretting he wasn’t in a bed with David. He tried to read David’s face to see if David was trying to preemptively distance himself, but all Patrick could see was feigned nonchalance and a flicker of hope in his eyes, hope cushioned by sadness. David probably saw the same reflected in his own eyes. 

“I packed when I went back to my place to change for dinner, so I’m all set.” Patrick moved his hand up David’s body to slide his fingers into David’s thick hair. “If it’s okay with you, we can swing by my place on the way back to yours so I can grab my stuff. I could leave from your place in the morning so we have more time together.” He tried to swallow the lump in his throat. That was the first time he’d said the words aloud, the first time that day he’d verbally acknowledged their time was ending. And, dammit, his eyes stung and his throat burned and his chest hurt.

David cupped his cheek and smiled softly. “Let’s go get your stuff.”

Chapter Text

David unlocked the door and moved to the side so he could hold it open for Patrick and his annoyingly modest bag. What kind of monster could away with one rolling bag—not even the large size—for a weeklong vacation? If David had known that about Patrick, he probably would have been much more skeptical of him from the start.

Who was he kidding? Patrick’s eyes would have done him in immediately, criminal under-packing or not.

“Why are you smiling?” Patrick walked over to the opposite side of the room and looked like he was about to lay his suitcase on the bench, but before David could say anything, Patrick slid it under the bench and out of the way. Out of sight. That was thoughtful. 

Why was he smiling? It could have been from the incredibly thoughtful, and dare he say, romantic, private dinner Patrick had arranged at some point. Or maybe all the incredible sex that placed Patrick firmly at the top of David’s greatest hits collection. It could be that Patrick had dragged David, with one hand holding David’s and the other carrying his suitcase, over to the library so he could return the books he’d borrowed so housekeeping didn’t have to do it for him. And that Patrick insisted they use the telescope where they’d met on Monday to look at the stars for a few minutes. And like the first time, David’s eyes had watered.

Patrick. It was simply… Patrick. That’s why he couldn’t stop smiling. If he kept that up, he’d get wrinkles. 

“Thinking about sketchy it is for someone to have such little baggage on an international vacation and musing over the quality of your character.” David left his shoes by the front door and flipped a switch to turn on the low lighting setting, then glided toward Patrick, like his body was being pulled.

When they met at the foot of the bed, Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s waist. “Is that all?”

David nodded and draped his arms around Patrick’s neck and let himself fall into the depths of Patrick’s enchanting eyes. 

Patrick pulled David closer until their hips and chests touched, then went in for a slow, lush kiss. When he pulled back, David nearly chased his mouth.

Patrick’s lips shone from their kiss, and he rubbed one hand up and down David’s side. “David, can I make you feel good?” 

David could never get enough of the way Patrick looked at him. He looked at David with his whole heart on display, like he wasn’t looking through a telescope from a tower where his feelings were locked away and protected. Patrick looked at David like he really saw him. Beyond the armor and decoration of David’s life, name, and job, Patrick saw him and wanted to keep looking. Face-to-face, skin-to-skin, heart-to-heart.

“You already are.” David played with the hair at the nape of Patrick’s neck, and Patrick leaned into it like a cat.

Patrick took his time unbuttoning David’s linen shirt, trailing kisses across David’s clavicle and chest as Patrick revealed more skin. They undressed each other slowly, covered each other’s skin with trailing fingertips and lingering kisses, only pulling apart long enough to remove clothes.

Patrick took to kissing and touching every part of David’s body like a cartographer. With every touch, a piece of David’s protective walls crumbled, slipping through his fingers and shattering to dust, never to be rebuilt in the same way again. Whether they’d be rebuilt more fortified and permanent than before was something he wasn’t willing to waste time thinking about because in that moment he wanted to be present with Patrick. The only thing that mattered was soaking up every fleeting second. David had never been treated with such care before. Patrick touched him like he was a priceless artifact from a forgotten civilization.

Now that he knew it could be like this, how could he go back to meaningless hook-ups only about making bodies feel good? Every delicious touch of Patrick’s fingertips, his lips, his tongue, soothed a part of David he didn’t know had been aching, but a pinch followed each touch. A reminder to enjoy the moment, because it was the only one he’d get. 

Despite that, he refused to stop. He threw himself into showing Patrick everything his words couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Each sharp jab of pain in his heart made him feel alive, like he never had before. Every ache that promised future hurt proved he could be the type of person to elicit that in someone else. A person who was worthy of care and affection. David knew he had never evoked that in another person before, and certainly never felt that way about someone else. Even in times where he felt consumed by someone else, like Sebastien, he recognized there was a level of toxicity to it. Being with Patrick was like drinking the purest and most filtered water. 

David was consumed by the warmth, the weight, the smell of Patrick. He wanted to do everything with him one last time. Rim him, blow him, finger him, penetrate him, stroke him, everything, but nothing was better than Patrick’s solid weight on him in that moment, connected head-to-toe. Patrick touched David like his sole purpose was making sure David felt good, cherished, and David lost himself to it. He simply lost himself. He finally felt safe enough in someone’s arms to lose himself to another person, even for a little while, even for a few days in paradise. 

David stood at the precipice of heartache and launched himself into it without looking back. Heartache meant he lived, had cared enough to feel it once, that someone cared enough about him to make him feel it. David had hurt plenty of times with breakups and dating, but this was a new kind of beast. What coursed through every nerve ending in David’s body was the worst kind of heartache. The one that was worth all the pain, despite not knowing how big the pain would be or how long it would last. For a few days, Patrick showed David that he could open up to someone and the world wouldn’t implode around him. And for that, he would be forever grateful to Patrick. 

As Patrick spread lube where it needed to go, neither said anything. Despite their previous sex being filled with banter and demands and coaxing promises, words weren’t needed now. No words could add to what their bodies said. David wrapped his leg around Patrick’s and memorized where Patrick’s hips hit his own as they moved together, how Patrick’s back felt under his hands, the arch in Patrick’s back as David scraped his fingernails down Patric’s back, the way Patrick’s curls lightly looped with sweat, how Patrick’s stubble scratched as he trailed open-mouthed kisses across David’s neck, the way Patrick’s smooth, stubby fingernails dug into his shoulder blades as they moved in unison, seeking release but not wanting it to end.

David had never made love before. That act seemed reserved for movies and milestone anniversaries and definitely not something for the plebeians in matters of the heart. David had fucked a lot, but the pathetic truth of it was he’d never let himself blur the lines between sex and emotions to get on the same block as making love, let alone in the same city. But then came Patrick Brewer, a soft brush determined to gently blend all of David’s paint into an explosion of colors that didn’t belong together but somehow worked.

Patrick kissed the wetness at the corners of David’s eyes after they came. The urge to apologize or make a flippant remark clawed up his throat, but he swallowed it down. Patrick didn’t deserve that. Hell, David didn’t either. He let the weight of the moment settle around them. If Patrick didn’t try to hide his own glossy eyes, David didn’t need to either. 

After Patrick gently cleaned them up and returned from dropping the dirty towel in the bathroom, Patrick paused next to the bed, looking a bit off-kilter. David lifted the sheet and opened his arms. David might not have the words, but he could hold Patrick.

Patrick gave him a lopsided smile that could’ve passed for a frown to anyone who hadn’t spent as much time as David studying Patrick’s arsenal of smiles all week, then climbed into bed and let himself be pulled in until their chests pressed together in the humid night.

David felt wrung out and invigorated, like after an intense day of filming a reveal where his clients, or the show’s guests, gushed over David’s vision. His heart thundered in his chest, and he half wondered if Patrick would comment on it, but he didn’t. Patrick tucked his head under David’s chin and held on to David’s waist while David rubbed wide circles in Patrick’s back. In the stillness, David focused on the ocean lapping against the deck and Patrick’s breathing.

Even if he wanted to say anything, how could he find words that would be sufficient? Patrick, I know we’ve only known each other a few days, but I’ve felt more this week with you than in any relationship I’ve had. 

Patrick, I think you’ve ruined me for anyone else, and I’m not even mad about it. 

Patrick, I’m going to miss your snoring and your pouting when I insist you let me put more sunscreen on you, and the way you look at me when you don’t think I notice. 

Patrick, thank you for making me feel like I matter. Thank you for letting me show you that you matter.

Patrick, I’m really going to miss your magic dick and your sassy attitude.

Patrick, the thing is, I’m actually kind of well-known? So, my job keeps me in L.A., but I have a lot of money and could fly you in to visit me. My schedule is pretty tight, so it’s hard for me to travel, but if you have the time, I have the money. I’d love to see you again.

Patrick, please don’t forget about me.

Patrick, I hate that any time I see fucking Tommy Bahama print for the rest of my life, I’m going to think fondly of you, and I don’t think I can forgive you for that. Asshole. 

“Patrick, I—” David tried to find the words, but they fled like the tiny fish that swam at the steps of his villa whenever he put his feet in the water. 

“Me too, David,” Patrick said eventually, his words muffled by David’s chest. 

Tears pricked at his eyes, and it hurt to swallow. He wouldn’t let himself cry until Patrick left. That was the last parting impression he needed to make. Dramatic, over-emotional David Rose getting hung up on a guy he’d known less than a week. It was going to be bad enough when Patrick figured out who he really was. The best David could hope for was that a small part of whatever Patrick saw in him, the real him, outweighed the dumpster fire that was the internet’s opinions of him and clips from his show edited for maximum drama and bitchiness. He didn’t want That’s Incorrect David Rose to overshadow the memories they’d made. 

They had less than twelve hours left together. The impulsive part of him, the part that was so distinctly Rose, considered calling the front desk to see if he could move his Saturday reservations on the speedboat and seaplane plane to tomorrow so he could travel to the airport with Patrick. But for what? Postpone his pain for a few more hours of time, then having to fall apart in a fucking airport? At least if he said goodbye to Patrick here, he could fall apart in the sheets that still smelled like Patrick. Cry in the pool where they spent so much time together. Order room service and think about how Patrick kept giving David his papaya.

Even if he did want to put himself through the torture of some public goodbye, there was no way he could change transportation. With the multiple modes of transportation involved to get from the remote island resort they were at to the larger island with the airport, it was too precise of a process to simply book a different option for him and his several bags. It wasn’t exactly heading to LAX to catch an hourly flight to Vegas.  

Having Patrick’s warm body in his arms addled his brain because, for a wild moment, David considered asking Patrick to extend his trip and push the real world away for a bit longer. Ignoring the fact that they had both agreed to a vacation fling which had a definitive stopping point, even if he had the nerve to ask Patrick to rearrange whatever was happening in his life so David could soak up a bit more time with him, the odds of the tiny resort having a place for them to stay seemed unlikely. Not to mention his own real life breathing down his neck, and his schedule pulling him back to work on Wednesday to begin filming the new season.

When he’d booked the trip, he’d through two days buffer would be plenty of time to get over the jet lag, but that was before heartache was added to the mix. Next week would be brutal.

David wasn’t sure how long they lay there, lost in their own thoughts. He knew Patrick wasn’t asleep, and David sure as hell wasn’t close to it. Aside from Patrick’s death-grip on him, they’d shared a bed enough nights for David to have adapted to Patrick’s breathing pattern while sleeping, and they’d cuddled enough to know what his breathing sounded like when he was awake. The steady breaths tickling his neck were definitely the latter. 

David hoped he’d be able to sleep once he no longer had the soundtrack of Patrick’s breaths and the ocean to serve as white noise. 

He stared out at the moonlight illuminating part of the ocean like a path. How had he let himself get so attached to someone? It was like the most far-fetched of rom-coms. More like a romantic drama without the happily ever after. It was ridiculous to click with someone so fast. If someone had come back from vacation and recounted an experience like David had, he’d think they’d spent the week sipping too many fruity drinks. The truth of it was the tropical setting had lowered his defenses, and he’d let himself be vulnerable with Patrick well beyond sex. He let Patrick see him bitchy, sleepy, unshowered, hangry, and defiant, and Patrick hadn’t batted an eye at any of it. 

Maybe the absence of trendy restaurants and paparazzi and his usual distractions let him open up.

Or maybe it was just Patrick.

David needed to accept that sometimes he couldn’t logic through his emotions. As he held on to Patrick, he felt things that were too big and too soon and didn’t make any logical sense. Despite not understanding them, he didn’t question whether the feelings were real. They were as real as his HGTV contract. If David knew about anything other than interior design and designer fashion, it was feelings. He might not fully comprehend them or have the ability to justify them, but he had a feeling they would become squatters in his heart. 

Patrick shifted and settled deeper in David’s hold. David’s brain worked a mile a minute as he tried to feel his feelings, detach from them, rationalize them away, plan for tomorrow, obsesses over whether they’d keep in touch and what that might look like, until he couldn’t remember thinking anything except how much he liked being there with Patrick.


🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴


Patrick blinked and adjusted to his surroundings. He sighed at the cozy warmth surrounding him and settled into it. After a few moments, he looked down at David’s slack face pressed against his chest and smiled. Patrick enjoyed waking up like that, and he’d like to keep doing that. The days where he woke up with David in his arms had been great ones. 

As soon as the thought filled him with peace, he remembered it was the last time they’d wake up that way. His body shifted from loose and relaxed and satisfied to more tense than if he were at bat in a tied game at the bottom of the ninth with bases loaded.  

He looked over at the clock. His phone alarm wasn’t set to go off for another thirty minutes. Patrick was glad he woke up early because that was thirty extra minutes of soaking up the comfort David’s embrace brought. 

It was probably creepy to watch David sleep, but he didn’t give a shit. He already knew he was going to be a fucking wreck the second he walked away from David, so he’d allow himself that bit of time. 

Patrick prided himself on being a pretty logical guy. He understood numbers and stats and risks and rewards and odds. Unfortunately, he understood them well enough to know that the odds for earning a reward by risking his heart on David Rose weren’t good. No matter what happened and whether they stayed in touch and the shape of that, it wouldn’t be the same. 

They wouldn’t get to snooze in loungers side-by-side between delicious meals and incredible sex. He wouldn’t have the luxury of ignoring his phone for hours hours so he could focus on relaxing and David and relaxing with David. He wouldn’t get to walk by and run his fingers over David’s bare, freckled shoulders any time he wanted. 

They had states and provinces between them. Patrick’s job made it nearly impossible to maintain a relationship, as he’d learned with Ken. The shine of dating a pro baseball player had worn off pretty quickly when Ken learned how time-intensive the career was between practices and meetings and press events and travel and games. 

Patrick gently swept a chunk of wavy hair from David’s forehead. The only way to deal with the grief of having a taste of what it could be like with David and losing it was to mourn it. The only way to learn to live with the ache was through it.

If he woke David up that second and said, David, let’s see if we can make something out of this, what then? He was contractually prevented from leaving Toronto, not that he’d consider leaving after only a few days of bliss. But assuming they kept talking and this dynamic between them had legs, he’d never ask David to come to him. David had his own career in L.A. They could date long distance for a while, but then what? It was insurmountable. And if he made some big declaration, it might just scare David away.

He knew David had enjoyed the week. David couldn’t hide his private, pleased smiles, but that didn’t mean he wanted more once they left the island. They had agreed to some vacation fun, and Patrick couldn’t assume David had changed his mind on that, no matter how badly he wanted that to be the case. No. Odds were that suggesting long distance dating would end up ruining any chance they had at friendship. 

Patrick had to trust that their connection was strong enough that they’d keep in touch. Frankly, he’d take David any way he could get him. Even if that meant David became a buddy he texted once in a while.

David looked so relaxed. He was the most expressive person Patrick had ever met—there wasn’t an emotion or expression unfamiliar to David’s face—but when sleeping, his forehead was smooth and mouth relaxed.

Patrick gave himself twenty more minutes of ignoring his bladder and soaking up the comfort of David before he carefully unwrapped David’s arms and slid out of the bed. He wasn’t ready for David to wake up yet because he knew he couldn’t hide the sadness in his eyes and he didn’t want David to see it. Last night had been incredible. Incredible. Through the silence, he felt like they’d said so much, but the harsh reality of morning was different. Patrick didn’t think he could take it if he saw a distance in David’s eyes. He couldn’t blame David if he did, but it would devastate him. 

Patrick went into the water closet to relieve himself. When he opened the door to go to the sink and wash his hands, he was greeted by a sleep-rumbled David sitting on the edge of the tub. Everything about him looked sleepy and relaxed except the white to his knuckles, where he clutched the tub’s edge. 

“Good morning.” He smiled and kissed David’s forehead because he could, then washed his hands. He studied David in the mirror. “Should I be worried you’re up? I believe you told me waking up this early on vacation was not only incorrect but a crime.” Patrick hoped his tone conveyed the breezy teasing he didn’t feel. 

Half of David’s mouth turned up, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. Eyes filled with sadness. Patrick’s heart constricted. He walked over and stepped between David’s legs and pulled him into a hug.

“Bed was cold without you,” David mumbled into Patrick’s shoulder. They both knew the bed wasn’t cold with all of that humidity. With David sitting on the tub, Patrick had the height advantage for the first time, and he liked it. He wanted to be big and protective and take care of David, like David did for him last night. He’d felt raw, and David took care of him.

David tightened his arms around Patrick’s waist. “And I’m feeling a little clingy.”

Patrick bit his lips together so hard he feared he’d draw blood. “Me too,” he finally managed in a hoarse voice. 

One of the things he’d quickly learned about David was that David didn’t default to being vulnerable. That was one of the differences between them. Patrick had been raised in an environment where vulnerability was part of how you bonded with someone. David seemed to think it was a sign of weakness. David had come out of his shell throughout the week, and Patrick treasured that David felt comfortable with him. The raw honesty of David’s statement left him reeling a little.

Last night, it had taken him a long time to fall asleep, and a good chunk of his waking hours last night were spent worried that he would wake up and things would be weird with the goodbye. David seemed like the kind of person to proactively distance himself as a form of self-protection, but it was clear from the way he held on to Patrick that he wasn’t doing that. 

Eventually, Patrick pulled back so he could start getting ready for the long journey home. He held David’s hand with his left one while brushing his teeth with his right. 

“Don’t forget to look for that skincare I told you about yesterday. I’ll text you the list.”

Patrick chuckled. “Okay, David.”

“Oh! And will you text me a picture of the snack selection so I can start planning my purchases? I have limited space in my carry-on, and I need to be strategic about getting things I can’t find back home.”

Patrick’s heart swelled. David wouldn’t casually demand texting if he didn’t intend for them to keep in touch, right? Texting at the airport wasn’t a conclusion to their trip but the beginning of the new shape of their relationship. That flicker of hope would carry him through the boat ride and several flights ahead of him. 

After shaving, he packed away his toiletries and turned to David, who leaned against the bathroom counter. “Join me in the shower?”

David smiled softly and nodded. 

The shower stall wasn’t really built for two, but they made it work. David let Patrick wash his hair, and Patrick soaked up the feeling of David carefully soaping up Patrick’s body.

In the safety of the tiny shower stall and the rainwater showerhead drowning out the sounds of life around them, Patrick gathered the courage to say some things that had been threatening to fall out of his mouth. It wasn’t anywhere close to all he wanted to say, but it was something. At least he could leave without a cloud of regret following him around, wondering what would have happened if he’d only had the courage to tell David that he was special, that he made Patrick feel special, that he’d forever treasure the days they had together.

Patrick cupped David’s cheeks and gently dragged his thumbs back-and-forth across them. “I’m so glad you decided to lay out in the sun on Monday.” He looked into David’s eyes. “I couldn’t be happier about spending this week with you.”

David’s chin wobbled. “Me too,” David said. He rested his forehead on Patrick’s shoulder for a moment. “This week has been incredible.”

Patrick barely heard him over the water.

David lifted his head and looked at Patrick with a steely determination. “You’re incredible. Thank you for, um.” He looked away and inhaled deeply. “Thanks for treating me like I’m normal.”

Patrick couldn’t stop the laugh from escaping. “David, you’re the least normal person I’ve ever met. Whatever normal means.”

David’s jaw tensed, and Patrick realized he must have stepped into uneasy waters. “I mean that you’re not boring or predictable. Being around you is intoxicating. You’re sharp and witty and opinionated, and I really like those things about you.” He swallowed the lump in his throat and looked at the bump on David’s chin that he’d been lucky enough to kiss countless times. “Honestly. I thought this vacation was going to be lonely and boring, but it ended up being the best vacation of my life. That’s all because of you.” He forced himself to stop there. 

Water poured over them while David seemed to search for words. “Well, that’s a lovely thing to say.”

Patrick let out a breath. He was glad David understood the awkward jumble of words spilling out of his mouth. 

“Aside from the week I spent on Elton John’s yacht, this is the best vacation I’ve had too.” David tucked his lips to the side, and Patrick pinched David’s hip.

“Did Elton fall off a paddle board when he got distracted by a hot guy, too?”

“Oh, Elton wasn’t there.”

“And it was still a better vacation than this?”

David shrugged. “It was Elton John’s yacht, Patrick. We had a private chef.”

“We had a private chef last night, too.” Patrick liked him so much. So, so much. He pulled David into his arms and they shared safe confessions until the water ran cold. 

While Patrick dressed in cargo shorts and a T-shirt, David put on soft joggers. “You look so good in those,” Patrick said, then put the rest of his things in his suitcase. Especially with David’s hair in unstyled curls.

David leaned against the patio entryway. “Better get a good look,” David said sadly. 

“If you let me take a photo, I can look any time.”

David waved him off, then stilled. “Wait. You’re serious.”

Patrick shrugged. “I need a photo for your contact in my phone.” 

A series of expressions flittered across David’s face. Patrick was relieved that one he caught was pleased. “And none of the other ones you snuck when you thought I wasn’t looking will work?”

Patrick’s cheeks burned, but he stood his ground. “I’d like to have some options.” Patrick swallowed and decided to take a risk. “In case I decide to change it up seasonally or something. Keep things fresh in my phone.”

David narrowed his eyes for a moment, then they widened. “Think you’ll be texting me seasonally, huh?”

“I do.” Patrick couldn’t think of a single reason not to be direct in that moment.

David rolled his eyes, but Patrick could see that the words hit as he’d hoped. “Go ahead, then.” 

Patrick walked over to David and turned him about forty-five degrees. That way, he could get most of the bedroom, deck and bathroom in the background. He’d thought about sneaking a picture of the room before he left, but having David in it was even better.

“You have a vision then?”

“I do.”

“By all means. Follow your vision.” David gestured for Patrick to continue. He leaned against the doorway and crossed one leg in front of the other. “As long as this is just for you,” David said in a more serious tone.

“Of course it is. What else would I do with it?” Patrick frowned.

“You’d be surprised,” David mumbled. 

“Just for me. I promise. Now try not to scowl at me like I made you get up at seven.”

“You did, though.”

“Pretty sure you did that to yourself,” Patrick teased. David’s lips pinched together in that exasperated look he’d given Patrick a couple dozen times that week, and he snapped a photo. “Perfect.”

“Troll.”

“Is it wrong to want a photo that accurately represents the vibe of the week?”

“And what vibe is that?”

Patrick tucked his phone in his pocket and grinned when David scowled at the extra pocket on his leg. “Sunny days in the company of a grumpy, hot sex god who’s a little bitchy and a lot sweet.”

“Calling me bitchy is incorrect, Patrick.” David’s lips curved into a smirk.

“Was hoping the whole hot sex god piece would overshadow that.” Patrick laughed. The way David threw that word around like he was the arbiter of all things correct and incorrect. Patrick loved it. “But I’ll keep that in mind.”

“See that you do.”

Patrick looked at the clock, and his gut tightened.

“Time to go?” David said softly.

“Uh, yeah. I guess it is.” All the bravado that he’d felt minutes before in the comfort of their teasing evaporated. He walked over to grab his suitcase and backpack. Patrick sort of hoped David didn’t want to go to the dock with him. He wasn’t sure he’d survive a public goodbye. He needed the walk down the long dock to collect himself before checking out and dealing with resort staff asking him about his stay. Something told him the resort staff weren’t used to people looking devastated at the end of a vacation. Relaxed, sure. Broken? Probably not.

David looked up at the ceiling and shook out his hands. “Um, do you mind if I don’t follow you? If we, um, part here? It’s just- I- I’m not fit for public viewing.”

“Of course, David.” That was it. It was time to say goodbye to David. His heart pounded at a rate that should probably require medical attention. He placed his bags next to the door, then turned around to David, hovering close by.

“Don’t forget to hydrate before your flight. And get some of those under-eye patches to put on halfway through your longest leg. And the snack photo. Don’t forget to send me a snack photo.”

“Okay, David.” Patrick wrapped a hand around the back of David’s head and leaned in for a chaste kiss. As soon as their lips touched, his other hand went up to grip David’s hair, and David’s arms wrapped around his waist. Their kissed turned into into more, so much more. They kissed like they could only get air from the other. Patrick pinned David against the wall and kissed him until he needed to pull back for air. He rested his forehead against David’s and breathed hard.

“You gotta catch your boat,” Davis said in a hoarse voice.

“Yeah. Right, okay.” He lifted his head and looked at David, memorizing every ridge and groove and wrinkle on his face. He ran his fingers through David’s hair one more time, then pulled him in for a hug. “I’m going to miss you.”

David squeezed so hard it almost hurt. “Gonna miss you, too.” David’s voice cracked at the end. 

“Enjoy your last vacation day, okay?”

David nodded, but didn’t say anything. Tears spilled from his eyes, and Patrick felt the sting at his own.

“If you decide to try paddle boarding while you have the chance, remember to keep a wide stance.”

David laughed wetly, then sniffled. “As if. The closest I’m getting to paddle boarding is sitting in my pool.”

“So, not at all then.”

“Exactly.” 

The banter helped. It eased the burn a little, like aloe on his skin. 

“Right. I guess I should be off then.”

David grabbed the sides of Patrick’s head and gave him the sweetest, gentlest, softest kiss of his life. “Safe travels.”

“You too.” Patrick placed his hands over David’s. 

David let out a harsh breath, then released Patrick and stepped back. It was like he’d been shoved in a freezer. Patrick forced himself to smile, then willed his body to turn around and pick up his backpack. With shaky hands, he slipped the straps over his arms, then picked up the handle of his suitcase.

Patrick unlocked the door and opened it. It took everything in him, more strength than any high pressure moment in any game he’d ever played, to cross that threshold. Do it, Brewer. One step. Take the fucking step. He squeezed his eyes closed and willed his body through the door.

Once the sun beat down on his skin, he turned around. He caught David’s hand pulling away from his face. “Goodbye, David.”

“Bye, Patrick.” They stared at each other for several long moments until David’s lips shifted up into a barely there smile and he gently closed the door. Once he couldn’t see David any longer, he turned around and walked away.

He’d made it barely five feet before he heard the unmistakable sound of a sob behind the door that had just clicked closed behind him. 

The hardest thing he’d ever done was not turn around and use the key that burned a hole in his pocket. With strength from somewhere deep within him, he took a step, then another, and another, toward his life and away from David, a shard of him breaking off each time his feet hit the ground.

Chapter Text

David squinted at the sunlight streaming into his room as he came to consciousness. He didn’t remember how or when he’d gotten to bed, but he wished the David of however long ago would’ve been thoughtful enough to close the curtains before crashing. Ugh. His head pounded and throat burned. 

He blinked a few times until the numbers on the digital clock became clear. It had only been a couple of hours since Patrick left. Sure as hell seemed longer. He felt like that damn Titanic “it’s been 84 years” gif.  

David settled deeper into the pillow, hoping sleep would take him again, but the pounding behind his eyes showed no mercy. He needed to hydrate and replenish all the fluid that had escaped as tears.

All he wanted to do was sleep the day away to avoid thinking of Patrick, until he panicked about how little time he had left to pack. Then he wanted to frantically panic pack, so he was too distracted to think of Patrick before crashing and sleeping through his conscious thoughts of Patrick for a little while longer. 

But before he could do any of that, he needed some fucking water, and that required getting his ass out of bed. He threw the sheet off of him and sat up. Huh. The perspective was different. He looked down and realized he had sprawled diagonally on the bed with his feet on his side and his head on Patrick’s pillow. Because, yeah, Patrick had a side of the bed. Patrick had slept there the past four nights in the same spot and on the same pillow. A pillow David shamelessly bent down and shoved his face into to muffle his groan. 

Fucking pathetic. 

Sometimes he really wished he could turn off his emotions. He’d become pretty good at hiding the serious ones years ago, but he had figured out how to dodge their impact. 

David could barely catch a full breath. He was dehydrated, his body ached, and his heart felt like it had been cleaved in two. 

Like a fool waiting for a rooster to lay eggs for breakfast, David fell for someone he couldn’t have. Again. David got too attached, again. Fell too hard, again. Was too much, again. 

What kind of person sobbed, literally sobbed, over someone they’d known for four days? Someone incapable of genuine human emotion and mature relationships. How could he have serious feelings for Patrick already? All of the crying was probably him realizing he’d never get to have something like that for real.

Patrick escaped a nightmare. 

 With legs filled with lead, he trudged to the bathroom to relieve himself, then shuffled back to the mini fridge to grab a bottle of water. His skin didn’t deserve the brunt of this.

He whimpered when he saw the little white box tucked between two hard seltzers. David squatted down and traced his finger over the box. He’d forgotten Patrick said he’d left the last truffle for David yesterday. It was the dumbest thing to get hung up on, but he couldn’t help it. David didn’t want to eat it. Eating it would be like swallowing the last trace of Patrick in his room and in his life. Instead, he pulled out a bottle of water and closed the door.

He walked back to the bed to resume his napping, but paused when he saw heather blue fabric sticking out from under Patrick’s side. David bent down to grab it and froze when he realized it was one of Patrick’s shirts. The faded one with a bird’s head and a red maple leaf on it. Shamelessly, he clutched it against his face to pick up any scent. There wasn’t much, but the faint hint of Patrick’s deodorant and musk was like a shot of adrenaline to the heart.

He was so fucking pathetic. Meet a guy, fuck and hang out for a few days, and he was acting like he’d lost his husband of twenty years in a war. 

The little voice in his head said Patrick was different, this was different. That voice could fuck right off. It was the same voice that had said Sebastien genuinely liked him and wasn’t only interested for a boost to his photography career. Or that Stella wasn’t on the rebound after her divorce and wanting to get back in the tabloids to show she was single and available. Or the voice that told him Bex wanted him for more than his contacts at HGTV so they could try to pitch their show.

That voice had steered him into disaster time and again. 

But maybe that voice wasn’t wrong this time. It’s just- it’s just that David didn’t always care about people. He cared a lot about what people thought of him, and how they acted, and who he spent time with, but the real person? That was… new. And for sad as he was that Patrick left, he was equally sad that he only got a taste of that life. A life where he liked a person for who they were. A nice, regular person. And that person liked David for who he was. A not nice, not regular person.

Sure, he and Patrick could keep in touch, but it would never be like the days they had in the Maldives where they could simply be together without their real lives crowding in like a third wheel. 

He would forever be grateful for the vacation. He’d have to be happy knowing that he had four days of being well and truly happy. No caveats, no asterisks, no disclaimers. Purely happy.

David pulled the shirt on and crawled back into bed. Might as well lean into being the most ridiculous human on the planet. The shirt was like a cheap cotton hug.

Now that he was mostly fully alert and not a complete sobbing husk of a human, he risked checking his phone. He told himself not to expect a text from Patrick because he knew Patrick wouldn’t have cell service for most of his journey to the airport. Hell, he’d told himself not to expect anything from Patrick, but he couldn’t help but hope a little to see Patrick’s name pop up on his notifications. 

He didn’t, and he hated himself for feeling shitty about it. Hated himself for soaking up the only bit of comfort he could get from the shirt Patrick left behind. Letting himself think for a moment that finding it meant something more than Patrick being haphazard about his packing sweeps.

With a quick scan of notifications that he mostly ignored, he saw one from his mom to advise him of the dress code for Thanksgiving. As if he didn’t know exactly how to dress for a Rose family holiday, assuming he could even attend.

It would be almost impossible to get to the studio for his live segment with Martha on proper table decor and place settings, then get all the way back over to his parent’s house. Normally he wouldn’t waste much energy worrying about whether he fulfilled family obligations or even spent the holidays with his family, but he felt a little extra sentimental. 

He blamed Patrick. Patrick had decimated the ornate onyx box David tried to keep his feelings in. He’d stomped on it, smashed it with that damn surf paddle thing, and set it on fire in a torch from last night’s dinner. Now David’s feelings were out having a fucking rave with pacifier necklaces and all.

God, the dinner. Nope. He couldn’t think about that. Not yet. He still had a lot of hours left in the day to wallow, not to mention a hellacious travel itinerary back to California. 

David stacked the pillows, Patrick’s on top, tossed his phone next to him, and looked out at the beautiful ocean. Five days ago he’d wanted to spend the week licking his wounds and avoiding everyone who didn’t bring him food or do his spa treatments. Instead, he ended up spending nearly every second with someone whose T-shirt he now wore while pining like the saddest sack.

David thought about texting Stevie, but that seemed like too much effort. She’d asked questions, he’d have to answer them, or she’d tell him he was an idiot. Whether that would be an idiot for fucking around with Patrick to begin with or for letting him go with nothing more than a demand to text him about airport snacks.

Airport snacks?! Jesus. 

David rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling as dread seeped to the ends of his limbs. What if Patrick didn’t think David wanted to stay in touch? David had just sort of… assumed? They would? Since they’d swapped numbers and talked about watching movies they’d recommended to each other, and reporting back on them. Well, David had insisted Patrick watch a few select Julia movies, and Patrick had promised to share his thoughts. They’d talked about keeping in touch in specific instances, but not in the general sense.

Fuck. Had he fucked up? He’d fucked up. David should have explicitly told Patrick that he wanted to be friends. If Patrick was ever in L.A., they could hang out. If David was ever in Toronto, they could hang out. They could go to dinner and laugh and look fondly at each other over the table while remembering their time together, and stop at one drink so they didn’t get carried away.

With his many years of experience in casual sex and casual non-relationship relationships, he knew he couldn’t be casual with Patrick. Patrick made him feel too much. He wasn’t even sure he could be friends with him and maintain his tenuous grasp on mental health, but he had to try.

So, he would wait a respectable few hours and then send Patrick a breezy text. Maybe an inside joke or something. He’d break the ice and move their… thing… into friend territory.

After some more crying. Definitely more crying first. 

Crying then texting, then panic packing, then more crying. 

The phone buzzed next to him, and David nearly fell off the bed. With a shaking hand, he reached for his phone.

For your planning needs. What do you think you’re going to get? [three images attached]

David flopped back on the bed and grinned at the ceiling. Patrick had texted. He’d texted first. And judging by the travel time on the speedboat and seaplane to get to the island with the airport, he must’ve texted pretty quickly after arrival. 

Patrick was thinking about him. He didn’t use his departure to cut ties, block David’s number, leave the vacation fling behind with the vacation. He’d texted. Not only had he texted, but he’d asked a question. That had to be a good sign?

David settled deeper onto the pillows, held his phone above him, smirked, then took a picture.

I’d like to say all of them, but I probably only have room for about five things. I’m thinking three salty and two sweet. You grabbing anything?

also - this is mine now [selfie attached]

His text was too flirty, and he should put up a boundary there. A nice, polite friend boundary, but he couldn’t. Not yet. He’d do it tomorrow.

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

Patrick disembarked the plane at his first layover, in Qatar, smiling a bit too much for how long the day had been. He glanced down at the sleepy selfie of David for the hundredth time. He was so damn happy David had found the shirt. It had been the dumbest, most high school move in his playbook. Not even his playbook, not even high school Patrick’s playbook. Maybe middle school Patrick’s playbook. It had been impulsive and dumb. Seeing his shirt lying there when he’d done his last scan of the room for any other belongings, slightly kicking it with his toe so it was a bit more visible, hoping David might find it and take it home. The thought of David having something of the Jays? That shot a thrill through him. 

Thank god he’d splurged for business class seats so he didn’t have someone sitting next to him who would’ve had to witness Patrick staring at that photo for a creepy amount of time like an obsessive weirdo. At most, he hoped David might find the shirt and tease him about forgetting it and maybe keep as a memento from the trip. Never in a million years would he have expected to see David actually wearing it. 

Between that and the series of pictures David had sent from the room service dinner, he was on the cusp of not being miserable. The dinner idea had hit him like a lightning bolt after he’d forced himself to leave David that morning. When checking out, he’d glanced over and saw a sign for the day’s specials. The woman at the front desk had given him a knowing look and helped arrange to have dinner sent to David. 

The second the boat pulled away from the dock, he’d second-guessed the decision. It was one thing to lean into romance when sex was involved, but another when it was a romantic gesture without leading to sex. That gave a different impression. 

He’d nearly texted David a teasing warning about it, but decided against it. The reckless part of him wanted to know how David would react, and he was glad he trusted his gut. 

David’s happy selfie and artistic photos of the spread warmed Patrick all over. The thought of David eating food he’d ordered for him while wearing his shirt? Yeah, he liked that. He liked that a lot. It was probably concerning how much time he’d spent on the flight to Qatar imagining heading home after a game or long practice to David wearing a Jays shirt and takeout waiting for him. Decompressing and talking about their days. In another life, he might like that with David. He sure liked the idea of it, anyway.

Those thoughts were too big and too scary after less than a half a dozen days together. Physically together, not actually together. Patrick wasn’t the type to fall hard and fast, but he trusted his gut, and his gut liked David. A lot.

Patrick went to the restroom, then located his gate. After he got his bearings, he pulled out his phone to text David and let him know he’d arrived, but stopped himself. That was definitely too much. 

Though, David was the only one who knew his flight schedule. Maybe he should text, so someone knew he was okay. He hadn’t even shared his full flight plan with Mike. Sure, Mike knew what time to pick him up at the Toronto airport in the morning, but any more detail than that and he’d risk Mike showing up at the wrong time. He’d learned that about Mike way back in high school.

But David probably wouldn’t mind knowing he’d made it safe. He wouldn’t mind knowing when David’s flights safely landed.

Nope. Too much. That wasn’t a friend thing.

Hmm. Or maybe that was exactly what friends to do. Hey bud, I made it. Guess you don’t have to write a heartfelt Instagram post about my untimely demise.

He looked up and spotted a Duty Free sign down the terminal. Perfect. He walked to it and looked for the skincare David had demanded he get. 

Landed and my first (almost first) stop is skincare. Aren’t you proud? I’m going to get this one.

He chuckled as he attached an image of moisturizer for oily skin from the brand David told him to avoid at all costs. David had made sure Patrick knew he had dry skin and anything for oily skin would be incorrect. That gave him an idea. Banter. He could do banter.

Don’t worry, I know that’s…

He launched the gif search of his keyboard and searched “incorrect.” There had to be a gif for that. Time stopped when the results pulled up David. Why were there gifs of David? David grimacing, David’s nostrils flared as he moved his hand in a circle with his palm facing out, David rolling his eyes, David with a fake smile like the one he had used when the old lady at the bar kept flirting with him the other night. 

David, what’s this? [gif of David with his arms crossed over his chest with “that’s incorrect” written across the bottom]

Patrick stumbled out of the store to the nearest seat and dropped onto it. With shaking hands, he opened Google and did what he probably should’ve done days ago. He searched “David Rose.”

“Holy shit,” he whispered to no one. David had his own  show on HGTV? Patrick tugged at his hair with his free hand as he scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. How had they gone days spending almost every waking moment together, and he didn’t know that David was a goddamn television star with a catch phrase that showed up all over the fucking internet? 

His stomach turned. Probably the same reason David didn’t know he was a pro baseball player. They’d hid things from each other. 

Knowing David had basically done the same thing as him should ease his guilt over hiding that part of his life from David, but it didn’t. It made the whole week feel like a lie. If they both lied to each other, what else were they holding back about themselves? 

He tapped the images link and immediately regretted it. Patrick saw a string of gorgeous people on David’s arm—most he recognized. If David usually dated beautiful and trendy people, what the hell was David doing with a jock who prefers cheap beer?

Patrick flinched. David wasn’t with him. They had a vacation hook-up or whatever. Patrick wasn’t someone the tabloids would plaster on the internet as David’s latest hookup. 

Okay so I googled you. I probably should have done that before but I guess I was happy learning whatever you were willing to share

As he paced and checked his phone and paced some more, Patrick worked through the knot of thoughts in his brain, tugging one strand free at a time. Despite keeping his primary job from David, he hadn’t held anything else back. And there were plenty of other things he hadn’t shared with David during their days together. It didn’t erase all the other things they’d clicked on. Was his job really that big of a deal? Was David’s? 

He wanted to say no, but a job that puts someone in the public eye is different. 

and I get why you didn’t share. You don’t owe me anything and I can’t expect anything from you. I understand why you weren’t honest about your job

He saw the bubbles showing David was typing for about two seconds, then they disappeared. David didn’t have read receipts on, but now he knew David had seen the text. Where did the bubbles go? Why wasn’t he texting?

Patrick’s thumb hovered over the photo of David’s selfie in Patrick’s Jays shirt that he’d immediately set as David’s contact icon in his phone. He wanted to call and talk it out, but not in the middle of an airport. He didn’t need an audience. No, he’d wait. David might need some time to process. Patrick had caught him off guard. That’s all. 

Patrick paced back and forth in front of his seat until he caught one of the dirty looks thrown his direction.

He’d ambushed David and put him on the defensive for no reason. Shit. What if David was googling him? It wasn’t exactly great optics for Patrick to look like he was on the offensive toward David when he’d done the same damn thing.

I guess I should admit that I kind of did the same

I’m a player for the Toronto Blue Jays. I was able to go on vacation because it’s my off-season. I guess it’s sort of your off-season too?

Patrick threw his backpack on and paced up and down the terminal and glanced at his phone every few seconds. Still nothing. After about twenty minutes, he cracked and texted again.

I really wish you’d reply. I’m sort of spiraling here

forget that. Sorry. It’s fine, it really is. We both had our reasons to not be honest with each other and I guess that’s what it is.

we both thought we were with a nobody, huh? Joke’s on us. Too good to be true.

He grabbed some food for the flight to London for something to do other than check his phone. He wished he knew what was going on in David’s mind. Why wasn’t he replying? Was he angry? Freaking out? Had he even looked at Patrick’s other texts?

Why the hell did he care? They were just two people who had fucked for a few days. Why did he feel like his heart had been ripped from his chest?

Because those four days meant something, and he didn’t want things to end like that. Right when he was feeling like they were transitioning into the whole friendship thing, he had to blow it all up.

They’d have learned about each other eventually, but it probably would have been better if they’d told each other instead of Patrick stumbling on it. Why wasn’t David responding? 

This is too many texts. God, I’m so embarrassed. I think the silence is messing with me a little, but maybe you’re asleep or packing or something

Patrick continued pacing until he got called to board.

ok well my flight is boarding now.

He settled into his seat and watched his phone while the plane filled around him. 

I hope the rest of your vacation is a restful break from the spotlight. Guess we have even more in common than we realized?

The flight attendant asked everyone to turn off their phone. His thumb hovered over the power button, willing the bubbles to come back. He stared and stared, heart in his throat.

The bubbles appeared, left, then appeared again. 

“Sir, we need all passengers to turn off their phones, please.”

“Right. Okay, yeah.” He gave himself three more seconds. Not that it mattered that much since the plane had WiFi, but he needed a reply.

Three.

Two.

One.

No dots.

gotta turn my phone off now. Take care, David

He turned off his phone and clutched it in his hand until his knuckles turned white.

Patrick focused on inhaling through his nose and exhaling through his mouth as the flight attendants went through the safety checks. Then the pilot took over the intercom and talked through the flight plan.

“One more thing. We’re sorry to say that WiFi hasn’t been working on this aircraft today. We apologize for any inconvenience. Don’t worry, we’ll have the lights down low so you can use this time to sleep instead.”

Patrick slammed his head back against his seat. Fuck!

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

David’s fingers had officially pruned, and it was time to get out of the pool. He’d almost been able to relax. After he’d packed, he let himself enjoy the pool one last time as he watched the sunset. Maybe he’d watch television until he fell asleep.

After texting with Patrick earlier, he’d felt a bit lighter. His headache was still there, but it was now a dull throb instead of a sharp stab. Hydrating and the dinner Patrick had sent definitely helped. Patrick was the most thoughtful person. Arranging dinner for him two nights in a row? David would have a hard time adjusting back to a life filled with disingenuous people. 

David wrapped the towel around his waist and walked over to launch a playlist on his phone. As soon as his screen turned on, he saw Patrick’s name. David grinned and opened his texts. 

Landed and my first (almost first) stop is skincare. Aren’t you proud? I’m going to get this one. [photo of bottle attached]

David rolled his eyes. Troll. He loved it. He also kind of loved that Patrick texted during his layover. David hoped he would, but didn’t dare expect it because they didn’t owe that to each other. He started to type a snarky reply, but saw Patrick had sent more texts. 

Don’t worry, I know that’s…

David, what’s this? [gif of David with his arms crossed over his chest with “that’s incorrect” written across the bottom]

David froze. The phone fell from his hands, fingers dragging across the screen before it thunked against the tile.

He sat on the end of the bed. A wet towel on a bed is incorrect. He let out a startled, frantic laugh. David stared off into nothing as the loathing crashed over him in waves. It had been so stupid not to tell Patrick who he was, what he did for a living. 

Why did he feel like he’d committed a betrayal? All he’d done was choose not to share a part of his life with a stranger, which had been perfectly reasonable. But why did it feel like he’d hurt Patrick? He didn’t want to lie to Patrick. He had simply wanted to feel normal for a few days, but he should have known that no good could come of it.

The phone buzzed against his foot. He picked it up and saw a few random characters sitting unsent. Shit. He hoped Patrick hadn’t seen him type. 

Okay so I googled you. I probably should have done that before but I guess I was happy learning whatever you were willing to share

“Oh, god.” David clutched at his stomach and dry heaved. He had a vivid idea of the horrors that awaited Patrick in that Google search. David and a long string of failed relationships and b brief hookups. His reputation for being a bit too particular and demanding in his work. The metric fuckton of weird shit his family had done over the years. If Patrick went back enough pages, he’d probably come across photos from The Number at one of his parents’ Christmas parties.

Googling David was exactly what he didn’t want Patrick to do and could’ve prevented if he’d come clean about the full extent of his job. David had learned as a kid the value of PR and damage control and knew better. It’s like he saw a hot guy in dorky board shorts and decades of reputation management experience went out the window.

How the hell was he supposed to respond to that text? 

Only 87% of what you read about me online is true. Half of those relationships were for publicity.

Yeah, I’m particular and demanding, but I also have really excellent taste.

The thing is, Patrick, what you read online is a version of me, but this past week, I was able to be the real me. I don’t show that very often so you won’t see it in the press. Unless you go to the press. Please don’t go to the press.

That’s what he should send Patrick, maybe minus the last line. Patrick deserved to know why David had hedged whenever conversation shifted toward work and dodged easy questions that would have forced him to talk about the show. Without being able to talk to Patrick about his job, or more accurately, fall back on, David was forced to be more genuine. 

and I get why you didn’t share. You don’t owe me anything and I can’t expect anything from you. I understand why you weren’t honest about your job

He pictured Patrick in the airport, sitting, elbows on his knees, hunched forward, waiting for David to text. David really should reply with something, anything. Put Patrick out of his misery. Hell, put David out of his, but nothing seemed anywhere close to adequate. 

David stood and paced across his villa.

How could he say, on paper, this shouldn’t be a big deal? We found ourselves in the same place for a few days and had some fun. We didn’t share everything there is to know about each other. This is just my job. Everything else I shared was real.

But it was a big deal. He knew it with the same certainty he knew Patrick’s cargo shorts were an abomination. It was a big deal because David’s job was his life—the biggest part of his life. Everything else in his life revolved around his job like it was the sun, even whether he could spend Thanksgiving with his family.

When he went on dates with people, his job was what he talked about the most. It’s what he brought up first and made sure whoever he was with knew it was his top priority. That his job was the priority, never them.

David had chosen not to share that with Patrick, and he didn’t want to poke too closely at what that meant.  

The phone buzzed in David’s hand. He squinted a little when he finally dared to look at it. 

I guess I should admit that I kind of did the same

Huh? Before David could spiral in any of the hundred directions that vague text could take him, another came through.

I’m a player for the Toronto Blue Jays. I was able to go on vacation because it’s my off-season. I guess it’s sort of your off-season too?

Toronto Blue Jays. David looked over at the shirt he’d been reluctant to take off earlier when he’d went for a swim. Blue bird head and a maple leaf. Blue Jays. Holy shit. 

Patrick had lied? He said he did something with business. Accounting or consulting or something? The way he’d talked about it, he sounded like he loved it so much. At least David had been mostly telling the truth. He did do interior design for celebrities. He’d just left out the piece that for the past few years, he did it in front of cameras. 

He thought back to their first dinner together. The humid air, fresh gardenia soothing his nerves, the eager glint in Patrick’s eyes, the way he’d paused before saying what he did for a living. David hadn’t even noticed it at the time, but now it made sense. Maybe the pause had been for him to make up a career on the spot. The way Patrick’s eyes had lit up when he talked about it, god, David had bought it completely. If he lied about that, what else had he lied about? Why had he lied about it?

Probably for the same reason David hadn’t been completely honest. Because he wanted a break from being in the public eye and simply wanted to be himself for a few days.

The fucking irony. They both thought they’d found something normal with the other, but if they’d just been honest, they could have talked about that part of their lives along with everything else they’d shared. Now that he knew Patrick would get it, he wished he’d talked with him about it. 

Oh, fuck, was Patrick even out? David’s stomach churned. Patrick had seemed to open with his public affection with David, and he hadn’t sensed an ounce of hesitation with him. Maybe that’s why he vacationed so far away from where he lived? David couldn’t imagine it was easy for a male professional athlete to be publicly out with society the way it was. People could be cruel. He’d learned that the hard way.

Patrick had looked up David, so it was only fair David do the same. His mother had taught him young about the power of information. He opened a new browser tab on his phone and searched “Patrick Brewer.”

PBrew? Ew. That was an absolutely unfortunate nickname. Wait. PBrew. That tugged at something in his memory. A sharp laugh escaped. He did know that name. He remembered being just as horrified by it the first time he’d heard it. God, some of his friends had spent a lot of time crudely speculating over what it would be like to fuck a gay jock. Another memory surfaced. A pride charity event last June that he’d blown off. Patrick had been the keynote speaker. He covered his mouth with his hand. He could’ve met Patrick months ago. Would they have hit it off? Probably not. If David had been there, he would have been Hollywood David, and he couldn’t imagine Patrick liking Hollywood David. David didn’t even like Hollywood David. 

David sat down in an armchair and looked through the search results. Within two minutes, he’d learned Patrick was one of the few openly gay athletes in professional baseball but barely learned anything about his athletic prowess. That was a lot of attention paid to something that had nothing to do with his job. He couldn’t imagine the burden that placed on Patrick’s shoulders and the extra attention that put on anyone he dated. Hell, or anyone he was even caught having a conversation with. 

Actually, he could imagine it. Being one of the few openly pansexual celebrities, David was often treated like a novelty. The amount of digital ink spent discussing the pronouns of his partners got under his skin. 

There were far more articles and tweets and gossip blog posts about his dating life than his aesthetic skills. So, yeah, maybe he did understand Patrick’s world a bit more than he’d expected. They could have talked about it all. Commiserated. Let off some steam about it. David could talk to Stevie about it, but she wasn’t in the public eye. She worked on the periphery and had made it clear multiple times that he had a limit to his bitching about his celebrity with her.

At least in the Maldives, Patrick didn’t have to worry about any expected performative bullshit of being an out gay professional athlete. Patrick seemed constantly at ease when they were together. David knew the signs of someone looking over their shoulder for people sneaking photos, and David never noticed that with Patrick. He was glad he’d been able to give Patrick that, at least. A few days of not having to worry about his status and his job. He sure as hell knew Patrick had given him that this week. 

David continued reading interviews with Patrick. He’d braced himself to learn some sort of horrible speculation about him, but there was nothing. Patrick spent some of his free time visiting kids in hospitals and volunteering for local organizations. He didn’t simply donate signed sports balls or sweaty jock straps to fundraising auctions, but he played baseball with kids at local parks in the city. The photos weren’t even PR staged. They looked like photos statched from some parent’s Facebook page or something.

Patrick mentoring queer kid athletes, Patrick paying off his parent’s mortgage with his signing bonus, Patrick doing endless adorable and generous things that David would never dream of doing without the proper PR motivation or contractual obligation. Patrick was way too nice for him.

He read an interview with Patrick about how he spent his time between seasons. Patrick talked about his love for business and how he helped people with taxes and did business consulting. Oh. Maybe he hadn’t been that dishonest, then. 

The phone buzzed again. David had gone down a Google rabbit hole and hadn’t replied to Patrick yet. 

I really wish you’d reply. I’m sort of spiraling here

forget that. Sorry. It’s fine, it really is. We both had our reasons to not be honest with each other and I guess that’s what it is.

we both thought we were with a nobody, huh? Joke’s on us. Too good to be true.

Too good to be true. David clutched at his stomach and willed the nausea to stop. David dropped his phone onto his thigh and clutched his hair in both hands. What was he supposed to say? What could he say? He was probably torturing Patrick with the silence, but everything that came to mind felt woefully inadequate. 

sorry. This is too many texts. God, I’m so embarrassed. I think the silence is messing with me a little, but maybe you’re asleep or packing or something

Each of Patrick’s texts sent David’s anxiety into a deeper spiral. Each text dug the hole a bit deeper until David couldn’t even see his way out of it. He tried to regulate his breathing, but each attempt slipped through his fingers.

ok well my flight is boarding now.

David did the most incorrect thing of all and lay down on the villa floor. Sometimes getting in the prone position and isolating his focus on different parts of his body helped. He thought about the tension in his temples, forced his tongue from the roof of his mouth, relaxed his shoulders, wiggled each finger, flexed his toes. 

His phone buzzed again, and all the tension came flooding back.

I hope the rest of your vacation is a restful break from the spotlight. Guess we have even more in common than we realized?

His pulse thundered in his ears. His anxiety was actively hurting Patrick. Hurting himself with it was one thing, but hurting others… That wasn’t okay. Fuck. Fuck! David began to type an apology, but paused.

gotta turn my phone off now. Take care, David

Fuck! He needed to send something so Patrick had it when the plane’s WiFi kicked in. Patrick deserved that, at least. 

He supposed it was a sign that he shouldn’t waste too much time grieving Patrick. They both had willingly stepped outside of their real lives for a few days in bigger ways than he realized. Clearly they were looking for the same thing, it’s just too bad they couldn’t find it with each other. 

Even if he let himself dare to fantasize about dating Patrick, knowing Patrick was in the public eye changed everything. The stakes were too high. Paparazzi would have a field day digging up dirt on both of them. David dating a Canadian athlete? Is David Rose settling down? Who is this wholesome guy who caught the heart of HGTV’s perpetual bachelor? Patrick dating some artsy television personality? Canada’s sweetheart lives it up with a torrid romance with David Rose? Will it burn out as fast as Rose’s past paramours? 

Maybe this discovery was what they needed to transition firmly to the friend zone. The whole thing they had that week was too good to be true. To good to be real, to exist outside of paradise. The Maldives had been their temporary utopia. 

David would never be accused of being an optimist, but at that point, he was grasping at straws. At least he didn’t have to worry about how to tell Patrick who he was. That damage had been done, and the only path was through.

He took a deep breath and picked up his phone. 

I am so sorry that I didn’t reply. Fuck. Patrick, I’m sorry. I did freak out a little. Anxiety is a serious asshole. I freaked because I feel bad and don’t really know what to say. I’m not rendered speechless often, which I’m sure you can imagine. I’m really sorry I withheld that part of my job. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t intentional. It was, and I understand if it upsets you. When I’m home, I’m recognized and I can never tell if people are talking to me for me or because of who I am or what I do. For a few days, I wanted to just be David, and you let me be that. Be me. I’ll always be grateful. I’m guessing maybe that’s why you held back your job too? It’s okay. I totally understand and you don’t need to explain yourself or justify anything. I hope you got the break from your job that you needed because you deserve it. We both do. This text is embarrassingly long. Fuck. Sorry. It’s going to be like two scrolls at least. I’ve never sent a text this long while sober before. Now I’m wishing I’d have told you. It would’ve been nice to talk to you about that part of my life. Okay. I’ll stop now. I guess, I just hope you have a good flight and if you decide you don’t feel comfortable staying in touch after what I did and whatever you learn about me, I understand. I suppose I don’t need to tell you that not everything you read on the internet is true? Obviously some is, but, if you have any questions or anything, I promise to be honest. God this is too much. Sorry. If you’re up for being friends, I am too. I definitely am. If not, well, I wish you the best. This week has meant so much to me. Thank you, Patrick.

Before he could doubt himself, he sent that block of text to Patrick. He really should get ready for bed because the next two days would surely be sleepless, but he was too keyed up to sleep.

The possibility of Patrick deciding to cut contact with him, while valid, would break him. Absolutely break him. David gripped the phone in his hands until his skin paled. David Rose, who didn’t let people in, had served his heart on a platter. Five days ago he would’ve been thrilled to meet someone, have some fun, maybe make a new friend or someone he could meet up with occasionally for great sex. 

Now? The thought of Patrick being in his life only as a casual friend or hookup? It satisfied him about as much as a bucket of water trying to drown out an inferno. 

David and his emotions were his own worst enemy. 

He sat up in the chair and squared his shoulders. He would be fine. He always ended up fine. Learning about Patrick’s job and Patrick learning about his didn’t change a damn thing. There was almost a continent between them and schedules that made long-distance relationships a pipe dream. Assuming Patrick liked David enough outside of the relaxed environment of the Maldives to even want to talk to him back home, let alone date. 

David would throw himself into work. If he worked until exhaustion took him, it might help him manage a couple of hours of sleep tonight while making his transition back home easier.

He looked at his calendar for the first time since he met Patrick to prepare for what awaited him when he got back to L.A. Grateful it was working hours with the time difference, he texted Stevie a few questions.

Why are you asking about work instead of getting your dick sucked by the business nerd hottie with the fugly board shorts?

he left today

I’m sorry

me too. also turns out he’s this [link to an in-depth feature story on Patrick]

wow

yeah. So I’m gonna work for a while

understood

Stevie then launched into catching him up, and he focused on work instead of why his phone wasn’t buzzing with a reply from Patrick. David knew how to block pain with work. He’d been doing it for years. 

When his head spun with details for photo shoots and filming and the client selection process for next season, he took a break to grab a fresh bottle of water. He spotted the truffle box again and smiled a little. 

Despite knowing the truth about each other now, and all the complications of their lives, what they’d shared that week was real and nothing could take that away. No matter what happened with him and Patrick in the future, whether they’d become friends, acquaintances, or people with fond memories of that guy they met once, they would always have those four days together.

David pulled the truffle box out of the fridge and took it to the patio. He sat on the steps to the ocean like he had many times that week, kicked his feet in the water and enjoyed the chocolate as it melted in his mouth, missing the taste of chocolate in Patrick’s kisses.

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

“Patrick!”

Patrick turned around at the familiar voice and smiled at his best friend, a lumberjack in a Jays hoodie, who strode toward him with far too much energy for that early in the morning.

“Hey, Mike.” Patrick dropped his backpack to the ground.

“Welcome home, bud!” Mike pulled him into a hug. 

“Thanks, man. I appreciate you picking me up this early.” Patrick gratefully accepted the coat Mike handed him. Good friends pick you up at the airport. Great friends park their car and come in to meet you at baggage claim with your winter coat so you don’t have to freeze your balls off walking out to the car in November. 

“You look wrecked.” 

“So thoughtful.” Patrick pulled on his coat and kept one eye on the baggage carousel. “I’ve been traveling for over thirty hours. I feel wrecked.” He tried to ignore Mike’s scrutiny. “Becca cool with you leaving this early?”

Mike clapped Patrick on the shoulder. “You kidding? She’s making me stop for the fancy donuts to bring home. She’s thrilled. She also sent along a thermos of tea for you in the car.”

Patrick’s shoulders relaxed a fraction. It was the first time his body has slightly eased from its panic mode since leaving David today. Yesterday? Yesterday. “Your wife is incredible.”

“That’s why I married her. So, what’s with the red eyes? You sure don’t look relaxed for someone who spent the last week living it up in paradise with your own private pool like some sort of rich, hot-shot pro athlete or something.”

The chuckle came almost easy. He was so grateful he and Mike had stayed close over the years. Even when they went off to different colleges, and when Patrick’s baseball career left him traveling much of the time, Mike had been there for him. He’d seen Patrick through splitting with Rachel, coming out, his bumbling attempts at gay dating, meeting Ken, breaking up with Ken. Mike had even convinced Patrick to still go on the trip by himself. In a way, he had Mike to thank for meeting David.

Patrick supposed he’d been there for Mike, too. He’d played wingman the night Mike met Becca in the bar, he’d brought food to the hospital when they had their first kid, been there when Mike’s dad got sick, took Mike and Becca to Vegas for Mike’s thirtieth. 

Mike was the one person Patrick could talk to about David, but talking about David meant thinking about David. It’s not like he wasn’t already, not like he hadn’t been thinking about David in a constant loop all week, but talking about it made everything seem more real.

“Nothing but jet lag and lack of sleep.” Patrick watched the bags pass by.

“You’re still a shit liar. You were awfully quiet all week. I expected a few more texts from you, but you must have been busy. What were you busy doing?”

Patrick’s cheeks burned. “I did some paddle boarding. And, uh, went snorkeling. Swimming.” The left side of his mouth curved up at the memory of David’s shriek when Patrick, dripping wet from the ocean, climbed on David while he lay sprawled on his lounger. 

“That. That face. What aren’t you telling me?”

“What’s with the interrogation?”

“I’ve known you for twenty years. Did you end up hooking up with someone?” Mike lightly punched Patrick’s shoulder. “You did! Thank god we’ll have something more interesting to talk about on the drive than our potty training woes with Trixie.”

Patrick idly nodded as he spotted his bag. 

About ten minutes later, they were on the road.

Ten minutes after that, Patrick had filled Mike in on most of the David stuff, aside from the more explicit things.

Mike let out a long whistle. “Damn.”

“Tell me about it.” Patrick propped his elbow on the car door and dropped his chin in his palm. He itched to text David but he was hoping David was asleep on the plane.

“You spent the week with David Rose? Becca is going to lose her shit. She fucking loves him. Like, I think she has him on her list of freebie celebrities.”

“Freebie celebrities?”

“You know, the ones it doesn’t count as cheating if you fuck them.”

“You two are ridiculous.” Patrick bit the inside of his cheek. That thought probably thrilled him more than it should.

“You had this great trip. Now what? What are you going to do about it?”

Patrick frowned. “Nothing. Text him? Try to be friends? I don’t know. Maybe grab a drink with him when we play the Angels.” He knew he wanted to be friends with David, but it was so hard to imagine. Especially now that he knew what David did for a living. He couldn’t imagine David had the space in his life for a friendship with a ball player from Canada. David had much more interesting people to spend his time on.

With all the texting they’d done during Patrick’s last flight—thank god for working WiFi—he had a much better understanding of David’s job and how absolutely impossible it would be for them to be anything other than friends between the demands placed on both of them.

It had been so damn nice talking to David about everything for the past few hours, though. Even when he felt the exhaustion down to his toes, the texts pinging back and forth between him and David kept him from falling asleep. They’d talked about being queer in the public eye, strategies for dodging the press, awkward fan encounters, how they get away from it all to recuperate. Knowing David got it made Patrick want him even more. 

At least during their days together, every time his imagination ran away from him with thoughts of maybe, he reminded himself how hard it would be to find someone who not only understood, but accepted Patrick’s job and the lifestyle that came with it. Ken had initially loved the idea of it, but eventually it became too much.

Knowing David wouldn’t get annoyed at stopping to take photos with a fan or avoiding certain places for privacy made him yearn to explore what could be between them. For so long he thought the key was finding someone with a regular job, but maybe he’d been wrong. No. That was just his heart talking. It would heal, and he’d distract himself with work and exercise until the pain dulled. 

“Why not more? From what you shared, it sounds like you had something worth exploring. I’ve known you long enough to know you don’t just open up to anyone like that.”

“I open up to lots of people.” 

“You’re nice to lots of people. That’s different than letting them in.”

Patrick scowled at Mike. Sometimes having a best friend who knew you better than anyone was a real pain in the ass. 

“With our schedules? We’d never see each other.” He looked back out the passenger window and watched the rain fall. “I’m not his type, anyway.”

“Sure sounds like you’re his type.”

“When I looked him up online, I saw that he’s dated tons of actors and musicians and models and designers. All famous people.”

Mike’s sharp laugh echoed in the car. “Patrick, mate, I hate to break it to you, but you’re a famous person, and it sounds like he doesn’t mind.”

Patrick opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. “It’s not the same. I’m not famous because I’m cool. I’m known because I can play baseball and I’m gay.”

“I think you’re drawing lines where there aren’t any. What could it hurt?”

His heart? His sanity? 

Patrick steered the conversation toward Mike’s family for the rest of the drive to pick up donuts and drop Patrick off at home. He was bone-deep exhausted, but needed to stay awake as long as he could to minimize the jet lag. 

He ordered grocery delivery, caught up on his consulting email, touched base with his publicist, started his meal prep for the next few days, and familiarized himself with the flight options between Toronto and LAX just to torture himself. 

Eventually he ran out of excuses and other things to do, so he unzipped his suitcase and began unpacking. After he’d started a load of laundry, he pulled out his toiletry case to put it back in his bathroom for his next trip. Underneath the case, he saw a tube of something in a plastic bag. He hadn’t packed it. 

Heart in his throat, Patrick pulled the bag out and opened the bag. There was a folded piece of paper inside. 

For the love of god, please use this mask twice a week. Your skin might look obnoxiously youthful and beautiful now, but it won’t last forever. Trust me.

D

Patrick traced his fingertip over David’s words. His eyes burned. He was probably too dehydrated at that point to produce tears, but his body made a valiant effort, anyway. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to use the rest of it. Any time he did, he’d remember sitting on the edge of the tub while David carefully applied the mask to his skin and lectured him about his horrifically inadequate skincare routine. Technically, the lack thereof. 

Patrick put the tube and the note on his dresser next to the baseball from his first home run with the Jays. He touched the ball every morning when he woke up and each evening before bed. Something in that routine grounded him every day.

He pulled his phone from his pocket and opened the text thread with David. They’d stopped texting when Patrick landed and David’s threats to block him if he didn’t try to get some sleep. He smiled as he reread the last message. He could hear David saying it.

No, I’m not sleeping yet because I have a jet lag survival strategy, but I’m grocery shopping and unpacking and found the mask you sent with me. Thank you. I’ll be sure to treat my skin with the care you think it deserves.

When Patrick didn’t get a quick reply, he hoped David was finally getting some sleep too. They’d text again. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, but he felt some comfort in the fact that they’d at least be friends. A friend he had a lot of big and confusing feelings for after too short a time together, but that would fade. It had to.

Chapter Text

This chapter is a mostly epistolary look at David and Patrick’s communication over the few months following their trip. It’s not every communication between them, but a selection of their frequent chatting meant to show their developing connection.

 

November 21

Patrick: So… I watched your show

David: oh god. I was really hoping you wouldn’t do that

Patrick: lol why? Of course I was going to watch it. There are seasons to catch up on, David. S-e-a-s-o-n-s

David: please don’t watch all of it. You’ll never look at me the same. It’s so embarrassing

Patrick: but it’s your job

David: my job is to use my considerable talent for making spaces look amazing. Unfortunately that job does not include the final editing of the show

Patrick: so you’re telling me that you don’t throw ceramic statues when you learn your fancy marble is on backorder for six months?

David: okay! That happened one time! I’d just learned Sylvia had ordered the wrong window treatments and Max got eggshell paint not ecru like I had explicitly told them. It was a bad day and the client was an asshole. God. They milked the ever loving fuck out of that clip

Patrick: no kidding. Not sure slow motion from three angles was necessary, but it was highly amusing

David: you’re an asshole

Patrick: ;)

David: why did you watch that one? That was like the middle of season 2

Patrick: what makes you think that was the only episode I watched?

David: you didn’t

Patrick: 😇

David: I don’t know if I’m terrified or if that’s really sweet

Patrick: I think both is okay

David: lol. Um I guess thanks for watching? And I’m sorry you sat through all of that?

Patrick: definitely don’t be sorry. It was fun to watch you work. You’re really good at what you do. And sorry that ceramic throwing day was a bad one

David: thanks, but you’re still an asshole tho

Patrick: one of your favorite things about me

David: I will not dignify such slander with a response

Patrick: while I have your rapt attention, can I ask your professional opinion on something?

David: you want a new wardrobe?!

Patrick: No? I thought you did interior design not fashion

David: oh honey, fashion is basically my other job. It’s half of why people take me seriously on the decor. What do you want my highly sought after professional opinion on?

Patrick: wait - why do you think I need a new wardrobe?

David: the internet is forever, Patrick, but your khakis don’t have to be [photo of Patrick wearing khakis and a polo shirt at a charity picnic]

Patrick: 🤣 fair enough. Actually, I was thinking about finally doing some things to my condo. It’s been passable but not really intentionally decorated. I think I should make it feel more lived-in

**incoming FaceTime request from David Rose 🌴 🌹**

Patrick’s heart thudded against his ribs when he saw David’s sleepy selfie in that Jays shirt blown up on his screen. He’d grown used to seeing it small through their frequent texting, but it was the first time they’d FaceTimed since getting back from the Maldives last week.

“Hi, David.” He winced at the soft breathiness of his own voice.

“Hi,” David said even more softly.

They stared at each other through the screen for a moment. It was weird seeing David’s vivacity muted through pixels, but he’d take David’s face in any way he could get it. As a friend.

“It’s good to see you.” Friends said that, right? 

“Yeah, you too.”

“I see what you mean about the hair.” The words tumbled out of Patrick’s mouth as he took in David’s non-vacation vibe. 

David’s hand shot up to his hair. “What’s wrong with it?” His voice went high. 

“Absolutely nothing, but you kept talking about how the humidity messed up how you usually styled it.” Patrick wasn’t sure it was okay to reference their time together, but he’d been thinking about it non-stop. How could he not talk about it? 

“See? Now you get it,” David said in an haughty voice.

Patrick shrugged. “Both suit you. This is just different.”

David blinked at him. “Um. Okay. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, David,” Patrick said, chuckling. “It’s probably rude of me to ask you for advice when you spend all day doing this stuff.”

Patrick had been looking for an excuse to message David, which had basically become an evergreen issue. What to text David about, how to tease him, how to get them into a longer conversation, how to live his life in the cold Toronto weather alone when he itched to return to paradise with David.

But that’s not what they were doing. They were friends now. Friends who didn’t have mind-blowing sex.

David’s face softened for a moment. “Rude? Are you kidding? This sounds way more fun than decorating for some tech millionaire who demands a library full of books they’ll never read with one of those tacky Skymall globe bar carts.”

“That is very specific.”

“I wish I made it up.” David’s nostrils flared. “Anyway. Give me a tour of your place and tell me what you’re looking for.”

By the time they hung up two hours later, Patrick had a ton of ideas and missed David even more. 

 

 

 

November 26

David: [photo of table centerpiece with an assortment of rose gold pumpkins and turkeys] look at this monstrosity

Patrick: yikes. I have questionable taste but even I can tell that’s bad

David: tell me about it. I tried to get my family to ban the use of rose gold in all circumstances, but my mom and sister refused

Patrick: are those rose gold turkeys with rhinestone eyes?

David: unfortunately, yes. I don’t know what my mother was thinking

Patrick: that’s your mom’s doing? wow

David: A Rose holiday event is always special

Patrick: I keep forgetting it’s a holiday down there. My dinner was nothing fancy. Chicken pasta and cheap beer

David: I’d kill for some chicken pasta right now. My mom always chooses food that will make a statement over tasting great

Patrick: but isn’t tasting good a statement?

David: EXACTLY. Thank you. I’ve been saying that for years

Patrick: this chicken dish is pretty easy to cook. It would be a good one for you to do. Are you still thinking about learning?

David: Yeah. It’ll be one of my resolutions for next year

Patrick: that’s a good one. Any others?

David: carve out more time for non-work stuff. Time for me, I guess. You?

Patrick: I haven’t decided yet. I’m not usually a New Year’s resolution kind of guy, but I’m thinking about priorities. I guess I’ve got a month to settle on something

David: Well, if you want a sounding board for your resolutions, I’m very opinionated and would be happy to help

Patrick: You opinionated? Shocking.

David: okay, rude

Patrick: how’d the show go today? I caught some of it, but had a client meeting through most of it

David: you watched it? Oh. thanks

Patrick: it was such a hardship. Watching you attempt to banter with Martha Stewart? I think my favorite part was the way your nostrils flared when she talked about what to do with the turkey innards 

David: Can you blame me?! It wasn’t even a cooking segment! Fucking gross

Patrick: you should’ve gotten hazard pay for that

David: I know you’re teasing me, but it was a very difficult day. And L.A. traffic was especially awful, but I got here just in time for the shitty centerpieces and slim pickings on the appetizers. I’d better go tho. My sister keeps trying to read my phone and it’s really fucking annoying

Patrick: want me to send something that’ll make her never want to look at your phone again?

David: as tempted as I am to know what you think that would be, she’s shameless. Literally. Remind me someday to tell you about the time she won someone’s freedom playing strip poker with some big name political leaders in scary countries

Patrick: I have so many questions

David: welcome to my world

 

 

December 1

David: omg Patrick I just realized something amazing

Patrick: Hey! what is this amazing realization? 

David: Your team? The Blue Jays? You’re the BJs

Patrick: wow

David: you play for a professional BJ team, Patrick. Look at you, living the dream

Patrick: woooooow

David: is it like an especially big honor to be the VIP of the BJs?

Patrick: MVP, David

David: a bird is a weird mascot for a BJ. I mean, if it had to be a bird, why not go with a swallow?

Patrick: [gif of David saying “that’s incorrect!”] too soon?

David:🖕🏼asshole

 

 

 

December 6

David: Patrick

Patrick: David

Patrick: why am I scared by how long the bubbles are bouncing. Writing a novel?

David: sorry, was just trying to figure out the best way to express my utter delight at this discovery. [link to an article about the 10 sexiest queer professional athletes in Canada]

David: #3. I’m impressed Mr. Brewer. That’s a respectable showing. External verification of your hotness while still keeping you humble

Patrick: so. You found that.

David: I did! It absolutely made my day. I was about to set fire to some silk bedding but then I saw that and somehow things on set weren’t so bad any longer. It really put things into perspective, you know? I might be having a shit day at work, but at the end of it, I get to bask in the knowledge that I know the third hottest queer pro athlete in Canada

Patrick: this is going to be a thing now, isn’t it?

David: was it your idea to put a kitten in the hat or

Patrick: not my idea

David: right right. okay. The whole topless thing while wearing your performance pants? That your idea?

Patrick: one of the ideas was a jock strap. The pants thing was a definite improvement

David: wow. I mean, I understand your choice but the world was robbed of you in a jock strap. I mourn for us all

Patrick: ☺️ thanks

David: oh shut up you know you’re hot

Patrick: look who’s talking. how’d you see the list? I didn’t realize you were a consumer of queer Canadian media

David: I’m from Canada. I see things that happen in Canada 

Patrick: uh huh

 

 

December 10

Patrick: Happy Hanukkah! 

David: wow, thanks, Patrick. That’s really nice of you

Patrick: I’m realizing how much harder it is to tell if you’re being sarcastic over text

David: No! I was just surprised. I forgot I’d mentioned it to you that I sort of celebrated it

Patrick: how could I forget you describing yourself as a delightful half-half situation? 

David: thank you for remembering. Genuinely, I appreciate it. It’s been kind of a hard day with an asshole client and this was really nice to get

Patrick: I’m sorry it’s been a hard day. Want to talk? I’ve got no plans tonight. Or do you have Hanukkah plans?

David: No plans. Going to my parent’s for dinner in a few days. Talking would be really nice actually. I’m still at the studio wrapping up some things, but hope to be home by 8. Is that too late for you?

Patrick: Nope! I’ll be up. Call me whenever :) 

David: Thanks Patrick :)

Patrick: Anytime!

 

 

December 16

Patrick: well this is fun [link to a Tumblr account all about David and his show]

David: my god

Patrick: I think my favorite post is the compilation of every time you’ve said “incorrect” on your show. It’s a work of art. The pacing, the drama, the three minutes of length

David: you really need to get a life. How the hell did you find that?

Patrick: Becca sent it to me ;) 

David: how does she event find this shit? Is she a private detective?

Patrick: lol nothing that salacious. I think she’s in a Facebook group for fans of your show

David: oh my god

Patrick: yup. A steady stream of blackmailing material and hot goss

David: ugh. But you’ll ask me before believing anything, right? Because half that shit is probably old news or lies

Patrick: of course, David :) I prefer my hot goss from the source

David: for the love of god stop saying hot goss

Patrick: h o t g o s s

David: I hate you

 

 

December 25

David: Merry Christmas, Patrick!

Patrick: Merry Christmas, David! Have you mentally prepared yourself for The Number?

David: I can’t believe I told you about that

Patrick: hmm would we say “told” or maybe “admitted” after I presented you with evidence of your past performances?

David: seriously, where did you find that

Patrick: I’ll never reveal my sources

David: it was Becca wasn’t it

Patrick: I promised my source anonymity

David: what’s it gonna take to bribe her to stop sending you dirt on me?

Patrick: I babysit their kids. Unless you can top that, I’m pretty sure I’ve got the advantage here

David: Rude. Anyway no, I’m never mentally prepared. I will be enjoying some Prosecco as soon as I finish getting ready

Patrick: Taking time to straighten your hair?

David: I thought we agreed to never speak of that again

Patrick: I didn’t agree to any such thing

David: menace

Patrick: I hope the food is better than Thanksgiving, at least

David: you and me both. Please, regale me with the Brewer family traditions. 

Patrick: We each draw a name and buy PJs for that person and wear them during dinner. The only rule is they have to be stretchy because of all the food. I got ones with palm trees on them this year 

David: that’s so fucking wholesome. Why palm trees?

Patrick: I guess because I kept talking about how great the trip was. My cousin bought them to tease me

David: oh. That’s actually really sweet. 

Patrick: she’s a bit of an asshole. You’d like her

David: An asshole Brewer? I’m scandalized. tell me about the delicious food you ate. I need to live vicariously through you

Patrick: [photo of a long table filled with side dishes and main dishes] [photo of a variety of cookies and other treats] [photo of a line of pies and cakes] 

David: omfg. [gif of Liz Lemon saying “I want to go to there”]

Patrick: the sugar cookies make a great breakfast

David: I bet a great midnight snack too

Patrick: I wonder how well the cookies last. Maybe I could ship you some

David: don’t tease me with that unless you mean it

Patrick: it would be rude of me to withhold Marcy Brewer cookies from you :)

David: well if you insist :)

Patrick: btw I can’t wait to watch your Christmas special

David: but whyyyyy. Why are you putting us both through this torture? I don’t think I can live with the knowledge that you’ve watched it

Patrick: But I’ve been promised that David Rose will transform a Texas oil millionaire’s gaudy family home filled with incorrect Christmas tchotchkes to a classy winter wonderland. I have my heart set on watching it. And Becca already has a drinking game planned out for it

David: you’re fucking kidding me

Patrick: it’s incorrect to kid about serious matters

David: I hate you

Patrick: check your email today?

David: ew no it’s a holiday. Wait, you check your email on holidays?!

Patrick: I mean, sometimes? My personal one, not my work ones

David: weirdo

Patrick: lol check your email

David: Patrick! What’s this???

Patrick: it’s nothing. Just a cooking class. To help you with your resolution

David: Patrick, thank you. I’m really excited about this. This is the most thoughtful gift I’ve gotten in a very, very long time. 

Patrick: you’re welcome. I hope it’s a good class

David: too bad you can’t join me

Patrick: that would be fun :) 

David: well, I’m an inconsiderate asshole and didn’t get you anything, but because I’m feeling generous right now, here. [video attached of David performing The Number in a previous year]

Patrick: my god

David: you’re welcome. Let’s never speak of this again. And if that video gets out, I’ll know where it came from because you’re the only one I’ve sent it to

Patrick: I’m honored. Best Christmas gift ever. Your hair doesn’t move at all. How much hairspray did you use?

David: nope. This isn’t a Q&A

Patrick: will you teach me those dance moves?

David: we’re done talking now

Patrick: but David, all I want for Christmas is for you to teach me how to dance like that

David: 🖕🏼

Patrick: 🎅 🎄 🕺

 

 

 

December 27

Patrick: omgggg daviddddd it’s so prettttty

David: lol what’s so pretty

Patrick: the winter wonderland, duh!

David: omg you’re watching it

Patrick: [voice recording — transcript:

Becca: David omg hi this is Patrick’s friend Becca. The way those lights looked like snowflakes? Magic, David, magic. 

Patrick: Becca! Give me back my phone! 

Becca: Patrick! I’m talking to David right now so can you leave me alone please? 

*rustling sounds* 

Patrick: You’re too drunk to talk to David. 

Becca: Brewer, you’re drunker than me! 

Mike: Okay, you two, knock it off. You’re both drunk. 

Becca: Shut up, Mike. You’re drunk. 

Patrick: Oooh sick burn, Becca.]

David: that was a wild ride. Do I even want to know the rules to this drinking game? Because whatever they are, I think you’re losing

Patrick: We chug every time you say incorrect. You say it so much. Like so much David 

David: not that much! 

Patrick: [photo of the handwritten rules]

David: you drink every time I make something look better? That’s a pretty subjective rule

Patrick: that’s what’s making me drunk. You make things look soooooo pretty

David: lol this is adorable

 

 

December 31 - Midnight EST

Patrick: Happy New Year, David!! I this new year is your best one yet

 

 

December 31 - Midnight PST

David: Patrickkkkk! Happy New Year to you too!! OMG I forgot midnight happens at different times for us lol

David: you’re probs asleep bc it’s sooo late there

David: I hope your phone is on silent

David: oh god I hope I don’t wake you up

David: did you have a good NYE 

David: I went to a party and had some realllly good champagne 

David: but the people were dumb and I didn’t want to be there any longer. I snuck out just before midnight and now I’m in an uber at midnight

David: do you know the best part of last year? Our trip. that was so nice 

David: anyway, my battery is getting low. Happy New Year, Patrickkkkk!!

 

 

January 1

@TMZ: David Rose spotted going to the Gucci New Year’s Eve party solo and leaving solo. Still heartbroken over Sebastien Raine? Our sources say yes. Meanwhile, Sebastien was spotted getting a little down and dirty at midnight [photo of Sebastien making out with a runway model]

Patrick: how’s the hangover? 

David: excuse you. How do you know I have a hangover? Just because it was NYE doesn’t mean I got sloppy drunk like a twenty-something

Patrick: Call it a hunch ;)

David: I see that I drunk texted. Right. Well. That’s a thing that happened.

Patrick: glad you made it home okay

David: sorry if my texts were weird

Patrick: not weird at all. The trip was the highlight of my year too

David: oh. Well that’s a lovely thing to say

Patrick: I mean the food was incredible. How could it not be?

David: ha. ha.

David: did you have fun last night?

Patrick: I did. Got together with a few friends. It was low-key

David: that’s great

Patrick: even got a midnight kiss

David: oh? That’s great. Good for you for getting out there. I knew one of Canada’s most eligible bachelors wouldn’t stay single for long

Patrick: Not to brag, but I was definitely the envy of everyone at the party [photo of Mike and Becca’s daughter, Trixie, kissing Patrick on the cheek]

David: Okay that has no right being so fucking cute. I have no interest in children, but Mike and Becca did a damn fine job

Patrick: Me neither. I don’t want my own kids, but it’s fun to be uncle

David: No? You seem like the kind of guy with an army of mini-Patricks

David: Sorry, that was probably really rude of me

Patrick: It’s fine! I always thought I’d have kids, but not because I wanted them. I guess I sort of just assumed it was something I should do. But part of the whole gay realization included evaluating a bunch of my assumptions like that one

David: I bet you’re an amazing uncle, Patrick

Patrick: Thanks, I like to think so :)

David: did you decide on any resolutions for the year?

Patrick: I think I’m going to focus on being happy. Whatever that looks like. I don’t think I’ve prioritized it enough in the past

David: Great minds and all that. Mine is very similar. Here’s to a year filled with happiness for both of us

Patrick: 🍹 to a great year for us

 

 

January 8

Patrick: I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I need fashion advice

**FaceTime call from David Rose 🌴🌹**

Patrick had hoped for that response. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t waited to text David until late in the evening, when the odds were higher that David might be at home. 

They’d gotten into a habit of FaceTiming once or twice a week. Sometimes when David needed to vent about work and text wouldn’t cut it, other times when Patrick wanted David’s opinion on his ongoing redecorating (or actually decorating) his condo. But most of the time, there wasn’t really a reason. They’d be texting and one would ask if the other was free for video. Those were Patrick’s favorite days. 

“This had better not be a joke.”

“Hi to you, too, David.”

David huffed, and it was adorable. “I’m serious. You can’t tease me about fashion. That’s a hard limit.”

Patrick adopted a serious expression. “I’d never pretend to need your advice about fashion or interior design.”

David’s lips twitched. “But other things aren’t off limits?”

“Of course not. I need to tease you about something.” Patrick should be embarrassed by how easily his smiles came around David. Two months later and Patrick was still completely enamored by David. Probably even more so. Actually, definitely more so. 

Once they’d left the Maldives, Patrick had worried that the magic would fade as paradise grew more distant in their rearview mirror. With David starting to film a new season, and Patrick getting busy with his off-season business consulting work, it would have been easy for things to fade and become a fond memory.

Neither seemed willing to let that happen. Patrick felt like they both put equal effort into keeping in touch. Just as soon as he started to worry he texted David too much, he’d think about all the times David initiated. 

He wasn’t sure what David’s feelings were, but he felt confident that they’d become good friends, at least. Patrick still didn’t think there was a possibility for anything else, but he loved having David in his life. 

“Tell me about this fashion crisis.”

“I got word today that I’m receiving an award, and I have no idea what to wear to the ceremony next month,” Patrick said.

“Congratulations!” David’s eyes lit up. “What’s the award for?”

Patrick’s cheeks warmed. “It’s for contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community.”

“Patrick,” David said on an exhale. “That’s incredible.” David’s entire demeanor softened. 

Patrick scratched the back of his neck. “Thanks. It’s not a sports thing. They said it’s recognizing the work I do with queer youth.”

David’s smile grew into a beautiful, toothy thing. “I’m proud of you.” 

Patrick swallowed the lump in his throat. “Thanks.” Patrick didn’t realize how badly he wanted to hear those words from David. A guy he’d known for two months? Patrick craved his approval, like nothing he’d felt before.

“Is there a specific look you’re going for?”

Patrick sat the phone on his dresser and walked over to his closet. “I’ve got a few suits, but I don’t know that any of them feel right. They work for events with athletes, but I feel like I need something more fashionable for this.”

“What do you mean by more fashionable? Like a certain designer?”

Patrick didn’t know how to express it. It was silly. Not looking queer enough or something. Intellectually, he knew that wasn’t a thing, but he felt so plain in his clothes sometimes. Plain didn’t usually bother him though, but maybe this time he wanted to stand out a little.

“Something more flashy, maybe?”

David frowned a little. “Why do you want to wear something more flashy?”

“To fit in? I don’t know.”

“Is this like the Met Gala or something?”

Patrick laughed as he pulled out one of his navy blue suits. It was his favorite, but it looked like it belonged at a team dinner, not some awards ceremony. “No. This is my best suit, but it’s kind of dull.”

David hummed and got a calculating look in his eyes. “I think you should wear what makes you comfortable. You’re queer and you’ll be there, so whatever you wear will work perfectly.” 

He felt a little silly. Nodding, Patrick put the suit back. “You’re right.”

“That said. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading the things that make you feel comfortable. Hold on. I’m going to email you something.”

David went quiet as he tapped away on a keyboard. It was kind of nice to be on a call together without having to fill the silence. It almost felt like they were in the same space again, looking at the ocean.

“Okay, check your email.”

Patrick took his phone into the living room and opened Gmail on his iPad. A little thrill shot through him at seeing David’s name. With time, maybe those thrills would dull a little. Patrick wasn’t sure if he dreaded that time or couldn’t wait. 

He opened the message and clicked on the link. It took him to a navy blue suit on the Givenchy website. The cut was slimmer than he’d normally wear, but it didn’t look too far off from the suit he already owned. But something about it felt different, better, exciting. Perfect.

“I love it.”

“You’d have to take it to a good tailor to fit the pants around your ass and thighs, but something like that could work.”

Patrick’s heart pounded a little faster at David, referencing his ass and thighs. His mind immediately went to the ways David had worshipped them during their brief time together. David looked away, and his cheeks darkened a little. He hoped David’s mind went to the same place.

“It’s perfect, David. It still feels like me, but upgraded.”

“The cut would look great on you, and it’s immediately apparent that it’s a luxury designer suit. I could send you a few other options that are similar to see what you’d be able to get. You said it’s next month?”

“Yeah, in New York.”

David’s eyes widened. “When? I’ll be in New York next month.”

Patrick’s stomach swooped. They hadn’t talked about meeting up or trying to link travel schedules yet. Patrick had thought a lot about how to bring that up, but his heavy traveling for work wouldn’t start until April. 

“The ninth through eleventh. As soon as I get back, I have to get ready to head down to Florida for spring training,” Patrick said.

David’s face fell. “I get there on the thirteenth.”

For a wild moment, Patrick thought about asking David if he could get their earlier so they could see each other, but that’s probably not what a platonic friend would do after only knowing each other a couple of months. 

“I’ll be going there straight from a couple of days in Knoxville for meetings at the network headquarters.”

No chance to move it then. Damn. Patrick knew he’d be in L.A. at least a couple of times during the season, but that was so far away.

“Passing like ships in the night,” Patrick managed, but it didn’t sound as breezy as he’d intended.

“Yeah,” David said softly.

 

 

January 17

David: Patrick! I cooked something! Look at this! I made the pizza dough from scratch and everything

Patrick: that looks amazing! Great job :) Did you enjoy it?

David: I really did. I wasn’t sure what the class would be like, but the teacher was really nice. I didn’t feel like an idiot

Patrick: I’m really glad. The place had great reviews. I’m happy it worked out

David: I signed up for a few more. There’s one for pastas and another for curry. I’m thinking of doing the charcuterie one too

Patrick: look at you! I wish I could try some of your pizza. I’m starving right now

David: is that your way of saying you’re so hungry you’d deign to eat my first ever from-scratch pizza?

Patrick: [sweaty gym selfie] no it means I’ve been training for three hours and nothing sounds better than a homemade margherita pizza

David: If we weren’t so far apart, I’d make you one. But I already ate all of mine so

Patrick: Guess I’m stuck with take-out then

David: godspeed. And go take a shower. I bet you stink

 

 

January 24

@TMZ: David Rose spotted collecting his Uber Eats delivery in a Toronto Blue Jays T-shirt. Has David forsaken his designer wardrobe? Maybe he’s borrowing the shirt after a hot date? Let us know what you think.

@HairyPoppins replying to @TMZ: I think the designer clothes are for show. At home he wears nothing but ripped up sweats and skanky t-shirts

@ThatzIncorrect replying to @TMZ: I hope he’s borrowing it from someone. The man deserves to get laid. He’s brilliant and hard working and so good at his job

@JoeNotExotic replying to @ThazIncorrect: dude he decorates all day. How much brilliance does that take?

@snaxxx replying to @JoeNotExotic: coming from someone whose aesthetic is probably empty beer cans and neon signs, that’s rich

@BreadPitt replying to @TMZ: I hope he’s hooking up with Patrick Brewer. PBrew is a s-n-a-c-k. I don’t think any other Jays are out? Or maybe he’s with a Jays fan?

@BlueJays4Lyfe replying to @BreadPitt: no way. PBrew and David Rose? Lol come on. That’s incorrect

@MelonSmasher replying to @BlueJays4Lyfe: No, what’s incorrect is David Rose in a cheap T-shirt

 

 

February 10

David: Your speech was amazing!! And that suit looks perfect on you 🔥

Patrick: You’re watching live?! I literally just got back to my seat

David: of course I’m watching. Stevie insisted on joining me. She says congratulations [selfie of David and Stevie holding up drinks in a cheers] 

Patrick: I’m really touched you watched. Thank you, David

David: I just needed to see my fashion expertise in action

Patrick: I hope I’m doing it justice

David: I think we both know you are

Patrick: It feels really good. I feel good in it and that helped with some of my nerves

David: I hope your date appreciates it

Patrick: lol

David: why are you loling at that

Patrick: I brought my mom as my date

David: stop being so adorable. It’s sickening. Really 

David: anyway, I’m proud of you. Now stop texting me and ignoring your mom. It’s very rude

 

 

February 14

**FaceTime request to Patrick Brewer 🌴⚾💙**

“Hey, David. How are you?” Patrick’s smile was wide and easy.

Immediately, David noticed that Patrick was in his home. He probably should’ve texted before initiating a FaceTime request on Valentine’s Day, but he was a masochistic asshole who was having a nice little pity party about Patrick probably being out on some hot date with a hot guy who liked sports. “Good. You look comfy.” Patrick looked super snuggly in his hoodie.

“It’s chilly today.”

“Here too. Was it snowing when you were in the city the other day?”

“Yeah, but it sounds like it hit hard after I flew out. How’s your trip so far?” Patrick never looked annoyed to talk to David, which is probably what kept him calling. 

David knew it wasn’t healthy to still like Patrick so much after they’d had a few months for things to cool, but their regular communication left David liking him more.

“Not bad. I had part of today off, but tomorrow I’m visiting a few homes. We might do a run of New York City episodes.”

“That’s great. No fancy dinner plans tonight? I’m not used to being in the same time zone as you,” Patrick said. David knew it wasn’t fair, but he was relieved that Patrick wasn’t out on some date. Unless he had a booty call later or something. Ugh.

David flipped his camera to show the hotel’s room service menu. “I’m already in my joggers. Despite the dozens of amazing restaurants calling my name, I don’t have the energy for it.”

Half of Patrick’s mouth turned up in a smile. “Me too. I called it an early night after a long day of training and packing for Florida. My flight leaves tomorrow afternoon.”

“Look at us. A couple of boring guys on Valentine’s Day.” David let out a self-deprecating laugh.

“Nothing about you is boring, David.” Patrick’s expression was a little too earnest for David to take after such a stressful week. 

He cleared his throat and looked away for a moment. It times like that. David forgot they were only friends. One warm look from Patrick with the fondness set to max, David was right back to their little vacation bubble.

“How did your meetings at headquarters go?” Patrick asked. Of course he did because Patrick was a bundle of sincerity wrapped in blue.

“Um, good, I guess?”

“Your face is telling me a different story.”

David rolled his eyes. That was exactly why he’d called Patrick, but it was still annoying that Patrick could read him better than nearly anyone else he’d ever known.

“My show is doing really well, so they offered me a second one.”

“That’s great, David!” Patrick’s entire face lit up like he’d been the one offered another show, but soon his face fell. “Or it’s not great?”

“On paper it is. I’d be an idiot to turn it down. It’s more money.”

“I know how tempting that is, but sometimes there are more important things than money. What’s making you hesitate?” Patrick had an expression on his face like he was ready to weigh the pros and cons, calculate risks, make a plan of action. It was a lot like the face he got before swinging the ball at the front of the field. Not that David had spent much time watching Patrick play or anything. His YouTube search history was a dangerous place, and he could never let Stevie see it or she’d use it against him.

“You know how all the guests on the show are wealthy? The show came about because my job before the show was running Rose Designs. I had private clients who were wealthy, and I re-decorated their homes or worked with them when they were building new ones. I did a job for an HGTV exec, and she thought I should have a show. She thought people would love to see how the rich spend their money.”

“I mean, it is fun to watch. That meditation studio you worked on in season three was pretty incredible.” Patrick smiled. 

For as much as it terrified David that Patrick had watched all of his show and could quote jobs and seasons, he kind of loved it. “That’s what I really love about it. Getting to be creative without heavy constraints of budget.”

He tucked another pillow behind him and settled against the headboard. “This show would be about trying to recreate my designs on a budget for people who normally couldn’t afford to hire an interior designer. In theory, I love it. I don’t think great design and beautiful spaces is something only wealthy people should have access to.”

“But you don’t want to be the one to bridge that gap?”

David let out a shaky breath. “No, I don’t think I do.” He thumbed at the pages in the room service menu. “I know I’m privileged as fuck, getting to work with the clients I do and have a show on a major network. I feel like an asshole. But, Patrick, they want me to create a line of products in partnership with Target. And that, like, goes against the core of what I do. I want to help people create spaces unique to them, not mass produce some pretty throw pillows.”

“You don’t have to be the one to do that. Other people can do that. You have every right to do what you love, and maybe if you turn down this opportunity, they’ll give it to someone else who doesn’t have a show on HGTV yet. It might create a new opportunity for someone.”

David closed his eyes and tilted his face toward the ceiling. He really needed that validation. “Yeah, that’s a good point.”

“If you do decide to turn it down, maybe you could suggest that to them.”

David idly nodded. That was a really good idea. He’d feel a hell of a lot less like a pretentious prick if he could help someone else get a job. Maybe they could even do some crossover episodes where he could design without a budget and someone else could try to mimic it on one. There were a few people he followed on Instagram who had the chops for it.

“I can see your brain working,” Patrick said, smiling. “What did Stevie say about it?”

David’s shoulders tensed. “Um, she was excited about it. More money for me means more money for her.”

Patrick frowned. “Isn’t she your best friend? I’m sure she’d want what you wanted, even if it meant less money for her.”

David wanted to believe Patrick, he really did, but Stevie had never had that kind of financial security before and David loved that he could give that to her. Not that he was giving her anything. She was an amazing manager, and he was seriously fucking lucky to have her on his side. But how could he ask her to support him in turning something down? It would hurt her more than him if he didn’t do it.

“Yeah, maybe.”

Patrick looked like he wanted to say more, but he moved on to lighter topics. David appreciated that. He appreciated that Patrick was there when he needed someone to talk to, he appreciated that Patrick didn’t blow smoke up his ass like most of David’s so-called friends would, and he appreciated that Patrick knew when to push and when to back off. Basically, he appreciated Patrick.

 

 

February 17

Patrick: [photo of a sunny day with a baseball field full of players] Gorgeous first day of spring training! It feels good to be back on the field again. I forget how nice sunshine can be. 

David: it’s February. It can’t be that nice

Patrick: February in Florida is better than Toronto in February

David: mm good point. How’s the practicing so far?

Patrick: really great. Sometimes I get so focused on my off-season work that I forget how much I love this. Trying to enjoy it for as long as I have a contract or as long as my body holds out

David: that sounds ominous

Patrick: haha nothing major, but being a pro athlete isn’t a lifetime job. That’s why I focus so much on the consulting in the off-season. My plan is to do that full-time after I retire from baseball

David: well that’s very forward-thinking of you

Patrick: I’m a planner, what can I say

David: are you planning to do a lot of running?

Patrick: baseball players tend to run a fair amount, yeah. Why?

David: it’s just that I happened to come across a collection of gifs that are just you running. Like, a lot of them. Did you know that’s a thing? That people are sort of obsessed with you running?

Patrick: lol Becca has shown me a few, but I don’t spend much time looking myself up on the internet. Why do that when I have you to tell me what I’m missing :)

David: I don’t think I like what you’re implying

Patrick: What am I implying?

David: go run from an alligator or something

 

 

February 21

David: what is this? [photo of a Blue Jays jersey]

Patrick: a baseball jersey

David: this isn’t your way of asking me to play in a celebrity game or something, is it? I refuse to wear polyester.

Patrick: I would never force that choice upon you. I know you better than that. It’s not for anything, it’s just my jersey. The team is rolling out new ones this season and they gave each of us a few of our jerseys to give out to people. I figured if I sent you one, then I’d get to enjoy inflicting upon you the guilt of having it but never wearing it. So, you’re welcome ;)

David: I can’t decide if this is really lovely or you being an epic fucking troll

Patrick: both

David: I knew you were going to say that

Patrick: ☺️

David: there should really be designer jerseys. Though I can’t imagine any designer getting on board with that

Patrick: maybe you could be that person

David: nice try

Patrick: well if you change your mind and ever want to venture into luxury athletic branded gear, I’m here to support

David: so generous but [gif of David saying “that’s incorrect! while throwing his hands in the air]

Patrick: lol well played

 

 

February 28

David: break a leg at your first spring game thingie!

Patrick: pretty sure you’re not supposed to tell an athlete to break a leg

David: what makes you better than theater people? If it works for them, it should work for you

Patrick: how can I argue with that logic? 

Patrick: thanks for thinking of me and texting :) I’m about to head out. I hope you have a good day! [selfie of Patrick in uniform]

David: well don’t you look fancy. I hope you pound balls and run fast or whatever it is you do

Patrick: you knowing so little about the game shouldn’t be as charming as it is, but, yes, David, I’m going to go pound balls very hard and run very fast for the BJs. Then afterward, I’m taking the Boyds out to dinner. Remember that guy I met at the bar when you were having that spa treatment? He, his wife and baseball player son, Jeremy, are driving over to watch the game. I’m going to introduce Jeremy to some of the guys on the team.

David: that’s amazing :) I bet they’re thrilled. Let me know how it goes?

Patrick: Yeah, I’ll FaceTime you later :)

 

 

 

March 3

Patrick: I’m not sure my liver can handle the new season. If I take a drink every time you say “incorrect,” I might get alcohol poisoning. Becca and I have placed a bet on how many times you’re edited to say it in the first episode [photo of Becca and Mike holding up bottles of beer]

David: omg you and your friends are watching the premier tonight?!

Patrick: of course!! Becca has brand new rules for a drinking game from her Facebook group. They’re a clever bunch [photo of the rules]

David: my god

David: you’re going to get trashed. Please drink water between the beers

Patrick: this isn’t my first Incorrect drinking game, rodeo, David. I’ve learned my lesson

David: thank god. I wish I could watch it with you all. I’m getting ready to go over to a network premiere party. Martha is still pissed at me for some perceived slight at Thanksgiving and I am not looking forward to dealing with her shit tonight

Patrick: lol good luck with that

David: I’m surprised you have time for this. You have so much going on with sportsball

Patrick: never to busy to tease you and watch your new season, David. I always have time for that

David: once again you leave me confused by your level of sincerity and trolling

Patrick: glad it’s still working. Want to FaceTime tomorrow?

David: to bask in your hangover? absolutely 

Chapter Text

“Oh, god, it’s the Property Brothers.” David shifted from standing next to Stevie to facing her so his back was to the brothers.

“What’s wrong?” She stood on her toes and looked over his shoulder.

“Be any more obvious, please,” he hissed. 

Stevie ignored him and craned her neck even more. “Every time I see them, I’m surprised by how much they look alike.”

“After what happened at this party last year, I don’t want to deal with Drew.” 

Stevie grinned. “Should I call him over or?”

“I hate you.” David polished off his champagne. “How long do you think we need to stay?” The downside of his manager also being his best friend was that she responded to questions like that as his manager. 

“Through dinner and the program. You’d look like an entitled asshole if you left before Martha.”

“Last I heard, my rankings were higher than hers,” he mumbled.

Stevie swatted his arm. “Think your ego can fit through the doorway when we leave or need it deflated? I’m sure Drew would be happy to help.”

He glared at her and caught a server walking by with more champagne. The annual Discovery, Inc. gala was one of his least favorite events each year. It’s not that he wasn’t grateful to the company for his show and everything it brought him—he was—but nearly everyone in the Beverly Wilshire Ballroom with him was basically competition. Despite a lot of the on-air talent getting along, there was an undercurrent of rivalry among them for a better time slot, bigger budget, more shows, more specials, more, more, more.

“Let’s go get some food.” David walked toward one of appetizer stations placed between russet marble pillars. For employing a bunch of interior designers, they sure picked a tacky event space. The carpet pattern alone would surely cause a headache by the end of the night. There was fashionable pattern and texture matching, then there was the Beverly Wilshire Ballroom. At least Discovery hadn’t hosted the event at an aquarium again. There was something especially creepy about eating calamari while staring at a fish tank.

“Not the best event, but free food and an open bar is always a win in my book,” Stevie said as she filled up her plate. 

“Mm. True.” And the food was pretty good.

He nodded politely at one of the Shark Week people whose name he could never remember as he beelined to an empty tall table. David used to love events like this. He’d network and bask in the attention and try to get in good with the network stars. And he’d pick someone up to take home. 

Now? It exhausted him. So much of the industry exhausted him. Maybe it was a fatigue from sustained exposure. Growing up as Moira Rose’s son had him in the spotlight from a young age, and he knew what to expect. He didn’t hate the spotlight, but it hadn’t been his dream to live in it like his mom and sister wanted. David enjoyed working in the background and making spaces beautiful for others to enjoy.  

He’d used his connections to build his interior design business. It began in high school when he’d convinced his mother to let him redesign one room in their gaudy mansion. When a few of his parents’ dinner guests complimented the space, she let him redesign more spaces. At the end of the day, his mom cared more for compliments than her own pride. Eventually, she admitted David had done the work—claiming she’d taught him everything she knew and wasn’t she great?—and a few of her wealthy friends had asked for David’s help. Before he knew it, he had enough word-of-mouth clients to make it worth dropping out of design school to work full time. 

A part of him missed the simplicity of working directly with clients. Setting up a meeting over coffee to talk about the client’s needs, walking through the space and trying to understand their vision, the excited feeling when he found the perfect piece and texted a photo to the client.

That wasn’t part of the process for David Rose, host of HGTV’s That’s Incorrect. Everything had to be captured for the show. Casual coffee meetings became staged productions. There was no texting a client about an amazing piece. Instead, the producer expected David to take the client to the gallery or store or antique shop where he wanted to get the piece and have a drawn out conversation with the owner about it. Everything was so much more complicated.

It wasn’t all bad, though. David liked that a lot of people watched the show and enjoyed his creativity. He was vain enough to admit that. And being attached to a show opened up doors to more clients who were only interested because they got on television. 

“See anyone you want to take home? The producer I hooked up with last year talked way too much about lizards. It was really fucking creepy,” Stevie said, shuddering. 

“Not feeling up to that tonight,” David said, then stuffed his mouth with bruschetta and turned away from her knowing look. 

Stevie arched one eyebrow. “You’ve been saying that for a while, you know.”

“Been busy.” He took a bite of some cheesy thing.

“So busy.” Stevie didn’t take her eyes off of him as she chewed. “Especially since November. What happened in November, David?”

“American Thanksgiving?”

“You’re an idiot. Why are you still pining for a guy you had a few days with months ago? Shit or get off the pot.”

“Classy. You can dress ‘em up, but you can’t take ‘em out.” David continued avoiding looking at her. It wasn’t a new conversation, and he didn’t care to defend himself again. “Who do you have your eye on?” For a moment, he didn’t think she’d let him get away with it. The fact she did unnerved him. He must be really hung up.

“David! Stevie. It’s great to see you both.”

David looked up at the voice to see one of the HGTV executives he met with last month. “Hi, Susan, it’s great to see you.” He plastered on his television host smile as they made small talk for a few minutes.

“Have you given thought to our offer?” Susan gave a breezy smile, but David knew there wasn’t anything breezy about it. Stevie tensed.

“I’ve been thinking about it a great deal.” He kept his response noncommittal. He’d thought a hell of a lot about it, but wasn’t any closer to an answer. 

“We’re really trying to nail down the fall line-up. I know it would take some schedule wrangling for you to free up the bandwidth, but we’ll need an answer by the end of May.”

David nodded.

“We’ll be in touch about contract negotiations as well. I’m sure we could find a way to make it all work.” Susan smiled at him and Stevie, but it didn’t reach her eyes. Susan was a shark when it came to negotiations. He picked up the subtext that his contract negotiations were tied to his decision about the new show.

“That sounds great. Thanks, Susan.” He shook her hand, and Stevie did the same.

“We’ll be in touch,” Stevie said. 

They watched Susan walk over and hug Drew. Ugh.

Stevie turned to him. “Have you made a decision? I haven’t pushed because I know it’s a lot to consider, but it sounds like you’ve been given a deadline.”

David straightened his jacket. “I haven’t decided.” He ate another piece of bruschetta. “I’d be dumb to turn it down.” 

Stevie tilted her head and studied him for a moment. He squirmed under her scrutiny. “Would you?”

“David Rose!”

David turned toward the familiar voice and let his mentor Raphael pull him into a tight hug. “It’s been too long. How have you been? How’s Chet and the kids?”

For the next few minutes, David caught up with the man who’d taught him the nuts and bolts of running a design business that David needed beyond his intuition for aesthetics. He was eternally grateful to Raphael for taking young David under his wing. As they talked, Stevie wandered off. Probably to find her not-so-random for the night. 

“What brings you to this event? Are you working with Discovery now?” David asked.

Raphael shook his head. “They’re courting me for a show, but I’m not sold it.”

“No?”

“I’m not sure I want to be in the spotlight. It works for some.” Raphael gave David a teasing look. “But I’m not sure I’m cut out for it.”

“I think you’d be great,” David said, and he meant it. Raphael was engaging and brilliant.

“Convince me. What do you love about being one of HGTV’s most beloved hosts?” Raphael flagged down a server and grabbed two fresh glasses of champagne from their tray.

David thought about it. The first things that came to mind—parties, status, connections—Raphael already had because he’d cultivated a stellar reputation and was incredibly sought-after. He might not be a household name, but all the people who he needed to know of him did. 

“Um, being recognized on the street? If you’re into that sort of thing.”

Raphael smiled softly. The wrinkles around his eyes deepened. “Do people yell that’s incorrect! at you a lot?”

David grimaced. “You have no idea.”

He chuckled. “I prefer my privacy. Have you found the show helps your private work?”

David twisted the stem of his champagne flute. “I had to stop accepting clients a couple of years ago. The filming took me out of service for a few months, and network demands increased over time. It’s a good contract, but there’s a lot of expectations on me outside of filming the episodes.”

That hadn’t been something he expected. He supposed it was a symptom of his success, but too much of his time was spent doing press, appearances, and events.

“That’s too bad. I guess you’re still working with clients, though.”

David didn’t correct him. He barely worked with the show’s guests. The producer and team did most of the client interface because they needed to make sure it worked for the show. David didn’t get to just do things any longer. He had to run his ideas through a group of people on the show and it really sucked the fun out of his work sometimes. 

Some days, it was thrilling to convince an army of people about his vision, but the days they made him change things because some assistant producer whose design sense lived within the walls of Ikea didn’t like something? Those were the worst.

He wished he could find a balance between the show and taking his own clients, but that would require stepping back on his contract. Stepping back on his contract would affect Stevie as much as him. If he cut back or didn’t renew his contract, Stevie would be out of a job or would have to go find other clients. He couldn’t do that to Stevie or her potential other clients. She was an acquired taste as a manger, which is what he loved about her.

A hotel staff member informed them it was time to find their seats. He gave Raphael a parting hug, and they made promises to meet up soon. David followed directions to his assigned table and met up with Stevie en route. Thank god she’d agreed to go as his plus one again this year. 

“I think this is us.” Stevie looked between a table sign and the little card they’d been given at check-in with their table assignment.

“Oh, thank god,” David said when he saw he was seated between Stevie and Guy Fieri. 

“Worried I’d be Drew?” Guy said with a friendly smile.

David’s jaw dropped. “How do you know about that?”

Guy laughed and the tips of his pointy bleach-blond hair shook. “I was here last year. You two almost came to blows.”

“Okay, it wasn’t that bad,” David said defensively.

“It was pretty bad,” Stevie said, and Guy laughed.

Guy introduced David and Stevie to his wife. They all made pleasant small talk through the first course. 

“You should come on Triple D sometime,” Guy said as he took down the plate of pretty decent pasta.

That was a tempting guest spot. Patrick would lose it. He loved that show to an unhealthy degree. David swore half the time he asked what Patrick was up to, and he said “watching Triple D.” It took David an embarrassing amount of time to realize he didn’t mean a specific kind of porn. 

David made it through the dinner, small talk, and the platitudes from the corporate executives. For as exhausted as he was, the party hadn’t been all bad. He’d had a steady stream of people approaching him all night, which made him feel like one of the popular kids. But for the first time since joining Team Discovery several years ago, David left the event alone. 

He’d waved Stevie off as she hopped in an Uber with someone who hopefully wouldn’t talk about lizards.

David waited for the valet to bring his car. He expected regret to hit. Regret over not taking time to find someone for a bit of fun. He hadn’t gone that long without sex since college. It wasn’t that he thought he’d be cheating on Patrick if he did, because they definitely weren’t in a relationship, but he couldn’t muster the interest. Dealing with a hook-up and all of what went with it, like awkward conversation, didn’t seem worth it when he could take care of his own orgasm and have a good conversation with Patrick.

It was way too late to text Patrick, but he knew Patrick kept his phone on silent at night.

[selfie with David, Guy and Stevie] Guess who invited me to be a guest on Triple D? On a scale of one to you’ll never speak to me again, how jealous are you?

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

“My round,” Patrick said as he stood from the table. He clapped a couple of his teammates on the shoulder as he passed en route to the bar. 

“Great game today,” the bartender, Sheila, said.

Patrick thanked her. That’s why he loved to go to this bar after a game. They didn’t treat the players any differently from anyone else, and they didn’t allow others to treat the players differently. It was a safe space for the team and the perfect place to celebrate their opening day win.

He ordered a fresh round and turned to lean his back against the bar and take in the place as he waited for the drinks. His teammates were scattered across tables and standing in groups with coaching staff and some locals. 

Patrick missed the energy of the season; the spirit of a home game with the entire city cheering them on. Sometimes he forgot what it was like. Spring training helped to transition back into the life of a professional athlete, but nothing hit like opening day of the regular season.

As his off-season consulting business grew, increasingly he felt like he was living two lives. There was during baseball and there was the few months in-between seasons. 

Some of his teammates didn’t have off-season work. They either spent the time relaxing and traveling or kept busy by using their fame for other projects like endorsement deals or running training camps. 

Patrick was solidly average on the team. That wasn’t a knock against his ability because he was good enough to get drafted, but he wasn’t a standout on the team. He wasn’t one of the players being chased down by Nike or asked to guest star on movies or TV shows. He was a solid, reliable player. 

Though, since he’d come out, his agent fielded more requests. Especially requests to be a brand ambassador for queer-owned business and brands. If he wanted, Patrick could probably find enough endorsement deals to make up for the money he made consulting, but those endorsement deals would dry up as soon as he retired or got injured. The business consulting was his long-term career goal and retirement plan.

Braxton’s wife smiled at Patrick as she passed. Only some of the player partners attended unofficial celebration nights, but Patrick thought it was nice. His mind wandered to David. He couldn’t help but wonder how David would feel in a sports bar filled with rowdy athletes. 

He wished he could celebrate with David tonight. Not just physically, though he seriously missed David in that way, but he’d love to go home and find David there, smiling at him as he hugged Patrick and congratulated him on a good game. That line of thinking meant nothing but trouble, but damn, it was persistent. 

“Here you go, Brewer. Your lager is on the house. Welcome back.”

“Thanks, Sheila.” Patrick left a generous cash tip, then tucked the beers between his arm and chest and maneuvered through the crowd to get back to his table of closest mates on the team. 

“There he is!”

The three guys at Patrick’s table cheered when he approached the table with their beers. He passed them around and slid back into the booth.

Jarod let out a low whistle as he looked down at his phone. “Oh, shit. Any of you watch that HGTV show with the fancy guy who’s always saying things are incorrect?”

Patrick’s body tensed. “David Rose. What about him?” His voice sounded hollow. 

Nate gave Patrick a meaningful look. He was the only teammate Patrick had told about David. He was a private guy, and didn’t want to make a bigger deal out of things than it needed, but he needed his closest friend on the team to know so he had someone to talk to about it when they were in Florida for spring training. 

“Cindy just texted me an article that hit about him today.”

Chad swatted Jarod on the arm. “What the hell are you doing reading an article? We’re out celebrating, man. Leave that shit for home.”

“What? It’s interesting. Cindy loves that show. We watch it all the time. I swear, she’s tried at least three times to get him to work on our home, but I guess the show doesn’t work in Canada.”

“What’s it about?” Patrick choked out. Jarod looked at his screen with a sympathy that made the beer churn in Patrick’s gut. 

David had to be okay. Jarod wouldn’t say an article hit about him if he was injured or worse. What if it was worse? 

“Some tell-all with an ex. An artsy guy named Sebastien.”

Patrick’s hands balled into fists. “Send me the link.”

Jarod looked up at him and frowned. “Why do you look so bent out of shape about it? Got a crush on him or something?” Jarod grinned.

“Send him the fucking link,” Nate said. 

Chad took a big swig of his beer. “I don’t understand why you’re so interested in it.”

“It’s some good drama.” Jarod shrugged. “It’s not about us. Who cares?”

Patrick cared. Patrick cared a lot. As soon as his phone buzzed with a text from Jarod, he began reading. 

Jesus. The whole thing was tabloid trash. Sebastien making claims about his “dysfunctional” relationship with David and how “needy” David was. How Sebastien felt “smothered by David.” Patrick’s heart sank with every sentence he read.

Only part of the story actually discussed David, but the entire tone of the piece of shit hit piece was how Sebastien had overcome, had thrived, despite his circumstances, in order to complete some stupid photo series. Patrick didn’t even stop to look at the photos. 

He launched his chat with David and didn’t see anything since David had congratulated Patrick. The timestamp for the article was well before the game ended. Surely David knew about the article when he’d texted Patrick. He was dealing with the fallout of that article and still thought of Patrick.

He’d give anything to be with David at that moment. To make sure he was okay and offer him support. 

Are you okay? I saw the article

yeah, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Celebrate!

David, seriously. Are you okay?

not really, but I’ve been through much worse. I’m embarrassed and angry, but it’ll fade

I’m so sorry, David. The guy is a fucking tool

are you home? Is anyone with you?

Stevie’s been with me since I found out. We just finished dinner and she’s heading home soon. I’m good

Can I call you when I get home? If you don’t feel like talking, I get it. But if you do, I’d really like to talk

Patrick waited for the bubbles to appear. Conversation went on around him as he waited. The guys moved on to talking about the worst tabloid coverage they’d seen of teammates. 

“Gotta go?” Nate asked.

Patrick looked up at him. “Not sure yet.” He took a sip of his beer and tapped the screen to prevent it from going dark as he held it under the table. 

Patrick considered the pros and cons of sending Sebastien a few select words through DM, but it probably wouldn’t help David’s cause to have a random ball player getting in his business and adding fuel to the fire. 

While he waited for David to reply, he decided to text Becca.

have you seen this?

😬 yeah, but I didn’t want to send it yet. I had planned to send it tomorrow. Didn’t want to mess with your celebration. Have you reached out?

yeah

and?

don’t know yet

while we’re on the topic of articles about David, this one was shared in the FB group [link to article speculating that it’s been a long time since David has been seen out with anyone and wondering if he’s secretly dating]

Was David dating anyone? Surely Patrick would know. They talked often enough, shared the random details of their day enough, that Patrick felt like he had a decent handle on how David spent most of his time. He’d know if David was regularly seeing someone, but he had no idea if David was out hooking up with people. He wouldn’t blame David for doing it. He had no reason not to. Patrick hadn’t been, but he told himself it was because he was busy and it was too much work and he didn’t enjoy casual sex. He sure as hell enjoyed it with David. Though that hadn’t ended up being very casual on his end.

If David was usually seen dating people and he hadn’t been for four or five months, then maybe… 

that would be nice. thanks

I’ll be home soon

“Sorry guys, gotta go.” Patrick stood.

“Someone’s got a booty call.” Chad winked at Patrick. “Who’s the lucky guy?”

Patrick ignored him. “Good game today. See you all at practice.” Patrick tried to get out of the bar with as few conversations as possible. He was back in his condo less than half an hour later. 

“Hey, David.” Patrick started a FaceTime call as soon as he unlocked his door. 

“Hi. Great game today. You did a really good job hitting the ball. And the running. Very good running.” David smiled, but it was off. He looked soft and sad, and Patrick wanted to scoop him up and hold him.

“Thanks. You watched some of it?”

“It was on in the background, but I didn’t catch much. Was on the phone a lot with my publicist and the lead HGTV publicist and about a million other calls. I’m so tired.” David dropped his temple against the back of his couch and his lips formed a pout.

“I bet. Did you know he was doing this?”

David nodded. “Not what it was about, but Stevie got a heads up a few months ago that he was supposedly talking to a reporter.”

Patrick clenched his teeth. “You’ve known for a few months that some bullshit article was going to come out but didn’t know when or what it was about? You just had to live with that?”

“Comes with the territory.” 

Patrick didn’t have to deal with that, but he didn’t live in L.A. Maybe things were different there. 

“Do you want to talk about it?”

David shifted, and Patrick imagined him tucking his legs under him like he often did on the loungers at the villa. 

“I’m not sure there’s much to say. Despite only being with him for a few months, Sebastien has a preternatural sense for identifying the exact ways to hurt me. That article is basically a list of my biggest insecurities. I’m needy, clingy, and not a long-term option.”

That wasn’t true. David was absolutely a long-term option. He’d be Patrick’s long-term option in a heartbeat if circumstances were different. Those words dangled from the tip of his tongue, but he bit them back. He didn’t need to add more stress to David’s day.

“I think Sebastien is too insecure to recognize he’s not a good partner, so he projects all of his shit on others. Quite the defensive strategy,” Patrick said. “It’s a guess, but I imagine he’s left a trail of people he’s hurt.” He had a couple of teammates that Sebastien reminded him of.

David sighed and nodded. “I knew what I was getting into, but I still said yes when he asked me out. We made sense on paper.”

Patrick knew he meant in the press. He’d been around enough to have seen plenty of PR relationships over the years he’d played for the Jays. It wasn’t as common among the players, but he was on the periphery of celebrity enough to see it. 

“You got out, and that’s what matters. People are going to forget about it with a new batch of gossip tomorrow.” Patrick settled onto his couch. “How you’re feeling is the only thing that matters. You don’t believe the bullshit he said, do you? Please tell me you don’t.” Patrick couldn’t stand the idea of David beating himself up for some attention-getting crap Sebastien spewed to a media outlet that wanted page views more than facts. 

David’s wince told Patrick everything he needed to know, but didn’t want to be true. 

“Listen,” Patrick said, but David kept looking away from the screen. “Hey, look at me.”

David looked up with red-rimmed eyes. 

“I’ve gotten to know you really well over the past five months, and I like to think I’m a good judge of character.” Patrick parsed through the sentiments swirling out of his head and grabbed the loudest one. “You’re the most amazing man I’ve ever met.”

David’s eyes went wide.

“Don’t tell Mike, or he’d kick my ass. But I docked him for snoring. The man seriously needs a sleep test.” It probably wasn’t a good reflex to use humor to diffuse emotion, but it also probably wasn’t good to blurt out all of his feelings to David. He hated it, but he had no right to say the things he really wanted to say to David. 

The wonder in David’s expression bolstered him to continue.

“So, whenever you’re feeling shitty about yourself, just, remember that you’re talking shit about someone important to me. Okay? And Sebastien is a fucking idiot who let you go.” Patrick cut himself off from saying more. He couldn’t even blame the alcohol because he’d only managed to finish one beer before leaving. Maybe it was the adrenaline of opening day and the win. Or maybe it was David. 

The thought of David believing there was any truth to Sebastien’s attention-grabbing claims, or that he was damaged goods, turned Patrick’s stomach. 

“Sebastien seems like the kind of guy who hurts people to build himself up. You deserve someone who will treat you like the prize you are. Because, David, you are a prize,” Patrick said. David was the giant teddy bear at the carnival, the Apple Watch in the claw machine, the grand prize at a raffle.

“Patrick… ”

Patrick both wanted David to finish his sentence and was terrified of it. What if David was about to say Patrick, thank you, but that’s too much. Patrick, thank you, but I don’t think we’re on the same page. Patrick, I think you need to back off. Patrick, we’re friends. That’s it. Or worst of all, Patrick, I care about you so much, but this will never work. Our lives are too different. 

Patrick had learned a good offense years ago. “Anyway, want me to get him beat up? I know some big athletes.”

David laughed. “Tempting, but he’d use that for even more attention for his shitty photography.”

“It is seriously is shitty, isn’t it?”

“He thinks he’s such a gift.” David rolled his eyes in a way that Patrick knew he was feeling a little better. He told a few stories about having to pretend to like Sebastien’s art, which had Patrick’s sides hurting from laughter.

As they came down from the laughter, Patrick spoke again. “Is this going to hurt you or your show?”

David shook his head, and the wavy strands of hair bounced with the movement. “People already think I can’t keep a relationship. This just confirms their suspicions, so it’s nothing new. I guess it’s just a pride thing. I’ve never had someone tell such personal stories and twist the facts like that.” David bit his bottom lip. “I guess I’m mad at myself for falling for yet another person who hurt me. It’s a pattern I’d very much like to break someday.”

I’d never hurt you, David.

That was definitely bigger than Patrick could say to his friend. A reckless, masochistic part of him hoped that he and David were headed on a path to something big and lasting, but the logistics still weren’t in his favor. He wanted David, but it would be selfish to ask David to be with him when he couldn’t devote much time to their relationship. 

Spending a lot of time texting and video chatting was perfect for their friendship, but that would get old pretty quick if he and David were actually in a relationship. Until or unless something major changed in their circumstances, like Patrick getting transferred to an L.A. team or David’s show moving to HGTV Canada, there was no hope. They’d make it work for a while, sure, but their travel schedules would get too hard and one would probably begin to resent the other. It happened with Ken and Ken was in the same city. 

“You will, David. I’m sure of it.” If not with Patrick, then someone. He knew someone would know what a prize David Rose was.

David shifted and rested his head on the arm of the couch, and Patrick spotted familiar blue polyester. He smiled, but said nothing. Knowing David brought out the jersey was enough, and he didn’t want to risk embarrassing David while he was already vulnerable. He never expected David to actually wear the jersey—that would probably stop his heart from shock—but it made him feel good that David kept it and brought it out. Probably his small way of supporting Patrick. 

When Patrick been given a stack of his new jerseys, he’d given ones to his parents, Mike, Becca and his college coach. He’d debated for days over whether to send one to David. A part of him thought David would scoff at it for being the opposite of designer fashion, but he hoped David would take it for the gesture it was. Patrick’s hope appeared to have paid off.

He watched as the length of time David’s eyes stayed closed at blinks increased. “Want me to let you go so you can get some sleep? You’ve had a long day,” Patrick said.

David shook his head. His cheek rubbed against the polyester. For a wild moment, Patrick expected David to go on a skincare rant about the effects of cheap fabric on pores. “Will you stay on the phone with me until I fall asleep?”

Patrick’s heart jumped in his throat. “Of course. I haven’t done this since high school.”

“Fuck off,” David said, smiling for the first time in their conversation. It was small, but it was genuine. “Tell me about your performance. Were you the VIP?” 

Patrick got off his couch and took David with him as he got ready for bed. He talked about the game, where he messed up, where he did well, the bar afterward. David asked a few questions and hummed in the right places, but it was clear he was halfway to dreamland. 

“This bar is right next to a donut place. You’d love it. They make this pomegranate donut that’s surprisingly delicious,” Patrick said as he moisturized his skin carefully under David’s watchful eyes. 

“Donuts sound so good right now.” David’s eyes fell closed again.

“I wish I could be there and take you out to that donut shop you won’t shut up about,” Patrick said. He was getting sleepy and his filter was getting weak. “Donuts help with a lot of things.”

David’s lips curve up in a sleepy smile. “Me too. Too bad you’re so far away.” God Patrick missed David’s sleepy voice. “You start traveling for work a lot now, right? Going anywhere interesting? Maybe there will be good donuts where you go.”

Patrick chuckled. “Unless you consider Chicago an interesting place, no.”

David cracked an eye open. “When are you going to Chicago?”

Patrick’s heart rate picked up at David’s serious tone. “Tuesday through Thursday next week, for a few games.”

Both of David’s eyes opened. “When do you fly out on Thursday?”

“Why?” Patrick stopped rummaging for his game day win pajamas. 

“What time?” Patrick startled at David’s loud voice.

“I think at noon. Why, David?”

David bolted upright. His mess of wavy hair stuck out in all directions, reminding Patrick of a few ways they’d thoroughly messed it up last November. 

“I fly into Chicago next Thursday. My flight is supposed to land at ten, I think. Hold on.” David’s eyebrows furrowed as he tapped on the screen.

Patrick was frozen in place. Would they actually overlap in the same city? 

“Patrick, I land at ten.” David looked wide awake.

“Which airport?” Please be Midway, please be Midway.

“Midway.”

Patrick beamed at him. “Commercial or charter?”

“Commercial. First class though. You fly charter, right?”

“How’d you know that?” Patrick asked.

David rolled his eyes. “You’re not the first athlete I- I’ve met.” 

Patrick wanted to know what David stopped himself from staying. “Meet up?” Patrick’s voice damn near cracked on the words.

David bit his lips between his teeth and nodded eagerly. “We’ll figure it out. Coffee shop or I’ll come to where your flight is.”

“Or I can skip the FBO and head to the main airport until I have to head back to board. We’ll figure it out.”

David looked so damn happy. Patrick couldn’t believe the one-eighty. “I’ll see you next week.”

Patrick grinned. “You’ll see me next week.”

This was going to be the longest week of Patrick’s life. 

“We might need to go somewhere away from my team,” Patrick said, as he thought through what would happen if they saw David.

David’s face fell for a moment, but he quickly schooled it into a defensive expression Patrick never wanted to see again. “Oh, yeah. Of course. I wouldn’t want them to think—”

“David, it’s because they’re going to take up all your time talking about your show. One of my teammates told me tonight his wife has been trying to get on there for a while. I don’t want to share you. Not this time.”

David looked down and smiled. “Yeah, okay. Just us.”

“Just us.”

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

“Are you sure you’re okay?” It wasn’t the first time the older woman in the seat next to David had asked during the tortuously long flight from New York to Chicago. 

“I’m fine, thanks,” he snapped. Then he felt bad because he didn’t need to snap at the woman for checking on him. He hadn’t exactly been a peaceful seat mate. David couldn’t think of the last time he’d been so fidgety. If his leg wasn’t bouncing, his fingers tapped on the armrest, or he shifted in his seat like he was sitting on nails. “Sorry. Meeting a friend and I’m a little nervous.” Excited. Nervous. Very nervous.

She patted his hand, which, incorrect. Part of the reason he flew first class was to try to avoid touching people. But he supposed it was a nice gesture. 

“This sounds like a special friend.”

David couldn’t help his smile. “He is. Very special.” That was the truth. Aside from Stevie, Patrick was his closest friend. When he first saw the cute guy fall off his board thingie, he certainly never expected to talk to him, let alone spend the best four days of his life with him. He especially didn’t expect them to keep talking once they both got home and resumed their lives. Patrick had become a steady presence in his life, even from such a distance. He probably talked to Patrick more than he talked to Stevie, actually. They were both putting in the effort to maintain their friendship from a distance.

He expected his feelings for Patrick to change over the months. They did, but not in the way he thought they would. He assumed that with distance, his attraction would fade and he’d be glad to have a friend. If anything, the more he got to know Patrick, the stronger his attraction grew to a massive, impenetrable force in his life. A constant hum in the background of everything he did. A huge fucking distraction and annoyance, because what could he do about it? Meet up a few times a year for some great sex? Eventually fall in love and break his own heart because their jobs kept them far apart? That’s if Patrick even wanted him in the long-term way.

But, god, maybe he did. The fierceness in Patrick’s eyes when he told David that he was the best man Patrick knows. How? Seriously fucking how? Patrick surely has an army of good, kind people in his life. How could David even compete? But there was no doubting the look on Patrick’s face.

Patrick had not only cut his own celebration short and time with his friends and colleagues, he’d been incredibly damn attentive and caring once Seb’s bullshit story came out. It was what David always craved in someone he dated. Someone to listen to him, support him, god, just see him. He’d never had that before, not really in friends either, but he got a taste of it with Patrick. Stevie could be there when he really needed her, but it wasn’t her default. He understood that because it wasn’t his either. But Patrick passed out his earnestness and generosity like candy on Halloween. 

He’d wanted nothing more than to wrap himself in Patrick’s arms and ignore the world around him. He’d been able to somewhat ignore his feelings for Patrick most of the time over the months they’d known each other, but that night it was like his feelings rented a gigantic billboard to announce they would no longer be ignored.  

What kind of person stopped their own celebrating on a big day to support another person? Said really nice things and didn’t even bat an eye when David asked him to stay on the phone while he fell asleep? David had woken up clutching that ugly ass jersey to his chest with his phone face-up on the floor. The call log showed they were connected until the early morning in Patrick’s time zone. He liked to think Patrick fell asleep too, but he didn’t have the guts to ask the next day, or even mention it.

The airplane landed, and he shot off a quick text to Patrick. David managed to disembark with his legs mostly working. He hurried to freshen up in the bathroom closest to baggage claim. When he was done, his bags still weren’t out. The conveyor belt moved so fucking slow. So. Fucking. Slow. Oh, my god. Every second he spent in the airport was a second he wasn’t with Patrick. If he wasn’t worried that his bags would get stolen, he’d leave them there and come back for them after Patrick left. 

“Fucking finally,” he said as he pushed through the people annoyingly standing in front of the fucking conveyor belt when their bags weren’t even there yet to pull his suitcases off. 

“Good luck,” the woman he’d sat next to on the flight said as he wheeled past her.

“Thanks,” he said, managing a small smile. He would need it. 

David rushed out to the taxi queue. He wasn’t going to waste time waiting for a luxury Uber. A stinky sedan taxi would be good enough.

As they’d finalized details for meeting up over the week, they’d decide it made the most sense that David would go to Patrick since David was the one flying in and wasn’t on a tight time schedule. Now he was regretting that, because he was the reason their time together had dwindled to ninety-seven minutes. It was barely any time together, but David was going to soak up each second like it was their last.

The taxi dropped him in front of the FBO Patrick had directed him to. God, David wished HGTV sprung for charter flights all the time. That would be the way to travel. 

He stacked his bags and gripped the handle like it was the only thing between him and falling into a canyon. With a confidence he didn’t feel, he strode through the doors of the charter lounge. His heart thundered in his chest, and he felt like he was seconds away from needing medical support. 

What if they saw each other and it was totally different in person? What if it was awkward and they had nothing to talk about? Or maybe they wouldn’t know how to be around each other in person without being naked. What if he’d built things up in his head and it was clear he was more invested than Patrick?

He scanned the groupings of chairs and couches, looking for Patrick. David saw people on laptops and people clustered near some sort of coffee station, but where was he? David walked further into the space and saw two chairs tucked into a corner. Patrick sat in one of them, staring out the window, his leg bouncing a mile a minute, scratching at the cardboard coffee cup wrapper. Patrick had on navy trousers, a white button-up and camel-colored jacket. He looked good. 

David squared his shoulders and strode toward Patrick with a genuine confidence. It soothed him to see Patrick just as keyed up. Maybe Patrick was worrying about the same things as David. 

It’s like Patrick sensed him because he immediately looked over and lit up like he was a Christmas tree that had just been plugged in. Patrick haphazardly sat the cup on the short table between the armchairs and ran over to David. Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s waist, lifted, and spun. It was a damn good thing David had let go of his suitcase.

“Oh my god, put me down!” David said, laughing far too loudly for public, swatting at Patrick’s shoulders. Never put me down.

Patrick complied, then pulled David in for the tightest hug in the history of hugs. It felt so damn good to enjoy the sturdy warmth of Patrick’s body in his arms again. 

“It’s so good to see you,” Patrick said against David’s neck.

“You too.” David squeezed a little tighter. “This is a really long hug now.”

“Just one more minute,” Patrick said.

David was in so much trouble. 

Eventually Patrick pulled back and gestured for David to go over to the table, then he wheeled David’s bags behind them. 

“I got you a coffee and your choice of pastries.” He parked David’s bags next to David’s chair, then sat back down in the one he’d vacated minutes before. “I, uh, have been up since five, so I had time to get some good ones.” Patrick rubbed the back of his neck.

“Thank you.” David picked up the coffee in front of him to have something to do with his hands. Miraculously, it was still warm. “I have not been up since five because I am not a monster.”

Patrick laughed. “How was your flight?” He took a sip of his drink. Probably earl grey tea.

“Long and I had to get up way too early, but worth it.” 

Patrick beamed at him.

“How was your game?” David knew they’d won. He’d been so busy the past week that he hadn’t been able to watch much of Patrick’s games live, but he always watched highlight videos. If he kept that up, he’d end up learning about baseball and that was not something he wanted to do. But for Patrick, he probably would. Ew.

“Pretty good. We won again.” 

David knew they did more than win. Patrick was way too humble. He probably had a “there’s no I in team” poster in his childhood bedroom. The ESPN announcer had basically lost it on the recap thingie last night. “But you hit for the cycle.”

Patrick’s mouth fell open. He stared at David like David was wearing a kangaroo suit or something.

“What?” David rummaged around in the pastry bags.

“David, do you know what that means?”

He pulled out a donut with bacon on top. “No, but it’s obviously a good thing. People were freaking out. So, good job to you.”

Patrick’s smile went impossibly wide. “Thank you. It means I did pretty good at bat.”

“Swinging the stick?”

“Yup. Swinging the stick.”

“I remember how good you are at that.” David grinned, then realized what he said and fuck! Fuck. They were friends and friends didn’t flirtily reference their past sexual encounters.

Patrick choked on his tea.

“Sorry.” David grimaced.

Patrick shook his head. “Don’t be. I remember the same.” Patrick’s cheeks reddened, but he didn’t look away.

Well, then. The vibe was definitely still there. Maybe more of one. Definitely more. That vibe was different because they really knew each other now. He hadn’t spent the past five months skirting around his job like he had in the Maldives. They’d been friends through holidays, through David’s work drama, David’s personal crises, Patrick’s shift change from business nerd to jock, Patrick’s successes and recognitions as a damn good person. David had supported Patrick through a few awkward moments of the media being a little too interested in Patrick’s sexuality, which was something David had thorough experience in. They’d been there for each other and been a part of each other’s lives. The big things down to watching movies together and Patrick telling David to quit talking through it while David threw popcorn at his laptop screen to hit digital Patrick’s face.

 

Since they were in public, and David didn’t want to cry, he tried to keep the conversation on lighter topics. They talked about David’s work in New York the past few days and how Patrick felt about the start of his season. They swapped Chicago restaurant recommendations and talked about their travel plans for the coming weeks. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any overlap. David talked about his sister’s latest drama and Stevie being a pain in the ass, while Patrick talked about helping Becca plan a surprise birthday party for Mike. 

Since they talked so often, there wasn’t a huge list of topics to catch up on. David simply enjoyed being in the same space as Patrick, breathing the same air, seeing his body language beyond his face through a screen.

He intentionally ignored the clock, but he could tell their time was dwindling since people dressed nice like Patrick were coming in with duffle bags with that bird’s head on it. 

“PBrew! You know David Rose?”

Patrick squeezed his eyes closed and grimaced. “I’m sorry for whatever is about to happen.”

David looked up at the three smiling guys approaching them. Was that would it have been like if he’d have dated a jock in high school? Teammates swinging by to tease them? His partner blushing furiously as their friends embarrassed them?

“Still can’t get over PBrew,” David mumbled.

“It’s really weird hearing you call me that.” Patrick turned toward the three men. “Guys, this is David Rose. David, this is Jarod, Nate, and Chad.” 

As David stood to shake their hands, he noted that Jarod was the bald one, Nate the short one in a hat, and Chad was the tallest of them. “It’s a pleasure to meet you all. So, you get to deal with this guy nine months out of the year, eh? Lucky you.”

“He’s easy to be around most of the time, but when he has a bad practice, woof, watch out. A lot of crankiness in a small package.” Chad patted Patrick on the head. 

Jarod turned to Patrick. “How come you never mentioned you know him?” 

“Yeah, PBrew. Are you embarrassed we’ll tell him how much we love his show and how desperately you need his help?” Chad said.

David laughed. “I’ve already helped him with that dire situation. It’s much more livable now.” Helping Patrick decorate his home had been a highlight of the first few months after their trip. It had been more like a lifeline to help him cope with how badly he missed Patrick and how mad he was for being hung up on someone who lived so far away.

“You’re kidding. What’s a guy gotta do to get your help? My wife would love to work with you. Do you take on private clients?” It was sweet how eager Jarod looked.

“I used to, but I haven’t had time for it with the show and everything,” David said. 

“That’s too bad. Jarod could really use your help. He has a room that’s just a pool table and poker table. The extent of the decor is several prints of dogs playing poker on all the walls.”

“Let me guess, there’s a forest green accent wall and both the pool table and poker table have red cloth finishing?” David smirked when Jarod’s eyes went wide.

“How d’you know?”

“Been doing this a long time.” The guy probably had a built-in bar, too.

Jarod got a serious look on his face. “I’ve been thinking about turning the man cave into a theater or something. What do you think? Big comfy chairs and a huge television. Maybe a popcorn machine?”

Before David could open his mouth and give some vague ideas that sounded nice, but didn’t encourage them to stick around and waste more of his Patrick Time, Nate put a palm on Jarod’s chest and pushed him back.

“Sorry for these neanderthals. You’d think they’d never met someone from TV before.” Nate winked at Patrick, and David looked down to hide his smile. 

“What did I do?” Chad said.

“Come on. Let’s leave them alone.” Nate spun the guys around. “It was great to meet you, David.”

“You all too.” He looked over at Patrick and found him furiously blushing.

After they left, David and Patrick sat back down. 

“Jarod is the one I mentioned last week whose wife keeps trying to get on your show.” Patrick shook his head. “Sorry about him.”

The donut he’d eaten settled like a rock in his stomach. He knew Patrick needed to go. “No need to be sorry. It’s nice to have my work appreciated. They seem, um, friendly.”

Patrick laughed. “They are. Nate is the one I’m closest to on the team.”

Ah. That explained the whole wingman vibe. “He seems great.”

“He is. He said he’d keep the guys away.”

David arched an eyebrow. “Nate knew I was coming?”

Patrick looked down at his hands and nodded. “Needed someone to play interference so the entire team didn’t hound you for design advice.”

“Well. That was nice of you to think ahead. I’m, um, glad they’ve left us alone for the most part.”

“Me too.” Patrick looked up with those loud eyes. “It’s so good to see you. I mean, I know I see you all the time when we video chat, but—”

“But it’s different in person. Yeah.” David wanted to reach out and grab Patrick’s hand, but he knew if he did that, he might never let go. Then what? Follow Patrick around like a groupie? Start wearing his jersey and join the WAGs? God forbid he’d stoop so low as to wear that polyester monstrosity. Stevie had teased him enough for pulling it out during Patrick’s game last week. It brought him some comfort on a terrible day and there was nothing wrong with that.

“I should probably get going. We’re supposed to board in a few minutes.” Patrick’s shoulders were slumped and his mouth turned down. 

“Sure. Yeah. Of course.” David stood. “Well. This worked out really well. I’m glad we got to see each other.” Don’t leave. Please don’t leave.

“Me too. I wish I could stay longer.” Patrick looked at the group of guys flocking toward the exit to the tarmac. “If I didn’t have a game, I’d—”

“It’s okay.” David wished he’d let Patrick finish the sentence instead of rushing to reassure him. “It’s your job. I get it. We always have texting.” David’s throat burned.

Patrick nodded in the least convincing way possible. “Thank you for making time to see me. I know you’re busy.”

David cupped Patrick’s shoulder, probably a bit too close to his neck than a friend should. “Hey, no need to thank me. I wanted to see you, too. I hope our schedules cross again soon. You play in L.A. a time or two anyway, right? I’m sure we can hang out then.”

Months ago, the thought of a platonic hangout with Patrick sounded like the worst kind of torture. Now he’d take whatever he could get. 

Patrick packaged up the rest of the pastries and handed the bundle to David. “For you. I know you have an intense couple of days ahead.”

David clutched the bags to his chest. “Thanks.” David almost spilled his secret in a last ditch effort to get Patrick’s smile back, but he was too embarrassed. All he’d need to do was tug at the high collar of his sweater or lift the hem to show Patrick that he was wearing his T-shirt underneath. David had worn that T-shirt a lot since the Maldives. Maybe Patrick would read between the lines on that, but he was a coward and kept his sweater in place.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Patrick cleared his throat a couple of times. 

“I hope you have a good flight,” David said softly.

“Thanks. I hope you have a good trip. You’ll try that ramen place?”

“Of course. I’ll text you my review tonight.”

Patrick grinned. “Looking forward to it.” He stepped toward David.

David set the pastries down with shaking hands. He would not fall apart in public. He would not. 

He closed the distance and pulled Patrick into a hug. Patrick’s arms went around his waist as though it were as natural as breathing. Hidden from Patrick’s keen eyes, David found a sliver of bravery. “I’ve really missed you.”

Patrick’s grip tightened. “I’ve really missed you too.” His voice cracked. 

David gave himself three more seconds. Then he’d let Patrick go.

Three. Inhale.

Two. Squeeze.

One. Release.

Patrick still had one hand on David’s waist, and David had one hand on Patrick’s shoulder. He leaned in to kiss Patrick on the cheek. Friends did that, right? His aim was off and he grazed the side of Patrick’s mouth, their lips overlapped by millimeters. Enough contact to nearly make his knees buckle with a visceral memory of the taste of Patrick’s lips against his own. Salty from the ocean after Patrick went for a swim off of David’s deck.

“See you, David.”

“Yeah, see you.” David attempted to smile. He could be brave until Patrick left. 

Patrick picked up his fancy branded team duffle bag, leaned in, and kissed David’s cheek. Before David could say anything, Patrick grabbed the handle of his suitcase and walked away.

David watched Patrick walk toward the exit to the tarmac. Nate stood to the side and kicked off the wall when Patrick approached. He clapped Patrick on the shoulder and gave what looked like a reassuring squeeze as he leaned over and said something. Patrick nodded, but his head was down, shoulders slumped even further.  

Before he walked through the door, Patrick turned around and smiled at David. David waved and watched until he couldn’t see Patrick any longer.

Then he beelined it for the bathroom so he could fall apart in private. How the hell did parting the second time hurt so much more than the first? Probably because now he knew what he doesn’t have. No, that wasn’t quite right. He did have some of it, as much of it as the loose boundaries of their evolving friendship allowed. That’s what made it harder. He knew what the whole delicious pie looked like while he did his best to be satisfied by a slice. 

David hoped in some parallel world that he and Patrick found a way to be happy together. 

Chapter Text

“Mr. Brewer?” A guy about Patrick’s age approached him. He was tall and muscular, with dark hair pulled back into a bun. 

Patrick recognized him from the photo attached to his Gmail account. When Patrick had reached out last month about doing something with the Toronto Q Center for queer youth, he’d emailed a few times with the executive director, Eric. “That’s me. Please, call me Patrick.”

“Hi, Patrick, I’m Eric Parry. Thanks so much for taking some time to visit with us. The kids are so excited.” Eric held out his hand and Patrick shook it. Eric’s hand lingered for a moment as he held Patrick’s eye contact. His mouth curved up a little. 

“Thanks. It’s a pleasure to be here today.” Patrick loved those kinds of events. Getting to hang out with kids was always fun, but his favorite were events with queer teens, especially when he got to connect with them over baseball. 

After he’d come out, it had taken him a while to accept that it was okay he hadn’t realized he was gay until well into his twenties. Sometimes he was jealous of people who knew that about themselves when they were young. He wondered what his life would have been like if he’d have dated boys starting back in high school instead of girls. Whenever his mind went down that destructive path, he ended up at the same destination. He wouldn’t trade his life for anything. Every experience led him to where he was, and he was happy. Truly happy.

But for the teens at the park today? He was thrilled they already knew themselves in that way. 

“I’ll be sticking close to you today to make sure the kids don’t get carried away.” One side of Eric’s mouth curved up, revealing a dimple. “Seriously, they’ve been talking about this nonstop for weeks.” Patrick noticed both a rainbow pride pin and a he/him/his pronoun pin attached to his dark green henley. 

“I’m glad they’re excited. I really enjoy these events.”

Eric leaned against the cyclone fencing. “You seem genuine about that.”

Patrick laughed. “Should I not be?”

Eric’s cheeks reddened a little as he looked down and laughed. “Sorry, I just mean, I bet you have to do a lot of these things, and it must get tiring on top of your busy schedule.”

“This is actually something I do for fun. It’s not part of my team requirements or anything.” 

Eric’s eyes widened. “Wow. That’s seriously amazing. Maybe if I’d had a gay athlete like you to look up to when I was a kid, I might have stuck with baseball.”

“You played?”

“I did, but it wasn’t exactly friendly for an out gay guy in high school. You know?”

One aspect of coming out he hadn’t considered was all the subtle ways people chose to indicate their sexuality. After some rude awakenings and some education, he’d grown to hate that straight seemed to be the default. He hated that he’d gone years living in blissful ignorance and the privilege of rarely, if ever, having to indicate he was straight. He’d gone from that to a different kind of privilege; one of a professional athlete who had national media screaming his sexuality from the mountaintops like it was his party trick. Rarely did he have to indicate his sexuality, because it seemed like everyone already knew he was gay. That was probably what had helped him and Ken along so quickly. Ken had made it clear he knew, which probably saved them from some awkward flirting attempts. 

So, Eric was gay. Gay and attractive and worked with kids. “I wasn’t out back then, but I can imagine how hard it was. My teammates weren’t exactly open-minded. We were such dumb kids.”

He and Eric swapped stories about being a high school athlete while volunteers corralled the kids into the park. It had been a while since Patrick had that much fun talking to someone he didn’t know. They clicked quickly. By the time Eric led Patrick over to where the kids were gathered and introduced him, they’d already swapped their favorite hiking spots. After Patrick talked to the kids for a while about playing in high school and college, coming out, and being a queer athlete, he set them up some with some drills. While the kids tossed balls back and forth and Patrick made rounds to offer advice on technique, he and Eric chatted about last year’s hockey season. 

Patrick split the teens up into two teams and set them up in a game. He loved watching them cheer each other on, the gentle teasing, and getting pulled into an endless parade of selfies. 

He positioned himself at home plate to coach each of the kids at bat. He’d discovered years ago that he could make the biggest impact in an afternoon through individual coaching on batting technique. 

“Now bend your knees a bit more. Perfect,” Patrick said to one of the kids.

“Got it, thanks.” Before the pitcher threw the ball, the kid said, “Mr. Parry is single, you know.”

Patrick ignored the comment and cheered when the kid made contact with the ball.

In what had to be a coordinated effort, the next three kids made comments about Eric too. Eric was funny, Eric knew how to cook, Eric was a huge Jays fan.

Eric was exactly the kind of guy Patrick had been looking for. A regular guy who was nice, funny, kind, and who he had things in common with. Six months ago, Patrick would have flirted and maybe asked Eric out. Since things had started to fall apart with Ken, Patrick had glommed onto the idea that a “regular” person out of the spotlight was exactly what he needed. That the only way to be himself was to spend his off-hours pretending he wasn’t in the periphery of celebrity. 

He wasn’t so sure about that any longer. He’d felt more alive, more invested, more present, more himself, more known, in six months of talking with David than he’d ever felt before. David was the opposite of who he’d envisioned wanting, but damn, he wanted David more than anything. Selfishly, he wanted David more than he wanted a championship ring. 

When he’d learned David lived in L.A., he expected David to spend his weekends at parties or clubs. Once he’d learned what David did for a living, he had thought that even more strongly. But David didn’t seem to love being in the spotlight. Most of the weekends when he wasn’t working, he talked to Patrick. They FaceTimed when they were both free or texted a little if Patrick wasn’t home.

If they lived near each other and could actually spend time together, Patrick thought they would mesh really well. He easily imagined them cooking dinner together and relaxing at home, trying a quiet restaurant, or having a games night with friends. Patrick could have that life if he moved or was happy with being with David only a few months a year. But that wasn’t feasible.

Eventually, the afternoon event wrapped up and Eric corralled everyone into a big group photo. Patrick happily hung back to meet parents and take photos with the kids. Once the crowd dwindled, he turned to find Eric still there.

“I’ll walk you out so none of the loitering kids try to twist your arm for tickets or something.” Eric grinned at him.

He didn’t really need an escort to his car, but he agreed. It was a nice gesture. As they packed up gear, Eric talked about a new art program he was launching soon.

When they reached his car, Patrick popped his trunk open. “This has been a lot of fun. Thanks for being a great host.” Patrick dropped his team duffle in the trunk then closed it and turned to Eric. 

“It has been fun. It’s amazing of you to take time out of your schedule to engage with the kids. I’m sure they’ll remember this day for a long time.”

Patrick’s cheeks warmed at Eric’s earnest praise. “Least I can do. If you want to do any other baseball events, feel free to reach out. I also play guitar, so I’m always up for open mics too.” He chuckled.

“Athletic and a musician? Quite a guy.” Eric held his gaze.

Right. Well. He was flattered. Really flattered. Eric was hot and nice and funny and worked with queer youth for a living. On paper, he seemed pretty damn great.

“This might be wildly inappropriate, but I feel a bit of a vibe?” Eric gestured between them. “Would you be interested in getting coffee sometime?”

Six months ago, Patrick would’ve eagerly accepted. Six months ago, Patrick didn’t know David. But now that he knew David? No one compared. Eric in person didn’t stand a chance against David at a distance. 

“You didn’t imagine it.” Patrick ran his hand through his short curls. “For a long time, I looked for a guy like you.”

“Definitely sensing a but coming,” Eric said, giving a lopsided smile. 

Patrick laughed awkwardly. “But, I’m pretty hung up on someone right now, and I think I owe it to him to see if it has legs.”

“Lucky guy.”

“Lucky me,” Patrick said. He waited for the regret to hit. A little voice in his head told him he was an idiot for turning down a date with a great guy in favor of pining for someone who lived so far away, but the voice was drowned out by relief. Like he’d taken a step toward a decision, toward something. What? He didn’t know yet. “Feel free to say no, but I don’t really have many queer friends. We definitely have a lot in common, and I’d like to get coffee sometime or maybe go hiking.”

“As friends?” Eric smiled softly.

“Yeah, if that’s not too awkward?”

Eric laughed. “Some of my best friends came from failed attempts at dating. I think that sounds great. Here, let me give you my cell.” 

They swapped numbers and said goodbye. Patrick bounced moment-to-moment, feeling lighter and heavier. Lighter for verbalizing to someone that he liked David, but heavier because he needed to decide if he was going to do something about it.

His mind raced as he drove over to Mike and Becca’s for dinner. 

“Why do you look like you’re trying to solve a calculus problem?” Becca said when he walked into their kitchen a short while later.

“Because math is fun?” Patrick walked over to the dining table to give Trixie a hug while she drew messy lines with a crayon. Then he set a box of butter tarts on the counter. “Sometimes I think you know me too well.”

“Psh. No such thing.” She pulled him into a hug. “You okay?”

He nodded and considered what to share. Maybe talking to her would help him sort some things out in his head. “A guy asked me out today.”

Becca kept her expression neutral as she husked an ear of corn. “What did you say?”

Patrick let out a humorless laugh. “That I’m too hung up on someone to date right now, but would like to be friends.”

Becca dropped the corn into a boiling pot of water. “That’s a lot to unpack.”

“You’re telling me.” He walked over to the fridge and grabbed a beer. “How can I help?” 

She assigned him salad assembly duty as she rinsed off some fruit. “Want to talk about it?”

He chopped a tomato. “This guy seems great. He’s the director at the queer youth group I volunteered with today. He hikes and likes sports and we like the same music. Funny and nice. Pretty hot, too.”

“You two covered a lot of ground today.” She arched an eyebrow. “Sounds like there’s something there.”

“There could be.”

“But?”

“But I feel like all of my romantic bandwidth is tied up at the moment.” He moved on to cutting a cucumber. 

“David.”

Patrick sighed. “Yeah, David.”

“Have you told David how you feel?” Becca stopped chopping fruit and stared at him. 

He squirmed under her attention. “No, I haven’t.”

“Hey, how’s my third favorite baseball player?” Mike walked in wearing his kiss the cook apron. He looked between Patrick and Becca. “What are you two talking about?” 

“Patrick got asked out today and is having an existential crisis over whether he should’ve said yes. Because—” She waved her hand around in a way that reminded Patrick of David “—you know, David.”

“I’m Team David,” Mike said casually as he strode over to the fridge to grab a beer. 

“Excuse me?” Patrick turned toward his best friend and gave him an incredulous look. “Team David? What the hell does that mean?”

Mike leaned against the counter and popped a piece of tomato in his mouth as Becca walked over to help Trixie with something. “That if I had to ship you with someone, it would be David Rose.” He shrugged.

“Ship me. Are you a tween?”

“Maybe.” He nicked another chunk of tomato. “Who’s this guy who asked you out?”

Resigned, Patrick recounted the afternoon with Eric. 

Mike whistled. “Poor guy doesn’t stand a chance against David. Shame. Think he’d go out with me?”

Becca threw a grape at him. “You wish. Stop trying to guilt me into going hiking with you. Join an outdoorsy club or something.”

Mike walked over and leaned against her back, wrapped his arms around her waist, and hooked his chin over her shoulder. “Okay, baby.”

A pang ping-ponged around Patrick’s ribcage. That’s what he wanted. To walk up and wrap his arms around David’s waist, bask in his warmth.

“I’m Team David, too. I know no one’s surprised. After he DM’d me, I considered making T-shirts for our club,” Becca said.

Patrick stopped chopping vegetables. “DM’d you?”

Becca’s mouth curved into a devilish grin. “Oh, didn’t I tell you about that?”

Mike flashed a shit-eating grin.

“Obviously you didn’t. Spill.” Patrick set the knife down with more force than was necessary.

Mike winked at Patrick, then walked over to join Trixie at the table. 

“He messaged me when you hit that stolen bases milestone. He didn’t understand why the team was celebrating so hard.” Becca laughed. “Then I had to explain why getting a Gatorade shower is a good thing.” She grinned at him. “He was really hung up on the impact it would have on your skin and hair, and how sticky it would be. I believe he said, the only good thing about polyester is it can withstand neon soda.

Patrick closed his eyes and tilted his head back. “I like him so much.” David didn’t usually seem shy about asking baseball questions. He wondered why David didn’t ask Patrick about that one. 

“No shit, Sherlock,” Mike called from the dining table.

“Swear jar!” Becca and Patrick said at the same time.

“Did he DM you after the game or something?”

“No, right when it happened. I guess he was watching live and didn’t want to wait to ask you. Or too embarrassed?” She shrugged.

David feeling comfortable enough to reach out to Patrick’s friend? That made him so happy. “Did he DM you again?” Patrick was tempted to ask if he could read the thread, but that was a little too creepy. 

Mike and Becca looked at each other and had one of those silent, long-term couple conversations. 

“We DM fairly regularly,” she said.

Patrick’s eyes went wide, and he waited for her to elaborate.

“It’s mostly me sending him random stuff I see in the Facebook group and gossiping about other HGTV people. Don’t worry, we don’t talk about you.”

He was sort of disappointed about that, which made him feel like shit.

“That much. We talk about you sometimes, but nothing serious. Don’t worry.”

“Oh, I’m worrying.” Patrick looked at Mike. “You DMing with him, too? The three of you have Property Brothers watch parties?”

“God, no, he hates Drew,” Becca said casually, while she resumed her fruit chopping. 

Patrick threw his arms in the air. “How do you know that?”

“We DM, Patrick. I just told you.” Becca smirked at him.

Mike laughed. “No, he hasn’t contacted me. I think this is more of a situation with our partners getting to know each other.”

“David isn’t my partner.” Saying that out loud twisted his stomach. He should probably pay attention to that. 

“Tell that to your face,” Becca said as she waved the knife in his direction from across the kitchen island.

Patrick opened his mouth and closed it again. He was an idiot. He’d been living in denial for months. Patrick spent so much time reminding himself of all the ways it wouldn’t work with David that he never actually talked to David about it. Maybe David thought Patrick wasn’t interested?

If the past six months have showed him anything, it’s that he wanted David in his life any way he can get him. But more than that, he wanted an actual relationship with David. Even if it was long distance, even if they didn’t get to see each other that often, it would be worth it. 

It was increasingly difficult to keep his feelings for David inside, especially after they saw each other a few weeks ago. That had been the best kind of torture. He had worried seeing each other again would highlight cracks in their foundation. That maybe they had transitioned to being digital friends and nothing more. Or that their physical connection was too strong, and they’d realize they couldn’t stay friends because the crux of their relationship was great sex. 

Of all the scenarios he’d imagined, he hadn’t let himself believe how easy it would be. How quickly they’d fall into easy conversations. There weren’t any awkward silences, and they’d immediately picked up conversation threads from their frequent texts and phone calls. Being in David’s presence was like the first hint of sun after a dark winter. 

In the days leading up to Chicago, he’d gone back and forth on the best way to greet David. He didn’t want to seem too aloof or eager, so he’d planned to give David an enthusiastic hug. But when he sensed David’s arrival, then looked up and saw him, all attempts at chill flew out the window. Picking David up and spinning him had been over the top, but the way David smiled down at him had made it worth it. If anything, that had probably broken the ice between them.

Walking away from him just over an hour later had been harder than the first time. If it weren’t for Nate talking some sense into him, he probably would’ve skipped the flight and gotten in serious trouble with the team. 

Thoughts of David had been a constant background hum since they’d met, but after they saw each other again, it had grown into a loud beat in the front of his mind. His feelings for David hadn’t changed, but his feelings about how to act on them had been evolving. It was harder to deny that he wanted David in his life in a bigger and more permanent way after seeing him again. 

Letting fear rule his decisions would only hurt him in the long run. It might hurt David too, if Patrick was what David wanted. He had to believe David wanted dating or a relationship or something, too. Over the months, he’d gotten to know David pretty well, and the way David looked at him in Chicago was different from the Maldives. In the Maldives, David’s face had been full of interest and intrigue and want. In Chicago? Patrick read the yearning in David’s eyes as easily as he read the exit sign directing him to the charter flight. He spotted it because it was the same expression he saw on his own face every time he video chatted with David.

“I’m going to talk to him,” Patrick said decisively. 

Becca did a full-body wiggle. “Oh my god, it’ll be like David Rose is my brother-in-law.”

Patrick dumped the vegetables he chopped into a bowl. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. Maybe I’ll call him tomorrow.”

“Aren’t you going to L.A. soon? This seems like an in-person conversation. Don’t you think?” Mike said, then looked to Becca, and she nodded.

“Yeah, good point. I can wait a few more weeks.” He’d been waiting months already. They were right. It was an in-person conversation. When he realized months ago that he and David were probably going to stay in contact, he’d practically begun counting down the days to when the Jays traveled to L.A. May had seemed so far away back then, but now it was right around the corner. At least it wasn’t a July or August series. 

With that decided, Patrick felt lighter. Once they plated up dinner, he sent David a photo.

[photo of plate full of BBQ] Dinner with Mike and Becca tonight. They treat me so well. Also, I was thinking. I’ll be in L.A. a few days next month for work. I’d love to see you. I arrive the 18th

A while later, Patrick’s phone buzzed.

that looks so good! Are you sure those are the dates? You don’t happen to be off by a day or 2 do you?

positive. I triple checked

I triple checked my calendar and I’m in Texas for work that week… fuck

Patrick sighed loudly.

“Uh oh,” Becca said.

“He’s going to be in Texas for work when I’m in L.A.”

“Shit.”

“Swear jar!” Mike said to Becca.

“Shut up,” Becca said, and Trixie giggled.

“What do I do now?”

He picked up his phone. He could call David right then and tell him how he felt, ask how David felt. 

“What are you doing during the All-Star break?” Mike asked.

They all knew Patrick wasn’t going to get picked for the team, which didn’t bother Patrick. It was nice to have a few days off mid-season.

“Sleeping?”

Becca lit up. “Go to L.A. or wherever David is.”

“That’s not until July. Over two more months? That’s too long,” Patrick said. 

“What’s two more months when it could mean the rest of your life?” Mike said.

Becca grabbed Mike’s hand on the dining table. “David deserves a big gesture. The man loves his rom-coms. Did you see his Insta story rant about Sleepless in Seattle last week? Take your time and make it big. Show him how important he is.”

They were right. David deserved a big romantic gesture. He could do something special for him. Patrick would put it all on the line, put his heart on the line. But if he was going to wait two more months, he wasn’t going to hold back any longer. No more curbing his flirting and second-guessing everything.

He picked up his phone. 

I’ll play there again, David, don’t worry. We’ll pass in another airport, or maybe I can visit after the season ends this fall. I’ve never actually played tourist in L.A. before. Maybe you could show me around? I also have a few days off in July. Maybe I can catch you somewhere then?

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

“Another one?” The bartender asked as they picked up the empty pint glass in front of David.

David grimaced but nodded. He couldn’t understand how people drank multiple beers. The liquid settled uncomfortably heavy in his stomach, but he wasn’t about to order a cosmo at a hole in the wall sports bar. Even in L.A.

“This is a new low.”

David spun around toward the voice. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Stevie slid onto the stool next to him and ordered a beer from the bartender pouring David’s. “I tracked your phone.”

David’s mouth fell open. “Excuse me? How the ever loving fuck can you track my phone?” He didn’t think there were boundaries in their friendship, but he’d just found one. 

“Any time you get a new phone, I install a tracking app. Don’t worry, I’ve never had to use it. Well, except that one time you called me to pick you up but were too drunk to tell me where you were or who you went home with. It’s a security thing, as your manager.”

He’d always wondered how she’d gotten him home that night. He’d assumed his drunk recall was better than he’d realized. “Sounds like a super fucking nosey thing.”

“Would it make you feel better if you could track mine?”

David straightened his back. “Actually, yes, that would make me feel better.”

She picked his phone up off the bar and unlocked it. If she was able to track his phone, he shouldn’t be surprised she knew the passcode to it. The bartender set their beers down, and David choked down a few sips while Stevie did stuff on their phones. 

A few minutes later, Stevie handed his phone back. “There. In that app, you can see where I am. So if I disappear, I expect you to go all Liam Neeson for me.”

He smirked. “Deal.”

They sat in silence for a minute. Both watched the large television hanging over the bar in front of them. David tried to enjoy the peace before he had to face whatever Stevie was going to say. Since she’d decided to track him down, he worried for a second that something was wrong with his family, but she wouldn’t have dragged news like that out. Which left the other plausible option of wanting to confront him about something. They’d only had a couple of confrontations in their friendship. One when he was partying a bit too hard and one when he was a bit too caught up with a toxic ex. 

“You’re drinking beer,” she said eventually.

“I am.”

“You’re at a sports bar.”

“Look at your impressive observation skills.”

She looked at him, and he felt the weight of it. “You’re wearing a blue sweater.”

It was a Neil Barrett that was black on the bottom half and blue on the top half with a horizontal white stripe. It wasn’t a blue sweater. “Well, I wasn’t going to wear the fucking jersey!” He turned back to the TV and bit his lips together.

“Just trying to figure out the puzzle of why you’re in a sports bar, drinking beer and wearing blue. Who’s playing?” She looked up at the screen. “Oh. Look at that. The Jays. Shocking,” she said in a deadpan voice, then looked at him again. “This is my shocked face.”

David huffed. “I’m going through a lot right now and need you to dial your sarcasm back from a forty to about a six, please.”

“Why are you here?”

“Today was hard,” he said, watching Nate at the little diamond with the bat in his hands. 

She awkwardly patted his shoulder. “It was a rough day.”

He appreciated that she didn’t want to go over it in excruciating detail, either as his manager or his best friend. It had been a while since a reporter had been that much of a scumbag. He was really fucking tired of being treated like a clown at a queer circus, expected to perform tricks when the audience called for it. The only thing that made him feel better was how his publicist had immediately stopped the interview and verbally eviscerated the reporter.

Patrick stepped up to the diamond, and David’s heart leapt in his throat. He wondered if the sight of Patrick would ever not cause heart palpitations. He hoped not. Patrick licked his lips, squared his shoulders, dragged his right foot over the base, then his left. Every time. The routine settled David. 

The ball flew past Patrick’s bat as he swung it. His face pinched in disappointment for a fraction of a second, but then he licked his lips and started his routine over again. That time, there was a loud crack and Patrick immediately ran. That was David’s favorite part. 

“Yes!” David balled his hands into fists and shook them in the air. Stevie gave him a high five once Patrick stopped at the base in the middle of the field. Second? Yeah, second base.

“He’s good,” Stevie said.

“Obviously. He’s a professional athlete.”

Stevie rolled her eyes. “Gross.”

He didn’t look away from the TV until Patrick was back in the team bunker. The bartender came by again, and David ordered a platter of assorted fried foods. As soon as David began to relax and think that maybe Stevie wasn’t going to run her mouth, she ran her mouth.

“Do you enjoy your job?”

He clenched his jaw. That conversation had been brewing for a while. He just didn’t expect it to happen surrounded by people in polyester and drinking pitchers of beer.

“It pays the bills,” he said, never willing to give too much away too soon.

“That’s not what I asked,” she said.

In that moment, he wasn’t sure if he should talk to Stevie like she was his best friend or his manager. But maybe they didn’t need to be different. Maybe they never had been. He was too tired to treat them as two different things at that moment.

“Not really, no. I haven’t enjoyed it in a while.” He glanced at Stevie out of the corner of his eye to see her reaction. She… didn’t react. “You’re not surprised?”

“I know you pretty well, David. I’m not surprised at all. I assumed that the perks of celebrity made up for the parts of the show you didn’t like, but I don’t think that’s the case any longer.” She arched an eyebrow.

David took a fortifying drink of the bitter beer. “It’s not. If I’m being honest, it’s exhausting. People think they know me, but they don’t know me at all.” That became startling apparent as he let Patrick get to know him, or Patrick made David let him. Either way, he kind of loved being known by Patrick.

Stevie twisted her half-empty glass of beer. “It would get worse with the new show.” 

That fear had played like a constant loop in his mind, interwoven with his anxiety. “I know.”

“Do you want to do the new show?”

“No.” There was some sort of safety in finally being honest with people yelling and cheering around them, but not paying them any attention. 

“Why haven’t you turned down the offer yet?”

“And risk the contract renewal? I need a job.” He practically heard Stevie’s eye roll. He should’ve talked to Stevie about it back in February when they’d made the offer. A part of him hoped if he sat with the opportunity for a while, maybe he would begin to want it. That hadn’t happened. Not even a little bit. If anything, the thought of the new show and product line and everything that went along with it was giving him an ulcer. 

The bartender returned with their food a few minutes later. He ate a mozzarella stick as he worked up his nerve. Stevie knew to wait him out with the hard stuff, and that pissed him off because it always worked.

“Saying no doesn’t just affect me. It affects you too.”

Stevie remained silent.

“If I make more money, you make more money.” He dipped a fried chicken strip into the ranch dressing. “And if I turn it down, then I’m basically taking money from you.”

“Did you ever think of asking me what I want?” Her tone was harsh. 

He paused. “…No?”

“Of course you didn’t. Because that doesn’t fit in your self-flagellation hero complex.” Stevie swiped at her eyes. “I can take care of myself, Rose.”

He laughed. “Believe me, I know.” She was the fiercest and most independent person he’d ever known. “But that doesn’t mean you always have to. You’re an incredible manager and you deserve all the money.”

“Then let’s renegotiate my contract so I get a bigger cut.”

“Mmkay, you can get a bigger cut when you’re the one having to get on camera and when you get recognized when you’re trying to buy condoms at the pharmacy.”

She laughed, then stole the last mozzarella stick. “I appreciate that, I do. But if you’re miserable at work, then I’m miserable at work because you’ll make me miserable. I’d rather not be miserable. The money isn’t worth it.”

David knew enough about Stevie’s past to know those words carried a lot of meaning. He’d never visited Schitt’s Creek, but she’d told stories of the run-down motel her aunt could never afford to fix up, the way the community stepped in sometimes to care for Stevie when her parents weren’t around. Stevie deserved security, and if adding on another show for a few years could help her have that, he should consider it. But she was right. He’d be miserable. Absolutely miserable.

“If I say no to the new show, what about my contract renewal? What if they don’t renew me?”

“You’re only obligated to film one more season. If they don’t renew you, then you can go back to taking on private clients.”

He smiled to himself as he grabbed another piece of chicken. “But what about you? You’d have to find new clients.”

Stevie drummed her fingers against the glass. “Did you know I used to help my aunt run the motel before she sold it to move into the retirement home?”

David shook his head. 

“I was pretty good at it. The paperwork, dealing with people, staying organized. I also got really good at solitaire.”

His eyebrows pushed together as he tried to figure out where she was going.

“I’m pretty good at managing things, don’t you agree? Your contracts, schedules, people who have to deal with you.”

“I think you mean the people I have to deal with,” he snapped.

“I said what I said.”

“As loathe I am to feed your ego, yes, you’re really fucking good at it,” David offered.

Stevie rotated on the stool to face him. “Those are some pretty damn good transferrable skills that would make me a great manager of an interior design company. Don’t you think? I already know how to deal with the moody designer, which is the hardest part.”

David felt like his soul had just left his body. Stevie would consider joining him if he started his business back up? Only in his deepest daydreams had he allowed himself to even whisper the thought of that being a possibility. He never expected he’d have the nerve to ask her, let alone her bring it up.

It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

“Stop with the smiling. Ugh. I don’t get paid enough to deal with your bullshit.” She took the last piece of chicken.

“You’re right. You don’t. Good thing you love me anyway.”

Stevie looked back up at the TV and sighed heavily. “With work out of the way, what’s going on with you and your baseball player?”

“He’s not my baseball player.”

She pointedly looked at his blue sweater, then at his eyes. “Why not?”

“Last time I checked, he still lived twenty-five-hundred miles away.”

“That’s specific. You’ve mapped it?”

“Fuck off. Of course I’ve mapped it, but I haven’t been desperate enough yet to make the thirty-seven hour drive.” He’d thought about it many times. Hopping on a last-minute flight, getting in his car, going to see him for even a day. An hour. 

For the first few months after the Maldives, he thought wanting only an hour with Patrick was ridiculous. But after seeing him in Chicago last month? It was absolutely worth traveling as far as the Maldives for just an hour with Patrick. 

“The pining was cute for a while, but now it’s pretty annoying. You’re cockblocking yourself at this point.”

“That’s not what’s happening How are we supposed to try dating or start a relationship when we live so far apart and our jobs keep us that far apart?”

“Pretty sure we sorted out the work stuff, unless you haven’t been here for this conversation.” She arched an eyebrow.

“We talked about me not accepting the new show, but I still have a season to film and possibly a contract renewal. And if I don’t renew, I need to find clients and build a business. I live here.”

Stevie got that look on her face like she had before she negotiated a huge salary increase for his last contract. It terrified and thrilled him. 

“All of this serious talk is seriously bumming me out, so I’m going to say this once. Then you need to fix your shit.” She tossed back the rest of her beer. “Let’s say you wait until the new season is done filming in the fall and decide to make your move with Patrick. What if he finds someone before then? A sweet, jock gay like him isn’t going to stay single forever. You want him, and for some godforsaken reason, the man wants you.” Stevie looked him right in the eyes. “Where did you find the audacity to ignore that? Is there a store where I can buy some? Or is it something you were born with as a cis man?”

“Excuse you.” David’s eyebrows shot toward his hairline. He tried to get pissed, but he couldn’t. She was right. He’d spent years wanting someone to care for, wanting someone to care for him, wanting something real. He had that with Patrick. Their brief time in Chicago made that really fucking obvious, and the flirting had kicked up a few notches since. If he let Patrick fall through his fingers, he’d never forgive himself. It wasn’t just him, but his fear was preventing Patrick from happiness, too. 

He dropped his head into his hands. He couldn’t believe he not only had a good person in his life who liked him that way, but that he felt secure in knowing Patrick felt that way. David had never felt secure in someone else’s feelings for him before. They hadn’t exactly said their feelings to each other, but Patrick showed David every day how important David was in his life. He just hoped he’d shown Patrick the same. 

“You’re right,” he mumbled into his palm.

“Sorry, didn’t hear that, can you say it again?” She sounded so fucking smug.

“You’re right. I’ll talk to him.”

“When?”

“Fuck. I don’t know. This should happen in-person, right?”

Stevie rolled her eyes. “Obviously. This isn’t exactly something you text about. I have zero relationship experience and even I know that. Doesn’t he have games in L.A.?”

David clenched his jaw. “He’ll be here in two weeks.”

Stevie’s face fell. “When you’re in Texas?”

“Yes.” As soon as he’d gotten Patrick’s text last week about meeting up in L.A., he’d damn near done a cartwheel. He immediately went to add it to his calendar with an embarrassing number of heart emoji until he saw the week-long trip to Texas to interview potential guests for the next season. Patrick had handled it so well. Because of course he did. 

David’s disappointment had shifted to excitement when they talked about meeting up in New York in July. “But he’s got time off in July and offered to visit me in New York.”

He regretted not blocking the dates for Patrick’s L.A. games in his calendar months ago. But, honestly? He didn’t think they’d still be talking. He thought Patrick would tired of him or whatever was going on would fizzle. And it felt a little like tempting fate. David had let fear dictate too much in his life. 

Stevie grinned. “I’ve got an idea. Wanna hear it?”

David knew that look. He definitely wanted to hear Stevie’s idea. He ordered another round of beer for them.

Chapter Text

The adrenaline slowly leaked out of Patrick as reporters wrapped up their locker room player interviews and filtered out. The spirits were still high as the team took turns in the showers. 

What an incredible game. It was always tense playing the Yankees, but a tied game at the bottom of the ninth with him up to bat was about as tense as it got for Patrick at the start of a series. He would probably wake up with bruises tomorrow from his teammates tackling him on the field after he got a walk off a sacrifice fly that won the game. 

Patrick wasn’t used to being one of the players late to shower because of so many reporters wanting to talk to him, but he happily basked in the attention while he had it. 

“Nice one, PBrew,” one of the assistant coaches said to him as he walked to the showers. 

“Thanks.” He was on top of the world, and all he wanted to do was to tell David about it. He knew David wouldn’t understand the details, but David didn’t need to understand the game to be happy for him. Patrick imagined David’s smile as he let the baseball stuff wash over him, and the adorably awkward ways he complimented Patrick using the terms that made sense to David. Like good performance instead of good game. Though, he’d surprised Patrick quite a bit lately with his increasing knowledge of the sport. Patrick never asked about it, and David never offered where he’d been learning from.

Each time Patrick caught David using a baseball term correctly, David seemed disappointed with himself. Like he was battling some sort of sporty infection and losing. It was charming.

Patrick scrubbed the sweat and sunblock off his body. Two more games against the Yankees, Monday off, then to Boston for a series, then to L.A. If David didn’t have to travel for work, they’d see each other in a week. It could’ve been only a week of waiting after six months. Patrick scrubbed the towel over his face and stifled a groan. 

It was fine. It would be fine. He could wait two more months to see David. When he’d texted David a couple of weeks ago about meeting up in L.A., and then had casually mentioned maybe meeting up in July instead, he hadn’t expected David to agree. Meeting up when they happened to be in the same place was one thing, but intentionally traveling to see one another was something else. It meant something else. At least to him.

David had surprised him again by immediately agreeing. He really shouldn’t be surprised by David any longer. Clearly they both had feelings for each other, and the only reason they hadn’t acted on them yet was because of their circumstances. Patrick didn’t have an answer to that yet, but Mike and Becca had helped him realize maybe he didn’t need an answer yet. If all went how he hoped in July, they could figure out the logistics. 

Patrick would go anywhere to see him. Even for a day. An hour. A hug. He had two months to show David that he was worth taking a risk on when Patrick finally asked David to take the risk.

He finished drying off, then wrapped a fresh towel around his waist and walked back to his cubby to get changed. 

The locker room buzzed with energy. Someone had started up their Home Game Wins playlist, and the guys loudly ribbed each other, rehashed plays, and talked about tomorrow’s game. Patrick let the noise wash over him as he pulled out his street clothes to get dressed. His phone fell out of his clothes bundle where he’d stuffed it after the game before he did interviews. 

He picked it up and considered texting David, but he should probably wait until he got home. Get dressed, drive home, then text David. That made the most sense. David was probably heading home from work, though, so maybe if he texted now, he’d have a reply by the time he got home. He unlocked his phone and launched the top text thread.  

 

NBD but you might see me on ESPN tonight ;) I had a good game. How was your day? Were you able to entice that artist into doing the show?

“Um, actually, there’s been a change of plans.”

Patrick froze. He imagined David’s voice. Surely. He missed David so much that he was having some sort of adrenaline hallucination that had him expecting David’s reply and hearing it. That had to be it. Because the only other option was David standing behind him in the locker room, and that wasn’t possible. If his want for David could conjure the man, it would’ve happened months ago.

“Also, I don’t really understand why everyone tackled you in the end, but I’m sure you’ll explain it to me,” David said in a teasing tone.  

Patrick squeezed his eyes closed for a moment and steeled himself for it to be a hallucination. He braced for the disappointment. Patrick wanted it to be real so badly. But then Patrick noticed the locker room had gone quiet aside from the pulsing beat of the music, and the only thing that could shut up a room full of jocks with post-game adrenaline coursing through their veins was some juicy drama.

“Is that David Rose?” He heard someone say.

Holy shit.

A flutter raced up his sternum. Sucking in a breath, Patrick turned around. 

David stood a few feet away in tight white jeans ripped at the knee and a Jays jersey. His Jays jersey. Shy smile, perfect pompadour, hands fluttering at his sides. He was the most beautiful thing Patrick had ever seen.

“You’re wearing my jersey.”

David bit back a smile, which made his dimples pop. “I sort of expected the fact I’m here in Toronto and backstage in your greenroom to be the more shocking development, but fair. I can’t believe I’m wearing polyester either. How do you wear this every day? It’s itchy as fuck.” David scratched at his arm.

A few of the guys laughed, and Patrick remembered they had an audience. But he didn’t give a single shit.

“Why are you here?” He took a step forward, but the bench blocked him.

David looked down at the bench, then took a long, leisurely journey up Patrick’s body. A body only clothed by a towel around his waist. He felt goosebumps erupt over his skin. 

“The scenery?”

More laughter.

“How are you here?”

“There’s a fancy thing called an airplane. It can take you—”

“David!” Patrick didn’t know what his face was doing, but David looked at him with fondness in his eyes and a teasing smile.

But then David looked around them and grimaced a little. He glanced at his feet. “Are you going to make me do this in public?”

Patrick’s pulse thundered in his ears. “Do what?” David was there. He was in Toronto. In the Jays locker room.

David rolled his eyes in the way he did whenever he was charmed by Patrick and didn’t want to admit it. “I flew in last night. I had a meeting first thing with the execs of HGTV Canada.”

The words hit Patrick like a bucket of ice water. He got in last night and didn’t tell Patrick? Ouch. Of course, David was there for work and not for him. “I wish I knew you were coming. I could’ve picked you up from the airport or something,” he said weakly. He felt his mouth pull down into a deep frown. 

“Smooth, Brewer.”

Patrick flipped Jarod off without taking his eyes off David. 

David tilted his head to the side and looked confused for a moment, then understanding seemed to hit him. He shook his head softly and took a step forward. “But that would’ve ruined the surprise.”

“What’s the surprise?” Patrick said so quietly he wondered if David heard him over the music. 

David ran his palms down the front of the jersey and squared his shoulders. “Stevie and I pitched the idea that my next season be filmed here to expand the show to the Canadian market.” David rung his hands. “I didn’t tell you I was here last night because I wanted to see how the meeting went first. And it was really late, and I was grumpy and looked like shit,” he said in a rush.

First. Before he came to see Patrick? David wanted to come work in Toronto? He felt like his brain was running two bases behind. “What did they say?”

David flashed a brilliant, toothy smile. “The Canadian execs are completely on board. Stevie said they’re already working with corporate in Knoxville to make it happen.” David took another step closer. Patrick needed him in his arms. No more dancing around their feelings. He wasn’t going to waste another moment of David not knowing how he felt. “There're some details to work out, but I’m sure they’ll find a way.” 

“Wait, does that mean I can be on the show?”

Patrick looked over at Jarod and couldn’t stop a laugh from bubbling up.

“Jesus, Jarod. Not the time, bro.” Nate pushed at Jarod’s shoulder. 

Patrick replayed David’s words in his mind to make sure he heard what he thought he did. “Are you saying that you might come to Toronto for a while?”

David licked his lips and nodded. He looked so unsure for a moment. “I’ve been talking to this guy up here who keeps telling me how great the city is. He’s been taunting me about these donuts for about six months, so I thought I’d check it out for a while.”

“The city or the guy.”

David shrugged. “Both?”

Patrick smiled as wide as his cheeks would allow. David mirrored it before closing the distance between them and kneeling on the bench to pull Patrick in. David’s lips crashed against his, and all he could thing was finally, finally, finally!

David’s warm hands grabbed the back of his head and his waist, and Patrick cupped David’s cheeks.

“Get a room!”

“No making out in the locker room!”

“Ouch, PBrew. Rub it in for the chronically single.”

“PBrew and David Rose? My wife is going to lose her shit.”

“How the fuck did you land David Rose?”

“Yeah, PBrew, he’s way out of your league.”

Someone else wolf-whistled. 

Ultimately, Patrick couldn’t stop the laughter. He laughed against David’s lips, and David dropped his forehead against Patrick’s shoulder. He’d missed the feeling of David’s hair against his skin. 

“I can’t believe I just frenched you in a locker room full of guys,” David mumbled. “Your coworkers. This is your place of business.”

“I think I’ve seen a porn that started that way.” 

David’s shoulders shook with laughter.

Patrick glanced around and saw a few of the guys had turned back to their cubbies while a few others were grinning, giving him thumbs-up and making some lewd hand gestures.

He pulled David in for a hug. “You’re here,” he said against David’s neck.

“I am.” David placed a gentle kiss under Patrick’s ear, then pulled back. “And you’re just in a towel. How about you get dressed so we can go talk?”

David was there. David was in Toronto. In. Toronto. “Do you want to get dinner somewhere?”

David’s expression softened. “I was thinking I could cook for you? If that’s, um, something you’d be okay with?”

“I’d love that.”

Since Nate was already dressed, he offered to wait with David out of the locker room while Patrick got ready. He’d never dressed so fast in his life, but his shaky hands took forever with the shirt buttons. When he was finally heading out of the locker room, a few of the guys stopped him to ask who that guy was, why the hell Patrick was kissing David Rose, and, seriously, Patrick, do you think my wife and I can get on his show? 

When he spotted Nate and David out in the tunnel, they were laughing. David looked relaxed and happy. He strode right up to David, wrapped his arm around his waist, and leaned up for a kiss. “I don’t think I said this yet, but I’m really happy you’re here,” he whispered against David’s lips.

“You didn’t, but I’m happy you are otherwise this would be really fucking awkward.”

“Thank god you are, because Patrick has been a pain in the ass. It’s always David this and David that, which is fine, but it’s extra sad when it’s this, like, incessantly desperate pining, you know? I caught him watching your show on the plane last week.” Nate smirked.

“You’re a dick.”

“How about you go get some dick?” Nate ruffled Patrick’s wet hair. 

“See you tomorrow.” Patrick shook his head as David laughed. He couldn’t even be mad at Nate’s crass joke. If he and David were going to make a go of this, David would hear a lot worse from Patrick’s teammates.

“Save some energy for the game, yeah? And don’t hurt yourself.” Nate winked. “Nice to see you again, David. I hope to see you around here more often.”

“Thanks, Nate. I hope you will too.” David gave Patrick a meaningful look. He couldn’t wait to talk to David and say all the things he’d wanted to for months.

Patrick grabbed David’s hand. “Let’s get out of here.” He led them to where the private cars waited for the players who didn’t drive to the stadium. Patrick lived close enough that it didn’t make sense, and he always enjoyed decompressing on the quiet ride home. “How did you get here?”

“Uber.”

They got in the elevator, and Patrick crowded David up against the wall. Now that they’d popped the seal on kisses, Patrick needed more because he had months of kissing debt to work off. He teased at David’s lips with his tongue until David opened. They kissed frantically until the elevator opened at the level he needed. 

Patrick reluctantly pulled back. “I’ve missed you so much.”

David beamed at him. “Me too. So much, Patrick.”

Patrick gave him a quick peck, then led them to the waiting car. “You said you watched the game?”

“I did. I reached out to a friend of a friend and got seats for Stevie and I in one of the boxes. There was a nacho bar, Patrick. A nacho bar.”

Patrick laughed. “Wait, where’s Stevie? Should we invite her to dinner?” He greeted the driver and handed his bag over. The driver opened the door for him and David, and he followed David to the back bench of the SUV.

“Definitely not. We don’t need a third wheel.” David buckled himself in, then picked up Patrick’s hand. “And we should talk.”

“We should,” Patrick agreed.

“After dinner?”

“Yeah, but we’ll talk.” Patrick smiled. “A good talk.”

David let out a happy sigh. “Yeah, it’ll be a good talk.”

Patrick thought about how David put himself out there. He’d flown to Toronto and took a risk of changing his job before even talking to Patrick. He knew David wasn’t much of a risk-taking guy, so that must mean that David was all in on this and knew Patrick was, too. 

Patrick wanted to be clear about his intentions. He didn’t know what David had in mind for their conversation or the specifics to come, but he wanted David to know he was there for whatever came next. “Will you stay the night? I have to be back at the stadium by noon for tomorrow’s game, but we could sleep in and hang out all morning.”

David reached out and cupped Patrick’s neck. “I’d love to stay the night. I was kind of hoping for that, actually.” He bit his bottom lip. 

“Good.” Patrick started the car. “Want to swing by your hotel to pack your stuff?”

“I may have already packed my things in a good faith effort toward manifesting this outcome.” David gestured to Patrick with a flourish. “I left my bag with the concierge so I didn’t have to go to Stevie’s room to get it. She said she didn’t want to see me unless she and I had both misread the situation and I was horrifically wrong and needed a place to sob myself to dehydration or at brunch tomorrow. Oh, by the way, Stevie’s payment demand for the whole Toronto idea is that I introduce you two at brunch tomorrow. Assuming it fits in your schedule.”

Patrick couldn’t shake his smile as David talked and gestured and his mouth tried to keep up with his brain. “You definitely didn’t misread the situation.” He squeezed David’s hand. “And I’d love to have brunch with Stevie tomorrow. I know just the place.”

He gave David the name and watched as David texted Stevie. He looked away to give him privacy, but caught a reflection in the window that involved several heart emoji. He smiled to himself.

The whole thing was Stevie’s idea? That made Patrick happier. He couldn’t wait to hear everything, but knowing David had the support of his best friend and manager meant a lot. They’d get to the details eventually, but for a while he wanted to be with David in the present. They could worry about the future later. “I might bring her flowers.”

“Oh, god, don’t do that. She’d be insufferably smug about it,” David said, but Patrick caught him smiling before he looked out the passenger window. 

Patrick asked the driver to swing by David’s hotel, and en route, David peppered Patrick with questions about what groceries he had on hand. David eventually seemed satisfied that Patrick had the fixings for something David could cook. He couldn’t believe he’d woken up that morning brainstorming ideas for his big romantic gesture in July and would end the day with David in his arms two months earlier than he’d hoped for.

Once they got up to Patrick’s condo, David moved around the space like he was professionally evaluating it. “This turned out well.”

“I know. A brilliant guy helped me with it. He has a show on HGTV, actually. You should check it out sometime.”

“Mm. I hear the show might be filming in Canada this fall.”

“Yeah? That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time.” Patrick walked up to David and wrapped his arms around David’s waist. David’s arms returned to his shoulders, where they belonged. “I can’t believe you’re here. I’ve imagined you in my apartment so many times.”

“I can’t believe I’m here either. I’ve got to say, this has gone easier than I expected.”

“What do you mean?” Patrick kissed David’s neck. 

“This. The kissing. How comfortable this feels. I think I worried that we’d both be too shy at first. Or try to keep up the just friends thing a little while longer.” David toyed with the hairs at the nape of Patrick’s neck. “I know I’d have worked up the nerve eventually, but, you know, anxiety is a dick.”

“I know. I think maybe we’re both tired of our own bullshit.”

David tilted his head back and laughed. “I think you’re right.” 

Patrick’s stomach growled. He usually downed a protein bar after a game, but had been too distracted for good reason. 

“I’ll get dinner started.”

“Want any help?” Patrick reluctantly let go of David. 

“You can get out the things I need, then I’ll take it from there.” David ran through his list, and Patrick happily pulled things from his cupboards and fridge.

David moved around his kitchen with ease, like he’d already made himself at home. Patrick couldn’t wait for the countless future meals they’d share in his home if all went in the direction it seemed to be headed. 

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

David couldn’t believe how well things were already going. It had only been a little over an hour since he’d surprised Patrick, but they’d immediately fallen into a comfortable groove. He was cooking an easy chicken pasta dish that he learned in one of his cooking classes. Finally, finally, he was getting to repay Patrick’s gift to him.

“And that’s why they all piled on me at the end of the game.”

David shook his head. He’d tried to follow Patrick’s explanation, but his mind kept wandering as he watched Patrick’s lips move. And then Patrick kept saying the word “fly” which made David think of the fly in Patrick’s tight jeans, which certainly didn’t help his concentration on boring baseball details. He loved that Patrick did a good thing that helped them win the game, but beyond that, he didn’t follow any of it. 

“You didn’t hear anything I said, did you?” Patrick snuggled up against David’s back as David stirred the sauce. He wrapped his arms around David’s waist and hooked his chin over David’s shoulder. Perfect domesticity. 

“I tried. I really did. But your lips and your fly and it’s a complicated game and I’m cooking and—” Patrick spun him around and muffled him with a kiss.

“It’s okay. What were you saying about my fly, though?”

David nipped at Patrick’s bottom lip. “Dinner first. I’ve been wanting to cook for you for a long time, and your dick is not getting between this.” He gestured between them and the stove.

Patrick’s eyes twinkled. “I can’t decide if I should be offended or honored.”

“I’m going to make a bold assumption that you’re going to need your energy tonight. So let me feed you.” David bit back a grin at the way Patrick’s body shivered. David turned back to the stove and tried to focus on not fucking up the sauce. 

While David finished it up, Patrick set the table. When David turned around, he smiled at the lit candles and glass of red waiting for David and iced tea for Patrick. He knew Patrick didn’t drink the night before games. David carried the pot of pasta over to the table and sat it on the trivet.

Patrick kissed David softly. “Thank you for cooking us dinner.”

“Mm. You’re welcome, but maybe wait to thank me until after you’ve tried it. You are very distracting, and I haven’t cooked under these conditions yet.”

“It smells amazing.” Patrick sat down and David followed. 

Conversation was easy. They picked up on threads they’d been texting and FaceTiming about. There were more serious topics he knew they needed to talk about, wanted to talk about, but he wasn’t ready to pop their breezy bubble yet. He also really really really wanted to get Patrick naked. Part of him thought they should talk before anything physical, but the way Patrick kept shooting him heated looks over the candles told him that maybe the conversation would be more productive if they let off a little steam first. Steam accumulating from six months in a pressure cooker.

Almost as soon as David took his last bite, Patrick stood from his chair and walked over to David. David looked up at him and his breath caught in his throat at the heat in Patrick’s eyes. Patrick pulled his chair out, then straddled David’s lap.

“Dinner was perfect. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Thanks for the cooking class.”

“I didn’t expect to benefit from it when I bought it. You’ve spoiled me.” Patrick leaned down and kissed David deeply. “You taste as good as your dinner.”

David slid his hands up Patrick’s thighs and cupped his ass. “You know, I think there’s a room you haven’t shown me yet. A gracious host would give a guest the full tour.”

Patrick draped his arms around David’s neck. “I certainly don’t want to be rude. Let me give you the full tour.” He started to climb off David’s lap, but David held him tight.

“Hold on.” David’s trainer had him focused more on squats lately, and he was about to test whether they’d improved his strength. He lifted with his legs and held Patrick steady as he stood up. “Down the hallway?”

Patrick’s eyes widened. “Oh, fuck yeah.” He leaned in and kissed David, effectively blocking his line of sight, and David bumped into the table. 

“Save the kisses for the bedroom. Nate would kill me if you show up injured tomorrow.” He grinned. “Candles?”

Patrick reached over and put the lids back on the jars. Then he kissed David’s neck. “You can still see if I do this, right?”

David laughed. “I can.” He walked through the living room and focused on not tripping or dropping Patrick as he licked and sucked across David’s neck.

“You look so sexy in my jersey,” Patrick said in a sultry voice.

He knew Patrick would go hot for that. 

“I thought I was going to get an erection in the locker room when I saw you in it. The guys would’ve never let me live that down.”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good thing. But this is an erection friendly zone, so, please feel free to get all the erections.” He walked through a door at the end of the hallway. Since Patrick didn’t correct him, he assumed he was going in the right direction.

When they crossed the threshold, Patrick told his fancy home system to turn on low lights. David walked to the bed and lowered Patrick onto it. 

David was in Patrick’s bedroom. He’d seen bits of it through their video chats when Patrick would take David in there if he needed to grab something. Or when Patrick got ready for bed, which happened a lot since Patrick was the later time zone of the two. Or once in a while when they talked while Patrick was in bed. But to take in the space in its entirety was something else. The king-sized bed was the focal point of the room. 

He looked around to take in the details, but stopped when he spotted a familiar bottle on Patrick’s dresser. “Is that the mask I put in your suitcase?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“But you said you’ve been using it? Your skin looks great, by the way.”

Patrick looked away for a moment, then seemed to decide something. “I bought a new bottle because I didn’t want to use up that one.”

That- that was so sweet. David looked over at the bottle and his note tucked underneath it. Then he looked back at Patrick for a beat. 

He couldn’t wait any longer. He needed to show that man exactly how much he’d missed him. David pushed Patrick’s shoulders until he fell back on the bed, then he straddled his waist. David didn’t care that his knees were at the edge of the bed and he had no room to work. He needed Patrick’s lips now. He didn’t let Patrick get any words out before he was kissing him with everything he’d been feeling for more than six months. Kissing him like he’d never get to do it again. Kissing him like he’d get to do it every day for forever.

They kissed in a clash of teeth and tongues and emotions. He ground his hips a little against Patrick’s, and they both moaned. 

“Off. Clothes off,” Patrick said in a husky voice. 

After one more deep kiss that left them both panting, David stood between Patrick’s legs. Patrick sat up and unbuttoned his own shirt. David slid it off his arms and tossed it on the corner of the bed. He grabbed Patrick’s wrists and lifted his arms, then untucked Patrick’s undershirt. He splayed his fingers on Patrick’s stomach, earning him a gasp, then he slowly slid his hands up Patrick’s chest and arms, taking the shirt with him. He was so eager to get Patrick naked, but he wanted to savor the moment of finally getting to have this again. 

With slightly shaking hands, Patrick unbuttoned the jersey, and David bit his bottom lip. He spotted the moment Patrick realized what he had on underneath.

“My shirt.”

“Mmhm. I, um, wear it a lot, actually. Obviously not outside because I have a reputation to uphold, and branded baseball gear should only be worn to baseball events and in dire circumstances.”

“Like picking up your food delivery?”

“Shut up. Don’t believe everything you read from TMZ.” The little shit.

Patrick traced the bird on David’s chest. “Jesus, David. Are you trying to kill me?”

“Definitely not before I get my mouth on your cock.”

Patrick dropped his head against David’s chest. “I forgot what a mouth you have on you.”

“On me? I seem to recall you’re very talented with your mouth.” He clenched at the memory of Patrick rimming him mindless.

“My mouth has missed you a lot.” Patrick stood and gently pulled the jersey off. “So have my hands.” As he reached for the button on David’s jeans, his fingers dipped between his stomach and the waistband of his underwear. “My cock has missed you most of all.” Patrick’s fingers lingered at the hem of the T-shirt. He got a determined look on his face as he looked down at his hands, which had David melting onto the lush carpet. Patrick looked up. “I want to suck your cock while you wear my shirt.”

David’s knees went weak. 

“Will you let me do that, David?”

David couldn’t form words, so he nodded as enthusiastically as his spinal column would allow. 

“Good, that’s good. Thank you.” As though he’d unlocked some bottomless pool of patience, intending to drive David to the brink of sanity, Patrick slowly took off David’s jeans, underwear, and socks before tugging off his own. 

Once they were naked, well, mostly naked, Patrick directed David to get comfortable on the pillows. He watched Patrick walk around the bed to the nightstand and pull out a bottle of lube. 

“I might have to invest in one of those lube warming dispensers.”

David swallowed thickly. “That could be a good investment.”

Patrick tossed the lube on the pillow. “I’m pretty sure we’d get a lot of use out of it.”

David had almost forgotten how much he loved the lines of Patrick’s sturdy body. No, that wasn’t true. He’d tried to and failed. 

“I’m going to go grab something. I’ll be right back.” Patrick bent down and kissed David gently, too gently considering how badly he wanted Patrick to suck his dick, but the gentleness of it turned him on more. 

He watched the way Patrick’s legs flexed as he walked into the en suite bathroom. David took the momentary break from Patrick’s attention to get a better look around the bedroom. It took him all of three seconds to realize the extent of his presence in Patrick’s space. David had suggested a few options for linens and art and a few furniture pieces. He’d tried to suggest things he thought Patrick would like, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t also pick things he liked because he wanted to leave his mark in Patrick’s life. 

As he sprawled on bedding he picked, looking at art he’d suggested, he realized how much Patrick had wanted David’s presence in his life too. From the very beginning.

“What are you smiling at?” Patrick said as he walked back in, carrying a towel.

“Just thinking about how good your bedroom looks.”

“It does. You picked it.” Patrick gave him a sheepish grin, then laid the towel out on the other side of the giant bed.

If he were about to have sex with anyone else, this intermission in action would kill the mood, but not with Patrick. Because they had time. They weren’t trying to fit in a quickie in an airport bathroom while passing each other or frantically making the most of a quick weekend together. They had time. Patrick was fastidious and careful, and he treated David with that care. 

How was that so fucking hot?

David noticed Patrick had something else in his hand. “Are those the condoms from the resort?”

Patrick blushed. “They are. I guess they were sort of like a souvenir?” He smirked. “A part of me hoped we’d get to use the rest of them someday.”

And they were back in it. “You fucking bet we will,” David growled. “I want you in me tonight.”

The tip of Patrick’s tongue darted out and wet his lips. “What if I want you in me tonight?”

God, David loved how Patrick pushed back. “I’m the one who traveled all the way here. He who travels the furthest gets to pick, and I pick bottom.” David spread his legs wide and tucked his hands under his head. Maybe he flexed his biceps a little. He’d had a good run of arm days lately. “You can bottom tomorrow.”

“Are you staying tomorrow?”

“I’ll consider it if you get your dick in me.”

Patrick grinned and crawled on the bed toward David like a panther. “I’ll consider putting my dick in you if I get to suck yours first.”

David wiggled his hips. “Literally waiting for your mouth right now, but you keep talking and not sucking.”

Patrick arched an eyebrow in a surprisingly David-esque way and straddled his legs. He held David’s eye contact as he bent down and rucked the T-shirt up a little. Patrick angled his head and stretched his mouth around part of the base of David’s cock. In a slow, steady movement, he dragged his mouth up David’s dick, his wet tongue moved up the base. Once he reached the top, he tongued the precome from the slit, then swallowed David down in one smooth go. 

David’s body instinctively curled up toward Patrick. The wet, warm suction of his mouth transported him back to their paradise. He could damn near smell the saltwater. “Fuck, oh fuck. So good.”

Patrick looked like he was lost in worshipping David’s dick. His eyes closed, lashes fanned over the annoyingly perfect skin under his eyes, hungry little moans escaping with each bob of his head. David was transfixed by the pleasure Patrick got from giving David pleasure. 

He’d never felt so powerful, so sexy, so wanted. 

Patrick fumbled for the lube without moving his mouth away from David’s dick and balls, and coated his fingers. He worked David open with a familiarity and precision that he had no right to have after only a few days together, but it was like Patrick had been sent to Earth with full expertise in how to pleasure David. 

David tried to hold out as long as he could, but he needed Patrick inside of him. He needed to feel that connection to him again after so many months of want. David had never let himself want like that before. With past partners, the extent of it had been the desire to get off, but everything was different with Patrick. David had spent nearly six months of telling himself to stop wanting him, but he didn’t have to any longer. They still had a lot to talk about, but they were there, together, and he trusted that it would all be okay.

“Need you,” David whined.

Patrick looked up at David, almost startled, like he’d lost himself to it so much he’d forgotten where he was. He pulled off with a soft pop. “Yeah. Yeah, okay.” He dipped down and licked up David’s shaft. “Missed your taste.”

David dropped his head against the pillow and groaned. “Too sexy. Stop it.”

Patrick’s chuckle sounded more gravelly than usual. He shifted onto his knees and scooted close to David. “I want to see you. That ok?”

David bit his bottom lip and nodded. “I want to see you, too.” He couldn’t help but return Patrick’s smile, contagious, like a yawn. “But the shirt needs to come off first. I don’t want to get come and lube on it.”

Patrick looked at him, eyes the color of warm honey, radiating fondness like a lighthouse guiding ships in a storm. 

“What? I’ve grown attached to it,” David said defensively. 

“Okay,” Patrick smiled, like he knew David’s secret.

“Stop looking at me like that.”

“Like what?” His smile grew.

“Like you’re so fucking happy I’m wearing your damn shirt.”

“Sorry, David, but I am fucking happy you’re wearing my damn shirt.” Patrick carefully pulled it off of David like it was made of the finest silk instead of shitty cotton. 

While David scooted over to lay on the towel, Patrick made a show of carefully folding the shirt, like the sincere goddamn troll he was. David retaliated by pouring some lube on his hand and firmly stroking Patrick until he hurried up with the shirt. Patrick rolled on one of the condoms they didn’t end up using on their trip, and David lubed him up over the condom.

Patrick bent down and kissed David deeply, as if he couldn’t stand to part from his lips for too long. He sat back up and grabbed David’s legs so they were straight up in the air. Clutching his ankles in one hand, Patrick lined himself up, and David felt the press of the tip against his hole. 

“C’mon.” David tried to push against Patrick, but he couldn’t get the leverage.

Patrick stared, open-mouthed, as he dragged the tip of his cock over David’s hole and perineum. The tease was so delicious, and David tried to be embarrassed by the needy sounds coming out of his mouth, but he didn’t care because he was with Patrick. Patrick would take care of him.

He pushed the head of his cock in again, then shifted David’s legs so he had an ankle in each hand. He parted David’s ankles enough to fit his head between. “Want to know a secret?” He pushed his cockhead in a little further, but nowhere near where David needed it.

David clutched at the soft bedding with a respectable thread count and groaned. “No! Just fuck me,” he growled.

Patrick pushed in a little further. “I think you’ll like this secret.”

Before David could snark back, Patrick pulled David’s legs wide enough apart to fit his broad shoulders. “I left the shirt behind on purpose,” he said as he pushed all the way in until his balls lightly slapped David’s ass.

“Oh my god!” David wasn’t sure if he’d yelled that for the feeling of Patrick’s thick cock coming home or for Patrick’s admission. He laughed. A kind of frenzied, overwhelmed sound born of his body needing an outlet for the energy zipping at his nerve endings. 

Patrick collapsed down on David. He hooked David’s knee at the crook of his elbow while his other hand cupped the back of David’s head, then kissed him deeply as David adjusted to the intrusion. David wrapped his free leg around Patrick’s waist to pull him even closer.

David was overwhelmed by sensations. Patrick’s cock stretching him from the inside, Patrick’s fingers gripping his hair, David sliding his hands to cup Patrick’s neck because he needed something to hold on to, the force of Patrick’s mouth as he kissed David breathless. The way his heart panged in his chest at the thought of Patrick leaving the shirt on purpose. Way back then. Even then.

If Patrick didn’t get moving, David was going to cry. And reunion fucking was not the time for crying. This sex was for releasing everything that had been building between them for so long. “I’m good. I’m good.”

Patrick stared into David’s eyes as he did a slow roll of his hips. “Fuck. So tight.”

Patrick pulled out as far as he could while seemingly unwilling to release his clutch on David, then pushed back in. Over and over with increasing speed and force.

“Yeah, harder, harder.” David remembered how much Patrick liked having his nipples played with, so he pinched and tugged and flicked them, spurred on by the steady stream of praise and moans and grunts coming out of Patrick’s mouth. 

Sex with Patrick was a full body and mind immersive experience. Who the hell was he kidding? His heart too. Their sex in the Maldives had been incredible. But this? This? Transcendent. 

“Not gonna last long,” Patrick said against David’s mouth, their tongues brushing as they tried to find the breath to kiss. “Sorry.” 

“Me neither.” David angled his hips toward Patrick. “Especially if you keep doing that.” His eyes rolled back in his head as Patrick nailed his prostate again. 

“Need you closer.” Patrick tucked his arms under David’s and pulled as he sat back on his haunches. 

David wrapped his arms around Patrick’s neck and his legs around Patrick’s waist as Patrick firmly gripped David’s ass and held him close. He didn’t have a lot of room to move, but he didn’t care. His sweaty chest was pressed against Patrick’s, their tongues tangled in kisses. Patrick was solid and steady and real under him as he sat on his lap. 

“Come for me,” Patrick said against David’s jaw as one of his fingers teased at David’s hole. 

David scrambled to shove a hand between their bodies and jerk himself as much as he could without and real space between them. He didn’t need much space. He needed Patrick.

Patrick worked the tip of his finger in and moaned into David’s neck. “Tight. So fucking tight. Gonna come.”

The pressure of Patrick’s fingertip next to his dick sent him hurtling toward climax. David pushed back against Patrick’s hand as he tightened the grip on his cock and saw stars as he came on their chests. 

“Yeah, oh fuck yeah.” Patrick collapsed on his back, David now on top, and his head nearly dangled off the foot of the bed. He planted his feet and fucked up into David hard and fast. David had made it very clear in November that he enjoyed getting fucked after coming, and of course he’d remembered, so he reveled in the oversensitivity as Patrick used his body to chase his orgasm. Patrick’s hands never stopped moving over David’s skin, like he couldn’t believe he was there, they were there, finally together. 

Patrick came with David’s name on his tongue and a smile on his lips a couple of minutes later. David pulled off on wobbly legs and crashed on his back next to Patrick.

“Wow,” David said. He turned his head to look at Patrick.

“Yeah. Wow.”

“Mm. Eloquent.”

“You said it first.” Patrick laughed and leaned in for a kiss. 

Because they were the kind of people who kissed tenderly after sex. Because David didn’t need to hide how he felt for Patrick. He didn’t need to act aloof and leave before he overstayed his welcome. Instead, a thrum of excitement pulsed through his veins because he knew they’d be talking. And the way Patrick looked at him in that moment—with hope, not regret—he knew down to his bones it was going to be a good conversation.

They both grumbled about needing to clean up. Eventually, Patrick caved and got up after David reminded him he was a guest. Patrick bit his hip in retaliation. Patrick rummaged through his nightstand, pulled out some wipes, and cleaned them both up. Then Patrick climbed under the blanket and got on his back. Right. Because they’d fucked on top of the bedding like animals. Patrick held out his arm, and David shamelessly scrambled to tuck himself under it. He swung a leg over Patrick’s and sighed. 

“I can’t believe you’re here,” Patrick eventually said, breaking the comfortable silence.

“I can’t believe your bed is this comfortable. If I knew that, I’d have visited months ago.”

Patrick kissed his temple. 

David went boneless as he settled in Patrick’s warmth. “I can’t believe I’m here either.” 

David knew he should start The Conversation with Patrick. Adrenaline had carried him through the past few hours, but it was time to have the talk they should’ve probably had weeks ago. 

He looked up at Patrick, who was looking down at David with a sappy smile on his face. How did he ever question how Patrick felt about him? The man had zero poker face.

They didn’t have much time together. This trip, anyway. He cleared his throat. “We should probably talk.”

Patrick kissed the top of his head and cuddled him closer. “We should.”

“I don’t want to affect your sleep with you having a game tomorrow, though. Do you want to talk now or in the morning? Or after your game tomorrow?” He looked up at Patrick again. “I’m not going anywhere. Until my flight on Thursday, but I’ll be back.”

The corners of Patrick’s mouth turned down into the sweetest smile. 

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

Patrick couldn’t believe the man in his arms. He knew they both had some work to do on the communication front, but David had risked so much to come to Toronto, to put himself out there, to tell Patrick all of that in front of half the team. It was Patrick’s turn to be brave. 

“Let’s talk now, please. If we don’t, I probably won’t sleep tonight because I’ll be thinking about what I want to say or worrying about it. I think I’ll sleep better if we talk.”

David nodded his head, and they both fell silent.

It was his turn to put himself out there. “Remember when I was in Florida for spring training and pre-season?”

“Yeah. Still don’t appreciate you trolling me with all of those alligator photos,” David grumbled. 

Patrick had a lot of fun trolling David with those photos. He hoped he’d get to do it again next year. “I was thinking a lot about wanting to see you and wondering if you were interested in me like I was interested in you.” He’d thought about that more than the game he was supposed to be focused on.

“That was almost three months ago.” David’s eyebrows shot up.

“David, I’ve been wondering that since the Maldives.” He kissed the deep wrinkle on David’s forehead. “I was talking myself into telling you how I felt, but then I did the stupid thing of counting how many days I have without a game.”

That had been a rough night. Thank god he’d chosen to open up to Nate. It helped to have someone to talk to.

“What do you mean?”

“I wanted to figure out whether it would be possible to visit you once in a while during the season. If we’d have any time together.”

“Oh.” David snuggled closer. 

“I report back in February, and our pre-season games start in March. If you count starting in March and go through September, I have twenty-nine days without games, and most of those days involve some travel. How could I ask you to take a chance on me when I couldn’t put in any effort to visit you nearly nine months out of the year?”

David intertwined his fingers with Patrick’s and rested their hands on Patrick’s stomach. 

“I have fewer than four months a year where my schedule is my own. That didn’t seem fair to you, so I decided our friendship was enough. I’d be happy having you in that way. At least for now.”

“But it’s worth it.” David angled his head to look up at Patrick, and his eyebrows were pushed together in concentration. “If I only get to see you for four months, it would still be worth it. I’d rather have you a third of the year than not at all.”

“Is that what you want? Me?” Patrick’s voice sounded small. 

David sat up and scooted back against the headboard. Patrick did the same. After a moment, David picked up Patrick’s hands and held them in his own as he looked in Patrick’s eyes. Patrick could get lost in David’s eyes. Dark like the night sky six months ago when they held each other in the pool. 

“Yes.” His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “I realized I’ve been prioritizing the wrong things. Why stay in a city I no longer enjoy with a job that’s too stressful? Twenty-five-hundred miles away from the person who makes me happy. What kind of life is that? Spending every day wishing I were somewhere else. With someone else.”

Patrick untangled one of his hands so he could run his fingers through David’s hair. He leaned into the touch and his eyes fell closed for a moment. David seemed like he had more he wanted to say, so Patrick forced himself to wait. 

“I really like you, and I, um, feel like you like me too.” David paused for a moment, and in the silence all Patrick could hear was his pulse pounding. “I feel a strong enough connection to you to want to give us a chance. To live near you for a while and see where it goes. Test out how we do in-person for more than a few days.”

David wanted to move to Toronto for him. No, not for him, but for them. For their shot at real happiness. Their shot at a full and happy life. Patrick knew they were both independent and could be happy enough on their own, but why do that when they could be happier together?

“I think I owe it to myself.” David swallowed. “I think we owe it to ourselves to explore this.” David looked down at their hands and took a deep breath before looking at Patrick expectantly.

Right. He was done then. Patrick’s turn. 

Patrick kissed David gently. “I feel the same way. We do have a connection, and I like you so damn much.”

David lit up and rested his head on Patrick’s shoulder. 

“I want to give us a try too.” He inhaled and gathered his courage. “And if we’re doing this, I have a request.”

David looked serious. “Of course.”

“I don’t want us to hold back. I don’t want us to treat it as a temporary thing like we did in November. Like we’re having fun while you’re here working for a bit. The last thing I want is the threat of that keeping us from giving this a real shot.”

David tucked a smile in the corner of his mouth.

“Seriously. I want us to take distance out of the equation. I’m all in, David, and I genuinely want to give us a chance.” 

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, David cupped his cheeks and pulled him in for the softest, most loving kiss. “That sounds great to me.”

They sat there cuddling and talking about their schedules. Patrick talked about what the next five or so months looked like for him, while David speculated about what his schedule might look like if the Toronto move happened. And if it didn’t, David said he’d move to Toronto next year when his contract was up. 

Having David in Toronto would change everything. Instead of having to find consecutive days off, they could catch meals together or at least fall asleep together regularly. Being able to come home late after a game and sleep with David at his side sounded perfect. 

David looked like he was working himself up to say something else. “Not that you asked or that I even expected you to.” David gave his head a little shake. “I mean, I don’t expect you to. You shouldn’t. I just—”

“What?”

David huffed out a breath. “I’m going to get my own place. I don’t know where, but I just wanted to take living together off the table from the start. If we live together, I think I’ll psych myself out that it’s too many changes, too fast. I need my own place.”

Patrick hadn’t even thought about asking David to move in with him. He hadn’t really moved beyond a loop of I get to be in the same city as David. Not that he wouldn’t want to live with David, but he agreed. They needed their own spaces for a while as they found their groove.

“Of course, David. I agree with you. Having our own places is a good idea.” Patrick needed David to know how in this he was, though. “But, for the record, I’m open to living together when we’re ready. I’d love to share the cooking duties someday.”

David smirked. “I’d better start practicing some more recipes then.”

“You know, I was worried that us missing each other in L.A. was some sort of bad sign,” Patrick admitted.

“It was only a sign that we needed to try harder.”

Patrick smiled. “And here we are.”

“Mmhmm.”

Patrick answered David’s litany of questions about the best parts of town to live. Patrick casually mentioned there were some rentals in his building, and David kissed his cheek and said he’d look into it. 

As David talked about making an appointment with a realtor tomorrow, an uneasiness settled in Patrick’s gut. David was moving his job, moving his home, moving his life to Toronto. Uprooting everything for Patrick, for them to have a shot at being together. 

“What’s wrong?” David ran his fingers through Patrick’s hair. “You look worried. Is talking about realtors too much?”

Patrick covered David’s hand with his own. “No. Are you kidding? I’m so happy.” He kissed David’s palm. 

“If that’s your happy face, I’m nervous to see your upset face.”

Patrick laughed. “I was thinking about how you’re giving up so much to come here, but I’m not giving up anything. It’s not fair to you. You’re sacrificing too much.”

David looked at him like he’d grown glittery horns. “I’m not sacrificing anything.”

“How are you not? You’d have no reason to come to Toronto if I wasn’t here.”

“But you are here, and I have more flexibility with my job right now.”

Patrick looked away. The fear deep in his heart worked its way to his tongue. “But what if I’m not enough? Your career is important and your work is mostly in L.A.”

David gasped. “Oh, honey.” He shifted to face Patrick, and the sheet covered his lap. 

Patrick’s heart swelled at the endearment. It was their first night together, or whatever they were, and they were already communicating with each other. He held so much hope for them. 

“I haven’t been happy with my job in a long time, and I’m tired of being in L.A. It doesn’t fit who I am any longer.” He placed his hand on Patrick’s thigh. “Or what I want.”

Patrick gave David a reassuring peck on the lips. 

“I miss working with private clients, and I want to reopen my business.”

“Yeah? That’s great.” Patrick was so proud of him.

“But I don’t want to build that business in L.A. Getting the show moved here for the last season gives me some time to, I don’t know, think? I guess? I can test the waters in Toronto to see if there’s a market here for what I do. I’d rather explore that while I have a buffer. My current job and a window before I need to decide about my contract renewal with HGTV.”

“What about the weather?”

“Mm. Ask me again in the winter.”

Patrick laughed. 

“Basically, I appreciate that you’re worried, but this decision is more than trying things with us. It’s about me finally going after the life I want. Okay?”

“Okay. Thanks for explaining that.” 

“Thank you for being worried about me. I also know that if our roles were reversed and for some godforsaken reason I was the jock in this relationship with a fixed location job, you’d probably find a way to come to me.”

Patrick blushed. On his darkest days over the past few months, he’d thought about talking to his agent about a transfer.

 David kissed him. “I really missed kissing you.”

“Me too. So much.” Patrick moved them so they were horizontal, and he pulled David against him. He should probably try to sleep soon so he was rested for tomorrow’s game, but he didn’t want the night to end. He felt rushed. In a hurry to say all the things he’d been wanting to for months so they could start tomorrow fresh in a world where the things had been said and decisions had been made. 

“You know, I’ve been planning to do some sort of big romantic gesture in July. Assuming us meeting up worked out.” He rubbed his fingertips in circles over the constellation of freckles on David’s shoulder. 

David smiled against Patrick’s chest. “Yeah? Big like coming to Toronto and confessing feelings in front of your boyfriend’s team?”

“Did you confess your feelings? I recall you telling me about your work, but I don’t recall a feelings confession,” Patrick teased.

David pinched his hip. “Feelings were implied.”

“Sure.” Patrick replayed David’s words. Then his hand stilled. “Wait, boyfriend?”

“Huh?”

“You called me your boyfriend.”

When David tried to bury his face further in Patrick’s chest, he didn’t let him. “You misheard.”

“Pretty sure my boyfriend has perfect enunciation.” He grinned and tipped David’s chin up. “Hey, I’d love to be your boyfriend.”

“Yeah?”

“Dating feels too casual for what this is. Too casual for how I feel about you.” Patrick shrugged. “I would be honored to be your boyfriend, David.” David Rose was his boyfriend. His boyfriend. The gorgeous man who had driven him to distraction while paddle boarding half a world away was now his boyfriend. 

He’d never been so happy. 

They held each other while teasing. Making boyfriend demands and outlandish rules for their relationship late into the night.

“Does this mean my boyfriend is going to want tickets to my games?”

“Mm, don’t think today is a habit. I’ll come to some games.”

“As long as there’s a nacho bar?”

David grinned. “Exactly. Don’t worry, I won’t make you come to my design consultation meetings.” He waggled his eyebrows. “I can give you massages after your games though.”

“I like the sound of that.” Patrick pushed his leg between David’s. 

“Oh! That reminds me. We should compare schedules so I know when you’ll be in town. I can try to schedule my meetings for when you’ll be at away games.”

Logistics. Patrick loved logistics. 

“Since we’re boyfriends now,” David shimmied his shoulders, “we should have a shared Google Calendar so we can track the times we can see each other. I used to prefer a paper calendar so I could hand letter, but Stevie converted me to Google when she became my manager. It’s so convenient.”

A thought surfaced as David waxed poetic about the merits of a Google Calendar. A thought that was too soon to have, let alone say, but it was insistent, like a mosquito looking for dinner. I love you. I love you. I love you. “I love you.”

Fuck.

David froze. “Um. What?”

“I love you?”

“Are you asking me?” David asked in a shrill voice.

“No? No.”

David blinked at him.

“I love you,” Patrick said with more conviction. 

“How though? How can you love me already? We literally just became boyfriends tonight.”

“Technically, sure,” Patrick said. He waited for regret to hit over saying the words, but it never came. He’d loved David for a while now. The words had hovered in his thoughts for a long time, but it had seemed ridiculous to allow himself to form the words when they weren’t even together. Now, though, he felt lighter after having said it. 

He could’ve waited to say it until David moved to Toronto or a random Tuesday in August or when they celebrated David’s new season premiere or a quiet day when David cooked him dinner this fall. What made those days better than right now?

“That’s impossible. It’s too soon?” David bit his bottom lip.

“Are you asking me?” Patrick smirked at him.

“This is a lot in one night. Right? Are we rushing?” 

Patrick grabbed David’s hand. “It hasn’t just been tonight, though. It’s been six months. I’m pretty sure I started falling in love with you in November, and steadily since then. We may not have been officially a couple, but you’ve been a huge part of my life. The clock on my feelings didn’t start today because we finally told each other how we feel and officially became a couple.”

David looked like he was thinking it over. It was a better reaction than he’d expected as soon as the words had rushed out. David didn’t laugh him off or run, so he’d take that as a good sign. “How do you know it’s love?”

“I just do.”

David rolled his eyes. “So helpful.”

Patrick kissed him because he couldn’t not kiss him again. “You make me so happy, David. You’ve supported me, and you’re a great friend. I think about you all the time. I want the best for you, and I worry about you and root for you and want to support your dreams. I want to be a part of those dreams, and I want you in my life.” He smiled as David’s eyes watered. “I guess that feels like love to me.”

That wasn’t quite all of it, though. Patrick wanted to clarify it, add context, because saying that was big. And it might be too fast, but it wasn’t the kind of love he’d have after years of being with someone. He didn’t want to scare David. Probably too late. “It’s early love, but it’s love. I know it. Love has to start somewhere, you know? It doesn’t go from nothing to something big like the CN Tower. It grows over time, but that doesn’t mean new love isn’t love. I’ve been falling in love with you since November. In a million small ways, and I know this is just the tip of how much love I’ll have for you as we’re together. It will grow.”

He frowned and continued. Trying to get it right, but the right words to explain it were out of reach. “Love isn’t an on or off switch. It’s like a pool that slowly fills. I know I want to go swimming with you, and the hose has steadily been pouring water into our pool for months.”

“That’s a weird analogy,” David said, as his lips twitched.

“Trying my best here.”

“So, you’re saying your love for me right now is like a short caramel macchiato, but you envision it growing to a venti over time?”

Patrick’s shoulders relaxed. “The love I feel for you is like a short with an extra espresso shot or two, that should probably actually be a grande if I really stopped to think about it,” he said.

But then Patrick realized it was probably selfish of him to dump that on David. Maybe it was too much, too fast. “I’m sorry.” He looked down. “I didn’t plan to say it. Honestly, I hadn’t really let myself think it? It just sort of came out. I’m not saying I don’t mean it—because I do—but the words just came out. I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable. I don’t have to say it again.” A few hours into their relationship, and he was already blowing it. 

David’s chin wobbled a little. “Oh my god, shut up.” David covered Patrick’s mouth with his hand. “I did not consent to that onslaught of really gorgeous words and ridiculous analogy. You’re making me feel a lot right now, and I’m not prepared.” David cleared his throat. “I’m not uncomfortable. I, um, understand what you’re saying.” He smiled a little. “I really like short caramel macchiatos with an extra shot of espresso.”

Patrick smiled against his hand and kissed his palm. 

David moved his hand and kissed Patrick breathless. Then his kisses moved down Patrick’s body until David reached his cock. David may not be ready to say the words, or even know if he feels the same, but he showed Patrick, thoroughly, how much he cared. 

After Patrick returned the favor, they got ready for bed. David applied Patrick’s skincare so tenderly that Patrick kept having to swallow around a lump in his throat. Then they got under the covers and cuddled. 

“Would it be weird to go watch you play again tomorrow?” David asked.

“I’d love it if you came to the game. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear the jersey.”

“Thank god. I refuse to wear the same thing two days in a row. Me wearing that was a gesture only, so don’t get used to it.”

Patrick got an idea. “Would you want to watch the game with Mike and Becca? I can see if they’d want to go.”

David lifted up to rest on his elbow. “Oh my god, yes!! I’ll DM Becca.” He reached over to the nightstand where he’d plugged in his phone a few minutes before. 

Patrick watched David tap away on his phone and didn’t say a word. David’s mouth fell open, and he looked at Patrick. “Shit.”

“Busted.”

David tugged his lips between his teeth, and his dimples deepened. “So, um, confession. Becca and I DM sometimes?”

“She told me.”

David swatted at Patrick’s shoulder. Laughing, Patrick recalled the #TeamDavid story and had David curled into him, laughing. 

“Does this mean I finally get to see you in your uniform?”

“If you come to the game early, absolutely. Or you can sneak into the locker rooms with the reporters after the game when I’m all sweaty.”

“I like sweaty.” David kissed Patrick, long, slow, lingering.

Patrick called for his home system to turn off the lights as they settled onto the pillows facing each other, entangling their fingers between them. Patrick knew he had a goofy smile on his face, but he couldn’t be bothered to shut it down because David had one of his own. 

“I’ve imagined this a thousand different ways,” Patrick said softly.

“Imagined what?”

“Us.”

“Yeah?” David’s smile widened. “Me too.”

“Most of what I imagined involved a lot of flying, though. This is much better,” Patrick said. His eyes fell closed, and he relaxed in David’s embrace. 

“I mean, the airline miles would’ve been nice. Could’ve used them to go back to the Maldives or something.”

Patrick brushed David’s hair back from his forehead. “You’d want to go back there with me?” 

When he and Ken had first begun talking about the trip last year, he never felt fully excited about it. He worried that they wouldn’t want to do the same activities, and they’d get annoyed with each other. Plus, there had been a constant undercurrent of but will we still be together? That probably should’ve been a sign that something was wrong between them, but Patrick was a long-term relationship kind of guy and assumed it would be fine.

Now? The first day of their official relationship? He’d happily book flights for two years out. Sure, he didn’t know if they’d actually make it work, but he was all in on trying. No hesitation. Patrick was prepared to put in the effort.

They whispered to each other about Toronto plans and restaurants to try and movies they could rewatch while cuddling. Eventually, they both went quiet and closed their eyes. Patrick thought David was asleep, he was well on the way himself, but then he felt David’s lips softly graze his forehead.

“I love you a short caramel macchiato with an extra shot, too.”

Patrick didn’t say anything, but he couldn’t stop his smile and didn’t even try to stop himself from pulling David a little closer. He felt David’s lips shift into a smile against his shoulder, and he quickly drifted into the best sleep he’d had in six months. 

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

“But if she does get bossy or something, you can shut her down.” David wrung his hands as they rode the elevator down to the ground floor of Patrick’s building. Introducing Patrick and Stevie this early in their relationship was a mistake. It had to be. She was going to look at David’s sappy expression and immediately know everything. “She can take it.”

Patrick grabbed one of David’s ever-moving hands and clutched it to his chest. “It’s going to be fine, don’t worry. This isn’t the first time I’ve talked to her, you know.”

“Mmkay but her stealing my phone and texting you or sticking her face in our video chats is different from unfiltered Stevie over a meal.”

“What are you worried about? Don’t think she’ll like me?” Patrick’s voice was even, but David sensed his concern.

“Oh god no. She’ll love you. She’s probably going to like you more than me.”

He chuckled. “I highly doubt that.”

“It’s not Stevie, she’s great, an asshole, but she’s great. It’s me and Stevie together. We have a special… dynamic… and it can get a little loud and pissy. Like, affectionately pissy, though.”

“I like it when you’re pissy and loud.” 

The elevator opened at the lobby. “Seriously, what’s really got you worried? It seems like it’s more than that.” Patrick squeezed his hand and led them out of the building. 

He wasn’t used to opening up and unloading his fears onto someone else. Using their support to brace himself. Sometimes he did it in fits and starts with Stevie when it was too much to keep to himself, or he needed a second opinion more than he feared her snark. But if he and Patrick were going to make this work long term, and he really wanted them to, he needed to be brave.

David took a deep breath. “You’re right. That’s not it.” He tried to untangle the thoughts racing through his mind. “Now that we’ve talked and things are official-official, it makes other things more real.”

“Okay.” Patrick sounded a little hesitant, but he was still there.

“Stevie is moving back to a country she said she never wanted to live in again because of me. She hated growing up in Canada. If I didn’t want to change everything, she’d be happy living in L.A.”

“Is she happy in L.A.?” Patrick pulled David close to him as they dodged a dog-walker with multiple pups on leashes. 

“Yeah? I mean, I think so?” He hadn’t actually asked her that. Shit. He probably should.

“Maybe she feels the same way about L.A. as you do. There’s nothing wrong with both of you changing your minds about where you want to live.”

“But what if she isn’t happy here and she’ll have uprooted her whole life to keep working for me? I want her to be happy. She’s my best friend,” he said in a small voice.

Patrick pulled David to the edge of an alley, then rested his hands on David’s shoulders. “You’re saying the exact things that have been running through my head since I saw you in the locker room last night.”

David frowned. Why would Patrick be worried about Stev—oh. “But I’m really happy to move here and be with you. I want to try something new, and I want that to be where you are.”

Patrick’s smile glowed as he leaned in to kiss David. “Maybe she feels the same way. You’re probably her best friend too, you know. Maybe she only stayed in L.A. to keep working with you. Maybe she kinda misses Canada. You should probably ask her.”

David opened and closed his mouth several times. “Damn. You’re good at this.”

Patrick looked down and laughed softly. “Look at us, already crushing it at this boyfriend thing.”

David waggled his eyebrows. “I think we proved that a couple of times last night and again this morning.” He gave Patrick a heated kiss, then Patrick pulled David back to the sidewalk and toward breakfast. 

Because Stevie was a kind and generous person, and because David promised to pay for brunch, she’d agreed to meet them at a restaurant close to Patrick’s place so they could stay in bed as long as possible. 

They really had stayed in bed as long as possible. David hadn’t been that relaxed upon waking in six months. It’s like his body sensed Patrick’s and could finally fully relax. It had been amazing to wake with Patrick’s arm slung over his waist. He loved their slow morning kisses, the way their bodies rocked together and their hands wandered over all the skin they could reach, how they soaped each other up in the shower. 

David had been moving a little slowly, but the caffeine had helped. He still couldn’t believe Patrick had snuck out while David got ready to get him a caramel macchiato. Grande with an extra shot. David smiled to himself. 

A year ago, he went from party to party, trying to feel something. Trying to find his place in a city, an industry, he didn’t enjoy any longer. He’d met Sebastien and let himself think for a short time that maybe he’d found a little something to enjoy. He’d been so wrong. Six months ago he’d had a taste of true happiness and thought he’d never get it for real. Hell, as recently as a few weeks ago, he’d been all twisted up and thinking he wouldn’t get to be with Patrick. That the life he dreamed of was out of reach.

Now, he walked hand-in-hand with Patrick in downtown Toronto and listened to Patrick point out restaurants he wanted to take David to. Because they could do that now. Go on dates to restaurants together instead of David eating dinner while video chatting with Patrick as he got ready for bed. Or texting while David was stuck in the backseat of his Uber in L.A. sitting in traffic as Patrick ate dinner.

Dates that they didn’t call dates, but they probably had been. David had spent more time talking to Patrick in the past six months than he had during any other relationship. Patrick had become a staple in David’s day. He woke up to voice memos from Patrick detailing major news because he knew David liked to know what was going on, but refused to watch the news because of his anxiety. Before bed, he sent Patrick voice memos detailing the latest Hollywood drama or recapping episodes of his favorite shows and podcasts. They texted throughout the day, video chatted while doing mundane things. Jesus, David actually talked on the phone with Patrick sometimes.

Now that he and Patrick were a couple, he realized things wouldn’t really change that much because they’d sort of already been acting like they were in a long-distance relationship. Because Patrick had been right last night. Just because they weren’t in a relationship didn’t mean he hadn’t been steadily falling in love with Patrick every day. All the mundane conversations, all the teasing, all the times Patrick was there for him. If that wasn’t a relationship, he didn’t know what one was. 

“This is the donut place I’ve told you about.” Patrick stopped them to look in the window. 

“We’re stopping here after brunch, right?” David watched someone pour a vibrant fuchsia glaze on donut rings through the window.

“Why do you think I took us this route?” Patrick kissed David’s cheek.

“Mm. Spoiling me already.” David shimmied his shoulders. 

Patrick cupped his neck. “Better get used to it. I’ve had to hold back for six months.”

David’s breath hitched at the sincerity in Patrick’s eyes. “I, um, will mentally prepare myself.”

“Good.” Patrick gave him a quick kiss. “Now let’s go. I know how hangry you can get.”

“Excuse you. You’ve never seen me hangry.”

Patrick laughed and flashed David a grin. “I have quite a few texts on my phone that indicate you being hangry is a regular occurrence. Do we need to talk about the expired and melted protein bar incident?”

“You said you’d never bring that up,” David hissed.

“Bring what up?”

“Humph.” David bit the inside of his cheek. He didn’t realize he’d shared that much with Patrick. Thank god for Stevie and her ideas. If she hadn’t come up with the Toronto plan, he’d probably be in limbo for another two months, at least. “At least I wasn’t caught by the media felatting a corndog.”

“Eating a corndog, David. I was eating a corndog. How did you know about that?”

David studied the storefronts they passed. “I may have a Google Alert set up for your name.”

“You what?!”

“It’s no big deal, okay! I was trying to learn baseball stuff to understand your job. And the Baseball for Dummies book I got was so fucking boring. I couldn’t get beyond the table of contents. So I set up a Google Alert!”

Patrick tilted his head back and laughed. “I set one up for you, too. Mostly for the pictures though.”

David grinned. “Okay, fine, I set mine up for the pictures, too. God, we’re so pathetic.”

Patrick pulled David into him until their shoulders bumped. “I like it.”

“Me too.” How did David get so lucky?

A few minutes later, Patrick stopped in front of a restaurant and opened the door. “Ready?” 

“As I’ll ever be.” He let out a breath, then strode through the threshold. 

When the host greeted them, Patrick gave his name, then grabbed David’s hand. David looked down at it. He wasn’t used to people wanting to show public affection unless it was staged for paparazzi. But Patrick looked at David like he would happily scream from the mountaintop how happy he was to be there with David if David would let him.

“The third in your party is already seated,” the host said, then led David and Patrick to the table.

Patrick rubbed the small of David’s back, and he melted into the reassuring touch.

“Jesus, you look happy,” Stevie said to David by way of greeting. She stood from her seat and knocked David in the shoulder. “Gross.” Her smile belied her words. 

He tried to come up with one of his usual snippy responses, but nothing came to him. “I am. I really am.” David smiled at her with teeth and everything.

Her eyes turned a little glassy. “Good, otherwise this would’ve been unnecessary jet lag.”

“Stop complaining. You got a free international trip out of the deal.”

“A work trip, David. I’m not here for fun.”

“Tell that to the text you sent last night about the random you found.”

Patrick cleared his throat, and David turned toward him. Patrick looked absolutely fucking smitten. That was a promising start.

“Hi, Stevie. It’s great to see you in 3D finally.” He held out his hand.

“I have legs. Impressive, I know.” She returned the shake. It was so damn weird to see his two people together.

“Me too.” Patrick gestured to himself.

“Oh, I know. I’ve had to suffer through David spending a lot of time watching clips of you running.”

“Be quiet, you harpy,” David hissed. 

“Shall we?” Patrick took the far seat so David could sit next to him and across from Stevie.

A server came by right away to tell them about the specials and take their drink orders. As soon as the server left, Stevie smirked as she looked between them. “Looks like things went well last night.”

Patrick placed his hand on David’s thigh and squeezed. 

“Very. Thank you very much.” David’s cheeks heated as he remembered how thoroughly they’d reconnected. He knew their physical connection had been off the charts in the Maldives, but with six months of building a relationship added in? He was surprised he hadn’t forgotten his name after the orgasms. 

“You sure you want him around all the time? He can get hangry at the drop of a hat.”

“Good thing I know how to cook.”

“God, you two really are perfect for each other, aren’t you?” She waved her finger back and forth between them. “You both have the same sappy faces. I’d already seen plenty of David’s, but yours is worse,” Stevie said to Patrick accusingly.

Patrick winked at David, then looked at Stevie. “I should probably get the rest of the sappy stuff out of the way, then.”

“Oh god, you’re going to make me lose my appetite.” Stevie’s eyes widened. David laughed. She was as helpless as him under Patrick’s earnest stare.

Patrick squeezed David’s thigh again. “Thank you for bringing David here and coming up with the idea to move the show to Toronto. If it weren’t for you, we’d probably be miserable trying to catch a couple of days together every month or two. I’m sure if he’s miserable, he makes your life miserable. And if I’m miserable, I make him miserable.” Patrick looked at David with his happy puppy dog eyes. “So, thanks. That’s it. I’m done.”

“Too late. Lost my appetite,” Stevie grumbled, but David spotted the twitch of her lips. She waved her hand. “No big deal. I’m glad to get out of L.A. It won’t come soon enough.”

He needed to have a conversation with Stevie later about her moving to Canada. He needed to be sure it was something she genuinely wanted to do.

David watched the way her eyes darted to David, then away again. He could tell Stevie knew something. “Did you hear from them?”

“I’m here to identify the character flaw that makes Patrick like you, not talk shop. We can talk about it later.”

“Spill it. You might as well save us some time so I don’t have to waste time with my boyfriend later by talking about work.”

Stevie’s eyes lit up. “Boyfriend, huh?”

David tapped the table once with his fingertip. “Not the topic of conversation right now. What aren’t you telling me?”

She smiled at him. A genuine Stevie smile hit him right in the gut. “I talked to the network first thing this morning and may have insinuated that Interflix approached you about a show, and that getting to film in Canada would go a long way in helping you consider renewing your contract.”

And that’s why she was the best manager in the business. “And?”

“The network verbally agreed and is working up an amendment to your contract detailing the new location. Your dual citizenship helped.”

David’s hands shot to his mouth. “It’s happening?”

“It’s happening,” she said, smiling.

“We’re moving back to Canada.” He looked at Patrick and smiled so widely his cheeks strained.

She nodded. “We are. Pretty quickly.”

David looked back at her. “How quickly?”

“They haven’t established a timeline yet, but they’re going to scramble trying to find guests for fall.”

“So, they don’t need me to close anything out in L.A.?”

“I doubt it. I’m sure we’ll get details in a few days, but I imagine you’ll want to start finding a place immediately. I’ve got a short list of realtors for us.”

She was so damn good. “You’ve had a busy morning.”

The server delivered their drinks and promised to come back to take their orders.

Stevie shrugged. “I had a feeling things would move fast, and I didn’t want to have to scramble later.”

“Thank you, Stevie,” he said as seriously as he could. He hoped she picked up the depth of his gratitude.

“Yeah, yeah. You’re covering moving costs.”

“Obviously.” He bit the inside of his cheek. 

“I’ll get some dates from them and add it to your calendar.” She took a drink of her coffee.

David looked at Patrick. “I’ll add them to our calendar when I have them.” Our calendar. That shot a thrill through him.

“You two already have a shared calendar? What the fuck? Do you have an organizational kink?”

“Of course not,” David said.

“Yeah,” Patrick said. 

David clucked his tongue.

“Stevie, do you think it would be possible to block out a few days in July as part of his contract? I get a few days off and wanted to take David to my family’s cabin at Lake Huron.”

Stevie’s mouth twisted into a knowing smile. That special kind of I told you, you fucking idiot smile that she reserved for special occasions. “I can do that.”

“David mentioned you’re a baseball fan. I get a few tickets to every game. So any time you want to go, let me know.”

Stevie beamed. “Seriously?”

David sipped his coffee as Stevie and Patrick talked about baseball and the season and things David didn’t understand. But watching his two favorite people get along was the best feeling in the world. 

Patrick's phone buzzed on the table. He flipped it over and read the text. “Looks like Mike and Becca can make it to the game.”

David wiggled in his seat. “Oh, good!” David couldn’t wait to meet Becca. He was sure Mike was great too, but he could tell Becca was his people. 

“You sure you’re ready for this?” Stevie said to Patrick. 

“I’ve been ready for six months.” Patrick leaned over and kissed David’s cheek.

Stevie’s face softened for a moment before she made a wiseass remark and scowled about how she didn’t sign up for PDA.

“I’m going to step away for a minute and make sure I’ve got seats for everyone. Stevie, do you want to go?”

“Get to watch the Jays crush the Yankees and watch David try to pry dirt about you from your best friends? Yeah, I want to go.” 

Patrick hesitated for a moment. “If Mike mentions anything about Cancun, don’t believe him.” Patrick pointed to both of them. “Seriously, don’t believe him.”

David watched Patrick walk away. He forced himself to take relaxed breaths. He wasn’t used to watching Patrick walk away, knowing he’d be coming back. 

“You’ve got it bad. I mean, I knew you did, but damn. This is disgusting to watch.”

“It’s afterglow from the great sex and multiple orgasms.”

“Definitely didn’t ask for details about that.”

He grinned. 

“I like this for you.” She tapped his forearm.

David looked through the window to the sidewalk and watched Patrick pace while talking on the phone. Patrick looked back at him and smiled so freely, so openly, it made David’s heart soar. “I like this for me, too.”

Chapter Text

May

@TMZ: This is a user-submitted photo. They think it’s David Rose. The hair fits, but a Jays game? And jersey? We’re not convinced. Can anyone verify? [a fuzzy, zoomed-in photo of a dark-haired man in box seats wearing a Jays jersey] 

@ThatzIncorrect replying to @TMZ: Ooh that fits with the T-shirt pic from a few months ago. Secret boyfriend? Does he have a family member on the team? He’s from Canada originally

@JayzNum1Fan replying to @TMZ: My cousin works security at the stadium and said it was David Rose. Said he got into the locker room too

@ILuvDavidRose replying to @TMZ: That’s definitely him. I’d know his hair anywhere

——

@TorontoTea: David Rose was spotted looking at condos downtown. New show on the horizon? @HGTV fill us in!

——

David: well

Patrick: uh oh

David: the condo in your building is a leading option

Patrick: 🤣 I knew it

David: I didn’t pick it yet! Slow down

Patrick: told. you.

David: keep this attitude up and I’ll move to the ‘burbs

Patrick: lol I dare you

David: don’t you tempt me

Patrick: I’m sure you can find lots of stuff to decorate your new place from Canadian Tire

David: 🖕🏼

Patrick: 💙

 

 

June

@TMZ: David Rose and Patrick Brewer looking while cozy grabbing lunch at Kensington Market. Opposites attract or is David Rose helping PBrew swap out his baseball posters for contemporary art?

@BreadPitt replying to @TMZ: ohhh myyy goddd. I’d hoped after the whole DR in a Jays shirt thing. But seeing them together?! Best. Day. Everrrrr.

@ThatzIncorrect replying to @TMZ: rumor is That’s Incorrect is moving to Canada. Maybe Patrick Brewer is going to be a guest?

@ILuvDavidRose replying to @ThatzIncorrect: Canada?! No way! Where’d you hear that?

@ThatzIncorrect replying to @ILuvDavidRose: Someone on Tumblr who works for HGTV said it’s happening

@SnarkyBarky replying to @TMZ: I’m shipping David Rose and PBrew so hard. Could you imagine? I’m freaking out

——

David: Packing is so boring. I wish you were here

Patrick: Me too. Have much left?

David: the consignment person I’m working with came by to pick up all the stuff I’m not taking with me, which is more than I realized. I’m packing up my bedroom now. What are you up to?

Patrick: Just got back to my room a bit ago. Put in a food order and going to relax. A little sore from my slide home

David: I saw that. You okay? Wish I were there to give you a massage

Patrick: I wish you were too. Maybe with that fancy oil you brought over

David: I’ve got another one I’d like to try on you. You might like what I’m currently packing up actually

Patrick: Oh yeah?

David: [photo of sex aids: lubes, oils, vibrators, dildos, plugs, handcuffs, and more]

Patrick: holy shit. 🥵 Please tell me you’re bringing that as luggage when you fly back so we don’t have to wait for the truck to arrive with your stuff

David: I could be convinced. Why don’t you tell me what you want to try first? 😏

Patrick: I want to use the handcuffs and clip you to my headboard. Then I want to lick you until you’re hard and use that cock ring on you. Then finger you until you squirm and I’ll put that prostate massager in you. Make you watch me finger myself open and fuck myself on your hard cock

David: Jesus 

Patrick: my name is Patrick 😏

David: I’m convinced. This is definitely coming on the plane

Patrick: and you’ll definitely be coming when you get back here

**incoming FaceTime call from David 🖤💙**

——

Stevie: is this from you? [photo of food delivery]

Patrick: yup! Figured you were swamped with finishing your packing early so you could be there while David spirals about his tomorrow

Stevie: god you know him well. That’s literally what’s happening right now [photo of empty living room/kitchen with stacks of boxes]

Patrick: The restaurant only had one slice of the German Chocolate Cake left, so I included dessert in yours not in David’s. Figured you deserved a treat

Stevie: you’re a saint

Patrick: thanks for getting him up here to me

Stevie: don’t you fucking start that sappy shit

Patrick: glad you’re coming up here too. Okay, I’m done. Promise

Stevie: ugh. you're welcome

——

David: you sent me food?! Omfg why are you so nice

Patrick: 💙 thought you were maybe stressed and forgot to get dinner

David: you’re so good to me  

Patrick: need you at full strength when you get here

David: you love me for my dick

Patrick: I love you *and* your dick

David: thanks for dinner, honey 🖤

——

David: you sent Stevie dessert and not me?! Wtf 

——

“Okay, I want it here.” David stood in front of the wall between the two tall living room windows.

“Are you sure this time?” Patrick held his pencil up to mark the wall. He raised an eyebrow before making the mark. He’d already marked two other spots.

“Yes,” David huffed. It was adorable. 

“Really sure?”

Stevie snickered. 

“Yes!”

Patrick marked the center point, then held the painting up to mark the spots for the screws.

“Wait. That’s not right.”

Patrick sat the painting down and sighed. “So, this is what it’s like to see the magic happen?”

“Is that what you call getting bossed around by your boyfriend?” Stevie took a sip of her coffee. 

“I’m not bossing him around. He’s helping me set up my place while you’re standing there eating my food.”

Patrick didn’t mind getting bossed around because it meant David was there. He loved watching David’s brain at work. The way he could take a blank canvas and see the final painting. How he knew the way all the pieces fit together, like some sort of aesthetics Tetris master. 

After trying a couple of more spots, David finally settled on where the painting needed to go, Patrick marked the spot and went to drill, but he realized he was missing the drill bit he needed. 

“I don’t have the right piece. Let me run up to my place and see if it’s in my junk drawer.” Patrick kissed David on the cheek and walked to David’s front door and slid his shoes back on.

David tucked his grin into the corner of his mouth. “See you in a few.”

“Be right back.” He loved he could tease David about choosing the condo in his building with a single glance. 

David huffed and rolled his eyes.

 

July

@HGTV: Guess what? @HGThatsIncorrect is going international! This season is happening in Canada. Canada, are you ready for David Rose? He’ll be sure to tell you what’s incorrect. New season premiers September 28 [gif of David Rose shaking his head and saying “incorrect”]

@ThatzIncorrect replying to @HGTV: omg! So exciting!!

@JuicyJays replying to @HGTV: Are any Jays players going to be on it?

@PeasForce replying to @JuicyJays: Patrick Brewer! Omg that would be amazing

@BreadPitt replying to @PeasForce: I heard David and PBrew are a couple

@JoeNotExotic replying to @BreadPitt: lolz yeah right

@WaterfowlAbalone replying to @JoeNotExotic: they follow each other on IG

@BelgianWaffelllz replying to @WaterfowlAbalone: David follows Nate and Jarod too 🤷

——

@PatrickBrewer: Escaping to the lake for a few days of some much-needed R&R [photo of himself swinging in a lake, smiling, water droplets on his face and hair] 

——

@DavidRose: I love summer. Digging these outdoor pillows I found at an antique store outside of Toronto [photo of Adirondack chairs with water in the background and sunshine reflecting off the surface]

 

August

@TMZ: David Rose is really settling in to Toronto life. Big @BlueJays fan? [photo of David on his feet and screaming and clapping]

@PaintballDemon replying to @TMZ: who are the people next to him?

@ThatzIncorrect replying to @PaintballDemon: I think that’s his manager Stevie Budd

@CharcoalOnMahTeeth replying to @PaintballDemon: I went to high school with PBrew. That’s his parents and best friend Mike. And Mike’s wife Becca on David’s other side

@Reinaissance69 replying to @CharcoalOnMahTeeth: OMG why is David with Patrick’s people? 👀

@WkEghf49582 replying to @Reinaissance69: think about it you idiot

@Renaissance69 replying to @WkEghf49582: no need to be rude

@SharkCoochieBored replying to @CharcoalOnMahTeeth: No way! David Rose and PBrew? 

@BreadPitt replying to @TMZ: omfg I knew it. I. KNEW. IT. Y’all. Think about it. David photographed in a Jays shirt. Then David in Toronto in a Jays jersey (unconfirmed as PBrews). Spotted having lunch together. Now he’s with PBrew’s family? What’s the ship name?

@CanadianGuardsman replying to @BreadPitt: PRose? DBrew? Patose? Davrew? Datrick? Patvid? 

@GoalDiggerz22 replying to @CanadianGuardsman: okay this can’t happen because the ship options are TERRIBLE

@Jays28548 replying to @TMZ: here’s another one. It was taken after PBrew hit a home run [photo of David Rose hugging Patrick’s mom]

——

David: Did you see this? [link to TMZ Twitter thread]

Patrick: I guess it was bound to happen. Maybe we should go public?

David: Yeah, it’s probably time. 

Patrick: Though it’s been kind of fun watching the speculation. First time I haven’t minded my love life being talked about

David: It has, but I’m ready to tag you in posts and make people sick by showing how happy I am

Patrick: You deserve it 💙 Let’s talk tonight and figure out what we want to do

David: let’s give our publicists a heads up. Roxy would kill me if I didn’t loop her in

Patrick: good call. Love you

David: love you too 🖤

——

@DavidRose: Sometimes you have to travel ten thousand miles to find the love of your life. #WorthIt @PatrickBrewer [photo of David hugging a sweaty Patrick in the tunnel after a game]

——

@PatrickBrewer: Despite making my living as an athlete, it was my inability to keep my balance on a paddle board at the sight of the sexiest man on the planet that snagged me the man of my dreams. Love you, @DavidRose [selfie of David and Patrick in the pool at David’s Maldives villa]

——

@TMZ: It’s official. David Rose and PBrew are North America’s newest and hottest couple. [screenshots of David and Patrick’s announcement posts]

@PeanutButterNutter replying to @TMZ: but… how? How do they have anything in common?

@JoeNotExotic replying to @PeanutButterNutter: they’re both hot. What else do they need to have in common?

@Jordie8284 replying to @TMZ: omg #RelationshipGoals

@BreadPitt replying to @TMZ: they’re the cutest fucking couple of all time

@PertinentPetulance replying to @TMZ: do you know how they met?

@ThatzIncorrect replying to @PertinentPetulance: I heard they met on David’s show. That one of the players introduced them

@RedRoverz replying to @ThatzIncorrect: no, they met at a gay bar in Toronto

@BillyJoeBlow replying to @PertinentPetulance: I think they met on vacation. My cousin swears he saw them together at a resort in the Maldives. Holding hands and everything

 

September

@TorontoWeekly: We had the chance to talk to David Rose of @ThatsIncorrect about his new season. David said he’s excited to be in Canada this year. “I’m thrilled to explore a new territory and work with new artists and makers.” [1/3]

@TorontoWeekly: David held a private launch party for close family and friends at The Loft on 3rd. The food featured poutine, butter tarts and more of David’s favorite Canadian foods. [2/3]

@TorontoWeekly: We asked David why he held the party at an industrial venue. Dare we say it’s aesthetically “incorrect.” He said, “I wanted my boyfriend there, and he had a game. So, I picked the venue closest to the stadium.” [photo taken from behind David with the screen in the background, Patrick leans over and kissing David’s cheek] 

 

 

October

David: I’m so sorry, honey. Are you okay?

Patrick: not right now, but I will be. I knew the odds were against us to get into the championship, but I thought this might be the year

David: I hoped so too. I’m sorry

Patrick: thank you. I’ll pout tonight but I’ll be better

Patrick: god we were so close this year

David: you were. You played amazing. You all did. Even I could see that

Patrick: I think I’m going to take another shower and figure out dinner

David: how about you let me have dinner sent to you while you shower

Patrick: always taking care of me 💙

David: I’m really sorry I couldn’t be at your game

Patrick: Don’t be sorry! I totally get it 💙

David: thanks for understanding. Go shower, food will be there soon

Patrick: thanks babe, love you

David: love you so much

Patrick smiled at his phone. Sure, he’d wished David could be there, but David had a job too. Patrick would never want David to sacrifice his own work to be there for Patrick’s. If the game had been in Toronto, David could’ve made it, but playing at Yankee Stadium meant he couldn’t on a filming day. Patrick totally understood, but he wished he could hug David. 

Losing the last game in the playoffs and losing a shot at the World Series hurt. A lot.  

He’d be home tomorrow and he could hug David then.

Patrick took a long shower, but kept the bathroom door open to listen for the door in case food came quickly. He loved that David knew him well enough to know Patrick didn’t want to have to make a decision, even one as simple as dinner after a bad game. Games always exhausted him, but big losses especially did.

He squirted some of the body wash he’d nicked from David onto his palm and soaped up. The herbal and citrus scent immediately relaxed him. If he couldn’t have a hug from David, that was the second best option.

Eventually, he turned off the shower and dried off. He dug through his bag and pulled out his comfy travel joggers. 

Patrick sat on the bed and began channel surfing. As soon as he settled on one of David’s favorite rom-coms, there was a knock at the door. He padded over to the door, pulled it open, and froze.

“Hi, honey. I brought you dinner.” David held up a take-out bag with his right hand as his left clutched the handle of a rolling suitcase.

“How?”

David opened his mouth, but Patrick cut him off.

“So help me god, if you say an airplane, I won’t share that food.”

David grinned. “Stevie found me a flight that I could catch right after I finished filming. Fortunately, there are a lot of direct flights between New York and Toronto.”

Patrick grabbed the food from David, sat it on the floor, then pulled David in for a hug. “I love you so much.”

“How about you let me in the room and we can hug some more?”

Patrick released David and picked up the food. He walked over to the little table and sat it down, then turned back to David. 

David wheeled his bag over to the closet. When he turned around, he smiled softly. “Is this okay?”

Patrick made it to David in three steps and pulled him into another hug. “It’s more than okay. I was really missing you.”

“Me too. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for the playoffs.”

Patrick smiled against his neck. “It’s okay. You’re here now, and I’m so grateful.”

David squeezed him harder. 

Patrick pulled back to kiss his lips, his nose, his cheeks, his eyebrows. Twice.

“Dinner now, then kisses. Come on. I’m guessing you’ve only had a protein bar.”

“Yeah,” Patrick said sheepishly. 

David spun Patrick around and walked him by the shoulders to the table. “Sit.” He clucked his tongue. “Bare feet on a hotel room carpet? Patrick Brewer!”

Patrick grinned and felt the lightest he had in hours. The loss had been tough, but following that up with post-game interviews and a depressing team meeting had really crashed his mood. 

“You’re washing your feet before I get into bed with you.”

“I’ll do anything you ask me to.”

David tucked a smile in his cheek as he unpacked the food. “That sounds promising, but I’m taking care of you tonight, honey.” He reached out and ran his hand through Patrick’s wet hair. “Will you let me?”

Patrick nodded and wrapped his arms around David’s waist. In that moment, he decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life with that man.

 

November (one year from Maldives trip)

David: don’t forget to grab my culottes. I can’t believe I forgot to pack them

David: please 🖤

Patrick: already grabbed them [photo of the culottes]

David: you’re so good to me

Patrick: I know :p packing your pants means I don’t have room for my jorts tho

David: Such a travesty. How will we all survive.

Patrick: I can’t help but wonder if you did that on purpose

David: If only I were that diabolical. But how could I count on you deciding to leave your jorts behind instead of those fugly board shorts or the PJs with the holes in them

Patrick: maybe I have time to pick up compression bags so I can take them all

David: mm but do you have time? Lots to do before your flight in the morning

Patrick: you’re such a brat

David: you love it

Patrick: god help me I do

David: speaking of love. The deep kind of love you feel for me that means you won’t run at the first hint of trouble

Patrick: no, David, I’m not nervous about meeting your family

David: you kind of should be? Though? They’re a lot. I’m a lot. We’re a lot

Patrick: I love you as you are and I’m sure I’ll love them. I’m not going anywhere

David: please refrain from such promises until you’ve seen this year’s Thanksgiving centerpieces

Patrick: lol. How’d it go at the studio go today? Is it weird being back in L.A. for work?

David: yeah, it is. I knew the move to Toronto meant I’d still have to come back for some things, but ugh. It’s been a good reminder about how much I don’t miss L.A.

Patrick: I’m glad you’re still feeling good about your decision to move

David: you make it pretty easy 😊

Patrick: aww stop saying nice things when I’m not there to kiss you

David: you can give me lots of kisses when you arrive tomorrow. I’ll save the IOUs

Patrick: you know what tomorrow is, right?

David: the day you join me in L.A. for Thanksgiving and hopefully a meeting of my family with minimal crises?

Patrick: our one-year anniversary

David: what

Patrick: one year from when we met

David: omg that doesn’t count! We weren’t a couple!

Patrick: still counts though. It was an important day. Our lives changed that day I fell off my paddle board and you looked so hot in those little swim trunks

David: I brought those with me 😏

Patrick: 🙌

David: and, you’re right, it does count. Not as our actual anniversary because that’s in May, you monster. But it’s an important day and we should celebrate it

Patrick: I’m screenshotting this. David Rose said I’m right

David: never mind. Celebration offer rescinded. Throwing the white shorts away

Patrick: your cruelty knows no bounds

David: love you too

 

December

@BlueJays: Did you catch @TheJarodSmith on @HGTV’s @ThatsIncorrect?To be honest, we’re a little hurt his “man cave” wasn’t covered in Jays wallpaper. We thought you loved us, Jarod.

@TheJarodSmith replying to @BlueJays: My own team calling me out like this? Ouch. 

@NateJordan replying to @TheJarodSmith: I think my favorite part was @DavidRose’s face when you tried to convince him that the dogs playing poker prints were classic art.

@DavidRose replying to @NateJordan: I’m still traumatized

@PatrickBrewer replying to @DavidRose: he is. I wish I’d have recorded his tirade after filming that episode

@TheJarodSmith replying to @DavidRose: [link to a Wikipedia page about the Dogs Playing Poker art] See! It’s over a century old! That means it’s classic.

@DavidRose replying to @TheJarodSmith: here we go again. In case you needed a reminder [gif of David saying “that’s incorrect”]

@NateJordan replying to @TheJarodSmith: if only you could buy taste like you can buy those ugly paintings

@DavidRose replying to @NateJordan: THANK YOU

——

@PatrickBrewer: My family. Merry Christmas 🎄 [photo of David and Clint laughing at something Marcy said; fully decorated Christmas tree in the background, wrapping paper and open gifts around them]

 

January

@DavidRose: I got the coveted NYE kiss this year. [photo of Trixie kissing David on the cheek while Mike, Becca, Patrick and Stevie smile lovingly at them]

@StevieBudd replying to @DavidRose: she told me after that your face was too scratchy. Way to start the kid’s year with regret

 

February

@TMZ: David Rose spotted in Dunedin, Florida. Tagging along to spring training? Things must be serious with PBrew.

——

@DavidRose: No one told me that dating a baseball player meant getting to go to DisneyWorld! [photo of David and Patrick eating Dole Whip ice cream cones with the castle in the background at Magic Kingdom]

 

March

@DavidRose: He put (four) rings on it. I love you, @PatrickBrewer. [photo of two venti to-go coffee cups; Patrick holding one that says “just” written on the sleeve; David holding one that has “engaged” written on the sleeve with the four gold engagement rings visible in the shot, kissing Patrick’s cheek] 

@PatrickBrewer: I love this man so much. Not only did he go hiking with me, after some mild begging on my part, he said yes when I asked him to marry me at the summit of the hike. I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. [selfie of David and Patrick, dry tears on their cheeks, David holding up his hand with the rings on it]

 

April

@TorontoTea: Awww! A user sent in this video from today’s @BlueJays game.

[video transcript/description:

Announcer at the Blue Jays home game: “Congratulations to our own PBrew and David Rose on their engagement!”

*crowd applauds and cheers*

Jumbotron flashed a “Congratulations, Patrick and David!” message of them with the engagement announcement photos they both posted to social media 

Patrick walked from where he was warming up before the came over to David’s seat in the front row. He hoisted himself up the railing and leaned in to kiss David]

 

May

@BostonRumorMill: David Rose spotted in town. His fiancé, Patrick Brewer/PBrew is in town to play the Sox. We received a report that Patrick rented out Dougie’s Donuts for a private celebration. One-year anniversary? Happy anniversary to them! [telephoto lens photo of Patrick feeding David a piece of donut at a candlelit table]

 

June

David: Which of these window treatments do you like? [three photos attached]

Patrick: Wow, you want my opinion? 

David: we’re moving in together. Of course I want your opinion, smartass!

Patrick: I like the middle one

David: perf. Thanks 🖤 look at that compromising in action

Patrick: pretty sure it’s not compromise if you select the options I have to choose from

David: oh shut up. This is my area of expertise. You get to make decisions about how we do our taxes and shit when we’re married because that’s your area of expertise

Patrick: lol okay David

David: okay fine. How about you send me 5 couches you like. No 10. 10 couches you like and I’ll pick from that

Patrick: 👏🏻 look at you compromising 

David: 🖕🏼

David: hope you have a good game 🖤 see you Thursday! 

Patrick: can’t wait 💙

 

July

“Remember how last year my All Star break was relaxing? How we were at a lake, swimming and cuddling? Lots of cuddling?” Patrick wiped the sweat from his brow.

David wanted to lick it off. He loved watching Patrick lifting things and getting all sweaty. “I fondly recall those few days. But, if you recall, it wasn’t my idea to schedule possession of the new condo this week. That was your idea.” 

Patrick grumbled as he lifted another box onto the counter and began unpacking dishes. “I know. We should do this together, but I really wanted a few days of doing nothing with you.” Patrick stacked a few plates and put them in the cupboard. His bottom lip stuck out in an adorable pout. 

David walked over to him and wrapped his arms around Patrick’s shoulders as soon as Patrick turned around to grab more dishes. “I know. I would love nothing more than a few days of doing nothing with you, too.” He kissed the pout off of Patrick’s lip. “I’m also glad we’re doing this together, so it feels like our place. Not a place I decorated for you while you’re working. Like you’re a client or something.”

Patrick’s expression softened in understanding. “Thank you, babe. I’m glad we’re doing this together.” Patrick gripped David’s hips.

“Also, because I’m very generous, I’ve arranged to have meals delivered the next three days, and two masseuses are coming by the day after tomorrow for a couples’ massage. I’m sure after all of this unpacking, we’ll need it.”

“You did all that?”

David looked away. Sometimes it was too easy to get lost in Patrick’s undiluted fondness. “I thought we could work in a staycation vibe to our move.”

“I love you so much.”

“Love you too, honey.”

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

November (two years from Maldives trip)

David woke with a smile on his face. That had happened a lot over the last two years. He reached out and found the bed empty. Patrick must already be up and doing his sporty things. David rolled over and buried his face in Patrick’s pillow. It still smelled like his shampoo.

He hugged the pillow for a minute before he opened his eyes. He wanted another minute of basking in that moment, that day, in his happiness. He opened his eyes and saw a croissant on a plate sitting on Patrick’s nightstand. There was a note attached. 

Happy two-year anniversary. Love you, David. So much.

David rolled on his back and smiled up at the ceiling as he stretched his arms. It was already warm, but there was a nice breeze rolling in from the open sliding glass doors.

He heard a splash. David sat up and leaned against the headboard. Patrick climbed up the steps from the ocean onto their villa’s deck. Their villa. He was so glad they’d been able to book the same one.

Patrick bypassed the towel on the lounger and strode through the open doors to the room. “Good morning, baby. Happy anniversary.”

David softened at the endearment Patrick didn’t use often, but any awarded brownie points evaporated when David realized Patrick was bringing his wet body in their room. Which was obviously incorrect.

“Don’t you dare, Patrick Brewer.” David pulled the sheet up his body.

“What? I seem to recall you telling me just last night how wet I make you.”

“How dare you use the things I say in the heat of passion against me!” David tried to look stern, but he felt his lips twitch as Patrick crawled on the bed.

“I just want to make you wet again.”

“You’re a menace!” David tried to slide further under the bedding, but Patrick stopped him. “You’re all wet with nasty ocean water,” he whined.

“Come on, I just wanna hug you. It’s our anniversary. Won’t you let me?”

David squealed as Patrick wrapped himself around David like an octopus. “Oh my god! You’re soaking wet.” He giggled as Patrick shook his hair out like a dog. “The bedding. You’re getting it soaking wet.”

“We can ask them to change the bedding.” Patrick wrapped his arms around David’s chest and pulled until Patrick was flat on his back and David straddled his waist.

“You’re calling the front desk about this situation. I refuse,” David said, grinning down at him as he planted his hands on Patrick’s chest.

Patrick grabbed David’s hands and interlaced their fingers, then pulled their hands to each side of his head, which forced David down into Patrick’s space. “That sounds fair. Will you shower with me first? I ordered breakfast to be delivered at ten. I figured the croissant would tide you over.”

“Sounds like you were proactively trying to butter me up for ruining our bed.” He let Patrick tug him closer by moving their hands further apart.

“Maybe. Did it work?”

“Maybe,” David said, smiling into a kiss.

They showered together. The last time they’d showered together in that stall had been so bittersweet it stung David’s throat. This time, he could hardly breathe for how much he loved Patrick. How happy he was that they’d found each other and found a way to make it work. It hadn’t been an easy two years, but it had been worth it. Moving to Toronto had been the best decision of his life. No, his second best decision. The best had been not canceling the Maldives trip after Sebastien had dumped him.

After their shower full of kisses and lingering touches, Patrick sat on the bathroom counter while David carefully shaved Patrick’s face. Then Patrick applied David’s nine steps of facial care with expert fingers. David loved those quiet moments with Patrick. With how hectic their schedules had been for so long, they learned to appreciate any time they got together. 

A short while later, staff brought their brunch by canoe. It had more flowers than he remembered from last time. The staff offered their congratulations before paddling away. Patrick let David have all the pineapple. 

After breakfast, they pushed their loungers together, and David thoroughly applied sunscreen to Patrick’s pale skin.

“I think that’s enough,” Patrick said, laughing as David kept rubbing it onto Patrick’s shoulders.

“Can’t be too safe. You burn very easily.”

Patrick pulled David in by the waist and kissed him. “Thanks for taking care of me.”

They settled on their backs on the loungers, their fingers tangled together between them. 

“It’s so nice to be here with you again. I can’t believe how much has changed in two years.” David turned his head and kissed Patrick’s shoulder.

Patrick rolled on his side and faced David. “It’s definitely surreal to be here with you.”

David rolled over to mirror Patrick and rested his head on his hand. “There’s a part of me that is dreading you leaving on Friday. Like some tragic reflex or something.”

Patrick grabbed David’s free hand. “I’m not going anywhere this time. Not without you with me.”

Tears welled in David’s eyes. It was too early for that. “I know, honey.” He kissed Patrick’s knuckles. “Think we can make this an annual thing?”

“I don’t see why not.” Patrick’s eyes crinkled. “Every November for the rest of our lives? I think I can commit to that.”

David never wanted to look away from Patrick’s eyes. “Me too.”

Patrick traced the backs of his fingers across David’s cheek and down his jaw. “It’s wild to think about how much has changed in the last two years. Where do you think we’ll be two years from now?”

“Thriving personally and professionally, obviously.”

“Obviously.” Patrick grinned.

David rolled onto his back and looked up at the bright sky. He inhaled the sea salt air and smiled at the rays of sun warming his skin. “I’ve been thinking a lot about that, actually.”

“Yeah? Any specifics you’d like to share with the class?”

“I’ve got a few appointments when we get home.”

“For what?”

David inhaled and turned his head toward Patrick. “To finally look for spaces for the business. Stevie and I can’t keep working out of our homes. And since she became my partner, I feel like I want to make that feel more official. Get her an office with her name on the door. Stevie Budd, co-owner of RoseBudd Designs. She’d hate it.”

Patrick laughed. “I can’t wait to see her reaction.”

David swallowed. It was time to share the other part of his idea. It was true, he wanted his own office space where he could meet clients and vendors. Maybe even teach an occasional class on some interior design basics. Going back and forth between his and Stevie’s condos or working in coffee shops had been enough in the past eight months or so since his contract with HGTV had ended, but they needed something more permanent. They had enough clients to justify the expense and risk. And since he’d transitioned Stevie from business manager to partner, he wanted her to really feel like a co-owner and that she had a place too.

But, selfishly, he had another reason for wanting to lease a commercial space.

“The few places we’ve shortlisted all include a bonus space. I was thinking that we could reserve that for you, if you wanted to do your business consulting away from our place in your off season. We’ve talked a lot about wanting more work-life separation at home, and this might help?” He didn’t let himself look at Patrick’s face. “No pressure, though, seriously. Just because I lease a space doesn’t mean you have to join—”

Patrick silenced David with a kiss. He crawled onto David’s lounger and boxed David in with his arms and legs. “I’d love that. I love that idea.” He kissed David again. “It’s perfect.”

David laughed as Patrick continued to kiss all over his face. “Yeah? I’m glad. I was a little nervous to bring it up. My back-up idea would be turning it into a yoga studio or throwing a bed in there for naps.”

“Yes. Naps.” Patrick winked and kissed the underside of Patrick’s jaw. Patrick didn’t ask why David was nervous to bring it up or give him shit about it. Patrick understood how David’s anxiety worked better than anyone, and he was the most understanding person in the world about it. “I’m glad you brought it up. There’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about, too,” he said in a more serious tone. The same tone he’d used when he brought up a conversation about how they’d handle their finances after they got married, his concern that David was working too hard and not taking care of himself, and when the doctor had said Patrick’s knee issues would likely get worse in the next few years. Patrick shifted back to his own lounger, and David missed the weight of him immediately. 

He picked up on Patrick’s nerves, so he gave Patrick his full attention. “I’m all ears.”

“Mm, I’d say you 're more legs than ears.” Patrick looked over David’s white swim trunks that Patrick insisted he bring, and a slow, lingering journey over his legs.

“Patrick, focus. Use your words.” David grabbed Patrick’s chin and moved his head until he was looking at David’s face again.

Patrick smiled sheepishly. “You know how my contract is up after this season.”

“I do.” He’d held back from pestering Patrick daily about his thoughts on whether he’d renew. If he wanted to keep playing, David now understood that there would be a chance the Jays didn’t want him and he might end up with another team. David would follow Patrick, but he really liked Toronto. He also didn’t like that Patrick’s knee was giving him some issues. He wanted Patrick to love his work and be happy, and he also selfishly sort of hoped that might lie more with the business consulting than the baseball sooner rather than later. 

“I appreciate the space as I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve been thinking about it pretty much nonstop for a couple of months, actually, but I’ve needed to work through some things before I was ready to talk about it.” Patrick paused as though he were waiting for David to jump in, but he didn’t.

“It’s not that I plan to make a decision on my own. This is something I want us to decide together, but I needed to know how I feel before we talk about it.”

It showed how much he trusted Patrick that the thought of Patrick sitting on something for a while didn’t send David into a panic spiral. He appreciated that Patrick wanted to know his own feelings, because he knew David always asked a lot of questions. “I understand completely, honey. Are you ready to share what you’re thinking?”

Patrick’s answering smile was radiant. “Yeah. I am.” Patrick sat up and crossed his legs. David did the same. “I think I want this to be my last season.”

David worked to keep his expression neutral, though internally he was doing naked cartwheels.

“The pros for stopping after this season.” Patrick held up his hand and counted off his fingers. “No risk of having to move to another team. The more I play, the risk for serious injury increases, and I don’t want to seriously mess my body up before I’m thirty-five. I’m also tired of the travel. I know we make it work, and I appreciate how much effort you put in. But I want to be around you more. I miss you so damn much when I’m on the road.” Patrick’s bottom lip stuck out in a pout, and David couldn’t help himself from kissing it.

“Patrick, this is your decision. This is your career and I’ll support you in whatever you want to do.”

“But we’re a family, David. This is something we have to decide together. The only major con I can think of is the salary hit. It’s a big financial change. I know your business is doing great, but it’ll take that a while to approach what you made with HGTV. My business consulting will never come close to what I make as a ball player.”

“I don’t care about the money. As long as we can find a way to come here once in a while, I’ll be happy.” He reached out and cupped Patrick’s shoulders, stroking them. “And a Japanese toilet. Wherever we live, that’s a basic need for me.”

“Food, water, shelter, Japanese toilet. God it.” Patrick gave him an indulgent smile. 

“So, a year from now, we’ll be working together in our office space? Like, obviously not together because being around your spreadsheets and numbers will seriously stifle my creativity. But down the hall or something.”

“Sounds like we will. How will we settle our arguments over your accounting, though?” Patrick looked at him innocently.

David didn’t take the bait. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

“Like the time you said you didn’t have time to plug your purchases into Quickbooks, and I told you I needed you to do it so I could do your quarterly taxes. And we argued and settled it in the bedroom? Or the time you thought your caramel macchiatos were a tax deduction. I think that escalated to a bedroom mediation as well.”

David tried to stop his smile but failed miserably. How could he hold back a smile in his favorite place with his favorite person on one of the best days of his life? “We might need to put a bed in your office after all. I’m sure you can find a different office space nearby.”

Patrick crawled back on David’s lounger. “Or you could give me head behind my desk for all the times I’m right. The places you’re looking for have closed doors, right? It’s not an open concept?”

“Oh god no. Could you imagine? Me and Stevie in the same space all the time without a door? We’d burn the place down. Half of our success as friends and colleagues can be attributed to the fact that we’ve always been able to close a door between us.”

Patrick laughed into a kiss. “You two are weirdos, but you’re my weirdos, and I love you both.”

“I’d pay to watch you say that to her. She would die.”

“I’d prefer not to kill Stevie with my adoration. You’d be insufferable without her.” Patrick kissed his nose.

David’s phone alarm went off and he groaned. 

“I think that’s your cue to go relax and get pampered.” Patrick cupped the back of David’s head, then leaned in to kiss him so gently it made David tear up again. “I’ll see you in a few hours. Yeah?”

David wrapped his arms around Patrick’s waist. “You bet your ass. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

When David reluctantly got off of his lounger to go turn off the alarm, he double-checked the spa appointment time on his calendar. Just in case he could sneak a few more minutes with Patrick. He spotted new calendar events.

“Did you add sex to our shared calendar?!” David thrust the phone in Patrick’s face.

“I know how much you like your Google Calendar. Since we’re on vacation this week, I thought you might miss having the push notifications for events.”

“My god. You set it to repeat multiple times a day.”

“I’m goal-motivated,” Patrick said, as he wrapped his body around David’s back.

David turned in his arms and kissed him for his silly trolling that David loved so much. After a few more lingering kisses, David eventually pulled himself away to gather everything he’d need. He kissed a laughing Patrick one more time, then left their villa. Their villa because that time the paperwork proved it. Instead of Patrick crashing there for four days during their fling, both of their names were on this reservation.

David smiled the entire walk to the spa. The wrinkles around his eyes had changed dramatically after meeting Patrick because he smiled so often. Surprisingly, he wasn’t bothered by the facial markers. The rest of his skin was perfect, anyway.

The staff checked David in, collected his things, and ushered him into a treatment room. When selecting his treatments for the day, he’d opted for relaxation and trying to minimize his anxiety. He’d also avoided anything that touched his face, hair or might redden his skin, which really only left a pedicure, manicure, and a light massage.

While the staff expertly tended to his hands and feet, he talked about Patrick. He couldn’t help it. He told them about how they’d met at the resort two years ago, and how they’d found their way to each other in the months following. The staff asked questions and laughed at all the right spots. Talking about Patrick helped keep his anxiety at a low level for such a big day.

The last two years had easily been the best of his life. He didn’t think he would ever get to a point where he could feel so… settled. God, even happy? With himself? With Patrick, he never felt like he was too much or not enough. With Patrick, he’d been able to relax and feel safe, which allowed him to actually settle into being in a relationship. It turned out he wasn’t as terrible at it as he’d feared. Sure, they had to work on things, and he had to get better at compromise, but Patrick stayed. Patrick stayed and loved him.

If the David of five years ago would have been told he’d be engaged, let alone to a pro athlete, he never would have believed it. Now, David Rose had multiple articles of Jays merchandise in (the back of) his closet. Though, he only pulled them out when he wanted to make Patrick extra happy or he wanted the really, really good sex. 

With the pedicure and manicure complete, and David’s nerves ratcheting up a bit, he was whisked away to the massage. With each gentle press against his skin and the aroma of cloves, oranges and cardamom relaxing him, he smiled into the face hole of the massage chair. He couldn’t wait to spend the rest of his life with Patrick.

 

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴

 

Patrick wasn’t sure if the hand fan helped with the stifling humidity or if the exertion of moving it made him hotter. David should be there any minute. He stepped further back into the tree cover for some blissful shade as the sun lowered in the sky, but that didn’t stop him from sweating through his shirt and onto his jacket. It was the heat, not nerves. Probably mostly not nerves.

As soon as David arrived, the nerves would go away. He knew it. David’s presence always calmed him. 

Patrick opened his jacket to aim the fan underneath to release some of the trapped heat. He’d have been happy wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt, but David would’ve called off their engagement at the mere suggestion. He loved that man and his specific expectations so damn much.

David should be there any minute. Despite David’s tendency to run late for things, he knew this was a schedule David wouldn’t mess around with. The last few hours without David had been a good opportunity for him to reflect on how happy he was. How he couldn’t believe he’d gone from a shy kid nervous about inviting his friend, Rachel, to Homecoming after his friends pressured him, to a confident man engaged to another man. Two men who were very out with very public jobs. Life sure held surprises.

Voices caught Patrick’s attention. David. He smiled at the photographer as she took back the hand fan and slid it into her backpack.

“Ready?” she asked.

“Absolutely.” He straightened his jacket and pulled a tissue from his pocket to dab away the sweat from his temples. Stepping out from under the trees, he watched the path from the main resort buildings.

The moment suspended as he waited for David to appear. The ocean gently crashed against the sand nearby and a steady stream of clicks sounded from the nearby camera.

He caught a glimpse of pink between some plants, then David. Oh, David. Beautiful David.

David appeared around the bend of the path. His smile as wide as Patrick had ever seen. He was stunning. David hadn’t let Patrick see what he’d planned to wear, and now Patrick understood why. David didn’t wear color often, but he always seemed to on the important days. The jersey on the night they made it official, the flame sweater he’d worn hiking so Patrick could easily spot him if he got lost. And now, a pink pin-striped suit with a pleated skirt on their wedding day. Thom Browne, if Patrick had to guess. As David had picked up baseball knowledge from Patrick, he’d picked up fashion things from David.

Patrick was already fighting tears. 

David’s head was high, shoulders squared, and he radiated joy with each confident step toward Patrick. He’d never looked more stunning than in that moment. He held a bouquet of beautiful white flowers that Patrick could smell from feet away. Gardenia, maybe?

“You look incredible. Sky blue is one of my favorite colors on you,” David said. That’s exactly why he’d picked that suit. It had the same slim cut David had suggested last year when he’d helped Patrick choose something for that awards ceremony. He knew the moment David spotted the slight V to the dress shirt at his chest. David’s eyes went wide for a moment. He’d debated between a tie and bow tie, but at the end, went without. It was a beach wedding after all, and David had convinced him last year to try two buttons undone on his button-ups instead of one. “Love the shirt.”

“I thought you might.”

The camera kept clicking as Patrick pulled David into a hug. “I love you.”

David’s arms wrapped around his shoulders, and the petals on his bouquet tickled the skin behind his ear. “I love you so much, my soon-to-be husband.”

When they pulled back, David leaned in and kissed the corner of Patrick’s mouth. Instantly he was transported back to that charter flight lounge in Chicago. All nerves and doubt and want. Except this time, he wasn’t getting on a plane without David. This time he was marrying the man he loved.

“Are you sure you’re okay doing this without our families?” When David had suggested getting married in the Maldives, Patrick loved the idea, but worried David might regret doing it for the first time by themselves.

“Definitely. This is our place, and I want to marry you here.” David looked around wistfully. “This is where everything began. It’s my favorite place in the world.” David squeezed Patrick’s shoulder. “Other than our home.” Then his mouth shifted into that little smirk that Patrick loved so much. “And we’ll get married officially back home with all of our loved ones and pageantry that takes months and months to plan.”

“This ceremony might not be legally binding, but it’s the real one to me.”

“Me too,” David whispered. He stepped back and eyed Patrick again. “I can’t believe how good you look. I mean, I can, but damn.”

“Play your cards right and you might take me home at the end of the night.”

David grinned. “Good thing I’m great at cards.”

“I still can’t believe you wouldn’t let me wear the suit with the surfers on it. We’re getting married on a beach.”

David glared at him. “It had surfers on it.”

“It’s Thom Browne.”

David bared his teeth. “It’s very rude to use my weaknesses against me. On this, our wedding day, Mr. Brewer.”

“Soon to be Mr. Rose-Brewer.”

“Does that make you RBrew?” David tugged his bottom lip back with his front teeth.

David probably expected Patrick to laugh at that, but he couldn’t. RBrew? He loved it. He really loved it. He immediately wanted to get it tattooed across his pec or something. Maybe his bicep. 

David’s eyes widened. “God, you love that, don’t you? I was kidding!”

Patrick squeezed his hand. “You’re just going to have to cope with my level of sentimentality being off the charts today.” The words had Patrick’s intended impact because David absolutely melted.

“Are you gentlemen ready?”

Patrick grabbed David’s hand and looked into his eyes. “Absolutely.”

David pressed his lips together and nodded.

The wedding planner gestured for them to walk toward the balloon arch at the end of the dock. They walked between parallel rows of lit torches. They didn’t need the torches yet, but if their ceremony timed as they’d hoped, they’d be perfect for the walk back. A harpist was stationed at the beginning of the dock and played something Patrick knew was beautiful, but could barely hear over his pulse thundering in his ears. 

It wasn’t cold feet or doubt. It was excitement over getting to marry the most wonderful man he’d ever known. He focused on taking steady steps and even breaths and hoping his palm wasn’t too sweaty in David’s hand. 

The sun had almost reached the horizon when they reached the officiant at the end of the dock. 

“Good evening. We are gathered here today to celebrate the love of two people whose lives were ostensibly brought together by the fated flap of a butterfly wing,” the officiant said. “Or, a paddle boarding accident, as I’ve been told.”

David’s laugh and smile were radiant. 

As their officiant talked about the meaning of love, Patrick couldn’t take his eyes off of David. The way the fading sunlight highlighted the shades of brown in his eyes and the auburn hues in his hair. How the flickering torchlight made David’s engagement rings look even more gold against the green stems of his bouquet.

“And now I will ask you, David Rose and Patrick Brewer, to share your vows. Patrick?”

David’s eyes were already red around the rim. Patrick was sure his weren’t any better. “David.” All the words he’d memorized and practiced left him as he stared into David’s eyes. The man he’d soon call his husband. He looked down and laughed. “I can’t believe this is happening.” When he looked back up, he found David looking at him with complete, loving acceptance. His smile said more than words ever could. 

“I’m going to keep this very short because I think you already know that I would climb a thousand mountains and paddle board a million miles for you. So I’ll just say this. My love for you is as big as the CN Tower. It’s enough venti caramel macchiatos with extra shots to fill this ocean.” Patrick gestured to the water under their feet. “You make me feel right, David. I’ve never felt more myself than when I’m with you.”

He cleared the lump from his throat. “That first time we met, on this island in the library, I knew there was something about you. Something in me saw something in you I couldn’t ignore.” He smiled at David and hoped David could see the love there. “Thank you for taking a chance on me, taking a chance on us. I promise I’m going to make you so happy.”

“You already do,” David said, wiping tears from his long lashes. Patrick swiped under his own eyes too. 

“David?” The officiant prompted.

David’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “Patrick. When I came here two years ago, I was at my lowest. I was unhappy in love, in work, in life. Then you show up with those ugly board shorts and a smile that knocked the wind out of me.” 

Patrick reached out and rubbed his arm when fresh tears spilled from David’s eyes.

“You saw me for who I am, who I’d never felt brave enough to be. You make me feel safe, feel loved, feel whole.” David’s voice cracked. “It’s not been an easy road for me, but knowing that you will always be there for me at the end of it makes everything okay.”

Patrick’s throat tightened as he tried to prevent the heavy, joyful cry threatening to break free. 

“I would wear a Jays jersey every day for you.” David bit his lips together, and his dimples popped out. Patrick laughed. He loved that man so much. “I hope you won’t ask me to because that doesn’t seem very fair, but I’d do it if it meant making you happy. All I want is for you to be happy, and for me to be the one who gets to help you feel that way.”

Patrick’s heart swelled in his chest.

“Patrick, do you take David to be your husband?”

David pulled a gold ring from the little pocket on his jacket. Patrick held out his left hand and watched, transfixed, as David slid the ring on. He looked up and found unconditional love in David’s eyes. 

“I do.” Easiest decision of my life. The words from when he’d asked David to marry him echoed in his mind. It really was the easiest thing. Easier than breathing.

“David, do you take Patrick to be your husband?” 

Patrick pulled the gold ring from his pocket as David passed the bouquet from his left hand to his right. Patrick lifted David’s left hand and slid the ring on, then he kissed the knuckled on David’s ring finger, and David let out the happiest little sigh. He sucked in a breath at the sight of David’s ring-clad finger next to his.

“I do,” David said with a confident jerk of his head.

“I now pronounce you husband and husband. You may kiss each other.”

David handed the bouquet to the officiant, then wrapped his arms around Patrick’s shoulders, where they belonged, as Patrick pulled David in by the waist. The kiss was brief, but filled with a lifetime of promise. 

“Congratulations, Mr. and Mr. Rose-Brewer.” The officiant handed the flowers back to David.

David and Patrick smiled at each other for what felt like hours. Eventually, they turned and walked back down the dock, hand-in-hand, listening to the harpist play what sounded a lot like Mariah’s Always be my Baby. 

“We’re married. Basically,” David said with a shake of his hand and a flick of the bouquet as they reached the sand.

“We’re married,” Patrick agreed.

They were whisked around the island for photos and then taken to a private dining setup not unlike the one Patrick had arranged two years ago. Instead of how that one had been tinged with sadness and grief over what might have been, this one marked a beginning for both of them. Together.

The dinner was perfect. They fed each other from each course served family style, and David only made one or two half-hearted grumbles about sitting at sides of the square table next to each other instead of across. They held hands the entire time unless the food required two hands. 

Their jackets hung from the backs of their chairs and their shoes and socks sat forgotten to the side as they played footsie in the sand. David had loosened his pink tied and unbuttoned his shirt. He’d even let Patrick roll the sleeves up, despite it being incorrect for such an expensive shirt. Their looks turned more heated and lingering as dinner progressed. He couldn’t wait to get his husband back to their room.

Diner was perfect. The ceremony was perfect. The day was perfect.

David was perfect.

“Tell me something you’ve never told anyone,” Patrick said.

David smirked, then looked out at the water. “I never wanted to get married.”

That surprised Patrick. David loved rom-coms and romance and had thrown himself into planning this trip and their official wedding next month. “You didn’t?”

David shook his head. “I wanted someone to want to marry me, but I never let myself actually want it for myself. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to, let alone it lasting. Marriages don’t seem to last in Hollywood.”

“Your parents’ marriage has.”

“An anomaly. Hopefully, a genetic one.”

Patrick squeezed David’s hand. 

“After meeting you, I let myself want that. Two years ago was the first time I let myself hope for happiness. You gave me that.”

He leaned over and kissed David. “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

David nodded. “Your turn.”

“Actually, it’s the thing I wanted to tell you when we played this game last time.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“It’s about baseball.”

“Ah.” David laughed softly. “What about it?”

“I nearly quit playing in high school. I hated it. I hated it so much. Hockey was way more fun.”

“Why didn’t you quit?” David leaned back against his chair and angled his body toward Patrick.

“My dad would’ve been so disappointed. He always wanted to play baseball growing up, but his school didn’t have a team. It’s not that my parents were those intense sports parents who push their failed dreams on their kids. I think it was a self-imposed pressure. Maybe part of being an only child? Knowing that there weren’t any other siblings to share the burden of what my parents hoped for.”

“That’s a big burden for a kid.”

Patrick shrugged. “It worked out in the end.” He studied David. The loose drape of his tie, the relaxed tilt of his shoulders, the soft curve of his lips. “I’m glad I didn’t quit because I never would have met you. If I wasn’t playing for the Jays, I wouldn’t have had the money to come here two years ago.” That train of thought terrified him. “I want to think that the universe would have thrown us together eventually, but I’m really glad I didn’t have to test that.”

David picked up their joined hands and kissed each of Patrick’s knuckles. “Thank you for telling me.”

After another round of champagne, they finished dinner and thanked the staff for making their special day amazing. They walked back to their villa giggling from the bubbles and hanging on to each other. 

When they reached the door, David leaned against it and trailed his finger down the V of Patrick’s button-up. “Who’s doing the bridal carry?”

Patrick crowded against David and covered David’s hand with his own while he rummaged in his pocket for the room key with his other hand. “How about we walk in together?”

David practically melted in his arms. “I like that.”

He got the door open, and it was more of a stumbling inside than a purposeful crossing of a threshold hand-in-hand, but in moments the door was locked and Patrick had David crowded up against the other side of it. 

“Too many clothes, Mr. Rose-Brewer.” David plucked at Patrick’s shoulders.

He knew he would never tire of hearing their joint names. Though they planned to legally changed them to that, he liked that they’d agreed to keep their separate names publicly. He liked they could keep something for themselves, something private.

“I can help with that.” Patrick dropped to his knees and slid his hands up David’s thighs like he’d wanted to all evening. With each step David had taken, his skirt swished tantalizingly against his legs, drawing Patrick in like a moth to a flame. 

“We really should shower first,” David said breathlessly, as his fingers found their way into Patrick’s hair.

“We will.” He knew what he wanted to do to David, with David, and that David always enjoyed those things more if he felt clean. But he also knew David was a slut for a dirty blow job after a sweaty workout. Giving and receiving. “Can I suck you first? Just a little bit.”

David growled. “You don’t play fair.”

Patrick kept his eyes trained on David’s face as licked the front of David’s thigh while pushing the heavy skirt higher. “Pretty please? A teensy taste before we shower?” He loved David’s musk.

“One lick.” David tugged on his bottom lip with his front teeth as he looked down at Patrick.

“One lick.” As he moved his hands higher, he expected to hit the hem of David’s usual boxer-briefs, but all he met was skin and hair. He kept traveling north.

“I have a wedding night surprise for you.” David smirked.

Commando? He didn’t feel a garter belt, and he should’ve hit one by now. No, there were underwear. Oh. Briefs. Tiny ones. He lifted David’s skirt and made an inhumane sound. David had on blue Jays briefs. The bird perched obscenely over David’s dick with the waistband reading “Blue Jays” in big letters. 

“David… ” He probably should be embarrassed by how much it affected him to see David in anything with a Jays logo. It probably qualified as an official kink. If he had enough brain cells working at the moment, he would be embarrassed. “This is a great surprise.”

“Good. I definitely sweated enough in this humidity that they may need to be burned, but I hope you enjoy this one-off thing that will never happen again.”

Patrick bet himself that within six months he’d have David sprawled out on their bed in his jersey and those little briefs, tied to the four corners, begging for Patrick to let him come. “Okay, David.”

David rolled his eyes but sucked in a breath when Patrick palmed his half-hard cock over the underwear. David widened his stance. 

Patrick took one more look at the underwear, then draped the skirt over his head so he could use both hands to pull the underwear down. It was hot and musky, and he loved it. With the underwear at David’s ankles, he gripped David’s cock in one hand and his balls in the other. He’d give David one lick, all right. He let the saliva pool on his tongue, then lifted David’s balls. He licked from David’s perineum, over his balls, up the shaft of his dick, then circled David’s cockhead with his tongue.

“Oh, fuck.” David lifted his skirt and stared down at Patrick. “So good.”

Patrick reluctantly sat back on his haunches. “Shower? I’d like to get you naked and consummate our marriage.”

“Ew. Consummate is the least sexy word of all time. But, yes, let’s do all of that.” 

They stripped in a hurry, but Patrick made sure to carefully lay the clothes on the bench so David didn’t get distracted by a pile of designer pieces. 

Patrick spotted a bucket of champagne on the table. “Is that part of the wedding package?” 

“No. The rose petals and champagne when we got here were part of the package.” David strode over to it and picked up the card. “Aww.”

“What?” Patrick kissed the back of David’s shoulder. 

“It’s from Becca and Mike. There’s also a note that says Stevie and Alexis are having brunch delivered tomorrow.”

Patrick smiled against David’s neck. “We have the best friends.”

David turned his head and kissed Patrick. “We do.”

While David started the shower, Patrick swished some mouthwash and grabbed a small bottle of lube from his toiletry bag. He joined David and waved the bottle.

“Are you hoping that’s for me or you?”

“I was thinking you, but I’m easy.” He gravitated toward David, wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling until David’s cock brushed his hip.

“Mm, yeah you are.” He nipped at Patrick’s ear. “I wanted to get inside you tonight.” David squeezed Patrick’s ass. “But how about we start our marriage with a compromise? We can take turns.”

Patrick dropped the lube as he growled and wrapped his other arm around David’s waist to grip his ass with both hands. “I love your ideas.”

They washed the sweat from each other’s skin and hair between passionate kisses. Patrick turned and bent over to pick up the lube and moaned as David rubbed a finger against Patrick’s hole.

“Yeah. Do it.” Patrick passed the lube up to David, then placed his palms on the tops of his feet, David pushed one finger in and quickly worked to two on his right hand while he steadied Patrick’s hip with his left. Before David moved to three, Patrick stood before the blood rushed to his head. 

David pushed Patrick against the shower wall until his chest pressed against it. David had one hand on Patrick’s shoulder while he pushed three fingers into him. He kissed Patrick’s neck and whispered praises in his ear. 

As soon as Patrick felt ready, he spun in David’s arms and kissed him. He lubed up his own fingers and reached around, fingering David open while they made out in the shower. He loved every second of it.

“I’m good. I’m good,” David whined in his ear. “Let’s go to bed.”

Patrick took extra care in drying David off after David mumbled about not getting the bed all wet again. 

After a few minutes, David pushed the towel away. “Oh my god, I’ve been dry for three hours! Sex. Now.” David grabbed Patrick’s wrist and pulled him across the deck and into their room. 

David pulled back the duvet, and Patrick draped a towel on the sheet. As soon as he straightened up, David dropped to his knees and gripped Patrick’s cock. “Can I?”

Patrick nodded. “You can do whatever you like.”

David licked long stripes and got it nice and sloppy before he swallowed it down. 

Patrick clutched David’s wet hair to hold on. “Fuck. Oh, fuck, your mouth. So good.” David didn’t hold back. He used just the right amount of pressure at the right moments to drive Patrick wild. He employed every trick he’d learned in the two years since they’d met to make Patrick fall apart.

Between the emotions of the day and how damn happy Patrick was, how incredible David looked in his suit, and how fucking good his mouth felt, Patrick hurtled alarmingly fast toward climax. 

“Stop, stop.” He gently tugged back on David’s hair until he pulled off.

David looked up at him with glassy eyes; lips shiny and red. 

“Don’t want to come yet.” He needed to get inside David first. Patrick pulled David to his feet, then pushed him back on the bed. He climbed on the bed and settled between David’s legs. 

“Somebody’s excited.” David’s raven curls spilled onto the white pillow.

Patrick stroked David’s rock-hard cock. “Talking about you or me?”

David grinned. He loved how fun sex with David was. Sometimes they made love. Sometimes they fucked. Sometimes it was a little of both. Patrick loved all variations of their sex because no matter how rough and filthy they got, or how slow and tender it was, it was always fun.

Patrick needed inside of his husband. Needed to feel David’s tight heat around him. “Like this?”

David nodded. “Want to see you.”

Patrick leaned down and kissed his husband. “Me too.” He sat back and lubed himself up with the bottle on the nightstand. “You know what I was thinking about earlier?”

David wrapped his legs around Patrick’s waist. “Hmm?”

He reached between them and lined his cock up with David’s hole and pushed the head in, then lowered himself onto David. He knew how much David loved to feel his weight. “That night you first came to Toronto.” He pushed in, and they both moaned.

Patrick stilled while David adjusted. “I thought about marrying you that night.”

David’s mouth fell open and eyes widened, but then his eyes fluttered closed as Patrick pulled most of the way out, then pushed back in again. “Impossible.” David clutched Patrick’s shoulders and angled his hips to meet each thrust.

“Thought that a man who would rearrange his entire life to take a chance on me was worth marrying.” He pushed in hard, and David propped a palm against the headboard for leverage. “I love being right.”

David laughed. He closed his eyes, tilted his head back and laughed openly, freely, as he took pleasure. Patrick couldn’t resist kissing the exposed skin of his neck.

Patrick did everything he knew David loved. Vigorous kisses, short, deep thrusts, swiveling his hips to brush David’s prostate. Within minutes, David thrashed on the bed. Completely lost to it.

When Patrick had first met David, he’d been fairly relaxed on his vacation. But once they’d settled in their normal lives, he saw how David was with other people. How he restrained himself unless he was intentionally over-the-top for work. But with Patrick? He’d never been like that. David had let Patrick see the real him from the start. Moody moments, anxiety, weighed down by emotions he didn’t know how to process, determined and focused, and so wrapped up in pleasure that he could barely form words beyond “more” and “yes” and “harder” and “love you.”

Watching David fall apart underneath him sent Patrick over the edge. His body tensed, and he slammed into David one more time as he spilled inside of him. David wrapped his arms around Patrick’s shoulders and tightened his legs until Patrick was completely consumed by David. He tucked his face into the crook of David’s neck and made stunted, sporadic thrusts as he worked through the aftershocks. 

“Love watching you come, baby,” David said, panting in his ear. 

Once Patrick could think again, he kissed a path from David’s shoulders to his lush lips. “Love watching you feel good. It turns me on.” He licked into David’s mouth. “You turn me on.” If only his refractory period worked in time with his desires.

David rocked his hips, and his cock slid between their sweat-covered skin. 

Eventually, he pulled back and lubed up David’s dick. He hadn’t understood the appeal of getting fucked after orgasm until David had showed him. Now he loved it so damn much. The oversensitivity, his nerves still on fire, being pushed that much further until he felt raw. “How do you want me?”

“Mm, like this.” David shifted until Patrick’s soft dick fell out of him. 

Patrick sat up and straddled David’s hips to hover over David’s cock. 

David gripped his hip and guided him down, hissing as Patrick engulfed him. “So tight.”

Patrick clutched at the top of the headboard. “You’re so deep.” He swiveled his hips while he acclimated to the stretch.

“Remember our first time in this bed?” David scratched his nails down Patrick’s sides, which sent a shiver through him.

“How could I forget?”

“You on top. Me drooling over your thighs and ass.”

“Some things never change.” Patrick smiled down at him.

“No condoms this time this time too.” 

“Good thing we don’t need ‘em.” He remembered every single use of the two boxes of Maldives condoms. During the trip and once they’d reconnected, but he especially loved going bare. Both ways. The first sex they’d had after they decided to stop using them had been top five, for sure.

He lifted up and dropped back down onto David. Over and over.

“Wanted this so badly that night.” David ran his hands all over Patrick’s body. 

“Yeah? Wanted to get that big dick in me?” Patrick’s eyes rolled back in his head as David nailed his prostate.

“Wanted to bend you over that chair and grab your wrists and pound you with those blue pants around your thighs.”

“Oh fuck. David.” Their dirty talk always sent him over the edge. “We can do that later.”

“Taking me so good. Letting me pound that tight little ass.” David’s words were choppy and breathy.

Patrick lost himself to it. To David using his body to feel good, to making Patrick feel good. He couldn’t hold himself up any longer, so he collapsed onto David’s chest. His arms bracketed David’s head. 

David reached down and cupped Patrick’s ass, spreading his cheeks apart. Patrick held on as David planted his feet and fucked up into him with powerful thrusts. He grunted each time David’s pelvis grazed his ass. 

“Yeah, fuck.” David quickened his pace. “So good. Feels so good.” 

Patrick knew David was close by the breathy little whines coming out of him. He gathered his wits about him to make it really good for David. He wanted their first time as husbands to be top five. It already was for him. “Love my husband fucking me. Making me yours.” He pushed back against David’s hips at each thrust. 

“Husband.” David arched into Patrick and moaned long and loud as he came.

Patrick rocked his hips front-and-back, side-to-side, working David through his orgasm. He felt come drip out of him when David’s softening cock slipped out.

“Husband,” David said again, wrapping his arms around Patrick’s waist and squeezing. 

“Husband, I think we should go shower before we fall asleep all sticky,” Patrick said. He chuckled when David made a whiny sound. “Unless you want them to come and change the bedding again tomorrow?”

“Ugh. Fine. But only because I want to cuddle with you for a while. Maybe we can crack open that champagne?” David waggled his eyebrows.

“Love that idea. Let’s go.”

After they lingered in the shower and opened the champagne, they took it out to the pool. Patrick sat on the bench in the water, and David sat on his lap, facing him, legs wrapped around Patrick’s waist. David reached over David’s shoulders to pour them both a glass of champagne.

“To a lifetime of happiness with my favorite person,” Patrick said.

David clinked his glass against Patrick’s. “To our lifetime of happiness together.”

They kissed lazily between sips.

“Today has been perfect,” David said as he refilled their glasses. 

“It has been. I couldn’t ask for a better day.” Patrick took a long sip and enjoyed how the bubbles made him feel. “Excited for our wedding and reception back home?”

David tangled his fingers in Patrick’s hair. “I am. Think we should go with the same vows or mix it up a little?”

“I might sing to you this time.”

“Oh, absolutely not!”

Patrick grinned up at David. The moonlight illuminated the stubble of his cheek and the water droplets sliding down his shoulders. “A few guys on the team have decent voices. I’m sure it’s not too last minute for us to work on a piece in the next few weeks.”

“I’ve been to karaoke with your team and none of them have decent voices. Present company excluded, of course.”

“But what if my one wish for our wedding next month is to sing a barbershop style song to you with Nate and Jarod?”

“Then I think you’ll be finding another groom.”

“Aww, baby, don’t be like that.” Patrick couldn’t hold the laughter in any longer.

“Besides, your one thing is having the mascot attend.”

Patrick’s laughter made little waves in the water. “I still can’t believe you agreed to that.”

“It’s not my fault your blow job skills are very convincing.” David began laughing too.

That was going to be their life, wasn’t it? Laughter and teasing and love. So much love. He set his glass down and did the same with David’s, then pulled him in for another kiss.