David calls them while Patrick’s at rehearsal. It’s the window of time where Patrick is most guaranteed to be out of the apartment, and he’s recruited Stevie to text him if rehearsal ends early, or, “if, like, someone finally decides to perpetrate a perfectly valid act of arson against that ungodly building and you all have to flee for safety”. All he’s told her is that he’s planning a surprise for Patrick.
Marcy answers on the first ring. “David!”
David is prepared to have to say it’s David, your son’s boyfriend, so he’s thrown by the recognition. Maybe she saved his number after their one previous conversation. Who does that? Brewers, obviously; he’s pretty sure Patrick saved his number after those voicemails. “Hi, Mrs. Brewer. Is now a good time?”
“It is - we just got home from work so we’re both relaxing on the patio before we start dinner prep. I don’t suppose you’re calling to invite us to another surprise party, are you? I could go grab my desk calendar and check our availability-”
David laughs. “No, unfortunately I think Patrick’s not going to be surprised again that quickly. I’m really sorry you couldn’t make it.”
“We are too. That darned car! Always has its little temper tantrums right when it’s most inconvenient. We’re just glad someone thought to take a few photos. It looked like a lovely evening.”
Apparently shitty cars run in the Brewer family. After all the secrecy and tiptoeing around to which David had resorted in order to give his boyfriend the surprise birthday party of a lifetime, the real surprise - bringing his parents to town - had fallen through at the last minute. David had decided not to tell Patrick at all so that he wouldn’t spend the whole night moping about his parents’ absence.
“Well, hopefully,” he says, and he’d thought he’d be nervous, but he can’t stop grinning, “there’ll be an occasion for you to come to town soon anyway.”
“Oh?” He hears some shuffling noises, and then the quality of the call changes as Marcy puts him on speakerphone. “Is there a big event at the store?”
“No, not exactly. Um, actually, I am... planning to propose.”
There’s a brief pause, of pleasant shock he hopes, and then Clint chuckles, “Congratulations, David! Who’s the lucky proposee?”
David rolls his eyes. He’d be annoyed if it weren’t so Brewer to play dumb, to tease him just as he’s trying to be emotionally vulnerable. “Yes, haha. Anyway, I know it’s kind of an antiquated notion to ask for permission, but I know how Patrick values your opinion, so I’d - I’m - Mr. and Mrs. Brewer, I’d like your blessing, if you - if that would be okay.”
“David, I’m sorry, I’m still not understanding - what does this have to do with Patrick? Will you leave the store once you’re married, or-”
“Okay, I have to say, if this is a front because Patrick is also proposing and he’s sworn you to secrecy, I am very impressed,” David says.
Clint clears his throat. “Marcy-”
Marcy gasps. “Oh-”
David gets it all at once. He understands that this is not about teasing David in the Brewer family way; this is not a ruse to protect Patrick’s competing proposal.
They genuinely don’t know.
He’s called to ask for their blessing to marry their son and they don’t know that their son has been dating David.
“Oh god,” he blurts.
“David,” Marcy says.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry, there has been - there has been a big misunderstanding, just- just disregard everything I just said-”
“David, that’s not-”
“I was going to propose a store expansion to Patrick,” he says desperately, fumbling, “and you know how uptight he can be about the, um, the finances, and everything, and I figured - I figured your support might convince him to - might-”
“David, we’re fine with-”
“But this was obviously not appropriate, like, involving his parents in our business affairs?! So inappropriate. Please don’t mention this to him. Um, sorry for disrupting your evening. Okay, byeee!”
He sits at Patrick’s kitchen table as the apartment gets dark, ignoring the way his phone vibrates with missed calls. He’d hoped to cook a I just successfully asked your parents for their blessing and you have no idea meal for Patrick, but he can’t seem to make himself move, and so when Patrick arrives home, David’s first thought is fuck, I hope he has something good in the freezer.
“Working on your tan?” Patrick, this walking dad joke whom David wants to marry, asks as he flicks on the overhead light.
“Mhm. How was rehearsal?”
“Better, though there’s this part of Two Ladies that I just can’t nail-” He toes his shoes off and drops his bag by the coat rack, frowning at David. “What’s wrong? Not even a scolding for that thinly veiled innuendo?”
“It was very thinly veiled,” David acknowledges, because he hadn’t really been listening. He’s spent the last hour panicking and he’s still got nothing. “Um. Have you. Have you talked to your parents lately, by any chance?”
“You know, I actually missed a call from my mom while I was driving back from rehearsal - I might call her back if you don’t mind waiting a bit for dinner-”
“No!” David cries, springing up from his seat.
Patrick glances up from his phone. “Wow, David, you could’ve had a snack if you were that hungry.”
“No, that’s not-” David clenches his fists and grimaces at the ceiling. “Oh my god. I am very tempted to lie to you about this and I hope we can both celebrate that I am not doing that.”
“Celebrate...you telling the truth?”
“Yes. Um - I think you should sit down. Just... not on the couch. You’re very sweaty.”
“Is everything okay?” Patrick asks as he sinks into David’s recently vacated chair. Then, “Oh god, are my parents okay?” as he rises back up out of it.
“Yes,” David assures him, pushing him down by the shoulders. “In the ways that really matter, yes, they’re fine.”
Patrick eyes him sideways. “What does that mean?”
“Okay, so, you had a lot of fun at your surprise birthday party, right?”
“I did,” Patrick grins, face growing soft at the memory. He reaches out to handle David’s hips, drawing him nearer. “I was genuinely surprised. Which is very impressive considering your family, no offense.”
“Oh, god, no, I’m well aware. It was a minor miracle. So, I might’ve been planning another surprise for you-”
“Is it a sexy surprise?” Patrick teases.
“Possibly,” David wheedles, because he does not want them to get off-track. “It - has the potential to get there eventually, for sure. But, um, as part of this surprise, I needed to... contact your parents.”
“Uh-huh,” Patrick says, and David, gazing as he is at his boyfriend, doesn’t miss the way his face falls a little.
“And it kind of came out that - I didn’t realize until - do they know?” he asks, begs, inelegantly. “About me? About...us?”
Patrick’s hands slip from David’s hip and he lets out a sharp sigh, his head tilting so he’s looking at the ground between their feet. It’s all the confirmation David needs.
“Okay,” David says, nodding rapidly, turning to pace the tiny kitchen. “Okay. So every time they called the store, they thought I was just your business partner. And when I invited them to your birthday-”
Patrick looks up sharply. “You invited them to my birthday?”
“I did,” David admits. “It - it fell through at the last minute, and I didn’t want that to hang over you, but they - they were very sorry they couldn’t come.”
“I can’t believe you did that for me,” Patrick murmurs. His face twists. “Meanwhile I’ve been - I haven’t even-”
“No no no,” David says quickly, crouching hurriedly in front of Patrick. “Honey, you don’t have to-”
“I wanted to tell them in person,” Patrick says pleadingly, grasping David’s hands. “I don’t know how to - a phone call just didn’t seem - David, I don’t want you to think for a second that I am ashamed of you-”
“What are you ashamed of?” David whispers.
Patrick’s face pinches and a tear escapes down his cheek. David wipes it away with his thumb and leaves his hand there, cradling Patrick’s face. “I know my parents are good people,” Patrick says brokenly. “I just - I can’t shake this fear that - that there’s a small chance that this will change everything. Even after all the love and support I’ve known in this town, from your family, from our customers, it’s still - they’re still so important to me, and if they don’t-”
David can’t properly hug him from this position, so he settles for stroking his face a little, squeezing his knee.
“But I will tell them,” Patrick presses on, so characteristically more concerned with next steps than with feeling the intensity of this. “I want them to know, David. I want them to know me, and to know you.”
“Mhm, and that’s - I mean, this is very personal, and you should only come out when or if or how you want to,” David says carefully, “but, um. It might not - that ship... might have sailed.”
Patrick’s jaw shifts like it does when he’s catching up on something. “Huh. This wouldn’t have anything to do with the surprise you said you called them about, would it?”
“Okay,” David groans, tilting his head to the ceiling again, “there’s a chance they just think I’m your insane business partner who’s been harboring an unrequited love and is planning to propose out of the blue? So we could run with that narrative? But, um, barring that, I - I think the cat’s out of the knockoff Prada.”
A grin burgeons across Patrick’s face. “David. You called my parents to ask for their blessing?”
“Maybe! I can’t really - it’s supposed to be a fucking secret! Why are you laughing?!”
“Because I asked Stevie for her blessing two days ago!” Patrick wipes his sleeve across his eyes, his tears of anguish now mixing with ones of amusement.
“You were going to propose?” David asks, voice going up an octave mid-sentence.
“Still am, I hope.” Patrick tugs on David’s hands gently, pulling him into Patrick’s lap. “If this hasn’t totally messed things up for us.”
David shakes his head vehemently. “No. Definitely not. I mean, as long as you don’t feel like I’ve totally messed things up.”
“You haven’t,” Patrick insists, squeezing David’s waist. “You couldn’t have known. It - I should’ve told them long ago. For what it’s worth, I sometimes get so - so focused on us, on imagining our future together, that I forget that there’s still this - this big thing I have to do.”
David’s fairly sure he’ll cry if he answers that, so he just hums.
“I almost called them before I asked Stevie,” Patrick says, his gaze flicking between David’s eyes. “I sat down three times to do it. It’s this - big, joyous moment, and I wanted to share it with them. And I wanted to go into it with you knowing that they knew. But I - I started thinking about how much I’ve kept from them, and I started wondering if I’d have to lie to them for the rest of my life, and I-”
He’s spiralling - takes one to know one - so David holds his face in both hands, inhales deeply as he rubs tiny circles at Patrick’s temples. “I think they might’ve noticed. Your mom follows us on Instagram. You would’ve had to invent a fake wife once she noticed the rings.”
“I will call them first thing in the morning,” Patrick promises. “It’s time. It’s past time.”
“Whatever you want,” David murmurs, kissing Patrick’s temple.
“Well, right now I want the frozen lasagna Jocelyn gave me last week,” Patrick says, patting David’s thigh and urging him up.
“Oh my god, maybe I’ll propose to Jocelyn instead,” David moans.
“Don’t you dare,” Patrick says.
Patrick is laying tense beside him in bed, and David knows there’s little chance they’ll actually get much sleep tonight, so he rolls over to finally look at the missed calls and messages he’s been avoiding all night.
The number of missed calls by Marcy’s name is terrifying, so he clicks on Stevie’s texts instead.
Stevie: Hey dingus, Patrick’s mom called the motel. She said to tell you to check your texts and that it’s all okay. She told me she liked my name.
He cannot handle the chain of thoughts that follow - Marcy knowing enough about David through Patrick to know to contact the motel, even though all she’s ever heard was through the frame of a business partner; Marcy searching online to find the motel’s information, finding the website Stevie and his dad have built; Marcy calling the front desk and leaving a message with Stevie.
He squeezes his eyes shut and counts to ten before opening Marcy’s text.
The message starts with Dear David, and he doesn’t know if the dear is an adjective or a salutation, but either way it makes his breath hitch a little.
iMessage: Mrs. Brewer
Marcy: Dear David, Clint and I got the impression that there was some information we were missing that made that conversation awkward or even painful for you. I’m so sorry for that. I want you to know that we love Patrick and we always will, and while we don’t know you very well, we know you are committed and caring and creative and loyal. Patrick would be lucky to love and be loved by someone like that. No pressure on either of you, but if there’s anything you want us to know, we are here. Love, Marcy.
He doesn’t realize he’s crying until Patrick rolls over, tucking himself around David’s back. “You okay?”
He hesitates, then hands the message over his shoulder. Patrick reads it with his nose pressed to David’s shoulder, so David can feel when he, too, starts to cry.
“You could call them,” David whispers.
“It’s late.” Patrick hands the phone back to David. “Though if I know my parents, neither of them are getting much sleep right now either.”
He rolls over until he can reach his own phone on the nightstand, then scooches to the end of the bed.
“Do you want me to...go take a walk or something?” David asks.
“No, I-” Patrick looks back at him, extends a hand. “I’d like you here, if that’s okay.”
So David curls himself around Patrick, nosing at his pulse as the phone rings, speakerphone loud in the darkened apartment..
“Patrick?” Marcy sounds a little frantic. “Is everything okay?”
Patrick glances down at David, and just like that, they’re both crying again.
“Yeah, Mom,” Patrick says. “I think it is. I’m sorry to call so late, but - is Dad there, too? I’m - I’m here with David, and I’d like to just - talk to you both.”
They talk until past 1AM. David knows opening the store will be hell tomorrow, but he can’t entirely bring himself to care, not with the way Patrick hugs him so tightly he makes a snarky comment about waist training, not with the way Patrick beams at the ceiling until he’s suddenly asleep, sprawled across the bed, snoring and peaceful.
There’s a new text from Marcy.
iMessage: Mrs. Brewer
Marcy: Thank you, David.
Marcy: We look forward to getting to know you. Welcome to the family.
He wants to text back that she’s jinxing it, that no one’s proposed to anyone yet. But they both know - even Marcy, who hadn’t known her son was gay until a few hours ago - they both know this is a done deal.
iMessage: Mrs. Brewer
Marcy: By the way - you have our wholehearted blessing.
He plugs his phone back in and snuggles up to Patrick’s side.