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Bashert

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They flopped onto their backs still somewhat tangled in the bedsheets. Bedsheets now stained figuratively and literally by their lovemaking. From the very start their deep mutual attraction was simultaneously undeniable and impossible. With their hands desperately clasped together, they tried to slow their rabbiting heartbeats which otherwise would have made an EMT panic. As both men slowly returned to this world, the inevitable reality came crashing back. Save for their slightly labored breathing, they were silent. Words expressing their true emotion or the situation they found themselves in were a waste anyway. After what seemed like a lifetime, each man finally uttered a single word sounding almost like a whispered homily.

“David.”
“Patrick.”

The vacuum created in their room took over the space again until it was eventually driven away by David’s sobbing. It started out so softly but grew louder and more out of control with each passing moment. Patrick tried to comfort him with gentle caresses but it clearly didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse. So much so, David finally extricated himself from their deceitful bed before quickly pulling on his clothes.

“David? Where are you going? What’s wrong?” Patrick sat up and focused on the devastatingly beautiful man now fully dressed in his ridiculously inappropriate for summer clothing. Topped off with a leather jacket. In August.

“I have to go. I can’t do this anymore.” David sputtered before turning toward the door.

Patrick felt David’s turmoil from across the room, watching as he wiped his eyes and nose before having another involuntary full body shudder.

“Wait! Why?? What happened? Did I say something to upset you?” Patrick bolted over to him still naked. And maybe a little sticky.

“No. Well, yes. Maybe. I don’t know...” David did everything in his power to avoid looking into those huge caramel eyes as he strode purposefully toward the door.

“David, if I did anything to hurt you, I’m really really sorry. You know I’d never do that to you on purpose. But if you don’t want me setting you off again you gotta tell me what I did.”

“You did nothing Patrick. Nothing.” The last ‘nothing’ was pointed and callous. Punctuated even further by the zipping of his leather jacket.

“Then why are you leaving?”

“Oh I don’t know! Why do you think? Could it be maybe this time I’d prefer not to delay the inevitable? We both know how this always plays out. And it’s not like you won’t be going home soon anyway, right?”

“David, please...”. David spun around instantly and they locked eyes.

“Please WHAT, Patrick? Stay here and pretend to happily bask in the afterglow with you? Share some phony plans for an even phonier future? Feel my heart shatter in my chest over and over again? Then what? Then get the sheer torture of watching you leave and go back to her? No. Thanks.”

“David...we both knew my situation going into this. Every day it keeps me from you and I hate it! And I hate it even more because I know how much it’s hurting you. But you know what? It’s hurting me too! So sooo much. But we both definitely know under the circumstances things can’t just change no matter how much we want them to.”

Patrick’s jaw began to quiver but he went on which was his second mistake of the day.

“C’mon. You know how I feel about you. And about her. What I don’t understand is why it’s turning into an issue now? I’m sorry but this is all a little unexpected. And this reaction is a lot...even for you. Up until now you seemed fine with it. Fine with us.”

“Well maybe I’m not anymore. I tried to force myself to believe I was fine. And I thought I could handle this. I thought I could be happy with getting whatever you could spare. Well guess what Patrick? I’m not! I’m not happy! Maybe I fooled myself before when I used to hook up with people already in relationships. But here’s a newsflash for you. That was a lifetime ago when I didn’t care. I can admit I was broken back then but now that I’ve met you? Now that I’ve had...this? I...I can’t. I can’t. And I won’t. Nope.”

“Can you at least tell me why is it so different now?” Patrick shifted his focus to a tiny spot on the floor all the while dreading to hear David’s answer.

“Because I’m fucking in love with you!” David blurted. As soon as his brain registered the words as they came out, his eyes went wide before immediately slapping his hand over his mouth albeit way too late. The color drained from his face and he started feeling a little dizzy.

Patrick’s eyes snapped back up to David’s. The tension hung in the room as they remained frozen staring at each other until Patrick finally crumbled back onto the bed with his own tears welling up and planning their escape. What he said next was almost inaudible.

“What do you want from me?”

“A little more than I can ever have.”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t very long ago when David Rose could get almost anything he wanted. He and his sister Alexis grew up privileged. In a massive home complete with servants. Unlike their father Johnny who started from nothing but built his empire. Unlike their mother Moira who fought her way out of some little backwater town in order to plant herself into the much bigger life she envisioned. David and Alexis would want for nothing except for their parents' attention. Johnny and Moira were able to provide this lifestyle to their children so if not actually being there for them was the sacrifice, it was a small price to pay for the greater good. Since they lived without ever knowing the need to manage surviving within a budget, the root difference between children and parents was subtle yet all too obvious. Especially when David and Alexis interacted with the rest of the world.

The siblings also happened to be physically beautiful. There’s a serious problem with beauty though. It automatically opens doors. Doors that people with asymmetrical faces or less than ideal bodies could never approach, much less enter. So if you are blessed with perfect genes you not only get through that first door, you expect to get through every other door that follows. But because God divides, David and Alexis were also entitled. Judgmental. Selfish. Practically unlikable much less lovable in their current iterations. Granted, it didn’t help that their parents spent precious little time raising them but by the time they reached adulthood, the damage had already been done.

So yeah, David could get almost everything he wanted. Like designer clothes almost the very second they walked off the runway. Travel to exotic far off places around the globe the rest of us could only dream about. Scores of gorgeous but equally damaged paramours. David could get all of it with the wave of a hand, the arch of an eyebrow, or the swipe of a credit card. In other words, the barest minimum effort. A life like that may be enviable but it’s bound to have an effect on the soul within. And it did.

David was so much more introverted than Alexis. In any given situation, she was adventurous. He was terrified. She was laissez-faire, he was easy to upset. So he shouldn’t have been the least bit surprised that Alexis was always surrounded by people and he was almost always alone. On the rare occasions when he was the one surrounded by people, they likely may have loved his black card more than they tolerated him. Both siblings shared bad luck with romantic partners however temporary. It's a given they were always at least equally attractive but they ended up being just as selfish. If not more so. Then there were the worst two members of the rogue's gallery. For Alexis it was the ambivalent shipping heir of vaguely royal Mediterranean descent. And for David, the honor went to “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named”. Possibly the most beautiful but heartless and emotionally abusive partner of all.

So while Alexis blithely traipsed all over the world in search of the next “cute” thing, David chose to isolate himself. He already tried distracting the emptiness with alcohol, trendy drugs, and random sex. None of which made his loneliness go away. If anything, they just made it worse. So the decision to cocoon was an easy one. But maybe it wasn't the best idea to overdose on sappy movies where the heroine always found the one thing he was missing. That only reinforced he’d probably never find it.

Something had to change. And for better or worse, it did.

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Meanwhile in what can only be referred to as opposite world, Patrick Brewer was raised in a modest home. Not poor but certainly not opulent. His parents Marcy and Clint loved him deeply and were actively involved in his upbringing. Therefore Patrick was so outgoing and friendly. Athletic. Musically talented. Unassumingly handsome. Studious if not overly logical and analytical. And he was dependable. Possibly a little too much so.

Needless to say he had a happy normal childhood. His parents heaped praise on his good grades or his winning home runs and goals. They were in the front row beaming when he performed in school plays or with his guitar. He had the pretty girl next door to kiss. Sounded perfect yet it wasn’t. For a man who seemed to have a whole perfect life going for him, he felt like a spectator watching from outside. He watched himself breeze through school, land a decent job, and finally seem to make his on again/off again relationship work.

Well, maybe not work exactly. All things considered, it definitely felt like it required more than a lot of effort. He realized he was definitely happier or at the very least relieved when they were broken up. His parents never pushed him either way but the constant reminders of how he and Rachael were destined to be together didn’t help sort his feelings in the least. Add the desperate need to please his family and it was the perfect storm. So while ignoring his screaming inner voice, this time bought the engagement ring.

He proposed. Granted, he felt what can only be described as numb but everyone was thrilled. He was doing the right thing. Making the life he should have. Giving himself to the girl he's known forever. Making her happy. So what if he didn't feel the same. These swirling emotions were just a little collateral damage, right? It's not like he could just break it off once and for all before packing up and leaving to start life anew. Could he? No. The wedding was in a few months. It would kill Rachael if he did something like that. His parents would be so disappointed. He could muddle through. Grin and bear it. Make it work. He was dependable Patrick, after all. There was virtually nothing he couldn’t handle.

Except for Rachael’s stroke.

Chapter Text

Of the two of them, Patrick knew Rachael was in much better physical condition. Sure, he was athletic but he was plagued with a stubbornly soft middle no thanks to his mother’s cooking and his love of beer. Not surprisingly, his intake of both increased considerably after he popped the question. Not in excess necessarily but they did help to take the edge off. Meanwhile if anything, Rachael exercised even more as soon as the ring was on her finger. Mostly because she wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of looking perfect in the dress.

She ran every morning and hit the gym at least five times a week on top of that. She was always thin and lithe but still insisted on showing her BMI who was boss. After a particularly strenuous day of an extended pre-dawn run and a lengthier already punishing workout routine, she returned home a little more flushed than usual. A quick shower and some Smart Water later, she sat on their sofa with her wedding book with every intention of finalizing the last few details before Patrick got home from work around six.

At 6:03, Patrick unlocked their front door and hung his keys on the hook. When he walked into the living room he saw Rachael slumped over with the wedding book sprawled on the floor. At first he thought she dozed off in the middle of choosing between white or silver linens. When he got closer he heard very labored breathing and saw her eyes were glassy with her mouth twisted to the side. He tried to rouse her and was greeted by a low moan. He punched 911 into his phone so hard he thought he cracked the screen.

The following few days were a whirlwind of emergency rooms and appointments with teams of doctors, cardiologists, and neurologists. They determined there was no major brain damage but she was paralyzed on her left side and still unable to speak. They were confident she could be treated successfully with physical therapy. She may never be 100% but she wouldn’t likely be confined to a wheelchair either. Her cardiologist also detected a congenital heart defect which required immediate surgery. Patrick never left her side.

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Very little is more indicative of having lived an obscenely decadent lifestyle than forgetting you were given an actual town on your sixteenth birthday. As a gag gift. But there’s also nothing more ironic than having it remain your sole possession. Or how humbling it is being forced to live there now. It was a desperate scramble to gather up as many worldly possessions the family was allowed to keep. The indignity of bringing these precious things to a battered roadside motel was surreal. Yet here they were with little chance of escape. This place was hardly worthy of housing horses much less the formerly wealthy Rose clan and their massive collection of couture togs.

They each had different mechanisms to cope with their shock and grief. Johnny was laser focused on coming up with a way to provide for the family. Moira was to put it bluntly, in deep, deep denial. Alexis flitted about the confines of their new home determined to make the best of it. David not surprisingly turned inward. He couldn’t believe this was where he would spend the rest of his days. In spite of their behavior, the townspeople were overly friendly almost to the point of being right out of an episode of the Twilight Zone. They welcomed this odd little family with open arms and no expectations of getting something in return. That’s when the strangest thing happened. The Roses relaxed.

Johnny continued to pursue several business ideas to get them back on their feet. Alexis was no less selfish but she managed to be a little more accommodating to the people around her. Moira surprised everyone most by slowly becoming involved with activities in the town she so desperately wanted to flee. Even David managed to adjust with thanks for that going mainly to meeting Stevie. She was sarcastic with a very dark sense of humor and intimidated by no one. She frequently put David in his place with utter delight and never missed an opportunity to call him out on his bullshit either. And he liked that. A lot. In spite of their constant mutual teasing, she genuinely seemed to enjoy his company. Which was really saying something since she did not do feelings. Slowly she learned almost everything about his life before. Even things he declared “dark and cringy”. Some of his stories were thrilling, a few were horrifying but most were heartbreaking.

David and Stevie were practically identical twins when it came to sharing cold distant relationships with their families. He also decided from the very start not to whitewash his bad adult behavior which had notoriously driven everyone away back then. Complete and total honesty was an unusual look for him but he wanted to try it on anyway. It wasn't a perfect fit but it really suited him. Before long Stevie saw everything he so desperately tried to hide away from the rest of the world. And she still stayed. David didn’t know what to do with that.

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The wedding went on as planned except for being nearly a year later than scheduled. With Rachael’s frail health, countless surgeries, physical therapy sessions, and Patrick’s worry, it was a decidedly smaller affair. Just a simple ceremony in the hospital performed by their chaplain. It was probably just as well given the money was much better spent on a growing list of medications and home health aides. Patrick did everything in his power to hide his emotions as he promised the bigger ceremony of her dreams down the line. He really wanted to give her the life she craved before it was so cruelly interrupted. Her speech eventually came back but remained a little slurred. She also didn’t seem to be anything like the sunny person she was before. Understandable given the circumstances, but now she was experiencing extreme mood swings and Patrick bore the brunt of it. While the doctors couldn’t pinpoint whether it was the stroke or the heart surgery, she was diagnosed with bipolar depression.

Patrick remained devoted and catered to her every need. He valiantly juggled caring for her, working, and keeping the house running as smoothly as possible. All the while ignoring how he was feeling. If he thought he was numb after the proposal, it was nothing compared to now. His meager social life had completely vanished. He spoke to his parents often but not daily like they used to because he couldn’t bear to hear the pity in their voices. Without fail, the bills started piling up so he arranged to work remotely. When the company approved his request, he worked at his own schedule in order to care for her on the days when they couldn’t afford the day nurse. Still they were barely treading water and he knew it. And if things couldn't seem more hopeless, she wasn't showing any further improvement. Finally with his frustration at its peak, one day he took it upon himself to search for the best specialists in the area. The nearest clinic that showed the most promise for helping her physical and emotional rehabilitation was in a suburb of Ontario. It also was equipped with the most cutting edge techniques outside of Toronto. He gently broke the news to her. They were moving to Elmdale.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t very long before long the Roses stopped plotting their escape and allowed themselves to embrace this weird little town. If not for their prior extravagant lifestyle, they might have appreciated how really bucolic it was. Money was still very tight and Johnny was no closer to an idea which could increase the family’s income. There was a catastrophic attempt at selling raw milk, but otherwise nothing else was on the radar. David decided it was time to contribute to bettering their situation. Any little money left over could go toward some of his rapidly depleting necessities. After all, La Mer is simply not in the habit of sending free samples of eye serum. He would have to get a…job.

Other than a Gap Kids campaign when he was a kid, his very first real job was as a bag boy at Brebner’s grocery store. It lasted almost the full hour of training before it was clear he wasn’t going to work out. The second job was a little more in his skill set but hardly ideal. It was a ladies’ clothing store in nearby Elmdale. The layout was a nightmare, the clothing they stocked atrocious, and he may or may not have offended the owner Wendy. But she hired him anyway. He agreed to a schedule of three days a week and a half day on Saturday.

At first he could barely hide his disdain. Wendy was nice but completely incapable of selecting decent merchandise. Soon she was allowing him to choose a limited number of items to sell on a trial basis. Then he started to change the flow so it looked a little less like an overstocked second hand store. He excelled at helping customers pick garments that actually flattered their body types and coloring. Wendy was very pleased. Enough that she let David have more control over the displays and inventory. Sometimes she would let him run the store alone. Her personal life was a dumpster fire anyway so it was a win/win for everyone.

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Their new apartment was very nice. It was considerably larger and thankfully much less expensive. Rachael hated it. She preferred staying closer to her family and friends instead of being forced to relocate to some strange little town she didn’t know at all. It’s not as though she was capable of going anywhere other than her appointments at the clinic three times a week, but Patrick assured her they would move back when she was better. He missed being close to family and friends too. Shouldering the burden of cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, and caring for her was much harder without anyone to help.

Thankfully they were also able to afford visiting nurses every day so Patrick would be able to finally have a little time to himself. Rachael couldn’t begrudge him a little freedom after all he’d done but her mood remained sour. He dutifully drove her to every therapy session without complaint. She wouldn’t allow him to attend any so he usually stayed in the dreary waiting area until one day when he chose to briefly explore the little town instead. During one of her lengthier physical rehabilitation sessions, he decided to buy her a little something frivolous to lift her spirits. Too bad he didn’t realize how bad an idea it would end up being.

Patrick leisurely window shopped all the businesses along the main strip of Elmdale in hopes of finding something suitable to cheer her up without upsetting her. Flowers? Too cliché. Something for the apartment? No, that would only trigger her not wanting to be here. Candy? Um…hardly. Finally he found a clothing shop. That might work. He knew her better than anyone. He knew her taste and what she felt good wearing. Maybe something new would remind her she was still the pretty girl he met all those years ago. He peered through the windows but the store seemed empty. Were they closed? The sign said otherwise but you never can tell. He tested the doorknob. It turned and the door opened.

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Wendy had to leave for another family emergency about an hour after they opened. David was relieved. Wednesdays weren’t normally busy and without her constantly hovering over his shoulder, he could continue adjusting this nightmare of a floorplan. After about an hour, he gave up. He was a little late this morning so he didn’t have time to get his daily coffee and pastry before he was unceremoniously left in charge. And he knew it wasn’t a good idea to close up even for a minute or two. With his luck, one of their regular customers would come by at that precise moment and go running back to tell on him. He grumbled and took the position behind the cash with his phone out for some idle Twitter scrolling.

He was lost in a particularly interesting thread about Canada’s Indigenous population when the door opened. His stomach churned at the thought of a dealing potential customer while uncaffeinated . Yeah, it was his job but he wasn’t in the proper head space right now. Steeling himself, he looked up from his phone to see a very attractive man about his age browsing the racks in the front. He wasn’t used to really cute guys coming in. Even the drag queens on a budget avoided this place. But then came the unexpected. From the moment their eyes met, the world stopped spinning before tilting on its axis.

“Hi welcome to Blouse Barn. May I help you find something irresistible today?” He choked out the words and really hated Wendy’s scripted greeting.

“Uh…I’m looking for a gift?”

“Ok. Something for your mother? Grandmother? Maybe a cat hoarding spinster aunt?” David couldn’t believe he said anything so presumptuous about the type of clientele the shop attracted. To a potential customer. Patrick hesitated for a moment.

“No. It’s for my wife.” Patrick was reluctant to admit he was married. Not for the first time.

“I see.” Fuck! David’s heart dropped back down past his chest and to his feet.

“But thanks for the heads up on where to find gifts for everyone when Christmas rolls around. My Aunt Phyllis is very particular about what she wears around her cats.”

Ok was this adorable guy teasing him? David wasn’t used to being teased without the usual undercurrent of malice. He struggled to conceal his grin and remain professional. He was about to fail again.

“So exactly how long has your wife been a fan of skanky poly-blends?”

Once again he forgot to filter before he spoke. It was quiet for a second before he squeezed his eyes shut and dropped his head down to the counter with a thunk. Patrick let out a booming laugh. To David’s ears it sounded like a symphony. He desperately tried to retain his composure as he raised his head again.

“I’m so sorry! I’m not supposed to be judgy about the clothes here. Please don’t complain to my boss!”

“Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.” The soft smile and those huge eyes were definitely doing things to David.

“I appreciate that. Very much.” He quickly jostled his head to get back to the task at hand.

Patrick couldn’t hide his amusement and David soldiered on.

“It’s easier to make suggestions when the wearer is actually in front of me. Can you describe her complexion? And what color is her hair? I'm assuming you happen to know her size?”

“Do you really need that information?” Patrick was completely fascinated by the stunning if not visibly flustered man before him.

“Only if you’d like her to keep your gift.” David gestured to the sign behind him. “Exchange or store credit only by the way.”

“Gotcha. She’s got fair skin, red hair, and she's a size 0 which honestly I don't understand what that even means. Oh and if it helps, she's about 5'3".

Well that certainly tracks. She sounds perfectly gorgeous. Just like her husband. "How long have you been married?” David wasn’t sure why he asked since he really didn’t care to hear the answer.

“Almost six months. Does that make a difference?” Those eyes still sparkled but were tinged with a little sadness too.

Fuck! Missed him by less than a year. Perfect timing as usual, Rose.

“Yes believe it or not. Since you’re newlyweds you’ll probably want something a little sexier than a flannel nightgown.”

“Not necessarily.”

Sorry, what??? David’s heart took the express elevator back up to his throat.

“Um…ok. And is this for her birthday? Anniversary? Apologizing for forgetting either of the first two? Or are you not currently in her good graces?” David winced at his own pointed and very personal questions but was hopeful there could be a little trouble in paradise.

“Neither. Just a little something to lift her spirits.” Oh. He didn’t say token of his undying affection. She was probably a moody little bitch to boot.

“Very good. Well obviously your choices here are woefully limited but I do remember seeing something that could work.” David walked over to one of the racks and without even looking plucked out a royal blue silk A line dress with tastefully scattered tiny pale pink roses.

“Wow. That’s perfect!” What did he expect?

“To be honest, I don’t know how something even remotely acceptable found its way in here but it’s a lovely dress. With absolutely no polyester.” David knew exactly how something of even minimal quality got here. She’ll probably look stunning in it too. Damn it.

“It’s great. I’ll take it.” He placed his credit card on the counter. “You don’t gift wrap by any chance do you? Wrapping’s not one of my strong suits”.

“We do. And there’s no extra charge.” Yes. Yes there was. “I’ll need a few minutes though.”

“I can wait.” Patrick never took his eyes from David.

“Uh…ok. But can you wait…not here? If you don’t mind, of course. I don’t do my best wrapping with an audience. There’s a coffee shop across the street.” David processed the payment and slid the card back.

For some reason Patrick hated the thought of leaving even for a few minutes but he dutifully complied.

“Oh. Sure sure.” He made his way to the door but turned back with a grin at David’s flushed face.

“I’ll leave you to it then.”

“Thanks. It won’t take me long.”

Patrick never behaved like this around anyone he just met. Why did the air feel so charged from the moment he saw David? How on earth was he bold enough to playfully tease a total stranger and to his delight have the man tease right back? And what the hell brought on the curiosity of how David’s lips would feel pressed against his own? He’d never thought about other guys that way and it certainly never crossed his mind whether or not he found men attractive. Until now. David. Is. Stunning. Literally the definition of tall, dark, and handsome. His personal style was so off center yet so unapologetically himself. Perfectly suited to no one other than him. And the gestures he made as he spoke! He was so expressive he probably couldn’t talk if someone was holding his arms. Patrick didn’t know why he was suddenly very interested in being the one doing the holding. In their few short minutes interaction, Patrick knew he had never met anyone he found so beautiful. His being smart and funny was the cherry on top. Most of all David was someone who seemed so confident and comfortable in his own skin. What must that be like?

He strolled to the coffee shop and ordered an Earl Grey for himself. Out of the blue, he asked the barista if the guy at Blouse Barn ever came in. The atomic eye roll in response was clearly affirmative. Patrick then asked if she happened to know his order. Of course she did. So he got one. And a dozen butter tarts to go. Most of those would go home to Rachael. Most, but not all.

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David felt like he’d been hit by a bus. What the fuck just happened here? Was he just flirting with a customer? A clearly straight married customer?? And more importantly, was said straight married customer flirting back??? In the past, he had more than a handful of…encounters with straight guys. Guys who decided to experiment after watching one too many Queer Eye episodes. He’d even dated a few guys deeply entrenched in the closet but really didn’t enjoy being a meaningless secret even back then.

The upside was he sold one of the very first items he selected for the store. One with an exceptional profit margin. That should impress Wendy a great deal. Ok, back to wrapping the gift for the wife of the first guy David felt any real attraction toward in a very long time. Fortunately the process cleared his head as he precisely folded and taped the glossy silver paper before making a stunningly intricate handmade bow with burgundy satin ribbon.

He was just finishing up making the bow perfect when the door opened again. There was Patrick striding over with a drink caddy and bag of something sweet and delicious to take home to his wife. David hated her.

“All finished? I hope you don’t mind but since you're stuck here alone, I thought you’d like a coffee.”

“You got me a coffee??” David’s brain completely short circuited.

“Yeah, I asked the barista if she knew your order. Evidently it’s not forgettable.” Patrick's huge grin was blinding. David fumbled for his wallet to pay for it.

“No no no! My treat.” Stop it.

“Um…this is very nice. You’re very nice. Thank you.”

“No worries. I took the liberty of getting some extra butter tarts too. I figured you might be hungry? Geez I hope you like butter tarts?”

“Uh...am I Canadian? I fucking love butter tarts! Sorry, that was a bit much. I...just don’t know how to process your being so kind.”

“What’s there to process? You were very helpful today. Consider it a bonus to your commission.”

Oh this is absofuckinglutely ridiculous now. An adorable straight married guy just bought a very specific coffee order AND butter tarts for a complete stranger. Who even does that?

“I don’t know what to say. I'm not used to...well...I don't get...uh...nothing. Never mind. Anyway thank you…uh…” He struggled with how to proceed without stealing his mother’s habit of calling someone ‘you’ when she couldn’t remember their name.

“Patrick. Patrick Brewer.”

“Thank you Patrick Brewer. I’m David Rose.” He reluctantly offered his hand for the cursory bro handshake. The moment they touched, the surge of electricity almost knocked David over. And his body flooded with warmth. If he didn't know better, he was almost certain Patrick appeared equally affected. But probably not. No. Definitely not.

“It was my pleasure David Rose.” Patrick stumbled to say. His demeanor shifted as he finally released David’s hand. He seemed…sad to let go? David mustered every ounce of energy to wrap this up. He had to before something really inappropriate happened.

“Thank you for shopping at the Blouse Barn. I hope your wife likes her gift.”

“Thanks. I'm sure she’ll love it. It was recommended by you.”

Is swooning still a thing? Because David was in major swoon territory.

“Well thank you again.” David rarely blushes yet here it was. He didn’t want this to be over already and could barely choke out his next words.

“Goodbye Patrick.”

“’Bye David.”

Chapter Text

Patrick returned to the clinic a few minutes before Rachael’s session ended.  He fidgeted in his seat recounting every moment of his interaction with David.  He was lit up like Toronto when the Jays won the series.  He was sure David probably wouldn’t understand a single word of that sentence either.  The whole thing was inconsequential yet it was one of the most important meetings in his life.  So he couldn’t tamp down the smile on his face or the glow on his cheeks. 

When Rachael was wheeled into the waiting area, she was wearing a matching smile and had an uncharacteristically softer demeanor.  Today she managed to stand and take a few halting steps.  He was so disappointed for not getting to see it but delighted to see a flicker of the girl he used to know.  She tried to downplay the significance of her breakthrough but he gently wrapped her in his arms anyway and kissed her cheek.  This could be the turning point they had been hoping for.  A few tears fell but neither were sure whose they were.  Obviously she was exhausted so he took her back to their apartment.  Still, he couldn’t help but stare at the Blouse Barn as they drove past.

 

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David savored the last sip of his coffee and snapped out of his reverie long enough to realize he had eaten all six butter tarts.  How did THAT happen?  It was as if his mind was elsewhere since this morning or something.  He made a few other sales but couldn’t remember what they were if he tried.  None were as significant as that first one.  Wendy breezed in wrapped in apologies so she decided to let him leave early for the day but with full pay.  Yeah, she was nice.  As he gathered up his things to head home, she couldn't help but notice his grin.  She hadn’t met a grinning David Rose yet.  She came close when she rented him a nondescript sedan to get back and forth, but it was nothing like this. 

He wasn’t sure how it happened but he found himself parked at the motel.  He had absolutely no recollection of leaving the store or driving back.  That’s clearly something which needs to be reviewed later.  He doesn’t remember ever being so distracted by someone before.  Not even when he met “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named”.  Of course, why would he be driven to distraction some a pompous poseur?  David wasted 4 months trying to please that man for no other reason than his hope of getting a fraction of his attention returned.  It wasn’t.  At least he learned great looking men are one thing but ones with dark souls are quite another.  Patrick was the polar opposite.  And while he tried to enjoy the feelings of his major crush, he knew nothing could ever happen between them.  Hell he’d probably never even see him again.  Still he was certain he felt like something was really there.  Something palpable.  Something that rocked him to his core.

 

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Patrick was up before dawn despite getting barely any sleep the night before.  He was restless and excited with his only thoughts being how to figure out seeing David again.  The morning was spent on his usual chores around the house followed by powering through a full day’s work before the Blouse Barn opened.  He was glad he made a point of double checking the store hours yesterday.  At 9:30, he made up an excuse to Rachael for needing to go out and headed downtown.  Who set his body on vibrate?   He parked the car across the street from the store and sat there like he was doing surveillance for the FBI.  It was 9:57 when David sprinted up the sidewalk to open by 10.  Patrick chuckled at the sight and his heart soared.  He got out of the car.  But first he had a very specific coffee and slightly different pastry to order.

David was finishing his opening duties when he mindlessly glanced up at the door.  Patrick was standing on the other side.  Immediately his harried face disappeared, replaced with a genuine smile and an increased pounding in his chest.  He made his way over to the door, flipped the sign, and unlocked the lock.

“Morning, David!”  He was too peppy as he awkwardly thrust the coffee and muffin into David’s hands.  Their fingers touched. The electrical current was much stronger today.

“Good morning.”  He stared incredulously at his breakfast.  “You brought me another coffee??”

“Yeah.  I didn’t like the thought of you having to go without for as long as you did yesterday." How did Patrick know David hadn't gotten coffee yet? 

"And I figured you were tired of butter tarts so I got you a cranberry muffin instead.” 

Stop it right now. 

“Um...I don't...that’s very sweet of you.  So um…did the dress not work out?”  He sounded a little hurt but to be honest his pride was wounded.  He thought he did well for Patrick’s wife especially sight unseen.  Then he searched for the return but there wasn’t one.

“No, she really loved it." She absolutely did.

"I...uh…decided to buy something for Aunt Phyllis today.” 

“Her Christmas gift?  It’s June, Patrick.” Patrick’s eyes grew huge with a hint of panic behind them.   Given the chance, David could happily drown in those caramel eyes.

“No…yeah I know. It’s…for her birthday.  Next month.”  Her birthday is in February.

“Oh ok.  Sure thing.  I’m not sure we have too many choices which will repel cat hair though.”  David got the huge eyes/dazzling smile in a one-two punch.

“I guess that would be a her problem.  Don't get me wrong. I love her but not enough to worry about what happens when the cats power shed.”  Full disclosure she doesn’t even have one cat but also, why is David soooo handsome?

“Well, let’s see what we have.  Do I need to ask the questions again?”  Can we please kiss until you pass out??

“The questions?”  Can we please kiss until I pass out??

“Patrick Brewer!  Were you paying attention at all yesterday?”  David was getting a little aroused from disciplining Patrick.  That was new.

“Oh.  You mean the sizes and stuff.  Yeah, yeah. She’s got brownish hair kind of like mine, wears a size 14, and is also fair skinned.”  He never wanted to hear his name come from any other mouth.  That was new.

“Thank you.  Give me a minute to look around?” 

Thanks to the presence of too many stupid displays, he brushed past Patrick a little too closely and felt a shudder.  Could have been Patrick’s.  Could have been his own.  Was probably both.  As he flipped through the racks, Patrick enjoyed watching his every movement.  It was so graceful and yet so purposeful.  Man, he really liked that confidence. Finally, David came back with a triumphant look carrying a rather chic caftan with a Pucci style print.  How did this even find its way into Wendy's typically god awful inventory??

“Now before you say anything, first of all this is not real Pucci.  And normally I don’t endorse a caftan. People wear them too often and for no reason other than laziness.  When worn properly, it can make a powerful statement.  If you should happen to mention what I said about not wearing it like a pair of sweats, I wouldn’t be mad.  But either way I think it’s age appropriate and flattering but still something comfortable for her.  Plus it’s a silky fabric so the cat hair should just brush right off.”  Still no cats to worry about.

Patrick looked at it for a moment as the corners of his mouth gradually turned up.  Not only could he see his aunt joyously wear it, but how beautiful she’ll look.

“You’ve hit another grand slam, David Rose.”

“I don’t know what that means.  Are you saying it’s ok?”

“Perfect.  You're the best.”  David shyly dropped his head.

“I think you’ve missed your calling David.  You should be a stylist.”

“Thanks but that would be a hard pass.  I tried it once as a favor for Alicia Silverstone but she refused to see my vision.”

“Alicia Silverstone??  Like from Clueless?”  What is this man’s life?

“Yeah but it was like way after that.  For some charity even in LA a few years ago.”  More like a lifetime ago.  “Anyway, I highly doubt she’d even consider wearing anything from the Elmdale Blouse Barn.  With what I have to work with here, I can do my best styling Brewers.  Silverstones not so much.”  His own mouth fell open in shock. "Um. No offense." He wanted to die for being so rude.

Patrick laughed out loud.  David relaxed a bit by immersing himself in his new favorite sound.

“None taken." He saw David was still kicking himself.

"David! Relax. I know you were just kidding.  I only hope Alicia won’t be too jealous when she sees my aunt looking so good.  I’ll take it.”

“Ok.  Thanks.  So do you need me to gift wrap it for you?”  Wendy was gonna be so pissed when she finds out he’s given away the service twice in as many days. 

“Uh…sure, that would be great.  Tell you what.  How about I pay now and I’ll come back for it tomorrow?  I remember your thing about having an audience…” 

Nice work Brewer!  Not only did he guarantee himself another meeting with David, he got a really early Christmas present out of the way.  Hopefully by tomorrow he can come up with a reason for continuing to get together besides retail before he runs out of money.  And relatives.

“Um…normally that would be fine but--I'm actually off tomorrow?”  He immediately contemplated asking Wendy to change his schedule.

Patrick exhaled a disappointed breath.  Then the wheels in his head began to turn as he formulated a plan.  Pick up the purchase right before the end of his shift and then invite him to dinner.  Perfect!

 “No worries.  I mean, clearly there's no rush. Technically I have until December 24th, right? I can just come by the next time you work.  Which is…?” 

“Saturday.  But I only work until 2.”

“Then I’ll be sure to get here before you’re done.”  Lunch is the next best thing to dinner.

They finalized the transaction and again Patrick was reluctant to leave.

“Well thanks again David.  See you Saturday, yeah?”  

“Yes.”  Please.  “And once again, thank you for shopping at the Blouse Barn.  It’s been my pleasure.”  No kidding.

“Ok. Saturday then.  Bye David.”

“Bye Patrick.”

 

*************************************************************************************

 

On the drive home, Patrick's emotions were swirling.  First he was giddy at the thought of seeing David again in only two days.  Next he felt incredibly guilty for lying in order to do so.  And lying to his wife about everything for so very long.  Then for knowing the lies likely weren’t stopping any time soon.  All these conflicting feelings were like a pendulum swinging out of control. This combination of elated highs and crushing lows are exhausting and uncontrollable. 

He began to understand how frustrating Rachael’s bipolar depression must be.  So he felt even worse.

Chapter Text

Friday was the longest day in the entire history of days.  David bounced around the motel like a giant pachinko ball.  Had they not suffered their fall from grace, he could easily handle being alone without batting an eye.  In fact when he lived in New York he thrived on it.  It was quite an achievement to manage that level of solitude in such a densely populated city that never sleeps.  Fortunately back then he never had to worry about his family constantly underfoot either.

Alexis was constantly gallivanting around parts unknown.  His father and mother were buried in their respective careers.  They were seldom on the same coast much less the same room.  Now that they were sharing a space of less than 500 square feet, separation was a rarity and privacy to be cherished.  Which it undoubtedly would have been if David wasn’t so excited to be seeing his Patrick tomorrow. 

The family could sense something was up with David over the last two days but attributed it to his new job.  He seemed lighter.  Hopeful.  Maybe he actually liked working in a bargain basement clothier?  Unlikely, but they’ve all softened around the edges since they got here whether they wanted to or not.  As much as they genuinely began enjoying the company of townies, they liked being around each other even more.  Aloof David wanted to be with his family.  But it wouldn’t happen today.

He craved for anyone to help process the thoughts in his head but they were out.  Alexis was working at the vet clinic.  Johnny recently began sharing the duties and handling the books at this very motel.  And Moira was either at rehearsals or town council.  He couldn’t remember which.  He really wanted to go to Stevie but knew how catastrophic that would be.  She would torture him for being so hung up on a married man  Then she’d start to chip away at his insides until he doubted if he was having feelings at all.  Ok.  He could do this without any help.  Only 22 hours to go.

 

*************************************************************************************

 

Friday was the longest day in the entire history of days.  Patrick kept running out of things to keep himself occupied.  He’d never been so wired with anticipation before.  Last week BD (Before David), he was floundering in this new life.  Except for the day nurses and Rachael of course, he didn’t speak to anyone else for more than a minute or two.  It was a foreign feeling for him to suddenly not be surrounded by his friends.  Even stranger not having collected a bunch of new ones by now.  But since moving to Elmdale, there literally weren’t enough hours in the day.  Today notwithstanding.

He sailed through all the chores since yesterday when he brought Rachael home.  He made her a nice dinner last night and a hearty breakfast this morning.  She barely touched anything but appreciated the gesture.  As of now he was nearly a week ahead on his remote work.  The apartment was dusted and scrubbed until it sparkled.  Closet were organized, meals prepared in advance, and laundry finished.  He tried to make up a reason for being away most of tomorrow but Rachael didn’t seem to care if he went out or not.  He arranged for the night nurse to be on call.  Just in case.  He didn’t want anything to interrupt seeing his David tomorrow.  Now he just needed to figure out how to fill the next 22 hours…

 

*******************************************************************************

 

David woke up two hours before his alarm went off.  He was ready for work way ahead of time.  A miracle in itself since he meticulously took much longer than usual to make sure he looked perfect.  Outfits were entirely changed a half a dozen times before finally settling on the one he was certain made him look best.  Johnny and Alexis each asked to use the car today so they dropped him off an hour before the store opened and promising to pick him up exactly at 2.  Needless to say, Wendy was not expecting to see him sitting out front finishing his coffee when she pulled up. 

It was busy this morning.  David shifted between helping customers pick out their items, restocking the floor, adjusting displays, and working the cash.  As the day wore on, he became increasingly more frenetic.  Where was Patrick???  At 1:30 he resigned himself to admit he was being stood up.  He was in the middle of trying to convince a customer that no, she did not wear a size 6 and yes sizes are indeed more than a suggestion.  That's when he heard the two words that acted like a salve on his jittery body.

“Hi, David.”

He pushed the woman toward the fitting rooms with a dress in her actual size.

“Hi. I didn’t think you were coming.”  His words were barely a whisper. 

“And let someone else buy the outfit you carefully selected for my aunt?  Not a chance.  I didn’t want to interrupt you during your shift.”  Patrick Brewer was luminescent.

“That makes sense.  Let me finish up here and I’ll get the present.”  David hated how short their time together would be today.

“No rush.  And…I was wondering if you might wanna grab a bite?  I skipped breakfast today.”  He did.  Who could eat when they’re this excited?

“Um…ordinarily I would but my dad and sister borrowed the car this morning.  They’ll be here to pick me up any minute.”  He wanted to cry.

“Oh.  Sorry.  I should have asked you sooner.  Any chance you can you call and tell them not to come?  I can drive you home after we eat.  And before you ask, I don’t mind at all.”    There was nothing more heartbreaking than a sad Patrick.  And nothing more irresistible than a hopeful one.

“Yeah, yes.  I guess so?” David never sent out a text faster in his life.

“Good.  Good.  I’ll wait out for you in front?”

“Ok.  I’ll bring the present out with me.”

Wendy managed to see a blur as David sped to the cash, grabbed a gift wrapped box, dashed into the back room to gather his things, and fly out the front door while offering a hurried goodbye and promise to see her on Tuesday. 

Patrick stood outside with his back to the store and his hands in his pockets.  He felt the door swing open and turned to see a beautifully wrapped box held by an even more beautiful man.  He passed the gift to Patrick who placed it in the trunk of his car.

“Thanks.  All set?” 

David only nodded since he was a little winded.

“So I haven’t lived here very long and I don’t know where the best restaurants are yet.  But I did a search on Yelp and there’s a place up the street that looks like it might be good.  Do you like Italian?”

“Sure.”  It was David’s absolute favorite.  “Lead the way.”

The restaurant was slow since it was near the end of lunch service but they got a nice table and quickly placed their orders.  Patrick ordered a bottle of Cabernet.  They started with innocent small talk during the during the appetizers.  Which progressed to the cursory inquiries about work and schooling during the salads.  That turned to easy flirty conversation by the time their server returned with the entrées.

Patrick thought the food was excellent but judging by the orgasmic sounds coming from David as he ate, he might have underestimated it.  Never had he seen anyone enjoy food with such unabashed gusto.  And while he loved witnessing it, he was starting to react to those sounds in a way he shouldn’t in public.  The tightening of his pants suggested he wanted to try making David sound like that without food.

They finished their mains and the server cleared the table before offering dessert.  David has never turned down a dessert.  Even when he had the stomach flu.  And today would be no different.  They split a nice dark chocolate torte and the conversation finally turned serious.

“So.  Does your wife know you’re having lunch?”  David may have licked the fork a bit too suggestively.

“Wow.  Right to it, huh?  No, David.  She doesn’t know I’m here.  With you.”  His shoulders stiffened.

“And why would that be?  You’re only out having lunch with a person you met in a tacky dress shop a few days ago.  Unless she would be mad at that.”  David had already conjured up a shrew who definitely would be mad.

“I didn’t tell her.  And I’m not out.  So I don’t know if she’ll be mad or not.”  Cue the needle scratching the record.

“I’m sorry, what?”  David wasn’t sure if he was still breathing.

“David, I'm having feelings and she’s going through a lot…uh…physically right now.  I don’t want to upset her and make things worse.”

“Oh.  What, is she pregnant?”  That was harsh Rose. 

“No.  She had a stroke.  A few months before we were supposed to get married.  Then she was getting physical therapy and stuff until she was strong enough for us to have a small ceremony.  Technically we haven’t even consummated it yet.”  David was speechless as the color drained from his face.

“Oh.  Uh.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.  Very very sorry.”  He instantly felt bad for hating abstract Rachael what with calling her a moody little bitch and a shrew.  “It was very rude of me to assume.”  Before he could say the words a tear had escaped.  He squeezed his eyes shut.

“It’s ok David.  Really.  You didn’t know.  Why would you?”  Patrick’s voice was kind and reassuring.

“That’s no excuse!  I mean, you don’t owe me an explanation and here I am demanding one.  Your life is your life and  I…you don’t even know me.”  The tears were flowing more freely now.

“But you’re literally the only person I know outside of my apartment.  I was hoping we were getting closer.  And if we are, I need to be honest with you.  For starters, my Aunt Phyllis doesn’t have any cats.”  David choked out a wet laugh.

“I want to tell you everything.  If you have time.”

“I do.  I have time.  But since we’ve sat through the changeover from lunch to dinner service, I don’t think our server will be too happy if we stay here much longer.”

“Oh.  Oh geez!  Ok.  How about we move this to a bar or something?”

“There isn’t a bar around here.”

“Oh.  Well how about a different restaurant then?   I know we’ve already had lunch but—“

“I could eat.”  David wiped his eyes and smiled sheepishly.

Patrick laughed and quickly got up to settle the bill with the cashier.  He left their server an embarrassingly large apology tip.

“Shall we?”  Patrick took David’s arm while he stood.

“Sure.  Wait!  Where are we going?”

“How does Chinese sound?”

“Really good actually.  Lead the way.”  David held Patrick’s arm as they left one restaurant for another. 

That’s when the real conversation began.

 

****************************************************************************

 

Patrick was incredulous with David’s ability to have two full meals so close together.  They did indeed talk.  About everything.  Their respective moves.  Their lives before.  Their painfully obvious mutual attraction.  They were dangerously close to the second restaurant shutting for business so it was agreed it was probably time to call it a night.  Patrick drove David back to the motel.  He set the car to park and turned off the ignition.  There was a long silence.

“I know I’ve held you hostage all day but I kinda don’t want to leave yet.”  He’ll deal with the aftermath from Rachael later.

“Me either.”  David fidgeted in his seat and looked fondly at Patrick.

“I know this is way too fast and very presumptuous of me but do you think we could get a room?  I swear we don’t have to do anything.  It just doesn’t feel like we’re finished with today.”  Patrick couldn’t look at David as he spoke.

No.  Probably not a good idea.  Definitely not a good idea.  A positively terrible idea.

“Um…sure.  Yeah.  Yes.”  Patrick looked at the darkened office.

“Never mind.  It looks like the office is closed and I don’t want to intrude on your sister.”

David smirked as he pulled out the key to room 10 where he kept his clothing overflow.  The Love Room.

“I’ve got it covered.  And before you start thinking I’m a whore, I need to make this perfectly clear.  I am.”

Patrick unexpectedly let out the loudest laugh yet and quickly tried to silence himself.  He turned to David with unfathomable fondness in those huge eyes.

That's when David did something he'd never done before.  He leaned in.

Chapter Text

The early morning daylight crept in when Patrick woke.  He glanced up at the reflection of two bodies tangled like a poorly packed string of Christmas lights.  Last night changed his life.  It wasn’t just from having the best sex he’d ever had if his aching body was any indication.  It was from being with David.  Patrick studied David’s sleeping face as if there was going to be a final exam about it later.  He looked so relaxed and peaceful.  His soft snoring felt like being wrapped in a warm blanket instead of these cheap satin sheets.  Compared to the image David Rose presented to the world, this one was rumpled and imperfect.  And if possible, even more gorgeous.

David shifted and clutched Patrick closer.  He could happily stay in this exact position forever if the world would let him.  If David would let him.  It’s very possible he was over-romanticizing but the feelings cascading through him couldn’t be denied.  He was in deep…something.  With David.

When his brain started functioning to capacity, he was swept with panic.  Rachael!  He’d been out all night and never bothered to text her.  Or call and reassure her that he was fine.  By now she’ll be beside herself with worry.  How was he going to explain this?  She depended on him and he let her down in the worst possible way.  He quickly shot a message that he was ok and would explain later.

David was holding onto Patrick for dear life, oblivious to the turmoil.  Until it got to the level where it was impossible to ignore and David cracked open an eye.

“Everything ok?”  

“Yeah.  I’m good.”  Really really good.

“You sure?  I totally get if you’re having regrets.”  David sat up and released Patrick from his grasp.

“What??  No!  No regrets.  None.  I forgot to let Rachael know I wasn’t in an accident or anything.”

“Oh.  Maybe you should go then.”

“I should.  But not yet.”  Patrick was now the one pulling David close.

“Wanna talk?”  David braced for the ‘thanks this was really fun but my wife will be home soon’ speech.  He’d heard it often enough.

“Yeah, I do.  Last night meant everything to me David.  Everything.”  Here comes the kiss off.

“You’re my first.”  Hmm.  Wasn’t expecting that.

“Well judging by what you did to me, I beg to differ.”  He tried to smile but it wasn’t working.

“No I mean obviously you’re not my first first.  But my first with XY chromosomes.”  David laughed having been caught off guard. 

“Somebody took a biology class.  And that’s a clever way to put it.”

“But it’s so much more.  It’s the first time I ever…I mean…I’ve never…felt like this.”  Patrick stared blankly ahead with his jaw set.  Because looking at David in that moment would definitely kill him.

“Me too.  But I get it.  You can’t do this.  It's fine.”  He tucked his head into Patrick’s shoulder to hide the tears.  Unfortunately they could still be felt.  Stupid tears having the nerve to be all wet and stuff.

“No!  That’s not what I was gonna say at all!  I want this.  More than anything.  I want to see you again.  For as long as you’ll let me.  I just need to--” 

“It’s ok.  You’ve been through a lot.  Like A LOT.  More than most people need to deal with in a lifetime.  And I’m not sorry things…happened.  Between us.  Not at all.  But I don’t think it’s a good idea right now.  For you.  Or for me”

“David, I finally found you.  I can’t handle losing you already.”  Patrick’s cheeks were wet too.

“I can’t either.  But what are we supposed to do?  Sneak around while we wait for your wife to be strong enough?  Cheat until you muster up the courage to break the news?  I’ve been with guys on the DL before.  I’m sick of hearing ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’.”

“But—“

“I can’t be a fucking side dish again Patrick!"  Yes, David used air quotes.  "I won’t.” David pulled away and bolted upright.

“You’re not a side dish!  You’re the whole fucking gourmet meal.  And I feel sorry for any idiot who didn’t realize it before.  But I do.  I realize it.”  And just like that David felt his resolve melting away. 

“I don’t know what to say.  Which is rare for me.”  David turned back to hug this beautiful, beautiful man.

“I know there’s a lot to figure out but I don’t want this to end.  Can we try to figure it out?  Please?”

No.  No way.  Not possible. 

“Yeah.”

“Yeah?”  Patrick was over the moon.

“Yes.  Patrick, I don’t want this to end either.  I’ve been with hundreds of people.  Literally hundreds.  I’m not proud of it or anything, but not one of them...cared about me. And to be honest I didn’t care about any them either. I thought I did at the time. And I was wrong. Nobody came close to making me feel they way I do with you.  So believe it or not this is something new for me which I guess makes you my first too?” David smiled softly.

“We’ll figure this out David.  I promise.”

“Please.  I can wait for you. Not forever, but—“

“That’s all I need to hear.”  They kissed passionately until they were grinning at each other like fools.

At that precise moment, Stevie opened the door.  She only got an eye full of them both naked in mid embrace. They froze hoping she wouldn’t see them.  As if that works. FYI, it does not.  She turned even more pale then slammed it shut again.  They heard footsteps scurry away.  They were mortified.  After a minute or so, David broke the tension.

“So that was my best friend Stevie...” 

“She seems nice.”

They unfroze and finished crying and laughing and kissing all at once.  It was heaven.

 

*****************************************************************************

 

Patrick drove home preparing for the worst.  He had no excuse for his absence.  When she asked him where he’d been he wouldn’t have an answer other than the truth. And he wasn’t ready for that yet.  She was in the bedroom and she looked up at him when he walked in. She didn’t say a word.  Then she smiled.  Patrick released the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding and hugged her before making breakfast and getting on with the day.

How in the world was he going to handle this?  Sneaking around while she was being so trusting would last only as long as he could tolerate the guilt eating him up inside. What then?  Make up a lie every time he left her?  Keep lying to himself about who he really is?  Treat David hidden like a dirty secret when he should be shown off like a treasure anyone would be lucky to find? It was obvious matter what Patrick did, someone was definitely getting hurt.  Badly. He wondered how anybody who cheated could live with themselves. Ready it or not, he was on the way to find out.

 

****************************************************************************

 

David had a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.  Being caught en flagrante by his best friend was awkward enough.  Telling her it wasn’t just sex with a random was something else entirely.  And admitting to her that the guy was married would be like stepping on a landmine.  But he did it anyway.  He may or may not have been crying as he finally opened up and told her everything but neither one of them will confirm or deny the presence of tears. When he got to the end, he shut his eyes waiting for the land mine to explode.  It never did.

He peeked out of one eye to see Stevie rushing toward him from behind the desk.  His first instinct was to protect his face but before he could move she was throwing her arms around him in a very uncharacteristic hug.  She had never seen him so raw and emotional.  So even though she did NOT approve of the circumstances, even though she’d heard about all of his New York sexcapades. David wouldn’t be desperate enough to fall for a guy with a wife unless said guy was something special. Still, she demanded he be careful.  He was also instructed to tell the guy in no uncertain terms that if he hurt David in any way, she would kill him and make it look like an accident.  He giggled but had no doubt in his mind she was serious as a heart attack.

 

******************************************************************************

 

All things considered, the next few weeks were magic.  David was met at work every day with Patrick bearing coffee and pastry.  They spoke dozens of times throughout the day through calls and texts.  Whenever they could eke out time together, each encounter was more mind blowing than the last.  If not rushed and all too brief. As the weeks stretched into months, David realized the scraps weren’t enough. He wanted to wake up in Patrick's arms like they had after that first night.  And he wanted this man openly, not just in the car or a room at the Elmdale Inn.  David couldn’t risk using the motel again for obvious reasons.  No matter how great their time together was, it always ended the same way.  Patrick went back home to his wife.  Which broke David’s heart.  Every.  Single. Time.

To make things worse, it didn't take long them to realize it wasn’t just the sex.  They had made a deep connection.  It was emotional and real.  David tried to minimize the feelings he had for this man.  He couldn’t.  He tried to ignore the increased gnawing in his chest.  He couldn’t do that either.  Meanwhile Patrick was wracked with guilt.  He wasn’t any closer to giving David the relationship he deserved, yet he kept selfishly stringing him along. Rachael didn’t question the absences which was a relief, but he kept pretending nothing was going on.  He watched her getting stronger but telling her about the affair might wipe out the amazing progress she'd made so far. He’ll have to come clean eventually, but not right now. It has to be the perfect time.  It just wasn’t the perfect time yet. 

David's patience was dwindling.  Patrick had said she may not be needing the wheelchair much longer. She even started taking brief walks with a cane.  David was relieved until more months had passed with no change to their relationship status.  Patrick still hadn’t told her.  David was beginning to resent the pattern of the ascent in anticipation of seeing each other, reaching the summit when they were together, and the plummet when Patrick left. It was the world’s shittiest roller coaster and after too many rides, David knew he had to get off.

Patrick didn't know what he was waiting for now.  She was able to do some basic things to take care of herself.  She still had a long way to go but it was miles ahead from where she was a year ago.  That’s when it hit him.  He wasn’t trying to protect her.  He was too afraid to admit the truth.  Admit his truth.  She had to know he was seeing someone else.  But what would the reaction when she found out it was a man? 

His brain was so scrambled, he didn’t notice how unusually quiet David was on what would be their final night together.

Chapter Text

 “What do you want from me?”

“A little more than I can ever have.”

 

Patrick Brewer was broken.  He sat alone in the room hours after David had left.  Their last words to each other on an endless loop in his head.  He was still stark naked because he couldn’t gather the energy to pull on any clothes when his world fell apart.  He was in love with David Rose and David was gone.  Who could blame him?  He had been more than patient for so long while Patrick kept putting off telling the truth.   All he asked was for Patrick to tell his wife so maybe when the dust settled, maybe they could start a life together.  It wasn’t unreasonable.  After all of his prior train wreck relationships,  being openly cherished was what he so richly deserved.  He had to be convinced he wasn’t worthless like all the rest had made him feel.  But Patrick was a coward.  He wasn’t even brave enough to tell David he was in love with him.  To use the words.  He’d hoped David could feel it.  And maybe he did but it wasn’t enough.

It was sunrise when Patrick finally got dressed.  He left the hotel room looking like total shit.  And it didn’t matter.  It’s not like Rachael would interrogate him this time either.  She had to know he was cheating by now but it was as if she didn’t care.  As soon as he parsed out his thoughts, he had to come out and tell her everything, consequences be damned.  The end game was let her move on and free himself from what prevented his being with David.  Not that David would still want him now.  But first things first. 

 

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He wasn’t expecting to see Rachael waiting on the sofa.  Wearing the Blouse Barn dress he had given her all those months ago.  She looked stunning.  He opened his mouth to speak but she stopped him.  She asked for a divorce.  Or an annulment if possible.  Not over the affair she suspected but because he had done so much for her.  He should have a life more than this one.  She may be getting better but the burden to care for her was still too much.  Even if she reached the point where walking was easy, she just couldn’t make him wait any longer.  Neither were the same people since the stroke anymore.  And she wouldn’t deny his happiness.

At first, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  He blinked several times before he noticed the suitcase beside her.  The clinic had referred a new one in Toronto which mirrored their progressive therapy techniques.  She would be in good hands surrounded by her family and friends.  He never wanted for things to end like this and would care of her all over again if she needed him.  Her mind was made up and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  They’ll end the marriage.  She smiled before she kissed him promising to keep in touch. 

Patrick collapsed to his knees dropping his head onto her lap.  He was sobbing uncontrollably as he admitted everything.  How he didn’t want to get married.  How he loved her but not the way he was supposed to.  How he realized he was gay.  And how he was in love with David.  She stroked his hair and listened while he released all the pain he had bottled up for so long.  When he was able to collect  himself and look up at her, she was still smiling with her own tears falling.  She still loved him too.  As a best friend.  Their divorce would be amicable with no accusations of infidelity or cruelty. 

The Uber driver arrived to take her to the airport.  She kissed his cheek and went home.

 

***************************************************************************************************

 

When the shock wore off, Patrick immediately scrambled for his phone.  He fumbled out a text which didn’t go through.  He called but it went directly to voicemail.  Had David blocked his number already?? No no no no no!  Think Brewer.  Today’s Saturday.  David works until 2.  Bring coffee and a goddam mountain of pastries if necessary to convince him to talk.  He sped over to the store and burst inside.  Wendy was alone.  David quit this morning.  And had paid her for two gift wrapping services before he left.

He broke a half dozen traffic laws on the way to Schitt’s Creek.  David’s car wasn’t there when he pulled into the motel.  Where could he be?  Wait.  Wendy had rented it for him so obviously he returned it.  Right as he got out of the car to knock on David’s door, Stevie came out of the office.  Judging by the scowl on her face, she wasn’t exactly thrilled to see him.

She demanded to know what the fuck he was doing here.  Before got the words out she started hitting him and telling him to go the fuck home.  For someone so tiny, she packed a punch.  He had no choice but grab her to pin her arms down.  Just as she was starting to kick, he started crying.  Hard.  The restraining hold turned into a desperate hug.  It must have thrown her because not only did she relax and allow his hug but she was possibly returning it.  David had said she was allergic to emotions so this breakdown must be like Kryptonite.  She let him fall apart and then did the unthinkable.  She roughly grabbed his wrist and pulled him to the office so he could tell his side.  He flopped on the couch and she sat behind the counter stone faced with her arms crossed.

It wasn’t even a second before the floodgates reopened.  He told her everything from the moment he walked into the Blouse Barn all those months ago to Rachael leaving less than an hour ago.  They were getting a divorce but not because he had the balls to be honest at last.  Not that it mattered.  Nothing mattered without David.   He was solely to blame for putting David through months of torture.   Now realizing too late it was so selfish and cruel.  Patrick deserved losing the love of his life but said love should at least hear he was more than just a warm body.

Stevie sat motionless for a moment before getting up.  She handed Patrick the key to room 10.  He looked at it for a moment still not understanding until it dawned on him what she did.  He shot up and tried to hug her again.  She growled and shoved him out the door.  Hugs were limited to only one per customer and he already got his.

Patrick fumbled with the lock until it finally opened.  David was flopped face down on the bed not expecting to hear a voice other than Stevie’s.

“Hi.”  David’s body visibly stiffened but remained prone.  It was a long time before he spoke.

“Why are you here?”  He didn’t even raise his head from the mattress.

“I have to talk to you.  I tried texting and calling but they didn’t go through.”  He shoved his hands into his pockets waiting for David to respond.

“So talk.”

“David, can you please look at me?”

“No.”

“Ok.”  He took a deep breath.  “Rachael left this morning.  She went back to Toronto.”  David shifted almost imperceptibly.

“Good for you.  Have a nice life.”

“David…”  Patrick sat on the edge of the bed.

“What??  She’s gone so everything’s fine now?  I beg to differ.”  He turned to face Patrick with cold eyes.

“No.  You’re right.  l...I thought it was fine but it’s not.  Not if I can’t be with you.”

“Oh please!  You’re free to do whatever you want now, Patrick.  Go find someone you really like!”  David started to cry.

“I already did.”  He tentatively reached for David’s hand expecting for it to be pulled away.  It wasn’t.

“She wants a divorce.  And she asked for it before I told her about everything.  About us.”

“Huh.  A divorce.  So what did you really do to piss her off?”  Patrick chuckled unexpectedly for a second.

“I lied.  To a lot of people.  For a long time.  People I really care about.  One I care about more than anything.”

“Technically you didn’t lie to me…did you?”  He could hear the panic rising in David’s voice.

“I didn’t tell you I was in love with you.  Deeply…hopelessly…in love with you.  Practically from the moment we met.  So I guess that’s lying by omission?”

“It is.  But I could be convinced to work through it and forgive you.”  He looked into Patrick’s eyes.

 “I’m in love with you, David Rose.  I love you more than anyone I’ve ever known.  I’m so sorry I hurt you.”

“I know.  And I’m very much in love with you too.” 

 “Yeah?”

“Yeah.  Yes.  Yup.  Don’t make me keep saying it.  It already slipped out once!”  David wrapped his arms around Patrick and it felt like it would never end.

“Wow.  This is a really long hug now.”

“Just one more minute.”  David wanted to memorize every second of this moment.  “Wait.  How could you possibly have had feelings from the day we met?”  They broke their embrace with hands still clasped together.

“Are you kidding?  It’s called love at first sight, David.  I figured with the steady diet of movies you watch you might have heard of it.  You’re so beautiful…”  Patrick gave the hand he was holding a kiss.  “…and smart…”  Then the other hand.  “… and funny…”  Then both hands.  “Plus you’re generous.  And kind.  How on earth could anyone resist all that?  But at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll tell you again.  I love you.”  He rested his forehead against David’s.

“I’ll allow it.”  Their lips met and the kiss was breathtaking.  Overflowing with emotion and promise.

“Rachael was wearing the dress you picked out when she left.  You were right.  It looked fantastic on her.”

“Can we maybe not talk about your wife right now?”  David swatted Patrick on the arm.

“Ok.  So…you quit the store?”

“You went to the store?”

“Yeah, I had to find you but Wendy said you quit.”

“Well I didn’t want you to find me.  And honestly I couldn’t go back there.  Not after…all this.  It hurt too much.  But then I forgot you’ve been here so it’s possible I didn’t think it all the way through?”  They both laughed.

“Did you want to quit?  I mean, I know it isn’t your dream job but…”

“It was hardly my dream job.  But no, I didn’t necessarily want to.  I’ll call Wendy.  She’s been very kind and I should have at least given notice.  Which I will next time if I figure out whatever the dream job is.  It could take a while though.”

“So what if it does?  Anyway, I’m sure the customers at Blouse Barn will be thrilled to have you for as long as they can.  I know that’s how I feel.”  Patrick flashed a cheesy grin.

“Ok that’s enough of that.”

“I mean it David.  I wanna be with you.  For as long as you’ll let me.”

“Sure you say that now…”

“I’ll say it now, I’ll say it tomorrow, and I’ll say it when I’m drawing my last breath.”

“Ok take a breath now, please?  Besides, you’ll be sick of me way before then.  And want to get as far away as possible.”

“Extremely unlikely.  I can’t get enough of you.  I’m addicted.”

“That’s enough now.”  David paused before turning serious.  “In my experience, people don’t stay.  I’m kind of a lot and they all get tired of it sooner or later.”

“Their loss.  Being a lot is one of my favorite things about you.”  The caramel eyes always win.

“Shut up and kiss me.”  Patrick would never refuse a request from the man he loves.

“So with everything that happened today, I haven’t had breakfast yet.“   Patrick glanced at his watch.  “Or lunch.  And I might be a little…dehydrated?  You hungry?”

“I could eat.”

Patrick beamed as he wrapped his arms around David.  His David.  And he planned on never letting go.

Chapter Text

Five years ago if anyone told the Roses their lives would be so much better off after they lost their fortune, they’d have been met with blank stares before Moira released the hounds.  Just kidding.  They didn’t have hounds. But the audacity to suggest the raid and everything to follow would be a good thing?  They wouldn’t have believed a word.  And they should have.  The family was closer and happier than they ever thought possible in that cold, ostentatious mansion.   Plus there was no way could Johnny come back from financial ruin, much less rise from the ashes with a business model even smarter and more sustainable.  Moira was her own biggest fan but she knew it was highly unlikely her star would ever rise again.  Alexis settled down in a career she loved and innately talented doing was…doubtful.  And David would have shut down any suggestion of a life he was actually proud of with a devoted husband by his side.  Impossible scenarios all.  

 

The Rosebud Motel Group was expanding at an unbelievable pace with revenues exceeding the initial projections.  Televisions Moira Rose was in demand again.  Correction, that should read Emmy winning Televisions Moira Rose.  Alexis was setting the PR world on fire with consistently original and effective campaigns.  The business David and Patrick built from the ground up was not only thriving, it revitalized the entire town where they had been so unceremoniously dumped with nothing but the suitcases full of designer clothing on their backs.

 

They were rich.  But not like they used to be.  Bank accounts were flush again, yet they had so much more than money.  They openly loved each other.  They were kinder.  Their family expanded with a brand new son-in-law and a woman who was for all intents and purposes their adopted daughter and sister.  And nothing made the Roses happier than sharing their newfound success with the people who helped them most when they had nothing.  Stevie, Roland, and Jocelyn had done what all of their former “friends” had not.  So their loyalty and generousity was rewarded with considerable wealth of their own.

 

*************************************************************************************

 

David was delighted to remain in Schitt’s Creek.  Staying meant he would be near his first and only best friend.  Every day he saw the people who loved him for who he was and not what he could give them.  Above all, he had his Patrick.  A man he fell in love with at first sight who loved him right back.  A man who was good and supportive and protective.  A man who loved all of David.  Even the parts people from his old life hated, dismissed, or ridiculed.  

 

After the divorce was finalized, Patrick and David found their own apartment as the family’s trajectory was beginning to rise.  Wendy got a big fucking check when she sold her business name to a global corporation, no small thanks to David.  She rewarded him with his own not quite as big fucking check which was enough to fund his idea for the general store.  The dream job.

 

Stevie came around pretty quickly to the idea of David being with Patrick.  From the day he came searching for him, she saw how deeply and genuinely he loved her best friend.  As they got to know each other, their own friendship deepened.  Tag-team teasing David was becoming their favorite pastime.  Patrick adored her take no prisoners attitude and how fiercely she loved David.  Considering the ugly way they first met, they certainly came a long way.

 

*************************************************************************************

 

The day Patrick proposed took David completely by surprise.  Seeing him on bended knee nervously clutching the four custom engagement rings, David couldn’t believe how lucky he was after the constant disappointment of his old life.  His Patrick wanted to get married.  To him!  The yes couldn’t come out fast enough.

 

As not-quite-lavish ceremonies go, theirs was lovely with the whole town in attendance.  Rachael flew in with Patrick’s parents and was thrilled for her best friend.  After an awkward introduction, David was completely shocked for liking her as quickly as he did.  She was good people too.  And she selflessly stepped aside to give Patrick his life.  Their life.  He’d never be able to thank her enough for that. 

 

After the uncertainty of their “courtship”, Patrick never wanted David to feel an ounce of insecurity ever again.  So a few months after the wedding, he surprised his husband with a gorgeous stone cottage for them to live in.  David had casually mentioned he thought it was a nice house and his husband bought it for him.  Who does that?

 

******************************************************************************************

 

They were enjoying their first Monday off after a very busy holiday shopping season.  David finished packing away their Christmas decorations and the silver menorah Patrick gave him for Hanukkah.  He had just settled on the sofa when his husband called out from the kitchen.

 

“Honey, my mom wanted to thank you again and let us know they got back safe.”

 

“Good.  Tell them it was our pleasure and I’ll call her tomorrow.”  Patrick’s heart was so full from the growing relationship between his parents and his David.  He hung up the call to join his husband.

 

“Well they couldn’t stop gushing about the house.  Or you.  So I guess that settles it.  My parents officially love you more than me.”  

 

Patrick kissed the top of David’s head and flopped beside him.

 

“Can you blame them?  I’m fucking delightful.  And to be fair, my family loves you way more so we’re even.”

 

“It’s not a contest David.”  Patrick stroked his husband’s leg.

 

“Isn’t it though?  And for the record, you’re the one who's winning.  Your parents love everybody.  But my family and Stevie??  It’s almost impossible to win over that group of carneys.”

 

“Hey!   Those ‘carneys’ welcomed me with open arms.  Even after they found out what I put you through.  I’ll always love them for that.”

 

“It wasn’t exactly ideal but look how things ended up.  Totally worth it.”  David closed his eyes and nuzzled against his husband.

 

“Yeah.  I was so afraid we’d never get here.”  Patrick was starting to lose himself in the ‘what ifs’ and David sensed it.

 

“Well we did.  So shut up and kiss me.”  Patrick happily obliged.  The crackling fireplace was the only sound in the room other than a few assorted sighs.

 

“I should start dinner soon.  You hungry?”

 

“I could eat.”  Patrick will never get tired of hearing that.

 

“Anything in particular?”

 

“Hmm...”  David considered the possibilities.

 

“David.  Just tell me what you want.”

 

“Everything.”

 

It was a tall order.  But Patrick gave David exactly that.

 

Zey zehen bashert.