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Patrick stood still, smiling patiently while David adjusted his tie, having completed some sort of complicated knot that Patrick would have never been able to pull off himself. “Satisfied?”

David smirked. “With you? Always.”

“Thank you, but we’re going to be late, so let’s hold onto that thought for later,” Patrick said, grabbing the hangers with their regalia off the door frame as David ducked in front of the mirror to check his reflection again. “David, you are literally about to put a hat on. No one is going to see your hair. Besides, you look perfect already.”

“I know you’re just indulging me, but I’ll accept that.” 

Patrick chuckled, walking toward the door. “We do what we have to do.”

“Hey…” David grabbed Patrick’s wrist before he could reach for the doorknob. “Are we ready to do this?”

“Of course we are.” He leaned into David, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. “I love you. Let’s go start the rest of our lives.”

* * * * *

Patrick squeezed David’s hand as they entered the arena to the sound of wild applause, his eyes automatically scanning the rows of seats to see if he could spot his parents or David’s family, hoping someone would get a picture of them. He felt incredibly lucky he got to not only share the day with David, but really enjoy each moment together, side by side.  He knew what they had was rare and their situation even more so. There probably weren’t many people who got to walk into their university graduation hand-in-hand with their high school sweetheart -- the love of their life -- having shared nearly everything for the last four years.

David gave him a smile -- easy and bright, dimples and all -- like he knew what Patrick was thinking and felt the same way. After being together for six years, they practically did read each other’s minds, for better or for worse.

He followed David into the row of chairs placed on the floor of the arena, still looking into the stands for any familiar faces. He noticed Mrs. Rose first -- her oddly colored wig bold against the sea of people -- with Mr. Rose on one side of her and Alexis on the other. “David, I found your parents and Alexis…” he whispered, nodding his head in their general direction and suddenly realized that his mom was next to Alexis and his dad right beside her. He knew he shouldn’t be surprised at this point, since their families had been slowly integrating for years now, seeming to realize that he and David were an inevitability. 

When they were finally given permission to be seated after the introductory remarks, Patrick smoothed his gown, not wanting to put any wrinkles in the material David had so meticulously ironed for him. As soon as he was seated, David pressed his thigh against Patrick’s, tangling their fingers together again and resting their joined hands in his lap.

As the president of the university began to welcome the parents and families of the graduates, Patrick found himself unable to focus on anything being said. He kept thinking back to their apartment, and David asking, “Are we ready to do this?” Everything they’d done for the past four years had led up to this moment -- they’d walk across the stage, accept their diplomas, and then... it would be over. It didn’t feel like the end, though --  not when there was so much ahead of them. He was sure they’d had a thousand conversations about what was next, and while there were still many unknowns and possibilities, the one thing that was absolutely certain was that they’d be together. As much as Patrick would have liked to have a concrete plan in place, knowing David would be with him was really enough. He was happy. Content. Ready for anything.

Patrick glanced at David, smiling when he saw David was already looking at him. He elbowed David gently as he whispered, “Five.”

“Sixteen.” He gave Patrick’s hand a squeeze and turned his attention back to the stage.

Patrick wasn’t even going to attempt to pretend he was listening -- his mind already doing some sort of nostalgic montage sequence, courtesy of their long-shared shorthand, language built over years of being David-and-Patrick.

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

(Summer before University)

“It’s just so common, Patrick. Everyone says that, and like, none of them mean it.” David leaned back, his head resting on Patrick’s stomach.

Patrick immediately slipped his fingers into David’s hair, lightly scratching at his scalp and giving the gentlest of tugs as he began combing through the silky strands. “You know I mean it, though.”

David closed his eyes, relaxing under Patrick’s touch. “I know. Which is why there should be different words… better words for us. Our words. Not what everyone else says.”

Patrick smiled, the way he always did when David was being pretentious and adorable. “How else would you like me to tell you that I love you?”

“I don’t know right now. I’ll let you know when I find something acceptable.”

“Thanks. I appreciate that,” Patrick told him. “So what am I supposed to say between now and then?”

“I guess you can still tell me you love me,” he said, tilting his head just enough to smirk at Patrick.

“So generous.” Patrick settled further into the pillows, wondering if it was really possible for there to be anything better than this moment. They talked about going to university all the time -- like that was when everything would change and become the best time of their lives. But here, with David, it all seemed pretty perfect already.

“We need to talk about our dorm room,” David suddenly declared, rolling over and folding his arms on Patrick’s chest.

“Beyond the extremely thorough aesthetic guidelines you’ve already given me about everything I am - and am not - allowed to bring with me?” Patrick asked. “What else do we have to discuss?”

“Patrick.” 

“David.”

“What about towels? Sheets? Rugs? What goes on the walls? Do we share one of those shower caddy things or can I have my own? What about the wardrobes? And the…” 

Patrick leaned up to kiss him, abruptly cutting off what was gearing up to be an endless stream of questions. “I figured we’d go shopping and you would tell me what towels and sheets and … whatever… to buy. We both know your products take precedence and I’ll keep mine wherever there’s space. Just like I know I’m going to use the drawers and all your clothes will get hung up. We’re going to be fine.”

David sighed, a happy, contented sound. “This is why I love you.”

“Oh, so now you’re okay with saying ‘I love you’?” 

“Circumstantial.” 

Patrick chuckled softly. “Of course.”

David was silent for a moment, looking hesitant about what he wanted to say next.  “But what about...” He paused, blinking. “Nevermind.”

“No, what is it?” Patrick prompted, sweeping his thumb along the line of David’s jaw.

He leaned into Patrick’s caress. “What about our beds?”

“What about them?” 

“There’s two of them! Two twin beds!” David huffed. “How am I supposed to sleep in a room where you’re right there, but in a separate bed?!”

Patrick smiled, bright and wide, both amused and deeply pleased this was a concern for David. The very same thought had also crossed his mind. “We can push them together and make a king size? Or…. sleep in one and use the other one for… not sleeping?”

“Mmm… another reason why I love you…” David murmured, his knee pressing between Patrick’s thighs as he repositioned himself over Patrick to kiss him deeply.

* * * * *

“So, I was thinking about what you said the other day,” Patrick mentioned, dropping down beside David on the chaise lounge.

David shifted, sliding his leg over Patrick’s thighs to straddle them. “I say a lot of things. You’re going to have to be more specific.”

Patrick reached up, hand around the back of David’s neck, and gently brought him down for a fairly chaste kiss. “What you said about needing better words to say ‘I love you’.”

“Yeah?” David sat back on his heels, like he was settling in for a serious talk. “What were you thinking?”

“What if there’s not better words, but… numbers?” Patrick asked, hesitantly, a little worried David might find his idea kind of stupid.

David’s brow furrowed, “Numbers? I’m going to need more information.”

Patrick grabbed David’s hands, holding them. “You wanted something just for us. So I thought, what about .. numbers that are important to us? Like… five-sixteen?” 

“What’s significant about five hundred and sixteen?” David asked, clearly not following Patrick’s train of thought.

Patrick smiled, “No, like five and sixteen. Five-sixteen. We met when we were five. We got together when we were sixteen. It’s where we came from, times we were there for each other. ”

David gave him a grin, tucked off to the side, as if he was trying to hide how much he liked the idea. “So we say… 516? Or five and then sixteen?”

“Hey, David?”

“Yes, Patrick?”

“Five.” 

“Sixteen.” David rolled his eyes, still fighting the turned up corners of his mouth. “Fuck. That’s good. Fine.”

 

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Patrick was startled back to the ceremony by David releasing his hand as another round of applause for… something broke out. He joined everyone in clapping as he looked around, mystified. David gave him a little smile, tucked off to the side of his mouth and Patrick was nearly overwhelmed with the urge to kiss him. As celebratory as he felt, he knew this wasn’t the time or place. Although, arguably, they’d … celebrated plenty of things around campus that probably weren’t necessarily appropriate for the time or place. 

He’d kiss him later. Immediately after the ceremony, he’d grab David’s face and kiss him like he meant it, because he would. He always did. Always would.

 

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(Fall semester, first year)

“They were having sex in the communal shower Patrick! It’s just… incorrect!” David sputtered, arms flailing around his body as he expressed his disgust and contempt. 

Patrick sat on the edge of their bed, biting his lip to keep from laughing as he waited for David to wind down. “David… do I need to remind you that we were going to shower after having sex? They just saved themselves from having to walk down the hall all… sticky and fucked out.”

“It’s not the same! I go to shower to get clean, not … listen to other people getting dirty!” 

“When did you get so uptight?” Patrick asked, grabbing David by the wrist and pulling him into his lap. 

David’s jaw dropped. “I am not uptight! I just have standards!” 

Patrick snorted. “It’s a shared bathroom in a boys dorm, David. How high can your standards be?” 

“Says the guy who wears the multi-pack pedicure slippers from the dollar store for shower shoes!” David jumped up, gesturing to Patrick’s shower caddy and his collection of cheap pastel flip-flops.

“Yeah, so I throw mine away post-shower and don’t bring them back to stay in the room, like you do. Which makes me… cleaner.” Patrick said, watching David’s horrified expression as he realized Patrick might be right. He stood, pulling David close and kissing the frown off his face. 

* * * * *

“You have got to be quiet!” Patrick hissed, slapping his free hand over David’s mouth. Even though it was late and it was unlikely they’d be interrupted, he didn’t want to invite the possibility of someone catching them because David was practically howling. 

David’s moans seemed amplified within the tiled walls of the bathroom, the running water of the shower doing little to stifle them. He thrust his hips toward Patrick, his fingertips digging into Patrick’s waist, pulling them closer together, lessening the space for Patrick’s hand to slide back and forth over them. 

Patrick bowed his head, nipping at David’s neck as he shuddered, just as close as David was to tumbling over the edge. He gripped a little harder, his fist speeding up as he jerked them both with a reckless motion. He bit again, sharp against David’s collarbone and David was groaning, his body trembling as he came, warm for only a second on Patrick’s stomach before it was washed away. He dropped the hand trying to keep them incognito, David whispered, “Come for me,” and he couldn’t stop the sound he made if he’d had to.

David leaned into him. “And you told me to be quiet.”

Patrick chuckled weakly, concentrating on staying upright on shaky knees. 

David slipped his hands around Patrick’s back, holding him tightly. “I can’t believe we have become the people having sex in the showers.”

“It’s our anniversary. We can have sex wherever we want to,” Patrick told him, his lips brushing over David’s.

“Only because it’s been two years. We are not celebrating any of the monthiversaries you insist on observing this way,” David clarified.

“No sex on monthiversaries?!”

“No shower sex on monthiversaries. All other forms of sex are highly encouraged.” David said, reaching to turn off the water and give Patrick one more filthy kiss before they dried off.

 

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Patrick slid his hand over David’s thigh, grasping the fabric of his gown lightly. Anniversary shower sex had become something of a tradition, but only the one time in the communal bathroom. As David looped his arm through Patrick’s, shifting just enough to press their shoulders together, he felt another surge of gratitude that he was so damn lucky. He knew some people spent their whole lives looking for their person, and he’d ducked under a table at five years old and found the other half of his heart.

He glanced back up at the stage, seeing a girl he vaguely recalled from one of his business law classes approaching the podium. Realizing he should probably attempt to listen to at least something that was said, he tried to focus on her words. But as soon as she mentioned all the great times she’d shared with her sorority, his mind was wandering off again.

 

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(Spring semester, first year)

“Why are we here again?” David asked, following Patrick through the frat house, his finger hooked on the belt loop of Patrick’s jeans so he wouldn’t lose him.

“Because Nick’s girlfriend is in this sorority and he promised her everyone on the team would come to the party,” he explained again.

“I still don’t understand why that means we have to be here.”

Patrick turned to look at him, fondly exasperated. “Because I’m on the team and you said you were coming with me.”

“Sounds fake, but okay.”

Patrick stopped at a cooler overflowing with melting ice and fished out two cans of beer. He handed one to David and popped the top on the other, then tapped it against David’s in a tinny ‘cheers’. “Have a drink. We’ll hang out a bit and then go back to our room and you can pick what we watch and I won’t even tease you about it.”

David’s eyes lit up, “Even if I want to watch…”

Patrick sighed, “Yes, David, even if you want to watch Sweet Home Alabama again.”

David clinked his beer with Patrick’s and took a sip, his face making a complicated series of expressions ranging from trepidation to disgust and, finally, resignation. “Are you going to say hi to your sportsball people?”

“I mean, I figured I would at some point…”

David gave him a quick tap on the ass. “Go, bro.”

“You sure?”

David glanced around at the room full of people engaged in various kinds of debauchery. “Oh yeah, I have plenty of things to keep me entertained.”

Patrick kissed his cheek and chugged his beer, adding it to an already impressive pyramid of empties before winding his way through the clusters of people to find his teammates.

Some indeterminate amount of time and several beers later, Patrick realized it had been far too long since he’d seen David. Nick and Corey had challenged him and James to beer pong and they’d gotten on a hell of a winning streak. He was feeling pleasantly buzzed and more than a little horny. If he wanted to have any shot at getting any, he knew he needed to find David and probably rescue him from some flirty sorority girl. He made his way through the house, scanning each crowded room for a glimpse of David’s perfectly styled hair.

“There you are.”

He stopped in the middle of the hallway, in front of a dark room and turned to see David, leaning against the door jamb. “Hiding out?” 

“I can only watch so many keg stands. I will admit, though, I was very impressed by that one girl,” David said, toying with the collar of Patrick’s polo shirt.

“Yeah? You missed me winning beer pong like, five times in a row,” Patrick told him.

“And you’re bragging about that?” David asked, his fingers gripping the fabric and pulling Patrick toward him, lips crashing together in a fierce kiss. He wound his arms around Patrick’s neck, bringing them closer and knocking Patrick’s ball cap askew as he tilted his head. Eyes still closed, tongue still teasing Patrick’s, he reached up and grabbed the bill of the cap, turning it around backwards, and continued to kiss him, gently guiding him toward the nearest wall. 

Patrick groaned in the kiss, his ass bumping against the corner of a small table neither of them realized was there. He pulled away from David and took a deep breath. “What are we doing here?”

“I’m trying to fuck my boyfriend at a frat party, what are you doing?” David’s hands slid into the back pockets of Patrick’s jeans, cupping the curve of his ass as he pushed his hips against him.

Patrick’s eyes went wide in the dim light of the room. “You wanna do that … here?” 

David looked at him, a devious smile on his face. “Isn’t that what these soirees are for? Getting drunk and finding someone to fuck?” 

“I guess... I mean… I don’t… I don’t know… I’m not really drunk and I definitely don’t wanna fuck anyone else…” he started, rambling until David cut him off with a kiss.

“You played beer pong, that’s close enough,” David mumbled, his lips brushing along Patrick’s jaw. “And I’m very glad you didn’t find anyone else you wanted to hook up with.”

Patrick gasped as David brought a hand around to the front of his jeans and deftly unbuttoned and unzipped them in one smooth move. Suddenly it felt very important to make sure that David knew he was serious before he got distracted by David’s hands and mouth and David in general. He brought his hands up to either side of David’s face, holding him in place. “David. I just want you -- you know that right?”

“Yeah?” he asked, a smile tucked off to the side.

“Yeah. I don’t want anyone else. Like, ever.” 

David raised an eyebrow. “That’s… a long time.”

“I know. I want you for a long time,” Patrick insisted. He dropped his hands to David’s hips and thrust against him. “And I want you now.”

Fuck.” David shuddered and dropped to his knees, quickly freeing Patrick’s already hard cock from its confines and swallowing him down.

Patrick’s knees nearly buckled at the warm, wet perfection of David’s mouth, the sound of him breathing carefully to allow him to work back and forth along Patrick’s length, taking him deep each time. He tangled his fingers in David’s hair, the thrill of being hidden just barely out of sight, only just away from the crowd counterbalancing any effect the alcohol may have had, and he was trembling, muscles tensing for release in an amount of time that would be embarrassing if he was with anyone but David. 

David wrapped one hand around Patrick’s cock, jerking him quickly to his orgasm, the other around his thigh, keeping him steady as he came with a low moan. He licked his lips and stood, tucking Patrick carefully back into his jeans as he kissed him.

Patrick was still breathing hard when he broke the kiss, unable to help the dopey smile on his face. God, David was incredible. He wanted to get his hands and mouth on him immediately, but back in their room, where he could take his time, take him apart slowly.  “Let’s go... I’ve got some plans for you while you watch Reese do her thing.”

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

“In the words of the amazing Elle Woods, ‘It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.’ Congratulations, graduates!”

Patrick watched as the girl exited the stage to enthusiastic applause, most notably from a group of girls clustered together a few rows ahead of them.

“Can you believe she quoted Legally Blonde?!” David hissed, clearly offended that someone had dared invoke the name of his favorite Harvard Law student.

“The audacity.” He patted David’s thigh, blatantly placating. Out of nowhere, he remembered the girl's name and the class he’d had with her, they’d worked on a group project about the impact of taxation on economic development with … Miles. Damn, that had already been like two years ago. 

 

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(Fall Semester, second year)

“No, that’s literally the opposite of what it means, Miles,” Patrick chuckled. 

Miles groaned. “That’s it. I give up. I’m just going to bow out gracefully and sign up for macro again next semester.”

“And how many times will that be then?”

“Four, okay? I can’t help it. I’m not a… a business brain savant like some people I know,” Miles huffed, looking angrily at a squirrel darting around their table in the quad.

“Did you just call me a business brain savant?” Patrick scowled, trying to decide if he was offended or actually kind of delighted by that very nerdy designation.

“You heard me. That's exactly what I said. You just get this stuff and you’re going to be the CEO of your own business one day or something and I… I am going to work in fast food until I die,” Miles said, dropping his pen onto the table.

“I can’t in good conscience let you fail this class for a third time.” Patrick gestured to their open notebooks, pages getting ruffled by the breeze. “C’mon, let’s go over it aga…”

Miles waited a second for Patrick to finish his sentence, then started looking around for what had so thoroughly distracted him. “I don’t see anything… What’d I miss?”

Patrick barely heard him, the whole of his attention focused on David’s retreating figure walking across the open grass between the rows of tables. He left David still sleeping in their bed, having a much earlier class than his extremely-not-a-morning-person boyfriend, so he hadn’t seen what David had chosen to wear for the day. If he had, there was an excellent chance he’d have never made it to class. 

He swallowed hard, watching the gentle swish of David’s plaid skirt across the back of his knees, his bare calves, heavy black boots, and black messenger bag cutting across his bright white sweater. Fuck. He felt like he finally got the schoolgirl fantasy costumes he saw girls wearing at Halloween, because everything about that look was really working for him. Probably too well considering his very public location and company.

Miles apparently followed his eyeline and asked, “Is that a dude in a skirt?”

“No,” Patrick said, hurriedly slamming his books shut and shoving them into his backpack. 

“Right there, it is! You can’t miss him. That’s totally a dude wearing a skirt!” Miles insisted, pointing in David’s direction.

Patrick stood up, slinging his backpack over his shoulder, and looked at Miles. “That’s not a dude wearing a skirt, that’s my boyfriend wearing a skirt, and I gotta go.”

He jogged off to catch up with David, completely unconcerned with Miles and the upcoming macroeconomics test, and very, very focused on getting his hands -- and mouth -- under that skirt. He slowed down as he got closer to David and easily fell into step beside him, glancing at him out of the corner of his eye, pleased David hadn’t even startled at his sudden presence. “I hardly think this is fair.”

David tilted his head, bewildered. “What’s not fair?”

“You just walking across the campus looking so damn hot… it’s not fair to anyone else’s self-esteem… or to me,” Patrick told him.

David preened a little at the compliment. “Okay, how is this not fair to you?”

“It’s a little inconvenient to get hard while I’m tutoring someone for econ,” Patrick snarked.

David stopped mid-step, smirking. His eyes flickered down to Patrick’s crotch. “Oh, yeah?” 

“Like you have any doubt.” Patrick rocked up on his tiptoes, pressing his lips to David’s for a quick, dirty kiss. 

David pulled away, lust unmistakable in his expression. “When’s your next class?”

Patrick checked his watch. “Twenty minutes…”

“Do you care if you miss it?” David asked, his fingers resting on Patrick’s belt buckle.

“Not even a little bit.”

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

Patrick was wondering if David still had that skirt when he realized everyone was clapping again. Was there always this much applause at graduation? He’d expected a lot of talking, but he had also thought he’d probably be paying more attention to it. Maybe he should have anticipated the nostalgia, these last few hours before they graduated and the “real life” everyone talked about really got started. He wondered if he should be more nervous about everything, but the only thing that had freaked him out to think about was the possibility of somehow tripping across the stage as he went to get his diploma in the slippery-soled shoes David had picked out for him. 

He glanced at the crowd around them, catching sight of their families as Alexis noticed him looking their way and waved. It still felt odd to see the Roses on campus, something they’d never actually done in the entire time he and David had been at the university. He was thankful his own parents had figured out how to navigate being actively involved, but also kept their distance for he and David to have some time and space of their own.

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓



(Spring Semester, Second Year)

“There he is!” Clint called out as Patrick jogged up to meet David and his parents on the bleachers after the game. 

“Hey Dad.” He gave his dad a quick hug, then turned to his mom, allowing her to pull him in and ruffle his curls. “Mom! Seriously?”

“You had hat hair!”

“I just played 10 innings of baseball, I’m gonna have hat hair,” he said, leaning down to kiss David on the cheek before pulling his ball cap back on.

“Mmmm, it was a very long game today,” David remarked from where he was lounging in Clint’s stadium chair.

“You look pretty comfortable, so I’m not sure what you have to complain about,” Patrick teased, eyeing the insulated cups and discarded snack packages surrounding the area where they’d been sitting.

“I’m not complaining, I was just stating the fact that the game was longer than I would have preferred, but the company and the food were excellent,” he told Patrick.

Patrick looked back at his dad, “You made him the hot dogs, didn’t you?”

Clint chuckled. “Of course I did. And I hope you didn’t want any because they are gone.”

“I’d apologize,” David began, sliding his sunglasses down his nose, “but I am not sorry at all.”

“I would have never expected you to be,” he replied, snagging the drink that he assumed was David’s and taking a sip.

“That was a great game, son.” Clint gave Patrick a pat on the back, smiling proudly at him.

“Thanks, Dad.”

“And you did so good getting out of the pickle between the bases!” David exclaimed.

Patrick beamed at him, “Thank you, David.”

“We were very surprised he knew that term,” Marcy commented, giving David a soft smile. 

Patrick nodded. “Yeah, he only remembers that one because…”

“It’s food.” David said, simultaneously with Clint and Marcy.

Patrick felt a surge of affection so strong it nearly knocked him off-kilter, standing in the sunshine after a killer win for his team, with the three people who meant the most to him. This was his family -- the most important parts of his life -- and he knew he was so, so lucky they all blended together so seamlessly. His parents loved David like he was their own, and had been accepting of his relationship with David from the moment they noticed their son’s best friend had become something more than that. His boyfriend adored his parents, leaned into their desire to make him part of everything. He was happy, content, and settled in a way he’d never expected or imagined could happen at 20 years old. But he always had been a bit of an overachiever. 

“Are you boys free for the afternoon?” Clint asked, looking between David and Patrick.

“Yeah, we made sure we didn’t plan anything while you were here so we could spend time with you,” Patrick mentioned, as David nodded his agreement.

“Oh, good! We’re going to take you somewhere. We’ll go clean up at the hotel so you have time to shower and change and we’ll pick you up in … an hour?” Marcy glanced at David and laughed at his very unsure expression. “An hour and a half it is.”

“Thank you so much.” David let himself be pulled into a hug from both Marcy and Clint, then waited as they said goodbye to Patrick with a promise to be back in about 90 minutes. He reached for Patrick’s hand, beginning the walk back to their room. “You look very cute today.”

“Oh, today, huh? As opposed to any other day when I look like I crawled out from under a bridge?” Patrick nudged his arm, the two of them bumping into each other as they fell into step together.

“Yes, just today. Normally you look like the troll you are,” David teased, his eyes unmistakably warm. 

“And yet, here you are. With me.”

“No place I’d rather be.” David stopped, pulled him in for a quick kiss, and started back down the sidewalk, tugging Patrick along. “Where do you think your parents are taking us?”

“I have no idea… I heard there’s a traveling exhibition with some performance artist from the Mittens Township Improv Troupe about codpieces as symbols of status in medieval Europe on campus. So, maybe that?”

“Why would they even know about something like that? Why do you know about it?”

Patrick shrugged, “There was a poster in the student center.”

* * * * *

“This is amazing,” David whispered, clutching Patrick’s arm even tighter.

If Patrick kept a list of his best days, he was sure this one would be a top five, easily. Despite the beautiful surroundings, he couldn’t take his eyes off David and the look of wonder and joy on his perfect face. Ever since he’d realized where they were when Clint had turned into the parking lot for the botanical garden, David’s monologue had been a stream of softly uttered observations of beauty and whimsy, and Patrick was so in love with him he didn’t know what to do with himself. 

He’d gotten a little teary when David had profusely thanked his parents for bringing them, for remembering a comment he’d made years ago in passing when he’d been upset over his parents deciding he wouldn’t be joining them on a trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms like they’d promised. But here they were, a decade later, standing together under the pink blooms as they swayed in the breeze beneath the bright blue sky.

Patrick was thankful his mother was doing her amateur paparazzi impression, taking picture after picture of them as they wandered through the garden. Surely there would be at least a couple David would approve of and they’d be able to frame. Seeing his parents together, holding hands as they talked animatedly about some of the flowers they saw and would like to try to add to their garden, made him feel a little extra soft and gooey as he envisioned himself and David, 40 years in the future. He could imagine still being excited about the plans they could make together, to have so many things to look forward to even though they’d already spent so much of their lives with one another. 

His breath caught as looked at David, his silhouette highlighted by a streak of sunlight filtering through the leaves of the cherry tree, surprised at just how content he seemed. “I know it’s not Japan, but…”

David turned to him, eyes shiny and bright. “No… it’s better.” 

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

David had been talking about it for years -- that he wanted to take Patrick to Japan the next time he went. When Moira and Johnny had finally taken David to Japan, it had been one of the few trips his parents had vetoed him joining the Roses on -- saying he’d be gone far too long in the middle of the school year (something the Roses never seemed to take into account). Even though the cherry blossoms hadn’t been blooming, David had come home absolutely in love with Japan and vowed that next time he went, Patrick would be with him. They could take that trip now, he realized. They’d talked about it plenty of times -- all the places they wanted to go, the things they wanted to see and experience together. The whole world was waiting for them… how would they decide where to go first?

“Finally,” David muttered and Patrick glanced at him, wondering what was finally happening. David tilted his head forward and Patrick noticed there were students filing toward the stage, waiting for their names to be called and declared officially finished with their university academic endeavors.

He’d heard that there were somewhere around 700 people graduating at this ceremony, and they weren’t particularly close to the front, so it was still going to be a while. Maybe he’d keep working on the to-travel list. Bali. Sweden. New Zealand. Italy. Fiji. Alaska. Chile. Wherever David wanted to go, Patrick wanted to go with him.

David nudged his foot playfully and hooked his ankle around Patrick’s, almost entirely without even looking down.

As much as he liked the idea of seeing the world with David, he was also sure that being at home with David would continue to be his favorite place. 

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

(Summer Before Third Year)

“I found it!” David yelled, causing Patrick to startle from an arms-length away. 

“Great! What did you find?” Patrick asked, having been wrapped up in his book and unaware David was even searching for anything.

“Our apartment,” David stated, like it should have been obvious.

“Our… apartment?” He knew David wanted to move out of student housing and have a place that was just theirs, but he was surprised he was actively looking for places. They’d had plenty of discussions about what they’d want and how nice it would be to really live together, but he thought the ease of access to campus and everything they needed had won out for practicality. Being able to secure a room with a private bathroom after their first year had remedied the majority of the previous year’s complaints.

“Yep. Look!” David tilted the laptop toward Patrick and handed him the mouse to scroll through the pictures.

Patrick clicked through the slideshow for the one bedroom apartment with sleek finishes, a soaking tub, walk-in closets, a private balcony, rooftop pool and a doorman. This had to be a ‘down-the-road’ apartment for some life that David saw them living far in the future. “Um…. that’s… that’s a lot.”  

David stared at him, obviously displeased with his less-than-enthusiastic response. “That’s it? Not exactly what I was going for.”

“It’s a beautiful apartment, David. Obviously.” Patrick hated that expression on his face, David’s dark eyes tinged with disappointment.

“Okay, so… you wouldn’t want to live there?”

“I mean, I guess? Where is it?” 

“It’s only three blocks from campus! How perfect is that?”

Patrick’s eyes got impossibly wide. “You want us to live there now?!”

David scowled. “I don’t want to live near campus after we graduate, and I don’t have to be here every day.”

“How would that be possible, David?” His eyes scanned the listing and he nearly choked when he saw the rent. “Is that per month?! I don’t even know how we’d make that happen with full time jobs.”

“Didn’t I tell you my parents said they’d cover it?” David asked, nonchalantly.

Patrick got up and walked across the room to look out the window, needing a moment and some space. There were times when he forgot just how insane the differences were between their lives and families. Being isolated for so long, just the two of them in their little bubble where it was all about school and fucking and being in love, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t even a thought. But sometimes it came back, hard and fast, and felt a lot like a punch in the gut.

“Patrick?” David’s voice was soft, timid.

He hadn’t heard David come up next to him, but he wasn’t surprised. David always got anxious when there was tension because it happened so rarely, they’d almost never needed to figure out how to navigate through it. He turned, pulling David into a hug and kissing his temple.  

“Talk to me, please.”

Patrick let him go with a sigh, stepping back just a few paces. “All our lives your parents have paid for everything. And I am so grateful for everything they’ve done for me. I’d have never been able to take the trips and do any of the incredible things we’ve done if it hadn’t been for them. Your dad even offered to buy my first car! It’s just… you know my mom clips coupons and my dad is always talking about how we all have to do our part. I’m an adult. I want to contribute to the life we have. I don’t want you to always be the one taking care of me and supporting me financially.”

David bit his lip and waited, giving Patrick a second to breathe. “But what if I want to?”

“Want to what? Pay for everything? Is this a rich person thing? Whoever has the money calls the shots for everyone?” Patrick questioned.

David turned away, head tilted back, and Patrick knew he was trying to keep it together. He shouldn’t have said any of those things; he didn’t mean them. It had never been like that, and it wasn’t fair of him to throw those accusations at David.

Patrick reached for David’s arm, grasping it gently. “David… I’m sorry.”

David spun around to face him. “You know money is the only way my parents know how to show affection.  And because I have access to it, that means you have access to it. Whatever… privilege I have because of them, I will always share with you. I want to take care of you, however I can.  You do so much to take care of me, a million little ways every day… if this is something I can do to take care of you, just let me, please? I want us to have a place that’s just ours. And I don’t want you to stress out over finding a job and making time for that and studying and never having time for us. Let’s just do the school thing, and I promise we can worry about where the money is coming from after graduation.”

Patrick sighed, shakily, heart skipping chaotically in his chest as he pulled David close again, tucking himself against him. David really was too much sometimes, but in all the best ways. “I love you. And … yeah, okay. I get it. It would be really nice to have a place that’s just for us.”

David draped his arms over Patrick’s shoulders, keeping them pressed together. “Next time we see my parents, just pretend to listen to my dad ramble about the next roll-out for a couple hours and that’ll easily be worth four or five month’s rent.”

* * * * *

Patrick leaned on the railing of the balcony, watching the sun drop below the skyline and feeling supremely content with David’s arms around him and his chin resting on his shoulder. He shifted a little, enough to kiss David’s cheek, but not so far that he had to take his eyes off the blazing oranges and vibrant pinks transforming their view after a long day of unpacking.  “I have to admit, this may not have been a terrible idea.”

David laughed softly, his fingers grasping Patrick’s chin to guide him to a better angle for a kiss that left them both breathless. He pulled away, smiling, “You want to check out the pool and then we can come back and christen our new shower?”

Patrick thought for a moment, considering his options. “Counter offer…” He paused, kissing David again.

“I’m listening.”

“We go christen our new bedroom… and then order pizza and save exploring the pool and shower sex for tomorrow,” Patrick suggested.

“Mmmm… I like the way you think.”

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓


Patrick watched the number of rows between them and their turn to walk to the stage get smaller, a little swoop of nerves rushing through him. It just seemed like a lot all of a sudden; they were here, ready to move on from this place that held so many memories, so much of their history as a couple, so many good times for them. Definitely more good times than bad, but, he couldn’t deny there had been a few moments he would have been happy to avoid.

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓



(Fall Semester, Third Year)

“I think I got it… like that?” David asked, his voice tinged with something Patrick didn’t quite recognize.

“YES! That’s it!”

Patrick stopped halfway through the door, frozen at the sound of an unfamiliar voice breathily celebrating whatever David had just done.

“I knew you’d be good at this.”

Patrick’s eyes went wide. Who was in their apartment? And what the fuck did they know David would be good at? He set his bag down by the couch and walked slowly toward the kitchen, trying to stay calm and not jump to conclusions, even if what he’d heard had sounded… suspicious. 

“This is not something I ever plan on being good at,” David replied.

“Oh, I’m sure you’re very good at a lot things.”

Patrick rounded the corner just in time to see who had delivered the innuendo-laced line -- a beautiful, dark-haired woman seated at the table with David, her hand gripping on his bicep. “Yeah, he is.”

David looked over, surprised. “You’re back from class early.”

“Yeah… normally you’re more excited about that,” Patrick said, very uneasy at the awkward tension he could feel hanging in the air.

The woman gave him a once over, like she was appraising him, then turned to David. “Who is this?”

“This is my… that’s Patrick.”

Patrick blinked at David, wondering what the hell he’d walked into. What the fuck kind of response was that? He moved closer to the table. “I’m Patrick, David’s boyfriend. Who are you?”

She smiled slowly… coyly. “I’m Riley. David’s … friend.”

“She’s helping me with some stuff from class,” David told him, a wash of panic crossing his face. 

Patrick glanced from David to the table, taking in the graph paper and algebra problems. He shook his head a little. “Yeah. Okay. That’s... good luck with that.” 

“Let’s get back to work, David,” Riley murmured, like nothing had happened.

Patrick turned on his heel and strode out of the room before he could say anything he’d regret. He took a deep breath as he made his way down the hall and fell face first onto their bed as soon as he was close enough. He trusted David. Everything was fine. 

Everything was not fine as he lay there, the faint scent of David’s cologne wafting off the sheets. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been there when he heard David padding into their bedroom and felt the bed sink beside him. He didn’t know if he could start talking and not sound angry or hurt, and he didn’t want to start a fight, so he waited for David. 

David was quiet, hesitantly reaching out to touch Patrick’s shin, as if he were testing the reception to see if Patrick would pull away. 

When he couldn’t wait any longer, Patrick rolled over and sat up, his eyes meeting David’s.  The uncertainty he felt was mirrored there so clearly, he couldn’t not say something. “So that’s Riley.”

David looked away. “... Yeah.”

“Who is helping you with algebra.”

“...Yeah.”

“That you let me think was someone from one of your art classes. That you were just hanging out with.” He didn’t think this was a conversation they’d ever been having and he hated it. “And that you failed to mention is a gorgeous woman, who is really into you.”

David fiddled with the silver ring on his finger. “What? Yeah, I guess she’s attractive.”

“Attractive enough that you couldn’t introduce me as your boyfriend in front of her. After she looked at me and decided I wasn’t competition.” Patrick wished he didn’t sound so petty and wounded, but fuck that hurt more than he’d thought possible.

“What are you talking about?” 

“David… you… misrepresented basically everything about that whole…  situation.” He didn’t want to say it -- to put the words out there and call them lies, even if that’s what he felt like they were.

David went silent again, eyes scrunched closed. 

Patrick slid off the bed. “Okay. Got it.”

He was proud he managed to not let the tears of frustration and anger fall until he was back out the door of their apartment, practically jogging toward the elevator. This wasn’t them. It wasn’t what they did. Stepping inside, he exhaled a shaky breath as the door closed and started to cry.

* * * * *


Patrick walked slowly back to their building, wondering how it had gotten so late. The street lights illuminated his sluggish pace, as he tried to stay away just a little while longer. He’d only meant to go for a couple blocks, maybe to campus and back, but he’d lost track of where he was and how long he’d been gone. And now, hours later, he was incredibly anxious at the prospect of going back to their apartment and seeing David with everything still waiting to be resolved. 

He knew that ultimately this was a non-issue, that they’d be fine, but it also shook him up somehow that they’d come to this place. They shared everything, but apparently not this. And that’s what bothered Patrick the most. 

Patrick approached the apartment building, not believing his eyes when he saw David huddled up on the concrete steps, bundled in a hoodie, waiting for him. He closed the distance quickly, climbing the steps as David stood to meet him. 

“Patrick, I’m so sorry.”

As soon as David held out his arms, Patrick was collapsing against him, wrapping himself around David and holding on tight. David dropped soft kisses over any part of his face that was within reach. “C’mon...” He led Patrick to a bench at the side of the building and waited for him to sit, then slipped his arm around his shoulders. “I’m sorry. And you’re right… I … wasn’t completely honest about her.”

Patrick looked up at him, fearing the worst.

David seemed to notice his stricken expression, “No! No… nothing happened. But, she, uh… it wasn’t for lack of trying on her part. She made it very clear from the beginning that she was available, if I was interested. Which I told her I was not.”

“When did you tell her that?” He knew David had been meeting up with her for a while, but it was different now that he knew who she was. 

David turned his whole body on the bench, angling more toward Patrick. “Today. When I asked her to leave and let her know I didn’t need any more… help.”

“She had no idea about me.”

“... No,” David admitted. “But we didn’t talk about anything like that, no personal stuff. She’s just… she’s the smartest person in my class, and she started flirting with me. I know I shouldn’t have taken advantage of that… of her … but it seemed like an easy way to get some help without having to… you know, admit I needed help.” 

“You know I’m good at math! Why didn’t you just ask me?” Patrick blurted out. He was willing to let everything go, he wanted to. He just needed answers.

David sighed. “You are good at math. And I am bad at math. And you are bad at explaining math.”

“I… what? I’ve been tutoring you for years!” 

David’s lips twitched into a small smile, “Yeah, but… I like boyfriend-Patrick. I do not so much enjoy serious-business-why-don’t-you-get-this-math-Patrick.”

Patrick opened his mouth to say something, but didn’t have any kind of comeback. He knew he could be intense sometimes when it came to numbers and mathematically-inclined projects, but he didn’t think he was that bad. But… this was different. This was David. He didn’t want to create conflict where it was possible to avoid it. “That’s… fair.”

“So, in the interest of maintaining my excellent relationship with boyfriend-Patrick, I will continue to find someone else to explain whatever the fuck those equations are,” David informed him, his smile wide enough to show off his dimple.

Patrick leaned in to kiss him, feeling both relieved and a little foolish. They were bigger than this, better than this. But more importantly, they were fine. “You know there’s a math tutoring center on campus, right?”

“I did not. And I do not care.”

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

Patrick turned to look at David -- who had managed to pass algebra quite successfully -- feeling ridiculous, the way he always did when he thought about the fact that he’d somehow let himself doubt David’s devotion. That even for a moment, he’d let that split second of worry overshadow all the evidence that told him David was his and surely as he was David’s.

“Patrick… c’mon… it’s our turn.” David grabbed his hand, pulling him to stand up and follow him down the row to walk toward the stage.

It’s our turn.

David’s words echoed in his head with every step he took. This was their turn, their beginning, and they could do whatever the fuck they wanted with it.

David stopped at the steps to the stage and pushed Patrick in front of him.

“Wha…” Patrick’s question was cut off by David leaning in for a kiss, using the step to bring their lips together at just the right angle. He whimpered as David moved away, smiling smugly. “I can’t believe you just did that.”

“Five-sixteen.” David winked and nudged him up the steps to keep the line moving.

Patrick nearly tripped up the stairs, still surprised by the sneak-attack kiss and David going full five-sixteen at this particular moment, trying to shake it off as he handed the reader his name card. 

“Patrick Xavier Brewer.”

Patrick made his way across the stage, accepting his diploma and a handshake from the university president and let the official photographer take a picture, trying to stall his exit so he could see David do the same.

“David Jonathan Rose.”

He watched David gracefully take his diploma and put on his best fake smile before the camera flashed. David was right behind him as he walked off the stage, reaching for Patrick’s hand so they could make the trip back to their seats together.

“Hey… look…” David said, stopping in the middle of the aisle to stop for Marcy and Clint, gesturing for them to pause for a photo.

Out of the corner of his eye, Patrick could see David smiling, for real this time, because he’d do anything Marcy Brewer wanted him to.

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

(Spring Semester, Third Year)

“What are you doing?” Patrick asked, extremely suspicious of David sitting on the floor, long legs criss-crossed, with a giant box in front of him and a pair of scissors poised to slice through the tape holding it together.

“Nothing?” 

“You are a filthy liar, David Rose. You were going to open it without me!” Patrick exclaimed, leaving his bag by the door and dropping onto the carpet opposite of David, the box between them.

“I was not! I mean, I was but I was just going to look and then… tape it back up,” he said, giving Patrick a grin obviously meant to distract him.

Patrick squinted at him accusingly. “You were going to open it and steal the butter tarts, weren’t you?”

“Ohmygod! Fine. Yes. I was. Are you happy now?” 

Unbelievable.” Patrick held his hand out and waited.

David sighed and handed the scissors over with an epic eye roll.

“Thank you.” Patrick sliced open the box, quickly pushing the flaps apart and pulling out the crumpled up newspapers and plastic grocery bags that had been shoved inside as padding. He stopped when he saw the card on top of the stack of goodies, “You want to read it?”

“Yes, thank you.” David snatched the card and carefully opened the envelope addressed to David and Patrick. “I love that she always puts my name first.”

“David… what does it say?”

My dear sweet boys, I know you two can go buy anything you need, but I can’t help it, I still want to take care of you while I can. Your apartment is already beautiful, but I wanted you to have a few things you can’t find in a store. I hope you’ll take some time for yourselves and enjoy all the things I’ve packed in this box. David, I sent extra butter tarts and cookies just for you -- they’re labelled. Remember that I am always thinking of you, and I love you both more than you know. Mom/Marcy.” David continued to look at the card after he stopped reading, like he was trying to memorize the extremely maternal contents. 

Patrick leaned over the box and pressed a soft kiss to his forehead, knowing he was having a little moment of feeling overwhelmed under the influence of Marcy Brewer’s endless affection and thoughtfulness. He watched David set the card aside. “Go ahead…”

David immediately reached inside, grabbing for the containers with his name written over the top in Marcy’s distinctive penmanship. When he was satisfied he’d claimed all the just-for-him treats, he sat back, content to be surrounded by a sugar coma’s worth of delicious baked goods. “All yours now.”

Patrick chuckled, “I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to share the rest of whatever is in here. And you know she’s going to ask next time she calls.”

“So, what’s in there?”

He pulled out several more containers of assorted cookies and set them aside, then came across something impossibly soft. Tugging it out of the box, he found a beautiful chunky knitted blanket with rows of black and blue chevron and noticed David eyeing it appreciatively as well. “She told me she was making us something… I guess this is it. What do you think, for the couch or the bed?”

“Couch. I’d say I want to keep it clean, but it’s probably just as likely to get… dirty out here as it is in there,” David commented, as Patrick jumped up to drape it over the back of the couch.

“We’ll make sure it’s out of bodily fluid range when we get busy out here,” Patrick told him, dropping a kiss on the top of David’s head before he flopped down onto the floor.

David wrinkled his nose. “Every inch of that sentence made me sick.”

“I’ll remember that next time you’re watching Beachfront Bargain Hunt reruns and begging me to give you head,” Patrick teased, leaning over the box to see what was next.

“Excuse you, I do not beg!” David protested.

Patrick glanced up at him. “Okay, David.”

David scowled, but didn’t argue anymore. “So, what else is there?”

Patrick burst out laughing as he held up a small, dirty, stuffed blue bird, “Oh my god, it’s BJ!”

“That seems a little too coincidental,” David muttered, looking over the raggedy plush. “That seems vaguely familiar…”

“It’s BJ Birdy, the Jays mascot. I got him at a game with my dad. I slept with him every night for years… unless I was at  your house.” Patrick smiled, thinking about the comfort the little toy had brought him, and the security he’d found in sharing a bed with David even a decade before it had started to take on a whole new meaning.

David was smiling softly at Patrick’s nostalgia. “Does this mean you two will be finding a place to sleep that’s not with me?”

“Nah, BJ will be fine on my desk. I prefer our current sleeping arrangement.” He grinned at David and stuck his hand back in the box, drawing out a large manila envelope. Unfastening the brad holding it closed, he peeked inside and immediately cracked up as he passed the envelope over to David.

David dumped out the contents onto his lap, suddenly covered with an avalanche of coupons for the No Frills grocery store. “This is passive harassment!”

“No, that is hilarious. You know my parents have always been very frugal. They’re just trying to help their favorite university students save some money.” Patrick chuckled, loving the idea of his mother taking the time to collect that many coupons just because she knew how David would react.

“They could have at least been for Loblaws!” David grumbled, shoving the small strips of paper back into the envelope.

Patrick was still snickering as he grasped a slender box and pulled it out, instantly less amused by seeing the sticky note that said, “Thought you might be able to have some fun with this! ” just on top of the picture of the polka dot mat under the Twister logo. “Oh god.”

David looked over and scanned the box, “Did… Did your mom mean to make a sex joke?”

“I’m going to pretend it didn’t happen.” Patrick shuddered, setting the game aside, but not before thinking she might be onto something. The next item didn’t help him trying to forget, as he realized he was holding a truly enormous box of condoms, which also had a sticky note that read, “ In case Twister gets extra frisky! Stay safe!” Patrick dropped the box, horrified. It wasn’t like he thought his parents didn’t know they had sex, had been having sex for years, but having it brought to his attention so brazenly that his mother had purposefully contemplated their activities was just too much. 

David tilted his head, seeming impressed. “How many are in there?!”

“Don’t make me look at it again,” Patrick groaned. 

He squinted at the box in Patrick’s lap. “Does that say 100? And they’re the good kind. Damn, Marcy.”

Patrick keeled over onto his side, face in his hands. “Please do not.”

David pushed the care package box aside and crawled over to Patrick, kissing whatever parts of his face weren’t hidden. “It was nice! I mean, those should last until what… spring break?”

He moved his fingers to let one eye peek out. “That’s in like, three weeks, David.”

David smirked. “I know.”

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

Settled back in the row with David, Patrick felt like he could relax. He’d done it. Business major Patrick was officially Bachelor of Science, Business Administration and Entrepreneurship Patrick. He couldn’t help but think it seemed a little anticlimactic somehow - four years of classes and projects and headaches and hard work and now he’s got a piece of paper that says he knows things? It didn’t seem like it was much to show for the experience he’d had at university. How could he account for four years with a single piece of paper? So much of his time at university had been with David and he was very pleased with the … souvenirs and mementos they’d accumulated throughout their time together.  

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

(Summer before Fourth Year)

“What’s this?”

Patrick looked up from the paper in front of him. “Oh hey… when did you get in?”

“Just a few minutes ago. What are you working on?” David asked, peering over Patrick’s shoulder before leaning down to kiss him. He grabbed one of the pages Patrick had written all over. “Why are you doing it so many times?”

“I just want it to look… right.” 

David shook his head. “These all look like you’re trying too hard to get it ‘right’,” he said, making air quotes. “Stop worrying about it.”

Patrick pushed the pile away and stood up, perching on the edge of the desk to pull David between his knees and bring him in for a kiss. “How was it today?”

“Oh, you know, beautiful people, great clothes, the usual,” he answered, just inches away from Patrick’s mouth, then slipped his arms over Patrick’s shoulders, kissing him in earnest, all soft lips and teasing tongues.

Breaking away for a breath, Patrick rested his forehead against David’s. “I miss you.”

“I know. I miss you, too.” David moved back, dropping his hands to Patrick’s thighs, rubbing back and forth as he spoke.  “I knew interning for him would be a lot of work, but I didn’t expect… this. I wanted to be able to show you around New York… I had plans! Walking through museums holding hands and going to all the best pizza places and showing you all the touristy things you wanted to see and just.. spending time with you here.”

“Hey… we’ve had a lot of great pizza… and I went to Times Square today…” He laughed at the relief on David’s face at being off the hook for that particular jaunt. “So maybe this weekend we can find a museum to hold hands in after our appointment?”

“I get to pick the museum, right?”

“Of course.”

“Good answer,” David said, leaning in for another kiss.

* * * * *

“I know we said we’d go to a museum today, but… I’d rather just look at you,” Patrick whispered, skimming his fingertips just below David’s belly button, from hip to hip, back and forth over the soft fabric of his joggers.

“Mmmm… same.”  David smiled, the soft, content curve of his lips that Patrick loved --  the look he knew was his alone.

“You think it’s been long enough?” 

David looped his finger through the drawstring of Patrick’s sweatpants. “It’s only been like 20 minutes since you asked last time.”

“It was just a suggestion, though, right? A couple hours… that’s really only like, two hours.” He felt like a kid whose parents had given some arbitrary amount of time and he just had to wait it out, impatient and frustrated.

“I believe what he actually said was at least a couple hours,” David reminded him, giving the string a tug.

“How are you so chill right now? Don’t you want to see?”

“I did see… I was there, remember?” 

Patrick scowled at him. “That’s not the same.”

“I don’t know… I was watching very intently.” David laughed lightly. “I guess….  I just feel like I’ve got the rest of my life to look.”

Patrick moved his hand to David’s waist, pulling him closer and kissed him deeply. “That’s like the minimum amount of time I want to be with you.”

David caught Patrick’s eyes for a moment, like he was searching for something, or maybe finding it. “I think it’s close enough to two hours.”

Patrick grinned, reaching to pull David off the bed with him, keeping a grasp on his wrist to lead him into the bathroom. He turned abruptly, wrapping his arms around David, bringing them chest to chest. “Five.”

“Sixteen,” David replied, smirking at their shirtless selves in the mirror. “So I guess we just… do it?”

“Yeah?” Patrick shrugged, rolling down the waistband of his sweats a few times. He watched David do the same, unconsciously licking his lips as more of David’s body was exposed. “You want me to …” 

David nodded. “Then I can…”

Patrick reached toward David, his hand brushing over the trail of dark hair below his navel as he reached for the corner of the medical tape holding the small black rectangle of plastick-y material in place just below the jut of David’s left hip bone. Very gently, he pulled it off David’s skin, revealing the pinked up area and raised lines. “Fuck... “ he breathed. “That’s so sexy.” He couldn’t wait to be able to touch it, to lick it and bite it when he was on his knees in front of David. 

David bit his lip, letting Patrick stare unabashedly until he couldn’t stand it anymore. “Let me…” As soon as Patrick was standing up straight again, David was taking the adhesive strip in his fingers and tugging it from Patrick’s hip, like Patrick’s impatience had become contagious. Removing the barrier he carefully traced the area around the fresh ink, avoiding contact with the actual tattoo. He looked at Patrick, his onyx eyes sparkling. “This is perfect.”

Patrick slipped his left arm around David’s waist, and pressed their hips together,  giddy with excitement and an almost possessive affection as the words lined up with each other, like a reflection, one against the other when their bodies came together. He loved that these secret parts of them were marked permanently, each carrying a piece of the other person, for their eyes only. The placement had been his idea; he  had wanted a spot on his body that only David had access to, somewhere that if he had his way would only ever belong to David. 

David put his hands on either side of Patrick’s face, cupping his jaw lightly as he kissed him, sweet and lush, then turned both of them toward the mirror, catching Patrick’s gaze in the glass. 

Patrick smiled immediately, his eyes instantly drawn to the new matching marks -- a set, a pair, made for one another. He thought the words looked like they were meant to be there: David’s elegant script on Patrick’s pale skin and Patrick’s distinctive scrawl across David’s. Standing beside him, he could wrap an arm around his waist and his hand would naturally curl around him right there. In their most intimate moments those words would meet again and again as they moved together. A shiver ran down his spine at the thought -- this step they’d taken, it seemed serious somehow. A commitment, a testament to the years that they’d been everything to each other, a promise for the years they had ahead of them.

He turned to David again, looking up at him. “I call you when I need you and my heart’s on fire… you come to me …” His eyes flickered down to the black ink. “Wild…

“And…” David smiled, underlining his handwriting on Patrick as he supplied the other word, “Wired.”

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

Patrick bit his lip, thinking about how he’d traced ‘wild’ with his tongue last night, the sound David made as he sunk his teeth into David’s hip, and the way David’s fingers had tangled in his hair. He shifted, trying to adjust the way he was sitting before he got carried away. His movement accidentally jostled David, who looked at him curiously then smirked, like he could tell what Patrick was thinking about. Although Patrick suspected he might have been thinking about it as well. 

He turned to see how many rows of students were left and  wondered what was on David’s mind. Was he reminiscing as well or had he already skipped ahead and started planning what he’d be ordering at dinner when they got together with their families?  They’d talk about it later, they always did. And sometimes he’d swear he could almost read David’s thoughts. But he was curious what David’s memories of university would be, if they’d have all the same highlights or completely different favorites. 

 

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

(Fall Semester, Fourth Year)

“You want me to do… what?” 

“Put the tray in your messenger bag!” Patrick hissed again, loud enough it was exiting ‘whisper’ territory.

“Why?!” David asked, his expression clearly relaying the what the fuck of it all.

“It’s our last year, David. We’re going to have a stereotypical university experience.” Patrick picked up David’s glass and plate, setting them on the table and shoved the tray into his backpack with the one he’d already hidden away.

David looked around as if he expected some sort of dining hall police force to come apprehend them at any moment. “And that university experience involves stealing trays from the cafeteria where the food is so terrible we only eat here when we have to?”

Patrick nodded, grabbing his fork to take another bite of his incredibly sad salad. “Yes, it does.”

“It’s like I don’t even know who you are anymore,” David remarked, dipping the last of his fries into the puddle of ketchup on his plate that he used to make the food palatable.

“Just trust me, David.”

“First trays, then what? Silverware? Plates and bowls? Where does it end, Patrick?”

Patrick gave him a shifty smile. “Well, you know, I’ve had my eye on that bronze moose statue by the entrance to the library…” 

“Mmm yes, that would look just… so good … in the living room.”

* * * * *

“You want me to do what?” 

“Seems like I’m hearing that a lot today,” Patrick told him, looking out over the snow-covered campus from the top of the hill. “You just… sit.”

“Sit. On the tray.” David gestured at the dark red piece of plastic. “I don’t want to put my plates on the tray and now you’re asking me to put my body on it.”

“I mean, you can always walk back down the hill… or you can stay up here.”

David’s jaw dropped. “You know I don’t do well in these conditions, Patrick!” 

“You are Canadian. In November. Weren’t you just talking about channeling your inner snow bunny the other day?” Patrick asked, dropping his tray onto the cold white powder and plopping on top of it. 

“That was if we went to Whistler! And apres ski! With you! In front of the fireplace!” 

Patrick bit his lip, watching David as he flailed indignantly. “Would you actually have been skiing in this scenario? Or just sipping hot chocolate until everyone else got in from skiing?”

“When you got in from skiing, I would be very toasty and naked in front of the fireplace waiting for you to join me so I could warm you up,” David smirked.

Patrick let out a long exhale, his breath crystalizing in front of him. He was grateful for the cold, as the mental image of David laid out in front of a fire on some kind of faux bear skin rug situation was making him all kinds of hot. “We can, uh, revisit the Whistler-over-break conversation when we get home, if… uh… if you want.”

David smiled, “Oh, yes, we will.”

Grabbing David’s hand, Patrick pulled him down into his lap and wrapped his arms around his waist before he could protest. “Ski later, sled now.” 

David let out an undignified squeak as Patrick pushed off from the top of the hill and they went flying down toward the baseball field at an alarmingly rapid velocity. He gripped Patrick’s hands, holding on for dear life.

Patrick whooped and hollered all the way, loving the rush of the wind, the bite of the cold, and the weight of David secure in his arms. Nearly at the bottom of the incline they wobbled just enough to send them flying, landing in a heap, David sprawled out in the snow and Patrick nearly in tears from laughter on top of him.

“Get off of me!” David yelped, trying to get up off the ground.

Patrick slid to the side, allowing David to sit up. “Well, that’s not something you’ve ever said to me before.”

David narrowed his eyes, scooping up a fist full of snow and launching it directly at Patrick’s face. “You’re gonna hear it again if you try anything when we get back to the apartment!” 

Patrick snickered, wiping the snow off his cheek. “Alright… I won’t make you the salted caramel Bailey’s cocoa and put your pajamas in the dryer. I’ll just go take a hot shower by myself and call it a night.”

“I might amend my statement if you help me...” 

He jumped up and reached for the hand David had extended, tugging him upright and then pulling him close. God, he was beautiful. Even with his toque all wonky and his ridiculous goose down jacket zipped up to right under his nose. Patrick took the zipper down to just below his chin as he pressed up against him.  “Five.”

“Mmm… sixteen.” David leaned in, his lips cool against Patrick’s only for a moment, their shared breaths spread warmth burning low and slow from every point of contact. 

Patrick slipped off his gloves, cupping David’s face as he kissed him. David sighed against Patrick’s mouth, sending a spark up Patrick’s spine at the sound. He stepped back, looking into David’s dark eyes, glittering from the light reflecting off the sparkling snow. Grasping David’s hand, he smiled to himself as they began the walk home in the quiet of the night. 

A few blocks later, David stopped suddenly under a street light and turned to Patrick. “Thank you.”  

Patrick gave him that upside down smile that always made David look at him so fondly. “For what?”

“For not letting me miss things,” David said. “I’m glad you make me take time and try things.” 

“I thought you’d have learned your lesson back in the day with the blanket fort. I want to share things with you, but I’m not going to ask you to do something I know you’ll hate. I just want to experience everything with you that I can. When I have memories of being at university or … memories of anything, really… I want you to be in all of them,” Patrick said, watching David blink quickly trying to keep the moisture gathering in his eyes at bay.

“You cannot say something like that while we are out here and my eyeballs might freeze,” David told him.

Patrick gave him a quick kiss. “My apologies. I’ll save the rest for when we’re on the couch under sufficient covers."

“See that you do.”

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

Patrick watched the last of the students line up to receive their diplomas and realized that in a matter of minutes, this would all be over. The end of their stint as university students -- a close to this chapter of their lives. He didn’t know that their story would exactly read like maybe a “typical” student’s would-- sure, he played sports and David got caught up in arts drama, they stayed up too late studying and ate too much trash pizza. But mostly they existed in their own little love bubble, content and at their happiest when it was just the two of them.

If the thought of graduating made him sad about anything, it was just the idea that when they both had jobs and responsibilities that took them away from each other they would have less time together. He had never worried about them not being able to sustain their relationship beyond this. Being part of David-and-Patrick was in his DNA now, it was just who he was, who they were. They both knew they were better together, stronger together, and that was the simple, undeniable truth. Whatever happened they’d adjust. They’d make time for each other, take time with each other, and always come back together when they needed it. 

David reached over, dipping his hand beneath Patrick’s gown and gripped high on his leg, fingers curling dangerously into his inner thigh. “We’re so close…”

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

(Spring Semester, Fourth Year)

“FUCK!”

Patrick cringed as the word echoed off the walls again. He’d been listening to David agonize over his portfolio for days, the looming deadline ratcheting up David’s anxiety by the hour. Looking away from his own project, he glanced across the room just in time to see David wad up another piece of paper and toss it haphazardly toward the trash can, not even checking to see if it actually hit the intended target. Yikes. This was getting bad. Maybe it was bad already.

He’d felt guilty for weeks, knowing that, compared to David’s, his final projects were relatively stress-free. Even the biggest of them, the business plan he was writing, had turned out to be kind of fun. Based on an idea that David had given him, his proposal for a general, but very specific store -- an apothecary he’d called it -- was actually a solid, sustainable model for selling locally sourced goods on consignment under the umbrella of a larger brand. He wished he had the kind of innate creative genius that David possessed, but that wasn’t his forte. Much more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, he knew he could figure out how to make it work financially, and thus far, he was really impressed with how well it was going. He was invested in the concept and David’s vivid description of how he would envision a brick-and-mortar store had been so enthusiastic, his vision was contagious. More than once Patrick had found himself daydreaming about a life where it was real, the two of them settled down somewhere and working on building something together. A store. A whole life.

Fuck. FUCK!” 

Something much heavier than paper hit the floor and Patrick decided it was time for a break. He closed his laptop and made his way over to David. “Hey…” he said, softly, alerting David to his presence before he touched him, his hands lightly resting on his shoulders.

David’s head dropped forward as Patrick began massaging his tension-filled muscles. “I hate everything but you.”

Patrick leaned forward to kiss the back of his neck. “C’mon… time for a breather.”

“I can’t… I have to…” David tried to protest, but he sounded like all the fight had left him.

“You have to step away for a little bit. You’re not going to get anything else done stressing out like this.” Patrick scooted his chair away from the desk and spun it around so David was facing him. He grabbed his hands and pulled him up to stand. 

David allowed Patrick to guide him to the edge of their bed and push him gently to sit. Patrick brought a finger to David’s chin and tilted his head up and as he bowed down to kiss him, soft and slow.

He could feel David loosen up at the teasing slide of his tongue and fingers skating through his hair. David moaned into his mouth, tugging at the hem of Patrick’s t-shirt. Patrick was quick to grab it, breaking the kiss to pull it over his head and toss it aside. 

David looked up at him, the lust and need clear in his dark eyes. He held his arms up for Patrick to carefully tug up his sweatshirt and then coax him to lay back on the mattress. Raising his hips, he let Patrick take off his joggers and boxers, then slip off his socks, adding them to the neat pile he’d made.

Patrick wrapped his fingers around David’s wrists and brought them up above his shoulders, holding onto them as he hovered over David, nipping at his lower lip before kissing him deeply. He chuckled against David’s mouth as David’s hips bucked up against his own. He trailed kisses along David’s jawline, pausing to flicker his tongue around the shell of his ear. “Relax… I got you.”

David whimpered, nodding at Patrick when he looked for a direct check in while yanking off his jeans. “Please.”

Patrick opened the nightstand drawer to get the lube, then held up a condom for David to see. “With or without?”

David bit his lip before he answered. “Without?” 

Patrick dropped it and turned back to David as he squirted lube into his palm and rubbed his hands together, then squeezed another dollop onto his fingers. He climbed onto the bed, his knees on either side of David’s hips and curled one slick hand around David’s twitching cock, the other reaching behind him to prep himself.

David’s eyes were closed, mouth open, head thrown back as Patrick stroked his cock in time to the languid movements of his own fingers working in and out. He groaned, long and loud, when Patrick paused, fist pulsing around him. “More…” he gasped, hips raising again.

“Yes… yes….”  Patrick brought his hands to David’s chest, careful to avoid getting lube all over in his chest hair. He didn’t want anything to distract him, to take him out of the moment, or detract from his pleasure. Steadying himself, he sunk down onto David’s cock, exhaling a slow hiss as he was stretched and filled. When he situated himself just so, his leg would bracket the word at David’s hip, a constant reminder that he was allowed to have this with him -- he could be wild with David. He was free when they were together.

David’s hands immediately went to Patrick’s thighs, fingertips digging into the muscle as he flexed, rocking forward and back to establish a rhythm that was somehow both satisfying and also not nearly enough. “Pat-rick. Fuck!

“Yeah, that’s kind of the idea,” he panted, leaning forward to change the angle, and yelping as David pushed up from underneath him. He bit at David’s nipples, one then the other, reveling in the way his back arched, trying to push himself closer to Patrick’s mouth for more

“Up. UP!” David pressed his hands against Patrick’s chest, forcing him upright again, then grasped his hips, holding him in place. Over and over, David thrust up recklessly, like he couldn’t get far enough inside him, couldn’t feel enough of Patrick surrounding him.

Patrick’s thighs were trembling, shaking with the effort of staying where David wanted him. He loved the way David came alive, gave himself over to the moment and how Patrick wanted to make him feel. When it was like this, the sex was always a wild ride, the desperation of trying to get as much of each other as possible -- and it was intoxicating. He never wanted it to stop -- he could get lost, get drunk off the look in David’s eyes, the heat of wanting everything someone is willing to give. Suddenly David’s arms were around him again, pulling him close and rolling them over smoothly. “FuckgodDavidplease…” 

“Yeah?” David checked in, the way he always did, the way he always had, since the beginning, their first time together.

Patrick whimpered as David ground against him, pushing him into the mattress, and sliding so, so deep inside him. “Don’t… don’t you dare stop… just… fuck … just like that!” 

David bowed his head to bite along Patrick’s collarbone, his teeth grazing and biting at his skin in the same erratic cadence as the flex of his hips.  He pulled back, nearly all the way out, and paused. “Like... this?” he purred, driving forward hard.

Patrick cried out, a broken warble of David’s name, drawn out over an impossible stretch of syllables. He was surprised by the unexpected orgasm -- practically seeing stars -- his body clenching tight around David everywhere as he came between them.

F-fuck, Pa … “ David buried his face in Patrick’s neck as he shook apart on top of him, Patrick’s hands splayed across his back, grounding him.

Patrick took a ragged breath and let it out. “I think… we needed that.” 

“You are not wrong,” David said, rolling off to his side. “You always have the best ideas.”

Patrick squirmed a little. “If only I would have thought about grabbing a towel…”

“Your wet spot, your problem.”

“Technically wouldn’t it be your wet spot?” He gestured toward their stomachs, sticky and glistening with his own come. “I very thoughtfully avoided any non-wipeable surfaces.”

David rolled his eyes. “So considerate.”

“I know, right?” Patrick gave him a terrible wink. “Shower, then late night pizza?”

“Okay, yeah, you are a genius.”

🎓  🎓  🎓 🎓  🎓

 

So that was it. Patrick blinked, shocked it was all over. Everyone in the stands was standing and applauding, David was tangling their fingers together so they could walk out hand-in-hand, the same way they came in. Patrick filed out of the row, falling into step with David, grinning broadly. They followed the crowd of students through the halls of the stadium, out into the sunlight, and weaved through the groups of people clustering up to squeal and take pictures.

David pulled him off to the side of the building, stopping under the shade of a towering tree, and moved in close to him. Draping his arm over Patrick’s shoulder, he leaned in for a kiss that started sweet and soft, but ended with shared  gasps for breath. 

Patrick shook his head a little, trying to clear his thoughts. Between that kiss and the memory of finals week he’d been thinking about just a few minutes ago, he had to get himself together before they found their families for pictures. 

“I have an idea.”

He turned to look at David. “I’m listening.”

“We’re supposed to meet our parents now, right?”

“Yeah…” Patrick nodded once, wondering where the conversation was headed.

“And then after that we have some time before we all go to dinner…”

“Yep… but I’m going to veto ordering a pre-dinner pizza.”

David rolled his eyes. “I was not going to say pizza, but now that you mention it…”

“What’s your idea?”

“Why don’t we go back to our place and celebrate?” 

Patrick smiled. “Just me and you?”

“Just…” David kissed him, quickly. “...us.”

* * * * *

Patrick followed David into their apartment, his cheeks aching from all the post-ceremony smiling for pictures and accepting congratulations. As happy as he was to have his parents and the Roses there, he was incredibly grateful for a little bit of calm downtime with David before they were all gathered around a table in a public place. He loosened his tie, debating if wanted to change clothes for dinner or if he should just stay in his David-approved graduation wear. “Is it wrong I kind of want to take a nap?”

“Yes,” David answered instantaneously.

“Oh. Um.. okay. That’s… not something I’ll be doing then.” He looked curiously at David. “Do you have other plans?”

He smiled, a quick flash of teeth and dimple. “Give me… five minutes. Maybe ten.”

Patrick cocked an eyebrow. “So, I’ll just… wait here?”

“Yes, please.” David gave him a soft peck on the cheek and disappeared into their bedroom, closing the door.

Dropping down onto the couch, Patrick closed his eyes, enjoying the quiet of their space. He knew they should have talked more about it -- where they’d live next, when it was time to move on. He knew he’d avoided it because he hated the idea of leaving the first place they officially lived together outside of a dorm, and figured it was likely the same for David. They’d probably need more space soon -- a spare bedroom for an office or when someone came to visit. They’d discuss it eventually, he thought. For now, he wanted to wonder what David was doing. Putting on something impossibly sexy, probably. Or pulling out a toy that he’d purchased as a surprise and was going to try to get Patrick to use or wear while they were out to dinner, just to test his limits. A shiver ran up his spine, making him eager for David to call for him.

“Patrick?”

He jumped up, startled, having been just about ready to doze off. Walking down the hallway, he noticed the light coming from the bedroom seemed wrong somehow for this time of day. Opening the door, he gasped in surprise. The room was dark except for a few camping lanterns, glowing from their stations situated around and inside a simple, but meticulously executed blanket fort. 

David peeked his head out. “Join me?”

Patrick dropped to his knees and crawled inside, grasping David’s face to kiss him fiercely. “You are... incredible,” he panted, breaking the kiss to rest his forehead against David’s.

David kissed him again -- softer, sweeter. “I learned from the best.”

“You are the best.” Patrick swiped at his eyes and glanced around. He sat down on their chevron knit throw that David had set out like a picnic blanket, noticing the ice bucket and champagne glasses. “Wow… Prosecco and everything.”

“Well, I thought we should celebrate,” David said. “This is a big day for us.”

Patrick reached for him, gently tugging him closer. “Every day feels like a big day with you.”

David tilted his head back, blinking. “Okay, you can’t do that now. This is… I’m trying to have a moment here!”

Patrick chuckled. “So sorry.”

“I just… I wanted to do this for you. For us. We’ve had so many amazing experiences together and we’ve been us for so long… but every time I really think about you and I, I always, always think of that night the power went out and you built our first blanket fort. It’s always been us, but that’s when everything changed. When we went from being David and Patrick, the two of us to … David-and-Patrick, us together. Like, there’s not one without the other. And out of everything in my life, everything that I am… that’s what I love being the most. Part of this, part of us.” He paused, reaching into his pocket for a small velvet-y looking bag.

Patrick’s eyes were impossibly wide, his heart rocketing around inside his chest. This wasn’t… He couldn’t be… “David…

He looked up at Patrick, their gazes locked on each other. “I want this, I want you… for the rest of my life. No matter where we go from here, I want it to be with you. So, I wanted to bring us back to where it all started, sort of… not exactly where, but…  you know what I mean…. It just felt like the perfect place to ask you to marry me.”

Patrick was barely breathing as he watched David slip a ring out of the pouch through the tears quickly welling up.

“Patrick Brewer, you are the love of my life. And I want forever with you. Will you marry me?”

He nodded, frantically. “Yes. Of course. Yes!”

David lit up, smiling brighter than Patrick thought he’d ever seen, and slipped the ring on Patrick’s finger. “I wasn’t sure if you’d want to wear a ring, but I wanted you to have one when I asked.”

Though he’d never considered it before, he absolutely wanted to wear that ring. Wanted everyone to know he was taken, claimed. That he belonged to David Rose. He finally gave the ring a good look - it was a dark metal, more matte than shiny, with one small inset stone. “It’s like you in jewelry form.”

“I can’t say that wasn’t intentional.” 

Patrick leaned in to kiss him, slow and deep and full of the all-consuming love he was feeling. He kept his newly accessorized left hand against David’s face as he broke away. “I was going to ask you. I had a plan… a ring was going to be the first thing I bought when I started working, because I didn’t want to wait anymore.”

David kissed him again, and then one more time. “I know you would have. But you have always been the one that takes the big steps and makes the bold moves for us and I wanted to do this. You are the one thing, the only thing about my future that I really feel certain of.”

“Same.” He felt like there was so much more he could say, should say, but didn’t even know where to begin. Watching David pop the bottle and fill the flutes was distracting, too, every motion so smooth, evidence of years of practice.

David handed him a glass and tapped them together. “To us.”

“To forever.”

* * * * *

David gave Patrick’s left hand a squeeze as they walked into the restaurant, easily finding the table where their families were seated by following the sound of Moira’s voice, carrying beautifully over the rest of the noise in the dining room. 

“There they are! Congratulations to our graduates,” Johnny called as they approached the table.

Patrick looked at David, a silent conversation of agreement passing between them. He let go of David’s hand to hold his up. “I think you mean fiances.”