Alexis plopped down on the couch and turned to Patrick. "So, what do you want to do?"
David, Stevie, and Ruth had just left to visit a gallery. Patrick, tired from walking most of the day, and Alexis having just gotten home from work, declined to go.
“Honestly, I don’t care what we do. I feel like I’m about to fall asleep any minute.”
Alexis pressed her lips together. She pulled out her phone and a moment later the sound of Janelle Monáe filled the room. “Let’s have a sleepover!”
“Is David supposed to join in on this when he returns?”
Alexis waved her hand dismissively as she rooted through a bag. “I don’t care if he does or not. This is just for us.”
Patrick smiled. He was so used to them being a unit, David-and-Patrick. He didn’t mind, but it was nice when something was just for him and not both of them. He liked spending time with Alexis, they’d spent plenty of time with each other before he and David got together while he helped her study. Looking back now he realized the pointed hints about David’s relationship status were a nudge to get Patrick to ask him out.
“How do you feel about painting your nails?” Alexis asked as she held out a bag full of nail polish bottles.
“If it’s for fun why not,” Patrick replied. Before David, he might have hesitated, but over the years he’d realized that anything that bumps up against the idea of gender stereotypes can have as little or as much meaning as he wanted it to. He took the bag and rummaged around until he pulled out a bottle full of a pale pink liquid. “What about this?”
Alexis grabbed the bottle. “I can work with this.” She ushered him to sit on the floor and placed his hands on top of the coffee table. Untwisting the lid, she used her other hand to grab Patrick’s. “David never lets me paint his nails. He always complains that I don’t do a good job and it’s like, excuse me if you want it perfect go to a salon.”
“I’m sure whatever it looks like it’ll be fine,” Patrick replied. He watched transfixed as she methodically painted the middle of one nail and then its edges. He wasn’t an expert, but it looked pretty good to him.
“I’m talking to Ted again.”
Patrick moved his eyes back up to Alexis. Her head was bent down, cascading hair covering her face as she focused on painting his nails.
“Oh, and how is that going?”
“It’s working. I’m enjoying it. I didn’t realize how much I missed talking to him.” She paused. “I’m also talking to Twyla.”
“Oh, well you’re friends so that’s expected.”
Alexis looked up and into Patrick’s eyes. “No, like romantically.”
“That’s nice to hear, Alexis. Twyla’s a wonderful person.”
She shook her head. “Like, I’m with both of them, romantically.”
Patrick was out of his depth and he hoped she wasn’t asking for any advice. “Well, I’m glad you’ve found people to be with. They couldn’t ask for a better partner to be with. I mean, I know they’re both good partners to each other too, ju-”
Alexis booped his nose. “Don’t overthink it Button. Although thank you for the support.”
Patrick smiled. “Anytime Alexis.”
Patrick placed a beer on the coffee table and sat down in the chair. He took a sip of his own beer and turned his attention to the game. The Jays were doing alright this season and if they could get away from the store David promised they could go to a game. Patrick smiled. David was never the most enthusiastic about going to see a game, but he knew Patrick loved them. Plus, they always made sure to make it a small trip so that they could go do something David was interested in.
“This is shaping up to be a pretty good game.”
Patrick looked at Johnny and grinned. “Yeah, it is.”
Moira was off in Bosnia filming the final Crows movie. Unfortunately, Johnny wasn’t able to go, and David, always perceptive, suggested that he spend some time in Schitt’s Creek to combat his loneliness. That and so as not to overwork himself to compensate for missing Moira. So far the trip had gone well. Patrick noticed how it seemed to improve both David and Johnny’s mood to have them together again. He made a mental note to make sure they checked in with the family more. It had taken forever after the Roses left for David to admit he missed them, but David was getting better at acknowledging it and actually doing something about it. Patrick would also admit that he had enjoyed Johnny’s visit too. Since the wedding, Patrick tried to work on his relationship with his in-laws. It had taken a while before he stopped calling Johnny and Moira, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Rose,’ and even now it still felt strange to say. He could say, however, that his relationship with them had grown deeper.
“How are you doing?” Patrick asked.
Johnny looked at him, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Alright. I still miss Moira and I do appreciate that you kids are letting me spend time with you.”
They continued to watch the game, as it finished Patrick got up to head to the kitchen.
“Patrick,” Johnny said.
“Yes?” Patrick replied.
“I don’t know if I’ve really said this, but it’s been a joy to have you as a part of the family.”
A well of emotion built up in Patrick. “Thank you, Johnny. It really means a lot.”
Later, when David returned from the Apothecary, Patrick smiled at the sight of him and his father as Johnny regaled David with stories from work. Ones that David most likely heard already but still listened to anyways because David loved his father and knew how much Johnny enjoyed having one-on-one conversations with him.
Patrick stared at the wigs that lined one side of the room. After seeing the wall in Schitt’s Creek he thought he knew what he was getting into, but apparently not. He did appreciate that Moira didn’t have wig stands that had faces on them, but it still felt unnerving, like someone was watching him.
“Well, we better get started, we only have so much time,” Moira said.
If he thought about the logistics he might not have agreed to this. He only had his competitive streak and stubbornness to thank. Two days ago David mentioned the wig-training he did when he was a kid. Patrick off-handly asked what went into it. David replied that it was time-consuming and somewhat difficult. Patrick, never backing down from a challenge that wasn’t even given to him, said he could do it. He should have known by the gleeful look in David’s eyes that he might regret his actions.
“Let’s begin with something familiar shall we?” Moira said. She opened up a laptop and pulled up a spreadsheet. Patrick leaned forward, taking in the information, eyes scanning the column names: name, hair type, last washed, and more.
“This is extremely detailed.”
“Of course,” Moira replied as she grabbed one of her wigs, “I couldn’t allow my bébés to be harmed. Unfortunately, I still cannot hire an assistant to aid in the maintenance. There is some benefit to teaching you, however.”
He spent the rest of the afternoon in a wigs, shampoo, and spreadsheet furor. He wouldn’t mention it to David, but despite the intensity, it reminded him of helping David with his sweaters. They were something fundamental to establishing an identity, a way to telegraph emotions, and there was a certain way to store them.
“I have to admit, you’ve taken to this like a waterfowl to moisture,” Moira said.
Patrick smiled. “Thanks. I’ve had a little practice.”
Patrick slowly opened his eyes and was greeted by the living room ceiling. The gentle hum of electronics filled his ears, a quiet click and then the heater roared to life. He rolled over to avoid the direct heat and ran into Stevie. She groaned and lightly slapped his chest before scooting closer. He patted her back before blindly reaching for his phone and blearily unlocking it.
Patrick groaned at the five texts and one voicemail he had.
David: I miss you, call me when you can
David: Sorry I missed your call, was in the shower
David: Listened to the voicemail. Nice to know you're having fun with Stevie without me
David: I'd say it's rude of you not to answer your phone but I didn't earlier
David: Sleep good tonight honey I'll see you tomorrow 😘
He went to his voicemails, started the one from David, and turned the volume down as much as possible
"I never would have taken you for the kind of person to get wild while I'm gone, but it sounds like you’re having fun with Stevie. Sleeping without you is fucking awful, although I did grab one of your sweatshirts before I left. I might not have you in my bed, but smelling you on the sweatshirt is the next closest thing. Get some sleep if you can and I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you.”
Patrick dragged a hand across his face. David had been gone for two days having meetings at RMG and visiting Alexis. Stevie had taken one look at him yesterday, tense shoulders and tired eyes, and decided she was staying at their place and getting high. Usually, that was more a David and Stevie activity, but Patrick couldn’t say no to the gummy edibles she offered. This was the first time that David went somewhere without Patrick. Sure, Patrick went to a conference three months ago and missed David then tremendously, but there was something about being surrounded by all the memories of their life together that increased the longing. The smell of coffee and a warm mug pressed into his hands pulled him from his thoughts.
“Thought you might need this,” Stevie said as she took a drink from her own mug.
Patrick sat up all the way, wincing at the way his back protested from sleeping on the floor for most of the night.
“Why were we on the floor?” Patrick asked. He took a sip and winced at the burning heat.
“You thought it would be a good idea to make a blanket fort and apparently being in our 30s was not a good enough reason not to.”
He looked around at the blankets and pillows strewn across the room. “Either one of us knocked it down in the night or we were bad at making it.”
Stevie smiled and plopped down on the couch. “Oh, it was all you. I just supervised.”
Patrick sat his mug down on the coffee table and stood up. “I’ll make us some breakfast.”
“I’ll take that as compensation for the last couple of days of moping.”
“Was I really that bad?”
Stevie shrugged. “Not more than David was when you were gone.” She paused. “How are you feeling?”
A wave of affection ran through Patrick. He knew that she didn’t mean just physically, but Stevie also didn’t want to make it apparent that she was checking in on him. “I’m doing alright. It’s nice to have company.”