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I get drunk but it’s not enough

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It’s been five days, seventeen hours, and forty-three minutes since David told Patrick that he “needed space”; since Patrick’s heart dropped straight through his stomach and onto the scuffed carpet of room eight. 

Not that he’s counting, of course. He’s just… aware of the passage of time. 

And time goes very, very slowly without David there with him in their store. 

Five days, seventeen hours, and forty-four minutes. 

He misses David so much it hurts; it’s as though a vital organ has been carved out of him, leaving a gaping wound in its wake with nothing to fill it.

He’s sent flowers, and chocolates, and wine. He’s apologised, and explained, and cried.

All he can do now is wait for David to be ready to forgive him. Which he will.

He will. Right?

Seventeen hours and forty-five minutes. 

Last night he went to the Wobbly Elm and got so absolutely, blindingly drunk that he doesn’t even remember getting home. He must have called Ray, because he woke up this morning in just his undershirt and boxer briefs, tucked up in his bed with a bowl perched on his nightstand. So not only is he now trying to deal with the humiliation of being seen by anyone in that state, he’s also suffering through the worst hangover he’s had in over a decade.

Forty-six minutes. 

He’s keenly aware that this vague, rolling nausea is probably exactly how David felt when his sister dropped the word fiancée onto the motel picnic table and accidentally detonated a bomb full of secrets and omissions.

So, he probably deserves it.

Halfway through minute forty-seven, the bell above the door chimes, tearing Patrick’s attention away from the clock and towards the imposing figure standing with crossed arms in the doorway. 

Patrick swallows hard, straightening his shoulders and trying very hard not to look like someone who just wants to crawl back into bed. “Ronnie.”

“You look like death warmed over, Brewer.”

So, he wasn’t successful, then. 

“I’m feeling a bit under the weather today.” God, is that an understatement.

Ronnie snorts, her arms dropping to her sides. “Oh, I bet you are.”

The little blood that was remaining in Patrick’s face drains out of it as the meaning of her words sink in. “Um. Did you—”

“See the state you were in last night? Mm-hmm.” She steps further into the store, picking up a jar of moisturiser off the table and not-quite-slamming it down on the counter in front of him, making him wince at the noise. “You were chatty. And weepy. I don’t like chatty or weepy.” 

“Ronnie, I am so—”

“Save it.” She fixes him with a steely gaze. “I’m not the one you need to be apologising to.”

Tears prick at the corner of Patrick’s eyes and he blinks quickly, determined not to let them fall. “I know. I’m trying.”

“Mm.” She doesn’t sound like she quite believes him, and she pushes the moisturiser closer to him. Taking the hint, Patrick starts to ring it up, and Ronnie waits until he’s looking at the till to add: “Have you told him that you love him?”

Patrick drops the jar. “What?”

“You told me enough times last night. I love him so much, Ronnie, he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, I don’t know what I’ll do if I lose him — I didn’t need to hear any of that. Have you tried telling him?”

“I don’t—” Buying himself some time he picks up the jar, inspecting it carefully for any cracks. Deeming it acceptable, he places it carefully in one of the totes and slides the card reader across the counter. “I don’t want him to hear it for the first time as an apology. I want him to know I mean it.”

“Hmm.” For the first time since she walked into the store, Ronnie looks faintly approving. “Well, for what it’s worth, I’m rooting for you.”

Patrick raises his eyebrows. Whatever he was expecting to hear, it wasn’t that. “Thank you, Ronnie.”

“Don’t get me wrong.” She wags a finger in his face, and Patrick has to fight every instinct in his body to stop himself shrinking back. “I want David to be happy. And for some inexplicable reason, you make him happy. That’s why.”

Patrick musters up something that he thinks might actually resemble a smile. “Noted.”

“Mm-hmm.” She picks up the bag, walking towards the door before stopping with her hand on the doorknob and turning back. “Sort it out fast, Brewer. Driving you home drunk and crying once was enough for a lifetime.”

Patrick’s already pulling out his laptop to buy the bracelet he kept looking at a couple of days ago, thinking how much David would like it, so it takes a moment for her words to sink in. “Wait— you— what?”

But the door is already closing behind her.