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i never wanted saving, i just wanted to be found

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"I leaned in, David. You should try it for once."

David blows out a breath as the door clicks shut behind his mother. The thing is, she doesn't know just how much David has "leaned in" over the course of his life. He's leaned into the wrong attention — the wrong affection — more times than he can count. He's folded at any hint of flattery, tripped over himself for validation only to fall on his face. David's "leaned in" plenty, thank you. He's "leaned in" his entire life.

Over the last year or so, though, he's been training himself to lean back. He's learning how to not to say yes when he means no. Not to give much more than he gets.

Standards. They're called standards.

He used to think he had inordinately high standards, actually. David only gave his time (himself) to people of the highest caliber — people "in his league," but, like, strictly in an Austenian sort of way. He paid attention to people's reputation, wealth, and style. Being in a relationship with someone like Sebastien Raine, the illustrious photographer and artist, was the epitome of his sky-high standards.

David failed to realize that being in a relationship with Sebastien was actually dropping the bar lower than he could limbo under (and he is very flexible, for the record). 

He'd "leaned into" Sebastien. Big time. He'd leaned into the compliments and the flattery; David soaked it all up because being his muse meant he was beautiful. It'd also meant that Sebastien could use his need for approval to manipulate him. So, more frequently than his praise came his criticism: on David's weight, of his 'over-the-top' presentation, and of his art… none of it said outright, but heavily implied. He was rarely good enough, but David lived for the moments where he was. 

It's exactly what happened to his mother today.

Because, loathe as David is to admit it, he and his mother are like two peas in a needy pod. The difference is that she's used to people adoring her, while David's spent most of his life trudging through a desert. She's never flung herself into an oasis only to find out it's a mirage. Until Schitt's Creek. Until now. Until she missed the constant flow of praise and adoration in their old life so much that she fell right into Sebastien's bullshit. 

Fuck. Now he's gotta do something about it.

What the fuck is he going to do about it?

It's not like he hasn't tried to stand up to Sebastien before. David remembers full-on breaking up with him one weekend after he'd openly flirted with a Victoria's Secret angel in front of him. It only took a few words that prodded at David's insecurities and loneliness to smooth-talk him right back into his arms that night.

Six weeks later, David caught Sebastien in bed with her and some other guy... aaaand that's when he found out they'd been 'seeing other people' for over a month.

Luckily, his phone buzzes in his hand before he tumbles too far into that shame spiral.

 

PATRICK (3:23 PM)
[Text Message]

 

Just seeing the name on his screen, David smiles, but he quickly tucks it into the corner of his mouth — as if someone's there to give him shit about it. Alexis has (more than once) pointed out how he smiles whenever Patrick texts him… and honestly? He's really fucking glad that's all she sees. If she could somehow see the way his stomach flips and his heart kicks up, he'd literally never hear the end of it…

Not just that, but he likes that he can keep that feeling to himself, close to his chest. 

It's so new, and he's not sure he's ready to share it with anyone else just yet, especially Alexis... partially because he's also not sure what the fuck he's supposed to do about it. David has met so many people, been with, like, a ton of people, but he's never felt like this. Because Patrick isn't like anyone he's met before. He's kind, and earnest, and responsible, but also… sort of an asshole? But, like, in a good way! 

From the moment they met, being around Patrick has been… It's just been different. It's exciting in a way he's not used to — not stealing-his-parents-jet-with-Lauren-Conrad exciting, or parasailing-with-Anderson-Cooper exciting, but, actually, better than that

(And not just because both of those stories ended in panic attacks.)

Sebastien could never make him feel like that. 

Even on the best days of their relationship — even from inside him, Sebastien didn't light David up the way Patrick does, just by lighting up his phone. He never cared for him, never made him laugh, never believed in him... not the way Patrick does. If anything, Patrick's like… the anti-Sebastien. They're opposites. Opposing forces, even. 

While Sebastien sought to control him, Patrick empowers him. He's inserted himself into David's business, but not by making him feel incapable or like he needs him… Although, now that he has Patrick as a partner, he can't imagine opening Rose Apothecary without him — but because he's genuinely helpful and David likes having him around, not because David feels like he really couldn't handle it on his own.

From the day they met, Patrick has shown David he believes in his idea. Believes in him .

He's only the second person to ever do that (Stevie being the first).

Patrick keeps David on his toes. he teases him just enough to get him keyed up, but never in a way that makes him feel made fun of. With Patrick, David is in on the joke, rather than being the joke. It almost sounds kinda juvenile, but it's fun to banter with him. It's fun, and their give-and-take feels balanced. He hasn't felt this much like he's met his match since he'd first met Stevie, but he'd never felt this giddy thing with her.

Though, now that he really thinks about it, she'd felt new, too — not only different than this Patrick thing, but everyone before her, too. 

He would never, ever — not even for fear of death — say anything like this out loud, but… Meeting Stevie was kinda like reuniting with a piece of himself that, like, cosmically broke off when they were little atoms floating through space or something like that. They were the same, and David's pretty sure she changed him. Like. Irreversibly. 

Before her, staying friends with someone after that particular foray into grand theft auto would've been impossible. Nobody has ever cared enough about him to say the words, "Well, we'll just have to work through this, won't we?"  Ever. 

It's like they unlocked some new relationship… level. Because, for the first time, David felt truly worth something to someone, and he's pretty sure that whole thing was new for Stevie, too, at least somewhat. So. That's also a thing.

David's phone buzzes twice more and he finally unlocks it to look.

 

PATRICK (3:23 PM)
Hey, are you okay?
Think we're past fashionably late here.
Do I need to send a search party?

 

Fuck, Patrick is worried about him. 

When was the last time someone fucking worried about him? And just because he hasn't shown up to the store after, what, a couple of hours? 

There was a time he could literally steal a truck and disappear for days without anyone batting an eye. Nobody even noticed back then.

But he bets Patrick would notice. 

He bets Stevie would now  — maybe even admit to calling around, trying to find him. Ted might send another gift basket. Twyla would enlist her weird uncle who's, like, a P.I. recently released from prison or something to help find him. Hell, his family would notice this time; he wouldn't even have to steal his mother's weird heirloom "go bag."

And David knows that now. He knows that he matters to people now. Hell, he matters in-fucking-general. 

Yeah. Yeah! You know what? Fuck this guy. 

The person Sebastien manipulated so easily? That person who was so desperate for love that he could be sweet-talked with a few backhand compliments aimed juuuust right? Who would accept sub-par treatment (or worse) as long as it meant not being alone? That isn't David Rose. Nope. No. That guy is fucking gone. That life is behind him, too.

He isn't the lonely person Sebastien used and left for dead. Not anymore. 

David takes a breath, unlocks his phone again, and opens his conversation with Patrick.

DAVID (3:47 PM)
No need to call the national guard, I'm ok
Just got a family thing to take care of
Ok if I just see you tomorrow?

PATRICK (3:47 PM)
Of course, David. 
Anything I can do?

DAVID (3:48 PM)
No I've got it
But thank you

PATRICK (3:48 PM)
Anytime

 

The strange part? David thinks he actually believes him.