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Familiar Spirits

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It had always been there. 

Ever since Patrick could remember, there’d been a pull in his chest, like his sternum was made of metal and someone was holding a magnet over his heart. His mother told him it was normal for human familiars like himself to have it. It was a tool the Goddess gave him to find his witch. 

His coven was small and human familiars were rare. It happened when a witch was born so powerful that they were destined for one and his coven had high hopes that he’d find his witch in their own community. 

He’d known Rachel since they were small. They grew up together, being from the same coven. Each of their parents anticipated Patrick must be her familiar, she being a gifted medicinal witch. It was expected that a familiar and their witch would marry— they were meant for one another. It's what was done, but no matter how long Patrick stayed with her as they grew and eventually got engaged, the pull in Patrick’s chest never let up. If anything, it became stronger. Almost painful. 

He and Rachel would break up a few times over the years, and each time the feeling would roll out like the tide at dawn. Always there, although not as present. But the coven was so close and they always just fell back into it and each time it got worse and worse. His sternum throbbing each time like it was screaming at him that it was a mistake. 

He didn’t know what finally did it— why he finally just snapped and began throwing haphazardly packed bags into the trunk of his shitty car after he tearfully told her he couldn’t do it without any explanation. 

“I don’t understand!” she’d cried, tugging at his arm when he rounded the car to get to the driver’s door. “Patrick—”

“Don’t you feel it?” he asked desperately, turning to her and pressing his palm to her sternum. “Doesn’t it hurt? How can you stand it?”

“Patrick,” she breathed, clutching at his wrist to hold him close, desperate to keep him there. “I don’t understand.” 

“Exactly.” he swallowed, searching her eyes for anything. “I’m sorry. I have to find him,” he said finally, wrenching himself away and into the car. 

“Patrick—” she gasped, holding the door open. “Him? Patrick who are you talking about—” 

“I don’t know yet,” he said, giving her one last apologetic smile before closing the door and leaving.

He didn’t know how long he drove. Hours? The sun had long ago disappeared before and the moon was taunting him. The pull in his chest felt alive, like it was telling him each turn to take. He’d follow it forever if he had to, he couldn’t stand to live with the pain any longer. 

He’d stopped for gas twice when he saw the sign. In a sea of dread, a town named Schitt’s Creek with a ridiculous sign made him laugh. There was darkness for miles— no stores, no billboards— just one absurd town sign. The joke of being so lost and rock bottom that you’re up shits creek plays in his mind somewhere in his memory and he laughs again, disparagingly.

He blew up his entire life for what?

However, as his car got closer, coming up almost on top of the sign itself, the lights of the town glimmering in the distance behind it— he felt his entire body release from the pull he’d known his whole life all at once.

It was gone.

He gasped from the shock of it, pulling in his first real breath since— Well. Since ever. He blinked back tears as he continued to drive on and he started to laugh hysterically, shaking his head in pure giddiness. He could breathe! Is this what that felt like? It was fresh and intoxicating and the pain was never so absolutely absent. How had he gone his entire life not knowing what it felt like to be free? It was gone!

It was gone? But why? 

And as if the Goddess was answering his silent question, the pull slammed back into him with a force he’d never experienced, pinning him to his seat as if he could be dragged through it. It wasn't just the dull aching pressure anymore, but more of a viscous yank , the pain radiating white hot from his sternum and all the way up his throat. 

He jerked the wheel over and slammed to a stop on the shoulder of the road, hands reaching to clutch at his chest as he gagged, trying to get a full breath through the agony.

Coughing and scratching at the skin of his throat— desperate for a breath that didn’t burn like fire, he ripped off the seatbelt and pushed out of the car, stumbling into the middle of the highway with tears streaking down his cheeks and desperate breaths heaving out of his chest. He spun in the middle of the empty road, eyes searching for an explanation of any kind and instantly spotted the ridiculous sign in the distance beckoning him. 

Well.

 

⋆⁺₊⋆ ☾ ⋆⁺₊⋆ 

 

“Oh... MY GOD.

David closes his eyes, bracing himself to venture out through the motel room in order to escape. Alexis and his mother were at peak argument and he’d hoped it would migrate to the other room by the time he’d finished in the bathroom. 

“I know my Jimmy Choo’s are somewhere in this diminutive prison!”

David takes a preparatory breath before slipping out of the bathroom, aiming to grab his bag and leave. 

Alexis groans, throwing her entire body into the movement before turning to David for some type of help that he is unwilling to give in this moment.

“She. Is. INSANE .” 

“Your feet— your problem.” David smiles tightly, reaching for his bag on the end of his bed. 

She rolls her eyes at him, turning and stomps her foot. “I don’t have your ugly 2016 out of season shoes!”

Don’t lie to me, you little frippet! ” Moira moans from her place on the floor while digging through the bottom of the wardrobe. 

David manages to slip out of the motel room before his mother reaches peak breakdown and he stalls for a moment to adjust to the night air. 

The Roses had been living in the Schitt’s Creek motel for three years now. Three years since Eli stole their livelihood and turned their coven against them. Three years since David had an ounce of peace. 

A muffled screech comes from behind him and he gives the door a final look before heading to the back of the motel. When the Rose’s got to Schitt’s Creek, they’d been alone with little agency for their abilities. Witches in this century were not often as powerful as the times before, however David was the exception. The adjustment may seem to have been worse for Moira on the surface of the four of them, but David struggled immensely when they first arrived. His power had no outlet and as a result, he may have been the culprit behind many unfortunate incidents regarding the motel and the surrounding area’s power grid. 

Stevie was a small lifeline in David’s darkest moments when they first arrived. Been the salvation they needed to connect with the local coven as well as giving David a space to bury his energy year after year in exchange for working electricity at the motel (One transformer and all of a sudden you’re the bringer of darkness— literally) and limitless wine. 

The land behind the motel sat empty for decades. It once housed a lone swing set that Stevie’s aunt put in for guests, but it had since rusted away into the forest behind the field. She allowed David to do with it as he wished and he started the first rows of his garden not long after. In the beginning, he had a hard time working with the chaotic mess of earth in its most organic form, but he adjusted. It was only a couple rows of growth at first as he settled into the new haven. The new earth was vibrant and giving and it didn’t take long for him to discover its potential. 

Now, years later— he sets his bag down on the picnic table that rests before the rows and rows of crops. His eyes rake over the endless green and he sends a small prayer to the Goddess as he advances on his labor. The torches light to life in the darkness as he passes, the fire casting warm glows over the bushels of kale and stalks of corn. The rows go on and on, the colors blooming to life as he goes. Not everything would be ready until Samhain, but he would be able to harvest some of his early works soon for jarring and pickling. He heads for the trees that lay at the edges of the field, his hands brushing the tops of the raised garden beds, energy buzzing at his fingertips as he gives and gives to the soil. 

He takes a crate that he’d left at the base of one of the apple trees that lines the edge of the forest. David begins collecting as he walks, the sweet fruit falling at his will and settling into perfect bushels in his arms.

Typically, the kind of power and abilities that David has aren’t intended for just one to bear. Witches like David, the powerfully rare ones that the modern world does not often meet, are meant for specific familiars. Familiars that were born for them.

All witches have familiars— typically and historically known to be animals. 

Alexis has Mitena— ever the stereotype. She's a snotty feline that looks more like a fluffy fox than a cat and lives to get fur on David’s sweaters. 

His mother has Balthazar— her judgmental, calm and calculating crow to balance her chaos. His father with his ferret Louis that Moira has banished to its own room. 

Witches like David were meant for a different kind of familiar. Their familiars were human— a rare witch, that according to old documents, were born to share the burden of their power. The modern understanding of them now is that they are meant to balance a witch’s spirit. They’re more of a Soulmate to their witch rather than a companion or assistant— a partnership that went above human’s understanding of life and love. 

And David didn’t have one and never would.

He’d thought in the past, that maybe he’d find his. Maybe Sebastien for a time, but after a few months, he’d made it clear that he was not David’s familiar.

“Don’t be naive, David. It’s all very flattering, but we both know the only reason someone would commit to you is if the Goddess forced them— and I’m just not one to be tied down. Best of luck."  

He thought Stevie— Maybe. But she’d been clear that while the town was almost completely made up of witches, she wasn’t one.

David is in his thirties now and he knew if he had a familiar, they must have passed on. He’s come to accept it. 

It’s nearing midnight when he finishes harvesting what he can. He packs the trunk of his dad’s car with the crates he’d filled before heading for the cafe. 

Twyla, while a bit odd, is a good friend. She’s a witch in the local coven that owns the café in town and allows David to use the kitchen after closing when he prepares for Samhain every year.

He parks at the back, getting the lighter of the crates from the trunk before kicking the back door with his shoe. 

Twyla is all smiles when she bursts open the door. “David!” She ushers him in. “I’m just finishing up here, there’s a fresh pot of coffee out front for you.” 

“Thanks, Twy,” he sighs, setting the crate down by the sink. She disappears into the dining room when he stands back up. I guess I’ll be getting all the crates myself. 

He’s sweating through his pullover by the time he finishes unloading the car and his eyes are feeling a familiar heaviness. He heads for the dining room for his coffee before he begins when he sees him for the first time. 

A man in a very basic blue button up is sitting at the bar, a spoonful of questionable chili disappearing between his lips. David stops in the doorway, his hands coming up to tangle over his chest in shock as gravity bears down on him. He feels the energy knock through his chest like a low bass frequency. He can hear it— the ticking in his head starts as a whisper before it becomes a screaming he can't ignore.

Him, him, him

At the sound of his entrance, the man’s eyes snap up to David’s and he promptly chokes on the mystery chili, coughs taking over his frame.

David’s eyes dart around to see where Twyla went before gathering that she is not in fact in the building anymore before he returns his attention to the stranger. 

“Sorry—” The man wheezes, wiping his mouth with his napkin. “Sorry, Twyla let me in, I’m not sure where—” He looks around, not seeing her either. 

David nods, eyes raking over him almost desperately and he grounds himself. He cautiously reaches for the coffee carafe and a mug. 

“Um.” The man looks around awkwardly, a blush splotching over his cheeks and neck. “I’m Patrick.” 

“I’ve never seen you here before.” David says, adding sugar, cocoa, and cream to his mug. Patrick looks amused.

“Ah, yeah,” he chuckles, reaching a hand up to rub the back of his neck nervously. “I just got to town. Haven’t eaten much today and I was looking for somewhere to crash— Twyla let me in.” 

“There’s a motel,” David informs him. 

“Yeah, she mentioned that. I was going to head there after grabbing some food,” Patrick smiles, looking nervously down at his chili. 

David curls his lip at his bowl. “The chili is suspicious.” 

“Yep— gathered that,” Patrick laughs, shaking his head. “Kind of so hungry I’d eat anything right now though.” 

David lifts his mug of coffee to his lips and watches Patrick over the rim of it, considering his next words carefully. He’s cute in a business major sort of way. Large brown eyes, plush mouth, a stray curl falling over his temple. David’s eyes glance down to Patrick’s forearms where the sleeves are pushed up at the elbows and he decides he’s been alone far too long for this. 

“David!” Twyla comes in from the back. Where the hell did she disappear to? “Do you need anything else from me? I gotta head out, but Patrick already paid so you’ll be good there, just gotta lock up behind him,” she says, taking off her apron.

His shoulders tense, “Ah— no.”

“Great!” she smiles, turning to Patrick. “I’ll text you as soon as I talk to Ray about that room he’s renting out for the month and I’ll shoot you the info for Samhain,” she tells him and David’s interests peaks at the mention of Samhain. Patrick must be a type of empath witch? Maybe that’s what happened? He’d never met a witch that had the energy to almost knock David off his feet, not even his own mother who's a pretty potent empath.

Patrick’s eyes cut to David quickly before returning to Twyla. “That would be great, thank you for everything,” he says heavily. 

Twyla leaves them to silence. David continues to watch Patrick as the man pokes his spoon awkwardly at the chili in front of him. 

“I didn’t realize you were a witch,” David says. 

Patrick’s gaze shifts back up to him, his hands stilling cautiously. “Ah—” he breathes. “Yes, kind of... I’m a familiar.” he rolls his shoulders. “Well— supposed to be,” he chuckles darkly. 

“Supposed to be?” David asks, a simmering panic begins in his chest. A familiar shouldn’t have that type of energy— fuck

Patrick bites his lip, setting his spoon down and leaning back in his stool. “Kind of in search at the moment, coven back home is a bit small.” 

“No cute witches for you to serve there?” David hums, turning to go into the kitchen as Patrick’s jaw drops. “You won’t be eating that, I’m not even sure that’s meat. I’ll make you something,” he informs him, flicking his wrist and starting the oven.

David catches Patrick gaping after him, standing from his stool to see him through the pick up window. The faucet comes to life as David steps up to the sink and he drops a few vegetables he procured from one of the crates into it— so maybe he’s showing off, just a bit. He sees when realization dawns for Patrick and he knows David is a witch— an impressive one. He hesitates only a moment before skirting around the counter to watch him from the doorway.

The stove lights up as David approaches it, pulling a saucepan from the rack above the island and reaches into another crate, producing a large mason jar of what looks like broth.

David sets it to heat, before collecting his rinsed veggies and preparing to chop by hand. 

“Couldn’t you just will them to chop themselves?” 

David’s brow arches challengingly, but a hint of a smile pushes up the left corner of his lips. 

“What can I say, I like to handle a sharp knife on occasion.” He rolls his wrist, the light glinting off the sharp edge of the blade.

“Can I help?” Patrick asks, tilting his head. David peaks up at him, hesitation prickling the back of his neck. Just because Patrick is a familiar didn’t mean he was David’s… right?

Him, him, him. 

It’s a long few seconds before David gives him a reluctant nod. Patrick sighs a relieved breath before stepping up and taking a knife from the magnetic block on the wall. He slides a few carrots across the table from David and begins chopping on the opposite side of the island. 

They work in silence for minutes, the only sound being the rolling fire from the stove and the snick of the chopping. David can feel Patrick watching his hands— fast and skillful, but smooth and manicured. Just the effortless motions of what he’d exhibited when he took over the kitchen gives Patrick a small idea of the power David could hold in his adept hands. 

“Do you work for the café?” 

David snorts, shaking his head. He sets the knife down and begins moving the minced carrots into a large bowl. Patrick begins chopping the potatoes. “No. I have a garden and I prepare a lot of the harvest for Samhain every year.” 

“You mean all of it,” Patrick clarifies. 

David looks up at him, his eyes deep and knowing.

“I mean all of it,” David confirms. He takes the bowl and dumps it into the broth on the stove, standing with his back to Patrick when he asks, “What made you leave your coven?” 

Patrick stills, a small scraping noise piercing the quiet when his knife slips a bit. He clears his throat as David returns to the island to begin chopping the celery.

“I told you.” he smiles stiffly. “Coven is a bit small.” 

“Well you waited long enough, what made you leave now?” David asks knowingly, taking none of Patrick’s bullshit. 

He rolls his neck and smiles sadly. “I thought I found my witch when I was a kid. At least that’s what everyone told us. It just didn’t feel right with her, you know? Aren’t you supposed to know?” 

David thinks he might know more than he’d like. He glances away. “I wouldn’t know,” he says unconvincingly. Patrick flushes red and looks down hard at the potatoes he was supposed to be cubing but they’re now practically minced. 

“Those are mush now,” he says haltingly. 

“Yeah you might wanna…” David murmurs.

“I’m gonna go get new ones.” Patrick’s ears blaze as he rounds the island and prays to the Goddess that there’s more in the crates. There are. 

When the soup is done, David hands him a single bowl and Patrick stalls, looking over his shoulder to the dining room before turning back to David with a small smile.

“You should join me,” Patrick says. David hesitates, sure that every thought and emotion is showing on his face. Patrick tilts his head in challenge and David’s smile cracks through the wall and he shakes his head, turning to get his own bowl. 

“I really do have to work at some point or I’ll be here until dawn,” David warns lightly, laughter in his voice as they sit down in a booth to eat. 

Without pause, Patrick says, “No, you won’t. I’m going to help you.” 

David looks up at him, a spoonful of steaming soup halfway to his mouth and he gives Patrick a stern look. “Familiars,” he mumbles, rolling his eyes and stubbornly taking his bite. Patrick laughs fully, his head tilting back. 

Familiars?” he asks, mimicking David’s tone and shaking his head. “I didn’t know being a considerate person was specific to just us.” 

“It’s what you do!” David defends, his hands waving in front of him. “You help. You’re like—” A pause. “Golden retrievers.” 

“Okay,” Patrick drawls, his smile sideways now as he rolls his eyes. “Like I haven’t heard the dog thing before.” 

“It’s true.” David’s smile is wide and sharp now. Patrick’s eyes focus on it and David takes his silence as forfeit. 

They eat, and Patrick is blown away by the flavor that an impromptu soup can have. He glances at David’s hands in the comfortable silence. David doesn’t have to guess what he’s thinking— he’s used to people being curious about how much power his hands hold.  

He finishes quickly and stands to take his bowl into the kitchen, rapping his knuckles on the table with a soft smile. When Patrick meets him back at the island when he’s done, the amount of produce splayed out on the counters is obscene. They prep the food together, music washing over them when David can’t stand the silence anymore and flips the old radio on that sits in the corner. 

They mostly prepare cider tonight. Patrick realizes very quickly that David is able to ferment the apples without the help of time. He watches transfixed as he produces bubbles in the large growlers of apple juices with the touch of his fingers over the glass. By the time they’re finished, the sun is peeking through the windows in the front and Patrick is shocked. 

“Told you we’d be here till dawn.” David smiles tiredly at him as Patrick helps him carry the crates back to his car, jars filled with preserves and bottles of fermenting cider lining the inside of them now. 

“I’m not even tired,” Patrick laughs softly. 

“Mm,” David gives him a skeptical smile. “Just wait. It’ll hit you in about ten minutes.” 

“Experience?” 

“Mmhm.” he nods, his entire body moving with it. He closes the trunk and looks back up at Patrick. “So. I’m actually living at the motel if you just want to follow me back? The office won’t be open yet but I have a key and I can grab you a room,” he offers. Patrick looks boggled on the part about David living at the motel for just a moment before he shakes himself. 

“That would be great, thanks.” he smiles. 

Patrick follows David up the short highway to the motel. He parks next to David, giving him a heavy smile when they exit their cars and approach the office. Patrick shoves his hands into his pockets nervously, looking unsure if he should wait for him outside, but David holds the door open for him when he unlocks it and they go in. 

The lobby smells like an attic and the decor looks like it’d pulled inspiration straight from one of his mother’s Sunrise Bay seasons. Patrick laughs a little and David rolls his eyes when he turns to him with a key he produced from behind the counter. 

“Is it the awful furniture or the dead animals mounted on the walls?” he asks. 

“Both,” Patrick takes the offered key with a large number “3” printed on the keytag. He pats his pockets for his wallet, but they’re empty and he turns to go look for it in the car. David waves a hand at him. 

“I’ll let Stevie know you’re here, she’ll get your info when you check out,” He explains, rounding the counter to let them out and lock the lobby back up. 

They stand awkwardly outside the door and Patrick’s hand comes up to rub the back of his neck nervously. 

“So,” David says finally. “Thank you— for the help. And the company. It was nice to meet you.” His lips curve crookedly. “Patrick,” he says it like a mantra. 

Patrick breathes in the morning air and holds David’s eyes heavily. “Thank you for the food and the wonderful Schitt’s Creek orientation.”

David nods, ducking his head, feeling too warm. “Well,” he starts, taking a step backwards. “Good luck with everything.” 

As he backs up, Patrick speaks in a rush. “Same time tonight?” 

David pauses and looks up at him fully. He considers for a long moment, his hands coming up to tangle over his chest like they did when he first saw Patrick sitting at the bar. A small smile lifts his lips to the side again and he nods.

Him, him, him.