Actions

Work Header

outrageous fortune

Chapter Text

🎭 Now 🎭

There’s a cobweb in the corner. 

His step-stool isn’t high enough to reach, not that he can find it anyway in the FEMA-level disaster that is currently his loft. And even if the stool was tall enough, there’s no way he’s actually using it to remove the aesthetically incorrect monstrosity, because cobwebs are the homes of spiders, which are at the top of David’s Avoid At All Costs list, right behind moths and James Franco. 

But there’s a cobweb in the corner, and David feels like crying. 

If he stares at it hard enough, he might be able to forget, just for a moment. He might be able to ignore the pang that’s followed him around every time he’s glanced at his calendar, watching as months dwindled to weeks which drained to days. 

And now hours. 

He picks up the wrapped gift, his whole reason for coming here, snags his keys from the stack of boxes being used as an end table, and heads out the door. 

There’s a cobweb in the corner, and David feels like crying. 

Because no matter how many times he ignores the calendar, his show is still going to close today.

🎭 Then 🎭

“David, over here!” 
“Patrick!” 
“How does it feel?”
“Patrick, over here!” 
“David!” 

Patrick must be able to feel him trembling, because he slips his hand beneath David’s suit jacket and gently runs his fingers across his lower back. Granted, Patrick isn’t exactly calm either. David’s pretty sure that were he to let him go, he’d chatter himself across the stage like one of those wind-up toys from the dentist. 

“Thanks, everyone!” the Tonys publicist calls, as Rachel and Alexis step forward to save them from the photographic onslaught. 

“Can you see?” Patrick asks, bumping into David he tries to step off the stage. 

“Blind as a bat,” David replies, tripping over Helen’s train. 

“Darling, have you been drinking?” 

David scoffs. “I wish.” 

“Some of us plan better than others,” she says coyly, popping open her clutch to reveal the silver flask inside. 

“How the fuck…? They search bags!” And he knows they do because Stevie got busted the very first time they came. 

“Who said it arrived in my bag?” she replies with a saucy wink as she walks away. He gapes after her before turning to Patrick. 

“Did you - ?”

“I don’t wanna know,” Patrick cuts him off, and yeah, that’s probably for the best. 

The official Tony afterparty is at The Plaza, and David assumes they’ll swing through before settling at the Hamlet soiree at Sony Hall on 46th. Each show has its own gathering at various venues around midtown, and half the fun of the post-ceremony insanity is seeing how many you can crash before anyone notices. At least, that’s how he and Stevie handled things the first time around. 

He has a sneaking suspicion this year will be different. 

Still, all of Midtown West feels like a college campus on semi-formal night, with various people running around in their finery, party-hopping until dawn. 

They’re just exiting the 3 West Club Hotel and trying to find their various modes of transportation when a woman just next to them gasps and grabs her companions as Anna Wintour walks by. Sunglasses firmly in place, she gives the Hamlet crew a nod as she’s guided to her car, and frankly, David feels like he’s been blessed by the Pope. Of all the celebs at the Tonys, only this one can inspire panic and passion at the same time.

Ivan somehow manages to find Lena idling on 6th Avenue, and guides them towards the car as the rest of the cast either tries to find the bus or just says “fuck it” and walks to Sony Hall. They’re just doing a drive-by of the Tony Gala because the Hamlet party will be infinitely more fun, so David, Patrick, Stevie, and Rachel all squish into the backseat of the SUV as Alexis tries to make sure their mother doesn’t lose the Tony she was just handed. 

“I’m so hungry,” David groans. 

“What, the gummy bears weren’t enough?” Patrick asks, nudging him with his shoulder where they’re squished up against each other. 

“Not when you give half of them to Neil Patrick Harris!” 

“Three! I gave him three!” 

“I saw at least five leave the bag!” 

“Children,” Stevie and Rachel admonish in stereo, which is embarrassing on every level. 

They join the cavalcade of cars dropping people off in front of The Plaza and tumble out onto the sidewalk like they’re exiting a clown car. People shout in their direction, and David takes a steadying breath that’s helped by the feeling of Patrick’s hand on his lower back once more. It grounds him, anchors him; keeps him from being pulled in every opposing direction through that touch alone.  

“Hey,” Patrick murmurs, looking at him like they’re the only two on the pavement. “You with me?” 

“I’m always with you,” he says, because it’s just habit at this point. But he’s getting better at voicing his feelings, leaning into his emotions, so he tells the truth. “I just feel like I haven’t taken a breath since we left the Broadhurst.” 

“Then breathe with me,” Patrick murmurs, turning fully towards him and taking hold of his hips. “In…” he slowly sucks in a breath, smiling softly when David follows, “and out…” His breath ghosts across David’s face. “Good, again.” 

They breathe for a minute, appreciating the fact that Rachel, Stevie, and Ivan have given them space but not gone too far, hovering just enough to form a protective wall around this moment of calm that David so desperately needed. 

“Better?” Patrick asks, and David nods, finally opening his eyes. 

“Better.” 

“Good. Now let’s go live our best Eloise lives.” 

And David wants to point out the fact that his boyfriend knows Eloise, but before he can, Rachel abruptly bursts into giggles, nose buried in her phone.

“What’s so funny?” Stevie asks as she looks over her shoulder and promptly snorts. Which is never good. 

“Seriously, guys,” Patrick says, and David spins around fast enough to nearly have a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of 58th Street.

“I’m feeling very ganged up on!” 

“Buzzfeed already has an article,” Rachel manages once her laughter subsides. 

“Oh fuck. Of what?” He’s about to undo all of his breathing work.

Stevie snorts again. “Ten Davrick Tony Moments to Make You Swoon.” 

“Oh my God, I refuse to let that be our ship name.”

Patrick shrugs. “Could be worse.” 

Stevie hums. “Apparently there’s a Twitter user dedicated to posting your whereabouts called @BRoseBeforeHoes.” 

“That’s offensive.”  

Okay,” Rachel clips, interrupting the thesis David had been about to present on language education as a tool for empowering women. “That’s not actually the article I was talking about.” Then she pulls up something else on Buzzfeed and shows them the phone: 

Twenty Times We Needed a Thesaurus During Moira Rose’s Tony Speech

“Well, like, they’re not wrong,” David admits. Even he has no clue how she navigated her way from Point A to Point B by way of Point Z.

And because his mother never misses a cue when when she’s not sabotaging a costar’s performance, she chooses that moment to fling open her car door and throw her arms wide, brandishing the Tony in one hand and her phone in the other. 

“Day-vid! ‘Pettifogging’ is catching like the influenza epidemic of 1918!”

“Jesus Christ.” 

“Right behind ‘bombulate!” 

“That’s great news, Mom.” How she managed to fit both of those (plus at least 18 more, apparently) into a Tony speech is beyond David. Then again, she also somehow fit three chinchilla coats into a brown crocodile bag and smuggled them over the Peruvian border, so. Whatever. 

“C’mon,” Patrick says with an amused chuckle as he gets a hand on David’s elbow. “Let’s get you a burger.” 

“Oh my God, yes please.” Because nothing can take his mind off of his family’s shenanigans like Wagyu beef.

They make their way inside, heading down the escalator to the Todd English Food Hall, one of two floors open for the Tonys Gala, and it becomes obvious ridiculously quickly that they are as much of a draw as the mini crab-cakes. 

It’s a tornado of meetings and greetings, tuxedo and gown-clad actors, designers, directors, and producers all approaching to shake a hand or clap a shoulder. David is no stranger to attention, but these people, these colleagues, are giving instead of taking. Instead of chiseling away at him, they’re building him up. It’s amazing and overwhelming and just this side of too much.

And if David doesn’t get a carbohydrate in him soon, he’s going to pass out harder than Alexis on John and Chrissy’s yacht off Positano. 

He and Patrick get separated for a minute, engaged in two separate conversations, but when David finds a break to take a breath, Patrick is nowhere to be found. He’s just scanning the cluster of people around the dessert table, when his voice comes from behind him. 

“Hey.” 

“Oh, hi.” 

Patrick holds a plate full of every fried food David could possibly want and then some. 

“Fuck, I love you.” He must say it a little too loudly because Tippy Bernstein glances up from the platter of bacon wrapped scallops and gives him a dirty look. Probably because they beat the revival he produced in every single category it was nominated in.

David’s phone buzzes in his pocket just as he’s stuffing a risotto ball into his face, and he pulls it out to find a text from Alexis on the screen. Frowning, he glances around the hall, and he sees his parents reminiscing in the corner with Joel Grey, but no sign of his sister. 

[Alexis]
Heading to the hamlet party to meet ted. You can babysit mom and dad, right?

“Um, no,” he blurts, shoving his empty plate at Patrick so he can type emphatically with both thumbs. 

Um, NO.

[Alexis]
well I’m already at 50th and 7th so. 

He gasps. She would.

You’re such a little b.

“What’s going on?” Patrick asks. 

“Alexis has abandoned me and tasked us with chaperoning my parents.” 

“Notice you went from ‘me’ to ‘us’ there.” 

“Yeah, well there’s no backing out now.” 

Patrick honestly looks delighted by the prospect, pressing a kiss to his cheek, taking the empty plate, and heading back to the food. 

With one last check-in to make sure his parents aren’t about to wander down a flight of stairs like a pair of adventuresome toddlers, David manages to corner Stevie by the pigs in a blanket when no one else is around. “Um, while you and Rachel were doom scrolling, you didn’t happen to see anything on there about Patrick punching Sebastien, did you?” 

Stevie does not help matters by whirling around and loudly asking, “Patrick punched Sebastien?!” 

The man himself blanches by the sliders and quickly hurries over before Stevie’s question can be heard in the fucking Oak Room. 

“I mean - bravo, but what the fuck, Brewer?” she hisses. “Don’t let the press catch wind of that.” 

“My point,” David snaps at the same time Patrick hisses, “Then stop announcing it!” 

“But seriously, what were you thinking?” Stevie continues, crossing her arms and waiting. 

Patrick glances back and forth between them, probably wondering how this evening went against his favor so suddenly, but he doesn’t answer because they all know what Patrick was thinking. And it was kind of sweet, despite the violence of it all. 

“Don’t make me get Rachel,” David threatens. “You know she’ll be on my side.” 

“David, I need you to stop worrying about this,” Patrick says, utterly calm. “You weren’t in the bathroom. You didn’t see what happened. Even if it did come out, Sebastien would not have a leg to stand on. It’s in his best interest if it stays in the Odeon men’s room.”

“Okay, what the fuck does that even mean?” 

“I never said I threw the first punch,” Patrick says evenly, and David reels back. 

“Wait, what? Sebastien punched you?”

Patrick smirks and slides the hand not holding the plate in his pocket with a shrug. “I also never said his aim was very good.”

“But why did he try to punch you in the first place?” David grabs his cheeks, gently turning his head left and right, as if trying to ascertain that Sebastien didn’t actually get a hand on him.

“Guess he didn’t like something I said,” Patrick murmurs. Then he winks. “All’s fair in love and war, babe.” 

“You’re insane,” David breathes, even as he places a kiss on Patrick’s lips. 

“You’re both insane,” Stevie mutters, stealing the plate of sliders from Patrick’s hand and stuffing half of one in her mouth. “This party’s stiff. How long do we have to stay?” 

“Oh my God, chew your food. And we’re leaving as soon as you can get my mother to stop telling Joel Grey how many ovations she got on closing night of Cabaret in 1979.”

“Three by demand and three on the house,” Stevie replies. 

“What? How the hell do you know?”

“Oh she told me that years ago.” 

Sally Bowles musings aside, it takes almost half an hour to coax his parents into their SUV with promises of more libations and better music. David ends up riding with them, much to his chagrin, so Patrick, Stevie, and Rachel have some breathing room in their car (and also so his mother doesn’t try to show Artie her best “Sandy Bullock in Speed impression” in the middle of 9th Avenue.  

They meet back up in front of Sony Hall, and their arrival is cause for much fanfare from the line of people trying to talk their way past the bouncers. David has never felt more like Samantha Jones than he does as they’re ushered through without even needing to show a party pass. 

They give a little wave to the crowd (and ignore the paparazzi) before making their way down the stairs towards the thumping bass beat. By the time they arrive in the spacious venue, people seem to have abandoned the bar to form a circle around someone on the dance floor. 

“What’s going on?” Stevie asks. 

“Oh my God, is that…” David cranes his neck, “... Ted?” 

“Oh shit,” Patrick mutters. “Okay, who gave him tequila?” 

“I’ll give you three guesses, but you’ll only need one and her name begins with A.” 

“Um, excuse you,” his sister snaps, appearing out of nowhere, “he was like this when I arrived.” 

“Yeah, Ted’s not a big partier, so when he lets loose…” Patrick trails off and gestures at the twerking Ted is attempting, “... yeah.” 

Thankfully, Ted’s display has cleared out the bar, so David heads straight there and orders a vodka soda. “Where are your parents?” he yells over the music, more than slightly ashamed he didn’t think to ask earlier. 

“Probably with Ted!” Patrick replies, holding his two Tonys in one arm so he can accept the beer David hands him with the other. 

“That’s terrifying.” 

“Honestly, it’s hardly the worst thing they’ve seen him do.” 

Right. Best friends since fourteen. 

David should have known Patrick would be quick to join in. Barely an hour passes before the DJ cuts the music and the lights come up on the small stage at the front of the room.

“Um, who gave him a guitar?” David squawks, his God-knows-what-number vodka soda making his vowels long and consonants sloppy as Patrick steps into the follow spot, tux jacket abandoned, suspenders reflecting the light. “Oh fuck me,” he groans when Alexis walks up to the microphone next to him. “No! No, no, no!” 

“Aw, thanks, baby,” Patrick says into the mic, because he’s the worst. “I think this one needs to go out to David Rose for his unwavering support. What do you think, Alexis?” 

“Totally,” she replies, glitter that was definitely not there before glinting on her cheeks.  

The crowd around David backs up, in unison, like they’re in a goddamn movie musical, as Patrick points to him from the stage. “There he is. Can’t miss him.” 

He strums the guitar as Alexis does some weird body roll that she should never try to execute again, especially on what must be her fourth mai tai. Then the DJ is cueing up the synth just before Patrick launches into a cover of A Little Bit Alexis.

Like a complete asshole. 

“Are you fucking serious?” David snaps, as Stevie sidles up next to him, already recording on her phone.

“Oh my God, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” 

“I hate you.” 

“I love me.” 

“Are you ready?” his sister deadpans into the microphone with the kind of monotone delivery Paris Hilton perfected two decades ago. Then she looks to Patrick, and he says: 

“Let’s do it.” 

“I’m a Lamborghini, I’m a Hollywood star, 
I’m a little bit tipsy when I drive my car
I’m expensive sushi, I’m a cute huge yacht
I’m a little bit single, even when I’m not…” 

“This is - ”

“Amazing - ” Stevie interjects as David finishes with “horrifying on multiple levels.” 

“David, tell Instagram what you think of your boyfriend and sister’s stylings,” Stevie says, spinning the phone on him. 

“Oh my God, are you live?” 

“You’re damn right, I am.”  

But he just shakes his head and laughs. “Yep, uh huh, this is whom I’ve decided to associate with.” Then he pulls out his own phone and takes a video for himself, because as absolutely absurd as this is, it’s also quite possible that David’s never felt as much joy in his life as he’s experiencing in this moment. 

Especially when his mother gets up onstage to share the mic with his sister, and Helen stumbles up to join Patrick, as the entire dance floor jumps up and down, belting out, “La la la-la la la la, a little bit Alexis!” 

Candice, Aldridge, and Ray are having a dance off in the middle of the floor as Ted hydrates on the side, thank God. Heather is watching, loose-limbed and relaxed, possibly for the first time since May of last year when they started, as she chats with Ronnie. Mutt is making out with a brunette in the corner, and Marcy and Adelina snap photos on their phones as Clint and Hector watch in amused astonishment. 

It’s all of David’s favorite people in one place, enjoying a moment that he just wants to bottle; a night he never wants to forget. 

“Vroom, vroom, bitches.” 

Patrick steps back and high fives Alexis before Helen gets her arms around his neck and presses a kiss to his cheek. His laughter is loud, even without the help of the microphone, and he removes the guitar, handing it to someone at the edge of the stage before hopping off and immediately making his way over to David in the crowd. 

“How’s that for a closing number?” 

“You’re ridiculous and I love you.” 

“Mmm love you, too.” 

“Fan of this,” David murmurs, gently snapping one of his suspenders as Patrick growls into his neck, and as tempting as that sound is, they have places to be. “Not yet. C’mon, we gotta go to The Carlyle.” 

Patrick pulls away, glassy eyes blowing wide. “There’s more? Jesus, and I thought musicians could party.” 

“Aw, didn’t hang out with a lot of theatre geeks growing up, did you,” he says as he pets his messy hair. 

“Did you?” 

Which - fair. 

The ride to The Carlyle is significantly less chaotic. They lose both sets of parents to their beds (which is for the best), and Alexis waves them off to handle Ted (also for the best), leaving David, Patrick, Stevie, Rachel, and four Tonys between them to make the trek across town. 

The Tony After-After Party is always the last stop of the night. Hosted by the show’s publicity company, it’s supposed to take place in the 26th floor penthouse, though it usually spills out into the halls and down into the hotel bar. It’s nearly 3am by the time they arrive and, sure enough, another cheer goes up from the drunk revelers milling around the lobby when they step out of the car. 

Marc Shaiman has taken over the piano in Bemelmans, and the Tony winner for Best Actress in a Musical is eating an omelette barefoot in the hallway. They finally make their way to the 26th floor where a cookie train has begun - a sort of impromptu conga line behind the lone dessert plate being passed through the crowded penthouse.

Rachel manages to make it for one glass of champagne before begging off, claiming an early conference call with a client in London. She hands Patrick his second Tony back and kisses him on the cheek, murmuring something in his ear that makes his already glassy eyes water. Then she kisses David and leaves them both with a warning to not die. 

Seems easy enough. 

Conversation is lively, and David and Patrick are never short on attention. They lose Stevie in the 4am hour to an actor who ordered Taco Bell, and more and more guests start wandering through the penthouse in bathrobes and slippers they’ve found in various bathrooms throughout the suite.

By the 5am hour, champagne is still being served, but glassware has run out. Someone finds plastic cups, but David draws the line at Veuve in Solos when not backstage. 

“I think it’s time to go,” he murmurs, and Patrick groans. 

“Thank God. This wall is the only thing keeping me standing.” 

David chuckles and presses a kiss to his lips before pulling out his phone and texting Stevie. 

We’re heading out. You coming?

[Stevie]
Already left. 

David gasps. 

Omg did you irish goodbye us?

[Stevie]
Left with taco bell guy. 

David rolls his eyes and quickly types out a response: 

The man won a Tony tonight. You can at least learn his name.

[Stevie]
We’ll see. Best wishes.

Warmest regards. 🖕

“We’re on our own.” 

“Good,” Patrick grins. “Means I can get handsy with you in the back of the car.” 

“Honey, you’ll be snoring against the window the minute the door is closed.” 

Luckily everyone left seems too drunk or too tired to notice them making their escape, and they manage to get to the lobby without anyone stopping them for further conversation. They’re just shuffling across the black, marbled floor towards Ivan when something by the reception desk catches David’s eye. 

“Wait, wait, wait.”

“Baby, I can barely stay upright. Where you goin’? Lena’s waiting.” 

But David waves him off as he stumbles over to the concierge, looking down at the stack of newspapers on top, waiting to be distributed. 

Holy shit. 

“Go ahead,” the man behind the desk says with a grin, his eyes skating over to Patrick for a second. “Take two.” 

“Thank you,” David whispers, grabbing the newspapers and heading back to his patient boyfriend, who’s staring at him with tired but amused confusion. 

“What are you - ?”

But then David holds the newspaper up, the front page of The New York Times, across which a bold headline declares Hamlet Reigns. In the picture below, his mother and father are in the foreground in front of the microphone, surrounded by their company and producers, but the camera’s focus is not on them. In the background, on the other side of the stage in the kind of perfect detail only a long lens can capture, David and Patrick are kissing like it’s the first and last time they’ll get to do so. 

“Wow,” Patrick murmurs. “The front page?” 

“Above the fold.” 

Patrick huffs out a laugh and gently takes the papers, leaning in so he can look his fill. David sways forward and runs his nose along Patrick’s hairline before pressing a kiss to his forehead. 

“We look good,” Patrick murmurs, and David sighs against his cheek. 

“We do.” Then he looks through the glass doors at the cobalt sky. 

And the sun rises on the second best morning of David Rose’s life. 

🎭 Now 🎭

The commute down 44th is slower today. 

Normally David power-walks faster than an 80s fitness instructor, but his pace is more meandering, more contemplative, because he knows that each step brings him closer to a parting he’s still not ready to face; even after one year on Broadway, three months in Toronto, and six weeks just two blocks south. 

He should be grateful, and he is. It’s not the heartbreak of an early closing; it’s not the gasping breath that a sudden shutdown steals from your lungs.  

It’s a purposeful end. A long goodbye. 

Doesn’t mean it still isn’t painful. Doesn’t mean it’s not a bittersweet hurt. 

David grew here. He laughed here. He cried here. 

He loved here. 

And now he has to let it go. 

The marquee comes into view, that white and red on black beauty, and David stops to take a picture, even though his phone holds many. None of them will be today. It feels like it should be cloudy, but it’s gorgeous, because of course it is, and he adds the photo to his favorites as a voice to his left startles him: 

“Hey, stranger.” Rachel is standing on the sidewalk, smiling at him softly. 

“Did you just get in?” he asks, and she laughs. 

“Do you see this suitcase behind me?” she says, wheeling it out to the side. “Direct shot from JFK. I wasn’t missing this for the world.” 

He walks over and gives her a long, hard hug. It’s been a while since he’s seen her. Probably since the film premiere, though Monday night FaceTimes have become a regular thing.

“How you doing?” she asks as he pulls away and sighs. 

How is he doing? 

“Not gonna lie, it’s a strange day.” 

She nods. “I hear that.” 

“It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming. Theatre isn’t meant to last forever.” 

“Unless you’re that one,” she says with a laugh, pointing at the Majestic next door where Phantom is (still) playing. 

He chuckles. “Touché.” Then he sobers. “But that’s the point. That’s what makes it special.” 

“And special this was,” she murmurs, shivering in the mid-March air. “Shall we?” She starts towards the stage door before spinning back around. “Oh hang on, I have to grab my ticket.” 

Oh right. He spent so much of his time here standing and pacing at the back of the orchestra that he forgot he’s actually sitting for this. 

“That for him?” Rachel asks, nodding at the wrapped gift tucked under David’s arm as they head into the lobby. 

“Yeah.” 

“Something sentimental?’ 

“Oh, soul-crushingly sentimental. So the question is, do I ruin him before the show, in the middle of the show, or afterwards?” 

“Well, he’ll be ruined enough afterwards,” she points out as she steps up to the box office window. 

“True.” Maybe before then. 

Monica has their tickets waiting before they can even ask for them. “I sat you two together,” she says. “Hope that was okay.” 

Rachel looks at David, and David stares back. “Perfect,” they say. 

As Monica stuffs the tickets into an envelope, David glances down at Rachel’s suitcase. “You want to stash that in the stage management office?” 

“Or Patrick’s dressing room. Whichever has more space.” 

“Debatable at this point. Both are chock full of boxes.” 

Monica slips the envelope under the glass partition and gives David a watery smile. “Congratulations.” 

And he kicks himself a bit, because he doesn’t think about the front of house staff as much as he should. He thinks of Judy, the house manager, but only because he sees her inside all the time. But these people in this little box office who are the first faces people see when they come to watch this show are critical. Essential. 

“Thank you, guys,” David says, making sure to crane his neck so he can see the other two people readying their tickets for the performance. “For everything.” 

Monica smiles again. “It was our pleasure.” And just over her shoulder, David spots a large box of Krispy Kreme donuts, and on the lid, scribbled, Thank you. - Patrick 

David huffs out a laugh and gives them a final nod as he steps away. Rachel squeezes his arm as he pockets the envelope and takes the handle of the suitcase from her. 

“How is he? Really?” she asks as they exit into the chilly air and turn right towards the stage door. 

But how to answer that rather loaded question?

He thinks back to that morning, to Patrick’s trusting eyes and soft smile, and he nods. “He’s okay.” 

“And you?” 

“Eh. I’ll live.” And he will. 

He has so much life left with the man whose face graces the side of this theatre. Whose face brings David joy and comfort and safety, every morning, noon, and night. 

He stops in front of the stage door and stares at the sign, just like he did over a year ago now, feet still plastered to the pavement. 

STAGE DOOR means home.

And now home is changing. 

Which is fine. Homes do. It’s the people in them that matter. 

“You ready for this?” Rachel asks, hand on the knob, and David scoffs because time will move on anyway, even if he’s not. 

“I’m not sure I have a choice.”  

🎭 Then 🎭

“What do you consider to be the start of our relationship?” 

David blinks up towards the ceiling to keep the tears from the onions currently sizzling in the sauté pan in front of him from dripping onto his face. “What’d you say?”

A switch clicks and the vent in the hood powers on, before a paper towel appears in his peripheral vision, dabbing at the traitorous tears that had decided to leak out anyway. 

“I asked when do you think we started dating,” Patrick says with amusement, cupping his cheek to make sure he gets them all. 

“Oh, um…” As someone who does not go in for important dates of any kind, he’s honestly flummoxed. “I never really thought about it?” 

“Really?” 

David clears his throat and pretends to be very invested in the state of the garlic. Which is now burning. “I mean, I don’t know. When do you think we started dating?” 

“I asked you first.” 

“Okay, what are you twelve?” The garlic is definitely burning. So are the onions. He really can’t try to impress his boyfriend with his cooking and have a serious conversation at the same time. “Um, I don’t know… probably the night you came back from Glastonbury?” 

Patrick tilts his head. “Huh. Really?” 

Oh God, was that wrong? “Um, yeah? Why? When-when do you think we started dating?” It cannot be that disastrous kiss-and-run. 

Patrick huffs out a breath and rubs the back of his neck, a tell that David has learned means he’s self-conscious. “Well, I kind of thought we were dating before then. Um, when we kissed - ”

“In the car?” he definitely doesn’t screech. 

“No, the next night. Um, the night that Ronnie called.” 

David turns the burner off. 

“Did you allow Sebastien Raine to take compromising photos of you before you broke up?” 

There’s only one call he can be talking about. 

“Yes. Why do you know that?” 

The call that made his world spin the other way, like a globe on a spindle. 

“Because they’re out there, David. Sebastien just sold them to The Post.”

“But we had just - we didn’t even…” David trails off and shakes his head. Hell, he kicked Patrick out of his apartment that night! How can that be the start of their relationship? 

“Then let me just… be here. Please!” 
“Patrick, just go.”

But - Patrick didn’t go. Like, physically he did because he respects David, but… he was always there, in every plane ticket, every text, every good deed. 

He never left. 

“David weaved his way into my life one more time and… never left.”

Patrick said those words just a couple of weeks ago. 

“Sorry, I just - you went through all of this trouble, I thought…” Patrick gestures at the stove and the table setting, “I thought we were on the same page.”

“Because you made a joke about the amount of takeout containers in the recycling!” he blurts. “And Ina just came out with a brand new cookbook, so.” David waves the wooden spoon around in an arc that sends olive oil splattering against the tiled backsplash, before really letting Patrick’s words sink in. “Wait. ‘All this trouble.’ Is this? Does that mean…?”

“Happy Anniversary, David,” Patrick whispers, looking the kind of cautiously happy that makes David just want to kiss the expression right off his face. 

“But we said ‘what if we did this?’ the night I surprised you! ‘This’ being,” he gestures between them, “this.

Patrick smiles softly, stepping closer, leaning in. “David, I was all in well before then.” 

And David can’t deny it. Not when the evidence has been laid out before him so blatantly, even Inspector fucking Clouseau could pick up on it. 

One year.

Holy fuck. Someone stayed for one whole year. Twelve months. Three hundred and sixty-five days. A number of hours whose sum is too high for David to calculate off the top of his head. 

Patrick shifts his weight from foot to foot and rubs at the back of his flushed neck again. “David, I’d really love it if you could say something soon - ” 

“Happy Anniversary,” he blurts, because what else is there to say? Except: “I was all in, too.” 

Patrick’s eyes brighten and those cheeks flush for an entirely different reason as he finally closes the distance between them, cupping David’s jaw and bringing their lips together in a kiss that lasts long enough for David to be glad he turned the burner off. 

“I love you,” Patrick whispers as he pulls away, before tucking himself into David’s neck and sighing a sigh that feels like relief. 

“I love you,” David murmurs, holding him closer (while also trying not to drip olive oil down his back from the spoon still in his hand). “One year.” It’s still a marvel. 

“One year,” Patrick replies, reaching past him to turn the burner back on. “So since this is now an anniversary dinner, how can I help?” 

David’s eyes go wide at ‘anniversary dinner’ because that adds some pressure that he definitely did not need. Not when Ina’s ingredients list is longer than Dostoyevsky and he’s realizing he was supposed to put the garlic in after the carrots and fennel. “Um, pick out a wine?” 

Patrick nods and smacks a kiss to David’s cheek before heading over to the wine fridge built into the chef’s island. For someone who appreciates dive bar beer as much as Patrick does, David was delighted to discover his taste in wine is actually quite sophisticated. And it would have to be when you have music producers and label executives wining and dining you on the daily. 

He watches Patrick pull out a bottle of red and inspect it. “Sangiovese okay?” 

David nods because the meal is Italian. 

“I’m gonna decant this so it gets to room temperature faster,” Patrick says, heading towards the glass bottle by the wet bar, but David’s mind is already on other things. 

“Um, speaking of anniversaries,” he starts, because he’s been thinking about this for a while and what a segue Patrick just graced him with, “but we’re approaching the time when we should think about an announcement.” 

“An announcement?” 

David hears the pop of the cork and then the sound of the wine being poured. “Yeah. For either an extension or a closing.” 

The pouring stops. “Oh.” 

David busies himself with sliding the chopped vegetables into the pan, hoping he didn’t fuck anything up too badly (either the recipe or the night). “It’s just that we’re reaching the end of June. Contracts are up in September. Ruth and Miguel say we need to announce soon if we’re going to start selling those tickets and we just swept the Tonys; now’s the time to do it, if we’re - if we’re continuing.” He can’t take his eyes away from the carrots, using the wooden spoon to turn them, flip them, coat them with olive oil.  

“David,” Patrick’s hand comes down on top of David’s on the spoon, halting his rather frenetic stirring. “Baby, look at me.” 

It takes effort, as all vulnerable things do, but eventually he manages. 

“Of course I want to extend. I want to if you want to. I love doing this play.” 

“It’s just… a lot of time.”

“It’s time I’m willing to give. And Ray said there’s interest from London, too.” 

“Patrick.” David tilts his head back and groans. 

“Okay, what’s this about? Do you not want to extend?” 

"Of course I do! It’s just - time away from your music.” 

“Last I checked, this is my music,” Patrick says. 

“You know what I mean. You have an album that’s ready! You said so yourself. If you wait until after we close, you won’t be eligible for this year’s Grammys.” 

“Sure, I will. I have Hamlet.” Off David’s unimpressed look, he continues. “David, even if I recorded the album tomorrow, I’d never have it ready and released by the cut off date. If we extend, we’ll close next March, and then I have until August 31st to lay down Moon Shot.”

David sighs, and stirs the vegetables once more. “But if you take the time now, you can release it during the Hamlet run and go straight into tour rehearsals when we close.” 

Patrick tilts his head, like he’s conceding the point. Then he smiles. “Well, I hope not straight into them. I might need a vacation first.” 

“Oh?” Intriguing. He places the spoon down and slowly turns so he can dance his fingers up Patrick’s biceps. “And where might this hypothetical vacation take place?”

“Anywhere you want to go,” Patrick breathes, leaning in to steal another kiss.  

“I’ll make a list.” Then David pulls away far enough to look him in the eye. “But I’m serious. Take a week off and record it. Byron can handle the role. We may see a dip in ticket sales, but we will have absolutely no trouble recouping.”

“David - "

“Look, I didn’t think this was our anniversary, so I didn’t prepare.” 

Patrick looks over his shoulder at the mess David’s made of the kitchen just to make him a meal. “Then what’s all this?” 

“I dunno, Monday?” He sighs and then leans forward, pressing their foreheads together. “I thought I had more weeks to get you something. But… I can give you that time. Let that be my gift. At least until I can find a better one.” 

Patrick huffs out a breath. “Seems pretty perfect to me. Okay. I’ll talk to the studio about dates.”

“Good. And we can coordinate with Ruth and Miguel for the least impactful week.” 

“Right,” Patrick murmurs, and David smiles. 

“I want the world to hear your gift to me.” 

🎭 Now 🎭

The streamers are back. 

David never thought he’d be relieved to see tacky strips of foil in colors that should only be used for popsicles and the Lilly Pulitzer spring collection, but here they are - welcoming him in the stage door with all the refinement of a six-year-old’s birthday party. 

God, he’s missed them. 

“What, no snappy comment?” Heather asks, leaning against the doorway of the stage management office, arms crossed but face amused. 

“What are we celebrating?” 

She smiles. “A job well done.” 

And it is. It’s a job well fucking done. 

Even if it’s the first one he’s never wanted to end. 

“Go get him,” Rachel whispers, nudging him slightly in the back. “Heather, do you have room for this?” She takes her suitcase back from David and rolls it forward. 

“Sure thing.”

David watches Rachel disappear into the stage management office with Heather, before giving Ritchie a solemn nod (noticing he has his own box of donuts presumably from Patrick) and heading for the stairs. He takes them slowly, drawing it out, but the first floor arrives all too quickly anyway. 

He doesn’t even bother knocking as he turns the knob and opens the door to find Patrick sitting at his station, not doing much of… anything, honestly. 

“I don’t like this,” David murmurs. 

Patrick looks up in the mirror, now devoid of the cards and pictures and notes it had gathered over the months. “Hey. Don’t like what?” 

“This,” David says, gesturing around. “This emptiness.” 

Patrick hums. “Join the club.” Then he tilts back in his chair and drops his head, and David wanders over and lives his best Kirsten Dunst life by pressing an upside down kiss to his lips. “Did you get what you needed from the apartment?” 

David smiles and tucks the gift behind his back. “Maybe.” 

“Is that for me?” 

“No, it’s for Ritchie, actually?” 

Patrick laughs. “I mean - I wouldn’t argue. The man deserves it.” 

“Yes, it’s for you.” He hands the flat package over, and Patrick makes a show of weighing it before giving it a little shake. 

“Careful!” 

After a moment, Patrick asks, “What is it with you and frames?” 

David gapes. “How do you know it’s a frame?!” 

“Baby, I can feel it.” 

David huffs and sits on the loveseat that’s getting put into a storage unit on Tuesday, pulling one of the throw pillows that they’re taking back to the townhouse onto his lap. 

“Fine. Yes. It’s a frame.” He definitely doesn’t pout. 

“Aw, I’m sorry.” Patrick stands and sinks down next to him, cuddling into his side. “You know I’m going to love it, whatever it is.” 

David grunts but doesn’t argue because, yes, he will. 

“Want me to open it now?” 

“Up to you.” 

“Let me rephrase: is this going to make me cry?” 

David haughtily lifts his chin. “Well I certainly hope so.” 

Patrick grins and nuzzles into his neck. “So I should open it now and not when the show has already made me a shell of myself.” 

“If you want.” He tries to be casual, but Patrick didn’t even fall for that at the Crosby Street Hotel. Sure enough, the smile Patrick is gracing him with tells him he isn’t falling for it now either. 

“Okay, David.” He flips the gift over on his lap and slides his finger beneath the scotch tape holding the wrapping together. The paper falls away, and Patrick turns the frame back over, breath catching when he sees what’s inside. 

The Playbill insert from The Crucible.

On the back of which Patrick wrote: 

You made something special here. 
Maybe we can do it again. 
416-555-9763 
-M. Hall

And on the bottom of the frame is a tiny brass plaque: 

We did it again. 

It had been pressed in between Shoestring Catch and Banjo Hitter beneath David’s turntable. In the insanity of the last year, he’d honestly forgotten about it. Not that he ever really forgot it was there, but out of sight, out of mind. David had stumbled upon it when he was packing, and he just - knew Patrick had to have it. Speaking of…

Patrick’s head remains bent over the frame, thumb gently running along the wood. “Well, you were right,” he says, voice wrecked. 

“I was?” 

He hums and looks up, even as a tear splashes onto the glass. “You made me cry.” 

David smiles and cups his cheeks, pulling him in to kiss the wetness from his skin. “I’m sorry.” 

“It’s perfect,” Patrick laughs. “I can’t believe you kept it.” 

“Of course I kept it. First of all, I needed your number. And then, I guess…” he shrugs, “even if nothing ever came of it, of this, you still called something I made ‘special.” 

“It was.” 

David nods and presses their foreheads together again. “It is.” 

“I love you.” 

“Love you.” 

Then Heather’s voice booms over the intercom, startling them: “Good gentlepeople, it is 2:30pm on Sunday, March 16th, and this is your half hour call. Half hour.” 

Patrick cups David’s cheek, thumb ghosting across his jaw as he kisses him, breathing a “Thank you” across his lips as he pulls away, but David just shakes his head. 

“Thank you.” 

He stays on the couch and watches Patrick get ready; watches him go through his breathing exercises and do a headstand against the wall; watches Cecilia come in and do a final check on his costume before bending down and pressing a kiss to David’s cheek; watches Stevie barrel through a moment later and join David in full Ophelia regalia, not caring in the slightest that Patrick is still getting dressed, or that she has a perfectly acceptable room of her own just a short flight up.

Time slips through David’s fingers like water, and when Patrick is finished with his vocal warmups, he sits down on David’s other side, pressing up against him, sandwiching him perfectly in love and snark.

They don’t say anything, these three. They don’t have to. 

And that’s how they stay, for as long as they’re able. 

“Cast and Company of Hamlet, for one last time: Places. This is your Places call.” 

🎭 Then 🎭

Patrick wakes him at 7:30am on a Monday. 

To say David is displeased is an understatement. He had argued for leaving last night, but after the Sunday matinee, Patrick really wasn’t feeling up for a two-plus hour drive. And let’s be real, David wasn’t gonna be the one driving. 

It’s the first time David learns that Patrick actually owns a car, a small Audi not unlike the one they rented in South Carolina, which he keeps in a garage down the block from the townhouse. David is so used to seeing him in Lena’s SUV that the thought honestly didn’t occur. 

The drive to Hudson is scenic (the part of it that David is conscious for), and they stop at a little coffee shop along the way. When they get to where they’re going, it’s late morning, and Aaron greets them at his white farmhouse with a whole brunch spread. David would hug him if a) he wasn’t a famous musician and b) it wasn’t the first time they were actually meeting. 

“Ted’s already at the studio getting set up, and Jesse arrived about an hour ago. He ate and split,” Aaron says with a chuckle. 

Jesse, David had learned, was Patrick’s engineer and had recorded and mixed all of Patrick’s albums so far. He’s also even more meticulous than David’s buttoned-up boyfriend and is probably inspecting each and every wire and outlet in and around the board and amps before they arrive. 

Patrick has a studio in his basement, and when the job is larger, he usually heads to Electric Lady, but he didn’t want to be in the city for this. He didn’t want the distractions. So he contacted his friend Aaron who, thankfully, was not touring with The National at the moment. 

“You ready to get started?” 

“Absolutely,” Patrick replies. 

They grab their bags from the car, since they’ll be staying in the bedrooms on the second floor of the studio, and begin to make the trek from the farmhouse to the… barn? It’s beautiful, make no mistake, with green pastures and trees as far as the eye can see. There’s a long pond to the left, and fairy lights line the walk from the studio down to the dock. It’s more wilderness than David would like and he’s no Bear Grylls, but he’s willing to overlook the moths if it means getting to be a fly on the wall for this. 

Aaron leads them through the door and into the living room/kitchen area. To the left are sliding glass doors that open to the sloping hill leading down to the pond, letting in great natural light, and to the right is a set of stairs to the second floor. 

“It’s not much - ”

“Aaron, it’s amazing,” Patrick breathes, walking towards the picture window on the far wall that looks into the mixing room. There’s another window beyond that that presumably looks into the studio. 

“Yello?” Ted’s voice calls out. 

“It’s us!” Patrick replies, and Ted appears a moment later followed by Jesse. 

After checking to make sure they have everything they need, Aaron leaves them to it, and David and Patrick head upstairs to drop their stuff. 

“Oh.” 

Patrick presses a kiss to his shoulder. “Regrets?” 

Like, a few. The bedrooms are… rustic; probably not all that different from what David would find in a cabin had he ever deigned to enter one. The low ceilings are going to be a problem, and for someone used to sleeping in a California king, this queen situation will hopefully make for primetime cuddling. Either that or a broken nose. Patrick tends to starfish. 

“Um, not necessarily,” he replies after a long moment. 

Patrick’s chuckle is warm through his shirt, and David can’t help but shiver even in the afternoon warmth. Going by the thinness of the walls, and the fact that Ted is in the bedroom next door, David doubts they’ll be getting up to much this week. Which is unfortunate, but also both of their faults. Neither of them is very good at being quiet. 

“It’ll be an adventure,” he says gamely, and Patrick hugs him from behind. 

“It will. And hey, you’ll actually get to see me record an album. It’s not like what we did on Hamlet.” He sounds so excited to share this part of his work, of his passion with David. How can David deny him? 

“I would assume not, considering we’re here for a week.” 

“Mmm,” Patrick kisses behind his ear, “and time’s wasting. Let’s go.” Then he pats his ass (which does not help David’s impending week of celibacy) and heads back down the stairs.

The plan is to record the music first and lay down vocals later, and while Patrick has a band when he tours, he'll play keys and guitar himself since they record each track individually. The only two instruments he doesn’t do are drums and bass, and by the time they return to the first floor, his drummer, Aidan, is already in the studio setting up his kit, a piece of bacon hanging from his mouth. 

“What, did you dine and dash?” Patrick asks with a laugh, and Aidan stuffs the rest of the food in his mouth and opens his arms for a hug. 

“Sorry we’re late. Ran into an accident on the Taconic. Aaron gave us a plate and sent us on our way.” 

“All good. Where’s Vera?” 

Aidan nods out of the third set of sliding glass doors. “Admiring the view.” 

David follows his gaze and spies a woman with a sharp pixie cut staring out over the water. He recognizes her as the bassist from both the concert in Columbia and the one at the Garden. 

“David,” Aidan greets, holding out a hand. “So nice to finally meet you, man. He wouldn’t shut up about you.”  

“Oh really?” David replies, shaking his hand perhaps more heartily than he means too. 

Okay,” Patrick interrupts, but David will not be deterred. 

“You and I should talk.” 

Aidan chuckles. “Anytime, man.” 

Vera comes back in and she’s just as lovely as David wants her to be. All warmth and charm with just the right amount of sass needed in this boys’ club. She’d fit right in in the theatre. 

As they finish setting up, David takes a moment to look around the studio with its wood-paneled walls and beaten rugs and vintage furniture. It feels very 70s, yet very chic. Rustic, yet mid-century modern. Around the spacious, high-ceiled room, there are two pianos, a keyboard, the drum kit, and every guitar known to man. Thick, black headphones are passed out, and Ted and Jesse settle at the mix console in the next room as Patrick sits on the piano bench and cracks his knuckles. 

“Um, where should I be?” David asks. This isn’t his territory and though Patrick (and everyone, really) has made him feel more than welcome, it’s still been a while since he’s felt like such an outsider. 

“You can stay,” Patrick says, nodding at the green loveseat against the wall. “You just have to be quiet.” 

David leaves his phone in the next room, despite the fact that it’s on silent and airplane mode, because he will not be the one to ruin a perfect take. 

So they start with the first track and go from there. 

It’s fascinating, time-consuming work. Around hour three, Patrick tells David that he really won’t be offended if he wants to step out. David stays for another pass, and then admits that he really does need to check his emails. 

Ronnie, however, is leaving him alone, which is frankly shocking news. That she was willing to let him go a week without a single meeting with a producer/writer/actor is a miracle considering people have been “banging down her door like a redneck with a pitchfork” (her words). He’s honestly grateful for the break. He can hardly go ten minutes without his phone ringing or his email dinging, and if he’s outside? Forget it. His anonymity is a thing of the past. 

But as he stares through the window at Patrick pounding the piano keys, pouring his heart and soul into something he created with David in mind, well. All of that is a small price to pay to get this in return. 

By the time they wrap for the day, the sun has set below the trees, and David learns that Ted is actually a shockingly good cook. They eat their chili around the small, wooden table in the kitchen before heading outside to breathe in the country air. 

It’s not a bad way to pass a week, honestly. 

They spend their days in the studio, building songs by bar and beat, and their evenings out by the fire pit on the deck, making s’mores and telling jokes as they relax in Adirondack chairs with their drink of choice in hand. It’s clear that these people all have a long history, and they’re kind as they share their stories, always clarifying places and names for David so he doesn’t get lost along the way. 

And in the end, there’s an album. Incomplete - it still needs to be properly mixed - but for the first time, David has heard everything that Patrick wrote for him. And it’s beautiful. It’s a triumph.

It’s a love letter rolled up in a bottle and tossed into the sea, just waiting to wash up on shore. 

🎭 Now 🎭

The pass door seems smaller. 

It shouldn’t, really. It’s not like David got bigger, but the walls seem to be closing in and squeezing tight. Suffocating him. 

It’s a friendly house tonight; of course it is. The creative team is here, the producers, friends and family of the company, the diehard fans on their 13th viewing. Marcy and Clint are here, though David has no idea where. Marcy wouldn’t hear of getting together pre-show. She and Clint wanted them to have the morning to themselves. To prepare. To get used to goodbye. There’s a post-show party on the rooftop of the Empire, and he’ll do all of his catching up then, but that doesn’t stop him from looking for them in the crowd. He spies Rachel’s red hair almost immediately on the other side of the orchestra, and she’s turned around in her seat chatting away to someone. The person blocking his view finally sits down, and he spies Marcy in the row behind them, though Clint is nowhere to be found. 

It’s good that he’s surrounded by loved ones, as much as he appreciates them all giving him a wide berth today. 

It won’t be the last time he sees Hamlet in some form. He brought in the same production company who films the shows for The National’s NT Live series, and his parents are in talks to air it on PBS and in movie theatres around the country. There’s also been interest from Interflix to stream it, but those conversations are in early days. 

And there’s always London. Patrick wasn’t wrong when he said he’d heard there’d been interest. ‘Interest’ is an understatement; they’re practically bribing the production to come, but Patrick has other areas of his life and his art that he has to attend to, not the least of which is an international tour. 

So there is a future, but it won’t ever be the same. 

“I trust you don’t need help finding your seat, Mr. Rose,” Judy says with a knowing smile. 

He laughs. “I think I can manage, but thank you.” 

“It’s been a pleasure, Mr. Rose.” 

“The honor was mine, Judy.” 

She leaves him to continue helping people find their seats as a hand comes down on David’s shoulder, startling him. 

“Oh, Clint,” he says when he turns. 

“David,” Clint responds, already halfway to wrapping his arms around him. David sinks into the embrace, having grown more comfortable with the parental affection the Brewers seem only too happy to bestow. The Roses aren’t exactly big huggers, but he’s allowed himself this, and he’d be lying if he said Clint didn’t give fantastic hugs. He’s tall and broad with a wingspan that just cocoons you. And right now, David needs to be cocooned. “How are you doing, son?” 

David will not cry at ‘son.’ “Um, I’m all right.” 

Clint pulls away and nods. “It’s a happy thing, a successful run, but you’re allowed to be sad, too.” 

“Yeah,” he whispers, clearing his throat. 

The lights blink, and Clint gets an arm around his shoulders, guiding him towards the aisle, and thank God, because David isn’t sure his feet would have brought him there otherwise. 

But as he starts towards his seat, something wild happens. 

People start to clap. 

Not everyone, just the people who notice and recognize David, but still. It’s a swell of appreciation that has his already tight throat getting tighter. He tries to smile and wave a little, but he quickens his pace because he cannot burst into tears before they’ve even begun. He slides into his seat on the aisle next to Rachel without even checking to see if Clint was keeping up. Oh God, and he didn’t hug Marcy. 

He turns in his seat, but she’s already reaching over to squeeze his shoulders. “Hello, sweet boy.” 

“Hi,” he manages. His voice wobbles, and Rachel pats his knee. 

Mandy is on Rachel’s other side, and she leans forward and offers a, “Hey, boss.” The show has been in her capable hands for months now, and David is so proud of how far she’s come. 

He glances around as the ushers tell people to turn their cell phones off, and he spies his parents at the other end of his row, just in front of Jake and Twyla. Bob is on orchestra right near Derek, and Amy Grace is hanging out by the sound console. Ted and Alexis are waving at him from the middle of the row in front of him, and David smiles as he waves back. 

There’s another tap to his shoulder and suddenly a travel pack of tissues is being dropped into his lap. He chuckles as looks back at Marcy and whispers, “Thank you,” and she winks because she’s perfect. 

Then the house lights start to dim, and he takes a breath and holds it. It’s his favorite part of theatre, when light turns to dark. The anticipation builds because anything could happen on that stage, and David refuses to let melancholy seep into this moment.

This magic.

Because what other word for it could there be? 

🎭 Then 🎭

“Baby, hurry up!” 

“Oh my God!” David yells, half scolding Patrick for rushing him and half cursing as his socks slip on the hardwood floor. He catches himself on the railing and gingerly takes the last remaining steps from the bedroom level to the living room/kitchen level, grumbling as he makes his way to the counter because caffeine is more important than the Grammy nominations at the moment.  

Patrick turns around on the couch and smiles a smile that is way too jovial for practically dawn. “Morning, sunshine.” 

David grunts in return. 

“Hi, everyone, I’m Deborah Dugan, President and CEO of the Recording Academy. I’m so excited to be here with you this morning…” comes from the TV as David stirs in his sugar and stumbles over to the couch, carefully placing his mug down on the coffee table so he can collapse onto the cushions, tilting sideways and landing his head in Patrick’s lap. 

“Why are these things so early? Every damn time.” 

“Only to torture you, babe,” Patrick murmurs, scratching David’s scalp. It’s not helping him stay awake.

“... music makers voting for other music makers, and we hold them up high by recognizing their excellence, their craft, and we nominate them for a Grammy…”

He can’t help smiling because despite the fact that he wants to go back to bed with every fiber of his being, they’re together. On Grammy nomination morning. 

One year ago, David had to settle for texting and FaceTime.

“What do you have today?” Patrick asks, keeping one eye on the TV and one eye on David. He may not be eligible with his own album, but it’s still his industry. These are still his colleagues. 

“Ronnie’s mad at me,” David groans. 

“What? Why?” 

“Because she only schedules 10am meetings for me when she’s mad.” 

“What did you do?” 

David gasps. “What makes you think it was me?” 

“Baby, any time you and Ronnie argue, I have to take her side. It might be the only way I’ll get her to like me.” 

And he looks so hopeful that David doesn’t have the heart to tell him that will probably never happen. But then he remembers the conversation in the back of the orchestra before first preview, when Ronnie begrudgingly admitted, “I don’t not like him.” It was as close as they’re ever going to get to having her approval, but it’s enough. And for Ronnie, it’s extraordinary. 

“Okay, you know Best Musical Album isn’t going to be first up. I’m hungry.” But he makes no move to get up. 

“Okay.” 

“Patrick,” he whines. 

“Oh I’m sorry, did you want me to make you breakfast?” 

David pouts. “Please?” 

After a moment that truly does look like a struggle, Patrick caves. “Ugh, you know what that look does to me,” he says before gently lifting David’s head and sliding a pillow where he’d been sitting. “Eggs?” 

David hums. “Bacon, too?” 

“Sure, David.” 

“And - "

“Toast with raspberry jam, I got it,” he calls as he makes his way to the kitchen. 

David grins and settles into the cushions, sitting up occasionally to sip at his coffee, as the smell of breakfast infiltrates the air. 

“How come Gayle King is always doing the announcements?” he asks, as the Chair of the Board of Trustees introduces her and Alicia Keys to the podium. 

“Because both the Tonys and the Grammys are on CBS. That’s her network.” 

“But can’t she, like, get her bestie Oprah to announce with her? No offense to Alicia Keys, I love her. She saved me from making an idiot out of myself in front of JC Chasez in the Kid’s Choice green room.” 

“Alicia’s great,” Patrick says, and David forgets that while his interactions with that level of celebrity are usually reserved for embarrassing run-ins in the bathroom, Patrick is actually friends with these people. 

“So how does this compare to other Grammy nomination mornings?” David asks, obviously fishing. 

“Well, I can only be nominated for one, so there’s less pressure.” 

“Uh huh. What else?” 

Patrick appears over the back of the couch and presses a kiss to his head. “Company’s better than ever, I gotta say.” 

David grins and gives a little shimmy. "Don't tell Stevie."

"Wouldn't dream of it," Patrick replies, as David turns volume up so they can hear over the sizzling bacon. 

A few minutes later, Patrick returns to the couch, a plate in each hand, and David sits up to give him space. “Mm, I love you.” 

“I know.” 

“Okay, Han Solo, don’t get cocky.” 

Patrick laughs and leans in, pressing a kiss to his check. “I love you, too. I’m also impressed you know Star Wars.” 

“Know’ it is a stretch. Alexis dated, like, half the Rebel Alliance.” 

They eat through the big categories: Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year, and every now and then, David catches Patrick staring at him. It’s enough to become slightly disconcerting. 

“Okay, what?” he asks with a laugh. “Do I have jam on my face or something?” 

“No,” Patrick replies. “Sorry. I just like looking at you.” 

And, while that's incredibly sweet, David also knows that he is not looking his best. “Well, after I’ve showered and properly pampered myself, you can look all you want.”  

“And now the nominees for Best Musical Theater Album…” 

David drops his plate on the coffee table, sending his silverware scattering as he scoots closer to Patrick and grabs his hand. 

“... Patrick Brewer, Stevie Budd - ”

“Yes!” David yells. 

“Candice Jimoh, Aldridge Luranah, Helen Walton, Gary Chopra, David Rose, Johnny Rose, Moira Rose."   

Alicia movies on, but David shakes his head. “Wait, wait, what’s that? Why did they list everybody? Why didn’t they say Hamlet?” 

Patrick presses a placating kiss to his lips. “Because they name everyone considered a lead vocalist, followed by the producers, and then the composer/lyricist. But I’m the composer and I was already listed as a vocalist so there’s no need to name me twice, and our lyricist is dead.” 

Which, fair, but - “Why was I named? I understand Gary and my parents, but I’m sure as fuck not a lead vocalist on the album, which everyone should be grateful for.” 

“Yeah,” Patrick starts, rubbing at the back of his neck again. “Um, I asked your parents if they wouldn’t mind listing you as a producer.” 

“You did what?” 

“David, you just - you worked so hard. This album would not exist without you,” he pleads. “You might not have put your own personal money into it, but you created this. You produced this.” He reaches forward and cups David’s face in his hands. “Your parents didn’t mind in the slightest.” 

David licks his lips and stares at the man in front of him; the man who somehow always sees the best of him even when David feels like he’s only showing the worst. 

“Do you mean to tell me that I just got nominated for a Grammy Award?” 

“David, you just got nominated for a Grammy Award.”

“Holy fuck!” 

Patrick barks out a laugh and pulls him in for a kiss, just as both of their phones start blowing up. The Hamlet group text is going wild, but Stevie is the first one who FaceTimes. 

“David!” she yells as soon as the call connects. “How are you a Grammy nominee?!” 

“It’s his fault!”

Patrick’s phone buzzes and he looks at it and blanches. 

“Who is it?” 

“Looks like I’m also on Ronnie’s shit list,” he says, as Stevie laughs. 

“Please, you never got off that list.” 

Then Patrick shows David the text from his agent. 

[Ronnie]
A heads up would have been nice, Brewer.

“Apologize and mean it,” David suggests. 

“I always do!” Patrick says, completely affronted. 

“Speaking of Ronnie’s shit list," David starts, "we gotta go. Or at least I do. If I’m late again, Ronnie will schedule nothing but 10am meetings for me for a month.” 

“Celebratory post-show drinks tonight!” Stevie cheers.

“We’ll be there.” 

He disconnects the call and blurts out, “Oh fuck,” when he sees the time. “Okay, thank you for breakfast and, Jesus, all of that,” he says, gesturing to the TV. He doesn’t even know who else got nominated. “I have to go get ready.” He stands and grabs their plates because the least he can do is put them in the dishwasher, but then Patrick’s hand takes hold of his wrist as he passes, that serious look from before back on his face. 

“What if you didn’t?”

“Didn’t what? Get ready?” 

“Leave.”  

“Patrick, I really have to make that meeting - ”

“David, I’m asking if you want to move in with me.” 

“... What?” He did not have enough caffeine for this. He lowers the plates to the coffee table and turns the arm that Patrick is gripping so he can take his hand. “You… want me to move in? Here?” 

Patrick nods, anxiety tugging at his mouth, doe eyes flooded with hope. “It’s just - we spend so much time here anyway, and I hate seeing you leave. It doesn’t feel like home anymore when you’re gone, and I know you value your own space, but luckily this place is big enough that if we have a fight, you can hide away somewhere else! My studio’s in the basement, but I’ll convert one of the guest rooms into an office for you where you can write and work. And I don’t - I don’t need an answer now, but I just. I needed you to know that I want you here. Always.” 

Patrick finally inhales. David finally exhales. 

Always. 

He could see it. He could see living here. Hell, he has been living here. Practically. 

His loft is great, but he has no real emotional attachment to it. Some of the worst times of his life were lived in that space. Where here is - here is happiness, and peace, and laughter, and love. 

Always love. 

“Okay,” he whispers.  

Patrick tightens his grip, anxiety leaving, hope blooming. “Okay?” 

“Okay.” David nods. Then he laughs. “Yes, I’ll move in with you.” 

🎭 Now 🎭

The lights come up at intermission, and David’s a wreck.

Marcy’s tissue pack is half-gone, his nose is congested, and his eyes are almost as swollen as that time he ate a pitted fruit and had to be rushed to the ER. 

“David, I love you and want to support you, but I have to pee very badly so I need you to move,” Rachel whispers, and David scrambles out of the way as she rushes by him and up the aisle with Marcy hot on her tail. Clint looks at him and shrugs, taking a much calmer course towards the men’s room. 

David’s not sure what to do. He could stay there in his seat and eavesdrop on what everyone around him is saying, but he doesn’t need a stranger’s validation. He knows what they have. 

What they had. 

God, the past tense winds him more than he expected it would. 

He never thought he took the show for granted, but as the number of performances dwindled, he wondered if he shouldn’t have come around more. After Mandy was trained and obviously excelling, David stopped watching the show as much as he used to. He still popped by constantly. He still haunted Patrick’s dressing like the ghost he’s convinced lives in the basement. He would run in if he was in the area and catch his favorite scenes, but he didn’t usually watch it all in full unless he was noting, and now he wishes he had. 

Tonight, though. Tonight has been transcendent. Every person on that stage knows it’s the last time, and they’re giving it their fucking all. The entrance applause alone for each character, from Hamlet down to the Ghost, must have added minutes to the Act One run time. 

Deciding he can’t stay here, he indicates to Mandy that he’s heading backstage and she nods, but he doesn’t go backstage; he heads outside because despite what Clint said about this being a happy time, the walls still feel like they’re one Indiana Jones boobytrap away from flattening him dead. 

He moves towards the stage door, fully intending to visit Patrick before he heads back for Act Two, but he stops short when he catches sight of the person leaning against the stone wall just ahead.   

“What are you doing out here?” 

Ronnie shrugs. It’s too casual. “Wanted some air.” 

“It’s March.”

“So the air is crisp.” 

He takes the spot on the wall next to her and leans his head back with a heavy sigh. “I looked for you inside, but didn’t see you.” 

“Butani and I are orchestra right. I saw you looking but didn’t feel like waving.” 

David chuckles at that. Ronnie’s not exactly a waver.

“How you doin’?” she asks. 

“Good.”

“The real answer, David.” 

He sighs again. “I’m a fucking mess.” 

She nods. “I get that. But you know, this doesn’t have to be goodbye.” 

“I know. I’m still thinking about it.” 

“And even if it is goodbye, which let the record show I do not agree with… you did something good here, David. Something great. And that’s a hell of a note to go out on.” 

“Yeah,” he whispers. “I know.” 

“You’ve already given these audiences a year. No one expected you or Patrick or this cast to be that generous. It was a gift you gave them. And every single person who saw it is grateful for it.” 

“Fuck, Ronnie,” he breathes as the first tear falls on his face. He left Marcy’s tissues in his seat. 

“Yeah, I know,” she grumbles, “I’m not comfortable either.”

And at least that gets him to laugh. 

“Now go see your man,” she instructs, and he nods, pressing the heels of his palms to his face in an attempt to compose himself as she starts to walk away. “Oh and David?” 

“Hm?” 

“I’ve known you a long time. And I have never been more proud of you. Not at the presentation, not in Toronto, not at opening, not at the Tonys. Here. Because look at this theatre.”

He inhales sharply and does as he’s told. 

“How many people have walked through these doors? How many lives have you impacted? David, you did the damn thing. And you hold your head up high, do you hear me?” 

His voice trips over the sob trying to leave his throat. “I hear you.” 

“Good.” 

He waits until she turns her back before resting his hands on his knees. Leave it to Ronnie to fucking emotionally kneecap him just before the finish line. But she’s right. She’s always fucking right. 

“Hey, Ronnie?” 

She stops and turns. “Yeah?” 

“Make that call,” he says, feeling confident in the words only after they’re out of his mouth. “Patrick’s tour ends in December.” 

She looks surprised for all of a moment, but surprising Ronnie is a rare thing, so it’s a moment that David savors. 

“Will do.” Then she points at her watch and gestures towards the stage door with a nod of her head, and yeah, he knows he’s running out of time. 

He heads backstage and isn’t even mad when he gets tangled in the streamers again. Then he bounds up the stairs and breathes for a moment, before slowly opening the dressing room door.

Patrick sits at his station, head buried in the towel in his hands. Cecilia gives David a warm smile and a look that says Get in there as she moves past him. 

“Hey,” he murmurs, and Patrick’s head shoots up as he looks at him in the mirror. 

“Hey.”

“You okay?” 

Patrick nods and drops the towel, resting his elbows on the station. David steps forward and wraps his arms around his neck from behind, resting his chin on his head. 

“I’m just really gonna miss this,” he admits.  

“Me, too, honey.” 

He presses a kiss into Patrick's hair and breathes, finally giving voice to the words he’s thought too many times over the last few weeks. Finally thinking of the call he just told Ronnie to make. Finally admitting that this doesn’t have to be goodbye; it could just be see you soon. 

“Then let’s do it again.” 

🎭 Then 🎭

“Are we ready to do this?” 

“Open the door.” 

It’s become a pre-red carpet tradition; one that started as sincere, then became silly, and now has become revered, joining the pantheon of “Good luck” / “It’s break a leg.” 

But this isn’t the Tonys, it’s a fucking Hollywood film premiere, and David has never felt more like he’s in a Julia Roberts movie than he does in this moment.

Patrick pops the door open just as Ivan comes around the front of the car, and David takes a second to breathe before stepping out and joining him. The screams are brain-rattling but Patrick immediately takes hold of his hand, giving him a squeeze - one for Good? And one in return for Yes.

They had missed the LA premiere of the film Patrick had cameoed in because his Hamlet schedule wouldn’t allow for that kind of time away. The studio had understood and assured that there would be a New York launch at Lincoln Center as well, making it quite clear that they would love for Patrick to attend. 

So here they are, with Ivan in front and Rachel and Ray on either side, heading towards their first red carpet since the Tonys. Having been given a bit more of a heads up about this one, David feels slightly more prepared. He also feels content to just sit back because this isn’t his movie, it’s Patrick’s. David is more than happy to play the supportive boyfriend, because he’s so fucking proud of this man. 

“Hey, I’m gonna go sign some stuff, okay?” 

“Yeah, of course.” 

“Rach, Ray, can you stay with him?” 

“Yep,” Rachel replies, as Ray says, “You got it!” and David watches as Patrick jogs across the street towards the waiting fans with Ivan at his side. 

David of three-years-ago would have been indignant at the thought that he was being babysat, but David of now knows that Patrick just doesn’t want him to be alone. He doesn’t need his publicist or his agent to meet and greet some fans. His bodyguard, sure, in case some of those fans get too handsy, but David is relieved to have the company. 

“Overwhelmed yet?” Rachel asks, and David starts to shake his head, but then he catches sight of Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz stepping out of their car. 

“Yes. Uh huh, yep.” He cannot quantify the love he’s had for Rachel Weisz since he was 15. The Mummy was a transformative film for him in many ways. Brendan Fraser better not be at this premiere, too. David would die.

Some of the fans yell his name and he waves back, but doesn’t approach. Patrick wraps up after a while, and exchanges some pleasant words with Daniel and Rachel, which nearly causes David’s knees to buckle, before he returns to him. 

“Ready?” 

“I think so, but I swear to God, if you don’t warn me before introducing me to Rachel Weisz, I will never sleep with you again.” 

Patrick’s eyes go wide. “Duly noted,” he says seriously.  

Rachel leads them to the red carpet set up beneath the Philharmonic, and David lets go of Patrick’s hand as he approaches the first outlet. 

“What are you doing?” Patrick asks. 

“It’s okay, go.” 

“No, I want you with me.” 

“Patrick…”

But he won’t hear of it. He takes David’s hand and pulls him over to the interviewer, getting an arm around his back with this proud little smile on his face, as if to say Look who I got to come with.

The correspondent from E! is enthusiastic and pleasant, even directing a question or two David’s way so he doesn’t feel left out. Patrick handles everything like the pro he is, and they move on the next one. 

“Patrick, I know you’ve got just a couple of months left in your award-winning Hamlet run. What’s next for you?” the correspondent from Variety asks. 

“Well, I go almost straight into rehearsals for the Moon Shot tour as soon as we close, so keeping busy.” 

“Good news for all of your fans, considering Moon Shot has been sitting at the top of Billboard’s Album Sales chart ever since it was released four weeks ago. Are you coming for Adele’s record of seven?” 

“Oh, no. I’m not coming for anybody,” Patrick says in typical Canadian fashion. “And if I fall short of Adele, well. What better way to go out, right?” 

David agrees. He’d prostrate himself in front of Adele if given the chance. Which is probably not something he should say out loud. 

“So you start rehearsal for the tour right after you close?” the interviewer asks. 

“Well,” Patrick glances up at David and grins, “we’re taking a bit of a rest first, but yeah. Shortly thereafter.” 

Patrick had told him to block out the two weeks after Hamlet's last performance but didn’t tell him why. David can’t wait to find out. 

The rest of the red carpet passes by painlessly. No one here seems to have a vendetta against him. They honestly just seem eager to learn more about the man that captured Patrick Brewer’s heart.

He stands with Rachel and Ray once more when the cast is gathered for a joint photo in front of the film’s banner. It’s an impressive ensemble of actors, and not for the first time, David wonders what the hell he’s doing here. 

They’re shuffled into the theater in Alice Tully Hall and take their seats. David barely has time to adjust his suit before Patrick is asking, “You want savory or sweet?” 

“What?” 

All of a sudden, Patrick produces snacks from somewhere (David has seen his pockets - they are not that large) of both the candy and chip variety. 

“Oh my God, I love you,” he blurts, and Patrick laughs.  

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you, it’s that every red carpet deserves snacks after.” 

Wise words to live by, frankly. 

The movie is fantastic, and because David didn’t read the script back in Toronto, the twist ending catches him completely by surprise. Though Patrick’s part is relatively small, he owns it, and David knows that the door has been opened. Ray is already fielding offers for scripts that directors and producers want Patrick to read. It’s almost enough to make David also consider a medium shift. 

And when the film ends and the cast is called back up onstage for a curtain call of a different variety, David can’t help the three words he yells. He doesn’t care if Rachel Weisz can hear him.

“That’s my boyfriend!”

🎭 Now 🎭

Hours have become minutes, and David feels every second of them as the play draws to a close. 

He’s been given instructions: after the final line, just before Hamlet, Laertes, Claudius, and Gertrude are carried off, he’s supposed to make his way up the aisle, around the back, and through the other pass door towards stage left, but he can’t think about going yet. 

Patrick is stunning in his final moments, and David is glued to his seat, watching the man he loves make this role utterly his own. As he has from day one. 

“Let four captains
Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage;
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have proved most royally: and, for his passage,
The soldiers' music and the rites of war
Speak loudly for him.
Take up the bodies: such a sight as this
Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers shoot.”

David forces himself to keep his eyes open, even though all he wants to do is close them and sob. He takes comfort in the fact that he’s not the only one, listening to the sniffles and shaky inhales happening all around him. Marcy’s tissues are gone. David is on his own. 

Two ensemble members each take hold of a body, and David watches as Patrick is hauled onto their shoulders. He needs to go but he can’t move, waiting until Patrick is carried out of sight before the sound cue of the gunshot jolts him into action. He squeezes Rachel’s hand once as he stands and hurries up the aisle as the stage is plunged into darkness. Judy is at the back with a flashlight to make sure he doesn’t break himself as he heads back down the side orchestra aisle towards stage left. 

Brenda greets him at the door and hugs him fiercely, even though she’s not a hugger. “This was the best,” she says as she hands him a god mic. 

“Thank you for everything,” he murmurs, as Jake, Derek, Twyla, Bob, and Amy Grace come through behind him. Perhaps they were just as glued to their seats as he was. 

They watch the end of the curtain call from the wings, and David’s breath hitches as Patrick takes his final bow. He's just as emotional as he was the night he returned to the stage after the picture came out, all love and gratitude, and David takes a moment to watch this man, this company, bask in the praise they so justly deserve.

The cast then look towards stage left, and David takes his cue, holding out his hand for Twyla and stepping out into the blinding lights. Applause echoes off of every surface, but David only has eyes for the man centerstage as he lets go of Twyla and makes his way towards him. The designers remain on stage left, but David keeps going, mindless of anyone else as he leans in and presses a kiss to Patrick’s lips. 

To say the applause grows is an understatement. 

He clears his throat and turns towards the audience, raising the mic to his mouth. “Hi, I’m David Rose.” 

“Yeah you are!” someone yells, and he laughs. 

“Um, I directed the play you saw today, aided by the incredible work of this creative team here. Twyla Sands designed these beautiful costumes, Jake Harbough created this incredible set, Bob Curry lit our best angles, Amy Grace Dawson made sure we sounded perfect, and Derek Remy choreographed all of the movement you saw here tonight. Down in the pit there is Gary Chopra, our conductor, musical director, and co-orchestrator for all of the music you heard, and of course, that music was composed by your very own Hamlet, Patrick Brewer.” 

The audience goes nuts again, and Patrick gets an arm around his waist so David drapes his over his shoulders. 

“And that’s just the people you can see. There’s a small town backstage making sure everything up here runs smoothly. Heather, Mutt, and Brenda in stage management, Mandy our AD, our band in the pit, Ron, our board op in the back, our team of dressers, our hair pros, Shannon, our company manager. It just - it takes a village, and I know we’ve kept you a while - ”

“We don’t mind!” someone else yells to more chuckles. 

“We appreciate that, but I just have to beg for a minute more of your time. I think I speak for everyone when I say that this has been one of the most incredible experiences of our lives,” he says as everyone nods. "Everyone on this stage has been working together for almost two years. For some of us,” his voice catches and Patrick squeezes his waist, “for some of us, it’s been a bit longer than that.” He feels Stevie press into his other side. “So. On a personal note, there aren’t adequate words to say how much I’ll miss this work and these people. This is my family. For two years, I watched them pour their heart, their talent, their drive, their dedication, their silliness, and their pain into these roles. And it’s been a privilege. An absolute privilege. I'm so grateful,” he says, looking around at everyone, “for the time we had. And I’m grateful to you,” he directs out to the audience, “for sharing it with us.” 

Then he lets go of Patrick to place his hand over his chest, uttering the only words that could possibly seem right in the moment. 

“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” 

🎭 Then 🎭

Which museum are you in? 

[Patrick]
What makes you think I’m in a museum?

Patrick. 

[Patrick]
Natural History. 

Well, at least he’s not far.

David pulls his high-tops on and laces them up, before grabbing his sunglasses and his jacket and heading out the door. It’s a quick walk down 81st towards Central Park West, a matter of minutes at most, and he takes in the large stone facade that dominates the block, before making a right in front of the park and bounding up the front steps, past the Teddy Roosevelt statue. 

Please tell me where you are this time so I don’t need to GPS stalk you.

[Patrick]
Blue whale. 

Patrick is lucky that David is a member here, too, because at some point in his life, he deemed it prudent to get invited to every event at all of the reputable institutions of culture in the city. 

That doesn’t mean that he knows where the fuck the blue whale is. 

In typical Patrick fashion, it’s barely past 10am so the museum is newly open. There’s no line on this Sunday morning, and David flashes his member card and promptly finds the nearest staff member. 

“Hi, can you tell me where I can find the blue whale?”

“Of course,” the woman says. “You’re looking for the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life. It’s to the left down this hall and then it’ll be on your right. Big whale. Can’t miss it.” 

“Thanks.” He takes a moment to stare at the dinosaur skeletons in the middle of the Roosevelt Rotunda before heading as instructed. 

Sure enough, ‘Big whale. Can’t miss it’ is descriptor enough. David stops dead in the doorway and gapes at the massive replica hanging from the ceiling. 

“Holy shit.” He slowly steps forward and takes it all in, this enormous creature that seems both beautiful and brutal. 

“Up here,” a voice calls, and he turns around and looks up, finding Patrick leaning on the railing above him, chin tucked into his hoodie, Blue Jays hat pulled low.

“O Romeo,” he says dryly. 

“Pretty sure that’s my line,” Patrick replies. And he’s not wrong. Romeo isn’t the one in the fucking balcony. 

David sighs and takes the stairs leading to the second floor, nodding at Ivan in the corner, before walking over to Patrick and leaning his arms on the railing right beside him. 

Patrick bends down and presses a kiss to his shoulder. “How’d you know?” 

It’s a valid question. David woke up and Patrick wasn’t in bed, but he could have gone to any number of places. For a run, to get breakfast, to the basement studio. But David knew, as soon as his hand met cold sheets, that Patrick had gone to a very specific place. 

“Our show closes today,” he says simply. “Of course you need to think.” 

Patrick huffs out a breath and gently nudges his shoulder. “I love that you know me so well.” 

David smiles. “I love that you know me, too.” 

They settle into silence for a minute, each staring up at the massive whale dominating the room. 

“Did you know the blue whale is the largest animal on earth?” Patrick asks. 

“I did, actually. Got hit on at a fundraiser by a marine biologist. Whales were all he was capable of talking about.” 

Patrick chuckles but it doesn’t last long. David can feel the line of tension settle in against his arm. 

“Hey,” he nudges back, “talk to me.” 

But Patrick just shakes his head. “I honestly don’t know what to say because I don’t know what to feel. I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m glad to end something well. I never want it to stop.” 

David nods because he feels all of that, too. It’s complicated and confusing and awful. One minute he’s laughing and the next, he’s sobbing. His body just can’t make up its mind. 

“One thing I do know, though,” Patrick continues, turning to face him and taking hold of his hand, “I have loved every minute of this with you.” 

David closes his eyes, if only to protect himself from the sincerity coming at him from Patrick’s. 

“I’ve loved every minute, too,” he whispers, unable to speak any louder. 

But he doesn’t have to. They’ve said all that’s needed. 

David steps forward and lets go of Patrick’s hand so he can pull him into his chest and sway with him back and forth. The hug says I’ve got you and We’ll get through this and This isn’t the end.  

Because it might not be, if Ronnie has her way. 

“Have you packed?” Patrick asks, and David hums. 

“For the move or for tomorrow?” 

“Both.” 

He snorts. “You know I’ve packed for the move. It’s why we needed to buy an extra dresser.” 

“True. And tomorrow?” 

David leans back simply so he can glare. “Okay, I know how to pack for South Carolina, but it would be helpful if you told me where the second leg of our journey is.” 

“I told you to pack for warm weather.” 

“And I have done… some of that.” 

Patrick laughs and pulls him back in again, pressing a kiss to his neck. “You ready for this?” 

David shrugs. “I don’t know.” And it’s not hyperbole, he really doesn’t. He doesn’t know how his body is going to react when he steps through the doors of that theatre today. 

“Well, at least we’re doing it together.” 

David nods and buries his face in Patrick’s shoulder. “At least we’re together.”

“Wanna head back?"

"Only if you're ready."

Patrick breathes deeply, and David feels him nod. "I'm ready." Then - "C'mon. I’ll make french toast.” 

David’s stomach chooses that moment to rumble, and Patrick’s laugh is warm against his skin. “Okay, but after we get ready, I have to go pick up something from my apartment, so I’ll meet you at the theatre.” 

Thankfully, Patrick doesn’t question it. “And then we’ll close a show?” 

David nods. He grieves.  

“And then we’ll close a show.” 

🎭 Soon 🎭

There’s so much that’s familiar about this trek to Madison Square Garden that David aches with it. A perfect bookend to a near-perfect story whose chapters are only growing longer. 

They’re in the same box that they were in for Patrick’s Full Count tour, but this time, David’s surrounded by not just his cast, his designers, and his sister, but his parents, Patrick’s parents, Rachel, Ronnie, and Ray, and everyone who helped them get to where they are. To become all they could be. The only people missing are Ted, Lena, and Ivan and that’s because they’re backstage. Where they're needed. 

It’s the first concert of the Moon Shot tour, and what a fitting place to open it. Here. 

Home. 

David tugs at the collar of his flame-covered sweater, and Stevie hands him a vodka soda as the stage is reset after the opener. 

“Nervous?” 

“Yes, and I don’t know why? It’s not like I’m the one performing.” 

“No, but someone you love is and you’ve always been a bleeding heart.” 

“Oh that’s not true.” 

But before they can argue further, the lights are dimming, the follow spots are firing up, and Patrick is bounding out onstage to a roar of applause, grabbing a mic and hollering, “New York, how you doin’ tonight?” 

It’s the first time David has heard the album live in all its glory. Sure, he was at the recording and the launch party, and Patrick played him multiple songs on the piano just him, but it’s the first time David’s hearing it as it was meant to be played, and he would be lying if he said he wasn’t tearing up from the first downbeat.

Patrick is absolutely in his element, though David will admit that it’s strange to see him onstage being completely himself after watching him embody someone else for so long. But the months away from performing didn’t take away from his ability to wrap almost 21,000 people around his finger. 

The songs go over so beautifully but too quickly, and David is already looking forward to the next concert so he can savor it more. Live in it longer. Right now, it’s sensory overload, and before David’s even remotely ready, Patrick is playing the final note on his last original song of the night. 

“Thank you, all!” he shouts, getting screams in return. “New York is one of my hometowns, so I’ve got a lot of friends and family here tonight...”

Naturally, their box erupts in cheers. 

“Gee, I wonder where they could be?” Patrick asks from the stage as everyone laughs. “So, most of you know I usually end with a cover…” 

The audience makes it quite clear that they’re aware. 

Patrick chuckles and strums lazily on his guitar. “Well, this song has meant a lot to me. To us, actually. Before there really ever was an us.”

David sucks in a breath and automatically reaches for Stevie’s hand, because there’s only one ‘us’ he can be talking about. 

But what song is he referring to? Patrick sang The Joke for him, but that was technically after they became an ‘us’ if they’re going by pre-Glastonbury rules. Dancing to Heavenly Day and Patrick singing One and Only happened afterwards too. 

“Fuck, which song?” he hisses, but Stevie just looks at him like he’s an idiot. 

“Why the hell do you think I know?” 

But David doesn’t know either. 

In fact, there’s a lot that David doesn’t know. 

He doesn’t know that Patrick asked Ronnie to clear his schedule for the Credit One Stadium stop in South Carolina next month. He doesn’t know that Patrick booked him a ticket into Charleston and reserved the Presidential Suite at Charleston Place again. He doesn’t know that Patrick asked his parents if he could have the house the week after that concert, so he can take David down to the dock where he first opened up to him and ask him a question even more important than “Do you ever wonder what’s true?” He doesn’t know that there are four gold rings in a box hidden in Patrick’s guitar case, waiting for an answer that David has yet to give.

He doesn’t know any of that. Not yet. 

So all David can do is watch as the man he loves more than anything steps up to the mic and shows the world just how stuck on his heart he is.

“I would like to dedicate this song to a very special someone in my life…" 

Because, thinking back on it, there’s really only one song it could be.

"... David Rose."


 

CURTAIN