In the morning David is gone.
Patrick knew it was going to be bad, but it still takes him by surprise. It hurts—actually aches to feel so close to having something incredible. And it’s entirely his own fault. David as good as told him this would happen, told him that this was just for now, that it was only ever going to be a brief, lovely, perfect thing. And he’d known, last night, that fucking David, being inside him, was going to cost him, but … he hadn’t cared. All he’d wanted was to give David what he wanted, and the trade-off had felt worth it—the chance to leave David with something permanent, to press himself into David’s skin like a tattoo that reads: Patrick was here.
He imagines that mark will fade for David, will be covered with others, but it lessens the ache to know that it is there.
He packs slowly, probably a vain wish that if he lingers long enough, David will come back through that door. He doesn’t really expect him to, but he wishes all the same. The procrastination is familiar, although the difference in leaving this time is that he knows exactly what he's driving away from. It would have been easier back then, but ... but oh, what he would have missed. And underneath the pain is an unshakable gratitude at all the little moments, all the rash decisions, all the choices that led him to this moment.
There’s a line from a book he once read running through his head like a song lyric.
It’s late, now. Standing in the living room with nothing left to delay him, he takes a last look. His eyes fall on the guest book resting on the kitchen counter. It’s open, with small spaces for comments and reviews. He sits down at the table with a pen, thinks for a while, and writes:
Thank you, Stevie, for letting me stay here. It changed everything.
PS—extra marshmallows and wine in the pantry.
It’s not enough.
A brief rummage in the draws of the little table in the hall produces a notebook, and Patrick writes for a while. When he’s done, he rips the page out and folds it, placing it on the open guest book above his comment.
With nothing left to do, he shoulders his bag and makes himself walk out.
‘Tell me again why you just left him without even giving him your number?”
David flops back onto his bed in the motel and immediately grimaces at the difference from the one he woke up on. He groans.
“Just as a rough estimate, how long are you going to torture me about this? Just, like, so I can plan my day.”
He imagines Alexis is rolling her eyes. He knows she isn’t going to be put off by any number of snide remarks, but it’s a tradition of a sort, he supposes.
“David, Patrick was a sweet little button, and don’t try to tell me you weren’t just as into him as he was into you, because I saw the way you looked at him.”
He sighs. Backed into a corner, he admits, “I like him.” A lump rises in his throat. “Liked him,” he corrects. Lies, really. Kind lies that he'll tell himself until it stops feeling like this, like he's just made a colossal mistake. But how can he have, when he didn't have any other choice?
He turns, surprised at the soft tone to her voice. She’s looking at him with what, if he didn’t know better, he’d call sisterly affection. Suddenly he’s too tired to push her away anymore.
“He was here for a week,” he says firmly, and it’s not lost on him that she’s not the only one he’s trying to convince. “What am I going to do? Ask him to move here? For someone he’s known a grand total of six days, just to see if he might want to … date me, or whatever.” It sounds ridiculous. Is ridiculous.
Alexis raises an eyebrow. They are a family well versed in the language of eyebrows, and he knows exactly what she’s telling him.
“It doesn’t matter," he insists. "It would have ended sooner or later anyway. Plus I’m the first guy he’s ever been with, so …”
“So?” She sure is getting a lot across with facial expressions and single-syllable questions.
“So there are a lot of guys out there. And he’s …” Perfect, supplies his treacherous mind. He needs to stop thinking about him like that. He needs to start rebuilding the defences Patrick found his way through before the whole structure keeping him upright crumbles. He needs to reconstruct the narrative before he thinks too hard about what he's lost. "He'll be fine. The most I could do was try to make things good for him. Uncomplicated.”
He can feel Alexis watching him for a moment before she says, doubtfully, “And you’re sure that’s what he wants? Uncomplicated?”
He has no idea how to answer that, but is spared the attempt by Stevie’s sudden arrival. She bursts in without knocking, trailing a flurry of snow. David sits up, alarmed.
“Ew! Stevie, what the fuck—”
But she’s brandishing something, waving it in his face so that he goes cross-eyed trying to focus on it. He grabs it from her. It’s a piece of folded notebook paper.
“You,” she bites out through clenched teeth, “are an idiot.”
Which is a fine fucking how-do-you-do.
He's about to berate her for kicking him while he's down, for leaving him alone at Christmas—look what happens when she leaves him alone!—but before he can, he catches sight of his name written on the paper in his hand. Curiosity trumps indignation, so he unfolds the paper and reads it.
I don’t know how to tell you this so that you’ll believe it, but you have changed my life. When I think of everything that came from you sitting down next to me at the bar, I'm not entirely sure I haven't dreamed it all, except for the fact that I couldn't have imagined anything like you. I know it hasn't even been a week, but I can't help feeling like it was the best week of my life. And I wouldn't take a single second of it back, except I wish I'd told you how much it has all meant to me. How much you meant, and will always mean, to me. You’ll have to forgive me the dramatics, but pathetic as it is, you are the most dramatic, wild, wonderful, best thing that has ever happened to me. I mean it. More.
And someone should tell you more often—and why not the person you met only six days ago?—that you are kind, and clever, and beautiful. You are a good person.
Under that, a phone number. And on the reverse, just one line:
“I went to the well, seeking the alchemist.”
“What does that mean?” Alexis, reading it over his shoulder, jabs a finger at it, but he’ll have to be mad at her later. He’s too busy pulling out his phone and typing in the quote. He thinks he’s heard it before, or read it before, in a book he thinks he actually liked …
The shitty hotel wifi does its job painfully slowly. But he recognises the book title, and clicks on a link to find the quote he’s after. Then he reads the rest of it.
“Stevie, can I borrow your car?”
As Patrick drives towards the town limits, trying to wrestle his pain into something more manageable, he feels a now-familiar tug in his gut. It’s the same one that told him not to let David leave the cottage that first night, that made him turn around at the town sign and head back the next day. Once again, it feels like he’s moving in the wrong direction. Only this time he can’t do anything about it.
It won’t go away, the feeling.
Once again, when the town sign hoves into view he slows to a stop and puts the car in park, as though once he crosses the border he'll never be able to find it again. He almost regrets leaving David his phone number, but he couldn't help it. He never can seem to help himself when it comes to David.
He can take it all as a lesson, he supposes, go back to Toronto, or Thunder Bay, and try to live along more truthful lines, try to find what he found here again.
It seems impossible. It seems stupid to try.
He has nothing in either of those places that he wants as much as the possibility that will always be here in Schitt’s Creek. He knows in the deepest part of his heart, in his very bones, that what he and David had—have—isn’t something that comes along every day. The idea that all the planets could align like that once more is laughable. But what, after all, can he really do?
You could stay.
Ironically, it’s the practical part of his brain speaking. He lets himself follow this train of thought, knowing it will go nowhere. Yes, he could stay. He could find work, maybe with the hyper-entrepreneurial Ray. He could find an apartment.
It's supposed to be something to scoff at, a ridiculous scenario to jolt him into leaving it all behind.
He gets out of the car, hoping the cold air will make it easier to focus. It’s starting to snow, just a few flakes, hardly anything, but it makes the world look softer, more beautiful. Maybe he's trying to stave off the moment he leaves this rose-coloured (yeah, yeah) wonderland, the moment he's alone with his heartache, trying to be grateful that he's finally had a chance to be heartbroken. Trying to stop looking for ways to come back, to stay, to pine after a man who doesn’t want him.
Except … except David never actually said he didn’t want him.
He goes over their last conversations. David asking about Patrick’s life. David burrowing into him on the porch. David calling him “sweetheart” (yeah, he heard that, thank you very much). And the vague memory of an echoed confession.
As someone who has only recently discovered what he wants—what he really, truly wants—he knows it’s taken him a while to get to this moment. It feels momentous. It feels like it should come with a musical score. And he might have it all wrong, and it might not work out, but ... he wants to risk it. He wants the risk more than he wants the regret. The chance, he thinks, is worth it. David is worth it.
He gets one step back to the car, mind already reeling with the beginnings of a plan, when another vehicle races up, skidding slightly on the icy road. Patrick doesn’t recognise it, but it screeches to a halt in a flurry of newly fallen snow about thirty feet away, and the driver gets out.
David. David gets out.
For the second or third time this week, Patrick thinks he must have thought him into existence.
“Patrick.” David is out of breath as he stamps up the road towards Patrick, who is rooted to the spot.
“David,” he whispers. Then, louder. “What are you doing here?”
David is waving something small and white, and it takes Patrick a second or two to recognise it. It’s the note he wrote and left in Stevie’s guest book. He swallows.
“Did you mean it?”
David’s eyes are blazing. He stops about two feet in front of Patrick, and his whole energy is so intense that Patrick’s not sure whether he’s about to be yelled at. It won’t change the answer.
David turns away in apparent frustration, pacing a few feet away before wheeling back around.
“The Alchemist, Patrick? Really? Couldn’t think of anything more fucking obscure?”
There’s a smile tugging at David’s mouth now, and Patrick feels himself start to mirror it, cautiously.
He knows. He knows, and he came after you.
“Well, you know,” he says, his voice sounding thick. He thinks he might be crying. “I couldn’t find anything from Ducktales.”
David laughs, wetly, and Patrick is never sure who moves first, but it doesn’t matter, because David is in his arms again, and their lips crash together in a messy, desperate, perfect kiss, and it feels so fucking right. The wind picks up and David holds him tighter, as the snow falls softly down around them, and tiny flakes skim across Patrick's cheeks like kisses. He slides his arms around David's waist, sinks into his warmth. And Patrick feels, for the first time in a long time, like he’s come home.
I had a dream, and I met with a king. I sold crystal and crossed the desert. And, because the tribes declared war, I went to the well, seeking the alchemist.
So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.
-- Paulo Coelho