In the few hours that he had spent with Patrick before Sebastien had returned to the room, David had almost forgotten that Patrick was not for him. Patrick was just for now; he wasn’t someone that would take him seriously. David didn’t get to have cute, funny guys, that were super sexy and nice. Share houses and house parties and house mates that banged on the walls; that wasn't the world he lived in, and could never be.
He was with Sebastien and it was a sensible decision. It made sense. They made sense together. They moved in the same circles, they came from the same sort of families, it was easier this way. Sebastien needed him for his support and to inspire him, and Sebastien could deal with him being too much.
But oh my god, he was so embarrassed.
Patrick had made the whole afternoon more fun that he could remember having in….. Nope, he couldn’t remember the last time he had that much fun. Maybe with Alexis when he was still in high school? There were nights when their parents were away and he didn’t want her to be afraid, so they would do makeovers in his bedroom, like the middle school sleepovers they didn't get invited to, and sing into a hairbrush pretending to be Madonna, or Mariah. That was probably the last time he could remember laughing as much as he had that afternoon.
Which… it was a bit weird that he wasn’t even thinking about the sex, right? The sex was delicious, a shared experience that had left him wanting more, but it wasn’t even the first thing on his list that he liked about Patrick. How was that even possible? He barely knew the man. Anyway, he thought, shaking out his distracted brain, so he could be the David Sebastien expected him to be. Time to turn himself back on.
“Sebastien, what are you even doing back here? I thought you were meant to be shooting all day,” he said with a disaffected air, like he hadn’t just been caught out with a lover.
“Clearly….” He said with barely a raise of an eyebrow, walking over to the couch to make himself up a plate out of cold leftovers. I mean Patrick wasn’t wrong, he had ordered a lot of food, even by his standards.
“So, why are you back so early?”
“Hmmm, what?" Sebastien seemed to barely even register he was still there, let alone care that he had been entertaining a guest all afternoon. "There is a party tonight. Get yourself red carpet ready. It’s the pre-parade event. All the A-list crowd will be there to open the Mardi Gras festival. Although you can hardly call what passes for celebrities in this country A-listers, but I need to develop a better artistic vision with the artist, to understand how she would be best presented to the world,” Sebastien finally looked up at him and gave him a measured once over, cocking an eyebrow like he was considering something. "I'm glad I came home early, and that you will have… time… To get yourself ready."
What was Sebastien even saying? He looked sun kissed and relaxed, didn't he? He stood slowly, not wanting to indicate to Sebastien that what he said had touched a nerve.
"Okay. I'll just shower then. Is there a theme? A guide for what I should be wearing?"
"Wear a suit. I need you to look impressive," Sebastien drawled, waving his arm around but barely looking up from his meal.
Okay, this was what he was here for. To be seen on the arm of one of the world's most in demand photographers. To make Sebastien feel good and support him. He was his muse after all. If Sebastien needed him, he could easily put the thoughts of that cocky lifesaver behind him.
Patrick was barely in the door of the share house before he was accosted by Hamish.
"Patsy! I need you!" Hamish whined, looking more panicked than Patrick had ever seen him.
"Whoa. I'm barely in the door," Patrick said, putting his hands up in mock surrender.
"It’s just …. I've been invited to perform. WE have been invited…. you know the three of us, have been. Tonight. At the Intercontinental Hotel. It's a very fancy pre-Mardi-Gras party. The original drags got food poisoning or something... Will you be our roadie?" Hamish was wringing his hands and looking at him pleadingly.
"Oh, Hame, it's been a tough day. Not sure I'm up for it." Patrick rubbed his face, he needed space to sort out his head and his feelings.
"But Patrick! I need you!" Hamish was insistent.
"I just…. " Patrick dropped his hands and sighed.
Hamish seemed to finally click that his friend was not exactly himself, because he stopped pushing and really looked at Patrick, circling his hand around in front of Patrick. "Okay, pause on my thing. What's happening over here? This is not your usual face after hooking up the night before."
"That was NOT a hook up last night," Patrick said firmly.
"I distinctly remember banging on your wall this morning. It was early but… I remember now. Were you arguing with your hook up this morning? And he stayed? You usually convince them to leave…" Hamish was looking decidedly confused.
"Not a hook up," Patrick grimaced.
"What was it then?" Hamish questioned.
Patrick knew that Hamish could be counted on to cut through anything. His no-bullshit approach to life was something that Patrick needed sometimes, so he decided to tell him the abridged version everything. "There was a guy at the Colombian last night, that I had met earlier at the pool, and his boyfriend was there, hooking up with a couple of much younger men…"
"As in, more than one?" Hamish questioned.
"Yep. Right in front of him," Patrick shook his head. "Turns out the guy didn't know he was in an open relationship."
“Ouch. Sucks to be him.” Hamish was wide eyed but smirking, he loved a good bit of drama.
"Anyway, he got smashed, and was about to be thrown out of the club, so I brought him back here to sober him up. He doesn’t know anyone else."
"Then why were you arguing?" Hamish looked confused.
"Honestly? He's a bit of a pretentious asshole. Once he sobered up, I think he was embarrassed I had to look after him." Patrick shook his head.
"So, you didn't hookup?" Hamish looked very confused.
"Well…. " Patrick rolled his eyes and couldn't stop the smile that crossed his face when he thought about the afternoon of glorious sex.
"You didn't sleep with him while he was drunk, Patsy?!" Hamish looked appalled.
"Hamish! I would never!" Patrick said, eyes wide.
"Okay, sorry, just had to check…." And with a flick of the wrist, Hamish gestured for him to continue.
"He came back to the pool this morning and he was….” Patrick realized David hadn’t apologized or even indicated he had been sorry for not appreciating everything Patrick did for him. Wow, he really couldn’t be upset about his behaviour. It’s not like he didn’t know what he was getting into. What was he thinking? “Hmmmm… He is just so fucking gorgeous…."
"And…?" Hamish questioned.
"He's staying at the hotel above the club. I suggested he might like to even the score with his boyfriend…. So, I went back there and… well, I just came from there," Patrick said with a sheepish look on his face. “And, I don’t know. It’s not like he wasn’t everything as advertised on the box. But after we…” he paused; he really didn’t want to say connected again.
“Yes,” Patrick dropped his head in embarrassment. As cocky as he could be in the moment, he wasn’t really one to kiss and tell. “He ordered room service and it was really fun. It’s like he dropped his guard and we got along really well. It was the best date that wasn’t a date that I’d ever been on.”
“But he has a boyfriend.” Hamish stated “Not your usual M.O. Patsy.”
“Yes. The boyfriend turned up and David basically ignored me. And Sebastien was such a dick, not just to me, which wouldn’t bother me, but to him!”
“Sebastien is a dickish name,” Hamish said contemplatively, tapping his chin with his forefinger.
“I know,” Patrick said raising his eyebrows.
“What are you going to do about it?” Hamish gave him one last push.
“Nothing. I don’t know. I want to see him again. He deserves better than that dick.” Patrick’s voice was laced in frustration.
“Unfortunately, that’s something people have to work out for themselves,” Hamish said simply.
“I guess you are right,” Patrick sighed in resignation.
“Sounds like you need a distraction….” Hamish’s mouth began to twitch at the corner and he raised his eyebrow.
"Okay, all right, back to you. What’s your thing?”
"Patrick. The performance tonight…. There's a rumour she'll be there!"
Patrick had to stop for a second and tried to circle back to what Hamish was talking about before he’d started explaining about David. He had never seen Hamish look so excited. He was pretty much unflappable, and well, he looked…. Flapped.
"Who?" Patrick asked as he shook his head.
"Her royal highness the princess of pop. The Impossible Princess…… Miss Minogue!"
"Kylie Minogue is going to be at this party?" Patrick was a little surprised himself. Hamish had spent so much time talking about her, he was excited for his friend.
"And I'm going to perform for her! Argh! We need you there to keep us from teetering over the edge. I will literally pass out into the crowd. Your little straight-laced vibe will keep us all grounded."
“I don’t know…” Patrick wanted to wallow, but to what end?
Patrick could never run away from being helpful, and he could tell his friend could sense that his guard was down, “Pleeeaaaase Patsy?” he said, fluttering his eyelashes and running his hand up his chest flirtatiously.
Patrick laughed at his friend’s antics. "Okay, okay, I'll come. I'll need a nap. What time are we leaving?"
"Nine? You've got a few hours."
Patrick headed off to shower before he got into his bed, but couldn't stop his thoughts from running away from him. What the fuck even was that with David?
Sure, he knew he had a boyfriend, and that his boyfriend was a giant douche canoe, but the way he shut down when Sebastien arrived? It was as though all the time he had spent chipping away the pretentious exterior had been a complete waste. Patrick didn’t care at all that Sebastien had referred to him as ‘the help’. What he cared about was the way he used that fact to belittle David, and David just sat there and took it like he deserved it. The same way David had thought he was in an exclusive relationship until the night before. It had clearly upset him seeing Sebastien with those dancers, but he had brushed it aside this morning like it didn’t matter what he wanted; like he didn’t get a say in his own relationship.
Patrick remembered feeling that way. He remembered his on and off again relationship with Rachel, and while it was a good relationship, they were respectful and generous with each other, he often felt like he didn’t have a say. It didn’t come from Rachel, just society as a whole telling him what was 'normally' expected of people; that he always felt he had a certain path.
He only proposed because he thought that was what everyone expected of him, especially Rachel. However, he guessed if he hadn’t done that, the pressure would never have made him crack and break it off. He still hadn’t told anyone that he had finally figured out why he couldn’t get married.
An overnight work thing in Toronto, had led to a drunken solo night out at a bar, contemplating his impending marriage. Four beers in he was making out with a guy who’s name he still didn’t know, but had clearly grasped he was gay before Patrick realized it himself, and had hit on him quite brazenly. He had complimented the way his sweater ‘brought out his lips’ and offered to buy him a drink, and it had set him alight with a fire that he didn’t know his body could even feel.
Patrick knew that if it wasn’t for that night, he wouldn’t be here. He would have slunk back to Rachel, again, no matter how much he knew it wasn’t right, because he just didn’t know what was right. Thankfully the idea of being somewhere else, where nobody knew him, where he could make his own decisions with no expectations came to him, and he knew he could get a working holiday visa in Australia, so he went for it.
But David – with his life under the microscope – didn’t have an opportunity to step away from what was expected from him. And like most people in awful and abusive relationships, David probably thought he deserved it.
David had worn a skirt. If he was going to wear a suit in this heat, he was wearing a skirt. Thank goodness for Thom Browne. He wore his sketch print pleated suit skirt. He hadn’t brought the matching boots with him, but he preferred it with his black combat boots, white socks with black stripes across one; he looked good. He was happy with his suit, a bit femme and out there, but still classic. Enough to stand out while fitting in at a party celebrating the queer community.
They had walked the red carpet together, Sebastien in a black Valentino smoking suit, with an oversized bow tie and black and white loafers. He and Sebastien looked hot together; like the very important power couple that they were, and it took approximately 87 seconds for Sebastien to drop his hand once they arrived inside the party, with excuses of finding the team he was working with and ‘why didn’t David get them drinks?’
Which… there were servers everywhere with trays of drinks, but he guessed this way he could get himself a Negroni to start the night before he moved onto champagne. By the time he found Sebastien again he had finished his Negroni and had grabbed a glass of champagne, anyway. Unlike when they went to parties in New York., where David knew everyone, unless he didn’t and they knew him. Everybody wanted to talk to him, because everyone wanted a piece of him. Here, he may as well be a nobody, there was no-one that he knew here other than Sebastien.
"Sebastien," David said, handing him his old fashioned. He moved his now empty hand onto Sebastien's shoulder and leaned into him possessively, smiling at the small group gathered around him. "Hi."
"Day-vid. This is Adriana, she's the stylist on the shoot, this is Ryan, he's another one of Kylie's dancers, Travis you've already met and this…." Sebastien stopped, smiling warmly and dropping his head like he was flustered, "is Kylie."
David had nodded politely at everyone else but held out his hand to Kylie, which she took. They gave each other’s hands a little squeeze in lieu of a handshake. "So nice to meet you. I've heard many wonderful things about you." It wasn't like Sebastien had told him anything good, but he knew her well enough to be the good socialite his mother raised him to be.
"And how do you know Sebastien?" Kylie asked, looking happily between the two men.
David was a little taken aback, but guessed when Sebastien was working, he was being professional. He probably didn't mention he was here with his boyfriend.
"I'm Sebastien's bo…."
"He's my gallerist in New York, we work together. He likes to support me when I travel," Sebastien said, talking over the top of him.
David tried not to let his face drop but he knew how well his face telegraphed his emotions. Damn eyebrows. He saw Travis whisper to Ryan and they both giggled. David watched them, eyes flashing between the two men.
Kylie looked extremely uncomfortable and tried to break the tension that had quickly descended upon the group. "Oh, that's nice of you. What kind of gallery do you have?"
David cleared his throat and gave her a small smile of thanks. She had obviously been given full socialite training as well. "I have a contemporary gallery on the east side. I specialize in performance pieces, we recently had Janet Kempflugen in residence for a month, however at the moment I have a video artist, Valencia Isagawa. Their pieces celebrate their upbringing, which are a comment on the cross-cultural heritage hierarchies that affect our world view living in New York, and how they, in turn, control gender bias."
"Sounds amazing!" Kylie said genuinely. "I'm in New York next month, I'd love to come in. Do you have a card?"
"Of course," David said and he slid one out of from the inside of his breast pocket and handed it to the pop princess. He really could see why she was Australia's darling. She was absolutely charming.
"Thank you so much, David. I'll be in touch, I've got to…" and she signaled a circle to indicate she had to mingle.
"Yes, lovely to meet you Kylie," David said, waiting until she and Andrea had taken two steps away before spinning to Sebastien and raising his eyebrow. "I'm going to get another drink, Sebastien," David said icily and strode away. What the fuck was that?!
It's one thing for him to invite other people into their relationship, but to deny they were even in one? David knew he looked hot, there was not a hair out of place, what else did Sebastien even want from him? He stood behind a few people at the bar seething quietly, waiting to take his turn, when he heard Sebastien's name and realized it was the other dancer from the night before, Trent. He was giggling with another man at the bar and David was not above eavesdropping.
"Yes, Seb said that he is just so hung up on him, that he pays for everything. Like a sugar daddy, and he's not even old old, I mean he's pretty old, like maybe forty? But already having to resort to being a sugar daddy? Oh em gee. Trying to make himself seem edgy and femme by wearing that funky skirt…" Trent and the other man giggled again and so David cleared his throat, raised his eyebrow and waited for the men to turn around.
Their faces dropped in slow motion as they realized they had been heard.
"I'm thirty-one actually, two years younger than Sebastien, no matter what he told you. And this... is not funky," he said, making a circular motion, indicating his outfit. "This is luxury. Clearly something you'll never have any knowledge of."
With that, David turned and walked towards the nearest fire exit, grabbing two glasses off the tray of a waitperson on the way. He stumbled into the dimly lit alleyway, the fire exit doors barely slamming behind him before he had downed the first glass of champagne. He threw the flute against the opposite wall of the alleyway, watching it smash and yelled "FUCK!" then sank back against the wall of the hotel, without even thinking about his suit. He gained some satisfaction looking at the flute, thinking he was not the only thing smashed into a billion pieces.
"Why am I so stupid!?" He chastised himself, "What the actual fuck was I thinking?! Argh!" and he stomped his foot like a petulant child.
"David?" A voice came from the other end of the alleyway and a shape moved into the street light, so all he could see was an outline. He knew that voice though, and the stocky outline confirmed it.
Oh, holy mother of all that was holy…. It couldn't be? Really? David wished the ground would open up and swallow him whole. The mortification that he was feeling swelled to a whole other level.
"Seriously Patrick? How are you present for every single fucking embarrassing thing I put myself through?" David hung his head and closed his eyes, hoping if he screwed them up tightly enough it would all be in his imagination. Patrick couldn’t be here, could he? David looked up again. He was definitely here.
Patrick approached him slowly with the care one would take around a skittish animal, a half-smile on his face, gentle and kind, and David was done for.
"Just lucky, I guess…. What's happening here, David?" Patrick said, so calm and collected, just leaning up against the wall next to him. He was wearing a grey patterned shirt, with sleeves that weren't really short enough for the style, but they did fit snugly on his biceps, so there was that.
“God, this is embarrassing enough, I don’t know if I can even tell you without melting into a puddle,” David said softly.
“Okay. Sure. More embarrassing or less embarrassing than almost falling under a bus, or throwing up while I watched,” Patrick said with a cheeky smirk.
“Oh FUCK. You watched me vomit? Why the fuck would you watch me vomit?” He rolled his eyes and covered his face with his hands.
“It’s a share house. I didn’t want to have to clean it up,” Patrick said with a giant grin and David wondered how he could be so nonchalant about it?
David shook his head. “Not that it will come as any surprise to you, but… I’m so stupid!”
“What?” Patrick moved in front of him and the cheeky look dropped from his face, replaced with a look of pure incredulity. “Why would you say that?”
Patrick put a hand on each of David’s biceps to support him without being overly touchy and David couldn’t help but spill his story to this man. "I just met Kylie, and Sebastien introduced me to her as his 'gallerist’ and then…” he took a deep breath, “when I stormed off to the bar, I was in line behind Trent…”
“Was that one of the guys from last night?” Patrick raised one eyebrow questioningly.
“Yeah, he’s one of Kylie's dancers….” David nodded in confirmation
“They looked like dancers…” Patrick seemed happy to have his conclusion confirmed.
“Yup, so anyway! Back to me, literally pouring my heart out to you….” David said dramatically.
“Sorry David, continue…” Patrick said, gesturing with his hand.
“I overheard him telling another dancer that I was pathetic and Sebastien's sugar daddy....” David dropped his head again. Was his life always like this, he just hadn’t noticed before?
“Aren’t sugar daddies usually older?” Patrick said, looking genuinely curious.
“He thought that I was forty, Patrick, FORTY!” David's hands were flailing at this point, Patrick must have thought him a lunatic.
Patrick sighed and looked at David with a look so soft he didn't really know what to do with it. “David, why do you go out with him? The guy is clearly a dick, and you’ve what? Paid his way?”
“Well, yeah, I guess.” David shrugged his shoulders.
“Why?" Patrick looked incredulous.
“Why wouldn’t I?” David screeched back at him, throwing his hands in the air.
“He treats you like dirt and you let him.” Even Patrick was getting frustrated with him. Great.
“Patrick, it’s just the way it is,” David sighed. “I have money and so I help my friends out. Sebastien… Well, I know it’s not love, but it’s the best I am going to get, I just really didn’t think he was as callous as he is. I thought he actually respected me too, and we had a sensible, mutually beneficial arrangement.”
“And what exactly do you get out of it?” Patrick said, raising his eyebrows. “Because all I’ve seen him do is belittle and embarrass you. And what do you mean ‘the best you are going to get’? David, I have only been in your presence for two days, and even I can see that you are worth more than that dick is ever going to give you.”
A small amount of hope flashed from somewhere within David. “You think you mean that don’t you? Dear, sweet man," David took that hope and squashed it back in the box of dreams he only opened when he was alone. "Even you would pretty quickly work out that I'm too much once we spent more than 48 hours together.”
“If there is one thing that I know, is that if we keep expecting things to be a certain way, they will continue to be a certain way.” Patrick shook his head. "Somebody else helped me out of my comfort zone recently, maybe I could do the same for you?"
“I just… I just don’t know what to do…” David hung his head.
“Do you want to be with Sebastien?” Patrick asked. It was a pretty direct question.
“No…but…” David looked up at the same time he threw his hands up.
“No buts.” Patrick grinned cheekily. “I have an idea…. Are you okay with him getting publicly humiliated?” he said, biting down a smile.
“Am I? What a question?! As long as I get to watch!" David's mouth started to quirk up at the edges, but he bit the smile down. He was getting his hopes up. He’d been embarrassed enough on this trip and in this relationship.
Patrick held out his hand to David. “Come with me, I think we need to go and talk to Ivana.”
“Ivana Rimjob?” David questioned.
“Maybe later David, but we have some things to do first…”