Patrick dragged David to the back stage area where Hamish, Marco and Killian were getting ready. They were already completely ready and just primping in front of the mirrors. All three were dressed as different versions of Kylie, and they looked ah-ma-zing. Hamish was wearing a firm fitting gold sequined dress, the sequins dangling so when he moved, it was like being in the presence of a disco ball.
'Ivana darling. You know the rules, face on, name on!"
"Right, sorry. Ivana…."
"And who is this tall, dark handsome stranger?" Ivana said suggestively, raking her eyes over David. "Punching above your weight there, Patsy!"
"This is David. We need your help."
"Oh…. David!" Ivana said, again suggestively and with a little shoulder shimmy. "The pretentious asshole from the pool…." Ivana's eyes sparkled, more brightly than the sequins on her gown, she knew what she was doing.
David laughed out a shocked laugh, but he was well versed in the 'straight for the jugular' humour of drag queens. "I mean, you're not wrong!" he said, returning her shoulder shimmy.
"I see what you mean though, Patsy," giving him a salacious wink.
"What?" David asked looking back from Ivana to Patrick.
Patrick coughed and then said, "We don't have time for that right now. Ivana, do you mind…. Picking a target for us tonight?"
A broad smile spread across Ivana's face and she looked to David, then back to Patrick, cupping her friend’s cheek with her perfectly manicured hand and batting her ridiculously long false eyelashes. "Anything for you, Patsy Cline!"
"Okay, David, you ready for this?" Patrick asked. David looked nervously back at him. He looked confused and shy. Nothing like the arrogant man Patrick had met at Icebergs.
"Why are you doing this, Patrick? Aren't you sick of saving me? We’ve known each other two days, and this is the third time you’ve saved me from myself."
"More like saved you from Sebastien. All you’ve done is express valid human reactions to being treated poorly by the person you thought was your loyal boyfriend.”
"But why?" David asked softly.
"Yes or no, David? The girls are about to go on, you've got to get out there!"
"Yes… yep, okay," David kissed Patrick quickly (and unexpectedly) and said, "thank you, I don't deserve this," before running out the side door, and hurrying to find Sebastien in the crowd.
What David needed to do was get Sebastien to the front near the stage. It was an event room, not a theatre, so the lights wouldn’t change when the queens went on, but he needed him as close as possible to the stage. He found Sebastien, flanked by his pretty young things, who gave David stink eye the minute he arrived and started talking to him. Whatever… a pair of twinks didn’t scare him.
It was easy enough to get him to the front of the room. He claimed his time away from Sebastien had been used to meet and get to know the editor of British Vanity Fair, and Sebastien was so poorly read, and so vain that when David made up her name on the spot and called her Madelaine Waistcoat, he didn’t even bat an eyelid.
“Of course, David. Trent and Travis, you’ll have to excuse me for a moment,” Sebastien said, running his hand suggestively down Travis’ shoulder and squeezing his bicep before walking away.
Once they got to the front of the room, the crowd was pretty thick and David made quite the show of trying to spot the imaginary editor.
"Oh, that’s strange, they seem to have disappeared… but look! Here's Kylie!" David said with a flourish, trying to distract Sebastien and keep him at the front of the room.
"David! Sebastien! Are you having a good night?" Kylie asked as if they were old friends.
"M-hmm, I'm looking forward to the drag show," David said biting his lips into his mouth. He was a terrible liar, he needed to keep it together. He saw a waitperson with a tray of champagne so he took a glass for himself and Kylie, passing her one.
"Oh, me too!” Kylie said excitedly, accepting the glass of Champagne, “I love drag."
"Drag is such a terrifyingly important statement about the status of the queer movement," Sebastien said, not even looking at either of them, just looking around smugly, like other people were listening to him. Which they weren’t. Nobody really knew who he was here, aside from Kylie’s people, and that was just because he spent the last two days working with them.
David noticed Kylie rolling her eyes and stifled a giggle.
She motioned for David to lean down and she whispered in his ear, "How do you put up with him? I mean sure, he's an okay photographer, but…. What a wanker!"
David burst out laughing and Sebastien finally looked at them both. Luckily at that point the music faded out and the overhead speakers started up, a loud tongue in cheek announcement booming across the room.
"Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary people, everybody and everyone, and that includes all the Queers…. Please welcome to the stage, Kylie's Kissing Cousins!"
Kylie shouted, "Oh My God!" and covered her mouth while the rest of the room dissolved into laughter and applause as the curtains pulled back, and out strode Patrick's friends, looking as much like Kylie Minogue as possible, considering they were all more than 6 feet tall in their very high heeled platform shoes.
Ivana had the microphone first and stormed to center stage, waving with her other hand. "Darlings! Daaarrrlings! So good to see you all…." She was blowing kisses to the audience dramatically, until she spotted David and winked. "I'm Ivana," she said demurely, until she was interrupted by Peggy Harder.
"Ivana who?" Peggy called out, looking confused.
"Ivana Rimjob!" Ivana said comically, slowing down her first name so that everybody could enjoy the joke.
"Oh sweetie, maybe later? I don't think this is THAT kind of show…." Peggy called back theatrically.
The crowd howled with laughter and Ivana gave an exaggerated open-mouthed wink to the crowd. They were lapping it up.
"And joining me is the Queen of back door pleasure, Peggy Harder!" Ivana was commanding the crowd, she had everyone’s attention
It was Peggy's turn to curtsy and throw kisses to the crowd. "Hello, Darlings! My reputation proceeds me I see…. Everybody thinks I’m promiscuous, BUT I’m NOT," she said, pretending to be insulted, holding her hand up to her chest. “You can ask all the men I’ve slept with, there are hundreds, they’ll stand up for me….”
More laughter and cat calls came from the audience, David was very impressed with Patrick’s friend; she was the ultimate show person. He wondered if they did a version of Ru Paul’s Drag Race in Australia, - she should get onto that.
"And last but not least…. everybody’s favourite service top, Marcy Mounty!"
“At your service,” Marcy said saluting to the crowd, and then started pointing out to the crowd, “And yours, and yours and your service, too!” and she completed a spin with her arms in the air by way of introduction.
"So, it's no secret why we are here tonight….” Ivana took back control of the show with her two friends flanking either side of her, “To celebrate Australia's reigning Queen, we all bow down to the Impossible Princess, Her Royal Highness, Miss Kylie Minogue!" The audience went wild. David was pretty chuffed to be standing right next to her as the flashes all went off, but was pretty sure he was the nobody getting edited out of those snaps before they got to press. Or social media, probably just socials. Kylie blew the drag queens a kiss, and after Patrick had told David about how much Hamish adored her, he was super impressed with how Ivana was keeping it together, actually.
"So, Darling…. We heard you were being photographed by an illustrious world-renowned photographer? All the way from New York….. Sebastien Raine?" Peggy asked Kylie directly, and she smiled and nodded in confirmation, gesturing toward Sebastien.
Sebastien's head snapped up and he looked around anxiously at being singled out by the Queens. Kylie nodded along; she was nothing if not comfortable in front of a crowd. Sebastien however looked nervous. He did not like to be made a fool of.
"Hmmmm, renowned, or infamous, what do you think Marcy?" Peggy said, screwing up her face. “Maybe he could be my next conquest? I’ve heard he’ll sleep with anything and I’m running out of options…”
"I don't know Peggy, from what I heard…" she touched the side of her nose and winked like she was telling the crowd a secret… "he only has all those long lenses to cover up the lack of anything else being long…. If you know what I mean?" Marcy widened her eyes and pursed her lips over her microphone.
Sebastien spat out his drink, and Kylie and David were doubled over laughing instantly. Oh, this was too good!
"Darling, we ALWAYS know what you mean…." said Ivana, taking the lead again. “Sebastien? Sweetie?” Taking a moment to ensure that he was looking right at her, she continued, “I think you might need to make alternative arrangements for your accommodations my darling, your bags will be packed and waiting in the hotel lobby in the morning…. David is done with you. Bye, bye!” She blew him a kiss and a cutesy little wave.
That was David’s cue, and so he turned and tipped his glass of champagne over Sebastien’s head. Everybody was already looking his way after the Queens had drawn their attention to him, and there was a collective gasp. Kylie was laughing her head off.
“Okay, so here we go, Kylie. We apologise for not starting off with something of yours, but we just have a little song that was especially requested for Mr. Raine…. Hate to rain on your parade, Sweetie….”
The very well-known piano refrain started and it was one that any self-respecting member of the LGBTQI+ community would know….
At first, I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without you by myself my side….
Sebastien was spluttering and complaining about being drenched, he looked completely outraged. Travis and Trent had appeared from nowhere and were blotting him with napkins, trying to calm him down.
David had a few choice words of derision prepared but decided to leave him to his thing. He didn't owe him anything. Sebastien had taken and taken from him, and he would not let him take anything more. He did his best to remain steady on his feet as he blew a kiss to the Queen's and nodded to Kylie, who gave him a little wink, before walking with his back as ramrod straight as possible, his head held high as the chorus rang out across the room, "I will survive…. I will survive!"
David pushed through the back stage doors to find Patrick waiting for him and fell into his arms. Patrick held onto him so tightly, which was lucky, because it was the only thing keeping him upright.
“David, you were amazing! I can’t believe you had him there right in front of Kylie for maximum embarrassment. You did so well!” Patrick was so enthusiastic.
Why did Patrick care so much? David needed to work it out, but he couldn’t get past the intense feelings of anxiety weaving through his body, now that the adrenaline of the moment had worn off. Sebastien was an asshole. Now that he'd embarrassed him like that? There was no telling what he'd do. His head started spinning, trying to think clearly about what could realistically come from this... There was no way Sebastien was letting him get away with this.
Sobs started to wrack his body, still leaning up against Patrick, he pulled away. "Fuck, what have I done?" David sobbed, frantically searching through his pockets, and then looking around for something to wipe his eyes so he didn’t have to do it on his Thom Browne suit.
"That was awesome David! What do you mean?" Patrick grabbed a tissue from Ivana's make-up tray. "Now he won't take advantage of your kindness anymore,” Patrick was wide eyed, clearly not understanding the change in this man. He clearly didn't understand anxiety.
"Was it kindness or was it self-preservation? Sebastien is going to ruin my gallery's reputation." David shook his head solemnly, the realization hit him of where Sebastien would definitely attack, the one place David loved more than anything.
“What are you talking about?” Patrick said, confused.
“I know how he works... Patrick, you have been amazing over the past few days, and I have been nothing but a world class dick.” David shook his head and turned away to not face him while he collected his thoughts. “You should hate me.”
“David, while I really don’t want to confirm, nor deny your actions have been… a little… uncivilized… towards me at times, I have had fun with you. I enjoy your company,” Patrick smiled softly and reached out to touch his arm. “And I mean it when I tell you that you have nothing to worry about. I don’t think I could hate you if I tried.”
David’s eyes flick up to the beautiful man in front of him, who looked at him like he was something special, and not the damaged wreck he knew himself to be.
“Thank you.” David forced a smile. “And while I appreciate that. I need you to know that I am damaged goods, and I am going to need some time with this.”
“All right.” Patrick said forcing a smile.
“I have to go. I need to pack up all of Sebastien’s things and get the staff to change the entry card before he gets back there. And then I need to think about how to contain the damage from this."
David leaned in and kissed Patrick chastely, "Thank you Patrick, you've been amazing," breathing him in, before turning and walking out the door.
Patrick barely heard David's last words, and the exit door had barely clicked behind him, before Ivana, Peggy and Marcy came off stage.
He spun around and stuck the brightest smile he could muster on his face before saying, "You guys were all AH-MA-ZING! And you performed for Kylie! And… thank you for helping with Sebastien and David."
"No problem, Sweetie!" Peggy said at the same time as Marcy said…
"Our pleasure, Gorgeous!"
"So? Where is he?" Ivana said, will huffing and puffing from the all-singing and all-dancing nature of their show.
Patrick shrugged his shoulders and moved away slightly. He dropped his head before looking up at Ivana and saying, "He just left."
"He just left?" Ivana sounded shocked.
"Yes," Patrick said sadly.
"After everything we just did to get you laid?” Ivana was very confused, throwing up her hands.
Patrick chuckled at that. "Yes."
"Is he coming over later, is it like a booty call situation?" Ivana said wiggling her shoulders. "I mean, because if I were you, I’d be wanting him to keep that outfit on! That boy looked delectable in that skirt."
"Urgh! I don't know, Hame!" Patrick said, rubbing his hands over his face.
"Ivana," Ivana corrected.
"Sorry, Ivana,” Patrick apologized.
"What happened? He strutted out of there like the winner of America's Next Top model," Marcy piped up.
"He said something about Sebastien ruining the reputation of his gallery, he was really upset, like sobbing,” Patrick worried his hands and rubbed his thumb along the callouses on his palms from baseball. “He said he needed some time to work out what to do, and also he needed to get the keys changed for his hotel room before Sebastien tried to get in."
"Oh yeah, Sebastien does seem like the type that could go full bunny boiler.” Marcy said, and then smirked cheekily, “He WAS NOT happy with us!”
All three queens looked at each other and burst out laughing, cackling like witches around a cauldron.
"I don't even have his phone number!" Patrick suddenly realized, starting to pace around, and the queens stopped laughing abruptly.
"Oh, Darling! What are we going to do with you? Love sick for a man you just met, who seems more complicated than I found Year 12 maths," Ivana rubbed his shoulder.
Patrick looked at his friends, shaking his head. “Can we just get out of here?”
“You can go, Patsy. We are going to head out to the party. Try and chat with Kylie! You don’t want to come?”
“No, I think I’m going home, I do still have work tomorrow. You going to be okay with all your things? Can I take anything back to the house for you?”
“Now that you mention it….”
Patrick trudged into the house with all his friends’ bags, because they were planning on drinking as much free champagne as they could get their hands on, and didn’t want to accidentally forget anything. He didn’t blame them, they had so much make-up they could take Sephora out of business. He dumped them by the front door and followed the chatter to the kitchen to find Tim and Andy drinking tea.
“Oh, you’re back! Where’s Hamish? Was she there?” the two of them babbled excitedly.
Patrick couldn’t help but smile. “Hamish, Killian and Marco stayed to drink free champagne and to try to chat with her. She was there, front and centre. She saw their whole show.” Patrick was really proud of his friends.
“Oh my god,” Tim said slapping Andy’s arm. “Well, that’s made that Queen’s year!”
“Ow! Hamish is going to be insufferable now,” Andy said, rubbing his arm, but still grinning ear to ear.
“Like he wasn’t before,” Tim said rolling his eyes. “That little queer has such a mouth on him, everyone will have heard the story before we even get to Mardi Gras. She’s not going to be a surprise guest anymore!”
“That is true, that is true…” Andy said, nodding along, but his face dropped as he realized that Patrick wasn’t smiling as brightly as someone who just witnessed his best friend perform for his idol. “You ok, Patrick?”
“Urgh, been better, but I’ve gotta work tomorrow, so I should…” he motioned up towards the stairs.
“Come and have a cup of tea. You’ll sleep better if you get it off your chest,” Tim said, patting the dining room chair next to him, and giving him a look of caring he would expect from his mother.
“How do you guys do it? You are here for all of us, all the time… You must get sick of the drama,” Patrick said shaking his head.
“Patsy, we’re a couple of old queers. Life isn’t that exciting for us. We’ve been together 31 years this month….” Andy said, looking at Tim warmly.
“Thirty-two…” Tim corrected with wide eyes.
“Is it?” Andy tilted his head, and screwed up his face.
“Yes! Seriously, I should get it tattooed on your wrist,” Tim harrumphed jokingly.
‘Okay! Thirty-two years this month. We met at Mardi Gras,” Andy smiled at the memory.
“You didn’t!?” Patrick sat down with a bit more enthusiasm, looking at his friends and waiting.
“Yes, we did.” Tim said, returning Andy’s warm gaze, and squeezing his hand. “Andy was on the float with some friends, gyrating up a storm, and I was a marshal. He was pointing and gyrating at me as he went past and I was instantly smitten, and somehow, he found me later at the party. We were both off our tits on E, so we made out on the dance floor like it was the Olympics of kissing and that was that.”
“This one was like a lesbian, he had moved in by the end of the week,” Andy joked, but their hands remained joined as they looked back to Patrick.
“That’s what I want,” Patrick’s eyes widened as he heard himself say what he hadn’t realized he’d even been thinking.
Tim raised his eyebrow at Patrick and gave him a knowing look.
“I had that before I came out. I was engaged to a woman,” Hamish knew this story after a very drunken night, but he hadn’t really told anyone here much about his past.
“What!?” Tim and Andy chirped in unison.
“Yes, and while I loved the relationship side of things, I almost missed the fact that I am definitely gay,” Patrick shook his head quietly.
“So very gay darling, even for all your straight-laced energy,” Tim said and grabbed Patrick’s hand for a squeeze this time.
Patrick snorted out a little laugh, “But I have enjoyed myself in Sydney, as you well know.”
“Oh, yes, we are very aware. We’ve seen you in action Patsy, it’s very impressive, and it keeps us entertained, especially when it’s like that one from a few days ago. He was a very funny drunk. Until he vomited,” Andy said.
Patrick nodded softly again, “And for all the fun I’ve had, I still want everything else to go with it.”
“You’ll find it Patsy. You are a snack, and you’re possibly the nicest guy on the face of the earth.”
“It’s funny you mentioned the guy from the other night…” Patrick started out hesitantly.
“The drunk one?” Andy said.
“M-hmm. He’s got me more wound up than anyone I’ve ever met. He seemed like such a dick when I met him, but he’s funny and smart and he just makes me happy when I’m around him. But he’s in this bad relationship and tonight, he was there. He was crushed again by his wanker of a not-actually-his-boyfriend,” Patrick couldn’t believe Sebastien. He was literally the worst.
“Oh, that’s awful, poor love,” said Tim genuinely.
“Yeah, he introduced David to Kylie as his gallerist, not his boyfriend and then David overheard the dancers Sebastien fucked last night talking, and they were saying that David was Sebastien’s sugar daddy,” Patrick finished the briefest retelling of the story possible.
“Oh, poor pet. He needs a hug,” Andy said, sounding every bit the mama-bear, he was.
“Yep. He thinks he doesn’t deserve better though. Hamish did a number on the boyfriend tonight during the show, basically embarrassed him in front of all of Kylie’s people, and dumped him for David, but David was sobbing when he left.”
“Hey. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. When you know, you know. All the platitudes, yes, yes,” Andy was waving his hands around in the air. “But if there is one thing that I know, it’s that it’s the truth – if it’s meant to be, it will be”
“How did Andy find me in the crowds at Mardi Gras? Some sort of fucking homing beacon, I reckon,” Tim said with a soft smile. “It will all work out in the end, Patsy.”
Patrick tapped the table, and gave a look of gratitude to his two friends. “Thanks guys, I’m think I’m going to head up to bed.”
“Good night, Patsy. You know where to find us if you need us, right? Anything you, or even David, need,” Andy offered generously.
“Thank you. I appreciate it. Goodnight, guys,” Patrick said, turning to walk out of the kitchen.
“Oh, and Patrick?” Tim called after him.
Patrick turned around and waited silently, raising his eyebrow in answer.
“Just remember, if it hasn’t worked out yet, it’s not the end.”