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Paint on the Colours

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Chapter 3 title

Patrick dove into the pool to start his morning laps. He was on edge. He hadn’t seen or heard from David all day yesterday and he was beginning to get nervous about it. He couldn’t shake the feeling he would just up and leave Sydney. Today he had decided if he didn’t come down to the pool, he was going to go up and see him. Mardi Gras was the next day, and he was off work for two days to enjoy what the locals called Gay Christmas. He couldn’t let David slip through his fingers.

After his chat with Andy and Tim, Patrick had done a lot of soul searching. He had really been enjoying his time in Sydney and sleeping with so many different men he’d lost count. Okay – he  hadn’t really; it was twenty-three men and he wasn’t embarrassed about it either. After a lifetime of very mediocre sex, he had really enjoyed experiencing the desire and pleasure that sex could provide. He had learned a lot about himself, too, but he really wasn’t expecting David.

David pulled at all those strings that were attached to his heart. He was the complete antithesis of Patrick’s life. He was dramatic to Patrick’s calm, loud to his quiet, so confident in his space in the world as queer person, but his lack of self-worth had been completely undermined. Whereas Patrick knew he was a good person and worthy, but was still figuring out what it meant for him to be a queer person. I mean, he knew he was definitely gay; he would claim that label with pride.

His time in Sydney had been very educational. He was really coming to know himself as a person, and the reality was, he was exactly the same person. He could be a version of himself that got to have passion in his life and could love without question, which was a better version of himself, an honest version. These two parts of himself could definitely co-exist. He didn’t just need to be cruising for dick, and while he could definitely admit that had been extremely fun, he was ready to move into the next phase. He could be in a loving and committed relationship, like his friends Andy and Tim, and it was David that had made him understand he was ready for that.

If he didn’t at least try to make that happen, he would never forgive himself. He needed to at least try to get to know David a little better before he left, and he was going to take a risk.

Patrick had run away from the calm lakes and soft snow drifts of Canada and a life that he never felt like he fit, to the drama and excitement and unpredictability of the ocean.

David Rose was the ocean.

He pulled himself out of the pool, more settled than when he dove in and grabbed his towel to dry off. He dried off his curls that had gone almost blonde after a summer in the pool; he actually really liked his salt water curls. As he threw the towel behind him to dry his back, he mindlessly looked up at the hotel to see the same figure that had greeted him a few days ago – long  and lithe, and completely in black. He paused again, just like he had the first time. The figure lifted its arm and gave a simple wave. Patrick dropped his towel to wave back. David hadn’t left. And just like that, Patrick had hope.

***

The minutes of his shift at the stunning ocean pool ticked by in such a way, he could have been sitting in a dark, dank cave. Every time he checked the clock, sure it had been easily an hour, he’d find it was only twenty minutes. He couldn’t leave his post; people’s lives were literally in his hands, so he tried to distract himself and keep himself together.

By the time Anthony arrived to tag team the second half of his shift, he couldn’t have been happier. At least he had a backup if he got distracted.

“Hey Patrick,” Anthony said warmly.

“Hey Anthony,” Patrick replied.

"Everything okay?" Anthony asked, gesturing toward the pool.

"Yeah, nothing much happening here," Patrick nodded in reply.

"You've got two days off after this right?" Anthony was talking to him, but looking out over the pool, getting himself settled in for his shift.

"Yep, I'm on the float in the parade tomorrow night," Patrick smirked to himself, he was a little nervous about it, but he was going to go through with it. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved in a milestone Queer event, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

"Maybe we will see you on the TV… " Anthony chuckled a little, "you'll be famous!"

"Wow, I hope not. Not really my thing…" Patrick said, rolling his eyes.

"Well, you know it's broadcast every year, right?" Knowing he wasn’t a Sydneysider, Anthony knew Patrick might not know, exactly how popular the parade was.

"I did not know that," Patrick said shaking his head. He only really knew his housemates and colleagues in Sydney, so it didn't matter.

"Anyway, it should be fun, I guess? You couldn't pay me to be in my Speedo on a float, shaking my ass in front of tens of thousands of people," Anthony said shaking his head.

"I don't know, Anthony? Your wife might like it?" Patrick chuckled.

Anthony flushed, "Oh, she definitely would, but I might just save that for when  we’re alone…" the pair laughed.

"Now that you’re here, I'm going to go grab a drink," Patrick said.

"Yeah, no worries, I got this. Take your ten-minute break if you want?" Anthony replied.

Patrick turned to walk back into the club and was greeted with an image of which he knew he would never tire; David in his short trunks lying on a sunbed, one knee raised, skin glistening in the sun, with massive white sunglasses covering his eyes. What a thirst trap.

He forgot about getting a drink and headed directly to David.

“Hi,” he said standing over him, smiling like a Cheshire cat. He was so happy to see him, all the tension of the last thirty-six hours melting away.

“You’re blocking my sun,” David complained to Patrick, but with a smirk on his face that indicated that this was what he'd been waiting for. Patrick took it as an invitation to sit on his lounge.

“How are you?” Patrick asked, gently placing a hand on David's knee.

“I’m okay. I thought I would top up my tan before I leave. I’m flying back to New York tonight before Sebastien can do too much damage to my reputation…”

“David! What? The parade is tomorrow! You can’t leave now.” Patrick was dumbstruck. “You can’t let that ass-hat be the reason you miss the parade.”

“My sister messaged me. There is a video of the incident on socials. Sebastien is making some pretty big claims about me being out of control. Some of my upcoming artists are talking of pulling out of their shows.” David looked positively forlorn.

“But it’s not true!” Patrick replied without thinking.

“Since when does that matter, Patrick?” David looked resigned. This was clearly the world that David lived in and Patrick had no clue how it worked.

Patrick’s head was scrambling. He didn’t know how to fix this, but he also knew he couldn’t let David leave without at least spending a little more time with him.

“So, you are flying out tonight?” Patrick asked, stalling and trying to form a plan or an idea that would keep David here.

“Yes, the jet leaves at eleven," David said, not smiling anymore and shrugging his shoulders.

If Patrick couldn't think of a way to keep him here, he could at least try and make the most of the time they had left. “Come out with me this afternoon?”

“Why, Patrick?” David leaned forward into Patrick's space, and he genuinely looked like he couldn't understand why anyone would want to be with him.

“Let me show you a bit of Sydney?" Patrick looked at him hopefully. "You’ve been here, what? Four days?”

“M-hmm," David agreed noncommittally.

“And what have you seen?” Patrick asked playfully, trying to return their banter to a happy place.

“This pool. The Colombian. Your house,” David said and waved his hands around as he was speaking, a small smile starting to form at the side of his mouth that was making his dimple pop.

Patrick laughed. “How about I meet you at your hotel when I’m done and I’ll take you to lunch? We can at least walk along the beach.”

David lifted his sunglasses and narrowed his eyes at Patrick like he was considering his motives, and then nodded. “Yes. Okay.”

Patrick smiled, happy for the chance to spend at least a few more hours with David.

“BUT! I’ll meet you in the lobby. What time do you finish?” David asked.

“Do you not trust yourself if I’m at your door, David?” Patrick raised his eyebrows suggestively.

“Something like that," David said, not even trying to hide the smirk that flashed across his face this time, but his eyes darted away.

“Midday," Patrick replied to the earlier question.

“Okay," David bit his lip.

“It’s a date,” Patrick felt his confidence return.

“Is it though?” David dared him.

Yes, David, it’s definitely a date," Patrick squeezed David’s knee and then pushed himself up.

David bit down on his lips like he was trying to contain a smile, which moved to a furrow of his brows and then he pursed his lips and nodded quickly. Patrick could only describe it as a face journey.

“I better get back to it,” Patrick motioned over his shoulder to the pool, grinning like an idiot. “I’ll see you later?”

“You will.”

Patrick cruised back to the side of the pool, his mind drifting back to the time that he and David last connected. If the look, and double eyebrow raise, Anthony gave him as he arrived back to his post said anything, Patrick’s thoughts must have been clearly written all over his face. He was in so much trouble.

***

When David arrived fifteen minutes later than the agreed upon time, Patrick was waiting in the lobby in Adidas slides, cargo shorts, a white t-shirt that had seen better days, and his red lifesaving snap-back cap on backwards over his curls,

“Good to see you went to so much trouble to dress up for our date,” David said, eyeing up the man who still looked delectable regardless of what he was wearing.

Patrick laughed self deprecatingly, looking down at himself before looking up at David through his eyelashes. David felt his whole body relax slightly.

“Well, I didn’t expect to be going on a date when I left the house at 5am this morning,” Patrick said. “However, the great thing about Bondi is that everywhere expects their customers to have just walked off the beach.”

“Are you telling me I’m overdressed?” David gestured to himself with a little shimmy thrown in for good measure.

“No,” Patrick's eyes gazed down his body, slowly taking in every inch, and David swore he could feel their heat on his skin. “I am definitely not saying that,” Patrick said when he was back to looking into David's eyes.

David preened. The look Patrick gave him would have had them in bed in about thirty seconds, which is why he decided to meet him in the lobby.  David was wearing his white Valentino scalloped front shirt and Thom Brown seersucker shorts, but he did however stick with his Gucci slides. Patrick mentioned walking along the beach, and it was incorrect to wear closed-in shoes on a beach. Plus, seriously, it was so hot here. He wasn’t getting over it, he’d given up trying to keep his hair from curling in the humidity. He just had to run with it.

“Shall we?” Patrick motioned to the door and opened it for David, letting him lead the way.

Once they were out the door Patrick slipped his hand in David's, smiling down at the sight of them pressed together.

David just stared at Patrick who finally shrugged and said, "I like you, David."

What? David was astounded. Who even said things like that! Just out of the blue and with no agenda. What the actual fuck? This was so confusing.

Patrick was dragging them down towards the beach, which was massive and also... packed with people. He looked over the yellow sandy expanse to the contrast of the crashing blue surf. It was really beautiful, but just so very busy. "Is it always like this?"

"M-hmm, yep! There can be up to forty thousand people on this beach on really hot days."

The beach itself was a big bay, flanked by two stony headlands, with the Icebergs club at one end, and a public salt water pool at the other. There was a grassy slope that led down to the beach from the street, where people were picnicking and sunbathing. There was also a huge skate-bowl along the edge. Between the grass and the beach there was a wide concrete walkway, about two metres above the beach, and there were sets of stairs periodically leading to the beach.

"Holy crap. I don’t really enjoy crowds."

"I would not have guessed that,” Patrick said sarcastically.

David screwed up his face at the sarcasm. “Thank God, I booked the hotel above the pool.”

“Yes. Thank God," Patrick smiled softly at him. "C'mon," he finished, tilting his head towards the beach and pulling them down a set of stairs and onto the beach. Patrick kicked off his slides when he got to the sand and grabbed them in one hand. David followed him, and regretted it instantly because the yellow sand was like molten lava under his feet. Patrick grabbed his other hand laughing and they ran hand in hand, with the sand squeaking under their feet, towards the water’s edge, dodging people on towels the whole way.

When they got to the cool sand and the lapping water, they both breathed a sigh of relief to feel it against their shins. The relief was short lived as Patrick ran his foot through the water, making it spray up at David and he squawked, running backwards away from him and bumping into an unsuspecting swimmer. Patrick doubled over laughing, however the person he bumped into didn’t seem particularly concerned by their antics.

David took this as a personal challenge and started trying to kick water at Patrick, who was dodging and weaving like he was born to it. Every now and then he would spray another kick David’s way, which would elicit involuntary laughing squawks from him.

“All right, all right! I give up!” David stomped his foot, and Patrick bit down on his lip, definitely trying to contain more laughter. David wanted to be annoyed by his antics, however he was finding it very difficult to be annoyed by this man. His smile was contagious.

“Sorry,” Patrick said, “I just love watching you laugh.” Patrick said, breathing a little more pronounced because of his antics.

“Sebastien always told me I looked too eager when I smiled,” he said grimacing, and Patrick’s face dropped instantly.

“Jesus, I really wish I had taken the chance to deck that guy while I had a chance…. I’m glad he got dumped spectacularly though,” Patrick cocked an eyebrow at David, a small smile playing at the corner of his mouth. He grabbed David’s hand and gave it a little squeeze, before they started strolling together to the north end of the beach.

David’s mind was racing. He looked at Patrick out of the corner of his eye while trying to enjoy this romantic beach-side stroll, but he had to ask, “You would have punched him?”

Patrick harrumphed, “No. Not really. Not my style. I like to imagine doing it though.”

“So, what is your style, Pat-rick?” David asked, emphasizing the consonants of his name. It was a fun name to say.

“Hmmm, I’m starting to work it out, I think…” Patrick said while continuing to look ahead.

David wished he could control his mouth but it didn’t look like today was going to be that day, “And you think that it’s me?”

“Yup.” This time it was Patrick who popped his ‘p’.

“You don’t even know me!” David said in mock indignation, though the sentiment warmed him right to the core.

“Don’t I?” Patrick asked, this time looking at him and cocking one of his barely-there eyebrows.

“No!”

“David.” Patrick was soft in his response.

“This is not me. This is not my life.” David knew this was not real. He knew real life. It was hard, and you had to have rules, and you had to make sure you kept everything under control. Otherwise, he would be too much.

“Okay. Look, I get it. This is not New York, and you are probably used to behaving differently in New York. It’s expected of you, right?”

David really didn’t think he could sum it up more perfectly if he tried. He couldn’t really believe that Patrick could see it so easily. “Yes,” was all he could say.

“I think you have a wall built up around you because people like Sebastien have been telling you how to be for so long that you’ve adapted and adjusted to fit what they want you to be. But it’s not really you,” Patrick said, gently.

“Well…. What about you? What are you doing in Sydney? Fucking your way through every available man?” David said defensively.

“I mean, I was giving it a pretty good go…” he pursed his lips and his eyes twinkled, obviously he was trying to keep the mood light.

David laughed. Damn this sweet man for always pushing him close to the edge but holding him tightly so he didn’t fall. Curiosity got the better of him, he couldn’t hold his tongue around this man. “Did you have bad break up? Did somebody break your heart back in Canada? Some sweet, bespectacled, English major break your heart? Or were you banging the star of the baseball team who wasn’t out and he couldn’t deal?”

“Actually, funny you should ask it that way….” Patrick shook his head and gave him a bit of a side eye before continuing. “I was about to get married. To my high school sweetheart. And then one night I was out, and I got hit on by this gorgeous lumber jack of a man, and I just leaned into it. So, I broke up with my fiancé and left. She didn’t really understand why I left.”

“She!?”

“Yeah. She. Nobody back home knows that I’m gay. But if anything has been solidified over the past five months, it’s that I am one hundred percent gay. I somehow got to the age of twenty-eight and missed that memo, but that guy in the bar didn’t. Thank goodness for him, otherwise I’d be miserable and would be getting married this weekend actually.”

“Mardi Gras would have been your wedding?!” David nearly screeched. Definitely not a screech though, just a loudish, concerned voice.

“Ridiculously, yes.” Patrick’s voice was full of disbelief and laughter.

“Who gets married in March in Canada?” David asked, shaking his head.

“Rachel wanted to wear a fur hooded cape. Fake of course.”

“Of course.” David raised his eyebrows, and he kind of understood. A hooded fur cape sounded lovely for a non-traditional bride. “In white?”

“I mean, I can only assume?” Patrick shrugged his shoulders and laughed a little.

“Now I can understand why you feel like gyrating in a fugly little Speedo could be liberating!”

Patrick barked out a loud joyous laugh this time, and once it settled, he beamed at David and said, “Thank you, David.”

“For what?” David shook his head in confusion.

“For just getting it.”

David smiled at him with his lips pursed and nodded, wondering how it was possible that this man could look like he was smiling even though his mouth was definitely upside-down.

***

Patrick took David to a place he had been meaning to go the whole time he had been here. It was a rickety, dodgy looking place that was an institution in Sydney, and they harvested their produce from their own farm just out of the city. It was called ‘Sean’s Panaroma’ and David was clearly affronted and almost left when Patrick pointed out the pun. While it did have a beautiful view out over the beach, it was pan-aroma (like smells from the kitchen) not panorama. The fragrant aroma’s coming from the kitchen were amazing though, so David stayed. Patrick had a hard time concentrating on his meal during lunch, with the sounds of appreciation coming out of David’s mouth, and therefore didn’t remember what he had eaten, at all.

What he did remember was David laughing, head thrown back, when he told him about his first night in his share house when Hamish hit on him, while completely in drag. Patrick had let him down gently by telling him he was so gay he just couldn’t do it, even though Hamish assured him he had a penis under his frock. And then how they hooked up, later once he took all his make-up off. He remembered the glistening way David’s eyes shone when he talked about his mom and dad, and how he was fascinated by his very simple small-town upbringing. In fact, he realized that he had spent a lot of the afternoon talking, and David had managed to not talk about himself at all.

“David, you don’t really talk about yourself, do you?”

“I’m just really enjoying hearing about you; your upbringing is so foreign to me. It’s fascinating, like an anthropological study of an undiscovered tribe,” David said smirking.

Patrick dipped his head and laughed at the very strange compliment, and then looked back at David through his lowered eyes.

David narrowed his eyes at Patrick, something clicked, “You do that on purpose!”

“What?” Patrick said trying to look confused, but just looking guilty as hell.

“Your little head drop and look through your eyelashes!” David accused. “You’ve pulled that move on me several times since we met!”

Patrick laughed nervously, looking to the side, but smiling. “I guess you caught me. Is it working?”

“Hmmpf” David said, trying to seem annoyed, but the dimple couldn’t help but pop which proved, he really wasn’t annoyed in the slightest. “What other moves have you been using on me?”

“I don’t have any other moves… Other than just asking for what I want," Patrick said confidently.

David bit his lips together and nodded, looking like he was trying to stop himself from saying something, but in the end he asked, “And what do you want, Patrick?”

“I think I’ve been pretty clear about that, David,” Patrick replied looking him straight in the eyes.

David fought him hard on the bill, but Patrick insisted he was paying, as he was the one who had asked him out. David really didn’t seem comfortable at all with it, and left a fifty on the table as a tip. Patrick couldn’t really remember the service at all after David put his hand on his knee under the table, in the middle of the first course.

By the time they walked out of the restaurant it was already four in the afternoon, and Patrick felt like he was watching the sand fall through the hourglass, wondering how he was going to convince David to stay. He had a few hours left, and he wanted to make the most of it.

“Is there anything you want to do that we can achieve in the next few hours? What time is your car coming?” Patrick asked, dreading the answer would be that David needed to pack.

“Well, I did have this one thing I thought we could squeeze in, if you’re up for it?” David said, talking with an air of nonchalance that Patrick was pretty sure was feigned.

“Anything you want, David,” Patrick said earnestly, feeling like he was going to regret it.

He swirled one of his rings around his finger, before looking Patrick in the eye and saying, “I had this image of you sitting on my chest with your delicious thighs straddling me, while you fucked into my mouth. Do you think we can tick that off my list before I leave?”

Patrick could feel his face lighting up, and from the sultry smile on David’s face, Patrick had already announced he was a sure thing. “Yes, yup. Definitely. Let’s go.” Patrick grabbed David’s hand and basically tugged him down the street, to which David squealed and then started laughing.

“Patrick, Patrick! Slow down, there’s time!” David said breathlessly between his laughter. Patrick couldn’t stand it and used David’s hand to pull him in for a passionate kiss in the middle of the sidewalk. People were probably dodging them and giving them stink eye, but Patrick didn’t care. He needed to have his mouth on David’s lips, his tongue touching David’s tongue, and everybody else could be damned if they didn’t like it.

Patrick pulled back and took in David’s face, trying to memorize every detail, every freckle, every line. “David, I don’t want you to go. But if you think you have to, then I want to spend the next few hours memorizing every inch of you.”

David’s eyes darkened and he just nodded before saying, “We should go.”