David stood in the foyer of the hotel, waiting for his car to pull up. Surprisingly he was checked out and ready to leave a few minutes prior to the time he expected the car to arrive. He couldn’t stay in the room and look at the tangle of sheets anymore though. He needed to put it behind him.
He took a deep breath as the car pulled up in front of him, and said thank you to the driver as he opened the door. He got into the back seat as gracefully as possible and once the door was shut only then did he let himself cry.
It was the perfect time to cry because he knew that the driver would only be a few minutes while he loaded David's bags into the trunk. That way it was contained. Limited. He couldn't get carried away; the way he did with his whole life. He kept things contained, limited. Everything had a box it fit neatly into, and they kept everything compartmentalized.
What he had with Patrick was gorgeous, but it threatened to overwhelm him. It was too much, too big. It didn't fit in his neatly organised box theory. What could he even do anyway? Another forty-eight hours would just make him fall deeper in lo… fall deeper. Just deeper.
David Rose didn't do love.
He surreptitiously wiped his eyes as the driver got into the car.
"International airport, Mr. Rose?” The driver asked, looking into the rear-view mirror.
“Yes please,” David said with a quick nod.
“Emirates, is it?” The driver asked.
“The private hanger, please,” David informed him.
“Sorry, Sir. Okay," the driver nodded once more and put his eyes on the road.
The driver was listening to some ridiculous talk back and everybody sounded about a hundred years old, so David tuned it out and leaned his head back in the seat, until he heard his phone ringing.
"You better be all right, I can reroute the jet, but it might take me a while to get to you… " David blurted out the minute he answered the call.
"Chill, David. I'm fine. I'm in New York," Alexis said, sounding her normal self, which was… good.
"Oh. Good. That's good… then why are you calling me?" David asked, his curiosity peaking.
"Oh my god, David! Can't a sister just want to know how your holiday is going?" Alexis sounded exasperated.
"No! You have literally never once called me without needing something," David rolled his eyes and hoped she could hear it.
"Rude, David,” Alexis huffed.
"But true…" David said, with an undercurrent of snark.
"Urgh, FINE!" Alexis finally broke.
"What…! You've seen the video, you sent it to me. I'm not having a meltdown, it's fine. Sebastien was fucking some of the dancers and I was over it," he said, looking at the cuticles of his other hand.
"M-hmm, m-hmm, yes there's that…" She trailed off.
"What else, Alexis?" He knew she had more to say.
"Sebastien got fired from that job. Everybody is talking about it." There it was. She literally never called him without a reason.
"What?!" David shrieked, and the driver's eyes flicked to his in the rear-view mirror. David turned to look out the window.
"So, the night that you got filmed at that party, or whatever?" Alexis started.
"Get to the point, Alexis!" David was impatient to know what had happened.
"Hmmm, okay. Sebastien did so much blow with the dancers, one of them OD'd and they had to call an ambulance," Alexis said softly. "He's ok! He didn't die, or whatever."
"Holy fuck,” David said softly.
"Yeah, and so, Sebastien got charged with possession and supply, and they aren't holding him anymore because Travis is okay, but he's getting deported," Alexis said gently.
"They were holding him?"
"I heard he was locked up for 24 hours before his parents could get him a lawyer."
"Holy fuck," David whispered this time, taking a breath and letting the information settle.
"I know," Alexis said unhelpfully.
"His parents must be livid," David was starting to piece together the ramifications of this. Sure, everybody in his peer group did drugs, but you were careful, and you were discrete and you never, ever, ever got caught. Parents turned a blind eye, unless they needed to hire a lawyer. And if it came to that, then they needed to show, publicly at least, that they were reacting with appropriate levels of disapproval. Hiring a lawyer often led to talk of trust funds being cut off.
"Oooh, they are!" Alexis said, with the tiniest amount of glee inching into her voice.
David bit his lips together. He knew he shouldn't, but he couldn't really stop himself. The schadenfreude was pushing its way up to the surface.
"David? You okay?" Alexis could always read him.
"Very. Can't say I feel bad for the guy. For Travis? Yes! That's horrible! But for Sebastien… fuck him," David’s voice was flat and even and he surprised himself with how little he cared about Sebastien and what happened to him.
"That's a quick turnaround, David," Alexis said, and he could hear her curiosity coming to the surface.
"What do you mean?" David tried for nonchalant.
"Normally, you'd be watching Brigitte Jones and eating your weight in mall pretzels," Alexis said, she was trying to bait him. He knew her moves.
"Mmmm," David hummed affirmatively, trying to brush it off.
"You met someone!" Alexis almost screeched.
"No!" David definitely screeched, a little.
"Who is it?" Alexis questioned.
"No one,” David was not going to tell her about Patrick. He was keeping him tucked away safely all for himself.
"David!" Alexis said, and he didn’t even really know why he thought he wasn’t telling her, but she wasn’t letting go until he did.
"Urgh, fine. I had a little fling with this hot lifeguard. It's nothing,” David lied.
"You saw the drag queens in the video?" David smiled when he thought of Ivana.
"Ohhhh, a drag queen, love that for you!" Alexis said brightly.
"No. The guy is friends with one of the drag queens and he… he found me after I heard about Sebastien's tryst. So he set up his friends to trash talk Sebastien for me," David smiled at that memory too.
"Oh. That's nice," Alexis sounded soft.
"Yeah. He's nice,” David said warmly.
"Yes," David sighed. "Okay, Alexis, I have to go, I'm at the airport."
"Why?" Alexis said sharply.
"I have to check in!" David was back to almost screeching at Alexis.
"No, why are you at the airport? You're not supposed to be back for a few more days! The parade isn't until tomorrow," Alexis sounded exasperated.
"That's a lot of information for you to know,” David was becoming suspicious.
"I went to the gallery. Keisha told me everything,” Alexis said breezily.
"She gave you the key! Oh my god, are you in my apartment right now?! Alexis, I swear to god…" David’s voice was starting to rise.
Alexis hummed noncommittedly, before saying, "Chill David. I'm staying in the spare room,"
"It better not be a pigsty when I get back Alexis, and no parties," David harrumphed.
"No, I need a break, David. I'm laying low,” she said and David could hear a trace of sadness in her voice.
"Stavros?" he questioned.
"Mmmm,” Alexis mumbled in assent.
"Okay Alexis. You can stay," He wished he was there with her.
"Thank you,” Alexis said with a small sniff. "David?"
"What?" he replied.
"Stay. Go to the parade. Sebastien won't be able to say anything now. Everybody knows he was arrested. His words are meaningless. Everybody thinks he deserved it now, and not that you were off the rails. Have some fun with your little hottie of a life guard. You deserve someone nice, David," she said, the sincerity surprising David.
"Ummm, thank you?" The Rose siblings didn't really do sincerity very well, but he could try. "So do you Alexis, so do you," he said softly.
"Sir?" The driver interrupted the conversation, opening the door of the car.
"Gotta go. Be safe,” David said hastily.
"I will be. You… be good to yourself David,” Alexis said softly.
"Thanks Alexis, Bye.”
"Sorry about that," David apologised to the driver and then got out of the car.
"No worries, Sir. Private Jet Departures are just over there, Gate J," the driver said, pointing into the terminal.
"Thank you,” David said politely.
He collected the trolley from the driver, which he had already loaded with his luggage and pushed it into the airport
Patrick gave the bouncer a wave as he lifted the rope and let Patrick straight in, much to the chagrin of the people in the queue. He just couldn't go home after leaving David. It was the night before Mardi Gras, so he figured he would find a distraction.
As he approached the bar he noticed Todd, the guy he had blown off a few nights ago. It was like on a cooking show when there was one that was prepared earlier. Excellent. Patrick approached him from behind and leaned in close to his ear to say, "Hi, Todd."
Todd spun around in surprise, face softening when he realised it was Patrick. "Patrick! Nice to see you again."
"You too, Todd, you too," Patrick smiled at him warmly.
"Is your friend performing again tonight?" Todd asked, starting the conversation easily.
"Yes, she is," Patrick smiled, pleased he'd been remembered.
"And your other friend? The drunk one, I saw you drag out the other night," Todd questioned, while looking at his hands. He was clearly making sure that Patrick didn't have any other distractions tonight.
Patrick chuckled at the memory of drunk David. "He went back to New York. Had some boyfriend issues."
"Oh. That's a shame, he's going to miss the parade!" Todd said, smiling brightly like he wasn't at all unhappy about Patrick's missing friend.
"I know right?" Patrick shook his head. He couldn't believe David would leave so close to the parade. "What about you? Are you going to the parade, Todd?"
"Oh yes, I'm a marshal," Todd replied happily.
"Oh, maybe you'll see me!" Patrick said excitedly.
"Where will you be?" Todd furrowed his brow.
"On the royal surf lifesaving club float!"
Todd exclaimed, "Oh that’s right… You're a lifesaver!"
Patrick smirked and nodded. It was as good as being a fireman in terms of pulling, really.
"Can I get you a drink, Todd?"
"Yes please," Todd said, pursing his lips.
Patrick leaned on the bar, and looked around to try and find the bartender and he saw a flash of black hair walk into the club. Patrick’s head swivelled so fast, he almost got whiplash. The man disappeared into the crowd.
He was tall like David, he was wearing black, and his hair was styled "up". Patrick didn't know what that was called. Oh, this was bad, he was going to be distracted again. Didn’t David leave? Did he decide to stay? He couldn't stand at the bar and not go find out.
He felt a little bad for Todd, but seriously, he couldn't take the chance of chatting him up if David was still here. I mean what was he even thinking? Trying to chat him up in the first place? His head was elsewhere.
"Todd, I'm really sorry to do this again, but I have to go…” Patrick looked from Todd to the room guiltily.
“What?! What happened?” Todd looked very surprised.
“I'm just so sorry,” Patrick shrugged his shoulders, grimaced and ran off, before he even bought him a drink.
“Just remember, the third time is NOT a charm, Patrick!” Todd yelled angrily at his retreating figure.
Patrick ran off in the direction that he had seen the hair disappear. He moved through the crowd, and luckily, he heard the MC, Ruby Lonesome take to the stage to start the show. It meant most people stopped what they were doing and paid attention. He scanned the crowd frantically, there were so many people in the club it was insane. People were standing shoulder to shoulder.
Just as the house lights went down and Ruby Lonesome started to introduce Ivana, he spotted the tall, dark-haired man at the other side of the room, and rushed over to see if it was him. Just as he was about to grab him, the man laughed. But the way he threw his head back softly, too gently, not exaggerated enough, Patrick could tell it wasn’t his David.
What was he even thinking? This was the second time he’d come to this bar hoping to get his mind off David. And there was no use. Especially not now. Not after everything they had been through together. The times that David thought that Patrick was saving him, were actually like team building activities. They created honesty, vulnerability and he got to know the David that was underneath all the pretension.
Yes, the sex was mind-blowing. He had never had a connection AND desire like that with his bed mates since he arrived in Sydney. Sure he desired them, but he wasn’t really ever concerned about getting to know them, not the way he was with David. He wanted to know everything about David.
And then he thought about Rachel… he loved Rachel. He knew everything about Rachel, but he didn’t really desire her. She deserved so much better.
Patrick decided to cut his losses and head home. He called an Uber and couldn’t stop thinking about Rachel and everything they had been through together. In high school they were solid, but it was because their relationship was all about friendship. They lost their virginities to each other the summer before they went to college and that was when it all changed. Rachel wanted it; it was like he broke the dam. She was a normal young person with a young person's libido and desires to explore her newly discovered sexuality, and he just didn’t care about it at all.
He tried really hard for her sake, but the pressure got too much. He broke up with her for the first time then. He happily went a year without any serious sexual encounter, until Kate. Kate was a drunken party hook-up that turned into about four dates and intercourse twice; she gave a mean blow job, which he was very happy about. And there was Jin. Jin was great because she didn’t want to have sex before marriage and she was very sporty. They had a good time together, hiking and they were on the college softball team together, until she realised after a few months, he probably wasn’t going to marry her. But in between there was always Rachel, long suffering Rachel, who just wanted to be with him. Just like he wanted to be with David. She didn’t deserve the not knowing.
By the time he got home, he knew he needed to call her. Tomorrow was meant to be their wedding. It was past eleven here, it would be 7am there. She’d be up and he’d catch her. He closed the door to his room and dialled her number.
She answered quickly, her voice still groggy from sleep. “Patrick?” she asked, disbelief in her tone.
“Hey Rach," Patrick tried to be chipper.
“What the fuck? It's barely day break here,” Rachel replied harshly. She never had a filter in the first few minutes when she woke up.
“I just needed to talk to you," Patrick was trying to stay calm and casual.
“I’m so mad at you. Radio silence for 6 months? What the fuck, Patrick? And then you call the day before we are supposed to get married? You better have a good reason for –”
“I’m gay, Rach," Patrick said, cutting her off.
The line went dead, but he could hear her breathing, so he knew she was still there.
“Are you still there?” he asked anyway, nerves taking over.
“Yes. I'm sorry, but did you just say that you are gay?” She genuinely sounded like perhaps she hadn’t heard him.
Patrick chuckled, “Yes. I kinda thought I might be… and since I’ve been in Sydney, well, let’s just say I am very, very gay.” Patrick tried to make light of it.
He heard the unmistakable sound of Rachel sobbing, one time only, and she tried to cover it with, “Thank you for telling… me."
“Rach…” he said softly.
“No. It’s good, I’m happy for you…” she replied but he could hear her sniffle.
“Rachel,” Patrick said again, but his heart was hurting, making her feel this way.
Patrick could hear her take a calming breath before saying resolutely, “and it makes sense, Patty.”
“I’m sorry I…” Patrick started.
“No! Don’t be sorry," Rachel said forcefully.
“Well, I’m not sorry I’m gay. But I am sorry that I didn’t know. I feel like I wasted your time.” Patrick said, the reality of this statement is something that he'd been trying to cover up over the past few months, trying to get as much 'experience' as possible.
“Patrick… if you didn't know, you didn't know. But, how did you work it out?”
“You really want to know?" Patrick questioned. He didn't really want to tell her, but she did deserve to know how it came out of the blue for him. It might make it easier for her to take, that it came as just as much of a surprise to him. "Unfortunately, it was while we were still engaged…”
“What?” Rachel said sharply.
Patrick barrelled on quickly before she got too in her head. “I honestly didn’t know, and I was so stressed about the wedding, and… you remember I went to Toronto for that overnight work thing?”
“Yes, you came home, broke it off and moved back to your parents, so yeah… I remember," Rachel said snidely.
“Well, I was talking to this guy at the bar. I thought we were just chatting. I’d had four beers. I didn’t think I was flirting, but in hindsight, I think I was… and anyway. He kissed me, blew my mind a little, and I ran away from him too.”
“Wow, that must have been a lot,” Rachel said kindly.
“Yeah, thanks Rach, it was a bit of a shock. And I just decided I needed to step away and try and make decisions about my life without anybody weighing in, you know?”
She sighed, knowingly. “Yes. I think I get it. Everybody we know has an opinion about whether or not you are coming home to me, once you’ve sown your ‘wild oats’…” Rachel said wryly.
“Ugh, they don’t, do they?” Patrick felt bad for her. “People are the worst.” He rubbed his face with his other hand.
“Oh, they do.” Rachel said, and he could imagine her face, eyes widened and eyebrows raised. He still loved how well he knew her.
“And what did you think?” he asked her.
“I have been trying to move forward, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t always hold out hope. I mean, if it wasn’t for the sex thing, we were pretty perfect,” Rachel said wistfully.
“Yeah, we were Rach.”
“But, ummm, yeah. I’ve gotta get ready for work, but thanks for calling to tell me. I appreciate it. I need to let it sink in but… it’s good. It makes me feel better knowing that all of our relationship problems were your fault…” She laughed, and he knew they would be ok.
“Hey!” Patrick said with faux indignation.
“Seriously?” she questioned.
“Okay, it is kinda fair. But Rach?” Patrick had one more thing to tell her.
“I have always loved you. Still do. Just…”
“Not like that?”
“Yeah, just not like that.” Patrick sighed, glad she took it well.
“It’s okay. Bye Patrick,” she sounded ready to get off the phone. He had unloaded a lot on her.
“Bye Rach… oh! I haven’t told Mom and Dad yet. I will, very soon,” he promised.
“Okay – got it, I’ll call them now,” she replied cheekily.
“RACH!” Patrick retorted.
“Joking! I would never…” she said softly.
“Thanks Rach. I promise not to make you keep my secret for too long. Bye.”
Patrick went to the kitchen for some Sleepy time tea. He was exhausted but so wound up. It was an emotional rollercoaster of a day. He knew David was gone but he didn’t want to give up on him. Maybe when he returned home, he could go to New York and look for him? But what would he even say?
He thought that, “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you?” was a little corny but, if he still felt this way in a few months, then yes. It made sense. That’s what he would do. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was better than no plan.
“Patsy! You were there! But you left? What happened?” Hamish stormed into the kitchen, make up not completely removed but in well-worn jeans and a t-shirt, obviously still high from the show.
“Oh, hi, Hame. Show good?” he asked.
“You’d know if you stuck around…” Hamish said, and it had a little bite to it.
“I know, I thought I wanted to pick up, but, I just couldn’t. I want David,” he said softly, hoping Hamish would understand.
Hamish looked confused though, “I thought you hadn’t heard from him after the other night?”
Patrick remembered that he hadn’t seen Hamish all day today, so as far as he was concerned, last he saw him was when he left the Mardi Gras pre-party. “Ah yes. Well, yesterday he came to the pool, so I took him for lunch…”
“Where?” Hamish interjected.
“Panaroma,” Patrick answered.
“Nice, continue…” Hamish circled his hands in a magnanimous gesture.
“And then we went back to his room and…” Patrick paused as he always did before he would ‘kiss and tell’.
“Fucked,” Hamish just wanted him to get on with the story.
“Yeah. And then he packed up his stuff and left.”
“Oh. Was it not good?” Hamish asked, screwing up his face.
“It was very good,” Patrick said and he could feel himself blush a little.
“Then why did he leave? I mean, the parade is tomorrow! Why would any queer leave Sydney, the day before Mardi Gras?!” Hamish was waving his arms around passionately.
“I obviously agree with you, but he is clearly very upset by everything that happened with Sebastien, and he said he needed to get back to contain the damage he could do to the gallery,” Patrick screwed up his face with the disappointment of it all.
“Speaking of which… I heard a rumour about that,” Hamish said, becoming very interested in his cuticles.
“What?” Patrick said a little more enthusiastically than he wanted to sound.
“Sebastien and the dancers he was fucking did a bunch of lines at the party. One of them had too much and OD’d. Sebastien was taken away in cuffs,” Hamish seemed kind of nonchalant considering what he’d just shared.
“What!? Was the dancer okay?” Patrick asked with a bit of panic in his voice.
“Ummm, yeah, I think so. But as I said, all rumours, we weren’t there when it happened,” Hamish reiterated.
“Oh, wow!” Patrick widened his eyes in shock from the information he had received. He didn’t know what difference it made to anything. And he hoped nobody died. But he wondered if it meant that Sebastien couldn’t cause as much trouble for David.
“Patsy?” Hamish said, impatiently, like it wasn’t the first time he’d said it.
“Sorry, yes, Hame?” Patrick asked distractedly.
“I know you really like this guy, for some ridiculous reason,” Hamish rolled his eyes as he spoke.
That bought Patrick back to the conversation at hand and he replied with a shrug, “I do.”
“But why? I mean, he’s objectively hot, but you’ve been with guys just as hot as him. He seems complicated and hard work. There is clearly a lot of hurt and insecurity going on under that brash exterior,” Hamish reasoned. He was right, of course.
“I just feel a connection,” Patrick said, knowing there was no way he could be reasonable about his feelings for David.
“Patsy, he is so damaged, it’s probably better to just collect the insurance,” Hamish said in his Ivana voice.
Patrick laughed out loud, knowing his friend’s sense of humour and that this would probably end up as a bit in his show.
Hamish smirked, it was clearly the reaction he was hoping for, “But if you really feel a connection, what are you going to do about it?”
Patrick smiled at his friend and took a big sip of his tea, making him wait while he swallowed, so he could put it into words. “I’m going to dance on what should have been my straight wedding day, on a float in a giant queer parade, come back here and get smashed with you and everyone else that I love in Sydney. And at the end of the month once my contract is up, I’ll go home, come out and then go to New York in search of him.”
“Okay, wow! That is a surprisingly well thought out plan,” Hamish raised his eyebrow and nodded at Patrick.
Patrick shrugged and said, “I have to try Hame. And if it isn’t meant to be, he’ll crush me and break my heart, and that will at least make me get over him.”
This time, it was Hamish’s turn to laugh out loud.