Patrick was woken from his sleep in by Katie jumping on him and screaming "Happy Mardi Gras!" in his face. He couldn't blame her. She was young and so very cool, but she had only recently moved from a regional town, and this was going to be her first as an out and proud Wilyakali woman. It was a big deal. She was marching in the parade for the LGBTQI+ First Nations people.
“Mmmm, morning Katie. What if I had been in here with someone?” he said in a sleep addled voice.
“Hamish told me you went to bed by yourself and were moping over some guy, so… I figured I was safe. Plus… Tim and Andy are making rainbow pancakes!” Katie was jumping up and down on his bed next to him so going back to sleep wasn’t happening.
“Okay, okay! I’m coming!” He laughed at how well the household knew him, looked after him and cared for him.
He stumbled to the bathroom before heading to the kitchen where he found his entire found family. Tim and Andy were bickering and laughing, working seamlessly around each other at the stove, Hamish was recounting stories about last night, and the quieter members of the house, Josh and Chris, were listening to Hamish in rapt attention, their office jobs not affording them any of the excitement of Hamish’s night-time Oxford Street adventures.
“Morning,” he said softly as he slid into his seat at the table. “How’s everybody feeling?”
A loud cacophony of cheering and enthusiastic words fell from everybody’s mouths, and Patrick knew whatever else was happening, he would enjoy today for everything it would be.
“Hey… I just wanted to say…” Patrick cleared his throat. He was done with hiding himself in every way. “There is something about today that makes it a little more special for me. I haven’t told many people in Sydney. In fact, only Hamish knows the whole story.” He paused again, grinning at everyone around the table; he knew this was going to probably surprise them all a little. “Today is not just Mardi Gras for me… Today, I was supposed to marry a woman,” Patrick smirked, the rest of the household collectively gasped, their eyes widening.
“No fucking way!” Chris said. “Does she know!?”
“I rang her and came out to her yesterday,” Patrick said nodding. He grabbed a napkin and a plate to serve himself some pancakes from the multicoloured stack in the middle of the table. “She was my childhood sweetheart.”
“Oh my god… That makes so much sense!” Josh said excitedly, waving his hands around in Patrick’s general direction.
“What do you mean?” Patrick asked, laughing at everyone’s love of drama.
“You are going through your newly out slutty phase…” Josh said with a cheeky grin.
Patrick barked out a laugh, “Well, yes, I guess I am! And the reason I am telling you all, is because you’ve all helped in some way or another. Living here has made everything easy. I’ve been able to really be myself and it stopped me from questioning the decisions I’ve been making. So, thank you.”
“A toast!” said Hamish, raising his coffee cup.
Everybody took a moment to get whatever beverage they were drinking in the air.
When everyone was ready, Hamish continued, “To everybody being able to be the best versions of themselves, whatever makes them happy. Happy Mardi Gras, bitches!”
Patrick was ready. Standing on the float, which was in the waiting area, ready for their time to join the parade. There were lifesavers from up and down the east coast, all in their Speedo uniforms.
Every exposed piece of his skin was covered with body glitter. Patrick was pumped. He really couldn’t believe that he was going to be on a float in such a tiny outfit, in front of tens of thousands of people. The parade route was jammed with people from all walks of life, and there were camera crews everywhere.
He’d been chatting to his float mates, and they were all getting each other enthused. A few were veterans of the float, one guy named Richard, had been on the float for ten years running.
“Just have fun!” Richard was trying to motivate all the lifesavers who were having first time nerves. “Nobody really cares tonight. It’s just all about acceptance, and enjoying yourselves. We get to show all of Australia that we are represented everywhere. Just shake that ass!”
His mind drifted back to David’s comments about his tree trunk thighs and his ass, and it made him smile. At least he knew that the ass he’d be shaking was David approved.
The float was essentially a decorated flatbed truck, the driver of which approached them all and shouted, “Hey everyone ready? Hold onto the safety rails at all times please, I’ll be going very slowly, but just be as careful as possible. Nobody wants to end up in the emergency room and miss the party!”
There was excited chatter and movement as everybody got a hold of the safety rails that were screwed strategically to the base of the truck bed. This was it; they were about to be part of the official parade. The engine started, and Patrick could feel the vibrations under his feet before the music started pumping from the speakers, and then he could feel the base too. Of course, it was vintage Kylie – Sydney was Kylie mad at the moment.
Say you won't leave me no more
I'll take you back again
No more excuses, no, no
'Cause I heard them all before
A hundred times or more….
Here we go, Patrick thought, as the truck started moving. He almost couldn’t believe he was standing on a truck in his Speedo, announcing loudly and proudly that he was gay to tens of thousands of people all over Sydney. He felt good about all the changes he had made to his life over the past six months. Coming to accept this huge realization about himself, and not just that he was gay, but also that he had spent his life making decisions based on what everyone else thought was the right thing to do.
Hamish had helped him find his voice in asking for what he wanted, and even though he had used this skill mostly for picking up, it was definitely a muscle that he had gotten used to flexing. He was more likely to recognize what he wanted, and ask for it in other aspects of life too, which was big for him. He realized taking on board every other person’s needs and wants, and prioritizing them above his own, he’d been doing it his whole life. He was so proud of himself, but the last week had really shifted something in him. He wanted to tell people, he wanted his life not to be ‘before’ and ‘after’ anymore. Telling Rachel had been something he really needed to do, and now he couldn’t wait to tell his mom and dad as well. No more hiding or pretending to be anything other than himself, just because it was what he thought everyone else expected of him.
As the truck rounded the corner onto Oxford Street, the crowds on each side of the road cheered joyfully, and he couldn’t have been more thrilled. He started waving and blowing kisses to the crowd, not worrying about dancing too much, because as Hamish had made very clear, it wasn’t really his strong suit anyway.
What a thrill! He really couldn’t believe that little Patty Brewer from Ontario was on a pride float. He laughed. Every now and again, he wiggled a little and did some spins. He started getting into it.
The song shifted again.
I'm spinning around, move out of my way
I know you're feeling me 'cause you like it like this
I'm breaking it down, I'm not the same
I know you're feeling me 'cause you like it like this
Patrick chuckled at the words of the song that he’d become very familiar with, due to the frequency at which Hamish played it – and how often it was played at every gay club in the city, too. The truck kept moving along Oxford Street and as the Colombian came into view, he thought back to all the nights he'd had there, and all the men he'd seduced. It had played centre stage to his sexual awakening. He was so glad that he had done it and gone through that phase. It had shown him such a different side of himself that he had never tapped into, and knowing that he had accepted his extremely sexual side was a really big deal. He loved knowing that particular side of himself had finally been uncovered. It was like he had shirked off the heteronormative and safe ideals of his old world, and found a sex positive world. Again, another misconception he had about himself; he’d always thought he wasn’t a very sexual being. How wrong he was.
However, what he wanted now was a loving relationship. He was ready. He wanted what Tim and Andy had. Hell, he wanted what his mom and dad had. The idea of picking someone up for a night of fun all of a sudden had no appeal, he was done was that phase. And David had been the catalyst.
David with his raven eyes and hair, his long legs and gorgeous smile, his quick wit and teasing humour. The way he moved gracefully through the world.
The song changed again.
I just can't get you out of my head
Boy, your lovin' is all I think about
I just can't get you out of my head
Boy, its more than I dare to think about
He giggled to himself; the song changes felt like they were tapping into his subconscious. It felt significant and telling. He really couldn’t get David out of his head. He had never felt like this about anyone before, and he was definitely going to find him. He hoped that when David returned to New York, he wouldn’t fall back into Sebastien’s circle. He hoped that Hamish was right, and that Sebastien had been arrested and that kept him out of David’s life.
They were coming up to Taylor Square, which was a giant intersection, and the focal point of the whole parade. It was where the television crews were doing all their interviews, and the camera crews were set up. He started waving out at the crowd and blowing kisses again. Taking in the crowds, he saw people dressed in head-to-toe rainbows, people who he thought had the look of proud moms and dads, people of all races and orientations. This was mind blowing. He was so glad he decided to have this once in a lifetime experience. There were people with placards, cheering people on, some with specific names and….
What, wait… Was that his name? Patrick narrowed his eyes to stare further into the crowds.
There in the neatest black script, on a piece of plain brown cardboard that had clearly been salvaged from a grocery box somewhere, above the heads of a couple of shiny rainbow people, was a placard that just said, GO PATRICK!
He followed the arms of the hands that held it and… it couldn’t be? Could it?
The sign started to jostle, and the people in front of it started to grimace and look behind themselves, moving apart to let through…
“DAVID!?” he shouted loudly, a couple of his float-mates looked over to him, trying to follow his line of sight.
David was gesturing to the people in front of him, and then pointed to Patrick, and the people flanking him looked from David, to Patrick, and back again. Realization hit them, so they let him to the front of the barricades which were stopping people from being able to charge the parade route. Once they realised the intention behind what he was doing, the crowd around David started yelling Patrick’s name, and waving their arms trying to get his attention. Like David didn’t already have it….
David looked up and saw that Patrick was staring straight at him, and he smiled, the brightest toothiest grin, before shrugging and shouting, “I couldn’t leave!” with his free hand to the side of his mouth.
Patrick was grinning like a crazy person. David was here. He didn’t go, he came to the parade! He looked over the edge of the truck. Wasn’t that far. He could do it. The truck was only moving at a snail’s pace. He was going to do it.
He looked up at David, who had clearly worked out what he was planning, and started waving his hands across each other, signalling ‘no don’t jump!’. As if Patrick could stay up on the truck now knowing David was down there. He crouched down at the edge of the truck, held onto the edge and jumped, using his hold on the truck to ease his descent. He kept moving as he landed so he could deal with the velocity of the truck and landing in a crouching position. When he was sure he was steady, he stood up, everybody in his vicinity taking a collective breath when they knew he was okay.
He laughed, and ran towards David. He didn’t really care what anyone else was thinking or seeing. When he was a few metres away from David he screamed over the noise of the crowd, “You stayed!”
“I did,” David replied, smirking and nodding.
And that was all the time Patrick needed to be close enough to put his hand around the back of David’s head and pull him in for a blistering kiss. A loud cheer rose up from the crowd in the immediate vicinity, and Patrick pulled back, laughing, only then realizing there were tears running down his own face.
“Hey,” Patrick said softly, not really believing this was actually happening.
“Hey,” came David’s soft reply.
Patrick laughed a wet and emotional laugh. He blinked a few times and wiped his face before asking David, “Want to come to a party?”
“Yes, please.” David answered, wiping his face with the sleeve of his shirt.
“Stay with me until you go?” Patrick asked hopefully.
“Stay with me?” David countered.
Patrick chuckled and shook his head… “We’ll figure it out.” they leaned in to kiss again, both smiling and it there were too many teeth involved for it to be good, but it didn’t matter.
“Your ride is almost leaving…” David jutted out his chin toward the truck that had started to turn the corner into Flinders Street.
“Okay, meet me at our house?” Patrick raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t remember where it is,” David said, shrugging.
“Text me? Do you still have my number?” Patrick asked.
“Of course. I put it in my phone that first day,” David admitted, and Patrick smiled a soft smile, shaking his head.
“Okay! I better…” and gestured over his shoulder to the truck, pecked David quickly on the lips, and ran back. Patrick waved his arms at the driver to get his attention, who stopped, and he used the passenger side door to get back on to the bed of the truck.
Once Patrick said a heartfelt, but very brief farewell to his fellow lifesavers, and new buddies, he pulled on his cargo shorts and sad t-shirt from his backpack and slipped them on over the top of his Speedos and he was off, he just needed to get home, and back to David.
Barging in the door of his share house, which was not locked, there were already quite a few people. The house opened to a hallway and he could hear Katie was already spinning on the decks. The party was set up in the main living area which was an open plan lounge room, leading into the dining room and kitchen. Katie was set up in the front window and had her entourage of four to five uber cool young women around her. Josh and Chris were talking to friends of theirs, Megan and Lynne, that he’d met before. He waved to them all, scanning a few other groups of people congregated, some of whom he recognised, others not so much. However there was only one person he was looking for, and standing in the back, holding a glass of white wine and chatting animatedly with Tim and Andy, was David.
He hadn’t really paid attention to what David was wearing at the parade, but Jesus, he was a vision; absolutely stunning in a graphic t-shirt, shorts that looked like a skirt and some very chunky boots. David was like a runway model and he felt like a slob in comparison. He wondered if he should go upstairs and change before he went over to him.
But then David noticed him and they locked eyes and the way David’s face lit up, he knew it didn’t matter. Before he even was aware of what he was doing he was right there with him, kissing him on the cheek in greeting.
“Pat-trick!” Andy cheered, clearly a glass or two in, “How was your parade?” Giving a little shimmy and raising his eyebrows.
Tim laughed and continued for him, “David said you gave the good people of Taylor Square a bit more than they bargained for, jumping off a moving truck and making out in front of all of Australia’s news teams…”
“Wait, what?!” Patrick shouted in reply
“Oh yeah, you made the broadcast, Patsy!” Andy said with a laugh.
“Oh my god! Seriously?” Patrick was dumbstruck.
“I mean, it’s from behind so basically you can see your ass, and the back of your head kissing David in the crowd, yes, for about ten seconds of the broadcast… But yes!” Andy clearly thought the whole thing was hysterical.
“They didn’t catch your stuntman roll off the truck!” Tim added, also chuckling.
Patrick rubbed his face with his hands, groaning.
“At least it’s a spectacular ass, honey…” David said, rubbing his arm, soothingly. When Patrick dropped his hands, David was biting his lip and his dimple had popped, his eyes sparkling.
“So! I need a drink, and then do you want to come upstairs with me? I might just need to put on something a bit nicer than what I’m wearing, and you can tell me how it is that you are still here?”
“Sure. Pleasure to meet you again, Tim and Andy. I’m sure this time, I’ll remember it.” He winked at them both, and they chuckled softly as Patrick and David headed upstairs.
They held hands as they walked up the stairs, they held hands as they entered the room, they held hands as Patrick pulled him in and said in a whisper, “How are you still here?” before he kissed him soundly, revelling in the feeling of holding him in his arms.
David sighed and stepped away to perch on the edge of the bed. "Alexis called me while I was in the car on the way to the airport," he said while looking at the ground. "Sebastien got arrested, and then deported." He looked up to gauge Patrick's reaction to the news.
"So that wasn't just a rumour," Patrick replied and sat down next to him to hold his hand.
"How did you hear?" David asked, furrowing his brow.
Patrick shrugged and said, "Hamish."
"Of course," David was nodding, face relaxing. "Anyway, I got into the airport and started thinking about how shitty Sebastien was, and how shitty my life is, and that you've been the brightest spark in my life in a long time. You have been nothing but kind to me and you are…. Well, I like hanging out with you. And of course, people kept telling me I couldn’t miss the parade." David pursed his lips in a way that Patrick could tell he was using to hold onto his smile.
Patrick smiled warmly at David and leaned over to kiss him gently, then stood up and pulled his t-shirt over his head while waiting for the rest of the story. “I still need to get changed,” he said looking at the face David was pulling. “And did you enjoy the parade?”
“I think you know for a fact I enjoyed the parade. Do you expect me to just sit and talk to you while you are getting undressed?” asked David, raising one eyebrow and grinning into one side of his mouth.
“Yep!” Patrick said while he dropped his pants. “How long do I have you for?”
“Three more days,” David said as his eyes trailed down Patrick’s body.
“You extended?!” Patrick’s enthusiasm was not subtle, he knew he was beaming at the news.
“Yes, but I have to meet with the next artist. His exhibition is bumping in next Thursday. It was the latest I could push it. I’m going to be jet lagged to shit but…” he said watching Patrick as he dropped his Speedos and started to pull on his Tom Ford briefs.
“But what, David?” Patrick was trying to keep a straight face, but David’s face was so expressive, it was very, very hard.
David’s eyes were on his cock and he licked his lips.
“No, we have to go down to the party!” Patrick started to laugh, and wobble on his one leg as he lifted the other to get into his briefs.
“Do we though?” David cocked his eyebrow at Patrick as he was walking forward. “I could just…” and he fell to his knees directly in front of Patrick.
Patrick knew he was powerless to resist.
After a speedy but still mind-altering blow job, where David had pulled out his own cock and made himself come before Patrick even had the chance to register what was going on, they were back downstairs at the party, albeit twenty minutes later. Patrick knew they still needed to have a proper conversation, but for now he was happy. He had three more days with David, it was Mardi Gras, he'd been on a FLOAT. His ass had been on TV! It was all enough for today. He could worry about the rest tomorrow.
Patrick wanted to introduce David to everyone, so they made the rounds of the party. People were drinking, Katie was killing it with her music selection and people were dancing. If it wasn’t Mardi Gras, Patrick was sure the police probably would have been called by now to tell them to keep it down. The party was wild and raucous in the best possible way. Just after midnight, Hamish slunk in with Killian and Marco. They’d been working a corporate event for Mardi Gras, but they had promised at least one song once they got to the party. They were ready to go and they headed straight over to Katie, who started turning the music down, which slowed most people and got them to pay attention.
“Hello my Darlings,” Ivana shouted over the raucous room. She didn’t even need a microphone; she just commanded the room. People started whooping and there were a few wolf whistles. Marcy and Peggy flanked her, and were leaning in as they shouted together in a well-rehearsed routine, “Happy Mardi Gras!”
Everyone clapped and cheered, yelling happy Mardi Gras back to them.
“We have had a pretty dramatic week, even for a bunch of Drama Queens!” She winked at Patrick who was standing off to the side. “We even got to meet her Royal Highness, Miss Minogue!” More whoops and cheers from the crowd. “And as all of you decided that coming to our humble little party was a bigger draw than that giant party, we decided that the least we could do was give you a little bit of Kylie tonight. And PS, she is charming as fuck, so suck it, we met her and you didn’t.” The room burst out laughing and Katie started the Kylie track they had selected.
Thought that I was going crazy
Just having one of those days, yeah
Didn't know what to do
Then there was you
And everything went from wrong to right
And the stars came out, filled up the sky
The music you were playing really blew my mind
It was love at first sight
'Cause, baby, when I heard you
For the first time, I knew
We were meant to be as one
“Patrick,” David said softly.
“Yes, David?” Patrick smiled at him. He was so fucking happy right now.
“Would you like to come back to the hotel with me?” David raised his eyebrows twice suggestively.
“You know I do,” Patrick smirked. “I just want to have a minute with Hamish.”
“You mean Ivana?” David said with a cheeky smirk.
“Don’t you start!” Patrick said and kissed him to shut him up.
Patrick was standing at to the side of the party with David, watching his friends entertain the crowd, and he was sure that Hamish had pulled out this song just for him. David had been on Patrick’s mind since the minute he met him, regardless of whether or not it was love at first sight, there was a pull towards him, even when he hadn’t wanted there to be. Even when he thought he was just a pretentious asshole with gorgeous long legs.
Ivana and her crew wound up their performance and Ivana took back control of the show. She was such a performer. “Thank you, thank you, thank YOU! We have had an amazing time tonight, but we love performing for our nearest and dearest the most. Case in point…. that song was for you, Patsy!” Ivana yelled at him while pointing him out in the crowd.”
AA giant ”Woo hoo” came from everyone at the party, and Patrick could feel himself blushing from the tips of his ears down. He hid behind David and rested his head on his shoulder. “Patsy was supposed to marry a WOMAN today!” Cheering came from the rest of the party, “But luckily for us, he ran away to come and join our Big Gay Circus, and dick half of Sydney. And he still managed to end up with the prettiest girl at the ball! Happy Mardi Gras, you slutty baby gay!”
David was laughing and turned his head to look at him, biting on his lips and Patrick couldn’t help but kiss his shoulder.
“You ready?” Patrick asked David, “I was going to stay and chat to Hamish, I think I need to get out of here before I am roasted further… I remember what happened to the last boyfriend of yours that Ivana roasted… You’ve got a glass of champagne and everything…” Patrick laughed at his own joke.
“Oh, you think I’m your boyfriend now, do you?” David said with a purse of his lips and a slight eyebrow raise.
Oh fuck. “I mean…” Patrick started. Shit, he was going to scare him off before they even started. But then he realised, he may as well lean into it now, he’d said it. He did want him to be his boyfriend. Was it too early? Sure. But did he want it? Definitely.
“I know we have… a lot to discuss… but…” he pulled David around so they were face to face, put one hand on his hip and ran the other hand down his bicep. “If you remember correctly, I believe I said I’d be open, to, well…. pretty much anything with you.”
David’s face just lit up and no matter how hard he seemed to be trying, he couldn’t stop the warm smile that was overtaking his face. “Okay, Patrick,” David said as he nodded. “I think we might need to go back to my hotel and sort out the details, but I am open, to entertaining your offer.”
“Great,” Patrick mumbled as he pulled him in to kiss him again. He just could not get enough of this man. He knew he was so fucked. They only had three more days together for now, and he wanted to make the most of them. “I just need to go pack a bag for the next three days.” They started kissing again. Unfortunately, turning your back on a drag queen was like turning your back on the ocean.
“Hey you two!” Ivana called out to them, “Get a room!” and there were cat calls and laughter throughout the crowd.
David pulled back from Patrick, cleared his throat and turned around to smile at the drag queen. “We have one, Darling… and we are planning on going to use it. See you all in three days!” David said with a giant grin and a flourish, grabbing Patrick’s hand and pulling him up the stairs.