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where's the bathroom?

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Patrick actually had been looking forward to spending the night at the motel, even with the cramped twin size bed, and Alexis in the same room, and the elder Roses next door. Sure, David took up most of the bed with his tendency to spread out and cling to Patrick in his sleep. Sure, Patrick was relegated to the tiny, decorative pillow even though David ended up with his head on Patrick’s shoulder anyway. But the domesticity of it was nice. It filled him with warmth and made him feel like he really belonged with this family.

Of course, that was before he realized that he was going to have to share a bathroom with both David and Alexis.

David’s morning bathroom routine has taken some getting used to. It’s a lot–the shower, all nine steps of his skin care routine, plus the extra several steps for his hair. It’s not uncommon for David to take at least two hours to get ready in the morning. Patrick, on the other hand, despite David’s best efforts, has no skin or hair care routine to speak of; in the morning, he usually just splashes some water on his face after he brushes his teeth and gets on with his day. Since the engagement, David has been spending more nights at his apartment, so Patrick has gotten used to working around David’s morning routine.

He just hadn’t counted on the chaos that is both Rose siblings trying to do their extensive morning routines at the same time, in one tiny bathroom.

“Oh my god, David, can you hurry?” Alexis complains from outside the closed bathroom door. “You’ve been in there for like, four hours!

“It has not been four hours!” David’s voice is muffled by the door but Patrick can still hear the shrill tone he gets when he’s being rushed.

It’s clear that the bickering is normal, practiced. They’ve been having this same fight nearly every morning for the last three years. It’s the kind of harmless sibling battle that makes Patrick wish he’d had siblings growing up. Well, at least he’ll be gaining a sister soon.

David and Alexis’s bickering would almost be cute, except, well. Patrick needs the bathroom, too. And soon. He can usually slip in between steps when it’s just him and David, but Alexis adds another variable that makes that impossible.

“David?” Patrick calls through the door. “Can I, uh, get in there?”

“Can everyone stop rushing me?” David shouts back. “I am the face of Rose Apothecary! I can’t sell our skin care products if I look like I have bags the size of the Kardashian’s third pool under my eyes!”

Patrick rolls his eyes fondly. Of course he forgot to factor in David’s hangover from all the wine he and Mrs. Rose sampled yesterday. His bathroom routine will take twice as long, and he’ll be at least three times more grumpy about it.

“Sorry, button,” Alexis says with an exaggerated pout. “David has to make himself look like he isn’t almost forty.”

“Drink bleach, Alexis!” David yells.

Ugh, David!” Alexis whines.

Patrick laughs. The bickering is endearing, but if he doesn’t get into a bathroom soon, they’ll need to put a rubber sheet on the motel bed, too.

Mr. Rose pops his head around the door, already dressed in his customary grey suit, holding a cup of coffee.

“Good morning, kids!” he says, and even in his current distress, Patrick feels something soft bloom inside him at being included as one of Mr. Rose’s kids. “How is everyone this morning?”

“David won’t let me in the bathroom!” Alexis complains.

“David, share the bathroom with your sister!” Mr. Rose says with the tired air of someone who has been having this same conversation for years.

“Oh my god, I’ll be done when I’m done!”

Mr. Rose shrugs and looks over at Patrick.

“Well, Patrick, he’ll be a while, which I’m sure you know already, since you two have been, you know, spending a lot of nights together,” Mr. Rose says and Patrick can’t help the blush that spreads across his cheeks. “You can use our bathroom if you need to, if, you know, it’s urgent.”

Patrick is almost too desperate to be embarrassed by the conversation he’s having right now. Almost, but not quite. He follows Mr. Rose back into the adjoining room, but Mrs. Rose appears, also fully dressed with her makeup impeccably done.

“John, no! I haven’t quite concluded my morning endeavors in the WC!” she says. “Sorry, dear Pat, I have an extensive regimen for the morning hours.”

“That’s okay, Mrs. Rose,” Patrick says, even though he can’t see what else she could possibly need to do, and it’s very rapidly becoming not okay. “I’ll see if Stevie can let me into one of the other rooms.”

“Oh, sure, sure, Patrick,” Mr. Rose says. “Stevie’s at the front desk, I’m sure she can help. I think room four is open. Or maybe it’s room five.”

Patrick ducks out of the Roses’ room and hurries down the sidewalk to the office. He seriously considers walking down the street to Ray’s to use his bathroom, but doesn’t think he can put up with the inevitable chatter.

When he enters the office, Stevie is at the desk, her nose buried in a trashy mystery novel. She grins at him when she looks up.

“Good morning, Patrick,” she says. “You look…well-rested.”

“Hey, Stevie,” Patrick replies. “Can I, uh, use one of the other bathrooms? Mr. Rose said room four or five was available?”

Stevie’s grin gets even wider, clearly enjoying his predicament a little too much.

“David and Alexis hogging the bathroom?”

“Yes, and I really need to use it.”

“You’ll have to pay for a night.”

“Stevie, please.

“I’ll give you the friends and family discount. Cash or credit?” she says, still grinning maniacally at him. She hands him the key to room five anyway. “Don’t make a mess!” she calls after him as he all but runs out of the office.

Teeth brushed and needs taken care of, Patrick returns the key to Stevie.

“You know, this is what you signed up for, marrying him,” she says as she hangs the key back on the pegboard behind her.

“For what?” Patrick asks.

“This.” She gestures in the direction of the Roses’ rooms. “All of them.”

“I’m only marrying David, Stevie, not his whole family.”

“Yeah, but they’re weirdly symbiotic now. They’re like a package deal.”

Patrick considers this. He knows she’s right, even if neither David nor Alexis will ever admit it. The years in the motel have changed them, molded them into a family in a way that they never were before. It’s unconventional, but it’s still a family. And he knows that even though Stevie hasn’t mentioned it, she’s part of that family, too. Patrick signed up to have them all in his life, and honestly, when he thinks about it, he’s pretty damn happy about it.

“Can I show you something?” he asks Stevie, pulling his phone out of his pocket.

“That depends,” she answers. “Is it gross?”

“I wouldn’t do that, Stevie.”

“David would.”

Patrick chuckles, but he can’t dispute that. David would, and probably has.

He pulls up the listing for 845 Elm Valley Road on his phone. He’s spent countless hours staring at the pictures of the cottage, imagining his and David’s life together there. When David first pointed out the cottage as they drove by, he thought it was nice, but he wasn’t convinced it was the right place for them. By the fourth time, he was sure he had to find a way to buy it.

He passes the phone over to Stevie, who takes it and stares at it for a long moment. When she looks up, her expression is soft in a way that it rarely is.

“What’s this?” she asks, her voice oddly choked, like she already knows the answer.

“It’s the house I’m going to buy for David and I,” he says.

Stevie claps her hand over her mouth and Patrick could swear there are tears in her eyes.

“Has David seen this?”

“He said it looks like Kate Winslet’s cottage in the Holiday,” Patrick answers, nodding. “I haven’t told him that I’m going to buy it yet, though. Don’t mention it to him, okay?”

“I’m happy for you,” Stevie says, wiping at her eyes.

“Thank you, Stevie. That means a lot.” And it does. He doesn’t have the words to express how much her approval, as David’s person, means to him.

“How many bathrooms does it have?”

“Three, plus the guesthouse.”

“You know that still won’t be enough.”

One year (and a few months) later

“Okay, so we have Stevie and Alexis in the upstairs guestroom, and my parents in the downstairs guestroom,” Patrick says, passing David the ribbon for him to put the finishing touches on the gift he’s wrapping. “And then your parents will be in the guesthouse.”

“You mean my studio,” David says with a pout.

“Baby, we talked about this. It was either that or we give up the master, and you refused to do that.”

“I know,” David sighs heavily. Since they converted part of the guesthouse into an art studio in the spring, David has been getting back into drawing and painting, but he’s not ready to show anyone other than Patrick his work yet. Having the Roses stay in the guesthouse means that David had to spend several days carefully packing away his work, and he’s been bitter about it ever since.

“It’s going to be fine, David.”

David ties the last ribbon with delicate, precise fingers and looks around the cottage living room.

“I can’t believe they’re all going to be here together,” he says softly. “It’s almost like a real family.”

“It is a real family, David,” Patrick says, pressing a kiss to his husband’s forehead. “It’s our family.”

David hums and looks pleased, tucking himself into Patrick’s side. They should get up and finish getting everything ready, but Patrick wants to savor this moment. To bask in the glow of this beautiful life that they’ve made here together, that they now get to share with their whole family.

It’s going to be perfect.

It’s not until Christmas morning that Patrick, finding himself locked out of all three bathrooms, realizes that Stevie was right.

There’s not enough bathrooms.