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David drummed his fingers on the bar, waiting for the scruffy bartender to finish his and Patrick’s drinks. He already had some serious concerns about the cleanliness of the glasses—based on the state of the bar, he didn’t have a lot of confidence in the establishment’s cleaning standards—but he was trying to be a good sport. This was, of course, the only gay bar within reasonable driving distance of Schitt’s Creek, and Patrick had been hinting to David for weeks that he wanted to check it out before David finally stopped pretending to not be understanding said hints. David was valiantly trying out the whole “compromise” thing that Patrick was so fond of.

Scruffy Bartender finally returned with the drinks and shoved them across the bar to David, his eyes not leaving the waifish little blond perched at the other end of the bar. “Aren’t you supposed to, like, be a professional or something?” David asked with a huff, taking the drinks and turning to leave Scruffy to flirt his little heart out.

David had to push through a few people before the corner booth he’d left Patrick in was visible. He stopped in his tracks when he saw that Patrick wasn’t alone. Very not alone, in fact. The beefy, curly-haired man wearing a skintight tank and even tighter jeans was practically sitting in Patrick’s’ lap. One muscular arm was draped across the back of the booth, ever so casually brushing Patrick’s broad shoulders, and David swore he could see the man’s teeth glinting from where he was.

“Well I’m not loving this,” David muttered to himself, earning him a curious glance from a man brushing past him to get to the bar. David’s grip on the drinks tightened a bit as the curly haired Casanova leaned in close to Patrick to whisper something in his ear. This is the part where Patrick pushes him away, David thought to himself, still unable to take another step forward. His heart clenched when Patrick didn’t push the man away, but instead threw his head back and laughed, looking up at the guy with the smile David liked to think was reserved only for him.

This was ten times worse than it had been watching Patrick flirt with Ken at the store all those months ago. David thought he and Patrick were on the same page now. He was certain that Patrick had seen right through his claim to being “easy either way” when Patrick had confessed to not wanting to see other men. Didn’t the way that David had clung to Patrick in the doorway and the way he’d kissed him deeply, slowly, passionately before making love to him once they’d returned to Patrick’s apartment communicate that David encouraging Patrick to go on a date with Ken was a moment of brief insanity?

Had Patrick changed his mind? David bit his lip just thinking about the possibility. His anxieties and insecurities began to clamor to the surface full force and he began running through the gamut of thing he might have done to make Patrick tire of him. Was it his selfishness? Was it because he’d feigned ignorance for weeks when Patrick was hinting at wanting to check out the bar? Was it because David didn’t say “I love you” nearly as freely as Patrick did?

In a moment of vulnerability a few weeks ago, David had asked Patrick if it bothered him that he wasn’t as verbally affectionate as Patrick was. Cocooned together, bare skin touching from head to foot, David had only been able to ask because Patrick’s head was nestled on his chest and he wasn’t looking him in the eye. But of course, the moment the words had slipped out—almost involuntarily, really—Patrick had shifted, moving his chin to rest on David’s chest so that he could look his boyfriend in the eye. “No, it doesn’t bother me,” Patrick had said softly. “I won’t lie and say I don’t love hearing it, because I do, but I know you love me even when you don’t say it. I know it’s not easy for you to say, and that makes it even more special when you do. I just want you exactly as you are, David.”

In the moment, David had beamed the way only Patrick could make him beam and hauled Patrick up closer so that he could kiss him properly before whispering, “I love you, Patrick” and tightening his arms around him. Now, though, David had to wonder if Patrick was being fully sincere. He didn’t think that Patrick would intentionally lie to him or give him part of the truth, but he couldn’t help but worry that at the time, Patrick himself didn’t realize that he needed more than what David could give him and that now that he was surrounded by beautiful, flirtatious men, he was truly seeing for the first time how many other options were out there.

David took a deep breath to attempt to compose himself (it was only about 55 percent successful) and walked the rest of the way to the booth. “Well,” he said, sliding in on Patrick’s other side and pushing Patrick’s beer toward him, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be getting drinks for three.”

Patrick turned and smiled at David, giving him a quick peck on the cheek and taking a sip of his beer. “Thanks, David. This is Colton,” he said, nodding toward Beefy McBeeferson, who, David had not failed to notice, had not made even the slightest effort to put some space between himself and Patrick.

“I’m sure it is,” David said with a sniff, taking a sip of his own drink and refusing to acknowledge this Colton character any further.

“David,” Patrick said chidingly, “you don’t need to be rude.”
“Well apparently Colton here doesn’t need to learn anything about personal space, either, so…” David knew he was probably embarrassing Patrick to some extent but couldn’t find it in him to put on a nice face. This is what he did when he was feeling hurt or insecure: he lashed out and dialed the snark up to a ten to mask his true feelings.

Patrick, of course, knew this about David, and it only took a second for his face to soften. He scooted away from Colton—who had yet to say a word; he was just watching David and Patrick with an expression of predatory amusement on his face—and closer to David. “You okay?” Patrick asked quietly, squeezing David’s thigh.

Patrick’s touch almost soothed the roiling emotions right out of David, but when David lifted his gaze from the table to look Patrick in the eye, he saw Colton on Patrick’s other side, grinning and moving to close the space between him and Patrick back up.

“I need some air,” David said, sliding out of Patrick’s reach and standing. A tiny flicker of hurt flashed across Patrick’s face, but David couldn’t stop himself from pushing his way through the small crowd to the door. He felt a prickle of tears when the cool air hit his face outside and he shook his head, trying to both clear his thoughts and ward away the stupid tears. David Rose did not cry in the parking lots of grungy bars filled with horny peasants. He just didn’t.

He walked several meters from the door and sat down on a raised cement embankment, resting his arms on his knees and burying his head in his hands. Somewhere in the back of his mind niggled the thought that the cement he was sitting on was probably filthy and that he was in grave danger of ruining his clothes.

“Aren’t you worried about your pants?”

David’s head jerked up at the sound of Patrick’s voice. Patrick was standing a few feet away, his hands in his back pockets, looking a cross between sheepish and frustrated.

“Yes, that’s David Rose—always worried about his wardrobe and nothing else,” David replied, going for breezy but instead just sounding tired and hurt.

Patrick crossed over to David and sat down next to him, one arm snaking around David’s waist. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he said softly. “I’m sorry.”

David heaved a shuddering breath. “I know,” he admitted in a small voice. He opened his mouth to say something else, but closed it again, not sure where to even begin.

They sat in silence for a minute, Patrick’s arm still around David, David staring resolutely at his shoes. “I don’t want Colton,” Patrick said finally. “I don’t want to kiss him or dance with him or go home with him. You know that, right?”

“He certainly wants you,” David said, still looking at the ground. “And you didn’t seem too upset about him being all over you and whispering in your ear and making you laugh.”

Patrick sighed. “I know.”

David waited, thinking that Patrick would continue, but the silence stretched between them. The door to the bar opened and two men stumbled out, hands roaming over each other’s bodies as they made their way to a car, stopping several times to kiss each other along the way. David watched as the car pulled out of the parking lot. It wasn’t until the tail lights were mere specks down the road that he spoke again. “I was afraid—am afraid—you’d changed your mind.”

“Changed my mind? About loving you? David, that’s not something you just change your mind about.”

“No, not about that,” David said, avoiding even saying the word love, afraid that he’d somehow jinx it if he did. He inhaled sharply before slowly continuing. “After the whole Ken thing, you said you weren’t interested in seeing other guys ‘right now.’ You said ‘right now’ and it’s not ‘right now’ anymore, and I thought you changed your mind.”

Patrick started to say something, but David cut him off. “And I know I’m the one who encouraged you to spread your gay wings or whatever, but I only said it because I was afraid that if I didn’t, you’d grow to resent me for being the reason you didn’t get to have more experiences with other men.” David felt those damn tears pricking at his eyes again, and he paused for a moment to gather himself. “But in reality—in reality the thought of you dating or touching or kissing another man makes me feel…..not okay. And,” he said, his voice breaking just a little bit, “actually seeing you touching and flirting with another man felt even less okay.” David seemed to deflate a little after his speech, and he still refused to look at Patrick.

“David,” Patrick said softly, imploringly. “David, sweetheart, will you please look at me?” He raised the hand that wasn’t on David’s waist to David’s cheek and cupped it softly, not forcing him to turn his head, but silently encouraging him through touch.

After a minute’s hesitation, David gave in and turned to look at Patrick. David’s face was more open and vulnerable than Patrick had perhaps ever seen it before, and it made his heart twist a little before it was filled with a wave of pure love and affection. He couldn’t resist swooping in and kissing him gently. “I shouldn’t have said ‘right now,’” he said softly, his lips barely parting from David’s. “I should have said that for the indefinite future, I have no desire to be with anybody but you, David Rose.”

“But,” David said, his voice thick, “what if it’s not enough for you to only have been with one man. What if….what if I’m not enough.”

Patrick crushed David’s body against his own, one hand on the back of David’s neck, the other gripping David’s sweater. “You are more than enough for me, David. You’re everything I could ever think to ask for.”

“But I’m not!” David persisted. “I’m selfish and stubborn and I hate baseball and I’m not all muscley like Beefcake Colton and—”

David was cut off by Patrick pulling back and kissing him again. “I love you,” Patrick said quietly, “and that’s all that matters. I love you and I want you and you are enough. You’re not holding me back from being with other guys. That’s ridiculous. I am making the choice to not see other guys, because I don’t want to see other guys. I’m not going to resent you for a choice I’m making.”

“But how can you be sure?”

Patrick rested his forehead against David’s, his breath soft against David’s lips. “I’m sure. And I’m sorry about Colton. I’ll admit that I was flattered by the attention, but even though it didn’t mean anything to me, I should have thought about how it would make you feel.”

“I didn’t like you smiling your David smile at him,” David grumbled, a little petulant.

“My David smile?” Patrick asked, an amused grin on his face.

David huffed. “The one you only do when you’re looking at me,” he said so fast that Patrick almost didn’t catch what David had said.

Patrick’s grin grew. “Why David Rose, are you secretly a romantic?” he teased.

“No,” David said quickly, rolling his eyes. “I don’t know where you would even get that idea.”

Patrick smiled—it was his David smile—and leaned in to kiss his boyfriend. This time he lingered, loving the feeling of David’s soft lips and tongue against his own and the way David gasped softly into his mouth when Patrick tugged him closer and deepened the kiss.

They pulled apart, a little breathless, and David caressed Patrick’s cheek. “I love you,” he whispered.

“I love you, too.” Patrick gave David one more quick kiss. “Do you want to go home?”

“Only if you’re ready,” David said, remembering how he was trying to be better at compromise.

“I’m ready.”

The pair stood and, hands laced together, walked to Patrick’s car to go home.