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Free to be Okay

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"My fiancé," Patrick murmurs, and David can feel the smile pressed against his cheek, the bare chest pressed against his own, hot, flushed, and sweaty. Patrick's fingers slot between his where thick bands of gold now rest.

"Was it really the easiest decision of your life?" David blurts out, unable to stop his thoughts becoming sounds, like a tiny anxiety-demon taking up residence on his shoulder and constantly forcing words from his mouth.

Fuck.

Patrick's hand stills, and David bites his lip so hard he tastes blood as he grimaces, thinking of how to best fill this painful silence.

"Fuck. Sorry, I—ugh," David groans, burying his face in his hands, the sting of cool metal coming from his left hand for the first time instead of his right. "Fuck."

He peeks an eye back open as Patrick pulls his hand out of David's underwear, curling up beside him and pulling the covers up over them. Patrick's looking at him like—

David closes his eyes again and scrunches up his face in another grimace. It's the I know my parents are good people look.

"Of course it is, David. I—I just—what?" Patrick's voice trails off.

"I'm not exactly the answer to anyone's prayers," David chokes out a laugh, halfhearted and wet. "Hardly marriage material."

"David, you're—you answered everything for me," Patrick cards a hand through David's flattened hair, settling at the nape of his neck. "All the unknowns, the doubts, the heartbreak, it led me to you. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted before I met you, David. And now that I've met you, I never want to go another day without you in my life."

"Doesn't mean you had to propose to me," David pouts, his brain determined to be petulant.

"Okay, maybe I didn't have to, but I really, really, really wanted to," Patrick murmurs with a soft smile, latching onto his favorite spot on David's neck. "You think I'd propose to you if I didn't mean it? If I didn't want to spend my life with you?"

David gives him an involuntary pained look, and Patrick's face falls into a sullen expression of sudden realization.

"It—it's not—" David falters, taking a pause for a shuddery breath. "It's not about Rachel."

"It sounds like it is about Rachel."

"Okay, maybe it's a little bit about Rachel."

"Proposing to Rachel was the hardest decision of my life. The worst decision of my life. Do you know what I said to myself that night?" Patrick can barely get the words out, and why the fuck is David doing this to his fiancé when they'd been about to celebrate their engagement?

"No," David whispers, ready to shrivel up into this blanket.

"I thought I might as well just die." Patrick's voice wobbles, as if it's barely holding itself together. "I thought my life is over. Maybe it looked good on paper but I was just living in pain."

A harsh stinging grows in David's eyes, nose, the back of his throat. Tears well beneath his scrunched eyelids and he can practically feel his sinuses clogging. The thought of Patrick, his Patrick, his fiancé, feeling so hopeless, so stuck—

"David, sweetheart, can you look at me?" Patrick's voice comes quiet but determined this time.

A few tears slide out of each eye as David opens them, leaving a wet trail down each of his temples before hitting the pillow under his head. He turns onto his side with a choked sob, where Patrick still gazes at him with that same expression, swiping David's tears with his thumb.

David looks. Patrick asked him to look. Patrick's broad chest sticks out from under the duvet, his head resting on a sturdy bicep, but he looks absolutely broken. Shattered.

"I barely have words for the things you make me feel, David," Patrick chokes out a soggy laugh. "I—I never thought it could be like this. I never thought I'd love someone the way I love you. And I will spend the rest of our lives making sure you believe it."

David shamelessly leans into the drag of Patrick's hand along his cheek, over his shoulder, down to his hip. The rest of our lives. He gets to be Patrick's husband for the rest of their lives.

A jumble of thoughts and a whirlwind of emotions rattle around in his mind, but this time all that comes out is, "I'm sorry."

"You don't have to apologize for having feelings, baby," Patrick plants a lush kiss on his forehead. "If I have to spend every day of our marriage earning and keeping your trust, I—you know I will, David."

"It's just—mmm," David stews, pressing his lips together before his brain forces any more haphazard words out. "How is that fair? That I'm so much, that I'm so damaged that you feel you need to work every day to earn my trust like I'm some sort of flighty, highly-fashionable hummingbird?!"

Patrick ponders for a moment, but the usual glint has returned to his warm, whiskey eyes.

"Do you know how many people have told me you're 'out of my league'?" Patrick forces out a halfhearted chuckle. "That I had better 'watch out' for the next beautiful or rich or connected person who comes to town and sweeps you off your feet? And you think that doesn't cause me the tiniest bit of anxiety?"

David fists his hands in anger at this hypothetical intruder, and anyone who dared say that to his boyfr—fiancé. Though, he's willing to bet at least 87% of the comments are from Ronnie. Which, fair.

"That is fucking ridiculous and I will personally chastise anyone—"

"All these things you're feeling," Patrick cuts him off, rubbing soothing circles into each of David's clenched fists. "That's how I feel when you're worried I'd leave you for being 'too much.' It's fucking ridiculous."

"...Oh," David breathes, blinking a couple times in recognition as his brain buffers. "That's—yeah."

"Can we just agree that neither of us is leaving the other and that we'll work to build trust together?" Patrick's face begins to creep back into a smile, using that matter-of-fact tone that's pulled David out of many a spiral.

"Mmhmm. Yep. I'd like that," David feels that familiar warmth deep in his bones, and not just because he's trapped under a comforter with Patrick "Human Sauna" Brewer. He snakes an arm over Patrick's side again, then up his back. "I'm—you make me feel...free to be okay. Safe. Loved."

Maybe not as eloquent as Patrick's words, but, at its core, that's what makes Patrick different than almost every other person from his old life. David inhales against Patrick's skin, where traces of newly-formed sweat combine with the lavender shea butter body wash he's kept stocked in Patrick's shower.

"Well, I love how much you are, because I love you for you, David," Patrick murmurs, pressing a kiss to his cheek. "I love that you have a sweater budget sorted by material, and I love the little gray hairs in your eyebrows and your gooey face when you're happy for your loved ones. And I love that you order extra fries with our lunches but eat the extras on the way over and then 'share' the rest with me and—"

"Mkay, as much as I know you're enjoying this I think it's a little late in the day for character assassination," David gripes, but the smile tugging at his lips definitely gives him away.

"Well," Patrick shifts so they're fully pressed together again, looking up through those unfairly gorgeous eyelashes with a faux-innocent expression. "Is it too late in the day for my fiancé to fuck me?"

"Mm, I was actually thinking about fucking my future husband, but I'm sure we can come to a compromise."