It Ain't Hard to Tell You're The Only Thing I Need
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

Teen And Up Audiences
Archive Warning:
No Archive Warnings Apply
Schitt's Creek
Patrick Brewer/David Rose
Patrick Brewer, David Rose (Schitt's Creek), Rachel (Schitt's Creek), Marcy Brewer, Clint Brewer, Johnny Rose, Moira Rose, Alexis Rose, Stevie Budd
Additional Tags:
Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence
Published: 2021-10-17 Completed: 2021-10-26 Words: 25,568 Chapters: 5/5

It Ain't Hard to Tell You're The Only Thing I Need


David and Patrick navigate their relationship in an AU where Clint, Marcy, and Rachel have known from the start

Or: Scenes after my heart was broke, my head was sore (by the incomparable blueink3)

TW: Strong language


Title from the Noah Reid song Hold On

my heart was broke, my head was sore really stuck with me after a read, because it struck me as a much healthier foundation for a relationship than even what we saw on the show, and got me thinking about how things would play out differently if Patrick had stopped hiding from the beginning: If Clint and Marcy had always known (and saw him and David more often), if Rachel had known and gradually befriended David, and if David and Patrick had been (even more) emotionally bonded early on through their trial by fire.

I don't pretend to be nearly as talented a writer as blueink3, but I hope I've managed to do it some justice.

Reading the original fic beforehand is highly recommended. This work includes (many) references to that work, and aims for consistency within its boundaries. (Although both the original and this work are obviously huge divergences from canon immediately after 3x13.)

This chapter: Seeing how David knowing Patrick's parents, but Patrick not really knowing David's, would change their dynamic. Also more Brewer House, because Marcy is everything.

The Parents

"But they're so soft!" David doesn't mean to pout, but Patrick seems so amused by whatever's going on with his face that he's glad he did.

"Health hazard," Patrick repeats as he pulls another jar of moisturizer out of the box on the counter and sets it on the display.

"But you're allergic and you don't have a problem with them."

"I'm only mildly allergic, David. A lot of people have much stronger cat allergies." The look on Patrick's face is still teasing, but David knows he's serious now.

He scrunches his face together. "Fine. What if we stocked antihistamines? Next to the scarves? Well, not next to the scarves. In the store. In the back. With the plungers. It could be like a candy bowl that we pull out for trick or treaters, but where those trick or treaters are puffy people with swollen faces."

Patrick opens his mouth to respond but they're interrupted by Patrick's phone. He pulls it out, and by the brief look of panic that crosses his face, David guesses that it's Marcy. Even though Clint was recovering extremely well, Patrick still seems to be spooked by how close he'd come to losing his father.

David's also pretty sure he'd looked up Angioplasty and Stents again, Patrick's constant need to stay informed in this case doing more harm than good.

"Mom?" Patrick's voice cracks, and David can't hear the response, but it must not be bad news because relief immediately washes over Patrick's face. "Oh. That's great. Yeah."

David returns his attention to folding the sweaters, keeping Patrick in the corner of his eye.

"You're welcome." He swings his phone slightly so he can talk to David. "They say thank you again for the gift basket, David."

"Hi Marcy!" he says back, and Marcy must say something about him because Patrick's face seems to melt as he stares at David with that look of adoration that he doesn't think he'll ever get enough of.

"No, you can just... you know, this might be easier if I just let David talk to you about it."

Patrick holds out his phone, and David takes it, his chest tightening for some reason. He and Marcy haven't spoken since he'd picked Patrick up a few days ago, and he knows she adores him, but it's still a lot to be talking to her again.

In-laws, Patrick mouths, a smirk on his face, and even though David gives him the finger, there's also a warmth in his heart from the words. From knowing there's even a small part of him that doesn't mind thinking of them in that way.

He's so fucked.

"Marcy," he says again, his voice flatter than he means.

"David. Sweetheart." Her response is so filled with affection and love that all of the tension in his shoulders immediately disappears. "How are you doing?"

"I'm great. We're great. The store is doing well. Alexis didn't screw anything up too badly, and online sales are continuing to go up." There's pride in his voice, and why shouldn't there be? He and Patrick built this, together.

"That is amazing, David," she says, and he knows she means it as much as she can mean anything.

"It is."

"I wanted to call to thank the two of you for the generous gift basket."

He must be smiling now because Patrick nods and returns to restocking the moisturizers. "You're very welcome."

"I wanted to ask about the bath bombs, though. Should we fill the tub before putting it in? Does the water need to be a certain temperature?"

He spends the next several minutes walking Marcy through proper usage of bath bombs. Patrick's turned away from him now, but his ears are pink and David wonders what about this conversation has him flustered.

He'll have to ask later.

"Well, thank you very much for your help, sweetheart." There's a muffled voice on the other end. "It's David, dear," she says, and he realizes it must be Clint. "Clint sends his love," she says, talking to David again, and his heart threatens to explode out of his chest at it. Love.

"I... it was nice talking to you again." He immediately cringes. That was rude.

"Thank you, dear. Please don't be a stranger. You have our number, so please call us any time, if you need anything, or even if you just want to chat."

"I... I will," he says, and somehow he means it.

"The two of you should visit again, when you have a chance," she says, and even though it should come across like a demand or a request, she somehow makes it sound more like a gift. "We would drive down to see you, but it's not a good idea for Clint to be that far away from home right now."

"Oh my God. No. You absolutely should not be driving him anywhere right now." The thought of Clint staying at the motel in his current condition is, frankly, horrifying.

"I know the two of you are extremely busy with the store, especially having to catch up after last week..."

"Please. It wasn't a problem at all. I'm glad we did." And he really is, not just because of what happened, but because he's still in awe about how vulnerable Patrick was able to be with him. "But you'll have to ask Patrick about that. My car is a family car, and I probably shouldn't drive it myself, and I don't know why I just said that because of course I wouldn't be visiting you by myself. I mean I... you should ask Patrick about driving. To see you. The two of us. To see you."

He stumbles over the words, panicking for some reason about the thought of seeing them again. Marcy should laugh at him, but she doesn't. "I will," she says instead, and such a simple statement shouldn't be able to be so reassuring, and probably wouldn't be, coming from anyone but her.

"Let me... give you back to Patrick." He hands the phone back to Patrick, his ears burning.

"How's dad doing? Is he still..." David hears before Patrick disappears into the back, and he returns to his sweaters.

He finishes the sweaters and handles a couple of customers before Patrick reappears with a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

"How are they?"

"Good. They're good." The hand squeezes. "Dad's grumbling about not being allowed to drink wine, but mom allowed him a steak last night, so he can't complain too much."

"That's... good."

"I should call them more often." David looks over at Patrick, and he's staring off into space, a look of regret on his face. David's pretty sure he knows why. He turns, taking Patrick's shoulders in his hands.

"Honey. I'm going to tell you this for as long as you need to hear it, but you don't need to feel guilty about the time it took you to figure it out. You were so, so brave." He kisses him, quickly, for emphasis. "And they know, now. So stop beating yourself up about it."

Patrick nods, moving closer and wrapping his arms around David's back, and David holds him tightly against his chest.

"They said we should visit." Patrick's voice is slightly muffled against the fabric of his sweater.

"Whenever you want, honey. And if you want to go by yourself at any time, I can run the store by myself for a bit."

Patrick shakes his head. "No. We should visit. Together."

"Then we will. Whenever you think we can." He kisses the top of Patrick's head. "In the meantime, you can call them whenever you want."

Patrick nods against him, but his shoulders seem to relax a bit, and David's glad for that, at least.


"Oh my God. Where is he?" David taps at his phone again, but there's still no message from Patrick. He paces.

"David? Maybe just chill. He's not late yet."

"He was supposed to be here in two minutes, which means he should have arrived three minutes ago, which means he's late. He's never late. What if he's having second thoughts about the date? What if he doesn't like the restaurant I chose?"

"Okay, David? This is like your fifth proper date, and you two are like, stupidly in love with each other. So like..."

"Go boop a grizzly bear, Alexis." He glares at her, intentionally ignoring 'love' and feeling a little guilty when she huffs and dismissively turns back to her book. "Oh my God. What if Patrick is in a ditch somewhere? He drove his car into a ditch and he's unconscious and..."

The sound of laughter from the connecting room interrupts his thoughts, and it's not just his parents'. He opens the door joining the two rooms and pokes his head through.

"David! We were just having a little title-tattle with sweet Pat over here."

Patrick at least has the sense to look guilty, and bites his lip, but he's still way too amused about the whole thing for David's comfort. "Okay, no. We are not doing Pat." David glares at him and motions around the room. "What is this?"

"I got the wrong room. Sorry for the interruption, Mr. and Mrs. Rose."

"Please. The delightment is entirely on us. We must set forth a proposal for a future rendezvous and continue our scintillating discussion."

"Okay. If the two of you are done interrogating my boyfriend, we should go." He words are out before he knows it, and he looks anywhere but Patrick's face.

"I'm sorry. What did you say?"

"I said we should go. We don't want to be late to our reservation."

He expects a quip about how Patrick is never late, but instead there's only silence. He dares a glance at Patrick's face, and he's smirking but there's a softness to it. Boyfriend. They've never actually discussed that term, before.

"Well, then I should go. My boyfriend doesn't like it when we keep his stomach waiting."

Oh. He actually really likes the way that sounds, and it's almost enough to make him forget that he's actually really annoyed at him at the moment.

"Don't we know it. Have a wonderful time, boys." His dad pats Patrick's arm affectionately and he hates it.

David grabs Patrick's arm and drags him back outside without as much as a goodbye to his parents. Patrick seems to be trying not to laugh.

"Okay. What is this?" Patrick leans against the car as David glares at him.

"What is what?" But his mouth is doing that thing and David knows he knows exactly what he's asking.

"You know where I live. You didn't get the wrong room."

Patrick stuffs his hands into his pockets, still amused. "Maybe I just wanted to talk to your parents."

"You've talked to my parents! You talk to my parents every time they visit the store. When we see them around town!"

Patrick looks exasperated. "That's not conversation, David. We exchange pleasantries. They ask about the store, or I ring them up. Then one of us leaves."

"That's still talking!"

Patrick crosses his arms, the teasing gone from his face now. "Wait, this actually bothers you?"

David shakes his head with more force than necessary. "What? No. No. Why would it bother me."

Patrick puts his hands on David's biceps, holding him at arms' length. "David."

"But you're talking. To my parents."

"David, you talked to my mom yesterday! You called my mom yesterday! You were on the phone with her for half an hour."


"So why does it bother you so much when I talk to your parents?"

"It doesn't!" David explodes, wresting himself out of Patrick's grip. "I said it doesn't. Can we go? We're going to be late."

Patrick digs his hands deep into his pockets again and looks at him with resignation. "Fine. Let's go."

The car ride to the restaurant is stiff with smothering silence, and David doesn't dare break it or look over at Patrick.

"I'm sorry." Nope, still not looking.

"For what?"

"I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable by talking to your parents."

"I said..."

"Stop it. David, I..." Patrick's voice is almost sad. He looks over at Patrick as he runs a hand through his hair. "I'm not good at this. At talking about problems."

"Who said there was a problem?"

Patrick grits his teeth. "But I'm trying, because recently I learned that running from your problems only makes things worse and hurts the people that you care about. And it would really help if you wouldn't push things aside when I'm trying." He's actually getting upset now, and David needs to defuse the situation.

"Fine! Yes, it bothers me. Is that what you want to hear?"

Patrick looks over, and David thinks he's looking at him, but then he puts on his signal and pulls the car over to the side of the road, putting it into park before steadying himself against the steering wheel.


David throws up his hands. "I don't know! Why does it matter so much to you?"

"David. Why is it so wrong for me to want to get to know my boyfriend's parents?" There's the word again, and David decides he likes it significantly less in this context.

"It's not!"

"Then why..."

"Jesus! I don't know, okay?!" He's practically yelling, and as he catches his breath, he notices Patrick looks more concerned than upset.

"David..." He reaches out a hand, but David shrugs it off.

"No one I've dated has ever cared about my family, before, okay!? Unless it could make them money or get them a connection to some celebrity or financer or as part of some sick, twisted game of revenge." He refuses to think about Sebastien right now.

"David..." Patrick's voice seems to break.

"They're my... they're my parents. They might not be the best parents, but they're mine. And I'm supposed to protect them. Especially... especially now."

He doesn't realize he's crying until Patrick unbuckles his own seatbelt and leans over, pulling David against him so David can cry into his shoulder and patting the side of his head. "Shh. It's okay."

"It's not though. You... you're not that kind of person."

"I'm not." It's not a question, but David thinks Patrick means it as one anyway.

"You're not. No. You're... good. Kind. And you actually care about me, for some reason I still can't understand." Patrick doesn't say anything to that, but the hand on his head moves to his shoulder instead, reassuring.

"I don't have to meet up with your mom. I can... I can stop talking to them, if you want," he says, finally.

"What, when they come into the store you give them the silent treatment?"

"David." It's quiet but firm, and David knows he's deflecting again.

"No. You don't have to do that. Just..." He stops, and Patrick's hand moves back to his head, stroking his hair gently, and David would complain about how Patrick is messing up his look but he doesn't actually mind. "Why do you want to, so much?"

"I..." David can tell he's fighting the urge to deflect, too. "You've gotten to know my parents, and I'm so happy about that David, I really am, but..."

He trails off, but David thinks he understands anyway. "You don't think it's fair."

Patrick scoffs. "I wouldn't say that."

"You didn't have to."

They're quiet again, and David relaxes into Patrick, letting the soft fingers running through his hair soothe him. "Um. Did we just have our first fight?"

"Maybe. I'm sorry. I didn't realize this was something more than just... embarrassment."

David nods. "I'm sorry too. And you're right. It's not fair that I get to know your parents and you don't get to know mine. So you should talk to them, if you want." He pauses. "Even if I can't understand why you'd want to know my parents."

"Thank you."

Patrick kisses his head and pulls away, and David looks over at him. He's smirking, but also looks actually relieved. "Besides, after a fight you get to have messy make-up sex."

Patrick doesn't respond, but his entire face turns red as he buckles himself back up and pulls the car back onto the road.


"Rachel and I have been talking." David looks over, but Patrick seems to be focusing intensely on the road. Based on how far they are through his Mimi playlist, he figures they only have about an hour left to the Brewers' house.

And as much as he'd been looking forward to this trip, and to seeing them again under significantly better circumstances, now that it's more real and more immediate, he's starting to feel a sense of dread creep in.

"You've told me that. The two of you text." He shifts in his seat, the seat belt suddenly uncomfortable.

"We've started talking on the phone again. We thought we were ready for that."

"Oh." His voice is shaky, and Patrick's hand reaches for his arm and gives it a squeeze.

"Does it bother you that we're talking?"

It does, but he doesn't want to ruin this for Patrick. Patrick, who has just started opening himself back up to his old life and reconnecting with his old friends and his parents.

Since when was he so selfless?


Patrick turns toward him, as if studying his face. "Are you sure?"

David looks away, staring out the window and swallowing the lump in his throat. "I'm sure. It's fine."

Patrick doesn't seem convinced, and the hand on his arm moves to his hand and holds it against his thigh.

"She said she'd like to meet you."

"I know. You told me that already." Oh God, did Patrick mean now? On this trip?

"Not on this trip," Patrick says, and David thinks he must have developed mind-reading powers. "But when you're ready. Maybe once she and I have gotten a little more back into things."

David doesn't want Patrick and Rachel to get back into things, but he swallows this, too. He tries to remember how he was feeling when he'd told Patrick he wanted to meet her too, and was sincere about it.

This, too, is a lot harder when it feels less like an abstract future sometime.

"So, my mom asked what your favorite foods were, and I wasn't sure what to tell her, but I thought we could stop by the grocery store before their house."

David seizes onto the change in subject maybe too enthusiastically. "Are we cooking for them? Because I should warn you that the only thing I've ever made is enchiladas, and those were a mistake."

"You made chili. And peanut butter and jelly sandwiches." And David's heart warms for some reason that Patrick remembers what feels like a lifetime ago, even though he doesn't expect he wouldn't. "But no, we're not cooking for them. She wouldn't allow it. She usually likes to send me home with trays of food, but she had other things on her mind last time."

"I'll say." Like taking care of her husband who just had heart surgery, and spending time with her son she hadn't seen in two months but who she hadn't really known for much longer.

"But I expect she'll do it again this time, so the least we could do is get her the ingredients."

David hums and tries to think of what kinds of things wouldn't be too much of a burden on Marcy to make. "Pizza?"

Patrick smiles his affectionate smile. "You do like pizza. I'm not sure that would transport or reheat very well though, but we could always have it while we're there. So let's add it to the list."

"Who says that? 'Add it to the list.'"

"You do know I have actual lists of things on my phone? And one of them is an actual list of your favorite foods that I meant to ask you about earlier but forgot."

"Oh my God." David has lists too, on his phone, but the fact that Patrick is keeping one (or more than one?) about him feels strangely intimate.

Patrick digs his phone out of his pocket, quickly unlocks it, and hands it to David, open to a Notes app with an empty bulleted list, titled 'David's favorite foods'. "Add it to the list, David."

David cringes, and Patrick smirks, but he dutifully types in the first line. Pizza.


Marcy fusses over him and Patrick from the moment they arrive and immediately sits them down to a plate of fresh-baked cookies and milk before they can even take their bags up to their rooms, and David realizes how much he's missed this.

Clint mostly stands (or really, sits) aside, watching the proceedings approvingly, but his presence contributes a sense of stability David hadn't even realized was missing the first time.

Or maybe that was what Patrick meant. Because that was me, the first time.

"You look a lot better, Mr... Clint," he offers as he finishes off the last bite of his cookie, trying to break the silence after Patrick had left to take their bags upstairs. It's not uncomfortable, but he still feels better when there's conversation.

"'Mr. Clint' has a nice ring to it." The corner of his eyes crinkle and it puts David at ease again. "But thank you. I feel a lot better. I attribute my recovery to the jello you made me."

Marcy drops another cookie onto David's empty plate. "The way to his heart is through his stomach."

"That explains why he loves you so much." He wonders if that's too far, but Marcy laughs, and Clint smiles, and he knows they took it in the way he intended.

"Oh, David." She squeezes his arm affectionately. "We're so glad you came back to visit. Both of you."

It's nice, but he still not sure he's comfortable with sentimentality right now, so he changes the subject. "Did you know Patrick has an actual list of my favorite foods on his phone?"


They're seated in the living room after dinner (homemade pizza), while Clint complains that everyone else has wine except for him and some talking head drones on about something on the TV.

"David. Tell us about your parents." Marcy's tone is warm and pleasant, but David still almost chokes on his wine.

What is it about Brewers and parents?

"Uh. They..."

"David, do you need a refill? You can grab the bottle from the kitchen," Patrick offers, a little too eagerly, and David likes -- loves? -- him all the more for it.

"I didn't mean to bring up a touchy subject, sweetheart." Perceptive as always, Marcy's face has fallen slightly, and David doesn't want to be the one responsible for that look.

"No. It's fine. They... I mean, I'm sure you've read about them, by now."

"Terrible thing, what happened to your family." Clint is gruff but still manages to be affectionate.

Gold diggers -- they miss the money, David thinks, unfairly and for no reason, and he reminds himself that Clint and Marcy know and like the current David. The one who's nearly broke and lives in a motel room but who cares about their son beyond anything he thought he ever could. He tells himself that's not what Clint meant, because unlike his old life and his old "friends", these people actually care about him.

What a novel concept.

He wracks his brain for a response, but Marcy fills the silence instead. "You can't tell what someone is like from the news. Or from the internet," she offers, trying to justify her question, perhaps. David wonders if Marcy is talking about him. David wonders whether she's seen Sebastien's photos of him. David isn't sure he has words for the shame he feels at the mere thought that she has. "But I'm sorry for pressing."

Patrick's hand finds his, and he focuses instead on the feeling of their intertwined fingers. "It's fine. Really. I'm just not used to being around people who don't already know them."

At least, how they want others to know them, he thinks, but he's not sure how much he can really talk about the difference between their public and private personas. After all, he didn't really know them either, before Schitt's Creek.

"I have a sister. Her name is Alexis." He starts there, even though it's not what Marcy asked and he's mentioned her before. It's easier, somehow.


"You don't always have to be strong with me, David. I need you to know that."

David looks over at him. His eyes are focused on the road as they drive to the grocery store, but David knows the worried expression on his face is for him. He'd watched Patrick's face last night as he had talked to Clint and Marcy about his family. He doesn't know why it had been so difficult.

"Have you seen me? 'Strong' is not a word anyone would use to describe me," he says instead, tearing his gaze away and out the side window, even though he knows exactly what Patrick is trying to say.

Patrick hums and lets him have this one instead of disagreeing, but David knows he would. Hopes he would.

"Please don't take this the wrong way," he says instead, and David immediately tenses up, "but I was... surprised when you offered to come here with me. That first time."

I was too, he thinks, but in his heart he knows that there was never any other choice. Not since this man had walked into his life with his buttoned shirts and big box store jeans and eyes that make him melt when they look at him. "It was nothing."

"David." Patrick doesn't drop this one, and he can feel Patrick's eyes on him even though he should be watching the road. "It was not 'nothing'. I told you before that what you did meant more to me than I could ever say. I meant it then. And I still mean it now."

"It was the obvious thing to do."

"I know you. We had only been together for a day, then..." David gives him that, even though he isn't sure he'd count his entire birthday. "...but I'd known you for longer. I know you. And I know how hard that was for you."

David focuses on the barbed-wire fence whizzing by the car, refusing to look over at Patrick. "It was the obvious thing to do," he repeats, "because I really care about you."

"I know." Patrick's voice is all affection now. "Believe me. I know."

"I just want them to like me." His voice breaks and he realizes Patrick is pulling over. "We're going to have another emotional roadside conversation?"

Patrick unbuckles and wraps his arms around David, pulling him away from the window. "No. I just needed to hold you."

David blinks away the tears, letting himself relax into Patrick's arms and the soft lips pressing into his neck. He hates how much understanding Patrick is pouring into him through his touch at the moment. He hates how this man breaks down the walls and barriers he'd so carefully constructed after each failure and betrayal, and how much he realizes he actually wants him to.

He actually whimpers when Patrick pulls away -- what the fuck -- and turns to find Patrick looking at him with such concern that it nearly breaks him again.

"Let's... get to the store," he says instead, turning away again, and after what feels like forever, Patrick buckles himself back in and pulls back onto the road. He doesn't pry further, and David doesn't offer anything else, as much as he feels like he wants to.

They're back to their usual playful banter at the store as they fill their basket with ingredients for the impromptu enchiladas that had come up in conversation last night.

"Explain to me again why you had to fold in the cheese?"

"I don't know! Maybe it helps the cheese melt better. My mom didn't exactly know what she was doing." He stares at the ingredient list on Patrick's phone. "I don't think this recipe involved any folding, though."

"If it does, Encyclopedia Mom can show you how."

David tries to look offended, but it's hard through his smile. "Excuse me. I know how to fold in cheese now. I do not need Marcy to show me."

"Right. David Rose: World class chef."

"I never said I was good at cooking."

"Right. Just at folding." David loves the way Patrick is smirking at him, eyes twinkling.

"I'm good in an emergency." It just slips out, and it's impressive how fast Patrick's face goes from teasing to serious, and he can only imagine what his own expression must look like.

"You are." David appreciates that it's not a question, and that he's letting him drive the conversation.

"There were so many, growing up. So many embassies. So many passports. So many pairs of colored contact lenses." He can still remember each one. Each phone call or text from Alexis that would cause him to immediately drop everything and do what she needed. Each flight where he felt like he was holding his breath the entire time, hoping Alexis was okay. "It became instinctive, I think. Maybe it was just the adrenaline."

"Maybe," Patrick murmurs, like he wants to say something else.

"So that was... easier. There was always something to do to help out: do the laundry, make the food, wash the dishes." Support the boyfriend, he thinks, but he doesn't want to get into that one. "This time, there's nothing to focus on."

"Buy the enchilada ingredients," Patrick offers, and when David smiles at that, Patrick's face turns mischievous again. "Fold in the cheese."

"I hate you," he says, but he's laughing. He turns back toward the cheeses and grabs a bag of shredded cheddar.

"You know they love you, right?"

He refuses to look at Patrick. "I don't think my parents love anyone but themselves." He's not sure why he said it, because he knows it's not true, and he knows it's not even what Patrick is saying.

"Okay, there's so many things wrong with that response that..."

"I know. I just want to... impress them." He realizes that he could be talking about either the Roses or the Brewers.

He feels Patrick's arms slide around him from behind and he closes his eyes, leaning backward against the comfortable warmth. "You do, David, just by being you. You don't have to try or pretend or worry that they don't like you."

"I hate that this is hard for me. That you and Rachel is still hard for me. That talking about my parents is hard for me."

Patrick hums, seemingly thinking, before he addresses the second part first. "I've been thinking about what you said before, about why you were uncomfortable with me talking to them. And realizing what it must have been like to feel like people were just using you and your family, or to have people betray you, like..."

He doesn't finish the thought, but David can finish it for him. Like Eli. Like Sebastien.

"I never thanked you for letting me talk to them. To get to know them better."

"Yes, because letting you talk to your boyfriend's parents is a thing worth thanking." Even saying it out loud feels ridiculous.

"It is to me." And David knows he means it. "Now that I understand why, it is to me. And I know it's hard, but it's the same with my parents. They ask because they want to know. Because they want to know you. It's not because they have some hidden agenda."

"I know. I keep telling myself that."

"But my point is, you don't always have to be strong with me, David," he repeats. "Or with them. I need you to know that. If there's a topic you don't want to discuss, you don't have to discuss it, and no one will think less of you for it. You don't have to be that selfless person supporting me all the time. Let me support you, sometimes, too."

Hearing it out loud, put so plainly, does help, and he feels a bit lighter. "Thank you."

"And you're allowed to feel... uncomfortable about me and Rachel. If you think she and I are moving too fast, or..."

David shakes his head and turns around in Patrick's arms. Patrick looks worried. "No. I meant what I said. The two of you should talk and catch up." He finds he actually means it, this time.

"Okay." It must show in his eyes, because Patrick accepts it this time. He kisses David, quickly. "But you don't always have to be strong with me. About that, too."

David just nods, and kisses him. Patrick eventually releases him, and David drops the cheese into the basket.

"Don't forget to fold it in, David," Patrick whispers in what is actually a pretty good impression of him doing an impression of his mom.

They stare at each other for a moment before they both burst out laughing.


They play Pictionary after dinner, and while David had thought he was competitive, he isn't ready for just how cutthroat Marcy and Patrick are.

"The timer had gone off already!" It's not quite yelling, but David thinks this is the loudest he's ever heard Patrick talk.

"He started answering before it did, sweetheart!" Marcy's voice has an edge to it he hadn't heard before, and it sounds so incorrect to be coming from her.

Unsure how to react, he glances over at Clint, who seems to be watching the argument with a grin. Clint catches his eye and shrugs, and David figures this is pretty normal for them.

"He started answering as it went off!" Patrick looks over at David. "David! Back me up here!" David can't help but laugh at how desperate Patrick looks, and sounds, and Patrick frowns before his lips twitch upward in a smile.

"I think this is between you and your mom, honey." He reaches out and pulls Patrick back onto the couch instead, wrapping him up in his arms and pressing a kiss to his temple. Patrick shakes his head, but relaxes into the embrace.

"That's a cop out..." Patrick murmurs, but there's no force behind it, and Marcy marks a point for herself and Clint.

"Last round before bed, I think," says Marcy, and Clint nods in agreement. "Since we're tied right now."

David kisses Patrick's head again before reluctantly releasing him and grabbing the next card. His eyes grow wide at the prompt. Patrick stares at him, confused. "David?"


He hands the card to Clint and squeezes his eyes shut, trying to decide how to proceed. Marcy's voice starting to count down brings him out of his thoughts, and he sees Clint standing there staring at him, amusement in his eyes.

He's glad that Clint finds this funny, at least.

He draws what he hopes is a passable t-shirt and washing machine before immediately regretting the direction he'd chosen to go. "Laundry? Shirt? Washing machine?" Patrick's brow is furrowed, and David glances over at Clint, who seems to be drawing some sort of family tree.

"Eyes on your own work please, David," Marcy chides. "Family? Ancestors?"

Too late to back out now. He draws an arrow pointing in the direction of Clint and Marcy instead, and stares at Patrick, feeling like he wants to disappear into the floor.

"Mom? Dad?" Marcy looks over at Patrick, instinctively, and opens her mouth to speak before realizing it's a guess.

"Cousins?" she offers instead, and Clint draws circles around two of the stick figures.

"What is... parents and laundry?" Patrick says before his eyes grow wide with understanding. "Oh my... oh my God." David watches him struggle over saying the answer before his competitiveness wins out. "In-laws?" It's meek, and quiet, but he knows Marcy heard it.

"Correct," he manages to get out. The room is silent, and he doesn't dare look away from Patrick, who's rapidly turning red, and he can feel his own ears start to heat.

"You're going to have to explain that one, sweetheart." Marcy's voice is warm, and filled with amusement, and when he does dare to look over, she's smiling.

"I um..."

"It's a long story."

He and Patrick both speak at once before immediately clamming up, and Marcy shakes her head, but her expression is loving and not filled with any of the judgement he'd been dreading.

Then she grows serious again and tuts disapprovingly, and David braces himself for it. "Also, David, you can't reference things outside your drawing. That arrow pointing to us is not allowed."

Oh. That's not what he'd been expecting.

But that starts another argument between her and Patrick, and as he watches the two of them exchanging words, he realizes his heart feels full.

In-laws, he thinks again. Even though it's just a game, the fact that she doesn't seem to mind the implication, already, means a lot to him. He knows it's way too early to be thinking about marriage, but watching Patrick as he grabs the rules sheet from the box, still talking the entire time and as animated as he's ever seen him, he realizes he actually doesn't mind the sound of it, either.

There's nowhere else he'd rather be right now, and no one else he'd rather be here with.

The Ex

Chapter Notes

This work directly follows from my heart was broke, my head was sore, and aims for consistency within its boundaries. It is highly recommended that you read the original fic beforehand.

This chapter: David and Rachel properly meet for the first time.

(With thanks to CodenameCarrot and La_Temperanza for the amazing iOS Messages guide)

"We don't have to do this."

Patrick's hand hovers over the gear shift and David looks at him looking back at David so softly he thinks he could melt.

"No. I want to." He looks away from those eyes, focusing instead on the sign at the front of the house at the end of the driveway, that he knows reads 'The Brewers'. "I told you I wanted to meet her, and I meant it."

"Are you sure? If it's something you feel like you have to do for me..."

David shakes his head. "No. You..." He struggles for the right words. "You told me about her."

He glances back over at Patrick, who's looking at him with concern, but his eyebrow is raised like he doesn't quite understand.

"You told me about her when we were driving here, the first time," he clarifies. "When your dad was..." He trails off and Patrick moves his hand from the gear shift to David's hand, taking it in his and running his thumb between David's thumb and forefinger in the way he's gotten so used to.

"Okay? I didn't think I had much of a choice. I expected that she would probably stop by the hospital at some point. She was always close to my parents, even after..." He sucks in a breath, and shakes his head. "After I left."

Patrick still carries that regret, David knows. Of losing those months with his parents and with his old friends, and feeling like he let all of them down by not being able to figure himself out sooner. David steers them back toward safer ground.

"But you still didn't have to tell me. Then. While you were still worried about your dad and you didn't know how he was doing. You shouldn't have had to... worry about me, too."

Patrick nods like he understands now, holding David's hand tighter.

"I didn't want you to be surprised, if she showed up. I should have told you about her earlier."

"Uh huh. 'I've never done that before. With a guy. But I have done that with my very distinctly not-a-guy fiancée named Rachel.' "

That one lands, and breaks the mood, and Patrick laughs as he releases David's hand and shifts the car into drive.

"Fine. But if you want to leave at any point, or if you change your mind..."

"No. I want to do this." And David is surprised by how much he means it. He thinks back to the first meeting with Rachel that hadn't really been a meeting, in the hospital room, and how freaked out he had been, but also how much he knew he didn't blame her, and hoped she didn't blame him. "I want her to... I want her to like me."

Patrick stares at him then with such longing that David wishes he hadn't said the words.

"But if she's anything like you or your parents, I'm sure it won't be a problem. I've managed to get all of you under my spell."

Patrick doesn't laugh at this, like David expects, instead putting the car back into park and claiming his lips with such ferocity that his toes curl.

What is this man doing to him?

They break, breathless, and David still feels the need to inject some levity. He waves his hand dismissively. "At least, that's what Stevie said. About you telling me. About Rachel. That you didn't... never mind."

He's not sure he's making any sense, but Patrick snorts, a laugh and the breathlessness combining in a sound that should be horrible but that David just finds adorable. "Well, thank God for Stevie, then."

"And that's not something that has ever been said before."

Patrick laughs again, and David wants to hear that every day for the rest of... well, for a long time, at least.

He puts the car in drive again and actually succeeds at pulling out of the driveway, this time.

"Thank you, David," he says, and it feels like he's being thanked for so much more than just agreeing to the meeting.

David just nods, his hand finding Patrick's straight-legged-denim-clad thigh and grounding himself there.


She's already seated, holding a drink and staring off into the distance, because of course she's early to things.

Just like Patrick would be, he thinks. That's the kind of person that Patrick would date. Would marry.

Someone not like you.

The thought comes up, forbidden. He tries to push it down again like he'd been trying to ever since the week, months ago, when they decided to make another trip to see Patrick's parents and Patrick had brought up again that Rachel had asked about meeting him. He tries to suppress it, and instead let his memories of the way Patrick looks at him and holds him and kisses sweet nothings into his neck tell him that the voice is wrong, and that he's enough -- that Patrick chose him and, hell, Patrick even came out for him. But some days, it's still not enough.

"You okay?" Patrick's voice breaks him out of his thoughts.

"Are you? You haven't seen her since the hospital and..."

"David." Patrick is looking at David with such concern that he can't help but stop deflecting.

"I'm... okay. I want to do this." Patrick nods, not looking convinced, so David takes his hand and kisses him quickly. "Really. It's okay. I'm okay."

"If you change your mind, for any reason..."

"I will tell you."

Patrick nods again, seemingly satisfied by that answer, even as David isn't sure whether he himself is. The grip on his hand tightens and he allows himself to be pulled toward the table.


"And then you told him to 'eff himself' and immediately turned beet red. That was the closest I'd ever heard you get to cursing, up to that point."

Patrick laughs with her in the way that involves his eyes and that normally makes David deliriously happy but that right now is just another blow and another reminder of what Patrick and Rachel had, and what Patrick and David don't. Rachel's looking at him, and abruptly stops laughing, and he realizes too late that he was just staring at her, not really hearing the words.

He's trying to follow along, he really is, nodding at the right times and laughing along with what he hopes is a convincing laugh but that he can tell Patrick isn't falling for. Patrick, who keeps looking at him with concern and David, who keeps squeezing his eyes shut and shaking his head and hoping that Patrick understands that he really does want to do this, dammit, but that it's just hard.

But with every story, every time Patrick completes the end of a sentence for her, every time he looks at her like they're sharing an inside joke or an unspoken truth, he feels the knot in his stomach tighten and grow larger, because look at how good they are together and how well they know each other and of course they do because they dated for half their lives and probably had -- have? -- a closer relationship than David and Alexis ever did.

"Babe?" David turns toward Patrick, who's looking at him with concern again, and he immediately feels guilty for not paying attention. For not following along. He forgot to laugh. Or did they just ask him something?

"I..." He can feel his throat closing up. He can't do this.

"David. Do you..."

It hits him with no warning (or, really, a lot of warning that he'd desperately been trying to ignore) and he pushes his chair out suddenly before he hunches over and his chest is on fire and his lungs are on fire and he can't see anything and he wants to say something, anything, but all he can do is gasp desperately for air.

Then there's hands rubbing reassuring circles into his back and hands holding his on the table and a voice telling him to breathe, slowly, and he realizes that the voice isn't Patrick's and that the hands holding his own tightly are too small to be Patrick's.

He blinks through the tears to see Rachel across the table from him, her brow scrunched up with so much worry that he feels ashamed for it, gently massaging his knuckles and telling him to follow her voice and breathe with her as Patrick's strong hands continue to rub his back.

He wants to apologize, or to tell Patrick that he's changed his mind and that they need to leave now, or to say anything at all, but only sobs come out when he opens his mouth and instead he lets them, his man and his man's former lover, comfort him.

It's the least I could do for the scene I've caused, he thinks.

Eventually the temors die down and the pain starts to subside. "Good, David. Keep breathing with me. Just like that."

He sniffles and wipes away the tears and snot when Rachel releases a hand, and it's disgusting, but somehow he doesn't care right now.

"Just like that."

"Where... where did you..."

Rachel bites her lip and looks almost guilty. "Marcy taught me. Patrick used to have panic attacks. Before he..." She stops, trying to find a different word. "Just, he used to have panic attacks."

Before he ran away from you, David thinks, and he remembers that Patrick had mentioned it, and he isn't sure if that makes him feel better or worse, because it's yet another thing that she and Marcy have. That he doesn't.

Eventually, he must seem calmer, because Patrick's hands leave his back and he makes an undignified noise but then Patrick is sliding back into the chair next to him and kissing the side of his head and pulling him against his side, and David wipes his nose again.

Rachel sits there, quiet, and he waits for the other shoe to drop. For her to yell, tell him how embarassing he just was to Patrick because people were staring, David, how she knew he wasn't strong enough or good enough or supportive enough for someone like Patrick.

"I'm sorry, David," she says instead, and David isn't sure he heard her properly.

"Wha... what?"

"I'm so sorry." He blinks the tears away from his eyes and she's... crying? "This wasn't fair to you. I told myself, beforehand, that I needed to be more respectful. That I needed to start slowly and make sure you were feeling like you were being included." She bites her lip, and it reminds him so much of Patrick that he has to look away. "But then Patrick and I started talking, and it'd been so long since we'd seen each other in person, like this, and I got carried away and I..." She seems to slump in her chair. "I know that's no excuse, so I just... I'm just sorry."

"You... you're..." He can't find the words, but she's apologizing and his brain can't understand why. He glances back at her. "You have nothing to apologize for." He's not sure he believes it, but it's a peace offering, at least.

Since when did David Rose make peace offerings?

She smiles, a little, and shakes her head. "No. We should have talked first. Just the two of us. It wasn't fair of me to show up and immediately drag you into... " Her hand motions weakly between herself and Patrick. ""

"But you... you should hate me."

He doesn't mean to say it, and Patrick's hand on his side pulls him closer, somehow, and Rachel is looking at him with such pity that he wants the ground to open up and swallow him whole.

"How could I hate the person who gave my... who gave Patrick back his life?"

David stares at her, not understanding, and scoffs. "What?"

She reaches out again, seemingly instinctively, for his hand before catching herself and balling her hands up into fists instead.

Marcy had said something similar. He's different. In a good way. He's not sure he really believed it then, especially in his panicked state, and he's not sure he believes it now.

"But you two... you're so... good. Together."

"Oh, honey." Rachel does find his hand this time, and he should be embarrassed and she should be disgusted because it's snotty and wet but she holds on anyway. "No. We weren't good together. Not toward the end and, if I really look back on it, not for a long, long time before that. We were close. We were friends. We knew each other in the way you know someone you've been around for most of your life."

She pauses, massaging his knuckles again, and he's not sure why, but that actually does help.

"Patrick loved me completely in the way he could, as much as he could, because he's Patrick and he's responsible and he needs to make everything work even when he knows it's not what's right and not what he needs. And I loved him... love him. Fiercely. But we were never good together. Not like that. Not like the two of you are."

David wants to ask how she could possibly know that they're good for each other if she had never seen them together before today, but Patrick starts talking before he can try and get the words out.

"David. Babe." Patrick's hand is moving now, on David's back, and his voice shakes. "I'm sorry. I should have been paying more attention to you." He kisses David's cheek. "You were clearly uncomfortable, and I should have stopped and pulled you away. Or at least stopped talking. Or..."

"What... what do you mean?" Patrick looks confused and opens his mouth, but David shakes his head and looks back toward Rachel, his brain still not really believing her words. "Why don't you hate me?"

She's quiet for a bit, and he starts to wonder if he'd actually asked the question out loud when she finally answers.

"You didn't know Patrick before he... before he left. He was sullen and withdrawn, like he was going through the motions because he knew that's what everyone expected. Every conversation about us felt like I was tiptoeing through a minefield. And even though I tried, we fought. We fought so much, especially at the end. David, when he proposed, I remember having this nagging thought that I was signing up for a lifetime of fights and anger and stifling silence, but I pushed that aside and said yes and instead embraced that feeling of joy, of 'We're finally engaged'. Because I was scared. Because I was a coward. Because I didn't know how to handle my life without him and I was desperate, so I never asked myself whether I should keep... trying."

She smiles softly, turning to Patrick, and David doesn't dare look at his face.

"I meant what I said, Patrick. You running away was the best gift you ever could have given me. Even if I didn't see it until you came back. Until you told me. Until I saw... until I saw you again."

That's another conversation that she and Patrick had, another thing, but he finds he doesn't actually mind this one, if it means she's thanking him for leaving her.

Then he thinks about how he would never be able to be that understanding if Patrick left him, and how Rachel somehow is, and it hurts all over again. And oh God, the thought of Patrick leaving him...

"And I meant what I said to you too, David." She's rubbing the back of his hand, now, and it's nicer than it has any business being, so he focuses on that instead. "You are the reason that Patrick is Patrick again. He's happy again. He laughs again. His eyes light up again in that way I thought I would never see again. He's the Patrick that I fell in love with, again. What kind of friend... what kind of person would I be if I didn't want that for him? And how could I hate the person who gave that back to him, and gave him back to us?"

To us. She means Clint and Marcy too, and all of Patrick's old friends, and David thinks that hearing it again is starting to make part of him believe it, and hearing it now somehow helps him kick aside at least some of the insecurities.

David can tell that Patrick is blushing beside him, and Rachel releases his hands, moving hers beneath the table. And wiping them, he supposes.

"So, I'm sorry. I knew this would be uncomfortable for you, and I forgot what I'd told myself, and got caught up in Patrick again. I never meant to make you feel out of place or somehow like he... like the two of you don't fit."

He's not sure how she manages to be so perceptive, but he'll take it.

"So if I haven't scared you off yet..." He shakes his head and mouths a 'no'. "...maybe we should start again?"

He nods, words still out of reach, and she holds out a hand across the table and he wipes his hand on a napkin before taking it.

"I'm Rachel. And it is so nice to finally meet you, David."


He plasters on a happy face as he walks back into the Brewer house, hoping it'll keep Clint and Marcy from asking him any questions. He can tell they know what he's doing, but thankfully they don't press him, instead sitting him and Patrick down to a steaming casserole and regaling him with more stories that make Patrick squirm and fiercely blush and all of this feels different, somehow, with them than with Rachel.

The love and affection that Clint and Marcy wrap him in wears down his remaining stress from the meeting, and it isn't until later that night, when Clint and Marcy bid them goodnight and head upstairs and he's alone with Patrick in the living room, that the doubts start to creep back in.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

David's hand stops moving through Patrick's hair, but Patrick's head doesn't move from where it rests against David's chest.

"We don't have to, if you don't want to. But I want to help if I can."

He doesn't want to talk it, not really, because he feels like today has satisfied his feelings and emotion and heart-to-heart quota for the year. But it's Patrick and he thinks he'd feel worse letting his boyfriend -- partner? -- worry about it.

"Yeah. I... do."

"Okay." David waits for Patrick to say something else, but he's quiet, waiting for David to start.

"I... I like her." He says the words and realizes he actually means it, somehow. Rachel is kind, and thoughtful, and generous, and all the things David knows he isn't. And somehow she likes him. She likes him for Patrick and she likes him for him.

Patrick seems to let out a breath he'd been holding and relax against his chest, and David's fingers start moving again. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. She's... not what I was expecting."

Patrick laughs at that, gently shaking the two of them. "No. She isn't what I expected either. In a lot of ways."

David doesn't ask him to elaborate. He thinks about his phone, where Rachel had entered her phone number and told him to reach out once he felt he was ready. If he was ready. She hadn't asked for his number in return. "I'd like to get to know her better."

"That's..." Patrick seems to be searching for the right word. "That's good."

"But I..." His fingers stop again, and Patrick is still, waiting for him to continue. "I also don't. I don't want to like her. I'm..."


"...jealous." He tries out the word, finding that it doesn't quite fit. "Maybe? Maybe that's part of it? That there's all of this history and things that the two of you talk about and how she knows you so well, Patrick. She knows you in ways that I wish I could know you."

"You do. You will. I want you to." It's quiet, but it feels like a promise, and David feels the knot that he didn't realize was growing inside him shrink a little.

"Okay. I want that, too. But I..."

"Do you need me to stop texting her? Stop talking to her?" Patrick's tone is even, but David can tell how hard it is for him to even ask. He thinks back to earlier, when Patrick and Rachel had been talking and he'd felt like a third wheel, and how easily they fell into their banter despite the leaving and the broken engagement and the time, and how easily conversation flowed between them. How awkward it was after his panic attack, and how much they all had to try afterward and how they never really got back to the same comfortable flow of conversation.

"I... I don't know. You two are talking again, and catching up, and trying to repair your friendship. I don't want to stand in the way of that."

"If I had to choose, I'd choose you, David. In a heartbeat. Every time. She would... understand." There's an unspoken but please don't make me, but David's chest is suddenly tight with... something. He wishes he could see Patrick's face. He wants to say yes, to be selfish, to keep Patrick for himself until they've developed all of those inside jokes and stories and he can rub all of it in Rachel's face. Look at what we have and you don't.

Cedar chest. The words come to him suddenly, and an image of Stevie flashes into his mind. The cedar chest toolbox. The consignment shop. The Love Room.

Warmest Regards.

"Stevie." He says out loud, and he imagines Patrick's eyebrow raising like it does when he needs David to clarify. "Rachel is your Stevie." Patrick doesn't respond, but the silence speaks volumes. "It would be like you asking me to stop talking to Stevie. Because you were jealous."

"I would never," Patrick responds, but he doesn't deny it. "But I would still choose you, David."

"No." It comes out more forcefully than he intends, and Patrick finally sits up. His eyes are less red than David would have expected, but his breathing tells him that Patrick's trying his hardest to stay focused, for him.

"No?" There's a glimmer of something in Patrick's eyes. Hope?

"You should never have to choose. I... don't want you have to choose."

The corners of Patrick's mouth twitch upward and he nods. "Okay."

"But I'm still not... jealous. I'm... scared?" That fits better, he decides. "Scared I'm going to lose you."

Patrick sucks in a breath and suddenly looks so devastated that David wishes he'd never said anything. "David... Have I... have I done anything that would make you think that? That would make you doubt the way I feel about you?"

"No. Absolutely not. You've been... you've been nothing but amazing. It's me. It's my past relationships. It's everyone I wanted to care about, tried to care about, leaving me. It's..."

He trails off, but the look on his face must be as shocked and apologetic as he feels, because Patrick seems to calm down at that. "Okay. Then why would... why would you think you were going to lose me?"

"Because the two of you are perfect together."

Patrick laughs at that, sharp and startling. "No, David. Rachel and I are definitely not perfect together."

"You're both smart. Determined. Caring. Driven."

"You are all those things too." He's looking at him such affection.

"But not like that. Not like you. You two are like... two sides of the same coin. And I'm... not. I'm damaged, and high-maintenance, and flippant, and..."

"Stop it." It's harsher than David expects, and Patrick seems surprised by it too, his face immediately turning apologetic. "David. I don't want her, or some... guy who's like her. I want you. You."

"But what if, one day, you decide that you do want that? That you grow sick of me..."

"I could never grow sick of you."

"That you don't want me. Anymore. Because we're not a good fit. Not like you and her."

Patrick's quiet for a bit, searching for the right words, and David doesn't dare breathe.

"Do you think my parents are not a good fit?"

"What?! No. Of course not." Based on everything he's seen of Clint and Marcy, and the warm teasing he catches when he calls Marcy and Clint inserts himself into the conversation, he's frankly offended that Patrick would even suggest such a thing.

"Do you think your parents are not a good fit?"

"I... I don't..."

"David." There's no harshness to it, this time, but it still hits just as hard.

"No. I don't think my parents are not a good fit. I think they're a good fit. I... you know what I mean."

"And are your parents two sides of the same coin?"

That feels as ridiculous as suggesting that Patrick's parents don't fit together perfectly, and David snorts. "Of course not."

"So why do you think that about us? I don't think we're nearly as different as your parents are, if that's your criteria for fitting together."

David knows he's right, of course, but his stubbornness gets in the way. "I just do." He really is like a petulant child.

Patrick shakes his head, but where David expects frustration or anger, there's instead a smile.

"Then we're going to work on that. Together. I'm going to do my darndest every day to prove to you that I want you. That I keep wanting you. That we fit because of our differences."

"I..." David suddenly realizes that Patrick's comparing them to couples that have been married for decades, and even though he knows Patrick didn't necessarily mean anything by it, he still can feel his heart warm at the thought that Patrick sees the same kind of future for the two of them, at least in some small way.

Patrick leans toward him, and his words interrupt David's thoughts. "I'm going to kiss you now."

All David can do is nod before Patrick captures his lips, pushing him back into the couch, showing him how much he means what he just said.

And for the first time, David really thinks he believes it.


Text conversation withRachel

Rachel:What about this color?


David:No. No way. Patrick would hate that color.

Rachel:Patrick? Or you? ;)

David:I resent the implication.

Rachel:What about this one?


David:It might be easier if you just sent a picture of the entire display.


David:Who knew Old Navy had so many different shades of blue sweaters.

Rachel:Have you never been to an Old Navy?

Rachel:Wait. Stupid question.

Rachel:I'm dragging you to one the next time you visit.

David:I knew it. You wanted to be friends because you wanted to torture me.

David:This is a good color.


David:But send me a picture of it by itself in better lightning.


Rachel:Okay, that one does look nice.


David:Yes. That one.

Rachel:Thanks for your help.

Rachel:I still think old Patrick would have liked the first one.


Rachel:I'm sorry, David.

David stares at the last messages. They'd agreed to keep any mention of "old Patrick", as she and Patrick often put it, out of their message chain out of a fear that it would trigger David's insecurities again. But as he stares at her words, he doesn't feel the usual tightning in his chest, or lump forming in his throat.

Text conversation withRachel

David:It's okay.

David:You're right. Old Patrick would have liked that first one.

David:One of the many reasons he's better off with me now.

He wonders if that went too far.

Text conversation withRachel

Rachel:I'm glad he's with you now, David.


David:Flattery will get you everywhere.

Rachel:I'm still dragging you to Old Navy the next time you're here.

The Holidays

Chapter Notes

This work directly follows from my heart was broke, my head was sore, and aims for consistency within its boundaries. It is highly recommended that you read the original fic beforehand.

This chapter: There's a Christmas party. Stuff happens.

Or: Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose, but with more feelings, and less Johnny Rose.

"Kids! We're doing Christmas this year!" Johnny claps his hands together as he walks into the room. "It's been a while, so we're bringing back our annual Christmas party toni..."

He trails off as he takes in the room. David looks up at him from the pile of sweaters he's trying to sort through for his second suitcase, and Alexis' eyes flick up at him from her phone.

"Oh. David. You're... packing." David hates how disappointed he sounds.

"Uh, yeah. I told you weeks ago that Patrick and I were heading to his parents' for the holidays." He decides against bringing his Givenchy flame print. He's pretty sure he hasn't repeated a design with Patrick yet, and he wasn't about to start now, even if he's pretty sure Marcy would like it.

"Right. That's right. You did." Johnny stands awkwardly in the doorway, hand in his pocket. "Alexis? You're free?"

"Ugh, dad. I told you Ted and I were hosting some of his friends tonight."

"Oh. Right. That's right."

David carefully packs another sweater into the suitcase and waves an arm in the direction of his father. "What is this, anyway? You said you didn't want to celebrate this year. We haven't celebrated any year since we've been here."

"Well, I just thought that, maybe, since we hadn't celebrated any year since we've been here, that maybe it was time we, I don't know, tried to change that or something."

"Okay, but if you want to change that, maybe let us know a little more in advance, next time? Patrick's on his way over and I am extremely behind on packing because I missed my alarm because someone unplugged my phone charger yesterday." He picks up another sweater to consider.

"I needed to charge my laptop, David!" Her eyes flick over to him and down the sweater he's holding. "Not that one."

"What? Why not?"

"You were wearing that one when we saw Patrick walking down the street before you met him." Her eyes are back on her phone now, and David just stares at her.

"Um." He looks it over again and realizes he had worn it before. "Okay, how did you know I was... never mind. How did you remember that?" He struggles for the memory for himself, but can't come up with anything.

Alexis just shrugs. "I remember noticing him. I thought he was cute, in this uptight sort of way. It must've been just after he moved here."

"What?! How have you never told me this?" David isn't sure he likes the idea that Alexis had noticed Patrick before he had.

"Okay, I'm just gonna..." Johnny points awkwardly back toward his room.

David squints his eyes and waves his fingers. "K. Thanks. Bye." Alexis waves her pinky at him, still focused on her phone. Johnny shuts the door behind him, and he turns back to Alexis. "How have you never told me this?"

"Clock's ticking, David. Pack up."

He glares at her and picks up another sweater. "Ha ha. Chug a septic tank, Alexis."


"Is he okay?"

David follows Patrick's gaze as he loads his second suitcase into the trunk. Patrick's looking at his dad, who's leaning against the doorway of the open door, staring off into space.

"Oh. Yeah, he's fine. He's just moping."

Patrick's eyebrow raises at that. "Moping? David, your dad doesn't mope."

"Well, then clearly you don't know him as well as you think you do." He shuts the trunk, double checking that it's truly latched. He doesn't need a repeat of last trip, where his suitcase flew out of the trunk miles out of town.

"What's he moping about, then?"

"It's nothing. He woke up this morning wanting us to celebrate Christmas together but we already had plans and Alexis and Ted already had plans, so now he's moping." Patrick just stares at him. "Are you ready?"

"Shouldn't we..."

"He'll be fine. He gets like this all the time. Are you ready?"

"Yeah. I just need to..." Patrick opens the back door and rummages around the wrapped boxes in the back seat. "I forgot that I had something for him."

"Uh. Last I checked, we agreed that we didn't need to get my parents anything. Because we haven't done Christmas for years, and they didn't get me anything. Us. Get us anything."

Patrick pulls out a box and shakes it gently, as if trying to jog his memory about its contents. "We did. But I think he needs this more than my dad does, right now."

David huffs, knowing that arguing is pointless. He sits himself in the front seat, feeling a little more cramped than usual with the seat pushed further up to allow for space for things in the back, and watches Patrick walk up to Johnny and hand him the box.

He looks surprised, and David imagines he's stammering some sort of thank you before pulling Patrick in for a hug that looks a lot less awkward than he would have expected.

He shakes his head and busies himself with his phone until Patrick returns, climbing into the driver's seat. "Now I'm ready."

"Mmm hmm."

"I can see you're so excited for this." Patrick kisses David quickly and buckles his seatbelt.

"Oh, I am. I get to meet all of your extended family, and hear even more embarrassing childhood stories about you." He's trying to sell it to Patrick, but that actually almost sounds appealing to himself, too.

Patrick hums and starts the car. "On second thought, maybe we should just hang out with my parents at their house, and not go to the big party."

David's mind starts to wander as he glances back at his dad, still leaning against the doorway and staring now at the blue-paper-wrapped gift like it's the most precious thing in the world.

"Right. Maybe." He forces his gaze away and back to his phone.


"What happened to Mariah?"

"What?" It takes David a second to process the words, but then he's panicking. "What?! What happened to her?!" He switches apps immediately, tapping on the bookmarked news feed and trying to calm himself before anything pops up.

"Nothing! Sorry! I meant..."

The feed pops up without any real news, and David feels like he can breathe again. "You can't do that, Patrick!"

"Sorry! I just meant... your playlist." He sheepishly gestures toward the radio. "I have some suggestions if you didn't think this was a good time for her, or if Mariah isn't appropriate Christmas music."

"Okay, excuse you. It's never not a good time for her. And I was going to play her Christmas albums." He cues up the first one, relaxing again when the familiar notes of Silent Night start up.

"Are you okay?" Patrick's hand finds his, and his thumb finds the spot between his thumb and forefinger, and it's comforting. "Normally the music is the first thing you do."

"I'm not sure you can judge normally from the two times we've done this drive."

"Three, actually. Six if you count each direction. But the first time we'd talked first, so five times." David appreciates that it doesn't seem to pain Patrick anymore to talk about that trip. "What did you say? That the future of our relationship depended on my reaction to her?"

David can feel himself smirking. "Fortunately for our business, and our relationship, you reacted correctly."

Patrick's hand squeezes his. "That's very fortunate." He pauses though, and David knows he isn't going to let this go. "You're thinking about your dad too, right?" David tries not to nod, but his expression when Patrick glances at him must give him away. "I think we should go back."

"What?" As much as he'd expected Patrick to ask about his dad, he wasn't expecting that particular statement.

"I think we should go back."

"I heard you the first time. Why?"

Patrick shrugs, searching for a spot before pulling over.

"We do this a lot. Pulling over, I mean. It can't be good for your tires." He knows he's deflecting again.

"I think he really needs this, David." David looks over at him, and he's biting his lip, looking far more conflicted than David would have expected given the statement he just made.

"Then he should have made plans sooner. This trip wasn't exactly a surprise. Besides, you'd been looking forward to introducing me to all of your cousins and aunts and uncles and... all of that."

Okay, the fact that he was using that excuse meant he was desperate, because he really had not been looking forward to meeting all of Patrick's cousins and aunts and uncles.

Well, maybe a little.

But Patrick didn't need to know that.

"They would understand. They would all understand. We were just there a month ago..."

"When the only people we saw were your parents."

"And Rachel," Patrick starts, before looking guilty about bringing her up. David squeezes his hand, trying to convey that it's okay. "We could reschedule for something like New Year's," he says, instead. "They'd all still be around, and we could go around seeing everyone separately. It would also be less overwhelming for you."

That part actually does pique his interest. He fumbles for another excuse to not spend the holidays with his moping father. "What about the presents?"

"We could mail them. Or take them next time. Belated Christmas presents are fine, and I think the kids would enjoy having stuff to open later, anyway. Other than the cheese, nothing is perishable."

"But we're already so far." His voice is whiny now, but he's desperate.

"David. We've been driving for less than 10 minutes."

"Yeah, but..."

"If you really don't want to go back, I'll keep driving. But this was bothering you enough for you to forget about your playlist, so I think you don't actually want me to keep driving."

Damn this man.

"Fine, whatever. We'll give dad his stupid Christmas party or whatever."

"That's the spirit," Patrick teases, but something about his face, and the way Patrick actually seems to care about Johnny, makes David momentarily lose his train of thought. He shakes his head.

"I love y... that you care about this so much." He tries to play it off as a joke, and even though they've already exchanged their first I love yous, he still finds it hard to say. He wishes it was easier, but he hopes Patrick knows he feels it, anyway, even when he can't quite form the words.

"Yeah, well. I love you...uur sweater." Patrick grins and it's cuter than it has any business being, and David feels himself calm down. Patrick does know.

"So I guess we're doing this?"

"If it's okay with you, David." Then he throws on his faux-serious look that David loves. "It does means we're going to have to eat that cheese platter ourselves, and I know how much of a burden that's going to be."

David tries to look put out, but he's smiling too much for it. "If we must. I'll make do somehow."

The side of Patrick's eyes crinkle. Then he nods, actually growing serious as he pulls out his phone. "I'm going to call my parents. You're okay with New Year's, instead?"

"If you're okay closing the store, again."

"I am. Most people should be buying stuff beforehand, anyway. We shouldn't miss out on too many sales."

He takes a deep breath. They're doing this. "I'll do whatever you want me to, Yoda."

Patrick seems to miss the reference, or he's too focused on his parents at the moment. He kisses David's cheek before dialing the number.


This wasn't as huge a disaster as we thought it was, at least.

David releases the final branch and steps back to admire his handiwork. It's still not the best tree he's ever seen, but it's significantly more passable now. And definitely a lot nicer than it was when his dad had stormed out of the room, earlier.

He absentmindedly nibbles on one of Ted's gingerbread men and starts to think about how he can use decorations to hide the glued seams when he glances over at Patrick, who seems to be preoccupied with something, staring off into space instead of trying to detangle the lights.

He sets down the cookie and slips up behind Patrick, wrapping his arms around him and kissing the side of his head. Patrick makes a pleasant noise. "Okay, I should let you know that I don't like surprises."

Patrick's eyebrow raises at this. "I know that. You told me that every surprise you've ever had in your life has been bad news, like the, um... the revenue agency."

He's actually started wondering recently if his family losing all of their money was actually a blessing in disguise, but Patrick doesn't need to know that.

Well, all of their money was still a lot. They could have left them a couple million dollars or something. Maybe a private jet.


"Why are you telling me this, now?"

"You looked contemplative."

"Oh. I was just thinking about my parents. This'll be the first Christmas where I haven't seen them." Patrick leans back against David, hand on his, and closes his eyes. "But really, why are you telling me this, now?"

David sighs and squeezes his eyes together. "Because I know you, and I know you do like surprises. And because you convinced us to surprise my dad with this party... thing, after he gave up on it. And because you're the kind of person who would want to spring some surprise on us too, like your parents came to town instead because we couldn't go this year."

"Huh." Patrick seems to actually be considering it, and David can't tell if he's serious. "That actually would have been an idea. That does sound like something I'd do."


Patrick shrugs, smiling. "Babe, you were in the car with me for the entire conversation I had with them. I didn't ask them to come."

"Right. I know that. It's just that you could have... asked. Afterward."

Patrick kisses him quickly. "Well, I didn't. It's just like you heard: I told them your dad needed us today, and we'd try to visit in a week instead, and they said they understood and we left it at that. They said they were heading to my Uncle Rob's house early, if they weren't waiting for us."

"Okay. Okay. I just wanted to check, I guess."

Patrick's phone rings, and he kisses David again before looking at his phone, suddenly looking concerned, and answering it. "Mom? Is everything okay? I thought you'd be busy at the party."

David isn't sure how to read his expression, but part of it might be the angle. He releases Patrick, swinging around and putting his arms on Patrick's shoulders, instead.

Patrick looks confused, he decides.

"Huh? No, Stevie is..." He scans the room, and David follows his gaze, both of them settling on Stevie standing in a corner with a bottle of wine, and watching as she takes a swig directly from it. She notices them and gives them the finger. "She's here. Why? Did you need to... talk to her?"

David can feel the gears turning in Patrick's brain, and he wonders if they're having the same thought. His stomach tingles, and he wonders what that feeling is.

"Oh. No, if you mail it to the motel, and address it to him, Stevie will make sure it gets to the right place. You don't need the room number. Do you need the hotel address?"

The tingling grows stronger, and Patrick's frowning now.

"Mom, it'll be fine. There aren't that many guests here normally, especially since it's the holidays." David starts to object that they've sold out the motel a few times now, but Patrick isn't wrong about the holidays. "You really don't need to include the room number."

She says something else, and then Patrick's face changes, and David decides it's a combination of disbelief and joy. "What?! Hang on..."

Then Patrick's making his way to the door, and David follows along, mutely, his head swimming.

"They're here, aren't they?"

Patrick wordlessly looks back at him, but the expression on his face is confirmation enough. The tingling has turned into both a knot in his stomach and a warmth in his chest, and he can't decide if he likes that feeling.

Patrick throws the door open with a bit more force than necessary, sticks his head out, and waves. It isn't until a snow-dusted Marcy and Clint are standing inside, wrapping up Patrick in a huge hug, that he can breathe again.

He realizes absentmindedly that the knot is gone, leaving just the pleasant feeling. Maybe not all surprises are bad ones, after all.

"Oh my God. I can't believe you're here! You said you were going to Uncle Rob's!"

Marcy smiles, pulling Patrick in tighter, and David should feel awkward, but he doesn't. Something about Clint and Marcy never makes him feel awkward around them anymore.

"We were," says Clint as he affectionately pats David's shoulder. "But then we realized we could see everyone later, and that we'd never spent a Christmas apart from you, before. Your mom didn't want to start, now."

Marcy kisses his cheek before releasing him and moving toward David. "David!" Then he's wrapped up in her arms, and the warm feeling intensifies.

"I take it you're Patrick's parents." Stevie appears beside them, empty-handed, the wine apparently abandoned or finished somewhere.

Abandoned, he decides, because she doesn't seem nearly drunk enough for a full bottle.

Clint shakes her hand and nods. Marcy doesn't seem quite willing to let go of David just yet. "Clint. That's Marcy. You must be Stevie."

She nods. "I am."

"We've heard so much about you, dear," Marcy says, finally releasing David, much to his displeasure. He doesn't miss the horrified look that crosses Stevie's face.

"Oh God. I hope you know that absolutely none of it is true."

She opens her arms and Stevie hesitates for a second before moving in. David enjoys the conflicted expression on her face as she receives her first Marcy hug, until she notices him watching and gives him the finger behind Marcy's back.

"I hope all of it is true. You really have helped our Patrick in this town. And from what we hear, you're responsible for fixing a bit of a miscommunication between him and David, as well."

Clint clasps a hand on Patrick's shoulder, who blushes. "He's like me. Good intentions, but terrible at communication. Marcy didn't realize our second date was another date until the end, when I asked if I could kiss her. She thought I'd decided we were better off as friends."

Stevie seems significantly more interested in the conversation now, despite looking awkward in Marcy's embrace. "You'll have to tell me all about that. And a younger Patrick." She's grinning now, and Patrick's looking a little concerned, mouthing no at her as Marcy finally lets her go. "I take it you're staying here at the motel?"

"If there's space, dear, that would be best."

"I'll get you checked in. And while I do, you can tell me all of the embarrassing childhood stories I know you've told David but that he refuses to share with me."

"Yeah that's really not necessary," Patrick begins, but Marcy just laughs as Stevie holds open the door for them.

Marcy kisses Patrick's cheek again, and squeezes David's arm. "We'll see you two soon."

Then they're gone, and Patrick lets out a sigh that seems equal parts relief and joy.

"Okay, so if there was ever any doubt that they were your parents, the fact that they just showed up here to surprise you and delight in embarrassing you..."

"Is this okay?" Patrick's looking at him with concern, and he's actually confused for a second, because why wouldn't this be okay, until he remembers the last part of the conversation they were having.

"Oh. Yeah. This is actually really... nice." Patrick seems to immediately relax, and he takes David's hand. "I think I just never realized that there could be nice surprises."

"Yeah. I can't believe they're here."

David looks around the room. "Well, they are, and we'll have a lot of time to talk with them later. But right now we should finish getting everything ready before my dad gets back."

Patrick nods, squeezing his hand before reluctantly dropping it. "Right."

"Oh God. Now our parents are going to meet." The thought hits him suddenly, and he isn't prepared for it. He feels panic building up in his chest. What if they hate each other?

"Babe?" Patrick's voice, and hand on his shoulder, breaks him out of the spiral. "It's going to be fine. You know my parents. They're probably the friendliest and least judgemental people ever."

"Okay. That's probably true." That does help.

"And I know your parents."


"So I know they'll get along great." Patrick kisses his cheek before heading back over to the lights, and David doesn't want to admit that Patrick is probably right. "It'll be fine, David. I promise."

He tries to push aside the thought of how monumental it should feel that this'll be the first time any of his significant others' parents will have met his, and yet how much he's wanted this. "It will."


Johnny's extremely surprised when Moira eventually finds him and leads him back to the room, and David's actually proud of how the tree turned out. The joy on his father's face makes him realize how glad he is that Patrick had made them stay.

Although he'll never tell Patrick that. He would never let David live it down.

They introduce their parents, and they get along so well that David wonders how he was ever worried about this. Marcy seems utterly delighted by Moira's crazy stories, while his mom seems overjoyed to have someone so receptive to tell them to, warming up to them more quickly than he'd ever seen her warm up to anyone before until she's regularly grasping at Marcy's arm as they laugh together.

It isn't until another one of these stories about a young David that he didn't even realize she'd remembered, and he's instinctively grasping to his side for the hand that's always there so he can object to the tale, that he realizes Patrick is missing.

He quickly scans the room, and when that doesn't yield anything, he heads next door and finds Patrick sitting on the edge of David's bed, staring at his phone, his face seemingly on the edge of panic.

"The stories are about my childhood, at the moment, if that helps," he tries, and Patrick jumps at his voice. He cringes. "Sorry."

Patrick lets out a heavy breath and shakes his head. "No, sorry. I'll... come back in a minute. I just..." He sucks in a shaky breath. "I just needed a minute."

David sits down next to him, and throws an arm around him when Patrick instinctively leans into him. "It's okay. What's wrong?"

Patrick stares at his phone. "It's stupid."

"Honey. It's not stupid if it's got you sitting here by yourself looking like you're going to have another panic attack."

"Oh. I..." he takes in another shaky breath. "I didn't realize."

"We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to." He tries to rub reassuring circles into Patrick's back, but he's not sure how much it's helping.

"No, I need to. If that's okay."

"That's more than okay."

"But I just need a minute." He shrugs, and seems to try and calm his breathing for a bit before holding his phone up so David can see it.

Text conversation with Rachel

Rachel: Merry Christmas, Patrick.

It sounds pretty innocuous, so he's not sure what he's supposed to be looking at. He's trying to decide whether he should ask about it when Patrick speaks again.

"The last time she sent me that message was last Christmas." Then he shakes his head. "Sorry, that sounded really stupid. Of course she's not going to be wishing me Merry Christmas in the middle of June."

David doesn't say anything, instead pulling him closer so his head is resting on David's shoulder, and running his hand through his hair. That does seem to help, and Patrick starts to relax.

"Um. I guess it just brought back some memories. Last Christmas, we were... I was thinking about proposing to her. I almost did."

"Oh." They haven't talked about this before, and he can feel his insecurities rising again. He forces them back down, at least for the moment, for Patrick's sake.

This is Patrick's turn to be comforted, he tells himself, and he briefly wonders where that came from. Since when does David Rose comfort other people?

For Patrick? Since day one.

"Sorry, we really don't have to talk about this. I know this still makes you uncomfortable. I'll be fine."

David shakes his head and squeezes his arm, ignoring the joy he gets from knowing that Patrick is worried about him, even now. "Patrick. I want to listen, as long as you still want to talk."

He breathes again, deliberately, in and out. "Okay. Um. I don't think I told you before, but I proposed in March."

David thinks on that. Patrick had said the first time they'd headed home that he'd been gone for a little over two months, which would have meant he'd left toward the end of April. He'd also said he'd had his second panic attack just before leaving, and the first was when he'd proposed.

"That sounds about right," he says, simply, before kicking himself. Of course it does. Patrick knows when he proposed. "I mean... sorry. Right. So you proposed in March."

"That was my third attempt. I kept talking myself out of it. The first one was Christmas, in the evening, when we were at her parents' house. I thought it would be a nice gesture to propose to her in front of her family. I had the ring ready and everything, but I just..." He pauses and shudders. "I just couldn't do it."

"I'm sorry."

"I made an excuse to head to the guest room by myself for a bit, and pulled my phone out, I guess to distract myself or something, and after a while, she sent me this message. 'Merry Christmas, Patrick.'"

"Oh?" He's not sure what else to say, instead trying to rub reassurances into Patrick's scalp.

"It was sort of a passive aggressive request to rejoin everyone downstairs. She does... did that, a lot, where she wouldn't ask for what she wanted, and wouldn't confront me about it, but would instead try to start some sort of conversation so she could ask it later. But seeing this again just... reminded me of that failure, I guess, and of how I didn't have the courage to do that, or to do anything about... anything."

David understands now that it's not just about the proposal, although that's probably still a large part of it. "Nuh uh. Honey. You were so, so brave. It may have taken you a while to get to that point, and that's completely fine, but you got there. I told you before, that moving away like you did was courageous. It's still true."

"I guess," he says, but David can tell that helps.

"And she's not doing that now, right? Being passive aggressive." He immediately wonders if it's a mistake when the words are out of his mouth, and he feels Patrick tense up against him. Then he sighs and relaxes again.

"You're right. She isn't. There's no subtext, this time." He pauses before reaching up for the hand David has in his hair, setting it down on his shoulder instead and holding it there. "She's just being nice."

"And you don't have to worry about proposing, now."

Okay, that one was definitely a mistake. He needs to immediately change the subject.

Patrick, for his part, doesn't seem to react any particular way to it, and he pushes aside the sudden urge to dig deeper. "It's okay if this is difficult for a while, Patrick. It's okay if this is always difficult."

He's not sure where that bit came from, but it sounds a lot wiser than something he'd say, so he thinks it's probably good advice.

"I hope it isn't. It shouldn't be."

"But while it is, I'm here for you, if that helps."

Patrick laughs at this, for some reason, but it sounds relieved. "I... I know. I know you are. And it does. Thank you." He kisses David's hand.

"Ugh. What's all this? Gross." David's head snaps up at Stevie, standing in the doorway, grinning like she's ready to make another offhanded remark. Her expression immediately falls at his gaze, and she almost staggers backward, and David realizes he must look furious. "Oh. God. Sorry. I didn't realize."

Patrick just shakes his head, sitting up straight, and David immediately misses his weight against his side. "It's fine, Stevie. I was just having a moment." David feels himself relax, at this, and Stevie tentatively leans forward again.

"David's rubbing off on you, then," she tries, warily, but her smile returns when it seems to land.

Patrick seems to be calmer now, so he seizes the opportunity, both to break the mood and get back at her. "That's not the only thing I'm rubbing off on him."

Stevie makes an interesting face, and Patrick immediately turns red and seems to find an extremely riveting patch of carpet. "David! I do not need to know things like that."

"Excuse me. You're the one who flaunted her boyfriend slash lover slash hunky hairy furniture man in our faces, Pony."

"God. See if I ever do anything nice for two you again." She sticks out her tongue.

David squints at her. "Okay, but see, that implies you've ever done something nice for us in the first place."

She marches over to Alexis' bed, grabs a pillow, and throws at it him, but they're both smiling now. Patrick's still red, but he's biting his lip and trying not to laugh as he watches them. David finds his hand and grasps it, firmly, between them.

"I'll leave you two alone."

"No, we should get back." Patrick stands, still holding on to David's hand, and pulling him up with him. "I don't want to know what our parents have started talking about in our absence."

"They're telling us about when you threw a fit because you had to sell popcorn instead of Girl Scout cookies."

"Oh, God."

David grins. "I haven't heard this one."

They follow Stevie back toward the door, but Patrick stops before they reach it. David looks at him, concerned again. Patrick just looks amused.

"'Hunky hairy furniture man'?"

"Don't tell me you don't agree with me. You saw him."

Patrick's turning red again, looking away from him. "I, um..."

"Okay, can we talk about this later? We need to interrupt my dad before he starts telling the story of my Bar Mitzvah."

"Oh, we're definitely talking about this later." David turns, but Patrick still doesn't seem to move. "David?"


Patrick pulls him back and kisses him, gently. It's much softer than their usual kisses, and David briefly wonders what he did to deserve that. "I know that was hard for you. I love you. Thank you."

It's too much sentimentality for him, at the moment, and he waves his free hand around. "Well, as you may recall, I did tell you that I'm a very generous person."

Patrick smiles at this, and lets David lead him toward the door, this time. "You're a good person, David."

"Okay, but see, that's still not nice."

"A good person."


"Oh!" Marcy's breath seems to catch as she walks through the door to the Apothecary, followed by Clint, Patrick, and then David. "This is absolutely gorgeous."

"You've seen the pictures before, mom." Patrick's trying to sound nonchalant, but David can tell how happy is he that she likes it.

"The pictures don't do it justice, honey." Marcy walks around the large center table, fingertips dangling over the products as if she was afraid to touch anything.

"Well, it's all David," says Patrick, throwing his arm around David's shoulders and pulling him close to him. "This is all his vision."

"And without Patrick, that's all it would be. I inherited absolutely none of my dad's business acumen." He realizes as soon as the words are out that he's said that to them before, but Marcy doesn't seem to notice.

"Well, you two are absolutely perfect for each other. You complement each other so well. Not just in business."

Patrick blushes, and David kisses his temple. "He makes me so happy," Patrick says, and David hopes he knows how much he feels the same way.

Marcy beams at the two of them. "I know. I can see it every time I look at you, and hear it every time I talk to you." Then her face seems to fall, and David doesn't realize he's holding his breath until she speaks again. "I'm so sorry."

Patrick just looks confused, and Clint coughs and turns to focus on the candles on the shelf. "For what?"

"For Rachel."

David suddenly feels like he's intruding on something very private. "I'm just gonna..." He kisses Patrick's cheek and makes his way to the corner to sort through the tea. He realizes as soon as he's there that he should have headed into the back, instead, but he thinks it'd be more awkward to move again now.

"Sweetheart, I feel like you were so unhappy, for so long, because of us. Because of me."

"No, mom. No." Patrick's voice wavers, and David wishes he could be reassuring for him right now.

"If I hadn't kept pressuring you to settle down, to propose..."

"Mom. We were together for twelve years. It made sense. I said that to you, myself, when I told you I was going to do it." David can feel his chest tightening again, despite himself, but it's not as stifling as the previous times he'd thought about Rachel, and their engagement.

"But you were so unhappy..." She's whispering now, seemingly on the verge of tears, and David's sure he's never heard Marcy like this before. There are footsteps, and David dares a quick glance to see Clint behind her now, a hand on her shoulder.

"I didn't know why, mom. I didn't know why. I thought that it would help. I thought that I just needed to try harder. It wasn't you. Please don't feel like it was you."

"All I ever wanted was for you to be happy. My sweet boy..." her voice breaks, and he can hear Patrick's shoes on the floor, and he imagines he's holding her now.

The bell above the door jingles, and David turns toward it automatically as Stevie walks in holding a large box, and stops at the scene in front of her. Marcy and Patrick are standing near the front, arms wrapped around each other. She seems to be crying, and Clint's hand is still on her shoulder.

"What?" David asks, a little too sharply, and Stevie looks guilty.

"Well, I just have the worst timing. Again." She turns away from Marcy and Patrick and sets the box on the counter. "Um. This is the leftover wine from last night. I wasn't sure if you wanted to restock the rest, but I thought I'd bring it back."

"Thanks, Stevie." Even in the middle of an emotional conversation, Patrick's still all business.

"I'm gonna... head back to the..."

"I need some help with the online orders, Stevie. In the back." David grabs the excuse maybe a little too forcefully to give Patrick some more privacy. To her credit, Stevie doesn't protest, although David's sure she'll ask for some of the wine later. Services rendered.

It isn't until he's sitting in the back in a chair, with Stevie leaning against the wall watching him, that he feels like he can breathe again. From the murmuring he hears through the curtain, it seems they're talking again, and he hopes that's a good sign.

"So what's going on out there?"

"Patrick's mom is freaking out about Rachel." Stevie raises an eyebrow, and David feels the need to further clarify. "She thinks that Patrick was unhappy because of her. Marcy, that is. Unhappy because of Marcy."

"Well, that's definitely not true." She says it so automatically that it somehow helps.

"That's what Patrick said."

Stevie nods and looks him over. "They're talking about his ex and you're not freaking out." It's a statement, not a question, but he suddenly wonders if he should be.

He decides it's okay that he isn't, that the tightness in his chest isn't growing and isn't overwhelming him. "Yeah, well. This isn't... about me, right now."

"Who are you and what have you done with David?"

"Ugh. Shush." He really doesn't want to do this right now. Fortunately, Stevie seems to understand.

"For what it's worth? If things hadn't happened the way they did, maybe Patrick wouldn't have left, and then he wouldn't have come here, and then he wouldn't have met you. So in some way, if she thinks she did something, then she's really responsible for bringing you two together."

Now it's David's turn to be surprised. "Who are you and what have you done with Stevie?"

"I'm just doing this for the wine. This conversation is costing you a bottle of the good red."

He waves a hand dismissively, but he's smiling now. "You'll have to take that up with Patrick."

"I still like this for you, David. He's making you soft."

He only feels a little indignant at that. "I thought you said you like this for me."

He expects a quip about how it makes him easier to tease, but instead Stevie just smiles at him, a gentle smile that looks so wrong on her that it's actually unsettling. He's about to make a snarky response of his own when the curtain opens and Patrick appears, one hand in his pocket.

"Hey. Sorry about that."

"Is she okay?" David immediately feels guilty for asking about her, first. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. It's just a conversation we'd been putting off for a while. She tried to have it the first time, after I uh... after I told them about you. She said she was sorry if she'd ever pressured me about Rachel. But I wasn't ready to talk about her yet, then. I just didn't realize she still felt so... guilty."

He looks pretty guilty himself, and David gasps at the first thing that comes to mind to try to fix it. "Stevie says we actually owe your mom for bringing us together."

"I don't know if I said that."

He can see Patrick's mind following the same train of thought. "That's actually... a really good way to think about it, Stevie."

"Whatever. This is costing you two bottles now."

"I don't think that's how this works," he says, but Stevie walks past him and hits his arm on the way out, and after a pause where David's sure she's grabbing the wine, they hear the door jingle again.

Patrick turns toward David, looking a little cautious. "Are you okay?"

"Surprisingly." He shakes his head when Patrick starts to look guilty again. "No, I'm fine. I thought I would be more freaked out about this, but I know Rachel now, and I know how you interact with her now. So I guess I just don't feel as... worried about her, anymore."

It's manageable now, he doesn't say, because Patrick seems genuinely relieved at that, and even the thought that he'll always be a little worried about her isn't derailing like it used to be.

Patrick kneels in front of him, leaning upward and kissing him gently. "Then I'm doing something right."

"You're doing everything right, honey." Patrick's face is all affection as he kisses him again. "But we probably shouldn't leave your parents alone out there. I'm sure they have a lot of questions about the products, and we all have breakfast with my parents soon, so..."

Truthfully, he just wants to see that Marcy is okay, but he's not about to tell Patrick that.

Patrick kisses him again, holding on a little longer this time, before he stands. "I love you, David. I don't think I realized before you what love really was."

"Well, that's..." He wants to say terrifying, but he finds he actually likes that thought, because he knows exactly that feeling, and that realization, and he realizes now that he's longer so afraid of giving his heart to this man. "...something. I love you, too." It's easy this time, and not just because he didn't have to say it first.

Patrick takes his hand and pulls him to his feet, and when he grins, David knows what he's going to say, because it's what David had said the first time Patrick said those words to him. "I know."

But as Patrick squeezes his hand and pulls him back into the store, he doesn't feel a need to make some sort of snarky remark back, instead just enjoying the way the words make him feel.

Stevie was right. He is getting soft.

And he decides that he likes this for himself, too.

The Party

Chapter Notes

This work directly follows from my heart was broke, my head was sore, and aims for consistency within its boundaries. It is highly recommended that you read the original fic beforehand.

This chapter: David throws Patrick a surprise party, but Patrick has other plans.

Or: Meet the Parents meets The Hike

(This was actually the first thing I wrote for this fic, since it follows straightforwardly from the coda of the original work. But it made more sense to present chapters in chronological order, so here it is now. This one's just fluff and happiness.)

David bursts through the door of the motel office, phone in one hand and eyes scrunched up and shaking his head.

"Oh my God, Stevie. As if today couldn't get more busy. How do I tell my...."

He stops, immediately straightening up and eyes growing wide as three heads turn toward him.

"Marcy! Clint!"

He's immediately wrapped up in Marcy's arms, her chin pressed up against what he's come to think of as the Patrick spot on his neck, as Clint pats his shoulder warmly.

She holds the hug longer and tigher than usual before finally letting him go. Stevie grins at him from behind the desk, and Marcy's calming presence is enough to make him swallow his snarky response as she mouths at him. In-laws.

"You're early!"

"Marce was too excited last night to sleep well, so she made us leave earlier this morning than we'd planned."

She smiles and playfully punches her husband's arm. "Like you weren't right there with me, awake and practically vibrating to go."

Clint's eyes twinkle with affection in a way that reminds David so much of Patrick that it almost sidetracks him. "Well, I wanted to make sure we wouldn't be late and ruin the surprise."

"We were hoping to catch you for breakfast, David. But we know you have a lot you need to finish up before the party tonight, so we completely understand if you need to attend to that."

"I would love to join you for breakfast, Marcy, but I do have a lot to finish. And..." He waves his phone around at her. "And your son is trying to use his birthday to guilt me into joining him on a hike."

Marcy catches his flailing hands in her own, holding them with love while smiling at him, and he sees the same mischevious crinkle by her eye that he sees on Patrick when he's teasing him. "That sounds wonderful, dear. We wouldn't want to keep you from that."

Stevie's still grinning at him as she shakes her head. "No, David. We definitely wouldn't want to keep you from that." Clint just smirks.

David tries to look upset at the three of them, because he actually is upset that they're ganging up on him, again. But a smile tugs at his lips and he settles for what he hopes is a neutral face instead but that probably just looks absurd.

"We can help with some of the party preparations, sweetheart. What else needs to get done?"

David draws the line at that. "Okay, nuh uh. No. You two are our guests, and you just drove here, and you haven't even gotten to your rooms yet. I'm not putting you to work."

"I could go find Mr. and Mrs. Rose and the four of you could have breakfast together while David gets ready for his hike."

David glares at Stevie, hoping the fury in his eyes was enough to ignite her flannel, or at least burn that shit-eating grin off of her face. In-laws, she mouths again.

"What a lovely idea, Stevie. We didn't get as much time to catch up with Johnny and Moira the last time we were here."

Stevie tosses a key at them and slides out from behind the counter. "Room three, as always. I'll bring them by in a bit. Enjoy your hike, David."

David screws up his face at her and heads back out the door to respond to Patrick's text messages.

Text conversation withPatrick

David:Outdoor excursions must be negotiated in advance, and this is not "advance".

Patrick:I'm giving you an hour's notice. Seems "advance" to me.


Patrick:Will you come?

David:Fine. But only a short hike.

He stops and thinks before adding a note.

Text conversation withPatrick

David:And you have to pack us some brie for the end.


He pokes an exasperated finger at his phone, searching in vain for a signal to respond to Twyla. Ahead of him, Patrick turns around, looking down at him over the dusty trail.

"David. Put that away. You said you'd do this with me, and there's no signal up here anyway."

"Yeah, well. You said this would be short, and we've been hiking for hours!"

Irritation crosses Patrick's face, but he shakes it away. "It's only been twenty minutes, David."

"Oh my God. How much further?!"

"Only about another twenty minutes or so."

David stops so abruptly that he almost trips over his own shoes. "Twenty minutes?!"

Patrick shrugs and holds his hands out in a way that David chooses to interpret as apologetic even though it's clearly annoyed. "Forty minutes is a short hike, David."

David opens his mouth to protest that forty minutes is in fact a very long hike, especially since it'll be another forty minutes back, but irritation crosses Patrick's face again, and he sighs.

"Fine. But only because it's your birthday."

"Thank you."

"And only because you packed that brie. I would do a lot for that brie." He pauses. "And for you."

He's standing next to Patrick now, who smiles at him. "I know you would, babe. Thank you." He kisses David quickly, gently.

Then they're walking again, and David slips his phone back into his pocket, hoping Twyla's question about preparing the 500 crab cakes was just a typo.

"Who goes hiking somewhere without phone service? I can't even complain at Stevie right now. This is all her fault."

"Let's go, David."


Patrick wasn't lying. The view at the top is pretty spectacular.

"Fine. This is really... nice."

Patrick sits on a rock, pulling his pack off his back and looking suddenly nervous. "I wouldn't have made you hike all this way if I didn't think it'd be worth it, David. I think I know you a little better than that."

"But I was promised brie at the top? So..."

Patrick laughs as he opens the pouch of his backpack, but it's his nervous laugh. The one he'd laughed after telling David he loved him for the first time and David deflected by saying he already knew. The one from when they'd first sat down with Rachel in a coffeeshop by his parents' house to really introduce her to David for the first time.

David wonders if it means someone had told him about the surprise party.

In short order, a blanket, a wedge of brie, and some crackers appear, and David inspects the ground disdainfully, trying to find the cleanest spot on the blanket to sit so he didn't get dust on his pants. The last thing he needed today was to schedule in another outfit change. He eventually settles for an area near the middle, and Patrick sits down next to him, kissing his cheek and pulling him close with one arm while he feeds David a cracker and brie with the other.

"So. How long were we going to sit here?"

"You don't like it up here with me?" Patrick's tone is neutral, but his hand stops moving against his side, and David isn't sure what to think. He pushes his lips together.

"I do, but..." I have a list of things that need to get done before tonight and I'm already behind "I'm... afraid of heights."

Patrick knows that already, but the arm moves to his waist and holds him a little tighter. "We're far away from the edge. I would never let you fall."

David tries to relax as his mind wanders through his mental list of preperations for what feels like the millionth time. He needs to call Twyla immediately once he has service again. "I know. I just..."

Patrick feeds him another cracker, and watches him eat it with an expression he can't quite place. Longing and affection, but also something... else.


Patrick shakes his head and smiles, not breaking eye contact. "Nothing. You're just so... " He shrugs. "...perfect."

David can feel his ears heat as Patrick kisses him and he's sure he tastes like brie. "I'm sure I'm just so attractive while I'm chewing and sweaty from the hike and..."

"You're attractive all the time, David." He kisses him again before turning out to look over the view, and this time David does blush. "I've always wanted to bring you up here."

"Why?" David isn't sure he likes how wistful Patrick is looking right now.

"This is... this is where I came, by myself, after I first moved here and this radiant, bumbling, self-confident unicorn walked into my office with a business plan that just needed a bit of work, when I couldn't get him out of my mind afterward."

"Excuse you. I'm never bumbling. 'Radiant', however..."

"...where I came after I had driven to Elmdale to an office supply store for a frame for a business license, wondering why I was having such a hard time picking one out and hating how much it mattered to me whether you liked it."

"Probably because you had horrible taste in frames back then, honey." Patrick does chuckle at this one and David takes another piece of brie.

"It was where I came to think when I realized it all meant I might have feelings for you. Where I sat and wondered if maybe you might have feelings for me, too. And how I would ever work up the courage to tell you."

"To be fair, you never did tell me. You're lucky that Stevie and Alexis picked up on it."

"...where I said out loud for the first time that I was gay. And it was terrifying but also suddenly right and everything in my life just started to... make sense."

David doesn't have a response to that, instead feeling proud and rubbing circles into Patrick's back.

Then Patrick's arm is gone and David starts to complain but instead watches as Patrick rummages around in the backpack again and pulls out a small gift bag and hands it to him. David pleasantly notices that, like the many before it, this one is also blue.

"You do realize that on your birthday you're supposed to be receiving the gifts, right?"

Patrick ignores the remark, and his face briefly shows something else -- nervousness? But then he's smiling that mischevious smile again. "Open it."

David reaches into the bag, and his fingers rest on what feels like another frame. This one's a bit thicker than the ones he's gotten in the past. He pulls it out.

"Do you know when I first realized I loved you?"

David stares down at the frame, at an orangle hospital visitor wristband featuring Clint Brewer's name mounted behind the glass, and suddenly his eyes are wet. He shakes his head. He can feel Patrick's eyes on him.

"I don't think I would have called it 'love' then. It was way too early in our relationship for that. But looking back, when you stood there with me in the hallway... told me you'd drive three hours by yourself, twice, just so I could have the time with my parents... after everything else you'd already done for me, and for them, that weekend... after being my rock, for the first time... the first of so many times..."

Something seems to catch in his throat and he stops, taking in a shaky breath, and David forgets to take advantage of the easy setup for a joke, and doesn't even realize his hand is gripping Patrick's tightly until Patrick pulls it away and moves as if to stand.

"There's... there's something else in the bag too."

David reaches in again, hand shaking as his fingers brush the velvety surface of... something.

"I realized then that I always wanted you by my side, as stupid as that sounds. We'd only been together for a few days and I didn't even know for sure if we..."

Patrick shudders, drawing in another deep shaky breath, and David realizes his own breath is stuck in his throat as he pulls out a long, thin box, and he would have seen Patrick shift onto one knee if his vision wasn't already all blurry and the tears weren't falling freely from his face now.

"I came up here then, too. After we got back. And I whispered into the wind that one day, when we were both ready, I would bring you up here. And ask you to marry me."


Patrick had been confused afterward that David hadn't wanted to return to their apartment with him and, ahem, consummate their engagement, but Twyla had called about the crab cakes when they were back at Patrick's car, and David pretended it was his father, and apologized to Patrick that there was another dead body in a motel room and his dad needed his help, and promising he'd make it up to him later, after what was definitely just a casual dinner with the two of them.

But he'd actually considered it, for one brief second. Or several seconds.

"Okay. Let's try that again. 'Happy... birthday...' In one, two, three..."

The chorus of voices in the room makes an attempt but stumbles over itself, and David pinches his brow in frustration.

"Nonononono. Maybe something simpler? How about..."

"He's coming!" Alexis stands from her spot by the window and runs to her spot next to Rachel, who smiles at her.

"Let's stick with 'Surprise', yes? Short. Simple. Twyla, lights?"

The lights dim and he can feel Marcy's hand on his back. He smiles in the darkness and squeezes her arm.

The door squeaks open, and a confused voice calls out. "David?"

The lights click on, and Patrick blinks at the sudden visual onslaught.


" birthday!" Roland yells and Jocelyn elbows him in the side as Patrick staggers backward, shocked.

"Oh my G... David! What... but you hate surp... Mom! Dad! Rachel! What are... Oh my God!" David's never been prouder to see Patrick thrown so far off his game.

"Happy birthday, my sweet boy."

David beams as Patrick pulls himself together and grabs his parents in a huge hug. Then Patrick's in front of him, and Patrick is kissing him, and he realizes his smile can get bigger, after all.

Roland wolf-whistles and Patrick seems to realize he's swallowing David's tongue in front of his parents and breaks, blushing, as understanding dawns on him. "You... there's... there's no dead body?"

Clint and Marcy immediately look concerned, Stevie hides her laugh with a snort, and David can't help but grin.

"Right. There's no... I can't believe you did this! I can't believe you're all here! Rachel!"

Rachel gives him a hug and pats his back. "I was wanting to make a trip down here soon, anyway. And when David texted, it seemed like a great opportunity to surprise you."

"Consider me suitably surprised, then." Patrick looks over at David again, and his eyes flicker down to David's hand. David nods.

"Actually, since you're all here... I, um..."

"And congratulations on the engagement!"

"DAD!" Alexis glares at Johnny while David stares, shocked, between Marcy, Clint, and Patrick. Marcy and Clint don't seem surprised by the news, and David figures Patrick had talked to them already. Patrick seems to pale before laughing.

"Um. I just wanted to say that... David and I are engaged."

"I'm sorry! I didn't realize it wasn't public knowledge yet! Patrick texted me earlier and I thought that..."


Then David finds himself pulled into a huge group hug with a sobbing Marcy, and Patrick's next to him holding him against his side like he'll never let go again, and everything is perfect.


"So why today?"

Patrick looks up at David from his position draped over his side in the bed, seemingly trying to find his eyes as his finger traces circles on David's bare hip. "Why did I propose today?"

David kisses his forehead. "Yeah."

"Our first date was on your birthday, so mine was feeling a bit left out."

But he's smiling in that way that he does when he thinks he's being clever, and David kisses his forehead again. "Patrick."

"Maybe we should get married on Mariah Carey's birthday. How do you feel about a March wedding?"

"That, um... " He stops. He's not falling for it. "Patrick."

"Honestly? Because there were very few ways to get you to come hiking with me. I thought about bribing you with a picnic, but I didn't want us to have to carry the supplies all that way. You probably would have had to carry a pack, and I think that would have been a dealbreaker."

"So you guilted me into going with you because it was your birthday."

Patrick stretches up and kisses him.

"It worked, didn't it?"

David grabs his ass and maneuvers Patrick on top of him, bare chests pressed together and bare legs tangled. "Patrick Matthew Brewer. You are insufferable."

Patrick just grins and kisses him again.

The Reception

Chapter Notes

This work directly follows from my heart was broke, my head was sore, and aims for consistency within its boundaries. It is highly recommended that you read the original fic beforehand.

This chapter: David and Patrick's wedding reception. Also a coda.

The room breaks out into applause as David and Moira walk off the dance floor. He's pretty sure he hadn't danced with his mother before -- the barn, years before, wasn't really with her -- but he finds, to his surprise, that he really enjoyed the experience.

"Congratulations." His father is standing to the side, arms open, looking at him with such pride.

"Oh, John." She's in his arms, and he's looking briefly surprised before smiling and hugging her back. "I know. It was a positively beguiling performance."

"Yes, honey. You were great."

She pulls back, smiling at Johnny. "But what this evening requires is a scintilla of liquid merriment."

She walks off toward the bar, and Johnny smiles at David, arms open again. David hesitates, but only for a second, before walking into the hug.

It's a lot more comfortable than he expected, and he's almost sad when Johnny pats his back and lets him go. No sooner has he stepped back than a familiar hand finds his and squeezes.

"Congratulations, you two." He doesn't even need to look over to know that it's Patrick standing next to him, now.

"Thanks, Mr. Rose. And thank you again for making everything come together for us today."

"Oh, it was... it was nothing, Patrick. Thank you for taking care of my son."

David wrangles his hand free of Patrick's grip, instead grasping his shoulder and pulling him against him. Patrick sighs, contentedly, his arm wrapping around David's back, his hand perched at David's side.

"Speaking of taking care of my son..."

"Okay, dad. I think we're going to go get a drink."

"Did somebody say 'drink'?" Stevie presses a glass of wine into his hand, grinning at David's surprise. He doesn't spill, though. He never spills, even when his boyfriend's -- husband's! -- mother suddenly reveals she knows about their secret relationship and he's about to have a panic attack.

"Gee, Stevie. It's almost like you're actually a nice person underneath that hideous flannel shell of a human."

"Oh, that one's for Patrick. You'll have to get your own." She smirks and disappears back into the crowd, and David notes that Patrick's already sipping from his own glass of... something.

"So, uh, speaking of taking care of my son..." Patrick's hand moves up to his shoulder and squeezes, and he swallows his objection to the current situation. "I just wanted to tell you that David can sometimes be a lot."

Patrick snorts, sounding like he's trying to suppress a laugh, and David should be offended, but it's actually pretty cute. And true. "Sometimes," he says, and David takes a large gulp of his wine, proper wine drinking technique be damned.

"When Moira is spiraling, sometimes you have to let her, because she needs that time to process her feelings. But you can't let her for too long. And you have to be there for her through it. She needs a rock to ground her and eventually lead her back."

"Okay, so why are we talking to Patrick about this? You and mom are literally going to be in California the next time she's 'processing her feelings'." He's deliberately being obtuse, because he really doesn't want to be in this conversation, anymore.

Patrick just nods, and he knows he's remembering his mother's week in the closet after her movie was shelved. "Right."

Johnny slaps Patrick's arm. "Okay, then. I'll let you two get back to the party."

Then he's gone, and David finishes his glass with a second large gulp and sets it on the nearest horizontal surface. "Okay, so..."

He barely has time to react before Patrick is kissing him, and when they break, the look in his eyes is both a reminder of why he fell in love with this man and a promise of what's to come.

"I love you, David."

"Mmm. I love you too, but I think we're going to need more wine."

Patrick laughs, and takes his hand, and they walk toward the bar together.


"Hey, handsome."

David and Patrick both turn, mid-pour, as Rachel walks up to them and shyly clasps her hands behind her back. David's breath is almost taken away by how beautiful she looks, and it's a bit of a rude reminder that he is still pansexual, despite really only having eyes for the man beside him, these days.

Speaking of which -- he quickly remembers to put down the wine bottle before Patrick's glass overflows.

Patrick just smiles at her as he looks her over, pleasant but with none of the affection David catches in his eyes when he looks at him. And he can't help but feel a small sense of smugness at that. "Hey, beautiful."

She laughs at that before immediately looking guilty and turning her gaze to David, as if seeking permission.

David smiles at her too, trying to convey how okay he is with all of this. And it surprises him just how okay this really is. Because Patrick chose him, and married him, and finally he and Patrick have something that she and Patrick never did.

Although really, he knows that he's had that in so many things, for so long, now. He won that competition years ago, before she even knew they were both playing.

She seems to get the message, because she's smiling again. "You haven't called me that in a long time." She shakes her head, seemingly trying to forget the memory. "But congratulations. It was a beautiful wedding."

David wants to object to that, because it was nothing like he'd had in mind or intended, but he stops himself when Patrick sets down his glass and pulls her into a hug. "Thank you for coming. I know how hard it is for you to get away from work."

"Not all of us can be our own bosses," she says, teasingly, patting his back as they break apart. "But I wouldn't have missed this for the world."

"Well, my boss..." He grabs David's ass before settling back in against David's side, and oh, he hadn't been expecting that. " a bit of a hardass. Sweep the floors this, dust the shelves that."

"Excuse you. You're the one who's always telling me we have to sweep. Or do things like... run inventory. Or open the store on time."

She laughs, turning toward David and tentatively opening her arms again. "Can I give you a hug?"

David scrunches up his face, but he'd actually been hoping she'd ask. "I'll allow it."

It's less awkward that he'd expected, but she kisses his cheek as they part, seemingly without meaning to, and he finds that symbol of familiarity strangely comforting.

They're quiet for a bit before Rachel speaks up again. "I wanted to see if we could have a dance." She seems almost afraid to ask.

That part does bother David, but he looks away and tries to shake it off. "That's fine, if you want to. I don't mind. I..."

"Sorry. David, can I have this dance with you?"

"Oh." He isn't sure he's ready for that, and he kind of just wants to stay wrapped up in his husband's embrace all night instead, but she's looking so hopeful that he doesn't dare say no. "Sure. Let's... dance."

Patrick kisses his cheek and squeezes his hand. "I'm going to go see if Stevie wants to dance. Maybe she still remembers that Money number and we can break it out tonight."

"You wouldn't." Patrick waggles his eyebrows, and mimes hitting a wooden block with a mallet, before slipping away, leaving him alone with Rachel.

"Shall we?"

He lets her lead him to the floor, and they dance together to Mariah's Love Takes Time. He's pleasantly surprised by how good she is, and how surprisingly nice the whole situation is. He catches sight of Clint and Marcy across the dance floor, dancing in each others' arms like there's nothing else in the world but them, and it brings a smile to his face.

"They're great together, aren't they?" She's looking at him, her expression soft and affectionate.

David's sure that Rachel can't see who he's looking at. "Who?"

"Clint and Marcy. Married 42 years."

"Okay, how did you..."

She laughs and lays her head on his chest. "Some couples just have this way of drawing your attention when they're together, just because of how they are with each other. Like Clint and Marcy." She pulls back to look him in the eyes, and smiles, her own eyes twinkling, somehow. "Like you and Patrick."

His ears feel warm, despite himself, and he knows his expression is doing that thing it does when he thinks about Patrick. "Okay, but that's just because it's our wedding."

She laughs again. "No, David. I mean, it is your wedding, yes, but that's not why."

"Okay, then why?"

"I really liked your vows," she says instead. He smiles, shaking his head. He doesn't want to do sentimentality with her right now, and appreciates the shift.

"Can you believe Patrick sang that to me? As his vows?"

She shakes her head, smiling, before laying it on his chest again. "He's always been such a troll."

"Mmm. Somehow, I love him all the more for it."

She laughs again and nods against his chest, and then is quiet for a bit. "Thank you." It's surprisingly serious, and sincere.

"For what?"

She stands back slightly, not missing a step as her expression grows soft again. "Do you remember our first conversation?"

So they are doing this, after all.

"No?" He does, but he wants to hear it again, for some reason.

"Thank you for this," she says instead of elaborating. He isn't sure what she's talking about at first, but he realizes her hand is pointing somewhere. Somehow, without looking, he knows already what she's pointing to, but he follows it anyway to Patrick, chatting with Stevie in a corner, but with his eyes focused on them. On him. Patrick blushes and looks away when David catches his gaze.

"Oh." His ears grow warm again at that.

"That's why. And what," she says simply.

He just nods, his eyes tearing up. "Oh."

"Thank you for giving him everything."

He can't formulate a response to that, instead pulling her closer than would be customary as they finish the song.


"Just remember that we discussed this, David." David's pulling Patrick by the hand toward the corner where the cake is set up.

Screw reception timelines. It's time for cake.

"What exactly did we discuss?" They stop next to the cake and he has to resist picking up the knife and just going for it.

He may be slightly drunk, already.

"You're not allowed to smash cake in my face," says Patrick, picking up the knife and moving it away from David, as if sensing David's impatience. "And you agreed. It'll 'disrupt the flow of the evening' if I have to get cleaned up and change."

David frowns, and not just at the knife that's now out of reach. "Excuse you. I said it would be disruptive if you had to change. Not that it would disrupt the 'flow' or whatever."

"HEY!" The music stops and everyone turns to a corner, where Roland is standing on a table.

"Um. Did you ask Roland to make the announcement?"

"No? I asked Stevie to make the announcement..."


"...and I realize now that that was a big mistake."

"GO WATCH DAVE AND PAT CUT THE CAKE!" Roland points in their direction, and the entire room turns toward them.

"Okay, first of all, we are not doing Pat. Or Dave."

Patrick shakes his head and kisses him before handing him the knife. "Just cut the cake, David."

He does, as Patrick watches (because he does not trust Patrick to make straight cuts, thank you very much), and they share a slice together as Roland wolf-whistles at them, still standing on the table.

"Hey David?"

"Mmm?" His mouth is full of cake, and he almost misses the sudden movement of Patrick's arm, but then Patrick is swiping David's nose with his finger.

"Gotcha." He smirks, and sticks his finger in his mouth, and that should not be nearly as sexual as it is.

David chokes down the rest of his bite without chewing. "What did you..." His eyes widen, and his hand would flick up to his face if he wasn't holding both a plate and a fork at the moment. "Patrick Matthew Brewer! Is there frosting on my nose?!"

Patrick looks like he's holding back a laugh as his other hand finds the back of David's head and pulls David down before he gently licks the tip of David's nose. "No."

"Patrick!" He should be upset, but Patrick looks at him affectionately and bites his lip as he tries not to laugh, and how can David be upset at that?

"There's no frosting on your nose, babe." He licks it again before releasing David's head and patting his back. "Anymore."

"That is so incorrect." He tries to pout, but he's smiling too much.

Patrick takes the plate from him and sets it on the table, and David starts to object as Patrick takes his hand and pulls him away from the cake. "Come dance with me, husband."

He decides he likes the sound of husband more than the sound of cake, at the moment, and allows himself to be pulled.

They slot together, without any difficulty now, for their second dance of the night. David isn't even sure he recognizes the song (and makes a mental note to tell Stevie off afterward for letting someone mess with his playlist), but Patrick sighs happily against him, and everything else suddenly just seems less important.

The third glass of wine he'd just finished might also have something to do with it, and he suspects Patrick is in a similar state.

"I can't believe we're actually married."

"Mmm. I can't believe we were married by my mother. In that outfit."

"I can't believe Alexis walked you down the aisle in a wedding dress."

"A floor-length white gown," he says, trying to convince himself of it after the fact. "Not exactly a wedding dress. It didn't have a veil."

Patrick kisses his neck. "I know this isn't what you had envisioned, but I think it still turned out perfectly. Because, in the end, I still got to marry you, and everyone we care about was here to see it."

David's mind shifts, briefly, to his old friends, who had chosen a concert over this. He realizes again how accurate the statement is, and how much he doesn't need to rub this in their faces anymore. He has Patrick, he has Stevie, he has his family (old and new), he has this town, and he has a goddamn house that his goddamn husband had basically bought for him, and he realizes again how much Stevie's words were true. He fucking won.

Patrick pulls back a little, looking at him with affection tinged with concern, and he realizes he's crying. "Babe? Are you okay?"

He quickly wipes his eyes and shakes his head. "Yeah. I'm just... happy."

Patrick smiles and kisses him before his head finds David's shoulder again. "Well, we can't be having that on our wedding night, can we?"

David chokes, a combination of a laugh and a sob escaping his mouth. "God, I can't wait for tonight."

Patrick laughs and kisses him again, deeply, and it feels like a promise of things to come, not just tonight, but for all of the years ahead.


"My beautiful boys."

David turns as Marcy walks up to them, and readily accepts the offered hug. Patrick sets down the bottle of wine. "Hi, Marcy. I hope you're having a nice evening."

"Oh, it's been absolutely perfect." She pats his back and releases him before pulling Patrick into her arms.

"Thank you, mom. For everything."

Her eyes are watery, shining in the light, as they part, and David isn't sure why, but he feels his own starting to tear up.

It must be the wine.

"You two just look so happy together." Patrick squeezes his hand and kisses his cheek. "I heard of all the trouble this morning, but everything came together so well."

"Everyone really chipped in, today."

"Oh, sweetheart. I'm sure they did, but I'm sure you also did everything you could." She looks over at David, smiling but looking a little lost in thought. "You know, at our wedding, I wanted lillies. The florist agreed, but the day of, there were no lillies."

"Sounds like a terrible florist." He immediately regrets interrupting, but she laughs, and he knows it's okay.

"Clint was so determined to get me my lillies. He spent the morning trying to track down another option, but no one had enough on such short notice. He was going to be late to getting ready, maybe to the wedding itself, until all of this got back to me. I marched up to him and told him that I didn't care about the lillies. That all I cared about was marrying him. That, years from now, no one would remember that there were no lillies at our wedding."

"No one except for you, apparently." He really needs to stop interrupting her.

But she laughs at this too and takes his hands in her own, still smiling, but looking a little more serious now. "David, Patrick and Clint are a lot alike. They are so driven and focus so far in on a task that they sometimes lose sight of the big picture. They both need someone to remind them, sometimes, of what's truly important in their lives. And for Patrick, that's you."

He isn't sure if she's saying he's important, or if he should be remindering Patrick, but either way... "I think I can do that."

She nods, squeezing his hands before taking Patrick's face in her hands. "Sweetheart. Make sure you let him. Don't be stubborn and let that stubbornness be a wedge between you two."

"I will, mom."

She nods again and kisses his cheek.

"I love both of you. So much. My two beautiful sons." David is actually crying now, even though nothing about this conversation should be emotional.

It's definitely the wine.


"Babe?" David jolts awake as Patrick gently kisses his cheek. "Maybe we should get you to bed."

"No." He shakes his head, trying to push past the wall closing in on his eyelids. He grabs Patrick instead, pulling him into his lap. Patrick laughs.

"If you want that, we definitely should get you to bed."

"Gross." Stevie appears next to them, holding out a cup of something that David takes and quickly identifies as the motel's coffee.

"Like your face," David starts before a yawn overtakes him. He can't be picky right now, so he takes a gulp of the coffee, almost burning his throat in the process, and that jolts him awake.

"Not one of your finer comebacks, David." She gulps something from her own cup and looks out over the motel lawn. "The sun should be coming up soon. We might as well just stay up for that."

"Ohmigod are we having a little chat?" Alexis plants herself on Patrick's lap and the air is pushed out of David's lungs as she sits.

"Deep throat a porcupine, Alexis," he gasps, pushing Alexis off of them. Some coffee splashes from his mug onto her dress and she shrieks and jumps up, the coffee doing what his physical efforts weren't able to do.


"That's what you get for wearing white!" He watches as she storms off back to their room, feeling a little bad about it. Patrick stands and grabs David's mug, taking a gulp from it and making a face at the taste.

David looks out in the direction of the grill. "Everyone else called it a night while you were resting your eyes," Stevie answers for him without having to be asked. "It's just us, now."

"Lucky me." He means it sarcastically, but there's a part of him that's glad it's just the four of them, now.

Stevie of course picks up on it, and she smiles, gentle again. "This was a really nice wedding. I'm really happy for the two of you."

"Sincerity doesn't suit you, Stevie." She scoffs and hits his arm, but there's no force behind it.

Alexis reappears, wearing a tan sweater over her dress, and it suddenly hits him that tomorrow, everything's going to change. His parents are leaving, and Alexis will start packing for her own move.

"I'm going to miss you, Alexis." He doesn't mean to say it. He blames the hangover and exhaustion. And mom and dad, too, he doesn't add, because he knows she understands.

"Now who's being stupidly sincere?" But Alexis just looks at him, her face soft and sad now.

"It's not going to be the same in New York without you, David." She stops for a moment before booping Patrick. "You too, button." Patrick just smiles and takes her hand, squeezing it. "But mom was right. You've really landed on solid ground here, and you shouldn't screw that up. I'm proud of you."

David waves his hand dismissively, but he knows his eyes are red now, and not just from the lack of sleep. "Excuse you. That was me who said that."

She just smiles and kisses his cheek, and that shouldn't do it, but then he's crying and wrapping his arms around her in a hug that should be extremely awkward but isn't, and not just because he's still sitting. He can feel Patrick's hand rubbing reassurance into his shoulder.

"The sun's coming up." Stevie's voice pulls him out of his thoughts, and Alexis pulls away. He wipes his nose on his sleeve and looks over at where the light is starting to color the horizon.

"Technically the sun isn't..." He can hear Stevie hitting Patrick, who shuts up. "It's the start of our lives together," he tries instead, teasing but also tinged with emotion.

David doesn't look at him, instead finding his hand on his shoulder and holding it, and he knows Patrick is smiling behind him. "Honey. We started our lives together a long time ago."



David walks out of the bathroom and sighs at the sight before him. Patrick's in bed, on his phone again, no doubt answering emails from vendors and contractors about the new store, already a few days behind its original opening schedule.

He misses his husband. Between running the original location on his own and driving to vendor meetings to drum up support for the new one, they haven't seen much of each other before bed over the past couple of weeks. And bed has always been Patrick, on his phone, finishing up work as David drifts off to sleep feeling cold and alone on his side.

He climbs in next to Patrick, facing the wall the way he has been recently. He's not sure he could bear to fall asleep facing Patrick while he's feeling so lonely. Patrick's hand finds his shoulder and gently rubs it, and he feels at least a small bit of comfort in that.

"How's... the work coming along?"

"Late." Patrick's hand leaves his shoulder and his fingers tap on the phone again.

"Mmm." David turns onto his back, staring at the ceiling. He should leave Patrick alone to finish the emails so he can have enough time to sleep before tomorrow.

Instead, he oscillates for a moment, trying to decide if he's willing to have this argument tonight, before he grabs the phone out of Patrick's hand and sets it down on his nightstand.

"David! What the f..."

"Okay. Shut up for a second and listen. I know what you're doing is important, and that the store is behind and you need to handle all of these things and these people..."

"Yeah, because you're not helping with any of it!" That one hurts.

"...but. Patrick. I miss you. You're right here but I miss you. I don't care about the new store..."

"That's obvious." That one hurts more, somehow.

"...if it means... this. About us." He holds Patrick's gaze as long as he can stand to, Patrick's face hard in a way he's not sure he's really seen before, at least not directed at him.

This was a mistake.

His stomach clenches and he squeezes his eyes shut. "You know what? Forget it. Thank you for taking care of things. I'm sorry I'm apparently so useless." He rolls over and grabs the phone, dropping it somewhere behind him.

He opens his eyes again, staring at the wall and trying to focus on his breathing so his mind doesn't start going down a path he's going to quickly regret, and as he hears the soft tap of Patrick's fingers on his phone again, a tear runs down his cheek.

Then the tapping stops and he can feel Patrick shift behind him. "Babe?"

That's a good sign, he thinks, but he doesn't dare turn around.

"I'm sorry. That was... completely uncalled for. On my part."

He can feel Patrick's hand as he gently rests it on his side. An olive branch, he thinks, and he resists the urge to shake it off.

"You're right. I've just been so... focused on the store, and everything that's going wrong with it. I haven't been fair to you, recently. Especially tonight. I know you care. I know you're working hard. Please don't... don't listen to anything I just said. That was... hurtful, and wrong, and I don't know why I said any of it."

David reaches up, his hand finding Patrick's and resting there as he tries to think about how to respond.

"Do you need me to leave you alone? I understand if you're upset with me. I... I would be, too."

"No." David rolls onto his back again, not yet wanting to see the look in Patrick's eyes, but wanting to close some of the perceived distance between them. "You're right though..."

"No. David. Nothing I just said was right."

"...that I'm not doing as much as I should be doing to help. You're dealing with the new place almost by yourself, well into the night, every night. I should be helping with that, when I get home."

He can hear the disbelief in Patrick's voice when he answers. "David. You're doing the vendor outreach, and contracts. You designed the layout and picked the paints and furniture for the new store. You're running the entire old store by yourself, even though I know how much you hate closing the books every night and running inventory. You're doing more than enough."

David just hums. This wasn't the conversation he'd been expecting when all he'd wanted was to be held as he fell asleep, but he feels like it was probably an important one to have.

He can feel Patrick shift next to him again, and he turns his head to see Patrick on his back now, staring up at the ceiling. "I'm sorry, too."

Patrick looks at him, surprised by the statement. "For what?"

He can feel his lips twitching upward, despite himself. "There were probably better ways for me to broach the subject than grabbing your phone in the middle of an email and throwing it away."

Patrick exhales sharply, like he's trying to hold back a laugh. "Yeah, well. That definitely got my attention, so it was pretty effective." He turns back onto his side, serious again, tentatively placing a hand on David's chest. "But you shouldn't have had to. I should have been more considerate of your feelings. Not just tonight, but for the past few weeks."

David hesitates briefly before finding Patrick's hand, interlacing their fingers, and Patrick seems to breathe a sigh of relief at it. "Let's never do this again."

Patrick bites his lip, as if he's wanting to agree but can't. "David, I can't promise that this will never happen again, because I can get so fixated on a problem that I forget about anything else. And I know that's not fair to you. But I... I'll try my best. To not forget about you, again. And if I do, please... do this, again. Remind me that you matter too, even though I don't know how I ever manage to let myself forget that. You are the most important thing to me. Always. Sometimes I just need to be reminded of that."

He nods. It's not what he wanted to hear, but he knows it's the truth, which means it's probably better than any temporary placation that Patrick could offer. "Okay."

Patrick props himself up on an elbow, the hand on David's chest moving to his cheek and gently cupping it. He looks nervous, but hopeful. "Can I kiss you?"

David can feel himself smile, and Patrick face seems to fill with joy at that. "Please."

"I love you," Patrick breathes, closing the rest of the distance between them.

And as they kiss, making up for lost time and losing themselves in each other, David knows everything will be okay. More than okay.

Because even if it's sometimes like this, and sometimes he spirals and sometimes Patrick needs a nudge, they'll always have each other and their love for each other.

For the rest of their lives.

Chapter End Notes

This has been such a great adventure. Thank you so much to everyone who's read, left kudos, and commented. Your support has meant the world to me.

I thought it was important to end on a less-than-perfect note. Real relationships settle into a comfortable rhythm, but also are not without issues, and it's how couples work through those issues that makes them last. Patrick and David have had somewhat of an idealized romance (even in canon, with only a few hiccups) that I wanted to show them at their lowest, to prove that even then their love for each other will carry them through.

This AU has been an amazing one to write in, and I want to thank blueink3 again for writing such a remarkable (and remarkably complete) work.

And thank you again to all of you for reading!


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