Whatever David was expecting from his meeting to fill out his business incorporation paperwork, it sure as hell wasn’t Patrick Brewer.
Actually, David knows exactly what he was expecting — it was Ray, with his lack of tact and his approximately eight thousand different businesses and his intense energy that David has seen in some of his New York crowd, except then it was all pharmaceutical-based and he’s pretty sure Ray is just… like that. Instead, though, Ray is pushing a ticket into his hand, and calling out for a Patrick, and suddenly he’s shaking hands with one of the most unironically clean-cut people David has ever seen in real life.
David isn’t good with meeting new people. He knows he’s a lot, and he’s okay with that; he’s not exactly a people person, and it’s not like he particularly wants to be. But Patrick seems warm and friendly, and David suddenly, inexplicably wants to not sound like a complete idiot.
Which, of course, means he immediately does.
The thing is, he can describe the business he wants to build. Clearly and succinctly, in what Google has reliably informed him is his ‘elevator pitch’. He’s described it to Stevie, who responded with something almost resembling non-sarcastic enthusiasm; he’s described it to Alexis, who immediately got it, and added a few ideas he refuses to admit were great ones. But between Patrick’s comments on his vocabulary and his sports metaphors, David just can’t get the words out. What comes out instead is a garbled, buzzwordy overview, and he can’t even blame Patrick for his barely-concealed smirk. He takes the paperwork from Patrick, insisting again that he does have a clear idea, because it’s important to him that Patrick knows David is serious about this. When Patrick also hands over his business card, David almost refuses to take it, but finds his fingers closing over it even as he says he’s good.
It’s only later, when he’s sitting on a motel room floor sharing a joint with Stevie, that he realises that even though Patrick was snippy and basically told David his idea was a failure, he doesn’t actually feel particularly offended. He doesn’t feel put down, or attacked. He thinks Patrick was maybe… teasing him?
Teasing (at least the non-sexual kind) is not something David is overly familiar with. His family make jabs that are only sometimes intentionally hurtful, his friends back in New York would make back-handed comments and then make him feel stupid and small if he let his hurt show, Stevie just drowns him in sarcasm. But for all of Patrick’s comments, David doesn’t actually feel like any of them were malicious. Designed to get a rise out of him, maybe, but he gets the feeling Patrick would have been delighted if David had shot back.
Or the weed from the floor in room 2 is just very strong. Hard to say.
In retrospect, getting high and calling Patrick was possibly not one of David’s best moments.
He’s not even entirely sure why he went to the store. Maybe he was feeling inspired with his inhibitions a little lowered, or maybe he just wanted to avoid touching any more motel room sheets. Whatever his motivation, he spends close to an hour scraping a chair along the hardwood floor from one location to another before flopping down into it. He spends another half hour or so staring at the walls before he admits defeat, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out Patrick’s business card.
It’s all there, in his head. He can see it. He wants Patrick to know that he’s not a bored rich boy (ex-rich boy) leasing a business on a whim, that he knows what he wants the business to be. He’s even finished oscillating, decided on a name. He’ll get the words out properly this time, he’ll give his elevator pitch, he’ll sound professional and secure, he’ll—
“Hi David, it’s Patrick.”
Nine — NINE! — voicemails later, David gives up and barely refrains from flinging his phone across the room. He wonders if it’s possible to literally die of embarrassment.
It’s fine. It’s totally fine. He’ll fill out the form himself. It can’t be that hard, right?
A couple of hours later, he gives up. He’s ruined his incorporation paperwork with scribbles and addendums, and it’s not exactly adding to the air of professionalism he has so far completely failed to cultivate. He knows he needs help, and shockingly, Patrick hasn’t returned his call. Calls.
He musters up every scrap of courage he has, and walks over to Ray’s.
As soon as he arrives, there it is again — Patrick’s smirk, the teasing, which should feel mean-spirited and yet somehow doesn’t. He’s not as horrified as he should be when Patrick mentions playing his incoherent voicemails for his friends; he’s about 85% sure Patrick’s kidding, which is confirmed a moment later. At least until Ray chimes in from across the room, and Patrick has to confess he did play them in the office.
David thinks he should be more offended about that than he is. Maybe he would have been, if Patrick wasn’t immediately handing over completed paperwork and telling David his business is a good idea. For some reason, it means more coming from Patrick than from anyone else so far — probably because Patrick’s the only person he’s told who actually knows about these things.
When Patrick says the store name is pretentious, David finally has the presence of mind to volley back. The amusement on Patrick’s face makes David realize he was right — he does seem to enjoy David playing along. He can’t seem to find a response to Patrick’s offer to “leave a message” if he can’t reach David, but he can’t quite help smiling, either.
He’s halfway home before he realises he’s grinning down at the manila folder Patrick gave him. This might, maybe, actually work.
A few days later, he’s in the store with Alexis unpacking boxes.
Well, specifically, he’s unpacking boxes, while Alexis flits around opening jars (only some of which are supposed to be testers) and rattling off buzzwords from her textbook. After asking her to grab a box of hand cream for the third time, and being blown off for the third time, he rolls his eyes and goes into the storeroom to get it himself, ignoring his sister as she tries to convince him to let her set up a brand in the store.
When he finally finds the box and comes back out, Patrick is standing in the middle of the store while Alexis giggles and wraps him in one of their very expensive, not for trying on, cat hair scarves. He’s dropping off David’s business licence, apparently, which doesn’t really explain why Alexis is rubbing cat fur all over his face, but that’s none of David’s business. He glances over at the licence and for a minute he thinks Patrick has framed it for him — “Isn’t that the sweetest thing?” Alexis coos, and David has to admit that it is, indeed, sweet, even if the frame is not exactly on-brand — but Patrick quickly corrects her that they all come framed.
Patrick’s looking around the store, and a small furrow appears in his brow.
“There’s a lot of stuff in here, David. You don’t want to spend too much money up front.”
Alexis chimes in with her textbook-regurgitating opinion, and David is far more annoyed about her than Patrick — it’s a fair concern, really, if Patrick doesn’t know about his business model.
“What are the textbooks saying about curating a selection of products from local vendors and selling them on consignment in a one stop shop retail environment that benefits both the vendor and the customer?” He snaps, and he’s directing it at Alexis, but he can’t help glancing over at Patrick at the end. He also can’t help noticing that Patrick looks genuinely impressed by his answer.
He’s surprised, and a bit flattered, when Patrick offers to help. He’s less surprised when Alexis ‘volunteers’ Patrick to move all the boxes, but she also wasn’t wrong about the weight of some of them, and Patrick… well, Patrick looks capable of lifting a 54-pound box, that’s for sure, so David doesn’t put up too much of an objection.
Alexis gives him a look when Patrick heads out the back. He’s not entirely sure what it means, but with Alexis, it’s almost always best to ignore it.
The next day when David heads into the store, he’s trying very hard to get that morning’s conversation with Alexis out of his head. She’s convinced that Patrick is “either newly married or gay”, and David is equally convinced that no matter Patrick’s sexuality he is absolutely not Patrick’s type. Not that it matters, because he’s not… that’s not… the store is enough to be worrying about right now. But when Patrick walks through the door about ten minutes after David arrives, he can’t help a quick, totally unnoticeable glance down at Patrick’s left hand.
No ring. Not that it matters.
It turns out Patrick’s not there to revoke David’s business licence (his immediate assumption), but he’s also, apparently, not there for Alexis. David is definitely not prepared for what Patrick is there for: he wants to help David get start-up capital.
David’s not sure what to do with that. He can’t sense an ulterior motive, and Patrick hasn’t spent enough time buttering him up for it to feel insincere. Still, though, David’s never had anyone offer to help him just because before. Patrick’s upfront that he’d expect payment if the grants came through, but he also confesses that he picked out the frame for David’s business licence, which is definitely not a point in his favour.
David’s always on the lookout for the catch. Every time things have looked like they might be going well in his life, something has come along to spectacularly fuck it up. But even his catastrophizing brain can’t see the pitfall here. Patrick seems nice, and genuine, and he has the business acumen David is acutely aware he’s missing. David’s not too proud to acknowledge that friends, actual friends, are something he’s in short supply of — has been in short supply of for far longer than he was willing to admit to himself until recently — and Patrick could be that for him. There might actually not be a catch for once.
That is, until Patrick says, “Oh, I’m going to get the money.” And he’s cocky and certain and his voice is pitched half an octave lower than normal, and David’s heart drops through his stomach and straight into his dick.
Fuck. There’s the catch.
David has had crushes on straight guys before. And gay girls, for that matter. He’s introspective enough to realise that yeah, a big part of it is self-preservation, but it’s also that it took him a really long time to really get the idea of only being attracted to certain genders.
(If he’s completely honest, he still doesn’t get it — gender is literally irrelevant to him, it seems as arbitrary as only sleeping with people with brown eyes — but he’s learned over the years to respect it.)
It will be okay. It will. David is very, very used to one-sided crushes. He can deal with this.
He can’t deal with this.
The problem is that Patrick is nice. And funny, and smart, and he acts like he doesn’t even mind that David is a completely neurotic mess. He gives David shit, pokes and prods and teases, and yet never once does David doubt that it’s all in fun. And yeah, he’s not exactly unfortunate-looking, either.
They fall into a rhythm, unpacking and organizing and planning. Patrick has so many spreadsheets it makes David’s head spin, and he mostly manages to hide his eye roll when David decides to rearrange the entire layout for the fourth time. When it’s just the two of them, it’s good. It’s easy, and it’s natural.
When Alexis is in the store, though, she waggles her eyebrows every time David and Patrick snark at each other. Stevie hasn’t met Patrick yet, but she keeps making incredibly crude gestures every time he comes up in conversation (which isn’t that often), and the two of them are seriously getting in David’s head.
Mostly, it’s fine. If every once in a while his mouth gets dry when Patrick bends over to pick up a box, David can deal — he’s only human, after all. And if, in those rare private moments in the shower he uses to get himself off quickly and quietly, he very determinedly doesn’t think about anyone or anything, that’s probably for the best.
Everything is going so well that when his mother mentions Sebastien Raine, it takes almost a full minute for him to remember what a complete nightmare Sebastien was. His whole life in New York, all the parties and the drugs and the sex and the shitty failed relationships, feel like a hazy dream these days, and he’d just about forgotten how badly Sebastien fucked him up until Alexis, in her typically helpful way, reminds him.
So when his mother says Sebastien is coming here , to Schitt’s Creek, his brain just— short circuits. The idea of seeing Sebastien again makes him feel ill, like there are bugs crawling under his skin. He leaves before he can say something stupid, or cry, or yell at his mother. Or all three.
“It’s just… it’s weird, right? It’s weird that he’s coming all the way here, rather than flying her out to New York which would make way more sense, and would have the added benefit of me never having to see his stupid smug face ever again,” David is ranting in the store later, while Patrick unboxes wine in the back corner. He’s not entirely sure Patrick is listening to him, and frankly doesn’t actually need him to be, but Patrick turns to him and frowns a little, a bottle of wine still in his hand.
“You don’t think you can be friends with exes?” he asks.
“Uh, what? This is not about being friends with exes . This is about slimy pretentious assholes who think their artistic temperament is an excuse to treat people like crap, and mess around on them, and convince them to do things that they’re not really comfortable—” David stutters to a stop, suddenly realising that this is way too much to unload on a business partner.
Patrick’s face softens. “David, that’s— I’m really sorry that happened to you.”
David shrugs. “It’s not like I’m exactly easy to deal with,” he says, with a small self-deprecating smile.
“Yeah, but that’s still not—”
“No, it’s fine. I’m fine. Really, Patrick, that is very kind of you, and thank you, but I’m not, like, traumatized or anything. Sebastien wasn’t the first or last person to be an asshole to me.”
Patrick’s really frowning now. Before he can say anything else, David decides a subject change is in order.
“And anyway, why on earth would you assume this was about being friends with exes? I mean, duh, Stevie.”
He’s right, that does distract Patrick. “Stevie?”
David laughs. “Uh, yeah, Stevie. I don’t know if you’ve met her — short, dark hair, extremely sarcastic. Stevie.”
“You dated Stevie ?”
“Um, kind of? It was a friends with benefits thing, and then it was a little bit of feelings with benefits thing, and then it was a feelings with no benefits thing, and then we eventually got back to friends with no feelings. Which is good. It’s better, for both of us, for sure.”
“Huh,” Patrick says. “I just thought—”
“I, uh, I thought you were gay. I’m sorry, that’s really—”
“Okay, first of all,” David interrupts, aiming for a stern tone but probably missing the mark entirely, “please don’t apologize for thinking I’m gay, that is probably worse than making the assumption in the first place. And it’s not like you’re the first person to think that.” And then he launches into his wine analogy, the same one he gave to Stevie what feels like a hundred years ago, in basically this very spot, when it was an over-crowded, probably infested, small-town general store. He can’t help being amused that Patrick was literally stocking wine at the beginning of this conversation.
Patrick’s nodding, and he’s got this I don’t really get all of this but I’m cool with it expression on his face. “So just to be clear…” he starts, when David’s finished.
Ugh, here comes the 20 Questions on Multi-Gender Attraction. “Yeah?”
“Sports analogies are a no-go, but wine analogies are good?”
David huffs out a laugh. “Oh, yeah, definitely. You want me to understand something, you’re going to need to put it in alcohol terms. For sure.”
Patrick grins. “Noted.”
He makes it through seeing Sebastien for the first time in years without either crying or begging Sebastien to fuck him, which is certainly an improvement on when they broke up, at least. At the store that day, Patrick thankfully doesn’t mention Sebastien once, and their conversation stays very light and business-focused, which is good. It’s exactly what David needs. Being in this store, with Patrick, it’s very grounding.
Which is why it’s so un- grounding when he heads home that night and his mother is freaking out about the photos Sebastien manipulated her into taking. Moira Rose may be a lot to deal with, in many ways, but she definitely doesn’t deserve the humiliation she’ll feel when Sebastien publicizes them, inevitably with some condescending bullshit of a story wrapped around them. If only there was something he could…
But there is, isn’t there? David’s always been good at using sex to get what he wants, and Sebastien was sliming all over him in the lobby earlier, wasn’t he?
David gets up, changes his shirt. Puts on a leather jacket and just a smidge of eyeliner. What’s the worst that could happen? He has one more night of sex with Sebastien Raine that he has to drink to forget? Add it to the list. At least David will be the one doing the manipulating for once.
Fucking Sebastien is, indeed, just like David remembers it. Objectively it’s actually pretty hot, if he basically switches off his feelings about what an unmitigated asshole Sebastien is. Sebastien knows how to push all of David’s buttons, and if he’s doing it to get the reaction he wants to see rather than because he wants to make David feel good, well, the end result is still the same. Finally (and not a moment too soon, frankly, because David is getting older) Sebastien finishes, and immediately rolls over and goes to sleep.
David counts to a thousand, to be on the safe side. Then he gets up, quietly makes his way over to the camera that has just been left on the tiny motel table, and slips the storage card out of its slot. He dunks it in a glass of water several times before quietly, so quietly, crushing it under the chair leg. Luckily, he’s had a lot of practice sneaking out of unfamiliar rooms in the middle of the night. He picks up the card and his clothes and is almost at the door when he stops.
Actually. What if he lets Sebastien think he’s won?
The next morning, when his mother knocks on Sebastien’s door and Sebastien goes outside to talk to her, David dresses at record speed and makes sure the SD card is still where he left it, tucked deep into his jacket pocket. He then waits until he hears his mother ask for the camera before he opens the door, and he makes sure to walk away slowly enough to hear her demand the memory card. He can’t resist the smug look on his face when he pulls the card out of his pocket and waves it up in the air for them both to see, and he takes immense pleasure in watching Sebastien’s face drop as David explains exactly what he did to it.
His mother takes him by the arm as they walk off, and thanks him for what he did. “We both won,” David replies, and it’s kind of true, but he can’t help feeling a little bit slimy. Not because he used sex as manipulation, but because fucking Sebastien just felt… wrong.
No surprises there. It’s Sebastien Raine.
David is about 95% sure that his shirt covers up the bruises Sebastien left on him, but when he catches a few lingering looks from Patrick in the shop that day, he’s not entirely sure. And he feels… not ashamed exactly, but… a bit self-conscious. And he doesn’t mention Sebastien Raine to Patrick again.
After the weekend, when Alexis has lice and David basically runs out of the motel screaming, he notices and appreciates that Patrick doesn’t make too much fun of him for wearing a shower cap under his hat. Instead he points out that David could catch lice at any moment , which is somehow worse, frankly.
Then Patrick does something David didn’t expect — he offers to let David crash at his place. He sees Stevie gesture wildly, and he studiously avoids making eye contact with her as he thanks Patrick but lets him know Stevie already offered.
(Offered might be a bit of a stretch, but she agreed, so.)
Later, in Stevie’s bed — very platonically — she starts poking and prodding. She says he seems flustered . David thinks he may have insisted that Patrick is just his business partner maybe one time too many. It’s not like it’s not true , but… still.
All at once, the store launch is upon them. David’s energy, nervous and fidgety at the best of times, goes into absolute overdrive, and it comes out in unfiltered innuendo. Multiple times. He tells Patrick he has a clean mouth , and somehow, Patrick doesn’t run screaming — instead he tells David he has a sloppy mouth and David’s brain completely short-circuits. David talks about their launch being soft and not hard and oh, God, he can hear it coming out of his mouth but doesn’t seem to be able to stop it.
And yet, despite everything, every fear that has kept him awake, every panicked late-night re-sketch of the layout, every moment of doubt in which he’s considered throwing the whole thing in — Patrick tells him to relax, and he does. Patrick has fixed the lights and bought insurance, and when he tells David to open the doors, David suddenly feels like… like he can actually do this.
And they do.
All of Twyla’s distressing family members pile into the store, and so does what seems like most of Schitt’s Creek. David’s not stupid, he knows a lot of them are here for free food and wine, but almost everyone there buys at least one thing and there’s a steady stream of people in and out for the whole event.
Finally, it’s all over. They’ve chased out the last of the stragglers who were hoping to take home the leftover wine (that’s a definite no) and David lets out a breath he didn’t actually realise he’s been holding.
“Congratulations, man,” Patrick says, and suddenly he and David are hugging. David expects a manly back slap and a quick step back, but instead Patrick is still there , and David thinks, maybe, just maybe, he—
And then the lights flicker.
“I can fix that,” Patrick says, and the moment’s over. David tries very hard not to be too disappointed.
David wakes up on his (ugh) birthday feeling like he always feels on his birthday — gross, and with a sense of impending doom. Granted, that’s how he feels a lot of non-birthday days, too, but still. He tries, he really does, to keep his spirits up, but of course Patrick figures out something’s wrong and somehow drags it out of David anyway.
He asks how old David’s turning, and the look on David’s face must be something, because Patrick doesn’t even push the question, changing tacks entirely and asking if David has any plans, instead.
David intends to deflect, make up something benign. Instead, to his horror, the truth bursts out instead: “I plan on popping a pill, crying a bit, and falling asleep early. So just a regular weeknight.” As soon as it comes out of his mouth, he wonders if he can stuff one of the bottles he’s unpacking straight down his throat so he can never be that horrifically vulnerable again.
Luckily, Patrick breezes over instead instead of making a big deal. Instead, he invites David to dinner, and when David demurs, he insists he’d like to. And David, apparently, is powerless to say no.
Patrick grins, and then horrifically over-spritzes the vegetables.
The nagging sense of doubt finally overwhelms David around 7pm and he calls Stevie, inviting her to join them for dinner. It’s not that he can’t spend time alone with Patrick, and it’s not like Patrick has given any indication (other than drowning the vegetables) that this is anything other than a friendly, collegial birthday dinner. David is just worried. Worried he’ll enjoy himself too much, worried he’ll forget to rein himself in. Worried he’ll get his hopes up, before they inevitably come crashing down around him. So while he doesn’t tell Stevie she’s a buffer, that is absolutely what she is, whether she knows it or not.
Patrick is dressed up. That’s the first thing he notices. And yeah, he wears shirts at the store, but with the jacket and everything he looks… very sharp. Incredibly overdressed for Café Tropical, but still.
Not a date, David, he thinks, and slides into the booth opposite Patrick.
They joke about the menu, and wine pairings, and David’s pretty sure he imagines the look of disappointment on Patrick’s face when Stevie breezes in a little late. He disappears to the restroom, and Stevie immediately starts insisting that she has just gatecrashed a date. David deflects every point she makes, with less and less insistence as she goes on.
Finally, Stevie puts the gift Patrick has brought with him onto the table.
“If there is anything remotely sentimental in here, he is on a date with you right now,” she declares.
David stares at the bag. There won’t be. Patrick is just one of those people who understands gift etiquette — he probably has a box full of dollar store birthday cards in his drawer. The gift will be something thoughtful, but generic. David’s absolutely sure of it. It will be nothing.
It’s not nothing.
Patrick has framed the receipt from their first purchase — in a very nice frame, David is clearly rubbing off on him — and suddenly David is blinking back tears.
He doesn’t miss the look on Stevie’s face — she’s trying to look smug, he’s pretty sure, but she also seems to be genuinely delighted. What he definitely doesn’t miss, though, is the very light flush creeping up under Patrick’s collar.
When Stevie gets up to leave David thinks he should protest, but he doesn’t. Suddenly, he very much just wants it to be him and Patrick for the evening.
They have an amazing time. They drink cheap wine out of plastic cups and eat their respective body weights in mozzarella sticks and deep-fried… something. David thinks they should have run out of things to talk about by now, and yet somehow they chat and laugh until they’re chased out of the café at closing. Date or no date, it may be one of the best nights David’s ever had.
By the time they’re back at the motel, though, David’s brain has gone into overdrive and he’s pretty much convinced himself Stevie’s wrong. Patrick is a nice, sentimental guy, and even if he’s not straight, David’s still not his type, which is fine. It’s fine. He’ll say goodnight and get out of the car, and everything will be fine.
His hand is on the door handle when Patrick’s eyes flick down to David’s lips, just for a millisecond.
Fuck it, David thinks, and kisses him.
It shouldn’t be as hot as it is. His mouth doesn’t even open, and neither does Patrick’s. It’s a relatively chaste first kiss, and they’re both still wearing their seatbelts. But when David sits back his pulse is racing, and he cannot think of a single thing to say.
And then Patrick thanks him , and David feels a warmth curling low in his belly. No one has ever thanked him for a kiss before. Or, well, for anything really.
“For what?” he manages to ask.
“I’ve never done that before, with a guy,” Patrick answers, quietly. “And I was getting a little scared that I was gonna let you leave here without us having done that. So, uh, thank you, for, um, making that happen for us.”
David can feel the grin spreading across his face. Knows he looks giddy, and doesn’t care. It’s the most honest thing he thinks anyone has ever said to him.
“Well,” he manages. “Fortunately, I am a very generous person.” He worries for a second that it might be too flippant, but Patrick huffs out a relieved laugh, and David knows that for once he’s said the right thing.
“Can we talk tomorrow?” Patrick asks. And it’s not a we need to talk , it’s not a threat or a warning; it’s a promise, and David couldn’t stop smiling if he tried.
“We can talk whenever you’d like,” he says, and because he’s incapable of staying serious for too long, he adds, “Just preferably not before 10am, because I’m not really a morning person.”
“Mm-hmm,” Patrick responds, smirking, because of course, he already knows that. He’s seen David when the store opens, and wanted David to kiss him anyway. It’s an overwhelming feeling, but in the best way.
He gets out of the car. “Good night David,” Patrick calls through the window.
David bends down. “Good night Patrick,” he responds, and smiles all the way back to his motel room. He knows he has the stupidest look on his face as he walks through the door. Luckily, Alexis doesn’t seem to notice, and then his parents are bursting through the door with cake and singing.
Finally, finally Alexis ushers Johnny and Moira out of the room, and David flops down on his bed, grinning like a maniac at the ceiling.
He’ll talk to Patrick tomorrow.