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David's Great Idea

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“So you can just tie that around your waist, okay?” David turns away as Mandy shuts the bathroom door and tries to take a deep, calming breath.

“Okay, okay, okay, this is fine. Everything is fine. I can just—” David scoops up the pile that is his poor, stained comforter — and oh god, the sheets too — and anxiously rotates on the spot. He needs to wash these immediately, but he should really spot treat the affected areas first or the stain will just set. He glances at the bathroom, but no, Mandy is still in there, and he really can’t afford to waste time.

“Okay, um, okay. I’m going to... I’ll just be right back. Take your time in there. Um, do you need anything?”

“No.” Mandy sounds miserable, and David grimaces. He’s really fucking this all up.

“Okay, it’s alright. I’ll be right, um, right back!”

He rushes through the adjoining door to his parents’ room and sends a frantic thank you to Mariah that they aren’t in right now as he launches into their bathroom to dab at the stain under the tap. It’s actually a pretty small spot and will probably come out. Maybe this isn’t the category IV disaster David originally believed it to be.

He carries his comforter and sheets to the office where he finds Stevie leaning back in her chair with a book.

“I need to use the washing machine.” David brandishes the soiled sheets as evidence, but Stevie just raises an eyebrow.

“You know where the machines are.” She returns her attention to the book, and David knows she’s just fucking with him because she spent at least 20 minutes yesterday complaining about how that book isn’t even that good.

“Stevie! Help me! The well-being of my comforter hangs in the balance here. It would be a crime against humanity to let linens of this high a thread count to suffer any longer.”

Stevie moves at a glacial pace to retrieve her bookmark and place it with far more care than is necessary between the pages of her terrible book. Finally, she looks up and her gaze lands on the stain. David sees her eyes widen for a second before she schools her features into practiced disinterest.

“Has Aunt Flo come to visit you, David?”

“I don’t know what that means, but Mandy is having a situation and I need to get back before she thinks I abandoned her in this time of need.”

Stevie’s expression softens slightly. “Give them here. I’ll wash them.”

“Thank you for your immense generosity. You are too kind.” David thrusts the comforter and sheets in her arms and spins on his heels toward the exit before hesitating.

“I’m sure Alexis has pads or—”

“No, no, no. That has already been, um, taken care of.” David waves his hands around to put an end to that particular line of thought. “It’s just… I think she will probably be, um, uncomfortable in her pants, so maybe…”

“David, I’m not going to give your boss’ stepdaughter my jeans!”

“Mkay, as if you don’t have a spare somewhere in your sinkhole of a car.”

Stevie scoffs and rolls her eyes. “Fine. Hang on.”

She stomps noisily up the stairs to the laundry room and David fights the desire to follow her and ensure his sheets receive the care they deserve. She returns with a freshly laundered pair of jeans.

David raises an eyebrow. “You do your laundry here at the motel?”

“Yeah, so?”

He clears his throat and folds the jeans neatly to avoid making eye contact. “Mm, well. Thank you for. This.”

Stevie turns away to head back upstairs to the laundry room. “Whatever. Best wishes.”

“Warmest regards.”

David returns to his room to find Mandy hovering nervously by the bathroom door. She’s clutching her cell phone as tightly as Alexis’ grubby hands on that cuff bracelet she claims Sienna Miller “swapped” with her at that one Halloween party.

“Okay, so the bedding is being washed, and I think everything’s going to be alright! Crisis averted.”

Mandy still looks upset, so David holds out the jeans as a peace offering.

“Um, so these are from my friend Stevie, so you don’t have to, you know…” David waves a hand vaguely and tries not to visibly cringe. “Wear those anymore.”

“Uh, thanks.” Mandy reaches for the jeans, but doesn’t make any movement toward the bathroom to change. David feels his palms begin to sweat with how uncomfortable this situation is right now. Finally, Mandy continues speaking. “My dad called.”

“O-oh? That’s… nice.”

“He’s not going to be able to pick me up until later. And my stepmom isn’t answering her phone.”

“Later? How, um, how much later?”

Mandy suddenly looks very fascinated by Alexis’ bed, which David can’t understand because Alexis still uses the fugly motel comforter and there’s no way anyone would ever want to look at that.

“Like, maybe around midnight?”

David tries not to hyperventilate. Alexis said she wouldn’t be home until late for some reason David didn’t care enough to remember, so he can’t even force her to help. Stevie will be no help obviously. What is he supposed to do with a child — teenager? whatever — by himself?! God, and he thought his poor ruined bedding was the worst part of the evening.

David looks at Mandy — and oh god, oh fuck — she looks like she’s about to cry, and David can’t let that happen.

“Okay, it’s alright. This isn’t a big deal. We can, um, we can.” David racks his brain desperately for an idea. “Slumber party!”

“What?!”

“We'll have a slumber party. Only you won’t be spending the night. You’re not, um, right?” At Mandy’s eyeroll and nod, David continues. “We’ll get snacks and watch some movies and it’s fine. It’ll be fun.”

David tries to smile. He thinks maybe he doesn’t succeed judging by the expression on Mandy’s face. She looks like she’s about to flee back into the bathroom.

“You don’t have to—”

“No, no, no, just shh okay. This is good.” David bends to retrieve the box of snacks he hides from Alexis under his bed.

“Cheetü?” Mandy snorts out a laugh as David unloads bags of chips and cookies on his bed.

“Mkay, not all of us can afford name brand snacks any more. If you want Cheetos, maybe you need to ask your stepmother to pay me more. Now do you want any Ooreos or not?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess. I’ll just…” Mandy gestures awkwardly toward the bathroom with Stevie’s jeans and backs away.

David fishes out some spare change from Alexis’ side of the nightstand and goes out to buy them each a soda from the machine. When he returns, Mandy is shoveling Cheetüs in her mouth, and David has to bite back a smile. Maybe he’s not so bad at this after all.

“You can sit.” David nods toward his bed. “It’s okay. I mean, the sheets are already in the washing machine, and I don’t even want to think about what sort of stains are already on this disgusting old mattress so. Doesn’t really matter.”

He mentally applauds his generous spirit and only thinks about laying down a towel one or two times. Perhaps thrice. But that’s still really big of him.

“I’m picking out the movie because I have a feeling you haven’t received a proper education on correct romantic comedies.”

“I actually prefer horror—”

“No! Nuh-uh, I’m choosing, and we’re watching Bridget Jones’ Diary because Bridget is a hot mess who I go to for inspiration when I’m going through some shit, and you’re clearly having a messy day. No offense.”

David is shocked at how painlessly the next few hours pass. Mandy has an impressive, almost Stevie level of snark and demonstrates an appropriate level of appreciation for Renée Zellweger and later for Julia Stiles when they watch 10 Things I Hate About You. She also seems to be much more relaxed than earlier, which David makes a mental note to tell Alexis about. Obviously he does not make people uncomfortable with his “intense vibe.”

“David?” Mandy’s voice is so soft that David wonders if maybe she’s hoping he doesn’t hear.

“Mm?”

“You’re… you know? Um. You’re g-gay, right?”

David closes his eyes and counts to ten. How has he been left with the responsibility of mentoring the queer youth of Schitt’s Creek and the surrounding Elm County area yet again? He is vastly unqualified for this position as evidenced by the Connor debacle. He briefly considers shutting down the conversation. He knows Mandy wouldn’t press the discussion. But she deserves to have someone she can talk to, so David knows that he will just have to try his best.

“Yes, uh, pansexual actually. But yes, I am a queer man.”

“H-how did you know?”

David keeps his eyes on the movie where Julia and Heath are playing paintball. He senses that Mandy needs this conversation to happen while they both pretend to continue watching the movie, but honestly he deserves some kind of award for not pausing the movie before speaking.

“I’m not sure you ever really know for certain. I think we’re constantly learning about ourselves in life, and sexuality is… confusing and messy.” David sneaks a glance at Mandy and sees her frowning. He really hopes he isn’t making things worse. “But I, um, I had my first crush on a boy when I was six years old. My first crush on a girl was when I was eight. I didn’t learn the term ‘pansexual’ until high school, and it just felt… right, I guess.”

“What if nothing feels right?” Mandy’s voice is barely above a whisper.

“That’s okay too.” David clears his throat. “Labels can be useful for understanding our identities, but it’s okay if you can’t find a word that feels right. Or if you aren’t sure how you’re feeling or if your feelings change, that’s, uh, that’s alright too. Because sometimes—”

“No, that’s not what I meant.” Mandy’s tone is so sharp that David stops pretending to watch the movie and turns to face her. Mandy doesn’t meet his gaze. “I mean, what if nothing feels right? Like, I don’t feel… What if I don’t have crushes? On boys or girls. Or any other gender.”

“Oh.” David swallows. “That’s okay too. You may, um, that may change at some point in your life, but also it may not. And that’s perfectly normal either way. There’s a lot of people who don’t experience romantic or sexual attraction. Or maybe they experience one but not the other. Or maybe they only experience it rarely. There’s nothing weird or unusual about any of it, and if anyone at school or just… anyone at all ever tries to tell you there’s something wrong with you for that, then fuck them.”

Mandy lets out a watery chuckle and finally looks at David.

“I personally prefer to annihilate people with my words because I hold a certain standard for my personal appearance and scars and bruises and cuts just really don’t suit my aesthetic. But if anyone tries to tell you your identity is wrong, my friend Stevie will fuck them up, okay?”

This gets a bigger laugh out of her, and David will never admit to another living soul the way his heart expands just a little bit with affection in that moment.

Although he has no plans to establish a baby-sitters club any time soon, David thinks that maybe this evening’s venture in chaperoning a member of the local youth hasn’t been a complete unmitigated disaster.