Actions

Work Header

Sexaphobia

Work Text:

Patrick was afraid of many things. Centipedes. Bank robberies. Being ill-prepared for a zombie invasion. And having a job.

"I pulled a lot of strings to get you a job," Ryan said, encouragingly. Patrick was also afraid of marionettes so Ryan's suggestion of working on the set of Starcrossed sounded more terrifying than supportive.

"It'll be fun!" Marilyn added.

"You think karaoke is fun," Patrick answered, crossing his arms and sinking into the couch.

Marilyn exchanged a frustrated look with Ryan. The two of them, standing over him in the living room, reminded him of his parents when they would try to convince Patrick to get his own place. Finally Marilyn sighed and sat next to him. "Look, Patrick. You can't just stay cooped up in the house all day."

Ryan nodded. "She's right. Social interaction is healthy."

"Which is why you're so weird," Marilyn interjected.

"We know you haven't left the house since that ....thing with Elise ended."

Marilyn shot him a look. "It's called dating."

"Mookie, I told you before I'm not going to call it that."

"Ryan!"

"Anyway, wouldn't you like to make some money again, Patrick? There's really nothing else in this house you could auction off."

Patrick considered this. The only things of real value in house were his rubber ducky collection and Mars; both were priceless. And maybe it was time to get out of the house. When he was still with Elise, they used to go out together all the time. They went to bakeries, florists, musical performances… Then at Marilyn and Ryan's wedding reception, Patrick popped the question while they were slow dancing.

"Elise…Would you go to the spider house at the zoo with me?"

Elise laughed. "You're hilarious." She always said that but Patrick didn't know if it meant yes or no, so he just stared. Finally she answered, "I'm going back home tomorrow. Remember?"

"Oh. So how about next weekend?"

She laughed again then paused. "You're serious."

"Of course. I take our relationship very seriously."

Elise stopped dancing and leaned back. "Whoa- relationship? Patrick, we're not together."

"Oh." Patrick dropped his hands from Elise's waist. But wait, then- "What about all our dates? The bakeries and-"

"We were helping Marilyn and Ryan plan their wedding. I mean sure, we had dinner together a couple times but that doesn't- they were just casual dates. You understand, don't you Patrick?"

"Yes. Of course." Actually, Patrick didn't understand. So the next day he opened a netflix account and rented a new romantic comedy everyday so he could research how to win a girl's heart. Three months later, all he had figured out was which Chinese restaurant delivered the best steamed bao. So he gave up and decided to take a job on the set of Starcrossed.

***

Marilyn met him in the parking lot on his first day. "Here, let me help you," she said when he opened the car door. She grabbed his sweater vest and pulled it over his head and off.

"What are you doing? I was going to wear that!" Patrick got out of the car and made a swipe for the vest, but Marilyn yanked it back too fast.

"By getting you a job here, I accepted that eventually everybody would know my brother's a psychopath. So at very least, we're not going to give them that as a first impression." She shook the vest in her fist. "This thing makes you look like a serial killer."

"That's my nicest sweater vest, thank you. And Captain Hammer has sweater vests!"

"Captain Hammer is a fictional character and a sociopath. Do you really want to compare yourself with Captain Hammer?"

"To a super hero? Yes."

"…You're a freak." Marilyn led him into a large building, Patrick's wrist in one hand and sweater vest in the other. "You're going to be working with the First Assistant Director. He's got a short temper and thinks he's smarter than everyone else. Actually he's a lot like you were during your sophomore year of community college."

"Oh, excuse me, I was the smartest person in all my classes."

Marilyn pulled him down a long hallway. "Must have just been a coincidence that they all graduated and you didn't."

"Blowing up the science lab was an accident and I only blew up half of it. Well. Three-quarters."

"You tried to build a pipe bomb."

"A nonfunctioning model."

"There's no such thing as a nonfunctioning pipe bo- whatever. The sound stage is over there," Marilyn said waving his vest towards a large set of double doors. "And Mr. Nykl's office is here." She tugged him in an open doorway. "Mr. Nykl?"

The office was small and filled with mismatched filing cabinets and couple caged pigeons. Patrick shuddered a little. Birds were so creepy. A small man sitting behind a desk covered in paper glared up at Marilyn. He wore glasses, had unruly hair- "Do you know how many costume changes we have today?!" -and a western European accent. A commie! And the pigeons must be messangers of death! "Have you heard him? Says he knows what he's doing, says he's got it under control."

"He's talking about the director, Mr. O'Neill." Marilyn said.

"He has no concept of time management- And have you heard Daniel?!"

"Daniel Shanks, the producer."

"Says he's a visionary! That man can't see past his three inch dick! Hovno hlava!" A pigeon cooed in agreement.

"And on that highly inappropriate note, I'd like to introduce you to my brother, Patrick. Patrick, this is Radek Nykl."

Patrick hated shaking hands with people for fear of catching a deadly virus. But he also didn't want to offend a man who was obviously a member of the Russian mafia. And he wasn't sure his crane kick could deflect bullets. (Yet.) So he stepped forward, hesitantly offering a hand. "Um. Hello."

"Patrick, yes. So technically, your title is Assistant to the Director-"

"Wow, Assistant Director?"

"Assistant to the Director," Radek corrected him quickly. "But you'll be getting your daily assignments from me." Oh crap. He was going to make him off someone.

"Uh-" Patrick swallowed. "I'd just like to say that I don't know how to handle a gun."

Marilyn groaned. "Patrick, he's Czech."

"Oh. I don't know any government secrets either."

"Your people skills are astounding."

Radek seemed to be ignoring them though. "In the morning, you'll get the schedule from me. Take a copy to the director, wardrobe, make up, and the driver. Your most important job is to make sure the driver gets the actors to the set in costume, in makeup, and on. Time." Patrick wasn't exactly sure how he was supposed to- "Which means you have to watch his ass twenty-four hours a day."

Patrick stared.

"Welcome aboard."

Patrick smiled.

"Mess up and I'll kill you."

Patrick frowned.

Marilyn grabbed a small stack of schedules off Radek's desk. "I'll show him around. Come on, Patrick," she said, starting out. "See you later, Mr. Nykl!"

Patrick rushed out after her. "Guh- eh- Marilyn!"

"Hmm?" The innocent act.

"He's in the mafia! You got me a job with a Russian mobster! Did you see the pigeons?!"

Marilyn rolled his eyes. "He's Czech and he's not in the mafia."

"Marilyn, I have seen almost ten movies about this kind of stuff. He said he was going to kill me!"

"I'm not in the mafia and I'm considering killing you right now." Radek must have gotten to her already. "Come on, I'll introduce you to your new coworkers."

***

"This looks like road kill," the costume designer said as Marilyn handed him Patrick's sweater vest. "You actually wear this?"

Patrick scoffed. "So says the guy dressed like Ricky Martin." The man looked back at him evenly, picked up a pair of scissors, and calmly decimated his sweater vest. His favorite sweater vest.

Marilyn beamed. "Patrick, this is Kavan Lorne."

Kavan held out a hand. "Nice to meet you, Patrick."

Patrick stepped forward, put on his best intimidating look, and squeezed Kavan's hand hard. And judging by the look on Kavan's face, his grip was absolutely ineffectual. So he tried another tactic. "Nice to meet you, Kavan. And what a gay shirt."

Kavan laughed. "Well, wouldn't that be the pot calling the kettle black."

"What?"

"You're gay, aren't you?"

"…Excuse me."

Kavan shrugged, unapologetic. "Sorry, I usually have a pretty good gaydar. Years of working in the business you know."

Marilyn linked her arm in Patrick's. "Well, we should get going before Patrick tries to electrocute you like he did with Ryan." She smiled up at him and Patrick frowned back, then begrudgingly handed Kavan a copy of the schedule. "Good," Marilyn crooned, patting his arm.

***

As Marilyn continued showing him around, Patrick couldn't help but think that he'd rather have a job at McDonalds. His boss was a crime lord and his coworkers consisted of family members, one sweater vest destroyer, actors (who he no longer considered to be human), and an uncomfortable amount of people who thought he was homosexual. Seriously. Three of them! It didn't really seem worth twelve dollars an hour, especially when he was almost run over by a golf cart.

"AAH, son of a bitch!"

Marilyn marched to driver's side after the cart squealed to a halt, hands on her hips. "Are you insane?" The man behind the wheel shrugged. "What am I saying? Of course, you are. Patrick, come meet the driver."

"He's the driver? And you say I should have my driver's license revoked," Patrick grumbled, walking over.

"You should have your driver's license revoked; you're a terrible driver. John is actually a very good driver, he's just extremely reckless." She turned to the dark haired man who returned her fierce look with a sarcastic smile. "Don't drive like that with brother in the cart," she said pointing a firm finger at him.

His smile didn't break. "Scouts honor."

She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Patrick, this is John Flannigan. He's the driver and one of the stuntmen."

Patrick thought John looked like an idiot. He was wearing a tight black tee, a black wristband, aviators, and that weird hair… He didn't have high hopes for liking this coworker either. "Hi."

"Hi." John pulled his sunglasses off, reached out his hand, and suddenly Patrick kind of felt like he was having a heart attack.

"Hi," Patrick said again, slower, as he shook John's hand.

John grinned a little, more genuine this time. "Hi."

"Oh god, stop it," Marilyn interjected. She pulled their hands apart and turned on John. "He's straight, you can stop flirting."

John's head tilted. "Are you?"

Patrick's head finally cleared again. "Oh. Straight? Yes. Of course." Obviously he was straight but for some reason, his voice carried that innocent tone he tended to use when he was lying. Weird.

"Huh." John kept grinning at him.

Marilyn looked between the two then pulled off her shoe and smacked John with it. "Stop that!"

"Alright, alright. I'll be professional. Come on, Patrick, get in. It's time to go pick up that orange-colored alien you call a brother-in-law."

"Ha!"

Marilyn smacked his arm. "Shut up."

***

Patrick spent the rest of the day riding around with John in the golf cart- the Puddlejumper, he called it. Patrick realized through the day that they didn't have much in common. John was a cat person, Patrick was a spider person. John was a ferris wheel person, Patrick was a roller coaster person. John had formal combat training and Patrick thought he was stupid to spend money on that when there were so many Street Fighter games out there. By the end of the day, Patrick wasn't even phased when John took off his sunglasses anymore. He had pretty much lost interest and decidedly stopped paying attention to John.

"Hm. Maybe I should get The Godfather next," he mumbled. Love Actually wasn't going to teach him anything about the inner workings of the mafia.

"What?"

"Oh- um. The Godfather. I think I'm going to order it on netflix."

"I have that. You wanna borrow it?"

Patrick paused. "Okay."

"Great. When should I bring it over?"

***

Marilyn stared at him. "I'm sorry, can you repeat that? I could've sworn I just heard condensed stupidity coming out of your mouth."

"He's just coming over to watch a movie. Friends do that."

"Maybe, but you don't have any friends. Ergo, you shouldn't do that. John's an enormous flirt. It doesn't mean anything- you…You get it right? You understand it's not a date?"

"Oh, really? I thought after the movie, we'd run off into the sunset together," he answered flatly. What was she even talking about? Of course it wasn't a date…

***

That night, Patrick realized they actually had a lot in common. They both liked parmesan on popcorn and green olives- not black- on pizza. They both liked recreating scenes from movies and pointing out continuity errors. They talked and rewound back over scenes so much that by the time John left, they were only forty-five minutes into part one.

They picked up the next night and still didn't finish. So John started coming over almost every night. When they finally finished the series, they started on Patrick's kung fu collection. Somewhere between Enter the Dragon and The Shaolin Temple, Mars converted John into a dog person and John started showing Patrick new martial arts moves.

One night, Patrick pulled off a successful roundhouse that resulted in John crashing into the mantle and breaking the ceramic reindeer-penguin with his head. Patrick figured that was it for their friendship. It usually was when he injured someone. But John stood up, still dazed, and high-fived him.

That's when Patrick knew he had found his best friend.

***

"What are you supposed to be again?" Patrick asked one of the actors as he led her to the Puddlejumper. She had on a pleather body suit, a bald cap, and enough latex and make up on her face to almost completely block her line of sight.

"I'm a space nymph," she snapped and stumbled into a seat. "Obviously."

"Obviously," John echoed, grinning as Patrick took shotgun. "So, hey, I saw an invite to your twenty-year high school reunion the other night. That should be-"

"Terrifying?"

"Yeah, probably," he laughed. "So are you going?"

"Didn't we agree that it would terrifying?"

"It's a right of passage! Like a bar mitzvah or going to a strip club on your eighteenth birthday."

"Then you go," Patrick countered.

"Okay."

"…Hmm?"

"I'll go with you."

Patrick liked spending time with John a lot but- "I don't want to go! I don't even like rights of passage or- or- strip bars! All the girls have names like Candy or Angel or Hazel- And they never stand still! Not once! It's unsettling!"

John snorted a laugh.

"Besides, the only reason people go to high school reunions is to show off how great their lives are. How many kids they have or how successful their career is or how big their wife's breast implants are. They only thing I have to show off is Mars," Patrick grumbled, "and I bet they wouldn't even let him in."

"So I'll go with you and we'll…leave out certain details. I can be a full-time stuntman and you can be the Assistant Director." John pulled up to the sound stage. "And if you get stuck for conversation, I'll show off for you. It'll be great. I'll drive you."

"Fine, fine, I'll go." Patrick hopped out and led the space nymph towards the set.

John waved to the back of her latexed head. "Bye, Katie!"

"Well, the girls sure are going to be jealous of you," she said. Patrick didn't really know how to respond to that; he just figured the space nymph was kind of a bitch.

***

On the night of the reunion, Patrick felt nervous. Seeing all those people again, remembering football games and dances, classes and friends…It all just made him want to hurl. And somehow, John coming along just made it worse. He changed his outfit twelve times but when John arrived, he took one look at Patrick and said, "Huh. That's a… That's quite a sweater, Patrick."

Patrick looked down at his yellow and orange argyle sweater over his navy slacks then at John's black suit over his button up shirt and tie. His mind went blank for a second. John looked…"Uh. Should I change?"

"Yes. Immediately." John stepped in and pulled Patrick back to his bedroom. "Just…take all that off," he said and then start rummaging through Patrick's closet.

For a moment, Patrick didn't move. Take his clothes off? In front of John? Sure, he had been stark naked in front Ryan before but this was different.

"You have a lot of brown in here," John said. Patrick stopped thinking about it and started changing. He was down to an undershirt and boxers when John tossed a blue button up back to him and turned around, holding a gray suit. "Nice boxers," he said. "Are those seals?"

Patrick's heart palpitated. "Penguins."

"Nice." John was really weird sometimes.

***

The reunion wasn't completely devastating. John made a good companion. He stayed right next to him all night, went to the buffet for seconds so Patrick wouldn't feel bad about doing the same, and talked to people so Patrick wouldn't have to. People were impressed that they worked on the set of Starcrossed and everyone seemed to like John. Occasionally, someone would even pat his arm and say, "Good for you, Patrick."

Halfway through the night, a gorgeous woman with short blonde hair tapped his shoulder. "Patrick?"

It took him a minute, but then he realized- "Wow. You- You look-"

"You too! It's so good to see you!" She hugged him and Patrick felt his mouth curl into an idiotic smile. She pulled back, turned to John, and stuck a hand out. "You must be with Patrick."

"Oh- this is John Flannigan. John, this is Amy."

"Amanda Carter," she said, as she shook John's hand. "I stopped going by Amy a long time ago."

John gave her that charming smile and Patrick didn't really like that. "Amanda. Nice to meet you. You and Patrick old friends?"

She touched Patrick's arm, smiling. "We used to date back in high school."

"Really…." John grinned at him.

"He was so sweet. I wasn't exactly to cutest girl at school; the only thing girly about me was that I occasionally wore dresses. But he always stood by me. Real gentleman, this one." Amanda stroked his arm and let her hand drop. Was she…was she sending him a signal?

"Is that so," John said, still looking at him. "Well, you two should catch up. Be a gentleman, Patrick. Ask her to dance."

"Uh-"

"That's a great idea!" Amanda led him off to the dance floor before he could answer. She really was sending him signals! They danced for a while and had punch while catching up with eachother's lives. Amanda was in the Air Force now. She said she couldn't talk about her work, but she travelled a lot.

"So how did you meet John?" She was asking about him. Marilyn said once that it's a good sign if woman asks questions about you.

"We met at work. He's a stuntman on Starcrossed. I'm assistant to the- I mean, I'm the Assistant Director."

"A stuntman," she said, sounding impressed. "That's great. He seems really nice."

Wait a minute. "Are you interested in him?" How could he have not seen it before? She was just using him to get close to John! It was Elise all over again!

"What?"

"I thought you were sending signals to me but you're actually interested in John, aren't you?"

She laughed a little. "Aren't you gay?"

Patrick stared at her.

Her smile dropped. "Oh. Oh my god. I'm so sorry- I- this is so embarrassing. I thought you and John were together. I mean you came together and really, I was the only girl you ever dated high school, and even then I kind of suspected… I'm so sorry, Patrick."

Patrick didn't know what to say, so he said, "That's fine," and walked off. He found John by the bar, talking to a group of girls who used to be the volleyball team. "Can we go?" John blinked a couple times but nodded.

"Yeah. Let's go."

***

As John walked him to the door, Patrick dreaded that he might break the ice. And he did. "So what happened?" Patrick didn't really know what happened. A lot of people at work had asked if he was gay, even after his first day. Marilyn thought he was gay in high school and his father probably did too but it had never bothered him as much as it did now.

John grabbed his hand suddenly. "Hey. Come on, tell me."

Patrick's arms went numb, he stopped breathing, and his heart pounded so fast he thought he was going throw up on John's shirt. "Are you gay?"

John shrugged. "I wouldn't be dating you if I wasn't gay." He squeezed Patrick's hand and dropped it.

"I have to go vomit now." He retreated into the house and locked the door. Patrick didn't have to vomit, he just had to get away from John. Inside, he started looking through his DVD collection for guidance. Nothing useful. So he logged onto his netflix account and browsed through the Gay and Lesbian genre. Milk? No, too political. Rocky Horror Picture Show? No, that movie was terrifying. Too close to the horror genre. Latter Days…That sounded good enough. He spent the rest of the night watching movies online and woke up the next morning drooling on his keyboard. All he had learned was that most gay films were arty and really depressing.

He glanced at the clock. Eight already. Time for work. Damn.

***

"Patrick, do you remember what I said on your first day?" Radek asked quietly. Patrick had learned that the messiness of Radek's hair was directly proportional to his stress level. His hair looked chaotic. He was venomous.

"If I screwed up, you'd kill me."

"Being late counts as screwing up." Awe, crap. Radek was going to order one of his pigeons to kill him and he had never even gotten to third base. "Don't do it again! Now take the schedules and get out of my sight!"

"You're not going to fire me?"

"So long as you have the driver wrapped around your finger, I'm in no place to let you go." He thought they were dating too? "Now leave before I cut you." As Patrick grabbed the schedules and left, he made a mental note to get someone else to start his car before leaving. Just in case.

***

"Um, Kavan, I need to ask you something," Patrick said nervously when he delivered the schedule.

"Your outfit is socially acceptable today, albeit a bit wrinkled. Anything else?"

Patrick glanced down. He was still wearing the same clothes from last night minus the jacket. "No, I wanted to ask you, um- Why do you, um…think I'm..you know." Kavan raised his eyebrows. "Homo..sexual?"

"Instinct, mostly." He shrugged. "Look Patrick, just because a couple of people around here think you're gay doesn't make it God's honest truth. A lot of people assume that I'm gay because I can sew. I'm heterosexual and I can sew because my mother taught me. So if you know you're bisexual, that's all that matters."

Patrick felt uplifted for a moment before his mood came crashing down again. "I'm not bisexual!"

"Aren't you dating John Flannigan?"

Patrick left, grumbling.

***

"Marilyn, have you heard rumors that I'm dating John?"

Marilyn was too focused on Ryan's makeup to look at him. "Aren't you?" she answered distractedly.

Patrick sighed. "Fucking really?"

Marilyn looked up. "Whoa! Mouth!" She put a hand on her stomach. "Young ears are present!" Then she gasped. "That right! Ryan! Patrick doesn't know yet."

Ryan stood quickly, sliding an arm around Marilyn and they both grinned in a way that made Patrick think about The Children of the Corn. "Patrick…."

Marilyn bounced. "We're pregnant!"

"You're going to be an uncle!"

Patrick looked back and forth between the two of them. "I'm having a sexual crisis! Can we focus please?"

Marilyn rolled her eyes. "For goodness sake, Patrick, you're a sexually repressed gay man. What's there to discuss?"

"I'm not gay!"

"Yes, you are."

"I'm not!"

"And this is where the 'repressed' part comes in."

"It is NOT!"

"You're acting like a two year old."

"Think of it as practice, Mookie."

Patrick stormed out of the trailer just as John was dropping someone off in the Puddlejumper. He spotted Patrick and sat back, waiting. So Patrick took his usual seat and handed John the schedule. They sat quietly for a while as John drove.

Finally John spoke. "So I probably shoulda told you we're dating."

"I'm not gay," Patrick said quickly.

John paused. "Are you sure?"

Patrick thought it was a stupid question; of course he was sure. "…I'm pretty sure."

"Alright. Then to be absolutely sure, we should go out on a date."

"And how exactly is that an answer?"

"How is murdering your sister's boyfriend an answer to stopping their marriage?"

"I didn't murder him and if I did, it would've been pretty final answer," Patrick snapped.

"…Okay, I'll give you that one, just-" John sighed. "One date, Patrick."

"…No!" John hit the brakes and Patrick flew forward, head thunking hard on the plastic windshield. "Ow! Oh, I think I swallowed my nose." He slumped back, hands over his face.

"Okay, Patrick, I tried letting things progress naturally. I tried taking it slow. But you're impossible!"

"Me?!"

"You ignore every signal, every blatant come on… I'm coming to your house this Saturday at seven and I am taking you out on a date. I don't care if I have to drag you kicking and screaming, I don't care if I have to take you by gun point! And if you're not ready when I come, I'll teach Mars to attack you while you're sorting your cereal in the morning. You know he'd do it."

Patrick remembered how Marilyn once trained Mars to eat any of Patrick's socks that already had holes in them. In a week, he was down to six mismatched socks. So his hands were pretty much tied. "Alright, fine."

***

It turned out that dating John and hanging out with John were pretty much the same, except sometimes he kissed Patrick. And that turned out pretty okay too.

"So I heard it's offical with you and…John," Marilyn said one day. "How's it coming?"

"Fine. How's the incubation coming?"

"Your lack of knowledge of the female reproductive system is…Well, less than surprising. Look, this whole John thing, do you really think it's a good idea?"

Patrick shrugged. "It's a better idea than dating an actor."

"Okay, I'm going to ignore the fact that you're being an asshole and give you some advice. You don't handle rejection well. So just…be careful. Don't do anything stupid like getting in over you head or getting married in Canada."

Patrick wanted to argue or tell her that her baby was going to be orange, but she was right. Patrick had never responded well to rejection or grief. He tended to completely ignore his emotions by throwing himself into hobbies that weren't felonies but were sure-fire ways to get him into trouble.

When his parents died, he took up petty theft. At first, he stole things that were technically free, like toilet paper in public restrooms and handfuls of ketchup packets from fast food restaurants. His thievery escalated one night over dinner at a Japanese restaurant. While Marilyn was in the bathroom, Patrick finished his miso soup and stuffed the empty bowl and spoon in his jacket. Over a few months of regular visits to the establishment, he gathered a sizable collection of sushi plates, bowls, soup spoons, chopsticks, salt and pepper shakers, ramekins and steak knives (all of which were later sold on eBay).

Then one day Patrick discovered that the Japanese restaurant had raised the prices of all their desserts by a dollar. Outraged and feeling reckless, he skipped his usual order of fried ice cream and decided to steal a candy bar from the grocery store instead. While on the way to commit his biggest crime yet, Patrick was distracted by a pet adoption event in front of the store. He stared into the cages until a woman approached.

"Hi."

Patrick looked up.

"I'm Elizabeth. I'm with the shelter. Would you like to hold one of the puppies?"

Patrick considered this a moment. "Do puppies eat spiders?"

Elizabeth paused, staring. "…Here." She opened a cage, pulled out a black and brown puppy and gently pushed him into Patrick's arms. "This little guy is really friendly."

Patrick appraised the dog's value as Elizabeth listed the vaccinations it already received and explained the adoption fees. Was it really worth fifty dollars?

All the sudden, a nearby child accidently toppled over a group of cages. Elizabeth and the grown ups rushed to grab the cages and loose animals while the surrounding children screamed, and Patrick….Well, in the commotion, Patrick decided the dog wasn't worth fifty dollars.

So he stole him.

He never got the candy bar but it didn't matter much; he remembered the store didn't carry mars bars anymore.

But John was his best friend. Losing John might spiral Patrick into a life of crime even worse than grand theft puppy. "So what do you suggest?" he asked Marilyn.

"To keep from doing something stupid? I'd suggest doing the exact opposite of what your brain tells you to do."

"To keep John around," he said flatly.

"….Do the exact opposite of what your brain tells you to do. Or sleep with him. Sleeping with a guy usually keeps him coming back."

Patrick made a disgusted noise. "I- I never ever want to hear that ever again. Ugh!"

Marilyn shrugged indifferently. "Worked with Ryan."

"AGH!"

***

Patrick decided to ignore Marilyn's advice. It was a terrible idea and well. Kind of daunting if he was honest with himself. Then four days later John started unbuttoning Patrick's shirt right in the middle of watching Five Deadly Venoms and that was kind of hard to ignore. "Um- um, um- John?" He leaned away. "What are you, um- What are we, uh-"

John laughed a little. "I'm taking your shirt off." He leaned in and pushed the shirt off his shoulders.

"Ah- No, um, you don't have to, uh…do…do that," he said, scooting toward the other end of the couch.

"Alright, I'll take off my shirt." John peeled away his t-shirt which was…really…distract….Huh.

…Oh- "No, no, no! This is bad!" Patrick nearly stumbled off the couch and started pacing.

John frowned and looked down at his stomach, flexing his abs and poking at them. "I didn't think it was that bad."

"No, it's not- It's not you! You have a very nice, um…" John looked up at him. "I just can't have sex with you!"

"What, are you scared?" he asked sarcastically.

Patrick twiddled his thumbs a little. "No. I, um…I just don't how Mars would handle it. He might be upset. He usually sleeps with me so if someone else was sleeping with me then-"

"Wow, you really are afraid of sex."

Patrick frowned at John. "I am not afraid of sex," he said in his best informative voice…which quickly broke and turned to panic again. "Okay! I'm afraid of sex. But sex in dangerous! You could pull a muscle or- or rupture an organism or get a TSD-"

"A what?"

"A TSD! Transmitted Sexual Disease!"

John raised his eyebrows. "…Like Deficient Immunity Acquired Syndrome. "

"Yes!"

"Then we'll use a condom."

"That won't work!"

"That's what they're made fo-"

"Or it might hurt! Or I might be really awful! I could break something or twist something or accidently roundhouse kick you off the bed and then you'll leave!"

"How do you accidently…This isn't about the sex, is it."

"Of course it's about sex! What else would it be about!"

"I don't think you're really that afraid of sex. Maybe a little, but you're also afraid of cats."

"They don't blink!"

"Patrick…" He stood up and grabbed Patrick's shoulder to stop his pacing. "You gotta stop freaking out. You trust me right?"

"Uh…" It was hard concentrating when John so close and so shirtless. "Uh- Uh huh."

"Good. So trust me when I say it's not going to hurt, it's not gonna be bad, and…I'm not going anywhere. So you don't have to be afraid of leaving."

Patrick worries finally started to calm. "But-"

"Would it help if you were on top?"

Patrick nearly swallowed his tongue.

***

John was right. Turned out that Patrick wasn't really that scared of sex. Then the second time, sex turned out to be good. And the next morning it was even better but before the fourth time, Mars tried to break down the door so John and Patrick took him out for his morning walk.

"So, not scary…" John said, examining a stick before tossing it in front of Mars. Mars glanced at the stick, stared at John briefly, then trotted off leaving it behind.

"No. Unless I find out you have some weird fetish."

"So says the bisexual. I think liking vaginas is a pretty weird fetish."

Patrick cringed. "Sounds awful when you say it like that."

"They are awful. I saw one once by accident. It was terrifying. Like a cave monster."

"…You have a fear of female genitalia?"

"No," John answered, then paused. "Okay, yeah, a little."

They started walking again and were silent for a while, but Patrick had to ask- "So last night you said you're um…sticking- Well. I mean-"

"Sticking around. Yes. I actually didn't say that just to get you into bed."

"Oh…"

"You're kinda my best friend."

"Oh," Patrick said, brighter. Knowing John would be there seemed to make everything better somehow. Patrick didn't feel like he was afraid of anything. Then he frowned a little. "This is getting a little too romantic for me."

"Yeah, it's kinda gross." But John grabbed his hand. "So what shade of orange do you think Marilyn's baby is going to be?"

Patrick thought hard. "Apricot."

"I think tangerine."

"Amber, maybe."

"No, no. International orange."