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not an anchor but a mast

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Patrick smooths the last of the spackle in an arc and leans back, pushing up his hardhat and swiping his arm across his forehead. It's April in New York, so it's not exactly hot out, but they've been working hard today. It's satisfying, though, he thinks, doing something physical, making something concrete. It's a lot different from the work they usually do.

Patrick starts to step down off the ladder, but he's brought up short by the sudden press of someone's head in the small of his back.

"Pete," he says, evenly. It's not like Pete doesn't know he's got Patrick trapped on the ladder. Patrick pointing that out isn't going to get him to move any sooner.

Pete doesn't say anything, just takes a couple of deep, slow breaths, and braces his hands on Patrick's hips. He rolls his head back and forth lazily, and Patrick can feel his shirt sticking to his back. "Pete..." he says again, half-inquiry, half-warning.

Pete squeezes his hips, then presses a kiss to the small of his back. "Just a second," he whispers, sliding his hands down Patrick's thighs. "Just... give me a second."

Patrick sets his putty knife down on the ladder shelf and curls his fingers around the top step, waiting patiently for Pete to ground himself or explain himself or whatever the hell he's doing. Pete presses his face into Patrick's back and inhales deeply and Patrick bites down on the urge to apologise, to disclaim his sweaty shirt and the smell of his over-warm skin. This isn't about him, and if Pete has a problem with the way Patrick smells, well, nobody's holding him here, right?

"Patrick," Pete whispers, "Patrick, Patrick, Patrick," and Patrick closes his eyes and bites his lip against the sudden rush of emotion; Pete says his name like an invocation, like it's something to be treasured, and it undoes him a little every time.

He feels Pete tense, steeling himself to face the world again, and Patrick braces himself against the way the ladder rocks when Pete lets go, steps back, turns away from him. "Pete!" he calls after him, urgent and not really sure why.

Pete turns back and grins over his shoulder at him. "C'mon," he says, "Let's get back to work."

Patrick smiles. "Yeah," he says, resettling the hardhat on his head. He climbs down off the ladder and Pete swings an arm across his shoulders. "Let's go build a house."