"Patrick, this is an emergency. You need to come to the shop this instant."
David bites his lip, hoping Patrick looks at his phone soon because this is a very real, very urgent emergency. And David, he's not thinking straight, which means he needs his calm, collected fiancé to do it for him. Thankfully, he doesn't have to wait long before his phone is ringing, Patrick's name popping up on the screen. Of course, David would rather he just came to the shop immediately rather than waste time calling him back but he'll take what he can get.
"What's wrong?" Patrick asks in greeting.
"It's the bath bombs. You know, the samples Miss Delico gave us. They're gone."
There's a pause. David assumes he's too shocked for words, so continues.
"Now, they must have been stolen. Obviously, some youths noticed the gold flakes in them and thought they might be worth something on some black market. We need to find them before they're sold to an unappreciative criminal. Otherwise, how will we make an informed decision about whether we want to sell them in our store? Not to mention it would look highly unprofessional to ask for more. They could be best sellers Patrick, but we don't know that unless we try them ourselves!"
Patrick remains quiet for a beat longer, and then…
"Do you really think there's a black market for bath bombs?"
"Patrick!" David snaps. "Focus!"
"Okay love, calm down," Patrick soothes and good, this is what David needs. Patrick's going to remain level headed, come up with a plan and they're going to save their business-
"Do you remember what we did a couple of nights ago, Sunday evening?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Humor me. Do you remember?"
David shuts his eyes, thinking back to that evening. "We...shared a bottle of that awful wine you insisted we stock. I told you not to get the red."
"I didn't listen, and you drank it anyway. Go on."
"We drank the wine and then...then I said we deserved some whiskey too." They'd been celebrating something, he was sure, he just... couldn't remember what.
"Mhm, it was good," Patrick says. "Then what?"
Honestly, things get a bit hazy after that and he tells Patrick as much.
"Let me fill in the gaps. You had a couple of fingers of whiskey and then demanded we go home. You said we had one last product to test. Together. Remember that?"
He remembers going home, on the borderline of too drunk, and dragging Patrick into the bathroom. He's pretty sure he got in the tub, but Patrick had refused to get in with him. David had splashed him for that, partly out of petulance and partly because, if he got Patrick wet, that might have made him more willing to join him. Still, Patrick hadn't gone in, but he'd started running his fingers through David's hair in apology and then David remembered he needed something else, the whole reason he'd got in the tub in the first place…
A vivid memory of golden sparkles floating in water hits him.
"I, um, might have some recollection."
"From what I remember, you were a big fan. So, when Stella calls today, you can tell her we'd be happy to stock her bath bombs at the store."
"Yep," Patrick says, popping the 'p'. "You okay now, David?"
Truthfully, David doesn't feel all that okay, he feels embarrassed and a little frustrated at himself, but at least nothing has been stolen after all. At least, not by someone other than him.
"Yeah, thank you, Patrick."
"That's okay David, I'm happy to hold all your memories for you."
David's brow creases. "That doesn't even make sense."
"Should love make sense?" Patrick asks, probably in an attempt to mask his failed corniness, but it still makes David feel all warm and gooey inside, as it does every time Patrick reminds David that he loves him, that he chooses him.
"Mhm. So, pizza tonight?"
"Nice try," Patrick laughs. "I've put a lot of effort into making this salad edible and you're going to at least try it."
"Fine," David says, with an exaggerated sigh. "I'll see you later. I love you."
"I love you too."
A small smile on his face, David ends the call. It turns out to be good timing, as minutes later another call comes through, the woman introducing herself as Stella Delico.
This is it. This is how David is going to die. Hungry, alone and unable to move. He's helpless, vulnerable to any psychopathic murderers who might be wandering around. What's worse is that he's not even going to be able to say goodbye to Patrick.
At least, not directly.
"...and you need to make sure my mother doesn't wear that ridiculous headdress to the funeral. It'll just leave her with a headache and then all of the focus will be on her and-"
David's phone finally dies, cutting off the voicemail. That's it now, the last of his battery gone. All that's left to do is wait for the end.
On the plus side, at least he'd twisted his ankle after he'd bought the snacks he and Patrick were supposed to share for their movie night this evening. This would teach Patrick to go out with Stevie. Nothing good ever happened when the two of them were alone together, and it always seemed to be David who suffered the consequences.
Then again, David also knows that no matter the time or day, creepy alleyways, even in 'quaint' little suburban towns are to be avoided at all costs. Even if you were feeling sticky and nasty because a woman's overgrown baby had toddled up to you and stuck his dirty hands all over your jeans and you needed to decontaminate yourself as quickly as possible. David, in his hurry, had neglected to see the cardboard box that had, for some reason, found a home here and had stumbled on it, twisting his ankle and leaving him in enough pain that he won't be getting up anytime soon. Therefore, this is now where David is going to die, because he's wasted all of his battery trying to get ahold of Patrick and so now he can't even call a paramedic. David doesn't even know if this place has any.
Desolately, David opens a bag of Cheetos. He normally likes to eat these with a box of tissues close at hand but it doesn't matter now. This is going to be his last meal.
A packet of Cheetos, two bags of gummy worms and a can of diet 'Popsie' later, David is high on sugar, low in mood, and contemplating crawling so that his last view won't be of an overflowing trash can. He's already shifted so that he's on his palms when he hears something muffled in the distance. He cranes his head upwards, and his mouth gapes when he realises who is it.
"Patrick? I'm here! In the alley!"
Patrick comes running towards him, like a less sexy version of the Baywatch jog, and has a panicked look on his face that fades slightly when he catches sight of David. He slides to the ground, probably scratching his knees in the process, and runs his hands along David almost frantically.
"What happened? Where are you hurt? You said you were dying?"
"I twisted my ankle." His heart is doing a funny jig at the attention Patrick is pouring over him, and he captures Patrick's hands in his own.
"My ankle. I went to the store to get our snacks for the movie, took a shortcut through here and then tripped over this rancid old box!" He glares accusingly at it. "And now I can't walk. I tried calling you except you weren't picking up which meant I thought I was going to be left alone to die, and no one was answering my call for help…"
Patrick closes his eyes and his grip on David's hands momentarily tightens. "Firstly, in the future David, when you twist your ankle or get injured in a way that is decidedly not deadly, do not tell me you're dying. I know you tend to exaggerate, but even I'm going to worry about the worst when you say that."
"I do not-"
"Secondly, do you mean to tell me that no one else picked up, or bothered to come help when you called them?"
"Well, I don't know if there was anyone outside the alley…"
Patrick's brow creases. "I meant with your phone, David."
"Oh. I, um, I didn't actually call anyone else on the phone."
"Right." Patrick takes a long inhale through his nose. "Of course you didn't."
"If it helps, all I wanted before I died was to hear your voice again."
Patrick hides his expression behind his mouth, meaning he doesn't want to let David know how pleased he is by that. "Be that as it may, I'm going to take you home, get you some painkillers and then I am going to go back to Stevie's. Our film night can wait. You've eaten most of the snacks anyway." He nods to the empty packets and David winces.
"I was trying to survive. Trust me, I wouldn't have chosen gummy worms for a final meal."
Shaking his head, Patrick says, "C'mon, let's get you to the car. On three, okay."
With Patrick keeping a tight grip around David's waist, they make it to the car and then back home in record time. Though Patrick does end up going back to Stevie's, when he comes home that night, he wraps his arms tightly around David and murmurs, "You're not allowed to die, do you hear me? You're not allowed to give up. You mean too much."
David's not sure if he was supposed to hear that, but he snuggles back into Patrick regardless and makes a silent promise that next time, he'll call the paramedics second.
"David, I'm home!"
David nearly drops the tub in his hands. Patrick's home early. Patrick's never home early. He debates trying to hide in the bathroom, but Patrick will notice his high tops by the door and he'll obviously notice that the bathroom door is locked and then if David doesn't respond he'll worry, maybe try to break down the door and then it'll be a whole thing, when this is already enough of a thing...
"Uh, in the bathroom!" David calls out. "Don't come in!"
He winces. Now Patrick's going to think David has some kind of bowel issue and this situation is just going from bad to horrendously worse.
"Everything okay in there?"
"Yeah, total-" This time David does drop the tub, it slipping out of his increasingly sweaty hands and slamming down on the floor. "Totally fine," he finishes lamely.
"It doesn't sound it, David," comes Patrick's voice sounding concerned and oh great, now David's feeling guilty because Patrick's worried about him which means he has to be honest which always serves to make him feel simultaneously gross and undeniably happy.
"It's something embarrassing, okay? We get three passes, remember!"
"I don't remember that rule, but sure, if you don't want to tell me, you don't have to. Just uh, I kind of need to do my business, you know, and if I can't go in there, I'm gonna have to find somewhere else. Maybe the sink…"
"That is disgusting and if you do that I am moving out immediately," David replies in outrage, flinging open the door.
Realising his mistake, David tries to slam the door shut again but Patrick catches it before he can, managing to hold it in place.
"What are you doing David?"
His face curls up as the instinct to lie rears its ugly head again. "...Dying my hair."
"...You're dying your black hair, black? Why?"
David takes a deep breath, intending to explain calmly the issue but ultimately, ends up yelling, "Because I found a grey hair, okay!" He immediately claps his hand over his mouth, only afterwards remembering that he has black dye over them. He releases his hand but knows the damage is done when the corner of Patrick's mouth twitches.
"Here, let me help you clean up," Patrick says, instead of laughing like he clearly wants to. See, this is why David loves Patrick. He might be laughing at him, or with him, whatever, but he'll still be there to help David when he's very plainly going through a crisis.
Patrick sits David on the toilet seat (proving that he didn't need to use it at all, the dirty liar) and gets a wash cloth. David makes a low whine in protest because the dye is going to ruin it, but when Patrick asks if he'd rather have black lips as a permanent feature, he begrudgingly relents.
A couple of washes later, the colour staining David's face and hands is still there but it's lightened to grey. That doesn't stop David flinching every time he catches his reflection.
"It'll come off eventually," Patrick says reassuringly, running a hand down his arm.
"Or it'll stay and then I'll have grey hair and a grey face."
"One grey hair doesn't mean it's all going to go grey immediately. Anyway, would that be such a bad thing?"
"Um, yes? Because grey hair is indicative of age and I am not ol-"
"David," Patrick interrupts. He leans in close. "What if I said I thought grey hair was kinda sexy? And I think it'd look especially sexy on you?"
David tries to keep a sullen expression on his face, but it's hard. "Then I'd say you have very questionable taste, but we've already established that."
"Does that mean you're not going to join me and my questionable taste in the bedroom this evening?" Patrick asks lowly and David's heart skips a beat, his mouth going dry. God, he loves Patrick's confidence. It had taken him a while to gather it, but it was definitely worth the wait.
"Even with me looking like this?" He waves a hand over his mouth.
"Even with you looking like that." Patrick presses a quick, but promising, kiss on his lips. "But it's not going to happen with you sat there. I still really need to pee."
David pouts. "You really know how to kill the mood."
"Patrick," David whispers, as loud as he dares.
No response. David clutches his sleeping bag tighter.
"Patrick!" David muffles his yelp behind the bag.
"Yes, David?" Patrick turns in his own sleeping bag (if camping itself wasn't bad enough, the fact they're forced to occupy their own, ratty, sleeping bag is) and looks at David with a sleepy, but expectant, expression.
"I heard something," David says, back to whispering.
"I've told you, it's probably just a raccoon."
"Raccoons carry diseases and have really sharp claws that can most likely rip through the disturbingly thin material of this tent."
Patrick brings out an arm so that he can cradle David's cheek. It's amazing how much that small action slows down his rapid breathing.
"I promise I'll protect you from any raccoons," he tells David.
"What about bears?"
Patrick pretends to think about it. "Well, then I think you're on your own."
"Patrick! You know they'll go for me first. I'm bigger, meatier and I smell like honey…"
"Love," Patrick interrupts. "I don't think Winnie the Pooh's going to come storming into our tent."
Another noise. This time, a crack, and it sounds closer than before. Too close.
"Oh my God. Oh my God, Patrick, we're going to die. We're going to get eaten by bears. Or I am and you'll have to fend it off with a- a stick and no ones going to hear our screams because we're in the middle of fucking nowehere and I told you this was a bad idea and-"
"Well, hey there boys!"
"You know, I just had this feeling in my gut that I should go on a walk. Turns out it must have been the big one up there because lo' an' behold I find you two lovebirds up here! Probably to warn ya to be careful up here, otherwise the wolves'll get ya! Rawr!" David doesn't think he's seen anything as disturbing as Roland Schitt growling, making a claw with one hand.
"Now, I'm gonna back away very, very quickly so you boys can get back to...ya know."
"We're in separate sleeping bags!"
"Hey, I don't know how you two do it, and I don't want the deets. That's a little inappropriate, don't ya think, Dave?"
"Tomato, tomáto. You two have a nice night now!"
Roland leaves the tent, but that doesn't mean he'll leave them alone completely.
"Patrick, he said there were wolves out here."
"It's just Roland, David. I know for a fact there are no wolves out here."
"Not even one?"
They both jump at the sudden noise of a howl echoing outside.
"That was definitely just Roland messing about," Patrick says, but David's not listening. He's already halfway out of his sleeping bag.
"If you want to stay and risk it, fine. I promise I won't mention this moment at your funeral."
Another howl sounds and David speeds up. Who needs shoes anyway?
"David," Patrick says, and David uses all of his willpower to slow down and look at his fiancé. Patrick swallows. "Wait for me."
"Stevie, where's Patrick?"
Without even bothering to stop typing, Stevie replies with, "How should I know? Maybe you should ask his boyfriend. Oh, wait."
"I don't have time for this Stevie. Patrick is missing, gone, could be dead in a ditch for all I know."
"Now that is tragic."
David stomps his foot. "He's your friend too! Shouldn't you show a little more concern?"
Stevie finally looks away from the computer. "Look, I'm sure wherever Patrick is, he's fine. Maybe he's just taking a break away from things. I know life's been kinda stressful for you guys lately."
She isn't wrong. With David in control of the more creative aspects of the wedding, that leaves Patrick in charge of the more boring, more...financial side of things. The 'logistics'. He's in charge of making sure they have the venue, the food, the seating. He's now the primary communicator for everything because the last time they'd met with someone together, David had made the caterer cry.
"But why isn't he telling me where he is? Or at least picking up his phone?"
"Because you struggle to do what you're told and would probably go after him?"
"I would not! I just want to make sure he's okay."
Stevie sighs. "I'm sure Patrick's fine, David, but if he's not home by this evening, I'll help you look for him. Okay?"
"Uh, not 'okay' but whatever. They do say if you want a job done right, you need to do it yourself," David huffs, leaving the motel with Stevie calling out 'Good luck!" behind him.
David goes to his parents next, because, for some reason, Patrick will occasionally seek them out on his own volition.
"Sorry son, we haven't seen him. You boys haven't had a fight, have you?"
David looks at his father incredulously. "No!"
"Oh, don't worry David, the poor boy is probably just suffering from cold feet," Moira says, from where she's sat at the vanity. "I'm sure he'll be back in a day or two. Of course, it took your father three."
"Um, what?!" If he's not careful, black spots are going to appear in his vision.
"I've told you, Moira," Johnny sighs. "I had a meeting with George Dandy in San Francisco."
"Yes, yes, I know, dear." She gets up and pulls David to the side, murmuring, "It wounds your father's ego to remind him of his momentary lapse in judgement. I'm sure your Pat will come to his senses soon enough."
"I just came to ask you if you knew where he was, and now you're telling me that he's left me?!" David cries, ripping his grip out of Moira's.
"Oh, do calm down, David, I never said he'd left you. You don't want frown lines before your big day."
"They're there because of you!" David takes a step back, closer to the door. "That's it. I'm leaving. Thanks for absolutely nothing."
"Let us know if you find him, David," Johnny says, a sympathetic expression on his face.
"Or if you don't, I have a special drink I've been saving for such an occasion."
David slams the door shut, cutting off his parents before they can say anything else to drive him into a panic attack. If there's one thing he can always count on, it's his parents making him feel 100 times worse about any situation.
It's just his luck that he finds Alexis on a lunch date with Ted at Café Tropical. Not only has he lost his fiancé, but he gets to witness his sister's high-pitched giggle, overbearing, loved-up grin to rub salt in the wound. He decides to just leave but before he can escape, Alexis is calling him over, loud enough that everyone else in the café also looks over. Trying to hide his grimace, David makes his way over to them.
"David, I haven't seen you in like, forever!" Alexis cries, jumping up to draw him into a hug.
"You saw me last week."
"Which is basically forever considering we used to live together. Let's catch up! How are you? Oh, did you see that pic of the tiny kitten Ted posted on Instagram? She's got no home so, well...you're the first to hear this but...we're going to adopt her!"
It's amazing how quickly Alexis can begin talking about herself but in this instance, David is grateful.
"Look at her! Isn't she precious? We're going to call her Princess."
David looks at the photo on the phone shoved in his face. In it is the fluffiest grey kitten David has ever seen, but with an expression that promises murder.
"Are you sure you want her?"
"Don't let her face put you off, she's a real sweetheart," Ted says, looking just as besotted as Alexis.
"Uh-huh, so I'm actually kinda busy so…"
"Anything we can help with?" Ted asks earnestly and David just shakes his head.
"No, uh, just shop stuff. See you."
It looks like he's going to have to search alone.
David is sat at the kitchen table, his mobile in front of him. It's nearly 6 pm, meaning that David has been unable to find Patrick for nearly 6 hours now. He's close to calling the cops because this cannot be normal. Someone doesn't disappear for 6 hours, saying their doing wedding stuff, but then refuse to answer their phone.
5 more minutes. That's all David's going to give him because what if Patrick's been in a crash? What if he's lying somewhere hurt, alone, or even dead…
David's ears prick at the sound of a creak. He lifts his head up, heart thudding painfully in his chest.
"Patrick?" He asks, voice unable to be louder than a whisper.
There's the noise of the key in the lock and then the door's opening. David's out of his seat instantly, running towards the figure entering who is, thankfully, Patrick. David gathers him into his arms, inhaling the warm spiced mixture of his aftershave and squeezing him tight enough to be painful. He can't help it. He needs that physical contact to reassure himself that Patrick's actually here, that he's not dead.
"Patrick, I was so worried. I didn't know where you were, you weren't picking up your phone…"
"I know, I'm sorry, David." He sounds upset and David pulls back just enough to look at Patrick's face. His eyes are pinched and there's a faint outline of red around them.
"Baby, what happened?"
Patrick's face crumbles, but he regains composure quickly before he speaks. "I'm sorry, David," he repeats and David feels a chill run down his spine. His parents were right. Patrick's got cold feet. He doesn't want to marry David now. Maybe he doesn't want to marry him ever and he's going to move out, start all over again, this time with a Kevin and-
"You know our wedding venue? Well...they double booked us. That's where I went today. I tried to get them to pick us. I, uh, even yelled at them for a while, but since we technically booked after the first couple, they wouldn't let us have it. I then tried talking to the other couple but they refused to change their date...I'm really sorry, David. I know how much you loved that place.
David blinks, trying to handle the relief at knowing Patrick still wants to marry him with this new information. "You went all the way over to Mayfields? It's like, a two-hour drive."
"I know. It's just, I told you I would handle this and I...I screwed up. I'm so sorry. I get if you want to postpone the wedding, or maybe, I don't know…"
"Not get married?"
Patrick's face crumples in earnest and David realises his mistake instantly.
"No, no, no! I want to marry you Patrick. I do. I don't care where. I would...I would marry you here if it was what you wanted or even...even that dingy alley where I sprained my ankle that one time. Hon, I love you and I don't care that we don't have that Manor House. The carpet was tacky anyways. It didn't go with my suit."
Patrick laughs wetly and David draws him back into a hug. "Why didn't you tell me where you were going? Or answer my calls?"
"I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt like I'd let you down. And uh, you sure you don't want to try and go for another date there? Because I might have gone a bit overboard with the, um, insults."
"We don't need it," David says, wrapping his arms loosely around Patrick's neck as Patrick grips his hips. "We'll find somewhere else. What I care about is that I get to marry you."
Patrick dips his head forward, so his face is pressed between David's neck and shoulder. He lets out a long, relieved sigh. "That's all I care about too. I'm sorry I scared you, David."
David shrugs gently, careful of Patrick. "I suppose it makes us even."
"Oh, not even close, but it's a start," Patrick says, and David's too pleased that he's cheering up again to swat at him.
"Mhm, now I don't know about you, but this has been a very emotional day and I could do with a lie-down. Join me?"
Patrick smiles against him. "Always."
Just a note to say that Stevie did in fact know where Patrick was, but she'd told Patrick she would let him attempt to handle things first before saying anything. I really hope you liked this! Consider leaving a review or favouriting it if you did :)