When he said he'd wait forever, he never knew how long it was.
"I'm always right." Pete said, sticking his chest out and grinning. "Hey, I need to get a decent suit for Monday night."
"Right, that awards... thing." Patrick said, giving up on remembering the name.
"Yep. Come on, help me."
"Yeah, 'cause that'll work seeing as we're in a grocery store. They don't exactly sell suits in the frozen food section."
"You never know." Pete said with a shrug.
Patrick dragged Pete around the store, desperate to leave anyway, and afterwards Pete steered Patrick into a tailor's store, where they spent a little too long looking at suits.
"I'm bored." Danielle moaned, tugging on Patrick's hand.
"Alright, honey, I know. One more second." Patrick said, looking at the suit Pete was holding up.
"I still say you get the first one." He said to him.
"That was gross!"
"Well, get that one, then." Patrick replied. He was beginning to get bored himself, and had already picked out his own, plain black suit. Pete always ended up going through practically every item of clothing in the store, before deciding he should have gone with the first choice in the beginning.
"Nah, it's too... fancy." He said, putting it back on the rack. Patrick groaned.
"If you don't pick one within ten seconds, I'm buying this and you can walk home."
"Okay, okay. Which one?" Pete asked.
"The first one!" Patrick said, exasperatedly.
"Really? It's a bit..." Pete made a face and then caught Patrick's eye. He was less than amused.
"Alright, first one it is." He said, lunging for the suit.
"Finally." Patrick said, rolling his eyes at Danielle. Josh had fallen asleep in the stroller, and Patrick was just thankful he was asleep and not throwing himself on the floor, screaming bloody murder. Danielle mimicked him as he led her towards the check out.
"My God!" Pete said, once they'd paid and made their way out of the store.
"What?" Patrick asked, looking around quickly.
"I need some shoes."
Patrick groaned while Pete shrugged and led him into the direction of the shoe store.
That night, Pete danced in his driveway as Patrick dropped him off, not caring whether the neighbors could see how stupid he looked. He unlocked the door and set all but two of his bags of shopping down.
"Rach?" He called. He looked in every room downstairs, and jogged upstairs to check every other room. He found Rachel in Pete's room, bending over his crib. She turned around when he stood at the door, and put her finger to her lips.
"Shh." She said. Pete nodded and joined her. He bent over and looked at his son, a grin spreading across his face.
"I've missed you, boy." He whispered, stroking his face with his thumb. He looked at Rachel and smiled.
"And I've missed you." He said. He leant over and kissed her, surprised she didn't flinch or pull away like she had been doing for months.
"We missed you too."
"I got a present for him." Pete said, opening a bag. He held up a box that contained a night light in the shape of... well, he didn't know what.
"I think it's meant to be a star, but I could be wrong." He whispered, with a quiet laugh.
"It's beautiful." Rachel said.
"Come here." Pete nodded towards the door, and Rachel followed him out into the hallway. He handed her a bag and motioned for her to open it.
"Open." He said, excitedly. She opened it and pulled out a bunch of a dozen roses, a tiny white card attached.
To my one and only.
"Aw, they're amazing. Thank you." She smiled. Pete was ecstatic to see a smile spread across her face. So far they'd gone around four minutes without arguing.
"It was the least I could do, after being such a jerk."
"You weren't a jerk. It was me. I should have listened to you."
"Well, yeah. But at least you are now." He said, with a smile. "I'll help you, I promise."
He winked at her and put his arms around her.
"But first, you promise you'll let me take you to a therapist?"
Rachel stiffened and Pete kissed her neck as he moved behind her.
"It'll be okay, I swear. And if you don't like it, we'll find another way."
"I wanna come!" Danielle cried at Patrick the next evening.
Patrick chuckled and picked Danielle up.
"One day you can, sweetheart. But right now, you're too young. And I don't want the cameras following you wherever I take you." He said, taking her through to the kitchen for her dinner. He sat her down and tipped her chin to look at her.
Danielle looked at him sadly, and he felt awful for not letting her go.
"One day. When you're older, I promise you. Then you can wear a nice dress and have all the guys fall at your feet, alright?"
She looked away, dismayed. It was every little girl's dream to stand up in a pretty dress and have everyone watching them. She'd loved being a flower girl at Patrick's sister's wedding, everyone adored her and she danced with practically every man in the room.
"What about Uncle Pete's wedding? You get to be a flower girl for the second time. Not many girls get to do that. You know what that means, right?"
She shook her head.
"It means you're super pretty. And everyone loves you so much that they want you to walk down the aisle so they can stare at you!"
After receiving no response, he ruffled her hair.
"What about when you get married, then? And I'll walk down the aisle with you, and you can make me look really bad in your gorgeous dress. And you'll be the most beautiful woman in the room, huh?"
Danielle shrugged and sighed. Patrick gave up, despite his best efforts, he'd never been able to change her mind. She was extremely stubborn, and he bet fifty bucks she would probably try the moody stunt all night, to make him feel bad and cave in. But he wasn't going to cave in. Despite whatever Danielle thought, Patrick wasn't refusing her to go just to be an annoying father. He hated the idea of photographers chasing him and his kids. He'd worked hard to maintain such a high profile, yet still manage to keep his private life his own.
Danielle remained disappointed throughout the whole evening, there was none of her usual singing and dancing when Patrick bathed her and put her to bed.
"Danni, cheer up. It's not like you'll never get to go." He said, as he stood in her bedroom doorway. "And hey, you get to spend the evening with Grandma."
Danielle rolled her eyes and Patrick raised his eyebrows.
"Hey, that's not very nice."
"Not letting me come is not nice!" She said.
"Danni, look. The only reason I'm not letting you come, is because all the people will take photos of you when you don't want them to. Like, they'll wait outside the house for when we go to the store, just to take our picture. And that's just rude. You don't want people taking your picture twenty four seven, do you?"
Danielle shrugged, half heartedly.
"Exactly. You'll thank me, one day." He said, with a wink. He blew her a kiss and closed her door over, feeling worse than he had.
Early next evening, around 5PM, Patrick was trying to absorb Josh and Danielle in watching a movie on the TV while he went to get changed into his suit for the awards ceremony. Pete was due to pick him up around 6PM, and Patrick's mother was supposed to arrive around five thirty to look after Danielle and Josh for the evening. Danielle instantly sat, glued to the TV. She always found it fascinating, and Patrick could never pin point why. Josh moaned that he didn't want to watch a movie, but after Patrick bribed him with the thought of staying up late until he came home, he relaxed.
"Don't move. Be careful, alright?" He told them, before dashing upstairs to get ready as quickly as he could. He took the quickest shower, threw on his black suit, and of course, donned a hat before spraying cologne on himself. He spun around and gave himself the thumbs up before tipping his hat comedically, and walking back into his bedroom muttering how much of an idiot he was. He sang under his breath as he threw earlier's clothes in the laundry basket, and turned around, clicking his tongue and biting his lip. He grinned and opened up the wardrobe, picking out a red dress from the right hand side.
She can wear this, it'll match her hair. He thought to himself, as he smiled while hanging it up on the bathroom door. He turned around and looked at the open wardrobe, the left side displaying his own clothes, and the right side showing Amanda's clothes that she'd left on various nights. He ran his gaze across each piece of clothing, and then remembered. Remembered that she wouldn't be by his side tonight, and she wouldn't come out of the bathroom to put on the dress he'd chosen for her. She never would. The realization dawned on him as hard as a punch in the stomach. As a lump formed in his throat, Patrick walked towards the wardrobe, and ran his fingers against the fabric of some of the clothes. They still felt the same way as they had when he'd put his arms around her and kiss her. They still looked the same way they looked when Amanda would put the clothes on and twirl around while Patrick smiled and whistled appreciatively. And they still smelt the same way as he buried his head in her shoulder while he hugged her. That smell was one that he knew he'd never forget, regardless of whether or not he wanted to. He smelt the familiar perfume mixed with a smell he couldn't describe, it was just... Amanda.
A sudden wave of anger surged throughout his body, anger at how stupid he'd been for forgetting, that he was stupid enough to pick out the dress and think she'd wear it. Some of his anger aimed towards her, at her photo next to his bed, he gritted his teeth as tears of anger formed in his eyes, as his breathing grew heavy.
"Why aren't you here?" He exclaimed suddenly, furious at her for not being there to wrap her arms around him and shush him into silence.
"Why aren't you going to come tonight? Why the fuck did you leave me? Why are you making me do this alone?" He vociferated, unable to stop his voice raising. The tears fell unnoticed from his eyes as he ripped his own clothes out of the wardrobe, coat hangers falling off the bar with a clink, and the sound of the clothes hitting the floor as he flung them onto the ground. Subconsciously, he didn't touch Amanda's side of the wardrobe.
"You should be here!" He yelled into nothing, as he stormed into the bathroom and swept his bath products off the side of the bath, off the sink, and tugged the towels off the rack. He growled angrily as he did so, his tears obscuring his vision and falling to the floor, dripping onto his suit.
"You said you'd always be here for me!" He screamed, kicking the bathroom door, and as a throbbing pain added to his emotional pain, Amanda's red dress fell to the floor with a soft flutter. He stared around, at his reflection, someone he didn't know stared back, their face moist with tears and their mouth screwed up to stop the yelling. He stopped, his breathing heavier than ever as he fell to his knees and picked up the dress.
"I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry." He wept, holding it to his face, not so close that he would stain it with his tears, but close enough to smell her again.
"I'm sor..." Patrick stopped as he looked up and saw a figure in the bathroom doorway.
"Daddy?" He asked, cowering, his eyes wide as he clutched his teddy for reassurance.
"Josh..." Patrick started, as he noticed Josh's own eyes were filling with tears.
"I'm sorry." He wailed, terrified of how angry his father had sounded, and the mess that surrounded him.
"No! Josh, no, I'm not angry at you." Patrick said, desperately, shaking his head.
"Then why are you mad?" Josh wept.
"I'm okay, Joshy. I am. I just... hurt myself." Patrick said, taking a deep breath as he held out his arms and waved him over. Josh inched towards him, apprehensively, and Patrick wrapped his arms around him as he lay back against the bath. He rested his chin on Josh's tiny shoulder as a few tears escaped from his eyes again.
"I'm okay." He whispered into his shoulder, rubbing Josh's back with one hand.
"I love you." Josh said, shyly, into Patrick's chest.
"I know you do, I love you too." Patrick whispered, wiping his eyes on his sleeve and sniffing. "I'm sorry. I wasn't mad at you."
"How come you hurt yourself?" Josh replied quietly.
"I, uh I just..." Patrick was cut off by the doorbell ringing, and Josh stiffening.
"It's okay, it's only Grandma. I think. Come on." Patrick said, standing up. He took Josh's hand and nodded towards the door. "Let's go down, will we?"
Josh nodded and let Patrick lead him away downstairs, all the while Patrick had a guilty feeling in the pit of his stomach, that he'd scared Josh.
"Danni? Grandma's here." He called quietly as he descended the last stair. He picked Josh up and hugged him, while he opened the front door.
"Hey, mom. Thanks for coming." He said. His mother took in his appearance, his eyelashes were moist and his face was red as he tried his best to smile.
"What's up, honey?" She asked, after greeting Josh. He ran off to the living room to find Danielle at Patrick's request.
"Nothing." Patrick said, bravely, trying to be discreet as he wiped his eyes. "I'm fine."
"Don't lie to me, I've know you for 26 years. I know when you're not fine."
"It's nothing, mom. I just got a little bit upset about Amanda, that's all."
"Oh, honey." Patrick's mother pulled him into a hug, and he bit his lip and closed his eyes to control himself.
"I'm alright." He said, pulling away. "Uh, Danielle's through here."
He took her through to the living room and found Danielle sitting watching the TV, still glued to it as if it would disappear for good.
"You probably won't get much of her for the whole night, now." Patrick laughed, wiping his eyes again. "Once she's there, she won't really move."
"Fine by me." Patrick's mother laughed.
"I'll be right back." Patrick said, smiling at her before darting upstairs. He stood in his room, his hands on his hips as he took in the mess he'd made in his fit of rage. Sighing, he began to pick his clothes up and smooth them out the best he could, before hanging them back up in the wardrobe, trying desperately to avoid looking in the right hand side. He held his breath so he didn't have to be reminded of her smell again, and sang under his breath to change his train of thought.
"Whoah, what the hell happened in here?" Pete's voice sounded from behind him. Patrick whipped around, startled, and as he saw Pete, relaxed.
"Jesus. You scared the shit out of me."
"I aim to please." Pete replied, picking up a T-Shirt off the floor.
"Tornado hit your room?" He asked, as Patrick hung a jacket up and took the T-Shirt from him.
"No. I sort of, flipped out."
"Elaborate." Pete said, with a wave of his hand. He sat down on the bed and watched Patrick.
"I got ready, and I came out of the bathroom and took one of Amanda's dresses out of the wardrobe, I thought she could wear it tonight, until I remembered." He said.
"Aw, man." Pete said, dropping his gaze. He never knew what to say when Amanda was mentioned, he thought he was useless when matters that personal were discussed.
"I'm sick of doing things like that, Pete. You know, when Danielle and Josh have had their dinner, and I have mine later on sometimes, sometimes I make two dinners. Without realizing. Sometimes I make two cups of tea, and I set four places at the dinner table. Or, I roll both sides of the TV duvet down when I go to bed. I'm just so sick of doing shit like that! And I'm sick of complaining to you."
"You're not complaining." Pete objected. "I'm here to talk to."
"We better go." Patrick said, throwing the shirt he was holding down. He let Pete in the room, confused at how quickly the conversation had ended, and knowing that the full brunt of Patrick's anger hadn't subsided yet. He'd better act very well behaved tonight.
"Oh, my, you two look gorgeous in those suits." Patrick's mother said, when they both entered the living room.
"So what's new?" Pete asked, cheekily.
"You know, Peter, there's nothing worse than a guy who's good looking, but knows he is." Patrick's mother laughed. Pete shrugged and grinned.
"You guys be good, alright?" Patrick asked, bending down to Danielle and Josh as they put their arms around him.
"Don't go!" Danielle cried.
"I have to sweetie. But look, you can watch it on TV, live."
"Just think, you'll be able to see us in there tonight, but we'll be back here after. How weird is that?" Pete said, pointing to the TV.
"Boring." Josh said. Patrick rolled his eyes and sighed.
"See you later." He said, kissing each of them goodbye before turning to his mother.
"Thanks, again. I normally would have asked Rachel, but, obviously she just had Pete."
"That's okay. I hope you're setting a good example for your newborn, Peter?"
"Of course. Good example are my middles names." Pete joked. Patrick's mother swatted at him and waved them out the door.
"You two have fun. I'll make sure they behave."
"My, my, my. Don't we all look like pimps?" Joe asked, bounding towards them as they walked up to the car.
"Shut up, Joe." Pete said, grabbing Joe's tie and undoing it before tying it around his neck.
"/Hey./" Joe whined, pulling it off his neck and handing it to Andy to tie, who sighed and began to tie it.
"It's off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of..."
"Let me stop you right there." Pete said, putting his hand over Joe's mouth as he started to dance by the car. "What is your obsession with singing that song?"
Joe shrugged as Pete pushed him into the car.
"Oi, I meant to ask you. What happened to this Libby chick?" Joe asked, craning his neck from the passenger's seat as Andy, Patrick and Pete sat in the back and the car drove away. Patrick shrugged.
"I don't know if I'm ready to date again."
"Did you call her?"
"She said she would call me."
"Oh, man. You really know nothing about dating." Joe said. "The chick doesn't call you! You call her!"
"Stop calling her a 'chick'." Patrick told him. "And when was that rule invented? That I have to call her?"
"It's like, the basic rules of dating. You know? Like, according to chicks, they wait for the guy to call, then if he asks them out, say Friday night, they tell them they're not available, even if they are."
"Why?" Patrick asked. He had no knowledge of dating having hidden rules.
"Don't ask me. I think it's to confuse you until you get freaked out enough to get in a relationship with them."
"Joe sounds like such a lovely boyfriend, huh? His girlfriend's a very lucky girl." Pete said, sarcastically.
"Let me ask you this... did you kiss her on your date?" Joe continued.
"Why is that your business?"
"Just answer the question." Andy told him, not in the mood for one of Joe's 'intellectual talks'.
"Well, not that it is your business, but no, we didn't kiss."
"You didn't kiss on the first date? How 1950's are you?" Joe asked, shocked.
"I thought you weren't meant to kiss on a first date. That was the only rule I knew." Patrick said, helplessly.
"God. Times change, pal, get with them." Joe said, shaking his head.
"How was I supposed to know? She could have kissed me."
"You sound like a virgin."
"I feel like a virgin again. I think my virginity's grown back after three years." Patrick said.
"I told you to stay away from me." Pete replied, shoving him as best he could, despite them both sitting in the back of the car. Patrick looked out the window and ignored the laughter that came from the other three.
"Can you actually become a virgin again?" Joe piped up from the front.
A series of groans filled the car as Patrick and Pete rested their head in their hands as they did so, shaking them at Joe's stupidity, while Andy turned the radio up to drown out Joe's excuses of 'What?'.