Patrick's never been a master of the game. Especially the dating game. But he can try, right? No matter how hard, he'll try.
"Your first word? Gosh, I don't know if I can remember. Let me think."
"What was mine?" Josh asked, crawling along the floor on his stomach like he was swimming.
"Yours?" Patrick laughed at the memory. "Your first word was Daddy."
"Why?" Patrick repeated. He lifted him up and sat him beside him. "Because you love me."
"What was mine?" Danielle demanded again.
"I think..." Patrick tried hard to remember, Josh's first word was one he would never forget, but Danielle had begun to talk later than Josh, a few weeks later. "Ah, I remember. Yours was 'elmo'. Except you couldn't really say your 'L's, so it came out more like 'emo'. That made Pete laugh a /lot/. But it was definitely Elmo because I was holding him up when you said it."
"Elmo?" She questioned.
"My God, you know Elmo. The little red dude from Sesame Street." Patrick told her. Her face was still puzzled and he went on. "You know, the dude who Josh stole all the time."
"Ah!" Danielle remembered and nodded her head vigorously. "I know."
"Mine." Josh said, sticking his tongue out.
"Mustard!" Danielle said, pointing at Josh and then looking at Patrick. It took him a few seconds to realize what she meant.
"Oh, right. Yeah, Josh, sticking your tongue out isn't nice, don't do it, please."
"Sorry." Josh said.
"Hey, you guys. How would you like to spend a few hours on Saturday night at Andy's?"
"Well, 'cause he's offered to let you stay there while daddy goes out for a while." Patrick said, leaving out the facts that when he'd called Andy and begged for a favor, Andy had jumped at the chance.
"Can we stay up late?"
"Sure. Well, if Andy says you can."
That Friday night, Patrick dropped Josh and Danielle off at Andy's house, wearing his smartest pants and a shirt he'd found that he hadn't worn for years. It was a little tight, but disguising it with a jacket helped considerably.
"Thank you, Andy." Patrick said, gratefully.
"Hey, no problem, man. You deserve to have the chance to go out and have some fun. Plus I get to have fun."
Patrick nodded at him and waved Josh and Danielle over. He bent down and kissed them both.
"Alright, now you two be good for Uncle Andy, okay?"
"Yes, daddy." Danielle said, angelically. Patrick grinned and ruffled her hair. She huffed and shook her head away from his hand, flattening her hair again. Patrick chuckled and turned to Josh.
"What about you?" He asked. "Are you gonna behave?"
"Yep." Josh said, sticking his chest out. "I'm a big boy."
"You sure are." Patrick said, ruffling his hair in turn. He stood up and turned to Andy.
"Don't mention it." Andy smiled. "Now go. Go have fun."
"Thanks." Patrick said, grinning. He had a glint in his eyes that Andy hadn't seen for a long time. Patrick was excited and he knew it.
"Right. I'll see you later on." He said, turning away towards the door. "And feel free to tell them off if they misbehave."
"Oh, they can't be any worse than Joe." Andy laughed, as Patrick waved and shut the door behind him. Still standing on the front step, Patrick heard Andy turn to the kids and say;
"Okay, who wants ice cream?"
Patrick pulled up outside Addison's apartment, slightly nervous, but surprised at the confidence that seemed to be spreading throughout his body. He walked up to the door and rang the buzzer for number 18. A voice sounded, crackling over the intercom.
"Hey. It's Patrick." He said into the microphone, and he heard a smile in Addison's voice when she next spoke.
"Come on up."
The door clicked open and he pushed it forward, making his way into the hall. He decided to take the elevator instead of the stairs. Sure, stairs would be the fitter option, but in this case, the elevator was faster. He braced himself as he knocked on the white door of number 18, and smiled when Addison appeared at the door. She was wearing a tight green dress, with black heels that made him apprehensive he would look like a midget next to her. She was attaching one earring to her left ear as she smiled at him.
"Well, hello there." He said.
"Hey!" She greeted him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, smiling. She waved him inside. "Come in. I'm just about ready, I won't be two minutes."
Patrick felt the spot where she'd kissed him on the cheek burning as he watched her. She pointed towards the living room.
"Two minutes, I promise. Riley's in there."
"Awesome." He said, finally feeling comfortable enough around Riley to talk to her as if he'd known her forever. He entered the living room as Addison made her way back to her bedroom, and spotted Riley sitting on the couch watching the TV and clutching her doll to her chest.
"Hey, little lady." He greeted her with a slight wave, and at the sight of him a smile spread across her face as she jumped up. She hugged him around the knees and he stood, now awkwardly as she jabbered on.
"Mommy said you were coming around tonight. Is Danni with you?"
"Uh, no. She's at her Uncle Andy's for the night."
"Oh. Can I see her tomorrow?"
"Um, sure? If your mom says so."
"Yay. Come watch TV." She said cheerfully, pulling on his hand and making him sit down. He shook his head at the sight of /Dora the Explorer/. That cartoon was never off in his own house, now Riley was addicted to it.
"You like this show?" He asked her. She nodded enthusiastically.
"Do you?" She asked, staring at him. He had no choice but to nod and tell her he loved it.
"Danni likes it." Riley told him, matter of factly, as though he had no idea. "We watch it on Wednesday."
Wednesday. Play date day. When Danni and Riley huddled in a corner and giggled at each other, while Josh sat absorbed in the TV or trying to build a tower with bricks again. He and Addison would sit at the kitchen table, laughing at each other over a cup of coffee and starting conversations they were interested in.
"Yeah, I noticed." Patrick said, with a laugh.
"Ready?" Addison said from the doorway.
"Yep." Patrick said, standing up. Riley jumped to her feet again, and ran over to Addison, who wrapped her arms around her small daughter.
"Have fun, mommy."
"You too, Princess. I'll be back soon. Be good, alright?"
"Is your babysitter here?" Patrick asked.
"She's in the kitchen." Addison explained.
"Ah. Okay. So you're ready then?"
"Bye, baby." Addison said, kissing Riley. Riley wrapped her arms around Patrick's legs again and he hugged her back.
"Take it easy, Riley." He said, kindly, before waving her as Addison led him out of the apartment.
"You look... great." Patrick told her, before shyly leaning over and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Aw, thank you. You don't look too bad yourself. New shirt?"
"Not really." He said, with a laugh as they made their way out to the car. "It was just one of my smartest ones."
"Suits you." She told him, with a nod. He opened the car door for her and she winked at him as she got in. He closed it for her and felt his heart beating quickly as he made his way round to the driver's seat.
"So where are we going?" Addison said.
"Oh, I made some reservations." Patrick told her, having to keep his eyes on the road as he pulled out of the parking lot and onto the road.
"I'm not too dressy, am I? Or underdressed?"
"Oh, no. Not at all. You can never be too dressy. Or underdressed." Patrick told her with a smile.
A somewhat boyish charm came over Patrick that night as they dined, sitting opposite each other and keeping their eyes firmly fixated on each other's as the other spoke. After dinner, Patrick payed the check, despite Addison arguing with him over who should pay, or whether they should split it, he was adamant he would. He was the gentleman. Always.
"You wanna go for a walk?" Patrick asked, biting his lip.
"Sure." Addison said.
Patrick walked beside her, careful not to place his sweating hands in his pockets. That was bad body language, and he was already stumbling enough.
"So what date number is this?" Addison asked, when Patrick led her to a small, secluded park that, at night, was home to old couples walking their dogs, or young couples in love desperate for a place to make out in public for their nightly thrill.
"Well, if you count every single day we spent at kindergarten in the morning, probably like the 50th." Patrick laughed.
"Maybe I do." Addison said, smiling at him. Patrick cocked his head at her and blushed. His hands shaking, he looked at the ground as they walked and he timidly slipped his hand in hers. He was glad when she didn't pull away, but clasped his hand tightly as though to tell him not to let go.
"Thank you for tonight, Patrick." Addison said into the night, watching him. He looked up from his shoes, a small smile still caressing his face, as he looked into her eyes.
"You're welcome. You're worth it."
They walked around the park a few times, their pace slow as they talked in whispers into the quietness of the surroundings, and gently swung their arms back and forth as they walked.
"What time is it?" Addison asked, shaking Patrick out of his relaxed stance.
"Oh." He looked at his watch on his free wrist, and looked at her.
"Alright." Addison said, but Patrick could tell she was apprehensive.
"I can take you home, if you like. I know you want to make sure Riley's okay."
"Are you sure? I don't want you to think I didn't enjoy tonight. I really did."
"It's okay." Patrick nodded, understanding. Although part of him wanted to stay like this forever, he realized he wanted to see Danielle and Josh, too.
"Come on, I'll take you home." Patrick said, with a smile.
"Tonight was great. Thank you ever so much, again, Patrick."
"You're welcome." He said, nodding.
"At least let me pay for my half."
He held up his hands and shook his head.
"No. I won't accept it. The man always pays. It's tradition."
"I'll find a way to pay you back." Addison said. Patrick watched her as she let her arm fall to her side, still holding her bag. They watched each other for a few seconds before, somehow, Patrick moved forward at the same time Addison did, and their lips touched. The friction caused Patrick's stomach to flip several times over, and more, as his heart beat faster in his chest. A few seconds later, they stood back and regarded each other, a smile on both their faces.
"Okay, you payed me back." Patrick whispered.
"So we're even?"
"We're even." Patrick laughed, nodding.
"Alright. Thank you for tonight, I had a great time."
"Me too. G'night." He said, giving her a slight wave as she held the door.
"Night." Addison said, closing the door, a smile still on her face.
Patrick turned away and walked down the hall, his heart skipping, the smile unable to disappear from his face. He'd gone on a proper date. And he'd had a great time. His first kiss in three years, and it had felt so right.
He was finally moving on, and although he couldn't help a part of him feeling guilty towards Amanda, he tried his hardest to shake the grief of her loss away from his head.
He wanted to enjoy the moment.
"So I was thinking we could go back to Chicago for a while, to see my parents? 'Cause they haven't seen much of this little guy." Pete said, lying on his back on the floor and holding Petey above him.
"What about mine? They live in Australia." Rachel replied.
"Well, sure. We can go there too." Pete shrugged before smiling at her. She didn't look up from her magazine as she enjoyed the peace she got from Petey crying and Pete jumping about, hyper.
"So what do you think?" Pete asked, sitting up and placing Petey between his knees and hugging him.
"What?" Rachel asked, looking up.
"I said, what do you think?" He repeated, watching her. Rachel watched him back, studying him. She looked at him for a long time, searched his eyes as they changed from sparkling to concerned as to why she was staring at him. She ran her eyes up and down his body, around his face, biting her lip.
"I think I don't love you anymore."