A/N: I know I'm not the only one obsessed with this week's episode of Glee! This will be a few chapters long, depending on my fleeting muse. Kurt/Dave, obviously, although it will take a while for them to get together… First part is kind of descriptive, more action will be found in the next chapters! Reviews and constructive criticism are always welcome!
He'd recognize that walk anywhere. The little spring in every step, the hand securely wrapped around the strap of his bag, it is unmistakable. Kurt Hummel is indeed strolling in this ordinary hallway of NYU, right in front of him, mere feet away. Dave can't contain the lopsided smile that spreads on his lips, remembering that a few years ago this would have been the perfect setup for a demonstration of "charge and shove". How much has changed in these 4 years. How much he's changed in 4 years.
He feels the urge rising from his core, this desire to basically run after him, call out his name, make him turn around and see him. Instead, he slows down, observing the younger man looking up at every room number, obviously searching for his class. "Classic freshman behavior on his first day" Dave thinks, amused and yet respectful. He lets his eyes wander on Kurt's silhouette, noticing how much more mature he now looks. There's an aura of youth that still clings on his face, but nobody would call him Ladyface nowadays. While still thin, muscles are much more noticeable on his arms and legs. Dave can't help wondering if this is the result of sports (cheering counts) or if the result of necessary defensive measures. He sighs at the memory of the torture he has inflicted him, and ducks quickly in his own classroom, a way to escape both Kurt and the remembering. He knows full well that the reminiscing will not be avoided but Kurt can be. No way will their reunion happen in a packed hallway, with hurried people all around and the awkwardness of public apologies.
His marketing class starts in a blur. Thankfully, there's no teamwork to do this week, instead it's a full lecture. "I am NOT in the mood." he muses. His responsible side kicks in and he makes sure that his buddy Simon is there and diligently taking notes. Simon, always the good student, plus he is always eager to please and never refrains from lending notes to more carefree classmates. Once that worry out of the way, Dave switch off his ears and lets his mind drift to the past.
Four years can do a lot to a guy. God knows it did for Dave. After that fateful week, where he went from jock to unwanted first kiss, to almost outed gay, then back to bully, not much remained normal in his life. Sure, on the outside, nothing was different. He persisted with hockey, parties, tossing anybody below his social status into the nearest Dumpster. Kurt continued to receive daily insults and weekly slushies from him. And although he chose the easy road, never really talking to Kurt after their confrontation in the stairs, he managed to find a way to better himself. To his crude friends from McKinley High, Karofsky was still as much a good pal as ever. When he would get back home though, he would spend hours alone, talking to Blaine, of all people.
In the security of his dark bedroom, texts were exchanged, eventually evolving into lengthy conversations over the phone. Evidently, Blaine had reached out first; sending him offers to help him, counsel him almost. That guy was determined to make Dave's coming out is personal mission. Surprisingly, he didn't even hold a grudge for having been treated so rudely by him, and while he wasn't interested romantically in him, he cared for Dave. After 10 or so messages, Karofsky had given up ignoring him and had started replying. "Best decision I ever made" he thinks. Through those conversations, he found acceptance, growth, answers to questions he never had the courage to ask before. Hard to believe as it was at first, Blaine was also as discreet as a tomb. Despite being close to Kurt (too close sometimes), he never mentioned to him that he was Dave's friend as well.
Months passed, and then high school was over for him. He did feel a pinch to his heart during his last day at West McKinley High. Every time Kurt would pass in his vision field, his gaze would lock on him, absorbing what he could, because it could very well be the last time. He busied himself with the details of his departure to shake off the sadness. Blaine had convinced that New York was an ideal choice for college. Diversity of culture and people would only make his steps to coming out easier. He had applied to several universities, unconvinced of his chances. His letter of acceptance to NYU, including a hockey scholarship, came as a total surprise. Sure his grades were fairly good (a fact he didn't boast about, knowing firsthand how academic success is a subject of tease in high school), but he never expected to get in so easily.
And yet there he is, three years later, a junior in one of the best universities, majoring in journalism. Who would have thought a Neanderthal could turn into this? Once again, the change doesn't show that much. He's still on the rather large side, still dresses without any thought behind it, and still plays a mean hockey game. But he also has dates, real ones, with guys he likes. His friends all know who he really is and don't care. Of course, that means he pretty much severed all ties to Lima, Ohio. He still goes back there (it's not home, not anymore, that's here now) for the holidays, spending a few days with his parents. Those are awkward times, when everyone is simply too polite and no one acknowledge the fact that Dave is gay. They just don't talk about it, and act as if he had never told them the truth, one day he was visiting them. It's becoming more a duty than a pleasure, but he tries nonetheless.
The sight of everybody gathering their stuff and getting up makes him snap out of his reverie. He stuffs his notebook in his backpack and follows the flow of students down the stairs. He purposely bumps into Simon, borrows his notes to copy them and, as swiftly as a guy his size can, cut through the mass of schoolmates to exit the classroom rapidly. He knows it's only a stupid hope, to think that Kurt's class must be nearby and end exactly at the same time as his. Well, sometimes stupid is smart (or lucky), because there is Hummel, looking as lost as before, if not more. This time, he can't control himself. He quickens his pace, coming right behind him. He ponders whether he should call out his name, or maybe gently grab his arm. In the end, he simply leans in and quietly says: "You often make that face after your first class here. It's something else than West McKinley!"
Upon hearing this, Kurt stops dead in his tracks. Dave can sense that he's restraining himself from looking at him, afraid to confirm that the voice does belong to his former tormentor. That state of surprise is understandable, after all the younger boy didn't have 3 hours to think about that moment like he had. So, without waiting for an answer, he lightly pats him on the shoulder and gives him a shy smile, before walking away.
Twenty minutes later, he is home. The apartment is dark, which means that Kara hasn't come back from the day-care center. "Good" he thinks, "a little quiet is just what I need." He adores Kara and her little Chloe, but sometimes living with a single (actively single!) mom and a buzzing bundle of energy (age: 3 and a half) can be exhausting. Right now, shadow and silence fits him perfectly. Not even bothering to take his coat off, he heads for the kitchen and fixes himself a sandwich. He puts it on a large plate, filling the rest of it with chips and a few carrot sticks (to have good conscience). He gets in his room, putting his food on his bedside table before letting himself fall on his bed. Sitting leisurely against his pillows, he grabs his phone while kicking off his shoes. "Time for some explanations."
The line rings 3 times, exactly. Blaine likes to prepare his "answering voice".
"Hello David! How was your return to school?" Blaine greets him.
"Hey man. It was fine, I guess. I wasn't calling you about that though." Karofsky replies, his tone getting more serious than usual.
"Oh. What's going on?"
"Well, you know, what we don't talk about…" His voice trails off, waiting for his friend's confirmation.
"Yeah…" Blaine answers, unsure.
"I know, we never stated ground rules or shit, but you never thought it'd be a good idea to tell me that the very subject we don't discuss would be coming to my school?" Anger is more present in his voice than he wishes.
"Well, I sort of hoped your paths would not cross… I know it was childish, it's just that it could have happened, and then telling you would have been unnecessary." Blaine says.
Dave sighs and runs his hand through his short hair. He just can't be mad at Blaine. The guy has been a true friend, basically a mentor, to both of them. And while Kurt hasn't been aware of their relationship, Dave does know how touchy and complicated it was for him. For a while, "caught between a rock and a hard place" had been the tagline of Blaine's life. Besides, it's not like seeing Kurt hurt him, in any way.
"Forget it, I'm not really mad. I was surprised, that's all. It came out all wrong." he apologizes.
"Kind of like you did!" the other jokes, stifling his laughter.
"Come on, man! Uncalled for!" Dave replied "Besides, I wasn't that bad!"
"Sure, David, you weren't that bad: "Mom, could you do my laundry this week and, oh, by the way, I'm gay. Way to prepare the terrain!" he laughs, still entertained by the story years later.
"Yeah, OK, maybe it wasn't the smoothest way to tell her. Anyway, there wasn't a good way to tell her. There still isn't." he says somberly. A bout of silence comes, that he shrugs off quickly. No good can come from musing on his mother's intolerance.
"Back to the real topic. When did you find out Kurt was going to NYU?" he asks.
"Pretty much as soon as he did. He was ecstatic about it. Going to New York, living near the Village, being able to see all the plays he wants to; you can imagine how much it thrilled him to be accepted." Blaine answered.
"Yeah. Anyway, he had no idea about me going there as well, I can tell you that. He was seriously shocked when I talked to him." Dave taunts him.
"What? Don't tell me you finally got the courage to talk to him! Not that I haven't pushed you to do so since, I don't know, forever!" Blaine cries, nearly hysterical.
"Calm down man, no reason to get all frisky and excited. I just told him that classes were quite different from what he's used to. It's not like I made a public apology or anything. Besides, now I know I have time to get there properly." Dave says, smiling broadly.
"You better get there. While I can be helpful when you bitch and moan about your regrets, you're still a much pleasant friend when you don't wallow in the past. Get out there, explain yourself and get back to me. I will most definitely want all the details! Oh, and thanks for the heads up!" Blaine chuckles.
"What do you mean?" Dave asks.
"About Kurt seeing you. Now I can prepare myself for the inevitable 2 hours of emotional dissection that he'll need me to do with him tonight. I guess I better postpone my date with Ben to tomorrow." Blaine's tone is half-serious, which comforts the jock.
"Sorry man. Appreciate that you're so cool about this."
"Meh, I'm good at this kind of twisted situations, might as well enjoy it! I have to go now. One last thing, you're still coming to my little soirée next week?" Blaine wonders.
"Sure. As long as I don't have to talk to every one of your snobby Juilliard friends…" Dave retorts.
"Yeah, they can be a handful sometimes. I promise to invite some meat-heads so you won't be too lonely." Blaine teases.
"Thanks!" Dave says sarcastically. Back in his normal voice, he wishes him a good night and slowly hangs up. Grabbing his food, he turns on the TV and starts to eat, trying hard to resist the urge to call Blaine back and beg him for Kurt's number in New York. Or to ask him to invite him at his party. Or to ask him to tell him everything Kurt will say about him tonight.
Because, even if an awful lot has changed for Dave Karofsky in the past years, some things haven't. The little guy's hold on his mind, for example.