Alx, my dear, I hope this brief exchange at the start makes up for it in some part.
"If we don't see you at least once a week, I'm breaking into your bedroom and kidnapping you," Santana threatened Dave as she squeezed him hard around his ribs. "That's a promise."
"You could always come bowling with us," Dave said.
Santana snorted and stepped back. "If you think me and Brit are the bowling type, then you're dumber than you look."
"Don't disparage my boyfriend," Kurt said over Mercedes' head, where they were currently tangled up in a tight hug.
"It's not disparaging if it's true," Santana said. She looped her pinky through Brittany's. "You owe us a movie marathon. And don't think you're getting out of going to Columbus Pride with us."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Dave said.
Mercedes let go of Kurt and latched onto Rashad. "None of us would miss it," she said. "Hell, we've been looking forward to it for ages."
"Damn straight," Rashad said. He grinned. "Or not so straight. Whatever."
Puck pulled Kurt into an awkward, manly, back-slapping hug. "It's been awesome," he said. "Don't disappear on us this summer, dude."
"Don't call me dude," Kurt said automatically, but he smiled. "I'll keep in touch."
A brief lull descended on their group as they wrapped up their goodbyes in the parking lot, yearbooks tucked away in backpacks or under arms, everyone wearing the bright red tee-shirts that Kim had brought to their last GSA meeting that lunch. They were emblazoned in big white letters with the unofficial slogan that Santana and Zach had come up with a while back: "McKinley High School GSA: More Awesome Than You." On the back, in smaller letters, they read, "And Probably Gayer Too." No one wanted to be the first to walk away from their friends on the last day of school, no matter how excited they were to begin taking full advantage of the two month vacation that awaited them.
"Party at my house tomorrow," Azimio said. "Six-thirty. Be there."
"What about your folks?" Dave asked. "Won't they flip out having the GSA there?"
Azimio shrugged. "They could use a little excitement. And hell, they haven't come over all Bill Donohoe for months. I think we're gonna be good."
"So that means I can come back over and beat your ass at Halo again, right?" Dave asked.
"You wish, fucker," Azimio said. "While you've been kicking back and watching zombie movies with your boy, I've been working on my game."
"Can't beat god given talent," Dave said. "I'm gonna kick your ass so hard you'll be crying like a baby when I'm done with you."
Azimio laughed. "Bring it, bitch."
"Gendered insults!" Rachel interrupted.
"Sorry," Azimio said. "Bring it, asshole."
"Am I going to have to separate you?" Rashad asked.
"Stick 'em in a room together with nothing to play but Yaris," Puck said. "See which one cracks first."
"You're a jackass and I'm gonna take your spark plugs when you're not looking," Dave said. "I know how to do that now."
"You're the jackass, jackass," Puck said. "Whoop-de-fucking-do. Tell you what. You don't fuck with my car and I won't go over to Azimio's and fuck with your account."
"I can live with that," Dave said. He grinned at Azimio. "Still gonna kick your ass, though."
"No you won't," he said. "All that mushy happy romance crap's making you soft. You couldn't take me on my worst day."
"I'm gonna remember that," Dave said. "And then I'm gonna take it out on you at football camp."
"I love you too, bro," Azimio said. He fluttered his eyelashes comically.
"I think we should take your pissing contest as our cue to leave," Quinn said. She went on tiptoe to kiss Dave's cheek. "Good luck."
"Thanks," he said.
There was a last quick round of hugs, and then they all split, calling out their goodbyes as they went.
"I can't believe it's already summer," Finn said as they climbed into Kurt's Navigator. "It's like, this whole semester just kind of flew by, you know?"
"I know what you mean," Kurt said. "My god, we're seniors now." He backed his car out of the parking space and headed out toward the street.
"Only one year left," Dave said. Then college, and New York, and Kurt, and Kurt, and more Kurt.
"Next year'll be even better," Finn said. "We're gonna be gods."
"Right," Kurt said. "Because clearly Glee and the GSA lend themselves so well to godhood."
"You're a pessimist," Finn said. "It's worked out so far this year, hasn't it?"
"That's true," Kurt conceded.
"Plus we get to put the fear of god into the idiot freshmen at football camp this summer," Dave said. "That's always a plus."
"Having their asses handed to them by a gay dude's gonna shut them up pretty quick," Finn said.
"If Coach Sylvester takes us back, I know Santana's going to have a blast terrorizing the freshmen," Kurt said. "It's doubtful, but an amusing image nonetheless."
"I just want to see you back in that uniform," Dave said. "You make a hot cheerleader."
"Flattery will get you everywhere," Kurt said.
"If you guys are going to do things I don't want to know about this summer, tell me to clear out of the house first," Finn said. "And then don't tell me anything about it later."
"Likewise with Rachel," Kurt said. "Believe me, Finn, we don't want you knowing anything."
Finn settled back in his seat in satisfaction. "Good."
As they drove back home together they plotted out their summer plans: where they'd go (everywhere), what they'd do (everything), how they'd get around Burt and Carole in regards to the many summer parties they planned to have and attend (lying like a rug). Finn was desperate to teach Kurt how to throw a football, claiming that it was a necessary part of growing up. Kurt, in turn, insisted that the only way Finn would get him near a football would be if he submitted to an entire day of watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies with him. Dave just sat and wondered how soon and how often he and Kurt would be left alone in an empty house together.
They hadn't gone far in the two and a half months they'd been dating, mainly from reservations about doing anything more while they were still sharing a house with Kurt's parents. They'd grown bolder, though, alluding to without outright mentioning the things they hoped they might get the chance to do sometime. New York had been something of a catalyst in that respect; they'd been running full tilt toward romance for so long it was only a matter of time before desire crept in.
Dave dismissed the thought. It probably wasn't the best thing to be dwelling on right before going out to visit his parents.
"No homework today," Finn said happily as Kurt pulled into the driveway and killed the engine.
"Speak for yourself," Kurt said. "I have to read 'The Age of Reason' and 'Narcissus and Goldmund' before classes start up again."
"Right, you're moving to AP English next year," Finn said. "Sounds boring."
"If it gives me an edge on my college applications, I'm all in favor of it," Kurt said. "Besides, I enjoy a good challenge."
They went inside and dropped their school bags on the floor with sighs of relief. Burt and Carole came out of the living room to greet them, Carole with hugs and Burt with a proud look in his eyes. "So you survived another year," Burt said. "Now we have to keep our fingers crossed that the summer survives the three of you."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Kurt said. "We're not planning on having a wild, unrestrained, bacchanalia of a vacation at all."
"Bacchanalia?" Finn asked.
"Look it up," Kurt said. "Webster is your friend."
"Don't give Finn a hard time," Burt chided, but with a smile that spoke only of approval at their brotherly relationship.
"We thought we'd take you boys out to Breadstix for dinner," Carole said. "How does five thirty sound to you?"
"Sounds great," Dave said. "We should be done by then."
"That's up to you," Burt said. "I'll be down here waiting for you when you boys are ready to head out."
"Thanks, Dad," Kurt said. He looked down at his shirt and then up at Dave. "I suppose we ought to change first before we go."
"Wouldn't want 'em keeling over from the shock," Dave agreed. He and Kurt went up the stairs and separated in the hall, heading to their respective bedrooms to find different shirts to wear.
Dave found himself once again staring into his closet indecisively, weighing one shirt against another against another, wondering what sort of impression each would make. Would this one make him look like he didn't care? Would that one make him look too eager to please? How would they take a tee-shirt compared to one of his button ups? Should he wear a shirt under a button up? Should he change his jeans? His shoes?
Should he even care this much?
Kurt came back faster than Dave thought he would, newly attired in dark gray shorts with a braided belt, black canvas boat shoes, and a light chambray shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. "I thought I'd spare them the full effect of my eminently fashionable self in action," he said, gesturing to his outfit. "It's not an enormous sacrifice on my part. These are all Summer 2011 essentials according to the more casual look books I've come across."
"I have no idea what you just said," Dave said. "But you look really hot."
Kurt crossed the room to give him a quick kiss. "You're sweet. I think I'll keep you."
"Good news for me," Dave said. He looked into his closed and sighed again. "I have no clue what to wear. I feel like I'm going on a date or something."
"Here," Kurt said, reaching past Dave to grab two shirts off their hangers. "Try these." He handed Dave a white long-sleeved shirt and a red and white short-sleeved button up shirt. "Casual, but not too casual, masculine, and very, very attractive on you."
"I don't know if attractive is the right way to go," Dave said, but he pulled his GSA shirt over his head and dropped it to the floor, tugging on the white shirt in its place.
"It's not the attractiveness so much as it's a reminder that you've thrived in your absence," Kurt said. "That's important."
"Point." He slipped his arms through the sleeves of his button up and started doing up the buttons. "Think it'll go okay?"
"I hope so," Kurt said. He took a seat on Dave's bed. "Do you want to go over your questions and answers again?"
"One more time won't hurt," Dave said. "Shoot."
"When you ask them whether or not they attended a PFLAG meeting, what do you want to say if they say yes?" Kurt asked.
"Um. I'm gonna tell them I'm glad, and I hope they're gonna go back," Dave said. He sat beside Kurt and leaned back against the wall.
"And if they say no?"
"I'll tell them I hope they go soon, because it matters a lot to me," Dave said.
Kurt nodded. "And how about switching churches?"
"If they say they did, then I'll just tell them thank you straight off," Dave said. "And if they haven't, then I'll say I wish they would, since I think it would help. Same with the counseling."
"What will you do if they go for a misplaced attempt at reconciliation between you and your uncle?" Kurt asked.
"I'll probably just leave," Dave said. "Try again later, maybe, after I've stopped being pissed. I don't have to touch the whole 'red text' thing, since I know they did that, and I'm pretty sure they won't say 'lifestyle' at all while we're there."
"And I'm reasonably certain that we'll be able to tell if their feelings have changed at all regarding the LGBT community simply by how they act during our visit," Kurt said. "That does cover everything, right?"
"Almost," Dave said. "There's one thing they haven't said, and to be honest I don't know if I'm ready to hear it yet, but they haven't said they're sorry."
Kurt looked surprised. "Really? I know they didn't in the letter they sent you, but I'd assumed that they had when you called them."
Dave shook his head. "Nope. I'm pretty sure they still think it was at least a little bit justified."
"We'll work on that," Kurt said firmly.
"Yeah," Dave said. "Hope so." He looked down at his worn jeans and scuffed sneakers. "Think I should change the rest of my clothes too?"
"Leave things the way they are," Kurt said. "It projects two different messages. The first is that you came right over from school as soon as was possible, which they'll see as a sincere desire to work things out."
"And the other?" Dave asked.
"The second message is that you don't feel the need to impress them by dressing up since you see little reason to get back in their good graces," Kurt said.
"Those are some seriously mixed signals," Dave said.
Kurt smirked. "That's the point. They're already off balance simply by virtue of having you come over this afternoon. This just triggers a subconscious response to those conflicting messages as they attempt to figure out which impression is the correct one."
"So it's like the clothes version of psychological warfare," Dave said. "Huh. That's pretty cool."
"I consider myself an expert in the art," Kurt said.
"So what does the stuff you wear to school say?" Dave asked.
"Pre-GSA, my outfits said 'I have more self-respect on my worst day than you ever will, and I'm going to go places while you're going to be stuck here slowly rotting,'" Kurt said. "This, of course, was targeted at bullies."
"That's pretty specific," Dave said. "And what about now?"
"That I want to look my best because I take pleasure in it," Kurt said. "And to remind people that despite not dressing butch, I'm still talented, multi-faceted, and occasionally intimidatingly competent."
Dave laughed and tugged Kurt over so that he was lying sprawled across the bed, head on his thighs. "You're definitely all that."
Kurt closed his eyes and smiled, reaching up to play with the hem of Dave's shirt. "I have a question for you."
"You don't seem nearly as on edge about going to see your parents as I thought you would be."
"I'm totally freaking out," Dave said. "I mean brain going a hundred miles a minute, stomach churning freaking out. But I figure if I start actually acting as freaked out as I am, I'm not gonna have it under control when we get there, and I don't want them to see how much it gets to me."
"You do know we can cancel on them and do it some other time," Kurt said.
"I know," Dave said. "But I want to get it over with."
"As long as that's what you want," Kurt said. "So, two hours with your parents, dinner with my parents and Finn, and then we'll come home and make out on your bed."
"We could go see the new X-Men movie after dinner and make out in the theater," Dave suggested. "No chance your dad or Carole might walk by and do that embarrassing parental thing about appropriate behavior."
"Yes, but the armrests would get in the way," Kurt said. "I'll risk the embarrassment and take the bed."
"They'll kill us," Dave said, putting up a token protest.
"They haven't killed Finn yet, and given that he's infinitely more likely than we are to reproduce with Rachel, I think we're safe."
"I hope so," Dave said. "I really don't want to reproduce with Rachel."
"I should think not," Kurt said. He sat back up and got off the bed, pulling Dave upright along with him. "Oh, one more thing." He took Dave by the wrist and pushed his sleeve up to a couple inches below his elbow, repeating the act on his other arm.
"What's this supposed to mean?" Dave asked. "That I'm laid back about the whole thing?"
"No, this one's strictly for me," Kurt said. "I can never pass up an opportunity to ogle your forearms." He paused for a moment, looking thoughtful, and added, "Or any other part of you, for that matter."
"Know how you told me not to turn you on in public?" Dave asked. "Don't make me want to get a head start on that whole getting horizontal on my bed thing with you right before we go see my parents."
"If you insist," Kurt said. He leaned in and gave Dave a warm, heady kiss, and when he pulled away Dave instinctively tried to follow and recapture his lips.
"Get back here," he said. "I want some more of that."
"I thought I wasn't supposed to encourage you," Kurt said innocently, but he gave in and kissed Dave again, just for a second but no less sweet for its brevity. "Come on. It's time to go into battle."
"Wearing psychological warfare clothing armor," Dave said. He headed out the bedroom door, Kurt by his side.
"Hey," Kurt said when they reached the top of the stairs. "I love you."
"Love you too," Dave said, and shot his boyfriend a sincere, if crooked, grin.
Down in the hall, Burt was waiting for them, keys in his hand. "Ready to go?" he asked.
"As ready as I'll ever be," Dave said.
"Let's get this show on the road, then," Burt said, and clapped Dave on the shoulder as he led the way out the door to his car.
The ride over wasn't quiet, since Burt had Dave's favorite alt rock station turned up to a high volume, but there wasn't a whole lot of talking going on between the three of them. Dave figured Kurt had already heard everything he needed to hear to reassure himself that Dave was fine, and Burt was probably giving him space to gather his thoughts before they got there. Either way, he was grateful for the lack of conversation, given the excruciatingly uncomfortable one that lay ahead.
Regardless of how well it might go, no matter how much things improved over the summer, even if he ever felt comfortable moving back in, Quinn's words from the train ride would probably never leave him. He might be able to forgive them someday. He'd never, ever forget it. And, like Quinn, a part of him would probably always be angry. But he had to try. If he didn't, he'd always wonder what could have happened.
Burt pulled up in front of his parents' house and turned the engine off. "Any last minute change of mind?" he asked, looking at Dave through the rearview mirror.
Dave shook his head. "I'm good." He unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car, Burt and Kurt not far behind. He walked slowly up the path to the front porch, and when the three of them were all standing together in front of the door, Dave offered up a silent prayer to a god he wasn't sure he still believed in and knocked firmly on the door.
The faint sound of footsteps reached his ears. He could tell by the quick tapping noise that it was his mother, wearing the shoes with the low heels she liked so much. The footsteps grew louder, and then the door was pulled open to reveal his mother, wearing her heels and a conservative sweater set and an uncertain smile. "Hello, Dave," she said. Her hand twitched at her side like she was going to reach out and offer it for him to shake, but she stayed the motion. "I'm glad you came." Over her shoulder, Dave could see his father hovering by the couch in the living room.
"This is Burt," Dave said, neatly sidestepping having to return the sentiment. "Burt, my mom, Helen."
Burt stuck out his hand. "We've met," he said flatly, making his mother flush. "Nice to see you under less…ugly circumstances."
"Yes," she said faintly, taking his hand and shaking it. "Likewise. Thank you for taking care of our son."
"We were glad to take him in," Burt said. "Your son is a real good kid. Any parent would be lucky to have him." His mother flushed a deeper red, looking flustered, and Dave couldn't help feeling just a little bit of vindictive pleasure at Burt's less than subtle jabs.
"I – yes," she said. "They would. Of course."
Burt looked like he could keep going until the stars came out, so Dave cut in. "Mom, this is Kurt." He hesitated a moment, then put his hand on the small of Kurt's back. "My boyfriend."
The flush faded from his mother's cheeks, and her uncertain smile turned brittle, as if the last hope she'd had that he'd possibly "go back" to being straight had just fled right before her eyes. Dave waited with far more patience than he truly felt for her reaction to his introduction. If this didn't go well he would leave in a heartbeat.
Then slowly, ever so slowly, she reached out her hand for Kurt to shake. "Hello, Kurt," she said in a wavering voice. "I'm Helen. It's nice to meet you."
Kurt, an unreadable look in his eyes, took her hand and gently shook it. "Likewise."
His mother opened the door wider and stepped back. "Please come in," she said, ever the perfect hostess. Underneath the manners Dave could hear so much more emotion than he usually saw from her in any given year, and it threw him just the slightest bit off balance.
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, dropping his hand to take Kurt's in his own, and Burt put a steadying hand on his shoulder, squeezing down slightly in support. "Yeah," he said. "I can do that."
And with Burt at his back and Kurt by his side, he stepped across the threshold, ready to face whatever lay ahead.
Well, we made it to the end. I'm still looking at this thing and wondering, "How on earth did I write all this?" I still haven't come up with an answer yet, but I suspect that a large portion of the credit goes to all of you, for reading and reviewing and adding this story to your alerts and favorites. It's one heck of a motivator, let me tell you. So I'm very, very grateful to you all for caring so much about a story I'd never anticipated receiving the attention and feedback that it has. Seriously, thank you. You guys are the best. :-)
Note to readers: any future stories I write will be posted to archiveofourown . org under the same username.