A/N: This is dedicated to LunarGuardian27, because their review touched me a little. I hope this second chapter is just as relevant to you, my dear. C:
After the nurse leaves, there's a brief bout of silence.
"You didn't have to stay, you know," Karofsky remarks grumpily, but also sounding exhausted beyond all hell.
Kurt sends a small smile. "I know," he says, plopping back down in the chair at the bully's bedside. He picks up the letterman and drapes it once more across his shoulders; it's chilly in here, after all.
Karofsky glances away. "And why are you wearing that thing, anyway?"
"What? It's warm, and I'm cold," Kurt answers simply. He smirks. "Why, does it bother you, since it's yours?"
The older teen makes a stifled, almost choking sound in the back of his throat. "Well, uh… yeah. It's mine… and you're wearing it."
"So? You left it with me."
Karofsky deadpans. "I didn't think I'd live."
"But you still wanted me of all people to have it," Kurt counters, raising a suspicious eyebrow.
Karofsky blows air out his mouth and rubs the back of his neck with his non-IV hand. "That doesn't matter now, okay? It's still mine, and since I fucking lived –" he doesn't seem too happy about that fact, and it saddens Kurt in ways he doesn't fully comprehend "– I don't want you to wear it, okay?" He doesn't look Kurt in the eyes as he adds in a mutter beneath his breath, "Only a dude's girlfriend wears his letterman jacket."
It takes Kurt a second, but as it dawns on him, he can't help himself: he laughs. Dave's embarrassed, and it's endearing. Kurt covers his mouth with one hand as he stifles more giggling. "Oh, I see," he says.
"Shut up! It's not funny!" Karofsky snaps, but there isn't much anger on his face, despite his tone. He still looks tired, and his cheeks are still tinted pink.
"Well too bad," Kurt sniffs, "I'm going to wear it. It's cozy and warm, and it's not like you have the strength to take it from me."
Dave looks away. "…Bitch."
But his heart isn't in the insult whatsoever.
Kurt continues to smile gently, warmly. He leans forward and touches Karofsky's forearm to make the athlete look at him again. "Hey," he murmurs.
"What?" Dave says back in a low voice.
Kurt's smile grows. "You're not so bad, when we're alone and you're tired like this. Why can't it always be this way?"
"Because I have a reputation and mean jock buddies and a sexuality complex," Dave mutters, clearly irritated with the situation of his life. But for once, he doesn't bother to cover things up. He's telling the truth, and that fact in and of itself softens Kurt further.
The soprano nods softly. "I figured as much. But you know, you don't have to be that way. Maintaining a façade isn't healthy."
"A what?" Dave puzzles. "Man, why do you always have to use weird words?"
Kurt rolls his eyes. "A façade is a mask. A lie that you wear when you're around others in order to keep up whatever image you want or need." His blue eyes appear light green in the fluorescent lighting. "You shouldn't hide yourself."
Dave snorts. "Oh yeah? Think I shouldn't? Well, what would you do if you were in my shoes, huh, Hummel? What would you do, if your father was understanding but firm, and your mother was a religious nut, and your so-called friends would disown you if they thought you weren't tough and homophobic like they were, and the one person you like is a blaring neon sign of everything you wish you could be, could do… and you were helpless against it all?"
Kurt is taken aback. He leans against the spine support of the chair while his eyes search Karofsky's. The bully looks away, ashamed.
"I don't know who I am any more, Kurt. I used to be a pretty decent student, and all the sports were fun at first, and meeting new people and becoming semi-popular was awesome. But I thought a little too much about certain things, and then I met you, and I realized what I was and who I was about to turn into, and it scared me. I didn't want to ruin what I had, and yet things got so damn messed up. My grades slipped. I bullied. And then I just kind of… gave up entirely."
Kurt blinks back tears. He reaches out and touches Dave's face, and at last, the other boy looks the singer in the eyes. "Thanks for telling me this," Kurt murmurs.
Dave makes a huffing noise and brushes away Kurt's hand, his cheeks pink again. "Don't mention it. Seriously, don't. I don't even know why I'm confessing all this shit. I must be weaker than I thought." And he shakes his head at himself. He peers over at Kurt again. "And you. Why are you being so nice to me? Visiting me in the hospital, stopping me from leaving, and even staying. What's your deal?"
"I already told you," Kurt remarks sincerely, "You're screwed up past helping, and need support. I'm the only one who knows the truth, the only one who understands. Face it, Dave: you need me, whether you like it or not."
Karofsky laughs bitterly. "Ha. I used to always think that I never needed anybody, but that's one big, fat lie, isn't it? Everybody needs other people, no matter what."
"Well said," Kurt approves, nodding. He lightly taps Dave's arm. "Even your Neanderthal brain has something smart to say."
Dave smiles lopsidedly. "Don't get used to it. I'll be braindead again soon enough. That nurse gave me some meds, you know."
"For the pain. And… I think she wanted to sedate me, after what I pulled. Taking out the IV and all," he sighs, and glances down at his body. "Dammit… I really did a number on myself. I feel like a sack of strawberry jam."
Kurt frowns. "What makes you say that?"
"'Cause," Karofsky scoffs, "I feel like shit, that's why. Numb and loose and not very put-together. And because I like strawberry jam." He makes a face. "Could go for some on toast right about now, actually. I'm kinda hungry."
The amused smile that overtakes Kurt's face is priceless. "Already thinking of food?"
Dave frowns defensively. "Yeah, so? I haven't eaten in three days. I kinda stopped for a while. Dunno why. And now I guess my body's yelling at me, saying, 'Dave, you dumbass! Eat something already, I'm fuckin' hungry and you need to get your strength back up!' – Since, you know, it seems to always be about strength in everything I do," he adds a tad bitterly. He shrugs. "Mind calling the nurse? I'd like to have a full stomach before I conk out."
"Oh. Um… sure," the gleek replies distantly. Dave had been temporarily anorexic? For what reason?
Except Kurt really doesn't want to ask, and Dave doesn't seem to want to 'fess up. So Kurt simply hails the nurse, and as soon as she appears, informs her that the patient would like some food, preferably toast and jam.
"All we have is jelly," the nurse says, "And you could use some protein, David. Would you like some eggs?"
"Uhg, no thanks," Dave groans. "The sound of eggs makes me feel nauseous."
The nurse laughs softly. "Yes, I know how that is. All right, then. Some toast will be brought shortly. Would you like anything to drink?"
"Water. OJ. Milk. Anything at this point," the patient replies. The hoarseness in his voice is telling enough of his thirst. Loosing blood and being unconscious for a while will do that to you.
"All right," the nurse says with a smile. "I'll see what I can do."
And she leaves again.
Kurt drums his fingers on the side of the thin mattress.
"You can leave, you know," Dave mumbles as he slumps down in the cot. "I'm going to eat and then sleep, and you've been here a while already. Go home."
Kurt doesn't deny the fact that he wouldn't mind leaving. "Are you sure? I could –"
"Really, Kurt," Dave insists, "Just go." He sends a meek, misplaced smile. "I'll see you sometime soon. Whenever they let me out and give me permission to come back to school." He pauses. "You… said you'd be there, right?"
Kurt nods solidly. "Yeah, of course. The credits are easy to transfer, especially since I haven't been there long. And most of the tuition is refundable if I'm there for less than a month, which is true."
"Good," Karofsky murmurs gently, and rolls over onto his side. "Bye, then."
"Goodbye," the soprano replies, and he quietly takes his leave.
Dave receives counseling, mostly from Emma at the school, but he's also seeing a group therapist on teen suicides at a small organization on the outskirts of town.
Kurt attends some of the meetings with Dave, the taller boy gripping Kurt's wrist under their chairs between them in secret, giving small squeezes now and again whenever something painful is brought up in the circle of conversation.
In the weeks that follow, Dave long since kicked off both the hockey and football teams (which depresses Dave, Kurt notices, since Dave seems to love hockey a great deal, what with all that pushing and shoving and racing and cool ice and gliding), Kurt slowly becomes the ex-jock's friend. The other athletes seem not to even notice Dave any longer, now that he never wears his letterman jacket and always slips into the Glee Club group, using Kurt as an excuse.
Kurt even convinces Dave to join the club. "It'll be good for you," he assures gently. "Being around all those smiling faces and having your spirits lifted with praise again. It's like hockey, you know: you have to knock others out of your way with your singing to get all the solos, and your voice glides instead of your skates, and, well, it's just as exhilarating when you're in front of a large audience, all of them cheering you on in the end."
And so, Karofsky complies. It sounds reasonable enough, and in no time, most of the gleeks have even forgiven him. Kurt had been the first to.
"Kurt?" Dave poses one afternoon following Glee, once everybody has left the room for their cars (Finn saying that he'll wait for Kurt so that they can go home).
"Yes? What is it?" Kurt answers, smiling a little.
Dave doesn't hesitate. He states calmly, "Things have changed."
Kurt's facial expression falls to a more serious, softer note. "Yes, they have," he replies slowly, cautiously, waiting to see where this leads. "And…?"
"And I'm pretty much better now. My grades are back up to those A's and B's, and since I used to be a bully, no one picks on me for 'going soft' since they know I can still kick their asses, and… I've made better friends."
"Yes…" Kurt says with the same tone as before. He clutches the strap of his bag tighter.
Dave looks around shyly. "And, well… I was just thinking… do you think it's a good thing, what I did? Do you think that, despite how it came to be, I was… right in trying to end my own life?" His voice shakes. "It was a wrong act by itself, I know, but do you think that, just maybe, it was a little… justified… because of all the changes that happened afterward?"
And suddenly, like the brisk slap of water when belly-flopping during a dive into a pool, Kurt sees what Dave is trying to say. He's looking for closure and reassurance about nearly killing himself. He's looking for final forgiveness, and acceptance. And most of all, he seems to be searching for some hope.
Therefore, with the utmost truth, Kurt gives the taller brunet all of that, plus a little more. "Yes, I most definitely think so, Dave," he says quietly, reassuringly. He reaches forward and skims his fingers down the length of Dave's jaw. "It was wrong as an act, but it did turn things around for the better. I'm proud of you for making the effort of switching the way you did things, the way you looked at the world. It took a lot more…" he pauses, one word that started most of all of this tumbling out his mouth, "Courage than I ever thought you capable of possessing, and for that, I think you've earned a kiss."
"Wait, a what –"
And before Karofsky can say anything more, Kurt breathes in a little courage of his own and leans inward, his free hand grabbing Dave's wrist between them to run his thumb over the scar tissue there, and his other hand bringing Dave's face to his.
And just like that, Kurt's placing a slow, tender, comforting kiss on Karofsky's willing lips.
For sure this time, Kurt thinks idly, things truly are going to turn out okay.