Character: Kurt, Karofsky
Disclaimer: I don't own these people, they own themselves and are just nice enough to let me spin them around the page now and then.
Summary: Kurt runs into his former bully in a most unlikely place… (Written because it needed to be; because now that Dave has served his purpose for the plot, it doesn't seem like RM cares what happens to him…)
A/N: The author does not in any way condone bullying or any form of aggression towards homosexuals, or anyone else, for that matter.
He was the last person Kurt ever expected to see, in the last place Kurt ever expected to see him, but there he was.
In Dr. Rosenblum's rich leather and wood waiting room.
Wearing a brown corduroy jacket and a flushed face.
Embarrassed, yet somehow relieved-looking.
He'd had to change his usual Saturday morning appointment with Dr. Rosenblum for a late Friday afternoon slot because Burt and Carole were taking him and Finn on a weekend outing to Chicago. (Out of deference to the family's split interests, they were going to a Bears game in the afternoon and the ballet, in the evening; Kurt and Carole agreed they could sit through a few hours of grunting, heavily padded Neanderthals if there were toe shoes and gauze skirts and plies afterwards…)
So he wasn't usually in Dr. Rosenblum's office at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon.
Though it predated the…incident by a bit, he'd actually been coming to talk with the doctor for the last couple months. It wasn't that he needed help "coming to terms with his identity," as many young gays did, it was just that he had a lot of issues with the way the world around him was coming to terms with it (read: bullying) and since his father's heart attack – and marriage to Carole – he hadn't wanted to burden Burt (or his new step-mother) with his venting any longer, at least not to the degree he needed to. And while Blaine was an ever-willing ear, someone who was always armed with helpful advice, he had begun to feel an unconnected third party was what he really needed; someone who didn't know any of the players and had no stake in it. Dr. Rosenblum had been, if you could overlook the obvious, lame-ass pun, just what the doctor ordered…
He'd come to see that office, and particularly its well-appointed (by Lima, Ohio standards, anyway) waiting room, as a sort of safe haven. The doctor's receptionist, a low-key, yet sympathetic-looking woman in her late fifties who always wore a light colored twin set and who kept her ginger hair in a loose bun, deftly scheduled the doctor's appointments so that there was never an overlap and patients could be spared the embarrassment of having to see each other before or after their sessions. Kurt would wait for a few minutes when he arrived, leafing through the current issue of Architectural Digest or Saveur, and then the doctor would open the rich panel door that led to his office, motioning for Kurt to enter, a welcoming smile on his face.
The appointment before his must have run long, though, because Kurt could hear a voice, a deep voice that clearly did not belong to Dr. Rosenblum, murmuring from within the Doctor's office when he came in and though he had prepared himself to be casually non-invasive and sympathetically respectful when the patient finally departed, he could not have prepared himself adequately enough for the particular patient that finally did depart.
Dr. Rosenblum, perhaps in awareness of his own schedule of patients, came out first, an arm around Karofsky's shoulder, last words spoken lowly as he walked the jock to the door and out, but the impact, on both boys, could not have been reduced enough to preclude some sort of reaction in either.
It was clear that Karofsky had been briefed in some way before leaving the doctor's inner sanctum because he did not look surprised to see Kurt sitting, stunned, on the plush leather couch, a copy of Saveur open to a lovely pictorial on artisanal cheeses. Had the doctor's receptionist not stepped out for a moment, Kurt believed the doctor, whose buzz had gone unanswered a few moments before, might have instructed the women to alert Kurt of the identity of the soon-to-be departing patient or take him into another room entirely…
During Karofsky's hasty, shepherded retreat from the doctor's office, Kurt found himself transfixed by the expression on his bully's face. (He had no idea how his own face read; no doubt a mixture of shock, revulsion, and not-a-little curiosity...) Ruddy cheeks flushed, it was Karofsky's eyes that most drew Kurt's attention; they seemed simultaneously to plead for understanding and anonymity. And was there something else there? A touch of desperation? Did the jock actually think he had a right to beg Kurt to guard his secret? Or did he think them running into each other this way was a good thing? And did he read the boy's relief correctly? How could he be even remotely relieved to have found Kurt Hummel waiting outside the room in which he, no doubt, talked about the very same Kurt Hummel?
But it was all over in an instant.
Kurt heard the heavy oak door that led out into the hallway creak open, Karofsky stuttered a halting, "T-thanks, Doc," and the door closed.
The therapist seemed mildly apologetic when he came back into view, but Kurt wasn't sure if it was because he had unintentionally violated his usual policy of affording his patients as much privacy (from other patients) as possible, or because he knew the history of these two particular patients.
Not being much of a bush-beater, it was a question Kurt couldn't long avoid, though he knew the doctor would be bound by oath not to share any information.
"Of course, you know," Kurt began, settling himself nervously onto the leather settee. "who my bully is, Doctor."
Rosenblum's face registered the faintest hint of regret.
"Unfortunate scheduling, Kurt," he said softly. "If I'd seen your switched appointment, I would have asked Mimi to reschedule you. Still, though, I think you both handled it well."
Kurt wasn't sure how he was feeling about running into Karofsky here in his place of refuge, it would likely be a while before he processed that bit of information, but the incident did raise several questions in his mind.
"Doctor Rosenblum," Kurt began, his voice hesitant. He knew the doctor would be unable to answer what he was about to ask, but if he watched closely enough, the man's face might give something away. "Does he…talk about me when he's here with you?"
There was the slightest pause before the man's gentle smile and stock reply. "Kurt you know I'm unable to discuss Mr. Karofsky's sessions with you." Seeing the determined set of Kurt's jaw, the doctor added, "I will only say that he, like you, has much he needs to talk through with me."
Doctor Rosenblum lapsed into silence, but Kurt had done enough reading on verbal nuances and non-verbal communication to be able to interpret some of what the doctor had unwittingly said. It was clear to Kurt that Karofsky did talk about Kurt in his sessions; judging from the desperation and incongruent relief Kurt had seen in the jock's face, he was feeling some real remorse for the way he'd treated Kurt, but it also seemed as though he might be pleased that Kurt knew that. Kurt had no way of knowing whether Karofsky's sessions with Doctor Rosenblum were a school board directive or his parents' idea, but he found he did feel some relief knowing the bully was getting professional help, not only to deal with his actions, but also, maybe, to help him come to terms with his realizations about his own sexuality. Kurt knew those that who did not come to terms with it, even those that resorted to bullying those who had, were just as much at risk as the bullied. As much as Kurt had hated Karofsky for terrorizing him and for driving him away from his friends, he had to admit some part of him had feared the bully might turn his anger onto himself. That gay kids killed themselves all the time, and not just the ones who were Out and seemingly well-adjusted, had not escaped him. Would Karofsky become just another statistic?
Discovering Karofsky here, seeking help from the same doctor who had been helping Kurt recover from the way the jock had previously dealt with his sexual confusion, was a relief on that front.
Did it also sully the relative purity of the haven Kurt had found for himself here in Dr. Rosenblum's office?
If Karofsky had changed, was indeed capable of change, did that remove some of Kurt's fear; did the fact that Karofsky was getting help change the nature of those fears?
He'd need to decide whether he could continue to see Rosenblum, knowing the man was also seeing Karofsky (hadn't Kurt wanted to talk with someone who didn't know the other "players?"), but he was sure the doctor would understand if he needed to change therapists because of it.
In the meantime, it was somehow reassuring to know that maybe, just maybe, there was one less bully out there.
If the fates were kind, there might be one more Out gay teen in Lima, Ohio, too.
And if they were truly kind, there might also be one less gay teen at risk for suicide.
And though Kurt knew he didn't owe Dave Karofsky anything, he couldn't help but feel relieved at that thought…