A/N: ASDFJKL; WHAT IN THE HELL IS MY PROBLEM. I TOLD MYSELF I WOULD FINISH AT LEAST ONE OF MY INCOMPLETE STORIES BEFORE DOING ANOTHER GLEE FIC. AND YET HERE I AM AGAIN WITH NEW INSPIRATION FOR AN IDEA JOY89 GAVE ME ABOUT USING THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT.
So this is it: a Dave/Kurt semi-AU story inspired by, but not at all limited to, the time-travel aspects and general concepts of The Butterfly Effect.
The broken thoughts that come to mind
When you realize that you're about to die.
It makes you wonder
What you would do differently
If you had
As I'm trapped in here
Trying to hold my breath from the water rushing in
- The automatic locks my downfall; since the doors won't open and the button won't let me roll the windows down, because all of the power is off -
And I'm still a little drunk, even if my head cleared some
The second the car hit the water on the other side of the bridge.
I'm trying to remember things,
My life a fuzzy blur racing across my head.
My name, David Karofsky.
My age, twenty-three.
My occupation, a Lima loser who works in construction because I dropped out of college.
My sexual orientation…
Homosexual. And everyone in this town knows it.
With my life dwindling, I guess regrets are all I have, all I can think of.
I regret not coming out sooner; to my parents, at the very least.
I regret being a bully in high school.
I regret never seeing Kurt Hummel again before I died like this,
A stupid drunk who decided he was "sober" enough to drive – stubborn, like I've always been – and is now sinking to the bottom of a river in a fucking boring midwestern state.
So I guess I regret that, too.
But I also regret the little things,
Like not telling my parents often enough that I love them,
Or doing all those things to Kurt to make him leave school –
Instead of telling him that I actually had a huge crush on him, and that he, as a person, helped me choose to come out to my parents later on –
I regret most of my life, from about high school and onward.
If I could do it over again, I would.
And that's where my thoughts stopped, the last of my breath drained from me with a burst of bubbles as I choked on the water surrounding my sinking vehicle and me. The blackness came, and soon, it was all I knew, all I felt, all I saw:
Black, black, black. Cold and fluid clinging to me like tar.
I wake to the sound of my alarm going off. But hold on, that alarm sounds wrong; where is the familiar continuous buzzing I'm used to waking up to each morning before I go to work on my current building project?
I open my eyes, groaning at the light coming in through a window that's on the wrong side of the room, and I shut off the intervals of bleeping. I sit up and yawn loudly.
I rub my face – and hey, how come it feels a little chubbier than usual?
I blink my crusty eyes clean – and whoa, why is my bedroom so messy?
I know I have a hangover. I was at a bar last night; I remember that much. Did I fall asleep at a friend's house? Plenty of my bachelor friends have messy rooms like this.
But wait a second… this room is familiar. I know this room.
Panic rising in my chest, I fling off the covers and race to the mirror I know should be on the back of the door. Sure enough, it's there, and the second I see my reflection, I release a shout of surprise.
"What the FUCK?"
"Sweetie? Is everything okay up there?" comes my mom's voice, and she hasn't called me 'sweetie' since before I nearly got expelled in my junior year. I was able to get out of my expulsion, but she was so disappointed in me then that she stopped calling me 'sweetie.'
This is so weird. And wrong. Impossible and – and why can't I remember anything besides the bar?
Too many thoughts cloud my head, and I stumble, leaning against the doorway. "E-everything's fine, Ma!" I holler back, hoping my voice doesn't sound half as shaky and unsure to her as it does to me.
I'm twenty-three. I know this. I feel it, and remember everything throughout and during college, and all of the years after I dropped out of said college. And yet I know this isn't a dream, because I can feel everything far too clearly, and my pounding hangover is evident, but…
I'm back in my sixteen-going-on-seventeen year old body. I'm back in time. It's the only explanation. It seems impossible, but it's the sole possibility that would make sense.
Why? How? Who sent me back? God, or something? Am I getting a second chance or whatever? Is this some sort of… It's A Wonderful Life or Seventeen Again prank? Is there an angel I need to talk to, some guide I need to meet? Just what the fuck is this?
This is just too trippy to be real. And yet it is real. I know so. I can feel my cat's fur – the same cat that I know died when I turned nineteen – wrapping around my calf as she rubs against my leg. And I can hear my mom pacing around the kitchen downstairs, and I can hear my dad shuffling through the news channels on the TV in the other room. I can smell freshly brewed coffee wafting from where my mom busies herself.
Details that no dream can ever reproduce so crisply, and without distortion. So this must be real. And I know it can't work the other way around, either; an entire series of years lived through and dreamt? I think not. I know how old I am, and how old this body is.
So, logic and magic and whatever else aside, I wander downstairs after I get dressed and ask my mom what the date is.
"Oh David, you lose track of time so easily. Here," she says, smiling and dropping today's paper onto the counter beside me.
My eyes widen at the date. I know today. How could I ever forget this day? Today is a day I kept in my head for years afterward.
Today's the day I kissed Kurt Hummel for the first and final time.
I feel dizzy, my head swimming, and I sway on my feet.
"David? Sweetie, are you feeling all right?" my mom asks me softly, concern laced in her tone.
I shake my head. No, no, I'm nowhere near 'all right.' But how can I say that? She doesn't know that I skipped time and landed right back in my younger body. She doesn't know who I am, or where I've been, or how I feel inside. So I force a smile and tell her, "I'm fine. I'm going to go to school early, okay?"
She looks concerned still, but nods her head. "Yeah, okay. Do you want something to take with you to eat along the way?"
"No, it's fine. I just have something I need to do," I mutter, and soon I'm flying out the door.
At school, everything is so surreal. I go through the day knowing what everyone is going to say and do in that déjà vu way before they even come near me. They send me puzzled looks, and the teachers are shocked when I know the answers from some subconscious memory as they ask questions to the class, hand out quizzes, and notice my sudden change of attitude from the me they probably knew only a day before.
I can't stand it. It makes me sick to my stomach to be here, doing this all over again.
And when I see Kurt, I make sure not to touch him. Not a shove, not a brush, nothing. I shudder and turn the other way, walking away.
But when I see him smiling at his phone precisely like the first time (or… not, since this is the first time, now, since no one else has changed bodies with their younger selves like I have), something in me snaps. I… I can't just leave him be like that. I still don't know why he's smiling at that tiny screen – a good text he got, maybe? I dunno – but it pisses me off that I've been such a coward all day when it came to him. So I do it again. I knock it out of his hands. I push his shoulder. But he doesn't hit the lockers this time, and this time, I don't look back.
I know he's going to follow me anyway.
"What is your problem?" he hisses instead of screams as he bursts into the empty locker room.
I stiffen, my shoulders growing tense as I turn to face him. I don't want to insult him like in my memory. Instead, I ask simply, "Excuse me?"
"What are you so scared of?" he bristles, and my stomach flutters as I look at his lightly flushed face, and his little balled-up fists, and the way his shirt hangs on his torso.
It's such a shock to see him again that I'm not sure how to respond at first. I remember my original response ("'Sides you sneakin' in here to peek at my junk?"), but saying that wouldn't feel right. That isn't me, who I am inside this cage of a younger body. And Kurt… I forgot how stunning he was. Is. And how close he's getting is making me heady, nearly making my hangover (or is that feeling instead the lag from time-traveling? I don't know) spike back up into the dangerous, migraine-type levels.
"'M scared of a lot of things," I retort with a grunt. I turn back to my locker and try to remember the combination. I can't. I only went in here because it's what I remember doing, but I can't, for the life of me, even begin to pretend I have a purpose being in here.
"Oh yeah? Mind sharing them with me? Because I would just love to throw them back in your face, just so you can experience all of the fear that runs through me every single time you or one of your goonies comes within the immediate vicinity!" Kurt roars, and his big gay-rights-sort of rant is on its way, I just know it. "All you homophobic straight guys are alike! You have this nightmarish fear that all us gays are out to molest or convert you! Well, you know what? We're not. Especially not me. I wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot pole!"
"That right?" I retort, my insides burning for dual reasons; the first being because, even after all these years, I guess I still have feelings for him. And the second being because, well. There he goes again, reminding me how unattractive I am in his eyes, despite how fuckin' appealing I think he is. "Lemme guess: you think I'm not your type. Right?" I say, my eyebrows lifting on the last word, offense and hurt disguised behind clenched teeth and what I hope sounds like anger.
"Right. I don't dig on –"
"Chubby boys who sweat too much and are going to be bald by the time they're thirty?" I finish for him. He started saying the first few words with me – 'chubby boys who' – but stopped with this shocked look on his face as soon as I stole the exact words from his mouth. "Yeah, I know. You'd rather have pretty boys from boarding schools, or tall, lean jocks like Hudson, or, I dunno, another little twink like you. I get the message, Hummel," I snort, and I feel sick inside. Sick with all sorts of emotions I don't want to have to deal with.
"How did you –" he begins, but cuts himself off with a sharp scoffing sound. "You know what? I don't even care. Just stay away from me, would you? Quit your bullying, because I know deep down you're just a cowardly boy who can't handle how extraordinarily ordinary you are." He spits this out instead of yells it in my face, and he's close again, just like I remember, but his words are a little different.
But not too different. I can't stand that last bit. Like last time, it's too much. He doesn't know how true it is, and it fucking hurts like hell to hear. How ordinary I am… a construction worker. A Lima loser. A college dropout. He was right all along, and it burns me with this aching anger when I realize it.
So I do it again. I launch myself forward within milliseconds of 'are' and clamp my hands down over the sides of his face, the pulse in his throat under my palms, felt in my fingertips where they rest at the base of his head. I feel him freeze up, and this time, I make the kiss less rushed and heated, but just as passionate, my lips speaking for me. As I pull away, I keep my eyes screwed shut as I press my forehead to his. I can tell that he's barely breathing, and as I hear his mouth fall open, I breathe, "I'm sorry."
And then I bolt from the locker room, the same sniffle escaping me as last time, except for another reason entirely.
Boy, did I fuck up again. I wonder what the repercussions will be this time?
They approach me on the stairs the following day. It's the same, but the air is… different. That prep school guy – I never did learn his name – comes up to me and blocks my path. "Pardon me, but may Kurt and I have a word with you? In private?"
Well, at least they're going about this in a better manner. Instead of trying to out me in public like the first time, they're instead being nice and polite about this. Probably because I told Kurt two words I've been dying to say to him since –
Dying. Dying. Now I remember: I was dying. I was dead. But then I woke up, and I was in this body again.
Shaking it off with a roll of my shoulders, I nod stiffly. "Whatever. Where?"
"The choir room is empty," Kurt pipes up in that quiet voice of his.
"Then let's go, Lady Boys. I ain't got all day," I snort, and bump past the uniform clad one and am very careful not to touch Kurt again. I know where the choir room is, and head there without glancing back to see if I'm being followed by the pair. I can hear them, though; their expensive shoes on the cement and tile, their whispers to one another. Kurt sounds nervous with each rise and fall of his voice, and Pretty Boy sounds reassuring with the smooth tones of his own voice.
When we're in the choir room, Kurt shuts the doors, and the prep takes a seat, offering one to me that's place in front of him. Kurt takes the seat beside him. I spin the chair around and straddle it, resting my forearms on the back as I give them a brief nod.
"So what's this all about?" I say, but I know full well what it's about.
"You kissed me," Kurt blurts, just as embarrassed as I remember, but thank God we're alone this time.
Beside him, his friend nods. "Ahem," he clears his throat, "Yes, that is the reason why we wanted to speak to you, David. May I call you David? Kurt tells me your name is Dave Karofsky, so I figured a respectful name for you would be –"
"I don't want to get chummy with you, pal. I don't even know who the fuck you are," I remind him with a sneer.
"Oh. I'm terribly sorry, where are my manners? I'm Blaine. I'm a friend of Kurt's. Although as you can probably tell, I don't go to school here."
"I'm not dumb," I retort. "I know you're wearing a Dalton uniform. One of my cousins goes there. Now, what do you two want from me?"
"Just a talk," Blaine answers simply, a plastic smile taking over his features. I don't trust this guy. He seems so… superficial. Condescending. Totally Kurt's type. And it makes me a little more than pissed off, and definitely jealous, even though I feel a bit strange being twenty-three in mind, even if I'm their age in body. Or maybe I'm younger; than this Blaine guy, at least. He acts like a senior.
Anyway, Blaine's trying to give the same speech I remember, something about me not having to feel alone – humph, this guy's gay, too, then – and how coming to terms with myself is naturally frightening, and yadda yadda yadda.
I roll my eyes. "Look," I tell both of them, "I don't need your pity, or help, or whatever the fuck you think you're doing that might be 'good' for me. I have it all figured out, okay? I told my mom last night that I kissed Kurt, that I like boys, and all that shit. She freaked out at first, but after I reminded her that I'm still the same person and all I did was stop lying to her, she took it pretty well and even decided to tell my dad for me. Still dunno his reaction, but I don't care. I know he'll still love me. It –" I'm about to say that it worked last time, but I'd just sound crazy if I let them know the truth about how I knew to come out to my parents this soon. Instead, I shrug and inform them, "But I ain't comin' out to the school. You can forget that. Az would be a huge asshole about it, and no one on the hockey team would talk to me again, and high school just sucks when you're gay. So I'll hold out 'til college, thanks."
Blaine looks taken aback, and Kurt is just staring at me, kind of in a gaping way, not too unlike how he had in Sylvester's office when she was principal the first time around.
"Well then," Blaine says with an amused quirk on his lips and with raised triangular brows. "I don't even know why I bothered, then! You seem to have things under wraps better than I thought a jocky closet case such as yourself could have. Kudos, David." He looks over at Kurt, gently nudging his forearm with his elbow. "Would you like to add something?"
Kurt stands, suddenly pink-faced, and I casually pan my eyes over to lock gazes with him. "You…!" he sputters, and I'm not sure what he's about to say. It could go anywhere at this point. With what must be a blush of shame, he snaps at me, "You stole my first kiss, and you're just flippantly brushing it off like it's no big deal? You were such an asshole, and yet you seem to think that everything's peachy? Just what the hell sort of person are you, Karofsky?"
I stand suddenly, frowning at him slightly. Between us, Blaine looks on with interest, probably waiting to see if we can work this out on our own, and if not, waiting to intervene. I bark back, "I know what I'm doing, okay? I learned a lot recently, and I know that it's tiring to lie to my parents anymore, but that I literally can't take being harassed at school. I'm not like you, okay? I'm not half as courageous or strong-willed or confident in myself. So lay off, will ya? I'm doing things my way."
"Then why did you kiss me?" Kurt hisses, leaning in to stab a finger in the air between our chests. "Because I'm an easy target? Because I'm the only out gay? Or is it because, in your deranged mind, it was your way of apologizing or coming out to me or something?"
"Maybe," I huff, crossing my arms over my chest. "Or maybe it's none of those. Could be because I thought you'd understand, or I wanted to shut you up, but maybe it's just because I like you, Fancy."
"You what…?" he says with a gasp, reeling backward.
Blaine grins suddenly. "My, what a turn of events this has taken!"
I grunt something incoherent and turn and storm out of the room. I don't need this right now. This is my new shot at life or whatever and I just keep screwing it up with each and every passing moment. It's as though part of me still feels like this is an illusion and I'll wake up for real and realize that I'm dead and in purgatory or Hell or wherever homos are sent after they die.
I kind of hope for this, though. Because if this isn't any of that, then I truly am screwing up my second chance pretty thoroughly.
The next day, Kurt comes and sits down at my lunch table, right in front of my friends. They start tossing rude remarks – ones involving my current least favorite f-word, the ever-popular slur for homos – and I immediately shut them up and remove myself from the table, gesturing for Kurt to follow.
I take my tray and dump its contents in the trash. After ditching the tray in a pile of others on a cart, I turn and shove my hands in my pockets. "Go eat your lunch. I'll be 'round. I'm sure your smart mouth has something to say that won't go unheard by me for long, so hurry up and then let's get this over with."
He makes a face at me – one I can't read and don't recognize – and nods. He saunters off, rejoins his friends, and finishes his meal all while glancing back at me to make sure I haven't gone, and probably to say something about me to them, too. I bet they all know I'm gay. Kurt kept the secret out of fear last time, but now? There's nothing to fear. I haven't hurt him since I time-jumped. I haven't given him a reason to fear me, and because of that, no reason to keep the secret.
When Kurt comes back, there's this odd smile barely reaching the corners of his mouth. "Library?" he says, and I shrug, following him out of the cafeteria and down the hallway. After a long silence, and once we're hidden by some bookshelves from the librarian and the single kid in the entire room who's on a computer, Kurt whispers, "Did… did you mean what you said yesterday?"
"What, that I liked you?" I retort nonchalantly. My heart is racing in my chest, though, despite the tone. "Yeah. Wouldn't'na said it if it weren't the truth. Sorry 'bout being such a dick to you, but it was my twisted way of showing my feelings without showing my feelings, know what I mean?"
He shakes his head. "A little. But you know, elementary flirting really is stupid. I can understand why you couldn't say it directly, but… ever heard of anonymous flowers?"
"Not my thing," I answer with an irritated lick at my lips. I glance at the multi-colored carpet pounded flat by years of book-searching feet wearing on its surface. I rake my nails down its haphazard coloring pattern while admitting, "But you're right, I could've done things differently. So I'm trying that now. I already said I was sorry and told you how I felt, right? That's something."
"I suppose so, but… you can't expect me to return your feelings, Karofsky. After all, you –"
"Have been your bully for years. Yeah, I get that. Like I said to your pal Blaine, I'm not stupid. I know you hate my guts, and that we're too different, and I'm not your type, and all that. I don't want anything from you, Hummel. I kissed you, yeah, in one of those impulsive moments, but it won't happen again, okay? I'm not gonna force you to like me or anything. Have I tried anything since that kiss? No. So leave me alone and I'll leave you alone," I tell him, and that's that. I'm done here. I get up from the floor and start pacing down the aisle, back to the library entrance.
However, I hear Fancy scrambling to his feet behind me, muttering a sharp, "Wait!" still in a whisper.
He grabs me by the arm once I'm in the hallway; most kids are still in lunch or another class, so it's empty. "What happened to you? It's like you kiss me and suddenly you're… a different person."
"I guess. So what?" I grumble, not able to look him in the eyes when he's touching me like that.
"It's… a nice change, that's all. And while I still dislike you, I don't hate you any longer. And you and I could be friends eventually, I think. Us gays got to stick together, right?" Kurt smirks, and I swear I either want to slap him or kiss him again.
I laugh with a tinge of bitterness. "Us? Friends? Fancy, you know that's not possible. We're born to argue with each other. Which, come to think of it, is another reason why I know we wouldn't work out romantically, no matter how much I like you. So no, man; this gay ain't stickin' to nobody. I'm just going to get through high school and try to actually stay in college and then move away somewhere to get a decent job that's anything but construction." He doesn't understand, I can tell by the puzzle expression on his face, but I hadn't expected him to. It's just something for myself, a brief reminder of how I can change things. I think that's what I was meant to do: correct my mistakes, and undo my regrets. I already fixed some of them, anyhow.
He drops his hands from my arm, permitting me to lower it to hang limply at my side. I ignore how cold it feels without the warmth of his fingers around my wrist.
"You haven't worn your letterman since you kissed me."
"And? Your point?" I say as I try to start walking again. He's trailing after me like a lost puppy with only one person vaguely known enough to him to hang on to.
"My point being that that's a sign. You don't want to hide behind your jocky exterior any longer."
"Ha, that's funny. You're funny, Hummel," I snort in reply. "But that isn't true. There are a ton of days when I don't wear my letterman jacket. Today and yesterday just happen to be two of them."
"Oh," he says, probably trying to remember other days that I haven't worn the blasted thing. "Well," he murmurs, "That still means something."
"Not really. You read too much into things," I mutter. But being analytical comes with being dramatic, and Hummel is definitely a drama queen.
He frowns at that as I glance at him, where he's trotting a little to keep up with my long strides, even though his own legs are nearly as long as mine. "Karofsky," he tries again as the bell suddenly sounds in the hallway, "I'm not going to give up on you. Maybe I'm just being stubborn, and you could be a hopeless case, but I want to try to figure you out."
"Why would you even wanna bother?" I scoff, stopping mid-step to turn and face him, a frown on my brows and a puzzled shape to my lips.
Kurt nearly runs into me, but stops himself just in time to avoid actual contact. He takes a step back to lessen the heart-flutter-inducing closeness between us, and thank God, because having him so close drives me nuts in that impulsive-urges way.
"I want to bother because, aside from Blaine, you're the only…" he pauses, glancing around at the number of people suddenly around us, and improvises with a clearing of his throat to indicate what he means. "That I know. And you're in desperate need of a makeover; no, don't look at me like that; I wasn't referring to your appearance this time. I meant your insides. And I think I can help with that almost as much as I can with my usual makeovers. So please, Karofsky: let me befriend you. I can be a good influence on you. And… and you do kind of owe me for what you stole."
"But I haven't taken the –" and I cut myself off. Of course he doesn't mean the cake topper. I took that what would be a couple weeks from now, around the time Hudson and Kurt's parents get married. I realize that, in place of something tangible, he means his first kiss. I wince. "Yeah, okay. I do kinda owe you for that, since that's something I can't really give back. But if it's any consolation, that was a first for me, too."
"I figured it was," he whispers, looking oddly sincere. He shakes his head, a blushing rising again. "So it's settled, then?" he says, gripping his bag and edging near a classroom; his next period, I assume. Shit, I'm going to be late for mine. It's halfway across the school, and I only have about a minute and a half to get there.
"What is?" I ask vaguely, avoiding his fucking gorgeous eyes again.
"That you and I are going to be seeing more of each other, and with a lot less violence," he informs me. "Not friends, but acquaintances."
"Sure, whatever," I agree, trying not to reveal how much I like that idea. We can never be together in the way I wish for – him telling me he loves me, him writhing beneath me as I pleasure him, him walking hand-in-hand with me as we attend the same college – but I guess I could do that. Be semi-friends. Confidants at the least, since I honestly do need someone to talk to about when it comes to being homosexual. I never really got a chance to explore it even at age twenty-three, my knowledge limited to movies, TV, and online porn.
"Fantastic," Kurt grins, and then he's sidestepping into a classroom nearby. Sighing, I turn and head to my next class, still waiting on the office to either give me my locker information; they don't like students breaking into other lockers, pretending it's their own, so it takes a while to confirm that I'm telling the truth. So I have no real supplies except for what was in the car (my backpack with half of my classes' stuff in it, leftover from whatever homework I had before I body-switched with myself).
And I'm beginning to wonder if what I'm doing is right. Getting my grades back up, conversing with Kurt, and all that stuff. Is it what I'm meant to do? How can I know if I'm on the right path for the rewrite of my personal history?