Story: Memento Mori (Bad Latin)
Character: Dave, Finn, one-sided Kurtofsky
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: [AU]In the end, there was regret and maybe something more… Heavy angst
Warning: Up to 2x16
Word Count: 2579
A/N: In Latin, 'memento mori' actually means 'Remember your mortality,' but even poorly applied, it still felt sadly appropriate; remembrance and the passing of a dream…
A/N #2: I may be smarting, I may be saddened, but I haven't given up yet – this should not be considered a post-script to Kurtofsky; think of it as AU…
Memento Mori (Bad Latin)
Finn had cursed under his breath when he'd drawn that short straw.
Quinn had been waiting for him to join the rest of the team (and some of the glee club, believe it or not), for an after-practice slice of pizza at that new place that had opened up on Culver Street. (They were thrilled to have some place other than Breadstix to go to for a change…) He'd wanted to go with her, she'd looked really hot tonight, but he'd known eventually talk would have moved on to that whole prom King and Queen thing she was so obsessed with and as much as he wanted to be on top again, as much as it would have been cool, he was just sick of talking about it all the time. They hardly made out anymore…
So when he'd drawn that short straw, his knee jerk reaction was to do what any red- blooded – and self-involved – American teenager did in this situation; he whined, then he promised to join them as soon as he was done. He'd meant it at the time, but now that he was out there all alone on the field, the arc lights still blazing, pushing that half-full cart around as he picked up stray equipment and footballs, he was just relishing the silence and the cool night air.
He actually thought he might just volunteer the next time Coach Beiste was looking for a "victim" for post-practice clean-up. (Football season may have been over, but Beiste said she didn't want them going soft and stupid in the off-season; she wanted them primed for a second championship win next year…) With a full-house back at Casa Hummel – most nights Kurt brought Blaine home for dinner – and Quinn or the glee kids at school, Finn barely got a moment to scratch his balls (read: think) anymore.
He had just closed the cart up in the equipment cage – they could sort it out on Monday – and was about to turn the locker room lights off and leave when he thought he heard a sound amongst the lockers.
"Hello," he called. "Who's still here?"
No one answered, but something shifted against the lockers and he thought he could hear someone breathing.
"Not funny, dude," he muttered. "Halloween was months ago. If you're here, just say so."
When there was still no response, he began to question whether he'd heard it at all, but he'd be locking up for the weekend and he knew he couldn't just leave without checking. What if someone were still here. What if they'd fallen or passed out?
Making a quick pass down the line, he was just rounding a corner, when he saw someone sitting on the floor, slumped against a bank of lockers.
He squinted into the dark.
"Shit, dude! You scared me," he asked, shocked to see him and wondering why he wasn't with the others at Antonella's. "You all right, man?"
He wouldn't say that he and Karofsky were friends these days, but since that week the football team had been made to join glee, they weren't the enemies they used to be either.
He dropped his jacket on the bench and walked down the aisle.
Karofsky was sitting with his back against the lockers, one knee pulled up to his chest, one leg stretched out in front of him, eyes on something he was turning over and over in his hand.
"What the fuck, dude," he said, more a statement than a question. He was somewhat annoyed, but more than a little spooked by the big jock's posture and expression. "You trying to get locked in here for the weekend? You know Beiste'd have your ass if she had to come down here to let you out."
There was a beat, an empty moment in which neither spoke and the only sound was of Karofsky's breathing, and then finally he broke the silence.
"Just go, man," Karofsky said under his breath, shifting his face away so that now all Finn could see was hair. "Leave the keys. I'll lock up. Swear." Moving his other hand from where it was holding his right knee fast to his chest, he dragged the back against his face, craning his neck around even farther as if trying to read locker numbers or something.
Finn wasn't spooked anymore.
Now he was down right scared.
"You know I can't do that, man," he said softly, moving closer. "Something's wrong."
A bitter laugh, almost a cackle, and Dave still looking anywhere but at him.
"Nothing's wrong, boy scout. You just run along now and join for geeky friends." He paused, clearing his throat. "This is none of your business."
"If there's 'nothing wrong,' how is there a 'this' to be 'none of my business?'"
Karofsky seemed to consider this for a moment.
"Whatever, dude," he said, voice a warning. "It's still none of your business."
Moving a few steps closer, Finn fished the locker room keys out of his pocket and jangled them in Karofsky's direction.
"See these? They mean I'm responsible. Of course, it's my business."
He was just a couple steps away now and even in the dim light of the locker room, he could see Karofsky's face; it was blotchy and his eyes were red.
Finn had no idea what was going on, but he had this cold feeling in the pit of his stomach, a feeling that said whatever it was, it wasn't entirely not his business either.
He'd had some suspicions about Karofsky in the past, but they'd just seemed too absurd to entertain before…
He bent and touched a hand to the big jock's shoulder. "Dude. You wanna talk about it," he asked, sitting down on the bench next to him.
Karofsky flinched Finn's hand away, turned his whole body away. "Fuck, no! You're the last person I want to talk to…"
'What the hell did that mean?' Finn thought, but before he could ask the question, Karofsky had lumbered to his feet in an effort to get away from him, dropping whatever it was he was holding in the process.
It tumbled end over end, coming to a stop at Finn's foot.
Hands quick, he managed to pick it up before Karofsky's bear paw could snag it away.
What the fuck?
It was a little plastic figurine of a bride and groom, the kind you put on wedding cakes.
"What the fuck, dude," he asked, turning the thing over in his hand; it was at once confusing and weirdly familiar. "W-where did you get this?"
But he knew.
He knew because he'd seen it before.
Kurt had been planning to put this exact figurine on their parent's wedding cake. He'd been saving it for years. Finn thought it might have been from Kurt's mom and dad's wedding. Right before the wedding, he'd gone out and bought another one, some swanky porcelain thing, and Finn had just decided that as wedding planner Kurt had either wanted something more sophisticated to use…or that he hadn't want to disrespect the memory of his mother by using it for his father's second marriage, which Finn had thought was fair and understandable.
Karofsky had had it all along?
The tumblers kept spinning in Finn's head, but they refused to light on anything; he felt like he was on the verge of making sense of what was happening, but something inside of him didn't want to, and so they kept spinning…
When he looked up, Karofsky was back on the floor, his face wrecked, mumbling something over and over.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…"
What was he sorry for? Sorry for taking the thing – which, why did he? Sorry for being such a dick to Kurt, for slamming him around, for chasing him out of the school? Sorry for always being on his case, always having something to say, always having to shove him, or bump into him, or grab him, or…
The last wheel clicked into place and he stood, frozen, just staring as Karofsky melted down at Finn's feet.
"You didn't hate Kurt, did you," he asked, his voice an awed whisper and his belly cold.
At this, Karofsky just buried his head in his hands.
"No!" Karofsky's shout echoed off the empty locker room walls. He slammed his head back against the metal lockers, face red and chest heaving. "No, no, no!" He was shaking his head, eyes wide, expression tortured.
It hurt to look at him.
Finn had a million questions running through his head – when, where, why, how – but what was screaming the loudest.
"What did you do to him, Karofsky," he asked, unable to keep the dread and the menace out of his tone. Forget love and hate, if he…if he hurt his brother, he was dust.
"I didn't mean to do it," Karofsky whispered, shaking his head again. The words started to spill out, but it was almost like he'd forgotten Finn was there, like he was talking to himself or something. "He wouldn't leave me alone. I was just trying to get him to leave me alone, but he wouldn't let up. In my face, screaming at me, nothing I said would get him to shut up…"
Finn grit his teeth, asked the question he didn't want to hear the answer to.
"So you hit him."
Another head shake and then an answer that surprised Finn only because he'd been expecting something else.
"I kissed him."
Wait…that made sense, too.
Suddenly, it all made sense. In a twisted, uber-screwed up way, it all made sense. Finn had been right; Karofsky was a closet case. It was more than that, though. He wasn't just in the closet for being gay, he was in the closet for being in love with Kurt.
"Why didn't you tell him, man," Finn asked softly. "If anyone would have understood, it was him."
"I didn't…it wouldn't…he wouldn't have cared, man," Karofsky muttered. "I was just some big dumb jock who was…was gonna be bald by the time I was, fuck, by the time I was thirty…" He laughed here, bitterly.
Huh? What does that mean?
Now that he was rolling, Karofsky wasn't stopping.
"…I fucked it all up anyway…" He slammed his head against the lockers again. "If I could've just been straight with him—" Another bitter laugh. "That's funny, huh?" He looked at Finn for the first time. "Fuck, maybe I should do stand-up…"
Finn's shrug was sympathetic, but he just couldn't laugh.
"Talk to him, man. He's a good guy, he'll understand—"
Karofsky jerked his head toward Finn, eyebrows narrowed, expression gone from self-pity to angry in zero to nothing.
"Understand what? That some fat fuck who's had a crush on him since eighth grade can only show it by shoving him into lockers…" He jerked his chin to the cake topper, still in Finn's hands. "…stealing shit from him, and…and threatening to kill him." Another slam of his head against the locker. Finn wondered absently if he were bleeding yet… "Why would he," Karofsky went on. "I treated him like shit and he's…he's got Mr. Perfect, he's got Ladyboy now. Why the fuck would he care what I was feeling…"
Another tumbler clicked into place.
And Kurt showed up after practice hand-in-hand with Blaine tonight, giggling like a girl in love, invincible in the face of his bully, almost daring him to do something.
Finn's eyes went wide as he tried to process it all, surprised to find himself feeling sympathy for the dude that had made his brother's life a living hell.
…because he loved him…
Eighth grade? He'd liked him since the eighth grade?
That was…that was hard core…
And then Finn's memory spun to flashes from Rachel's disastrous party a few weeks ago; Blaine spastic and drunk and stuck on Rachel's face. Kurt had looked…he'd looked ill through most of it and then, after Finn had helped pour the idiot into Kurt's bed, thinking Kurt would probably try to use that drunken state to…to make his own play for the guy, only to see the clear disappointment on his face at breakfast the next morning…
More stories, things Kurt had confided over warm milk and these hard, hard cookies Kurt called biscutty, or something, like it made them more interesting (which it didn't): Blaine recruiting the Warblers to confess his love to someone that turned out to not be Kurt; Blaine looking at him like his head was on fire when Kurt confessed he'd thought it'd been for him…; Blaine treating him like he was stupid; Blaine treating him like he was a child; Blaine suddenly having this…what was the word Kurt had used? this epicenter? no, it was an epiphany…suddenly, after all these months, realizing that Kurt was the one he'd been looking for, all because he'd sung a Beatles song after that had bird died? Kurt wasn't arguing, but even he seemed to think that was strange or insulting or… "'What if Pavarotti hadn't died?'" he'd asked, but he was grinning and breathless and blushing like he didn't care all the same.
Karofsky was still staring off into the distance, but Finn had finally figured out what to say. It might not be the right thing, but it was all he had.
When all else fails…hope. Even if it's false, there's always hope.
Hope keeps you going, right? And sometimes, hope can be a true thing.
"Dude," he said, waiting until Karofsky flinched so he was sure he'd heard. "That guy is a flake. One minute he's gay, the next minute he's bi, he's crushing on someone new every five seconds and right now he's onto Kurt."
Karofsky was looking at him now, eyebrows telegraphing his confusion. Or maybe he was about to hit him. Hard to tell with Karofsky.
"Why are you telling me this, Hudson?"
"Just don't give up, okay?"
Four years was a long time to like someone. Long enough for it to be more than like.
He couldn't condone what that 'like' had driven the jerk to do, but he could sort of understand it. He knew from watching his brother struggle, being gay wasn't an easy thing to be – and Kurt had had Burt.
That had to mean something.
He offered Karofsky a hand up from the floor and the big jock stared at it for a second, then took it, hauling himself onto his feet. "Let's get the fuck out of here," Finn said, crooked grin in place. "This place smells like ass."
Karofsky managed a weak grin. He still hadn't responded to what Finn has said, but at least he was off the floor and, Finn noticed with relief, there was no blood on the lockers…
Reaching for the cake topper, he handed it gingerly to Finn.
"Give this back to your brother, okay," he said, softly. "And tell him…tell him I'm sorry."
Finn nodded, grabbed the keys from the bench, and watched Karofsky push the door open with his knee.
Hitting the lights and joining him in the hallway, he wondered if he'd helped or just fucked things up worse.
He didn't know, he just knew that if he were right, if all of this had been because of love, that had to count for something.
Four years was a long time…