Wow, I am seriously blown away by the reactions and reviews for this story. Thank you all so, so much for taking the time to write and encourage me. And special thanks to Here's Hoping and dorydafish for supplying feedback on some technical details in the last two chapters; it was greatly informative and appreciated!
Speaking of details, we're going to pretend that either Kurt's phone doesn't have GPS on it, or that it doesn't work without a signal. Damn technology makes these "lost in the woods" stories a lot harder to write realistically these days. *shakes fist at young whippersnappers with their fancy gadgets*
Oh, and one last thing before we start- happy belated birthday to LizzyPoodle! Hope you like your slightly delayed prezzie! :D
Dave awoke to bright sunlight and the sound of birds chirping, along with a soft pressure on his chest and a tickly, sweet-smelling sensation under his nose. He opened up his eyes and looked down, only to find Kurt sleeping against his chest, the boy's silky hair brushing against his mouth and cheek. This has got to be a dream, thought Dave. I'm in bed with Kurt, and his hair smells like heaven. But then he shifted, feeling the hard ground beneath his back and the gnawing ache in his right arm, and it all came back to him. The crash. Kurt finding him when he thought for sure he'd die of dehydration and starvation in the dirt. Arguing with Kurt about the best use of their limited water. The last thing he remembered clearly was Kurt looking so sadly at him, before he started pulling on that bitchly piece of metal in his arm. After that it was pretty much a red haze of pain and fear, and he wasn't sure what exactly had gone down. He looked over at his right arm, opposite of where Kurt was resting, and saw that the shrapnel was gone. In its place was a multi-colored bandage made of both of their clothing, the more colorful strips belonging to Kurt's items of attire. He looked back at Kurt's sleeping face, awestruck. He saved my life. Holy shit, he saved my fucking life. Dave felt tears sting his eyes, and his left arm convulsively tightened around Kurt's slim shoulder. Moving as little as possible, he pressed his lips to the top of Kurt's head. "Thank you," he whispered.
Either the sound of his voice or his movement penetrated Kurt's slumber, because immediately the smaller boy began to stir. His hand, splayed on Dave's chest, clenched and released a couple of times, and he made the sweetest sighing noise Dave had ever heard. His cheek rubbed against Dave's chest, and Dave took his mouth off Kurt's hair, looking up at the sky and trees.
Kurt lifted his head off of Dave's chest, a little embarrassed to realize he'd drooled a damp circle on Dave's shirt. With all the mess of blood, though, it was doubtful Dave would notice. If he was even conscious, that was. He sat up, blinking in the brilliant morning light, and immediately looked down to check on Dave. His relief at seeing Dave's clear hazel eyes looking back at him was palpable, and he smiled broadly. "How are you feeling, Dave?" he asked, softly.
Dave had never seen Kurt smile so warmly and directly at him like that before, or heard him say his name like that, and it made his heart skip a beat. Knock it off, Dave told himself, he's just glad you're not dead. "Like I fell out of an airplane," he responded dryly, smirking a little at Kurt's chuff of laughter. He moved his arm, experimentally; while it hurt a lot, it was nothing compared to the white-hot agony when the metal had been embedded in it. He winced. "Honestly, though, considering everything? Not too bad. I think I want to sit up, actually."
Kurt put a hand on the back of Dave's neck and helped him into a sitting position. He kept his hand there for a few moments, just in case Dave couldn't stay up on his own, but then removed it when he appeared to be steady. He looked at the bandage, and was please to see no sign of blood. The same couldn't be said of either of their outfits, though; both he and Dave's shirts and pants were covered in stiff, dried blood. Kurt wrinkled his nose unpleasantly, pulling his graphic tee away from where it had stuck to his chest during the night. "I should see if I left any clothes uncut, so we can change. I know this isn't the time to be fussy, but I'm not sure I can stand wearing these much longer." Dave nodded in agreement, and Kurt went over to their suitcases. In his own he found the pants for his Nationals costume, and a tank style undershirt, but that was all. Dave fared a little better; he'd brought a few t-shirts with him, and Kurt had missed a couple at the bottom of the bag when pulling things out last night. He also found a pair of silky basketball shorts in McKinley red and black. It would all have to do; there was nothing else in either suitcase that hadn't been cut up. Luckily, it seemed to be unseasonably warm wherever they were. Even though you could tell by the sun it was early in the morning, Kurt thought it had to be in the 70's at least already.
"Okay, I found some things," said Kurt, turning to Dave. It suddenly hit him that in Dave's condition, it might be hard for the other boy to get undressed and dressed on his own. Looking at Dave's flushed cheeks, he could tell Dave was having the exact same thoughts. "Uh," Kurt said, "maybe we should have some water and a little to eat before we try this. You should probably have something in your stomach before you try to stand up the first time."
"You have food? Seriously?" asked Dave, momentarily distracted from the thoughts of being undressed in close proximity to an also undressed Kurt. He was so hungry, but hadn't wanted to say anything since he didn't think there was much that could be done about it.
"I have an energy bar that I brought on the plane with me," said Kurt. "But it's small, and there's just one. We'll need to try and make it last at least all of today. So just half for now, split between us, I think." He dropped the clothes he'd been holding, and rooted around in his leather bag. "And I'm sorry to say, only a few sips of water each. I know you must be so thirsty after losing all that blood, but I did use the whole first bottle last night, so we've only got the one." He walked over to Dave and sat next to him, handing him the bottle of water and ripping open the energy bar. He broke it in half, wrapped one part of it back in the wrapper, then broke the other half into two neat and equal pieces. "Hope you like raisins," Kurt said, handing Dave his portion.
"Love them," said Dave. Actually, he wasn't the biggest fan of any kind of dried fruit, but right now it sounded like the best thing ever. He wanted to shove the whole piece in his mouth, but he saw Kurt taking tiny little bites, and decided to follow suit. Maybe if he chewed a lot, he could fool his stomach into thinking he'd consumed a lot more. He opened up the small bottle of water and took a sip, and the moisture exploded on his dry tongue. It was all he could do not to gulp the whole thing down in one go, but he pulled it away from his lips and offered it to Kurt instead.
Kurt took the bottle, and Dave could tell for a moment he was thinking of wiping the top off before taking a drink himself. But Kurt just shrugged and put his mouth where Dave's had been moments before, taking the tiniest of sips. No need to be shy about a little spit, I guess. Not when I bled all over you last night, Dave thought. He knew he needed to say something, even if it could never come close to really expressing how he felt about what Kurt had done for him. "Um…I just…" he stammered. Kurt looked at him, mildly curious. "Thank you. You…you totally saved my life. I mean, you found me in the first place, and then you took care of that thing in my arm. I don't remember much, but it must have been…really gross."
Surprisingly, Kurt laughed a little. "Yeah, it was pretty gross all right." He sobered, though. "And scary, too. I really thought you were going to bleed to death. Good thing I had the sewing kit."
"What?" asked Dave. "What do you mean?"
"I stitched up your wound," Kurt said, almost casually. "It was the only thing I could think of to get it to stop bleeding."
"You…" Dave trailed off, eyes wide and disbelieving. "You put stitches in my arm? In the middle of fucking nowhere? Like some kind of goddamn battlefield medic?" Kurt nodded, and Dave continued to goggle at him. Holy shit. Dave doubted that there was one frigging gigantic, macho guy on the football team who would have had the presence of mind and composure to do what this slim, effeminate boy had done. Talk about your still waters running deep. "Wow, that's…unbelieveable. I can't believe you did that."
"I'm just glad it worked." Kurt felt a little uncomfortable at Dave's near-worshipful gaze. "It could just have easily done nothing, or worse. It's not like I really had a clue what I was doing."
"Yeah, but you tried. I mean, a lot of people wouldn't have, they'd have just freaked out and never even thought about doing it."
"No, really, Kurt," Dave said, looking deeply into Kurt's eyes. "You went above and beyond. And you saved my life. Please, let me thank you." He looked away to hide the tears that had sprung to his eyes. "Don't shrug it off like it's nothing, okay?"
Kurt was a little overwhelmed, but put himself in Dave's shoes. If their positions were reversed, he'd have been very upset if Dave hadn't let him express his gratitude. Maybe it was a pretty big deal after all. "Hey," Kurt said, touching Dave's good shoulder. He smiled when Dave turned back and finally met his eyes again. "You're welcome, Dave." They sat there for a moment in silence, but it was a comfortable one.
After a moment, Dave spoke. "So, what's the plan? I assume you have one, seeing as how you've turned out to be the badass MacGyver type after all."
Kurt blushed. He was pretty sure it was the first time anyone had ever even thought he was a badass, let alone said it out loud. "Well, if you're up to it, we should probably move," Kurt said. "There's something to be said to sticking close to the wreckage, since that's what any rescue effort will be looking for. But unless there's a water source or better shelter close by, we might not make it long enough for them to get here. The woods seem really dense, and I don't even know how much they'd be able to see from above. If they even have an idea that we've crashed, that is."
"Jake would have had to file a flight plan," said Dave, glad to be contributing something for a change. "We didn't show, so they'll know something went wrong. But there's no way of telling how far off course we got after the engine failed. If it was a lot, we might be kinda hard to find from way down here, no matter how close to the plane we stick."
"I have my phone, and it's working" said Kurt, and Dave's eyes lit up for a moment. "But there's no signal. But if we travel a ways, we might be able to pick one up and call for help. I really think that's our best hope. But I don't want to leave it on the whole time; I'm afraid the battery will die, and then we'll really be screwed."
"Maybe we should check it twice a day. Three times, tops," Dave said. "And only after we've made some good progress."
"That sounds good," Kurt agreed. "But…I don't know how far or how fast we'll be able to go. You've been through a lot, Dave."
Dave frowned. It was all well and good that Kurt had taken care of him, but it wasn't like he was a fragile flower, for Christ's sake. Poking the last bit of energy bar into his mouth, he brushed his hands off on his dirty jeans. "No time like the present to find out, right?" he said breezily. He held out his hand to Kurt. "Help me up? We should get changed, like you said, and get going."
Kurt looked at Dave dubiously, but took his hand and pulled. With some effort, Dave made it to his feet and was pleased to see he could stand on his own. He felt a little woozy, but his pride kept him upright. "Can I have those clothes?" he asked Kurt.
Kurt walked over to the clothes and handed a t-shirt and the shorts to Dave. "Do you need help?" he asked.
"Nah, I'm good. Just get yourself set." He turned his back on Kurt and walked a few feet away.
Kurt walked a little ways away as well. He grabbed his tank and pants, along with a clean pair of underwear from his messenger bag. He stripped quickly, trying not to listen to the sound of Dave's disrobing, accompanied by gasps and cursing. He figured it would be best to get dressed fast, and be available - and clothed - to help Dave if he needed it after all. When he got the clean garments on, he felt much better, but felt very exposed on top with just a tight tank t-shirt. Kurt absolutely hated his torso and shoulders, finding them unattractively soft and fish-belly white. When he and Blaine fooled around, he would let Blaine fondle him under his shirt; but never ever let him pull it off, or even lift it above his navel. Kurt was attracted to darker, hairier and more firmly muscled men, and as such figured his own body must be quite unappealing in its opposition. He thought about Dave's extra t-shirt, and raised his voice without turning around. "Hey, Dave?" he called out.
"Yeah?" came the slightly irritated reply.
"Can I wear your other t-shirt? Just for now? I uh, don't want to get sunburned." Not that there was much chance of that in the freaking woods, but hopefully Dave wouldn't question it. "And that way we can bring it along, but won't have to carry it in the bag."
There was a pause, then Dave replied. "Sure, go ahead."
Gratefully, Kurt turned to pick up Dave's shirt from where he'd dropped it near the suitcases. He spied Dave across the way. He'd successfully gotten his jeans off and shorts on. Kurt wondered if maybe the shorts were a bit too small for Dave, as the thin fabric delineated the globes of his rear end a little too clearly. Dave was obviously struggling to get his shirt on with the limited mobility of his injured arm, so Kurt quickly pulled Dave's tee over his head and started over to offer assistance. As he neared, he noticed that Dave's back was extremely smooth and broad, and shook his head a little to clear it. He wondered what was wrong with him, noticing such personal things about Dave.
"Looks like you could use some help," Kurt said to Dave's back.
"No, I'm fine," replied Dave huffily. "I just have to-" he broke off as pain shot through his arm. "Fuck!"
"Come on, Dave. You're going to rip your stitches and get that thing bleeding again," Kurt said. "Just let me help, it's no big deal."
Dave sighed heavily. After a long pause, he turned to face Kurt, holding his shirt in his good hand. One look at Kurt had him stopped dead and staring, though. Not only was Kurt wearing those tight pants for Nationals (which Kurt must have done some tailoring on, because his own pants didn't fit anything like that; it was like they'd been sprayed onto Kurt's long legs), with those sexy-as-hell knee high Docs (he would never forget Kurt wearing the same ones that day in the locker room); but he was unprepared for his visceral reaction to seeing Kurt wearing one of his most favorite t-shirts. Dave had gotten it at a U2 concert in Cleveland back in 2009, and with so many washings since then, it had become soft and worn thin. Dave rarely wore it to school, especially before he came out, but it was the shirt he most often wore on the weekends vegging out at his place. It was, of course, ridiculously big on Kurt, being an extra large and all. But the shirt settled into gentle folds along Kurt's torso and arms, and the neck hole was so large that his finely boned clavicles were revealed. Dave got a mental picture of Kurt pulling the same shirt on over his naked body after a sweaty round of sex, and cursed under his breath as he started to harden. He had gotten fairly good at keeping his smuttier thoughts at bay when in close proximity to Kurt, but spending this much time with him was obviously eroding his self control. Goddammit, stop it, he thought. These shorts don't leave a whole lot to the imagination, you perverted freak. And stop staring!
Kurt might have been creeped out by Dave's fixation, but he was completely distracted by the sight of Dave's shirtless chest. Oh my Gaga, he thought. That was not the chest of a 17 year old boy. It was a man's chest, with firm pectoral muscles, a silky web of dark hair, and flat copper nipples. And his unbandaged arm was…Kurt felt his dry mouth go even dryer. Dave's bicep was huge; Kurt doubted he could have circled the circumference with even both of his hands. His breath quickened as his heart rate increased. You have a boyfriend, he told himself. Stop staring! Blindly, Kurt stuck out his hand. "Give me your shirt," he said, and took it from Dave, careful not to touch the other boy's hand.
He tried to shift gears, and considered how best to get Dave's shirt on him. "Why don't we try this with you sitting down?" said Kurt. After Dave complied, he asked him to hold his arms straight out in front of him. Holding Dave's shirt by the hem, Kurt carefully eased his arms through the short sleeves, being especially careful with the injured one. He guessed the best way to get it the rest of the way on was from behind Dave, so he moved back there. "Duck your head, and I'll try to get it through the neck," Kurt said. He bent over at the waist to accomplish the task, and ask much as he tried to avoid it, the front of his pants bumped against the back of Dave's head a couple of times. Cheeks burning, he slipped Dave's head into the shirt and tugged it the rest of the way into place, stepping quickly away.
"Uh…thanks," said Dave, not knowing what to say. He hoped he hadn't let on at all how much he'd wanted to rub up against Kurt's zipper when it came into contact with the back of his head.
Kurt coughed. "You're welcome," he said.
The quiet that followed Kurt's reply spun out, until Dave couldn't stand the awkward silence any longer. "So, which way do you think we should head?" he asked.
Kurt was extremely grateful for something else to focus on. The sun had just risen above the tops of the trees. "Let's walk towards the sun for now, and that'll keep us going east, and not have us going in circles. We'll keep an eye on where it is in the sky and try to go in a straight line for the most part."
"Sounds good," said Dave, shifting onto his left side and attempting to push himself up with his good arm. In an instant, Kurt was at his side, gently pulling him up and supporting him he rose to his feet. When he was convinced Dave was steady, Kurt picked up his leather bag and slung it over his shoulder.
"Onwards into adventure," Kurt said dryly. He looked at Dave. "You need to tell me when you need to rest, okay? None of that macho tough-guy crap. You need to stop? Be honest about it and we'll stop. Agreed?" Dave nodded and walked up to Kurt, and the two of them set off into the woods, following the sun.
They would walk about an hour or so going at steady but not too brisk pace, then Dave would need to stop and rest a bit. On the fourth stop, they allowed themselves each two small sips of water, which was not nearly enough considering how thirsty they were, and how badly they were sweating from even the light exertion. It must have been in the mid-80's, and they could only be grateful that the trees kept the sun off of them, or it would have been a lot hotter. Both boy's shirts were damp with perspiration, though neither made a move to strip them off. As they walked, they occasionally came across some berried bushes, and once, some mushrooms; but having no idea if they were poisonous or not, they decided not to risk it. Kurt thought that at some point, if they weren't rescued, they were probably going to have to take a chance; better to die more quickly from being poisoned than slowly from starvation, he guessed. But both he and Dave were young and healthy, and he imagined they had a ways to go before having to deal with that. Of course, that was if they found water. The little bottle, no matter how conservative they were with it, wasn't going to last past tomorrow morning. And Dave was right, dehydration would likely be the first thing that would kill them. Stop thinking about dying so much, Kurt. It's morbid, depressing, and doesn't help at all.
Dave and Kurt talked a little as they walked, but not much. Mostly they walked in companionable silence, each lost in their own thoughts. On the fifth stop, they checked Kurt's phone. They each held their breath, but then exhaled in a disappointed huff when no bars appeared on the screen. Kurt felt tears start to prick at the corners of his eyes, and told himself to stop it. He couldn't afford to lose any more moisture, and he didn't want Dave to see his weakness either. Blinking, he rose to his feet. "Okay, we'll check again before we go to sleep tonight. Let's just…try to get as far as we can." Dave had nodded, and they started off again.
They walked on, and eventually the sun was not in front of or above them, but behind Dave and Kurt. The temperature began to cool off, and a slight breeze dried their damp shirts. When an orange glow once again lit the forest, Kurt mentioned that he thought they might want to settle in for the night. They needed to get a much bigger fire going tonight; if he hadn't been so exhausted and Dave hadn't passed out, they'd have shivered all last night once Kurt's meager blaze went out.
They found a spot with a large felled tree soon after. "That tree's pretty big," said Dave. "If we could pull down some of these pine branches, we could make a little shelter. Like a lean-to." Kurt approved, tossing his bag to the ground.
The two of them first cleared a good-sized space of forest floor, sweeping leaves and twigs out of the way with their hands. Dave, with only one good arm, started collecting whatever branches he could find on the ground or within close reach. Kurt began breaking the lower branches off of several pine trees, pulling with both hands and jamming his foot against them until they came free of the trunk. As dusk fell, they layered the pine boughs on the fallen tree into a makeshift tent, and had also built a fire with plenty of extra wood left over to feed it throughout the evening.
Sitting close to the fire, Kurt tried his phone again, but there was still no signal. He stowed it back in his pocket without commenting on the fact that the battery indicator was already down one notch. Pulling the last piece of energy bar and the quarter-full water bottle out of his bag, he handed both to Dave. "Bon appetite," he said, trying for a light tone. Dave broke the last of their food in half, handing Kurt a piece that was just slightly larger than his own. They consumed their sparse dinner quietly, and took more sips of water to wash it down. They would each have two or three more sips in the morning, and then their water supply would be gone.
As Kurt looked into the fire, Dave said something unexpected. "Do you think we won?" he said.
"What?" replied Kurt.
"New Directions. I mean, it's Saturday night, and the competition's over. Do you think we won Nationals?" Dave asked.
There was no guarantee that the judges would even let their glee club perform with fewer than the required members, Kurt thought. And even if they made an exception for extenuating circumstances, Vocal Adrenaline had won the last four years, and there was no reason to expect they wouldn't again. Especially since Mr. Schuester would have had to restage quickly in he and Dave's absence, and it would have put them at a serious disadvantage. But when Kurt thought of how amazing their rehearsals had been, there was only one answer that came to his lips. "Yeah, I think we did," he said, turning to Dave. The same tears he felt in his eyes were mirrored in Dave's; unashamedly, he leaned into the bigger boy and rested his head on his broad shoulder. For a moment, Dave was still, but then his arm encircled Kurt in a comforting hug.
Pulling away, Kurt smiled bashfully and wiped his eyes. He turned back to the fire. "We should probably get some sleep," he said. "The earlier we get up, the cooler it'll be when we start walking." He stood up, went over to his bag, and pulled out his robe. Heading over to their shelter, he looked over his shoulder at Dave, who hadn't moved. "You coming?" Kurt said.
Dave was shaken out of his sadness by Kurt's words. Surely he hadn't meant for them to sound so…inviting. But Dave felt a faint arrow of want shoot into his belly at the sound of Kurt asking him to join him for the night. It was stupid under the circumstances, but he couldn't help it. "Yeah," he responded, voice a little raspy.
Kurt slid under the pine branches, and Dave joined him. At first they tried lying with back-to-back, facing away from each other; but there wasn't quite enough room for both of them under the robe/blanket that way. Finally, Dave turned away from the tree and settled his front against Kurt's back, trying to resist the temptation to spoon him completely. Feeling Kurt stiffen a bit, he had to ask. "Is this okay?"
After a moment of hesitation, Kurt replied. "Yeah, it's fine," he said, then relaxed. "Our combined body heat should help us keep warm. It might be hot during the day, but it's pretty cold at night this time of year."
Dave placed the hand of his uninjured arm at Kurt's neck, fingertips sliding slightly under. "Can I…" he asked, trailing off. Kurt didn't protest, so he slid his arm under Kurt's neck, then draped his bandaged arm over Kurt's hip. The throbbing of his injury lessened a bit from the elevation, though the throbbing in his shorts increased dramatically. He made sure that his crotch was not pressed up in any way against Kurt's ass, though everything from the chest up was plastered together pleasingly.
They both lay there silently, so tired but unable to sleep. Finally, Kurt spoke. "Will you sing something for me, Dave?" he asked.
"Really?" asked Dave, totally surprised by the request.
"I usually fall asleep listening to my iPod," Kurt fibbed. "I'm not used to trying to sleep with so much quiet." He paused, then decided to share a little truth. He and Dave had been though a lot the last couple of days, and he supposed he owed him the honesty. "Besides, I like your voice," he admitted.
"Well, you know…baritone. It's a very soothing register."
"And yours is…really nice. Have you thought about next week's assignment yet?" Mr. Schuster had challenged them to come back from Nationals - win or lose -with "the one song that no one would expect you to sing." It could be lyrically, stylistically, or whatever; but it had to be unexpected of the individual performer.
"Yes," said Dave honestly. He knew the minute Schuester announced the assignment what he wanted to sing. He'd hoped to have the guts to follow through with it, but who knew? He'd been as vulnerable as he'd ever been in glee, but this would have taken it to a whole other level.
"Will you sing it for me now?" asked Kurt. Because otherwise, I might not ever hear it. He wasn't sure Dave was going to comply, right up until he heard the soft acapella vocal begin.
Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long.
No matter what I say or do
I'll still feel you here 'til the moment I'm gone
You hold me without touch
You keep me without chains
I never wanted anything so much
Than to drown in your love and not feel your rain
Set me free…leave me be
I don't want to fall another moment into your gravity…
Dave was singing Sara Bareilles, and Kurt was stunned. Yes, the big, tough jock channeling a beautifully emo girl singer-songwriter would have been very unexpected indeed. He listened to Dave's voice; how the lyrics so obviously connected with his soul, and brought his hand up to mesh with Dave's as he reached the bridge.
I live here on my knees
As I try to make you see
That you're everything I think I need here on the ground.
But you're neither friend nor foe
Though I can't seem to let you go.
The one thing that I still know is that you're keeping me…down
As the last note of Dave's warm voice trailed off, Kurt felt all of the tension and worry leave his body and mind. Under the pine branches - and warmed by a fire they'd built together, his own robe, and the heat of Dave's sturdy body curled against his - Kurt finally drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
Sooo…long chapter is LONG. Hope it didn't bore you too much, as there was a certain amount of getting Kurt and Dave "on the road" that I needed to do. The next installment should have more angst, action and SMUT!
As usual, please feed the muse with reviews if you can!