Disclaimer: Glee is the sole property of Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk.
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Karofsky. Dave Karofsky, closet case and former bully at William McKinley High School, was the Bachelor? Kurt felt as though his lungs were quickly deflating. How was this even possible? Up until the end of senior year, Dave didn't so much as toe the line of the hypothetical closet he built for himself and Kurt was inclined to believe that Dave was destined to stay that way the rest of his life—too afraid to come out and make a difference.
Kurt hoped that the PFLAG meetings, that he forced Dave to attend as one of his stipulations for his return to WMHS, would help him see how much more accepting the world could be outside of their high school—outside of Lima, Ohio. But as it turned out, Kurt was right about their high school being not as accepting and seemed to forget where they lived, in the simple minded town of Lima, Ohio. As a result, there were only five members of the club: Dave, Kurt himself, Blaine (on the rare occasion that the Warblers didn't have practice and that Blaine and assured him that it was no trouble to drive three hours from Westerville to support Kurt and their cause) and, much to his surprise, Santana and Brittany. When Santana showed up at their first meeting, he assumed that, perhaps somewhere along the Bully Whips and the fiasco at their Junior Prom, she and Dave became friends. Kurt knew they went to Prom together only because Santana wanted to beat the Miss Queen Bee, Quinn Fabray, at being crowned Prom royalty, and that having a jock boyfriend was the only way to go about it. Kurt never suspected that Santana was the only other person besides him and Blaine to know Dave's true sexual preference.
He was wrong.
Santana was not there to support her boyfriend (even though, Kurt had to admit, they did seem to have formed an odd friendship, and not to mention the fact that they bickered like an old married couple) but was coerced there at the price of "sweet lady kisses" by her true love, Brittany S. Pierce.
Despite there being only four members of the club, Kurt couldn't say that it was a dud. That very year of the club's initiation, both Santana and Brittany came to the school. And it wasn't as though they made a grand spectacle of it either. They simply just continued to walk each other to class with their pinkies curled around each other, much like they always had. Only now, they would seal their goodbyes to each other with chaste kisses, disinterested in what the passing students thought of them—as long as they had each other. And having the support from the Glee Club didn't hurt either.
Kurt hoped, after seeing "Brittana's" leap of faith, that Dave could take a leaf out of their book. Sure, Dave had reached the point where he was able to accept himself, but Kurt had anticipated that, at least by the end of that year, Dave would find the courage to come out to his parents. But apparently, Dave wasn't ready for that step.
So senior year came and went. Kurt and his stepbrother had both been accepted by their colleges of choice. Kurt, wanting to stay close to his dad, chose the University of Cincinnati. He knew he could trust Carole to watch what food he ate and to be there for him in case he had a health scare like the one he had during Kurt's sophomore year. And besides, what did it matter if he earned his Performing Arts Degree in Ohio or New York?
Finn, on the other hand, was accepted into Ohio State University on a full ride football scholarship and if that wasn't a surprise in itself, he decided that he wanted to major in Business so that way, with the okay from Burt, they could work on expanding the family business across Ohio.
But before they all went their separate ways Kurt had to learn from Finn that Dave, too, received a football scholarship; but not to anywhere in Ohio, though, but to UCLA.
Kurt was shocked and slightly hurt that Dave hadn't told him himself. They might not have been the best of friends, but Kurt thought that he would at least want to share with him his good news. Had he built up all of this in his head? Even the year prior to starting PFLAG, when Dave apologized to him, he felt as though something had changed, that something wonderful could come of this situation they were in. Kurt saw the glimmer of hope in Dave's eyes that day he forgave him for all that he had done. But hope for what? To be accepted? If acceptance was what Dave wanted, he knew the perfect place for that. Kurt remembered the day Dave joined in on the halftime show during their Championship game. He was really good. And that might have been the first time he saw him genuinely happy without having to cause any physical harm. Kurt brought up countless times as they were setting up for their PFLAG meetings that Dave should consider joining the Glee Club, only to have each of his requests had been shot down. So what was that look in Dave's eyes that he saw that day?
Suddenly, a sound broke through Kurt's thoughts causing him to come back to the present and realize—from the cold, the pins-and-needles sensation in his frozen cheeks and not to mention the man that was standing before him—just where he was.
Kurt quickly shut his gaping mouth, realizing how stupid he must look, and realized that he had yet to say anything ever since Dave let his identity be known. Kurt just couldn't believe his eyes—no way was this the same Dave Karofsky that he knew in high school. Kurt hadn't seen or heard from him in eight years.
But that didn't mean he didn't wonder about him from time to time.
Dave was chuckling, a deep, wonderfully rich sound that, for whatever reason, reminded Kurt of something cozy, like hot cocoa, or the heat that seems to seep into your very bones when sitting in front of a toasty fire place. He could help but wonder, in the off chance that there was a talented bone in that brawny body, that he could be a baritone if he were to sing.
Shaking his head to clear himself of these sudden unwarranted thoughts, Kurt saw that Dave was still in his little fit of laughter, shaking his head as if he had been the subject of a practical joke. But this was a joke, right? Any minute now, one of the producers would pop out from behind one of the trees yelling "Gotcha!" and would want to wrap this set up because they were wasting precious film.
Dave licked his lips, obviously at a loss of what to say, but then he came to the conclusion that Kurt was no more likely to break the awkward silence that was mingling in the night air than he was. Dave then cleared his throat and did what was the gentlemanly thing to do.
"You uh… Huh," Dave let out a small huff, as if his amusement still wasn't out of his system, or his voice for that matter.
"You look great, Kurt," he said, trying again. He bit his bottom lip and looked down at him as he slid his hands into his pants pockets. He blinked a couple times, and he gave Kurt a soft smile, still gnawing on his thin lip.
As Kurt stared blankly at the taller man's face, he noticed how serene his features were when he wasn't frowning like he was used to seeing him in high school. He never once noticed how long his eyelashes were when his customarily furrowed brows were hiding them from view.
"You're…" Kurt had to pause, coughing in order to clear the lump in his throat. Like Dave, he seemed to have temporarily lost the use of his vocal cords. He was certain that it was the temperature that was affecting his ability to speak and nothing else.
"You're wearing Valentino," he iterated softly. Dave's eyebrows did gather together momentarily at Kurt's offhanded remark before his features relaxed once more. He broke out into a hearty laugh as he unconsciously opened one of the flaps to his open jacket, looking down as if he was seeing the expensive clothing for the first time as well.
"Yeah, I guess I am." He looked up, or rather down at Kurt. Either way, it looked as though he was peeking at him through his long, brown eyelashes that Kurt was quickly becoming fascinated with. "You always had a good eye for that kind of thing, huh?" Even though Dave ended the statement with an upward inflection, Kurt couldn't help but think that Dave was throwing this observation out as a compliment.
"Well, I'm not gonna lie," Dave continued. "It was… Provided. I can't even remember the last time I wore a tux."
"Oh…" Kurt uttered. It might have been that Dave wasn't able to recall the last time he wore a tux, but Kurt could remember the last time he saw Dave wearing a tux. And, if his memory him right, it was the same night that Kurt's garment of choice was a kilt.
"Well, um…" Dave stuttered as his cheeks seemed to go a shade darker. Kurt couldn't help but wonder if he was revisiting the same memory as Kurt—the night of their junior prom.
'It's just because he has been out in this cold longer than I have,' Kurt assured himself.
"You should probably get inside before you freeze to death. God knows I'll be a popsicle by the time I'm done here." Dave smiled shyly as he scratched the back of his neck underneath the white collar of his undershirt.
"Inside…? Oh! Right! I… Forgot," Kurt finished lamely. He seemed to have disregarded the fact that Dave still had to meet the rest of the guys who were waiting in the limo.
"Yeah, I think I can see Mr. Producer giving me the signal," Dave said in a murmur, perhaps so the microphone he was wearing couldn't pick up on what was being said or so only Kurt could hear him. Kurt turned around and sure enough he could see "Mr. Producer," as Dave called him, making a slicing gesture across his neck.
Kurt couldn't help the giggle that bubbled past his lips as he turned back to face his former tormentor once more.
"But hey! I'll talk to you inside, okay? So we can catch up?" Dave suggested almost as if Kurt would decline. Like he came all the way to California, lied to his family about his whereabouts and now that he saw that the Bachelor was Dave Karofsky, he was going to get the next flight home. But he didn't care who the Bachelor was period, he reminded himself. He was here for a career opportunity, nothing more.
"Yeah," Kurt said a little too breathlessly as he returned Dave's honest-to-God smile. Kurt habitually brushed a stiff bang from his forehead. "Yeah, that would be great."
And just as Kurt was about to turn around and walk up the pathway leading into the villa, Dave stopped him with a large, warm hand gently gripping his elbow.
"Kurt, wait a second," Dave said. His face had seemed to have lost all the previous signs of laughter and happiness and was now etched with worry. Kurt's eyes widened momentarily as he looked down at the hand on his arm, and then looked up to match Dave's gaze. He must have taken Kurt's surprise the wrong way, however, causing him to quickly let go. Kurt watched him expectantly, his perfectly manicured eyebrows raised as Dave's mouth opened and closed in succession, as if trying to find the words he was looking for.
"You, um... You weren't expecting to see anyone else here, were you? I mean... I know you weren't expecting me, obviously, but um... Crap, I don't know how to say this without..." Dave paused to laugh nervously, raking his hand through his curly hair. "You know what, why don't you go inside? Just... Try not to freak out, because I think you'll see what I'm trying to say."
Kurt frowned, now more confused than ever. Seeing Dave Karofsky after eight years was a huge surprise in itself. If there was something else Dave wasn't telling him, so help him, because there is only a certain amount of surprises Kurt could take in one night.
"Yeah, I'm going to go inside now," Kurt said, giving him a wry smile as he jabbed his thumb over his shoulder, motioning to the colossal house behind him. "It's getting kind of chilly."
"Yeah... I'll see you in there, alright?"
"Of course," Kurt turned around once more, but much more slowly this time. If he was expecting Dave to call him back again, he was right.
Kurt turned around on the spot for the second time, feigning an annoyed sigh as he did so. The twitching of his lips as he tried to keep the amused smile off his face let Dave know it was only in jest.
"Yes?" Kurt asked, inclining his head expectantly.
Kurt watched Dave's Adam's Apple bob past his collar as he swallowed thickly.
"It's really good to see you," he said rather simply.
Kurt's smile melted away as the atmosphere felt suddenly much more serious than only a few moments ago. Rather than looking at him, Kurt felt as though Dave was looking through him. Shouldn't it be Dave who is supposed to feel uncomfortable under his gaze? After all, Kurt is the one person here that knew what kind of person he is. He could walk inside and tell any of the other contestants of Dave's past, and how he treated Kurt while in high school. So why was he was looking at him with his eyes glazed over, with that anguished look on his face?
Kurt wasn't sure what to say in response to that. Sure, he was happy to see Dave and that he was well and to see that he eventually came to terms with being gay and that his life didn't take a dark turn. But was he happy to see that Dave was the Bachelor? He couldn't say for sure. Kurt thought about the kiss in the locker room from their junior year. It had been quite some time since he revisited that particular memory, but it wasn't something he would forget anytime soon. There were moments in high school that Kurt was inclined to believe that that kiss he received from Dave had been somewhere other than a place of confusion or turmoil. That maybe Dave Karofsky... Liked him? But then he and Dave had countless PFLAG meeting together and nothing had been discussed and hell... Dave went on to graduate and go off to college in California without so much as a goodbye. No. There was no way that that kiss meant anything. To either of them.
Kurt didn't say anything to Dave, but instead regarded him thoughtfully. Eight years was a long time. Dave didn't care about him. Kurt was only a vague thought within Dave's memories. It was easy enough for Dave to push him aside when it came to accomplishing his dreams. And he was able to move halfway across the United States and graduate from one of the best colleges to do so. There were nineteen eligible Bachelor's in this house, excluding him, and by the end, Dave will find the man of his dreams. He and Dave would both get out of this scenario unscathed, both getting what they want in the process.
Kurt nodded slightly and turned around for the final time. Dave didn't stop him as he went into the house. But Kurt couldn't shake the feeling of a pair of eyes burning into his neck as he walked into the house. He tried to convince himself that it was the producer, giving him a death glare for taking up so much time, but failed to convince himself. Kurt knew that only Dave would be able to see him once he was past the fountain that was situated halfway down the path.
Kurt walked under the high archway leading to the house. The house was gorgeous, like something that should be found in a vineyard in Tuscany, but he supposed Los Angeles could be a suitable place for it as well. From the high vaulted ceiling hung a wrought iron chandelier which was attached to a window from above. The window itself had an almost oriental design covering it, vaguely revealing the twinkling stars in the sky above. Below the chandelier in the entry hall was the beautiful staircase leading to the second floor that. The fact that the staircase disappeared behind a wall added to the mysteriousness of the house. The steps to the stairs itself were covered with a terracotta-colored tile, and lining the wall of the tucked-away staircase were beautiful red and orange, glass-blown, conch wall lamps that gave the dimly-lit house a fiery, ethereal glow. As he made his way through the hall he could hear voices coming from the room next door, and his expensive dress shoes clicked on the ornate stone floor as he made his way through the second grand archway.
Kurt smoothed his front as he made his way into the cocktail room. More than half the men were already inside, drinking from champagne flutes and martini glasses. Kurt wasn't surprised to see that, as he walked into the room, all the heads turned in his direction. Kurt wasn't so sure if the producers of this show thought this idea over well enough. Twenty gay men… In one house together? Was this really going to go down as well as they planned?
Kurt sucked in a breath as he gave his best simpering smile to a few of the guys that were sitting on the couch as he sauntered past, making his way to the table in the back where the drinks sat. The three drinks he had on the way to the house had already worn off, and the nervous feeling in his gut was steadily returning since seeing Dave. And if he was going to make it through a couple of hours of forced mingling and a rose ceremony, it was best that he did it with alcohol in his system, preferably constituting the blood in his veins.
As Kurt reached out to pinch the stem of a martini glass, complete with a green olive perched on the rim with a toothpick, a cheerful, tinkling voice rang out, thus hindering him from his task at hand: Inebriation in the quickest way possible.
Kurt felt a hand on his shoulder before he actually felt the presence of the person standing next to him. Kurt wondered with amusement if it was Dave again, but even he knew that that large man's voice wasn't that jovial, even despite the fact that he was happy to see Kurt after all these years. Kurt turned his head in confusion and let out a little gasp as he was met with a pair of dark, mahogany eyes nestled below a pair of thick, and rather triangular eyebrows.
Before he could begin to realize what was happening, Kurt found his arms wrapped tightly around the other man.
'So this was what Dave was trying to tell me,' Kurt thought to himself as he laughed out loud.
"Oh my God!" Kurt cried happily as a single name slipped past his lips.
Some Author's Notes:
I hope nobody is bothered by the amount of description in the story so far. I feel it is important to know what has happened to Dave and Kurt since graduation.
I know in the first chapter I said that Kurt lived in Columbus, but he didn't go to school in Columbus. It may seem strange that he would move from Cincinnati to Columbus for a job, but it was completely intentional. After all, in this economy, people move to different states for better jobs. I don't think cities is that much of a stretch.