Rating: M for Mature.

Warnings: Drug use and abuse, graphic male on male sex, prostitution.

Disclaimer: If I owned Glee, I'd be even more of a troll than RIB.

Notes: The last chapter! I hope you've enjoyed (or been horrifically depressed at) this story. Feedback is, as always, much appreciated! :D Thanks for reading!


Eleven

Seven Months Later

Mercedes bursts into tears when she sees him for the first time. She's not the only one that does, but she cries the longest, that's for sure. She also pulls him into a hug so tight that he thinks his ribs might break, but he doesn't mind so much, partly because he's too busy crying as well. The last time he saw her, he was barely a head taller, and now he towers over her. Others, too, look so much smaller than he remembers – Puck had always seemed so much bigger than him but they're nearly at eye-level now. Rachel looks positively tiny when she finally arrives from New York, but that might also be something to do with how much skinnier she is; Kurt suspects it's the result of her attempts to become an actress, which she tells Kurt all about in great detail.

Some of the gang isn't there for the big reunion that Finn calls. Artie's in film school in California or something, and Brittany, to Kurt's delight (and shock) is off on tour with Beyoncé. Still, most of the group live and work in Lima, as Kurt would have suspected. Only Mercedes and Rachel seem to be chasing the New York dream, whilst the others seem contently settled in their lives.

They crowd him and coo over him but the elephant in the room goes completely unmentioned. No one says a word about rehab, even though they obviously know why Kurt didn't see anyone after six months of being discovered alive. Kurt's former career, as far as he's aware, is being kept between him, his dad, Carole and Dave; Kurt would like to keep it that way. Sure, it might be a little dishonest not to tell Mercedes and the others, but the less he's reminded of his previous life, the better.

He's supposed to have a fresh start, to move on from that life and leave everything behind. He isn't allowed to go back to his apartment, though what little he'd had there was hardly worth salvaging. His dad had done it nonetheless, to add further humiliation to the situation, bringing back everything he deemed of worth. Mark had been nowhere to be seen. The police hadn't found anything, either; he'd just disappeared off the face of the earth. By now he'd have a new name and moved his business to a new city. Kurt doesn't particularly care, as long as he's out of his life. He doesn't really think about it all that much, if he's honest. Rehab taught him to put that stuff behind him, and that's what he's trying to do. Every so often something will spark a memory in him and it'll be like a domino effect into intense cravings, but he's slowly learning to live with that. It isn't easy; it's harder than he could have possibly imagined, but he's getting by.

Puck greets him with a grin, smacks him on the back and welcomes him back to the land of the living. He isn't talking about Kurt's return to Lima, he can tell. Later, he pulls him aside, and in a more serious manner than Kurt ever thought Puck capable, lets him know that he was always there if Kurt needs him. It's surprisingly comforting, considering who it's coming from. Sure, Kurt has his sponsor, but it's also nice to hear that someone he can (almost) consider a friend also understands some of what he's been through.

His life is extraordinarily normal now. He spends most of his time in his Dad's garage, where Finn's teaching him all the things his Dad never trusted Kurt with when he was a kid. Finn can't really get around the same way he did before his injuries, and Kurt thinks he's secretly relieved that Kurt's there to take the pressure off of Burt. He's also a lot calmer nowadays, more laid back but somehow wiser than Kurt remembers him. He's gained a sense of maturity that Kurt would have never thought possible for a guy like Finn, and he suspects it's something to do with the discipline he learnt in the army. Heck, Kurt can have an intelligent conversation with him now and that's weird. In a way, he misses the old Finn, the Halo-addicted teenager with a short temper and the tendency to act stupid, but then that Finn was the one who got him into all of that in the first place.

Kurt doesn't blame him. He might have, at one point, and god knows Finn blames himself more than Kurt could ever imagine, but Kurt just doesn't have it him to blame him. A few days after Kurt finally got out of rehab, Finn had appeared at his bedroom door at 10pm and proceeded to hug the living daylights out of him before breaking down into tears. The apology was late, but appreciated.

So, he goes about his mundane life with his family and the garage, and he doesn't talk about the drugs and he doesn't think about Lee and he's left it all behind.

Well, not all of it. There's still Dave.

He's been desperate to see him for months, and he's been able to for almost a month now, since he's been out of rehab. Hell, he's been dying to see him ever since he said goodbye, but he knows he can't and it's driving him mad. The therapists all said he should cut out everything connected to his previous lifestyle, and Dave was at the centre of it in the latter parts. And yet, Dave was the one who brought him out, who rescued him. One little hello can't hurt, right?

Kurt loves him. He knows that much, and he knows that Dave loved him too. Maybe it's been too long to hope for Dave to still have those feelings, but Kurt has to make sure.

It's selfish, he knows that, but a big part of him really wants Dave to take him back. A smaller, more practical part, reminds him of how unhealthy that would be, and a little guilty voice pipes up that he almost got Dave killed and doesn't deserve to be anywhere near him.

The problem is, Kurt isn't sure he knows the difference between addiction and love. Both make him feel amazing, both can be hurtful and both are fucking difficult to let go. A person can cause as much damage as substances can, just with a few words. So why should Kurt be allowed to love Dave, when he can't have coke? It just doesn't make sense to him, on such a base level that whenever he feels happy about anything nowadays, he can't help that little twinge of guilt that accompanies it.

Still…he has to know. He can't just let Dave go without a fight. He's fought so hard for everything, for Dave. Because of Dave, he's here, and he's alive.

Doesn't that mean something?


It takes him three tries to find the house. The GPS brought him to the right road, but none of the houses have numbers on, so he doesn't know where Dave lives. He looks for moving boxes but sees none. The result of his cowardice, he realizes. If he'd come earlier, he'd have been able to tell.

The first door he knocks on opens to reveal an old lady. She looks him up and down; the designer clothing that's just a little too tight, the perfect hair.

"Excuse me, do you know where David Karofsky lives?" That just about does it, the woman flicks her nose up at him and glares.

"And what makes you think I'd help out one of your kind?" She says snottily, and slams the door.

Kurt tries to stop the smile from passing his face, but he fails, even allowing a short laugh out. Her prejudice is delicious, not because she's clearly a homophobic old bat, but because she had seen Kurt as Kurt, the gay guy, the little fag, not Kurt – Lee, the prostitute, the drug addict. He never thought he'd be happy to be a victim of homophobia, but here he is, grinning like a fool.

The next door proves less offensive, if just as fruitless. Kurt catches him just as he's leaving, a suit jacket thrown over his shoulder. The guy simply shrugs and says he works a lot, is barely ever here. He tries calling his wife out, but she's in the shower or something. He mumbles an apology and Kurt thanks him genuinely for his time.

As soon as he gets to the next house, he knows. After all, that's Dave's car in the driveway (his car! Why didn't Kurt think to look for that?)

He walks up to the door with his heart pounding and rings the doorbell. The noise of it startles him and he mentally tells himself to calm the fuck down. There's a shuffling and banging of doors from inside, then a rattle of keys before the door opens and Dave Karofsky stands there in front of him.

"Kurt!" he says, obviously shocked. He's wearing a loose t-shirt and jeans, but Kurt thinks he's never looked better. Maybe that's because this is the first time he's really seen him, unclouded, clear.

"Hi." Kurt chokes out, trying and failing to think of something clever to say.

"I… Oh my God." Dave is staring at him with absolute disbelief. Kurt's not sure why. "You look… You look…" He clears his throat. "Amazing. Wow."

The feeling of blood rushing to his face isn't an alien one when he's around Dave. "Thank you. You too."

Dave tries to look away, but he can't believe the difference in Kurt's appearance. He's put on weight, not enough as far as Dave's concerned, but he no longer has the hollow corpse-like air to his face, and he doesn't quite look like his bones could snap at any given moment. His hair is combed and styled to perfection, shiny and soft like Dave remembers from high school, but pulled back the way Dave had only seen a few times. Not even to mention his clothes; he's a little more conservative than high school Kurt, but Dave's sure whatever he's wearing is in fashion. He wonders briefly if any of Kurt's old clothes would still fit him, but dismisses the idea quickly. Then he realizes he's been gawping like an idiot for too long and gulps loudly. "So, you're out of rehab?" An obvious question; Dave feels like slapping himself for asking, but Kurt responds with a smile.

"Yeah. Five months, but I made it. I still go to a group thing, and I have a sponsor who I call when I have cravings. The rehab is really keen on keeping in touch so I'm going to go to a recovery meeting every month or so, where they get you to talk to people in the clinic and help them." Dave nods through his speech, and then looks embarrassed and clears his throat again.

"Shit, sorry, come in." He spins on his heels, "Didn't mean to start talking in the doorway like that. Can I get you a drink?"

"Sure. Coffee?" Dave nods, "Milk, no sugar unless you have splenda." He says with a hint of a smile.

"I have splenda." Dave admits, a little reluctantly, to Kurt's confusion. Why would Dave be ashamed to have splenda? Unless…unless he only has splenda because he knows Kurt likes it? No, that's ridiculous. Kurt scolds himself for even thinking about it.

"Then one splenda would be fantastic." Dave leads him into the living room and he sits, tentatively, staring around him. "This place is gorgeous." He says, not without a hint of envy.

"My dad helped me with most of the costs. He's way too generous to me." Dave confesses, his voice carrying from the kitchen, "I just hope I can pay him back soon."

"You got a job here?" Kurt asks, genuinely curious. He's also silently judging the decoration in this room and trying very hard not to think about how he'd improve if it he lived here with Dave. It's odd how Kurt only stayed with him a few weeks and yet he felt so at home with Dave and everything Dave owned, as if he'd just settled in effortlessly. It's the opposite of what happened with Finn; Dave hadn't minded the little things Kurt changed when he wasn't moping about, hell, he'd welcomed them. And Kurt didn't feel the need to compromise himself at all with Dave. It's odd, because he remembers Karofsky and he'd never dream of acting that way with the guy he knew in high school. But Dave is…Dave is laid back and calm now, though way too emotional sometimes, but also kind and caring and everything he'd never have suspected.

Dave nods, pouring water into two mugs, and then realizes Kurt can't see him through the wall. "Yeah, a placement at a law firm. Same as before, but higher up. What about you?"

"Working for dad, for now, while I search for acting jobs."

"Acting jobs in Lima?" He walks in with Kurt's coffee and his own, setting the two mugs down on coasters. Kurt smiles gratefully and thanks him, before shrugging in response to his question.

"I know it sounds stupid, but I kind of want to stay here."

"Doesn't sound stupid." Dave says, immediately, with a mirrored shrug. "I mean, sure, it's Lima. But it's not too bad here."

Kurt makes an hmm in agreement, "At least there's no…" and then he trails off, as if suddenly wary of what he was saying, and stares anywhere but Dave, his face paling slightly.

"Bright lights and paying customers?" Dave asks, quietly. It seems far too quiet all of a sudden. The elephant in the room that both of them were trying to ignore starts stomping around.

"Yeah. Especially the paying customers part." Kurt echoes his own words from what seems like so long ago. He thinks about where he was the last time he said it, who he was. Everything about him feels different now, like he's a whole new person, but there's one thing that hasn't changed in the slightest, and that's what scares him more than anything.

They fall into a tense silence, but Dave breaks it quickly, trying to avoid awkwardness. "So, how're things with the family?"

"Weird. I mean, it's great seeing them but it's been six years, you know? And it's not like I ever had much in common with my dad before I left. It just seems so much more obvious now that I'm not a kid. He suggested getting me an apartment since according to my therapist, living the same way I did when I was sixteen isn't the best idea. But, I don't know, dad doesn't seem to want to leave me on my own…I'm rambling, aren't I?" He breaks off with a smile, and Dave lets out a chuckle.

"A little bit, yeah. But it's nice. I mean, I've kind of missed you… is it okay to say that?" He leans back on his hands and surveys as Kurt's eyes widen a tad. Kurt lets out a sigh, like he's relieved for some reason, and stares at Dave with such a look of utter joy that Dave feels his breath catch in that absurdly sappy way.

"I've kind of missed you too. God, Dave, I've missed you so much, you can't even imagine. I… I really wanted to contact you but they said it was a bad idea. And after what I said…" He gives a low laugh, "I spent almost as much time craving you as the fucking drugs." The swearing doesn't suit the new Kurt; it sounds foreign, like someone else is speaking for him. It's a glimpse back into Lee, but Dave supposes that's what happens when you spend so much time as someone else; you can't just change at a snap of the fingers. Lee is a part of Kurt now, maybe not a part he wants to remember, but a part nonetheless.

"You can't know how sorry I am for pushing you away like that. I just…I was so fucking scared, Dave! You got stabbed and it was all my fault, and I just couldn't bear the idea of you dying because of me!" His voice slowly gets higher and higher, "I know I was stupid to say we shouldn't see each other and…god, I understand if you want nothing to do with me but I just…" he's babbling and he knows it, but he has to get it off his chest while he still can. "I just wanted to make things right."

There's silence for a moment, whilst Kurt flushes red and stares into his mug, and Dave's eyes stay fixed on him. Eventually, Dave clears his throat, and tries to think of something to say, but falls short. There are so many things he wants to tell Kurt but somehow he can't find the words right now. "The prices are horrendous at the moment."

"Sorry?" Kurt's face changes in an instant to confusion.

"Uh, house prices. You said you were thinking of getting an apartment." Dave says, as if he hadn't even heard Kurt's speech. "But…I mean, with your dad already having Finn living with him, I don't know if he'd be able to…sorry, I shouldn't interfere."

"No, it's not…I mean, you're right." Kurt sounds as bewildered as he looks, staring at Dave like maybe he'd just had a psychotic breakdown. But maybe Dave has a point with this, so he continues with the strange small talk. "There's no way I'm going to be able to help him, either. I suppose I'll just stay at home for now, until I find work." He fiddles with the handle on the coffee mug nervously, then brings it to his lips and blows on it. Dave's eyes follow the action, then dart away.

It takes three sips of coffee for Kurt to realize they both have mugs. Actual porcelain mugs. "You bought crockery?" he asks, trying to sound mocking but somehow just coming across curious. Dave looks a little shocked, and there's an unmistakable blush on his cheeks. "Expecting guests?"

"Just the one." Dave replies, nervously. His stomach feels suddenly unsettled as he avoids Kurt's gaze. "Only, I was kind of hoping he'd stay."

"Stay?" Kurt quirks an eyebrow and gives a teasing smirk. "That's a little presumptuous, isn't it? This isn't even a date."

But this isn't time for jokes. This is the moment where Dave needs to make it very clear what he actually wants, so that there's no further confusion, "No, I meant…Kurt, stay here with me. Don't get an apartment."

Kurt breathes in a little too suddenly and chokes on air. As he recovers and flicks his hair apprehensively, he can feel his heart beating far too fast in his chest. He stares at Dave to try and work out if he's serious, if he's really suggesting what Kurt thinks, and he realizes Dave's completely sincere. He honestly wants him to stay…for good? "But…are you sure? I mean, after everything, you want to live with me?"

"Yeah. If you want to. Not right away, of course, you probably want to be with your family and all, but…I mean, we can go out for dinner? And do the whole dating thing? It's the wrong order and all, but it's not like we've done things conventionally so far." It's a rush of questions and hopes and Kurt feels so happy he might burst into tears at any minute, "I know it's kind of late for it, but I want a new start, you know?"

Kurt knows. And he wants it too, wants to feel the rush of a first date, getting to know Dave all over again, without the haze of a high hanging over him. He wants to learn about Dave's job, his interests, the kind of thing they never really got round to talking about. He wants to be with Dave, romantically, to give himself over fully to Dave in a way that he never could when he was a junkie. He wants a relationship, something stable in his life. That can't be unhealthy, can it?

"A fresh start." Kurt repeats, trying to hold back tears, and sound vaguely collected, "I'm definitely up for that. We can start anew and all that. And dinner sounds great. When do you want to do it?"

"Tonight?" Dave tries not to sound too eager and fails. "Or whenever." he adds afterwards, but Kurt just chuckles at his attempts to be suave. He leans over slowly, cautiously, and presses onto Dave's lips in a soft, closed-mouth kiss.

"Meet me at Breadstix at seven?" Kurt says when they pull apart, his fingers brushing Dave's shoulder in small circles. Dave can only nod and watch as Kurt hops to his feet and starts to leave.

A few minutes later, Dave finds himself wondering if Kurt actually needed to go, or if he was just being dramatic. After all, he didn't even finish his coffee.


When Dave arrives at Breadstix at 6:56, Kurt is sat in the waiting area, clutching a dark soft drink of some sort. He sees Dave and his eyes flick upwards, a sneaky smile playing on his lips.

"Mr. Karofsky?" He asks innocently, those wide eyes beckoning Dave into something. It sounds familiar, and then Kurt recognizes the tone. The last time he'd used it, he'd said Mr. Adams, though. Dave catches his drift far too quickly to be considered normal, and leans on one hip, smirking.

"I'm your guy." He echoes their first conversation like Kurt is prompting, and he knows he got it correct because Kurt's mouth twitches into a broader smile.

"Is that right? Well, then, I guess it's time for you to wine and dine me. Though no alcohol for me, I'm not allowed." He waves his drink and Dave chuckles lightly, drawing closer and inhaling nervously before leaning down and kissing Kurt gently on the lips. When he pulls back, Kurt is bright red and beaming in that adorable way of his.

Dave clears his throat, forgetting that they'd been in the middle of their little routine. "So, uh, what do I call you?" he asks, trying to remember if that's actually what he asked him the first time he met Lee.

A stifled laugh, "You can call me whatever you want, big boy." Kurt wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.

"What about Kurt?" Dave questions softly, settling beside Kurt and leaning into his side. Kurt slides his hand over and grasps Dave's, resting his head on Dave's shoulder. A few people are beginning to stare, but neither of them gives a damn.

"Kurt is fine." Kurt says, his voice a little choked, but full of amusement. He squeezes Dave's hand hard and kisses his cheek, "Kurt is wonderful."