Kurt couldn't believe what he was seeing. He simply could not process it. Blinking, pinching himself, shaking his head vigorously, and a variety of other cartoony ways of waking oneself up from a bizarre dream had failed to make what he was looking at disappear. And it absolutely had to disappear, because there was no way it could be real. A hallucination brought on by the heat and all the dancing, maybe? An alcohol-induced delusion? Fever dream? Maybe he had fainted. Maybe he had died, and this was Hell. Except he didn't actually believe in a Hell, so…
It took him several songs, but eventually Kurt managed to work through his cognitive dissonance enough to weakly accept the fact that David Karofsky—Neanderthal, puckhead, football jock, former bully, McKinley High's 2011 junior prom king, total closet case—was standing on stage in a gay bar in Cincinnati, Ohio, on drag night…singing.
"I need some air," Kurt said finally to Blaine, who was dancing spastically next to him, caught up in the performance and seemingly unaware that there was anything at all strange about the fact that Dave Karofsky was singing. Okay, that does not get any less weird the more I think it. He tapped Blaine sharply on the shoulder to get his attention. His boyfriend slowed his frenetic movement a little and looked at Kurt from out from under his curly hair, which had been spared the gel helmet treatment for the night and was falling into his eyes slightly. He gave Kurt a dopey, lopsided grin. Great, he thought, Blaine's completely drunk. I should have remembered he was a lightweight. I should have remembered he acts like an idiot when he drinks, too. Well, shit.
"I need some air," he repeated in Blaine's ear. Blaine smiled and nodded, moving to follow him. Kurt stopped him with a hand on his chest—a much more blatant gesture than anything they'd allow themselves at school—and shook his head. "No, you stay. I'll just be a minute!" Blaine nodded and pecked him on the cheek before flying elbows-first back into whatever incomprehensible dance he was doing to a beat apparently only he could hear. Kurt couldn't help but smile, cognitive dissonance be damned. His boyfriend was adorable.
He shoved his way through the crowd of men, grateful for the slight buzz of the alcohol in his brain that kept him from hyperventilating every time an unfamiliar set of hands touched him. He didn't think anyone was necessarily trying to get fresh with him, but it was dark, most of them were probably quite drunk, and it was really crowded. Kurt wasn't used to social situations involving this much casual touching from complete and utter strangers, and without the help of those two truly heinous drinks he'd downed in quick succession shortly after their arrival, he was pretty sure he'd be having some kind of panic attack right about now.
He reached the door and burst through, breathing a sigh of relief as he felt the cool night air on his skin and the incredible sensation—how did he ever take it for granted?—of empty space around his person. He took a few more deep breaths, then tried again to wrap his head around what exactly he had just witnessed.
Dave Karofsky. Singing. Singing really damn well, in a deep, smooth crooner's voice that seemed ill-fitted for the fast-paced dance beat of the song he was singing, but ended up working in a weird, spine-tingling kind of way. Not that it had made Kurt's spine tingle, of course. But he could certainly understand if someone else's spine had done so. Hello brain, please send my train of thought down a track that isn't so creepy.
He supposed he should just be grateful that, despite it being drag night—and how in the world had he convinced himself this was a good idea, again?—Dave wasn't actually dressed as a woman.
Okay, how the hell is that less creepy? He wondered, finding himself caught up on a mental image of Karofsky in a Cheerios uniform. He shook his head vigorously, squeezing his eyes shut and pinching the bridge of his nose. I hate alcohol. I am never drinking again, ever. What is my life?
His brain had no answer for him, just that low buzzing garnered from bad cocktails made with cheap liquor. He really should have looked more closely at the kind of place that Sebastian creep had suggested that he and Blaine sneak off to, but it wasn't like he had anyone he could ask. And strangely enough (sarcasm is less creepy, good brain), gay bars in Ohio didn't do a great deal of online advertising.
Speaking of Blaine…
"Kurrrrrt!" Blaine stumbled through the front door, goofy grin still on his face and looking completely disheveled. His shirt had come un-tucked and his hair had completely escaped all his attempts to flatten it down; it was curling vigorously and falling across his forehead in actual ringlets. He launched himself at Kurt and kissed him, and wow. He had never kissed Kurt quite like that before.
It was messy, and hard, and there wasn't much of the romance or tenderness Kurt usually felt from Blaine's kisses, but…it was incredible. They'd made out before, and this was like that, more than anything else Kurt could recall for reference. Only…it was that feeling, but with added urgency and without the constant fear of someone walking in, someone seeing, someone interrupting. Not to mention a complete lack of Blaine's inhibitions and my insecurities, Kurt half-thought. Most of his brain was occupied with remembering how to breathe through his nose when Blaine was kissing him like that. He pulled away with some difficulty and stared down at his boyfriend, looking gorgeous and completely wrecked, grinning up at him with half-lidded eyes and flushed cheeks. My God.
"Let's go to the car," Blaine slurred in his ear. Without waiting for Kurt to answer, he grabbed his hand and pulled him along across the parking lot towards where his car was parked. Kurt allowed himself to be led, attempting to make sense of why exactly Blaine wanted to leave when they were just having such a good time.
His brain caught up really quickly when, instead of getting into the driver's seat, Blaine opened the door to the back seat and fell inside, pulling Kurt after him and actually giggling as he pressed his lips to Kurt's neck and slid his arms around Kurt's waist. Smiling into his boyfriend's hair, Kurt just closed his eyes and went with it. Everything felt so good. Blaine's lips on him were warm and soft, and they sent bolts of electricity radiating out from every place they touched. He sighed happily. I take it back. This was the best idea we've ever had.
Kurt reached for him, to stop him from leaving…but he was already gone. Blaine had stalked off, angry and drunk, and left him there alone. He shivered, suddenly cold without his boyfriend's body pressed against him. He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat, fighting back tears. Something in the region of his chest ached powerfully, demanding his attention. He tried his best to ignore it.
Kurt jerked his head up, startled, wiping at the tears that had somehow escaped the corners of his eyes to leave tracks down his face. Dave Karofsky was looking down at him, frowning in obvious concern. Kurt let out a pitiful little laugh. Of course, he thought. My knight in shining armor leaves me alone at night, and the monster in the closet finds me.
Except…David hadn't been a monster to him for a long time. And right now he was leaning down, peering into Kurt's face, asking him if he was okay, and holding a hand out to him.
"C'mon," he said gruffly. "Let's get you somewhere warm and get some food and water in you."
Too drunk and miserable to protest, Kurt went meekly with him, slamming Blaine's back door perhaps a bit harder than necessary. Let him wonder what happened to me when he comes back, he thought petulantly through the haze of liquor. Dave led him to a red truck and helped him inside, buckling him in and then going around to get into the driver's seat. Kurt slumped in the seat, shivering, as Dave cranked the truck and turned the heat on full blast.
For several minutes they were both silent. Then, it occurred to Kurt that he had gone off with Dave Karofsky, and that no one knew where he was. He could have panicked, but there seemed to be little point. He hadn't been afraid of Dave in a long time. Still, he wanted to know where he was being taken.
"Where are we going?" he asked in a small voice. Dave glanced over at him and grinned.
"Well, I doubt you like diner food much," he said apologetically, "but that's all that's going to be open this time of night anywhere near Lima. I figured I'd take you to grab some food and water, give you a chance to pull yourself together, and then I can drive you home."
"But, Blaine—" Kurt started to protest.
"Blaine can find his own way home," Dave said, and there was an angry set to his jaw that Kurt wasn't afraid of, but that brooked no further arguments. Kurt wasn't particularly worried about Blaine. He's not stupid, Kurt thought. He won't drive if he's been drinking.
They didn't speak much as Dave drove them back toward Lima. Kurt was already starting to feel a little sick, so he just leaned his head against the cool glass of the window and closed his eyes, breathing through his nose and trying to concentrate on not puking in Dave's truck. After a few minutes he must have dozed off, because before he knew it Dave was opening his door and muttering, "C'mon, Fancy," helping him out and into something called the Dublin Diner. It was small, warmly-lit, and mostly deserted, and Kurt felt himself relaxing in the homey atmosphere. It wasn't nearly the dive he expected when Dave mentioned taking him to a late-night diner.
"This is nice," he sighed as he slid into a booth across from Dave. The other boy just smiled shyly and handed him a menu from the holder.
"Get whatever you want, Kurt," he said. "It's on me."
"Thank you," Kurt said in some surprise. Dave fell to surveying his own menu, but Kurt's curiosity was piqued. He took a moment to really examine the boy across from him.
When he'd seen Dave up on the stage, he'd been too shocked to really take it in. Now, though, he could see that Dave looked older, more mature…more confident. He no longer sat hunched in on himself. His shoulders were squared, his back straight, even just sitting in a random diner with a guy he used to know, perusing a menu. His hair was a little less severely cut, and Kurt wondered how he'd never noticed that it was slightly curly.
"See something you like?" Dave asked drily. Kurt started. Dave looked up from his menu and quirked an eyebrow—an incredibly well-shaped eyebrow, Kurt couldn't help but notice—at him. Kurt blushed.
"Um…I just…you look…good." He realized how that sounded just as soon as he said it, and hurried on. "I mean, not like that, I mean you look better. Not that you looked bad before. Not that I noticed! I just…"
"Yes? Just put me out of my misery, please," Kurt said weakly. Dave chuckled and set the menu aside.
"I know what you mean. I look happier? I am happier." Kurt sighed in relief and smiled tentatively.
"I'm really happy to hear that, David," he said softly. "I have to say I was really worried when you never came back to McKinley this year."
"Yeah," Dave said. "I just didn't want to deal with it anymore. I asked my dad if I could transfer to a different school. He didn't ask why; I guess he figured I didn't want to be reminded of all the crap that happened last year."
"No one could blame you for that," Kurt said. "But…is that why you left?" Dave didn't answer immediately. While Kurt was waiting for him to respond, a lady in a bright yellow uniform bustled up to their table, pen stuck behind her ear and looking tired and frazzled.
"Sorry about the wait, boys," she said briskly. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"I'll take a coffee, black," Dave said. "You, Kurt?"
"I'll take a diet Coke," Kurt said automatically. When the lady had gone, he folded his hands in front of him, fingers twined, and stared at Dave expectantly, waiting for him to continue. Dave sighed.
"It was partly that," he said. "The guys were kinda weird after prom. They kept asking me why I wouldn't just dance with you, and what you and I were talking about before I ran out. I wasn't ready to answer their questions, and they just wouldn't stop asking them. But it was also…I was afraid of doing it all over again. I don't want to be a bully."
Without thinking, Kurt reached across the table and took one of Dave's hands.
"You're not," Kurt said. "You're not a bully, not anymore. You don't ever have to be that person again."
Dave smiled weakly at him. "Thanks, Kurt."
They talked much longer than they meant to. Kurt had never anticipated that he and Dave Karofsky would have so much to talk about, but it seemed they had everything. Dave told Kurt about his new school, and about how he had quit football but was still playing hockey—"football was always more about status than anything for me, but I really love hockey"—and Kurt told Dave about trying out for West Side Story and running for class president—"although somehow I ended up losing the part to my boyfriend, and running against my best friend and my former campaign manager".
Kurt asked Dave about his singing—"you sounded incredible! Why would you hide a gift like that?"—and Dave asked Kurt why he ever quit the football team—"Dude, I saw that game. You were an incredible kicker." Kurt told Dave how Azimio was a member of the West Side Story cast (Dave laughed his head off) and Dave told Kurt about coming out to his parents.
"I was terrified," he said quietly. "I have never been so scared of anything in my life. Even that moment in the principal's office, when Sue asked you what I threatened you about? I opened my mouth to tell them and I thought my heart was just going to stop instead. I was shaking all over, I know I was. My mom thought I was having some sort of fit."
"How did they react?" Kurt breathed, remembering how it had felt when he'd come out to his dad. It had felt exactly the way Dave described it.
"Well," Dave said, "My mom burst into tears. My dad just looked at me for about a minute—scariest fucking sixty seconds ever—and then he kinda sighed. Like he was relieved. 'David,' he said, 'is that what's been going on with you lately?'" Dave huffed a laugh, and Kurt thought it sounded exhausted. "Neither of them cared. My mom felt awful that I thought I had to hide it from them. She kept going on about 'parent-child communication failures.' She reads too many self-help books, but I love her. I'm lucky to have my parents."
Kurt told Dave about Blaine and Sebastian. At the mention of Blaine, Dave stiffened, but he listened to Kurt talk about Blaine's transfer to McKinley, the friction between him and Finn, and the way Sebastian had begun pursuing him recently.
"Yeah, but you and Blaine, you're like…I dunno, salt and pepper shakers, or something," Dave said, not meeting Kurt's eyes. Kurt contemplated him for a moment.
"We are," he said mildly. "But…sometimes I think we're just a little too good to be true. I know the statistics on teenage romance. I know there's almost no way we'll last forever. Especially not if he acts like such a jerk every time he drinks."
"What?" Dave asked.
Kurt recounted the scene in the car: how they'd been making out, and Blaine had tried to take it farther. How Kurt had made him stop, told him he wanted the first time to be special, not some drunken encounter in the back seat of a car…and how Blaine had stormed off, leaving him there.
"Well," Dave said slowly. "I kind of want to smack him for being an idiot and for leaving you there alone and making you cry. But at the same time…I kinda feel for the guy I guess."
"Excuse me?" Kurt said disbelievingly.
"Hey, I'm not defending what he did. That was shitty. But…" Dave paused, suddenly very interested in his plate and looking embarrassed. "Well…let's just say I can kind of get where he's coming from."
"I don't understand."
Dave looked up at him. His cheeks were on fire, but his eyes bored into Kurts, and when he spoke his voice was soft, but his words were clear.
"Being rejected by Kurt Hummel? It's quite an experience."
Now it was Kurt's turn to be fascinated by the plate in front of him.
"We haven't talked about that, ever," Dave said when Kurt didn't look up. "And I can understand why. I just wanted to say I'm sorry for it. Looking back…at the time it was all that I could think of to do. You're really…uh…something, when you're all in a person's face and mad like that, you know? But I probably scared the crap out of you, and I know you didn't want to kiss me. So…I'm sorry."
Something in Kurt's brain shifted, and he realized that he didn't like hearing Dave apologize for the kiss, and he had absolutely no idea how to deal with that.
"I…don't be," Kurt said finally. Dave looked at him incredulously, but Kurt continued resolutely. "Don't be sorry. I'm not. I mean…it got us here, right? I'm happier. You're happier. It all worked out in the end."
Dave just smiled, a little too sadly for Kurt's liking, and took a sip of his coffee before changing the subject.
It wasn't until Kurt noticed that the sky had faded from deep black to dusky navy that it occurred to him to dig his phone from his pocket and check the time.
"Oh my God," he said, horrified. It was almost seven in the morning. "My dad is going to freak out."
"Oh wow," Dave said when Kurt showed him the phone. "I am so sorry. I can't believe we talked that long! I'll take you home right now. You want to check your hair and everything in the bathroom first?"
Kurt looked sharply at him.
"I mean, not that you look bad. I just mean to make sure everything is in place so your dad won't ask awkward questions."
Kurt seemed appeased, and went to check his hair while Dave paid the waitress and left an extra-large tip to compensate for their long stay. When Kurt came back out, he walked him to his truck, let him in the passenger's side door, and walked around to the other side to get into the driver's seat again. The morning was cold and still, darkness falling away faster by the second as the sun rose, and as Dave climbed into his seat, Kurt felt the magic of that night's conversation fading with it. He tried not to think about it. He had really enjoyed Dave's company, and he wasn't sure he liked the idea of the two of them parting ways and not talking anymore. But he didn't quite know how to broach the subject without ruining the rest of their short time together, or making it supremely awkward.
The drive to Kurt's street was mostly taken up with small talk interspersed with Kurt giving Dave the occasional direction. Kurt kept trying to find a way to casually insert an invitation for Dave to keep in touch, but his courage failed him every time. Before he knew it, they were pulling up into Kurt's driveway and Dave had cut the engine.
"Here you are," Dave said. "It was great to talk to you, Kurt. Want me to walk you to your door?"
Kurt just nodded, suddenly not trusting his voice. Dave got out and somehow managed to get around the truck in time to open the door for Kurt and help him out as well. Kurt held onto his arm as he stepped down from the truck, which was set rather high. Once he was firmly on solid ground, however, he didn't drop Dave's arm, and Dave didn't withdraw it. They made their way up the walk and onto the porch, Kurt tucked into Dave's side and his hands kept warm by Dave's body heat. Just before he went inside, Kurt turned to look up at the boy who had rescued him earlier that night, taken care of him, and even made him forget—for a few hours—that he was currently miserable and fighting with his boyfriend.
"Dave," he said, "You're graduating in the spring, right?"
"Actually," Dave said, "I'm graduating in December. My grades weren't great last year, but I did pass everything, and I've been doubling up on my classes since I was a freshman."
"Wow," Kurt said, a bit taken aback. He had known Dave was smart—calculus in his junior year? Seriously?—but he hadn't known he was so…driven.
"So, what are you going to do then?"
"Uh, well…I actually started applying to colleges early last summer. I got into a few of my favorites, and we picked the one with the best financial aid. I'll be starting a couple of semesters early."
"Oh," Kurt said. So Dave wouldn't even be in Lima anymore soon. Well, that makes this easier, I guess, he thought sadly. "Well…I guess this is goodbye, then." He tried to chuckle, to make a joke out of it, but he was strangely unable to muster much more than a weak smile. Dave looked down at him for a long minute, expression unreadable, and then shrugged, and nodded.
"Yeah, I guess so. I'll…well. 'Bye, Kurt." He turned and began walking back to his truck. Kurt, on the other hand, remained frozen in place, watching him go. Just before he got in and drove away, Kurt called out.
"Dave!" Dave looked up at him, and Kurt knew he didn't imagine the spark of hope in his eyes before Dave schooled it back. "Maybe we could keep in touch."
"Oh," Dave said. "Sure. I'll facebook you I guess." He started to get into his truck again, but Kurt wasn't done. There was one more thing he needed to know.
"Hey, before you go," he said. Dave paused, raising an eyebrow at Kurt but waiting. Kurt wasn't sure why he wanted to know so badly, but he did. Needed to.
"Where are you going? To college, I mean." He blurted.
"Oh," Dave said again, looking surprised. "Uh…Union College," he said. "I got a pretty great hockey scholarship there."
"That's great," said Kurt sincerely. Dave smiled, and got in his truck. Kurt waved good-bye, and then he was gone.
After some really uncomfortable explanations to Carole and his dad, a hot shower, his skincare routine, and seventeen ignored missed calls from Blaine—Kurt would talk to him, but later, when he was a little less angry and ready to really talk about it rather than yell—Kurt settled down to his laptop and opened up facebook. He had a notification: a friend request from David Karofsky. He hit "accept" without a single hesitation, and immediately started the time-honored tradition of facebook stalking his new friend.
He scrolled through Dave's pictures first: a picture he and Santana had taken at prom (Kurt noticed she was the only mutual friend they shared), a group photo of Dave and a bunch of other guys in hockey jerseys, a lot of him looking bashfully at the camera at what appeared to be family gatherings, et cetera. Dave looked happy in all of the photos, and Kurt marveled at the difference it made. He found himself grinning from ear to ear as he clicked through the images; Dave's smile was infectious.
Suddenly curious, Kurt clicked over to Dave's info tab and scrolled past all his entertainment interests. And there it was: Interested in Men. His wide smile faded to something smaller, less giddy but more tender, and strangely proud.
From its place on his bed, Kurt's phone began ringing out "Teenage Dream." He ignored it; there was something else he wanted to know. He opened up a new tab, went to Google, and typed in "Union College." At the bottom of the college website, he looked at the address, and felt a happy little flutter in the pit of his stomach that he would spend the next year ignoring, but that would eventually demand his attention.
Union College was in New York.
Author's Note: I think I might be back more often! I'm inspired a lot more often lately, at least, so that bodes well for more updates, even though I really should be working on the 120-page novella I'm supposed to write for a class. But...you guys are just such an appreciative audience compared to my novella classmates! xD Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. It's just something I've had in my head ever since the "Dave in a gay bar" and "Blaine is a junior" debacles. Obviously, I don't hate Blaine, and I really hope he and Kurt have a good relationship and make each other happy...but I also know how it usually works out when you try to bring your high school boyfriend to college with you. So...I kept thinking..."what if Dave is in New York? Or closer to Kurt than Blaine is, and they're on friendly terms?" And this happened. Hope you like it! Gonna sleep now.- The Raisin Girl