AN: Kurt's getting ready to leave for college and trying to find a place for all of the men in his life. Dave's trying to find any place that will have him. Follows the events of Dance with Somebody, mostly AU after that but I will try to work canon in whenever possible.
Also I'm working on a fic called "9 Calls" which fills in the gaps in Dave's story between "Heart" and "On My Way." I'm about 1/3 of the way finished with that. Not sure when you can expect it though, because considering the subject matter, it's extremely difficult for me to write.
Anyway. Here's this.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Kurt has 42 days left of his senior year in high school, and there are moments where he feels no bigger, no more mature than he did 42 days into his freshman year. Everything is piling up into this huge, complicated mess and half the time he just wants to get away from everything and run off to New York where he doesn't have to worry about it anymore and the other half of the time he wants to stay like this forever- frozen in a moment where everyone is starting to realize that their lives are never going to be the same again, and maybe there won't be another time where they're all together, not like they are now, so "I love you"s and "I'll miss you"s are exchanged with practically every "hello" and "goodbye."
And this is all starting before summer hits, before anyone is really getting ready to leave. This time right now is bearable in the most painful way. A reminder that everything was real, they've formed this bond with so many different people and they all love each other even if they didn't always say it.
Kurt's figuring out how to get through all of it. How to see his dad without bursting into tears, how to see Blaine without turning each moment into one of those dreaded "this could be the last time we ever watch project runway together" type of moments.
He's getting burned out so fast.
He's trying to make things work with Blaine the way they worked in the beginning. Blaine is trying to be more attentive and supportive and Kurt is trying to talk about NYADA less, but mostly it feels like they're stuck.
There are moments where guilt starts to set in. He's so focused on his life and trying to save himself from all of these things that are closing in on him that he forgets about someone to whom he made perhaps the most important promise of all. The ways he sees it, it could easily be a matter of life or death.
"You're going to get through this. Because I'm going to help you."
He's texted Dave exactly twice since he saw him in the hospital.
The first message was short: Are you back home? How are you doing?
The response he got only said yes and he wasn't sure what to say to that so he let the subject drop. The yes was clearly an answer to the first question only and as far as Kurt was concerned, the lack of an answer to the second question meant that Dave was not doing OK and didn't want to talk about. And who was Kurt to force him to?
It was so easy for them to say that they were going to be friends when Dave was sitting in a hospital bed with tears in his eyes and on his face. So natural for Kurt to act like this was a cure all for Dave's problems and to reach out and hold his hand like nothing else in the world mattered.
The second time Kurt texted him, he asked if he had gotten enrolled in a new high school. Again, the only answer he got was yes, but this felt like a safer topic so he prodded a little bit and asked what school Dave was going to now. North Lima
Kurt's a pretty big texter normally, especially when talking to one of his girls, but he was intimidated by these one and two word responses to his texts and isn't used to forcing conversations so he assumes that them deciding to be friends was some kind of fluke, and that they were never meant to be anything more than acquaintances.
Kurt is in his room sorting through his sticky notes. Everything is labeled now, but the more he looks at the squares of brightly colored paper, the more he feels tired and overwhelmed. He has sentimental moments where he decides that he really does want things like the certificate the says they failed nationals last year, and moments where he wants to leave everything behind and start fresh because there's no way he's going to be able to chose so starting over seems like almost the easier option.
Finn is out on a date with Rachel, Sam is out trying to win over Mercedes (or win her back, one of the two and Kurt can never keep track), and his dad is in D.C. with Carole.
This isn't uncommon, but sitting in his bedroom alone in Lima makes him feel even lonelier than he ever imagined New York would.
He is spread out on his bed with his eyes closed, ignoring the way that the neon sticky notes prance around his eyelids, when his phone buzzes.
It's probably Blaine. Blaine is stuck with his dad tonight. No doubt one of his dad's attempts to bond with Blaine over manly things and Blaine is just texting Kurt so that he can keep his sanity intact.
But it's not from Blaine.
It's also not from Chandler, who Kurt was actually quite disappointed about losing as a potential friend.
It's from Dave. This is especially important to note because it's the first time that Dave has tried to contact Kurt since those horrible phone calls that Kurt can never forgive himself for not answering.
The text is their longest one yet. Has everyone finally decided to stop acting like they give a shit about me? Because I can't fucking stand pity and I need to know if they're going to decide to spontaneously show up at my door and serenade me about how great life is.
If possible, this makes Kurt feel even worse about everything. The honest answer to Dave's question is yes. Dave got out of the hospital and life at McKinley went on like nothing had happened. Kurt isn't going to write him back and say, Yes, everyone has forgotten about you and we're all too focused on our own problems to try to help you with yours. Or the even worse answer, Yes, no one actually cared about you at all.
He imagines that Dave is desperate for any friend he can get who legitimately cares about him for who he is, but he wouldn't want a friendship forged on people feeling sorry for him and trying to help him so they can go back to pretending that the world isn't some horrible place where stuff like suicide actually exists.
Kurt does care about Dave, he really does. But for as much as Kurt cares about him, he can't figure out what he's supposed to do with him.
So Kurt sends him back another question. Is it better if I say "yes" or "no"?
The response is immediate. To which one the first or the second part
Kurt feels his heart begin to break, because maybe Dave is so desperate that he needs people to pretend to care about him. Maybe no one is willing to put in the actual effort and this is the closest thing he could get.
Kurt's throat feels tight as he reads another message from Dave, one that just says hello? Then his ringtone kicks in and Dave is calling him. Kurt only sees the name for a second before his vision goes blurry and he's blinking back tears and trying to even out his breathing. He's flashing back to all the times that Dave had called him, growing more and more desperate for Kurt to pick up and Kurt had just quietly ignored the call every time. So Kurt imagines that things are bad if Dave is calling him right now. He pictures Dave calling him before with the noose in his hand, and he thinks that maybe Dave is doing that again right now. He has no real proof that either one of those things happened, but his ringtone dies out and he feels like a horrible person.
He's not entirely sure that he's going to be able to talk through the tears clogging his throat, but he calls Dave back anyway, just to be sure that someone is there to answer.
Dave picks up the phone with a quiet, "Hi."
"I was just calling you back. I saw that you called so I'm calling you. I was away from my phone." Good god, he's babbling. And potentially hysterical.
"Oh," is all Dave says. There's silence for a few seconds while Dave clears his throat to add, "Thanks for calling me back."
If Kurt's heart wasn't cracking already for this big, struggling jock, then that unwarranted thanks would've done it for sure.
Kurt wants to tell Dave not to thank him for something as small as a phone call, but they both know that Kurt was guilty of not answering his phone before, so maybe Kurt calling Dave back is a big deal to Dave. Maybe Kurt actually calling Dave is a big deal for Kurt, too.
Neither one of them speak. There's an almost inaudible, uneven breathing in Kurt's ear. Like Dave is crying or trying not to and he doesn't want Kurt to hear.
Kurt should say something profound. He should have some life-altering words for Dave. Mostly he just wants to tell Dave to stop crying because he can't bear to listen to the soft breathing coming out of his phone. But that's neither sympathetic nor helpful.
Dave speaks first: "So everything's back to normal at McKinley?"
He's asking Kurt again if everyone has forgotten about him. Everything's back to normal? Has everyone finally decided to stop acting like they give a shit about me?
The most meaningful thing Kurt can dredge up is "David," whispered on an exhale, more breath than word.
This time Kurt hears it for sure: the hitch in the Dave's breath, the way he has to take a few seconds to gather himself before he can reply. And it doesn't help, not one bit, that Kurt has seen Dave cry twice now and his brain helpfully supplies the image of Dave's face scrunching up and the soft flush of his cheeks. The way that Dave looks at Kurt like he's begging him to make the pain stop.
Dave can no doubt hear that Kurt's crying too. At first Kurt tries to hold the phone away from his mouth so that Dave can't hear, but then he abolishes that plan. Maybe it's better if Dave hears him. Maybe Dave needs to hear that there's someone willing to cry over him.
"At least they're being honest," is what Dave finally comes up with.
"Your friends. They shouldn't have to act like I- like I matter-" Kurt thinks that there might have been more, but Dave couldn't get the words out. Kurt doesn't want to hear more, anyway.
Kurt has been called a bitch before, and not without reason. He values honesty, perhaps a little bit more than he should at times, and he's got no soothing words for this boy who has no one, so maybe honesty is the best thing Kurt can give.
He's going to put an end to this dance that the two of them have been doing.
"I don't know how to be your friend." For the first time since they started talking (or not talking) there's complete silence. Kurt almost thinks that Dave hung up, when—
"I understand." Soft and sincere. Final. Dave understands that Kurt doesn't want to be his friend. Which isn't what Kurt was trying to say at all, and Kurt had to go and open his mouth and now he's made things that much worse. "I'll leave you alone. For real this time."
"No, wait, David don't hang up!"
"Kurt, I get it. You don't owe me anything. Really."
"David, I meant what I said, that I don't know how to be your friend, but I'm going to try. I'm trying to figure out where to start."
"I don't know."
"OK, well, let's see. We could…" And Kurt trails off, trying and failing to make plans for them. Kurt runs on schedules. He can be spontaneous, sure, but when it fits within his predetermined time slot. So it's natural for him to attempt to come up with some elaborate day that he can spend with Dave. Besides, it helps him plan his outfit.
But he's got nothing. He knows practically nothing about Dave, outside of the fact that Dave played Hockey and then Football and for some odd reason Dave was taking calculus as a junior.
That's not true. Kurt's got two more things. He's got butterscotch and an "I think I love you." But neither one of those things is particularly helpful either, and it makes him ache to think about anything that occurred on that awful, awful day.
Dave dredges up a slight chuckle from somewhere. "Kurt, you know we don't have anything in common." He's got an edge to his voice now, a little bit harsh and completely serious. "What, are you trying to plan some sort of Julie Andrews marathon for us? Because if you are, then fuck it. Count me out."
"I wasn't." Really, he wasn't. He's pressured Dave enough about being gay. Come out. Make a difference. What are you so scared of? The last thing he wants to do is force Dave to partake in Kurt's (admittedly) stereotypically gay activities.
Kurt's trying to be done forcing Dave to be someone he's not meant to be.
Kurt wants Dave to stop forcing himself also.
"Yeah, like the idea of gaying out with some type of musical marathon or Lady Gaga dance-a-thon never crossed your mind."
"Stop putting words in my mouth. I'm not trying to make you watch anything that might accidentally give you some culture."
OK, maybe sometimes Kurt can be a little bit pretentious. So sue him.
"Jesus, we can't even get through a five minute conversation without fighting." Or at least one of us crying, Kurt wants to add, but doesn't.
"We've had normal conversations before." It's a lie and they both know it. And instead of the lie helping to ease them into some casual interaction (which they have never had before), it just sits there, heavy and awkward and above all else, a reminder of exactly why they shouldn't be friends.
"Yeah, bullshit. We haven't."
Dave probably still feels like he's dying inside and fuck, Kurt feels responsible. Like he should have known better, because aside from maybe Dave's parents, Kurt knew. Kurt had seen it all first hand. How Dave was so angry and defiant until his anger edged away into complete despair that left him practically sobbing in the hallway for forgiveness. How Mr. Karofsky had brought up Dave's slipping grades. The way that it had looked like Dave would dance with him at prom, until Kurt opened his stupid mouth and turned the moment into some big coming-out ordeal that he knew Dave wasn't ready for.
And finally, Dave's last ditch attempt at being honest with Kurt, telling him that he thought he was in love with him, and Kurt shot him down again. "You just think you love me. You don't really love me."
You don't really love me. In hindsight, wasn't that a horrible thing to say also? At the time it had made Kurt feel marginally better about everything. Tricking himself into believing that Dave didn't know what he was talking about so Dave couldn't actually be in love with him.
Dave had told him that he was trying to be honest for the first time in his life. Who was Kurt to shoot that down? And who was Kurt to ignore nine phone calls from someone who had been showing signs of depression for at least the last year and a half?
They're on phone call number ten and yeah, they're fighting, but they're going to be friends if it's the last thing Kurt does.
Kurt is going to get something right when it comes to Dave.
Fuck schedules. Kurt can be spontaneous. He can work his schedule around that tonight.
"What are you doing right now?"