Chapter 14: Hi
Josh ransacked Kevin's apartment. He read everything; from bills to junk mail. He even read the impersonal birthday wishes from stores that had Kevin's email address. He found a neatly printed copy of all Kevin's passwords, taped to the back of his closet door. Thank God for the anally retentive!
After hours of snooping, Josh had a fairly clear picture of Kevin Lichtner; a 28 year old, single, history teacher from Naco, Arizona. No kids, no siblings. A search on Lichtner in Naco produced death notices for Kevin's parents. He'd been in New York less than 6 months. As far as Josh could tell from his phone bill, he didn't have anyone in Naco that would miss him; no long distance calls. Bad for Kevin, good for Josh. It seemed as if fate had arranged Kevin's life so that Josh could take it over without a problem.
First thing the next morning, Josh shook hands with Kevin's principal, and promptly quit.
Second thing, Josh walked into the nearest convenience store and bought a package of cigarettes. Walking home, it became very clear to Josh that watching TV did not, in fact, prepare him for life in 2012. He found himself stopping every few blocks, ostensibly to look around. Actually, he stopped to take deep breaths and calm down. Josh hadn't been outside in almost 50 years. The sheer number of people crowding the sidewalk made him anxious.
There were no-smoking signs everywhere … and what the fuck was it with tattoos? Almost everyone under 40 had a tattoo on their neck, or arm, or crawling up their leg… and the kids with pink hair, and blue hair, and green hair… girls and guys both. Josh shook his head. It was so not 1957 anymore.
Josh smiled as he opened his package of cigarettes. He flopped down on Kevin's couch, and prepared to enjoy his first taste of smoke in half a century. He lit up, and took a long drag… and curled up in a fit of coughing so painful he thought his lungs were going to come out through his throat. Shit! Kevin, obviously, did not indulge. There wasn't an ashtray in the apartment, of course, so Josh put out his cigarette in the kitchen sink. He stared at the package in his hand, noticing the surgeon general's warning for the first time. Maybe he would quit. All these non-smoking regulations made him feel like a criminal, and cigarettes had gotten ridiculously expensive since 1957. The deciding factor for Josh, though, the thought that made him crumple up the package of cigarettes and throw them out was Kurt. Kurt would have plenty to say, if he ever caught Josh with a real cigarette in his hand. Josh had a lot of plans for Kurt, and none of them included arguing over smoking!
Josh picked up Kevin's cell phone, now his, and thought about calling Kurt's cell. He walked to the gym, and thought about going over to Cheryl's place and asking her for Kurt's address. He thought about hanging around the Imperial Theatre, waiting for Kurt to show up for rehearsals. He thought about 20 different ways that he could see Kurt today or tomorrow…but he was too chicken to try any of them.
What if Kurt was already with someone else? What if he didn't believe him, if he thought that Kevin was a delusional whack-job? What if Kurt didn't like this body?
Kevin looked nothing like Josh had. He was shorter, and his eyes were green, not blue. And his hair! Josh cringed every time he looked in the mirror. What if Kurt didn't like red hair?
No, he couldn't just walk up to Kurt and say, "Hey, surprise!" He had to sneak up on Kurt. He had to get to know him again, in this body.
Josh worked out at the local gym religiously, every day. He took dance classes 3 nights a week. He had to get back in shape if he wanted to get back on the stage. He scoured the on-line trade magazines and journals for any news or gossip about Kurt's show. He worked the night shift at a local sports bar, so that he could go to casting calls during the day.
Kurt walked into the Imperial Theatre, grinning like a fool. This was light years away from the Orpheum! This place had an actual balcony, and real seats, and the floor was carpeted. Kurt slid into a seat, and looked around, seeing the theatre as the audience would. He drank in the box seats, the huge stage, the over-head lights, and the impressive décor.
"Can you believe this?" Jeremy sank into the seat next to Kurt. His co-star whispered, as if he was in church, awe in his voice. They sat there in silence, absorbing the hallowed atmosphere.
Jeremy turned to Kurt, excitement in every line of his body. "Broadway!" He stood and pulled Kurt up with him. He raised his head, and shouted into the echoing ceiling. "It's fucking BROADWAY!"
Rehearsals were tense, the cast was awed and nervous, and there were a lot of new people both on the stage and behind the scenes. The move to a Broadway theatre had brought the show more backers, which meant more money. There were new costumes, new sets, more musicians, and six new dancers.
Standing in the wings with Cheryl, waiting for their call, Kurt noticed one of the new dancers. You couldn't miss him; his red hair was like a beacon. He was good. As Kurt watched, the choreographer clapped his hands. "Better, that was better. Boys, do exactly what Kevin's doing. Girls, this is what I want." The male dancers gathered around the red head.
"Kurt, we've changed the choreography a bit for this number..." The choreographer indicated the three new male dancers. "... to work the new guys into the dance."
Kurt nodded, and the choreographer walked him through the new moves. This dance was an old style Broadway kaleidoscope of dancers, Kurt moving from one male dancer to the next. The dance was a representation of Cole Porter's many lovers. Trying to remember the choreographer's instructions, Kurt glided between dancers. He bent Kevin over one arm, arched over the other man. "That's it, Kurt, hold it a second longer, good." Kevin looked up at Kurt, and grinned, green eyes laughing.
Kurt returned the smile, turned Kevin out of his arms, and moved to the next dancer. Don't be an idiot. Of course, he smiled at you. He's supposed to smile at you. They're all supposed to smile at you. You're the fucking star, for Dior's sake!
Josh was shaking. Calm the fuck down. Don't be an idiot. Kurt doesn't know who the fuck you are. If you run into his dressing room, screaming that you love him, begging him to touch you again, he's going to call the cops and have you committed!
Kurt refused to allow a pair of laughing green eyes to affect his work. He continued to act like the professional he was. He treated Kevin like any other cast member. He didn't seek the other man out, but he didn't ignore him either. He was hyper aware of the red head, followed him in his peripheral vision, watched his every move. The more Kurt surreptitiously stalked Kevin, the more he noticed things about the other man that sent tiny frissons of anxiety along his spine. The way he threw his head back when he laughed, the way his smile tilted down a fraction on the right side of his mouth, the way he walked; Kurt couldn't figure out why so many of Kevin's mannerisms made his skin itch. Dior! He was losing it!
Kurt walked backstage, on his way to his dressing room. Kevin leaned against the wall in the hallway, talking to another dancer. His left arm was crossed over his torso at his waist, his right elbow rested on his left wrist, the right hand raised in the air, as if he was holding a cigarette. Kurt stumbled, and had to catch himself against the wall to keep from falling. Both dancers turned to him, concerned.
"You OK, Kurt?" Kevin moved towards him, but Kurt waved him away. "I'm fine. I'm fine, just clumsy." He smiled at both men, and disappeared into his dressing room.
He leant his forehead against the closed dressing room door, eyes closed, pulse pounding in his ears. Josh! Kevin moved like Josh, and Kurt felt bereft all over again. Josh!
Two weeks later, as Kurt left the theatre, he found Kevin waiting for him by the stage door. He smiled as the other man fell into step beside him. "Going my way?"
Kevin laughed. "Yeah." He slid a sideways glance at Kurt. "I wanted to talk to you."
Kurt waited, but Kevin just kept walking, apparently finding communion with his shoes. Kurt stopped, and Kevin turned to face him. "You've been avoiding me?" It wasn't really a question.
"Yeah, sorry, it's not anything you did. It's just that you remind me of someone."
"Must have been a real dick."
Kurt smiled and shook his head. "No, he was great, actually."
Kevin stared somewhere over Kurt's shoulder, eyes focused inward, obviously working on some internal battle. Kurt had just started to become concerned when Kevin met his eyes. "You're talking about Josh, right?"
Kurt stepped back, his face going impossibly pale. "How do you know about Josh?"
The red head ignored Kurt's question. "You know Josh was good with electronics?"
Kurt had no idea how Kevin knew that. "Yeah?"
"Josh zapped himself into another man's body via the electric current in a defibrillator." Josh waited but Kurt didn't react. He seemed frozen. "Kurt?"
Kurt blinked. "What are you saying?"
"A man died at the brownstone. The paramedics tried to revive him. Josh attached himself to the electric current in the defibrillator, and entered the body." Kevin held Kurt's eyes in a death grip. "When that body recovered, the original owner was dead, and Josh had taken his place." Josh raised his hand to touch Kurt's face, but Kurt knocked his hand away. "Kurt it's me. I took Kevin Lichtner's body."
Kurt's eyes shot shards of fury, his body tense with outrage. "You're a fucking liar!"
"I'm not lying." Josh raised his hands, towards Kurt, palm up. Kurt thought fainting was something that only happened in Regency romances, but the world was spinning around him. He snapped his eyes shut to keep from falling off the earth. "Kurt?"
Kurt took a shaky breath, and forced his eyes open. Kevin smiled; his hands still held out towards Kurt in the pseudo hug that he and Josh had created.
"I was a chorus boy in Cole Porter's Silk Stockings in '55. I fell off a stage, and died in '57. I haunted my friend David's house for almost 50 years. I listen to 99.9 Virgin Radio. I asked you to buy me a Kindle. I teased you about fucking that kid Cole. I'm jealous of your friend Puck. I think your dad is amazing. And I love you."
Kurt didn't notice the tears flowing down his face as he moved his hands into position over Josh's. "Josh?"
Josh nodded. "Please tell me you don't mind the red hair."
Kurt laughed, and wiped his eyes. He stared at Josh/Kevin, dazed and afraid to believe. He put his hand out and touched the former apparition's arm. They both looked down. No flickering. Kurt reached out again, this time gripping Kevin's shoulder tightly. It was all there, just the way it was supposed to be, cloth, muscle, bone, warmth. Kurt tore his eyes away from the miracle of Josh's shoulder, to find Josh watching him, blinking away his own waterworks.
Kurt pulled Josh into his body, molding them together from shoulder to thigh. They wrapped their arms around each other, hands on hips and ass. Kurt nuzzled into Josh's neck, inhaling his scent, and nipping at his skin. He dragged his lips along Josh's jaw, across his face. As he brought their mouths together, he whispered, "I don't mind the red hair."