It’s not that Dave is terrified of his senior year. He’s not. He can’t be - he’s the captain of the football team now, reigning prom king, guy most likely to succeed by kicking some underclassman’s face in. Being terrified of that would mean he wasn’t in control of it, which he is. Even though Kurt Hummel knows more about Dave than he wants to admit. Even though Santana makes veiled threats about spilling his secret before every pep rally. Even though that goddamn Blaine Warbler kid is transferring in from his gay-ass private school, and Dave will be forced to watch him hold hands with Kurt all year.
None of that matters, though, not if Dave can keep his head down and his dad off his back and his mind from wandering. Football and studying, that’s Dave’s life this year; if he can get a scholarship maybe he can break free of fucking Lima and go somewhere where no one knows all his secrets. Or maybe even go somewhere where he doesn’t have any secrets at all.
It’s a great plan, and Dave manages to walk from class to class his first day without causing so much as a ripple, ignoring Puckerman and his weird girlfriend, sidestepping the kid in the wheelchair, pretending not to notice when Santana saves a spot for him in the cafeteria. He’s feeling pretty great about his plan, actually, by the time football practice rolls around. What he’s not counting on is Coach Beiste pulling him aside three minutes after he walks in the locker room and pointing out a new guy, tall and dark haired, nervous but smiling.
“We’ve got a new guy this year, Karofsky, and I don’t want any trouble for him.”
“Why would there be - “ Dave starts, but she cuts him off with a look.
“He’s an exchange student from Ireland. Doesn’t know the rules of American football as well as soccer, but he can run like the devil. You’re gonna make him feel at home.”
Beiste has been watching him carefully since last year, riding him about his attitude, giving him lectures on ‘leadership qualities’, and Dave sure as hell isn’t going to start this year pissing her off. If this Irish kid needs a babysitter, then Dave will make it work. He just hopes the kid doesn’t mind when Dave spends as little time with him as possible. Maybe someone needs to teach him the ropes off the football field as well, but Dave will leave that up to the do-gooders like Finn and Rachel and Ms. Pillsbury.
The rest of the team is still trickling in, catching up on summer gossip and wandering toward the field as they suit up. Dave walks up to the new kid, not thinking much of anything until the kid pulls his shirt over his head and Dave is face-to-face with miles of pale skin dotted with dark freckles. There’s a scar on the kids left shoulder, and the lines of a tattoo sneaking down his lower back, disappearing under the waistband of his jeans. “Um,” Dave manages, and the kid turns around and smiles at him, the kind of smile that lights up his whole face, all the way to his blue, blue eyes.
“Hi,” he says. Dave’s shaking his hand before he knows what’s happening. “I’m Damian. Are you the captain?”
His accent is thick and his voice is rich and deep and Dave just blinks for a moment at their hands, still clasped together. “Um, hi. Yeah,” he manages. “Dave. Karofsky. Captain this year.”
“Great! Coach said you’d put me through my paces this season.” Dave tries to remember to breath. “I was gutted when Lima didn’t have a football team - a proper football team, mind - but learning new American things is part of why I’m here, right? I’ve been trying to learn up on the telly this summer. Not sure where these go, though,” he says, holding up a pair of shin guards.
“Those go...,” Dave starts, waving vaguely at Damian’s legs.
His face twists into an adorably confused frown. “I tried that, but I must have bollocksed it up. Can you show me?”
Damian is looking at him, eyes wide and smiling, and Dave throws one last desperate glance over his shoulder to Coach’s office. She gives him a smile and a big thumbs up. “Yeah, sure,” Dave says, his throat dry but his palms sweaty, his heart beating so hard he can feel it in his throat. He wonders if this is how Finn feels when he looks at Rachel, or how Kurt feels when he looks at Blaine Warbler. “Just, put your leg - “ he starts, and Damian is a step ahead of him, propping his foot up on the bench between Dave’s legs, foot precariously close to a part of Dave’s anatomy that he’s long-since trained not to take notice of anything in any locker room. But Damian is something new - tall and gorgeous and broad and strong, and Dave thinks this year might not be what he’s bargained for.
Dave’s not terrified of his senior year. He’s got football and homework, dinners with his parents and a brand new library card. But maybe he’s also got away games with hotel rooms, a crash course in Irish footie teams, and whisper-quiet celebrations behind the bleachers after State, warm hands and wet mouths and blue, blue eyes.