Dave’s standing by his locker, trying to decide if he’d rather go to geometry and get some sleep or skip it and make a Micky D’s run, when Santana Lopez leans casually against the locker next to his.
“Okay, Dave,” she says. “Here’s how it’s going to go. I’m bored, you’re available, and my parents are out of town. You give me a ride home after school and I’ll consider giving you a ride in return.”
Dave feels his eyebrows raise because wow, he knew Lopez was direct but this kind of takes the cake.
“Tick tock, jockstrap,” Lopez says in a bored voice.
“Okay, sure,” Dave says. Lopez is smoking hot and if locker room talk is to be believed she definitely knows her way around a pair of boxers. He’s been feeling... weird ever since he kissed - ever since that fairy kid kissed him in the locker room. This could be exactly what he needs.
He gives her a smirking once-over. “Looking forward to it, in fact.”
Lopez tosses her hair. “Well, at least you appreciate the honor of the situation,” she sniffs. “Parking lot, 3:30. Be there or I find someone else.”
Dave is in the parking lot by 3:15. He sits behind Hummel in chem and an hour of staring at the soft skin - at the stupidly girly skin on the back of Hummel’s neck has left him wanting to punch somebody.
Lopez makes him wait until 3:45, which he’s kind of expecting because she seems like the type to try to piss someone off before doing it. He’s glad for the angry hot feeling in his chest - anger is familiar and he knows how to deal with it.
“You’re late,” he says when Lopez finally shows.
“And maybe you can find your own ride home.”
Lopez rolls her eyes. “Please, don’t even. Get in the car.”
Dave scowls but does as he’s told. The petty bickering is irritating, but as long as he lets her play her games they’ll have sex and it will take his mind off of - it’ll fix whatever’s gone weird in his head the last few days. That’s absolutely worth gritting his teeth and shutting up for the afternoon.
Lopez’s house seems pretty nice, although she takes him straight up to her room so he doesn’t get a chance to look around much. She pulls out her desk chair and stands behind it, cocking her hip to one side and giving him a sultry look.
“Have a seat.”
Dave’s okay with that - lapdances can be fun and at least Lopez looks like she’s gotten over her little snit.
He gets a little worried when she handcuffs him to the chair, though.
“Kinky,” he says, trying for appreciative instead of freaked.
“Really not,” Lopez says. “Okay, Karofsky, here’s the deal. There’s not going to be any sex. This is what I’m choosing to call an educational intervention.”
“What?” Dave blurts. The handcuffs rattle against the chair as he tries to pull his hands free. “Cut the crap, Lopez!”
“Hmmm,” She says. “Let me translate this into jock. You sit, you listen.” She reaches behind the bed and pulls out a metal baseball bat, swinging it idly from one hand. “You do that nicely, I don’t break your face. Got it?”
“You’re fucking insane - “
“I also have duct tape, if you’d like to do this silently,” She says coolly.
Dave shuts up.
She smiles and leans against the desk. “Lovely. Now, I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, Kurt is my friend, by which I mean he mostly annoys me in an amusing way. Second, that puts him under my conditional protection, by which I mean I am the only one who gets to torture him. You have been trespassing. Finally, the closet case act is really starting to grate on my nerves, so it’s time for you to get over it. Are we clear?”
Dave feels a spike of fear shoot down his spine. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You know, I had this strange feeling you were going to say that,” Lopez says, and leans over to fiddle with her computer. A moment later she straightens up and walks over to sit on the bed, leaving Dave face-to-face with a YouTube video.
I used to be so afraid in high school, the man on the screen says. I used to be terrified, just all the time. I wasn’t even out and I was still so scared. But you know what? It gets better. It does. You keep going, you get out of high school, and the next thing you know -
This is - this is not okay. Dave doesn’t like this at all. “Lopez - Santana - look, you want me to lay off Hummel? Fine, done, whatever - “
“And yet I don’t believe you,” Lopez says, switching over to a new video. “Now shut up and keep watching.”
I was out in high school. I didn’t really have a choice, most people just assumed I was gay when they met me. And I got a lot of crap for it. I got pushed around, I got anonymous phonecalls, the whole nine yards. And it was really hard, because it wasn’t something I really had a choice about and they still hated me for it, you know? And I did, I did try to kill myself. It really seemed like the only way out, because I couldn’t change who I was and I couldn’t stand everything they were doing to me. But you know what? I’m glad it didn’t work. I survived, and I made it out of high school, and it is so amazingly much better now.
Dave wants to tell her to stop playing the videos - that last kid looked like him, for Christ’s sake, and for some reason he feels like he’s going to be sick - but he can’t quite get his mouth to open in time. Lopez keeps clicking to the next video.
- and it was hard, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done -
- I really didn’t think I would make it, I didn’t even see the point - “
- I was so scared - “
- just completely terrified -
- kept thinking people would just look at me and be able to tell -
Fuck it, he’s totally bawling now. He’d be embarrassed except it kind of feels like he’s having some sort of heart attack, and below that he feels... weird. It’s not anger, he doesn’t really know what it is.
“So, class, what do we think?” Lopez says, crossing her arms and staring him down.
Dave just shakes his head. He can’t put anything into words.
“Hmm. Tell you what - you pick the next one.”
Dave takes a deep breath, pushing back the whatever-it-is enough to speak. “I guess... the one at the bottom. With the pale kid.” Who looks like - who looks - whatever. He had to pick something, and that was it.
She gives him a searching look, then bends down and unlocks one of his hands. “Be my guest.”
For a moment, Dave wavers - with one hand free he has a lot more options. Lopez has the baseball bat, but Dave’s a big guy and he’s faster than people think.
The boy in the video is staring at him, hair parted neatly to one side, frozen in mid-word.
Dave hits play.
- it does get better -
- it gets so much better -
- just hang in there, you’ll make it and you’ll be fine -
- we’re waiting for you and we can’t wait to show you how amazing it is out here -
This is - this is - he’s not a words guy, he’s strictly action so he can’t even describe it to himself. It feels like the hardest practice ever that makes him want to die, but at the same time he knows he’s going to be grateful for it once he gets to the game. It feels like losing a game really badly and being mocked by the other team but knowing that it’s just a game.
It’s not hope, like everyone says in the videos. Dave knows what that is and this isn’t it. But it feels like... it feels like maybe there’s hope for Hummel - for Kurt - at least, because he’s tough enough to face the world down and make it to it gets better no matter what Dave’s done to him.
Dave doesn’t know what that means for him, and even though he thought he was too dehydrated to cry any more he feels himself welling up again. His face must be a mess - he’s been leaking snot and tears like a freshman at a football initiation. “Santana, do you have any tissues?“ He turns to look at her and stops, because she looks like he feels. “Hey, are you crying too?”
She glares at him from the foot of the bed. “Shut up, no I’m not! It’s just pathetic to watch you blubber and it’s making me depressed.” She unlocks his other hand. “Bathroom’s that way, get your own damn tissues.”
His legs feel shaky when he stands, like he’s just run a full set of Beiste’s killer wind sprints. His head really hurts, too, and when he looks at himself in the bathroom mirror his face is blotchy and pale.
He comes back into the bedroom. Santana’s sitting on the foot of the bed, arms crossed tightly across her chest. She looks pretty pissed.
“Look, I think I get what you wanted me to get. I don’t... I’m going to lay off Kurt, okay? He doesn’t have anything to fear from me. I don’t want to make him... I’ll leave him alone.”
“Fine, whatever,” Santana says tightly. “Get out. And if I find out you’re bothering him again I’ll castrate you, got it?”
“I got it,” Dave says, and gets out.
It’s a lot earlier in the evening than Dave expected when he makes it outside. It felt like he’d been in there for days straight, but the world outside is... normal. A little too bright, and it feels weirdly like he’s looking at it tipped sideways, but normal.
He drives home. His mom is in the kitchen.
“Hi, sweetie, how was your day?” She asks, fussing with something in one of the cupboards.
“It was...” Weird. Freaky. I think I might be... I think I don’t know what’s happening any more. “...Fine.”
She straightens up with an armful of dishes and turns to look at him. “Are you feeling okay? You look flushed.”
I’m scared. I want to talk to you. I never want you to find out. “I think I might be coming down with something.”
She reaches over and feels his forehead. “You’re a little warm. Why don’t you go upstairs and lie down, and I’ll bring you some soup in a little bit?”
Mom, I think maybe it’s possible I might maybe be a little bit gay.
“Okay,” Dave says, and goes quietly upstairs.