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Fidelity

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Blaine’s been in Cincinnati for a few days, staying with his aunt after the surgery, when he receives a text from Puck.

Puck: You better come back soon. Mr. Schue brought in this guest teacher today to show us how to get our Latin spirit on, and your boy is totally eye-fucking him.
Puck: Which I have to admit, I would too if I was gay, because this guy is almost as hot as I am.

Before Blaine’s even done reading the second message, his phone buzzes with another incoming text.

Kurt: We have a special guest in glee today.

Blaine: Yes, Puck just told me. He said that he’s quite the looker.

Kurt: He did? Well, you be the judge.
Kurt:

Blaine: Holy crap.

Kurt: You think that’s something. Wait till you see him without his jacket.
Kurt:

Kurt: And then he did this.
Kurt:

Blaine: Oh my god I’d like to see him do that for you.

Kurt: Blaine! Are you sexting me?

Blaine: You bet I am.
Blaine: Call me when you get home and I’ll tell you what else I want him to do for you.

Kurt: I am scandalized.

Blaine: You are not.
Blaine: And you’re going to call me, right?

Kurt: God I miss you.
Kurt: By which I mean yes.

* * *

The upside of Blaine being away in Cincinnati is that they’ve now discovered phone sex. The downside is – well, pretty much everything else.

Valentine’s Day is in less than a week, and there are decorations all over McKinley, and the boosters club is selling carnations, and Kurt would buy a dozen for Blaine, but he doesn’t even know when his boyfriend is going to be back. He sent him roses in Cincinnati on the day of the surgery, and Blaine audibly squealed about them over the phone, but it’s still not the same as watching Blaine blush and lower his eyelashes as he bends his face into the bouquet and takes a long, delighted breath in.

“I miss you,” Kurt says petulantly on the phone that night as they finish their bedtime ablutions.

Blaine sighs. “I miss you, too, Kurt. You have no idea how much.”

“Oh, I have some idea.” Kurt pats the last of his moisturizer on. “So you definitely won’t be back this weekend?”

“No,” Blaine says. “I have another follow-up appointment and no one can drive me down to Lima and back before then. And I can’t drive myself.”

Kurt pulls off his hair band and flings it down on the vanity. “I’m never going to forgive Finn for trying to change the oil in the Navigator.”

“He really did a number on it, didn’t he?”

“Windshield washing fluid and engines don’t mix,” Kurt grumbles. “Dad thinks he can fix it, but he won’t be able to have a look at it until after he gets back from D.C. tomorrow – and I kind of doubt that’s how he wants to spend his Friday night.” Kurt scoots his chair back from the vanity and stands up. “I really wish there was a way I could see you this weekend.”

“Me, too,” Blaine says. “But we’ll talk on the phone, and maybe we can do a little more than talk –”

Kurt blushes. “I suppose it’s good practice for next year.”

“Being apart, or more-than-talking on the phone?” Blaine says coyly.

“Both.” Kurt flops onto his bed. “But I wish we didn’t have to practice.”

Blaine hums. “I like practicing with you. Well, the sexy kind, anyway.”

Kurt ignores him. Blaine is obviously trying to cheer him up, and Kurt doesn’t want to be cheered up right now. He wants to wallow.  “But Scandals is having sing-along Moulin Rouge! this weekend, and we were going to go, and now I’m going to have to sit at home on Saturday night fighting over the remote control with Finn.”

Blaine’s silent for a moment. “Why don’t you ask Dave if he wants to go?”

Kurt twists the hem of his pajama top around his index finger. “It wouldn’t be the same. Anyway, I doubt Moulin Rouge! is his kind of movie.”

“How do you know? Has he ever told you what his kind of movie is?”

Kurt wracks his brain, but the only titles he can come up with are Pride and Prejudice and Good Will Hunting. “Um, I guess I don’t. But I kind of always figured he’d go more for those blow-’em-up movies that Finn likes.”

“Well, maybe he goes for Moulin Rouge!, too. You could ask.”

“You don’t think that would be … weird?”

“What would be weird about it?”

Kurt hugs his knees to his chest. “Us going to Scandals without you. It might … feel weird.”

“Just because something feels weird doesn’t mean it’s bad. Personally, I think you should go. Santana texted me today that you’ve been moping around at school.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I think she’s developing a soft spot for you.”

Kurt chuckles. “She probably just wants to start a gay mafia.”

“Well, it made me sad, anyway, to think about you being sad. I want you to be happy, Kurt.”

Kurt sighs. “I know. I just … it’s hard, being away from you.”

“It’s hard being away from you, too. So how about we both do something to cheer ourselves up? You and Dave go to sing-along Moulin Rouge! on Saturday, and I’ll watch it here. It’ll be like we’re watching it together.”

“You won’t just get jealous that we’re at Scandals looking at Ewan McGregor, and you’re all by yourself?”

“No,” Blaine says quietly. “Because as soon as ‘Come What May’ starts, I’ll feel you right here with me.”

“You really are the most romantic boyfriend ever, sweetheart.”

“I’m your only boyfriend ever,” Blaine says, but Kurt can hear how pleased he is by the sing-song of his voice.

*

After getting off the phone with Blaine that night, Kurt enters a text to Dave, erases it, rewrites it, erases that one, and rewrites it again. The message that Kurt finally deems not-too-weird and worthy of sending is:

Kurt: Hey! Blaine thought you would want to go sing-along Moulin Rouge! at S on Saturday night.

Dave: Is he going to be back on Saturday? That’s awesome! Sure, I’d love to.
Dave: That’s a movie, right?

Kurt resists the temptation to ask Dave what rock he’s been living under his entire life.

Kurt: Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause confusion. Blaine won’t be back yet. And yes, it’s a movie. With Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman and dancing hos and tragedy and comedy and spectacular spectacular-ness.

Dave: That’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, right?

Kurt: Yes.

Dave: Oh. I like Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Kurt: Like or *like*?

Dave: That’s between me and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Kurt: Be that way. I’m pretty sure I can guess.
Kurt: Anyway, think about it and let me know.

Dave: I thought I already said yes?

Kurt: Oh. Blaine not being there doesn’t change your mind?

Dave: No. You had me at Obi-Wan Kenobi.

* * *

Actually, Kurt had him at “hey,” but Dave’s not going to say that.

* * *

Friday’s a good day for Blaine. He gets to remove his eye-patch, and even though he has to put this antibiotic in his eye that’s as thick as Vaseline and makes him see everything blurry, it’s progress. He’s another step closer to going back home.

“I’m so glad you’re going to see Moulin Rouge! with Kurt tomorrow. You are going to have the most awesome time,” Blaine says on the phone that night to Dave. He’s sitting on the edge of the bed in the guestroom, and he bounces against the mattress a little with each word.

Dave chuckles. “I’m not exactly sure what you’re so excited about. You’re still stuck in Cincinnati.”

“I’m excited for you because you’ve never seen it before and it’s the best movie ever, and I’m excited for Kurt because he loves sing-along anything and if you weren’t going with him he would probably stay home and pout all evening, but now he gets to go and be happy. And that makes me happy.”

“You’re really something, you know that?”

Blaine squirms and blushes. “Something awesome?”

“Yes, something awesome.”

Blaine blushes some more. “Anyway, if I can’t be there, knowing that my two best friends are having a good time – I don’t know. It just gives me warm feelings.”

“Hey, now. I haven’t promised to have a good time. Watching skinny women doing the can-can for two hours doesn’t exactly sound like my idea of fun.”

Blaine clucks his tongue. “That’s not what Moulin Rouge! is about. Anyway, you’ll be with Kurt, so of course you’ll have a good time. His enthusiasm is contagious.”

“So I shouldn’t be terrified of the dancing hos?”

Blaine smiles. “Well, I didn’t say that. But Kurt will protect you from the most menacing ones.”

* * *

Dave spends Saturday morning wondering why the fuck he said yes and how he is possibly going to survive this evening without making an utter fool of himself.

He considers backing out, but then he thinks about Kurt pouting at home and Blaine’s sad puppy-dog face, and decides he’s just going to have to man up and go.

So he does his laundry and irons his t-shirts and jeans and tries on three different outfits before he makes himself stop because this is not a fucking date and Kurt has never cared or noticed how Dave looks, anyway. Still, he showers and shaves and makes himself decent and presentable, because you never know – maybe this is the night that the perfect man is going to walk in through the doors of Scandals and sweep him off his feet.

He just hopes he recognizes it if it happens.

* * *

Burt Hummel fixes the Navigator early on Saturday afternoon. “Don’t think this means you’re going to Cincinnati, kid,” he says as he hands Kurt the keys. “I did my best work, but I don’t trust that engine not to fall apart on the highway. You’re only gonna be driving in town for the next couple weeks.”

Kurt starts to open his mouth.

“And I’ll ground you for the next 20 years if you try anything funny.”

Kurt shuts his mouth, but only until his dad’s out of earshot. Then he calls up Blaine and starts to grouse.

“Kurt, your dad is right. I don’t want to be the cause of you getting into a wreck on I-75.”

Kurt huffs. “I knew you’d be on his side. You two are always teaming up against me.”

“Or maybe we both just love you a lot and want what’s best for you?”

Kurt flops belly-first onto his bed. “You would figure out a way to make it sound sweet, wouldn’t you?”

So Kurt spends the rest of the afternoon trying to narrow down his choices of outfits for tonight. He could go as Christian, the down-and-out poet in grey trousers, collarless white button-down, suspenders, pinstriped brown vest and felt hat; or as the penniless sitar player in cream satin brocade jacket and pants; or as Toulouse Lautrec in red button-down, high hat, and gold wire-rimmed spectacles. He tries them all on, sending a photo of each outfit to Blaine and receiving increasingly enthusiastic responses before he finally decides on an outfit inspired by the unconscious Argentinian: tight black pants that flare out below the knee, shiny black leather-soled shoes, a white long-sleeved Henley, red vest, and a black leather cuff around his left wrist.

Blaine: Oh my god the only way you could look better is if you had nothing on at all.

Kurt: Is it too much?

Blaine: No. You’d outshine everyone in that place no matter what you wore.

Kurt: Blushing.

Blaine: I’d like to make you blush even more.

Kurt: Really?

Blaine: Yeah.

Kurt: And pray tell, how?

Blaine: Call me and you’ll find out.

*

“Tell me something dirty,” Kurt says. He’s already naked in his bed, his eyes closed and his cock hard in his hand, stroking it just the way Blaine has told him to.

“Well, I could do that,” Blaine says coyly. He sounds so close when Kurt has his earbuds in; it’s almost like Kurt can feel Blaine’s breath in his ear. “But I think it’s your turn.”

Kurt’s mind goes blank. They’ve only had phone sex three times, but every time it’s been Blaine who’s done all the talking. He’s told Kurt about how he wants his mouth to be fucked, and his ass, and how he wants to see Señor Martinez bend Kurt over the piano in the music room and lick his hole until Kurt comes from just that. He’s talked about sucking Kurt’s cock while Señor Martinez fucks his ass, and about fucking Kurt’s ass while Kurt fucks Señor Martinez’s, and he’s talked about being stuck outside the music room and peering through the strip of glass in the door, and watching Kurt come all over Señor Martinez’s black leather jacket.

“What – What do you want me to tell you?” Kurt says.

“You know what turns me on.”

Kurt bites his lip. “Do you – Do you want me to fuck you, or do you want to watch me?”

“Watch you.”

Kurt feels himself grow harder. “Um, who with?”

“You pick.”

“T-Taylor Lautner?”

“Sure.”

“I still think about him sometimes, you know.”

Blaine groans.

“I think about – I think about him giving me a blowjob, and –”

“Is he good?”

“He begs for it, Blaine.”

“Of course he does, Kurt. Anyone would.”

Kurt keeps the strokes on his cock soft and whisper-light. He loves the way Blaine gets when they talk like this. “And you’re there, too, Blaine. You kiss me while he sucks me, and I tell you how good it feels, and I try not to be too rough but I, I can’t stop myself, and I grab his head and I fuck his mouth and he takes it and it feels so, so good.”

“Oh, fuck. Tell me more.”

“And then – and then, you’re still kissing me but you start fingering him, too, and he really likes that, Blaine. And the more I lose it, the better you fuck him with your fingers, and he loves it, and he sucks me even harder, and I can tell he’s about to come –”

“You’re making him come, Kurt. It’s you.”

“But I’m – I don’t want to come yet.”

“Wait – in real life, or the fantasy.”

Kurt takes a deep breath. “Um, both? I want – I want to know what you’re doing to yourself.”

Blaine hums. “Fingering myself.”

“Jesus.”

“You like that?”

“I love it.”

“I like fingering myself and thinking about your ass, Kurt.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah. I like to think about licking it, and about watching it stretch around my fingers, and sometimes I like to think about other men’s fingers in there, too.”

“Like, at the same time as you, or, or –”

“I have one finger inside you, and he has one finger inside you, and we slide in opposite directions, and the backs of our hands keep rubbing together, and we’re both watching your face, you’re biting your lip and you’re so gorgeous, Kurt. Your cock is so hard and you feel so tight and warm but we each get another finger in you and you stretch and take it –”

“Oh, god.” That thought has never occurred to Kurt before, but he’s pretty sure it’s the hottest thing he’s ever heard, and he spreads some of the lube that’s on his dick onto his other hand, then lowers it to drag the pads of his fingers gently against his hole.

“Your turn, Kurt. Tell me more.”

"O-okay," Kurt stutters. "Are you tired of Señor Martinez yet?”

“God no.”

Kurt stills his hand because it’s kind of hard to speak with his fingers rubbing against his hole. “Um, after school in the Spanish classroom. I stay late for extra help, and he teaches me words that aren't in the Ohio Spanish curriculum requirements. But I pretend not to understand, and so he asks if I want him to show me what he means and, and he shows me and we lose track of time and you – you come by to pick me up and he’s still showing me and you just … stand there at the door and watch.”

“Fuck, Kurt.”

“And then –” Kurt tries to keep his hand still, but he can’t. He fucks the first wet finger inside himself.

“Kurt, I, I think I’m gonna come.”

“No,” Kurt says, spreading his legs wider so he can slide another finger in. “Not yet. I want –” His fingers move fast, almost of their own accord, and he spreads himself wide, and it feels so good, this low-burning fire that’s about to spark and explode.

Kurt can hear Blaine take a deep breath on the other end of the phone. “What do you want, Kurt? I’d do anything for you.”

“I want –“ Kurt gasps. “I want you to step closer. I want you to walk over and watch up close while I ride him. I want you to see my ass stretched around his dick, so you know what it looks like when it’s stretched around yours, so you can see how hungry I am for it, and how I want, and I –” Kurt stretches himself wider, presses a third finger against where he wants it, feels his muscle resist and resist and finally give way and “– oh fuck Blaine, that’s so good, it’s so, I Iove –”

“I have to come, Kurt, I can’t –” and Blaine makes a tight, struggling sound.

“You’re so good, Blaine.” Kurt fucks himself, fingers in and out and deeper, stretching, fast and more until starbursts jolt through his spine and eyelids. “I love you, I love you fucking me, I love –” His body shakes his back arching of the bed, and he comes white onto his stomach, warm pulses that feel like Blaine’s sweat and spit and come.

The only sound for a minute is the sound of their breathing, heavy at first, then slowing, riding out the blissful wave.

“I love you, Kurt. So, so much.”

Kurt feels suddenly shy again. “It – It wasn’t too much?”

"It was only too much if you didn’t want me to come all over the guest bed."

Kurt blushes. "Sorry."

Blaine laughs. "No apologies necessary. Anyway, I do my own laundry here.”

Kurt wishes he could kiss Blaine's forehead. Instead, he kisses the speaker on his phone. “I love you, sweetheart. And I –” He bites his lip and blushes brighter. “I’m glad I made you come. I like making you feel good.”

“You make me feel good in so many ways, Kurt. Not just when we mess around.”

Kurt hums. “You, too, sweetie. You do that to me, too.”

* * *

Dave’s parents have the car tonight, so Dave takes a cab. He’s stopped having the drivers drop him off at the McDonald’s three blocks away; each time, he gets out of the cab incrementally closer to his actual destination. Tonight, he asks to be dropped off at the fencing contractor that’s next door to Scandals; he can tell by the look on the cabbie’s face that his true destination is obvious, and he feels a little queasy for a moment, but then the cabbie makes a comment on his Giants cap and Dave’s nerves fade behind the easy, familiar curtain of Super Bowl patter.

He orders a Mountain Dew at the bar (taxi or not, he’s not stupid enough to think he can drink tonight) and goes over to the pool tables. It’s early, and they’re all empty, so he plays a game against himself until he feels a tap on his shoulder and turns around to see Kurt, who somehow manages to be even more breathtaking than usual as he says with a smile that reaches his eyes, “Get ready to be amazed, Dave.  Your life is going to change when you enter the Moulin Rouge.”

Somehow, Dave manages to keep his heart from climbing out of his throat.

* * *

Kurt goes to the bar to order himself a virgin something while Dave scopes out a table for them. But then he overhears the guy ahead of him – a handsome Toulouse Lautrec – ordering an iced tea, and decides to go for that instead. “I’ll have the same as he’s having,” he says to the bartender.

He feels very adult when Toulouse Lautrec turns and winks at him and says, “You have very good taste.”

“Yes, I do.” Kurt smiles, but doesn’t wink back.

Kurt starts sipping at his tea on the way to the table Dave found for them; it tastes a little odd at first, but it’s sweet and has a bright note of citrus, and on his third sip he decides it’s the best iced tea he’s ever had. He goes back to the bar and orders a second one so he won’t have to break away from the movie later.

The floor is set up the same way it was for the Michigan-Ohio State game in November, with tables and chairs on the dance floor and a large screen at the front. But the clothing people are wearing is much classier; there are quite a few Satines and Green Fairies, and several Christians, and a Nini and two Toulouse Lautrecs in addition to the one he ran into at the bar. There’s even a Duke, a Harold Zidler and a magical sitar. Kurt’s relieved to see he’s the only unconscious Argentinian.

“I feel a little underdressed,” Dave says as Kurt sits down.

“You’re fine,” Kurt says. “At least you ironed your shirt, which is more than I can say of some people around here.” He nods at a guy two tables away who is dressed as Christian in a disheveled button-down, and doesn’t mention that it’s part of the costume.

Dave lowers his eyelashes and pops another ice cube in his mouth, and Kurt thinks he sees the hint of a blush on Dave’s cheekbones, but the lights are dim so it’s hard to tell.

Kurt’s phone buzzes.

Blaine: I have the DVD player set up. Text me when the movie starts.

Kurt smiles and flashes the message to Dave before texting back.

Kurt: Only if you promise to sing along with me.

Blaine: Of course I will.

* * *

Moulin Rouge! is, it turns out, terrifying. At least for the first 15 minutes or so, when the camera darts around and lights flash and colors whirl and the music stomps out of the speakers like a herd of elephants high on meth. Dave has to close his eyes a few times to hold onto his bearings; it’s about the same level of disorienting as trying to juggle knives while riding a loop-de-loop rollercoaster through a house of horrors.

Kurt, on the other hand, is having the time of his life. Despite the fact that the music is a hyperactive mishmash of songs that sounds like it could really benefit from a dose of Ritalin, Kurt manages to sing right along with it, even as it jumps from Nirvana to mind-numbing house music to a very odd rap song.

Dave feels a nudge against his arm and opens his eyes. Kurt’s inches away from his face, looking at him with pale concern. “Are you okay? You look like you’re going to throw up.”

Dave takes a deep breath. “Fine. The movie –” he points weakly at the screen. “There’s a lot going on there.”

Kurt frowns. “I’m sorry. I forgot how overwhelming it is the first time you see it. I should have warned you.” He puts a hand on Dave’s forearm and gives a light squeeze. “But I promise it gets better soon. And if not – we don’t have to stay.”

Dave is not going to let a mere movie defeat him. “No, I’ll be okay. I’m sure it just takes some getting used to.”

“Ha ha,” Kurt says. “That’s like saying you can get used to being in love. No one ever gets used to the grandeur of Moulin Rouge! But one learns not to fear it.” And with that, Kurt whips his head back toward the screen and starts singing along with Nicole Kidman as she glides down from the ceiling on a trapeze.

Dave watches Kurt lose himself in the song, and the terrifying chaos of the movie slips away.

* * *

Kurt was telling the truth. The movie does get better. It’s a lot like learning to swim in Lake Michigan on a windy day: Yes, the waves can be huge and terrifying, and the current could pull you under; but if you stop fighting the water, you’re much less likely to drown.

Kurt gets increasingly elated as the movie goes along, and sings more loudly, hitting every note sung by man or woman perfectly so that people at the surrounding tables start turning to listen to him instead of the movie. Kurt doesn’t even notice; his eyes are on the screen, dancing with light as the songs move through him, and he’s so gorgeous and otherworldly that Dave can’t resist taking a picture of him to send to Blaine.

Kurt notices that, and raises an eyebrow at the phone’s camera in feigned irritation, but the smile doesn’t disappear from his face, and he doesn’t stop singing. He just turns to Dave and starts performing the song for him, and it’s both fabulous and uncomfortable because it’s an Elton John love song, and he’s going on about eyes that are green or blue and “the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen,” andits all very confusing until Kurt leans right into Dave’s face on the last “How wonderful life is while you're in the world,” and Dave catches the distinct whiff of alcohol on Kurt’s breath.

“Kurt, you’re drunk.”

Kurt laughs and slaps Dave’s shoulder. “Drunk on life and Moulin Rouge!”

“Um, no.” Dave grabs one of Kurt’s empty tumblers and sniffs at it. Even though it’s largely melted ice at this point, it reeks of booze. “You’re drunk on alcohol. What did you order, anyway?”

“It was just iced tea.” Kurt giggles and grabs the tumbler back. “It has a special name, something that has to do with New York.”

“Long Island iced tea?”

Kurt nods. “Yup, that’s it.”

“Kurt, that’s a mixed drink.”

Kurt raises an eyebrow at him. “Really?”

Dave nods.

“Huh. I guess you’ll have to drive me home then.” Kurt leans in too close and lowers his voice conspiratorially. “You’ll have to be careful, though. My dad just fixed it and the engine could go at any moment. Now shush and pay attention to the movie.”

* * *

At some point, Kurt starts to register that the hoots and catcalls at the end of every song are for him. So when Satine launches into “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” he stands up on the table to sing along with her. He gets a standing ovation. And then a six-foot-two Satine who usually comes to Scandals dressed as Cher leans over the table to flash her décolletage and propose a duet, and Kurt sees no reason not to oblige. He takes her hand and they go to the front of the room by the screen to sing along as Christian and Satine chase each other on top of the glittering elephant. But Drag Satine can’t really sing, so Kurt does both their lines while she lip syncs along, and by the end of the song the patrons are stomping and cheering and it’s for him. It’s for his voice.

“They love me,” Kurt can’t stop saying when he gets back to the table. He hugs Dave because he has to hug someone; because his heart is spinning out onto his surface, not tight and balled up deep inside like it is most of the time. Dave isn’t as soft as Kurt would have expected from the way that Blaine goes on about his teddy-bear-like qualities. He’s solid, like the ground. “I can’t believe they love me.”

“Of course they do,” Dave says, and for some inexplicable reason, those are the words that suddenly make everything seem real, and Kurt starts crying for the joy of it.

* * *

Dave: Your boyfriend has learned too late that Long Island iced tea is not actually iced tea. He appears to be pretty drunk. Advice?

Blaine: Really? OMG I want to see this. I’ve never seen Kurt drink. I could lord it over him for months. Oh wait. That’s not mature.
Blaine: So, is he an angry drunk or an adorable drunk?

Dave: Well, he did a duet with this drag queen and kind of stole the show.

Blaine: I can’t believe I’m missing it.

Dave: I’ll send you a picture. Didn’t want to without warning you he was drunk first.

Blaine: Aw, thanks!
Blaine: I’m so glad you’re there. Make sure he gets home okay?

Dave: I will.

* * *

Everyone really does love Kurt. Strangers come up to him and offer to buy him something. “I already have a boyfriend,” he says, “but if you’re not just trying to get into my pants –” He gets another Long Island iced tea and two Mountain Dews for Dave that way.

Being drunk is kind of awesome. Kurt’s not quite sure how he’s managed not to think about that fact ever since vomiting on Miss Pillsbury’s shoes, but he’s glad the truth has confronted him now.

Because Moulin Rouge! may be even better when you’re inebriated. Kurt laughs harder at the funny parts and cries harder at the sad parts, and when “Come What May” starts, Kurt texts Blaine with most of the lyrics – okay, all of them. He’s not sure he’d wear his heart so freely on his sleeve if he were sober.

And then when “Tango de Roxanne” starts and he wants to dance, he doesn’t just sit there on his hands like he would if he were just drinking a boring old Shirley Temple.

“We’re going to tango,” he announces to Dave, and pulls him out of his seat by both hands.

“But I don’t know how to tango,” Dave protests.

“That’s okay. I’ll lead and you follow. You’ll be fine.”

“But Blaine –”

“Oh my god. Blaine doesn’t care if we dance together.” Kurt has a mischievous thought. “In fact, I think he’d like it.”

But they don’t even make it as far onto the dance floor, because it suddenly starts moving under them like a sheet billowing in the wind. “Oh shit,” Kurt murmurs as he falls sideways into Dave’s shoulder. “I just remembered why I don’t drink.”

They make it to the bathroom before Kurt starts throwing up, but just barely.

*

“This is so embarrassing,” Kurt mutters at his reflection in the mirror. There are no signs of puke on his face or clothing. At least he’s got that going for him.

But Dave was crouching down next to him in the stall as he threw up, rubbing his back and talking him through it. It was comforting at the time, but now all Kurt can think is how wretched he must have looked.

Dave is leaning against the wall behind the row of sinks. “I’ve seen way worse. Azimio upchucked in my dad’s car, like, three times. And then passed out so I had to clean it up.”

“And you stayed friends with him?” Kurt leans over the sink to rinse his mouth and spit. “Now that’s true friendship.”

Dave shrugs. “I thought so.” Something about his tone makes Kurt’s heart ache. He suddenly feels very sober, although he knows that it doesn’t work that way – the alcohol that was in his blood ten minutes ago is still zooming around through his body and bathing his brain. Only the stuff that was in his stomach is gone.

Kurt splashes his face. “You guys don’t really talk anymore, do you?”

“Not since prom last year.” Dave grabs a paper towel from the dispenser and hands it to Kurt without making eye contact. “Not really.”

Kurt starts to pat his face dry. “I’m sorry,” he says, which he realizes doesn’t make any sense because Azimio and Dave together were just as bad as Dave alone used to be. So maybe Kurt’s not sorry for Dave losing Azimio, but he is sorry for the other thing that Dave lost at the same time, the thing that makes Dave look so pained to remember Azimio right now.

“Don’t be. We obviously weren’t the best influences on each other. And hanging out with him kind of made me hate myself. I mean, I don’t know how much of that was his fault and how much of it was mine, but –” Dave shrugs and looks down at the floor.

“You were in love with him, weren’t you?” Okay, Kurt is definitely drunk.

Dave leans against the wall and sighs. “I don’t know. Sometimes I thought I might be.”

Kurt steps toward Dave and gives him another hug because he’s drunk and nothing’s stopping him. “Oh, honey,” he says. “First loves are the worst.” Dave stands immobile as a mountain for a minute but Kurt refuses to let go, and finally Dave surrenders to it, resting his hands around Kurt’s back and his cheek against the top of Kurt’s head.

“Yeah, they are,” Dave says.

“I used to be in love with Finn,” Kurt mutters into Dave’s shoulder. “It sucked.”

“As in Finn Hudson? Your step-brother?”

“Yeah. It’s kind of how he ended up as my step-brother.” Kurt steps back from the hug and looks toward the restroom door. “Remind me to tell you that convoluted story of suckage sometime when I’m sober enough to get all the details right. In the meantime, shall we catch the end of Moulin Rouge?

“We shall,” Dave says. He doesn’t offer his elbow, but Kurt takes it anyway, because he’s not sure how he’s going to make it back to the table otherwise.

* * *

The movie ends in a way that Dave is not expecting at all. He would cry, except that he doesn’t know how to cry at movies. So instead, he gets a headache.

Kurt, on the other hand, is sobbing shamelessly into Dave’s shoulder and muttering, “I love you so much, Blaine,” over and over again into his iPhone.

Eventually, Kurt hands the phone to Dave. “Blaine wants to talk to you,” he says, and his breath is so close to Dave’s ear that the words feel solid, perching there like a bird on a windowsill.

He takes the phone and Kurt sinks his face back into his shoulder. “Hi, Blaine,” he says.

“Kurt is really, really drunk,” Blaine says on the other end of the line, his voice wobbly with either laughter or tears. Dave can’t figure out which.

“Are you okay?”

Blaine sniffs. “Oh, yeah. Just, crying over the movie and how much I miss you guys, and laughing because Kurt is, like, really plastered.”

“That is very true.”

“Has he thrown up yet?”

Dave looks at the head on his shoulder and wonders how much he should say within earshot of it without provoking its wrath. He decides a simple, “Yes,” is safe enough.

“But he’s okay now?”

“Yeah, I think so. No more Long Island ice teas for him tonight.”

Kurt’s groan vibrates all the way into Dave’s rib cage.

“Well,” says Blaine. “I’m glad you’re there to take care of him. Give him a hug for me, okay?”

Dave’s not sure what to say to that, so he says, “Okay.” He swallows. “Not sure how I’m going to get him through his front door without the whole family pointing shotguns at me, though.”

Kurt mumbles. “My dad doesn’t own a shotgun.”

“Metaphorical,” Dave mumbles back at him.

Kurt looks up with bright, devilish eyes and a coy grin. “Oooh, big word.”

Blaine jumps in. “Don’t worry about that. I’ve already texted Finn. I know he’s not generally the most trustworthy guy, but when it comes to covering up drunken escapades – he’s trustworthy. He’ll take care of Kurt when you drop him off.”

“Does he know I’m the one dropping him off? He wasn’t so thrilled to see me the last time we met. And Kurt’s not really in any position to defend me.”

Kurt pinches Dave’s cheek. “I’m always in a position to defend you, David.”

*

Kurt makes it to the car without falling down, but that could be because he clings to Dave’s side the whole way there. “You’re like a tree,” he says as Dave tries to untangle him and help him into the passenger seat of the Navigator.

“Um, thank you?”

Kurt turns and tries to grab his seatbelt from over by the open door, but it keeps slipping through his fingers and snapping back into the holder on the car frame. He sinks back into seat and huffs angrily. “Dave, why won’t my brain communicate with my hand?”

“Because you’re drunk, Kurt.”

“I don’t feel drunk. I can think perfectly clearly. It’s just the rest of me that’s all fuzzy.”

“Do you want help with your seatbelt?”

Kurt frowns. “Okay. I guess needing help with your seatbelt goes with the territory when you’re drunk, doesn’t it? I always have to help Blaine with his when he’s all, you know –” Kurt twirls his hand in the air “– woowoo.”

Dave tries not to lean in too close as he reaches across Kurt to snap the belt in place, but the effort turns out to be kind of fruitless, because as he straightens up Kurt’s eyes catch onto Dave’s forearm like it’s the most fascinating thing in the world and before Dave knows what’s happening, Kurt has both hands around it and is squeezing it through his coat. “Yup,” says Kurt. “Definitely a tree. I don’t know why they call you a teddy bear. You’re very solid, Dave.”

Dave pries his forearm loose from Kurt’s grip and backs all the way out of the car. “Watch your feet,” he says as he shuts the door. This is going to be the longest, weirdest night in history.

Kurt’s silent when Dave climbs into the driver’s seat and turns the motor on. He explains the plan that Blaine texted to him on their way out of the bar: Dave’s going to drive Kurt around for a while until Finn gets home. Finn is going to help him into the house and rehydrate him and help him to bed before their parents get home, and when Kurt wakes up hungover tomorrow morning, he should claim he’s coming down with the flu.

Kurt nods, but he doesn’t say anything, so Dave’s not sure if any of it registered and how much he’ll have to explain again later.

“Do you want music, Kurt?” Dave says as they pull out of the parking lot.

Kurt shakes his head and stares out the window. “No. I’m thinking.”

“What about?” Dave says, although as soon as he says it, it feels like the most dangerous question.

“Have you ever seen a giant redwood?”

“Just in pictures. Not in real life.”

“My dad and I drove to California a few summers ago, and he said he’d only take me to Hollywood if I agreed to stop and look at redwoods on the way back. Anyway, when you stand at the bottom of one, they’re – They’re really big, Dave. You look up and up and up and with some of them, you can’t even see the top. And I took all these pictures where I’d lie down at the bottom of the tree and point the camera up and try to fit the whole thing in the shot that way, but it never would fit, and at first I got really frustrated because I wanted to be able to see the whole tree at once.”

“Wait. You laid down on the ground? In the forest? Weren’t you worried about your clothes?”

That is not the point of the story, Dave. But I was wearing ugly clothes. My dad warned me they might get messy.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Anyway, when I stopped to look at the pictures that I had, I decided they were actually really nice. Because maybe I couldn’t see the whole thing, but what I could see was still … worth seeing. And after we left, I started paying attention to the smaller trees at the side of the road and I realized that even with them, I couldn’t see everything at once. I could just see one side or the other, and if I was on the ground and looked up, I would see all the branches but I couldn’t see the canopy, and if I was up in a building looking down on the canopy, I couldn’t see the branches or the trunk. So I can’t see everything about a tree all at once, but every time I change my angle, I see something new.”

Dave is looking out at the road ahead of them, but in the corner of his eye, he can see Kurt look away from the window and turn toward him. “That’s why you’re like a tree, Dave.”

“Oh.”

“You’re also like Satine.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, because your eyebrows. And also because you don’t think you’re worth being loved.”

Dave does not crash the car. “Kurt, you’re really drunk.” They come to a red light, but Dave doesn’t turn to look at him.

“I told you already, my brain’s not fuzzy. Just the rest of me.”

Dave can feel Kurt’s eyes boring into him. He wonders whether it was such a good idea, after all, to want friends who care so much that they try to see inside you.

“David, why didn’t things work out with you and –” Kurt scratches his head. “I forget his name. George? You know, that guy you went on a date with.”

Dave shrugs. “You met him. He wasn’t all that memorable.”

“He was okay.”

Dave rolls his eyes. “You were making faces behind his back the whole time.”

“Only because you were so obviously not into him.” Kurt sounds a little petulant. “Anyway, it’s not just him. I see all these other guys checking you out every time we’re at Scandals, and you hardly ever look back at them.”

“If anyone’s looking in my direction, it’s because you’re sitting next to me.”

Kurt giggles and punches Dave’s bicep. “Well, yes, I am quite the eye candy. But they’re not all looking at me. I caught two Christians and a Green Fairy and the Duke all checking you out tonight.”

“You’re full of it.”

Kurt wags his head and pinches Dave’s bicep. “Nah-uh. Everyone loves a beefy jock.”

Dave shrinks away and mumbles, “Not everyone.”

Kurt folds his arms across his chest. His coordination seems to be improving steadily. “Fine, be a crabby pants. But I speak the truth. Even me, you know – my first porn was a pile of –”

“I don’t think you want to tell me this, Kurt.”

“– vintage muscle magazines that April Rhodes gave me. They had so much … skin.” Kurt sighs dreamily.

“Wait, April Rhodes? You mean the woman they named the McKinley Auditorium after?”

“Yup.” Kurt leans in close to Dave’s shoulder like he’s about to divulge something even more private, if that were possible.

“Whatever you’re about to say, don’t say it,” Dave says.

“Sometimes,” Kurt whispers loudly, “Blaine and I look through them when we get tired of Vogue.”

Dave has no idea how to respond to that, so he flips on the radio without asking permission first and turns it up so loud he can’t think. He doesn’t recognize the song, but Kurt starts singing happily along with it and continues to the rest of the way home.

*

Dave has no idea what Blaine told him, but Finn acts so casual about the whole thing that it’s like they’ve all done this a hundred times before.

“You need a ride home, Karofsky?” he says after Dave gets out of the car. Kurt is hanging onto Finn’s arm, frowning up at him in the dim light of the driveway.

“You’re no tree, Finn Hudson,” Kurt mutters.

Finn looks down at him with a bright smile. “Wow, Kurt, you really are plastered, aren’t you? Never thought I’d see you like this. Don’t worry, though, I won’t tell your dad.”

Kurt rolls his eyes. “Of course you won’t, or I’ll show Rachel your browser history on Pornhub.com."

Finn laughs, but it’s obvious from the way his eyes are bulging out of their sockets that the threat holds some real weight. He looks up at Dave. “Anyway, if you wanna wait while I get Kurt inside, I can give you a ride home.”

Dave shakes his head. “Nah, it’s okay. I was going to get a cab, anyway.”

Kurt nods approvingly. “You’ve made the right choice, Dave. He’s a terrible driver.”

“That part’s actually true,” Finn says, grinning. He reaches out his hand to shake Dave’s. “Thanks for watching out for my little brother, man.”

Kurt rolls his eyes again. “Jesus fuck, I’m drunk, not incompetent. I can say my own thank you’s. And anyway, I’m older than you, Finn.” He pushes away from Finn and walks the two steps toward Dave unaided before wrapping him in his third hug of the night. “Don’t forget, Dave,” he murmurs into his shoulder. “You’re a tree.”

*

Dave decides to walk home instead of calling a taxi. His brain is spinning like he’s the drunk one; the cold air should do him some good.

A block away from Kurt’s house, he texts Blaine.

Dave: Got him home in one piece. Parents should be none the wiser.

Blaine: Thanks.
Blaine: I forgot to ask you how you liked the movie, anyway.

Dave: It was interesting.

Blaine: Interesting?

Dave: Overwhelming. Terrifying. Sad.
Dave: Why does it make you guys so happy?

It’s a few minutes before Blaine answers.

Blaine: It’s like riding a rollercoaster of love.

Blaine: And also - and I know you’re going to think this is cheesy when I say it, but it’s true. The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Dave: Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have the chance to learn it.

Blaine: You already are loved, Dave.

Dave finally cries. He doesn’t know if it’s sadness or happiness. But he knows it’s something.