He tried, okay? He did. He went to therapy, sought help when it was needed. He talked – God, did he talk. To his shrink and his dad, for hours and hours, until there was nothing left to say. Every moment covered a thousand times, every feeling revisited and analyzed. It was tedious, necessary, and ultimately useless. All it did was leave him more confused and hopeless.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Kurt visited him in the hospital, he had given him hope. Kurt’s overly optimistic vision and his automatic response, all forced and falsely happy, were, despite their faults, moments he held on to. One day, it would get better. One day he would be happy, loved and safe. But what if… What if it was all a lie? What if, for some people who have done too much wrong and hurt too many people, there was no absolution or happiness in the future?
Today, he’s convinced he’s one of them. There is no improvement to come for one David Karofsky. He’s just coasting through the days, numbly, and it’s never going to change. He still has no friends left (Kurt’s good intentions fizzled out under the pressure and demands of life). He’s still a freak by his own mother’s standards. He’s still an ineligible college applicant with a disastrous GPA, thanks to his junior and senior year. Not even his athletic aptitudes could get him into a good college nowadays. Basically he’s stuck, even more so than before, but he will resolve the situation, tonight. He has no choice left but this one.
It’s the coward’s way out but he’s never claimed to be any kind of courageous person. He swallows the chunk of bitter sadness in his throat and closes the browser. He wanted to check his email, one last time. He didn’t expect much, just a confirmation that nothing had come up. Nope, no miracle today. His inbox has no messages, no reply to the dozen emails sent to his mother. His Facebook is cleaner these days, but the way the hateful posting and insulting has turned into massive “un-friending” and blatant avoidance is not exactly comforting.
A quick glance to his phone, in case he would have missed a text alert or something. No, nothing - because no one cares. He’s just confirming a glaring fact by now. He picks it up anyway, out of habit, and with some effort gets up and pushes the desk chair away. Every movement seems to require so much these days…
His eyes flutter in the direction of his dad’s room. For once, he doesn’t dwell on the fact that it’s no longer his parents’ room. As depressing as this recurrent thought is, it’s overruled by a stronger emotion. His steps slow down, almost stop. His dad – God. His one doubt. But with a deep, determined breath he keeps on, swiftly passing the closed door and walking upstairs to his own room. It’s too late to change his mind, although the flare of fear mixed with regret makes him pause long enough to decide to postpone his plan a little. Not long; just until the morning. It’s the respectful thing to do, isn’t it?
After all, he can’t make him find his body a second time. If he does it early enough, he will have time to be found by someone else. The rabbi is supposed to come “counsel” him in the early afternoon. (That’s how his mother communicates these days, through people she sends in her stead). He knows he won’t simply walk away if he doesn’t answer the door. He’s the kind of nosy person who can’t let anything go. Since he will make sure it will be unlocked, the rabbi will undoubtedly come in and search for him. That way, there will be a competent person to break the news to his dad - do it carefully. It won’t be as traumatic and he will bear it more easily. That’s what he tells himself to ease the guilt. It doesn’t really work, unsurprisingly.
Still, he’ll do it. He’ll wait until his dad has left for work; until he’s sure he won’t come back for a forgotten file or cell phone. He cracks a sad, minuscule smile. His dad is such an airhead. He’s going to miss that - the way the front door would spring open and his dad would come back inside, running around and cursing after whatever he’s left behind. It’s a bi-weekly occurrence, at the very least, and an entertaining sight as he’s eating breakfast.
The warm memory is not sufficient to change his mind. With a steady hand he reaches into his backpack, into the secret pocket at the bottom. He’s bought the pills weeks ago on a whim, on a bad day. He didn’t think he would actually work up the nerve to use them but, insidiously, the day has come. There’s only so much darkness a man can endure until the solution is inevitable. He lines the two bottles of sleeping aid on the desk, neat and straight. Clean, it makes it more real and definitive. Once they’re placed, he breathes easier. It’s in motion. One last look around his bedroom, one last time taking in all that is his life, one last sleep. One last night of pondering what went wrong and couldn’t be fixed, one last succession of terrible ideas wracking his brain. Tomorrow it will all be over and, no matter what awaits him on the other side at least there will be less chaos in his head. Peace is all he longs for and is looking forward to.
One thing is certain. This time around, he will get it right.
When his alarm rings, he realizes something’s off right away. It’s not the usual song, instead an old Johnny Cash song; one he hasn’t listened to in months, no, over a year ago. His eyes fly open. He knows the last time he used it. The day everything fell apart in his life, for the first time.
It only takes a rushed look around him to confirm it. Calculus books on his desk, the red jacket draped over his chair. It all fits. Junior year - a very specific school day of that year. He knows the last time he had “Hurt” set for every alert was the day he kissed Kurt. It’s burned indelibly in his memory - how he couldn’t hear a single chord without reliving that moment in the locker room. He had changed it to a harmless melody from Final Fantasy that very night.
Suddenly he’s fully awake. Of course, memories. He’s dreaming. That’s it. The stress of what he must do tomorrow has triggered a lucid dream. Of course it had to be one that would matter immensely, since it’s to be his last one.
He sighs internally, while his body goes through the automatic motions of stopping his phone, getting out of bed and heading for the shower. Honestly, he would have preferred a dreamless night, a crazy made-up story or simply another memory for his last night. While he realizes he’s dreaming and that he doesn’t have any control over it, he still wishes he could select the subject.
He would never pick that moment, that’s for sure. Not only because it was a messy point in his life but also because really, what’s the point in reliving moments you can recall with perfect clarity? Every step is like a well-rehearsed play; every sensation is uncomfortably familiar. This is just one more visit, like the dozens he unwillingly made during those lonely nights or during lulls in class. Except it’s even worse this time, it feels more real than any dream he’s ever had. He’s not seeing himself do all the mundane steps in his morning routine, he’s doing them. First-person perspective is not how he usually experiences his dreams. He’s used to have them as movies playing out in his head, observed from very close. This is too… personal and it makes him shiver.
It’s also eerily detailed. Why isn’t he just living that moment in the locker room? Isn’t it the only part that matters? It seems the mind works in an inexplicable way by showing him such unnecessary segments of this day. No skipping ahead, no shortcuts. He has to sit at the table, eat his breakfast with his dad, and be pressed by his mother to get ready or else he’ll be late to school. Like when he actually lived it, he rolls his eyes when he’s sure she can’t see him. Except this time, when he happens to look out the bay window, there’s a boy standing on the sidewalk. That’s different. A teen, maybe a year or two younger than him, and kind of scrawny. He’s staring and it looks like he’s about to wave at him when Dave’s attention goes back to his mother.
“David, come on, it’s almost 8:00 you don’t have time for daydreaming!”
Oh man, if only she knew… He didn’t think that line from her would end up being so appropriate. He looks out again but the boy has disappeared. Weird, but whatever.
He finishes his breakfast in a few hurried bites and within a minute he’s out the door and on his way. As he drives to school, his thoughts drift off again. He’s stuck in this dream, until he can wake up on his own and do what he must. He better prepare himself for what’s to come.
It will be pretty easy at first. Study hall, calculus, history. Lunch with the guys who used to be his friends. Then Spanish, physics and chemistry. Then Kurt and that fateful locker room. He shudders. This moment won’t be a walk in the park.
He remembers the sequence of events just fine. The cascade of feelings to go along with it, on the other hand, not so vividly. It’s a voluntary forgetfulness, a self-preservation thing, not so much with the classes but more with everything in between. That’s when the hiding was weighing him down, when every conversation was a stress, everybody around him a threat or source of envy. Abundant reasons for him to bury those particular emotions as deep as possible.
So seeing Kurt smile brightly, mocking his own struggle with his ease, it punches him in the gut just as hard as the time he actually lived it, with a fresh power he couldn’t prepare for. When his gaze falls on the few inches of visible skin between his high boots and his shorts (ridiculous shorts, almost a skirt, not enticing, no, not at all) and the flare of desire burns again, then he recalls everything, truly. Even if it wasn’t a dream, he still would have slapped the phone out of Kurt’s hands and pushed him. When he goes through with it, it’s just as unsatisfying as it was in the past. Anyway, it’s what must be done.
The script is followed to a T and it’s killing him. He knows the lines, his reaction to them and to anticipate the pain makes it sting tenfold.
In the past year and a half, he’s rehashed their shouting match more times than he can count. It’s common, coming up with appropriate replies when it’s too late to play them, and he’s experienced it yet again with this moment. Now he’s got them on the tip of his tongue and in his dreaming state they’re useless. More irony. He’s had enough, this has been going on long enough, can’t he be released now?
He knows it’s a matter of seconds before Kurt comes bursting in. Quickly he pinches and twists the skin on the back of his hand. Fat chance. That’s not waking him up and Kurt is here, spewing angrily. He recites is own lines, the same ones. There’s no reason to do so except force of habit. Taking refuge in familiar gestures to deflect the words. His belated retorts are heard in his head only.
“What is your problem?”
Me, my parents. My whole life. My fear. “Excuse me?”
“What are you so scared of?”
You. My feelings. My feelings for you. “Besides you sneaking in here to peek at my junk?”
“Oh yeah. Every straight guy’s nightmare: that all us gays are secretly out to molest and convert you. Well, guess what, ham hock, you’re not my type.”
I know. Your type is preppy, self-obsessed douchebags. “That right?”
“Yeah. I don’t dig on chubby boys who sweat too much and are gonna be bald by the time they’re thirty.”
You’re right on that. You can do better than this… average guy. “Do not push me, Hummel.”
“You’re gonna hit me? Do it.”
Should I? Would it change how I feel about you? “Don’t push me.”
“Hit me- ‘cause it’s not gonna change who I am. You can’t punch the gay out of me any more than I can punch the ignoramus out of you.”
You should. Punch it away, don’t take the high road with me. It could make me better. Or just leave, for both our sakes. “Get out of my face!”
“You are nothing but a scared little boy who can’t handle how extraordinarily ordinary you are!”
As expected, he plunges and grabs Kurt’s face, pulling him in for a forceful kiss. He tries to control himself but it’s so much worse than the first time. The pent up feelings, jumbled up and impossible to sort out, are not so much on the forefront as they were. He has some distance in his mind - has all those future memories mixed with this dream. What could have been. How he never found the way to make it work. How he was always clumsy in his attempts for atonement.
When he pulls back, the shock is partly from the simple fact that he kissed Kurt but also fully realizing what that impulsive act unleashed. Had he resisted, would any of the mayhem had happened?
He barely registers the thought. His fingers are still lightly resting on Kurt’s cheeks - his beautifully reddened cheeks. His gaze drops to the full lips, slightly parted and he gets it. Dream or not, he never had the choice when it came to Kurt. It was wrong, ill-timed, and inevitable. He moves again and is pushed back. The whimper he lets out is no longer just one of frustrated desire and startled realization. It’s laced with despair.
He stares at Kurt for a second before punching the locker and running away. His feet pound the hallway, probably quite loud, but he can’t hear them. It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream. That he hears perfectly. He keeps repeating it, all the way home, during dinner, as he mechanically does all the little things he did the first time around. It’s still in the back of his mind when he, like before, pretends he’s fine, fakes a heavy workload so he can spend the evening in his room blasting away at mutants on his PS3, vainly hoping it would prevent his mind to go back, scrutinize the scene repeatedly and bash him accordingly. He’s aware it won’t work; it didn’t in real life, in a dream it’s even less likely.
It will stop, it’s not like he’s trapped forever. Don’t dreams always end at the most inopportune “scene”? Then he won’t have to bear it for much longer. He angrily wipes his wet cheeks. It has to stop, right this second. This is all too real. He didn’t need to be reminded of how little control he has over himself. He doesn’t need to have a dream overwhelmingly realistic, experiencing not shadow of feelings but actual ones, with the burden of knowing where they lead added on them. Enough. He gets it. There was no other way and his plan is sound and justified. Can he get back to it now?
“I hurt myself today…”
His eyes snap open and widen at the sight he takes in. No. This can’t be. It was just a dream, nothing more.
Yet here he is. The dreaded song playing again, the same set up. The same day. What the hell? He should be awake by now. They say time passes differently while dreaming, but this is overkill. One full day wasn’t long enough? Damn it.
It drags on and he goes along with it. Once. Twice. Three times. Always the same day, from morning to evening, exactly the same. That’s not true. One detail varies from one day to the other: that weird kid who keeps popping here and there, always in the background. He doesn’t say anything, sometimes he simply stares or smiles at him, most of the time he just makes eye contact and nods… Encouragingly? That’s how it looks anyway.
It’s the only difference. Everything else is the same terrible cycle. It takes 5 or maybe 6 repetitions before it dawns on him. No dream lasts this long. If he’s stuck reliving this particular day and it’s not memories brought on by sleep, then there’s only one other explanation: hell.
That’s it. He actually died, he just doesn’t remember the act itself. This is what he got for it - hell, or a purgatory of some kind. It makes sense too. How else could they torture him? It’s perfectly tailored for him: hurting Kurt over and over again, loathing himself, kissing Kurt, tasting him only to be pushed away with disgust. Over and over. Rinse and repeat. Could there be any other setup more hurtful than this one?
It’s almost enough to make him regret killing himself. Almost, if it wasn’t for how he knows he deserves this retribution. That’s why he goes through the motions with more and more acceptance as the days string together.
He (sort of) becomes used to the pain, to the blow of being rejected, when a real change happens. He passes the front door in a hurry, once again fleeing Kurt and his horrified expression, when a hand grabs his sleeve and stops him in his tracks. That silent kid, except this time he talks.
“Try something. You can choose, do whatever you want.”
A few precipitated words and he’s gone. Impossibly fast, but can he really question what happens in such a place? Not really.
The urgency is what makes him give the idea some thought, while he’s on his way home. That kid sounded so intent, as if it was vital that he’d listen to his advice. He frowns. Try something? What could he try, in this world? He’s never had any choice in regards to what happened that day, why would it be any different when he’s trapped in it. If anything, his hands are tied even more solidly than in his actual life.
Still, his curiosity is piqued. If that kid is right… If he has some power over what he does in this place… Well he knows exactly how he’s going to use it.
No. Not gonna move. He jumps slightly, but that’s it.
Eyes screwed shut, he dives deeper under the covers. No. He’s taking this loop off. This one and all the ones to come, actually. If he has any kind of liberty, that’s how he will use it. It’s far less painful than replaying those moments. The thick comforter, held close around him, muffles the world. Good. Let’s make everything less real, less susceptible to hurt. He’s choosing the easy way out once more. The only one he’s allowed to, apparently.
He groans and tries to stay still. No need to be a genius to figure out who’s out there and he has no desire to see him. He will stop throwing those pebbles against his window and leave. Eventually. He has to.
Click. Click. Click.
“Damn it!” he screams, kicking the covers until he’s free. A couple steps and he lifts the pane up so hard it clatters against the frame. The boy is there, a frown on his face and dozens of tiny rocks in hand.
“Fuck off!” Dave throws at him, earning himself a scoff in return. Exasperated, he rolls his eyes and is about to close the window when the boy finally speaks.
“When I said you could choose, this is NOT what I meant, David!” he hollers.
Wait a minute. A mix of dread and curiosity pushes him to still his hand. “How do you know my name?” Dave asks slowly.
“Let me in and I’ll explain. If that’s how you’ll act, we have to talk, properly.”
The boy raises an eyebrow expectantly and Dave nods in agreement. The boy starts walking around the house and Dave closes the window, a million thoughts (questions) roaming in his head.
A minute later, he’s sitting in front of the guy in his kitchen and it almost feels like a standoff. They size each other up and it takes an exasperated sigh from Dave for the boy to finally start speaking.
“I'm your angel,” he starts off quietly.
Dave’s eyes widen. “What, like you're dead too?” he asks and for a second he takes comfort in the thought that he’s not alone in this. He has someone who went through the same thing.
Then the boy laughs and the reassurance dissipates. “I'm not dead,” he says, “and neither are you. I'm very much alive, or at least I was last time I checked. I'm an advisor, I guess? This is how they explained it.”
This just got way more complicated and weird... Dave muses.
“I think they're Fates. Three girls, they looked wise and ageless. They didn't say much, just that I could help you, if I wanted to. It's kinda like a mission.”
“This nightmare is a mission? To what end? Driving me crazy? No, this is hell. I killed myself and you’re just a figment of my imagination to help me cope with the consequences of my actions.”
Dave’s head drops. He draws a shaky breath as the weight of his affirmation rests on his mind. He didn’t realize it at first but saying it loud, it makes it so true. He’s accepted it as the truth: he will be stuck forever here, in this day. An eternal punishment, without any way to atone for his sins.
The boy sighs and glides his hand across the table until his fingers can grip Dave’s, lightly. “Believe me,” he says in an assured voice, “this is not hell. This is an opportunity. Only a few get to have a redo, from what I gathered, and they believe you earned one. They said you veered off track too far and it couldn't be fixed anymore, you had to go far back and start on a new path.”
Dave looks up, confused. The speech, its tone in particular, is pretty convincing. A small flicker of hope is ignited but it’s quickly dampened when the days he’s lived come back to him.
“How is reliving this day again and again new in any way?” he asks bitterly, pulling his hand away.
“It's a starting point or a fork in the road if you will. Thousands of possible lives stem from this day on, they told me. Until you pick one, create one that is good for you, they'll keep bringing you back.”
“There's only one?”
“No, but there is a best one, the one they want you to have.”
“They didn't say. I guess I know, in a roundabout way. I know the ending, but not what must happen today for it to happen. I'll find out with you. But I know some choices that aren't right and I can help you stay clear of those, it could make the cycle end more quickly. I can't say much more.”
“Wow, that's fantastic. You're pretty much useless.”
The boy is hurt, clearly, eyes almost instantly gazing over with tears at the comment. “That was uncalled for,” he chokes out. “It's not my fault, they said it was vital that you figure most of it by yourself or this would all be for nothing.”
Dave feels a pang of regret and reaches over for an awkward pat on the boy’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. This… It’s just a lot to take in and I don’t know where to start.”
The boy smiles shyly and nods in acknowledgement. He wipes his eyes with a not-so-subtle swipe of the back of his hand and his second smile is already more assured. “I can help with that, at least,” he says. “It’s a little late to fix it with this turn. We should take it easy for the rest of the day, figure out ideas for tomorrow and pick it up from there.”
He gets up, extends his hand. “First things first: basics. I’m Nathan. I can’t interact or be seen by anyone but you. I will be around whenever you need me or be away when you prefer to be alone, you just tell me whichever you want. Anyway, I was thinking the best way to plan this would be to discuss in your car, on the way to school? You could put on music and then people wouldn’t think you’re talking to yourself or something. Let’s keep the weirdness to a minimum, otherwise it’ll make it even more difficult.”
Dave raises his hand to stop the tirade. The rapid fire speech is making him dizzy. “Whoa, OK there, Dad. You always boss people around like that?” he asks.
Nathan scoffs but his eyes shine with mirth. “Look man, I’m thirteen. How many opportunities do you think I get, to know more than others for once and to be the one in charge?”
Dave nods with a contrite smile. He remembers that age all too well and can’t help but agree with Nathan. His new guide, apparently…
Said guide beams at the response. “Damn right, I’m going to milk it for all its worth, you can count on it!”
The rest of day, before his parents come home from work, is spent in the same spot of the kitchen. Nathan stays true to his word, motor-boating comments and suggestions that are definitely sounding more and more like orders as the hours pass. Dave is able to let it slide, quite easily too. Nathan is harmless, speedy and kind of entitled, sure, but charming in his own way. He’s asking questions, actively listens to the answers Dave gives him, and always ends up with a remark that hits the spot. It’s hard to explain but he feels like he has a friend, a true one. As quick as their meeting was, as uncommon as the situation is, there is honesty and an overall genuine feel to this guy. An instant liking. It’s been a while since he felt this comfortable with someone. It’s welcomed.
Nathan disappears (literally, he just fades out before Dave’s eyes) when his mother’s car parks in the driveway. It’s fine. They had time to cover a lot. Dave stretches quickly and mentally prepares an excuse as to why he’s already home. He doesn’t need a scolding today, he has a life to change.
Watching his mother walk primly to the front door, it’s the hint he needed as to what he should start with. She’s always so proper, so focused on appearances and what she projects. Well, it’s about time his parents, and everyone else, see him. He won’t be like her, not this time.
28 hours later, it’s a whole different story. He’s sitting on the edge of his bed, the room dark and silent. It’s good, for now. He needs the quiet to collect his thoughts and he’s still shaking from the fight. He angrily swipes at the remaining moisture on his cheeks. No, it wasn’t a fight because he never had a chance to win.
It seemed like a viable plan. Just… come out. Plain and simple, during breakfast. No detour or half-truths. A simple “Mom, Dad, I’m gay.” He thought it had worked. Sure, they hadn’t reacted. At all. Just stared and stayed silent. But he took it as a good sign, just the initial shock hitting them, not necessarily in a negative way. After a couple of minutes of only utensils clinking and throats being cleared as noises, he fled the house and headed for school, Nathan being a useful distraction on the way, spewing more and more random thoughts as they go.
Phase 2 was school. It got worse, way worse, fast. He started with Az, pulling him aside before study hall and quietly telling him. The outburst was expected; the brutal shove and jab in the face too. Against all odds, he had imagined a turn of events with an open-minded friend. Being given a second chance, it woke up ridiculous hopes in him, apparently, and he was right to not fully give in to them. Az didn’t reveal himself to be understanding. He turned out to be just the same as when he was outed. Being upfront didn’t change a thing, only accelerated the nightmare.
By lunchtime the news had spread to the entire school and so had the insults. And the shoves, the slushies, the sneers. The graffiti on his car, the slashed tires. He had only one, tiny positive thing happen to him: a commiserated look from Kurt, from a distance in the hallway. He didn’t risk approaching him. Disaster was following him too closely and he couldn’t put Kurt in the midst of it. Yet he resented him. His reasoning was telling him that Kurt didn’t owe him anything; the bullied part of him was screaming for support and a friendly gesture. He knew Kurt had it in him. His visit at the hospital proved it so why couldn’t he do it now, before it was too late? He didn’t ask. After a couple of classes it all got too much and he cut to go back home.
The last straw was waiting for him there. His parents were sitting in the living room, gloomy faces on and brochures in hand. His dad was subdued and distant but his mother was explosive enough for two. He barely had time to say hello before she went off, screaming, ranting. He was stunned and oddly the first thing that went through his mind was that he was wrong, his mother was not always proper. She could be downright vulgar, offensive, and radical.
He couldn’t defend himself. He tried, stood his ground, tried to explain that he didn’t choose to be this way. It only infuriated his mother more and soon she was out of control. She slapped him, hard, across the face but that’s not what broke him. When she threw the glossy, deceptively cheery brochure at his face, going on and on about how he had to go to this place, this “camp”, to be cured, if he was to remain her son, that was too much. The idea of reparative therapy, with the horror stories he had read on the internet, mixed with his mother’s abuse and his dad’s passivity, that’s what turned his panicked breathing into heaving sobs.
He fled as soon as he saw the window to do so. In the safety of his room, he regained some composure. Hearing his mother yell at him through the door, ordering him to pack his bags before going to bed, as he was to leave the next morning, that set him back a little but he pulled through anyway. It was horrible but he could get out of it.
Nathan said this was about fixing his life. This mess, surely it wasn’t his best option. Therefore he just had to sleep and try again tomorrow. Give today another try.
He is still shaken up when he lies down and pulls the comforter over his head. It takes a long time for his ragged breathing to turn calm enough and for him to drift away. There’s bitterness lingering in his mouth and his last thought before falling asleep is that while he has more chances, the failed ones will undoubtedly leave scars.
He’s not far off. As he walks the hallways of McKinley the next day, he is still reeling. Azimio acts his usual jokey/abrasive way, shoving him around and planning more pranks, the same act he’s seen several times. Now he watches it unfold with fear. The threat is everywhere, in the glances of his friends, underneath a remark, inside a pause in the discussion. He’s seen what an untimely revelation could unleash and he was right, it marked him.
If he thought he was paranoid before, it’s nothing compared to now. It’s gnawing inside of him, building a pit of black fear. Darkening his mood, his actions, more and more as the day passes. It comes to a point where it’s all he can feel - stress in his nerves, sweat on his palms, fidgetiness in his eyes. Whatever smidgen of optimism he had last night, that at least he could get other chances, it can’t stand up to the spreading of this dread.
It could very well always end up this way. Can he choose the right life and still be in the closet? How would that be a perfect choice? On the other hand, there is the thought (now pretty much a certainty) that he will not be able to come out in a safe manner, regardless how many times he tries.
On these musings, he sees Kurt far ahead, smiling at his phone. It’s that moment again. Nathan is there too, around the corner, but he goes away as soon as Dave sends him a look to the level with his thoughts. Dave doesn’t want or need his help. He grits his teeth and shoves Kurt, hard. Again. Because today, he won’t choose another road.
Did Kurt change things, when he could? Did he visit, call, ask about him when it could have made a difference? No, just a vague promise he couldn’t back out on fast enough. Why should he be the bigger man this time then? Kurt was the first shove, the one who started his descent. Maybe pushing Kurt as far away as possible is the answer. Maybe making him pay, ensuring they never get close, is the right choice. Because let's face it, Kurt, with his letdowns and the obsession he created within him, has done more hurt than good.
Like right now, when he barges in the locker room with his haughty notions and random insults. Forget what Dave did, how he deserves punishment. This whole ordeal is doing a fantastic job of that. Kurt can shove it; he has it bad enough as it is. But no, he just keeps on, until he goes too far.
“You're gonna hit me? Do it.”
Dave does precisely that. His fist flies and before he even sees it happening and comprehends it, Kurt is lying on the tiled floor, blood gushing from his nose, broken probably. He stares, dumbfounded, eyes fixed on the splatter. It’s suddenly fascinating, how the crimson looks both black and bright red, whether it landed on the lockers or the floor.
When Kurt groans and starts to push himself back up, the last thread of control frays. How does he dare to be so strong, to get over it so easily? How come he gets to have it all, while Dave keeps failing and is a disappointment over and over again? No. This time around, Kurt doesn’t get to win.
A part of him is screaming, begging him to stop but he can’t. He can’t forget the look of revulsion on his mother’s face, how his dad looked so helpless and lost, unable to deal with a son nothing like he imagined. A disappointment. The timelines blur in his head. He can’t forget how Kurt’s father stood by him, tried to understand, never stopped supporting and defending his son, in Figgins’ office - anywhere actually. The contrast is an acrid fuel to his rage and the weak voice of his reason (or his heart, maybe) can’t be heard over the furious fire going on in his head.
Nothing to hold him back. His fists pummel away, sending Kurt slumping to the floor, and they don’t stop there. He kicks, punches blindly, his body barely registering the sting of each blow. It doesn’t hurt to punch Kurt, even when he puts so much power behind his hits that bones crack, lips split, and more blood spurts. He doesn’t see it, really. He just sees his own pain in a more graphic form. It’s not Kurt he’s punching; it’s everything that can’t work out in his life, in himself. He screams at the shapeless form writhing at his feet. Like it could finish purging the anger out, but it doesn’t.
Kurt gives up fighting quickly, his cries fading into broken sobs, after a while just his arms crossed and shakily shielding his face are still holding on. He lurches under Dave’s blows and sometimes a plea comes out of his bloody mouth, unintelligible for the most part. It can’t reach Dave, given how far gone he is. Until one pierces through.
That one reaches him. He freezes, one arm raised, and sees Kurt. Actually sees him, in his beaten and quivering state. Destroyed… by his own hands.
The sight shocks him to his core and a violent heaving cuts his breathing. He takes a step back, almost trips on his own feet. His eyes are transfixed on Kurt, impossible to look away from what he’s done. The tears he didn’t even realize he was shedding are running freely now and he swallows the huge ball of pain in his throat. No. No he didn’t just do that. There’s no way. He couldn’t have.
The scene is too real, too terrible to be a product of his imagination. He’s done this. He looks down, sees the scarlet on his knuckles and the heaving comes close to actual retching. He has to get out of here.
It’s unclear, how he found his way out of the school and to the edge of the main road. His mind is utterly blank, a rest after the horror he just saw, the horror he just did. He walks to the corner of the street and the busy traffic there sparks the urge again.
Funny, how it always comes back to this. Erase yourself. Here, it wouldn’t take much to accomplish that. A couple of steps forward into incoming traffic. His feet are shuffling on the grass lining the road. Itching. Just a couple of steps. So easy. He’s leaning without thought, naturally, only to be pulled back by a sudden and unequivocal tug on his sleeve.
“Let me go!” he yells, trying to yank his arm free. Nathan has a surprisingly strong grip and he can’t break free, no matter what. His freaking angel might be human, but he definitely has supernatural strength. Along with terrible timing.
Out of the corner of his eye he can see a couple of kids shooting him weird looks. A big jock gesturing and protesting wildly, alone? It warrants curiosity. He’s beyond caring at this point.
“David for Christ’s sake stop it! Don’t do this!” Nathan yells in return, shaking him like a leaf.
“Fuck Nathan, no! I can’t take this! I almost killed him, don’t you understand? I can’t deal with this, I can’t fuck up anymore!”
“Don’t YOU get that you can ALWAYS fix it?” Nathan screams. He pulls even harder on Dave’s jacket and makes him turn his way. His voice drops in volume but the severity stays. “Come with me, we can’t talk here.”
“Who the fuck cares? Tomorrow nobody will remember this.” Dave replies.
Nathan raises an eyebrow and relaxes his hold on Dave, however not to the point of letting him go. “Exactly my point. Come.”
Dave lets Nathan drag him, his feet tumbling and getting caught in the uneven grass. They reach his car and get in, Dave still too stunned and angry to react or protest, even as he’s shoved unceremoniously into the driver’s seat. Nathan materializes next to him and keeps on.
“Killing yourself is not the solution. It won't put a stop to this.”
“Why? Why can't these Fates let it go, let me go? How many more times must I ruin it until they have enough?”
“Never. They'll never let you give up. The first time should have taught you that. You can turn it around and they'll make sure you do it.”
Dave groans in frustration. “But it's pointless! I haven't earned it, I'm no one important. I just mess up, over and over. Fix me? Why would anyone want that? I should just remove the source of the problem. It IS a fucking solution.”
“They don't think so. I don't think so. You are worth it, your life is worth it. You can get it right, I know it.”
“Don't you get it? It's not what I do that's the problem, it's who I am. I'm disgusting and I just keep proving it.”
“OK first of all, you’re not disgusting. You’re angry and you let that anger take over, that’s all. Well, you can change that too. You have so much good inside, you just have to let it show.”
“How would you know? You got that from what little time we spent together?”
“Maybe. I do know, that’s what matters. What I want you to understand is that this whole experience is as much about changing your perspective on things as it is about changing events.”
“I can't change this part of me. This anger, I can’t control it.”
“You can. Let go of the guilt and the shame and you will. What happened to you, the original turn of events isn't solely your fault. It isn't Kurt's either. It has a little to do with him, of course, but not one person alone holds the blame. Not even you.”
“I'm serious. You know the saying, about accepting what you can't change and the strength to alter what you can? You should put it to use.”
The next day is a waste. He’s too messed up by the previous one to function, and it’s a stretch to say that he tries anything worthwhile. But he does a lot, in his head. No more dark thoughts, although they still try to force their way in. He chases them with practicality. Plan, analyze, dissect the whole day. Each interaction and setting is examined for its possibilities and impact. Not like he did with Nathan before. This time it’s more thorough and he evens grades the situations according to their potential in ripple effect and how he can control himself in them.
One talent this Nathan guy has, it’s being sneakily persuasive. Without much insistence, he’s convinced Dave to actually assess things first and use them accordingly. There’s no point in trying to change the immutable, but some situations are not set in stone. Like how his confrontation with Kurt goes. It exploded last time, but he’s starting to think it doesn’t need to be a battle.
He often wished it didn’t have to be. Kurt, after all, was an enemy by social standards only. Personally, he had no qualms with the guy - far from it. Kurt, after all, was the most interesting person in school, the only guy he’s ever seen be so proud of himself, of his intelligence, and personality. Regardless of his attraction, those qualities alone would have been enough to justify his interest, but he wasn’t allowed to befriend him. Jocks and glee kids couldn’t mix. Sure, Finn and Puck pulled it off, but he didn’t have their talent as the same excuse. His reasons for wanting to get closer were reprehensible, according to pretty much everyone, so he shut them off, along with any kind of relationship Kurt. He wouldn’t have known where to start, honestly, but he wanted to. Still did, and he can actually do something about it.
The previous cycles has made him weary. For the better part of the day, he merely stalks, trying to find the perfect opportunity to approach him. There’s always an impediment, a friend talking to Kurt, one of his teammates too close. It’s too risky, but the hours fritter away and he’s not going to waste another repeat. Kurt could be the way out. He won’t wait too long to find out if it’s true.
A window is offered when Kurt falls behind his crowd after lunch, walking leisurely while looking at his phone. Blaine again, surely.
He stifles the annoyed groan and walks briskly behind Kurt, getting close enough to gently steer him into a corner of the hallway. Kurt yelps in protest, but he doesn’t let him finish. He has to say it, right now.
“Don't go to Dalton. Not today, not ever. Just don't, OK?”
“How do you know about… And why should I obey a bully like you in the first place?” Kurt sneers.
“Listen Hum-Kurt, this isn't about orders and shit, this is only for you and your own good, in the end.”
Not completely. No Dalton means no Blaine, no worthless boyfriend for Kurt, no pain from being humiliated, unsupported and eclipsed, true. It also means a clear path for Dave to make his move, in time. So it's partly selfish, with good, generous basis. Yes. That's it.
“You still haven't answered me. How do you know about Dalton?” Kurt’s voice is demanding an immediate answer.
Damn it. He didn’t think this through. How would he know about the academy so early, not being involved with the Glee club or having met Blaine yet?
“I overheard Mr. Schuester talk about them when I passed his office,” he explains hastily. They're your rivals for Sectionals, right? You shouldn’t mix with them.”
Kurt crosses his arms in defiance. “Frankly Karofsky, that’s none of your business.”
“Trust me, it is.”
“Trust you? Never in a million years!”
The retort is almost hissed but he keeps it low enough as not to raise suspicion. As if he’s ashamed of talking to Dave in public and doesn’t want anyone to pick up on it. It stings and it’s humiliating, again. He pushes through it, swallows the anger and lets it slide down his throat and disappear. Not today.
“Please Kurt. I swear to you, I'm only looking out for you here.”
The plea seems to weigh more significantly in Kurt's eyes, who stays silent for a few seconds before nodding and walking away briskly. Before he gets too far, Dave grabs his wrist, as gently as he can and stops him.
“Can you meet me after school, in the locker room?” A part of him wishes the question wouldn’t sound so urgent, so vital but it is and damn it, enough with the charades. He’s ready to lay it all on the line. He just needs Kurt on board.
“Look Karofsky, agreeing to your weird request is one thing. Knowingly walking head first into such an obvious trap is another. You probably have the whole goon squad on standby, I bet. No way am I doing this.”
“Come on Kurt, I'm trying here. I promise you, there's no hidden agenda. I just want to talk to you in private. I'll be alone, there's no football practice today. You can ask Finn and Puckerman.”
“Let me go.”
Immediately Dave's hand drops. Kurt looks him up and down, as if there could be a clue as to how sincere he is somewhere on his body. He reaffirms his grip on the strap of his bag and meets Dave's eyes with a cold stare.
“Maybe. I'm not promising anything. Goodbye Karofsky.”
He spins around. Dave can't help himself.
It works, because Kurt looks at him over his shoulder, with a puzzled look. “What?”
“Call me David, if it's OK with you,” he says softly.
Squinting, Kurt nods again, sharply. “Fine. David.”
He leaves Dave alone in the hallway. Dave, who is irrationally happy. He has no guarantee Kurt will actually meet him, yet he’s hopeful. Compared to all the other repetitions, this went incredibly well. He allows himself a minute to watch Kurt walk away before turning and running to his locker. Better not be late to class. He can’t afford detention, not today.
Luckily, he only waits for a couple of minutes in the deserted locker room. Still, it’s enough time to cause some damage. The second he’s in the room, it starts. He rehashes dark thoughts, of the distant and recent past, paces nervously the tiny corridor between the bench and the lockers and is one too frantic breath away from panicking and leaving when the door gets pushed with precaution and Kurt steps in.
“I'm here, what do you want?”
“I'm in love with you.”
He hadn't intended to blurt that out. At least not as his opening line. Not that there was any fantastic way to start off this conversation but he could have gone with something a little less… Provocative. There’s no going back, not with Kurt’s startled expression. Then it hits him. He hasn’t left, hasn’t started to yell at him. He hasn’t said a word actually. All in all, it’s encouraging.
So he explains why he loves him. It's arduous, many times words and expressions evade him. How do you say these things, make them comprehensible? He has barely acknowledged his feelings to himself. They're barely buds, passion in its infancy.
He used to call it a crush, at first. Then it was an obsession, kept away (hidden, covered with shame and anger). Then merely inappropriate feelings for someone who was friendlier than everyone else.
The repetitions cleared it all up. It all melded into... Love. Because this day, the way he feels about Kurt is everything: what has been, what is fantasy, what is present or a future he can almost touch. It doesn’t matter if it ever ends or how it does end. Those cycles have taught him more than he could have hoped. Even when he took it all out on him, it was still there, the feelings he had realized but never revealed as he should have. Those feelings made him worse, made him better. They made him who he is. Letting Kurt know could be the way. It’s just a matter of conveying what he knows, make Kurt understand, even if he barely does so himself.
“Don’t freak out, please.” He’s begging and he’s shameless about it. Too much at stake to bother with pride. His hands reach out and brush against Kurt’s wrists. Kurt, who, for some reason, is not moving away. Maybe it’s the shock because he doubts he’s already convinced him to trust him. But he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, fully.
With great caution, he lets his fingers roam upwards, sliding on the soft fabric of Kurt’s jacket. He can feel him tremble slightly under his touch. It’s impossible to say if it’s fear or something else. Kurt’s face is flushed, his breathing irregular and loud and Dave mirrors him, he knows it. Doesn’t mean the reason behind it is the same. He keeps on, despite the doubt, and leans forward very slowly. He stops a mere inch away from Kurt’s face, lets a couple of breaths come and go, while Kurt seems only able to gasp small intakes of air.
He doesn’t want to force him. Not this time, not when he can control himself and the situation. It’s about making it right, isn’t it? Then it’s also about making their first kiss the best one possible.
His hand ends its travel on Kurt’s cheek, fluttering, not quite cupping it. The tension is making it tremble, makes all of him shake, even his voice.
“I want to kiss you, Kurt,” he whispers. His eyes are fixed on the plump lips, so close, so fucking close. Don’t. Not without his consent. He might have stopped talking but his mind is screaming at him, keeping him in line.
“David, I…” Kurt stammers. Instinctively Dave’s thumb starts stroking the soft and warm skin of his cheek. It doesn’t have the desired effect, instead of calming Kurt it just makes him jerk his head down and away and stare at the ground. “What am I supposed to say to that? You unload these revelations on me and what? I’m to believe you right off the bat, wipe the slate clean based only on your word that the thug who tormented me wasn’t the real you?”
Low, harshly spoken words that hit home. They are still almost in each other’s arms, still panting slightly from the heaviness of the situation, but the mood is shifting. He can feel his chance slip away, his words losing all power. A surge of determination courses through him. He can’t let it happen. He’s come too far.
“I just need you to believe that we can… Start over. Be more. Be better. I know we can, and it’s what I want.”
His hand slides down and molds around the jawline of Kurt. He’s not pushing him, he just waits for Kurt to follow the hint and tilt his head up. Once he’s got his eyes locked with his, he can continue. There is no point trying to convince Kurt with more explanations at this point.
It always comes back to this point: act. React to the situation, do something, out of instinct and true feelings. Because actions speak louder than words, he should show him. Not with a rushed and messy kiss but with one that can convey the vastness of what he feels for him.
“OK then. Show me.” Kurt drops. His voice is strong, unwavering. Unsettling. Can it be that Kurt shares his line of thought? He doesn’t dare speak, move, or even breathe. For once, he wants to let it play out, make sure he’s heard it right before he does anything. Make it or break it, he wants Kurt to choose.
“I must have gone mad but whatever. You’re saying you love me, that you just couldn’t make it known and you want to change it. Prove it, now.”
He’s not kidding. Dave can replay the speech in his head as much as he wants, there’s no other way to hear it. Kurt is asking him to kiss him.
His hands finally start moving. Trepidation is hard to contain, now that he has permission. It shows in the clumsy, feathery touch of his fingers, reaching up to caress Kurt’s hair. It’s a little thicker than he expected and it makes him smile. A discreet chuckle escapes him as the touch turns into a delicate stroking and he leans forward. Not a lot, not enough to bring their lips together, just so that they are a mere centimeter apart.
He can feel the copper strands gliding around his fingertips, can smell the damp, slightly sweet breath from Kurt’s mouth on his and never before has he been happier about the fact that this whole mess is not a dream but a reality. It’s real. Real. Were it not the fact that it’s the best realization he’s ever had, he would freak out but he’s enjoying it too much to let it bother him.
He could close the distance, make it even better, finally take what he’s always wanted. That’s it though, he doesn’t want to take it. So he waits, one second, two seconds. Counting the lifetimes between each exhale that mingles in the tiny space separating them. He waits, hopes and it finally happens. Kurt lets out one last breath, an exasperated one, and plunges.
Their lips collide, more messily that he’d like it but does it matter? Kurt is kissing him, of his own free will. Kurt is the one pressing himself against his body and whose hands are suddenly gripping the back of his jacket. He breathes in deeply, takes it all in. It’s almost too much to register - the warmth, the excitement. He’s known the sensation of Kurt’s lips on his own for a while now but never like this. Having him being responsive, every nip and soft bite returned with fervor, it’s utterly amazing. So much that it takes him a few seconds to fully participate. Once he does, it grows into an experience beyond his wildest fantasies. He has Kurt’s face cradled in his hands, not forcefully like before, but with precaution. The pad of his fingers barely rest on Kurt’s cheeks, occasionally rubbing tiny circles on the burning skin he finds there.
It’s just the beginning. Soon hands cannot remain in place and what was simply lips getting acquainted, frantically but still somewhat chastely turns into more. Dave gets bolder first. Darting his tongue out and seeking Kurt’s at the first opportunity. They tangle and mingle without a precise design, responding solely to desire. Kurt utters a muffled moan, making Dave smile against his mouth. He pulls off, not really breaking the kiss but only moving it to Kurt’s jaw, then his neck before settling on the sweet spot of his collarbone, one hand keeping the shirt out of the way. He kisses it avidly, earning whimpers and erratic gasps from Kurt.
“Believe it Kurt, believe me now,” he whispers on the reddening skin. “Damn, I loved you for so long. Wanted this, you, for so long.”
“God, David…” Kurt breathes out. He pulls on the fabric of the jacket and Dave stops at once. Maybe he got carried away. Maybe this is not as pleasurable for Kurt as he might think.
Kurt takes a step back. Kurt’s eyes are searching for Dave’s flickering ones. He doesn’t want to look at him. He dreads going back to disappointment, so soon.
With a restrained sigh, he looks up. What he sees takes what little breath he has left away. Kurt‘s face is flushed, shiny and beaming. Gorgeous. Happy. God, he wasn’t imagining anything.
“You’ve hidden this, all this time?” Kurt whispers.
Dave shrugs. “I had to. I thought it was too late. Once you go down one road, it’s hard to change lanes.” There is a pause that could be scary, except Dave’s hands are subtly caressing and Kurt’s are still holding on to him. Wordless promises that more is to come.
Kurt bites his lip, blushes an even deeper crimson. “I know what you mean. Don’t you wish you could change it from the beginning, sometimes?”
Dave grins, takes in the sight of an embarrassed Kurt. “You bet.”
He’s changing it right now. OK, Kurt is doing it too, more than he is even, because he’s still a little bit startled and passive, while Kurt is kneading his jacket between his fingers with impatience. Kurt is the one who pulls him back in. It’s thanks to Kurt that Dave gets to taste his skin once more, gets to latch on his neck, sucking and gently biting at his leisure.
“It makes no sense but, ooh… I don’t know… damn… what you’re doing to me but…”
It’s elating, hearing such ramblings, being the cause of it. He could be smug about it.
Later. There are more pressing tasks at hand, like running his tongue along the expanse of skin that Kurt’s thrown-back head reveal. He concentrates on the delicious spot behind his ear and licks precise patterns there. It gives him goose bumps to rival Kurt’s. It’s not enough.
His arms drop and circle Kurt’s entire frame, pressing him impossibly close to his own. It’s his turn to let his mouth run freely.
“You’re it, Kurt.” It’s half-moan, half-musing and his breath dampens the skin his lips are teasing. “You’re the key, I’m sure of it. You’ll make it stop. Fuck, you will fix this. You’re already fixing it.”
“What… What are you talking about? Whoa…”
With a soft bite, Dave doesn’t let him finish. What he didn’t expect was to have Kurt hang on to him for dear life and simultaneously leaning so strongly on him that he has to step back, stumble actually.
His knees hit the bench behind him, he falls and sits abruptly. He never intended to let Kurt go, so he’s being dragged as well. He rests heavily against Dave, hands on his shoulders and grasping with an almost painful grip. When he looks up and sees how troubled Kurt is, all shivers and eyes closed tight, he can’t control himself anymore.
He’s seen Kurt this way before. Shaken and vulnerable. He used to take advantage of this state, in the worst way. It makes his stomach churn, remembering this, he counters it with telling himself that this time, it’s desire that is the cause and not fear. It’s doesn’t quell the sickening feeling enough. His hands will try to finish pushing it away, by roaming with a newfound determination over Kurt’s body. They flutter up against the jacket, slide it off his shoulders with great care, insert themselves under the thin shirt and palm the delicate skin. Each stroke is heartfelt but careful, until the shirt goes over Kurt’s shoulder and falls silently on the ground. The unforgiving light of the fluorescents show every small bruises on his sides in a harsh way. Blue and pale yellow spots on his ribs, the remnants of many body checks he did. He brushes them with just the tip of his fingers, like an apology, before running his mouth over the flexing skin of Kurt’s stomach, his hands sliding to hold on the trim waist.
It’s impossible not to get lost in the scent and texture there. He doesn’t try either, lapping away with recklessness. He’s so lost, in fact, that it takes a full minute for him to realize that Kurt is not squirming against him just because of his ministrations but also because he’s trying to yank Dave’s shirt off.
Dave pulls away, breathless, and lifts his arms to let Kurt undress him. There’s an awkward pause when their eyes meet. Such a weird setup. Kurt chewing on his lip, his torso glistening, Dave chuckling under his breath, quickly looking away and hunching forward. He certainly didn’t plan this and the word “chubby” is starting to roll around in his head, killing the confidence he’s just built, making his laugh die in his throat.
“What’s-wrong?” Kurt asks. He’s still catching his breath and damn it the chopped question fuels him. Fast and hard.
“Is… Is this OK?” Dave says, glancing down at his naked chest.
Kurt laughs and pushes him down, eagerly straddling him and gliding his hands up to rest on Dave’s pecs. “Well, it’s certainly not wise but yeah, it’s OK. More than OK,” he replies with a pleased tone, running feather-like fingers through the sparse hair covering Dave’s chest.
They share a smile, like a secret, and it stays on when Kurt leans forward and kisses Dave. It’s less rushed, more languid. Kurt is breathing deeply, breathing Dave in, it seems. He lets him, mirrors him with wandering hands and deep respirations.
It feels right, to take his time, to taste every corner of Kurt’s mouth and to relish the same invasion of his. But his hardening cock and the burning in his body demand more. He rocks upward experimentally and isn’t that interesting, a sizeable erection meets his. He repeats the motion, eager for more but incapable of voicing it. It blows his mind when Kurt actually presses down and increases the friction. He moans messily into Kurt’s mouth, increases his grip on Kurt’s hips. There’s so much that he wants but all the encouragement would not entice him to press things forward any more. An infuriating battle, between the lust (love) and the fear. He sighs and brings one hand behind Kurt’s head, holding him closer as he ravages his mouth. Somehow this he is comfortable with, has no issue with. But having Kurt splayed on him awakens him and makes him wish he was braver. Or stupider, depending on how one could see it.
Luckily he doesn’t have to ponder the problem for long. Kurt has no such qualms and what was just a couple of random thrusts becomes a meaningful movement that gains rhythm. Soon Kurt lets go of Dave’s lips and simply buries his face in Dave’s neck, breathing heavily against the skin. Hips rock in unison, lulling the words Kurt says, a melody half missed in the midst of pants and moans.
“Gonna regret this tomorrow… but… ungh… your touch… feeling you under me… Fuck touch me David. Go on.”
Kurt presses his lips, almost desperately hard, in Dave’s collar bone. Dave groans, head swimming but he heard it. He still can’t be direct but his hold lowers and he grabs Kurt’s ass, palming the cheeks. He doesn’t expect an extraordinary reaction but he also wasn’t prepared for a sigh of exasperation and Kurt pulling away from him. He’s still straddling him and he can’t help but salivate at the sight of a disheveled, sweaty Kurt. Even with the frown on his face it’s a furiously arousing sight.
What kills him comes next. Kurt grabbing his hand unequivocally and shoving it against his shorts. His fingers bump against the rigid length hiding there, curl naturally around it. He gives it a tentative tug, not very effective with the fabric in the way. He switch to an open handed rubbing motion and bites back a smile when Kurt arches his back and lets out a satisfied sigh.
“Yes, fuck yes.” Kurt hisses.
Three simple words that shoot his confidence through the roof. He’s making Kurt blush, harden and undulate against him, he’s even making him swear in that good way. He presses harder, his fingertips grazing the tip that protrudes.
“David, now you’re just teasing…”
Kurt gasps after a particularly adequate stroke from Dave. He opens his eyes, looks down at Dave and smiles. “Yes.”
In one fluid motion, Kurt swings his legs over the bench, gets up and shimmies out of his pants. Dave has one second to swallow down the fact that yes, Kurt goes commando, before he has nimble fingers at work on his zipper and buttons, sliding it down and pulling on his pants. He gets the presence of mind to help by kicking his shoes off, just in time for the jeans to slip off. His boxers fly off just as quickly and Kurt is back on him, this time skin on skin. Kurt’s is cool, his boots even cooler against his shins but where their hips meet, fire.
He close his arms around Kurt, holds him gingerly but securely also. He’s not letting him go, yet he’s unsure, now that he’s got him, what he’s supposed to do. Kurt tenses against him and pushes up lining their faces and staring deep into him. “What’s wrong?” he asks.
Dave stares back, tangles a hand in Kurt’s hair while he examine the expression in his eyes. There’s so much heat there. How can he have doubts, or insecurities now? He rolls his hips, brings Kurt’s lips back on his and kisses him deeply. Kurt sighs and kisses back.
Nothing at all. Nothing’s wrong.
He’ll figure it out. They’ll figure it out actually, because even if Kurt is more audacious, his moves have the same underlying clumsiness. He runs his hands over as much skin as they can reach, they explore as if they want to cartography him but don’t really have a goal.
It doesn’t matter, instinct takes over. Their hips get in motion, more and more frantically; their mouths get sloppy and avid. That’s all that’s needed. He doesn’t have to think any more, couldn’t if he wanted to. They’re pressed close, he can smell and taste the arousal in the sweat on Kurt’s neck (fast becoming his favorite spot to lick). It’s happening and he knows Kurt is finding out what to do just as fast as he is. He gets the confirmation when Kurt shifts lightly and slides a hand between them.
If he thought just the natural pressure and friction they were creating was heady, it pales in comparison of having Kurt’s long fingers gripping them both, tightly, and stroking them. He wastes no time, jerking hard and fast, twisting every now and then. It grows to be too much, very soon.
“Ku-Kurt, it’s… whoa fuck, you…”
“I know, David… God.”
“I’m not gonna last…”
Kurt smiles against his skin, his face glued on Dave’s shoulder, hand moving ever faster.
Dave gasps when Kurt’s grasp gets just so… Perfect. He thrusts upward, as if he could get more friction. Kurt lets go and Dave whimpers in protest, until he feels Kurt’s hands get underneath him and push him up. That’s it. Their cocks lined, the leaking precum, the eager thrusts, aided by Kurt’s pull only, at first, then by Dave’s tight grip on Kurt’s ass.
It’s a concert of moans and approvals that goes on for a mere minute, before the world explodes behind Dave’s eyelids and he spills, quickly followed by Kurt. They don’t bother to move, until the come between them becomes uncomfortable, the sweat cold and the leather of Kurt’s boots itchy on Dave’s skin.
Dave releases Kurt delicately, letting him get up as he can. Now that the high has dissipated, the less pleasant details of the situation become clearer, like the imprint the wooden bench has left in his back. He sits up, rolling his shoulder and stretching while Kurt walks towards the showers, grabbing a couple of towels on the way. Dave twists his head around. He can’t help but admire the view of a marked, naked Kurt in front of him. Kurt swiftly wipes away the remnants of their session with the wet towel and dumps it in the hamper before bringing another one to Dave.
“Here,” he says in a low voice, before turning away and getting dressed again. Dave thanks him and cleans up, occasionally looking back at Kurt. He’s putting himself back together awfully quick, Dave has trouble keeping up. He has to, because this is reality.
It’s incredibly difficult, letting Kurt go. Having him in his arms was more addictive that he could have ever imagined. But reason and curfew win, in the end. Once he’s presentable again, he pulls Kurt to him and after one last kiss, he lets him walk away and leave the locker room. Kurt doesn’t look back at him, in fact he’s been quiet and subdued from the moment he got dressed again. It can be worrying but no, it’s okay. Actually, the world could end right now and he wouldn’t care. Because the taste of Kurt is still in his mouth, the feeling of him everywhere on his body is still acute; pleasant. The scent of Kurt still permeates his own skin. That’s more than he ever dreamed of and he can live with just that for now.
Nathan is waiting for him near his car. He just shakes his head with a happy smile and Nathan gets it, letting him leave the school grounds. The rest of the day is barely worth the (very small amount of) attention he pays to it. It’s a cliché but he can’t recall what he does once he gets home. It’s just a blissful blur, until he falls in bed and dives under his covers. Not escaping this time around, he just wants the privacy to relive today, properly. A warm cocoon; a dark capsule. His own theater. At some point during the evening the combination of heated images playing back in his head and too comfortable settings lull him into a deep slumber. The smile on his face never fades.
“I hurt myself, today.”
Dear God, no. No! This can’t be. This day was it, the fucking one. It had to be the right one.
Yet it’s not, because Johnny Cash is still lamenting. It’s the same fucking parade, over and over again. Shower, breakfast, reprimands, out the door. He has to fight tears through it all.
Nathan is leaning against his car, eyes down like he knows the shit storm that’s coming. Dave just mutters a quiet “get in.” and doesn’t spare him a look. Nathan obeys silently and slouches on the passenger seat with a somber look.
The drive to school is quiet at first, until Nathan peers at him from under his eyelids and cautiously asks him what’s going on.
That’s the last straw. With a violent twist Dave swerves the car on the shoulder of the road and pulls the parking brake so hard both Nathan and him nearly hit the dashboard because of the abrupt stop.
“What’s going on? I’ll tell you what the fuck is going on! This whole test of yours is bullshit, that’s what’s going on!” Dave yells. He can hear the trembling in the back of his throat, tinting his voice with a desperation that negates the aggression. Nathan bits his lip and pales but his eyes show no fear. The lump is back and he almost chokes on the next words.
“I'm tired of this! I have tried EVERYTHING and I'm still stuck. How come this last one didn't work? I was with Kurt, it was fucking amazing but it's still not what I was supposed to do? If breaking this loop means choosing a fate without him, something not as great as this was, then I don't want any of it.”
He can’t look at him anymore and he turns away. Nathan seems to wait just to be sure he’s done before attempting a reply.
“It's not necessarily one or the other. I’m pretty sure you just went too far too soon. You weren’t supposed to get with him so early,” he explains. For once he talks slowly. It’s not helpful, rather patronizing instead.
“What, I shouldn't have had sex with him, just kissed him? That's not very different from the original path.”
Nathan groans and shakes his head. “No, I meant that they expect you to make a change but it doesn’t necessarily have to do with Kurt directly. If you fix your life, the rest will fall into place in good time.” A frown darkens his face and he shudders. “Also ewww, TMI man. I will help you out but what you and Kurt do when you guys are alone, I don't want to know.”
Dave lets out a dark, dry chuckle and runs a hand on his nape. “Sorry man, I got carried away,” he mumbles. He looks up, with suddenly more honesty in his eyes and voice. “It’s just, it’s all getting to me. It’s one step forward, two steps back and I can’t figure out how to make it work for good.”
“I know, trust me David I know and I’m sorry it’s so hard for you.” he says softly. “I wish I could help you more but it’s complicated. Like I told you, I know the ending, just not how to get there specifically.”
Dave looks up from the wheel and meet Nathan’s pensive gaze. They seem to share the same almost-desperation for a second, then Nathan squints knowingly. “I might have an idea,” he says. “I think you go too big. I think it’s like this theory, about the butterfly effect: small changes can have the biggest results. Don’t make everything perfect or complete today, just make it a little bit better. See what happens.”
Study hall, once more. He puts on his headphones like he usually does but this time he doesn’t really hear the lyrics or even the music, just Nathan’s voice in his head. Smaller changes. Smaller changes. What the fuck can they be? After so many cycles, what is left to try? He went big, went small, did nothing, did everything. Always a crappy outcome or one that wasn’t satisfying for stupid deities. Or supernatural beings, whatever they are.
As pissed off as he is, the advice (or maybe subtle directive) stays in his mind, guides his steps throughout the day. Baby steps. They might be the answer after all, so he gives them a try. Many.
When he encounters Kurt in the hallway and sees him dropping his books, he doesn’t laugh with his friends. He makes them stop, picks up the novel that slid his way and hands it back to Kurt with the smallest of smiles. No words, it feels too soon and unnecessary.
In his classes, he makes a conscious effort to concentrate. His notes since the beginning of the year are a reflection of his mental state, unclear, incomplete. He puts the lulls during each period to good use and organizes each subject, clarifies the notes and makes them usable.
During lunchtime, he doesn’t shy away from the welcoming smile Miss Pillsbury sends him as he passes her office. Instead, he comes in and, despite a fear and reluctance that tie his throat with a tight know, asks her for an appointment later in the week.
He leaves school with a smile on his face, not a forced one either. His car almost rears Kurt’s when he pulls out of his parking space, with a friendly gesture he signals him to go ahead of him. Kurt nods and despite the frown he’s wearing (of course Dave being civil towards him is still impossible to understand) smiles back. OK it’s minuscule and weird but it counts.
Still smiling, Dave drives back home. He’s looking forward to the evening, for once. A plan has started to form in his head, ideas popping here and there, about his parents and how to deal with them. Obviously coming out right away was a mistake (he shudders at the memory of his mother’s disgusted face) but he could always… Pave the road? Try to discuss the topic in a general way, open their minds gradually. It’s worth a try.
His foot presses down on the accelerator and his grip tightens on the wheel. He’s actually excited about going home, about his plans. When was the last time he looked forward to something? He can’t recall. A pleased smile stretches across his face. Yes, it’s a wonderful feeling. Fulfilling too. There’s an undeniable appeal in working towards an objective, being in control, accountable and having the prospect of good results soon. Every step he took today felt like chipping away at the heavy load he’s been carrying since… forever.
He keeps this feeling in mind for the rest of the day. It helps tempering his frustration when the conversation at dinner becomes a heated debate. His arguments don’t fall into receptive ears but he still has the impression that he managed to breach the intolerance of his mother. Unwilling to push his luck, he lets the subject drop after a while and ends up going upstairs early. He catches a glimpse of Nathan, standing underneath his window on the dewy grass and gives him a quick thumbs up before closing the blinds. He doesn’t need to say more.
There wasn’t any earth-shattering revelation, no epiphany. He goes to bed and his life is pretty much the same. Except he feels satisfied, at peace with who he is, and what he’s done. It’s not fixed, he’s not fixed. But it’s in motion and that’s hope enough to let him fall asleep easily.
No music. No haunting lyrics. What makes him open his eyes is simply the warm touch of the sunrays on his eyelids. He does so ever so slowly. Too many times he’s had to wake up to an infuriating nightmare, he’s grown wary. Sure, the absence of his ringtone blaring is a good sign nevertheless he prefers delaying relief, out of caution.
With a quick look around, he lets it flood him. Finally. His room is back to normal, albeit with a twist. There is no trace of his junior year stuff, so he knows he’s not in a repeat, but it’s not the same room he entered with desperate intentions either. This version is a mess, a beautiful one. It has pictures stuck on the walls, everywhere. It has college brochures in a precarious pile on his desk. It has different clothing, dress pants and quality shirts, thrown everywhere. No depressing order or worrying cleanliness, all he can see is what his room used to look like, before he became a confused shadow of himself and it started to reflect on his surroundings.
He gets up with precaution, ears primed to pick up any more indications that the cycle is really over. There is no sound of his mother fixing up breakfast or of his father taking his shower like there was, the past hundred days (it seemed that many). It could be over. Only one way to be sure.
Kicking the covers aside, he shuffles around for a shirt to put on and steps outside his room. Still out there, nothing seems like the day. He hurtles down the stairs, in one swift move opens the front door and sure enough, Nathan is there. Beaming and almost jumping up and down with excitement. He barely has time to echo his expression with a smile of his own before Nathan leaps and engulfs him in a tangled hug.
“You did it Dave! You totally did it!”
A stunned Dave laughs in reply before politely detaching himself from Nathan’s grip.
The younger boy actually jumps a few times and it’s so weirdly adorable Dave lets him. Anyway, he’s home alone and the embarrassment is lost on his friend, apparently so no harm done. He has a million questions but he’s letting Nathan express what he’s feeling himself as well, only he does it way more outwardly than Dave.
Once Nathan has calmed down and is just randomly slapping Dave on the shoulder in congratulations, he nods towards the kitchen and both head in this direction. He still hasn’t found his voice back. It takes a minute, once he’s taken a seat at the table, to be able to start asking for information beyond the obvious: it’s over and he’s back to June 5th, 2012. A new one.
He clears his throat a couple of times, feeling a bit stuffy all of a sudden. “So, what now? Life just goes on?”
Nathan sits on the chair next to Dave, staring at his folded hands. He’s still pink from excitement and his voice is faster than ever. “Not exactly. Today will be a day of transition, one very confusing day. You'll gradually forget all that happened. The cycles, the failed attempts, your previous life between the first try and today, even me, everything will be flushed out of your memory. I'll go through the same thing myself and eventually... Disappear into my own life? That's how they put it anyway.” he explains.
“Oh.” It’s both expected and a dampening surprise. “That... Kinda sucks man. You're all right, you know. Putting up with me and my moods, sticking around and helping, that was very nice of you. I'm sorry I was such a jerk sometimes.”
“It's fine, it comes with the job. I anticipated this kind of trouble too. But you know, this David person is pretty awesome, even with the anger management problem and all. I'm glad I got to meet him.”
“Thanks. I'm grateful you were there. I would have gone mad, doing this trip on my own. And now it’s done.”
He pauses, drinking in the calm and peace of his house. Who would have thought that happiness could be this tangible, invading? It goes beyond the pictures hanging on the wall, the note from his mother on the fridge, the cashmere sweater (Kurt’s, undoubtedly) forgotten on the back of the chair. It’s a change in the air, easiness in the atmosphere, something he feels deep down, to his bones. It’s a weight he no longer carries. It’s the knowledge that he fills his own skin, fully yet without force. It’s being certain that he’s himself, his best self, and that people around him accept him and support him. At last. The right place, the right time. The right life.
“I… It’s so great. Just this, right now. It’s like… I don’t know what happened to make it so but just how I feel, this instant. It’s freaking fantastic actually.”
Nathan chuckles. “Yeah, it is, definitely.”
Dave smiles, letting the moment wash over him. Already crumbles of the past year and a half are starting to get put together, a random mosaic in his mind. It’s not unsettling or messy, just a puzzle slowly solving itself and he’s watching it getting closer to a complete picture.
“It’s happening, isn’t it?” Nathan asks with caution.
“I guess so. It’s nice.” Dave replies under his breath.
“You want some help filling in the blanks? Speed it up?”
“I’m not sure, this is quite fine. Maybe just like… skip to the major points? So I know what to look forward to? The details can wait.”
Nathan nods, sits a little straighter. It takes a few seconds for him to start. Dave guesses he wants to separate the important from the unnecessary.
“OK. So you finished high school without trouble, graduated among the top of the class. You came out to your parents last summer and it went fairly well. You had prepared them enough and while your mom still struggled with it, she ended up backing you. Oh and you got into Columbia!”
“Yeah. They only gave you a partial football scholarship but you will manage.”
He’s almost afraid to ask. Something tells him there’s nothing to fear and it’s enough of a push.
“What about Kurt?”
Nathan grins and shoves him playfully. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist.” He stops, eyes sparkling and lips twitching. “He got into NYADA.”
“My turn: This is NOT what I meant!” Dave protests.
Nathan rolls his eyes and scoffs. “Pfff, fine. You’re friends. Very good friends actually.”
That’s it? Dave’s face falls a little. Disappointment was not supposed to happen at this point.
“Oh my God don’t be so dramatic!” Nathan exclaims. He leans forward as if he needs to say this in real confidence. “You know that weird state when two people are close but everyone can see that there’s more and even they know it but just won’t act on it yet? OK, maybe you don’t know but anyway. That’s Kurt and you.” A flick of the hand and he pulls back, sitting more comfortably on the chair. “Be patient. Or proactive maybe, whatever,” he says.
Dave squints. Something in Nathan’s eyes tell him it matters more to him than what his casual tone implies. He’s about to probe the question further when he notices the boy in front of him is getting… Fuzzy? Like the edges of him are unclear and dissolving into the space around him.
Nathan looks down, sees his hand barely contrasting with the surface of the counter underneath it. “This is it, I think. Man, it's so weird, I can feel myself fading away. It's... Different from what I expected.”
Dave looks away and doesn’t comment. There’s not much to say, he’s learned that he can’t control this part of the experience. He likes this new friend he’s made but he also knew this relationship had an expiration date. He might as well let it go quietly, it could make it easier. Nathan doesn’t seem to think so, because he’s still chattering. Dave misses the first few sentences (more advice probably) but a more excited mention of his name catches his attention and he looks at him again, interested.
“One last thing. They won't mind me telling you, now that everything is as it should be. Anyway you’ll forget it in a few minutes or so.”
Nathan smiles, differently. It’s almost bashful. “Remember when I told you I was your angel? Well, I really am. This is what you call me. My full name is Nathan Hummel-Karofsky but you always call me your angel.”
“So good-bye, Dav- Dad. I’ll see you soon.”
He waves at Dave, the movement almost invisible at the rate he’s disappearing. It’s kind of awkward too and it makes Dave’s heart clench. He wants to leap forward, hug the hell out this guy who pretty much saved his life and turned out to be his whole future. Kurt’s future with him.
Kurt. He has a life with him. A son. God, he will be a father. It’s finally sinking in and the thought, with all its ramifications and meanings, almost makes him pass out. Instead of reaching for Nathan like he has planned to, his hand grabs the back of the chair, stabilizing him just in time. His vision grows dim; he shakes his head and takes his eyes off the silhouette, just for a second. That’s it. When he looks again, there’s nothing in front of him, nobody else in the kitchen. No trace of Nathan.
It should upset him. There was yet so much to discuss, so many questions to ask. To think he could have spent time with his son, precious, irreplaceable moments… Getting to know him with a purpose, not just as someone who could be of use to him. He shakes it off quickly, realizing how pointless it is. He said it. He’s going to forget it all very soon. Regret will not linger, just like the knowledge he would have gained.
The silence, incredibly obvious since Nathan has left, wraps around him. Not heavily. It floats freely, light, and sweeps a smile over Dave’s face. He breaks it gently, with a slight, amazed chuckle.
Surreal. Memories are seeping out at a fast pace now, replaced with new, heart-warming ones. His last birthday, a nice dinner with his parents and his grandfather at the Chinese place he likes so much. He laughs again, tickled by a new image of Kurt and him joking around while playing Mario Kart. Kurt smiling at him, freely. Kurt blushing as he wipes a crumb from the corner of his mouth that Dave pointed out. He’s starting to get Nathan’s meaning, about their relationship and his world in general. It’s like his old life is being diluted by the new one, to the point where he can barely taste it.
There’s only one memory he wants to keep, even if he’s just been told that he can’t. It would be as pointless as trying to keep water from slipping through his fingers. He holds on to every detail he can recall about Nathan: his smile, his voice, his weird posture (he must remember to tell him to sit up straight). He stares at the spot he was in last, reminiscing, for minutes that fly by too quickly.
He looks out the window. Oh, just a car backfiring. Mr Stevens should really get that exhaust pipe fixed. He shakes his head and his eyes seem to naturally go back to the other side of the kitchen, even if there’s nothing of interest there.
What was I thinking about again? Oh right, the movie tonight. Just Kurt and I. Again. He keeps insisting we hang out just the two of us. I should ask him if this is a date this time. Or maybe I should just kiss him and see how it goes. Yeah, that could work too. Mmm. We’ll see what happens.