"Piece of shit!" Kurt yelled as he kicked the hubcap of his flat tire. He'd just finished singing at a funeral he'd helped arrange, bringing back a flood of memories he didn't want to think about. He definitely wasn't in the mood to change a tire (something many at McKinley would probably be shocked to know he could do in the first place), so he locked the door of his Escalade and decided he'd walk the remaining miles home.
Since his father married Carol, they'd moved into a new place closer to the outskirts of town, and he still wasn't quite used to it. Somedays he'd forget where he was going and drive to the old house on 5th, and while he liked finally having bedroom windows and a room above ground, waking up to the bright sun shining through was still a bit of an adjustment. In addition to all of this, it was a much longer drive to school than he was used to, and he hadn't even thought of how long the walk would be before he left his car behind, stranded on the side of the road. He knew it would more than likely take over an hour to walk that far, so he slid his iPhone out of his pocket and called Finn, 4th down on his favorites list, in an attempt to get a ride. No answer. After that he attempted his father, and after that, Carol, both to no avail. Christ, it's a good thing I'm not laying in a ditch or being mugged somewhere or I'd be fucking dead by now, he thought bitterly to himself. He finally tried Blaine, and at last...
"Hello?" his boyfriend's voice answered on the other end of the line.
"YES! Thank god!" Kurt exclaimed.
"Well, thank you. It's nice to know that you still think my answering a phone call is an act of divine intervention."
Kurt knew Blaine was joking, but he couldn't help but roll his eyes a little. As much as he liked Blaine, he knew Blaine liked himself just as much, which was fine, but could wear on the nerves every once in a while. "Hey, where are you right now?"
"The Warblers and I just did a short set at a nursing home in Westerville. This old man kept putting his hands over his ears and moaning. I'm not really sure if he had some sort of dementia or if he just thought we were bad. Why? Do you need something?" Blaine asked.
"No, no. It's fine," Kurt sighed. He was tired of always being 90 minutes away from his boyfriend. Both of them had a lot going on, Blaine with the Warblers, Kurt with the New Directions, and that left little time for them to see each other. Even if they met in the middle, it was still a 45 minute drive out of town.
"No, it's not. What's the matter. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. It's fine. I just... My car broke down, and I didn't really feel like changing the tire, so I thought I'd walk home, but fuck me, I forgot how long it'd take me to walk there!"
"You forgot how long it takes to get to your own house?"
"It's a new house. I'm not, you know, stupid or something, it's just... I don't know. I'm still getting used to it," Kurt defended.
"Haven't you lived there for like 6 months?"
"Bye, Blaine!" He took the phone away from his ear and was on the verge of ending the call when he heard the sounds of protest coming from the earpiece.
"No no no no no! Wait, Kurt, Kurt, Kurt!" he shouted quickly.
"What is it?"
"I'm sorry, I was only kidding! Don't get mad. I don't wanna fight with you."
"Well, I don't want to fight either, but you're making it a little hard right now!" he replied sharply.
"I'm sorry, Kurt. God, what's wrong with you right now?"
"What's wrong with me right now? What's wrong with me right now? Well, let's see: A) I just left a funeral that drudged up a whole boatload of memories that I don't particularly enjoy remembering, B) I was told by the gayest straight man I've ever met that I'll never be as good as Rachel Berry, C) I got a flat tire that I didn't really feel like changing because of points A and B, and then there's D) I've already walked about a mile and a half in these boots that are clearly not the ones Nancy Sinatra was singing about, because my feet feel like they're about to fall off at the ankles. Now cap this all off with my boyfriend calling me stupid and I think we have the veritable makings of a complete shit sundae. So there you go, those are just a few of the things that are 'wrong with me right now'. Is that answer good enough, or would you like me to draw you some sort of diagram if I ever make it home? Now, keep in mind that I said 'if' just now, as at this point, making it home is really not a given," he snapped.
"Kurt, I can't talk to you when you're like this."
"Gee, Blaine, I'm so sorry. I'll try and call you back when my mood is better suited for you."
"Kurt-" Before Blaine had the chance to finish, Kurt had hit the sleep button on his phone, hanging up the call.
Kurt walked on, stewing in the unpleasantness of his previous conversation. He was sure he was being a little harsh on Blaine, but he was near the end of his rope with this relationship. He liked his boyfriend, he really did, but he tired of seeing Blaine's eyes roll every time he said something that Blaine felt he knew more about. He was over Blaine looking bored when he spoke about his life, the New Directions, or anything not somehow related to him. The way Blaine seemed so much wiser than he was was once a big reason Kurt liked him, but since discovering that Blaine was pretty much as in the dark as he was, he was fed up with always being looked down on. That may not have been Blaine's intention, but that was the way he made Kurt feel. As he walked a few more blocks, he heard a car slow down behind him and a voice call out, "Hey, Hummel! Kurt..." The voice was a little softer as it said his first name.
Kurt turned and saw Dave in an old silver Honda Civic. Seeing him in the smaller sedan surprised Kurt. He'd always figured Dave to be the kind to drive one of those hulking 4-doored trucks with huge, overcompensating tires that screamed "I HAVE A BIG PENIS, I SWEAR!" He was a little more comfortable around Dave now, but he hadn't seen him since he ran off the dance floor at prom. "Hi, Dave."
"Um... I saw your car back there... Do you... I... I don't know. You need a ride or something?" Dave stammered.
"I... You know what kind of car I drive?" Kurt asked curiously.
"I- Um- Yeah, I guess. I've seen you in it at school and stuff."
"Yeah... So do you need a ride home or..."
"I'm..." Kurt sighed, a little unsure of himself. He knew his father wouldn't like him getting into the car with the kid who used to push him around, but he'd seen a side of Dave no one else had. He'd seen his sincerity as he made his apologies for past behavior. Kurt had seen the tears in his eyes, the real Dave that others seldom got a glimpse of. Not Karofsky, but David, the boy Kurt heard his father Paul speak of during their first meeting in the principal's office. "Thank you. Yeah, I could."
Kurt saw the hint of a smile flash across Dave's face, and he saw him quickly try to hide it. "Cool. Yeah. Hop in," Dave said as he reached over and opened the passenger door of his car.
Kurt walked over and sat down in the seat. Dave wasn't wearing his Bully Whips uniform or the letterman's jacket he was so often seen in. This time Dave was in a flannel shirt of black and blue buffalo plaid from American Eagle with the sleeves rolled up, and a black pair of jeans. There was a CD holder strapped to the visor. In the case were albums by some artists he knew (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin), some he knew only by name (Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and some he was unfamiliar with (The Replacements, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Wilco). Kurt was always interested to discover people's musical tastes, and he found himself somewhat enamored by the surprising selection he was looking at. He'd always figured Dave for someone into angrier music; heavy metal, hardcore, but here was a selection that, if the artists he actually knew were any indication, were pretty far from that.
"So, where do you live?" Dave asked, breaking him from his album induced trance.
"Oh, um, sorry. I live on Hampton Street."
"Damn! That's far..."
"Oh, um, you don't have to-"
"No. Sorry. I don't mean... I just mean... You were gonna walk that far? That's like 10 miles."
"Yeah... My walking was not the best decision. I'm glad you showed up."
Kurt saw the same smile flash across Dave's face, and again he quickly tried to hide it away. "I'm... Yeah. Happy to help."
"So... How have you been since the whole..." The mood in the car changed, and the tension between the two of them thickened.
"I'm... I've been fine."
"Okay... I just haven't seen you at school a few days. I wanted to make sure... You left, and then I danced with Blaine, and I didn't even think until later that I should've gone to see how you were. That was... I don't know, that was a big moment for you. I'm sorry I didn't see how you were."
"It's fine. I was fine. I am fine."
"Just said fine a lot."
"'Cause I am."
"Okay... I'm just saying... I know I was pushing you to make a big step. I probably shouldn't have done that, and I should've at least been there for you after."
"It's fi-" He stopped himself before he said "fine" again. "It's cool. I'm okay, you don't need to worry about me. You just got shit on by the whole school, you had bigger problems."
"You warned me..."
"You warned me. I told you I thought everyone was over it. You told me I was dreaming. You warned me."
"Yeah, well, people are assholes," Dave said darkly, knowingly.
"Did you know they were gonna-"
"No," he quickly interjected, his tone defensive. "I just... I know what people are like. You think everyone's going to be as cool as your parents or the glee club, but people are bastards. All they ever care about is themselves. I know. I've been there. I've been that guy. I..." He paused as if what he was about to say physically pained him. "I am that guy."
"You're not anymore, Dave. I've seen you. You... In the hallway... You hurt as much as I do. Probably more. No one went after you. You hurt, and I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pushed you, and I know that now. This big moment, and all I'm thinking about is how it could be made easier for me. I didn't think about you, and I am so sorry."
"Kurt, stop. You don't have to apologize to me for anything. After everything I did to you... You don't need to ever tell me you're sorry about anything. Nothing will ever be worse than what I-"
"That's the thing though, I do. David, you're just a person. You're 17 years old just like I am, and you feel the same things I feel. We all just deal differently, and I know now, that every time you pushed me, every time you did anything to me... You weren't just doing it to me. You weren't just pushing me, you weren't just calling me names... You were doing it to yourself just as much. And I could just walk away, but you're living with that every hour of every day. You did that to yourself all the time. So yes, I do need to apologize. I was wrong. I shouldn't have pushed you when you weren't ready. I shouldn't have pushed you to come out to the entire junior class before you even come out to your mom or your dad... I should have gone after you... You hurt just as much as I do, but you don't have anyone to go after you... No one deserves to be that alone. Especially after everything you did for me all week, walking me to class, protecting me. If you hadn't been there that week, I don't know what would've happened. So they named me queen, it could've been worse. If you weren't there, maybe I would've had the shit kicked out of me in the parking lot..."
"I won't ever let anyone do that to you. Ever. As long as I'm there, Kurt, as long as I'm at this school... I'll never let anyone push you around like that again."
Silence hung between the two of them. Kurt looked over and saw Dave holding back tears, his eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead of them. They drove like that for a while, the silence thick. Kurt's palms were sweaty, and his pulse quickened. Finally, he turned to Dave, deciding to break the silence. "So, are you gonna keep doing the whole Bully Whips thing? Now that prom's over. I haven't seen Santana in a buret lately, so..."
"I don't know. I don't really know if I'll do the whole get up, but... I liked doing it. I liked helping people. It made me feel... I don't know, it made me feel useful or something. It felt good to-"
"Do good?" Kurt smiled.
"Yeah... It felt good to do good," Dave laughed. "So, yeah, I think I'll keep doing it, whether she wants to do it with me or not. Maybe it was just a prom thing for her, but... Yeah, I do. I wanna keep doing it. I'll probably lose the hat and the jacket, but maybe there will be other people who want to help. Really help people. Make the school better for everyone."
Kurt laughed softly. "You've come a long way. I'm-"
"No, really. David. You've come a long way, and I'm proud of you. You aren't the person you were last year."
"Well..." he trailed off, unsure of what to say. He seemed proud, yet embarrassed. "I hope I'm not. I... You know..."
"I know... And I voted for you."
"What?" he asked, sounding slightly astounded.
"I voted for you. You... I think... You deserved it. You deserved a little happiness, after everything... I'm... I'm glad you won."
"You shouldn't have voted for me, after everything I did..."
"But you're sorry. You told me you were, and I know you mean it... I can see it... Even when Santana told you to say everything... I could just... I watched this movie one time that said that truth just sounds different, and it's right. When you told me everything, the first time, I knew she told you to, but I cold tell you meant it, whether every word was yours or not. And then... Every word was yours, and that just confirmed it all. I know you mean it. I wouldn't be back there if I thought you didn't... You agreed to the whole PFLAG, thing, even though I know you didn't have to. You mean it, and I'm proud of you... I like seeing him... The you you are. The real you. Not the guy you pretend to be, but David. I see the guy your dad said you were... And I know you're not stupid... I mean, fuck, you told me you were taking calculus, and I barely passed Algebra 2."
"Still can't speak French, though," Dave laughed.
"Doesn't mean you're not smart... I'm just me. I've been watching French films since I was 8 years old."
"So... What's going on? Other You looked upset when you got in."
"You looked... I don't know, you looked sad or something, when I picked you up," Dave said, inviting him to talk about it, to have someone listen with a sympathetic ear.
"I guess... Coach Sylvester's sister died..."
"Oh. Did you know her or something?" he asked, slightly confused.
"No, I didn't. I didn't know her or anything, but... The way she talked about her. I've never seen her like that before. And... I don't know. We sang at her funeral, and it made me remember a lot of stuff I try not to think about all the time... I mean sometimes, but it's not good to think about it all the time. Stuff with my mom..."
"Yeah. She died when I was 8."
"Shit. I didn't know. I'm sorry."
"You don't need to be sorry. Not your fault. Stuff just happens, you know?"
"Yeah," Dave said somberly. "So, is that why you started watching French films?"
"What?" Kurt asked his brow furrowed.
"You said you've been watching French films since you were 8. Maybe you wanted to escape. Go to France. See Paris."
"I've never really thought about it. Maybe."
"Maybe in your 8 year old mind it was like, if you left, things might be normal again," he laughs sympathetically.
"I think you just cracked the code!" he laughs. "But, yeah, at least I still have my dad. I don't think I could make it without him..."
"He cares about you a lot."
"You can see it. I mean, I know, he almost beat the shit out of me, so..."
Kurt laughed, looking down at his hands folded together in his lap. "Yeah... I don't think there's much he wouldn't do for me... Your dad cares about you a lot, too, though. I see the way he talks about you in those meetings."
Dave breathed out a small chuckle. "Yeah, well... I guess. I don't know. I don't... We don't really talk all that much."
"Not really... He's... I don't know, he's not a bad guy, he's just not the easiest person to talk to."
"That doesn't mean he doesn't care. He probably wouldn't be at all these meetings if he didn't. He seems like a nice guy."
"He is, I guess. That's what everybody tells me, anyway."
"Dave..." Kurt said. He let his eyes roll over Dave, and could see the same pain, the same sadness, he saw in him at school. Kurt sat for a moment before deciding a subject change was in order. "And then there was Jesse St. James, who decided he'd tell me that the song I chose to sing wasn't meant for a man to sing, and how much better Rachel was than me."
"That guy's a douchebag. Why are you even listening to him?"
"Mr. Schue hired him to 'consult' or whatever. To help us win Nationals."
"Well, he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about!" Dave assured Kurt as the car came to a stop. He looked over at him and smiled. "You're home."
Kurt looked up. During their conversation he'd completely lost track of the world around them, and now he was already home. Usually he was alone or with Finn, and this was the fastest the drive home had ever gone for him. He didn't know why, but he felt different around Dave. He felt listened to, and he liked listening to him, at least when he really talked. When he meant what he was saying, when he wasn't playing pretend. He liked the way it felt when he looked at him. He liked that Dave seemed to be legitimately interested in what he had to say, and that during their conversations, the few that they'd had at the time, he never looked bored. "Oh..."
"Well... I guess I'll see you, then... Thank you for the ride, Dave."
"Not a problem..." he said as Kurt climbed out of the car with his bag in tow. "And Kurt?"
Dave looked at him, his gaze heartfelt and earnest. "Good luck in New York. You're gonna be awesome."
Kurt smiled at him, touched by his well wishes. Blaine had barely given Kurt a pat on the shoulder about Nationals, and here was Dave, telling Kurt that he knew how awesome he was going to be. "Thank you, David."
"Just telling you the truth. Don't listen to that Jesse asshole. You're always awesome. Go to New York and blow 'em all away," he said. They paused and Kurt gazed at him for a moment. He felt something between them, and he didn't quite know what to think about it. Finally, Dave broke the silence. "I'll see you, Kurt."
"Bye, Dave. Thank you, for the ride." Dave smiled at him with a nod. And with that, he set off down the street, heading back home, Kurt imagined.
Kurt unlocked his front door and walked upstairs to his bedroom. On his nightstand was a picture of he and Blaine at Breadsticks. Blaine has his arm draped over his shoulder, and a weak smile on his face. He tried to think of the ways Blaine had looked at him, and none of them were quite as close to the look he and Dave just shared. He sighed and reached for the phone out of his pocket.
"Hey. You in a better mood now?" Blaine asked on the other end of the line.
"Blaine... Do you think we're gonna do good at Nationals?"
"Of course I do, Kurt. I mean, I know Vocal Adrenaline is good, and they've got that Sunshine girl, but... I mean, you guys..." Kurt's chest quickly swelled, and his stomach began to flutter with butterflies, but as Blaine finished his sentence, that feeling quickly slipped away. He felt completely deflated. "You guys have Rachel Berry. You've got it in the bag."
Kurt sighed as he felt his eyes dampen. "Blaine..."
He swallowed back as a lump began to form in the back of his throat. "We need to talk."