Michael Stipe doesn’t have a presence in Dave’s mind besides an occasional ‘hey, he sings for R.E.M., he’s got a fucking nice voice.’ before The Interview.
It’s one the older singer does for MTV, in promotion for R.E.M.’s Out Of Time album, which has been all over the damn place with no tour in sight. The only reason Dave’s watching it is because he’s with Kurt over at Krist’s place and it happened to be on TV. Neither of them seemed bothered to change the channel, yet.
“So, there’s always been speculation that you actually have your mark.” The interviewer prattles on, leading away from the topic of the music and venturing into personal territory. “Can you confirm or deny if that’s true? Do you think you’ll ever find The One?”
Dave can’t help but cringe the same time Michael does on the TV. He can tell that Michael would rather be talking about anything else, if the way his body tenses up is of any indication. He can’t help but feel bad for him.
“Look, even if I did have a mark, it doesn’t matter right now. The band and the music is what matters to me, not some relationship I may or may not ever have.” Michael answers tensely, fiddling with his hands in his lap all the while.
“But don’t you feel...sad to think that you won’t ever have a soulmate?”
The room drops into a silence, one long enough that Kurt actually grunts and looks up from where he’d been looking through a random magazine left on the sofa next to Dave. “Oooh shit, she’s really pissed him off…”
“M’am, no disrespect to you…” Michael starts with an even but piercing tone, already getting up from the chair he’d been sitting in, and the people behind the camera start to audibly panic. “But bring up anything about me and soulmates again, and I will not step into MTV studios another time. I think this is the end of this interview.”
The TV cuts out abruptly from the interview to a commercial for upcoming programs on the channel. Both Dave and Kurt are left in a shocked silence.
That doesn’t last very long before Krist is popping his head around the kitchen entrance with a confused expression. “What happened in here?” he asks, making his presence known as he juggles a phonebook in one hand and the house phone in the other.
“Dude, Michael Stipe just cut off an MTV interview.” Kurt says, finally leaning all the way back on the sofa before pulling a cigarette out of his pocket.
“Soulmate tattoos,” Dave replies, subconsciously rubbing behind his right ear, where he could feel the light bumps of his own tattoo, uncovered by makeup at the moment. “The lady kept fucking getting up his ass about not having a soulmate and he pretty much snapped on her.”
“Not really snapped, though. You know how he never really gets mad at shit on TV.” Kurt butts in again, gesturing his now lit cigarette in Dave’s direction. “He just got all principal ‘I’m disappointed in you, kid’ at her.”
“Yeah, he did. Don’t blame him a bit.” Dave agrees, snatching the cig in front of his face and taking a drag before handing it bit Kurt, who had been pouting at him. “I’m not looking forward to that shit myself.”
The interview and the following conversation stick to the back of mind for the rest of the day, though he doesn’t pause to reflect on them until he’s in bed that night, unable to sleep even while still being beer buzzed. He tosses and turns as he thinks.
He’d already been going out of the way to make sure no one outside of his family and friends saw the tattoo of his for the past few years. Now that it seemed like something was happening with Nirvana, the thought of being found out kept him awake most nights. Sure, things may have changed concerning homosexuality, things were certainly getting better with recognition on a national level, but no major celebrity besides Freddie Mercury had had a same sex soulmate yet, and Dave didn’t want to be the next one. Unless this ‘Michael’ whose name was behind his ear happened to be a celebrity. But he almost hoped that wasn’t the case, either, as much as he hated to think that way.
Dave knew that the public wouldn’t really give that much of a shit, it wasn’t like he was Kurt by any means. If anyone asked, he was as straight as they came at face value. But he also knew that there were still people out there who would give him shit for it, he’d seen it happen to a couple of friends back in D.C., and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Not that he couldn’t handle it, sure. But he didn’t want anyone around him to have to witness it. He just hoped it wouldn’t.