Pairing: one-sided Kurt/Karofsky
Word count: ~9,400
Warnings/Spoilers: Up to 2x08 "Furt"
Author's Note: I am currently unspoiled for all future episodes! If you wish to leave a comment, please DO NOT LEAVE ANY SPOILERS. Also, the titles for this series come from the steps involved in the cycle of cocaine withdrawal, indicating that in my universe, Kurt Hummel is apparently the gay equivalent of crack. XD
Summary: Sequel to Addiction, installment number two in what I'm tentatively titling the Rehabilitation Saga;
It's Day Five post what Dave's carefully decided to label the Locker Room Incident when it occurs to him Hummel now holds one hell of a blackmail card.
Hummel doesn't tell anyone.
It takes Dave a couple of days to notice. For whatever reason (reasons he refuses to acknowledge) he's more than a little out of it the first few days following what he's carefully decided to label in his mind as the Locker Room Incident. It’s not that he’s depressed or anything. He just feels numb all over, sort of like that time when he broke his arm back when he was thirteen and took three Vicodin all at once to kill the pain. He’d wound up passed out downstairs on the couch, snoozing for a blissful (and pain-free) fifteen straight hours before his mom had started to panic and woke him up. He still remembers the weird feeling he had upon waking, how the world then had seemed all fuzzy yet strangely reassuring.
This time, though, the vague feeling of warmth and reassurance is missing and anyway there are no drugs to blame. Instead, Dave's just tired, on a bone-deep level, and on something of a hair-trigger when it comes to randomly sparking emotional outbursts. He's been sent to see Ms. Pillsbury twice already, though he skipped out and went to chill with Azimio each time. It's embarrassing enough during class – he still maintains that substitute had no right to be demonstrating papier-mâché volcanoes when they were in there to prepare for the Biology AP for freak's sake – but it becomes downright problematic when it carries out on the football field as well.
Azimio picks up the habit of clapping him on the shoulder between plays, tossing off barbs like "I thought your name was the Fury, boy, not the Fairy" after Dave stumbles and botches yet another routine practice drill. Dave resists the urge to punch him in the face. Giving each other crap is what passes for worry in both their books and he knows it. He'd be lying if he said he hadn't ragged on Azimio using the exact same insult not two weeks ago, not to mention with the way he's been playing, Azimio is pretty much his only bud on the team right now. Azimio can't possibly know that the last thing Dave is willing to tolerate at the moment is being called is some variation on a fairy. So Dave bites his lip, takes the hint as intended, and focuses his energy on the game, firmly ignoring anything else that may be going on in his life.
This strategy serves Dave well right up until around day five post the Locker Room Incident. Then his brain, tired of being sent offline for the past week, decides to get his attention by smacking him upside the head with the realization that Hummel now holds one hell of a blackmail card.
Dave's first reaction is, unsurprisingly, panic. How had this possibility not been obvious to him from the start? Why, amidst all the what-had-definitely-not-been-moping-
His entire reputation, and social future, is now resting in the delicate, manicured hands of someone who not only has he bullied for over a year, but whose very definition of subtle is "I left my bedazzler in the car."
Dave is so screwed.
Or, at least, he should be. Even looking back at the past week with a critical eye, he can't spot anything he would label as out of the ordinary. He decides to stalk down the hallway a couple times as a test, just in case people were acting oddly and he had missed it. He watches carefully, but no one's suddenly talking behind their hands or giving him strange looks. There aren't any conversations ending abruptly when he draws near. The nerds still cower when he looms over them in his letterman jacket and they hand over their money to him with shaking hands but without protest. Everything seems normal, which can only mean that Hummel hasn't been talking.
Dave doesn't know whether to feel relieved or confused.
After all, it's not like Hummel had any problem telling his lady boyfriend. Dave still hasn't forgotten about ladyboy’s simpering little attempt at an intervention, isn't likely to anytime soon with the way Hummel keeps the guy's picture in his locker. (Dave does not look every day, just to check.) You’re not alone. Please. Like either Fancy or Twinkerbell had ever had a choice about being labeled a homo. They probably met on weekends to exchange tiaras. Dave may be teetering on the edge of social suicide here if what happened in the locker room gets out, but he's not ready to accept offers to a pity party from a pair of prancing fairies.
He's just not sure what to do in the face of Hummel's ongoing silence.
Dave tries to put out feelers over the next couple days, get an idea of what's going on in Hummel's head. Okay, so he stalks the hell out of him. Seriously, Dave's not James Bond. It's not like he can plant bugs on Hummel or something. So instead Dave just kind of hovers just outside the periphery of Hummel's vision, occasionally flattening another kid in order to stay out of his direct line of sight, and watches.
What he observes is frustrating. For the most part, Hummel seems happier than he's been in a long time, which Dave attributes to the soppy look he gets whenever he opens his locker. Between classes, he can mostly be found exchanging what Dave can only assume are fashion tips with the ex-cheerleader, Mercedes. The two of them are always joking and laughing whenever they’re together, and generally Hummel looks like he hasn't got a care in the world right now. Whenever they split, though, the very first thing Hummel does is grab his phone out of his pocket (or purse, depending on the day) and start texting someone furiously. Judging by the dreamy look he gets on his face while he types, that someone is almost certainly Twinkerbell.
In fact, the only times Hummel seems less than ecstatic seem suspiciously to coincide with the unexpected appearance of a letterman jacket in the hallway. The abrupt difference in his demeanor then is startling. Hummel's shoulders hunch in, his mouth turns down, and his grip on his phone tightens to the point where his knuckles are white. He looks like he's preparing himself for an attack, which Dave figures he probably is.
None of this helps Dave any in figuring out whether Hummel is planning to spill the beans on the locker room or not. The way Dave sees it, there are only two real possibilities here: either Hummel is planning to tell and just hasn't yet, or he's choosing to keep silent out of fear or for some other yet unknown reason.
Dave doesn't think it's the fear. Hummel may be many things, but he's not a coward. The way he tore into Dave in the locker room alone proves that. Not to mention it would be pretty difficult for anyone to bully Hummel more than Dave already does, even if Hummel were the one who would come off looking worse in an exposé scenario, which he definitely isn't.
Dave tests anyway, just to be sure, walking up to Hummel in the cafeteria and checking out his response. "'Sup, homo?"
He catches the tail end of some conversation about Rashad the wide-receiver when he does. Dave wrestles briefly with an ugly flare of jealousy before he realizes, feeling stupid, that the table where Hummel’s sitting (predictably) includes Mercedes as well. Hummel, for his part, doesn't look frightened by Dave's presence so much as confused, which is a feeling Dave shares once he realizes that, in turning to leave, he had freaking winked at Kurt Hummel in front of the entire cafeteria.
Sometimes, Dave feels like he couldn't be more of a heterosexual failure if he actually tried.
So, no, it looks like fear is off the cards, which leaves either the possibility that Hummel's got another reason to keep silent hidden up his sleeve or the one thing Dave's starting to dread most – that Hummel's settling in to play the long game with this blackmail thing. Maybe he's just been toying with Dave these past couple weeks, letting him build up a sweat before swanning in to name his terms. It doesn't seem like something Hummel would do, but then Dave can't exactly claim to know everything that goes on in his head either. Despite his obsession, they're not actually friends. Maybe Hummel was more subtle in those areas of his life that didn’t involve fashion, calculating enough to pull off something as deeply complex as an extended blackmail scheme. Dave wishes there was some way he could get a second opinion on all this, but it's not like there's any way he can ask someone for their opinion without giving away what happened, which defeats the purpose of asking.
His mind has been reduced to nothing but an endless loop of "Hummel hasn't told anyone. He hasn't, but he could. He could, and it would ruin everything." It’s distressing enough on first repetition; by the hundredth, it’s flat-out terrifying. So he can hardly be blamed for the less than suave way he swoops in when Hummel's apparent BFF Mercedes (one of McKinley's most notorious gossip hounds, his mind unhelpfully notes) abruptly decides to saunter off Friday afternoon and leaves Hummel all alone at his locker.
Dave doesn't waste a second. "Question for you!" he growls, grabbing Hummel's shoulder and wrenching him around to face him.
Dave takes a quick moment to check if anyone's listening, but everyone seems preoccupied with their own private drama today. When he looks back, he's absurdly pleased to find that Hummel doesn't even seem fazed by Dave's appearance. It reminds him of the various states of happiness he's observed in Hummel this past week. Unfortunately, it also makes him stumble over his next words.
"You tell anyone else what happened?" he demands tightly. "How you—" And here Dave's throat closes over the words until all he manages to push out is, "—kissed me?"
"You kissed me, Karofsky," Hummel corrects firmly, not too loudly but Dave attempts to shush him anyway. "And I understand how hard this is for you to deal with so no, I haven't told anyone."
Dave thinks he should be feeling relief right now. After all, there it is. He's got his answer. Hummel hasn't told anyone and isn't planning to, is willing to keep this whole thing silent out of some hidden sense of solidarity. Dave should be ecstatic, should be about to— well, whatever the super manly version of kissing Hummel for sheer joy in the middle of the hallway would be. That, he should be doing that.
But at the same time, he finds himself unable to just let go of the fear of the past week. Hidden sense of solidarity or not, the fact remains that Hummel could tell someone and what's to say that feeling of solidarity would last into the next week anyway? How long would Hummel continue to feel sorry for the pathetic jock who bullied him? Another week? Two?
His mouth opens before he even has the chance to think. "Good," he hears himself say. "You keep it that way." And then, because his life is currently just one botched moment after another, he adds, "'Cause if you do, I'm gonna kill you."
The silence that follows is deafening. Hummel stares at him with wide eyes, the first pale traces of genuine terror creeping into his face. Dave stares back, only manages it for a few seconds before he flees the scene in a rush, his head reeling as he stalks off because— did he seriously just issue a death threat to Kurt Hummel? Is that actually what happened here? It all seems so unreal, like something out of his mom's trashy soaps instead of Dave’s own freshly screwed up life. He can't take it back now. It's out there and doing that would just make him look stupid, but he can't exactly ever imagine getting the nerve to follow through on the threat either. Hummel is too— he's just— well, he's important to Dave, okay?
Dave spends the whole weekend thinking the incident over, replaying it again and again in his head like if he just does so enough times, the lines will somehow change and he'll end up looking like less of a creepy psychopath. He snaps at his mom when she tries to get him to leave his room and ignores calls from Azimio to hang out in favor of playing his favorite Call of Duty campaign for the hundredth time. Blasting row after row of polygon enemies is perfect for keeping his eyes and hands busy while his mind races in circles, fully occupied with thinking up ways to fix the flaming train wreck that is his life.
Dave still hasn't come up with anything by the time he has to go back to school on Monday. He tries to seek Hummel out anyway, figuring if nothing else he can retract the death threat and work later on regaining some of his dignity. His admittedly vague plan, however, is thwarted by the baffling way that Hummel suddenly doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the school . Dave wastes valuable time checking all of his usual spots like an idiot before he realizes that of course Hummel would have opted to change his routine following their conversation on Friday. He thinks Dave is planning to kill him.
Dave wants to punch something until his life stops sucking.
He comes to school on Tuesday resolved to figure out Hummel's new hallway circuit. He's just plotting a possible plan of attack in homeroom for covering all the alternate pathways when a pair of unrepentantly giggling adults, a red-haired woman and a balding man wearing a vest jacket, stumble clumsily into the classroom. Their faces are flushed and grinning, and the man doesn't waste any time before getting down on one knee.
"Carole," he says, looking nowhere but her. "It all started here for you and me. You walked into my life, and you made impossible for me to ever see you walk out. So I'm asking." He pulls out a ring box and cracks it open. "Carole Hudson,” he intones solemnly, “will you marry me?"
Dave barely hears Mrs. Hudson's screams over the roar in his ears. That's—that's Hudson's mom, which means the guy in the vest must be Hummel's dad, and—and they just freaking got engaged, which means Hummel and Hudson are now going to be for-real, no-joke, actual brothers and are probably going to live in the same house again like they did that one time sophomore year. They had lived together and then Hudson had come to school one day dressed all crazy just like Hummel and Hummel had smiled at him for days afterward. It's more than Dave can process all at once.
It also gives him the perfect excuse to talk to Hummel, however. Nothing suspicious about going up to the gay kid and congratulating him on his dad's upcoming nuptials to the mother of his former crush, right? And then Dave can casually work in how he never really meant that death threat a couple days ago and things can all go back to normal. All is has to do is find the kid.
He finally gets his opportunity on Monday the following week. Hudson manages to delay Hummel at his locker by asking him about wedding preparations and Dave hovers just out of sight until Hudson claps him on the shoulder and walks off.
Dave moves in immediately, taking up the vacated space on the other side of Hummel's locker. He's trying for casual and does his best to project nothing but friendliness Hummel's way, but judging by the look of terror on Hummel's face, he's not being very successful at either.
There's silence for a moment before Hummel says, quietly, "I don't want you near me."
Dave flinches, but it's no less than he expected. It's okay, he's here now and Hummel's listening. All he has to do is apologize and he and Hummel can go back to occasionally mocking and quietly not-envying each other from a distance. Dave pokes him in the chest, tries to smile and make a joke about his dad's engagement, but somehow his smile seems frozen on his face. Instead of a teasing poke, the touch becomes something more like a caress as his finger slides, slowly and inexorably, down the line of Hummel's chest. It's quite possibly the creepiest thing Dave's ever done and he's resoundingly grateful when his sliding finger suddenly encounters plastic. He wraps his hand around the offending item with relief and jerks it from Hummel's grasp.
"Can I have this?" he asks politely, the words sounding stupid to his own ears. Hummel looks too shaken to respond, so Dave tags on a bright hasty "thanks" and freaking beats it down the hall. He’s careful to tuck the wedding topper (so that’s what it was) in the pocket of his letterman jacket as he goes.
He sets it on his dresser when he gets home that night and stares at it for a long time trying to figure out how he can maybe stop sucking at this whole not being a jerk to Hummel thing. In the end, he comes up with nothing and he stashes the topper in his former slushie moneybox to keep his mom from asking questions. She has a habit of entering his room unexpectedly.
Well, it looks like talking directly to Hummel is definitely off the cards. Dave immediately discards his second idea, which is writing a note and leaving it somewhere, for obvious reasons of potential identification problems. Unfortunately, Dave is batting zero on coming up with other ideas of how to communicate "Hey, we're cool! Please stop being terrified of me!" somehow to Hummel when a voice calls him out after practice in the locker room.
"Stop picking on Kurt."
It's the wheelchair kid, Abrams, and Dave can't help snorting. Chang is standing next to him and they're trying to look intimidating, but all Dave can think is how easily he could toss either of them into a dumpster.
He ignores them and turns around to grab his jacket from his locker. "Do you mind? I'm changing."
"We're serious," says Chang, slamming Dave's locker shut. "This is a warning."
It would be a better move if Chang had anything to back it up. Dave humors him anyway. "Oh yeah?" he asks.
"From now on, you're going to leave him alone," Abrams informs him coldly.
Like Dave hasn’t been trying to accomplish that for the past week? Like he hasn’t been breaking his brain trying to find a way to make Hummel stop being scared? Screw humoring the nerds. Dave has had enough of this.
"Look," he states clearly, "if he wants to be a homo? That's up to him." Truthfully, Dave has never had a problem with Hummel being queer. He's always figured it was just his choice – a dumb one, yeah, but so was joining Glee club and Dave can't actually imagine Hummel any other way. It's this new thing, the one where he drives Dave to do stupid, crazy stuff like steal wedding toppers and make death threats, that really has to go. "But don't rub it in my face," he concludes.
"We're not asking you," Abrams grits.
"Yeah," says Chang. "We're done talking about this." He gets right up in Dave's face and freaking barks, "So back off, alright?"
"No, you back off!" Dave retorts and shoves Chang at just the right angle to topple Abrams in his wheelchair. He moves to leave the locker room but instead is surprise tackled by none other than Sam Evans.
The fight that goes down is short and dirty. Like a coward, Evans goes straight for his groin before using the momentum of Dave's reflexive response to slam him against the opposite row of lockers. It hurts like hell and Dave knows he’s going to have a serious bruise to show for it. Dave gets in a solid punch to his face next, though, and Evans goes down like a pile of bricks. Dave follows him down, keeps whaling on him even though Evans is mostly flailing at this point and Dave's not even sure why. Maybe because he just said it was okay for Hummel to be gay even if no one in the room seemed to notice. Maybe because Hummel once looked at Evans the same way he used to look at Hudson and the way he's never looked at Dave.
The next thing he's aware of is Coach Beiste hauling him off and pinning him against the lockers.
"What the hell's going on here?" she roars.
He doesn't say anything and neither does Evans, so Beiste hauls both of them into her office.
"You want to explain to me," she tells them in those quiet, measured tones that the entire team has come to associate with imminent danger, "what exactly just went down in there?"
Dave sneaks a look at Evans, but Evans is sitting like he plans to remain just as stubbornly silent in here as he was in the locker room. Dave follows suit and stares at his hands.
"Alright," Coach Beiste says finally after a long moment when neither of them has spoken. "If neither of you yahoos wants to tell me why you decided to start whaling on each other out of nowhere, then I have no choice but to suspend both of you from the team for two days."
Neither he nor Evans protests. It's pretty much what Dave expected.
"We'll chalk it up to testosterone and leave at that,” she continues. “Dave, you're demoted to second-string for the week. Sam, I'm going to seriously revaluate whether you should be considered for quarterback. Both of you will shake hands, and if I catch either of you two fighting again, you're both off the team. Is that clear?" she asks sternly.
Dave nods, sees Evans do the same. They stand up and carefully shake hands under the watchful eyes of Coach Beiste, then head silently back into the locker room.
It's mostly deserted at this point, practice having finished awhile back. Chang, Abrams, and Puckerman are still lurking around, but it's patently obvious by the way their heads jerk up at the sound of the door opening that they've all been waiting specifically for Evans. It's then, counting the triumphant high fives they all exchange, that it strikes Dave there was one pretty important face missing from the whole Glee party showdown. For some reason, the abrupt revelation of Hudson's conspicuous absence rankles him even more than the smirk slowly growing on Evans’ face, and he barrels past the four of them without a word.
He grabs an ice pack out of the freezer when he gets home, ignores his mom's shouted query from the laundry room about his day, and heads up straight to his room. Dave strips off his shirt in the bathroom, tossing it aside to check out his back in the mirror. Sure enough, a bruise is already starting to form, right where Evans managed to slam him into the handle of a locker door. He struggles for awhile trying to figure out how to hold the ice pack on top of the bruise before ultimately deciding to just place a towel on his bed and lie down.
He rests his back gingerly on the ice and then lets out a long, weird breath, his arms falling with heavy thumps by his side. He doesn't know how much longer he can live like this.
Dinner is a stilted affair. Dave doesn't feel like talking and his dad almost always spends dinnertime unwinding from seeing his clients at the practice, leaving his mom alone tonight in chattering blithely to fill the gaps of silence between bites. She talks about the new aerobics program they've started offering at the gym, which she apparently worked very hard to create a poster for, and about the cooking event her friends are planning to host tomorrow for their weekly meeting as part of the community women's club. Dave notes dully that all the women she takes care to mention seem to have daughters in the Celibacy Club.
Eventually, though, she runs out of idle chatter and turns her attention back toward Dave. "So how was school today, David?" she asks, fixing her sharp gaze on him.
His father looks up to hear his answer too, so Dave mutters a dull "fine" and turns his attention back to his plate.
His mother is not deterred by his apathy. "Anything interesting happen?" she prods.
Dave pauses, but honestly he doesn't know how to even begin answering that. He settles instead on, "No." Then he shovels in more casserole.
His mom looks ready to give up, but his dad surprisingly clears his throat. "Your mom said it sounded like you took an ice pack out of the freezer when you got home today," he says softly. "Were you injured during practice?"
Dave chews slowly and then says, "A tackle went bad. It happens sometimes."
"Will you still be playing in this week's game?" his mom asks, concerned.
Dave swallows. "Nah, Coach Beiste thought this might be, uh, a good opportunity to let some of the other guys try starting."
"Because of one bad tackle?" his dad asks skeptically.
Irritation swells up in Dave. "Yeah, coaches do that sometimes. It's called part of developing a team. If you'd played sports, you would know," he adds snidely.
"David!" his mother snaps.
"I gotta do homework," he mutters, pushing away from the table. His father, predictably, says nothing to stop him.
He heads upstairs, but instead of opening his book bag Dave just throws himself on the bed and sinks his face in the soft pillows. He's never known how to explain to Azimio or the other guys whose fathers used their belts how much worse it could be when your parents' favorite punishment was to express just how crushingly disappointed in you they were. Dave has never been intellectual enough for his father, even before he started playing dumb, and his mother has been pushing for him to become more popular ever since she realized only half of the mothers in the women's club even knew his name. It's a mindscrew, trying to keep up with all their expectations, and he doesn't have to ask to know that none of them include space for fascination with the color of Hummel's eyes in different kinds of light.
He falls asleep hours later and has vague dreams of being chased by linebackers in frilly aprons.
School the next day is pretty much as he expects. People are abuzz about the impressive shiner Evans is sporting and who gave it to him, so overall people are giving him a fairly wide berth. Dave doesn't mind. He doesn't feel like dealing with anyone today anyway. Not screwing up his life more than he already has is his new mantra, and he's determined to stick to it for at least one day. Things are going well heading into lunch. He actually listened to his history teacher during class today (sadly, there were no bipolar rants) and he's cautiously optimistic about the possibility for tater tots in the cafeteria. He's just heading toward his locker to drop off his books when he catches sight of something that makes him stop in his tracks.
There, in the music room with the chairs pushed aside, are Hudson and Hummel. They're standing together and holding hands like they're practicing to dance, standing with the door wide open so that anyone could walk by and see— like it'd be okay, like no one would dare make fun of them now that they were going to be brothers. They're standing together like Hudson hadn't chickened out the day before, hadn't decided against sticking up for Hummel when all the other Glee boys had. Like Hudson had already been forgiven, could always be given more chances when Hummel wouldn't even give Dave one. In that moment, Dave sees red.
He sends them a limp-wristed gesture when they happen to glance his way and storms off with an angry jerk of his head. Frustration buzzes in him like the thrum of a hot engine. Forget trying to make nice with Hummel. What was the point? No matter what he said or did, in Hummel's eyes Hudson would always be a hero and Dave would just be the moustache-twirling comic book villain. The roles for both those parts had been cast long ago, and well, if they don't seem to fit any more that’s just Dave's own fault. He should have known better than to mess with what is clearly the status quo.
He's preoccupied enough with his internal seething that he misses the abrupt thundering of footsteps behind him and the way he's suddenly slammed up against the bulletin board comes as a complete surprise. Dave barely has time to let out a furious "What the hell, dude?" before a flannel arm is pressed tight against his throat.
The arm belongs to a hefty man not much shorter than Dave. "You like picking on people?" he growls, his face inches away from Dave’s own. He presses his arm in a little tighter. "Why don't you try me?"
He looks familiar is all Dave can think, like Dave's seen him somewhere before, but it's not until Dave sees Hudson and Hummel running up to him that it actually clicks. The man with an arm currently against his throat is none other than Hummel's dad, the same man who not ten days ago got down on one knee in Dave's homeroom to propose to Hudson's mom. This time his face is neither relaxed nor happy, fixed instead in a smooth mask of rage, and Dave is startled to realize just how difficult it is to recognize that other happy man in him now.
Eventually the combined pleas of Hummel and Hudson convince Mr. Hummel to lower his arm. Dave wastes no time in sliding securely out of the man’s grasp and even less time in bolting for the nearest exit, not caring if he looks ridiculous.