Story: Take It Back
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Characters: Santana, Karofsky, Azimio
Disclaimer: I don't own these people, they own themselves and are just nice enough to let me spin them around the page now and then.
Summary: Wishing you could take something back sometimes makes it possible...
Warnings: up to "Original Song" and loosely a riff of the promo for NON.
A/N#: I'm just so excited by the possibility of a Dave/Santana friendship, that I can't stop writing it… Also, just wanted to say that I've painted Azimio rather typically in this story, as I have in the past, but I'm beginning to think and hope that perhaps we've judged him too harshly? I'd like to think someone who cares that much about pleasing their dad might be more willing to be supportive of a friend who truly needs him? Not sure he's actually capable of that, but maybe? In the hopes of giving Az a little fair time, I'm working on a story wherein Dave comes Out to Az… But that's not this story; this story belongs to Dave and Santana…
Take It Back
The minute he'd jerked the cup forward, releasing its frozen contents to follow a trajectory that hit her so squarely the great red gush of it splattered her entire face, sliding down her neck to stain her clothes, he was sorry he'd done it.
Azimio had shoved the cup into his hands the minute he'd come up to ask him what was going on.
"It's Lopez," Az had said with a jerk of his head to where she was standing and arguing with Brittany in the middle of the hallway thirty feet away.
"What about her," Dave had asked, not liking where he thought this could be going. He'd heard some unbelievable rumors this week, unbelievable considering her reputation, but from the way she was flailing at Pierce, and the look of real hurt and anger on her face, he was thinking it might not be so unbelievable after all.
"She's a lezbo," Az said as if he'd been reading Dave's mind, a hint of glee tinged with disgust in his voice. "Can you believe I was hoping to tap that? Though…" he paused, considering, then grinned wolfishly. "I still would…"
He shoved a full cup of cherry Slushy into Dave's hand, lid already removed.
A gun with the safety off…
Dave wasn't thrilled about this. Torturing people, particularly over who they were, was starting to feel less and less right these days. And much as he'd always liked being feared, ever since Hummel had fled the school because of him, it'd started to ring hollow. (Unless it was Jacob Ben Israel, because, well, the guy didn't have to be a dweeby, pushy, obnoxious, jerk; he just chose to be.)
But Santana Lopez was something else.
He'd always sort of admired her, not that he would have told her that, but she was actually kind of cool; she didn't take shit from anyone, didn't care what anyone thought. And when she wanted to be she could be one scary bitch. Dave wasn't sure he wanted to piss her off, particularly about this.
Seeing as how he kind of had some…things he was confused about himself, he didn't think 'this' was something he really had the right to be calling anyone out on…
Hoping to get out of the Slushying, he tried to hand the cup back to Az. "Why don't you do it, man?"
"Because, numbnuts," Az said, waving his iPhone in Dave's direction. "I'm taking pictures." Eyebrows pinching together with impatience, he pushed the cup back at Dave. "Hurry up, before it's just a cherry soda!"
"Fine!" Dave huffed, giving up. Resigning himself to the "task," he spun on his heel and headed down the hallway to where the pair was still talking tensely.
The Dave of Six Months Ago would have been thrilled with the set up and approach to this maneuver; Lopez was so focused on what she was saying, was standing so close to the blond, he knew she wouldn't see him coming. In the world of competitive Slushying, this was the Dream Scenario.
But Today's Dave had been rethinking the concept, the whole purpose of the tactic; ever since he'd been on the receiving end of it courtesy of the hockey team. And if he was being honest, he'd been thinking about it longer than that. That whole thing with Hummel had him really questioning some of the things he did and why he did them.
I really have been a dick, haven't I?
There was nothing he could do about it now, though. He was already in the final approach and Az was watching, iPhone held out in front of him, probably shooting video, now that Dave thought about it. If Dave backed out now, Az would have video evidence to confirm suspicions he might already be having about Dave; he'd been griping about Dave's lack of enthusiasm for their Slushy maneuvers for a while now and it was only a matter of time before he started to put it all together.
So, he didn'thave a choice, did he?
As he got within firing range and raised the cup, Pierce moved her head just enough so he could see Lopez's face – and see she was crying.
It was too late, though; he'd already set the toss in motion.
All he could do was watch as that ice cold cherry red crap hit it in her already wet face, anger and surprise mingling with the shock he saw there.
Follow-through was a part of the toss and release scenario and as he continued walking, he craned his neck to watch her, more to track her reaction than anything else.
She seemed more stunned than most usually were, perhaps because she was upset to begin with, perhaps because this was her first time; the frozen expression of pain and disbelief on her face was a shock to him, inspired in him something he wasn't accustomed to feeling – concern.
"You asshole!" she screamed, frozen façade broken and crying full out now, and Dave felt every bit the utter shit that he was.
He had the overwhelming desire to run back and apologize, to try and make it better for her somehow, but…but Az was still filming what was happening, gesturing excitedly with his free hand, and so all Dave could do for the moment was laugh a forced, hollow laugh while dodging her fists, and scoot on down the hall, trying his best to ignore the broken sound of her sobs cutting through his gut like an icy knife.
At the end of the hall, just before he turned off into the intersecting corridor, he looked back.
He half expected to see her charging after him or screaming obscenities, but instead he saw that she was still standing in the middle of the hallway hands over her face, clearly crying and whether of her own accord or at Lopez's insistence, Pierce was gone.
She was alone.
Dave's heart, which was halfway there to begin with, broke the rest of the way…
It broke almost as hard as it had when Hummel had pushed him away that time in the locker room, that time Dave had…had kissed him, pushed him away with a look of such complete and utter disgust on his face.
There was nothing he could offer Lopez at that point that she'd accept – he was her attacker – but he worried about her all the same. All he could do was watch from around the corner. He had to keep out of sight of Azimio, who by then had stopped filming. Dave watched as Az lumbered away, seemingly more disgusted by Santana's emotional display than he'd been at the idea that she liked girls.
Dave watched until the bell rang and the hallway had cleared out – and she was still standing there. She hadn't moved from that puddle of melting red ice, and when she finally pulled herself from her stupor and started to move, he followed as she shuffled off, not to a classroom, but, as it turns out, to an unused janitor's closet.
He could hear her in there, crying pitifully, and the sound turned his insides to acid.
Azimio should see this, should see what he made me do to her…
Doubling back to duck into the locker room, he grabbed a couple of clean towels off the rack, than went back to the janitor's closet.
He couldn't hear anything as he got closer and he thought – hoped! – that meant she had cried herself out, but as he neared the slatted door, he heard the sniffling and low sobbing that told him she was far from done.
He felt so awful. He'd never seen anyone react the way she had before, never hung around long enough to see the real aftermath of his actions, but now that he had, and now that he knew what it felt like, and especially now that he knew he shared something just as incriminating with her, he felt sick inside.
Her heard her hitch up her breathing louder and for a moment, he thought his being there might be the worst thing for her, that she was beyond what he could do. He considered running to the school nurse and telling her she needed to come. But…but he just couldn't walk away from her, couldn't let her continue on like that, crying like something inside her had torn. The pain in her voice was like a magnet pulling him to her.
He saw his hand reach for the door knob, hesitate, then knock softly, proud of himself when her muttered "Go the fuck away!" didn't stop him from turning the handle and going inside.
There was no place to sit down in there; he found her leaning against the 2-door supplies cabinet, head in her hands, rocking back and forth.
The minute she looked up and saw him standing there, her expression turned murderous.
"Get the fuck away from me, Karofsky, you loser, you fucking douchebag, you…" She waved a shaking hand at him, lapsing into incoherent sobbing before she was even done cursing him out.
Oh, god, what did I do?
The sight of her, and the understanding that what he'd done had made her feel this way, both scared and humbled him. This wasn't fun anymore. This wasn't 'making a point to this school's losers,' as Az was always saying. This was serious shit. Who else had they reduced to this? The sudden ache in his gut offered up the name "Hummel" and the accompanying dull pain in the center of his chest seconded it.
I am a horrible, horrible person. I am a coward and a liar…
I should have…I should have told him I was sorry.
I should have told him how I felt…
He couldn't do anything about Kurt now, but he was just gratefulthat he'd opened the door to that janitor's closet… For Kurt, for all of them, today he could at least try to undo a little of what he'd done, even if it wasn't much.
Dave had never been a comfort-giver, never thought to try to make anyone feel better before, but something inside of him was compelling him forward, toward her shaking form. Making those soft little 'ssssh'ing' noises he'd seen mothers use on crying babies, he put his arms around her awkwardly and pulled her close.
She flailed like a wildcat for the first few seconds, her energy suddenly revived, another string of curses flying, and she tried to knee him in the groin, but he was able to dodge it. Still holding fast, he began to rock her gently, slowly patting her narrow back, and eventually she calmed, either giving up or giving in to his efforts; the moment she did, he felt it, felt her hands stop pounding at his back and begin hold on with just as much might. Her sobs continued for a while though, and as they echoed through his chest, he felt a sympathetic prickling of tears in his own eyes that he decided not to fight.
"Fuck, Lopez. I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry," he whispered into her hair, hoping his attempt at a low soothing voice wasn't coming out as a growl instead. When she punched him again, lightly this time, her fist only making silent contact with the expanse of muscle that made up his back, he decided he must have succeeded.
He was unaccustomed to this feeling of empathy, but not repulsed by it, was in fact grateful for it; grateful that he was still capable of feeling something inspired by a positive emotion, that it wasn't too late for him.
"You're such an asshole, Karofsky," she murmured against his chest.
"I know that," he said, his quiet laugh bitter, but amused.
He suddenly realized how cold he was where his body met hers; she must have been drenched with the stuff.
"Jesus," he said, pulling away and grabbing the towels he'd left on the rack. Handing her one, he the draped the other clumsily around her hair, managing to gather it together and squeeze until the red mess bled into the white towel and stained his hands. "Fucking Azimio, hadda make it an extra-large…"
She'd accepted the towel without a word and she was still sniffing back her sobs, but at least she wasn't bawling full-out anymore. And the way she was wiping at her face and clothes said she was feeling enough like herself to give a shit how she looked, which was so much better than the stupor she'd been in a little while ago.
"You do everything he tells you to, don't you," she asked wearily, running some water in the utility sink and wetting a clean corner of the towel.
Dave felt his face flush. She was right.
"Yeah, I guess I do. I did. I dunno." He watched her wipe her face clean, thinking she really was very pretty, stripped of red streaks, make-up – and attitude. "I don't think I can go back to it, but I don't know how I can stop. I don't know if I'm…" He trailed off, not sure he was ready to say it, let alone share it with her.
She was looking at him sideways now, sizing him up, and he got the feeling she could see right into his head. "…brave enough?" she offered.
He looked at her in shock and knew his expression probably said it all; there was no point in denying it. Lopez was scary-smart.
And Dave had always worn his emotions on his sleeve…if you were looking closely enough.
He nodded, looking away quickly so he wouldn't have to see the judgment he was sure was there.
Throwing her hair over, she leaned into the sink and ran some warm water through it. Dave watched in fascination as the red liquid colored the white plastic sink with swirls and stripes. Grabbing the cleanest towel, the one he was holding, she wrapped her hair up into a turban piled high onto her head. The affect seemed to lessen the impact of her puffy, reddened eyes and give her an exotic look.
Leaning back against the supply cabinet, she looked him squarely in the eye. "Why are you here, Karofsky? Why all the…" she gestured to the towels, to the room in general. "…concern for me?"
He shrugged. "I dunno. I guess I…I guess I couldn't stand to see you like that." Her expression said she was surprised by his admission and he was pleased he'd been able to do that, to surprise her. He shrugged again. "I guess I just felt like shit knowing I was the one that did it to you."
She seemed to accept this, but her eyebrows narrowed and he could see her gearing up for something.
"Arrogant much?" she asked. He saw he cheeks color in the closet's dim light. "It wasn't just because you Slushyied me, asshole. What did you think was going on before you threw that red crap in my face."
"You looked like you were fighting with…with…" He trailed off uncomfortably. He was only just now getting accustomed to thinking about this stuff; talking about it was another thing entirely.
She blew out a frustrated breath. "Say it – I was fighting with my girlfriend," she said bluntly. "I was fighting with the girl I'm in love with, who loves me, but not enough to be with me." She gritted her teeth, rolling her eyes. "I was telling her for the umpteenth time that I don't care what people say," she broke off, fixing him with an evil glare. "No matter what they do to me. I don't want anyone but her…" She trailed off, her eyes clouding with tears for a moment before she shook her head, stopping herself from falling back into it again.
So that's what it sounds like.
To own it.
He was suddenly filled with so much admiration for her, and in retrospect, he realized it was the thing he'd both loved and hated about Kurt Hummel, that he almost couldn't believe how badly he wanted to talk. About It.
Before he lost his nerve, he just spit it out.
"Y-you're braver than I am," he said, knowing as cryptic as it was, she would figure it out.
"Yeah? What's that supposed to mean," she asked, but he could tell she knew damn well what he was talking about.
She might not have been the best person to tell, everyone knew she had the biggest mouth at McKinley, but he was hoping he'd earned some cred with her; the towels might not have squared things between them completely, but maybe what he was about to tell her would.
He took a deep breath, thought about changing his mind, decided against it, and just blurted it out.
"Because instead of telling the person I loved how I felt, I…I…"
The minute the word "love" passed his lips, he felt his mouth go bone dry and his tongue congeal and he thought for sure he was going to puke.
And she stood watching him, her face surprisingly open, tender even. "Go on," she breathed. "You what?"
Was he really going to do this? Was he really going to admit this to someone who had every right to have a grudge against him, towels and bear hugs aside?
Did he really want to sit on this any longer?
No. No he fucking did not.
He felt the heat in his face and the block forming in his throat and he willed himself not to break, to just talk, to just be fucking honest for one.
"I…I pushed… I pushed him into lockers and I called him names and I stole things from him; I stole his first kiss from him…" He trailed off, breathing hard, afraid to look at her for fear of what he'd see on her face. That she'd laugh. That she'd run out of the room and tell anyone she could find. That she'd whip out her Blackberry and text the world.
Instead, she stood there blinking at him in disbelief.
"Shit, Karofsky. That's not a little thing," she said softly and he thought he heard something like awe in her voice.
For a second he panicked, wondered if he could still take it back, if it were too late to pretend he was kidding; shit, he even wondered how much cash he had on him – maybe he could bribe her into forgetting he'd said it.
But then she surprised the crap out of him, when he was pretty sure nothing else could surprise him…
Finally out of his own head, he suddenly noticed she was standing in front of him, close enough to touch him, and then she did – she slipped her arms back around him and got on her toes so she could hook her chin over his shoulder.
"Love makes you do some bad shit, doesn't it?" she breathed, squeezing him hard and he couldn't help it – his eyes filled up and started to leak down his face. If she were aware of it, she didn't say anything. "We're both pretty fucked up, you know that? You pushed the person you loved around until he left the school and I slept with every guy on the football team-"
"Except for me."
He didn't mean to say it, didn't even care, but it slipped out.
He didn't know what she was going to say to that, but then he felt her shake a little, laughing. "Except for you… Huh. Why was that?"
He started to rock her again and it felt kind of nice, being there with her, holding her close, having her hold him close. Not in a I-so-wanna-tap-that kind of way, not in a yeah-we-beat-those-[insert name of losing team]-losers-didn't-we? kind of way, but in a way that made him feel like someone gave a shit about how he felt for a change.
"Either you hadn't gotten around to me yet…or you've got finely tuned gaydar?"
"Yeah, that's it," she said, giggling and the sound made his heart soar; he was just really glad he'd come looking for her – and that she wasn't crying anymore. "So," she went on. "I slept with almost every guy on the football team because I was too scared to be with the person I loved."
She pulled away and looked at his face, eyebrows pinching together when she saw the wetness on his cheeks he was trying to hastily scrub away with his hands.
Her expression said something like, "Aw, Dave…." and normally, he'd tell the pity to piss off, but right now, it was nice to not feel like he had to for a change.
"Love kind of sucks, doesn't it, Pirate?" She winked at him, then grabbed her bag from the rack.
"Fuck, yeah, it does," he agreed, gathering the towels together, then stopping short. "Wait – 'Pirate?'"
She had her hand on the door knob already, swinging it open to the empty hallway.
"I like to give people names. You don't think you look a little like a pirate?" She looked back at him, grinning. "Yeah, yeah… All's you need is a parrot to sit on your shoulder and squawk out sea shanties or something."
He snorted out his nose. "Sea chanties."
"Whatever," she said, but she was smiling when she said it…