Story: Point of No Return
Rating: PG-13 (for Dave's potty mouth)
Characters: Dave and Paul Karofsky, one-sided Kurtofsky
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: The last time we saw Dave Karofsky, he was fleeing the prom rather than dance with Kurt (or come out of the closet); the next time we see him he'll be a very different person. How he got from point A to point G might have started this way…
Spoilers: Season 2, 3 and the recent Ausiello spoilers re: 3.05
A/N: Want Dave back? (Yes, you do!) Tweet the writers/producers/media on Nov 9 (and before) and use the hash tag #bringkarofskyback. Dave needs our love! (And we need him! AND Max!)
A/N #2: See my Glee fic archive . (Check latest journal entry for most recent updates.)
A/N #3: Chris Colfer, I love you! Thanks for giving a sad pirate some hope, however small…
Point of No Return
Joan and Paul Karofsky were creatures of habit.
Even when they didn't have to, they did the early-to-bed, early-to-rise thing, as regular as clockwork, which meant that Dave had had the living room to himself since he'd gotten home a few minutes ago.
This was a good thing, because, putting it mildly, Dave was a friggin' mess.
Wiping his nose on the arm of the couch, he pulled a coaster out of the coffee table drawer and carefully placed in on the table runner before setting his half bottle of scotch down. He might be a mess, but that was no reason to leave a ring on mom's new Ethan Allen. At the last minute, he pulled the cheap plastic crown off his head and slipped it over the bottle where it settled against the plush velvet runner.
He looked at the bottle, picked it up again, took another swig, belched.
He was done, over, screwed.
To use a timely pun – he was royally fucked…
How could he ever go back to school now?
If there hadn't been rumors about him before, there sure as fuck were going to be after tonight.
They might not have looked it on paper – their collective test scores might have begged to differ – but the student body of McKinley High School was a wicked smart pack of wolves.
It wouldn't take them long to put 2 and 2 together: his expulsion for harassing Kurt Hummel; his subsequent bodyguarding of Kurt Hummel; his coincidental (?) election as Prom King to Hummel's Prom "Queen;" and lastly, Dave's red-faced and hasty retreat from the gym rather than dance with, did he have to say it?, Kurt Hummel, Dave's whimpered "I can't!" trailing him out into the hallway. (And out into the parking lot, and onto the road, and could he still, still hear it...)
And so he'd been driving for hours, bumming around the back roads so no one could see him with the bottle of scotch he'd filched from his dad's liquor cabinet. (It was 9:00 when he'd snuck back into the house for the bottle and, naturally, they were already asleep…) He had the music cranked to melt the speakers, loud and angry and as anti-social as he was feeling.
Twice he'd almost gotten onto the Interstate for parts unknown, but stopped himself, in part because the only clothes he had were on his back and who wanted to spend the rest of their life in a fucking suit and crown, and in part because his wallet was pretty much empty and he knew his dad wasn't going to be loading anything onto his debit card until payday next Friday, and if Dave ran now, that wouldn't be happening.
So he'd cruised and drank and screamed to the music and cried and cursed and pretty much come to the realization that his freaking life was over.
Butt deep in the couch cushions, he grabbed the doily he'd ruined and shoved it out of sight. Burying his head in his hands for a minute, he scrubbed at his cheeks until they hurt.
How could he ever go back to McKinley?
He would never have the balls to do what Hummel told him he had to, and that either meant lying to everyone for the rest of his life, or it meant telling the truth and getting the shit kicked out of him. Either way he was screwed.
Even if they hadn't put the digits together before, they had to be thinking something; why else for those twisted election results?
Still, he hadn't helped his own case any by walking down the runway with the kid.
What had he been thinking?
Actually, that was the problem. He hadn't been thinking.
He'd gotten caught up in the cloud of rainbow-colored pixie dust that always floated around Hummel, hypnotized by the twirl of that Braveheart skirt, by the flushed cheeks and crazy-brave expression Kurt had worn when he'd marched back into the gym and onto that stage. Dave hadn't even realized he'd followed the kid down the runway until Hummel was looking at him with those damn doe-eyes of his, telling Dave to seize his big gay moment and dance with him.
And he'd almost done it, too.
He'd sure as fuck wanted to.
All night long, he'd watched Hummel dance with his hobbit boyfriend while Dave pretended to be the cool dude dancing with the hottest chick there. (And all the hot chick wanted was to dance with Brittany Pearce.)
Dave had never hated himself more.
Grabbing the bottle again, he took a big, long swallow.
All those months of fighting it and pretending he wasn't what he…what he was and the minute that kid walked in in that damn skirt, it was all over.
Hummel was a permanent blip on Dave's radar now, a permanent spike in the center of his chest, a permanent fucking fire running through his stupid fucking veins…
Not that Hummel…Kurt, hadn't been on Dave's radar for years…
That kiss in the locker room hadn't quite been the "accident" he'd tried to make it out to be. Not if he was really being honest with himself, and fuck, if he couldn't be honest with himself, he really should just run away…
Back there at the prom, he'd somehow come to his senses and run the fuck out of there, but the damage had already been done; he'd only managed to make himself look like the world's biggest pussy.
Dance with the gay boy.
Refuse to dance with the gay boy.
If Dave had really been trying to make some sort of hetero statement, he would have punctuated his departure with a disgusted laugh and a few choice words, then grabbed Santana for some dirty dancing moves. He'd been too freaked, though, to think straight (straight? ha!) then and now, well, now his ass was grass; he was sure of it.
And on the other side of it was Hummel, who looked so fragile, but was the strongest person Dave had ever met. The school had pulled the prank of the century on him and he'd just stared them all down, turned their own shit back on them, and he'd done it not with bitterness and guilt, but with humor and something Dave had heard of, but never seen in action before; grace.
For whatever else Hummel was – prissy and arrogant and self-righteous – he was also brave and smart and not nearly as self-involved as Dave would have thought, now that Hummel had turned that intensity on Dave and Dave's "pain."
And, now that Dave was loose and drunk and openly admitting things to himself, he was also fucking beautiful.
The flush in his pale cheeks, those wide-set, unreal, anime-eyes, the wide shoulders offset by the jacket's cinched waist and Hummel's own slim, slim hips…
Fuck, I am so gay…
Dave just didn't think he could hide who he was anymore, not with that big, gaping hole in the center of his chest, not with the homing beacon attached to his gaydar zeroing in whenever the kid got within 100 feet of Dave...
Dave didn't think he'd ever not be aware of Kurt again.
And he could never, never come out at McKinley.
He had way too much history with these people. He knew how they thought, and fuck, he'd thought that way once, too. He knew exactly what he was in for.
His life would be a living hell.
Slushies and locker slams wouldn't be good enough for Dave Karofsky, King of the Hypocrites; they would drag him out behind the school and beat the ever lovin' shit out of him.
Dave shivered, draining the bottle.
The road was starting to sound better and better.
Maybe he could…maybe he could fake an illness to get out of having to go to school this week, just until his dad loaded Dave's card again, and then he'd cut out – run away – on Friday.
Of course, this meant never seeing Hummel again, but maybe that was the best thing. Why torture himself, right? And hadn't he fucked up the kid's life enough anyway?
Somewhere in the fog of booze and self-pity, the blacklight light bulb in Dave's head glowed to psychedelic life and he suddenly gestalted that running away meant more than just missing Kurt's fruity outfits and pale skin, it also meant Dave never seeing his mom and dad and big brother Michael again…
He was entirely too sober for a thought like that.
Dave was frantically rummaging through his dad's liquor cabinet for opened bottles of whatever, so didn't hear the car tear into the driveway, and his breathless blubbering drowned out the sound of the frantic footsteps running up to the front door.
He'd just downed a disgusting mouthful of something minty and unpleasant when the front door burst open.
"David? David? My god, I've been looking for you for hours!"
Paul Karofsky looked disheveled and not at all his usual, buttoned-down self. His thinning hair was spiky – pillow-styled – and he was wearing mismatched loafers with his striped flannel pajama bottoms. There was a frantic expression on his reddened face, edged with confusion and something else – utter relief.
Dave hadn't seen his dad that scared since his brother had gone missing in Iraq that long, long week last year.
Luckily, Dave was no stranger to guilt…
"S-sorry, Dad," he slurred, waving his crème-de-menthe apologetically. "Didn't wanna wake you, thought I'd take a nice long drive." He wiped his mouth, and then his wet cheeks, with the back of his hand. "I had my phone turned off. Sor-ry!"
Dave hiccupped softly, wondered why he'd never noticed how comfy the floor looked before, and sat down, cross-legged, in front of the liquor cabinet.
His dad was still looking confused, but now there was the fun-fun hint of pissed-off in his expression…
"Where have you been, David," he said through grit teeth. "Mark Taylor called me at 9:30. He said his son had texted something about you being crowned prom king, something about the Hummel boy, and then you running out of there upset…"
Oh, fuck, really?
Dave knew his dad was thinking about everything that had happened last year and he wanted to tell him he hadn't done anything wrong this time, but…but he didn't know if that was true anymore.
"I'm s-sorry, Dad. Honessss…"
Fuck! Why couldn't he stop his eyes from leaking all over his face?
His dad was back to looking scared again and Dave figured sitting on the floor like he was was probably the reason. Or it could be the booze. Or maybe the crying.
Yeah, it was definitely the crying.
His dad was bent over now, looking like he wasn't sure what to do, or maybe like he knew what to do, but not how, and then he must have figured it out because he braced himself on the edge of the buffet, got down on one knee, and with a grunt, was sitting next to Dave on the floor, back against the liquor cabinet.
"If you want to talk about it, son, I'd sure like to listen."
And just like that Dave was leaning against his dad and crying and talking like he hadn't done since he was five, like the time that Michael had taken all his crayons and melted them down in the oven.
Five minutes into it, he stopped, pulled far enough away to look his dad in the eye, took a deep breath, and just fucking said it.
"Dad, I'm…I'm gay."
Paul Karofsky froze for a second, but to his credit, never broke eye contact with his son.
Dave watched the play of emotions across his father's face, like the spin of a roulette wheel, and remembering Paul's conversation with Kurt's dad last spring, he wondered which one he'd land on. When the tension broke and his dad smiled, Dave knew it would be all right.
"I know that was hard for you to say, David, and I want you to know I don't care – I still love you. You're my son." An arm already around Dave's shoulder, Paul Karofsky pulled him closer, awkwardly at first, then with genuine warmth. "You've known for some time now, haven't you?" Dave just nodded. "Is that what the whole episode with the Hummel boy was about last year?"
Dave nodded again, decided he wasn't sober enough to do that much head-shaking, and just blew out a slow breath. He needed to steel himself for what came next, for the thing in his life that he was least proud of, outside of tonight, of course.
Leaning forward, he cradled his head in his hands. "I was…I was being a jerk to him, I was always being a jerk to him, but this time, he called me on it and chased me into the locker room. He started yelling at me – he's a lot tougher than he looks – and he was all up in my face and he just wouldn't leave me alone, so…so I kissed him."
He laughed bitterly.
"Surprised the hell out of both of us…" He caught his dad's eye, saw he wasn't smiling, (why would he be? was this actually funny?), and went on. "After that…I was really freaked out – that he knew, that he might tell someone, that they'd all find out – and I'm not…I'm not proud of what I did next…"
Paul Karofsky's jaw was tight as he spoke. "That's why you threatened to kill him."
"I would never have done it, Dad," he cried, voice frantic. "I didn't mean it! I swear!"
"Sssshhh… I know that, David," Paul said, rubbing soothing circles on the back of Dave's wrinkled suit jacket. "It was a really bad thing to say, but you were scared."
Dave scrubbed his hands at his face, realizing it was wet again.
Jeez, why aren't I dehydrated yet?
His dad's hand stopped making his back warm and when Dave looked up at him, Paul looked like he was about to cry himself, which, any kid will tell you, is the second scariest thing a son will ever see. (The first involves the inopportunely timed opening of his parent's bedroom door…)
"W-were you afraid of what your mother and I would say when we found out?" He closed his eyes, setting off a trickle from the corner of each. "Was there…was there something in how we raised you that made you think we wouldn't love you if we knew the truth?"
Dave shook his head fast and hard, trying to ignore the way the room tilted funny when he did.
He wasn't worried about his mom and dad, somehow he knew that'd be okay, but his brother Michael, three years older and in the Marines, wasn't exactly the most open-minded guy.
"I never want to disappoint you and Mom, Dad," he said. "But what I was really worried about was what the kids at school, the guys on the football team, the friggin' puckheads were going to do…" Grunting, he got to his feet. "I'm sure you've guessed that that incident with Kurt Hummel wasn't the first time…the first time I'd done something like that…"
He saw his dad grimace, which could have been from what Dave was saying, or from his attempt to get up off the floor. Dave held out both hands, hoisting the man to his feet.
Paul Karofsky sighed heavily, breathless, as he pulled out a chair from the dining room table and sat down.
"I don't have to tell you I'm not happy to hear that, David. Your mother and I raised you to know better."
Dave felt his cheeks color, his first sign that he might be sobering up; that hurt. He deserved it, but it hurt.
"I know, dad, and it's fucked up, I admit it."
His father raised an eyebrow at the language, but otherwise said nothing.
"I know what these guys are capable of, what I was capable of, what we did to…to kids like, well…kids like me."
He circled the table then, pulling out the chair diagonal to his dad out of sheer habit – his family designated seat. It was a weird position to be in now, but the distance between them somehow made it easier for him to go on. The weight of his fears was suddenly pressing on him heavily; he felt them coming at him from all sides – above, behind, and from the pit of his belly below.
"They will kill me, dad," he finally managed to choke out, surprised at the intensity of his own terror, crying in earnest once again. "Doesn't matter who I was to them, they'd waste me. To be…to be w-what I am…and to have pretended to be…normal?" He looked up at his father, relieved at the understanding and realization he saw on Paul Karofsky's face. "I can't go back there, Dad! After tonight, after that call you got, if they don't know, they're gonna suspect. There will be rumors and, fuck! Why do you think I turned my phone off?"
Flipping his tie over, he wiped his nose on the red silk. Who gives a fuck about a tie when your life is over?
His dad seemed to be deep in thought, staring at his hands, for fuck's sake, so Dave just went on, scared of the silence, of what it might mean.
"I'm leaving tonight, Dad. I've got some money in my room. It's not a lot, but I can sleep in my truck for a while if I have to. I'll go…I'll go to Los Angeles, or maybe San Francisco – they like people like me there, I hear. I can look for a job and I'll call you and mom when I…"
He trailed off when he looked over and caught his father's expression – like he was speaking in tongues or singing opera or something.
"What are you talking about, David? You're not going anywhere." Dave felt himself start to hyperventilate and Paul waved his hands, shaking his head frantically, eyebrows high. "It's going to be fine, David – I promise you. And don't worry about school. You'll transfer somewhere else. I hear there's a fine private boys' school in Westerville."
"No!" Dave screamed. "No fucking way am I going to Everybody Is Fucking Gay High School! Not with that…not with that greasy asswipe!" The flash of a self-satisfied grin made his blood run cold.
Placating, Paul's hands hovered over the table. "Okay, okay, we'll find somewhere else. The important thing is you don't have to back to McKinley again if you don't want to."
"Good," Dave said, voice shaky. "Because I don't want to."
"I figured as much, son," his dad said and they passed a tired smile between them.
It was too soon to be relieved, the fear was still too fresh in his veins, but at least he didn't feel like he was going to pass out anymore.
No, he was feeling something else entirely.
Dave saw his dad's eyes crinkle as Dave's stomach chose that moment to growl insistently.
"When was the last time you ate?" Dave shrugged, honestly unsure. "How 'bout some pie then?" Paul Karofsky snuck a quick glance up the stairs. "Your mom baked her famous deep dish apple today."
His belly gurgled happily at the thought and Dave marveled at its ability to switch gears like that. He knew what he was going to be dreaming about tonight and it sure as fuck wasn't food…
Pushing out his chair, he got up from the table.
"Does mom know…?"
Paul was shaking his head as he stood. "I didn't want to worry her, in case you were just a little late, so, no, I didn't even wake her." He caught his son's eye, held it. "We'll tell her tomorrow, son – together." He winked. "It'll be fine, David. It's all going to be just fine."
Something in the tone of his dad's voice sent a spike of memory through Dave's system and he couldn't help feeling like he was five-years old again, warm and protected by his dad; safe.
He followed his father into the kitchen, the sting of tears filling his eyes again – or was it just the glare of the overhead light after a couple hours of dim? – and deciding he didn't care which it was, that he needed to feel like a five-year old for a little longer, he stumbled up to he counter, to where his dad was carving out huge hunks of pie for them, and threw his arms around him, so grateful for how quickly his father's arms circled him back that he didn't bother to stifle the whimper of relief or suck back the tears streaming down his face.
It wasn't over by a long shot, but somehow, it wasn't the end of the world either.