Story: Someone Like You – 1/8
Fandom: Glee – Written for the Kurtofsky Reverse Bang
Rating: R – for language and non-explicit sexual situations
Characters: Kurt, Dave, Blaine, "OC" Gwen
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: [Written for the kurtofskyrebang using jennybliss's art and story concept.] In the end, Kurt got everything he wanted out of life and Dave fulfilled his own dreams, so why aren't they happy? A chance encounter in NYC brings the boys together again after many years. Can they help each other deal with their pasts (and their futures) and finally figure out what they truly need to be happy?
Literary License #1: One scene in this story takes place at a Barney's Warehouse sale in New York City. For the purpose of the story, I have – incorrectly, I know – set it at Barney's 5th Avenue location (it's a Central Park/Kurt-and-Dave special place thing) even though I know the Barney's Warehouse is actually on 17th Street. Apologies for bending geography (or whatever it is I'm bending) to my will for the sake of a story. ;)
Literary License #2: Mention is made of Industrial Age photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher (who are really wonderful and worth looking up if you're into photography!), but while I state that Dave in fact met both Bernd and Hilla at a lecture in Berlin, this is not possible since Bernd passed away in 2007. I'm sure no one will care about this but me, but in the interests of accuracy, I had to mention it. :)
Literary License #3: I have combined the art installations of DIA:Beacon and the Storm King Art Center, whose collections enrich the lovely Hudson Valley in which I live – but are on opposite sides of the Hudson… (I LOVE ART!)
Someone Like You – 1/8
Sometimes the rumors are true…
That fall seemed to be inordinately filled with rumors, more so than the usual number circulating through New York's social elite – and the army of assistants, housekeepers, caterers, and hairdressers that supported them…
There was the one about the handsome young Broadway heart throb who might not have been as gay as he wanted people, especially his husband, to believe…
Or the one about the brilliant and beautiful entertainment attorney who might, or might not, have been cheating on her long-time fiancé with one of her clients…
There was a particularly scandalous story concerning an up-and-coming fashion designer who, if the outrageous rumors were true, was actually contemplating a gender switch, presumably to keep his purportedly bi-curious lover interested…
And there was a rumor about a talented young architect, a recent transplant to New York who arrived with his well-heeled fiancée from the mid-west via Los Angeles; a handsome young man who on the surface was every inch the very picture of a heterosexual man, but who, in point of fact, was anything but…
Perhaps the most interesting rumor of all was the one that, despite its unlikely participants, seemed to carry the weight of truth because said participants had been observed, caught in the act, as it were, by any number of people.
The rumor had it that these two men who had nothing in common but their home town, who weren't even in the same zip code sexually, who barely spoke the same language culturally, were nonetheless quite smitten with each other…
Make what you will of rumors. Some are the very height of absurd, an art form all their own, bearing not even the faintest hint of truth.
And sometimes, even in the face of absurdity, a kernel of reality remains.
Sometimes the rumors are true…
Kurt Hummel got everything he'd ever dreamed of; a life in the theatre, a swanky New York apartment, and the man of his dreams.
He'd gotten it all.
Of course, that life in the theatre wasn't quite the one he'd envisioned when he and Rachel Berry had fantasized their way through senior year back in Lima, Ohio, and the swanky apartment, while indeed swanky, was one in which he was more often than not, alone. (Well, after the housekeeper had left for the day, anyway.)
As for the man of his dreams, while you could definitely say that Kurt had him, often, the only real evidence of that was the occasional Page Six blurb and the dozen or so lovely framed photos of them together, smiling and happy (and younger), that were neatly and artfully set out on the mantels in every room of their swanky apartment.
If that was what constituted All, then yes, you could say Kurt had, indeed, gotten It.
He knew he shouldn't complain and he rarely did. It might not have been exactly what he was hoping for, all those years ago, but he did have a wonderful life. He was grateful for the things he had. The dreams of his frivolous youth seemed naïve in the full light of adulthood.
And yet, even now, when he had accomplished so much, when he had so much in his life that was right and good, he couldn't help but look back on those naïve dreams and wonder if things could have been different.
After graduating with honors from NYADA, the harsh reality of the Broadway audition circuit had hit Kurt like a ton of bricks. For all his talent and training, for all the years spent beefing up his resume in regional theatre, and the thousands of dollars spent on vocal coaches, for all the ease with which he could now, at the drop of a hat, easily morph into straight-guy mode, his complexion, his bone structure, his freaking breathing patterns, belied all of that; casting directors still saw him as "too gay" for most roles. (Blaine Anderson, the aforementioned love-of-Kurt's-life, had faced no such stigma when he'd burst onto the Broadway scene eight years ago, in spite of being no less gay than Kurt.)
After years of chorus lines and the occasional clichéd gay part, Kurt had had enough.
He applied to FIT and was accepted into their costume design program, completing the BFA in two years with his liberal arts credits from NYADA.
Five years later, after having been nominated for a Tony for his work on last year's revival of "Cabaret," Kurt Hummel was a much sought after costume designer. He was, indeed, very happy with his career; it was one that embraced him as fully as he had always, all those years ago in the teaming bucolic hallways of McKinley High, embraced it, back when he was creating cutting edge, avant-garde looks daily and calling it personal expression…
He'd be lying, though, if he said he didn't miss performing; singing and dancing had always been as natural a form of personal expression as his couture.
Kurt worked in the theatre, he shared his life with one of its most celebrated, his best friend in the world, the incomparable Rachel Berry, was yet another of its shining stars; he had ample opportunity to experience the thrill of performing vicariously through the talented people he loved and worked with. It wasn't as satisfying as being on the stage himself, of course, but he hadn't forgotten his father's sage advice; one day he would write the perfect role for himself.
Most of the time, he was too busy to indulge the jealousy. His days were filled with production meetings, costume research, fabric shopping, and endless sketches, fittings, and critiques. When he had free time, which was rare, he spent it with friends, or, on the rare occasion their schedules meshed, with Blaine, whose own life was filled to brimming with rehearsals, performances, and the promotional work for whatever show he was in at the moment. (Currently, the role of Michael Novatny in the musical adaptation of "Queer as Folk.")
For two people who shared their lives with one another, they saw blessed little of each other. Sadly, such was the nature of the (Broadway) beast. Then again, the same could be said of any two people with busy careers and lives of their own.
Kurt was used to having to compete for Blaine's time with his "groupies." Back at Dalton he'd had quite an entourage. At McKinley, that posse had dropped to just one or two, with one being Kurt himself, and he'd enjoyed having the nearly unlimited attention of his boyfriend. But when Blaine had joined Kurt and Rachel at NYADA a year after they'd arrived, and later, when he'd won his first audition – he replaced some obscure television actor as the lead in "How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying" – it became clear he would, again, have to compete for Blaine's time. In addition to the usual hangers-on – friends, acquaintances, moochers – the young star's entourage now included his manager, his personal assistant, a bodyguard (hired for Kurt's safety, too, Blaine had said, but when were they ever together?) and recently, an attorney, on hand to broker a possible Hollywood deal for him.
Kurt didn't begrudge Blaine the trappings of his success – he was talented and had worked hard to gain them – he was only saddened that with so many people clamoring for a piece of Blaine Anderson, there was less and less of Blaine Anderson to go around…
Which was how on a rare day notable for its three adjacent hours of free time, Kurt was out shopping alone at a Barney's Warehouse sale, and how he got into a tug-of-war over the very last plum cashmere scarf in the store – only to find a familiar pair of hands on the other end…
People considered David Karofsky a lucky man.
They said he had everything anyone could want; an exciting career, a fabulous home, a beautiful and loving fiancée.
If you asked Dave, he would indeed tell you that his career as an architect was an exciting one. And though Dave was not one to brag, (he'd given up the macho posturing when he'd left McKinley High), he would not deny that his home was very much the text book definition of "fabulous."
He also would not deny that his fiancée was both gorgeous and that she loved him, often to distraction.
These were the trappings of a successful life, the kind of life the society he lived in told him he should want. They were, in point of fact, the things he had told himself he wanted, that he had ground into himself all those years ago when he was trying to convince himself that he was just like anyone else, just like any other kid/boy/guy growing up in this world.
They were the things he believed he would someday have.
That is, until that day in junior high, when a strange, pale boy in tight pink jeans skipped across the athletic field and changed his world forever…
It was the last thing that anyone would have suspected about Dave Karofsky – maybe the second to last thing – but it was true nonetheless.
His week in "the arts," that fateful pairing of the glee club and the football team, barely registered as a footnote in Dave's life story, and yet in spite of his blink-and-you'd-miss-it performance, despite how vehemently he'd deny it to your face, Dave Karofsky was actually a very talented actor.
He'd had to be.
When he'd first realized Kurt Hummel's tight pink jeans were affecting him in a wholly unexpected, and unwanted, way, he'd had no choice but to act like he was disgusted – repulsed by the kid's obvious "gayness." He carried that homophobic bully act on into high school and it was a persona he kept up quite convincingly until that one fateful afternoon when his anger, fear and confusion ran up against an equally pissed off brick wall by the name of, yes, Kurt Hummel – and that illusion was shattered.
Either by virtue of some gay solidarity thing or Hummel's own strong sense of right and wrong (for which Dave would always be grateful), Hummel never told anyone what he knew about Dave, at least, not anyone important, annoying hobbit boyfriend notwithstanding.
It was still unnerving knowing that someone, someone who had every right to make Dave's life a well-deserved living hell, knew the truth he was still trying to hide, but as the weeks stretched on and the Mighty Hand of Doom hadn't smote him down, Dave reached a kind of equilibrium, the "Fury" act intact, if somewhat muted. (Scowls, OK. Slushies, not OK.)
It was a credit to the strength of his past performance that people believed that Dave Karofsky the Jock was still the straight boy he'd always pretended to be, even when he put on a red satin jacket and a beret and played the role of protector of McKinley's downtrodden; even then, all people saw was a repentant bully.
Still, it was hard for him to maintain; the number of people who knew the truth seemed to grow daily.
Then came their disastrous junior prom and his sad-faced, whining, "I can't…" after walking down the runway with Hummel as though he were going to dance with him…
And he really didn't have any other choice. The only way to save the lie was to leave.
After his transfer to Carmel High, it was easier to feign straight. The only rep that preceded him was that of football badass and he had no Hummel to confuse or distract him. If there were other gay kids at Carmel – and there had to be, right? – he did not notice. He studied hard and played hard…and kept his eyes to the floor when he was in the locker room. If it weren't for his weekly trip to Scandals, Lima's lame-ass gay bar, he might not have made it through senior year. He didn't…well, he didn't do anything while he was there, except talk to a few of the guys, but it was a relief, once a week, to not have to pretend to be anything. (Except for of legal drinking age, that is.)
So, even though he'd still had to be careful to not forget himself, to not let his guard down or do anything that might raise suspicions about him, it was still a relatively easy senior year. He was still lying, yes, but at least he didn't have to see Kurt Hummel's supportive, yet judgmental face every day, didn't have to feel pressured to do anything, say anything, be anything he wasn't ready for yet.
And he promised himself; once he got to college, things would be different. He wasn't going to wake up one day and shoe-horn himself into a pair of skinny pink jeans, but he was going to leave himself open to…the possibilities. Ohio State was a big school in a big, big city. Columbus was known to be nearly as diverse as New York was. Dave might not have been ready to wave a rainbow flag, but he knew he was apt to see others who were, and if he felt he could be accepted, if he felt comfortable, well…who knew?
His first semester in school was a hectic one, filled with the experiences of a first-time college student; Dave was too busy to think about being attracted to anyone, let alone giving in to or fighting that attraction. And busy as he was, he was also pretty damn happy for the first time in he didn't know how long.
He'd made it! He was out of Lima-freaking-Ohio.
There at OSU, he had the opportunity to fulfill two life-long dreams; he was accepted into the School of Architecture and he made the football team.
Dave Karofsky was an Ohio State Buckeye!
Not far into the semester, he sadly came to the realization that he couldn't juggle the two – architecture and football – and as much as it pained him, his suffering grades told him which one had to go.
For a blessed while, there wasno need to keep up the act.
He was just Dave Karofsky, busy freshman, keeping up with his classes, making friends, guys and girls, and he didn't need to be anything beyond that.
He met Greg O'Keefe at the start of his second semester in his first real architecture class, Intro to Design, and they bonded over the endless reading assignments and bottomless black coffee. If he felt anything for Greg in the beginning, it was the relief of making his first real college friend. Greg was a stereotypical straight-guy college student – he wore flannel shirts and high-top sneakers, he listened to Linkin Park and Pink Floyd, he watched football games and he drank beer. In short, Greg was just like Dave. (Except in that one, all-important way.)
Dave didn't immediately start crushing on his friend. That would have just seemed wrong. Plus he'd never quite gotten Kurt Hummel's pale skin and slim hips out of his head and if he were forced to admit to a type, Hummel would clearly have been "it." As the semester progressed, though, and they spent more and more time together, Dave couldn't help but feel something for his friend.
Greg was outgoing and funny and popular. Taller than Dave, he was lean and blond. By everyone's assessment, particularly the girls they met, Greg O'Keefe was hot.
But…but Greg was also Dave's buddy, the guy who helped him memorize the umpteen architectural styles created since the dawn of mankind, the guy who cleaned him up after he disastrously mixed tequila and schnapps and nachos at the Delta Pi Spring Fling, the guy who let him beat the pants off of him at Call of Duty at least once a day, even though they both knew Greg was unstoppable.
Dave would never have said anything, never done anything, to risk losing that, especially when he was still so unsure of himself. He may have come a long way since high school, but he barely had a toe out of the closet – and really, wasn't Scandals just an extension of that closet anyway? Making a move on his straight best friend was the last thing a neophyte like Dave was going to do, and so he played the part of the dutiful friend and let on not a thing about what he might really be feeling.
Maybe that was why what happened surprised them both so much…
The semester was over and Dave's roommate was already gone. Dave's dad was coming up from Lima in the morning to get him, and Greg, who wasn't leaving for another day, had come over for one last evening of pizza and Xbox. Naturally, there was beer, and naturally, there was macho crowing over game losses and wins, which led, just as naturally, to name calling and good-natured, drunken wrestling. But when that wrestling resulted in some…unexpected realizations, what happened next surprised them both.
It wasn't unusual to pop a boner from wrestling with a friend, it happened to guys all the time, and Dave would have laughed off the embarrassment of it but for two things that happened in quick succession:
Greg immediately got hard, too, and then…he leaned in and kissed Dave suddenly on the mouth.
For a frozen second, Dave didn't know what to do, he couldn't breath, he couldn't think. And then it was like a switch had flipped in his head; moving on pure instinct, he grabbed Greg's face, hands deep in Greg's hair, and kissed him back with the full force of months and months of buried want.
What followed next was frantic and awkward and ultimately amazing. They fell asleep where they landed, in a heap on the floor, and the next morning, when Paul Karofsky arrived with the mini-van, that's where he found Dave; a little confused, a lot hung-over, and completely alone.
Somehow he made it through that day, stopping after each load to the car to text Greg, but he never heard back from him – not that day or any other.
And, in August, when he got notice from the school that he'd been assigned a new roommate for the fall – he and Greg had planned to share a room – Dave knew he'd never see his friend again.
Something awful had settled into his gut as they drove home from school that day and now, with the reality of it in black and white in his hand, Dave felt himself more than just slipping backwards towards that closet, he felt himself running headlong for it.
He could not help thinking that he was the one that had fucked this up. He was the freak. He was the loser. He was the one that had misread the signals, that couldn't even pull off being gay right.
Of course Greg hadn't meant it.
He'd been too drunk and too brainless to realize what they were doing, that's all. And Dave, with his hands on his friend, finally, had taken that fucking ball and run with it.
All Dave could see was how toxic he was. He'd made Kurt Hummel run away. Fuck, he'd made himself run. And now? Now he'd freaked out his best friend in the world, scared him away, made him transfer colleges or worse, drop out. He'd fucked up the life of someone he really cared out.
He was shit. He was dog shit.
So Dave shut himself off. He pushed all his friends away, those from home and especially those from school – anyone that knew Greg and might ask where he was. He could think of no other way to protect himself, short of transferring to a new school, and he just refused to be that much of a coward again.
If people were talking, he didn't hear anything. Or rather, he didn't overhear people talking about what might have happened to Greg, only those muttering about "that asshole, Karofsky!" or wondering when Dave had become such a jerk…
And so Dave crawled back into the closet, closed the door, and resigned himself to being a loner and a loser.
(Albeit a loser earning six figures if he kept his nose in his books…)
He was halfway through grad school when a petite brunette sat herself down next to him in the student union and started chattering away like she'd known him all her life.
Dave had been living his life in the vacuum of no-friends for over three years now and while he'd become accustomed to the silence of his own thoughts spinning in his head, the not unpleasant sound of someone else's voice was actually a relief.
And so he let her talk. And when she showed up the next day and plopped down next to him again, he let her talk some more.
He learned a lot of things over the next few days.
Her name was Gwen Reynolds and she had just finished a law degree. She was prepping for the bar and planning to go into entertainment law. She loved film and theatre, but had no talent of her own. That's why she wanted to work with actors.
Her father was some big-time industrialist who came from money and then made a fortune of his own. She had no siblings – she was perfect, she said, so her parents had seen no need for more kids.
She was used to getting whatever she wanted whether her daddy got it for her or she got it herself. She'd looked him right in the eye when she'd said that, and though that should have been Dave's first clue and should have sent him running, he just sat there, too drawn in by her charisma and her intensity to leave.
He wasn't attracted to her like a guy would be attracted to a girl, but he couldn't deny it was nice to be sought out again, to be the focus of all that intensity. That she didn't know about his past or about the mountain of baggage he dragged around with him (and he'd thought all of that was obvious, but maybe it wasn't?), was more than a little freeing.
She seemed to like him despite the perpetual scowl he wore, despite the pallid skin and the paunch his all-study lifestyle had spawned, and she looked at him like no one else in his life ever had but the one he'd buried even deeper than Greg O'Keefe – though an arched brow and a smirk and some bizarro costume floated unbidden through his head even as he fought the memory.
And that was how Dave Karofsky, whose life had become a string of No's, let Gwen Reynolds, who never took the Word for an answer, into his simple and complicated life…