Written for Kurtofsky Fest as a pinch hit.

Prompt: Dave hangs out with Azimio and Kurt. It's the first time the three of them have all hung out together. Dave and Kurt could be dating or they could be friends leaning towards starting a relationship. Dave is worried that Kurt and Azimio won't get along at all, but it goes surprisingly well when Kurt and Azimio realize they have something unusual in common. Wanted: humor, Dave's POV, sass, friendship, Azimio's verbose vocabulary

Author's note: Set directly after the hospital scene in 'On My Way'. AU from then although some of canon is alluded to. Probably a little angstier than what the prompter wanted as I don't think I quite managed with the humor, sass or Azimio's verbosity but I was unfortunately working with a tight time frame.


He recognizes the way the name is spat, 'Hummel', like it's dirty and his knuckles tighten in the starchy sheets of his hospital bed. He hadn't expected to see Z again, and it's just his fucking luck that he has to come and visit again when Kurt has just left his hospital room. He has no idea what Z is doing here, he's made his views painfully clear and his stomach churns and he feels like he's going to be sick. Again. He wishes his good mood from Kurt's visit could have lasted a little longer.

"What are you doing here?" Z demands, like he actually has any right to demand that information from Kurt. He wonders if he should press the call button for a nurse, just so they have an audience and have to behave.

"Seeing a friend."

"Dave? He a friend of yours now?"

"A better friend than you apparently."

He has to bite back a grin, because fuck he wishes he had Kurt's level of courage.

"You don't know anything about my friendship with Dave!"

"I know you don't love and accept him for who he is. For how he was born. Do you think he cares that you're black?"

He bites his lip and wishes he could see them, because while he can't hear anyone dropping to the ground he knows they have to at least be trying to stare each other down. As much as he'd appreciated Kurt's offer of friendship a part of him had mourned his friendship with Z.

"Why are you here? He made your life hell." Quieter voices now, and he has to strain to hear him, and he can't really hear Kurt's answer, just a few disjointed words but he guesses Kurt's saying something about them being friends, or having an understanding.

"Is he okay?"

"Honestly? No," Kurt replies, his voice a little louder and he knows Kurt is angry now. He recognizes that tone of voice easily enough. "He needs a friend right now, and while I've offered I don't think I'm exactly what he really needs or wants right now. His mom is telling him how sick he is, how they can get him fixed. You… I don't know what you said to him exactly, but he feels like he's lost you as well. If you can do anything to fix that then I know it would help."

He closes his eyes against the welling tears and hopes against hope that it might make a difference, that Kurt is trying to give him back something. When he opens them Z is standing in the doorway watching him, and they just stare at each other before he jerks his head in greeting, exactly the same way he's done a hundred times before and something unclenches in his stomach. This might work out after all.

He tries and keeps them separate, because he knows they don't exactly have a harmonious past (or future) and they still go to the same school so it's more than a little messy. While he might have made his peace with Kurt, Z is a different story altogether. He doesn't change the fact that he considers both of them friends though. He only sees Kurt once a fortnight, but they text almost daily, sometimes multiple times. He's had to drop out of school, which he knows is fucking up his academic record terribly but no one is talking about it to him, like they don't want him to worry about it. He knows he will have to repeat and strangely he's okay with that. He puts it down to all the therapy he's in.

It's Saturday night, his usual activity on a Saturday is to play Xbox with Z, which they've been doing again for a few weeks. They verbally abuse each other through the games, and the first time Z had punched him on the arm for accidentally killing him it had made him freeze until Dave had shrugged and punched him back. It had gone someway to relaxing things between them, and they've had short stilted conversations, one of them reassuring Z that he's never been attracted to him. Z had muttered about Kurt 'Hummel' being more his type and he'd punched him again, telling him he should be glad for that because otherwise things would be even more awkward.

When there's a knock on the door he exchanges a quick look with Z before they pause the game and he gets up to answer it. He didn't know who he was expecting but Kurt wasn't even in the realm of possibilities and he opens the door wider.

"Uh. Kurt. Hey."

"Hi. Can I come in?"

It's not even asked, it's snapped out and Kurt is pushing past him, stripping his jacket off angrily and almost throwing it into the small hall closet. He opens his mouth to say something snarky about 'come right in' but wisely decides to keep his mouth shut, following his through to the living room to where Z is sitting. Fuck.

"Lady Hummel," Z states and he cringes, wishing Z could keep his mouth shut for just a few minutes so he can figure out what might be upsetting Kurt.

"Don't fuck with me Azimio Adams. Not tonight. What are you playing?"

"Uh, Halo?"

"Does it involve killing people?"

Z's eyebrows go up but he nods, handing Kurt the controller and sliding further down the sofa to put more distance between them, although this time he's pretty sure it's because Kurt actually looks murderous. He watches with increasing awe and surprise as Kurt starts from the beginning, deftly picking up gear, moving and shooting his way easily to waypoints and he never expected this. He can tell Z didn't either.

"Never realized you had such homicidal tendencies Hummel…"

"Hmm? Yeah…"

"Where did you even learn this?"

"Finn. I learnt how to play so I could beat him, and then he stopped asking me to play with him." He winces and catches Z's eye, willing him, no pleading him to keep his mouth shut. Z lets out a huff, which he decides to count as a win. "Don't think I don't know where your mind went with that. But that would be like me thinking you two had been making out before I arrived."

"Ew."

"Exactly. Now I suppose a drink would be too much to ask for?"

"Okay, no. This isn't Kurt Hummel. It's like a pod person."

"Oh, I assure you. It's me. I've just had a really bad day. Bad week."

"And what, you thought you'd come here and share your exquisite nature with us? What about the rest of your… friends?"

His mind fills in the pause the Z left and he knows that at least Z is trying.

"Considering my friends think that I shouldn't be here, or have anything to do with David, they're not exactly in my good books right now."

"What?"

"Ugh. Just Blaine being an idiot. You know… it's really nice having you to talk to."

He swallows, because this is actually the first time Kurt has even mentioned Blaine and a part of him still wants to respond with violence when he hears the name. He grabs his controller from where it's lying abandoned on the sofa and decides that shooting a few aliens might help after all.

School finishes and now that Z and Kurt have nothing better to do he sees more of them both. Still not as much of Kurt as he does of Z, but he gets the reasons why. Either way it's nice to have more company during the days. He knows now that he's going back to high school to repeat his senior year. His mom and dad have submitted the start of their paperwork filing for divorce and he's down to therapy sessions only once a fortnight. The meds they have him on have finally settled down and he starts working out again, feeling more energetic than he has in a long time.

He's started looking at colleges again, thinking about his future, which isn't as scary as it once was. Z admits to feeling uncertain about his choice, despite the fact he's accepted a place at Ohio State to study English. He has no idea what Z would do with an English degree, and neither does Z. On one of their increasingly common hang-out sessions Kurt lists of what seem like hundreds of jobs that involve having an English degree, but none of it seems to spark any interest from Z.

His nineteenth birthday falls at the end of June and Z insists on cooking. He knows it's something Z loves, but does only when asked by his mother. That's his cover story anyway. He knows Z cooks at least three nights a week. Z has been in the kitchen all day, shooing him out whenever he'd offered to help so he's spent most of the day playing Skyrim. He'd set the table for four before lunch, his dad making it an even number of awkward dinner companions as Kurt's also been invited.

When Kurt turns up he knows the smile is forced but knows it's probably not him. He accepts the hug with a little pang of disappointment spiked with pleasure that Kurt is comfortable enough to hug him. The disappointment is because he knows it's as far as it will ever go. They all sit down and the smells from the kitchen are amazing and he trusts that he will enjoy every single piece of food that's put in front of him. Kurt and his dad are making polite conversation about absolutely nothing important and he has to stop feeling like their awkwardness is somehow his fault.

"Right, this is deep-fried camembert cheese with plum chutney with a small side-salad to start with."

Kurt and his dad make appropriate noises, complimenting Z but he just reaches out to fist bump him. Z accepts it and immediately looks a little more relaxed. They eat and he tries to ignore the little moaning sounds Kurt makes, because he's pretty sure they aren't affecting his dad and Z at all. Fuck his life. But not really, because he actually really likes having Kurt's friendship. He's found he can talk about anything with Kurt, which is actually kind of awesome, although he's realized rather than making his crush go away he's actually learnt more about Kurt and he pretty much likes everything. Z and Kurt are discussing college with his dad when Z starts clearing the plates and his offer of help is once again turned down. Kurt steps in though, elbowing Z and telling him he must get the recipe for the plum chutney. Z pulls a face and rolls his eyes but he can tell underneath it all that he's pleased.

"So, now we've got pork belly on a green-apple and potato mash with pickled red cabbage, sweet cherry jus & crackling," Kurt informs them, giving Z a quick glance as he places plates down in front of him and his dad. Z nods and Kurt grins and he knows they can't have shared a moment in the kitchen or anything because he could see and hear everything, but something has just eased a little more. It's good.

"Oh my god," Kurt moans and he tries to ignore the way his eyelids flicker shut. "Azimio, seriously, this is amazing. I can't believe you've been hiding this talent for so long."

"And he bakes," Dave interjects with a grin, really just to piss Z off.

"Are you as good at baking as you are cooking?"

"You'll be able to judge for yourself. I made orange-infused Madeira cake, with orange segments in hot butterscotch sauce for dessert."

"Wait, there's dessert? You're going to kill me with too much good food."

"Mmm, food comas. We'll all suffer the same fate though."

"And be happy about it," his dad interjects and he feels, just in that moment, that everything is good in his world.

Desserts in hand, all three of them are shooed out of the kitchen, his dad insisting on cleaning up (much to Z's horror) and they make themselves comfortable in the living room.

"Oh wow. This is amazing Azimio. Really. You have an amazing talent. Have you ever thought about becoming a chef? Culinary arts?"

"Uh… no?"

"Why not? Or is it something you do as a hobby only?"

"No, I uh… just never thought about it."

"Why not?"

"Well, isn't it a little…" Z waves his hand around in an airy-fairy gesture and he rolls his eyes. He's come light years in the last four months, but then he goes and does something like this and he's reminded of how much further he still has to go. Both of them, because he still finds himself making disparaging comments, although he's gotten better with help.

"What? Gay? I think, as a gay man, that I can safely say there is no one mold for any profession. Or sexuality. If you want to do this full time then you should. You're good at it. And you definitely seem more interested in it than you are in English."

Z makes a non-committal grunt which he knows means he's thinking about it. Or will think about it and he gives Kurt a hesitant smile.

"There's a culinary arts program at Cincinnati. Just think about it."

Kurt is a force to be reckoned with and he's pretty sure Z gives in to his badgering just to shut him up and applies for a late acceptance into the culinary arts program. It comes as a surprise when he gets in, but Kurt jumps around the room excitedly and tells Z he's going to be telling people he knew Z before he made it big. Z seems more amused than anything and he knows it speaks volumes for the way their own friendship has developed that Z doesn't make a single derogatory comment.

It means they leave too soon for his liking though and after having them around so much during the summer the sudden loss of both of them when they leave makes him feel incredibly lonely. His first Skype call from Kurt comes as a surprise and he grins at him, unable to get the grin off his face. He talks about what his new school (Carmel this time) is like and he listens as Kurt rhapsodies on about his internship at Vogue and living with Rachel Berry (his idea of a nightmare but then again she's not his friend).

Z talks to him almost daily through his Xbox and he forgets sometimes that he's hours away rather than just across town. At least once a week the three of them talk together, which he knows is weird for them, because they both tell him separately. After a few months though they stop mentioning how weird it is and start asking about the other until he snaps that they should just talk to each other. Which they do, and he finds that weird, and he has no one to really complain about it to.

It's near Christmas and he's trying to think about gifts for them, and he's actually considering asking Kurt for advice for Z, and vice versa. He's not really paying attention but after nearly ten minutes of feeling like someone's watching him he turns to see a guy blatantly staring at him. He looks behind him and nope, there's no one or nothing else that the guy might be staring at.

"Can I help you?" He asks, and he tries to make his tone polite rather than gruff and the he must succeed because the guy takes a couple of steps toward him.

"I just… I'm sorry if this is a little personal. But are you David Karofsky?"

"Uh. Yeah?" He's instantly on guard, not that he couldn't defend himself against this guy, but he doesn't want to need to.

"Sorry. I just… wanted to give you a hug?"

"Uh what? Who are you?"

"Oh sorry! My name's Chandler. I… heard about you."

He lets out a long sigh and shrugs, because Lima is a small town and he should be used to things like this by now. He doesn't let the guy hug him, but when he asks him on a date he's a little too shocked to say anything so he just nods, taking the little scrap of paper (a receipt from a music store) with Chandler's details written on the back. Holy shit. He gets home and instantly calls both Kurt and Z on Skype, not caring who answers first, although he kind of hopes it's Kurt because he's not sure Z will give one shit about his first ever date. Fuck.

Of course neither of them answer and he panics a little, wondering if he's meant to call Chandler before realizing that of course he's meant to call him, because he didn't give him any number to call him. So kind of an out he guesses, but he doesn't want or need an out. This is a chance to go on a date. With a guy. It's not Kurt, but he's not delusional enough to wait around for a guy who is in a happy relationship. Chandler seems nice enough and he's not going to get to know him without dating him. He thumbs Chandler's details into his phone and presses CALL.

"Where were you last night? I had to deal with Azimio torturing me with food all by myself. Torture I tell you. I'm living of pizza slices and ramen here. I'm going to either fade away or die of scurvy."

"It would make for a quieter life, that's for sure."

"Shut up you," Kurt says to Z and he grins. "Wait. Oh my god! Is that a hickey?"

His hand slaps to his neck and he knows there might be a tiny bit visible above the collar of his polo and he's just grateful that it's winter and wearing scarves is the done thing.

"Dude! Did you get laid?" Z asks; of course he sounds impressed but Dave's already shaking his head.

"No, I just… had a date last night. With a guy called Chandler. It was… nice."

It had been nice, but the make out session afterward had been more enjoyable and he's pretty sure he wants both parts to be equally enjoyable. Chandler had seemed a little too agreeable for his liking. He's not sure if it was maybe first date nerves or something, and he'll go on at least two more, it's not like dating opportunities are all around.

"Why didn't you tell us?"

"I tried calling you a couple of nights ago but neither of you answered so I just… went with the flow."

"Boy did you ever," Z says with a grin and he knows he's probably blushing. Kurt looks worried in his side of the screen and he knows he wants to say something.

"Just spit it out before you pass out Hummel."

"Just be safe okay? And you can ask me anything remember? No judgment."

"Yeah, I know. Thanks."

"Okay, I'm calling a close to this little bonding moment. I'm supportive man, but I don't need to hear the details. Or see the evidence."

He nods and tugs his collar up. It's a conversation they've had before, or rather one Kurt and Z had that he'd just sat and watched as they railed at each other. Kurt had said something mild about Blaine kissing him and Z had pulled a face. He's pretty sure it's because Z doesn't like Blaine at all. Kurt had started calling him a hypocrite but Z had started describing eating out a girl's pussy, asking if Kurt wanted to hear about that, which had promptly shut Kurt up.

"Right, okay, so then. I'll see you both next week?" Kurt asks and it effectively changes the subject.

Christmas passes in a flurry of activity and he gets acceptance letters from NYU, OSU and MIT. His social life has been non-existent since school started, so he puts all his energy into studying and working out. Seeing Kurt and Z is awesome, and Kurt always leaves his house smiling, despite arriving looking harassed nearly every time. They go back to college and as he suspected the thing with Chandler doesn't go anywhere. They still hang out occasionally. It happens less and less as the month progresses, he can tell Chandler would like more and he wonders if that's how Kurt feels about him. Somewhat uncomfortable and a little sad.

At the start of February his phone rings, which is unusual and when he sees it's Kurt's number he guesses he must have something important to tell him. When he answers all he can hear is Kurt crying and he can't tell what he's trying to say. He hears Blaine's name, and the word cheated and then cancer and he's confused as fuck, turning in the street and wondering what he can do. If anything. He talks to Kurt calmly, telling him to breathe, asks him what he needs and starts heading to Kurt's house when that's all he asks. It takes a while, because he's on foot but when he finally knocks on the door, surprise washes over him when Blaine answers and he frowns.

"I thought you and Kurt broke up…"

"Uh –"

"Why would they have broken up?" Burt Hummel asks, looking between him and Blaine suspiciously and he swallows against the churning in his stomach. Kurt is still on his phone, able to hear every word and he wonders if he should put him on speaker phone.

"Uh –" Blaine starts. "It's a new development."

Dave can't help the snort that escapes and asks Kurt if he wants to talk to his dad. Getting an affirmative answer he passes the phone to Burt Hummel and then steps aside, holding the door open in a clear invitation for Blaine to leave. He knows he's not exactly welcome in this house, but after what Kurt will be telling his dad he expects Blaine will be even less welcome. It'll make a nice change.

He wants the year mark of his suicide attempt to pass by unmentioned. That is until he receives the large bouquet of sunflowers in class with the small note 'I am glad I have you in my life. You make it brighter. K.' He grins and feels incredibly touched by the gesture, that it acknowledges it, while not directly mentioning it and maybe he does want it to be mentioned, to show just how far he's come. Z messages him later telling him Kurt is planning on sending him some frilly bouquet and he sends back a picture of the sunflowers wrapped in butchers paper, burlap and raffia. Z messages back and says they're acceptable flowers to send to guys.

He accepts the place at NYU and quietly freaks out about it. Kurt is excited about him moving to New York, has already started working on Z to transfer; although now that Z can just disconnect the call Kurt's effectiveness is not as great. He threateningly informs Z that he has all summer to work on him, and if he doesn't come this year there's always the following one and he's pretty sure Z is giving him the evil eye for ever being friends with him.

School finishes and he walks across the stage feeling good, relieved that he can finally close that chapter of his life. Z has managed to come up and surprise him, carrying Kurt around on his tablet on a Skype call so he could watch it live and he's pretty sure Kurt has been crying and he grins when he receives a text message from him saying he's proud of him. A few weeks later they're all back in Lima and it feels good. Kurt seems happy, his dad's cancer scare all over with, Blaine isn't mentioned at all which he likes a little too much.

They gather at his house and at Kurt's (now that he's no longer persona non grata), play new Xbox games and Z practices new techniques, showing a fascinated Kurt who asks dozens of questions. Z seems more than happy to show off his knowledge in person and he's never eaten so well in his life. His twentieth birthday comes and goes and he can't believe he's meant to be acting like an adult sometime soon.

Kurt's made some vague excuse about going shopping, so it's a rare moment that it's just him and Z. He never would have thought his best friend would be comfortable hanging out with a guy he knows is gay, let alone two of them. They settle down on the lawn and enjoy the sun, his dad suggesting that they might actually enjoy it as opposed to being inside all day with the curtains drawn. They'd simply agreed and decided not to mention that being outside was something they'd actually already decided on doing.

"You know, you should make a move. I can see the way he looks at you even if you can't."

"What? Who?"

The look Z gives him clearly says 'don't be a dumbass' but he can't imagine that Z is talking about Kurt. That's not possible in any reality, they're all friends. Just friends.

"Dave, he likes you. Just ask him out on a date."

"I – I can't do that. Not with our history."

"What history? The bit where you bullied him and his friends for a couple of months in high school, or the last few years where you guys have pretty much been best friends?"

"I… it's not been years."

"Whatever. Just consider it. He's a decent enough guy and I know you like him. I think everyone knows you like him." He flushes because he hates the idea of everyone knowing that, feeling sorry for him because they know how impossible it is. "He likes you too. He's harder to read, but I haven't known him since our moms shared a birthing class together." He shakes his head, unable to believe what he's saying. "Look, lets go get some ice cream and talk about something else and you can process it. You look a little pole axed right now."

They walk, talking about the up and coming movies they want to go and see and he's grateful for the distraction, the chatter which allows him to think and wish and wonder about possibilities. When they get back to his house Kurt is sitting on the porch steps, looking intently at his phone and his breath catches a little. He has no idea how but Kurt looks even better than the last time he remembers. He wonders if he stopped noticing because he was trying to force himself into not noticing so the fact that he would never have it wouldn't be so hard to bear.

He has no idea if Z is on to something, but he's always been observant and he wouldn't be pushing him if he didn't think there was something there. He's not cruel like that. He knows he's going to need to do something, otherwise be doomed to forever asking himself 'what if?' and he won't do that to himself. If he and Kurt can work through their difficult past then they should definitely be able to work through one (no doubt fumbled) attempt at asking Kurt out.

"My turn to go shopping," Z states, but not before nudging him with an elbow and then punching his arm. Kurt looks confused, and he feels a little relieved that he was as in the dark as he was to start out with. He goes and sits beside Kurt and watches Z drive off, and he knows he's been set up. Kurt's phone chimes, and it's pretty and melodic, unlike his own zombie scream tone and he wonders if they could realistically work as a couple. He'd like to hope so.

Kurt reads the message and he notes he blushes almost instantly. His fingers curl over his knees, wondering if he's already missed his chance, that Kurt is texting a possible new love interest. After all he's been single since February.

"Gah. Azimio. Being an ass as per usual. I think he's up to something."

He knows Azimio is up to something and he wonders what the message said but then his phone screams at him and he quickly pulls it out to silence it and sees the message 'Ask him out already or I will look you both in a cupboard!'

"Yeah, he's definitely up to something."

They look at each other and he wonders if he's imagining the energy thrumming between them as Kurt suddenly looks away, staring down at his hands, neck turning pink in embarrassment. Oh. Z's going to be unbearable.

"Kurt…"

"Don't mind me. Sorry. I'm just… I know you're not interested in me."

"What? I… what?" He can't believe that that's what Kurt thinks. "Kurt… you… you have to know I had the biggest crush on you. Massive."

"Mmm. Had." He sounds forlorn and he shakes his head.

"Yeah, because the crush is gone. In its place is…" he swallows. He's said the word before and Kurt had dismissed him, dismissed his feelings and he knows there was some good reasons for that because comparing what he felt then to what he feels now it like comparing tin to platinum. "I love you. You're one of my best friends. I know you so well know, what you look like when you've just woken up, how grumpy you are when you haven't had any coffee, how you deal with stress, what you sound like when you've been crying. I… I love all of that."

"Oh."

"That's on top of the fact that I've always found you… attractive. Still do. Always will probably."

"Oh." There's a small smile on Kurt's lips and it relaxes him a bit, gives him the momentum to say what he needs and wants to now say.

"Go out with me. On a date. Please. I figure that if we can get over what I did to you before then even if the dates are a complete flop then… we'll know? I'll know I mean. I just don't want to miss this chance."

"Yes."

He pauses, not quite sure what Kurt has said yes to exactly, whether he's agreeing with him, or saying yes to a date…

"Yes?"

"Yes. I think we should date. I… I want an excuse to do this."

He's not ready for Kurt's lips and hands but they're suddenly there, touching him and he's in shock for the briefest of moments before he's kissing back, turning and putting a hand on Kurt's knee, his other hand going to gently cup Kurt's cheek. It's an awkward position, both sitting and twisted toward one another, but he's grateful for it because it reminds him that they're sitting on the top step of the porch in full view of anyone who might walk past. Or look out their window. He pulls back reluctantly, enjoys the way Kurt leans toward him, as if he doesn't want to break contact and he stands, reaching a hand down to pull Kurt up.

"Come on, we have perfectly good steps at the backdoor too."

Kurt laughs softly and takes his hand, standing and brushing down his legs. He lets them into the house, fully intending to head for the back door but Kurt kisses him again, presses his body against his and he knows he can spend hours with Kurt and not touch him, but now that there's the option to touch he doesn't want to stop. Their phones both sound at the same time, sounding odd in the extreme and they pull away from one another (although he's tempted to chuck his phone out the window). It's Z asking a simple question: 'You kissed him yet?' He lets out a huff of laughter and sends him a quick 'fuck off' followed by 'yes'.

"Z. He kind of… told me you might like me."

"I figured as much. I just sent him a thank you."

He knows his smile must be blinding.

Author's note: The time Kurt goes to Dave's all angry is when Blaine has just sung to him about 'cheating' but it being okay. The messages between Kurt and Dave were never flirty but Blaine simply didn't like Kurt spending time with him. The Glee club agreed with him. I have obviously shuffled other events around.