One last deep breath in and Kurt coughs, throws his cigarette to the ground and stomps it out half-heartedly. He makes a mental note to never chain smoke all day again, or at least maybe eat something between packs. He feels a hot nausea in the pit of his stomach, but then again, his body's always whining about something, burning and crumbling beneath him.
And he's sick of it.
Sometimes he thinks he smokes, shoots up, fucks around with drugs and everything he knows he shouldn't, just to punish his frail, aching body for not doing its goddamned job right, hoping it'll learn its lesson and just stop, revert from its undiagnosable ways and be normal, for Christ's sake. He knows his methods are counter-productive, passive-aggressive, whatever. Today, though, he doesn't care.
He rubs along the curve of his aching back before suddenly a sharp pain digs into his gut and he's doubling over on the porch of the tiny Aberdeen home he's staying at tonight. It's Krist and Shelli's place, but they've both been asleep for hours, and God knows where Dave is, probably out with some girl, and Kurt frowns at the thought as he shifts his hands from his back to clutch his stomach and gag. Sweat's already coating his face, and he's feverishly warm even though the night is typical Washington, dark and cold and windy.
He's on all fours now, head hanging low because he's too drained to support it, feeling the rise of bile slicking his too-dry throat, and fuck we've got a show to play tomorrow, and he remembers how in elementary school there was a 24-hour rule about fevers, that you couldn't come back to school 'til it had been broken for over a day, and he wishes that rule was in place now, so he wouldn't have to play a show until he'd been fever-free for a little bit. Except he's an adult, and there's no going back to kindergarten, running around in his room to fake a fever when he didn't want to go to school and getting special treatment from mom for a couple days, and life's never been fair since he's been about eight anyways, and it's only getting worse.
He bitterly reminds himself that music doesn’t help him anymore, not as much as it used to. Probably just a shitty side effect of corporate rock world famosity, he figures, submissively lighting another cigarette and taking a shallow puff. Even Krist is getting tired of it.
He wonders why Dave hasn’t, not in the slightest. Dave still plays with more vitality in one show than Kurt’s been able to muster in the past few months combined, since Nevermind broke a fuckload of records Kurt didn’t even know existed. Dave works hard, plays hard, and still has energy left over.
He wonders why he’s thinking about Dave so much.
He’s not jealous. If he were a serious, devoted musician, he probably would be. And in some ways he is a serious musician, but not enough to envy Dave’s talent. He knows he should, knows that that’s how it’s supposed to go down for big-name bands - that’s how it went down for John and Paul and countless others - but he doesn’t. He’s more than content with just… appreciating it. And he can’t imagine for a second why Dave’s so insecure about it, about his place in Nirvana in general. The guy can play pretty much every instrument known to man and gets to have a beautiful singing voice on top of it? Kurt’s listened to the Marigold demo on repeat since Dave first showed it to him and insisted on collaborating with him for the next recording. Insisted that there had to be a next recording.
His cigarette desperately needs to be ashed but he doesn’t really care anymore. He can only focus on the haunting echo of Dave’s voice, the cataclysmic pounding of his drums, the enchanting strum of his guitar on staticy garage tapes. He’s tapping his feet against the yellowing grass growing sparsely on Krist and Shelli’s lawn, humming rhythmically, imagining six color pictures all in a row, thinking maybe music isn’t so bad after all.
Suddenly, the ashes from his cigarette sprinkle and settle on his knee like grey snowflakes lazily floating down onto his worn jeans. He looks up and sees Dave, his finger pressed to the end of Kurt’s cigarette. “Shoulda ashed it ages ago, man,” Dave mock-chastises him, sitting down next to him on the rotting edge of the wooden porch.
Raising his eyebrows in an attempt to hide his surprise, Kurt retorts, “I didn’t think you’d be back until at least tomorrow morning. Couldn’t find anyone trashed enough to fuck you?” He feels weirdly small and cold in his Mudhoney t-shirt, extra self-conscious about something he can’t quite put a finger on. Dave laughs, throwing back his way-too-long black hair, don’t-ever-cut-it-please.
“Nah. It was just boring,” Dave replies, taking a swig of the beer Kurt forgot he had been sipping at earlier.
“I didn’t know it was possible for you to be bored.” Kurt doesn’t even try to mask his shock this time. He’s dimly aware of the fact that his right knee is pressed against Dave’s, unsure why he noticed at all.
“I thought I should be here, I guess,” Dave shrugs. “With you. And Krist, I mean. Doing… band stuff.”
It’s Kurt’s turn to laugh, but he stops when he sees the unusually serious expression on Dave’s face. “It’s not like we do anything special,” Kurt assures him, holding out his cigarette to Dave as a peace offering. “You could’ve stayed out if you want. Tonight all we did was eat some weird vegan shit Shelli made and listen to Goo for the millionth time. You didn’t exactly miss out.”
Dave takes a long drag of Kurt’s cigarette, handing it back carefully before he clears his voice. “Did Chad ever miss out? Or Dan, or Dale?” he inquires. “’Cause I don’t wanna-“
“You won’t,” Kurt interrupts. He doesn’t want to hear Dave say shit about how he’s not good enough, how he’s just gonna be another notch in Nirvana’s bedpost, notorious for the unfortunately long lineup of booted drummers. Because he’s not. Kurt won’t let him. “All of them - they were just fillers, you know?” he continues, his heart beating faster, faster - he can’t stand another second of Dave feeling this way, not now, not ever. “And now it feels like… I mean, when we heard you play, I knew we had to have you. I asked you myself. I wanted you here. I want you here.”
Dave’s silent for a few seconds before he nods slowly. “I know, it’s just, I can’t help but feel like the outsider,” he says softly, and Kurt can tell it’s a difficult thing for him to confess, which may or may not make him get that weird sinking feeling in his gut, the sheer fact that Dave feels as left out as Kurt’s felt for most of his life. “Like you and Krist are the popular girls in school,” Dave laughs mirthlessly, “the best friends on the fucking cheerleading squad, and I’m the ugly chick trying too hard to fit in.”
And that’s basically it for Kurt, and he doesn’t know what snaps in him - it might’ve been Dave saying he felt like he couldn’t fit in, it might’ve been one-too-many cigarettes hazing up his thought processes, it might’ve been the way the cool night air felt on his skin, it might’ve just been Dave - but he grabs the back of Dave’s head and pushes it towards his own.
He doesn’t know what he expects - a punch in the face, maybe - but Dave opens his mouth, letting it press against Kurt’s comfortably, letting in just the right amount of heat and slickness.
Dave’s a good kisser. Kurt can’t believe he knows Dave’s a good kisser. He can’t believe he’s kissing Dave.
Kurt pushes his luck, slides his tongue between Dave’s lips, and Dave drags his teeth across it gently, scrapes down on Kurt’s lips, strokes his unwashed-for-at-least-three-days blond hair. His long, skinny fingers are toying with the scraggly, overgrown strands of hair at the nape of Kurt’s neck and he thinks it might just be the best thing he’s ever felt.
They pull apart to breathe and take a break from the almost overbearingly bitter taste of beer and cigarette smoke and sea-blue eyes meet brown, searching for something - a sign to keep going, to stop, a sign for anything.
“Sorry,” Kurt mumbles. He’d probably turn red if his face wasn’t already flushed from the heat of being pressed to Dave.
“Don’t be,” Dave whispers, leaning forward to breathe hot on Kurt’s ear. He plants tiny kisses in a trail down Kurt’s jaw, leaving him shivering, desperate for more contact.
“Fuck,” he exhales as Dave moves his other hand to his thigh, inching forward, toying with the zipper of his jeans. Kurt hadn’t realized how hard he had gotten until Dave was palming him gently, his way of asking for permission.
He reaches out and feels Dave - wants to make sure he isn’t the only one enjoying this, that Dave isn’t doing this because he feels obligated. His suspicions are relieved as Dave hisses sharply at Kurt’s touch and kisses him roughly before whispering, “Bedroom. Now.”
They stand up, still touching, unwilling to lose the connection that had sparked between them. Dave wraps his around Kurt, their sharp hipbones jutted together, and before Kurt knows what’s going on, Dave hoists him into his arms and carries him into the house, past Krist and Shelli’s room and into the guest bedroom down the hall. He lays Kurt down on the bed gently, running his fingers across his collarbones.
Kurt instinctively pushes away, insecure about his thinness, but Dave murmurs, “No. I like it. You’re - prettier than anyone else I’ve ever fucked.”
They laugh, pressing their foreheads together, before helping each other out of the obscene amount of clothing layers they’re wearing. When their bare skin finally touches, Kurt inhales deeply, eyes nearly rolling back into his head at the intensity and heat. “Feels nice,” he moans before Dave quiets him by pressing his lips to Kurt’s chest. Dave’s hair falls in cascades down Kurt’s sides and stomach, sending a warm tingling through his body.
He really is good at everything, Kurt thinks.
He finally opens his eyes, sunlight causing a dull pain to throb throughout his head. “What’s going on?”
Dave looks almost panicked, and it’s clear he’s just woken up as well from the way his legs are tangled in between sheets and around Kurt’s. “Krist and Shelli are up. What if they come in? What the fuck do we say?” Dave asks, gesturing to their naked bodies and dirtied sheets. It’s clear from the panic in his voice that he’s worried about what Krist’s reaction to Dave will be - if he’ll be able to handle the new drummer hooking up with his best friend. Kurt gets it, he really does, but it’s early, and he’s tired, and he’s sore, and needs Dave to stop worrying.
“You’re sleeping with the lead singer of fucking Nirvana, dude,” Kurt says with a wry smile, leaning forward to give Dave a peck on the forehead. “I think you’ll be fine.”