Notes: Nevermind was released 25 years ago this week. It was an album that changed the face of music and changed lives. This is a short story to commemorate an album that, unlike us, will never grow old.
The studio walls were covered with framed discs; platinum, gold, silver, and usually Dave walked past them on his way to the sound booth without a second glance. But not today. Today he stopped in front of a platinum disc and pressed his fingers against the cool glass. Was it really twenty five years? He traced the one word title with his index finger.
At the time it had seemed such a simple title, an innocent title, but given what came after Dave wondered whether it had a deeper meaning. Twenty five years ago this week Nevermind had been released and it had changed his life forever.
“It’s still a fucking great album.”
Dave turned at the sound of the voice to find a grinning blond standing behind him.
“Hi T.” Dave smiled at his drummer, “Can you believe it’s been twenty five years since this came out? Makes me feel old.”
Taylor snorted a laugh. “We are old. We’ve all grown old.”
“Sometimes I wish that album had never been made, that maybe if we hadn't made it things would have turned out differently.”
Dave tried to hide the tears that formed in his eyes, turning his back to Taylor and staring at the disc on the wall.
“Fuck.” He felt Taylor’s hand squeeze his shoulder. “I’m sorry D, I know it still hurts. Shit like that leaves a pain that never goes away.”
“I still think about it almost every day.” Dave’s voice was husky with emotion. “I should have known……I should have been there for him, I should have realized what was going on.”
Taylor pulled him into a hug, wrapping him in his arms and placed a soft kiss on his forehead.
“Don’t do this to yourself D. You tried, you know you did, but it was Kurt’s battle, you couldn't fight it for him.”
Dave swallowed the sob that threatened to escape his lips. “I know,” he whispered into the blond hair, “but he was under so much pressure, he was in a really bad place. I could have helped, if he’d have just talked to me about had bad it had gotten……..If I’d known he was that tired of living…..”
The sob finally worked its way out of his mouth.
Taylor held him as he wept, he thought he had cried all his tears for that night, for Kurt’s pain, but they came spilling down his face, soaking Taylor’s shirt where his face was pressed against his shoulder. Taylor stroked his back, whispering words of comfort as Dave let go of the emotions that felt as raw now as they did all those years ago. Some wounds never heal.
He’d heard about it from a TV news channel, he was back in LA on a break during the latest Nirvana tour when the news from Seattle broke. He still remembered the feeling of dread that chilled him to the core as he saw the police tape cordoning off Kurt’s home, the mortuary van in the driveway, the silhouetted forms of the detectives in the room above the garage. His phone had rung and he had grasped at it, hoping that it would be news that this was all a mistake, that none of this was happening, but it was Pat confirming what the tv reports were saying his voice as heavy as Dave’s heart.
He would never be able to forgive himself for not being there for Kurt, for not protecting him from the demons in his life, the biggest demon being his wife Courtney. Dave had hated her from the first time he met her, he saw straight through her, right into her cold, black heart, and he knew she was poisonous. But Kurt, that gentle, loving soul, had fallen for her charade and she soon had him totally under her control, turning Kurt from a man tortured by his inner demons to a man tormented by a she bitch from hell. It was because of her that Kurt became an addict, because of her that he lost his sense of worth, because of her that he finally succumbed to the devils in his head.
Dave would never forgive her for destroying his best friend.
“You want to call it a day? I’m beat and I stink like a week dead skunk. I need to get home and take a shower.”
Taylor’s voice pulled Dave back to the present, they were in the studio working on demos for the new album. Taylor made show of sniffing his armpits, he pulled a face and dropped his sticks onto his snare drum wiping his face with a towel.
Dave smiled, Taylor always had a knack of making him smile no matter how down he felt.
“You go ahead T, I just have a few things to tie up.”
“Don’t stay too late,” Taylor flicked his sweaty towel across Dave’s ass. “There’s going to be a hot blond waiting in bed for you at home.”
Dave chuckled as Taylor blew him a kiss and wiggled his hips as he shimmied out the door. Taylor had been in his life for nearly 20 years now, he had joined Foo Fighters back in 1997 and there was an instant chemistry between them. Dave couldn't image a life without Taylor in it, he had been the one person he could talk to about what was going on his head, about Kurt, about everything that came after.
Music had always been his escape; ever since he was a kid pounding pillows in his room playing along to Rush records, he had used music to express his emotions or to replace them with something less painful. But after that night in 1994 Dave had seriously thought about giving it up, music had always been his comfort but suddenly it had seemed like a curse and he didn’t think he would ever be able to play another note. People always say that time is a great healer and Dave agreed that to a degree this was true, but the scars never truly fade, they are always there to remind you of the pain. He had eventually gone back to music, gone back to where he felt safe, to the comfort of the familiar in a world that felt alien to him.
He plucked at the strings of his guitar, he had never really learnt guitar chords or any of that shit, he played guitar like he played drums by picking out rhythms, his fingers teasing notes from the guitar whilst his mind provided words to fit the tempo of the refrain. This was how he worked, how he created, how he transferred his thoughts and feelings into something that would form the basis of a song.
Dave placed his guitar in the rack and sat behind the drum kit, the stool was still slightly damp with Taylor’s sweat making Dave grimace as he picked up the sticks. He settled himself and picked out a beat he’d had in his head for a few days, he worked the rhythm keeping time with the melody in his head, adding rolls and flourishes for the instrumental breaks. Although he played guitar with Foo Fighters Dave would always consider himself a drummer first and foremost, drums were his heart and soul. He had formed Foo Fighters in the wake of the tragedy in Seattle, he couldn't face being the drummer in another band so he had picked up the guitar and made himself the frontman of a rock band. He had never intended for the band to be successful, he had just wanted to do something to keep himself busy, but the audiences kept getting bigger, record sales rocketed and he found himself in the somewhat surprising position of having a bestselling album and a growing fan base.
Dave’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket, he pulled it out and laughed out loud as he read the text.
‘Hello, I’ve waited here for you…..…’
The text was accompanied by a photo of his lover wet from the shower with just a small cotton towel covering his rather obvious arousal.
‘On my way home, don't move.’
Dave sent the text and left the studio with a smile playing on his lips.
The bedroom was lit with candles, the flickering flames casting strange shadows on the walls, and the scent of jasmine and vanilla floated on the air. Dave had never quite gotten the appeal of scented candles but he supposed it did smell better than the usual aroma of sweaty socks.
“Breath out so I can breath you in……..” A soft voice sang the melody from the bed, a voice Dave knew so well and would never tire of hearing.
Dave stripped off his clothes dumping them on top of a pair of discarded jeans and a faded t-shirt, then slipped under the sheets pulling his lover into his arms, their mouths locking together in a deep passionate kiss. Long delicate fingers traced up and down his spine making him groan as they danced over the sensitive spot between his shoulder blades. Soft lips skimmed down his chest, stubble rasped against his skin and a tongue flicked across his nipple.
“God damn, you know just how to tease me with that tongue of yours.” Dave gasped as teeth grazed over his hardened nipple.
A throaty chuckle rose from the under the mop of blond hair. “Years of practice.”
The tongue traced a line down Dave’s chest.
“Lower.” Dave growled.
“Patience my sweet, the anticipation is what makes the ending so much better.”
A hand wrapped around Dave’s growing erection whilst his lover peppered his stomach with soft butterfly kisses, his lips barely making contact with his skin. The trail of kisses continued downwards whilst his hand slowly stroked Dave’s hard cock smearing the drops of pre-come over the head.
“Fuck.” Dave sucked in a breath as his cock was engulfed in a warm, wet mouth. “Fuck.”
That sensual mouth that Dave loved so much worked up and down his shaft, coating him with saliva whilst a tongue licked and teased him working him to the point of release.
Dave moaned and raised his hips off the bed pressing his erection further into the warm mouth, winding his fingers into the soft blond hair pushing him down onto his cock. A finger ran around his hole seeking entrance, Dave relaxed and the finger slipped inside searching for that nub of flesh deep within. The finger found its target, it pressed down and a shot of pure pleasure rippled through Dave’s body.
“Holy fuck,” Dave panted, “I’m going to come…….”
Another press of the finger, another flick of the tongue and Dave was tumbling into free fall. His whole body shook with the force of his orgasm sending strings of hot come over his lovers tongue, he came so hard that he could scarcely breath.
He pulled the blond to him, kissing him as he came back down, wrapping his arms around his slim body. Dave would never tire of being with this man, he was his life, his soulmate, his everything.
“I love you Dave.”
Dave brushed the tangle of blond hair away from the sweaty face resting against his chest so that he could see his eyes, those eyes that always mesmerized him, eyes the color of an azure sea, as blue as a summer sky.
“I love you too Kurt.”
It had been one of their worst arguments, Kurt had later told him, Courtney was high on cocaine and was screaming at him, telling him what a worthless piece of shit he was, what a poor excuse for a man and husband he was. Kurt himself was just taken a heroin fix and he just wanted some peace and quiet so he told her to shut the fuck up and had left the house for the room above the garage. That was his space, somewhere he would go to shut himself away from her, somewhere he could forget he was married to a psychotic bitch. Usually she left him alone but that night she followed him, assaulting him with a tirade of abuse, her screeching voice setting his teeth on edge. He had tried to shut her out but she forced her way into the small room still screaming and ranting, and that was when he had noticed the knife she was carrying. It was one of those big chefs knives, she must have grabbed it from the kitchen on the way to the garage, and she had it clenched in her hand waving in front of his face. She came at him slashing at his face, his chest, he had tried fending her off but the cocaine had made her aggressive whilst the heroin had made him slow and she broke free of his grip slicing the knife across his ribs then stabbing the knife into his stomach. He had reacted on instinct, he pushed her away, pushed her backwards as hard as he could, backwards out of the room. He remembered the look of surprise on her face as she teetered on the top step of the stairs then she was falling, tumbling down the steep stairwell her scream echoing off the walls. A sickening thump then silence. It had taken Kurt several minutes to make his way down the stairs, he was losing blood from his wounds and was sluggish from the drugs, but when he got to the bottom he knew that Courtney was gone. He had managed to place a 911 call before passing out next to the body of his dead wife.
It was self defense. Justifiable homicide. No criminal charges were brought against Kurt, and although he healed physically the media attention and his own private self-reproach had driven Kurt to the point of insanity. He retreated into himself, trying to chase away the memories with drugs and alcohol, trying to escape the guilt that haunted him. Even in death Cortney tormented him. One morning Dave had gone to the house that Kurt was renting in LA to find him laying on the floor amidst empty whisky bottles, a syringe hanging out of his arm and a suicide note clutched in his hand. He was barely alive. After recovering from the near fatal overdose Kurt had been admitted to a rehab facility where he remained for over a year undergoing addiction treatment and psychotherapy. Dave had tried to visit but Kurt had shunned all contact with his friend which had hurt Dave deeply, and his own marriage fell apart as he struggled to find a way through his emotional turmoil.
It was about 6 months after Kurt had left rehab that Dave returned home one evening to find him sitting on his doorstep. Dave stood motionless for a few seconds not knowing how to react, but Kurt had smiled that soft smile of his and Dave knew that everything was going to be ok. They had talked for hours until the sun rose over the valley hills, the new day heralding the rekindling of their old friendship. Over the next few months their friendship deepened into something more, it was totally unexpected but it felt totally right and together they slowly began to heal.
“I spoke to Krist today.” Kurt lay on his side blond hair falling over his face. He twiddled a lock around his fingers which was a sign that he was nervous.
“How’s he doing?”
The Nirvana bassist had all but quit the music business and although they had kept in touch Dave hadn't spoken with him for months, maybe even a year.
“Getting himself fitted for a graduation outfit. ” Kurt smiled his lopsided smile. “Who knew Krist would get so educated?”
Krist had just completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Sciences at Washington State University after getting involved with political reform.
“He was always the brainy one, I didn't even finish high school.” Dave rolled his eyes. “I’m a fucking dropout waster.”
“I didn't graduate hight school either.” Kurt pushed his hair behind his ears grinning at Dave. “We’re a pair of fucking dropout wasters.”
Dave grinned back. “We haven't done badly for a pair of wasters.”
Foo Fighters were a hugely successful band and whilst Kurt had turned away from music not wanting to put himself back in the spotlight he had written several bestselling poetry anthologies and his visual art had been included in several prestigious art exhibitions.
Kurt took a deep breath, he was building up to saying something. “I want us to record something, all three of us. As Nirvana. To commemorate Nevermind’s twenty five years.”
It was the last thing Dave had expected Kurt to say, he had said he would never go back to recording, that his music career was in his past.
The shock must have shown on Dave’s face as Kurt hurried on. “Just an EP, not a whole album. I asked Krist, he said he would think about it. And Butch said he would produce it.”
“Are you sure babe? You know it will be a fucking media circus. It might raise some old ghosts, some difficult feelings…….” Although Kurt had been clean and sober for twenty years Dave worried that a sudden drop back into the media would send him back down that dark path.
“I want to do it, I need to do it.” Kurt brushed his hand over Dave’s beard. “It’s time to lay those ghosts to rest. I’m ready to do this D, there’s still music in my heart and I’m ready to let the past go for good. I want to live for the future, our future.”
Dave caught Kurt’s hand in his own and placed a gentle kiss on his palm. “As long as you are sure.”
Kurt nodded, he pulled a notebook off the nightstand it was full of Kurt’s scrawling handwriting. “I have some poetry that I think would work better as songs. I have some of the melodies worked out but they’re still really rough, will you work on them with me?”
The passion in Kurt’s voice, the way his eyes sparkled as he showed Dave his rough lyrics, the childlike excitement on his face convinced Dave that Kurt was ready. He hadn't seen Kurt this animated for a long time. He slipped out bed and grabbed a guitar from the music room, Kurt was scribbling more lyrics in the notebook when he returned.
“Ok blondie, let’s write some fucking songs.”
Kurt’s eyes met his. “It will be ok D, this isn't like last time, this time she’s not here, this time I have you.”
Dave knew it would be different, this time he was there to protect Kurt, he wasn't about to let anything happen to him. Not this time. This time they had their love to keep him safe, this was a different life, a life without Love.