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A/N: Written for unassuminguser at RockFic for Ficmas 2020.

David hadn't paid much attention to the latest American darlings thus far, though of course he'd heard about them. How could he avoid it, after all? They were constantly in the music press, had been for several years. David was too old to find any interest in keeping up with the latest musical trends, as constantly changing and as constantly silly as they were. His own path had diverged from the mainstream once again as he followed his muse wherever she would lead him: this time in a decidedly non-pop direction.

But, as fate guided him, he picked up a music rag one morning to read with breakfast at his favourite hole-in-the-wall cafe, and found himself caught by a photograph of a beautiful young man in a flowery frock—and it wasn't David himself.

No, it was Nirvana, again, of course. This particular article featured a photo gallery, and it was this that finally sparked David's curiosity about the band of the hour. He'd assumed, wrongly, as he now saw, that these lads were cut from the same cloth as all the other "hard rock" bands, filled as they were with blokey, macho, and rather brainless young men who cared only for hard liquor and shagging any woman unfortunate enough to come within arm's reach. But these boys did not appear to fit this mould. Certainly their lead singer did not.

In the picture in question, the young man—the boy, really—was performing with a baby blue electric guitar while sporting an old chintzy, shapeless dress that suited his messy blonde hair, general unkempt appearance, and rather pretty face. It didn't look like a silly costume, in contrast to how most men wore drag; it just looked like comfortable daily wear.

David himself had attempted to normalise men wearing dresses several decades ago, yet it had sadly not caught on, despite being celebrated in certain circles. He was glad to see someone had picked up the torch.

David paged back to the article to give it a read. Maybe he'd be surprised.


He was indeed surprised by the intelligence of the interview subject in the article, so much so that when he heard Nirvana were to film an acoustic set at Sony Music Studios, he decided to pop by for a listen.

"So good to have you, Mr. Bowie! Would you like to meet the band? I'm sure they'd love to—no? Of course, right this way. You can watch from one of the boxes. Do let us know if you need anything, and please enjoy this bottle on the house."

David had a great view of the stage from a box well hidden right behind the stalls, and he poured himself a glass of wine, pulled up a chair, and waited for the performance to begin. He wondered who had selected the rather strange stage decor of lillies and black candles, which would have made the room positively funereal if it hadn't been for the buzzing, vibrant energy of the audience eagerly awaiting their heroes' arrival. Quite an odd choice for a young, upcoming band.

The musicians arrived in short order to a rousing round of applause from the assembled viewers, and their appearance was as humble as the interview David had read suggested they would be: no formal wear, not even anything flashy, and Kurt, the singer, actually looked rather like a rag doll with his unwashed hair and drab, oversized wool jumper that had been thrown in the wash one too many times. David immediately noticed that not only was Kurt a fellow lefty, but he was playing his guitar upside-down, no less, not at all unlike another celebrated musician from Seattle whom David admired.

David had not yet listened to any of the band's albums, wanting to enjoy this performance with unbiased ears, and he found himself fascinated by Kurt's vocal delivery. His, throaty, overpowering growl almost didn't work in the present context, and yet, somehow, it worked perfectly. David could only attribute this achievement to the total authenticity of Kurt's self-expression; if his voice had held any hint of artifice it would have absolutely ruined the show. David was strongly reminded of an old flame of his, whose voice was unfailingly sincere and often startlingly brash, and who had always been an inspiration to him in his own musical endeavours. Here was another remarkable young American, evidently forged in the same fire as dear Jimmy.

It was near the beginning of the set, and midway through David's first glass of wine, that he was surprised to hear the extremely familiar eerie introductory tones of a song he knew incredibly well. He'd written it himself, after all. He sat forward curiously to listen as the band launched The Man Who Sold The World. Kurt had mumbled something about screwing up the song prior to playing it, but he carried it off perfectly, in David's opinion. David truly enjoyed hearing it sung in an American drawl, and was impressed to see Kurt taking on not just the vocals, but also Mick Ronson's role, elaborating an effective lead guitar part for the song, replicating David's operatic vocals from the end of the original recording with the voice of his guitar.

Having fully expected lots of false starts and second takes and probably some diva behaviour from these newest pampered stars, David was refreshed to see that they were totally professional in every regard and simply ploughed through the set in a single take, giving their audience an excellent performance. He was very impressed with the original songs the band performed; they were beautifully structured, melodic, memorable, and definitely grade-A material. He could see why these boys had made it to the top, and it was clearly not record company machinations.

The final song of the evening was a real knockout that left David a bit breathless. He was quite sure he'd just witnessed something he would never forget, and it was at this point that he made up his mind to say hello to Kurt and his bandmates. He wanted to find out if this bright new star might be interested in a musical collaboration of some kind.


The band were winding down backstage, drinking, smoking, and quietly talking when David glided in and startled them. Kurt wasn't among the group he found in the dressing room, and after complimenting each player and sharing handshakes all around, he asked where he might find him.

"He's in the other dressing room," Krist told him. "He got pretty stressed out by this gig," he added, "but I'm sure he'll love to meet you."

David knocked on the partially closed door of the second dressing room and was welcomed with a soft, "Come in."

He enjoyed the astonishment on Kurt's face as he stepped into the room. "I was told I could find you here," he said, as Kurt jumped to his feet from where he'd been lounging on the sofa. David stretched out a hand in greeting and Kurt quickly took it.

"It's such a pleasure to meet you!" Kurt gushed.

"Likewise," David replied, smiling.

Kurt's admiration for David and his excitement at meeting him were written on his face; he made no effort to conceal his emotions, to pretend to be cool. It was very disarming, and David let himself relax into the interaction. There were so many people with hidden agendas in this business that it was quite refreshing to meet someone who plainly had none.

"Do you want anything to drink?" Kurt asked. "I could get you something."

"No, thank you, I've had wine already. But I could use a smoke."

"Oh, sure," Kurt said and dug in one of his pockets, fishing out a crumpled pack of cigarettes that he offered to David. David took one and lit it with his own lighter while Kurt popped one in his own mouth and hunted through his other pockets for his lighter. David offered to light the cigarette for him and Kurt accepted, leaning in to meet the flame. He gave David a shy smile as he inhaled. David found it very charming.

When Kurt brought the cigarette to his mouth a second time, David noticed familiar wounds on the backs of his hands: the tiny scabs and bruises of needle punctures. David had spent enough time with addicts of various persuasions to know where those marks had originated. He made a worried mental note of this.

"So, how'd you end up here?" Kurt asked.

"Shall we sit?" David suggested, motioning to the sofa.

"Sure, yeah," Kurt replied hastily. He seemed a little flustered by David's presence. They sat.

"I wanted to check out the 'new kids on the block', so I stopped by when I heard about the gig," David said once he was comfortably situated. "I'm glad I did. It was a surprise to hear one of my own songs."

"A good surprise, I hope?" Kurt asked, looking genuinely nervous.

"Oh, very good!" David assured him. "You did Ronno and I proud."

Kurt positively glowed at the praise. "That's a relief to hear," he said.

"I'm very happy to still be relevant!" David said, and laughed, Kurt joining him. Best not to take oneself too seriously.

"You're more than relevant," Kurt remarked quietly after a moment, taking another drag on his cigarette. "You've been a huge influence on me creatively. In so many ways."

"I'm guessing you liked the album cover of The Man Who Sold The World, and not just the song," David ventured, "having seen a picture of you in similar attire."

"Yeah! For sure. I think it's so silly how we still have all these backwards rules about what people can wear. I probably would have been shot if I'd tried to wear a dress back home, you know?"

David nodded. "I was nearly shot in Texas for doing so."

"Oh, jeez, really?"

"An absolute madman waved a gun in my face. It made me realise what a different culture I was in, for the first time. London is much more tolerant."

"Well, I apologise on behalf of all the redneck idiots in this country. We're not all like that."

"So I've been happy to discover. I've met some truly delightful Americans over the years. Your bandmates certainly seem lovely," David hinted.

"Do I?" Kurt asked, taking the bait. His expression was definitely a little flirty, a small smile grabbing the corners of his mouth.

"I'll admit, thus far I am enchanted." It was true. It wasn't like David to be so forward, but he could feel the beginnings of real chemistry between them, weaving in and out amongst their words and in the brief looks and smiles they shared. He wondered if Kurt noticed it, too.

Kurt just suppressed a smile and took a long drag from his cigarette. David couldn't quite tell in the dim lighting, but he thought Kurt's face had turned a bit pink.

"So, another young renegade steps forward," David said, wanting to change the subject to make Kurt more comfortable. "What else have you done to shake things up?"

"Well...I came out as bisexual at a benefit concert recently. I guess that was an attempt to break the monotony. Though, of course you already did that a long time ago. Kinda beat me to the punch." He grinned a little with his joke.

"I did, didn't I? I hardly remember it," David replied, slightly taken off guard. Kurt was not as shy as he first seemed.

"Not to be overly personal, but you are bisexual, aren't you? That's what everybody in the subculture I came out of believes, anyway."

"Oh, yes, I am; I'm just not that keen on talking about my sex life in a public forum. I was pushed into it early in my career for publicity reasons, but I quickly realised how much I hated it." David took a deep drag of smoke into his lungs.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have stuck my nose in." Kurt frowned a little, apologetic.

"No, it's quite all right," David assured him, exhaling the smoke, "I just don't like talking to the press about it. I can practically see them begin drooling. I'm sure you know what I mean."

Kurt laughed. "Yeah, they almost wet their pants with excitement whenever anything remotely sexual comes up!"

"Very true!" David agreed, also laughing. After a moment, he added slyly, "And if something were to come up between the two of us, would that excite you?" He saw his chance and he took it.

Kurt grinned broadly, his eyes turning towards the floor with that charming shyness that had now, suddenly, reappeared. He looked away for a moment to nurse his cigarette, and when he turned back his eyes were sparkling with mischief. "What exactly do you imagine might come up?" His expressive eyes had become particularly piercing as he examined David.

"A creative collaboration, perhaps? Or...other things, if there were any interest..." He looked Kurt directly in the eye: a friendly offer, or maybe a challenge.

"Do tell me more about these other things," Kurt said, his smile utterly flirty. He sucked on his cigarette very slowly, deliberately, while staring right at David, then gracefully released the smoke to one side before returning his eyes to David's.

"Something like this, perhaps," David said, leaning closer. There wasn't much space between them to begin with, and David closed the gap, his two-coloured gaze moving between Kurt's lips and his bright blue eyes as their mouths came together. David had just enough time to see Kurt's eyes light up with excitement before their lips softly met.

Their kiss started soft and slow, a taste of cigarettes shared between them, gentle caresses of lips, and gradually progressed to something deeper and heavier as Kurt leaned into it, David matching his enthusiasm. David pulled away momentarily, grabbing Kurt's cigarette and disposing of both in a nearby ashtray before turning back to his eager partner and beginning again.

He placed a hand on Kurt's shoulder as their lips locked once more, and Kurt's heart was beating so hard David could feel it even from that distant point. David felt hands unbuttoning his suit jacket, and Kurt slipped a hand inside to curl around David's waist, tugging him closer.

David touched his tongue to Kurt's lips and Kurt opened easily, letting David seal their lips together to languidly explore his mouth. Kurt moaned into the kiss and that prompted David to tease him a little, breaking away from his mouth and brushing Kurt's greasy hair off of his neck to fasten lips to the soft skin hidden beneath. David softly kissed and nibbled the delicate area, earning soft sighs of pleasure, and Kurt gripped David's silk shirt in his hand, tugging him still closer.

David moved up again to Kurt's mouth, jumping immediately back to tongue kissing, which Kurt greeted with a muffled noise of delight. Just when David thought things were moving along nicely, a shudder rippled through Kurt's body and he winced, backing out of the kiss. His hand clutched at his midsection and his brows were knitted with pain.

"Are you all right?" David asked, concerned. Kurt seemed off, somehow, and his gaze had gone faraway. He looked paler than he had.

"Not exactly. Sorry. I'm not well," he said, avoiding eye contact.

"Heroin?" David said, more a statement than a question.

Kurt looked at him, startled, then guilty. "Yeah," he admitted softly.

David frowned. His understanding of the young man before him abruptly changed to a darker picture. Kurt evidently couldn't even focus himself on such an engaging interaction as this one without dreaming of his next fix. He must be very far gone in his habit for that to be the case.

David himself had nearly not made it out of his own self-destructive drug spiral many years ago, and this young fellow seemed to be of an even more delicate constitution than David himself, judging by his need to sequester himself after what had seemed like a straightforward and well-received gig. It did not bode well for the future.

It was then that a very loud and off-putting woman, who reminded David very unfavourably of his ex-wife, came barrelling through the door and interrupted the conversation. She was evidently attached to Kurt, as he kissed her hello and excused himself to speak with her.

Their exchange, due to the volume of the woman's voice, was not remotely private and not at all mysterious to David, despite being held in a sort of code language. The language of junkies, he thought, sadly. On the hunt for their next fix.

The fact that Kurt allowed someone in his life who was actively egging him on towards self-destruction was the final nail in the coffin of any potential creative partnership with him, in David's mind. This young man seemed poised on the brink of disaster, teetering perilously on the edge with precious little self-protective instinct at play. Heroin was a wildly dangerous drug, one David had never been willing to go anywhere near, but he'd had friends who'd engaged in long—or short—love affairs with it, and some of them had died. He wasn't willing to go there again. He couldn't bear the heartache.

David rose to make his exit, seeing that the third wheel was now very much himself, based on the way the woman was hanging possessively around Kurt's neck.

"I'll just be leaving," he said, with a polite smile to the clingy couple. Kurt's expression now held a note of regret, but he didn't protest. So be it, David thought, regretful himself.

"I hope I'll run into you again," Kurt said with a childlike, sweet smile that David might have allowed to break his heart had he been a few decades younger.

No, lad, I don't think you will, David thought. Unfortunately, I really don't think you will.

The End

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