Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace
Sleeping naked in the bed he shared with Jordyn, Dave had the first of the dreams Petra had mentioned. This one didn't reveal as much as the second one, but it gave him a bit of useful information.
He found himself dressed, in a dark hallway, light coming from under a door in front of him. A pinpoint of light also came from the tiny keyhole in the knob; Dave knelt down on one knee and peered into it. Two people inside the room, a man and a woman, were arguing.
"You're scaring our boys, Chris!" It was Cara. Dave could only see her lower half as she paced the room, but he recognized her voice.
And there was Chris's lower half, following her. "I'll be alright in a couple of days, I just, I need some time with my family. There's something I need to tell you, Cara." He took her arm. "Please, stop and talk to me."
"I am talking to you. I'm starting to think you've all lost your minds, or maybe I have. You should have heard Dave on the phone. He sounded completely disturbed. But Jordyn backed him up, every word. If Jordyn hadn't said he was telling the truth... Still, am I really supposed to believe all this loony bullshit?"
Dave looked down, afraid she might back up and he'd see her face, the expression on her face. How did one tell this story and not sound disturbed? It hurt, to hear his friend's wife say things like that about him.
"Yes, Cara, you are supposed to believe it, because it happened, and I believe it too."
Dave heard a chair creak as she sat down. He looked through the keyhole just in time to see her raise her bowed head and gesture dramatically with her hand. "Fine. Fine, I accept that it happened. I can't wrap my head around most of it, but it happened. What do you need me to do?"
Chris knelt before her and took both of her hands. "There's something else." He swallowed hard and wet his lips. "This ghost, this Nicky, he... I don't know, he seemed to enjoy messing with our heads, and manipulating Dave into doing... sexual things with him."
"But, he was 'possessing' Taylor, right?"
"So it's kind of like Dave and Taylor messed around."
Chris sighed. "In their case, yeah."
"How are Jordyn and Alison going to take that?" Cara wondered aloud, in a gossipy tone.
"I don't know, I hope they will be understanding about the circumstances. Just like... I hope you will be."
Cara looked at him through an evaluative squint. "Why would I need to be understanding?"
"Because Nicky forced himself on me."
She didn't say anything at first, but eventually replied, "Nicky... forced himself on you. Nicky."
"Yes. Taylor wasn't involved at all. He was completely asleep at that moment. He wanted Dave to have sex with him, so he made like he was going to force me into it unless Dave volunteered, and... and he touched me. And then later, to punish Dave for hurting his feelings, he gave me... he gave me oral sex." Chris looked down, still feeling guilty even though it wasn't his fault. "I didn't feel right not telling you. I hope you understand that I didn't want this to happen, but I couldn't stop him. My hands were chained up."
"So, Taylor giving you... I'm sorry, Nicky... Nicky giving you a blowjob was Dave's punishment?" Cara said, sarcasm and anger in her voice.
Chris nearly exploded. He took Cara by the elbows and leaned closer to her. "Is that what you think? Do you really think we made up this crazy, elaborate, terrifying story as a cover so we could all have a big kinky sex party?!"
Cara could not currently see past her initial reaction of anger; she immediately assumed this was her husband's misguided way of excusing whatever new encounter had happened with Taylor. "No, Chris, I think Taylor Hawkins is some kind of sex addict and he's never going to stop trying to put his hands on you!"
At that moment, Chris's reaction startled even Dave. He pulled Cara up off the chair seat half an inch, squeezing her elbows, and yelled, "Don't you say anything against Taylor! He risked his life to save Dave and I! If he hadn't stabbed himself, the ghost would have killed us all, and instead of being here with my wife and my babies, I'd be back there on Dave's couch with my chest full of stab wounds, waiting to be discovered! DEAD! Can't you understand that?! Can't you understand that I didn't want any of this to happen?" Chris was breaking down in tears, releasing his hold on her. Cara listened and watched, her face full of shock. "I didn't want it. I begged him to stop. But he wouldn't stop. He enjoyed it. Nicky liked fucking with our heads." Sobbing into her lap, he finished, "I thought of you the whole time. Please tell me you don't blame me, Cara."
Her hands were shaking as she ran her fingers through his hair, shushing him. "Shhh, it's okay, I don't blame you." Something in his reaction finally convinced her that even if the story was utterly unbelievable, Chris 100% believed it was true. Cara stroked his hair. He wrapped his arms around her waist and cried into her lap. "It's not your fault."
Dave had to turn away. His friends were hurting, he was hurting, and all because of that monster in the cage. He stood up and walked the dark hall, hearing voices behind another door. This one wasn't locked. Dave stepped through it into someone's party, a Halloween party by the looks of it, and glanced around at all the people in costume. The crowd was quite thick, so thick that when he heard Nicky's voice, he couldn't fully see him, just a head and set of shoulders across the room.
A girl in a slutty nurse costume covered in fake blood handed Dave a red Solo cup full of dark amber beer. "Drink up, dude. It's Halloween."
Dave did, and laughed, "Halloween, and me without a costume."
From across the room, Nicky laughed the too loud and too enthusiastic laugh of the drunk college-age student. He also held a red Solo cup, his other arm around a guy who had his back to Dave. Nicky, dressed as a Ghostbuster, spoke to a dark-haired friend about their plans for that night. "Then we can wrap the quad in toilet paper."
The friend laughed. "Are you really going to drag this guy around with you all night?"
"That's a fine way to talk about my boyfriend. What do you think, Manny? You wanna spend Halloween with us?" he asked, chortling his way through the question.
The friend laughed so hard, he sputtered beer when he tried to take a drink. "Manny," he repeated, like the name was funny.
Manny said nothing.
Dave's attention was stolen away by the sound of someone crying. The sobs were hysterical, inconsolable. He walked toward another door, another way out.
The girl in the bloody nurse costume grabbed his hand. "Don't go. We're about to bob for apples."
Dave shook his head. "I don't want those apples." He gestured toward the metal container full of water with shiny red fruit floating in it. "They're made of plastic."
The sobs of someone he knew again drew Dave's attention, and he headed toward the door. It wasn't Chris he was hearing now.
It was Kurt. Why was Kurt crying?
This door led back to the white space, the pocket limbo dimension created by the magick surrounding the statue. Except, something was different. The light of the dimension was more light yellow than white. Something about the quality of the light hurt Dave's eyes. He walked toward the sound of Kurt's sobs, and found him sitting in a large chair that Dave wanted to describe as a throne. It wasn't made of metal, but fuschia fabric with silver spikes sticking out of it; there was barely enough room for Kurt to sit on it for all the long, sharp spikes. The "throne" was darkly majestic, and there was something horrible about it. It wasn't a throne anyone wanted to sit on.
Several of the spikes were skewering heart-shaped boxes of three or four different shades of red. Dave sort of understood the symbolism of that. Heart-shaped boxes had personal meaning to Kurt and Courtney. He'd written that song about it.
Dave moved until he could see Kurt's face. That's when he noticed Boddah standing next to the throne. "How'd I miss you?" he wondered. "Is this one of those dreams where I don't notice shit until I'm supposed to?"
Boddah, his face covered by the cloak hood, turned slightly as if he was acknowledging Dave's presence. The reaper chattered to Kurt, who sobbed harder.
"How am I supposed to do that, Boddah? No one's ever going to forgive me for this. No one!"
Dave took a good look at Kurt. He realized that the ghost he'd been interacting with for the last few days did look older than the Kurt he was looking at now. The Kurt on the throne had a youthful but haggard face, but that wasn't the most dramatic thing about him. The most shocking thing about this Kurt was that he wore a leather collar so overrun with spikes that he could barely move his head up and down. There were rows upon rows of them, some longer and skinnier than others just to fit them in.
Turning his head, Dave looked at what Kurt was looking at. The space in front of him was like a floating TV screen, except there was no TV there. On this spiritual viewer, Kurt could see people, some Dave recognized and many he didn't, and they were all crying. Freaking out, screaming, crying, asking why... and then he saw Courtney. Behind her, Kurt's mother was also sobbing, holding Frances and sobbing. Courtney, of course, took the cake. Took the most cake.
She was going through a box of clothes. They looked like Kurt's clothes. Courtney started throwing them around and screaming, crying, cursing. "How am I supposed to decide what to keep and what to throw away of my husband's things? How does a person decide that? He should be here, be here to wear these things. Damn you! DAMN YOU, KURT! DAAAMN YOOOU for doing this! DAMN YOOOU!"
Kurt sobbed harder.
"Fuck you, Kurt Cobain! Fuck you and you're goddamn Jesus complex, leaving me behind with all this because you're too weak to stick it out! Fuck you, fuck you, oh God..." Courtney buried herself in the pile of clothing, rolling around in Kurt's shirts and sweaters and pairs of jeans and bringing them to her chest and face. "Some of these still smell like him," she keened, and collapsed into tears.
Kurt shook his head as best he could. "Did you see that, Boddah? Do you still think she could ever forgive me for killing myself?" Gesturing to the screen, he said, "Kids have been committing suicide because I killed myself. Do you understand that?"
Dave realized he was looking at Kurt's ghost within a few days of his suicide. When he was just beginning to face what he'd done, and what he'd have to do to redeem his soul.
The thought that his actions had caused kids, kids who loved and understood his music, to commit suicide was too much for Kurt to currently face. He curled into his lap, hands covering his head. "What have I done? What am I responsible for? Oh God, oh God, oh God..."
Dave forgot that this was a dream and no one could see him. He reached out to stroke Kurt's head, to comfort him. At that moment, Kurt wailed, "Dave!"
He pulled his hand back like he'd touched a hot stove.
Kurt continued, "And what have I done to Dave? People don't know about us, they don't know how I played with his heart. I'm a married man with a jealous wife. How did I think that whole thing was going to end? What did I even want out of it? Maybe I ended my life so I didn't have to make a choice. Do you think that was part of it, Boddah? Oh God, I'm nothing but a horrible, selfish, piece of shit!"
Shaking his head, Dave reached out again and touched Kurt's hair. He could feel the soft blonde strands under his fingers, but he didn't think Kurt could feel him. "No. No, that's not all you are."
Kurt raised his head and wailed, "What have I done, GOD WHAT HAVE I DOOONE?!"
Dave woke up with the sound of Kurt's voice in his ears, his face wet with tears. He knew there was a meaning to everything in it, even the cryptic statements about plastic apples and thrones of spikes, but exactly what it all meant, Dave couldn't be sure. What he did know was he was happy to have a wife who could put her jealousy aside long enough to experiment with her husband and see where it took them, and he was glad to have the chance to show Kurt that forgiveness, complete forgiveness, was possible.
Teddy bears, balloons, flowers, none of it seemed right. "What do you get for a grown man who's in the hospital when you want to say get well?"
Jordyn looked around the hospital gift shop and picked up a plant in a 'Get Well Soon' mug. "Would he like this?"
Dave nodded. "It's masculine enough. Of course, Taylor is also a bit of a hyperactive kid too... we better top this off with some balloons."
Taylor was partially propped up in bed, awake and grinning at his wife, who sat nearby, holding one of his hands. A tray of dirty dishes had been pushed aside when the meal was finished; Dave couldn't be happier to see that his friend was able to eat his breakfast. "Hey!" Taylor called as Dave and Jordyn entered the hospital room. "I farted this morning and the doctor is pleased."
"What?" Dave laughed.
"Apparently, when you've had abdominal surgery, it's a really good sign if you can fart afterwards. It means your guts are working properly."
"Alright!" Dave slapped him five.
Taylor winced a little when he leaned into the gesture, then settled back in bed, rubbing lightly at the bandage on his abdomen. "Of course, I'm still tender. Are those for me?"
"Get well soon!" Dave and Jordyn said together, and presented him with the plant and the balloons.
"Thanks, you two," Taylor said with a smile. He gave the things to Alison, who deposited them on the windowsill with Taylor's other gifts. "Alison also helped me take a walk down the hallway. I'm firmly on the mend."
"The doctor said he should be in here for a couple more days," Alison added. "...depending on the psych evaluation."
"Uh oh." Dave made sure his wife found a seat, then settled into one himself. "They evaluating the reason for your carved up arm?"
"Yeah. But I doubt anyone will find me suicidal, since I didn't do it."
An uncomfortable hush fell over the room. And they'd been having such a nice visit... already with the Nicky talk.
Taylor broke the silence. "I'm not going to make it to Hawaii this year. I'll still be in here."
"That's too bad."
"We're just glad you're going to be okay," Jordyn said.
Taylor looked at her. The tension in the room increased. A million things that needed to be said hung in the air.
Now Alison tried to get the conversation going again. "Taylor and I have been talking, and he corroborated your story... about Nicky Kelly."
Nodding, Dave asked, "What do you remember?"
Taylor turned his eyes to Dave, a smoldering, half-lidded gaze. "Everything," he said. "I remember everything."