telefilm: dave karofsky

Le nuove storie sono in alto.

Storia facente parte del Leoverse.
Genere: Introspettivo, Erotico.
Pairing: OMC/OMC.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, Self, AU, Underage.
- It's Leo's sixteenth birthday, and as it's customary for young lords coming of age, he receives, in the last present his parents will give him, his personal bionic valet. Except Cody is way, way more attractive than Leo would have ever thought him to be. And that proves to be a huge problem.
Note: Scritta per il MMOM, ispirata a Be my girl dei Police. Che uno dice, che c'entra? E invece è nata proprio da quella canzone, che è deliziosa e parla di quest'omino che compra una bambolina invece di una signorina X'D Da cui nasce VallettoBionico!Cody. La mia mente è un luogo meraviglioso in cui ragazzini privi di pirillo e orifizi e con nessuna nozione riguardo al sesso vengono molestati dai loro giovani padroni e finiscono pure per subire inondazioni non convenzionali. Aaah. <3
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

As it’s customary for young lords coming of age these years, Leonard receives his personal bionic valet on the morning of his sixteenth birthday. He knows it’s going to happen, and he wakes up anticipating the moment. It’s not the idea of having somebody to tend to his every need per se that makes him feel happy, that makes his stomach tie up in knots and his skin itch in excitement, but mostly what it really means to have a personal valet, the last present parents present to their children, the first possession that defines you as a man. Bionic valets are those who first call young lords “master”, something that will become a standard for every servant once said young lord will have a mansion and a family of his own. Up to then, though, the valet’s the only one calling them like that, and treating them as such.

Eager to make a good first impression – even though he knows perfectly well bionic valets don’t have any other first impressions than the ones they’re programmed to have, and those are always good – Leo chooses his clothes carefully. Tight black velvet trousers and an exquisitely embroidered white silk shirt will do just fine. He puts one of the most precious of his everyday jackets on to complete the picture, and after looking at himself in the head-to-toe mirror hanging from his wall and deciding he’s satisfied with the result, he walks out of his bedroom and down the stairs, joining his parents in the breakfast room.

He was expecting to see it there, already, but there’s no trace of it. Just his parents, sitting around the rounded table all set for breakfast, and the two maids serving them. They’re smirking, clearly enjoying his unsatisfied expression way more than they should if they loved him enough – or at least that’s what Leo thinks –, and they only manage to keep those masks on for a very short period of time, anyway. In a couple of seconds, they’re both already laughing out loud, Kurt covering his lips with his hand after politely putting down his fork by the still half-full plate’s side, Dave throwing his head back and gently hitting the table with both his closed fists, not even trying to conceal his amusement.

“You’re awful,” Leo protests, walking closer and sitting down, “I can’t believe you didn’t get me one.”

“Perhaps you don’t deserve one,” Kurt mocks him, tilting his head to the side, “After all, what have you done to earn it? Nothing more than turn sixteen. Doesn’t require much skills to do that, don’t you think, Dave?”

“I think it comes pretty natural to fifteen years old boys,” his husband nods, playing his part, “At some point, they’re just sixteen. All of a sudden. They don’t make an effort.”

“That’s exactly what I meant,” Kurt nods eagerly, “I couldn’t agree more. Young kids these days, they’re spoiled.”

“Nobility ruins them.”

“They believe they can achieve anything by doing nothing!”

“And this gift valet tradition does exactly nothing to show them they’re wrong.”

Leo keeps looking at them as they talk, his gaze bouncing from Kurt to Dave and back again, and he could even take them seriously, if they weren’t giggling like schoolkids in between each and every sentence. But that giggling makes clear that they’re just teasing him, trying to make a fool out of him, and that just makes the whole situation annoying.

“Did I say you’re awful, already?” he snorts, leaning in to grab a couple of slices of toasted bread from the large rounded tray in which they’ve been arranged in the middle of the table, “Because you are. You’re a disgrace. I’m your only son and heir, and you treat me like this. I don’t deserve it.”

Kurt laughs again, shaking his head. Then he stands up and walks towards him, wrapping him in a warm hug and kissing him on top of his head. “Happy birthday, my beloved son,” he says with sugary sweet voice.

“I don’t feel much beloved, right now,” Leo protests, putting reaching out for the butter.

Dave and Kurt exchange a quick, understanding glance, and as Kurt giggles, Dave tilts his head, crossing his arms over his chest and tapping his chin with his index finger. “Perhaps you’ll change your mind about that if you check what’s just been delivered to your room as we spoke.”

Instantly forgetful of the butter, the sliced toasted bread and breakfast altogether, Leo tilts his head upwards, fixing his eyes on his father. “Do you mean…?”

Dave smirks, amused, looking back at him. “I’d rush back upstairs, if I were you,” he just says.

Leo doesn’t need to be told twice.


The plastic box is big, at least as tall as he himself is. It’s been placed right in the middle of the room, and from where he stands – on the threshold, with his eyes and mouth open in awe – Leo can already see what’s inside it.

He approaches quickly, pressing both hands on the transparent front to take a closer look at the bionic valet standing on the other side, propped up against the purple cardboard back through silky laces tied in tight knots around his neck, elbows, waist and ankles. His wrists are tied together too, resting gracefully on his lap. He looks extraordinarily dignified – and yes, despite his quite feminine appearance, there’s no doubt he’s a boy.

Not that gender means anything for bionic valets, of course. They don’t even have sex organs. And not that Leo doesn’t like girls anyway, it’s just he likes boys more. It was cute of his parents to think about it while buying him.

Excited, eager to turn him on, he cuts the tape keeping the box closed and opens it. The sweet, natural scent emanating from the valet’s silky skin surrounds him instantly, and Leo draws it in through deep breaths that he’d rather not have to blow out.

Once the scent disperses enough to let him come close without feeling dizzy and confused, he does, and the first thing he wants to do is touch him. He lifts one hand, placing it gently on his cheek and feeling his smooth, tender skin under his fingertips.

He feels heavenly.

Leo lets his hand slide down the valet’s slender, milky white neck, his fingers running down as long as they can, until they’re stopped abruptly by the rounded collar of the simple black blouse he’s wearing. For a moment, he toys with the thought of leaving him off for just a little white longer as he takes all his clothes off, to see him naked, to feel if he’s as smooth and soft everywhere as he seemed until now. Then he shakes his head, embarrassed and annoyed at himself: these are not proper thoughts for a young lord coming of age. A personal valet is just that: a personal valet. There’s a reason why they make them sexless, he tells himself.

But a smaller, meaner voice adds that they also should’ve thought about making them ugly, then.

He tries to bury away the thought as he keeps himself occupied untying the laces around Cody’s limbs. He’s got to keep his cool. Soon enough he’ll turn him on, and then he will have to look and act like a Master. That’s what’s expected of him, that’s what’s proper. He throws away the silky laces and combs a lock of the valet’s dark, straight, silky hair behind his ear, instantly finding the button to activate him. He presses it gently, and he’s too close and not prepared enough not to shiver when the valet opens his eyes and stares right at him.

He doesn’t look one day older than fourteen, he’s got cherry red lips that curl in a sweet smile when he sees Leo, and most of all he’s got the most impossibly big and deep baby blue eyes Leo has ever seen. He finds himself swallowing hard at the sight, unable to say a single word or to back away, frozen on the spot by the intensity of that gaze.

“Good morning, Master,” the valet bows deferentially, still smiling, “My name is Cody. I have been purchased to be your personal valet, to serve you loyally, to tend to your every need, and I am delighted to make your acquaintance.”

Leo swallows, finally gathering enough strength to move a few steps back. He tries to think of something smart and clever to say, but nothing comes to mind. “…hi,” he settles for in the end, “My name’s Leo. I mean, Leonard Karofsky-Hummel, your Master. You may call me Leo.”

“I may not, Master,” Cody smiles politely, “Master is how I have to call you.”

“…right,” Leo swallows, looking away.

Cody removes himself from the plastic box, stepping out of it and looking at him with concerned eyes. “Are you displeased with my looks or my manners, Master?” he tries in a small, apologetic voice.

“What?” Leo asks, looking back at him with wide eyes.

“If you’re not satisfied with me, for any reason, feel free to call the number written on the back of my box. Somebody will come pick me up and you will be given a new personal valet of your liking, for free.”

“What—no!” Leo almost yells, shaking his head, “No, stop with this nonsense! How could I even… I’m not displeased with you! You’re perfectly fine!”

“Am I?” Cody looks up at him, his lips parting in a grateful smile, “I’m so glad to hear you say so, Master. I only wish to be of service.” He pauses for a few moments and then comes a couple steps closer, tilting his head to the side as he smiles kindly. His hair slide off his neck in the movement, uncovering a good portion of it. The smell surrounds Leo as strongly as it did when he first opened the box, and just as he did then, Leo feels dizzy again. “Is there something you want me to do for you now, Master?”

Leo unsuccessfully tries to stop the fantasies from pouring into his brain like a flood, drowning any other thought in images that just can’t be stop. Cody’s in them, he’s in all of them, naked and sweaty, with his lips parted, his eyes closed, or open but heavy with lust and need, and he’s got his legs spread, and he invites him closer, or he kneels on the floor in front of him and pulls Leo’s pants down, uncovering what’s underneath them, holding it in his fist, moving it along its length and then taking it down his—

“No,” he says, turning around and quickly passing a hand over his face, as if that simple movement could help to make all those fantasies fade away, “No, I’m fine, for now. Your… your room has probably been arranged right next to mine. Go take a look. Settle down. We’ll—We’ll meet later.”

He leaves the room before Cody can say anything else.


He spends the rest of the day trying as hard as he can to avoid him, and hating himself for it. He feels like such an idiot. He was so eager to finally have his own personal valet, he’s spent the last months before his birthday daydreaming about how he’d be, the things he’d have done for him, how would it feel to be called Master, and now that he finally has one he’s acting like a stupid child, all hot and bothered just because he’s so pretty. That’s shameful and totally not what he’s supposed to feel right now. He should call Cody in, instruct him about his habits, his clothes, the places he likes to hang out and his friends, and instead he can’t even look at him without having to run away to the bathroom to take care of a ridiculous hard-on that’s always ready to wake up again by just the mere glimpse of him.

It’s not only ridiculous and outrageous, it’s also tiring and incredibly stressful. Cody’s been around less than twenty-four hours and Leo has already had three massive erections by looking at him and another two by just thinking about him, and he had to jerk off each and every time to make arousal go away. He’s spent, and if this day is going to be of any indication for the rest of his life, he won’t survive to see the dawn of his seventeenth birthday.

Exhausted, he sits down on the edge of his own bed, feeling its inviting softness underneath his limbs. He aches for a good night’s sleep. He couldn’t even enjoy the party his parents organized to celebrate his birthday: he was surrounded by friends and presents, and yet all he could think about was Cody, all he could see was Cody, and he could feel was the effect he had over his body. It’s been a nightmare. And now that bedtime is quickly approaching, he starts to fear sleeping won’t change that one bit. Oh, if he starts seeing Cody in his dreams too, he’s going to scream.

He slowly stands up, thinking that, ultimately, he can’t run away from sleep as much as he can’t run away from Cody. Tomorrow, he’ll see him again, and he’d rather do that with an eight-hours sleep to sustain him, instead of a sleepless night to drag him down. So he resolves to undress and get ready, but he’s interrupted, just as he starts unbuttoning his shirt, by the creaking sound of the service door of his bedroom as it gets gently pushed open.

He realizes a second too late that that’s the door that connects Cody’s bedroom with his own, and so he’s not prepared to see him when his eyes focus on him. Even if he had been, though, seeing him as he is now would have had the same devastating effect on his body.

He’s basically naked. He’s only wearing a very short white nightgown that’s wrapped up around his thin body like a glove, making the light but visible curve of his hips stand out. His naked legs seem so long, being the nightgown short enough to leave them uncovered almost completely, and they look so full and soft they almost seem edible, or at least that’s what Leo thinks as he imagines himself, in an unwilling and unstoppable flash of desire, kneeling in front of him to take a bite from them.

Barefoot, Cody steps into the room, bowing lightly to apologize for his intrusion. “Master,” he says.

“What?” Leo asks, nervously backing off and closing the half-opened shirt on his chest to cover himself in an irrational fit of embarrassment, “What’s the matter?”

“I just wanted to tell you that I am going to sleep, Master,” Cody says, smiling gently, “As it’s written on my instruction manual, I need a seven-hours sleep to recharge my batteries completely after a day’s work. However, I’m programmed so that if you need me you can come wake me up, and in a few minutes I’ll be able to accomplish simple tasks, speak to you and take note of what you want me to do, if it’s something more complex, so I can do it in the morning. I apologize for not being able to really focus on you or do exactly what you tell me to do during recharge, but it’s what my operating system requires.”

“…oh,” Leo says, blinking a couple of times, “Sure… that’s… that’s alright. I understand.” He hasn’t read Cody’s instruction manual, yet. How could he be so stupid? He’s got to get a grip, and he’s got to do it now. This is beyond ridiculous already. He’s better than this, he’s better than the stammering, horny guy Cody makes of him every time he’s around. “I won’t need you,” he says, “Sleep well.”

Cody smiles lightly, nodding and then turning around to leave the room. Leo has to avert his eyes the very moment he does it, because his nightgown is even shorter on his back, unable to cover entirely the sweet, full curve of his ass.

He finds himself thanking God for making Cody leave, but God must hate him, he realizes, because a second before disappearing past the door Cody stops, turning around to look at him. “Master?” he calls out for him.

Leo clears his throat, trying to pull himself together and looking at him. “Yes?”

“You kept me at a distance the entire day,” he says woefully, “Don’t you wish to have me close?”

The words make Leo’s stomach sink, as he parts his lips to let out a shaky breath. He wants Cody close so much that he suspects he could never be close enough, and here he comes asking if he doesn’t wish for that. “I…” he says, trying to swallow and failing at it, “That’s not it.”

“Perhaps I did something wrong?” Cody inquires, moving closer and looking at him, “If that’s the case, I apologize, Master. I also feel I have to inform you that, as you can read in my instruction manual, you can tell me if I do something wrong, and I’m programmed to register your complaint and modify my behavior accordingly. However, there are a few things I might not be able to change with just your command, for they have been locked in my programming as obligated actions. If you wish for me not to do those things anymore, you can call the number on the back of my box and a programmer will come here and change my hardcoding for you.”

“No…” Leo whines, passing a hand over his face. This is so wrong. He’s being so bad at this he’s even making Cody doubt his own functioning. That’s absurd. “No, that’s not it either. You’ve got nothing wrong, Cody, I’m just…” he sighs, “Look, this is still new to me. I thought I knew how to…” he shakes his head, “But I don’t, so I’m making a mess and I’m making it awkward, and I apologize for that.”

“Master,” Cody laughs sweetly, a little, soft chuckle he hides behind his hand, “You’re doing nothing of the sort. It is perfectly alright not to know the protocol. I’ve only just arrived, and it’s easier for me because all I have to do is written in my core. I don’t have to learn, because I already know.” His smile grows wider and softer, as he puts both hands on Leo’s shoulders, that light touch already enough to send shivers down Leo’s spine. “But I can teach.”

Leo finds himself swallowing again, trying to resist the urge to run away as he already feels his body awaken for Cody. “Teach me what?” he asks, and he’s perfectly aware of the fact that, if Cody was a real person, that would sound as flirting. For a moment he even hopes Cody will answer accordingly, saying something that could easily be equivocated, so that Leo would know he’s playing too.

But Cody doesn’t know how to play this game. Among all the things written in his core there’s nothing about love, nothing about sex, and obviously nothing about flirting. And that’s not something Leo could call assistance for. So he looks away when Cody answers with nothing but a smile, proceeding with his last task before shutting down for recharging.

This last task being help him undress for the night, obviously.

“No…” he whines, trying to back off as Cody delicately finishes to unbutton his shirt and then pushes it down his shoulders, “I can do this by myself.”

“Of course you can, Master,” Cody nods politely, “But I can do it for you too,” he says, helping him sit down and then kneeling on the floor right in front of him. “You’ve got me, now,” he adds, his hands closing around the button of his pants, easily getting it out the eyelet, “Use me.”

Leo’s stomach ties up in knots instantly, as his cock rises to the mere sound of Cody’s words. He stands up quickly, moving as far away from Cody as he possibly can without leaving the room, and buttoning up his pants right away not to show the powerful erection that’s making them swell. “Thank you, Cody, but I won’t need this for tonight,” he says, stubbornly refusing to look at him, “You can leave, now.”

Cody doesn’t say a word as he stands up, but when Leo turns around to catch a glimpse of him as he bows before leaving the room he can see he was saddened by his words, and the thought makes him sad too. Why is he treating him like this? Why can’t he bring himself to just try and explain to him what this is all about? Maybe Cody wouldn’t understand, but at least at that point he’d know this isn’t his fault. And Leo could try and learn how to live with it.

But it’s too late to think about it now. He’s tired and all these emotions are making his head spin. He just wants to lie down, close his eyes and stop thinking about everything altogether.

That doesn’t happen, of course. The moment he turns the lights off and slips underneath the covers, his eyes snap open and there’s no way he can fall asleep. Every time his eyes close he feels the wave coming, pictures of Cody crowd his mind and confuse him, and when that happens his eyes snap open once again, and just when he thinks that maybe, if he stays awake and keeps himself busy thinking about random things, he’ll avoid the thought of Cody, the pictures come back, twice as vivid, and it feels horrible, not to be able neither to sleep or to stay awake.

He covers his face with both hands, letting out a frustrated, desperate moan.

He wants to see him. He wants to touch him. To kiss him, to kiss every single inch of that pale pink soft body, he wants to bury himself inside of Cody and never come out again, and to fantasize about it is twice as frustrating, because he knows that even if he was able to explain Cody what love and desire are, his body wouldn’t still have been built for it. There’s no way for him to bury himself into Cody’s body, unless he decides to tear him a new one, literally.

Sighing deeply, Leo sits up on the bed, passing a hand over his face and through his curly, messed up locks. His parents should’ve bought him a girl. A girl wouldn’t have put him in such a position. He’s had few sexually related experiences and all of them have been with girls, so he knows how he is around them. He’s attracted to them, but not nearly in such an overwhelming way as he is to Cody. If his parents had bought him a girl, he probably would have ended up finding her attractive too, but he wouldn’t have grown so obsessed about her. Not in such a short time, anyway! God, the amount of time he actually needed to get in over his head about this was so short it’s almost scary. In just a few hours Cody made him starve for it in such a way that there’s no telling how worse this could grow in the next days. Or weeks. And that’s just terrifying.

The worst part, anyway, is that no matter how uncomfortable Cody makes him feel and how hard it literally is to look at him – Leo still wants to do it. He wants it so badly his whole body’s aching for it, to the point that his mind’s trying to play tricks on him, to deceive him into thinking that if he walks into his bedroom and just looks at him for a few moments, then he’ll be fine. The desire will fade out and he’ll be able to go back to his usual self, throwing all that behind his shoulders.

Frustrated to the point of physical pain, he looks up at the closed door separating him from Cody, and he decides that anything would be better than how he feels now. Even if, after looking at him, this strong urge drawing him towards Cody would come back twice as hard, it would have still been worth it to just look at him for those few moments of peace that would give him. So he stands up, and quickly walks to the door, opening it.

Cody’s room is dark and silent, and Leo struggles to find his way to Cody’s bed. When he finally manages, the first thing he does is turning on the lamp on the nightstand. Cody’s face appears out of the darkness, so still and calm in his sleep, but the dim light is already enough to wake him up. Leo sees him turn around to look at him, and his heart starts pounding furiously in his chest.

“Master…?” Cody says in a sleepy moan, rubbing his eyes with his tiny fist closed, “Do you need me?”

Oh, yes, he does. He needs him so much. He needs him right now, or he’ll lose his mind. He moves closer to the bed, stroking Cody’s cheek with his fingers, feeling its smoothness under his fingertips. He’s so perfect. He’s so beautiful. He wants him so much.

“Stay still,” he says in a low voice, feverishly letting him go to pull down his pants, uncovering his throbbing hard-on.

“Master…?” Cody whimpers, puzzled, looking at it, “What is… what are you doing?”

“Please, don’t say anything,” Leo begs him, desperation echoing strongly in his voice as he holds his cock in his closed fist, stroking himself quickly.

Cody complies without complaining, his baby blue eyes still heavy with sleep but fixed on Leo’s, who’d rather not look at him – because this feels sick, and it’s so embarrassing he has no idea how he’ll be able to look at his own face in the mirror tomorrow morning – but at the same time simply can’t look away, mesmerized by how beautiful Cody looks, how inviting those cherry red lips seem, crazy to the thought of how it could feel to just move closer, as he’s doing now, and make his own cock slip past those lips, disappear into Cody’s mouth.

Would Cody suck at it, he wonders as his fist closes tighter around his erection, would he take it down up to his throat? Would he move his tongue in swirls around the head, would he passes it over the tip, teasing the small opening right on the top? Would he lick it up and down its length, would he move down to suck at his balls? And would he swallow – God, that’s too much – would he swallow when Leo came inside his mouth? Would he take it, would he lick at it until there was no trace of his orgasm anymore?

Shivering with the hardest, most satisfying orgasm he remembers to have ever felt, Leo whimpers and opens his eyes. He has kept them open as he jerked off, but he squeezes him closed the moment he came. Now that he’s opening them again, he realizes the mess he’s made of Cody’s face, and he shivers again, this time not in pleasure, but in disgust at himself.

“God…” he says, backing off, “I’m… I’m sorry.”

Cody lifts himself up, sitting on the bed. He’s got come all over his face, and when he lifts his hand to try and wipe it off he does nothing but smear it everywhere even more. “Master…?” he asks with that sleepy voice again.

Leo whimpers once more, the picture stirring up desire in his belly in such a powerful way that his cock doesn’t even seem interested in the fact that he just got off, and starts hardening again. “Please… don’t do that,” he begs, “Wait, don’t move. I’ll… I’ll go get something to clean your face.”

He runs back into his room, mostly because he needs a few seconds to gather his thoughts. It proves not to be a very wise decision when, together with thoughts, panic comes too – what has he done? God, if anybody ever found out… –, but he tries to push it aside, to stay focused. He grabs a towel from one of his drawers and walks back into Cody’s room.

Cody’s waiting for him in the very same position he was when he left him. He told him not to move, and he hasn’t. “I’m so sorry,” he whines, getting closer and cleaning his face carefully.

Cody looks up at him, his eyes still heavy. He hasn’t charged enough to stay focused, and he keeps dozing off. “About what, Master…?” he whispers confusedly.

“About what I just did,” Leo struggles to speak, embarrassment clouding his thoughts, gathering in his throat and making an unswallowable lump out of itself, “I shouldn’t have done it.”

His face still half dirty, his eyelids flapping slowly, drowsily, Cody smiles. “You can do whatever you want to me, Master,” he says sweetly, “I’m glad you came to me.”

Leo’s hands drop down his sides as he looks at him, mesmerized. He’s still holding onto the dirty towel, but he’s not even aware of it, and he’s just doing it because the idea of letting it fall on the clean floor makes him uncomfortable.

He makes an effort to swallow, and then parts his lips, trying to say something, but it takes words a ridiculous amount of time to come to him. “So…” he says, “Is it alright if I… if I do it again, every now and then?” he tries, uncertain.

Cody smiles again and nods. “Of course, Master,” he says, “I only wish to be of service.” Then his head falls against his shoulder as sleepiness turns him off for a second, but he opens his eyes right away, smiling apologetically. “I’m so very sorry, Master,” he says, “I’m afraid I have to go back to sleep, now. My batteries are very low. I wouldn’t want to exhaust them completely.”

“Right,” Leo clears his throat and shakes his head, as he backs away, “Right. You’re… You’re right, of course.”

Apparently amused by his reaction, Cody chuckles lightly. “Thank you, Master,” he says, “Goodnight.”

He answers with just a nod, and leaves the room immediately, closing the door behind himself. Once he’s alone in his bedroom, the first thing he notices is how lighter he feels now. He looks at his bed, and it seems so much more inviting, now. Maybe his mind wasn’t trying to play tricks on him, maybe it was trying to suggest him a way to make all that frustration go away.

He slips underneath the covers quickly, and it only takes him to lay his head down against the pillow to finally fall asleep.
Genere: Romance, Drama, Erotic.
Pairing: Blaine/OMC, side: Kurt/Dave, OC/OC.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, Lemon, Het, Underage, What If?.
- Leo is fifteen and he has been hating Blaine for all his life, since the moment the man tried to ruin his fathers wedding. So when the man ends up spending the night at their house, last thing Leo wants is to stay under the same roof. Little he knows that during that night, things will change forever for both of them. The couch where Blaine is sleeping on will be the beginning of a relationship that will cause more than a few problems.
Note: Hello, y’all! Here’s us trying to explain what this story is and miserably failing at it. But watch us try, if you will.
Broken Heart Syndrome is a sequel, based on Leonard Karofsky-Hummel VS The World, a story we wrote last year, in which we had an original character, Leo (Dave and Kurt’s son), interact with all the other characters from the Gleeverse.
We basically fell in love with him so hard we couldn’t let him go, even when the story was over. And so we started wondering about what could happen to him in the future, and that’s where this new story’s coming from. We’ve planned quite a lot of it, even though this first chapter is the only one we’ve written by far. We already started working on chapter two, but we decided not to wait until the story was over (mainly because we reasonably think it’s not going to be over before years after today), also because we imagine there won’t be a crowd of people banging to our door for new chapters to come out, given the fact that this is a story we basically write for our own entertainment and for the incredible love we feel for all the new characters we invented to play big roles in Leo’s world and life.
That said, of course, we’d be delighted if you wanted to read this story, and we promise we’ll put our best efforts in it. Also, this new universe we created revolving around Leo and his relationship with Blaine is now so different and independent from the original Gleeverse that the story could easily be read as an original, which is what we hope you all will want to do.
Thank you very much, if you’ll decide you want to give us and our story a try. Comments will be cherished and appreciated greatly.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

“So,” Adam says, walking inside the room with a couple of Coke cans in his hands and countless different types of junk food between his arms, “Mom said you can stay as long as you want, maybe even stay the night if it pleases you, but I’m telling you, if you’re really planning on planting roots in here, you better start paying your own share of bills, you hear me?”

“Fuck you,” Leo answers, trying to kick him in his knees when he walks past him and the chair he’s sitting on, but clumsily missing the target, “Gimme one of those,” he whines, pointing at a chocolate bar.

“I should have you pay for this too,” Adam chuckles, throwing the snack at him and then opening one of the cans to sip at it, “You know, not everybody here is the son of the most important Broadway actor of the last ten years, with a hundred dollars per week allowance. Some of us are poor. I hate to break it down for you.”

“I said fuck you,” Leo snorts, unpacking the snack and taking an angry bite of it, gnawing violently, as if he’s trying to take his anger out on the innocent chocolate bar, “They used to give me more before Tana was born.”

“Yeah, let’s complain about that, Leo, that’s exactly what I’m in the mood to hear about when my mom’s doing double shifts to pay the rent,” Adam shakes his head, rolling his eyes and casting a resigned glance to the ceiling. He’s not really angry at Leonard, he knows him too well, and has been knowing him for much too long, not to know he doesn’t see anything else in the world that doesn’t concern himself. He doesn’t do it on purpose, he’s not even mean. He’s just self-centered. And kind of dumb, actually.

“I’m sorry…” Leo sighs, finishing his snack in a couple of bites and then asking for some coke. Adam gives him his can, and opens the other one, “It’s just that… that man’s home now. It’s making me even angrier than usual.”

“And, considering you live your life in a constant state of deep, wild and unreasonable anger even when he’s not around, that’s saying something,” Adam chuckles, mocking him.

Leo turns to glare at him, but he ends up losing all his drive halfway through, so when he’s actually looking at Adam he’s doing it with an annoyed but too-tired-to-be-really-threatening look, which is fine. Adam knows him enough to know he’s about to surrender. “You don’t need to make me feel stupid about it, y’know?” he says.

Adam nods. “I know, but it’s funnier that way,” he answers, and when Leo starts whining, he chuckles. “Come on,” he says, “You can’t expect me to take it seriously, I mean, you never talk about him, I don’t know what he did to make you hate him like that, how can you expect me to sympathize?”

“Maybe ‘cause you’re my best friend?” Leo asks back, arching an eyebrow.

“I am,” Adam nods, “But that doesn’t mean I can hate a man just because he exists or something. Come on, all I know is that he was your father’s boyfriend when they were in high school, and that coach Karofsky has always been jealous of him.”

“And that he almost ruined my parents’ wedding, a wedding I had worked my ass off to make possible!, nine years ago!”

“That’s not exactly accurate,” Adam laughs, opening a pack of onion-flavored chips to start eating them, “What really happened is that he was a guest at your parents’ wedding and that you misunderstood what was the purpose of him being there for your father, and you ran away in tears, making the hugest drama queen scene you’ve ever done, getting yourself lost in the woods and putting yourself and the wedding in danger, until your fathers just sat down and figured everything out, making it alright again.”

Leo swallows down all his coke and then throws the empty can at Adam, missing him spectacularly. “Fuck it,” he whines.

“You really are hopeless, aren’t you?” Adam chuckles, standing up to retrieve the empty can from the floor before the couple of drops of coke still left inside it could stain the carpet. “I don’t know what this Blaine guy did to you, beside looking like you in quite a disturbing way—”

“He doesn’t look like me!”

“—but you really should let it go, Leo,” Adam sighs, throwing the can in the trash.

“Listen, I’m not making this up or anything,” Leo snorts, sitting better on the chair so he can look at Adam straight in his eyes, “I’m not exaggerating! He’s, like, the worse human being ever conceived, I refuse to acknowledge he has a mother because nothing that evil could ever come out of a living woman, it would kill her. Maybe that’s why his is dead, after all.”

“Now you’re being mean.”

“No, now I’m being the one who doesn’t give a fuck about Blaine Anderson, okay?” he insists, getting all fired up, “I hate him. Now, you’re free to believe that I do it for stupid, trivial reasons, or whatever, but I know him better than you, I’ve been knowing him my whole life, and that man is scum. He’s inconsistent, always showing himself off inappropriately, he doesn’t know what the word respect means, he’s a whore and he’s not even ashamed of that, and yet everybody looks at him like he was some sort of Greek God, just because he’s good-looking and has abs. I can’t stand him, he’s exactly the kind of person I don’t want around, and yet I’m forced to have him around because my father, just like everybody else, falls for his Prince Charming shit every single time. So, is this enough, Adam? Is this enough for you to understand why I’m so fucking angry whenever he’s around?”

Adam blinks a couple of times, looking at him like he’s never seen him before. “Leo?” he calls out, standing up from the edge of his bed and walking towards him to put a hand on his shoulder, “I think you should talk about this with somebody.”

“I just talked about this with you,” Leo answers, frowning.

“No, I mean somebody who can understand what’s going on in your head, because dude, what you just said sounds so totally unhealthy and kind of messed up, if you want my opinion.”

“Oh, please…” Leo says, letting out a frustrated moan and standing up too, walking away from Adam, “I don’t need a shrink because I fucking hate Blaine Anderson.”

“You sure?” Adam insists, tilting his head a bit as he keeps following him around, “’Cause, dude, everything you said… I mean, what do you even care about it? So he fucks around, alright. What do you care?”

“It’s not just that! It’s everything else too! Did you even listen?”

“Yeah, man, I did! I heard you fine and clear, it just seems to me that you’re, like, you know…” he tries to find the right words to say, because he knows Leo’s in a very bad place now, he feels like he’s been cornered and Adam’s almost sure that if he tried to reach out for him carelessly, Leo would bite his hand off. “…a little overinvested, maybe?” he tries, looking cautiously at Leo.

Who drops his arms down his sides and parts his lips in shock. His eyes scream “betrayal!”, and Adam instantly knows maybe he didn’t choose the words correctly enough.

“Yeah, sure. It’s me. I’m the problem,” Leo mutters, walking past Adam as if he didn’t even see him, to retrieve the jacket he abandoned on the back of the chair when he walked in, three hours ago, when he took it off. “Doesn’t matter anyway, he’s still going to be there. Dad wouldn’t throw him out even if I ran away from home.”

“Leo… come on,” Adam sighs, following him as he tries to stop him, “Aren’t you taking it a little too bad? And don’t get mad at me!”

“I’m not mad at you, okay?” Leo turns around to look at Adam, as if he could trick him into believe that if he’s able to look at him straight in his eyes, he’s telling the truth. Adam, however, knows it’s not that simple. “I just need to go. If I move now, I’m gonna be home before midnight.”

“Wait— what?” Adam opens his eyes wide, almost throwing himself between Leo and the door, “Leo, you live in the other side of the city! Come on, at least wait for my mom to be back, she’ll drive you home!”

“No, I’m fine,” Leo shakes his head, forcing a smile that doesn’t look even half as sincere as he wanted it to, “I need to walk. It’ll help me cool down. I need it, if I don’t wanna punch him in the face the very moment I see him.”

Adam sighs, moving away from the door and opening it. Leo smiles at him and walks to the front door, whispering a “thank you”.

“You sure you don’t wanna stay for the night?” Adam asks, “I was joking, you know, about making you pay for it.”

Leo lets out an amused half-chuckle that actually sounds half-honest too. “I know, Adam, I know,” he says, “I’m fine, don’t worry. Besides, even if I slept here, he would still be there in the morning. And I can’t let that man kick me out of my own house. Don’t worry, I’m gonna be okay.”

“Sure you are,” Adam sighs once more, lifting a hand to ruffle Leo’s already wild enough curls, “Some day, my hand’s gonna get stuck in it,” he says with a light chuckle.

Leo echoes it with a chuckle of his own, looking at him with a flash of gratitude in his eyes. “Then you should stop doing it, already,” he says, punching him lightly on his chest, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“No, you’ll call me tonight, so I know you’re alive,” Adam says, with one last sigh.

Leo’s not going to call him tonight, but this he still doesn’t know.


When Leo has said he was fine going back home alone, he hasn't realized how really far his home is from Adam's. While he walks down the road with his cellphone on so to make some kind of light the seldom drivers can see and not run him over, he understands thoroughly the difference in condition between their family. Never, in all his life, he has wished more not to live in the suburbs.

Apparently, they are a longer way away if you don't drive a car or take a bus.

He has just passed the cafeteria downtown where they always go when they should be studying at the library and for some reason or another they don't want to – that's the furthest he and Annie can convince Adam to go before his ever present sense of duty kicks in – when a text message arrives. It's Adam of course, asking if he has made it home yet.

“No, I didn't made it home yet, Adam,” Leo snaps and writes him an answer. Geez, can the guy stop worrying for a couple of hours? He has all it takes to be the so called leader of their trio: he is the strongest, the most popular, he is the tall, handsome blonde and he is not even dumb. He could be the hero. Instead, he goes on and plays the mother-hen for him and Annie.

When he gets home, another hour has passed and Adam has written ten other messages, one more anxious than the previous one. Leo has answered the first four, then stopped all together because he may receive more money than Adam from his parents, but his allowance is not endless, and he doesn't want to spend it all in one night to make sure his overprotective best friend knows he's still alive.

The house is dark, of course.

Since Santana is born, his parents go to bed early, hoping she will follow their example and fall asleep sooner, but she never does. She always keeps them awake for the most part of the night. Luckily, Leo is an heavy sleeper, so she can cry all she wants, he never notices. Only the morning after he knows that she has been generally unbearable because Kurt is so tired that he doesn't even bother covering the shadows under his eyes before showing up for breakfast.

But they have a guest in the house tonight. The thought of Blaine being unable to sleep because of his annoying little sister's crying makes him happy. “I hope you wanted to sleep, Anderson, and that she kept screaming and screaming and screaming until your head felt like exploding and you ran away,” he says aloud, as he looks right and left approaching his home.

Santana did cry.

She cried a lot. She cried so much Blaine actually thought she was going to scream her head off or something. He usually loves kids. He's not the kind of man who goes head over heels just to hold them or makes those stupid little noises every time a toddler under six months is anywhere near, but he finds them cute. He was sure that someday he would stop fucking around and even have a kid; possibly with the gorgeous guy who tends to all his needs in his dreams every time he is in bed alone. But Santana did whatever she could do to make him reconsider. The little girl – no more than five months old if he understood correctly – was the cutest thing ever while she was with them at dinner and right after that, while they were talking in the sitting room. But as soon as her fathers said goodbye and brought her to bed, she started howling and she wouldn't stop.

Blaine tried to ignore her for a while, burying his head under his pillow on the couch, but to no use. Even behind a closed door the kid's high pitched wailing was clearly audible. He even wondered how Kurt and Dave could stand that torture every night without swinging her out of the window. After hearing Kurt singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” Barbra Streisand style for the third time in a row, he decided it was time for him to do something different instead of tossing and turning on a couch and went to have a shower.

Spending the night at Kurt's house after their lovely's monthly homecoming dinner wasn't a great idea. He likes Kurt and he sort of likes his family – even though part of it hates him – but he likes sleeping as well, and apparently he can't do that in Kurt's house. Luckily, the shower gave the little princess enough time to collapse and when he gets out of the bathroom, a white towel perfectly wrapped around his equally perfect hips, the house is finally silent.

Blaine combs with his fingers his long and curly hair that is still ruffled and dump. It's in moment like these that he regrets not sticking with the tidy look he had in high school. Wild curls look wonderful at any given moment, except when he actually has to comb them. As he tries to make sense of his hair again, he goes back in the sitting room, which is comfortably dark and quiet now, and just watches the moon that he can see through the window.

He is toying with the idea of drying his hair as quickly as possible and enjoy what little is left of the night before Santana wants to eat or something, when the front door opens, however silently, and he suddenly remembers that not all the members of this family were already back home. He thanks his legendary shamelessness for being able to turn around and facing with a smile who's entering, wearing only a towel.

Leo tiptoes into the house and tries to close the door as silently as he can. God forbid that the click of the lock wakes up the demon upstairs. A few days ago he dropped the keys in the hallway, Santana started crying and his father appeared on top of the stairs, looking ready to claw his eyes off. He doesn't want to repeat the experience, so it takes him a little time to realize someone is watching him doing his best not to be noticed.

“Oh, great,” he snorts, as he tries not to show Blaine has startled him. Last thing he needs right now, having to deal with this man he hates so much. “I was hoping you would be gone already. Or dead.”

Blaine doesn't lose his smile. He knows Leonard since he was six years old. Yes, he almost ruined his fathers' wedding, but in the course of his life he had also the privilege – and the mildly devastating rotten luck – of babysitting him multiple times at different ages, much to Leonard's annoyance, and if he doesn't know him pretty well, he at least learned how to bear with him. “Oh, hey,” he says, waving nonchalantly. “I'm sorry I have to invade your privacy like this. It's only for tonight, anyway. Your fathers and me had a late night and Kurt invited me to stay. I hope you're not mad at me.”

“You can bet your ass I am,” Leo replies, being excessively rude just to show he's tough. He usually doesn't speak like this to adults, but he feels the need to when Blaine's around. He leaves the keys at the entrance and takes off his coat that bears every sign of Kurt's sense of fashion, being a three quarters coat that has nothing to do with the jeans and shirt the kid wears underneath.

Blaine looks genuinely surprised. “And why's that so?”

“You ask me why?” Leo says, unbelieving. This man is here, exceeding his dad's hospitality by being naked around the house and he asks why Leo is mad at him. How shameless can he be? “'Cause it's not cool, dude. That's why. And it's inappropriate. My dads are a married couple and they almost broke up because of you once. I'm not eager to go through that experience again, thank you very much.”

Blaine understands teen's anger. Or at least, he acknowledge its existence, even if he finds it stupid to be angry at everything and everyone as teens usually are. So, he is not surprised that Leo is angry, but he honestly thinks that he should be so over the wedding issue already. “I honestly can't understand why you're so stubborn about it,” he says matter-of-factly. “I couldn't get it back then and most of all i can't”

Leo raises an eyebrow. “'Cause I love them and I don't like you? And Geez, dude, put some pants on if you wanna keep talking to me. You're distracting.”

Leo looks away, making himself busy with whatever he keeps in that ragged looking backpack of his. Blaine can swear he has just seen him blush, and that's something that can keep him entertained for hours: embarrassing Leo. He's been doing that for years now.

“Am I?” He says, looking at himself with a raised eyebrow. “All my intimate parts are perfectly covered, kid. I'm not showing off for you in any manner, and if you think I'm doing that, please, remove this thought from your head, because I'm not.”

Leonard blushes even more, and whatever he is looking for in his bag seems suddenly nowhere to be found because he keeps rummaging and rummaging. “You're half naked, you're wet and that towel won't cover you for very much longer,” he declares, confusedly, giving proof of having spent the last few minutes watching him very closely. “In this house, that's for me the signal to go and sleep at one of my friends house 'cause my parents want to get some. Now, maybe you're not showing off, but I don't know if I'm talking to you or your six pack, so please, dress. Or leave, better.”

Blaine is incredibly amused, but it's hard to tell his amused smirk from his usual smug one. He looks at himself once again. “Well, my six pack wouldn't find completely bad to talk with you for a while. You never really had the chance to meet him during all those years. And now this sounds terribly dirty, but I swear I started it as a joke,” he says, blinking.

“What makes you think I would like that?” Leo says, outraged. “Dad's so right about you. There's something creepy in what you say sometimes.”

Blaine knows he's talking about Dave this time. It's pretty easy to get the change in tone. Leonard is always angry as Dave when he speaks his words. Blaine just wishes he would be sweet as Kurt when he speaks like him. He rarely does, though. “I wouldn't call myself creepy, and neither should you. It's not exactly a compliment, you know?” He says. “Didn't your dad teach you that, too?”

“Dad taught me to be honest too,” Leo grins because he can answer to the point for once.

Blaine finds him really cute when he tries to talk as cleverly as himself and fails miserably. Leonard always thinks to be right and to have the right answer to everything. Unfortunately, he almost never does. “Yes, I appreciate honesty, but there's a difference between being honest and being rude, and I think you're being rude. So maybe your dad didn't teach you very well.” Then he smiles, trying to sweeten his last words, maybe. Or maybe not. “Why don't you come here?”

Blaine pats the spot beside him on the couch. For the longest moment ever, Leo looks at him, then at the spot on the couch, then at him again. He doesn't know exactly what makes him go there, eventually. Probably the wish to show Blaine all the disdain he feels right now. He wouldn't see it in the dark, if he wasn't close enough. He goes there slowly, though, always watching him and sits on the other end of the couch. “What?” He barks.
Leonard doesn't exactly sit on the couch, he just falls on it, like his legs couldn't hold him up anymore. Blaine watches him as he curls up in a stubborn ball the farthest he can from him, crossing his arms on his chest and trying to look very mad and deadly serious. He fails again. There is something off with the kid, tonight. Blaine has noticed that since the kid has looked up at him, entering the house. The way his eyes never linger on him too much doesn't seem quite angered as it usually is. He knows Leo's rage very well, and it doesn't look like that. Plus, his knee is shaking so fast he could make a hole in the ground with his foot if he keeps moving it. It looks like someone is feeling really awkward at his naked presence.

If it's a nudity problem, and he is not sure about that.

“Don't worry, I just want to talk,” he says, with his best reassuring tone as he tries not to smile affectionately at the way Leo is looking at everything but him. “So, when did it start?”

“When did it start what?”

Blaine smiles sweetly. He has the feeling this is going to be a very long night. “When did you first notice that you like boys.”

The snicker that comes out of Leo's mouth is so ridiculously nervous and sudden that Leo closes his mouth right after it, feeling ashamed. Then he swallows and tries to chuckle in a more controlled way. “I don't like boys,” he says with half a smile.

Of course he doesn't. Who ever admits it right away the first time? “My gaydar never failed, boy,” he says with a raised eyebrow. “Plus, you're staring at me. Like, really staring.”

Leo pouts instantly and glares at him. “Maybe you should have it overhauled, then 'cause I'm not gay. I'm staring at you because you are naked.”

“Why do you insist on me being naked? I am not. I could show you what the word naked means, if you wanted, but this,” he says, calmly pointing at himself as if he wanted to talk some sense into him with logic “is not how you define naked.”

That's exactly why Leo hates him, because nothing ever phases him and, instead of getting mad, he always answers with tons of explanations nobody wanted to hear in the first place. Leo always ends up arguing on his own because Blaine doesn't even start to get as upset as he is. “Well, you're half naked then. And I'm not used to have half naked guys on my couch, OK?”

“Don't you?” Blaine smiles. Leo is so hilarious right now that he's having a hard time not just laughing in his face. “How do you find the sight, then?”

Leo averts his eyes almost immediately. “Pretty disturbing,” he says, pretending to sound disgusted while the only thing that comes through it's his mounting awkwardness.

Blaine watches him as he picks at non-existent loosened threads on the couch. Leo hasn't lost all his baby fat yet, so his face is still a little rounded and his now blushing cheeks are adorable in their puffiness, but you can already see the beauty he's bond to become in a few years. The kid has gorgeous, delicate features that would make you think he really is Kurt's own blood. His nose is a straight line and his almost almond-shaped eyes are so azure like Blaine has never seen before. But the thing that never fails to catch Blaine's attention are Leo's lips. They are full, just slightly pinker than the rest of him and when he happens to look at them, he always thinks that he really should be looking at something else.

“Now, disturbing is a word that can have a lot of different meanings,” Blaine says, moving a little closer to him. “So, since your father told you to be honest, what kind of disturbing are we talking about?”

Leo sighs heavily and what comes out of his mouth has a strange resigned tone to it. “Why are you asking me these questions?” He would like to ask Blaine what the hell he wants from him, but then he realizes that he has given nothing but rage and sarcasm to him, which he deserves anyway, so maybe this is just revenge, or something. He just needs to find a way to get away from him.

“I don't know,” Blaine shrugs. “Maybe I just want to understand if you really hate me or if you just don't want me to come too close to you, because you're scared of the consequences. It's a possibility I'm still taking into consideration, regardless of your continuous denials.”

Leo turns on the couch, so to face him. “OK, let's put this straight once and for all. I don't like you.” He tries to state this as much clearly and slowly as he can, so if the man has some hearing problems or something, he will understand anyway. “And even if I did, you're one of my dads' ex boyfriend and the other's archenemy, so...”

So the problem really is me, Blaine thinks amused. The flow of Leo's words goes on for a few minutes, describing how much he doesn't like him at all and how hypothetical scenarios where he likes him would be hilariously and stupidly so not true. It doesn't matter, Blaine has already stopped listening to him long ago, as soon as the problem was crystalline clear to him.

“OK, now it's my turn to put this straight.” He smiles and moves even closer. So close he is now inches away from Leo. So close that when he speaks again without being bothered by the fact that he's embarrassing him to no end, Leo can blush but he can't move away, unless he stands up. And he doesn't. “I think you like me. I don't know if you already found me cute when you were a kid, but now? You're eating me alive with your eyes, kid. Do you know why you keep saying I'm naked? That's because you're undressing me. In your head.”

Leo's eyes grow so big he is almost comical. He gets instantly agitated, but even if he fidgets on the spot, he doesn't go anywhere. “I'm not!” He almost screams. “What... What are you talking about? It's nothing even close to that!”

“Come on, kid, it's so obvious. Don't you even notice? You're freaking out and I haven't even touched you, yet.”

“And you won't do that!” He shrieks, outraged. But then he deflates, like he had put all the strength in denying Blaine the permission to do something he has never really intended to do, and now he had to resign to just sighing and begging him to just leave him alone. “I'm not comfortable with this.”

There's an echo of Kurt in these words. Blaine remembers very clearly how Leo's father used to say he was uncomfortable every time he had to face something he was scared to do, however curious he was to do it. He stated he was not comfortable, and the case was closed. Not that Blaine would have forced him to do anything he didn't want to, but Kurt continuously closing to him was one of the reason why he and Blaine broke up in the end.

Leo is exactly like his father. He is scared, therefore he's trying to avoid speaking of what scares him, but Blaine is not gonna let him because he doesn't want to repeat the same mistakes he made with Leo's father. “So you are asking me not to do it, not because you don't want me to, but because you're scared about it?” He inquires.

That's when something changes in Leo's eyes, as if the question had melted something inside him. Blaine knows he has hit a soft spot by the way Leo finally gives up and sighs, looking confused. “I'm asking you not to do it because I'm not exactly sure of my things.”

“What things are we talking about here? And why aren't you sure of them?” Blaine asks gently, his voice almost soothing as he comes even closer to him. They are practically touching now. “Maybe I could help.”

Leo doesn't think Blaine can help anybody, let alone him. But these feelings he's been having lately about other people torture him and mess up his head to the point that he is more than willing to talk about them with the first person who bothered to notice that something was off about him. Too bad said person is one he despises so much. But he showed some interest at least, didn't he?

“Sometimes it happens that... I can tell a male body is gorgeous,” he eventually confesses, looking down, his face as red as it can be. Now that he has said that, he doesn't feel any better about it, but at least he feels lighter. As if he has just passed his problem to somebody else by saying it aloud. It doesn't work like that, of course he knows that, but it feels good. So maybe that's why he doesn't run away. “And I'm not sure why this happens.”

Blaine smiles at him reassuringly. “That doesn't mean anything, you know? We're human beings, and it's our nature to be particularly fascinated by beauty. If you just think a male body is beautiful, that doesn't make you gay, or even bisexual. It just makes you a normal human being. On the other hand,” he raises a hand and lets a finger slide on his chest down to his stomach “if a male body has other effects on you other than making you notice how beautiful it is, than maybe there's something else.”

Leo follows his finger with his eyes and he is a little startled when Blaine gently pushes his stomach with it.
He knows what he means by that. He knows really well the tangled feeling that makes his stomach hurt sometimes. “It might have done that once or twice,” he says vaguely, turning purple.

Blaine knows how much it costs Leo to say it aloud, especially to him. He can read how troubled he is on the tense lines on his face. “And does it happen in a specific moment or with a specific person?”

“No, it just happens randomly,” he says.

And that's a lie. Sometimes, when his eyes fall on his male friends during P.E., he feels weird, and even if this upsets him, he can't really turn away from the curve of their back or the way their flat stomach dives underneath the waistband of their pants. Exactly as it happens when he's looking at girls and he's intrigued by what lies beneath their clothes. That's why he is so confused. He doesn't know which one of the feelings is real.

But all this came after.

The truth is everything started with Blaine, and Leo is very well aware of that. He may not know what drooling over both guys and girls means right know, but he knows what happens in his head every time this stupid man is around, how his stomach hurts at the sight of him. How it's not really his stomach that demands attention. And how his mind answers with rage to that upsetting and embarrassing feeling between his legs.

So now he doesn't know anything for sure. If he likes boys, girls, both. Or what in the world this man has done to his head lately. He thought that hating him would stop the confusion, but it's not working very well, it seems.

But he can't tell him any of this, though. That's why he needs to lie, because he really doesn't want to face the consequences of confessing to Blaine stupid fucking Anderson that he has felt something for him in his belly more than once.

Blaine is currently holding his breath because Leo is so beautiful in his confusion. Whatever wall there was between them, it has crumbled down, leaving him defenseless. Even though this sounds bad even in his head – and he knows it's gonna sound even worse once he will speak again – he just can't look away from the kid.

“Then you should probably try,” Blaine says. “Just to see how your body reacts.”

Leo shivers. “You are not suggesting with you, are you?”

Blaine chuckles, but he makes sure not to make it come across like mocking him. “Well, as a matter of fact, I am,” he says. “I mean, it would be alright. I promise I would never do something you don't want me to do. It would be just a test. Plus, you could even finally stop hating me afterward. So I'd really like to take the chance.”

This is not right for so many reasons, Leo is pretty sure about it. But what really worries him now are other kind of possible consequences. “What if I don't like it and hate you even more?” It shouldn't be a problem hating him more than he hates him now. But since Leo is not so sure that hate means really hate in his case, he doesn't want to risk to sort of-hating him even more. He doesn't know what could happen then.

Blaine doesn't look as worried as much as Leo is. Actually, he shrugs like this is not a big deal. “They're two different things, you know. You could still hate me but like the kiss, for example. And that would mean the experiment wasn't completely useless, because at least we would know if you like boys too, or if you don't.”

Leo makes a face. “Why exactly if I like kissing you, I like boys?”

Blaine blinks, pretending to be very puzzled and dying a bit of laughter inside. “Because I happen to be a boy, maybe?” Then he grins in that way that always manages to give Leo shivers he can't quite define as good or bad. They're just weird. “Obviously, there's another possibility, that is you liking to kiss me because you just like me. But we're not even taking this in any consideration, are we?”

Leo instantly shakes his head, looking outraged and purple. “No way. Not even the slightest chance!”

“I thought so,” Blaine nods, as he sits more comfortably, resting his back against the couch back. “Well, then, there's nothing more to discuss, am I right? Come here.”

Leo looks at him very suspiciously, but he goes there anyway. “For what?”

Blaine doesn't waste much time to explain what's gonna happen. He strongly believes that there's only so much you can explain with words. “For this,” he says, grabbing Leo by his nape and pulling him closer for a hungry and incredibly wet kiss. For a very long time, this is the only thing he says.

Leo feels Blaine's hair dripping water on his t-shirt as he's pulled closer, and the next feeling is the softness of Blaine's moistened lips. For a moment, he'd like to stop him because this is happening too quickly, but he doesn't. Instead, he kisses him back the moment after, with a soft moaning noise.

Blaine lets his fingers run through Leo's hair, caressing his scalp and pulling him slightly closer, so that their bodies touch, even though not too much because he doesn't want to frighten the kid away. Leo is so lost in it already that he just leans in. Blaine lets that same hand slide down his neck then, and starts caressing him slowly as he deepens the kiss.

Leo opens his mouth, allowing Blaine's tongue to explore it as much as it wants. And it actually feels so good that he stops trying to understand what is really happening with and around them. He rests one hand to the couch to balance himself as he gets a little closer by himself.

Encouraged by the way Leo's reacting, Blaine pulls him to his chest, deepening the kiss even more. But now that there's nothing but Leo's clothes separating them and Leo can feel Blaine's body against his own, something clicks in his head and he withdraws, suddenly.

“Wait... I...” he stutters, lips red as cherries and the most confused expression Blaine has ever seen on him. “That's enough.”

Blaine immediately stops pulling him by his nape, but he gives him one last kiss anyway. “So, how did it feel?” He asks, still so close to him that he breathes on his puffy lips.

Leo takes a moment before answering as he unconsciously wets his lips with the tip of his tongue. “Weird... that it's so good.”

Blaine smiles a little, his hand still lazily caressing Leo’s neck. “You want to do it again?” he asks, and it’s not like he’s expecting Leo to say yes, considering the kid was the first to pull away, after all, but somehow that’s exactly what he gets: Leo barely lets him finish his question, and the second after he’s literally all over him, pressing his little body against Blaine’s, and that’s an invitation Blaine is not really able to refuse.

He wraps his arms around Leo’s shoulders, keeping him close as the kiss grows a bit more forceful, a bit hungrier, a bit messier. Leo whines when Blaine’s teeth playfully close around his already swollen bottom lip, but he doesn’t pull away, and it’s up to Blaine, this time, to put a stop on things, before they get too wild, too fast.

“You sure learn fast,” he comments, an even smile curling his lips, still so very close to Leo’s, “You’re adorable,” he adds, gently stroking one of Leo’s cheeks with his index finger, and then biting at the kid’s bottom lip again, before he starts trailing its outline with the tip of his tongue, making the boy shiver with pleasure. “You know, I could make it better, if you wanted.”

Leo slowly opens his eyes, struggling to focus on him. It’s so obvious – written all over his face – that, if it was for him, he would have kept going on kissing him for the rest of his life. It kind of feels like, whatever it was that kept Leo so frustrated and angry, it’s slowly fading away, leaving him freer to do things he would have never thought he could do before. “You… You can?” he says, his voice cracking in surprised anticipation, like he wasn’t even struck by the possibility of a kiss feeling even better than how it had been up to that moment.

Blaine smiles sweetly, nodding slowly. “Yes, I can,” he says, every word a kiss on Leo’s lips, so light that the boy keeps chasing those kisses and never manages to catch them, “You just have to let me know when I have to stop because you’re not feeling comfortable anymore,” he warns him, kissing him once more and smiling when Leo lets out a frustrated moan because, once again, he didn’t manage to kiss him properly, “Promise you’ll stop me if this ever becomes unpleasant.”

“Stop running away…” Leo whines, firmly holding Blaine’s head between his hands and keeping it still to win another real kiss, taking his time to savor it before he pulls away, looking kind of lost, now. “By the way you’re saying it… I mean, am I supposed to feel uncomfortable, at some point?”

Blaine kisses him again, and then stays as close to him as he can, lips brushing against Leo’s with every word he says. “I tend to be honest,” he says, “And I can’t lie: you could, depending on how far you want to go. But,” he promises with a light smile, “I’ll do my best to make you feel good.”

Leo somehow manages to find his lost smartass self back again, and smirks against Blaine’s lips. “You forget I never trusted you, I’m not trusting you now and I certainly won’t do it from now on. But I’m curious to see how far your lies go.”

Blaine grins, his hands running down Leo’s body and closing around his hips. “Sounds like a challenge,” he says, helping Leo to lay on his back on the couch while holding the towel at his place, so it doesn’t slip away while he settles on him. Then, he starts kissing Leo again, hands running up and down his body, through his clothes, and the kid, who wasn’t expecting another kiss, moans slightly at the feeling of Blaine’s lips. He fidgets uncomfortably under the man’s body, though. He’s not used to the new position, and right now, with the torturing pressure of Blaine’s body all over his, he definitely thinks he could never get used to it.

It’s so embarrassing, for fuck’s sake. He’s so hard. They both are, and he can’t help to ask himself if he’s prepared for where this thing’s going.

He’s not sure he is, but after all he’s not sure he could ever be, even in twenty years. He figures he just has to take the chance.

“Listen…” he says, when Blaine’s lips let him free to talk, “Who decides who gets to top or bottom, exactly…?”

Blaine can’t help a laugh from slipping out of his parted lips. He’s trying not to mock the kid because he doesn’t want to have him run away with an angry mood – who knows what he could do in retaliation? After all, he put a dead snake in his bag not more than three years ago just to spite him during a family holiday Blaine had been part of – but Leo’s making it very hard to be serious, right now.

“Now, now,” he says, shaking his head, “Aren’t you running a little too fast? I never talked about getting to the real thing. Yet,” he adds with a dirty smile that sends wild shivers down Leo’s spine.

Leo frowns, blushing furiously, and Blaine stops the hell from breaking loose by kissing him deeply again. One thing he’s sure of: Leo likes kisses a lot. He instantly melts under his fingers when Blaine starts to kiss him, and so, despite having clearly offended him, with just that single kiss Blaine gets the free pass to let his hands run down Leo’s sides and then dive under his t-shirt, fingertips gently brushing his skin. “You’re hot,” he whispers on Leo’s lips, and he can almost feel Leo blushing again.

“…am I?” he asks in a low, soft, kind of surprised voice. “I mean,” he adds then, clearing his throat and looking away after he realizes how his voice sounded, “Are you even supposed to say that to another guy? I mean, even if you like him, shouldn’t you say something more…” he shrugs, “I don’t know, manly?”

Blaine laughs again, harder, trying to restrain himself but not really making it at all. “I just meant your skin is hot,” he clarifies, shaking his head. Leo blushes more violently and tilts his head, looking someplace else, to some random point behind Blaine’s shoulder. “As for how you look,” Blaine says, his smile growing a little sweeter as he lets his eyes wander on Leo’s childish and stubbornly angry expression, “I think you go far beyond every dream of a man my age.” He pulls up Leo’s shirt to take a look at him. Leo’s tummy is still a little rounded, and seems so very soft, and Blaine wants to take a bite of it so much that he feels dirty just thinking about it. “You are flawless,” he says in a whisper as he gently bends over Leo, kissing his navel and playing with his tongue in and out of it.

Leo lets out a liquid moan, arching his back enough to offer his belly to Blaine’s kisses. “That was…” he says in a heavy breath as he throws his head back after Blaine kisses his navel again, “That was so lame.”

Blaine laughs, and he’d like to answer that – asking Leo, for example, why did he blush so much, if the compliment was so lame – but he prefers to keep kissing his skin, soft and smooth, silky like a baby’s, and so his answer ends up to be his laughter alone.

“If you stopped laughing,” Leo says, annoyed, “That would be very helpful. You’re distracting me from your tongue,” he adds in a light smirk.

Blaine looks up at him, raising an eyebrow at his newly found confidence in himself. “How could I possibly laugh with a mouthful of your tummy?” he asks, running his tongue up the kid’s chest, “Would you take your shirt off for me?” he asks then, eyes half-closed as he covers Leo’s chest in casual kisses, “I could do it myself, but I want to watch you as you do it.”

“You perv…” Leo says in a mild protest, but still he crosses his arms over his chest and grabs his t-shirt by its hem to take it off. Once he gets rid of it, he lets it fall on the floor by the couch and then lies there on his back, feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed and horny as hell, basically not even knowing what to do with himself. “Like this?” he asks, just to give himself something to think about. Learning about the right way to get undressed in front of a man twenty years older than him and that he’s definitely supposed to hate sounds like a good way to pass time.

No, it’s not. Like, at all. And Leo wants to die. But then Blaine moistens his lips and looks at him like he could swallow him all at once, and then whispers “Yes. Exactly like this,” as he kisses him down his chest again, and Leo doesn’t want to die anymore, he just wants to feel this as long as possible, and when Blaine takes one of his nipples between his lips and teeth, and sucks and nibbles at it to make it oversensitive, something inside Leo’s brain just explodes, and he loses control over his whole body.

He closes his eyes shut, holding his breath in surprise. He didn’t even know that something, let alone some guy sucking at his nipples, could feel like that. Like electric shocks of pleasure making him shiver and moan uncontrollably. He doesn’t know much about male-on-male stuff, which – he admits – is a bit absurd considering he’s got two dads, but he really didn’t know that sex could feel like that, with another guy or at all. It’s scary, but surprising. And kind of addictive, he finds out when Blaine starts to stroke both his nipples with his fingertips, and he can’t help but let a shocked “omg” slip out of his lips.

Blaine suddenly raises his head, letting out an amused chuckle as he looks at Leo. "What did you just say?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.

Leo manages to open his eyes, looking at Blaine with a bit of confusion showing on his face. He has no idea why Blaine stopped, and he knows he could kill for way less than this. "What?" he murmurs, fidgeting under Blaine's now unnervingly still fingers, "I said OMG. Don't you use this kind of exclamations in your... whatever place you come from?"

Blaine laughs again, shifting over him to settle into a more comfortable position. Leo can feel the man's hardness against his own thigh, now, making his thoughts even more confused. He feels so dizzy he could swear he's about to faint. This can't be good for him, in any way. "You know," Blaine says, "I had a fair number of sexual encounters, but it doesn't matter what I did to my partners, none of them ever responded to something I did saying 'omg'." He pulls himself up to reach Leo's lips, kissing him again as he resumes playing with the kid's now hard nipples.

"Yeah, well..." Leo mutters, keeping his eyes half opened to look at Blaine's face as he kisses him, "Next time don't bed a teenage kid, if you don't wanna hear acronyms in response to what you do." Blaine laughs again, and Leo frowns, trying to fight the urge to arch his back to offer his own chest to Blaine's ministrations, "Would you stop laughing? You're really annoying."

"It's not my fault, I swear," Blaine keeps chuckling, and Leo keeps hating him, even if he's starting to get used to the sound of his laughter, "You are unbelievable. And I mean it," he says, looking right into Leo's eyes. Leo blushes, because he could get used to the sound of Blaine's voice, or his laughter's, but his eyes, he's never gonna get used to them. Whenever Blaine stares at him, he feels uncomfortable, naked, exposed. His gaze turns him inside out, and it's nothing like pleasant. It's just disturbing and annoying, and the fact that he himself keeps searching for it makes it even more so.

Blaine moves slowly, but firmly, and in a second Leo feels him rubbing against his thigh, and it's way more than just feeling the pressure of his hard-on against it, because in the movement Blaine's thigh rubs against his crotch, and it makes Leo instantly want more.

"Shit..." he moans, fidgeting slightly under Blaine's body when he feels Blaine starting to rub against him following a slow and regular pace. He hangs to the man's shoulders, trying to follow those movements and failing constantly. He'd like to tell Blaine to stop, to not do whatever he's doing right now, because it's too much, and he's still dressed, and he couldn't stand the thought of coming right away like a ridiculous, inexperienced kid, but he can't even manage to open his mouth for something else than moans and whining. And he feels so lost he's almost scared to open his eyes, fearing the world he would see then could be completely different than the one he knows.

"Calm down," Blaine whispers, kissing him slowly, "You don't want this to end up too soon, do you? I promise it'll be better, if you let it last longer."

"Yeah, well..." Leo breathes slowly, trying to think about something else than Blaine's body pushed right up against his. He ends up understanding that those urban legends about thinking of your granny to stop yourself from getting off too soon are just that, urban legends. When you've got somebody like this so close, touching you this way, there's no chance to let any other thought take their place. It's the first time he finds somebody so captivating, and it's scary, especially considering it's Blaine he's thinking about, and he should hate the man with a fire for a numerous variety of reasons he can't manage to recall right now. "It's not my fault, you know, I'm fifteen," he snorts, "It's kind of an issue teenagers have. Maybe you don't remember 'cause it happened to you in the past century."

"Hey," Blaine chuckles, "I'm not that old."

"Yeah, I'll let you know when I cut your arm and count the rings."

"Shut up!" Blaine laughs again, leaning in to kiss him. When the kiss breaks, Leo looks at the man and finds him smiling. That's scary too, because he finds himself to like that smile. "Now, say I wanted to touch you."

"Aren't you already?"

"You're not being serious at all," Blaine giggles, playfully slapping his hip to keep him in line, "I'm talking about under the Walls of Jericho," he clarifies, letting one of his hands travel down Leo's tummy to reach the button of his jeans to make his intentions even clearer.

Leo blushes violently, looking away. "The Walls of Jericho?" he mutters, his cheeks so flushed he's scared he'll start to glow in the dark soon, "Seriously?"

Blaine smiles again, catching the kid's chin between his fingers and making him turn his face enough to have his eyes on him once more. "I need an answer," he says in a low voice, "I need permission."

Leo blushes more, enough to start feeling a headache coming. He looks down at Blaine's fingers, so still around his jeans' button, like waiting for instructions. And he nods, biting at his lower lip.

"Fine," Blaine smiles again, unbuttoning Leo's jeans and pulling them down his thighs enough to expose him, but not enough to let him free to move. Leo fidgets uncomfortably, but it doesn't last long, and he freezes on the spot when he feels Blaine's fingertips trailing the outline of his own hard-on.

Stranger hands down there feel good enough for him to cry, but he can't make a show of himself, not now, not more than he's already doing, so he closes his eyes, breathes in and out and settles under Blaine's body, resting his hands on his shoulders as he tries to focus on the feeling alone, letting the context and what's causing it out of him, like it was just a dream that he could forget comes morning.

Blaine doesn't let him.

"Open your eyes," he says, his voice somehow stern, like he's scolding him, "Look at yourself. You're gorgeous."

Leo doesn't know why he obeys, but he does, guided by Blaine's voice and by how good it feels now that the man has closed his fist around him and is stroking him harder. He holds his breath, looking down at Blaine's hand moving slowly around his erection, and bites at his inner cheek, fidgeting under him. "That is..." he breathes out, ""

"It could feel even better," Blaine whispers against Leo's skin, sliding down the kid's chest and tummy in short, barely wet kisses, "But it could also be kind of embarrassing. So I guess this calls for another question," he smiles, placing a tender kiss right under the boy's navel. "Do you want me to take it in my mouth?"

Leo's whole body starts to shake uncontrollably, unable to resist all the feelings that seem to keep him under siege. The touch of Blaine's hand, the warmth of his breath on his barely sweaty skin, the intensity of his eyes locked with his own, the deep vibration of his voice, those words echoing in the air all around him and inside his brain. "I've... I've never..." he swallows, his hips almost automatically thrusting upwards to meet Blaine's strokes better, "I mean, nobody has ever... to me, y'know..." he lets out a desperate sigh melting into a restless sob, covering his face with both his hands, "Geez, can I be any more pathetic?"

"You're not pathetic at all," Blaine says, his voice even lower, nothing but a whisper, now, but still reverberating through the room, like it was made of thunder. "You are not," he repeats, his lips brushing against the head of Leo's cock, licking it tentatively, "Do you hear me?" he says, and he looks up at Leo, locking eyes with him with no shame at all as he sucks him inside his mouth, still stroking him slowly.

Leo chokes on his own breath, eyes wide open in the darkness of the room. The warmth, the wetness, the sucking, it's all too much, and when he thinks his heart's going to fail him, Blaine stops, and still looking at him whispers a "you taste so good" that pushes a whole new series of buttons inside Leo's body, buttons he didn't even thought he had.

"Shit!" he squeals, pushing his hips up carelessly, eager to dive deeper inside Blaine's mouth, unable to stay still. Blaine lets him, stroking his hips with both his hands and moving his head up and down, following Leo's movements.

He pulls away a few seconds later, licking pre-cum away from his own lips. "Now you can choose again," he says slowly, articulating his words, "I could go on like this and make you come," he suggests, kissing the head of Leo's cock, still wet and almost hurting now that the kid's so hard he can barely stand it, "Or I could show you how grown-ups like to come," he smirks, sucking him into his mouth again.

"God..." Leo whines, throwing his head back on the couch, "Just do something, I'm going crazy."

Blaine chuckles, his lips sliding slowly up and down Leo's length. "I recognize I'm acting a little teasingly," he says, "But that's not something I can decide on my own. I need your permission. Even though, I can't lie, I want you. I really want to feel you all around me," he moves up, kissing Leo on his tummy and then staying there, drawing wet, curly lines on his skin with the tip of his tongue as he can't help letting a dirty grin crawl its way up to his lips, "I would really like to fuck you."

Leo lets out a desperate, breathless moan, hesitating before he answers. There's a part of him that wants this so much he's sure he'll regret it forever if he doesn't find the guts to say yes. Another part, though, is so terrified he could just as well jump up and run away crying. " it gonna be devastating like it seems it will?" he asks, whining, "Maybe I'm not drunk enough."

"You don't look drunk at all," Blaine notices with a small chuckle.

"Exactly," Leo answers, covering his face with his forearm.

Blaine smiles tenderly, climbing up his body in little dry kisses as he keeps stroking him gently. "I promise it'll be worth it," he whispers in his ear, just before sucking at the soft, sensitive skin right under his earlobe, "You'll come harder than you ever did."

Leo breathes out, terrified now, because that's a yes. Yes, it's gonna be just as devastating as it looks like. Probably even more. There's something blooming inside himself, Leo can feel it. Some sort of warm wave mounting deep inside of his body, something drawing him ruthlessly towards Blaine. Something bad, something Leo can see casting a long shadow he can't see the end of. He can't decide if it's just lust or something else. He knows he can't escape it now, not because it's been running after him and it almost reached him anyway, but because, on the contrary, he feels like he himself has been running after it for years now, and he can't wait to hold it in his hands, see what is it, if it's scary as it feels it could be, if it will burn his skin like the touch of Blaine's hands is doing right now.

"Is it normal that I want you to do it anyway?" he asks, his eyes closed as he tilts his head to make room for Blaine's lips running up and down his neck, "I mean, even if I know it's gonna hurt, and even if I'm scared... is it normal if I still want you to do me this way?"

"Totally," Blaine answers, laughing a little. Leo hates him now more than ever, because Blaine doesn't know. Blaine doesn't get it. How hard it is to even speak in his presence, how much strength Leo's needing right now just to keep himself together under the even touch of his fingertips, how frustrating always was for him to just stand right in front of Blaine and fight not to fall, fueling his rage against him with all the flaws Blaine kept throwing at him, exposing them as if he was proud of them. And it was never enough, never enough to move his eyes away from him, not really, because even in the worst days, when he just wanted him gone and as far away from him as it was possible, it was only to stop facing the fact that his body was aching for it. For this. And Blaine, he just stays there, and it's a game, for him, just something new he's playing with, and he keeps laughing like what's happening is no big deal, and Leo keeps thinking "fine, then, it's not gonna be a big deal for me either", but when Blaine's lips touch his in another kiss that quickly grows deeper and hungrier, it's impossible to keep thinking straight. It's impossible to push away the deep, instinctual knowledge of the truth his body's telling, when all he can hear is his own heartbeat roaring in his ears.

"I missed the taste," Blaine says, almost talking to himself, smiling kind of stupidly as he takes his time to play with Leo's lips, tracing their outlines with the tip of his tongue and indulging in a couple of little bites that instantly make them swollen, cherry red and incredibly sensitive.

"So..." Leo says, letting Blaine kiss him, just opening his lips to let Blaine's tongue in, "What about my first question?"

Blaine laughs again, tightening his grip around Leo's cock and stroking him harder. "That's not something you decide preemptively. You mainly go with the flow, with the inspiration of the moment. Did you know," he says, opening his eyes wide as if he was telling something completely new and uncommon, even if Leo knows he's only using this tone because he wants to mock him, "Did you know you can actually switch roles, if your partner is open-minded enough and doesn't believe homosexuals should be divided in two categories, one of which stands for the male role while the other stands for the female?"

Leo looks away, his lips curling in a pensive expression, and just by looking at that Blaine can tell that right now the kid's thinking about his own parents and the way what Blaine just described simply doesn't apply to them. "Oh, God," he chuckles, "I can read it in your eyes. Please. Just don't," he says, kissing Leo deeply again to switch the subject of his musing. Leo whines between his lips, clearly unhappy with the way he probably feels Blaine's patronizing him, but the man just ignores him and, when he parts from his lips, he's already smiling. "Let's say I'll top, for this time," he suggests, "Just because I'm actually dying to be inside of you," he adds, leaning in to kiss the kid lightly on his lips. "How about it?"

Leo blushes, embarrassed by his words, and glares at him. "You say this time like there's ever gonna be a second," he snorts, but then he sighs and nods. "Go ahead," he says, "I wouldn't know where to start anyway."

"I was saying it just in case, you know," Blaine laughs, "You seem to enjoy it."

He pulls away, standing on his knees and slowly freeing himself from the towel. The light of the moon, coming inside from the window, makes his lightly sweaty skin almost glow in the darkness of the room. And even though it's dark, and even though Leo's upset because he can't help liking Blaine despite how unpleasant he finds him as a person, he can't help but swallow whatever snarky remark he had conjured from the last rational bit of himself, and stop to stare at him. His eyes travel quickly down the man's body, falling rapidly on his cock, so big and hard to scare him.

"Now I know for sure I won't survive this night," he says in an even, frightened, shaking breath, as he tries to swallow once more and finds out his throat's completely closed.

"Why do you say so?" Blaine smiles softly, bending over the kid and rubbing against him, keeping himself up on his arms, the tense line of which Leo follows with lost eyes, moistening his lips.

"'Cause..." he starts off, quickly losing control over his own body as he feels his own cock answer to Blaine's rubbing, "'Cause clearly you're gonna break something, possibly in half. I don't know. It's in no way possible."

"I am in no way this big, kid," Blaine kisses him slowly, lightly hitting his knees with one of his own to ask him to part his legs. "Would you make some room for me?"

"You seem so, to me," Leo answers, opening his legs anyway.

"I'm going to take this as a compliment," Blaine says, laughing a little, "But you don't have to be scared. It will hurt just for a moment. And it's part of the game," he adds, speaking softly over the sensitive skin right under Leo's ear, "There's a life lesson in it too. Nothing really good can be earned without having to suffer for it a little bit before," he whispers, licking one of his own fingers and pushing the tip of it gently against Leo's opening.

Leo tenses nervously, closing his knees in a sudden reaction to the weird, surprising feeling of that slick finger against a place he never thought could be touched that way.

"Hey," Blaine speaks softly, kissing him on the tip of his nose, " probably don't like cuddles, do you?" he stops right after, just while Leo's body had started to tense all towards his to get some more of said cuddles, "Just try to relax," he tries, as Leo falls back down on the couch deciding that, as much of a cuddles-whore he can be, he's never gonna ask for it. Not to Blaine, anyway. "It'll feel good soon, I promise," Blaine goes on, "I know how to make it feel good."

He pushes half of his finger inside of Leo's body, moving it slowly in circles. Leo makes a face and tries to relax, holding onto Blaine's shoulders. "It's not as bad as I thought," he says, "It just feels... uncomfortable."

"Yes," Blaine chuckles, "That's why people usually don't sit on fingers." Leo glares at him and Blaine laughs again, shaking his head. "Alright, sorry, I won't try and make jokes anymore."

"You better. Your jokes are lame."

"Do you want me to stop?" Blaine asks suddenly, leaning in to kiss him. It's an open, wet kiss that moves along with his finger pushing a little bit deeper, touching some spot inside of him that makes him shiver in something that, even if it's not pleasure already, certainly reminds it greatly.

"Don't you dare, not now that it started to feel good," Leo answers to his question and to the kiss, his hips moving down to meet Blaine's finger, "Keep doing... whatever you're doing. You're..." he breathes out, letting a little moan go with it, "I don't know, it feels different, now."

Blaine kisses him hard again, his hips moving against Leo's thigh with a will of their own. "Then I'm going with another one," he says, "Be strong, kid."

Leo bites at his lips, trying to relax and to distract himself concentrating on how fucking pleasure it feels to have Blaine this close to him, to feel him hard against his body, even to know he's gonna be inside of him in a few minutes.

"Don't bite too hard," Blaine says, kissing the offended lip sweetly, sucking it inside his mouth and biting it gently, as if to show Leo how it's done, "You're too beautiful to ruin yourself like this," he adds, twitching his fingers inside the kid's body, drawing a surprised scream out of his lips.

Leo tries to cover his mouth, hoping his parents didn't hear them. "What did you just do?!" he asks, trying to recover from how breathless that sudden shock of pleasure he felt left him.

Despite how amused he is, Blaine tries not to laugh, so to not upset Leo again. "That's the part in which you admit I was right, and it was worth it," he says.

"Oh, dream, Warbler," Leo answers, frowning, "I didn't say it was good. I just asked what-- shit," Leo almost screams again, parting his legs and pushing his hips down on Blaine's fingers again when he feels the man twitch them inside his body once more, searching for the same reaction from before.

Blaine celebrates his victory with a self-satisfied grin. "You’re not calling me warbler during sex, kid," he says, pulling and pushing his fingers in and out of Leo's body.

"Is my name allowed just until sunset or something?" Leo snorts, annoyed with how easily Blaine let that nickname - kid, he's always been kid for him, since he was six - slip into what they're doing now. Just what Leo needed, some innocent, everyday word to become triggering for such a thing like sex.

Blaine smiles, kissing his pout away and smiling once more when Leo lets out the umpteenth needy moan, answering to the pressure of his fingers inside him. His smile growing wider, he leans in to whisper in Leo's ear, "Think about how much better it's going to be when I'm doing that with my cock, instead of my fingers."

"Shit," Leo breathes out, moaning shamelessly, "Don't... talk like that. I'm not used to this, it's weird."

"Oh, but what about all the other things I'd like to tell you now?" Blaine keeps going, smirking as he kisses his way down Leo's neck, "Like that I want to fuck you until you beg me to stop. Or that you're so fucking beautiful you almost make me want to come by just looking at you. Or how I like the way your cock twitches and hardens for my fingers inside of you."

"God..." Leo starts moving up and down, following Blaine's fingers and rubbing himself against the man's thigh, clearly losing himself to those words. He's never had somebody talking to him like this and somehow he had always thought he'd be squeaked out by dirty talking. Now, he doesn't understand if he likes it, or if it's just Blaine's voice that's making it work. "You won't stop, will you? How many more fingers do we need?" he asks, eagerness growing quickly in his belly.

"I think we're done with the fingers," Blaine whispers on his lips before kissing him hard, "Now on to the real thing."

Blaine settles himself better between Leo's thighs, while the kid looks down, trying to watch closely what's about to happen, secretly hoping that if he manages to keep his eyes fixed on it, it's not gonna hurt. He feels him pushing tentatively against his opening, and then entering for just a couple of inches.

"God..." Blaine says, trying his best not to move too quickly, despite how tempting the warmth of Leo's body feels, "I'm not stopping for anything in the world, kid."

Leo grimaces, biting at his own lip to try and bear the uncomfortableness. "Maybe... maybe you should've kept going with the fingers..." he breathes out, hiding his face in Blaine's neck, "Gosh, it feels even bigger than it looks."

Blaine laughs breathlessly, moving in for a couple of inches more as he wraps his fingers around Leo's cock to start stroking him. "You know, flattering's not going to get you anywhere," he says, letting out another chuckle when Leo sticks out his tongue at him. "You're unbelievable tight," he adds then, closing his eyes as he thrusts once more, finally managing to push himself entirely into the kid's body, "I am literally in love with you."

"Oh, you love me because I'm tight," Leo answers in an annoyed snort, "That's so sweet. How come you're single, with all this romance pouring out of you?"

"You really are gorgeous," Blaine laughs again, "And funny. I can't believe you are still single," he adds, resting still inside of Leo's body, to help him getting used to the new, cumbersome presence.

"Maybe I'm not and you're fucking a taken man, what about it?" Leo mocks him, and then he moans again, grimacing at the same time, fidgeting restlessly under Blaine's body to find a more comfortable position, "It's better if you move," he says in a troubled whisper, "I feel... insanely full, if you just stay still."

"And doesn't it make it more exciting?" Blaine asks, a dirty smile curling his lips as he slowly starts to rock back and forth, still stroking Leo's cock to the rhythm of his own thrusts.

"From now on," Leo says, grabbing Blaine by his shoulders and pulling him down, "You do stuff, I tell you if it's exciting. I'm the one with your cock up his ass, I've got privileges," he decides, pulling Blaine in for a kiss.

Blaine chuckles between Leo's lips, pushing a little harder inside of him. "You really are something," he says, "But you've got a point. What about this, then?" he asks, lifting himself up just a little but holding Leo's hips still to change the angle of his thrusts, getting way closer to hit with his cock that same spot he already hit repeatedly with his fingers before.

"Yes!" Leo breathes out, arching backwards in a desperate attempt to follow his body's imperative to suck Blaine in as much as he can, "You did it again..."

"I can do better," Blaine whispers, thrusting more forcefully now that Leo got used to his presence inside his body. He pushes so deep inside him that the tightness and the wet warmth start to feel overwhelming, and for a moment Blaine just forgets what he's doing and where he is, and all he can understand is how deliciously trapped inside Leo's body he feels. "Fuck," he whispers, "You're just... fuck."

"Oh, shit," Leo holds onto Blaine's shoulders, hanging to him, "God, keep doing this," he begs, searching for his lips almost desperately, his hips moving at the pace Blaine's setting with his steady, quick thrusts.

"Keep your voice down, kid," Blaine says, though he's finding hard to follow his own advice and keeps moaning loudly, squeezing Leo's cock inside his fist and stroking him hard while he pushes even deeper, "God, you're just unreal. I didn't even know something like this could be possible, I don't want to come out of you ever again."

Barely opening his eyes to watch Blaine's features and the lines of his body as he moves in the dark, Leo smiles, lost in what they're sharing. "I don't know," he says, his voice so sweet he'd be embarrassed with himself if he only could hear it from the outside, "It's just crazy that I'm doing this with you."

"Does it really sound so crazy?" Blaine says, thrusting harder inside Leo, using the armrest to point his feet against it and push deeper, "Am I not good enough for you?"

And that's when Leo would like to let himself free to speak, because right now he probably could. He could manage to gather all his courage together and just tell him that yes, he's good enough, he's too good, probably, that he can't recall a single moment of his whole life since he actually started to understand what being attracted to somebody means, that he hasn't thought about being taken like this, from him.

But he just can't say that, that'd be too much, that'd be embarrassing and stupid and he's Blaine, of course it's just a game for him, of course he's just another fuck, of course he's gonna disappear in a couple of days again as he always does. There's no reason to say anything. He'll be gone in the blink of an eye and what they're doing right now won't matter anymore, by then.

So he avoids the question, keeping Blaine in as much as he can, letting him barely free to move to put off the moment he'll pull out as long as he can. "I... I don't think I'm gonna last much longer," he says, biting at his lower lip when he feels himself tensing all around Blaine's cock, a warm wave of pleasure mounting in his underbelly.

"Then come," Blaine whispers in his ear, "Come for me," his lips curling in a tender smile, "I want to feel how much you liked it, I want to know you'll want me again, inside of you, just like that."

Blaine's words push some button inside him, something that hasn't got to do with pleasure alone, something deeper, and Leo tenses for the last time, arching beautifully on the couch and coming with a suffocated moan, as Blaine sucks the tender skin of his neck, thrusting inside of him a couple of times more and then coming hard inside him.

That's when Leo first notices. And Blaine does too, opening his eyes when he falls down, resting himself on top of Leo's body.

They didn't even use a condom. And, wrong as it is, the moment Blaine came with no barrier whatsoever between them, something lit inside of them both, some mysterious spark that, instead of fading away when the sex was over, is still tingling even now that the air starts to feel suddenly colder on their bare, sweaty skin, and the silence starts to grow awkward in the perfect calmness of the night.

Blaine lifts his head and they lock eyes. Leo holds his breath, knowing that this is the moment. He doesn't know what this moment will bring, but whatever it is, this is the moment it's decided.

Then Blaine leans in and kisses him softly on his lips, one, two, a hundred times, and Leo plays along, settling comfortably in his warm embrace. He's still moving lazily inside of him, every now and then, and even if Leo's oversensitive and starting to feel a bit of pain again this is the most pleasant feeling he ever felt in his life.

"Are you cuddling me?" he asks, a tired, almost already sleepy smile blossoming on his cherry red and puffy lips.

"Just a bit," Blaine answers, smiling against Leo's lips after another sweet kiss, "I'm finding kind of hard to, you know... let you go, at the moment." Then he opens his eyes, as if he just realized that Leo's a teenager, after all, so there's every chance he just finds cuddles stupid and annoying. "Don't you like it?"

"Mmh, maybe," Leo answers with an enigmatic smile, "But, you know..." he adds, his cheeks turning red with embarrassment, "I'll have to stand up, eventually. I mean, I can't sleep here."

"I know," Blaine nods, "But it's early. You don't have to run right away-- unless you want to, of course."

"It's just..." Leo looks away, nervously scratching his cheek, "My dads are gonna kill me, if they find out."

The thoughts of Kurt and Karofsky still asleep in the first floor bedroom crosses Blaine's mind for the first time in what feels like hours. He knows that, as much as they could be angry at Leo too, if they found out, they'd never hurt him or kick him out or anything like that. On the contrary, nothing would save him from their righteous and terrifying wrath. "We don't have to tell them, you know?" he sighs, "This could just stay between us."

"As if I ever thought about telling them," Leo blinks a couple of times, looking at Blaine as if he said the most obvious thing ever said by somebody since humanity moved its first steps on the planet.

"And, if it ever comes out, somehow," Blaine goes on, "You're not going to tell them I, like, forced you to do something you didn't want to do, are you? Because that, you see, would be very bad. And if you want to ruin me, there are less cruel ways."

Leo lets out an amused chuckle, arching an eyebrow at him. "Are you by any chance scared to death I could tell everyone you raped me?"

"With kids like you, one never knows," Blaine grins, and then kisses him on the tip of his nose. "Hold your breath, kid," he suggests as he pulls away, his now soft cock finally slipping out of the kid's body.

"Ouch!" Leo blurts out, making a face, "It's even worse when you pull out... wait, what did you mean with that? How many kids like me did you do, exactly?"

Blaine laughs, rolling on his side and resting his head on the palm of his hand, "What's that, jealousy?"

"It's not jealousy," Leo pouts, crossing his arms over his chest, "I just want to know if you're a serial underager or something."

Blaine laughs again, shaking his head. "I actually am not. I've had a couple of things with kids your age, but then I was their age too when it happened, so I guess that doesn't count. You're my first," his smile softens, as well as his eyes, "As I'm yours."

Leo blushes violently, looking away as he searches for something to say to change the subject immediately. "So... I guess it's safe to say that I'm at least bi."

"See?" Blaine chuckles, nodding, "I told you it would be a useful experience, however it went," he says, leaning in to randomly kiss the kid on his cheek.

"Yeah," Leo nods, giggling, "Grandpa's gonna freak out. You know, he always thought a kid wasn't a good idea for my dads. He loves me, of course, he's just old fashioned. So he was okay with them being gay, but a kid... he had issues. And then it turns out I'm half gay too! He's gonna say it's my dads' fault, for sure," he giggles again, as if the thought of telling his whole family, possibly during Thanksgiving or some other festivity that could be easily ruined by this confession, was the most amusing thing he ever thought about in his life.

"Let's write a note and then print a hundred posters to glue to every single door of this house," Blaine nods, "Hello, family. I accidentally found out I'm bisexual. Thanks you for your cooperation in letting me found an half-naked man on the couch right when I needed it."

"No, you idiot!" Leo laughs, slapping him on his shoulder, "But eventually, I'm gonna tell them. I always end up telling everything, anyway, so... but don't worry," he adds when he notices Blaine's eyes growing bigger and worried, "You're the only exception, I won't tell about you."

"Thanks," Blaine chuckles, and then stops to look at him for a couple of seconds. Leo can see there's a question lingering on his parted lips, and he's curious to hear it, but at the same time he'd happily kiss him right now to not let him even try and ask it. He doesn't, anyway, and eventually Blaine speaks. "Can I be the exception again," he asks, "Sometime soon?"

"...I don't know," Leo answers, looking away. They both know Blaine shouldn't have asked, and at the same time they're both glad he did. "Maybe," he tries and joke about it, "I have to think about it, you're still the man who tried to drag me out of a bush after I saw you make out with my father on his wedding day, you know?"

"I wasn't making out with your father, you stubborn kid!" Blaine laughs, "That was just a goodbye kiss," he says, leaning in to kiss Leo deeply and slowly, so passionately Leo's happy he's still lying down, or else he would have needed something to hang onto not to fall. " this will be," Blaine adds, "If you decide you don't want to try this ever again."

Leo slowly bats his eyelashes, trying to focus again and having a hard time doing it. "If this is the kind of kiss you gave him, then I totally hate you."

Blaine smiles against his lips, brushing the tip of his nose against the kid's. "Did anybody ever tell you you're kind of addictive?"

"Here you go, changing subject," Leo chuckles, snuggling closer, "You really are shameless, aren't you?"

"I'd say I'm good with words," Blaine laughs, "That sounds better. But, seriously," he looks at him again, "I'm going to be in New York by tomorrow evening, and after the audition I'm probably just going to go home. So... if you want to see me again, you'll have to be the one that makes the first step."

"The man asked to the fifteen years old kid who wasn't even allowed to get his driver's license," Leo answers, casting him a disapproving glare, "Let's just say that if you see me in Westerville or wherever you warblers live, then it means that I probably run away from home or I decided to be with you... at least to use you, 'cause I will be homeless and penniless and it'll be basically be all your fault, so you'll have to take responsibility."

Blaine laughs again and then sighs, looking at him with that sort of tenderness Leo's quickly growing fond of. "How am I supposed to leave your smart ass here all alone?" he asks, and then shakes his head, as if to clear it from dangerous thoughts, "Now, give me a goodbye kiss like you think a goodbye kiss should be, and then run to bed. Your bed."

Leo bites at his lower lip, looking at Blaine in silence for a long moment. Then he kisses Blaine deeply, slowly, savoring the taste of his lips. And deep inside he knows this whole thing's being too unnecessarily romantic not to hurt someway when it'll be over. But he can't bring himself to mind. Not right now.

Blaine keeps his eyes closed, dwelling on the strong emotion coming from the kiss. He answers with the same intensity, actually surprised by how quickly their level of intimacy escalated in just one night, and parting from Leo only a few moments later, their wet lips producing a soft smacking sound as they unlock. "...that was breathtaking," he admits, resting his forehead against Leo's.

"I..." Leo says, suddenly trying to pull away from Blaine's hug. For a moment, that was just too much to bear. It was unexpected and awkward and Leo just wants to go. "I have to go, now," he stands up, gathering his clothes from the floor and covering himself with them.

Blaine pulls away from him, alarmed by his sudden agitation. "Yes, sure," he nods, trying to look as calm as he possibly can.

"So... that's it, then," Leo says, hugging his clothes to his chest, "Um, goodnight, I guess."

Blaine nods slowly, trying to smile to reassure him. "Goodnight."

Leo nods and turns around, moving a couple of steps in the dark. In the deep silence of the house, his feet make the most unnerving sound tapping against the cold tiles of the floor. He suddenly turns back to face Blaine, finding him still sitting on the couch like he left him, with his eyes on him. "Listen," he starts off, "About what you said while we were... doing it... I mean..."

Blaine clears his throat and then smiles again, this time almost embarrassedly. "We were having sex, kid," he says, "You say a lot of things when you're having sex, but they're just... things. Don't worry, I won't make a big deal out of this."

Leo lowers his eyes and mutters something unintelligible as he turns around again and runs upstairs.

Because that's exactly the problem, he thinks, hiding in his room and throwing away all his clothes as he crawls in his bed, hugging himself under the sheets. It already is a big deal, and he can't help thinking that try and not make one out of it is only going to make it worse.

to be continued

Please note that the title of this chapter, as well as all the other titles for future chapters, is used in a metaphorical way, using psychiatic terminology only to set the mood and the main topic of the chapter and not in any way to indicate mental illnesses or anything similar. At least for now.

Genere: Adventure, Romance.
Pairing: Blaine/Kurt, Dave/Kurt, Blaine/Dave, Blaine/Dave/Kurt, Brittany/Santana, Jesse/Rachel, Lauren/Puck.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: AU, Slash, Threesome, Lemon, OC.
- Since Queen Sue ascended to the throne of the Iron Lands, the war against the pirates of the Floating Lands (a war for territory possession that's been going on for a little less than a century, now) got worse and worse with every year. The pirates claim the Midlands as their own, but the Steam Army of the Queen conquered them, and they're not going to let the pirates take them back again, since more than half of the iron for the Capital and all the other cities of the empire comes from the Midlands' mines.
History seems about to change, though, when Burt Hummel, a scientist living in the Midlands, works out a device that transmutes common dirt into iron. That way, it shouldn't be necessary to fight for the Midlands anymore, and the war could finally stop. Queen Sue asks the scientist to bring the device to the Iron Palace, so that she can see it at work and, once it's proven working, stop the fighting. Burt, though, would be an easy target for anybody who wanted to steal the device, considering that he's very well known for having worked for the Queen for years.
For that reason, he sends his only child Kurt to the Iron Palace with the device, hoping that it could be safer with somebody who's not as well known as he is. Kurt accepts the mission and departs on his fiancée Blaine's train. He's one of the heads of the Steam Army, and his battletrain survived countless fights.
That's why Kurt feels safe.
Unfortunately, he's wrong.
Note: Threesomes are always good things, everybody knows that. But we wanted to kick it up a notch, so we started talking about pirates. And battletrains. On tracks up in the air. With alchemy. You can't get any cooler than that. Except for dinosaurs. We'll be working on that next time.
With that said, we really, really had fun writing this, creating this world from scratches and having it masterfully drawn by kironomi who not only got exactly what we had in mind but delivered it in the best way possible. You will find her beautiful drawings inside the story, enhancing some part of it.
As usual, we tried to write as well as we could, but nothing changed from our last fic and we're still Italian. So, even though we hope we're getting better and better with every fic we write in English, grammar mistakes and horrors are bound to be there. Have patience. ~ reviews will be cherished, criticisms are welcomed, but please be gentle.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.


The war predated everything Kurt knew, as well as the whole actual living population of the continent. There wasn’t a single alive person that was born before the conflict had started. After a hundred years of war, whoever was born before it was already dead, and in the meanwhile a lot of people were born while it was happening, and died before they could see its ending.

Kurt, for example, had lived his whole life, up to his seventeenth year of age, firmly believing the war would never stop. It would have gone on and on until the end of the world – or, alternatively, until the end of available soldiers.

If you asked history professors and learned people about the beginning of the war and its reasons, they always knew how to answer in details. They seemed to take delight in keeping you there as they went on and on for hours about this or that king of the Iron Lands and this or that pirate captain from the Floating Lands, the conflicts they had, the battles they fought, the tactics they went by.

If you asked normal people, though, those who lived in the country or in the iron cities, those who worked in the caves in the Midlands, they only knew the basics. Some of them didn’t even knew that. They knew a war had started way before they were born, they knew that war was all about conquering the Midlands and their mines and keeping them in control, they knew it had probably started when the Iron Lands first stepped into the Midlands claiming them as theirs despite them being considered neutral territories since the beginning of time, but that was all. They didn’t knew about people fighting on the front line, they didn’t knew about generals and commanders that were nothing but strangers’ names to them, they didn’t knew about all the money the war cost to the Iron Lands, or the multitude of lives it took.

They wanted the war over, but they didn’t care about what it really was, what it meant to the Iron Lands. Some of them even sided with the pirates, believing – Gods only knew why – that they were saviours, that they wanted to free them all from the Queen’s unfair treatment.

In Kurt’s opinion, they were fools. From where did they think the iron used to forge their tools, their utensils, even their money and the posts used to build their own homes came? Of course it came from the mines in the Midlands. The Iron Lands covered a huge territory through the whole continent, while the Floating Lands were nothing but a few little islands roaming around in the sky, always changing place with every month. They hosted not more than a hundred thousand people while the Iron Lands were home to billions. The pirates ruling the Floating Lands could have easily settled to buy a small portion of the iron the miner extracted from the caves in the Midlands, but no, they wanted the whole Midlands to be theirs, despite the little use they had for them, and still people really believed the war was some Iron Lands’ King’s fault.

Sure, Kurt hated war too. He hated waking up in the morning knowing people were going to die, he hated that there was a very little he or anybody else could do to save them or make the massacre stop, but he knew somebody had to fight that war, somebody had to kill and be killed to defend the Midlands and the Iron Lands’ wealth from the pirates’ invasion, and he wanted the war over, of course, but he wanted the Iron Lands to win it. Surely, he didn’t want some uncivilized pirates from the Floating Lands to sit on the iron throne and rule the whole land by his immoral and barbaric rules.

People didn’t know how pirates truly were. Kurt wasn’t exactly learned – he was the son of an alchemist, after all, he knew almost anything about basic alchemy processes, but he wasn’t really acquainted about history or sociology – but he had read some books about them, he knew how they lived by. They almost never left their battleships, they were known not to take any prisoners, and whenever they caught someone from the Iron Lands they always tortured them to death, even soldiers who clearly knew nothing about the Steam Army strategy, in an attempt to make them reveal Gods only knew which kind of secrets they thought they could use to their advantage on the battleground.

Pirates were cruel, ignorant brutes, and they only wanted the Midlands so that they could use the iron from the caves to enlarge their fleet and finally take a move against the Iron Lands, to conquer them, slaughter all the people who adverse them and enslave the others, and those who thought pirates were fighting this war to free the people of the Iron Lands from some kind of cruel and vicious queen, clearly knew nothing about anything at all.

“Kurt?” Burt said, waving a hand in front of his eyes to try and bring him back on earth from the stream of thoughts that had clearly brought him to some place else, “Are you listening to me?”

“Yes, dad,” he answered, turning to look at him with a little smile, “But you already told me everything a dozen times in the last three days. I think I know, now.”

“No, you don’t!” Burt insisted, placing both his big, calloused hands on his son’s shoulders, shaking him a little back and forth, “The mission you’re going to go on is a very difficult, very important, very dangerous one. We can’t risk for you to get caught, you will bring the philosopher’s stone to the Queen, and—”

“I know, dad, I know. If it can convince the Queen that the stone alone could provide the iron to sustain the whole land, the war will be over.”

His father had lazily searched for the philosopher’s stone for his whole life, just like every other man who considered himself an alchemist had done and still did since the beginning of the world. It wasn’t until he had found concrete evidence of his existence and utility that he told the Queen about it.

The stone had been working and improving non stop for the last eleven or twelve month, since Kurt’s dad and the Queen had last spoken about it, and Kurt had seen it at work a thousand times at least: it never transmuted into iron more than just a stone or something. And even then, the quantity of iron resulting somehow never managed to compare to the quantity of stone or dirt or even wood used at the beginning of the transmutation process.

Kurt had serious doubts that something like that could ever solve the Iron Lands’ problems to the point that the war would be useless, but his dad firmly believed that was what was going to happen, and after the countless years the old alchemist had spent working on that project he wouldn’t want to be the one to tell him “dad, no, this is clearly not going to work”.

“Exactly,” Burt said, nodding quickly. “You have to be brave and careful, son.”

“And you know I won’t,” Kurt chuckled, freeing himself from his father’s grasp, “That’s why you’re handing me over to Blaine, so he will be for both of us.”

Burt didn’t seem to find his son’s joke any funny, and frowned sternly as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Kurt, do I have to remind you about the crucial importance of this whole operation? How many lives we could save, how many battles we could spare the army with just one stone?”

“I swear, dad, if you remind me about it one more time, I’ll puke,” Kurt answered with a bright smile, “Dad, really, I know. And I understand. And I trust Blaine and his battletrain,” Kurt added, turning a bit to lovingly glance at his fiancée, waiting for him near the train, already ready to depart, “And so should you. He’s not a commander of the Steam Army for nothing.”

Burt sighed, passing a hand over his face. “Yes, and I do,” he admitted, gesturing towards Blaine to invite him to come closer. “Blaine, I entrust my son to you. Take good care of him and the valuable load he carries.”

“I will, mister Hummel,” Blaine said, smiling confidently at him. They shook hands, Kurt already by his fiancée’s side, an arm wrapped around his. Blaine turned towards him and smiled. “Now, shall we go?”


Blaine was a war hero whose name was known through the whole land. If there was one member of the Steam Army, only one, that commoners would have saved from the fury of the pirates’ fleets, that was him. He was a decorated soldier who had proven his value fighting bravery on the front line before he was awarded with the grade of commander, and he had the responsibility of the Warbler, the first, the biggest and the strongest among all the battletrains of the Steam Army.

At his command, the Warbler had won countless fights, shooting down dozens of pirate ships, and the soldiers he now commanded had captured hundreds of pirates that were now safely held prisoners into the Capital’s prisons, where they couldn’t hurt anybody anymore.

He was a well respected commander, a man about whom people could do nothing but talk with deference and admiration.

Yet, he clearly had no clue of what it meant to be a boyfriend. Three days had passed since they had left Lima, headed to the Capital, and Kurt had only seen him a couple of times tops. He had passed his days caged in a carriage equipped with all the comforts he might need, except of course for the strong arms of his boyfriend firmly wrapped around his body.

Blaine and Kurt didn’t exactly have a very close relationship, but that was only because they couldn’t see each other as often as they would have liked to. When they actually managed to finally spend some time together, they were always very close, and Kurt was hoping that this trip would have brought a lot more moments of intimacy between them, but it turned out that Blaine could barely leave the cabin, and in any way he preferred to have Kurt always locked up in his private cab, so to keep him safe and controlled day and night.

Kurt hated it. He was bored, tired, and missed his boyfriend. And he wanted to see the cabin, he had asked Blaine countless time to let him go there and watch him as he drove the train, but Blaine insisted it was safer to keep him in his room, and never let him out, and if he had to watch those same four walls for another instant Kurt was sure he would have gone crazy.

He couldn’t believe he had been so excited for this trip. What an adventure it will be!, he had thought while planning the departure; he couldn’t wait to be on that train, to pass through the Midlands with all their little villages, to see the high mountains on the horizon shelter the sun as it was setting while the rail led them straight to the Capital. And he couldn’t wait to see the Capital itself, with all his iron palaces, and the Queen, of course, oh, how he couldn’t wait to finally meet the Queen. He had always dreamed to just have a little taste of the adventures Blaine lived in his everyday life, and he couldn’t even look at himself, now, trapped in a stupid wagon with a stupid stone in a stupid box and nothing but the desert all around because Blaine thought it would be safer not to take the way through the Midlands.

He was sick of it all, and he was about to grab the phone hanging on the wall, the one Blaine used to communicate with him from the cabin without even having to move, to call him with the specific intent of fighting, when he heard a soft knocking on the door.

Finally! Something happening! Kurt could barely believe it, the knocking had been so soft it could have just as easily be nothing but his mind playing tricks on him. “Who is it?” he asked, standing up from the armchair he had been half-sleeping in boredom since he had woken up that morning.

“Private soldier Melchior Gabor, sir, serial number 114220316. I ask permission to come in, sir.”

Kurt chuckled lightly, covering his mouth with one hand as he tried to muffle the sound so the soldier wouldn’t hear it. He still hadn’t had the time to get used to how formal Blaine’s soldiers were. He really knew how to keep them in line. “Come in, please,” he said, smiling gently as the soldier opened the door and walked inside his room.

He was tall – at least compared to Blaine, after all – and kind of handsome, Kurt had to admit. He had pale skin and wavy light brown hair, and his eyes were a light, mysterious shade of a mixed tone in between green and grey. He was smiling warmly, standing there in his elegant uniform, as he politely saluted him with a little bow.

“I hope you’re finding yourself comfortable in here, sir,” he said. Kurt chuckled, nodding without hesitation.

“Of course, of course,” he answered, “But please, just call me Kurt.”

“I can’t, sir,” Melchior laughed a bit, “My commander would certainly reproach me if I dared.”

“Oh, but I won’t tell him, I promise,” Kurt insisted, playfully winking at him, “It’ll be our little secret.”

Melchior laughed once more, but he didn’t answer to that. He probably knew it wouldn’t have been proper for a soldier like him to play that way with somebody like Kurt. Blaine really knew how to handle his men, after all.

“Sir, I’m here because commander Anderson asked for your presence in the head cabin,” Melchior said, “Would you be kind enough to follow me?”

Kurt’s eyes immediately started to shine as a happy smile appeared on his lips. “Oh, my Gods,” he said, folding his hands over his chest, “He remembered! I asked him to let me see the cabin so many times!”

How could Kurt be so mean, how could he think Blaine had forgot about him, or was keeping him locked up in that room because he didn’t care about what he wanted? Of course Blaine cared! Of course he did, he was clearly just waiting for the right moment to call him! He was carrying the responsibility of his safety on his shoulders, and Kurt would have understood that better. He would have waited patiently for his fiancée to be sure there were no threats around, because, as it was obvious now, Blaine was just waiting for a safe moment when he could tell him to come without worry for his life.

His fiancée was a hero, a noble and honourable man, and Kurt loved him so much he couldn’t wait to finally see him again so he could show him.

“Commander Anderson also wanted me to ask you if you could bring that device you’re carrying with you on the cabin,” Melchior added, “He would like to watch it closely.”

“Of course,” Kurt answered without even listening to him. He was too happy to be concerned about that stupid stone or everything else in the world, for that matter. He was about to see Blaine! He was about to stand by his side while he drove the train towards the Capital in the blinding light of the day! He couldn’t imagine anything more adventurous or exciting.

He took the little velvet box the stone was kept in and followed Melchior out of the room.

“Weren’t there two soldiers here?” Kurt asked as Melchior led him along the wagons, walking slowly so to let him free to take a look around. He was grateful to Melchior to be so kind to him, he must’ve guessed or known that Kurt hadn’t really had the chance to explore the train before, but not seeing the soldiers he was sure Blaine had put to guard his door was kind of making him nervous.

“Yes, sir,” Melchior nodded, moving from one wagon to the other and keeping the door open for Kurt to pass through it, “Since I was going to take care of you here, commander Anderson asked them over to the head cabin. You know how it is on a battletrain, we can’t just leave men guarding an empty room.”

“Actually, I don’t really know how it is on a battletrain, since I had never been into one before three days ago,” Kurt chuckled, “But it makes sense. I guess you’re all very busy, all day long.”

“Constantly,” Melchior nodded, helping him into yet another wagon.

“Thank you,” Kurt said, actually looking around himself for the first time since they had left his room. “Wait a minute, isn’t this the end of the train?” he asked, looking outside the window.

“It would appear so,” Malchior nodded, opening the last door. Instantly, the wind started to blow inside the wagon so hard and fast Kurt had to grab one of the handles hanging down from the ceiling not to fall on the ground.

“What are you doing?!” Kurt screamed, terrified, “Weren’t you supposed to bring me to Blaine?!”

“Oh, was I?” Melchior asked, his formerly kind smile turning quickly into a way more wicked one.

Kurt felt his heart skip a beat and held on to the handle tighter. “Who the hell are you?” he asked in a breath.

He didn’t have the time to hear the answer, though. “Jesse St. James,” the man answered, hitting him on the back of his head and managing to grab the little velvet box he let go of fainting, before it could hit the ground, “Nice to meet you.”

Jesse opened the jacket of the uniform he had stolen from one of the soldiers he had found outside of Kurt’s room before throwing them both out of the windows, and put the box in one of the countless inner pockets it had, and then retrieved Kurt’s unconscious body from the ground, lifting him up on his own shoulders. He secured the sleeping boy on himself with a rope and then walked outside the train, jumping on the two-seater floating air-scooter tied to the iron handrail.

Whistling happily, perfectly satisfied with himself, he cut the rope and flew away.


The Warbler was the first train of the fleet and the first battletrain ever built, too. It had a body of iron, a steam turbine and four alchemy powered auxiliary engines. When it first came out, more than a hundred years prior, its only engine was coal-powered and it was replaced ten years after with a modern, more functional model, which was the one it had now.

Not the newest train of the fleet, perhaps, but the more reliable.

Blaine had driven it for five years and he wouldn't have changed it for any of those ten-engines monstrosities that industry was building nowadays. They were gorgeous and well armed, absolutely essential to fight the war, but they still couldn't compete with the flagtrain's stability. To date, the Warbler was still the best train, as far as the ratio between power, speed and endurance was concerned. Also, the flagtrain didn't need to be the best, but it needed to be indestructible because it was the only real reference point in battle. All the other conductors would look for it if they were in trouble, therefore it could not fall easily, for it was the sign that the army had still hope, that it was still fighting. And the Warbler, with his century of service, had never broken down but once, while Blaine had at least forty of the latest units in repair every week.

Blaine checked the pressure gauge and the levels of energy in the engine compartment through the control panel Hummel had installed on the bridge. Everything seemed perfectly normal. Cruising speed was good and at this pace he could hope to get to Capital City on schedule, given the pirates didn't decide to attack, which would have been unfortunate indeed.

Usually, it would have been reporting via radio to the command every twelve hours about his squadron's whereabouts and status, but the delicate nature of the current mission required total secrecy because communications between the train and the headquarters however coded could still have been intercepted, and he couldn't let it happen.

Therefore, left with really nothing to do, he realized this was a good moment to show Kurt the train, for he had been asking to visit it since their departure. He called an orderly and when he came, clicking his heels and giving a salute, he ordered him to fetch his fiancée from the cabin he had been locked in for three days and escort Kurt to him.

Knowing Kurt, Blaine doubted him would be in any way interested in what the Warbler was. Kurt wasn't exactly the kind of young man who fancied train or the art of war, in general. He was artistic, he loved art, singing and theatre. He would not understand the poetry of the pistons moving in perfect harmony, like the giant keys of a piano, pushing the train forward instead of making music. But that was one of the reason Blaine loved him so much. They were so different from one another, and still shared so much. Like a passion for music, Blaine himself used to sing from time to time, even though he was not good at it as Kurt was.

They were a strange couple, Kurt and him.

They had met by chance, in a moment when Blaine wasn't thinking about love at all. He had just been named commander of the royal fleet and he was determined to live up to the honour that had been given to him. All his efforts and energy were focused solely on lead a battle after the other and possibly to win the war as soon as possible, bringing the Iron Lands back to the peace they had long forgotten.

It was late April, some time after the fleet's victory at Kinley's point – one of the most strategic and important sites on the borders, that the pirates was about to take, opening a way not only between the fleet's lines, but to the Iron Lands as well – and a party to celebrate the astounding performance of the Queen's fleet had been thrown by a rich merchant of a city nearby. All the highest in command were there, together with all the personages of the towns all around. Mister Hummel and his son were invited to, in consideration of what the alchemist had done for the fleet.

Blaine and Kurt had never met before, but Blaine knew Burt. The two of them were talking about possible modifications on the Warbler, when Kurt had approached them, taking his father away from him with a polite apology in his direction. Blaine could honestly swear he hadn't be able to look at anything else but Kurt, that night. His eyes had followed him through the room, even when he had been expected to listen to his superiors asking about this or that detail of the battle. Every time he lost sight of Kurt's peculiar outfit, his eyes would look for it until they find it again. By the end of the night, he could recognize Kurt in the crowd by the mere sight of a button.

They didn't speak at all that night, except for saying goodbye.

Blaine had been pleased, though, to see in Kurt's eyes the same kind of longing desire that he was sure was in his own. For this reason, he had found the courage to try and court him, because all of a sudden, fight an entire fleet of pirate ships with one single battletrain left seemed easier than ask Kurt out. Blaine's visits to Burt's lab became quite frequent and so did the invitations to stay for dinner. After what felt the millionth time that he was invited to stay and he spent the time nodding politely to whatever Burt was saying while looking at Kurt and smile awkwardly every now and then, Burt had taken the problem in his own hand and asked abruptly – and a little bit sternly to add a touch of scariness – if Blaine liked his only son, for it certainly looked so. Blaine had turned red, and Kurt purple but Burt had stood his ground. “You two don't do anything but look at each other all day,” he had said. “I gave you plenty of chances to make a move, so now please do it or give up because I can't bare the lovey-dovey act any longer.”

And Blaine did it. He asked the man the honour to court Kurt and he said yes. They went out a couple of times, but it was clear since the beginning that they were meant to be together. Four years after, which means a year before this mission had became necessary, Blaine had asked Burt for Kurt's hand and they were now going to marry soon, possibly after the end of the war that both Burt and Blaine felt closer and closer with the discovery of the stone.

He was smiling stupidly at the window of the head cabin, looking not at the dry beauty of the desert but at his own mental images of how the wedding was going to be according to Kurt's fashion sense, when the door of the cabin burst open and his orderly run in, screaming his name.

“Commander Anderson,” he said, breathing heavily. “Mister Hummel is gone, sir. The room is empty and I couldn't find him.”

“What?” Blaine moved away from the window as all the wedding images disappeared from his head, his brain entering in a perfect emergency-mode. “What do you mean he is gone? Did you ask the men at his door?”

“They are gone too, sir.”

“Damn!” Blaine was already in motion before the orderly had even stopped speaking. He started running down the hall and the soldier run after him, awaiting orders. “He's been abducted. Call the security. Stop the train. Block all the exits. Now!”

The young orderly stopped and took out his radio, which frizzled a little as soon as he pressed the button. “Attention, to all units on board. We have a breach. Repeat: we have a breach. Suspected intruder. Train in red mode.”

The orderly didn't need to say his name or that it was Blaine's order. Whoever was accused of pretending a red code for a battletrain would go to the court-martial. Nobody would ever dream of playing like that, so if a red mode had been called, then it had to be real. The brakes were pulled a second after, while the orderly was still shouting about the state of emergency. The train screeched, a wave of sparkles washed over the windows as the brakes bit at the tracks. The train jumped to a stop and then, all together windows and doors shut down, leaving the whole train in the dark for a brief moment before the emergency light turned on.

Used to every single movement of his train in battle, Blaine was unaffected by its jumping and shaking, and he kept moving down the hall, avoiding things falling down from the highest shelves and soldiers throwing themselves out of the cabins and running to their duties. He shouted orders as he passed them by, taking some with him for good measure.

Kurt's door was open, obviously. He quickly checked the room but as soon as he saw his window was intact he didn't waste any more time and kept running down the hall. Whoever took Kurt had had to run that way, because they were coming from the other. He passed an awful numbers of intersections, scattering his men in each and every wagon to check for Kurt while he run forward.

There was a strange noise ahead. Some sort of enduring whistle with a knocking sound in the background. It took him a few moments to realize the whistle was strong wind coming in the train from outside, meaning that one of the exits had to be open. When he reached it, the last door was open. The shutter had closed too late and not completely. He knelt down to discover that the knocking sound was the end of a rope, slamming against the side of the train. Looking up, he saw a flying vehicle in the distance, the intruder and his precious load were gone.

“Flying vehicle, probably a scooter, going South-Eastwards” he said in his radio. “I want two squads after it.”

“Roger,” A frizzling voice said from the other end. “Squad one and two ready, sir.”

“Get him and take back Hummel and his load.”


The orderly caught up with Blaine as he put away the radio. “The train is clear, sir. What are the orders, now?”

Blaine sighed. There wasn't much he could do. There were no doubts Kurt had been kidnapped by the pirates, but he couldn't just turn the train around and go toward the Floating Lands. That constantly moving place was too dangerous to walk through without a map to follow. He had to hope the squads got Kurt back or at least catch up with the scooter and followed it, so to know exactly where he was heading to. “We get the Warbler ready,” he said as he walked back to the head cabin. Once there, he unlocked the system and cleared the state of emergency. “We leave as soon as we have the coordinates.”

“Yes sir,” the orderly said, nodding.

Around them the Warbler came back to life, roaring and ready to fight if necessary, as its conductor was.


Jesse had driven his scooter randomly for almost two hours before getting bored and nose-diving toward the ocean, run on the surface of the water for three miles and then literally disappear behind one of the many falls generated on the floated stones, giving the slip to Blaine's soldiers, running after him on their flying vehicles. He had confused them for a while, taking them away from the Warbler and right at the board of the pirates territory, where he could orient himself and they couldn't. The game was over.

He turned off the scooter's engine and waited, hidden behind one of the huge masses of rock floating in mid-air. He watched them search for him around, but not daring to cross the border. They could, of course, try and follow him, maybe they could even catch him – Jesse wasn't so sure about that but he was willing to give the poor guys at least that merit – but without a map of the rocks' migration, they were bound to turn around with their precious intruder and find themselves trapped in a labyrinth that wasn't there before. And in the land of pirates, being a group of royal soldiers away from their battletrain was never a good idea.

Jesse had to admit they were persisting, though. They searched for at least another hour, forcing him to check on Kurt and see if he was waking up, before giving up and preparing to go back to their commander to tell him he was lost.

In the beginning, the Floating Lands were attached to the continent, separated from the Iron Lands by that same Midlands that now were the reason of the war. Then various earthquakes opened a crack in the ground, that eventually resulted into big chunks of rock the size of cities to come off the land. But instead of staying where they were, they started floating due to the alchemical energy in excess, that was also the main cause of the earthquakes to begin with. Alchemists said those parts of the land were lost, because the energy was bound to run out sooner or later. The rocks would fall into the ocean, bringing the cities with them.

People left the rocks and their cities, and went to live in the Midlands or in the Iron Lands, if they had enough money. Many of them even faced the long journey to the Capital, hoping to find a job as servants and maids, there. The Floating Stones were abandoned, awaiting for them to fall and disappeared in the deep waters eight hundreds feet below them.

But it never happened.

Somehow, the energy that was keeping the rocks in the air started to interact with the energy on solid ground, creating currents that would keep these rocks floating but push them around in no predictable patterns. Because of its constantly changing geography, the Floating Lands became the perfect place to hide for runaways and criminals and people who needed to disappear from the face of the world for whatever reason. They started to live there and developed a way to understand the migration of the stones they lived on and they built ships that could fly, powered with little stones extracted from the floating rocks. And like sailors at sea, they learned how to orient themselves in a land with very few constant landmarks.

They built their own kingdom, mirroring the one that had turned them into outcasts and they took their revenge on it by attacking the people on the ground and stealing from them. They started roaming the sky in little fleets, they became pirates and the rest was history.

Jesse waited for the royal soldiers to fly away and disappear beyond the line of the horizon before turning on the engine again. Kurt was moaning now and stirring every now and then, he needed to get to the target soon. He came out from behind his hiding place and speeded up through the path of rocks without hesitation. Jesse wasn't born in the Floating Lands but he knew exactly how to move through them. A man with his kind of job needed to be able to find his way wherever he was, otherwise he wouldn't live very long. And since he planned to have a long, happy life and then retire at a very old age in one of the tropical islands in the South to enjoy all the money he would have had, he was very good at saving his ass in every possible situation.

It took him another hour to get to where he needed to be.

Eventually, the hugest rock he had seen so far slowly moved aside to reveal a pirate ship, glorious and shiny in the dying light of the day. And behind it, about other twenty ships, smaller and somehow not as impressive as the flagship but still visibly as armed. This fleet was huge, and it wasn't the only one. Jesse knew for a fact that, twenty miles East from there, there was another one, as big as this one, and the same went from twenty miles in every direction. The pirates were indeed a power to be reckon with, because they had done the only thing they needed to do: they joined forces and they were now many, angry and merciless.

Jesse approached the flagship slowly and stopped in mid-air thirty feet from it, knowing pirates tended to shoot at anything they didn't know and that moved around their ship. A man with a purple bandana over a ruffled head of blonde hair frowned at him and squinted his eyes as if he couldn't see very well.

“Who th' hell be ye?” He asked in a deep, throaty voice before coughing and then spitting in the ocean.

Jesse made a face at his astounding lack of grammar, but he smiled anyway. “Hello good sir, my name is Jesse St. James. Your captain is waiting for me. I have something he wants.”

The pirate looked at him very intently, as if he was trying to understand what exactly Jesse was saying, which was ridiculous since it should have been the other way around. Eventually, he seemed to give up on some of the words and focus only on the ones he understood, which were very few.

He nodded and then turned his head. “Avast, thar, Cap'n, thar be a scurvy dog here who says ye be waitin' fer him,” he shouted. “He says his name be Jesse St. somethin'. I shoot him?”

He was speaking to someone Jesse couldn't see, but he could hear the clear, stern voice answering him and recognize it as the captain's voice. “Of course you don't shoot him, you idiot. Let him on board.”

“Aye, Cap'n.” The pirate nodded again and then turned to Jesse again. “Th' Cap'n says ye can come on board. Leave that sailin' thin' thar 'n use th' ladder.”

After he said that, a rope ladder was thrown overboard for him. He got the scooter closer to the side of the ship and then climbed the ladder, with Kurt's sleeping body secured to his back. Once he got on top, the blonde pirate helped him out, almost dragging him on board. “Here, ye land people be not jolly at gettin' on a ship.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jesse said, dusting off his trousers. He carefully took Kurt off his shoulders and lied him on the planks, where he moaned a little and then curled up in his sleep. The captain came forward, taking a couple of slow steps toward him and stopping a few feet away, right next to the blonde pirate who obligingly took a step back. “Captain Karofsky.”

“St. James,” the captain grumbled.

Captain Karofsky was a big, sturdy young man, with dark brown hair and a constantly pissed off expression on his squared face that made him look like if he had just eaten something nasty. He hadn't missed any limbs yet and his eyes were a deep brown that matched the planks of his ship when they got wet at high tide. In his early twenties, he was quite young to be ruling a ship as big as The Fury but he was the son of a captain, the grandson of a buccaneer and the nephew of a corsair, so he wasn't expected to be less than a sea robber himself. He had got his ship and half the crew from his father, but the rest of his men and the other ships that followed his lead he had owned himself.

Jesse didn't like pirates too much – actually, he didn't like anyone in general too much, because liking someone required a certain amount of interest toward other human beings which he lacked by nature – but he found Karofsky amusing, and he enjoyed the brief moments they spent in civilities before their business.

As a pirate, he was quite peculiar. First of all, he wasn't cursed with the usual blatant ignorance. His notorious grandfather was the illegitimate son of a baron and had been educated in the finest school before going off roaming the sea. The old man was a true pirate, but he had as well the heart of a man of letters. He loved books as much as he loved treasures and he passed his passion to his son and to his son's son after that. Even though Karofsky had a lot of the restlessness of his father Paul, which made him a troubled soul, he was much like his grandfather as far as his education was concerned. Secondly, he followed no rules but his own, and that was something Jesse could relate to.

“I was starting to think you'd never show up. You're late,” Karofsky said.

Jesse smiled charmingly as he always did. “I have my reasons, sir. Men of the Queen were after me, I had to get rid of them in order to get here unharmed and with your requested goods safe and sound in my hands. So I did and here I am. I believe this should be a good enough explanation to be forgiven.”

“I suppose it is,” Karofsky granted. “Do you have what I asked?”

“As I said, I do,” Jesse smiled again and rummaged in his jacket's inside pocket, retrieving the little box. “This is the device you wanted and the kid here was the one who had it.”

Karofsky tilted his head, frowning as he watched Kurt. “This is not Hummel,” he said.

“Actually, he is. Kurt Hummel, only son of Burt Hummel and his late wife, died during a raid of your fellow pirates ships in Lima town, approximately ten, maybe fifteen years ago.”

The captain was totally unimpressed by Jesse's knowledge. “Still, the son of the alchemist is not what I asked you.”

“No, what you asked me was to bring you the box and who had it and that's exactly what I brought you, Karofsky,” Jesse said. “If you don't like it, that's fine. Feel free to lodge a complaint to the battletrain army of Her Majesty, but don't blame me.”

In the meanwhile, Kurt was finally starting to wake up. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was the point of Karofsky's sword, aimed at his neck as the captain was arguing with Jesse over his body. “Are you trying to fuck with me, St. James?”

“For God's sake, no!” Jesse sighed. “He was on the train with the box. There wasn't anyone else. I'm sorry if you are disappointed, but let me tell you, you should get your information right next time, if you don't want this kind of unfortunate situations to happen. Now, if you'd be so kind as to pay me.”

“Who are you?” Kurt said as he tried to move away from both of them and failed because his hands and feet were tied.

“Avast, Cap'n, he be awake,” the blonde pirate said, drawing Kurt's attention toward himself and the dozen of other men on the ship.

“Oh my Gods, you are pirates!” Kurt screamed, hearing the way he spoke. He wiggled away and turned to Jesse, glaring at him. “You sold me to the pirates, you bastard!”

“At least I was trying to before you woke up and delayed this transaction even further,” he answered. Then he sighed, as if to regain his composure. “Captain, if you don't mind, it's getting late and I have other things that I need to take care of.”

Karofsky wasn't convinced about the whole matter and his crew seemed to notice that. His men came closer, all with swords or pistols in hand. Kurt started screaming even louder, accusing Jesse of treachery and ordering the pirates to stay away from him because he was the fiancée of Blaine Anderson, commander of the Warbler, first battletrain of the Queen and that soon the whole army of Her Majesty would fall upon them to save him.

Nobody listened to him.

“Dave, you wanted the thing. You have it,” the voice of a woman said, apparently out of thin air. “So, cut the bullshits and let's see if it works. The kid here is the son of the alchemist, he must know something. If he doesn't we will use him to get to the man himself.”

Kurt shut up immediately, terrified by the ghostly voice. He looked up at Jesse, but he was as calm as ever and nobody seemed to mind that a bodiless woman was speaking to them. “Did you hear it too?”

“What if he's screwing with us?” Dave said to the voice, showing that he had indeed heard it.

“He would never do that, wouldn't he?” the incorporeal woman said. “He knows that we hunt down, torture, skin and kill bastards.”

Jesse smiled as if that was a compliment. “I would never dare, miss Lopez. I swear to the Gods that this kid is Burt Hummel's son and the box he brings with him is the device you asked me to retrieve.”

“Aye, fine. Gimme that.” Karofsky reached out but Jesse shook his head. “What?”

“We are both gentlemen, aren't we, captain?” Jesse titled his head. “Let's do as gentlemen do.”

Karofsky nodded to one of his pirates, a beautiful young lady with a blonde pony tail on the top of her head who came forward, dangling her hips on a pair of staggering heeled boots. “If you are a leprechaun, why are we giving you money? Shouldn't be the other way around?” She said, giving him a sachet of clinking coins. She had the most beautiful blue eyes Jesse had ever seen. It was a pity they couldn't do nothing for her blank expression, probably mirroring a severe case of vacancy in her brain too.

“C'mere, me beauty,” the same pirate said as he grabbed the girl by her wrist and dragged her away from Jesse. “Ye need to sleep, Brit, ye be knowin' that.”

Britney nodded vaguely and walked away with the man, turning to look at Jesse every now and then, probably making sure he wasn't going to disappear. “Here is your device, Captain,” Jesse said, giving the little velvet box to Karofsky. “And the kid, of course, is yours too. I suggest that you treat him well. Anderson seems very fond of him and the man's got money, if you know what I mean.”

“This is none of your business, St. James,” Karofsky growled as he nodded to a couple of pirates who lifted a screaming Kurt from the ground and took him away. “Now, get lost. I've seen enough of you face for a lifetime.”

“I would love to oblige, but unfortunately there is something else I need to retrieve from this ship before I can consider myself excused,” Jesse said with a bow. “Now, I would ask you if you keep your marine charts in your cabin, Captain, and where it might be, but I feel you won't tell me, am I right?”

Karofsky frowned, not getting what was happening for a moment. “What are you talking about?”

“Someone else – I don't want to name names, let's just say he is a renown train conductor who happens to drive the same train that was transporting Hummel, what a coincidence! – asked me to get the charts and since he too was paying, I couldn't say no, could I?”

Karofsky literally growled, unsheathing his sword. “Take him! Take him but don't kill him,” he shouted to his men, scattered all around the deck. “I wanna do that!”

“There's no need to be so touchy!” Jesse said, swirling away from the grasp of a pirate and then jumping on a barrel to avoid the sword of another. “I'll find the cabin by myself, thank you very much.”

From the barrel, Jesse jumped up on the quarterdeck and then, he turned around to fend with two pirates from up there. While the entirety of his crew flocked toward Jesse and followed him on the quartedeck, Karofsky went the other way, knowing that St. James was going to jump down sooner or later.

Jesse didn't want to kill anyone, it wasn't his style. But he didn't have nothing against wounds, especially if they could help getting him out of bad situations. So he cut people open here and there and he scratched one pirate's face from cheekbone to chin, actually making him more handsome. He walked backward, looking back every once in a while to avoid a pitiful, totally not gorgeous fall.

“I appreciate your eagerness, gentlemen,” he said after a while, “but I need y'all to back off, now.”

Suddenly, he dove on the ground, propping himself up with his free hand as he swung the sword with the other. He kicked the first man in line in his shin and he fell to the ground, bringing with him all the ones behind him. Jesse took a moment to himself to watch the scene. “Oh, that's why I love bowling.”

Then he jumped off the quarterdeck, right in front of the door of the captain's cabin.

When he landed, Karofsky was there. “Where do you think you're going?”

“I get you feel violated by me entering your cabin. I know, everybody always does,” he said, as they started fencing. Like two trained dancers, they moved in circle, every hack and perry precise and graceful, beautiful to watch. Karofsky's men stopped where they where, keeping an eye on the intruder, in case he escaped from the captain. “But I swear to the Gods and to the soul of my poor mother, that I'll be as unobtrusive as possible.”

“Shut up and surrender!”

“I'm afraid this is not possible. Would you try and order me something else? Who knows, I might even like it!” Jesse didn't lose his smile as he looked around, searching for a way out. He found it when he saw the copper bracelet on the captain's left wrist glowing red. He avoid Karofsky's hack by bending down and then rolled on the ground. When he was ready again, he aimed his sword not to the man but to the bracelet.

“Dave, watch out!” The voice of the woman screamed.

Karofsky focused exclusively on avoiding the blow and saving the bracelet. He withdrew the arm just in time, so Jesse ended up only scratching the back of his hand, but the captain got distracted and when he looked up again, St. James had already locked himself in the cabin.

Once he was inside the captain's cabin and the door was locked, Jesse leaned against for a second, catching his breath. From outside, came the voices of the pirates, already re-organizing to knock the door down. He would have to search fast if he wanted to get out of there alive and with the charts. The cabin was huge, considering that the other hundred men slept all crowded in half the space. The captain had a four posted bed with an upholstered headboard, a wooden table that had to weight as much as the ship, more books that he would care to count and a chest in a corner that Jesse would have loved to empty if he had the time.

“So many robberies, so little time,” he sighed, dramatically as he went through the papers on the table.

“St. James, you are a dead man!” The captain shouted in a deep, angry voice.

“Aren't we all?” He answered, as he threw the log book behind his back. “You know, it's a mess in here. How are you supposed to find anything?”

Under the pirates' blows, the door was already cracked and twisted. Jesse could see their dark, sometimes missing eyes from a hole they managed to open. “Alright, it's time to get out of here,” he murmured to himself. That was when he saw the marine charts spread on the table like a tablecloth under everything else, and pinned down with heavy stones at the four corners. “Here you are.”

He moved everything else aside with an arm and he rolled the charts. By the time he was done, the door blasted open and a ridiculous number of pirates started coming in, Karofsky in the lead. Jesse was out of the window already, and climbing the broadside to get back on deck. Once there, he met Karofsky again. The bracelet was still there, but Jesse couldn't try the same trick twice, so he had to fence with the man for real, this time.

“You're not gonna leave my ship alive with those!” The captain roared.

“Come on, Capitain! I bet you don't even need them, anymore” he said, slowly moving around him to get closer to the shrouds. “Let's donate to the unfortunate people who don't know their way around here.”

Karofsky lunged but he missed. Jesse had jumped and grabbed the shrouds, heaving himself up with one arm. The captain growled and followed him, but Jesse was slimmer and faster, and he moved like a monkey. The sword back in its sheathe and the charts secured to his belt, he climbed the shrouds up to the top, with Karofsky on his heels and his crew climbing next to him, knives between his teeth and all.

He looked around, feeling Karofsky's grin of triumph on himself. “It's over, St. James,” The captain said. “Hand me the charts, and we'll be even.”

“I would, seriously, if I was trapped.”

“Well, I'm sorry to break it for you, but you are.”

Jesse's face lighted up and he smiled so graciously that for a moment Karofsky was confused. This man was trapped on top of the mainmast of his ship with his whole crew after him, why was he fucking smiling? Then Jesse jumped. He let himself go in the air, overboard. They waited to hear the splash but there was none. One moment, and the man showed up again, waving on top of his scooter.

“Thank you, Captain!” He shouted, giving him a salute. “It was a blast! We should really do it again another time.”

The crew looked at Karofsky, waiting for orders but he knew they couldn't follow him now, because the ship would never move fast enough to catch up with him. Dave took his time to calm down and then just turned around, like Jesse's escape didn't even matter. “We can do without the charts, but we need to follow other paths,” he said, serious. “Prepare the Fury, we are sailing in half an hour.”

As the crew run on deck to get everything ready, the bracelet glowed again. “What about St. James?”

“The tide will bring him back to us sooner or later,” he answered the woman.

Then, he entered the cabin and locked himself in.

Genere: Introspettivo.
Pairing: fem!Kurt/Blaine, fem!Kurt/Dave.
Rating: R.
AVVERTIMENTI: Switchgender, AU, Flashfic.
- "Kate conosce abbastanza la strada da sapere che non ci si può fidare della dolcezza e della gentilezza."
Note: Scritta per il Carnevale delle Lande su prompt Glee; genderswap!AU.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Kate conosce abbastanza la strada da sapere che non ci si può fidare della dolcezza e della gentilezza. Non sono altro che maschere che i clienti utilizzano per sentirsi un po’ meno peggio con se stessi. Essere dolci con una puttana è come trattare con affetto un vitello prima di portarlo al macello, così pensa Kate. È un gesto di carità, se così si può dire, uno sfoggio di candore tanto puro quanto inappropriato, perché in fin dei conti non si tratta che di una menzogna. In fin dei conti, nessuno mai resta al suo fianco. In fin dei conti, dopo venti minuti di sesso e un orgasmo raggiunto alla meno peggio, tornano tutti a casa, e lei rimane lì.
C’è un ragazzo, fra i suoi clienti fissi. Si chiama Blaine, o almeno così ha detto di chiamarsi, ed abita poco distante da casa sua, almeno a quanto dice. Studia alla vicina accademia di arti drammatiche, ed è solo, disperatamente solo. Fino a pochi mesi fa, l’unica compagnia che aveva era quella dei soldi che suo padre gli passava mensilmente. Dopodiché, quando spendere in vestiti, cibo ed uscite solitarie non gli è più bastato, ha cominciato a spendere per il sesso, ha cominciato a spendere per Kate, e non ha più smesso.
Blaine è gentile. Blaine la accarezza sempre con molto riguardo, dolce e rispettoso come lei gli ha insegnato ad essere a partire da quella prima volta in cui, rosso in viso e con un mucchio di banconote spiegazzate stretto in un pugno, si è presentato alla sua porta confessandole di essere ancora vergine.
Blaine è gentile, ma nonostante quello che lo aspetta a casa propria non manca mai di tornarci. Kate non gli ha mai chiesto di restare, ma è sicura che, se anche lo facesse, Blaine non accetterebbe. Tornerebbe a casa propria, al suo letto singolo, alla sua tv via cavo, al silenzio delle sue quattro mura, alla sua vita di tutti i giorni, una vita all’interno della quale Kate non è compresa.
Blaine è gentile, e di questa gentilezza Kate è grata, ma ogni carezza è una bugia, ed ogni volta che lo vede andare via Kate si morde l’interno di una guancia e preferirebbe che non l’avesse mai trattata con rispetto. Nel suo mondo, il prezzo del rispetto è una montagna di menzogne, e Kate preferirebbe evitare almeno quelle.
C’è un altro ragazzo, fra i suoi clienti fissi. Si chiama Dave, o almeno così ha detto di chiamarsi, ed abita dall’altra parte della città, almeno a quanto dice. Viene fino a qui perché, dove abita lui, nessuno sa che è solo come un cane, che non gli riesce di trovare una donna per la quale provi il minimo interesse sufficiente per mettere su un qualsiasi straccio di relazione. Dove vive, è rispettato. Lavora nel football a livello professionistico, anche se non ha voluto dire a Kate in quale veste, e lei non ha mai chiesto specificatamente perché tutto sommato non le interessa, e perché se i suoi clienti avessero bisogno di uno strizzacervelli, be’, se ne troverebbero uno, non verrebbero certo da lei.
Dave è stato solo per tutta la sua vita, tutte le relazioni che ha avuto sono state dei fallimenti, ed arrivato a quel punto oltre il quale se non avesse trovato una valvola di sfogo sarebbe sicuramente esploso, l’istinto di conservazione gli ha suggerito una scappatoia, e lui l’ha trovata in Kate.
Dave è spiccio. Le sue carezze non sono mai devote come quelle che Blaine le riserva, sono rudi, forti, le sue mani sono ruvide, le mani di un uomo con cui la vita non è stata tenera, e che pertanto non capisce per quale motivo dovrebbe esserlo lui con la vita.
Dave è spiccio e non ne fa mistero. È lì per venti minuti di consolazione, per venti minuti di illusione, per quei venti minuti in cui chiude gli occhi e si spinge dentro di lei e può credere, rassicurato dal suo calore e dai suoi sospiri, di non essere completamente solo al mondo.
Dave è spiccio, ed anche di questo Kate è grata, perché in questo mondo il disinteresse è una virtù. È l’unica verità spendibile in un mondo che sulla menzogna, sull’illusione di un attimo, pone le sue intere fondamenta. Quando Dave va via, salutando a stento, Kate non si risente, perché sa che, risparmiandosi di fingere, le sta facendo un favore. L’unico che può farle.
Ogni sera, rimasta sola, Kate fissa il soffitto della propria camera, inspira ed espira lentamente, si sente sfortunata ma viva, e sa che poteva andarle peggio. Non si mente mai, però. Non finge mai di sentirsi più felice di quanto in realtà non sia. È l’unico favore che può farsi, l’unica briciola di rispetto che può riservarsi senza smettere di essere onesta con se stessa. Dopotutto, almeno per il momento, è sufficiente.
Genere: Introspettivo.
Pairing: Dave/Kurt, Kurt/Blaine.
Rating: PG-13.
AVVERTIMENTI: Onesided, Slash, (triplo) Drabble, (lieve) Bashing.
- "Immagina che Kurt sia felice, adesso."
Note: Scritta per il Carnevale delle Lande su prompt Prom night.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Immagina che Kurt sia felice, adesso. Sarà felice sì, con quel suo ragazzo impomatato che sembra uscito dagli scaffali di un grande magazzino a caso. Il fidanzato di Barbie, ecco cosa sembra. Coi capelli di plastica e la riga tirata con la squadra. Sarà felice, Kurt, mentre balla avvinghiato a lui e gli si struscia contro, ma probabilmente non lo sarà altrettanto quando si lascerà riaccompagnare a casa. Allora – Dave lo sa – quel nano da giardino in poliestere con la faccia di Didò proverà a baciarlo, e Kurt glielo lascerà fare, e poi si allontanerà e le sue guance saranno rosse e il suo sorriso dolce, e gli chiederà “vuoi salire?”, e quel coso, ovviamente, dirà di sì. E arriveranno in camera, e continueranno a baciarsi, e poi Kurt gli tirerà giù i pantaloni e sorpresa!, mutande di plastica. E sotto? Sotto niente, naturalmente, il fidanzato di Barbie non ce l’ha mica, l’uccello, quindi non può avercelo nemmeno lui.
Dave sospira, cambia posizione sul divano e recupera il telecomando. Cambia canale un paio di volte, ingrugnito come non è mai stato in vita sua nonostante un’esperienza niente male quanto a ingrugnimento, e suo padre gli passa alle spalle brandendo una bottiglia di birra, diretto nel proprio studio per una sessione di commosso ascolto della Carmen, probabilmente, la trecentesima almeno da quando Dave ha cominciato a farci caso – il che non sa davvero cosa dica di lui, ma qualunque cosa sia non gli piace – e gli chiede “ma tu? Sei già qui? E il ballo?”
Dave risponde con un grugnito e cambia ancora canale. Su FX danno le repliche di Sons of Anarchy, vivaddio, guarderà quello. Bel modo di passare la nottata, in ogni caso.
Sempre meglio che abbassare i pantaloni a un tizio e scoprire che sotto non c’è niente, comunque, commenta fra sé e sé con un ghigno divertito a metà.
Genere: Introspettivo.
Pairing: Dave/Kurt.
Rating: PG.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, (triplo) Drabble, Spoiler per la 3x14.
- "Potrebbe mandare tutto a quel paese e fregarsene, in fondo continuare a ignorare ciò che prova è ancora un’opzione valida, lo è stata per tanti di quegli anni fino ad ora che non vede per quale motivo dovrebbe smettere di esserlo adesso."
Note: Scritta per la quarta settimana del COW-T @ maridichallenge, Missione 1, prompt: indecisione.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Dave Karofsky non aveva mai conosciuto davvero il significato della parola “tortura”, prima di incontrare Kurt Hummel. Naturalmente avrebbe potuto esporlo, avrebbe potuto dire in cosa la tortura consistesse, avrebbe probabilmente anche potuto fare degli esempi storici, contestualizzarli, insomma, non si sarebbe potuto dire che non avesse idea di cosa si stesse parlando, ma la tortura, la tortura vera, no, non la conosceva.
Poi ha visto lui, ed il significato di quella parola prima di quel momento così lontana ha improvvisamente assunto caratteristiche reali. Fisiche, in realtà. Si è trasformata in un’emozione, più che una nozione, si è convogliata nel dolore alla bocca dello stomaco ogni volta che gli posava gli occhi addosso, si è incarnata nel desiderio di fuggire ogni volta che i loro sguardi si incrociavano nel corridoio, si è concentrata sulla punta delle sue dita come energia elettrica per imprimere più forza ad ogni spinta quando, senza il minimo riguardo per lui o per se stesso, lo mandava a sbattere contro gli armadietti in corridoio.
Si trasforma adesso in paura e dubbio mentre stringe il primo dei biglietti di San Valentino che intende fargli trovare nell’armadietto. Ha studiato tutto nei minimi dettagli e l’idea di farlo comunque lo terrorizza ancora. Potrebbe mandare tutto a quel paese e fregarsene, in fondo continuare a ignorare ciò che prova è ancora un’opzione valida, lo è stata per tanti di quegli anni fino ad ora che non vede per quale motivo dovrebbe smettere di esserlo adesso.
Dondola a sinistra e a destra sulla sedia davanti al computer, si allontana appena dalla scrivania e il cestino della carta straccia, nascosto in un angolo, sembra quasi fargli l’occhiolino e poi spalancare la bocca, affamato.
Potrebbe buttare via questo biglietto, e finirebbe tutto qui. Né vincitori né vinti, una guerra mai partita, nessun ferito, specialmente non lui.
Sarebbe molto semplice. Così semplice.
Forse troppo.
Scritta con Tabata.
Genere: Introspettivo, Drammatico.
Pairing: Kurt/Dave.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: AU, Estabilished Relationship, Slash, Angst.
- After a zombie outbreak that reduced the world to a battlefield where only few human outposts are still standing, Kurt is bitten by a zombie and Dave does the best he can to keep him alive, with a little help from Blaine.
Note: Zombies! Could we say no to three wonderful arts showing a bitten, slowly transforming Kurt? No, because you don't say no to zombies. And to wonderful arts as well. First rule: Cardio. Second rule: The Double Tap. Third rule: Beware of Bathrooms. Fourth rule: Take your soon-to-be zombie boyfriend to the nearest friend's house and try to keep him alive as long as you can. And that's basically what happens in this story.
We really had fun writing it, even if the story is not funny at all. We wanted to write about a post Zombie Apocalypse scenario already, and the reverse bang gave us this opportunity. So, thanks to the reverse bang. And thanks, of course, to the talented Emily who drew the fan art we took inspiration from, you can see them in the story. Enjoy :)
~ reviews will be cherished, criticisms are welcomed, but please be gentle
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Everything started with a simple fever.

Then, it became a flu. The first case was in New York. It was followed two weeks after by the second one in Washington. And then the third one came, on the West Coast, in sunny California. News channels started reporting some vague information on a seasonal flu that now was confining people all over the United States in hospital wards. Reporters said it was just a variation of a weaker form of Spanish flu, for which the World Health Organization had a perfectly working vaccine. There was nothing to fear.

To a world that was scared to death by the H1N1 virus just six years before, it should have sounded like an alarming bell. Unfortunately it didn't.

When it turned out the first case has not been the first at all but the tenth – maybe even more – and that it has never been flu, but a mutation of the rabies virus that boiled your brain, it was too late for everyone.

By the time the first cases appeared in Canada and South America, closing the borders was completely useless.

At the beginning, the disease took two weeks to incubate. Subjects were highly feverish and in a strong state of confusion for days. They started to lose appetite and show signs of restlessness and exhaustion, followed by the quickly decay of their mental faculties. The end of it was a short state of coma, in which they fell during their sleep. After that, they would either die or wake up a few hours later with no knowledge of who they were and prey of such a madness, forcing them to attack, bite and eat other people like deranged animals.

Eventually, restraining them proved to be impossible. Subjects at the final stage of the disease had an unusual strength – probably adrenalin induced – and no self-preservation instinct, which means they would pursue their chasing even if beaten or wounded, and they were in no way affected by tranquillizer of any kind.

One bite was enough to be infected. So, the disease spread fast.

The governments of the world tried to contain the outbreak but acted too late and failed. Through airports the virus reached every state of America and then crossed the Ocean. Within a month Europe and Asia were already infected too. The world population was quickly reduced by 60%. But the mortality rate of the disease was actually very low. So, people who weren't healthy, unfortunately were hardly just dead.

Millions of diseased creatures started roaming the streets of the cities around the world, while the army evacuated as many people as possible. Sometimes it succeeded. Most of the time, it didn't.

Now, what's left of the human race lives in guarded places called oasis. Small communities of about fifty people, usually located in strategic facilities that are easy to defend or have a practical use, like small airports, hospitals, abandoned malls, schools. They were gathering points for evacuations. When those failed and there were nowhere else to evacuate to, they became homes for the people who remained.

A world state of war have been declared right after the collapse of the human race, six months after the outbreak. So, oasis all over the world are ruled by the army. They serve as shelters as much as headquarters for the military expeditions aimed at exterminate zombies, while ONU and other international organizations try to put back together a world in pieces.

A few makeshift labs in different parts of the world are trying to come up with a vaccine, but with no results as of yet. So, at the moment, the resolution depends totally on the army. The plan is to maintain the current number of healthy people, however low, and reduce the amount of zombies by incursions in the infected areas. Where possible, great cities have been bombed, sometimes even leveled. Everyone's desire to preserve the human culture and history was lost the very moment the risk of losing the human race itself became real.

As for the origin of the virus, speculations have been made.

Most people think the virus is the result of a very badly conducted experiment that got out of control in a lab near New York, where the patient zero was. However, a thorough investigation that would confirm such hypothesis can not be done, since right now there is no way to track down the movements of the virus or the possible labs involved. Lately, the recent discovery of cases in France, Japan and Australia contemporaneous to the one in New York and kept hidden from the governments of the respective countries, has fed a second line of thought supporting the idea that the outbreak has been the result of an attack by a still unidentified terrorist group. However, in default of any kind of claim, the experiment failure is still the main hypothesis.

Right now, people just try to survive another day.


Strangely enough, the new group arrives in the late afternoon.

Usually, the search and rescue squad leaves to reconnoiter at dawn and stops searching by three o'clock in the afternoon, weather they find something or not because patrolling for survivors in the dark is too dangerous. You have to be able to see zombies to shoot them dead for good.

In the beginning, when this was only a very big mess and nobody really knew what was going on, the squad would always come back with survivors. In time, they became fewer and fewer until there were no more survivors at all.

This is the first group that's been found in months.

They are six, four men and two women. The squad found them one mile north of Bellefontaine, in a city park not much bigger than the place they are now. They are malnourished, one of the men coughs like crazy and the youngest female has got a fever, but she says she is not infected.

According to what they say, they have been living in some hunting cabin, feeding on what they would find in the bushes nearby, too scared to go find something better in the empty shops of their abandoned city. They were a lot more. They lost five people in the past eight weeks.

Five people who didn't die.

As of yet, the group has not been allowed into the little community of survivors that has gathered in the tiny mall of Lima, Ohio. There is a strict routine newcomers have to undergo before they can cross the borders of the oasis. And even after that, nobody really feels safe around new faces until at least six months have passed. You can't never be too sure when just one bite turns you undead.

The six are confused and look around suspiciously as much as the people of the oasis look at them from behind the secure railing that marks off the place. It's like looking at wild animals at the zoo. If zoo still existed. Dave is there with everyone else, but it's not boredom that brought him there. He needs to speak with the squad commander, so he has to wait for the man's speech to end.

“You will be placed in quarantine for about three weeks,” the commander is saying, standing in front of the group of newcomers. He is embracing his shotgun and two of his men are aiming at the group. “This is how it goes. If you don't turn, then you will be free to stay. If you do, we will shot you in the head. We won't wait any more weeks. We won't wait for the disease to take its course until the final stage. Basically, we won't wait. At the first signs of the plague, we will put you down. We look at it as both a way to keep everybody as safe as possible and an act of mercy.”

After voting, the people of the community decided they would rather die when still holding their humanity than waiting to lose it day after day to the disease and turn into some flesh-eating monsters. Dave knows of this choice and he has actually voted for it, but he can understand the confusion and the horror on those people's face. It's because they come from outside, where all that counts are the people with you. If you are surrounded by zombies, you cling to all the human beings you have around and who were lucky enough to survive like you, no matter the relationship you have with one another.

You find strength in the humanity you still share.

But in oasis things are different, or at least they are here. People in Lima live in community but they are not a community at all. Every rule and every routine aims to keep the status quo. Everybody loves so much the outward safety of the oasis that tend to remove everything suspiciously dangerous before it can actually prove to be so. People here don't live hoping in a better place, but for the place they already have to stay as it is. Dave has already seen it happen too many times before. He and Kurt have experienced it on their on skin.

Burt was shot two minutes after a creature bit him. Kurt didn't even have the chance to say goodbye when his father still understood him. Dave was there, next to him, restraining him before he could go running to his dad and risk to be shot too. It was devastating.

At least, everybody was sure Burt has been bitten. Finn was put down two weeks after, on account of a confused state that was really suspicious, but never really proved to be the result of the disease. People were just scared of what it might have been.

“What about Candice?” The woman asks, holding the feverish younger one by the shoulder. “She is sick but not with the disease. It's just a common cold. She needs medicines.”

The commander looks at the girl, whose cheeks are flushed. She trembles and coughs every now and then. She really seems just normally sick. Besides, everybody always does. “If she gets through the incubation period, we will give her something. But not now,” he says. “Antibiotics slow down the disease. They would alter the result of these three weeks.”

“What if she gets worse?” One of the man cuts in. “You would let her die of flu when you can cure her?”

The commander doesn't even flinch. “It's three weeks, sir. Or the woods again.”

The man and the woman huddle around the girl who coughs again. None of them speaks again, so the commander nods to his men and starts leading the group toward a small, squat building made of concrete, a few feet away from the bigger structure of the mall. “If you make it,” he says, opening the door so they can go inside “in three weeks, you will be given a safe place to sleep inside the mall, a job, protection and access to a radio frequency to try and see if your family and friends – if you have any left – are safe and sound in some other oasis. Until then, you will stay here.”

One after the other, the six newcomers enter the quarantine building. It is an old warehouse, big enough to contain three or even four times their number. But aside from some makeshift beds and a supply of food, there is nothing else in there. They might as well die of boredom before the incubation period ends.

When everyone is inside, the commander looks seriously at them through the door. “This is your last chance,” he says, holding the door. “If anyone of you has been bitten, say it now. Or you will be closed in here with them until the quarantine ends. And by then, you will be all as good as dead.”

He is looking at the young girl, who hides herself behind the woman. “Nobody's infected,” the woman says, angrily.

The commander shrugs. “I just hope you are not lying,” he says, and then he bolts the door. He and the soldiers start to head back to where the other people are. Everybody is leaving, there is nothing to see anymore. Dave waits for him to dismiss his men and then approaches him.

“Commander, can I have a word?”

The man looks at him for a moment, as if to recognize him and then nods quickly, his expression as cold as stone. “Tell me you bring good news, kid,” he says. “'cause all I have seen coming all day is shit.”

Dave starts walking with him down the road that would bring them back to the mall. “Something bad happened, sir?” He asks politely, crossing his arms behind his back.

“Not bad, just something,” the man answers. “Something happening is already bad enough.”

David understands he is talking about the new group they found in Bellefontaine. “Do you think they might be infected, sir? They seemed okay to me. Except for the girl.”

“Would you tell me your sister is infected if you needed a place to stay?” Dave stays silent. The commander sighs and pats him on his shoulder. “My point exactly. So, what's that you wanted to talk about? If you want to enter the squad, again, it's two weeks since the last time you asked. You are still too young.”

“No, it's not that, sir,” he says. Then he looks around to make sure nobody is listening. “Did you see Kurt on your way back?”

The commander frowns. “I haven't seen him all day. Wasn't he supposed to be out on the fields?”

“Yes,” Dave nods. “He was. I left him there this morning. But it's been almost ten hours, now. I'm starting to worry. He always takes the wrong turn. I'm afraid he got lost, or something.”

The commander remains silent for the longest time. “Kurt works inside the oasis borders, isn't he?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then, you have nothing to worry about. Borders are safe. He would never be so stupid as going out on his own, am I right?” The man continues, looking at him straight into his eyes. “He will be back by the curfew. And if he's not, we will look for him tomorrow. Alright?”

“Sure, sir.”

Dave watches him leave and follows him with his eyes as he goes back to the darkening silhouette of the mall. Evening is approaching and Dave doesn't believe a single word the commander said. What he read on his face was neither calm nor the belief that Kurt is okay.

The commander already thinks the worst, as he usually does.

Dave can only hope Kurt really got lost during the afternoon and wait for him to show up at the noise of the hurricane siren set on the roof of the main building. It rings every day for ten minutes at five o'clock. People are supposed to get inside the borders of the oasis during this period time. If they don't, they stay outside, with all of the related undesired consequences.

Unfortunately, the siren comes and goes and there is no trace of Kurt. Dave waits for him on the border for ten minutes after the noise stopped, right next to the soldier who is going to mount guard tonight. The sun sets and he has to acknowledge the fact that Kurt is out there and that he is probably in danger. He meets the commander's eyes for a brief moment.

For the man, his boyfriend is already dead.

“Me and the rescue squad will look for him first thing in the morning. I'm sure he got lost and he hid somewhere safe,” the commander says. His words sound reassuring, but his hand on Dave's shoulder invites him to be strong, which is something Dave is not willing to do at all, for the moment. You only are strong when there is something to pull through. But Kurt is okay.

He nods to the commander, though. He doesn't want him to think he has something in mind, because he actually does.


Going out is easier than he has thought.

There are just two soldiers along the perimeter. The commander has no men to spare and they all have to rest at night to be ready the morning after. Night shifts are very short and soldiers change continuously, so everybody gets to sleep but the borders are covered the whole night through.

Dave knows the routine because he has been studying it for months, planning as he was to enter the squad.

The oasis is a circle. Each guard walks half of it. They meet at the center of every semi-circle every forty-five minutes, for four times. Then, two other soldiers come to take their place. So once every hour, half of the perimeter is clear. Maybe not long enough to get inside the oasis if you are a brainless creature only driven by hunger, but enough for him to climb the metallic net and jump over it.

He is all dressed up in black, which makes him feel totally stupid, but apparently action heroes in movies are right. Black clothes work just fine when you need to hide in the shadows, and they are many tonight since it's crescent moon.

He waits for the guards meeting to happen, then slips the other way. It takes him at least five minutes to find the right place to jump over the net and land on the green grass outside. Only when he feels the cold metal of the net against his back he realizes that there is nothing protecting him here. Last time he was dangerously close to a zombie was almost a year ago, during the evacuation; when the army almost failed it.
The van in which he and ten other people were traveling to get to the oasis had to stop because the street was blocked by cars of people who had tried to exit the city by themselves. Most of them had died, and their cars were now stopping them from using the highway.

Zombies showed up all of a sudden, literally out of nowhere.

One or two of them just threw themselves against the half open window of the van on his side. If he closes his eyes, he can still see their putrescent claws trying to grab him and smell the stink coming from their rotting wounds. They say you can tell how long a zombie has been dead by its smell. Like you need a more specific time-of-death evaluation beyond the simple fact that what it's clearly a corpse is wondering about and wants to eat you.

Dave understands the need to find normalcy in the hell they are living in now. Analyzing everything, giving order to something that lacks of it helps people to cope with the walking dead and stuff, but sometimes things get too far. He doesn't care about smelling the dead to guess when they died. Finding a cure, that would return everything to normality.

He looks around and sees nothing but the vast expanse of the country around Lima. The mall is outside the city – or what's left of it – and that is what makes it a perfect shelter. Cities are good places to find supplies but they are also dangerous since the majority of deaths happened there and usually dead people just stay where they are – this at least hasn't changed – even if there is nothing left to eat or pray on. Also, cities are harder to defend, especially when you can't enclose just one portion of it without having the zombie colony of the whole neighborhood surrounding you night and day.

After their group has settled in the mall, the army has pulled a net all around it, creating the oasis. A smaller building has been used as a warehouse to stock supplies and then another one has been needed to keep people in quarantine. The place quickly became a tiny city with places to go and things to attend to. A small portion of land that has not been covered in concrete like what once was the mall parking lot has been recently prepared to try and grow some vegetables and wheat. The chance of being rescued and brought to a bigger and better supplied place somewhere in the country has got thinner and thinner every day, especially because there aren't places like that on Earth anymore. So their little colony might as well start to be all-sufficient.

Kurt has been assigned to the fields two weeks ago. He is not happy about it, but he has no other choice. Everybody needs to do something to contribute to the maintenance of the oasis and it's the commander the one deciding the tasks. Dave is basically a drudge. He helps whoever needs an extra pair of hands. It's a tiring job, especially because there is always something to take care of in a place like this. He would love to work in the fields, instead. It would be so much more relaxing.

Anyway, Kurt spends all day taking care of the delicate seeds they have planted recently, preparing new soil and building a greenhouse, so they will be able to grow something during winter. He should have been there today too, so Dave decides to start looking for him there. The fields are inside the net, but quiet far from the mall and you can't see them from it. This is not very safe. According to the commander's orders, nothing can be done out of sight-range from the mall. But they had to make an exception for the fields, because of the concrete everywhere else. So, it takes Dave almost twenty minutes to get there, given that he has to avoid the guards too.

The fields are silent and a little spooky too. Tomatoes are slowly growing and the shadows of their lines extend towards him like long, slim fingers making him shiver. He never got really used to all this silence. When hell hasn't broken loose yet, his house was in the town center and he would fall asleep at the whirring of cars passing by. Silence in the streets has slowly became the first sign of the disaster and he has grown afraid of it. The first nights at the oasis, he has slept with his mp3 player continuously turned on because the lack of sounds around him would make him imagine those creatures crawling just outside the windows.

He looks around, hoping to spot Kurt as quickly as possible, so they can be back home before dawn. He is not sure they will be able to go back in without being noticed and the idea of ending locked up in the quarantine warehouse with some possible infected strangers doesn't make him jump for joy, but this is a problem he will face only when he actually has Kurt with him.

Dave starts walking around, first checking the fields and then quickly moving toward the greenhouse, which is only half finished. Sometimes he murmurs Kurt’s name softly, but he doesn't hope it will help. He just needs to hear someone's voice. The greenhouse is made of wood and some old plastic sheets. They're trying to find some more during recons but, apparently, plastic is a luxury now and it's not easy to find.

Luckily, the door is not bolted. He opens it and quickly gets inside. The moon shines through the many holes in the roof so he can see quite clearly. The place is almost empty, except for some tables and a couple of plants that are too delicate to be left outside during the night. Having four walls around makes him feel safe enough as to call Kurt aloud but no one answers.

He doesn't know what keeps him inside the greenhouse. Why he doesn't turn around and go looking for Kurt somewhere else. He just keeps walking toward the end of the room where all the tools lockers are. He moves slowly, calling Kurt every now and then. Maybe his brain has already registered the sound moments before he actually hears it, but there's a soft sniffing somewhere in there.


The sniffing stops, but he has heard it. He reaches the first locker and stays close to it. He tries to calculate the chances that there is actually a zombie behind it. But they don't cry or hide. They just growl and scream.

“Who's there?” He asks again. “Kurt, is that you? It's Dave.”

This is when the sniffing starts again and from the little sob that comes right after, Dave just knows it's Kurt. He turns around the locker with a quick movement to win over his fear to end up face to face with some undead and for a moment he just stands there, staring at an empty wall. He needs to look down at the next sob to spot Kurt curled up on the floor.

The weight on his chest disappears almost immediately. He doesn't know what he would have done if he had to go back to the mall alone. “It's okay,” he says softly, even smiling a little. He squats next to him and strokes his hair ever so gently. “I am here now.”

Kurt says nothing. He just stands there, hugging his legs and looking down at his shoes covered in dirt. Some time ago, he wouldn't let it happen, but now he's got just one pair of shoes and planting vegetables doesn't exactly help in keeping them clean. Sometimes it is in the smallest details that you really see how the things around you changed.

“Why are you here?” Dave asks. “Didn't you hear the siren?”

Kurt nods slowly and sniffs. “Dave, I don't think you should be here, right now. You really should go back to the Mall. They will be looking for you.”

“Nobody knows I'm out,” Dave smiles proudly. “And I will think of a way for us both to sneak back in. Don't worry, we're gonna be fine.”

Kurt stares into nothing for the longest moment. He moves his lips but he makes no sound and it takes him quite some time to find the words. Enough time to make Dave worry. “I can't go back there.”

“Of course you can,” he says uncomfortably. Kurt's behavior is giving him the chills. “We just need to figure out–“

“I've been bitten.”

Those words make no sense to Dave. It is the red, swollen mark on Kurt's neck that gives them a meaning. The bite is undoubtedly human, 2 inches long, uneven and already turning purple at the edges. The skin has been torn apart, probably when Kurt has tried to escape. Dave grabs Kurt by his shoulder, careful not to touch the wound on his nape. He tries desperately to imagine a possibility where Kurt's wound has not been infected, but of course this is not possible. Every wound does. Especially one like this, so deep Dave can see the muscle. It must have bled a lot.

“How did it happen?”

Kurt takes his time to work around the strong dizziness he's been feeling since he's got bitten. His head spins and the wound is pounding ferociously. “I was working in the field,” he says. “I was digging the soil to plant those cauliflower seeds we found last week. It literally came out of nowhere. I... I don't know. There must be a hole in the fence, but I didn't see it. I just had the time to stand up and it grabbed me. I couldn't...”

Kurt stammers and then shuts up. There is not much else to say. The creature has grabbed him and then bit him. Sometimes they are so strong, you can't yank free no matter what you do. They have the same strength of those dogs that once they have sunk their fangs in you, you can't make them open their mouth unless you knock them down.

“Where is it, now? Is it in the oasis?” Dave asks.

Kurt shakes his head, his eyes fixed on the floor. “I killed it,” he says. “Good timing mine, hm? I thought about the hoe in my fucking hand when it was too late.” Kurt's voice comes out in a growl as he throws something he has been holding in his hand. The handle of the hoe hits the door of another locker, making an incredibly loud and tinkling sound. “This place was supposed to be safe. It was supposed to keep us alive.”

Dave hugs Kurt as he starts to cry and places a kiss on the top of his head. Kurt turns around and hides his face in Dave's chest, sobbing so hard, Dave feels his heart clench. “Everything is going to be alright,” he murmurs over and over in his hair.

Probably not. But right now, it feels like they can use every bit of hope they can get.


They manage to sneak back into the borders of the oasis easier than Dave thought. He guides Kurt down the same road he took to find him, and watches out for the soldiers patrolling the borders to pass through the wire net unnoticed.

Sneaking inside the actual mall is harder – the building hardly has any open spot, every exit is locked at night and they have to pass through a broken window, risking to be seen or heard and obviously to be wounded by the shards of glass still sticking out of the wooden window frame – but they manage to do that too, and Dave allows himself to breathe in and out again only when they’re safe in their room.

What they call “home” now, was once a small clothes shop. Every time somebody new arrives at the oasis and manages to pass the quarantine and become part of the community, one of the old shops gets cleaned up, its windows get covered with paper for some privacy and the room gets arranged as a dorm, with a couple of beds (or only mattresses, when beds can’t be found) and a drawer for clothes and underwear.

Kurt moved in with Dave after Burt’s death, and had been living with him ever since. He barely remembers the room he used to live in with his dad anymore. Everything surrounding the confusing days he passed through before and after Burt’s death seems blurred, and most of the time Kurt just doesn’t want to remember, and prays to forget.

He prays even now, sitting on the bed in a corner of the room, while Dave quickly fills an old bag with their clothes in silence. God, make me forget, he begs, looking at his boyfriend moving back and forth from the drawer to the bag on the ground and then back to the drawer, I know we’re not exactly in good terms, but please, just make me forget everything, and I swear, I swear…

“Kurt, stop it,” Dave says, and Kurt has to lift his gaze up on him without finishing his vow. Dave is looking at him with his eyes filled with tears, fists clenched around the fabric of an old checkered shirt he just rolled into a ball to make it fit better inside the bag, “If you keep crying like this, they’re gonna hear us.”

Kurt touches his own face – his cheeks are burning hot – and feels the tears under his fingertips. He really was crying. He didn’t notice.

“I’m sorry,” he says, swallowing his sadness with all the pain torturing him, “I don’t feel well.”

“I know,” Dave nods, sitting beside him and letting the shirt unfold on his lap as he holds one of Kurt’s hands between his, playing with his fingers to distract them both, “It’s going to get better, believe me. Once I’m finished with this,” he says, nodding at the bag still half empty on the floor, “I’m gonna sneak into the pharmacy and fetch some antibiotics. Then, I’m gonna clean up this mess on your neck, and we will be set.”

Kurt looks at him, resisting the urge to cry again. “Set for what?” he asks, “What are we gonna do, Dave? Fuck… I should just fucking kill myself,” he looks away, trying to free his hand from Dave’s hold, “I have no right to put you in this position. I don’t want to—”

“Would you just shut up?” Dave asks, and he doesn’t even sound angry, or frustrated. Just incredibly sad. He keeps holding Kurt’s hand, almost clinging to it as he keeps talking slowly. “I don’t want you to die.”

“It’s gonna happen, anyway,” Kurt says harshly, wiping away new tears forming at the corners of his eyes.

“I don’t care,” Dave insists, “I don’t want you to die. Not now, not like this. We were supposed to be happy.”

“We were never supposed to be happy, Dave,” Kurt shakes his head, “The fact alone that we fell in love with each other when the world was already fucked is enough to say that we were only supposed to end bad,” he looks away, biting at his lower lip as he tries to stop new tears from coming, “I honestly can’t imagine an ending more appropriate than this, actually.”

“Kurt, for Christ’s sake,” Dave almost moans in pain, tugging at Kurt’s hand to force the boy to look back up at him, “I don’t care about any of this shit. We were supposed to be happy because we fucking love each other, and that’s enough to hope for some fucking happiness.”

Kurt doesn’t answer, because all he would like to do now is to ask Dave where he lived up to now. If he noticed that people have died, that they keep dying, that they are dying even in this very moment, and that they will keep dying no matter what they do, or think, or how hard they try not to see.

“I don’t care if it’s impossible for you to survive,” Dave talks in whispers, playing with Kurt’s fingers again, “I wanna try, anyway. But I can’t, if we stay here. So we’ve got to go.”

Kurt tries to calm down, taming the wave of rage mounting in his chest with every sting of pain that makes the wound on his neck burn. “Where?” he asks in a low voice, leaning over Dave and resting his burning forehead against his shoulder, trying to find some refreshment against the mildly warm fabric of his t-shirt.

Dave takes a deep breath, searching for Kurt’s eyes. He thought about it for the whole time while they were walking back to the mall, and he only knows one other person, beside him, who wouldn’t be able to kill Kurt on the spot after he knew he had been bitten. “Blaine,” he answers in a weary sigh, holding Kurt’s hand.

Kurt backs off a little, shaking his head. “No, Dave,” he whines, “We can’t. I’m already putting you in danger, and that’s enough. We can’t drag Blaine into this. He doesn’t deserve it.”

“It’s our only hope,” Dave insists with a sigh, “He lives alone, he has a house of his own, he’s not subject to the rules of an oasis. And he loves you, Kurt, almost as much as I do. He’s going to help us. We have to go there.”

Kurt lets out a soft sob, covering both his eyes with his hands. “This is so unfair,” he murmurs, shaking his head, but he can’t say he’s really surprised about it. After all, life often is.


Dave tries to be as quick as he can, though he has to move carefully, because he told Kurt to wait for him outside, near the parking lot reserved to the jeeps used by the army. He had to give his boyfriend something to do, because he knew that, if he left him alone to wait for him in their room, he would have gone out of his mind. Kurt is too nervous, too scared and too sad to think straight. Dave understands him, it’s not like he himself wouldn’t find more comfort in just letting himself go and cry his heart out until it remains nothing of it, but he has to keep his mind clear. He has to think. He’s got too many things to do.

The pharmacy door’s lock opens with a soft click, and Dave holds his breath as he opens the glass door and sneaks inside. The pharmacy is dark and silent, and Dave walks between the stands searching for everything that could be useful, trying not to lose too much time deciding if he should take something or not, and how much he should take of it. The pharmacy’s not patrolled, usually, but it’s located in a very central spot of the mall, and it’s almost four in the morning. Soon, the first people are going to wake up and start walking around the building, and Dave can’t risk to be seen.

Plus, they can’t steal a car with the sun up in the sky. They have to do it now, and they have to do it quick.

Dave grabs some antibiotics, a couple of rollerbandage, disinfectant and some band-aids, he puts it all in a plastic bag and then moves to the fast-food they use as a kitchen and a dining hall. There’s not much that can be eaten without cooking it first, but he manages to grab some bread, assorted fruit and a couple of bottles of water. That should be enough for their trip – he puts everything in another plastic bag and then walks away.

When he manages to pass through the broken window and reach the parking lot, it’s already half past four. The sun won’t be up for another hour or so, but he still has to medicate Kurt and then find a way to leave the oasis, so he doesn’t have time to spare.

“Kurt?” he calls out softly, wandering through the labyrinth made of all the parked cars, “Where are you?”

“I’m here,” Kurt answers, leaning out of one of the cars’ windows and waving slowly. He’s shivering all over.

Dave approaches him walking faster, and kisses him on his forehead. It’s burning. “You chose this?” he asks, nodding to the car.

Kurt shrugs, looking away. “I was cold, I waited outside as long as I could, but then I just had to get in. I just chose the closest car.”

Dave nods, looking at Kurt as he moves from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s one, and only then he throws the plastic bags inside the car, and jumps to gets in through the glassless window. “Here, take one of this,” he says, reaching for one of the plastic bags and retrieving the antibiotics, “For your fever. And then take your shirt off.”

Kurt swallows a pill with a sip of water, chocking a bit. “I can hardly swallow,” he says, massaging his throat with his open hand, “It hurts.”

“Be strong,” Dave encourages him, brushing his cheek with his index finger. “Now, come on, take that shirt off and let me take a look at the wound.”

Kurt nods and puts the remaining pills and water away, slowly unbuttoning his shirt. He looks down at his own hands, feeling more ashamed and embarrassed than he did when he and Dave had sex for the first time. It was a hot night, months ago. They had drank some beer to gather enough courage, and when Dave had asked Kurt to take his shirt off he did it with hungry, shiny eyes.

Now, he asks for the same thing, but his eyes are dull, only sadness filling them. The look that Kurt used to long for is already gone, washed away by tears.

Kurt folds the shirt and puts it away on the backseat, and then moves closer to Dave, showing his neck. The wound is swollen, bright red around the little cuts made by the teeth of the zombie who bit him. The circular area surrounding them is purple, almost black around the edges. It looks bad. And it smells even worse, when Dave bends over to lightly sniff at it.

He sighs, parting from Kurt to fetch one of the plastic bags. He retrieves the bandage and the disinfectant and kisses Kurt on his forehead, trying to reassure him. “Now this is going to burn,” he warns him, pouring some disinfectant on a square of folded bandage and starting to clean Kurt’s wound out. The boy hisses, clutching his fists around the fabric of Dave’s t-shirt and holding onto it. “I’m sorry,” Dave says, paying more attention to what he’s doing, trying not to hurt him too much.

Kurt shakes his head, breathing slowly in and out. “It’s okay.”

It doesn’t take much, anyway. There’s only so much Dave can do, a couple of pills and some disinfectant can’t do any miracle, and Dave knows it. He knows there are ways to slow down the change, he knows the cleaning the wound every day helps, as well as taking antibiotics and eating simple, healthy food, but he also knows it’s going to happen, anyway. Kurt will die, and then undie, and there’s nothing he can do to stop the process.

He covers the wound with a bandage and fixes it up to Kurt’s skin with a couple of band-aids, and then parts from him with a sigh, retrieving an apple from the plastic bag in the backseat. “Eat,” he says, passing the fruit to Kurt.

He instantly makes a face, backing off a little. “I’m not hungry,” he answers, shaking his head, but Dave insists, holding one of his hands between his fingers and forcing him to take the apple.

“You’ve got to eat,” he insists, firmly but gently making Kurt’s fingers close around the rounded fruit, “It’s gonna keep you strong. And alive. Please, Kurt,” he says, and he’s got tears in his eyes, and Kurt can’t really say no to that.

He sighs, taking a bite of the apple and settling better on his seat. He can already see the sun lightening up the sky from behind the mountains on the horizon. The light of a new dawn never scared him that much.

He’s so concentrated in watching the sun slowly coming up and eating his forcefed breakfast that he only notice Dave started the engine when the car is already moving. He turns to his boyfriend, eyes filled with surprise as curiosity shakes away the bad taste the apple has on his tongue. “You started it,” he says in a low voice, blinking and swallowing another bit of the apple, “How?”

Dave grins, shrugging. “I made it work,” he answers, “When things started to get really ugly, down in the city, before I arrived to the oasis, I lost my father soon. That much you already know,” he explains, as Kurt nods, easily remembering how sad and weary Dave was the day he arrived at the mall, alone, “I had to learn how to survive, someway. My neighborhood wasn’t safe, so I ran, and when I couldn’t run anymore, well…” he shrugs again, barely smiling at the memory of his first clumsy attempts to make cars work like he always saw in the movies. It actually took some time for him to understand he could start engines that way, but he couldn’t do it if he kept making random wires contact. He had to find the right ones.

“You still surprise me,” Kurt comments with a small, weary smile on his dry lips, “I thought nothing in the world could anymore.”

Dave turns to him, chuckling softly. “You surprise me too,” he says, mocking him a little, “You managed to eat your apple.”

Kurt looks down to the applecore lying on his palm and smiles, but he can’t help tears from falling. “Yeah, so it seems,” he says, his voice unsteady as he sobs softly.

Dave holds out a hand to him, brushing his cheek, and Kurt leans on it with a soft sigh, closing his eyes. “You’re strong,” Dave tells him, and Kurt can hear in his voice he really believes it, “You’re gonna make it.”

It’s a lie. But Kurt needs something to believe in, and this lie sounds so painfully sweet to him he has no other choice than to blindly believe it too.


Dave has been driving since the break of dawn at a very high speed to put as much distance as possible between them and the mall. By his reckoning, it is going to take the search and rescue squad at least a couple of hours to realize they are both gone. First, someone has to report Dave's missing too and before doing it, they have to search for him in every possible place, because the last thing the squad needs are false alarms. Sure, the commander knows Kurt has gone missing and so he is probably going to put two and two together and understand Dave has gone after him but even with that, Dave hopes they have enough head start to reach Blaine's house.

They are not going to be safe there, especially if Dave's wrong and Blaine doesn't want to take care of Kurt together with him. But since Dave is pretty sure he will, then at least they will have a place to stay, somewhere to hide Kurt while the disease takes its course. Dave is aware this is desperate. There is no way out from the disease and the sooner he will cope with that the better. Still, he wants to give Kurt a chance; even if it is just the chance to live a little longer. He wants to keep his death at bay as long as possible. Nobody really knows how long a sick person can be kept alive and self-aware before the deterioration calls for a killing. Maybe they will be able to keep Kurt with them long enough for some doctors somewhere to find a cure. Who knows, it can even happen.

Kurt is dozing on and off from sleep. Sometimes he leans on the window and just drifts off for a few minutes, sometimes Dave turns his head to look at him and finds him looking sadly at the street beyond the windshield. His temperature is still too high. Dave knows this is not good. If the pills don't work, Kurt must sweat it off. Another reason why they need to get to Blaine's as soon as possible. Taking Kurt away from an all in all healthy place won't make him any good.

“How do you feel?” He asks him, smiling a little.

Kurt feels Dave's eyes upon him, but he doesn't turn his head. “Like someone who is going to die soon.”

Dave tightens his grip on the wheel and tries to stay calm. Kurt always reacts angrily or sarcastically to things he doesn't like, and this is the worst of them. So he can allow him a little anger, as long as he copes with his efforts to keep him alive. “Whatever is going to happen, it won't happen any time soon,” he says.

Kurt stays quiet for a moment and then he just smiles a little, but it is not a happy smile. Actually, it's the saddest thing Dave has ever seen. “I appreciate that.”

“Appreciate what?”

“That you never say that I am not gonna die,” Kurt answers. “That would be patronizing me, and it just wouldn't work.”

Dave doesn't want to answer to that. Since the moment he found him, he has calibrated the things to say and how to say them. He knows it would be foolish to tell him everything is going to be alright, because it won't and they both are aware of that. However, he hates telling him lies as much as the truth, because things said aloud become suddenly too real to handle. So, instead of focusing on the worst part, that is the future awaiting them, he is determined to stick with the things they can do to avoid it as long as possible.

“I think we are getting close,” he says, changing the subject all together. “His house should be around here, I guess.”

“I don't know,” Kurt shows the first sign of real interest, sitting up straight to give a better look to the countryside. “How far are we from Worthington?”

“We just passed it,” Dave says. “That was actually one of the few roadsigns still standing.”

“Then, it must be around here. Whenever I drove to his house, I would always look for Worthington, so I'd know I didn't get lost.”

That was the past. A long lost one, where a zombie outbreak was really just the biggest fear of a bunch of characters in a horror movie. Back then, Kurt's biggest problem was how to win Nationals and had Rachel shut up about it. His whole world revolved around the show choir rehearsals, French tests and a hipster, talented boyfriend, with whom he was proudly fighting the sexual orientation prejudice in his school.

Kurt and Blaine were a couple for a little more than year, then things started to change between them, and they slowly grew out of each other in a very safe and rather not painful way. One day they had just stopped being in love with each other and gone back to be just friends. Back then, Dave was nowhere to be seen.

He and Kurt met again a few months after Kurt and Blaine broke up, about the same time the patient zero was found. That's why Kurt says they were doomed from the beginning

It wasn't love at first sight.

Actually, it wasn't for Kurt. Dave had loved him for most of his years at McKinley, so when he saw him again after being away in another school for almost a year, he wasn't surprised to find himself still madly in love with him like the first day. Kurt was simply marvelous – quite unbearable sometimes, but still very charming – and now that he had worked out his own issues and coped with the fact that he was indeed gay, Dave could afford himself the luxury to be in love without feeling guilty, which led to him being friends with Kurt as a way to know him better. Something he hadn't be able to do when he was still struggling with his own sexuality.

Their love has come slowly, one baby step at the time while the world was heading towards its end. Sometimes when he thinks about it, Dave finds it incredible romantic. Like they were getting together no matter what. They survived both their families' death, the hunger and the fear, the knowledge of them being now completely alone in this world and forced to live on their own. At some point, it has appeared like nothing could stop them. Like they were ready to survive everything.

It makes him cringe now, knowing it's not everything, after all.

As he looks at Kurt, who is now busy trying to make out the silhouette of Blaine's house, Dave thinks about their first real kiss. It always makes him smile because there is nothing sweet about it. In fact, they were arguing badly over something really stupid. They were both stressed for a lot of other things too – something you can somehow expect from two teens caught up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse – and Dave was also very attracted to Kurt's lips curling. So, what happened was that they screamed at each other for the longest time, until Dave got fed up with Kurt's nonsense and kissed him, pushing him into the wall behind. When they parted, he was expecting a kick in the balls at least and was prepared for it. But Kurt just stared into his eyes very angrily for a moment, and then pulled him down by grabbing his hair.

They never stopped since then.

If he tries to remember what was the argument about, Dave can't quite recall. But he bets it was football. They always fight about football, since Kurt finds it one of the things the world can do without now, while Dave strongly agree with the line of thoughts of the search and rescue squad that uses sport as a way to blow off some steam at the end of the day. He plays with them every once in a while. Or at least, he did.

“Kurt?” He says, wondering if this could be a good way to make conversation. “Do you remember what we were arguing about right before our first kiss at the oasis?”

Kurt doesn't answer. He just calls his name. “Dave...”

“I can't remember. It was football, wasn't it?”


Dave finally turns to him and finds him holding his head against the windows of the jeep. “What?”

“Stop the car.”

“Did you find the house?” Dave asks, looking around. But there is nothing around here. Just the desolate outline of a countryside that was already as unadorned as it is now.

“Just stop the car! Please.”

That is when Dave hears the desperate tone in his voice and hits the brakes. The car has barely the time to stop moving that Kurt opens the door and just lets himself roll out of it, like he has not enough strength to stand up and get down properly. He falls on his knees and throws up, making the most hideous sound Dave has ever heard.

“Kurt! Kurt, are you okay?” Dave runs around the car and kneels next to him, holding his head as he bends over again and vomits something black, gelatinous and bloody that doesn't look like what he just ate at all and for this reason it is so much more worrying. Dave is not a doctor, but he knew the disease as much as everyone else, so he can tell it's too soon for Kurt's internal organs to be shutting down; but it's the infection nonetheless and probably the very first reaction to the shock of the bite, aside from the fever. Something that must be taken seriously.

He has hoped it would start at Blaine's house.

With every retch comes the sound again. It's like whatever stuff Kurt is pushing out of his body is making a hell of a mess along his throat to keep coming. Kurt can't keep it down, but the effort of throwing it up is giving him pain. The sobs that cut his breath every in between retches are enough proof of that.

When he finally calms down enough to sit down on the burning tar of the road, Dave opens his arms and Kurt immediately crawls into them, hiding himself in his embrace.

“It's okay, babe. It's over,” Dave says, trying to sooth him as the sobs become hiccups and then tears.

Kurt's feverish body is shivering against his own and he can't do anything but holding him closer, hoping it is enough, for the moment.


Blaine has lost both his parents during the outbreak. He doesn’t even know how it happened, he just knows they were on the missing person list that the general in command of the Dalton oasis has read to all the living and healthy people assembled in the hall of the school the day it was finally possible to count and identify who made it there and who didn’t.

His parents didn’t.

After a month of being considered missing, the army usually took you for dead and stopped searching for you. They would take down the photos and the names from the wall showing missing people so to remind to both soldiers and civilians who could still be found during patrols outside the oasis’ perimeter, to replace that information with the ones regarding the newly missed people, and if one of the photos was of somebody you held dear to your heart, you just had to accept it.

Missing people almost never came back.

Blaine has lived with this knowledge since the first day, so he already knew what to do: he had to leave the oasis and come back home, to take back into his life the only thing that remained of his family.

And he has done it.

When he sees the jeep approaching down the dirt road that connects the highway with his house, he can’t help but frown, worried, as he leans against the shovel he was using to cover his garden with fertilizer. His two cows have been generous with him, and even if they hadn’t he would have had to use whatever they could give to him, since he run out of chemical fertilizer more than six months ago and he needs his garden to grow vegetables fast.

It’s one of the army’s cars, and he’s annoyed to see it as always: first of all, he doesn’t like to be distracted while he’s working in his garden. The food serves not only for him, but also for the other families still living here in the countries in their old farms. Sometimes, when they can’t live only on what they’re producing, Blaine helps them, because his garden, his cows and the chickens are healthy, and he’s alone. He sometimes has food to spare, and he does it willingly.

He always thought that this farm was nothing more than one of the countless, silly obsessions of his father, one of the most hated by his mother, also, but after he lost them both he knew there was no other place he could accept to live. He’s been living here for more than a year now, and he has no intention to come back to the oasis, despite what the soldiers that every now and then come visiting him – both to rest during their long trips from an oasis to another and to check on him – tell him. This is his house. This is where he chose to live. His survival begins and ends with this place. If he loses the farm, he can just as well die.

That’s why he walks towards the street wearing his best annoyed face, still holding the shovel in one hand, ready to use it. He already had to, in the past, when a group of soldiers – probably judging him out of his mind – tried to force him to come back.

He understands something’s off when he tries to see the uniforms the men must be wearing, and fails. They’re wearing normal clothes and that can be easily seen even from the distance still parting them, so they can’t be soldiers.

Then, why are they driving that jeep? Why are they driving at all, actually, and unescorted, moreover?

“What…” he starts asking, protecting his eyes from the sunlight with his free hand, but he stops abruptly when the jeep’s finally close enough to recognize who’s driving it.

It’s Dave. And there’s Kurt by his side.

When Blaine sees them, his heart instantly starts to beat faster. They shouldn’t be here, they shouldn’t even be traveling, they should be safe in their oasis, working and living their life behind the protected borders of the mall. The last time he heard from them, through a letter that the soldiers had delivered to him during one of their visits, they seemed happy, ready to move on with their lives or what was left of them.

They just shouldn’t be here now, that’s all Blaine manages to think when the car stops on the driveway and Dave comes out of it in a quick jump.

“Dave!” he calls out for him, and if he didn’t already suspect that what had brought them here couldn’t be anything but something bad, the tense, worried expression on his friend’s face would have made it clear in just one look. “What happened?”

Dave comes closer to him and grabs him by his shoulders, squeezing a little. “Blaine, I need to talk to you,” he says in a whisper.

Blaine tries to look past his shoulders, to see what Kurt’s up to. He lifts himself up on his tiptoes, but Dave’s hands on his shoulders bring him down again. “What’s happening, Dave?” Blaine insists, now looking at him with a sort of desperate anxiety in his eyes, “Why are you here?”

Dave bites at his lower lip, trying to find the right words to tell him. There’s no such a thing, though, and Dave knows that, as much as he can keep searching for them, he will never succeed, so he’s ready to just bluntly tell his friend what happened, when he hears a strangled noise from behind his back.

He turns around, and Kurt’s climbing down the jeep, his body shaking violently, his legs unsteady. “Dave,” he calls out, his voice barely managing to escape his inflamed throat, “I can’t…”

He doesn’t manage to tell what he can’t do anymore, because he falls on the ground unconscious, the burning red mark on his neck perfectly visible even from where Dave and Blaine stand.

And there’s no need for explanations anymore.


When Kurt starts to wake up again, Blaine and Dave are talking. He can hear their voices, but they sound so distant he couldn’t get a word not even if he wanted to.

Right now, he doesn’t want to, anyway. He can’t open his eyes, his eyelids seem so heavy he could just as well be dead, for what he knows.

The mere thought is enough to trigger him into remembering how he felt right before he fainted. He doesn’t know how long he has slept, it feels like ages, but the feeling is still so strong it could only be a couple of minutes.

He couldn’t bring himself to breath. Something so simple, something that he has always done automatically for his entire life, and all of a sudden he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t even remember how, or believe that up to that moment he had done it without even thinking about it.

His chest wouldn’t move. The air wouldn’t pass through his nose and mouth. His lungs just wouldn’t pull it in.

It seems over now – he’s breathing regularly, he can feel it, he hears himself do it – but it was terrifying.

Kurt realizes he never saw anybody change into an undead, so he doesn’t really know what it’s like. Back at the oasis, nobody asked, mainly because nobody wanted to know, and secondly because to every unnecessary question the commander answered always in the same way: you don’t need to know, so why should I tell you?

He actually agreed with the commander’s reasons. They were all terrified enough already without knowing the details. But now that he’s in this situation, well, he misses the details the most. He wants to know what’s going to happen to him, how’s the changing going to be, how it’s going to feel. If he’s gonna feel the pain, if stopping to breathe will be as hard and painful as it felt before.

Because if it is, if it’s gonna be this hard, Kurt’s not sure he wants to go through this. He’s not sure he doesn’t want to take the easy way and just leave painlessly and gracefully while he still can.

“I can’t believe it happened,” Blaine says. Kurt still can’t open his eyes, but at least he’s starting to focus enough to understand what they’re talking about, “How are you feeling?”

“What kind of a question is it, Blaine?” Dave answers, sighing sadly, “I’m broken. Fuck… I don’t even know what to do. I don’t know why I came here, I don’t know what I’m hoping for. I just needed to take him to a safe place, you know?”

Kurt finally manages to open his eyes, at least a bit. In the darkness of the room, Blaine and Dave can’t see him, but since they’re sitting beside the candlelight he can see them.

Blaine nods, but his voice is sad and low when he speaks. “You know, though, that there’s no such a thing as a safe place when you’ve been bitten. Eventually…”

“I don’t wanna hear anything about it, okay?” Dave interrupts him, waving a hand in mid air and shaking his head, “I just can’t bring myself to think about it. Whatever it’s going to happen, I swear, I’m gonna take it like a man, but right now… it’s still too soon.”

Blaine holds out a hand and pats him on his shoulder, trying to reassure him. “I understand,” he nods, forcing a little smile, “I do, really. I’m gonna help you. As much as I can, I’m gonna help you both.”

Dave looks at him, and in the dim light of the candle Kurt can see tears trembling in his eyes. “Do you mean we can stay?”

Blaine nods again, and Kurt sees one of the tears in Dave’s eyes roll free down his cheek. He instantly turns around, not to show Blaine he’s crying, but Blaine says “ow, man, come on, you know you can feel free to cry with me around, it’s okay,” and the next thing Kurt sees is his boyfriend turning around and leaning against Blaine’s shoulder, crying his heart out while he tries to keep his voice low, so not to disturb his sleep.

Kurt wants to cry too, but he’s got no shoulders to cry on right now. And since Dave’s trying so hard not to wake him up, he think he should at least reward his efforts going back to sleep again, so that they’re not in vain.

Not these too, at least.


They settle down, somehow. Blaine gives them a room – his parents’ old room, since he doesn’t use it anyway – and offers them discretion and protection.

Some days are good. Some days, Kurt feels better. He wakes up and comes out of the bed and helps them to take care of the house, the garden and the animals. And he laughs and jokes, and if it wasn’t for the bandages to change, the pills to swallow and the sporadic indispositions, Dave wouldn’t even remember he was bitten.

When he’s not sick, Kurt’s just like his old Kurt. He’s witty and snarky and he can talk for hours about how much he hates zombies for killing Vivienne Westwood. “Really,” he says, “I could forgive them everything, but not that! Just look at what I’m forced to wear,” he comments, pointing a finger against the simple t-shirt and anonymous jeans he brought with himself from the mall.

When he’s not sick, Kurt’s still funny and always smiling. He still answers like his old self. He’s still able to make a face and a disgusted noise when Blaine cooks lion’s meat for dinner – a lot of animals set themselves free from every zoo in the world soon after the outbreak, now they can be found roaming freely almost everywhere, the world divided equally between the zombies and them – and tell him “I can’t believe it, Blaine, you just killed Simba, how can you live with this?”, and then laugh when Blaine answers “I don’t care, he killed half of my chickens, he deserved it.”

When he’s not sick, Kurt still recognizes Dave, and still talks to him like he cares about him. About them. They still sleep together, they hug. Kurt asks for kisses and Dave covers him in them, on his forehead, on his cheeks, on his temples, wherever he can safely reach. Then Kurt cries because he wants more and he can’t have it, and Dave wants to cry too because he wants just the same thing and he can’t have it either, but he doesn’t. Dave never cries, not in front of Kurt, anyway. Especially when Kurt’s not sick. Kurt doesn’t have to see him sad. He doesn’t need it. The only thing Kurt needs is to be told that everything’s gonna be alright, that he’s gonna have all the help and support he needs. And this, as long as they’re together, is never gonna change.

When Kurt’s not sick, everything’s easier. Dave can still imagine, pretend, that things are just like they were a month ago.

But then, some days are not so good at all. Days in which Kurt wakes up and his eyes are empty. Days when Dave can’t sleep, he lies there beside his boyfriend listening to the feeble sound of his breath getting weaker and weaker, and then disappear, and then start again, leaving him in tear because Kurt didn’t even notice.

This would probably be the worst thing of them all, if finding a worst thing among the others was actually possible. That sometimes Kurt doesn’t even notice. That he’s changing so violently, and there are days in which he’s not even aware of it. Days in which he kneels on the floor and keeps throwing up blood and rotten insides for hours, and then, after he finished, he just stands up and lies down on the bed, and his eyes are just as cold and empty as they were before.

There are days – horrible, horrible days – in which he growls and shakes and snarls so much they can’t keep him in the house, because somebody could hear him. Those days are the worst. The days in which Blaine, with his eyes filled with tears and with shaking hands, grabs the keys of the basement and leads them there. And Dave has to chain Kurt to the wall and stay away from him, guarding him like a rabid dog from the distance, to prevent him from setting himself free and bite everything on his way.

There are days that are so hard to pull through, that Dave wishes he had the guts to just kill Kurt.

Days like this.

Kurt started bleeding in the middle of the night, and he hasn’t stop up to now. He has bled from his nose and gums and ears and eyes for hours. His fingers are rotting one after the another. They keep them wrapped in bandages soaked in disinfectant, but it’s not enough. Nothing’s ever enough.

They started bleeding too and Dave had to unfold them to check on them. Kurt didn’t want to look, and he made the right choice. They’re starting to come off his hand. Swallowing all his tears, Dave could onl fold them up in new bandages, without telling him anything.

They didn’t have to bring him to the basement, today. Kurt was himself. He was just falling apart.

Now, he’s sleeping. They had to give him something to help him, because he kept murmuring that his insides were giving him hell, and after he took the pill he fell asleep almost instantly, drained from the day of suffering.

Dave walks in the kitchen and lets himself go on one of the chairs surrounding the table. Sitting right in front of him, Blaine is meddling with the radio, searching through the frequencies to find the right one.

“How’s he?” he asks, concentrating on the little numbers appearing on the led.

Dave shrugs, resting his head over his crossed arms on the table. “Asleep. Finally.”

“And how are you?” Blaine asks, this time looking at him with that spark of compassion in his eyes that Dave’s starting to love and hate at the same time.

“Fine,” he answers. Blaine knows it’s a lie, anyway. “You didn’t find it yet?”

“Almost there,” Blaine says, and soon after that the buzzing coming from the radio starts to turn into words. They both listen closely, in perfect silence.

“To whoever still lives and listens out there, this is the seventy-second bulletin from Toronto oasis,” a pause, some buzzing, Blaine meddles with the knob to set the frequency better and, in a couple of seconds, the metallic voice coming from the device is filling the silent air of the kitchen again. “The alive population has decreased of another 2.5% in the last seven days. Paris, Shizuoka and New Delhi are lost. The last oasis fell on Monday, Thursday and a couple of hours ago, as far as we know. The British Museum oasis in London is out of food. If there’s a nearby oasis that is getting this message: they need supplies now.”

Dave sighs, covering his face with both his hands and rubbing it to keep himself from burst into tears. “Why do you even listen to this shit?” he asks, “It’s always bad news.”

Blaine shushes him softly, waving a hand in mid-air. The voice starts talking again. “The fifth clinical trial for the cure has ended yesterday. The result was a failure. The cure isn’t working yet. I repeat: the fifth clinical trial for the cure has ended yesterday, and the result was a failure. The cure isn’t working yet.” The man speaking takes a couple of seconds of silence, holding his breath. “God…” he says after a while, “We’re almost there. It doesn’t work, but it will. Just… hold on. Whoever you are, wherever you’re lost… hold on.”

The communication is cut off right after, and the voice fades away to make room for the low, regular buzzing of the radio.

“Yeah,” Dave snorts, standing up and turning the radio off with a frustrated slap, “Yeah, that was definitely worth listening,” he says, leaving the kitchen and walking upstairs.

Blaine sighs, putting the radio away and then sitting back on the chair, rubbing his eyes and then resting his chin on his palm as he looks at the dark night outside the window.

They have to hold on. If Dave can’t, Blaine’s going to have to do it for him too.


When the soldiers come is past lunchtime. Dave and Blaine have spent good part of the morning tending to Kurt, who's not having a good day at all. He has woken up feeling sick already and thrown up the little he had for dinner the night before. Since then, he has been restless and nervous like never before. Everything seems to bother him a great deal, resulting in fits of rage or tears, depending on how much pain is involved.

Dave had really hoped there would not be any visitors today because they are the last thing Kurt need right now, but of course the soldiers' jeep shows up behind the hill like it has done for the past six weeks.

Since the Lima Oasis found out Dave and Kurt were missing, not a day has passed without the soldiers coming over to ask Blaine if he has seen anything. Dave doesn't know if it's because they suspect something or if they are just sure he is going to see them sooner or later.

When it happens, Dave and Kurt have to go in the basement, and be as quite as possible until the patrol squad goes away. Dave is so sick and tired of doing this. He wonders why the command has decided to grow a heart just now and keeps looking for them instead of giving up right away like he has always done for every missing person since the colony's institution.

“They're coming. You better get going,” Blaine says, watching from behind the curtains of the kitchen's window. He takes the shovel next to the door to give them the impression he has something to do and he can't waste too much time with them. “I'll try to keep them out of the house. You just keep quiet.”

Kurt is sitting on a chair and he shivers badly. “I don't wanna go downstairs,” he says. He's nervously passing his fingers through his hair and every time he does, a lock of it comes away.

Dave quickly crosses the room and put a little canvas hat on Kurt's head, both to stop him from tearing at his hair and not to see his scalp quickly revealing underneath it. Sometimes he feels the only one worrying about things like these and he doesn't know if this is a good thing or not. “I know, honey. But it won't be long, I promise.”

“We just got out from there,” he protests.

Last time they got in the basement was yesterday. Dave closes his eyes and tries to bear the wave of sadness that clings to his heart and squeezes it at the thought that Kurt is confusing the events, now. He has been suspecting it all along, because Kurt is having problems keeping track of time lately, but he had just hoped it was the pain confusing him, not his mind losing its way in the disease.

“It wont' be long, babe. I swear,” he repeats. He gently grabs his wrist and takes him toward the door that leads to the basement. Eventually, Kurt obeys and follows him. As they close the door, they hear the jeep stop and Blaine greet the soldiers in the most cheerful way he manages to pull out.

The basement welcomes them with nothing but foul air and cold drafts. They brought in there some furniture from one of the upstairs rooms that nobody uses, but it is not enough to make this place cozy.

Kurt walks around and he hugs himself, his eyes glued to the floor to avoid looking at the chain on the walls and at the stains on the floor, each marking one of his previous attacks.

Dave leans on the door and listens. He can tell Blaine is on the porch, casually leaning against one of the columns to block the entrance of the house. He hears him pointing out to the soldiers what a beautiful day it is and that they haven't seen any zombie today. They actually never see zombies around here. The house is too deep in the country for the nearest city's zombies to venture there.

“Dave, I'm sick,” Kurt murmurs, hugging himself more. His teeth are chattering and he feels awfully tired. The simple act of walking is wearing him out but he doesn't wanna stop moving because he is not sure he will be able to stand up again if he just sit down for a moment. “I'm really sick.”

The soldiers are talking too much. Ten minutes have passed and they are still here. Dave didn't hear the main door open again and their voices are muffled, so they are still outside, but he doesn't like them being around for so long. He turns to see Kurt walking around restlessly and swinging his head a little obsessively, which is always a bad sign. “Why don't you go over there and sit on the couch,” he suggests, whispering. “You can take a nap, so time will pass more quickly.”

“I am sick,” Kurt repeats. He doesn't really speak, though. He just murmurs the first one or two words, then goes on mumbling the rest of the sentence, if there is any. Dave knows what it means when Kurt starts doing that and he can't really let it happen now.

“Oh God, no.” Dave goes down the stairs as quickly but silently as he can. “Listen, babe, listen to me.”

Kurt turns to him, following the sound of his voice but when he looks at him, his eyes are empty. Dave can see the light in them dimming by the second. “Something is not right,” he says, completely lost in whatever time or place is in his mind. “I feel strange.”

“I know you do, but listen. Listen to me, Kurt, please. Just, focus on me. ” Dave takes him by his shoulders and gently forces him to turn. He tries to keep eye contact with him, but Kurt always looks away, his head hanging like it is too heavy for him to keep it up. “Kurt, I know it's hard but please, just look at me. Do that for me, okay? Just fight it back a little longer. As soon as they're gone, I will let you rest. I promise you.”

Kurt whines, giving up on words all together. He just stands there, barely moving except for the constant swinging. These are the worst moments because suddenly he looks exactly like one of those creatures, even though he has been talking and moving just the moment before. His brain just turns off for a while, sometimes several minutes at a time, and the periods are getting longer and longer. It makes Dave's heart hurt so much seeing him like that.

He brings himself to hug him and strokes his skinny back and pretends to ignore the feeling of his spine getting more and more distinct every day. Dave is ashamed and he hates himself for thinking this, but Kurt is starting to gross him out, let alone scare him. His body is deteriorating, there aren't other words to say it, which means Kurt is not only falling a part but he smells too. What it has been only a vague foul odor around his neck, it is now expanding to the rest of him and it is as bad as it can be. It would remind Dave what is going on, even if it weren't so painfully clear. Sometimes a voice in the back of his head tells him this must be the limit, that the disease will not let him go further without getting dangerous for him too. But he just shuts it down and keeps going.

“Everything is going to be alright,” Dave says, looking at the door above them, swinging back and forth together with him, so at least he can pretend this is something they are doing on purpose. “Just hang in there a little longer. Blaine is sending them away.”

But Blaine is not. Actually, he goes back inside and asks the soldiers if he can offer them something to drink and he does that in a loud, clear voice, going on forever about homemade orange juice to make sure Dave can hear him an know what is going on.

“Shit. Why can't they just leave?” He whispers.

Dave is about to gently move Kurt to the couch when he suddenly becomes aware of the humming sound he is making. It is actually a low growl, coming from the back of Kurt's throat and giving him the chills. “Please, Kurt, not now. Please, just—”

But it is useless. For the moment, he is gone.

Kurt snaps at him, growling louder. His eyes focus on him but they are empty. Dave is quick at grabbing both his wrists before he can jump at his neck and bite. At this point, it's fear more than caring that helps him restraining Kurt quickly. The chains are fastened about six feet from the ground and hang from there keeping Kurt from moving more than three feet away from the wall. Kurt doesn't understand it, anyway. He keeps pulling and pulling like if he is not even chained. Whatever force governs his mind right now, it only tells him to walk toward Dave. And he will until his body eventually shuts down and he falls asleep.

Hopefully or not – he doesn't even know anymore – Kurt will wake up himself again.

Dave passes a hand over his face. He feels tired as if he hasn't slept for ages. He knows Kurt is making too much noise right now and that if the soldiers hear him, they will come downstairs and put him down. But he doesn't know what to do and maybe, just maybe, a tiny part of him desperately wants to give up. If it happens like this, it is not too bad. It is not, is it?

Kurt's growls seem to grow louder and louder. They will come, he just knows they will, and then it will be over. He closes his eyes and covers his ears, realizing he doesn't want to see or hear what is about to happen. How bad is it that he won't do anything to stop them, but he has not the guts to watch?

Nonetheless, when they touch his shoulder, he springs on his feet and yells.

“Wait! Don't hurt him!”

Blaine smiles sadly at him. “Don't worry,” he murmurs. “They are gone.”

It takes Dave a few moments to realize what's going on. He stares blankly at Blaine's face and then looks around and sees Kurt hanging from the chains. He passed out. “What...?”

“You were zoning out, I guess.”

Dave rubs his eyes and tries to pull himself together again. “It's been a tough one.”

“I know.” Blaine sighs and then sits next to him on the couch. They stare into nothing for the longest moment, both avoiding Kurt's slouched figure. “Dave, I don't know how to say this, but... We really need to do something. We can't keep going on like this. It is not fair for anyone.”

Dave nods, slowly. His mouth opens and closes a few times before he can actually say something. “For a moment today, I thought I was ready to... you know,” he swallows hard. He can't even say the word, how can he go through with it? “But I'm not, Blaine. I look at him and I see what little is left of him in there. But at least it's something and it's still there and I can't let it go.”

He starts crying and Blaine holds him close, trying to soothe him. Dave hasn't cried much since they've been here. All his tension and sadness was just bound to explode sooner or later.

“I know it's going to happen,” Dave says after a while, sniffing. “And I know it's going to happen soon. But as long as he will open his eyes and recognize me, I will never have the strength to do it.”

Blaine strokes his hair and sighs. “You know, there is still something we could try.”

Dave looks up confusedly. “What do you mean?”

Blaine has been thinking this for days now but he hasn't said a word because he didn't want to give Dave false hopes. “We can't stay here anymore,” he says, staring at him. “Kurt is not getting any better and every time the soldiers come, we risk a little more. If he goes on like this, in a week or two his conscious periods will be less than the raging ones. And if it happens, you know the next step is the coma.”

The mere word brings back tears to Dave's eyes. “There is nothing we can do about it. Medicines don't work on him anymore.”

“We can't do anything. But maybe other people can,” Blaine says. “In a couple of days we can be in Canada. The radio says their vaccine is almost working. Maybe it can't turn people back, but it can make them better.”

Dave doesn't answer and, for the longest moment, they both stay quiet.

“If we pack now, we can leave in the morning,” Dave says eventually, clearing up his throat. “Kurt should be awake by then.”

“We take the jeep, so he can lie in the back seats,” Blaine nods, sharing his disenchanted tone of voice as they both stare at the door of the basement without seeing it. “And we can take turn driving, so we won't need to stop.”

Dave just nods. They really can try.


Dave puts the last suitcase on the jeep and slams the trunk closed.

He walks around the car to reach the passenger's seat. Kurt's feeling well today and he even manages to smile under the peak of his cap, shading his face from the burning sun. Dave even smiles back and pushes his nose with the tip of his finger to tease him. “Alright, we can go,” he says and Blaine nods, starting the engine.

At the sound of Kurt's voice asking for some music to listen to for once, everything seems suddenly so very possible. And it doesn't matter if it's probably not.

They just need to believe so.
Scritta con Tabata.
Genere: Introspettivo, Drammatico.
Pairing: Kurt/Dave.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: AU, Estabilished Relationship, Lemon, Mpreg, Slash, Religious Topics.
- In an alternate Alchemy-based universe, Dave and Kurt struggle to have a baby of their own against the will of the Gods, even though this could lead to terrible consequences.
Note: Ah, notes! We hate notes and we also always say that we hate them. Please, bear with us.
So, this story is huge. No doubts on that. We know. But we couldn't do otherwise because of reasons.
Now, it will probably take quite some time to read it – if you want to (and we would be so happy if you did) – but we promise we did our very best to make it interesting. We love it, so hopefully some of this love just poured into it and made it lovable for real.
~ reviews will be cherished, criticisms are welcomed, but please be gentle
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

The waiting room was small and clean but so unadorned it gave away its true nature. The legal alchemical facilities were warm, luxury environments, not at all unlike those beauty salons where people went to enjoy some relaxing time, being given massages and experiencing colorful and warm bath in those chromotherapy rooms that were the last trend in beauty care.

There were very few maladies that alchemy could not cure – all of them being rare, almost naturally extinguished diseases that only still remained in filthy places like the Dump – so people weren't scared to go to the hospitals anymore because nothing could really kill them. Therefore, health facilities had become friendly places; each diagnostic room was finely decorated, there were real cafeterias inside the buildings and waiting rooms came with all comforts and sometimes shops too, exams and operation rooms where considered along the same lines as said shops, so that hospitals had become parts of malls where people could hang out like in any other places.

That was the reason why that waiting room was so strikingly different.

Its bare walls and very few ornaments, its small size and hidden location spoke of poverty and urgency, of a place quickly set up and ready to be quickly dismantled if needed. It was a place that was there in that moment but hadn't been there the day before and whose next location would not be revealed until the very last moment.

It had taken Kurt nearly a month to find this one. The alchemist was very secretive about it and she only spoke through ciphered messages on the city's walls. Kurt had had to find out how to contact an outlaw alchemist – that kind of knowledge wasn't exactly on the newspapers – then learn their secret language and follow one of them throughout the city slums and out of the city walls as she left messages for the people who needed her to understand. It hadn't been easy and, with Dave being busy with work, Kurt had had to do all the research on his own, so it had been long too.

Now, he and his husband were sitting in the little waiting room of an illegal alchemist's lab together with ten other people who were asking, like them, for things legal alchemy was forbidden by law to give them or were too poor to afford a real alchemist in a real facility. Like the woman whose baby had been crying non stop since the moment they arrived. The baby couldn't be more than five or six months old and judging by his flushed cheeks and lucid eyes he was feverish.

Sitting next to Kurt, Dave was trying not to stare at all those poor and suffering people, among whom he could easily pick out the few coming straight from the Dump. He had never been there himself but he knew how people looked liked in that part of the city. They were usually skinny – almost famished – boys and girls, with tired eyes always covered in old traces of ordinary make up and a generally sick appearance. Exactly like the girl sitting in front of him right now. She had long and dirty blond hair and she was shivering badly under an old, gray blanket. Her boyfriend held her hand and tried to soothe her by whispering nonsense to her ear.

Dave searched for Kurt's hand too and held it lovingly, looking at the way their fingers entwined. “Are you nervous?” He asked.

Kurt took his hand and played with his fingers nervously; a fair enough answer to his husband's question. “I am,” he said, looking down. “I have so many questions, and none of this is even guaranteed!”

Dave circled Kurt's shoulders with his strong arm, holding him closer but not too much, as to not be inappropriate. Public displays of affection were allowed only if limited to hugs and holding hands; kisses – of every nature – were not forbidden, but still frowned upon and strongly discouraged. “Everything is going to be alright. We are only going to do it if it's safe for you and if results are sure to come,” he tried to reassure him. “I am not putting your life in any danger, especially if these two conditions are not fulfilled.”

Kurt immediately shook his head. “That’s not what I’m worried about at all,” he said. “I know this is right, but I was stupidly expecting something different, and that made me wonder what else I'm expecting that will turn out completely different.”

He had been dreaming about this day for a very long time, now. In each one of his dreams, they were waiting for a doctor in a far away but beautiful clinic, along with other people like them. Instead, this place was gray and sad, and somehow these gloomy surroundings affected Kurt's mood, as he felt like the place where they were going to conceive their baby was supposed to be completely different. But again, he knew very well the place and method didn't matter. The only thing that counted was their will to have a child and they weren't lacking that.

“So you were actually expecting something,” Dave let out a nervous chuckle. “I didn't know what to expect before, and I don't know what to expect now. But seeing you so scared is scaring me, too. I know you said this is right, but you do know we can still go away, don't you?”

Kurt turned to him, his eyes slightly darker than before. “We have no other choice, Dave,” he murmured, looking around to see if someone was listening but everyone was minding their own business, too busy with their problems to care about Kurt's. “You know that. This is the only chance we have.”

“We could still, you know, adopt. It would be less dangerous and... I don't know.” Dave hugged him some more and rubbed his arm, while the baby started crying again. “This place is making me feel uncomfortable.”

“I want my own baby,” Kurt looked down to their hands, the ghost of hundreds of previous conversations between them lingering in his mind. “I thought you agreed with me on this.”

“I do! I do, Kurt, you know I do,” Dave answered, quickly. “I'm just worried for you, for us. And I don't know if this is the right choice, but you know I'm with you, whatever you decide.”

Kurt sighed and tried to calm down. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, after all; even if a small part of himself was screaming in fear, the other – much bigger and way more stubborn – was going to do as it wanted, no matter the risks. Kurt had always been ruled by his own heart. And his heart wanted this baby more than anything he had ever wanted.

“I know this place feels weird and it makes me uncomfortable too, but they say she is good and that she has helped many people! I want to stay and at least talk to her.” He stopped because the baby's crying was turning louder and louder and two people started coughing at the same time, neither of them seemed feeling very well. Kurt met the eyes of the child's mother, who was busy cradling her baby. In them he saw the same kind of desperate hope he had seen in his own, looking at himself in the mirror lately. “I want to take this chance if she can give it to us, no matter how nervous I am. Or how scared. This is the only thing I want, Dave.”

Dave gave him a little smile and lightly patted Kurt on his small and fragile shoulder. “Alright, then. Let's just hope she receives us soon.”

As if summoned by Dave's words, the alchemist opened the unlabeled door that led to her laboratory, seeing a very old and fragile-looking lady out. She was a very beautiful Latino woman, with slightly dark skin and beautiful but cold and distant eyes which burned like fire under the red hood of the cape she wore. She didn't smile to the old lady but still the woman smiled kindly to her in return, like she was very happy and satisfied.

Santana Lopez was once one of the best alchemists of the city but some time before she had done something that she shouldn't have and she had been banished not only from the order, but from the city as well.

The truth behind her banishment was littered with rumors, so much that Kurt had only learned half of it, because the people she was helping now and loved her were very reluctant to speak about it and for everyone else, she was as good as dead. The only piece of information he had managed to scrape was that she had been involved in male pregnancy; one of the worst sin against Gods, which also happened to be the very reason he had been so determined to find her.

He had never met her in person, though. And Kurt was finding out that she was younger and way more beautiful than he had expected her to be. Her past and her work had suggested she was one of those old wrinkled women who had tried her luck at the end of her life and career, but the Santana Lopez he was looking at now was nowhere near her thirty and didn't have the look for the job at all, which made him – and probably Dave too – more nervous than he was already.

He didn't have the time to consider how or if this had changed his heart about the whole matter, because the alchemist glanced over the room and her gaze landed on him and Dave who were the next in line.

“Come inside,” she ordered, and then went back in her laboratory, without waiting for them. The door closed behind her, yet another barrier you had to be willing to pass if you wanted to see her.

Everybody had looked up when she had opened the door, but nobody dared to speak to her. So, Kurt and Dave stood up to follow her in utter silence, which was the clearest sign of the great reverence everybody had for her. Dave had experienced the same kind of silence only in presence of Priests.

Dave was very nervous because that woman scared him a lot. Not only because, as any other alchemist, she was probably capable of things he could not even begin to explain, but also because she was so much stronger than the women – and compared to Kurt, also the men – he was used to see and deal with in the City; modest and fragile creatures, lacking that fierceness she introduced herself with. She also dressed differently from other women he knew. Her pants were clearly manly, as it was the shirt she wore under her long red cape which seemed more for concealing herself when she walked down the streets than a symbol of her position, like it was for a normal alchemist.

Her firm behavior and her cold eyes did very little to make him feel comfortable, when they entered the laboratory. She was surrounded by a scary and powerful aura that could just have been charisma but, with the little Dave knew about alchemy, could just as well have been mere black magic. “Good evening, Miss Lopez,” he greeted her politely, anyway. He looked around to find a chair where Kurt could sit but, finding none, he gently led him in a corner and stood there next to him, trying to comfort him out of the same awkwardness he was feeling.

“You can just call me Santana,” she said offhandedly, turning her back to them as she was busy cleaning something she supposedly used to help the old lady before, in a little steel sink. “We do without surnames and titles down here. We are all a bunch of common names.”

Dave cleared his throat, as Kurt searched for his hand again and let his husband speak as the protocol bound him to do in public, even though he was the one concerning the whole process they came to ask for. “We are very grateful that you accepted to receive us today, Miss Santana,” Dave said, with a little bow of his head, while Kurt was doing the same next to him. “It really means a lot to us.”

“Yes, I guessed as much,” she said, nodding vaguely. Then, she turned around, drying her hands on a rag and weighed the two of them up carefully. None of them had thought to dress any less elegant than usual, so they looked quite out of place in her laboratory. “You know, the temple of the Priests is right behind the corner, comfortably inside the city walls,” she continued, an half annoyed half patronizing smile curling her lips just slightly. “Or if you are not religious, which is not so uncommon nowadays, I can give you the address of one or two alchemical labs more suitable for people of your kind.”

Dave frowned. “We already know where the nearest temple is, and we're perfectly aware of numerous alchemists' addresses in the whole city,” he said, curtly. “We came to you, though, because our request is of a kind that calls for your particular intervention.”

She slowly raised an eyebrow and looked at him, totally unimpressed. “Then, what kind of 'particular' intervention brings a young upper-class couple like you to my door?” She asked, putting the rag away and leaning against the sink. “Do you need drugs? More gold? I must inform you that contrarily to what someone might have told you, I - or any other alchemist for that matter - can't bring loved ones, human or pets, back to life. At least not without a considerable amount of time, money and only to give back to you a pathetic, idiotic copy of what you lost.”

Dave frowned even more, struggling to keep his composure. He wasn't known to be a staid man. He raged easily for the smallest thing. And now, on top of all his nervousness, tension and fear, this woman was being highly inappropriate and kind of unnerving. “We're not here for this, thank you,” she said. “We came to ask
for... a change. We heard you're the right person for that.”

At these words, Santana's smile faded and her gaze turned distant and cold again as it was a few moments before. She sensed that they were there for something big, but she had to be careful because the agents where everywhere, and with elections due in a couple of months both candidates were eager for some good arrest. For what she knew, those two could mean trouble.

“Yes, I perform changes,” she said as she reached a long table in the center of the room. It was crowded with alembics and little bowls full of all kind of ingredients, that she carefully moved aside to make room for a big, old-looking book. “What kind of change do you need? Skin color, hair color? I can even change the color of your eyes, it is not that hard,” she continued, flipping through the pages and making a list of all perfectly legal alchemical processes.

“No,” Dave started shaking his head before she could even finish. “It's not something so simple. And, honestly, if it was for such a trivial matter we would have asked some chemicals to a regular alchemist. We wouldn't have bothered to come here, with all the risks that a situation like this implies for us. So, please, just listen. We know you can do what we're asking for.”

Santana sighed. Usually agents lacked in desperation, while these men had plenty in their eyes. Plus, while the big one could have been an officer, the other one surely wasn't; with his delicate features and his worried expression, he seemed more suitable to rule a house than work for the government. It couldn't hurt to at least let them speak. It didn't mean she was also going to say yes.

She closed her book and nodded, her hands inside her sleeves. “I'm listening.”

Kurt cleared his throat, looking down as he spoke. “I'd like for you to change me, to...” he dared to look up at her “to change my body so I can bear a child of my own.”

Santana's eyes turned even colder and more distant at the sole mention of that. She turned around quickly and resumed cleaning and moving around things that didn't need to be moved at all. “What you ask is not within the common lines of the recognized alchemy,” she said nervously and annoyed. “I assume you know what it means.”

She actually didn't. Nobody ever knew what it meant or what they were even asking for. Nobody understood the extent of the crime it represented. Changing a male body so that it was fit to bear a child was a magnificent alchemical process, the proof that men and nature – that men and Gods, in her opinion – could work together and create something, create life. And yet the Priests considered it a sin, something to punish. According to her, that was only because they couldn't do the same with their prayers.

She had lost a career over her convictions. She didn't want to lose anything else, if it wasn't worth it.

“That's why we're here!” Dave said. He was starting to get really upset. This woman didn't understand anything. Or she pretended to, which was even worse.

Kurt placed a hand on Dave's in order to keep him quiet and keep talking calmly. “Actually, we don't know exactly what it means,” he explained. “We heard you're the right person to ask to, but we don't know what it will take. So that's why we're here, now. We'd like to ask you a couple of questions, to see if this can work for us. And then we're going to decide on what to do.”

Santana didn't like the bigger man. Or at least, she didn't like his way to bark at her every time she didn't answer exactly what he wanted to hear. Even though she could relate to his way of reacting, because she would probably do the same if the roles were reversed.

Anyway, she had said she would have listened, so she was going to. But first, they needed to be told this was going to be no piece of cake. She had known too many rich people who were persuaded that alchemy was fairy tale magic, able to accomplish everything they could imagine, with no more consequences than a sprinkle of fairy dust over their precious satin dresses, to let them go on without saying a word about it.

“Before you ask me anything, know this,” she said, looking seriously at them. “What you want from me is not only against the law of Gods, but also extremely dangerous for a few reasons you might understand and for a lot more you don't, even if you should. It is not certain and not abiding. Given that, ask your questions.”

Kurt moistened his lips and opened his mouth to ask something, but Dave was faster. “Is it going to be dangerous for Kurt or the baby? Are they going to risk their lives or suffer? Is the baby going to...” he searched for the right words “to be fine?”

That was not even remotely the point, but she was expecting those kind of questions. People always wanted to know if they were going to suffer; as if suffering was the worst that could happen. “As far as your husband is concerned, the risk for him only depends on the medical assistance he will have after the process. Men are not supposed to give birth, so during his pregnancy he might experience ugly discomforts that won't be fatal to him if treated right,” she explained as clearly as she possibly could. “The baby, however is a different matter. Usually everything goes well, but it's an unstable process which sometimes leads to unstable results.”

Dave instantly shut up because what he wanted to say now was that if there was even the remote possibility that the child was going to have problems, then the risk wasn't worth it. But he knew how much it meant for Kurt and that the choice ultimately depended on him. So, he kept his mouth closed and waited.

Kurt nodded, assimilating the information. “I want to know what is the process going to take practically,” he asked furthermore. “What will you have to do to me? How does it all work?”

Santana appreciated that the man wanted to know all the details and she was determined not to hold back on anything, no matter how unpleasant. What she wasn't sure about it was that he or his husband could handle the information. “I will make a concoction that will help your body relax and give up all the possible restrains that would hamper the intervention,” she answered. “Then I will perform the alchemy on you. In order to create something – which is to say an uterus to contain the baby – you will have to give up something else. The process will settle itself with my help, but this basically means that all your internal organs will be redistributed, removed when possible, dislocated, changed to fit in a smaller space. Everything will be back to normal after you give birth.”

Dave opened his eyes wide. He was terrified. “This seems painful,” he cringed. “What does it mean he will have to give up something else? What will he lose?”

Santana shook her head. “We cannot say, at the moment. But the human body is prone to adapt to survive,” she explained, pointing at the anatomical graph hanging on the wall behind her. “So whatever he loses, he won't need it to survive and if he does, what remains will be modified to bear the new condition. I'm here to make sure of that.”

Dave didn't like it at all and he felt in no way reassured, but once again, it wasn't his call. Kurt nodded again. If he was reconsidering, he didn't show. “I see,” he said, thinking about it thoroughly. “What is the ritual consisting in? What will you have to do to get the process done?”

“I won't need to cut you open, if this is what you are afraid of,” Santana said, with barely the hint of a smile on her cherry-red lips. “In fact, I won't touch you at all. It will be the energy of the process to get in contact with your own energy and work with it, which will result in your body to mutate. What you'd have drunk before will help you bear the pain.”

“So, he's going to drink something, and then what?” Dave finally cut in, unable to stay quiet any longer. “Am I going to be by his side? Will we do it here? We need to know everything. I won't let you do anything if I don't know exactly every single step of the process.”

Kurt looked at him. “Dave, please.”

“No, I want to know,” he insisted, stubbornly. “I need to know.”

Santana was totally unaffected by Dave's nervousness. She actually didn't care much. As an alchemist – for such she still considered herself – she wasn't compelled to show empathy to her clients unless she was working in a medical facility. But she wasn't and she had actually never had.

“We would do it in here or somewhere else, that depends on how much time will pass until our next meeting,” she answered. “If you want, you can stay with him, but you won't be allowed to touch him because your energy would interfere with his. The process will last from half an hour to one hour and half and I can only start it. Once it is started, it can't be stopped. After that you will have a very short window of time to get him pregnant before the process, unstable as it is, goes reverse for good.”

Kurt opened his eyes wide and blushed furiously because he had never heard someone talking so shamelessly about such a private matter. Let alone a complete stranger. Dave was shocked too. He didn't blush like his husband did, but he was quite outraged. “What-- what do you mean? How much time will we have?”

Santana shook her head for what it felt like the millionth time, completely blind to their widen eyes. “Again, I don't know exactly. It's different for everyone, but you will want to do it as quickly as you can. It's probably better if you take a room around here. Not the perfect place to make a baby, I agree. But time plays an important role in this.”

“A-- a room?!” Kurt was really shocked now. He covered his mouth with both his hands and looked at her almost horrified. Inns in that part of the city were no places for them; just filthy appendixes of all the brothels crowding the Dump nearby. He was not going to conceive his baby there.

Dave caught his discomfort and shared it with him. “Why don't you leave this to us? Thanks.” He inhaled and exhaled, and then he tried to lead the conversation elsewhere. “How much will it cost? We are aware the services you offer are not cheap.”

“And this one in particular is not cheap at all,” she confirmed. “Considering the risks with the Priests and the results, plus all the materials I will need, it's gonna cost you one hundred thousand.”

“One-one hundred thousands?!” Dave's eyes grew even wider and he turned pale. “We don't have all that money! It's... it's too much!”

Kurt bit his inner cheek, panic striking him more strongly now than it had before when Santana was telling him how his body was going to change. Money seemed a way bigger problem now that he knew the exact amount of them they will need. Being the one who managed the house, he knew very well their financial situation and they didn't have so much money. He actually wouldn't know how to collect it all, Dave's job being their only mean of support. Even using what they had cached over the years, they couldn't withdraw such a conspicuous amount from their bank accounts without declaring the reason for it. Lying wouldn't have worked either, because rumors would have easily spread.

“How much did you think it would cost?” Santana asked, half surprised half annoyed by their naivety. “We are talking about making him able to do something nature hadn't originally planned him to do. Things like these don't come for free.”

“Not for free, but not for a fortune either,” Dave said. “There's no way we can afford it at this price. I'm sure there must be a way to make things a little less expensive.”

“Please, Miss,” Kurt cut in, on the verge of tears. “We want this to happen. We want this chance. You may be right when you say that the Gods didn't plan for me to be able to get pregnant. But maybe, if they really didn't want this at all, they wouldn't even made people like you able to provide a service that makes male pregnancy possible. If you could consider taking a step toward us, maybe lowering the price a little, we could consider taking a step toward you and try to gather as much money as we can. Please.”

Santana was not in any way moved by his tears, but she had a soft spot when it came to the Gods wanting her to do what she did, which was exactly what she herself thought. Alchemy existed because Gods made it possible, so thinking about part of it as illegal or unnatural had no sense whatsoever for her.

“Alright. I can lower the price to sixty thousand, which is hardly more than half the price and I barely get something out of it.”

Sixty thousand were not in any way more affordable than one hundred, but they were something less, at least. It was a hope Kurt was going to cling to as much as he could. He instantly smiled, the tears in his eyes turning from sadness to joy. “Thanks. That's really kind and generous of you.” He felt the need to hold her hand in gratitude but somehow she didn't seem the kind of person who would have allowed him that. “We appreciate it a lot, really.”

Dave didn't say anything. He had no idea where Kurt thought he could find sixty thousands dollars. He averted his eyes and just held Kurt's hand when his husband searched for his.

“I will get what is needed,” the alchemist nodded. “And as soon as you have the money, we can proceed.”

After that, there wasn't much left to say. Santana saw them to the door, as she had done with the old lady and soon they were out in the warm air of June.


By the time they reached the house it was past midnight.

They had to go to the alchemist after sunset, to avoid the risk to be seen or recognized by someone they knew. They even took their second carriage, the old one they never used anymore and was always parked in the garage. The driver was surprised, but well trained enough not to ask questions. He was an old, wise man who had worked all his life for Kurt's family and had been part of Kurt's dowry when he had married Dave. He had no interest in ruining his masters' life.

Dave opened the door for Kurt and they walked inside. The house was dark and quiet, the few servants who worked for them had gone to bed already and the only sound they could hear was the peaceful, almost soothing buzzing of the communication system coming from the media room.

The house was beautiful, and way bigger than Dave's job would have allowed. It had belonged to the Karofsky family for generations, and passed from father to first born over the years. Kurt had come to live there during his engagement period with Dave, as the tradition wanted. Dave's parents had lived with them after the marriage for five years before they both died within a month of each other.

It was a two stored house with one of those traditional big foyer that were so rare in more recent houses and a little but lovely backyard where Kurt was growing red roses. But it had too many rooms for the two of them alone. It was time for them to have children.

Dave helped his husband out of his coat and put it carefully on the hanger by the door. He was pretty sad and discouraged for the talk they had with the alchemist, who made it all seem harder to accomplish - not to mention expensive – than what they had originally thought. He was expecting the process to be quite complicated and he was ready to make all the sacrifices that would have been needed. But the price she asked was too high. Now, he felt like they didn't stand a chance and he was worried that Kurt could take it badly. He had put so much in it.

Instead, Kurt was so madly in love with the idea of having a baby of his own that he would not let anything discourage him, as crazy and complicated as it could be. They hadn't spoken on their way back, and he waited for them to be inside the house before breaking the silence.

“We should start thinking about what we need to do, now.”

Dave sighed deeply. He saw it coming. He took off his coat, putting it with his husband's and then unbuttoned the first buttons of the neck-high shirt he was wearing. “Which would be? I'm telling you, Kurt, I'm not sure this is actually something we can do at all. I don't want you to get too much emotionally invested.”

Kurt looked up at him, instantly worried. “What do you mean? Of course we can. She said it is possible.”

“She also said we need an amount of money that we don't have right now, Kurt. And I don't know how we could find it. We could use our savings, but you know that every withdraw must be justified to the bank,” Dave said, sighing again as he sat down on his favorite armchair near the fireplace. “...Then I don't like what she said about you changing inside.”

“I need to, in order to bear our child. I know the idea is upsetting,” he stroke his tummy, thoughtfully, “but it makes sense if you think about that. The baby will need space.”

Dave looked at Kurt's hand drawing circles on his tummy and swallowed. He realized he had never really thought about how it would work in practice. The idea of internal organs moving was upsetting enough as it was, but a baby actually being inside Kurt for nine months was suddenly even weirder.

“I know, but she made it seems painful.“ He looked at him with sadness in his eyes. “I don't want you to feel any pain. I don't even know how you are supposed to give birth after I... you know.”

“I suppose they will do what they do when women have troubles giving birth.”

Dave shivered from head to toes and tried to take the thought out of his mind. Even with the generally clean and almost never invasive use of alchemy in medicine, C-section were still pretty bloody affairs. “Alright, then, we have to keep... we've got to keep our minds on the task. Be focused,” he said. “Maybe I could ask for a loan. I mean, outside the banks circuit.”

“I don't think that is a good idea. Those kind of deals are really dangerous.” Kurt shook his head as he went to the drinks cupboard and poured himself something to drink. “We can't take that risk with a baby on the way.”

Dave frowned a little. “I can handle it. I promised I'd take care of you and our family. It's not that hard. I'll ask for a loan and then I'll keep for myself a bit of the business' profits. In six or eight months we will be set.”

“What if something goes wrong with the business? All kind of things can happen,” Kurt went to sit next to him on the couch and lifted his legs, so he could put his feet on his husband's lap. Dave started massaging them right away. “It's better if we don't have debts of any kind. Maybe we can sell this house and live in the summer house.”

What he called summer house was actually a little building, not much bigger than a cabin, Dave's father had used when he'd go fishing during week ends. It was not far from the city and they went there for a week or two every summer so Kurt could sunbath and Dave could take over his father's hobby, but still run back to his office in a couple of hours if he needed to. However, the summer house was not meant to be lived in for real. It didn't even have a proper kitchen.

Dave made a face. “In the summer house?” He asked. “That's too small and basically on the seaside, outside the city walls. You can't really live there, with a baby to booth. Please, be serious. There must be another way, Kurt. Somebody we could ask, something we could do...”

Kurt stayed quiet for a while, lost in thoughts. Then, after a few moments, he reached out to the coffee table for one of the many phone receivers that were scattered all around the house. He turned it on and opened to the phonebook, quickly browsing through it. “Maybe there is someone.”

Dave raised his eyes on him and arched an eyebrow, moving his hands up Kurt's legs to massaging his ankles. “Who? Someone you know?”

“You know him too.” Kurt smiled, finding the name he was looking for. He checked on line the number he had to see if it was still the same. It was. He looked up at Dave. “What about Blaine?”

Dave frowned even more. He never liked the guy. “What? What about him?”

The number was connected to Blaine's personal profile on every social network and to his business' site. Kurt quickly browsed through them. He hadn't seen Blaine for months now, but nothing seemed changed in his life. “He buys and sells stuff all the time!” Kurt answered. “He is an art dealer. Some of the things my dad left me are really valuable. We can see if he can buy them for a good price.”

Dave got instantly grumpy. He even stopped massaging him, which was the ultimate sign of his annoyance. “I don't like that guy. I never did,” he grumbled, hardly resisting the urge to cross his arms on his chest and be completely pouting. “He was always hovering around you, even after we married. We don't need to bring him in this.”

Also, Dave didn't want to bring him into that and let Blaine know Kurt wanted something he could not provide. The man was rich behind what it should have been legal and the last thing Dave wanted was to give him the chance to take his fat wallet out of his fancy, expensive pocket and make Kurt dreams come true.

Kurt and Blaine had gone to school together when they were younger. They used to sing together in the choir of their neighbor temple and hang around with the same people, even if Kurt was one year older than Blaine. By the time Kurt was allowed to meet his assigned husband, at fifteen, the two of them lost touch with each other until Kurt's wedding, to which Blaine was invited.

Since then, Blaine had come visiting once every two or three months. A courtesy Dave could easily do without.

They had been very close during their childhood and a small part of their teen years too. So, even though they somehow grew out of their friendship as it was before, they still cared for each other a lot. Too much, according to Dave who was madly jealous of the charming way Blaine had with Kurt.

However, Kurt didn't take Dave's worries seriously. Mainly because it had never been that way with him and Blaine. “Blaine Anderson and I are just friends, Dave. You know that already.”

Dave had heard him saying that a million times already and of course he believed that, because Kurt had never given him reasons not to, but still Blaine's name made his hands tingle. “Of course I know, but still I don't like him,” he said. “And most of all, I don't like what he became after he lost his fiancée. Losing him made him reckless.”

Gods had not been very good with Blaine, whose assigned husband had died at the age of thirteen, before they could even met. According to the tradition, only the Priests could assign one person to another, which meant you could not marry anyone else, unless the Priests found it for you.

That never happened for Blaine, who had been alone since then.

Kurt put on a very sympathetic face, like every time he thought about Blaine's situation. “You should be more understanding,” he scolded him. “His fiancée's death was hard on him. He never really recovered. As a matter of fact, we should see him more often, instead of letting all these months pass between visits. Plus, he really can help us with this.”

Dave didn't look too convinced. “I don't know, Kurt. I don't think we can trust him. It's not...” He looked for the best way to say it, since Kurt was already glaring at him. “You know, with all the rumors about where he goes and who he meets, I don't think he matches the criteria of discretion we're searching for, in this particular situation.”

“Blaine would never say a word.” Kurt gave him a little smile. “And then, it would be just a matter of days, until after we have the right amount of money. Once I'm pregnant, people can even talk, if they want to. Nobody will be able to do anything about it.”

Dave sighed and pondered the whole matter. Blaine was famous for a lot of unfortunate reasons, but most of all he was famous for how rich he was and how convenient his deals were for both parts involved. So Dave guessed that, if they really had to sell something, he was the best choice. “What were you thinking about selling?”

Kurt had been thinking about it since the very moment Blaine had come into his mind. His family wasn't rich but there were a few old and precious items that had belonged to his father and were now part of his inheritance. One in particular was very unique. Kurt felt sad at the thought of parting from it, but he was willing to do it for his child. “My father's Book,” he answered, in a low voice. “It's the most valuable of my possessions.”

Dave looked at him, shocked. “Are you serious? It's... It's our Creation Book. It was your father's. You love that book. It's the book we would have given to our child, if it was the case.”

The Creation Book was a strong and essential part of the tradition. It contained the story of how the Gods, after seeing the human race suffering for love, had decided to find the perfect match for every soul, bringing harmony and peace in the lives of all. Every man and woman who wanted to live by the Gods, followed the lessons the book contained.

Each family had his own copy, traditionally brought as part of their dowry by the wife or, in case of a same sex marriage, by the submissive element of a couple, which was chosen by the Priests between two babies at the moment of their assignation. Being a submissive - differentiation that only existed in a same sex marriage - meant taking upon himself all those assignments traditionally more related to women, like the house care and a more motherly role toward children.

For what they symbolized, Creation Books had always to be very valuable and precious pieces of art. And having belonged to his father, Kurt held his own particularly dear.

“Well, we are giving it away so our child can come into this world,” Kurt said. “It's an act of love toward him or her as well.”

Dave sighed and brushed his face with both his hands, smiling lightly. “You have already decided, haven't you?” He asked as he looked at him, already knowing what Kurt was going to answer because he knew him too well not to.

Kurt looked straight into his eyes. “I really want this, Dave. And I think we can do it.”

Dave let out a little chuckle. He was lucky to love Kurt for his stubbornness among other things, or they would have been arguing their entire life. But he liked too much the light in Kurt's eyes every time he strongly believed in something. He patted his knees with his hands and nodded. “Alright, then. Let's do this,” he said, dragging him into his arms. “But it's better if you don't call him now. It's almost two in the morning, not a good time to call art dealers. Or anyone for that matter.”

Kurt made a little noise of happiness. “I'm calling him first thing in the morning.”

Dave kissed him sweetly on the top of his head. “It's good to see you so happy.”

Kurt beamed as he look at their reflection in the lucid surface of the glass coffee table. In nine months they were going to be even happier.

to be continued...

Genere: Introspettivo, Drammatico.
Pairing: (lieve) Kurt/Dave, Dave/Santana.
Rating: R.
AVVERTIMENTI: Angst, Future!Fic, Het, Slash, Gen, Drug Use, Spoiler fino alla s2, poi prosegue ignorando la s3.
- Kurt ha inseguito il proprio sogno: dopo il liceo si è trasferito a New York, ha cercato fortuna a Broadway, ma le circostanze della vita non sono state clementi, con lui.
Dave, invece, tutti i suoi sogni li ha infilati in un baule e poi ha nascosto quel baule tre metri sotto terra, e le circostanze della vita con lui si sono comportate più che bene.
Dietro due storie differenti si celano dolori simili, ma non è detto che affrontarli insieme possa essere la scelta più saggia.
Note: *si accascia stremata* Ci ho messo due giorni a scrivere questa storia, il che considerate le mie abitudini, la mole e gli argomenti, non è per niente normale. *anf* E' che volevo con tutte le mie forze farla partecipare alla seconda settimana del COW-T (Missione 2, prompt: spaccio), anche se poi è stato inutile. *ride* Ma va be', tanto non avrei potuto riciclarla per la terza, per cui. *va fiera delle proprie macchinazioni*
Comunque, in realtà volevo scriverla da un po', stiamo parlando di un plot che mi porto dietro da quel paio di mesi, e che naturalmente voleva essere una storia completamente diversa. Finisce sempre così, io parto per raccontare sciUocche storie d'amore e finisco per parlare di Massimi Sistemi. It. Sucks.
Ma comunque, questa è e questa vi tenete, se la volete è.é Sennò, arrivederci. u.u
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Kurt non ricorda com’era prima. Prima che tutto cominciasse a scivolargli via dalle mani, dandogli l’impressione di non aver mai trattenuto fra le dita niente per davvero. Prima che i contorni degli oggetti, dei luoghi, dei visi delle persone cominciassero a sbiadire, a confondersi in una macchia indefinita che ogni tanto sembrava come dargli la caccia per le strade, specie di notte, inseguendolo perfino nei sogni tumultuosi che, fra un risveglio improvviso e l’altro, lo accompagnavano fino all’alba. Fino ai crampi allo stomaco, al mal di testa, ad un gelo tanto profondo da non potere essere spazzato via se non… be’, se non con quello che l’aveva portato fino a quel punto.
Non ricorda com’era prima, prima che le strade silenziose, scure e umide di quella periferia gli diventassero così familiari da trasferircisi. Non ricorda di aver mai vissuto in un posto che non fosse il monolocale maleodorante di muffa e polvere in cui vive adesso, non ricorda cos’era svegliarsi al mattino con uno scopo che non fosse uscire di casa e, in qualche modo, non importa quale, tirare su i soldi per un’altra dose.
Un’altra dose. Dio, solo un’altra dose.
Kurt apre gli occhi e scuote il capo all’eco lontana di quella voce – la sua voce – nella sua testa. Le labbra gli si piegano in una smorfia disgustata. Odia se stesso, odia quello che l’astinenza gli fa, soprattutto odia il sapore disgustoso che ha in bocca adesso. Odia l’idea di dover alzarsi e sapere di non avere in casa neanche del fottuto dentifricio, perché ogni singolo dannato centesimo che riesce a racimolare viene speso sempre nello stesso modo.
Non importa, non importa. Un’altra dose e non ci pensi più, Kurt. Solo un’altra dose.
Si tira su dal letto a fatica, guardandosi intorno. Il monolocale, come al solito, gli dà la nausea. La moquette è macchiata e sollevata dall’umidità in più punti, strappata in altrettanti, maleodorante in tutti. Sul soffitto si allargano macchie giallastre che, per quel che Kurt sa, potrebbero anche essergli fatali, sia per la quantità di spore di muffa di cui devono essere portatrici, sia perché l’umidità ha ingrossato le travi, in alcuni punti l’intonaco si è perfino staccato, cadendo a terra e disseminandosi su tutto il pavimento.
Kurt non ha mai pulito, Kurt non pulisce mai.
Ha solo bisogno di un’altra dose.
Una sola, Dio, Dio, solo una.
Le gambe lo reggono a stento, ma lui non se ne preoccupa. È sempre così, al mattino, specie quando ha dormito per più di qualche ora. I meccanismi un tempo bene oliati e sempre scattanti del suo corpo, ormai ci mettono di più ad ingranare. Ma Kurt ormai ci ha fatto il callo, e d’altronde non ricorda che un tempo svegliarsi al mattino e saltare giù dal letto non erano operazioni insopportabilmente complicate, non c’era dolore nel semplice gesto di mettersi a sedere dopo aver passato qualche ora disteso, non c’era sofferenza nel muoversi un passo dopo l’altro per uscire da camera propria, scendere le scale ed avventurarsi in cucina, guidato dal profumo delizioso delle uova al tegamino cucinate da suo padre. Era uno dei pochissimi piatti che suo padre sapesse cucinare. Ne andava così orgoglioso.
Kurt non ricorda che un tempo ballava. Lui chiedeva alle sue braccia e alle sue gambe di muoversi, e quelle gli obbedivano senza mai sbagliare. I movimenti precisi e fluidi, la gioia che gli riempiva il cuore alla fine di ogni esibizione, Kurt non ricorda più niente. L’unico momento in cui danza, adesso, è quando è fatto. Quando la droga gli entra in circolo il suo corpo è leggero, e lui può fare qualsiasi cosa, essere qualsiasi cosa. E si vede su un palco, di fronte a una platea di uomini e donne senza volto, ed i loro vestiti sono eleganti, e lui sa di essere finalmente arrivato, sì, arrivato dove voleva.
È solo un’illusione, ma è tutto ciò che Kurt possiede. Non ricorda com’era prima, quando non possedeva un’illusione, ma un sogno. Ormai fatica perfino a comprendere che differenza possa esserci fra le due cose. Non sono sogni, in fondo, quelli che gli regala la roba? Sono sogni bellissimi, sì. Tutto ciò che Kurt vuole. Tutto ciò che ha. Così semplice, così immediato.
La sicurezza di un desiderio a pagamento, sì, è questo tutto ciò che gli resta. Dell’incertezza dei sogni gratuiti che aveva quando era ragazzino non gli è rimasto niente. Ma non è un problema, perché Kurt non lo ricorda. Non lo vuole ricordare. Tutto ciò che vuole è un’altra dose.
Una dose soltanto. Una e basta.
Si trascina verso la sedia – assieme alla scrivania ed al letto, è tutto ciò che compone l’arredamento di questa stanza, tutto compreso nell’affitto che lui non paga ormai da settimane – e recupera i pantaloni che ha lasciato cadere sullo schienale quando li ha sfilati prima di andare a dormire, che sia successo qualche ora o qualche giorno fa. Fruga nelle tasche posteriori e ne tira fuori qualche banconota e qualche spicciolo. Li conta tre volte, appena finisce dimentica istantaneamente a quanto ammonta il totale, si chiede se basterà, decide che non gli importa. Gli tremano le mani. La vista gli si offusca. Devono bastare. Devono.
Rimette i soldi in tasca ed indossa i pantaloni, si getta sulle spalle la giacca ed esce. Il sole non è ancora sorto, per strada non c’è quasi nessuno. Il quartiere si animerà dalle otto in poi, le scuole apriranno, così come i supermercati e le botteghe, la gente comincerà a camminare e pur nel suo essere così ovviamente un quartiere povero, anche quel posto sarà vivo, colorato, rumoroso.
Kurt spera di stare già dormendo, per quel momento. Non nel suo appartamento, naturalmente. No, è un altro, il tipo di sonno che vuole. Se solo ci pensa, gli si contorce lo stomaco in uno spasmo di desiderio.
Calma, Kurt, calma. Fra poco. Fra poco.
Il palazzo è di quelli di fronte ai quali nessuno si ferma, perché ne hanno tutti paura. È disabitato da molto tempo, ma tutti sanno che è stato occupato. Qualche volta, la polizia ha fatto dei sopralluoghi. Puntualmente, chi è stato trovato ad occupare abusivamente gli appartamenti è stato buttato fuori, la merce illegale – le rare volte in cui ne è stata trovata – è stata confiscata, e dei sigilli sono stati apposti a porte e finestre.
Non è mai abbastanza. Non lo sarà mai. Quello è un luogo magico, Kurt ne è certo. Non può essere spazzato via in nessun modo. Continuerà a tornare sempre, e sarà sempre aperto per chi vuole trovare il modo di entrare.
Mentre il primo raggio di sole si affaccia all’orizzonte, illuminando in bagliori ipnotici le vetrate gigantesche dei grattacieli di cristallo, Kurt percorre tutto il perimetro del palazzo fino al retro, e raggiunge la scala anti-incendio. Sono tre piani, da qui all’appartamento del Gufo. Kurt non è sicuro di potercela fare, ma sa di dovere. È letteralmente questione di vita o di morte, a questo punto. Perciò, si aggrappa al corrimano cigolante e comincia la scalata, un passo dopo l’altro.
Quando arriva a destinazione, è senza fiato, tutti i muscoli del suo corpo gridano di dolore e il sole è ormai quasi del tutto spuntato all’orizzonte. Deve averci messo non meno di mezz’ora. Dev’essere per forza così perché si sente addosso ogni secondo e ogni minuto, gli pesano sulle spalle come enormi massi. Gli fa male lo stomaco e gli viene da vomitare. Potrebbe essere l’astinenza, o solo la stanchezza, o magari anche il fatto che non mette in bocca qualcosa di veramente commestibile da settimane. Non lo sa, e comunque al momento non gli importa. Tutto quello che vuole è la sua dose.
Solo quella.
Attraverso la vetrata, per quanto sia stata spaccata in un punto e le crepe si siano estese fino a rendere il vetro più sorvegliante ad un mosaico che ad una finestra, Kurt può vedere il salotto, o almeno quello che probabilmente sarebbe il salotto se questo fosse un vero appartamento. Ci sono due divani sfondati, uno contro una parete, l’altro contro la parete opposta, ed entrambi sono talmente affollati da rischiare di cadere a terra da un momento all’altro.
Sul divano c’è la gente già in viaggio. È facile riconoscerla, perché sui loro visi ci sono le espressioni rilassate e perse di chi non ha nient’altro da chiedere dalla vita oltre quello che già possiede. Al solo vedere i loro volti così sereni, Kurt si sente attraversare da un doloroso lampo di desiderio. Lo vuole anche lui, lo vuole adesso, non può più aspettare.
Bussa al vetro e osserva un uomo bassino voltarsi verso di lui. Il Gufo gli lancia addosso la solita occhiata spaurita, con quegli occhi talmente grandi che uno ci si potrebbe specchiare dentro, se non fossero sempre così torbidi. È proprio a causa dei suoi occhi che lo chiamano così. Sono sempre sgranati, e sul suo volto scavato dalla droga sembrano grandi il doppio.
È un povero diavolo, il Gufo, come tutti loro. Un povero sfigato che pensava di poterci fare i soldi, con la roba, e invece ne è stato divorato. Come tutti quelli che pensano di poterla governare. Kurt viene sempre da lui perché, anche se la roba che vende è di pessima qualità, almeno la vende ad un prezzo sopportabile. Perché è ingordo, perché lui non si fa con la sua merda, no, va a comprare merda più pulita da chi gli affari li sa fare per davvero, perciò ha bisogno che la maggior parte di gente possibile compri la sua. Abbassare il prezzo era l’unica cosa che potesse fare per assicurarsi la sua dose giornaliera, e per Kurt, in fondo, è stato meglio così.
Il Gufo apre la porta a Kurt entra subito dentro, confondendosi col resto della gente in attesa. Anche loro li riconosci subito. Si aggirano nervosamente per la stanza, incapaci di stare fermi, oppure si accasciano in un angolo, stringendosi in un abbraccio a metà fra il protettivo e il consolatorio – con punte di patetico – per cercare di impedirsi di tremare troppo. Nei loro occhi leggi sempre la stessa preghiera.
Una dose. La mia dose. Per favore.
C’è la stessa preghiera anche negli occhi di Kurt, mentre passa al Gufo tutto quello che gli resta e lo osserva contare il denaro con attenzione, prima di metterselo in tasca.
Nel frattempo, si è liberato un posto sul divano. Kurt ci si lascia cadere sopra, esausto, e chiude gli occhi. Sente il Gufo armeggiare col suo braccio e sospira di sollievo, perché c’è quasi, è quasi finita, Dio, non credeva che ci sarebbe riuscito anche questa volta, e invece eccola qui, finalmente, la sua dose, Dio, la sua dose. La familiare puntura dell’ago contro l’avambraccio, la scarica di adrenalina, la botta violenta al cervello, tutti i suoi sensi che si infiammano e bruciano, la sua mente che si riempie di colori e suoni e sensazioni di ogni tipo.
E poi, all’improvviso come si è accesa, si spegne.
Il Gufo se ne accorge solo un paio d’ore dopo.
- Ci hai lasciato, bello? – gli domanda, battendogli un paio di schiaffi su entrambe le pallide. Kurt non lo sente. È pallido e non risponde. Le sue ciglia tremano appena. Sarà una cosa veloce. – Portatelo giù, già che scendete. – dice a due tizi che stanno per imboccare la scala e abbandonare il palazzo. Quelli si lagnano un po’, “e dove lo lasciamo, e non possiamo mica buttarlo in un angolo, e che due coglioni, Gufo”, ma il Gufo li zittisce burbero, li minaccia come può fare solo chi tiene in mano la borraccia piena d’acqua in mezzo al deserto e poi dice loro di mollarlo nel cassonetto che c’è in fondo alla strada. È una roba semplice, e se fanno i bravi la prossima volta potrebbe far loro uno sconto, o magari offrire una dose gratis.
Sono le paroline magiche, nessuno dei due ha bisogno d’altro.
Quando viene scaricato senza grazia dentro il primo cassonetto all’angolo della strada, Kurt non sente niente, ma la sua espressione è serena, le sue labbra piegate in un sorriso irreale, ed era questo che voleva, in fondo, no? Non può chiedere nient’altro alla vita. Chiederà il resto a qualsiasi cosa ci sia dopo.
Dave non ricorda com’era prima. Prima di lei, naturalmente, Santana. Ogni tanto, riflettendoci, si sente quasi in imbarazzo per la devozione che le porta, ma d’altronde non può esserci niente di sbagliato nell’idolatrare qualcuno che ti ha praticamente salvato la vita.
Naturalmente, Dave non ricorda da cosa doveva essere salvato. Ne ha una consapevolezza sbiadita dal tempo, sa che c’è stato un punto della sua vita in cui è stato lì lì per mollare, un momento in cui avevano cominciato a diventare inutili perfino tutti i “passerà” e gli “è solo una fase” che non faceva altro che ripetersi da quando apriva gli occhi al mattino a quando li richiudeva la sera, perché di notte, quando abbassava la guardia, lui era lì.
Lui. Kurt.
Ma Dave non lo ricorda, non vuole ricordarlo. Non gli servirebbe a niente ricordarlo. È felice, adesso. Ha tutto ciò che ha sempre voluto. Una bella casa in un bel quartiere residenziale, col giardino e la cuccia del cane a forma di casetta, degli ottimi rapporti di vicinato, i barbecue-party la domenica, i viaggi in luoghi esotici durante le vacanze, una laurea, un bel posto di lavoro, un nome importante nel suo ambiente, degli amici – ovviamente altri medici, ex compagni di college o colleghi conosciuti nel corso della sua carriera – coi quali gioca a golf ogni sabato mattina, anche se Dio solo sa quanto odia il golf, e al centro di tutto questo c’è Santana. Che un giorno di così tanti anni fa che non vale più nemmeno la pena contarli, l’ha reso possibile. Che lo rende possibile ogni singolo giorno da allora semplicemente standogli accanto.
Santana. Sua moglie.
Dal giorno in cui si sono messi insieme, al liceo, non si sono più lasciati, e a Dave non interessa, davvero, non interessa rivangare i perché e i percome di come ciò sia potuto accadere, non gli interessa, non lo ricorda, è passato, è come se fosse polvere. Qualsiasi cosa fosse, è finito, ormai. Si è nascosto e si è consumato – e ha fatto male, Dio, se ha fatto male, Dave poteva sentirlo bruciare e farsi sempre più piccolo giorno dopo giorno – e poi è sparito. Finalmente. È sparito.
Ora non c’è più niente di cui discutere. Qualsiasi storia che non riguardi il presente e il futuro è storia vecchia, e a Dave non interessa. Al momento, l’unica cosa che gli interessi è attraversare East Harlem per arrivare al proprio studio, e lo fa con la consueta noia e il consueto senso di fastidio, come ogni mattina. È irritante lavorare così lontano da casa propria, è sempre stato convinto che, se avesse potuto aprire lo studio medico in casa propria, non solo avrebbe lavorato più comodamente, ma anche gli affari ne avrebbero tratto giovamento. Santana, però, è sempre stata irremovibile, in questo senso: la casa è la casa, il lavoro è il lavoro. Più semplicemente, Dave pensa, Tana preferisce avere la casa libera perché è il centro nevralgico della sua vita sociale nel quartiere, è lì che riceve le amiche ed è quella che mostra con orgoglio quando vuole far arrossire d’invidia perfino le più placide e pacate. È normale che non voglia intorno lui con tutti i suoi pazienti a fare costantemente avanti e indietro per il corridoio ricoperto di stampe di Klimt.
È meno normale che lui sia costretto ad attraversare quel quartiere orribile ogni santa mattina che Dio manda sulla terra per questo motivo, ma dal momento che è Santana, a chiederglielo, Dave non si lamenta neanche. Santana potrebbe chiedergli di andare sulla luna e staccarne un pezzo per portarglielo come souvenir, e fare tutto ciò in giornata, e Dave lo farebbe, o quantomeno ci proverebbe. Senza neanche una lamentela.
Aggrottando le sopracciglia, pressa con forza la mano sul clacson per dare una svegliata al bello addormentato sul SUV nero lucente di fronte al suo.
- È scattato il verde, coglione… - si lamenta fra i denti, ma quando quello finalmente si decide a ripartire – non prima, naturalmente, di avergli indirizzato un vaffanculo silenzioso tirando fuori la mano dal finestrino e sollevando il medio – è Dave che si ritrova bloccato.
C’è un braccio che viene fuori da quel cassonetto.
La lunga colonna di automobilisti in attesa dietro di lui si mette a pestare sul clacson con tanta violenza che Dave si risveglia dallo stato di catatonico orrore in cui quella visione raccapricciante l’ha gettato, e facendo più in fretta che può lui si toglie di mezzo e si accosta al marciapiede, qualche metro indietro rispetto al cassonetto. Lo osserva da dentro l’abitacolo della macchina, stringendo con forza le dita attorno al volante finché le nocche non gli diventano bianche per lo sforzo.
È surreale, queste cose accadono solo nei film. Dave non ha neanche idea di cosa dovrebbe fare, adesso.
Si guarda intorno con aria sconsolata, il traffico adesso scorre fluido e regolare, interrompendosi in corrispondenza del semaforo rosso e ripartendo all’istante quando diventa verde. Possibile che nessuno se ne sia accorto, prima di lui? Eppure è così evidente, Dio, quello è un braccio. Come si fa a non vederlo?
Deglutendo faticosamente, apre lo sportello e scende dalla macchina, avvicinandosi in passi brevi e circospetti. Non ha alcuna voglia di farlo, non è diventato medico per vocazione umanitaria e non vuole nemmeno soffermarsi a pensare alle possibili conseguenze che quello che sta per fare potrebbe portare nella sua vita, ma d’altronde quello è un braccio e lui non riesce ad immaginarsi andare avanti con la propria esistenza come se niente fosse stato senza neanche verificare di cosa si tratta.
O se c’è qualcosa da fare.
Guardandosi intorno e sentendosi particolarmente ridicolo, si sporge ad osservare il contenuto del cassonetto, e rabbrividisce. L’uomo abbandonato in mezzo all’immondizia è giovane, avrà più o meno la sua età. I lineamenti del suo viso, così scavati e malsani, riescono contemporaneamente a sembrare infantili e spaventosamente anziani. Ha i capelli lunghi e sporchi e il suo braccio sinistro è in condizioni tali da essere quasi coperto più da buchi che da pelle.
Molto probabilmente, è già finita. Dave allunga una mano a tastargli il polso solo per scrupolo.
E invece non è finita affatto.
Quando il giovane medico lo raggiunge in sala d’aspetto, per poco non gli sfugge la cartella clinica dalle mani. Dave non sa perché è rimasto, dopo aver portato quel tizio all’ospedale, ma ora che il ragazzo lo fissa con stupore vorrebbe non averlo fatto. Sta buttando alle ortiche una giornata intera di lavoro, ha già dovuto chiamare la sua segretaria per rinviare tre appuntamenti che aveva in mattinata e non sa neanche perché lo sta facendo. Ed ora ci si mette anche questo ragazzino imberbe che, nel giro di pochi secondi, sicuramente gli dirà “Dottor Karofsky, è un tale onore conoscerla!”, e Dave vuole già andare via. Prima ancora che il medico sia riuscito ad avvicinarglisi abbastanza da rivolgergli la parola.
- Dottor Karofsky! – dice il ragazzo, porgendogli la destra con un gran sorriso, così terribilmente inappropriato rispetto alla situazione contingente che Dave si sentirebbe in imbarazzo a ricambiarlo, ed al quale perciò si limita a rispondere con un mezzo sorriso tirato e un cenno del capo, - È un tale onore conoscerla! Ho assistito ad alcune dei suoi seminari alla Columbia, mi sono laureato lì.
- Grazie. – sussurra Dave, guardandosi intorno circospetto. L’ultima cosa che vuole è che questo tizio si metta a urlare ai quattro venti il suo nome. “Il Dottor Karofsky è stato qui, oggi! Sì, ed ha portato con sé un uomo in overdose!”. L’ultimo tipo di pubblicità di cui abbia bisogno.
- In ogni caso, non mi sarei mai aspettato di incontrarla in una situazione simile. – riprende il medico, riportando gli occhi sulla cartella da dietro le spesse lenti da vista che gli pendono sul naso attaccate ad una montatura che non fa mistero dello stato di salute del suo portafogli, - Lei è un amico? Un parente?
- Assolutamente no. – risponde Dave, aggrottando le sopracciglia con aria severa. Il medico arrossisce visibilmente, notando l’improvvisa durezza del suo sguardo.
- Mi— Mi scusi. – balbetta con un lieve cenno del capo, - È solo che non è la prima volta che il signor Hummel—
- Come ha detto, prego? – lo interrompe istantaneamente Dave, gli occhi spalancati e la voce incerta mentre la sorpresa è tale da costringerlo a far scattare una mano e chiuderla attorno al polso del dottore, come a volergli impedire di fuggire via prima di avergli assicurato che… no, è impossibile. È impossibile.
- Lo conosce, per caso? – domanda il medico, adesso con genuina curiosità, - Kurt Hummel. Credo abiti in zona, ma non ne sono sicuro. Ha dato un indirizzo, la prima volta che lo abbiamo rimesso in sesto, ma quando abbiamo controllato abbiamo visto che il posto risulta sfitto da mesi, per cui…
La voce del dottore si fa flebile e poi lontana, mentre Dave, gli occhi ancora spalancati e fissi su di lui, si perde dentro memorie che non ricordava di possedere. Non è possibile. Non è assolutamente possibile. Non può essere lui.
- Dunque? – il giovane medico lo trascina nuovamente alla realtà, toccandogli appena una spalla per riscuoterlo, - Lo conosce?
Dave annuisce lentamente, lo sguardo nuovamente severo.
- Lo conoscevo. – risponde, liberandosi della mano del dottore sulla spalla con un educato, breve passo indietro, mentre scioglie finalmente la presa ferrea delle proprie dita attorno al suo polso. – Le sarei grato se fosse discreto, riguardo questa situazione.
Il medico arrossisce un’altra volta, cominciando ad annuire prima di rispondere, probabilmente prima ancora di cominciare a formulare una risposta nella propria mente.
- Si capisce, si capisce. – lo rassicura, - Solo, dottor Karofsky, c’è questo problema riguardo… be’, il signor Hummel ci ha fornito i dati della propria compagnia assicurativa, quando l’abbiamo dimesso sei mesi fa, ma dovevano essere… errati. – annuisce con imbarazzo, complimentandosi con se stesso per la scelta della parola; avrebbe potuto dire falsi. Dave non si sarebbe certo stupito.
- Non è un problema. – risponde d’impulso, - Coprirò io tutte le spese.
Il medico annuisce ancora, sorridendo gentilmente.
- Grazie, dotto Karofsky. Mi occuperò personalmente della pratica fra qualche minuto. Nel mentre… - esita appena, come non fosse sicuro di quanto gli convenga proporre una cosa simile adesso, - Vorrebbe per caso vederlo?
Dave non perde nemmeno tempo a riflettere sulla domanda. Vuole vederlo? Assolutamente no. Lo vedrà? Naturalmente sì.
Si lascia condurre lungo il corridoio da un’infermiera, e quando quella si ferma di fronte ad una delle porte chiuse nota che si trovano nella parte dell’ospedale dedicata alle camere singole. Premura non richiesta – che verrà sicuramente a costargli più di quanto non abbia preventivato, se davvero ha preventivato qualcosa mentre rispondeva candidamente che si sarebbe occupato lui di tutto quanto – ma in fondo conveniente, dal momento che preferisce buttare via un po’ di denaro in più, piuttosto che essere visto con lui.
Lui. Kurt.
Kurt è un fantasma del passato, ne ha perfino le sembianze. Pallido ed emaciato com’è, Dave non stenta a capire per quale motivo non l’abbia riconosciuto subito. Non è che uno sbiadito ricordo del Kurt Hummel che ha conosciuto al liceo. La sua magrezza è impressionante, i segni sul suo volto parlano di una vita in cui Dave non è per niente sicuro di voler finire coinvolto.
- Chi diavolo sei tu? – sussurra chinandosi su di lui per osservarlo più attentamente. Il petto di Kurt si alza e si abbassa appena, il suo respiro è debole ma presente, evidente nella traccia di umidità che lascia all’interno della maschera ad ossigeno a intervalli perfettamente precisi e regolari. Non è intubato, sta respirando da solo, e questa è probabilmente una buona notizia, ma Dave non sa che farsene. Non sa perché è qui, non sa perché è rimasto, a questo punto non sa più neanche perché s’è fermato a recuperare il suo corpo da quel cassonetto, ed è quasi sicuro che, se avesse saputo che quel mezzo cadavere era proprio Kurt, probabilmente l’avrebbe lasciato lì a marcire.
Quasi sicuro. Quasi.
Bussano alla porta pochi istanti dopo, e Dave si raddrizza sulla sedia, voltandosi per osservare l’infermiera che entra in camera con un piccolo sorriso intimidito.
- Dottor Karofsky, mi dispiace disturbarla, ma il dottor Mason avrebbe bisogno di alcune informazioni riguardo la questione che avete discusso prima. – lo avverte piegando il capo in un educato cenno di scuse.
Dave lancia un’occhiata a Kurt ancora profondamente addormentato e, con un sospiro, si alza in piedi. Lungo il tragitto per il corridoio, mentre raggiunge la stanza privata del dottore, manda un messaggio alla sua assistente e le chiede di cancellare tutti gli appuntamenti per la giornata. Poi, ne manda uno anche a Santana, avvertendola di non aspettarlo per cena.
Quando Kurt apre gli occhi, all’inizio non ricorda nemmeno il proprio nome. Non sa dov’è, e quello che vede – uno spicchio di soffitto mangiato a metà dalla luce al neon troppo forte per permettergli di tenere gli occhi completamente aperti – non è sufficiente per riconoscere qualsiasi posto sia quello in cui si trova.
Se è morto e questo è quello che c’è dopo, allora è parecchio deludente, comunque. E puzza anche un po’.
- Kurt? – lo chiama qualcuno alla sua sinistra. La voce è familiare, anche se lui non la riconosce. Somiglia a… ma è del tutto impossibile che sia lui. Sono passati anni dall’ultima volta che l’ha visto. Per quello che ne sa, potrebbe anche essere morto. Il che improvvisamente prende senso, se Kurt pensa che, in fondo, in questo momento potrebbe essere morto anche lui.
Ma non lo è, non è morto, il dolore diffuso che comincia a sentire spargersi a macchia d’olio dentro tutto il suo corpo ne è prova sufficiente, perché non riesce in alcun modo ad immaginare un aldilà talmente crudele da permettere ad un cadavere di soffrire così.
Mormora qualcosa, ma le sue labbra non si muovono come dovrebbero – ora che se ne accorge, c’è qualcosa di fastidiosamente stretto che gli preme sulla bocca, e spera di riacquistare la mobilità degli arti al più presto, anche solo per strapparsela di dosso, qualsiasi cosa sia; lo inquieta.
- Non sforzarti. – dice ancora la voce. Chiunque sia, gli sta stringendo una mano. – Se riesci a sentirmi, muovi le dita.
Kurt obbedisce. Probabilmente, si tratta di un medico. Probabilmente, non è morto. Probabilmente, questo è solo un ospedale.
- Bene. – l’uomo gli lascia andare la mano. Kurt prova a stringerla per trattenerla, visto che ne trovava piacevole il tepore, ma le sue dita rispondono ai comandi sempre un po’ in ritardo, e mai con abbastanza decisione, e lui perde il contatto. È doloroso abbastanza da costringerlo ad ingoiare un groppo in gola. – Adesso prova ad aprire gli occhi.
Se non altro, l’uomo è ancora qui. Dal momento che non è riuscito a farsi fuori, tanto vale cercare di rimettersi in sesto. Così potrà provarci un’altra volta.
Prova ad aprire gli occhi, ma la luce lo abbaglia ancora, e dalle labbra gli sfugge un rantolo soffocato che Dio solo sa in che modo il medico riesce ad interpretare. Kurt lo sente alzarsi in piedi e percorrere la stanza in ampi passi decisi. Dopodiché, cala la notte, e quando Kurt apre gli occhi, non prova più dolore nel farlo.
La stanza è immersa nel buio, e gli schermi puntellati di lucine colorate dei macchinari a cui è collegato non riescono in alcun modo a rischiarare l’ambiente, ma l’odore è quello tipico degli ospedali, e perciò Kurt si rassegna.
- Come ti senti? – domanda la voce. Se Kurt avesse abbastanza energie, si volterebbe a guardarlo con un sopracciglio inarcato, lasciando alla propria espressione scocciata la giusta risposta che una simile idiota domanda può meritare, ma dal momento che non riesce nemmeno a piegare il collo, e dal momento che, visto il buio, difficilmente l’uomo riuscirebbe a notare la sua espressione in ogni caso, si sforza di rispondere.
- Una merda. – geme a fatica. L’uomo non sembra turbato dal suo linguaggio, non più di tanto, almeno.
- Sai dove ti trovi? – domanda.
- Che cazzo di medico sei? – si lamenta Kurt, togliendosi di dosso quella che adesso riconosce come una maschera ad ossigeno e cercando di raccogliere abbastanza forza nelle braccia da spingersi a sedere, - Da dove cazzo vieni fuori? Dio, la mia testa…
- Stai giù. – ordina il dottore, appoggiandogli una mano sulla spalla. Non lo spinge verso il basso più di tanto, ma al momento il corpo di Kurt è talmente privo di energie che probabilmente volerebbe via con la stessa folata di vento, per cui quella lieve pressione è più che sufficiente per costringerlo a rimettersi disteso. – È inutile che provi ad alzarti, probabilmente potrai domani, ma provarci adesso sarebbe un inutile spreco di tempo. Ora è importante che tu capisca dove ti trovi e perché sei qui.
- Senti, vaffanculo. – sbotta Kurt, passandosi una mano sugli occhi e soffiando indispettito quando sente l’ago conficcato nel suo avambraccio tirare dolorosamente. – Cazzo… non ne avevo abbastanza di buchi addosso, eh?
- Quando ti ho portato qui eri gravemente denutrito e disidratato. Il medico ha dovuto—
- Aspetta. – Kurt lo interrompe, gli occhi finalmente aperti, la voce non più insopportabilmente rauca, - Aspetta, cosa cazzo vuol dire “quando mi hai portato qui”? E quale medico? Non sei tu che—
- Kurt, calmati. – prova a sussurrargli l’uomo, poggiandogli nuovamente una mano sulla spalla, ma Kurt si dimena, soffiando e lamentandosi quando l’ago conficcato nel braccio tira per certi suoi movimenti più bruschi di altri, e non c’è niente che l’uomo riesca a fare per fermarlo.
- Non mi calmo! – quasi urla Kurt, e urlerebbe davvero, se avesse abbastanza voce e fiato per farlo, - Dove cazzo sono? Chi cazzo sei tu?! Accendi la fottuta luce!
- Sono Dave. – dice lui, e Kurt spalanca gli occhi, lasciandosi ricadere sul lettino, nuovamente privo di forza. Non possibile. Non… non è possibile. – Dave Karofsky.
- Questo… - Kurt ridacchia, coprendosi il volto con entrambe le mani, - Questo non sta accadendo davvero. Non è possibile. Tu sei… non è possibile.
- Mi… Mi dispiace. – balbetta Dave, probabilmente senza neanche sapere per quale motivo dovrebbe stare scusandosi, in questo momento.
Restano in silenzio a lungo. Kurt si rifiuta di guardarlo ed è contento che la luce sia spenta, perché gli dà una scusa in più per non costringersi a farlo. Di chiunque avrebbe potuto trovarlo nelle condizioni in cui deve averlo trovato Karofsky, proprio lui. Proprio lui, dannazione. È la cosa più crudele che gli sia mai capitato di vivere, e lui di roba crudele nella sua vita ne ha vista parecchia. Questa valica ogni limite e confine. Questa non è più nemmeno crudeltà, questo è sadismo.
- Vattene via. – mormora dopo qualche minuto, continuando a nascondersi dietro le proprie mani pressate contro il viso. Non lo ringrazia neanche per avergli salvato la vita, d’altronde, perché dovrebbe?
- Mi dispiace. – ripete Karofsky, e per un secondo Kurt ha paura che possa rispondergli che invece intende rimanere. Il suo tono di voce, fortunatamente, è abbastanza arreso da rassicurarlo sul punto, e dove la voce non era riuscita a spazzare via le ultime incertezze, ci pensano i suoi passi lenti e pesanti sul pavimento poco dopo ad assicurargli che sì, sta proprio andando via, finalmente. – Tornerò a trovarti. – butta lì mentre è sulla soglia della porta, una mano già sulla maniglia.
- Vattene via e basta. – insiste lui, lasciandosi scivolare disteso sul lettino, fin quasi a nascondersi completamente sotto il lenzuolo.
Quando Dave esce, richiudendosi la porta alle spalle, lui sta già piangendo. È un pianto diverso rispetto a quelli a cui si è abituato di recente. Ultimamente ha pianto solo per i dolori atroci che gli scuotevano tutto il corpo durante le crisi d’astinenza quando non poteva permettersi una dose, mai per pura e semplice tristezza nei confronti di se stesso. Tristezza, o pietà, o disprezzo per se stesso, non importa. Qualsiasi cosa sia, gli stringe il petto in una morsa, gli mozza il respiro riducendolo in singhiozzi, e le lacrime che gli scorrono lungo le guance, adesso, sono quasi di conforto.
Nonostante tutto, è ancora vivo.
Santana è sul divano, raggomitolata in una coperta che dovrebbe avere qualcosa come il doppio dei suoi anni. A sentire lei, si tratta del suo tesoro più prezioso, una coperta patchwork che sua nonna ha cucito a mano prima che nascesse, con l’intenzione di regalargliela. Fra le migliaia di cose che Dave ha sempre trovato deliziose di Santana – fra quelle che ha sempre trovato tali e le altre che ha dovuto imparare a riconoscere come tali nel corso del tempo per assicurarsi una serena convivenza – questa è indubbiamente una delle più carine.
Santana è una donna forte. Ha tenuto in piedi praticamente da sola una commedia durata quasi vent’anni, e non si è mai lamentata. Ma riesce ad essere così forte solo aggrappandosi disperatamente a ciò che ama come ad un salvagente in mezzo alla tempesta.
Dave trova adorabile che una tale spaventosa forza d’animo derivi da una simile disperata fragilità di fondo. Ma d’altronde, è probabilmente lo stesso che si potrebbe dire anche di lui; solo che, per qualche motivo, quando pensa a se stesso riesce a vedere solo quanto patetiche siano le sue stupide debolezze, mentre quando pensa a Santana le stesse debolezze che imputa come peccati capitali a se stesso diventano nient’altro che ridicoli, trascurabili, minuscoli difetti che, più che renderla una persona peggiore, la rendono in qualche modo perfino migliore di quanto già non sia.
- Ero preoccupata. – sorride lei, sentendosi scivolare le sue labbra lungo il collo e sollevando una mano per accarezzargli la nuca, mentre piega il capo per favorire i suoi movimenti, - Cos’è successo?
- Mi hanno chiamato per un consulto dall’ospedale. – risponde, appoggiando l’impermeabile sullo schienale del divano e scivolando seduto accanto a lei. Mentire è di una semplicità quasi imbarazzante, probabilmente frutto di tutti gli anni di pratica. Non aveva mai mentito a Santana, ma non lo stupisce più di tanto non trovare nessuna differenza fra il mentire a lei ed il mentire a tutti gli altri. È solo una menzogna in più, un’altra stupida macchia in più, qualcos’altro che smetterà di ricordare quando non avrà più motivo di continuare a farlo. Non è davvero importante. Non sono queste le cose che contano.
Santana è una cosa che conta. Mentre scioglie le lunghe gambe tenute fino a quel momento ripiegate sotto la coperta, e mentre gattona sul divano fino a raggiungerlo per poi lasciarsi ricadere seduta sulle sue ginocchia, guardandolo dal basso come una bimba impertinente.
Santana conta.
- Mi sei mancato.
Santana è l’unica cosa che conta.
- Anche tu.
Nient’altro oltre lei.
Ma quando chiude gli occhi e la bacia sulle labbra, a fargli compagnia è il fantasma di altre labbra premute contro le proprie in uno spogliatoio umido di un passato tanto antico da sembrare irreale.
Quando arriva in ospedale, l’indomani mattina, resta cinque minuti buoni sulla soglia della camera, scrutandone l’interno con aria allucinata.
È vuota.
Questo non dovrebbe poter essere possibile.
Afferra la prima infermiera che gli capita sottomano e le chiede che fine abbia fatto il paziente che alloggiava in questa camera fino alla sera prima, ma lei non ha neanche idea di chi stia parlando, e gli consiglia di rivolgersi al banco dell’accettazione per ottenere informazioni più precise. Dave sospira e grugnisce, ma non ha molte altre alternative, per cui percorre il corridoio al contrario fino all’ingresso e si mette a turno davanti al bancone, controllando l’orologio a intervalli regolari. Anche oggi, gli toccherà rimandare tutti gli appuntamenti della mattina.
- Dottor Karofsky? – lo chiama qualcuno, e in un primo momento Dave non riconosce la sua voce. Quando si volta, ci mette un po’ a collegare il viso illuminato da una smorfia di stupore infantile del medico che lo sta guardando, con quello del dottor Mason. – Che sorpresa! Come mai di nuovo qui?
Dave si volta a guardarlo, aggrottando le sopracciglia.
- Come sarebbe a dire “come mai”? – domanda, - Sono venuto a trovare—
- Sì, sì, immaginavo. – lo interrompe il dottor Mason, annuendo sbrigativamente, - È solo che credevo che sapesse che non era più qui.
- …non è più qui? – domanda Dave, la voce che trema appena, a metà fra lo sconcerto e l’incredulità, - L’avete lasciato andare?
- Be’, tecnicamente non potevamo trattenerlo, dottor Karofsky. – si giustifica lui, stringendosi nelle spalle, - Il signor Hummel stava bene, è uscito da questo ospedale sulle proprie gambe dopo aver espresso la ferma volontà di andare via. Sa com’è, questo è un ospedale, non una clinica… se c’è la possibilità di liberare una camera e dei macchinari che possano essere d’aiuto per qualcun altro, noi non possiamo—
- Ma la pianti! – lo interrompe Dave, agitando una mano a mezz’aria, - Quell’uomo stava sveglio a stento, fino a ieri! Era malnutrito e disidratato e palesemente sopravvissuto ad un’overdose, con che coraggio l’avete messo alla porta senza pensarci?! Avrei pagato io per quella stanza, anche per un mese, se avessi dovuto!
- Ma dottor Karofsky, gliel’ho detto! – insiste il dottor Mason, visibilmente imbarazzato, - Il signor Hummel ha abbandonato l’ospedale di sua spontanea iniziativa! Noi non abbiamo in alcun modo provato a convincerlo a—
- A restare! A restare, dottor Mason, è l’unica cosa che avreste dovuto fare! Provare a convincerlo a restare! – sbotta infastidito, incrociando le braccia sul petto e pinzandosi la radice del naso con due dita. – Ieri ha menzionato di avere un indirizzo, mi sbaglio?
- Dottor Karofsky… - sospira Mason, - Mi permetta di risparmiarle un viaggio a vuoto. L’indirizzo che il signor Hummel ci ha dato, così come i dati della sua assicurazione, sono falsi. Lasci perdere, non lo troverà lì.
- Dio, la pianti! Mi dia quel dannato indirizzo! – quasi urla lui, furioso. La quasi totalità dei presenti si volta a guardarli, ed a Dave neanche importa più. – Mi lasci essere molto chiaro, con lei, dottor Mason. – riprende parlando a bassa voce ed avvicinandoglisi abbastanza perché Mason soltanto possa sentirlo, - Ci tiene alla sua carriera in questo o in qualunque altro ospedale di questo stato?
Il dottor Mason deglutisce a fatica, annuendo lentamente.
- Bene. – annuisce anche Dave, tornando ad allontanarsi da lui, - Allora mi procuri quell’indirizzo.
Kurt si volta verso la porta e, per qualche secondo, si chiede se non abbia per caso sognato. Forse si è addormentato, e ciò che ha sentito è stato un frammento di sogno. La stanza è buia, invasa dal silenzio, e Kurt sta quasi per rimettersi disteso e provare ad addormentarsi ancora quando il suono si ripresenta.
Qualcuno sta bussando.
Non vuole aprire, probabilmente sarà il padrone di casa che, avendolo visto rientrare, avrà ben pensato di venire a battere cassa. Kurt non ha soldi da dargli – in realtà, al momento non ha soldi e basta. In questo preciso istante non è un problema perché, qualsiasi cosa gli abbiano dato per tenerlo sotto controllo in ospedale, sta tenendo a bada le fitte, ma sa già che l’idillio non può durare. Probabilmente, la prossima volta che si sveglierà sarà già in crisi. E quando allora non avrà soldi da spendere, saranno problemi veri.
Il suono si ripete, e Kurt si lascia sfuggire un mugolio insofferente, tirandosi la coperta fin sopra la testa e nascondendo il viso contro il cuscino. Vorrebbe urlare a chiunque si trovi oltre quella porta di lasciarlo in pace, e lo farebbe se non volesse provare a mantenere fino all’ultimo l’illusione di non essere nemmeno in casa.
Non tanto per l’uomo che bussa, quanto più per se stesso.
Non sono qui, non sono qui, non sono qui. Se me lo ripeto abbastanza spesso, forse…
- Kurt. – dice l’uomo dietro la porta, e Kurt spalanca gli occhi nel buio. – Kurt, apri, per favore.
Si tira su a sedere un’altra volta, fissando la porta con gli occhi così sgranati che quasi gli fanno male. Stringe le dita con forza attorno alla coperta e trattiene perfino il respiro.
- Kurt… - riprende Dave, dopo un sospiro esasperato, - Dio, che cosa incredibilmente stupida. Senti, se non ci sei va bene, vuol dire che io sono un idiota, vivrò con la consapevolezza, ma se ci sei… - sospira ancora, - Volevo solo dirti che mi dispiace di averti visto in quello stato. Cioè, - si affretta a correggersi, - mi dispiace perché immagino che per te sia stato orribile. Non avrei mai voluto… non lo so nemmeno io. In ogni caso, ci tenevo che tu sapessi che nonostante tutto sono… sono stato contento di vederti. Hai rimesso certe cose in prospettiva, credo. Io ho capito delle cose che— - è costretto ad interrompersi, perché la porta gli si spalanca a pochi centimetri dal viso. Kurt è lì sulla soglia che lo guarda con aria corrucciata, quasi offesa. Sembra stia meglio, rispetto a ieri.
- Entra. – lo invita, allontanandosi dalla porta per lasciarlo libero di passare. Dave obbedisce, si chiude la porta alle spalle e non è sorpreso di ritrovarsi immerso nel buio più totale.
Le tende alle finestre sono tirate, la luce è spenta. Kurt non vuole vederlo, o non vuole essere visto. O forse entrambe le cose insieme.
- Sono contento di vedere che stai meglio. – accenna con un sorriso.
- Non sto meglio. – risponde Kurt. Dave lo sente muoversi intorno a lui, sedersi da qualche parte. Lo immagina vedere al buio come i gatti, con quegli occhi così chiari e intensi che se solo ci ripensa si sente morire dentro. È surreale che abbia ancora quest’effetto su di lui.
- Allora mi dispiace. – ammette abbassando lo sguardo.
- Cosa puoi capirne… - sbuffa Kurt, - Tu non sai niente di me. Ed io non so niente di te. Non so nemmeno per quale motivo sei qui, adesso.
Dave si mordicchia l’interno di una guancia, riflettendoci quasi seriamente.
- Tu lo sai, vero, - dice alla fine, - che io sono sempre stato innamorato di te, fin da quando ti ho visto per la prima volta?
L’aria si fa tesa, fra loro. Può quasi sentire Kurt allontanarsi da lui, nonostante resti fermo nello stesso punto. È distante anni luce da quella stanza. Da quell’universo.
- Che importa, adesso? – risponde, - Ho visto che porti la fede.
- Ed avevo dimenticato perché. – insiste Dave, con un mezzo sorriso.
Kurt lascia andare una risata amara, che risuona nell’oscurità della stanza come una minaccia.
- Quindi posarmi gli occhi addosso e vedermi così devastato, dopo tutto questo tempo, ti ha aiutato a capire che hai fatto la scelta migliore dimenticandoti di me ed andando avanti con la tua vita? – domanda acido.
Dave lo sente alzarsi in piedi, e perde la traccia dei suoi movimenti.
- Non direi. – risponde, stringendosi nelle spalle, - Non ha proprio a che fare con te. Cioè, in parte sì. Non sono mai stato bravo a spiegarmi, ma tutto quello che ho adesso… tutto ciò che posseggo è una diretta conseguenza del non aver scelto te, in qualche modo, quando ero un ragazzino. Forse allora ho fatto la scelta peggiore, ma—
- Ma adesso sei felice? – Kurt parla, ed è a pochi centimetri da lui. Vicino, così vicino. Non soltanto in termini di spazio.
- Sì. – risponde Dave, sinceramente, - Lo sono.
Kurt sorride amaramente, appoggiandogli una mano sul petto.
- Mille secoli fa, io credevo di aver fatto la scelta migliore, sai? – sussurra dolcemente, - New York, Broadway, era tutto ciò che avevo sempre desiderato. – il suo sorriso si spegne appena. Dave non lo vede, ma lo sente, e gli spezza il cuore. – Ma evidentemente non ero abbastanza. Ero sbagliato io, probabilmente. Non lo so, non potrei giurarlo. So solo che è andata male, malissimo, e le conseguenze sono quelle che hai visto anche tu. Quindi, io forse ho fatto la scelta migliore, ma non sono felice. Non posso davvero rimproverarti per aver fatto quella peggiore, se almeno ti ha portato della felicità.
Dave solleva una mano e la chiude con forza attorno a quella di Kurt, ancora appoggiata sul suo petto.
- Può migliorare, Kurt. – gli dice, e ci crede davvero, - Posso—
- No. – Kurt gli sorride. Si solleva sulle punte, gli lascia sulle labbra il più impalpabile dei baci d’addio. – Vai da tua moglie, Dave. Tutto quello che avevi dimenticato fino a ieri, è giusto che torni a dimenticarlo adesso. – si interrompe, abbassa lo sguardo. Nel sorriso che gli piega le labbra c’è tutta la rassegnazione del mondo. – Io non ho alcun bisogno di aiuto.
Dave torna a casa per pranzo, puntuale. Santana ha cucinato per lui – non lo fa spesso, e Dave è molto grato ogni volta che accade. Ha indossato il grembiule e sta giocando a fare la mogliettina devota per stuzzicarlo. Dave sorride per ogni sua battuta, ed è sincero. Le stringe una mano fra le proprie, ed è sincero. La bacia sulle labbra, e quando l’ombra delle labbra di Kurt si sovrappone alle sue la accetta, la accoglie, la saluta come con un vecchio amico. Vuole che resti lì per sempre. Ed è sincero. È più sincero di quanto non sia mai stato.
Genere: Introspettivo.
Pairing: Nessuno.
Rating: PG-13.
AVVERTIMENTI: Angst, Gen, Spoiler per il finale della 3x06.
- "Lui e Santana si assomigliano più di quanto entrambi possano tollerare. È stato questo ad avvicinarli ed è stata la stessa cosa a dividerli quando Dave ha scelto per sé una strada diversa, probabilmente più facile, ma della quale non ha ancora mai avuto motivo di pentirsi."
Note: Ho scritto questa storia perché questo è il modo in cui sarebbe dovuta andare la faccenda nella serie, ed odierò per sempre Murphy e la sua compagnia di troll incapaci (se già non li detestavo abbastanza prima, e per i motivi più vari) per aver sostanzialmente dimenticato una delle cose che più mi erano piaciute della s2 durante il break estivo. Che sarebbe ovviamente il Santofsky. Sono sempre stata ok con il pensiero che il Kurtofsky avrebbe potuto essere "messo via" con estrema facilità, ma per il Santofsky avevo delle speranze molto vive, che sono state crashate senza pietà XD E questo non potrà mai ottenere perdono.
Ciò detto, storia scritta per fillare il prompt #56 della Maritombola @ maridichallenge (fra due minuti), e per sconfiggere la malvagia scimmia Batz Kimil per il primo round della Zodiaco!Challenge @ fiumidiparole. #crosspostingisgood
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Quando Dave apre la porta e ci trova dietro Santana, gli salta il cuore in gola, e non riesce più a respirare. Non è tanto per il semplice fatto di rivederla quando non pensava che sarebbe mai più successo, quanto più per il modo in cui la vede. Dall’ultima volta che le ha posato gli occhi addosso sono passati mesi, ma ricorda ancora abbastanza bene com’era stare con lei, da sapere che le lacrime che le inondano gli occhi non sono di mera rabbia, né di semplice frustrazione, ma sono entrambe queste cose unite ad una tristezza talmente violenta da prenderlo alla base dello stomaco, come sempre, ricordandogli che l’anno scorso ad unirli non è stata la paura di un ricatto puerile tanto nella forma quanto nelle intenzioni, ma la consapevolezza di una somiglianza così intima e profonda da risultare perfino disturbante. Spaventosa. Dolorosa.
Lui e Santana si assomigliano più di quanto entrambi possano tollerare. È stato questo ad avvicinarli ed è stata la stessa cosa a dividerli quando Dave ha scelto per sé una strada diversa, probabilmente più facile, ma della quale non ha ancora mai avuto motivo di pentirsi.
Ma Santana, adesso, coi suoi occhi scuri e persi e rossi e umidi, e il fiatone, e i capelli scuri scompigliati sulla fronte, sta facendo vacillare tutte le sue certezze, e lui riesce ad accorgersi di aver trattenuto il fiato per una quantità spropositata di secondi solo quando comincia a dolergli il petto.
- …che ti è successo? – domanda, il groppo in gola che impedisce alla sua voce di fuoriuscire libera, e la trasforma in un rantolo pietoso. Vorrebbe poter smettere di sentire Santana tanto profondamente da soffrire fisicamente ogni volta che si ritrovano a condividere lo stesso spazio, ma d’altronde è una questione che si porta ancora dietro dall’anno prima, e se non è ancora riuscito a liberarsene è ragionevole credere che non ci riuscirà mai. Perciò sospira, e cerca di continuare a guardarla anche se l’unica cosa che vorrebbe adesso è trovare abbastanza coraggio da voltarle le spalle e dirle che per lei non c’è più posto, nella sua nuova vita.
- Fammi entrare.
La voce di Santana è ferma, nonostante le lacrime che le rigano le guance. Anche il suo sguardo è sicuro, così come la sua richiesta è netta.
Dave si fa da parte, lasciandola passare.
- Mi vuoi spiegare che cosa è successo? – insiste, chiudendosi la porta alle spalle e seguendola mentre lei attraversa l’ingresso e il corridoio e, come fosse a casa propria, imbocca le scale per salire al piano di sopra. – Santana? – la chiama, dato che la sua domanda non ottiene risposta. Le va dietro, restando indietro di un paio di passi giusto per capire dov’è che stia andando, e si rassegna ad affiancarla solo quando le vede spalancare la porta di camera sua. – È un casino. – la avverte, aggrottando le sopracciglia mentre appoggia la mano sulla sua, stretta attorno alla maniglia.
Santana gli lancia un’occhiata liquida e cupa.
- Non mi importa. – risponde. Dave sospira, e la lascia entrare. La osserva mentre si guarda intorno, adocchiando il pc acceso col browser aperto su una pagina della Wiki, e il piccolo televisore in un angolo acceso anch’esso, col volume al minimo. – Non è così incasinata. – commenta, risistemando appena le coperte sul letto per sedersi su una sponda, le dita che affondano nel piumone colorato, le gambe accavallate lasciate scoperte da una delle sue solite vertiginose minigonne.
- Santana… - Dave sospira, sedendosi sulla poltroncina con le rotelle mezza rotta che non riesce mai a fare il giro completo su se stessa e si blocca sempre a metà, - Mi dici che c’è?
Santana gli solleva addosso gli occhi. Il suo sguardo è scuro e impenetrabile, come al solito, tinto della sfumatura pericolosa che spesso il modo che ha di stendere l’eye-liner gli dà. Dave se n’è sempre sentito piuttosto intimorito, ed ha come l’impressione che Santana stia cercando di fargli paura anche adesso.
Non le riesce molto bene.
Dave la osserva sospirare e piegare lievemente le spalle, come abbattendosi sotto il peso di chissà che tristezza epocale, e non può fare a meno di pensare con un sorriso a quanto tutto con Santana sembri moltiplicato per mille, ogni sensazione ed emozione.
“Drama queen”, sta per dirle, ma poi Santana parla.
- Fra meno di due minuti, la mia vita sarà rovinata per sempre. – dice con un filo di voce. Non aggiunge altro, e Dave inarca un sopracciglio, sospettoso.
- E non avevi nessun altro posto in cui essere, in questo momento così importante? – domanda ironico, e si sente un cretino quando Santana gli solleva addosso un’altra occhiata così triste che Dave a stento si sente in grado di sostenerne il peso. – Tana…? – la chiama ancora, preoccupato, ma lei torna a guardare il pavimento, sfuggente. – Tana, che cosa è successo?
Lei lancia un’occhiata improvvisamente allarmata al televisore. Il telegiornale è finito, fra poco comincia la partita – ovverosia, il motivo per cui Dave la stava tenendo accesa col volume a zero – in questo momento c’è la pubblicità.
- Spegni. – dice di fretta, la voce quasi rauca.
- Che? – si lagna Dave, afferrando il telecomando appoggiato in punta su un angolo della scrivania e stringendoselo al petto, - No!
- Spegni. – ripete lei, le dita così strette attorno al copriletto da imbiancarle le nocche.
Dave deglutisce, la guarda senza capirla – come, d’altronde, è sempre successo – e infine obbedisce, spegnendo la televisione e lanciandole il telecomando per buona misura. Lo osserva planare sul cuscino accanto a lei. Santana lo guarda, ma poi lo lascia lì.
- Tana, non capisco. – sospira Dave, scuotendo il capo, - Parlami. Di’ qualcosa.
Santana deglutisce. Stringe i pugni, sospira a propria volta, poi lo guarda, e c’è qualcosa, nei suoi occhi, qualcosa che Dave non ci ha mai visto riflesso dentro.
- Abbracciami. – gli chiede con un filo di voce.
È una preghiera. Dave non è mai stato pregato da nessuno, neanche da suo padre per cercare di convincerlo a studiare meglio, o a fare più il bravo quando era piccolo.
È la prima volta che sente un tono simile rivolto a sé, ed il fatto che a portarne le tinte sia la voce di Santana, per qualche motivo, rende la richiesta ancora più pressante.
E Dave non la rifiuta.
Si sveglia ore dopo, Santana sta ancora dormendo. Sulla strada, fuori, è calata l’oscurità. Suo padre, di sotto, sta guardando la televisione, si sentono le risate pre-registrate della sit-com delle otto fin su al primo piano. Dave odia le risate pre-registrate, le odia fin da quando era bambino. È per questo che le sit-com non gli sono mai piaciute. Le risate sembravano dovergli indicare quando e perché ridere, e quando partivano senza che lui avesse capito la battuta non facevano altro che farlo sentire stupido. Certe volte pensava che suo padre lo facesse apposta a continuare a guardarle anche se a lui non piacevano, e lo odiava per questo. Ha capito poi, col tempo, che suo padre non voleva fargli intenzionalmente del male, semplicemente non poteva sapere di ferirlo se Dave per primo non glielo faceva presente. Un insegnamento di cui avrebbe dovuto far tesoro nel tempo, e che invece si ostina a tenere nascosto, e ricordare solo di tanto in tanto.
Bisogna parlare. Bisogna dire chiaramente le cose.
Si solleva piano, reggendosi su un gomito. L’altro braccio e intrappolato, Santana lo stringe come una bambola. Bisogna parlare, Santana. Vorrebbe dirglielo, e invece si limita a sussurrarglielo. Lei però dorme, e nemmeno lo sente.
Dave sospira, disincastrando il braccio dalla stretta di Santana e scivolando silenziosamente giù dal letto, per non disturbarla. Il materasso scricchiola e ondeggia appena sotto il suo peso. Santana si muove, cambia posizione, rotola nella parte di letto che fino a pochi secondi prima ospitava lui e si raggomitola nella conca che il suo corpo ha lasciato sulle lenzuola, assorbendone il calore in un mugolio soddisfatto.
Dave si lascia sfuggire un mezzo sorriso intenerito, scuotendo lievemente il capo. Poi sbadiglia, si sente in bocca un sapore disgustoso e stabilisce che può scendere di sotto ad avvertire suo padre che è vivo, approfittandone per razziare il frigorifero.
- Ohi, pa’. – lo saluta, saltando giù due scalini alla volta e trotterellando serenamente in cucina. Da quando ha cambiato scuola, da quando cioè i suoi voti sono tornati quelli di un tempo e la sua condotta è tornata quella di un normale ragazzo all’ultimo anno di liceo, i loro rapporti sono di molto migliorati. La casa non è più fredda e inospitale come più volte gli era parso che fosse quando tutto intorno a lui faceva schifo oltre ogni limite e confine. Adesso, lui e suo padre possono anche salutarsi così, con un “ohi pa’” e un cenno della mano da sopra lo schienale del divano, quando prima ci sarebbero state domande scomode, e occhiate torve, e altre occhiate addolorate e deluse.
- Non credevo neanche che fossi in casa. – commenta Paul Karofsky, le gambe accavallate e la vecchia tuta da ginnastica un po’ sdrucita che gli lascia scoperte le caviglie, - La luce in camera era spenta.
- Dormivo. – risponde Dave, rovistando all’interno del frigorifero con una smorfia insoddisfatta, - Papà, ma non c’è neanche un po’ di formaggio o della senape o che so io.
- Ci sono delle carote sbucciate, se vuoi. – fa spallucce suo padre, con un mezzo ghigno, e Dave tira fuori la lingua con aria esageratamente disgustata. Suo padre e la sua mania per il cibo sano. Palesemente lo porterà alla morte, o qualcosa del genere.
Alla fine, si accontenta di arraffare il cartone del succo d’arancia e bere direttamente da lì, un sorso dopo l’altro, mentre si avvicina al divano e sbircia il televisore.
- Che guardi? – domanda, più per fare conversazione che per vera curiosità. Suo padre scrolla le spalle.
- Qualcosa con Tim Allen. – risponde, - Vecchie repliche. Non ero neanche attento. – commenta con una risatina. Dave sorride a propria volta, bevendo un altro sorso di succo d’arancia. Che però quasi gli va di traverso.
La sit-com è finita, ma quella che Dave sta guardando adesso non è pubblicità. Non ci assomiglia neanche. È uno di quegli spot elettorali che ultimamente stanno andando sempre più spesso, in tutte le fasce orarie. Quello della coach Sylvester è più invasivo di un viral video.
Questo però non è lo spot elettorale della coach Sylvester. Appartiene a qualcun altro. Dello stesso stampo, si direbbe, a giudicare dalla cattiveria, ma decisamente non è lei. Lei non avrebbe mai potuto fare una cosa del genere. No, non a Santana.
- Dave… - lo chiama suo padre, inarcando un sopracciglio e indicando lo schermo, perplesso, - Non è quella tua amica? – domanda.
Dave deglutisce a fatica, stringendo il cartone dell’aranciata fra le mani così forte da schiacciarlo.
Non la sveglia lui, aspetta che sia lei a svegliarsi da sola. Adesso che sa cos’è successo, immagina che Santana abbia bisogno di riposarsi, o comunque sia di dormire. Se una cosa simile accadesse a lui, Dave sa che non avrebbe la minima voglia di stare sveglio, di tenere costantemente gli occhi aperti su un mondo che lo guarda con sospetto, magari perfino con schifo. Soprattutto, non sopporterebbe di doversi guardare allo specchio da solo, e cosa ancora peggiore, non riuscirebbe a sopportare gli sguardi pieni di pietà di chi “lo capirebbe” e deciderebbe di “restargli vicino”.
Ora, lui capisce Santana. E vuole starle vicino. Ma al contempo non vuole che Santana lo trovi fastidioso e irritante come lui sa che farebbe a parti invertite, perciò lascia che sia lei a tornare da lui, coi suoi tempi. Come d’altronde ha sempre fatto.
Santana apre gli occhi solo mezz’ora dopo, stiracchiandosi appena per poi tornare a rannicchiarsi su un fianco, tirandosi la copertina di lana che Dave le ha steso addosso fin sotto al mento. Gli sorride, le labbra che si piegano appena nella luce della luna ancora bassa sul cielo che filtra attraverso le imposte, rischiarando la stanza in strisce oblunghe che vanno sfumandosi sempre di più tanto più si allontanano sulla parete di fronte al letto.
- Che ore sono? – domanda con un mezzo sbadiglio. Dave le sorride a propria volta.
- Quasi ora di cena. – le risponde, e Santana si lascia andare ad un mugolio piagnucoloso davvero poco da lei.
- Pensi che potrei restare qui, per stasera? – gli domanda, - Adoro come cucina tuo padre.
Lui le sorride ancora. Si solleva dalla sedia dove è rimasto seduto fino ad adesso e si sposta sulla sponda del letto, allungando una mano a scostarle una ciocca di capelli dal viso.
Poi la sua espressione si fa grave, quasi solenne, venata da una tristezza profonda e palpabile, e Santana sa già cosa Dave sta per dire, prima ancora che lui sia riuscito a formulare il pensiero nella propria mente.
- Abbiamo visto lo spot, Tana. – le dice in un sospiro, e lei si irrigidisce, chiudendo le dita come tenaglie attorno alla coperta.
Non sa cosa le abbia dato l’illusione di poter credere che nascondendosi in casa di Dave, nel suo letto, fra le sue braccia, in qualche modo il tempo potesse fermarsi, o tutte le cose che la facevano soffrire potessero sparire. Forse perché in realtà era quello che succedeva quando lui stava ancora al McKinley e fingevano di stare insieme: la sua presenza allontanava le dicerie, le minacce, lasciandosi andare ad un bacio o due in macchina nel tentativo di scacciare via le voci dalla testa e dallo stomaco, prima ancora che dai corridoi, Santana poteva ancora illudersi che fosse tutto a posto, tutto normale, come al solito.
Ma questa casa, pur con le sue pareti spesse e solide, non può bastare a tenere fuori la realtà. E Santana si sente stupida per averci anche solo creduto.
- …è una catastrofe. – sussurra abbassando lo sguardo, gli occhi che tornano a riempirsi di lacrime. Non vorrebbe piangere, sente di aver già pianto abbastanza, per oggi. Sente di aver già sofferto abbastanza. E si sente ancora più stupida quando si accorge di non riuscire a smettere. Credeva di essere più forte di così. Credeva di essere invincibile. Non era vero.
- Tana… - mormora Dave, sollevandola di peso dal letto e stringendosela contro, avvolgendole le braccia attorno alle spalle sottili, già scosse dai singhiozzi, - Non preoccuparti. Si sistemerà tutto. Andrà meglio. – mente, un sussurro dopo l’altro fra i suoi capelli scomposti che adesso hanno lo stesso profumo del cotone fresco di bucato delle sue lenzuola. Santana scuote il capo perché non ci crede, ormai non crede più a niente, ma Dave non si ferma. Continua a bisbigliarle bugie, perché non importa che qualcosa sia vero, l’importante è che Santana riesca a crederci, e lui la costringerà a farlo, fosse anche solo prendendola per stanchezza. – Sistemeremo tutto. – le dice, guardandola negli occhi e annuendo lentamente, - Te lo prometto. C’è sempre una soluzione.
Santana si asciuga le lacrime, ed annuisce più per imitazione che perché si senta davvero convinta.
- Dimmi che posso restare. – insiste, strofinando il viso contro la sua maglietta, - Tuo padre è gentile. Non dirà niente di cattivo, vero? – domanda speranzosa.
Dave sa che suo padre non si permetterebbe mai di fare una cosa simile, ed annuisce con la certezza di poter promettere a Santana che, finché resterà in quella casa, loro sapranno come proteggerla.
Al mondo di fuori penseranno domani. Non sembrerà più semplice, forse, ma ad affrontarlo saranno in due.
Genere: Commedia, Romantico.
Pairing: Kurt/Dave, Kurt/Blaine, Kurt/Finn (accennato), Finn/Rachel, Finn/Quinn, Blaine/Jeremiah, Rachel/Jesse, Burt/Sue (WTF).
Rating: R/NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: AU, Crossdressing, Slash, Crack, OOC.
- Sono ormai più di cent'anni che nel feudo di Lima, governato dalla nobile casata degli Hummel ormai da generazioni, non nasce più una bambina. Il popolo ha ormai escluso tutte le ipotesi più allarmanti - infertilità? Com'è possibile, dal momento che le donne continuano a partorire figli maschi? Tare genetiche? Com'è possibile, dal momento che perfino le donne straniere, una volta entrate nel territorio, sembrano incapaci di partorire femmine? - ma una resta ancora in piedi, ed è l'ipotesi alla quale credono fermamente il principe Blaine Anderson, il suo fedele amico il principe Jesse St. James e il gruppo di consiglieri della Dalton, rinomata scuola in quel di Westerville, capitale del regno: potrebbe trattarsi della maledizione di una strega, ed è per questo che una spedizione composta dal principe e dal proprio seguito si reca a Lima, intenzionata a prendere alloggio alla dimora degli Hummel e investigare più approfonditamente sulla faccenda.
La cosa, come spesso accade, non sarà che l'inizio di una serie di incredibili eventi che porteranno le vite di tutti i personaggi in gioco a cambiare irrimediabilmente per sempre.
Note: Allora, questa storia era tipo nata per chiudersi nel giro di una decina di pagine, giuro XD Doveva essere una roba abbastanza breve, del tutto crack, e solo Kurtofsky. Poi non so cosa è cambiato nella mia testa (qualcosa di brutto, indubbiamente), ed ho finito per infilarci qualsiasi cosa, tra le quali otto milioni di pairing e, soprattutto, UNA TRAMA. Le trame, come tutti sapete, sono le nostre nemiche. Noi le odiamo. Sì? Boh. Comunque questa storia non ne aveva bisogno, e infatti appena è arrivata BUM! ventordici milioni di parole. Dolore.
Insomma, tutto ciò per dire: non leggete questa storia. Mai.
Nota a magine: Sarpe appartiene alla Lokex XDDDDDD Non ho saputo resistere.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.
«Io ho… ho solo bisogno di più tempo. Più tempo, capisci? Per vedere dove mi porteranno i miei studi.»
La ragazza sorrise, stringendosi nelle spalle. «Sei ancora giovane» rispose, «Hai tutto il tempo che ti serve.»
«No, non è così» scosse il capo lui, avvicinandosi a lei e stringendo le sue mani pallide e sottili fra le proprie, «La mia scienza è già parecchio avanti rispetto a quella degli altri scienziati di questo paese, ma— non è sufficiente. Non mi serve solo qualche anno in più, non sto parlando di un paio di decenni, sto parlando di… tempo. Tempo vero. Quel tempo che quando lo guardi sembra infinito, quel tempo che ce n’è sempre abbastanza. Quel tempo lì serve a me.»
Rossa in viso, la ragazza deglutì, senza allontanarsi di un passo, ed anzi, ricambiando la stretta delle sue mani con le proprie. «Cent’anni? Duecento?» deglutì ancora. I suoi occhi scintillavano. Dalle sue dita partivano tenui raggi di luce che illuminavano la radura come stelle. La superficie del lago, resa nera come la pece dalla notte inoltrata, sembrava un cielo d’estate. «Io posso darteli» annuì, «Ma tu devi promettere.»
Lui non si allontanò. Avrebbe promesso la luna a chiunque, se solo gli avessero dato abbastanza anni per imparare a raggiungerla e catturarla in una gabbia. «Dimmi cosa devo promettere, e lo prometterò.»
«Prometti…» sussurrò la ragazza, avvicinandosi a lui e bisbigliando al suo orecchio. Lui spalancò gli occhi e, nell’ascoltare la sua voce gentile e ciò che diceva, si lasciò sfuggire una risatina divertita. Non poteva essere che uno sciocco gioco, lei non poteva aiutarlo. Ma lui le avrebbe comunque promesso ciò che voleva, per ringraziarla di averlo ascoltato ed aver provato ad illuderlo che un modo per sconfiggere il tempo esistesse davvero.
Chinandosi sulle sue labbra e sfiorandole in un bacio lievissimo, promise.

Partì l’indomani. Non la rivide più.


Erano ormai più di cento anni che nel Principato non nascevano bambine. A quanto pareva, non si trattava di una questione di infertilità – le schiave straniere che sovente venivano prese ad oggetto dei favori dei signorotti del paese partorivano spesso e volentieri, ma solo maschi – quanto più di semplice sfortuna, o, come credevano altri, compresi i componenti del Consiglio della Dalton, che nella capitale del principato, Westerville, si occupavano di servire il principe Blaine facendo uso di tutta la loro cultura e saggezza, di una maledizione, gettata sul Principato da qualche malvagia fattucchiera o da un principe di un altro paese, geloso delle ampie ricchezze che anche a quel tempo, nonostante la carenza di figlie femmine, continuavano a benedire il Principato.
Mentre gli alchimisti della capitale cercavano di risolvere il problema, preparando unguenti e pozioni da somministrare alle schiave nella speranza che potessero riprendere a partorire figlie femmine, e mentre ogni sei mesi da Westerville partivano spedizioni nelle foreste circostanti il Principato nella speranza di trovare l’antro della malvagia strega che si riteneva responsabile di questa incresciosa situazione, nelle campagne e nei piccoli villaggi circostanti la capitale la vita aveva continuato a svolgersi tranquillamente, priva di preoccupazioni eccessive.
Lord Burt Hummel, ad esempio, che governava con amore e giustizia il piccolo villaggio di Lima, era convinto che tutte le teorie del Consiglio non fossero altro che baggianate. Lui, da sempre seguace delle teorie razionaliste dei colti studiosi dell’Accademia McKinley, orgoglio e vanto del villaggio, era più propenso a credere che si trattasse di una semplice – improbabile, ma non del tutto impossibile – flessione delle nascite, come ogni tanto se ne vedevano in quella regione, specie nei periodi di magra o di carestia. Certo, sarebbe stato molto più semplice e probabile che le nascite calassero tutte, maschili o femminili che fossero, ma si poteva forse condannare il caso per avere azzerato le nascite delle bambine soltanto? Naturalmente no. Prima o poi le femmine avrebbero ricominciato a nascere, e tutto si sarebbe messo a posto da sé.
Fino a quel momento, però, ci si sarebbe dovuti arrangiare, ed era secondo questo principio che Lord Hummel aveva deciso di educare il suo secondogenito, il signorino Kurt. Le schiave, infatti, andavano bene per placare gli appetiti sessuali dei giovani signorotti del paese e della campagna, certo, e potevano andare bene perfino per generare i loro eredi, ma di sicuro non potevano essere presentate a corte, non potevano entrare a far parte della società e tantomeno potevano entrare a far parte delle famiglie nobiliari che reggevano i vari villaggi, o tantomeno la Capitale. No, solo una donna di sangue blu avrebbe potuto occupare il posto che ad una donna di sangue blu era destinato. E se tali donne scarseggiavano, be’, era con ciò che si aveva a disposizione che si doveva lavorare.
Kurt era sempre stato un fanciullo molto delicato ed elegante, e perciò Burt non invidiava affatto tutti i signori dei paesi circostanti che, saputo della sua geniale idea, avevano provato a replicare coi loro figlioli quanto lui aveva fatto col proprio. La sola immagine di tutti quei monelli sporchi di fango e cioccolato, ripuliti e risistemati e ficcati a forza in un casto abito da donzella, lo divertiva oltremodo. Con Kurt, invece, era stato tutto molto più semplice, quasi non c’era stato nemmeno bisogno di forzarlo ad indossare la gonna. Kurt l’aveva fatto di propria spontanea iniziativa, così come sempre era accaduto anche quando aveva cominciato ad interessarsi alle femminee arti del canto, del cucito e dell’educata e lieve conversazione che a tutte le donzelle del suo rango era appropriata, e che lui, pur non essendo una donzella, era in grado di padroneggiare splendidamente.
In breve tempo, la voce che il secondogenito di Lord Hummel aveva assunto il ruolo della donzella di casa aveva fatto il giro del Principato, ed ovunque avevano cominciato a verificarsi casi analoghi, ma Kurt, nella sua virginea e pallida perfezione, restava l’esempio migliore che si potesse trovare in tutto il paese, un fiore di rara bellezza che tutti i villaggi limitrofi invidiavano a Lima, ben consapevoli di non avere nessuna speranza di riuscire a dare alla luce un giorno un bambino che fosse abbastanza bello e delicato da provare anche solo ad imitare le meraviglie di cui il signorino Kurt sembrava custode per volere di Dio in persona.
Con una tale luce a risplendere dal cortile e dalle finestre della villa in campagna di Lord Hummel, non c’era da stupirsi che, contrariamente a quanto accadeva in tutto il resto del Principato, ove i villaggi erano ormai diventati luoghi tristi dove altrettanti tristi caricature di giovani ragazze in boccio vagavano tristemente per le strade rattristando l’occhio già triste dei viandanti che tristemente si trovavano a passare per quei tristi luoghi, Lima rappresentasse se non meta di pellegrinaggio comunque un luogo allegro sul quale fermarsi per un po’ di ristoro, soprattutto per chi viaggiava a cavallo da giorni ed aveva ancora davanti a sé molta strada da percorrere.
Quando, quel giorno, Lord Hummel – impegnato ad intrattenersi con uno dei suoi pochi vezzi, quello di calare le braccia fino ai gomiti nei meccanismi di certe macchine a olio e a vapore che amava progettare e costruire – vide il giovane garzone Sam correre lungo il viale principale che conduceva al cortile della propria villa, scalzo come sempre ma sporco di terra e polvere più di quanto non l’avesse mai visto, immediatamente gli andò incontro, rallegrato dalla possibilità che il ragazzo portasse con sé notizie di un qualche diversivo che fosse in viaggio verso di loro dalla Capitale, per distrarsi un po’ dalla calura asfissiante con lui l’inizio della primavera li stava flagellando, e che provocava a tutti gli abitanti della tenuta un fastidio che neanche la presenza di Kurt riusciva a lenire.
- Ordunque, ragazzo! – lo fermò, poggiando le mani ancora sporche d’olio e grasso sulle sue spalle, mentre attorno a loro s’andava via via formando un crocchio di persone sempre più ampio, composto dal fattore Puck, dal medico di corte Artie, dalla cuoca Mercedes, dalla maestra di canto Rachel, dai due camerieri di origine orientale Mike e Tina e dalle due dame di compagnia di Kurt, Brittany e Santana, - Placati e doma il tuo affanno, e racconta al tuo padrone cosa ti spinge a correre così a perdifiato per i nostri bei campi, quando dovresti essere giù al villaggio ad occuparti delle spese per la famiglia tutta.
- Mio signore, - esordì Sam con entusiasmo, cercando di respirare normalmente, - stavo appunto recandomi al villaggio con le mie sporte vuote, per comprare i cibi e le bevande che mi avevate ordinato di procurarmi al mercato, quando all’improvviso di fronte a me vidi giungere un gruppo di nobiluomini a cavallo!
- Nobiluomini a cavallo! – ripeté Burt, sorridendo compiaciuto, - Viaggiatori? Principi dei paesi vicini? Granduchi e visconti diretti al mare e costretti a passare per Lima per un po’ di ristoro?
- Meglio, mio signore! – riprese Sam, quasi saltando sul posto mentre il suo pubblico rumoreggiava, educatamente raggruppato a qualche centimetro da Burt, che ancora lo teneva per le spalle, - Inizialmente mi era sembrato di non riuscire a riconoscere chi guidasse il molto onorevole drappello di gentiluomini, ma quando essi mi si sono avvicinati abbastanza non ho più avuto scuse, e d’altronde non so come sia possibile non riconoscere il regale portamento, la fiera chioma riccia e corvina e gli splendidi occhi del nostro sovrano, il principe Blaine!
- Cosa? – quasi gridò Burt, al colmo della gioia, mentre la folla si apriva in un urlo di festa, - Stai forse dicendo che sua maestà il principe sta per giungere in questa casa?
- È a meno di mezz’ora di viaggio, mio signore! – rispose Sam, indicando la strada, - I nobiluomini si sono fermati a far ristorare i cavalli sulle rive del lago a pochi chilometri da qui, ed io ho cercato di correre il più velocemente possibile per avvertirvi!
- Ed il tuo sforzo sarà premiato. – annuì Burt, battendogli un paio di pacche sulle spalle. – Puck, libera il ragazzo dai suoi pesi. – ordinò, - Di quanti uomini stiamo parlando? – chiese quindi, mentre Puck obbediva e sollevava le sporte che Sam ancora trascinava, strisciandole al suolo.
- Una decina, mio signore. – rispose subito Sam, con un lieve cenno del capo, - Oltre al nostro principe ho riconosciuto i suoi fedeli compagni, Lord Wesley Montgomery, Lord David Thompson e Lord Thad Harwood, ed essi sono accompagnati da un aitante biondo signore che non ho mai visto prima, ma di sicuro dev’essere un principe, tanto fiera e regale è la sua figura!
- Sentito, Tina, Mike? – disse Burt, voltandosi a guardare i due camerieri che, trascinati dai festeggiamenti degli altri, si affrettarono a ricomporsi e profondersi in ampi cenni del capo in direzione del loro signore per dimostrare di aver riacquistato il controllo su loro stessi, - Preparate le camere, arieggiate la villa, disponete tutto per l’arrivo dei nostri graditi ospiti, e Brittany, Santana? – chiamò, cercando con gli occhi le due dame nella folla. Esse mossero un passo avanti agli altri per farsi notare, inchinandosi di fronte a lui. – Correte ad avvertire Kurt. – disse quindi Burt, sorridendo con orgoglio, - Che sia pronto per l’arrivo di sua maestà.
Brittany e Santana annuirono e sorrisero, per poi sollevare le gonne e correre celermente verso casa, alla ricerca di Kurt. Mentre tutta la servitù riprendeva l’usuale attività, Burt si deterse le mani su un panno pulito e restò in mezzo al viale, accanto al proprio marchingegno, a scrutare l’orizzonte, tendendo l’orecchio per essere pronto a captare il più lieve segnale che potesse suggerire l’avvicinarsi di una mandria di cavalli al galoppo. La giornata si apprestava a diventare molto più interessante, e in molti sensi. D’altronde, era risaputo che il principe stesse cercando moglie, ed era altrettanto ovvio che non avrebbe potuto sposare una serva. E se le donne scarseggiavano, pensò Burt con un sorriso soddisfatto, be’, era con ciò che si aveva a disposizione che si doveva lavorare.
Finn e Kurt erano nati da due madri diverse, ma ciò non era mai stato d’impedimento per l’affetto genuinamente fraterno che li legava. Finn aveva sempre ammirato Kurt per la sua bellezza, la sua educazione e la sua delicatezza. Lui che fin da piccolo non aveva voluto altro che andare in guerra, girare il mondo e servire la propria patria – e che poi era stato doppiamente deluso dal proprio destino, che non solo lo legava per sempre ai possedimenti paterni e che perciò avrebbe fatto di lui un proprietario terriero prima che un soldato, ma che per giunta aveva gettato il Principato nella più noiosa e lunga pace che si fosse mai vista in quel Paese, proprio in corrispondenza con la sua adolescenza e quella che dunque avrebbe potuto essere la sua prima chiamata alle armi – trovava incredibilmente divertente quel fratellino-barra-sorellina che, data la giovane età di entrambi, non aveva mai visto abbigliato come un maschietto, ma sempre e solo come una femminuccia. Fin da piccolo, infatti, Kurt era stato educato come una donzella, e trattato parimenti, e perciò era stato per Finn incredibilmente facile perdere di vista la realtà per la quale, sotto quelle soavi stoffe da donna, si nascondeva un corpo da uomo.
Kurt era per Finn niente più e niente meno che una sorella da ammirare, coccolare e adorare devotamente. Una delicata ragazza da proteggere ed alla quale stare accanto per poter meglio godere della sua bellezza, della gentilezza dei suoi gesti e della delicatezza della sua persona. Entrambi amavano trascorrere del tempo insieme, cavalcare ai margini della foresta o attorno allo splendido lago che si trovava a qualche chilometro di distanza dalla villa, ma dal momento che non sempre era possibile concedersi questa divertente attività spesso ripiegavano sulla lettura. Quasi ogni pomeriggio, che fosse estate o inverno, Finn prendeva dalla biblioteca paterna un volume di quegli splendidi poemi epici sull’amore e sulla guerra la cui lettura sovente colorava del rosso acceso delle rose in primavera le guance di Kurt, e ne declamava qualche pagina al fratello, restando seduto al suo fianco e reggendo il libro con una mano e le sue pallide dita sottili con l’altra.
Erano impegnati in questa piacevole attività anche quando Brittany e Santana irruppero a disturbare la loro quiete, quel giorno. L’eroe del poema stava dedicando alla propria dama un sonetto di intenso ardore e vivida emozione, e Finn stava divertendosi oltremodo nell’osservare la pelle quasi trasparente di Kurt avvampare sulle gote e sul collo, preda dell’imbarazzo che le parole tanto ardite del cavaliere lo costringevano a provare, quando le due dame fecero il loro ingresso nella stanza.
- Brittany, Santana. – si affrettò a sorridere Kurt, alzandosi in piedi ed andando loro incontro, nascondendo il proprio rossore dietro ai veli che scendevano giù dal suo capo, - Quali nuove? Ho sentito del trambusto, giù in cortile.
- Ciò vuol forse dire che non mi stavate ascoltando, fratello? – rise Finn, alzandosi in piedi ed affiancandosi a lui solo per vedere se le sue parole lo mettevano ulteriormente in imbarazzo, cosa che puntualmente accadde.
- Ma cosa dite, fratello? – mormorò Kurt, nascondendosi pudicamente dietro al velo, - Ho solo sentito dei rumori. Ordunque, Santana, Brittany, ditemi.
- Buone nuove, invero, signorino Kurt. – iniziò Santana con un inchino, lasciando poi la parola a Brittany. La quale sorrise con evidente soddisfazione, si profuse a propria volta in un elegante inchino e dunque parlò.
- Sam, il nostro garzone, si è evidentemente innamorato di sua maestà il principe. – disse. Se la camera non fosse stata spoglia e spartana, come ad una donzella di campagna quale Kurt avrebbe dovuto essere si addiceva, quadri sarebbero caduti dalle pareti, e piatti sarebbero piovuti dal cielo fracassandosi al suolo.
- Co-Come…? – balbettò Kurt, incerto.
- Non badatele, signorino Kurt. – sospirò Santana, sollevando gli occhi al cielo, - Conoscete Brittany, d’altronde.
- Come sarebbe a dire? – domandò la ragazza, vagamente offesa, - E tutto quel parlare di portamento regale, fieri capelli corvini e splendidi occhi?
- Era solo un modo per annunciare l’arrivo della sua graziosa maestà, Britt. – le spiegò Santana, con un altro sospiro arreso, ed appena ebbe pronunciato quelle parole fu evidente, dalla diversa tensione dell’aria, che qualcosa in Kurt era cambiato. Le due donne e Finn si voltarono immediatamente a guardarlo, per notare che, al colmo dello stupore, aveva lasciato ricadere i lunghi veli lungo i fianchi appena sottolineati dal vestito a gonna retta e priva di fronzoli che indossava. Le sue guance s’erano colorate di un rosa vivido e fanciullesco, e i suoi occhi chiari brillavano d’emozione. Finn aggrottò le sopracciglia, decisamente poco compiaciuto.
- Sua maestà… è qui? – esalò Kurt in un sospiro sognante, e le sue due dame di compagnia sorrisero, annuendo in segno di conferma.
- Arriverà in una manciata di minuti. – precisò Santana.
- Si stava abbeverando al lago coi suoi cavalli e i suoi affascinanti cortigiani. – aggiunse Brittany, fornendo particolari che nessuno sentiva il bisogno di conoscere.
- …sì. – annuì Kurt, e poi si rivolse a Finn, poggiando delicatamente entrambe le mani sul suo avambraccio e guardandolo con dolcezza, - Fratello, vi dispiacerebbe lasciarmi, adesso? Vorrei cambiarmi d’abito, per essere pronto per il momento in cui incontrerò sua maestà.
- Sì, naturalmente. – annuì Finn, sporgendosi a lasciare un lieve bacio sulla pallida fronte del fratello minore, - Ma non agghindatevi troppo. – lo rimproverò scherzosamente, agitandogli un dito davanti al viso, - Non sono ancora pronto a perdervi in favore di uno sciocco, impomatato principe a cavallo.
- Fratello! – sbottò Kurt, gonfiando le guance, mentre Brittany e Santana ridevano civettuole, affiancandolo, - Non siate offensivo nei confronti di sua maestà! Vi prego, provate ad essere gentile! Sapete bene quanto ammiro la sua regale persona!
- Come potrei non saperlo bene? A stento conversate d’altro! – rise Finn, esalando un sospiro paziente e premendo lievemente la punta del dito contro la punta del naso del fratello, - Ma basta ridere e scherzare, adesso vi lascio. Tornerò a prendervi per scortarvi in cortile quando il principe sarà giunto. A dopo. – sorrise, salutandolo con un cenno della mano e lasciandolo solo con le sue dame per lavarsi e cambiarsi d’abito.
- Lord Hummel! – sorrise entusiasta il principe Blaine, scapicollandosi giù da cavallo e rischiando di rotolare per terra sulle sue gambe di modeste dimensioni mentre si precipitava con esagerata veemenza verso il padrone della tenuta, - Quale immenso piacere conoscervi, finalmente! La mia balia non faceva che raccontarmi delle vostre avventure, per farmi addormentare la sera! La leggenda del vostro destriero meccanico su quattro ruote, col quale potevate attraversare l’intera regione in meno di mezza giornata di viaggio, era la mia preferita, da piccolo!
- Tutte leggende, appunto, mio principe. – rise Burt, porgendogli la mano e stringendola vigorosamente, - I miei macchinari non sono giunti che ai confini di Lima, né tantomeno io ho mai osato spingermi oltre. Troppo poco affidabili, e di indubbio poco interesse per la vostra persona.
- Scommetto che invece mi interesseranno tantissimo. – insistette Blaine, mentre anche i suoi compagni scendevano a terra, lasciando la cura delle loro cavalcature ad un ragazzotto piuttosto tozzo, robusto, dall’espressione cupa e con due piccoli occhi sfuggenti sul volto a conferirgli un’aria sgradevolmente furtiva e scontrosa. – Vorrò vederle, anzi, tutte quante.
- Ed io ve le mostrerò con piacere. – annuì Burt, lanciando un’occhiata al porticato e notando con un sorriso l’arrivo ormai prossimo di Kurt, avvolto nel suo più ricco e sontuoso vestito, cavallerescamente scortato da Finn in alta uniforme. – Ma temo che dovrò sbrigarmi a mostrarvele, o rischio che, paragonate a quanto altro di bello hanno da offrirvi le mie modeste terre, voi le troviate ancor più banali di quanto esse già non siano.
Blaine inarcò un sopracciglio, in un primo momento incerto su quanto Lord Hummel stesse cercando di dirgli, ma quando, seguendo il suo sguardo, incontrò la snella e quasi evanescente figura di Kurt al braccio del proprio fratello maggiore, ogni parola si spense nel fondo della sua gola, ed i suoi occhi non poterono che fissarsi su di lui, mentre lo osservava avvicinarsi con movenze lente ed eleganti, seguito dalle sue due dame di compagnia.
- Principe Blaine, è un onore avervi in casa nostra. – disse immediatamente Finn, abbandonando il braccio del fratello per tributargli il saluto militare, prima di tornare a sorreggere Kurt come egli avesse bisogno di un appiglio per non cadere.
- Mio principe, - intervenne Burt, avvicinandosi ai suoi due figli, - lasciate che vi presenti i miei due gioielli più preziosi: il mio primogenito Finn, e… non so se avete mai sentito parlare del mio secondogenito, Kurt.
Blaine, il respiro sospeso e gli occhi brillanti di genuina meraviglia, si avvicinò a Kurt, inginocchiandosi al suo cospetto ed aspettando che lui gli porgesse la mano per stringerla fra le proprie dita, sfiorandone appena il dorso con le labbra in un bacio rispettoso e casto.
- Avrei dovuto essere sordo per non sentirne parlare. – confessò sollevandosi in piedi, mentre Kurt distoglieva pudicamente lo sguardo, - Siete davvero incantevole come si racconta. Ed… è un piacere conoscere anche voi, Finn. – aggiunse, cercando di riprendere padronanza del proprio raziocinio e salutando il giovane signore di quelle terre con un cenno del capo, - Della vostra intelligenza si parla in termini molto lusinghieri, alla mia corte. Spero di poter passare molto tempo in vostra compagnia.
- La speranza è ricambiata, mio principe. – rispose Finn con un sorriso spavaldo, aggiungendo mentalmente che più tempo Blaine avrebbe passato con lui, meno gliene sarebbe rimasto per portar via suo fratello Kurt.
- Sono contento di sentirvelo dire. – annuì Blaine, con un sorriso che parve a Finn sinceramente entusiasta. – Ora, Lord Hummel, - riprese, voltandosi verso Burt, - mi rincresce chiedervi un tale favore così all’improvviso, ma io e la mia modesta compagnia siamo in viaggio ormai da parecchi giorni, ed ancora parecchia strada ci separa dalla Foresta Nera, ove siamo diretti. Posso contare sulla vostra ospitalità, per qualche giorno? Il tempo necessario per rifocillarci, ritemprare i nostri spiriti e prepararci a ripartire?
- Mio signore, vi prego, - gli sorrise Burt, incoraggiante, - considerate la mia umile dimora come fosse casa vostra, per tutto il tempo che riterrete opportuno o che vi piacerà fermarvi.
Blaine sorrise entusiasta, annuendo e sporgendosi ad abbracciare Burt col calore usualmente riservato ad una persona amata e conosciuta da lungo tempo.
- Burt, permettetemi di chiamarvi per nome come un amico, e concedetemi il privilegio di fare voi lo stesso con me. – disse, stringendogli la mano, - E lasciate anche che vi presenti il mio seguito, ho portato con me solo i miei amici più fidati.
- Mio signore, sarei davvero un suddito indegno se non conoscessi già di fama gli esimi componenti del vostro consiglio. Lord Montgomery, Lord Thompson, Lord Hardwood, è un piacere avervi con noi. – li salutò con un educato cenno del capo. – Mi è invece ignoto il giovane signore dai capelli biondi che vi accompagna, Blaine.
- Oh, come ho potuto dimenticare di presentarvelo immediatamente! – sbottò il principe, sollevando gli occhi al cielo, esasperato dalla propria stessa distrazione, - Si tratta di Jesse St. James, stimato principe di Carmel e mio caro amico. – disse, poggiandogli una mano sulla spalla. Rachel, in piedi in mezzo al resto della servitù alla spalle di Lord Hummel, non poté fare a meno di concedersi un tremito emozionato nel sentire il nome di quel lontano paese, e tale tremito non sfuggì agli occhi di Finn, fermo a pochi metri da lei ed ancora immobile accanto al proprio fratello.
- È un piacere fare la vostra conoscenza, principe. – disse Burt, porgendo la mano per una stretta vigorosa anche a Jesse, - E sarà mio onore ospitare voi e il vostro seguito in casa mia. Posso chiedere alle vostre maestà qual è il motivo del vostro viaggio? – chiese quindi, tornando a rivolgersi a Blaine, il quale sembrò gonfiarsi, orgoglioso come un galletto, prima di rispondere.
- Fonti certe hanno parlato della presenza di una strega nella Foresta Nera, ai confini dei vostri possedimenti, Burt. – spiegò, - Avendo già il mio amico Jesse liberato il proprio principato dalla malvagia strega che teneva sotto scacco la popolazione privandola dell’acqua, ho chiesto il suo aiuto per sconfiggere la megera che priva noi della gioia di avere figlie femmine di sangue nostro da crescere.
- Una strega, mio signore? – chiese Burt, inarcando un sopracciglio mentre Kurt, al suo fianco, non riusciva a trattenere una risatina, che cercò invano di nascondere dietro il dorso della mano.
- Noto dello scetticismo nella vostra domanda. – sorrise Blaine, - E nella splendida risata del vostro altrettanto splendido secondogenito. – aggiunse divertito, voltandosi a guardare Kurt, - Davvero credete che l’ipotesi di una strega sia così improbabile?
- Mio signore, - disse Kurt, risolvendosi a parlare con la massima serenità, la voce dolce, femminea e soave, dopo un breve ma elegante cenno di scuse, - non lasciate che la mia posizione vi tragga in errore. Sono stato educato come una dama, ma sono stato anche istruito come un ragazzo. Streghe e fattucchiere, qui a Lima, nella capitale del razionalismo, sono sempre viste come un’ipotesi improbabile, al pari di tutte le altre creature di cui sovente leggo nei miei libri. Il mio cuore palpita al pensiero di un’avventura vissuta fra cavalieri dalle armature scintillanti, draghi sputafuoco e perfide streghe, ma la mia mente è salda, e mi impedisce di credere a simili storie.
Blaine rise, grandemente divertito, nell’allungare una mano a stringere nuovamente le dita pallide di Kurt, portandole alle labbra in un gesto delicato e rispettoso.
- Sarete una compagnia incredibilmente piacevole, mio caro Kurt. – commentò.
- Ma non prendetevi gioco delle mie parole, maestà. – lo avvertì lui, gli occhi brillanti e pieni di scintillante e battagliero orgoglio, - Il mio aspetto potrà forse ingannarvi, ma la mia lingua non è avvezza a cortesie che sarebbero unicamente formali. Mostrate di rispettarmi, ed io mostrerò uguale rispetto per voi.
La presa delle dita di Blaine attorno a quelle di Kurt si fece più stretta, mentre i suoi occhi ricambiavano con ardore l’intensità dello sguardo del ragazzo.
- Sono assolutamente sincero. – ribadì seriamente, pur senza rinunciare all’ombra di sorriso che gli piegava le labbra, - Siete meraviglioso, ed i giorni che passerò al vostro fianco saranno indubbiamente i più belli della mia vita.
Kurt si ritrasse con un sorriso divertito, stringendosi pudicamente nelle spalle.
- Grazie, mio principe. I vostri complimenti riempiono il mio cuore di orgoglio. Ma temo sia il caso che io mi ritiri, per stasera. – si voltò con grazia, cercando lo sguardo di Finn, - Fratello, vi sarebbe di troppo disturbo riaccompagnarmi alle mie stanze?
- Non saprei immaginare un’incombenza più piacevole di questa, fratello caro. – rispose Finn, sorridendogli teneramente. Blaine li osservò andare via, affrettandosi a prendere le mani di Burt non appena li vide scomparire.
- Vostro figlio, Burt, è un fiore di rara bellezza. – disse, la voce scossa da un fremito di viva emozione, - Ma avremo modo di discuterne ampiamente in futuro. – aggiunse con imbarazzo, come temesse di essersi spinto troppo oltre. – Ora, vi sarei grato se mostraste al mio stalliere dove sistemare i cavalli per la notte. E dopo, sarò contento di unirmi alla vostra famiglia per cena.
Kurt preferì cenare nelle proprie stanze, circondato dalle proprie dame di compagnia e dal resto della servitù, al quale era da sempre molto affezionato. Finn sarebbe stato felice di potersi fermare a desinare in sua compagnia, ma gli obblighi della propria carica lo costrinsero a cenare con suo padre e gli ospiti, sedendo alla destra del principe. Blaine non fece altro che parlare della propria missione e di quanto meraviglioso fosse ai suoi occhi il secondogenito del suo squisito ospite, ed i suoi argomenti di conversazione si erano poi ridotti al solo Kurt quando egli stesso, nel dopocena, vedendo approssimarsi l’ora del riposo, era apparso nel grande cortile che era stato addobbato per la cena, per augurare a tutti la buonanotte e per obbedire all’ordine del proprio padre, che gli aveva chiesto di fermarsi a cantare per gli ospiti prima di ritirarsi.
La sua voce, così elegante e ferma, aveva stregato il principe fino a costringerlo ad una mezz’ora di quieto silenzio, di cui Finn fu molto grato, ma che poi s’interruppe bruscamente quando appunto egli riprese a cantare le lodi della perfezione di Kurt, aggiungendo qua e là accenni vari a quanto la sua corte, a Westerville, avrebbe potuto trarre beneficio dalla presenza di una tale meravigliosa creatura.
- Ma ditemi, piuttosto, principe, - lo interruppe ad un certo punto Finn, ben disposto perfino a sopportare altre due ore di delirio su streghe, pozioni e malefici, pur di non dover più sentire nominare il proprio fratello come se già il principe fosse certo di poterlo sposare entro l’anno, - se davvero doveste imbattervi in questa tanto temuta strega, come la uccidereste?
- Ammetto di non essere granché ferrato, sull’argomento. – disse Blaine, con evidente imbarazzo, stringendosi nelle spalle, - È per questo che ho chiesto consiglio al principe Jesse. Lui sa già come fare, ed essendo il suo principato spesso stato vittima degli incantesimi di qualche vecchia maliarda, e provenendo dunque egli da un’antica e stimata stirpe di cacciatori di streghe, sarà più che felice di rispondere ad ogni vostra domanda.
Finn si rivolse dunque all’ospite, e così fece tutto il resto della tavolata, composta non solo dagli abitanti della casa, ma anche da alcuni importanti vassalli di Lord Hummel, ai quali, poco dopo l’arrivo del principe, erano stati inviati dei messi, poiché fossero avvisati della necessità di presenziare a cena col sovrano quella sera stessa.
- Contrariamente alle credenze popolari, - cominciò Jesse, accavallando le gambe e stendendosi più comodamente contro lo schienale della propria sedia, - le streghe non possono essere uccise col fuoco. Fortunatamente, non viviamo più in un periodo di oscurantismo religioso, come sicuramente voi dotti abitanti di Lima sarete contenti di sentirmi dire. – affermò con un sorriso, - No, io compatisco le povere donne che in epoche antiche sono morte arse vive sui roghi della Santa Madre Chiesa, - disse, sottolineando l’appellativo con un ghigno sardonico, - poiché esse erano tutte innocenti. Le vere streghe non possono essere bruciate perché cospargono costantemente la loro pelle di un unguento che le rende resistenti alle fiamme. E questo non perché abbiano paura degli esseri umani e degli sciocchi metodi che in passato hanno usato per cercare di ucciderle, ma perché durante i Sabba è il fuoco stesso dell’Inferno a lambirle, e da quello loro hanno ormai imparato a proteggersi. Se le fiamme di Lucifero non le feriscono, mi spiegate in che modo potrebbero ferirle quelle degli uomini?
- State dunque dicendo che non c’è modo di uccidere una semplice donna? – interloquì Burt, inarcando un sopracciglio, dubbioso, - Signore, voi vi burlate di noi. Vivere in campagna, lontano dai fasti della Capitale, è forse sinonimo d’ignoranza, per vostra maestà?
- Non oserei mai. – si affrettò a dire Jesse, sollevando entrambe le mani, - E d’altronde non ho detto che niente può ucciderle, solo che il fuoco non può farlo. I miei alchimisti hanno sviluppato la formula di un liquido altamente corrosivo, che abbiamo chiamato acido, dal latino acidus. È in grado di sciogliere in pochi minuti un intero corpo umano, se concentrato.
Finn, così come gran parte degli ospiti, trasalì al solo udire quelle parole.
- Ciò di cui parlate con tanta leggerezza è… è raccapricciante. – disse, deglutendo a fatica.
- Forse. – annuì Jesse, giungendo le mani in grembo, - Ma siamo uomini di mondo, e la morte non ci spaventa. Dico bene?
- Non saprei dire, signore. – rispose Finn, con evidente astio, - Ho viaggiato poco e tengo ancora in grande considerazione la vita delle persone. Forse non sono un uomo così di mondo come credete voi.
Burt tossicchiò appena, lanciando al figlio un’occhiata, come a chiedergli silenziosamente di placare il suo spirito ribelle.
- E come avreste intenzione di catturare una donna che non ha paura nemmeno del fuoco? – domandò, per riportare la conversazione su argomenti più lievi, - Il vostro… come l’avete chiamato? Acido, sì. Il vostro acido può ucciderla, ma se è un liquido non sarà poi così difficile da evitare. E le streghe, secondo le leggende, sanno volare.
Jesse annuì, pensieroso.
- In effetti, esiste un solo momento in cui le streghe perdono tutti i loro poteri. Ed è imparando a sfruttare quel singolo momento che io e i miei avi abbiamo imparato a catturarle. – sorrise compiaciuto, tirando le labbra in una smorfia quasi terrificante mentre portava alle labbra il proprio calice per un sorso di vino. – Esse sono completamente indifese nella mezz’ora successiva all’amplesso. – rivelò con un certo divertimento, mentre i commensali accoglievano la notizia chi borbottando, chi spalancando gli occhi in segno di stupore e chi – specialmente i più giovani – arrossendo vividamente.
- State dicendo che è così che le catturate? – esalò Finn, sconvolto. Suo padre cercò di fermarlo con un’altra occhiata, ma lui, totalmente concentrato sull’espressione sottilmente divertita di Jesse, non la vide, o se la vide, la ignorò. – Approfittate di loro e poi, nel momento in cui sono più vulnerabili, le catturate e le sciogliete nell’acido?
- Andiamo, - sbuffò Jesse, gesticolando vago, - è di una strega, che stiamo parlando.
- Ma è ancora un essere umano! – quasi urlò Finn, scattando in piedi, oltraggiato. – Sempre che esista. – aggiunse, abbassando il tiro e cercando di riprendere il controllo schiarendosi brevemente la voce. – Chiedo perdono, - disse, chinando il capo in segno di scuse, - sono molto stanco e non mi sono accorto di quanto sgarbatamente mi stessi ponendo nei vostri confronti. Col vostro permesso, padre, - disse, rivolgendosi a Burt, - mi ritirerei per la notte.
Burt annuì, allungandosi a poggiare brevemente una mano sulla sua, prima di lasciarlo andare.
- Chiedo scusa anch’io, - disse l’uomo, quando il figlio fu sparito oltre il porticato e all’interno della villa, - Finn sa essere molto appassionato, quando discute di argomenti che per qualche motivo lo toccano.
- Quello delle streghe è un argomento che lo tocca? – buttò lì Jesse con noncuranza, guadagnandosi un’occhiata infastidita da parte di Burt.
- Credo che a toccarlo fosse più che altro lo scarso rispetto che la vostra maestà dimostra per la vita umana, principe. – precisò Burt, forzandosi a sorridere con aria non troppo irritata.
- Via, via. – cercò di placare gli animi Blaine, frapponendosi fra i due con un sorriso meno stentato e più aperto, - Burt, non avete alcun motivo di scusarvi, e neanche vostro figlio. È normale reagire così di fronte ad abitudini così palesemente diverse dalle proprie. Domani io stesso mi occuperò di parlare con lui, per riportarlo verso più miti consigli, e sono sicuro che l’acidità nelle parole del mio caro amico Jesse derivi dalla grande stanchezza da cui solo una sana notte di sonno potrà guarirci.
Burt si alzò in piedi, allargando le braccia in un gesto di rinnovata amicizia e sorridendo più serenamente.
- Lasciate dunque che sia la mia casa a guarirvi dal vostro male. – disse, - Seguite pure i servi che vi sono stati assegnati. Essi vi condurranno alle vostre stanze. Vi auguro un sonno sereno, amici cari.
- E la stessa cosa auguriamo noi a voi, Burt. – sorrise Blaine, alzandosi a propria volta in piedi ed obbligando pertanto il resto dei commensali a fare lo stesso, - A domani, e grazie ancora.
Il giorno dopo, Kurt si alzò di buon mattino, cosa per lui decisamente inusuale. Gli era stato insegnato che una brava ragazza, una signorina di buona famiglia, non avrebbe mai dovuto dormire oltre l’orario in cui il sole avesse invaso appieno il pavimento lastricato del cortile di fronte alla casa, ma sovente a lui capitava di dormire anche ben oltre quell’ora, fino a dopo mezzogiorno. Sapeva bene che avrebbe dovuto darsi maggiormente da fare per incarnare meglio l’ideale della donzella cortese che a suo padre – e a tutti gli uomini del principato – tanto mancava, ma non era nato femmina, e c’erano vezzi del proprio essere indiscutibilmente maschio che faticava a scrollarsi di dosso.
Quel giorno, però, l’eccitazione per la presenza di sua maestà il principe e del suo seguito fra le mura della sua casa era tale da impedirgli di restare a poltrire fra le lenzuola profumate ancora a lungo. Spalancò gli occhi che non dovevano essere neanche passate le otto, e saltò immediatamente in piedi. Ancora avvolto nella propria ampia e comoda camicia da notte, chiamò Santana e Brittany perché gli preparassero un bagno e lo aiutassero a vestirsi.
- Come mai sveglio così di buon’ora, signorino Kurt? – domandò Santana, mentre la testa di Brittany ciondolava per il sonno, nonostante la ragazza cercasse di tenersi sveglia sniffando le piccole sfere di sali da bagno che poi lanciava nell’acqua bollente, osservandole disciogliersi e rilasciare il loro dolce profumo.
- Ho intenzione di andare a fare una passeggiata a cavallo. – rispose lui, aspettando che Santana gli facesse cenno di poter entrare dopo aver tastato la temperatura dell’acqua ed essersi assicurata che fosse sufficientemente tiepida, - C’è un prato meraviglioso che si estende per un paio di decine di metri attorno al lago. In questa stagione è sempre pieno di fiori. Voglio raccoglierne un po’ e intrecciare ghirlande da regalare ai nostri ospiti.
- Soprattutto a sua maestà il principe, mh? – lo prese in giro Santana, inumidendo la spugna per poi passargliela sulle spalle pallide, appena ricoperte di efelidi. Kurt ridacchiò, nascondendo il volto dietro le mani mentre si scuoteva tutto, schizzando un po’ d’acqua fuori dalla vasca.
- Cosa dici, Santana? – rispose, - Non vorrai insinuare che io abbia dell’interesse nei confronti del principe Blaine?
- Insinuarlo? – rise la donna, inarcando un sopracciglio.
- Che gioco è? – sbadigliò Brittany, spargendo un altro po’ di sali nell’acqua, - Indovina chi dice bugie? Voglio partecipare anch’io. Mmh, l’altroieri ho giocato a volano con il gatto e ho perso. Allora, Tana? Chi mente, io o il signorino Kurt?
Kurt e Santana si voltarono a guardarla con aria un po’ incuriosita e un po’ genuinamente sgomenta.
- …Britt, lascia perdere. – le consigliò Santana, occupandosi di sciacquare via il sapone dalla pelle di Kurt ed alzandosi poi in piedi per recuperare degli asciugamani nei quali potesse avvolgersi uscendo dall’acqua.
Le due dame prepararono per lui un vestito adatto alle sue intenzioni, e Kurt indossò il proprio completo da cavallerizza per la prima volta da quando la primavera era finalmente tornata a baciare i campi del villaggio di Lima dopo i rigori dell’inverno appena trascorso. Si ammirò allo specchio e sorrise compiaciuto, mentre recuperava il frustino ed indossava un paio di calzature appropriate. Lasciò detto che sarebbe tornato per pranzo, ed uscì di corsa.
Il cortile era animato e pieno di persone. La servitù stava stendendo il bucato rimasto tutta la notte a mollo in acqua perché potesse pulirsi, e si stava premurando di farlo in fretta, perché per ora di pranzo lo spazio antistante il porticato fosse libero ed in ordine, di modo da poter sistemare lì i tavoli per accogliere tutti gli ospiti che sarebbero giunti per dividere il pasto con sua maestà. Al contempo, Puck e la sua squadra di garzoni si stavano muovendo attivamente per cominciare a raccogliere in enormi sacchi di iuta le provviste che poi sarebbero state consegnate al principe e alla sua compagnia perché potessero fungere da sostentamento per quanto rimaneva loro del viaggio verso la Foresta Nera.
Kurt salutò tutti con raggianti sorrisi ed educati cenni del capo, ma non si trattenne a chiacchierare con nessuno, troppo emozionato dall’idea di andar per campi a raccogliere fiori per il suo principe per potere anche solo pensare a fermarsi più del necessario. Raggiunse celermente la stalla, aspettandosi di trovare Gaga, la sua splendida cavalla bianca, legata come al solito nell’usuale cubicolo che da sempre le era assegnato in una stalla che era per lo più quasi sempre vuota, e fece un passetto indietro, stupito, quando invece vide molti più cavalli di quelli che si sarebbe aspettato legati un po’ ovunque per tutto l’enorme stanzone. Ci mise in effetti qualche secondo a ricordare che, oltre al principe, era presente anche una nutrita compagnia di gentiluomini giunta nelle loro terre a cavallo, e che per quei destrieri un posto s’era pur dovuto trovare. Gaga era stata quasi sicuramente spostata in un punto più riparato delle stalle, lontana da tutti quegli splendidi stalloni purosangue per i quali avrebbe rappresentato solo una tentazione.
Si mosse furtivamente, più che altro perché non sapeva con esattezza dove Gaga fosse stata spostata, e doverla cercare con gli occhi gli impediva di stare attento a dove metteva i piedi, ma concentrato com’era nella ricerca della propria cavalla non percepì il lieve rumore che gli si avvicinava da un fianco, e fece perciò un considerevole salto indietro, condito da un urlo di notevole potenza, quando uno sconosciuto gli si parò di fronte all’improvviso, puntandogli un forcone a pochi centimetri dal naso.
- Ah. – disse l’uomo, abbassando il forcone appena l’ebbe riconosciuto, - Siete voi.
- Vorrei poter dire lo stesso, signore, - rispose Kurt, stringendosi nelle spalle e posandosi una mano sul petto che si alzava e si abbassava velocemente al ritmo del proprio respiro affannoso, - ma temo di non conoscervi, e vi sarei grato se poteste identificarvi.
- Sono lo stalliere del principe. – disse quello, lanciando il forcone a pochi centimetri da Kurt e costringendolo ad un altro saltello spaventato per evitarlo. – Non vi avrebbe colpito. Fate sempre tutte queste scene?
- Come… come osate?! – sbottò Kurt, oltraggiato, avvampando d’imbarazzo, - Portatemi rispetto, signore! Io non vi conosco!
- Be’, nemmeno io so molto più del vostro nome e di quello che siete. Anche se non potrei dirlo con certezza. – aggiunse malignamente, lanciandogli un’occhiata vagamente disgustata che sembrò spogliarlo nudo per spiare cosa ci fosse sotto ai suoi vestiti, un’occhiata talmente penetrante che Kurt sentì quasi il bisogno di stringersi in un abbraccio per cercare di ripararsi da quell’incredibile sfoggio di impertinenza.
- Quanto avete appena detto è estremamente maleducato, signore. Anche se non potrei dirlo con certezza. Se siate un signore o meno, intendo. – ribatté Kurt, acido. L’uomo non cadde nella trappola della provocazione che Kurt gli aveva teso, e scrollò le spalle con alterigia.
- Nel paese dal quale provengo, gli uomini non indossano la gonna. Non si comportano da signorine e non civettano con altri uomini come se fosse normale farlo. – spiegò freddamente, avvicinandosi alla sua Gaga ed accarezzandole il muso con una sorta di intenerita compassione che Kurt non poté fare a meno di trovare irritante.
- Be’, questo paese non è quello da cui provenite voi, evidentemente. – sbottò, - Perché se foste di queste parti sapreste bene per quale motivo mi comporto così. Ed allontanatevi dalla mia cavalla!
- È vostra? – chiese l’uomo, inarcando un sopracciglio proprio come non potesse credere alle proprie orecchie, - In ogni caso, conosco bene la situazione in cui versa questo principato. Ma ciò non rende il vostro comportamento meno disgustoso. – commentò, fermandosi davanti a lui e scrutandolo con fastidio evidente, quasi non riuscisse nemmeno a sopportare la sua vista.
- Voi siete… siete senza dubbio il più sgradevole uomo che abbia mai incontrato! – strillò Kurt, inviperito, - Sellate immediatamente la mia cavalla e poi sparite!
- C’è qualche problema? – disse qualcuno alle loro spalle, e Kurt si sentì saltare il cuore in gola mentre riconosceva la voce del principe e si voltava frettolosamente verso di lui.
- …no, mio signore. – rispose lo stalliere per entrambi, allontanandosi per recuperare la sella di Gaga e sistemargliela sul dorso.
- No? No?! – esclamò Kurt con veemenza, le mani sui fianchi, voltandosi a guardarlo, - Non siete solo sgradevole e maleducato, siete anche un vigliacco. E puzzate! – lo offese, tendendo la mano, - Le redini. – ordinò furioso. L’uomo non lo degnò neanche di uno sguardo mentre gliele porgeva. Kurt sbuffò offeso, dirigendosi a passo marziale verso l’uscita delle stalle. – Perdonatemi, maestà, ma il vostro servo mi ha messo di malumore. Penso che andrò, adesso.
- A-Aspettate! – disse Blaine, tendendo una mano verso di lui e soffiando deluso nel vedere che non rispondeva al suo invito, preferendo saltare a cavallo e partire al galoppo verso la campagna, - Dave! – ordinò, voltandosi verso lo stalliere, - Sella Pavarotti.
- Sì, mio signore. – annuì l’uomo, trattenendo un borbottio contrariato. Nonostante fosse lui il motivo per il quale in quel momento si trovava lì, solo al mondo e lontano dal suo paese, aveva sempre stimato molto il sovrano, e non riusciva a capire come uno come lui, uno che avrebbe potuto semplicemente cambiare la legge che impediva a sovrani e nobiluomini di sposare le schiave, preferisse invece correre dietro a quel mostro in gonnella piuttosto che trovarsi una donna vera e creare con lei una famiglia. A lui, le donne non erano mai interessate, ma quello scherzo della natura non era né una donna, né un uomo. Era solo disgustoso.
Obbedì nondimeno all’ordine del proprio padrone, e fu così che, pochi minuti dopo, a cavallo del suo Pavarotti, Blaine riuscì a raggiungere Kurt.
- Cavalcate come un uomo. – rise, affiancandolo.
- Faccio molte cose come un uomo. – rispose rudemente Kurt, ancora infastidito dall’incontro di poco prima.
- Vi prego, non lasciate che qualunque cosa possa avervi turbato prima rovini questi momenti che possiamo passare insieme senza che intorno ci sia qualcuno a disturbarci. – lo implorò, accelerando il passo del proprio cavallo per potergli tagliare la strada ed obbligarlo a fermarsi. Kurt lo fissò, gli occhi fiammeggianti di rabbia, le redini strette fra le dita. – Qualunque cosa il mio stalliere possa aver detto per offendervi, lasciate che io possa fare ammenda in sua vece. Concedetemi l’onore di scusarmi al suo posto.
Kurt sospirò, ordinando al proprio cavallo di affiancarsi a quello del principe.
- Non dovete scusarvi, - lo rassicurò con un mezzo sorriso, - il comportamento del vostro servo non è una vostra responsabilità. Ma perdonerò volentieri tutto ciò che vorrete, se verrete a cavallo con me.
Blaine sorrise, mentre entrambi partivano al trotto verso il lago.
- Torno a sentirmi in difetto, - confessò con un sorriso, seguendo il cavallo di Kurt e restando qualche centimetro indietro in segno di rispetto, - il piacere della vostra compagnia è tutto mio, mentre io temo di non essere in grado di fornirne una altrettanto ammirevole.
- Non dite sciocchezze, principe, la modestia non si addice a un uomo del vostro lignaggio. – sorrise Kurt, indicandogli la strada che girava attorno al lago, - Così come non si addice al mio. Quell’uomo, piuttosto, il vostro stalliere. Come potete sopportare un individuo tanto ripugnante nel vostro seguito?
- Ripugnante? – rise Blaine, - Davvero lo trovate così disgustoso?
- A dir poco, mio signore. – annuì Kurt, le labbra che si piegavano in una smorfia inorridita al solo riportare alla mente gli avvenimenti di pochi minuti prima.
Blaine rise ancora, cominciando ad adocchiare gli splendidi campi ricchi di fiori che riempivano i prati poco oltre la curva più ampia del lago.
- Nessuno conosce i cavalli meglio di Dave. – rispose, - L’ho conosciuto durante una delle mie campagne militari. Quella da cui proviene è una terra selvaggia. Lì gli uomini vestono di pelle di camoscio e vivono in tende dello stesso materiale, rette da pezzi di legno che ricavano a mani nude dai pochi alberi che crescono nelle vicinanze. Perdonate i suoi modi un po’ scontrosi, semplicemente non è avvezzo alla vita di corte.
- Be’, potrebbe pure imparare come ci si comporta davanti a una signora. – sbuffò Kurt, fermando il cavallo a pochi metri dalla riva del lago e scendendo di sella in un gesto fluido ed elegante. Blaine rise un’altra volta, imitandolo e conducendo Pavarotti ad abbeverarsi.
- Siete una persona ben strana, Kurt. – commentò, ma la sua voce, per quanto divertita, non nascondeva la minima traccia di sgradevole sarcasmo. Sembrava più genuinamente curiosa e a tratti perfino vagamente ammirata. – Sempre pronto a nascondervi dietro un velo quando ne sentite il bisogno, ma altrettanto pronto a ribadire che siete un uomo quando vi conviene di più.
- E d’altronde, - sorrise malizioso Kurt, chinandosi sulla riva per inumidirsi una mano e rinfrescarsi il viso e il collo, - non è forse questa la parte migliore della mia bizzarra condizione? Trarre il massimo vantaggio dalle situazioni contingenti è una caratteristica che accomuna uomini e donne in egual misura, mio signore. Ed io, modestia a parte, in questo sono maestro.
- Voi siete maestro in molte cose, Kurt. – rise Blaine, estremamente compiaciuto, - Più vi conosco e più mi convinco che la vostra presenza sarebbe indispensabile alla mia corte nella Capitale. Continuo a chiedermi come abbia fatto a vivere senza di voi fino ad ora. – sorrise, sedendosi nell’erba accanto a lui ed osservandolo raccogliere moltitudini di fiori variopinti per intrecciarli fra loro in un’allegra ghirlanda.
- Adesso mi state adulando. – sorrise Kurt, abbassando pudicamente lo sguardo, - Ed il vostro passo si sta facendo anche incredibilmente frettoloso, mio principe. Sono un suddito fedele e non potrei mai dirvi di no, qualsiasi fossero le vostre richieste nei miei confronti, - disse, sottolineando le ultime parole con un’occhiata lanciata da sotto le lunghe ciglia ricurve, - ma vi pregherei di aspettare ancora, prima di lanciarvi in proposte per le quali magari potreste cambiare idea conoscendomi meglio.
- Bello, arguto, beneducato e anche saggio! – constatò Blaine, sollevando entrambe le mani in segno di resa, - Avete almeno un difetto?
- Certo, mio signore. – ridacchiò Kurt, terminando di intrecciare la ghirlanda e poggiandola come una corona sul capo del principe, - Ne ho parecchi. Li scoprirete tutti, se vorrete intrattenervi ancora in mia compagnia.
- E vorrò. – annuì lui, sorridendo incoraggiante, per poi inspirare a pieni polmoni l’aria fresca che, portata dal venticello profumato della campagna, spazzava il prato e la superficie del lago, - Che meraviglia queste giornate di primavera.
- Già. – annuì Kurt, lasciando scorrere gli occhi sui lineamenti così deliziosamente rilassati del volto del principe, - Le adoro anch’io. Figuratevi, - mentì senza neanche arrossire, - mi sveglio sempre di buon mattino apposta per concedermi una cavalcata qui nei dintorni.
- Davvero? – chiese il principe, tornando a guardarlo, - Ho un’idea! Voglio cavalcare con voi. Voglio che usiate uno dei miei cavalli, che vediate quanto veloci possono correre!
- Uno dei vostri cavalli? – arrossì Kurt, battendo le mani e tendendosi tutto per l’emozione, - Sarebbe meraviglioso! Non ho mai cavalcato uno stallone!
- Non avevo dubbi al riguardo. – rise Blaine, - Domattina, andate da Dave. Sarà perfetto per insegnarvi a montare uno stallone senza difficoltà. È un ottimo domatore.
- Oh, principe, vi prego! – sbuffò Kurt, gonfiando le guance, - Non costringetemi a passare del tempo con quell’orribile individuo!
- Via, via! – ridacchiò Blaine, alzandosi in piedi e porgendo a Kurt una mano per aiutarlo a fare lo stesso, - Parlerò personalmente con lui e vi prometto che non oserà più mancarvi di rispetto. Da qui a tre giorni sarete perfettamente in grado di montare uno dei miei cavalli migliori, ed allora mi porterete in giro e mi mostrerete questa splendida campagna. E tutti i vostri difetti.
Controvoglia, ma nascondendo la propria delusione dietro un educato sorriso, Kurt annuì e si produsse in un breve inchino rispettoso, prima di salire nuovamente in groppa a Gaga.
- Sta bene, mio signore. – lo salutò, - Vi precedo alla villa. Possiate passare una piacevole mattinata.
Nell’osservarlo andar via, Blaine pensò che se anche il resto della giornata fosse stato orribile e disgustoso, il tempo che aveva passato con Kurt sarebbe comunque stato sufficiente per non notarlo nemmeno, e dopo un paio di minuti in accorata contemplazione del cavallo bianco che, allontanandosi, diventava sempre più piccolo, montò Pavarotti e partì in ricognizione per ispezionare i primi chilometri della strada che, quando sarebbe ripartito assieme alla propria compagnia, l’avrebbe condotto fino alla Foresta Nera.
- Non mi fido di quel tipo. – disse Finn, lasciando scorrere una mano fra i capelli scuri di Rachel, - È… è terrificante.
- Voi non vi fidate mai di nessuno, mio signore. – rise Rachel, rigirandosi nel suo abbraccio e guardandolo dall’alto, - Sono tutti troppo pericolosi, tutti troppo sfuggenti, e tutti sempre troppo interessati a vostro fratello. Sbaglio?
- Rachel… - si lagnò lui, afferrando uno dei morbidi cuscini che adornavano il letto e schiacciandoselo sul viso, - Quante volte ti ho detto di non darmi del voi? Quantomeno in queste situazioni!
- Spesso, mio signore. – rise ancora lei, stringendosi nelle spalle ed appoggiandosi al suo petto, - Almeno tante volte quante quelle in cui vi ho risposto che è impossibile, per me, smettere di farlo. Restate sempre il mio padrone.
- Un padrone con cui vai a letto. – precisò lui, lanciandole un’occhiata un po’ infastidita, - Davvero, è disturbante.
- Sapete cosa disturba me? – ribatté la ragazza, per nulla intimorita dal suo tono, - Vedere con quanto sussiego possiate parlare con vostro fratello, e quanto poco invece siate capace di usarne con la sottoscritta.
- Ma lui è mio fratello! – sbottò Finn, come se proprio non riuscisse a vedere dove stesse il problema. – Piuttosto, a proposito di cose disturbanti… - riprese, aggrottando le sopracciglia con estrema serietà, - non credere che mi sia sfuggita quella mossetta, ieri.
Rachel spalancò i grandi occhi castani, piegando appena il capo per lanciargli un’occhiata incuriosita.
- Non capisco di cosa stiate parlando, mio signore. – rispose, stringendosi nelle spalle.
- Sì che lo capisci. – insistette lui, sollevandosi a sedere fra i cuscini ed incrociando le braccia sul petto, - Quando il principe Blaine ha presentato quel Jesse, hai tremato. Ti ho vista. Non dirmi che ti piace, potrei morirne. È un individuo orribile.
- Ma cosa state dicendo… - borbottò Rachel, vaga, mettendosi a propria volta a sedere e coprendosi pudicamente con il lenzuolo mentre allungava una mano verso la propria sottana, appoggiata sullo schienale di una seggiola lì vicino, - Semplicemente mi ha turbato sentire che è il principe di Carmel. È da lì che provengo.
Finn spalancò gli occhi, seguendola nel movimento e trattenendo una delle sue mani fra le proprie in una carezza dolce.
- Davvero? – le chiese, cercando di tirarla nuovamente verso di sé, - Non parli mai delle tue origini.
- Perché non c’è molto da dire. – rispose lei, stringendosi nelle spalle e provando a resistere solo per un paio di secondi prima di sciogliere i muscoli e lasciare che Finn la traesse di nuovo a sé, sistemandosela addosso, - Mia madre è morta quando io non ero che una bambina, e un padre non l’avevo mai avuto. Non c’era modo per me di sostenermi da sola. Persi la casa e finii a vivere per la strada. Lì venni raccolta da due uomini che mi ripulirono, mi nutrirono e mi portarono con loro. Avevano uno spettacolo itinerante, mi diedero lezioni di canto e fecero di me ciò che sono oggi. – si concesse un breve sorriso nel raccontare di coloro i quali aveva sempre considerato come i suoi veri genitori, e poi sospirò profondamente, riprendendo il racconto. – Alla loro morte, lo spettacolo itinerante chiuse, tutti gli artisti di dispersero, ed io, che mi ero fatta una certa fama nel principato, come ben sapete sono stata assunta da vostro padre. Fine della poco interessante storia della mia vita.
- Non è affatto poco interessante. – la contraddisse Finn, con molta serietà. – Hai viaggiato, hai visto il paese. Sei stata in un sacco di luoghi. Hai imparato tanto, e sei diventata una splendida donna forte e indipendente. Che poi sono i motivi per cui mi piaci così tanto. – sorrise appena, riprendendo ad accarezzarle i capelli. – Ti invidio molto.
- Perché sono una splendida donna forte e indipendente? – rise Rachel, prendendolo un po’ in giro, e Finn rise a propria volta, pizzicandole delicatamente una spalla.
- Hai capito perfettamente cosa intendevo. – la rimproverò bonariamente, e lei si sollevò appena per sfiorargli le labbra in un bacio asciutto e casto.
- Sì, l’ho capito. E penso che dovreste dire a vostro padre che volete viaggiare anche voi, fare nuove esperienze. Ci sarà tempo per prendere in mano il feudo ed occuparsi degli affari di famiglia. Prima dovete diventare un vero uomo.
- E come faccio? – sbuffò Finn, piegando indietro il capo e scrutando il soffitto con aria risentita, - Non posso mica lasciare Kurt qui da solo. Chi si occuperebbe di lui?
- Non saprei. – rise Rachel, - Tutto il resto del mondo?
- Non sarebbe la stessa cosa. – insistette Finn, aggrottando le sopracciglia, - E smettila di prendermi in giro. Non posso andarmene prima che Kurt si sia sposato.
- Allora siete fortunato. – ridacchiò la ragazza, approfittando del suo momento di distrazione per alzarsi finalmente in piedi e cominciare a rivestirsi, - Sembra che non dovrete aspettare poi molto.
Il giorno seguente, tutto l’entusiasmo che aveva convinto Kurt della possibilità di sopportare svariate ore di lezione di equitazione con lo stalliere del principe per poi essere pronto a cavalcare con quest’ultimo per i lussureggianti campi del feudo di suo padre, sembrava completamente svanito. Certo, l’idea riusciva comunque a far fiorire un sorriso sulle sue labbra, ma il fatto di dover tollerare quell’orribile essere lo atterriva. Era semplicemente troppo. Non era abituato ad essere trattato con tanto evidente disprezzo, era fastidioso e faceva male. Non gli piaceva affatto.
Eppure, si disse, spianando pieghe invisibili sull’elegante ma sobrio tessuto del suo completo da cavallerizza, se voleva ottenere la felicità avrebbe anche dovuto imparare a soffrire mentre combatteva per guadagnarsela. Lo stalliere andava sopportato con coraggio e determinazione, e nel giro di un paio di giorni non sarebbe rimasto di lui che un orribile ricordo.
- Eccomi qui. – disse, entrando nella stalla e piantando entrambe le mani sui fianchi in una posa al contempo sfrontata e rigida, - Sua maestà mi ha detto che avrebbe parlato con voi per avvertirvi del mio arrivo e di quelli che sono i suoi piani per me.
L’uomo, intento a strigliare Pavarotti con attenzione ed un perfetto misto di delicatezza e forza, inizialmente sembrò non volerlo degnare di un’occhiata.
- Sedetevi lì. – disse, indicando un paio di balle di fieno accatastate in un angolo, - Non ho ancora finito di lavorare.
Kurt, oltraggiato, irrigidì le braccia lungo i fianchi e strinse i pugni.
- Come osate?! – strillò, - Sono qui apposta per prendere lezioni da voi! Il principe mi aveva detto—
- Il principe vi ha detto che io mi sarei occupato della vostra educazione equestre, sì, ne sono consapevole. – disse l’uomo, lanciandogli una breve occhiata infuocata per poi tornare a dedicare tutta la propria attenzione al cavallo placido e sereno sotto le sue mani, - Ma, vedete, le mie mansioni vengono prima di questo, visto che sono il motivo per cui il principe mi tiene con sé. Penserò a voi quando avrò terminato.
- Questo è del tutto inaccettabile! – strillò ancora Kurt, facendosi avanti e avvicinandosi a lui con aria che avrebbe voluto essere minacciosa e terribile, - Mai nessuno ha osato comportarsi così con me! Mai! In casa mia, per di più! Voi siete un bruto, un maleducato, un rifiuto, un—
- Sono uno stalliere, signore. – lo interruppe Dave, posando la spazzola sullo sgabello che aveva a fianco per poi voltarsi verso di lui, afferrarlo per le spalle e sollevarlo di peso, depositandolo pochi istanti dopo senza la minima delicatezza sulle balle di fieno che gli aveva indicato poco prima. – Lasciate dunque che mi occupi prima delle mie mansioni, e successivamente potrò prendermi cura anche di voi.
- Io sono… sono sconvolto! – balbettò Kurt, restando seduto sul fieno più perché troppo pietrificato per muoversi ancora, che perché volesse realmente farlo, - E— E non ho assolutamente alcun bisogno che un— un uomo orribile, deprecabile!, quale voi siete, si prenda cura di me. – concluse, trovando finalmente la forza per alzarsi in piedi. – Sono perfettamente in grado di andare a cavallo. – disse, - Prenderò uno degli stalloni di sua maestà e farò pratica da solo.
- Prego? – domandò Dave, lanciandogli un’occhiata quasi divertita da sotto le sopracciglia esageratamente inarcate. Aveva ripreso in mano la spazzola ed era già tornato a strigliare Pavarotti, ma s’interruppe apposta per osservare Kurt mentre, impettito e furioso, attraversava la stalla e si avvicinava ai giacigli dei vari cavalli.
- Limitatevi a dirmi quale posso prendere. – rispose il ragazzo, cercando di mostrarsi deciso mentre osservava gli enormi destrieri senza sapere quale scegliere, - Farò da me.
- Vi farete solo male. – lo avvertì Dave, - E il principe sarà in collera con me, per questo.
- Be’, mi sembra la cosa migliore in assoluto, allora! – insistette Kurt. – Ditemi quale cavallo posso prendere, signore. Mi occuperò da me della mia stessa istruzione. Non ho bisogno dell’aiuto di nessuno, tantomeno del vostro.
- D’accordo, d’accordo. – rispose l’altro, già annoiato dal litigio, sollevando entrambe le braccia, - Prendete Sarpedonte. È quello lì. – disse, indicando uno splendido stallone dal lucente pelo castano con una piccola macchia bianca sulla fronte, - Ma state attento, o cadrete.
- Non cadrò affatto. – tagliò corto il ragazzo, accompagnando il cavallo già sellato verso il piazzale. Notò che Dave continuava ad osservarlo per tutto il tempo, pur rimanendo accanto a Pavarotti e strigliandolo lentamente, anche mentre lui posava il piede sulla staffa e faceva forza per issarsi in sella.
Dove riuscì a restare per il tempo massimo di un paio di respiri. Dovette spronare il cavallo tirandogli una tallonata nel punto sbagliato – d’altronde, la forma che aveva fra le gambe era completamente diversa da quella della sua Gaga, e avrebbe avuto bisogno di un tempo decisamente maggiore per prendere adeguatamente le misure, ma sarebbe morto prima di doverlo ammettere – perché quello, con un nitrito di dolore, prima s’impennò e poi s’inarcò all’improvviso, disarcionandolo con la facilità con cui si sarebbe disarcionato un qualunque principiante.
Kurt gettò un grido, cercando di raggomitolarsi a palla per esporre la minor quantità di ossa possibile alle sicure fratture che lo avrebbero funestato quando avesse toccato terra, e poi serrò gli occhi, terrorizzato. Riaprendoli solo quando il suo corpo si adagiò con incredibile naturalezza fra un paio di possenti braccia che lo sostenevano da dietro le spalle e da sotto le ginocchia, tenendolo ben lontano dal pavimento, a più di un metro e mezzo da terra.
- Ve l’avevo detto che sareste caduto. – disse Dave, fissandolo con una certa preoccupata severità, tenendolo ben stretto, al punto di affondare quasi le dita nella carne tenera delle sue cosce attraverso il tessuto leggero dei pantaloni che indossava. Kurt arrossì profondamente: il calore delle sue mani e l’odore della sua pelle, non del tutto spiacevole come aveva ipotizzato all’inizio, lo confusero per qualche secondo, prima che la sua mente riuscisse a sgombrarsi da pensieri inattesi e molesti abbastanza da permettergli di replicare.
- La-Lasciatemi andare immediatamente! – strillò, tempestando di pugni il petto ampio dello stalliere, il quale gli lanciò un’occhiata estremamente infastidita e poi ritirò all’improvviso entrambe le braccia, lasciandolo rovinare a terra in mezzo alla fanghiglia con un urlo stridulo. – Come avete osato?! – gridò Kurt, sconvolto e oltraggiato oltremisura, fissando l’uomo dal basso prima di aggrapparsi alle redini di Pavarotti per tirarsi su.
- Mi avete detto voi di lasciarvi andare. – ribatté Dave, aggrottando le sopracciglia.
- Ma non certo di lasciarmi cadere per terra! – obiettò il ragazzo, stringendo i pugni lungo i fianchi, - Non avete un briciolo di educazione!
- Ah, davvero? – protestò lui, - Sarei io il maleducato? Vi ho appena salvato la vita, e voi non vi siete nemmeno degnato di ringraziarmi.
- Ha! Mi avreste dunque salvato la vita?! – rise Kurt, sarcastico, - Non avete un briciolo di educazione, ma in compenso siete così teatrale da farmi pensare che la vostra via non dovesse essere quella dei cavalli, bensì quella del palcoscenico! – incrociò le braccia sul petto, producendosi in uno sbuffo divertito, - Stavo solo per cadere a terra, mi sarei preso al massimo una stupida storta! Niente che non possa sopportare!
- Vi sareste spezzato l’osso del collo, sciocco ingrato privo della benché minima prudenza che non siete altro! – sbottò a quel punto lo stalliere, e mentre le labbra di Kurt si schiudevano disegnando una o perfetta, sintomo di profondissimo stupore, aggiunse: - E quanto alla teatralità, credo che per quanto io possa essere bravo a riguardo voi non abbiate alcun rivale nel campo. È evidente da quanto bene riuscite a imitare le femmine pur essendo solo un patetico scherzo della natura ancora incerto sulla possibilità di portare una sottana o un paio di pantaloni. – concluse con un’occhiata disgustata.
Il rumore dello schiaffo risuonò per tutta la stalla, mettendo in agitazione i cavalli per un istante. Poi si esaurì in un soffio di vento, ed allora anche le bestie tornarono placide, così come l’aria tornò a farsi silenziosa.
- Siete… siete un essere spregevole e disgustoso. – disse Kurt, la voce rotta dal pianto e gli occhi pieni di lacrime, - Non siete neanche un essere umano, e io non voglio vedervi mai più. – concluse, prima che la voce lo abbandonasse del tutto, girando su se stesso e fuggendo dalla stalla col volto fra le mani.
Dave, la guancia ancora in fiamme ma troppo orgoglioso per massaggiarla con una mano, abbassò lo sguardo e, una volta solo, ricondusse Sarpedonte al proprio posto e riprese a strigliare Pavarotti.
- Kurt! – lo chiamò Finn, sconvolto, vedendolo sfrecciare di fronte a sé sotto il porticato e su per le scale, - Kurt, cos’è successo?!
- Niente! – rispose lui, piangendo a dirotto e cercando di raggiungere la propria camera il più in fretta possibile, per potercisi nascondere dentro, - Niente, lasciatemi in pace! Vi prego! – singhiozzò, cercando di tirar su l’ampia mezza gonna aperta davanti che scendeva giù dal corpetto abbottonato che indossava, e il cui strascico era tanto lungo da sfiorare il pavimento ad ogni passo.
- Neanche per idea! – insistette suo fratello, saltando i gradini a due a due e riuscendo ad afferrarlo per il polso poco prima che riuscisse effettivamente a chiudersi alle spalle la porta della propria camera da letto. Lo costrinse a voltarsi verso di sé, e per poco non si sentì mancare il respiro nell’osservare il suo viso, generalmente così bello, pallido e dolce, stravolto dal pianto, dall’irritazione e dal nervosismo. – Mio Dio, cosa vi è capitato?
Kurt si liberò dalla sua stretta con uno strattone deciso, incredibilmente mascolino, per poi nascondersi dietro le proprie stesse mani in un gesto, invece, tanto femmineo da sciogliere il cuore. Nell’avvicinarglisi e chinarsi verso di lui, come volesse proteggerlo dagli occhi indiscreti del mondo, Finn pensò che era forse questa la cosa più bella di suo fratello, in assoluto. Non la splendida voce, non i modi cortesi e raffinati, non la tagliente ironia che sovente amava usare per tenere a bada i numerosi pretendenti che, pur non essendo degni della sua persona, spesso avevano provato a conquistarlo, no. La capacità così speciale e studiata e al contempo così incredibilmente naturale che aveva di sintetizzare in sé l’uomo e la donna, come fosse nato apposta per rappresentare da solo il punto d’incontro perfetto fra i due generi.
- Non voglio parlarne qui. – singhiozzò Kurt, scuotendo il capo da dietro le mani umide di pianto, - Entriamo in camera.
Finn lo seguì docilmente, sedendosi assieme a lui sulla sponda del letto e prendendo le sue mani fra le proprie, massaggiandole delicatamente per aiutarlo a calmarsi e riprendere fiato.
- Raccontatemi. – disse, - Ridurrò a pezzi con la mia stessa spada chiunque vi abbia fatto questo.
- No! – singhiozzò immediatamente Kurt, stringendo la presa sulle mani del fratello e sporgendosi verso di lui in un’implorazione accorata, - Vi scongiuro! Non dovrete dire a nessuno quello che vi racconterò! Mi sono macchiato di ridicolo e… Dio, dovrei chiudermi in convento e mai più vedere la luce del sole! – piagnucolò, tornando a nascondersi dietro le proprie mani.
Finn sorrise intenerito, allungando le braccia verso di lui e stringendoselo al petto, cullandolo dolcemente.
- Per quanto possiate assomigliare ad una donzella, fratello, dubito che trovereste adeguato spazio fra le monache di clausura. – gli ricordò, accarezzandogli i capelli.
- Un monastero benedettino, dunque! – propose Kurt, - Lì potrei vivere in pace, espiando le mie colpe e cessando di mettere in ridicolo il buon nome della mia famiglia!
- Temo che, col vostro aspetto, - rise Finn, dondolandolo ancora un po’, - indurreste in tentazione anche il più santo degli uomini.
- Sono dunque costretto a vivere nell’empietà! – disse quindi Kurt con aria tragica, allontanandosi da lui per poggiare il dorso di una mano contro la fronte, gettando indietro il capo. Finn rise ancora, cercando di non mostrargli quanto lo trovasse ridicolo in quel momento, e riprese ad accarezzargli una mano, sorridendo incoraggiante.
- Fratello, spiegatemi cos’è accaduto. Sono certo che niente di tanto grave può essere successo, tale da giustificare il desiderio di privare il mondo della vostra così gradita presenza. – disse, invitandolo a parlare.
Kurt sospirò, incurvando le spalle come un bambino sopraffatto dalla vergogna.
- Mi sono comportato in maniera ostinata e avventata, ed ho rischiato di farmi molto male cadendo da uno dei cavalli di sua maestà. – raccontò, restio ad aggiungere i dettagli per quanto riguardava quell’orribile stalliere, - E ora non potrò mai più tornare in quella stalla, né imparare a cavalcare uno stallone, né accompagnare in groppa ad uno splendido purosangue il nostro principe in una gita per i campi del feudo! – concluse, scoppiando nuovamente in lacrime, le spalle magre e strette continuamente scosse dai singhiozzi.
- Oh, via, via, fratello! – cercò di consolarlo Finn, accarezzandogli il viso e il collo, - Innanzitutto, ditemi: vi siete forse fatto male? È per questo che piangete così incontrollabilmente? Sentite dolore da qualche parte?
- Solo al centro del petto, caro fratello, solo al centro del petto! – rispose Kurt con estrema drammaticità, giungendo le mani all’altezza del cuore, - Tutto è perduto. Non potrò mai più sposare il principe Blaine, né tantomeno sollevare i miei occhi su di lui, s’è per questo.
- Fratello, adesso state proprio esagerando! – disse Finn, cercando di riportarlo a più miti consigli utilizzando un tono di voce vagamente più severo, - Qualsiasi cosa possa essere successa, niente a parte la vostra ostinazione vi impedisce di tornare in quella stalla e riprendere le vostre lezioni d’equitazione. Avete fatto una brutta figura, d’accordo, - ammise il giovane, annuendo con decisione, - ma non vi siete macchiato di alcun peccato mortale, e sua maestà il principe, ne sono sicuro, non sentirà alcun bisogno di privarsi della vostra compagnia solo perché, un po’ avventatamente, siete caduto da cavallo. – Kurt incassò la testa nelle spalle, cessando di piangere e serrando le labbra fino a ridurle ad una linea sottilissima, abbassando vergognosamente lo sguardo. Finn sospirò, accarezzandogli una guancia ancora calda e arrossata dal pianto, ed addolcendo il proprio tono di voce per rassicurarlo. – Suvvia, siete tanto più bello quando sorridete. Per parte mia, posso promettervi che non dirò mai a nessuno quanto mi avete raccontato. Ma voi, per parte vostra, dovrete promettermi che tornerete in quella stalla, e non abbandonerete le lezioni solo per uno sciocco capriccio infantile.
Kurt tornò a guardarlo, vagamente in imbarazzo, le mani giunte in grembo.
- Fratello, queste vostre parole vogliono forse lasciarmi intendere che, nel caso il principe decidesse davvero di chiedere la mia mano, voi non avreste nulla in contrario? – domandò timidamente, in un filo di voce.
Finn levò un’occhiata supplice al cielo, allargando le braccia ai lati del corpo.
- Non smetterò mai di soffrire perché non posso avervi e al contempo non voglio lasciarvi andare. – ammise in un sospiro, scuotendo il capo, - È il triste destino di tutti i fratelli. – concluse con un sorriso, tornando a guardarlo.
Kurt non riuscì proprio a trattenere un gridolino emozionato mentre, per ringraziarlo della sua benedizione e del suo aiuto, gli prometteva che sarebbe tornato in quella stalla entro quella sera stessa, e stavolta non si sarebbe lasciato scoraggiare da niente. E da nessuno, aggiunse mentalmente. Ma questo, al fratello, non lo disse.
Cercò di mantenersi austero e serio mentre, approfittando del favore delle tenebre, usciva di soppiatto dalla casa e si dirigeva speditamente verso la stalla. Il cortile sul retro era ancora illuminato, e tutta la servitù sembrava intrattenersi in qualche piacevole gioco mentre aspettava di concludere tutte le mansioni della giornata per ritirarsi a propria volta a dormire, come già suo padre, suo fratello e tutti gli ospiti avevano fatto un’ora dopo la conclusione della cena.
Usualmente, Kurt avrebbe seguito il suono di quelle voci e di quelle risate per unirsi agli scherzi della servitù, ma quel giorno, totalmente concentrato sul proprio obiettivo, ignorò quei festosi richiami e, giunto alle porte della stalla, si schiarì la voce, pronto a mettere in chiaro le cose con quell’orribile stalliere una volta per tutte.
Il fiato, però, assieme a tutte quelle battagliere intenzioni, gli morì in gola quando vide lo stalliere scomodamente sistemato su una sedia bassa, lievemente reclinata all’indietro – per consentirgli di appoggiare il capo contro lo stipite della porta – ed aiutata a restare in equilibrio sui due piedi posteriori dal fatto che le gambe dell’uomo erano stese in avanti a puntellarsi sopra una balla di fieno utilizzata a mo’ di poggiapiedi ma troppo cedevole per ottemperare adeguatamente al proprio scopo.
Doveva essere una posizione ben fastidiosa.
- È qui che dormite? – mormorò incerto, e l’uomo aprì dapprima solo un occhio, lanciandogli un’occhiata sommaria per poi tornare a richiuderlo, cercando di sistemarsi più comodamente.
- Vi interessa? – domandò, stringendosi nelle spalle.
- Credevo che per tutti gli ospiti fossero state approntate delle stanze. – disse Kurt, la voce venata da una sottile quanto apparentemente autentica vena di dispiacere.
- Così è, infatti. – annuì Dave, gli occhi ancora chiusi, - Ma il mio compito è restare coi cavalli. Inoltre, mi trovo molto più a mio agio in compagnia delle bestie, che non degli esseri umani.
- Questo perché le similitudini fra voi sono evidenti. – ribatté Kurt, inarcando un sopracciglio, incapace di trattenere il commento acido. - …scusatemi. – mormorò quindi, abbassando lo sguardo, - Sono stato scortese.
- Ma avete detto la verità. – disse con sicurezza Dave, rassegnandosi finalmente ad aprire gli occhi ed alzandosi in piedi, raggiungendolo dove si trovava. – Sono grato al principe perché è stato merito suo se la mia vita è stata salva, ma ciò non vuol dire che la compagnia sua, o quella del suo seguito, o quella di uno qualsiasi degli abitanti di questo principato mi piaccia.
Kurt abbassò lievemente lo sguardo, sentendosi ingiustificatamente in colpa.
- Posso chiedervi cosa vi è successo? Perché siete diventato lo stalliere di sua maestà?
Dave si voltò, allontanandosi da lui di qualche passo e lanciando un’occhiata ai cavalli sonnecchianti dentro la stalla. Sembrava facesse fatica a trovare le parole, anche se il suo viso non lasciava trasparire alcun segno di difficoltà o disagio.
- Il mio popolo è stato sterminato. – disse quindi, - Nella regione da cui provengo, le lotte fratricide fra tribù sono all’ordine del giorno. La mia tribù, quella dei Quapaw, e la tribù vicina, quella degli Yakonan, erano da anni impegnate in una di queste guerre. Il vostro principato – disse, lanciando a Kurt un’occhiata brevissima, come intendesse caricarlo di una parte della colpa di ciò che era successo, nonostante sapesse benissimo di non poterlo fare, - voleva ampliare i confini dei propri possedimenti, e dal momento che era il mio popolo quello con un territorio più ricco e più vicino a quello della Capitale, hanno fornito agli Yakonan un aiuto sufficiente per sterminarci tutti. – sospirò, passandosi brevemente una mano sulla fronte e fra i capelli. – Io sono l’unico superstite. Il principe Blaine, mentre constatava lo stato del nostro villaggio dopo la fine delle ostilità, diede ordine di curare i feriti, ma erano tutti troppo gravi per sopravvivere. Solo io ce l’ho fatta, e dal momento che ero rimasto solo il principe mi ha preso con sé.
Kurt deglutì, avvicinandoglisi impercettibilmente, come se all’improvviso si sentisse profondamente inadeguato anche solo per stargli accanto.
- Io non avevo idea… - mormorò, - Per la verità non so molto di quello che accade oltre i confini del principato. In realtà, - si concesse un imbarazzato colpo di tosse, distogliendo lo sguardo, - non mi sono mai mosso da questa villa. Mi… mi dispiace molto per le vostre perdite. Ma ciò non vuol dire che il vostro comportamento nei miei confronti sia stato giustificabile! – disse, riprendendo immediatamente colore e stringendosi nelle spalle. Dave si voltò a guardarlo, i suoi occhi erano scuri e freddi.
- È vero. – ammise, - Ma voi siete stato sciocco e imprudente. Nonostante io avessi cercato di fermarvi. Avreste potuto farvi molto male.
- Sì, lo so, lo so. – sospirò Kurt, gesticolando con aria annoiata, - È per questo che sono venuto qui, stasera. Per chiedervi scusa, auspicando che ad un mio primo passo nella vostra direzione possa seguire un vostro passo verso di me.
Dave lo guardò a lungo, la luce della luna che si rifletteva sulla sua pelle candida rendendola se possibile ancora più pallida, giocando fra le pieghe della lunga veste in raso e pizzo che indossava, e che copriva fluidamente il busto flessuoso, la vita sottile e le lunghe gambe le cui forme non erano che appena intuibili sotto tutta quella stoffa. Era bello, contestare il punto sarebbe stato come rifiutarsi di ammettere l’esistenza del calore del sole nonostante lo si sentisse sulla pelle. C’era ancora qualcosa di profondamente sbagliato nell’osservare un uomo abbigliato in tal modo e costretto a comportarsi come una donna, contrariamente alla propria natura, ma per qualche motivo la luce azzurrognola della notte ed i suoi chiaroscuri gli permettevano di osservarlo senza sentirsene eccessivamente disturbato.
Mosse un passo nella sua direzione, esattamente come Kurt gli chiedeva di fare, e gli strinse una mano. Non come avrebbe fatto con una dama, per sollevarla fino alle labbra e posare un bacio sulla pelle pur così liscia e invitante del dorso, ma per scuoterla con vigore, come avrebbe fatto con un qualunque uomo.
Per qualche motivo, s’era aspettato che Kurt saltasse in aria e si ritraesse di fronte a quel contatto così rude, ma ciò non avvenne. Il ragazzo sorrise, ricambiando la stretta, e Dave continuò a stringere, ricambiando il sorriso.
Fu con un certo stupore che Rachel, entrando in camera di Kurt l’indomani mattina, lo trovò già sveglio e pronto. Indossava abiti eleganti ma comodi, un’ampia gonna che sembrava perfetta per favorire lunghe passeggiate per territori non propriamente semplici da attraversare, come se il signorino si preparasse a scalare le colline o qualcosa del genere. La sola idea era esilarante, al punto che fu più quello a farla ridere che non il trovare Kurt già in piedi davanti ai suoi spartiti e pronto per la lezione di solfeggio, cosa che, già da sola, in un altro momento l’avrebbe costretta a piegarsi in due dalle risate.
Le sue due dame di compagnia, nel cogliere questo suo moto d’ilarità, non riuscirono a loro volta a trattenere il proprio, e in breve Kurt si ritrovò circondato all’improvviso da donne ridacchianti per motivi che a lui sfuggivano completamente.
- Cosa vi prende? – domandò, incuriosito e un po’ indispettito da quella che, da qualunque lato provasse a guardarla, non sembrava molto diversa da una presa in giro, - Perché ridete?
- È insolito vedervi già in piedi prima di mezzogiorno, signorino Kurt. – rispose Rachel, posando i libri di musica e la bacchetta sulla scrivania e stringendosi nelle spalle, - Usualmente riuscite a vestirvi solo appena in tempo per il pranzo.
- Ho deciso di dare inizio a una nuova era della mia vita. – rispose Kurt, piegando il capo verso l’alto ed incrociando le braccia sul petto in uno sbuffo polemico, - Un’era in cui mi sveglierò di buon mattino e mi godrò la bontà dell’aria di campagna e—
- E potrete passare più tempo col vostro adorato principe, naturalmente. – ridacchiò Santana, abbozzando un inchino ironico.
- Santana! – la rimproverò Kurt, oltraggiato, arrossendo. – Per tua informazione, il principe sarà impegnato per i prossimi giorni assieme alla propria compagnia e a mio fratello nel perlustrare i territori attraverso i quali passa la strada per la Foresta Nera! Partirà prima di pranzo, lasciando qui solo il suo stalliere, ed è con lui che passerò la giornata. Egli è stato incaricato di mostrarmi come si monta uno stallone, così che poi io possa farlo in presenza di sua maestà!
Le tre donne lo fissarono per qualche secondo, spalancando occhi e bocca, e quando ripresero a ridere, perfino più forte di prima, Kurt arrossì ancor più violentemente.
- Siete… siete terribili! – si lamentò, coprendosi il volto con le mani.
- Perdonateci, signorino Kurt. – disse Rachel, cercando di darsi un contegno e recuperando la bacchetta dalla scrivania, - È dunque con lo stalliere di sua maestà che passerete la giornata? E non vi pare che gli abiti che indossate siano poco adatti all’equitazione?
Kurt sbuffò, stringendosi nelle spalle.
- Il mio completo da cavallerizza s’è sporcato di fango, ieri, e non è ancora pronto. Questa gonna dovrebbe andare bene… - disse, sollevandola appena, - È ampia, dovrebbe scivolare bene anche quando sarò in sella.
- Oh, che scivoli bene è indubbio. – ridacchiò Brittany, divertita, - Se volete attirare l’attenzione del giovane stalliere, sarà perfetta.
- Che— Che cosa? – sussultò Kurt, arrossendo un’altra volta, - Ma cosa dici, Brittany! È per il principe che faccio tutto ciò, ricordatevelo! Solo per lui!
- Io lo trovo… - intervenne Santana, prendendosi qualche secondo per cercare bene la parola adatta, anche se nessuno aveva chiesto la sua opinione in merito, - scialbo. Ecco, sì. Intendiamoci, - riprese, come mettendo le mani avanti, - è un principe, è fascinoso, a suo modo, è perfino bello, se lo si guarda dalla giusta prospettiva—
- Se lo si guarda dalla giusta prospettiva?! – la interruppe Kurt, posandosi una mano sul cuore in un gesto di sincero sconvolgimento, - E quale prospettiva sarebbe, quella sbagliata? Perché, da qualunque prospettiva io lo guardi, egli è ai miei occhi un esempio di perfezione! La sua bellezza non conosce confini, la sua eleganza innata è indiscussa, il suo fascino è intrepido e toccante pur senza mai eccedere in volgarità gratuite, e—
- Sì, sarà. – sospirò Santana, già annoiata dalla dichiarazione, - Ma a me piace di più lo stalliere. – concluse, scoppiando a ridere maliziosamente mentre Rachel e Brittany le facevano coro per qualche secondo.
- Santana, non parlare così. – la rimbrottò quindi Rachel, nonostante fosse evidente dal suo tono giocoso che non intendeva rimproverarla sul serio, - Sai bene quanto fini e sensibili siano le orecchie del signorino Kurt. Potrebbe turbarsi.
- Io non mi turbo affatto! – sbottò lui, stendendo le braccia lungo i fianchi e piegandosi in avanti come un bimbo pronto a pestare i piedi se non vedrà esaudito all’istante il suo ennesimo capriccio, - Sono perfettamente conscio di quanto una figura ben piantata ed un paio di possenti braccia possano turbare gli sciocchi umori di una donna, ma io sono ben altro! Io sono una dama, ed in quanto tale destinato ad avere ben più di un semplice stalliere, come compagno di tutta una vita! E mi stupisco di voi, - concluse, lanciando occhiate severe alle tre donne che lo circondavano, - che pure siete state educate a ricercare sempre la finezza e il garbo! Guardate come vi confondono un… un paio di muscoli!
- Ben più di un paio, se posso permettermi, signorino Kurt. – precisò Santana in una risata compiaciuta, per nulla turbata dal rimprovero del suo padroncino.
- Via, via. – sorrise Rachel, cercando di placare gli animi ed introducendosi nel discorso prima che Kurt potesse partire con un’altra scarica di rimproveri, - Se può consolarvi, signorino Kurt, lo stalliere non è nemmeno il mio tipo. Ed ho idea che stia cominciando a farsi tardi, per cui sarebbe proprio il caso che cominciassimo la lezione.
- E invece non cominceremo proprio un bel niente. – rispose Kurt, sedendosi di scatto sul letto ed incassando la testa nelle spalle mentre tornava a incrociare le braccia sul petto in una posa così ostinatamente infantile da muovere quasi i cuori alla tenerezza. – È tardi, come hai detto, e fra meno di mezz’ora dovremo accomiatarci da sua maestà, visto che lui e la sua compagnia staranno lontani almeno per un paio di giorni, ed io devo ancora finire di prepararmi. Inoltre, il vostro sciocco chiacchiericcio mi ha messo di malumore. – aggiunse, non risparmiandosi di lanciare un’altra occhiataccia a Santana, la quale, conoscendolo, non si sognò nemmeno di offendersi a riguardo. – Riprenderemo regolarmente le lezioni da domani, Rachel, ma ricordami di congedare prima le mie due dame da compagnia, quando arriverai.
Rachel faticò a trattenere un sorriso, lanciando un’occhiata d’intesa alle due dame ed inchinandosi subito dopo, per poi salutare il signorino Kurt ed abbandonare la stanza. Stava per ritirarsi in camera propria, per indossare un abito più formale che fosse consono al momento in cui si sarebbero tutti ritrovati in cortile per salutare il principe in partenza, quando appoggiato alla parete, a pochi centimetri dalla porta, trovò il principe di Carmel, inequivocabilmente atteggiato come fosse in attesa di qualcuno.
- Maestà. – lo salutò con un inchino, fermandosi di fronte a lui, - Vi siete forse perso?
- Al contrario. – sorrise lui, allontanandosi dalla parete con uno scatto di reni, - Trovare la vostra camera non è stato affatto semplice. Sono tutte uguali. Se non avessi saputo che siete l’insegnante di musica del giovane Hummel, e non avessi perciò notato immediatamente il pianoforte in questa camera, non avrei mai potuto indovinare che era la vostra.
- Perdonatemi, maestà, - disse lei, producendosi in un altro inchino ma faticando a nascondere l’espressione accigliata che le era naturalmente affiorata sul viso nel sentirlo parlare, - ma non penso sia stato molto cortese da parte vostra sbirciare in camera di una dama, fosse pure per trovarla. Inoltre, non riesco a capire per quale motivo desideraste vedermi.
- Cortese? – sorrise Jesse, girandole attorno con aria quasi predatoria, pur senza mai permettersi di avvicinarsi troppo a lei, - La cortesia non è che un’inutile posa, una menzogna, un comportamento artefatto. I metodi sussiegosi di questa regione mi nauseano, e non capisco come una come te, - la stuzzicò, sottolineando quell’appellativo con soddisfazione, - una col mio stesso sangue, possa trovarsi bene in mezzo a tutti questi damerini.
Rachel gli sollevò addosso un’occhiata raggelata, lasciando andare la gonna e indietreggiando appena.
- Come avete fatto a—
- A capire che venivi anche tu da Carmel? – completò per lei, sorridendole con sicurezza, - Ma l’ho visto subito. Te l’ho sentito addosso. I tuoi lineamenti, la forma dei tuoi occhi, perfino il profumo della tua pelle… - si avvicinò impercettibilmente, non abbastanza da invadere il suo spazio vitale ma decisamente a sufficienza da imporre il proprio profumo così virile e penetrante su di lei, - Le donne di Carmel sono fra le più belle di tutta la nostra grande nazione. Ed io sono in viaggio ormai da mesi. Vederne una ha riempito il mio cuore di gioia.
- I-Io trovo tutto ciò molto sconveniente, maestà. – cercò di fermarlo lei, indietreggiando ancora fino a schiacciarsi contro la porta, - E vi sarei molto grata se poteste smetterla di comportarvi così, e riprendeste a darmi del voi, come i costumi di questo paese impongono.
Jesse si allontanò, sollevando entrambe le mani in un gesto di resa, pur senza mai rinunciare a quel sorriso così spavaldo e irritante.
- Come volete, Rachel. – disse annuendo, - Ma avremo modo di ridiscutere la questione, quando sarò tornato dalla perlustrazione col principe Blaine. – concluse, prima di voltarle le spalle ed attraversare il corridoio in pochi passi, diretto al cortile.
Il respiro affannoso ed una mano sul petto, Rachel rimase e lungo sulla porta, prima di convincersi a muoversi e rientrare in camera.
- Conterò i giorni per il vostro ritorno, maestà. – sorrise Kurt, porgendo al principe una ghirlanda di fiori che aveva intrecciato quella mattina in fretta e furia dopo essere corso al prato di nascosto per coglierli, - Questa villa non sarà la stessa, senza la vostra presenza.
- Io non sarò lo stesso, senza voi al mio fianco. – rispose Blaine, trattenendo una delle sue mani fra le proprie e premendosela sul petto all’altezza del cuore, mentre Finn, completamente ignorato dal fratello e già a cavallo, incrociava le braccia sul petto, sbuffando e distogliendo lo sguardo, irritato. – La vostra assenza lascerà in me un vuoto incolmabile. In ogni momento, il mio pensiero sarà rivolto a voi. Spero possiate sentirlo. E a tale proposito, - schioccò le dita, e Sam si fece avanti, trafelato e sporco di polvere come al solito, portando con sé quella che si sarebbe detta una gabbia per uccelli coperta da un telo, - questo è un piccolo presente, perché non vi dimentichiate di me mentre sono via.
Kurt sollevò il telo, scoprendo una gabbia d’oro finemente decorata che conteneva un piccolo canarino dal petto giallo.
- Oh, cielo, maestà! – esclamò commosso, - È così carino!
- La sua voce non sarà bella come la vostra, - proseguì Blaine, tornando a stringergli una mano e portandosela alle labbra, - ma dal momento in cui ieri mi si è posato spontaneamente su una spalla, rallegrandomi col suo gentile canto, ho pensato che doveva essere vostro.
- Maestà, il dono che mi fate va ben oltre il semplice valore di quest’uccello. – ringraziò Kurt con un inchino, - Lo chiamerò Pavarotti, come il vostro splendido cavallo. E se mai c’era ancora una minuscola possibilità che la mia mente ed il mio cuore potessero allontanarsi per un istante dal pensiero della vostra persona, da adesso in poi il suo canto impedirà che ciò possa mai accadere.
Blaine sorrise, gli occhi brillanti di affetto, e dopo un ultimo bacio posato sulle delicate dita di Kurt si issò in sella, spronando il cavallo al galoppo lungo il sentiero che portava verso i prati aperti e, più avanti, alla foresta. Il gruppo dei gentiluomini al suo seguito partì immediatamente dopo di lui, e ben presto il cortile fu di nuovo sgombro, e tutta la servitù riprese con le normali attività. Kurt ordinò a Sam di portare il piccolo Pavarotti in camera sua e poggiare la gabbietta sul davanzale della finestra, assicurandola al telaio perché non ci fosse il rischio che qualche improvviso colpo di vento la rovesciasse o, peggio, la facesse precipitare di sotto, e poi, sorridendo sereno e gioviale, si incamminò verso la stalla.
Al suo arrivo, Dave stava finendo di preparare Sarpedonte per lui. Restando un po’ in disparte, certo che lo stalliere non lo avrebbe visto, giacché ogni volta che si trovava in compagnia dei cavalli sembrava sempre non avere occhi per nient’altro, si prese qualche secondo per osservarlo, notando con quanta cura ed attenzione assicurasse la sella alla schiena dell’animale, stringendo bene le cinghie sotto il suo ventre e concludendo ogni operazione con una pacca o una carezza sul collo della bestia, come ci tenesse a rassicurarlo passo passo del fatto che ogni cosa stava andando per il verso giusto.
- Sembrate amare molto i cavalli. – commentò, avanzando all’interno della stalla mentre sollevava appena la lunga gonna sulle caviglie magre, per evitare che potesse sporcarsi o sdrucirsi strisciando sulle assi del pavimento. – Intendo, indipendentemente dal fatto che preferiate la loro compagnia a quella umana. Scommetto che li amavate anche da prima che vi accadesse tutto quello che mi avete raccontato.
Lo stalliere non sollevò lo sguardo dal cavallo, ma sorrise appena, dando modo a Kurt di capire che l’aveva sentito. Afferrò una spazzola da una delle tasche del grembiule da lavoro che indossava, e prese a pettinare con cura la criniera dell’animale, accarezzandola con le dita per verificare che non rimanessero nodi dove la spazzola era già passata.
- È vero. – ammise, mentre Kurt si sedeva di propria iniziativa su una delle balle di fieno accatastate in un angolo, per osservarlo lavorare, - Mio padre Paul possedeva una mandria di splendidi cavalli che allevavamo per renderli perfetti cavalli da corsa o da carrozza. Ho passato tutta la mia infanzia in compagnia di questi animali, e man mano che crescevo è diventato normale, per me, prendermene cura.
- Di certo, - commentò Kurt, - trattate loro con molta più delicatezza di quanta ne usiate per i vostri simili.
Dave si voltò a guardarlo, accigliato, ma stese immediatamente le sopracciglia, rilassandosi, quando notò il sorriso quasi intenerito che gli piegava le labbra.
- Dunque avete smesso di considerarmi una bestia? – chiese quindi, con un mezzo sorriso divertito, - Dalle vostre ultime parole, sembra quasi che abbiate deciso di accogliermi fra gli esseri umani.
- Mi pare che vi stiate meritando il posto, dopotutto. – ridacchiò Kurt, stringendosi nelle spalle e fingendo una serietà che in quel momento non gli apparteneva affatto. – Allora, - disse poi, saltando in piedi e battendo le mani davanti al viso con emozione palese, - quando potrò cominciare a cavalcare? Non vedo l’ora!
Dave gli lanciò un’occhiata critica, studiando il suo abbigliamento dalla testa ai piedi.
- Dove sono finiti i vostri pantaloni? – domandò severamente, e Kurt si strinse nelle spalle, vagamente in imbarazzo.
- Purtroppo, gli unici che posseggo sono quelli del completo da cavallerizza, e non sono ancora pronti. Dopo la caduta di ieri si sono sporcati. – sospirò. Dave schiuse le labbra e batté un paio di volte le palpebre.
- Intendete salire a cavallo con la gonna? – chiese con aria incredula, puntandolo con un dito.
- Non è carino indicare. – borbottò Kurt, gonfiando le guance e appendendo le mani ai fianchi, e lo stupì non poco notare la punta di imbarazzo con la quale immediatamente Dave abbassò la mano, pur continuando a fissarlo sgomento. – So che non è il più appropriato degli abbigliamenti—
- Non solo non è il più appropriato, ma non è affatto appropriato. – precisò Dave, quasi rimproverandolo. – Avete idea di cosa succederebbe se per caso l’orlo della gonna restasse impigliato fra il vostro piede e la staffa? Rischiereste di cadere.
- Be’, non c’è problema! – ribatté Kurt, incoraggiante, - La gonna è molto ampia, mi lascerà libero di muovermi, e posso sempre tirarla su! – disse, chinandosi appena per stringere fra le mani l’orlo dell’abito, sollevandolo fin sotto ai fianchi. Dave distolse immediatamente lo sguardo, tornando a pettinare con foga la criniera di Sarpedonte. – Dave, per l’amor del cielo! – sbottò Kurt, sconvolto, - Sono pur sempre un ragazzo! Potete per un attimo dimenticare che indosso un abito femminile? Non mi sembra il momento adatto per perdersi in sciocchi, infantili ed inutili imbarazzi!
- Sarebbe più facile per me dimenticare che indossate una gonna, se voi semplicemente non la indossaste! – ribatté lo stalliere, posando la spazzola e voltandosi verso di lui mentre allargava le braccia ai lati del corpo in un gesto arreso.
- D’accordo! – replicò il ragazzo, allargando a propria volta le braccia e lasciando ricadere la gonna a terra, per poi correre subito con le dita alla fascia di stoffa che gli stringeva l’abito in vita, - Posso toglierla! Resterò in biancheria!
- Cosa?! – strillò Dave, allarmato, muovendosi celermente verso di lui e poggiandogli entrambe le mani sui fianchi per fermarlo, - Ma siete impazzito? Cosa penserebbero gli altri se vi vedessero?
Kurt smise di armeggiare con la fascia, facendosi educatamente indietro per interrompere il contatto con le sue mani senza per questo dovergli sgarbatamente chiedere di allontanarle dai suoi fianchi, e rifletté per qualche secondo.
- In effetti, avete ragione. – annuì, - Ma posso condurvi in un posto in cui nessuno ci vedrebbe. È un grande prato nelle vicinanze del lago. Lì avremo al contempo tutto lo spazio e tutto il riserbo che ci serve.
Dave si lasciò ricadere le braccia lungo i fianchi, incurvando le spalle.
- Siete proprio deciso a cavalcare in mutande, dunque. – constatò, atterrito. Kurt annuì con entusiasmo, afferrando Sarpedonte per le redini e cominciando a condurlo verso l’uscita della stalla.
- Andiamo? – domandò, sorridendo gentilmente. A Dave non rimase che seguirlo attraverso il cortile, adesso silenzioso, per favorire l’ora di riposo pomeridiano che Lord Hummel amava concedersi durante i pomeriggi così afosi, e poi lungo il sentiero che, dalla villa, si dipanava attraverso la campagna, fino al lago.
Il prato di cui Kurt gli aveva parlato era in effetti grande abbastanza da fornire loro spazio a sufficienza per tutti gli esercizi, e l’erba, così alta e soffice, già da sola rappresentava una buona superficie morbida sulla quale Kurt, atterrando, non si sarebbe fatto troppo male, anche nel caso gli fosse capitato di sfuggire alle sue braccia.
- È davvero un bel posto. – commentò guardandosi intorno, affascinato dalle moltitudini di colori diversi che macchiavano il prato, come schizzi di tempera su una tela, - Nel mio paese non c’erano molti prati come questo. Era una terra piuttosto arida.
- Qui tutta la campagna è così. – annuì Kurt, con aria sognante, - Anche se – aggiunse, stringendosi nelle spalle ed arrossendo appena, - ammetto di non essere molto bravo a godermela. Mi sveglio sempre tardi, al mattino, e per il momento in cui sono pronto l’aria è sempre troppo calda per spingermi a passeggiare fino a qui. I miei abiti non mi consentono spostamenti troppo lunghi, sono faticosi da portare.
- Immagino. – rise Dave, chinandosi ad accarezzare il collo di Sarpedonte mentre quest’ultimo si piegava sulla superficie del lago per abbeverarsi. – In effetti, danno l’idea di ingolfarvi parecchio.
- Già. – ridacchiò Kurt, - Per questo l’idea di togliere la gonna non mi urta più di tanto. – ammise, correndo velocemente con le mani alla fascia di seta per svolgerla, trattenendola fra le mani per piegarla ordinatamente ed appoggiarla nell’erba poco distante prima di sciogliere il fiocco che assicurava la gonna ai suoi fianchi magri, e sfilarla in un unico gesto.
Dave voltò repentinamente il capo, col rischio di farsi venire un gran torcicollo, mentre Kurt ripiegava anche la gonna e la appoggiava accanto alla fascia.
- Insomma! – protestò il ragazzo quando, voltandosi nella sua direzione, lo vide intento a fissare con interesse quasi maniacale le increspature dell’acqua attorno al muso di Sarpedonte, - Mi sembrava che la questione del mio sesso fosse risolta!
- Perdonatemi, ma voi indossate biancheria intima femminile! – sbottò Dave, indicando con un cenno vago i mutandoni di pizzo che coprivano le cosce di Kurt fino al ginocchio, - Questa cosa è davvero disorientante.
- Quanta pazienza. – sospirò Kurt, lanciando al cielo un’occhiata supplice, - Posso chiedervi, per piacere, di mettere da parte i vostri ridicoli pregiudizi, almeno finché saremo forzati a passare del tempo insieme? Vi prometto che, quando sarò pronto a cavalcare uno stallone da solo, non vedrete più le mie sottane neanche da lontano. Va bene?
Dave sospirò a propria volta, immergendo una mano in acqua e passandosela sul viso per rinfrescarsi.
- D’accordo. – disse quindi, - Andiamo, Sarpedonte. – ordinò al cavallo, conducendolo verso Kurt. – Salite. E tenete a mente che un cavallo come questo vi obbliga a tenere le gambe al contempo ben aperte e ben salde. Non cercate di partire subito al galoppo, prendetevi il vostro tempo per ambientarvi, prima.
Kurt annuì coscienziosamente, piantando entrambe le mani sulla sella e puntando il piede nella staffa per salire in groppa a Sarpedonte. Una volta su, inspirò ed espirò, guardando per bene il paesaggio attorno a sé. Il cavallo era altissimo, e gli permetteva di scrutare le cime degli alberi della foresta in lontananza fin dove cominciavano a inerpicarsi lungo l’aspro pendio delle montagne.
- Adesso? – domandò, tornando a guardare Dave e stringendo le redini fra le dita.
- Adesso – disse Dave, accarezzando il muso del cavallo per poi afferrarlo saldamente per il morso, - proveremo a fare qualche passo. Non è necessario che lo sproniate voi, vi condurrò io. Voi cercate semplicemente di tenervi in equilibrio.
- Come sarebbe a dire cercate di tenervi in equilibrio? – borbottò Kurt, aggrottando le sopracciglia, mentre Sarpedonte iniziava a passeggiare lentamente, - So perfettamente come tenermi in equilibrio in sella, signore! Per vostra informazione, vado a cavallo da quando avevo dieci anni, e— ah! – strillò, mentre la veemenza con la quale aveva cominciato a discutere prendeva il sopravvento sul suo autocontrollo, portandolo a mollare la presa delle gambe attorno al corpo del cavallo e scivolare lateralmente lungo la sella, aiutato anche dal tessuto liscio e troppo leggero della sua biancheria.
- Attento. – lo rimbrottò Dave, mollando immediatamente il morso di Sarpedonte per precipitarsi al suo fianco ed impedirgli di rovinare a terra, aiutandolo a scendere dalla sella e rimettersi in piedi saldo sulle proprie gambe. – Quante volte devo dirvi che una cavalcatura come questa è profondamente differente da quelle alle quali siete abituato? Siete così cocciuto!
- Non ci riuscirò mai. – piagnucolò Kurt, accarezzando lievemente un fianco a Sarpedonte per poi allontanarsi da lui e lasciarsi ricadere sgraziatamente nell’erba a pochi passi dalla riva fangosa del lago. – Basta, ci rinuncio. Sono stanco! – si lamentò, rannicchiandosi su se stesso e fissando l’orizzonte con aria triste.
- E siete anche pigro. – borbottò Dave, conducendo il cavallo a riva e legandolo ad un albero lì di fianco, per poi andare a sedersi accanto a Kurt, - Raccogliete in voi proprio tutti i difetti di entrambi i sessi, complimenti.
- In molti mi hanno detto che invece in me convivono solo i pregi di maschi e femmine. – sbottò Kurt, voltandosi a guardarlo con aria vagamente irritata, per poi sospirare stancamente. – Non voglio litigare, Dave, non offendetemi.
- Vi stavo solo prendendo un po’ in giro. – rise piano l’uomo, sistemandosi meglio nell’erba. – Posso chiedervi perché lo fate?
- Perché faccio cosa? – chiese Kurt, voltandosi a guardarlo con aria genuinamente perplessa.
- Tutto questo. – rispose Dave, accennando alla sua intera figura con un cenno del capo, - Perché vi vestite da donna, perché vi comportate come una donna, soprattutto perché accettate che altri uomini vi trattino come se voi foste veramente una donna? Non è umiliante? Per me lo sarebbe. – concluse con una scrollatina di spalle.
- Be’, voi sareste inguardabile, con una gonna. – notò Kurt con una mezza risata. – Comunque, - riprese in una nota più seria, - qualcuno doveva pur farlo, suppongo. Non è facile vivere in un paese in cui non nascono figlie femmine. Io sono sempre stato piuttosto delicato, e per la verità non mi sono mai interessato a tutte quelle cose che invece facevano impazzire mio fratello Finn, perciò non mi sono mai ribellato al modo in cui venivo educato.
- Avreste potuto rifiutarvi. – disse Dave, scrutandolo con interesse, e Kurt sorrise, guardando il lago.
- Ma a me piaceva. – rispose, - Questi vestiti, i modi, il canto, il ruolo che ho all’interno della famiglia… a me piace. Lo trovate così assurdo?
- Per la verità, sì. – ammise lui, abbassando lo sguardo e sentendosi in qualche modo stranamente in difetto.
- Allora il problema non è perché io lo faccia, - gli sorrise Kurt, - quanto più il fatto che voi non riusciate ad accettare che a me possa piacere farlo. E non vi sembra questo perfino più assurdo?
- Che intendete? – domandò Dave, inarcando un sopracciglio con aria scettica. Kurt prese tempo, giocando con qualche filo d’erba, e notò lo sguardo interessato con cui Dave seguiva il movimento lento e aggraziato delle sue dita. Sembrava che quell’uomo non riuscisse proprio a capacitarsi dell’esistenza in vita di una creatura come lui. Era esilarante, se si metteva da parte quanto offensive potessero essere a volte le sue parole.
- Intendo – si decise a rispondere, finalmente, - che io trovo molto più assurdo che voi, che non avete mai indossato una gonna, possiate contestare il mio piacere nell’indossarne una, piuttosto che il fatto che a me possa effettivamente piacere comportarmi come una donna. Non potrete mai sapere perché mi piace, semplicemente perché non potrete mai provarlo sulla vostra pelle. Dovreste semplicemente accettarlo, e basta.
Dave sembrò riflettere seriamente sulla questione, gli occhi distanti persi sulla superficie del lago, e poi annuì brevemente.
- Sì, forse. – ammise, - Mi sembra ancora una cosa completamente incomprensibile, ma è probabile che io abbia ancora molto da imparare.
Kurt sorrise ancora, sporgendosi appena verso di lui.
- Avrete bisogno di essere educato. – propose, ed al solo sentire le sue parole Dave, che si era appena voltato a guardarlo, dovette chinare nuovamente il capo, e Kurt fu non poco stupito dall’osservare quel lieve rossore che, improvvisamente, prese a colorargli le guance. – Cosa vi prende? – domandò quindi, incerto, - Vi sentite poco bene?
Dave si voltò a guardarlo come non potesse credere alle proprie orecchie.
- Alle volte siete veramente un maschio. – constatò allibito, - Non vi rendete proprio conto.
Kurt sbatté le lunghe ciglia un paio di volte, disorientato.
- Non comprendo. – ammise perplesso. Dave sospirò, alzandosi in piedi e tendendogli una mano per aiutarlo a fare lo stesso.
- Lasciate perdere. – cercò di sorridergli, - Ora andiamo, s’è fatto tardi. Vi riaccompagno a casa.
Kurt annuì, ancora confuso dalle sue parole, ma accettò l’aiuto di buon grado, alzandosi in piedi e finendo poi per afflosciarsi sul petto di Dave non appena ebbe provato a star dritto, mugolando un lieve “oh” in parte sorpreso e in parte addolorato al quale lo stalliere rispose con un’occhiata talmente preoccupata da far sembrare che temesse per la propria stessa vita.
- Accidenti… - mormorò Kurt, reggendosi alle spalle forti dell’uomo mentre sollevava un piede da terra.
- Cos’avete? – domandò lui, cercando contemporaneamente di sorreggerlo e di sporgersi oltre la sua spalla per dare un’occhiata al piede.
- Devo essermi storto una caviglia, prima. – borbottò il ragazzo, infastidito. – Non credo di riuscire a camminare.
- Queste cose capitano perché siete uno sconsiderato. – lo rimproverò aspramente Dave, aggrottando le sopracciglia. – Coraggio, montate in groppa a Sarpedonte.
- Cosa? No! – sbottò Kurt, incrociando le braccia sul petto e cadendo immediatamente seduto per terra non appena si rese conto che la caviglia non lo reggeva affatto, - Io non ci salgo più, là sopra!
- Oh, per favore, niente capricci, adesso! – sbuffò Dave, roteando gli occhi e recuperandolo da terra, afferrandolo per le spalle e tirandolo su di peso per poi condurlo senza la minima grazia verso il cavallo. – Appoggiatevi a lui. – ordinò fermo, e Kurt, pur piegando le labbra in una smorfia altamente contrariata, obbedì, osservandolo allontanarsi verso la sua gonna e la sua fascia per recuperarli da terra. – Permettetemi di rivestirvi. – chiese rispettosamente, attendendo un suo cenno di intesa per avvolgergli la gonna attorno ai fianchi e stringere poi il tutto con la fascia in vita. Kurt si lasciò maneggiare senza protestare, stupito dalla delicatezza di quelle mani così grandi, callose e tozze ma inaspettatamente gentili.
- Siete… molto dolce. – commentò stupito, mentre Dave lo guardava incerto. – Mi avete appena trattato come fossi uno dei vostri cavalli. – spiegò, - Non so se questo dovrebbe turbarmi, in effetti. – aggiunse con tono un po’ sconcertato, inumidendosi le labbra.
- Basta sciocchezze. – tagliò corto Dave, distogliendo lo sguardo. – Adesso non muovetevi. – disse, stringendogli le mani in vita e sollevandolo senza il minimo sforzo fino a consentirgli di accomodarsi in sella per traverso, per poi puntare un piede nella staffa e salire in groppa al cavallo subito dietro di lui. – Aggrappatevi a me. – ordinò.
- Mi sembra parecchio sconveniente. – protestò Kurt, arrossendo a causa della sua improvvisa vicinanza.
- A me sembrerebbe molto più sconveniente se cadeste di nuovo, magari completando l’opera e facendovi male anche all’altra caviglia. – replicò Dave, serissimo. – Stringetevi a me, o non ci muoveremo mai.
- E va bene, d’accordo! – concesse Kurt con un sospiro esasperato, appoggiandosi nuovamente al petto di Dave e stringendo fra le dita il tessuto della casacca che indossava. – Non vi si può fare un complimento che subito me lo ricacciate in gola. – borbottò, mentre Dave spronava il cavallo a ripartire alla volta della villa.
- Scommetto che se fosse stato il principe Blaine, a chiedervi di stringervi a lui, non avreste protestato così tanto. – disse Dave, incapace di trattenere l’acidità nella voce, mentre Kurt si voltava a fissarlo con sgomento palese, - E non vi sarebbe importato di quanto fosse sconveniente.
- Come osate?! – scattò offeso, tirandogli un lieve pugno contro il petto, - Se avete intenzione di litigare, sappiate che non ne ho alcuna voglia! Smettetela subito!
- La smetto, la smetto. – sbuffò lui, lanciando il cavallo al galoppo per fare più in fretta.
- Siete terribile. – insistette Kurt, prendendo a fissare ostinatamente la strada accidentata che sfilava veloce sotto di loro, ma appoggiandosi comunque a lui per ridurre al minimo il rischio di cadere. – Mi ero trovato così bene, fino a poco fa. Non capisco che vi è preso.
- Mi siete preso voi, ecco che mi è preso! – ribatté Dave, stringendo la presa sulle redini e sospirando sollevato alla vista della villa in fondo alla strada.
- E cosa vorreste dire, con ciò?! – sbottò Kurt, tornando a guardarlo con aria allucinata.
- Voglio dire che siete una persona assurda, non si sa mai cosa aspettarsi da voi e… e siete insopportabile! – quasi strillò, fermando il cavallo in mezzo al cortile e scendendo in un gesto così repentino da rischiare di far perdere nuovamente l’equilibrio a Kurt. – Aspettate qui, vado a chiamare qualcuno che possa portarvi in camera vostra. – disse rudemente, distogliendo lo sguardo dalla sua figura.
- Ma dove andate, dove andate! – roteò gli occhi il ragazzo, sbuffando esasperato, - Mi avete portato fino a qui, portatemi anche in camera. Datemi una mano e smettetela di fare lo scontroso, piuttosto. Siete incredibile! – si lagnò, porgendogli una mano in un gesto inequivocabile. Dave sospirò stancamente, ma prese la sua mano nella propria e si preparò ad accoglierlo quando lui scivolò fluidamente giù dalla sella, atterrando morbido fra le sue braccia.
- E portarvi in braccio in camera vostra com’è? – gli chiese ironico mentre, tenendolo saldamente stretto al petto, attraversava il cortile, entrava in casa e poi imboccava le scale per il piano di sopra, - Sconveniente?
- Voi siete la persona più noiosa del mondo, ne siete consapevole? – gli fece presente Kurt, scuotendo il capo e incrociando le braccia sul petto, - Non è né sconveniente, né nient’altro, è solo necessario. – spiegò, cercando di riportare il tono della propria voce su una nota meno stridula e indisponente. – Ora, se vi è possibile, vorreste per piacere tornare ad essere la piacevolissima persona che siete stato fino a un momento fa? O volete continuare a comportarvi così finché non vi odierò senza speranza?
Già giunto di fronte alla porta di camera sua, Dave non poté che sospirare, arreso.
- Voi mi stancate in modi incomprensibili. – ammise, aspettando che fosse Kurt a sporgersi per aprire la porta e poi conducendolo all’interno, - Siete proprio faticoso, e non invidio affatto il povero principe Blaine che sarà costretto a sopportarvi per tutto il resto della vostra vita. – concluse, richiudendosi la porta alle spalle con un calcio.
- Possa Iddio concedermene una abbastanza lunga da venire ogni sera a tirarvi i piedi nel letto mentre dormite, se la mia povera porta sarà stata danneggiata dal vostro sgarbato scarpone! – strillò Kurt, agitandosi fra le sue braccia mentre Dave gli urlava di stare buono, - E comunque, non preoccupatevi per la mia futura vita matrimoniale, sono convinto che sarà rosea e splendente!
- Bene! – sbottò lo stalliere, lasciandolo ricadere sul proprio letto.
- Bene! – gli fece eco Kurt, sollevandosi a sedere sul materasso e fissandolo irritato, - Ora vi siete sfogato? La smettete o no?!
- Tacete, santi numi! – gridò Dave, fuori di sé dalla frustrazione, e non fu che un attimo prima che si sporgesse verso di lui e, stringendogli il viso fra le mani, appoggiasse le proprie labbra contro le sue, con una foga un po’ goffa, ma talmente infuocata da ricoprire la pelle di Kurt di brividi bollenti.
Era il suo primo bacio.
- …cosa. – annaspò sconvolto, quando Dave si fu allontanato da lui. Lo fissò con occhi enormi e persi, in parte spaventato, in parte confuso, come aspettandosi automaticamente da lui una risposta plausibile che spiegasse quel gesto apparentemente così assurdo.
- …perdonatemi. – deglutì Dave, lasciandolo andare e rimettendosi dritto. – Non so cosa mi è preso. Non avrei dovuto.
- No che non avreste dovuto! – strillò Kurt, gli occhi pieni di lacrime, - Era— Era la prima volta che qualcuno— che—
- Ho chiesto scusa! – lo interruppe Dave, innervosito dal suo melodrammatico balbettio, - E, in ogni caso, suppongo di essere stato appena nuovamente retrocesso assieme a tutte le altre bestie, per cui non pensateci. Sarà come se un cane vi avesse leccato il viso.
- Quest’immagine è agghiacciante e oh, santo cielo, voi mi avete baciato! – continuò a strillare Kurt, sconvolto, rannicchiandosi in un angolino del letto come avesse paura che Dave potesse nuovamente saltargli addosso, nonostante fosse abbastanza chiaro che non l’avrebbe fatto. – Siete un bruto! Un— un— non ho parole per descrivervi!
- Ecco, perfetto, allora non cercatele neanche. – sospirò l’uomo, passandosi una mano sul viso e cercando di calmarsi. – Vado via, adesso. Fate finta che niente di tutto questo sia mai accaduto. Ad insegnarvi come si cavalca uno stallone ci penserà il principe al suo ritorno. Mi sembra la cosa più giusta.
- Dave. – lo chiamò Kurt, osservandolo dargli le spalle per uscire, - Dave! Non osate abbandonare questa stanza prima che io vi abbia dato il permesso di farlo! – strillò, stringendo il copriletto fra le dita con foga, come se questo potesse in qualche modo contribuire a trattenere anche lo stalliere.
Non servì, comunque.
Erano ormai parecchie ore che Blaine e il suo seguito erano in viaggio. Per evitare di perdere tempo inutilmente, non si erano fermati a riposare, se non per una breve sosta nei pressi di un corso d’acqua, giusto per far abbeverare i cavalli, prima di riprendere la corsa verso la foresta. Nelle sue perlustrazioni solitarie dei giorni precedenti, Blaine aveva visto che era possibile arrivare fin lì in qualche ora, tenendo i cavalli al galoppo ad un ritmo serrato, ed era stato proprio questo l’ordine che aveva impartito e che aveva permesso al suo gruppo di trovarsi già all’imboccatura della valle nel fondo della quale la foresta cresceva forte e rigogliosa, nutrita dall’umidità e dal sole del mattino prima che l’abbraccio della montagna sulla quale poi s’inerpicava la proteggesse dal calore infuocato del sole di mezzogiorno, mantenendola nell’ombra fino all’alba successiva.
Fatta eccezione per la foresta stessa, la valle sembrava del tutto inanimata. Fra gli alberi, la fauna doveva senz’altro essere viva e varia, dovevano sicuramente esserci molte specie di uccelli, parecchi roditori, chissà, forse perfino qualche volpe e qualche lupo, ma nulla sembrava vivo al di fuori del cerchio degli alberi più esterni, sulla tavola di pietra piattissima e levigata sulla quale loro si trovavano.
- Questo posto mi mette i brividi. – commentò Finn, che aveva approfittato dell’occasione per uscire un po’ dai confini del villaggio ma si sentiva ancora offeso dalla scarsa considerazione che Kurt aveva dimostrato per lui, dimenticando completamente di salutarlo, preso com’era dal desiderio di salutare il principe. Il suo umore non aveva avuto alcun motivo di rallegrarsi, sia a causa delle faticose ore trascorse al galoppo, sia a causa della compagnia, che da quando aveva discusso animatamente col principe Jesse durante la cena di qualche sera prima aveva cessato quasi del tutto di essere piacevole.
- Non preoccupatevi, Finn. – lo rassicurò Blaine con un sorriso, avvicinandoglisi al trotto, - Non avete niente da temere. Il principe Jesse lo sentirebbe, se ci fosse una strega nei dintorni.
- E infatti una strega c’è. – disse l’uomo, passando loro accanto senza degnarli di uno sguardo, scrutando intensamente il folto della foresta nel suo punto più oscuro e misterioso, - Non nelle immediate vicinanze, però, no. – proseguì, fermandosi a qualche metro dal punto in cui il sentiero si insinuava fra le radici degli alberi, fino a scomparire. – Nelle profondità di questa foresta, nondimeno, una strega vive di sicuro. Ed è anche alquanto potete, se i miei sensi non mi ingannano.
- I vostri sensi? – domandò Finn, sprezzante, - Per favore. La cartomante zingara che leggeva i tarocchi per gioco a me e a mio fratello quando eravamo bambini era più credibile di voi! Quantomeno, lei usava degli strumenti per giustificare le proprie percezioni! Voi, invece? Cos’è, l’aria intorno ad una strega puzza? – aggiunse in tono canzonatorio, prendendolo in giro. Jesse non raccolse la provocazione, e nemmeno si voltò a guardarlo, prendendo a passeggiare a cavallo attorno al limitare della foresta, come seguendo una linea curva immaginaria che lo conducesse attorno alla macchia verde per tutto il suo perimetro.
- Dal momento che me lo chiedete, signore, - rispose con tono apparentemente disinteressato, - sì. Puzza, ed è più pesante. Impregnata di magia. Non potete sentirla perché non ne avete le capacità, ma ciò non toglie che sia così.
- Provengo da una famiglia di studiosi, principe Jesse. – insistette Finn, accigliandosi, - Il fondatore di Lima, sir William McKinley, era lo scienziato più rinomato del paese. Io non credo a ciò che non posso toccare con mano, non mi lascio abbindolare da niente che non sia scientificamente provato e palese sotto i miei occhi.
Lord Montgomery si voltò immediatamente a cercare con lo sguardo la figura del principe, per chiedergli silenziosamente di porre fine a quell’alterco prima che potesse degenerare, e ben presto la sua mossa fu ripetuta anche dagli altri due membri del Consiglio della Dalton, ma il principe era così preso dall’ammirazione quasi sognante con la quale stava osservando la foresta e i suoi dintorni che del litigio non sembrava curarsi per niente. Lord Montgomery sospirò pesantemente: che sovrano sarebbe mai stato, quel ragazzo, se avesse continuato a farsi distrarre così facilmente da qualsiasi cosa, si trattasse di una coccinella su una foglia o di un giovanotto in gonnella?
Fortunatamente, Jesse non sembrava particolarmente interessato a mettersi a litigare in quel momento. Anzi, tutte le sue forze sembravano concentrate nel fare in modo che quella spedizione potesse durare per il minor tempo possibile. Sembrava, per motivi che nessuno comprendeva appieno, incredibilmente impaziente di tornare a Lima quanto prima.
- Maestà, - disse quindi, fermando repentinamente il cavallo e voltandosi verso Blaine, così sensibile alla sua parola, che reputava eminente e degna di ascolto, da concedergli immediatamente tutta la propria attenzione, - avrò bisogno di tornare alla villa di Lord Hummel, e da lì far partire un messo che possa recarsi a Carmel per portarmi alcuni volumi, e naturalmente per condurre a me i miei alchimisti.
- Ah, perfetto. – sospirò Finn, roteando gli occhi, - Ora la mia casa dovrà per forza diventare la base operativa di questa scempiaggine. Tutto ciò è ridicolo.
- Finn, vi prego, abbiate fiducia nel principe Jesse come ne avete in me. – tagliò corto Blaine con un sorriso, e Finn gli avrebbe volentieri risposto che in realtà si fidava di Jesse esattamente tanto quanto si fidava di lui, e cioè molto poco, ma trattenne la lingua e si limitò ad annuire cupo, supponendo che se già la compagnia non l’aveva in simpatia per il trattamento sprezzante che riservava al principe di Carmel, le cose non avrebbero potuto che peggiorare se si fosse rivolto nello stesso modo anche a Blaine. – Bene! – riprese il principe, spronando il cavallo ad avanzare, - Giriamo attorno alla foresta e cerchiamo un pozzo o uno specchio d’acqua nelle vicinanze del quale accamparci, sia mai durante la notte abbia luogo qualche strano evento. Ripartiremo domani in mattinata.
- Sissignore. – risposero in coro i tre componenti del Consiglio, spronando immediatamente i cavalli al seguito di quello del principe e di quello di Jesse, che gli si affiancò quasi subito. Finn rimase indietro di qualche metro: non aveva alcuna fretta di raggiungere gli altri, e supponeva che, se avessero trovato il posto adatto per accamparsi, prima o poi l’avrebbe visto anche lui, pur senza lanciarsi al galoppo come se dovesse assaltare una diligenza. Che modo era, quello, di cavalcare? Come se ogni volta che si saliva a cavallo si dovesse per forza scapicollarsi verso l’obbiettivo, quando sarebbe stato indubbiamente più sicuro e meno faticoso procedere con calma.
Per tale motivo, quando gli altri intravidero i resti del villaggio indiano distrutto, lui fu l’ultimo a notarli. Sapeva che gli indiani al confine coi possedimenti del principato stavano lentamente guadagnando terreno, spostandosi verso territori più verdeggianti e spingendosi talvolta fino a stabilirsi in luoghi particolarmente pericolosi, come quella valle, ma non aveva nessuna notizia di un villaggio eretto proprio di fianco alla foresta.
- C’è qualcosa di molto strano, qui. – mormorò, raggiungendo Blaine e Jesse in testa alla compagnia, - È tutto bruciato.
- Sicuramente opera della strega. – annuì Blaine, per poi voltarsi subito dopo a lanciare un’occhiata a Jesse, in cerca di un suo segno di approvazione. Il principe di Carmel, però, non gliene concesse alcuno: si limitò a continuare a cavalcare in silenzio fra le tende bruciate, l’odore acre del legno carbonizzato ad infastidirgli le narici, e il fumo ad annebbiargli la vista.
- Maestà, - lo richiamò quindi Lord Thompson, ritornando verso di lui dopo essere andato in ricognizione verso est fino ai confini del piccolo agglomerato di tende ormai devastato, - ci sono dei superstiti.
Immediatamente, tutto il manipolo di uomini si mosse nella direzione indicata dal cavaliere, e quando giunsero al luogo nel quale l’uomo li aveva condotti – una piccola capanna, molto più piccola delle altre, e forse proprio per questo scampata quasi interamente al disastro – videro due ragazzi sporchi di cenere rannicchiati in un angolo, stretti l’uno all’altra, spaventati come conigli dopo uno sparo. Si assomigliavano incredibilmente – entrambi biondi, entrambi dagli occhi chiari, sebbene di due sfumature di colori differenti, entrambi alti e longilinei, dai lineamenti eleganti e affascinanti, entrambi di pelle chiara e liscia – tanto da sembrare fratelli. Finn e Blaine scesero immediatamente dalle loro cavalcature, avvicinandoli come guidati da una forza misteriosa.
- Maestà? – chiamò Lord Thompson, stupito da quel comportamento, ma Jesse lo zittì con un gesto.
- È tutto a posto. – disse, e poi, con più convinzione, voltandosi verso l’uomo, aggiunse: - Non vedete che sono feriti? Correte immediatamente ad avvisare Harwood e Montgomery, dite loro di raggiungerci.
- Sì, signore. – annuì il cavaliere, partendo subito al galoppo. Indietreggiando lievemente, Jesse rimase ad osservare la scena mentre Blaine si chinava sul ragazzo, controllando che stesse bene per porgergli la mano, e Finn faceva lo stesso con la ragazza, sostenendola da sotto le ascelle per aiutarla a risollevarsi in piedi.
- Cosa è successo qui? – chiese il principe, rivolgendosi al ragazzo, ma prima che questi potesse rispondergli la ragazza scoppiò a piangere, e tenendosi la testa fra le mani cominciò a lamentarsi.
- Brucia… brucia tutto… - mugolò insensatamente, gli occhi fissi nel vuoto ma pieni di lacrime, - È tutto bruciato… - singhiozzò un’ultima volta, prima di svenire fra le braccia di Finn, che dovette faticare non poco per prenderla al volo e caricarsela in braccio.
Il ragazzo le fu subito accanto, accarezzandole brevemente il volto e il collo per verificare che fosse ancora viva, prima di rivolgersi al principe.
- Voi siete la giovane maestà di Westerville, è così? – domandò. Blaine annuì. – Non sappiamo esattamente cosa è successo. – proseguì il ragazzo, - Mi chiamo Jeremiah. Io e mia sorella Quinn eravamo nella nostra tenda, quando è scoppiato l’incendio. Ci siamo salvati per miracolo. – raccontò, la voce tremante e incerta. – Non è rimasto niente.
Proprio in quel momento, giunsero finalmente i tre lord del Consiglio della Dalton. Mentre Finn risaliva a cavallo, portando con sé la giovane, Jesse si voltò verso di loro per interrogarli.
- Superstiti? – chiese, il tono di chi sa già cosa aspettarsi in risposta.
- Nessuno. – disse infatti Lord Harwood, scuotendo il capo, - Solo cadaveri carbonizzati.
Jeremiah abbassò lo sguardo, stringendo i pugni lungo i fianchi. Blaine lo notò, ed allungò una mano a sfiorare quel pugno così serrato, che al solo percepire quel lieve tocco sembrò sciogliersi appena.
- Venite con noi. – disse il principe con un sorriso, - Avete bisogno di cure, e non potete restare qui. Vostra sorella andrà col mio fidato amico, il giovane primogenito del signore di queste terre. Voi, invece, salirete a cavallo con me.
Il ragazzo sorrise ed annuì, ringraziando a bassa voce. Blaine risalì in sella, ed aspettò che il giovane indiano l’avesse raggiunto, prima di dare l’ordine di lasciar perdere l’idea di accamparsi lì per la notte e fare immediatamente ritorno a Lima.
Nel folto della foresta, in una baracca di legno apparentemente abbandonata, una donna restava seduta sulla propria sedia a dondolo, in attesa, alzandosi solo ogni tanto per controllare lo stato dell’intruglio che stava cuocendo in un enorme calderone in un angolo della stanza.
Si alzò di scatto, repentinamente, quando un giovane folletto biondo con un paio di occhiali tondi sul naso saltò sul davanzale della finestra, ridacchiando entusiasta.
- Ah, sei tu, Becky. – disse la strega, rilassandosi. – È andato tutto bene?
- Tutto come avevate previsto. – annuì il folletto, scuotendo il caschetto biondo in un’altra risatina divertita.
Avvolta nel suo mantello di acetato rosso, la strega tornò a sedersi, e sorrise.
Santana e Brittany lo trovarono in lacrime. Le vesti scomposte, il volto arrossato, piegato su se stesso come certi fiori che chinano il capo per meglio sopportare il peso delle nevicate in inverno, Kurt piangeva ad alta voce, inconsolabile, esprimendosi solo in mugolii e gemiti privi del benché minimo senso.
- Mio Dio. – esalò Santana, sconvolta da una tale visione, - Signorino Kurt, cosa vi è successo?
Non era inusuale cogliere il giovane in atteggiamenti drammatici o esageratamente disperati, a volte anche per delle facezie, ma di certo era una novità che il ragazzo si permettesse di dare sfogo a tanto dolore in maniera così sguaiata e priva di pudore, come se ormai non gl’importasse più di mantenere la compostezza.
- Vi sentite male? – domandò Brittany, sedendosi sulla sponda del letto e accarezzandogli i capelli, - Avete le vostre cose?
- Brittany! – sbottò Santana, sollevando gli occhi al cielo, - È un maschio!
- Perché, loro non ce le hanno? – domandò la ragazza, spostandole addosso un paio d’occhi smarriti e vuoti mentre Santana sospirava profondamente, scuoteva il capo e poi si sedeva accanto a Kurt, dall’altro lato del letto, prendendo a propria volta ad accarezzargli i capelli, la nuca, le spalle e la schiena.
- Signorino Kurt, coraggio, - disse dolcemente, cullandolo con la propria voce bassa e quell’accento ispanico che più volte Kurt aveva detto di trovare delizioso, - dite alla vostra Tana cos’è successo. Vi sentite male?
Kurt sollevò lo sguardo. Aveva gli occhi arrossati e continuava a piangere, grosse lacrime scendevano rotolando lungo le sue guance piene come goccioloni di pioggia.
- È… è tutto perduto. – mugolò, abbattendosi nuovamente sul materasso e nascondendo il volto sugli avambracci.
- Oh, per la miseria, signorino Kurt! – borbottò Santana, battendo qualche pacca d’incoraggiamento sulle spalle del ragazzo, ora scosse da singhiozzi perfino più violenti, - Cosa può mai essere successo?
- La mia purezza… - si lamentò Kurt, la voce ridotta a un fiato sottilissimo, - è ormai perduta, non sono più degno di vivere in questa casa. Prenderò i voti, mi trasferirò in un monastero e lì vivrò nell’ascesi e nella privazione finché i miei peccati non saranno mondati.
Le due dame si lanciarono un’occhiata incerta, e poi Brittany si chinò nuovamente sul proprio padroncino, riprovando a consolarlo.
- Signorino Kurt, perché dovreste voler vivere nell’ascesso? È doloroso e secerne liquido puzzolente. – disse con una mezza smorfia.
- Britt, sta’ zitta. – tagliò corto Santana, per poi afferrare delicatamente Kurt per le spalle e rimetterlo dritto, - Signorino Kurt, qualsiasi cosa possa essere successo, sono sicura che potremo trovare una soluzione adeguata per risolvere il problema. Dovete soltanto confidarvi.
- Giammai! – strillò istericamente Kurt, coprendosi il volto con le mani, giacché Santana, tenendolo ben saldo per le spalle, gli impediva di accasciarsi nuovamente fra le lenzuola e lì restare fino a morire di consunzione, - No, Santana, no! – insistette, - Porterò il mio orribile segreto nella tomba, coi resti delle mie mortali spoglie. Mai nessuno saprà a quale disonore ho costretto questa famiglia, mai nessuno vedrà quanto orribile il mio peccato sia stato. Morirò impuro, e nessuno saprà mai perché. – concluse, lanciando una teatrale occhiata di disperazione a Pavarotti, rinchiuso nella sua gabbietta, che approfittò di quel primo momento di silenzio per accennare un paio di note del proprio canto. Al solo sentirle, Kurt si sciolse nuovamente in singhiozzi, perfino più rumorosi e violenti di prima, e il povero uccellino tornò a lisciarsi le penne in silenzio.
Santana e Brittany si guardarono dubbiose un’altra volta, ma quando la bionda aprì la bocca per parlare Santana le impedì di farlo, parlando a propria volta.
- Signorino Kurt, ascoltatemi. – disse con tono soave e materno, sorridendo dolcemente un attimo prima che tutti i suoi lineamenti mutassero, rendendola improvvisamente più simile a un demone infernale che all’angelica dama di compagnia che era stata fino a pochi secondi prima, - Adesso basta piagnucolare, siete isterico e ridicolo. – lo rimproverò, schiaffeggiandolo violentemente e mandandolo a rovesciarsi sul letto mentre Brittany, strillando spaventata, lo prendeva per le spalle. – Madre de Dios, siete una piaga! – lo rimproverò, mentre Kurt, stretto fra le braccia di Brittany, la fissava con occhi enormi carichi di sconcerto, - Adesso voi vi mettete in piedi, vi ripulite, vi risistemate e poi andate a trovare vostro padre, e discutete con lui di qualsiasi sia questo problema che vi affligge. Se sarà sua opinione che dobbiate trascorrere la vostra intera vita in convento, io per prima mi occuperò di cucirvi un saio che esalti le vostre forme, e vorrò io stessa a chiudervi nella vostra cella a doppia mandata per poi gettare via la chiave. Ma se invece vostro padre riterrà questo problema una sciocchezza, o comunque qualcosa di risolvibile senza avviarvi verso l’abito talare… - concluse con aria minacciosa, assottigliando i grandi occhi scuri e tendendo le labbra rosse e piene in una smorfia terrificante, - non voglio più sentirvi parlare di convento ed altre simili sciocchezze. Mai più!
- S-Santana! – provò a richiamarla Kurt in un balbettio sconvolto, ma la donna non gli permise di farlo.
- Shush! – sbuffò interrompendolo, - Basa storie, basta lagne da bambino viziato, basta lacrime, soprattutto. – stabilì, alzandosi in piedi e poi afferrandolo per entrambe le mani per tirarlo su di peso, un attimo prima di tornare a sorridergli conciliante. – Forza, vi aiuto a rimettervi in sesto.
Pur controvoglia, Kurt abbassò lo sguardo ed annuì, troppo esausto dalle lunghe ore di pianto per insistere e farsi lasciare in pace. Seguì Santana fino alla toeletta, sedendosi sullo sgabello imbottito e lasciando che fossero lei e Brittany a prendersi cura di lui, sciacquargli il viso, coprire l’innaturale rossore delle guance con un po’ di cipria per lasciare che trasparisse solo quel lieve colorito rosato più accentuato sulle gote che contribuiva a dargli quell’aria da ragazzina che tutti amavano tanto, e poi rimetterlo perfino in piedi, dopo averlo aiutato a cambiarsi d’abito, indossando qualcosa di più leggero per evitare che il calore di quell’afosa giornata di primavera lo innervosisse troppo, impedendogli di rilassarsi.
Il dolore alla caviglia, notò Kurt mentre, lentamente, scendeva le scale per andare a trovare suo padre in quello che lui per primo si fregiava di chiamare “il suo laboratorio segreto” – non senza un certo divertimento – era quasi del tutto passato, non ne rimaneva che un’eco lievissima che lo infastidiva, sì, ma non tanto per il dolore in sé, quanto più perché ogni volta che sentiva pizzicare una lieve fitta da qualche parte attorno all’attaccatura del piede non poteva fare a meno di ripensare allo stalliere di sua maestà, alle mani grandi e forti che l’avevano rivestito, alla voce che, con preoccupata fermezza, l’aveva tanto rimproverato, e alle sue labbra calde e asciutte premute contro le proprie.
Arrossì improvvisamente, e quando se ne accorse scosse il capo con decisione, strizzando gli occhi, nel tentativo di liberare la mente da quei pensieri molesti. Dopo aver parlato con suo padre, sarebbe corso immediatamente in camera propria, e lì, sul davanzale della finestra, si sarebbe seduto, e sarebbe rimasto immobile a leggere una delle storie che tanto gli piacevano, in cui principi affascinanti e coraggiosi salvavano principesse tristi e bellissime dal loro infausto destino. Pavarotti avrebbe cantato in sottofondo e il suo pensiero sarebbe immediatamente corso al principe Blaine, intento a perlustrare il limitare della Foresta Nera assieme al suo seguito, e tutto sarebbe stato di nuovo semplice e bello.
Suo padre era, come al solito in quei pomeriggi in cui era privo di incombenze ufficiali e poteva dedicarsi solo a se stesso e al proprio piacere, sepolto per più di metà sotto uno dei suoi complessi macchinari sempre sporchi e borbottanti. Sdraiato su una piattaforma su un lato della quale aveva montato quattro piccole rotelle, in modo che fungesse da carrello e potesse aiutarlo a muoversi più agevolmente anche quando era disteso sulla schiena, stava nascosto fin quasi alla vita, al punto che di lui si vedeva solo la parte di corpo dalla cintola in giù. Stava martellando qualcosa con una certa veemenza, e da qualche parte un qualche marchingegno a vapore stava sbuffando come una teiera pronta ad esplodere, e a causa di tutto questo trambusto inizialmente neanche riuscì a sentire la voce di Kurt che, sottilissima, lo chiamava.
- Padre! – disse quindi Kurt, spazientito, irrigidendo le braccia lungo i fianchi e picchiettando per terra con un tacco, - Venite fuori di lì, una buona volta!
- Cosa? – biascicò Burt, scivolando sul suo carrellino fino a mostrarsi completamente agli occhi del figlio. Indossava un’ampia casacca da lavoro sdrucita e sporca d’olio, e due enormi guanti di pelle rovinati sulle dita che sembravano ingolfarlo nei movimenti, più che aiutarlo a compierli. Reggeva un martello in una mano ed un paio di bulloni nell’altra, e stringeva tra i denti una chiave inglese come un corsaro avrebbe fatto col proprio fido coltello durante un assalto a una nave mercantile. La restante metà del suo viso era coperta da un paio di occhiali giganteschi sui quali erano montati, al posto di lenti normali, due spesse lenti d’ingrandimento che rendevano i suoi occhi innaturalmente grandi e infantili. Si sfilò la chiave inglese dalle labbra, allungando un piede a tirare un calcio ad una leva che, spostandosi, zittì il marchingegno che produceva quell’orribile rumore di vapore che sfiata, riportando finalmente il silenzio nell’officina. – Kurt? Che succede?
Il ragazzo emise un sospiro rassegnato, afferrando uno sgabello basso da un angolo della stanza e trascinandolo vicino al carrello del padre, mentre questi si sollevava a sedere, e poi si sedette a propria volta, piegando le lunghe gambe e risistemandosi la gonna sulle ginocchia prima di parlare.
- Padre, - cominciò malinconicamente, - io… voi sapete che io non potrei mai continuare a vivere, se sapessi di essere una delusione, per voi.
- Una delusione? Per me? – sbottò Burt, incredulo, sistemandosi gli occhiali sul naso, - Kurt, ma cosa mai ti salta in mente? Sai bene di essere il mio vanto e la mia gioia! Mai nessun padre fu più fortunato di me ad avere un figlio devoto e bello come te!
- Sì, ma… - insistette Kurt, risollevando lo sguardo, - …potreste togliervi dalla faccia quella roba?! – strillò, incrociando le braccia sul petto, - Siete ridicolo, non riesco nemmeno a guardarvi! – Burt rise, sfilandosi gli occhiali dal naso mentre Kurt sospirava ancora, scuotendo il capo. – Quello che intendo dire, - riprese il ragazzo, incurvando le spalle e tornando a fissare il pavimento, incapace di sostenere il benevolo sguardo paterno, - è che voi mi avete sempre detto che sarei riuscito ad essere felice solo quando un principe avesse chiesto la mia mano, portandomi con sé nel suo castello e costruendo con me una famiglia… ed io… io ci ho sempre creduto, ed ero felice di crederci, ma ora mi chiedo, padre, se io non riuscissi a portare a termine questa missione, vi deluderei? – disse tutto in un fiato, chiudendo gli occhi come in attesa della propria meritata punizione.
Burt lo fissò accigliato per qualche secondo, le labbra dischiuse, come non riuscisse bene a decidersi su cosa fosse opportuno dirgli.
- Kurt, - cominciò poi, con tono paziente, - qualunque cosa io ti abbia detto per indirizzarti verso una certa strada, l’ho fatta perché credevo fosse quella giusta per te, non certo per mio tornaconto personale.
- Lo so, padre! – si affrettò a precisare Kurt, sollevando repentinamente lo sguardo, ferito in prima persona dal fraintendimento, - Non ho mai pensato che voleste niente di meno che il mio bene!
- E dunque, - riprese Burt, - perché parli della tua vita come di una missione? Non ti ho mai chiesto di diventare un principe consorte perché quella doveva essere la tua missione. Sono solo convinto che tu sia tanto meraviglioso da meritare il meglio, e dunque cosa può esistere di meglio di un principe, della Capitale, della corona?
Già, si disse Kurt, tornando a guardare il pavimento e sentendo le lacrime pungere sotto le ciglia, cosa poteva esserci di meglio?
- Ma se io non riuscissi a sposare il principe Blaine, o comunque un principe… - insistette, la voce ridotta nuovamente a un rantolo prossimo a rompersi in singhiozzi, - voi sareste deluso da me, padre? Smettereste di amarmi?
Burt rise appena, quasi intenerito da quella domanda.
- Non ti ho mai sentito dire così tante sciocchezze tutte assieme, Kurt. – lo rassicurò, sporgendosi ad accarezzargli una guancia. I guanti che ancora indossava erano ruvidi ed unti, ma Kurt non se ne sentì infastidito mentre un minuscolo sorriso nasceva anche sulle sue labbra. – Sarò felice chiunque sia la persona che tu deciderai di sposare, tesoro mio. Sarò felice anche se deciderai di non sposare nessuno, anzi, forse allora sarò perfino più felice, perché vorrà dire che potrò tenerti per sempre con me. – rise appena, allungandosi a stringerlo per le spalle per tirarselo contro ed abbracciarlo con calore. – Ed ora basta cupi pensieri, figlio mio. – proseguì, allontanandosi abbastanza perché Kurt potesse vederlo sorridere incoraggiante, - Torna in camera tua e riposa. Nella serata di domani, i nostri ospiti saranno di ritorno, e si dovrà provvedere a sollevarli dalla loro stanchezza. Canterai per noi, vero, figliolo? Canterai per me?
Kurt annuì, sorridendo fiducioso.
- Sì, padre. – promise stringendogli una mano, prima di alzarsi in piedi. – Cercate di non farvi male mentre lavorate a questo… questo coso. – si raccomandò, indicando il macchinario con un vago cenno del capo. Suo padre rise divertito, tornando a stendersi sul proprio carrello per poi scomparire sotto la macchina subito dopo. Kurt inspirò a pieni polmoni l’aria pura della primavera, uscendo nuovamente in cortile. Col peso che l’aveva oppresso ormai sollevato dal petto, perfino respirare era più facile e piacevole.
Attraversò il piazzale con un sorriso sempre più grande sulle labbra, accennando perfino qualche passo di danza quando fu sicuro che nessuno avrebbe potuto vederlo, ma tutta l’ilarità e la leggerezza di spirito che aveva sentito si dissolsero in un baleno quando i suoi occhi, scivolando distrattamente sulla stalla, scorsero attraverso l’uscio aperto la figura di Dave, intento a strigliare i cavalli e prepararli per la notte.
Poteva ignorarlo quanto voleva, ma il problema sarebbe rimasto. E, se non fosse stato capace di affrontarlo di petto, si sarebbe ripresentato, e forse sarebbe addirittura peggiorato. Doveva parlare con quell’uomo, capire per quale motivo il suo comportamento fosse così lunatico, capire cosa gli fosse passato per la testa quando l’aveva baciato. Soprattutto, doveva capire se il lieve calore che sentiva al bassoventre ogni volta che ripensava alle sue mani, alle sue labbra, al petto forte al quale si era appoggiato tornando verso la villa a cavallo con lui, era davvero provocato dalla sua presenza, o se per caso era possibile imputarlo a qualche sciocco colpo di calore, o qualche altra irrilevante ragione.
Entrò cercando di non fare rumore, guardandosi intorno con aria circospetta. Dave, nonostante tutte le sue precauzioni, lo notò subito.
- Credevo che non voleste più vedermi. – disse, senza sollevare gli occhi da Sarpedonte, e Kurt si mosse a disagio, spostando il peso del corpo da un piede all’altro per non pesare troppo sulla caviglia che, adesso che si trovava di nuovo vicino a lui, aveva ripreso a dolere, come se quell’uomo avesse il potere di gestire non solo i suoi stati d’animo, ma perfino le sue sensazioni fisiche.
- Lo credevo anch’io. – ammise, deglutendo forzatamente, - Ero molto scosso.
- Vi ho già detto che mi dispiace. – replicò Dave, aggrottando le sopracciglia con un certo fastidio.
- Sì, lo so. – cercò di sorridere Kurt, stringendosi nelle spalle, - Non è per questo che sono qui.
Dave sospirò, mettendo via la pezza bagnata con la quale stava ripulendo Sarpedonte e avvicinandoglisi di qualche passo. L’espressione sul suo viso era addolorata, quasi contrita, ed al solo vederla a Kurt sembrò di sentire una tenaglia chiuderglisi di scatto sul cuore. Non aveva mai provato una sensazione simile.
- …la vostra vista mi è insopportabile. – gemette Dave, irrigidendo le braccia lungo i fianchi, quasi temesse di poterne perdere il controllo. Kurt si morse un labbro, ferito da quelle parole così aspre.
- Io non vi capisco, signore. – disse in un sussurro, gli occhi che si riempivano velocemente di lacrime, - Perché siete così crudele con me? Non vi capisco proprio.
- Non è necessario che voi capiate. – ribatté Dave, distogliendo lo sguardo, - Vi prego, ditemi perché siete venuto, e poi andate via.
- Non posso! – insistette Kurt, andandogli incontro e cercando i suoi occhi coi propri, - Se sono venuto qui è proprio per capire! Non posso andarmene finché non mi sarà tutto chiaro.
- Be’, allora temo di dovervi dare una delusione, - rispose Dave, - non posso chiarirvi niente, se non c’è niente che sia chiaro a me per primo.
- Voi state mentendo. – sbottò Kurt, continuando a inseguire i suoi occhi sfuggenti, - Perché mi avete baciato?
- Lasciatemi in pace! – strillò lo stalliere, voltandogli le spalle.
- No! – continuò Kurt, girandogli attorno ed afferrandogli i polsi con entrambe le mani, - Perché mi avete baciato, per zittirmi? Per umiliarmi? Per— non lo so, per macchiare il mio onore, di modo che non potessi più avvicinarmi a sua maestà, né tantomeno coltivare la speranza di poterlo un giorno sposare?
- Oh, buon Dio! – esalò Dave, cercando di liberarsi dalla stretta delle sue mani scrollando violentemente i polsi, senza però ottenere i risultati sperati, - Non mi interessa niente della vostra storia col principe Blaine! Per quel che mi riguarda, potete sposarlo e andare a vivere con lui dove vorrete!
- E allora perché?! – ripeté Kurt, spalancando gli occhi, - Perché avreste dovuto farlo, se vi disgusto così tanto?! Se neanche riuscite a tollerare la mia vista, tale è il ribrezzo che vi provoco?! Perché?!
Dave trattenne il respiro così a lungo da diventare rosso in viso, e Kurt ebbe la chiara impressione che stesse contando fino a dieci per provare ad impedirsi di fare qualcosa di cui si sarebbe certamente pentito.
Contare non dovette essere sufficiente, però, perché alla fine Dave si sporse in avanti e, dopo essersi liberato della prigione delle sue mani con un altro strattone, lo afferrò per le spalle, tenendolo fermo mentre si chinava su di lui e copriva nuovamente le sue labbra con le proprie, stavolta senza fermarsi al solo contatto delle labbra.
Kurt gemette, stupito dalla sensazione umida della lingua dello stalliere che s’insinuava fra le sue labbra alla ricerca della sua, e spalancò gli occhi, incapace di porre un freno a quanto stava accadendo e lasciandosi condurre da Dave quando lui lo sospinse verso la parete in legno della stalla, per allontanarsi dallo spicchio di luce che la porta aperta proiettava all’interno dell’edificio.
Il buio sembrò accoglierli in un abbraccio confortante, e solo quando gli parve di non riuscire più a riconoscere i contorni delle cose Kurt si concesse di rilassarsi, sciogliersi fra le braccia dell’uomo che lo stringeva e piegare appena il capo, schiudendo le labbra con più sicurezza mentre la lingua di Dave accarezzava la sua e le sue mani scivolavano lungo le sue braccia, fermandosi sui suoi fianchi e stringendoli con forza fra le dita.
Kurt gemette ancora, e quel flebile suono sembrò come dar fuoco ad una miccia. Dave si spinse repentinamente in avanti, schiacciando il proprio bacino contro il suo, e Kurt spalancò gli occhi nel percepire distintamente qualcosa di rigido premuto contro l’interno della coscia. Mugolò e si dibatté, cercando di allontanare lo stalliere, ma lui non gli diede tregua, serrando con più forza le labbra sulle sue e le mani attorno alla sua vita, ma rallentando il ritmo delle carezze della propria lingua e sfiorandogli a tratti i fianchi con i polpastrelli callosi dei pollici, approfittando dei centimetri di pelle lasciati scoperti dalla casacca il cui orlo, con tutto quel dimenarsi e quello strattonarsi, era uscito dalla fascia legata in vita.
Kurt smise di agitarsi, placato da quei gesti così dolci e lenti, e tornò a chiudere le palpebre, riprendendo a baciare Dave con dolcezza mentre le sue mani, quasi sospinte dal vento o da una forza soprannaturale, risalivano lungo le sue braccia forti, fermandosi sulle spalle ampie sotto la pelle delle quali Kurt, accennando una pressione appena percettibile con le punte delle dita, riusciva a sentire tutti i muscoli piegarsi e tendersi ad ogni movimento.
Si allontanò da lui per riprendere fiato solo quando Dave gliene concesse la possibilità, ed in realtà già un paio di secondi dopo avrebbe voluto che Dave tornasse a farsi avanti, tale era il bisogno che le sue labbra sentivano di provare di nuovo quel calore, e tale era il bisogno che la sua lingua sentiva di assaggiare di nuovo il suo sapore. Era lì lì per metter via gli imbarazzi e le esitazioni, aveva già stretto con più vigore le braccia attorno al collo dell’altro uomo e stava per sollevarsi sulle punte dei piedi per raggiungere agevolmente le sue labbra una seconda volta, quando la voce di Sam, affannata e carica di fretta, spezzò il silenzio del tramonto ormai quasi del tutto tramutatosi in sera.
- Il principe! – annunciò, correndo a perdifiato per tutto il cortile, mentre le galline chiocciavano e frullavano le ali spaventate attorno ai suoi piedi scalzi, spostandosi goffamente nel tentativo di sfuggire alla sua travolgente furia, - Il principe è di ritorno! E porta con sé due nuovi ospiti!
Quel trambusto fu sufficiente per rompere l’incantesimo. Dave si ritrasse con la fretta di una bestia ferita, e Kurt, spaventato da quei movimenti così repentini e imbarazzato oltre ogni limite, si rannicchiò il più possibile contro al muro, pregando di riuscire a sparire nel buio.
Il principe era di ritorno. E lui aveva appena baciato volontariamente un altro uomo.
Il principe Blaine sembrava preso in faccende ben più importanti di lui, e pertanto si limitò a salutarlo educatamente ma un po’ freddamente, un attimo prima di chiamare a gran voce suo padre, che accorse di fretta dall’officina nella quale era ancora rinchiuso, le braccia ancora sporche di grasso e olio fino ai gomiti.
- Principe Blaine! – lo salutò, vagamente inquieto, - Non vi aspettavamo prima di domani.
Blaine annuì, indicando la ragazza che Finn teneva stretta fra le braccia e si rifiutava di consegnare ai vari cavalieri che si offrivano di reggerla mentre lui scendeva da cavallo.
- Stavamo perlustrando il limitare della Foresta Nera, - raccontò, - quando ci siamo imbattuti in un villaggio indiano quasi interamente ridotto in cenere. Loro due, - disse, accennando nuovamente alla ragazza e poi allo splendido giovane che, fiero e dritto, era in piedi al suo fianco, - sono gli unici superstiti. Si chiamano Quinn e Jeremiah. So che disturbo già fin troppo fastidiosamente la vostra quiete anche da solo, - chiese con aria afflitta, - ma Burt, posso abusare ancora della vostra pazienza e chiedervi di ospitare anche questi due giovani, finché non si saranno rimessi e non sia stato possibile decidere del loro destino?
Burt lanciò un’occhiata perplessa ai due sconosciuti, ma non seppe resistere allo sguardo fiero ma provato del giovane, né all’espressione stanca e addolorata che la ragazza manteneva intatta nonostante fosse ancora svenuta, ed annuì.
- Se avete deciso di tenerli con voi, principe Blaine, io li tratterò con lo stesso riguardo con cui tratto la Vostra Maestà. – assicurò con un breve inchino. Blaine gli rivolse un sorriso colmo di gratitudine, stringendo le sue mani fra le proprie, incurante di quanto fossero sporche.
- Siete l’amico più caro che possiedo. – disse commosso, e si limitò ad un altro semplice cenno del capo in direzione di Kurt, passandogli davanti, quando Burt lo pregò di seguire Artie nel suo laboratorio, portando i due ospiti con sé, sperando che il medico potesse fare qualcosa per aiutarli.
In un qualsiasi altro momento, Kurt si sarebbe offeso per quella palese mancanza di attenzione, o si sarebbe preoccupato per ciò che un simile disinteresse avrebbe potuto implicare, ma in quel momento la distanza posta dal principe fra se stesso e lui non fece altro che rincuorarlo e farlo sentire protetto. Non gli interessava molto di tutto il trambusto che stava accadendo, e d’altronde era abbastanza certo che nessuna stupida strega si nascondesse nel folto di quella foresta talmente intricata e ricca di bestie feroci da rendere impossibile la vita per chiunque, e men che meno lo intrigava l’idea di avere altri nuovi ospiti alla villa, visto che quella di ospitare i viandanti era ormai una consuetudine, ma dopo quello che era successo nella stalla non sarebbe riuscito a reggere lo sguardo di sua maestà se fosse stato appassionato e ardente com’era stato prima della partenza, e perciò fu silenziosamente grato a quel cumulo di sciocchezze e leggende e casualità coinvolgenti villaggi indiani rasi al suolo da forze misteriose, perché permettevano alla mente ed al cuore del principe di intrattenersi abbastanza da non avere attenzione in più sufficiente da poterne dedicare anche a lui.
- Kurt? – lo chiamò suo padre, avvicinandosi a lui e guardandolo con una certa apprensione dopo aver osservato il proprio figlio maggiore scomparire assieme al seguito del principe alle spalle del medico della villa, - Figliolo, è tutto a posto? Sei incredibilmente pallido.
- Io… - mormorò lui in risposta, passandosi una mano sulla fronte e su una guancia, trovando la prima scottante e la seconda gelida in modo decisamente innaturale. Tutta la sua pelle era coperta da una sottile patina di sudore freddo, e si sentiva come stesse lì lì per svenire. - …no, credo di non sentirmi bene, padre. – deglutì, socchiudendo gli occhi.
Burt gli si avvicinò ulteriormente, sorreggendolo per le spalle.
- È successo forse qualcosa? – domandò con evidente preoccupazione, ma Kurt si affrettò a scuotere il capo, negando decisamente.
- Credo di essere solo un po’ stanco. – mentì, cercando di reggersi sulle proprie gambe, - Non vi offenderete, padre, se mi ritiro nelle mie stanze, per oggi, vero? – chiese con aria supplice, sollevando gli occhi umidi e arrossati nei suoi.
- Naturalmente no. – lo rassicurò Burt, abbracciandolo stretto per qualche secondo, - Vuoi che ti faccia portare la cena in camera, come al solito?
- No, vi prego. – scosse il capo Kurt, avviandosi verso il portico, - Date ordine di non disturbarmi. Preferisco riposare fino a domattina.
Non attese di vedere suo padre annuire a quella richiesta: sapeva già che la sua volontà sarebbe stata rispettata. Suo padre non lo aveva mai viziato troppo; anzi, se pure – potendosi permettere di trattarlo come una figlia – si era concesso di lasciargli passare qualche capriccio quando era ancora un bambino, non aveva mai perso di vista la sua vera natura, ed aveva pertanto sempre tenuto presente il fatto che, in quanto maschietto, necessitasse per essere educato di una dose di rigore molto maggiore di quella che si sarebbe riservata usualmente ad una femminuccia, per sua natura più incline ad obbedire agli ordini paterni. Ciononostante, pur essendo sempre stato un padre severo, era sempre stato anche un padre buono e giusto, premuroso e comprensivo quando non addirittura accondiscendente, e non aveva mai fatto mancare a Kurt niente di ciò di cui aveva bisogno, fosse del sostegno, del semplice affetto o anche la possibilità di mandare all’aria le etichette e quello che il suo ruolo avrebbe preteso da lui, per concedergli di prendersi un po’ di tempo per se stesso.
Entrando in camera propria ed abbandonandosi per qualche secondo di spalle contro la porta, Kurt inspirò ed espirò profondamente, ringraziando suo padre per essere com’era, dal momento che un altro padre probabilmente non gli avrebbe mai permesso di sparire prima di cena, senza neanche passare a salutare gli ospiti prima di andare a dormire, specialmente dal momento che si trattava di ospiti così importanti. Gli dispiaceva sapere perfettamente che suo padre avrebbe passato le prossime ore a scusarsi per la sua assenza inventando malori ben più gravi di un moto di stanchezza per giustificarla, e se gli fosse stato possibile l’avrebbe di certo sollevato da un’incombenza simile, ma la sola idea di vedere tutta quella gente ed incontrare anche solo per sbaglio lo sguardo del principe era per lui già troppo per poter essere tollerata.
Si scostò a fatica dalla porta, muovendosi verso il letto in un paio di passi zoppicanti. La caviglia faceva adesso perfino più male di quanto non avesse fatto quando era quasi caduto da cavallo – e solo il pensiero di quel momento bastò a riportare in superficie il calore delle braccia di Dave strette attorno al suo corpo, l’odore forte, così maschile e prepotente, che si emanava dal suo petto, e Kurt chiuse gli occhi, lasciandosi scivolare lentamente sul materasso.
Continuò a tenerli chiusi mentre il canto sottile e melodioso di Pavarotti si diffondeva nel silenzio perfetto della sua camera, e nonostante volesse con tutte le sue forze urlargli di stare zitto, di smetterla di ricordargli l’enormità del suo crimine annegando il suo cuore in un oceano di dolci rimpianti, non lo fece. Rimase immobile, e così com’era, in qualche minuto, si addormentò.
Aprì gli occhi nel silenzio della notte, non avrebbe saputo dire quante ore dopo. La luna era alta nel cielo, perfettamente inquadrata dalla cornice della sua finestra, bella come un dipinto. Pavarotti, tutto rannicchiato su se stesso, con la testolina rotonda incassata fra le ali e schiacciata contro il petto paffuto e morbido, riposava placidamente, come avrebbe voluto continuare a fare anche lui.
Mugolò insoddisfatto, cercando di capire cosa l’avesse svegliato. Aveva soltanto la sensazione di aver percepito qualcosa, un disturbo insistente e aritmico, che gli aveva impedito di continuare a dormire. Fu solo quando riuscì finalmente a mettere per bene a fuoco tutto l’ambiente che lo circondava che si rese conto che qualcuno stava bussando alla sua finestra. Il che era impossibile, a meno che chiunque stava bussando non fosse dotato di ali.
Si alzò lentamente, avvicinandosi al vetro un passo dopo l’altro, e gli saltò il cuore in gola quando vide che l’uomo in equilibrio sul suo davanzale altri non era che Dave.
- Oh, mio Dio! – esalò, portando entrambe le mani al viso in un gesto sconcertato, - Ma cosa ci fate lì?!
- Aprite! – disse Dave, la voce attutita dallo spessore del vetro, continuando a bussare piano.
- Oh, cielo! – continuò a sospirare lui, confuso e improvvisamente accaldato, - Oh, per carità, ma cosa vi è saltato in testa?! Avreste potuto cadere di sotto e morire! – sfilò il ferro e spalancò le imposte, allungandosi ad afferrare immediatamente l’uomo per le spalle perché non perdesse l’equilibrio, e premurandosi di trascinarlo all’interno della stanza il più in fretta possibile. – Voi siete pazzo! – aggiunse per sovrapprezzo quando Dave fu al sicuro, seduto sul pavimento di camera sua, col fiatone e lo sguardo perso di chi in prima persona non si capacita di cosa sia riuscito a fare.
- Voi… voi mi dovete una spiegazione. – disse quindi l’uomo, ritrovando una parvenza di compostezza ed alzandosi in piedi per fronteggiare Kurt da una posizione più favorevole. Gli puntò un dito contro, mentre Pavarotti, disturbato dal chiacchiericcio, sollevava il capino piumato, guardandosi intorno con aria smarrita. – Cosa è successo in quella stalla?
Kurt spalancò gli occhi, sconvolto.
- Cosa?! – quasi strillò, ricordando solo in ritardo di dover stare attento al volume della propria voce, - Voi mi avete baciato! – aggiunse in un sibilo astioso, piantandogli un indice nel mezzo del petto e spingendolo ad indietreggiare verso la porta, - Questo è successo!
- Nossignore. – ribatté Dave, afferrandogli la mano e togliendosela di dosso per ricominciare a incombere su di lui, costringendolo ad indietreggiare come Kurt aveva appena fatto nei suoi confronti, - Io vi ho baciato, d’accordo, ma non è quello il punto!
- Ah, davvero? – sbottò Kurt, cercando di liberarsi della sua stretta senza però riuscirci, mentre Pavarotti cinguettava incerto alle loro spalle, - E quale sarebbe il punto?
- Che voi avete ricambiato il bacio! – rispose Dave con ovvietà, lasciandolo andare, infastidito dal suo continuo dimenarsi, ed allargando le braccia ai lati del corpo in un gesto per metà rassegnato e per metà semplicemente sbigottito dalla sua ottusità.
- Un tragico errore. – esalò Kurt, cupo, portando una mano alla fronte e distogliendo lo sguardo, - Che mi premurerò di non ripetere mai più!
- Ah. – sibilò Dave, irritato, irrigidendo le braccia lungo i fianchi, - Non sembravate di quest’opinione, mentre gemevate fra le mie braccia.
- Io non gemevo affatto! – strillò il ragazzo, indietreggiando oltraggiato ed arrossendo vistosamente, - Sono tutte menzogne!
- Oh, no, non lo sono per niente! – insistette Dave, avanzando verso di lui. Kurt gli girò attorno, consapevole di essersi avvicinato troppo alla finestra, e Dave si voltò immediatamente a cercare i suoi occhi, le sopracciglia corrugate e tutti i lineamenti del volto tesi in uno spasmo nervoso. – Ebbene?
- Voi siete pazzo. – ribadì Kurt, serio e freddo, - Non ho idea di cosa vi siate messo in testa, ma quello che è successo è stato un errore, ve l’ho detto e ve lo ripeto. E non dovrà mai più verificarsi.
- Nient’affatto, signorina. – disse, calcando il tono sull’ultima parola, mentre Kurt inorridiva, le guance che si arrossavano ancora più violentemente per la vergogna e l’offesa, - Bisogna essere in due per stabilire queste cose, e se permettete io non ho ancora detto la mia.
- Voi siete… siete un individuo gretto e meschino! – sbottò Kurt, indicandolo sgomento.
- Oh, non ricominciate, adesso. – sospirò Dave, sollevando uno sguardo supplice al soffitto.
- Ma è la verità! – ribadì il ragazzo, gli occhi pieni di lacrime, - Siete orribile e maleducato, e come osate entrare qui in camera mia, di notte, e darmi della signorina, e trattarmi come se fossi— come se fossi una donna di malaffare?! Se anche ci fosse stata per voi una minima speranza, signore, adesso non avete che da dimenticarmi, perché mai i miei occhi incroceranno un’altra volta i vostri, se non per disprezzarvi!
- Non potete prendermi in giro. – disse Dave a bassa voce, per niente spaventato dai suoi rimproveri, riducendo al minimo le distanze fra loro e stringendogli i polsi fra le mani per impedirgli di spingerlo lontano da sé, - Io ero qui, in questa stanza, quando vi ho baciato la prima volta. E voi eravate lì con me. Come prima, nella stalla.
- Voi siete pazzo. – piagnucolò un’altra volta Kurt, agitandosi per cercare di farsi lasciare, - Andatevene! Io vi odio, non ero da nessuna parte, né prima, né dopo! Vi odio, voi mi disgustate!
- Kurt. – lo chiamò Dave a bassa voce, - Ascoltami—
- No! – strillò il ragazzo, spalancando improvvisamente gli occhi e recuperando abbastanza forze per piantargli entrambe le mani contro il petto e spingerlo ad allontanarsi, - Non osate! Non osate darmi del tu! Voi non siete niente! – lo spinse violentemente, - Non siete nessuno! – lo spinse ancora, - Siete solo una macchia che non posso cancellare, ma terrò ben nascosta, e mi vergogno di esservi stato vicino abbastanza da permettervi di immaginare chissà che, ma state ben certo, - concluse, riprendendo a spingerlo con violenza sempre maggiore verso la finestra, - che una tale occasione non vi sarà data una seconda volta! Lasciatemi in pace! – e così dicendo, lo spinse per l’ultima volta.
Le gambe di Dave urtarono contro il basso davanzale della finestra, e Kurt lo osservò inciampare e sporgersi pericolosamente verso l’esterno mentre l’espressione del suo volto si tramutava istantaneamente da rabbiosa a sconcertata, ed allungò entrambe le braccia verso di lui, strillando “no!” e afferrandolo per il bavero del gilet che indossava. Dave si aggrappò a lui con tutte le proprie forze, cercando di recuperare l’equilibrio per non cadere di sotto, ma nel farlo urtò inavvertitamente la gabbietta di Pavarotti, con una tale spaventata violenza che i sottili fili che la tenevano legata al davanzale si strapparono; priva del suo sostegno, la gabbia oscillò sulla propria base e in un battito di ciglia precipitò di sotto, mentre Pavarotti strillava per l’ultima volta, prima di schiantarsi al suolo.
Dopo che la sua voce sottile si fu estinta per sempre, la notte piombò nuovamente nel silenzio più oscuro e pesante, interrotto soltanto dall’ansimare convulso e spaventato di Dave e Kurt che, ancora aggrappati l’uno all’altro, si fissavano negli occhi. Fu Kurt il primo a muoversi, lanciando un grido inorridito talmente forte da far tremare i vetri.
- Pavarotti! – strillò, strattonandosi via di dosso Dave per correre al davanzale e guardare giù, - Oh, mio Dio, no! No!
Dave si alzò subito in piedi, avvicinandoglisi, gli occhi pieni di paura.
- Kurt, non urlate! – cercò di fermarlo, tappandogli la bocca, ma Kurt si divincolò velocemente, allontanandosi da lui e rintanandosi in un angolo della stanza.
- Andate via! Via! – strillò, il volto inondato di lacrime. Dave tese un braccio verso di lui e provò ad avvicinarsi, ma la casa si stava già riempiendo delle luci delle lampade ad olio, e lo scalpiccio di parecchi passi era già in avvicinamento verso la porta chiusa, perciò, pur se a malincuore, scavalcò il davanzale e ridiscese giù per la grondaia lungo la quale era salito fin lì, perdendosi presto nei cespugli oltre la siepe.
Rachel scelse volontariamente di non farsi coinvolgere dal trambusto che percepì giungere dalla camera del signorino Kurt. Aveva osservato attentamente il comportamento del giovane signor Finn da quando era rientrato, portando con sé quella giovane sconosciuta, ed il vederlo così inspiegabilmente preso da lei non aveva potuto fare altro che turbarla. Non avrebbe potuto dire di sentirsene propriamente gelosa – d’altronde, non aveva mai creduto che la relazione fra lei e il signor Finn potesse continuare in eterno, non fosse altro che per l’appartenenza a due classi diverse, che li teneva lontani ben più di quanto potesse tollerare di ammettere lui, con tutte le sue romantiche idee di avventura e uguaglianza tirate fuori dai poemi che amava leggere a suo fratello – ma allo stesso tempo avrebbe voluto poter dire di non esserne toccata neanche in parte, e invece così non era.
Se ne sentiva disturbata, e non riusciva a capire perché. Se non era per amore, né per gelosia, perché? Forse per gli occhi coi quali Finn guardava quella ragazza, per la luce abbagliante che sembrava brillargli nelle pupille. Aveva mai guardato lei in quel modo? Con tanto vivo e bruciante interesse? Qualcuno l’avrebbe mai guardata così?
Non era forse la gelosia in senso stretto ad urtarla, no, ma una specie di gelosia in senso più ampio, quello forse sì. In ogni caso, non si sentiva della disposizione d’animo adatta per star dietro alle stramberie del signorino Kurt: le sue dame di compagnia non avrebbero avuto alcun problema a gestirlo come sempre facevano, e lei sarebbe rimasta esattamente dove si trovava, seduta sulla panchina di legno appena fuori dalle mura della villa, dalla quale si poteva osservare l’enorme campagna che la circondava e la lunga via commerciale che, da ovest ad est, tagliava in due il paesaggio, passando a pochi metri dal cancello e perdendosi all’orizzonte, oltre le curve dolcissime delle colline.
Fu lì che il principe Jesse la raggiunse, sedendosi al suo fianco proprio mentre lei lasciava scivolare il pensiero lungo una china pericolosa, accarezzando con affetto l’idea di potere, un giorno, imboccare quella strada per andare via da lì.
- Dovreste essere a letto. – lo avvertì, - Sarete stanco, dopo il lungo viaggio.
Il principe le sorrise, anche se lei non mostrò di averlo visto o di essere in alcun modo intenzionata a voltarsi verso di lui.
- La stessa cosa si potrebbe voler dire di voi, Rachel. – commentò, e poi lasciò andare un verso frustrato e infastidito, - Dobbiamo proprio continuare con questa farsa del voi? È così irritante.
Rachel sorrise a propria volta, cercando anzi di trattenere le risate. I modi del principe erano così poco regali, e lei non ricordava abbastanza, di Carmel, per poter dire se fosse normale o se fosse lui ad essere particolarmente rozzo, nonostante il sangue blu.
- Vi sarei grata se continuaste, maestà, sì. – annuì, - Gli usi di questa terra, come vi ho detto, lo impongono.
- Gli usi di questa terra, come ho già provato a farvi capire, - sorrise lui, facendole il verso, - non mi riguardano. E non dovrebbero riguardare neanche voi. – Rachel non rispose, continuando a fissare l’orizzonte, e il principe prese il suo silenzio come un invito a proseguire. – Non intendo restare qui molto a lungo. – disse, - Questo luogo non mi piace. Non che abbia qualcosa di male in sé, s’intende, - ridacchiò, - ma tutti i luoghi smettono di piacermi, dopo un po’ di tempo. Mi è successo anche con la mia città natale, è naturale che mi succeda adesso con questo villaggio. Non esercita su di me alcuna attrattiva, se non quella della missione per uccidere la strega. Ed intendo partire subito dopo averla portata a termine.
- E per andare dove, maestà? – domandò alfine lei, prendendo in giro un po’ lui, e un po’ anche se stessa, per aver osato pensare quella stessa cosa solo pochi istanti prima, - Quale sarebbe il punto della partenza, se voi stesso avete detto che tutti i luoghi finiscono con l’annoiarvi, dopo un po’? Pensate davvero che possa esistere un luogo nel mondo così diverso da tutti gli altri da non annoiarvi anche se decidete di trascorrere lì tutta la vostra intera esistenza?
Il principe Jesse sorrise, contento di avere attirato la sua attenzione abbastanza da costringerla a rispondere.
- Il mondo è abbastanza grande da permettermi di evitare di pormi interrogativi simili. – disse, - La vita di un uomo è ben più breve del tempo che occorre per visitarlo tutto in ogni sua parte. Ma io intendo comunque provarci. – Rachel distolse lo sguardo, aggrottando le sopracciglia, sentendosi inspiegabilmente infastidita e sconfitta. Jesse sorrise ancora, chinandosi su di lei. – Mi piacerebbe potervi portare con me, quando tutto sarà finito. – le sussurrò teneramente, lasciandole un lieve bacio su una guancia. Rachel si allontanò immediatamente, voltandosi a fissarlo quasi con paura, sorpresa da quell’improvviso contatto.
Ciò che vide negli occhi di quell’uomo, un istante prima che lui si voltasse per allontanarsi, rientrando nella villa, la turbò.
Bruciava. Brillava.
La chiamava.
Ma lei non aveva alcuna intenzione di starlo a sentire.
Se c’era una ed una sola cosa per la quale Kurt poteva dirsi contento, la mattina successiva, era la possibilità di nascondere il proprio volto dietro la veletta nera che aveva indossato prima di uscire dalla propria stanza, per presenziare al funerale del canarino. Era stato organizzato in fretta e furia, quindi non si sarebbe certo trattato di una cerimonia in grande stile, sicuramente non la cerimonia che il povero, innocente uccelletto avrebbe meritato, ma era tutto ciò che era stato possibile approntare per tempo, e Kurt non aveva intenzione di lamentarsi al riguardo.
Oltre il velo finemente ricamato che lo copriva fin sotto le labbra, il sole batteva impietoso, avvolgendolo interamente, attirato dai toni scuri della stoffa di cui il suo abito da lutto era composto. Era una veste accollata, abbottonata fino sotto al mento. Kurt soffriva incredibilmente il caldo, ma non si sarebbe sentito in grado di mostrare neanche un polso, in quel momento, tale era il cordoglio che provava. Indossava perfino i guanti, alti, fino a metà gomito, per evitare qualsiasi possibilità di mostrarsi meno che profondamente atterrito dalla propria perdita.
Pavarotti era stato un bravo canarino. Più di ogni altra cosa, però, era stato soprattutto una promessa. Non una promessa scritta, naturalmente, né una promessa di qualcosa di specifico, piuttosto la promessa di qualcosa che avrebbe potuto essere, un pensiero dolcissimo dal quale Kurt si era spesso lasciato accarezzare ascoltando il suo canto melodioso alla sera, prima di andare a dormire. Un pensiero che parlava di una vita futura felice, soddisfacente, ricca di amore, vissuta tra le eleganti stanze del palazzo reale, in compagnia del principe dei suoi sogni.
Per quanto sciocco potesse sembrare, aveva come l’impressione che, col canarino, fossero morte anche tutte le possibilità che aveva avuto di poter vivere felicemente per sempre col principe Blaine, a Westerville. Ed immaginava che questo brutto presagio fosse causato in parte anche dal fatto che, per quanto si ostinasse a cercare in giro fra tutti gli invitati che aveva in qualche modo costretto a presenziare al funerale, il principe non figurava.
- Sua maestà…? – domandò incerto, piegandosi appena verso Santana, immobile e stretta in un abito nero dalla foggia molto simile a quello che anche lui indossava, pur più spartano e privo di veletta. La ragazza mostrò qualche segno di insofferenza, sbuffando accaldata, prima di rispondergli.
- Vorrei non essere io a darvi questa notizia, - borbottò, - ma il principe non ha ritenuto fosse suo dovere presenziare al funerale. È a cavallo, signorino Kurt. Col giovane ospite che ha condotto con sé alla villa tornando dal suo breve viaggio ieri.
Kurt spalancò gli occhi, ritraendosi di scatto, come la donna avesse tentato di attaccarlo con un coltello. Una mano sul petto e l’altra rigida lungo il fianco, trattenne il respiro per un paio di secondi, prima di abbassare lo sguardo. Ecco che tutto si compiva, dunque, ecco che, morto Pavarotti, fin da subito il principe Blaine cominciava a disinteressarsi di lui. Doveva aver preso la morte del canarino come un’offesa personale, doveva aver creduto che l’uccello fosse morto perché lui non se n’era preso abbastanza cura, e questo doveva averlo convinto della sua assoluta inaffidabilità in quanto uomo, in quanto donna ed anche in quanto qualsiasi cosa stesse in mezzo alle due condizioni. Non avrebbe mai più voluto vederlo, e Kurt non avrebbe mai più avuto la possibilità di scrutare nelle profondità dei suoi occhi scuri e vedere brillare quella scintilla d’ammirazione, interesse e rispetto che sembrava già così lontana da assomigliare a un sogno.
Istintivamente, seguendo l’impulso inconscio che sempre l’aveva guidato verso suo fratello nei momenti di maggiore sconforto, allungò un braccio alla propria sinistra, cercando la mano di Finn da stringere. Non trovò niente, comunque. Non c’era nessuno, al suo fianco. Sospirando pesantemente, dopo aver ricordato che anche di suo fratello non aveva visto nemmeno l’ombra dalla sera precedente, si chinò un’altra volta verso Santana.
- E mio fratello? – bisbigliò fra i denti, irritato. Santana si inumidì le labbra, apparentemente molto innervosita dalla situazione in generale e dalle sue domande in particolare.
- A cavallo anche lui, signorino Kurt. – spiegò, - Con la giovane che lo accompagnava ieri.
Kurt aggrottò le sopracciglia, deluso e infastidito. Il sole era bollente, l’aria immobile, e la litania con la quale il prete del villaggio – coinvolto controvoglia in quella pantomima – stava accompagnando la sepoltura di Pavarotti suonava sempre più irritante, minuto dopo minuto.
Non poté che salutare con un sospiro sollevato la fine della funzione. Scivolò accanto alla montagnola di terriccio smosso che custodiva la piccola scatola di legno decorato all’interno della quale Pavarotti era stato sepolto, e vi lasciò cadere sopra il fiore bianco che teneva fra le dita, concedendosi un ultimo pensiero per la tragica fine incontro alla quale l’uccelletto era andato, prima di abbandonare il quadrato di terra circondato da cespugli all’interno del quale la funzione aveva avuto luogo.
Attraversò il cortile deserto, chiedendosi se sarebbe stato troppo sconveniente sbottonare almeno il colletto dell’abito, dal momento che più i secondi passavano più lui se ne sentiva soffocato, ma si risolse a mantenere la propria compostezza quando sentì risuonare una risata cristallina proveniente dai prati poco oltre il cancello della villa. Seguì quel suono, oltrepassando l’entrata e guardandosi intorno con circospezione, e si sentì quasi perso quando individuò il principe Blaine e suo fratello così presi a chiacchierare e cavalcare coi loro due ospiti da non accorgersi nemmeno di lui. Due uomini che, avrebbe potuto giurarlo, sarebbero riusciti ad individuarlo al primo colpo anche in una folla di migliaia di persone, due uomini che si erano sempre accorti della sua presenza anche solo dal suo profumo appena percettibile nell’aria, due uomini che avevano sempre messo da parte tutto il resto – Finn per tutta la propria vita, il principe da meno tempo, ma sicuramente non con meno intensità – per dedicarsi completamente a lui, ora sembravano averlo del tutto dimenticato.
Il principe Blaine sorrideva sereno e perso, guardando il giovane col quale era intento a cavalcare come non esistesse niente di altrettanto bello in tutto il mondo. Uno sguardo che Kurt poteva riconoscere con facilità, avendolo sentito addosso spesso prima che il principe partisse per la breve spedizione che l’aveva portato ai confini della Foresta Nera, e dalla quale era tornato con quel ragazzo. E Finn, Finn continuava a trattare quella ragazza bionda dai lineamenti angelici come fosse il tesoro più fragile e prezioso che avesse mai posseduto. Esattamente come usava trattare Kurt prima di incontrarla.
Li spiò a lungo, osservandoli ridere e scherzare in sella ai loro cavalli, e più i minuti passavano più percepiva qualcosa di oscuro e malvagio nascergli nel petto, e ingrandirsi fino ad inglobarlo tutto. Gelosia, tradimento, odio, fastidio. Digrignò i denti, distogliendo lo sguardo dallo spettacolo idilliaco che lo stava ormai nauseando, e voltò loro le spalle, ritornando verso il centro del cortile.
Non sapeva cosa fare. Per qualche motivo, in quel momento qualsiasi luogo sembrava inospitale, triste, doloroso. La propria camera, l’officina di suo padre, i giardini, le stalle, il lago poco oltre le mura, perfino quello stesso cortile in cui si trovava. Avrebbe voluto essere lontano da lì, a chilometri e chilometri di distanza. Solo e libero di continuare a sentirsi così disgustato da se stesso e da tutto il resto senza per questo dover sentire il pungiglione velenoso del senso di colpa conficcarsi dentro di lui con forza ogni volta che rivolgeva pensieri carichi d’odio al principe Blaine o a suo fratello.
Avrebbe preferito non dover vedere nessuno, ma se anche avesse voluto stilare una lista delle persone che, con molti sforzi, avrebbe potuto tollerare di incontrare in quel momento, lo stalliere di sua maestà sarebbe stato così in basso, in graduatoria, da non comparire nemmeno. Ed invece eccolo. Eccolo attraversare il cortile, riconducendo verso la stalla uno dei cavalli meno pregiati di sua maestà.
Kurt distolse lo sguardo, fissandolo in un punto imprecisato del pavimento ciottolato del cortile. Rimase immobile, incapace di muoversi, o di seguire la richiesta quasi disperata delle sue gambe, che lo imploravano di inghiottire la tristezza che provava al solo pensiero di tornare in camera propria, e correre immediatamente dentro casa.
Ascoltò il suono che gli zoccoli del cavallo producevano, sperando di sentirlo passare oltre entro pochi secondi, ma quando quel suono si interruppe all’improvviso seppe che non poteva più sfuggire al proprio destino, e che se non era scappato fino a quel momento non avrebbe più avuto occasione di farlo; perciò sollevò lo sguardo, cercando la figura di Dave e trattenendo il fiato con dolorosa difficoltà quando intravide l’espressione contrita che da un lato addolciva e dall’altro irrigidiva i tratti del suo viso.
- Cosa… - deglutì forzatamente, stringendo i pugni lungo i fianchi, quasi insopportabilmente teso. Dave era così vicino da togliergli quasi ogni barlume di lucidità, ed era imbarazzante sentirsi così solo per la sua vicinanza. – Cosa succede?
L’uomo si inumidì le labbra, guardando altrove per qualche secondo, prima di tornare a fissarlo negli occhi.
- Sono… sono molto dispiaciuto per quello che è successo. – bisbigliò, ed era evidente quanto pronunciare quelle poche parole lo affaticasse. – Per quello che ho fatto. – aggiunse, tornando ad abbassare lo sguardo, - Mi dispiace così tanto, Kurt.
Kurt spalancò gli occhi, nel sentirlo pronunciare ancora il suo nome. I ricordi della sera precedente in camera propria invasero la sua mente senza preavviso e senza permesso, riempiendolo di confusione. Tutta la paura, la rabbia, la tristezza, l’attrazione repressa che aveva provato nei suoi confronti tornarono a farsi sentire più vivide che mai, così travolgenti da renderlo quasi instabile sulle proprie stesse gambe, e nel momento in cui sentì la caviglia ancora dolorante pulsare violentemente, quasi volesse suggerirgli di accasciarsi su di lui e lasciarsi sorreggere dalle sue braccia, seppe in un istante che il suo corpo stava semplicemente cercando di avvertirlo.
Non c’era più alcuna ragione di combatterlo.
Abbassò lo sguardo, avvicinandosi a lui, e Dave si irrigidì pericolosamente quando percepì il suo dolce peso appoggiarsi sul suo petto, quelle mani così sottili e magre stringersi attorno al tessuto ruvido della casacca che indossava, e quel viso improvvisamente così spaurito e confuso che si sollevava appena, per cercare il suo sguardo.
- Portami via da qui. – sussurrò in un mezzo singhiozzo, mentre le mani di Dave si chiudevano con calore attorno alle sue, - Per favore.
Dave si concesse di restare a guardarlo solo per qualche secondo. Poi, lasciando scivolare le mani all’altezza della sua vita, lo issò sul cavallo già sellato. Meno di un minuto dopo, erano già in fuga, al galoppo, verso la foresta.
La foresta si apriva lussureggiante e rigogliosa attorno a loro, carica di colori, profumi, suoni, giochi di luce, e tutte le meraviglie che la natura aveva potuto pensare nel mettere insieme ogni albero, ogni fiore, ogni foglia, ogni sasso ed ogni singolo filo d’erba perché il risultato fosse splendido, armonioso, bello come un dipinto ma allo stesso tempo vivido come solo la realtà poteva essere, ma di tutta quella bellezza così affascinante e travolgente né Dave né Kurt avevano contezza. Stretto al petto di Dave, Kurt mugolava e gemeva, le labbra premute contro quelle dell’altro uomo, le cui mani si chiudevano con forza attorno alla sua vita nonostante l’obbligo di dover reggere assieme a lui anche le redini, ma per quanto ancora provasse a guidare il cavallo attraverso i sentieri sempre più confusi e meno battuti della foresta era evidente che anche Dave avesse già da tempo perso interesse nei confronti di quella che poteva essere la strada giusta, preferendo concentrarsi sull’unica via che in quel momento avesse un qualche significato, per lui: quella umida e saporita che le labbra di Kurt tracciavano nel muoversi sopra le sue, nello schiudersi appena per accogliere la sua lingua e per lasciare che la propria rispondesse ad ogni carezza con lo stesso identico desiderio.
- Dave… - mugolò Kurt, allontanandosi da lui ed appoggiando sul suo petto le mani aperte – poteva sentire quanto forti fossero i suoi muscoli sotto la casacca che indossava, anche attraverso i pesanti guanti neri che ancora coprivano le sue dita – per invitarlo a fermarsi, - Non dovremmo…
- Dammi una buona ragione. – insistette l’uomo, chinandosi nuovamente su di lui e catturando le sue labbra con le proprie mentre il cavallo si fermava nei pressi di una radura, guardandosi intorno con aria stanca e impigrita dal caldo.
- Io non… - mugolò ancora il ragazzo, piegando il capo per evitare il bacio e finendo soltanto per esporre ai tocchi sempre più affamati delle labbra dello stalliere i pochi centimetri del proprio collo che spuntavano dal colletto abbottonato, mentre le sue mani calde provvedevano a sfilare dall’asola ogni bottone, liberandolo da quella stretta soffocante. – Io non dovrei, sono… sono promesso al principe.
- Non lo sei. – gli ricordò Dave, stringendo possessivo le mani attorno alla sua vita mentre tornava a coprire le sue labbra con le proprie, costringendolo ad un altro bacio affamato, umido e aperto.
- No, forse no… - ammise controvoglia Kurt, schiudendo gli occhi sulla radura. Il sole, filtrando attraverso le foglie sottili degli alberi, creava splendidi giochi di luce sul prato, il cui manto sembrava adesso così accogliente, così comodo. – Dave… - miagolò disperatamente, sentendo le mani dell’uomo scivolare lente sui suoi fianchi, dal basso verso l’alto, e poi soffermarsi appena sotto le curve dolci delle sue scapole, tirando alla cieca i fili che tenevano chiuso il corsetto. – Dave, no…
L’uomo lo baciò ancora, forzandolo a riportare l’attenzione su di lui. Si ritrasse quasi subito, pur rimanendogli abbastanza vicino da poter sfiorare le sue labbra con le proprie ad ogni respiro, ad ogni movimento, ad ogni parola.
- Voglio toccarti. – disse, mentre Kurt chiudeva gli occhi e tremava per la scarica di desiderio che la sua voce aveva scatenato dentro il suo corpo, - E so che lo vuoi anche tu. – aggiunse semplicemente, il tono appena più dolce, tornando ad annullare la distanza fra le loro bocche e coinvolgendolo in un altro bacio mentre smontava da cavallo, portandolo con sé. Kurt lo seguì, gemendo confusamente quando, scivolando lungo la sella per cercare di scendere senza dover smettere di baciarlo, cadde praticamente fra le sue braccia, stringendosi al suo petto e percependo il suo desiderio fra le cosce, così prepotente da tendere i pantaloni sull’inguine, così simile a quello che provava lui, che però, vergognosamente, teneva il proprio nascosto sotto l’ampia gonna a strati che indossava.
Era ancora vestito a lutto. E, per quanto inopportuno potesse sembrare, in realtà sembrava avere perfino senso. Aveva appena seppellito ogni possibilità di vivere il sogno della sua infanzia, d’altronde – sposare un principe, vivere in un castello, essere felice per sempre – per cui quale altro abito sarebbe stato più adatto di quello?
Lasciò che Dave lo adagiasse sull’erba, continuando a baciarlo come in un estremo tentativo di distrazione, anche se avrebbe voluto dirgli di non darsi pena, che non c’era niente che lui potesse fare per distrarlo da ciò che stava accadendo. Qualcosa di cui lui era estremamente, quasi dolorosamente consapevole. Qualcosa, dentro di lui, un pezzo di se stesso, un pezzo di ciò che era e che aveva resistito negli anni agli obblighi, ai cambiamenti, ad una delle condizioni più sfortunate che un ragazzo potesse ritrovarsi a vivere – quante volte s’era raccontato di essere perfettamente felice? Quante volte aveva sentito qualcosa pizzicare sotto le ciglia, e quante volte s’era ripetuto che quella tristezza immotivata e profonda sarebbe sicuramente sparita quando il suo sogno fosse diventato realtà? – morì in quel momento, quando le mani di Dave scivolarono sotto la sua gonna e, sollevandola centimetro dopo centimetro, percorsero le sue gambe in punta di dita, accarezzandolo lentamente. Quella parte infantile di lui che nonostante l’educazione e gli studi non aveva mai smesso di credere nelle favole, nel principe azzurro, nelle streghe e nei draghi, si frantumò e crollò in pezzi, sciogliendosi nel gemito libero ed estenuato che Kurt si lasciò sfuggire dalle labbra, gettando indietro il capo e schiudendo istintivamente le gambe quando la mano di Dave si chiuse ruvida e improvvisa attorno alla sua erezione, strofinandola con impazienza.
Non ci sarebbero stati principi, né castelli, e forse neanche un “e vissero per sempre felici e contenti”. Ed era magnifico che fosse così. Era magnifico sentirsi per la prima volta così libero di pensare, libero di sentire, libero di godere. Sollevò un braccio, appoggiando una mano alla nuca di Dave e tirandolo verso di sé per un bacio improvviso e affamato, gemendo ancora quando, nel movimento, Dave gli scivolò addosso, strofinando il proprio bacino contro il suo.
- Sì… - mormorò, esponendo il collo per invitare Dave a ricoprirlo di baci e piccoli morsi, - Sì, per favore.
Dave gemette a propria volta, tornando a baciarlo freneticamente sulle labbra mentre si sollevava, interrompendo il contatto fra i loro corpi per un tempo appena sufficiente a liberarsi dei propri pantaloni, tornando quasi subito a schiacciarsi contro di lui, muovendosi lentamente avanti e indietro, in cerca di un po’ di frizione, di un po’ di sollievo.
Kurt si morse le labbra, scivolando con la punta del naso lungo la curva del collo di Dave ed inspirando con forza quell’odore che l’aveva colpito fin dalle prime volte in cui si era ritrovato vicino a lui abbastanza da poterlo percepire. L’odore selvaggio della sua terra lontana, un aroma che sussurrava misteri alle sue orecchie, gli parlava di viaggi, avventure, nuove scoperte, e Kurt non aveva mai capito perché gli occhi di suo fratello Finn brillassero tanto alla sola idea di partire, ma adesso, fra le braccia di Dave, senza più nessun obbligo al quale adempiere che non quello di seguire il proprio istinto, sembrava tutto così emozionante, tutto così vivido.
- Ho paura che farà un po’ male. – sussurrò dolcemente Dave sulla pelle accaldata del suo collo, leccando via una gocciolina di sudore prima che si facesse troppo fastidiosa. Kurt annuì, chiudendo gli occhi e trattenendo il fiato, aspettandosi il peggio, e tornando a spalancarli e a lasciarsi libero di respirare quando si rese conto che Dave lo stava preparando con le proprie dita. Arrossì furiosamente, cercando le sue labbra per darsi qualcosa da fare, qualcosa a cui pensare per non dover prendere atto di quanto piacevoli fossero i suoi tocchi ruvidi ma attenti, e quando finalmente sentì premere la punta della sua erezione contro la propria apertura non poté evitare di concedersi un sospiro liquido e gonfio di desiderio e aspettativa.
- Non voglio più tornare a casa. – disse in un gemito, scivolando con entrambe le mani lungo la curva della schiena di Dave e soffermandosi lì dove quella stessa curva si faceva più stretta, invitandolo a muoversi più decisamente, - Non c’è più niente, lì, per me. Voglio fuggire via con te. – concluse con un mezzo sorriso un po’ perso, gli occhi semichiusi e brillanti di lacrime troppo piccole per poter sfuggire alla gabbia così fitta delle sue ciglia scure.
Dave gemette di gola, avanzando per un paio di centimetri dentro di lui ed affondando i denti nella carne tenera del suo collo quando Kurt lo espose, gettando indietro il capo in un urlo gonfio in egual misura di piacere e dolore.
- Quasi neanche mi conosci. – gli sussurrò addosso, accarezzando in punta di lingua la pelle resa arrossata e ipersensibile dalla pressione così famelica dei propri denti. Fra un gemito e un singhiozzo sorpreso, mentre Dave cominciava a muoversi più freneticamente dentro di lui, Kurt si concesse una risata senza fiato.
- Proprio per questo. – mugolò intenerito. E poi chiuse gli occhi, lasciando alle mani di Dave l’incombenza di guidarlo verso l’orgasmo.
Steso a pancia in su, la testa comodamente appoggiata contro il petto nudo di Dave, già da almeno mezz’ora, fra una chiacchiera e l’altra, Kurt stava lasciandosi ipnotizzare dai meravigliosi giochi di luce che i raggi del sole producevano filtrando attraverso la cupola di fogliame verde brillante che il complicato intreccio di rami annodati disegnava sopra la loro testa, proteggendoli dall’asfissiante calura estiva. Lì nella radura, fra l’erba e i fiori, coccolati dall’ombra e dalla lieve brezza che spazzava il prato a intervalli regolari, si stava bene; perfino il lieve pizzicare delle formiche sulla loro pelle nuda non sembrava affatto fastidioso, e Kurt stesso era abbastanza convinto – perché gli era già successo in passato – che se si fosse trovato nel proprio giardino, sul dondolo, intento a leggere, ed una formica l’avesse morsicato, avrebbe reagito con stizza e fastidio, ritirandosi immediatamente nelle proprie stanze. Invece, in quel momento, con l’aria silenziosa della radura piena solo dei loro respiri e del tono soffice delle loro voci mentre chiacchieravano del più e del meno senza soluzione di continuità, tutto sembrava così incredibilmente dolce, così incredibilmente appropriato al loro stato d’animo, da non rappresentare neanche il più insignificante motivo di turbamento. Kurt se ne accorgeva dalla piega delle proprie labbra, dall’insistenza con la quale quel sorriso indomito e divertito si ostinava a piegarle, e ne era affascinato. Non si era mai sentito così felice, lui che pure aveva sempre creduto di vivere molto felicemente.
- Quindi non hai mai conosciuto tua madre? – chiese Dave, quasi con timore. Kurt sorrise fra sé, in parte anche per rassicurarlo sulla sua stessa tranquillità, nonostante l’indiscrezione della domanda.
- Era una schiava nomade, proprio come la madre di mio fratello. In questa regione, i nomadi sono preferiti agli stanziali, soprattutto per prendere servizio nelle magioni come quella di mio padre. Arrivano per la semina e si trattengono solo fino al raccolto, che poi è il motivo per cui sia io che mio fratello siamo nati in estate. – sorrise teneramente. – I signori preferiscono gli schiavi nomadi perché non gravano sul bilancio della famiglia per altri mesi che non siano quelli in cui lavorano i campi, e perché… be’, - aggiunse con una scrollatina di spalle, - perché le madri non portano con sé i figli, dopo averli partoriti. Per un paese nella situazione in cui si trova il nostro, donne come loro sono necessarie, se si vuole garantire un futuro ai nostri nomi. Non avanzano pretese, e non portano problemi.
- E tu non ne hai mai sentito la mancanza? – domandò premuroso Dave, accarezzandogli dolcemente i capelli. Kurt scosse il capo, anche se con estrema lentezza, per non sottrarsi a quel tocco.
- E i tuoi genitori? – domandò, piegando lievemente il collo all’indietro, per guardare Dave da sotto in su. Lui sorrise distante, rigirandosi una ciocca dei suoi capelli fra le dita.
- Ho vissuto quasi tutta la mia vita solo con mio padre. – rispose lui, - Mia madre è morta quando ero ancora molto piccolo. Ma la ricordo. Ne ricordo la voce e la presenza. – annuì, sorridendo lievemente.
- Dev’essere un pensiero doloroso. – commentò Kurt, guardando altrove per qualche secondo, ma Dave scosse il capo, attirando nuovamente la sua attenzione su di sé.
- È confortante, invece. Sapere che c’è qualcosa di lei che resta dentro di me, anche se lei non c’è più. – sorrise con calore, appoggiandogli una mano sul petto, proprio all’altezza del cuore. – Tu non conservi niente del genere, di tua madre? – domandò, e Kurt si voltò sullo stomaco, appoggiandosi nuovamente su di lui e lasciando che la mano di Dave scivolasse lungo la sua spina dorsale, fermandosi lì dove la curva della sua schiena lasciava il posto alla rotondità delle sue natiche.
- Finn, sai, lui ha sempre voluto viaggiare. – annuì, - Ha sempre sentito questa spinta indomabile verso terre sconosciute, ma ha sempre detto anche che non aveva alcuna intenzione di partire finché io non mi fossi sposato. – arrossì appena, abbassando lo sguardo, - Credevo che sarebbe finalmente successo, e questo avrebbe liberato entrambi, capisci cosa intendo? Io avrei vissuto il sogno della mia infanzia, ed anche lui. Ma ormai non credo che succederà mai. – sospirò. Dave si morse un labbro, sollevando una mano per accarezzargli il viso, e Kurt lasciò che lo facesse, ma al contempo lo rassicurò con un piccolo sorriso. – Non importa più, comunque. E il punto della questione era un altro. Quello che intendevo dire è che probabilmente è questa spinta per l’avventura e per il viaggio quella parte di sua madre che Finn porta dentro di sé. Ed io credevo di non averla, credevo di aver sempre vissuto solo per sposare un principe e vivere con lui per l’eternità, e invece… - un altro piccolo sorriso gli piegò le labbra, mentre lui lasciava la frase sospesa nell’aria quieta del pomeriggio nella foresta.
- E invece? – incalzò Dave, sorridendo a propria volta, e Kurt si lasciò sfuggire una risatina, coprendosi la bocca con le mani.
- E invece tutto ciò che voglio adesso è che tu mi issi su quel cavallo e mi porti a vedere il mondo. – concluse, chinandosi sulle sue labbra per un bacio lento, umido e un po’ pigro. – E sarà… - sollevò nuovamente lo sguardo, cercando con gli occhi il destriero che li aveva condotti fin là, e dischiuse le labbra in una smorfia stupita e atterrita quando non lo trovò. - …impossibile.
- Eh? – domandò subito Dave, gli occhi ancora chiusi e i lineamenti rilassati dal torpore che li aveva avvinti fino a quel momento. – Cosa sarà impossibile?
- Partire! – strillò Kurt, saltando in piedi e vagando per la radura in cerca del proprio abito, i cui numerosi e variegati strati di stoffa giacevano inermi e sfatti per tutto il prato, - Il cavallo è scomparso!
- Che? – domandò Dave, ancora confuso dagli avvenimenti delle ultime ore, voltando lo sguardo in giro e saltando in piedi a propria volta dopo essersi accorto di ciò che le parole di Kurt implicavano: erano soli, senza una cavalcatura e persi in mezzo alla Foresta Nera, ad ore ed ore di viaggio rispetto al feudo degli Hummel, ore che si sarebbero inevitabilmente trasformate in giorni se avessero dovuto percorrere quello stesso tragitto a piedi; erano privi di abiti adatti per viaggiare, privi di viveri, privi di armi da usare eventualmente contro gli animali feroci che, si diceva, a centinaia si aggiravano per la foresta, e privi anche di una mappa che indicasse loro come uscire da quel groviglio di alberi improvvisamente molto meno ospitale di quanto non sembrasse quando erano ancora entrambi distesi sulla schiena nell’erba. – Dobbiamo ritrovare il cavallo. – disse Dave, recuperando i propri pantaloni e indossandoli sbrigativamente. Non c’era molto altro che potessero fare.
- Ma potrebbe essere ovunque! – strillò Kurt, cercando invano di allacciarsi il corsetto, contorcendosi affannosamente, - Questa foresta è immensa, abbiamo perso il sentiero, e comunque dubito che il cavallo ne abbia seguito uno! Siamo condannati, moriremo qui e nessuno troverà mai i nostri corpi. – singhiozzò, coprendosi il volto con le mani.
- Cosa? – borbottò Dave, inarcando un sopracciglio, - No, nessuno di noi morirà. Che storia è questa?
- Certo che moriremo! – insistette Kurt, agitando le braccia sopra la testa mentre il nodo casuale con cui aveva stretto i lacci del corsetto si disfaceva inevitabilmente ad ogni suo movimento, - Senza cibo né acqua, senza un cavallo e persi in una foresta che pullula di bestie selvagge assetate si sangue? Quanto vuoi che si riesca a sopravvivere?! Oh, sventura! Non viaggerò mai oltre i confini del regno, non vedrò mai l’oceano, non visiterò mai l’antica ed elegante Europa! Meschina è la mia sorte, tragico il mio futuro! Mi si fa credere di avere una possibilità di vedere il mondo solo per poi uccidermi barbaramente lontano dai miei cari! Oh, me tapino! – gemette sconsolato, abbandonandosi per terra.
- Smettila! – strillò Dave, allucinato, avvicinandoglisi e tirandolo su di peso, scuotendolo violentemente per le spalle, - Stai delirando! Adesso ci addentreremo fra gli alberi e troveremo il cavallo. Non può essere andato troppo lontano, il terreno è pieno di radici e sporgenze, non è adatto al galoppo!
- E tu cosa ne sai?! – protestò Kurt, lasciandosi comunque maneggiare con disinvoltura e cercando di guardare Dave da sopra una spalla mentre lui gli riallacciava il corsetto con gesti rudi e piuttosto spicci, - E fa’ piano con questa roba, non è mica la sella di un cavallo!
- No, infatti sarebbe molto più facile se dovessi semplicemente sellarti e poi cavalcarti. – borbottò Dave, strattonando i lacci perché il corsetto aderisse bene al torso di Kurt.
- Non mi piace dove i doppi sensi di questa conversazione stanno andando a parare! – strillò oltraggiato, voltandosi immediatamente quando Dave ebbe finito di sistemarlo, - E non mi hai ancora detto in virtù di cosa dovresti essere tanto certo che il cavallo non si sia messo a galoppare fra le sterpaglie e le radici sporgenti!
- Perché sono uno stalliere! – tuonò a propria volta Dave, incapace di mantenere oltre la propria calma e cercando di afferrare Kurt per una mano, operazione resa impossibile dal fatto che il ragazzo continuava a gesticolare come si aspettasse di poter prendere il volo se vorticava le braccia abbastanza velocemente, - Il terreno è troppo accidentato per il galoppo, se davvero il cavallo si fosse messo a galoppare stai tranquillo che ne sentiremmo i nitriti di dolore da qui, perché si sarebbe anche spezzato una zampa per provarci!
- Occielo, magari è morto! – strillò terrorizzato Kurt, portando entrambe le mani ai lati del viso, mossa teatrale fino al fastidio quasi fisico, ma che Dave accettò di buon grado perché gli permise finalmente di poter visualizzare il proprio obiettivo da fermo, e lasciar scattare una mano ad afferrare la sua, centrando finalmente il bersaglio e stringendo le sue dita fra le proprie con forza mentre prendeva a trascinarlo verso il folto del bosco. – Magari è morto e troveremo il suo cadavere mentre lo cerchiamo! Non ho mai visto la carcassa di un animale! Non ho mai visto la carcassa di nessuno prima che tu uccidessi Pavarotti sotto il mio sguardo atterrito!
- Piantala di parlare come un libro stampato! – si lagnò Dave, strattonandolo violentemente e rischiando di spezzargli un braccio nel tentativo di farlo muovere più velocemente nonostante l’ampia gonna che gli impicciava i movimenti.
- Ahi! – si lamentò Kurt, tirando all’indietro come un cane ben deciso a rendere la vita impossibile al proprio padrone, - Sei sempre il solito bruto, non posso credere di essere qui con te, in questo momento! Voglio tornare a casa!
- E addio alla voglia di viaggiare in giro per il mondo. – sospirò teatralmente Dave, ricevendo in risposta da Kurt uno schiaffo in piena nuca.
- Non ti è permesso prendermi in giro! – lo rimproverò il ragazzo, - Anzi, ora che ci penso, questa è tutta colpa tua! Se tu non mi avessi sedotto—
- Io ti avrei cosa?! – sbottò Dave, voltandosi a guardarlo.
- Sedotto! – ribadì Kurt, allontanandosi da lui con uno strattone risentito, - E contro la mia volontà! Mi hai molestato ed è per questo che ora sono qui, perché mi hai confuso! Dovrei essere a casa a lavorare all’uncinetto aspettando devotamente che il principe si riprenda da questa cotta per quell’orribile ragazzo che ha portato con sé da quel villaggio devastato dalle fiamme!
- Io non ti ho sedotto, e se davvero preferiresti essere a casa a, che Dio mi perdoni, lavorare all’uncinetto!, piuttosto che essere qui con me, be’, allora dovresti semplicemente tornarci! – sbottò Dave, incrociando le braccia sul petto e guardandolo con astio.
- È esattamente quello che intendo fare! – concluse Kurt, risentito, - Non appena avremo ritrovato… il cavallo! – strillò quindi, il volto illuminato da un sorriso sorprendentemente improvviso, mentre scattava ad indicare un punto imprecisato dietro le spalle di Dave.
- Cosa? Dove? – chiese lo stalliere, voltandosi intorno ed identificando finalmente la placida figura del cavallo intento a brucare tenera erbetta nei pressi di un’alta siepe naturale di cespugli di more. – Ah! Eccolo. – disse con soddisfazione, avvicinandosi a grandi passi mentre Kurt, correndo come un bambino, lo superava, raggiungendo il cavallo ben prima di lui ed accarezzandogli il muso con calore, stringendolo fra le braccia. – L’avevo detto io che non poteva essere lontano.
- Hai visto, Dave? – cinguettò Kurt, deliziato, - Adesso possiamo andare dove vogliamo! Partiamo immediatamente!
- E dov’è finito il tuo brillante piano? – domandò Dave con un mezzo ghigno, inarcando un sopracciglio mentre incrociava le braccia sul petto.
- Piano? – chiese a propria volta Kurt, schiudendo gli occhi e guardandolo con sincera curiosità mentre continuava ad accarezzare devotamente il muso dell’animale, - Quale piano?
- Tornare a casa, fare la calza per il tuo principe aspettando che si innamori nuovamente di te… - gli ricordò Dave, il ghigno che si apriva ancora un po’, con palese divertimento. Kurt sbuffò, distogliendo lo sguardo.
- Ho cambiato idea. – concluse, - E poi… - si interruppe all’improvviso, aggrottando le sopracciglia ed aguzzando lo sguardo come se la sua attenzione fosse appena stata attirata da qualcosa di strano e particolare. – Ma cosa… - mormorò, appoggiandosi ad uno dei cespugli, stando bene attento a non ferirsi con le spine, e scostandone delicatamente le fronde per guardare oltre. – C’è una casa, qui.
- Come? – chiese Dave, aggrottando le sopracciglia ed abbassandosi per poter spiare attraverso lo spiraglio che Kurt aveva aperto nel fogliame. – È vero, e sembra anche abitata, guarda la finestra aperta, e guarda il comignolo, ne esce del fumo. Una casa di caccia, forse?
- Nessuno viene a caccia nella Foresta Nera, - rispose Kurt, scuotendo il capo, - hanno tutti troppa paura della strega. È ridicolo. – sbottò con disappunto, - Uno si aspetta che, avendo la scuola più rinomata di tutto il paese entro i confini del feudo, almeno la gente di queste parti sia colta abbastanza da— ssh, arriva qualcuno! – si interruppe all’improvviso, schiacciando una mano contro la bocca di Dave.
- Ma eri tu che stavi parlando! – protestò Dave, abbassando la voce per non fare troppo rumore e parlando contro il palmo della mano di Kurt, prima di notare anche lui con la coda dell’occhio il movimento che aveva insospettito il ragazzo al punto da schiacciargli quella mano sulla faccia.
La porta della casa si aprì con un cigolio sinistro, ed una donna avvolta in un lungo mantello di acetato rosso si soffermò sulla soglia, guardandosi intorno con estremo fastidio e disappunto.
- Becky! – strillò, - Dove diavolo sei?!
Non passarono che pochi secondi, prima che un folletto con una stramba divisa addosso, un corto caschetto biondo e un paio di occhiali tondi sul naso, si presentasse al suo cospetto, inchinandosi con sussiego.
- Non so come scusarmi. – disse contrita. Le labbra della donna si piegarono in una smorfia.
- Non sei riuscita a trovarli? – chiese, camminando nervosamente avanti e indietro, le braccia incrociate sul petto.
- No, mia signora. – confessò il folletto, - Ne ho perso le tracce nei pressi di una radura. Il loro cavallo è fuggito, comunque, non passerà molto tempo prima che i lupi li sbranino. La notte è vicina.
- Sciocca! – la rimproverò la donna, afferrando uno dei vasi da fiori vuoti che decoravano sinistramente il davanzale di una delle finestre, e scagliandolo a terra con improvvisa violenza, riducendolo in frantumi, - Non possiamo rischiare che il mio nascondiglio venga scoperto! Mai alcun essere umano si era addentrato all’interno della Foresta Nera, in più di cento anni, e tu ora mi dici che hai perso le tracce dei due intrusi?!
- Sono mortalmente dispiaciuta, mia signora. – piagnucolò il folletto, facendosi sempre più piccolo, accucciato com’era per terra, - Cercherò ancora!
- Sarebbe completamente inutile! – tuonò ancora la donna, afferrando un altro vaso e scagliando per terra anche quello, - Mai lasciar fare a un folletto il lavoro di una strega. – aggiunse astiosa. Da dietro i cespugli di more, Dave e Kurt trattennero il respiro, increduli. – Un incantesimo di localizzazione dovrebbe fare al caso mio. Ci metterò almeno tre ore, ma vista la tua incompetenza è necessario.
- Chiedo perdono, mia signora. – ripeté il folletto sempre più contrito, - Andrò a perlustrare dalle parti della cascata, forse lì…
- Ma dove vuoi andare, dove?! – la rimproverò la donna, afferrandola per un orecchio, - Vieni con me e dammi una mano con l’incantesimo! – sbottò, trascinandola dentro casa e chiudendosi la porta alle spalle.
Quando fu sparita, il silenzio tornò ad impadronirsi della foresta, e Kurt si sentì finalmente libero di abbassare la mano che ancora teneva premuta contro le labbra di Dave. Entrambi respiravano pesantemente, e fu Dave il primo ad allontanarsi, recuperando il cavallo per le redini e stringendo Kurt per un braccio, spostando entrambi verso un luogo più sicuro.
- Dobbiamo andarcene. – disse, - Scappare il più lontano possibile. La strega è reale. Esiste davvero.
- Io non posso crederci… - balbettò Kurt, scosso, - Sono solo fantasie da ragazzini, non… non è mai esistita nessuna strega!
- Mi pare evidente che le tue fantasie da ragazzino sono ben più reali di quello che pensavamo! – insistette Dave, continuando a trascinare sia lui che il cavallo per la strada che, dalla radura, li aveva condotti fin lì. – Kurt, - aggiunse più dolcemente, - dobbiamo lasciare la foresta, subito, prima che la strega ci trovi. E poi potremo abbandonare il paese. Viaggiare, come vuoi tu! Ti porterò dovunque tu voglia, ma adesso andiamo.
- No! – disse Kurt improvvisamente, puntando i piedi per terra, - Non capisci? Se la strega è reale, allora lo è anche la maledizione! Il motivo per cui non nascono più bambine in questo paese… - gemette appena, quasi sopraffatto da quanto aveva sentito negli ultimi minuti e da ciò che queste informazioni implicavano per lui e per tutti gli abitanti del feudo. – Non possiamo andare via senza dire niente a nessuno! – disse poco dopo, aggrappandosi alla camicia di Dave e strattonandolo appena, - Dobbiamo tornare da mio padre, parlare con quel cacciatore di streghe, rivelargli il luogo dove la strega è nascosta! E poi potremo partire.
- Kurt… - sospirò Dave, stringendo le proprie mani attorno alle sue e guardandolo con occhi tristi, - Se torniamo da tuo padre adesso, se la tua famiglia scopre quello che abbiamo fatto, perché eravamo nascosti nella foresta… partire sarà impossibile.
Kurt indietreggiò, preso alla sprovvista. Non aveva considerato la situazione da questa prospettiva, e doveva ammettere che l’idea di dover tornare a casa e raccontare tutto a suo padre, a suo fratello e al principe lo turbava non poco. Ma non poteva lasciare che le sorti della sua patria fossero decise dalla sua codardia.
Stringendo i pugni lungo i fianchi, si avvicinò a Dave un passo dopo l’altro, e poi si sollevò sulle punte, tenendogli dolcemente il viso fra le mani e baciandolo a fior di labbra.
- Ti prometto che troveremo un modo per risolvere la situazione. – disse piano, soffiando appena sulla sua pelle umida, - E partiremo insieme. Ma prima dobbiamo dire a tutti della strega… e anche di noi due. – aggiunse, annuendo timidamente.
Tutti i lineamenti del volto di Dave si tesero per un secondo, la preoccupazione e la paura così evidenti da danzare freneticamente nei suoi occhi scuri, obbligando il cuore di Kurt a battere con violenza nella gabbia fragilissima del suo petto, in attesa della sua risposta. Che giunse in un sospiro, in un bacio ricambiato ed in una breve carezza su una guancia, prima di saltare in sella al cavallo e dirigersi al galoppo verso la magione degli Hummel.
- Non fate che correre da un lato all’altro della villa. – commentò il principe Jesse, affiancandola lungo il corridoio centrale che, dalle cucine, portava alla porta d’ingresso e quindi al cortile, - L’atmosfera rilassata che circonda questa casa non sembra neanche sfiorarvi.
- Perdonatemi, maestà, ma non ho tempo di intrattenermi in chiacchiere con voi. – rispose Rachel, nervosa e dura, proseguendo nella sua marcia verso l’esterno della dimora degli Hummel, - L’atmosfera rilassata di cui parlate sta mandando il feudo in rovina. Vi siete guardato intorno, nelle ultime ore?! – insistette, fermandosi all’improvviso e voltandosi a guardarlo, sconvolta da quanto placidamente lui sorridesse, come se le ultime vicende non lo avessero minimamente sfiorato. Cosa che, d’altronde, sarebbe stata giustificabile per lui, ma non lo era altrettanto per tutti gli altri abitanti della casa, che versavano in condizioni più o meno simili, senza eccezioni. – La gente si aggira per la proprietà come se non avesse memoria delle proprie mansioni! Nessuno si occupa dei lavori manuali! Giungo adesso dalla cucina dove ho cercato per mezz’ora di convincere le cuoche a preparare la cena senza risultati! Il principe Blaine e il signor Finn non fanno che correre dietro quei due individui alla cui sola vista chiunque sembra cadere in una trance o chissà che altro maleficio, e il signorino Kurt è scomparso! – si interruppe per prendere fiato, scuotendo il capo, sconsolata. – Come fate a non accorgervene, proprio voi? È chiaramente l’opera di una strega.
- Oh, andiamo, Rachel. – ridacchiò il principe, allungando una mano e stringendo con forza le proprie dita attorno al braccio sottile della ragazza, trattenendola, - E voi sareste l’unica immune al sortilegio? E perché mai dovreste esserlo?
- Non ne ho idea, signore. – borbottò lei, tirando appena per costringerlo a lasciarla, senza però ottenere i risultasti sperati, - Ma mi sembra l’unica spiegazione plausibile.
- L’unica spiegazione che invece sembra plausibile a me, Rachel, - insistette il principe, rafforzando la stretta attorno al suo braccio, - è che voi non ne possiate più di vivere in questo luogo. – concluse con un sorrisetto soddisfatto, come avesse appena risolto chissà che intricato dilemma.
- …come, prego? – domandò Rachel, inarcando un sopracciglio. Lui sbuffò compiaciuto, lasciandola finalmente libera di muovere il braccio e scrollando altezzosamente le spalle.
- Ma sì, - annuì, - questo feudo è ormai troppo pacifico, per te. Una viaggiatrice, un’avventuriera come te, una guerriera, come tutte le donne del nostro popolo, non può davvero sopportare una vita così noiosa e abitudinaria. Io posso capirlo, Rachel, l’ho capito dal nostro ultimo incontro, quella notte. – aggiunse, avvicinandosi a lei e sorridendole fascinosamente, - Posso capirlo, perché io sono uguale. Perfino il trono di Carmel non è stato abbastanza per saziare la mia sete di imprese ed avventure. Vieni con me, Rachel! – la invitò, stringendole una mano fra le proprie, - Partiamo! Alla volta dell’ignoto! Alla ricerca di luoghi che ci offrano sfide, battaglie, magari un vero scontro con una vera strega!
- C’è una vera strega anche qui, maestà! – sbottò Rachel, ritirando la mano e riprendendo a marciare decisa verso il cortile, - Siete cieco, anche voi, come tutti gli altri! Reso sordo da un qualche stupido sortilegio! – sbuffò ancora, annoiata. – Perdonatemi, ma non ho davvero tempo di star dietro alle vostre fantasie, principe Jesse. Devo ancora approntare i tavoli per la cena e poi inseguire ogni singolo abitante di questa villa per convincerlo a nutrirsi. Se volete scusarmi… - concluse in un mezzo inchino, che non poté mai completarsi perché dal cortile cominciarono improvvisamente a giungere strani rumori, dapprima solo confusi e martellanti, e poi sempre più violenti, fino ad esplodere in un gran fracasso. – Ma che…? – si domandò, prima di aumentare il passo e dirigersi spedita verso l’esterno della casa. Il principe Jesse, nonostante si sentisse ancora abbastanza spensierato da pensare automaticamente che non potesse trattarsi di niente di così grave, la seguì, mantenendosi a pochi passi di distanza.
- Tutto ciò è inammissibile! – stava strillando il signorino Kurt, mandando all’aria enormi secchi pieni di granaglie con la sola forza delle proprie striminzite braccina, nel più totale disinteresse dei pochi presenti in cortile, - Perché nessuno mi ascolta?! Oh, ma quando riuscirò a convincere mio padre a darmi retta, la vedrete!
- Kurt! – strillava… era lo stalliere del principe Blaine, quell’uomo che continuava ad inseguire Kurt ovunque, cercando di placarlo, mettendogli inappropriatamente le mani addosso e dandogli del tu senza che ce ne fosse un apparente motivo? – Kurt, per l’amor del cielo, calmati! Ma cosa diavolo stai combinando?!
- Nessuno mi ascolta! – strillò Kurt per tutta risposta, rovesciando un ripiano in legno ricoperto di pannocchie, - Mio padre vegeta sorridendo beatamente ad un garofano e millanta di stare osservando la di lui crescita istante dopo istante! Mio fratello giace nella paglia della stalla in compagnia di quella stupida gallina bionda che ha portato con sé dal sopralluogo di quello stupido villaggio indiano, e il principe Blaine! – la sua voce di sollevò di un paio di ottave, oltraggiata e sconcertata, - Il principe Blaine nuota placidamente nel lago abbozzando coreografie casuali per far contento quell’orrendo giovanotto che lo guarda divertito dalla riva! Tutto ciò è assurdo! Ed io che vado in giro parlando della strega e recando notizie di sventura che potevo anche risparmiarmi di riportare, vengo ostentatamente ignorato!
- Signorino Kurt! – urlò Rachel per richiamare la sua attenzione, correndogli incontro, - Siete tornato!
- Rachel! – la chiamò a propria volta il ragazzo, ancora ansante, voltandosi verso di lei, il volto istantaneamente illuminato da un barlume di sollievo, - Vi prego di ascoltarmi e di non impegnarvi in qualche insulsa attività come se fosse la cosa più importante che abbiate mai fatto nella vostra vita!
- Signorino Kurt, non dite sciocchezze. – lo rimbrottò lei, sbuffando appena e piantando entrambe le mani sui fianchi, - Piuttosto, dove eravate finito? Qui sta succedendo qualcosa di molto, molto strano, ed io vi sto cercando da ore!
- Me ne rendo conto. – annuì il ragazzo, - Sembrano tutti sotto ipnosi, vagano come sonnambuli sorridendo per sciocchezze e agendo come dissennati! Perché?
- La vostra dama è convinta che si tratti del sortilegio di una strega. – ridacchiò Jesse, apparendo alle loro spalle, - Non è ridicolo?
- Sentir dire qualcosa di simile proprio da voi, principe Jesse, proverebbe che si tratta di un maleficio anche se non sapessi, come invece so, che è proprio ciò di cui si tratta. – annuì compitamente Kurt, degnando il principe appena di un’occhiata, prima di tornare a concentrare tutta la propria attenzione su Rachel. – Avete ragione, è opera della strega, ne sono sicuro! Ella vive proprio nel folto della Foresta Nera, come il principe Blaine e il principe Jesse sospettavano prima di essere ammaliati da chissà che malvagio incantesimo! Io e Dave l’abbiamo vista con i nostri occhi!
- Oh mio Dio! – strillò Rachel, coprendosi la bocca con entrambe le mani, - Cosa ci facevate voi e lo stalliere del principe nella Foresta Nera da soli? E perché lo chiamate per nome? E, ora che ci penso, per quale motivo egli può fare lo stesso con voi e—
- Non mi pare il caso di intrattenerci in stupidi pettegolezzi, Rachel! – sbottò Kurt, arrossendo improvvisamente e stringendo i pugni contro i fianchi, - Una strega si sta prendendo gioco di noi, e tutti gli abitanti di questo palazzo devono esserne informati! Avete capito?! – insistette, voltandosi intorno e cercando di attrarre nuovamente l’attenzione di tutti i presenti, mentre anche Finn (uscito dalla stalla con la propria dama al braccio), il principe Blaine (di ritorno dal lago con un braccio attorno alle spalle del proprio accompagnatore) e suo padre (affiacciatosi sul piazzale col proprio vaso di garofani sottobraccio), si degnavano finalmente di offrirgli un po’ della loro attenzione. – Voi tutti siete vittime di un incantesimo! La strega della Foresta Nera vi rende stupidi e imbelli, in modo da poter continuare a vivere la propria vita in pace senza che noi si muova guerra contro di lei! Svegliatevi!
- Nessuno di loro si sveglierà. – tuonò una voce sconosciuta, che tutti i presenti seguirono immediatamente, per cercare di capire a chi appartenesse. Dinanzi all’enorme portone di legno, adesso spalancato, che si apriva sulle mura che delimitavano la villa degli Hummel, un uomo di media statura si stagliava implacabile contro la luce del tramonto. Il suo volto era quasi interamente coperto da un cappello a tesa larga, di cuoio marrone, ed un lungo cappotto della stessa foggia avvolgeva l’interezza del suo corpo, svolazzando nel vento ai suoi piedi. Una giovane dall’aria allegra e dall’aspetto vagamente chiassoso lo seguiva a pochi passi di distanza, stringendosi nelle spalle. – Nessuno si sveglierà, a meno che non li obblighiamo a farlo. – precisò l’uomo con un ghigno sottile, prima di voltarsi in direzione della propria compagna. – Emma. – la chiamò semplicemente, e lei annuì, sorridendo placida e portandosi silenziosamente fino al centro del cortile, sollevando entrambe le braccia sopra la testa. Il coloratissimo vestitino che indossava le lasciò scoperte le gambe per un paio di secondi, prima che lei si decidesse ad abbassare repentinamente le braccia.
- Dissolvo! – strillò, la voce rombante nell’aria placida della sera. I suoi occhi, per un istante, si accesero dello stesso fuoco che accendeva il cielo in quel momento.
- Ugh… - si lamentò la ragazza stretta al braccio di Finn, portandosi una mano al collo. Suo fratello la seguì quasi subito.
- Che succede? – domandò il principe Blaine, stringendosi al proprio accompagnatore e cercando di sostenerlo mentre questi si afflosciava inesorabilmente per terra, indebolito.
- Quinn! – gridò Finn, nell’osservare la ragazza al suo fianco spalancare gli occhi e gettare indietro il capo, schiudendo le labbra in un urlo animalesco mentre il suo corpo si riempiva di una luce anomala e dall’aspetto pericoloso, calda come se bruciasse. Istintivamente, Finn mosse un paio di passi indietro, e la stessa cosa si ritrovò costretto a fare Blaine quando la mano di Jeremiah, che stava ancora stringendo convulsamente, si fece troppo calda per poter essere sopportata ancora.
- Che cosa state facendo?! – gridò Dave, rivolgendosi allo straniero e alla donna, che nel frattempo gli era tornata accanto, quando nell’orrore degli astanti Quinn e Jeremiah presero a bruciare, avvolti in una fiamma biancastra che sembrava incapace di appiccare il fuoco a qualunque cosa non fossero i loro corpi, - Sono esseri umani!
- È questo l’errore. – ghignò l’uomo, e nell’istante successivo le urla di Quinn e Jeremiah si trasformarono in lamenti striduli, poco prima che i loro corpi, invece di carbonizzarsi, cominciassero a tramutarsi velocemente in polvere. Ne rimasero solo due mucchietti, sopra ai quali aleggiò per un singolo istante un’ombra scura con uno spaventoso ghigno e due occhi di brace, prima di sparire, lasciando solo cenere.
- Cosa… - mormorò il principe Blaine, lanciando uno sguardo confuso attorno a sé e spalancando gli occhi subito dopo, come se improvvisamente i suoi ricordi fossero stati lasciati liberi di fluire al suo cervello. – Kurt… - gemette, i lineamenti del volto contratti in un’espressione addolorata, avvicinandosi lievemente a lui, una mano protesa verso la sua figura. Kurt si strinse nelle spalle, schiacciandosi immediatamente contro il fianco di Dave, che prima ancora di capire perché il ragazzo si stesse comportando così lo cinse protettivo con un braccio. Blaine si fermò all’istante, abbassando la mano e serrando le labbra, le sopracciglia ancora inarcate verso il basso. – Ne… ne riparleremo. – mormorò con palese vergogna, abbassando lo sguardo, per poi sollevarlo verso lo straniero. – Chi siete voi? – domandò imperioso, mentre attorno a lui anche tutti gli altri abitanti della villa riprendevano possesso delle proprie facoltà, e il vaso che Burt aveva portato con sé come un figlio nelle ultime ore finiva infranto contro il pavimento acciottolato del cortile.
- È… è William Van Schuester. – deglutì il principe Jesse, - Il più grande cacciatore di streghe al mondo.
L’uomo sollevò finalmente il viso, abbastanza perché i presenti potessero vedere i suoi occhi. Profondi e scuri, nascondevano segreti inconfessabili.
- Voi tutti… - spiegò, muovendo qualche passo intorno, come stesse prendendo confidenza con l’ambiente, - Siete stati vittime di un incantesimo. La strega che infesta questo paese con la sua presenza, la stessa che ha gettato sul vostro popolo la maledizione che vi impedisce di generare figlie femmine, sentendosi evidentemente minacciata da qualcosa che avete fatto ha spedito in mezzo a voi due creature. – indicò il mucchietto di ceneri, che la sua assistente stava già provvedendo a spazzare e conservare in due ampolline, ed annuì. – Quelle due creature. Non erano che diversivi, e il loro compito era distrarvi e attutire i vostri sensi, di modo che i vostri propositi bellicosi si smorzassero.
- Ah! – strillò Kurt, battendosi un pugno contro il palmo di una mano, - Visto? L’avevo detto io.
Van Schuester si voltò a guardarlo, infastidito dall’interruzione.
- E voi chi sareste? – domandò. Burt si fece avanti, frapponendosi fra lui e l’uomo.
- Mio figlio, messere. – rispose a muso duro, - E nel caso vi chiedeste chi sono io, ebbene sono il signore di questa casa e di questo feudo.
- Bene. – annuì il cacciatore, per nulla intimidito né tantomeno impressionato dalla durezza dell’uomo, - Allora è con voi che devo parlare, perché di sicuro siete voi ad avermi obbligato a fare tutta questa strada per venire fin qui.
- Che cosa?! – ringhiò Burt, aggrottando le sopracciglia, - Ma di cosa diamine state parlando? Nessuno vi ha chiamato!
- Se posso intromettermi… - cinguettò la donna, avvicinandosi con un sorriso timido, - Il mio nome è Emma, è un piacere fare la vostra conoscenza, signor… - allungò una mano verso di lui, ma quando si accorse che era sporca di terra si affrettò a ritirarla, prima che Burt potesse stringerla, - …signor signore della casa e del feudo. – annuì compitamente. – Io e il mio signore siamo giunti in visita perché il nostro incantesimo di localizzazione ha chiaramente mostrato uno squilibrio dell’energia magica in questa zona del principato. – spiegò sorridendo, - Tale squilibrio poteva essere motivato solo da un’importante combinazione di sortilegi, e ci è bastato fare un paio di ricerche per capire che qualcosa di losco stava avendo luogo da queste parti. Vorremmo, se ce lo permetterete, aiutarvi a liberare il paese dal maleficio che questa strega ha gettato su tutti voi.
- Se permettete, - iniziò il principe Blaine, facendosi avanti, le sopracciglia aggrottate e i lineamenti tesi, - io e il principe Jesse, qui, abbiamo il pieno controllo della situazione. Siamo già giunti alle porte della Foresta Nera e siamo sicuri di essere vicini a scoprire dove si trova la strega.
- Principe… - richiamò la sua attenzione Jesse, schiarendosi la voce, - Lasciate perdere. Van Schuester è di un altro livello. Io stesso, che pure di streghe ne ho ammazzate parecchie, non sono che un principiante, al suo confronto.
- E, in ogni caso, - soggiunse Kurt, tornando a farsi avanti pur rimanendo al fianco di Dave, - non avete il pieno controllo su niente. Signor Van Schuester, tutto quello che il principe e il suo seguito sono stati in grado di fare è stato spingersi fino ai confini della foresta e poi tornare a casa recando con sé due malefici. Io e Dave, invece, siamo rimasti all’interno della foresta solo poche ore, ma siamo comunque riusciti a fare di meglio, scovando il nascondiglio della strega e tornando qui di corsa per comunicarlo a tutti, anche se nessuno voleva ascoltarci.
Van Schuester lo guardò con severità per una manciata di secondi.
- Dilettanti! – proruppe quindi, scrutandoli tutti con malcelato disgusto, - Organizzare spedizioni nei pressi di un rinomato luogo saturo di magia, e portare con sé persone mai viste prima e palesemente sospette? Inoltrarsi da soli all’interno di una foresta di quel tipo e spingersi fino al cuore della stessa, disarmati e inermi, alla ricerca del covo di una strega potente al punto da lanciare una maledizione centenaria su un intero paese?! Sciocchi! Dissennati! Ridicoli dilettanti!
- Non siamo disarmati, Van Schuester! – interloquì il principe Jesse, sentendosi in questo punto nel vivo, - I miei alchimisti—
- I vostri alchimisti sono degli incapaci. – tagliò corto il cacciatore, agitando una mano a mezz’aria, - Quel ridicolo liquido che utilizzate per ucciderle… l’acido, è questo il suo nome, vero? Che sciocchezza. Come se fosse possibile combattere una strega portandosi dietro un calderone in cui immergerla.
- Ho sconfitto parecchie streghe, col mio calderone d’acido, signore. – insistette Jesse, rigido, stringendo i pugni lungo i fianchi.
- Siete stato solo molto fortunato, stupido ragazzino presuntuoso! – lo rimproverò Van Schuester, lanciandogli un’occhiata di fuoco, - Le streghe sono creature magiche. Non è possibile sconfiggerle senza magia! L’unico modo per renderle deboli senza usare incantesimi contro di loro, consiste nel conquistarle come donne, e non c’è neanche bisogno di dire quanto questa pratica sia disgustosa. – concluse con una smorfia a metà fra il saccente e l’inorridito. Rosso di rabbia e vergogna, Jesse rimase in silenzio.
- Adesso smettetela. – si fece avanti Rachel, scrutando l’uomo con piglio severo, - Il principe Jesse ha fatto ciò che ha ritenuto opportuno fare per proteggere il proprio paese, offrendosi poi di aiutare anche il nostro. – Van Schuester la fissò con un certo interesse, aggrottando le sopracciglia. – È ovvio che, non potendo egli disporre di poteri magici, abbia scelto di provvedere al meglio delle sue capacità, con ciò che poteva fare. Voi non avete alcun diritto di—
- Non è esatto dire che non può disporre di poteri magici. – la interruppe il cacciatore, avvicinandosi un passo dopo l’altro e girandole intorno con aria pensosa, - Voi, che vi fate avanti per difenderlo… siete sempre stata al suo fianco?
Rachel rimase immobile nella propria posizione, senza seguire l’uomo neanche con lo sguardo.
- No, signore. – rispose freddamente, - Io ho sempre vissuto qui.
Van Schuester si voltò verso il principe Jesse, indicando Rachel con un cenno del capo e concedendosi un sorriso sghembo, di scherno.
- Che razza di cacciatore sareste, voi, se non siete in grado di riconoscere una strega neanche quando ce l’avete di fronte?
- Che cosa?! – strillò immediatamente Rachel, perdendo tutta la propria compostezza e voltandosi repentinamente a guardarlo.
- Adesso basta con queste stramberie! – tuonò Burt, muovendosi a grandi passi verso lo straniero per poi frapporsi fra lui e la ragazza, - Rachel è parte di questa famiglia ormai da anni, ed è comunque troppo giovane per essere la strega della foresta!
- Non ho mai pensato che la strega della foresta potesse essere lei. – inarcò un sopracciglio Van Schuester, incrociando le braccia sul petto senza però indietreggiare di un singolo passo, per nulla intimorito, - Ho solo detto che lei è comunque una strega. Ne ha l’odore, ne ha l’energia, ne ha l’aura magica. È sicuramente figlia di una strega, e strega anch’ella. E… Emma? – chiamò la propria compagna, e lei, immediatamente, si voltò verso di lui. – Risvegliala. Potrebbe esserci utile. La strega che andiamo a combattere potrebbe costringerci a chiedere aiuto.
La donna annuì compitamente e, sorridendo serena, si avvicino alla ragazza.
- Cos’avete in mente? – domandò Blaine, facendosi avanti.
- Oh, assolutamente niente di pericoloso. – sorrise rassicurante lei, tirando fuori un sottile guanto di seta da uno dei graziosi sacchetti ricamati che portava appesi alla cintura stretta in vita, ed indossandolo con attenzione, - Ma state indietro, per favore. Anche voi, signor signore della casa e del feudo.
- È Hummel, per tutti i cieli e gli inferni. – sbottò lui, infastidito, - Hummel.
- Signor Hummel, dunque. – sorrise ancora Emma, affatto turbata, - Indietreggiate, prego. Sto per risvegliarla e potrebbe esserci uno scoppio d’energia.
- Cosa… ma di cosa state parlando?! – sbottò Rachel, stringendosi nelle spalle, sulla difensiva, - Io non sono una strega! Non… che cosa state facendo?! – ebbe appena il tempo di strillare, prima che Emma, sorridendo serenamente, coprisse in pochissimi istanti la distanza che ancora le separava, appoggiando la mano guantata sulla sua spalla.
I presenti lanciarono un grido di sorpresa quando videro entrambe le figure femminili essere avvolte da una luce splendente, all’interno della quale scomparvero per qualche secondo. Nel momento in cui la luce si diradò, Emma si allontanò da Rachel, sfilando il guanto che aveva indossato e riponendolo in una delle sporte. Rachel rimase immobile nel mezzo del cortile, gli occhi spalancati e vuoti, la pelle crepitante di scintille bluastre. Le tremavano le labbra.
- Mia madre… - bisbigliò, - La strega Shelby. Io… io l’ho vista.
- Dannato mostro! – strillò Finn, scagliandosi contro Emma, - Cosa le avete fatto?!
- Fermo! – lo bloccò Rachel, sollevando una mano. Finn si ritrovò sbalzato all’indietro, seduto per terra sul ciottolato del cortile, prima di riuscire a colpire Emma, prima ancora che Van Schuester potesse muoversi per proteggerla. – Io ho visto mia madre. – proseguì, cercando con lo sguardo il principe Jesse, - La strega Shelby. Di Carmel. – gli occhi le si riempirono di lacrime, quando individuò la figura del principe, che quando sentì le sue parole serrò le labbra, i lineamenti del viso tesi in una maschera di sconcerto. – La prima strega che avete ucciso. Era mia madre.
- Bene. – tagliò corto Van Schuester, spezzando la tensione che rendeva l’aria del cortile irrespirabile, - Ora ditemi, qual è il vostro compagno?
Rachel si voltò a guardarlo, gli occhi persi.
- Come…? – balbettò, incerta, e Van Schuester sospirò sgarbatamente, sollevando gli occhi al cielo come fosse già stufo di dover fornire spiegazioni su spiegazioni a un gruppo di palesi ignoranti.
- Il vostro compagno umano. – precisò, - Come io sono il compagno umano di Emma. Una strega può scegliere di condividere il proprio potere o parte di esso con il proprio compagno, rendendolo più forte, adatto al combattimento. La strega di cui stiamo parlando è molto potente, e potrebbe servirci aiuto. Dunque, ditemi chi è il vostro compagno, e vi spiegherò come condividere parte del vostro potere con lui.
Rachel boccheggiò, guardandosi intorno con paura. I suoi occhi si posarono per un secondo anche su Finn, ancora seduto per terra e sbigottito, ma nel momento in cui i loro sguardi si incrociarono, lui distolse il proprio, e lei si sentì costretta a fare lo stesso, piegando le labbra in una smorfia addolorata.
- Non ne ho uno, signore. – rispose, abbassando il capo.
Del tutto disinteressato a quale potesse essere il suo dolore, Van Schuester scrollò le spalle.
- Be’, trovatene uno, e in fretta, anche. Non possiamo rischiare che—
- Che cosa, cacciatore? – disse una voce profonda ma indiscutibilmente femminile alle loro spalle. Tutti i presenti si voltarono, individuando immediatamente la figura di una donna alta e magra, avvolta in uno strano mantello rosso, le gambe divaricate e le mani poggiate sui fianchi in una posa presuntuosa e arrogante. La donna ghignò cattiva, piegando appena la testa. – Che la strega possa arrivare prima che voi possiate aver concluso i vostri preparativi per difendersi? – scoppiò a ridere, gettando indietro il capo. – Ops. – concluse, prima di sollevare le braccia verso il cielo. – Tempesta! – strillò, ed immediatamente il cielo ancora rossastro del tramonto si tinse di una sfumatura più scura, quasi sanguigna, mentre nuvole enormi e cupe si addensavano minacciose sopra le loro teste, gonfie di pioggia.
- Dannazione. – ringhiò fra i denti Van Schuester, stringendo i pugni ed indietreggiando di qualche passo, mentre tutti i presenti si stringevano inconsciamente l’uno all’altro e dietro di lui.
- Rachel… - disse piano il principe Jesse, quando le fu vicino, - Io…
- Tacete. – lo zittì lei, distogliendo lo sguardo, - Non adesso. Forse mai. Ma sicuramente non adesso.
Jesse distolse lo sguardo a propria volta, mordendosi un labbro.
La strega avanzò di un passo.
- Guardatevi, dunque. – disse con cattiveria, - Siete tutti qui? Così pochi? E pensate di avere anche solo una misera possibilità di sconfiggere me e la mia armata? – rise, allargando le braccia e, con esse, anche il mantello, che svolazzò furiosamente nel vento che adesso spazzava il cortile con violenza, e poi tornò ad afflosciarsi lungo i suoi fianchi. Mostrando all’improvviso decine e decine di donne – amazzoni, si sarebbe detto – dai lunghi capelli blu, abbigliate negli stessi toni rossastri del mantello della strega – gli stessi toni rossastri del cielo e dell’aria e di tutto ciò che li circondava in quel momento – in attesa di un solo ordine, le labbra già piegate in un ghigno ferino e spaventoso, le lingue che ogni tanto saettavano ad inumidirle, come non vedessero l’ora di avventarsi su tutti loro per divorarli senza pietà. – È tanto di quel tempo che le mie creature non mangiano. – soggiunse la strega con un altro spaventoso ghigno, - Dovrei lasciarle attaccare?
- Dannata! – ringhiò a quel punto Burt, avanzando di un paio di passi e ponendosi coraggiosamente in testa al drappello di persone, - Perché fai tutto ciò?! Cosa mai ti ha fatto il nostro popolo di tanto malvagio, perché tu abbia tanto rancore da serbare nei nostri confronti?!
Nel momento in cui gli occhi della strega di posarono su di lui, le pupille della donna si fecero ardenti come braci, e le sue labbra si piegarono in una smorfia di disgusto. Le amazzoni schierate dietro di lei ringhiarono con maggior forza, probabilmente percependo la tensione nella loro padrona, e snudarono le zanne, mostrando denti appuntiti e scintillanti degli stessi bagliori rossastri che agitavano il cielo della tempesta sanguigna evocata dalla fattucchiera.
- Nonostante la mia magia… - disse la strega, fissando l’uomo con disgusto, - sei invecchiato, Burt.
- Cosa…? – sussurrò il principe Blaine, indietreggiando appena e lanciando un’occhiata preoccupata a messer Hummel, - Voi la… la conoscete?
- Non l’ho mai vista in vita mia! – si difese Burt, voltandosi verso gli altri e guardandoli tutti con ansietà sempre crescente. Cercò gli occhi di Kurt, e vi trovò dentro solo paura e smarrimento. – Giuro che non ho la più pallida idea di chi questa donna sia e cosa voglia da noi. – disse più dolcemente, parlando ad alta voce perché tutti potessero sentirlo ma allo stesso tempo fissando il proprio sguardo colmo di paterna tristezza solo su Kurt, e su suo fratello Finn, di fianco a lui, così che fosse chiaro che a ciò che gli altri avrebbero potuto pensare era interessato solo parzialmente, e l’unica cosa che contava davvero, per lui, era che i suoi due figli gli credessero. Entrambi annuirono, senza mai distogliere gli occhi dalla sua austera figura.
- Il fatto che tu non ricordi rende la mia rabbia solo più profonda e devastante! – ringhiò la strega, mentre fiamme apparentemente incandescenti la avvolgevano interamente, senza ferirla in alcun modo, e le sue amazzoni si scatenavano, abbaiando e ruggendo e torcendosi le dita artigliate, - Tu avevi promesso, Burt Hummel! In riva al lago, centoquindici anni fa, tu hai promesso!
- Cento… centoquindici…? – Kurt spalancò gli occhi, guardando il proprio padre con sconcerto. – Padre, cosa… - provò a chiedere, ma fu costretto a interrompersi quando vide gli occhi di Burt spalancarsi, come se un’improvvisa consapevolezza li illuminasse. Trattenne il fiato, e Finn accanto a sé fece lo stesso, e così si ritrovarono costretti a fare anche tutti gli altri quando una voce tonante dal cielo cominciò a raccontare.

La notte era placida e silenziosa, calda e umida sulla riva del lago. Burt giunse da Ovest, come sempre faceva, e Sue lo attendeva, seduta su uno dei grandi sassi che, come sedute naturali, si affiancavano nei pressi della piccola cascatella che, rotolando giù dalla montagna, faceva sì che la temperatura di quelle acque restasse sempre gelida. Abbigliata di rosso, come al solito, sedeva compostamente, le mani poggiate in grembo ed un ampio cappuccio a coprirle il capo e scivolare lungo i contorni eleganti e fieri del viso. Le sue labbra sottili erano increspate in un sorriso appena distinguibile, e Burt, come ogni notte, la trovò bellissima.
«Sei in ritardo» lo ammonì scherzosamente lei, e lui ridacchiò imbarazzato, grattandosi la nuca e prendendo posto al suo fianco, su una pietra ampia ma più bassa rispetto a quella sulla quale sedeva lei.
«I preparativi, sai…» borbottò, stringendosi nelle spalle, «Mia madre ha passato l’intera giornata a piangere» aggiunse con aria un po’ triste, «Mi ha detto che avrebbe preferito avere una figlia femmina, in modo da poterla tenere sempre con sé. Con me non può farlo, se dico che voglio viaggiare non può impedirmelo.»
«Deve infastidirti parecchio» commentò Sue con un mezzo sorriso, avvicinandoglisi di un paio di centimetri. Burt rise divertito, scuotendo il capo.
«In realtà la comprendo» confessò imbarazzato, «È questo il motivo per cui anch’io vorrei avere solo figlie femmine. In modo da non dovermene separare.»
Nel sentire quelle parole, Sue arrossì immediatamente, ma riuscì a distogliere lo sguardo abbastanza in fretta da fare in modo che Burt non lo notasse. Si schiarì la voce, fissando insistentemente gli ampi cerchi che l’acqua della cascatella generava infrangendosi sulla superficie del lago. «Parti domani, dunque» commentò, provando a celare la tristezza così evidente nella propria voce. Burt si voltò a guardarla, allungando una mano ad accarezzarle una spalla.
«Tornerò» cercò di rassicurarla con un mezzo sorriso. Lei lo ricambiò, ma senza crederci.
«Però non è questo ciò che ti preoccupa» gli disse, sorridendo con aria più furba, gli occhi chiari stretti come due fessure, eppure ancora così brillanti. «Qualcosa ti angoscia, ma non è tua madre, né la tua imminente partenza, né, ahimè, doverti separare dalla sottoscritta per intraprendere questo lungo viaggio» aggiunse in una risatina, dissimulando l’imbarazzo che provava per avere appena detto qualcosa di simile ad alta voce. Burt volle ribattere, ma non ne ebbe il tempo. «So che qualcosa c’è» disse lei, interrompendolo prima che potesse dirle alcunché a proposito di quella battuta, «Ti va di dirmi cos’è?»
Burt sospirò, abbassando lo sguardo e torcendosi le mani in grembo. «Oggi…» cominciò incerto, «Risistemavo i miei progetti e le mie carte, e… improvvisamente mi è stato tutto molto chiaro.»
«Cosa?» domandò Sue, lanciandogli un’occhiata incuriosita. Lui si strinse nelle spalle, concedendosi un mezzo sorriso.
«Io non ce la farò» rispose con rassegnazione. «I miei studi sono all’avanguardia. Troppo all’avanguardia. So già che fine faranno. Le mie macchine non saranno mai, mai comprese prima di centinaia d’anni. I miei progetti subiranno lo stesso destino di quelli del grande Da Vinci. Nessuno dei miei prototipi funziona, nessuno li comprende, i miei genitori e tutti gli accademici del paese mi trattano come fossi un pazzo visionario. Intraprendo questo viaggio sperando di trovare qualcuno, da qualche parte in questo paese, che sia disposto a credere in me e in quello che sono capace di fare, ma la realtà è che so già che questo viaggio sarà inutile. Non troverò nessuno. Semplicemente perché è impossibile che io lo trovi.»
«Via, via, adesso» lo prese in giro lei, con una risatina divertita, «Non stiamo volando un po’ troppo alti, paragonandoci a Da Vinci?»
«Volare…» quasi mugolò Burt, un debole sorriso sognante a farsi strada sulle sue labbra, «Quello sarebbe davvero il massimo. E la mia non è presunzione!» si difese, sentendosi però quasi moralmente obbligato ad abbassare lo sguardo subito dopo, «Intendo… forse sì. Forse un po’ lo è. Ma è solo perché so dove tutto ciò mi sta portando, e so che si parla di un luogo molto lontano. Un luogo che potrebbe non essere qui nemmeno in cinquecento, seicento anni! Io ho… ho solo bisogno di più tempo. Più tempo, capisci? Per vedere dove mi porteranno i miei studi.»
Sue sorrise, stringendosi nelle spalle. «Sei ancora giovane» rispose, «Hai tutto il tempo che ti serve.»
«No, non è così» scosse il capo lui, avvicinandosi a lei e stringendo le sue mani pallide e sottili fra le proprie, «La mia scienza è già parecchio avanti rispetto a quella degli altri scienziati di questo paese, ma— non è sufficiente. Non mi serve solo qualche anno in più, non sto parlando di un paio di decenni, sto parlando di… tempo. Tempo vero. Quel tempo che quando lo guardi sembra infinito, quel tempo che ce n’è sempre abbastanza. Quel tempo lì serve a me.»
Rossa in viso, la ragazza deglutì, senza allontanarsi di un passo, ed anzi, ricambiando la stretta delle sue mani con le proprie. «Cent’anni? Duecento?» deglutì ancora. I suoi occhi scintillavano. Dalle sue dita partivano tenui raggi di luce che illuminavano la radura come stelle. La superficie del lago, resa nera come la pece dalla notte inoltrata, sembrava un cielo d’estate. «Io posso darteli» annuì, «Ma tu devi promettere.»
Lui non si allontanò. Avrebbe promesso la luna a chiunque, se solo gli avessero dato abbastanza anni per imparare a raggiungerla e catturarla in una gabbia. «Dimmi cosa devo promettere, e lo prometterò.»
«Prometti…» sussurrò la ragazza, avvicinandosi a lui e bisbigliando al suo orecchio. «Prometti di sposarmi. Rimanda il viaggio di qualche giorno, sposiamoci in fretta, non ho bisogno di grandi cerimonie, non ho famiglia, non ho legami. Sposiamoci, e poi partiamo insieme. Voglio… voglio rimanerti accanto, e fare di te il mio compagno.»
Lui spalancò gli occhi e, nell’ascoltare la sua voce gentile e ciò che diceva, si lasciò sfuggire una risatina divertita. Non poteva essere che uno sciocco gioco, lei non poteva aiutarlo. Era solo una ragazzina innamorata, che per lui avrebbe fatto di tutto, ma che non poteva a conti fatti fare niente. Ma lui le avrebbe comunque promesso ciò che voleva, per ringraziarla di averlo ascoltato ed aver provato ad illuderlo che un modo per sconfiggere il tempo esistesse davvero.
Chinandosi sulle sue labbra e sfiorandole in un bacio lievissimo, promise. Rispondendo al bacio, lei suggellò la promessa, e quando si separò da lui bisbigliò poche parole. «Possa la clessidra per duecento volte girare, prima che il tuo corpo cominci ad invecchiare. Con quest’incantesimo, tempo, ti comando: al giovane che amo…» arrossì appena, «Concedi più vita, e meno affanno.»
Dovettero salutarsi celermente quando furono passati solo pochi istanti: la madre di Burt doveva essersi svegliata ed aver creduto che lui avesse deciso di partire nottetempo senza salutare nessuno, perché ovunque intorno alla villa uomini armati di lanterne stavano invocando il suo nome a gran voce. Lui pensò non fosse il caso di spaventare e rattristare ancora la sua povera madre, e baciò Sue sulle labbra in fretta e furia prima di imboccare di corsa il sentiero del ritorno.
Partì l’indomani. Non la rivide più. Nel corso del suo lungo viaggio intorno a tutto il continente ebbe modo di imparare molto, ma niente di ciò che vide sembrò aiutarlo a progredire nei suoi studi in maniera sostanziale. Venti volte le stagioni si avvicendarono, venti volte venne l’autunno con le sue piogge, e venti volte l’inverno con le sue nevi e le pelli di animali che Burt cacciava per ripararsi dal freddo; venti volte la primavera, col profumo intenso dei fiori, e venti volte l’estate, col sapore zuccherino dei suoi frutti maturi. All’alba del ventunesimo anno, Burt guardò il sole sorgere, e si sentì triste.
Recuperò i propri bagagli e si accodò alla prima carovana diretta verso Nord-Est. L’odore di casa, dei campi coltivati, della cucina di famiglia, dell’aia, del cortile, della stalla, del lago, delle colline ricoperte di fiori, si faceva più forte giorno dopo giorno, e Burt sentì per la prima volta da quando era partito il bisogno di piangere quando vide finalmente apparire all’orizzonte i contorni della grande villa che era appartenuta agli Hummel per generazioni. Avrebbe continuato a lavorare sui suoi macchinari a tempo perso, era ora di prendere il suo giusto posto nel mondo. Probabilmente, non era quello il suo destino. Doveva accettarlo, per quanto doloroso fosse.
Sua madre lo attendeva seduta sulla poltrona che era stata di suo padre, in salotto. Le mani in grembo, il viso bianco e pallido ricoperto di dolci rughe, i capelli candidi a scivolare in ciocche ordinate fuori dalla cuffietta da notte. Sorrideva come se sapesse esattamente che lui sarebbe tornato proprio quella sera.
Si alzò, e Burt le corse incontro perché dovesse fare meno strada. «Figlio» lo salutò lei, accarezzandogli una guancia, «Non sei cambiato affatto.»
Morì pochi giorni dopo. Ancora frastornato, dopo il funerale, Burt convocò gli abitanti della villa, ed assicurò loro che né lì né nel feudo sarebbe cambiato qualcosa.
«Qualcosa, però, è cambiato, mentre voi non c’eravate, signore» disse qualcuno. Non nascevano più bambine. Non era nata una sola femmina negli ultimi vent’anni, e gli abitanti avevano escluso che dovesse trattarsi di un problema di fertilità, perché di maschi continuavano a nascerne a iosa.
Burt non avrebbe mai avuto una figlia.
Non pensò mai a prendere moglie. Chiese solo una volta se qualcuno avesse notizie della donzella sempre vestita di rosso con la quale soleva accompagnarsi negli anni della sua gioventù. Ma nessuno seppe rispondergli, e dopo un po’ Burt smise perfino di pensarci.

- Ma io non ho mai smesso. – disse la strega quando la voce rombante smise di raccontare. I suoi occhi erano gelidi e immobili, fissi sulla figura di Burt, attorno alla quale s’era formato uno spazio via via sempre più grande, man mano che tutti gli abitanti della villa si andavano allontanando da lui, ascoltando il racconto dipanarsi una battuta dopo l’altra. – Dopo la tua partenza, avendo capito quanto poco fosse valsa la tua promessa, sono tornata nel folto della foresta, al luogo al quale appartenevo. E ho lanciato la mia maledizione sul tuo paese. Nel caso tu fossi mai tornato a casa, tutte le belle figlie che volevi non le avresti mai avute. Nessuno le avrebbe mai avute. E sarebbe stata solo tua la colpa!
- Sue… - provò Burt, avvicinandosi di un passo, la mano tesa verso di lei mentre le amazzoni ringhiavano e strepitavano sul posto, come fossero trattenute da catene invisibili, - Io pensavo che fossero solo le fantasie di una ragazzina! Sono uno scienziato, non ho mai creduto nella magia! Come potevo sapere che—
- Non era importante che tu sapessi! – lo interruppe lei, ringhiando tanto forte da far tremare la terra, mentre le amazzoni si avventavano su di lui e poi tornavano ad indietreggiare e ruggire frustrate, come se lo scoppio d’ira di Sue le avesse liberate dalle invisibili catene che le tenevano bloccate, e poi, una volta placatosi, le avesse obbligate a fermarsi ancora. – Era una promessa! Che io fossi una strega o meno, che la mia magia funzionasse rendendoti più longevo o meno, avresti dovuto mantenerla! E invece non ti è mai importato, mi hai dimenticata! – inspirò ed espirò a fatica, calmandosi mentre le nubi in cielo si scurivano sempre di più, come fossero pronte a esplodere in una pioggia di sangue. – Ma ormai non importa più. – concluse in un breve sorriso cattivo, - Ora tu morirai, e con te tutta la tua famiglia e tutta la tua gente. Io e le mie bestie metteremo a ferro e fuoco il feudo e niente resterà più anche solo a ricordare la tua esistenza e il tuo passaggio su questo mondo! Preparati, Burt Hu—
- Abbiamo finito? – la interruppe Van Schuester, frapponendosi fra lei e l’uomo, - Possiamo passare oltre, al momento in cui ti sconfiggo e brucio il tuo corpo di modo che tu possa fare la stessa fine di tutte quelle della tua razza?
- Ma guarda un po’… - sorrise la strega, imperturbabile, incrociando le braccia sul petto e picchiettandosi con due dita sull’interno del gomito, - Un altro ficcanaso. Credevo che le mie due altre creature sarebbero state sufficienti a distrarre la compagnia a sufficienza perché nessuno mi scoprisse… a questo proposito, principe Blaine, giovane Finn, avete gradito i miei doni? – ridacchiò, disegnando un cerchio nell’aria con entrambe le mani ed evocando due evanescenti figure in tutto e per tutto somiglianti a Quinn e Jeremiah, - Sono così dispiaciuta che il mio perfetto incantesimo di ipnosi abbia funzionato al punto da distruggere la relazione che avevate con le due persone di cui eravate davvero innamorati. – disse, fingendo contrizione, - Oh, ma cosa dico. – rise quindi, scrollando le spalle, - Non mi dispiace per niente. Ma fossi in voi, giovani signori, - aggiunse in un ghigno, - non mi sentirei troppo in colpa. Mentre voi vi dibattevate inconsapevolmente in balia del mio incantesimo, i vostri innamorati… - sghignazzò, disegnando figure invisibili nell’aria mentre due fili di magia evanescente apparivano in mezzo alla folla, - erano bene impegnati a dimenticarsi di voi il più in fretta possibile. – concluse, mentre uno dei due nastri avvolgeva per un istante Kurt e Dave per poi dileguarsi, ed il secondo faceva lo stesso con Rachel e col principe Jesse, scomparendo subito nel crepitio delle gocce di pioggia rossastra che aveva cominciato finalmente a cadere dal cielo. – È questo che succede con l’amore. – riprese cupa, allargando entrambe le braccia ai lati del corpo, - Ti strappa il cuore, e poi lo porta via con sé, solo per gettarlo in un fosso e perderne ogni ricordo. – i suoi occhi divennero neri come la pece, mentre chiudeva un’altra volta le braccia, prima di urlare, - Andate, bambine! – liberando una volta per tutte le amazzoni dalle loro catene invisibili, e lasciandole finalmente libere di piombare sulla folla con ruggiti terrificanti ed urla raccapriccianti.
- Dannazione. – ringhiò a propria volta Van Schuester, - Emma!
La donna annuì, sollevando le braccia.
- Escudo! – urlò, battendo le mani in aria e poi allargandole progressivamente ai lati del proprio corpo, mentre, quasi seguendo il movimento delle sue braccia, sopra di loro si creava una barriera magica protettiva contro la quale le amazzoni andarono a schiantarsi una dopo l’altra, finendo sbalzate all’indietro e stordite per qualche secondo, prima di riprendere ad attaccarla con pugni, calci, morsi e unghiate. – Will… - mormorò la giovane strega, concentrando tutti i propri sforzi nel tentativo di fortificare la barriera, - Non reggerà a lungo…
Van Schuester annuì, voltandosi verso gli altri. Si trattava di poco più di un mucchietto sparuto di persone, nessuna delle quali aveva la più pallida idea dell’enorme disastro che si profilava davanti ai loro occhi. La strega stava modificando lo spazio attorno a loro, manipolando anche il clima di quella campagna, e naturalmente attentando a tutte le loro vite. Dovevano fare qualcosa, e dovevano farla al più presto.
- D’accordo. Tu. – disse risoluto, indicando il principe Blaine, - Tu. – proseguì, indicando anche Finn, - E… tu. – concluse, indicando Dave, - Ascoltatemi attentamente. Quelle bestie là fuori, - spiegò, accennando alle amazzoni ancora intente a lanciarsi ripetutamente contro la barriera, nel tentativo di aprirla, - non sono magiche. Sono demoni, la strega li ha evocati, ma non posseggono energia magica, sono solo animali affamati di sangue. Per questo motivo, appena la barriera crollerà, perché crollerà, questo è certo, voi dovrete prendere tutti gli inermi e condurli in un luogo sicuro, e combattere per proteggerli.
- Possiamo farlo. – annuì Blaine, - Siamo armati.
- No! – interloquì Kurt, aggrappandosi al braccio di Dave, - Lui non lo è!
- Posso combattere, Kurt. – ribatté l’uomo, scostandosi da lui con gentilezza, ma anche con decisione, - Ho solo bisogno di una spada. – continuò, voltandosi a guardare Blaine. Il principe scrutò prima lui e poi le mani di Kurt, ancora poggiate sul suo avambraccio, e deglutì.
- D’accordo. – rispose, - Ci serve una spada.
- Prendete quella del signor Hummel. – risolse per loro Van Schuester, e Burt portò istantaneamente una mano all’elsa della propria arma.
- Cosa? No! – protestò, sulla difensiva, - Voglio combattere. Tutto questo è successo per causa mia, e—
- Oh, combatterete, signore, non preoccupatevi. – tagliò corto Van Schuester, avvicinandoglisi in un paio di passi e privandolo della propria spada con tutta la fodera, per poi consegnarla a Dave, - Solo, non con quest’arma. Avete qualcosa di ben più potente ed efficace da usare contro quella strega. Voi, - disse, - e voi, anche, - continuò, accennando a Rachel e Jesse, - Non andrete con gli altri. Avrò bisogno del vostro aiuto contro la strega, non contro i demoni.
- Signore, non c’è niente che io possa fare per aiutarvi. – abbassò lo sguardo Rachel, torcendosi le mani, - Non so nemmeno se sono in grado di utilizzare i miei… poteri. Li sento agitarsi dentro di me, ma è come se provenissero da qualcun altro. Non li sento miei.
Van Schuester la fissò, senza neanche cercare di nascondere il proprio disappunto.
- Questo è semplicemente logico e normale. – sbottò, infastidito da una tale palese ignoranza, - Generalmente, le giovani streghe vengono risvegliate da una scintilla di potere delle loro madri quando raggiungono l’età della maturazione completa, intorno ai quattordici anni. Voi, signorina, avete superato quell’età da un pezzo, e per di più a risvegliarvi non è stata vostra madre, dal momento che evidentemente non ne ha avuto il tempo, per cui è perfettamente ovvio che voi non sentiate il potere che vi scorre in corpo come qualcosa di vostro. Ciononostante, - aggiunse, - quel potere c’è, e ci è necessario, se vogliamo sconfiggere quella strega. L’alternativa è non fare niente e lasciarci ammazzare, e se permettete non sono disposto a considerarla come valida.
- Non mi sembra il caso di parlarle a questo modo, signore. – si intromise Jesse, aggrottando le sopracciglia. Van Schuester si voltò a guardarlo con aria profondamente disgustata.
- Non so se qualcuno di voi l’ha notato, - cominciò con piglio severo, - ma qui siamo tutti in pericolo di vita. La mia compagna – disse, indicando Emma, - sta tenendo in piedi una barriera da sola contro un’orda di demoni inferociti, e quando quella barriera sarà crollata non ci sarà più niente a proteggerci. La nostra unica speranza è unire le nostre forze, proteggere i più deboli e cercare di sconfiggere la strega. Per questo motivo… - tornò a guardare Rachel, - ho bisogno che voi scegliate il vostro compagno, giovane strega. Dovete condividere i vostri poteri con lui. La condivisione rende la strega più forte, e arma il compagno a sufficienza per renderlo pericoloso in battaglia. Usualmente, non si tratta di una scelta che possa essere forzata, ma capite bene che…
- Un attimo, un attimo soltanto! – protestò Finn, pinzandosi la radice del naso, - Volete forse dire che… intendo, non vorrete mica obbligarla a prendere una decisione simile nel giro di così pochi minuti?! Tutta la sua vita potrebbe dipenderne!
- La sua vita ne dipenderà sicuramente, se non la prende! – insistette Van Schuester, gesticolando animatamente, - Io ed Emma non possiamo contrastare la potenza di quella strega da soli! Credete forse che tutte le streghe siano in grado di evocare demoni dall’inferno o cambiare la pioggia in sangue?! Siamo di fronte ad un esemplare di una potenza inaudita, reso ancora più potente dal risentimento covato nel corso dell’ultimo secolo! Abbiamo bisogno di lei!
- Ma non potete costringerla a—
- Basta! – li interruppe Rachel, alzando la voce al punto che tutti la sentirono rombare all’interno della bolla formata dalla barriera protettiva. La ragazza si voltò verso Finn, scrutandolo con occhi privi di emozione. – Signore, qualunque sia la mia scelta, state pure sicuro che voi non ne sarete coinvolto. – si sforzò di sorridere, avvicinandosi a lui e sollevando un braccio per accarezzargli una guancia, - Finn, noi non eravamo niente. – disse piano, - Eravamo solo convenienti. Semplici. Voi non volete nemmeno rimanere in questo luogo, ed io non vi appartengo. Non vi sono mai appartenuta, e non apparterrò mai a nessuno. Il principe Jesse ha ragione, quando dice che io non sono fatta per questi luoghi, per questa terra, o per essere una maestra di canto. Non sono mai stata quel tipo di donna, ed ora so anche perché.
- Finalmente sento qualcuno parlare con un po’ di senno. – sbottò Van Schuester, - Dunque è quest’uomo, la vostra scelta? – chiese, indicando Jesse con un cenno del capo. Rachel lo guardò, e poi tornò a fissare Van Schuester.
- Combatterò da sola, signore. – disse con fierezza, - Lasciate che il principe aiuti a proteggere i più deboli.
- Questa è una sciocchezza. – quasi ringhiò il cacciatore, stringendo i pugni lungo i fianchi.
- È la mia ultima parola. – ribadì lei con un mezzo sorriso, e Van Schuester sospirò.
- Sta bene. – cedette, - Voi, unitevi agli altri. Prendete con voi le donne e i ragazzi, ed allontanatevi il più possibile. Trovate un riparo, e presidiatene gli ingressi. Noi cercheremo di fare in modo che la battaglia possa durare meno a lungo possibile. – aspettò un cenno d’intesa da parte dei due principi e di Finn e Dave, prima di voltarsi a cercare la sua compagna. – Emma, - la chiamò, - lasciala andare!
La strega annuì, e con un gemito di sollievo e dolore abbassò finalmente le braccia, lasciando la barriera infrangersi sotto i colpi delle amazzoni affamate, che si lanciarono immediatamente su di loro.
- Andiamo! – gridò il principe Blaine, stringendo la propria spada fra le mani e parando l’attacco di un demone, - Raggruppate gli altri, scappate verso la stalla!
- Principe Blaine! – gridò Kurt, - Alla vostra sinistra!
- Cosa? – ringhiò lui, a stento in grado di controbattere ai furiosi attacchi dell’amazzone che aveva di fronte, - Dannazione!
- Dave! – chiamò Kurt, ma quando si voltò a cercare lo stalliere al proprio fianco non lo trovò. Si era già lanciato al fianco del principe Blaine, brandendo la spada appena in tempo per parare l’attacco della seconda amazzone.
- Voi avete salvato la mia vita. – disse, combattendo col principe spalla contro spalla, - Adesso siamo pari.
Il principe Blaine lo guardò incerto per qualche secondo, e poi un breve sorriso gli affiorò alle labbra, e lui annuì.
- Coraggio, - incitò Kurt, rivolgendosi a Finn ed al principe Jesse, - andiamo verso la stalla!
I due uomini annuirono, e mentre Jesse si lanciava in avanti, attirando parecchi demoni e trafiggendoli uno dopo l’altro, Finn raccolse il gruppo, si assicurò che fossero tutti presenti e poi li guidò tutti assieme verso l’entrata della stalla.
- Kurt, una volta dentro, controllate le finestre e le aperture, e cercate di chiuderle. – disse. Suo fratello annuì, restando in disparte per far sì che tutti gli abitanti della villa potessero rifugiarsi all’interno dell’edificio, per ripararsi dagli attacchi dei demoni e da quelle gocce di pioggia rosse come sangue che continuavano a piovere dal cielo. Fece per entrare quando si accorse che erano tutti già passati, ma Finn lo fermò, arpionandolo per un braccio, e Kurt si voltò nuovamente a guardarlo. – Mi… mi dispiace che le cose siano andate così. – sospirò, - Forse, se vi fossi stato maggiormente vicino…
Kurt sorrise dolcemente, allungando una mano ad accarezzargli il viso.
- Non è stata colpa vostra. – lo rassicurò in un sospiro, - È accaduto ciò che doveva accadere. Non datevi pena, sarebbe accaduto anche se mi foste rimasto accanto per tutto il tempo. – concluse, prima di correre dentro la stalla ad aiutare gli altri nella fortificazione dell’edificio.
Finn abbassò lo sguardo e sospirò profondamente. Non aveva mai pensato ad una carezza come ad un addio, eppure, nel giro di pochi minuti, era già successo due volte che dovesse prendere atto di quel secondo significato nascosto di un gesto tanto semplice e dolce.
- Finn! Arriviamo! – lo avvisò il principe Blaine dalla distanza, e lui non poté fare altro che riscuotersi dai suoi pensieri.
- Sono pronto! – rispose, impugnando saldamente la spada e parandosi di fronte all’entrata della stalla mentre Blaine e Dave si sistemavano al suo fianco, da un lato e dall’altro, e Jesse continuava ad attirare l’attenzione di alcuni demoni lontano da quel punto, - Da qui non passerà nessuno. – sentenziò cupamente, lanciandosi all’attacco di una delle amazzoni.
Dave e Blaine rimasero a presidiare l’ingresso, respingendo gli attacchi uno dopo l’altro e pregando che la strega venisse sconfitta il più in fretta possibile. Erano già stremati, mentre le amazzoni continuavano ad attaccare come non sentissero alcuna fatica, e – cosa ancora più preoccupante – il loro numero continuava ad aumentare indipendentemente da quante loro riuscissero a sconfiggerne. Continuando di questo passo, non avrebbero resistito ancora a lungo.
Van Schuester sollevò entrambe le braccia, scagliando palle di fuoco contro le amazzoni che continuavano ad attaccarlo. Emma, impegnata a proteggere quanto più poteva l’indifeso signor Hummel, e al contempo a respingere gli attacchi delle altre amazzoni, non poteva aiutarlo. Quella giovane, Rachel, faceva il possibile per dare una mano, ma i suoi poteri erano ancora deboli, ed ella stessa non sembrava in grado di controllarli come avrebbe voluto e come sarebbe stato più utile per tutti che imparasse a fare. Sciocca, cocciuta ragazza. Avrebbe avuto bisogno di così poco, per rinforzarsi… e quella strega restava immobile, sollevata in aria di un paio di metri, ridendo e scagliando incantesimi contro i campi, contro il lago, contro il cielo, bruciando gli uni, prosciugando l’altro e ferendo a morte l’ultimo, e non c’era niente che loro potessero fare per impedirglielo. Era troppo forte. Non avevano speranza.
- Maledetta… - ringhiò fra i denti, scagliando lontano due amazzoni con la forza delle proprie braccia, e chinandosi appena in tempo per evitare le due stalattiti di ghiaccio che Emma aveva creato con la propria magia e poi lanciato contro di loro. Le trafissero nel mezzo del petto, ed entrambi i demoni crollarono a terra dopo un urlo disumano, apparentemente senza vita, solo per rialzarsi subito dopo, quando entrambe le stalattiti si furono disciolte a causa del calore insopportabile che ormai avvinceva l’intera zona in un soffocante abbraccio di morte.
- Sembra che non possiate niente, contro le mie creature. – rise malvagia la strega, appiccando un incendio ad un boschetto nelle vicinanze, - E naturalmente non potete nulla contro di me. Arrendetevi al vostro destino! Consegnatevi nelle mie mani e ai più forti di voi sarà concesso di vivere come miei servi, mentre sarò tanto magnanima da infliggere una morte solo moderatamente dolorosa a tutti gli altri!
- Mai! – urlò Van Schuester, giungendo le mani per creare un’enorme palla di fuoco da scagliarle contro. La strega non ebbe neanche bisogno di evitarla: le bastò sollevare un braccio per estinguerla ben prima che arrivasse anche solo a bruciacchiarle l’orlo del mantello.
- Non stiamo progredendo. – commentò Emma, affaticata, lanciando un fulmine di luce contro un’amazzone pronta a saltare addosso a Rachel.
- Grazie, Emma, senza di te non me ne sarei mai accorto. – borbottò Van Schuester, inarcando un sopracciglio e finendo a rotolare lateralmente quando un demone gli si lanciò contro da dietro un mucchio di fieno. – Maledetto mostro— - ringhiò, cercando di trattenere le fauci e gli artigli della creatura lontani dal suo corpo, resistendo appena a sufficienza da permettere a Rachel di strillare terrorizzata e generare con la propria voce un’onda sonora che sbalzò via la creatura, stordendola per qualche minuto. – Dannazione. Moriremo tutti. Come se la cava la linea difensiva davanti alle stalle? – gridò, voltandosi e cercando il principe Blaine con lo sguardo.
- Teniamo! – rispose lui, tranciando con la propria spada il braccio di un demone dopo una mezza piroetta, - Ma non potremo farcela a lungo! Bisogna fermare la strega!
- Certo! – grugnì Van Schuester, afferrando un’amazzone per un polso e rigirandoglielo dietro la schiena, in modo da bloccarla abbastanza a lungo da poterle afferrare la testa con un braccio e torcergliela di netto, spezzandole il collo, - Continuate tutti a ricordarmi ovvietà di cui sono già perfettamente a conoscenza! È proprio quello che mi serve, in una situazione come questa! – soffiò imbestialito. L’amazzone cadde a terra senza vita, e pochi minuti dopo si risollevò in piedi, senza neanche darsi pena di rimettere a posto il collo, prima di avventarsi contro Rachel, che la tenne lontana con un altro strillo dei suoi. Sembrava che quella fosse la sua peculiarità, il suo potere speciale, ma per tutti gli dei del creato e per tutte le forze mistiche dell’universo, andava perfezionata. – Rachel, piantatela una buona volta di strillare a caso ed ascoltatemi. – cominciò con piglio severo, scaricando fulmini crepitanti di elettricità sulle amazzoni che lo circondavano ogni paio di minuti, - Ho capito che non avete la benché minima intenzione di seguire i miei consigli e condividere i vostri poteri con qualcuno, ma qui stiamo solo perdendo tempo prezioso, e se non ci sbrighiamo a fare qualcosa quella donna e le sue maledette arpie faranno strage di noi tutti. – Rachel gli lanciò un’occhiata colma di terror panico, e Van Schuester annuì. – Bene, adesso che ho la vostra attenzione, ho bisogno che voi vi… - si interruppe per scansare l’attacco di un’amazzone ed utilizzare la forza con la quale essa gli si era avventata addosso per mandarla a sbattere contro un carretto pieno di cereali dietro di sé, - …vi avviciniate ad Emma, e vi concentriate. Lei vi spiegherà cosa fare. – concluse, per poi rivolgersi alla propria compagna ed indirizzarle un cenno d’intesa, al quale lei rispose annuendo determinata, liberandosi delle due amazzoni che l’assillavano per portarsi più vicina a Rachel, e poggiare le proprie mani sulle sue spalle.
- So che al momento percepisci l’energia dentro di te come una massa confusa e indomabile, - le sussurrò, sorridendo comprensiva, - ma chiudi gli occhi e prova a focalizzarla. Immaginala come una cosa fisica, se pensi che possa aiutarti. Tu canti, vero? – Rachel annuì incerta, mordicchiandosi il labbro inferiore. – Bene. – sorrise Emma, più convinta, - Allora pensala come se fosse una voce. Una voce interiore. Chiudi gli occhi e prova ad ascoltarla.
- Ma… - provò Rachel, - Non posso chiudere gli occhi, in mezzo alla battaglia…
- Siamo protette. – le sorrise Emma, rassicurante, - Ho creato una barriera, e Will ci sta proteggendo da fuori. Non preoccuparti. Ora, chiudi gli occhi. – sussurrò, sorridendo compiaciuta quando vide Rachel obbedire. – Senti come ti chiama dalle profondità della tua mente? Da luoghi della tua coscienza ancora inesplorati, che non credevi neanche di contenere dentro di te? Ti sta chiamando perché è tua, vuole che tu la riconosca.
- Non c’è… - aggrottò le sopracciglia Rachel, scuotendo il capo, - Non vedo niente…
- Non devi vedere. – sorrise ancora Emma, stringendo le sue spalle con più calore ed aiutandola con un’altra scintilla della propria magia, - Devi sentire. – sussurrò, e nel momento in cui lo disse Rachel spalancò gli occhi e sollevò il capo, e un gemito piccolissimo le si dischiuse sulle labbra mentre la sua pelle si illuminava appena, come bagnata dalla luce fioca e tremula di una candela.
- La sento… - mormorò confusamente, - Batte nelle mie vene col ritmo di un tamburo di guerra.
Emma sorrise soddisfatta, allontanandosi di un passo.
- Adesso abbasserò la barriera, Rachel, e nel momento in cui sentirai la mia energia smettere di proteggerci tu dovrai concentrarti al massimo delle tue forze e raccogliere tutta la magia di cui sei capace focalizzandola in un unico punto, ed indirizzandola contro la strega. L’incantesimo è un incantesimo basilare di prigionia, non avrai problemi a portarlo a termine. – sorrise con maggiore convinzione, cercando di spazzare via i dubbi che si agitavano sul fondo scuro degli occhi di Rachel. – Non è necessario che tu pronunci una formula, la tua magia sa ciò che vuoi da lei. – concluse, facendole l’occhiolino. – Adesso, mi raccomando. Abbasso la barriera e corro dal signor Hummel a spiegargli cosa deve fare. Tu fai subito come ti ho detto, niente esitazioni, eh! – precisò per l’ultima volta, mentre Rachel, più confusa che persuasa, annuiva freneticamente.
Non perse tempo a fare ciò che aveva detto: dissolse la barriera con un rapido cenno della mano e si precipitò al fianco del signore del feudo, ergendone immediatamente un’altra attorno a loro e prendendosi qualche secondo per osservare con evidente soddisfazione Rachel strizzare gli occhi e poi lanciare un grido quasi disperato, mentre un fascio di luce abbagliante si sprigionava dal centro del suo petto, diretto verso la strega. Le sarebbe piaciuto poter portare con sé quella ragazza. Istruirla secondo la sua vera natura, aiutarla nel lungo cammino che avrebbe fatto di lei una vera strega. Ma non era quello il suo destino. E, in ogni caso, in quel momento aveva un compito ben più urgente da svolgere.
- Signor signore del feudo, - sorrise amabile, - adesso mi ascolti attentamente.
Van Schuester osservò con attenzione Emma muoversi velocemente da un lato all’altro del campo di battaglia, creando bolle protettive prima attorno a se stessa ed a Rachel, e poi attorno a se stessa e al signor Hummel. La sua attenzione venne immediatamente calamitata dalla giovane quando, una volta libera dalla protezione di Emma, si ritrovò da sola, ferma in mezzo al cortile, le braccia lievemente larghe rispetto al corpo e gli occhi apparentemente vuoti, brillanti però di una luce sinistra, quasi cattiva. Van Schuester sorrise: questo era ciò che faceva delle streghe le creature più forti al mondo, quella loro crudeltà di fondo che risiedeva nella negatività essenziale della loro magia.
La loro negatività di base era però anche il loro limite. Una strega puramente malvagia non sarebbe mai stata forte quanto una strega che, invece, aveva conosciuto la luce. In sostanza, una strega che si fosse, almeno una volta nella propria vita, innamorata. E che avesse deciso di condividere il proprio potere con un compagno. Quello era il passo che rendeva le streghe forti al massimo del loro potenziale, lasciare entrare un po’ di luce nella loro anima permetteva loro di esplodere come stelle.
Ironicamente, era anche ciò che le rendeva vulnerabili.
Van Schuester sorrise. La strega che avevano di fronte era fortissima, ma aveva conosciuto l’amore. E sarebbe stato quell’insignificante dettaglio a distruggerla.
- Rachel! – gridò, - Tutta la vostra energia! Concentratela sulla strega!
Rachel non parve nemmeno sentirlo, ma il grido che nacque sulle sue labbra e il fascio di luce che si generò dal suo petto furono risposte sufficienti. Van Schuester osservò quella luce raggiungere la strega trapassando con violenza ogni sua difesa, ed osservò la strega strabuzzare gli occhi quando quella stessa luce assunse forma fisica, girando attorno a lei due volte e poi stringendosi attorno alle sue spalle e alle sue braccia come una corda.
- Cosa… cosa diamine sta succedendo?! – strillò, e Van Schuester sorrise ancora.
- Bene. Bene! – esultò entusiasta, generando a propria volta un fascio di luce, giungendo le mani all’altezza del petto, - Ci siamo.
Il suo fascio di luce, più ampio e veloce di quello generato da Rachel, si affrettò ad allacciarsi anch’esso attorno al corpo della strega, la quale rispose con un ringhio furioso, provocando nelle amazzoni una furia anche maggiore. Quando anche il raggio di luce generato da Emma – che nel mentre doveva aver spiegato al signor Hummel cosa fare – fu avvolto attorno a lei, Van Schuester si concesse di sperare che quella battaglia sarebbe finita presto.
Fu un errore.
Lanciando un grido di dolore e frustrazione, la strega si rannicchiò per un secondo come in posizione fetale, e quando tornò a raddrizzarsi spalancò entrambe le braccia, spezzando i fasci di luce che la tenevano prigioniera e che scomparvero il secondo successivo. Ansimante, bruciacchiata, provata, ma ancora indubitabilmente forte, lanciò uno sguardo di trionfo ed un sorriso cattivo in direzione di Van Schuester.
- Non siete forti abbastanza. – gracchiò, - La streghetta non è forte abbastanza. – precisò con una mezza risata, indicando Rachel, la quale, ritornata in sé e tremendamente indebolita dall’uso massiccio che aveva fatto della propria energia senza sapere bene come controllarla, indietreggiò terrorizzata. – Faccio fuori lei, - considerò la strega, - e non avrete più speranze.
Attorno all’estremità del suo dito indice, quello puntato contro Rachel, andò formandosi un cerchio di fuoco, che si fece via via sempre più grande, sempre più grande e minaccioso.
- No! – urlò Van Schuester, capendo ciò che la strega aveva intenzione di fare. Debole com’era, Rachel non avrebbe saputo come difendersi, ed in ogni caso non era istruita abbastanza da sapere come lanciare un incantesimo di protezione, e sia lui che Emma erano troppo lontani per provare a frapporsi fra lei e l’incantesimo di fuoco che la strega lanciò subito dopo.
Van Schuester ebbe appena modo di muovere un passo, prima che l’incantesimo giungesse a destinazione, schiantandosi a terra e appiccando un incendio al covone di paglia poco distante.
Quando riaprì gli occhi, aggrottò le sopracciglia.
Il cadavere. Non c’era.
- Rachel. – disse il principe Jesse, accarezzandole una guancia, - State bene?
- È viva! – gridò Van Schuester, individuando i due giovani avvinghiati per terra poco lontano. Il principe, decisamente più vicino rispetto a loro, doveva essersi liberato del demone contro il quale stava combattendo, e doveva anche essersi lanciato sulla ragazza, allontanandola dal luogo dell’impatto. La sua camicia era bruciata in più punti, specie nel centro esatto della schiena. Non doveva essere uscito completamente illeso dallo scontro.
- Principe Jesse. – boccheggiò Rachel, spalancando gli occhi e rendendosi conto di quanto era successo, - Siete ferito!
- Ma voi siete viva. – sorrise lui, rotolando giù dal suo corpo ed accasciandosi a terra con un gemito gonfio di dolore, - È ciò che importa. Ora abbiamo ancora una speranza.
Emma gli si precipitò accanto, stringendogli una mano e chiudendo gli occhi.
- È stato colpito gravemente. – disse poi, rivolgendosi alla ragazza, - La sua energia vitale è stata compromessa.
- Che sciocchezza… - ansimò il principe, agitando la mano libera, - È solo una ferita superficiale.
- La ferita lo è, - annuì Emma, aggrottando le sopracciglia, - ma la forza degli incantesimi non risiede nel dolore fisico che procurano, ma nell’uso che fanno dell’energia di chi li scaglia e di chi li assorbe. È una questione di bilanciamento, ed un alchimista come voi dovrebbe saperlo. – concluse severamente, voltandosi a guardare Rachel. – L’energia del principe non è più bilanciata. Il suo corpo è invaso dalla magia nera, e non può reggere ancora a lungo.
Rachel le ricambiò lo sguardo, mordendosi il labbro inferiore.
- Cosa posso fare? – domandò quindi, la voce tremula.
- Cosa puoi fare, già lo sai. – rispose Emma, sorridendo debolmente.
Rachel si irrigidì per qualche secondo, fissandola con paura e incertezza per un tempo che sembrò lunghissimo, prima di abbassare nuovamente lo sguardo sul principe Jesse. Ansimava pericolosamente, il petto che si sollevava e si abbassava con fatica sempre maggiore sotto la camicia bruciacchiata, i capelli scomposti appiccicati alla fronte dal sudore e dal sangue. Ne scacciò via una ciocca, accarezzandogli una tempia. E poi gli sorrise.
- No… - mormorò la strega, indietreggiando appena quando vide il cacciatore, la sua compagna, la giovane strega e colui che era appena diventato il suo compagno avanzare risolutamente verso di lei, - No, questo è… no.
- È finita, strega. – ruggì Van Schuester, - Adesso siamo forti abbastanza. Preparati.
- No! – gridò ancora lei, sollevando le braccia per evocare un altro incantesimo di fuoco, mentre tutte le sue amazzoni lanciavano un devastante urlo di guerra e si avventavano sulle loro vittime con maggior foga.
Il principe Blaine e i suoi cavalieri ne circondarono un gruppo, trapassandole da parte a parte con le loro spade. Finn si lanciò con tutto il proprio corpo contro un’amazzone ormai pronta a irrompere all’interno della stalla, caricandola con forza fino a rispedirla indietro di un paio di metri. Dave ruggì con forza, afferrando per le caviglie un demone che stava già arrampicandosi lungo la parete della stalla per entrare dal tetto, e le spezzò le ginocchia con le proprie mani, prima di calciarla lontano.
- Non possiamo farcela. – ansimò, appoggiandosi alla parete per non cadere a terra in ginocchio, - Non abbiamo più forze. Van Schuester! – urlò, cercando con gli occhi il cacciatore, - Se la strega non muore… - ma dovette interrompersi, schiudendo le labbra in un’espressione di pura meraviglia quando vide quattro fasci identici di luce bianca sprigionarsi dal centro dei petti dei quattro impegnati a fronteggiare la strega. Come fulmini, attraversarono lo spazio fino al corpo della donna, chiudendosi attorno a lei con la violenza rabbiosa di una tenaglia e imprigionandola. La strega si dibatté, ringhiando e urlando, mentre gli attacchi delle amazzoni si facevano sempre più confusi e furiosi, ora che l’esercito di demoni stava perdendo la lucidità di chi li aveva evocati.
- Hummel! – gridò Van Schuester, - È il vostro momento!
Il signor Hummel, rimasto fino a quell’istante nascosto all’interno di una bolla generata da Emma, si fece avanti, mentre l’incantesimo di protezione attorno a lui si dissolveva. Inspirò ed espirò profondamente, irrigidendo le braccia lungo i fianchi e stringendo convulsamente i pugni.
- La tua magia, strega… - pronunciò a bassa voce, in un ringhio sommesso, - Io la rifiuto! – aggiunse in un grido più forte, ed il tempo sembrò fermarsi per un istante mentre la sua rabbia diventava magia, prendeva forma in una sfera di energia rosso sangue, e poi si lanciava contro la strega, colpendola all’improvviso.
La donna lanciò un grido straziante, gettando indietro il capo, il corpo squassato dalle fitte di dolore.
- Maledetti! – gridò, mentre le sue amazzoni si accasciavano per terra una dopo l’altra, in preda a convulsioni violentissime, per poi sparire senza lasciare la minima traccia. – Maledetti! Io vi maledico! – e mentre il suo corpo prendeva fuoco dall’interno, mentre gli occhi all’interno delle sue orbite si scioglievano e colavano via, mentre i suoi capelli si riducevano in polvere ed ogni fibra del suo corpo si anneriva, devastata dalla potenza della propria magia rifiutata che tornava indietro per distruggerla, trovò la forza di pronunciare un ultimo, tremendo incantesimo. – Giunone, Giunone, siimi vicina, mentre di Madre Natura inverto il ciclo, meschina. Ciò che un tempo aveste, e tolto vi fu, torni adesso ove al maschio fa male di più!
Quando tutto fu finito, restò solo l’eco della sua voce, ed un mucchietto di ceneri dove un tempo era stato il suo corpo. Il vento furioso della notte, tornata scura dopo la sua morte, portò via entrambe le cose nel giro di pochi istanti.
- È già nato? – strillò Finn, irrompendo nell’anticamera che introduceva alla stanza del fratello e spalancando la porta senza la minima grazia, ricevendo in cambio un colpo di asciugamano bagnato in faccia da parte di Santana. Era ancora avvolto nel proprio impolveratissimo mantello da viaggio, essendo rientrato appena in tempo dopo aver ricevuto la lettera recapitata dal messo che l’aveva trovato a cavalcare lungo la costa orientale del continente, recante l’informazione della gravidanza del fratello ormai giunta quasi a compimento.
- Chi dovrebbe essere nato? – domandò Brittany, e Finn, massaggiandosi il viso, la fissò con aria incerta.
- Ma come chi? Il bambino! – rispose con ovvietà, allargando le braccia ai lati del corpo.
- Quale bambino? – insistette Brittany, e Finn lasciò andare un suono frustrato, mentre Santana interveniva in sua difesa, pinzandosi la radice del naso.
- Il signor Finn usa la parola “bambino” per intendere “neonato”, Britt. Parla della bambina del signorino Kurt. – rispose. Finn spalancò gli occhi, e poi le sue labbra si dischiusero in un sorriso ebete.
- È davvero femmina! – esclamò estasiato. Quando aveva sentito dell’assurda spiegazione fornita da Rachel e da quell’altra strega, mesi prima, non aveva potuto crederci; aveva deciso di prendere il tutto con le pinze, ed era tutto sommato contento di averlo fatto, dal momento che ora poteva dire di provare una gioia sorprendente che nessuno di coloro che avevano creduto a quella versione fin da subito poteva affermare di aver provato. – La prima femmina in tutto il villaggio dopo centoquindici anni, ed è mia nipote! – quasi cinguettò, muovendosi verso la porta più interna, attraverso la quale sentiva provenire i placidi vagiti di un neonato indiscutibilmente felice di essere venuto al mondo. – Fratello! – lo chiamò, spalancando anche quella porta e precipitandosi al fianco del giovane, ancora steso a letto, prima che Santana potesse anche solo provare a fermarlo, - State bene? – chiese premuroso, inginocchiandosi sul pavimento e sporgendosi per sbirciare la bambina avvolta in un morbido panno bianco ricamato. – Oh, cielo, è deliziosa. – ridacchiò nell’osservarne le gote chiazzate di rosso e la piccola bocca di rosa, - Dunque Rachel aveva ragione.
Kurt annuì, stringendo al petto la bambina mentre Dave, seduto sul letto al suo fianco, stringeva al petto lui. Quando, qualche mese dopo la dipartita della strega, il ventre di Kurt aveva cominciato a gonfiarsi, inizialmente tutti avevano pensato con terrore ad una qualche malattia. Il signor Hummel, che pure dalla morte della strega aveva preso ad invecchiare molto velocemente, e che ora si ritrovava bianchissimo e quasi privo di forze ma tutto sommato in salute per contare quasi centoventicinque anni d’età, aveva temuto di poter perdere il minore dei propri figli prima che fosse giunta la propria ora, e il pensiero si era fatto insopportabile al punto che, dopo aver consultato tutti i medici ed essersi sentito ripetere decine e decine di volte che la causa di quel gonfiore sembrava introvabile, aveva supposto che dovesse trattarsi di qualcosa di relativo all’ultima maledizione lanciata da quella donna prima di bruciare, e pertanto aveva chiesto a sua maestà Blaine – ritornato a palazzo dopo aver appreso dalla viva voce di Kurt che, pur lusingato dal suo affetto, non intendeva più sposarlo – di inviare messi in tutti gli angoli del continente, per rintracciare gli unici che forse avrebbero potuto salvare Kurt, e che si trovavano in quel momento da qualche parte senza che nessuno sapesse dove, in viaggio alla ricerca di nuove streghe da sconfiggere.
Rachel, il principe Jesse, il cacciatore Van Schuester e la sua giovane compagna Emma erano stati ritrovati nei pressi della Foresta dei Salici Piangenti, a Ovest rispetto a Lima, intenti a cercare di portare a termine una nuova missione, ed erano stati ricondotti alla villa di gran fretta. Lì, dopo un’accurata visita ed un consulto, Rachel ed Emma avevano fornito la spiegazione che ritenevano più plausibile: entrambe ricordavano bene le ultime parole della strega, e poggiando le mani sul ventre gonfio di Kurt potevano ancora sentirne l’eco; la donna aveva ridato la fertilità al villaggio, che ora era nuovamente in grado di dare alla luce bambine, ma solo tramite gli esponenti maschi della specie. Da quel momento in poi, solo gli uomini avrebbero potuto partorire femmine, mentre le donne avrebbero continuato a partorire solo maschi.
Le due streghe avevano rassicurato Kurt sulla salute della sua bimba, spiegandogli che per quanto l’eco della maledizione della strega risuonasse forte dentro di lui, l’energia spirituale della bambina sembrava intatta e pura come quella di tutti i bambini prima di nascere, e che pertanto non correva alcun rischio.
Il ventre aveva continuato a crescere. Tutti avevano preso atto dell’incredibile verità come più cento anni prima avevano preso atto dell’altrettanto incredibile verità di non poter più dare alla luce bambine, e poco a poco anche l’idea di un uomo che potesse partorire una bimba era diventata naturale, come anni addietro era diventato naturale che nessuna donna potesse più farlo. Era stato per certi versi perfino obbligatorio accettarlo, dal momento che, come Van Schuester aveva professionalmente spiegato quando era stato interpellato, l’ultima maledizione che una strega lancia prima di morire non ha alcuna possibilità di essere annullata in alcun modo.
- Eccola qui. – disse dolcemente Kurt, mostrando al proprio fratello la bambina appena nata, - È bella, vero?
Finn annuì, commosso. Aveva viaggiato in lungo e in largo, da quando, dopo la morte della strega, era riuscito a confessare che non esistesse niente al mondo che desiderasse di più di spingersi oltre i confini del continente, ed esplorare il mondo; aveva viaggiato in lungo e in largo, sì, ma non aveva mai visto niente di più bello di quella creatura.
- Come la chiamerete? – domandò. Kurt chiuse gli occhi ed inspirò profondamente, ascoltando la musica dentro di sé, quella che l’aveva accompagnato per tutta la gravidanza, e di cui non aveva mai parlato a nessuno.
- Sue. – rispose, - La chiamerò Sue.
La bambina, stretta contro il suo petto, persa nei propri sogni, piegò il capo e sorrise.
Genere: Comico, Erotico.
Pairing: Dave/Blaine.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: Switchgender, Crack, Het, Lemon.
- "Tu sei diventato femmina così, dal giorno alla notte! Queste cose non succedono!"
Note: Scritta nel corso della Notte Bianca #4, su prompt gender bender. Non so di chi sia la colpa di questa storia ma indubbiamente non è mia. Non so, qualche spirito maligno deve avermi posseduta XD
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

- Non sapevo dove altro andare. – dice Blaine, stringendosi nelle spalle, e nel momento stesso in cui lo fa i suoi seni, sotto la camicetta stretta a quadri che indossa, si schiacciano l’uno contro l’altro, sollevandosi appena. Dave arrossisce così tanto da sentirsi svenire, e decide saggiamente di distogliere lo sguardo, almeno per qualche secondo, per evitare che gli esploda il cervello.
- Il problema, - ribatte, quando si sente tranquillo abbastanza da poter tornare a guardarlo senza che questo sia motivo di decesso istantaneo, - è che non saresti dovuto venire neanche qui! Io e te praticamente neanche ci conosciamo!
- Appunto! – Blaine saltella sul posto, impaziente, le sopracciglia inarcate verso il basso in un’espressione infantilmente preoccupata. Nell’osservarlo saltellare, Dave si sente mancare un’altra volta. Ovviamente non indossa alcun reggiseno. D’altronde, perché dovrebbe? Era maschio, fino a quando l’ha visto andare via oggi a scuola. Buon Dio. – Proprio perché non ci conosciamo, tu eri la scelta migliore! – continua Blaine, nel tentativo di dare un senso a ciò che palesemente non ce l’ha, discettando di scelte migliori mentre Dave a stento riesce ad allontanare gli occhi dal suo seno che si alza e si abbassa ondeggiando ritmicamente ad ogni movimento che fa, - Non sarei mai potuto andare da Kurt! Dio, che vergogna… - mugola disperatamente, coprendosi il viso con le mani e comprimendo nel movimento il petto in un modo che tende la camicetta fin quasi a farle saltare i bottoni, mentre Dave rischia di strozzarsi con la propria stessa saliva.
- Saresti potuto andare da chiunque altro, santo cielo! – sbotta appena riesce a ricominciare a respirare normalmente, allargandosi il colletto della maglietta che improvvisamente sembra bene intenzionato a strangolarlo, - Che ne so, qualcuno degli altri perdenti del glee club!
- L’avrebbero detto a Kurt! – insiste Blaine, la voce che si spezza in un singhiozzo arreso, mentre Dave si rende conto per la prima volta di quanto sia sottile ed acuta, così diversa da quella che era abituato a conoscere e detestare poco meno che cordialmente. – E poi… - aggiunge, abbassando lo sguardo con aria imbarazzata, - non è che… voglio dire, non è che abbia poi chissà che amici, nel glee club. Stanno ancora… imparando ad accettarmi, e ora come ora non sono molto più che conoscenti.
- Esattamente come noi. – annuisce Dave, cercando di chiudergli la porta in faccia e resistendo coraggiosamente ad un infarto incipiente quando Blaine, per impedirgli di farlo, vi si getta praticamente contro, schiacciandosi tutto contro la superficie in legno.
- Lo so. – ammette, annuendo con decisione, - Ma tu sai cosa vuol dire nascondere qualcosa. – aggiunge, - Perciò di te mi fido.
Dave spalanca gli occhi, preso alla sprovvista dall’affermazione. Questo ragazzo, qualunque cosa gli sia successa nelle ultime ore tale da farlo diventare femmina, deve essere completamente pazzo. E inadatto alla vita, poi, se è capace di fidarsi anche di uno che lo odia manifestamente dal primo giorno che l’ha visto.
- Io non so se… - comincia incerto, ma Blaine inarca le sopracciglia e, spostandosi dalla porta, gli si avvicina con aria timorosa, le mani giunte sotto il mento.
- Ti prego. – pigola stremato, - Ti prego, se non mi fai entrare qualcuno mi vedrà.
Dave sospira, gli occhi che vagano in luoghi dove non dovrebbero vagare, ma davvero, Blaine è troppo vicino per impedirselo, anche se Dave sa che dovrebbe riuscirci.
- Va bene. – cede infine, scostandosi dalla porta, - Dai, vieni dentro.
- Allora… - comincia Dave, girando attorno al letto sul quale Blaine si è seduto, le mani strette in grembo e il viso basso, non appena si sono chiusi in camera sua, al piano di sopra, lontano dagli occhi indiscreti del signor Karofsky. – Dimmi, com’è successo?
- Non ne ho idea. – risponde lui sinceramente, singhiozzando appena, - Sono tornato a casa, ho pranzato, ho fatto il riposino—
- Tu fai il riposino? – domanda Dave, strabuzzando gli occhi, - Quanti anni hai, cinque?!
- Avevo sonno! – singhiozza ancora Blaine, ballonzolando sul letto.
- No, ti prego, fermati. – lo blocca Dave, avvicinandoglisi in un paio di passi e posandogli entrambe le mani sulle spalle, per impedirgli di continuare a saltellare in quel modo palesemente suggestivo e osceno, - Quelle robe sono enormi, sul serio, Anderson, che cazzo?
- Lo so! – strilla Blaine, le mani fra i capelli, perfino più sconvolto di lui, a quanto pare, dalla realtà sconcertante dell’enormità del proprio seno, - Dio, sono uscito di casa perché non riuscivo a smettere di guardarle.
- Ecco, appunto, per cui— eh? – domanda Dave, sollevandogli gli occhi addosso con sincera sorpresa.
- Non riuscivo a smettere di guardarle. – ripete Blaine, con l’aria afflitta di un condannato a morte, - Una tragedia.
- Ma scusa, tu non sei gay? – domanda ancora Dave, adesso genuinamente confuso dal dialogo che stanno avendo.
- Be’, anche tu lo sei. – ribatte Blaine, scrollando le spalle e costringendo un’altra delle sinapsi di Dave a suicidarsi andando in corto circuito, - Eppure non riesci a smettere di guardarle nemmeno tu, vero? Cioè, è surreale. Impressionante.
- …sono quasi sicuro che questo sia un sogno. – mugola Dave, abbattuto, lasciandosi ricadere sulla propria poltroncina girevole davanti alla scrivania e prendendosi la testa fra le mani, - Anzi, un incubo. È troppo assurdo. Tu sei diventato femmina così, dal giorno alla notte! Queste cose non succedono!
Blaine sospira, abbassando nuovamente lo sguardo e stringendosi un’altra volta nelle spalle.
- Non so cosa dirti. – ammette in un pigolio piagnucoloso, - E non so nemmeno cosa fare. Voglio solo mettermi in un angolo e piangere fino a consumarmi. E sparire nel nulla. Assieme a queste tette enormi.
- Io ti prego di stare zitto! – quasi strilla Dave, coprendogli la bocca con entrambe le mani e sentendosi arrossire fino alle orecchie, - Dio, che problema sei. Ok, ascoltami, dobbiamo portarti da un medico, ma prima di tutto il resto ti devi cambiare, perché non puoi andare in giro così.
Blaine si lascia sfuggire un singhiozzo, ma poi inspira, espira e cerca di farsi coraggio, annuendo.
- Mi presti qualcosa di tuo? – domanda piano piano. Dave annuisce, arrossendo ancora un po’. Perfino il profumo di Blaine sembra cambiato, adesso. Non che Dave abbia mai perso del tempo ad annusare Blaine quando era ancora maschio, ovviamente, ma non c’entra. Comunque il suo profumo adesso è dolce, e Dave fatica un bel po’ ad allontanarsi da lui, camminando con aria decisa verso l’armadio per recuperare una maglietta ed un paio di pantaloni che possano essere sufficienti a nascondere il ben di Dio che Madre Natura ha deciso di donargli all’improvviso. Sempre che detto ben di Dio possa effettivamente essere nascosto, cosa di cui Dave non è affatto certo. Per non parlare dei capelli, come faranno a nascondere quel metro abbondante di capelli neri e ricci che rotolano lungo le spalle un tempo sgombre di qualsiasi riccio di Blaine, questo Dave proprio non lo sa.
- Senti… - borbotta, recuperando una vecchia maglietta dell’Uomo Ragno ed un paio di jeans sformati che probabilmente appartenevano a suo padre in qualche era geologica precedente, e che devono essere finiti nel suo armadio per un disdicevole fraintendimento, - vedi se questi possono andare bene. – annuncia, voltandosi verso di lui.
La cosa successiva che sa è che sta spalancando gli occhi talmente tanto che gli fanno male, deve stringere le mani a pugno se non vuole che partano indipendentemente a fare cose di cui tutti loro potrebbero pentirsi ed è costretto a deglutire ripetutamente almeno dieci volte in due secondi se non vuole annegare nella sua stessa saliva.
- Che c’è? – chiede Blaine, Blaine senza camicia né pantaloni addosso, stringendosi nelle spalle e rischiando seriamente di portare Dave al crollo nervoso.
- Che c’è? – balbetta lui, - Che c’è? Sei nudo! – strilla, indicandolo con sconcerto.
Blaine si guarda a lungo, prima di capire. Poi, finalmente, realizza, ed arrossisce appena.
- Scusa. – biascica, - Non sono abituato.
- Copriti! – strilla Dave, ma naturalmente il suo cervello è troppo confuso per permettergli di capire che, se vuole che Blaine si copra, deve dargli i vestiti che ha preso. Pertanto, privo di indumenti adatti allo scopo, Blaine fa l’unica cosa alla quale riesce a pensare, e si copre con le proprie mani.
Quello che succede dopo è surreale: nel momento esatto in cui le dita di Blaine si posano sui suoi capezzoli per nasconderli alla vista di Dave, lui mugola.
- Mmhn… - dice, ed è un suono strascicato e piagnucoloso e così involontariamente sensuale che Dave perde il lume della ragione, e si accascia contro l’armadio, fissandolo senza il minimo pudore.
- Cosa… cos’era quello? – domanda incerto. Blaine arrossisce più intensamente.
- Non lo so, è una sensazione così… - si stringe i seni fra le dita un’altra volta, emettendo un altro gemito liquido che gocciola dritto dritto fra le cosce di Dave, - …piacevole.
- Anderson, abbi pietà. – mugola pietosamente lui, deglutendo ancora una volta, - Stai fermo con quelle mani.
Blaine annuisce, ma si sprimaccia ancora una volta, prima di lasciarsi andare, e quando Dave lo vede inumidirsi le labbra, nel guizzo rosa della lingua che riesce a intravedere per qualche istante, gli pare di scorgere il suo futuro. Ed è una roba da suicidio istantaneo.
- Mi sento strano… - annuncia Blaine, che nel mentre si è inginocchiato sul letto e ora sta lì, seduto sui talloni, a muoversi senza pace, come non riuscisse a trovare la posizione giusta.
- Strano come? – domanda Dave, avvicinandosi cautamente. È perfino un po’ preoccupato: se è diventato donna dopo un riposino, Dio solo sa cosa potrebbe succedergli adesso. Potrebbe perfino crepare all’improvviso, e se questi sono i suoi piani è meglio che cambi idea, perché lui non ce lo vuole un cadavere nudo nel letto, questo va ben oltre ogni livello di perversione che lui abbia mai pensato di poter accettare come legittimo.
- Non lo so. – risponde lui, quasi piagnucolando, - Mi sento strano fra le gambe, non mi era mai successo!
- …uhm. – riflette Dave, grattandosi nervosamente la nuca, - Vuoi… vuoi andare in bagno a controllare? Posso coprirti, nel mentre. Fare la guardia alla porta, che ne so.
- No, non voglio controllare da solo! – strilla Blaine, allungando le mani e stringendo le dita attorno alla maglietta di Dave, trascinandolo più vicino al letto, - Ho paura. Controlla tu!
- Mai nella vita! – sbotta Dave, cercando di divincolarsi, ma Blaine non lo lascia andare, anzi, mentre lo trattiene ancora per la maglietta con una mano, afferra una delle sue con la propria rimasta libera, e senza fare tanti complimenti se la trascina fra le gambe, imprigionandosela fra le cosce.
Urlano entrambi, contemporaneamente. Dave perché sta toccando cose che mai, in nessuna occasione dovrebbe toccare, specie in questo complicato e confuso momento della sua esistenza; Blaine perché, nel tentativo di ritrarsi dalla sua stretta e fuggire da quella morbida prigione, Dave gli si è strofinato contro, riempiendogli la pelle di brividi di piacere che, per quanto la fonte possa essere sconosciuta e misteriosa, riesce comunque a riconoscere alla perfezione.
Si scambiano un’occhiata incerta. Blaine si morde un labbro e stringe le cosce attorno al polso di Dave, il quale ha perfino smesso di provare a togliere la mano da lì.
- Anderson, stai scherzando? – domanda in un fiato, ma a questo punto spera solo che la risposta sia un no, o che questo sia un sogno davvero, perché c’è un limite preciso a quello che un uomo può sopportare, anche se forse è gay, e quel limite è già stato abbondantemente valicato.
Fortunatamente, Blaine non perde tempo a rispondergli. Quantomeno, non a parole. Gli si preme contro, però, gettandogli le braccia al collo e schiudendo le labbra nello stesso istante in cui sfiorano le sue.
Dave non pensa neanche alla remota possibilità di tirarsi indietro. Gli gira un braccio attorno alla vita sottile, stringendoselo contro e scivolando ad accarezzargli le natiche con una mano mentre sistema più comodamente l’altra fra le sue gambe, strofinando due dita contro il tessuto già umido degli slip che indossa, e che peraltro sono da uomo, cosa che, in questo momento, non riesce più neanche a confonderlo, e si limita ad eccitarlo come mai niente nella vita ha mai fatto.
Blaine lo bacia profondamente, mugolando fra le sue labbra e strusciandosi contro di lui come un gattino in cerca di attenzioni. La pressione dei suoi seni contro il petto, nonostante il tessuto della maglietta che Dave ancora indossa e che impedisce al calore delle loro pelli di sfiorarsi, è sufficiente a far capire a Dave che non sarà una cosa lunga. Oh, no, non lo sarà affatto.
Sale sul materasso assieme a lui, spingendolo finché non riesce a farlo distendere fra i cuscini. Blaine geme, puntando i piedi per cominciare a muovere il bacino più morbidamente, ondeggiandolo in alto e in basso in modo che Dave quasi non ha più neanche bisogno di muovere le dita, perché Blaine fa benissimo da solo.
Si morde un labbro, rapito dai movimenti fluidi ed improvvisamente così aggraziati del suo corpo, e dal momento che Blaine sembra tanto preso da quello che gli sta succedendo fra le gambe lui decide di togliersi almeno un paio di soddisfazioni, e gli stringe un seno fra le dita, accarezzandolo gentilmente e godendo dei piccoli gemiti quasi disperati che rotolano liquidi e densi fra le labbra umide e gonfie di Blaine quando alla sue dita attorno ai suoi capezzoli si sostituiscono i suoi denti e la sua lingua.
- Okay, okay, basta, basta con le dita. – piagnucola Blaine, agitandosi senza senso sotto di lui. Dave gli solleva addosso uno sguardo che, se potesse, lo spoglierebbe più nudo di quanto già non sia, e poi si concede un mezzo ghigno sardonico.
- Sei sempre così impaziente? – domanda divertito. Blaine mugola e si agita ancora.
- Zitto. – sbuffa. In qualsiasi altro momento, Dave lo manderebbe a quel paese. Segna mentalmente di farlo dopo, ma intanto gli lascia scivolare gli slip lungo le cosce piccole ma proporzionate, e quando se ne libera Blaine sta già schiudendo le gambe, invitandolo a sistemarvisi in mezzo, cosa che Dave non si fa pregare per fare.
Preme appena contro di lui, osservandolo con una certa tenerezza mentre serra gli occhi e si tende tutto, terrorizzato da ciò che sta per arrivare.
- Rilassati un po’. – suggerisce sorridendo appena, chinandosi a sfiorargli la punta del naso in un bacio divertito.
- È la mia prima volta… - si giustifica Blaine, voltando il capo per guardare altrove.
- Ci credo che lo è, - ridacchia Dave, - neanche ce l’avevi, fino a due ore fa… - comincia, ma Blaine si volta a guardarlo e i suoi occhi dicono molto più di quanto le sue parole poco prima abbiano fatto, e Dave si sente morire la voce in gola. - …oh.
Blaine arrossisce così tanto che gli si riempiono gli occhi di lacrime, e Dave lo bacia ancora, stavolta sulle labbra, e più profondamente di quanto non abbia fatto prima, solo per distrarlo mentre si spinge lentamente dentro di lui, soffocando i suoi gemiti misti di dolore e piacere sulla propria lingua mentre si guadagna spazio dentro il suo corpo, centimetro dopo centimetro.
Lo stringe a sé, muovendosi più veloce un istante dopo l’altro, percependolo sciogliersi attorno alla sua erezione tesa che si immerge e riemerge ritmicamente dal calore umido del suo sesso, e piano piano i gemiti di Blaine cominciano a farsi più liquidi e liberi, si gonfiano di desiderio selvaggio proprio come il suo, e il suo bacino comincia a muoversi incontro alle sue spinte, accogliendolo sempre più profondamente un affondo dopo l’altro.
Quando viene dentro di lui, fa appena in tempo a chiedersi se dovrebbe preoccuparsi per non avere usato un preservativo.
La risposta arriva qualche mese dopo. Blaine, nel mentre, è perfino tornato maschio. In ogni caso, è una risposta inquietante da morire, ma Dave non può fare altro che prenderne vergognosamente atto e sedere al fianco del proprio ragazzo mentre lui, canticchiando, lascia che il medico che l’ha in cura gli ricopra il bassoventre di gel, preparandolo per l’ecografia.
Scritta a quattro mani con Tabata.
Genere: Introspettivo, Romantico, Generale.
Pairing: Dave/Kurt, Kurt/Blaine (accennato).
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: Angst, Future!Fic, Lemon, Slash, OC.
- Leonard, Kurt and Dave's 6 years old son, wants his parents to get married and he goes through an incredible amount of tasks to get it done. Everything seems fine, until Blaine shows up.
Note: Notes, we don't like notes. The story should be talking for itself but since English is not our first language, it probably won't. Anyway, everything started with a little boy named Leonard who was just doing his job, telling the story of his two more famous gay dads' wedding.
He did his job so well, though that we fell for him, badly. Leonard "Leo" Karfosky-Hummel quickly became our favourite character, the one you cherish with all your heart everytime you put yourself to write about him.
We love him so much, despite him being a fussy, picky, little smart-ass, that we are well aware he deserves a story of his own. But this is another matter.
We hope that even with the tons of mistakes you are going to find in here, you will still be able to enjoy the story because we are really proud of it and proud to have managed to finish it, in the end.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Leonard is a pretty smart little kid. He has always been kind of a weirdo for one of his age, but Dave really thinks this is pretty obvious since he is Kurt’s son too, after all. He is not noisy, he is not spoiled, he is not a crybaby and he never had a thing for strangeness just for the sake of it. He is not that kind of eccentric Kurt is, he is just a little… uncommon. Maybe. Which Dave thinks is a great, great thing, because being uncommon can be good and no one knows it better than him, but really, his kid scares him, sometimes. Just slightly.

“I’m not sure I understand,” Dave says, searching for his son’s eyes while the boy just stares at his milk and cereals, swinging his legs under the table. “Leo?”

“It’s just that,” he pouts, his voice a little whiny, “all my friends’ parents are married. Or, maybe they were married and then got divorced, but they were married before. What if you and daddy get divorced without being married first? Doesn’t it sound totally not cool to you too?”

“Hey, hey!” He stops him, putting down his coffee cup and bending over him to talk in a lower voice, so Kurt, still hidden in the bathroom for his Sunday morning beauty treatment, won’t have to hear them. “What does being cool have to do with being married? That was decades ago, Leo. I thought the world had moved forward, by now.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Leo gabbles, moving uncomfortably on his chair. “It’s just that it sounds pretty cool. The flowers, the dresses, the people, the music, the food…” he sighs, shrugging. “I wouldn’t mind if you and daddy got married. Then you could have rings to throw away when you divorce.”

“Leo, please!” Dave says, looking at him with his eyes wide open, “Kurt and I are not going to leave each other or you alone anytime soon. Now, tell me who told you this divorce bullshit.”

“David Karofsky!” Kurt yells, magically appearing in the kitchen with his face still covered in a disgusting green mask that is so dry already it seems it is going to fall any minute now. It looks like his very face would fall behind it, and Dave and Leonard averts their eyes simultaneously, horrified by the exact same thought. “How many times do I have to tell you, you can’t use the B-word in front of our son?”

“I wasn’t!” Dave immediately says, lifting his hands up in the air like he has to show they are clean, “I swear.”

“He was, he’s a liar.” Leonard mumbles, going back to his cereals, but only after he is sure his father noticed the angry look he gave him. Dave just doesn’t know. When did his son lose his mind?

“Dad won’t never use that word again with you, baby,” Kurt smiles, sitting at the table and starting to drink his excessively sugared coffee. “Now, what are the plans for the day?”

“Is staying home and sleep an option?” Dave asks, tentatively, biting on his lower lip. He is so tired he could sleep for days. His kids at school are such a pain. He thought McKinley’s football team was shit when he joined it? They were geniuses compared to the kids he is coaching now. They are so clumsy and whiny and confused. At the end of the week, the only thing Dave wants is to fall on his bed, bury his face in his pillow and sleep two days straight so he will be in top shape when he has to go back on Monday and start hating everything all over again.

Obviously, the fact that he wants to sleep doesn’t mean he will be able to. At all.

“Of course not,” Kurt answers, biting at the enormous cookie he is holding with both his hands. “What about the park? It’s a wonderful day for a walk. The sun is shining, the air is fresh, birds are singing in the air—”

“And you wanna go out singing too, don’t you?” Dave smiles, looking at him with tenderness and a little bit of mockery.

Kurt’s skin, under his beauty mask, gets slightly pinker, as he quickly swallows his cookie.

“Well, maybe,” he admits with a tiny laugh. “Wanna join me?”

“I’d rather listen,” Dave says, and Leonard snorts, leaving his cereals where they are and rapidly getting up.

“So, are we going out?” He asks, he is clearly not entirely happy.

Kurt frowns, just slightly worried. “Is everything okay, sweetheart?” He asks, his voice as soft and reassuring as it could, but Leonard just shrugs, leaving his question unanswered.

“Are we going out?” He asks again instead, and Kurt uncertainly nods.

Kurt listens to the sound of Leo's feet stomping on the stairs and on the carpeted corridor of the second floor. He carefully waits until he is sure the boy is safe in his room, getting ready to go out, before turning to Dave and frowning at him again. “What's wrong with him?” he asks.

Dave rolls his eyes, finishing his coffee. “I know nothing,” he says, and he doesn’t leave Kurt the time to ask something else because he gets up and runs away in their room – hopefully, not to hide himself in their closet – leaving Kurt with what is left of his breakfast and his beauty mask ready to fall down.


The weather is nice outside and, as he looks at the bright blue sky over Schoonover Park, Dave can even forget how tired he was when he woke up this morning. Kurt is walking beside him, under the trees that cast nice long shadows. Dave is holding his hand so he can keep his eyes closed while humming like the bird he is. Leo is running ahead, kicking every stone and chasing every butterfly he meets on the way. Sometimes Dave looks at him and wonders how he can have so much energy. He doesn't remember being half as lively as he is when he was a kid.

“Dad!” He calls, waving frantically. “Come over here! I want to show you something.”

Kurt smiles but does not open his eyes. Both he and Dave always know which one of his dads Leo is calling. “Your son wants you,” he says instead, releasing Dave's hand so he can go.

“He's always my son when he wants something, isn't he?”

Kurt laughs. “Pretty much, yes.”

“Dad! Come on! You're so slow!”

“Now go, your little monster is waiting,” Kurt pushes him a bit in the general direction of Leo's voice.

“Open your eyes, Fancy,” Dave calls over his shoulder. “I don't want you to fall on your face.”

Kurt glares at him. “Call me that again and you know what you won't see for a very long time.”

Dave laughs and Leo rolls his eyes at the two of them. “Is that another way to say that you will be sleeping on the couch again?” He asks, looking up at Dave.

“This is none of your business, little man,” Dave answers him, ruffling his hair. “So, what did you want me to see?”

Leo points a chubby little finger at the lake shore, where some very sharp dressed people are gathered.

“It's a wedding,” he explains, as if the very white and very puffy dress of the bride wasn't a clue.

“Yes, I see that.”

“She was on the boat over there,” Leo continues, pointing at the little white boat filled with flowers. “She came through the lake, you know? The man took her by the hand and helped her off the boat. She is very clumsy, so he had to take her in his arms, eventually. She is always laughing and seems very happy.”

Dave looks at him, curiously. “How long have you been watching them?”

“A while,” Leo shrugs and drags him closer to the scene. “Her name's Sandy. Her mom keeps calling her, that's how I know. Those are all their brothers and sisters and cousins and stuff. And there's a violin somewhere. She danced with the man.”

“She's really beautiful and you're right, she seems happy. It is a very nice wedding.” Dave doesn't exactly know what he’s looking at, but he learned long ago that whatever his six years old son feels the need to tell him, it must be listened and watched closely.

“I think they're going to have a party on the other side of the lake,” Leo explains, tilting his head a bit as if pondering the situation. “And maybe they will leave after. When it's dark, I guess.”

“I think so,” Dave doesn't know what else to say. “Come on, let's go back, now. You know your dad, he's probably wondered off, singing silly love songs. Someone could find him too cute and take him away from us.”

He starts walking but Leo doesn't follow him. He goes the other way instead and sits on a big rock near the lake. Dave stops in midstep and watches his son as he grabs a stick from the ground and starts playing with it.

“Don't you wanna come?” He asks. Leo shakes his head without looking at him.

The man sighs, knowing what comes next. He glances over to check on Kurt, who is literally swirling around the meadow while he sings some melody from The sound of music, and he is so taken with it that he hasn't even noticed the group of people watching his impromptu live performance.

Dave decides that he can spare a moment for his son without Kurt running away with the first traveling circus that offers him to sing all day, and reaches Leo who still won't look at him. He is playing with five or six giant ants that are bringing back some food they have probably just stolen from the wedding buffet. Leo is pursuing them with the stick and they are running around, trying to escape him.

The kid seems pretty sad, so Dave comes close to him and crouches beside him.

“Hey buddy, what's up?”

“I don't really wanna talk to you right now,” Leo says in a very low voice.

He is dangling his feet back and forth a little, kicking the rock with the new red shoes Kurt bought for him in New York, last week. Kurt buys him a new pair of shoes every time he gets the chance, which is a lot more than it should be legal. Leo is the only kid in the neighborhood to have a closet only for shoes. Dave has prevented Kurt to dress their son as a little miniature of himself, but there was nothing he could do against the shoes’ invasion. Kurt can hardly control himself.

“Did I do something wrong?” Dave asks, caught by surprised.

“You didn't even listen to me when we talked about marriage this morning!” Leo says, pouting.

David sighs because now he knows it is going to be hard. “Can I sit with you?” He asks, then.

“Well, yes, I suppose,” Leo nods. He keeps playing with the ants that are now aliens from another planet, coming on Earth to force people to marry.

Dave sits with his son and looks at the ants with him. “What do you know about marriage?”

“It is what two people do when they love each other and want to live their lives together!” Leo answers, his voice going all the way up as it always does when he is excited to know something and wants to say it as fast as he can.

“People can love each other and live their lives together even if they don't marry,” Dave explains. “Do you think me and your dad don't love each other? Is this that you're worried about?”

Leo makes a very sad face. “You two fight a lot.”

Dave and Kurt made a promise never to fight in front of the kid, so what Leo has seen and heard are only bland arguments about who is taking the car or who is picking Leo up from school. Sometimes they do fight badly behind closed doors, though, and now Dave fears Leo heard more than he should, jumping to the wrong conclusions. “Sometimes people fight but it doesn't mean they don't love each other. It just means they disagree on something.”

Leo shakes his head. “But this has nothing to do with marriage! Why don't you want to marry my daddy? You're going to leave him and you don't want to make him believe you'll love him forever?”

Dave's heart skips a beat. He is really sensitive about his feelings. He knows he is not very good at showing them, so he is always making sure Kurt and Leo know how much he loves them. “I will never leave you or your father. What does make you think that?”

“Why can't you just answer my questions?! “ Leo cries, his voice slightly breaking from frustration. “Why do you answer with another question? I'm not stupid, you know? And I'm not a kid anymore, I can understand things of life!”

He looks at his father with very stern eyes. Dave should feel ashamed, but Leo is so cute that the only thing he manages is not to laugh. “You sure do,” he says. Then he sighs and strokes Leo's ruffled black hair. “It's not that I don't want to marry him, we just never talked about it. Nothing would change, you know? I love him, already. And I plan to keep on loving him for the rest of my life, so a marriage is not really necessary.”

“But I know he'd be so happy!” Leo insists, looking at him. “Don't you want him to be happy?”

“Of course I do,” Dave sighs. He watches the wedding party head for the reception on the other shore of the lake. He doesn't know how Leo came up with the idea of him and Kurt getting married. “Wait,” he suddenly says, not a bell but a whole orchestra ringing in his head. “Did he tell you that he wants to get married?”

“Well... no, but you know him!” Leo glances over at Kurt, who is now chirping with the birds and dancing like a Disney princess. People are actually singing chorus parts with him, like in one of those group scenes in Broadway musicals. Strange things always happen in the background if they stop long enough for Kurt to make them happen. “He has his head always in the air. He would never tell you.”

“And don't you think maybe that's because he doesn't really care about getting married?”

Leo lifts up a very skeptical eyebrow. It looks so much like Santana's “bitch, please” stare that Dave has a hard time not laughing again. “He's been planning weddings since he was younger than me,” he says. “He's got an entire book filled with photos, notes and possible playlists. He's always sketching dresses, too!”

The kid has a point. “You're right. I just thought he wasn't interested anymore,” he explains. “We already have each other and a house. And we've got you, of course.”

Dave doesn't know why he’s talking about matters like these with a kid, but Leo seems always so mature than sometimes he just forgets he is only six years old.

“Daddy would be so happy,” Leo says again. “I know he would. And I want so much to see you two married! It'd be so cool! I could invite all my friends, so they would see!” He throws his little fist in the air and smirks.

“Would see what?” Dave asks, suddenly concerned. “Did they tell you something?”

Leo shifts awkwardly on his seat, eyes back down to the ants again. “They say it's not normal when parents aren't married. It's okay if they're not married anymore, but if they never were? It's strange.”

When he and Kurt adopted Leo, Dave knew it was going to be hard, them being gay and all. The other kids would be asking a lot of questions and making a lot of jokes on Leo, so he made sure to be ready to face every possible situation. But sometimes kids go beyond imagination and they can be so mean he actually hates them. “It's not strange,” Dave says, firmly. “People sometimes make different choices. It's that why marriage is suddenly so important to you?”

“I just want to see you married and I want to have a normal family. Is that too much to ask?” Leo jumps off the rock and opens his arms as wide as he can with a very dramatic outcome.

David feels bad because most of all, he wants his son to feel normal. He remembers how it feels when something about you is different from everyone else. You just want to fit in. “Do you really want me to marry your dad?” He asks.

“Yes!” Leo cries in frustration. “Yes, I do. I want you to propose to him. But you must do it the right way, not like you always do!”

David automatically blushes under his son slightly judgmental glare. “What are you talking about?”

“You actually never asks for things,” he says. “You just go and take what you want. That's not cool, dad.”

Dave doesn't agree at all with that. He ask for things. Most of the time, at least. “So, what do you suggest?”

Leo lights up with a smile. “You can sing!” He says immediately, as if he has been waiting only for this moment to come. “You never want to do it, and Daddy's always asking you to!”

Dave shakes his head. “No way. I can't.”

“Have you ever tried singing to someone with all your heart?” The kid asks.

“I can't sing for your father!” Dave panics instantly because he knows where this is going and he so does not want that. “He's a fu... a freaking wonderful singer.”

“I know, he's always singing,” Leo nods, looking again at Kurt who is still performing. “And I mean always. But I never heard you.”

“That's because I play football.”

“What does this have to do with singing?” Leo groans in frustration.

“Nothing, that's the point.”

Leo puts his hands on his hips, looking at him with exasperation. “Daddy said you were in the show choir with him.”

“That's not correct,” Dave says nervously. “I was in glee club only for a couple of weeks and just because the coach thought me and my teammates needed more coordination. I never sung, just did some really easy dancing. And your father wasn't even in there at the time.”

“I don't believe you,” Leo says stubbornly. “Daddy says you can sing, so you obviously can.”

Leo is in that phase when kids think whatever comes out of their mother's mouth is the truth. And since Leo doesn't have one, he settled for the closest figure, who's definitely Kurt.

David tries to get out of this the easy way. “Listen, I'd love to, but I really can't,” he says, smiling apologetically. “I'm only good at sports. Perhaps I can throw him a ball with something written on it or I can even throw him somewhere if you think that's could be of any use. But I can't sing.”

“You wouldn't throw daddy!” Leo says, outraged.

“That was just a figure of speech,” David sighs. The story of his life.

Leo doesn't waste any time looking at him with all the perplexity those words have given him. “I don't know what that is but that's not important! He wants you to sing, I know that. It doesn't have to be a concert. Just the proposal. It'd be so awesome!”

Leo is like Kurt, so stubborn that he only has things his way or not at all. And since the not-at-all part seems out of question, Dave can only surrender. “Fine. I'll sing,” he gives in.

Leo squeals happily and starts jumping around like a madman. “You're gonna get married! You're gonna get married! My dads are gonna get married.”

It feels really good to see him acting like the kid he is now and then. Dave smiles. “Now, now, calm down. Your father didn't say yes, yet.”

“Oh, he will,” Leo stops abruptly, nodding with confidence. “Don't worry about that. So, you will need some pretty flowers and an engagemement ring.”

Dave giggles. Leo always mispells words like this because he wants to speak like a grown up but he has no idea what he is saying most of the time. “I will try and find one of those engagemement ring. Leave it to me,” he says. “So flowers, ring, song, that's it?”

“No, of course not!” Leo answers, looking at him like he said the worst of atrocities. “You two must have dinner first. You can choose between cooking something for him with all your love, or take him out to some expensive and classy restaurant.”

Last week Dave set two different meals on fire, so it is kinda of a Hobson's choice. “I'll go with the fancy restaurant,” he says. “We don't want to poison dad.”

Leo shakes his head, his tight black curls swinging back and forth. “No, we don't,” he says seriously. “Then, you'll have to organize the marriage. But don't worry, I'll help you. I know everything about it. I read daddy's notes on that book of his! And I watched a lot of wedding tv.”

Dave takes a mental note to check on him when he watches tv. For some reason, what he has just said doesn't sound completely right. “You should really watch more cartoons.”

Leo shrugs. “They're boring. They’re made for little kids,” he pouts. “I'm not one anymore.”

Dave rolls his eyes. “God, you really are the miniature copy of your father.”

“Is that so?” Leo says. He acts like the information doesn't really affect him, but it does and turns his cheeks an adorable shade of pink.

“Yes, you are. A very precise copy. I don't know what to do with the two of you sometimes.”

“I just care about this wedding,” Leo adds, making circles in the sand with his right foot. “I want it to be really awesome.”

“I'm sure it will be spectacular with your precious help, little wedding planner.” Dave tickles him on his belly and Leo laughs, running away to hide behind the rock and out of his father's tickling fingers.

“Daddy's right, you know?” He says, peeking from behind his cover just to run away again when Dave moves to catch him.

“About what?”

Leo laughs uncontrollably with excitement like kids do when being chased playfully. “He says you look like a prince, but you're actually the trapped one, and that makes you the princess.”

“What?” Dave grabs him and tackles him easily on the ground, tickling him to death. “I'm not a princess. That's clearly your father. He's the one with all the creams and the pretty dresses.”

Leo curls up in a ball and laughs until he's out of breath. Dave lets him go, and then they both lie down, panting heavily. After a while, Leo turns on his side and looks at Kurt who finally stopped singing and is now sunbathing on the grass not too far from them.

“Daddy really looks like a prince, though, doesn't he? He's so beautiful.”

Dave turns his head and looks at Kurt with the same loving eyes as his son. “Yes, he is. The most gorgeous prince of the whole freaking kingdom.”


Leonard helps him to chose the right restaurant, obviously. That is because the last time Dave invited Kurt out for dinner it was at Breadstix, and Breadstix is not exactly the first place you have in mind when you think about what’s fancy and classy, so Leo just takes the lead and makes a list of five or six potential candidates, half of which Dave doesn’t even know.

“What about this one?” Dave asks, pointing out one of the names without even paying attention to which one he’s choosing. He has probably made the wrong decision, anyway, because Leonard immediately looks at him in horror, eyes filled with disappointment.

“That one’s the worst!” he almost screams, his little hands lost in his hair, “I only put it there to test you! You are such a mess.”

Dave can’t help it, he just has to laugh. Leo’s taking the whole matter so seriously. Just looking at him when he screams in frustration and passes the whole day drawing different kinds of decorations for both the place they’re going to get married in and the restaurant they’re going to use for the wedding reception can be so funny Dave can’t hold back laughing.

He never thought about this that way, but sharing this little secret with Leo while Kurt doesn’t even suspect what they’re doing just feels so good. Dave and Leo never had secrets of their own, secrets they could not share with Kurt, so every moment Dave passes with his son planning the wedding is so precious to him he almost doesn’t want it to ever end.

“So, where do you suggest to go?” Dave asks, smiling softly, “I trust you completely.”

Leo puffs his chest out, smiling victoriously, and an hour and a half later they’re in front of the restaurant he chose, which looks a little intimidating even from the outside.

“It seems like I’m going to have to wear a tie,” Dave sighs, and Leo looks at him with an arched eyebrow and the eyes of someone who’s already reaching the limit of their patience.

“That wasn’t even in question, dad,” he answers.

The very moment they step inside the place, a pretty blonde waitress comes near them, smiling gently. “Can I help you?” she asks, slightly tilting her head.

Dave uncertainly scratches the back of his own neck, almost looking away from her, while his son heavily sighs, shaking his head. “Can we talk to the owner?” He finally manages to ask.

“Yeah, sure,” the pretty girl smiles ever wider, “He’s in his office. This way, please.”

On their way to the owner's office, Leo grabs the hem of his father’s shirt and pulls it. “Let me do the talking,” he whispers, lifting himself up on his tiptoes to virtually get closer to his ears, so he doesn’t have to speak louder.

“What?” Dave asks, opening his eyes so wide his face almost hurts.

“You even had problems asking the waitress where could we find him!” Leo answers, almost jumping up and down in frustration, “You’ll ruin everything! Let me do the talking.”

Dave really wants to talk back at this, just to remind his son he’s just six and has no right to talk this way to his own father, but it’s too late, the pretty girl stops in front of a door with a big, golden name plate saying “Mr. Donovan” and there’s nothing Dave can say right now without looking like a fool in front of her.

“Here we are,” the waitress says, “Something else I can do for you?”

“We’ll be alright, thank you.” Dave answers, managing to smile a little. She nods and disappears the second after, and there’s nothing Dave can do but knock on the door and wait.

“Come in,” the soft voice of an old man speaks from the inside, and Dave opens the door to find the said old man sitting in a giant armchair behind an equally giant antique desk, smiling happily as if he was expecting them. He is so little and strange he almost seems unreal, with his big white mustaches covering his lips and those thick eyeglasses that make his eyes look like they’re twice their size. “Hello. Do I know you?”

Dave tries to speak faster than his son, but Leo doesn’t really have rivals when it comes to talking, so he doesn’t manage to be fast enough, and has to step back while his son makes a step toward the old man and then literally climbs on his desk, sitting on his heels in front of him.

“Hello, granddaddy,” he smiles, “Can I ask you a favor?”

Dave almost chokes on his own breath. “And that would be ‘do the talking’ for you?” he asks, looking at him while Leo shrugs. “Get immediately down from there!” he tries, frowning a little to look more intimidating, but his son is not scared of him even slightly, and Mr. Donovan keeps laughing like he has been doing since the very moment he first heard what Leonard had to say. So Dave's scolding is soon forgotten, and Leo can stay wherever he wants without anyone forcing him to come down.

“Sure you can, little boy,” Mr. Donovan answers, with a smile on his face so big not even the mustaches can hide it anymore, “But first, let me ask you one thing. What’s your name?”

“My name is Leonard, and I’m six years old,” Leo immediately answers, showing his age with his fingers, “My daddies are going to get married soon, so I wanted to ask you if we can use your beautiful restaurant for the singing proposal my daddy’s going to perform. My other daddy really likes fancy places like this one, so it would be perfect, you know?”

“Leo!” Dave tries to stop him, reaching for him and grabbing him by his shoulders to take him down of the desk, “You’re being rude and that’s not how you ask someone to do you a favor.”

“Oh, please, leave him be, leave him be!” the old man says, laughing again, “He’s so cute and smart. Besides, isn’t courtesy just something adults invented to make the kids feel like they’re not prepared enough to live with them?”

“I am very sorry for my son,” Dave insists, bowing a little.

“Daddy, didn’t you hear?” Leo says, elbowing him in his leg, “He said he’s alright with me!”

“Leo!” Dave insists, raising his voice, but Mr. Donovan laughs again, so happily that it really seems pointless to keep scolding the kid.

“I’d be very honored if you propose to your future husband here in my restaurant, mister…?”

“Karofsky,” Dave answers, blushing a little and staring at his feet, “My name’s David Karofsky, sir.”

“Mister Karofsky, then,” Mr. Donovan nods and smiles, standing up behind his desk and leaning over it to hold out his hand to Dave. “It’ll be a pleasure for me to host your marriage proposal. Would you be so kind to let me offer my collaboration, and would you promise me you’ll let me know whatever you might need to make that moment really magical?”

Dave blinks a couple of times, his lips partly open, barely breathing. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I… you're saying it’s alright if we do it here?” he asks, while Leo jumps up and down and screams a little, clapping his hands in joy, “It’s just— we had something a little peculiar in mind, so maybe you want to know… but I can’t really tell you right now, ‘cause we still have to talk to someone, and…”

“It’s alright, it’s alright!” Mir. Donovan smiles, waving one of his big yet thin, pale hands in the air, “Just give me a call when you know exactly what you want to do, and I’ll make sure everything’s set by the time you arrive.”

Dave nods again and shakes the old man’s hand, thanking him for his kindness and generosity, before saying goodbye and leaving the room, holding Leo’s hand just to be sure he can't run away as he seems so eager to do, excitement running through his little body, making him squeals and jumps like he’s been given the most beautiful present in the world.

“I’m confused,” Dave says in a low voice, leaving the restaurant, “We came here to ask if we could use the place, and we ended up being asked to use it as we please. I’m still not sure on how it happened.”

Unseen, Leo grins, satisfied.


It’s almost evening when they arrive at Puck’s pub. The place is quiet, at the moment, but Dave knows that, as soon as it actually opens for the crowd, it will be pretty messy around here; it often happens on Friday night, when Puck usually digs up his guitar from wherever he keeps it hidden during the rest of the week, and entertains his clients with some good old style pop music.

That’s why Dave wants to hurry up: he doesn’t want to get stuck in the crowd with Kurt waiting for Leo and him at home, not having an idea of where they are and what could they be doing, and he definitely, definitely doesn’t want to end up listening to Puck playing guitar for the rest of the night.

Still, he’s scared. He can’t find the courage to walk in and just ask Puck to play for him while he proposes to Kurt. He imagines that this sudden fear comes from the fact that asking Puck will make everything so real. Talking to Mr. Donovan was a first step, but talking with Puck? Maybe even setting a time and a day? That’s terrifying.

“Daddy!” Leo calls him, bored and tired of waiting, “I’m hungry and I have to pee! I wanna go home! Please, let’s just do this, okay?”

Dave sighs, trying to relax at least enough to just move already. “Okay, buddy,” he finally says, swallowing hard, “Let’s do this.”

The inside of the pub is practically empty, except for Puck – who’s doing his sound check on the little stage at the back of the big room – and a waiter cleaning up the bar for the evening. Dave and Leo wait for Puck to notice them, and it doesn't take him a lot of time, since he’s obviously bored to death – God only knows how long he’s been rehearsing – and is just waiting for an excuse to look up and leave his guitar on the stage to find something more interesting to do.

“Hi, Puckerman,” Dave smiles, lifting a hand and waving a little while Leo shifts uncomfortably in his place.

“Well,” Puck laughs, quickly approaching him with his arms wide open, as if he wants to hug him, even if, when he’s close enough, he just pats him on his shoulder, knowing that Dave’s never been very fond of excessive body contact. Well, with everybody but Kurt, at least. “Look who’s out of his fancy neighborhood to visit some good old friend. And how’re your wife and kid?” he asks, clearly not noticing Leo almost hidden behind Dave.

“Wife’s fine and singing somewhere in the country,” Dave answers, moving aside just enough to show Leo’s there too, “And the heir’s here,” he says, as Leo manages to wave and smile despite his upsetting condition.

“Hey, you!” Puck says, his smile growing wider as he sees the kid. He bends a little to hug him and then lift him up in his arms. “Whoa, you’re growing fast,” he comments, still holding him while Leo laughs, trying to wriggle his way out of his grip. “So, what’s the occasion?” Puck asks, turning back to Dave, “Should I offer you champagne?”

“Yes!” Leo immediately answers, lighting up in an excited smile, “Can I have some?”

“No, you can’t,” Dave glares at him, before turning back to Puck, “And no, thanks, Puck. But speaking of champagne, I’m here to ask you a favor,” he manages to say, throwing his fears aside so he can have his son out of this place and sitting on his toilet at home before Puck manages to have them both drunk. Because he knows he would find a way.

“I can’t give you money, you know,” Puck immediately says, raising both his hands and letting Leo fall on his feet on the floor with a little scream. “Don’t even ask, dude, I’d hate to say no in front of the little one here.”

“The little one you nearly killed right now?” Dave asks, while Leo starts jumping up and down on his feet because the fall made him craving for a toilet more than he was before. “Anyways, no, I don’t need money. It’s something… different.”

“As long as it’s not money,” Puck nods, “I’ll be happy to help. Have a sit,” he invites them, sitting on one of the stools in front of the bar and patting on his knees so Leo can climb on his legs and sit on his lap. “Tell me what you need.”

“Well,” Dave sighs, sitting in front of him, “Long story short: I want to… ask Kurt to marry me,” he says, blushing furiously. It’s actually the first time he has to say it out loud. It feels pretty big.

Puck opens his eyes wider, looking at him like he has never seen him before. “You want do to what?” he asks, clearly shocked.

“I want to propose to him,” Dave answers, following the wave of courage that seems to keep him strong at the moment, “We’ve been together for almost ten years, and…” he looks at Leo and then back to Puck, “He seems to care for a wedding, you know, so…”

Puck seems to need a moment to recover, before he can speak again. “Dude,” he finally says, shaking his head, “What’s with this gay marriage thing?” he asks, “It’s so 2010. And why now?”

“Because it is the right time!” Dave insists, getting more and more confident as he speaks, “We’ve got a house, we’ve got financial security, we’ve even got a kid! There’s only one thing missing.”

“Well, I’m not married, but I don’t feel like missing something,” Puck laughs, “It’s just strange,” he adds, his voice softer and his smile sweeter, “The David Karofsky I knew back in high school would have never, never had the balls to do something similar. I guess time changes people, after all.”

“Yeah, it does,” Dave nods, smiling back at him, “Even though it doesn’t seem strong enough to change you too,” he adds, while Puck laughs, shaking so much that Leo’s eyes get almost teary for the need he feels to just pee already. “So,” Dave resumes, noticing the desperate expression on his son’s face, “My problem is that I want to make a…” he blushes deeply, shifting on his seat, “a singing proposal.”

“That’s my idea,” Leo specifies, allowing himself to get distracted by the discussion enough to stop thinking about his needs.

“A singing proposal?” Puck asks, looking at him in shock again, “Are you nuts?”

“No, I’m damn serious here,” Dave immediately answers, taking his son back in his arms, where he knows he will be safe and free to twist as he likes to try and calm himself, “Listen, I can do this, I really can, but I’m gonna need help, someone who plays the guitar while I sing.”

“And you want me to play the guitar while you sing what and where?” Puck asks, still doubtful. Dave tries to answer, but Leo, clearly in desperate need of distraction, jumps up and answers in his place.

“It’s gonna be awesome, uncle Noah,” he explains, standing up on his father’s knees, “They are going to go in a fancy restaurant we already saw, where all the tables are rounded and have little candles on them. Dad will sing Marry Me by Neil Diamond, I chose it ‘cause it’s romantic and daddy likes romantic things, and he’ll be so happy he’ll cry, and they’re gonna get married afterwards.”

Puck listens carefully to the boy, nodding quietly from time to time, and when Leo stops talking he turns to face Dave once again. “And you called coming out back in high school a social suicide?” he asks, “Then, how do you call this?” he points at Leo as if the things the boy has just described had already taken place in front of him, “Social Armageddon?”

“I call it avoiding sleeping on the couch for a very, very long time,” Dave answers with a grin, and Puck instantly shivers.

“Now, that was a bad case of TMI. I so don’t wanna hear about where you sleep. So don’t want to,” he whines, shaking his head. “Anyway, the answer’s no.”

“But why?” Dave frowns, gesturing a little while his son pouts and crosses his arms on his chest, looking disapprovingly at his so-called uncle, “You should just play the guitar. I’ll do the singing.”

“Karofsky, no,” Puck repeats, still shaking his head, “Listen, You're a good friend and I love you in the most not-gay way, but you’re batshit crazy and Kurt— no, everyone in Lima is going to laugh at you forever. I’ve got a reputation!”

“Why should they laugh at me?” Dave protests, “I can sing as much as you can, and you know it. If you can sing with Kurt, than I can sing for him,” he says, standing up for himself, guided by a sudden rush of pride that Leo welcomes with a big, shiny smile and an adoring look.

Puck blinks a couple of times, sighing deeply. “This is some crazy shit you’re asking me to do,” he considers, “Popping out of nowhere playing my guitar.”

“Oh, please, you used to do it all the time!” Dave replies, rolling his eyes, “You could never walk the hallways without you or Artie or Sam popping out of nowhere singing at least once a week. People learned how to avoid you and keep walking while you performed!”

“Dude, that was in high school!” Puck insists, “I was sixteen and high most of the time! No, I don’t want to. I won’t do it.”

“What does high mean?” Leo asks, slightly tilting his head to the side.

Puck clears his throat, ruffling the kid’s hair. “I’ll tell you when you’re old enough. Now take your crazy dad and get lost.”

“Oh, come on,” Dave almost whines, “What’s your problem?”

“My problem is that it’s going to be ridiculous, and that there’s the real possibility I will be forever remembered as the dude who played guitar for the most weird proposal of all times,” Puck nods seriously.

“Why do I want to punch you in the face all of a sudden?” Dave sighs, tired of fighting.

“Maybe because you still have problems controlling your anger,” Puck immediately replies, arching an eyebrow. “Man! Why are you doing this? You’re going to cover yourself in shame!” he insists, as if he really couldn’t believe Dave would do something like that. Problem is, Dave would. Even if he had to cover himself in shame, even if he had to survive to the mocks and the laughs of every single person in Lima, he would do this. If only to see the look in Kurt’s eyes when he asks him to marry him, Dave would risk to lose everything else.

“I love Kurt,” he answers, looking straight in Puck’s eyes, “I love him and it’s not going to be ridiculous. It’s going to be awesome.”

“Oh, God,” Puck sighs, rolling his eyes and then looking at Leo, “You realize you’re sentencing your own dad to social death with this idea you came up with?” he asks, pointing at him.

“I don’t know what social death is, but my dad can’t die, so it’s ok,” Leo just replies, shrugging.

“This is so Broadway,” Puck sighs again, “I don’t even know why we’re still talking about it.”

“I’m kind of asking myself the same thing, Puckerman,” Dave groans, trying to decide if he can just shove him against the first locker he finds and fucking go home, since he honestly can’t take any more arguing.

“Don’t be angry, daddy,” Leo tries to calm him, “Uncle Noah just needs to be convinced. Uncle Noah, you know,” he explains, turning to the other man, “Broadway is exactly my plan. In fact, daddies will have dinner, then you’ll come out playing your guitar and everybody will stare and listen and smile. Maybe chanting the chorus all together, too,” he ponders, “Dad will sing and maybe dance with daddy a little bit, then he’ll go down on his knee and propose. It’s classy and it’s classic, which are two different words, daddy says.”

Puck can’t help but burst into laughing, slowly shaking his head. “When did you became the portrait of a younger and clearly crazier Kurt?” he asks, “What was I looking at when it happened? Dude,” he adds, turning to Dave, “Your son really is something.”

“He is,” Dave nods, sighing softly.

“So, uncle Noah,” Leo insists, closing his hands in two nervous little fists, “Will you do it? Daddy really, really, really, really wants dad to sing for him. And he wants to marry, too.”

“Don’t you even think to win me over only with those big blue eyes,” Puck mocks him, even if it’s clear he already decided what to do, “You’re not cute enough to convince me.”

“Oh, please!” Leo starts to jump up and down again, remembering he has to pee when it’s already too late; so his jumping up and down starts to be motivated by more than just his intense desire to have Puck playing for Dave during the proposal. “Uncle Noah, please,” he cheeps, eyes filled with tears and cheeks reddening more and more every second, “It’s so important!” Puck keeps playing cool, so Leo does the only thing he knows it always works in hard times like these, he flutters his eyelashes. “Pretty please with a cherry on top?” he asks.

Puck opens his eyes wide, chocking on his own breath. “I recognize your father’s touch!” he almost screams, turning to Dave, “You let your future husband teach that eyelashes thing to your son! Dude!”

“I didn’t let him!” Dave defends himself, “He keeps teaching him things like that during his father-son time. There’s nothing I can do. Kurt’s… Kurt.”

Puck sighs, nodding as if he perfectly knows how difficult could be to restrain Kurt from doing whatever he wants. And he actually knows it. “Luckily, it seems you’re going to marry him soon. So every other man will be safe. At least temporarily,” he ponders, nodding again. “This wedding needs to happen as soon as possible. That’s clearly my chance to save the world and the whole mankind.”

“Every other man was already safe even before,” Dave snorts, but Puck shakes his head.

“You know what they say, there’s nothing sure about the future. But you two have been together for so long,” he smiles sweetly, “So I think there’s at least one thing we can all be sure about the future.”

Dave smiles, while Leo finally understands Puck basically said yes without having to say it out loud. “You can bet,” he says, and Puck laughs a little, hearing those words.

“You know, I actually did,” he nods, and Dave arches an eyebrow, looking uncertainly at him.

“You did what?” he asks.

“Well, when you two started dating,” he remembers, while Leo suddenly forgets he still has to go to the bathroom, because he just loves to listen to the tales of his parents before they had him, “There was this thing in the football team. We never told you because we knew you’d be angry, and then you were already going through so much… Basically, Finn bet you wouldn’t last two weeks, while Sam said one month and Azimio was all ‘duuuude, it’s Dave Karofsky and Kurt Hummel we’re talking about, it’s like a fucking royal wedding, I’d be personally disappointed and offended if it lasts less than four months’,” he laughs, trying to imitate Azimio’s voice while both Dave and Leo laughs madly; he waits until they stop to talk again. “I gave you a year, and I bought two new guitars,” he nods, lifting his hands up in the air in a small gesture of triumph.

“Wow,” Dave laughs again, wiping a little tear from the corner of his eye, “I didn’t know any of that. But you bet the longest period, why?”

“You’re here, now, asking me to play for you during your singing proposal, dude,” Puck answers, still smiling, “And you ask me why I bet the longest period? I knew you were crazy enough to make it! Besides,” he adds, “You waited so long to ask him out, it would have been disappointing if it didn’t last long.”

Dave gives in to a little smile, as his eyes suddenly look so distant and shiny, his head filled with memories. “It took me, like… I don’t know, a month? Just to put together the words to tell him, and he was so pissed it took me so long.”

“Oh, God, I still remember him running around during that home economics class,” he remembers, laughing again while Leo starts jumping from one foot to another but is just too fascinated to ask for the toilet, “Singing that cheesy Emma Bunton song, what did it say? What took you so long, what took you all night, what took you forever to see I’m right? With all the other girls dancing on the desks. Creepiest moment of my life.”

“You really attended home economics classes?” Leo asks, opening his eyes so wide they seem to occupy the entirety of his face, “So how come you can not cook at all?”

“I wasn’t very good at it, ok?” Dave snorts, remembering the moment Puck just mentioned as one of the creepiest of his life too, just as much as that other moment in which he broke an egg and Brittany suddenly turned to him and screamed he was a murderer.

“And why did you sing during classes, uncle Noah?” Leo asks, turning to Puck.

“We used singing as a way to express our feelings,” Puck answers, smiling happily, “Even during classes, yes. Besides,” he adds, turning to Dave, “Creepy as it was, Kurt had all rights to sing his heart out, in that moment. I remember him constantly whining about how clueless you seemed whenever he came near you. And after how it ended with Blaine…” he stops for a moment, as if he just remembered something really important, “Speaking of which,” he says, “Are you going to invite him?”

“I…” Dave says, instantly averting his eyes, “I didn’t think about the guest list, yet. I don’t know. Maybe. Kurt will decide, I guess. I hate the guy, but Kurt… who knows. Maybe he’ll want him there.”

“It could be dangerous, don’t you think?” Puck asks, “Say he understood his mistake and wants your princess back,” he laughs.

“Over my dead body,” Dave snaps, suddenly turning to him, eyes shiny with jealousy and possessiveness, “He won’t go near Kurt unless I can see where his hands are.”

“Who is this guy you’re talking about?” Leo asks, arching an eyebrow.

“The little one here doesn’t know about prince charming, Blaine Freakin’ Warbler?” he asks, pointing at Leo, “Now, that’s a shame. Should I tell him?” he teases Dave with a grin.

“Is he a real prince?” Leo immediately asks, eyes filled with curiosity and admiration, while Dave groans, bothered by the turn the discussion is taking.

“Good job, Puckerman. Now he got the wrong idea. Come on, tell him the truth.”

Puck laughs, taking Leo in his arms and letting him sit on his lap. “Well, he wasn’t exactly a prince, but he really looked like one. You know, there was a time,” he starts telling the kid with his most mysterious tone, “Before you were born, even before your daddies started to date, when Kurt dated this young boy attending an all-boys school called Dalton, and he was always wearing an elegant uniform, as princes do. And he didn’t have a surname, most of the time. As princes do, too, now that I think about it.”

“What did the uniform look like?” Leo asks, so interested in the matter he definitely forgets his need for a toilet, “And why didn’t he have a surname? Was he cool like dad?”

“No, he wasn’t,” Dave immediately answers. Leo looks at him and than back at Puck.

“Daddy didn’t love him, right?” he asks, now somehow worried, probably because he noticed the little spark of insecurity in his father’s eyes.

“Well, I wouldn’t know,” Puck answers, actually thinking about it – that bastard – “Your daddy seemed pretty interested in him, but they both were so young they kind of lost themselves on the way. Which is good, because then your daddy found himself back again with your other daddy, and everything fell in its place.”

“That’s right!” Leo nods enthusiastically, “Daddy can’t love anybody but me and dad. And maybe aunt Rachel and aunt Mercedes, if he wants, but not as much.”

Puck laughs out loud, hugging Leo, touched by his words. “I’m sure he doesn’t love anything in the world as much as he loves you two. This, you can be sure about.”

“I am,” Leo answers, nodding again, “And I love him too. He adopted me with dad, did you know that, uncle Noah?” he starts, getting all excited like every time he has the chance to tell the wonderful tale of his adoption, something he manages to find the way to do as often as he can, even when no one asks him to do it.

“I totally didn’t know that!” Puck answers, opening his eyes and pretending to be really surprised, when he obviously does know everything concerning the kid’s adoption. “Here I was, thinking they found you under a cherry tree, feed by fairies and pampered by elves.”

“No, no!” Leo starts jumping up and down again, managing to escape Puck’s arms to fall down on his feet on the floor, turning to look seriously at him, “They wanted to have a baby so much they went to the hospital searching for one, and a kind lady gave me to them. I was sooo little.”

“Now that I think about it,” Puck answers, hitting the palm of his hand with a fist, “I remember you being so little I could hold you in one hand!” he nods, showing the kid his hand well open, “See? I remember your daddies putting you here, and you slept all the time.”

Leo nods again. “Daddy always says I would sleep all night through.”

“That’s because he didn’t have to wake up to feed him,” Dave adds, with a little snort.

“Well, he’s always been cute, at least,” Puck laughs, and Dave can’t help to smile in return.

“Yes, he is,” he nods, “That’s why I’m here now, with this little monster,” he adds, leaning on Leo to hold him tight in his arms and tickles him hard.

“No, no, no!” Leo screams and laughs, his whole body shaking, “Daddy, don’t! I have to pee, I have to pee!”

Puck laughs again as Dave lets his son go. “You two are gonna be a great married couple,” he states, “I can already picture you ten years from now, with your big house and the garden, and a thousand dogs.”

“Let’s just say a couple of dogs and one more kid,” Dave corrects him, while Leo jumps up and down screaming he wants a thousand dogs and can do without a brother.

“Well,” Puck says, ignoring him even though he’s so noisy, “You’ll have your honeymoon to think about it and generate another fruit of your love. Which leads us to another TMI discussion I definitely don’t wanna have right here and now. Or never.”

Dave laughs, standing up and holding Leo’s hand since he already knows the kid's going to run to the car the minute they’re out of the pub, careless of the other cars that could cross the street in the same moment he does. “You’ll have the report when we come back, for sure,” he teases him.

Puck shivers. “Fact is, I don’t want to,” he clarifies, “Now, just let me know the details for that singing proposal of yours, when you have them. I’ll do my best to help you.”

Dave smiles again, and actually leans in for a little hug before he goes. “I’ll give you a call.”


Dave is really nervous, that kind of nervous that makes his heart race and makes him want to turn around and run as fast as he can; but Leo is there beside him and he wouldn't allow that, let alone that Dave would never leave him there all by himself, so he has to stay.

This is insane. It feels like the senior prom all over again, when he came to this very same house to pick Kurt up and Burt's face was so grim he actually managed to scare the leaving shit out of him without saying a word. Burt was standing in a corner of the family room and watched as Kurt run down the stairs – beautiful beyond words – and hugged Dave happily, not daring to kiss him in front of his father. Burt's eyes were telling Dave that if he was just fooling around with his son, he would never, ever see the light of day after he had finished with him. Dave had shivered all the way back to the car.

Now, things are different because he actually lives with Kurt already and they have a son. Him being here in front of this door waiting to ask Kurt's hand to his father it is just a mere formality to keep up the tradition. Burt is not supposed to say no, what would they do if he did? It doesn't make any sense. Still, Dave wants to ask him and do things properly and he wants Burt's approval as much as he wants Kurt's because he needs to feel that the whole Hummel family is with him in this.

“Dad, can we please at least ring the doorbell?” Leo asks, looking up at him with a sigh. “We've been here for ten minutes now. It's weird, people are staring at us.”

Dave reaches for the doorbell and finally rings. The doorbell's sound is the same as ten years ago and still makes him shiver. It's going to be a very long and very hard chat with mr. Hummel.

It's Finn who opens the door with the most annoyed face ever. “What?” He spits out before actually noticing who's standing on the doormat.

“Hi to you too, Finn,” Dave says, raising a perplexed eyebrow.

“Sorry, man. We weren't expecting you,” he explains. Then he tries and look past him and Leo to see if Kurt is with them too. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes. Yes, everything's fine.”

“Who's there, Finn?” Burt’s voice comes from inside the house.

Finn puts his head back inside. “It's Dave with Leo,” he yells to his step-father, then turns back to Dave and gives him one of his smiles. “Me and Burt are about to watch the game. Wanna join us?”

“No, thanks,” Dave declines. “I... I actually thought I'd find you here because of, you know, the football game. I need to ask you something.”

Since Dave seems pretty serious, Finn nods seriously as well and steps back. “Uh. Okay, sure. Come in.”

Dave enters hesitantly, still uncomfortable with the whole situation, while his son precedes him in the living room. “Hey! Is that my nephew?” Burt says, looking at them from the armchair.

“Yes, it's me!” Leo answers, running to hug him. “Are you my grandpa?”

Burt laughs. “You can bet I am, little champion.” He lifts Leo up so he can sit on his lap. “How you doin'? Have you thought about starting to play football as I asked you last time we saw each other?”

“Not much,” Leo answers, honestly. “I really want to be a pilot, you know. But dad is teaching me something in the backyard because it's family business, he says. I know how to tackle, now.”

Finn is gone to fetch a couple of beers, so Dave can watch Leo and his grandfather having a chat of their own. Leo is pretty good at football, but he doesn't like it. And since he doesn't seem to like much dancing and singing either, he probably won't follow neither his nor Kurt's footsteps.

“Racing is too dangerous for a kid of your age!” Burt says. “Football would be a better choice, at least until you're old enough to get a driving license.”

“I'll drive go-karts until I'm old enough to drive real cars,” Leo explains, now playing with his grandfather's baseball cap. “Dad said he is going to think about it.”

Leo turns to his father for confirmation, but Finn is back and the two of them are talking so he lets it go and goes back to his grandfather.

“So, what is it you wanted to ask me?” Finn is saying, handing Dave his bottle of beer with a slightly uncomfortable smile.

“Yes, right. I was wondering if you can keep an eye on Leo tonight. I'd like to take your brother out to dinner. It's a special date,” he explains, sipping on his beer. “I know I should have called you first, but I have a lot on my mind right now and I just forgot.”

Finn doesn't understand why Dave is so upset. It is not like he never left Leo here or at Finn's house for that matter. Sooner or later each one of the group has babysittered Leo for a couple of hours or even the night, so Dave shouldn't be so worried for his kid. “Uh, it's alright, dude. We're going to watch the game for the rest of the night anyway. Keeping an eye on Leo won't be a problem at all. Why are you acting so weird? Is there something wrong? You can tell me, y'know.”

“It's nothing, really,” Dave tries to smile but what comes out is just a grimace of pain.

“It doesn't really seem so,” Burt says, just letting Leo go after tickling him so hard he can barely breathe anymore. The kid runs away blindly until he slams against his uncle Finn's legs. “You look like you're having gas.”

Finn laughs and takes Leo in his arms, heading with him upstairs, where he apparently has a present for him. Dave feels uneasy now more than ever after the gas joke and everything.

“Come on, have a sit,” Burt invites him, going back to watch the game.

Even after almost ten years of being with this man's son, Dave is still terrified of him; maybe it is because Burt has never been exactly rude with him. He has been just the right grade of finely threatening, enough to make Dave know he was closely watching him but not to make Carole or Kurt angry for being an asshole with him. Dave sits uneasily on the armchair opposite to Burt's and tries to find a way to talk to him in between a game action and the other.

“Do you know I recently became a vegetarian?” Burt asks, conversationally.

Dave doesn't know exactly what he is supposed to answer to that and most of all why Burt is telling him now. “Really. And why is that?”

Burt doesn't look away from the TV as he speaks. His eyes follow the players on screen with great attention. “My heart's sick. Doctor says it's time I start taking it easy, 'cause I'm getting old,” he says, sipping juice from an half empty bottle. “But that's not the point. Do you know what me being vegetarian means?”

“That... you don't eat meat, sir?” Dave says, hesitantly. It feels like an episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, except that he doesn't know exactly what he's going to lose if he doesn't answer correctly.

But Burt turns to him with a little smile. “It means that I'm not going to eat you alive, Dave,” he says, leaning over the armrest and touching Dave's knee with the bottle. “So relax.”

Dave smiles nervously. “I'm trying my best, sir.”

“Well, try harder,” Burt insists, turning back to the game. “You're sitting like your spine is made of iron or something. And stop calling me sir. I don't know why you're always doing that, but it creeps me out. You're not seventeen anymore and I'm not that old.”

Dave would be really upset by this answer if he couldn't see some mischievous smile lingering on Burt's lips. “Sure, Burt,” he says. “It just feels strange to call you by your first name when I came here to ask you something so delicate.”

He's expecting some sort of reaction, but he gets none. Burt keeps watching tv and sipping juice. “What is it?” he asks. “If you need money or something for the kid, me and Carole can help you but Kurt alone earns more in a week than me in a couple of months, so don't expect much.”

Dave wonders why everyone keeps thinking they need money. They’re actually pretty well off, with Kurt's career and everything. Not billionaire, maybe, but they've got their nest egg put aside in case of emergency. Just because they didn't move immediately in a bigger house or even a bigger city when Kurt landed his first well paid role on Broadway, it doesn't mean they are in dire straits or something. Dave could even quit his job and stay home with Leo, if he wanted to. Too bad he doesn't and he still have a problem with earning less than Kurt, but it's something he's slowly getting over with.

“Don't worry, we don't need any money,” he finally says aloud, getting out of his own head to answer. “I'm here to talk to you about me and Kurt.”

This attracts Burt's attention. “What about you two?” He asks suspiciously.

Dave is so happy to have him fully listening that he doesn't even care for the dangerous tone. “We've been together almost ten years now. And they have been the most beautiful years of my life.”

Burt relaxes and smiles sweetly to that, clearly not expecting any buts. “I'm pretty sure they've been the most beautiful years of Kurt's life so far too,” he says and then sighs, almost wistfully. “I admit I had my doubts on you, Dave. I couldn't really see why Kurt would choose you, considering he's a wonderful, talented and beautiful person, worthy of the best in the entire world, but looking in his eyes is enough for me to understand. He almost never smiles as he does when he's with you. So you must be worth it.”

Dave blushes a little. He is so grateful to hear those words that his heart could easily explode. “I'm so lucky to have him. And I love him more every day,” he says “I'm doing my best to make him happy as much as he makes me.”

Burt is already nodding. “I know you are, son. Is that why you won't let me see the end of this game? To tell me things I am already aware of? Y'know, you could have called, I would have spared you the trip. As I said, I had doubts on you but that was a long time ago. Now I wouldn't trust Kurt's life with anyone but you, so you can relax.” Burt laughs but keeps watching the game, completely unaware that something momentous is about to happen.

“I had to come, sir.” Dave takes a deep breath. The moment is finally arrived and if he doesn't do it now, he will never do it. “I'm actually here to ask your permission... to propose to Kurt, tonight.”

Burt's brain shuts down. He turns to Dave and looks at him like he is not seeing him at all. Dave's heart is racing madly. He is so scared, he can't even breath. This can end two ways, and right now he is not completely sure one of them is actually good.


Finn doesn't live here anymore, obviously.

He moved out to go to college and then never came back. He has his own house now, though it is not too far from Burt and Carole's because, just like Dave, he didn't really want to leave his parents. Or Lima, for that matter. But he spends a lot of time in the old family house, because he lives alone and he gets easily bored. His old room looks exactly the same and he sleeps there too sometimes.

Leo loves it. No other room of his grandparents' house but the attic is more appealing than Finn's old room to him. He likes to explore it and quest for the many treasures it holds. Finn never throws away anything, so there's plenty of his old toys and trophies in there. There are shelves and shelves filled with action figures from movies and comics. Some of them Leo recognizes from Dave's own collection of comics, but for the most part they are unknown characters he never heard of because he is too young. There is one in particular that never fails to get his attention. It is a green, gnomish figure wearing a purple cape that covers it completely, so you can't see its face except for its round, yellow eyes. Finn told him it is a mage or something but Leo doesn't care for the story behind it, he just likes the look of the character. It is the first doll he grabs every time he enters Finn's room. He is playing with it even now, although his main thought is the present Finn was talking about.

“Why did you buy me a present?” He asks. “It's not my birthday.”

“I didn't buy it,” Finn explains, taking out a big cardbox from under his bed. “It's one of my old games. I found it a couple of days ago and I thought you would like it.”

“What game is it?”

Finn smiles. “Go on, open the box and see for yourself.”

Leo kneels before the box and carefully lies the little toy beside him while he opens it. Inside the box there is one of those old fifth or sixth generation consoles. Leo knows them from the internet but he has never actually seen a working one. On top of it, a game with the biggest case he has ever seen.

“It's a go kart simulator,” Finn explains as he sits on his old bed to watch Leo going through the box. “It's a bit old, but it's still a good game.”

Leo's eyes are sparkling. “Really? That's so cool, uncle Finn!”

He watches closely every single piece he finds in the box, turning each one of them in his little hands. The console looks nothing like the ones he has at home; it is dusty, scratched and really ugly and squared, but as much as it is old, it holds a charm of its own. It's like when the old PSP his dad gave him. It has scratches all over it and it keeps getting stuck from time to time, but Leo loves it more than his brand new Nintendo Dsi-4 which he mostly needs to exchange Pokémons with his friends at school.

“Do you like it?” Finn laughs, looking at him with affection. He fell in love with Leo the moment he laid his eyes on him for the first time after Kurt and Dave brought him home. He is a very proud uncle and takes his role really seriously, which basically means he spoils Leo as much as he possibly can.

“Yes!” Leo cries, putting everything back in the box so he can drag it to the old TV in the room. “Can I try it?”

“Sure,” Finn nods. “Your dad said you're really enjoying this driving thing, recently. Is Kurt alright with it?”

“Not much, really.” Leo puts the console, the cables and the controller meticulously in front of the TV, trying to figure out what he is looking at. It has always been this way with him. He is the kind of child who always reads the instructions before playing with anything and doesn't want any help, unless he asks for it. Finn knows that, so he just watches.

“And you still want to drive? Even though you know how dangerous it could be?”

“Of course I do!” He looks at him and then back at the game. “And it's not so dangerous. Where's the motion sensor?”

Finn laughs. “There is no motion sensor, kid. This thing comes from a time of cables,” he says, pointing at the various parts as he proceeds to explain. “You connect the console to the TV and the fake steering wheel to the console. Then you just start the game and, you know, drive.”

“I got it.” Leo executes with no hesitation whatsoever. Like any kid his age, he is used to technology and has a quick grasp of it even if it is of a kind he has never seen before.

“This way, you won't have to actually drive a real go-kart,” Finn continues. But when Leo turns to look at him with a slightly troubled face, he realizes that maybe his words were too conclusive. “Obviously, I'm not saying you will never, ever drive a go-kart, but you can practice with this game first, so you can drive the real thing only when you know you're ready, and it'll be less dangerous.”

“I'm ready, uncle Finn,” Leo shrugs and moves the TV a bit to reach for the plugs on the back. “I'm not a little kid anymore and I want this more than anything else in the whole world. Except for one thing.”

“Hm? Something more important than go karts? And what would that be?” Finn asks, genuinely interested. He is more than willing to help Leo have whatever it is that can distract him from those damn mini-cars, since Kurt is driving him nuts, always complaining on how his only child will die in a go-kart accident at the tender age of six.

Leo is busy trying to figure out which cable goes where, so he doesn't bother turning around. “Dad marrying daddy.”

“Oh, yeah, that— WHAT?”

Leo is totally calm. He doesn't even look at him. “They're going to get married soon,” he explains patiently, like his uncle was a bit slow, which he is anyway.

“Kid, wait,” Finn says, standing up to get closer to him. Leo says the strangest things all the time, but this one seems pretty weird even for him. “What are you talking about? Kurt would have told me if he was getting married!”

Leo tries putting the yellow cable in the plug marked as A even if it is green, since all the other cables don't fit anyway. “That's because he doesn't know yet.”

“What the...” Finn starts saying, then he realizes. “Wait. Is your father...?”

Leo nods casually. “Yes. He's asking grandpa Daddy's hand right now.”

Finn leaves Leo in his room and run downstairs. There’s no way he’s going to miss it, and Leo will be okay on his own, anyway.


Burt has hardly spoken a word since he heard the big news, so Dave is basically reciting a monologue. And since speaking in front of people has never been his thing, he's getting more and more nervous as time goes by. “I love him, sir. A lot. And we've been together so long that it seems the perfect thing to do because it's actually the only thing missing,” he says, palm sweating, heart racing and everything. “I want to promise Kurt I'll never leave him in every way I possibly can and marrying him is pretty definitive... if a child wasn't already. I mean, I'm not saying that marriage is just a joke. Geez, I know I would mess this up.”

Burt keeps staring into nothing for the longest time after that, but then he eventually clears his throat.

“You know, when I was younger and Kurt's mom was still alive but Kurt wasn't born yet, I wanted to have a daughter so much,” he starts, finally looking at him. Dave tenses, because now that Burt is speaking who knows what he is going to answer. “I'm not saying I was disappointed when Kurt came out to be a boy, only that when I had fantasized about it, I wanted a girl. And you know why? 'Cause I kept thinking about how beautiful she would be, how sweet, how passionate, and I wanted her to find a man who could protect her and love her as she deserved, so I could give her away to the right one, and regret nothing. Then Kurt was born and, as you know, he was a boy. And times have changed. Nowadays no one asks the permission to marry someone to their father anymore, so I was just... you know, resigned I would never really had the chance to give him away.” Burt turns back to Dave and looks at him with shiny eyes. “I thought you would never ask.”

Dave has listened carefully and with the last words his face slowly relaxes. “Thank God you said yes,” he breathes out, relieved. “For a moment there I thought you were going to refuse.”

Burt laughs and shakes his head. “Your face was absolutely priceless,” he says. “I wish I had a camera hidden somewhere in this room.”

Dave laughs too because he is too happy even to be ashamed of his everlasting fear of Burt. In this very moment he actually feels the urge to hug the man, but he doesn't dare because he has never done such a thing before. “Thank you,” he says instead, with all the honesty he can put in his voice. “You can be sure I will always protect him and love him. Nobody can touch Kurt without me kicking their asses.”

It's Burt the one who stands up and opens his arms, then. “Come here, son. It's pretty good to call you like that, you know.”

Finn enters the room that moment, watching the two of them with wide, bewildered eyes. “Oh my God, then it's true!”

Caught in his bear but manly hug with Burt, Dave smiles proudly and happily at him. “You can bet it is, Finn,” he says. “Like it or not, you're going to be my official brother-in-law.”

Burt is overwhelmed with happiness, so he stops talking for once and sits down, letting the other two men talk about the event.

Finn is astonished and can't even form a complete sentence. “Whoa, man. I mean, this sounds like... I mean, it's pretty big.” For him, who is not married nor even engaged, marriage looks like some sort of epic quest only the bravest can complete. He is watching Dave with brand new eyes, now.

As far as he is concerned, Dave is trying to be cool, not to give in to panic. “It can't be bigger than a twenty years mortgage and a six years old kid who gets lices three times in a row while your brother – soon to be my beautiful husband – has a big show to do and wants to sleep in the garden fearing of taking them too, isn't it?”

Finn laughs. “I think I understand. Well, not really, but yes,” he says, giving Dave his right hand. “Congratulations, dude.”

Dave shakes his hand. “Thanks, man. Now I just hope Kurt will say yes.”

“Dude,” Finn says with such intensity to be almost ridiculous. “He's been planning his wedding since he was five.”

“Yes, I know.” Everyone knows that, actually. “But with Kurt you never know. Maybe the proposal won't be right, or... or the timing, or maybe now it's already too late or something. Your brother is not easy to understand sometimes.”

“Word,” says Finn, sitting on the couch with a heavy sigh. “But when it comes to you, then it's different. You really touch him.”

“I'm not completely sure to understand what your talking about,” David says, a bit puzzled. And that is your stepfather, who happens to be also Kurt's father, right here, so watch what you say. He would like to tell Finn that too, but he doesn't and just casts a very weird look at him, hoping he will get it.

“I mean,” Finn says, realizing what he has just said, “that you're close to him. You understand him. That's what I wanted to say. You're right.”

“And you're also late, I bet,” Burt adds, since he has turned back to his usual self in the meantime.

Dave looks at his watch and frowned. “Oh God, yes. I definitely am. I've got to pick him up in 5,” he says, and then turns to Finn for the last recommendation. “Take care of Leo. I'll be back to pick him up after dinner. Let's say at ten?”

“Dude, take your time. Your kid's going to be alright,” Finn reassures him.

Burt smiles and wishes him good luck.

Dave thanks him one last time and then he is off.


The restaurant is almost full, and Dave’s sweating. As he looks at Kurt, pretending to listen to whatever he’s saying about the food and how good it looks on the menu and how beautiful the place is and how he would have never thought Dave could take him to a place like this, Dave lets his thoughts wander back to his teenage years, to a very specific day, the one in which Kurt told him he didn’t dig on chubby guys who sweats too much and are going to be bald by the time they’re 30. He’s still chubby, though he managed to keep his weight under control – also because he could be easily fired if he didn’t, not to mention lose control on the bunch of crazy hyperactive kids he coaches – and he’s just 27, so he guesses it’s a little early to talk about balding and shit, but somehow sweating so much now is making him really uncomfortable. He can’t help but to think at the moment he will hold Kurt’s hand in his own, and he prays not to have sweaty palms by then. He wouldn’t survive the shame of having sweaty palms as he proposes to his lover. That would be so lame, not to mention disgusting. What if Kurt withdraws his hand with a horrified face? Dave just couldn’t stand that. Not in the most important moment of his life.

All of this is Leonard’s fault, he knows it. He just didn’t care about having a wedding before, and he’s pretty sure Kurt would never ask if he never brought that up, but now proposing to him seems like the only thing Dave can think about anymore. Every single second of his life is beaten by that thought. Asking Kurt. There’s nothing else in the world.

He’s glad this day’s almost over, because he can’t take any more of this. He doesn’t work well in stressful situations, and this is definitely one.

“Dave?” Kurt calls for him, frowning slightly behind his glass of red wine, “Are you even listening to me?”

“Wha— sure,” Dave immediately answers, nodding quickly, “Of course I’m listening.” He knows pretty well how Kurt can be annoyed by people not giving him the exact amount of attention he thinks he deserves – which is pretty much all they can give, and sometimes that much isn’t even enough – especially when he’s in a bad mood. God, Dave so wishes Kurt’s not in a bad mood. “So…” he starts, hoping Kurt won’t notice he actually wasn’t really listening at all, “What do you wanna eat?”

“As I already said…” Kurt answers, which means he noticed. Well, at least he’s still smiling. That’s good. As long as his smile doesn’t turn in that awkward smirk that always comes right before a fight, everything’s good. “There are so many delicious things here,” Kurt comments, flipping through the menu, “It’s a very fancy restaurant, Dave. I’m really… impressed.”

“Did you think I would learn nothing, living with you for almost ten years?” Dave asks, smiling nervously and trying to keep himself from randomly fidgeting on his suddenly really uncomfortable chair. He clumsily leans on the table, holding out a hand and brushing his fingertips over Kurt’s loosely closed fist.

Kurt blushes instantly, looking back at him. “Sometimes, I can’t even believe so much time has passed,” he says softly, his smile so sweet that Dave almost burns with the need to kiss him, to taste it and tell if it really is as sweet as it looks.

“Yeah…” Dave smiles too, casually caressing Kurt’s hand, “We’ve almost been together longer than we’ve been apart,” he considers, chuckling softly, and as he lets his eyes wander over the restaurant’s big room his breath almost got caught up in his throat. Leo’s here, hiding behind a curtain near the kitchen door. His uncle Finn is with him, and he’s so big the curtain’s barely enough to cover half of him, while Leo, not really caring about hiding at all, stays beside him, watching closely over what’s happening at their table.

Finn gestures something, probably an apology. Dave can read on his mouth that he’s sorry, that it was Leo’s idea and that he wants to die. Three things he doesn’t really care about right now. Luckily, they’re behind Kurt’s back, at least.

“Dave?” Kurt frowns, and Dave’s eyes instantly switch on him, “You’re really distracted, tonight. Is everything ok?”

“Of course, honey. I’m sorry, I’m just… nevermind.” He manages to smile, squeezing Kurt’s hand one last time before retreating his own and starting to go through the menu. “What were you saying?”

“That you should stop making me blush,” Kurt answers, laughing in a low voice, “Because blush doesn’t match the color of my shirt tonight. But it sounded better the first time, I’m sorry you missed it.”

Dave laughs too, shaking his head a little. “It’s still funny, though. Don’t worry.”

“Yeah, sure,” Kurt pretends to be very offended, pouting and scoffing and crossing his arms over his chest for a moment, “Keep going on like that, ruining my lines and then pretending to be still amused by them.” He shakes his head too, his cheeks pleasantly flushed as he flips through the menu once more, trying to act casually when he speaks again. “So, what’s the occasion?” he asks, “We’ve got a big anniversary coming on, but it’s in three weeks.”

“Nothing special,” Dave lies, throwing a nervous glance at Leo, hoping he sees the scolding in his eyes and understands he really has to hide behind the curtain. He obviously doesn’t get it and stays exactly where he is, and Dave is not sure that he would hide if he understood that’s what his father’s asking him to do. Sometimes he doesn’t really know if it’s harder to be Kurt’s partner or Leo’s father. What he knows is that the combination of the two things will probably be the death of him. “I just wanted to hang out with you,” he manages to say with a smile, “It’s been pretty hard to do that recently, since we’ve got no time and, when we’re free, we’re always with Leo.” He laughs a little, shifting uncomfortably on his chair when he sees Leo move a step forward and almost clash against an innocent waiter. Finn manages to avoid the disaster grabbing his nephew from under his arms and forcing him to step back, closer to the curtain. “I… don’t think I’ve been this good with you, in the last few… months,” Dave sighs, looking back at Kurt.

Kurt smiles immediately, his eyes so full of love and joy Dave feels himself melting inside. “You’ve been busy being a good dad. I can’t be mad for that.”

“Yeah, but you deserve some attention too, once in a while,” Dave insists, “And don’t talk to me like I don’t know that another couple of weeks without a ‘you look gorgeous, tonight’ and you’d have kicked me out of bed,” he adds in a sweet laugh, gently kicking one of Kurt’s legs under the table.

Kurt laughs, kicking him back. “That’s true. It’s just that I like it so much when you say that to me,” he explains, almost purring softly at the mere thought of hearing a compliment like that addressed to himself, “You know, our little moments away from my shows and your team, back when we still had time for us… I miss that, just a bit.”

Dave’s whole body tenses for a moment, as he holds Kurt’s hand in his once again, squeezing it softly. “Well, then,” he says, “what if we could have the opportunity to take some time just for the two of us?”

Kurt blankly stares at him, blinking a couple of times and looking kind of clueless, which is actually funny, because Kurt never looks like that. He loves to keep things in control, he’s not really wild as a person – especially when they’re out of bed – and he panics when he feels something important is happening somewhere near him and he doesn’t understand what it is. This time, though, he seems more prone to breath in and out and count to ten before he panics. This gives Dave enough time to cast an uncertain glance at Finn and Leo, which are clearly rooting for him from their hidden position behind that curtain.

“It would be lovely,” Kurt admits, sighing a little, “But it’s not like it’s going to happen, isn’t it?”

“But if you could choose, I mean…” Dave clears his throat, looking and feeling kind of uncomfortable now that he feels the moment approaching, “if we could just go wherever we wanted, for, like, a week or two, where would you like to go?”

“Well, if I could choose, I would like to see Europe,” Kurt finally answers, his voice soft and distant, his eyes dreamy as he just needed to fantasize to go exactly where he wants to. “I’ve never been there, you know? London, maybe, or Paris. It would be wonderful to see Paris.”

Dave chuckles, holding Kurt’s hand more sweetly, now, squeezing it in his right hand as he brushes the soft skin on his knuckles. “I think we could go both to London and to Paris, then,” he nods, starting to find really amusing the bewildered look on Kurt’s face. “It has to be a pretty special trip, you know,” he adds with a little smile, “It’s for a special occasion.”

“What…?” Kurt asks, arching an eyebrow, “Dave, what are you talking about?”

Dave clears his throat again, hoping his voice won’t scratch when he starts singing. He actually can’t believe he’s about to sing. It’s the silliest thing ever. Suddenly, he wishes Puck had been convincing enough to stop him, back at his place. Instead he hadn’t, and now Dave’s here, leaving Kurt’s hand to stand up while Puck himself appears – apparently out of nowhere – holding his guitar in his arms like a lover, and starts playing the intro to the song. Dave prepares to sing and Kurt looks so shocked. Dave searches for his son’s eyes to remember why this whole insanity is still worth it, and Leo’s still hiding with Finn, and he’s smiling so brightly he alone is enough to lighten up the room, and Dave knows it’s worth it. It really is.

Say that you’ll marry me, sometimes carry me, and I will be there forever more for you,” he starts singing, as Kurt’s eyes wander from Dave’s face to Puck’s, so wide and shocked he’s almost hilarious.

“Oh my God…” he whispers, covering his mouth with both his hands, “Is it…?”

Dave can’t help but smile as he holds out a hand to Kurt and gently helps him to stand up, moving away from the table and holding him close to slowly dance with him. “And if you marry me, I will give ev’ry thing, and I will do anything that you need me to…”

“It’s a proposal!” Kurt almost sobs, tears shining in his blue eyes, “A singing proposal!” He tries to hide his face against Dave’s chest when he notices everybody’s staring – mostly because they’re dancing and Puck’s jumping all around them chanting backvocals and improvising improbable dance steps – but he ends up laughing as he keeps watching him, with an adoring look in his eyes. “You’re singing to me. Oh my God.”

Dave laughs a little. Kurt is so, so beautiful and cute, in this very moment, he can’t even believe he waited so much to ask him. It’s just the most natural thing to do. He loves Kurt so much, he always will. This is just the best gift he could give to him, and so he kneels right in front of his future husband and takes his hand in his own, looking straight in his eyes as he sings the last verses of the song. “You’ll know by the love in my eyes and the beat of my heart, I’ll be there. You’ll know ‘cause you’ll never be lonely again, anytime, anywhere. This I promise if you marry me.” He stops singing, smiling brightly. Puck stops right beside him, holding his breath like everybody else in the room. “So… What do you say?”

Kurt giggles confusedly, wiping away the tears from his own eyes. He’s on cloud nine, right now, and Dave feels so proud, both because he can tell and because he’s the one who brought him there. “I say yes,” Kurt answers, his voice breaking a little, “I would say yes a hundred times.”

Dave smiles again, reaching for the little velvet box he’s been hiding in the back pocket of his jeans for the whole night. Leo chose the ring, obviously, and Dave happily let him, so it’s really easy to smile brightly now that he hears Leo squeal in joy, still hiding somewhere, so Kurt can’t see him. “May I…?” he asks, his cheeks flushed as he moves the ring closer to Kurt’s finger.

“Oh God, you’ve got a ring too!” Kurt almost screams, holding out his hand to him, maybe a little too much eagerly. So much he actually almost slaps him in the face. Dave laughs, and he’s ok even with this.

“I knew you’d be happier for this than for my performance!” he comments, pretending to be really outraged, while the truth is he’s not. He puts the ring around Kurt’s finger and then stands up, searching for his eyes and smiling again when Kurt looks at him. He’s crying. He’s the most beautiful thing Dave has ever seen in his entire life, and he's his. “Are you happy?”

Kurt looks down at his ring and stares at him for a couple of seconds, like he can’t see anything else. “It’s so beautiful, I love it.” He raises his eyes again, holding Dave close around his waist. “And you… you…” he sobs a little, unable to stop crying or just calm down, “I love you too. I love you so much,” he whispers, moving forward to close the distance separating them, kissing him slowly and deeply, wrapping his arms around his neck.

The crowd around them cheers, everybody raises their glasses as they keep kissing, and there’s a little voice in the back of Dave’s mind that speaks right to his heart. “Not bad, Dave Karofsky,” that’s what the voice says, “not too shabby”. He parts from Kurt, and catches a glimpse of his son cheering with Finn. The moment Leo notices Dave’s looking at him, he immediately stops, smiles as shiny as the sun itself and gives him a thumbs up. That’s the best reward for the night, and all in all Dave can go home satisfied.


The news of the marriage spreads fast, thanks to a dense network of gossip and to some lovely cards, designed by Leo, who has run out of crayons to draw them all under the supervising and equally fussy eye of his father Kurt.

Soon, David finds out that after the worst part has been done – actually proposing to Kurt – there is no much left for him to do, because Kurt and Leo takes over the wedding and do everything in their power to be sure that he or any other adult male of the family is as out as possible of their way.

Female specimens of the species are called to help, though. Rachel, Mercedes, Lauren and even poor, confused Brittany, all converge to the Bridal Emporium, in Wapakoneta, answering the mandatory summoning of the little man himself, who is now really busy briefing them standing on a footstool.

“Me and daddy went through the shop on line catalogue and chose ten possible outfits for him,” he says, very seriously. “Now, daddy is gonna try them all and you will tell us what you think about them.”

“Is he always so business-like?” Rachel asks, looking at him with a raised eyebrow. “Shouldn't he be out, playing with a rattle or something?”

Living in New York and being busy as she is with all the big productions she is involved in, Rachel has seen Leo only a couple of times since the day he was born and quite obviously she doesn't know him – or any child – at all. She and Leo has been staring at each other curiously for quite some time now.

“Rachel, he's six years old. He is not a baby,” Mercedes tells her, rolling her eyes, exaggeratedly.

“Well, with toy soldiers or something, then,” she insists.

“Is it something wrong, aunt Rachel?” Leo asks, speaking up and looking in her direction like a teacher who has surprised her talking with the girl next to her.

Lauren leans on Rachel's shoulder. “You better pay attention, woman,” she murmurs. “Leo doesn't forgive.”

Rachel swallows. “No, everything's fine.”

“Good,” Leo nods. “Then, please be quiet. Daddy needs complete silence.”

“That kid scares me,” Rachel says when Leo's eyes finally leave her and she feels allowed to breathe again.

“He is not a kid,” Brittany steps in with her most serious face and casual tone. “He is a baby alien. He only eats cauliflower, except that on his planet they are pink and sparkly and taste like strawberry smoothie.”

Rachel looks at her not knowing if she should feel more compassionate or resigned.

“It's true,” Brittany nods eagerly. “He told me.”

As Rachel sighs, going for compassion, Leo glares at them and doesn't stop looking until he is sure they will not talk again. Then he smiles and proceeds to introduce his father who is been waiting behind the curtains of the changing room for half an hour now and is starting to feel hot in there.

The first three suits don't encounter the favor of the audience, who finds them way too plain for Kurt. The fourth and fifth are okay for most of the girls, but just okay is not exactly what Kurt and Leo are looking for. According to Leo, Kurt should look like a prince from the fairy tales, while Kurt wants something more memorable, with some tartan insertions and maybe a sash or some beads.

“So basically, we're looking for a punk tuxedo with some feathered hat or something?” Lauren asks, not quite sure.

“It's gonna be so easy to find it, here in Ohio,” Mercedes says, ironically.

“Why aren’t you marrying in New York?” Rachel asks. “You would have the best wedding shops at your disposal, catering services, flower arrangement specialists and let alone the most gorgeous city landscape to use as a background for your wedding photos. Besides, you need something to draw the attention from Dave, you know?”

Mercedes elbows her in her ribs so hard that Rachel almost bends over with a little cry. “Don't worry sweetie,” she says to Kurt, smiling lovingly “we are gonna find something you like.”

Fortunately, Kurt knows Rachel and her complete lack of tact too well to get upset by her words. Besides, he is actually so happy about this marriage that Rachel could say whatever she wants about Dave and he would smile at her anyway. “Dave wants to marry in Lima,” he explains as he takes off the sparkling blue marine vest he is wearing and gives it to Leo who hands him another one. “Here is where we met and fell in love with each other, so it seems right to celebrate our relationship where it began.”

Rachel lets out a very silly sound. “That's so romantic, Kurt!”

“I know,” he chuckles. “You wouldn't expect that from Dave, right?”

“I didn't expect anything from him, actually,” Rachel sighs. “I thought he wasn't the right guy for you.”

Mercedes elbows her again and then nods towards Leo. The kid is listening very carefully to everything they say but as every other kid he pretends not to, so he just prepares the next outfit for his father.

“Apparently, you were wrong,” Kurt smiles, anxious to end the discussion before it gets too ugly. “So, what's next, little pumpkin?”

“This one,” the boy says, holding up a swallowtailed coat he wants Kurt to wear since the first time they saw it in the catalogue. Leo likes it because it is old fashioned and with its whiteness satisfies his need to have some kind of bride at this wedding, even if his parents are both male. Obviously the bride has to be Kurt because Leo can't image Dave to play the role, not even wearing pants.

Kurt puts on the white suit and turns around in front of the mirror. From the couch where all his future bridesmaids are sitting comes a chorus of “aaw” and “wow” that makes Leo really proud.

“This is the best so far,” Mercedes smiles, pulling Leo on her lap. He settles against her body very naturally and nods a couple of times.

“I chose it,” He says.

“I suggest a touch of color in the front pocket,” Rachel says. “What about a blue foulard?”

“My cousin Layton had an onion in his front pocket, ” Brittany says casually. “To keep away the vampires.”

Leo frowns. “That's garlic, aunt Brit.”

“Garlic is for normal vampires,” she explains. “Onions are for wedding vampires. They come to steal the cake and make everybody sad.”

“Those would be great and funny stories,” says Mercedes, shaking her head. “If only you didn't believe them.”

Brittany doesn't understand why everybody is rolling their eyes, but she doesn't have the time to ask because her always ephemeral attention is caught by something only she sees and that she stands up to chase around the room for.

“So, what about your something borrowed?” Lauren asks as she helps Kurt straighten the coat on his back.

“Finn gave me his lucky tie. It was his father's, he wore it at his own wedding,” Kurt smiles to her through the reflection.

“Will you wear something of your mother as something old?” Mercedes asks.

Kurt nods. “I have one of her rings,” he says. “Dad gave it to me when she died because it was my favorite piece of her jewelry. It's gonna be my wedding ring.”

He smiles. His mother's memory never ceased to be painful, but it has always been a good and warming one as well. Kurt likes to imagine her next to himself now, looking at him fondly like he remembers her doing. She would sit on the porch as he was playing with his toy china set, pretending to have tea with His Majesty the Queen of England, and she would smile and weave at him. She had the most beautiful smile in the world.

“So, speaking of something old,” Rachel steps in and, by her tone, everybody knows she is doomed to say something extremely uncomfortable. “Did you invite Blaine?”

Silence falls on the room and Rachel gets elbowed in her ribs once again. Kurt clears his throat and he seems rather to be waiting for someone to change the subject than willing to answer the question.

“Wait,” Brittany stops doing whatever she's doing with her arms up in the air under the chandelier. “Can you use people for that? Isn't he too young to be something old?”

Leo suddenly remembers. “Blaine?” He says to his father. “Is he the guy without a surname? The one you were in love with when you were little?”

Kurt's eyes widen. “How do you know that?”

“Uncle Noah told me,” Leo explains. “He said that Blaine always wore a uniform and that he is a prince.”

“Don't worry, Kurt,” Lauren assures him. “I'm beating Puckerman senseless, tonight.”

“Well, he is charming,” Rachel states. “He could easily be a prince.”

“He is not a prince,” Kurt says, kneeling in front of his son. “He is an actor, like aunt Rachel and me. He was my boyfriend when we were in high school, long before you were born. Now, he is just a friend. A very good friend of mine.”

“And is he coming to the wedding?” Leo asks him.

“I don't know, baby,” Kurt kisses him on his forehead. “I sent him his card, we'll have to wait and see if he wants to come.”


Dad has been whining for the last hour and a half and Leonard can’t honestly take anymore of this shit. He knows he’s not supposed to use the S-word, and he’s sure that Kurt would go crazy if he even suspected he knows what does it mean (even though Leo can’t help but wonder what does his father think six years old kids are nowadays, whenever he thinks about all the words Kurt strongly believes Leo doesn’t understand, while he obviously does), but seriously, Dad’s out of his mind. Besides no one can hear him if he uses the word only in his thoughts. So he’s totally free and entitled to think his dad just lost his mind and that he can’t take anymore of his crazy shit, because it’s too much.

“Dad!” he almost screams, turning to him and punching him on his side just to make him stop babbling senselessly, “Would you please cut it out and give me a rest?!”

“I’m just saying!” Dave insists, flailing his arms everywhere, so wildly a couple of people waiting in front of the arrival gate actually turn and stare at him, trying to get if everything’s right or if he’s having a heart attack or something similar. Sometimes Leo feels ashamed to be seen with his parents. They’re so childish. “Your father could at least ask if I needed some help today! Offer to do something!”

“Dad, you know he would if he had time!” Leo whines, hiding behind Dave’s legs because people keep staring at him like he’s the reason why his father’s screaming so much, “He had to find the right dress for his bridesmaids. You know it’s not simple!”

“First of all, he’s not a bride, he doesn’t need bridesmaids,” Dave snorts, crossing his arms over his chest, which is actually good, because now, at least, he’s not flailing anymore, and Leo can stop hiding, “And then what, just because he’s got to go through countless shops ‘cause he’s demanding like a five years old spoiled girl, then I get to do everything else? Pick up Santana, choose the wedding cake, fetch my wedding ring, check on the place for the wedding reception and then drive Santana to fetch her dress for the ceremony?!”

“Dad, stop being so loud, please!” Leo whines again, covering his face with both his little hands, “You would have been the one picking up auntie Tana and driving her to fetch her dress anyway!”

“But I would have gladly spared myself the travel to the bakery and the wedding reception place!” Dave whines back, not even thinking about lowering his voice.

And then it happens. Then auntie Tana happens.

“I see you’re still the usual lame-ass, whining, unnerving, childish and insufferably annoying waste of space you’ve always been, Karofsky,” she says, appearing in front of the arrival gate wearing the shortest black leather mini-skirt ever seen on the face of earth, heels so high she looks taller than Dave and a white tight shirt that pushes up her boobs like she’s offering them to the world to adore them. Her eyes are cold as stone and her lips tightly closed, like carved on her face, but then they melt in a little smile and her gaze becomes warmer too, and everything in the world seems more beautiful and both Leo and Dave are looking at her like she’s a miracle, an angel just landed on Earth to bring the sacred word of God. “You haven’t changed at all, you asshole.”

It appears God’s sacred word is a little bit crude, today. He must be pissed off or something.

“Tana!” Dave smiles, his whole face lightening up. He practically throws himself at her, hugging her tightly while she does the same; she’s so smaller than him she completely disappears in his hug, and Leo can’t see her anymore. Which is disappointing, because auntie Tana is a pleasure to look at. Leo doesn’t really get why – but then he’s just six, he kind of knows he’s not supposed to know why, yet – but she is.

Auntie Tana lives in New York, just like aunt Rachel, but unlike aunt Rachel – who’s always walking blindfolded on the verge of a nervous and emotional breakdown – she lets only the cool things from New York affect her personality. She’s all kind of awesome, auntie Tana, always cool and stylish, and Leo loves how she talks, especially when she talks to him, because she doesn’t treat him like the idiotic kid everybody else thinks he is. She treats him like a young man, and that’s just freaking awesome.

However, since she lives so far away, it’s not unusual to see her just every once in a while, only on special occasions, also because she doesn’t like Lima very much. Leo agrees with her on that – among many other things he agrees with her on – because Lima’s just depressing. There’s nothing in here, that’s why he wants to be a pilot when he grows up, so he can travel the world on his shiny red car and see everything that’s worth seeing. And that’s why he wanted to be an astronaut before wanting to be a pilot, because who else sees more than what an astronaut sees? An astronaut gets to see the whole world from the space! That would be awesome. Just thinking about it makes Leo want to be an astronaut again, though now he’s totally over it and totally into driving and cars. He wanted to be something else, before wanting to be an astronaut, by the way; he doesn’t remember anymore because he was very, very little back then, but he’s sure it was something that would lead him to see a lot of different places too, like an airplane pilot, or a magician – because magicians travel the world with their shows, obviously – or maybe join the circus. Or something like that. Something that can take him away from Lima, because he doesn’t like it here. Auntie Tana’s right, she always is, Lima’s just plain boring.

That’s not important right now, though, that’s just him spacing out and drowning in his own thoughts as he often does. Actually, so often people thinks he’s dumb. Because there are times he just sits there staring at the void in his head and he thinks and thinks and thinks and…

“So,” auntie Tana says, breaking the flow of his thoughts, “Why do you let this lousy imitation of a father pester you like this?” she asks, bending over Leo and wrapping her arms around him, lifting him up in a sweet and warm hug. Leo chuckles, leaning against her and enjoying her delicious smell and the soft sensation of her skin under his hands. “You’re, like, twice a smart-ass than he is, concentrated in less than half the space. You should already be going around accomplishing your important mission.”

“Which would be?” Dave inquires, raising an eyebrow at her while he retrieves her enormous luggage and leads them both to the car.

Auntie Tana smirks and Leo blushes. She’s so beautiful, she’s unbelievable. When he grows up, he wants a girl just like her. Better, he’s going to marry her precisely, because there’s no one like auntie Tana in the whole world and he loves her so much. “Conquering and then destroying the world, obviously,” she answers, and Leo laughs, amused.

“It’s on my to-do list!” he nods, and his father rolls his eyes.

“Don’t give him any weird suggestion, he might just as well take you seriously.”

Auntie Tana chuckles – Leo feels her soft laughter vibrate under his fingertips, and he chuckles too – sitting in the car and letting Leo free to climb on the backseat, placing himself right between herself and his father, like he’s supposed to guide them or something, and he therefore needs to see the streets clearly.

“So, where are we going?” she asks, “I wanna go shopping.”

“I’m afraid that’ll have to wait,” Dave snorts. “We have to do a couple of things and see a couple of places before.”

“You’re always the same,” Santana pouts, crossing her arms over her chest and looking out the window as Dave starts the engine and begins driving down the street, leaving the airport, “You would take any chance to avoid taking me shopping!”

“Believe me, Lopez, I would trade our plans for the afternoon with shopping with you anytime,” Dave sighs, shaking his head, “But you see the little soldier sitting…” he looks at his son in the rearview mirror, “I said sitting,” he repeats, and Leo lets out an irritated snorting sound, sitting properly on the backseat. “What was I saying? Oh, yeah, the little soldier. He’s here to watch our every move. We can’t deviate from the original plan, or we will be forced to face the sentence of death.”

Santana looks at him, raising an eyebrow. “You’re such a drama queen,” she says. “So, Leo, where are we going?” she asks again, turning to the kid and smiling at him.

He instantly smiles back. “First, we have to go and fetch dad’s wedding ring,” he explains, “Daddy was smart enough to have his already, but dad wasn’t, so he had to buy it, and today it should be ready, so we have to go and pick it up. If you ask me, it was stupid of him not to have a ring already. Daddy’s always smarter.”

Santana nods in agreement. “I know, your father here is just dumb. It’s an old story.”

“Could you both please give me a rest?” Dave whines, keeping his eyes locked on the street both because he doesn’t want to take the wrong way, and because he doesn’t want to give Leo and Santana too much attention, since he doesn’t think they deserve it.

“Then,” Leo proceeds, ignoring him, “we have to go pick the cake.” He smiles fondly just thinking about it, “Daddy said I could choose it, because he wants me to like it.”

“So we’re going to have a damn chocolate car-shaped cake, at our wedding,” Dave sighs. His son glares at him, pouting.

“Dad, you’re just so dumb,” he protests, “I’m not stupid, I know that the wedding cake must be pure white. We’re going to have it chocolate flavored, sure, but covered in cream!” he decides with a bright smile. “What do you think, auntie Tana?”

“I think you’re a little genius, really,” she answers, giggling. “Besides, I love me some chocolate to bite at, in every way this sentence could possibly be interpreted, so bring it on.”

“If you could just keep your innuendos far from my firstborn underage ears, Tana, that’d be very kind of you,” Dave snorts. He ends up being ignored as usual.

“After that,” Leo continues, “We’re going to check on the place daddy and I chose for the wedding reception. It’s awesome, it’s in the country. There are hills and a lake and horses running around. They keep them in their stables and then let them run around free on the horizon during the photocall. It’s great.”

“Oh, my God,” Santana laughs, shaking her head and looking at Dave as she points at Leo, “Is he real? Is he a clone or something?”

“Just… don’t let me even start on this,” Dave sighs, and Leo looks at both of them, puzzled.

“Did I say something wrong?” he asks.

Santana turns to him, smiling sweetly. “Not at all, buddy. Anyway, when are we going to buy some candies for auntie Tana?”

“I have candies,” Leo answers, “Here, in my pocket.” He nods and starts scrambling in his jeans’ pockets, while Santana gracefully laughs her ass off.

“I didn’t mean real candies, Leo,” she explains, “I meant a dress for me.”

“Oh!” Leo nods, not at all bothered by having said and done something really stupid, “Right after we check on that place. We can go shopping and you can buy a wonderful silk red dress and be beautiful while being dad’s best man.”

Santana laughs again, the thought of a silk red dress awakening a lot of memories in her mind. She looks at Dave, and he looks back at her, smirking lightly. She does the same. “A red dress, huh?” she ponders, “We’ll see about that.”


“That’s not exactly what I had in mind,” Dave says, and he really hopes Santana doesn’t ignore him this time because he’s had enough of this behavior. She and Leo kept ignoring him the whole afternoon, and it was kind of unnerving. They chose the cake, they told the decorator how to arrange the room for the reception, they even had some – definitely unwanted – remarks on his wedding ring, and had to surrender and take it as it was only because there was not enough time to order a new one who they would have liked better.

This time, though, Santana can’t just keep going her own way ignoring him, and not only because even Leo (who would usually be more than happy to kiss the ground beneath her feet) seems confused now, but mainly because it’s Dave’s wedding they’re talking about, and he won’t allow his best man, which happens to be his ex-fake girlfriend too, to wear a suit more manly than the one he himself is going to wear.

“Oh, shut up, Karofsky, it’s awesome,” Santana answers, smiling so brightly her face practically shines. “And it looks so damn sexy on me.”

“It’s a man suit!” Dave insists, flailing his arms and stopping only when he sees his own reflection on the mirror Santana’s using to look at herself, and find himself so stupid he barely can stand himself. “You want a suit? Fine by me! We’ll find a woman’s suit!”

“But I want this one,” Santana replies, tying the bow tie around her white shirt’s collar. “It’s amazing. You can fix it for my body, can you?” she asks to the young, timid tailor who’s throwing frightened glances at her and Dave alternatively.

“I… I guess,” the guy answers, torturing the tape he’s holding in his hands.

“Great,” Santana smiles, “Then go on, take my measurements,” she commands, holding out her arms and standing in front of the mirror, offering herself to the man. He nods and starts working, and as he moves around her like a busy bee she looks at Dave in the mirror. “What’s your problem, now?”

“If you don’t get in on your own…” he snorts, sitting on the stuffed bench where Leo has been sitting in silence for the last half hour, since Santana picked her outfit. “Tell her something!” Dave says to his son, and the kid turns to him, his eyes so big Dave can see his reflection inside them.

“She’s wearing a man suit,” he says.

“Yeah, I can see that already,” Dave scoffs, crossing his arms over his chest and turning back to Santana. “You see? You traumatized him. Look at his face! He’s shocked.”

“He’s yours and Kurt’s son, I don’t see why crossdressing should shock him,” Santana peacefully answers.

“Why? Because we don’t crossdress! That’s why!” Dave says, eyes wide open, quite shocked himself.

“Oh, come on,” Santana laughs, “Kurt used to wear skirts all the time in high school.”

“Ok, first, he didn’t wear skirts all the time,” Dave considers, using his fingers to count his points on the matter, “Secondly, he still wears them, but they’re skirts for men. Can you see the subtle yet essential difference? That’s why I said you can wear a suit, if you want, but let’s be sure it’s made for a woman!”

“Oh, cut it out, Karofsky!” Santana finally stops him, turning around so suddenly and violently she makes the poor tailor trip and fall on the ground. “I’m sorry, man,” she apologizes with a little smile, and then jumps off the footstool she was standing on to help the man take her measurements. In a couple of steps, she’s only inches away from Dave, and she looks at him, clearly bothered by his nonsense talking. She looks at him like that just for a couple of seconds, though, because she kneels besides him right after that, looking at Leo. “Hey, buddy,” she smiles, “What about this suit?”

“It’s a little confusing,” Leo answers, biting at his lower lip.

“I get it. But, you know, not every confused thing is bad on principle. Some things just need to be like that, because they can’t be explained any other way,” she nods. “Me, for example,” she adds, smirking. “I really like this suit. Is it confusing? Yes. Will people look at me like I’m some kind of alien from outer space? Probably, yeah. But the real point is, do I look good in it?” she smiles again, “You tell me.”

Leo actually takes his time, before answering. And that’s bad, because it means he’s actually considering the facts as he sees them. And Dave knows what Leo sees, because he’s seeing it himself.

“You look good in everything, auntie Tana,” he finally answers, blushing a little as he smiles confidently, or better, pretending to feel really confident as he compliments her.

Santana laughs, standing up, perfectly satisfied. “Then it’s decided,” she says, turning to Dave. “You have something else to complain about, Karofsky?” she asks him.

Dave just scoffs and laughs, shaking his head. “I missed you, Lopez,” he says, instead of answering.

Santana winks at him, climbing back on the footstool and letting the tailor go back to his job. “Man, please, just stop being in love with me, it’s been ages already, and you’re getting married.” Her smiles turns sweeter, and Dave can see it in the mirror’s reflection. “I can’t believe it. I’m so proud of you.”

Dave smiles back at her, stepping forward and entwining his fingers with hers. “That’s the whole point of the matter, in the end,” he says, “I mean, being proud.”

“You sure have come a long way,” she says, turning to him, still smiling. “And you’re happy, now.”

He chuckles softly, pressing his lips against her in a sweet, chaste kiss. Leo looks at them and smiles, because what he’s seeing is just cute. And he’s just happy. His fathers are going to marry. Auntie Tana and every single person he and his fathers love will be there. It will be the most beautiful wedding ever seen, and he feels proud about it. And dad’s right, that’s the whole point of the matter, in the end. Being proud.

This, and – as he demands in a whimsical whine jumping off the bench – getting to kiss auntie Tana on her lips too.


All things being ordered to various shop owners or taken care of by Kurt himself or his mobilized soon-to-be husband, the only thing left are the wedding rehearsals, which mainly consist into reenacting every single part of the ceremony as many times as possible because, as Kurt has said too many times not to be hated by all his guests, practice makes perfect.

After a tiring three hours session of walking down the aisle, pretended wedding vows to each other and an insane amount of singing, Dave asked for mercy and Kurt granted him and all their pissed guests a five minutes rest which they all accepted cursing and throwing at him very bad words to say to a groom.

He himself, though, won't rest, because he can't waste time sitting when all the decorations are yet to be done. Actually, in the past week the interior decorator hired for the job has been seeing to Kurt's every need decoration-wise, but Kurt was so annoyed with him eventually that he smiled kindly, paid him as agreed and then changed everything he had done to the last leaf in the center-piece on the reception's tables.

Now, he's rearranging flowers for the fifth time today because apparently the way they look good one moment is never appropriate the moment after, and as he moves rose petals and brings vases around the room, he sings.

Hey little sister, what have you done? Hey little sister who's the only one,” he chirps, swinging from one vase of petunias to the other, completely unaware of the eyes spying upon him from behind the curtains.

When his secret admirer comes out from behind his hidden place to sing with him, Kurt doesn't really need to turn around to know who that is.

Hey little sister, who's your superman? Hey little sister, who's the one you want?” Blaine sings, his voice stunning as it has always been. “Hey little sister, shot gun!

He dances as he comes forward, shining like a new dime in his perfect black Italian suit that fits him perfectly.

Kurt turns around and smiles, so used to play along that he doesn't stop singing. “It's a nice day to start again. It's a nice day for a white wedding. It's a nice day to start again.

He keeps moving vases between the tables, dancing around Blaine and still never touching him or tripping over him because he still remembers very well how Blaine moves and how to dance with him.

They are so good at this, they look like a living musical; the only thing missing here is the music springing out of nowhere and a line of backup dancers dressed up as waiters and waitresses doing their routine in the background.

Blaine sings the refrain with Kurt, following his moves and dancing around the flowers, stopping only at the end of the song playing simultaneously and only in both their heads. Then, he laughs.

“Well, it's good to see you haven't change,” he says, his smile always so sweet.

“It's good to see you didn't change either,” Kurt smiles back as he decides to leave those plants where they are, for now. He's got another twenty-four hours to change his mind several times. “When did you arrive?”

Blaine comes a little closer. “A couple hours ago. I wasn't really sure if you wanted to see me, so I took my time to make myself presentable.” He looks at him from head to toes. “You already are, I see.”

Kurt would like to say to Blaine to stop being so cute; instead he blushes as he was still sixteen. “Thank you,” he says. “You look good too. You're pretty elegant even when you're not wearing your old uniform. And by the way, I wouldn't have called you if I had not wanted to see you.”

Blaine keeps smiling and tilts his head to the side, just slightly, nodding toward the path between the trees they can see just outside the building. “Do you want to take a walk with me?” He asks. “I've seen a wonderful lake, coming over. You chose a lovely place for the wedding.”

Kurt gives one last look around, wondering if the flower decoration are really fine. “Yes, I'd love to.” He cleans his hands with an elegant pochette he chose to match his tie today and takes his bag. “I've always dreamed to marry by the lake,” he explains as he and Blaine goes out in the park where the reception will be given. “It's kinda magical. Like, any moment you expect to see fairies and pixies come out of water and trees when the sun goes down.” He giggles. “Pretty stupid, isn't it?”

Blaine looks at him like he is the most wonderful thing in the world, which is why Kurt was so crazy for him when they were in high school. Since everybody were either just friends with him or looked at him like a freak, it felt good when he was with Blaine, who always treated him like the porcelain he took one of his nicknames from.

“No, I don't think so. You seem really... happy,” Blaine says, leading him to the lake. “Do you think we could hold hands? If you've always dreamed of getting married by the lake, my dream has always been to walk hand in hand by the lake with a beautiful man, and now that I have the chance I'd like to take it.”

Kurt looks awkwardly at Blaine's outstretched hand, even though he's eager to accept it. “I don't know, Blaine. This could be misunderstood.”

Suddenly, they're both gentlemen from the past, speaking in old-fashioned manner and asking for each other hands to hold. It has always been this way with Blaine, who seems to come from another time and brings it with him wherever he goes.

“I would never force you to do something inappropriate,” he says, smiling. “But no one's around.”

Kurt hesitates for a moment but then holds his hand.

They walk hand in hand for a while, looking at the light of the setting sun shining on the lake's surface. The evening is quiet, there are not many people around. The chilling air doesn't invite people to stay longer after the sun goes down. Kurt likes this moment of the day, when everything is plunged into orange and pink.

“So, David Karofsky, huh?”

Kurt smiles fondly, hearing the name. “He is very special.”

“I would have never thought.” Blaine squeezes his hand a little. “But then, you're obviously happy. You look radiant, like a brand new person, from... well, from when I was still around.”

Kurt swallows, slightly. He never really wanted to talk about his relationship with Blaine in high school and the way it ended. He has always been one of those people who actually ignores the pink elephant if it makes them really, really sad and confused. “I was not happy with you, at the very end,” he admits, probably for the first time in years. Not that Blaine didn't know that, but still Kurt had never clearly said it. “And I felt bad because I wasn't. With David things are easy, they've always been. Everything has always happened so naturally with him.”

Blaine nods. “I know you weren't happy. We both weren't.” He sighs and looks at him. “You know, I loved you until the very last moment. Or at least I thought so. I really couldn't understand how could we be unhappy if we loved each other, since I was sure we did. But then, maybe love isn't enough, sometimes.”

Kurt walks looking at the ground. He's unconsciously following the stone path that leads to the lake, stepping only on stones, not touching the grass as he used to do when he was a little kid and he would never step on the lines between tiles. “Maybe it's only because sometimes it's not the same kind of love,” he says. “Love comes in different degrees.”

Blaine naturally helps him step from stone to stone, gently holding his hand. “You think you loved me less than you love Karofsky now?” He asks, his voice firm as he smiles.

“I... no... I don't know, Blaine,” he says, confused. “Things now are completely different, and what I felt back then, it's not what I feel now. Maybe it really was love for the old me, I was different too.”

The sun has set behind the horizon, leaving them in a greyish, dusty light. The outlines of things are fading into darkness, and everything around them seems unreal, almost fairy-like.

They stop on the lake shore, water almost lapping at their feet. Nearby there is the same boat Leo has seen bringing the bride to his groom the day he asked one of his father to marry the other one. It lies on its side, as if sleeping now that the night comes.

Kurt looks at the last of the light disappearing behind the lake and Blaine looks at him. He can't help but gently brush his cheek with two fingers. “I think I understand what you're talking about. It's the same for me. It just felt so right, back then, but if I try to imagine that kind of love happening to me right now, I know it wouldn't feel right enough.”

“Yes, exactly. And then... I can't really see myself without Dave anymore,” he says, leaning on his hand, almost naturally. Those are probably some pretty mixed signals which he's not really aware of sending, at least not until Blaine comes closer and bends on him to kiss him slightly on his forehead.

“I'm glad to hear that. Now I know I can give you away without regrets.”

Kurt blushes furiously. “Blaine?”

“I'm not doing anything wrong,” Blaine says, still caressing his cheek. “Just, it feels like we left something incomplete. You know, when we broke up, we didn't really... we just turned our back and left. No goodbyes, like we weren't worthy of a good end. I think we were wrong. We deserve our goodbye, as dramatic and romantic as it could be. So, can I...” He comes even closer. “Can I kiss the bride?”

Kurt slightly panics because his first mental answer was 'yes!' and then he thought of Dave and everything else, so he just shut his mouth. It shouldn't feel like Blaine is right, but it does.

Besides, Kurt has been missing an end to their story for all these years, and this could be it.

“Only to close what we were together. For good,” he clarifies, just to be sure they are on the exact same page, here. “So we can really move on.”

Blaine smiles and nods as he gently brushes his lips against Kurt's. He barely touches them with his tongue, asking for permission, which Kurt gives him, opening his mouth enough to let him in.

Blaine kisses him more deeply and a little hungrier than before, holding him tight to his body for a couple of minutes before slowly backing off.

Kurt stands there, flushing and a bit breathless with emotion, just like he would at sixteen after every kiss Blaine has ever gave to him, that's why Blaine finds him so damn cute even now. He smiles at him and presses his nose against Kurt's. “Now, that was a proper ending.”

Maybe Kurt is trembling a little as he looks at him. For a moment it feels like it's ten years ago and everything that happened has yet to come. It's a strong, warming feeling, one that makes time look gentle and fair and something to cherish while it usually isn't. Kurt smiles fondly; he doesn't want their story back, he just likes the way it came back to life so easily for them, the tenderness they both can look at it now, free as they are of all their anger and regrets. “Yes, it's an ending.”

“Now, don't look so scared,” Blaine laughs a little, feeling him trembling. “Or your fiancée will think I hurt you or something.”

Kurt would like to tell him he's not scared at all but a sudden noise stops him before he can say anything. He turns around to find Leo coming out of the bushes, with his eyes wide open and filled with tears.

“Leo... Oh my God,” Kurt brings his hand to this lips, wondering if his son has been there all the time, but obviously he was if his horrified expression is any proof. “Honey, listen to me.”

He moves towards him, trying to explain, but the kid shakes his head and bursts into tears. “I hate you!” he screams, and then he goes back inside the bushes, getting lost in the woods.

Blaine is confused. He keeps looking from Kurt to the now still bush and back. “Who is this?” he asks. Then, he realizes. Kurt obviously talked to him about Leonard, but he had never seen him before. “Is he your...?” he tries, but Kurt ignores him completely, leaving him to figure everything out by himself.

He kneels on the ground and tries to go after his son, but the bush is obviously too thick for him to pass through. “Leo! Oh God. Please, come back here. Come back, sweetheart. Everything's fine.”

Leo hides behind a bush, crying. He waits for his father to spring up to his feet again ad walk in a completely wrong direction before running to the deep of the woods as fast as he can.

Everything has happened so fast that, for the first time in ages, Blaine actually doesn't know what to do. Moreover, after hearing about the boy just vaguely, getting to meet him like this just adds weirdness to weirdness. “Kurt! Wait, you— I'm so sorry,” he blurts out.

Kurt doesn't seem to care about him or what he is saying. He keeps looking around frantically. “Where did he go? Leo!” When he finally turns to Blaine is only to say, “He saw us. He must be so upset!”

Blaine has always been good at handling situations. So, despite his general awkwardness, he takes everything in his hands and grabs Kurt by the shoulder, forcing him to look in his eyes.

“Listen, you have to stay calm. He can't be too far, but we need to go back and tell the others he ran away, because he could have gone in any direction. We need to be a lot to search for him, do you understand?”

Kurt nods, but he's not all there. His mind is racing fast, coming up with all the most dreadful scenarios for the end of his son's desperate run. “It's all my fault,” he mutters.

Blaine hugs him tight. “No, hey. It's not your fault,” he tries to soothe him. “He is upset only because he doesn't know. We will explain everything to him. He'll understand, you'll see.”

“He's only six, Blaine.” Kurt sobs a little. “The only thing he'll understand is that I was cheating on his father.”

Blaine knows exactly how their kiss must have looked like to the eyes of a six years old. Kids Leo's age tends to be pretty definitive in their judgment. He remembers very well how it had felt to be discovered naked by a little kid in the bed of his father, without having any good explanation for that. But he doesn't see any use in telling this story to Kurt right now. “You weren't cheating,” he says instead. “We'll explain and everything's going to be alright, I promise. But you have to stay here with me and keep your feet on the ground, alright? I can't solve this alone, you have to stay calm.”

Kurt nods again and tries to breathe. “Okay. You go and bring the others, tell them he's gone and we need their help to find him. I'm calling Dave.”

“Alright. Just— maybe it's better if we don't mention this kiss thing, at least until your kid is back, safe and sound.”

Kurt nods because he doesn't really want to tell about this kiss to anyone, let alone Dave.

As Blaine runs back to the place where the others are, he turns around and dials Dave's number, biting nervously at his nails and looking around as he hopes to see Leo coming out from the bushes somewhere nearby.

Dave’s phone rings twice before he picks up. Whatever they're doing down there, Kurt can hear it in the background. Puck and Santana are singing some very foul song and Dave is still laughing and speaking to them when he answers the phone. “Hey Fancy,” he says, still laughing happily. “If you called to tell me you're leaving me at the altar, I have to tell you you're early. The wedding's in two days and you should wait for that moment to run away. In the meantime, you're late for the rehearsal, so...”

If Kurt weren't so worried, he would think Dave is a little bit drunk too – they're probably rehearsing the toast too, apparently – but he has no time to deal with it, especially since he feels too guilty to blame Dave for a drink too many. “Dave, something happened. Leo ran away and I don't know where he went,” he says, his voice breaking.

Dave instantly sobers up and stops chuckling. “What? Kurt, what are you talking about? Is something wrong?”

“He ran away,” Kurt repeats, because he doesn't want to have to be more specific. He keeps speaking as he walks, looking around the park. “I'm searching for him but I can't find him anywhere. He was upset, Dave. I'm afraid he's gone somewhere dangerous. He doesn't really know what he's doing right now.”

Dave is already worried out of his mind like every time something happens or is supposed to happen to his only son, but he pretends to be calm because he can tell Kurt is already upset enough for the two of them.

“Okay, Kurt, just… where are you?”

“By the lake. I was rearranging flowers for the reception. Blaine's here too,” he says, nodding to every single word as if he needs a great deal of concentration to answer. He's hardly breathing properly, panic taking over. “He's getting the others to look for Leo.”

Dave tenses slightly at Blaine's name. “...alright. Just stay there. I'm coming. Don't move. I'll see you there and we'll search for Leo together, alright baby?”

“If something happens to him...” Kurt can't finish the sentence because he starts crying. “It's my fault, David. I'm the worst father ever.”

Dave starts heading to the lake while he's still on the phone. “Now, that's talking nonsense,” he says in a soothing tone. He's so used to take care of Kurt's fits, whatever the cause, that words come to him automatically in the right order and tone. Sometimes it doesn't even matter what he says, Kurt just needs to hear him speaking softly, like a child would do. “You know Leo loves you. You're a good father and whatever happened I'm sure we can make everything right again. Don't worry.”

“Just hurry. He can be anywhere,” Kurt says again.

Dave can already see the lake and the little white reception house they rented for the party. “Don't worry, we'll find him. He'll be alright. I'm almost there.”


He doesn’t even know how he should be supposed to call this kid, that’s all Blaine can think about as he searches through the bushes, his eyes wide open, ready to catch even the smallest glimpse of something moving behind the leaves and the branches covered in thorns.

“Leonard?” he calls, tentatively, “Leonard, where are you? If you’re hiding in here, please, come out. It’s dirty and dangerous!”

Leo really is there after all. He tries to stay still as much as he can, though he’s got mud in his shoes, making his trousers dirty and wet, and every single thorn is hurting him all over his face and arms and neck. He curls himself in a ball and looks at Blaine, hoping he doesn’t find him, but that would obviously be too much to ask to his luck, and so, after a couple of seconds of more thorough research, Blaine finally parts two branches and finds him. “Oh! Here you are,” he says, trying a little smile, “Would you come out of that bush? It’s getting all your clothes dirty and torn. Your father’s going to be upset about it.”

“Why are you here?!” Leonard finally spits out, looking right in Blaine’s eyes. He’s so angry he just wants to curl in a ball and cry. Somewhere inside him, he knows he’s too small to contain such anger. His body can’t take it. He just wants to let it out, but he doesn’t want to cry in front of this man, he doesn’t want to make him think he’s just a crybaby.

“It’s just a casualty,” Blaine speaks softly, his reassuring smile never leaves his lips. “Everybody’s been searching for you, I was just lucky enough to find you before the others. Come on, come here.”

“No!” Leo answers, backing off even more, not caring about all the thorns pushing against the light fabric of his shirt, hurting his back, “No, I don’t want to. I hate you!”

“But you don’t even know me,” Blaine argues, chuckling slightly. The sound of his voice alone makes Leo even more angry! Why is this man here? Why can’t he just disappear? He doesn’t want to see him ever again, let alone have him so close to himself, as he is now.

“I know you well enough, thanks,” he almost growls, “And stop smiling! You’re creepy, and ugly.”

“Whoa, whoa,” Blaine is laughing now, holding his hands out, “You sure don’t mince words, do you? Alright, what if I just sit here beside the bush, and you stay there where you are now? So that we can talk a little.”

“I have nothing to say to you,” Leo answers, shrugging and looking away, “You ruined my family.”

“Now, now,” Blaine says, sitting on the ground with his legs crossed, “Aren’t you overreacting? Just a bit?” Leo doesn’t answer; Blaine waits for a couple of minutes for him to just say something, but that doesn’t happen, and in the end he just has to surrender and sigh deeply, shaking his head. “Alright, if you don’t want to talk to me, maybe I can talk to you, I guess. You know, your father was a very, very important part of my life for almost two wonderful years. That’s why I’m here now, to begin with.” Leo turns his head and stares at him with so much hate in his eyes he could easily kill him, if a look was enough for that. Blaine tries to ignore the glare, and keeps talking. “Unfortunately, we didn’t break up well. We just kind of… stopped talking to each other, you know what I mean? We were so afraid to do or say things that could make everything even worse than it already was, that we kind of just… stopped. And when you stop talking honestly and openly with the person you love, then you’re doomed to grow apart from him. That’s why talking is important. Not only between lovers, but between everybody else, too,” he nods, throwing a meaningful glance towards the kid.

“I… I don’t care about you,” Leo says, looking down to the tip of his new shoes, now ruined and all covered in mud and dirt. Daddy’s going to be so mad about it, he thinks for a moment, but then he remembers he doesn’t even care about daddy anymore. He cheated on dad, he ruined everything with this man, and he will never forgive him for that. “I don’t care about you at all!” he repeats, now looking back ad Blaine with the same angry eyes, “You and daddy did a very bad thing! And I hate you, I hate you both!” he screams, holding his legs to his chest and cuddling himself a little, since no one seems around to do it in his place.

“Look…” Blaine tries, sighing deeply, “Your dad and I probably didn’t act very mature, before. We probably shouldn’t have kissed. But the fact is, we needed to. Which does not mean I’m going to take him away from you or your father. He’s yours, but there was a time in which he was mine, and that time had to come to an end, someway. Kissing was the way we chose to reach that end, do you understand what I’m trying to say?”

“You shouldn’t have touched him!” Leo insists, “You’re right, he’s not yours, so you shouldn’t have! Uncle Noah said you’re a prince, but you don’t look like one to me. Princes never steal princesses from their true love!” he pauses for a moment, looking at his shoes again. He loved those shoes. And now they’re ruined, like everything else. And it’s all Blaine’s fault. “Daddy always used to say this, before you came back. Princes are good, they protect true love, they don’t ruin it.”

Blaine can’t help but letting out a little sad smile. “You’re right, kid,” he says, “I’m not a prince. I’m just a guy who’s been very happy with your father, when he was young. Your daddy is the right prince for your dad, and I’m not going to steal Kurt from you in any way. I just came to say how happy I was, and to say goodbye. That was just a goodbye.”

“That was a kiss,” Leo says angrily, “Kisses are important, you don’t give a kiss away!”

“And you’re right again,” Blaine nods, moving closer to him, “In fact, that was not given away, I can assure you. But, you know, not every kisses have the same meaning. Some kisses mean ‘I love you’, some others could mean ‘you’re my beloved baby and I’m glad to have you’, and then there are kisses that mean other things, like ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘hello”. Your father’s and mine meant goodbye. It was just… really, just a way to close that part of our life for good.”

“I don’t believe you,” Leo says, looking away again, “Yours was not a goodbye kiss. I know goodbye kisses. Daddy gives them to dad when he goes to work every morning. That one was a… a wet kiss,” he explains, blushing a little, “And you were holding his hand by the lake.”

“Now, now, what do you even know about wet kisses?” Blaine laughs faintly, a little embarrassed by the whole situation, “Listen, I know it seemed kind of passionate and a little bit too much romantic, maybe, but I swear it had nothing to do with being in love with each other. I am sure Kurt only loves your dad and you. I am just an old friend.”

“For your information,” Leo starts, looking half outraged and half still angry, “I know a lot about wet kisses! I’m six! And my daddies always kiss that way when they forget I’m in the room with them. And then daddy always blushes a little. Old friends don’t kiss like that. You… I don’t like you. I don’t want you here, so just go away!”

Blaine sighs heavily, running a hand through his hair. He keeps them longer than he used to, it’s easier to have them that way, so he can keep them or cut them, depending on what producers ask him to do for every show he has a role in. He likes his hair long, he likes to keep them free as he's been doing in the last few years, but sometimes they’re just a burden. Like now, for example, when the weather is hot and the air is sticky and he’s feeling clumsy and stupid because he can’t even talk properly to a child to make him understand he didn’t want to ruin his life. “I guess you’ll never forgive me, will you?” he asks, throwing a sad glance towards Leonard, “I’m very sad about it. I always hoped I’d be friend with Kurt’s babies. Maybe like one of those uncles you don’t see often but cover you in gifts when they come to pay a visit.”

“You’re not my uncle, and you never will,” Leo says bitterly, curling himself up in a ball again. “Go away, I can’t stand you anymore.”

Blaine sighs again, crawling closer to him, almost entering the bushes as well, though he’s too big to fit properly in there like Leo does. He looks at the boy and he is so small and cute, he can’t help but feeling really bad for what he did. He knows there was nothing really wrong in kissing Kurt the way he did, especially because it meant something important that had to be clarified once and for all, and he knows that Leo himself would probably understand it better if he was just a little older, but he is not, and Blaine did something that he can’t accept now. And that’s just sad, because if there’s something Blaine didn’t want was to be hated by Kurt’s only son. “Look,” he says in a low, reassuring voice, “I understand you hate me and you think I did something bad. That’s alright, you have your reasons, but everybody’s really worried for you, because they don’t know where you are and they still don’t know I already found you. We should go back to them.”

“I won’t go anywhere with you!” Leo protests, looking even shocked by the mere thought.

“Well, you could just go ahead, then,” Blaine ponders, shrugging a little, “I’ll wait until you’re far enough, and then I’ll follow you. You won’t even see me, I’ll be like the invisible man, just following you to make sure you’re alright.”

“I don’t need you to watch over me, I now how to come back. I can take care of myself,” Leo answers, looking at him, suspiciously.

“Well, alright, but I have to come back too,” Blaine says, blinking a couple of time. The kid’s a tough nut. “Mmh, how can we solve this problem?” he thinks about it for a couple of minutes, and then just smiles. “Here, I have an idea. You’ll go ahead, I’ll wait a couple of minutes and then I’ll come too, but I swear I won’t check up on you. I’ll just be casually walking the same way you do.”

Leonard doesn’t really seem impressed with his idea, and he takes a lot of time to think about it, considering all the pros and the cons and ultimately deciding he’s starting to freeze, he’s wet to the bone because of the rapidly approaching evening dampness in the air and he just wants to go home, even if that means seeing daddy again, which is something he would rather not do at the moment. “Fine,” he says, crawling out of the bushes, “But if you try and get close, I’ll start screaming.”

Blaine raises both his hands. “I promise I’ll keep my distance.”

Leo looks at him for another couple of seconds, to be sure he’s not going to do something silly like waiting for him to turn his back to grab him and put him in a bag or something, and only once he’s satisfied and he believes he’s been staring long enough, he turns his back at Blaine and starts walking back to the place where rehearsals took place hours ago.

Keeping his promise, Blaine waits to see him disappear behind a little hill covered in green grass, and then starts walking behind him, retrieving his phone from his back pocket to call Kurt.


Kurt interrupts the call and lets out a relieved sigh, closing his eyes and passing his open hand over his tired eyelids. “It was Blaine, he told me Leo’s coming from that way,” he says to Dave with a little smile, pointing at the little path that can be seen through the hills surrounding the place.

“Yeah, there he is,” Dave nods, spotting Leonard approaching slowly. The kid moves like he’s unwilling to come back, which is definitely weird, and Dave finds himself running towards him without even realizing he’s doing it. “Hey, buddy!” he says, finally reaching the boy and kneeling in front of him, opening his arms to offer a hug. “Where were you?”

“Leo!” Kurt calls him, coming closer too, “Thank God you’re ok.”

Leonard ignores Kurt completely, though, and turns his head the other way, throwing himself between Dave’s arms, hugging him and clinging desperately to his shoulders. Worried beyond limits, Dave holds him tight. He has never seen his son like that, not even when he was very little and he first moved out of their room to his own, and he used to have awful nightmares that reduced him a messy, crying and whimpering bag of bones with curly hair. Back then, he used to wake up way before Kurt did, and he used to sneak into Leo’s room to hug him and stay with him on his bed until he fell asleep again. Now there’s no bed to lay on, and there’s no reason Dave sees for which his beloved son should cry like that, so he feels kind of helpless, and keeps holding him close to his own chest, trying to reassure him. “Buddy, what happened?” he asks in a low, soft voice, “You’re shaking.”

Leo sobs hard, hiding his face against Dave’s shirt. “I’m sorry, dad,” he cries, hiccupping after every word, “Really, I am,” he says, and all Kurt can do is look at him feeling his heart hurting like it got trapped in a clutch.

“Hey, there’s nothing to be sorry about, buddy,” Dave says, smiling a little and patting his son’s shoulder, trying to calm him, “Just… just tell me what happened.”

Kurt closes his eyes briefly, taking a deep breath before trying to get closer to the kid. “Honey, I know you are upset and you think… stuff, but…”

“I don’t wanna talk with you! You’re bad, just like him!” Leo screams, hiding more in his father’s arms, almost disappearing in the hug. Kurt instantly steps back. He has never been so hurt in his entire life.

“Hey, now, calm down,” Dave says, standing up and holding his son between his arms, lifting him up too and helping him to rest against his shoulder, “Baby, why don’t you just tell daddies what happened? We can help you, whatever it is. Did someone hurt you?” Leo shakes his head, eyes filled with sadness. “Then what?” Dave insists, brushing the boy’s hair with his hand, “Just tell me, it’s okay.”

“No, it’s not okay!” Leo looks away, as tears starts to fall down his flushed cheeks again, “Everything’s ruined, and it’s my fault, because I wanted the wedding so much and now I will have a family no more!”

Dave opens his eyes wide. “Leo, come on,” he says, pulling the kid away from his chest just enough to look in his eyes, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about and you’re acting like your father does when he needs to let me know he’s sad but he doesn’t want to tell me why.”

Leo manages to look at his father for only a second, just because being compared to Kurt now bothers him way more than he can take. Then, he lowers his eyes and slowly starts to talk. “They kissed,” he says in a very low voice.

“Leo…” Kurt breaths out, holding out a hand towards him, as if to try and prevent him from talking.

“What?” Dave asks, raising an eyebrow, “Who kissed?”

“Daddy and that man!” Leo answers, still looking down, “They kissed,” he repeats, and Dave opens his eyes wider, looking puzzled as if he couldn’t even get what his son is talking about.

“Leo, please,” Kurt tries again, moving a step towards them, “It’s not like—”

“I saw you!” Leo screams, holding on to his father, and that’s when Dave finally understands, because he sees Blaine approaching from the same path Leo came back from minutes earlier, and it’s like seeing it happening in front of his own eyes, though he didn’t see it, and he’s actually glad he didn’t. Kurt and Blaine kissed. And when Blaine arrives and he can’t even look at him in his eyes, he gets all the evidence he needs, but he still turns to Kurt, looking lost and helpless.

“…is it true?” he asks, murmuring breathlessly.

“Dave, it’s… it’s not what you think it is,” Kurt tries to explain, but he struggles to find words convincing enough to help Dave and Leo understand what is so clear to himself and Blaine.

“What… what are you talking about?” Dave asks, clinging to Leo, “Did you kiss him or not?”

“Hey, Dave, I know you probably won’t hear a word from me, but it really is not what you think it is, and I can explain, if you just let me,” Blaine tries, moving a step forward, but the way Dave instantly glares at him stops him in midstep.

“You’re damn right I don’t wanna hear a single word from you, Anderson,” he snaps, turning back to Kurt, “You’re the one who owes me an explanation, Kurt.”

“Please,” Kurt bites at his own lower lip, trying not to cry, “Please, can we not talk about this here?”

Dave frowns, but then the light weight of Leo’s body between his arms reminds him their son’s here, and he definitely doesn’t want him to witness this conversation, especially since he seems to feel guilty about this whole situation. “Yeah, sure,” he says, clearing his throat and then turning back to Leo, forcing a little smile. “Hey, buddy, don’t worry about it, everything’s fine, I promise,” he lies, “Daddy will explain everything to me.”

Leo doesn’t believe a single word and finds irritating that his dad’s trying to reassure him about that saying such silly things. His dad doesn’t understand, none of them do, and that Blaine can’t either. He’s too exhausted to keep crying, though, so he just leans against his father’s shoulder and closes his eyes, sobbing lightly, letting his father try and comfort him with some cuddles. “Just don’t worry, buddy,” David says, “It’s alright. Why don’t you take a nap? You must be tired. I’ll carry you, don’t worry.”

Leo just shrugs, keeping his eyes closed as he feels his body getting heavier and heavier, sleep already making his breath slower and calmer.

Dave looks at Kurt, expecting something from him, but he doesn’t even know what, and after a couple of seconds of silence Kurt sighs, looking down first. “We should probably go home,” he suggests, on the verge of tears.

Dave averts his eyes too. “Yeah,” he answers, “Just… tell the others. I’m gonna wait for you in the car.”

Kurt nods and then heads back to where the others gathered moments before, and Dave ignores whatever Blaine is doing when he moves a step towards him to try again and explain everything. He just turns his back to the man and walks to the car, holding Leo close to himself.

“Dad?” the kid calls out seconds later, his little hands closing in fists around the fabric of his shirt, “Dad, will you bring me to bed? I don’t want him doing it.”

Dave sighs, kissing his son on his forehead. He would like to tell Leo that, whatever Kurt did, he’s still his father, and he shouldn’t be so angry at him, but he doesn’t because he’s not sure on how Leo would react to something similar, being as upset as he is. It still hurts, tough, that after all the first thing he thinks about is trying to defend Kurt no matter what. “Don’t worry about that, buddy,” he answers anyway, “I’ll take care of you.”

Leo leans on him again, quietly, and Dave walks faster to reach the car and gently lay him down on the backseat, covering him with his own jacket, so he doesn’t feel cold as he sleeps. Then, he climbs on his seat and rests his forehead against the steering wheel, breathing slowly in and out to keep himself calm as he waits for Kurt to come back, which he does less than five minutes later.

“I told the others to go home,” he says in a low voice, sitting beside Dave, “We can do the rehearsal again tomorrow,” he adds, looking at him tentatively.

Dave tenses a bit, because his first answer would be something he would regret saying, like for example that he’s not even sure rehearsals will be needed, if there won’t be a wedding to rehearse for, but he manages to keep his mouth shut long enough to think about it and realize that saying something similar wouldn’t be of any good for either of them. “…yeah. Okay. Thank you.”

They don’t say a word for the entire drive home. Kurt looks at Dave, every now and then, but mainly, he just looks back at Leo, reaching out with his arm to caress his head while he’s asleep. The first words Dave says come when he stops the car in front of their house, half an hour later, and he slips out of it trying to be as less noisy as he can. “Open the door,” he says to Kurt, “I’ll take Leo.”

Kurt nods sadly, understanding that Dave won’t let him handle their child at all, at least not for tonight. He opens the door and keeps it like that while Dave carries Leo inside the house, heading straight to the kid’s room to take him to bed, without even looking at Kurt, who closes the door and follows him right after.

Dave takes off Leo’s shoes and puts him in the bed, covering him with a blanket and brushing away his hair from his forehead, sighing a little, before he leaves the room. From the doorstep, Kurt keeps staring at him, hoping he’ll at least say something, but he doesn’t, so he keeps following him even when he comes out of the kid’s room and heads downstairs, ignoring him completely. “Dave…?” he calls him, having to clear his throat because that’s the first thing he says in what seems like ages, and it comes out really rough.

“Yeah?” Dave answers. He tries to stay calm, but actually he can’t stop moving all around the sitting room, moving things and then replacing them just to give himself something to do.

“Can we talk?” Kurt asks, looking down at his feet, and when he says that, Dave instantly snaps at him.

“No, we— I don’t really wanna talk right now,” he says, turning to him and staring for a couple of seconds, before he just slips past him to reach the built-in-wardrobe in the corridor.

“Would you let me explain, at least?” Kurt insists, following him around, “I don’t want us to go to bed like this.”

“We’re not going to go to bed like this,” he answers, opening the wardrobe and fetching a pillow and a blanket, before heading back to the sitting room.

“What… what are you doing?” Kurt asks in an uncertain breath.

“I’m sleeping on the couch, tonight,” Dave answers, arranging it to be as much comfortable as it can be.

Kurt swallows hard, fists closing suddenly around the fabric of his trouser, just to hold onto something. “Dave, please, don’t.”

“No, Kurt, you don’t,” Dave snaps, looking back at him with anger burning in his eyes, “You… I don’t even know. What the hell were you thinking about?!”

“It’s not what you think, Leo doesn’t know what he saw,” Kurt tries to explain, but Dave snorts and looks away, shaking his head.

“Okay, listen, I really don’t wanna talk about this right now,” he says, trying to sound calmer than he is, “Just… leave me alone.”

“Please,” Kurt tries again, “come to bed. What… what if Leo finds you here, tomorrow morning?”

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure this is gonna traumatize him a lot after he saw you fucking kissing another man,” he answers in a low growl that makes Kurt lower his eyes and steps back.

“Please, don’t do that,” he says, speaking softly, “You don’t even know what happened yet. Just… just don’t do that.”

“Fucking no, Kurt, I said it before, I’ll say it again, you don’t do that!” he almost screams, “Don’t just step back like— like I’m the one who hurt you! You know after all we’ve been through since the beginning I’d kill myself before having to hurt you again! Fuck… just go away, I can’t stand you anymore,” he sighs, sitting on the couch with his head between his hands.

Kurt holds his breath as he speaks, his eyes still locked with the floor, his fists closed so tightly he’s almost hurting himself. He hesitates, but when he understands Dave’s not going to let him in until he’s calmed down, he just nods. “Goodnight,” he says, trying to keep his voice steady, though it’s hard, since he’s crying.

Dave doesn’t even answer.


It's early morning and the house is quiet and still dark, except for the dim light of dawn coming through the sitting room's window. Dave sits on the couch with his arms crossed to his chest and he stares at the wall in front of him. There is a painting on it that he and Kurt have bought a couple of months ago when Kurt was redecorating the room for the third time this year. It's one of those contemporary drawings with lines and dots of which Dave understands nothing about but Kurt said it was perfect for the new urban flavor he wanted to give to their sitting room, so they took it.

For Dave, this is just a sitting room and it has been so after every redecoration, but Kurt is so happy every time he can change something about it, that Dave doesn't mind to let him do whatever he wants. Now he's wondering if Kurt has been feeling the need to change their relationship too, yesterday. If him kissing Blaine could be the first sign that he's bored with what they have.

It's been a very long and rough day and he doesn't really know what to do about the way it ended. The feeling of betrayal is too strong to let it go, but he loves Kurt too much to follow his instincts when he thinks about what he has done. So when he notices him standing in the doorway, he can't help the sting of pain he feels in his heart but he can't help to talk to him either.

“Are you already up?” He asks.

Kurt stands there in his pajama and bare feet, not daring to enter the room. “I... I've never really fallen asleep, actually.”

“I guess that makes two of us,” Dave sighs. Then he looks up at him. “Come here.”

Kurt comes closer and sits on the couch, curling himself into a ball. Seeing him so vulnerable and sad makes Dave want to kiss him and hug him and tell him everything is gonna be okay already, because that is how much he loves Kurt, but he knows he can't do any of those things because what happened is really serious and it endangers what they are.

Somebody has to start this conversation and make things clear, but it won't be Kurt, that much Dave knows, because Kurt doesn't talk unless he's forced to. Even when he is damn wrong.

“Come on, Kurt. What the hell happened?”

Kurt tries to speak three times before he actually manages to. His voice is hoarse and low, as if he had been crying for hours. “Blaine came to me and we talked. We had... things to say to each other.”

Dave snorts almost immediately. “So that's what you two were doing when our son saw you kissing? That was 'saying something'?”

Kurt looks down. “No. That was...” he moistens his lips. “That kiss means nothing, Dave. It was just a way to close things up once and for all.”

Dave has wanted to face this situation with all the calm he could gather, for the sake of their kid if not of the two of them, but Kurt not apologizing right away and saying those words to booth, makes him instantly angry. “Well, kissing someone doesn't sound to me like a way to close things up. Open them again, perhaps, but closing them? Not at all.”

Kurt sighs because he is aware that this is going to be the hardest part for Dave to understand. Or for anybody, for that matter. He and Blaine have always had their own way to deal with things. “We did close things, Dave,” he says. “That was the way it should have ended between us. We broke up so angrily. We just wanted to fix things up.”

Dave can't really believe what Kurt is saying. At this point, Dave is not even interested in how it happened, he just wants some apologies from Kurt, because he behaved badly and, of all things, he should be apologizing. “You don't fucking fix things up kissing your ex boyfriend two days before your fucking wedding!” He screams. The more Kurt talks, the more it seems like Blaine will always be that one unforgettable love Dave will never be enough to match up.

“I wasn't kissing him,” Kurt says, instead. “It was just one kiss and it means nothing of what you think it does.”

Dave looks at him angrily. “That right? And what am I thinking?”

“That I still love him, but I don't.”

“But that's how it is!” Dave jumps up and starts walking around the couch because he is too nervous to stand still. “You'll love him forever, ‘cause it's your first love we're talking about. He's the one who broke your heart first and how is that forgettable? Man, I hate you. I hate that you're so dramatic that you would still love him even if he broke your heart again!”

Kurt is a little taken aback by his hate statement. “Are you listening to me? I said I don't love him, Dave. I'd never have kissed him today if I did.”

“So why did you kiss him?” Dave asks. “So our son could watch you and be heartbroken? I don't think you even realize how Leo's feeling!”

Kurt is feeling frustrated. He knows very well that everything he says will never be enough for Dave, because the only thing he gets and understands is that he kissed Blaine, whatever the reason. He closes his eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath. “Because...” he starts and then sighs again. “Because something was weird in the way we broke up and it was that kiss missing. We just wanted to make things right with the past. That kiss is nothing more than a way to have a good memory of our relationship instead of that horrible one we had. I'm sorry Leo saw it. I didn't mean it for him to see.”

“Yeah, sure,” Dave snorts. “But he did anyway, and now he's going to regret the fact that this whole wedding thing was his idea, forever! So good job, Kurt, you now have a good memory for yourself, and an horrible one for your son!”

Kurt looks down, feeling guilty for his kid. “I didn't want any of this to happen. I'm sorry it went the wrong way.”

Dave shakes his head, arms crossed. “Well, sorry might be not enough, this time.

Kurt looks up immediately, pure panic in his eyes. “What?” He asks, searching for him around the dark room. “What do you mean?”

Dave has spoken out of jealousy and irritation and it takes him a couple of seconds to realize what he has just said. “I don't know. I feel very bitter and angry, right now,” he says, looking away.

Kurt sighs. “Dave... I didn't want to hurt anyone. Blaine means nothing to me anymore,” he insists. “I love you. I thought you would know that by now.”

“And I did!” He says, raising his voice but not too much. Over the past six years he has learned the very precious art of screaming without making noise, so not to wake up his son. After the first two months of sleepless nights, both of them has had to wise up if they wanted to survive. “But then you just had to kiss him! Fuck!” He starts walking around the couch again, just to move away from him. “It's like being in high school all over again. It sucks so much.”

Kurt is shaking his head way before Dave has even finished. Blaine has been an issue with him for so long now. Dave has never gone past Kurt and Blaine's relationship in high school and Kurt has never known how to assure him it's been over for over ten years. Kissing Blaine has obviously not helped his cause.

“It's not! I mean...” he says as he stands up and goes after him. “We are together, me and you, in a way me and Blaine never were.”

“Sure, because you two didn't have the time and chance!” Dave protests. “That kiss— you may think it's just a goodbye, but to me it says welcome back. And I just... I just hate the thought.”

Dave stops and looks down, closing his fists, his hands shaking a little. He is just giving up, again.

There were times, when they were in high school, when he would get so mad seeing Blaine and Kurt together that he needed to destroy things. He would go to the gym, then, and hit the punching ball so hard that coach Beiste would come to him and ask what was wrong. It was she who suggested Dave's father to send him to speak with a rage management therapist. That was the worse time of his life; he would go to therapy for every single problem he had. He felt so bad, back then. Then, Blaine and Kurt broke up and he and Kurt got together, and everything fell into place for him.

What's happening now feels like everything is breaking into thousand little pieces again.

Kurt tries and touches his arm. “The fact that I wanted to fix things up with Blaine doesn't mean I want him back in my life too,” he says in a sweet, low voice. “In fact, I didn't want any open issues with him.”

Dave looks up at him and raises a hand to his lips, touching them lightly. “I can't even stand the mental image of you two kissing. It brings everything up again, all the pain and the hate I felt when you two were together and I wouldn't even come close to you because I just couldn't, while he could.”

“That's in the past, babe,” Kurt says, his lips moving against Dave's fingers. “Now only you can be close and he can't. Never forget, it's you I chose.”

Dave is really trying to forget, but it's hard. It has always been. He comes a little closer, fingers sliding down Kurt's cheeks, as if tracing his features to snatch him out of the darkness still surrounding them despite the coming dawn. “He wasn't around anymore when you chose me,” he says, after a while. “I'll never know if you would have still chosen me if he stayed long enough.”

“You'll have to trust me on this one,” Kurt says, closing his eyes under Dave's caress. “I didn't settle for the second best.”

Just looking at Kurt with his eyes closed makes Dave's heart throb. “You are so beautiful,” he murmurs. He just can't believe Kurt is here with him and not with Blaine, in some fancy attic in New York where Dave knows Kurt wanted to be when he was sixteen.

Kurt gives him a little smile. “Am I?” He asks, looking at him.

Dave thinks he is just so adorable and can't help but looking at him with pure adoration in his eyes. “Yes, you are. So unbelievably beautiful.”

“And you are a very good liar.”

Dave chuckles. “Oh please, shut your mouth, will you?” He says as he drags him closer and hugs him. “He's not dancing with you after the wedding. He's not.”

“We'll make sure of that. You'll be the only one dancing with me, if you want.”

Dave shakes his head and hums softly. “No, you can dance with your father and with your brother and with whoever you want, but you're not dancing with him. Last time I saw you two dancing... well, that sucked a lot. I'm not gonna watch it happen again.”

“I won't dance with him if this upsets you. I'll tell him I can't.”

Dave is astonished. “Did he dare asking you if he could?” He says, really upset. “I can't believe he would come here in my city, in my house, and would ask my future husband to fucking dance with him!”

Kurt can't deny he loves when Dave shows such possessiveness. “Now, come here,” he pulls him closer. “He didn't want to challenge you, honey. It's just what he does. He sings and dances.”

“And he can, as long as he's doing it wherever he lives now, far, far away from here.” He holds Kurt tight, gently stroking his back. “God, how much I missed you tonight.”

Kurt puts his arms around Dave's neck and lets him gently rocks both of them back and forth. ”I missed you too. I thought to join you on the couch tonight but you were so angry, I was scared you would send me away.”

“I would have not,” Dave sighs, brushing his neck with the tip of his nose. He is painfully aware he could never send Kurt away, even if he is rightfully mad at him. He loves him too much to risk losing him for any reason. “But maybe I would have been kind of uncontrollable.”

Kurt tries to look at him but he obviously can't because Dave is kissing his neck and he seems to have no intention to stop. “What do you mean?”

“I was angry and fucking jealous and I just kept thinking about what I would do to you if I had you in my hands,” he explains, speaking in a low voice, on his skin.

Kurt shivers and smiles, rubbing his face against his soon-to-be husband's broad chest. “That's just freaking hot, Mr. Karofsky.”

Dave's voice is low and warm. “Is that so?” He asks, as he kisses Kurt's neck, gently. “And you don't even know what I would have done.”

Kurt is enjoying this so much, especially now that things are falling back into place and he’s realizing he really was just one step away from losing everything. “Why don't you tell me?”

Dave bites at his neck and then looks at him. “I would have held you down on the couch and kissed you so hard you could not breathe.”

“God, I love the way you say 'held down'.” Kurt breaths in hard. “I'd have been frightened, though. You can be so rude sometimes.”

“That's because I know you like it when I grab you and do whatever I want with your body.” Dave grabs his ass and squeezes it. He can feel the curves of Kurt's body as if he was naked, thanks to Kurt's pajama, which is one of those silk, elegant outfits so thin you can almost see it through. Not manly, but so damn sexy on someone as slim as Kurt.

“Dave!” He screams, pretending to be outraged. “That's totally not true.”

“You know it is,” he kisses him forcefully. “You always let me do whatever I want, if I'm hard enough on you.”

He comes even closer so Kurt can feel what he means exactly. Kurt is okay with this attitude now, because he knows very well Dave is just joking to spice things up. He has stopped to be afraid of him the moment he said he was sorry. “Maybe, if you're really – and I mean really – good, I'll let you play as you want,” he moans in his mouth.

“You'll let me, Fancy?” He lifts him up effortlessly and brings him to the couch, grinning. “You think I'd ask for permission? Spread your legs for me.”

Kurt shivers in that good and very pleasant way that makes his toe curls. “What if I don't?”

“Then I'll have to force you.” Dave bends over him and puts a hand between his knees.

Kurt looks straight in his eyes as he puts his arms on the couch's back, daring him to proceed with his threat.

Dave groans at the mere sight of him acting like that. He loves when Kurt manages to get rid of all his inhibitions and let himself go completely. “You're not going to collaborate, aren't you? Fucking tease,” he hisses between his teeth, as he unbuttons Kurt's shirt and caresses his chest.

“You will need to work hard if you want to get what you want,” Kurt says, arching a bit at the touch of his fingers. “And what is it that you want, Dave?”

Dave lets the shirt slide down his arms but, instead of taking it off, he uses it to tie Kurt's wrists together as he looks at him with a dirty smile on his lips. “You know what I want from you, Fancy.”

Kurt moans a little as he pretends to be astonished, but he doesn't stop him. “Oh, that's so bad. Karofsky, where did you learn these things? You were a family man just a couple of hours ago.”

Dave smiles wider as he lets the bottom of Kurt's pajama fall down his legs. “I still am, but now I want to drive you crazy ‘til you beg for more.”

He caresses the inside of his thigh with one hand, while stroking his lips with the thumb of the other one.

Kurt shivers, looking at this hand with interested eyes. He moves a bit too, because he can never lay completely still when Dave's hands are down there.

Dave grins, satisfied with his reaction. “You should look at yourself right now, you're so needy. Look at how you move...” he licks his lips and moves his hand closer to his groin, “Do you want it, babe?”

Kurt tries to kiss him, at least. He can't stand to be touched like that and not be able to move his hands to touch him back. “Try harder,” he brags then, struggling a lot not to beg. “You're not even close.”

Dave doesn't give up to his requests. It is so much funnier when Kurt is so helpless and desperate. Most of all if he is clearly lying and his whole body gives it away. “Oh, you know I'm more than close, Fancy,” he smirks. “I can see it in your eyes. You'd scream if I just touched you. Want me to try? Want me to touch you and make you scream?

He comes closer and rubs himself against Kurt, who keeps pulling at his makeshift ropes, desperately wanting to kiss him. “Oh God,” he exhales, arching against him to get some relief.

“There you are, I love you so much when you do this.” Dave drags him closer and kisses him hard while finally stroking him between his legs with his hand. “D'you like it, babe?”

Kurt gives him a long, moaning, wet kiss. “Yes, keep doin' it.”

“I wouldn't stop if the house should fall on us.” Dave kisses him back and quickly gets rid of his own trousers, caressing him faster. “Do you want me, Fancy?”

Kurt doesn't even let him finish the sentence, drowning the scream he would like to let out in another hungry and passionate kiss. “Yes! I want you as hard as you can get.”

“Fuck.” Dave tries to hold himself back and licks his neck, still stroking him. “And where do you want me, baby? Tell me.”

Kurt bends his head back on the couch, gasping for air. “In me. I want you in me,” he exhales, as he tugs at the shirt around his wrists. “Dave, let me go.”

Dave unties his wrists immediately, bound to Kurt's request and to his own need to have Kurt's hands on himself. “Here I come baby, you ready?” He breaths heavily while slowly entering him, holding Kurt's hips firmly.

Kurt grabs his shoulders and buries his face in Dave's neck. “Yes, I'm ready. I'm... don't... just stop fucking around. I want to feel you, now!”

Dave almost laughs, half breathlessly, because Kurt is always cuddly and cute and then, suddenly, he becomes so damn impatient when he can't really take it anymore. God, how much he loves to see him like this for him. “Okay baby,” he pushes himself hard inside of him and starts moving. “Do you feel me now? Because I feel you, babe and you're so fucking tight.”

“Yes,” Kurt moans slightly, whispering in his ear. “C'mon big boy, weren't you going to make me scream?”

Dave pushes harder inside him and strokes him faster, kissing him deeper than before. “Scream for me, baby, let me hear you.”

Kurt actually screams this time, forgetting that there is a kid in the other room. Luckily, rage and a very bad day have made Leo a heavy sleeper, today. Kurt searches for Dave's lips again and kisses them hungrily, almost growling.

“Fuck, yes.” Dave pushes inside him so hard he buries himself inside his body for his entire length. He can't talk properly anymore and he keeps breathing hard on Kurt's mouth, kissing it and sucking on his lower lip. “Oh God, Kurt, fuck.”

“Dave, keep it like this. You're there.” Kurt arches his back to push himself better against him.

He moves faster and thrusts deeper, holding Kurt's hips as still as possible so he can better angle himself with each thrust and hit his special spot every time. “Are you close, baby? I wanna feel you come. Would you come for me?” He speaks nonsense as he strokes him, waiting for him to give in to pleasure as he seems so close to do.

Kurt nods because he can't talk anymore. Those magic words always work with him and they don't fail this time either. He comes hard, moaning, covering his eyes with his right arm.

“Fuck— let me see your face, babe,” Dave murmurs as he moves Kurt's arm away and leans on him to kiss him gently, coming hard inside him. “Let me see how beautiful you are.”

They take their time to catch their breath, pleasantly drained and tired. Kurt looks at him through heavy eyes and smiles lovingly, seeing how overwhelmed Dave is.

Dave breathes heavily, resting his forehead against Kurt's with his eyes closed as he brushes the tip of his nose with his own, cuddling him. “God, that was amazing.”

Kurt smiles, still so caught up in it that he doesn't even bother to blush. “Yes, I'd dare say it was one of the best we had so far,” he says, kissing him lazily. “I like you when you're all jealous and possessive.”

“Do you?” Dave says, laughing on his lips as he kisses him back. “Then how come I always end up sleeping on the couch when we fight because of my jealousy?”

Kurt laughs, looking at him with so much love in his eyes. “Because,” he says, caressing his face with just a light touch of his fingertips, “you don't usually touch me like that when we fight. You need to be away from me for a while just to be back like this.”

Dave opens his mouth, pretending to be outraged. “So you send me away on purpose?”

Kurt shrugs. “Maybe just a little bit.”

“Oh, you little...” Dave chuckles, shaking his head. “But I'm going to come back to our bed tonight, my back is killing me. I'm too old for this shit,” he says, kissing him lightly on his lips and starting to tidy up Kurt's pajama. “You're a mess. God, how come you're still so cute?”

Kurt lets Dave dress him as if he was a doll. “It's because I'm fabulous. I'm never really a mess, even after hot wild sex on the couch with my sexy soon-to-be husband who actually made me unable to walk,” he explains as he moves his legs and groans in pain.

“Do you know what having a sexy soon-to-be-husband who makes you unable to walk means?” Dave asks as he lifts him up and holds him in his arms. “It means you don't have to walk.”

Then, Kurt tells Dave he loves him right away in a very dramatic, oh-so-theatrical way, and they both laugh as Dave carries him to their room, where they will pretend to have slept all night when their son will come checking on them once he finally wakes up.


When he fell asleep in his father’s arms, two days ago, Leonard would have never thought that everything, somehow, would just fall into place, in the end. He was sure the wedding was over and, for what he knew, his parents’ relationship was about to go the same way, and he was ready to blame himself forever for that if it happened, but when he woke up he didn’t find his dad on the couch, where he was sure he would find him – since he always sleeps there when he and daddy have a fight –, so he checked the bedroom and he stood on the doorstep for two minutes straight before figuring out what happened. It was clear his dads had made peace during the night, because they were sleeping together, tied in a sweet hug.

Now that the wedding’s over, Leonard stays on the edge of the huge white painted wood dance floor he and daddy decided to have for the party after the wedding reception, and he can’t help but smile just like he did when he found them. Everything seems so right he clearly feels like he couldn’t be more happy than he is now, like his body couldn’t hold more happiness than what he’s feeling right now.

The wedding has been awesome. There were white flowers everywhere and everybody was looking happy. Dad and daddy kept smiling the whole time, and daddy managed to keep smiling even when he started to cry, after dad’s wedding vows, which were the sweetest ever, since Leo helped him sort them out. Auntie Tana was gorgeous, even in her manly outfit, and her speech during the reception was really funny. Leo listened to it very closely, happy to hear the story of his parents’ love from a point of view he had never considered before, and thinking with some pride that now he has the right to talk about this story too, since he’s helping making it. Not only being the main reason why they decided to get married in the end, but with everything else. With every step he takes, he’s making history. He’s making his parents’ life worth living just as much as they’re doing with him. That’s being a family, and Leo probably didn’t need a ceremony to know, but in the end maybe he did. He didn’t need the vows themselves, but what made them possible, all the troubles he went through, all he had to accomplish to have his parents smiling at each other and swearing they’ll be together forever no matter what comes their way, this he needed, and he firmly believes his parents needed it too. So he can’t help smiling smugly, now, because he knows he was right, right from the start, and now he can afford feeling so self-satisfied, like all this happened only thanks to him, though he knows it’s not exactly true.

“Would you allow me this dance?” Blaine asks, jumping into his view literally from out of nowhere. Leo makes a face, stepping back. He has been good ignoring him up to now, but he just had to come and ruin everything.

“No way,” he answers, looking away, “And why do you have to talk like this?”

“Like what?”

“Like you came out of some fairy tale book or something,” Leo snorts.

Blaine laughs a little, kneeling in front of him and sitting on his heels. “Does the way I speak seem strange to you?”

“Definitely,” Leonard nods, “You’re cheesy. Like some fairy tale princes, the lame ones.”

“This is true,” Blaine chuckles again, “Maybe I am a prince, after all, then.” Leo looks at him, and Blaine’s smiling gently as he stays like that in front of him, his elbows resting on his knees, the elegant suit he wears making an interesting contrast with his wild curly black hair which he left untied, free to brush against his neck.

“Of the lame kind,” Leo insists, crossing his arms on his chest.

“Of course,” Blaine chuckles, “But, just follow me: if your parents just married each others, that means they’re no more prince and princess, or princes, or whatever, they just became king and queen, or kings, am I right?”

Leo looks at him confusedly, tilting his head. “I suppose,” he concedes, shrugging.

“Well, then, if they’re kings, that makes you a prince,” Blaine continues, nodding at himself in agreement.

Leo arches an eyebrow. “What’s your point, mister Anderson?” he asks, and he feels pretty amused when he sees Blaine actually shivering after his words.

“Don’t call me mister,” he says, “Just… please.”

“Okay,” Leo nods, “Anderson.”

Blaine lets out a little laugh, shaking his head. Leo finds himself hypnotized by the way his hair move, but he manages to look away in time for Blaine not to catch him staring. “You really are a smart ass, aren’t you?” the man asks, and Leo sighs.

“You still didn’t tell me what’s your point,” he repeats.

“My point is,” Blaine smiles, “That if you’re a prince and I’m a prince too, lame as I am then I must be a prince visiting your reign from another land. Therefore, since your parents are busy dancing with each others, and since apparently I couldn’t dance with Kurt even if he was alone, or at least that’s what I was told, then you should be the one dancing with me, since we’re both princes and I’m a special guest.”

Leo opens his eyes wide, taken aback from the way he’s putting it. “Do you really think any of this made sense?” he asks, and Blaine laughs again. Leo’s coming to hate the sound of this laugh, it makes him uncomfortable and hot on his cheeks.

“I thought it was a fascinating way to put it in,” he answers, “Besides, I really want to dance with you.”

“Don’t you have women or men your age to ask to?” Leo snorts, annoyed.

Blaine shrugs. “I prefer little kids.”

“You know, this could be reported as harassment,” Leo answers, smiling wickedly. Blaine opens his eyes wide, looking extremely amused, and Leo hates him: why does he seem so totally unable to take him seriously? He’s being so very really serious, now, and all this man can do is making fun of him.

“You shouldn’t even know that word,” he says in a light chuckle. Leo snorts again.

“Whatever,” he concedes, “I’m still not gonna dance with you.”

“Not even if I ask really nicely?” Blaine tries.

“I don’t think you would even know where to start to be nice!” Leo answers, “But even if you could, I don’t dance,” he says blushing and looking away.

“Oh, come on,” Blaine insists, rolling his eyes, “It’s a party, you should dance.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to!” Leo yells at him, stomping his feet on the ground, “I mean, I don’t want to ‘cause I still hate you, since you’re mean and horrible, but even if I wanted, I can’t!” he spits out, “I can’t dance.”

“Oh my God,” Blaine chuckles again, standing straight on his feet again, and smoothes the wrinkles on his trousers, “Well, then I definitely have to teach you. It’s terribly inappropriate for a young prince of your birth to be unable to dance. I can’t let this happen. Come on,” he smiles again, “You can put your feet on mine. I promise it will be fun.”

Leo shakes his head, letting out an annoyed, frustrated moan. “You’re not going to leave me alone if I don’t dance with you, are you?” he asks. Blaine just laughs and doesn’t say anything, since the answer is obvious enough. “Okay then,” Leo sighs, holding out both his hands to him, “But when I get bored, I go away, and you don’t get to force me to stay.”

“Got it,” Blaine nods, helping him to climb on his feet and then moving around the dance floor, one goofy step after another. “See?” he asks, comically but gracefully turning around and bringing Leo with himself, “This is fun.”

“This is stupid…” Leo corrects him, looking everywhere around, “And everybody’s staring!”

“I suppose it’s because we’re dancing really good,” Blaine says, but he’s laughing so hard it’s obvious he’s not meaning a single word he’s saying.

“Did you do that just to make me look ridiculous?” Leo asks, and his cheeks are flushed, and he feels angry. He looks up at Blaine and he’s smiling so calmly and peacefully he can’t help but feeling a little stupid because he seems to be getting upset over nothing.

“No,” Blaine answers, speaking in a low, soft voice, “I just wanted to make things right with you. You know, apologize for what you saw. My behavior was unacceptable, and I hope you can find in your heart the will to forgive me.”

Leonard feels himself blushing again. He would like to loosen the knot of his tie, but Blaine’s holding both his hands and he fears he would fall down his feet if he left them, so he doesn’t. “Why do you want me to forgive you?” he asks, anyway, “It’s not like I’m gonna see you much from now on, you don’t even live here!”

Blaine smiles again, shrugging lightly. “Yes, maybe,” he nods, “But I like you.”

Leo’s cheeks turn so red he feels breathless and unbelievably hot for a moment, and it’s already too much. He jumps off Blaine’s feet willingly, shaking his head, trying to make the blush disappear. “Well, I don’t!” he says, pouting lightly. He still feels too hot to bear it, and he wants to run away, but at the same time he doesn’t, so in the end he stands still.

Blaine smiles, a hand on his hip, arching an eyebrow. “You already got bored?” he asks.

Leo sticks out his tongue at him. “I just wanted to ruin your shoes, anyway,” he tells him, and only then he feels free to run away, right in his fathers’ arms. They just stopped dancing, but he asks them to dance once more, this time with him. They accept, and when Leo starts dancing with them, holding both his parents’ hands in his, he doesn’t realize it, but he’s already using the steps Blaine taught him.
Genere: Commedia, Erotico.
Pairing: Dave/Blaine.
Rating: NC-17.
- "Ti rendi conto che stiamo per fare sesso gay dentro un armadio? I passi indietro che sta facendo il movimento LGBT, e tutto a causa tua, Dave Karofsky."
Note: Questa storia è nata perché a) io avevo voglia di Blainofsky, e b) a un certo punto questa è apparsa in rete e il mio mondo non è stato più lo stesso. X'D Abbiate pazienza.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

A Dave casa di Blaine non piace per niente. Esteriormente non è diversa dal resto delle case tutte sistemate ordinatamente lungo i vialetti del circondario, un quartiere di periferia immerso nella pace e nel verde surreale di decine di giardinetti con alberi dai quali immancabilmente pende sempre un’altalena o un vecchio copertone usato come tale, per nulla dissimile da quello in cui vive anche lui, ma l’interno fa la differenza, ed in modo nient’affatto piacevole.
Blaine gli ha raccontato che a Westerville vivevano in un palazzo, non in una villetta come quella. Lui e suo padre avevano un appartamento all’ottavo piano di uno stabile che di piani ne contava dieci, ed era un regolare appartamento da tre stanze più due bagni e una cucina, insomma, il classico appartamento che fa esattamente al caso tuo se sei un padre solo con un figlio che, per l’ottanta percento del tempo, non vive neanche insieme a te.
Il problema è che, trasferendosi da Westerville a Lima, il padre di Blaine ha deciso di portare con sé tutti i mobili e i soprammobili che possedeva nell’appartamento. Scelta legittima, per carità, ma l’impressione che si ha adesso entrando in casa di Blaine è quella di trovarsi di fronte ad una serie di stanze in cui sono state infilate a forza delle cose che non c’entravano niente con quelle che invece avrebbero dovuto trovarsi lì, ed è una cosa parecchio disturbante per uno che, come Dave, ha vissuto in una casa simile a questa per tutta la sua vita, guardando sempre gli stessi mobili, gli stessi soprammobili, gli stessi quadri e le stesse tende, come se la casa fosse nata già fornita di tutte queste cose e quindi non necessitasse di alcun tipo di cambiamento.
Entrare in casa di Blaine è un po’ come entrare in un universo parallelo in cui più ti guardi attorno più quello che vedi ti sembra fuori posto, non ti convince affatto, e la sensazione è ancora più straniante perché invece per Blaine e suo padre, che a quella mobilia sono assolutamente abituati, non trovano niente di strano in ciò che li circonda; per cui, ogni volta che Dave è ospite in quella casa – non che sia capitato spesso, e d’altronde se il padre di Blaine sapesse che i compiti di matematica, materia in cui Blaine è sempre stato disastroso comunque, non sono il vero motivo per cui lui e il suo amato figlio unico si frequentano, probabilmente Dave a questa casa non potrebbe più neanche avvicinarcisi, figurarsi entrarci dentro – non può fare altro che sentirsi a disagio. Che è una cosa usualmente tremenda, ma che in alcuni casi può avere una sua utilità. In questo, ad esempio.
Camera di Blaine è in assoluto la più inguardabile della casa. Nel suo vecchio appartamento, Blaine stava – o meglio, non stava, abitando alla Dalton – in una stanza ampia meno della metà di questa. Dal momento che, però, ha tenuto gli stessi mobili, adesso sembrano sparsi per l’ambiente in modo del tutto casuale, non lo riempiono, lasciano interi pezzi di parete vuoti, il che è tremendo perché i muri non sono ancora stati ritinteggiati, e si vedono i segni dei mobili del precedente proprietario sull’intonaco, cosa che non fa che aumentare la sensazione straniante e nient’affatto piacevole che Dave sta provando.
E che fa allontanare Blaine da lui con uno schiocco umido e uno sbuffo infastidito.
- Dave, se non è di troppo disturbo, ti dispiacerebbe concentrarti? – domanda il ragazzo, appoggiando entrambe le mani alle sue cosce nude e guardandolo dal basso verso l’alto con un’espressione di offesa infantile che già da sola è capace di far dimenticare a Dave tutte le brutture del luogo in cui si trova. Dell’arredamento delle case altrui non gli è mai fregato un accidente, ma pensare a quanto è brutta casa di Blaine è l’unica arma che ha quando lui si piega sulle ginocchia e, senza grandi cerimonie, glielo prende in bocca. È bravo in modi che Dave non è sicuro di riuscire a descrivere senza farsi esplodere un paio di sinapsi, e malgrado ciò sia assolutamente un pregio, purtroppo rappresenta anche un problema di una certa entità.
- Stavo cercando di—
- Lo so cosa stavi facendo. – sbuffa ancora Blaine, - Me l’hai già spiegato. Ed è un ragionamento ridicolo!
- Scusa se cerco di durare abbastanza da arrivare a scoparti. – borbotta lui, arrossendo vistosamente. Blaine si lascia sfuggire dalle labbra un ringhietto risentito che gli vibra in gola. Dave ha un brivido al solo pensiero di quello stesso ringhietto che vibra tutto attorno a lui.
- Secondo te, - protesta, - fra un ragazzo che mi viene in bocca perché sono troppo bravo ed uno che non viene affatto ma lo fa solo perché, invece di concentrarsi su me che glielo succhio, si perde a pensare alla mia mobilia, cosa potrei mai preferire? – domanda con aria sarcastica.
- Prima di tutto, se tu potessi evitare di essere così sboccato… - si lamenta Dave, passandosi una mano sugli occhi. Tutta questa faccenda dell’essere gay era già dura prima di cominciare a fare anche cose da gay; ora che le fa, l’ultima cosa di cui ha bisogno è un ragazzo che le cose che fa le descriva in maniera tanto grafica. Blaine dovrebbe andare in giro con un dannato bollino rosso appiccicato sulla fronte. Chissà se anche con Hummel parlava in questo modo. Dave è pronto a scommettere di no, figurarsi se con quella principessina si azzardava a parlare così. – E comunque il punto non è questo, il punto è che per me potevamo anche scopare direttamente senza che tu provvedessi a… insomma.
- Che? – esclama Blaine, quasi deluso, - Ma a me piace prendertelo in bocca.
- Blaine, Dio mio… - esala ancora lui, incurvando le spalle e coprendosi il volto con entrambe le mani.
- Dave, piantala… - piagnucola Blaine, sollevandosi sulle ginocchia e, allo stesso tempo, arpionandolo da dietro la nuca per poterlo baciare. Dave lo lascia fare, schiudendo le labbra per accogliere le carezze della sua lingua e mugolando appena quando gli sente in bocca il sapore diverso che ha sempre quando fa cose come quella. – Adesso tu ti metti buono… - gli sussurra addosso Blaine, scivolando con le labbra lungo la linea della sua mascella, - E ti concentri su di me… - aggiunge, mordicchiandogli il collo e strusciando il naso lungo la curva della sua spalla, cercando di infilarsi oltre il colletto mezzo aperto e scomposto della sua camicia, - E qualunque cosa succeda… - conclude, stringendo le dita attorno la sua erezione ancora umida, - mi prometti che non penserai all’arredamento di questa casa neanche una volta. Ok?
- Mmh… - mugola Dave, incapace di rispondere qualcosa di sensato nel momento in cui le dita di Blaine prendono ad accarezzarlo lentamente verso l’alto e verso il basso, per tutta la lunghezza.
- Bravo. – sorride Blaine, soddisfatto, lasciandogli un ultimo bacio sulle labbra e poi tornando ad accucciarglisi fra le gambe, sfiorando con le labbra umide la punta della sua erezione, come a voler intenzionalmente ritardare il momento in cui la accoglierà fra il palato e la lingua. Dave tiene gli occhi chiusi e respira lentamente, mordicchiandosi il labbro inferiore, impaziente. Blaine si concede un piccolo sorriso, prima di farsi scivolare la sua erezione fra le labbra, e mugola con soddisfazione nello stuzzicarlo con la lingua, stringendo la presa sulle sue cosce mentre le mani di Dave si chiudono con uno spasmo nervoso attorno alle lenzuola già tutte stropicciate del suo letto. Sentire i tremiti di Dave fra le labbra e sulla lingua lo eccita come poche altre cose al mondo, più ancora delle sue mani addosso o della fame con cui in genere lo bacia quando riesce a ribaltarlo sul materasso, il senso di controllo misto a quello solo apparentemente opposto dell’abbandono che si concede in queste situazioni è già da solo quasi abbastanza per farlo venire senza neanche essere sfiorato.
Dave continua a tenere gli occhi chiusi per tutto il tempo, e lentamente le sue mani sciolgono la stretta attorno alle lenzuola e si spostano. Mentre una rimane, rilassata, poggiata sul letto, l’altra risale lentamente lungo il braccio di Blaine, saggiando la consistenza dei muscoli tesi in punta di dita, cercando di scivolare oltre l’orlo della manica corta per sfiorare la spalla e, non riuscendoci, passando oltre, ad accarezzare le linee tese e dritte del collo, fino a fermarsi sulla sua nuca, dove cominciano a pressare piano per invitare Blaine a prenderlo più profondamente.
Blaine obbedisce, le mani che risalgono lungo le cosce di Dave fino a stringersi attorno ai suoi fianchi, e nel momento in cui comincia a muovere la testa più velocemente e Dave si sente scivolare dentro di lui così in profondità da sfiorare quasi la parete della gola con la punta della propria erezione, improvvisamente il pensiero di lasciarsi andare e venire non sembra più così atrocemente insopportabile. D’altronde, se Blaine volesse preservarlo per un momento successivo non si muoverebbe così, e starebbe buono con quella lingua, e qualsiasi cosa stia facendo adesso con la mano che gli ha lasciato scivolare in mezzo alle gambe, oh no, decisamente non la farebbe, e poi comunque chi se ne frega, potrà sempre farselo ritornare duro un’altra volta dopo, non che questo sia esattamente un problema, dal momento che avere diciassette anni gli ha concesso maratone che a raccontarle in giro nessuno ci crederebbe, ma Dave non ha il tempo di verificare quali siano le reali intenzioni di Blaine, perché a un certo punto, senza cerimonie esattamente come quando ha cominciato, lui si ferma.
- …l’armadio. – gli sente dire, mentre apre gli occhi, tornando in sé dopo la palese esperienza extracorporea che ha appena affrontato.
- Eh…? – mugugna incerto, ben consapevole di essersi perso più di metà della frase che Blaine gli ha appena rivolto.
- Nell’armadio! – quasi strilla lui, scattando in piedi e tirandolo per costringerlo a fare lo stesso, - Nasconditi nell’armadio!
- Cosa?! – sbotta Dave, rischiando di spezzarsi l’osso del collo nell’inciampare nei pantaloni che gli impigliano le caviglie, mentre Blaine lo spinge senza riguardi verso la porta che conduce alla cabina armadio, in un angolo della stanza, - Ma che cosa stai dicendo? Non dovresti incoraggiarmi ad uscirne, semmai?
- Spiritoso. – sbotta Blaine, spalancando la porta e spingendolo all’interno, - C’è mio padre! Sta’ buono e zitto, arrivo tra poco. – conclude sbrigativamente, chiudendogli la porta quasi sul naso.
Dave sospira, ascoltando Blaine risistemarsi addosso i vestiti e correre veloce fuori dalla stanza, e poi si china a recuperare i propri pantaloni, per riportarli ad un’altezza più decente – anche se chiuderli addosso all’erezione ancora dolorosamente tesa che gli svetta fra le gambe è un’ignominia di cui Blaine pagherà le conseguenze più tardi, senza dubbio – e poi comincia a guardarsi intorno. Non è mai stato dentro la cabina armadio di Blaine, per quanto in effetti non riesca ad immaginare nessun motivo valido per il quale avrebbe dovuto visitarla prima di oggi, e per la verità non è contento di dovercisi trovare neanche adesso. Un po’ perché è spaventato dall’idea del signor Anderson che li scopre mandando a puttane mesi di segretezza ed abitudini ormai consolidate, un po’ perché già vive la propria vita all’interno di un armadio metaforico piuttosto opprimente e trovarsi ora all’interno di un armadio vero ha un che di inquietante a livello karmico.
Ciononostante, prima di annoiarsi a morte, decide che può quantomeno dare un’occhiata in giro. Metà dell’armadio è pieno della robaccia che Blaine usa per vestirsi quando viene a scuola. Tutte le sue ridicole camicie a quadretti, gli orribili gilet passati di moda in epoche storiche ben precedenti alla sua nascita – questo sempre ammesso che Blaine sia una creatura terrena e non qualche essere mitologico nato nel milleottocento, cosa che, quantomeno, spiegherebbe il suo modo di esprimersi pomposo e antiquato – per non parlare di quegli agghiaccianti cravattini che, da quando non è più obbligato a indossare la divisa della Dalton, sembrano essere diventati i suoi migliori amici.
Dave, a livello personale, odia il gusto di Blaine in fatto di abiti, ed è convinto di esserci finito a letto assieme la prima volta non tanto perché volesse proprio andare a letto con lui, ma perché non ne poteva più di vederlo andare in giro conciato in quel modo assurdo. Meglio nudo – senza dubbio.
La divisa della Dalton gli piaceva. Non aveva avuto modo di notarla per bene, all’inizio, perché Blaine aveva deciso di apparirgli come la cosa più insopportabile mai vista sulla terra, ma da quando i loro rapporti si sono prima distesi e poi evoluti in questa specie di allucinante relazione priva di senso, Dave si è ritrovato spesso a sentirne la mancanza.
E infatti, posarle gli occhi addosso è quasi rassicurante.
Sta nascosta in un angolino dell’armadio, poveretta, come se Blaine se ne vergognasse. E in questo senso è allucinante pensare che cose come quell’orribile maglietta a righe, o quei pantaloni col risvolto che a qualunque essere umano di altezza normale arriverebbero al polpaccio, possano invece risiedere in posti d’onore, quasi centrali, di modo che siano perfettamente visibili anche a qualcuno che si ritrovasse ad infilare la testa in quella cabina armadio per un paio di secondi per sbaglio. Cos’avrà mai fatto la povera divisa della Dalton per vedersi riservato un trattamento simile? Dave non riesce nemmeno a immaginarlo.
Si avvicina alla divisa, accarezzandone distrattamente una manica e sorridendo appena quando l’immagine mentale di Blaine che la indossa si fa viva fra i suoi ricordi. Non ha idea di come reagirebbe se potesse rivederlo vestito in quel modo adesso, ma molto probabilmente gli chiederà di provare, prima o poi. Magari quando non c’è anche suo padre in casa.
Nel mentre, comunque, si diverte a sfilare la giacca dalla gruccia che la tiene appesa, e rigirarsela fra le mani, inalando profondamente il profumo di Blaine rimasto intrappolato fra le fibre del tessuto.
Quando nota lo specchio alle proprie spalle, non pensa davvero a ciò che sta facendo. Semplicemente si volta, guarda il proprio riflesso, poi guarda la giacca, e due secondi dopo la sta già indossando. Non si è mai chiesto come sarebbe stato frequentare la Dalton, e in realtà le divise non sono una cosa che gli piaccia tanto avere addosso, fatta esclusione per quella della squadra di football, ma mentre si guarda allo specchio deve dire che un po’ di curiosità la prova. Cerca di immaginare la propria vita come studente di una prestigiosa scuola privata che della tolleranza zero contro i bulli come lui è stato fino a qualche mese fa ha fatto il suo marchio di fabbrica, e non può fare a meno di chiedersi se le cose sarebbero state migliori, magari più facili, se fosse stato lì invece che al McKinley.
In ogni caso, deve togliersi questa giacca di dosso, perché è stretta e corta in modi insopportabili, gli tira ovunque ed ha paura di romperla. Da come stava messa in disparte nell’armadio non potrebbe giurare che Blaine ci tenga davvero, ma d’altronde se non ci tenesse affatto l’avrebbe buttata via, perciò, prima di distruggerla e magari mettersi nelle condizioni di dover sopportare i bronci infiniti che Blaine è in grado di mettere su quando si offende, meglio metterla via.
Il problema è che non ne ha il tempo, perché un secondo dopo averlo pensato sente la porta scattare, aprirsi e richiudersi, e quando si volta Blaine è lì, ad un paio di metri da lui, rosso in volto come avesse la febbre e con entrambe le mani a coprirsi la bocca probabilmente spalancata in una o sorpresa, che lo fissa con occhi enormi e luccicanti.
- …la tolgo subito. – borbotta Dave, distogliendo lo sguardo, e Blaine praticamente gli si lancia addosso, agitando le braccia come un forsennato.
- No! – quasi strilla, afferrando la giacca per il bavero e chiudendogliela sul petto, continuando a guardarlo in quel modo che non lascia presagire a Dave niente di buono, - Ma sei matto? Tienila! Oddio, ti sta benissimo. – squittisce deliziato, allontanandosi di un paio di passi per poterlo guardare meglio.
Dave si volta a guardarsi nello specchio, inarcando un sopracciglio con evidente perplessità.
- Ma se mi esplode addosso? – domanda, tornando a guardare Blaine, il quale nel mentre ha preso a mordicchiarsi il labbro inferiore in un modo che impedisce a Dave di concentrarsi su qualsiasi altra cosa nel mondo.
- E questo sarebbe un difetto perché…? – chiede Blaine, avvicinandosi di un passo. Dave spalanca gli occhi.
- Oh, no. – dice, scuotendo il capo, - No, Blaine. Toglitelo dalla testa.
- Non lo sai nemmeno, che cos’ho in testa. – ridacchia lui, avvicinandosi ancora e lasciandogli scorrere un dito sul petto attraverso la stoffa leggera della maglietta che indossa.
- Lo so perfettamente che cos’hai in testa. – protesta Dave, comunque incapace di sottrarsi quando Blaine, aggrappandosi alle sue spalle, si solleva sulle punte per raggiungere le sue labbra, sfiorandole appena con le proprie, - E non accadrà.
- Oh, ti prego, ti prego, ti prego… - pigola Blaine, intervallando ogni ti prego con un bacio a stampo sulle labbra. Già al primo, Dave si ritrova ad inseguirlo sperando di avere di più, ma lui naturalmente si tira indietro, concedendogli solo quello che vuole e nell’esatta misura in cui vuole, cioè decisamente meno di quanto Dave non riesca a sopportare, e incommensurabilmente meno di quanto Dave in realtà non vorrebbe. – Ti prego, tienila su. Solo per questa volta!
- Oh, Dio, - cede Dave con un grugnito esasperato, spingendolo contro lo specchio – unica superficie non concava all’interno della cabina armadio – ed infilandogli quasi istantaneamente le mani sotto la maglietta, - va bene, quello che vuoi, purché tu stia zitto e ti lasci scopare, adesso. Ok?
Blaine ridacchia, soddisfatto dall’avere ottenuto – come sempre – tutto quello che voleva, e si aggrappa con forza alle sue spalle larghe, saggiandone la consistenza con la punta delle dita attraverso il tessuto della giacca della divisa. I suoi sensi lo conoscono a memoria, eppure sentire come le pieghe di quella giacca si riempiono delle forme di Dave lo esalta come fosse un bambino alle prese col regalo di Natale più grosso mai visto, tutto per lui, tutto da scartare. Con la differenza che lui, oh, no, non ha davvero nessuna intenzione di scartarlo.
Gli si stringe contro, sollevandosi fino a potergli sfiorare un lobo con le labbra. Lo stringe fra i denti, lo accarezza con la punta della lingua, e Dave ringhia qualcosa di incomprensibile nel premerglisi addosso con più foga, afferrando la maglietta che indossa dall’orlo per strattonarla qui e là. Blaine solleva entrambe le braccia quasi in automatico, in un invito evidente e chiaro come la luce del sole, che Dave coglie senza starci a pensare neanche un minuto più del necessario. Getta via la maglietta e subito si volta nuovamente verso Blaine, cercando di concentrarsi su di lui, ma lui ride, stringendosi nelle spalle.
- Ti rendi conto, - dice, - che stiamo per fare se