The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone.
Kurt hates Karofsky for so many reasons lately.
Before the Incident (he refuses to call it anything else, because then he starts to feel dangerously teary and that is bad for his complexion because he gets all red and stuffy), he was as close to normal as an openly gay kid in Lima could be. He's had crushes, he daydreamed about celebrities, and once in a while those other dreams would sneak up on him like a sledgehammer. A wet, sexy sledgehammer with messy hair and... okay, that's not the best metaphor.
Kurt almost wishes that Karofsky was tossing him in the dumpster again and giving him slushies to the face, because those things were Before The Incident. Those things he's spent years dealing with, so he can deal with them for two more years before he finally gets out of Lima. But now Kurt can feel Karofsky tracking him in the hallways, staring at him with laser-vision through the crowds and making weird, not-homophobic-enough comments that feel like a twisted version of flirting.
He sticks with Finn or the other Glee members as much as possible, but even they can't help with the shudder that trickles down his spine when he spots Karofsky. It doesn't matter how far away the jock is-three feet away, on the other side of campus, driving off in his car - it is all the same and Kurt can't imagine how he can keep walking when his stomach is either shaking itself to pieces or an icy lump.
Sometimes he gets a "courage" text from Blaine right on cue, or he remembers one from earlier, and sometimes it helps. But other times it doesn't, and it's then that he feels utterly, terribly alone.
From the first time she imagined leaving her forest, she could not stand in one place without wanting to be somewhere else. [...] She said no, and yes, and no again, day and night, and for the first time she began to feel the minutes crawling over her like worms.
He really can't focus on English or the assignment they've been given today - he'll just ask Rachel or Mercedes later. Mercedes always has his back, and Rachel is as dedicated about the rest of school (neurotic, more like) as she is about glee.
Come lunch, he plunks his bag down by his seat and takes his phone out to dial Blaine's number. Six rings later, just when Kurt is about to give up and try again later: "Yeah, sorry about that, Kurt - I just put my iPhone on shuffle, so I only realized I was getting a call when it stopped after the first verse."
Kurt smiles in spite of himself. "Were you singing along?"
"It's physically impossible for me to not sing along to New Radicals." For someone who has the top-forty chart memorized, Blaine's taste in music is all over the place. "So, what's up?"
"Oh... nothing much." Mercedes is too busy talking with Tina to catch the too-casual tone in Kurt's voice, but it doesn't fool Blaine. Kurt is pretty sure Blaine can see him bite his lip in uncertainty.
"Karofsky at his old tricks again?"
"I wish." And he does, and his voice is caught between bitterness and fear as he gets up. "Mercedes, can you watch my stuff? I'm heading to the bathroom for a minute."
Mercedes nods and tugs his bag over to hers.
"So what's he up to now?" Blaine asks as Kurt heaves open the bathroom door and lets it close behind him. "You're not getting hurt, are you? Kurt, just because I told you to tough it out doesn't mean you shouldn't get help -"
"No, no, I'm fine!" He assures, and winces at how false it sounds. "Don't worry. It's just..."
He is one creepy phone call away from stalking me. Sometimes he tries to flirt, dear god, and I don't know which is worse so now I can't even look at him without panicking. These things rush through his head in a stampede; he quashes them with a deep, if shaky breath, then shakes his head even though Blaine can't see. "Okay, I'm not hurt. But... I'm not fine, either."
"You want me to come over this weekend?"
"Yes!" It is out before he can stop it, his cracked voice echoing in the deserted bathroom, and he feels something hot run down his face. Oh, this isn't happening... He rips a sheet of paper towel from the dispenser as fast as he can while gripping the phone like a vice, but just like that word, the pent-up tears of frustration and loneliness escape him with a fury; he cannot rein them in anymore. He leans against the stall door for support, and wishes for a moment that it was Blaine.
"Holy fuck, Kurt - are you okay?" It takes one hell of a shock for Blaine to forget his composure enough to curse, and an even bigger one for him to ask a stupid question like "are you okay?" after hearing someone start crying over the phone. If Kurt wasn't having an emotional breakdown, he would be filing this away for blackmail so fast.
"No!" It is misery that escapes into his voice now. As much as it hurts to confirm everything that's been happening over the past few weeks with just one word, he's also relieved because he can finally say some form of what's been raging in his head. "No, Blaine - I am not okay!"
I'm being all but stalked by a self-hating, closeted bigot who can't decide whether he hates my existence or has repressed feelings for me and no one, no one notices! Why not, pray tell? Because Karofsky said he'd kill me and I really don't want to take my chances! Or worse - I might lose the few people who make my life bearable instead, and if that happens I might just take a nap in my car with the engine on!
Blaine is very, very quiet - did Kurt say everything out loud? - before clearing his throat and talking again. "I'm coming today. Where do you want to meet up?"
He wants to say that he'll go to Dalton instead. That they'll meet at the Lima Bean, Breadstix, Starbucks, some place where he can huddle over a drink to pretend his watery eyes and shaky voice are from drinking too-hot coffee. And again he is too spent to stop himself from saying, "Come to McKinley - I'll tell you how to get to my place."
"I'll be there when your classes end. Hold up, all right?"
Kurt's phone reads 12:28 PM, changing to 12:29 as he hangs up. Three hours and thirty-one more minutes till Blaine comes. Lunch is over in thirty-one minutes, but he feels even less like eating than he did before-
"Catch you at practice later!"
Kurt hears his voice through the door and bolts into the stall, the dropped paper towels blending perfectly in with the overflowing trashcan's contents. He locks it for a semblance of security and impulsively, despite the inherent danger to his fifty-three-dollar boots, steps onto the toilet rim to further conceal himself. He braces his arms against the flimsy gray walls, hoping desperately that they don't give way or shake and reveal his presence. Also that he doesn't fall into the toilet; even though it's one of the cleaner ones, it would be really bad for his boots.
But Karofsky is in and out after forty-two seconds, not even stopping to wash his hands (ewwww). Kurt steps down with immense gratitude when the door swings shut a second time.
Then he realizes he's acting like someone in a horror movie, and he feels like crying again.
"What took you so long, Kurt?" Mercedes is smirking as he sits down and about to mention Blaine, but the joke dies as she catches sight of reddened eyes and slightly blotchy skin. "What's up?"
"I had to spend fifteen minutes waiting in line to use a school bathroom, Mercedes. What do you think?"
She doesn't really buy it, of course, but she goes along with a "we'll talk later" expression to show it. "Ugh, no wonder. Hope you didn't have to wait inside."
"Unfortunately, I did." He gets lunch out - a ham sandwich and organic pomegranate juice - and takes a bite. It takes far too much effort to chew, and he chokes half of it down under Mercedes' concerned gaze.
It feels like ash in his mouth.