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It Won't Do

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Prologue

In which Dave is a little desperate and Rachel doesn't snoop — she's just in the right place at the right time.

 

Apparently, forgetting about Kurt Hummel was damn near impossible.

When Hummel changed schools, Dave thought his life would be much easier. He wouldn't have to look at the eyesore every day, he could concentrate on the team and his studies, get some better grades so his father would lay off him. He'd finally have some peace. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Wrong.

It was even worse. Even though he knew Fancy wouldn't be there, he couldn't help but think that he'd see him around every corner. He would stroll confidently through the hall, ready to suddenly appear (like a ninja) behind somebody and loom menacingly, but then his preferred target wouldn't be there and he'd deflate (more like a balloon poked by a ninja, maybe). But he totally wasn't disappointed when that happened, alright? He deflated with relief.

Also, he got the strangest urge to follow every person wearing a scarf.

He did a double take when he saw somebody using Hummel's locker, not two weeks after he went back to school after his suspension. It turned out that some kid moved there, because he thought the location was better or something. (He ran back crying to his old locker after the third body check into this one. What a wuss.)

He could've tolerated all that, if only thoughts about Ladyface plagued him just at school. But no, that would be too easy. He was shoveling snow off the driveway when he suddenly thought that Kurt's gloves were probably fur-lined or something, to keep his little hands fashionable as well as warm. He nearly cut off his foot with the shovel in surprise.

Something had to be done.

Pushing people into walls just didn't hold the same appeal anymore, and slushying losers seemed like a waste of money. (Okay, well, it still was a fun waste of money. He just chose different losers than before.)

He tried watching porn (that is, even more porn than usual), but that backfired rather spectacularly. What the hell was wrong with the porn industry? Suddenly they seemed to hire only uninteresting women and Hummel's look-alikes. Despite the fact that some parts were disturbingly interesting, it all just looked wrong, and wasn't that a sad commentary on the state of Dave's mind?

He thought about talking a cheerleader (Katie, or Cathy?) into giving him 'a hand'. In fact, she had pretty nice hands, didn't paint her nails and kept them rather short, which was a plus for some reason. Well, she was pretty in general, but when he tried to imagine it, he just saw hands on his body (and he would swear on his life that they belonged to Katie and not to anybody else). In the end he rejected the idea as too risky. He wasn't very verbal during sex (as far as he knew), but it still might've turned into a catastrophe.

Basically, he tried everything, but Kurt fucking Hummel stubbornly clung to some weird yet insistent part of his mind. (Well, not fucking as in fucking Hummel. Just the fairy himself. Right.)

Actually, there was one thing he hadn't tried yet, but it was more like something Fancy would do. On the other hand, maybe it'd turn out to be just the thing to finally make him forget about the boy. Fight him with his own weapon or something.

He might as well try it. It wouldn't hurt. (Probably.)

***

Normally Rachel wouldn't be seen at school this late in the afternoon ☆it was time for her private practice at home☆, but she forgot her sheet music in the rehearsal room and “Of course I need it today. It absolutely can't wait. You won't make me go back there all by myself, right Finn? Thank you, darling.“

But Finn was waiting outside ☆he said something about looking at the halls for too long in one day☆ and Rachel was forced to brave the weirdly silent school alone. She was just about to enter the choir room when she noticed something unexpected.

Dave Karofsky was standing near the piano, looking somewhat lost. Maybe he was trying to pull off some kind of a prank? But it looked like he was alone and just fiddling with something in his hands. Could he be planting a bomb?!

Obviously, it was her duty to the glee club to investigate. She cautiously pushed the door open and stuck her head into the room.

Soft music was playing from somewhere. So, it was probably an MP3 player and not a bomb. Well, that was a relief. But what was he doing, playing music in their rehearsal room?

Karofsky skipped a few songs and finally seemed to settle on one. He took a deep breath and faced the empty chairs, where the glee club sat during meetings. Rachel didn't hear it at first, because he started so quietly, but he was actually singing along with the song.

It won't do
to dream of caramel,
to think of cinnamon
and long for you.

It won't do
to stir a deep desire,
to fan a hidden fire
that can never burn true.

His voice was gradually getting stronger and Rachel was forced to acknowledge that he wasn't half bad. Nowhere near as good as her, naturally, but that was just the curse of being a true star — nobody could quite compare.

But I don't know
how I would live with myself,
what I'd forgive of myself
if you don't go.

So goodbye,
sweet appetite,
no single bite
could satisfy...

Karofsky was really getting into the song. She could tell there was some real emotion and... Rachel muffled her gasp with a gloved hand. Was he singing to somebody? It kind of sounded like that. Oooh, that was interesting!

But I don't know
what I would give of myself,
how I would live with myself
if you don't go.

It was definitely suspicious. Why would he sing a song like that? And right there? Well, it was a music room... But still! It just had to be something positively scandalous. ☆And she was the first to know, for once!☆

It won't do
to dream of caramel,
to think of cinnamon
and long
for you...

He trailed off with the song and stood there for a while, unmoving. Rachel was still debating with herself whether she should go talk to him or flee the scene, when the boy sighed heavily.

"Well, that was freaking useless," he grumbled and stopped the song that started playing next.

Rachel chose retreat. She hid around the corner until Karofsky left, and then went in to get her sheet music. ☆She wouldn't forget about it for a second time, no matter what exciting things happened.☆

She took out her phone and scrolled through the contact list to 'Kurt', but hesitated before pressing 'call'. He probably wouldn't want to be reminded of his tormentor, even to discuss the possibility that the bully in question was in fact tormented by some secret, forbidden love. And was also a decent singer.

Well, she had to tell somebody! She scrolled back up to '~~FINN~~<3', but then she remembered that her boyfriend ☆he may've thought he wasn't her boyfriend at the time, but she knew better☆ was waiting for her outside the school and rushed to him.

He actually met her halfway to the entrance, looking worried. "Are you alright? I saw Karofsky near the exit. He didn't do anything to you, did he?"

Rachel beamed at Finn, touched by his concern. "Oh no, everything's fine! Nothing happened. At least, nothing bad!"

She bounced in place, clapped her hands and began:

"Did you know that Karofsky can sing?"

 

Chapter 1

In which Rachel still doesn't snoop — she investigates, Dave gets an offer he can't really refuse and Kurt gets the good news.

 

Rachel peeked around the corner of the hall, zeroed in on her target and took a deep breath. Finally it was time to put her plan into motion.

A couple of months earlier she started stalking Dave Karofsky ☆or rather investigating him; stalking was a little too creepy and much too plebeian for her tastes☆ with the sole purpose of uncovering his secret and airing it to the whole school. He deserved it for all the slushies thrown at the glee club and especially for driving Kurt away and into the uniformed arms of their enemies.

However, the discovery forced her to adjust her plans.

It turned out that Karofsky wasn't in fact tragically in love with Coach Beiste, although that had been a completely valid hypothesis to make at the starting point. The truth was both less and more shocking, and in a way even more tragic.

After tailing Karofsky for more than a month ☆and really, the only place she didn't invade were the boys' showers, and not for lack of trying. She was truly dedicated to the cause.☆ it became apparent that the jock was pining for Kurt.

The first clue: her friend's old locker. Karofsky seemed to target every person who as much as looked at it for too long. She almost started to believe that his real problem was with the locker and Kurt had just got caught in the crossfire, but surely that would be too dumb even for a meathead.

Besides, she was watching him especially closely on Valentine's Day, and he spent half of the lunch break lingering in the hall near the locker. She was just finishing her sandwich and contemplated leaving her hiding place ☆the door to the girls' bathroom; again, you just had to admire her dedication☆ when he finally approached the locker, pulled something from his pocket, probably a piece of paper, and started to stuff it into a slit in the door. But a moment later he changed his mind, crumpled the paper and stormed off.

He wouldn't be writing letters to the locker, right?

The second clue: a scarf. It happened just one time, because Karofsky seemed to be very careful with it, but when he opened his locker something bright purple fell out. Before he snatched it back, Rachel managed to identify it as Kurt's scarf, one he lost some time ago and then complained about it for two weeks.

It wasn't there later, when she broke into the jock's locker — just to be thorough, of course. He must've taken it home. Or it might've been buried somewhere under the jumbled mess of his things, but she had no intention of digging through that without rubber gloves. It even seemed to move a little.

Afterwards, everything just appeared to confirm her theory. Like the way he whipped his head around when he heard Mercedes call somebody 'babe', or the fact that he gave everyone from New Directions a wide berth in the halls, even though after the zombie phase he didn't seem to hate them that much. Apparently he couldn't look at anything related to Kurt, or the guilt and sorrow were eating him alive. It had taken her a while to believe it, but now it seemed so obvious!

There was also the small matter of checking out other boys, and she never noticed it before, but Sam actually had a nice butt. It served as a nice confirmation of her theory ☆the ogling, not Sam's butt☆, as it stood to reason that his eyes would wander in the absence of the object of his poorly expressed interest.

Unfortunately, it had to mean a drastic change in her plans. She just couldn't out him to the school, no matter what terrible things he had done. It'd be too cruel and could even inadvertently hurt Kurt. On the other hand, it provided her with a golden opportunity, one she may not have seen otherwise if she was blinded by the thirst for revenge.

She would use the information to mold the bully into a better person, one that wasn't ashamed of himself and didn't constitute a health risk for the glee club. Consequently, she'd make the school a safe — well, at least safer — place for Kurt to come back to. And surely it would count as her good deed for the year.

Also, she could really use a minion.

With all that in mind, she stood a little straighter and went to meet Karofsky at his locker.

***

Dave closed his locker and flinched. He definitely wasn't expecting to see Rachel Berry standing there, with her face just a few inches away from his... chest. In fact, she was lucky he was already looking down, or he might've trampled her over without even knowing.

"What, midget? Came for a daily dose of liquid beauty?"

Berry had the nerve to roll her eyes at him. (She was getting a double slushie facial later.)

"No, Karofsky. I came to tell you that I know your secret."

He immediately wanted to ask Which one?, but that probably wasn't the smartest course of action.

"Yeah? And what is it?"

Did she find out about the mouse he kept hidden in his locker? Whatever, he planned to get rid of it soon, anyway. It was turning into a dangerous territory and he was getting sick of eating sandwiches without cheese. Besides, it's not like he cared about poor homeless rodents or anything. (And it tried to eat... the purple thing. Not cool, man.)

The girl tossed her hair behind her shoulder and smiled sweetly. He had to admit it was a little scary.

"I don't think you want to talk about it here, where everyone could hear us. Meet me at the auditorium, ten minutes after your practice. It's really in your best interests. Come alone and don't be late," she said, turned on her heel and walked away, leaving Dave completely confused.

What the hell? Was it a trap? Maybe she'd be waiting there with the rest of the gleek losers... But probably not. Why would they ambush him now that he mostly left them alone?

It was probably the hobbit's crazy idea. If she knew about Mickey, good for her. She could even take him for herself. (It's not that Dave wanted a pet or something, it was just there and so small and lonely. But whatever.)

But, as much as he didn't want to think about it, there was another option. Berry could've found out about the other thing. The much, much bigger thing. And considering her big mouth, it'd be a disaster.

Well, it's no use worrying in advance. If she knew about that, it would've been all over the school already, right? It was probably about the mouse.

The frustrating thing was, with the amount of secrets he had recently, he couldn't really afford to miss the appointment.

***

Karofsky arrived right on time. It was a little surprising, but fortunate at the same time. Everything was going according to plan.

Rachel finished singing her latest number ☆she timed it so he heard the last fabulous notes, just to remind him that he was dealing with a star☆ and gestured for the jock to come closer to the stage while she sat down on the edge.

He looked nervous, and rightly so. His life was about to undergo a dramatic change and some part of him probably already knew that. ☆Well, he was trying not to look uneasy, but she knew better.☆

After a long while of staring at each other, Karofsky cleared his throat. "So?"

Apparently, a proper greeting was too much to hope for. Rachel sighed. They had a tough road ahead of them.

Best get to it. It was no use beating around the bush with this type of men.

"So, as I told you, I know about your secret." A pause for dramatic effect. "I know that you're gay. Don't bother denying it," she added when he opened his mouth, surely intending to do just that. "I know."

Karofsky turned deathly pale and then horribly red in short order. He clenched his hands into fists and Rachel realized that meeting him in an empty auditorium long after classes might not have been her brightest idea. But before she could seriously contemplate running for her life, the jock turned around and punched one of the seats.

"Hummel told you?" he growled, and wow, she wasn't expecting that.

One: how did Kurt find out before her? Did Karofsky tell him, or was it his gaydar? Neither of these options seemed likely, as prior evidence suggested that Kurt's gaydar was somewhat faulty. And it complicated their situation even more!

Two: not that she had any lingering doubts about her theory, but Karofsky had just confirmed it. Terrific.

"No, I figured it out all by myself," she said proudly. "It's actually pretty obvious once you start paying attention."

The jock shot her a disbelieving look. "No, it's not."

Rachel huffed. "It was to me, but that may be because of my obviously superior investigating skills."

Karofsky swallowed and took a step closer. "If you tell anyone..." he started, looking rather intimidating, but she wasn't going to get silenced by threats.

"I'll have you know that I respond much better to the carrot rather than the stick," she interrupted.

It certainly managed to stop him in his tracks. "...what?"

Honestly, boys. "I mean, you should try a bribe instead of a threat." Now he just looked confused. Rachel sighed. "As I see it, we have two alternatives."

She waited for a grunt signifying that Karofsky was ready to listen.

"One: I tell everybody and take my well-deserved place as the crowned queen of gossip."

It was a tempting option, she had to admit. The jock didn't seem to be a fan, though, judging by the grimace on his face.

"Two: I keep the information to myself and you agree to do whatever I tell you to do. It won't even include public humiliation. I trust you to pick the better deal."

Karofsky gritted his teeth and started pacing. Rachel waited patiently, pretending to inspect her nails while he grumbled to himself under his breath. Finally, with a last half-hearted kick to a chair leg, he turned back to her.

"Okay, fine. What do you want?"

Rachel beamed at him. Everything was going just as planned.

She really was a genius.

***

When Kurt heard his phone ring, he was grateful for the excuse to take a break from homework. He picked it up, barely glancing at the caller ID.

"We're very sorry, but Mr. Hummel can't be reached at this time. He's buried under a pile of assignments and hasn't been seen for a week."

"Oh, you poor baby," his favorite frenemy said flatly.

"Your compassion is much appreciated, Rachel, thank you. And hello."

He complained a little about how getting to harmonize a few lines with Blaine was now the highlight of his musical career, and then let her talk. Rachel actually knew quite a lot of gossip, and not all of it overlapped with what Mercedes told him a few days earlier. Of course, there was also lots of information about her that she was more than happy to share.

Kurt wasn't sure when and why they started making their nearly weekly calls, but he was glad they did. He never would've learned about Finn's earlier incident with socks and the microwave from his step-brother, and it was excellent blackmail material.

"And last but not least," Rachel said after a good few minutes, "I started a project to make the school a better place for when you come back."

He sighed. "I really appreciate your efforts, honey, but unless you're building a rocket to send Karofsky to the moon, I'm afraid it's not going to be enough."

"Well, it's not a rocket, but it does have everything to do with Dave Karofsky. You see, I recently learned something about him. Something that, apparently, you already knew."

Kurt furrowed his brow. "Wait, you didn't know that he was dropped on his head as a child?"

"I didn't mean that," she laughed. "I meant the fact that he's gay."

There was a very uncomfortable minute of silence, and then a shrill: "He told you?"

"No, I figured it out by myself, but then he basically confirmed it, so."

"Wow." Kurt mulled over it for a while. "You're not going to out him, are you?"

"Oh no, I couldn't! Especially since you chose to change schools rather than do that. But he doesn't need to know that just yet, right?"

Her innocent tone was only making Kurt more suspicious. "Are you blackmailing him?"

"Certainly not! I'm just giving him some alternatives."

"You're impossible. And crazy. You do know that he's dangerous?"

"Well, I think he's horribly misguided rather than an actual psychopath. And I'm going to set him straight. So to speak."

Kurt couldn't help but huff a laugh at that. "And how are you going to accomplish that?"

"With singing, of course!"

Of course Rachel would think that all problems can be solved by liberal application of music.

"Well, good luck with that, and please be careful. But you know, if you fix him, I just might run back to McKinley. I'm so tired of these uniforms. Sure, a bunch of handsome guys in uniforms is a fine sight, but having to wear it everyday is torture."

"I'm sure it is for you, Kurt," she cooed. "How are you coping with that?"

And Kurt had to beam at that, even though it also made him flush a little with embarrassment. "Oh, you should see what I wear underneath."

 

Chapter 2

In which glitter is used without moderation, The List is growing and friendships are discussed.

 

Karofsky was late. But that was the first time it happened, and they'd had quite a few sessions already, so Rachel was willing to forgive him if he apologized very nicely.

She was more worried about the fact that the janitor was lingering near the auditorium, apparently dead set on getting rid of the glitter she threw around while practicing her new solo. Those were not ideal conditions for a therapy session. Maybe it was time for a change of location.

Finally, the jock showed up, giving the janitor the evil eye on the way. "Hi, Berry."

Rachel raised her eyebrow. Karofsky grumbled something under his breath. "Sorry I'm late," he gritted out. "Coach had us running laps."

"It's okay, Dave," she said magnanimously. "I think it's time to relocate our meetings. Can I trust you to behave at my house?"

Karofsky furrowed his brow and shrugged. "I guess."

Well, that didn't exactly inspire confidence... But by that time Rachel was reasonably sure that it was safe to bring him to her house. He already had a lot of opportunities to harm her and he never tried anything. The more private setting could even help him open up.

She collected her things and admired her handiwork for the last time. Copious amounts of glitter were arranged in the shape of a star, in the center of which she finished her performance. Of course, one would have to admire her from above to get the full effect, but that could surely be arranged.

"Bye, see you tomorrow," she called to Brad and came down from the scene. The pianist waved back.

Karofsky, who was waiting patiently for her to join him, started at the exchange. "What the— who's that?"

Rachel looked over her shoulder, but there wasn't anything or anyone unexpected. "It's Brad. He plays for us," she said simply. Her minion, however, seemed to find that shocking.

"Was he here every time?"

"Yes. It's Brad," she repeated, slowly, and if it wasn't sufficient explanation ☆even though Brad was rather self-explanatory☆ she added: "He's always around."

The jock muttered something angrily ☆they'd have to get rid of this awful habit of his, honestly☆ and rubbed his face with his palm. She handed him her bag.

"You can drive me home," she announced and proceeded out of the auditorium. Karofsky followed after a sarcastic "Thanks". The janitor wheeled a huge vacuum cleaner past her with a heavy sigh.

Someday he would brag about cleaning up glitter after the great Rachel Berry. ☆You just wait and see, janitor.☆

For now she had a bully to rehabilitate, though.

***

It just wasn't Dave's day.

First Berry decided to take him home, just when his usual seat in the auditorium was starting to get comfortable. Long hours of sitting on his ass in one place would now go to waste. (It just figured that he couldn't have nice things.)

Then she said that the creepy guy was always there when they met. What the hell, was Dave supposed to know that? As far as he knew (or cared) the music could've been coming out of Berry's ass. He just listened to her voice when she sang, nodded at the right moments when she went into lecture mode and tried to learn how to sleep with his eyes open (what, it'd be a useful skill). And now he had to add one more person to the already too long list of people who knew... that. And he couldn't threaten that Brad dude — he was old. You don't threaten old people, Dave was pretty sure it was a rule. Also, as he might have mentioned, the guy was creepy.

Well, at least he didn't look all that interested in spreading gossip. Playing piano for the gleeks was probably his only purpose in life.

Berry gave him directions to her house and then prattled on about the magical properties of glitter and how she was going to start her own brand when she became rich and famous. Thankfully, driving gave him a good excuse for not contributing to the conversation, because the only opinion he could offer was that glitter looked good on Hummel, and that was: a) not something he'd like to share, b) pretty redundant, as everything looked good on Hummel. (He was just starting to accept that fact.)

They reached the House of Berry after a few minutes. It looked pretty normal, all things considered. Dave parked in the driveway and the girl bounded out of the car, leaving her bag behind. Apparently he was supposed to be her slave now.

He followed her inside and toed off his shoes while she put on a pair of fuzzy slippers. "I'm home!" she called loudly. "And I brought a friend!"

A voice answered her from one of the rooms, but Dave was distracted by her words. A friend? Were they friends? He never thought of them like that, but... They met up a few times a week and talked, so that was pretty friendly. Well, mostly Rachel talked and sang at him, and he was there because of the blackmail... But she said that she had his best interests in mind. So maybe?

He was so absorbed in thoughts about friendship that he barely heard what was being said between the father and daughter until it was too late.

"Is this a friend-friend or a boy-friend?"

"Daaaad. Dave's just a friend. Besides, he's GAY."

In fact Berry said it like one says "he plays hockey" or "he's tall", but Dave heard the word as if she shouted it in all caps through a megaphone. It echoed around his skull a few times and made all the blood leave his face. He almost dropped the bag due to his suddenly nerveless fingers.

Never mind a friend, Berry was dead.

Her dad stepped out to the hall and smiled at them in greeting. Dave probably managed a hello, but he might've as well confessed love for pink ponies when he lost contact with reality for a few moments. It seemed like he did well, though, because Mr. Berry just turned to Rachel with his next question.

"Do you guys want something to drink?"

Berry shook her head and skipped down the hall. "No, thanks dad. We'll be in the Oscar Room! Come, David."

By that time Dave regained some basic motor function, so he followed. He walked carefully down the stairs to the basement, put down her bag and then wheeled around to face Berry, who was already doing something with a pink, sparkling microphone.

"What. The fuck. Berry!" he hissed, clenching his fists. "You promised you wouldn't tell anyone!"

She stared at him blankly for a few moments. "But... it's just my dad," she said finally, apparently confused.

"And earlier it was just the piano guy! Maybe you've already told the whole school and everyone's just waiting for me to let my guard down and get me then!"

Finally she looked upset. "No! No, Dave! Nobody else knows. Wait, I'll fix this." She ran back upstairs.

Dave sank down onto a big pillow and took a shaky breath. He punched the pillow a couple of times for a good measure. (It seriously wasn't his day.)

Berry came back after a few minutes and approached him carefully. Dave almost snorted. Now she was scared of him, now that he was this close to barfing from terror.

"I talked to dad, told him it's a secret. He won't tell anybody, not even my other dad."

...right. He even managed to forget that Berry had two dads in this whole excitement. (He didn't know if it made it better or even worse, though.)

"Brad won't tell, either," she continued. "I'm not sure if he even can talk. And he knows it's a secret. But I'll remind him tomorrow." She paused for a few beats. "Are you okay now?"

He did snort then. "Sure, Berry. Just peachy."

The girl sighed and before he knew it, he was wrapped in a Berry hug. He even stopped shaking in surprise. She put her head on his shoulder and just held him tightly. After a few long moments he raised his hand and patted her awkwardly on the back.

Rachel drew back and smiled at him. "Okay. I'll sing you a song that will make it all better! I've been working on it lately and it's nearly perfect."

(Sure, whatever. As long as he didn't have to listen to "The Greatest Love of All" yet again.)

She went to the stereo system and in a few seconds a melody started to play. Berry took a place by the microphone.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Now that he calmed down a little he was getting sleepy. And he was actually starting to like her voice. (Probably just getting used to it due to prolonged exposure.) And the pillows were pretty comfy.

Comfy pillows might even be one of his favorite things...

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

***

"Oh, one more thing before you go!"

Kurt put down the hairspray he managed to grab a second earlier and rolled his eyes at the phone. "I'm all ears."

"You should come over when you're home for the weekend," said Rachel over the speaker. "I recently acquired a tube of green face paint and a blond wig, and it's a golden opportunity to record ourselves doing a fabulous rendition of 'What Is This Feeling?'."

He grinned. "Absolutely. But there's one problem."

"Hm?"

Kurt peered at himself in the mirror, making sure his skin was still flawless. "If you think you'll be putting paint on my face, you're very much mistaken."

Rachel sighed. "I wouldn't dream of it, Kurt. You're getting the wig."

"Oh." It wasn't his first thought, certainly, but it might turn out really well. He smiled slowly. "I can work with that."

They hurried through their goodbyes, blew some kisses at the phone and parted with one last reminder from Rachel: "Remember to think about more appropriate songs about loving yourself!"

Kurt shook his head. She certainly had some creative ideas for rehabilitating bullies and closet cases... But her methods couldn't be that bad if she was still alive, right?

He quickly finished doing his hair and heard a knock on his door. One more touch to his bangs and he called out an 'Entrez!'.

"Are you ready?" asked Blaine, sticking his head into Kurt's room.

They were going to the theatre on another non-date. No, really, it was not a date. When he told Mercedes that nothing had changed between him and Blaine, he was telling the truth. Mostly.

Actually, a little something happened a while earlier. Some time after Valentine's Day they realized they were spending most of their time with each other anyway, and they liked it, so they might as well start dating properly, right? Of course, Kurt was ecstatic. He was finally getting a real date with the boy he'd been crushing on for months!

They went to dinner and to a movie. It was... very similar to their earlier meetings, just slightly more stressful. At least for Kurt, who didn't quite know what to expect on an actual date. Should they hold hands? Take a long walk under the moonlight? Surely a kiss was in order? He decided to let Blaine lead, as it seemed like the older boy had some idea of what he was doing. Even though we wasn't doing anything different than usual, really.

Finally they were back in Kurt's room and sure enough, it was time to turn it into a proper date. Blaine took his hand and Kurt closed his eyes in anticipation. After four very loud heartbeats he felt lips touch his.

It was a very pleasant feeling. Blaine's lips were gentle on his own and moved carefully but with purpose. Kurt did his best to respond and it seemed to be going quite well.

However, after a few seconds he realized that despite their efforts to make it work, the kiss was lacking a crucial element — passion. It felt perfectly nice for a kiss with a friend, but nice was not how you want to describe your first kiss with your true love, right?

There should have been an explosion of chemistry, fireworks of desire. At the very least, he was supposed to feel so elated he could float away. ♪He had this thought out in great detail.♪

Alas, it just didn't happen. Kurt's foot didn't even twitch, never mind popping.

They moved apart after a while and gazed at each other for a minute with similar expressions. Then they started talking at the same time.

"I guess it's not..."

"I don't think..."

They paused and smiled a little awkwardly. Kurt cleared his throat. "Friends?"

"God, yes," Blaine replied and drew him into a tight hug.

Far from making things uncomfortable, the whole thing actually worked wonders for their friendship. Once Kurt stopped worrying about making Blaine like him, he felt free to just be himself in his company. This in turn seemed to inspire the other boy, who was even starting to wear clothes other than his uniform in his free time. Kurt considered it huge progress.

And there they were now, going out on a non-date to ogle the handsome actors at the theatre. Well, the play itself should also be interesting, at least according to Wes. It didn't get much better than that.

Kurt smiled. "Sure, let's go."

***

Wednesday morning found Dave waiting for the slushie machine to do its work and humming the song he couldn't get out of his head. ("Whiskers on roses and raindrops on kittens..." Or maybe not. Huh.)

The slushie was meant for Michaels, the little jerk who ratted on him and Az. So what if they'd turned Mr. Colbert's yearbook photo into a pirate pimp? He looked way more badass that way. Nobody appreciated creativity at this school.

Besides, grapes were probably good for your skin (like all fruit, right?), so he was just doing Michaels a favor. He could be nice when he wanted to.

His musings about packages tied up with strings were interrupted by a throat clearing near his elbow. He looked down and sure enough, there was his slave driver.

"I hope it's your favorite flavor," she said cheerfully, before he had a chance to say hi or anything.

Dave hesitated. "I guess. Why?"

Rachel's smile got even wider. It usually meant trouble. "Because you're going to drink it all up. With a big, happy smile on your face."

"Keep dreaming, Berry," he snorted, taking the finished slushie in hand.

"Okay then."

(Uh-oh. That was way too easy.) "...okay?"

"Of course. I'll just go back to where I've seen Jacob fiddling with his microphone — please stop smirking, David — and tell him all about the absolutely scandalous thing I recently found out about. I'm sure he'll be shocked, just like the whole school. It will certainly be the gossip of the—"

"Jeez, fine." He stuck a straw into the cup and took a long suck. (Whoa, brain freeze.) "Happy now?"

"Ecstatic." Berry patted him on the arm and smiled slightly less crazily. "Keep it up." With that she wandered off, probably to find a mirror, so she could properly congratulate herself on saving some poor loser from a cold, melting fate.

Dave set off for chemistry class, all the while grumbling about new ways to get back at Michaels and absently drinking his slushie. Just when he was starting to think he might even like Berry, or something like that...

She was lucky it really was his favorite flavor.

 

Chapter 3

In which Rachel is demanding, Dave starts a revolution and Kurt is rather underwhelmed.

 

Rachel took a deep breath and counted to ten. Then she briskly walked up to Karofsky, who had his head buried in his locker.

"This has got to stop," she announced, fishing a pack of tissues out of her bag.

Dave looked at her around the locker door and did a double take. "Shit, I almost thought it's blood," he said and snorted. "Nice look, Carrie."

She took out a tissue and started wiping her cheek. "It might as well be blood!" she declared and would've punctuated it with a dramatic head toss, but it probably wasn't a good idea with the cold slush dripping down her face. "And it might yet end in carnage if it goes on like this."

The boy shrugged. "Wasn't me."

"And you're lucky it wasn't. But you have to make it stop," she stressed, glaring at him for good measure. Karofsky quickly looked around, no doubt checking for eavesdroppers, and peered dubiously at Rachel.

"How?"

"I don't know, they're your half-witted friends. Use your fists if it's the only language they'll understand."

It looked like Karofsky's face couldn't decide on one expression, so it contorted in a faintly amusing fashion and finally settled on something that probably passed for incredulity. "You want me to beat them up for slushying you?"

Rachel sniffed and dragged a tissue across her forehead with distaste. ☆She should've had a moist towelette ready. Kurt would've been so disappointed.☆ "No, I want them to stop slushying me and the glee club. I couldn't care less about the methods you use, just make it happen."

"You're crazy, Berry," he huffed, shutting his locker closed. "That's impossible."

That wasn't the best time to get philosophical, as she still hadn't started dealing with the mess in her hair, but if you must, you must. "Only if you think it is! You can do anything, you just have to believe." A cold blob of red slush chose that moment to slide down behind her ear. She shivered with revulsion, chucked the last tissue in the trash and finished the pep talk with a pat on his arm. "I believe in you, Dave. Make me happy."

With that, Rachel turned on her heel and headed for the bathroom. ☆She would've liked to impart a greater portion of her wisdom on the jock, but one had to accept that there were times when, quite simply, hair was a priority.☆

***

Berry would be the death of him.

First she makes him want to strangle her with his bare hands, a moment later — she hugs him. One minute she's an irritating bitch with crazy demands, then she says something like 'I believe in you'. And Dave thought she was insane even before she started talking to him. He hadn't known the half of it.

But seriously, she must've messed with his head, 'cause he actually wanted to make her happy. (Only because an unhappy Berry could make his life hell. But still.)

Obviously, beating the guys up was out of the question, because: a) no way would he get into a fight over losers and defend them, he had a reputation to uphold, and b) they outnumbered him, hellooo. Believing in yourself was all nice and well, but it wouldn't protect Dave from five angry guys his size. He had to figure out a better way to do that.

He spent the rest of the classes thinking up a plan. He barely managed to avoid detention thanks to the bad timing of his 'eureka' moment. Apparently you're not supposed to shout "A-ha!" at any point during class, but especially not when the teacher's asking questions you don't know the answers for. Well, at least he hadn't done the victory dance.

(He couldn't help it if he was a genius.)

Looking back, he probably should've waited until after class to do his thinking. After all, Berry hadn't set a deadline. Then again, knowing her she wanted it done yesterday, or at least before her next slushie facial.

Thankfully his master plan didn't need much preparation. That was the beauty of it, really. He could set it in motion on the very next day.

And he did.

Time: lunch break
Location: cafeteria
Equipment: one slushie, melon (he was taking a break from grape)

Dave entered the cafeteria and saw four of his friends sitting at their usual table. Good. He'd start with them and the rest of the plan would take care of itself.

He sat down and placed his cup on the table. "Hey guys."

"Yo D," replied Nash, overexcited as always. "Who's this for?" he asked, nodding at the slushie.

Dave just took out his sandwich, all casual like he wasn't actually a brilliant mastermind ready to use them for his own ends. "It's for me."

"Yeah, but who're we slushying?"

He shook his head and looked at Nash like he was stupid (it helped that he was, a little). "Nobody. Slushie facials are so last semester, man."

Azimio paused chewing. "Whaaaaat," he said around his burger. (Berry would've totally chewed him out for that.)

Heart beating fast in excitement, Dave leaned over the table and looked around conspiringly. They automatically shuffled closer. "Yeah, guys. It's all about psychological warfare now."

Harper and Woods looked at each other and then back at Dave with similar blank expressions. Nash seemed confused, but that was pretty much his default state. Z waved his hand in a 'get on with it' way and went back to chewing.

"Look, it's like this. By now all the losers know that we're the shit around here. And they're expecting the slushies."

"As they should!" Nash cut in, earning a slap to the back of his head and a "Don't interrupt your elders!" from Azimio.

"All we need to do now," Dave continued, "is look at them like we're planning something and they'll wet their pants."

"That's your plan?" asked Harper, picking at the lettuce in his sandwich.

"It's foolproof, man. Look, we start tomorrow morning. We'll find some losers, preferably gleeks, maybe we'll have some slushies ready... But we'll just look at them, all intense like, and smile like we know something they don't."

"Which we do!" cried Nash and quickly ducked his head. The guys shook theirs.

"Yes," Dave sighed. "They'll live in fear, waiting for us to do something, for the rest of the day at least! And the best part? We don't have to waste money on them." He had a great thought just then. "And the second best part? You can't be expelled or anything for looking."

That was a rather big plus, 'cause lately some teachers started looking at them more closely and in a disapproving way. Coach Sylvester in particular tended to appear in random places in the halls and make the 'I'm watching you' gesture at Dave, which was pretty disturbing. Mr. Schuester shot him disappointed looks whenever he met him.

Anyway, better safe than sorry. Or something.

He sprawled back in his chair (like a boss). "So, guys. You in?"

Woods hummed and Harper took a bite of his lunch. Nash practically vibrated in his seat, probably wanting to join him right away, but unsure of the other guys' reaction. Dave turned to look at Z.

His friend gave him a long, considering look. Dave resisted the urge to squirm. Finally, Azimio swallowed and shrugged.

"Sure, bro. Less work for us and everything. Let's try this thing."

Dave grinned and extended his hand for a bro-fist. The rest of the boys nodded. Nash flailed like he too wanted to do the fist bump, but remembered at the last moment that he hadn't earned that privilege yet.

The man of the hour remembered his slushie and took it in hand. "Also, guys, have you ever actually tried this?" He drank from the cup. "It's good."

Phase one: complete

Later he just had to track Berry down and fill her in on the plan. It turned out to be harder than he'd thought. He realized that was actually the first time he was the one initiating contact between them.

After a few minutes of useless staring above people's heads in the hall, he remembered that he had to look a foot below the human level. Finally he located her near the bathroom, thankfully alone, and managed to lure her to a less public place to talk.

"So, let me get this straight," she said when he finished explaining his awesome idea. "We have to pretend that we've suddenly regressed intellectually and we're actually afraid of you, while you look at us in an intimidating fashion and smile at nothing?"

Of freaking course she couldn't just be satisfied with anything. Dave huffed. "Well, if you prefer a slushie to the face..."

"No, no," she said quickly and smiled widely. "If it works, it... it'll be great, Dave. See, it was totally possible. I'm proud of you."

She patted him on the arm and excused herself to the bathroom. Dave went off in the opposite direction, even though it meant taking the longer way to class. (Stealth required some sacrifice.)

It probably made him the saddest loser in Lima, but he felt warm with the praise all through the next period.

***

Kurt paused with the brush dipped in paint. "And how did that work out for you?"

Rachel bounced in her seat, heedless of the fact that a few errant locks of her hair were getting stuck to her face. He pursed his lips disapprovingly.

"Actually, it's fun!" she enthused. "We walk around the school like we're afraid of our own shadows and secretly laugh at the meat heads. You should see Tina! She flattens herself to the wall whenever one of them walks by. I myself have taken to looking over my shoulder in a spooked manner." She demonstrated. Kurt couldn't help but huff a laugh.

"But does it really work?"

She shrugged with one shoulder. "So far, so good. A week without slushies is nothing to scoff at!"

He gestured for her to stop moving around and brandished the paintbrush like a weapon. "Well, maybe they're actually lying in wait and preparing a clever and evil plan to get you all?" he suggested, adding a few finishing touches to Rachel's ear.

They both mulled over it for a minute and simultaneously came to the same conclusion: "Naaaah."

The next couple of minutes were reserved for letting the paint dry. Kurt combed his fingers through his wig and grimaced a little. It was no use complaining about it again, though; they'd already agreed to get a better one for the next time.

And better body paint, possibly. This one managed to greenify half of the surfaces in Rachel's room and looked slightly uneven on her cheeks. ♪Oh well, it was just their first try.♪

"I think I'm all dry now," she announced finally. Kurt gathered the fabric around his legs and they relocated to the Oscar Room.

Rachel somehow managed to convince him ♪that part was a blur in his memory; it was possible that she drugged him♪ to put on something that she called a dress, but was actually a lovechild of a sleeping gown and a straitjacket. Next time he'd have to bring his own attire, because honestly. Letting Ms. Berry dress you was a terrible idea.

She set up the camera and Kurt fiddled with the sound system. Finally they deemed everything ready and started recording.

An hour and several takes later they were back upstairs, sprawled on Rachel's bed as they giggled their way through a playback. At one point Kurt had tripped over the hem of the hellgown and almost crashed into the girl, who in turn managed to spread the green paint all over her sparkly pink mike and, mysteriously, half of the pillows lying around the room.

"Obviously, we can't show it to anyone at this stage," he declared, pushing her into the bathroom. He took a seat at her vanity, removed the wig and started cleaning his face. Somewhere along the way his visit has turned into a sleepover. All dads had agreed, if a touch reluctantly, and his only concern was the lack of pajamas. He would probably end up sleeping in the dress from fashion hell. At least it was rather comfortable once you eliminated the danger of tripping.

Rachel exited the bathroom in a cloud of steam, wearing pj's adorned with playing kittens. ♪That was exactly why Kurt wouldn't be borrowing pajamas from her if he could help it.♪ She sat down on the bed and rubbed her hair vigorously with a towel. He turned back from the mirror to face her.

"You know, I admire your dedication to making the school a better place. You willingly spend your free time with Karofsky," he shuddered.

She beamed proudly. "Yes, well. Somebody has to deal with this problem once and for all, and it looks like there's nobody more competent as me. But honestly, he's not that bad."

"We'll have to agree to disagree on that one," Kurt snorted.

"I get why you doubt it, but really, he's making a huge progress. He's been pretty good company since he stopped trying to sleep through our sessions. And he's not as stupid as we thought! He helped me with my math homework."

He sniffed, feeling a little uncomfortable with Rachel extolling the virtues of his enemy. "Good for you. But if I never see him again, it'll be too soon."

The girl frowned worriedly and shuffled on the bed to get closer to him. "Oh Kurt, I know you dislike him, and with good reason. But I think you'll feel better if you forgive him," she said earnestly. "And you're bound to see him when you come back to McKinley."

Kurt crossed his hands defensively. "Did you forgive Jesse?"

Rachel let out an unladylike snort. "Of course not." At the sight of his raised eyebrows she elaborated: "But that's a totally different situation! And I bet he's not even sorry. He certainly didn't apologize."

"Well, I don't exactly see Karofsky on his knees in front of me." Kurt rolled his eyes and moved to the bed, where he sprawled on his back next to his friend. "And, Rachel... you know I miss you and glee club, and even the rest of the school... But my dad and Carole sacrificed their honeymoon to pay tuition at Dalton for the rest of the year. So even if Karofsky decides to move to Siberia tomorrow, I couldn't transfer back just like that."

She pouted and chucked the towel onto a chair. "But... maybe at least for the next year?"

Kurt smiled. "Maybe," he admitted and laughed when Rachel tackled him to the bed. ♪Although, does it count as tackling when the victim's already lying down?♪

He got about a minute of silence, then: "He's still going to be there next year."

"Rachel."

"Well, he is."

He sighed. "Why can't he be a senior already?"

Rachel chuckled and patted him on the shoulder. "Don't worry, I'll fix it all up for you," she promised in a determined tone.

He should've taken it for the warning it was, but at the time he was content to just lie there and hug her.

 

Chapter 4

In which Rachel is determined, the boys are stubborn and Sara Bareilles helps put things in motion.

 

Rachel opened the door and immediately tried to usher Dave in the Oscar Room. She waited impatiently as he toed off his shoes and called a hesitant 'Hello' into the house. A mighty clang from the kitchen signaled that he managed to distract her dad from his attempts at making dinner. They winced.

Once they got down to the basement and sat on the pillows facing each other, Rachel decided to cut to the chase right away.

"Okay, I called this emergency meeting, because we've got an important matter to discuss." Well, maybe not right away. A pause for dramatic effect was essential. "You need to apologize to Kurt."

Dave's face, which expressed some sort of exasperated amusement a second earlier, shut down instantly. "No."

☆Great. It figured that she had to deal with not one, but two stubborn boys.☆ "Why not?"

"I don't have to apologize to anyone."

She sighed. "But you are sorry, right?"

The jock just pressed his lips shut and glared at her.

"It's necessary so we can all move past this. Kurt's not going to come back until he's forgiven you, and he's not going to forgive you if you don't even apologize. I know it's not fun, but... You don't have to fall down on your knees, just let him know that you're sorry."

Karofsky went through quite a range of emotion, as seen on his face, but he still didn't say anything. They continued their staring match for a few minutes. Nobody seemed to be winning, but the pillow under his hands was definitely losing in the arm wrestling department. Finally Rachel sighed.

"It's not an ultimatum, Dave. I won't force you to do this, just... think about it."

He grunted something she chose to take as assent and relaxed his grip. Hopefully he'd come to his senses soon.

Well, since he was already there, she might as well use him. "Okay, I'm going to sing now," she announced and got up on the stage. So far she wasn't completely happy with her performance of that song ☆one of Kurt's suggestions, by the way☆, but maybe Dave would provide some feedback.

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside...

She barely sang the first few lines when Karofsky visibly relaxed and reclined on the pillows. That was all nice and well, but she also required her audience to pay careful attention to her when she performed.

You've got opinions, man
We're all entitled to 'em
But I never asked
So let me thank you for your time
And try not to waste anymore of mine
Get out of here fast

☆Oh well, he could just unwind this one time. She was generous like that.☆

Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died and made you king of anything?

She spared a second before the second verse to wonder if Kurt hadn't meant this song in a different way than she intended, after all. But then she concentrated on singing. By the time she finished the second refrain, she was fully immersed in her performance.

All my life I've tried
To make everybody happy while I
Just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it's my turn to decide

The last repetitions of the chorus sounded the best, definitely.

...So you dare tell me who to be
Who died and made you king of anything?

She swayed to the finishing 'oh-oh's and opened her eyes. In the meantime Dave had sat up and now he looked contemplative. ☆Good, he'd been paying attention after all.☆

Rachel turned the music down and sat back down beside him. "Well?"

Karofsky took a deep breath, as if steeling himself for something. He faced her and said: "Okay."

She frowned. "Okay?" ☆It may not have been her best performance ever, but...☆ "I dare say that was a little better than okay."

"No, I mean..." The boy rolled his eyes. "Okay, I'll apologize."

Rachel blinked, not getting it immediately. Then she grinned and clapped her hands. "Oh, that's great! Wonderful! I knew you'd come around." Dave shrugged and scratched his neck. "And great timing, too, since Kurt's in town until tomorrow. We can visit him in the morning, before he leaves for Westerville."

☆Of course the timing was impeccable. Rachel called him the moment Kurt set a foot outside her door after the sleepover.☆

"What— no," he said quickly, looking alarmed. "I'm not going to his house. Can't I just send him a note on Facebook or something?"

She gave him her best unimpressed look. "I'm going to pretend that I didn't hear that."

"Seriously, I can't go there," Dave sighed. "His dad will kill me. I'd rather go to homo Hogwarts."

"Alright, I think that can also be arranged. I'll talk to Kurt and we'll figure something out." She grabbed his hand and squeezed it, beaming at him. "That's really great, Dave."

He shrugged again and looked away. Rachel remembered her original question. "Oh, one more thing!" He made a face, probably expecting the worst. "On the scale of one to ten, how great was this performance?"

***

"No," Kurt said, stilling with the vest in his hand. "No, no, and no. Absolutely not."

"Come oooon, Kurt. You said you wanted him to apologize!"

He threw the garment into the suitcase with decidedly less care than it deserved. "No, I didn't! But I remember saying that I don't want to see him."

Rachel huffed and he could almost see her rolling her eyes on the other end of the line. "Don't be like that. He wants to apologize! Doesn't that count for something?"

"Oh please, of course he said that. You're blackmailing him." Kurt opened his underwear drawer to choose some new things for the next weeks. He picked up a piece of black lace and pursed his lips contemplatively. His underwear choices were getting... adventurous, even for him.

"No, I'm— well I am, but not about this. Please, Kurt." She sighed. "Promise me you'll at least think about it."

"Alright, I'll think about it." ♪But not extensively.♪

"Thank you. You won't regret it."

Kurt doubted that, but he didn't want to argue with Rachel, especially right before going to Dalton for some time. He finished packing and hauled his suitcase downstairs. After tearful goodbyes with Carole and manly hugs with his dad and Finn, he was ready to get into his car.

He sent a quick text to Blaine, turned on the CD player and pulled out of the driveway.

Tell me off in a letter
Completely ignore me
Getting high off of saying
Why you don't adore me?

Baby, please, I'm well versed
In how I might be cursed
I don't need it articulated

It seemed like it was one of those days when life just wanted to be summed up in song.

Stand in line wasting
All of your time just to hate me
Every dime gone to ways
You can find that might bait me

And drag me down, sight set proudly
Bring me to the ground, see
You love to be somebody's enemy

Honestly, appropriate song was appropriate.

Maybe nobody loved you when you were young
Maybe, boy, when you cry, nobody ever comes
Will you try it once?
Give up the machine gun
Machine gun

Well, that part probably didn't apply. Except... Karofsky was kind of trying to do just that, wasn't he?

Locked and loaded
You're practically floating away now
In your fortress you feel like
You're more or less safe now

But let me say, I don't mean harm
Oh, but, baby, you'd be charming
If you'd come undone
Get back where you started from

If Rachel could be trusted ♪and she maybe, probably could be♪, Karofsky was ready to admit that he was a fool and Kurt was a wonderful person who hadn't done anything wrong, but was unfairly chased away from the place where he belonged. Or something to that effect.

Never mind how you've rationed your time
And the battle is underway
Maybe times are gonna change
Don't just hide in the silence behind
What you've really been trying to say

What a skill, baby, aiming to kill me
With words you don't mean

Well, maybe times really were changing. And if the Neanderthal wanted to apologize, should Kurt deny himself the opportunity to watch him squirm?

Will you try it once?
Give up the machine gun...

He pulled over before he could second-guess himself into a destructive loop of indecisiveness. He grabbed his phone and chose one of the numbers from his speed dial. She answered after the third ring, as usual.

"Hello?"

Kurt took a deep breath and said simply: "Okay."

***

Berry's inability to keep her mouth shut for more than five minutes came in handy for once. Between her neverending babbling and trying not to get lost on the way to Westerville, Dave didn't even have a chance to think about what was coming. If he did, he'd have probably turned back at the first opportunity.

His slave driver had a map open on her knees, but she was using it to point out places she'd visited rather than for anything useful. By the time they got to the Dalton Academy, Dave was just happy they ended up in the right town and not at the perfectly lovely spot where the Berrys (Berries?) went fishing a few years earlier and Rachel got a nasty sunburn in uncomfortable places. (Berry made an art out of too much information.)

Once they reached the parking lot she paused the tale about her fathers' first date to announce: "We're here!"

"Yeah," said Dave.

Berry began typing on her phone. "I'll just let Kurt know we've arrived and we can go." She shot him a look. "Unless you need a little time first?"

It was probably better if he didn't think about that any more, but once she suggested it... "Yeah, I could... yeah."

"Alright, I'll give you a few minutes to yourself. Call me when you're ready and I'll tell you where to go." (It wasn't exactly a perfect plan, but it'd have to do.) "And don't even think about changing your mind. You can do this, Dave."

She patted his arm and got out of the car. Dave took a deep breath and turned up the radio, now that he could finally listen to something other than her voice.

He looked up at the building she was heading for. Homo Hogwarts looked pretty much like it did on its website, but seemed even more aloof and cold. He'd thought it was perfect, just fancy enough for Fancy, but now he wasn't so sure. Plus, Berry was always going on about how Hummel belonged in McKinley's, so...

Well, Berry was always going on about something, and half the time it was about sparkly stars or some other crap, but sometimes she was right. Hopefully it was one of those times and Dave would really feel better once he apologized.

He wasn't too happy about that, but he had to admit he'd screwed up. Things had definitely got out of control and he'd even made Hummel leave the school, which was a crappy thing to do. It was probably guilt that made him constantly think about Fancy, not any other feelings or whatever. He'd apologize, his conscience would be... well, at least clearer, and he'd go on his way, free of thoughts about Hummel. Awesome plan.

Besides, it was like in that song that Berry sang at him. Dave was the boss of himself. If he wanted to go and apologize, nobody was going to tell him he couldn't. If he wanted to fall down on his knees in front of Fancy, he could damn well do that, too. (Not that he planned to do that. Or even thought about that. It was just an example.) The point was, he was Dave fucking Karofsky and he could do what he wanted.

(Somehow that led him to homo Hogwarts. Life was weird.)

He took another deep breath and forced himself to relax. Just a minute of not-thinking and he'd go.

When I had you to myself
I didn't want you around
Those pretty faces always made you
Stand out in a crowd

He'd just go in, say what needed to be said, get out and carry on with his life. Easy.

But someone picked you from the bunch
One glance was all it took
Now it's much too late for me
To take a second look

Oh baby, give me one more chance...

The music started to filter through his thoughts (or not-thoughts, because he was not-thinking), and really? Seriously?

Oh darling, I was blind to let you go
But now since I've seen you in his arms
I want you back

Dave shot a disgusted look at the radio and turned it off. (That was not what he wanted to listen to while he was not-thinking, thanks for nothing.)

He sighed for the last time and got out of the car. He'd better get it done quickly, like ripping off a band-aid.

(Just go in, apologize and get out. Easy.)

 

Chapter 5

In which the boys talk, Rachel plans and her dad tries to help.

 

There were two things Kurt was pretty sure of right then. One: he was going to regret that very soon. Two: Rachel got her sweater from a grandmother who'd knitted it twenty years earlier while wearing a blindfold.

He averted his eyes before looking at her became physically painful. Blaine provided a steady stream of eye candy, as usual. Although Kurt wasn't kidding when he said he was bored of the blazers. A few short days earlier he caught himself daydreaming about dressing Wes up in a nice top with a matching hat, and that was just awkward.

"Is it too late to call it off?" he asked.

Blaine tsked at him worriedly, but Rachel just rolled her eyes. "Really, Kurt, it's going to be just fine. Nothing's going to happen."

"Do you want us to stay in the room?"

He shook his head at Blaine. "No, just stay close enough to hear my cries for help. And if he manages to kill me after all, I expect you both to sing something beautiful at my funeral."

Rachel nodded, contemplative. "Absolutely. I was thinking 'Je Ne Regrette Rien'."

Kurt was so distracted by the fact that it was a pretty good choice, he didn't even worry that Rachel was planning his funeral, too. Her cellphone rang before she could go into more detail.

"Yes. You need to take a left at the announcement board, go to end of the hall and turn right. We're in the common room. See you in a minute!"

The next couple of minutes seemed at once very long and much too short. Finally Karofsky, who apparently had been waiting in the car, walked into the common room. He looked mostly uncomfortable and not really all that scary.

"We'll leave you alone now!" said Rachel, tugging a worried looking Blaine outside. Kurt looked at the barely open door and expected to feel trapped, but it never came.

It was probably the fact that Dalton, despite all its coldness and uniformness, was still Kurt's place, not Karofsky's. The jock looked very much out of his element in his jeans and checkered shirt. The huge common room dwarfed even his considerably big body.

♪It wasn't really that Kurt himself felt really at home there, but he was much better at faking it.♪

He sat down in an armchair and gestured to the opposite one. If they were going to talk, they might as well do it like civilized people.

Karofsky shuffled forward and plopped down in the chair. And stared.

Kurt tried to be patient, but after a few minutes of silence he cleared his throat. "So?"

"So?" Karofsky repeated dumbly, looking awkwardly to the side.

"I was led to believe that you came here to apologize to me. That usually requires words."

The other boy scoffed quietly. "Yeah, uh. I'm sorry."

Kurt raised an eyebrow and waited for the rest of his speech. And waited.

Finally he realized that nothing more was coming. He took a deep breath. "You're sorry? That's it?"

The Neanderthal answered with a shrug. Kurt saw red.

"Let me get this straight," he started with deceptive calm. "You spend months making my school life hell. You stalk me, you push me into walls, you slushie me. Then, when I get the courage to confront you about that, you kiss me." Karofsky opened his mouth, but Kurt wouldn't let him interrupt. "Instead of telling everyone I know and making your life miserable for a change, I keep quiet. Do you appreciate that and leave me alone? No. You threaten to kill me."

Karofsky was growing progressively more agitated. "It was just—" he interjected, but Kurt wasn't having any of that.

"I transfer to another school," he continued, and his voice got both louder and more shrill. "I enjoy a bully-free school experience for the first time in my life, which costs my parents their honeymoon. In the meantime, according to Rachel, you decide to acknowledge that you were a despicable human being and make amends. You come here, to my new school, and all you tell me is 'I'm sorry'. Is that right? Am I missing something?"

Karofsky's fist clenched and Kurt briefly wondered if his screams would be heard in the principal's office on the other side of the building. ♪He was rather confident in his voice, so that was probably a yes.♪ But the jock only leaned forward in his armchair.

"What do you want me to say?" he asked, sounding angry but not murderous. "I'm freaking sorry, okay?"

Kurt took a deep breath. "You can start by telling me why you're sorry."

Karofsky ground his teeth, but then sighed and forcibly relaxed into his chair. "You know what? You're right," he said, his voice quiet and tight. "I was a dick. I made your life hell. It all got out of control and I was a fucking creeper. All because I wanted you to leave me the fuck alone."

Kurt opened his mouth to protest, because he'd certainly never gone out of his way to be in the vicinity of his bully, but Karofsky shook his head and continued. "And you did. You left. Finally, I was free. But you know what? It didn't get better. I turned into this, what did you say? Despicable human being? So yeah, I got totally awful, I made people hate me, and it didn't even help with... anything. That's why. I'm freaking. Sorry."


Now that warranted a few moments of thought. He'd thought Karofsky was, at best, sorry that he got caught, but apparently his reasons ran deeper. "So what you're saying is that the school is better when I'm there?" he clarified.

The jock rolled his eyes and waved his hand in the air, deflating almost audibly. "Yeah, sure. You're the best thing about that place. The rest of us just run around like headless chickens when you're not there to show us the way."

Well, the sarcasm was unnecessary, but apart from that, Karofsky had a point. Kurt hummed contemplatively. "I've been waiting for someone to realize that. I didn't count on it being you, but I guess I'll take what I can get."

There was a long minute of increasingly awkward silence. Finally the bigger boy cleared his throat. "So... we're good?"

Kurt scoffed. "I wouldn't say we're good. But I tentatively accept your apology. I'll tell Rachel not to do... whatever she threatened to do so you'd apologize."

Karofsky sighed. "She didn't, you know. I mean, I kind of wanted to apologize anyway. It was supposed to feel good or something."

"Does it?" Kurt quirked an eyebrow.

"Maybe it takes a while to kick in?"

He hadn't expected Karofsky to make him chuckle of all things. "Yes, maybe. I'm waiting for that, too."

The jock stood up, giving a tiny smile. "So, uh. You'll come back?"

Kurt followed him up. "That depends," he said slowly.

"I'll leave you alone, promise. Even if I wanted to get back to that shit, Berry would kill me, so. I'll behave."

"That's good to know."

Karofsky just stood there and fidgeted for a minute, but then he held out a hand. Kurt grabbed it in a handshake after a moment of hesitation.

He watched in a slight daze as the other boy walked out and Rachel and Blaine came into the room.

"Are you okay?" Blaine asked. Rachel just gathered him into a hug.

"See, I knew it would go well!"

"It was... acceptable." Kurt had got to screech a little, then he'd got a rather satisfying answer out of Karofsky... It went better than he'd expected, honestly.

He even thought he might be starting to feel good. ♪That could've just been the hug, though.♪

***

"That went well," Rachel said, sliding into the car.

Dave, slumped in the driver's seat with his eyes closed, huffed a breath. "Yeah?"

"Absolutely. Kurt was quite happy with your apology." It might've been a slight exaggeration, but Kurt hadn't screamed for help and seemed contemplative rather than irritated after their talk, so it wasn't exactly a lie. "I'll take care of the rest. He will come back to us."

Rachel said that with all confidence, because she wasn't about to give him a choice now that she'd sacrificed a good few months to make it possible.

"So," she continued, "do you feel better now that you've apologized?"

Dave smiled wryly, as if despite himself. "Let me get back to you."

Well, it would have to do. Rachel was willing to give him some time to process it, as he was a boy and as such naturally indisposed to dealing with feelings of any kind.

☆Not too much time, though.☆ "But you're okay to drive? I can give you fifteen more minutes. Unless you really don't think you should drive in your state, then I guess we can go for a coffee, but I'd have to let my dad know that we'll be home late."

"I can drive." Karofsky shot her an irritated look. "Jeez, Berry, I thought you'd, like, sit and be happy for five minutes. I did what you wanted."

"Of course I'm happy. I'm proud of you, Dave." She patted his arm. "And you should be, too. I just don't really want to stay in this place any longer, which I'm sure you understand."

"Yeah, I guess you have a point."

A few minutes later, once they'd left Westerville behind and she was humming the song playing on the radio, Rachel remembered the next stage of her plan. "So, now you can finally join New Directions."

Thankfully the road was empty, so when Dave veered the car sharply to the left, they didn't crash into anything. "What the fuck," he barked once they were back on their lane.

"Well, I couldn't let you join before you cleared the air with Kurt, but now that we took care of that, I'm sure you'll be a valuable addition to the club."

"Okay, first of all, I'm not joining the freaking glee club."

Rachel frowned. "Yes, you are. I know you can sing, Dave."

"What— okay, you know what, don't even tell me. Just, no."

"I don't understand you," she huffed, crossing her arms. "You had fun when we were doing the halftime show. You have a beautiful voice. Don't you want to be a part of something special?"

"Special is right," Karofsky muttered and then sighed. "Look, Berry, even if I wanted to join your club, Hummel's not going to want me there. We're not suddenly friends now. He won't come back if I join, and that would pretty much defeat the purpose of this whole thing, yeah?"

Rachel opened her mouth to tell him that wasn't true, surely Kurt would want another good singer in New Directions, but she closed it rather quickly. On second thought, she had to admit it was possible that Dave had a point. It was Kurt they were talking about, after all.

"Alright," she decided, "you won't join now. We'll have to postpone that part."

Karofsky was not exactly subtle about rolling his eyes. Rachel narrowed her own.

"In the meantime," she said sweetly, "you can start working on your audition song."

***

Dave really didn't know how his life choices had led him to Mr. Berry's kitchen.

Or, well, he knew his last choice had been to help him make sandwiches, which had looked like a better option than getting to know his song. Hopefully Berry would focus on herself and forget about her plan to make him sing. (Not very likely, since if Berry was one thing besides diva, it was stubborn.)

It was getting more likely with every minute her father spent looking for a butter knife, though.

"Uh," Dave said, once it became pretty sure he wouldn't find it. "Maybe we can use a regular knife?"

Mr. Berry took his head out of the cupboard and nodded at him. "I think you're right. I was sure we had it somewhere, but..." He shrugged and took out a different blade, which was about three times too big for a regular knife. Worryingly, he pointed it in Dave's direction. "You think she made herself busy by now?"

Suddenly Rachel's idea sounded pretty amazing, next to her dad's apparent plan to kill him with a butter knife. (Dave guessed the change in weapon was an improvement, but somehow it didn't make him feel better.)

"I'll go check," he said quickly, taking a step in the direction of their Oscar room. (He thought he could faintly hear her singing, but it was better to make sure.)

"No, no, wait. I want to talk to you for a minute." He put down the knife. Also, as far as Dave knew, 'talk' wasn't Berry-speak for 'stab', so maybe he wouldn't be murdered in the next few minutes. "I know I'm not supposed to know, and I swear I didn't even tell my husband..."

(Oh, right, it was Mr. Berry who knew. Dave had managed to repress the part where he found out about... that.)

"But, the thing is, I think you should talk to him. He had some... similar experiences, I guess."

"Um," Dave said, because it was better than 'I don't think so'.

"I think it would be good for you. But I'm just saying that, you know. No pressure. Though right now he's convinced that you're Rachel's boyfriend, so he may want to talk to you anyway. I thought you'd want to avoid that talk."

Dave was pretty sure he'd be okay if only the talk wouldn't involve knives. "Thank you," he said slowly. (It was probably wise to be polite to the person closest to the weapon.)

Also, it looked like the man was really trying to help. That was... nice. And it was kind of good to know that he could talk to someone. (Not that he wanted to talk about that or anything, but. Still good to know.)

Mr. Berry waved his hand and smiled awkwardly. "Okay, about the sandwiches. Where do we start?"

Dave started by making sure he was in charge of slicing things. (Just in case.)

 

Chapter 6

In which there are rumors, admissions, preparations and singing, but mostly there's quite a bit of happiness.

 

Dave was trying to decide if the state of his locker was bad enough that he needed to clean it already, when Z came along. "You finally going to tell me or what?" he asked.

"About what?"

Azimio rolled his eyes. "Come on, man. I'm not dumb. You seriously think I don't know what's going on?"

Dave swallowed his panic and tried to lean nonchalantly on the row of lockers. "Maybe you should tell me, dude, 'cause I don't know."

"Okay, I'll give you a clue. You and that Berry chick. Ringing any bells?"

The conversation was getting less terrifying, but more confusing by the minute. "What about me and Berry?"

"Seriously? All the guys know you're doing her. Last month you had glitter in your hair for like a week. And the thing about stopping with the slushies? Not very subtle."

Dave was still stuck on doing her, but thankfully he wasn't supposed to talk yet, because Z wasn't finished. "What I don't get is, why didn't you tell me? It hurts, D. I thought we told each other things. And, you know, shared details."

He almost choked on the idea of sharing details with Azimio. 'Last evening was fabulous. We made pancakes, Rachel practiced a new song, and later I went home and dreamed about singing a duet with Hummel.' (Yeah, no.) "I'm not doing her," he said, playing for time.

His friend blinked and made a face. "Ow, still working on that?"

There were a lot of things he could've said to that, but in the end he decided on a noncommittal shrug. "So. You don't mind?"

"Nah. I mean, at first I was like, why the queen of the loser gay extravaganza? But I guess she's pretty hot, if you like them small and loud. Whatever works for you, dude." Azimio frowned. "Wait, you didn't tell me 'cause you thought I wouldn't approve? That's crazy. You know I've got your back, bro."

Dave didn't know whether to laugh or cry, except the second one wasn't really an option. "Yeah, sorry."

For once, finding Berry turned out to be easy. Disappearing together into an empty classroom wouldn't help with the rumors, but they were probably past the point of no return anyway.

"People think we're... dating," he said.

Rachel didn't seem outraged, like he'd expected. More like curious. "Which people?"

"The football team. So, probably half of the school by now."

Berry got a look on her face that usually meant bad things were coming. "Finn thinks so, too?"

That wasn't a sure thing, because Hudson was usually a few weeks behind everyone else, but if all the guys thought they knew... Dave shrugged. "I guess."

"Is he jealous?"

He really couldn't care less about Hudson, the freaking moron. He could've had Hummel, who'd spent the previous year trailing after him like a lost puppy. He'd actually had Berry, one way or another, and he'd let her go to run around with the girl who screwed over every guy she touched. Like the idiot he was.

(He'd listened to "King of Wishful Thinking" enough times to know he shouldn't just tell that to Rachel, though.) "Maybe?" he tried.

"Good." She nodded, seemingly satisfied. "Let him think what he wants."

"So... you want the whole school to think that we're together?" (It wouldn't hurt to clarify.)

"They're going to think so no matter what we say. Why, you want to deny it? Is it ruining your reputation, because I'm not as pretty as Quinn or Santana?"

The tone she used should've made him think very carefully about his next words. Instead he snorted. "No. I mean, apparently the gleek thing isn't that bad anymore. And you're totally pretty, so. It's cool."

"You think I'm pretty?"

And maybe Dave wasn't exactly good with girls, but he knew what he was supposed to say to that. "Sure. You'd be an awesome girlfriend." It wasn't even a lie. Berry was hot in her own way, knew how to sing, and as for the personality... it was time to admit that 'manipulative bitch' was pretty much his type. "If I wanted a girlfriend," he added, just in case.

Berry hummed a little. "But you don't want one?"

"Uh, no," he said slowly. "I thought that's what this whole thing was about."

"Oh, I was just making sure." She beamed. "You never actually said that, you know."

Dave groaned and looked away. "Whatever, I'm not saying anything," he grumbled.

Rachel just patted him on the arm. "It's okay. One step at a time. And for the record, it's about much more than that by now, Dave."

He kicked her out of the classroom before it got even more embarrassing. Then he waited for a few minutes before following. (They might as well make the whole secret meeting thing look good.)

Harper gave him a thumbs-up when they passed each other halfway down the hall. Dave rolled his eyes. Seriously, what was his life.

Well. One word to describe it was 'crazy'. More importantly, another one was 'pretty good'.

(Actually, that was more than one word, but. Whatever.)

***

Kurt scrambled for his cellphone as soon as he felt it vibrate against his thigh. Blaine, who was valiantly trying to concentrate on his homework, shot him an unimpressed look.

"But it's news!" Kurt protested, scrolling through the text from Mercedes. "New Directions are trying to write songs... Sam did something to his hair... I think the amount of exclamation marks indicates that it's either very good or extremely awful. Mr. Rush changed his sweater... aaaand the whole school thinks that Rachel and Karofsky are dating."

Blaine raised an impressive eyebrow. "Huh."

"Well, she didn't exactly use the word 'dating'. Oh, another one, this time from Tina!" Kurt touched a hand to his heart. "Aww, she asks if she should suck the blood out of Rachel for being a bad friend. That's so sweet!"

His friend shook his head with a fond smile. "You wish you were there, don't you?"

"I kind of really do," Kurt admitted, turning to him with a pout. "All this drama is happening without me!"

"Actually, I think you're at the very center of this particular drama. But I know, I know that's not enough." Blaine patted his knee and put down his notebook. "That's why I've started preparing for the inevitable."

Kurt wasn't even that surprised to see half of the Warblers suddenly appear in the common room. ♪Of course Blaine prepared a song.♪

"Since we've got only a few short months left, I thought we'd start showing you what you'll be missing when you go back to Lima," he explained.

"But I haven't even decided..."

"Kurt," Blaine interrupted. "You know I say this with all the love, but please be quiet now."

It was very hard to pretend to be offended once they started singing.

You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy, you've got a friend in me

More of the guys came out of nowhere after the second verse. Kurt was starting to suspect they'd been hiding under the couches, waiting for the cue from Blaine.

And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You're gonna see it's our destiny
You've got a friend in me

Even though Dalton failed to be his dream school, and the Warblers were not exactly his kind of a show choir, he really was going to miss them.

♪Not the uniforms, though. He'd had enough of those to last a lifetime.♪

 

Epilogue

In which we experience a time skip and old things are new again.

 

Dave couldn't remember a more stressful beginning of a school year. He didn't know what was worse: the knowledge that Hummel was probably already there in the school building, or the possibility that he wasn't.

That wasn't likely, at least according to Rachel, who'd spend the previous couple of weeks whining that Kurt wouldn't tell her which song he planned to sing on his first day back. But Dave couldn't help but think that maybe he'd changed his mind at the last minute and went skipping back to homo Hogwarts. Which would suck after all they'd done to get him back.

Well, there was one way to make sure. Dave got out of his car before he got the urge to just skip for the day and get the news from someone else. He barely made it past the doorstep when the answer became obvious.

Sure enough, there was Hummel, standing by his old locker and fixing something colorful to its door. He looked fancy, satisfied and right. And maybe Dave had listened to Berry's 'he belongs with us' lecture one time too many, but it really seemed like that was the real Kurt Hummel. Not the one in a lame uniform, but the one in... whatever the hell that thing was called. It was probably some word which couldn't be pronounced by mere mortals.

Dave caught himself smiling at that thought and suddenly realized (with a deep sense of 'well, shit') that seeing Kurt Hummel was probably his favorite thing about the school. Certainly about the first day. Possibly about much more than that.

He rubbed his face, sighed and started walking. There was something he needed to do.

***

His locker was back to looking fabulous, decorated with the photo of him and Blaine, glittery art supplied by Rachel and a Westerville postcard signed by the Warblers. Andrew was still working on a device that would play the Warblers' greatest hits when he opened the door, but that would probably go into Kurt's bathroom cupboard at home.

He'd just finished brushing glitter off his sleeves when he heard someone clear their throat in his vicinity. He turned, saw Karofsky and froze.

There was a long moment of awkward silence and then a hesitant: "Hi."

"Hello," Kurt said cautiously.

Karofsky shifted from leg to leg. "I just wanted to, you know. Say hi. And welcome back. It's, uh, good that you're back."

"...thank you."

The other boy stood there for a few moments before muttering something about classes and walking away. Kurt blinked after him, bemused.

Certainly peculiar, but not that bad for a first encounter of the day. Kurt had feared that his first 'welcome back' would be accompanied by a slushie facial, so that had been a rather pleasant surprise. Add that to the fact that he was finally able to wear his favorite hat to school, and this was shaping up to be a surprisingly good day.

Kurt shut his locker and took off down the hall, humming happily under his breath.

♪He had high expectations for the year, and a feeling that they might be met.♪

***

Dave seemed a little absent when Rachel intercepted him by the bathroom, but she didn't have time to get to the bottom of that just then. She was on a mission and, as he'd find out in just a minute, so was her minion-slash-friend.

"Come with me," she said, taking hold of his arm.

He frowned. "What are you doing?"

"Following Kurt. And so are you."

Not only had Kurt refused to tell her what he was going to sing, he hadn't even said when that would happen. ☆Well, he'd said that she'd have to wait for the club meeting, but that was clearly a lie.☆ Which was completely inconsiderate of him, since it was obvious that Rachel, as the captain of New Directions, had a right to watch the performances of all its members.

Dave slowed down. "What the hell?"

"Don't you want to hear him sing? Because I, for one, refuse to miss it."

"Isn't that what your practice is for?"

"Dave," she said, unimpressed. "Our practice is tomorrow. He's not going to wait that long. Now, come."

Karofsky, apparently set on being difficult, stopped dead. "Okay, wait, I'm can't stalk him with you. You want him to freak out?"

☆Honestly, she didn't have time for that. Not when Kurt could've been starting to sing just around the corner.☆ "Look, you already talked to him today, and he didn't freak out, did he? And besides, if we do this right, he won't even see us."

He still didn't look convinced of the wisdom of her plan, but he at least went back to moving his feet. Rachel counted it as her first accomplishment of the new school year and starting walking briskly, satisfied for the moment.

Of course, there was much to be done before she could lead New Directions to the glorious victory at Nationals and, a little later, become a world-class star. However, all of that could ☆and would☆ wait.

For now, they had a performance to catch.