Chapter 1: Wishing I Could Disappear
"Thanks! It's a plan!"
Finn lopes away, genuinely convinced a mother-son dance will make him look like a stud! He's so clueless about this wedding, it's almost endearing (when it isn't totally annoying). But you'll write a great toast for him to give Carole and Dad, and maybe with some intensive dance lessons he won't crush his poor mother's feet (that will be Dad's job). You smile again at the bride and groom cake topper, the one Mom gave you all those years ago to beautify the nuptials for your Power Rangers. After a moment's thought, you decide to take it with you, for inspiration.
You close your locker and out of nowhere Karofsky is there, standing way too close. Nothing separates your bodies but a few inches of thick, heavy air and your books, which you are now clutching for dear life. It suddenly occurs to you that the phrase "for dear life" isn't just an idiom. He wants what? To pile on more intimidation? Christ, why can't he just leave you alone!
Now he's inching forward, creeping, really, like the creeper that he is, and you, you're backing up. In fact, you started backing up the instant you saw him, but you didn't realize it for a few seconds. Fortunately, your body was way ahead of you, instinctively moving to protect itself. You've got to keep him from closing the very tiny gap between you. Above all, you want to stay away from those unwelcome lips, which are already much too near and compressed in a hard, cruel line.
No, stop looking at his mouth! He'll think you want another kiss. He'll think you wanted the last one, maybe even enjoyed it. That's probably what he's been telling himself – that he's not really gay, that McKinley's resident homo came on to him, that it was he and not you who spent the next 20 minutes after that lip-rape shaking and sickened, finally throwing up and then driving home through a haze of tears to hide in your room.
So you focus on his eyes, and – Oh god, looking into his eyes is even worse! They're cold and implacable and... predatory.
Well... well, this prey is fierce and fabulous and fighting back.
"I don't want you near me."
Okay, so you won't win any awards for best bad-ass delivery, but at least you got something out and it sounded sort of forceful. You've never wished more for a deeper voice than right at this minute, because a lower, more masculine tone might have hidden that tremor better. And where the hell is your bitch face, Kurt? You can see your reflection in his eyes, and you're definitely not wearing it.
Karofsky crinkles his brow slightly as if to say It sucks to be you, then, and continues his slow advance. Looking at you like... like he fucking owns you.
And you go cold, because suddenly you realize this isn't regular bullying. This isn't about the death threat, even. What's going on right now, this particular intimidation is... is... sexual. He's getting off on it!
So right at this moment the feeling engulfs you, drowns you – fear black as pitch, abject terror. Before this moment, you've never been especially afraid of Karofsky, not really. Certainly not down to your very core. Even in the locker room, you were more shocked than scared. And the death threat – that was Karofsky running scared. But the jock facing you now, he's not the Karofsky of two weeks ago. This one is a stranger, maybe even to himself, and you have no idea what he's capable of.
You're still moving backward and the guy in the Karofsky suit is still moving foward. There's no uncertainty, no doubt whatsoever on his face. He's absolutely sure he can do anything he wants – beat you, molest you, break every part of you, even choke the life out of you, right there in the hallway, in front of your own locker, in front of the entire school – and no one will stop him.
And no one will stop him. No one ever stops him.
That's why you can't manage the bitch face, isn't it? Because what Karofsky believes to be true, you know to be true. The evidence is irrefutable. There was no audience for the kiss, but everything else? Insults, dumpster dives, slushies and shoves and covering bruises with makeup - months of performances played daily to packed houses, students and teachers with front row seats. Even Mr. Schue was an epic failure when he caught Karofsky throwing you around a few weeks ago. Asking "Is there anything I can do?" in his super sincere voice and then... handing you a glass of generic filtered water! Was Schuester fucking kidding, or is he just that bad at his job?
When Karofsky jabs a finger into your chest, the rest of the world is just gone. Nothing exists now except you and Karofsky and the 10 precious inches between you. And the books you're gripping so firmly your arms begin to ache. And Mom's wedding cake topper. You want to hold it tighter, keep it safe, but it's fragile and you can feel the bride's plastic arms bending inward as your shoulder blades touch the wall and your hand tenses. Karofsky grins like a psychopath when he sees you realize that there's no more room to back up, that you're trapped. You'd give anything not to feel dirty and violated as he leans in and trails his finger slowly down your chest.
He snatches the cake topper and you flinch. "Can I have this?" He waggles it in front of you, and you want to feel, need to feel rage, indignation, rebellion. But all that floods in is despair.
No! A thousand times, no! Say it, Kurt, say:
"No, you can't have my cake topper, you pathetic, sadistic, closeted cave dweller. And you sure as hell can't have me!"
"No, you can't take things from me anymore – not my kiss, not my pride, not my confidence. You can't break me with threats or make me live in fear. You can't silence my voice."
Tell him, go on, tell him:
"I don't have time for this bullshit. Glee is getting ready for Sectionals. I'm trying to start a relationship with the boy of my dreams. I'm planning a wedding, for fuck's sake! For my father, who's fifty times the man you'll never be."
And warn him:
"No one pushes a Hummel around. So just give back my figurine and get the hell away from me before I start shouting at the top of my lungs that big, tough hockey jock Dave Karofsky is a queer, a faggot, a homo, a fairy, and every other disgusting slur you've ever thrown at me. Leave me alone or I will tell positively everyone that you kissed me, and how much you liked it, how turned on you got. It won't matter if you say I'm lying. The rumor will be enough, and you're straight facade will fall apart faster than those cheap Walmart poly-cotton blends your wearing."
And you open your mouth to say all that. Or even just some of that. But nothing comes out. Karofsky's eyes gleam with triumph and the reflection of the cringing, cowering, devastated little boy he's just humiliated. A boy with no voice.
"Thanks." He says it very softly, very smugly, and behind that word you hear what he's really saying: I can do anything to you, Hummel. Anything at all.
Oh god, you can't take much more of this, you can't move, can't breath –
"Are you okay?" Mr. Schuester's voice, bringing the world back. You realize Karofsky is gone.
"N-n...n-no, no." Finally, you manage (barely) to gasp out the word! But this is a 'No' of defeat, not defiance. No, you are not the Kurt Hummel of two minutes ago, and no, you are definitely not okay.
Chapter 2: Honesty is honestly the hardest thing for me right now
"Did he physically hurt you?"
God! This is the very last thing you need right now! If only you'd managed to ask Mr. Schue to just give you a minute; tell him that it was nothing, really; that you didn't want to go to Principal Sue. If only he had seen the important part, not just the aftermath.
What are you supposed to say to her? Karofsky kissed me, he touched me. God, even thinking of saying that turns your stomach! He... he wants me. Or he wants to kill me, I can't really tell. Maybe both. We haven't fully discussed it.
This whole situation is beyond humiliating. It's degrading and demeaning and … unbelievable. Even you can't believe it. Sexual harassment is something that happens to girls, for Christ's sake! And regardless of how high you sing or the stuff you like to do, you are a guy and this shit is not supposed to happen to guys.
Assuming they did believe you're telling the truth (and you're pretty sure Mr. Schue would, at least), would that make the situation any better than what you have now? In your head, you hear a game show announcer's deep, booming voice say, Kurt Hummel, in exchange for your honesty, you've just won the label Victim! And not just any victim, but a Gay! Sex! Victim! Now you get to do the McKinley Walk of Shame every single day for the next two years! And, as an added bonus, we'll throw in the eternal, unendurable pity of your closest friends! No, no fucking way. 'Victim' is a role you swore you'd never play, not about this, because you're not going to let Karofsky or any of those other bastards tear you down. You're better and stronger than all of them.
So it's decided. You are not telling Mr. Schue and Principal Sue about the sexual harassment, and you're certainly not going to say, "He poked me and looked at me funny and stole my toy," as if you were a whiny six-year old. You let out a frustrated sigh and say the only thing you can:
"N-no." Unfortunately, you're still struggling to regain your composure, so your voice is a little shaky.
Mr. Schue mentions the times Karofsky shoved you into lockers, but even before Principal Sue answers, you know none of that counts for anything. It's never mattered before. And sure enough, she tells you the shoving isn't enough to get Karofsky suspended.
Maybe you're wrong to keep silent about everything. Karofsky is obviously unstable and (and this is so repulsive to admit) obsessed with you. And he's getting worse, getting bolder, not caring who sees or hears. Like you knowing his secret has caused him to snap. Winks in the cafeteria, death threats in the hall, touching you in public like that just now. Where's it all leading? To him raping you and bashing your head in on the school steps during fourth period?
At the very least, they need to understand that Karofsky is genuinely dangerous. "He didn't shove me this time. He just ...terrified me." You didn't mean that to sound so lame and melodramatic, but it's proving really, really hard to shake off what just happened in the hall.
Not surprisingly, Principal Sue says intimidation isn't enough to warrant a suspension, either. "Lady," she starts in her most condescending voice, and proceeds to tell you that high school is rough. You glance over at Mr. Schue, silently thanking him so much for bringing you to the Principal so she can inform you sagaciously that (spoiler alert!) "people can be mean." Neither of them gets how the students somehow think you being openly gay gives them permission to ratchet up that meanness, like, ten dozen times. Even some of the Glee kids (cue Santana "I'm bi, but still get to make fag jokes" Lopez).
You don't bother listening to the rest of the Principal's speech. What's the point? It's clear you're still going to have to deal with the Karofsky situation on your own once this meeting is over.
You rest your hand on your cheek and mentally take a break from the here and now. Maybe you'll stay home from school tomorrow. Give yourself a facial and a pedicure (you haven't done one of those in a while), watch Season 6 of Grey's Anatomy and – Damn! You can't stay home tomorrow, because you offered to give Dad dance lessons for the wedding. Okay, you insisted, but it's for his own good. And the psychological well-being of anyone who has to watch him. And you really should help Finn with that, too, because even though he's been kind of a jerk these past few weeks, he's not a bad guy and he is going to be your step-brother. This so sucks! Between planning your fabulous russet and cognac cérémonie de mariage and meeting a guy who's gay and gorgeous and available, this should be the happiest time of your life. And it would be, if not for that sicko, psycho closet clown.
You realize Principal Sue is pointing her glasses at you. She just said something about how being bullied made her stronger. But this isn't about inner strength, not anymore. When you open your mouth again, you're not actually talking to either of them. You're just venting and they happen to be in the room.
"It's the fear that's the worst. I never know when it's coming, I can't concentrate. I don't feel like I'm part of this school at all. I feel like I'm in a horror movie, where this creature follows me around, terrifying me, and there's nothing I can do about it? I mean you... you don't know what's going on in this kid's head. You don't know what he's capable of."
You immediately regret letting that last part slip out as you see Principal Sue and Mr. Schue exchange questioning glances. You look away, trying to figure out how you can backpedal convincingly.
Mr. Schuester stands and turns so he can see your face. He leans towards you slightly, looking worried. "What does that mean?"
You've already decided you're not outing Karofsky. Despite fantasizing about threatening him with that, outing people against their will is like the most despicable thing someone can do. And for another gay person to do it...! No, you are going to preserve your integrity through this. And even though he's making your life hell, you just can't hurt someone that way, not even Karofsky. The guy is clearly so messed up already.
Should you tell them about the death threat? Even Blaine doesn't know about that (you don't want him to see you as a victim, either). But those are just more words. Worse, it would be he-said/he-said, since of course Karofsky will deny everything. God, how you wish he had just hauled off and hit you in that locker room! A nice black eye, or swollen jaw, or split lip – something macho that the school couldn't ignore, something everyone would see and understand without needing to pry further.
No, telling won't do any good. You can handle this by yourself. You will handle this. Somehow, Kurt, you will handle this.
So you try dismissing what you just said. "Nothing. Maybe I'm overreacting."
You know that if it were just Mr. Schue here, he'd let the matter drop. He's never been comfortable talking with you about... anything, really. You don't think that's because of your sexuality. It's just that the two of you lack rapport. And maybe he feels guilty about not giving you more solos.
But Principal Sue is a lot more perceptive, and now it seems she's decided you wouldn't be talking this way if the situation weren't serious, because she sounds sincere and concerned, and maybe even a little apologetic when she says, "Lady, this kid lays a finger on you, you come straight to me and I will expel him faster than a Thai takeout place can read back your delivery order. Okay? But until that happens – and I'm genuinely sorry to say this – there's nothing legally I and the school board can do."
It scares you, this change in her tone, because you've been around Coach – now Principal – Sue Sylvester often enough to recognize her real voice. So you know that, unlike when she was spouting platitudes about how suffering builds character, she absolutely meant what she said just now – she would help you if she could, but she can't, and she's afraid for you. Which makes you feel even more vulnerable. You realize that this meeting that you wanted to be over is coming to an end and you don't want to go back out there. It's the fear that's the worst. For some reason, you look at Mr. Schue, willing him to reassure you that he's got your back, at least in the halls, because he's your teacher and purports to be your friend. But he just tells you it's time to go to Glee practice. You're only disappointed in yourself, for expecting anything more from him.
No, Principal Sue is your only hope as far as the adults at this school go. As you head to the door, you think maybe you should show her that you are worthy of her protection, demonstrate that you are strong and fighting back, that you refuse to become the passive victim you (and she) despise. And there is something else that's been bothering you lately.
You turn back to her and say in a firm (although still frustratingly feminine) voice, "You know, when you call me 'Lady', that's bullying. And it's really hurtful."
She looks genuinely surprised, which doesn't surprise you. Sue Sylvester hurls insults the same way she breathes air - automatically. "I'm sorry, I thought that was your name. As an apology, I'll allow you to choose from the following nicknames: Gelfling, Porcelain, and Tickle Me Dough-Face."
You have no idea what a 'gelfling' is, but it sounds like 'gelding', which is definitely the worst possible nickname you could have. There are already enough people who probably think 'countertenor' means 'castrato' (although you're sure said people wouldn't be able to spell either one correctly to save their lives). Tickle Me Dough-Face would just get shortened to Dough-Face. Bad for self-esteem. So...
"I guess I'll go with Porcelain." Marginally better than Lady, you suppose.
"Damn!" she says. "Totally wanted Tickle Me Dough-Face."
Yeah? Amazing how often people let us down, isn't it?
As with the previous chapter, all dialogue is taken from the episode 'Furt'. Apologies to all the Will Schuester fans out there, but I call 'em like I see 'em. FYI, 'gelflings' are the elf/hobbit-like creatures from the 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal, by Jim Henson and Frank Oz of Muppet fame. But I think it's highly unlikely Kurt would know that. Reviews are still what make my little heart sing. Next up, Burt Hummel. Best. TV. Dad. Ever!
Chapter 3: Trying to be perfect, trying not to let you down
People always complain about how wedding planning is such a hassle, so many little details to attend to, so many demanding individuals to please. But you love every minute of it – the color, the creativity, the clothing, the spectacle. Brow-beating caterers and florists and even ministers to do everything your way. You were born for this! Right now, this afternoon, you are completely happy, fearlessly yourself, and fully focused on the task at hand.
"Thank you both for attending the Kurt Hummel wedding dance seminar."
You beam benevolently at your Eliza Doolittles and sway in place with excitement, relishing the deliciously My Fair Lady/Pygmalion-esque mise-en-scène. Persuading Dad to work on his dance moves was easy – he's become quite the Romeo, bound and determined to be the perfect groom for his Juliet. Finn is highly motivated not to totally embarrass himself during his mother-son dance, so he's also here, wearing his usual good-natured, semi-intelligent, semi-lost expression. You vaguely recall that yesterday before… before … when you discussed the reception, Finn said something about wanting to remind people that he's a leader. But you don't see how he could do that with a dance, so you just put the comment aside and concentrate on helping him learn the routine.
"We dance to the beat, not to the words," you explain authoritatively, repositioning Dad's right hand from your shoulder to your waist, so that he's holding you as a gentleman is supposed to hold his partner. "Ready? One two three four... Okay, good! And back..." In less than a week's time, he'll hold Carole in his arms this way, and together they'll spin around the floor, he in a slenderizing black Baroni tux and she in a flowing Vera Wang gown, off-the-rack but expertly tailored. Ah, love!
One two three four, one two three four...
"Look at me, I'm dancing!"
Well, sort of, Dad. But Carole will have already said 'I do' at that point, so not to worry.
Finn grins nervously as he watches you try to teach Dad a simple box step. Even in the midst of your own drama, it hasn't escaped your notice that Finn doesn't seem quite so over the moon for the happy couple as you are. Maybe he's kind of scared of Dad. Perfectly understandable after that dressing down he got for using the 'F' word a few months back. Or Finn could be emotionally stuck. Granted you were a little kid, but still you got to say goodbye to Mom. There was a funeral and a mourning period and the slow but therapeutic process of getting back to okay. But Finn never had those things, so maybe he thinks he's somehow betraying his father by accepting a new one? And there's always the Freudian scenario, in which Finn's just a spoiled mama's boy who can't bear to share Carole's attention. Sadly clichéd and unoriginal, but then, Finn's not the most creative guy.
Or maybe… well, it's possible he doesn't want to be your brother. You guys aren't exactly close, and even though he knows you're totally over your humiliating crush on him, that uncomfortable history can't be erased. But you, at least, are determined to make the step-brother thing work, so if that's the problem, you really hope Finn will get past it.
In any case, you know Finn's having a hard time coming to terms with this marriage, which is one of the reasons you told everyone to stop trash-talking him for not being part of the Karofsky-Glee throwdown earlier today. The other reason being that he's about to become family, and family should back each other up, at least in public. Besides, like you told the guys, the bullying is your problem, not theirs. Even so, you wish you had conveyed more fully how touched and grateful you were that they tried to help. But it was hard to be gushy, knowing Karofsky's not going to lay off because of anything your friends do.
"Okay, Finn," Dad calls out, now dancing haltingly with his invisible partner. "No chickening out. I did it. You gotta do it, too."
Anyway, you're not going to think about your troubles with … with... you're not going to think about non-wedding stuff now. You strike a pre-waltz pose and motion Finn over with a purposeful toss of your head. He lets out a deep breath, as if psyching himself up for some all-or-nothing football play.
Now in full dance master mode, you twirl your hand in a flourish. "Positions," you tell him, enjoying the thrill of command.
He starts to extend his arms towards you and then stops. "Can we shut the door? I'm not really comfortable with people watching."
And just like that, you are no longer completely happy. Now you have to guess – was that thinly veiled Finn-speak for 'I don't want people to see me dancing with another dude,' or 'I don't want people to see me dancing with you, because last year everyone thought we were boyfriends,' or (less likely but unfortunately still possible) 'Can I do this without touching you, because I worry about catching gay cooties'?
Dad's shuffling around with his imaginary Ginger Rogers, an adorable look of intense concentration on his face. No way are you calling Finn out in front of Dad on any of those possible interpretations. You want Dad to be happy. No one deserves it more. So no open discord with Finn. No jealous boys vying for parental approval. No gay drama. Or bully troubles. And especially no gay bully troubles. As for Finn's lingering homophobia...
And here you falter. Maybe you're being a little hypersensitive, reading too much into Finn's discomfort. Or unconsciously causing it somehow. You have to admit, you've done that to him before without meaning to. And you've been so on-edge lately, sleeping badly, no appetite, unable to concentrate on anything that doesn't involve the wedding, obsessing about the … the... well, anyway, the point is your judgment here's probably off.
So you decide it's best to take Finn's statement at face value. "What are you talking about? You danced in front of a thousand people at Regionals."
That seems to work, because Finn sucks in another breath of courage and takes your hand.
And immediately drops it. You follow his gaze towards the open door, where Karofsky – yes, fucking Dave Karofsky – is standing, making a "faggy" limp-wristed gesture. You should be supremely annoyed, but all you feel is relief, and even a little triumph – he's alone but you're not, so there's nothing he can do to you. Not today, Neanderthal.
But Dad sees the jock, too, and he stops, and the music stops, and as Karofsky saunters off, Dad demands to know: "What the hell was that?"
You stare after the bully, trying to determine which version of Karofsky that was. You decide it was the original model, the ignorant jerk who sticks to the standard menu of geek and gay-bashing and doesn't go à la carte with any weird winking/touching/kissing crap. You've been handling that Karofsky for years.
"It's nothing, Dad," you say dismissively. And it's easy to say it with conviction, because certainly compared with all the other shit that's gone down, that rude hand gesture was a triviality!
But you forgot – you're not talking to Mr. Schue or even Principal Sue. This is the original model Burt Hummel, the man who stormed the school last year when you didn't get a fair shot at a solo. The guy who felt so bad when you threw that solo because of him that he now takes offense on your behalf for even the smallest homophobic slights. So even though you shouldn't be, you're caught off guard when he won't let the insult go. "It's not nothing. That guy was making fun of you. What the hell's his name?"
You're stomach drops. Shit! Shit, shit, shit! You want to run somewhere, anywhere, to get away, because of course the questions won't stop with just a name. What do you tell him? What can you tell him? Fuck!
A sound escapes you. It's unlike any sound you've ever made. Voiceless air rushing along your windpipe, a hollow, lonely, sagging exhale. The sound of your soul being deflated. A helpless sound. It's a sound Dad's never heard before, but one he knows has no business coming from his son.
Your eyes shift to Finn when he says, "Tell him, Kurt."
You feel your blood and your inner bitch rising. Uh, stay out of it, Finn. Seems to me you're good at doing that.
But Dad pounces on Finn's comment like Heidi Klum on the spring Prada collection. "Tell me what?"
And incredibly, before you can even react, Finn's piling on more: "Tell him or I will."
Un-fucking-believable! Step-brother or no, you just want to bitch-slap Finn Hudson into next week and scream:
Really, Finn? This is how you want to be 'a leader' - by dumping my situation on Dad? Well, guess what? You've officially maxed out your empathy credit card. You just spent your last good-will coupon. I've … I've tried to be understanding, but the guy – the leader – who got his Gaga on and stopped Karofsky and Azimio from beating me up last spring – that guy hasn't been seen for months. God, Finn! All the other boys were there for me today, all of them! Even Artie, who's basically defenseless. And you... what? Couldn't be bothered?
But now's not the time to deal with Finn, because Dad is giving you the "Well, Mister?" stare. Maybe if you channel your anger and just stick to generalities, you can bluff your way through? You shift your focus to look Dad dead in the eye. "His name's Dave Karofsky. He's … been harassing me for a few weeks now." Despite that little pause, your voice is remarkably steady. Must be the rage giving it ballast.
"Harassing you how?" Dad asks in that 'I am on the verge of getting very, very pissed off, but I am going to be a reasonable person, I'm going to stay calm and hear you out before I go ballistic' tone. And as his anger rises, your cloak of bravado slips away, replaced by that horrible lead apron of fear and vulnerability, the dull, heavy gray one that clashes so badly with your normal personality. You've been wearing it more and more lately. You hate that fucking apron.
"Just … shoving me and giving me a hard time." No big deal, Dad, really. Not even worth mentioning. I've got it all under control.
But your face and your eyes betray you. "There's more, there's something else you're not telling me."
Please, Dad, please don't press. It's gay stuff, shameful, revolting gay sexual harassment stuff. On top of the regular bullying your son is too scrawny and uncool to prevent. Even if you want to know, I don't want you to know. I want you to lounge on the beach with Carole, not a care in the world, wearing those hideous his and hers matching tropical shirts, leisurely drinking Mai Tai cocktails and watching the spectacular sunset off Waikiki. I'm strong, I'm a man, I'll take care of it.
But it's no use. Dad's read your poker 'tell' and there's no way he's going to let this drop. You have to give him more. But not the kiss or the wink or yesterday's rape prelude. That crap is just too messed up to lay at Dad's feet. You can't quite meet his eyes as you offer up the half-truth: "He threatened to kill me." You say it quickly, too quickly, and the only reason to be thankful Dad's so wound up right now is that if he weren't, he'd notice and realize you're still holding something back.
Finn, Mr. Helpful, looks stunned. "What? You gotta be kidding me." But you don't have time to explain the cruel ways of the world to a guy who apparently has been attending high school in an alternate universe these past two years, because Dad is already out the door and you and Finn are running to catch him.
As you pound down the hallway, up flashes a memory of Dad laying immobile and unresponsive in that hospital bed, hooked to machines and looking as though he were already halfway gone from this world. You know the exertion, the adrenaline, the anxiety induced by your lovely little revelation are now all conspiring to overtax his heart again. Shit! This is exactly why you never told him about the bullying in the first place. And then there's Karofsky. You're not a violent person, but you swear on your favorite Hermès foulard that you will beat that self-loathing queen to death with his own hockey stick if he hurts your father.
Despite your fears, you can't help but feel proud and gratified when Dad grabs Karofsky by the jacket and throws him up against the wall, pinning the jock with his right forearm across his neck.
Later, you'll replay this moment. You'll pick it apart in slow motion and analyze it into the ground. You'll come to the amazing conclusion that Karofsky made a conscious choice, one that must have taken a level of self-control you didn't realize the violent jock possessed. An unbelievable decision, really, for a strong athlete with anger management issues, trained to react instantly to body checks in the rink and tackles on the field. You'll wonder why, and eventually decide it must have been the shock of being manhandled by a furious middle-aged stranger in a baseball cap, sheer incredulity, in other words, that caused Karofsky to freeze like that. Dad's a big, intimidating guy, but you know Karofsky would need only seconds to hurt him badly. And when you puzzle out that - for whatever reason - he deliberately decided not to shove Dad away or hit him, or even try to break his grip, some part of you, miniscule but nonetheless real, will be grateful to the twisted bastard.
But this is now, and Dad is hissing "You like picking on people? Why don't you try me!" as he presses his forearm into Karofsky's neck and pushes him further up the wall. And Karofsky is bellowing "What the hell?", trying to figure out what's going on. Finn is pulling at Dad's left arm and shouting for him to stop.
You grab Dad's shoulders, tugging gently, because Dad's more fragile than either Finn or he realizes, and plead with him not to have another heart attack. You tell him how grateful you are that he always sticks up for you, that he accepts you and is proud of you. You explain that you love him more than anything in the world, way more than your own honor or dignity, so he shouldn't risk himself to defend them. You apologize abjectly, not for being gay (Dad would never ask, expect or want you to do that), but for the bigotry he has to deal with, the ugliness that has entered his life because you're gay, and therefore a target. You beg him to step away before he makes a move that lands him in jail for assault or triggers 'The Fury'. None of your tormentors is worth his time, not one of them fit to breathe the same air or walk under the same sky with him. He has to stay safe. He has to stay with you. You can bear anything except losing him.
All this you say from the liquid depths of your heart. Emotion pours down your arms and flows through your fingertips, spilling over Dad's shoulders, drenching his clothes and soaking into his skin. But silently, because your beautiful voice is overwhelmed, choked nearly to drowning by the volume and power of all you want to convey. So what comes out of your mouth as you pull him towards you is only a tiny, plaintive squeak. "Please! You're sick. Come on!"
Karofsky wiggles out of Dad's grasp. He looks at the three of you as though you were aliens from space and moves quickly away.
Dad, breathing heavily, watches him go and then rounds on Finn. "What the hell've you been doing while all this is going on, huh?" he snarls. You're shocked at the bitterness, the accusation and frustration and hurt in Dad's voice. Cross bitch-slapping Finn off your list – Dad just did it for you.
You can tell by the way he stalks off that he's none too pleased with you, either. "D-Dad!" you struggle to say, not sure what you intend to follow that with. But once again, it's like your vocal cords don't work, because it comes out as a breathy gasp that even you can barely hear. He sends one of those hurt and frustrated looks your way as he moves past. Finn just stands there, slack-jawed and stunned, as if he'd been smacked for real and damned hard, too. You turn to him and, much to your surprise, you find his empathy credit has been extended. There were some coupons left, after all.
A strange bonding experience for the two of you, disappointing the father you now share.
Since I won't be writing any chapters on the wedding, I wanted to take the opportunity here to delve a little into what's going on between Finn and Kurt, even though it's a bit beside the point for this scene. I now extend apologies to all the Finn fans out there, but, as you may have guessed, I think Finn failed Kurt just as badly as a friend/brother as Schue failed him as a teacher. Next up - the chapter you've all been waiting for: The Expulsion Scene!
Chapter 4: The elephant in the room and we pretend that we don't see it
You look like hell. A quick glance at your reflection in the glass outside the Principle's office confirms that your efforts to hide those bags under your eyes with makeup were only partly successful. Great! And what possessed you to pair your fabulous hunter green Marc Jacobs button down with this stupid, way overpriced white Lacoste sweater? Oh, and the pin, Kurt? Looks like you got it from an oversized Crackerjack box. Just sayin'...
You sort of have an excuse for today's many wardrobe missteps. Last night was probably the worst night of your teenage life (and you've had some bad ones!). You have never, never seen Dad so angry with you. Or so overflowing with worry. Upset because someone had threatened to kill you, of course, but mostly because he knew, he just knew you weren't telling the whole story. Asking over and over until it became a litany, a catechism, a near-incomprehensible incantation: whydidn'tyoutellyourteachers?whydidn'tyoutellme?andthere'smore,isn'tthere?theremustbe!peopledon't threatentokill peopleoutoftheblue,theydon't gofrom shovingtodeaththreatswithoutsomethingsignificant happening.whatareyounotsaying?please,Kurt,Idon'tunderstand.howcanIprotectyouifyouwon'ttellmethetruth? Over and over and over, until Dad was actually crying with frustration.
And you were crying, too, because it wrung your heart to keep insisting the bullying really wasn't that bad, that Karofsky never stood out from the other boorish homophobes at school, that you have no idea why he suddenly threatened you. It helped when Finn spilled about the Gaga incident last year, which testified to Karofsky's violent hatred of all things gay. And because he's totally ignorant of the truth, Finn even backed up your claim that nothing had changed recently. You almost (almost) smile at the irony – if Finn had paid closer attention these past few weeks, or (God forbid!) actually stepped up to help you, he'd be the boy who knew too much, and that would have made it that much harder to deflect Dad's questions.
So after lying through your teeth all evening, feeling like the lowest form of pond scum the whole time, you got maybe 4 hours bad sleep. Chest pounding, stomach churning, mind racing whenever you remembered the day's events and all that led up to them. And try as you might, you just couldn't control the nausea that came on when you thought about this meeting, the one you're walking into right now. Every time you slipped into sleep, you'd just pop awake in 40 minutes, an hour, sweating and thrashing around, unable for a few terrifying minutes to remember why. Seriously, the primordial ooze that is Dave Karofsky cannot die soon enough to satisfy you.
Principal Sue looms like the puppet master over every man in the room. You suspect she's deliberately standing between Dad and Karofsky to keep them from killing each other. "So it seems this situation has reached a boiling point."
"You're damn right it has," Dad spits out furiously.
You cross your right leg over your left and dutifully stare at the Ferragamo loafer on your right foot. After he got through yelling and pleading and breaking your heart, Dad told you in no uncertain terms to let him do the talking today, let him handle it. Which is fine, there's nothing you want to say in front of him, nothing new, anyway. And this spares you from having to look at Karofsky. As irrational as it sounds, even with Dad sitting next to you and Principal Sylvester almost certainly on your side, you don't feel entirely safe.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Schue sort of complimented you on how you usually managed to rise above the bullying (you just love how he actually used that word - "usual," as if bullying were part of the standard curriculum). Sure, it wasn't fun to be physically and emotionally abused on a near daily basis, but no matter what he did, you could generally sneer away the original Karofsky, aka the Neanderthal, imagining him ten years from now, stocking the canned goods in aisle 5 while you're soaking up applause on Broadway. You deeply, bitterly resent the offending kiss of Karofsky 2.0, but in truth, you feel kind of sorry for that Karofsky – he looked so conflicted and hurt after you pushed him away. It's a terrible thing, being torn between who you are and who you feel compelled to be. Stairwell/death-threat Karofsky? He was trying way too hard to be Mr. Scary Tough Guy. It was mean, but smacked of desperation, so sort of a hybrid of 1 and 2? But psycho-stalker Karofsky scares the shit out of you. Those soulless, predatory eyes, the demented smile, that loathsome finger trailing slowly down your chest ... all that crap was two days ago and you're still freaking out. You can already tell you're not getting past that tender interlude any time soon.
And it appears yet another Dave Karofsky has come to this meeting. His voice sounds different, all fake innocence and self-pity when he insists, "Nothing happened." Great! You're being stalked and tormented by Lon Chaney!
You glance apprehensively at Dad, fearful he'll try to launch off the sofa and tear Karofsky to shreds. There's no doubt that's what he wants to do. His body is tense, shoulders hunched, hands tightly clenched together so they can't clench around something else, like Karofsky's throat. You experience that same mixture of concern and admiration you felt yesterday when he slammed the bully against the wall. It probably shouldn't be comforting, knowing your father's willing to maim a teenager for you, but it is.
At the moment, Dad's confining his rage to verbal salvos. "I'll tell you what really happened. Mr. Karofsky -"
"My name's Paul."
Okay, that was weirdly friendly. Something's wrong with this picture. Physically, Karofsky-père resembles his son – a large, heavy-set man with a deep, husky voice (although Karofsky's a baritone and his father sounds like a bass). He looks like an accountant, or maybe a low-rent attorney in that buy-one-get-one-half-price Men's Warehouse suit. You expected someone more... well, someone more like Dad, frankly. A blue collar, flannel, beef jerky, Springsteen/Melloncamp kind of guy. And rabidly homophobic. But so far he hasn't used any of the hate speech his son speaks so fluently. He's hardly said anything at all, in fact. And he's not looking at you like you were some kind of degenerate bug to be squashed, which is how Azimio and Karofsky usually look at you. So if it doesn't come from the father, where does Karofsky get his screwed up attitude? Or maybe Mr. Karofsky feels exactly the same way but just hides it better.
"Paul, your kid threatened the life of my son."
Mr. Karofsky seems to have trouble processing this information. He looks stunned, like he can't match what Dad's just said to anything his little Davey-boy would do. Davey-boy must be the version of Karofsky who comes home at night.
Principal Sue leans towards you as she asks, "Porcelain, is that true?"
Now you're staring at your shoes for an entirely different reason. She... how could she! At a meeting about bullying? In front of your father, no less! Thank god you at least got her to drop 'Lady Face.' You don't dare look at Dad to gauge his reaction to this fresh insult. Sure, she doesn't mean anything by it, no more than calling Mike 'Other Asian' or Mercedes 'Aretha'. But Dad and Mr. Karofsky don't know that. Dad's going to think that even McKinley's principal openly ridicules his swishy, effeminate son, and that you just let her. Which you do, but everything's a question of context and degree, isn't it? But the worst thing is Mr. Karofsky's going to think if this is how the faculty treats you, then his son's ... excesses ...are somehow excusable.
All of which makes you feel even angrier and even less like looking at anyone or talking. You keep your eyes glued to that blessed loafer and manage one emphatic, sober, wholly unequivocal nod.
Karofsky tries the innocent routine again. "That's not true. I didn't say anything -"
Lying cretin. That's it! You've had enough, you're fed up with being a target (you refuse to use the word 'victim'), fed up with looking weak, fed up with hearing Dave fucking Karofsky try to pretend away all the wrongs he's done to you. Does he not realize that you hold the ultimate card, that you could 'out' him right here, right now? That pissing you off is a very bad idea.
Your head snaps up and you turn the bitch face on him full force. "That's what he said," you shoot back contemptuously, eyes locked firm and unwavering on his. At last, your voice is back, strong and on your side. There is definitely an upside to anger. "He said he'd kill me if I told anyone."
"If you told anyone what?" Principal Sue asks.
This is it, this is the moment, the climax of the play. The moment you reveal to the audience that Dave Karofsky is a lying, bullying, cowardly scum. A fraud, a fake, and a faggot. The moment you lower yourself to his level, because there's just no other way to get him to stop. The moment you lose a large chunk of your self-respect, in order to save the rest of you.
He kissed me! He poked me and looked at me funny and stole my toy. No, too childish.
You try again:
He's been sexually harassing me. Because he's gay. Gay! I'll say it again in case you didn't hear me, Mr. Karofsky. Your son. Is capital 'G'. Gay. And Dad, I swear, this wasn't like with Finn. I didn't pursue him. And no matter what he says, I didn't lead him on, either.
No, too spiteful, too defensive. Oh, stop looking at me like that, Karofsky. Like you're a human being, with actual feelings. You very much doubt the jock is breathing right now. Good. Die from lack of oxygen! I won't mind.
There's a plea in his eyes, but for what? Secrecy or release – you can't read that face to tell. So many Dave Karofskys, and you don't actually know any of them. Do you want me to 'out' you to everyone, is that it? Is that the easy way out of the closet for you – get someone else to do it, to play the villain so suddenly you're the victim? Then you're an even bigger coward than I thought.
Because it does take courage, it really does, to be different at McKinley. Though Karofsky's not at risk for getting hassled over it like the Glee kids do. No one's going to mess with such a big, angry guy, at least not physically. Well, actually, Azimio might... he's just as violent and just as homophobic. He probably won't take kindly to his best friend suddenly getting, as he once so eloquently put it, 'a bad case of the gays.' And you just know you'll get blamed for that, as if you somehow contaminated Karofsky. The jocks still say you did that to Finn, even though he's been dating Rachel for months now. But Finn's sexuality was suspect the minute he joined Glee. The truth about Karofsky will come out of nowhere. God knows what his buddies will do to you for supposedly turning another one of them to 'the dark side.'
Everybody's waiting, Kurt. He... I... . Crap! You suddenly realize that this trump card you thought you held is just a joker, mocking you. So many reasons you can't tell – the humiliation, keeping Dad calm, covering yesterday's lies, refusing to be Karofsky's scapegoat, you're own stupid integrity, simple self-preservation. You're completely and utterly fucking trapped.
"Just..." A hopeless, frustrated sigh escapes your lips. Damn you, Dave Karofsky! Damn your gutless, closeted ass to the darkest corner of the blackest pit of the ninth circle of hell "...that he was picking on me."
Karofksy's exhale of relief is so loud, you understand immediately that he was definitely not looking to have you 'out' him. But if you're expecting any gratitude for keeping his secret, he quickly dashes that thought. "He's making all this stuff up," the jock insists.
Dad tenses, and he looks like he might really dive past Principal Sue and throttle Karofsky. "Oh, is that right?" he growls. For like the millionth time in two days, your heart swells with love and pride. Sue Sylvester once said she wanted to be your champion, but Dad's your real champion. No son, gay or straight, could have better, and whether he realizes it or not, Finn's the second-luckiest kid on earth.
But you know how this meeting's going to end and it sucks. You passed on your moment, and the conversation just devolved into "Did not!" "Did, too!" Karofsky will get off with a warning not to break the porcelain (chips and cracks? okay, within moderation), and Dad will just be more upset and worried than he was before. You understand, though. What choice does Principal Sue have? It's he-said/he-said, and she already told you legally there's nothing she can do in that situation. So Karofsky goes back to shoving you, stalking you, maybe – hell, probably doing something worse if he gets the chance. And you go back to wearing that fucking fear apron.
But just when you've given up what little hope you had, something miraculous and terrible happens.
"Hold on a sec," Mr. Karofsky says, sounding eerily calm and reasonable. "You have been acting differently lately, David. You used to get As and Bs. You're talking back, you're acting out." As and Bs? Assault and battery? Asshole and bastard? Surely he couldn't be referring to grades. Your baggy eyes bore a hole through Karofsky's big, fat head as he squirms in his chair, awkward and shamefaced, while his father quietly berates him. It's a pleasant sight.
Wait a minute. His father... his father berating him? In front of outsiders? At home, maybe, sure...
"And now we're sitting here. So let me ask you, why would Kurt make that up?"
Wow! Just... wow! You're still staring daggers at Karofsky, you're hatred for the guy still all-encompassing, but … wow! Paul Karofsky just threw his own son under the bus. Took the side of a total stranger against his own flesh and blood. What the hell's going on in that family? To Dad and Carole, y'know, normal, loving parents, such a thing would be inconceivable. Even Puck's mom tried to fight the court order sending him to juvie, and she doesn't even like him, thinks he's a worthless punk. Family, even a dysfunctional family, sticks together – it's in the rule book or something.
But maybe Mr. Karofsky's apparent fair mindedness is just an act, a con, because his son has clearly been waiting for this particular question. He's prepared for it, rehearsed his line. You see Karofsky's mouth twist into a smug, self-satisfied smirk. You expect him to say something outrageously offensive, something that will cause Dad to either have another coronary or go all Halo on the kid. Like "Because he's a lying little fag" or "I accidentally bumped the fairy princess and wrinkled his clothes" or "PMS?" On second thought, that last one's a bit too clever for Karofsky's limited brain –
"Maybe he likes me?"
Oh, no! Bitch did not just go there!
You're immediate reaction is to roll your eyes in disgust. In your dreams, hamhock! But then it hits you, reason number 255 why you can't tell anyone what really happened. How could you be so stupid not to realize it before? You were so worried people would label you a Gay! Sex! Victim! (capitalized!), beat you up for turning a guy queer. But none of that will happen, because no one will believe Karofsky's actually gay. Well, of course Dad will believe it, and Mr. Schue and the Glee kids (some of them, anyway), but no one else. The jocks'll beat you up for slandering a fine, upstanding specimen of heterosexuality. "Maybe he likes me." Yeah, that'll be the narrative all right – after years of slushies and slurs and literally being treated like garbage, and of course months of oh-so-romantic locker slams, you inexplicably fell madly in love with the vicious brute; being gay and therefore completely unable to control your wanton sexual depravity, you threw yourself at him; being totally straight, as everyone knows him to be, he categorically rejected you; and hell hath no fury like a homo scorned.
When Dad demands that Principal Sue take action, you brace for disappointment. But the second miracle of the day occurs when she says, "After hearing both sides of the story, you are hereby expelled. I will not have one student threatening the life of another."
You close your eyes and exhale deeply. Is that it? Is this nightmare really over and Karofsky out of your life for good? Just like that? Such relief as you haven't felt in weeks, months, years comes rushing in with the new air filling your lungs. You're not even looking at Karofsky's reaction. Who cares? It's over!
Principal Sue continues: "If you don't think this is fair, well, you can appeal to the school board." Maybe it's over. "And you'll leave campus immediately." It's over for now, at least, and that's cause for celebration.
Now you look at Karofsky. He's pissed. He looks like he wants to argue some more. Or maybe punch something, probably you. He throws a pleading look to his father, but Paul Karofsky just nods slightly at the Principal and says softly, "I appreciate your time."
Once again, Davey-boy under the bus. So it wasn't a father-son scam earlier. That's pretty stunning. Burt "Your job is to be yourself, and my job is to love you" Hummel would be tearing the building down brick by brick with his bare hands right about now. But Mr. Karofsky's just calmly taking in the news. Maybe he knows about the many faces of Dave Karofsky after all. Maybe he suspects? Maybe he always knew his kid was a seismic screw up waiting to happen and this is just the denouement.
You know Karofsky's staring at you, and you don't want to meet his gaze as he moves past, but for some reason you do. He shakes his head slightly, as if to say, "Not cool, dude." Hmph! Not even the decency to be sorry for how he's terrorized and abused you, to be grateful that you're keeping his secret. You shoot him an angry look. Don't expect me to feel sorry for you, you queer in wolf's clothing. You deserve this and we both know it. Get some professional help, Karofsky, for everyone's sake. And never come near me again.
Once the Karofskys have left, Dad stands and nudges you to your feet. You're suddenly physically and emotionally exhausted (it's been a rough few days), and it takes real effort to drag yourself up.
Dad looks back at the Principal and thanks her. She tells him to enjoy the wedding.
You don't say anything. You don't look back. If there's pity in her eyes, you don't want to see it.
Deep down, even not-so-deep down, you know this meeting should not have ended with an expulsion. Two days ago in this very office, Principal Sue apologized to you, said her hands were tied, told you words weren't enough, there was nothing she could do unless the bully physically hurt you. Told you that she was bullied, too.
Is that why she stretched the rules just now, out of empathy? She'd probably cut you into little pieces and send each one to a different South American country if you dared to suggest she could even feel that emotion, but, yeah, maybe. You two did kind of bond a little over blocking the Glee club's attempts at prayer meetings and all that other God junk when Dad was ill. Or it could just be that she thinks she owes you, because you helped her win Nationals last year. That's a simpler explanation, and the one she'd probably prefer. The Occam's Razor of Sue Sylvester – Karofsky never won her any trophies.
Anyway, however you got here, it's over and you carried the day. But you don't feel particularly triumphant. Which is strange, since you got exactly what you wanted – Karofsky out of your life without having to betray your principles or humiliate yourself. Perhaps the good news just hasn't sunk in, yet. Or maybe... maybe what you really wanted was to rewind the clock, back to the day you met Blaine, and play it forward without the kiss, the wink, the threats, the ...touching. Alter time and space so that none of it ever happened.
But that's something you can't have. These ugly things did happen. They're part of you now, and they've changed you. And nothing about that feels like a victory.
Whew! I think this was one of the hardest pieces of fiction I've ever written. Looking at this scene exhaustively – deconstructing it, dissecting it, reconstructing it, finding spaces between the dialogue for Kurt's reflections – it was, well, it was exhausting. So much going on in Kurt's inner world in this episode. Chris Colfer deserves every acting award under the sun! As with previous chapters, all dialogue is taken from the episode "Furt." Oh, regarding my little jabs at the start about Kurt's wardrobe, normally I like his clothes (mostly). But I absolutely hated what he wore in this scene and since I had to watch the scene like a million times in order to write this chapter, the outfit really got on my nerves and I couldn't resist a little venting. Sorry.
So how was it, folks? This chapter was really difficult to write and I very much want to hear reactions- positive or negative. Next up: Sue breaks the bad news to Kurt.
Chapter 5: The floors underneath our feet are crumbling
Setting the Scene: The weekend following Karofsky's expulsion, Burt and Carole get married. At the wedding reception, Finn gives a toast in which he tells Kurt he realizes that he (Finn) should have stepped up earlier to help his new step-brother, and pledges to support and protect Kurt from now on. Then Finn and Kurt share a waltz in front of the entire wedding party. The scene below takes place on the next school day. All dialogue is taken from the episode 'Furt'.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
These ugly things did happen. They're part of you now, and they've changed you.
Nothing brings that sad fact into sharper relief than how you're reacting right now, as you listen to Principal Sue explain that the school board has overturned the expulsion.
Karofsky's coming back. He's coming back to get you. And you are... horrified, frightened, resentful. But you're not defiant or self-confident. You're not even all that surprised, since you knew the expulsion wasn't quite kosher. And you are so far from hopeful it's ridiculous. Karofsky won't feel chastened by his temporary exile, he'll come back madder and meaner than ever. You now know two deep, dark, shameful secrets about him – yeah, he's gay, but what's probably just as bad in his eyes, you know he's a big disappointment to daddy dearest. It's weird – if Paul Karofsky intended to fight Principal Sue's decision, why did he seem so accepting in her office? Was it just to mind-fuck his son? If it weren't for the fact you know Karofsky will take that out on you, too, you'd almost pity the guy.
Carole and Dad are livid. "This is absolutely unacceptable!" Carole declares emphatically, placing a warm, comforting hand on your thigh. It's nice to have a mother again, a mama bear to defend her cub. For all her nervous, fussy phobias, Ms. Pillsbury clearly has maternal instincts, and there were a few times (besides all this Karofsky stuff) when you could have sworn Sue Sylvester was being kind to you. But it's not the same.
Dad shakes his head in impotent rage. "This psycho threatens my kid's life, and some school board, made up of a bunch of people I've never met, tells me there's nothing they can do about it."
To her credit, there's carefully modulated contempt in her voice when Principal Sue says of the school board, "Oh, they could do something about it. They just decided not to."
No witnesses, you see, no bruises, no outer scars (inner ones don't count), and nothing broken except maybe you're spirit. Hard to argue with the presumption of innocence – it's the American way, after all. Davey-boy must have turned on the charm for the board, and maybe the waterworks, too. You wouldn't put it past him – obviously, Karofsky's one hell of an actor. He's much better at pretending to be something he's not than you are.
Right now, you're afraid, and you don't have the energy to pretend otherwise. It's not like you have to keep up a front with these particular adults. You slump a little, shaking your head. You'll have to let him beat you up. It's twisted, but if the school board wants bruises, you'll have to give them fucking bruises. Maybe you could stage a controlled experiment sort of attack, have Finn and Puck – on second thought, better make that Sam and Mike and Finn and Puck – waiting around the corner so they can stop him after a few punches, before he does... whatever it is he'll do... no, try to do, when he gets his hands... mouth... no, hands... when... when he comes after you again.
"The school board president issued a verbal warning to Karofsky," Principal Sue continues, "and that's where we stand."
A verbal warning? Oh, well in that case everything will be just fan-fucking-tastic, no sweat! Why didn't you say that in the first place? And here I was worried! A verbal warning! Ha! That was like Mr. Schue with his "You just got assaulted? Have a glass of water."
Looks like Finn's going to have a chance to make good on that "I got your back, bro" toast he gave at the wedding. As sweet as the gesture was, dancing with a guy (in a brotherly way, of course) in front of friends and loved ones is not the same as facing 'The Fury' and all his Neanderthal pals. You hope he's still got that red vinyl dress handy.
This is not okay, people! You've had what, three days of normalcy at school? You were so, so deliriously happy at the wedding and it made you realize something – you haven't felt that happy for that many hours straight in a long, long time. This – right now – this is victimization. Officially sanctioned persecution, being forced to return to the intolerable when you've had a taste of bliss. So you feel totally justified in the bitterness with which you say, "I can't go back to being terrified all the time. I mean, I jump every time a locker slams shut, I..I flinch whenever I turn the corner. I don't feel safe at this school."
Principal Sue says she knows bullies don't change, she knows Karofsky'll keep targetting you. But she starts to explain how she won't stand by and let that happen.
Yes! Coach – I mean Principal Sue, I've got to tip my hat to you. I would never have predicted that you – torturer of Cheerios, nemesis of Glee Club – would turn into a champion of the underdog, but you've really stepped up and –
"Effective noon tomorrow, Figgins is back in charge as I have tendered my resignation as principal in protest."
Wait, what? No! Don't give up your power. Power is good, you love power! Think of all the misery you can cause here with impunity. Think of your future, Sue! Ruling McKinley could be the first step toward world domination.
"I can't help you behind that desk, but I can be an extra pair of eyes out in those hallways. Someone ought to have your back." Stay behind the desk! For my sake, stay behind the desk! I'll let you call me anything you want, Ricky Martin, Twinkletoes, Tinkerbell, Liberace, whatever. "Besides, I miss my office. This room smells weird. I can't shake the feeling that I'm inhaling a lot of dead skin."
You pause in your panic. Seriously, you're resigning over dandruff? Something else must be motivating her, because there's no way she could think that going back to being a teacher will help you more than remaining principal. It's bad news in another way – this could even embolden Karofsky and all the other bullies, if they think she's been demoted for the wrongful expulsion. Who knows? Maybe she was and she's just passing it off as a noble sacrifice. Sue Sylvester's a damn fine actor, too. But you don't dare say anything out loud, since she'll still be a powerful force to be reckoned with and you still need her on your side. Apparently, neither Dad nor Carole can think of a comeback to sudden onset dermaphobia, either, so the three of you just give her unhappy stares.
Figgins back is a disaster, and not just for you. He couldn't give a damn if a dweeb or a dork or a geek or a nerd was having trouble, as long as his precious budget is balanced and he can root out those evil, pernicious vampires who have infiltrated the student body. For sheer stupidity alone, Figgins doesn't deserve to get his job back. And then there are his constant references to what is and isn't "Christian" that make you uneasy, to say the least. No way a born-again like that approves of your supposed 'choice' of alternative lifestyle. Who knows? Figgins might secretly think you and the other misfits deserve the harassment, for standing out, for speaking up, for rocking the boat when all the man wants to do is coast quietly into retirement and collect his pension.
For Figgins you'll definitely have to produce bruises, big black and purple ones, and maybe a broken rib or two. So already as you wearily bid Dad and Carole farewell and start heading to your next class, you begin plotting out Operation Pummel Hummel (But No More Than Absolutely Necessary), trying to decide which of your least favorite outfits you should wear that day, in case the blood doesn't –
Dad's voice shakes you out of your thoughts. "Hey Kurt, wait up a second. There's something we want to talk to you about."
I hope this chapter wasn't too boring. Compared to how much material there was to sink my teeth into in chapters 3 and 4, I didn't have so much to say here. Next (and last) up: the final scene of 'Furt', Kurt says goodbye to the Glee Club.
Chapter 6: 'Cuz it's easier than telling the truth
First you protested vociferously, too prideful not to object, at least a little, for appearance's sake. As soon as you said 'yes', though, and realized it didn't trigger overwhelming feelings of guilt and failure, that's when you knew this was the right decision. Then you hugged Dad and Carole and wept without shame for their lost honeymoon and your salvation.
And now you're in limbo, standing just outside the doorway, again uncertain, as you have been for days upon days upon days without end, about what to tell everyone in that choir room. The hall, the bustling students, the clanging bell that signals sixth period is starting – everything seems … fake. It's like McKinley is inside a snow globe and when you shake it all the shadow figures start rushing about, no meaning whatever behind their frenzied activity. You built the snow globe yourself, after waking from a dream about a place you once knew, and filled it with echos of faces you used to recognize and people you felt connected to long ago.
Mr. Schue and the kids are going to realize something's up. You're not crying now and you won't cry again (got that?) but they'll spot the evidence that you recently were. Well... actually, no, they probably won't. Generally speaking, most people move through the world in a self-centered haze, looking but not seeing. It's not indifference to others, per se; sometimes the audience is just too lazy to go backstage after the performance. Or, in your case, the fashion show. Inevitably, people – even your friends – look at your clothes. As well they should, considering how much care you put into each ensemble, and the fabulous figure you cut when not covered with sticky purple syrup. But the distinctive outfits serve another purpose – as a distraction, a shield, deflecting efforts to dig deeper, get more personal, except on your terms. Mercedes, Dad, Blaine, Finn on occasion ...Karofsky in that locker room – it's a very short list, the people who have managed to peek behind the curtain uninvited, to see Kurt Hummel not fully in control.
So adjust your shirt, fix your hair and raise the curtain. The show must go on! But how shall you play this scene? Only bad choices here – stay through Glee practice and tell everyone afterward? Tell them upfront and then stay through Glee practice? Tell them and leave before practice begins? Don't go to Glee practice, send a group text and then throw away your phone? No matter how you package it, losing their most talented member is a punch in the gut New Directions just does not need right before Sectionals. After an eternity of hovering, you decide. You tilt your head up, assuming the characteristic Kurt Hummel devil-may-care attitude (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), and start strutting towards the risers.
Mr. Schue is trying to gain control over the unruly mob known to its fans as Nude Erections (further evidence, if any were needed, that New Directions has no fans). "Come on guys, the wedding was great but we have got to get ready for Sectionals next week."
You quicken your pace to breeze past him. Destination: a seat next to Mercedes. One last time, sit with her and quietly dish about the others. Yeah, one last loving memory of your friends singing and dancing and horsing around, something to hold on to at Conformity High.
"Oh, Kurt, good. I want to talk to you about this amazing idea I had for a solo for you at sectionals."
That stops you in your tracks.
Now, Mr. Schue? Geez, your timing is as atrocious as that sweater you lifted from the Goodwill rejects bin. So many, many times you've dreamed of hearing those exact words from him, pondered just how brightly to beam, how overtly to gloat (while still appearing appropriately modest) in that triumphant moment when you best Rachel and claim the center spotlight you so richly deserve. But now? It just shows you were right after all – either God is a major jerk, or there is no god at all.
The thought of discussing some mythical solo part makes your stomach clench, and you realize that even if you deflect that conversation, you'll never make it through practice without breaking down again. So change of plans. "Can I make an announcement first?"
"Yeah," Mr. Schue says quietly. Something in his tone, his look, is instantly downbeat. Could he possibly know already? No, Kurt, you must be imagining things.
Eleven pairs of unsuspecting eyes give you their undivided attention. Now time slows to a jello pace. An anvil presses on your chest, and for some reason you can hear every noise in the room, no matter how small. Between hardly knowing what to say and the total lack of rehearsal, you very nearly flub your opening lines. But you manage to push the air out roughly, forcing it past your lips because it doesn't want to go.
"F-first, I wanted to thank everyone for what you did at my dad's wedding. Especially Finn," you add sincerely. That bromantic dance truly was the second-most joyous moment of the happiest day of your life, coming in just a hair's breath behind Dad and Carole's robust 'I do's.' "It's nice to know that I have great friends here, as well as a true brother." Okay, that "true brother" bit was somewhat overripe, but you're feeling generous in your misery.
For a moment, a tiny, fleeting moment, you stop. And pause. And hesitate. Y'know, it's not too late to change your mind, Kurt. Stay, wait and see. Things might get better, it's possible. Stay through Sectionals, at least. Dalton – and Blaine – will still be there next week if you need them. Who knows, maybe the expulsion will reign in Karofsky's worst inclinations, and now with the Gleeks watching out for you and Sue Sylvester on alert –
But Finn grins smugly and your heart sinks. Look at him, lapping up your exaggerated praise as if the abuse and the … the other stuff … were definitely over, the danger past, instead of possibly beginning anew, and somehow it was all his doing. You know that he sincerely meant that wedding toast, committed wholeheartedly in that moment to every word when he said "No matter what it costs me, I got your back." But you also know from experience that Finn is a fickle beast – suiting up in red vinyl to protect you one minute, freaked out about your duet with Sam the next. Hiding … somewhere... while everyone else risks a beat-down, then swearing to all and sundry that you've taught him 'what it means to be a man.' Should you open yourself up to more potential disappointment from your mercurial new brother? If he let you down again, if he failed to show up, if he... if he blamed you for 'making a spectacle of yourself'... No, it's too risky. Better, much better to just go, remove yourself from the whole situation, and then there will be no occasion for Finn to disappoint you, no obstacle to being this new fraternal unit 'Furt'. You can go to your grave believing Finn absolutely would have made good on his pledge. If the occasion had presented itself. But you transferred, so it never did, so he didn't have to. Otherwise your brother-from-another-mother would have run to your defense, no question. Without hesitation. Definitely.
You tighten your grip on the straps of your messenger bag, bracing for what must come next. "Which is wh-why it's so hard for me to leave."
The group just gapes at you. Quinn, of all people, speaks up first. "What do you mean leave?"
Funny, that might be the longest sentence she's directed your way since the Glee Club debated theology a few months back and she told you it was blasphemous to compare God to an evil dwarf living on the dark side of the moon. But fair is fair. You've never exactly reached out to her, either. In fact, you've been pushing them all away for weeks, even Tina and Mercedes, coping with the ever-worsening harassment by withdrawing further and further into yourself. Life's a little easier, albeit a little lonelier, that way. Okay, a lot lonelier.
"I'm transferring. To Dalton Academy. Immediately." Dalton will be better, a place with other out and proud kids, where people will accept you, or at least keep their mouths shut and their hands off even if they don't. "My parents are using the money they saved up for their honeymoon to pay for the tuition."
One thing you'll always be grateful to Finn for, and that's bringing Carole into your life. In addition to lighting Dad up like a Broadway marque, she has been so terrific during this whole ordeal. In fact, you wouldn't be surprised if it was her idea to use the honeymoon money for Dalton, because a phenomenally expensive strategic retreat isn't an option that would naturally have occurred to Dad. You make a mental note to find out about that, once the dust settles on all this Karofsky business. In any case, you plan to cook romantic dinners for two and drag Finn out for organic pizza often so your parents (parents, plural!) can have some newlywed time, even if they're not in Waikiki.
As soon as you mention Dalton, the reality of the situation seems to sink in among your friends. Mike shakes his head. Brittany's hands fly to her mouth in shock. "Kurt, you can't leave," Tina insists.
Finn seems indignant as he stalks forward a few steps. "What the hell, dude! How 'bout you talk with me about this first?"
"I'm sorry, Finn, but there's nothing to talk about."
Don't you understand, dude , the wedding is over! That was just about the only thing getting me through the past few weeks. And Figgins the Vampire Slayer will be in charge. And Karofsky will... I sincerely have no idea what he'll do, but even if he never touches me again, what he's already done haunts me nightly. You know, Finn, how in science matter and antimatter can't both occupy the same space at the same time? Think of Karofsky and me as... Never mind, don't strain yourself thinking. I'll just give you the bottom line.
"Karofsky's coming back tomorrow, so that means I won't be."
Karofsky won't be able to touch you at Dalton, but you'll keep his secrets, anyway – the one you both share and the one that is his alone to tell. Not like you feel you owe him anything, that would be absurd. But Karofsky 2.0, the one behind the curtain, the most hidden and vulnerable Karofsky of all, when he kissed you in that locker room, you saw him. Maybe you're the only person in the world who has ever seen him. 2.0 seemed pretty wretched. You'd like to think that once you're gone, 2.0 will be able to clear his head, get some help and come to a better place. And then beat the metaphorical shit out of all the other Dave Karofskys for being such assholes.
"We can protect you."
Um, might want to check your face again, Goldilocks. Your eye's still gross from your last run-in with The Fury.
"Seriously, we can, like, form a perimeter around you, like the Secret Service."
Appreciate the sentiment, Puck, but I'm not willing to be the reason you get sent back to juvie.
Eloquent as always, Finn, but not especially persuasive. Guys, if I may offer a tip for when the next gay kid you befriend gets abused and forced out of school, a little less "don't" and a little more "we understand and support your decision" wouldn't go amiss.
Even if the idea were appealing, which it's not, a Glee Club Praetorian Guard would never work. How could they be with you every minute of every day? Because that's what it would take, you know that now. The danger is always there, even in the crowded hallways, even in the packed lunchroom, because teachers and students alike, McKinley residents look but they don't see. There must be blood and witnesses and constant fear and things will have to get worse before they get better and why the fuck should you and your family have to go through all that crap?
"The only thing that can really protect me is what they have at Dalton – a zero-tolerance no bullying policy. It's enforced," you add for Mr. Schue's benefit, glancing over at him meaningfully to make sure he doesn't miss the headline School Enforces No Bullying Policy.
Zero tolerance, eh? Well bless my stars and garters! What will those crazy Dalton kids think of next? Okay, perhaps you're still just a tad bitter about how the faculty here have failed you so spectacularly. Surprisingly, Mr. Schue just nods sympathetically. In contrast to everyone else, he doesn't seem the least bit surprised, which means he must have known in advance, although you can't fathom how. Unless now-ex-Principal Sue picked up your conversation with Dad and Carole on one of the many covert listening devices she's deployed around the school, and relayed the information to him under a flag of truce. Anyway, it's only right that he should approve. He's an educator (well, only Glee and Spanish, which everyone knows is très inférieur au français, but still) and the whole point of high school is supposed to be academic advancement, at least for those of us aspiring to more than junior college, not learning how to avoid asphyxiation when locked in a port-a-potty.
Education-wise, you won't miss McKinley even slightly. It's a testament to how pathetic this school is that your grades haven't slipped one iota since Karofsky ramped up the abuse, wrecked your sleep, stole your appetite and killed your concentration. You'll probably have to study your adorable butt off to catch up to your new Dalton classmates.
The revelation that there are schools – non-imaginary ones – which don't tolerate petty thuggery stuns everyone else into silence. And then it happens, right on cue. Little Miss Me! Me! Me! has an epiphany. "Does this mean that you're going to be competing against us at Sectionals?"
God, you just want to shove a sock into her mouth! Or maybe just sock her. Yes, Rachel, that was my first thought, too. How does this impact you? That and how cool will it be to kick your musical ass as a Warbler, indistinguishable from all the other uniform-clad robo-boys. Ugh! The very idea of wearing exactly the same thing as everyone else, every single fucking day – it's like spitting on everything you stand for.
It appears once again Rachel has gotten the last word, as everyone seems finally to have run out of objections. So now it's time for your plaintive, heart-tugging farewell song. Mr. Schue scooped up Over the Rainbow after Regionals last year, and of course Rachel already over-emoted What I Did for Love a few months back, damn her! On second thought, maybe that would have been too on-the-nose anyway. The Way We Were, perhaps? That would be such a killer song for you, and no matter what she thinks, Ms. Berry does not have a monopoly on the Streisand oeuvre. Or Harold Arlen's One for My Baby and One More for the Road (the Bette Midler version, not the Fred Astaire version). Oh, oh! How about Goodbye For Now? There's something so tragically romantic (or romantically tragic?) about obscure Sondheim, and the lyrics are perf–
Mercedes stands. The one person it really hurts to leave, the one person who might persuade you to stay. "Kurt..." she starts softly, her arms spread wide in protest (or embrace?). And that's it – so clear and so many are the words that fly in the air between you, she doesn't even need to voice them.
Now Mercedes is stepping forward, and you, you're backing up, your body instinctively moving to protect itself from yet another threat. You shake your head adamantly, as if that will somehow ward off the devastated look on her face, which has just become fresh grist for your regularly scheduled nightmares. You couldn't sing now if you wanted to – it's getting hard even to breath.
Ta-ta, must go, so busy, you know. Classes to register for, uniforms to buy. We'll do coffee, we'll go shopping, we'll have sleep-overs and gossip and text each other all the time. This isn't goodbye, just goodbye for now. Please, Mercedes, stay back. If you touch me I am totally going to lose it. Just pretend I sang Sondheim and we hugged and you wished me good luck. Just pretend nothing's changed and we'll see each other tomorrow. Okay? Please, for me?
This scene is unendurable. For God's sake, someone bring the curtain down! Unscripted, your tears well up, ready to fall, but you ruthlessly hold them back, because you are so damn sick of crying. You manage to choke out, "I'm sorry. I have to go," and turn, now walking quickly, grimly away from them all.
People will say this is not your bravest moment. They'll say this is not your finest hour, that you took the easy way out. Screw them! You have no interest in being a martyr so fuck all that Don Quixote bullshit about one man, scorned and covered with scars fighting the unbeatable foe and bearing with unbearable sorrow. Dammit, you have a right to be safe and happy and properly educated! And nothing about this is "easy." Leaving your friends sucks! Starting over in a new school, surrounded by strangers – especially in the middle of junior year – that takes courage. But no one else will view it that way.
No, they'll call you a coward or a wimp or whatever, gossip and snipe that you're running from Karofsky. Okay, that's partly true. But mostly, mostly you're running from that defeated, despairing, insecure little boy, the boy with no voice, the boy in the lead fear apron who is stressing his father into an early grave. You're terrified that if you stay, that boy will take over, swallow you whole and stamp out every inch of what makes Kurt Elizabeth Hummel unique and special. And without being unique and special, what's the point of being, really?
So yeah, away to Dalton, maybe not forever, maybe just until the end of this year. Or just until the money runs out, but you'll cross that bridge when you come to it. Let people think what they want. Everyone looks but they don't really see, because they don't want to see, because that would challenge them to understand and care and maybe even help. Indifference requires no effort. Being closed-minded and mean is more fun. And that's why leaving is easier than staying; why remaining silent is easier – so much easier – than telling the truth.
And we're done, thank goodness! If I ever get tempted to write a POV on another entire episode, I hope someone confiscates my computer and locks me up until the urge passes, because this was so much harder than I ever dreamed. Even so, I'm proud (and relieved!) that I finished. Once again, all dialogue is taken from the episode 'Furt'. Thank you all for seeing the story through with me to the end. Reviews would be lovely, if you have time!