"Who knows what may occur in the next breath?
In the pallor of another morning we neither
Anticipated nor wanted!"
–Carolyn Kizer, “Lines to Accompany Flowers for Eve.”
Kurt thought the Rachel Berry House Party Train Wreck Extravaganza was already living up to its name when the night got even worse. Despite it being kind of mediocre for a party—not that he’s ever actually been to one before—the karaoke and awkward snacks and all the drinking and now this game of Spin the Bottle really emphasized how much of a mess this was turning into.
Kurt was already soured by this whole thing since Blaine started drinking. Clearly, Blaine didn’t think he needed to maintain his composure and dapperness to keep Kurt’s interest, but maybe this was just Kurt’s lot in life, falling in love with all these boys who’d probably never want him back. He already knew it was pathetic. He knew he was pathetic, pining for this stupid person, but he’d read enough romance novels to not give up just yet on Blaine. He knew as soon as he’d gotten over Blaine and gotten another boy—somehow, magically—Blaine would miraculously realize his love for Kurt, but it’d be too late. Kurt was attracted to that melodrama in a way but he didn’t want their love to end tragically. Or Blaine would stick by Kurt long enough to realize Kurt was always there for him, always willing to be there, and willing to change as much as he had to. Aren’t I fitting in so well, Blaine? Aren’t I taking care of Pavarotti so well? Doesn’t my uniform look as nice and dapper as yours?
And now, of course, they were playing Spin the Bottle. He did hope bitterly to spin the bottle and for it to land on Blaine by some probability, or for Blaine to land on him. But Kurt’s turn hasn’t come yet, and Blaine had kissed Rachel. Now, he was giving her these sloppy, contemplative looks that Kurt really didn’t like the look of, and Kurt definitely recognized Rachel’s obsessive, love-struck face from that first day in the auditorium when she chased Finn around the stage while they sang Journey.
While Kurt was mulling over this, he completely missed that Puck had pulled back from Tina who’d spun him and had already spun for his next partner. He was only pulled back from his mulish thoughts when Puck said, “Oh hell no! This is not happening.”
Kurt looked up to see who Puck landed on when he realized where the bottle was pointing.
Finn thought Kurt looked rather comical when his eyes bugged out of his head like some sort of cartoon.
Kurt straightened up and said, “I rather agree. This is definitely not happening.”
“Yeah, I am not kissing him.”
Some part of him would be offended if any of the other boys had spun him and refused as firmly as Puck was, but Kurt definitely did not want to kiss Puck. Unlike Finn who was occasionally kind to Kurt in a way uncomfortably reminiscent of an abusive marriage where Kurt convinced himself that Finn liked him when he didn’t treat him well at all, Puck had never made a secret of his distaste for Kurt. Puck never even seemed to like Kurt.
Puck didn’t like Kurt at all. He liked Kurt’s girly voice and knew Kurt was a generally good person, but something about the way Kurt carried himself and flounced about really bothered him. Kurt always acted so superior and like the quintessential stereotypical queer that it kind of made Puck kind of nauseous. Plus the way Kurt outright drooled over Finn and just didn’t take a hint really put Puck off ever getting close to him, unlike the other guys, even Artie.
Puck ignored that if Kurt had pursued a girl like he’d pursued Finn right up until setting up their parents, it would have been something all of them would have supported, if not outright enough.
The whole room watching them tensed and Santana immediately smirked.
She prodded, “What, you grow a pussy now that your precious jellyroll castrated your balls and ate them for breakfast?” She tossed her hair over her shoulder and crowed, with a sing-song quality, “You a chicken now, Puck? Chicken! Chicken! We have a chic-ken! Chic-ken!”
Some of the others joined in, chanting with him.
“Guys,” Kurt said, yelling over them, “I don’t want to kiss him. I said no.”
“Always knew you didn’t have the balls, Hummel,” Santana sneered, “What? You afraid you’ll get a stiffy?”
“I said no!” Kurt insisted, “I don’t want to and he doesn’t want to and I said no.”
The others joined in, caw-cawing and making chicken noises and flapping their arms like wings. Lauren was making a bunch of derisive comments about Puck’s cowardly nature.
Both Kurt and Puck stared at them all in horror.
Puck bared his teeth and reddened and growled, “I ain’t no coward,” before grabbing Kurt by the back of the neck and forcing him forward so their lips mashed together.
Now the room crowed in success and many of them cheered. Santana toasted mockingly and downed another shot. A few of the girls clapped, and Finn wrinkled his nose in disgust, ducking his head. Blaine was staring outright, with an odd sort of look on his face and a carefully covered lap.
Kurt saw and heard none of this because Rachel’s air vent wafted Puck’s Axe body spray into his face, and he stiffened under the hand holding his jaw, the thumb pressed into his left cheek, the fingers curled around the nape of his neck like he’s about to be strangled and the muscled forearm pressed against his torso.
He’s in the locker room. He’d pushed Karofsky away, but Karofsky was so much bigger than him. Taller, thicker, stronger. He was a tall, homophobic, brunet jock just like Finn, and once upon a time that would have been attractive to him. He’d pushed him away but he was holding him again and Kurt’s so fucking small with his toothpick arms and skinny waist and pear-shaped hips. He could kick but Karofsky’s too close—he’s too close, he’s so close, he’s all around him. He can smell that skunk sweat Karofsky probably bathed himself in and the leather of his letter jacket and he knows he can’t fight him off.
He’s a man, goddammit, he never thought this could happen to him. Bullied, beaten, battered, bludgeoned maybe even to death for being exactly who he is, of course, but this…? He’s a man. This doesn’t happen to men. It’s not supposed to happen and he’s so much smaller and he’s so much bigger and Kurt can’t fight him, can’t move, can’t breathe.
And any second he’s gonna press him against the lockers—his bag is in the hallway, his phone, and no one knows where he is—and it’d be so easy for him to pull his pants down and no one would find them. There isn’t gym for seventh period and practice isn’t until four and that’s almost an hour and a half for Karofsky to—
Kurt’s a virgin. Kurt knows it’s a stupid, outdated concept to have any idea of virginity and a value on innocence contrived for marriage deals or what have you, but he’s a romantic. It’s supposed to be for his boyfriend, for his partner, for his husband. It’s supposed to be special or at least fun. It’s supposed to be for him and for himself to choose who to experience that with and Karofsky is just gonna—
Panic, fear, hatred rose in him like the tidal wave pulling back just before the tsunami.
All of this happens in the two seconds that their lips are pressed together while his tongue is pressing against his mouth, and Kurt raises a hand, curls it, and brings it down hard on Karofsky’s fat, ugly, sweaty, rapist face.
And the tsunami crashes into the shore with the cracking of two of Kurt’s knuckles and his attacker’s cheekbone.
And Puck fell hard on the ground.
“What the fuck, Hummel?!” Puck cried. Rachel, looking like she was practicing her shocked face for Broadway, rushed for her fathers’ first aid kit and Quinn was already kneeling next to him, helping him sit up.
For a second everyone stood in muted silence filled with the music from Rachel’s karaoke machine and Kurt’s gasping breaths wetting with sobs and Puck’s swears. Kurt covered his mouth in shock as everyone stared at them both. Blaine stared at Kurt in dawning horror, almost as if he knew something they didn’t.
Lauren lumbered forward, as if to deck Kurt herself in revenge, but Finn stood and Blaine hobbled to his feet to put themselves between her and him. He flinched back instinctively. Kurt, eyes glassy and red-rimmed, lifted his pained right hand to his chest and pulled his left hand from his mouth and somehow Mercedes was by his side and trying to lead him away without touching him. Finn wondered if Kurt would hit a girl.
Before now, Finn didn’t think Kurt could hit anyone, except himself that one time. Now he didn’t know anything.
After a few seconds, Kurt choked out a sob and raced for the door, Mercedes and Blaine following as best they could.
Finn was torn between staying with his injured (former?) best friend and following his step-brother. How was he supposed to choose when Kurt had flipped out and attacked Puck for playing the game by the rules? Kurt was gay, wasn’t he? Why’d he freak out over kissing Puck? Both of Finn’s girlfriends had cheated on him with Puck, and Santana had screwed him loads of times before she’d devirginized Finn, and since Kurt used to be in love with Finn shouldn’t he have been ecstatic to kiss Puck with no strings attached?
“What the fuck was that?!” Puck said, as Rachel ineffectively dabbed at his cheek with rubbing alcohol and fretted with gauze, and as Lauren crushed his hand.
“I don’t know, man,” Finn said.
“I mean,” Mike said quietly, “Kurt said he didn’t want to kiss Puck, didn’t he?”
“But that doesn’t mean Kurt gets to hit him!” Rachel argued back, “We all kissed who we had to and even Quinn kissed Mercedes when neither of them wanted it! It’s the game—Kurt has to play by the rules like everyone else. This is just like Kurt abandoning us for Dalton! He’s not playing by the rules for everyone else.”
A few of them rolled their eyes at Rachel, but no one moved to defend Kurt.
“And Blaine kissed Rachel even though he’s about as gay as our very own psycho Willy Wonka, so it’s not like you needed to find everyone hot here to get through some semblance of a kiss,” Santana said.
“I think everyone’s hot here,” Brittany interrupted, “Especially when Santana kissed Quinn.”
Santana smiled slightly at Brittany and carried on, “So Ladyface is a bitch when he doesn’t get his way. What’s new?”
“Yeah but he’s usually,” Rachel paused gingerly as she handed Puck one of her fathers’ frozen bags of organic, pesticide-free, sodium-free, GMO-free, vegan-friendly peas to hold against his cheek, “you know, more catty about it than anything. Fists are usually for people like….”
“Me,” Puck said, wincing as Lauren roughly turned his head into the bag, hissing she liked her men pretty, or otherwise bruised by her. Puck looked over at Finn and said, “Me and Finn, you mean.”
“Yeah, guys,” Artie said, “We all have to admit that Kurt doesn’t react like the normal guy.”
“That’s not fair,” Sam said half-heartedly, but everyone kept talking over him. Lauren also looked a little pissed about being left out of the assessment that she also reacted with violence, but seemed to be satisfied with twisting Puck’s earlobe in punishment.
—“Gotta admit that baby-Gargler hits like a freaking hammer to the zombie face. Put me right on my ass,” Puck murmured to Quinn who was rubbing a solvent into his quickly forming bruise.
Lauren rolled her eyes and said, “That’s because your stance was weak. You need to hold your ground otherwise the alpha deserves to be displaced by the beta.” Puck looked at her, half horrified.—
“I mean,” Sam said, louder, over many other objections about the Fist to Face Incident, “Kurt said no. No means no, right? Kurt said no, but Puck grabbed him anyway—no offense, dude—and Kurt probably just reacted out of instinct.”
“That’s completely out of line,” Tina said, firmly. “Everything was all in good fun, and everyone knew that! And it wasn’t like Puck was going to attack him or anything surrounded by all of us—”
“I’m not gay!” Puck protested.
Tina continued, “—and it’s not like Kurt had anything to be afraid of. He’s a guy.” She shot Artie a harsh look, “Even if he doesn’t usually act like a macho man, he’s still a guy.”
“Yeah,” Sam said, “but no means no and yes means yes goes for everyone. Kurt said no. That’s final.”
“But he shouldn’t have hit Puck over it!” Rachel said, “It was just a kiss!”
“Yeah,” Brittany said, loudly, “But sometimes boys’ sausages with their angry eyes want more than kisses even when other people don’t.”
Everyone looked at Brittany in shock.
She looked at everyone, pushing out her bottom lip a little as if in confusion. She explained with a shrug and a perfectly blasé face, “Kurt probably thought Puck’s sausage wanted to probe him, so he hit him and ran. That’s what Santana said to do if aliens came again like when I was probed in my tent in summer camp. The aliens hold you down and kiss you and don’t let you move. But the aliens don’t speak English and don’t understand when you tell them you just want to sleep and you don’t want to kiss anymore.” She shrugged, “Kurt didn’t want to kiss anymore. Sometimes that happens.”
Brittany turned to Santana, smiling. “I bet you taught Kurt to hit the aliens and run after I told you about his baby hands.” She grinned at everyone, gushing, “They’re even softer than mine and he liked my chapstick when we made out when he was straight that one time.”
Everyone sat quietly for a second, digesting that. Finn didn’t really get what she was saying, but everyone else looked horrified, even Sam who was reeling about Kurt ever being in the closet.
“Do you think,” Quinn said quietly, staring at Brittany hard, “Kurt’s ever been probed by the aliens, Brittany?”
“That’s not really your business,” said a high tenor voice from the doorway.
Everyone turned in unison to see Kurt, with his hand wrapped in what looks like a pink, animal print strip of cloth—which Rachel later found to be the remains of one of her favorite shirts—with Mercedes just behind him and Blaine clutching his good hand tight.
“Is your face okay?” Kurt asked.
“Dude,” Puck said, slightly muffled under Rachel’s peas, “You should join fight club because, man, you hit hard.”
“You’re so hard-headed I think you broke my hand,” Kurt said airily.
“If you ever hit my baby again I’ll take you down, flyweight, and you’ll be rolled off the mat like the home-made slime I’ll make you into,” Lauren threatened. She then said, “You probably broke a metacarpal or two because you’re probably hitting wrong. Straighten out your wrist, make a tighter fist and hit with the center knuckle.”
“Yeah,” Kurt said, laughing awkwardly, and shifting under all of their stares, “Blaine boxes. He told me I was doing it wrong too when he wrapped my hand.”
“You teaching my boy to beat me better?” Puck teased. Lauren smirked down at him and whispered something—probably dirty and flirtatious—in his ear. “When did I become ‘your boy’?” Kurt muttered, but they all didn’t hear him or ignored him.
“Kurt,” Rachel started, “I want you to know that I’m always available to talk and I can get pamphlets from my gay dads about reaffirming your identity after surviving same-sex sexual ass—”
“No. Stop,” Kurt said. He shook his head and finally said, “I’m sorry for hitting your face, Puck. I panicked. Don’t grab me out of nowhere and try and put your tongue in my mouth and I won’t try and break your cheekbone.”
“There was no tongue!”
“And if you ever want to experiment with your sexuality,” Kurt said, talking over him, “I recommend literally anyone else, because I’m liable to bite your tongue right off if you ever try again. Or you can buy me something from the Prada Autumn/Winter 70s inspired collection. One of the coats preferably. And throw in some Jimmy Choos, your girlfriend can watch you experiment with me. And if you can get a McQueen along with all of that, I’m amicable to the discussion of a threesome.”
After a second to gauge Puck’s and Lauren’s reactions—Puck of red-faced horror and Lauren of bold-faced intrigue—most of the room burst into laughter.
But later, when everyone is past their hangovers and well-rested and alone, many of them wonder about Brittany’s alien invasion and Quinn’s unanswered question and Kurt’s wrapped up fist. They wonder about for the next week and a half it takes for Puck’s cheek to heal, remembering every time they see the motley colored bruise as it heals mosaically.
Some of them wonder longer.
All of them move on.