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Red, White, and Skintight Polyester

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Kurt realizes the truth while his face is pressed uncomfortably against the inside of a locker, clothes rumpled and a bump forming on his forehead from the impact against the cold metal.

He is not going to survive high school.

Kurt is very self aware, despite what his classmates think, and knows he was bullied for many reasons, not the least of which are his clothes, feminine voice, short stature and baby face. Only one of those was something he can change, which meant if he doesn't come up with something soon, the bullying is going to follow him into his freshman year. And high school bullies? Much, much worse than those at North Lima Middle School.

So, after asking around, he finds out roughly what he can do.

1) Change absolutely everything about himself
2) Transfer out of state
3) Join a sport
4) Accept the inevitable bullying

His future looks dim.

The obvious choice is to join a sport, except Kurt has no skills in any of them. His small frame means he probably isn't going to do hockey or basketball, his terrible aim meant baseball is off the table and the volleyball team is bullied because they suck, not that he is any good at volleyball.

Which leaves football.

Sitting down to watch the game with his dad is new. He and his dad had bonded over cars more than anything else, and it is routine for him to avoid watching sports with his dad. So when he sits down one night in his matching pajama set, Burt gives him some strange looks, but decides not to ask, thankfully. He really doesn't feel like being laughed at tonight.

Watching the game, it is clear that if he is going to have to try out for football, there is only one spot for him. The kicker is the smallest player on the field, and doesn't get mauled like the rest of the players. Promising. But then he sees the cheerleaders, and a light-bulb flashes. Kurt always says he has no athletic skill, but that is wrong. He had taken five years of gymnastics and eleven years of ballet, which left him with a dancers body and enough strength and agility to be a cheerleader. He can definitely make the..what are they called...the Cheerios. That is a guarantee he doesn't have with the football team and, from the rumors around the school, the Cheerios coach is vicious, which means even though he would be a male cheerleader, he can't get bullied too badly in case it damages his ability to perform.

His decision is made by the time school is over for the year. He figures, though, that his best friends, Tina and Artie, will probably try and talk him out of it, so he doesn't tell them about his plan.

Summer is a blur of all of his responsibilities and it feels like he never gets a chance to breathe, what with ballet, voice lessons, training for his cheer tryouts, working at the garage for the first time, summer homework and spending time with Tina and Artie. His body aches by the end of his run every night, and he has to up his skincare routine with how much he is sweating.

Also, after hours of deliberation and trying to talk himself out of it, he reluctantly decides to tone down most of his wardrobe, leaving his more outré styles for special occasions and buying simpler styles with more muted colors, along with more workout clothes since his ballet ones aren't good for all of his training. It isn't his favorite decision but he decides he can stay fashionable without painting a huge target on his back. He still mopes for days after packing up most of his clothes, though.

 


 

When the first of September dawns, Kurt wakes up at five thirty, stretches and then changes into a large sweatshirt and workout pants. He ties up his sneakers, sticks his earbuds in his ears and starts his morning jog.

The leaves have only just began to fall, the trees a soft mixture of greens, oranges, browns and reds. The weather is a little cool in the mornings and at night now but warmer still during the day. He breathes in the crisp air, his cheeks pink from the wind. He sings along softly to the music in his ears but uses the time to center himself. It is like moving meditation.

By the time he gets back inside his house, he is panting and sweaty but wide awake with only an hour until his dad will take him to school. Kurt takes his time in the shower, scrubs himself down with expensive products and replaces the smell of sweat with a sharp, clean, manly scent his father had convinced him to buy, instead of the fruity scents he likes.

After his shower, he sits down in front of the mirror and exfoliates, moisturizes and applies toner to his skin to even out his skin tone. He blows his hair dry and runs a brush through the soft brown locks before he sprays them into his usual neat side-sweep. He pulls on relatively loose blue jeans that are a far cry from his usual skinnies and slips a light brown, form-fitting sweater over a lavender button up. He tightens his ankle boots that are just androgynous enough to avoid an asskicking and then stares at himself in his mirror. He looks good and his new clothes enhance his best features.

"Kurt, are you up?"

His dad calls down the stairs, voice gruff from sleep and Kurt shouts up an affirmative before rising from his vanity and slinging his tan messenger bag over his shoulder. He climbs up the stairs to get his breakfast and sits down at the table with some fresh fruit he had prepared last night and a few slices of toast. He watches his dad stumble around the kitchen, still half asleep as he waits for his coffee to finish brewing.

"Oh, you look- Is that what you are wearing today?" His dad blinks at him, looking just a tad puzzled.

Kurt quirks a fond smile at him. "Yes, why? Don't you like it?"

"No, it looks nice. It's just a lot simpler than what you've usually worn to school. No crazy colors or patterns or ten layers."

"I haven't worn anything like that in a month at least," Kurt says as he watches his dad with amusement.

"I thought that was because it was warm. Anyway, I'm staying late at the garage tonight since you don't have any classes. Thankfully, McKinley is close enough you should be able to walk home." Burt sits down and they continue talking over breakfast, leaving the house fifteen minutes later.

 


 

 

McKinley is much bigger than North Lima and the sheer numbers of red letterman jackets make him want to head home already.

Stepping out of his dad's car is a reality check and kills his high spirits right then. He spots some of his old bullies, looking bigger and meaner, hanging out with other Neanderthals who probably have come from the other two middle schools. He ducks his head when he passes them, going as fast as possible without alerting them, and thanks Armani that he had the idea of toning down his wardrobe.

It had been a hard but wise decision, even though he had felt he was betraying himself, but now none of the idiots who would have recognized him then notice him now in his new clothes. They are muted and boyish enough that he can slip into the crowd unnoticed. That means it is a bushy-haired ginger with hideous glasses who is grabbed and tossed into the dumpster instead of him.

Dumpsters? He could be thrown into a horrid, germ-laden school dumpster?! Just the thought alone makes him feel like he is going to hyperventilate.

The day passes similarly as he dodges locker slams, swirlies and a new one where you're drenched in ice-cold slushies that he is so relieved he avoided because getting slushies daily would be hell on his pores and his dry cleaning bills.

Classes are pretty average, which he expected, and a little below his abilities as usual. He isn't super smart, but Lima has such a low quality of education it is easy for him to be above the class by even a little bit. However, the French II class, in particular, is so below his level, he is almost offended.

He listens to his neighbor's choppy sentences during conversation time, deems him unlikely to throw him in a locker and proceeds to run circles around him verbally in the language. He answers the questions in rude ways and insults the other boy while he gapes unattractively and tries to figure out what Kurt is saying. Madame Abelle looks at him appraisingly throughout the class, but she doesn't reprimand him when he says things he probably isn't supposed to in class.

Later, just as he is exiting the restroom, he runs into her.

"I can't tell if you used the wrong bathroom or if you're here for 'Bring Your Prepubescent Child To Work' Day."

Kurt looks up and finds a Latina girl in a super-tight t-shirt and short-shorts staring at him in disdain, her long, silky black hair wild like someone's hands had been running through it.

"Excuse me?"

"Seriously, whatever look you were going for, you missed. I'm afraid nothing goes with baby fat."

If he hadn't become so accustomed to blending in today, he probably would have kept his mouth shut but he has gotten almost a full day without any rude comments or physical bullying, so his tongue is a little loose.

"Do your parents even realize they're living proof that two wrongs don't make a right?"

"I'd tell you to go fuck yourself but that would be cruel and unusual punishment." The girl snaps back.

"That's okay, because the thought of the diseases you've contracted in your life brings about similar reactions for me."

The girl opens her mouth to respond, fire in her eyes, but the bell rings just then and Kurt decides he doesn't care enough about this to be late. He brushes past her without even looking back. Which means he doesn't have a chance to see her smirk at him, watching his retreating form with interest.

After school, Kurt manages to bully his way into the line for Cheerios sign-ups, remorselessly forcing himself between two girls who will very obviously not get in. When he signs up, he notices a few of the girls he saw wouldn't even be allowed to try out, thanks to the bold declaration of 'NO FATTIES!' on the sign-up sheet. He gets out of the line, hikes up his messenger bag and makes for the front door. He doesn't pay any attention to what is going on around him until he bumps into a tall, leggy blonde.

"Oh! Excuse me, I'm sorry!"

He moves quickly to stabilize the girl and looks up a few inches to find a familiar girl looking dazed.

 "Oh! Brittany, right? We're in ballet together."

Her eyes brighten and she gives him a huge smile. "That's right, you're the boy I couldn't figure out if you were a girl or not until I saw you in your tights for a performance."

Kurt gives her a dry smile but knows enough about her to know she isn't being intentionally mean.

"My name's Kurt."

"It's really nice to meet you, Kurt. I love making new friends and you have wonderful balance. Your coupé jeté en tournant is flawless, which means you're probably a really nice person. Did you know the moves you excel in in ballet can say stuff about your personality?"

"Really? I've never heard that before. Tell me about it?"
Brittany gives him another huge smile, giving him the feeling that most people probably think shes crazy whenever she talks. She wraps her fingers around his bicep and leads him down the hall, chattering about ballet terms and what you could tell about a person from them. They say goodbye in front of the school where she heads towards the parking lot and he turns toward the school gates.

Kurt walks home, which takes him about a half an hour and his feet ache inside his new boots by the time he steps in the house. He slips them off and goes into his room, washing the product out of his hair before he starts cooking. He slips off his sweater when it heats up in the kitchen from the stove, and opens a few buttons on his shirt, hair curling from the steam of the boiling water.

By the time his dad clunks into the house, baked manicotti was on the dining table and Kurt is the very picture of domestic comfort, relaxed in a way he never is at school. He and his dad talk about their day over the meal and by 9 o'clock he's finished with his homework and his nightly run. He showers and once again sits at his vanity to moisturize, but his mind is preoccupied as he plans his routine for his cheer tryouts on Wednesday.

Chapter Text

By the time his tryouts roll around, Kurt knows a little more about Coach Sue Sylvester and her Cheerios.

Coach is a terrifying woman who bullies students, does whatever she wants and seems to hate everyone. She insults everyone in a fairly pleasant conversational tone, she has won Cheerleading Nationals for years - although Kurt has forgotten how many - and she would kill for her precious Cheerios.

The Cheerios consist mostly of pretty, skinny girls who train until they drop - which they often do - and they worship and fear Coach Sylvester equally. She in-turn lavishes gifts and treats like mani-pedis and shopping trips on her team and nearly half the school's budget is spent on them, Kurt is sure of it.

Kurt also knows by now to duck into the nearest empty classroom or crowd if he spy's someone walking down the hallway carrying a slushie. He learns to enter from different doors in the morning to avoid the dumpster and that toning down his outfits was the best idea he's ever had. He is not only more stylish but the bullying incidents have gone down a shocking amount, now that he just looks preppy instead of like a 'faggot'. Kurt has learned the cold way that brightly-colored tops and bottoms are not to be worn at the same time.

Brittany is also friendlier during their weekly ballet class and even sat with him at lunch on Wednesday when she said her friend Santana was busy. Brittany seems to be semi-popular, but he isn't sure if that is because she is pretty or because she's so nice. She's his first new friend since Tina started sitting with him and Artie back in seventh grade. They talk about classes and dance and random conversations he isn't always able to follow. Brittany has a unique view on life, and it's almost refreshing to listen to after the data-filled, purely intellectual conversations of his middle school days. It felt, sometimes, like Artie and Tina couldn't talk without big words and sources and constant debates. Brittany sometimes talks about the clouds she'd seen that morning.

She walks with him to the gym after school, clutching her books to her chest, and talks about a new blog by this freshman, Jacob Ben Israel, who apparently joined the school newspaper but was disappointed at the types of articles they wanted him to write. She waits outside the locker room while Kurt changes into a tank top and athletic shorts that were tighter than the average basketball ones that everyone else wore. He doesn't need the extra fabric hindering his auditions.

Inside the gym, girls and a few boys sit in the bleachers, their nervous chatter quiet as all eyes stay pinned to a tall woman in a hideous red tracksuit sitting at a table with a list of names in front of her.

Kurt and Brittany scuttle towards the bleachers and sit down near the front.

For the next half an hour, they watch some good tryouts and some truly horrible ones. There are a few girls who could do well in cheer and ones who can't even do a simple dance routine. After almost all of them, Coach Sylvester verbally tears into them, which leaves half the girls in tears. The two boys who try out were fairly good, nothing special, but it was unusual for a boy to try out unless he knew he had a good chance to get in, so neither of them were terrible.

"Hummel, Kurt!"

Coach Sylvester's bark startles him from his quiet conversation with Brittany but he stands quickly, walking to the center and waiting for her signal to start. After a wave of her hand, he selects a song on his phone, sets it aside and quickly jumps into the routine he had come up with.

It is filled with fluid arm movements and fancy footwork, his hips moving fluidly to the beat. It's a bit more dance than cheer but it's energetic and has cheer moves sprinkled through it. He ends with a back flip that flows directly into a side split. His cheeks are flushed by the end and he's a little winded but it's worth it for the interested look on the Coach's face.

Brittany's loud clapping shatters the quiet after the music ends and Kurt shoots her a thankful smile.

Coach nods as Kurt looks up at her. "That was something, Hummel. I didn't hate the song choice and it is the type of music we usually run our routines with. Where did you find the choreography?"

He swings his legs back into a sitting position before standing up and running his fingers through his sweaty hair.

"I choreographed it myself, Coach. I couldn't find a routine I liked anywhere so I created one," Kurt explains, his stomach twisted with nerves. She just nods and dismisses him.

Outside the gym, after he has grabbed his bag and changed into his street clothes, Brittany chatters about how cool his dance had been. She announces very seriously that it's a certain thing he would get in because Coach hadn't yelled at him, and how she knows he will make it because Lord Tubbington told her so.

"Kurt! Let's get a move on buddy!" Burt yells from his truck as he rolls the window down. Kurt indicates he's coming and turns to Brittany.

"I really appreciate you coming to support me, Brit; it meant a lot to me." He smiles and looks up into the kind girl's face. Brittany beams and throws her arms around him, nearly knocking him over. After a short, tight hug, she pulls away and steps back.

"You have my number, don't forget to text me," She reminds him. "I promise I'll answer this time and not Lord Tubbington."

Kurt gives her his promise to text her that night and climbs into his dad's truck, smiling because of his good day. And then his dad has to ruin it.

"Who was that? She was pretty," Burt says casually as he glances over at his flushed son. He takes the pink in his cheeks as embarrassment, a crush, not knowing it was from physical exertion.

"That was Brittany, Dad; she's in my ballet class. Please, don't insinuate what you're insinuating. It's really not like that."

"She doesn't see you like that?" His dad asks sympathetically but Kurt wrinkles his nose and gives him an annoyed look.

"We're purely friends as a mutual decision, neither of us has even thought about being anything else. I'm not into her, dad."

Burt hums in a noncommittal way and Kurt tries to ignore the feeling he's disappointed his dad.

 


 

Two days later, Kurt's button-up and scarf combination and hair get drenched in blue slushie and he's frustrated to find he doesn't have hair spray or gel in his bag. So, after washing himself off and stripping his shirt to rinse, he was stuck with a plain black T-shirt that is a little more snug than he usually wore and unkept hair that wouldn't stay down. He huffed at his reflection in frustration before he washed out his clothes and stuck them in a plastic bag inside his backpack.

He left the restroom just as the bell trilled above him and he navigated the crowded halls quickly. He had just darted past a smug hockey player when a soft hand wrapped around his and tugged him in a different direction.

"Brittany! I don't have time right now; I have to get to history!" He insisted, trying to tug out of her grasp. She just pulled him forward harder and darted into an emptying hallway before she shoved him inside a room and then into another room.

"Good job, Brittany. Hummel, I had Brittany looking for you everywhere. Do try to stick to areas where my girls can easily grab you."

Kurt stared at Coach Sylvester before he nodded slowly. He knew it was best to just agree to everything where the tyrant was concerned. He looked around the room and saw that, other than Brittany, there were two girls in there. One was slender and blonde and very innocent-looking, with her peasant top and conservative pink skirt. But her face was pursed in a bitchy expression, contrasting with the glinting cross on her necklace. Next to bitchy church girl is the Latina he had run into on the first day in school, looking just as slutty and mean as she did then.

"Is there a reason you called us here Coach?" Bitchy Christian asked, crossing her arms. Coach Sylvester leaned back in her chair as her eyes trailed over them.

"As of today, I have finished my tryouts - all except for the last few girls who signed up to try out after school today. But those who can't bully their way into the top of the sheet are very rarely anyone I want on my team. However, after watching you all tryout, I know for a fact I want you four on my team. You are my most promising freshmen which put you in an advantage on my team. You three," and she nodded at Kurt and the two girls he didn't know, "are vicious and ambitious. The type of Cheerios I need on my team. And Brittany - you are raw talent and so eager to please all I have to do is tell you how high. So I'm telling you four in person that you got in. I'm giving  you your uniforms early and explaining how things work."

Kurt blinked at all of the information and watched bitchy blonde and cruel slut smirk at the information. Coach set a stack of red and white uniforms on her desk.

"What do we have to do?" Kurt was sure that the Coach wouldn't just hand them uniforms and send them on their way.

"I'll tell you, Porcelain. On Monday, you four will wear your uniforms to school, showing everyone you are my chosen freshmen. You will present a united front, so expect to see nothing but each other for weeks. You will be close and best friends even if you despise each other. You will sit at the Cheerios table, you will stay in shapemand you will not show weakness. Understood?"

"Yes, Coach."

Coach Sylvester left them in her office for the rest of the period, after explaining she was off to terrorize a students. Kurt learned that the other girls were Santana and Quinn, and that Santana and Brittany had been close in middle school. He had also been insulted at least ten times.

"We should probably get together this weekend to get to know each other better, if we're going to be on each other's asses for the foreseeable future. We can have a sleepover or some shit, gay face can leave before midnight." Santana said as she filed her nails. Kurt was having trouble imagining any of them getting along, with their differing personalities. As it was, he already wanted to yank Santana's extensions from her head.

"We could have it at my house. My parents don't care if boys sleepover," Brittany suggested as she looked up from her phone.

"Well mine do, so he can't stay." Quinn snaps. Kurt sneers at her, tapping his foot as he daydreams about the vogue he left at home.

"It will have to be tonight, I have work tomorrow. We should add eachother on Facebook to keep in touch, we can do a group chat on there." Kurt offers. They whipped out their phones to send and accept friend requests and agreed to talk to their parents about going to Brittany's. Suddenly, Quinn paused.

"You're fourteen... how do you have a job? That's like.. illegal."

"Not if you work at a family-owned business. Anyway, I'll be fifteen in two months so it's not like my dad hired me super young."

Quinn gave him a look he couldn't decipher but the conversation ended at the bell. They grabbed their things and left as Kurt promised Brittany he would wait for her at her locker after school.

......

Kurt's classes dragged and he doodled in his notebooks instead of paying attention to information he had already learned. Coach Sylvester had given them the cheer schedules and he was lucky that they fell on days he didn't have ballet or vocal lessons. Also he was glad there were no weekend classes because he was already swamped with lessons, work and cheer. He just couldn't give either Ballet or Vocal Lessons up, both were important to what he wanted to do with his life. However, if life got anymore crowded, he was going have to drop ballet, no matter how much it sucked. Maybe heccould still do it in the summer?

 

"So... my parents said it's fine if everyone comes over tonight, and that if your dad's cool with it you can spend the night," Brittany informed him after school. They walked with their pinkies linked as their hands swung between them. Brit said it was something she and Santana always did so while he let her do it, he had mixed feelings. On one hand, it gave him pleasure to do anything that would piss off the Latina but, on the other hand, Santana was terrifying.

"I still have to ask, and I haven't even told my dad I was going to try out for cheer let alone that I did and I got in. So I'll do my best to come but I might be a little late." He sighed and swung their linked hands gently. A curly-haired kid he recognized as Jacob Ben Israel, darted past him, shoving him into Brittany as he tried to outrun two jocks he had apparently managed to piss off. Kurt steadied Brittany and himself but glared after the short Jew.

"Anyway, my dad's picking me up today so I have to go. I'll text you, okay?" Kurt said goodbye before he jogged to where he could see his dad's truck.

Kurt managed to avoid telling his dad the news for two hours but, after a few scathing texts from Santana, he walked out to the living room where his dad was watching a fishing show and cleared his throat.

"Dad, can I talk to you?"

Burt turned around on the couch and leveled a concerned his son look on his son. "Sure, bud, what's on your mind?"

Kurt shuffled in place, nervous without a good reason.

"Remember when I started exercising more at the beginning of the summer?" His dad nodded. "I tried out for a sport a few days ago. And... I got in."

Burt grinned and clapped the back of the couch with one of his large hands. "That's amazing! What team did you join? I didn't think you were a sports type of guy, kid."

Burt's happy expression turned confused when his son continued looking like he was going to throw up. "Kurt?"

"Dad, I joined cheerleading."

Silence dragged on after his confession as Burt blinked at him, clearly trying to absorb this information. Eventually, though, he smiled - not as wide as before but without the disappointment Kurt expected. His dad still looked genuinely happy for him and Kurt breathed easier.

"That is something you'd be good at, isn't it? And you made the team? You're a cheerleader now?"

"Yeah, Coach Sylvester was really impressed. I was one of four freshmen who got told that we got in early, and she said we were the best who tried out!" Kurt smiled, proud of himself. He sat on the couch and they discussed his choice, the team, the coach, and his tryouts. Kurt was beaming by the end of it and only remembered what he needed to ask when his phone buzzed again.

"Oh! Dad, the other three freshmen on the Cheerios decided to get together tonight to get to know each other. One of them's Brittany, my friend? It's going to be at her house. Can I go hang out until curfew?"

Burt frowned, but couldnt deny his son when he looked so happy.

"Go ahead. But be back by midnight!"

......

"You're late, babyfat, get your ass in here," Santana greeted him, hip braced against the front door and hair tied up in a tight, high ponytail. Kurt sashayed past her and headed for Brittany's room as Santana followed him. Brittany and Quinn were sitting on the bed, a bag of low-fat chips between them as they talked about theeir Spanish teacher.

"Señor Shuester? He speaks choppy Spanish and knows less than a Spanish III student," Santana snorted as she moved to kneel behind Brittany with a hairbrush. It seemed like they were all putting their hair into the high pony, which made sense because Kurt was pretty sure all the girls had to wear their hair like that until the end of the season.

"You guys take Spanish? I'm thinking about doubling up on languages next year instead of taking two electives." Kurt sat in a puffy chair by the bed and tucked his bare  feet underneath him.

"What do you take now?" Quinn asked, potato chip held delicately between two fingers.

Brittany spoke up. "Kurt is like super good at French. He speaks it in ballet all the time. Our instructor loves him because of it."

"Miss Cerise loves me because I listen to what she says and I practice enough that I don't suck," Kurt corrected her. "But, yes, I am much further ahead than any of the French II students."

"And you take ballet? How gay can you be?" Santana quipped as she tightened Brittany's pony before collapsing on the bed. "Seriously. I mean, what are you doing with your hair? And is that a woman's coat?"

Kurt jerked back in surprise, a hand flying up to where he had redone his neat hair after school before he looked down at his plum Burberry coat.

"Is there something wrong with how I look?" He snapped defensively. Santana and Quinn shared a look before both of them stood from the bed, twin ponys swaying.

"You look like an uptight prude and you dress like an old woman. If you're going to be a Cheerio, you are going to have to do something about that," Quinn states.

Kurt leaned back in the chair and gave them both suspicious looks. The next thing he knew, he was being held in place by Quinn as Santana asked Brit to bring her hair gel, a spray bottle and a blow-dryer.

Ten minutes later, they had washed all the hair spray out of his hair and dried it, leaving it wild and some strands slightly curly. Santana put a small amount of gel on her fingers and started running her hands through the dark mop, messing it up even more. It took her about eight minutes to get it to fall the way she wanted but eventually she stood back.

"There. Now, instead of looking like an eleven-year old milkmaid, you look like a freshly-fucked thirteen-year-old milkmaid," she announced proudly. Kurt scowled but Brittany stepped in before Kurt could tell Santana to go shove her slutty self off of a cliff.

"It actually does make you look older, Kurtie. And hot. I think you should keep it like that."

"He will be. Because if he decides to disgrace the team with that disgusting sidesweep again, I will personally hang him from the flagpole,"  Quinn declared, her voice final.

Kurt had planned on arguing but when he looked in the mirror he actually liked what he saw, which made him scowl some more. Since June, he had completely changed his look and it irritated him to admit that he looked really good now. And he was still wearing designer clothing. He just looked less like someone off a runway in Paris and more like an actual person.

He still hated to admit that he was wrong in thinking that if it was designer he would look good in it.

......

Come Monday morning, he went on his usual jog, spent a little more time than usual in the shower when he got back and glared at his reflection the entire time he styled his hair. He pulled on his red and white uniform, noticing how it clung to him and made him look thinner. He slipped on white sneakers and gazed sadly at his designer shoes before he grabbed his school bag. The group chat was already full of Santana bitching and Brittany asking if she had done her ponytail right, with Quinn talking about the Football tryouts for this week and wondering if she would know any of the players from middle school.

The girls were waiting for him in the parking lot, dressed identically in their Cheerios uniform of short skirts and clingy tops, hair in ponytails on top of their head. He took a second to notice how different they all look from when they wore their street clothes, and now how similar they all looked in the uniform. He wondered how in their normal outfits they all clashed, but dressed up in their Cheerio uniforms they slide together.

Then Quinn saw him and whistled before she flashed a thumbs up. Santana and Brittany linked pinkies, Quinn moved to Santana's right and Kurt toBrittany's left. Then they moved as a unit into the school as students stopped to stare and other Cheerios gave them appraising looks.

And all Kurt could think?

High School is going to be way different than Middle School.

Chapter Text

Within the next two weeks, several important things happened. Firstly, Cheer practice started and Kurt discovered that Coach Sylvester was just as brutal and cruel as she was rumored to be. They practiced for two hours, three days a week, and Coach barely let them breathe. The first practices were intro and basic cheers for football games, but an older Cheerio warned them that, by October, they would start competitive routines in preparation for Sectionals - and then it would get really hard. Coach Sylvester was all about perfection, unity and what she called 'self awareness', but really it was just the attitude that you were better than everyone else.

Secondly, football practice started and Quinn and Santana dragged Kurt and Brittany to watch the practices on days that Coach let the four of them out early because they had already mastered the moves the team was practicing. Santana spent the entire time running commentary on who was hot and who was soo not. Quinn kept her eyes firmly on the quarterback - "I just want to understand what I'm cheering for!" - and Brittany shared healthy snacks with Kurt and discussed everything from ballet class to the newest episode of a fashion show they both enjoyed. Kurt, however, kept his eyes firmly away from the sweaty teenage boys for reasons he couldn't pin down himself.

Lastly, they became popular. People knew who they were and a good many of them desperately wanted to get to know them personally. Rumors circled the school about their sharp tongues and bitchy attitudes. Kurt had already made two people cry because they had said something offensive to him and didn't care. When the foursome walked down the hallways, people flinched. It was like they were four jocks carrying extra large slushies.

At the Cheerios' table, lower-ranked girls tried to get on their good side and a few of them were pretty pathetic in how much they craved to be their friends. And while the four weren't as popular or feared as older, top Cheerios, they quickly stepped over anyone who wasn't favored by Coach Sylvester. Luckily, Kurt, Santana, Brittany and Quinn actually became close friends and hung out for other reasons than having been ordered to. Of course, with all this popularity, it wasn't long before Quinn and Santana got boyfriends. By the beginning of October, their foursome had two tag-alongs.

"Hey, are you gonna eat that?" A large tanned hand grabbed the uneaten apple from Kurt's tray and he scowled at the neanderthal Santana was now dating.

Noah Puckerman - Puck to everyone but the teachers - was crude and barbaric, grossly flirting with anything in a skirt, and in charge of nearly all dumpstering. In the week he had known the football player, Puck had insulted Kurt at least 15 times and had tried to get him to talk about the Cheerios in a dirty way twice. After the second time, Puck called him a fag and left to make out with Santana. Kurt thought he was disgusting.

"Dude, when you ask, you're supposed to let them respond!" Another boy whacked Puck on the arm before he grinned apologetically at Kurt.

That was Finn Hudson, Puck's best friend and Quinn's boyfriend. Finn was the complete opposite of Puck - sweet, naive, thoughtful and kind of like a giant puppy who tended to stumble over his own feet. Kurt thought he was the most decent guy he'd met in ages. He returned the giant boy's smile and prayed his cheeks didn't heat up. He continued eating his sandwich as he watched Puck and Finn fool around. He was too distracted by Finn's attractive face, however, to notice Brittany watching him.

So, instead of their usual weekend 'girls' nights, Santana and Quinn ditched to go on dates. Kurt and Brittany continued to hang out anyway.

[One Unread Message]
SANT...,QUINN,BRITT...,
-9:30 pm-
Santana Lopez: U bitches will Not believe the article Jewfro just posted!
//Link Attached//
Quinn Fabray: The Unholy Trinity??? I don't know how I feel about that...
Brittany S. Pierce: Y am I not part of it
Brittany S. Pierce: That kinda sux
Kurt Hummel: It's likely because people like you Brit. The three of us aren't nice like you.
Quinn Fabray: Yeah Brittany, it's a good thing he didn't include you.
Brittany S. Pierce: I still feel left out :(
Santana Lopez: dont feel bad britbrit we know ur the best
[Brittany S. Pierce is offline]
Kurt Hummel: I hope she's okay...
[Kurt Hummel is offline]
[Quinn Fabray is offline]
Santana Lopez: U all suk u ruined my gud mood!
[Santana Lopez is offline]

Unfourtunately, the name stuck. Puck refused to call them anything else and even Coach Sylvester picked it up. Brittany, though, frowned every time they were called it and would stare at the two couples at lunch. Kurt grew a little worried but everything stagnated until he went over to Brittany's house after a rough practice one day.

They lounged around in their uniforms, Kurt resting on the ground as he painted Brit's toenails and gossiped about a few of the worst Cheerios. Soft pop music played from a pink, bedazzled radio on the ground and Kurt could hear Mr. and Mrs. Pierce cooking in the kitchen. When Brittany got quiet, though, Kurt looked up and his forehead wrinkled in worry that quickly turned to confusion. Brittany stared at him with an unreadable expression for a minute before she climbed off the bed and into his lap. Without a word, she shoved her lips onto Kurt's before he could say anything.

The kiss was uncoordinated and dry, with a little more force than he thought it should have, and his eyes widened in surprise before he pulled himself together and gently pushed Brit back by her shoulders.

Brittany didn't meet his eyes and her lower lip trembled. She wrapped her arms around herself but didn't get up from Kurt's lap. He sat quietly for a few minutes before he asked softly: "Why, Brit?"

Her face was sad as she murmured, all in one breath: "Isn't that what boys and girls do? Santana and Quinn kiss boys like that. Am I not good enough? Sanny always talks about how boys don't like girls who don't put out but I'm scared you're going to find a pretty girl and leave me all alone because you three are more popular than me and you even get a nickname and I'm just a dumb girl-"

Brittany's breathing hitched and her body trembled as she fell apart in front of him. She broke down into sobs and Kurt tugged her forward, laying her face in the crook of his neck as he rubbed her back comfortingly. He whispered softly while she cried and told her that he loved her, though not like that. He reminded his sobbing friend that he wouldn't leave her, that she wasn't dumb and that any boy would be lucky to have such a kind girl, even if she didn't "put out". He told her that the three of them cared about her a lot and, just because that curly-haired freak didn't think she was worth writing about, it didn't mean no one liked her.

It took nearly half an hour to calm her down and with some fancy footwork, Kurt got permission from hs dad to spend the night. He spent all night listing Brit's best qualities and joking around until her bright smile came back. He also made sure to fix the damage Santana had done and made her promise that she would NEVER have sex with a boy if she didn't want to. He told her that she should wait until she was ready for it, whether she was ready the next week or three years from now. He steadily avoided thinking about how that had been his first kiss and the fact that it had done nothing for him to be kissed by a beautiful girl; obviously, no girl gave him the feelings he was told they should - feelings like a certain Finn Hudson inspired.

......

That week, the four were tight once again, though Santana was moody after being told by Kurt that, thanks to her backwards thinking, she had inadvertently pressured Brittany into stressing about sex.

Life went on. Puck was disgustingly sexual and yet he and Santana denied being boyfriend and girlfriend. Finn was charming and a bit airheaded, and practice was exhausting. The football team, the Titans' season had started and while Kurt was pleased to see his dad come to the games to watch him cheer, he also learned what it was like to cheer for a losing team.

The Cheerios went out to eat after the second game, along with the football team, and Kurt got squished into a booth with the girls, Finn and Puck, two other Cheerios he wasn't close with and two quiet football players, Mike Chang and Matt Rutherford. The last two were okay guys and while they didn't talk much, Kurt was able to draw Mike into a discussion on dancing early on and later had a quiet conversation with Matt about the Math class they shared. All in all, they seemed fairly nice and better than a good majority of the team.

Kurt ran in completely different circles than he would have without the Cheerios, meaning he never really noticed any of the less popular kids, including those who were part of the Glee club. So, one day when he ran into a short, loud girl who proudly exclaimed that her name was Rachel Berry and that the Glee club was looking for members, he didn't think much beyond: 'So this is the girl Quinn hates passionately', 'What an ugly sweater' and 'Doesn't that pervert Ryerson run Glee? I'd rather die than spend time with both Berry and that kid-toucher'.

[New Message(s)]
THE FOUR MUSKE-CHEERIOS
-11:52 am-
Kurt Hummel: Guess who I just ran into?
Brittany S Pierce: Lord Tubbington?
Kurt Hummel:....Brit did you bring Lord Tubbington to school in your backpack again?
Kurt Hummel: Anyway, nevermind. Rachel Berry? The short annoying girl who joins everything? Just ruined my day by making me look at that hideous outfit of hers.
Kurt Hummel: HER PATTERNS ARE TOTALLY CLASHING!!
Quinn Fabray: She is so obnoxious, she never shuts up in Chastity Club. Want me to slushy her?
Kurt Hummel: You know I never bully people. But I guess I wouldn't cry if that mostrosity she calls a shirt ends up being stained in blue. Not that I would ever condone a slushie I SAW
Quinn Fabray: Message recieved.
-12:08 pm-
Brittany S Pierce: Guys??? I cant find Lord Tubbington

So, as time passed, he completely forgot about the Glee club as he hung out with only the popular kids and connected with the Cheerios.

They passed Sectionals with ease and Kurt was so happy, when he got to school the next day, he threw his arms around the first person he reached in his group.

Puck startled but humored the slender boy by patting his back until he moved away. Then, when Kurt saw Brit, they squealed loudly and left to go happily trash talk the competition for Regionals with Santana.

Life is good.

Chapter Text

"Sometimes I wonder why Coach Sylvester is allowed around children. Isn't it against child endangerment laws?" Quinn complained as she rubbed oil into her sore thighs and groaned at the pain. Kurt spared a look at her from the corner of his eye, but didn't cease his painting. Brittany's nails shimmered a pretty glass pink and she wiggled them to watch the light bounce off.

"Child endangerment means nothing compared to a wall of trophies," Kurt reminded Quinn. "Als, McKinley doesn't enforce no-bullying rules, no matter who."

He hummed and finished Brit's pinky with a flourish before capping the bottle of polish. He spun to face Santana who handed over her own nails that were still tragically polish-free. Quinn's sparkled with Cinderella blue and his own toenails were a bold Navy I Do. He was a firm believer in SinfulColors nail polish and his girls were happy with the quality. He held up a bottle for Santana to see and smirked.

"And for you, my little she-devil, we have Whore Red. It'll look great with your complexion and your Cheerios uniform."

Santana narrowed her eyes at him but didn't move her hands and the corners of her lips tilted up.

"She killed us with suicides today! Because she felt like it!" Quinn complained, sitting back up and fixing her blonde hair which was up in a pony, as  usual. It made her look more severe when her hair was up but the Hello Kitty headband Brittany had put on her softened her features.

Kurt hummed in agreement again but the topic changed when Santana started talking about Jacob Ben Israel's newest article on them, calling them actual witches who used their powers to get their way. Kurt felt proud when he saw that Brittany didn't even pause in what she'd been doing, finally okay with the image the school had shoved onto them.

 

Kurt admited he hadn't noticed immediately when the dynamic at their table had changed but, one day when Brittany had refused to sit in her own chair - for reasons he didn't understand - and instead sat in his lap during lunch, he realized it had been at least a week since Santana and Puck had sat next to - or on top of - each other. Now Puck was always firmly seated next to Finn who always sat next to Quinn, of course. She usually sat beside Santana so that left her and Puck now on opposite sides of the table. Kurt didn't understand because he knew for a fact that Puck and San still hooked up sometimes - and very often texted and sexted still - but the distance between them was impersonal and Kurt was baffled.

"We aren't dating and I made that very clear to him." Was the answer he got when he asked San, and she closed her locker sharply as if to drive that point home.

Kurt's eyebrows furrowed and he stared at the Latina in confusion.

"But you still go out, and text..."

"No, we have sex and we sext."

Kurt really didn't understand and it was obvious. Santana gave him a look that was a weird mix of fond and patronizing. "It's just sex, Kurt. We don't like each other or want to hold hands or anything. It's purely physical and it isn't exclusive."

"So you're a slut."

The way she flinched back startled Kurt and her face twisted up like she was going to say something scathing but she paused when she saw that there wasn't actually much judgment in his face. It was there, but it was overshadowed by other things. He just looked confused and a little lost and that told her he didn't really know you could have sex and not be a bad person. Innocent as he was, he didn't understand that life wasn't like in the movies, and she was reminded of the dreamy way Brittany sometimes looked at life. All the anger drained out of her then.

"Look, Kurt..." she started and then they had a long talk about things he'd never thought of - or never thought to ask anyone, certainly not his dad.

Santana told him that sex was about enjoying yourself and being comfortable with your sexuality - not that one, the actual sex one. She talked about wearing what you wanted and that respecting yourself didn't always mean covering up modestly. For example, Quinn prefered wearing more clothes but Santana felt good when she wore a little less. She explained, too, that having sex wasn't something to ever be ashamed of and it didn't always need to be perfect.

Some of this Kurt already knew but a part of him couldn't help but believe that only sluts and players slept around, those antagonists in movies that either continued being bad or were redeemed only after they became more modest and stopped screwing around and partying. He was glad she never tried to tell him that he should not prize his virginity; he knew, though, that she meant sex after losing said virginity. Santana hadn't placed any value on her virginity but despite her mean comments and snark, Kurt knew she genuinely understood that both Quinn and Kurt did.

It was like a complete flip from the time he'd had to sit her down and tell her that not everyone - like Brit and him - wanted to kiss people yet or sleep around. San had grown over the year and it seemed like she'd grasped the other side as well now. He left the conversation feeling like his world was turned upside down and with a different view on things he had never discussed in depth. However, when he watched Puck the next day, Kurt knew for sure that Santana was wrong about one thing: Puck looked like he wanted to hold her hand and be exclusive.

 

The football team sucked this year just like they did every year but not long after they lost their last game, when the season officially ended for sports other than Cheerios, the teams went out to dinner at BreadStix, like after their first game. Again they squeezed into the booths with much laughter and shoving. Kurt ended up at a table with Quinn, Finn, Puck and a few Cheerios and Titans he still didn't know well.

They ate and had fun and commemorated the season's end by leaving their uniforms and Letterman jackets at home, all dressed in regular clothes. The thing was, Kurt ended up in a small booth with some of the larger football players, which meant he was squished up against the people next to him.

He was used to close quarters with his girls but being pressed up against Puck, who had casually slung his arm around the back of the booth and didn't seem to mind Kurt's proximity, was an experience. The arm didn't actually touch him; he wasn't close enough to him to give off a couples vibe but the lack of space on his other side meant Kurt was pressed closer to Puck. The warmth at his side was distracting throughout the meal, simply due to the strangness of it, he assured himself.

Finn was seated across from Kurt, all big goofy smile and ridiculously long legs that tangled with his due to the lack of space. Finn apologized with a strange look upon his face, but when he tried to move his legs, it not only failed but Pick gave him a kick under the table and a look. Kurt just ate his pasta and ignored the butterflies in his stomach.

Finally they finished eating and everyone slid out, loud in the nearly empty resturant. Quinn pecked Finn on the cheek and excused herself to go to the restroom, leaving Kurt alone. He was chatting with Daisy, a pretty Cheerio a year older than him, when a large hand grabbed the front of his grey Marc Jacobs turtleneck and yanked.

"You've got some nerve coming to dinner in your faggy clothes and pressing up against our team members like a fucking slutty homo. Did you enjoy flirting, you little fairy?" A large guy, 'Karofsky', Kurt thought his name was, snarled into his face.

The jock wasn't hurting him as he'd let go of Kurt's shirt almost immediately but the words were biting and two the guys who flanked Karofsky were scary huge.

It wasn't loud enough that all of the team and Cheerios heard but those nearest to them paused in conversation and stared. Kurt opened his mouth futilely a few times but was speechless.

"Excuse me, I didn't hear that! Can you say it louder and more clearly so I know exactly what I'm going to kick your ass for?"

Santana was suddenly beside Kurt and he felt someone else press up on his other side. It was automatic to wrap his arms around them, a hand in the small of their backs.

Brittany and Santana pressed against him like he was a pimp, breasts squished against him and bodies as close as they could get. He knew what they were doing, vaguely, but his head was swimming from the slurs and the situation itself. He realized that not only Santana and Brittany were ready to cuss Karofsky out, but a good number of the other Cheerios had stepped up for him as well. He saw the tiny form of Daisy in front of him, like a tiny little spitfire that was surprisingly vicious for how nice she always was.

When his girls chased Karofsky and his goons from the restaurant, and his group had almost all filtered out, Kurt was still feeling dizzy, the words 'faggy' and 'fairy' ringing through his head despite his best efforts to ignore them. It was Puck's voice that snapped him out of it.

"If he bothers you again, tell me, okay? I'm totally up for kicking his ass for you, dude."

Kurt watched dazed as the jock gave him a genuine, if slightly troubled, smile, before dragging Finn away. When Finn gave Kurt a wide smile and waved at him, Kurt felt his body melt in a way he was sure it shouldn't - at least not from a boy waving at him.

 

The Cheerios won Nationals, as usual, but it was extremely close; the judges felt that their routine was too commonplace for Coach's usual level of excellence as it looked almost like every other cheerleading routine. However, they carried their large trophy high with triumph through the school halls and everyone cheered them.

The Foursome celebrated by going shopping and then to a spa, all paid for by Coach Sylvester. It was fun and Kurt felt closer to these girls than he thought he should. His dad commented a week later that he was practically glowing with happiness.

The end of the school year wasn't the relief he usually felt but it was still a breath of fresh air. He had even more lessons and social requirements than the year before, along with a week-long Cheerleading camp for Coach's elite, but everything felt like life was finally going to be easy for him.

He linked pinkies with Santana and Brittany and smiled.

Chapter Text

The bell clanged overhead, like a warning to those in the hallways. Students stepped aside and pressed themselves against the lockers, parting like the Red Sea for four figures attired in distinctive red and white polyester uniforms.

Jacob Ben Israel pulled up his camera to take shots and contemplated an article about the four being replaced by aliens because he was certain that they had somehow grown even more attractive over the summer.

Leading the pack was Quinn Fabray, who rumor had it was being considered for head cheerleader. Her blonde hair swung around her shoulders and her soft makeup was impecable, making her look like the 'girl next door', even though her expression was ice cold. Behind her was Kurt Hummel, a very effeminate boy who, Jacob had to admit, had an almost ethereal beauty. Kurt's chesnut locks were swept up in an impeccable high sweep and nearly all of the baby fat he had retained had melted away, leaving sharp cheekbones and a strong jaw. His eyes were just as sharp as Quinn's.

Hanging off of both of Kurt's arms were Santana and Brittany, their own way of walking with linked pinkies extended to Kurt. Santana had darker, fierce makeup and seemed to fill out her uniform even better than the year before, Jacob noticed and tried not to drool. Brittany was just as curvy but with makeup like Quinn's and a dazed look in her eyes. Pretty, but Jacob was sure she was empty upstairs.

JBI's was not the only admiring but fearful gaze and Kurt's smile was terrifying when he met his eye, almost daring him to bother them. Of course, he still would but he was going to wait a while.

Thanks to Coach Sylvester, the foursome now had prime locker real estate and Kurt left his girls at theirs with a peck on each cheek and a chorus of their unique goodbyes. They had discussed thoroughly how to present themselves that day and while they would be spending most of the day with at least one other of them, Kurt regretfully informed them he had to go greet his old besties for their first day of high school. Santana grumbled and said some not so nice things but Britt had been on his side. She had insisted that just because they were his new besties, it didn't mean he had to throw his old friends away. Santana had obviously disagreed but stopped bitching.

Artie and Tina were in front of Artie's locker, wide-eyed and furiously discussing everything. Kurt smiled fondly at the two before coming closer and enjoyed their shocked looks when they saw him.

"K-kurt." Tina breathed, her hand coming up to clutch her necklace. Artie looked similarly shocked. Kurt hadn't managed to see them in person that summer, thanks to Coach's two-week cheer camp for her 'best and brightest', along with all of his other summer responsibilities. Since he had last seen them back in... gosh, was it really Febuary?... he had managed to call them fairly often.

"Hey guys! It's really good to see you!" He responded, smiling warmly at them. Tina threw her arms around him for a hug and then pulled back to squeeze his biceps. "Oh, my G-god, you have muscles!"

Kurt turned a bit pink and gave Artie a bashful look. 

"That tends to happen when you're in a sport. I lift quite a few girls fairly often," he told her before he moved to give Artie a hug.

Artie smirked up at him. "C'mon Kurt, it's not like Cheerleading is a real sport. Just a bunch of girls shaking things, if you know what I mean."

"The hell it isn't!" Kurt snapped. "Cheerleading is much more physically demanding than most sports and Coach wears us to the bone."

He gave Artie a scolding look and he and Tina were taken aback at Kurt's casual swearing. Tina, though, was still enraptured by how gorgeous he'd grown and Kurt gave her a nervous look when he noticed her stare.

He clapped his hands together with forced enthusiasm. "Anyway, freshies, what's your lunch period? I'd say we could trade schedules but Santana has mine right now."

Tina fished hers out of her backpack and unfolded it nervously.

 "I h-have first. Same as A-artie." 

"That's great! Maybe we can sit together once a week or so. If you don't mind my girls sitting with me, of course."

Artie's eyebrows furrowed, though.  "Your 'girls'? And only once a week?"

Kurt gave them a confused look. "Well, I have to sit with the other Cheerios, of course... and at least one of my girls needs to be with me most times ... for intimidation."

They seemed to have something to say about that but the warning bell went off just then and Kurt took his leave quickly.

..............

"Monseiur Hummel, comment ça va? Comment était ton été?" 

Kurt smiled at his French teacher as he walked in the door. "Salut, Madame. 

"Mon  été était long et occupé. J'ai passé deux semaines à travailler mon cul au camp de cheerleading. Et toi?"

Madame Abelle was fairly young and pretty and Kurt enjoyed making her laugh when he said inappropriate things or swear words. Her nose crinkled and her grey eyes gleaned with glee.

"Mon été était très relaxant. I spent time reading instead of grading nonsense." She ushered him to his seat and class began. Kurt always enjoyed listening to the French language, the way the words flowed together and sounded wonderful. However, he liked considerably less the sound of butchered French that filled the high school classes.

Second hour found him in Math with Brittany who was doing complicated math because she was bored with today's lesson while he watched with awe. Third hour found him in the small and trophy-cluttered office of Coach Sylvester as she stared at him calculatingly. Her fingers steepled beneath her chin but Kurt met her eyes with ease. It seemed to please her, what a crazy woman.

"So, Porcelain, I'm sure you're wondering why I brought you in here."

"I've long since stopped questioning your actions, Coach," he replied simply and crossed his legs at the knee, clasping his hands in his lap.

"Smart decision. I see something in you, baby cheeks. I see the spirit of a young Sue Sylvester raging behind your ice-cold eyes... and I like it!"

Sue stood up suddenly and planted her hands on her desk as she loomed over him. "I want to take you under my wing and make you my prodigy! You'll be next in line to be Head Cheerleader and my eyes and ears. My favorite."

"It's an honor, Coach. I realize how big an opportunity this is for me" Kurt kept a lid on his excitement, even though he was elated to finally be recognized, to be the top.

Coach circled around her desk to sit on it and leaned threateningly in his face.

"Of course, I am also considering Fabray for this position. Usually I'd look at all my sophomore select few but while Brittany is a wonderful girl, she doesn't have the leadership qualities and Lopez doesn't have the temperament."

Kurt nodded but didn't say anything, not wanting to diss his friends. His phone buzzed in his pocket - the group chat, most likely.  Coach kicked him out and he nearly ran into someone exiting the department.

"Woah, there dude, I thought you were supposed to be all graceful and shit," Puck exclaimed, large hands gripping Kurt's biceps as he saved him from falling headfirst into the traffic of students.

"Why do you say that?" Kurt asks sarcastically, a wry smile on his face as he steadied. Puck started walking again and Kurt followed.

"Aren't you like a ballerina?"

"The masculine term is actually 'ballerino'' everywhere but America... and just because I have a great balance when I'm expecting a jump or something, it doesn't mean I never stumble." Kurt laughed at the end, thinking of clumsy accidents he'd had. He looked up into the taller boy's face, surprised at the humor and friendliness there.

Puck hummed in understanding and gently tugged Kurt out of the way of a running girl. "First day back and already skipping class?"

"As a matter of fact, I had a study period then. Coach called me in to tell me that I'm a prime candidate for head Cheerio next year."

Puck whistled lowly, an impressed look taking over his face. "So you're hot shit now, huh, Ken Doll?"

"And don't you forget it." Kurt casually punched him in the arm.

Quinn stood impatiently in front of a classroom door, tapping her foot, but both she and Puck stiffened when they caught sight of each other. Kurt frowned in confusion as Puck muttered a quick goodbye and left.

When Kurt asked Quinn what that had been about, she pretended she had no idea what he was talking about. Kurt dropped the subject and entered the room.

"K-kurt, over here!"

Kurt spotted Tina sitting near the middle, a few empty seats near her. He didn't even think about it, he just led Quinn over to sit next to her. Quinn looked like she had tasted something bad but she sat.

Tina stared at her, eyes wide. "W-who's your frien-nd?"

 

"This is Quinn. Quinn, this is my friend, Tina," he introduced them and then took out his things for this class. He missed the twin looks of disapproval that the girls sent each other.

[New Message]
THE FOUR MUSKE-CHEERIOS
Santana Lopez: Jewfro hits again
//Link Attatched//
The Four Horsmen Of The Apocalypse 
//Link Attatched//
Cheerios Replaced By Clones??
Quinn Fabray: What the actual hell
Quinn Fabray: Also do you like keep tabs on his site??
Santana Lopez: Duh everytime our names pop up I get a modification 
Santana Lopez: *notification
Kurt Hummel: Why is he so cruel? And stupid. And short like what the hell went wrong during his conception???
Brittany S. Pierce: The fact that it happend
Kurt Hummel: Damn Britt tell us how you feel
Santana Lopez: FUCK Britt-Britt that wuz str8t up cold
Santana Lopez: Funny as hell tho
Kurt Hummel : Still, nicknames not that bad. Actually kinda cool, compared to the last one.
Quinn Fabray : Less offensive religiously I suppose. And Brittany is with us this time!
Chat Renamed - FOUR HORSMEN
Kurt Hummel : No one tell JBI we approve though, he can't know something he said wasn't stupid

"KURT! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE ACCUSATIONS ABOUT YOU BEING REPLACED BY SUE SYLVESTER'S CLONE TO FURTHER HER TEAM?"

"You mean your accusations? Only you are stupid enough to believe that. Just because you look like you were shoved through a meat grinder doesn't mean the rest of us do." Kurt barely glanced over his shoulder at the boy and his camera as he wound his way through the crowd and slipped outside to join the other Cheerios.

Chapter Text

It was still hot even though it was early September and Kurt tried to ignore the sweat beads drying on his skin. He was once again lost in a sea of twirling red fabric and booming pop music. When he lifted the girls, he could feel they were just as sweaty as he was and their legs trembled with the effort to stay standing. Or was it his arms?

" I suppose you bumbling louts won't learn anything more today. You are dismissed!"

" Oh thank fucking god," Santana wheezed from somewhere near his left shoulder. A heavy weight slumped against him and he stumbled but managed to keep them both upright. The screeching feedback from Coach Sylvester's megaphone gave Kurt's already throbbing head a larger ache and he stumbled over to Quinn and Brittany who were leaning against each other with water bottles in hand. The two handed over one each to him and Santana and while Santana chugged hers, he took much smaller drinks, hoping not to shock his body into throwing up.

" I know she is this brutal to train the new girls and to get the girls who didn't qualify for the camp back in shape but it's real sucky of her to make us suffer, too," Quinn moaned, dabbing her sweaty face with a towel. She handed it over to Kurt when she was done.

" I don't remember her being this harsh last year, though. Remember? It only got hard when competition season started," Brittany pointed out.

"Something must have pissed her off recently," Kurt agreed.

A small cluster of the Cheerios called out to them, a few waving, and Quinn waved back. Kurt raised an eyebrow at her.

"We have to go. We promised a few of the girls we'd come to a sleepover tonight, since we skipped the one at the beginning of the year," she explained.

 

They took their leave and Kurt walked, still a bit wobbly, over to the bleachers, where he collapsed. He could see football practice going on close by and decided to lie down on the metal, setting the towel over his eyes to block out the sun. His breathing evened out and he managed to relax despite the hard surface under his back. He wasn't sure how long he laid there but he realized the football practice had ended. Suddenly he could hear someone jogging over.

"Hey, Kurt. This isn't exactly the best place for a cat nap," the person standing next to him said, clearly amused. He moved the towel and found Puck leaning over him, sweaty and glistening from practice. His jersey and shoulder pads were by his feet and his helmet dangled from his fingers, leaving him in a tanktop and the tight uniform pants. Kurt felt a blush heat his cheeks and tried to stop it, not sure what he was blushing over.

" Cheerio practice is brutal enough; I could nap pretty much anywhere." He laughed softly and pushed himself up on his elbows, though he still had to crane his neck to see Puck. Puck grinned at him, looking genuinely pleased though Kurt wasn't sure why.

"I was wondering if I could borrow your towel? One of the guys thought it was funny to steal mine and I didn't want to use one of the shower ones," Puck asked and gestured towards the towel clutched in Kurt's hands. Kurt nodded immediately and handed it over.

" No problem; I was done with it anyway," Kurt said casually. "I haven't seen you since the first day of school - how have you been?"

" I've been pretty chill, once school started, though the team gets... clingy, I guess fits. I can't go anywhere without at least one of them on my ass, and the long practices don't help my free time," Puck explained and Kurt nodded, getting it.

" Cheerios are an impenetrable wall of unity and bitchiness. Coach would have our heads if we come off as anything less, so we stick to each other like glue and, in special cases, we fake friendships that she shoves us into," Kurt sighed.

His eyes were stuck to the stark contrast of the white towel and the tan, athletic skin it was wiping off. Up close and personal, Kurt was flustered by how stereotypically manly Puck was. Everyone said Finn was the poster boy football player but Kurt felt Puck fit the ideal teenage jock look much better. Kurt averted his eyes; he wasn't sure he liked how his stomach was twisting.

The towel landed back in his lap and Puck flashed one more white smile at him before jogging away after a quick goodbye. As Kurt watched him slip back into the crowd of football players, all clamoring to get into the locker room, he recognized his shortness of breath and pounding heart as signs of what he had begun to suspect.

He, Kurt Hummel, was 100% indisputably gay.

 

"What am I supposed to do?! What will my dad think? He's going to be so disappointed!"

Kurt rambled into the phone, the hand not holding it tugging on his hair. His bedsheets were rumpled and magazines were spread open all over it, showing pictures of attractive boys.

"Kurt, your dad isn't going to hate you. He loves you - no matter what," Quinn soothed over the phone, low chatter audible in the background. He felt a little bad for distracting her from her sleepover but she assured him that his sexuality crisis was more important. Oh god, he was having a sexuality crisis; he was gay!

"He finally realized he's itching for a dick'in? Does this mean I can call him Twinkle Toes now?"

Kurt could hear a familiar voice call out a bit farther away from Quinn's phone.

Quinn's following hiss of "Not now, Santana!" made him laugh and he could hear Santana laugh as well.

"Come on! I've been sitting on that since I saw his little tot recital! He's a twink! Who does ballet! It was hilarious!"

"Santana, I don't think this is the time for jokes," Quinn said softly but Kurt disagreed. Hearing them bicker was easing the panic that gripped his throat.

"I looked damn good in that tutu, Santana, and I refuse to hear otherwise," he joked. There was quiet for a few seconds and then Santana started up her teasing again; Kurt relaxed into his pillows.

"I suppose it isn't a big deal that I find Puck attractive. Anyone in my situation would," he said softly to convince himself. He tensed immediately when he heard a sharp intake of breath right in front of the reciever.

"Quinn?"

"I have to go. I'm glad you feel alright now. Santana sends her best wishes, bye."

The tone signifying an ended call trilled in his ear and he pulled the phone from his ear to stare at it. What was up with Quinn lately? It was getting ridiculous. He should sit her down and talk with her soon, whatever she was bottling up couldn't be good for her complexion. His dad's loud voice calling down the stairs made him stiffen and his response came out a little quavery. He had to act normal if he wasn't going to let his dad know yet. Burt Hummel was like a bloodhound, sniffing out problems.

...................

"Kurt, Tina and I are kinda concerned," Artie spoke up three days later while Kurt was sitting with them at lunch. It had taken a good amount of convincing - from not only the Cheerios but Coach Sylvester as well - to get permission to sit with his old friends.

He looked up from his lunch and furrowed his brows. "About what?"

When the two exchanged looks, Kurt started to feel wary. When they both stared at him and then glanced down at his uniform, he resisted the urge to bury his face in his hands and never move.

"W-we don't like who you're h-hanging out with. The Ch-cheerios are_" Tina stuttered.

"Vapid bimbos. And this isn't like you," Artie cut in. "We don't like that you changed yourself to fit in with them and are pretending to be someone you aren't."

Kurt reeled back, genuinely shocked.

"Excuse me?!"

"All of us know that you hate athletics and that you need a stimulating environment for your intellect, something the company you keep can't give you."

"You're hanging out-t with the s-same type of people who w-would have thrown you in lockers!" Tina insisted.

"Now, neither of us blame you for wanting to be popular and hang out with smoking chicks, but we're here now and you can stop pretending just to have friends."

The condescending smile Artie finished with sickened Kurt. He knew he wasn't exactly the 8th Grader they last hung out with but he was sure they would understand that people change. Tina showed up dressed gothic! Last time he was at her house, her room was pink!!

"I assure you that those 'vapid bimbos' are not only smart but obviously much better friends than you. I'm not pretending to be someone else nor did those girls force me to change. I realized I didn't like who I was and that who I was was going to get me beaten up. So, I'm sorry you don't like the new me but since I became this person, I can finally stand my own reflection."

Kurt stood up, grabbed his lunch and walked over to the Cheerios' table, grinning as the girls welcomed him warmly. The two freshmen stared as his retreating back, speechless.

"Hello, ladies, what did I miss," he said smoothly and slid in next to Brittany. His eyes connected with Puck's at the table right next to theirs and the approving look he received heated his cheeks.

"Nothing much, but it's good to have you back," Santana answered and followed his gaze with a grin. He turned his head and ignored her suggestive eyebrow wiggle.

"Señor Shuester re-started Glee club and Hairy Berry is parading around like she owns the place. So we can all guess how she's treated in the club," Santana continued. "Ugh, she's a goddamn arrogant little princess. With her star stickers and the way she thinks she's better than everyone because she can string some notes together."

Kurt nodded. "I'm pretty sure she thinks that just because her voice isn't terrible and her daddies pamper her, she can get the starring role in anything she wants. It's absurd."

The table's other occupants (only the Cheerios today) snorted and gossip moved on to ripping some other kid. Kurt smiled at the right times but his eyes kept wandering over to the boisterous jock table, where Finn and Puck were shoving each other around, grins on their faces and immature jokes shouted out through laughter. His heart fluttered. He kinda hated himself for it.

Chapter Text

"I'm really worried about Finn. He keeps running off and acting weird. It's really frustrating," Puck grumbled, rubbing a white towel over his neck and head.

Kurt is sat next to him, dressed in street clothes and homework open on his lap. He looks up at Puck's words.

"Think he's hiding something?" Kurt muses as he traces patterns into his brown skinny jeans with a capped pen. The wind blows softly around them and both watch the few remaining kids running around the football field. It has become habit to spend a while talking after Puck was done, though not every day. Kurt's girls like to drag him off and Puck sometimes has prior engagements.

"Probably. Which is even more frustrating. What is he doing that he can't tell me?" Puck tosses the towel down a on few seats, huffing. Kurt smiles sympathetically.

"The girls sometimes like bottling things in. Problems and thoughts. The difficult part is not unbottling it before it'sready, but not letting it build up and explode."

Puck rolls his head around, cracking it, before looking at Kurt. Kurt tries to ignore how the sunlight looks on his skin and the slight heat he can feel coming from him. He longs for the ease of ignorance. Damn appreciation for the male physic (Because this was not a crush he assured himself, it couldn't be).

"That makes some sense. Not a ton, because you talk funny, but some."

Puck grins in amusment when Kurt makes an offended noise and Kurt struggles not to melt at the fondness in Puck's expression. This is ridiculous.

"The wind's blowing your hair around. You look more like a teen when your hair isn't perfect," Puck comments, eyes drawn up to the way Kurt's chestnut locks are dancing in the breeze. Puck watches with thinly-veiled humor as Kurt immediately tries to fix it, body moving out of the relaxed, splayed out way he had been sitting into a prissy position, hands clasped on crossed legs. Puck looks kinda put out at that but Kurt dismisses it.

"What do you mean, 'look more like a teen'? I don't look like an adult," Kurt sneers.

"You look like you belong in a magazine. Well put together but, in the end, if someone doesn't talk to you, you don't come off as real. None of you popular Cheerios don't - sometimes. Imagining you in a casual situation is harder, though. I can't imagine you doing normal teen things."

Kurt lets that sink in, nodding in understanding but ultimately letting them fall into comfortable silence. Unreal, huh. Eventually Puck says his goodbyes and heads off to the locker room, his form growing smaller as Kurt watches, deep in thought.

Sometimes it startles him, how close he is now to the popular crowd. And while he knows these girls care deeply about him and that some of those football players would go to bat for him, he isn't stupid enough to believe that any of them would hang out with him if he hadn't joined the Cheerios. And thinking over the crumbling friendship with Artie - and to a lesser extent Tina - he thinks he understands why. Cheerios and jocks stick together out of necessity. It was a fact of life that those lower on the food chain are bitter and defensive and those in the middle often befriend you to climb up the ladder. It's too hard to find someone who just likes you for you.

Of course, he thinks, everyone falls into rôles at school. It's hard to look at a popular kid and see anything but haughty attitudes and sharp words, to see more than dumpsters and slushies and locker slams when that is what you get for being different, for being geeky or unattractive. 

Kurt sighs, unwilling to think about his mixed feelings on the bullying. He grabs his stuff and starts heading for the parking lot where his dad is waiting to take him to his vocal lessons.

...

"You three! With me!"

The trio of Cheerleaders startles as their Coach stalks down the hallway towards them, finger harshly jabbing at them to show who she was talking to. Kurt and Quinn easily fall into step behind the coach, Santana a little slower but still seamlessly to the watching students.

The Cheerios give each other confused looks but did not speak up, knowing that Coach wouldn't take well to being questioned currently. So when she leads them up onto a balcony-type area in the Auditorium, they don't question it. They just watch with sharp, calculating eyes as a small group of teens sing and dance on the stage.

So, this is the group Coach is furious about, Kurt muses. They were okay. Not many of them seemed to be trained so their voices sounded a bit weak. Some of them just lacked confidence but they all sound good together and much better than last year's. Kurt, though, is sickened to find Rachel Berry getting all the limelight, once again.

"So... Finn is getting a lot of heat for being in Glee club," Kurt says later that night, curled up on his basement couch with Quinn next to him. A romance plays on the TV but he's still thinking about how fast everyone turned on Finn. 

Quinn scowls, brushing hair out of her eyes.

"I dont understand what Puck is so stuck on. This isn't the first time a football member has joined an unsavory club. Admitedly, this is Glee club, the worst club you could join, but the way the team is attacking him is unusual, and its headed by Puck."

"I've been avoiding Puck since he locked Artie in a port-a-potty. It was unusually cruel of him and I don't want to be around him when he's lashing out," Kurt says, looking at Quinn out of the corner of his eye. "You wouldn't know anything that could have potentiality stressed him out enough to start acting like this, do you?"

As expected, Quinn screws her face up in an expression that is a mixture of guilt and a look that suggests she wants to jump out a window. "Maybe..."

"Quinn."

"Over the summer, during the first week of Cheer Camp, I invited him over to my house. And we got drunk. I was so miserable about our insecurities at that moment that we made a bad decision... and we ended up making out," she admits softly, nails scratching the couch fabric distractingly. Kurt struggled to keep his expression neutral, knowing she didn't need his judgment or shock. That explained a lot though, even if his stomach twisted and churned at the thought. Not that this was new, Santana and Puck were constantly swapping spit.

"Quinn.."

"We didn't go any further... and I know I should have told Finn about it but he keeps changing the subject and only wants to make out with me. It feels like I can't talk to him any more," she hurries to say. "I didn't think Puck would react like this after I turned him down, he told me the next day that he was 'cool' but he's dealing with some stuff and he mentioned maybe having his eye on someone."

Kurt stops breathing as his face turns red and he actually gets dizzy. All because of those stupid words that send a nauseous mixture of hope and fear into him. 

"Well, Puck aside, you're being unsupportive, too," he says as calmly as possible. "I've seen you complaining about the club and mentioning popularity. That isn't like you, Q; that's like the person people think you are. She doesn't usually pop up in your and Finn's relationship."

"I tried explaining to him that I didn't like how the club was making him act, and that, maybe instead of focusing on the damn club, he should work out his problems with his real friends. But after the 'bullying' started happening to him, he refuses to remember we aren't the people the geeks see us as. And seeing as he didn't believe I had genuine reasons to dislike him being in Glee, he gets to date the shallow bitch he apparently now sees me as," Quinn says bitterly.

Kurt sympathizes; he's seen first-hand how Finn has decided to start treating his friends. Finn declared to Puck that he could be the quarterback and a Glee club member, but Finn isn't the same anymore. He's treating them like they are the stereotypes the world sees them as. He's seen the same thing the few times he's tried to talk to Tina and Artie. But after a conversation about them joining Glee, he tried to aproach them and Tina flinched when she saw him. He hasn't tried speaking to them since.

"Maybe he'll come around? Try spending more time with him outside of bedrooms. More public places," Kurt offers, though he doesn't sound very convinced. Quinn looks like a lighbulb went off, though.

Of course, not too long afterward, they are sitting in a crowded auditorium surrounded by the Cheerios watching as the small group of five Glee clubbers does a frankly horrendous and awkward rendition of Push It, much to Coach Sylvester's and even Mr. Shuester's horror. Kurt watches the trainwreck of a performance with rapt attention, unable to tear his eyes away from the hideous outfits and choppy dance moves. Quinn looks a mix between violent anger and nausea as her boyfriend grinds against a living fashion disaster, and Kurt wonders how her inevitable breakdown is going to go as everyone but the Titans and the Cheerios go ballistic.

 

Kurt would like to put on record that when he told Quinn "more public places", he did not mean "go against Sue Sylvester's orders and join the club she hates with a burning passion" - nor did he mean "join a club where everyone hates us and where Rachel Berry gets whatever she wants". That, however, is what Quinn has decided to do... which is how he finds himself in the small choir room watching his girls do a sweet rendition of 'Say A Little Prayer'.

Quinn sounds angelic and Brittany's choreography looks sleek and flows well with the song. Santana brings a strong backup and a different range, making the song come alive. He can see Mr. Shuester is impressed and when the song ends, he looks amazed. Kurt's sure he didn't expect all of Coach Sylvester's main sophmore Cheerios to be able to sing and as the girls move out of the way and he stands in the center for his audition, Kurt is sure he doesn't expect so much talent to suddenly fall in his lap.

Which is why, after Kurt's version of Mr. Cellophane, which was practiced painstakingly and changed to show off both his range and his ability with music, when Shue seemed only slightly impressed and had a look that promises 'background singer' for Kurt's future, he felt crushed and angry.

Kurt is nothing like Rachel Berry, though, so he is not going to scream and cry because someone doesn't like his performance. While his pride and confidence are sore, he knows that his voice teacher was right. He is unique and immensly talented and some high school Spanish teacher wasn't going to convince him otherwise. Kurt may have been hesitant about joining Glee, despite his love for singing, but now he is determined to stay and show that he has talent.

"I'm so glad to have you girls... and you, too, Kurt. Practice is after school on Thursdays and at lunch on Tuesdays. I'm very excited to see how your voices blend with everyone else's."

Kurt just smiled tightly.

.................

"I thought she was going to eat us alive; what were you thinking?!" Kurt snapped, hurrying down the hallway with Quinn and Brittany. Santana had seen some guy and walked off with a wink. 

"I needed to do something to start winning Finn back. I need to be there to keep an eye on Hairy Berry."

"Your wandering boyfriend is worth offering us up to the Devil on a platter?!"

Kurt calmed slightly from his panic when Brittany rested a hand on his shoulder, speaking softly to him as he attempted to breathe.

"Calm down, Kurty. It all worked out okay, and now you get to join Glee and sing! I know you wanted to join."

"Not enough to go behind Coach's back! Quinn, that woman can ruin your high school reputation if you cross her. Please, do not do something so foolish again."

The blonde stopped, spinning on her heels to face him. She made an X over her heart with her finger, a pleasant expression on her face. "I promise. Now, please stop freaking out; you're going to give yourself stress wrinkles."

Kurt gasped and touched his face as they start walking again, making sure his skin was as smooth as ever.

"We've got the first meeting tomorrow and none of the members will be pleased to see us," Brittany mentioned, pulling out her phone when it beeps. Likely Santana.

"That's fine, we'll do what we always do. Present a united force." Quinn smiled, giving them fond looks. Kurt smiled back at her before something dawned on him.

"Oh god, Puck is going to kill me for joining. I hope he still talks to me..."

He missed the look the girls gave each other.

Chapter Text

The reaction to the four uniform-clad Cheerios sauntering into the Choir room after school is pretty much exactly how they expected it. The room is fairly empty, chairs heavily outnumbering the people. It is colorful and there is a beautiful piano at which the piano player himself seems to be falling asleep.

Tina's mouth fell open and Artie's eyes bugged -and watched the girls a bit too closely- while Finn sat up straighter and looked confused and guilty. The black girl he didn't recognize looked suspicious and Rachel looked furious. Mr. Shuester looked delighted though, and wasn't that a weird expression to see on his face.

"What are they doing here Mr. Shue?"

Mr. Shue moved towards the center of the room, one hand gesturing to the Cheerios. "Guys, meet the newest members of New Directions!"

The yelling and protesting are automatic, Rachel actually standing up, her face turning red with her shouting. The Cheerios just stand there like statues, masks in place. Quinn looks cold, Santana looks smug, Brittany looks ditzy and Kurt just looks bored. They would not give the group an inch to hold over them.

Mr. Shue looks shocked at the vehement response and puts his hands up like he is under fire. "Woah, woah, woah, guys, cool it!"

"How do we know if they're any good? They could bring the whole team down!" Rachel exclaims, looking smug with her argument. Kurt wants to laugh in her face.

"They all tried out and were amazing,” Mr. Shue explains. “They are going to be very beneficial to the club!"

"What are your qualifications?" The height-challenged twerp addresses them this time, looking haughty.

"Most of us have several years of professional classes in dance and/or singing as well as Cheerios which is demanding of more skill than you have in your pinky," Kurt says, glaring at the short girl. Her face reddens again from anger and it's a bit fascinating.

"See, Rachel, they all are plenty experienced. Now, please sit down so we can start our lesson," Mr. Shue declares.

Rachel huffs like a child and sits forcefully. When they move to sit a bit separated from the others, Quinn sends a look to Finn, making him scramble over to sit next to her. Rachel looks murderous and Kurt shouldn't be so happy about that. He squirms in his hard chair before crossing his legs and leaning back, watching Mr. Shuester talk animatedly to the pouting group.

The lessons are simple and Kurt actually longs for his own vocal lessons. At least he can work at his skill level there. But he knows that the rest of the group could use actual training instead of this 'expression' bullshit. Expressing yourself in song is easier when you can actually match the technical level of the songs you're choosing. And he is certain that the amount of drama boiling in this room under Mr. Shue's oblivious eyes will tear them apart.

"So this week, we're going to..."

.......

"I just don't think 17 Again lives up to movies like The Proposal or Little Black Book," Kurt insists, his fingers moving quickly as he braids Brittany's hair.

"I don't know, I really liked it. I thought it was charming, and Zack Efron is a plus."

"Zack Efron is cute but, honestly, the most attractive part of him was when I thought he could sing. Learning it wasn't him in High School Musical crushed me."

"You like those movies so much because they show cut-throat people working their butts off in their competitive jobs, and getting love," Brittany says matter-of-factly, not even pausing in her braiding of Lord Tubbington’s fur.

"They're also good movies! And if maybe I appreciate their fierce personalities and the vicious nature of their works, that is simply coincidence."

"You also love The Devil Wears Prada."

"Okay, you know what!"

Brittany breaks out into laughter, her shoulders shaking enough that Lord Tubbington runs away. Kurt can't help but laugh, too, and they end up leaning against each other, teasing about favorite Rom-Coms and what it says about them. Brittany's long blonde hair slips from his grasp as he tries to finish it.

"I think it's cute." She gently shoves his shoulder as their breathing evens. He smiles at her, enjoying the way her face is lit up.

"You think what's cute?" He asks, amused.

"How romantic you are. You like stories where someone gets swept off their feet best, even if you prefer them to be a bit more realistic and sad. You like stories where all the pain is worth it in the end. And it will be."

His breath hitches, wide eyes staring into her serious ones. They were striking in their intensity. The change of mood unsettled him and her words vibrated within him. The pain will be worth it, huh? God, he hoped so.

"It will be faster if you just asked Puck out instead of mooning over him, though."

And all mushy feelings. Time for dread, panic, and the steel drop of his heart inside him. He jumped off the bed, clutching a pillow to him like makeshift armor.

"What?" God, he hoped that wasn't as high-pitched as he feared.

Brittany stares at him like he is stupid, hair half-braided and cute kitty nightgown making her look ridiculous. His own hair is messy and he’s wearing a matching pajama set, so he figures he doesn't have much room to speak.

"I know you have a crush on Puck. I see the way you look at him - and you flinch when Santana mentions having sex with him."

"I do not!" He protests.

"You so do. It's okay, Puck is really yummy and you two would be really hot together."

"I do not like Puck, Brittany! He's gross and rude and stubborn and.. and.. and straight." He takes a deep breath, trying to calm down. "I simply couldn't like him."

But the pity in Brittany's eyes shows she doesn't believe him and his strong composure crumples. He sits slowly back on the bed, clutching the pillow to his chest and wondering how they went from bickering to the heavy confessions they were at.

"Maybe he's not horrible. He's okay looking, and after you get to know him he's less piggish. And he can be funny sometimes and he has a wonderful smile when he isn't smirking at people," he admits slowly, refusing to look her in the eye. "And if once in a while I find myself staring at him - well, I can appreciate all that tanned skin and a boy who takes care of his body. And if maybe I melt a little when he looks at me like I matter to him, well, anyone would. He makes me feel special and strong and wonderful and damn it all, I think I like him." He cuts off what had become a rambling rant and shoves his face in his pillow and screams, curled up around it and hiding his red face. He could hear Brittany giggling at him and his scream tapers off into a long groan.

He is doomed.

Brittany eventually pries him out of her pillow, sits him in front of a TV and lets him return to his normal, poised self, bitching about the outfits in a fashion show they have on. He finally regains his composure and tries to ignore the fact that he is crushing on a straight boy and the fact that Brittany will want to talk more about it eventually. For now, he is the bitchy, sharp, gay best friend. He can let himself crush on a teenage boy after he is alone in his room.

 

To: Santana
From: Britt
He admitted it! Totes crushing on Puck. He wuz really cute about it 2.

To: Britt
From: Santana
SCORE! Puck is drunk and very into convo about Kurt’s awesomeness, think it might b mutual

To: Santana
From: Britt
Yayy! Kurty is going 2 b soooo happy!

To: Britt
From: Santana
Let it run its natural course, no telling! Only small pushes! Gtg Puck is wasted

 

"Who are you texting over there? You look like you're going to burst with sunshine." Kurt blinks tiredly at his best friend, lips curled in an amused smile.

Brittany turned her beam on him and he stamped down the urge to shield his eyes from how bright it was. She bounced lightly from her seat on the bed.

"I'm texting Tanny. She's kinda drunk and I can't understand all her messages but I got good at decoding them during Lord Tubbington's alcoholic period."

Kurt laughs softly, burying his face in his arms and letting that happy, warm glow drift over him. It wasn't great for trying to stay awake but it did wonders to relax him and edge off the stress that comes with his heavy schedule.

 

Santana is honestly wasted. She almost never got this drunk but the mutual misery and fuck it attitude she shares with Puck led to wayyy more alcohol than she knew was a good idea. But here she is, snorting into a nearly empty bottle as Puck attempts to recite a Bible story from memory, butchering it terribly and obviously making up parts of it.

She is trying to figure out where she lost her pants - and when - when an upside-down Puck startles her.

"Kurt's a fruit, yeah?"

She jerks up, staring at him in surprise. Is he just drunk or has he actually figured it out.

"What?" She asks.

"Kurt. He swings the other way." Puck's hazy eyes stare into hers, squinty as if she’s out of focus.

"Why does it matter?" She deflects. Kurt would soo kill her if she gave too much away. The point of this night was to see Puck's reactions to Kurt, not out him.

"Thought so." He lets his head loll and his gaze leaves hers. "I just don't understand why he hasn't told me. I thought we were pretty tight, was I wrong?"

She steps around the beds they had made to slump down clumsily next to him on the couch. "He isn't out to pretty much anyone, just the rest of the Horsemen, as you so eloquently call us."

"Yeah, but I was sure me and Kurt had become close. I really like spending time with him. You don't think he thinks I’d like.. bully him, do you?" And despite the drunken slur to his words and the misty haze of his eyes, he looks genuinely hurt. Santana felt a moment of pure sympathy. She pats his sweaty forehead and gives him the kindest smile she will ever give him and replies softly, "I'm sure he doesn’t think that. He's just waiting for the right time; he hasn't even told his dad yet."

Tucking into Puck's bed that night, she really hopes that the boys will get their shit together fast. She is certain this will become gag-worthy pining if they don't.

Chapter Text

The bell ringed loudly in the distance, but it was muffled in the silence of Sue Sylvester's office. Kurt tapped his foot, legs crossed and bitchy look enabled in case he's in here for a not so good reason. Coach sat with her fingers steepled on the desk, eyes narrowed.

The silence dragged on like it had been for minutes, and Kurt was determined not to crack first. Coach liked him, but that didn't mean she wouldn't go for the kill if he exposed weakness. A few more minutes went by before she sat back and relaxed, smiling at him.

"Hummel, it's good to have you in here again. Tell me what you've gathered from Glee Club."

He relaxed as well, but grimaced at the mention. "So far it's nothing special. All they do is so called 'lessons' to express themselves and the amount of drama in such a small group is suffocating. There's no actual voice practice and the amount they actually know about the mechanisms of a song is so pathetically low it's no wonder that despite nice voices that tend to either butcher them or lack the necessary items to make it memorable."

"And how are you and the girls doing in comparison?"

"Quinn's been sucked into the drama and gets featured more than most of the other girls, but still not often. Brittany helps with choreography and she seems to like it but most of her suggestions are ignored and I've heard a few of them laugh at her. Santana gets a few lines in songs but is mostly overlooked."

Coach raised an eyebrow. "And yourself?"

"Completely ignored and overlooked. I, like Tina, am stuck soley to background singing and jazz hands. I dont think any of them have actually heard me sing." He sighed. "Artie gets to rap and this girl Mercedes gets to do the belting, but in the end they are just like us, background singers. The only people who get to sing are little Miss Rachel Berry and Finn Hudson. Mr. Shue seems to have a creepy obssession with them and looks at them like the sun shines out of their asses."

"Im sorry to hear that Hummel. I think you'll appreciate this next news even more though. I dont know if you've heard, but our head cheerleader broke her leg recently and it's bad enough to take her off the team for months. It's a real tragedy, but tragedy leaves room for opportunity. It's a little sooner than expected, but I want you as the new Head Cheerleader."

Kurt nearly fell over in his chair, eyes widening and mouth going slack. He stared at Coach for long moments and thankfully she seemed to understand he needed a moment to process it.

"Are you sure Coach Sylvester? I know Quinn was also in the running." He said slowely, hardly believing the words. He'd never been picked for something, he had counted his blessing when he made the team in the first place. Head Cheerleader was a highly sought after position, one many Cheerios would slander and harm for.

Coach raised an eyebrow. "I'm always sure Porcelain. Don't disapoint me. You're dismissed." She waved her hand and went back to her paperwork, ignoring him.

He grabbed his bag and left, mind spinning. He had of course realized he was in the running for Head Cheerio, but he had been against Quinn. Perfect, all american-girl, blonde bombshell Quinn. He had never thought he would apparently win. Especially only a month into the school year. His first thought was how he couldnt wait to tell his dad. His second was fear his father wouldn't be impressed despite how positive he was about Kurt being a Cheerio. His third was Quinn's reaction. But over-all, Kurt was filled with a confidence the likes of which he had only ever faked. He raised his head and strutted down the hall, people parting like they rarely did when he was alone.

 

During Cheerio warm-ups, Coach let Kurt stretch and chat with his friends as usual, and in her overly dramatic way, waited until they were all gathered and waiting for instruction to tell them.

The brief silence after the blunt announcement made Kurt's doubts and insecurities swell, but first Brittany, then Santana, then Daisy started clapping, and soon nearly the entire group of girls was cheering and congratulating him, most of them genuinly pleased. He straightened his back and accepted the compliments with the confidence and pep expected of his position. His doubts momentarily soothed, he was amused that these girls seemed to think he would go easy on them. Kurt was far too much like Coach for them to be pleased for long.

He placed his hands on his polyester covered hips and grinned at the girls, swooping chesnut hair catching the light as he opened his mouth.

"It's an honor to be chosen, and I can't wait to whip you in shape with our football game half-time routine. I want three run-throughs with no mistakes stat ladies." His grin turned sharp, and he saw both the girls who slumped defeatedly, and the girls who stood tall with excitement at the challenge. He noted who was who.

He also noticed the nearly unreadable expression on Quinn's face. She wasn't happy, Kurt just prayed the unhappiness was not aimed at him.

Practice started, and it was mostly normal as Coach usually ran those. Kurt was just expected to do as he usually did, work himself to the bone and until the point of passing out. All without breaking routine or slowing down. It got easier the longer you were a Cheerio.

It was after practice that he got into his role, watching and running the girls through stretches and slow down excersises. When he spotted three freshman girls gossiping and half assing their stretches he dismissed the rest of the girls stormed over there before those three could leave, outlining why they were wrong and how not to be a stupid little girl who thought they knew everything.

A low, drawn out whistle sounds behind Kurt, startling him out of his corrections. He looked over his shoulder and found a sweaty Puck smirking at him, lazilly strolling over to them. Kurt quickly dismissed the trembling freshmen, watching them fast away with satisfaction.

"Head Cheerleader Hummel. I never thought I'd see the day." Pick teased, coming to a stop nearby. God, Kurt loved Puck straight out of practice.

Kurt turned on heel and gave him a wry smile, running a hand through his own messy, sweaty locks. "If only the bullies could see me now."

Puck frowned briefly but was smirking again in a flash and Kurt wondered if he had imagined it.

"Actually I'm lying, I've been waiting for you to get it. Sylvester must have made the right choice, too, those girls looked close to tears." Puck pointed out.

Kurt waved it off, scoffing. " They shouldn't be lazy with their stretches, they're going to hurt themselves during a routine if they don't take care of their muscles."

"Did you have to be so mean about it?"

"Fear motivates. Anyway, if they don't want to give their all they don't belong on the team. We have no room on a national winning team for whiny teens who want to screw around."

"That's...brutal."

Kurt sighs, crossing his arms. "That's cheerleading."

"I thought cheerleading was teamwork and giggling and sleepovers. Friendship bracelets and all that jazz."

"No that's football."

Puck paused for a second before throwing his head back, laughing brightly with shaking shoulders and a wide grin. Kurt paused and nearly stopped breathing, a rush of affection filling him at the amused happiness on Puck's face, at the sun making the hazel pool of his eyes glow. It was so rare to see Puck so unguarded and happy. He felt his face heat and knew he was gaping at the larger boy like a schoolgirl with a crush.

"Hey! You do those things too! Coach Sylvester just disguises it as military tactics and shit." Puck argued playfully. Kurt pulled himself together and cursed his teenage hormones.

"You have a point. Coach values teamwork and 'friendship' religiously. She goes about it in a crazy way and isn't always a good person, but she cares about us. Coach takes care of her own."

Puck gave him a crooked smile. "You're crazy."

Kurt smiled and tried to ignore his beating heart.

Chapter Text

It took only a day of strained conversation between him and Quinn, before she finally broke. They had been chatting after school on one of the rate days that didn't have Glee or Cheerios, though Kurt and Brittany had Ballet later. They were all relaxing in an empty classroom, Kurt perched on a desk, Brittany and Santana mocking an article from JBI's blog, and Quinn watching them. Kurt was snapped out of filing his nails when it happened. They had all been witing for it though, her eyes had been growing crazed.

"Why did you steal the Head Cheerio position from me? You know I need it to keep Finn and my popularity!" She was composed, but cracks in her mask show the near hysteria she was feeling. Stewing in her anger and self-pity had obviously caused delusions and paranoia, but while Kurt was sympathetic, he refused to bow down this time.

"I didn't steal anything Quinn. Coach looked at her options and decided I was the best fit." Kurt said firmly.

Quinn sneered. "What a load of shit. I bet she just gave you the position to be able to brag about her 'diversity' and 'acceptance'. Why, I don't only have a boy Head Cheerio, he's also a f-"

"Quinn!" Brittany snapped, grabbing the smaller girls arm to stop her from her movements towards him. Quinn stared into his eyes, but her eyes were hot with anger, not apologetic as they should have been. All four of them knew what she was about to say, and Kurt felt slapped. He meets her gaze anyway, eyes cold and steely.

"I think it's time you leave. Go and calm down." Brittany said, more serious than any of them had ever seen her.

Quinn looked around the group, before twisting around and storming off, blonde ponytail swinging behind her.

Santana, who had stayed out of the entire thing, grimaced.

"Fuck, she's going of the deep end." She gave him a small smile. "I would have stuck up for you as well, but I didn't want to make it seen like we we're hanging up on her. That wouldn't lead to any good."

It was as close to an apology Santana gave. Kurt returned the smile, understanding but still shaken from the encounter. Was that really how she thought of him? Was that how all of them thought about him?

"Want to watch some Glee kids sing all of their secrets and emotions in the auditorium?" He suggested. At least one of them was always in there after school or at lunch, belting their problems for the whole school to hear. None of them would be good Slytherins.

Santana smirked. "Of course. Bet you $10 bucks that it's Berry and she makes her ugly stage crying face during a love song about Hudson."

Kurt snorted, following after her. "No one would make that bet."

"I'll take it. I bet today it's a song about how hard her life is and how mean everyone is to her for no reason at all." Brittany said rolling her eyes.

 


 


"Okay guys, this week is going to be a little different. We have a bit more of an abrstract idea for a lesson. I want you to sing a song that makes you smile when you hear it, one that makes you happy and feel a little silly. A song thay maybe isn't your favorite, but you always dance and sing along to." Mr. Shue started, waving his hands as he addressed the small group.

The seating had again changed, Quinn taking up residence next to Finn and away from both the other Cheerios and the big Gleeks. They looked defensive and lonely separated from everyone. Finn looked miserable and kept sending looks towards Berry, while Quinn just kept up a steady glare.

"This time however, I'm requiring everyone to participate," Mr. Shue continued, "I want you to get to know more about eachother. Most of you aren't close, some of you haven't ever even spoken to eachother! C'mon guys, Glee club is supposed to be a close knit group! Friends, at the very least."

Brittany turned to him, smiling as Shue keeps going. "I think we both know what we're singing." She said quietly. He was almost certain of what she was refering to, and both thrummed with excitement. He couldn't wait to show these losers that he was more than a background singer.

"Yeah, Mr. Shue? We got any rules for this?" Santana called out.

"Keep swearing to a minimum, no songs about sex, and all of them must be solo performances."

"Damn." Santana said under her breath, but she was smiling faintly showing she wasn't that uspet. Kurt muffled laughter behind his hand.

Club ended and Santana stopped him before he could leave.

"Brittany and I are going to hang with Mike and Matt tonight, we were wondering if you'd like to join? They wanted to ask you themselves but you're always so busy that felt weird about it."

Kurt felt touched, reminded again that he wasn't the loser he sometimes felt. He had friends, and people who wanted to hang out with him. "That sounds like a lot of fun, where are we meeting?"

"Well we can't do my place obviously, Mike's mom is a helicopter parent, and Lord Tubbington is sick so Brittany's is out. So we were planning on meeting at Matt's, but then Mike heard you had Just Dance..." She trailed off suggestively.

"Uh...I suppose my house is fine. I'll text you the address."

She grins. "Thanks Kurt, you're the best."

 


 


Kurt was a ball of nerves. He'd never had anyone other than Tina and Artie at his house, and Brittany was the only one who'd met his Dad. Kurt's room was far more masculine then it had been in middle school, but he knew it was still a far cry from a normal teenage boy's room. He took steps to ease his nerves, hiding away his tiara collection (one of the only feminine things he had kept instead of selling or packing away) and after a few minutes hesitation also put away the makeup part of his skin care routine.

Looking around his room for more things to hide, he suddenly felt incredibly stupid. He was Head Cheerleader for gods sake, it wasn't like it was a big secret he was a bit feminine.

He headed up stairs to open the door when it rang, smiling at his Dad on his way over there, who pretended to be absorbed in the TV though he wasn't fooled. Santana, Matt, and Moke stood at the door, with Santana swearing at an amused Matt.

"Kurt! How nice to see you!" Mike said loudly, moving into the house. He leaned close to him, smiling. "Save me. They've been arguing since they saw eachother."

Kurt laughed quietly, inviting everyone in. Santana kept arguing, switching to Spanish though Kurt remembered that Matt was in the top students for Spanish so he likely still understood. Matt replied in low tones that Kurt couldn't hear, but seemed entertained rather than angry like Santana.

"What are they arguing about?" Kurt asked Mike just as quietly, watching them warily as they clamored down his stairs.

"Something about a book that both read? Or maybe a movie? I'm not sure. Oh! Brittany is running late, she lost her keys in her old sandbox." Mike relayed.

Kurt was stopped from replying when Santana shouted, throwing herself backward on the bed when they entered his room.

"Kurt! How come you never told us your room is so bitchin?" She cackled, bouncing slightly.

"Dude are those hanging chairs?" He heard Matt say lowely to Mike, who was loudly commenting on how huge Kurt's closet was.

"Did you hire decorators or something?" Santana asked, causing Kurt to turn slightly pink.

"No, I re-decorated last year. Before that it had sparkles and animal print and posters." He admits.

"Dude that is so cool! I can't even dress myself sometimes." Mike laughs, sitting on the comfortable couch in front of his TV. Matt nods from where he's running his hand over Kurt's barre.

He smiled, moving over to join Mike on the couch and clicking on his TV. "Thanks. I hear you're more interested in my Just Dance though." He teased.

Mike lit up, talking excitedly while Kurt booted it up. He offered Mike the Wii remote first. "Guest privileges."

Mike took it, smiling. "Any suggestions for the song then?"

Kurt smiled mischeviously. "I couldn't convince you to do 'Walk Like an Egyptian' could I?"

Mike barked out a laugh, grinning broadly. "Only if I can choose yours after." He said. Kurt agreed and Mike started, flawlessly hitting the moves. He started loosing the cleaness of his moves when Santana started obnoxiously singing along, doing clumsy imitations of the dance behind the couch. Kurt clapped, listening to his friends laugh and dance, feeling like he couldn't breathe through his own giggling.

Finally Mike finished a nearly perfect dance, taking a minute to breathe and banter with Santana before scrolling through the songs to choose one for him.

"Wait! That one! Make him do that one!" Santana shouted gleefully, causing Mike to stop on 'Toxic'. Kurt started in on his own disagreement but Like was looking at him with a glint in his eye.

"You said I could pick Kurt. I choose 'Toxic'."

Santana started cackling again, collapsing on the big couch and shoving Kurt forcefully off of it with her feet. "Kurt can do this in in his sleep!"

"How do you even know that?" He grumbled, snatching the Wii remote and standing in front of the TV.

"You traded me that piece of info for a favor last month." She said smugly.

The music started up and Kurt fell into pose, sending one silly grin over his shoulder before taking a deep breath. Serious dancer mode activated.

He struck the first move easily, and fluidly moved into the next, striking almost as many perfects as Mike had. When the lyrics started he began to sing along, thrilled despite his embarrasment at having a chance to show off. Santana joined in as a background singer, whistling sometimes when he hit impressive moves. He never missed one, dancing the entire dance with new pitch perfect time as he sung. Although it wasn't really a challenge, Santana had been right when she said he could do it in his sleep. He had polished this performance, and would do average on most of the other dances.

However when he ended, sweaty and body language sassy, he got three days of hands clapping for him. They were chuckling and joking but seemed genuinly impressed, and he handed over the remote to Santana feeling weightless in the best way.

"Now watch and learn bitches, Auntie Snix is going to show you go it's done." Santana bragged, clicking on'SOS'.

The rest of the night passed in a blur of laughter and shoving, jokes and greasy pizza he almost never ate. Brittany showed up with the pizza, and quickly joined in, sparing a bit of time to talk to Kurt about their songs for Glee. Santana was being surprisingly tight lipped, and wouldn't tell them a thing. Kurt had had the best time in a long time, and he was a bit sad to wave them off at the door. But he had work at the Garage in the morning.

When he closed the door behind them, he faces his Dad, seeing the pleased expression on his face.

"They were really nice kids Kurt. I'm proud you made friends like that, even if that girl Santana could use a little disipline." Burt said, "I'm real glad that you found a group who accept you, treat you right."

Kurt's breath hitched, mind stuttering to a stop at the word 'accept'. And without thinking. He blurted out, "Dad I'm Gay."

He regretted the words immedietly, his stomach dropping like a stone to his feet and his breathing stopping. He looked at his Dad with a 'deer in the headlights' expression, praying to a god he didn't believe him that this was a best case scenerio.

Burt nearly tripped, having started moving. He stared at Kurt with wide eyes for a moment, before rushing forward and tugging him into a tight hug.

"I'm so proud of you son. I'm real glad you told me, and I want you to know not only do I still love you just as much, I'm so damn proud of you. You are a good kid, and you're going to be a great man someday." Burt whispered into his hair, and the words mixed with the tight, safe embrace caused Kurt to cry, clutching his father close. He felt light, if a bit dizzy at how quick it all happened.

They say down and had a talk after Kurt dried his eyes, setting out expectations and reassuring themselves that little would change. That Burt didn't care what Kurt did or wore, as long as he respected himself and didn't stop being a good kid.

Kurt couldn't stop smiling at work the next day.

Chapter Text

This fic is far from abandoned! But I have hit a roadblock in the next chapter. I have ideas for future ones, but currently am a little stuck. How about people leave suggestions of things they'd like to see in the next chapter? Maybe one of them will inspire me!

Chapter Text

"Hey, I'm going to have to cancel on our hang out tonight. I have to practice my song for Glee Club."

Puck groans, letting his body fall back heavy onto his unmade bed. "Lame. You know since Finn decided to be a bitch baby that you're the only person I hang out with." He doesn't mention Quinn, he doesn't know what happened between the four but he knows it wasn't pretty.

He can almost hear her smirk over the phone. "Me and Kurt."

That stupid whatever it is swells up in him, and he can feel his heart skip a beat. "Yeah, but he's probably practicing too. And..you know…I haven't had him over to my house yet."

"Puck, he isn't going to judge you. He doesn't care you live in apartment."

"Yeah, well I haven't been to his house either. We only hang out after practices." Puck says bitterly. Whatever, if Kurt doesn't want to be friends with him that's fine.

"You know that's just because of his schedual. And Kurts really not used to making friends, up until us he had the same two since elememtary school. And we shoved our way in, didn't wait for permission." He hears her brighten a bit. "Maybe you should try that."

"Yeah, probably not. Anyway, thanks for telling me. I'll see you at school tomorrow."

They say goodbye and hung up, leaving Puck to the silence of an empty house and a day with nothing to do. He runs a hand through his mohawk, letting his head fall to the side. He blows out a breath, but is distracted when his eyes fall on to something in his open closet.

Under a pile of clothes he can see his old guitar, hidden at the back of the closet with a snapped string. His eyes lingat in it, and he recalls learning to play it back in 6th grade. He smiles remembering Finn learning the drums so they could be a rock band, man they sucked. But he remembers being pretty good by the end of middleschool, dreaming of vein on stage. Man, playing that guitar made him happier than anything else those years.

Then his mom got drunk on her and shithole's anniversary and flipped when she saw him playing it. She threw it, luckily only breaking the strings, and the ensuing fight had been one of their worse.

Puck stares at it for another minute before hauling himself up and grabbing his wallet, shoving into his shoes before running out of the house.

 


 

 

His fingers ached, slightly pink and stinging even hours after he had set the guitar down. But the sight of his favorite Cheerios strutting down the hall makes it easy to ignore. Their linked at the pinkies and pressed close, the girls giggling at Kurt's pink face. He smiles fondly. They're pretty far away, but when the noise in the hallway lulls for a second he can hear Santana's voice mention 'Dick balloons'. His smile drops, and he blinks. Um…

They come closer, Kurt a pretty shade of pink and look in ready to hit the girls. He interupts whatever…fascinating conversation they're having by calling out, "Hey, Kurt!"

Kurt startles, and he sees Santana snicker. Puck ignores her and gestures Kurt over. Kurt nods, and his girls give his hand a quick squeeze before continuing down the hall.

Kurt stands in front of where Puck's leaned against the lockers, smiling up at him. Puck unconsciously mirrors it.

"What's up, Puck?" He asks, shifting his bag on his hip.

"I wanted to tell you about the hyperbole I had yesterday. I was staring at the-"

Kurt interupts him, expression amused and confused. "I don't think that's the right word."


Puck furrows his eyebrows. "A sudden understanding isn't a hyperbole?"

"No. That's an epiphany. But good try, that word is bigger than you usually use." Kurt teases, and Puck can't find it in himself to be embarrassed at the mistake.

"Yeah, yeah. So I had this epiphany while looking at my old guitar. I had this dream in middle school to be a rockstar, like my old man. Taught myself guitar and everything. I was sure it would be a total chick magnet, even made Finn learn the drums. But freshman year I stopped playing, forgot about it." Puck starts, getting excited. Kurt's expression isn't something Pick can name, but it fills his stomach with warmth.

"Why'd you stop?" Kurt asks. Puck's good mood dips a bit, and he knows his smile is more forced but he can't do anything about it.

"That's not important." His smile was quickly back, eager to tell Kurt the news. "What's important was looking at that guitar I realized I had loved playing it. Music has always been important in my life in a way I never realized. I want to relearn it, become attuned to how music affects people. I want to join Glee."

Kurt looks approprietly surprised, and the crooked smile on his face is worth the aches in Puck's fingers and the lightness of his wallet. "Puck that's great!Do you have a song picked out for your audition?"

"Yeah, I was going to audition at lunch. I'd ask if you wanted to come, but you have an extra Cheerio practice or something, right?"

"Yeah, how did you know?"

"I'm friends with a bunch of Cheerio's. I tend to hear things." Puck grins. "Anyway, I'll see you around, right? After school?"

"Of course." The bell rings above their heads, and they part ways, Kurt's bright presence disappearing into the rush of students.

Puck smashes the audition, and the praise from Mr. Shud is actually kinda creepy. You'd think he doesn't already have several male members. Lunch is still going so Puck creeps down to the empty gym to spy in the Cheerios.

His boy stood center, focused expression as he holler out moves. The Cheerio's are working through their new pep rally routine, and a best pulses through the gym as the girls clumsily hit moves. Puck grins, noticing how into Kurt is. The way he smoothly slides through the dance, all while shouting at the girls to do better.

He isn't sure when Kurt moved from 'annoying kid fun to rile up' into 'his boy', but it happened somewhere between lunches with the guy and hang in our after practice. It was easy to stop seeing Kurt's habits and attitude as snobby and annoying and to start seeing them as endearing. To start seeing Kurt as adorable. Badass though, Kurt has all the fury and attitude of his Ma and Nana mixed.

He watches the red clad boy pause and finally turn to walk around and correct, still snapping out insults. Puck could see a freshman crying in the back and felt pride swell in his chest. He takes more of a now familiar sensation swelling as well, and notes it for later. He ook one last look at his boy and stalks off to lunch.

 


 

 

His first Glee practice is chaos, and one of the only highlights is getting to sit next to Kurt and the girls and listen to them whisper snarky comments as that short annoying girl gives a nasily performance of a sad love song while making googoo eyes at Finn, when he sings a song about being conflicted without the range for the song, and then again when Shue goes into a gushing ramble about how amazing that are and how lucky the club is to have them. Puck can't believe this.

The drama in the club is easy to see from his first moment in there, and by Thursday he's in disbelief with the other members. Artie and Tina are actually snobbish and rude, The black girl Toyota or whatever refuses to actually speak up for herself and just gossips and complains, and Quinn's playing the ice queen so succsessfully he wonders if she remembers it's a mask. It seems shallow that the only people he can currently stand are the other popular kids, but it seems that they were the only ones who refused to get involved. Hell, Matt and Mike were playing Mario Cartduring practices.

But he stuck it out, and Thursday shows him that it was the right choice.

"Okay guys, today we have Kurt, Santana, and Brittany going. Santana, wanna get up here?" Shue starts, gesturing to the floor next to him. Santana's smirking in excitement, and staggers down to stand center. Her hairs down from her right ponytail, and boys out in waves around her though she still wears the uniform. With a snap of her fingers she's off, pouring her heart into Pink's 'So What'. True to the assignment, she's barely restraining a grin and is obviously energized and happy as she belts out the lyrics. She dances across the room and even goes up to plop herself in Matt's lap as she sings at one point.

Her claps aren't as loud as the star duos, but Kurt lets out a sharp whistle and the three of them in the left corner are doing their best to make up for it.

She's flushed and chuckling when she sits back down, and means on Kurt while he tells her how well she did. Brittany goes down next, immedietly grinning and striking a sassy pose as the music starts.


Her voice is teasing and mischevious, and Puck can see Santana and Kurt lipsyncing the lyrics to eachother while giggling.

When I grow up, I wanna be famous, I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies.

A pose was struck hard. And her hair glee around her head.

When I grow up, I wanna see the world, Drive nice cars, I wanna have boobies!

She grabs her chest then, before twisting into a spin and catwalking closer to the bleachers tfor her next lines.

The two next to him as well as Matt and Mike are laughing by the end of it, and there's barely enough time for applause before Santana forces Kurt up and towards the floor. He goes, smiling and thrumming with excitement as he stands next to a sweaty Brittany.

"Mr. Shuester I was hoping Brittany could help me with the dancing part of this, as long as I sing alone." Kurt asks, but it's obvious by the way Shue barely gets an answer out before the best starts that Kurt didn't really care. Santana pulls something out of her bag and throws it down to Brittany who tugs her hair down and slips the item on, sunglasses.

Kurt's voice is low and seductive, and fills the room warmly as he slowly chases Brittany across the room. He mockingly swaggers towards her, lyrics both a plea and a mockery.

I got you, all figured out

You need everyone's eyes just to feel seen

Behind your makeup

Kurt placed a finger under Brittany's chin and flirtily brings it closer to his as if to kiss her, eyes twinkiling.

Nobody knows who you even are,
Who do you think that you are?

He pulls on her hand and forces her into a spin instead of kissing her, and she lets out a peak of laughter despite the cruel lyrics.

If I could write you a song to make you fall in love

I would already have you up under my arm

I used up all of my tricks, I hope that you like this

But you probably won't , you think you're cooler than me.

She ends up pressed with her back to his chest, his arms around her as he croons,

You got designed shades just to hide you're face

He plucks the sunglasses off her nose and sound her back out away from him, walking away from her as he slips the glad we on himself.


And you wear them around like you're cooler than me.

For the rest of the song Brittany and Kurt playfully circle eachother, doing smooth choreography that Brittany must have created. Puck's breath is caught in his lungs as Kurt's voice washer over him, and he can't help the pinkening of his cheeks. This was a Kurt Puck had never seen before, and he found he likes it alot. He did always like them feisty.

By the time Kurt collapses next to him, sweaty and flushed with messy hair and sunglasses slipping down his nose, Puck knows he's fucked in one of the best ways. And while Kurt is glowing with pride as the members finally sit up and take some notice in him, Brittany smacks a kiss on his cheek.

And Puck gets a bad feeling straight through his good ones that maybe despite Santana's words, this performance wasn't filled with fake flirting. Maybe Pick had been a giant dick and stereotyped Kurt as gay because of his tight pants and perfect hair.

And wouldn't that just be Puck's luck, to have the first full crush he's had in ages end up batting for the other team. Brittany hangs off of Kurt's arms and Puck's smile becomes strained. Great.

Chapter Text

April Rodes is old, desperate, and reaks of alcohol. She dresses like a stripper, pretends to be a teenager, and her flirting with the football players is not only disgusting but illegal. However, Kurt prefers her to Rachel. April's voice may be her only redeeming quality, but she's good. And with her leading the club, New Directions will stand out. April had a unique voice, compared to Rachel Berry who sounded just like every other teen singer with Broadway aspirations.

And while Kurt is enjoying the break from Rachel's presence, he himself had no break in sight. Sectionals for Cheerleading is coming up, and while Glee is sloppy and casual, Coach Sue was in her element.

"Bases! Throw your fliers higher or you'll be doing pushups till Christmas!" Coach shouts, pacing up and down the gym floor. Kurt flexes his sore arms and moved back into position as the music restarts. He forms the basket and watched Brittany climb in, throwing her up with all his strength as the bass drops in the song. Brittany gets a bit of air before smoothly moving into a backflip and landing in the basket next to them. The basket he and Tiffany were making catches Santana, who had come from the bases Brittany was caught by. The crisscrossing toss was almost impossible, requiring both height and speed that wore his arms out quicker than usual.

"Rodgers, keep your chest up during the jump! Williams, you drop my girl and I will drop you off a bridge!"

The music starts again, and Kurt feels like he's trapped in a nightmare loop, the repeating time carving itself into his brain. Basket, Brittany, toss, catch. They've been practicing this move for two days, and he's starting to hate it more than their hellish combo. Coach orders them to do it again. Kurt is sweat in in places he didnt know he could and his muscles are screaming. Basket, Brittany, toss, catch. When Santana lands in his arm his knees threaten to buckle, and she's glistening in sweat. Basket, Brittany, toss catch. Kurt sees four girls collapse out of the corner of his eye and prays Coach won't keep them late for it.

He's so relieved he could cry when Coach immedietly dissmisses them, ignoring the insults hurled their way. All he wants it to head home and shower, but instead he falls to the floor and starts his stretches. Life will only be that much harder tomorrow if he skips them.

"I think she might be trying to murder us." Santana groans, joints popping as she joins him. She looks like she hand slept in three days, and has enough sweat on her to coat the gym floors. He knows he looks the same.

"I don't remember sectionals prep being this hard last year." He groans as he works out the stiffness in his thigh. "Of course, I could have blocked it out."

"I don't think I'll make it to nationals." Brittany whimpers, facedown on the linoleum on Santana's other side. He makes a noise of agreement, getting to his feet with a bit of effort.

"Hey San, can I catch a ride home tonight with you? Dad's out with some friends and I can't walk home after that."

Santana looks up at him, eyes narrowing in thought. "What do I get out of it?"

"I'll bring you homemade muffins to Saturday's 6am practice."

She thinks it over. "Throw in an espresso and you got yourself a deal."

"Fine." Kurt immedietly agrees. Santana is on her feet in seconds, dragging him towards the exit. He doesn't bother protesting, just grabs his stuff from the bleachers and let's himself be tugged along.

The next day he almost calls in sick, body aching and tired enough that the thought of dealing with everything made him want to scream. But he managed to drag himself out of bed and make himself look presentable. Somehow.

The days a blur, both Santana and Brittany just as low energy as him. April Rhodes corners him before Glee though, and it's like a bad omen.

She's holding a brown bag, and he knows nothing good can be in there.

"Hey Kurty-"

"Don't call me that."

"I brought you some gifts. I know we didn't get off on the best foot, but I was hoping you'd reconsider."

He raised an eyebrow, making a vague noise. "And what are you bribing me with?"

She pulls out a bottle of alcohol from the bag, but he interiors before she can even start speaking.

"I don't think so. If Coach Sue catches even the slightest whiff of alcohol near me I will spend the next year in hell. Not to mention if I really wanted to drink, I have unlimited access to Puck and Santana's stash."

She frowns, but reached back in the bag. "How about retro skin mags?"

He's quiet for a moment, staring at the tan skin and abs in the guy in the cover. Eventually he sighs and holds a hand out. "Fine, hand them over."

She grins and eagerly slaps them into his hand, before rushing off somewhere else. He flushes when he peaks at all the magazines, and quickly tucks them into his designer messenger bag.

It's only as he's entering the choir room that he wonders how she knew he was gay.

The club is the most cheerful they've been since Rachel left, clumps of people harmonizing in the stands and Finn practicing his line dancing with Mike near the band. Kurt cranes his neck, trying to find Mr. Shue in the groups.

He's suddenly slammed into from the side, muscle memory the only reason he doesn't call over. He immedietly moves to support the person who had jumped into his arms, grabbing them under the hips and knees as his legs brace to support the sudden weight. He instincually spins to balance the momentum, flawlessly pulling off a move that coach had forced them to practice for two hours Monday.

The person turns out to be Brittany, giggling and kicking her feet once they come to a stop. "Coach has freed us from practice! Let's go!"

He's relieved to hear that, and gently eases her down to stand. Santana had walked up with Brittany, and promptly let's out a loud groan.

"Seriously? Practice is going to be hell with out you two. We'll have to use the backup losers and when they screw up the routine Coach is going to torture all of us."

Kurt winces sympatheticly. "Sorry San."

She glares playfully at him, cocking out a hip. "Just remember to bring those muffins tomorrow."

Brittany is starting to bounce inpatiently, so Kurt quickly agrees and hurries off to where he can see Mr. Shue coming out of his office.

"Mr. Shue! Brittany and I have to talk to you!"

The teacher pauses, looking surprised. He looks over the both of them carefully, as if trying to find a reason for the conersation.

"I wanted to let you know we both are unable to attend practice tonight, we have to get to ballet before 4. Actually, we really should get going, we just stopped in so you knew." Kurt explains, eyeing the clock.

"Ballet? You've never needed to leave practice for Ballet before." Mr. Shue's forehead wrinkles, look in both confused and annoyed.

The way he says it makes Kurt bristle, as if Mr. Shue thinks they're either lying or just joined Ballet. "Yes, well Coach Sue forced us to skip our last class due to a late practice, and we need to make those hours up or we won't be qualified to perform in the recital this month." He explains, a bit shortly. A few of the other glee kids where staring at them now, and Kurt wishes they could just leave.

"You guys can't just skip rehearsal! Especially this close to invitationals!" Finn interupts, loudly drawing the attention of everyone else in the room.

Kurt quirks an eyebrow, annoyed. "We have to, we have Ballet."

Finn steps closer to them, angry. "Glee should be your top priority!"

Kurt lets out a short, humorless laugh. "Glee is my last priority! I am not going to put a club I've been in for less than two months over a class I've been taking for 12 years. Especially when Invitationals isn't even a competition!"

He grabs Brittany's hand and leads them out of the room, past a red faced Finn and a silent Mike. He doesn't slow down until theyre nearing his dads truck. Brittany doesn't complain, just climbs into the backseat after him and buckling up. His dad catches his eye on the rearview mirror, looking worried. He just shakes his head, and they spend the ride in silence.

He doesn't speak till he's changed out of his cheer uniform into black tights, a white tanktop, and his work ballet slippers. Brittany is already stretching out when he enters, and he's quick to join her. She glances over, hair falling over her face and cascading down the leg she is stretched over.

"You okay now?" She asks quietly. He gives a tired sigh, and nods.

"Sometimes I think Glee hurts it's members more than it helps. For a group that stresses family and raising eachother up all we seen to do is tear eachother down." He responds, just as quiet and serious. A heavy silence follows, and neither feel the need to break it.

Their instructor shows up a few minutes later, and they're run through choreography and moved until class files in an hour later. The dance for the recital is quite beautiful, fluid and longing, and the effort helps Kurt clear his mind and calm down. By the end of class he's completely relaxed and in a much better mood.

He and Brittany are giggling as they do easy lifts when the class is called into attention. Madame Lea stands stern in the center of the room, young face relaxed and pleasent. The group of 15 or so gather around her, curious.

"November is drawing close, and that means so does our Christmas Ballet. This year we're doing the classic Sleeping Beauty, and once again we are pairing with the much larger ballet company in Westerville. Auditions at held the next two classes, so prepare and know I expect the best. Competition is tough, so let's show those big city kids we are just as good as them!." Madame explains, ignoring the squealing that starts up due to her words. She smiles, and claps her hands, ordering everyone off to stretch and head home.

Kurt walks over to the barre mechanically, mind buzzing with excitment, shock, and worry. The Sleeping Beauty was a beautiful ballet, and his mom had taken him to see it when he was young and just starting class. He remembers gazing up at Prince Désiré and being determined to play him one day. But he was so overworked already, and he couldn't imagine trying to learn an audition on top of Invitationals and Sectionals.

Brittany beside him however was beaming, sweat matting a few stray hairs to her sweaty skin. "Oh I love Sleeping Beauty. It's so sad she forgot to set an alarm clock." She switches legs. "I want to play the pretty singing bird girl!"

Kurt chuckles, stretching out his arms. "You mean Princess Florine? She dances with the Bluebird."

Brittany nods excitedly, doing a small pique in place. "I'll be the prettiest bird! Who do you want to audition for, Kurt?"

"Prince Désiré." Kurt replies immedietly, before frowning. "Perhaps I should aim lower. Prince Charming or one of the suitors.."

"Audition high, and if they don't like you for the role all the male roles are lower." Brittany tells him, resting her hand on his shoulder. He smiles softly, placing his hand on top of hers.

When he gets home he longs for his bed and a long rest, but he has French homework and muffins to bake for the next morning. So with great reluctance he drags his sore body into the kitchen after a light dinner. He turns on the music from the Sleeping Beauty ballet, humming along as he spreads out his French homework on one counter and the ingredients for muffins on the other. He stirs his mix while reciting French verb tenses, and places the muffins into the oven while singing the invitationals setlist, first in English and then again in French. He has a pounding headache and is exhausted to his bone, nearly falling asleep over his notebook when he finally had a hand free to start in his homework.

By the time the muffins scent is wafting through the kitchen he's yawning deeply into a textbook, huddled over the counter and trying not tondoze off. It's only going on seven, but wrapped up warm in his matching flannel pajama set and the consequences of his schedual catching up on him, a nap sounds like the best thing ever.

He's startled out of his state by a trilling coming from his phone, interrupting the instrumental music playing on his phone. He reaches over and answers it, confused.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Kurt! It's Puck." A deep voice on the other end replied. Kurt's even more confused now.

"Puck? Not that it isn't nice to hear from you but..what do you want? You never call me." A beeping from behind him makes him jump, before he's hurrying over to take the muffins out of the oven. He mutters a curse when he accidentally burns himself.

"You okay?" Puck asks, having apparently heard that.

"Fine. Making muffins to appease Santana." Kurt laughs, voice thick with sleep.

"Oh. Well, I was wondering if I could come over? So we could hang? We don't spend much time together anymore and-" Puck asks, speaking a bit quickly and obviously nervous.

"I can't." Kurt interupts, placing the muffins on a cooling rack with one hand.

"Oh. Well, sorry for bothering you." Puck says, dissapointed. Kurt suddenly realises how that sounded.

"It's not like that. It's just, I've had a long week and I have to be up at 5am tomorrow so I can get to Cheerio practice…I'm about to pass out talking to you actually. So now isn't isn't good time." A yawn is forced out of him. "How about tomorrow? I get off at 2, so you can show up at my place around 3?"

"That sounds great. Uh, good luck tomorrow dude. Ok see you then?"

"Sure, see you. Bye, Puck." Kurt smiles, warmth curling up in hisbstomach at the happy tone on the other end. They hang up, and Kurt is still smiling when he collapses into bed.

Stepping into practice early Saturday morning, the first thing he notices is Brittany showing off Échappés and Grand-battements for Santana and a few others. The second thing he notices is Quinn arguing with Coach Sue. That can only spell trouble.

Ever since she first flew off the handle, Quinn has been in a steep downward spiral. Solo she isn't respected or feared, and she's almost always found either clinging to Finn or glaring at him. She's frazzled, which means she isn't doing her best in Cheerios, which means she's out of Coach's favor. And that means she's out of everyone else's favor. He's just thankful she hasn't started anything with him since, he had enough to deal with.

Kurt turns away from the drama, marching over to Santana and presenting her with a muffin. Santana's eyes go wide and she smiles, snatching the good and quickly starting to eat it. He laughs, taking in her tired appearence. Most of the Cheerios looked like zombies, desperately drinking healthy smoothies and chowing down power bars. Anything to get them through the coming hours.

Brittany looks fully awake, bouncing over to them with bright eyes and a healthy flush to her cheeks. But Brittany had always been a morning person. Kurt didn't use to be, but since he started training for Cheerios hes continued to wake up and take a morning jog every day.

A screech fills the auditorium, causing most to flinch. "Alright you brainless moles, let's start at the top with our combo!"

It's a mad scramble to get into position, gearing Coach's wrath. And as the music starts, and Kurt springs into a roundabout, he prays he makes it through this alive. Roundabout, Arabian, Three Back Handsprings, a Layout and a stepout. It's a hell of a combo to start the show, and Kurt dreads what she's going to come up with for Regionals.


They spent an hour on the combo, and then an hour on kick doubles, an hour on their basket tosses, and two hours on their pyramids. Finally, at ten they were allowed a small break. Kurt spent the entire half an hour laying sprawled out on the ground and cataloguing the aches and pains in his body. Then three hours on the dance moves and smaller stunts, during which Kurt is kicked no less than 7 times and he's certain he looks like a giant bruise under his uniform. By lunch, he can't remember what it's like to breathe normally and he's so sweaty he doesn't think he'll ever get it all off.

Santana is dead weight in her seat, even Brittany is looking moments from collapsing. Their lunch is high in calories, a turkey wrap stuffed with good things and a large parfait, specifically chosen by the teams nutritionalist.

He fished his phone out of his bag, and found two text messages.

From: Dad
Two people called in sick so I won't be home until after dinner, don't set the house on fire
Saturday 11:48

Kurt smiles, and sent off a quick reply.

To: Dad
That's fine, I'm having a friend over after practice. Also, the only fire in the house was started by you. Love you.
Saturday 1:15

He checks the other message, and is pleasantly surprised.

From: Noah Puckerman
Just relizd u hv practice 4 8 hrs???? Ur crazy. Hope u rnt ded, c u @ 3
Saturday 9:02

Kurt let's out a small laugh, drawing Santana's attention.

"That the man of your dreams?" She asks mischevieously, not raising her face from the table, where her cheek is squished into the plastic. Kurt pinkens, look in up from his response.

"Actually it's the president." He says dryly, but the effect is ruined by his blush and an uncontrollable twitch of his lips.

To: Noah Puckerman
Coach is a bit of a homicidal dictator, but we don't have all those national trophies for nothing. I'll see you then, anything you want for dinner?
Saturday 1:18

"Kurt Hummel are you defiling out great President?" Santana teases. Brittany perks up.

"I don't blame you, if there's a perfect man it's Obama." She says seriously. Kurt blinks at her, but can't disagree. His phone goes off.

From: Noah Puckerman
U going 2 cook 4 me? That's awesum! Can we hv sumthng w bacon?
Saturday 1:19

To: Noah Puckerman
Sounds good. We have to have a healthy side though, I have a preplanned diet and Coach can smell when we break it.
Saturday 1:20

"I didnt know you and Puck texted." Brittany comments. Kurt looks up.

"We don't usually, but he's coming over today and I wanted to know what to make."

Santana looks downright delighted. "Ooooo, some quality time with the boyfriend! And you're even cooking for him, how sweet."

Kurt flushes, tuckinghis phone away. "He isn't my boyfriend."

"Maybe you should be dinner."

"Santana!"


In the hour before Puck came over, Kurt took a thorough shower, picked up groceries, and settled in on the couch with his Calculus, AP History, and AP French textbooks. Les Mis played softly from his phone, and his hair was pinned back with clips instead of product. All around, he was comfortable. In a pair of women's gym shorts he uses to practice ballet in at home and a soft Cheerio's sweater, his bare toes curled against the couch as he scribbled out equations.

There is knocking, and Kurt scrambles to unearth himself from his textbook prison. He's a bit more ruffled when he opens the door, grinning up at his friend.

Pucks dressed in a retro 'Rugrats' t shirt and a fadded hoodie, a guitar strapped to his back, and a crooked smile on his face. Kurt can feel his heart flutter, and for the first time briefly wonders if this was a good idea. And then Puck speaks.

"If a cheerio practice manages to get you out of your fancy clothes and hair gel it must be murderous. Are the other girls dead?"

Kurt gestures for him to come inside, any doubt immedietly vanishing. Puck was more than a crush, hes the first guy who's always comfortable around him. Of course, he doesn't know Kurt's gay yet.

"Just in various states of unconciousness and tears. I was doing homework in the livingroom, so I just have to grab my stuff and we can head down to my room." Kurt explains, leading Puck into their livingroom. Puck gazes around, and obviously sees the pictures of Kurt on the walls. While Kurt is stacking his notebooks and textbooks, Puck is wandering around looking at them.

"Look how cute you are here!" Puck laughs, drawing Kurt's attention over to him. He walks over, looking at the picture that caught Puck's attention.

A four year old Kurt grins at the camera, a flower crown in his hair and a sparkly blue tutu over his ballet tights. He's stand in in fourth position on a stage, and two little girls can be seen behind him.

"That was my first ballet recital. That night I knew I wanted to dance as long as I could." Kurt says softly, smiling. Puck gives him a fond look that makes him melt, so he clears his throat and leads him down to his room.

Puck is just as impressed as the others were, though Kurt isn't sure about keeping it.

"This place is right out of a magazine." Puck comments, sitting in one of the basket chairs.

"It was modeled after a room in a magazine, with a few of my own touches. I'm thinking about remodelling though, It's a bit sterile. I'm thinking some wood and warm colors, a new bookshelf, mirrors around my barre.."

Puck glances over to the corner of the room where the carpet is wood and his workout gear sits. "Dude how do you even have time for everything? All of this and you design and decorate your room all the time?"

Kurt sets his stuff down on his nightstand, wandering over to his couch and tv. "I don't even know. At this point my body hurts so much it's numb and I've mastered multitasking." Kurt wasn't lying, his whole body was sore and faintly trembling. He's quick to sit on the couch, giving a quiet with of relief.

"Jeez Kurt, that's no way to live." Puck's eyebrows furrow as he frowns. "Can't you drop something? Get some time to breathe?"

Kurt shook his head, stubborn. "Everything I do is my ticket out of Ohio. It's an impressive resume, ballet, voice lessons, piano lessons, nationally ranked cheerleader, a job, Glee club…"

Puck joins him on the couch. "Is it worth it?"

He stares into his eyes. "Every bit of it."

Puck nods, like he understands. There's quiet for a moment, and Kurt noticed Puck left his guitar on the bed.

"Want to watch a movie?" Puck asks before he can question the guitar. He agrees easily and tells Puck to choose. Puck kneels in front of Kurt's movie selection, reading some off.

"Ghost World, Mean Girls, Black Swan, The Ring?" Puck shoots Kurt a look over his shoulder, and Kurt just shrugs. Santana got him into horror movies, and Tina had started his teen movie love.

"Inception, Minority Report, Megamind….Hey let's watch this." Puck holds up Legally Blonde, something Kurt doesn't own.

"Oh, I didn't realize Brittany left that here. Pop it in."

Puck's expression twists for a brief second, but he starts up the movie and joins Kurt on the couch. The movie starts, but Pick keeps shifting around like he had something in his mind.

Sure enough, he speaks up a few minutes later. "You know, you and Brittany make a cute couple. It kinda sucks you never told me, but you guys could probably replace Quinn and Finn for golden couple."

His voice is akward and forced casual, and it takes a few moments for Kurt to wrap his head around what he just heard. His first reaction is to laugh, which makes Puck become visibly defensive.

"Puck I'm not dating Brittany." He laughs.

Puck's face wars between confused and something else. "Really? Like, is this the courting phase or something?"

Kurt covers his mouth with his hand, laughing a bit more. "No! I am not going to date Brittany. Or any girl for that matter, I'm gay, Puck."

"Oh. Are you out?" Puck asks akwardly, seemingly unable to think of anything else. Kurt tenses, some of his amusement disappearing.

"Yeah, I told my girls as soon as I knew, and my dad a few weeks ago."

Puck's expression changes, lips twisting down and looking away. Kurt's confused for a moment, but Puck continues.

"You ever going to tell me?" He asks, hurt. Kurt opens his mouth to respond, but Puck turns to face him better, speaking again. "Look, I know im not the nicest or most sensitive guy. I throw kids into dumpsters every morning, I've given more than my share of slushies. But damn it Kurt, you're my friend. And that means something to me. I won't ever bully you for something like this, I'm completely cool with it. You could come to school in a dress and a crown and Id support you. Hell, I'll wear one too if that's what it takes."

Kurt's breathless, staring into the earnest face in front of him. He appreciated the girls easy acceptence, and his dad's unconditional love, but Puck's reassurance and support was so comforting and wonderful Kurt years he might cry.

"Puck," He takes a deep breath. "I trust you. I wasn't hiding it out of fear or expectations on your behavior. I just forgot to come out to you." He laughs softly, body shaky with the emotions filling the space. He runs a hand through his hair, searching for Puck's hazel eyes. "It seems ridiculous, but when the weight of coming out to the girls and my dad was gone, I forgot the world didn't know. That every person I meet, I have to come out again. That people aren't going to magically know I'm gay just because I've accepted it."

There's silence for a brief moment, before Puck nods. The simple feature seemed to blow away the charged tension, the heaviness of the conversation. They smiled at eachother, and everything was right.

"My promise is still true though. Anything, dude, I'll support you. As long as you don't become a Nazi or a hockey player." He adds. Kurt shoves him, face splitting under his smile.

"Does this mean I can stop hiding my tiara collection?" Kurt teases, awed when Puck breaks out in laughter. He looks beautiful in this moment, and Kurt never wants to forget it.

"Only if I get to see it!!" Puck says, jumping off the couch and running to search for it. He hurries after him, shouting.


"My sister would love this movie. I really want to introduce her to strong, intelligent women you know?" Puck says, lazing on the couch. Kurt's feet are in his lap, and a glittering tiara sits crooked on his mohawk. Kurts wearing his own, a more delicate one compared to the jewel covered one Puck picked out.

"Elle Woods is an inspiration, and I would accept her as our president." Kurt agrees, laying sideways on the couch. "I also suggest The Devil Wears Prada, Coco before Channel, Mona Lisa Smile, and Mulan."

The move ends, and Puck stretches. When he stands up, Kurt asks, "Where are you going?"

"I brought a surprise, come on."

Kurt follows after him, face squished up in confusion. Puck grabs his guitar and sits on Kurt's bed, looking excited. Kurt humors him and sits down across from him, waiting expectantly.

"I realized you haven't heard me play yet, and I wanted to play for you, because since we met I feel like I'm on track to being a better person." Puck said, before clearing his throat and beginning to strum.


My friend the communist 

Holds meetings in his RV

I can't afford his gas

So I'm stuck here watching TV

I don't have digital

I don't have diddly squat

It's not having what you want

It's wanting what you've got

Puck's voice is pleasant and playful, his fingers expertly plucking out the notes. Kurt leans forward a bit, holding his breath as the music washes over him.

I'm gonna soak up the sun
Gonna tell everyone 
To lighten up
I'm gonna tell 'em that
I've got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I'm looking up
I'm gonna soak up the sun
I'm gonna soak up the sun

I've got a crummy job
It don't pay near enough
To buy the things it takes
To win me some of your love
Every time I turn around
I'm looking up, you're looking down
Maybe something's wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do

I'm gonna soak up the sun
Gonna tell everyone 
To lighten up
I'm gonna tell 'em that
I've got no one to blame
For every time I feel lame
I'm looking up
I'm gonna soak up the sun
While it's still free
I'm gonna soak up the sun
Before it goes out on me

Don't have no master suite
But I'm still the king of me
You have a fancy ride, but baby
I'm the one who has the key
Every time I turn around
I'm looking up, you're looking down
Maybe something's wrong with you
That makes you act the way you do
Maybe I am crazy too 

The chorus repeats, and Kurt is swaying in tune, a stupid smile on his face and warmth curling in his stomach. Puck catches his smile and returns it, stupidly charming. When the music fades from the room, Kurt's immedietly clapping.

"Puck that was amazing! Where did you learn to play that?"

Puck says down his guitar, flushed and giddy. "My dad taught me the basics, and I taught myself the rest. The song is currently my sister's favorite, other than disney. Did you like it?"

"I loved it! Really! You are talented, thank you for playing for me." Kurt grabs one of his hands, delighted. "How about I pay you back by cooking us dinner?"

"Sounds great."

Minutes later there's bacon sizzling in the pan, and old rock crooning from the radio. Puck has shed his hoodie, leaving his biceps free for Kurt to appreciate. Puck's singing along softly to the song while Kurt demonstrates how to dice vegetables.

"Keep your hand steady, those are more uneven than Rachel's bangs." Kurt scolds him, wrinkling his nose at the sloppy zucchini pieces. He slices through his tomato with practiced ease, but squacks when something is flicked at his ear. Puck pops a piece into his mouth, smirking down at him.

"What was that for?"

"You're a show off." Puck shrugs, tossing another cube at him. Kurt jokingly waves his knife at the teen, looking stern.

"If you could dice right you wouldn't consider it showing off. Now stop wasting food, that's for the salad."

"Yes mom." Puck groans, going back to his amature cutting. Kurt manuvers around him to take off the bacon and start preparing the salad, breathing in the scents wafting through the kitchen. Today had been fun, and he enjoys hanging out with Puck a stupid amount.

In 15 minutes the food is done, and they retire to the dinning room table with their plates. Puck almost immedietly digs into his BLT, making an exagerated moan.

"Where are your table manners? Your mother would be ashamed!"

"Nah, only my Nana still holds hope that I'll be a gentleman."

Kurt crosses his legs and tucks into his salad. "How is your family?"

"Mom's picked up an extra shift at the hospital so she's tired and grumpy. Adah is her usual self. Sweet until she doesn't get her way. She's recently gotten into reading though, so Mom and I have high hopes."

"I'll remember that. And Nana?"

"Old. Strict. I swore in front of her last Saturday and she whacked me with her cane before giving me her homade rugelach. Mom says she got in another fight with a PTA mom who didn't think she should bring Jewish desserts to the bake sale. I'm pretty sure Nana kicked her ass and then thanked her for her opinion."

Kurt lets out a startled laugh, nearly dropping his BLT. "I love your Nana. She isn't mad about you missing synagogue today was she?"

"Nah, she told me that you've done better with me than synagogue ever has. She wants to meet you by the way."

Kurt brightens, "Great! I'll bring kosher wine."

Chapter Text

The choir room is a mess of activity, soloists franticly practicing songs, members going over the choreography, clumps of people talking. Kurt's critiquing Finn's ability to hit the right notes with Santana while Brittany and Mike whirl around the room freestyling, when Shue walks in with his arms full of boxes. Everything goes quiet, everyone curious as he sets the boxes down.

"The costumes are here!" Shue starts cheerfully, clapping his hands. He regretfully adds, "However we didn't have the budget to tailor them, so they aren't going to fit great. Unless one of you girls can sew?" He asks hopefully. The room is silent for a few minutes, everyone looking around at eachother. When no one speaks up, Kurt knows what he's going to have to do.

"I can, Mr. Shue. I know how to tailor and sew." He volunteers, already dreading the long night of sewing ahead. Shue perks up though, and the glee kids smile again, so he can't regret his decision. Brittany frowns though, and Santana and Puck both give him a long look he can't decipher.

"Really? Thanks Kurt. If you could take people's measurements right now that would be prefered." Shue told him, gesturing to the boxes and moving over to talk to April, ending the conversation and allowing everyone else to continue what they were doing. Kurt sighs, standing up and ignoring the low ache in his legs, and goes down to the front of the room. He manages to locate a measuring tape and starts.

Santana is first, as she isn't busy. He positions her in front of him and ignored the flirty wink she shoots him when he placed his hands firmly on her waist to do so. He gives her a serious look, pointing a finger at her.

"I'm going to start with your chest. No lewd comments or I make it too loose, understand?" He says firmly, his smile giving away his playfulness. She salutes him, flashing a grin.

"Yes, sir!"

He placed the tape on her breasts and wraps it under her armpits to the other side, making sure the tape is snug but not pulled tight. He marks down the number in an open notebook and moves on to her waist, repeating the movements between her bellybutton and ribcage. He doesn't notice her expression melts into concern when he pauses to crack his back and yawn. He's measuring her hips when she speaks up.

"Kurt, this was a bad idea."

He glances up. "What was?"

"This! Deciding to tailor all of this! You only have one night to do it and you're already run ragged!" She elaborates, mouth purses into a displeased line. Kurt blinks at her and she stares at the bags under his eyes, desperately attempted to be covered by concealer.

"What was I supposed to do, let us perform in baggy and unattractive costumes. I can do it." He brushed off her concern, markinf another number into his notebook. Santana scowles, she hates it when he doesn't listen to her.

"I know you can do it, but you shouldn't be doing it and cheerleading practice and ballet auditions and AP classes and two other extra classes and a job. You're wearing yourself ragged and it's going to end up killing you!" She argues, grabbing his hands where they are measuring her thigh. He pauses, look in into her eyes with a tired look on his face.

"Come over tonight, my Mom owns a custom dress shop and can help you sew all of this."

"San-"

"Don't argue!" She cuts him off. "If you do this by yourself you'll be up all night and off your game tomorrow. Come over and let us help." She insists. Kurt visably deflated and gives her a half smile.

"Yes, ma'am. I'll text my dad and we can go pick up my stuff from my house." He agrees. They finish in silence and he sends her on her way, telling her to grab Brittany and Mike for him to measure.

Brittany spends the time talking about Kurt making Lord Tubbington a suit so he can get a job, while Mike watches amused. Shes over faster and he makes a special note next to her measurements to make sure he makes the pants a bit short so she doesn't dirty them. Mike seems nervous when Kurt holds the tape up to his chest to start, and Kurt quirks and eyebrow.

"I promise I'm not going to grab you're boobs." I jokes, knowing it wasn't that Mike was uncomfortable with Kurt. Mike laughs, and relaxes.

"I've just gained some weight since my last measurements and…I'm worried about my waistline." He quietly admits, looking embarrased. Kurt gives him a kind smile, sliding the tape down to his waist.

"Its okay Mike, everyone had body issues. You are far from fat, I promise, but I have some diet recomandations if you really want to slim down."

Mike raised his eyebrow, still looking unsure. "Everyone?"

Kurt thinks of the way Santana bemoans her eyebrows and leg hair, and how Brittany selfconciously plays with her stretchmarks and buys super padded bras. "Everyone." He assured him. Mike smiled again and allows Kurt to continue. Kurt asks about Mike's dance class and they chat easily before he sends him off to grab Matt.

Matt is silent throughout, having one of his quiet days. He grabs Mercedes, who is obviously just as self concious about her size. As he takes her bust measurements he quietly says, "Relax, measurments are for clothes, not for self worth."

She gives him a surprised look as he calmly takes her waist measurments. "What?"

"Mike looked just like you do when I took his, so I assume you're nervous about the numbers too. I'll tell you what I told him, you look fine to me but If you really aren't happy I know some health tips to start you off."

Mercedes is obviously embarrased, but smiled at him. "You're a charmer, Kurt Hummel. Right now I'm fine with my size, just a little self concious. But thanks."

He gives her a crooked smile, winking. "That's good, it'd be a shame to give up these curves for such a silly reason."

She giggles, and he quickly wraps it up, asking her to send Puck over. He watched her tap the boy on the should and day something, Puck glancing over his shoulder and walking over. He flashes Kurt a flirty smile.

"Need me to strip?" He asks teasingly, making Kurt laugh. Kurt steps up closer to Puck, wrapping the tape around his chest, fingers skimming the fabric.

"You can keep your clothes on, Mr. Puckerman. This shirt is plenty tight enough." He mocks, giving a pointed look to how the shirt curved against his body.

"Do you like it? Wore it for you babe." Puck jokes, watching Kurt slide the tape down to his waist. Kurt shakes his head in fake disapproval, tutting.

"Such a hussy." He sighs, moving to hisbknees to measure Puck's inseam, distracting himself to keep a blush off his face as his fingers trail across his jeans. Puck is quiet, and Kurt hurries to do the other or measurements so he can stand. He knows Puck is watching him, as he moves on to measuring his biceps, but doesnt mention it. He finishes and steps back.

"All done. Your measurements at perfect, as always." He shooes Puck off, both grinning stupidly. The smile drops when Tina is sent his way next.

He's completely silent as he starts, but Tina obviously wants to talk.

"It was really rude of you to just drop us like that, you know. I realize we can't compare to the popularity and coolness of your new friends, but to drop us like that just because we said something you didn't want to hear was mean." Tina said, quiet. He measured her waist a bit roughly, trying not to let his hurt and irritation show on his face.

"You told me I was pretending to be something In not just to be popular, and said that I didn't need to hang out with the stupid cheerleaders now that you were here." Kurt reminds her bitterly, not looking at her face.

"We're worried! You've suddenly become a completely different person than who we've known for years, and seeing you pretend like this hurts us." Tina argues.

"Only one of us has ever pretended to be something they aren't, and it isn't me." He said sharply, ignoring her sharp inhale.

"Kurt that's different-"

He pauses in his movements, glaring at her and causing her to go silent. "You're right, it is different. There's a big difference between joining a sport and making some friends, and faking a speech impediment for years. And there is a big difference between my popularity and the way that you act like you're better than everyone because you're so intelligent and you are so different in your goth clothes and fake stutter." She is shocked, wife eyes watching as he forcibly gathers his composure and hurries through the last measurements. She storms off and Artie wheels towards him.

Where Tina was chatty, Artie was an impenetrable wall of silence. Neither speak the whole time, and Kurt is almost relieved to see April walking towards him next.

April reeks of booze and uncomfortably flirts with him the entire time, leaving him stiff and wiping lipstick off his cheek.

Finn is noticeably uncomfortable the entire time Kurt measures him, and when Kurt goes to measure his inseam the giant teen lunges back, spluttering.

"Dude that's not okay!" Finn shouts, drawing the attention of most of the room. Kurt's brows furrow and he stared up at Finn in confusion.

"Excuse me? I'm just taking your measurements." He says slowely.

"You don't need to go near my junk to do that!" Finn argues, looking uncomfortable and angry.

"I'm measuring your inseam, I did it to everyone else too. It's necessary." Kurt explains, a sinking feeling in his gut as Finn continues looking down at him in panic. When Finn doesn't come back, Kurt turns to Mike with a frustrated sigh.

"Mike, you got fitted for a suit last spring, for your aunt's wedding right?" Kurt asks, though he knows the response.

"Yeah." Mike replies, looking between them worridly.

"Did the professional tailor measure your inseam?"

"Yeah, of course."

Kurt gives Finn a pointed look, and the boy reluctantly moves back to him. Kurt looks up at the guy who used to be his friend and wonders how much worse that would have been if Finn knew he was gay.

Finn hurries away as soon as he's done, and Kurt takes one look at Quinn walking towards him and decides he's had enough. He stands and stops her.

"I'll get your numbers from Coach." He says, before walking off.

 



"Hey buddy, you okay?" His dad's voice echoes from his phone, and he can see Santana watching him from the rearview mirror. The boxes of clothes and a bag of his stuff are in the seat next to him, and Santana's mother Lydia is driving, her long dark hair tied into a braid and dressed in a pinstripe blouse and a pencil skirt.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Our outfits for the Invitational tomorrow aren't tailored though, so I'm going over to San's tonight to tailor them with her mom." Kurt explains, the radio softly playing pop in the background. Santana is scrolling through her phone, Facebook from the looks of it, and he can hear the sounds of the shop from his dad's side.

He can also hear the irritation in his dad's voice. "It's a school night buddy, I don't know if I like the thought of you going over there tonight."

Kurt sighs. "Dad if I bring the clothes home and tailor them myself I'll be up till dawn, and I can't just not tailor them. All my homeworks done, I'm not grounded, and I'll go to bed at a reasonable time. I don't know what the problem is."

"Fine. I don't know why I even try to parent you, you obviously can do that yourself. See you tomorrow." The call ends and Kurt rolls his eyes, heaving a breath.

Santana looks over her shoulder at him, raising an eyebrow. "Everything cool?"

He runs a hand through his hair and nods. "Dad's always had a problem with how independent I am, he hates that I don't really need him to parent me. So every so often he tries to act like a dad. It doesn't work well." He explains, knocking his head back against his seat. Santana makes a noise of understanding and pats his thigh before turning back forward, asking her mom if they can have Chinese tonight.


The steady beat of the sewing machine thrums through the room, Lydia Lopez bent over it as she hems and tailors the pants. Kurt's crisscrossed on the couch next to her, wearing cheerio sweats and a baggy NYU sweatshirt, his hair pinned back by a bunch of bobby pins and a needle in his mouth as he quickly sews the cowboy shirt in his hands with nimble fingers. Santana is splayed on a recliner, legs hooked over an arm and another shirt in her lap over her red flannel shorts.

"And so this freshman bitch-"

"Santana." Lydia scolds her without looking up. Santana rolls her eyes.

"Anyway, she thinks she is the hottest shit. She keeps giving me these smug looks and trying to show off like anything about her could be better than me. How the heck did I and up with a wanna-be nemisis? I mean, I'm awesome, but still-"

She's intensely watching her hands as she clumsily pins the shirt so Kurt can sew it, hair a loose, frizzy mess around her makeup-free face and getting in her way. She pricks her finger and let's out a loud curse, pulling it back and popping the finger into her mouth. Her face is scrunched up in frustration, and Kurt can't help chuckling at it.

"How the fuck do you do this? My fingers are throbbing from how many times I've stabbed myself and my pins are crooked!" She complains, not for the first time as she drops the shirt and dramatically hangs over the arm. Kurt rolls his eyes fondly.

"Who's is it anyway?" She asks grumpily, returning to the work with an exaggerated sigh.

"Quinn's." Kurt says, mouth pinching over her name. He could barely look at her since she tried to throw a homophobic slur at him, the betrayal sharp and fresh no matter how long time went on.

"That girl is spiraling. Her popularity is at an all time low and she looks ready to snap."

"I think she already has. I saw her almost yelling at Coach the other day. It's like she has a death wish."

Santana nods, speaking around a spin in her mouth as she squints at the shirt. "I'm not surprised, with Finn making goo-goo eyes at Hairy Berry no matter what she does, she's lost everything that was important to her."

Kurt moves on to the next shirt, shaking his head. "What is up with Finn? He's completely blocked his friends out, Puck says he's turned into a Loser Knight, treating everyone who's popular like villians. I mean, sure, some of us are horrible and not all of us are the nicest, but its like he forgot why we act like this. I mean, he's even treating Mike like he's bent on murdering the nerds. Mike!"

"He's in looove. Hairy Berry is putting out or something, because he's following her around like a panting dog. Worse, like she hung the moon."

"I can't stand her. It's a blessing having her domineering personality out of the choir room. She acts like she's a blessing, the only girl in the world who can hold a tune. She's even got everyone else believeing it, even though she sounds like every other female singer out there. Sure, she had the technical aspect down pat, but she's bland and overdramatic, she doesn't know how to deliver the song to the audience."

"She's basic, that's for sure. Completely unoriginal and with an ego bigger than Finn's head." Santana agree's, cackling at her own joke. They're cut off by Lydia, who slows the sewing machine briefly.

"So! What are you guys singing for Invitationals? I'm sure it's great." She interupts, smiling at them. They get the hint, stopping the bashing and gleefully starting to sing the set-list. They're a little loud, and a little off-key, but they're grinning like loons, and really performing it. They relax into the work, the music easing their struggles if only for a moment.

 



The next morning Kurt carries the large boxes of costumes into Shue's office, Santana waiting in the hall with coffee. He clears his throat when Shue ignores him, rapidly talking into the phone and looking stressed. Normally, Kurt would just set the boxes down and leave, but he's tired, and his fingers are cramped, and he deserves some recognition for how hard he worked.

But after a few minutes, it's clear he isn't going to get any. He clears his throat again, and Shud finally looks up at him, gesturing for Kurt to set the boxes down in front of the deal and muttering a distracted, "Thanks, Kurt."

He sighs, irritated, and stalks out of the office, hoping his coffee will make the day bearable. However, inches outside of the door he runs, quite literally, into Rachel Berry. She's dull and morose, her face squished into misery and her clothes dark and drab, and Kurt looks over her head at Santana leaning against the wall longingly. But Rachel immedietly notices that it's him, straightening and lifting her chin high, arms crossed and expression shifting into pride and anger. He sighs again, tiredly, and wishes the day was over.

"Kurt! I know what you're going to say so save it, there is no way I'm rejoining Glee, no matter what you try and bribe me with! I have morals, unlike some stars, and you guys deserve to lose after how you treated me!" She declares, spitting it out in one breath and glaring at him haughtily. He gives her a confused look, too tired to deal with her crazy.

"I don't care." He pushes past her towards Santana, who waves at him, looking every bit the confident bitch with her sunglasses and smirk. He grabs his coffee from her without stopping, both of them heading down the hallway while Rachel gapes after them, shocked.

 



Afterschool Kurt heads towards the choir room with Mike, discussing the football teams recent losses and how busy his schedual is. Mike is sympathetic, knowing first hand about putting too much on your plate.

When they enter the room Kurt is hit first with how much hate skin is on display, taking a moment to figure out that the guys were changing into their cowboy costumes. It probably says something about him that he finds himself appreciating how well fitted the outfits turned out instead of all that skin, but he finds he doesn't mind. Mike and he part, Mike heading over to where Matt has his outfit hanging on a chair while Kurt fishes his own out of the empty box.

Finn is already dressed and rehearsing, and when he stumbled and nearly falls the room laughs. Mike pipes up, tugging on his pants. "Maybe you should just stand still and look pretty, we don't want you to hurt anyone with your moves, dude." He jokes, and Finn blushes bright. Kurt's distracted from the argument by Artie wheeling in, frustrated, his clothes piled on his lap. He looks even more embarrassed when the room falls silent, the guys looking akward and unsure what to do. Kurt rolls his eyes and pads over, barefoot, and grabs the clothes from his lap.

"Lift your arms." He orders, and he's aware of all the eyes on his back. Artie looks away, scowling.

"No way, dude, you don't have to-" Artie protests, but Kurt just cocks his hip and raises an eyebrow.

"After 7 years this is hardly my first time, Artie. So raise your arms and let me help, we're on a schedual." He points out, and relunctantly Argue does as he's told. Kurt gets to work, tugging his shirt up and off while conversation starts back up behind him, and from there it's simple. Kurt quickly and efficiently getting him into his top and taking off his shoes and socks to get to his pants.

It's not weird or sexual to Kurt, taking off Artie's pants. He knows how to differentiate between sexual and non-sexual situations for one, but he's also used to the movements. It wasn't a lie, in 7 years he's helped Artie more than he can count. He doesn't mind, everyone needs help in certain area's.

Artie doesn't seem to view it out of the way, scathingly asking, " What would your new friends think of you helping the cripple?"

Kurt looks up at him from where he's typing the new shoes, pursing his lips. "All my friends are good people, no matter what you think, and won't think anything about this." He says firmly, moving onto the other foot. "In fact, my friends are the only ones who made an effort to get to know you and Tina, because despite your social status they knew it was important to me." He continues, before standing up and picking up the cowboy hat. He looks down at Artie for a moment.

"What I want is important to them." He says finally, dropping the her on Artie's head and turning around. His mood shifts immedietly as he heads back to his pile of stuff.

"Puck! I swear to god if you don't put socks on before you stick your feet in those boots!" He yells, hiding a smile at the guilty look Puck shoots him, flashing a charming smile when he realizes he's been caught.

Not long after the girls file in, loud and laughing as they head immedietly to the the mirrors set up on one side of the room. Kurt heads over to them, bored with Puck and Mike's conversation about who knows what. Santana and Brittany are fussing with their hair, bag of makeup and hair products open in front of them while Tina and Mercedes giggle nearby.

"Kurt says the lights affect how the makeup looks though.." Brittany says, looking at two foundation she holds in her hands. Santana looks skeptical and obviously trying to figure out what to do with her hair. Kurt butts in, offering his two cents and pulling out some makeup to give examples, telling them about what he used this morning. He suddenly feels watched, and glancing over his shoulder he finds Finn staring at him with an uncomfortable look. His mood drops, and he tries not to let it show as he turns back to his girls, quieter.

There's a loud bang and everyone turns to see April stumbling in, dressed for the show but very noticing feeling of alcohol. Kurt wrinkles his nose at the scent, and then at the way she stumbles into Puck. Puck automatically grabs her, steadying her against him despite how she moved to hang off of him. She smiles flirtily, open in her mouth for what is certainly a lewd remark when Shue comes in as well, declaring they're needed on stage. The teacher looks over them, proud, until he sees April. His expression falls, and as they head out the door he grabs her arm.

"I need to talk to you."

 



The vibe in the choir room is elated and buzzing with energy, the club standing around and loudly talking about what was surprisingly a good performance. They've changed into their second outfits, and everyone is there except April.

"Hold still!" Kurt chides Puck, though he can't hide his smile. His fingers tug at the tie again, making sure it's straight and neat, and when he looks up to tell Puck it's good, he's caught off guard by the expression on Puck's face. They're closer than Kurt expected, and the look of fondness on Puck's stupidly handsome face is enough to make Kurt blush.

"I can't believe you can pick locks but you can't the a basic tie." Kurt teases, trying to ignore the strange tension between them. Puck laughs, catching Kurt's hands where they fiddle with the silly fabric.

Shue enters again, and everyone stands up, expecting another stage call. But he looks lost and upset as he looks over the small group. "Guys, April can't perform the last song. I'm really sorry." He explains, quietly, and the mood crashes around them.

There's loud protest, everyone speaking up at once.

"Wait, but we need her-"

-"can't perform-"

"This is bullshit!-"

"What are we supposed to do?"

Kurt watches Shue silently, disappointed and tired. All that work, just for April Rhodes to screw them over. He can't help but blame Shue for this. For bringing in a woman this unreliable and staking their success on her. He's trying to explain to the upset students, but no one really wants to hear it. Suddenly, Finn breaths out a quiet, "Rachel."

The room goes silent, everyone looking over to see the girl standing in the doorway. She's twisting her hands and smiling at them, looking proud and eager.

"I can stand in for her." She says, and the room grows loud with cheers and clapping. Kurt can't help but smile as well, up until Shue walks over and claps her on the back.

"That's great! You can replace April, I'm sure Finn and the others will be able to walk you through it in time."

"Excuse me?" Kurt blurts out, drawing all the attention to him. He's frowning, angry and irritated. "Rachel can't replace April! She shouldn't get the solo, she hasn't attended any of the rehersals! She isn't even in Glee club!"

"You just want the solo for yourself!" Rachel argues, looking red with indignation. Kurt scoffs, rolling his eyes.

"Actually, I think Santana should sing it. Sbe attended all the practices even with our crazy schedual, and she knows it by heart."

"Just because she's your favorite doesn't mean she deserves it!" Rachel stomps her foot, face screwed up in anger.

"Its not favoritism, it's common sense. Brittany and Quinn have the wrong types of voices, they're sweet and melodic. Tina's voice is too individual and she still struggles to speak up, Finn would drown her out, and Mercede's is too powerful, she would drown Finn out. Santana and Finn work well together, and she'll give the song some originality while also keeping it like it's supposed to be." Kurt explains, looking at Shue. He turns back to Rachel. "And you hardly deserve a solo after abandoning us in a childish tantrum. In the real world it takes more than a nice voice and wanting it. You have to put in hard work and effort! You have to work your way up and be a team player. If you quit everytime something doesn't go your way, or someone else gets some spotlight, you're never going anywhere in show-biz."

He's panting by the end of his speech, and a little embarrassed about how worked up he got, but he's sick and tired of Rachel Berry. Shue glares at him, dissapointed. Kurt wants to tell Shue that he's disappointed too.

"Kurt, that was unacceptable. You shouldn't talk to Rachel that way, she's only here to help." He scolds him, but sighs and turns to Rachel. "But he's right, you haven't put in the work for this solo. You can take backup, Santana's place. Santana, you can do this?" He asks. Rachel looks furious, and Santana looks caught off guard.

"Yeah, for sure."

They run through it a few times, and Kurt's impressed. Santana really puts her heart and soul into the performance, and everyone else looks pumped when they get into the stage. Everyone except Finn, who looks depressed, and Rachel, who looks put out. Kurt pushes them from his mind as the lights come up.

Chapter Text

I'm posting this on all my currently worked on stories, so sorry if you're unlucky enough to get spammed. I am in no way abandoning anything, however all updates have been put on hold. Check out my tumblr, stardustpens, for updates and contents. Also feel free to send me questions, messages, can content -though I doubt I'm that popular.

Thank you for understanding!