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Here Comes Kurty Claus

Chapter Text

Brittany bounced in to the show choir room with unfettered glee. "Where is he?" she shrieked.

Santana followed, rolling her eyes fondly, a soft smile on her face which she quickly schooled into a scowl. Okay, so maybe she was a little excited that Kurt was coming to visit. What of it? The bitch factor in Glee Club had been drastically reduced with his departure, and she was not amused. Oh, sure, Quinn liked to believe she was HBIC, and maybe she was, out in the halls where it didn't count. But in this room, Kurt had reigned supreme and everyone knew it.

Rachel knew it, and she missed it. She might have never admitted just how much she enjoyed Kurt's relentless attacks, but their sudden loss had left her adrift in a sea of prosaic melancholy. She knew unquestioningly that she was the star of the club, of course, but the feeling that once engendered within her was gone. Kurt had challenged her, made her fight to prove her worth, and, dare she say it? Fine. Kurt had made her better. She was absolutely giddy that he was spending the afternoon with them.

"He just texted," Mercedes said, smiling up at Brittany. "He's running a little late because Blaine, Wes, and David wanted to come with him."

"What if they're spying?" Rachel halfheartedly demanded. She smothered a grin when Mercedes glared at her.

"Bitch, please," Tina spat, before defensively crossing her arms over her chest.

She had not been coping well with Kurt's all-too-understandable defection. They had been good friends for a while, but after the Gaga Incident in which he had leapt to her defense without hesitation, they had grown much closer. She was more than ready to abandon her pseudo-vampire persona and go all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Buffy on Karofsky's fat ass. Her lips quirked as she imagined shoving a stake in his heart. Or maybe setting him on fire. Then she and Kurt would dance around his flaming corpse while singing a rousing rendition of Pat Benatar's All Fired Up.

Their relationship had dimmed somewhat once she began dating Mike; not that Kurt disapproved of Mike per se, but Artie was Kurt's only male friend, so there had been some solidarity and loyalty issues at play. Still, Tina could remember with vivid clarity the argument between them, in which she had overheard Kurt calling Artie a stupid, selfish asshole. For Kurt to swear, he must have been furious. She smiled. She loved that boy.

Rachel eyed Tina warily and quickly decided she had absolutely nothing else to say.

"It would never happen anyway," Quinn announced to no one in particular. "If the Warblers tried anything shady, not only would Kurt resign from the team, he'd remove the distributor caps from all of their cars and then smear their jockstraps with Icy Hot."

Mike and Finn paled and crossed their legs.

"Are Kurt and Harry Potter fucking yet?" Santana asked Mercedes, who frowned.

"They're not dating," the girl replied. "In fact, the more Kurt talks about him, the more I think…"

The girls, primed for gossip, swirled around her.

"What?" Quinn asked breathlessly, eyes shining. If she had to bury Blaine in a shallow grave, a heads-up would be appreciated. After all, it would require the perfect murder outfit, and she needed to plan accordingly.

Santana noted with satisfaction that, at Mercedes' proclamation, the boys had promptly fallen silent and inched closer to discover the latest revelations of the love life of one Kurt Hummel.

"Is this Bland guy hurting him?" Puck hissed, cracking his knuckles. He had failed the Little Dude in an epic way when Kurt had still been at McKinley, ofwhich he was now ashamed and more than ready to rectify.

Finn shook his head. "No way. Kurt would have told me, and Blaine is actually kind of awesome. And totally terrified of Burt."

Rachel nodded. "Which is as it should be."

Mercedes shrugged. "I just don't sense any real interest on Kurt's part. Not in a sexy way, at least. I just think he's happy to have another gay boy as a friend. As much as I love him, as happy as I would be to kill anyone who causes him to have frown lines, I'll never understand everything he goes through just because he has the guts to be himself and not apologize for it."

Will winced as he organized his stack of sheet music. His regrets with regard to his treatment of Kurt were legion. He knew he didn't have the full story as to why the boy had left, and he doubted he ever would. He couldn't deny that Kurt had no real reason to trust him; he had simply waited too long to intervene and, for that, he had no one to blame but himself.

Truthfully, he had always been uncomfortable around Kurt, not because he was in any way homophobic, but because, at sixteen years old, Kurt Hummel had been the most self-possessed person whom Will ever encountered, for precisely the reasons Mercedes had mentioned: Kurt knew who he was, had never been ashamed of it, and would never apologize for it.

In contrast, Will was a dozen years older, had gone to college, had invested several years in his chosen occupation, had married and divorced, and still had no idea just who the hell he was. It was a little embarrassing.

Artie sighed softly. "I miss him."

The other girls, with the exception of Tina, who was still mad at Rachel, and Santana, who didn't care about most of these people, shot him consoling looks.

Puck clapped a hand on his shoulder. "It's all good, A-Rex. The Little Dude's coming home for break, so we'll get our fix with some quality ladyboy time."

Santana curled a lip. "A-Rex?"

Finn glowered at Puck. "Don't talk about my brother like that," he said darkly. "Kurt's not a girl. He's more of a man then most of the guys at this school could ever hope to be."

Puck wisely backed off. He hadn't meant anything by it, but he knew he had a tendency to run off at the mouth and could understand why Finn had taken his comment the wrong way. Besides, after he had once again royally fucked up his friendship with the other boy, he knew Finn was just itching for a fight.

Quinn sniffed with disdain. "Whether you or Artie will have any time with Kurt is undecided. Mercedes and I have custody of him until he returns to Dalton, and his schedule is filled."

Artie glared at her. "What the hell are you talking about?"

She was unmoved. "We've already allotted all of his free time. We've blocked off large segments for Family Time with his father, Carole, and Finn. The remainder will be filled with group sleepovers, makeovers, and shopping. Individual pockets have also been assigned, so that there's Kurchel, Kurbrittina, Kursue, Kurtana, Kurtinn, and Kurtcedes time in equal measure."

Finn blinked. "Um, what?"

Quinn heaved a sigh of exasperation. "It should all be quite obvious: Arguing with Rachel; Rehearsals with Brittany and Tina; Plotting with Coach Sylvester; Epic Bitchery with Santana; Manicures and Malevolence with myself; and of course BFF Boo Time with Mercedes."

The other girls nodded as if all of this made complete sense.

Rachel looked at Artie, chagrined. "I put my request formally in writing over three weeks ago," she said, shrugging.

Mike frowned and carefully avoided looking at Artie. "Won't we get to see him at all?"

"You'll see him today," Santana replied in a bored tone, "and also at his Christmas party."

"But what about Guy Time?" Puck demanded.

Tina stared at him. "You couldn't bother with him before." She cocked her head. "So what's changed?"

Puck ducked his head and mumbled something.

"What was that, Hebrew National?" Mercedes loudly asked.

He looked up with murderous eyes. "So maybe I miss him or whatever, okay? I need to know that he's happy there. Because if he's not, if he's just as miserable, he might as well be miserable here, with us."

Santana gave him the side-eye. "Have you suspended your douchebaggery for the holidays or something?"

"Fuck off," he weakly said.

She smirked. "Well, God bless us, every one."

He flipped her off. She laughed in his face.

Soon, they all began chattering about their excitement with regard to Kurt's impending arrival. Even Will joined in, saying he had numerous playlists in mind which simply required Kurt's approval and discerning eye.

Quinn had been discreetly observing her boyfriend during all of this; in particular, his looming silence, which had fallen when Kurt's name had first been mentioned.

She liked Sam; she might even love him in some manner. He was gorgeous, kind, athletic, self-effacing, smarter than he gave himself credit for being, had an amazing body, and treated her with far more decency and respect than either Puck or Finn had ever been able to muster. He was exactly what she had needed to get over her heartbreak where Puck and Beth were concerned.

He was also insanely gay.

She wasn't the most experienced girl, nor was she in a rush to become one, given the consequences of what had befallen her when she had last thrown caution to the wind, but she somewhat knew what to expect from boys who were interested in her. Sam defied those expectations.

Their kisses were sweet and gentle. He never pressured her to go further. She had been grateful and relieved at first, sure that it was in deference to what last year had done to her. She wasn't ready in any shape or form to get to third base, of course, but a turn at bat would be nice. But the more time that passed, the more she sensed that any romantic interest on his part was either perfunctory or feigned. She knew he liked her, just…not that way.

Her suspicion was seeded when a furious Sam had discovered that Finn had talked Kurt out of the duet. It had sprouted when Sam had gone off to confront the limp-dicked jocks who had made her poor baby's life a living hell. It had blossomed when Sam had committed to her only after Kurt had been safely locked away at Dalton, like Rapunzel in the tower.

She now had first-hand experience at being a fruit fly and found she quite enjoyed it. She would never be to Kurt what Mercedes was, and that was fine; their relationship was well and truly earned. That said, she longed for that level of easy intimacy, one she'd never had before, and certainly not with any girl. Those friendships were all superficial and based on proximity or intimidation. But maybe she could have that with Sam.

The closer she had gotten to Kurt, the more she had watched his relationships with Brittany and Tina, and the more she had studied with undisguised fascination as Santana began orbiting him, the more she realized that, with Kurt at their side, how much better they became. It was as though he were the sun, and the girls were drawn to him by some magnetic pull they felt neither the need nor desire to qualify.

Kurt made them happy.

In Lima, Ohio, particularly at McKinley high, happiness was difficult to find.

But now it was time for Kurt to be happy, and she wanted to help with that. If he could find that with Sam, she'd be ecstatic for both her boys. But if he couldn't, if Sam wasn't yet ready to abandon Tea Time with Mister Tumnus and exit Narnia, then she'd ensure Kurt found his happiness regardless, and if that was with another person, that was just fine. So she was more than pleased that Blaine was accompanying Kurt this afternoon. Either way, Kurt was not going back to Dalton a virgin.

A slow smile spread across her face before she was jolted from her thoughts by the door slamming open.

Kurt strolled in and sneered. "I'm here, bitches. Fun and merriment will now commence."

Pandemonium reigned as all of the girls, and Finn, began screaming.


Chapter Text

Finn suddenly seemed to sprout wings, as he all but flew across the room, launching himself at his now-terrified brother. At the last possible moment, he was met by a wall named Mercedes.

"I don't think so, you crazy Sasquatch," she snapped. "I'm his best friend, so all Kurt Cuddles will first be bestowed upon my fine-ass self."

"Kurt!" Finn piteously whined, trying to shove past Mercedes, who simply was not having it.

"What'd I tell you, boy?" she demanded. "I don't care if you're his brother now. As the Number One in his Fruit Fly Harem, I automatically trump anything so banal as family."

The others were startled by how much Kurt's vocabulary now informed Mercedes' speech patterns.

Brittany took full advantage of the squabbling by pushing herself past Finn and Mercedes and throwing herself at Kurt.

"My dolphin!" she screeched, beaming as he easily caught her.

Kurt sighed with exasperation and bemusement, and proceeded to offer a series of Flipper squeals and clicks in reply.

Finn and Mercedes were still arguing property rights and thus completely missed Brittany stealing their thunder. Santana was smirking at her ingenious, erstwhile girlfriend while the others stood, wide-eyed, positing Kurt's uncanny ability at mimicry.

Brittany showered his face with soft kisses. "I missed you so much, Kurty," she said tearfully. "I keep getting lost in the bathroom, and I really need my Seeing Eye Dolphin."

He sniggered and hugged her tightly to him, smoothing her hair with one hand while rubbing soothing circles on her back with the other. He felt Blaine silently laughing at him and turned to glare.

"Her dolphin?" the other boy asked, brow quirked.

Puck rolled his eyes. "Duh, dude. Dolphins are just gay sharks." He quirked his own brow, which was so much sexier than the hairy caterpillar on Bland's face. "Shouldn't you know this?"

Blaine's eyes widened as the entire company of New Directions nodded at the strange proclamation.

Kurt sighed, placed a gentle kiss on Brittany's forehead, and delicately extricated himself from her embrace, only to find himself with an armful of Quinn. He hugged her back quickly before they exchanged double air-kisses, hugged again, and then proceeded to hold a brief conversation in fluent French.

Blaine stared at them while the McKinley students babbled excitedly to one another, except for Finn and Mercedes, who were now threatening each other with promises of ordinary kitchen gadgets which could double as crafty implements of murder.

Wes and David chose this moment to appear in the doorway, quickly paling at the cacophony unfolding just before them.

Kurt abruptly pulled back from Quinn and began discreetly sniffing the air.

"I smell jewelry."

He seized Quinn's hand and peered down at Sam's promise ring, which suddenly seemed heavy on her finger. His brow furrowed and he reached into his blazer pocket and extracted a loupe.

Blaine tried to quell his laughter, but ended up snorting instead.

Kurt sneered. "One must always be prepared. Jewelry emergencies occur with far more frequency than you might expect."

He held the loupe up to his eye and brought Quinn's hand toward his face, carefully studying this unexpected sacrificial offering.

"Fourteen karat," he announced. He allowed Quinn to reassert control over her arm, and met her eyes. "I deem this…serviceable."

He smirked at Santana's loud guffaw and then turned to look at Sam, who was blushing slightly and unable to meet the eyes of the other boy. "Of course, I expect this to be upgraded to eighteen K before the end of the year. I will not allow one of my flies to endure inferior alloys for any considerable length of time. Do I make myself clear?"

Sam flushed furiously, his mouth falling open though no sound emerged.

Kurt nodded with satisfaction and whirled on his heel to face Finn and Mercedes, who were now physically restraining one another from running to him. He shook his head in perturbation and looked back to Quinn, who opened her mouth to deliver what was sure to be a scathing and amusing retort regarding their behavior.

Artie suddenly wheeled himself forward and knocked Quinn out of the way. That was Step One in his Evil Plan to repay her insolence. As if she had any right to co-opt Kurt's time. Barbie, please.

Quinn simply rolled her eyes and went to sit next to Sam, who was sighing forlornly. She would let Artie have his petty revenge for now. It didn't matter. After all, she was on the guest list of those who would be spending the night at Kurt's house, kicking Finn out of his own room in the process. She smiled poisonously.

"Artie!" Kurt warmly exclaimed, bending down to hug the other boy. "Don't worry about the flies," he whispered. "I'm already in the process of adjusting my schedule to include prime Kartie time. It will probably be one night next week after dinner that's allegedly set aside for Kinn Brotherly Bonding; after food, Finn plays ten minutes of Halo and then passes out for a few hours."

Artie laughed and nodded his head, gratitude and relief shining in his eyes. Kurt nodded in understanding. Despite whatever he had going with Brittany, Artie was now even more separated from the others in the club, with the possible exception of Puck. Kurt cocked his head. And what would that portmanteau be, he wondered? Partie? Puckie? Purtie? He shook his head to clear it and noticed Puck was sauntering towards him.

Kurt stepped back and raised a brow. Puck had to concede that maneuver was far more effective and compelling on Kurt than on himself and/or Bland.

"State your intentions," Kurt commanded, holding up a hand.

Puck rolled his eyes and held out a hand. Kurt narrowed his eyes and warily reached to shake the proffered appendage. Puck seized the opportunity and, grabbing Kurt, pulled him forward into a bone-crushing hug. Kurt squeaked adorably with righteous indignation. Puck then leaned down and deposited a soft kiss on Kurt's cheek.

Blaine surged forward to beat the hell out of Puck. The last thing Kurt needed was yet another bullying jock forcing a kiss on him! He was held in place, however, by Wes and David.

"Easy, Zorro," David cautioned.

"Allow Kurt the dignity of handling it himself," Wes advised.

Kurt screamed, scrubbed his cheek with his sleeve, and threw Puck off of him.

"Ugh! Lips of Puck!" he howled. He began running in circles with his hands thrown in the air. "Blecch! Eugh! Poison Puck Lips! Blecch! Eugh!"

Mercedes and Finn halted their shenanigans at that and took in the scene with wide eyes. Mercedes began bellowing at Puck, who had collapsed in the nearest chair and was in the process of laughing his ass off. Finn, meanwhile, scurried over and scooped up a protesting Kurt in his arms, dancing them around the room.

"You're here!" Finn cheerfully screamed, before looking over his shoulder at Mercedes and sticking his tongue out at her. He shivered when he saw promised retribution in her responding grimace.

Kurt rolled his eyes and patted Finn lovingly on the shoulder. "Yes, yes, I'm here. I missed you too, Goofus."

Finn beamed and reluctantly returned his brother to the floor.

"Goofus?" Will asked, his lips curved up in a smile.

Kurt rolled his eyes once more. "Of course. Finn and I are this season's Goofus and Gallant. It really should have been obvious, Mister Schue," he said, disappointment all but dripping from his words.

Will smiled, shook his head, and then debated how to welcome Kurt in the most appropriate manner. Kurt decided it for him, however, by quickly embracing him. Just as Will's arms went around the boy, Kurt was already pulling away.

Kurt smiled at him. "So did she like it?" he asked, already knowing the answer.

Will snorted. "Surprisingly, she did. She pretty much guessed that it was your idea, though."

Kurt nodded. "Of course she did. As if heterosexual males have any clue as to how to select appropriate wardrobe."

Will laughed and patted Kurt's shoulder. "Thanks again."

"You're welcome, Mister Schue. I'm always available for fashion emergencies." He looked up and down with derision at his former teacher's current ensemble. "You have my number. By everything that's allegedly holy, please use it."

Will laughed harder and shook his head. He watched somewhat sadly as Kurt drifted back to the others. He had known how much the kids had missed Kurt, and though he had been thrilled to see the boy when he had sought him out at Dalton, it wasn't until Kurt's triumphant return to McKinley that he was hit by how much he personally had missed him.

He was also deeply bothered by the fact that the Warblers weren't showcasing Kurt the way the boy deserved. Of course, he ruefully admitted in his own mind, he hadn't been much better. He hadn't given Kurt the solos the boy had more than earned, but even in choral numbers, Kurt had made the most of the opportunities and ensured his voice was heard, for the benefit of himself and everyone else. It had been disturbing to watch him at Sectionals, so obviously trying to conform to the Warblers' standards.

"Who do you think you are?" Blaine demanded of Puck, shoving away from Wes and David. "Don't you ever put your hands on Kurt!" he seethed.

Sure, Kurt had dealt with it just fine, but Blaine had seen that glimmer of fear in his friend's eyes. It had quickly evaporated, but the point was that it had been there at all.

Mercedes was nodding and alternately swatting Puck and issuing dire threats. She hadn't found out about Karofsky until long after the fact, which still pissed her off, but she was more than happy to push it away and torture Puck.

Kurt frowned. This was ridiculous. Yes, the encounter with Karofsky had, well, terrified him, but mostly because he was so taken by surprise. Still, he could defend himself. Despite what his friends thought, he was no shrinking violet.

"Get serious, Aretha," Puck scoffed, not even bothering to address Blaine's concerns or notice the scathing glare Sam was shooting at him. "Do you have any idea how lucky Hummel is to score a kiss from Puckzilla? Check out these guns!" He shrugged. "I can't help how hot I am."

Kurt snorted. "Zoolander, please."

Puck's mouth fell open in fury and hurt as Quinn and Santana's vicious laughter rose to the ceiling and crashed back down over the room. The Dalton contingent were hanging off each other and howling.

"Dude," Puck whispered mournfully, "harsh."

Kurt fixed him with a glare, crossing his arms over his chest. "No. What's harsh is that, once again, you had to assert your douchebag prerogative at the expense of your best friend, who also happens to be my brother. My little comment is the least you deserve for hurting Finn," he scowled.

At this, Finn came to stand behind Kurt and wrapped his arms around the smaller boy's waist. He had a totally awesome brother! Still, it kind of made him sad and angry that it was always Kurt protecting him, when it should have been the other way around.

Kurt sighed. "Honestly, Noah, I just don't understand you. I watched you last year. I know you felt guilty for hurting Finn, so why did you do it again and in the exact same manner? I saw how much you loved Quinn and your beautiful Beth. I witnessed your struggle with wanting to keep your child with you, and I was so proud of you for putting her first before your pride and hurt, giving her to someone whom you knew could provide her with everything she could ever need or want."

He shook his head. "Despite all of the truly horrible things you've done to me, I know that you can be a good man. I know that you want to be one. So why do you always have to be such a jackass?"

Puck pressed his lips pressed tightly together and kept his gaze on the floor, because he really wanted to hug Kurt again and hope the other boy might just hug him back.

Kurt's anger reignited. "You're just lucky that I haven't leaked your Cougar List to Jacob ben Israel." This time, he raised both brows. "Yet," he then qualified.

Puck's eyes widened with fear. "How do you even have that?"

Kurt just threw back his head and cackled evilly, the timbre loud and deep, sending shivers down the spines of everyone in the room, some in pleasure and others with horror.

Finn released him and looked down at the other boy, eyes filled with wonder. He had a totally awesome and evil brother! Score!

"Holy shit," whispered a terrified Wes.

"Is he a demon?" David hissed at Blaine. "You never told us he was a demon!"

Blaine snickered and shrugged. "He's just Kurt. That said, if you piss him off, I don't even know your names."

Santana smirked at them. "Merry fucking Christmas, bitches."

Will frowned. "Language, Santana."

She fluttered her eyelashes at him and waved an arm in acknowledgment/dismissal. Will sighed.

"Finn!" Tina screeched. "Stop touching Kurt so much! He's not a kitten, and I want my hug!"

"He's my brother!" exclaimed an affronted Finn.

She huffed. "He was my gay long before he was ever your brother."

Finn crossed the room and glared down at her. "Mine," he growled.

She curled a lip and fell into an offensive kata. "Oh, it's on, Hudson."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Ladies, please. There's more than enough of my fabulous self to go around."

He elbowed a hurt and scared Finn out of the way and pulled Tina into his arms. They soon began chattering away in Korean, using the handful of phrases she had taught him. Everyone was thoroughly confused, but somehow discerned that Kurt and Tina were talking about Finn. They all turned to Mike, who frowned.

"I speak Chinese, not Korean," he snapped. "Tina and I aren't even the same type of Asian!"

Wes shook his head and sighed. "Unnecessary racism so sad," he said, in an eerie imitation of Margaret Cho's mother.

The others were appalled by their own ignorance, except for Wes, Kurt, Tina, and Mike, who all burst out laughing. Tina snuggled against Kurt one more time before releasing him.

"I'm so glad you're home," she whispered.

He dropped a kiss on the top of her head. "Me too, sweetheart." He turned. "Oh, Santana?"

She suddenly materialized at his side, like Persephone rising from the ground to herald the beginning of Spring. "Yes, Beelzebooze?"

He smirked. "Do you remember our last telephone discussion?"

She nodded. "Naturally."

"Well, I don't want to put Mike or Tina on the spot, but I saw Wes in the shower and can now state with absolute certainty that what we were debating is just a stereotype."

"Good to know," she purred.

As one, they turned with hungry eyes to face Wes, who blushed, sputtered, and hid behind David.

"He is a demon!" Wes cried.

Kurt and Santana cackled and turned to face one another, grinning like loons.

"Happy Holidays, you filthy whore," she cooed.

He tugged her ponytail affectionately. "Seasons Greetings, you evil little bitch troll from Hell."

And before anyone could blink, Kurt and Santana were devouring each other's lips.

Chapter Text

As the collective watched Kurt Hummel and Santana Lopez sucking face as though it were a new Olympic sport, the reaction was decidedly mixed.

Finn's mouth repeatedly opened and closed, his fists clenching at his sides, appearing as though he were warring between beating Santana to within an inch of her life for molesting his little bro, and wanting to run to the nearest corner and shove his face in it, sure that the Blair Witch was about to make a grand entrance and kill them all.

Mike was staring wide-eyed at the spectacle before him, waiting for someone to intervene, because clearly an intervention was required. He wanted to curl up in a ball on the floor and eat his hair. He was almost one-hundred percent positive that Santana was actually harvesting and feasting upon the soul of one Kurt Hummel.

Rachel tilted her head and regarded this new development in a rather adorable manner, as though she were watching a particularly fascinating documentary on the Discovery Channel. She promptly decided that this interaction required closer scrutiny. It certainly didn't appear as if this was the first instance of Kurt and Santana playing Extreme Tonsil Hockey.

Quinn began filing her nails.

Suddenly, Kurt spun around and slammed Santana against the back of the door, pinning her arms above her head and attacking her neck with his swollen lips.

She wrapped her legs around his waist and locked them at the ankle. "You're hurting me," she purred. "That's good."

He groaned and once again began assaulting her mouth.

"Dude," Wes whispered to David, "he's like a ninja. A super homoflexible ninja."

An awestruck David nodded, his jaws agape.

Sam began fidgeting. This was so wrong. It was wrong how fucking turned on he was by this display. It was wrong that watching Kurt be so forceful, so domineering, was perhaps the most exciting thing he had ever seen in his life. It was wrong that Kurt had been forced to leave McKinley, to leave…him.

Oh, god. Why hadn't he said anything? Why hadn't he insisted they have their duet regardless of what Finn thought? Why hadn't he just had the goddamn balls to tell Kurt that he liked him? Why was he so dependent on the approval of those who ultimately didn't matter? His stomach clenched and roiled with misery.

This sucked so hard. He wanted Kurt so much there existed within him a physical ache. It had been horrible enough while Kurt was still at McKinley, but at least then he had been able to look at him, to imagine, to hope one day his fucking nuts would finally drop and he'd have enough guts to pursue what he wanted. And he didn't care how many punches he'd have to take to keep Kurt safe, to keep him close.

Then Kurt had left, and it was so much worse. Because he had never told him, and had no one but himself to blame.

How could he be such an asshole to Quinn? He knew what she had been through last year, and here he was taking advantage of her because it was easy. It was just so much easier to lie to her than be honest with himself. He was scum. He didn't deserve her, not even her friendship.

And Kurt…Christ, what would a boy like Kurt want with a stupid idiot like him?

Will was gob-smacked by Kurt and Santana's entirely inappropriate, yet strangely compelling, behavior. His feet were rooted to the floor and he looked as though someone had just told him that the moon was in fact made of green cheese. He wanted to put an immediate halt to this, a cease and desist, but his mouth simply refused to open. He wanted to look away, he tried, but his own perverse curiosity refused to spare him. It was like rubbernecking at a traffic accident, when you know you should look away, but for whatever reason, you just couldn't. Still, he felt as though he should make some sort of statement.


Well, that was profound. He should go over there and put a stop to the crazy, but he realized he had very little control in this situation. It was after-hours, winter break had officially begun with the dismissal of the last class over an hour ago, and there was no rule he could cite to end this. Students made out at the school all the time despite, or perhaps in spite of, the disapproval of the faculty. Kurt was no longer his student, so he had no real authority over him.

Will blinked. In fact, he was unsure whether he had ever had control over Kurt Hummel. If the boy had ever heeded his commands, it was simply because he was too bored or bemused to do otherwise. As for Santana Lopez, well, he wasn't even certain that the laws of physics applied to her.

"I don't understand," Artie said blankly.

"Just ignore them," Mercedes said, waving her hand dismissively and sitting down next to Quinn. "It'll be over soon."

"This happens all the time," Tina added, rolling her eyes.

Mike blinked. "It does?" he demanded.

Brittany nodded. "Kurty makes out with all of us, but he likes it with San the most because she slaps him around and uses hooker words."

Blaine shook his head. "What?"

Wait. Did that mean that Kurt liked aggressive suitors? Not potential rapists like Karofsky, of course, but if Kurt liked someone he actually trusted to take control, Blaine was definitely willing to play that part. This was a side of Kurt he had never seen, one of which he could never have even conceived. And it turned him on. Hardcore.

Of course, at the moment, it looked as though Kurt was firmly in the driver's seat. And that was pretty fucking hot, too, Santana's lady parts be damned.

"What do you mean he makes out with all of you?" Puck asked, his voice suspiciously high.

Quinn shrugged. "He's made out with every girl in Glee. Except Rachel, of course."

Rachel gasped and spun on her heel to face the other girl. "Well, why not?" she barked. "What's wrong with me?"

Quinn didn't even bother to look up. "If this weren't a weekday, perhaps I might have the time to begin answering that question."

Brittany frowned. "Wouldn't that be, like, making out with himself or something?"

Rachel's face burned.

Quinn nodded. "It would be the ultimate expression of narcissism, which is why Rachel is so intrigued."

That particular argument gave Finn a migraine. If Kurt and Rachel were basically the same person, and one was his brother and the other his girlfriend, did that mean…?


"When did you make out with him?" Artie hissed at Tina.

She raised a brow. "Long before you ever grew a pair to ask me out."

He flinched and turned away.

She sighed, guilt heavy on her heart. "Not while you and I were together, Artie. I would never have cheated on you. And even if you don't believe me because of what's happened, you should know that Kurt would never betray your friendship. He's one of the most honorable boys I've ever met."

He nodded slowly. Tina was right, he knew. Kurt would never hurt him. Buried underneath all of that bitchy bluster, the truth of the matter was that Kurt was a very kind person.

Mike frowned. "Have you made out with him since we've been together?" he asked his girlfriend, not understanding why an affirmative answer would have left him untroubled.

Because, really, the hell? But, damn, the noises Kurt was coaxing from Santana were amazing. He closed his eyes, cut Santana from the picture, and inserted Tina in her place. Instantly, blood pooled into his crotch. Holy. Shit.

Tina smirked. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

What the actual fuck? Hell yeah, he wanted to know! He also wanted to know if there was video available.

Okay, so he might be having a homo moment. It'd happened before; would probably happen again. Of course, the ones in the past had usually included Matt. Not as a fellow lead, but as a supporting actor.

Whenever he thought about the insane hope he might one day partake in a threesome – one with two guys and a girl, because supposedly more girls were into that kind of thing, rather than the two girls-one guy threesomes in which he had participated with Brittany and Santana, where he was basically a voyeur with blue balls – he always believed would Matt be involved. Because there was no one he trusted more than Matt, not even his own parents. Besides, he wasn't attracted to Matt.

But the semi pressing up against his fly at that moment? Yeah, he kind of knew Kurt was partially responsible for that. So. Cue Silent Possibly-Gaysian Freakout. He missed the knowing look Wes was shooting at him.

Suddenly, Santana freed her arms, dropped her legs, grabbed Kurt's shoulders, and spun them several times until Kurt's back crashed up against the piano.

Kurt tore his mouth from hers and hissed. "And now you're hurting me. That's better."

"Shit," Puck softly moaned, biting his lip. He currently had the most amazing boner he'd had since...well, since he started getting boners.

Blaine whimpered.

David turned to Wes. "Okay, so now that we know he's a demon, what do you think? Incubus?"

Wes shivered. "Either that, or that hot-ass cheerleader is a succubus who can even turn Captain Glitter straight long enough to have her wicked way with him." He blinked. "I wonder if she's seeing anyone."

Brittany cleared her throat and glowered at them.

David's eyes widened. "So they're both gay? But they still can rape each other's mouths?" He pouted. "So not fair."

Blaine eyed them. "I'm beginning to wonder about you two. Your epic bromance is taking a decidedly strange turn."

Wes and David suddenly found the floor absolutely fascinating.

"There's a lot of gayness in this room," Finn blurted.

Mercedes snorted. "Old News, Old Navy." She turned in her seat. "All right, ladies, truth time. If my bestie were straight, who would be all up on that?"

The hand of every girl in the room shot up, including that of Santana, who was still tongue wrestling with the boy in question.

"Rachel!" Finn cried.

She shrugged. "Sorry," she said insincerely.

"The Cheerios used to fight over who got to brush his hair," Brittany grandly announced to no one in particular.

"Who won?" Tina asked.

Kurt pulled away from Santana, gasping. "None of them," he panted. "As if I would allow some mere mortal to touch these locks." He cocked his head. "Well, maybe you, Brit."

She clapped with excitement.

He turned back to Santana and again tugged her ponytail, this time more forcefully. "Thank you."

Dazed, she nodded. "My pleasure."

He smirked. "I know."

She nodded again and turned to face the room. Eyes bright and heavy-lidded, chest heaving, lips tingling, she stumbled over to Brittany, linked their pinkies, and went to sit down.

"He could dress us every day," Quinn blissfully murmured.

Mercedes shrugged. "He does that anyway."

"He does?" Puck asked.

Tina nodded. "We select our outfits the night before and send him pictures for approval."

Rachel soured. "He doesn't do that for me."

"Because I'm not Dante," Kurt replied. "My weeks at Dalton are slowly healing the retinal scarring I suffered due to prolonged exposure to your hideous wardrobe. I refuse to be drawn back into that particular circle of hell."

She sighed. "I've missed you."

He grimaced. "I'm very angry with you for hurting Finn. I understand your reasoning, but I don't agree with it. What transpired between Santana and Finn is no one's business but theirs, especially considering you were not together at the time; in fact, you were dating Jesse, about whom you were warned by all of us. You dismissed our fears as simple jealousy, when in fact we were sincerely concerned about your well-being, both as our colleague and as our…" he sharply inhaled, "friend."

Rachel dropped her head, ignoring the halfhearted muttered denials of the other girls.

Kurt put his hands on his hips and glared. "Eyes front, Rachel."

Reluctantly, she complied.

"And just in case it slipped your mind," he continued, "you lied to Finn and told him you had slept with Jesse when you hadn't. We both know you did that solely to inflict maximum damage on Finn's heart." He pinned her with his gaze. "Then you did it again when you kissed Puck, and don't waste my time or yours by claiming it's because he's the only male member of Glee currently unattached. You knew how devastated Finn was after the events of last year, how betrayed he felt, and you preyed on his greatest pain simply because you could."

Rachel sniffled and swallowed heavily. Mercedes and Tina gave him an Around-the-World-and-Back Snap.

Kurt sighed. "I know you were hurt, and I won't deny that Finn can be manipulative and downright mean, but that's true of all of us. However, when he hurts someone, it's usually out of thoughtlessness, not rancor. But when you're in pain, Rachel, you go right for the jugular.

"Now I know you're probably thinking the same about me," he continued, "and you wouldn't be wrong. I can be a vicious little bastard – your makeover being a prime example – but there are lines even I wouldn't cross. What you did was malicious and cruel."

She shuddered and swatted away her tears.

"It's not my place to forgive you, and I can't offer you penance," he softly added. "That said, I hope you both can work through this. I know you love him, Rachel, and I know how much he loves you. When the two of you are at your best, you're happier than I've ever seen you, and I want that for you. For both of you. However, no matter how much you and I…don't hate one another…Finn is my brother; I love him.

"I know you understand better than most what I went through when my father had his heart attack, how terrified I was, because if the worst had happened, I would have been utterly and completely alone. Your support meant a great deal to me. But now I have Carole; now I have a brother. I hope you can understand that even though I," he ground his teeth, "care for you, I will always put Finn first."

"I respect that," she whispered.

He nodded.

Finn stared at him, tears slipping from his eyes. No one had ever gone to bat for him as Kurt just had, not even Puck when their friendship was at its strongest. He was struck by the revelation of how much he loved this boy, that his speech at their parents' wedding wasn't just lip service. Kurt was truly his best friend, and had been for far longer than he had even realized.

He had done so much wrong by him. Not just the past bullying or that horrible incident in the basement all those months ago, but by continuing not to understand him, or even being willing to try. So he had set up their parents; big deal. That they had ended up falling in love with each other was chance, and far beyond Kurt's scary mysterious powers.

He flashed back to the events of the beginning of the school year and was filled with shame. He had bullied Kurt into dumping Sam as his duet partner. He'd made horrible accusations. Kurt had never stalked him, had never sexually harassed him.

The worst he had done was express an interest, sung a sad song, and clung to a futile hope. That wasn't so wrong. If he hadn't been so uncomfortable, or if Kurt had been a girl, Finn would have just told him to back off. But he hadn't. Instead he had sent mixed messages, seeking Kurt out for comfort when he needed it, but pushing him away when it suited. Kurt must have been so confused, so hurt, yet here he was, once again standing up for him.

Finn felt like the world's biggest douche and he vowed to make it up to his brother.

But he then remembered that this was just a visit, that Kurt was actually gone, off to a school where people would respect him and treat him the way he deserved, where he had made friends for whom his sexuality was a nonissue – as it should be. And as sad as Finn was, as much as he missed Kurt, as empty and forlorn as the house was without him, he could no longer claim that his brother had made a poor decision based on selfishness or cowardice. For the first time, Kurt was putting himself first, and he had earned that right after all the bullshit he'd willingly endured for years.

Kurt stared back at him with narrowed eyes. "Don't even think about sweeping me into another hug. I will not have my outfit subjected to further abuse."

Finn pouted and released a soft whine, but nodded.

Kurt turned back to Rachel. "Now that my fraternal defense is complete, I would be lying if I said that I hadn't missed your daily boiling cup of crazy. So. We can hug now."

She flew into his arms.

Will blinked back tears as he watched them embrace. This was the Kurt he had always wanted to meet, the one he had long suspected was always there, buried beneath the icy and aloof exterior; the one only a few were privileged to know. But that Kurt had been locked away during his tenure at McKinley for fear it was yet another vulnerability that could be exploited. Kurt was happier now, that was obvious; he was better.

It angered him that he hadn't tried harder to discover that Kurt; to realize that, for all of his assumptions and judgments, he had never really known Kurt Hummel at all.

Quinn had discreetly observed Sam throughout this impromptu encounter session, and her suspicions were confirmed. She couldn't say with any certainty that Sam was in love with Kurt, but the emotions he was so desperately trying to conceal indicated that he possessed strong feelings for her friend. The same held true for Kurt, especially since he had avoided looking at or interacting with Sam as much as possible.

Superior instincts reaffirmed, though they had never truly been in doubt, Quinn began plotting.

She would get them to confront and face these feelings, by force if necessary, because no matter how gay they were, they were still boys and therefore hopeless. Either it would work out or it wouldn't, but if it did, she would demand presents and would make them kiss under mistletoe for her amusement. She glanced over at Blaine, who was staring at Kurt with huge, soft eyes. So, he had feelings for Kurt, as well.

Even better.

If Blaine wanted Kurt, he had better be prepared to fight for him.

Chapter Text

Kurt abruptly released Rachel and shot himself into to the open arms of Mercedes. They embraced fervently and then pulled back just far enough to hold a long and detailed conversation with their eyes.

"Are you sure?" she finally asked.

"Yes, I think so."


"I know."


"I have no idea, but you know…"

She nodded. "Yeah, but you can't let…"

"I'm not," he insisted. "You remember…"

"All too well. I won't…"

"I know," he smiled. "That's why you're the best."

"If you ever…"

"I promise."

They beamed at each other and hugged more tightly, Kurt's face buried into her neck as she ran her fingers through his hair. That he made no protest shocked the others. Of course, he had schooled her long ago in how to indulge her need to play with his hair without committing genocide against his coiffure.

Wes blinked. "What the hell?"

"Are they telepathic?" David asked.

"Pretty much," Finn said, shrugging, inordinately proud of himself for knowing what telepathic meant. "Usually it's worse. There are hand gestures. Sometimes they use words they made up so that no one knows what they're talking about, like a Kurtcedes language or something. One time I stole Kurt's phone to check his texts, but I couldn't understand them; they were all in Kurtcedes. Quinn's texts were all in French, Santana's in Spanish, Tina's in Korean, and I think Brittany's were in Dutch."

"Latin," the girl corrected.

Finn frowned. "Huh. Okay, then. And I didn't get Artie's texts at all. They were like, equations or something."

Artie just smiled and nodded.

David shook his head. "Okay, so not only is Kurt a heteroflexible super ninja demon, but he's also a polyglot and a math nerd." He turned to Wes. "I think this is too much awesome for me to assimilate all at once."

"What, so you're in love with him now?" Puck asked.

David shrugged. "I could do worse."

"You have done worse," said both Blaine and Wes.

"True," David said slowly, before turning back to Puck. "I'm straight, but I might be crushing a little on Kurt's complete badassness."

Puck was offended. "The Little Dude is not a badass. He might be cooler than I realized, but he's no badass."

He looked over at Kurt, who was still deep in conversation with Mercedes.

Not a badass.

Mercedes was pretty badass, though, he had to admit. Just not to her face.

Wes shrugged. "Maybe not around here, even though he's made out with more Glee girls than you, but at Dalton he is."

David nodded. "Badass. Plus, there's the whole thing where you can go to his room in the middle of the night and talk to him about absolutely anything and know he'll keep your confidence and not judge you. True badasses rule through respect, not fear."

Puck didn't care for that last statement, but kept his mouth shut. It kind of really bothered him that Preppy had a point. So maybe the Little Dude had some badassery after all. Like, an apprentice badass or something. That was kind of cool. But Kurt was his apprentice badass, not theirs.

Blaine was not enjoying the turn of this conversation. He had no idea that his friends were so close to Kurt, close enough to go to his room in the middle of the night to find solace. Sure, he was happy that Kurt was fitting in so well and making friends, but he felt a little possessive of him and the time they spent together. He didn't want to share him. He winced and kicked himself in the metaphorical nads for being such a jealous dick.

Puck frowned. "How do you know how many girls here I've made out with?"

Wes counted off with his fingers. "Quinn, Santana, Brittany, and Rachel, right?" At Puck's confused nod, he shrugged. "Kurt talks about you a lot. He talks about all of you. A lot. He misses you guys."

"He does?" asked an excited Finn.

David nodded. "Sure, especially you, man. He takes this whole 'brother' thing really seriously." He smirked. "Wait until you see your Christmas gift."

"Presents!" Finn squealed.

Puck looked at Wes with narrowed eyes. "Do you know why he left? Why he really left? Because I don't think we've gotten the whole story."

Finn inched forward, nodding uneasily. "I know there's something he's not telling me."

David averted his eyes. "We don't know. Honestly, we don't. We've tried to get it out of him, but he shuts down when we ask. We've learned the hard way not to pry."

Finn and Puck stared at Blaine, who shook his head.

"I'm not telling you anything. It's his business, and I won't betray his trust."

"That's cool," Finn said, though he was obviously unhappy about it.

Puck just grunted. This was far from settled, as far as he was concerned. He was sure it had something to do with that asshole Karofsky. And once he found out what happened, what had driven his Little Dude away, Karofsky was gonna pay.

Will sat down at the piano and patiently waited for Peyton Place to conclude. He certainly wasn't relishing the thought of going home to his empty apartment, making a frozen dinner, and listening to his answering machine tell him he had received no calls.

Kurt had finally settled down and the girls dog-piled around him, with Santana actually sitting in his lap.

They were having an intense discussion about the cast of Gossip Girl. Santana and Kurt were insisting that Ed Westwick and Chace Crawford were totally fucking, while Quinn and Mercedes prattled on about Taylor Momsen, whose new look suggested she was trying to reincarnate herself as a panda. Brittany was silent as she ran a brush through Kurt's glorious hair. With every turn, she caught a whiff of his shampoo, which smelled so good it gave her a funny feeling down there.

The boys watched with fascination as Santana curled up against Kurt, her head on his shoulder, all but purring as he lightly stroked the outside of her thigh. Quinn and Mercedes were leaning heavily against him as Tina sat at his feet and scrolled through his iPod. Brittany looked even more stoned than usual.

"He is gay, right?" Mike asked. "We didn't just hallucinate that part? I mean, did this past year actually happen or are we still on Vitamin D?"

"I don't know," Finn said, frowning. "He's not in love with me anymore, and I'm pretty sure my mom's wedding was real, and Kurt doesn't live at home now, even though it still smells like him everywhere, so I guess this is reality."

"But is Kurt still gay or was all of that part of some diabolical plot to lure in unsuspecting female hotties?" Artie asked. "You know they're all sleeping over at his house tonight, right? In his bedroom."

"Damn," David and Wes breathed. Visions of the girls now before them danced through their thoughts. Beautiful girls dressed in teeny nighties, hitting each other with pillows, possibly making out. Or, in the case of Santana and Brittany, definitely making out.

Blaine chuckled. "While I have no doubt that my Kurt could be so devious, I don't believe anyone could take advantage of those girls, particularly Santana."

The other boys nodded.

Sam's ears rang with Blaine's sly declaration. My Kurt. My Kurt. Mykurtmykurtmykurt. At that moment, Sam had never hated anyone as much as he did this allegedly dashing Blaine No-Surname-Provided person. What if they were dating? What if they had kissed? Holy shit, what if they had…

Abruptly he stood up and excused himself to the lavatory. No one took much notice, save Quinn, who watched his retreat and then glared at Blaine, who returned her gaze with confused and slightly terrified eyes.

Puck couldn't stand it anymore and charged over to Sultan Kurt and his Harem of Hotness to demand a satisfactory answer.

"What the hell is going on here?" he barked.

Santana looked up at him, her eyes half-closed. "What do you want?"

"I want someone to tell me how this," he gesticulated with wild hands at the collective, "got started. What do you mean you've all made out with the Little Dude?"

"Poor Noah," Kurt sighed. "It seems that with every mohawk he loses gray matter." He shook his head. "He must have left brain cells in every hair salon in Lima."

Quinn and Mercedes cackled.

Puck scowled. "Stop calling me Noah."

"Stop calling me Little Dude."

Puck's expression was pained. "But that's our thing, you know? I'm Puck and you're the Little Dude."

"I never agreed to that."

Puck sighed and looked down at the floor.

"Perhaps," Kurt said, "I might be protesting a little too much, but I'm still calling you by your given name."


"First, it's a good name, a strong name. Second, it annoys you, and I live for that."

Puck smirked. "Whatever, Little Dude. Still doesn't explain how you became the Don Juan De Marco of Glee."

"Simple," Santana shrugged. "He's hung like a bull."

Blaine felt his stomach drop and then flutter up and punch his pancreas, because he had pegged Santana as a size queen and was pretty sure she wouldn't bother to make something like that up.

Kurt flushed scarlet and buried his face in Mercedes' chest. "Santana!"

She was completely unrepentant. "After he made out with Brit and she basically came whenever someone mentioned his name, I decided I had to know more. So I might have gone on a fact-finding mission and stalked him in the Cheerios locker room. Whatever."

"I felt like that lady in Jaws," Kurt moaned, "except she totally had it coming for wearing her hair in that style." He screwed up his face in disgust.

"Truth," Santana said, nodding. "Anywhore, once I realized that those skinny jeans he sports must be industrially reinforced in the crotchal area, I knew I had to get a piece. So I did. It wasn't quite the piece I wanted, but fine. And then I found out that he and Mercedes hooked up on the regular, and once Quinn was living with her, she was included. I didn't find out about Tina until later, but I wasn't surprised. It's always the quiet ones."

Puck blinked. "That…explains nothing."

She was unconcerned.

Sam slipped back into the room unnoticed.

Kurt sighed. "It's just kissing, Noah. It never goes further than that and it never will. I suspect what you really want to know is how I can be gay yet still make out with girls, correct?"

Puck nodded.

"It's simple. I am gay and completely secure in my sexuality. I can appreciate how beautiful my girls are, body and soul, and I feel no confusion or shame about expressing that appreciation in a physical manner. Above all, I respect them: their intelligence, their beauty, their wit, and their talent. I revel in these things, and I count myself lucky that I am privileged to know them and call them my friends. When I tell them how smart they are, how lovely and gorgeous they are, how any man would be only too lucky to be with them, I'm not paying them lip service. These are, for me, profound truths."

The girls cuddled more closely against him.

"They know they don't have to impress me. They know that I believe they're stunning even if they're laying around in tattered sweats and t-shirts without a stitch of makeup on. They know I won't waste my time or theirs by trying to impress or placate them. They know the attention I pay them is sincere and not an attempt to get into their pants. They know that I would defend them without hesitation, that I would protect them even at the expense of myself. And they know that I will thoroughly ruin anyone who hurts them. They feel safe with me because they know that they are."

Puck stepped back, eager to remove himself from the steely gaze in which Kurt had trapped him. The other boys were dazed.

"I see them as the unique individuals they are, not just as a pair of breasts or walking vaginas. I listen to what they say because I'm honestly interested. I love them and I want to encourage their hopes and dreams because I believe they can make them come true. I know them so well, but want to know even more, because they completely fascinate me. They're all so different from each other, but on a fundamental level, they're very much the same. They're good people. They're worth knowing."

Kurt now had a small smile on his face. "Allow me to quote one of my idols, the inimitable Julia Sugarbaker: 'In the end, all that matters is what was true and truly felt, and how we treated one another.' Even though my life here at McKinley was a living hell, I nonetheless managed to find five people who I know will be a part of my life forever." He shook his head in wonder. "How lucky am I?"

Quinn and Mercedes sniffled quietly as Tina gazed at Kurt with what could only be described as utter adoration. Even Santana found she couldn't summon her surly scowl.

The boys, including Will, gaped at him.

Rachel felt very small and sad. She longed to be a part of that group, to be included. As if sensing her thoughts, Kurt turned toward her and offered a shy smile which she enthusiastically returned.

"Sometimes I wish you weren't a dolphin, Kurty," Brittany said quietly.

The other girls nodded.

Suddenly Kurt startled and looked down at his Bulgari watch. "I almost forgot!" he screeched. He hoisted Santana to her feet and then grabbed Mercedes' arm. "It's time for your first present!"

She blinked. "It is? First present? Uh, okay."

He beamed and dragged her toward the door, which he flung open. Standing on its threshold was Matt Rutherford.

Mercedes' eyes widened. "Matt?"

Mike gasped and stared.

Matt grinned at Mercedes. "I missed you, girl. Where's my sugar?"

She squealed, grabbed the lapels of his pea coat, and drew him into a searing kiss.

"Is this real life?" Artie asked.

"I didn't know they were together," Quinn whispered to Santana, who shook her head to indicate she was also clueless.

"Since Regionals," Kurt confided. "They didn't want to say anything in case it didn't work out, so that we wouldn't be forced to choose sides."

Mercedes and Matt pulled back from each other, their foreheads touching.

"Boo," she said to Kurt, "you got me my boyfriend for Christmas?"

He nodded nervously. "I did okay?"

"More than," she whispered, tears streaking down her face.

"Well," Kurt said, his voice pitched higher than normal, "you've got to share your present with Mike. I couldn't think of what else to get him." He looked apologetically at Mike, and then became alarmed when the other boy's fevered eyes suggested he was about to tackle him with joy.

Mercedes smiled. "I can do that."

Mike launched himself at Matt as Mercedes moved to his side, taking Matt's hand in hers. The boys greeted each other with a complicated handshake that no one would ever be able to repeat, before Mike wrapped his arms around Matt.

"I missed you so much," he whispered.

"Me too, man," Matt replied in a choked voice, clapping Mike's back with his free hand. "Me too."

When they released each other, the other members of New Directions rushed forward to greet Matt, who was pleased and embarrassed by the attention. 'Twas the season, indeed.

"I still can't believe I'm here. When Kurt first called and suggested this, I didn't that it would really happen, that my parents would go for it. Then the next day, a deliveryman showed up with three first-class airline tickets." He chuckled. "I guess my parents decided they couldn't say no to that, and I know they missed Mama and Papa Chang as much as I missed Mike, so here we are."

"Where are you staying?" Mike asked.

"With you. Kurt offered to put us up in a hotel for the two weeks we're here, but we couldn't let him do that. So get ready for marathon Halo, dude."

Mike pumped his fist. "Yes!"

"We'll see about that," Tina and Mercedes said.

As one, Mike and Mercedes turned toward Kurt, who promptly began backing up.

"Don't do it," he warned. "I've filled my hug quota for the next two weeks."

They advanced.

Kurt dove behind Finn. "Save me!"

Finn smiled fondly at him. "You're adorable, but do you really think I'd ever get between Mercedes and what she wants? Dude, I'm only human, and she hits hard."

Kurt whimpered and, before he even realized what was happening, he was sandwiched between Mike and Mercedes. He was sure that suffocation was imminent.

It was Rachel who saved the day, pulling him away from them and ignoring their protests. Kurt was so grateful, he vowed to make the total sacrifice of putting off ridiculing her horrible snowman sweater for another fifteen minutes.

"Why didn't you have a solo at Sectionals?" she demanded. Almost immediately she realized her mistake when Kurt flushed and looked down at the floor. She looked to the Dalton boys for an explanation, and grew angry when they shuffled their feet and looked at anything but her. She narrowed her eyes. "What's going on?"

"I auditioned," Kurt said quietly. "I didn't make the cut."

"What?" she hissed, her voice dangerous. "Wait, you did Don't Cry for Me, Argentina, right?"

He nodded.

"Well, then I don't understand," Sam piped up. "I've heard your rendition. It's flawless. Both my mom and my sister demanded their own copies."

Kurt blushed harder. Blaine looked at Sam and frowned.

Rachel was nodding. "Sam's right. There's no one who does it better. Except for me, of course. This makes no sense."

Kurt scowled. "Apparently I need to try harder to blend in." He couldn't help the bitterness seeping into his tone.

Mercedes' eyes bulged. "Say what? Aw, hell no!" She turned to glare at Blaine, who withered. "This was your idea, wasn't it? You dumbass."

"Mercedes," Kurt warned.

She shook her head furiously. "Screw that, baby. The whole damn point of show choir is to strut your stuff, to show what you can do. You might not have had all the solos here that you deserved, but everyone heard your voice. You are too damned good to stand in the back, waving a rose like some lame sixth lead. Nuh-uh."

The other members of New Directions loudly supported her diatribe.

"We may run our show choir differently from yours," Blaine said carefully, "but that doesn't mean that we aren't worthy of the same respect we extend to you. We did tie with you, after all. We are very selective; only one out of thirty who audition are accepted. Kurt might not have gotten a solo this time, Mercedes, but you can be assured that we are certainly aware of his tremendous talent and all he brings to the table. We know how good he is."

Wes and David nodded fervently. While Kurt was not yet an exact fit with the Warblers, no one could deny that he was ferociously gifted. And they really didn't want Mercedes to cut them.

Mercedes was unsatisfied but knew she was embarrassing Kurt in front of his new friends. She didn't much care; she thought they should feel ashamed and she was really doubting everything she had been told of Blaine, but she backed off for her boy's sake.

Rachel grabbed Kurt's hand. "Sing now. Sing for us."

He gawped. "I haven't prepared anything."

"I don't care. Sing whatever you want. I miss hearing your voice."

Mercedes nodded. "Show these bitches how it's done."

"Do it, Kurt," Santana snarled.

Kurt shook his head.

"Please?" Finn asked. "I never get to hear you anymore," he said wistfully. "The house is so quiet now."

Kurt swallowed heavily. "Would…would that be acceptable, Mister Schue?"

The man smiled warmly. "Absolutely, Kurt. It would be nice to hear some actual singing at this practice, and Rachel's right; we've all missed your voice."

Puck, Brittany, Tina, Quinn and Artie all nodded. Mike and Matt started the applause, which was soon picked up by the others, including the Dalton contingent.

"I'd really like to hear you again, Kurt," Blaine said shyly, struggling to be heard over the din.

Sam was pretty sure he hated this guy with the fire of a thousand suns.

The applause turned thunderous and Kurt shook his head in disbelief. He had missed his friends, had missed singing with them, and while he knew they missed him, it was difficult to reconcile that they had missed his voice. He'd always felt so insecure around them. His voice didn't have the power of Rachel, Santana, Mercedes, or Tina, nor the huskiness of Finn or Puck. He was too exacting to have the sweetness of Brittany or Quinn, and Artie's tone was so much richer than his own. Mike and Matt could sing, but they weren't really interested in being showcased. He hadn't heard too much of Sam, but liked his voice. He had believed they would complement each other well. But it was best not to think of that anymore.

With a shrug and a sigh, Kurt crossed the room and dug into his messenger bag, withdrawing his iPod. He trudged over to the docking station atop the piano and dropped it in, scrolling through his selection. He hemmed and hawed for a few moments over what to choose, before at last settling on a song that was both vocally intense and expressed what he had been feeling since Sectionals.

"Okay," he said.

Will nodded and directed the others to take their seats.

"Don't you need to warm up first?" Wes asked.

Kurt shrugged. "No."

Wes and David glanced at each other.

Will smirked; though Rachel and Kurt benefited somewhat from warm-ups, they really didn't require them. He'd never before come across two people who could just open their mouths and sing perfectly on demand.

"Whenever you're ready, Kurt," he said.

Kurt nodded, set up the song, and took his place before the piano.

The opening chords rang out and Rachel frowned. She thought she recognized the song, but couldn't readily place it. That never happened.

Kurt took a deep, measured breath and began to sing.

"Reaching out from under an endless sea of clouds, it fills my head with wonder to hear my voice out loud. To hear me speaking for myself, not just to please somebody else."

He avoided looking at Blaine, David, and Wes, though he felt their studious gazes on him. He was angry, to be sure, but he also had been hurt by Blaine's words. He wasn't interested in fitting in; he didn't care what The Warblers thought of him. He knew he could sing; he was just searching for an avenue which would allow him to do that. Music was a huge part of who he was, of how he expressed himself. The outfits were fun and he liked setting trends and being at the forefront of fashion, but he wasn't defined by his clothes; they were simply a means to an end. He didn't like that he had to conform to the drab Dalton uniforms, but he could accept it. But when Blaine had told him to tone down his musical choices, that had cut deeply.

"There's a light that's shining deep inside of me. It's time to start defining that me I want to be."

In no uncertain terms, he had been asked to surrender his individuality, his very sense of self. No thank you, he didn't feel like being Borg today. But he would sing their stupid songs in his assigned part. He'd be flawless so they had no room to doubt or question his commitment, but he would never allow them to dictate who he was. He hadn't allowed it at McKinley and he was not about to start now.

"I'll never know, until I try, how high this heart of mine can fly."

His voice was bright and startlingly clear, even more so than usual, surprising those who knew him best. He was emoting just enough to communicate that he meant every word he was singing, but not so much that it overwhelmed the music to render it saccharine.

Kurt carefully controlled his breath so that he could increase his projection for the next part. He closed his eyes.

"The next dream that I dream will be for me. The next song that I sing won't be in someone else's key. The next star that shines will find me strong, the way I want to be. The next dream that I dream will be for me."

His voice easily ascended the climbing notes, his range more than adequate to deliver them. He felt as though he was singing for his life, for who he was and for who he wanted to become. Even though he was restraining himself, he had never felt more passionate than at this moment. This was his turn, he realized, to show what he could do to everyone who mattered.

Mercedes had a huge smile on her face and was nodding her head in time with the music. Over the past year, Kurt had served up some truly stunning performances, including his remarkable duet with Rachel, but she thought this might be the first time she had ever seen Kurt allow himself to be so thoroughly himself. He took her breath away. But then again, he always did.

Brittany grinned happily, leaning heavily against Santana, even though she supposed she should have been with Artie. But for right now, she was content just to sit there, close her eyes, and listen to Kurt sing.

"I can see tomorrow reaching out its hands." He shook his head. "You can keep the sorrow; I've got other plans. One day I will love again, an equal love that has no end."

Finn's face fell slightly as he wondered if that part was about him. He loved Kurt, he did, and at the wedding he realized that he always had in some fashion. But there were times, moments he had trouble admitting even to himself, that he sometimes wished he had been able to return the feelings Kurt once had for him. He couldn't really imagine the sex stuff, but he somehow knew that Kurt would have treated him right, would have loved and defended him without hesitation, would never have cheated on him. Would have made him happy. Once, Finn had thought that kind of love would have been cloying, but now he thought it would have been rather sweet; patient and gentle, like he knew Kurt could be when he wanted. He supposed if he was ever going to fall for a guy, it would have been Kurt. No one else could ever measure up.

Blaine felt himself paling. He had regretted his words to Kurt the moment he had uttered them and had tried to convince himself that he'd said them for Kurt's own good, but now he knew that wasn't true. As much as he liked Kurt, as much as he believed he actually loved Kurt, he was somewhat uncomfortable with him and his flamboyance, if only because that wasn't his own personal experience. He loved being gay, he did, but the number of gay people with whom he had interacted was relatively small, and he had never met anyone like Kurt. Kurt was a true original, and Blaine thought that was one of the things he loved most about him. So why on earth had he tried to change that? He angrily shook his head. He had to make this right. He had to make sure Kurt understood that he loved him for who he was, not for whom others felt he should be. He had to make sure Kurt didn't put an end to them before they had even begun.

"The next dream that I dream will be for me. The next song that I sing won't be in someone else's key. The next star that shines will find me strong, the way I want to be. The next dream that I dream will be for me."

His voice soared and fell with the changing keys, every note delivered with perfect pitch. He fought to remain in control of himself, preparing mentally for that final note which he knew would make or break the performance. He couldn't let the notes or his voice get away from him, not when he was fighting to prove to himself and everyone else that he was as good as he had always claimed to be. After a lifetime in the shadows, he was finally stepping into the sun, and it was warm there.

Will was rather horrified with himself. He had never known Kurt could sing like this, and he should have. He was so inured to the boy's polished performances that he must have begun discounting the talent they required. But here, right now in this moment, Kurt was singing with more verve and freedom than he had ever before allowed himself and it was truly inspiring, a wonderful gift to his audience.

When had he allowed himself to become so jaded where Kurt was concerned?, he wondered. Regrettably, he then realized he was just as guilty of doing the same to Rachel. Somewhere along the line, his awe of her ability had shifted to bored acceptance. Rachel was more versatile than Kurt due to the sheer power of her voice, but they could sing almost anything he threw at them and do it well. Rather than being proud or grateful, he had to come to expect it rather than appreciate it. That was pathetic and hurtful. He owed them both apologies.

Quinn and Santana exchanged smug grins. They weren't smug about anything in particular, other than the mighty display of Awesome currently unfurling before them. Santana burrowed more deeply against Brittany as Quinn looked over at Sam. She smirked at the stars in his eyes. This would be so easy, and she was really looking forward to pushing Sam and Kurt together, preferably sweaty and naked and onto a waterbed.

Also, she wasn't too impressed with Blaine. He seemed like a nice enough guy; he was cute and obviously into Kurt, but that business about blending in really bothered her. Kurt was born to stand out, and he deserved nothing less than a boyfriend who was willing to stand right there at his side. Maybe she was wrong and Blaine was a lot stronger than she believed him to be, but would he have confronted Kurt's tormentors and taken a punch for his trouble as Sam had? Well, she would find out soon enough. She would have to interrogate him at her earliest convenience. Perhaps she would enlist Santana, as well. Her grin turned vicious.

"The next star that shines will find me strong, the way I want to be."

Sam wanted to punch something, like his own face. Stupid, he was so stupid. Not because of the dyslexia, but because he was acting like Finn: denying himself what he wanted, not saying what he truly felt, stepping on the feelings of everyone else because he was too afraid to admit his own. He curled his hands into fists and ground his teeth. It was over, he knew, whatever he had hoped to have with Kurt. The song pretty much guaranteed that. He didn't know if it was being at Dalton or being away from McKinley, or even being with stupid Blaine, who looked like Harry Potter had mated with a Muppet and conceived a hellspawn with odd but attractive hair. Whatever the case, Kurt was finding himself, becoming more comfortable in his own skin. Kurt didn't need him, Sam realized, and whatever they had, which was probably far less than he had built up in his own mind, was over.

Kurt took another breath, Rachel breathing with him. It was coming she knew, the glory note. The song had been leading up to it, teasing the audience, and Kurt was fast approaching what she thought was the upper limit of his register. She hoped with all her heart that he would nail it. She didn't know what it was, but given the arrangement of the song and the octave Kurt was using, it had to be pretty damn high. Please just give him this, she prayed, he's earned it. She also wanted the sheet music to the song, because it was amazing.

"The next dream that I dream…"

Puck eagerly leaned forward. Come on, Little Dude. You can do it!

Mercedes grabbed Tina's hand as Mike and Matt, both enthralled with the performance, got ready to scream their asses off. Wes didn't know he was crying until David gently pressed a handkerchief into his hand.

"…will be for…"

His voice rose a key shift with each syllable, with no sign of breaking.

Rachel panicked. It was a high F, that's what was coming. She just knew it. Shit! Oh please oh please oh please.

Kurt's eyes shot open.


Rachel's mouth fell open. She was wrong. It was a high A over C. Sweet Lord. She doubted she could make that note, no matter how hard she trained. And Kurt was hitting it! In full voice! Not only that, he was holding it. Five beats, ten, fifteen. The music stopped, and he held that fucking note for an additional five beats before cutting it off, doubling over, and panting with exhaustion, sweat streaming down his face.

Silence rang out for about six seconds before the room exploded.

Finn was the first on his feet, clapping so hard his hands stung like a bitch with every slap. "That's my brother!" he crowed over and over again, eyes bright. "That's my brother!"

"High A over C," Will gasped.

Puck was laughing so hard he thought he might pass out. Oh, man, this was so worth it. This was worth everything! Fuck this school. Fuck Karofsky and Figgins and himself and everyone else who had tried to squash his Little Dude beneath their heels. Fuck Rachel and her obsessive need to be number one. Fuck Schue for never realizing what a good thing he had while he had it. Fuck the stupid fucking Woolworths or whatever the fuck Dalton called their hipster barbershop glee club for being too fucking stupid to live. Fuck everyone! Kurt Hummel just pwned them all! He had a sneaking suspicion Sue Sylvester was somewhere cackling over all this.

"Get it, Little Dude!" he screamed.

Quinn, Santana, and Brittany were bouncing around and screaming their heads off. Mike and Matt had busted a move and were dancing all over the room.

Rachel spun on her heel to face the three Dalton boys. "And that would have won you Sectionals free and clear," she gloated, sneering. "So much for blending in."

Wes and David stared down at their hands. They'd had no idea and only had themselves to blame. They loved their group, and they were good, but had they allowed themselves to become so entrenched in their belief that conforming was necessary that they had shut themselves off to even better opportunities? Blaine was an incredibly gifted singer and they knew how lucky they were to have him. He couldn't be matched for charisma and talent, and he had the ability to sing the phonebook and turn it into art.

But they hadn't seen Kurt Hummel coming, and now that they had him, they still hadn't quite figured out what to do with him. They knew they would have to decide soon; they were squandering his talent to their detriment. Perhaps some changes were in order.

Blaine made to rush toward Kurt and take him into his arms, but was struck dumb when he saw that Sam Evans had beaten him to the punch.

Almost against his will, Sam found himself striding towards Kurt, being careful not to startle him. Eyes wide and face flushed, he stared down into the other boy's eyes, the eyes that everyone went on about, but were the one case where the hype just wasn't enough.

Kurt looked at him in confusion and with perhaps a trace of fear. "Sam?" he asked, voice tremulous.

Sam cupped Kurt's cheek in his hand, his back to the others, sure that they couldn't see what he was doing, not caring if they did. Christ, Kurt's skin was so soft. It was so wonderful just to touch him, for Kurt to let down his guard for even a moment in his presence.

There were so many things Sam wanted to say. I wish I had sung with you. I should have never listened to Finn. You're so beautiful. I miss you so much. Please come back. I think I might love you.

"That was amazing," he finally whispered. "You're amazing."

Chapter Text

Sam was positive that 'I Enjoy Touching Kurt Hummel' needed its own Facebook group, dirty implications aside, because Touching Kurt Hummel was pretty damn epic. And in that moment in which Kurt's cheek was resting comfortably in his hand, Sam Evans decided several things.

First, only fluffy kittens could possibly be cuter or softer than Kurt Hummel. Second, he knew for certain that he wanted Kurt Hummel. Third, he was pretty sure he didn't deserve Kurt Hummel. Fourth, Blaine No-Surname-Provided definitely didn't deserve Kurt Hummel. Fifth, it was possible that no one deserved Kurt Hummel. Sixth, Touching Kurt Hummel made him harder than he'd ever been in his entire life.

As these revelations washed over him, his lizard brain was calling him an idiot for molesting a certain Lady Face belonging to one Sue Sylvester in full view of New Directions, Blaine No-Surname-Provided, and Kurt's other two friends who weren't important enough to have names he could be bothered to remember.

By this point, Sam had cottoned on that he should really say something to Kurt rather than just touching his face and drooling, because Kurt's uncertainty and curiosity were quickly turning into fear. He opened his mouth to speak but simply had no idea what to say, so he stood there, holding Kurt's face and looking like an insane mouthbreather who had a raging erection.

"Sam?" Kurt whispered, voice tight and fraught with tension.


"Please stop touching me," Kurt quietly begged, wrapping his arms around himself and dropping his eyes to the floor.

Sam immediately dropped his hand, his skin scalded. He'd scared Kurt. Jesus, the other boy was terrified. Sam had seen that look on Kurt's face before, and he was devastated that he was now the person who had put it there.

Fail. Epic fail.

Game over.

Puck stood unobserved in the opposite corner, watching the two boys with apparent disinterest.

He was feeling a lot of things, but since none of those things were boobs, he wasn't too happy about it.

Still, he was supposed to be a kinder, gentler Puck or whatever, thanks to his recent and unfortunate incarceration, because chicks really dug reformed bad boys who were sensitive yet still maintained their edge. He wasn't sure if that made him a douche or a pussy but, hey, it was better than being a sparkly vampire. Because that was all kinds of lame.

So he decided to examine these feelings.

One, he didn't like that Sam was touching Kurt. In fact, he was pretty sure that he didn't want anyone touching Kurt. Ever. He didn't want Kurt in a gay way, but he didn't want any other guy making time with Kurt either. He didn't know what he was feeling for Kurt and, yeah, he had to concede that if he ever got down with another guy, it would have to be with his Little Dude, no question, because the Little Dude really was a seriously hot piece of ass.

But Puck was pretty sure he wasn't feeling lust for the Little Dude. In fact, it was kind of like what he used to feel for Finn, like the Little Dude was his boy and it was his job to take care of him and whatnot. With Finn, though, that had always seemed like a chore or an unwanted responsibility. It wasn't like that with Kurt. He wanted to take of Kurt, to protect him and make him happy. He felt like…a big brother. He liked that feeling, always had.

He didn't like that Finn was now technically Kurt's big brother, because even though Puck was a douche, at least he owned his douchery. Finn was a gigantic douche who was too clueless to know what a douche he really was. And that was just fucking pathetic. Puck realized that even though he was an asshole, he could come through when it really mattered; Finn couldn't. He had proved that by utterly failing the Little Dude not just once, but over and over again. Kurt deserved better.

He wasn't sure that Sam was better, but though he had tried in a major way, Puck couldn't bring himself to hate Sam. Sam was actually a pretty decent guy. He had stepped up for Kurt when Finn hadn't. Maybe that was because he wanted to drill the Little Dude's admittedly sweet ass, but did that really matter? The bottom line was that Sam had put himself out there for no other reason than that he wanted to, because he knew Kurt was worth it.

He frowned, thinking of what he had been told about all that duet shit. Kurt had asked Sam to sing with him; Sam had agreed, knowing but not caring that Kurt was gay. Okay, awesome. But then Finn had stuck his big stupid face where it didn't belong and fucked everything up. Of course. What if Sam had been interested in Kurt from the beginning? Would they be together now if Finn hadn't guilted Kurt into dumping Sam? Did Sam know what Finn had done? Had he believed that Kurt just didn't want him anymore? Would Kurt have stayed at McKinley if he had been with Sam? Because if Finn had fucked them all over like that, it was seriously jacked up.

And what about Quinn? Sam had been good to her and good for her. As much as Puck didn't like it, Quinn had been a lot happier with Sam than she had ever been with Finn or Puck himself. But was Sam a good guy if he was with Quinn only because he couldn't have Kurt? Was he just using Quinn as a beard? Because that shit wasn't cool.

Of course, he didn't know for sure that Sam was Grade A Gay. The dude could be totally bi or whatever. Puck knew about bi stuff, and he knew that it was real and not just a cover for sneaky gayness. Santana and Brittany were both bi; he knew this. They dug chicks. They hadn't acted on it with anyone but each other, had never felt the urge, but he had watched them check other girls out, and that was seriously hot. So bi stuff didn't bother him, and gay stuff was cool, too. Pretty people fucking was awesome, no matter what junk they had between their legs.

And even though he wasn't gay, he would totally watch Sam and the Little Dude fuck, because he was betting they'd go at it like jackrabbits on meth. And considering how fucking huge their mouths were, he was pretty sure they gave amazing blowjobs. And what was better than a great hummer?

Whoa. Hummel Hummer.

He snickered.

Not to mention Santana was preaching the truth. Little Dude wasn't little where it counted, and Sam was seriously packing. He'd seen them both buttass-naked in the locker room. Not that he went in search of rigid, veiny hardness, but when cocks are just hanging out in the wind, it's hard not to look. Didn't mean you had to say howdy. Besides, when you had a big one like Puck did, you didn't get all a-twitter just because you saw some other dude's dick. Fuck, every guy had one.

Shit. Okay, so maybe he had a small kernel of homo or bi-guy power within him. No big. He was pretty sure he wouldn't say no if the Little Dude and Sam offered to be the bookends to his manuscript, or some other gay metaphor. Whatever. If you were going to queer out, best to do it with hot dudes who had big ones. So…yeah.

Wait, what was his point again?

Oh, yeah, Quinn! So, what about his very best used-to-be? He slid his eyes over in her direction, knowing that she would definitely have picked up on the massively gay vibes pinging off the walls. And she had. But…huh.

The way she was staring at Sam and Kurt suggested that Christmas had come early for her this year.


He smirked. So that's how it was.

Apparently she was down with hot homo loving, if the full-on horny in her eyes was to be believed. Holy shit! She was actually engineering this! Man, he should have known that once she got in tight with Aretha, the badass chunky girl's hag-loving ways would have burrowed under Quinn's skin as well. So his former baby mama was all about the gay matchmaking.

Either that…or she was hung up on Kurt herself and was trying to score a threesome. Well, good for her. He should have known that her inner harlot would emerge sooner or later. He just regretted it was after they had broken up. Hm. If she wanted Sam and Kurt together for whatever reason, how grateful might she be if he assisted in her mission? A hot fourway maybe? He wasn't too sure that Q was a three-input kind of chick, but who knew? Those baby hormones still hadn't fully settled down, so anything went, he figured.

And if Santana and Brittany were somehow brought into this? Because they would totally be down.

His eyes glazed over.

Nude Erections Orgy!

But then he noticed how uncomfortable Kurt looked, how scared. To borrow Aretha's ghetto slang: hell to the naw!

Why was his Little Dude so frightened, though? He couldn't be any gayer if his name were Gay Gayerson, so why would he object to a fake blond stud trying to get all up on that? Oh, maybe it was that Bland guy. Were he and the Little Dude exclusive? But Aretha had said the Little Dude wasn't into Bland that way. Course, maybe he just hadn't told her. Despite their freaky gay mojo, he had noticed that the Little Dude and Aretha weren't as tight as they'd been back in the day. He didn't know if that was because of Dalton or Karofsky or Furt or if because Aretha had hitched a ride on the Chocolate Love Express courtesy of Rutherford.

Puck squared his shoulders. Didn't matter. No one hurt his Little Dude. So, the logical course of action was to kill Sam.

But then Rachel fucking Berry sailed over and dragged his Little Dude away. The fuck?

Puck could only hope the Little Dude would finally rip Berry a new one over that fucking awful Frosty sweater she was sporting. He didn't give a great fuck about fashion, but that sweater was just too goddamn fugly not to burn.

Everyone broke off into discussion groups.

Santana, Brittany, and Tina were still raving about Kurt's performance and plotting how to lure him back to McKinley. They were not above staking out Finn as a human sacrifice. It didn't matter that Finn was no longer a virgin, as Santana announced that for all intents and purposes – and denied orgasms – his V-card was still safe and sound. He could just take one for the team, and considering his mailman problem, which, again, thanks to Santana, was no longer a secret, he'd only have to endure about twenty seconds of discomfort. Totally fair. Further, Brittany was of the opinion that Kurt should be made to wear his bondage pants during this clandestine operation, to which Santana and Tina enthusiastically agreed.

There would be cameras. Lots of them.

The Dalton contingent congregated toward the door, with Wes and David quietly conferring about the latest developments, namely the fact that Kurt was apparently one of those glittery gays of YouTube who could take any diva song and make it even more fabulous. Sure, his talent didn't necessarily fit in with their plans for the Warblers, but they could adapt. They were like Borg that way. Because no way could they in good conscience not utilize Kurt. If they didn't, someone else would. Maybe they didn't have room to give him a solo at the moment, but if Blaine were willing – and why wouldn't he be? – they could turn one of his leads into a stellar duo. They would sound amazing together, and maybe it would be enough to push Kurt firmly into Blaine's loving embrace.

Blaine was completely oblivious to their shenanigans, too focused on the fact that Sam Evans had made a move on Kurt. Granted, it was a clumsy and inordinately stupid move, but a move all the same. Sam legitimately wanted Kurt. There was absolutely no other way it could be interpreted, right? Not good.

Mercedes was cooing over Matt, who was enjoying it quite a bit and not even bothering to hide it. She couldn't believe her best friend had shelled out such major cash just to make her happy. They'd had a rough patch lately and Mercedes knew she shared equal, if not greater, responsibility, so she was going to put on her big girl pants and do everything in her power to show Kurt how much she loved him, because this rift was stupid. Matt aside - hell, everyone aside - no one was more important to her than her boo. Men came and went, but gay best friends? They were like diamonds: forever. They'd sit next to you in the nursing home and help you swallow your pills while preventing the underpaid orderlies from dressing you up real damn funny.

Mike was just so happy to have Matt back that he was untroubled finding himself seated next to Artie, despite how uncomfortable it was. Artie was a really cool guy and Mike wanted him to be happy. He felt bad for the other dude, he did, but it wasn't like he had stolen Tina out from under him. You couldn't just steal a person, and Tina had already broken up with Artie before she and Mike had gotten together. He knew that Artie and Tina had had problems long before he had come into the picture. Tina didn't like to talk about it, and he didn't pry, but he paid enough attention to know that most people had sided with Tina.

Kurt had publicly refused to take sides, which Mike thought was pretty damn cool and mature and stuff, and yet he had still managed to remain close to both Tina and Artie. But then Kurt was so obviously some kind of super gay ninja who was whiter than the whitest white boy, but still kind of like Shaft, in that he was a total BAMF. It was just how Kurt Hummel rolled.

"You have some competition," Wes whispered to Blaine, who frowned.

"Ridiculous. Kurt and I are not dating," he insisted.

"So Kurt's said," David agreed, "numerous times. I did wonder if he was just protesting too much, but now I think it's because you haven't had the guts to declare your interest." He sighed. "I'm disappointed."

"We're just friends," Blaine said weakly.

"Do you want to be more?" Wes demanded. "Because if you do, you had better say something to that effect, Blaine. It's more than obvious that Blondie – and I use that term loosely – is interested in your boy. Kurt might be safer at Dalton, but he's just as lonely. He's ripe for the picking. And as straight as I am, even I would be hard-pressed to say that Sam guy is anything other than hot."

"He's dating Quinn," Blaine hissed.

David rolled his eyes. "Oh. Quinn." He rolled his eyes. "You mean the second-in-command of Kurt's harem? How do you know she isn't Sam's beard? Newsflash: you don't." He shook his head. "Why don't you take a good look at her, Blaine, because it's obvious she's not scolding her alleged boyfriend for flirting with Kurt."

Mouth hanging open, Blaine turned to look at Quinn, who, if anything, was consoling Sam, who appeared as if he was about to flee from the room.

"I can't believe this," he murmured.

"Believe what?" Wes chirped. "That there might be other guys interested in Kurt? He's a good looking kid, Blaine. Just because he was the only out dude at this school doesn't mean he was the only gay one."

Blaine glowered. Fucking Karofsky. He wanted to roast that great oaf slowly over an open pit.

"For real," David said. "That Puck guy certainly had no problem feeling Kurt up."

Blaine waved a hand dismissively. "Their relationship is peculiar, but it's not sexual. If anything, I believe Puck is trying to push Kurt just to see how far he can get before Kurt slaps him."

The other two boys sniggered.

Blaine was lost in thought. Sam. Really? He felt…threatened. He didn't care for that at all.

He had taken things so slowly with Kurt because he didn't want to overwhelm the boy, or scare him like Sam had obviously just done. But maybe Sam had the right idea by forcing the issue. Kurt seemed oblivious to the subtle flirting Blaine had been endeavoring to deliver, probably because no one had ever before flirted with him.



Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

How was Kurt to know of his interest if he was completely unfamiliar with being courted? Blaine had thought he was being a proper gentleman, the suitor that Kurt deserved and desired, but what if that wasn't the case? What if he had just assumed that was what Kurt had wanted? Granted, Kurt was a romantic at heart, but he was also very blunt and said whatever was on his mind. Blaine loved those qualities. Still, he was certain that Kurt kept a great deal to himself, probably because he had always been under a microscope.

So the question was how to determine what Kurt wanted.

Well, his subconscious drawled, you could always just ask him, you dumbass.

Blaine winced. True, there was that option. He just wasn't a forward person, and he was frankly scared that he would be rejected. Kurt was very affectionate with those who would allow it. One only had to witness his interactions with his girls. And Kurt was loving with him, yes, but he didn't know if that behavior was fueled by a romantic interest or merely a friendly one.

Not that there was anything wrong with or lacking in just being Kurt's friend. But if he made a bid to change their relationship to that of boyfriends and Kurt wasn't interested? He'd be devastated. What if Kurt would be too uncomfortable to remain friends with him? The thought terrified him. He'd rather love Kurt in silence and suffer for it than lose him completely.

Of course, that was basically what Kurt had done with Finn, and that hadn't worked out too well. Except that they were now brothers, which was just too weird to contemplate. Not to mention that Finn was a doofus and a constant cockblock. Now that they were officially related, Finn couldn't get enough of Kurt and called him all the time. All the time. And then there were the surprise visits, with Finn just popping up at Dalton to sob into Kurt's arms about the latest travails of his love life or the confusing landmines related to anything involving academics.

Because, apparently, a despairing Finn Hudson absolutely required Kurt Cuddles in order to function.

Blaine suppressed a snort. Finn was definitely strange, and his interest in Kurt was confusing. He knew how Finn had reacted to Kurt's crush, and he also knew how Finn had bullied Kurt into reneging on his duet with Sam. And then, of course, there was that bizarre incident in which Finn had purloined Blaine's cell number from Kurt's own phone so that he could call up Blaine and interrogate him about his intentions toward Kurt.

It almost seemed reasonable, a brother wanting to look out for and protect his sibling, and Blaine somewhat understood that despite their plethora of friends, both Finn and Kurt had been very lonely, a loneliness which was remedied when they were transformed from grudging friends to full-fledged brothers. The problem was that Finn seemed interested in protecting Kurt only when Kurt didn't need it, when Finn's possessiveness of his brother appeared threatened.

Blaine had never bought into the idea that Finn had scared Kurt away from Sam; guilt-tripped him, sure, but it took a lot to scare Kurt. Like sexual assault.

Kill Karofsky.

If anything, he believed Finn had tried to scare Sam away from Kurt, using gayness as a cover, when the real reason was simply because he didn't want to share Kurt with another boy. The girls were one thing, because those relationships could only go so far. But a boy, one who might love Kurt back, one who might steal away time which Finn felt should be shared between only he and his brother, was another story. Even though Finn and Kurt hadn't been brothers at the time Sam had arrived, Finn nevertheless had sensed the potential for disruption and had acted to prevent it.

Just as he had told Wes and David that Puck's interest in Kurt wasn't sexual, neither did he believe that Finn was in love with Kurt. Both Puck and Finn had a proprietary interest in Kurt, as if he in some way belonged to them and interlopers simply weren't welcome. Blaine was an interloper; Sam no longer was. If Sam went after Kurt, there was absolutely no doubt with whom Puck and Finn would side, and David and Wes weren't close enough to Kurt to be effective as Blaine's champions.

He looked over at Sam, who was still upset, and then he looked at Quinn, who was smirking back at him with knowing eyes.

Message received.

Well, if that's how she wanted it. He wasn't about to roll over and play dead for some bottle blond himbo and his hag.

Game on, bitch.