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Masterpost



Chapter 4

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honestly, appropriate song was appropriate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Hello?"

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

***

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

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

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

"Yeah," said Dave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh baby, give me one more chance...

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

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

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

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

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




Chapter 5

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Neanderthal answered with a shrug. Kurt saw red.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

"Does it?" Kurt quirked an eyebrow.

"Maybe it takes a while to kick in?"

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

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

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

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

"That's good to know."

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

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

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

"See, I knew it would go well!"

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yeah, I guess you have a point."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Chapter 6

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



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

"About what?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is he jealous?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You think I'm pretty?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

Blaine raised an impressive eyebrow. "Huh."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Epilogue

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

"Hello," Kurt said cautiously.

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

"...thank you."

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

He frowned. "What are you doing?"

"Following Kurt. And so are you."

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

Dave slowed down. "What the hell?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For now, they had a performance to catch.





[Poll #1792079]


The Music – links and things

Date: 2011-11-08 01:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbow-gleek.livejournal.com
More now please.

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