Disclaimer: Again with the borrowing of characters for my own amusement, to be returned to proper owners only gently used and relatively unharmed.

You like to doodle.

Most people don't know this about you, because all your doodles go straight into the trash as soon as the page is full. You're no artist, truly, you're barely capable of stick people on a good day, but you like to draw anyways. It's one of you patented during-class boredom reducers. (Black pen, white paper, your own little universe of petty amusements)

Today you draw the same little twiggy figure, over and over. It doesn't look any different from any other stick man, except for the little sparkles around his head. The little man is eating, the little man is in class, the little man is singing, the little man is dancing… (Kurt at lunch, Kurt in Glee, Kurt dozing in English, KurtKurtKurtKurt)

You wonder if this is what you're mother's old records felt like when the needle stuck.

For the first time, you save your daily sheet of doodles.

(You burn it in a can in the backyard tonight instead, watching the white edges crumple and brown and wither and it feels familiar)

You like to sing.

You believe that's obvious, considering your dedication to Glee. (Your father could argue that he's known for years by the great showtune classics you belted out from the shower)

Sometimes you and your boyfriend sing together. He loves music like you do, knows all the great musicals (and has starred in several, little musical theatre darling that he is.) He can immediately identify a key change, hear the slightest waver in pitch, and has all the words memorized.

(he brings you flowers and fashion magazines and calls you baby, but you have never seen his hands wrapped around the neck of a guitar like a lifeline, never heard him curse, never torn him apart at the seams just to watch him unravel)

(The edges of the broken-thing in your chest rub together sometimes, and it's never him you think about, only Noah)

Time stops for no man.

(Your mother used to say that to you, you didn't understand, but you do now, blessing-and-curse that it is) Weeks's pass you by in sleepwalk; the bruises on your skin fade, Quinn's belly grows with your baby, Finn cools down towards you. (You are almost friendly again, like scratching around an itch; no true satisfaction but better than nothing)

You are still social pariah numero uno, but people are growing bored again, beginning to forget your scandal in favour of the next one. This pleases you; you are tired of being impenetrable, tired of shrugging it off, tired of lashing out where you can, tired of what's left of your reputation, tired of lying, tired of your own goddamn skin.

(Tired of missing Kurt, tired of missing Finn, tired of being that person, the bad person, tired of being the person who loses and is used, and you've never been a good person, but it's not too late, right? Wipe off that whiteboard and start over?)

You wish the boy in the designer loafers would stay still long enough to speak to you, but he moves like he's blurring, forever in front of you just beyond your fingertips. (Come back)

You break up with your boyfriend when he sends you a text by accident. One meant for his real boyfriend, one very racy by his standards (and downright tame by yours; you've had Noah Puckerman naked and gagging for it, after all)

(Apparently he's made you 'the Other Woman' in his little personal drama. The irony of the whole mess is not lost on you)

Tina and Mercedes take you out for retail therapy and hover, expectant and wide-eyed, waiting for the breakdown. You don't satisfy them, it's only your pride that hurts, and you have years of slushies and dumpsters teaching you how to bounce back gracefully. (You are, for a split second, almost grateful. You strangle the thought so fiercely it nearly hurts.) The rest of the trip you are tense, and you let them draw their own conclusions as to why; you could not explain it to them if you tried.

You are tired of being a victim, tired of wanting what you can't have, tired of sacrificing what you can, tired of keeping it bottled inside.

(Tired of him in your head, tired of the locked window, tired of this sick anger, tired of wishing it away.)

You need to speak to Noah and exorcise this ghost; this shadow of him the constantly walks behind you.

Just because no one will think to look for you on the back stairs beside the choir room doesn't mean that you are hiding.

(It's a strategic avoidance of anyone not yourself, really, you'll face the world again in a few minutes for Glee.)

You are fingering scales on your acoustic and humming when the whisper-soft steps from behind announce your visitor.

You freeze, but do not turn, not even when he settles on the step next to you, silent, hands folded. (Your fumble on the B-string says everything.) You sigh and give up trying to play, but hug the instrument close enough to shield you regardless.

"I broke up with my boyfriend. You wouldn't have liked him; you two had nothing in common." Kurt says. You shrug; you have nothing to say really (nothing you trusted yourself to say.) The silence stretches on, ending just shy of painful when he speaks again.

"You still look at me." There's less accusation in his thin voice than you expected. Finally conceding, you shift your Guitar to jam a hand into your pocket, passing Kurt the much-abused folded paper.

Unfolded it reveals another sheet of glitter-man drawings. Little sparkle-man kicking a football, little sparkle-man sleeping on a desk, little sparkle-man singing on a stage with other little stick figures.

"The best part of drawing is the blank white page at the beginning." you say, low and quiet. "Because it's empty and new, and can be whatever I want it to be. I… I'm not making sense, do you understand anyways?"

(Kurt does, you think. Maybe always has, for whatever that's worth now.)

He nods a bit, and doesn't look at you directly, but folds the drawing carefully and slides it into his own pocket. When he leans back, his hand comes down on yours where it's splayed on the step, fingers sliding into the negative spaces between your own.

(He presses down and squeezes a little, briefly, and it's not an apology but it might be forgiveness, an there's too much bad history in the static spaces between you both to ever even apologize for anyways, so clear that big white scoreboard one more time)

Kurt stands then, climbing the stairs behind you, and a moment later from just around the corner you hear the creak of the choir room door opening, the sudden wash of distant teenage chatter running over you and settling into your chest.

The door does not close again, and you know he's standing there, waiting for you.

After a moment, you heft your Guitar and follow.

read the Coda, "A Deeper Shade of Blue"