You Don't Have to be Alone
Written for IchigoPudding and PleaseDontJump, who are lovely and review my fics. And both requested more Kartie, so here it is. Uncharacteristically for me, it is not smutty in the slightest. Enjoy!
Kurt got out of his car. Another day at school, another day of insults, another day of Rachel's incessant chatter. Another day of wondering if Finn would ever look at him in the same way he looked at Quinn or Rachel.
Artie rolled his way into school, spotting Kurt as he walked across the parking lot. He liked the young countertenor, he'd given him some good advice regarding belts and suspenders. He now only wore one or the other, not both. Usually suspenders, although they did leave him susceptible to people 'twanging' them. Ever since Puck had joined Glee, though, the general abuse had worn off, and since they'd won sectionals, people had actually started making way for him in the corridors. It was quite cool.
Kurt walked over as he saw Artie approaching the school entrance. He knew that Artie usually went past the entrance and around the back to the ramp, but it was perfectly possible for him to get up the steps with assistance, and it would save him time.
"Hey Artie. Would you like some help?"
"If you're not in a rush, yes please."
"It's fine. I did my hair before I got out of the car, so it should last till lunchtime at least." Kurt defly manoeuvred the chair up the few steps.
"Thanks Kurt. I really appreciate it."
"It's no problem. I never realised how bad you had it before we did that wheelchair thing. I'll see you in Glee, then?"
Artie had been surprised that Kurt would offer to help him. Not because he thought he was mean, it had never occured to Artie that Kurt would be strong enough to life his chair. He pondered this as he rolled to his first class. After all, Kurt had utterly failed to pick up Tina in their first ever Glee rehearsal. But then, he remembered as navigated around the line for the water fountain, he'd managed to pick up Quinn with no problems in when they'd tried out hairography. Perhaps he'd got stronger in football... He nearly rolled into the doorframe as he contemplated what muscles Kurt's sleeves might be hiding. Artie had never told anyone that he was bisexual, he got enough hassle as it was. And while he was still a bit hung up on Tina, Artie knew he needed to move on. He'd only initially liked her because she showed an interest in him, and while he still felt more than friendship for her, he knew nothing would happen. And Kurt was proving quite a nice distraction. He was attractive, he was single, he liked guys. And while Artie knew that the young teen was harbouring a massive crush on Finn Hudson (you would have to be blind not to notice it), he wondered if he might be able to get him thinking about someone else.
Kurt went about his day as usual, his encounter with Artie completely forgotten. He spent his breaktimes gossiping with Mercedes and Tina (apparantly one of the multitude of Cheerios had just had an abortion; they were speculating over who might be the father) before heading off to Glee practice in the afternoon. Mr Schue decided to do yet another song that most would class at least "inappropriate" - The Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha". He arranged the group so that girls were on side, singing the lead vocals, the boys on the other singing backup. As usual, Kurt attempted to join the girls' side until otherwise directed by Mr Schue. Luckily, the girls had a lot of their own ideas regarding dance moves, so Mr Schue mainly choreographed the boys' side. Kurt was not impressed that he had to act like he was drooling over the girls. Especially as he was put with Rachel for the brief partnered section. He would have been able to dance the girls' part so well, it just wasn't fair. He gave the boys' routine his best shot, but really, asking him to perv on Rachel and look like he was enjoying it was not on.
As the class filed out after practice, Artie remained behind. He wanted to see if they had the sheet music for Iron Maiden's Dance of Death (unlikely, he knew, but it had some amazing guitar solos in it). As he ducked down to look at the bookshelf behind the piano, he was surprised to hear Kurt's voice softly singing "Don't Cha". He'd thought everyone else had left. From his awkward position he looked under the piano to see skinny jean-clad legs dancing around. Kurt was evidently trying out the female part that he'd wanted to dance earlier. Artie gave up on his search and sat up to watch.
Kurt glanced around the room. It looked like everyone had gone, so he put down his books and started singing, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me." He did the girls' dance, wiggling his hips, dancing around the room. He was having great fun, really getting into it, until he noticed Artie's bemused face, just visible above the piano. He stuttered to a halt and blushed.
"Oh, um, hey. I thought you'd left."
"I was just looking for some music. I got distracted."
Kurt was silent, trying to think of something to say.
"You're a really good dancer, Kurt."
"Kurt coloured slightly. "Thanks. I just find the girls' dances easier sometimes."
"They normally are. Dances are usually choreographed with the men leading; it's easier to follow than to lead."
"That's true, I guess." Kurt paused. "Please don't tell anyone. I know I did the Single Ladies dance in front of people, but this is more..." he broke off, gesturing as he tried to find the right word.
Artie thought for a moment, then threw caution to the winds. "You were thinking about Finn, weren't you?"
"What?" Kurt's voice rose several octaves as it always did when he was nervous.
"When you were dancing. You were singing about Finn."
Kurt blanched and hurriedly turned to pick up his books and leave.
"Kurt, wait. I'm sorry, I was out of line. I just... I know you like him, and you're my friend, and I don't like seeing you hurt yourself so much over someone who can never feel the same way."
"Unfortunately, I don't have much say in who I like. Heart versus head, all that crap."
"Is there no-one else?" Artie's expression was unreadable at this point. Kurt thought he detected a hint of something. Jealousy? No, it couldn't be.
"What would be the point? There aren't any other gay kids in school. I may as well go after Finn as anyone else."
"I don't about gay, but I know there's at least one bisexual."
"Brittany doesn't count, she's a girl."
"No, I meant..." Artie took a deep breath. "Me. I'm bi."
Kurt's eyebrows vanished into his hairline. "Seriously?" His voice was high again. "H-How...?" He was stumbling for words. "You never sai-"
"Life's tough enough in the chair without extra abuse."
"I guess... wow..." Kurt sat down with a thump. "Have you told anyone?"
Artie shook his head. "Not till now."
"So why did you tell me?"
"I kind of like you. And it's just... you don't have to be alone. There's people who like you - if you let people in, they might surprise you. You can't spend your whole life mooning after people like Finn."
"You think I don't know that? But up until about a minute ago there weren't any better options."
"And now?" Artie's nerves showed on his face as he rolled over to Kurt's seat. He debated resting his hand on the countertenor's knee. Better not, he didn't want to push it.
"I don't know. Artie, you kinda just dropped a bomb on me here. I need time to work out what's happening."
"Okay. I'll leave you in peace. It's just something to think about." Artie rolled out of the room, leaving Kurt alone in the music room.
Kurt sat in silence for about fifteen minutes, trying to process what had just happened. His thoughts were interrupted by a text from Mercedes, asking where he was. Dammit! He'd completely forgotten he'd arranged to go shopping with her. He quickly texted her back before he packed up his things and left. He was distracted all the way through shopping. He didn't even spot the sale at the one designer store in Lima. Luckily, Mercedes saw it, and didn't notice that Kurt hadn't. He still wasn't with it, though, saying "Yeah, fine." to everything she tried on. Mercedes finally noticed something when he said she looked fine in a hot pink cashmere sweater coupled with red skinny jeans. She took him to the ice cream parlour and sat him down.
"What is with you today? And don't say nothing, you never let red and pink go within a mile of each other."
"I'm just a bit preoccupied, okay?" She looked at him, a skeptical look on her face. "Seriously, are you okay?"
Kurt sighed, "Yes. I'm fine. I had some rather surprising news. But I promised I wouldn't tell anyone." (This was a lie, but he knew he couldn't tell her the truth. Kurt loved Mercedes, he really did, but he knew that to tell her something was to tell every kid at McKinley)
She gasped. "Is someone else pregnant? Is it-"
"No, it's nothing like that. Never mind. It's not important."
When Kurt got home that night, he decided to talk to his mom. He would go and ask her advice, even now. She never replied, of course, but the thought that she was listened always made him feel better. He curled up in the corner of his parents' bedroom and told her everything. About his hopeless love for Finn, his desire to fit in, his happiness at being a part of Glee club, and his bewilderment at Artie's unexpected announced. He didn't hear his father come and stand outside the door to hear him ask her whether he should cling on to his love for Finn, or whether he should go for Artie. He'd never thought about him in that way before, but there was a certain attraction to him.
Burt Hummel quietly opened the door. Kurt looked up at him.
"Hi Dad. Just talking to mom."
"I know. But you know, son, you can always talk to me. I don't pretend to be very good at all this talking stuff, but I'm here if you need me."
"I know Dad. Thank you."
As Kurt went to walk past his father onto the landing, Burt laid a hand on his back. "Your mother wouldn't want you to spend your life hoping for something you could never have. If you think this Artie guy might be right for you, you should go for it. If you've got a shot at happiness, don't let it get away."
"Thanks Dad." They hugged awkwardly for a moment, before Burt pulled back and looked his son in the eyes. "I want you to make sure you get me a ticket to Regionals in that show choir you sing in. It would make your mom so proud to see you on stage, singing your heart out. She loved music, too."
Artie was nervous going into school the next day. He'd trusted Kurt with his greatest secret, and a part of him was terrified that everyone would find out. He knew he shouldn't be ashamed, but the abuse that Kurt received on a daily basis was enough to put anyone off coming out. He didn't see the other boy all day, he wouldn't be surprised if he was avoiding him.
Several times Kurt saw Artie in the corridors. Each time he was about to walk up to him he chickened out. He managed to be fairly concentrated in class, and the lack of Glee practice that evening made if easier to just avoid him. During lunchtime Mercedes texted everyone an invitation to go bowling that night. Most of the Gleeks accepted, including Kurt and Artie. In fact, the only two who didn't were Puck and Quinn, who was on what everyone termed "maternity leave". She was so nervous about the possibility of going into labour just anywhere that she refused to go out, with the local hospital on speed dial. Puck wouldn't leave her side at this point for anything but grocery trips.
The bowling trip gave Kurt and Artie a chance to feel like normal teens - they blended into the group (as much as a boy in a wheelchair and a boy in Gucci can blend in anywhere). Artie couldn't really bowl, but he was happy to keep score and spend time with his friends. Any awkwardness there might have been between the two boys evaporated as the conversation turned to music. Artie's love of Iron Maiden was decried by the whole group apart from Tina and Brittany; he spent the next fifteen minutes explaining why they were so cool. "It's not just the amazing guitar solos, it's the lyrics. They're telling a story - it's like a ballad." Cue the duck comments from everyone else - they were never going to let Brittany forget the ballad/mallard debacle.
Kurt discreetly observed Finn and Artie throughout the evening. While he couldn't help his feelings for Finn, he knew that he was setting him up on a pedestal. Perhaps if kept an eye open for the taller boy's faults, he'd see him as he really was, and maybe not be quite so loopy over him. He sighed. Not a chance. In his eyes, Finn was perfect, and nothing was likely to change that. Apart from the miniscule fact that Finn didn't like guys and never would. He considered Artie, watching him laugh and joke with the others. He was a nice guy, even if he did have terrible fashion sense. Kurt realised that he actually knew very little about the wheelchair-bound boy, and felt slightly guilty. Had he passed him over just because he was in a wheelchair? He didn't want to think to much about that because he knew he wouldn't be proud of the answer.
Artie tried to act as normally as possible, but the whole time he was thinking about Kurt. He caught sight of him watching him every now and again. He was clearly weighing up the pros and cons of the two guys, Finn and Artie. Artie just hoped that he might come out on top. He cringed slightly as he realised the innuendo of what he'd just thought. Never mind. It wasn't like anyone could hear him.
Inevitably the two boys ended up sitting next to each other at one point during the evening. They chatted about several things (fashion being a bit part of it). Both were pleased by how easy the other was to talk to, and both were somewhat relieved that there were others present - it stopped the conversation from going into dangerous territory.
During the course of the evening, Kurt came to a decision. He had to be practical - he would give Artie a chance. As he'd been told numerous times, Finn was a lost cause. Perhaps if he allowed himself, he would end up feeling that way about Artie...
Kurt caught Artie as they were leaving. He allowed the others to walk past before speaking.
"Artie, I've had time to think. And I want to ask you if you would like to come and see a movie with me."
Artie's face lit up. "I'd love to."
"Great." Kurt visibly relaxed. "Friday night? Seven thirty? I can pick you up."
"Sounds good to me."
The two boys sat and stood smiling at each other for a moment before they registered Finn's yell that they should get a move on if they wanted to get home before midnight.
Kurt was bit nervous. Understatement of the century, he thought as he got ready for his date. His first ever date. He spent hours mulling over what to wear, eventually deciding on something fairly traditional - black trousers, white shirt (Armani, of course) with the sleeves rolled up, black vest and a sparkly green tie, to jazz it up a bit. He also had a matching green fedora, although he was still debating over whether to wear it when his alarm went off, reminding him he only had five minutes until he had to leave to pick up Artie. After much deliberation over the perils of hat hair, he decided to wear the article in question. The outfit wasn't complete without it.
Artie was not showing his nerves as much, but they were still pretty high. After getting dressed, he'd sat in the hallway, picking up a book and putting it down about twenty times before he heard the knock at the door.
He greeted the boy standing there with a smile. "Hey Kurt."
"Hi. You ready to go?"
"Yep." He wheeled himself down the ramp and along the path, Kurt slowing his pace to match him. Artie was so glad he'd made his parents stay in the kitchen for this. He didn't want Kurt to be subjected to the grilling he was sure his parents were dying to give him.
Kurt picked Artie straight out of his chair and onto the passenger seat of his car. The boy's strength amazed Artie - supporting Quinn, who was very petite (if pregnant at the time), was not in the same league as picking up a person who was essentially a dead weight. Kurt deftly folded the wheelchair and placed it in the backseat while Artie buckled himself in.
Artie started the conversation as Kurt slid into the driver's seat, "Hey Kurt, how did you get to be so strong? You lifted me out of the chair like I weighed nothing."
"I help my dad out at the garage, lifting equipment, that sort of thing. And since Mr Schue makes the dance the male parts the whole time, I figured I should probably build up my upper body strength so I don't drop any of the girls when we do lifts."
"That's cool. My arms are about the only part of me with any strength at all."
"But you've got to be pretty strong to wheel yourself around all the time. My arms were so tired after that Proud Mary routine. Especially ramps - they are harder than they look."
"I guess I've got used to it, doing it all the time."
The conversation continued until they reached the movie theatre. Artie didn't even notice what film they saw, he was too distracted by the beautiful boy sitting next to him. He was definitely falling for Kurt in a big way. It just annoyed him that they had to sit right by walkway because of his chair - he wanted to take Kurt's hand, but didn't quite dare. This was Lima; if anyone saw two guys holding hands at the movies, they would get showered in popcorn (and worse) for the rest of the film. If he'd been able to walk they could've sat nearer the back, out of sight. As it was, he had to make do.
They sat in companionable silence for most of the journey home, chatting briefly about the film, Artie dredging up what details he could. When they arrived, Kurt paused before he opened the door.
"Artie, I had a really great time tonight. Thank you."
"For what? I thought you paid..."
"For helping me realise that I was shutting myself away. And for helping me see that I really want to do this:" Kurt leaned over and kissed Artie lightly on the lips. Artie responded, their lips seeming to fit perfectly against each other. It was a very good first date.
Wow. The first fic I've ever written that isn't a response to a specific request or based on a song.
I chose Kurt's date outfit because this: http(colon, slash, slash)29(dot)media(dot)tumblr(dot)com/tumblr_kwkiy0AFtP1qavl3no1_400(dot)jpg is just too sexy to be believed.
I used an N*Sync song title mainly because I save all my fics in the Lyrics section on my computer in case my parents get nosey. And because the line works really well for these two.
Also, tell me if you spot any Briticisms - I think I caught most of them, but if I missed any, I'll correct them.
Reviews are always appreciated. I worked really hard on the characterisation on this one, so constructive criticism is more than welcome. Thanks for reading!