Author's Note: Hey guys. This is my first Glee fic so I hope you like it! It's rated for future chapters, just a little heads up. I live in England, so if I haven't got any American references right as in shops or food please don't kill me! It wasn't intentional!
Disclaimer: Not mine, really not mine, sadly.
Warnings: Contains mentions of homophobia and a couple of nasty words.
Kurt Hummel pulled into the McKinley School parking lot and cut the engine. Sighing, he flipped the driver's mirror down and examined his reflection carefully. Smooth brown hair perfectly in place, check. Height of fashion cap jauntily perched on his head, check. Designer sunglasses, check.
Honestly he didn't know why he bothered. By the time he'd taken more than ten steps away from his car he'd just be set upon by the football team. And being chucked into a dumpster is guaranteed to ruin any hairstyle – no matter how much hairspray you put on it. But Kurt cared about his appearance, cared about it deeply. It was his way of sticking two fingers up at the world, or, more precisely, his high school. He couldn't wait to get out of this dump and move to the City where he'd be appreciated more. The only saving grace at McKinley High for Kurt Hummel was the Glee club, and it was ironic that this one small pleasure was probably one of the biggest reasons for why his school days sucked so much. Best years of your life. Whoever came up with that one was clearly either high, one of the popular kids, or homeschooled.
He shut the mirror back up, reached across to the passenger seat for his bag and slid out of the car, locking the door behind him.
Sure enough he'd only got about halfway across the lot when the first large hand landed on his shoulder, the force making his knees buckle slightly. He was spun around, and found himself facing Karofsky. Brilliant. Possibly the most sadistic member of the team. It would appear that helping lead them to victory via the magic of dance, specifically 'Single Ladies', didn't amount to much in their book.
He allowed himself to be marched back across the lot towards the dumpsters, feeling those treacherous tears pricking behind his eyes. Thank God he'd decided to wear sunglasses today. He wouldn't give any of his tormentors further ammunition against him by seeing him cry.
As they reached the dumpsters, Kurt saw Mr Schue approaching, also sporting sunnies, but they weren't nearly as fashionable as Kurt's. Karofsky slung one heavy arm around his shoulders in a matey way. Kurt's shoulders slumped. He was sick of hoping that one day, just once, Mr Schue might actually notice something odd about the set-up he passed every morning by the dumpsters. Surely not even a teacher could be this blind?
But, no. Mr Schue passed by with no more than a cheery wave and a, 'See you at half three, Kurt!'
As soon as he was out of sight, Karofsky turned to Kurt, a sneer on his lips.
'So, you ready, fag?' Kurt sighed and dropped his bag on the ground. To his surprise Karofsky did not then just grab his arms and sling him in. Instead, he was smirking, and there was a nasty light in his eyes.
He motioned to one of the other guys, who picked Kurt's bag up and emptied the contents all over the tarmac. Make-up, books, pens, a couple of CDs, a few items of spare clothing – all of them cascaded out onto the ground. Very deliberately, Karofsky plucked the sunglasses from Kurt's face, dropped them to the floor, and stamped on them, grinding his heel. As if this was a cue, the other members of the team started kicking Kurt's stuff around the dumpsters, some of it rolling under the large bins.
Kurt merely stared, unable to say or do anything as he watched the wilful destruction of his belongings. Karofsky turned back to the smaller boy, and swiftly delivered two iron punches into his stomach. Kurt, taken completely by surprise, doubled up, gasping in pain.
Then the boys appeared to get bored, slung Kurt into the dumpster, and wandered away, chatting and laughing.
He lay there among the rubbish for a good few minutes trying to get his breath. A tear slid down his cheek. And with that single tear, Kurt's usually impeccable self-control broke down. The tears came thick and fast as he heaved himself out of the dumpster, wincing as he landed when the impact sent ripples of pain through his bruised stomach. It wasn't the physical violence that hurt him the most. It was why they picked on him so much, why his being gay offended them to this degree. The rest of the Glee club had it fairly easy, he reflected bitterly – picking up his bag and collecting his scattered belongings. Oh yes, they got slushie facials every now and again but the bullies seemed to really have it in for Kurt. He was the only one who got the dumpster treatment, to his knowledge at least.
And the more he acted as though it didn't bother him, the worse the bullying got. All Kurt Hummel had was his mask. That was all that got him through the average schoolday. Only a few times had he allowed it to break. Confessing his sexuality to his Dad and Mercedes. Telling Finn Hudson that he 'honestly loved him'.
Kurt straightened up, slinging his bag across his shoulder and smoothing his rumpled Alexander McQueen outfit. There was nothing he could do about the sunglasses. Taking a deep breath, he tried to regulate his features. Done. The mask was in place again. Lifting his head high, he strutted off towards the doors into the school to face another day of torture.
He was completely oblivious to the CD that had rolled underneath the dumpster, and which he hadn't spotted.
Puck was late getting to school – over breakfast his mother had had another mini breakdown of why he never brought a nice Jewish girl home for dinner, and calming her down had taken him at least fifteen minutes.
He ran his hand agitatedly through his mohawk. Honestly, it was incredible the amount of crap he had to put up with. Santana had been going on and on about why she was never invited back to his house. Now, if only the thing with Rachel had turned out right... he would have been in business. It was all a total mess. He was the father of Quinn's baby, Finn had found out and now neither Quinn nor Finn was talking to him. Rachel was still obsessed with Finn, but he'd closed himself off from everyone and only ever talked in Glee Club, and even then only about their songs or the dance-routines. Santana was pissed at him for supposedly choosing Quinn over her, and now she'd gone off with Brittany.
Puck was left standing on the sidelines, bewildered. So he liked having sex. Big deal. He was a teenager for God's sake. Hormones pretty much dictated his every move. Scowling he started walking faster, until he approached the dumpsters and heard somebody crying. Aww, shit. He did not need this right now. He didn't have to be a superbrain to know who was in there but – but he'd never cried before, had he? He never cried. The fag was an ice-cube he was so cold.
Not quite knowing why, Puck slowed down and halted just behind the dumpster. From his vantage point he saw Hummel heave himself out and drop down onto the tarmac, wincing as he landed. He also saw the tears flowing freely. Puck shifted uncomfortably. Yeah, he didn't like the little homo, but he also didn't really want to see him crying. Anyway, he couldn't be blamed for this one, at least. He'd quit chucking the kid in the dumpster a few weeks after he joined Glee. It seemed unsportsmanlike, to be pushing around a team-member, even if that team-member was part of Glee Club.
Hummel was searching around on the ground for his belongings, putting them slowly back into his bag. Seemed that the torture had gone up a level then. When he was part of it, they usually just took his bag and then chucked him in, leaving his bag next to the dumpster. With a slight pang of... something... Puck noticed the smashed sunglasses. Knowing Hummel, they would have cost a small fortune, and even the football team knew how important Hummel's clothing and accessories were to him.
Now the kid was straightening up, sorting out his clothes. And... shit, but the kid could act. Almost as if a blind was being drawn down his face, the tears stopped, he sniffed deeply once or twice, patted his hair into place as best he could, and Hummel was back. Back to how Puck knew him. Head in the air, disdainful expression at everyone around him. Only a slight reddening round the eyes betrayed what had happened in the past few minutes, but knowing him he'd convince everyone he'd tried out a new moisturiser last night and it had made him break out in a rash.
Puck was slightly scared about how much he knew about the kid now. And it was difficult, because the more he knew about him, the more he found it difficult to hate him. In the old days he'd have thought nothing of stamping on his sunglasses or pushing him into lockers. The kid had a perpetual look of superiority, and he considered the occasional dumpster dive or slushie facial merely a way of reminding him who was in control at this school. It was only now that he started to realise that maybe their actions had hurt Hummel a lot more than they had realised.
He watched the kid move away with that sashaying walk, and slowly walked around the dumpster to where his belongings had been scattered. Suddenly his eye was caught by something. He knelt down and reached under the dumpster to haul it out. A blank CD in an undecorated case. He peered at the writing in curly pink letters on the actual disc.
'Single Ladies'. Hmmm. That was that dance that the Hummel kid had taught them to win their football game. That had been embarrassing, to say the least. He cringed internally whenever he thought of it. The entire football team shaking their hips and tossing their heads in front of hundreds of people. It was a miracle they'd lived it down.
They'd only lived it down because they won, he reminded himself. And why did they win? Because of Hummel. Because, unfathomably, the kid had turned out to be a star kicker. Puck shook his head. Sometimes nothing made sense in this world.
Unsure quite why he was doing so, he slipped the CD into his bag. Again, a sign of how much he'd changed. In the old days he'd have thought nothing about tossing it into the dumpster with the rest of the rubbish. He'd give it back to the little homo in Glee Club. He might be so grateful he'd even favour Puck with a smile of thanks. Not that that was important to him, but it'd be nice not to be looked at with anything other than complete disdain. Originally Puck thought that's how he looked at everyone, but now he knew otherwise. Mercedes, his official... what was the term?... hag-fag was one of the favoured inner circle along with Artie and Tina.
With them, he'd seen Hummel smile and laugh, joke around – his blue/green eyes alight with happiness. That look never appeared when he was around the football team. Without quite knowing why, Puck wanted Hummel to look at him with that look.
'Okay, guys, so we won Sectionals – well done – but now we need to start work on preparing for... Regionals!' Mr Schue wrote the word enthusiastically on the whiteboard. 'Who's got any ideas as to what we could do?'
Immediately Rachel's hand shot up into the air. Mr Schue sighed.
The petite dark-haired girl got to her feet in one fluid motion. 'Well, Mr Schue, I took the liberty of researching all previous teams' numbers and I found that...'
Kurt tuned out. Not hard to do when it came to Rachel Berry. Beside him Mercedes was examining her nails and on his other side Tina was holding a whispered conversation with Artie.
Idly Kurt twisted a couple of hairs into place and wondered what exactly he was going to wear tomorrow. He seemed to be running out of killer outfits, and he had a sneaking suspicion that a trip to the mall was going to have to happen. Such a chore. He smirked. Thanks to a couple of weekends working his ass off in his Dad's garage he had quite a bit stored up. Should be enough for at least a few designer shirts. Maybe even a jacket.
Faintly aware that Rachel had not yet finished her rant, and noting that Mr Schue was staring at her with glazed eyes – Kurt leaned across to Mercedes, nudging her with a skinny elbow.
'Fancy a trip to the mall?'
'What's she talking about now?'
Mercedes rolled her eyes. 'No idea. Probably more of that white-girl crap. Who cares, anyway?'
Clearly not Mr Schue, Kurt thought in amusement, as he noticed their teacher had now sunk his head into his hands and was massaging his temples.
Soon enough he held up a hand.
'Rachel, thanks, but let's try and move on shall we?' With an irritated huff, and a glare at the rest of the Glee members, Rachel sank back into her seat, flicking her dark hair off her shoulders. 'I shall definitely keep all you've said in mind...' Kurt was willing to bet that he'd heard none of it either, '... but for now I've got a few songs to run past you.' Filled with his usual energy he leaped up and started handing out sheet music.
Soon enough practice was over, and Kurt threaded his arm through Mercedes' chubby one and they ambled off towards the door. As they were leaving the music room, Kurt saw out of the corner of his eye Noah Puckerman start moving towards him. He sighed. Puck had probably spent the entire Glee practice thinking up original new insults to hurl at him, and he braced himself, but before Puck could reach him, Mr Schue called him back – wanting to talk to him about a potential guitar solo.
Strange, Kurt thought idly. Puck had looked almost disappointed. He had no idea why. Unless his Neanderthal brain would forget the insults he'd cooked up almost instantly and he'd have to try and think of new ones tomorrow.
Sighing Kurt put it out of his mind, and concentrated on the serious matter of shopping as he and Mercedes walked to his car.
The mall was always a haven for Kurt. He liked his house well enough, but only his basement was decorated to his tastes. The rest of the house was dull and kind of dismal. Ever since his mom had died the whole atmosphere was distinctly bachelor-esque.
The mall, on the other hand, was full of everything Kurt loved best in the world. Specifically clothes and colour. He could spend hours just browsing, feeling the material, holding jackets and trousers up against himself to see if they would fit. He and Mercedes, and perhaps Tina and Artie, would have a slushie – revelling in actually drinking them, rather than cleaning the sticky mess off clothes and hair – and then they'd start trawling the shops, sometimes going round as many as three times just to make absolutely sure that they didn't miss a thing.
Kurt felt safe here, especially when he was with his friends. Every moment he spent at school he was walking on eggshells, just waiting for an insult, a shove or a slushie to the face. Here, he could relax and be himself.
He sat at a table in the food court with Mercedes, enjoying his grape slushie, and covertly checking out the hot guys who were wandering around – most, sadly, with girlfriends. Kurt stubbornly refused to believe that he was the only gay guy in Lima. There must be at least one other! He was sick of crushing on a straight guy. Kurt knew, of course he knew, that there was no way that Finn would ever, ever be with him. But whenever Finn smiled at him, or patted him on the shoulder – any kind of contact whatsoever – Kurt's heart just filled with joy. It had to stop. Rachel had been right, though cruel, when she stated that however far down the list of potential partners in Finn's head she was, Kurt would always be below her. Because she was a girl and he was a guy. Kurt sighed heavily.
'What's the matter with you, white boy?'
Kurt patted Mercedes' arm absently.
'Oh, nothing. I'm just going to the loo – see you in five? Warehouse?'
'You got it.'
Kurt meandered down to the men's loos, head full with thoughts of Finn and the clothes he'd already noted down as he walked past the shops. As he approached the toilets he heard loud laughter and voices, and in the time it took him to recognize them and desperately look for somewhere to hide, it was too late.
Karofsky and a few members of the team rounded the corner, coming from the direction of the toilets. Kurt put his head down and kept walking, hoping that they were too immersed in their own coarse conversation to notice him. No such luck.
'Well, what have we here? Our very own little fag.'
Unable to stop himself Kurt came back with his own retort. 'Why, Karofsky, how very observant of you. Well done.'
Karofsky frowned, and his dark brows knitted together.
'You making fun of me, homo?'
'Whatever gave you that idea?'
Swiftly Karofsky kicked out at Kurt's ankle, causing him to trip and fall to the floor, hitting his head on the white tiles of the corridor. Karofsky followed this up with a quick kick to the stomach – hitting the very spot he'd punched him in that morning. Kurt winced and doubled up instinctively.
'Don't you ever answer me back you little queer.' With that he moved off, a few of his mates punching him on the shoulder in congratulations. Kurt pulled himself up to a sitting position and tentatively touched his head to assess the damage. He'd be bruised there tomorrow, but there was no blood, thank God. Blood-soaked hair was a look he was fairly sure was quite difficult to pull off. Unless you were some kind of super-goth or something. He got to his feet and managed to make it into the bathroom, where he sat on a loo seat and had a look at his stomach. Ouch. It didn't look good. Vivid bruises marked his stomach in several places. Cautiously he poked one of them and hissed in pain. He'd see how it went, but he doubted he'd be able to do any of the dance routine Mr Schue wanted them to practice tomorrow.
By the time he made it to Warehouse it had been fifteen minutes since he'd left Mercedes at the food court. After his undignified and unscheduled trip to the floor of the mall, he'd had to fix his hair again – a task that had taken him at least five minutes.
'Yo, white boy! Where d'you get to?'
Kurt smiled at Mercedes. 'Had to carry out some emergency repairs on my 'do'. I'm alright though. Shall we continue?'
In the end he left the mall several hours later with a new deep red Armani jacket, along with a couple of neckties and a pair of skinny jeans that when he tried them on looked like they'd been sprayed to his legs. Perfect.
Puck cursed in frustration, then immediately wondered why. So he hadn't been able to give Hummel his CD. It was no big deal. He'd just hang onto it and give it to him tomorrow. Mr Scheuster seemed quite keen for him to have a guitar solo at some point during their numbers for regionals – and by the time Puck got to leave the parking lot was virtually empty.
He drove home slowly, trying not to think about how much of a mess his life was in right now. Luckily his mom was out when he got in, so he made himself a sandwich, wolfed it down in the kitchen and then headed upstairs to chill out and play some video games.
After twenty minutes of gameplay he realized he clearly wasn't in the mood for playing 'Call of Duty'. He'd got eliminated about five times, and that was unheard of. Sighing he chucked the controller down onto the floor and lay back on his bed with his arms stretched above his head.
He really needed to get laid soon. He was feeling increasingly frustrated, and sometimes a hand just wasn't good enough. But what with Quinn ignoring him, and Santana giving him the cold shoulder and hanging out with Brittany...
On a whim he heaved his bag off the floor and started rooting through it. He'd slip Hummel's CD into his DVD player and see what songs he had on it. 'Single Ladies' was clearly one of them, seeing as that was the name on the disc.
Quickly he slotted it into the DVD drawer and flicked his television to the right channel. What flickered onto the screen made his mouth drop open. This wasn't a CD. It was a DVD. It was a video, clearly filmed in Hummel's room, of Hummel, Brittany and Tina dancing to 'Single Ladies'. That wasn't what had made Puck's jaw drop though. It was more Hummel's outfit. Whenever Puck had seen Hummel doing this dance for the football team, it was in a full – if slightly effeminate looking – football uniform, complete with shoulder pads.
This video showed Brittany and Tina as his back-up dancers in black leotards, with their long hair tied into high ponytails. Hummel had black skinny jeans and what looked like a black sequinned jacket on, complete with a slim black tie tied around his slender throat. His hair was absolutely perfect.
Fascinated without knowing why, Puck watched the entire video. There was only about a minute of footage, and then it cut off suddenly. Puck rewound it. Suddenly he stopped himself, and ran his hand through his mohawk. Why, he asked himself, was he rewinding the video. And why on earth was he staring at Hummel dancing, and not Brittany or Tina? That made absolutely no sense.
Hummel was in the centre. That was obviously the reason. Puck let out a sigh of relief. It was natural human behaviour during a dance routine to watch the dancer in the centre, they commanded all your attention automatically.
Yes, a little voice said, but that doesn't explain why you're rewinding it, nor why the sight of the Hummel kid doing his ass slap and hip shakes is making you just that little bit hot.
Hope you enjoyed. This is my first Glee fic, so if you liked, please do leave a review. This might end up quite long, or very short, I'm really not sure yet! xxxx