A/N: This the first fanfic I've posted, so be gentle! First of all, I respect the fact that Kurt is gay and I do not think that Kurt could or would ever be straight, and this is just for fun because I love Mercedes and Kurt and... yeah. Have fun.
Spoilers up to the end of season one, I guess. Review please!
Your first conversation with her is an argument. It doesn't come was a surprise to you when the argument gravitates towards fashion choices. You were there when Finn asked her to do costumes (he didn't ask you, but hey, you're not bitter. Well, not that bitter.) She thinks that you're trying to copy her. You're not. Pink and blue are common colors, you inform her. It was purely a coincidence that you chose the same shade whilst you were dressing yourselves that morning. Mr. Schuster walks in and interrupts you. He tells you you're doing Gold Digger, which is so not your style, but you play along because for the most part you've been doing songs from Grease and Guys and Dolls. But you seem to be breaking from that, too (I mean, Disco? Really, Mr. Schu?) because of Mr. Schuster's (hopefully temporary) loss of all common sense when it comes to show choir. Let's stress that again: show choir.
So you stand there like you usually do when you're not impressed with something.
And he says: "Mercedes, you got this?"
And then she opens her mouth to sing, and you swear your heart stops beating. And you realize as you're standing there, trying to pass off your Single Ladies hand movement as a respectable, stand alone dance, that you simply have to get to know this girl.
You've seen him before. Practically everyone has, even if for most it's looking down on him after you've tossed him in a dumpster over a weeks worth of trash. But you don't notice him because he gets picked on constantly (even if he is kind of like you in that way.) You notice him because of what he wears. Well, your lockers are right next to each other, so it's kind of hard not to notice him. You even kind of feel bad for him when Finn asks you to do costumes and doesn't even acknowledge that he's there. And, well, he's cute, and he's cynical, and you like it. You've glimpsed the photos of Kristen Chenoweth and Beyonce on the door of his locker. You know that he's not like all the other boys that drudge around the school with no self-respect, picking up girls, playing them, and then dumping them for the fun of it. Kurt Hummel is something different, and you plan on finding out what.
You like her name: Mercedes. You start wondering about why her parents gave her a name like that. But, you reason, 'Mercedes Jones' is better than 'Kurt Hummel' any day. You have the locker beside hers, and when you congregate there after second period and before third, you learn that Mercedes Jones is a total slob. Like, born-again, religiously slobbish. Her locker is a complete mess, and she spends forever digging through piles of crap to find what she's looking for. You notice that she's often late for her classes, so on the days when you're both headed to Biology, you wait for her and you walk to class together so she won't get in as much trouble. You don't really talk to her, and she doesn't say anything to you. You stare cagily at each other's outfits until you reach the classroom. After Glee is formulated, this doesn't change. It's something of a routine between you now, and you like it. You wouldn't call her a friend, exactly, but it feels good to be able to pretend that one day you might actually have one.
It's like some unwritten code between the two of you that you don't talk, you just silently scrutinize each other's fashion sense. The argument in Glee rehearsal was the first time you'd ever really spoken to him, and that didn't turn out so well. But you see him stare when you start to sing Gold Digger moments after. It's your first solo, and you knock it out of the park, if you do say so yourself. You half expect him to come up and say something afterwards, but he doesn't. You don't think much of it. You start wearing your hair differently, and changing up your wardrobe, so that maybe, just maybe, he'll come up to you and initiate a conversation that isn't about slamming your so called 'Technicolor Zebra Sweater.' Because the truth is, you're shy. And he seems nice. And you're just looking for a friend who understands what you're going through.
One day she comes up to her locker, just before lunch, while you're repairing the mess that your hair had turned into over the course of a very stressful calculus class (who needs to know that stuff anyway?) She leans on her locker looking miserable, and asks you: "Have you ever kissed anyone?"
You quickly reply: "Yes," even though it's not true, and she can probably see right through it, and you don't know why you're lying to this poor girl because, after all, she looks so defeated and dejected standing there and asking if you've ever been kissed, because judging by the look on her face, she probably hasn't.
So you modify your answer to: "If by someone, you mean the tender crook of my elbow."
You delicately replace your hairspray in your locker as she slumps against hers, frowning. You roll your eyes and turn to face her.
"Mercedes, we are in the Glee Club," you tell her, "Special Ed kids will get more play than us."
Plus, well, you're gay, and it just so happens that every single other boy in the stupid small town that you're forced to inhabit (because really, if you had it your way, you'd be living in a flat in Paris) is closed-mindedly straight.
You don't tell her that, but you assume she knows. After all, half of the football team seems to have caught on.
You lace your arm through hers and give her some half-minded spiel about how you're better than all of them, and not to worry about it. You, like you are aught to do, turn the topic to fashion. What to wear on the Operation Dakota Stanley field trip. Is there a dress code? Are you kidding me? You invite her to the mall, after school, and she seems pleased, her spirits lifted. You walk away feeling immensely pleased with yourself. There's this little spark in your chest, like maybe if you play your cards right, you might actually end up getting close to someone. Because right now you have no one. Your father is distant, your mother is dead, and the entire student body hates you.
And, you're pleasantly surprised, because talking with Mercedes? Seems as easy your unspoken vow of silence.
You're surrounded by couples making out, you're feeling down on yourself, and he's standing right there fixing his hair in the mirror on his locker door. You start talking, because you can't stand the stupid silence anymore, and he won't seem to talk to you unless you get the conversation going. So you do (you're actually surprised he knows your name, but sure enough…).
And, much to your delight, it ends with an invitation to the mall. Shopping. A boy just invited you to go shopping with him.
And in the middle of that crowded hallway, watching him walk down the corridor to his next class, you start to fall infinitely in love with Kurt Hummel.
It doesn't help that Quinn and Santana walk up on either side of you basically screaming encouragement in your ear. You're totally his type.
And all you can think is 'No… it's too good to be true.'
After school, you meet him in the parking lot and he drives you to the mall in this totally expensive looking car that smells brand new. You spend hours digging through displays and clothing racks. He picks out things for you, and you for him. It feels totally… natural.
Even though the whole time, your heart is fluttering and your hands are shaking and you can't stop smiling and you don't know why.
He ends up picking out an outfit for you.
He loves it.
You think it looks ridiculous.
But you don't care. You buy it anyway.
You also buy him a fedora… just a plain, grey plaid one; one that you've noticed he doesn't have.
He thanks you with a hug, and for the first time you notice how damn good he smells. His cologne is just a tad bit more sweet than spicy, and wow his skin is soft…
He drives you home, and your mother yells at you about how you missed dinner (doesn't matter… Kurt treated you to Thai food at the mall,) and how you nearly missed your curfew and you didn't even call her!
But you don't think about that stuff… because for once in your life it doesn't matter that you're invisible to pretty much everyone in the school except for the Glee kids, or that you spend your nights alone in your room listening to Aretha Franklin instead of going out.
It doesn't matter, because you're in love.
You discover that you like going shopping with somebody. When you were thirteen you tried taking your Dad, but got dragged into a hardware store against your will and will never attempt it again. Lately, when you've been shopping alone, you'll try to tell the sales clerk what you need, and then try to explain to them that no, sea blue is not the same as sky blue, and they still don't understand even when you have to drag our the color palettes from their own stores to show them, and then end up yelling at them because if only you could work in one of these stores, the company wouldn't know what'd hit 'em.
But Mercedes understands the crucial difference between different pigments of blue. You like that.
You invite her over for AMC's annual Liza Minnelli marathon, an occasion that you usually spend alone because your father will never understand the tragic beauty that is Cabaret and you find it mildly disturbing to be in the same room as a guy who's ogling women in fishnets instead of following the plot.
She's over at your house for three nights in a row. She doesn't sleep over, because you're not close enough for that, but you spend evening after evening sitting on your bed singing along to 'Willkommen' and 'The Pineapple Song.'
During these wonderful musical intervals, you notice something. Two things, really, that you and Mercedes agree on. One: that root beer floats should consist of 60% French Vanilla Ice Cream and 40% Barq's Root Beer mixed together until they make a disgusting looking brown slush where the root beer freezes because of the coldness of the ice cream and makes little tiny root beer icicles. You have three (each) while she's over. Not that you'd admit this to anyone.
Two: when you ask for pretzels and popcorn and chips mixed, they should actually be mixed, not just layered like some kind of wanna-be healthy parfait. Whoever heard of a junk food parfait anyway?
You have long, philosophical conversations about both points.
You like this, too.
You wish the nights you spend at Kurt's would never end. You can barely focus on the movies because you just keep waiting for him to reach out and touch you, to start kissing you, maybe right in the middle of the scene where Sally kisses Cliff for the first time because that would be both romantic and evocative. But he doesn't, even though you watch Cabaret three times, and by the end of three times you kind of want to shoot yourself a tiny little bit but you don't dare tell him that because you'd watch it thirty more times if it meant getting to spend more time with him.
He drives you to the Glee Club Car Wash in his Range Rover, and there's really nothing else to do there but wash cars, so you wash his. Then you wash it again. Then you wash it again. By the seventh time, you find that you're getting tired of washing. That, and waiting. You know he feels the same way about you as you do about him. You can see it in his eyes. You just want him to say something, or do something, or just man up and make a move already. But deep inside you know he won't.
So, you do. And what does he say?
He says he's in love with someone else.
It's like a slap to the face to you.
For the past five days the only person you've been spending time with is him, and as far as you know he doesn't have any other friends, so how could be in love with someone else when you're standing there right in front of him?
You wonder why he can't just love you.
And then you throw a wet sponge through his window.
Serves him right.
It serves you right. It really does. You think that if maybe you'd looked a little harder you would've seen how she really felt, and you would've been able to let her down gently instead of freaking out, laughing at her, and then saying you were in love with someone else. You also probably wouldn't have had to spend one month's clothing allowance on window repairs.
When you get home that night, you cry. You truly do feel bad about hurting her, as you so obviously did. But you also feel worthless. For the first time in your life, you thought you actually had a friend, or the beginnings of one, anyway. But, as it turns out, she just had a crush on you. She didn't actually like you as a person.
You face it; no one ever will.
So when she walks up you a couple of days after what you've now labeled as 'The Incident,' you see no harm in telling her the truth. It can't make her hate you more, after all.
First you tell her that you lied to her. There is no one else (you decided to leave your colossal crush on Finn out of this. No need to add insult to injury.) And then you tell her. It's as simple as two simple words, none of them exceeding three letters. I'm gay. You don't tell her how you figured it out, which happened to be a long story involving a game of tackle football between second grade boys on a sweltering hot day which warranted the removal of several pieces of unneeded clothing. You just say the words.
It doesn't strike you for a moment that she's the first person you've come out to, because it was so easy to tell her, and you always thought it'd be so difficult.
She says you could've just told her. And then there are the tears again, before you can stop them. You make a snide comment about your self-confidence and start off down the hall, but she follows you. She puts her arm around your shoulders like you'd never broken her heart in the first place and starts blabbering on about how 'you are the way you are and I crossed a line and I'm sorry and maybe we could still hang out, right?'
And you think it might be insensitive, but you say, "Are you still in love with me?"
And she lets out a funny little snort and says, "No."
You leave the school arm in arm, laughing.
That's how you learn that friendship, with Mercedes, is resilient. And you find that even knowing that, you never want to hurt her again. You wonder what this means. You decide that it means you care for her. You like caring for someone. It feels… nice.
You decide to leave it at that, because some things shouldn't be overanalyzed.
You really should have listened when Rachel and Tina tried to tell you that Kurt was gay. It's just that you had something with him, something that you didn't have with Rachel or Tina, and it seemed like they were trying to go against the one in thing in your life that was good. You realize after 'The Incident' that you probably would've seen it, if you'd looked beneath the surface a bit more.
You decide to be the bigger person. You go and apologize, because even in you may have ruined whatever you had with Kurt, those five days of friendship with him were more than you'd even had in your life. You have people you hang out with, like Rachel and Tina and Artie, but you never feel like you can really tell them anything about yourself. There are parts of you that you choose to keep hidden around them, because they're too private, or too deep, or too raw for them to see. You don't tell them about how you felt when your oldest brother left for college, or what it feels like on Sunday mornings when you sing in your church's gospel choir. You don't tell them who you really are, on the inside.
You don't tell Kurt either, but you have a feeling that one day, you might be able to, and that's enough.
It's a while before you invite her over again. You don't want to be rude, but you don't want to push things too fast. You hang out with her at school, you always sit together in Glee, and you IM while you're doing your homework, but throughout all of this you're careful.
You begin to see that underneath her unbreakable diva exterior, she's fragile. She's terrified of what other people will think of her. She has a hard a time as any of you coming out of her shell and projecting herself to the world. You don't know why you feel the way you do, but something inside of you wants to hold her, and be there for her, and whittle all of her insecurities away. You want to protect that shy, scared girl inside her and never let anything hurt her. Still, you realize that you have to go slow.
One day you're sitting together in the cafeteria, and she's having a horrible day, but she won't let the tears out. Instead, she leans in close and whispers in you ear, telling you that sometimes, she falls a little too fast, and she always ends up getting hurt because it's not smart to put all of your faith in one person. You don't know why she's telling you this, or what it has to do with why she's sad, but you smile at her and tell her that everything will be okay anyway. You don't hug her, or rub her back, because she's not ready for that yet.
You promise that she can put all the faith she wants in you, because you'll always be her friend, no matter what.
You don't say it out loud, but you promise.
You find yourself confiding in him. Not everything, of course, but a lot more than you'd ever expected to confide in one person. Usually it was just something in passing as you were walking down the hallway clutching matching Algebra textbooks. Your story comes out in fractured sentences that don't seem to be relevant to one and other, but in reality, when you piece them together, Kurt ends up learning a whole lot more about you than you'd thought anyone would ever know. You haven't been over to his house since your Liza Minnelli week, and it's not hard for you to guess why. It's obvious he still feels awkward about the whole 'being in love with him' thing. You figure once he gets over it and learns to trust you to control yourself, everything will be fine.
Your friendship continues on like this for a whole month. You don't complain; you enjoy being close to someone. You both have other friends, but you tend to gravitate towards each other whenever you have gossip to tell or a new fashion magazine to drool (erm… fawn in a ladylike manner) over.
And then one day, you're walking to Glee rehearsal and you see a sheet posted on the bulletin board that reads: CHEERIOS: OPEN TRYOUTS. WEDNESDAY, 12:15, GYM
You both instantaneously turn to each other and break out into mile-wide grins.
"You wanna…?" he cocks and eyebrow.
"Hell yeah!" You answer. You continue down the corridor a while before he stops. Naturally, you stop with him.
"Mercedes…" he says slowly, looking at you gravely.
"Well… if you, y'know, make it and I don't… will you promise me that you'll still be my… my best friend?"
Those two words… best friend; they're simple, but they touch your heart.
You chuckle a bit to keep any real emotion out of your answer. "Are you trippin', boy? You'd think I'd ever give up being your BFF over being a Cheerio?"
He shrugs bashfully. "Well…"
You lean in and hug him, gently, only for a second. "Don't worry about it, Kurt. Everything'll be fine, okay?"
You walk for a bit more before he comes out with, "So, do you wanna come over today and practice?"
Looking back on it all, you'll realize that this was something of a turning point in your friendship with Kurt. But right then, you're not thinking about that. You're just happy.
It doesn't exactly surprise you when neither of you make the Cheerios. Well, at least not after you hear all of the screaming Ms. Sylvester is doing at the other kids before you go in (No friggin' way, Jacob!) It doesn't bother you much. I mean, yes, you're the token gay kid at McKinley and of course you've always dreamt of being on the Cheerios, but you never really had high hopes for it. Mercedes is in a funk about it for a while but a few days later she catching Santana tossing her cookies in the girl's washroom from all of those disgusting energy drinks Ms. Sylvester force feeds them and decides that Cheerios is not worth bulimia (this is how you learn that Mercedes has only thrown up once in her life… when she tried calamari at a fancy restaurant for her brothers birthday, in front of a table of people and a few unlucky wait staff.) Either way, you both abandon that dream pretty quickly. Besides, Glee is preparing for Sectionals, and although neither of you have solos, Mercedes does have to wail on the last note of some of the songs, so you figure that it may be helpful for her to be there for that (side note: she tries to teach you how to 'wail.' You don't think you'll ever try it again. You don't have enough money in your clothing budget to be replacing all of your father's crystal wine glasses.)
Ever since you had her over to practice baton twirling and cheerleading for the tryouts, you're not really afraid to have her over anymore. You don't mind the way that, when she's in your room, she treats everything like it's her own. She had no problem messing with your perfectly made bed or (dis)organizing your bookshelf or putting all of your CDs in the wrong cases when she's finished listening to them (this just serves as a reminder that the girl is a total slob.) You actually kind of… like it. The reason your room was so clean (before you met her) is simply because you spent so much time in it with nothing else to do. Having everything a bit out of order is a little like knowing that there's someone out there who knows that you exist. Who knows exactly how much time you spend in your room, organizing. And the mess reminds you that you needn't be so lonely all of the time… call up Mercedes and she'll be there in ten minutes flat with a tub of chocolate ice cream to drip all over your white bedspread.
You meet Kurt's dad a few times while you're over. He seems like an okay guy… a bit distant, but really caring and devoted. He can never seem to remember your name (Kurt dolefully informs you that he calls you 'that car girl' whenever you aren't around) but that's fine because the only thing he ever really says to you anyway is a grumbled 'hello'. This upsets Kurt, and at first you don't understand why, but later you realize it's because Burt is the only family that Kurt's got, and you're his best friend, and he'd really like you to get to know each other. But the fact is, the only thing that interests him about you is your name, and the only thing you actually know about cars is that a Mercedes is a brand of car (and a pretty good one that at.)
Soon, you decide that Kurt should meet your family. You tell him this, and he instantly morphs into a twelve year old straight boy about to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time. He worries about it for days (why, you'll never know,) and asks you endless questions about both of your parents and wonders (maybe not quite as directly) if your father will be waiting by the door with a shotgun. You just laugh.
When the day comes, he spends all of Biology class passing you notes asking you what he should wear to dinner. You notice he spends ten times more time on his hair than usual. You pick him up from his house and drive him to yours, because, after all, he has been threatening to leave the country if you actually make him do this.
When you arrive, your mom and dad are sitting in the living room waiting. You practically have to drag him in. Your mom, who's heard so much about him already, is absolutely thrilled to meet him. In fact, even your dad is smiling.
"Kurt," your mom stands up, grasping his hand and shaking it, "it's so nice to finally meet you! Mercedes talks about you all the time! We're so glad you two are having fun…"
Your dad nods at him respectively from his seat.
There's an awkward silence, waiting for Kurt to respond with something. He looks shell-shocked, and I try mouthing the words 'nice to meet you' to him, with no prevail.
Finally, he speaks.
"I'm gay!" he bursts out, like he's Einstein having just discovered the properties of matter. His voice sounds like just inhaled a tank full of helium.
"I mean… I'm Kurt!"
It takes all you've got to hold the laughter inside, but somehow you manage to.
"Well Kurt," your mother says, "do you like lemon glazed salmon?"
"Yes…" he sighs, looking like he wants to fall into her arms out of relief.
And that was pretty much the last time Kurt is uncomfortable around your parents.
You're not nervous at all when Mercedes first proposes the idea of meeting her parents. However, when you get home and tell your dad the plans you've made, he starts spouting stories about his youth, in which he used to go over to his girlfriend's houses and get harshly interrogated by their fathers, hound disapproving glances from their mothers, and end the night either extremely embarrassed or with no girlfriend.
You explain to him that Mercedes isn't your girlfriend in that sense of the word, so it shouldn't matter, but then he comes back with 'but her parents don't know that,' and that's about when you start to freak out.
Turns out you do end up extremely embarrassed after your little show (hey, for all they know, 'I'm gay' might be like, a native greeting or whatever. Who are they to judge?) but you get over it.
What all of this really means for you is that you now get to spend an equal amount of time at Mercedes' house as she does at yours. Her parents soon get used to you being over at random hours of the day for random reasons. You tidy her incessantly messy room while you're over, and she lets you. You get into the routine of alternating: one day you'll spend the evening at your house, and the next at hers.
Pretty soon, you get so used to this that whole months pass without you noticing, and before you know it, it's your last week of sophomore year (you contemplate holding a notebook burning bonfire, but conclude that that much smoke wouldn't be good for your hair.) Rachel's off to spend most of her summer in New York (you hate her for this) with her aunt, Artie's going to band camp, and Tina is being dragged on a cruise with her parents. That leaves just you and your girl, which is perfectly okay with you.
Summers in Lima are long, hot, and lazy, and the first one you spend with Kurt is no exception. You practically move into his basement, staying there and sleeping over for weeks at a time (it has better air conditioning, and your parents don't mind because your younger brother's at soccer camp so if you're gone, they have the house to themselves.)
Some days are so hot that all you do is lie in the hammock in Kurt's backyard, sipping lemonade and reading (mocking) books from your summer reading list. You bombard the mall and pretty much take over the old record store on the corner, searching for songs you could convince Mr. Schuster to let you sing solo in Glee next year.
Despite the lack of nothing really concrete to do, you never find yourself bored once all summer.
And then all of a sudden there's a telltale chill in the wind, and you're getting mailed your Junior year schedules in the mail. Your mourning over the loss of your lethargic summer of Kurt is mixed with your excitement over being in the eleventh grade. This year is going to be different, you can feel it.
The first five weeks of school are pure hell. For once in your life, you can find yourself honestly saying that you aren't the main target of the football team's wrath.
You don't know what turned them, but they push her around and slushie her and make fun of her clothes. You would totally kick their sorry asses if you weren't sixty pounds lighter than all of them.
Her parents don't let her sleep over at your house on school nights, but she always stays as long as she possibly can before going home. Around ten every night, she calls your cell phone from her bed and you console her as she cries, losing a chunk of self-confidence with every vulgar comment thrown her way by those stupid gorillas. You want to do something to help her. You want to beat them up, tear their vocal chords out, and disfigure their faces (to begin with…)
You even try to distract them by being more flamboyant and target-worthy than usual, but they won't ease up on Mercedes no matter what you do.
Hearing her sobs through your phone every single night breaks your heart more than when you used to sob yourself for the exact same reason. Nobody deserves the kind of treatment she is getting, and especially not someone as beautiful as Mercedes is.
Mercedes; she clings to you like you're her one lifeline. You don't mind. You'll be her lifeline whenever she happens to need one. You run your wallet dry paying for phone bills, product of waiting on your cell until she falls asleep every night, making sure she's okay. You go to school together and you leave together. She spends as much time as was humanly possible with you.
At school, you develop a system for her.
You hold her hand. Like, all the time. In the halls. During lunch. During class (most of the teachers either don't notice or don't care.) So every time those bullies walk by, you're right there, latched on to her, and every time they yell something at her, you lean over and whisper in her ear 'Smile.'
Most of the time she wouldn't, but sometimes she would.
You liked the way that your hands fit together, like they were meant to (that, or maybe you've held her hand for so long that they just kind of changed shape to fit.)
When you're there, holding her hand, they don't slushie her as much, and they can't throw her in dumpsters unless they plan on throwing both of you.
You promised her no matter what, and you don't plan on breaking that promise.
Soon, holding hands becomes as natural as breathing between the two of you. The rest of your world is dark and rainy, but Kurt… he's the single ray of sunshine that breaks through the clouds. Your hands are joined as soon as he picks you up in the morning and rarely are apart until you go home at night. It's like he wants you to know that he's always there; he wants to prove it. You try to deflect the bullying; the name calling, the food throwing, the insults. You try to just let them slide off of you, but it's impossible. They stick. Kurt's the only one who understands. You're glad he is. You're hurt, yes, but at least you're never lonely, because you'll always have your world of two.
Junior year is the longest year of your lives. Thankfully, the majority of the boys who bullied Mercedes graduated that year. Mercedes wanted to go to the graduation and throw fruit at them, but you convince her that it wouldn't be a very ladylike thing to do.
She obliges, reluctantly.
That year, her parents take off to Australia for the summer, leaving her younger brother with a friend and her with you. The day after school lets out you pack your bags and drive straight up to her parent's beach house. It's a lot nicer up there than it is in Lima. It's hot, but pleasantly so. It isn't humid, it hardly ever rains, and there aren't many bugs. Plus there's a beach, which provided wonderful opportunities for tanning (not that either of you can tan anyway, but hey, a girl can dream!) You spend days by the waterside and nights huddled into each other by the campfire, hands tightly intertwined. You'd like to be dignified and say you slept in actual beds like civilized people, but the truth is that most nights you fell asleep outside by the dim light of the smoldering coals in the firepit, Mercedes pressed into your side, snoring. In the two months that you're up there with her, you get so used to the sound of how she sleeps that when you return back to Lima and your own bed, you're unable to sleep because of the unusual silence.
She goes for the weekend to visit her uncle in D.C., and you're surprised by how lonely you feel, going two days without seeing her. You think about how, way back in the tenth grade, you would just silently criticize each other. And then she fell in love you.
For a second, you kind of wonder if she still is.
And then you shake the thought off and decide to ask her, when she comes back, for a recording of her snoring so you would be able to get some sleep at night.
You remember the first time he tells you he loves you. The two of you are at your house for a change, sitting on your bed, and he's braiding your hair. You look up from fiddling with your nails to gaze at his face, which is a focused image of perfection, biting down on one lip and twirling strands of your hair around his fingers. His eyes flit up for a second and catch yours. He smiles at you a little and quietly says, "I love you."
Just says it. And it strikes you that it's really the first time it's ever been said between you two. Sure, it's always been there, but…
Now it was out there. Real.
"Love you, too."
You decide definitively that this is your year. You are going to get into Finn Hudson's pants. Or, rather, he was going to get into yours, because getting into someone's pants was not a very ladylike thing to do.
Of course, by this point Mercedes knows all about your crush on Finn. You tell her all the dirty little details, whether she wants to know them or not. She does, of course.
You come up with your strategy: flirt shamelessly.
Hell, it's your last year at McKinley. Might as well take a chance with him before you graduate. But he's straight, they say. Well, so was Ricky Martin.
You go at it full force for about a week, but when the whole thing ends in a huge screaming match between you and him, you end up crying to Mercedes' shoulder. She's there for you, just like you always were for her, while you scream about how much you hate stupid-asinine-homophobic-in-denial-Finn. Mercedes had had a few boyfriends over the years, but nothing serious (as soon as they start complaining about her spending too much time with you, she dumps them.)
You just wish you had someone to dump. You're in senior year and you've never had a boyfriend. You're a teenage horror story. To make things worse, Senior Prom is in three months, and you don't even have a remote chance of finding a date.
Mercedes has a date. Matt, from Glee asked her. She says they're suedo-dating, but he's not the love of her life or anything. But she does talk about him, you notice, a lot more than she's talked about other boys.
Like the wonderful friend that she is, she launches a mission to find you a boyfriend. After school she drags you out to scope the malls and parks for any cute boys that might be gay. Hell, even bisexual will do, she informs you. But she is insistent that you come to prom, and going stag, she says, is not ladylike.
You try this for a month until you go through the whole population of Lima with no luck and you convince her to give up, she should go and you'll just stay at home and be waiting for her expecting a full report when she comes back.
Reluctantly, she agrees.
You come home a week later to find a prom ticket on your bed and an explanation that she dumped Matt and decided to take her bestie instead.
When she leaves, you cry your heart out because you know deep inside that you don't deserve her, and probably never will.
Your prom outfits match, and for once in your life the coordination is a complete coincidence. You didn't even go shopping together. You just happened to be wearing a dress that was the same kind of purple as his cummerbund and corsage. He shows up on your doorstep with a gigantic bouquet of white roses. You give him the bouquet you bought for him: his favorite, pink tiger lilies. Your ecstatic mother takes about three trillion pictures as your little brother watches, bored, from the staircase.
For a small town prom, yours is good. It's a Hollywood theme, and they even have a red carpet which you and Kurt strut down together, imagining you're world famous actors being pestered for your autograph.
When things get kicked up and you see Matt slow dancing with Santana, it stings a little bit. A lot, actually. You really liked him, and it was a bit degrading to have him agree so easily to you ditching him to take your bff instead. In spite of all this, with Kurt, you have a magical time.
There are no words for how much it doesn't surprise you finding out that the punch at the McKinley High Senior Prom is spiked into oblivion. It's so not classy… you can't even taste the punch anymore, but Mercedes somehow convinces you that drinking at your prom is a normal teenaged experience, so you stand by the table where Mr. Schu is chaperoning (because it's the only place you're sure you won't get busted) and sip full cups of 'punch' while giggling conspiratorially. Following this you proceed to dance like maniacs until Mr. Schu comes up and convinces you that you should get home and get some sleep so as not to be tired (ahem… hung-over) for Glee rehearsal on Monday. You grudgingly agree with Mercedes' welfare in mind, and gently guide her into the parking lot and drive her to your house, where your parents agreed to let you spend the night partying while they got together for drinks downtown (a scoffable concept in Lima.)
You hold her hand in one of yours and drive with the other (you're not that drunk, after all… your girl got the brunt of it) something stemming from the habit you two started not so long ago. You pull into your driveway and take notice of the warm fuzziness in the air, which seems a depressing thing to write off as an effect of the alcohol. You help her out of the car and you both stumble up to the porch, giggling like fools again.
The midnight air is still muggily warm, so you linger on the porch with your arms wrapped around her in sort of a prolonged hug, which would've been awkward if it weren't with her. You whisper in her ear that she was the best prom date a guy could've hoped for. Then, you pull back for a moment to peck her sweetly on the cheek as you usually do, but in your drunken clumsiness and lack of coordination you miss and your gesture lands a little closer to her lips than her cheek. At that she gasps and pulls back a little, tightening her grip on her forearms and gazing into your eyes.
And she says to you, "Kiss me, Kurt."
Your heart freezes, just like it did when she first sang Gold Digger. And the words that come out of your mouth are the ones that you find you've been using as an excuse for everything lately.
"Mercedes, I'm gay."
This doesn't faze her; she just tugs a little at your suit sleeve and says it again.
You wake up the morning after prom with a pounding headache. When you open your eyes you recognize the scenery immediately as that of the room where your spent half of your adolescence. Kurt's room. The second thing you notice is that the boy himself is lying next to you with him arm around your shoulders stroking your hair, asking you if you need an Advil as you come out of your slumber. For the shortest of moments you let yourself imagine that the gesture is something more than it seems.
But an instant later Kurt's gone, off to his medicine cabinet you presume, even though you've requested nothing. You stretch out and wait for him to return.
When he does, with a glass of water and a capsule, he has a concerned look on his face. He hands you the two items as he tenderly asks, "Mercedes… can I tell you something… if you promise not to get mad?"
You nod and grin up at him. He knows you could never be angry with him.
"Uh… well… last night you were a little drunk and we were on the porch and you asked me to kiss you. And at first I didn't want to because I was afraid it would affect our friendship and that's not something I was willing to risk. But I thought about it, and after a while… I… I did it. Because you know you're my best friend in the whole world. And I love you. And even though I don't love you like that …" his voice betrays him by breaking here, "I couldn't think of a better person to give my first kiss to, because I know you'll never leave me."
He gives you a nervous smile and you feel your whole body flush with warmth. He leans down and hugs you and you squeeze him back like there's no tomorrow. While you're wrapped up in each other your mind is spinning itself in circles.
Kurt kissed you?
Chill out, Mercedes! He said he didn't want it to ruin your friendship… that means that you are his friend. Nothing more.
Then why did you fall in love with him back in sophomore year?
God, why is this all coming back now?
Oh, and then there's the fact that you can't remember a thing. KURT HUMMEL KISSED YOU AND YOU CAN'T REMEMBER A DAMNED THING!
You are surprised when Mercedes takes the news of your kiss in passing and keeps her cool.
And, to tell the truth, it kind of ticks you off.
Because… wow. That kiss. There were fireworks. There were doves flying. There was Barbra Streisand playing in the background. It was unimaginable. It was heavenly. It was everything you ever wanted.
Except you're gay. And Mercedes is not a boy. And she is your best friend.
And that's all you were ever meant to be. Friends.
You can't explain these feelings, and you've given up trying. You're willing to be around Mercedes and fight them off because you know that she's worth it, and that just her friendship would be enough. Besides, you wouldn't have the guts to tell her that you loved in more than just the familiar way that was known amongst you two.o That would be crossing a line that you are just not ready to cross.
Besides, you convince yourself, it will never happen. Ever.
You try your hardest not to let Kurt see how much you're freaking out and breaking down because of what he told you. You manage to hold it together satisfactorily until you get home where you can spend the day in bed and cry into your mama's shoulder. It's awful to be in love with a guy you can never have. It's even more awful when you're so close to him.
The cherry on top of this doomsday parade is that you both got accepted to ULA and decided to go together. Sure, this was a good thing in some ways; namely getting to spend another four years with your Kurt. But it was another four years that you would spend mooning over him as he fell in love with cute college boys and slipped out of your grasp forever.
You debate telling him how you feel but decide against it because losing him is unthinkable, and you remember what happened the last time you were in love with him. Life without Kurt wouldn't be worth living, so you vow to keep things the way they are. You'll get through it, somehow.
You and Mercedes fly though Senior year and graduation and SATs and all of those common trials and tribulations. You spend your last summer in Lima with each other and your families before packing up each other's rooms and loading your belongings into an ugly U-Haul truck (which you are very tempted to spray paint pink, but Mercedes reminds you that vandalism isn't ladylike.)
You still find it hard, yet so amazing, to be around her. And that's quite a feat when you spend most of your days together.
You both cry buckets the day you depart from your beloved little hometown, hugging parents and siblings and promising to visit as soon as possible. And with that, you begin your long journey to the land of fame and fortune.
You're both going to ULA to study fashion, and even made dream-like plans to start a line together if you ever got the chance.
And for once in your success driven life, you find yourself not really caring how well you do. As long as you have Mercedes by your side, you'll be fine.
For the first year you both dorm co-ed, and end up just down the hall from each other, which is no small miracle because you visit each other constantly, practically living in each other's dorm rooms and talking all hours of the night with annoys your respective roommates to no end. Life in LA with no parents is intoxicating, and now more than ever you wish you could just cut your losses and tell Kurt that you're in love with him. But you don't dare, because it would ruin things, and he's been flirting with that boy Jimmy from marketing class, and it would be inconvenient, and blah, blah, blah…
Now, you realize, why so many people settle for less in relationships.
Because true love is truly impossible.
The two of you decide to head back to Lima for your first summer off. Now that you've been in LA for a year, Mercedes is even more beautiful, with glowing skin and sun streaked hair. Yet she's deliberately fought off all advances from college boys (she refuses to elaborate on this) so she's single.
And. You. Can't. Take. It. Any. More.
To hell with being gay!
To hell with ruining friendship!
You've been friends for so long that you truly believe that nothing can break you.
And you think you're finally willing to take that chance.
Yes, you're terrified of what she'll do if you tell her.
But she fell in love with you once upon a time, so you were just evening the playing field.
Ugh. No one ever said love would be this hard.
You pack up the necessities in Kurt's car and head off to Lima. You play your old Wicked soundtrack in the car, just to get the nostalgia flowing. You're looking forward to stopping for gas in Lima and seeing Karofsky working the pumps, just so you can rub it in his face (like you'd ever really do that.) Kurt is uncharacteristically quiet for the first half of the drive, and you let him be. It's been a long year, and he's most likely exhausted.
Once you're off the main highway and cruising the lonely back roads of Ohio, he stirs a little bit. He turns down the volume on the CD player.
"I have to tell you something. It's important."
He keeps his eyes on the road, driving at a steady pace. He draws in a deep breath like he's about to become the bearer of bad news. You wonder what it is he has to say.
"If you're uncomfortable with this, you have to tell me, because I don't want this to come between us and affect our friendship because that's the total opposite of what I'm trying to…"
You smack him on the shoulder to shut him up. At least he's wearing a t-shirt, not Versace, so he doesn't mind so much.
"Just tell me!"
"Okay…" he says, but then drifts off again. He stays silent for almost a minute before saying it again. "Okay."
And then he blinks, hard.
"Mercedes, I'm in love with you."
He rushes through it, like he's afraid he'll get caught saying it.
Your heart leaps despite itself. Your mouth falls open. "But… I'm…. you're…. but… gay!"
He shifts his head a little and catches your eyes. "There's an exception to every rule," he says softly. "You're my exception, Mercedes."
Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod. This is a dream. This is not real life. It's a dream, it's a dream, it's a dream, it's a dream, it's a dream…
You look over and see him staring at you with a worried look on his face.
You hear yourself say, "Stop the car."
God, he looks so concerned, like you're gonna go off on him or something. Like you're going to reject him. How is this even happening?
You find the power of mind to beam at him. "So I can kiss you, you fool."
If you'd had known telling Mercedes the truth would be the best decision in your life, you would've done it a lot sooner. Now, you're finishing up your final year of university. You've just launched a line together; Hummel-Jones Fashions; which is even bringing in some unexpected income. You've got a place of your own, a small beach house where you can sit out by the water every evening like you did when you were seventeen, camping out for the summer.
Most of all, you're finally… just happy.
Everything is right.
Mercedes is your exception. She's your one and only. She's your everything.
It's her birthday today. You made reservations at a classy little seafood restaurant in town you know she loves, and you're meeting her there at six because it's one of the rare days when her classes run later than yours do. It's all of five minutes away, so you walk, your hand in your pocket constantly rolling the ring box that holds the engagement ring you picked for her back and forth between your fingers.
You're going to ask her tonight.
You know she's all you're ever going to need.
You just hope that you can be the same for her.
But, you think it's time for you to promise out loud.
Promise that she can put all of her faith in you.
Because you'll always be her friend.
No matter what.