Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.

Part One: Freshman Year

Kurt was determined, and when a Hummel is determined, everyone else really ought to look out.

High school was going to be miles better than middle school. He was sure of it. Middle school was for immature children, after all. High schoolers were closer to being adults. They would probably be too busy thinking of SAT prep courses and scholarship essays and college applications to bother with him.

The next four years, he would find friends. Real friends. People who would like him just because he was him, and they wouldn't care if he liked dressing a little nicer than all those other Lima losers and he liked playing the piano better than throwing a football and maybe, just maybe, they would be okay with that sneaking suspicion in the pit of his stomach that he would much rather kiss a boy than a girl.

He shouldered his messenger bag and marched across the parking lot after his father dropped him off and drove back to the garage. Other students milled around him, catching up with the friends they hadn't seen all summer and commiserating about the end of their sunshine and freedom. He walked past them all, glancing surreptitiously out of his peripheral vision for anyone that looked that they might be his age, and that they might be a decent candidate for a friend.

"Nice outfit."

Somebody grabbed him by the shirt collar and lurched him back. "I don't know what you're talking about," he sputtered. "Let me go."

The talking mountain in the letterman's jacket frowned. "I thought you were a girl," he said. "But either you don't have boobs, or you're actually a boy."

He backed up, his hands digging into the strap of his schoolbag. "I'm a boy," he said firmly, surveying the mountain's sidekicks- all of them large, scowling, and wearing matching red and white jackets. "If you don't mind, I have to go."

"He kind of talks like a girl," one of the other jocks snorted.

"But that doesn't mean he can't go through initiation," another one pointed out.

His heart thunked miserably in his chest as he tried to think what on earth they might be talking about. "Listen, the bell's going to ring soon," he said, trying to reason with them. "If you just let me go-"

"And then what?" the presumed leader said. "You know what, boys? I think this little runt'll be the perfect start to the school year. Get 'im."

He didn't have time to react. One of the jocks grabbed around the shoulders and another grabbed him by the ankles, swinging him off the ground before he could move. They carried him a few steps; he tried to kick but the giant's grip was too tight, almost like a vise.

"Ready on three, boys. One…two…three."

They swung him back and forth on the counts. His stomach twisted tightly. One moment he was caught in their grasp, the next they had chucked him over the side of the dumpster. He crashed into the scraped metal floor, his head landing on a pile of broken-down cardboard boxes and his chest smashing into a black trash bag.

The impact knocked the breath from his body. He lay there for a moment, gasping, trying to figure out what he was supposed to do next, when a head popped into view, seemingly high above him.

"Welcome to McKinley, little fag," the jock jeered. His friends laughed and exchanged high-fives until they disappeared from view and their voices faded away.

He sat up slowly, his eyes smarting. The last thing he wanted to do was start the ninth grade by crying, but he was scared and breathless and he was only fourteen. So he huddled against the wall of the dumpster, his breath coming in ragged gasps, and burst into tears, burying his face in his hands.

Surely someone saw that. There were enough people walking around, just a few yards away. He could hear them, their footsteps and their conversations and the car doors slamming as they headed into school. Somebody had to have seen him, and they would come over and help him out, or get a teacher, or something.

But after a while he sat up, smearing tears across his cheeks with the sleeve of the shirt he had been so proud of ten minutes ago, and he realized with a sinking heart that nobody was going to come and help him.

He stood up, his new shoes clanking on the shaky metal floor beneath him, and readjusted the strap of his bag across his chest. Even at his full height, he could barely see over the top of the dumpster. He tugged the pile of cardboard boxes towards the wall, balanced his hands on the dirty metal wall, and jumped, vaulting over the side.

But there was no way that he could land safely. He tumbled over ungracefully, smacking hard against the asphalt, his full weight pressing roughly on his palms and shins. Slowly he pulled himself up, his knees trembling, his legs aching from impact and his hands stinging with the dirty gravel embedded in the skin.

The bell for homeroom chimed faintly across the parking lot; a few last-minute stragglers bolted for the double doors. He brushed his hands off as best he could and limped towards the school building, his chin still held stubbornly high.

High school was going to suck.

Part Two: Preggers

His heart wouldn't stop pounding as he opened up his locker and pulled out his street clothes. He had never imagined that sports could be so…so exciting. It was exhilarating. Granted, the costume was a bit obnoxious and he was sweating much more than was typically acceptable, but at this point he didn't even care.

I think I might be able to pull this off, he thought as he tugged off his damp football jersey. I can play it straight. Kurt Hummel, straight football jock.

He didn't have to maintain it for long, he didn't think.. Just throughout high school. High school kids were jerks. It definitely wasn't the place to come out of the closet.

He could wait, just bide his time until he was out of this stupid town and in college in New York, singing his heart out on a full scholarship to NYU, or even Julliard. Maybe he could even find a boyfriend there. Of course, it would miles easier to explain the whole gay thing if he could bring home a guy who felt the same way.

Maybe his dad would be okay with him being gay if he wasn't alone. And maybe…if his dad didn't love him anymore after coming out of the closet, somebody would still love him.

He shook his head and threw his jersey into his bag. This was supposed to a good moment. He ought to feel good about himself. He was finally doing something sports related, he had won the game for the team, and his father had something to be proud of.

"What're you doing, fag? Showing yourself off?"

He glanced up, suddenly self-conscious. Karofsky scowled down at him, still in his jersey. "I'm not trying to do anything," he said, hating himself for the way his voice quieted.

He was acutely of aware of how he looked- his hair damp and mussed, his slender chest bared, his football pants clinging to his legs. It was awkward. He grabbed his undershirt and pulled it over his head. The well-worn fabric felt soft and it smelled like laundry detergent, and for a second he felt better.

"You should be in the girls' locker room," Karofsky said. "You shouldn't be allowed in here with all of us normal guys."

"I am normal," he whispered.

Karofsky slammed his fist into the locker above his head. "Playing one football game doesn't make you normal," he said. "This doesn't mean anything, fag. You're still a freak."

"I'm not a freak, and don't worry, nothing in this locker room is turning me on," he said, a little more snotty than he had intended. "You're not my type."

Karofsky planted his immense hand in the middle of Kurt's chest and shoved him back against the lockers. He held his breath, trying to keep his facial expression as impassive as possible.

If I don't react, he'll leave me alone…if I don't react, he'll leave me alone, he thought.

Karofsky got into his face, his breath hot on Kurt's neck. He smelled awful, like sweat and dirt and grass stains. "If I ever catch you looking at me, I swear I'll kill you," he said.

He met the jock's gaze evenly, restraining every primal urge to pull away and run. Karofsky clamped the front of his shirt, his fingers digging until he was gripping skin. At long last he let go, dropping him against the lockers with a resounding rattle. The ventilation slats ground into the back of his head.

"Watch your back, fag," Karofsky muttered as he lumbered away.

He sagged against the lockers, wondering if he was ever going to be able to breathe properly again. His fingers scrabbled at the undershirt and he yanked it over his head, not caring if it made his hair even worse. He jammed into the corner of his bag and pulled out his long-sleeved thermal tee shirt. It was crappy looking and he never wore it in public, but right now he didn't like wearing the new designer sweater he'd purchased to celebrate his first football game. All he wanted was something that wouldn't get him noticed. He stripped off those stupid spandex pants and pulled on his jeans, changing faster than he ever had before.

"Hey, Kurt, I heard your dad's looking for you," Finn said, leaning around the lockers. Kurt jumped. Finn was half dressed, shirtless and sweaty and grinning like a fool, and for a split second Kurt wished selfishly that they could have switched places. "Good job, by the way. You were really awesome tonight."

"Thanks," he whispered. "You too."

Finn clapped his hand on his narrow shoulder, like he would with any other guy friend, and then frowned. He cocked his head to the side like a confused puppy. "Are you okay?" he asked. "You're shaking."

"I'm fine," he lied. "Just…leftover adrenaline, I guess."

Finn smiled warmly. "It's kind of a rush, isn't it?" he said. "Yeah, just wait till our next game. I bet-"

"I don't think I'll be here for the next game," he said.

"But you did such a good job," Finn protested. "We haven't had a decent kicker since the nineties. We can't win without you."

For a moment he surveyed the options- one hand, passing for straight and his dad coming to his football games and everyone treating him like any other guy. And on the other hand…

"I just don't think I'm a good fit for the team," he said, forcing himself to flash his usual smile.

Finn still held his hand on his shoulder. If he hadn't been so distracted, he would be ecstatic. "Maybe you could think about it a little before you quit," he suggested. "You're really good. And this is kinda the only game we've won in forever, and it would be awesome if we could, y'know…keep winning."

Kurt shrugged. "Maybe I'll think about it," he lied. Finn grinned and squeezed his shoulder one more time before wandering back to his locker, and as soon as he had the opportunity, Kurt grabbed his stuff and left the locker room before anyone else could catch him.

Part Three: Laryngitis

He wasn't sure about much in this whole playing-it-straight thing, but he did know that it was weird. And sometimes, it was almost good.

He hadn't used moisturizer or toner in three days. His hair was flopping over his forehead, without swooping his bangs back with gel or hairspray. The back of his baseball cap dug into the back of his head, only one of his Converse sneakers were laced, and his baggy jeans were definitely sliding down his hips.

And nobody noticed him.

Nobody gawked at his crazy outfits. Nobody cracked jokes. Nobody shoved him into lockers, because he didn't stand out. Not anymore.

He missed his nice clothes, but maybe it would be worth it to save them for special occasions. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he wore jeans and a tee shirt some days. They wouldn't be from the blue-light special shelves at K-Mart- plenty of designers did nice basics- but maybe life would be smoother if he just toned down the wattage a little.

He walked down the hall, doing his best to keep his pace at a slow saunter instead of his usual brisk, bouncy stride. It was difficult, and sometimes he found himself lapsing into it, but if he remembered how Finn walked (and he did) it was easier to manage.

"Hey, gay kid, you batting for the right team now?"

He paused, clutching the strap of the backpack that he'd dug out from the back of his closet. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said, pitching his voice an octave lower.

Azimio looked him up and down. "You can dress up like a straight dude all you want, but you're always gonna be a fag," he smirked

He didn't see the slushie until it was too late. It smacked into his face, rough and cold, leaving him spluttering and choking. Azimio laughed and tossed the empty plastic cup in his face, bouncing it off the bridge of his nose.

"See you later, fag," he said.

Kurt pulled the hem of his tee shirt up, blotting at the corn syrup seeping into his eyes. It stung like fire. He rubbed the crushed ice out of his eyes and out of his nose, gasping. It had to have been cherry-flavored; it tasted like overly sweet cough syrup, warm and sour.

He stumbled towards the nearest bathroom, his vision red and blurry. Without bothering to check the gender he pushed open the door and fell over the sink, blasting the water on cold. He splashed it over his face and scrubbed mercilessly.

His whole body felt sticky as the slushie dripped languidly down the inside of his shirt and oozed over his hair and ears and the back of his neck. He tore his baseball cap off his head and flung it on the tile floor, then stuck his whole head under the sink. It didn't matter, anyway. Not anymore.

The cold tap water flooded over his head. He stayed in it as long as he dared, until water was running up his nose and rushing into his mouth, rinsing out the awful taste even while it choked him. He switched it off and stood up, spluttering as he flung his head back, water flying off his dripping hair. The whole front of his shirt was soaked and it was starting to run down his back in cold rivulets, but so what?

The door swung open and he jumped back, realizing belatedly that he was probably in the girls' bathroom. This was confirmed when, of all the girls in McKinley, Rachel Berry sashayed in. "Hi, Kurt," she said. "You got slushied?"

"Yeah," he whispered.

She frowned. "Ooh. Cherry. That one's the worst," she said. She waltzed up to the sink next to him and pulled a makeup kit out of her backpack. "As much as I love glee club, I really can't stand the teasing."

"Yeah," he repeated. "Yeah, this is just because of glee."

She expertly applied another layer of lip gloss, then patted him on the shoulder. "At least you're not wearing any of your nice things," she said. "I'll see you in rehearsal, okay?"

"Okay," he rasped.

She left the bathroom, humming lightly under her breath. He looked up at the mirror, at his haggard reflection. His face was doing that awful blotchy thing, although he couldn't tell if it was from emotion or red-dyed slushie. But his eyes were still stinging, and he knew it wasn't from the liquid sugar.

Part Four: Theatricality

He closed his locker door, wobbling in his Gaga heels. There had always been good reasons he'd avoided cross-dressing, and part of that was because his feet did not take kindly to being stuffed into high-heeled shoes. But it only for another hour or so. Then he could change back into his usual, comfortable flat dress loafers and save his vertical foot torture for the next time he had to dress up in a Gaga inspired outfit- and let's face it, that rarely happened, even with him.

"Nice dress, lady face," he heard a voice snicker behind him. "Trying to show off your legs or something?"

He stifled the urge to flinch. "Well, Karofsky and Azimio," he said coolly. "Come to drop a couple more useless threats? Maybe punch a locker for emphasis?"

"Are you getting sassy with us, Hummel?" Azimio said. "I don't think I take kindly to sass. Especially not from little girls."

He shifted his weight uncomfortably. His shoes sucked, but at least he was finally almost the same height as his tormenters. "Well, you keep threatening to hit me, and you never do it," he said boldly.

In one step, Karofsky closed the distance between them and rammed his fist hard into Kurt's stomach. He doubled over, his knees buckling. "Still think we're just fooling around?" the hockey player said through his teeth.

"C'mon, man, not out here," Azimio said. He grabbed Kurt by the arm; Karofsky grabbed the other. "Too many teachers around."

They dragged him down the hallway; he tripped over his shoes and his ankle twisted sharply. His bravado had vanished rapidly. Now he was just scared.

It was one thing to endure insults and threats. It was something completely different when those idle threats turned into big, iron-tight hands on his arms. His stomach still throbbed, and he hadn't quite regained the breath that had been knocked out of him.

If he hadn't been in quite so much denial, he would realize that he was terrified. But he was tougher than that, wasn't he? They were just going to knock him around, rough him up a little, maybe tear his costume and give him a bloody nose.

But the grip tightened, and despite himself, a tear trailed down his cheek.

They dragged him into a vacant hall and tossed him against a window. He was trapped in a dead end, staring his tormentors right in the eyes, his chest heaving. "Fine, you want to hit me?" he demanded, his voice rising with a bravery he didn't feel. "You want to beat me up? Go ahead." He still fought to keep his breath even, but he couldn't help it anymore, and frankly, he didn't care. "But I swear to you I will never change. I'm proud to be different. It's the best thing about me. So go ahead. Hit me."

He half-hoped they would give up. But Azimio just tilted his neck to the side, cracking it slightly. "I believe I will," he said. He smacked Karofsky lightly. "Sir, would you like to go first." "You're not hitting anyone."

He looked behind them as they turned, revealing Finn decked out in what looked like a psychotic Carmen Sandiego costume, only minus the hat and with more facial glitter. Despite his outlandish getup, he regarded the bullies coolly, hands on his hips like some kind of superhero.

"Oh, my god," he breathed.

"Is he wearing a red rubber dress, or am I trippin'?" Azimio said skeptically.

"I want to thank you, Kurt," Finn said, ignoring him. "I realize…I still have a lot to learn. But the reason I'm here now…in a shower curtain…is because of you." He took a couple of steps forward, somehow managing to look menacing despite his floor-length dress. "And I'm not going to let anyone lay a hand on you."

Kurt gripped the window ledge and regained most of his balance. It was like someone had turned the world right-side-up again, and his breathing started to get back to normal. Finn might be thoughtless sometimes, and he wasn't ever going to pay him the kind of attention that he craved so desperately, but at least he was there.

No one else had done that much so far.

"Really, dude?" Karofsky scoffed. "'Cause I'm pretty sure we could take the two of you."

"Yeah, but can you take all of us?"

Kurt couldn't see much beyond the red wall of Finn, but he recognized Puck's voice when he heard it. It looked like the rest of the glee club was there, crowding the hallways. He sagged in relief. They had noticed. Finally. His lips started to turn up into what could only be described as a happy smirk.

"Okay," Azimio said. "Okay, I get it. I took biology. Y'know what, Karofsky, we done disturbed the freak hive. The worker freaks're trying protect the queen freak."

"Next time," Karofsky said, "we'll bring some friends too."

They stalked off, and he leaned on the window ledge. He stared at the rest of glee club, almost shyly, and they looked back. Rachel broke the silence by taking off her glasses. "I wish everyone would stop treating us like freaks," she said unhappily.

"Well, look at us," Mercedes said, laughing. "We are freaks."

He let go of the window ledge and wobbled forward, sidling closer to Finn. "Yeah, but we're freaks together," Finn said.

Despite how relieved he was, his heart was still beating faster than he cared to admit. Mr. Schue strolled up and said something, making everyone else laugh, but between the incident he'd just narrowly escaped and the nearness of Finn- big, stupid, lovable Finn- he couldn't think straight.

The others headed down the hall back towards the rehearsal room, laughing and joking. He trailed along behind them, beside Finn. Part of him wanted to latch onto him, but that was only the emotional part. The logical part was working frantically to remind him of everything that had happened in the past week, whether he liked it or not.

He settled for reaching over and pinching the red rubber wing on Finn's shoulder. Finn glanced over, grinning, and did the same.

But even though he wanted Finn to pay attention, it startled him. He drew back sharply, and Finn just shrugged.

The others kept up their conversations. No one asked him if he was all right. And Finn caught up to Rachel, listening to her talk a mile a minute.

Kurt trailed behind, slower and slower. Apparently the moment was over, and it was back to business as usual.

5: Brittany/Britney

Maybe he shouldn't have worn the kilt to school.

It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. He'd spotted a picture of Gerard Butler wearing one almost exactly like it, and come on, the man was practically sex on legs. And it hadn't been too hard to track one down online, although that was one package he definitely wanted to receive before his father got to the mail.

But what had seemed to be super hot in a magazine, and amazingly cool when he tried it on his bedroom, suddenly just seemed like a critical error when he got out of his car in the parking lot that morning. And it wasn't just because he realized that his knees were terribly cold, either.

It was one thing to wear tight jeans, or lucite bow ties, or form-fitting sweaters. Those were pushing the limits of fashion for McKinley on their own. Now he just had to show up in a kilt.

He had spent all morning bracing himself for the first comment, but it still struck him hard.

"Hey, fag! Nice skirt!"

He forced himself to keep walking with his chin held high. There was no need to sink to their level with a response.

The heckler followed him, a tall, lanky senior that he was fairly certain was the captain of the basketball team. "Hey, where're you going?" he asked.

"Class," he said shortly. "Late bell's about to ring."

The guy grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into a stairwell. "Don't freak out," he said, grinning. There was something uneasy about the way he looked down at him. "Where'd you get that skirt? The girl's section at American Eagle?"

"It's not a skirt, it's a kilt," he snapped. "It's fashion. Not that you would know anything about it."

The guy shrugged. "I don't know much about fashion," he said. "But you do realize you're sort of jailbait in that thing."

His blood ran cold. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean," he said sharply, disentangling himself.

The basketball player snorted. "Oh, come on," he said. "Parading around in your girl pants is bad enough. A fag in a dress is just asking for it."

A well-placed retort was about to escape from his mouth when the hand suddenly reached up past the hem and gripped his thigh. He let out a stifled shriek that was drowned out by the late bell ringing and he jerked away.

"What are you doing?" he demanded.

The guy shrugged. "You dress like a chick, you get treated like a chick," he said.

"And girls like getting felt up in hallways?" he said, his voice rising.

"Girls who show off like that do," the guy said. "Like I said, Hummel…you're just asking for it." The late bell rang; he swore under his breath and ran off.

He leaned against the stairwell and watched him leave, a million arguments fighting the million things wrong with his statement dying on his tongue. His stomach twisted sharply, but he knew with a sinking heart that there was nothing he could do about it, really.

He trooped off to class, tugging the hem of his kilt further down his legs. There was probably a pair of jeans in his locker, but there wasn't time to change. But at this point he would have preferred to wear his gym clothes, just so that he could have his legs covered.

The other glee members were just settling down as he stomped in. Mercedes frowned as he sat down heavily beside her. "What's wrong?" she whispered, putting her hand on his knee. "You look like hell."

"Gee, thanks," he snapped, pulling away. She scowled, the hurt radiating from her eyes, and he relented. "Sorry. Bad day."

He slumped in his seat, arms folded across his chest, as Mr. Schue tacked up a picture of some douchebag with a guitar and kept babbling about crap that no one cared about. Finn looked like he was falling asleep. But luckily, Brittany raised her hand and Mr. Schue called on her.

"I would just like to say that from now on, I demand to have every solo in glee club," she announced. Rachel choked.

"What?" Mr. Schue said blankly.

"When I had my teeth cleaned, I had the most amazing Britney Spears fantasy," she explained. "I sang and danced better than her. Now I realize what a powerful woman I truly am."

"I went with her, and I had a Britney fantasy too," Santana added. She paused. "Although now that I think about it, I don't really know how our fantasies combined. It doesn't really make sense."

"See, Mr. Schue, I told you," Kurt blurted out before he could stop himself. He was already angry; it didn't matter if he just redirected it somewhere else. "Britney Spears busted our Britt out of her everyday, fragmented haze of confusion and gave her the confidence to step up and perform."

"I'm more talented than all of you," Brittany said. "I see that clearly now. It's Brittany." She stopped for a moment, as if she was debating whether or not to actually swear. "…bitch."

"Guys," Mr. Schue cut in. "We're not doing Britney Spears, and that's that."

Kurt sat up straighter. "Mr. Schue, you are letting your own personal issues get in the way of something we are all telling you we really want to do," he said. Mr. Schue rolled his eyes; it only made things worse. "I mean, this club regularly pays tribute to pop culture, and Britney Spears is pop culture. To suggest otherwise is-"

"Kurt!" Mr. Schue snapped. "I'm done talking about this."

And that was the last straw.

"Geez, let loose a little, would you?" he sneered. "Stop being so frickin' uptight all the time!"

He realized the second the words left his mouth that he had done the wrong thing. The others fell into stunned silence, and Mr. Schue just stared at him. He leaned back against his chair, his chest heaving.

"Kurt," Mr. Schue said quietly. The quiet was worse than the raised voice. Rachel opened her mouth in a silent laugh, and that hurt. "I'll see you in the principal's office."

"Uh-oh," Santana singsong quietly. He picked up his messenger bag, holding his head high, and marched down the riser steps, his kilt swishing around his thighs.

He had never been sent to the principal's office before. Never. Getting sent to the office was reserved for delinquents like Puck and Azimio and Karofsky. Not him. At least, not until now.

He marched down the hall, frozen in pride, and let himself into the front room. Figgins glanced up from his desk when he entered and frowned, like he couldn't believe that Kurt Hummel was actually in his office. He looked away, resting his chin on the palm of his hand.

Mr. Schue got there a few minutes later, still stony-faced. "Wait here, Kurt," he said sharply before knocking on Figgins' door and going inside.

He nearly snorted. Like he would actually go anywhere.

He watched Schue and Figgins talk for a little while, unable to overhear the conversation. Part of him wanted to…the other part didn't. It was bad enough to get sent to the principal's office without knowing for sure that the one teacher who had ever paid attention to him thought he was a loser.

Mr. Schue opened the door. "Come on in, Kurt," he said. He got up, tugging his kilt down, and took the seat that Mr. Schue indicated.

"Mr. Hummel, Mr. Schuester has just informed me that you had an outburst in the middle of his class," Principal Figgins said.

"Yes, sir," he said quietly.

"I don't tolerate bad attitudes like that in my school, Mr. Hummel," Principal Figgins said. "Your teachers deserve your respect." "Yes, sir," he repeated.

Obviously, this wasn't going to be an opportunity to share his side of the story.

"You have a clean record, Kurt," Principal Figgins said. "None of your teachers have ever reported a problem, and Mr. Schuester says that ordinarily you're an ideal student."

He glanced at Mr. Schue out of the corner of his eye, but he was just watching Principal Figgins, impassive.

"Consider this a warning," Figgins said. "We won't call your parents and you won't be put into detention, but one more incident like this and you will."

"Thank you," he said quietly. "Can I go now?"

Figgins nodded and he got up quickly. Mr. Schue followed him into the front room and put his hand on his arm before he could run out into the hallway. "You've been really upset this past week, Kurt," he said. "Is the Britney thing really bothering you that much?"

He paused and thought for a moment, wondering what it would be like, trying to conjure the perfect expression of disgust, shock, and awkwardness that would flash across his teacher's face if he told the truth.

Oh, nothing, I'm just routinely picked on, and it's getting worse, and twenty minutes ago some jerk tried to feel me up, just because he thought I was asking for it.

"Yes," he lied. "I'm really frustrated about the Britney Spears thing."

Mr. Schue frowned. "It's not really a big enough deal to get this upset over it," he said.

"I know," he whispered, and he walked away in the direction of his locker, hoping that he really did have a spare pair of jeans in there.

The One Time: Never Been Kissed

Blaine knew he wasn't really a new kid.

New kids had red folders with the Dalton logo stamped on it in navy. New kids were assigned guides from the senior class to show them around. New kids were given strict instructions to purchase their new uniforms on the day they received their acceptance letters.

So when the slender boy with the big blue-green eyes approached him, saying shyly that he was new there, he knew right off the bat that he was lying. But there was something about him, something that he couldn't quite put his finger on, so he just smiled and held out his hand. "My name's Blaine," he said.

The fake new kid blinked and took his hand gingerly. "Kurt," he said, offering him a quick but firm handshake. "So…what exactly is going on?" "The Warblers," he grinned. "Every now and then they tend to throw an impromptu performance in the senior commons. Kind of shuts the school down for a while."

Kurt glanced around at all the guys headed down the main hall. "So…wait, the glee club here is kind of cool?" he said skeptically, as if he couldn't even fathom it.

"The Warblers are kind of like rockstars," he said. Kurt raised an eyebrow. He grinned again and grabbed Kurt's hand. "Come on. I know a shortcut"

Kurt's mouth dropped open slightly, but he closed it and ran alongside him down the back hall. He stared at his lavish surroundings as they cut through the foyer, and Blaine didn't stop grinning.

Ninety percent chance he's gay, he thought privately. Straight boys didn't gel their bangs to keep them out of their eyes, and they didn't wear plaid knickerbockers in public, and they definitely didn't hold hands and run through halls with other dudes. And as Kurt clutched his hand, his long, slim fingers closing tightly over his, that percentage started to creep up.

The senior commons was already pretty full, and they had to dodge a couple of the bigger guys moving furniture out of the way. "Ooh," Kurt said in a half-whisper, glancing around. "I stick out like a sore thumb."

"Next time, don't forget your jacket, new kid," he teased. He reached over and flipped his lapel playfully. "Otherwise, you'll fit right in." He patted him lightly on the shoulder; Kurt halted for a second, then smiled.

The others were already starting the opening of their first song. He glanced over his shoulder, then back at Kurt. "Now, if you'll excuse me…" he said. He walked over to his spot in the middle and launched into his solo.

Kurt stayed where he left him, clutching the strap of his leather messenger bag, the only person in the entire room not dancing or fist pumping or humming along. His expression didn't even change. That was fine, though. It was just a challenge. He just pumped up his performance, doing his best to see if he could coax some kind of reaction out of him.

Kurt slowly started to smile, still shy at first. He glanced around himself self-consciously, as if he was afraid to look like he was excited. Blaine made a point of looking right at him when was singing, locking his eyes onto his.

That shy smile started to warm up gradually, until it wasn't just an awkward self-defense mechanism, but a real smile. His eyes squinched up at the corners and he beamed, even laughing a little and sort of bending his knees in time with the music.

He was almost disappointed that he had to stop singing, but he grinned at Kurt as he applauded, eyes huge and locked on him while he clapped furiously.

He wanted to ask him what he thought, if he liked the performance, but they had to launch into the next number in the set, and his choreography meant he had to be in the background, and…well, two songs and an encore later, and the blue-eyed boy was gone.

It was disappointing. Sure, he knew the kid wasn't really a student there, but he had sort of hoped to talk to him a little more, maybe find out what his last name was so they could be friends on Facebook. Or at least ask him why he was spying at Dalton.

He got his answers the next day when Wes caught him in the parking lot as he was pulling in. "What's up?" he asked as he turned off the engine and grabbed his school bag.

"You know that kid who was here yesterday, the one out of uniform?" Wes said.

"What about him?" Blaine asked, shrugging the bag over his shoulder.

Wes handed him a photograph on computer paper. "He's Kurt Hummel," he said. "He's from the McKinley High glee club. You know, the ones we're singing against for sectionals?"

Blaine studied the photograph. It was a group shot of a dozen mismatched teenagers, the girls in gold dresses and the guys in all black with gold ties. Even in the low-resolution picture he could pick out Kurt. He was the shortest of the boys, posed with his hands on his hips. "I knew he wasn't really a new kid," he said. "But come on, there are worse things than one kid coming in and listening to us sing a little."

"Yeah," Wes said. "Like him coming back."

He glanced up and frowned. "Seriously?" he said.

"David and I saw him when he pulled in," Wes said. "We managed to get ahold of him before he got inside. I figured we ought to talk to him."

Blaine looked across the parking lot. David stood next to an unfamiliar black Lincoln Navigator, arms folded and looking much more formidable than he actually was. Kurt stood next to him, hunched against the side of his car like he was terrified.

"We probably should talk to him," Blaine said, shouldering his bag and walking across the parking lot towards him, Wes at his side. "Hey, Kurt."

His head shot up, his eyes wide in his pale face. "Blaine," he said, stricken. "Hi."

"Let's go inside to talk about this," he suggested. "It's too cold to do it out here."

Kurt walked with them, trapped between Blaine and Wes with David trailing behind. He could practically see Kurt's heart beating out of his chest. The poor kid was terrified.

They walked into the student lounge in silence. A couple of other early-morning students wandered around, sipping coffee and chatting. Blaine nodded towards an empty table; David escorted Kurt towards it.

"What are we going to do?" Wes asked as they got in line for coffee. "Should we tell a teacher?"

"I don't think that's a good idea," Blaine said. He glanced over his shoulder. "He's more scared than belligerent. I mean, if he was getting in our faces and smack-talking or something, that would be one thing, but…I wonder if there's something else than his glee club that he came here for."

"He definitely isn't a good spy," Wes agreed.

They picked up their coffees and took them back to the table. Wes handed one to David before sitting down. Blaine sat down and slid a cup towards Kurt. "Latte?" he offered. Kurt mouthed a thank you and gripped the cup. "This is Wes, and David."

"It's very civilized of you to offer me coffee before you beat me up for spying," he said softly.

"We are not going to beat you up," David assured him.

"You were such a terrible spy we thought it was sort of…endearing," Wes said.

"Which made me think that spying wasn't really the only reason you came," Blaine added. He looked up at Kurt from under his lashes, quirking an eyebrow.

Kurt stared at him for a second, like he couldn't believe they had seen through his ruse so easily, and bit his lip. "Can I ask you guys a question?" he asked, almost shyly. They nodded. "Are…are you guys all gay?"

They laughed. Kurt looked down at the table, a hurt, embarrassed expression flashing across his face. "No, no," Blaine said. "I mean, I am, but these guys have girlfriends."

His hurt expression faded slightly, and he took a sip of coffee to avoid looking at them. "This is not a gay school," Wes said gently. "We just have a zero tolerance harassment policy."

"Everyone gets treated the same, no matter what they are," David said. He shrugged. "It's pretty simple."

Kurt didn't say anything, but his pale face suddenly blotched pink and his eyes looked glassy. His lips parted like he was about to speak, but he couldn't say anything. In fact, it looked like he was going to cry.

Blaine looked at him carefully. It was almost heartbreaking to see how just the simple phrase "zero tolerance harassment policy" could bring him to tears. "Would you guys excuse us?" he said.

David glanced from Blaine to Kurt and stood up, picking up his coffee. "Take it easy, Kurt," he said. He didn't look up as the others left. He just stared in the distance, his shoulders heaving and his fingers gripping the sides of his coffee cup as he bit down hard on the inside of his cheek.

"I take it you're having trouble in school," he said gently.

"I'm the only person out of the closet at my school," Kurt said, pressing his lips together in what he supposed was meant to be a rueful smile. A single tear slid down his cheek and dripped off his chin. "And I…I try to stay strong about it, but there's this Neanderthal that's made it his mission to make my life a living hell. And nobody seems to notice." His chin trembled, but he managed to keep his tears in check.

Blaine stifled the urge to reach across the table and take Kurt's hand. He was already vulnerable and upset. There was no need to add mixed signals on top of that, even if made his chest tighten to see the look on Kurt's face.

"I know how you feel," he said instead as Kurt blinked back tears. "I got taunted at my old school and it really…pissed me off. I even complained to the faculty, and they were sympathetic and all, but you could just tell that nobody really cared. It was just like…'hey, if you're gay, then your life's just going to be totally miserable. Sorry. Nothing we can do about it'"

Kurt glanced away. "So I left. I came here. Simple as that," he continued. "So you have two options. I mean, I could tell you to just come enroll here, but tuition at Dalton's sort of steep, and I know that's not an option for everybody."

Kurt was still looking at him with that awful kicked-puppy look, biting his lip. "Or," he said. "You can refuse to be the victim. Prejudice is just ignorance, Kurt, and you have a chance right now to teach him."

"How?" Kurt whispered.

"By confronting him," he said. He leaned closer, putting his hands on the table. "Cal him out. I ran, Kurt. I didn't stand up. I let bullies chase me away, and it is something that I really, really regret."

"I don't know if I can do that," he said softly.

Blaine gave in and placed his hand over Kurt's. "I think you can," he said. "You're tough enough to drive out here two days in a row and sneak in as a new student, aren't you?"

That earned him a small smile. "It has been a little nerve-wracking," he admitted.

"Listen, how about you stay here and finish drinking your coffee before you head back," Blaine suggested. He drew his hand away from Kurt's and pulled his phone out of his blazer pocket. "And why don't we exchange numbers?"

It was impossible to miss the way Kurt's eye lit up. "Okay," he said in a small voice as he took out his phone.

"Call me if anything happens," he said. "I know what's like to get picked on, and to not have anyone to turn to who can understand what it's like. You can call me whenever you need to."

"Okay," Kurt said again. His cheeks were coloring again, but this time it seemed more like a blush than anxiety or embarrassed. Blaine cleared his throat, fighting against the thought running through his brain that this kid is way too adorable for his own good.

"I've got to go to class, but I'll talk to you soon, all right?" he said.

Kurt nodded. "Thanks, Blaine," he said softly, the blush spreading across his cheekbones.

He smiled. "Any time," he said, and he meant it. He shouldered his bag and walked towards his homeroom, his cooling coffee forgotten in his hand. All he could think about was Kurt's bright eyes, and wonder how on earth anyone could somehow not notice a boy like him.

Author's Notes:

Oh, my goodness, you guys. I just thought this would be a quick drabbly sort of thing. But ohhhhh, no, it just had to turn into this.

It absolutely broke my heart when Kurt said "and nobody seems to notice" with that awful sort of smile. Absolutely. I just wanted Blaine to hug him right then and there. But I don't write Glee episodes, and so I just sat on my plaid couch in my living room, trying not to bawl. And then I got the idea for this.

I tried to go back to actual episodes and use them as a jumping off point, except for the first one. That one was purely from my imagination, but I figured that little freshman-year Kurt probably got tossed in the dumpster even more frequently back then.

It was fricking weird to write the "Preggers" one, because it was more than just bullying. I kind of had to put in a little sexual tension. Weird.

The "Brittany/Britney" one came from rewatching Kurt's temper tantrum scene, because I knew I wanted to use that particular part, but I didn't know what was going to happen before to make him throw a hissy fit. And then he got up to go to the principal's office and I was like "hold up...is he wearing a kilt?" And then it just sort of wrote itself.

The final part was going to be the hardest, but then all of a sudden when I sat down to write it, it came out as Blaine's POV and not Kurt's, and I was like "uh...well, okay, then." It was still a little tricky, since his character hasn't really been fleshed out, but I just kept him as older and wiser and compassionate, and with a sense of humor.

Also, attracted to Kurt. Because Kurt is adorable.

In any case, this is my first attempt at a 5-and-1, and probably my last. I'm not really a fan of the format, but it just lent itself well in this situation.

I have a new multichapter based on the "Never Been Kissed" episode coming up soon, and some more ideas running around in my head, but if you have any, let me know! I love writing what people want to read. It's so much easier to get reviews that way, when people actually like what you write...