Story: Redemption 1/?
Fandom: Glee
Author: ibshafer
Rating: PG-13, for language
Character/Pairing: Kurt, Karofsky (This isn't a 'ship story at this point and it probably won't be. It's up to Kurt, really. I'll let you know when he tells me…)
Disclaimer: I don't own these people, they own themselves and are just nice enough to let me spin them around the page now and then.
Summary: Because everybody deserves a shot at it…
Warnings: none
A/N: The author does not in any way condone bullying or any form of aggression towards homosexuals, or anyone else, for that matter.

~ ibshafer

It had been a long week, but little by little, as the newness had worn off and he'd settled into the routine at Dalton, he found himself starting to relax; starting to forget what it felt like to be scared all the time.

Blaine and the rest of the Warblers had been great. They'd welcomed him like a long, lost brother; they didn't press for details, they were just There: when he needed unspoken support; when he needed a crowd around him, loud and laughing; when he needed support of the physical kind – walking to his car after practice – after dark.

But it had been a week now and life had lost its red-tinged edge. He'd stopped jumping at every shadow and slammed locker door. He'd started to feel like he was Just Kurt again – instead of Kurt the Victim – and so when Blaine and Randy had said they'd just be a few minutes, that they needed to talk through the set list, Kurt had said not to rush: he was fine; he'd just head out on his own.

He'd been whistling the chorus from the last piece they'd been working on, secure knowing he was on the Dalton compound, the smell of freshly mown lawn a reassuring bit of normalcy in his lungs, so he didn't see the car parked on the other side of the lot, didn't see the figure leaning against the fence.

Until it moved.

Heart racing, he fumbled with his keys, dropped them, swore under his breath, and then heard a single word, spoken softly, from the other side of the lot where the car was parked and the figure still waited.


He could now clearly see Karofsky's big frame hunched against the chain link, almost curled in on itself, like it was trying to disappear through a hole in its own chest.

"Please, can I just talk to you for a minute?"

The request spurred Kurt to action; snatching his keys off the ground, he squeezed the fob, then grabbed the door handle and sprang into his car, jamming the lock down the minute his butt hit the seat. Chest heaving, blood pounding in his ears, he groped for the ignition with the key, but his hands were shaking so badly, he kept missing.

Panicked, he shot a glance across the parking lot and froze when he didn't see the shape of his tormenter still leaning against the fence. A second look told him why.

Karofsky has slid down, back still against the barrier, and was now curled into a ball on the grass.

For a second time he swore under his breath.

I will not be a sap. I will not fall for it again.

Finally, the key slid home and he started the car. He considered hitting the gas and tearing out of there – make a statement with rubber on the surface of the lot – but something…something made him think better of it.

Making sure the doors were still locked, he slid a finger onto the window release, lowering the glass halfway.

"What do you want from me, Karofsky," he shouted across the lot. Just to be sure, he put the lights on, brights at that. A swath of parking lot was suddenly bathed it blinding blue illumination. In the receding glow at the edge of it, he could see the big jock looking at him, just sitting there looking at him – unmoving; like all the will had left him, like he was some poor carbon copy of himself.

"I just…" The quiet voice trailed off, then continued. "I just wanted to thank you. I know you hate me and I don't blame you, but I just had to say that…"

What the…?

"You're damn right I hate you!" He felt his voice rising, his face growing hot with pique. "Why should I listen to you…say anything, huh? Don't you think you've said it all? Huh, Dave?" He spat out the name like an insult. "I mean, once you've threatened to kill someone, what more is there to say?"

Something that sounded like a sob bounced off the asphalt. "Look, I'm sorry! I'm fucked up. I'm the worst. I suck, OK?" His voice was so wrecked it was almost painful to listen to. Or it would have been if Kurt could muster up concern. Which he couldn't.

"Yeah, you are!" And because he didn't need to hear any more, he put the car in gear and started to pull out of the slot.

"Wait!" Karofsky was on his feet. He hadn't left the fence, he seemed to understand it'd be counterproductive if he did, but he was on his feet and looking at Kurt with the most pathetic expression on his broad, ruddy face.

So Kurt braked the car. "Fine! What did you have to say so badly you risked violating the restraining order?"

Now that he had Kurt's attention, Karofsky didn't seem to know what to do with it. He looked at him, then away, his face a crumpled mess.

Kurt was losing his patience. "What already?" he screamed.

Another second of facial contortions and then the blurted exclamation.

"I love you!"

Kurt felt like he'd gotten the wind get knocked out of him. You what?

"You—you…" He shook his head, trying to make sense of it. "Are you kidding me? Who threatens to kill the person they…they… I-I can't even say it, it's just too ridiculous."

"Look, I just wanted to tell you that," Karofsky said, a little louder, though clearly more pained. "I don't expect anything from you, I just wanted you to know… And to thank you…to thank you… Kurt, I just wanted to thank you for protect-for not outing me the other day."

Kurt still had a stunned "Oh…" on his face, when Karofsky climbed into his car, started it instantly, and motored from the lot, eyes on Kurt as he sped by.

What the…

"What the hell am I supposed to do with that," he whispered, not even registering the fact that somewhere in all of this he'd started crying.

It would be hours before he could get the image out of his head; Karofsky's pathetic face as he drove by…