DEFENDER

By Rian

December 24, 2010

Dave was one of the first ones out of the building after the last bell rang. He had football practice, but just getting a breath of fresh air and glimpse of sky made it all easier to bear. As he power walked to his car, intent on retrieving his now probably frozen water bottle, it occurred to him that he had achieved a sense of the normal again. At least, normal for him. It had been several months now…ok, 88 days, but it's not like he was counting…since the kiss and only…sigh…74 days since he'd seen…him.

It had been hard…ok, awful, all of it. Dealing with his overly concerned and curious parents, the self-congratulatory teammates, the suspicious faculty and downright hostile Glee freaks. But he'd gone back to a semblance of himself, and that was comforting…almost. He was back to throwing slushies and making lewd comments about girls and slamming into guys in football and hockey practice and cracking jokes with Azimio and dumpster tossing the weaklings. So why did he still feel so hollow?

The days stretched out. The weather froze. His thoughts betrayed him daily, hourly. He could bury as much as he wanted and put up as many masks as it took. But alone, or at night, or when certain songs played, or certain enticing scents wafted his way…he was right back to those stolen, vivid and violent moments. They were all he had left. Those, and the dreams. The damn dreams that had only intensified. Romantic dreams, sexual (Hell, SEXUAL) dreams, dreams of loss, betrayal…but most of all, loneliness. Hopelessness that Ku-…Hummel was never coming back.

So, when Dave saw an all-too-familiar Escalade with a bumper sticker that said "I'm One of THEM" sitting a few rows over from his truck, trying to hide behind that stoner Brett's VW Bus, he chuckled that he was just having one of what he called "Fury" moments. He'd adopted the name from his fist's former glory. He didn't really feel like hitting things anymore, ironically. He just felt like staring into space, and listening to Radiohead, and remembering.

Having retrieved his water bottle, he turned back to school and froze. The Escalade was still there. He wasn't imagining it, or hallucinating it. He ran across the lot and peered in, laying his hand on the hood. It was still warm. No, it can't be. He'd never come back…here…would he? I'm dreaming again, I'm just wanting it to be him. Maybe there is another gay guy in this godforsaken town…who has the same car and the same bumper sticker…and then he saw it laying haphazardly across the front passenger seat. A flimsy scarf in just the right shade of blue. KURT.

Without thinking, only feeling, Dave tore towards the school, his heart turning a tornado. He had to see him, he had to…it's been so long…He'd missed him so much. All Dave's defenses were flung off as he shoved through some terrified freshmen towards the office. Staring wildly through the glass, he saw only secretaries and Figgins. He rounded a corner and shoved his head through Miss Pillsbury's door. She started, seeing him and his intense expression. "Dave, are you ok? What can I do for…what's wrong?" He just shook his head, almost laughing at his own stupidity. He knew exactly where Hummel would have gone first.

The choir room door was closed as Dave skidded to a shaky stop in front of it. He didn't wanna scare him away again. Not this time. This time it was gonna be different, this time he'd make him understand…This time…He looked both ways to be sure no one was watching him too closely. He was just a letterman-jacket wearing bully, laying in wait for a Glee nerd. Very slowly, tentatively, he dared a glance through the small pane of glass in the door. He was shaking…actually shaking. How pathetic can you get? The sight that met him was not what he expected.

His eyes immediately landed on Kurt, like they always had, sitting in the front row of chairs, his head in his hands. He wore all black, so that he was almost a blur with his starkly pale skin and soft velvet hair as contrast. On either side of him were the black chick he hung out with and the goth asian chick, their arms around him. Was he shaking? He saw Hudson pacing back and forth in front of the piano, his fists clenched and muttering/mouthing something. Damn it, I can't hear, but…Oh brother, there's another door to the room, and it's open, just past some lockers on the other side. Before he moves, he notes that Puckerman and Quinn Fabray are standing near the door, so he's got to be quiet.

He crept over and closed his eyes so he could laser in on the conversation as it drifted out to him. That's when he heard Hummel crying. And he about died right there. He'd never heard Hum-…Kurt crying. He'd seen him scared, angry, sad, flamboyant…but the sniffling and whimpering…it was all he could do not to run into the room and snatch him away to comfort him. He then finally heard Hudson, saying over and over again, "I'm gonna kill him, I'm gonna murder that asshole, I'm gonna…" "That's not helping Finn," he heard Rachel Berry gently say. God she even sounded annoying when she was being kind.

"Kurtie, I still love you." That was Brittany, Dave was pretty sure. Sadly, this sweet statement only redoubled Kurt's misery. Dave heard him actually cry out and shuffling feet as several people moved what he could only assume was closer to Kurt, probably to hug him, insulate him, protect him…"We should beat his ass" he heard Puckerman say with a threat in his voice. "I'll come too, I've got a mean left hook" a low snarky female voice said. Hell, even Lauren Zises was there. The whole freak show was there…trying to help him.

"Great idea, Puck" he heard an effected voice say, Quinn most likely. "Get yourself expelled and thrown back in Juvie, all in the name of helping someone you yourself bullied mercilessly till recently." Dave winced at that last comment. Shit, he hated himself. "Shut up Quinnie, it's not Puck's fault that Kurt's hot little mentor turned out to be such a D-Bag!" Santana, always with the wrong line and the wrong time. But, Dave felt the blood boiling. Kurt's mentor…that prep school kid. What the hell had that bastard done?

He had to know, so he quickly strolled past the open door and doubled back on the other side, trying to get a look into the room. He probably looked ridiculous to the teeming students strolling by, but for once in his life, he couldn't have cared less. Dave saw Kurt raising his head slowly. All over again, just like every time, Dave fell in love with him. Even now, with his tear-stained face, bloodshot eyes, trembling lips, mussed hair, he was an angel. A demigod. Perfection. Dave's aches returned and rebounded tenfold. The look in Kurt's eyes was pain, rage, embarrassment…Dave had never seen anyone look like that, not even after what he'd done to Kurt had he seen THIS look.

The black chick stroked his hair smooth and the asian chick rubbed his hands. Kurt opened his mouth to speak and a choked sob broke out. "I d-don't understand…why does this keep h-happening to me? What's wrong with me? Why do people only wanna hurt me? I don't g-g-get it…I-I thought he liked me too…" Dave's shocked intake of breath coincided with Kurt's lovely face falling again and Rachel, Brittany and Quinn moving toward him, as Mike, Sam and the wheelchair kid stood nearby solemn.

But before she moved from the door, Quinn had heard that intake of breath and turned. Her eagle eyes fell on Dave hovering intently outside the door. The school goddess turned terrible in that minute. But cool as a cucumber, she merely touched Puckerman on the arm and whispered in his ear, causing him too, to turn and see Dave. Dave was so engulfed and engaged, he didn't even register their discovery. He was zeroed in on Kurt's frequency, his breathing, his movements, his tears. He didn't see Puck walking toward him until the boy was closing the door behind him and facing him in the hallway.

Quietly, Puck moved into Dave's space and stared daggers into him. "Give me one reason not to beat your ass senseless right here, Karofsky. Tell me why I shouldn't destroy you for making this to happen." That did it. Dave snapped his head away from Kurt's outline and faced Puck. "ME? What the fuck did I do? From what I heard it sounds like the fairy's little boyfriend dumped him." Oh, it hurt, saying those hateful things. Dave's chest actually hurt. "Oh, so you came to gloat? You came to see Kurt totally broken? That's what you always wanted, to see the poor gay kid cry? You're sick!" Puck shoved him now, into the lockers, causing the few remaining hallway occupants to scatter. It took all Dave's months of dealing with this to compose himself and not fight back. He had to know what had happened.

"Puckerman, do that again and it's back to Juvie. I'm serious." Puck was more startled by Dave's suddenly calm tone as he stood himself back upright. "I'm not afraid of you, Davie. I can take care of myself, like I should have taken care of Kurt before you drove him away!" Like I should have been taking care of him all along, Dave mused bitterly in silent response. "What the hell happened that's got you all so worked up and the…Hummel so teary?" "What do you care, asshat? Leave him alone! You don't deserve to…" Puck barely had time to register Dave's hockey-honed quickness as he was grabbed and lifted and pressed, but not slammed, into the same lockers. "Tell me what happened to him, Puckerman." Still a steady tone, but quiet, terrifying. Even Puck paused a beat,before regaining his bravado, even inches from Karofsky's face.

"That Blaine kid, the one Kurt was friends with, from Dalton. He'd been helping Kurt deal with stuff, with YOU," he spat this out and Dave tightened his grip. "They hung out all the time and sang together and flirted and stuff…Kurt kinda fell for him." Dave's heart sank, his grip loosened. His life was over. Kurt loved someone else. But Puckerman was still talking, so Dave snapped back to attention. "Kurt finally got up the nerve to tell him, the Blaine kid, how he felt. Apparently, the guy stood there silently, with eyes wide and mouth open. Then he started shaking his head, and backing away and saying something like 'I'm sorry, Kurt. I'm so sorry…I can't…I have…Kurt…I have to go…' And he left Kurt standing there. So Kurt came here and we're gonna take care of this Blaine kid for him. Now go the hell away, Karofsky. I don't know why you care, or what you're up to, but I'm not stupid. And there's five other guys and several girls just inside here that will beat you bloody if you're here another minute."

Puck pulled himself free and walked back into the room, pulling the door with him. Dave grabbed it before it shut and just looked in one more time. No one was looking at him, they were all around Kurt, taking turns holding him, talking to him, hell, even singing to him. But Dave saw only Kurt. The boy he loved, worshipped, craved…The fact that he loved someone else faded away. All Dave knew was that prep school prick…that Blaine kid . Who names their kid Blaine? He sounds even gayer. So Blaine hurt Kurt. Something primal kicked in. Primitive instincts. Protect, defend. Kurt was sad, Kurt was crying, Kurt needed…someone.

Why were they all just standing there? Why weren't they doing something? Why weren't they…Because that's not who they are, dumbass. That's who you are. It hit him so simply. He didn't think it possible for his torch for Kurt to burn higher, but it roared inside him. He would see Kurt smile again, dance…hear him laugh, sing…kiss him, love…NO, one step at a time. First, first…

Dave glared hard, memorizing Kurt's face in this state. It would be his talisman. He tore his eyes away and began moving, quickly, with purpose toward the exit back to the parking lot. He pulled out his phone and started the GPS App. Holding the phone to his stinging ears, he growled one phrase. "Dalton Academy, Westerville, Ohio." He was going to pay Blaine a visit.