Gah! I was so upset when this scene happened. I thought it was the end of Dave Karofsky on Glee forever!

'Heart' and 'On My Way' made me think otherwise. But we'll get to those later. *Evil laugh*

This chapter was so much fun to write. I think I went a little more detailed in the background of how Dave got to Scandals, more than I normally like to, but I think it was necessary and I hope it worked. I was so inspired by the last episodes that I suddenly couldn't wait to crank this one out. And more will be on the way soon.

(By the way, in case anyone saw my last A/N and actually cared, I got into AMDA! And I'd like to thank all of you for helping me. I mentioned fanfiction writing in the interview, and they were fascinated. I truly believe it helped. So thank you! :D)

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a total review whore (as all fanfiction writers are, at least a little bit... ;D), and I'd love some new feedback to read. Suggest me to your pirate friends. And your Klainer friends. I've converted Klainers before, and I can do it again! :D But I would really love some reviews, please. :)

P.S. If you're interested, check out my DeviantArt page. I don't have much, but you might like what you see if you check it out. ;) http : / / hpgleek 713 . deviant art . com /

I'll stop talking now. I've missed you all and I'm so glad this isn't the last chapter I have to write. I'm too damn emotionally invested in this story now. It's unhealthy...

Disclaimer: Trust me when I say... If I owned Glee, Kurt would have kissed Dave on the forehead in the hospital. I wanted it so badly... But what I got wasn't too bad, so I won't complain. ;)

So Fancy, Yogi, Mini-Me, and a Man-Whore All Walk Into A Gay Bar…

It didn't take much convincing to get my parents to agree to a transfer. They both knew something was wrong, and I guess they figured that being away from the problem would fix it. Whatever the problem had been.

It did.

No one at Thurston knew who I was. I had no rep. I was wiser this time around and just kept my head down. People knew my name, and that was about it. No one had any preconceived notions about who I was or about anything in my past. And quite honestly? No one cared.

And I loved it. I didn't realize until a week after school began that a gigantic weight had been lifted off my shoulders. A weight I'd carried since the day I kissed Kurt. I loved him, no doubts there, but I had always been deathly afraid he'd tell someone else. It was bad enough that Blaine and Santana knew. I couldn't handle the pressure of someone else finding out. Not yet, anyway.

The only problem I had with Thurston was that Kurt wasn't there. It was sappy and girly and stupid but I didn't miss him any less than when he had left to Dalton. In fact, it was worse. Back then he had hated me. Not that I had blamed him. I had hated me, too. But this time around, we had gotten to the point where he had come as close to forgiving me as you could possibly get without actually doing so. It killed me that that had been my cue to flee the environment. But I knew that it was the best thing for both of us.

It also gave me the time and frame of mind to focus on the next task at hand. Before the whole prom fiasco, I had completely accepted myself… to myself. To Kurt and Santana too, I suppose, but I didn't really count them. It was an accident that they both found out… not because I had come out to them. But I had finally, finally mustered up enough courage to say, "I'm gay" out loud to myself. It may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but it was a huge step for me. I'd been trying to ever since the day I took Kurt's wedding topper in the hallway.

And now that I had actually done it, it didn't seem like this huge, scary thing I'd been so terrified of. It was just a word. Now—at least to myself—saying, "I'm gay" felt the same as saying, "I have brown eyes" or, "I'm seventeen". And even though I wasn't ready to say it to other people, it wasn't because I was afraid of being gay anymore. It was because I was afraid of their reactions to me being gay.

But I wanted to get to that place. I wanted to be the kind of person who could go to college being comfortable enough to be completely honest about myself. I wanted to be able to come out; at the very least to the people I loved. I hoped it would make Kurt proud, but that wasn't even my greatest motivation anymore. I was doing this for me. If I didn't, I knew I would never be able to get to that place.

So I needed to find something. Anything that could be my outlet. Somewhere where I could practice being openly gay without the fear of judgment, or worse.

So I started doing a little research, calling myself crazy more than once before actually working up the nerve to Google 'Gay bars in Lima, OH'. I was shocked when one actually popped up. The name 'Scandals' freaked me out a little, but I figured it was worth a shot.

So one Friday night, I told my parents I was going to a party at a friend's house and told Azimio that I wouldn't be able to make it to the party. Then I packed up my fake ID—I'm a high school jock… of course I have a fake ID—and drove down to West Lima. I figured if anything about the place freaked me out too badly, I'd just leave. Simple enough.

(I was later immensely grateful that my first trip wasn't on a Wednesday. I'm cool with Drag Queen Wednesday now, but I don't know how well I would have handled it that first time.)

I didn't realize how badly I was shaking until I walked up to the door and just stared at it. I was about to essentially come out in front of a bar full of complete strangers. Or worse. What if I actually knew someone in there?

I shook myself out of my panic. Who the hell was I going to run into at a gay bar? The only other gay people I knew were Kurt, Blaine, and Santana. And they already knew about me. So why was I freaking out so badly?

Because this was a giant step. This was going to be the first time—other than the infamous incident—that I was going to actually act onbeing gay. People would know for sure that I was gay. I couldn't deny it. I was taking a huge risk here.

But I was ready.

So I opened the door and walked inside.


Since then, Scandals had become one of my favorite places in the world.

It wasn't all that 'scandalous', really. It looked like your normal, run-of-the-mill bar—with the added effect of drag queens and dudes grinding up on each other.

I went as often as I could. I was even friendly with some of the regulars, and it was an exhilarating feeling, having everyone in the room know I was gay and honestly not give a crap. It was like my turf. I felt safe.

Until Kurt Hummel walked in the door.

At the sight of him and his bite-sized boyfriend having their ID's checked, I promptly choked on my beer and hurried off to hide in a corner, attempting to take deep breathes.

I watched as the two of them made their way over to Sebastian Smythe, one of the regulars at Scandals. He was about our age, and a real jerk. I'd asked him once for advice on how to get a guy. He'd basically told me I was fat and had eyebrows like Liberace.

Needless to say, I avoided him like the fricken' plague.

So I was relieved to see that Kurt didn't seem to like him anymore than I did. Blaine, however, was a different story. He cheerfully waved at Sebastian and seemed to wave off any concern Kurt had about the guy. He took the offered beer from Sebastian—who I'd come to think of as the He-Jezebel—and clinked their drinks together. After a few minutes, the two of them headed out to the dance floor, leaving Kurt alone at the bar with what looked like the pinkest Shirley Temple I'd ever seen.

As if I didn't hate Blaine enough.

It was unfathomable to me how Blaine could be lucky enough to have a boyfriend as amazing and gorgeous as Kurt and just leave him sitting alone at a bar while he went and danced with the most blatant man-whore ever.

I took a minute to just look Kurt over. I had hoped that after all these months I'd romanticized him in my mind, and that maybe the next time I saw him, I would laugh at the little schoolboy crush I'd had on him for so long.

No such luck.

He looked amazing. And he was exactly the way I remembered him. His hair was as perfectly styled as ever, and his outfit was simple and muted, but still so well put together that it looked like he just stepped off a runway. My chest twinged a bit when the spinning lights bounced off his face, reminding me of how he'd looked right before I ran out of prom, with the disco lights hitting his eyes and face in a way that made him shimmer.

Poor Kurt just sat there sipping his drink, looking completely miserable and watching his dumb-as-a-log boyfriend get his groove on with another guy.

Suddenly, I found myself making my way to the bar where he sat. I panicked slightly before shrugging it off. Oh well. What the hell did I have to lose? It's not like he thought I was straightor anything. Who cared if he saw me there?

So I spoke to get his attention, heart pounding in my throat, "Better watch your boyfriend." I turned to the bartender. "Can I get another beer, please?" If I was really going to sit here in a gay bar, of all places, and have a conversation with Kurt Hummel, of all people, I figured I'd need a little liquid courage.

He looked over at me, startled. Once the recognition settled on his face, he laughed a shocked little laugh. I couldn't help but smile in return.

He wasted no time. "So how's life at your new school?" Way to ease into conversation, Kurt. I didn't mind, though. "Fine."

Kurt didn't drop his gaze, apparently unhappy with my one-word response. He just kept nodding, probably trying to encourage me to go on. I looked away after realizing that I had been smiling like an idiot for just a few beats too long. I shook myself out of it and gave him a more detailed response. "You know… I just wanna have a normal senior year and play football without my teammates hearing rumors about me." I hated how hoarse my voice sounded, shaky with nerves.

His smile faded into a small grimace and his eyes narrowed, just enough for his expression to go from pleasantly surprised to annoyed in half a second. He leaned in slightly, driving my already frayed nerves to the extreme when I could faintly smell his cologne. I took a sip of my beer to distract myself. He spoke in a tone that matched his expression. "Just to let you know, I would have never told anyone. It's not who I am."

He leaned back and turned slightly to look back at his boyfriend and man-whore on the dance floor as I nodded in response. I had forgotten how defensive he'd been about that. Clearly he felt strongly about the whole issue of outing other people. I admired that more than he knew.

It made me feel ridiculous for even worrying about it when I'd been at McKinley. Even at the worst of times, he'd never tried to use my secret against me. Quite honestly, that had been what made me realize I was in love with him, way back at that first meeting we'd had with our parents. I mean sure… maybe he'd kind of implied that he'd use it as blackmail material at the second parent meeting, but I highly doubted now that he would have actually done it.

He broke my reverie by tearing his eyes away from the dance floor, most likely trying to ignore it as much as humanly possible. I took another swig of beer as he attempted to change the subject, not even looking up from the bar. "So you come here all the time?"

I smiled. "People like me here. I feel accepted." He finally looked back up at me with those wide blue eyes. Then he smiled, looking happy that I'd finally made some good progress from the last time we saw each other.

I laughed a little, remembering what a few guys here had told me when I first started coming to Scandals, and debated telling Kurt. Oh what the hell… "I'm what they call a 'bear cub'."

He blinked confusedly. "Because you look like Yogi?"

I laughed quietly, dropping my head down in disbelief. Kurt freaking Hummel, the most flamboyantly out there gay I'd ever met—besides Mr. Ryerson, of course—didn't even know what a basic gay term like 'bear' meant. And I did. I mean… I'd figured he was an innocent little thing but… wow.

Adorable. Absolutely adorable.

I tried to explain it to him, trying unsuccessfully to ignore the irony of the situation. Dave Karofsky, closet-case extraordinaire, teaching Kurt 'I have no closet' Hummel what a 'bear' was. "I don't know… because I'm burly or something?" He snorted a little, turning to his drink and smiling almost doubtfully. My defenses immediately shot up. "Wha—so… so is this the point where you judge me?"

Why, Dave? Why do you have to ruin every conversation by being a defensive crazy person?

He did a double take and looked at me with earnest, wide eyes. "No. As long as you're not beating people up, I—I'm all for being whoever you have to be… at your own speed." I tensed slightly when he mentioned beating people up, but relaxed as he shot a tiny, shy smile my way.

I'd never seen him smile like that before.

Damn.

I dropped eye contact for a moment, trying to collect myself before I did something stupid—like cry in front of him again. Kurt shot another look over his shoulder out at the dance floor. Blaine was still out there dancing with Sebastian, apparently oblivious to mine and Kurt's entire conversation. He didn't glance back over here once.

I was suddenly so indescribably angry with him. He didn't deserve Kurt. I wasn't saying that I did either, but if he were a good boyfriend, he wouldn't have left Kurt up at the bar all by himself. It clearly wasn't Kurt's scene, and it may very well have been his first time going to a bar, much less a gay bar, where it was more likely he would get picked up, or worse. And he was underage. And tiny.

What if it hadn't been me to come up and talk to him? What if it had been a creepy old dude? I knew a lot of the regulars here, and I knew none of them were sinister or anything, but I didn't know everyone. I doubted at this point that Blaine would have even noticed if Kurt wasn't at the bar anymore. Didn't he care?

I didn't have anyone my first time coming here. But Kurt should.

So, in this moment at least, I would try my damnedest to be that person. I tried to contain the anger in my voice and just be there as a friend for Kurt, picking up the conversation where we left off. "Right now, I'm just trying to get through high school."

He looked up at me and… something changed. I didn't know exactly what, but I liked it. His eyebrows rose just a little, and I saw something in his eyes that hadn't been there before. It was almost like fear, but not really. More like… interest. I'm not saying he was interested in me, but interested in… something. There was something there I couldn't quite put my finger on. A spark of something I liked. He just stared back at me, his mouth dropping open faintly for just a moment before he pulled in a shaky breath and composed himself, his eyes fluttering just slightly.

My heart swelled, my mood instantly lifting. I lifted my beer to propose a toast. "Here's to baby steps." He smiled a little and clinked his glass against my bottle.

"Baby steps."

I took another swig of my beer as he daintily sipped his Shirley Temple through its frighteningly pink straw. I watched him with a lightness I've never felt in his presence before.

I didn't realize it until much later, but I was pretty sure that what I felt was forgiveness.

He took one last look out to the dance floor, where Mini-me must have finally realized that he had a freaking boyfriend. He shot a come-hither look at Kurt, and all I wanted was to punch him in his ungrateful little jaw.

Kurt, however, clearly didn't share my feelings. He smiled at me in farewell and set his drink down. I smiled sadly and nodded in surrender, looking quickly at my drink so I didn't have to watch the rest of the scene unfold and start sobbing or something stupid like that. I picked at the paper label for half a second before realizing that the rest of my night would be ruined if I had to watch Kurt and the idiot getting their freak on three feet away from me on the dance floor. So I took one last swig of my beer and got up to leave.

Unfortunately, the dance floor sat right between the bar and the exit, so I'd have to push past the both of them if I wanted to leave. So I forced myself to look over Lord Farquad's head—no trouble there—and let this be how I remembered Kurt, if I never saw him again. As happy, and having fun, and dancing in that horribly uncoordinated, but adorable shimmying way of his. As smiling.

Yeah… I definitely wanted to remember him smiling.