A/N: This is my first fan fiction (though not my first attempt at writing). I was inspired by the drama and characterization surrounding Dave and Kurt, as well as various fan fictions that I have since read based on it. Criticism welcome. This could turn into something larger if people are enjoying it and I continue to feel inspired to add to it.

Spoilers up to The Sue Sylvester Bowl Shuffle, than AU after that.


Coming to Terms

This sucks. Why can't things be simple? Why can't I just be normal? In the past 10 days or so of rehearsing with the Glee Club, I think I've really gotten the hang of this singing and dancing thing. Mr. Shuester even said so. It's not often that anybody tells me that I've done anything right. Thing is, I kinda like it, too. So then why couldn't I say yes when Hudson asked me to join?

Fucking Hummel, that faggy bastard. I'd have to face him if I did, and I can't do that. He needs to remember to be scared of me. He needs to remember that he can't tell people what happened in the locker room that day. It's best if he stays away. Then I don't need to threaten him, or shove him, or insult him. Then I don't need to be a fucking hypocrite. God, why the fuck can't I just be normal like everybody else?

When Karofsky arrived home after the Championship game, he should have been happy. He and his teammates had just won, and on top of that, they had impressed everyone with their halftime performance. He had loved singing and dancing in the Thriller/Heads Will Roll mashup that Mr. Shuester had come up with. The problem was that he could never admit this to anyone. Azimio would never let him live it down, and would torment him endlessly. He'd probably have to quit the team, possibly even leave school if he found out that Dave was into "faggy" shit like that. Of course, Dave could only imagine what Az would do if he found out what other kind of "faggy" stuff Dave was into.

After parking his truck in his driveway, he got out and kicked the door closed behind him, hard enough that he left a small dent loosely resembling a footprint. How was he supposed to live like this? Torn between who and what he knew he was deep down inside of him, and the person that he had to be to make it through each day. He hated being an asshole. He hated bullying people and making them cry, making them fearful. He knew all to well what it was like to feel hated. He hated himself.

As he walked in the front door, Dave's mother called out to him, "Dave, honey, is that you?"

"Yea, mom."

"How was the game?" she asked. "Did you win?"

"Yea."

"I'm glad to hear it, sweetie. Whatever happened with that halftime performance that you were working on?"

"Oh...yea. We did it. It was cool, I guess. The crowd liked it."

"Oh good. You know, maybe you should try out for the glee club. I've always thought you had a beautiful voice."

"Ugh, mom. Please. Glee club is for losers."

"Oh. Well okay then." She sounded disappointed, but how could she not see what a terrible idea that would be? The shit he would get from the team, from his friends, from everyone, would be nearly unbearable. Almost as unbearable as if he admitted that he-

No.

He stomped up the stairs to his bedroom, throwing his gym bag to the side as he walked in and slammed the door behind him. The bag slid across the hard wood flooring until he collided with the wall next to his bed. Dave walked over to his closet and began to dig around the back of it until he found what he was looking for, and pulled out a half-empty bottle of Johnny Walkers. With liquor in tow, he skulked across the room to his armchair and slumped down into it.

He thought about turning on the TV, but decided not to, instead preferring silence. He opened the bottle and took two large swigs, letting his hand holding the bottle swing back down over the armrest and nearly hitting the floor. As had begun to become a routine as of late, he planned to drink until he couldn't think anymore. Better to think and feel nothing than the worry and pain that often went through his mind when he was alone.

An hour went by, and Dave had finished the bottle, letting it slip from his fingers and clink on the floor before rolling under his bed. He was feeling warm and tingly and numb, and this brought him some comfort. But tonight, booze had failed to silence the internal dialogue.

Dammit, Korafsky, you fucking faggot. It's bad enough that you can't convince yourself to like girls, no matter how hard you try. But then you had to go and kiss that boy. Big mistake, asshole, as usual. Can't you do anything right?

Shut up. It's not my fault.

Of course it's your fault, you cocksucker. You're a fat, dumb jock who likes men. You're never gonna get out of Lima, and pretty soon you won't even have friends because that fancy little twink of yours is eventually gonna blab.

Stop it! It's not true. There's nothing wrong with being gay.

Whatever helps you sleep at night, but you know that's not how you really feel. Either way, you're still dumb, still fat, and still a bully and nobody really likes you anyway. Why don't you just kill yourself.

Dave was scrunching his eyes to try to keep the tears welling up in them from stinging. He wiped at his face with the sleeve of his football jersey. Opening his eyes as he pulled his arm away, he noticed the rips and markings on his jersey, the result of its "zombification" for the halftime show.

His eyes were still tearing, but he cracked a grin, remembering how much fun it had been to perform, the crowd cheering, the smiles and handshakes and warm comments of his teammates, and of the glee club members afterward. Aside from some tense moments, he had felt as much a part of the glee club in the past week as he had the hockey or football team. Despite how he had treated them in the past, they had accepted him, at least for a little while.

And then Dave started thinking about another person that they accepted: Kurt Hummel. It didn't matter to them that Kurt was gay. Azimio would attribute this to the fact that they were losers and so of course they would accept the homo. But Dave started thinking about it more. When he and the rest of the team refused to do the halftime show, they were barred from playing in the game, and so the girls in glee stepped up to take their place, knowing it was unlikely that they could win and that they could get seriously hurt. Meanwhile, he and the others had been ready to throw away the championship because they couldn't handle a little song and dance, and the potential that they would be bullied, just like they bullied other people.

Maybe it was the alcohol, but suddenly things were starting to make sense to Dave. Looked at in the right light, the glee club members were brave, and the football players were just a bunch of pussies. He thought of what Hummel had said right before he had kissed him: "You're nothing but a scared little boy who can't handle how extraordinarily ordinary you are." He was right. He knew it the moment Hummel said it. It's part of why he kissed him: he had wanted him to shut up, to stop laying those ugly truths on him.

Mostly, though, he had wanted to tell someone, anyone what he was, and who better than Hummel? Who could really understand better than him? But it had all gone wrong. His teenage hormones had gotten the best of him, as had his temper. Rather than a simple confession, he had all but assaulted the poor boy. But that wasn't enough. When he was given a second chance, when Hummel has shown up with his boytoy Blaine to convince him to come clean about his sexuality, he had reverted to the same asshole he always knew he was. The part of himself that he hated the most.

As Dave tried to absorb all of this, an idea started to come to him, and he decided that he should really stop drinking because it was just one of the craziest fucking ideas he had ever had. He had to talk to Hummel.

The next day at school during lunch, Dave saw Rachel and Mercedes sitting together. He approached them cautiously, knowing that in spite of the halftime show, he and his friends were still on tenuous terms with the glee club.

"What do you want, Karofsky?" Rachel spit at him.

"Uh, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a second. "

"What? No Slushie?" Mercedes said, eyeing him suspiciously.

Dave uncomfortably shifted his wait from one foot to the other. Before setting out to do this, he knew he was going to meet resistance, but he once he was face to face with it, he found himself somewhat at a loss. Nonetheless, he pressed on.

"I wanted to talk to you about, uh, your friend Hummel."

"You mean Kurt? Our friend that you ran out of McKinley? No, you don't get to talk about him." Mercedes responded.

Both of them were looking at him with a mix of anger and wariness. Dave looked down at his shoes, unable to meet their gaze.

"I…want to apologize to him. I need to."

"You sure do, but you're not going to get the chance. He doesn't want you anywhere near him."

In spite of their determined resistance to his request, he could see that this unnerved them a little. Did they really find it so inconceivable that Dave Karofsky could ever change? Just how horrible had he been to them? But Dave knew that they were justifiably skeptical. He knew that he could never take back the things he had done. Just because he had some revelation in a drunken stupor didn't mean he could make this-any of it-right.

No, he couldn't give up. Even if there was no forgiveness for what he'd done to Hummel, he had to try. He owed it to him. He needed him.

"Look, I don't want to harass him. I know I've already done enough damage, and I know that I probably don't deserve the chance, but I think that he deserves an apology. Please-"

"-No. He deserves you to leave him alone. If you were really sorry, you'd understand that." Rachel was looking at him like he had two heads, but she stood her ground. He didn't blame her.

"Okay. Sorry. If you talk to him, though, could you at least give him a message? Could you just tell him that I'm really sorry, and that I'd like to give him a real apology, and that I didn't mean to hurt him and that I fucked up."

The girls looked stunned, but said nothing, so Dave turned to go, bumping right into Finn, who was standing behind him.

"Why don't you tell him yourself?" Finn asked.

"WHAT? You're not seriously going to entertain this, are you Finn?" Rachel seemed furious with him.

"Sorry Rachel, but I think he's right. If the dude wants to apologize, then I don't think we should stand in the way."

Rachel's jaw dropped, then snapped shut angrily. "Well, he's your step brother. If you want to scar him more than he's already been, it's on your head! I'll not be a part of it, though!" She picked up her lunch tray and stormed out of the cafeteria, dumping the entire thing in a trash can on the way out. Mercedes just shook her head and followed suit.

"This better be worth it, dude. I'm definitely gonna have to hear it from them later."

After school was out, Finn and Dave headed out to visit Dalton Academy. Finn called Kurt before they left to say that he was coming up to see him, that he had a surprise and that it was important. He hadn't mentioned Dave. They arrived and parked in the visiter's lot. Finn told Dave that he should wait in the car so that he could go and tell Kurt was going on; that he wasn't going to just let him intrude on Kurt and that this had to be Kurt's decision. Dave nodded, and slumped down in the passenger seat, already resigning himself to failure. After what Dave felt was an excruciatingly long amount of time, he saw Finn walking toward the car in the passenger side mirror. He appeared to be alone. Dave tilted his head down, looking at his lap.

"He says you can come in."

"…what?"

"Yea, it took some convincing, and I think he might think I'm an idiot for bringing you here, but he said you can head in and talk to him."

Dave was stunned. He sat there for a moment, unable to will himself to move. Whether it was shock or cold feet, he felt like he was paralyzed in his seat.

"Uh…Karofsky? You okay? You still wanna do this?"

"…Yea." And with that Dave got up out of the car and followed Finn inside. Crossing the immaculate foyer, they headed upstairs and down a hallway until Finn stopped in front of Dave.

"This is his room."

Dave nodded and turned to the door. He took a deep breath, paused a moment, and then knocked weakly. After a moment he heard Hummel's shaking voice, "come in." Dave opened the door and began to head in. Finn went to follow him, but Dave turned back to face Finn and stood in the doorway.

"Would…would it be alright if I spoke to you alone?" Dave said, turning his head toward Hummel who was sitting at his desk, facing away from Dave.

"…Okay."

Finn looked concerned, but simply nodded.

"Kurt, if you need me, I'll just be out here."

Kurt nodded, still facing away from the door. Dave stepped inside and slowly closed the door behind him. Shoving his hands into the pockets of his letterman jacket, he turned toward Kurt, but didn't move further into the room.

"Can I, uh, sit down?"

"Sure."

Dave sat down in a nearby armchair, hands still in his pockets, hunched over and staring at his shoes. A few minutes went by with neither of them saying a word. Dave's mind was racing. He hadn't expected to get this far, and he wasn't really sure what came next. Finally, Hummel broke the silence.

"Finn told me that you wanted to apologize to me. So I think you should just do it and leave."

The tone in Hummel's voice made Dave cringe. Fear, anger, sadness and…was he crying? None of this should have been new to Dave. He inspired this in most people at McKinley as he shoved them into lockers, threw Slushies on them, and otherwise intimidated them. Why was it that it affected him so much this time? And more importantly, why hadn't it before?

"I…I'm sorry."

"That's it? You made Finn drive you all the way here so that you could deliver that lame excuse for an apology to me? Well, I hope you at least have the decency to give him some money for gas on the way back!"

Hummel had turned to him now, and yes, he was most definitely crying. His face was a red, wet, puffy mess. Dave looked back down at his shoes.

"I-I'm not good at this kind of stuff. I'm no good at anything, really."

"Oh, I don't know. You seem to exhibit great talent in making my life a living hell! You know that I transferred here because of you, right? Because you threatened to kill me? Because I couldn't feel safe back in Lima, back at McKinley, where my friends were?"

"Look, Hummel. I know that what I did to you-hell, what I did to everyone-was wrong. But I know that I was especially wrong in what I did to you." Dave swallowed hard. "I just…I'm just really fucking confused."

Hummel was about to react, until Dave said that magic word, and all of a sudden what happened in the locker room came flooding back to him. It's not that he ever really forgot that day. Far from it. He still thought about it regularly, alternately varying between rage and genuine concern for Karofsky. He knew what it felt like to be where Dave is. It hadn't been easy when he himself had come forward and admit that he was gay. Still, he couldn't ignore the abuse that had preceded it or that which followed. He let Dave continue.

"I'm just so confused, and I'm scared, and I didn't know what to do at that moment. You were yelling at me, insulting me, and all I wanted was for you to understand me. I know that probably doesn't make sense to you, that I could be so mean, and say and do the things that I did, but it's just so fucking hard." Dave's eyes were beginning to burn as he started to cry. He didn't want it to go this way. He didn't want to cry in front of anyone, least of all Hummel, but the tears came anyway. "I-I kissed you because it was the only way I could think of to tell you-to tell you who I am. What I am."

Dave was bawling now. He convulsed as the tears came on strong, and he could no longer articulate his thoughts, and so he didn't even bother to try. He just sat there, shaking, hugging himself, wishing he was dead. If he were dead, he wouldn't have to think about the reality of his life. He wouldn't have to think about how he wasn't a straight A student, or the best football player, or the best hockey player. He wouldn't have to be concerned that he didn't have any real friends, only a group of bullies and acquaintances. He wouldn't have to worry about how to break it to his parents that he's gay, and how to cope with that fact. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. None of this would matter, and he would find peace, finally.

He didn't know when it happened, but he was suddenly aware that Hummel was holding him, arms wrapped tight around him, and they were rocking back and forth. He made no effort to make him stop. He didn't want him to. It felt right. It felt like this is what he came here for.

"It's okay, Karofsky. It's okay. You're gonna be okay."

"Are…are you…why are you doing that?"

"You looked like you needed a hug."

Dave remained silent for a moment. He most certainly did need this. Somehow, though his problems had not gone away, he felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He unfolded his own arms, which had been wrapped around his body, and tentatively reached around Hummel, but stopped short of actually hugging him back.

"It's fine. You need it," Hummel said, noticing Dave's hesitance.

Dave put his arms around Hummel and held as tight as he dared. After a few moments, Dave had calmed down, and Hummel gently let go of Dave, prompting him to do the same. Hummel sat in the chair nearest to Dave.

"Why…would you do that? For me? I treated you like shit."

"I think we understand each other, Karofsky." Hummel's tone was soft and sympathetic. "I was shocked after the kiss, and while it certainly wasn't welcome, it was forgivable." Dave looked up at Hummel with a face very much resembling a puppy who knew he had done something bad and was waiting for punishment. "I've been where you are, and while I didn't handle it in quite the same way, I can tell you that it is not easy to keep that secret. It eats at you, it makes you feel sick at times, it makes you contemplate unimaginable things. And while I was fearful of you, I also worried about you."

Dave looked like he was about to start crying again, and so Hummel reached over and took hold of Dave's right hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Dave," Hummel said, gently. "I forgive you." Dave looked into Hummel's eyes when he spoke, noting the use of his first name.

"Thank you…Kurt."

Kurt smiled, and squeezed Dave's hand once more.

It had been over half an hour, and Finn was getting antsy. He didn't know what was going on in Kurt's room, and he dared not stand close enough to eavesdrop, so he had instead been sitting in a lounge area not far from the room, where he was close enough to rush in and rescue Kurt if this whole plan went awry. Finally the door opened and out stepped Karofsky and Kurt. Both were smiling, and after stepping over the threshold out into the hallway, Kurt turned to Karofsky and offered him his hand. Karofsky smiled wider and accepted, shaking it heartily.

"Thank you, again, Kurt."

"No problem, Dave. Remember, if you need to talk, you've got my number."

Dave nodded and headed down the hallway toward Finn, who was already hurrying toward them.

"Hey, Karofsky. I'll meet you at the car in just a second, okay? I just wanna have a quick word with Kurt."

"Sure thing, Hudson. Thanks again for bringing me here and giving me the chance to make things right."

"No problem."

Dave walked down the hall, looking to Finn like a wholly different person. He was neither the angry jock he'd known for so long, nor the moody repentant guy that he had seen in the cafeteria this afternoon, and during the ride here.

"Hey, dude. What's up with him? Did he really apologize to you?"

"He did, Finn, yes. Truly and sincerely. I think that you'll find that this is not the same Karofsky that we've all known and been tormented by for so long." Kurt was beaming, knowing that things would be different now, and that he'd helped Karofsky to realize that he's not alone…and maybe he'd realized that he wasn't either.

"Wait, if he's not the same Karofsky, then who is he?"

"…never mind, Finn."

"Oh, okay. Soooo…does this mean that you'll be transferring back to McKinley?"

Kurt thought of Blaine for just a moment, but ultimately he knew where his priorities were.

"Yes, Finn. I think I will."