After hopping out of the shower and pulling on the outfit he had laid out for himself last night, Kurt quickly checks the time before jabbing the buttons of the coffee machine and sitting down to his laptop. As second semester starts today, he figures he should at least attempt to get there a little bit ahead of schedule. But with a few minutes to spare before he has to leave, he figures he has enough time to check his email, check any scandalous gossip to hit the presses since yesterday, anything… With a predictable ding, his inbox loads his messages.

There's a few from Rachel marked urgent, which he ignores already knowing what they're about. There's another from Finn with the subject line reading oh btw your boyfriend hates me, which Kurt also ignores and contemplates trashing it, wondering why Finn feels the need to send him emails instead of having a real conversation with him. The last one is from allmixedup, its subject line reading insomnia blows, and dated at around 4AM this morning. Kurt feels a smile tug at his lips as he clicks on it.

It's 4am, and I can't sleep. Not to try to sound like that corny country song overplayed on the radios right now, but the only thing I could think to do was try to read that book you recommended to me, because all I really wanted to do was talk to you and that was the next best thing. You know – the one written by the Swedish guy? I have to say, it's actually pretty good; not too dramatic, but with enough ass-kicking to satisfy my taste. And the whole time I was reading it, I kept wondering about the girl in it. How she manages to find someone who is willing to go to the ends of the earth to protect her… by just being herself. I'll admit it. I want that; to find someone I care so deeply about that I'd do anything for them. That relationship, even if it's just a friendship…

I hope you're sleeping now, so I probably won't get a response, but I can't help but ask. Do you have girlfriend? Boyfriend? Do you ever just feel completely wrong in everything that you're doing?

At the end, all that is signed is 'allmixedup'. That's all that's ever signed at the end of the message. The two of them had met in an anonymous college-bound chat room for Ohio high school students, and hit it off, but had quickly agreed to not use their actual given names. Kurt had explained how he enjoyed the anonymity of it all.

When allmixedup asks Kurt about having a boyfriend, it sends a small chill down his spine. The insinuation is all Kurt needs, and he finds himself quickly pulling together a reply in return as he hears the coffee machine begin to beep. If this boy wants to know if Kurt has a boyfriend, perhaps he has one as well.

He talks about the book and how it's one of his all-time favorites, and how he feels like he can't tell his friends that. Because seriously, if showy, campy Kurt Hummel was known to enjoy reading things like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there'd be even more rumors about him and the things he got off on (hello? Whips and chains fetish, much?) running through the school, and most likely not favorable ones. He tells him how he's always wanted someone like that, but he's never found them, always finding himself cut short. He mentions Blaine, but only for a sentence and not by name, his mind shooting back to the email that Finn had sent him.

Reading it over as he stands up, he almost deletes it, realizing how melancholy he sounds in it. But he decides against it, pushing those feelings of doubt aside, signs it 'extraordinarilyunordinary', and hits send.

Dave Karofsky is not a morning person.

In fact, he's not even sure he should label himself a person in the morning, because as his alarm starts beeping for the seventh time, he chucks the across the room into the wall. Going to sleep about two hours before it goes off really doesn't help the matter.

As his Blackberry starts to beep much too loudly considering what time it was, he groans, sitting up and cursing everyone and their mother only to see that his email alert is going off. Intrigued, he opens his inbox, only to find a new email from extraordinarilyunordinary, sent just a few minutes ago. With a smile, he opens it, suddenly feeling much more awake, even though he knows he needs about five more hours of sleep.

A feeling of warmth floods through his body as his pen pal describes a feeling of sometimes not feeling like he can be himself around his friends. Because if there is anyone who has experience with that, it was Dave. Considering what happened before and after he was pretty much forced out of the closet at school by Jacob Ben Israel's video footage of him giving head to a new substitute teacher after school in an empty classroom on his blog, he was lucky the football team hadn't tried to kill him yet.

As his pen pal continues on about his boyfriend, yet still not thinking that he's found the one yet, Dave smiles, feeling a bit more hopeful than before. At least he's not the only one feeling alone; extraordinary clearly wants more out his life too. He wants to send a reply, but considering that classes start in 14 minutes, he figures maybe he should spend his time on getting dressed instead of thinking up witty responses…

When Karofsky's truck pulls up to the school, he finds Azimio and the others waiting like normally - right by the dumpster as usual. Climbing out of the truck, he sees that for the first time in a long time, they aren't alone. Looking particularly terrified while trying to pull himself away from Azimio is none other than Kurt Hummel. Stopping for a moment, Karofsky considers turning around and walking away like he hadn't seen them. Because after what happened between him and Hummel in the locker room almost a year ago – it hadn't been pretty. But after he had been labeled as 'closet-case' and made a mockery of throughout the entire school, which Hummel probably ended up seeing considering the video had been plastered all over any social networking site… he couldn't go back and change it, so he'd just come to be at peace with it. Being at peace with himself could only lead to a truce with Hummel.

And he wasn't really looking to ruin that, either. Considering that he hadn't seen Hummel in almost a year up until now, this meeting wasn't looking good for that.

"Let's go, man. We ain't got all day! Think of this as a redemption for what you've done!" Azimio yells, shaking Hummel's shoulder a bit, which in turn shook the entire boy's slight build. Quickly, Karofsky met Hummel's eyes, which were a mess of emotion – pleading, anger, fear… anything. Dave knew what Azimio wanted him to do, knew what he was insinuating by redemption. But after what Dave had done to Hummel in the locker room that afternoon and the weeks following – he fucking threatened to kill him (he never meant it, but for him to say to a kid who was three times smaller than him that he was going to murder him, of course he was going to freak) – he can't very well throw him in the dumpster now.

But Azimio is… Azimio is his… his friend? Is that even the right word for it? No, because a friend wouldn't have slushied him after Karofsky-gate saying that he must like having stuff dripping on his face. So not friend. His beat-up buddy? Karofsky couldn't remember the last person he beat up. Ever since his viral video appearance on his knees, he couldn't really come off as threatening anymore.

The fact that Karofsky can't even come up with a word to describe the two of them speaks louder than words ever could.

"Erm, I'm a little rusty…" Dave mumbles distractedly, rubbing the back of his neck and looking away. And even though he's not looking straight at Hummel, he can see the curious expression appear on his face.

Azimio laughs, motioning to one of the others. "'Rusty'? We'll show you how it's done, then. You can take your turn later this week, my man!" Before Karofsky can even move or say anything else, Hummel's flying into the dumpster with a yell. Azimio and the others high five, laughing loudly and calling out for him to follow as they head into the school at the sound of the bell.

Dave watches them walk away and enter the school before even thinking of approaching the dumpster. Hummel, who's currently trying to get his bearing and climb out, immediately cowers away from him. "What do you want?"

Instead of saying a thing, Dave simply frowns and offers him a hand.

Kurt stares at it, his eyes fixated on it, as if the moment he decided to reach for it, Karofsky's going to push him back in and shut the lid or something. When nothing happens, Hummel's eyes turn up to look at Karofsky, who insistently pushes his hand out further. "Leave me alone," Hummel whispers, backing up against the wall of the dumpster. The fear that was etched across his face hit hard in a place Karofsky never knew existed. He knew people had been intimidated by him, but terrified? Utterly and completely scared? It wasn't something he wanted to pride himself on, no matter how much him and The Fury had done. Rolling his eyes, he simply grabs under Hummel's underarms and lifts him out of the dumpster with ease.

When Hummel's feet are back on the pavement, the smaller boy still staring at him in a mix of terror and amazement, Karofsky chooses that moment to walk away. Because no matter what he does or what he says to Hummel, nothing will ever take back the person he was before.

Banging furiously on the vending machine, Kurt swears low under his breath, already realizing how much he misses Dalton Academy. The people with class that weren't half-wits, the pristine uniform he had to give back, the tolerance, Blaine… It sucked being back here at McKinley, he wasn't going to lie about that. But if he attended Dalton for another semester, his dad and Carole would've had to pay out of their pockets, and Dalton was a bit out of their price range. As much as he loved it, he couldn't very well ask them to do that.

"Did that vending machine run over your puppy or something…" a voice says from behind him. He turns around to find Mercedes, her eyebrow raised and a questioning look on her face. Considering that it was a look she wore a lot, it was a look that she wore well. He smiles at her before giving the machine another smack. His energy drink comes flying out with a clatter. Popping the top and taking a sip, he makes a face, because he knows that they're disgusting and just sugar in a can. But after his encounter with the entire defensive line of the football team, the coffee he had this morning isn't enough and he's left feeling drained. Not to mention the fact the Karofsky - Dave Karofsky, Karofsky who threw himself at Kurt and threatened to kill him and did all sorts of weird shit like that - was suddenly acting chivalrous. It was too much for just one cup of coffee to bear.

Mercedes is talking about an argument she had last week in glee club with Rachel when the latter decided to insult her talent. Kurt's only been back for about two hours, and yet Mercedes has managed to catch him up on everything he's missed. He smiles back at her, suddenly realizing how much he fucking missed her.

With a wave and a reminder about rehearsal later, Mercedes heads into the girls' locker room. Wandering aimlessly in the last few minutes before class, Kurt pulls out his phone, seeing that he has a new text from Blaine.

It's strange – or at least he thinks it should be strange – how Blaine didn't seem too upset that Kurt was transferring back to McKinley. Not that he wanted sobbing or screaming or tantrums, but just some sort of emotion would've been nice. When Kurt had told him… Blaine had seemed almost – indifferent. He said that he was going to visit McKinley a lot, and that Kurt could still come and spend some time at Dalton… but nothing emotional…

"miss you and your beautiful voice. wish you were here with me now. xoxoxo"

Kurt smiles, shaking his head. He can get past the fact that Blaine wasn't bawling when he left, because it's clear through this text that Blaine does miss him. Even from the beginning of it all, when Kurt wasn't even at Dalton, he knew Blaine had cared.

Pocketing his phone, Kurt walks into his next class – art history. It's not a class he's really thrilled about, seeing that he really would've rather taken music history. Of course, he didn't really have a choice as a transfer, so he was put into this for his visual arts requirement. Approaching the front table, he grabs a syllabus and looks down at the seating chart. Browsing it, he sees tables of two, arranged by last name. Okay, not that bad. He sees Chang and Cohen-Chang, along with Evans and Fabrey, both sitting together in the front of the room, which makes him feel a bit better. He's already trying to think of possible people that he could be stuck with when he sees it.

Table #6. Hummel, Kurt. Karofsky, David.

Well… that feeling didn't last long.

Dave's been on edge ever since the situation in front the dumpster, jumping at the sound of a locker slamming or door closing. Every time, he's afraid that it's Azimio coming to check up on him or it's Kurt coming to give him those terrified eyes again. At this point, he's not sure which one is worse.

Never mind that, he does know what's worse. Having to sit with Hummel at an awkwardly small, trapezoid shaped table in Art History from the rest of the semester. That's equally comparable to ritualistic death or something. Because not only is Art History the one class he was forced to take before graduating, or because he hates any form of history, or because it's given by one of the strangest teachers in the school… but because every single day he would spend it next to Hummel.

When Hummel finally walks in, he doesn't see Dave, but goes straight for the seating chart. Eventually, he finds out and looks up to see Dave, who pretends to busy himself with a pencil – because clearly that is the most believable thing he can figure out at this moment. Taking slowly deliberate steps, Hummel makes his way back to the table, hugging his syllabus to his chest like some sort of security blanket. When he finally gets there, pulls his chair as far away from Dave as possible, and sits on the edge of it.

"For the love of god. I'm not going to try to fucking jump you or anything…" Dave mutters under his breath.

As if something exploded within Hummel, he whirls around on his chair, his face sharp with anger. "Excuse me?" he hisses, crossing his arms angrily. If it wasn't so dramatically clichéd, Dave might've thought that it was slightly endearing.

In a burst of movement, their teacher rushes into the room, rattling off some excuse about clogged toilets and dead birds and… yeah, Dave was right about her from the start. Her name is written on the board in almost illegible writing due to it immense loopiness. Leaning back in his chair, he thinks that if the teacher is this much of a crackpot, maybe the class won't be that bad. But before he even has a chance to relax, she starts talking again. "The majority of your time in this class will be spent on a final project. You will work in partners on a theme of my choosing. No switching partners, no changing topics, nothing. This will count for half of your final grade in the class."

Looking around the room, Dave realizes that there is not one person in here he would be willing to spend that much fucking time with.

"Cohen-Chang and Chang. Contemporary Asian influence on American Art." Karofsky jumps slightly, as he figures out they're being paired up already. "Evans and Fabre. The rise of athleticism in art in the 20th century." From the way it's going, Karofsky already has a sinking feeling in his stomach about what is about to happen next.

"Hummel and Karofsky." Dave sense Hummel go rigid next to him, and he can't help but tell himself that he's not really excited either. "The use of homosexuality in photography." As the soft chorus of snickers lights up the room, Dave hears Kurt swear loudly under his breath, which isn't that kind of against the whole point of it being under your breath? Slowly, Dave turns to Hummel, whose expression mirrored the exact way he was currently feeling.

This was going to be one fucking long semester.

The strange thing is that, Kurt can't figure out what's upsetting him more: the fact he has to spend all semester inside school AND outside school with Dave Karofsky, or the fact that his art history teacher just shamelessly typecast the two of them. Because he already knows that working with Karofsky is going to be horrible; he knew that just seeing him was going to be horrible. Karofsky was a kid who got his kicks out of making Kurt's life a disaster.

Jocks – even ex-closeted ones - and the stereotypical fag weren't supposed to mesh. It was just laws of the universe.

And no matter how much that his mind tries to tell himself that maybe Karofsky changed while he was over at Dalton, maybe all those things that happened before were just some horrible way of Karofsky taking out his misguided feelings…

Maybe he's not such a bad guy after all.

Kurt feels the laugh behind his lips at that thought. Before the episode in the locker room, Karofsky was the one always tossing him into dumpster and throwing slushies at him. There had been no change of heart, because there was no heart inside him. Dave Karofsky was and always would be a bully in Kurt's mind. But when he goes to his locker and finds a yellow post-it on it, with d. karofsky. 455.987.3209. scribbled on it, he pauses. Here, while he was thinking and mentally preparing himself that he was going to be doing all the work for the project…

Putting the note into his pocket, that same recurring thought pops up in his head. He shoves it back down like he shoves the note into his pocket.

He meets Blaine later that afternoon at the coffee shop right outside of the Academy, giving him a quick kiss and a squeeze of the hand. "So how's everything? Everyone?" he asks, a smile lighting up his face.

Blaine's eyes light up immediately in the way they hadn't when Kurt had walked in, gushing about the Warblers and new ideas for Nationals, and everything Kurt missed about Dalton. It makes Kurt smile for a moment, because this is honestly what he loves about Blaine – the way he gets so excited about the smallest things, but slowly the smile fades, just leaving him with a small, aching pit in the center of his chest. To think of all the conversations that Kurt is going to miss out on, all the chances to be there with Blaine, all the adventures and laughs they had shared.

All the guys that could stake him out now…

Kurt glances at his cell phone, seeing that Blaine has been talking for the past hour and half. His latte's cold now, and he can't even remember how Blaine managed to get on the topic of Regionals 2008. Finally Blaine asked how his day back at McKinley was.

Startled a bit, coming out of a daze, Kurt blinks. "I. Uh." His mind immediately jumps to Karofsky, which he forces himself to forget. "It was like always," he mutters wistfully, faking a smile.

As the two of them walk out side, Blaine throws an arm around his shoulder, pulling him close and kissing his cheek. "I told you it would all work out." Kurt nods slightly, wishing he could agree with him.

Dave's surfing the web in between while doing trig problems, procrastinating even longer than necessary, hoping that by staying on a new email from extraordinary will pop up in his inbox. Staring at the screen, willing a new message to show is when his cell phone lights up displaying Number Unknown on the screen.


At first, there's nothing but silence. He considers hanging up, but as he's about to press the 'end' button, the person on the other end clears his throat. "Uh, Karofsky?"

He should've known. It's Hummel, sounding terrified as ever.

"Oh, hey," he responds as casually as humanly possible, which is actually harder than he imagined. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he sighs, already beginning to understand how much this project is going to suck. His whole body hurts from conditioning this afternoon, and at this point, all he wants to do is curl up under his blankets and sleep. When Hummel doesn't say anything in response, he rolls onto his back and tries to make conversation. "So…"

"Since you made the effort to seek me out, you're not allowed to slack on this project…" Hummel snaps abruptly, and for a minute, Dave's a bit put off. "I don't have the time to put in hours upon hours of boring research on a subject I couldn't care less about. No thank you…"

"Okay, fine. I never said that was going to happen." He hears Hummel grumble on the other end. Which is when it hits him that he's actually carrying on a real conversation with Hummel. Like civilized people. He thought of that as progress. "When do we want to start all this boring research you're referring to?" Even thought they have an entire semester, Dave kind of wants to get this done as soon as possible. The less awkwardness he has to enjoy with Hummel, the better.

As Hummel rattles off how many Glee club rehearsals he has every single day, Dave yawns. This project is going to kick his ass, and if it doesn't, he can think of a few of his friends who will for all the time he's going to be spending with Kurt. "Tomorrow night at the library good for you?" he eventually interrupts. Hummel makes a small noise in response, sounding a bit like annoyance and boredom. Another thing in common – with the way this conversation was going, the two of them would be best friends in no time.

Fuck, Dave really hoped that wasn't the case.

"Sure, sounds great," Hummel says, sounding like it's anything but. "Don't back out on this project, Karofsky," he warns again, but this time his voice isn't nearly as angry as it had sounded before; this time it just sounds tired. Dave's never been a really perceptive person, but all he can picture right now is Hummel leaning up against a wall, phone cradled between his shoulder and ear and running a hand through his hair frustratedly.

Groaning, Dave props himself up on his elbows. "Fuck, Hummel, what do I have to do to show you that I'm-"

"'Not that bad of a guy?'" Kurt laughs bitterly. A beat of silence passes between them. "It's too late for that," he says softly, and Dave can't think of a response to say before all he can hear is the dial tone.

Hi! Thanks to everyone who (may) have participated in the poll on my account. I was planning on using one of those stories for my first multi-chapter fic, but I completely forget about this one, which I had the first chapter sitting on my hard drive...

Anyways, feedback is love. More feedback leads to me being happier, which makes me want to write more... :D :D :D