Story: Once a Hero (Enough)

Fandom: Glee
Author: ibshafer
Rating: PG-13

Word Count: 3108
Character: Kurt/Blaine, Dave, Azimio, Strando, sundry members of the McKinley High student body…

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: When Kurt comes back to McKinley with Blaine, he finds an unlikely ally…

Warning: Up to 2x16; for this story, Blaine comes to McKinley when Kurt does

A/N: Just a warning – this is not a "Klaine" fic. They're together and they're happy about it, but I haven't gone over to the da…er, I mean, the "light" side, folks. I'm still a Pirate through and through. This was just an idea that the muse offered me and as I've said before, she's never steered me wrong before, so if she's offeringI'm taking. This story is just another take on what could happen when the boys show up at McKinley …and it's a chance for me to offer a different avenue to redemption for Dave…

Feedback: Positive or constructive feedback gratefully accepted; flames cheerfully ignored (or reported, depending on where you're reading this…); no negative talk of 'ships or character bashing will be entertained here. You know "what" I am – I'll respect you if you respect me. ~thx, ibs!

Once a Hero (Enough)

~ ibshafer

The bank of lockers was cold behind them, locks and vents jabbing painfully at odd angles through their thin cotton couture and into the tender flesh of their backs, backs that until recently would have been protected by heavy woolen blazers and crisp white shirts.

Blaine was holding his hand tightly, so tight he could feel his fingertips beginning to throb, but he couldn't have pulled away even if he'd wanted to.

Blaine was the only thing holding him up.

"Well, lookie what we have here," Azimio sneered, one arm braced above Kurt's head, leaning in so close Kurt could smell the weed Az'd smoked on the way in to school. "Why, I do believe the prodigal homo has returned…" He grinned to the right where Strando stood fingering the lid of a large cup of frozen torture. "And he's brought a friend back with him. What do you think, Strando?"

Beefy face contorting obscenely, Strando scratched his belly with his free hand. "Well, I don't know, Az, but he looks like more than a friend to me." Done exploring the depths of Strando's belly, the free hand waved to where Blaine had Kurt's fingers threaded fast through his. He squinted at his partner in crime. "What – you don't think they're cute?"

Azimio laughed now, looking both boys up and down, taking in the color-coordinated outfits that had seemed like such a good idea on the phone last night. "Nope… 'Cute' is not the word I would use…" He tugged at Blaine's silk scarf, tightening it where it looped around the boy's pale neck. "They look like models, don't they, Stran'?" Strando nodded his porky head up and down, blond curls bobbing in time. "You know what they say about boy models, don't you?"

"Please, guys… W-we're…not models…" Blaine's stutter broke Kurt's heart – he'd never heard the fierce Mr. Anderson intimidated by anyone and he was clearly so intimidated now he was missing the point of the shake down.

Ssssh, sweetie, they don't really think we're models…

Kurt squeezed Blaine's hand harder, willing him to stop talking. The sooner the assholes dumped those Slushies on them (Azimio had one, too, in his other hand), the sooner the two bullies would move on (Kurt wondered vaguely where his personal bully was today), then they could get cleaned up and get on with their day.

Where was that other asshole?

Azimio gave Blaine his best who-the-fuck-said-you-could-talk look, then continued. "Um, are you Strando?" He shook his big round head heavily. "No, you are not." He sighed, seemed to compose himself, and went on. "I was going to say that I heard that all boy models are gay. Is that right? Are you boys homosexuals?"

Kurt had to fight to keep his breakfast mochachino down when Blaine opened his mouth to respond. "Now, you both know the answer to that question," he said gamely. He raised his and Kurt's clasped hands out in front of them – only for a second; Kurt pulled them back so hard they slammed into the lockers with a metallic rattle, inspiring a giggle from the behemoth in front of them.

"Are you crazy?" he whispered sotto voce to his boyfriend, but his boyfriend and chosen this moment to imprudently find his fierce.

"Clearly, we look like homosexuals – and we are." He grinned, which was bad. Very bad. Grinning in the face of an Azimio charge was like waving a red flag in front of a bull, but Blaine clearly hadn't read that page of the McKinley New Transfer Orientation Manual, because he just kept talking, even when Kurt jabbed him in the ribs with an elbow. "Are you two what you look like?" He leaned forward and Kurt almost threw his free hand over Blaine's mouth because he knew where this was going.

And Azimio, too, must have been enjoying this, because rather than stomp Blaine into the worn linoleum, he humored him in his line of questioning.

"Well, I don't know, Pretty," he said, teeth wide and gleaming in the hallway light. "What do we look like to you?"

Kurt couldn't keep his mouth shut a second longer; ditching his plan to let all this happen quickly so it would go away quickly, he launched immediately into Plan Z...

"Ha, ha, ha!" Kurt guffawed, laughing his best theatrical laugh. "Blaine's just playing, guys! Aren't you, Blaine?" He pulled at his boyfriend's sleeve now, nails digging into the hard flesh beneath, willing him to just shut up now!

It only took him a nano-second to realize Plan Z was a bust.

Both boys – his beloved Blaine and the round-faced and sweating hulk known as Azimio – responded to him at the same time…

"I'm not playing, Kurt."

"Wait – did you say his name was 'Blaine!'"

But it was Strando who picked up that disastrous forgotten thread and pulled – hard.

"What do we look like, Blaine," he asked, breathing out the name like an insult, his whole body snearing, hand cocked and ready to fire, cup at the ready. Kurt had clearly underestimated Strando – he was smarter than he looked.

What happened next seemed to play out in slow motion…

Kurt grabbed his boyfriend by the arm, hand frantically slamming over his mouth too late to stop the word "assholes" from being uttered.

Azimio's eyes flew open wide, eyebrows making a run for his hair line, jaw dropping into the collar of his jacket, the hand without the cup pulling back to make ready to bury itself in Blaine's flawless face – all this while Strando was raising his cup high enough to douse them both simultaneously (maximum slushy coverage) and…

…and a big body barreling from out of no where, pushing both Azimio and Strando out of the way at once, sending them flying across the hall, Slushy cups spinning above them, splattering the cup's bearers instead of their targets.

And in the middle of the melee…Dave Karofsky.

Azimio rose first, sputtering, clearly stunned and not sure who to lunge at first.

"What the fuck, man!" he shouted at Karofsky, choosing last offense first. "And where the hell were you? I told you to meet us at the 7-11 at 7:30." He flinched as melting Slushy ran into his eye. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

Karofsky, for his part, was doing this dodge-and-weave thing in the middle of the hall; after his big play, he seemed unsure what to do next, as though he hadn't thought whatever this was through all the way. And then he looked over at them, at him and Blaine, hands clasped together again and chins held a little higher now, and his resolve seemed to gather itself.

Kurt didn't know what to make of Karofsky; what his angle was, what his next move would be; what had motivated him to stop what had been about to happen. Whatever it was, though, Kurt couldn't suppress the reluctant wave of gratitude welling up from his gut; if Karofsky hadn't stopped them, there'd be more than melting Slushy on the floor right now.

He wasn't prepared to say anything, didn't know what he would say, but it looked like it wasn't his turn to speak yet, anyway…

Azimio made his move, grabbing Karofsky by the lapels of his letterman jacket and shaking him hard. "What's going on with you, man! And where do you get off—"

In a move so quick Kurt barely saw it, so quick it surprised him someone that big could move that fast, Karofsky brought his arms up between them and Azimio was sprawled on the floor again, this time in a puddle of melting red and blue Slushy.

"Enough!" Karofsky's shout was so loud that the hallway immediately fell silent and those not already spectating the confrontation, stopped dead in their tracks.

Yelling as Strando pulled him to his feet, he went after Karofsky, fists first. "What'd you say, man? You think you tell me what to do?" Azimio had a lot of weight behind him and he threw all of it at Karofsky as he came at him.

Only to be stopped by the equal force of Karofsky's apparent and incomprehensible fury. Catching Az, incredibly, by the fists and shoving straight ahead with what looked to be every ounce of his strength, he pushed Az clear across the hall and into the lockers on the far wall.

"I said ENOUGH!"

Karofsky stood, chest heaving and fists at the ready, prepared for Az or Strando to come at him again.

Strando was standing with his back towards the wall, a look of utter shock and confusion on his face. As for Az, as much as he clearly wanted to beat his "boy" to a pulp, he must have decided he was only going to get the talking part of this altercation done from the other side of the room.

His disgust – with Karofsky, with Kurt and Blaine – was evident on his face.

"What the fuck are you talking about? 'Enough' what," he spat. "And why didn't you meet us to get armed this morning. We talked about this last night." He wiped at a drip of red that was running down his neck. "I don't know what's going on with you, boy, but you better get with the program – and fast."

"Oh, yeah?" Karofsky just glared at his friend, jaw tight as a trap. "And what program is that, Az?"

Azimio just stared at him like he'd grown a third arm or something.

"What program? The program of keeping this school's losers in line, that's what program." He forced a grin and it was wide and kind of scary. "The same program we been running for the past two years." He looked around him, taking in the gathered crowd, some in McKinley red, most in school casual. "Keeping the halls of McKinley safe from the fags and the freaks, the losers," he said with a tight laugh.

Now it was Karofsky's turn to laugh.

"That's funny, Az," he said, looking around now himself. "The only loser I see is standing in a puddle of melting Slushy…"

Azimio's eyes flew open and he launched himself across the room only to be stopped by Strando before he could make it to Karofsky.

Strando had clearly seen what Kurt had: Karofsky was dead serious.

Kurt didn't know what to think. Part of him was angry they had to deal with Karofsky on their first day back, part of him knew he and Blaine would have been in trouble if they hadn't. The closet geek in him almost felt like Karofsky, with his puffed out chest and take-no-bullshit expression, the way he'd swooped in and saved the day before Blaine could add "broken nose" to his list of first-day experiences, almost seemed like some comic book hero. Like Superman or…or no, like Rage from the gay comic Justin and Michael had created on Queer as Folk

"Enough of this bullshit, you hear me," Karofsky grit out in the best unintentional impression of Clint Eastwood Kurt thought he'd ever hear. "No more Slushying people, no more harassing people in the hallway or the bathrooms or anywhere, you got that, asshole?" Azimio made to say something and Karofsky waved him off with a growl. "I'm fucking serious, Azimio! This stops today." He turned briefly, just enough to gesture to where Kurt and Blaine still stood, shocked and unable to react. "And if I hear you've laid so much as a finger on either of them, that you've said anything fucking stupid to them, that you've thrown anything at them or done anything to them, I will be on your ass so fast you will not know what happened to you."

Az was looking at him funny now and Kurt knew it was only a matter of time before those rusted wheels in his head made it to their inevitable conclusion.

Whatever insanity it was that had motivated Karofsky today, he clearly would not get away from here unscathed…

Suddenly a big grin broke out on Azimio's wide face.

"I think I know what all this is about now," he said, disgust creeping into his voice. "Now it all makes sense…" He worked his jaw against his own excitement, pacing in front of the lockers while Karofsky watched, scowl unchanged. "All this time, Dave. All this time…"

Kurt felt something cold twist in the pit of his stomach and couldn't fight the desperate feeling that something very wrong was about to happen here. And though he knew he only owed Karofsky gratitude for being spared Az and Strando's attack, he couldn't hold back the wave of pity welling up in him. Because even if this boy had tormented him for months and had made his life a living hell until he'd run for the safety of Dalton, even if this boy had stolen his first kiss from him and had had the audacity to try for his second, no one should have this moment decided for him.

He felt Blaine squeeze his hand tighter, saw the cautionary head shake in his peripheral vision, and knew what Blaine knew; there was nothing they could do for Karofsky that wouldn't make this moment even worse for him. So he bit his tongue and shook his boyfriend's clasped hand in frustration and watched.

Karofsky was either too caught up in the momentum of the oncoming train wreck, too stunned to step out of the way or even react, or he'd fallen so far over the edge that he didn't comprehend the magnitude of what was about to happen.

He stood stock still, his face a fearless grimace, as though he were daring Az to do it.

And Az…Az took the bait.

"You're one of them, aren't you," he asked with glee and there were several surprised gasps from the slower onlookers. He took a couple steps now towards Karofsky, sneer twisting his round face. "You like boys, don't you, Karofsky?" He was dancing now, a step closer, a couple steps farther, and Karofsky hadn't moved an inch. Kurt was frightened. He didn't know why Azimio wasn't. "That's what this is all about. You're a homo, dude, a fucking fag-"

It happened so fast, Kurt didn't even see Karofsky move, but in a split second, he had Az pinned against the lockers by this throat, one hand holding him fast there, his stoic calm still firmly in place.

"You think you own me? You think you control me because you figured me out, man?" He leaned closer and Kurt could see Az react to the proximity, to Karofsky's breath in his face, the revulsion evident, the prejudice and fear. "So fucking what." He leaned in closer, voice almost a whisper. "So fucking what."

He dropped his hand and stepped away and Az stumbled briefly; Karofsky had had him on his toes.

Karofsky went on as Az glared, chest heaving. He made to move towards Karofsky, hands rising to attack and Karofsky called his bluff, jumping in his face, leaning in on him.

"You really want to test this, man," Karofsky grunted under his breath. "You think I can't take you." His grimace turned now to a leer. "Or worse, aren't you worried that I'll get off on it?" His eyebrows flagged twice. "Wanna try it out?"

Backing away abruptly, looking green in spite of his skin tone, Az just shook his head and eyed Karofsky with disgust. "Just stay the fuck away from me, man, you hear that?"

"Not a problem," Karofsky said, eyes never leaving Azimio's. "I'll stay away from you – and you stay away from everyone else, you got that?"

"Or what, you and your gay army are gonna come and get me?"

Karofsky leaned in again, his voice a whisper and if it weren't for Kurt's scary-good hearing, he might have missed what everyone else, but Karofsky and Az, that is, heard.

"Or I might just have to tell someone about that hard drive full of kiddy porn you've got, buddy…"

Azimio's face went blank, then glowed red. He cast one more glance in Karofsky's direction, one more in theirs – it'd been so long, Kurt had thought they'd been forgotten – and then stalked off, trailing Strando behind him.

For a second, no one, including Karofsky moved, but then the bell for first period sounded and people started to disperse, most shaking their heads or whispering to each other. Kurt had no doubt that anyone who hadn't been here to witness this scene – and the Outing of Dave Karofsky – would surely know everything by third period.

Karofsky stood in the middle of the hallway for a second longer, letting everyone move around him, most giving him a wider berth than they might normally have, then he turned to head down the hall away from them without a word.

Two steps and he stopped with a shake of his head, backtracking as though he'd realized he was heading in the wrong direction.

Neither Kurt nor Blaine had moved an inch – Kurt had been holding his breath for most of it – and when Karofsky walked by, he paused for a split second and simply nodded at Kurt. It was brief, it would have meant nothing to anyone else, but to him it was a novella: an admission of guilt; an offering of apology; a statement of regret; a promise of support… In a second, it was over and Karofsky was looking at Blaine now. He saw a look pass between them, saw an almost imperceptible nod from Blaine, and then the big jock was moving on down the hall. Before he turned to look at him, Kurt could see Blaine's cheeks were flushed and his mouth opened as if he were responding to something with an awed "oh…" and then the expression was gone, replaced by utter relief, his shining grin driving the chill ache from Kurt's belly.

He was about to ask him what that had all been about, that strange brief look between them, his eyebrows narrowed, his lips poised to frame the question, but then Blaine was laughing, shaking his head and shrugging, dismissing the unasked question with a quick kiss on the lips.

And with that, they'd begun their first day together at McKinley.

Kurt wasn't sure what to expect from the coming weeks, but he knew two things:

Blaine's hand was warm in his and he could still feel the sweet press of his lips.

And Dave Karofsky, former tormentor and unlikely hero, might just have their back…

A/N – Can you guess what that look meant? ~ibs