A/N: This is what happens when I'm bored at work & trying to keep my mind occupied so it doesn't dribble out of my ears. This is pretty much crack. I tried to make it make sense. (And apparently, I did my job correctly & you may have to re-read it to fully understand what's going on.)

Set after "Duets"

It's been a long week. Hell, it's been a long year, if he's being completely honest with himself, and Kurt does try to be completely honest with himself, at least. Because who else is he able to be completely honest with? So, it's been a long year, but this past week has been especially brutal to him.

Taking care of his dad, making sure his dad takes care of himself, is a full-time job in itself, and it's stressful and mildly terrifying to see his dad still so weak. Kurt's not sure which is worse, that his dad is starting to act like he's recovered and trying to be more physical and get back into something resembling his normal routine, or before that, when his dad was so obviously weak and tired he didn't even try to put on a front, not even in front of Kurt. He always tried to shield Kurt from the really scary stuff, and Kurt knows his dad realized how scary this was for him.

Then, there was glee club, and their duets competition. Again, if he is being completely honest, he hadn't really expected to win. You can't win a duet when it's just yourself on stage performing. But he'd given it his all anyway, because what else could he do? It wasn't so much the solo duet that bothered him-because if anyone could rock Le Jazz Hot, it was him-it was the fact that Finn had seemed to have such a problem with him partnering with Sam. And while Finn had couched his argument in terms of keeping Sam in the group, Kurt couldn't help but think a part of it was still that Finn wasn't comfortable with his sexuality.

You don't understand that no means no. Of course he understands that! It wasn't like he'd been trying to kiss Finn or grope him or anything, ever! He just has a forceful personality, sometimes. Maybe he'd flirted with Finn a little bit, but never with the idea that it would actually go anywhere. He'd hoped, of course, and there had been a few fantasies about it... but in the end, Finn was hopelessly straight, and out of Kurt's reach. But, he'd continued pursuing Finn, partly because by that point, even realizing that it would never happen, he hadn't really known what else to do, how to stop.

And Finn had never said no! He'd never told Kurt, "Stop, I'll never like you like that." He might have hinted - complete honesty, again, he might have hinted strongly - but he'd never come out and said it. Because if he had -

Kurt's shoulders slump as he thinks about it. He probably would have tried to prove Finn wrong. Changed tactics, but continued the chase.

Regardless! Finn had no right to tell him to back off from performing with Sam, a perfectly legitimate action and completely harmless, especially when Sam himself seemed to have no problem with it. Even if Sam was straight (and dyed his hair, because there's no way that color came from nature), he didn't seem bothered by Kurt's rather flamboyant and boisterous nature, and he might have become another good friend of Kurt's. It isn't like he has people lining around the building clamoring to associate with him. If he isn't just ignored, quite often he's treated like a communicable disease. He can count the number of people whom he can genuinely call friends on one hand, and they are all girls. While Rachel's words had helped - that's 12 people who love you for being just exactly the way you are - it only eased the ache of loneliness a little, and not for long.

Now, he finds himself sitting in the Lima Bean, alone at a small table, nursing a latte and, if he's being completely honest with himself, wallowing in sadness.

"Do you mind?"

Kurt glances up even as the unknown speaker pulls out the chair opposite him and sits down, trim legs encased in charcoal gray designer slacks crossing at the knee while he sets his own drink cup down on the table. He reaches up with his thumb and brushes a stray piece of hair off his forehead, and Kurt can't help but stare in shock and confusion. Pale blue eyes steadily gaze back as the man smiles.

"I've seen you here before," the man says casually, before taking a sip of his drink. "This is obviously the first time I've decided to approach you, and that's just because-" he shrugs and gives a small smile. "Well, my companion's still ordering his drink, and I think he wanted to have a private chat with someone, as well, so I thought now would be a good opportunity." He glances down at his cup, and Kurt gets the feeling he's doing it more to give Kurt privacy than any sort of shyness on his part. "Besides... you looked lonely."

Kurt bristles a little. It doesn't matter who this man is, or how much he resembles the person Kurt sees every morning, he's not going to admit his inner feelings to a stranger. (Even if he's no stranger at all.) "I assure you, I'm not," Kurt says haughtily. "It's perfectly acceptable to enjoy a cup of coffee by oneself."

The other raises an amused eyebrow and smirks at him slightly. "Very true," he finally concedes. But then he leans forward and gives Kurt an intense look that pierces straight through him. "But I know you're lonely. Believe me, I re- I know what it's like." He shrugs and backs off a little, glancing to the side and reigning himself in, giving Kurt a chance to regroup after that soul-reaching gaze, for which Kurt is thankful.

"It's not bad to want things, you know. Or to pursue them, even." The man's voice is back to casual, and he's looking almost everywhere but Kurt, from his coffee cup, to surveying the other patrons of the Lima Bean, then glancing out the large front windows. But that's his only hint of restlessness, and the rest of his body is relaxed, so Kurt thinks he is doing it more to help keep him relaxed than anything else. Considering the subject matter, Kurt's not sure that's possible, but he appreciates the other's effort. "You just have to remember to temper your want-a little, at least. People get scared if you're too forceful." Then the man rolls his eyes. "Of course, you could be as subtle as a brick to the head and some people still wouldn't notice." There's a smile tugging at the edges of his lips as he says this, though, and Kurt thinks it's some sort of inside joke and that the man isn't quite serious.

Kurt has to take a swallow of his rapidly cooling latte to wet his throat before speaking. Even then, his voice comes out soft and hoarse. "Why... why are you telling me this?"

The older man looks at him briefly before glancing away and shifting slightly, and this time Kurt thinks it is because he is uncomfortable. "It's not that I think you should change," he murmurs, "because that's the last thing you should do. But... you know your attitude can push people away. You've thought it before," he adds strongly when Kurt is about to protest. "Sometimes you even do it on purpose. You need to let others get close to you, or you'll always be alone."

It's Kurt's turn to look away uncomfortably, but he makes it look like he's angry, folding his arms defensively across his chest. His voice doesn't sound angry though - it sounds scared. "People hurt you when you let them get close."

The other man sighs, and Kurt almost winces at the awful sadness he hears in it. "I'm not going to tell you that you won't get hurt. Because you will. But..." When he trails off, Kurt glances over to see him chewing on his lower lip and looking into the crowd of the coffee shop, but more intently than he'd done earlier, like he's searching for something. Suddenly he leans forward and speaks in a hushed voice, his words coming more urgently than before.

"There's going to be a boy. You're gonna fall head-over-heels for him, and the best part is, he's gonna feel the same. You're going to become best friends... and he's going to break your heart." The man doesn't seem very upset about what he's saying. "It's going to hurt, a lot - there'll be tears, and your friends trying to cheer you up with pizza and ice cream and musicals." He smiles then, something soft and sweet, and the look on his face reminds Kurt with a jolt that he knows this man, because he recognizes the look. "But it will be so worth it, Kurt. Trust me."

He leans back then, and takes a drink of his coffee, which reminds Kurt to drink his own, which is now all but too cold. "It's going to be a while yet," he warns casually, and Kurt knows it's a warning, despite the other's relaxed tone and posture. "But it'll happen. Everything will work out." He adopts a self-pleased, smug expression that Kurt is quite familiar with. "Just don't give up."

Kurt is so focused on the other that he doesn't realize anyone is approaching until they stop at the man's shoulder. "Hey, Kurt."

Kurt looks up, startled that this stranger knows his name. But then the new man touches the first's shoulder with his fingertips, and something in the gesture, as well as the casual glance the two share, seems so terribly intimate.

"You ready to go?" The first man nods, and as he gathers his cup and stands up, Kurt stares at the new man, wondering if their relationship is really what he thinks. He's solidly built, sort of like Finn's athletic body, only shorter, a little more compact. He's got his winter coat open and Kurt can see a well-tailored - very well-tailored - designer suit, with a black silk shirt and red tie. He has warm brown eyes, and short black hair that seems to want desperately to curl into ringlets, if only he'd grow it out a little.

And then he's looking at Kurt, and smiling in a warm, friendly way, and Kurt's positive he's blushing, which is just so unattractive on him. He notices the new man is shorter than his companion, just as the new man leans forward slightly to rap lightly on the table with his knuckles. He's still giving him that small, friendly smile, and says, "You take care of yourself, okay?"

He's staring directly into Kurt's eyes, and his voice is soft and concerned and... intimate, and Kurt's breath catches in his throat, and all he can do at first is nod, before finally answering with a breathy, "Yeah. I will."

The dark-haired man's smile grows into a cheerful grin before he turns back to his companion. Kurt watches as they start to walk off, shoulders brushing as they move- -

and then the first man turns his head over his shoulder, locks eyes with Kurt - and winks.

Almost a month later, when Kurt is fed up with everyone dismissing him and belittling him, bullying him and pushing him around, he visits a private school and spies on a rival glee club. And over coffee, he talks about bullying with another boy who understands, who really gets it. He can't help but notice Blaine's warm hazel-brown eyes, or the fact that despite all the product used to slick it down, his black hair looks like it might be curly.

And a little while after that, when he gets a text in the middle of glee practice saying just one word - courage - Kurt smiles, and can't help thinking of another message he'd been given. Don't give up. It will be so worth it.