Mug. Lid. Lid lid lid lid lid lid. Ahah. Got it. Sugar. Two spoons today. Coffee.
I forgot to come down here and turn on the coffee pot after I got up. I glance at the clock. I was already cutting it close and Santana wanted us to be seen together in our uniforms together, taking Kurt to his first class. It had been underlined on the email she had sent me with my schedule for the week.
"Stupid," I mutter, punching the button on the coffee pot, not sure if I mean Santana, the pot, or myself.
I am so insanely tempted to turn the coffee back off, tell my Dad that I don't feel good, text Santana that she's on her own with the campaign today, and crawl back into bed.
But I cannot blow off this calc test today, I don't have the extra time to schedule a make-up, and I can't think of anything to pretend to be sick with and then pretend to recover from in a couple of hours.
Plus I don't want to face Santana if I miss the first block of her "full security detail" on Kurt and leaving Team Gay together makes me nervous. Cause… he has to know about Santana. I mean…Santana…figured me out. They're all supposed to able to tell right? And even if Kurt doesn't know about Santana… he knows about me, what if he and Santana are good enough friends for him to warn her not to date me cause I'm…
I rub my forehead as the coffee pot finishes dripping through. I don't really think I have to worry about that. I'm… I'm pretty sure that as long as I just don't give him a reason, that Kurt won't say anything. I mean… why now? I'm really trying. How much would he have to gain by doing that?
A lot. He has a lot to gain. He had a lot to gain before he transferred, he had everything to gain when he wanted to transfer back, and he still didn't. He could have said it, right there in the office, either time, but he hadn't.
"Morning, David," my dad says, coming into the kitchen and doing exactly what I did when I got downstairs. He pulls a mug out of the cabinet, then digs around for the matching lid, grabs the sugar and then picks up the now full coffee pot and pours himself a cup.
He looks at me and tsks. "You're too young for coffee," he yawns.
"You say that every week," I yawn back.
"And you're only getting older," he says setting his mug down and getting the cream out of the fridge. "Junior Prom this weekend with your beautiful girlfriend, football champion, starting school clubs," he waves his mug over my stupid red jacket and hat. I can't even begin to imagine what kind of rage fueled haze of crazy Santana must have been in to thinks to herself "Red and shiny, with dorky hats. Neither of us will look gay in that!" I tug at my jacket before adding cream to my own mug and sticking the lid on.
"This is going to look great on your college applications, David. An essay and a recommendation from Figgins and you could probably make up for the whole expulsion issue. I know… it seems like you've hit a little bit of a rough patch this year. I hope you know I'm proud of the way you're bouncing back."
I don't want to talk about my "rough patch". I don't want to talk about pride. I shrug, grab my bag, grab my mug.
"I gotta get to school. Meet Santana."
"Hold onto this girl, David. She's doing you a lot of good."
I give him a smile, easier now after even just a few sips of coffee, grab my keys out of the drawer and head out for school.
Hang onto this girl, David, she's doing you good.
He's not wrong. Things really have gotten better since I started dating Santana. Acting like I'm dating Santana. Since Santana made me be her boyfriend.
I'm just as tired as before, but not as worried all the time. Mostly. And I do like her. I mean, I'm not stupid, I know that she's using me, and blackmailing me, and that pretty much everything she says to be is bossing me around. "Say this." "Do this." "Wear this stupid hat". But she makes it feel like a relief. It's like football. "Run here. Throw there." It's like the football team "Slushie him. Slushie her." It's like home. "Take this class. Try out for this team. Apply to this college."
Santana bossing me around just makes everything easier. It means there is a whole mess of stuff that I don't have to think about anymore. Like prom. I don't have to worry about finding a girl to take. I don't have to worry about… anything after. I mean, I'd stick out if I didn't go, and I've never had a girlfriend and without Santana, the whole thing would have been way too much. And now? Done. Santana ordered my tux and her corsage. She printed me out and itinerary for the whole week, complete with the times I was supposed to pick up the tux, the corsage, and her from her house, when our reservations at Breadstix were and what table I was supposed to demand. The hotel room she had gotten us. There was even a note about when we would be mentioning this hotel room, "loudly but discreetly" in front of Jacob Ben Israel, and an itemized list of expenses. I was paying for the tux and dinner, she was reimbursing me for the corsage, and we were apparently splitting the hotel room.
I didn't want to think about how many ways my dad would kill me for spending the night at a hotel with a girl, but Santana insisted that if we didn't get caught staying out then the whole thing was a waste, and it was probably easier to face my Dad than to face Santana. It was a very thorough and well thought out plan.
Way better thought out than Santana's Bullywhips thing. She's been out of the Cheerios way too long if she actually believes that protecting nerds, freaks and fa- and everyone on the bottom of the heap is actually going to get the people at this school to vote her prom queen. No one cares about those kids. And using the whole Bullywhips thing to get Hummel back to school? First off- he can't be such a good singer that it was worth all the effort of blackmailing and scheduling and walking around guarding the hallways like this just to get him back on their side for the stupid glee club's competition. And she can't possibly really believe that she is going to get any swagger if the glee club wins some silly competition that no one is even going to see.
When football wins it's an event. People pack the stands, the Cheerios perform. The score goes up on a big board point by point. Everybody sees you. This Glee thing is in a town that none of us here are ever going to see, on the other side of the country.
But she seems to really think that the Bullywhips will work, and that Kurt singing will work and that winning Nationals will work. And she is one of the two people in the world that can destroy my whole life with a word, and she wants me to protect the other.
I take a couple more deep gulps of my coffee, watching the clock on my dashboard and trying to finish it before school because we're not allowed to have it in class, and think to myself: No, actually Santana just wants to give the impression of protecting Kurt. Which is probably the thing that she thought about least when she strong-armed me into this stupid club and when she stepped the whole thing up from just wandering menacingly around the halls to being Kurt's "full security detail."
Now we all stick out. Now we're all targets, and now, if we left Kurt somewhere without one of us looming behind him, he's going to look like an easy shot. And I'm walking proof that you can do anything to Kurt and get away with it.
Both of them…both of them live in this safe little glee bubble. Yeah, they get slushied and they get made fun of and they used to get shoved into lockers (and when football season starts back up, they'll get shoved into lockers again), but… I really think that they don't know what people say about them. Well, Santana probably does, it's mostly basic stuff. She's a bitch. It's not like she doesn't know that. And Kurt's been… Kurt's been called things.
I've called Kurt things.
I've been awful to Kurt.
But, I don't think… he can't wear what he wears to school and talk the way he talks and… be the way he is and actually know the kinds of stuff that people say about him. There's just… no one could do that.
When I meet Santana at my locker, she already looks pissed, but she wipes if off for a second when I walk up to her.
"Morning, David," she says, talking loudly through a big fake smile and leaning in to kiss my cheek, which she telegraphs like crazy. She's all business when she pulls back.
"Okay, so Kurt was supposed to meet me here, but he blew us off and is sitting in History working on something. So, here is your walkie talkie."
"What is this for?"
"To make us look like an organized force," she says. "And to coordinate so that Kurt can't get away from us while we're trying to show people that we're protecting him. Talk loud when you talk into it."
I'm tempted to salute, but I don't want her to think I'm making fun of her.
"You got the copy of Kurt's schedule?"
"Did you memorize and destroy it?"
"Yes," I tell her, even though I didn't have time to memorize it and I'm pretty sure it's in my car somewhere.
"Great. Now take my arm, walk me to class, and smile."
"So… answer me this, cause it's a mystery to me," Azimio says, coming up behind me at lunch and startling me out of reviewing my notes as he drops into the next seat at the table, "Your girlfriend has got you walking that queermo around now? What in the hell do you think you're doing?"
I haven't really been hanging around Azimio much since the football championship, I've been working so hard trying to get my grades back up, and I've been working out, I need to make QB next year, I really don't have time for much. And …he's my best friend, but he's… he thinks high school is the only important thing in the world… and yeah- it's really important and it's going to feel like the only thing in the world until we graduate, but I need to go to college. I need to go to a great college and I need to get scholarships to go there so I can get a good job and not be a Lima Loser all my life. Plus if I ever…need to deal with this whole… with the thing that happened with Kurt, I can't do it in Ohio. I need options.
And Azimio… he is the person who is the most likely to convince me to get into trouble again. He's the one who always leads the slushie charge against the Glee kids. What we did to Artie was his idea. He was the one who laughed high fived me when… when I did those things to Kurt. He'd damn near clapped when… when I told him about the thing with the… with the cake topper. How I'd finally… how Hummel had actually looked scared that time. Like we'd, like I'd, just freaked the gay right out of him.
Like I had just scared him too much for him to fight back that time.
I shrug, "Damage control, dude."
"Damage control? Really? Cause you doing plenty of damage to us. Champions can't be walking around with Glee freaks and losers, singing and dancing about being freaks and losers."
I want to lie. I want to say something about Santana, about how I want to "get laid" after prom and how when Azimio is dating "the hottest piece of ass" in this school he can talk to me about damage control with her. I really want to say something about how there are more important things to do than torment half the grade just because we're big enough to.
I almost want to ask him why he actually cares about harassing the glee club, but I know my answer, and it makes me afraid of his.
And I am so tired.
"Look man, I got freaking expelled this year. I need to get into college, and that means," the only expression I can think of is kissing some ass… "that means I have to do things I don't want to. Okay? Just… don't make me stop you."
"Stop me?' he demands.
"I have too much to do to keep you from stealing guys pants, Azimio!" I snap.
Azimio holds his hands up in mock surrender and leaves me alone at my table with my books.
I look up when I'm sure that he's gone and catch a glimpse of red across the cafeteria as Santana drops down to eat with the Glee club. Rachel Berry is hunched over a book too. Kurt is smiling as he sets his head on Mercedes Jones's shoulder. Mike Chang is smiling at his goth girlfriend, who is putting something in his mouth.
I'm so jealous of Mike Chang that it makes me sick. He's on the football team, and he's a good player and he's in Glee club, and Brainiacs and he's dating some totally freaky vampire chick- and he hardly ever catches shit about it. And he doesn't hide any of it, and he doesn't fall for Azimio's crap like I do. I've never seen Mike Chang slushie anyone, I've never seen him get slushied. He just… he just does whatever he wants and gets left alone for it. I'd give anything for that.
He's got an amazing body too.
I push my fingers into my eyes until I see sparks. I need to concentrate. I need an A on this paper and I won't get that if I wait until Sunday to cram the whole thing in.
They've got Redbull in the vending machine in the locker room.
I wish I'd never let Azimio talk me into anything we had done to Hummel. I wish I'd just spent all of junior high and high school oblivious to him. Acting like he didn't exist. Wishing he didn't exist.
If he hadn't existed, Azimio and the other guys wouldn't have been out to get him. If they hadn't been out to get him, I would never have thought about what he is. If I never thought about what he is, I wouldn't have thought about what I am. I wouldn't have done anything I'd done, I wouldn't have gotten expelled. I wouldn't feel like this all the time. Like I just want to crawl into a hole somewhere.
And then there's part of me that just wants to put my forehead on his knees and cry. Beg him to tell me how he survived this. How he gets out of bed in the morning. How he can possibly flaunt himself all day without freaking out. How he deals with jackasses like me all day and can still have a picture of that pretty boy… of that guy in the jacket from that school in his locker where everyone can see it.
But I can't. Because he's the only person in this school who can help me, and he hates me, which is all on me, and the whole school hates him, and that's on me and Azimio.
I feel weird for being protective of Hummel. Like I feel like I owe him, but I have absolutely zero right to walk around with him.
It's a little like absolution though. Being able to give him a little bit of a break from everything the people in this school have been whispering about him. What's that called … overcompensating?
"Here we are. Third Period. French Class. I'm going to Calculus, so wait inside the classroom after the bell rings until I get back here to walk you to lunch," I repeat what Santana told me to say, but not nearly as loudly as she told me to say it.
"Have you noticed that no one has said boo to me this week?" Hummel asks me.
I almost feel like I can smile. Maybe Santana was right. It's working. "That's cause Bullywhips are protecting you."
"Maybe. But maybe nobody has been harassing me this week because nobody cares."
How? How does he do this? How far into that stupid glee bubble is he? How many stupid things did that gel-head he'd brought here from Homo-Hogwarts tell him?
"Okay, look I'm not saying that everyone in this school is ready to embrace the gay, but maybe at least they've evolved enough to be indifferent."
If I really wanted to protect him, I'd disillusion him. And I'm about to, when he keeps talking.
"I see how miserable you are, Dave. I could just hate you when you were bullying me, but now all see is your pain. And you don't have to torture yourself over this. I'm not saying you should come out tomorrow, but maybe soon, the moment will arise when you can."
I've got to get to calculus. I can't do this out here. I don't talk about this. I can't let him… I can't let him talk to me like this. Like he cares. It's like football, if you get hit and just try to walk it off, it doesn't hurt as much, it's only when they pull you off the field and you have to concentrate on it that it hurts. I can't let Kurt care, it's too much.
It's the way he says it that gets me. He almost sounds like my mom, and it breaks me.
"I'm so…" Scared. Lost. Desperate.
I could tell him.
If I ever really wanted to… to have this conversation with him, to let him help me…I could have that now. He… this poor tiny little thing that I've been torturing for years…. he'd… I can't ask him for that though. I can't. Not after…
"I'm so freaking sorry, Kurt. I'm just so sorry for what I did to you."
"I know. I know."
Stay on the field, Karofsky. Stay on the field everyone's watching.
"Cool. Thanks," I tell him, pulling myself back together before anyone sees us. Before Azimio appears out of nowhere and I get myself on the piss balloons, slushie target, port-a-potty-lockdown list. Before I look like I can't protect him and let someone pop his stupid bubble.
"Remember. You wait for me here, alright?"
I take off before he tries to say anything else to me. Before anyone sees us talking and thinks that I'm protecting him for any reason other than trying to get the beautiful and victoriously promiscuous Santana Lopez to fuck me.
I get most of the way to Calc before I realize that I'm not going to be able to hold myself together for the rest of the day. Not after that. Not with having to do the whole Prom dog and pony show tomorrow.
But I've got a test in Biology. I've got a paper to hand in for History. I'm still just hovering right below where my GPA was before this whole… before I started to think… before… before I realized I was gay and started taking it out on Kurt Hummel for absolutely no reason other than he was there.
I go to Calc, but excuse myself to go to the restroom after a couple minutes, then just stand at the sink splashing cold water on my face.
Prom is more fun than I was expecting it to be. Getting pictures taken over at Santana's is sort of fun. My parents can't stop commenting on how pretty Santana is when I bring her back to my house for pictures, which I enjoy on some weird level I don't want to think about.
We go to Breadstix, and sit far away from Rachel, Sam and Mercedes. Finn barely looks at me when he and Quinn walk in, which is better than it could have been.
With all of our campaigning out of the way, no security detail to organize, and doing pretty much the straightest thing we could be doing on this particular Saturday, Santana and I actually have a conversation instead of a war room session. It turns out that we like some of the same music and movies and we talk about that and we laugh and she makes me hold her hand on the table for a little while. That's what a real date is supposed to be like, right?
Even the dance is fun. Santana and I move between the dance floor and the buffet table, dancing for a while, hovering for a while. She seems to be enjoying herself, at least until we're out on the floor for a slow dance and she suddenly just deflates in my arms.
"What?" she asks, snapping her eyes up to me, her body stiffening back up.
"Yeah. Of course. Why wouldn't I be okay?"
"No reason. Sorry."
But then she turns me, forcefully and pretty far off the beat, so that we're facing opposite directions, and sets her head on my shoulder. Behind her, looking kind of adorable in her bright green dress and her tiny little hat, Brittany Pierce is dancing with some chick.
I set my hand on her back, rubbing it a little bit. Her head snaps back up.
"Don't wrinkle the dress," she hisses. "Come on, head in the game!"
We continue to turn and I catch sight of Kurt.
"Wait… Hummel came to Prom?"
"Yeah," Santana says, rolling her eyes in that way she does, where it looks like her face isn't big enough to contain her disdain for you. "That's why we stepped up his security detail, remember? It was in the email."
"I missed that part. Why would he come to Prom?"
"Because he has a date?"
"He brought his boyfriend. That's why we've been walking him everywhere all week."
And I see him too. The kid Kurt had been with at whatever glee club thing Azimio had been heckling a couple weeks ago. The kid in the picture in his locker. The other person who knows about me. The kid that had shoved me back.
"Why aren't we his security detail now?" I demand. Actually bringing a guy to Prom is way worse than walking around by himself in his stupid clothes.
"Because there are chaperones everywhere, including Coach Sylvester at her most paranoid," Santana sighs. "He's fine. He was stage one of the plan. Stage two is looking like a happy couple, so smile."
I plaster on a totally fake grin and run over what I would have done a couple months ago if I'd seen Hummel at Prom. With a guy. I think I might have actually hurt him. God, I hope I wouldn't have actually hurt him. I scope out the room as Santana continues to spin me. I'm the proof that you can hurt him and get away with it, I'm the one who has spent the entire week spelling out exactly when he's protected and when he's vulnerable all week. He doesn't hate me, he should but he doesn't. I feel like… I feel like he's kind of my responsibility.
But as Santana and I turn I see Finn. He's pretty obviously keeping an eye on Kurt as Kurt spins in front of… is that a skirt? Dammit Hummel!
And Sam is kind off to the other side, also with an eye out. A little ways away Puck's got his arm around the… Kurt's boyf- date. Kurt's date. And Sylvester is staring at Puck like she could burn holes in him if she tried hard enough.
Okay. Maybe Santana's right. Maybe he's fine.
I still check to make sure I can see him when a fight breaks out during his date's song. But he seems fine.
What if Kurt was right? Sam, Finn, Mike and Puck are all big guys, and they aren't exactly being subtle about the way one of them is always planted somewhere near Kurt, but they're still just glee guys. They don't have the reputation it takes to keep him safe. That's why Santana and I have been doing it. And Sam's an animal when he's mad, but it would only take a couple of guys to take him down.
But everyone's dancing. No one's even looking at him. Or his skirt. I can't help but wonder if part of that is that a couple of the football guys didn't have dates. Azimio's at home. Strando's at home.
I want to be at home too. But I don't get to go home until tomorrow morning. God, I hope Santana doesn't snore.
We go back and forth between the dance floor and the buffet table a few more times before Figgins finally walks onstage and takes the mic and calls the candidates up. I slap Santana on the back and she glares at me. Oops. Right. Not really a dating-this-girl gesture.
Getting elected King is… it's exciting. Kind of a relief until it sinks in. Santana will be happy, my Dad will be proud. My reputation is obviously fully intact. But then again… my reputation is obviously fully intact. And my reputation's been nothing but a burden all year.
Maybe if Santana wins Queen I can at least convince her to pay for her share at Breadstix. I mean, she did order the shrimp.
And then I hear the words "write in votes". Well, there goes making Santana happy.
Then the words "Kurt Hummel".
I feel someone dumped ice over me.
I didn't know about this. And if… if anyone should have… why didn't I know?
Because maybe my reputation isn't intact. Because maybe walking Hummel around all week… because maybe crying in a hallway… because maybe…
Or because being like Kurt makes you a Queen, but threatening someone like Kurt, hurting someone like Kurt… like Kurt and I… makes you a King.
What's that called… irony?
It's awful whatever it is.
Figgins points me toward the thrones off to the side, and somewhere in the haze I'm impressed with myself for making it down there without my legs going out from under me. I sink down into the throne once I get down there. Not sure what to do. The music doesn't start back up. The gym is eerily quiet for a couple minutes. It's weird. People aren't shouting, like they're proud of themselves, but they don't seem sad about it. I hear Jacob Ben Israel make some sort of cut off yelp noise and look over to see Puck holding him up against a wall while his girlfriend goes through his pockets. A little bit of chatter starts back up, buzzing in my ears, then silence spreads back out and I see Kurt walk up onto the stage. Figgins grimly sets the crown on Kurt's head, hands him the scepter.
Kurt looks pretty much how I feel. But he's back on the field. He stares down the entire school for a minute, then smiles.
"Eat your heart out Kate Middleton."
There's silence for a minute. Then Rachel Berry starts jumping and cheering, then Mike Chang's girlfriend. Then the rest of those fucking sheep that for some reason I'm so afraid of follow them.
And Figgins announces the King and Queen dance.
And he's standing up there alone. And he's standing up there vulnerable. And I owe him.
I make it up to the stage and we walk down, and I remind myself that it doesn't mean anything. I've been walking around with him all week. It doesn't look different this time.
"Now's your chance," he says.
"Come out. Make a difference."
I feel my heart stop beating. I feel every pair of eyes in the room drilling into me. I owe him this. After everything. I owe him. If I could do this… he wouldn't be the only one.
They'd all hate me too.
And I bolt. Off of the floor, out of the gym. All the way to my car. And I just sit there. Frozen. Wondering just how much a person can forgive another person before they can't anymore. Wondering just how much shit a person is willing to take before they take someone down with them. Hoping it's just a little bit more.
I jump when the passenger door opens, and Santana climbs in.
"Listen up cave man brow," she snarls, "This is your one and only chance. Were you behind what happened to Kurt?"
"Because if you tell me that you were, right now, I will quietly end our little partnership, and no one has to find out the truth about you. But I swear to god if I find out later that you had anything- absolutely anything to do with this- not only will I end you, but I will have the truth about you leaked absolutely everywhere. People who have never met you will be saying "Oh right. David Karofsky- the big gay football player. The big, dead, gay football player buried in a shallow grave in Lima Heights" got me?"
"I swear. I didn't know anything. I swear."
She relaxes, sinking back into her seat.
"Are we still going to the hotel?" I ask, since she hasn't told me what to do yet.
"About whether or not I want the glee club to think I slept with you, okay?"
"I can't believe you gave up Cheerios for Glee Club," I tell her. It might be the only honest thing I've ever told my dear girlfriend.
"Yeah, well Mr. Shuester never tries to shoot us out of cannons. You can't be popular if you're dead."
"I kind of hate being popular," I admit to her.
"Yeah. It did kind of suck," she says. She reaches across me, turns the key in the ignition, and turns on the radio. We listen to it for a little while.
"We're going to the hotel."
I don't resist, I just drive. Santana makes me carry her bag, she check us in, winking widely to the middle aged woman behind the counter. She changes in the bathroom, I change in the room. I'm under the covers by the time she gets out of the bathroom, and I'm asleep before she even gets across the room.