"Good morning," Kurt Hummel chirped, materializing next to his boyfriend's locker. It was late September, and school had been in session for only three weeks.
"Morning," Blaine Anderson replied tiredly. "I was up all night researching for a song to perform for you in glee club. I need coffee." He slammed his locker shut and gave Kurt a short, sweet kiss.
"Hey homos!" one of a group of eight jocks shouted. Azimio. "Get a room so we don't gotta look at'cha, 'kay?"
The two boys sighed and started to walk away.
"Hummel! Anderson!" Azimio continued. "Get yo' gay asses back here!"
"Z," Dave Karofsky warned, wearing his gleaming Bully Whips jacket and cherry-red beret. "Knock it off."
"Are you feeling okay, dude?" Azimio taunted to his best friend. He stepped toward Kurt and Blaine, cracking his knuckles. "Let's teach these faggots a lesson."
It happened so fast. Karofsky swung at Azimio, who stumbled backwards just in time. The students of William McKinley High School scurried away. Normally they would stay and watch a fight, but if it happened to be between two football players, they knew it was safer to leave the area.
"What the hell, man!" Azimio drawled. "Get those fags!"
Karofsky swung again, hitting Azimio in the side of the face and knocking him into the wall. All of the jocks stared at Karofsky in shock. Strando was the first to act; he jerked forward and pushed Kurt into the lockers.
Blaine snapped- he punched Strando in the stomach. The big, blond football player fell to the ground with the wind knocked out of him.
"Oh my God, Blaine!" Kurt exclaimed, not believing his eyes.
Karofsky met Kurt's gaze. The ex-bully looked at him apologetically. Kurt just looked away.
Finn Hudson and Sam Evans casually walked around the corner into the battle scene. They stopped in their tracks and stared down at Strando.
"What the…?" Sam looked up at Blaine.
"Let's get out of here," Finn said shortly. "Before we all get caught."
Blaine brushed some invisible dirt off of his jacket and started towards Spanish. All of the jocks, except for Karofsky, stepped away from him nervously. Strando scrambled up from the floor and darted to class. Kurt rolled his eyes and walked ahead.
"What did you to?" Sam asked Blaine with wide eyes. "We've never seen them act that way."
Blaine grinned smugly, but Kurt interjected. "I can't believe you did that!" he spat at his boyfriend. "Those guys could have killed you!"
"Kurt, I highly doubt a couple of ignorant football players are capable of murder," Blaine scoffed with a laugh.
"You know what I mean," Kurt snapped back. "You should have just walked away!"
"We already tried that," Blaine pointed out. "They threatened us, Kurt. I just want you to be safe!"
Finn and Sam stood off to the side awkwardly.
"I want you to be safe, too, but you aren't if you get in fights with the biggest guys in school!" Kurt shot back.
"Kurt, it's not a big deal," Finn said in Blaine's defense.
"Yes it is! It is to me! He's acting like an idiot!" Blaine stared at him, obviously hurt. Finn and Sam's eyes widened. Kurt immediately regretted what he said, but he didn't apologize. He held his head up defiantly and turned on his heel and strode away, leaving his boyfriend behind.
"Good morning, guys," Mr. Schuester walking into the choir room that Monday at third period. He set his bag down on the piano bench and faced the class. "I've got a lesson for you."
All of the students pretended to be uninterested, except for Rachel, who was practically falling out of her seat. Her boyfriend, Finn Hudson, put his hand on her shoulder to keep her from bouncing. Kurt was happily sandwiched between Rachel and Mercedes in the front. Blaine gazed at him with a frown from the second row, but Kurt pretended not to feel it. Santana was seated in Brittany's lap- but after a warning glance from Mr. Shue, she took her own seat.
"So? What's the lesson?" Quinn Fabray asked after a dramatic pause, her nasally voice impatient.
"'Unknown Songs by Known Artists,'" Mr. Shue stated. "You know: huge, famous artists, but their songs that never become singles. Never get the glory." He looked over at one of his newest students. "Blaine, you might have some trouble with this." Blaine's brow furrowed in confusion, causing his peers to giggle.
"I'd like to each of you to sing one of these songs," he continued. "Then I want you to write a report about why the song you chose is amazing, but never got famous."
"What!" Puck yelled. "A report! This sucks, Mr. Shue!" The other glee club members agreed and began to protest.
"I know, I know. Calm down. The school board wants all extra-curricular activities to teach a math or English lesson."
"Wait… what?" Artie Abrams asked, looking at Mr. Shue in disbelief.
"That is so stupid!" Santana announced, as if the other glee clubbers didn't know. "The Cheerios don't have to do this." She looked down at her bright red-and-white cheer uniform, regretting her decision to rejoin the squad. Quinn and Brittany were doing the same.
"Why are we being singled out again?" Tina Cohen-Chang asked, her voice trembling. She always was the emotional one.
"Principal Figgins just doesn't have faith in us," Mr. Shue said soberly.
"But the Cheerios didn't even place at their Regionals last year!" Mercedes pointed out. "We went all the way."
"It's not just the Cheerios getting the special treatment," a meek voice spoke up. It was Tony Cruise, a transfer student from Chicago. He was nerdy and shy, but really sweet, and could somehow keep up with Mercedes' diva attitude enough to be her boyfriend.
"Yeah, it's the Nessie Club, too," Brittany Pierce told the class.
"Uh, 'Nessie Club?'" Tina repeated.
"The Loch Ness Monster fan club, duh," Brittany replied with attitude. "Tony and I are in it. It totally rocks." She held her fist out to him, and he bumped it. When they broke apart, they waved their hands up and down, like an actual sea monster.
"But this doesn't even make sense, Mr. Schuester," Rachel continued. "You teach Spanish, not English. Wouldn't it be better to practice singing in Spanish instead?"
"Like 'You Know You Want Me' by Pitbull," Puck offered, winking at Lauren Zizes suggestively. She smirked back.
'Point for Puckerman," she announced.
Will ignored their comments like he always did. "I understand where you're coming from, guys. But as for right now, there isn't anything we can do but roll with the punches. On the positive side…" A sly smile grew on the teacher's face, "just think of how much all of this grammar practice will help our songwriting!"
His enthusiasm was met by glares from everyone.
"Hey, Cara," Sam Evans called down the hall after getting out of glee rehearsal. He jogged to catch up with the petite brunette.
"Yes?" she asked him, her hazel eyes boring into him curiously.
He lost all of his confidence in those eyes. He had known this girl for almost a month, but he still wasn't used to being under her spell.
Cara Anderson looked just like her older brother Blaine, if you subtracted a few inches and two years, of course. They had the same dark-lash- framed eyes, Kurt had once observed out loud, but they were different on Cara. Sam thought they were the most beautiful eyes in the world, and he could get lost in them for hours, without even feeling the time pass by.
Her hair was amazing, too. It was the same dark brown as her brother's, but the curls were looser. She usually kept it down, and it was nice and free, like Quinn's never was. Cara didn't need hairspray, and her shampoo smelled like strawberries. On some days, though, she pulled her hair back in a loose, messy bun. Sam loved that too, because it was easier it see her eyes with her bangs pushed to the side.
And her lips. They were perfect and pink and bow-shaped. Sam had never wanted to kiss a pair f lips so badly in his life- not even Quinn's. Sure, Quinn was pretty, but she was nothing in comparison to Cara. Sam had made a vow to Quinn last year to never stray and to never pressure her, but it just seemed like a game now. Quinn had cheated on him. He would promise the same to Cara, and she didn't even have to know. He would never forgive himself if he broke her heart.
Then he remembered he was supposed to be making conversation. "I… er… I was wondering what song you were planning to sing for Mr. Shue's assignment…?
A smile grew on her face, and those gorgeous eyes gleamed with interest. Sam's stomach fluttered. "I was thinking 'Someone Like You' by Adele,'"
Mercedes passed, but turned back once she heard their conversation. "Adele? Girl, she's like the biggest thing out right now. 'Someone Like You' was just released as a single."
"I know, you're right," Cara sighed into her hand. "I'm not very good at this. Blaine and I… we're both very Top 40."
"So we've heard," Mercedes muttered, receiving a questioning look from Cara.
"Just go through all of your favorite albums and pick out songs nobody would know unless they bought the whole thing," Sam suggested.
"That's kind of hard when all I have are singles," Cara admitted.
Sam paused to open his locker. He reached inside his backpack for his favorite CDs. He secretly kept them there so his parents wouldn't sell them. They could call it selfish, but the twangy sound of his favorite artists' voices reminded him of home. "Here," he said, handing the stack to Cara. "It's all country… pretty much the stuff I couldn't part with."
Mercedes gave him a sympathetic look as Cara flipped through the bunch. "Taylor Swift?" she snorted, recognizing the curly blond on the cover.
Sam blushed bright red. "Uh- I didn't know I still had that one," he stammered. Mercedes laughed at him noiselessly.
"No, don't be embarrassed!" Cara replied brightly. "I like Taylor. I think she's really cool."
"Cool," Sam echoed breathily.
They stood silently like that for a minute, just enjoying each other's company. Mercedes' knowing smile grew every second. The bell rang for lunch, and it was Cara's turn to blush. "I have to go," she said, breaking out of her daydream.
"I'll see you," Sam said, watching her walk away.
"See you," she called back with another cheerful smile, picking up her pace toward the cafeteria.
"You are so into her," Mercedes gushed with a smirk.
"What? I am not," Sam scoffed, still watching Cara until she turned corner. Mercedes stared at him in disbelief. "Okay, I kind of like her," he laughed bashfully.
"Then talk to her!" Mercedes commanded.
"I was trying until you showed up!" he yelled.
"Fine. You have a point. I promise I won't get involved," Mercedes lied.
"Good," Sam said slowly, not sure if she was telling the truth or not.
"Bye, Sam," Mercedes chirped, starting for lunch.
"Don't tell anybody!"
"Hi, Cara," greeted Rachel Berry, slamming her lunch tray down next to the Sophomore. Mercedes and Kurt took the spots across from them.
"Hi, guys!" Cara replied cheerfully, pulling her ear buds out from under her hair.
""What are you listening to?" Rachel asked enthusiastically.
"The CDs Sam gave me."
"On your iPod?" Mercedes questioned.
"I sneak my laptop into school everyday, so I just imported the CDs and synched my iPod in a minute."
"Let's cut to the chase," Rachel began, flipping her stick-straight brown hair over he shoulder. "Do you like any boys at this school?"
"No, I don't think so…"
"What about Sam?" Kurt suggested.
The younger girl turned bright red. "Oh. Yeah. A little."
"Great!" Mercedes cheered.
"Because he likes you," Kurt said slowly. Cara didn't have time to respond.
"Who likes Cara?" Blaine asked casually, taking the spot next to Kurt.
"Nobody," Rachel said quickly.
"What are you guys planning to sing for the assignment?" Blaine changed the subject. Kurt didn't look at him. He just angrily stabbed at the stubborn kale in his salad.
"Barbara Streisand, obviously," Rachel laughed.
"Good luck finding a Barbara Streisand song that's unknown," Mercedes commented. "I think I'll pick a Beyoncé song. A lot from 'I Am Sasha Fierce' are neglected."
"What about you, Kurt?" Blaine asked innocently.
Kurt shot him a glare so dark that it made the girls at the table hop up in surprise. "We'll let you two talk," Rachel said, turning her friends towards the door.
"I can't believe you're still angry about this."
"What? Blaine, why are you always trying to make me look like the bad guy?" asked Kurt.
"There doesn't have to be a bad guy!" Blaine looked Kurt in the eyes. "Just tell me what I did wrong, and we'll work on it."
"You shouldn't have stood up to them like that," Kurt stated.
"Isn't that what I'm here for?" Blaine looked genuinely confused.
"They're bigger than you, Blaine. If they wanted to, they could have seriously hurt you."
"They could have seriously hurt you, too," Blaine pointed out. "Better me than you, I guess." He shrugged.
"Blaine, you don't have to risk your safety to protect mine," Kurt said. "I can protect myself."
"Oh, so that's what this is all about," Blaine said, finally understanding.
"What is this all about? Tell me." Kurt propped his head in his hand and glowered at Blaine. "Because I obviously don't know."
"You don't want to look weak," Blaine announced smugly.
"Of course I don't!" Kurt spat.
"Oh my God, Kurt," Blaine sighed. "You're being ridiculous."
"Fine! Maybe I am!" He stood and pulled his bag onto his shoulder. "But it doesn't matter anymore. We're done." Kurt turned away from Blaine and stomped out of the courtyard.
Blaine stayed in his seat and let his head fall into his hands. Cara jumped up from the girls' new table and sat next to her brother. She wrapped her arms around him lovingly and tried to comfort him.
"I've made a huge mistake," Blaine muttered. "I'll never get him back."
"Oh, don't say that, Cara cooed. "You know Kurt. He's stubborn. Just give him a couple days. Let him sort all of this out."
Blaine hugged his sister as the bell rang- signaling the end of lunch. Cara knew him better than anybody. "C'mon," he sniffed. "Let's get you to class."
"Do you love me?"
Finn and Rachel were laying on Rachel's bed brainstorming songs to perform for each other. He had his arm around her, and she was resting her head on his chest. 'West Side Story' was playing on her laptop, but they had stopped paying attention a long time ago.
"Of course I do," she giggled. Why would he ask such a ridiculous question? She propped her head up on a pillow and looked at him curiously. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, no reason," Finn replied passively.
Rachel's brown eyes narrowed. "Finn, has anybody ever told you that you're a terrible liar?" He nodded. "Now tell me. What is this really about?"
"I love you more than anything, Rachel," Finn murmured with a thick voice. He still didn't look at her. "I just really don't want to lose you." His voice cracked on the last word, and tears started to well up in his eyes.
Rachel rolled over onto her stomach to get closer to him. "Shh, shh," she cooed, pushing his hair back rhythmically. "Why would you lose me? I'm not going anywhere."
"We're Seniors now, Rachel. You're going to be famous someday, but I'll always be a Lima Loser."
"Oh, no you'll not," she objected.
"I will. I can't help it. I'm an idiot; I'll never get a job."
Rachel bit her lip. She had never thought about this, but Finn had a point. "You could always get a football scholarship."
The corner of his mouth turned up. "You think so?"
"I know so," she replied confidently before kissing him on the lips. "You're the best football player I've ever seen."
Finn smiled at the ceiling for a moment, imagining their future together. An NFL quarterback and Broadway musical star. It worked. "You always know how to make me feel better, Rachel."
"That's because we'll be together forever," she said softly.
"I hope so."
Rachel frowned at the doubt in his voice, but didn't say anything else.