Kurt feels strong, courageous this time. He can tell Blaine joins him in at least one sentiment: Can you believe this guy?, though they share many others.
"You're real brave with your fists but you're a coward when it comes to the truth," he argues, glaring at Karofsky as Blaine backs up to rejoin him. They are a united front, a team, satisfied in the knowledge that they are right and comforted in the fact that they are together.
He's glad that Santana comes to their aid, although Blaine assures her that they would've been fine("We could've handled that."), because it means that someone else has noticed. (And honestly, nothing can quite surpass watching your former tormentor get a good Santana tongue-lashing.)
"It was more fun doing it together," Santana informs them when it's over. All three smile.
When he gets home that night, he thinks about the last time he confronted Karofsky, about how much has changed.
He realizes now that he was at a turning point, that week he met Blaine. He had been ridiculed by society; he had felt troubled and lost and alone. And because he had felt alone, he had started to wonder if perhaps he was wrong, if he was the one who should change. His mind had rejected the idea easily; it knew that there was nothing wrong in being himself. His heart, however, had been another matter. Emotionally, he had been beginning to sway, to wonder if it was worth it, if he was right.
He had been at the point where he could have gone one of two ways. He could have retreated into himself, leaving behind the punches and shoves and stares and whispers, though he would have received nothing but the knowledge that he was not being true to himself. Mr. Shue had been right, he thinks, when he said Kurt was letting the bullying get to him more than usual. He had been at a tipping point, tired of the indifference more than the bullying, tired of always having to be the brave one, tired of having to pay for their problems.
He and Blaine have since agreed that the indifference is the worst. They could deal with the hate and the bullying if the rest of the world's population were supportive, but when everyone passively allows the bullying to happen, passively watches them get pushed down without offering a simple hand, passively stares as others throw slurs at them, Kurt and Blaine feel more alone than ever.
That day when they meet, Blaine doesn't push Kurt in one direction, he just slips his hand into Kurt's and pulls Kurt into a world where, if only for a moment, his heart sees the truth.
The moment Blaine grabs his hand that part of his heart that thinks he might be wrong flickers questioningly. The minute Blaine reaches to adjust his collar, that part of his heart splutters.
The hours Blaine spends talking to him and confronting Karofsky with him, even though they've known each other for no time at all, and it's a little incredible, that part of his heart starts to slip away. By the time he is settled with the Warblers and everyone is welcoming and wonderful and kind, that part of his heart is hanging on by the tiniest of threads.
Their first kiss severs the last thread, occupies that part of his heart with more important feelings.
All he had needed was reassurance that he was right, that the bullies were the ones who were wrong. He recognizes this now, recognizes how much he owes Puck for suggesting that he spy on their competition.
The opening notes to "Teenage Dream" interrupt his thoughts. It's not the Katy Perry version, because he, like the totally lovesick teenager he was (and is), found a copy of the Warblers version online and downloaded it onto his phone. He lets it ring for a moment because the words are so fitting (Before you met me, I was all right/but things were kinda heavy, you brought me to life/now every February, you'll be my Valentine…), but decides he'd rather hear Blaine's voice live and also thinks he'd rather not have to explain how he missed the call because he was distracted by Blaine's singing.
Blaine's voice comes through the second he picks up. "Hey, Kurt,"
Kurt sighs happily and settles back into his desk chair.
"What're you doing?" Blaine asks.
"Trying to finish this history essay," Kurt answers, "and getting distracted." He glances with frustration at the textbook he hasn't actually been reading for the last hour or so.
"Distracted by what?"
"Thinking," Kurt answers, folding the book shut.
"I kinda feel sorry for him," Blaine muses, obviously understanding where Kurt is going.
"Yeah, me too," Kurt agrees, "though I may have to rescind that statement if he shoves you a third time."
Blaine laughs softly into the phone, and the sound relaxes Kurt.
"At least you and Santana were there to shove him back and rescue me."
Kurt laughs a little, again picturing the scene he had just been considering, the two of them at McKinley confronting Karofsky about his apparent self-hatred. When the line goes silent for several seconds, Blaine begins to wonder.
"You okay?" he asks, his voice laced with concern.
"Yeah," Kurt replies softly, "I'm fine, just…thank you, Blaine."
"For what?" Blaine asks, surprise making his voice less confident than usual.
"For…for showing me that it was ok to be myself. For giving me courage." Kurt can picture Blaine biting his lower lip pensively like he did that day on the stairs.
"Kurt?" Blaine finally says.
"Yeah?" Kurt whispers almost inaudibly.
"You give me courage, too."
Kurt smiles widely into his phone. Blaine's face when they spoke to Karofsky earlier that evening flashes into his mind, and he believes him. "Thanks for coming to the benefit and confronting old demons with me," he tells his boyfriend.
Thanks for reading! Reviews make my day. Emily