Five times Kurt says 'yes' and one time Dave says 'no'.
Kurt looks in the mirror for the last time and exits the bathroom with a heavy heart. His skin looks slightly tired and his hair isn't up to his usual standards. He's not looking forward to third period.
He jumps a little when a large figure joins him in the hall and blinks in surprise at Karofsky, who's looking straight ahead with a determined expression. His beret droops a little to the left.
He clears his throat and says: "Hi."
"Hello, David," Kurt responds. "I thought Santana called off the Bully Whips?"
The jock shrugs. "Kinda. She doesn't really care now that there's no crown on the line."
"But you do?" The day keeps getting more bizarre. First Rachel showed up in an almost acceptable outfit, which she supposedly picked out herself, and now this? Kurt half expects the hallway to start rotating. (Staying up so late last night for an Inception rewatch with Finn might not have been his best idea ever.)
"I thought Figgins would be suspicious if I suddenly stopped, and I don't need any more problems with him, so…" Karofsky shrugs again, looking uncomfortable.
Kurt hums contemplatively. "Okay," he says slowly, not sure how to proceed. They're almost at his classroom, so hopefully he won't have to do anything before they part.
The other boy throws this plan out of the window when he stops, turns to Kurt and blurts: "I'm sorry."
It feels a little like deja vu, only this time he's caught while taking a step and almost stumbles into a locker in surprise. (Not his best day, definitely.) "Wha— why?"
"Sorry I didn't dance with you," Karofsky mumbles, eyes on the floor between their feet.
And Kurt really didn't want to talk about that, because now he's going to have to say something he normally tries to avoid.
"No, I'm sorry," he sighs, and he's dismayed to say that he really is. He spent more than a few minutes thinking about that over the last weekend. "I shouldn't have pushed you about… that," he censors himself for once and looks around, but the hall's almost empty. The class is starting in a few minutes. "I was upset about the whole situation, but that's no reason why you should suffer with me. And it was… not an ideal time for coming out."
"Yeah, kinda," Dave agrees and cracks a tiny smile. "You were pretty awesome there, though. And we could've, I don't know… just danced… or something." It ends up sounding like a question and he's back to looking awkwardly to the side.
"Um," Kurt says, eloquently. "Right."
Karofsky clears his throat and gestures to the other end of the hall. "I have to go to my class, so…" he takes half a step backwards, but stops for a moment. "You'll wait for me, yeah?"
Kurt blinks. There it is again, the question that feels like it has more than one layer, but thankfully the answer is the same. Even more so, now. His lips slowly stretch into a small smile (quite possibly his first for the day) and he says simply: "Yes."
Rachel's in the middle of a tale about a puppy rescued by her dad (or maybe it was a kitten; Kurt tuned her out a while ago and focused on his salad) when a new presence plops down on a chair next to him.
"Hello, Team Gay!" Santana greets jovially, ignoring the rest of the table as per usual when they're outside the choir room. Rachel shoots her an unfriendly look and continues talking to Mercedes and Tina.
"Hi, Santana," he says cautiously.
"How's it going? Anyone bothering you lately?" she asks in a puzzling display of interest in his affairs. He'd call her out on it if he wasn't still a little scared of her.
"Not really, no," he replies. It's the truth; everyone pretty much ignores him since the Prom Queen debacle. He's less optimistic than he used to be, but he can't help thinking that maybe this time it really is a good sign.
Santana smiles in a pleased manner. It's disquieting at best. "Good, good. After all, Dave's protecting you, right?"
He is. To Kurt's slowly receding surprise, Karofsky continues to walk him from class to class more often than not, occasionally leaving to take care of some bullying episodes along the way (those are getting rare, though). Kurt thinks this constant protection is unnecessary, but the Bully Whips' sole member stubbornly shows up every morning. Only the beret disappeared mysteriously.
He nods and the girl leans closer to him. "You feel safe, then? With him?" she presses.
Kurt chews on a piece of tomato and contemplates his answer, which is much easier than he thought it would be. A few months ago he would've laughed in her face with derision, but now he glances over her shoulder and across the cafeteria, to a table where Brittany seems to be drawing something with a straw and Karofsky's nodding along to her chatter.
"Yes," he answers truthfully. As surprising as it might seem, after the prolonged exposure he no longer flinches with fright when Karofsky appears seemingly out of nowhere. It's much better to have the bigger boy on his side.
Santana pats him on the shoulder. "Wonderful." She stands up. "I'm going back to my boo. You can join us when you get tired of the dark side of the female sex."
"Um, thanks, maybe later," he responds weakly. She saunters back to her table and says something that makes Karofsky break out into a smile. He glances over, but quickly looks away when he sees Kurt watching.
Kurt turns back to the girls and finds them watching him expectantly. Apparently they're more interested in his personal drama than puppies and/or kittens, after all. He sighs and steels himself for an interrogation.
He wouldn't have it any other way, though.
"Seriously, bro?" Azimio's voice drifts down the hall from the approximate area of Kurt's locker. He sounds amused. "You're excited about the dance moves? They really turned you gay."
Kurt rolls his eyes and mentally prepares a scathing remark, but the next thing he hears makes him stop dead before he turns the corner.
"Dude." Karofsky's tone, in contrast, speaks of frustration and anger. "You can't turn somebody gay. You just are gay, or you're not."
There are a few moments of heavy silence and Kurt feels his heart beating frantically. He wonders if he should run and get Finn, who's waiting for him in the car. If this turns into a fight, he has zero chance of separating the two boys on his own.
He silently curses himself for leaving his notebook in his locker. He should've gone straight home after one of the glee club's last meetings for the school year. Then he wouldn't have to stand in the empty hallway and worry about whatever's happening with his two former bullies.
"And what, you're the expert now?" He can't decide if Azimio's rather calm voice means trouble or not. He starts carefully backing off the way he came, putting more distance between himself and the potential disaster.
He's almost at the end of the hall when he hears them again and freezes. They're speaking quietly now, so he can't discern the words, but he figures that he'll know if they switch to fists and then he'll race to the parking lot.
Kurt stands there for a few minutes, torn between staying in place and inching closer again, to— well, not eavesdrop, but make sure that everything's alright. He thinks that Karofsky snaps something and Azimio responds in kind, but it's not followed by sounds of a fistfight. So far so good, he supposes.
Finally the voices stop and he hears footsteps approaching. Before he can think of hiding, Azimio emerges from around the corner and walks briskly towards him. Kurt must look like a rabbit caught in the headlights, because the other boy scoffs and rolls his eyes, but otherwise passes him without a comment.
Kurt takes a deep breath, grips the strap of his bag and walks determinedly to his locker. Karofsky's standing near it, leaning back against the wall. He doesn't react to Kurt's approach.
The smaller boy takes out his notebook, clutches it to his chest and turns to Karofsky. "Hey," he says tentatively. "Are you okay?"
Dave lets out a breath and looks at him at last. "Yeah," he says.
Kurt probably shouldn't pry, but it never stopped him before and he's still alive, so he's certainly not going to stop now. "Did you just… come out to Azimio?"
The jock glances in the direction in which his friend disappeared. "I guess," he answers, sounding surprised himself, and adds: "Holy shit."
"But he took it well?" Kurt's lips stretch into a smile almost of their own volition. "That's great, David."
"I guess," he says again, letting his head fall back against the wall and closing his eyes. "It gets easier, right?"
Kurt looks at the boy and feels the rest of the ice melt away as something warm grows in his chest. He reaches out with his hand and puts it on Dave's arm, squeezing lightly. "Yes," he replies. "It gets much easier."
Dave's face, which was twisted into a pained grimace a second earlier, smoothes out into a wry half-smile. "Good," he says, and Kurt fiercely believes that things are going to be alright.
They have to be.
Kurt places his nonfat mocha on the table and his backside in the chair opposite Blaine. He's grateful for the summer, as it allows them to meet much more often, instead of spending crazy amounts of money on lengthy phone calls.
He even managed to wheedle a bit of window-shopping in the mall before they got to the cafe, and he spied a fabulous pair of pants (he'll have to return for them soon), so he's rather happy with his life in general.
Blaine seems less so, though. He pokes his medium drip and sighs, propping his chin on his hand. Kurt takes a sip from his cup and raises an eyebrow enquiringly. "What's wrong?"
He expects an answer about disappointing coffee, because Blaine's been known to get depressed over hot beverages of inadequate quality, but he gets something completely different.
"Why couldn't that be us?" Blaine sighs again, looking to the side with a forlorn expression. Kurt follows his gaze and finds a young couple staring soulfully into each other's eyes over half-finished cupcakes. His other eyebrow shoots up in surprise.
His first impulse is to say 'You were the one who decided we were better off as friends', but he bites his tongue. Partly because he doesn't want to appear bitter, but mostly because he really isn't. Yes, he called an emergency sleepover with Mercedes and Rachel and proceeded to cry into his pillow for an hour. Yes, he sulked for a few days afterwards. But after careful deliberation and an intervention from Finn, he decided that Blaine had a point. And so far their back-to-just-friends thing is working fabulously, if he may say so himself. (Blaine's sudden bout of nostalgia notwithstanding.)
So he goes for the obvious answer. "Maybe because neither of us is a girl and I don't like cupcakes?"
His friend gives him an unimpressed look. "You love cupcakes." And before Kurt can protest (because it's slander), he pouts and continues: "And that's not what I meant and you know it."
"I know," he heaves an exaggerated sigh. "It doesn't make sense. You're perfect, I'm perfect... By all means, we should've been perfect together."
Blaine finishes his coffee. "Kind of makes you think that life isn't a musical after all, right?"
Kurt raises a perfect eyebrow and looks at him disbelievingly. Blaine stifles a chuckle and hides a smile behind his empty cup. "No, of course it doesn't."
He seems to feel better already, so Kurt concentrates on enjoying his mocha. Apparently Blaine spends the time thinking deep, meaningful thoughts, because he gets the look that usually means that he's going to share his wisdom with the world.
"Maybe…" he begins, after a while. "Maybe you don't necessarily need to find somebody who's perfect, they just need to be perfect for you."
Kurt pauses mid-sip, slowly puts his cup back on the table and looks at his companion through his eyelashes. "I love it when you speak wise to me," he says coyly.
Blaine snorts an inelegant laugh (it's something he never used to do before they stopped dating) and eyes their coffee cups. "We've got a while until the movie, so… let's do something wild."
"What do you have in mind?" Kurt peers at him warily, because lately Blaine's been on an 80's music kick, and he doesn't feel quite ready to perform Uptown Girl in a public setting.
The smaller boy leans conspiratorially over the table. "Would you like to share a fat latte with me?"
"…you don't even like latte."
"That's why it's crazy and adventurous!" Kurt's expression must look very doubtful, because Blaine pulls out the puppy dog eyes. "Please?"
He sighs long-sufferingly and rolls his eyes, fighting a smile. "Yes, okay, you've convinced me."
"Ha!" Blaine lightly slaps the table top and gets up. "I knew that still works on you."
Kurt watches him as he orders a coffee with outrageous amount of whipped cream and contemplates the fact that boyfriend-Blaine seemed like a decidedly less ridiculous (and somehow less fun) human being. He chooses to take the new development as proof that they really make better friends than anything else.
Blaine returns with a cup with two straws sticking out. The latte tastes a little like sugar and a lot like happiness.
Kurt's almost ready to admit defeat when he spots a familiar figure walking past the store. He hurriedly drops everything and rushes out into the hall. He has to chase him almost to the fountain (and let him tell you that these shoes were not made for running), but finally he catches up and takes hold of the other boy's sleeve.
"David, hi! You need to help me!" he announces, tugging him back the way he came.
Dave, understandably, looks alarmed. "Kurt? What's wrong?"
He doesn't get an immediate answer, because his kidnapper is too busy leading him to the store he vacated. The jock casts a look around, probably searching for the danger. "Somebody bothering you?" Kurt just shakes his head.
They enter the store and find a baffled shop assistant standing near the counter with Kurt's bags in hand. "Thank you! I'm sorry I took off like that, but I had to get some reinforcements," he explains, gesturing to Dave, who still looks like he's expecting a gang to jump out from between the hangers.
The girl smiles at them in a slightly disconcerting manner, but Kurt doesn't have time to analyze that. He takes his bags back and tugs Dave deeper into the store, to a stand covered with colorful fabric.
"I need help with a scarf," he says. The other boy just stares, so he launches into a detailed explanation. "I've narrowed it down to two, but I simply can't decide between them. Normally I'd send a photo to Mercedes, but this time the colors are essential, and a photo won't do them justice. I was this close to taking both of them, but I'm on a slightly tight budget by now, so I'd rather get a second opinion and pick just one."
He points to the two scarves in question and heaves a sigh. The jock looks like a deer caught in the headlights.
"Uh, I'm probably not the best person to ask about… that," he says and rubs the back of his neck.
Kurt looks at him in amusement. "It's not a tricky question, David. I just need you to pick the one you like better. Here, I'll try them on, that should help."
He hands Dave the bags containing three pairs of pants, six shirts and countless accessories (he stopped counting after the fifth bowtie). He juggles them along with his own lonely bag from a sports shop.
Kurt winds the first scarf around his neck, tutting in disapproval at the price tag that interferes with his draping. "I'm a bit in love with this color, but I'm not completely sure if it's doing me any favors. And it's a little thick, so I'd probably have to wait a few weeks to wear it." He strikes a grossly exaggerated pose.
Dave smiles, finally. Kurt feels accomplished.
He tries the second scarf on and explains about the pattern, which is the latest trend, and how it's going to coordinate with a top he bought on his last shopping spree. The other boy hmm's contemplatively and declares: "I like this one."
"You do?" Kurt grins and whirls around to watch himself in the mirror.
"Yeah, it… looks good," he ends awkwardly and gives a little shrug.
Kurt's smile widens and he doesn't really care if he looks like a loon. "I guess that's what counts," he agrees.
He watches his reflection critically for the last few moments and finally nods decisively.
The girl behind the counter gives him a sunny smile. He responds in kind and says: "I'll take this one."
"Good choice!" she chirps and looks over his shoulder at Dave, who waits patiently while Kurt pays for the scarf.
Out in the mall hallway, he skips a bit, very pleased with this latest purchase. "Thank you," he says, tearing off the price tag and looping the fabric around his neck, even though it may not be a perfect match for his current outfit. It feels like a cherry on top of a successful shopping trip.
"No problem." Dave graces him with another smile and they lapse into silence. It gets slightly uncomfortable after a few seconds, so Kurt clears his throat.
"I took quite a bit of your time, so I guess you'll want to…" he gestures to the world at large and makes a move to reclaim his bags.
Dave foils that plan by taking a deep breath and saying: "Want to go grab a bite? …or something?" He deflates a little towards the end. His cheeks are pink and Kurt feels an answering blush flooding his face, but again, he hardly cares about that.
"Yes, I'd like that," he says and thinks that perhaps the best is yet to come.
Kurt races to the door at the first sound of the doorbell and manages to get there before it stops ringing. He takes a deep breath to appear composed and flings it open.
"Hi," he says, breathless again due to the sight of his date.
"Hi, Kurt," Dave greets with a happy smile.
They grin at each other for a few moments until Kurt remembers that he's supposed to let him in. Dave shuffles into the hall and blurts: "You look great."
"Thank you," he replies, not adding his customary 'I know' this time, and eyes the other boy appreciatively. "You look stunning."
"Well," he coughs uncomfortably, "you picked this suit yourself, so."
Kurt's smile shifts a little closer to satisfied. "Yes, the suit's perfect, too."
Dave rubs the back of his neck and presents him with a small box. He remembers that he left his own in the living room and quickly dashes to retrieve it. A moment later he's stepping closer than strictly necessary to pin the boutonniere to his boyfriend's lapel.
"I can't believe we're going to senior prom," he says excitedly, but then looks seriously at Dave. "We can still stay home, though, if you want to… or go to a movie, or…"
He trails off at the fond look he receives. "No," Dave says, decisively. "Let's go. I promised you a dance."
Kurt's a little worried that he's going to burst at the seams with joy. "That you did," he agrees.
"But we probably won't make prom royalty this time," Dave quips and then looks unsure about his joke.
Kurt huffs a laugh. "I rather hope we don't, actually. I've had my share of prom queen drama. Besides, I still have my crown and I think you do too, so we can take them out for our private party later…"
His dad chooses this moment to emerge from the living room and clear his throat pointedly. Dave's face rapidly turns red in mortification, but Kurt continues speaking almost without missing a beat.
"…when we'll watch a movie and maybe hold hands, if you're really, really good."
Burt shakes his head and chuckles lightly. "Have I told you that I like your suit, son?"
"Yes, repeatedly." Kurt narrows his eyes. Normally he's all for appreciation of his fashion prowess, but it's at least the fifth time, and it's getting suspicious. "You're just happy that I chose a plain outfit."
His dad raises his hands in surrender. "Hey, am I happy that you're not wearing a skirt this time? Yes. I wouldn't call this plain, though."
Kurt doesn't bother correcting him about the kilt (it didn't work the first ten times). True, his suit is not exactly plain, but still it's much more traditional that last year's outfit. But Dave's starting to look worried, like it was some kind of a great sacrifice for the fashionista. (It wasn't, he looks fabulous.)
"I'm not interested in causing a scene, thank you very much. I just want to have fun with you," he says to Dave, smoothing a hand down his lapel. The other boy looks at once mollified and slightly spooked at the display of affection in front of Kurt's dad.
Further awkwardness is averted by Carole, who descends from upstairs, squeals about how handsome they look and insists on taking a million pictures.
A few hours later, after he got his promised dance and then some, he's twirling Rachel around the dance floor at her insistence and sneaking looks in the direction of the stage. New Directions got roped into singing at the prom once again, so Finn and Sam are performing the latest hit while Puck circles near the punch bowl, trying to look innocent and failing as usual. Kurt's more interested in what's going to come next, though.
At the end of the song he bows to Rachel, sends her off to find Mercedes and grins as he watches his boyfriend come up on the stage. Dave, who once thought himself incapable of coming out, but who's actually the bravest person in McKinley's and incapable only of saying 'no' to Kurt (at least in some carefully chosen circumstances), takes a deep breath and signals the band to start playing.
Kurt would be perfectly happy to watch, listen and feel his heart swell with pride and other emotions, but a few lines into the song he feels somebody nudge his arm. He turns his head and finds his grinning step-brother.
"May I have this dance?" he asks, offering his hand gallantly. Kurt smiles back and accepts the invitation. Finn leads him into a slightly awkward dance with minimal touching and doesn't mind that Kurt pays more attention to the singer than to his dance partner.
"But don't forget who's taking you home," Dave croons, catching his eye and smiling disarmingly, "and in whose arms you're gonna be… So darling, save the last dance for me."
Finn, who learned a thing or two (well, maybe one and a half) about dancing in the last year, prevents them from crashing into Mike and Tina when Kurt drifts off from reality. The smaller boy chuckles apologetically. His brother just shakes his head with a smile.
Kurt saves the last dance for Dave, of course. And though neither of them was crowned this time, it feels like they're the kings of the world anyway.