Title: If you ever feel like you're nothing: You're fuckin' perfect to me
Pairings / Characters: mainly Kurt/Rachel Friendship, unrequited Rachel/Quinn, implied Quinn/Sam
Spoilers: up to and including S02E10 – A Very Glee Christmas
Summary: Kurt is disappearing in front of her eyes and there is absolutely nothing she can do against it.
A/N: Sequel to Similarities. Title from P!NK's "Fucking Perfect"
"Then go down to 7/11 and get some," Rachel furiously spats at a clerk, "I need Raisinets!"
Rachel spins around and her eyes land on a smiling Kurt, clad in his meticulously pressed Dalton Academy uniform, leaning against the counter.
"Kurt," she smiles softly and quickly crosses the few feet of space separating them, enveloping the boy in a firm hug. "It's good to see you," she murmurs against his chest.
He chuckles. "Likewise."
The delicate bond she has with him is getting more fragile with every slam in the locker he receives, with every crude insult hurled to his face and with every flavour of the week Slushie emptied over his head and thus consequently over his ever-stylish designer clothes.
Kurt is disappearing in front of her eyes and there is absolutely nothing she can do against it. She is only 5'2" and if the malevolent jock as much as looks at her funny, she has her very own private room at Lima Memorial Hospital. She wants to help Kurt. She never felt so useless before. She considers him a friend, or at least a confidante, but for the first time in her life she isn't able to help a person she likes.
He is getting thinner with every day that passes by, his eyes sunken in and his cheeks hollow. Judging from his performances in Glee club he is exhausted, but hopefully not beyond repair, she thinks to herself. She can see him jumping almost a foot in the air every time a locker in the hallway slams shut just a little too loudly—even when he is in class or at glee practice at that moment. His walk has turned from once confident to insecure, his posture from straight to slumped over.
It breaks her heart.
But in the end there's absolutely nothing she can do.
"So, what's with the candy?" Kurt asks once they end their embrace and move to sit on the bar stools in front of the counter.
"Puck got Lauren Zizes to take your place and she won't go on unless she gets her damn candy!" Rachel exclaims before she sighs, looking down at her hands. "She's definitely not you, but she's a warm body. You know we need a dozen people do compete."
He nods. He figured it was something along those lines, like with Jacob Ben Israel just the year before, before Finn decided to sing with them after all. He stretches his arm and places a hand over her fiddling ones, squeezing them. "I'm sorry," he whispers.
"No, it's not your fault. You weren't safe at McKinley anymore. It's your life, Kurt. That's more important than singing and dancing. We all get it," she replies earnestly, rotating her hands so she can squeeze back.
She tries to rally the football players in Glee via their girlfriends, but that plan backfires. Finn's still too busy caring about his reputation. Puck, who she is pretty sure would love to send Karofsky in a coma, is already on probation. Artie can't really do anything, but he tries. So do Mike and Sam.
Her throat tightens when she sees her tending to his wounds after he hit the other jock, the obvious adoration in her eyes plain for everyone to see. Rachel can already feel the tears prickling at her eyes, so she looks away.
And when Kurt announces he's transferring to an all-boys private school, because he doesn't feel safe at McKinley anymore, it takes all of her power not to choke on the constricted feeling that has settled in her chest.
"Does this mean you're competing against us at Sectionals?" Is the only thing that leaves her mouth—because it's expected, although even Santana looks at her disbelievingly—instead of the "Please don't go. I need you here, with me." she so desperately wants to say.
A short time later Lauren Zizes joins their little group. She isn't a too bad of a singer, but she's not Kurt. Still, Rachel can admit to herself that they need Lauren, at least to compete at all. And although she still wants to win, she really does want to win, she is looking forward to seeing Kurt again, more. A sentiment she knows Mercedes shares as well.
"So, how's it going at Dalton Academy? Any cute boys I need to fight against for your affection?" She tries at an attempt at levity.
Kurt chuckles and shakes his head lightly. "Several cute boys, actually. But we both know you already have my affection," he adds with a lopsided grin.
Rachel smiles and it isn't the Rachel Berry Showsmile, patent pending, he has seen over the years, which she almost cultivated to perfection. It's a timid kind of smile, like she isn't sure if he's kidding or not, and when he gives an almost imperceptible nod she clutches his hand tighter, her eyes shining.
"So, did you miss us?"
"I do. Being a Warbler is great, but I don't think they appreciate my individuality as much as you guys did," Kurt sighs.
"So I take it you didn't get the solo?" She asks ruefully.
"Hey Rachel, I've been looking for you."
Rachel stops playing aimless chords on the piano and turns to the boy who appears on the stage in the auditorium, setting his portable CD-player on the shiny surface of the instrument and sitting down next to her.
"Hey," she smiles at him.
"I was hoping you could help me. I've been invited to audition for a solo for the Warblers," he states, bumping his shoulder against hers.
"Kurt, that's great!" She exclaims and lifts her arms to give him a sideway hug, her head resting on his shoulder.
Kurt hums, his right hand resting on the back of her neck and the other on her forearm, squeezing it lightly. "I could use your expertise. No one knows how to kill a ballad quite like you."
She lifts her head and gives him a crooked smile. "What song do you have in mind?"
"I've settled on Celine Dion's classic 'My heart will go on'."
"Oh … okay."
"You don't approve?"
"Well, every solo I pick for an audition follows a simple rule: It has to be personal and possibly reflect at what point of my life I am right now. If "My heart will go on" does this for you, than I'll be more than happy to help you, of course."
Kurt frowns at her words. He just thought the song is a well-known classic, what better song to audition with? He looks at her enquiringly. "What's your song?"
"If you had to audition, right now, what would you sing?"
Rachel bites her lip and tilts her head away from him, her hands falling to her lap as she stares over the piano top. Kurt knows this look, has seen it once before in a deserted hallway before she confessed to him that she has feelings for Quinn Fabray, of all people. Feelings that apparently run deeper than a mere infatuation, Kurt thinks as he once again witnesses her far-away look. He reaches over and lays a hand on her shoulder, bringing her out of her own thoughts.
"'Don't cry for me, Argentina'," she states, still avoiding his gaze.
"Why that song?" He whispers. Kurt knows that the girl next to him just didn't browse her mental song library for over a minute, in silence, if it didn't reflect her current feelings.
Rachel is quiet for a few seconds before she turns her body to him again. "Do you ever fantasize about your own funeral?" She asks, once again biting her bottom lip.
"No," Kurt answers, a bit confused.
"I do. I know that only a few people in glee club appreciate me the way I am. So sometimes I imagine a 'What if?' scenario, with everybody finally realizing that I wasn't as bad as they thought I am, but it being too late. I always pictured … Santana comically throwing herself into the grave and desperately knocking on my coffin, saying she's so sorry for all she ever did to me," Rachel chuckles mirthlessly. "And all the others giving heartfelt speeches and their regrets …" She tapers off, once again lost in her own thoughts.
Kurt tries to swallow the lump in his suddenly dry throat and tries to blink the forming tears in his eyes away.
"Is it insane for me to fantasize about this?" She asks meekly, her eyes downcast.
"No," Kurt shakes his head. "Depressing? Yes. And to think I only wanted to sing "My heart will go on" because there's a pretty big chance that everybody of the judges knows it. Seems like I need to find a new song."
Rachel intertwines her hand with his and gives him a smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes. "I'll help you."
"Thanks," he whispers as the other brunette leans down to her get bag, presumably to search through an insane amount of sheet music to find the song, just for him.
He studies her profile, her eyes flying over the papers as she is loosing herself in the music once again, mumbling a 'I'm sure it's in here somewhere' from time to time.
It definitely isn't Santana she wants to regret ever taunting her.
"Sadly, no," he sighs.
"I'm sorry," she retorts, contrite. "I'm sure you were really good."
"I was. Well, I mean, I think I was," he sighs again. "Better luck next time, I guess."
"Yeah," she exhales. "I'll be more than happy to help you again, if you want to."
"That's be great," he smiles.
A boy, clad in a Dalton Academy uniform comes up and addresses Kurt. "Kurt, they're calling places," he says before he turns to Rachel, "Hey."
"I'll be there in a minute, thanks," Kurt smiles at his fellow pupil.
The boy nods and walks away, leaving Kurt staring after him.
"Ah, now I know something's up," Rachel chuckles before she stands up, smoothing out her skirt.
"What? Oh!" Kurt startles before hastily gets to his feet. "That's just Blaine."
"Just Blaine, huh?" Rachel answers cheekily.
"Well," Kurt admits, his ears colouring pink, "I know that he's gay, so that's a plus."
Rachel smiles and gives his upper arm a light squeeze. "That's great, Kurt. Just … promise to protect your heart?"
He encircles her in his arms and places a soft kiss on the top of her heart. "Of course."
She grips the back of his jacket, the side of her face pressed against his chest. "I'd like you meet my dads, some time."
"Well, you know. Trading romance tips, date advice, stuff like that," she murmurs.
He hums. "That'd be nice. Maybe we can combine it with an impromptu singing lesson."
She kisses him on the cheek before she steps out of the embrace. "I'd like that."
They share a smile.
"See you on stage."