This is written by request. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IAN! *sends message back in time because I'm LATE like a boss*

"-so I guess in my view if a person isn't ready to come out, to really accept who and what they are...then I'll be their best friend in the world, but I could never date them."

He doesn't look over at Dave. He doesn't. Not in the slightest. He can't look over at Dave, because Kurt has harped on Dave and his closet so entirely often in the last few months that even he is becoming annoyed with it.

Still, it's the topic, and when they go around the room and ask people to speak, he isn't going to hold back his opinion just because Dave is sitting beside him.

He clears his throat and looks everywhere except his right, smiling faintly at the faces around him, nodding or frowning but always listening. He has come to love this group so damned much.

"But that's the thing about coming out," he goes on. "Of course it's one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do, but once you've done can't imagine going back. Not even part of the way. I'm out and I'm proud, and I won't put part of myself back in a closet for anybody."

"Preach," Alex, one of the less subtle and more fearless of their group - he's come to meetings in drag before, and yes, they are still in Lima, Ohio - calls from the side.

Kurt grins over at him and sits back to show he's done. From his left Blaine leans in and clasps his hand for a moment, squeezing proudly.

It's Mary's discussion question, so she's the one who nods at Dave, next in the circle. "How about it, Dave? Got anything to add?"

Dave answers in his usual low murmur. "Not really."

She sighs. "Damn, I had money on this week."

There's a low ruffle of laughter, and when Kurt risks a glance over Dave manages a crooked little smile over at Mary. It's a joke at this point that Dave isn't going to really contribute. Everyone knows that the group is Dave and Kurt's baby, that he's here because he wants to be. He even made it a point early on to tell them that his silence isn't disrespect, he just doesn't feel like he has anything to contribute.

And he won't listen when Kurt tries to tell him how ridiculous that is.

He has nothing to contribute, of course, because he 'isn't' 'gay'. Not that anyone in PFLAG knows, or anyone in the world outside of PFLAG. Nobody who hadn't already figured it out last year.

Either way, they're used to Dave's silence, and Mary moves on without missing a beat.

They meet in a small conference room in the back of the Lima County Library. It's free, and it's safe - Dave isn't the only one in the group still in the closet to the people outside, and a library gives the people who have to keep PFLAG secret a hundred other excuses as to why they need to come to this building on these days.

It's nice because they don't have to set up or tear down anything - the tables and chairs just need to be straightened a bit, and the garbage picked up. Kurt and Dave handle that themselves.

Blaine smiles from the doorway as the last few people say their goodbyes to him. He's a social butterfly at these meetings, and though he doesn't actually give any hint of it, Kurt thinks he might be shopping around a little bit.

Not that Kurt minds it, really. He sort of was too at the start, before he realized that the group was more important than that. Kurt's one of the two founders, after all, and the other one is closeted and mostly mute. Kurt needs to focus, not scout for dates.

Besides, technically he and Blaine are still dating. Mostly.

Well...they've been on again-off again most of the year, which Kurt credits to the first few weeks together at McKinley, where they suffered what can generously be called 'over-exposure' to each other, and it sort of took the First Love glow off of what they have.

Besides, Kurt has spent months caught in the distractions of Senior Year, planning for the future, applying to schools and auditioning for arts programs. Blaine is a junior, he's not thinking about any of that yet, and it only drives home how inevitable their separation is.

It was when Kurt sat Blaine down to talk about what will happen when he's off to college and Blaine is here that they first realized that they adore each other, but not enough to put their lives on hold. That was when the first off-again phase started. Since then it's been a yo-yo between wanting to hold hands and kiss and enjoy the year even if they're going their separate ways afterwards, and going back to being friends whenever they realize that they're mostly dating because they like kissing and holding hands and don't have anyone else to do it with.

They're friends all the time, and sometimes they're friends who kiss. But if Blaine meets someone at one of these meetings, Kurt is mentally prepared to do without the kissing part. And when Kurt leaves for New York to go to school he leaves without any kind of commitments.

It's best that way. And it's been a great year so far, whether they're on or off.

In fact, except for the tedious, endless dramatics at school and the angst over which schools he still needs to apply to, there's only one shadow in Kurt's life: the mostly mute cofounder of PFLAG Lima.

Kurt can't really figure Dave Karofsky out, and it drives him a little bit crazy. They're not friends, really, because aside from school and PFLAG they never talk. But they do talk at school, and people aren't surprised anymore to see them wandering the halls side by side, planning meetings or just making small talk.

But that's the thing. Ever since the beginning of the year and an embarrassing meeting at an all-ages gay club in Lincoln (Kurt was horrified to be spotted in the gaudy, suffocatingly tight 'club gear' Mercedes insisted would fit right in at a gay club, and Dave was horrified to be spotted there at all) they had progressed from awkward friends to something more casual. But since then they've been stuck.

He likes Dave. Really. He doesn't talk a lot, but he's surprisingly funny in a really dry kind of way. When they first started really talking at McKinley Kurt kind of felt bad for Dave because he didn't come across as all that bright when he talked. When Kurt got to know him, he realized that half of the things Dave says are desert-dry jokes that no one else in the world is meant to get but Dave himself.

Dave is smart. Really smart, and really funny once Kurt learned to interpret him. And he's a mystery to Kurt – most of what he says is for his own benefit, as if he goes into a conversation already expecting to be misunderstood or ignored, so he doesn't even bother to accomplish anything more than amusing himself.

It's fascinating, really, but it's depressing. It speaks (in Kurt's mind, anyway) of someone who is so hidden and alone that he's learned to be happy with nothing but his own brain to keep him company.

It makes Kurt want to get closer, but he has no idea how. So they're stuck in this holding pattern. Small talk at school, these meetings where Dave says next to nothing but insists on showing up early and staying late, and always dismissing it whenever Kurt suggests that he isn't actually obligated to be there if he doesn't want to be.

He seeks Kurt out at school only to talk about nothing important at all. He comes to these meetings every week without fail only to sit still and stay silent and barely contribute a thing.

He's a mystery, and Kurt watches him more and more as days go by. He watches for him in the halls between classes and notices, remembers, when Dave doesn't show up. He looks for him in crowds at school, and watches him during PFLAG even when he's silent and unresponsive.

He sees Dave watching him sometimes, and can't interpret his expressions. Sometimes he thinks Dave actually likes him, in – to coin a horrible and cliched phrase – 'that way'. He can convince himself after a particularly intense look that Dave not only likes him but actively pines for him, that his silence is sheer depression because he's so close to Kurt's awesomeness but is denied full access. But the next day comes around and Dave will be entirely dismissive, barely managing to look at him at all, and Kurt becomes just as sure that he's like this little buzzing, annoying gnat in Dave's mind.

He watches Dave cast silent eyes at other guys around them – the glee club kids or the jocks, or that Irish exchange student who seems to be dangling from Brittany's arm everywhere she goes – and he can't begin to read what's in Dave's eyes. He sees Dave watching Blaine, and those times he can't even interpret his own reactions, much less tell what Dave's thinking.

Kurt isn't good at mysteries. He gets annoyed too easily. He's the guy who reads the movie spoilers before buying a ticket, and skips to the end of the book to read the last page if there's any kind of doubt how the plot will turn out.

That's why he focuses on Dave so much lately. Because he's a mystery that Kurt can't cheat his way out of. Because he doesn't like not knowing where he stands in someone's mind, and he gets these mixed signals from Dave that he can't interpret, and more and more often he can't stop trying to interpret them. He can't stop wondering about every glance and every rare word and what it all might add up to.

And's annoying.

That's what it is.

"I'm gonna take off, Kurt," Blaine says as he moves back in to the meeting room to grab his jacket. He has to drive all the way to Lipton to get home, so Kurt's absolved him from having to take part in clean-up duties after their meetings.

Kurt smiles at him cheerfully and tosses an empty soda can in the trash bag dangling from his hand. "See you in the morning?"

"I won't make it for coffee," Blaine reminds him (he likes to sleep in after PFLAG meetings). "But I'll see you at school." He pulls his jacket on and approaches Kurt with a playful smile. "Do I get a 'good night'?"

Kurt sighs, trying to sound put out. But his gaze sneaks over to Dave, who's stacking up the extra chairs against the wall and pretty much unable not to see them.

"We're in public," he reminds Blaine with a tsk. "You know my opinion on PDAs."

Blaine rolls his eyes with that fond (if vaguely patronizing) 'oh, you' look on his face. He slips in and trails his fingers down the line of small, neat buttons on Kurt's current favorite Marc Jacobs button-down.

When he lifts his gaze to Kurt's, his eyes are wide and round, his lower lip jutting out just a little. "It's such a long drive back," he says sadly. "I don't get anything to tide me over?"

Kurt can't hold back a smile – he really is entirely fond of Blaine, even when he's being obvious. He leans in and puckers up, planting a quick kiss on Blaine's pouting lips. "There."

Blaine grins and snakes his arms around Kurt to stop him from backing away. "If I didn't know for a fact that you adore me, sometimes I'd wonder," he chides.

"So I have to hump you in a public library to prove I care for you?" Kurt asks, though it's way too easy to give in and press himself to Blaine, slide his hand up Blaine's arm. "I think I saw a PSA about this very thing one time."

"Oh yeah? Did you learn a life lesson from it?"

"Apparently not," Kurt answers, giving in the moment Blaine's face lifts and he leans in closer.

It's nice, kissing Blaine. It really is. Kurt has no outside frame of reference, maybe it's nice kissing anyone. But he doesn't think so. Kurt's old-fashioned, he believes there's got to be real feelings there for a kiss or a touch to feel as good as it's supposed to. Kissing someone he doesn't care about would be like laughing at something he doesn't find funny – meaningless and fake and unnecessary. And whether they're on or off, friends or boyfriends or back to being friends, he really does care about Blaine.

Blaine's hands stroke up Kurt's back, pulling him that much closer.

Kissing is nice, but kissing deeply in an open, public place...

Kurt draws back, laughing when Blaine whines and tries to lean in to chase him. "Stop it! I told you-"

There's a hard thump beside them.

Kurt jumps and looks past Blaine, and Dave is standing by the now neatly stacked chairs, glaring at them like they just magically shifted on their own and screwed up all his hard work.

Blaine tugs at him. "Kurt..."

"No." Kurt's eyes are still on Dave for just a moment, but he turns back to Blaine and this is why he hates kissing in public – he can't stop from feeling uncomfortable. "Come on. We'll have plenty of time to ourselves after school tomorrow."

"Mmm, good point." Blaine smiles easily – he's much less prudish than Kurt is when it comes to physically expressing affection, but he at least respects Kurt's boundaries (up to a point). "Okay, you win – one more and I'll go."

Kurt fights to keep from looking over Blaine's shoulder again. He leans in fast and gives Blaine another quick peck, and squeaks against his mouth when Blaine grips his shirt and holds him still for a few more moments.

His eyes open entirely inadvertently. The glare on Dave's face, the intent glower directed right at Blaine's back, is obviously not meant for Kurt's eyes, because he whips his head to the side the moment he notices Kurt looking at him, and he stalks over to the table and starts grabbing napkins and little paper plates that Kurt hasn't gotten to yet.

Kurt pulls away from Blaine firmly, and for some reason he isn't even tempted to smile at Blaine's playfully victorious grin. "Out, you."

Blaine laughs and squeezes his arm before turning and heading for the door. "See you in the morning!"

"Text me when you get home," Kurt says, same as always.

Blaine vanishes through the door and around the corner.

Kurt turns.

Dave is tossing all the bits of trash into the middle of the table, on a mostly empty veggie tray that's pretty much decimated.

"You're not allowed to hate Blaine during PFLAG meetings," Kurt says.

Dave snorts and crumples a couple of abandoned copies of the Agenda in his fist. "Meeting's over," he says simply.

Not denying the glare, then, or that it was directed at Blaine.

Mystery. Dave is a complete and utter mystery. Just three or four weeks ago Dave and Blaine spent the end of a meeting making plans to go see some horrible football movie that had exactly no hot actors to make up for the sports and therefore had no Kurt Hummel willing to pay to see it.

Sometimes they get along. It comes and goes, in phases. On again... again.

Kurt folds his arms over his chest, regarding Dave.

Three or four weeks ago he and Blaine were in a 'just friends' period.

Dave looks back after a silent minute. "You planning to help, or...?"

Kurt frowns at him. "Dave."

Dave heaves a sigh and moves around the table, striding to Kurt and reaching out to pluck the forgotten garbage bag from his hand.

Kurt tightens his grip on it instead. "Dave."

"What?" Dave attempts to pull the bag away, but gives up too fast. He slumps over himself and glowers at Kurt.

Sulking, angry. Dave is more than attractive to Kurt (he's come to terms with that), until he gets like this. He's too Karofsky like this: too much closet and not enough real boy.

But he only gets like this rarely these days. He may still be silent and pretty much solitary most of the time, but he has mellowed about a hell of a lot since last year. Karofsky only returns when he's really pissed. Or upset.

It's way too easy to make assumptions, and Kurt has learned by now that even if he knows Dave better than pretty much anyone these days, he still doesn't know him well.

"Why do you hate Blaine?" he asks finally, a straight and serious question.

Dave turns away and heads back to the table. "My dad used to sit me in front of the TV and force me to watch fucking Barney cartoons while he was off doing his fucking taxes or whatever for half my life," he answers.

Kurt waits. "While I'm sure that's the answer to some question somewhere, it's not the answer to my question."

"I hate that fucking oversized puppet," Dave goes on easily. "Shave that purple fuzz off Barney the fucking 'Hey Boys and Girls, Let's Go Find A Rainbow To Hug' Dinosaur, give him a handful of mousse and stick him in some retarded nerd-chic clothes. Boom: Blaine."

Kurt scowls at him. It's probably the hardest he's ever had to fight to keep a bitchy expression on his face.

The analogy is not inaccurate.

"I've watched you have a halfway decent conversation with Rachel Berry," he says through a jaw tightened to fight back the laugh that wants to come out. "Nerd chic and rainbow hugging can't bother you that much."

Dave shrugs. "I tolerate it for this," he says, gesturing around the empty room. "Berry knows about shit like this. Barney the Warbler knows about it. I don't."

"Don't call him that," Kurt snaps fast.

"It's not the worst thing I've called him," Dave answers mildly.

"But I don't want to laugh at the other things you call him."

Dave glances over. His frown eases a little and he crooks his eyebrows up.

Kurt looks away, mouth quirking up. "Shut up." He moves to the other side of the center table and starts shoveling the pile of trash Dave has made into the garbage bag. He sneaks a glance across at Dave as he works.

"He's my boyfriend," he says.

Dave's shoulders tense. Just a little bit, just the slightest shift, but Kurt sees it.


Kurt has a whole filing cabinet in his brain where he's noticed and stored things like that. It's what he can sometimes obsess over and replay again and again when he can't make himself stop thinking about Dave and all his mysterious ways. It would be easy to add this shoulder-tensing to that cabinet. One more card in the rolodex.

But he's bored with obsessing. He's tired of the mystery. He wants to flip to the last page of this book, damn it.

"So why do you hate him?" he asks, eyes dropping to the table in case Dave looks over. Dave does better without a lot of eye contact.

"The Barney answer really isn't enough?"


Kurt looks up after another minute when there's no answer.

Dave frowns across the table at him. "Let it go, dude. I don't hate him, I just get a lot of personal satisfaction out of glaring at his dorky ass."

Kurt meets his eyes.

Dave doesn't look away.

Okay. Okay, this is...close to a moment. Closer than Kurt's tried to get all year, anyway. He holds his breath and speaks carefully.

"Why do you hate Blaine?"

Dave exhales, and his face does this thing, this barely imperceptible wilt thing that Kurt would never have caught if he wasn't watching so closely.

"Didn't your dad ever tell you not to ask questions if you don't want to hear the answer?" Dave says after a moment, looking down at the table.

It's clean, there's no more mess. Nothing to distract this.

Kurt swallows a sudden bite of apprehension and goes for it. "Maybe I already know the answer," he says, trying for casual but his words waver a little.

Dave's eyes snap back up to him, but his reaction is not what Kurt expects.

He pushes away from the table, looking around for his letterman jacket and the duffel bag he carries his school stuff in, moving fast. Like he suddenly wants nothing more than to get away.

Kurt watches him. "Dave..."

"What?" Dave marches to the side of the room, grabbing his jacket from its careless pile on the floor. "What the hell do you want me to say, Hummel?"

"Tell me the truth," Kurt answers, breathless, feeling like something big is going on. Either in that room or just in his mind, something strange is happening.

"Fuck you," Dave snaps.

Kurt's excitement mutes a little. But it comes back quickly, when:

"You already know the truth, right, genius? And I already know what the fucking reaction is gonna be, so go get your ego fed somewhere else."

The jacket's on, his bag is in his hand. Kurt moves around the table fast, all but running to get to the door of that room before Dave can escape.

"How do you know how I'll react?" he answers fast.

Dave glares at him, but looks away. "Because you don't soil your precious self with people like me, still trapped in the closet. And you can't stop fucking telling me that. So fine, I get the fucking point. I keep my mouth shut and I hang around you and your Teletubby boyfriend and I don't say a fucking word, ever. And fine, sometimes I snap and glare at him, but fuck you for trying to call me out on that. It's the best I can do not to..."

Dave shakes his head, and suddenly he looks back at Kurt. His hazel eyes are bright, fierce. "That's what you want, isn't it? You want to know that the closet case who used to push you around hates your boyfriend because he's your fucking boyfriend. Well, you got it, Gelfling. Now you can get that much more enjoyment out of constantly reminding me that I...oh, sorry, people like me, aren't good enough for you."

He's hard to read usually. He gets gleams in his eyes that Kurt doesn't know how to interpret. But this, this expression and tone of voice and the way he's fisting that duffel bag so hard that his knuckles are white, this is easy to read. This is pain, frustration. Anger, real and deep and not sulky Karofsky anger, but the painful kind.

This doesn't slump him and steal his attractiveness from him the way the Karofky anger does. This blasts from him as he stands with shoulders squared and chin up, gaze steady and furious and hurting.

God. How did he ever hide this? How does someone hide...

Of course. All Dave ever does is hide, he's a pro at it.

Kurt opens his mouth. He shuts it after a moment.

Mystery solved. Here's the last page of the novel – Dave likes him, so much that he can't help but let it escape now and then in unseen glares at the person who now has Kurt.

Well. Kurt knows the ending now. Just like when he reads a book, he's got a choice to make. Is it worth it to go back to where he left off and get to the ending the right way, or is he ready to just toss the book aside and start on the next one?

Easy choice. Really, really easy.

But not, in the end. Because Dave isn't wrong about Kurt. If he harps and obsesses and brings up closets over and over again, it's because it's something that really matters to him. He didn't talk about not wanting to closet himself – even just part of him – just to get a point across to Dave. It's how he really feels.

He can't hide himself. He won't. Not who he is, and not who he loves.

Dave glares at Kurt – no, past Kurt, out the door. "Can I go now? Are you satisfied yet?"

Kurt swallows. He's glad to know, yeah, glad to solve the mystery. But now he has to deal with seeing the pain in Dave's eyes, the longing he never saw before. The loneliness, the wanting.

If this is how Dave's felt all year, then Kurt had about a thousand pointed barbs and catty moments to start regretting.

"You know..." When he speaks his voice is odd and airy. "I came out of the closet two years ago."

"Congratulations," Dave answers in a hiss.

"No, I mean...I'm out here." He shrugs, and smiles a little. "Just seems like as often as I lecture you about secrecy and closets, I don't mention that point a lot."

Dave drags his gaze back up to Kurt's face. "What point?"

Kurt meets his eyes. His smile grows. This is so big, he can't even let himself think about it yet. "It's safe in a closet, I know. But it's not so bad out here either. And...when you open that door and step out...I'll be out here."

Dave frowns.

Kurt doesn't look away from him. "I've got this huge ego, right? Maybe I think that should be some pretty meaningful incentive."

Dave's throat works. His expression shifts, and Kurt reads it clearly – he's trying to get that mask of his back. That neutral, mute attitude he wears all the time.

But he can't. And that makes Kurt's smile get even bigger.

Dave doesn't want to guess. He's kind of like Kurt that way – not fond of uncertainty. So okay...Kurt drove this confession out of him, the least he can do is let Dave read the back page, too.

"I'm saying," he says through his grin, "that if you want to try to work your way out, I'd be willing to wait around for you."

Yeah, that got the point across. Dave's brow smoothes of its angry little furrow. His lips part, his eyes get round. He swallows.

Kurt leaves the doorway, moving up to Dave slowly. "I'm not the most patient boy in the world," he warns, "so you should probably let me know if there's even a chance. If the incentive is enough."

Dave watches him coming, looking lost. "If the..." He swallows again. "Kurt. Come on. This is..."


"This isn't what..." He shakes his head. "You don't like me. You've got your dinosaur boyfriend, and...and this is a pretty fucking fucked-up way of trying to get someone to..."

"Because yes, that's what PFLAG has taught me," Kurt answers with a faint laugh. "The healthiest way to help someone is through temptation and innuendo." He reaches for Dave's arm.

Dave jerks away, staring at Kurt in alarm. "Stop. This isn't fucking funny."

Kurt drops his hand and schools his expression. "Dave. You know me better than that. We may not be best friends, but would I really offer myself as some kind of reward just to trick someone into coming out?"

Dave scowls. "You have a fucking boyfriend."

"No, I don't. Blaine and I broke up."

"You forgetting I was here ten fucking minutes ago? Since when are you 'broke up'?"

Kurt glances at his watch. "Since...about an hour from now, when he gets home and reads the text I'm going to send him." He inches in a little, casual.

Dave eyes him. "Right. You're gonna break up with Mr. Perfect for my fat ass by text?"

"You're not fat, and stop fishing for compliments when I'm already throwing myself at you."

Dave snorts, but something like a tilt crooks at the side of his mouth.

Kurt grins at that. "And sure, what's wrong with texting? You know how Blaine broke it off last time we did this? We were at Starbucks, and he had them write 'Blaine's Ex-Boyfriend' on my cup so when the barista called it out he could look at me and say 'hey, that's you!'"

Dave stares, trying to read his face for any lies. "That's...kind of funny, actually."

"I thought so." Kurt shrugs. "We've been dating since last year, but we haven't been exactly serious for a while now." A thought occurs to him and he smiles slowly. "As a matter of fact, things started getting less serious right around the second month of school. After we took a wildly awkward trip to Lincoln to visit our first gay bar."

Dave stills, looking torn. "That was a fucking disaster, Kurt."

"I know." Kurt laughs. "Blaine was the only one who had any fun. But I got something out of it. I figured out that a guy I had all but dismissed was searching for something the way I once did. I saw..." He slips in a little closer, and Dave doesn't seem to notice. "I saw that you were trying. That you were confused and really trying to figure things out, and...I understood that. It kind of...made you real to me, I guess."

He's never put this together before, but now that he's saying it it's becoming clear in his mind. Obvious.

"Before that night...being with Blaine felt vital. Like I had to be with him because he's literally the only person I had met who went through what I went through. And I won't pretend that I walked out of that club thinking, you know, 'Kurt and David 4-eva," he adds, drawing the 4 in the air with his finger and a heart around it, and he's a dork sometimes but Dave actually smirks at that, so he doesn't regret it. "But I walked out understanding that it wasn't Blaine and me against the world. There are a lot of us. And after that it didn't seem to necessary to fasten myself to Blaine."

The more Kurt talks the less uncertain Dave looks. He's not all the way there when Kurt's done, but the doubt is leaving and something brighter is taking its place bit by bit.

Kurt's smile fades, though, as he studies Dave. "There are a lot of gay kids my age. There are also a lot of out gay kids my age. Blaine isn't my only option, you're not my only other option. But I..." He hesitates, more nervous suddenly. "I like you. I think I could spend years trying to figure you out and never get bored. Which is a far cry from what I thought about you last year," he can't help but add.

Dave snorts and relaxes all the more, like the words of warning actually help make this all more believable.

"I want to try it," Kurt says. "But I won't wait around for someone who doesn't plan to ever show up, so..."

"You're serious," Dave says. It's not a question.

Kurt nods anyway.

Dave searches him all over, his face, his body, his hands fidgeting at his sides. Like he's seeing Kurt for the first time and wants a moment to let it sink in.

Kurt takes a risk, moving a step closer and holding out his hand.

Dave looks down at it, and back up at Kurt's face. He edges in and lifts his arm a few inches and then hesitates.

Kurt meets his eyes.

"I have to..." Dave swallows. "I wasn't much time...?"

"If I know there's a chance?" Kurt speaks gently, seeing the fear in Dave's eyes easily. Reading this previously inscrutable face, picking out how overwhelmed this is making Dave feel. "I'm not about to put off college or anything," he says with a soft smile. "But there's still a few months left in the school year."

"And you're...okay, if I take that long to...?"

"It's not ideal," he admits, "but I get the feeling you're worth waiting for."

"Oh, Christ." Dave rolls his eyes and grins, but it's faint and it vanishes fast. "I'll...let me think about..." He frowns suddenly, looking annoyed at himself. "I'll try."

Kurt lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding, and his smile returns to full volume.

Dave reaches out abruptly, taking hold of Kurt's outstretched hand like it will seal the deal somehow. He's terrified, Kurt can tell. But it's not the same as Karofsky's fear-of-discovery terror. This is the terror someone must feel before stepping out of a plane for the first time with a parachute on their back.

Kurt slips his fingers through Dave's and smiles, and maybe it's not kissing and dating and all those warm, nice things. But if Dave keeps looking at him like this, like he's skydiving and Kurt's his parachute...

He can live with that instead of giggles and kisses, for a while.

It doesn't take as long as Kurt thinks. In fact, it takes exactly one week.

"-and that's why the stereotype bothers me so much." Kurt finishes up his answer to the Topic of the Week with a sigh. "I hate the idea that the things I like, Barbara or Sondheim or whatever, is looked at like it's just par for the course. 'Oh of course you like Streisand, you're gay.' You know? Like I can't make personal choices, my sexual orientation makes all the choices for me."

Alex starts clapping from his chair, and Kurt bows towards him solemnly before he sits back and looks over to his right.

It's Alex's Topic, so he stifles the applause and smirks at the next chair over. "Care to speak up, Dave?"

Dave looks up and glances around. He catches Kurt's eye and flashes a faint smile.

Kurt frowns instantly, wondering why he looks so pale and nervous. He's been staring at Dave nonstop all week, he doesn't recognize this particular express-

"Here's the thing that gets me," Dave says suddenly, looking away from Kurt and out at the instantly stunned group. "My dad's Catholic, right? I mean, like something from a sitcom, as big a stereotype for Jesus as Kurt is for Streisand. So I grew up hearing that there's shit you just don't talk about, and one of the biggest things is sex."

The room is dead silent around them when Dave pauses. Kurt can't take his eyes off Dave's profile but he's willing to be everyone's pretty much gaping the way Kurt is.

"And it's not just my dad, it's how everybody acts. Some shit you just don't mention in polite company, you know? The bedroom's this huge taboo private thing, and nobody is supposed to share what they do there. Got a leather fetish? Shut the fuck up about it, save it for the bedroom. Like toys, or blow-up dolls, or sheep? Keep it to yourself. No matter what it is. Dudes who fuck their wives once a month like it's a bill they've gotta pay, they still hide it like it's dirty. You jerk off? If you say something about it you're a pervert, even though everybody fucking does it."

Dave shrugs suddenly and sits back, staring hard at the room around him. "So why is it that if you want to fuck someone with the same shit between their legs that you've got, suddenly it's everybody's fucking business? Why is being gay the only thing about your sex life that you're obligated to tell people about? My dad's so fucking puritan I couldn't even bring myself to ask him why I was growing hair down there when I was ten, but I have to sit him down one on one and not let him get back up until he thoroughly understands that I will be fucking or fucked by dudes for the rest of my life?"

There are a few murmurs of agreement. Kurt can't look away, he can't tell who it is. Probably Mary, or Steve, or one of the people who are still pretty much closeted.

"I'm gay," Dave says.

Kurt's hand rises to his chest. He isn't sure he's even breathing.

"I mean...yeah, I'm gay. Why does that mean that unlike every person in the world who isn't gay, my private shit is up for discussion? And not only do I need to make sure everyone knows and understands it, but I'm not a real gay until they do? Until my dad and my friends and the kids at my school all know what I do in my bedroom, I'm somehow wrong. It pisses me off, you know? Who decided that we deserve to be put on display?"

There's a pause. Alex doesn't speak - Dave's words aren't especially Topic related - but after a moment one of the older men in the group, Jamal, this gorgeous positively black-skinned import from England, pipes in and breaks the silence.

"Not meaning to sound blasse," he says in that accent that makes Kurt wish for things he shouldn't want, " I the only one who didn't know you were gay? Or did you actually just come out?"

Dave grins at that, faint. "The second one, I guess."

"Holy shit," Alex breathes. "You go, Dave!"

The silence is gone by then. People are already out of their chairs, closing in on Dave with laughs and cheers and amazed words.

Blaine leans in while Kurt is finally managing to get some sense back now that there are people in his way and he can't just gape at Dave like he has been since he opened his mouth.

"I'm not getting you back, am I?"

Kurt looks over, and the moment he sees Blaine's easy smile and proud eyes he twists in his chair and grabs Blaine, because he has to grab someone and Dave is occupied. "Oh my God!" he breathes into Blaine's shoulder. "You are not getting me back," he confirms with a dazed laugh.

"If you don't mind my saying, mate," he hears Jamal say suddenly behind him (he can pick that voice out of a crowd no problem). "Seems a bit odd, you coming out as part of this whole speech about how wrong it is that you have to come out."

"Heh, yeah, I guess so," comes Dave's answer, and the chattering around them dies down to a murmur - Dave's voice has been a rare thing for months now, seems like now that he's talking nobody wants to miss a word. "But they're both true. I do think it's bullshit that I've gotta sit my dad down tonight when I get home-"

Kurt grins so hard Blaine actually laughs at him.

"-and talk about my supposed future sex life with him, but...I guess it's just like anything else you don't really want to do: when you've got a reason to speak up that's better than all your reasons for being quiet, you speak the fuck up, right?"

He doesn't remember getting up or moving, but a moment later Kurt blinks and he's sealed against Dave's chest like an eel, grinning up at him, and he's pretty sure he knocked a couple of people over to get here but what the hell.

Dave smiles down at him, red-cheeked and sheepish but there's not a trace of fear in his eyes. "I'm calling your bluff, Hummel. Now you've gotta date my dumb ass."

If Kurt beams any harder his skin will melt off. "Oh, damn," he says through his grin. "Sucks to be me."

"If Dave's lucky," Jamal says with a laugh as the crowd starts to break up. There is no recovering this meeting, so Kurt doesn't bother trying to get people back into their chairs. They'll all be back next week, no doubt about that.

Kurt grins at Dave and doesn't blush (much) at Jamal's words, and the only thing that makes them look away from each other is Alex's voice behind Kurt.

"So, Blaine...that means you're single now, right?"

Turning away from Dave is hard, but seeing the shade of red Blaine turns makes it entirely worth it.


happy birthday! again!