The third installment in what I've begun to call my Abstract Noun Series or, more generally "What Blaine and Kurt have learned from each other". (Wildly creative, I know :) ) Review when you get to the end? They make my day.
Kurt spent the first part of his life feeling invisible.
Well, his fashionable clothes stood out, as did his lively personality. But Kurt, the average human being striving for acceptance and friendship and perhaps just a little empathy, did not.
He was caught in a kind of limbo, with friends, like Mercedes, who could joke with him about all of the things he loved—clothes, magazines, music—but who lacked a vital ability to comprehend what it was that he went through every day at school. He loved her like a sister, but sometimes, he wasn't quite sure that she understood. How could she? She was bullied, as well, but they weren't trying to beat the very essence of what made her Mercedes out of her. They, this vicious minority of teenagers who thought they ruled the school, had decided she was going to be on the bullied end of the spectrum, and had just needed some reason (Glee Club, this time) to bully her.
Kurt, on the other hand…there was something about him that scared them. They saw him daring to be different and they feared the day when the rest of the student (or, eventually, world) population would realize that they didn't need to be followers.
Glee Club was one of the first times he felt visible, felt like he was noticed for him and not for whatever labels ("gay", "fashion-obsessed", "high-voiced") people assigned to him. Through singing, he shared the true emotion that he often hid beneath bitter sarcasm. Through being part of this family, because that's what they were, he made his fashion sense part of him, rather than an attempt to be noticed.
They were all there for him. Bumbling or misguided, sometimes, but always earnest. Mercedes was there for him when he needed a final push to come out to his father. They were there for him when his dad was sick and he needed a few shoulders to cry on. Finn was there for him at a final moment when he was feeling so isolated he wondered whether being himself was worth it. That song at their parents' wedding reminded him how lucky he was to have these people, and how hard they were trying.
But there were times when it wasn't enough. There were times when he wished that, only once, one of them would stand up and demand that the bullying was absolutely unacceptable and needed to end now. Caught up in their own beliefs that this was just the way life was, they lacked the bravery to do that.
There were also times when he wished, as much as he loved and appreciated his friends, that a stranger would offer a hand to help him off the ground. It really was nice of the guys in Glee Club to offer him Secret Service-style protection, but it disgusted him that it was necessary.
Mr. Schuester thought he was letting the bullying get to him more than usual. Kurt thought that the school was doing the same.
Perhaps that was why he was so easily drawn to Blaine, a perfect stranger who had offered a helping hand (literally) and flat-out refused to believe that nothing could be done. This was what Kurt wanted—a friend who could empathize, not just sympathize. A friend who saw how much pain was hidden behind the bitter shell and refused to brush it off.
When Blaine offered a hand, Kurt suddenly felt visible again. Like someone was finally breaking through the layers of "no, I'm fine" and "that's all right, I don't need your help" and seeing the "yes, someone, please help me" beneath. But that wasn't quite true either, because Blaine wasn't just someone. He was Blaine Anderson, who had a kind, infectious smile and held hands with people he'd never even met and had an absolutely amazing singing voice and was way too charming for his own good and practically radiated sincerity.
Somehow, even though Kurt was at Dalton, where he wore a standard uniform in place of his designer clothes, and sang a back-up part to someone else's lead vocals, he felt more visible than he had at McKinley. Because, as mildly unacceptable as straying too far out of line was at Dalton (and he had changed that in the Warblers by the time he left), watching a stranger get bullied without doing something about it was worse. It was intolerable, unspeakable, almost sacrilegious. And, for that matter, so was bullying. These kids got it. They understood (and it really was a wonder that all teenagers, all adults, didn't) that basic civility to other people was a fact of life. They didn't have to think about their no-bullying policy. Bullying just didn't happen.
Even while Kurt was in his phase of blind hero-worship, Blaine got to see his true self. Blaine saw Kurt with messed up hair and in his pajamas and told him ten or twelve times (until Kurt believe him) that he didn't care. They talked about all the things that Kurt had shared with Mercedes—Vogue, singers, movies, choir—but they also talked about things that Kurt had never felt comfortable discussing with anyone else—friendship, bullying, parents. Kurt slowly accepted that he could let someone in, let someone else see his fears and insecurities, let them see him, and it would alter nothing except to make their friendship closer.
When Kurt stopped his blind hero worship of Blaine (and it took a while), he got to see the Blaine that had been hiding behind professed self-assuredness and cautious fitting in. He saw a friend who wore his hair curly and took out his contacts in favor of black-rimmed glasses at night. He saw Blaine, the dorky goofball who jumped on furniture alarmingly often and thought stuffed animals on Valentine's Day were adorable and had the high school football playbook memorized and was absolutely terrible at romance. He saw that Blaine, who he'd always thought of as courageous Blaine, as though the adjective and the name were inseparable, needed a friend to help him be brave, sometimes, too. That was what he felt most guilty about after their fight over Rachel. If he was allowed to falter and feel insecure and ask for support from Blaine, then he should be returning the favor.
That week that they spent barely speaking to one another, the thing that Kurt missed the most was that openness that they had established. He wanted the closeness of their friendship back. They each watched their best friend bottle up his emotions and hide behind bitterness or politeness. They watched as the person they knew slowly became invisible, and that was when they knew that their friendship was more important to them than any lingering frustration they felt toward each other.
When Kurt sang the line "Take these sunken eyes and learn to see" during his "Blackbird" performance, Blaine's eyes shot open, and something began to click.
And when, during his confession, Blaine said "I've been looking for you forever," Kurt's heart nearly jumped out of his chest, because somehow, somewhere, he'd been waiting for someone to say that for him. For someone to see him.
He didn't feel isolated anymore; he wasn't invisible. Blaine saw him.
A few weeks after they started dating, Blaine and Kurt were sitting across from each other on Kurt's bed, homework in hand as they listened to the soft music playing from Kurt's iPod dock in the corner. "Blackbird" came on. By the time Kurt looked up, a few lines into the song, Blaine was already staring at him, indescribable warmth in his eyes. Kurt couldn't help but smile back.
Blaine joined their hands.
"I'm glad you turned around on that staircase and saw me," Kurt declared after a moment.
Blaine squeezed his hand in a gesture that conveyed his understanding of how much Kurt meant by that. "So am I."
Thanks for reading! Emily.