He heard the locker slam beside him, wincing reflexively and turning away from the sound. A forearm across his face covered the words written there and he hurried quickly down the corridor, away from whoever had made the noise, away from any threat. The choir room was to his right and he dashed in, closing the door behind him and dropping his bag beside the piano.
'Breathe,' he whispered. The word echoed back to him in the empty room. 'Breathe.'
Panic attacks like these were becoming more frequent, he knew. Due to his father's recent comments, he'd made a direct correlation between them and the growing size of the words that covered his body.
He turned his head at the sound of his name, drawing his arms around his chest and curling into himself. He relaxed only slightly when he was it was his brother. 'Finn,' he breathed.
'What are you doing? You look strung out.'
Finn didn't have the Labels plastered on across his face. Not like Kurt did. His were words of praise, of popular.
There was only one mar, a small word that curled its way from just below his ear to his collarbone. Frankenteen. The boy ran his thumb along it, obscuring it from view in a well-practiced motion.
Kurt shook his head. 'It's nothing.'
'No, it's not nothing, Kurt.'
He had to give him one thing: Finn could be perceptive. He sighed. 'You're right. But there's nothing you can do. It's my fight.'
'You don't have to do this alone,' Finn said, but his words were just words, and Kurt knew that. No matter what happened, no matter what he said, his stepbrother would try, but he could never control the bullies, never remove the hurt, never fully heal the angry words scarred across his face.
He stood up, grabbing his bag and slinging it over his shoulder. Empty, the choir room was a solace. With Finn there, it seemed crowded and suffocating. 'I'm going to grab some lunch before classes start again,' he murmured and slipped out the door, hiding his face behind his hand.
From his first day at high school, Kurt knew his life would be different from the other kids. They could go about their day, sitting with those that shared their Labels, never straying from their stereotype. The popular kids would wear theirs with pride, like badges, for the world to see and look up to.
Those on the fringe could perhaps hide the negative marks beneath strategically placed items of clothing or a thin layer of make up, revealing only those they liked.
BUt didn't have any marks he liked. Not ones that people could see, anyway. Oh his chest, just over his heart was a small word. It was one of the few he treasured. Sometimes it grew or shrank, but since his mother died, it had stayed relatively the same.
He knew his father loved him, and Finn too, to a degree. Even Finn's mom, Carole, harbored some kind of emotional attachment to Kurt. But since his mother died, the only person who really dared speak the words to him was his father.
And so the word remained small, hidden away from sight. Sometimes, Kurt wished he could show it to the world. But when others walked around with their own phrases of love marked across their faces or throat, large and easily visible, he couldn't bear to hear the laughs and deal with the humiliation.
But the part that made Kurt feel the worst was that everybody had a group. Everybody had somewhere they belonged, that shared the same Labels as them. People they could sit with, who wouldn't judge them for the words across their faces. Other theater nerds or math geeks.
Kurt had no one.
Sure, he had friends. But they were others like him, others whose Labels were too unique, too hateful to fit in anywhere else. Mercedes Jones, with divaspelled out across her nose. Rachel Berry with the large bossy, know-it-all, controlling. No one wanted to be friends with someone Labelled so negatively.
But Kurt didn't mind. Not when they accepted him, with the large words across his own pale face.
He had friends, and he was thankful for them, but they didn't make the words go away. They were too afraid of his Labels to Label him themselves. And without speaking the words, the words would never change.
The sun beat down against the roof of his car as he steered it out of the parking lot. Glee rehearsal - normally the highlight of his day - had gone horribly, horribly wrong. Mr Schuester had separated them into groups by gender, and even though he'd petitioned desperately to be placed with the girls, the teacher had insisted.
He knew before he had even joined their side of the room that the boys would stare. They wouldn't be able to take their eyes off the words. They didn't mean it, he just didn't fit in. Not with them, with their jocks, and footballers.
'Kurt, do you mind?' Finn asked, as they sat in the room assigned to them, going over ideas for their performance. Kurt had only just begun to open his mouth when his stepbrother interrupted. 'None of us really want to dress in drag.' His smile was apologetic, but no other boy shared in it.
'Yeah,' Puck - one of the guys who before Glee club had even caused a few of Kurt's names. Garbage was one specially from him - agreed. 'Sure, we're supposed to be singing girly songs, but that doesn't mean we have to do it girly. Why don't you just go spy on somebody your own type.' And he accompanied it all with a wink.
And Kurt knew who he meant by "your own type". The Warblers, their competition for Sectionals. They came from an all boys private school a few towns over, and as happens with any all-boys school, the rumors of "gay" and "homo" bounced round the McKinley High Glee Club quicker than lightning through water.
But he knew better than anyone that Labels weren't always positive. That Labels could hurt.
So that's how he found himself on the road, trying to tell himself desperately they were wrong. Dalton Academy wasn't a gay school, it was only populated solely by teenage males. Going there would not solve any of his problems, he would not find a spirit like his, battered and bruised with the hateful words tarnished across their face.
But still he passed the sign for Westerville, and then another for Dalton Academy, and he turned onto a long winding driveway, leading up to a parking lot. The school was a converted mansion, three stories high and boasting a large quantity of bay windows. A high chimney billowed smoke from one side of the building and as Kurt climbed the steps, the heavy wooden front doors opened.
A rush of uniform-clad teenagers swept out the door, repositioning bags on shoulders and shoving each other roughly as they headed towards cars. This was clearly the non-boarding rush, Kurt concluded, glancing at his watch.
Their faces were happy, smiling, labelled with words like talented, wealthy andgifted. It only confirmed Kurt's suspicions. These kids weren't like him, not at all.
But still, he stepped through the door, suddenly trapped by a stream of students. They, unlike their classmates, were not heading for the door, but were instead pushing down a corridor further into the building. They strode with a purpose, nudging each other along and whispering hurried words.
It was then that he saw him.
Kurt didn't know why he caught his eye, nor why he couldn't help but follow him as he rushed down the corridor, reaching out a hand to finally snag the back of the boy's blazer. There was nothing extraordinary about him, the words on his face only nice and pleasant.
The same as so many other people in the corridor, so many people in Kurt's life. But this boy stopped him from thinking clearly.
'Excuse me,' Kurt said, and the boy turned around, coming to a halt as students streamed past them. 'Hi, can I ask you a question? I- I'm new here.' It was a lie, but it was the first reasonable thing Kurt could think of at short notice. Never mind the fact that his dark jeans and jacket automatically gave him away.
But the boy only smiled, holding out his hand. 'My name's Blaine.'
'Come on,' Blaine said and grabbed Kurt's hand, dragging him by it down a side corridor. 'I know a shortcut.'
And from that point onward, things changed. That movement of Blaine's hand, reaching for his, had lifted the collar of his jacket and at his wrist, just above his life pulse was the word loved. It was just as small as Kurt's.
It was only a few weeks later when Kurt transferred to Dalton. A part of the reason was the new words appearing on his skin. Scum. Dead. But more than that, it was that little word he'd seen on Blaine's wrist.
Since that day, it had demanded his attention. When he met Blaine for coffee, he searched for it, willing the fabric to ride up and bare the word. When he was alone he thought about it, about what it might mean.
Did Blaine have a history, a past? Why didn't people tell him they loved him? Kurt knew why they didn't say it to him - they were too frightened of how he would react. The guys were scared he would take the words and pounce on them, using them as a reason for romance. And the girls were just scared that it would worry him too much, that he wouldn't believe them. Kurt knew. But what about Blaine? Was he gay? Did he have words like Kurt's just pushed aside and hidden, overpowered by the more normal Labels given to him by his friends at Dalton?
But he didn't see Blaine's word again.
Still, the urge stayed with him, and when the head jock, David Karofsky, threatened his life and his dad gave him the opportunity to transfer, he took it.
And now here he was, in his pristine new blazer, stepping through the corridors of Dalton Academy. Blaine was at his side, their shoulders brushing lightly together as he led him towards his classroom, and somehow, he felt like he belonged. His face didn't match the others, not by a long shot, but they didn't seem to mind like the kids at McKinley. They didn't stare with the same harsh eyes, didn't whisper more words, cause more to appear on his skin.
And Blaine was the best of them all. Blaine Anderson. That was his full name, Kurt found out. He spoke with his hands, sung like no one was listening and took Kurt's hand for no reason at all.
'Have fun in French,' he said, coming to a halt at the doorway. He squeezed Kurt's hand tightly before dropping it, repositioning his bag on his shoulder. 'Geometry's going to run long, I know, but meet me out the front and we'll go for coffee, alright? I have something I was to talk to you about.'
Something I want to talk to you about.
Kurt didn't know whether he wanted to sing or cry, whether it was a good thing or something horrible. He only smiled and slipped into the classroom, looking back over his shoulder to catch a last glimpse of Blaine before he disappeared down the corridor.
After class, on his way to the parking lot, Kurt slipped into the deserted third floor bathrooms. The highly polished glass of the mirror returned his reflection to him, and he could almost imagine that the dirty words were getting smaller, drifting slowly out of sight.
But no, he was kidding himself. Nothing had changed. Even when the students here didn't insult him to his face, his face didn't lie. The words didn't lie.
He reached for the soap dispenser, pressing some into his palm and lathering thoroughly before rinsing them off under the running water. He checked them for any last trace of soap, tore a roll of paper towel from its hook and dried them.
He was just looking up, raising his head to press his palms into his eyes, when he saw it.
It was so small that he wasn't surprised he hadn't noticed it before. The other words seemed to drown it out, to make it seem insignificant. But it wasn'tinsignificant. It was there, and it hadn't been there before.
He nearly dropped his bag into the still wet sink in shock.
Blaine drove, but Kurt could hardly keep still. His hands kept moving, twisting for each other. Every now and again he would lean his elbow on the edge of the window and run his thumb under his lip, over the word. Blaine shot him a sideways glance, but he said nothing until they reached the cafe and had ordered, taking their coffees and sitting down.
'What's go you so excited, Kurt?' he asked, finally.
The boy grinned. 'Someone called me gorgeous! I don't know who, but they did! Look, Blaine! You can see it, right there, beneath my lip!'
'I know,' Blaine said simply. 'I know.'
'Wait, what?' Kurt shook his head, trying to clear his disjointed thoughts. 'You know? You knew it was there? How- I- I only found it just after class.'
'No, Kurt, I-' He paused, drawing a deep breath and shifted his hands against the formica table top. His blazer slipped upwards, revealing that small little word - loved - and it drew Kurt's eye. 'I know who called you gorgeous.'
Kurt blinked. 'You do?'
'Wha- I mean, who?'
He bit his lip, running a hand roughly through his hair, separating the strands of gel and Kurt caught a glimpse of what it would be like untamed: curly, wild and beautiful.
'This is really awkward,' Blaine said finally, reaching for Kurt's hand. He ran his thumb along the smooth skin of his knuckles, where bright now sat, small and unnoticed. 'But, Kurt… Are you gay?'
'Oh, God,' Blaine said quickly, dropping his hand like it was on fire. He drew himself backwards, as far away from Kurt as he could get without tipping his chair backward. 'I'm sorry to assume, I just- you have the Labels, Kurt, and I thought that you'd have to be, but I should know better than anyone that Labels are just Labels, that they don't really mean anything! I'm so sorry, I completely overstepped the line! It's not cool for another guy to ask if you're gay. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.'
He reached for his bag, trying to stand up, but falling backwards heavily onto the seat instead.
'Blaine,' Kurt said, reaching out to take his hand again. 'Blaine.'
'Mm?' His eyes flicked back to face Kurt, and in seconds, his look of panic seemed to dissipate. 'Oh.'
Kurt nodded. 'Yeah, I'm gay. I just- nobody normally asks.'
'They just assume?' Blaine asked, squeezing Kurt's hand tightly. 'God, I know what that's like.'
'You- you do?'
'Oh, yeah, definitely.' He nodded, his eyes away from this moment, this table and them, like he was thinking back on the memories. 'It took me months after transferring to Dalton before they were obscurable, and everyday before then, people just took it for granted. They didn't think that maybe you got that Label because of some game somebody played in Middle School, or a word people were getting to know in Elementary School. That it never referred to you, but became your Label through chance.'
'Then you're not-?' Kurt asked, because he had been so sure, especially, when Blaine checked.
'Gay? Of course I am.'
And Kurt breathed a deep sigh of relief.
'But it still hurts when they assume, you know?'
He nodded, because he did know. He understood.
Blaine watched him, studying every part of his face as if waiting for an argument to crop up their. Suddenly, he dropped his eyes to the table. He considered it, taking in every change in color of the plastic. His chest rose and fell, and Kurt had the distinct idea he was trying to build up the courage to speak before it failed him altogether. He knew that feeling too well, also.
'I- I was the one who said you were gorgeous.'
'What?' And there it was again, that traitorous mouth that made Blaine think the wrong things. 'I mean- I just didn't- you don't-'
'Kurt, stop. I'm sorry. I- I didn't mean it like that.'
And that almost hurt more, but Kurt grit his teeth and didn't let it show. 'How did you mean it?' he asked in a small voice.
'You just-' he said, and the pity in his eyes was overwhelming. 'I see the words on your face, and I see that you fight against it, but everyone is too scared to say something nice, to put a new word there. I wanted to contribute. I wanted to make you feel as though not everyone was against you.' He smiled. 'Because I'm not against you, Kurt.'
Kurt returned it, taking a small sip of his coffee. 'Thank you.'
And even though a part of him wished Blaine had meant it as more than a platonic friendship, (and God, the hope of finding another gay boy!) he sincerely meant it.
The next day, on his way towards his first class, Blaine caught him by his elbow, pulling him sideways into a small nook. From there, they could watch the other students pass without being seen.
'Kurt,' he said quickly, and he held out his arm, pulling his sleeve up past his elbow. 'I told you I was gay, but I didn't show you my Labels.' And he reached for Kurt's hand, pressing it against a small word curled into the crook of his elbow.
Kurt didn't know what to say. This was personal, sharing in Blaine's hidden Labels, and he felt that in that moment, staring at the smooth skin, he was learning something about his new friend that not many people got to see.
And he cherished it.
His hands reached for the fabric of Blaine's shirt, pulling it back down the sleeve. His thumb lingered for a moment at the small loved on his wrist before removing his hands, shooting Blaine a small smile. 'Thank you for sharing with me,' he said.
'I just thought you might appreciate it.'
Despite Kurt's lines, he quickly began to fit in at Dalton. He didn't notice it at first, didn't notice the way when he followed Blaine into a room, people wouldn't just say hi to the friend they knew, but to Kurt as well. And Blaine had got him an audition into the Warblers, their show choir, somewhere where Kurt immediately felt at least a bit more at home. Glee was normal. Glee was something that made sense to him.
His school schedule made less sense, but he was getting there. Blaine would make sure he knew where to be and what time to be there, and he'd make sure to meet him outside his classroom for lunch or morning break, drawing him towards the cafeteria and making sure he got a full tray of food.
It wasn't until he saw the small word written between his pinky and ring finger that he thought maybe the way Blaine met him for classes wasn't normal for friends. It was a simple word, one he'd longed to have on his body for such a long time, but it seemed strange there, almost false.
He pushed it to the back of his mind and tried not to think about it, not even when he saw Blaine's wrist, held his hand on the way to his car for a coffee run and his thumb traced the word.
But it continued to grow. Each morning in the mirror, before he dressed, he'd check himself over in the morning, using his fingers as a measuring tool to see what words had shrunk and what words had grown. And it was getting bigger. The first time he saw it, it nestled snugly in the fold of skin between the two fingers. The next day, it threatened to slide out, a letter or two just visible when he closed his fist. By the next week it was taking over his hand, pushing the other words aside to make room.
It concerned him. It worried him that people were making assumptions, just another false word on his skin. But he wanted it so much to be real. He wanted to be someone's.
More specifically, he wanted to be Blaine's.
But he couldn't tell him. He couldn't show him the word, not when it meant so much to him.
Sometimes, when he stared at the word, he felt a pang of guilt. Blaine had showed him the word on his elbow, after all. But still, he wouldn't share this, this beautiful word that shouldn't mean to much as it did.
It wasn't until another word appeared that Kurt felt like he needed to talk to Blaine.
'How do I do this? How do I do this?' Kurt paced backwards and forwards in front of the door to Blaine's dorm, his hand hovering over the handle, then raised to knock, and then back at his side again. 'And I can't do this. How do I tell the guy I've barely known a month that I think he might like me? And that I think I might like him?' He muttered the words under his breath, barely breathing them out through his mouth, but they echoed like thunder through his brain.
He looked down at his hand, at the word that now covered most of the back of it. He couldn't kid himself that Blaine probably hadn't seen it, hadn't wondered what it meant. But the other word, still tiny and hidden above his own hip, he definitely would not know about. Especially if he wasn't the one who had said it.
'Blaine, I like you. And I think you might like me too. I have this word, on my hand, and I think it's about you and I. And then another one, that I'm pretty sure you said. Do you like me as more than a friend? Pretty please with a cherry on top?'
He sighed, running a hand roughly through his hair. 'I sound ridiculous.'
'Kurt?' And Blaine was at the doorway, and all planned, forced words go out the window. His hands are clinging to the frame and his eyes watch as Kurt comes to a halt, turning slightly so he is facing him head on. 'What are you doing?'
'You know what?' Blaine said quickly, reaching out to snag Kurt's hand. 'Just come inside. You look tense.'
His hand was warm and comforting, and he didn't let go, not even when he motioned for Kurt to sit down and joined him on the edge of the bed. His thumb ran light circles across the skin and raised goosebumps.
'No, Kurt. Don't talk. Just breathe for a bit. You can tell me when you're calmer.'
He snorted at that, the laughter escaping like a bubble from his throat. 'I'm never going to be calmer. Not about this.'
Blaine raised an eyebrow, but he didn't argue, and instead only inclined his head slightly to the side, motioning for him to continue.
'Blaine, I wanted to ask you a question.'
'You know, when I told you about the- the word on my lip?'
'Well, you said you didn't mean it like that. That you just wanted to care. But-' He paused, watching Blaine's face carefully for signs of rejection, anything that might give Kurt the way out before he spoke the words. 'I found some others recently.'
'Others?' His voice raised at the end, like he should be surprised, but his eyebrows were knit tightly together, like he was thinking things through, coming up with something to say.
'Yes,' Kurt said slowly, and he squeezed Blaine's hand tighter. 'Taken.' He pressed Blaine's fingers to the word, now spread wide across the back of his hand. 'And I now that's not true, but we spend a lot of time together, and I thought maybe other people were getting the wrong impression. That they thought we were dating.'
Blaine shoots him a look, as if desperate to hide, and all Kurt can think is Oh God, no, he never felt like this for me at all. But the words were out there now,and there was nothing to do but continue.
'And then I found another one.'
'Yeah,' Kurt said slowly. 'On my hip. It's still only small, still private.' He lifted up the corner of his shirt, just revealing the word. Mine.
'I-' Blaine said, his voice almost breaking, and any doubt Kurt had went out the window.
'I've had a crush on you since the day I first saw you in the corridor, when I pretended to be new,' he whispered quickly, trying to get the words out as fast as he could. 'I know, because there was nothing special about you, not in your words. You had the same words as everyone else, but still, I was drawn to you. That's what love is, isn't it? Not caring about the words?'
Blaine nodded, but all he could look at was Kurt's hand, at the word resting across it, and then back to his own. To his own wrist.
'I love you as soon as you grabbed my blazer and stopped me in that corridor,' he replied slowly. His thumb ran along the contours of the word, tracing its lines. 'You were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.'
And beside that now large taken, a new, much smaller beautiful appeared.
It was as simple as that, Kurt realised. As simple as one conversation, and his view on the word on the back of his hand changed. Taken was no longer just a wish, a hope, a false belief of those around him. It was true.
Blaine still met him before and after every class, grabbing his hand as they walked down the corridor. Maybe his grip was a bit tighter, maybe this thumb traced confidently over the word when Blaine wasn't thinking. But everything else was the same.
It wasn't until the first time they kissed that things seemed to really sink in to Kurt.
It was soft and simple, a chaste press of lips between classes, but Blaine had initiated it, and it meant the world to Kurt. It wasn't until it was over and he was stepping into his classroom and sitting down, drawing Blaine's name again and again and again in his notebook that he thought about it.
Kisses, holding hands, true emotion. They are the things that should be written on your body. Not how others Label you.
He loved Blaine. But that wasn't enough. Unless he told him every day that he was loved, that word would never get bigger, and neither would Kurt's.
Kurt's dad worried about him. He worried that he talked about Blaine too much, that he was putting his heart on the line for something that would prove pointless. He'd met Blaine only once, seen the words on his face, and that was enough for him. This boy wasn't like his son, couldn't share the experiences Kurt had been through and empathise.
His father hadn't seen the word at Blaine's elbow.
'I don't know about this, Kurt,' he said, leaning against the counter and watching as his son counted out his money before replacing it back in his wallet. 'I don't want you to get hurt. You've never been on a date before.'
'He's not going to stand me up, Dad. Blaine's better than that.'
'But how do you know that?' His father's eyes were dark, like they'd seen too much of the world, and Kurt wondered if maybe they had. 'He has the same Labels as all the other guys. All the other popular guys.'
'You haven't seen all of them, Dad,' Kurt argued. 'You haven't seen the Labels that really matter.'
'And you think you have?'
'I've seen more than you.'
'The two of you are not the same, Kurt. No matter how much you kid yourself.'
And that hurt. Because Blaine was like Kurt. He had the Labels, seared into his skin. And it hurt that all his dad could think was that they were different sizes, not so obvious
'Have you considered that maybe he's just had long enough with people telling him he's bearable that the bad words have moved. That he might need someone to tell him he's more than just okay? Did you ever think of that?' He was yelling, and he knew he'd regret it later, but he couldn't stop. Blaine was worth defending. 'Maybe I want my words to move too!'
'You should never be ashamed of who you are, Kurt.'
But that was wrong. The Labels weren't who he was. 'They're not me,' he muttered angrily. 'They're just how people see me.' And he grabbed his scarf off the back of the seat and wrapped it tightly around his neck as he left the room.
After that night, his father never asked about Blaine's Labels.
It was weeks later when their relationship progressed from chaste kisses into what Kurt had to assume was something more. Blaine lingered longer, let his fingers cup Kurt's neck, holding him closer, kissing deeper. It was soft and gentle and sweet, but it held the promise of more, of love.
And sometimes, they ended in tears.
'Kurt, I just- I'm sorry I just-' Blaine pleaded with his hands, trailing them down the smooth planes of Kurt's forearms. 'I didn't mean to push I just- I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.' He talked in hurried whispers, pressing their foreheads together, trying to make contact, but all Kurt could feel was the burn on his skin, the words seared there. The words he didn't want Blaine to see.
'You're just,' he whispered finally, letting his hand rest against the material of Blaine's shirt, over his stomach, 'so good with your words. They don't worry you. You don't get upset but I-' He bit into his lip, raising the skin where thegorgeous now stood bigger, slightly more bold. Blaine had been saying it a lot lately.
'You're scared,' he finished for him. 'I know.' He pulled Kurt tightly into his arms, never pushing the boundaries, trying his hardest to keep the material in place. 'I'm scared too,' he whispered.
'All the time. You think I don't worry that you'll see something you don't like? I have a lot of ugly words, too, Kurt.'
'But they don't get to you.'
'They get to me everyday.'
And Kurt thought about that, about Blaine's words. He sometimes wished he could photograph that moment, and show it to his father, to prove him wrong. Blaine was just like him, and he had the same fears, and the same issues. Even if he was more confident, and wasn't tormented every day by others, it still affected him. And Kurt could see that, even if no one else could.
But he couldn't share this moment. He couldn't do that to Blaine.
'I love you,' Kurt whispered, squeezing tighter around his boyfriend's shoulders.
'I love you, too.' He drew back to look Kurt in the eye. 'And someday, when you're ready, I want to try something. I want to make you forget the words. I want to make them meaningless.'
Blaine smiled the secretive smile that would make anyone else way, but Kurt reveled in it. 'You'll just have to see. When you tell me you're ready.'
It turned out to be months later.
Every morning, Kurt awoke and told himself I am ready. But what for? That was always the next question lingering at the back of his mind, and it worried him that he didn't know. How could he be ready if he didn't know what he was ready for?
So he waited, and Blaine was patient, not straying towards the line of his shirt anymore, not trying in the heat of the moment to free the skin from its confines of material, not wandering too close to the words.
He let Kurt lead, and lead Kurt did, until one day, when his hand slipped. He didn't know if he meant it, but suddenly his hand was up under Blaine's shirt, ghosting over the tanned skin. He couldn't see it, but he could feel the light indentations where the words were.
'Can I-' he murmured softly. 'Can I see?'
Blaine watched him. 'Are you ready?'
And without even really knowing what it meant, he knew somehow. 'Yes.'
'Then we'll do this together.' And slowly, Blaine lifted his shirt over his head.
Kurt's breath caught in his throat. It fermented in his lungs, quickly turning stale.
Tanned skin quickly became uncovered, marked all over by the words. They seemed somehow less visible on Blaine's skin, not as stark a contrast as Kurt's.
And he looked beautiful. His breath was coming in short bursts, a flush creeping slowly across his cheeks and down his neck. 'Kurt,' he gasped.
'I- I feel a bit exposed here.'
'Oh,' he grimaced. 'Right.' He reached for his shirt, trying to pull it over his shoulders, but it caught halfway.
'Here.' Blaine guided his hands, lifting with gentle fingers. 'Let me help.'
And then Kurt's shirt hit the floor and Blaine was running his palms along the smooth skin of Kurt's chest, catching on the word below his heart. Loved. 'You are so beautiful,' he whispered, and the words shifted slightly, shuffling to fir the growth of the word on his hip.
'How did you get them all so small?' Kurt whispered, because his words meant nothing right then. The ring of hate that circled Blaine's waist almost made him cry.
'Time, and accepting friends,' he smiled. 'But I have a different plan for you.'
'Yeah. Do you trust me?'
There was no hesitation. 'With my life.'
'Pass me that marker.' The pen was resting on the desk behind him and Kurt reached out a hand, snagging it between shaking fingers.
'What are you doing to do?'
Blaine smiled, tracing Kurt's skin with his thumb. He uncapped the marker. 'I'm going to cross them all out, every bad word.'
'How- how will that change anything?'
And he could. And somehow, it felt wonderful, as the thick dark lines ghosted over his skin, leaving their mark and obscuring the words. Harsh black against his pale skin, the same black as the words, and slowly they were obscured, one by one.
Blaine's movements were methodical, careful, and each time he came across a word he deemed worthy he kissed it gently and moved onwards. 'You are loved,' he whispered. 'You are beautiful. You are strong, and amazing and mine and perfect and special and wanted and loved. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.'
He whispered them again and again, a brush of gentle lips against smooth skin. It made Kurt shiver, but he could only watch, captivated as Blaine adored every inch of him, crossing out the hate and replacing it with his whispered words of love.
Kurt woke the next morning, wrapped only in the flimsy sheet and Blaine's arms. He curled into the man behind him - for that is what he truly was - absorbing his heat for a moment before slipping out of the bed.
The wooden planks of the floor made his toes curl, but he stepped gracefully towards the bathroom, trying not to wake Blaine with his soft footsteps. He turned the shower on hot and slid inside, letting the water caress his body, washing the black away. He watched it with wary eyes as it rinsed down the sink, freeing him from Blaine's beautiful black marks.
He didn't know what to think, what to do now that the words were back in view. He may have been trying to change Kurt's opinion of them, but they were still there and there was no way they were going away that easily.
But his reflection in the mirror told a different story. His skin, now clear from the marker, seemed brighter, less covered. And each word he saw, each word he could catch eyes on, were of love, care, and most of all good.
'Blaine,' he whispered, almost to himself. He could see it in his mind's eye now, hear it, Blaine's repeated whispers. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are gorgeous. It made his heart sing.
And he dried his body, wiping the last drops of black ink away. He smiled at himself in the mirror, reaching down to lift up his foot and inspect his heel. There they were, squashed together, small and tiny, so he could walk on them, stamp them into the ground every single day. And on his face, the only word he could see was loved.
So, I hope you guys liked it! This was posted on tumblr over the last couple of days in parts, but it was so much fun to write and the first kind of thing likes this that I did, so I'm very proud of it! You guys are awesome, and thats who this was for! Love you all!