A/N: Chapter 9! I don't fully know when I'll be posting chapter 10, but sometime next week probably.
That Saturday night, Rachel dropped a bomb at the dinner table.
"I won't be going to church tomorrow."
George dropped his fork. Betty, who had been staring intently into her casserole, snapped to attention, her expression horrorstruck.
"Neither will I," Kurt added. Rachel glanced at him in confusion but he just shrugged. "I don't believe in God."
Betty whimpered, her hand flying up to cover her mouth.
"I do believe in God," Rachel shot in, to the visible relief of their parents. "But I don't believe in Jesus. I'm Jewish."
"Goodness," Betty muttered.
"That is unacceptable," George said, trying his best to sound stern. He hit his fist on the table for good measure. "No one in this family is skipping church."
"We are." Rachel put her knife and fork delicately away and stood up. "I would appreciate it if you could inform everyone of the reason behind our decision. I had intended for Bud to do it," she glared in his direction, "but since he's joining me, it falls on your shoulders as our parents."
She walked out of the dining room and Kurt followed, smiling apologetically at George and Betty.
"That was kind of unfair of you," he said once they were on the second floor, "making it their responsibility."
Rachel put her hands on her hips, trying to cover her discomfort. "They're adults, Kurt. I think they can handle it."
The next morning, Kurt and Rachel joined up in Mary Sue's bedroom early and locked themselves in. For a few hours, all the way up until the mass was about to start, Betty and George knocked and pleaded but the teens remained resolute.
"I hate to do this to them," Kurt admitted when the adults had finally gone.
Rachel sat on her bed and pulled up a book. "I do, too, but if we're going to change things we have to stand firm on our ground. We need to shock people into reacting."
"And then we get hung in the town square."
"Funny," Rachel sniped. "They're not going to hurt us. Peggy Jane almost said 'damn' the other day and spent the next ten minutes crying. Not one of them has a mean bone in their body."
"Not one of them was sexually active," Kurt reminded her. "For the first time in their lives, their ignorance is being challenged. Some of them adapt and learn but others get scared. You know what follows that fear? Anger. Hatred. I've seen it happen, Rachel. I've had that hatred taken out on me."
"We've all gotten bullied," Rachel stated. She wasn't talking about Pleasantville anymore.
Kurt frowned and sat down by the vanity. His stomach ached and it was that same, slow hurt that showed up whenever he realized that his friends didn't notice half the things Karofsky did to him. They didn't understand and Kurt didn't try to explain it to them. "Right. I know."
Rachel looked very much like she wanted to say something but instead she hung her head and opened her book. The action reminded Kurt of Blaine and now he felt a pain of a different kind right in his chest. He'd done his best for the past week to distance himself from Blaine without avoiding him. It was exhausting but Kurt couldn't stand the thought of hurting the other boy any more than he already had.
Betty and George returned from mass looking a little sad but no worse for wear. The family had lunch together and then Rachel ran right out the door, rambling something about a mission. Kurt was less than thrilled with the thought of spending a whole afternoon stuck in the house, so he went to the Soda Shop.
On his way there, Kurt could tell he was attracting some looks. That was the problem with taking over the role of the main character: absolutely everyone knew who he was and if he missed so much as one step of his routine, they'd all be sure to hear about it.
Still, negative attention certainly wasn't anything new to him so he had an easy time brushing it off. People mostly looked confused, anyway. Kurt was just about to reach the Soda Shop when he saw a man standing across the street, staring at him. It took him a couple of seconds to recognize him.
"Big Bob," Kurt muttered and he could've sworn that the man nodded at the name. "The Mayor of Pleasantville."
They stared at each other for a few moments more, then the Mayor turned away and walked off. Feeling oddly victorious, Kurt entered the Soda Shop.
And immediately, every eye in the place was on him. Larry Williams played on the jukebox but aside from that, not a sound could be heard.
Kurt drew a deep breath and went up to the counter where Mr. Johnson stood. "Could I have a cherry coke?"
Mr. Johnson hesitated. "Sure, Bud," he agreed with a smile. "Anything else?"
"No, thank you," Kurt said, sitting down on a bar stool. He was trying to convey that he really wasn't up for answering any questions and fortunately, the others seemed to get the message as their conversations started up again.
The bell at the entrance rang again and Kurt turned his head slightly to see Blaine enter. The other boy grinned at him and went to sit next to him. He turned his bar stool in Kurt's direction, which meant that their knees were touching. Kurt reluctantly pulled away.
"I didn't see you at church," Blaine started casually.
Kurt snorted. "Didn't Betty and George tell you?"
Blaine looked lost for a moment. Then he got it. "You mean your mom and dad?" He shrugged. "They said that Mary Sue had gotten some crazy notion in her head about being Jewish and that you went along with it."
"So Judaism is known around here," Kurt mused. Rachel would be pissed to know that, she'd probably been hoping to introduce another completely foreign concept to Pleasantville. Although she'd in all likelihood still be the first person in town practicing Judaism. "And I'm actually not Jewish. I don't believe in God at all."
"Oh." Blaine fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat.
"We could talk about something else?" Kurt offered.
Blaine let out a nervous chuckle. "Yes, please."
"How can I still be grey?"
Kurt rolled his eyes and leaned against the flag pole. Another morning, another problem for Miss Rachel Berry. "Maybe you didn't spread your message of religious freedom thoroughly enough."
"But I spent all of yesterday after mass going around town and telling people about the Jewish faith," Rachel whined into her handheld mirror, clearly deaf to sarcasm at the moment.
"Maybe you need to actually have sex, then," Kurt said, "and not just imply you did."
Rachel snapped her mirror shut, ignoring the obvious jab. "I even talked to the Mayor."
"Really?" That was interesting news at least. "What did he say?"
"He told me that I'd never find a husband if I spent all my time skipping church and spreading lies."
Kurt wisely held back his laughter. At that moment, two bulky, grey boys in letterman jackets walked past them, shooting them the dirtiest looks. "At least you had some affect."
"I know," Rachel lamented, "you told me this would happen and I didn't listen."
Kurt patted her shoulder. "Look on the bright side: civilization didn't collapse."
"Does that mean you're ready to come out?" At Kurt's annoyed glare, Rachel held up her hands. "I'm just asking."
"I might as well," Kurt conceded. "I think the lines are pretty much drawn at this point; all the kids who showed up for our seminar still seem fine with us."
As if on cue, Blaine walked into their line of sight. Rachel's lips widened in a predatory grin. "I'll be right back."
She ran up to Blaine and Kurt immediately turned his head to look elsewhere. Across the school yard, two people stood in a passionate embrace. Kurt recognized one of them as Lisa Anne.
'Funny,' a devious voice whispered to him, 'Wasn't Lisa Anne meant to be Bud's love interest? Yet there she is, swapping spit with someone else. It's almost like that kind of thing doesn't matter anymore.'
"Quiet," Kurt hissed out loud. He closed his eyes and banged his head against the flag pole. Why was it so much more difficult to be by himself here than in Lima? He wasn't being bullied or threatened with physical violence, yet he felt much more out of sorts. He'd never resorted to talking to the voices in his head at McKinley.
While the classes at Pleasantville High School could never be called challenging, Kurt liked attending them all the same. Rachel, being a year younger than him in this universe, didn't share any of them with him. Blaine, on the other hand, did.
They sat next to each other in almost every class, making it easy to pass notes. Blaine had been a little bit reluctant at the idea of having any kind of conversation during class but he'd soon taken a liking to it. He'd only ever replied to Kurt's notes, though, until today.
Mary Sue wants to go to Lover's Lane again tonight.
Kurt read it and frowned. Why was Blaine telling him this? Another note landed on his desk, much more obvious than the last but the teacher had her back turned and didn't notice.
I think she wants to do it.
Kurt's hand twitched to clench around the note and throw it at the nearest trashcan. He wrote a quick reply.
From the corner of his eye, he could see Blaine trying to catch his attention but he ignored it, focusing on the blackboard in front of him which now read: X+Y=?
A third note flew over Kurt's head. It landed on the floor next to him. He didn't pick it up.
The bell rang and Bud was out of the classroom in an instant, leaving Blaine behind. Blaine grasped his stomach, feeling that strange ache he always got when his best friend ignored him. He couldn't understand what he'd done wrong this time but he suspected that it had something to do with Mary Sue.
Mary Sue, who wanted to have sex with him. Mary Sue, who was awfully good at kissing but never made Blaine warm the way the other boys described it. He only felt that way around Bud. Maybe he was broken.
He got out into the hallway, which was full of people. Johnny ran past him, all color from head to toe, and gave Blaine a friendly smile. Blaine smiled back. He always smiled back, even when he didn't feel like it.
"There you are."
Blaine closed his eyes automatically and Mary Sue kissed him hello.
She brushed a stray lock from her face and looked up through her eyelashes. "Have you given my offer any consideration?"
She would be so upset with him if he said no. The thought hurt but not nearly as much as having Bud avoid him.
But Bud had been avoiding him long before Mary Sue asked to go parking at Lover's Lane. He'd been growing more and more distant ever since he told Blaine that kissing was supposed to be more than just nice. Would anything change if Blaine told Mary Sue yes?
"I don't want to go to Lover's Lane," Blaine answered, not able to lie. Mary Sue's smile crumbled and the ache in Blaine's chest grew. He had to make this up to her. "But you could come to my house? It's bridge night at Mr. and Mrs. Scott's and my parents won't be home from seven to nine."
Mary Sue's eyes widened. "Y-your house?"
"Only if you want to," Blaine hurriedly reassured her.
"I want to," Mary Sue said, looking defensive. She gave him a shy smile. "I'll see you then?"
Blaine nodded and tried his best to smile back.
Kurt hadn't tried to talk Rachel out of it when she told him she was going over to Blaine's. He'd just sighed and told her "do whatever you need to do". It was a relief, really. She shouldn't have to try and justify her decision. It was a huge step, sure, but she was ready for it. Ready to lose her virginity.
She walked up to the Anderson house at ten minutes past seven. She rang the doorbell and knocked a couple of times, just in case. Blaine came to the door, looking handsome as ever, stepped aside to let her in and offered to take her jacket.
He was a perfect gentleman. Rachel couldn't think of a better boyfriend to have her first time with. Even if he hadn't told her he loved her yet ('But neither have I'), it was clear from his every gesture that he adored her.
They sat on the couch in the living room. Rachel made the first move. She always did. They kissed for a short while, comfortably sitting on the couch with a good few inches between most of their bodies, except for Rachel's hand on Blaine's knee. It felt good. Nice. She could do this.
Blaine pulled away first. "Do you want to come upstairs?"
Blaine blinked and Rachel huffed in frustration at herself. She'd gotten nervous and blurted out the first thing that came to mind. All she had to do was say yes, one simple word, and the night could begin. The most wonderful, memorable, magical, no-good, terrible, horrible oh God what was she doing.
"I'm sorry, Blaine, I- wait, what?" Rachel pulled her hand away. "What did you say?"
"Not really," Blaine repeated sheepishly.
Rachel closed her eyes. "Oh, thank God."
"I don't understand."
"I was doing this for all the wrong reasons," Rachel explained. "I thought I was ready to have sex but I'm really, really not. I told myself I was because I was getting impatient. I don't want to be grey anymore but I don't know how to fix it."
"I don't think you need fixing," Blaine assured her. "You're beautiful either way."
Rachel nodded, blinking back tears. "Thank you." She inhaled deeply and pulled herself together. "I guess it's another night of just kissing, then?"
She reached for Blaine's shoulders, but he grabbed her hands and gently steered them back to her lap. "Since we're being honest," he said, his voice sounding very small, "I think there's something I should tell you."
Rachel felt her heart stutter. Was he about to... ? But it couldn't be. She'd been right, Kurt had all but admitted it. Blaine was her love interest. He was made for her.
But he wasn't, was he? Kurt had told her so but she'd been too stubborn to listen. Too stubborn to see that all along, Blaine had been interested in one person and one person only.
"I don't think I like you that way."
His voice sounded so far away. She had to respond.
"Bud," she whispered. "You like Bud."
Blaine looked frightened. He nodded once, slowly, as if it took all his strength. "But I don't know why. We're both boys."
He looked down and Rachel followed his gaze. His hands sat on his knees, trembling.
Rachel could feel her heart break into a million pieces. She had no right to be hurting right now. Blaine had been scared and alone for so long, and when Kurt tried to help him, she'd shut him down. This was all her fault. "It's okay."
"Is it?" Blaine asked. He sounded doubtful but the fear on his face was beginning to fade. "But... I want to kiss him."
"That's okay, too." Rachel took one of Blaine's trembling hands in hers. "It doesn't matter whether the person you like is a boy or a girl. Either way it's love, and love is never a bad thing."
Blaine swallowed, looking near tears. "I thought I was broken."
Rachel reached out to hug him and he clung to her. "You're not broken, Blaine Anderson. You're one of the bravest, most beautiful people I've ever met. And I know Bud agrees with me."
Blaine's hands steadied at Bud's name and after a couple of shaky breaths, he drew back. His mouth dropped open.
"What?" Rachel demanded. "Is it my hair?"
"Y-your nose," Blaine stuttered.
Rachel's hands flew to her face. She shrieked and stumbled to her feet, still grasping her nose as if it might disappear.
She ran into the bathroom, where the nearest mirror was and froze when she saw her reflection. She dropped her hands and stared at the girl in the mirror. Dark-haired, big-nosed, fully-colored.
"Oh my God," she sighed, taking it in. "It's all back."
Blaine walked up to her, paying no attention to his own grey reflection. "Back?"
Rachel squeaked. "I'll explain later." She turned and shoved him out the bathroom. "First thing's first."
Blaine's brow furrowed. "What?"
"You need to go and tell Bud how you feel," Rachel instructed.
"I do, don't I?" Blaine said, more to himself than Rachel. He drew himself to his full height, which admittedly still wasn't much. "No, I don't need to, but I want to. Right now."
Rachel laughed and clapped her hands giddily. "He's at the Soda Shop. Go get your man."
Blaine nodded resolutely and ran out the door.
Rachel hesitated for a moment, then followed, her long her whipping behind her.
"Why don't you go home early, Bud? You don't look so hot."
Kurt smiled tiredly at Mr. Johnson. "I'm fine. It's just a bit of a headache."
Of course he couldn't tell his boss the truth; that he was grieving a relationship he'd never even had a chance at because at this moment Rachel and Blaine were alone in Blaine's house, probably already naked.
Mr. Johnson reached over and tugged the paper hat off Kurt's head. "Just go home and rest. I can handle the place by myself for one night."
Kurt sighed, too exhausted to argue. He took off his apron and headed for the exit. The Soda Shop was packed as always and there was a considerable crowd of kids standing outside, getting some fresh air. Most of them waved when they saw Kurt and he returned the greeting half-heartedly.
"Are you going home already, Bud?" Peggy Jane asked.
He nodded. "Mr. Johnson gave me the rest of the night off."
"You do look kind of tired," Tommy remarked, his arm slung around Peggy's shoulder.
"Gee, thanks," Kurt said dryly. Tommy shrugged apologetically.
Peggy's eyes widened suddenly. "Is that Mary Sue?"
Kurt swirled around on the spot. Blaine was running down the street and some paces behind him was Rachel, now fully colored with her old hairstyle and - although it was hard to tell from this distance - her old nose. Kurt barely had any time to think how or why before Blaine stopped right in front of him, leaning on his knees and gasping for air.
"Blaine?" Kurt tried tentively. "What are you doing here?"
Blaine straightened and looked straight into Kurt's eyes. "I-"
He reached to cup Kurt's face with his right hand. It was slightly sweaty and normally Kurt would have found it gross but Blaine was touching his face, coming closer, leaning in and - oh.
Kurt's eyelids fluttered shut on instinct as their lips met and color exploded behind his eyelids. Blaine's lips were moving against his and it took Kurt a couple of moments to realize that he should be kissing him back but in all fairness, he was pretty sure his brain was leaking out of his ears because Blaine was kissing him.
Blaine sucked on Kurt's lower lip, making his knees go weak. He grabbed Blaine's shoulder to steady himself and used the opportunity to pull him even closer. Blaine's left hand landed on Kurt's waist, warm and heavy and perfect.
Kurt began to feel dizzy and broke the kiss. When he opened his eyes, he was greeted by the sight of the most brilliantly hazel eyes he had ever seen.
"I wanted to see you," Blaine said and it took Kurt a moment to realize that his question was being answered.
"Well, here I am," Kurt whispered, not trusting his voice to speak any louder than that.
Blaine smiled. "Here you are."