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Come Here Boy: Chapter Eighteen

Title: Chapter Eighteen: Begin As We Mean To Go On
Author: sugakane_01
Pairing: 
Kurt/Blaine, Finn/Rachel, Sam/Mercedes, Mike/Tina, Artie/Brittany, background Brittany/Santana, 
Genre: Romance/Drama/AU, Slash (obviously)
Rating:  eventual  NC-17 
Spoilers:  Up to Season 2 Episode 22 (New York)
Overall Story Warnings: Violence, Strong Language, homophobic and biophobic language, explicit sex, underage drinking and drug use, high risk sexual behavior, emotional manipulation, bullying, racial slurs, implied suicidal thoughts...will add appropriate warnings for individual chapters

Summary: What Blaine Anderson wants, Blaine Anderson gets and from the moment he meets Kurt Hummel on the stairs at Dalton Academy he's determined that the beautifully broken boy will be no exception.  When lust turns to love and Kurt becomes more than a conquest, Blaine shows just how far the boy who has everything is willing to go for love- the one thing he's never had.

AN: Sorry for the delay in updating.  Long story short: I got switched to overnights at work and that has drastically reduced my writing time.  I'm doing the very best I can and just hope you guys can bear with me.  I can't promise an update schedule at this point but I will do my level best not to let it go this long without updates again.
Plus...I had to get over the finale.  I think I was at Hulk Smash levels of rage for a good week and a half lol.  As a Kurt-stan the end made it bar none, one of the WORST episodes of Glee for me ever...and my boo was thrown in the trash in the pilot so that's really saying something!

Disclaimer: I do not own Glee, or any of their characters.  

Chapter Warning: representation of homophobic attitudes and prejudices, offensive language, Finn logic, homophobic language

Previous Chapters: Chapter One: Maybe We're Victims of Fate // Chapter Two: The Root of All Evil // Chapter Three: The Disease That We Crave // Chapter Four: Coffee Republic // Chapter Five: The End Of The Rave // Chapter Six: Hits and Misses // Chapter Seven: Running Up That Hill // Chapter Eight: The Hole That We Call Our Home //Chapter Nine: No excuses, No Apologies, No Regrets // Chapter Ten: Last Friday Night Was Like A G6 // Chapter Eleven: All Apologies // Chapter Twelve: Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back // Chapter Thirteen: Come On Fallen Star // Chapter Fourteen: Sweet Dreams and Inevitable Realities // Chapter Fifteen: Explanations and Realizations // Chapter Sixteen: Without You I'm Nothing// Chapter Seventeen: Every Me and Every You




Chapter Eighteen: Begin As We Mean To Go On

Finn hated Mondays. He hated having to get up early and the effort it took to try and shake off the fun and freedom of the weekend. He hated having to immerse himself once again in the gilded cage that was persona at McKinley. This particular Monday had already gotten off to a bad start. Finn had woken up late, burned his tongue on his breakfast, spilled coffee on his last clean pair of jeans and then gotten a look that could only be described as murderous from Karofsky when the other boy had seen him climbing out of Kurt's Navigator in the school parking lot.

And now, as if his day hadn't been bad enough, Rachel was demanding Finn use his influence to get one of their friends to partner with her in their glee assignment.

"Rachel, I really don't understand what you want me to do here. I can't make anyone be your partner and I've already asked," Finn said tiredly.

"I know that Finn," Rachel said with exaggerated patience. "It's just…they like you," she said a wisp of vulnerability in her tone. "If I ask it'll seem like I'm being a diva. If you ask, they'll just think you're being a good boyfriend. Try again, please?"

"Rach-"

"I know they all think it shouldn't bother me," she rushed on. "And I get that, I do. I admit I've been a little over zealous in the past when it comes to my desire for the spotlight and I've hurt some-okay, all of their feelings by being so determined but…I don't want to be this person that no one likes," her voice hitched a little and she took a shaky breath. She looked up at Finn with wet eyes and his heart ached at the sight of her obvious distress. "The Glee club, we're the outcasts Finn. We're the misfits, the bottom of the high school barrel. If I can't make friends and be accepted there, then I can't make friends and be accepted anywhere. If I'm an outcast among outcasts, what does that say about me?"

"Rach," Finn said softly as he carded a hand through her hair. "You're not an outcast. You're beautiful and smart and you have a really good heart. You just kinda get a little intense and it sometimes makes you forget to be the awesome person you really are."

"I know," Rachel said miserably. "I'm trying, Finn. I just want them to give me a chance to prove it. I just want a chance, Finn."

Finn tugged Rachel into a hug and closed his eyes. He wished that the others could see the side of Rachel that he got to see. He wished they all knew that she was sometimes painfully insecure and really cared about what people thought of her and just wanted to have friends. He knew that she didn't always go about things the right way but none of them did, not really. He kept messing up and getting second and even third chances, so maybe it was fair that Rachel did too. "I'll see what I can do," he said kissing her on top of the head.


"Not just no, but hell to the no," Mercedes said slamming her locker shut and stomping off.

"No Finn. Mr. Schue said he wanted us all to learn to work together and you and I have never performed together. I'm not giving up my place and I'm not giving up my partner. I told you no before and I meant it. Rachel just needs to suck it up and deal," Tina fumed before turning her back on Finn and opening her physics book.

"I'm working with Mike. Maybe Rachel can be my partner next time," Brittany said before linking pinkies with Santana.

"Don't even bother, Snack Shack. I'd rather have a threesome with Cripples McGhee and Jewfro," Santana sneered as she and Brittany flounced away.

"No can do, bro. Like I said last time, Santana's already threatened to make my penis go from fully functional to non-existent if I try to leave her high and dry," Artie shrugged before he rolled off.

"Brittany and I already put a ton of work into our duet, man. It wouldn't be fair for me to duck out on her now," Mike apologized on his way into the cafeteria.

"You 're not seriously asking me this again," Quinn deadpanned. "I already made a commitment to Mercedes and even if I hadn't, there's no way I'd sign on to be Rachel Berry's backup singer. I play that role more than enough as it is," she said before leaving Finn standing outside the girls' bathroom.

"You were just at my house this weekend! You aren't even sick anymore, Puck!" Finn yelled into his phone.

"Only 'cause my ma worked all weekend and didn't know I was out. Look dude, I got a get out school free card and I'm using it," Puck replied. "Tell my hot Jewish princess I'm sorry but I'm not going to be back until my ma pushes me out the door kicking and screaming," Puck announced before disconnecting.

Finn groaned. The only people left were the two people he really, really hadn't wanted to approach.

He knew that Kurt and Sam both still had hard feelings about the first duet they were supposed to do and the way Finn had interjected himself into their business. The pair had grown a lot closer since then and Finn was sure neither of them would take too kindly to him trying to interfere yet again. He swallowed hard and tried to shake off the feeling of having failed the girl he loved more than anything. Finn hated disappointing people. He tried so hard to please everyone and hated it when he came up short. He looked down the hall and saw Rachel give him an enthusiastic wave and closed his eyes. As much as he knew he probably owed it to the two boys to let them be, he couldn't bring himself to let Rachel down. He was going to have to man up and ask Kurt or Sam to once again give up their duet partner.

A loud crash at the other end of the hallway got Finn's attention and he whipped his head around and was met with the sight of Kurt sprawled on the ground and Karofsky walking away from him. His feet instantly started moving in Kurt's direction but he stopped short when he saw the challenging look Azimio aimed at him. Finn knew if he went and helped Kurt up, by the time football practice came he'd be on the team's blacklist. Karofsky and Azimio would make sure of it. It felt awful to not to help Kurt out, especially in light of how close they were getting but Finn didn't see how he could both be a good friend to Kurt and save face with the team. Kurt looked up and made eye contact with Finn and the pain and sorrow in his eyes had Finn torn between doing what was expected of him and what he knew was right.

Before he had a chance to make up his mind, Mercedes and Sam appeared and helped Kurt off of the floor. Before they escorted Kurt down the hallway to his next class Sam gave Finn a look of utter disgust which succeeded in making Finn feel lower than dirt. He took in the way Kurt walked,slow and stiff like Finn did when he was trying to shake off a particularly vicious hit, and the sight made Finn feel angry, guilty, and sad all at once. Finn was so upset that even the feel of Rachel's arms coming around him, the smell of her hair and the soft press of her lips against his didn't make him feel any better.


Kurt's day had gone from amazing to awful in about five seconds flat. He hadn't even seen Karofsky coming; hadn't had time to brace for impact or prepare himself mentally for whatever physical, verbal or emotional attack the other boy had planned to launch. When he'd collided with his locker and then tripped over his own feet on the way down, Kurt had been stunned. The pain of hitting the hard tile floor and the embarrassment of everyone looking at him-some with scorn, some with pity and some, like Finn, with guilt -made it more difficult than usual to slip on his mask of indifference and blink away the hot tears of anger and anguish that always threatened to spill over after particularly cruel taunts or nasty assaults.

He flinched when he felt Sam's hand on his shoulder. He was unprepared for the touch and mentally he still felt as if he were vulnerable and unsafe. Before he recognized Mercedes' shoes and Sam's soft, reassuring voice asking if he were okay, Kurt had started to scoot across the floor, anxious to get away from the newly perceived threat.

"Whoa, hey dude, it's cool, it's me and Mercy," Sam said backing up a bit and giving Kurt a little space.

"Yeah Kurt, it's just us. No one's gonna hurt you, okay?" Mercedes said her voice full of quiet fury and concern.

Kurt forced himself to breathe slowly, let the tension drain out of his body and calm his fight or flight response. "Sorry guys," he whispered. "I just…I'm used to being knocked down. Not so used to being picked up after," he attempted to joke.

"You shouldn't be," Sam growled out. "No one should be used to being attacked at school on a daily basis. This isn't right, Kurt. I know I said it was your choice and I stand by that but you really, really ought to consider telling your dad what's really going on. This is getting worse and sooner or later someone's going to go too far and you're going to end up with a lot more than bumps and bruises."

Kurt shook his head. "It's been like this since middle school, Sam. Yeah, Karofsky and Azimio have stepped it up this year but none of this is anything new. I told you why I can't tell my dad. I just have to make it through the next couple of years and then I can leave the land that time forgot and the Neanderthals who dwell here in my rearview."

"It's still not right," Sam mumbled.

"It is what it is," Kurt said wincing as he tried to stand up.

Mercedes narrowed her eyes in anger but held her tongue as she collected Kurt's things from the hall floor. Sam's face was drawn and tight and he glared at the onlookers until they all turned away. He supported Kurt as he got to his feet and then Sam briefly made eye contact with Finn. Sam knew he didn't do a very good job of hiding his disappointment in his team captain. It burned Sam up that Finn could just stand there and watch while Kurt got brutalized by a guy twice his size. Kurt and Finn were practically family and in Sam's world family came first. Sam knew that Finn wasn't a bad person, but the older teen was entirely too concerned with popularity and folded too easily to peer pressure for Sam to really respect him as the leader he was supposed to be. Part of Sam wondered how much of Finn's reluctance to help Kurt was him protecting his popularity and how much of it was due to Finn's issues with Kurt's sexual orientation.

Looking around at the faces of his classmates and teammates, so many of them wearing expressions that seemed to say that Kurt deserved to be targeted because he was gay, enraged Sam. He couldn't help but wonder if he'd grown up in Lima if he'd exhibit the same type of casual homophobia that so many of his peers seemed to. Given the values his parents and grandparents had instilled in him, he doubted it.

Sam knew that his grandparents had marched with Dr. King and despite some of their southern, conservative views his parents had always taught him that judging people on the content of their character didn't just mean objecting to racism. It meant whether a person were a Christian, Muslim or Atheist, man or woman, able bodied or living with a disability, gay, straight, or anywhere on the spectrum that he was to judge them based on the type of person that they were. That fundamental principle had been drilled into him and it was because of those teachings that he saw past Artie's chair to truly righteous dude he was inside, why Sam never let the fact that he was Christian and Puck was Jewish keep them from being friends, why he didn't see color or size, only breathtaking beauty when he looked at Mercedes and didn't find it funny when the other guys on the team asked Mike if he was related to Jackie Chan or Jet Li. As far as Sam was concerned, Kurt was a really cool guy and the fact that he was attracted to other men didn't change that. Sam liked Kurt for who he was and he was pretty sure that his own sense of personal integrity was strong enough that even if he had grown up in Lima, he and Kurt still would have ended up friends.

As he and Mercedes walked Kurt to his next class Sam vowed to do what he could to stand up for his friend and his principles regardless of what it cost him.


Kurt had thought the incident with Karofsky would be the worst part of his day. He'd been wrong. He found himself cornered by Finn on his way to his fifth period study hall and though he'd anticipated an apology for not stepping up and helping him out earlier, what he got was absolutely rage inducing sense of déjà vu.

"So let me get this straight," Kurt said in a slow, measured tone. "You want me to back out of my duet with Sam-a duet that means a lot to both of us and our friendship-so that Rachel doesn't have to sing alone?"

Finn winced. "I know it sounds bad," he began, "and I asked like, everyone else first because I know after last time there were gonna be like, hard feelings but-"

"I can't imagine why," Kurt cut in scathingly. "This isn't going to work this time, Finn. I'm not ditching Sam. It's not fair to him or to me. He's my friend and he doesn't care what those knuckle dragging buffoons you call teammates think about it and I'm not going to repay his bravery and loyalty by abandoning him again."

"I'm not, jeez dude it's not like that!" Finn said, waving his hands. "It's Rachel, Kurt. She's like, super hurt. I know she's a little hard to take sometimes but she's not a bad person and she just wants a chance to prove that. She just wants a chance to have real friends."

"Finn, in order for her to have friends she has to be a friend," Kurt said softly. "I agree that she's not all bad but Rachel has, more often than not, marginalized everyone else in order to pursue her own agenda. She's left her tire tracks down the back of every member of New Directions-including you-in her quest to be the next Barbra Streisand and it's made people wary and resentful."

"I don't know what marginalized means but I get that she's made people feel bad," Finn said intently. "But she just wants a chance. How can she prove she's changed if no one gives her the chance to? You weren't always nice, you know and you're just as competitive and diva-ish as Rachel," Finn pointed out.

"I know well Rachel and my similarities," Kurt huffed. "It's the reason I'm not quite as hard on her as the rest of the club. And I know I'm not always a ball of sunshine and kittens. None of that changes the fact that I owe Sam this duet and I'm not going back on my word again."

As Kurt turned to walk away Finn grabbed him by his arm and turned him around. At the wild, frightened look in Kurt's eyes Finn raised his hands and took a step back. "Kurt, dude, I'm sorry-"

"Don't grab me," Kurt said, his voice slightly higher pitched and a tad shaky.

"I just needed to you stay and listen. I wasn't- I wouldn't hurt you, dude," Finn said, upset that Kurt could ever actually be afraid of him.

"You have hurt me, Finn," Kurt said bluntly. "You've stood by and watched while your friends have thrown me in dumpsters, you've pelted me with urine filled balloons and as recently as this morning stood by and did nothing while I was knocked the ground and injured so excuse me if my reaction to you grabbing me is to protect myself."

"Puck did all that stuff too," Finn pointed out. "He's the one who started the dumpster tosses and nailed your lawn furniture to your roof. Did you know he's the one who started the prank calls to your house and Burt's shop? How come you're scared of me and not Puck?"

"I'm not scared of you Finn," Kurt corrected. "I had an ingrained response to someone bigger than me, whose taken part in hurting me, grabbing me. I would have reacted the same way to Noah and I'm not afraid of him either. But if you must know, I'm more comfortable around Noah because he's more comfortable around me. You're still…coming to terms with things. I respect that but you need to understand that means things with you and I won't be like they are with me and Noah, or Sam or even Mike or Artie."

Finn chewed on his lip. "I'm trying," he said, because it was true. Finn was trying. He was confused a lot of the time and stuck between all the things he'd been taught to believe and all the new truths becoming friends with Kurt and getting to know Rachel's dads had revealed to him. More and more Finn was starting to wonder why he had to choose between being a good person and being popular and if he was, in fact, making the wrong choice.

"I know," Kurt said, not unkindly. "I know you're trying. I am too. It's hard for me not to get angry when you don't help me out when stuff like this morning happens or not let my feelings be hurt when you hesitate before giving me a hug," Kurt confessed. "But I know this isn't easy for you and I…I respect that you're willing to try. I truly believe at the core of who you are there is a good person."

Finn gave Kurt a sad smile. "The same's true for Rachel too," he said.

"Finn," Kurt said warningly.

"No, really Kurt," Finn pushed on. "Rachel's got a good core too; it's just really hard for her sometimes to remember to show it."

"Finn-"

"She said the Glee club was the bottom of the high school barrel. She said if she couldn't make friends in glee then she couldn't make friends anywhere. She's lonely, Kurt. I know you know what that feels like. I remember you know," Finn said softly. "After Mason died, I remember how sad and alone you were. Right up until this year."

"I lost my best friend, Finn," Kurt said sharply. "Mason was my only friend and when he died I lost the only person my age that didn't treat me like I was something they scraped off the bottom of their shoe."

"But you're not alone anymore," Finn said gently. "Rachel has me and her dads but that's it. No one comes over to her house or invites her to hang out. She's lonely all the time, Kurt. And she's been targeted, not as bad as you, but pretty bad. She gets the slushie facials and mean phone calls and people shoving nasty notes in her locker. She just wants a chance, Kurt," Finn pleaded.

Kurt knew that Finn was playing on his emotions but he also knew that Finn was telling the absolute truth. If there was anyone else in Lima that was as tortured and outcast as Kurt, it was Rachel. She dealt with much of the same homophobia Kurt because Leroy and Hiram Berry were not Lima's idea of the nuclear family. She was slushied in the hall, mocked by jocks, harassed by Cheerios, subjected to relentless cyber bullying on her YouTube and Facebook pages and generally treated like trash by the majority of the student body.

He also knew that Rachel wasn't completely lacking in redeeming qualities. When she took off the blinders and looked at the world around her, Rachel could be incredibly kind and even selfless. Rachel was, in a lot of ways, the ying to Kurt's yang. She was the only person who truly understood his drive and ambition to be a star and she was the only person who truly understood that for him the hostility and danger didn't begin and end with the school bell. Rachel was a diva and she was selfish and self-absorbed but she wasn't evil. For all her faults Rachel was also relentlessly optimistic and willing to see the best in everyone. She believed in second and even third chances. She was, much to Kurt's chagrin, a lot like him.

"This isn't fair, Finn."

Finn's shoulders slumped. "I know. I know you probably think I kind of suck right now dude, but I think you get it, yeah? If you don't do this duet with Sam, you'll still be friends. Hell, you've got the entire glee club. Even Santana likes you…I think. Rachel doesn't have that. This could be her chance to start making friends, real friends. If anyone understands what that would mean to her, I know it's you."

"God dammit Finn," Kurt swore under his breath. "I'll talk to Sam. Make sure he's okay with this. If he's not then all bets are off, understand?"

"Thanks Kurt," Finn said, surprising the brunette by wrapping him up in a hug. "I appreciate it so much and I know Rachel will too."

"Don't thank me yet," Kurt laughed. "Sam still has to agree."

"Sam's cool," Finn said. "I'm sure once you explain it to him he'll be okay with it."


"To quote Mercy, hell to the no," Sam said, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair.

"Sam, I know I owe you a duet and this isn't me backing out like last time-"

"Really?" Sam whispered trying to avoid attracting attention from the Liberian. "Cause it feels that way to me."

"It's not," Kurt whispered furiously. "I would be proud to perform with you-"

"Then why aren't you?"

"Because Finn, as improbable as this may sound, made an impressive argument on her behalf. I know Rachel, Sam. I've been Rachel. There are as many people who hate me because of my personality as there are those who hate me because of my sexuality," Kurt said.

"Then those people are stupid," Sam said.

"Sam," Kurt sighed. "You've never been on my bad side so you don't know. I've made it my mission to be able to fight back with my words. I can-and have-cut people into ribbons with them. I'm judgmental. I'm spoiled. I'm competitive and when the occasion calls for it, I'm manipulative. I can be petty and insulting and amazingly self centered. I am Rachel Berry, or at least who Rachel could be if she found a crazy group of people willing to give her a chance."

"I know I'm pretty new, but from what I've seen Rachel's had plenty of chances and pretty much blown them all," Sam countered.

"Give her one more," Kurt pleaded. "Sam, Finn told me Rachel said she felt like if she couldn't make friends in Glee then she'd never make friends anywhere. I think she has a point. New Directions is the Island of Misfit Toys. It's the one place in this whole school where mathletes and jocks, Cheerios and band geeks, former bullies and Broadway dreamers can all hang out together and no one cares what clique you belong to or what your social status is. If Rachel can't find a place with us, she won't find one anywhere."

"But it's her own fault she's a misfit among the misfits," Sam said.

"But it doesn't have to stay that way. One chance, that's all I'm asking you for here. Just give her this one shot. If you can't do it for her, please do it for me," Kurt pleaded.

"Oh dude you suck," Sam said throwing down his pencil and throwing in the towel. "I would've kept saying no to Finn. I would've even said no to Rachel but I can't say no to you. Not because I agree with you," he added quickly, "but because I can see how important this is to you. I won't pretend to understand but if it's this important to you, then ok."

"Thanks Sam," Kurt said giving him a smile.

"Nuh uh," Sam said shaking his head. "That's not how bro's do it." He held his fist out and Kurt laughed briefly before bumping it with his own. "You're my bro, man. If helping Rachel out is important to you, then it's important to me."

"Thanks again for understanding Sam," Kurt said.

"Don't thank me yet," Sam said, looking over Kurt's shoulder. "You're the one who's gonna be explaining it to Mercedes."

Kurt turned around and waved weakly at Mercedes as she approached their table. "This is gonna suck," he said under his breath.

"Like a Hoover," Sam agreed cheerily as Mercedes slid into the seat next to him.


Rachel walked into glee club feeling uncharacteristically nervous. Finn had told her that he'd been able to convince Kurt to give up his partnership with Sam and while most of her was thrilled, there was also a tiny little voice underneath the euphoria reminding her that Kurt had already been forced to perform alone once and him having to do so again wasn't exactly fair.

As she and Finn rounded the corner they heard loud, angry voices coming from behind the door. She knew that entire group would be angry, assume that she had threatened some sort of a diva storm out or employed another type of emotional blackmail to get her way. She knew that they wouldn't understand but she couldn't really blame them. She hadn't given any of them the opportunity to get to know the girl behind the diva. They didn't know that she wanted friends-real friends-as desperately as she wanted to be a star, maybe even more. They didn't know that she kept joining club after club, activity after activity in an attempt to find someplace where she belonged. They didn't know that she ached for a bff to have sleep over's with and a group of friends to hang out with at the mall or meet at Breadstix after football games. Rachel knew that her parents loved her and she knew that she had Finn but that wasn't enough to kill the loneliness or soothe the hurt.

Rachel was aware that a large part of her predicament was of her own making. She couldn't seem to get out of her own way. She got tunnel vision a lot of the time and often didn't realize when she was being hurtful until it was too late. She always tried to make amends but it was usually awkward and consisted of her stumbling through an apology and handing out a plate of 'I'm sorry' cookies. Rachel knew she'd burned a lot of bridges with the members of New Directions but she was hopeful that they'd give her a chance to rebuild them.

She wasn't entirely surprised that the only person who'd been willing to go out on a limb for her was Kurt. As much as she considered him a rival, Rachel had also always felt a certain kinship to Kurt. She'd seen her own loneliness and longing for friendship and understanding reflected in his eyes. They'd both had to endure homophobia and hate seeping into their homes through anonymous cowards on the other end of the phone or vicious slurs carved into the paint of their cars. Kurt had been the first person to ever be given a slushie facial; Rachel had been the second. She'd escaped dumpster tosses but the notes that sometimes showed up in her locker had made her feel as if she were in the trash right alongside Kurt. They'd both been savagely cyber bullied and Rachel often changed clothes in the handicapped stall of the girl's bathroom before gym to avoid the relentless body shaming that several of the girls in her class subjected her to.

Kurt also shared her determination to be a star and rise above their current circumstances. Rachel suspected that for Kurt, as it was for her, a part of that determination was due to an intense desire to shove her tormentors face in her success. Rachel suspected that if they could ever move past their respective insecurities and push through their rivalry, there was a very distinct possibility that Kurt could become the best friend she'd always wanted. They both had that same motivation, drive, and fire to prove that they deserved better and were worth more than the abuse and mockery of their peers and they both had been burned and burned others with that fire.

When they'd all started Glee she and Kurt were two lonely peas in their individual pods. They were both vying for stardom and both determined to beg, borrow, lie, cheat and steal to get what they wanted. Somehow over time Kurt had managed to find his place in their makeshift family and temper his fire just enough so that it didn't burn those he chose to let get close to him. Rachel had only managed to do that with Finn. She hadn't found the confidence or the security to let down her walls with anyone else.

"…she's one of us," Kurt's voice came through loud and clear. "There's not a person in here that hasn't screwed over someone else in this room. We're supposed to be a family. Family sticks by you, even when you're a pain in the ass, especially if you're trying to do better. Finn said she wants to do better, the least we can do is let her try."

Rachel allowed herself to take a little bit of comfort in Kurt's words. He was willing to give her a chance and he was willing to fight for everyone else to do the same. She squared her shoulders, made a mental note to make him a plate of "thank you" cookies, gripped Finn's hand and walked through the door.

Instantly the conversation stopped and several sets of angry, hostile eyes turned to her. "My fellow Glee clubbers," Rachel began. She looked around and saw Quinn rolling her eyes, Tina's face tighten into a mask of angry disapproval, Mercedes glaring daggers at her, Artie not even bothering to hide his derision and Santana smirking as if she already knew Rachel was about to blow it.

"I owe you all an apology," Rachel said started over softly. "I know I'm not the easiest person to get along with. I know I haven't always been a friend. I know there have been times where I've treated you like you didn't matter or your dreams weren't as important as my own. I'm truly sorry for that. I know I have a lot to make up for but I hope you can give me a chance to do that. I don't want to go another day being your diva instead of your friend."

There was absolute silence in the room for a few moments and then Sam got up from his chair and walked up to Rachel.

"I believe in giving second chances," he said. "But people have to make the most of them when they get them. So if you mean it, I know a way you can prove it."

"Anything," Rachel said. "You can have complete creative control, Sam. You can pick the song and the arrangement and I won't argue with you a bit-"

"I'm not going to be your partner," Sam interrupted.

Rachel felt as if a bucket of cold water had been poured on her. "W-what?"

"I'm not going to be your partner," Sam repeated. "Kurt is. It's not fair for him to perform alone again and he's the one who's going to the mat for you. He's also someone you've personally victimized. You want to make amends? Start with Kurt."

Rachel saw that Kurt looked as shocked as she felt and just as she was about to question Sam's unexpected curveball-after all she couldn't imagine Kurt being too happy at the prospect of working with her- she took a closer look at Kurt's face and realized he was stealing himself for her rejection. It was so heartbreakingly familiar that she let out a soft "oh" at the sight. She knew that face. She'd made that face every time she'd been left out of group activities, chosen last for teams or had a lab partner object to having to work with her. She was determined to never put that look on Kurt's face again. It was in that moment that Rachel realized exactly what she needed to do to prove to not only to her would be friends, but also to herself that she knew how to be a friend and put other's first.

"I would be honored to sing with Kurt," Rachel said. "But that would leave you without a partner and that wouldn't be very fair, would it?" Rachel took a deep breath before she continued. "If I'm going to ask you guys to give me a chance to prove I can change then I have to start changing. So Sam, Kurt, your generosity is greatly appreciated, incredibly moving and duly noted but I-I won't be stealing anyone's partner. I ended up alone for this assignment and that's how I'll do it. You gave up your duet before; you shouldn't have to do it again."

"Wait what?" Finn asked, confused. "You said-"

"So we went through eight episodes of The Young and The Clueless for things to end up right back where they started?" Santana scoffed.

"No," Kurt said giving Rachel a smile. "We're so much better than where we started."

"I hope so," Rachel said, sniffling a bit.

"I know so," Sam said giving Rachel a grateful smile.

"Kurt," Rachel said walking over to him. "I'm going to hug you now."

"I'm surprisingly okay with that," Kurt responded standing up and opening his arms.

As Rachel wrapped her arms around Kurt and she felt him tentatively return her embrace she looked around to see all the members of New Directions looking on with approval. As Kurt let her go, Mercedes stepped forward and gave her a hug, followed by Sam, and then Tina. As her glee mates all embraced her one by one, Rachel realized for the first time that they hadn't been pushing her out; they'd just been waiting for her to stop being a diva long enough to let them in.


"So…um…are we cool, dude?" Finn asked Kurt as they rummaged around the kitchen looking for an after school snack.

"No reason why we wouldn't be," Kurt replied grabbing some left over's and putting them into the microwave.

"I just…I know it wasn't fair of me to ask you to give up your duet with Sam and I kinda…feel bad about how I got you to agree," Finn confessed.

"You're right," Kurt said as he removed two plates from the cabinet. "It wasn't fair. But you're a teenage boy who was trying to help the girl he loves. And as blatant as the emotional manipulation was, you weren't entirely inaccurate. Rachel deserved a second chance and when given one she came through in ways that I didn't even think she could. So, all's well that ends well."

"I still feel kinda bad for asking. And for not helping you out this morning with Karofsky. I don't know what his problem is. He's always given you crap but lately he's like a man possessed," Finn remarked, getting drinks from the refrigerator and placing them onto the table. "He's like one of those creepy stalkers in those crappy Lifetime movies Rachel always makes me watch."

"Hey, don't knock the cinematic brilliance of Mother May I Sleep with Danger or My Stepson, My Lover," Kurt snorted.

"It's not funny," Finn whined. "Those movies always make me feel like I should apologize for being a dude."

"Oh my God, Finn," Kurt laughed as he dished the food onto the plates. "They aren't that bad."

"Uh, yeah they are. My balls go into hiding whenever she makes me sit through those flicks."

"Charming visual," Kurt deadpanned.

Kurt handed Finn his plate and both boys sat at the table quietly for a moment before Finn spoke again. "It was kind of brave of Rachel to do the right thing, huh?"

Kurt hummed his agreement. "You were right. Despite her many shortcomings there's a really good person somewhere inside Rachel that just wants a chance to get out."

"I'm gonna take that as a compliment," Finn replied.

"As you wish."

Finn thought as he chewed his food. He knew Kurt had wanted to perform with Sam. He knew that it was important to the other boy and that he'd been looking forward to it, but Kurt had put all that aside to do what he believed was right.

He knew Sam didn't really like singing by himself. He preferred group numbers or duets but Sam had been willing to bite the bullet and perform alone in order to give Rachel a chance to truly earn a way back into the club's good graces and keep Kurt from being the odd man out yet again.

And then there was Rachel. Finn knew Rachel probably better than anyone. He knew how scared she'd been to go into the choir room and he knew how afraid she'd been that performing alone meant she was unwanted and unwelcome, but she'd gone in anyway and done the right thing, even though it hadn't been the easy thing.

All around him people were growing and changing. Puck used to be one of the biggest bullies and homophobes he knew and now he was protecting the Gleeks and cuddling with Kurt. Rachel was making a real effort to be less selfish and put others first. Kurt's Ice King persona was slowly but surely melting away. Finn felt like going along with the crowd, letting his decisions be made for him by people he didn't necessarily agree with, respect or even like was keeping him trapped. He wasn't growing. He wasn't being his own person and becoming the man he was supposed to be, the man he wanted to be.

"Kurt," he said hesitantly. "I ah, I have to tell you something."

"Okay," Kurt said slowly. "I'm all ears."

"I'm sorry," Finn blurted out. "I've been an awful friend and a worse almost brother."

"Wha-"

"Azimio and Karofsky. They uh, they said they'd make school a living hell for me if I hung out with you or helped you out or I don't know, breathed the same air as you. I let them push me around and push you around and that's not cool. I don't…I'm not…I don't want to be that guy."

Kurt was quiet for several moments as he worked through his emotions. He was shocked, angry and confused by the entire thing. He didn't understand why Karofsky or Azimio would care so much about his relationship with Finn that they'd threaten the other boy in order to create a rift between them. He also didn't understand why Finn would go along with such a thing. It did explain why Finn had run hot and cold with him; somewhat comfortable and friendly at home and standoffish and dismissive at school.

"I want to be really mad at you," Kurt said finally. "Part of me is. You pretty much sold me out because someone threatened your popularity."

"I'm sor-"

"I'm not done," Kurt said. "Like I said, part of me is extremely pissed. But the rest of me gets it. I'm not blind, Finn. I've seen what those two have done to you since you joined Glee club. I may be their favorite target, but I'm not their only target. You might be able to defend yourself against one of them, but both of them? It would be like something out of an episode of Oz," Kurt said.

"I'm not afraid of them," Finn denied instantly.

"Then you're stupid," Kurt snapped. "Finn, you take this to the grave, understand?" At Finn's nod Kurt continued. "Karofsky attacked me in the men's room at the movie theater the same week Azimio jumped me at school. They are vicious, violent bullies who don't have a brain cell between them. If you aren't scared, you should be."

"Karofsky did what?" Finn asked, shocked and angry. "Fuck man, why didn't you say anything?"

"Because it wouldn't have done any good," Kurt replied. "No one saw anything. An attendant came in at the very end and all they saw was him crumpled over in pain. It would have been my word against his and all it would have done is make dad worry and get me forbidden to leave the house ever again. Besides," he said with a sly grin, "I totally kicked his ass."

"No way," Finn blurted out before he could think better of it.

"Uh, yes way," Kurt countered. "Finn, you've met my father. Do you honestly think he'd let his openly gay son wander around this backwater town without being able to defend himself?"

Finn's face scrunched up in concentration. Burt did seem like the type of dad to take his son out in the backyard and teach him how to throw a punch. Even if that son was a guy like Kurt, who would rather use his wit than his fists.

"No," Finn admitted.

"I've taken a self defense class every year since I was thirteen, I've been at the gun range so often I'm a better shot than dad and, illegal as it may be, there's mace and a stun gun in the glove compartment of the Navigator-both of which I've been trained to use," Kurt said bluntly.

"What? Dude why don't you fight back then?"

"Because I'm not an idiot," Kurt sighed. "Finn, when have any of my bullies ever gone after me one on one? They travel in packs. When Karofsky corned me in the men's room, yeah I fought him off because I had to. But when there's four, five, six guys…the rules change. Besides, most of the time they goal is to humiliate, not harm. A slushie won't kill me. Inciting six pea brained homophobes to distribute a beating because 'the fag fought back' just might."

"Jesus," Finn whispered. "I never even thought…Kurt…," Finn trailed off helplessly.

"Of course you didn't," Kurt said. "Why would you? Even at their worst guys like Noah, you, even meatheads like Strando and Rashad have no intention of causing permanent damage. But guys like Karofsky, Azimio…Finn their hate runs deep. And I have to be careful. I found out the hard way that getting them angry, pushing their buttons? It's dangerous."

"What do you mean?"

"Finn, do you know why Azimio jumped me?"

"Because he's a dick."

"Well yes," Kurt agreed, "but there was more to it than that. He was angry because I got the better of Karofsky at the movies. To guys like them, getting embarrassed or beat up by a gay guy…it's an insult Finn. It means that they have something to prove. They have to put me in my place and if I end up with black eyes, broken bones or worse they don't care because as far as they're concerned I deserve it for being gay."

Finn felt something cold and slick settle in his stomach and the food in his mouth suddenly tasted like ash. "That's…that's sick. It makes me sick. Like I think I legit just lost my appetite."

"Must be serious then," Kurt teased, trying to lighten the mood. "Look Finn, guys like Karofsky and Azimio are, unfortunately for me, a fact of my life. I've learned how to keep myself as safe as possible. I won't lie; its better now that I have people helping to watch my back and yeah I'd love it if you became one of those people but I'm not gonna push you. You need to do whatever you can live with," Kurt said as he rose from the table and dropped his dished into the sink. "I'm gonna go call Blaine and then start on my homework. It's your turn to clean up," he tossed over his shoulder as he made his way down to his room."

Finn sat the table trying to absorb all the things that Kurt had told him. The more he thought, the more he realized that he was rapidly coming to a crossroads. Sooner, rather than later he'd have to make a choice between doing what he was told and doing what he believed in.

He just wished he had enough confidence in himself to be sure that when that time came the choice he'd make would be the right one.


A/N 2: I have complicated Rachel feels and I hope that came through lol. I think she can be absolutely horrible and then turn on a dime and be amazing. I said from day one early chapters would explore her negative aspects and then later things would get more balanced. Part of that was plot purposes and part of that was because I wanted to get into both sides of her personality and also explore a bit of why Hummelberry is such an interesting (and conflicting) dynamic to me. I often can't decide if I want Kurt far, far away from her or if they're the cutest bff's ever.

Chapter 19

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
whosgotyou
Jun. 4th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
I love that your having Finn finally realize that everything isn't so black and white. It's nice to see them having real conservation were the topic of Kurt bullying is brought up. Hopefully Finn will make the right decision soon.
sugakane_01
Jun. 5th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading :)

I think Finn is one of those people that changes very slowly and he's pretty confused at this point. More and more he's realizing things are wrong but he doesn't know how to make them right.
curtslade
Jun. 5th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
Whoa major insights into the characters there!!! I'd forgotten about Kurt defending himself in hte bathroom, didn't know he had a stun gun and mace though.

can't wait to read the next two chapters!!
sugakane_01
Jun. 5th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
My whole take on Kurt and him being able to defend himself is based on my cousin.

My parents grew up in a really small, conservative, Lima-esque southern town. A lot of my family still lives there and I spent most summers of my childhood visiting them. My cousin Tedrick is...trans isn't exactly accurate b/c he identifies as male and female but the older he gets the more predominately female he appears (he dresses often in full drag for example) and it's dangerous for him (curiously it's not the the kids that are the majority of the problem, it's the adults). My uncle (his father) taught him how to box, has had him in self defense classes since he was in middle school (Tedrick's 18 now), has gotten him pepper spray, he has a stun gun, and like a lot of kids in the south he's VERY proficient and familiar with firearms. I think Burt, like my uncle, would know from growing up in a town like Lima that his kid would be a target, that he wouldn't be safe and would need to know how to defend himself if he ever needed to. In my head, that's part of why Kurt has a gigantic Navigator. Big car, lots of safety features-including Onstar. If he doesn't have his cell he can still call for help. Burt is very protective so I see him pulling out all the stops to make sure Kurt is as safe as he can be.
fara1903
Jun. 6th, 2012 04:08 pm (UTC)
I don't like Finn in this one, he's manipulative and selfish!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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