Story: StepOut of the Ordinary – Chapter 1

Fandom: Glee/Queer As Folk (crossover)
Author: ibshafer
Rating: PG throughout, possibly R to come (or more if I'm feeling it…)
Character: Kurt, Dave, Blaine, Emmett, Michael & Ben, Ted and Blake, Brian, Debbie, Horvath, Hunter

Disclaimer: I don't own these people, they own themselves and are just nice enough to let me spin them around the page now and then.

Fandom: Glee/Queer As Folk crossover!

Summary: When Blaine's Six Flags gig takes him to New Jersey instead of Columbus, a heartbroken Kurt decides to follow his own bliss and enter a summer program in musical theatre in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Dave, needing to get the away from the pressures of Lima (and his own head), gets the chance to participate in a fire fighter training program. What will Kurt do in a world of gay men? What will Dave do when he comes face-to-face with the source of his homophobia? What happens when Glee meets Queer as Folk in the heart of Gay Pittsburgh?


A/N #1: Originally started for the Pirate Big Bang, but dropped when I realized that deadline was pure fantasy for me. ;)

A/N #2: See my Glee fic archive . (Check latest journal entry for most recent updates.)

Step Out of the Ordinary – Chapter 1


'I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending
I'm on my way, can't stop me now
And you can do the same.

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?'

"What Have You Done Today to Make You Feel Proud"

Heather Small; Peter John Vettese © 2006

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Absurdly, he was on a plane…

It would have only taken him four and a half hours by car to get from Lima to Pittsburgh, but Burt had refused to let him drive 'all the way to Pennsylvania!' In Burtspeak this translated as 'there's no way I'm gonna to let my teenage son drive around unsupervised in a strange city all summer!' Because, obviously, having a car at his disposal meant he'd be cruising the streets of Pittsburgh for boys

It'd be insulting if it weren't so funny.

The car ride to Dayton, the nearest airport to Lima, was twice the length of Kurt's twenty eight minute flight, an irony that had not escaped him. Since the whole family, plus Rachel, had piled into Kurt's beloved Escalade, Kurt had ample time to make certain the irony escaped no one elseeither…

Besides, he was staying with his uncle so he'd hardly be unsupervised.

Since they couldn't accompany him to his gate, they had said their goodbyes just outside the screening checkpoint.

Burt did his tough-dad best to fight back tears as he warned Kurt to 'stay safe,' telling him, with a dead serious look in his eye, to remember their 'pamphlet talk.' As mortified as Kurt had been to have something so embarrassing brought up in such a public place, and with Finn and Rachelthere, no less, he was grateful that while his dad loved him enough to worry obsessively, he still trusted him out of his sight for the summer. Not that there was any need to worry, no matter whatPittsburgh's colorful reputation.

Oddly enough, Kurt found the idea of being in Pittsburgh somewhat intimidating. He knew he still had a lot to learn – what it meant to be a gay man in this world, not just in Lima, Ohio – but he was more than a little scared at the prospect of being immersed in all that gay culture.

Pittsburgh's gay scene was legendary. He'd been reading about it for years. And as much as he was looking forward to being in a place where he wouldn't even have to think about editing himself, how he dressed or acted, (not that he hadn't lived to push those boundaries in Lima - everyday), he was so accustomed to being an oddity, or at least to being the Proud Gay Representative from the Great State of McKinley, that he didn't know how he'd react to a veritable ocean of gay…

Pittsburgh was Real Gay.

To borrow a term from Finn, Pittsburgh was the Major Leagues – the show. (Yes, he'd sat through Bull Durham, but only because Kevin Costner was so fine…) And Lima? Lima, Ohio wasn't even the minors. It was Little League

Still, as uncertain as he was, there was a thrill running through his belly at the thought of it, one that rivaled the excitement he'd felt going to New York for the first time. It was as though he were going to Pittsburgh for more than just a musical theatre program. In the larger classroom of the city itself, he would begin his real instruction.

Perhaps that explained the uncomfortable emotion and not-so-subtle cautions from Burt; this summer could be enlightening for Kurt on so many levels. Part of him wished he had reassured his father that experimentation, of the sexual kind, was the last thing Kurt was thinking about. In fact, it was the thing he was most intimidated by.

It was also the source of no small amount of shame for him. And for his boyfriend, Kurt knew, no small amount of frustration.

He didn't expect Pittsburgh to inspire some sort of sexual epiphany in him, that he'd get off the plane, feel it in the air, and suddenly just find certain things were no longer embarrassing, but he did hope that he could reach some sort of understanding during his time there, perhaps shed the last vestige of that most hated societal norm; he knew on an intellectual level that being gay was as natural as being straight, but he was a product of his culture and his culture said otherwise. That may have been the reason he held himself back; deep down, in a part of himself his rationality couldn't reach, he still thought it was wrong…

Still, rationality usually won every internal fight he had on the subject of his homosexuality.

He was proud of who he was, proud of the person that he was, not just the portion of him that was gay and he knew his recently expanded family was proud of him, too.

They had piled into the car today like this was a not-to-be-missed event and Kurt supposed in a way it was; he was the first among them to strike out, even if it was only for the summer.

His step-brother had shuffled his size 13's uncomfortably, looking somewhat forlorn. Kurt had earnestly promised to email often, melting a little at the obvious pleasure this brought his brother. Rachel had handled her jealousy admirably well, kissing him on both cheeks like a European socialite then slipping a polished brass star into his pocket. He smiled, hearing it clink against the small golden Eiffel Tower charm already there.

He knew she'd made the difficult decision to forego theatre camp and any of the college-based summer theatre programs to spend the summer with Finn. A year from now, after graduation, she'd be gone to New York for good. This summer would likely be their last together.

He'd rubbed his thumb across the talisman's warm, smooth surface.

Rachel wasn't the only one feeling the sting of jealousy. No matter how excited he was about this, it wasn't exactly the summer he'd been hoping for, either.

Part of him wished he were staying behind, making the rounds of the local summer stock auditions with her.

Part of him wished he were spending the summer with his boyfriend.

'You can't expect me not to be upset,' he'd said. 'This was our first summer together – and we're going to be apart...'

In the end, it hadn't mattered.

Kurt would be in Pittsburgh for the summer and Blaine would be…well, not in Lima, that was for sure…

As much as he was grateful for the day Carole Hudson-Hummel had entered all their lives, grateful for her warm Mom hugs and emotional support – before the flight she'd grabbed him fiercely, rocking him back and forth as she crooned adoration in his ear, making him giggle – Kurt still missed his mom…

After that last disastrous conversation with Blaine, he'd longed to run to her, to cry on her smooth shoulders, to hear her tell him it would all be okay. They'd never had a single conversation about Kurt's sexual orientation, he'd been far too young when she'd passed away, but the way she indulged his young boy whims, his glee for tea parties and dress up, told him she'd known and had loved the boy that he was. Indeed, she'd celebrated who he was and he was quite certain that she was the reason he was as well-adjusted as he was. And Burt, too, for that matter; she must have prepared him, even if only to plant the seed in his mid-Western-male's head that his son might not be the son he was expecting.

She would have told him that going to Pittsburgh was the right thing for him to do; throwing yourself out into the world in search of adventure was infinitely better than lamenting the lack of adventure (and picnics and movies with your boyfriend) at home…

On the far side of the security checkpoint, smart leather messenger bag once again in hand, he'd turned to see them all standing right where he'd left them. He'd waved them on their way, cheeks coloring with a mix of embarrassment and pleasure, but when he'd realized they weren't going to budge until he was out of sight, he'd bowed expansively, spun on his heel, and affecting a suitably blank look, runway-walked jauntily onto the main concourse, pleased when he heard Rachel whoop! with glee, then mortified when his theatrics were met with a smattering of applause from the other travelers around him and an even greater number of disapproving looks.

Okay, so maybe he belonged in Pittsburgh after all…

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He'd made a bee-line for the nearest java joint to procure a tasty beverage for the flight, grabbing a copy of the latest edition of Vogue, as well.

Caffeine and couture – the perfect distraction.

Now that he was out of family sight, Kurt could allow himself to show it: he was actually kind of nervous – about the flight (it was only his third), about the summer, about being away from home – and his father – for the first time. He'd been nervous his last flight, too, for New Directions' gloriously disastrous trip to New York, and his nerves now were inspired by reasons both similar and dissimilar.

Then, he'd been (rightly!) worried about Nationals; they were heading to New York and they hadn't even written the songs they were going to perform yet! What had they been thinking?

He'd been nervous and excited about his first trip to New York City, the Center of the Known Universe. (Cue reverb…) Would it be all he'd dreamed? Would it welcome him with open arms? Would it invite him back when his time came?

And yes, he'd been nervous about his first experience on an airplane, too.

Kurt liked to think of himself as a risk taker – just look at his wardrobe, for Gaga's sake! – but cramming himself into a pressurized cabin and letting some stranger propel him to an altitude of 30,000 feet? That was something that called for far more faith than someone who had none at all possessed. Mercedes had held his hand through the entire flight, feeding him blue M'n'Ms ("for courage!") and softly singing show tunes with him until they'd landed.

That he'd survived both the trip to, and the return from, New York unscathed somewhat bolstered his nerve, but he'd be lying if he said he weren't wishing Mercedes were there with him now. Or even Blaine, for that matter, but Mr. Anderson, or the lack thereof, was part of why he was nervous now. Not only did he not know what he was heading to in Pittsburgh, but he had no idea what would be waiting for him upon his return to Lima.

It had been so hard for him to leave; why hadn't it been for Blaine?

'…if we were together…that way,' he'd said to him. 'this would have been a much harder decision for you to make…'.

The too-quick response ('No!') had been less than reassuring.

So…no family, no boyfriend, no best friend; this time, on this not-quite-as-well-maintained-looking-as-he-would-have-liked airplane, he was completely alone

Alone and heading off to a place he'd never been before, to spend the summer with an uncle he hardly knew, to take part in a college theatre program he had no idea if he could handle…

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An hour outside Lima, Dave finally started to relax, the constant buzz of voices in his head melting into road noise, Pink Floyd, and his own idle thoughts.

Lately Lima was just one big pile of crap he couldn't deal with.

Pressure from his parents about his grades and his future, pressure from Azimio to lose 'the faggy satin jacket and beret (with a hard T)' and rejointheir regularly scheduled 'activities,' pressure from himself, even; the Dave Karofsky he'd always expected he would be was not exactly the Dave Karofsky he was turning out to be.

The worst pressure, though, was coming from, and centered around, an individual who had gone from being Dave's target to being his tormentor, handily turning the tables, making Dave's life even more of a living hell than it had been.

Kurt Hummel.

If Hummel wasn't giving Dave that patronizing 'you can do this' look every five minutes, then he was whispering in Dave's ear about Pee-fag meetings and 'seizing his moment.'

And standing too close and smelling too good while he did it, too.

And now that Hummel knew? Now that he knew what Dave had long suspected about himself, had fought valiantly against, had tried like a mother to break himself of for so, so long? Kurt Hummel had become even more of a thorn in Dave's side than he had been before.

Breaking down like that and crying like a baby in front of Hummel had been the stupidest thing Dave had ever done. Well, almost the stupidest. Kissing Hummel in the locker room would probably remain the undisputed Champion of Stupid for a long time to come, but laying his cards out on the table like that, wearing his metaphorical heart on his god-damned metaphorical sleeve, had almost been like Dave giving Hummel permission to get all up in his business.

'Now all I can see is your pain, David.'

Dave couldn't lie; some part of him was pathetically relieved that the kid had accepted his apology, or at least, that he'd acknowledged it. In point of fact, Kurt had never said he'd forgiven Dave and while Dave knew he'd never win an award for being the most perceptive person on the planet, it had seemed that forgiveness was implicit in the softened expression on Hummel's face, the concern in his eyes, and the fact that he honestly seemed to care how Dave was feeling.

It was fuck all more than Dave had ever expected; fuck all more than he thought he deserved.

Still, though, now that they'd reached some sort of détente, Hummel seemed to think he knew what was best for Dave. Hummel wasn't going to Out him, but he certainly thought Dave needed to Out himself.

"Here's your chance, David," he'd said, like that's what prom was for; life-changing moments and political statements of solidarity.

Did he have any fucking clue what he was asking Dave to do? In front of the whole school?

With Hummel, the truth had always been obvious. There'd never been any question in anyone's mind as to what Kurt Hummel 'was.'

With Dave, it was like he'd been lying to every person he'd ever known for as long as he'd known them.

Just because Hummel had twirled his little Braveheart tux'd ass at them and charmed them into seeing the Light, didn't mean they would just up and embrace the gay where the Davewas concerned. Seriously.

More like start a fucking riot.

And how convenient was it to have the angry mob gathered together in one place like that? Damned considerate of Dave, right? No having to monkey with Prom voting this time, either; not when there was an equipment room filled with baseball bats and hockey sticks a couple hundred feet away.

Safe in his car, a million miles and a couple months away from that night, Dave still found himself gripping the steering wheel. His road-dazed mind flashed on a scratched and grainy image straight out of an old black and white horror flic; angry villagers – dressed in tuxes, naturally – carrying torches and shaking their pitchforks at his nattily dressed self, his King's crown sitting cockeyed on his flat-topped head, neck bolts glinting in the flickering torchlight…

Being the once proud, now ashamed, owner of a membership card to said angry mob made the realization all the more frightening. He knew just what they were capable of.

He'd made it through that particular trial, even earned himself some uninvited street cred with the mob for 'refusing to dance with that fruity weirdo;' cred he would have no doubt lost, and more,if they'd only known how very much he'd wanted to dance with that 'fruity weirdo.'

Somehow, though, he'd come through all of that smelling like a tulip, or a rose, or however the fuck that went. His so-called friends treated him like he was well and truly their King (which would be kind of funny if it weren't so scary…) and Hummel thought he was 'tortured' but working through his issues.

And Dave?

All he wanted to do was escape.

Staying in Lima for the summer had been out of the question.

He'd needed a break from the constant second-guessing and the feelings of inadequacy that went with it. Seemed like the only ones fooled by his 'straight guy' performance these days were the straight kids; the gay kids weren't buying it for a second. And with the jury still being out – and possibly hung – on Dave's own is-he or isn't-he? verdict, he was pretty much living in the limbo-land of the sexless. Which is the last thing Dave would have ever expected a stud like him to be.

I need to get out of here…

Time away from the noise.

If he were going to figure anything out, he needed time away from the noise.

So when his father had mentioned that his Uncle Randy's hose and ladder was running a summer training program for volunteer fire fighters, he knew he'd found his way out.

Four hours and some change; plenty far enough away.

The kind of physical work that left you too exhausted for coherent thought was just what he needed. And if he liked it, if he was good at it, who knew? After high school, maybe he'd consider looking into the real training the professionals went for.

Though he would never admit it to anyone, least of all Hummel or his fake 'girlfriend,' he had kind of liked looking out for people. He'd actually felt proud of himself for the first time in a really long time.

He was looking forward to a brainless, sweat-filled, crap-free summer. No thinking allowed; nothing but hard work and hanging out with his cousins.

And who knew? Maybe he'd meet a girl and prove Hummel wrong.

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It had been their first real argument.

Sort of.

It wasn't like he and Blaine disagreed that much, they were pretty much in sync on everything, but for a while now Kurt had also been thinking that it might not be so much that they agreed on everything, but that Blaine didn't seem to have a strong enough opinion, on anything, to disagree. More than mere conflict avoidance, it was just beginning to seem to Kurt as though Blaine wasn't invested enough in whatever it was – coffee, movies, music, him – to let himself have an opinion that differed from Kurt's.

An accommodating boyfriend was one thing, but at what point could he say that Blaine actually cared?

The only time Kurt ever saw Blaine excited, engaged, emoting, was when he was singing. Minus a microphone, Blaine Anderson just seemed to shrink back into himself, as though someone had turned his volume control from 10 to 5, and Kurt Hummel? He lived his life somewhere around 12…

So when Blaine had called that afternoon and said he had something he really needed to tell him, Kurt had let his imagination run wild.

Blaine had never sounded that excited before.

What could it be?

Is he already making plans for the summer?

With only a week of school left and the whole summer ahead of them, Kurt couldn't suppress the little thrill in his belly.

This was going to be the best summer of his life. His first summer with a boyfriend!

Blaine's usual summer gig was in a musical review at the Six Flags in Columbus. It was a little too far away for a daily commute, but his aunt and uncle lived just outside of the city and he always stayed with them rather than drive back. He had assured Kurt, though, that his schedule, at least in summers' past, had been focused into a short, concentrated work week; he always performed on the weekends, but had at least three days off during the week. Blaine had promised Kurt that nothing could keep him from spending those three days with him and Kurt could come up to Columbus a few times to stay, too, see the show, ride the rides. Blaine was sure his aunt and uncle wouldn't mind.

The summer would be theirs.

It had been a long road, but they'd finally found their way to each other. They'd had precious little time during the school year, though, to explore what this meant. They saw each other whenever they could and spoke and texted constantly, but their relationship was largely a chaste one; time constraints, the distance between their schools, and Kurt's...inhibitions, keeping them in a limbo of sweet kisses and hand-holding.

Kurt wanted that to change. The more time he spent with Blaine, the more he allowed himself to feel and to accept that what he was feeling was right and true, as scary as it might be. He didn't mean to be a prude. (Whoever heard of a gay prude?) He knew it was natural to feel things and to want to act on those feeling; after all, there was more to being gay than just show tunes and flawless fashion sense.

Blaine had been so patient with him, he was such a gentleman, but Kurt knew his boyfriend wanted more.

They would have the summer to explore what it really meant to be together…

Except, as it turns out, they didn't.

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"New Jersey?"

Kurt didn't understand how Blaine could be so shocked by his reaction. Had he expected Kurt to just throw his arms around Blaine's neck and squeal with glee?

"Columbus was far enough, but now you're going to New Jersey? And I'm supposed to be happy about it?"

Blotchy pink was starting to dot itself across Blaine's normally pale cheeks. "Kinda, yeah. You're supposed to be happy for me, Kurt. This is an incredibleopportunity."

He didn't come here to ask me what I thought. He came here to tell me he was going…

Kurt was aware that Blaine was disappointed, hurt even, but he was too angry to feel guilty.

Wouldn't two people in a relationship talk about something like this first?

"I get that this is a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity," he said, flashing jazz hands for emphasis. "If anyone is going to understand why this is important to you, it's me." He stopped pacing and sat down heavily at his vanity, taking a moment to note the flush wreaking hell with his complexion. "But you can't expect me not to be upset."

A glance to Blaine found him looking somewhat guilty, sympathetic even. And something else, something unreadable Kurt chose to ignore for the moment.

He went on, jaw tight. "You'll be gone for over two months. This was our first summer together – and we're going to be apart." Hoping for an icy expression, but knowing the pathetic was probably overriding it, Kurt turned to look at his boyfriend. "Can you blame me for looking forward to the summer we had planned? For wanting to be with you longer than just the few hours after school we've had?"

So far, having a boyfriend wasn't much different from not having one…

"I know, baby," Blaine said softly, close behind Kurt now, fingers in his hair. "And I'm just as disappointed as you are."

The statement didn't ring as true as it should have…

"Oh, really?" Kurt said, pulling forward, out of the reach of Blaine's persuasive fingers. "You already accepted the job, Blaine," Kurt said. "Why didn't you come talk to me when you got the offer? I'm sure the decision would have been the same, but don't you think it would have been nice to let me know what was going on – like couples do? I just…I can't help wondering what I really am to you."

Cheeks flushed and jaw tight, Blaine shook his head in disbelief. "Now you're just being ridiculous. You know how much I care about you, how much I love you."

"I know you say you do," Kurt said. "But I can't help thinking if I weren't so scared to…" He looked away, his cheeks flushing hotly. "I can't help thinking that if I were ready to go…farther than we have, if we were togetherthat way, this would have been a much harder decision for you to make." Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Kurt turned to look him dead in the eye. "Did the fact that we haven't had…had sex yet factor into your decision at all?"

"No!" Blaine responded quickly; too quickly Kurt thought. "C'mon, babe. You're really not making any sense."

"No, actually, I think I've finally got it all figured out."

To keep from having to look at Blaine, he stared into the mirror and looked himself in the eye. "I'm just not enough of a reason for you to stay, am I," Kurt asked softly, gazing at himself a second longer before turning to face Blaine; he needed to see his response to the next question. "This job isn't just an 'incredible opportunity' for your career, is it?" When Blaine looked confused, Kurt elaborated. "Think of all the boys you'll be meeting," he said voice tight and sharp. "Boys who won't have any silly romantic Broadway illusions or hang-ups about intimacy."

He saw Blaine's pale cheeks flush and that was all the response he needed.


Blaine seemed on the verge of denying it, or at least of trying to back pedal, but after a moment's furious blushing, he just shook his head.

"You and I are just in different places," he said softly, regarding Kurt with something like tenderness. "There's nothing wrong with that, it's just way it is."

"You mean it's the way I am…" Kurt said quietly, feeling a few of the tears he'd been fighting get past his defenses. He wanted to tell him he'd been thinking about…That a lot lately, thinking maybe he might be getting closer, that maybe he might want the same things that Blaine did, but there were an awful lot of 'maybes' and 'mights' in that statement; too many to keep Blaine here in Lima for the summer…

"I'm sorry, Blaine," he said, voice filled with shame. "I really am. I just can't help it…"

Blaine shook his head vehemently. "You have nothing to apologize for, Kurt. There's nothing wrong with taking things slowly. There's no rule that says being gay means you have to be sexually active, especially for someone you're age."

"You're seventeen, too, you know," he said, quietly.

Blaine shrugged, smiling. "I am, but I'm just… I dunno…"

"Ready?" Kurt offered, feeling the truth of the word like a spike in his chest.

Biting his lip, Blaine nodded. "I am." He took Kurt's hand, ran his thumb against the smooth skin of Kurt palm making him shiver. "And I've been pressuring you, and that's not fair."

Kurt wanted to tell him that wasn't true, that he'd been an absolute gentleman, but the memory of fumbling hands and awkward apologies, of dates cut short by sudden phone calls when Kurt hadn't even heard a ring or a buzz, told him otherwise.

"So," he said, eyebrows jumping. "New Jersey… The last place I expected to be." He shrugged, grin sheepish. "The Six Flags there puts on a show five times the size of the one in Columbus. I just can't help thinking this is the absolute right thing to do for my career." Blaine's excitement – about the show, about his professional prospects – colored his face with a glow Kurt was well familiar with. "Who knows what my life will be like while I'm there? It's going to be a big adventure, I know that much. There'll be so many opportunities to meet people. People in the industry, other performers, kids our age, like us…"

He trailed off here, but Kurt could supply the missing word; gay.

Blaine glanced to Kurt, his own cheeks coloring at the flush he'd no doubt seen on Kurt's, and he seemed to school himself, to fight the urge to give in to the obvious guilt. In a way, Kurt respected that; Blaine was doing what was right for him, not caving, not making allowances, not missing out on opportunities he'd only eventually resent Kurt for.

Lips pressed into a tight line, he went on. "I've never been anywhere but here, Kurt. I can't promise that I'll be strong enough to…to resist."

"You shouldn't have to, Blaine," Kurt said softly, feeling in his heart that no matter how strong their commitment to each other was, it would also be wrong to hold each other back. He wished he were ready to join Blaine in this exploration, that they could learn the true meaning of intimacy from each other, together, but wishing wouldn't make it so; neither would trying to force himself to do something he wasn't ready to.

As well-adjusted as Kurt was, he clearly still had some gay demons to exorcise…

"I want to." Eyes brimming, Blaine forced a smile, laughing when Kurt shook his head at him, mouthing the words 'No, you don't,' his eyes spilling over, as well. "I'm still trying to figure myselfout, Kurt," he said, shaking his head. "I mean, I need this gig for my career, some guy last summer got a recording contract right off the stage, but I also need to spend some time in a…in a much bigger pond to learn what it means to be who and what I am…"

"I thought you knew."

"I thought I did, too," Blaine said with a shrug. "It's a big world out there, Kurt. Lima's not even a speck in the world's eye."

Kurt was struggling to understand; he'd thought he had himself figured out, too. What if he was wrong?

He knew he was gay.

He'd thought he knew what that meant, but he was learning that there was a lot more to it; more than the obvious, more than the surface, more even than the larger political issues of equal rights and same-sex marriage.

Not counting Karofsky and Rachel's gay dads, he knew maybe a dozen other homosexuals, all of them from Dalton. He wasn't even sure he'd know how to act around other gay guys. Aside from couture and an encyclopedic knowledge of Broadway show tunes, what did he really even know about being gay?

He'd told Dave Karofsky that he needed to be 'educated,' but didn't he have a lot to learn, too?

Kurt looked up to see Blaine regarding him earnestly. He had such a sweet face, his smile so charming; it was painful to imagine him looking at anyone else the way he looked at Kurt…

"So…are we…" Kurt couldn't bring himself to finish the question.

Blaine was shaking his head. "We don't have to call it anything." He smiled. "We can call it "summer" and see how we feel in the fall." He took Kurt's hand. "I don't expect I will love you any less in two months…"

A flash of perfect white teeth.

Kurt wanted to believe, but he'd never been one for romance novels. He may have been a romantic, but he was also a realist.

He knew one thing for certain, though.

He had to get the hell out of Lima for the summer…

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It had been years since Kurt's mom had passed away, but she was never far from his heart. He always made certain he carried some article of hers – a lace handkerchief, a compact mirror, a charm from her favorite bracelet – with him at all times. It may have seemed silly to anyone else, but it made him feel as though she were still there with him, or sillier yet, like she was just in another room waiting for him; like she'd just asked him to bring whatever it was to her from wherever it was she had left it. It was a naïve fantasy and he was well aware that was all it was, but it kept her alive in his heart.

Still, a golden Eiffel Tower charm and an engraved Tiffany's pen were a poor substitute for a mother.

Kurt didn't realize how very much he'd missed her until he'd gone down to baggage claim and found her waiting for him…

Wearing a white peasant top and cropped black capris, sandaled feet pulled primly beneath the seat, the vision was flipping through a glossy magazine, chewing delicately at a full lower lip, completely absorbed.

The wave of nostalgia that followed was so strong, the memory so precise, that Kurt found himself fighting to hold back the tears…

She had been coming home from a week spent with friends in San Francisco. He and his dad were to pick her up from the airport, but an accident on Route 33 delayed their arrival by over an hour. When they got there, they'd found her sitting in baggage claim, chewing her lip and intent on her magazine; sun-kissed and relaxed and utterly beautiful. When she saw him, she leapt from the hard plastic seat, lifting him off the floor and spinning him round and round, her skin warm and smooth and smelling like sunshine…

It was a wonderful memory, but it was a painful one, too: wonderful because he loved her; painful because he missed her.

Kurt stood before the bank of chairs, half-expecting the vision to fade away, but instead the figure looked up at him. Kurt could see now the ghost of a beard on a too-strong jaw, the screaming orange of the tank top his mother would never have worn under that gauzy peasant.

Also in shock, the man sat gaping at Kurt.

"U-uncle Emmett?"

It had been years since he'd last seen his uncle, but there was no mistaking a Honeycutt: tall, with real shoulders; the lean, but substantial body; an angular face – one designed to be expressive.

There was the briefest pause as various emotions played across the man's face – surprise, pleasure, joy, pain – then the magazine he'd been reading (the same issue of Vogue Kurt had purchased in Columbus) slid to the floor, and he leapt to his feet, fat wet tears sliding down his cheeks.

"Oh, god, honey! Kurt! Little Kurt? I think my heart just near stopped!" He clutched at his chest, wrinkling the pale gauze fisted in his fingers. "If you aren't a vision!"

He had Kurt's face in his hands now and Kurt was torn between pulling away (he wasn't used to being…handled) – and reciprocating. The family resemblance, the brother-sister sameness, was at once unsettling and joyously welcome; he had to fight the urge to pinch those high cheekbones to make sure they were real…

"You are so like your mother, I thought Elizabeth had returned to me," his uncle said breathlessly. He stood staring at Kurt, seemingly incredulous. "Goodness! You are so cute I could just bronze you and put you on my mantle!" He laughed heartily and then, having apparently run out of exclamations, he threw his arms around Kurt, pulling him into a crushing hug, nearly lifting him off his feet. "I can't believe you're here, Little Man."

Kurt, who hadn't been able to get a word in edgewise since his uncle had risen from the chairs, was about to politely correct him and let him know that the pet name 'Little Man' had been cute and vaguely appropriate when he had, indeed, been little, but now that he was six feet tall, it hardly applied. He was also about to protest that he wasn't really the hugging type, when he was hit by another wave of nostalgia.

"Y-you smell like my mom…" he said, his throat contracting on the last word. He breathed deeply, trying to fill his lungs with the fragrant memory.


"It's the patchouli." His uncle's arms tightened around him. "We used to share."

Emmett drew back a ways so he could look at Kurt's face and they locked eyes for a moment, perhaps arriving at the same place, emotionally, intellectually, at the very same time.

With a gasp of grief-tinged joy, Emmett pulled Kurt back close to him, tears flowing in earnest now, soaking into the shoulder of Kurt's crisp white linen jacket, and Kurt, feeling the swell of the same rising in him, feeling it break, feeling the long unanswered need, in some small, strange way, finally, finally answered ('Mom!'), circled his arms tightly around his uncle's back, held on for dear life, and let the tears fall

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