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Getting ready for school on Tuesday morning was a distinct pleasure. After five solid school days of nothing but v-necked T's, loose jeans and carefully-styled-to-look-messy hair, the latest and greatest of all McKinley High bad-asses was going back to looking like his old – and entirely fabulous - self. Kurt was just thankful that there was no Cheerios practice scheduled today. Spending a week simultaneously playing the roles of head-bitch-in-charge and bad-ass-mo-fo
had been distinctly uncomfortable, as if he were standing on a platform in the middle of a public hallway, simultaneously doing handstands and jerking off. It had been exhausting and kind of embarrassing. He was looking forward to having both his friends and a certain degree of anonymity back.

He had risen from bed an hour early today, wanting to take his time getting ready, making sure that everything was perfect. He started with a long, hot shower using his favorite scents of moisturizing shampoo, damage treating conditioner and exfoliating body wash. Normally, he shaved away any trace of morning stubble while still in the shower – though he had experimentally left his weekend scruff in evidence on Monday for that extra dash of badassedness – but today he shut off the water and dried his skin, wrapping his hips in the towel before treating his face with a special deep-pore scrub, followed by a careful, leisurely shave, paying minute attention to every inch of jaw, chin, upper lip and neck to insure that not a single whisker remained to upset the balance of his perfect porcelain skin. The first layer of moisturizer followed next.

Satisfied with his face, Kurt brushed his teeth and then moved on to his hair. It really needed a trim, he noticed unhappily, twirling the end of one thick lock around his fingertip. Impressively mussed was simpler with longish hair, but it really didn't suit his preferred level of elegance. He would just have to add an appointment with his stylist as part of the weekend pampering marathon he and the girls had planned. For now, brushing his hair back and adding a little extra volumizer at the top would do the trick, drawing attention to his face and away from his slightly wild coif.

Next, he stood before the closet as he carefully considered what to wear. Part of him had been sorry to lose Finn as a roommate when Burt Hummel had finished the addition to their house, but it was easier on everyone this way. Kurt and Finn had long since made up their differences after the ugly incident here in the basement last year, and the two Hudsons had moved back in, with Burt presenting his prospective step-son (assuming he ever got around to popping the question) with his own room upstairs. Another part of Kurt was happy to have his space and privacy back. Kurt had never paraded around his room in just a towel while Finn was here, and he rather enjoyed the freedom.

Now, what could he wear that was totally chic, completely drool-worthy, and yet appropriately bad-ass? For he had not been lying to Puck yesterday when he had told them that he'd like to keep his new reputation intact for awhile. It was strange but gratifying to be treated with respect, to have no fear of slushies, and dumpsters, and hurtful name-calling for the first time in memory. He could not look too unapproachable, however, for he had a lot of apologies to make. All of his friends knew the truth behind his rude and crude behavior by now if Mercedes, Tina, Finn and Puck could be trusted to have spread the word, but he wanted to officially apologize to them anyway.

He considered for a moment whether he also wanted to apologize to Jacob Ben Israel for throwing a slushie in his face, but he couldn’t bring himself to regret doing that. The annoying little gossip monger had been harassing Kurt and everyone else he knew ever since middle-school. He’d had it coming.

As for Dave Karofsky, no, he wasn’t apologizing for that one either. Kurt could not stifle a giggle at the memory of the other boy’s shocked face when he had found himself transformed from predator to prey. The jocks had had Kurt surrounded at the dumpster when that big oaf had decided to lunge at him. Kurt had instinctively ducked under his grasp, just the way Coach Sylvester had taught him and the girls during her mandatory self-defense training sessions, grabbed the hockey player's bent knee and heaved with all his strength. The bigger boy had screeched like a little girl when he unexpectedly found himself sailing head-first into a disgusting mound of tuna-surprise. Kurt had never felt so stunned or so self-satisfied as in that moment when he had seen the bully's red face pop up over the side of the garbage bin, smeared in nasty coagulated fish paste and pasta. He had managed to resist the urge to flee, instead turning to face the rest of the jocks and loudly cracking his knuckles – a disgusting habit of his father's – and demanding to know who was next. The jocks had taken off like scared rabbits.

Kurt sighed happily over the memory, humming a note of pure delight as his questing fingers landed on the perfect selection as they carded through his wardrobe. The fitted black muscle-shirt with the cap sleeves, the one he hardly ever wore because Mercedes had teased him about needing to go buy some muscles to accessorize it with. Kurt flexed his biceps and smiled. A few months with the Cheerios had taken care of that little problem. All bad-asses had "killer guns" according to Puck and he felt smugly certain that his arms, though considerably leaner than the other boy's, could now claim that title. Why not show them off?

A thin, copper-lamé vest with gorgeous whorls of bronze subtly woven throughout the pattern would set the shirt off admirably and the top would be perfect with the tight red skinny jeans he had last worn for New Directions' funky face-off against Vocal Adrenaline last year. Those pants were cut just-so, framing his ass and outlining his crotch like no other pants he had ever worn. He could still remember the slightly horrified look on his dad's face the first time he had tried them on at home, and the girls in Glee not-so-subtly checking him out. Perfect. Socks and the adorable little copper granny-boots that just matched the shading in his vest completed the outfit. Minutes later, Kurt stood admiring his beautiful stylish self in the mirror. The population of WMHS would eat its heart out over him today.

~*~*~*~*~*~

As Kurt parked his Navigator in the student lot, he noticed half a dozen jocks again standing near the dumpsters. Dave Karofsky and one of the football players, Miguel something-or-other, stood at the head of the line, some hapless loser already gripped in their meaty paws, while Azimio stood at the ready, fist threateningly grinding into his palm while the others watched and grinned; a pack of predators ready to feast on some easy prey.

Kurt sighed, recognizing the terror in the kid's trembling mouth and tearing eyes all too well. A freshman, he was sure. By the time sophomore year rolled around, resignation would have settled in and the kid would have learned not to show his fears so openly in the hope that he would seem a less appealing target. Not that it would work.

Well, Kurt had been in that poor boy's position far too many times, and what was the point of having the reputation power of being a badass – however temporary that title might be – if he was too afraid to use it?

"Put him down," he said firmly, setting down his messenger bag and striding toward the slavering hyenas and their victim with more confidence than he really felt. This could easily backfire and end up with him in the garbage right along with antelope-boy. "On the ground . . . gently."

Hope leapt into the small boy's brown eyes and Kurt's gut clenched. Damn. How many times had he worn that look himself, only to have his hope of rescue dashed when it turned out that his would-be savior had only come to watch the entertainment? A flash of white-hot resentment toward Finn Hudson suddenly flared through Kurt, and he realized that the feeling must have shown in his eyes when a couple of the jocks unexpectedly backed off, holding up their hands in supplication as they murmured excuses about being late for first period and left. The two remaining henchmen looked a bit doubtful when their comrades disappeared. Like all bullies, they obviously preferred the strength of numbers.

"Parker," Kurt said, addressing the goon on the left without taking his narrowed eyes off of Miguel and Karofsky. "How's the Shakespeare coming? Did those notes I wrote out for you help you figure out what was going on?"

The somewhat dim-witted blond smiled. "Yeah, I'm really getting it now!"

"Glad to hear it. Why don't you go to your locker and study them some more? You know Mr. Curtis and his love of pop quizzes. I wouldn't be surprised if we got one today."

They had been on the football team together last year and the other boy had strongly reminded Kurt of a male version of Brittany. Not a bad guy, just very easily led by stronger influences. Discovering that they shared the same English class this year had allowed him to put a few chinks in the armor. Surprise and dismay instantly popped into Parker's large, vacant-looking blue eyes. "Oh, shoot, you think so?"

"I wouldn't be surprised."

"Hey, I gotta go," he decided, grabbing the backpack at his feet and taking off, yelling, "Bye, guys. See you at lunch!"

Karofsky and his helper were staring at Kurt, open-mouthed, the freshman still dangling between them.

Azimio did not appear so easily distracted. He scowled at Kurt and took a menacing step forward. "Nice work, faggot," he spat. "You think you got everybody fooled, but you beating on Puck a couple weeks ago ain't so impressive any more. Everybody knows he's lost his edge ever since he became part of that stupid singing group. My baby sister could probably kick his ass now. Let's see how you do against a real man."

Oh, crap. Azimio was twice his size and clearly no longer intimidated by a newfound reputation. The behemoth advanced on Kurt, pulling his dragging knuckles off the ground long enough to crack them menacingly. What was worse, a number of other students were suddenly gathering around, drawn by the magnetic pull of a possible fight.

Arms apparently getting tired, Karofsky set his little freshman back on his feet, but yanked the boy closer with a muscle-bound arm around his neck. He was obviously intent on keeping his victim close by once the entertainment of watching Kurt get pulverized was over.

Out of the corner of his eye, Kurt saw Puck, Gage and Mike join the crowd. "Hey, guys," he greeted, fighting to keep his voice calm and even.

"You need some backup, Hummel?" Puck asked, arm slung casually around the shoulders of his new girlfriend.

For all Gage's open dislike of testosterone-fueled bad-boy antics, she apparently understood this need for show, for she simply leaned in to Puck and added, "I'd be happy to dribble this fool's head into the nearest basketball hoop for you."

Mike said nothing, but he stepped forward and crossed his arms, letting his actions speak for him.

Kurt could not help smiling. It was nice to be part of a genuine team after so many years of standing alone, and while Glee was hardly the most intimidating group in school, their loyalty to one another now went without question. "No thanks, I got this," he said, surprising himself a little. "Just don't let the other two join in the party without an invitation. My dance-card looks pretty full at the moment."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Karofsky demanded. "I ought to have your ass for saying that."

"Wait your turn, Brokeback. I'm not into threesomes," Kurt snapped, inciting giggles from a number of onlookers, and bringing a panicked glance around the crowd from Karofsky that nearly caused Kurt to forget what he was doing. Whoa, had he just stumbled on to something here?

Filing that question away for later and trusting his friends to keep this civil, Kurt concentrated on Azimio, whose eyes were sweeping up and down his lean frame, taking in the details of Kurt’s tight, shimmery outfit with a curl of contempt from his lip. He seemed to be paying a peculiar amount of attention to the well-framed bulge a few inches below Kurt’s designer belt.

Kurt’s eyes narrowed, darting from Azimio to Karofsky. Those two did spend a suspicious amount of time together, and they did devote an awful lot of that time to harassing him, or anyone else they felt showed the slightest hint of gay. Kurt was not a supporter of outing, but suddenly he recognized that he just might be holding the key to ending the reign of jock terror at McKinley once and for all.

Even if he was wrong, which he probably was given the sorry state of his instinctive “gay-dar”, the implication alone might be enough to make these guys back off.

“What’s wrong, Az? You afraid to make a move, or is this just the excuse you needed to check out my goods at close range?”

Much to his surprise, all three of the jocks and a few of the onlookers flushed scarlet and immediately averted their eyes. Christ, exactly how many closet-queers did they have at this school?

Puck noticed it too and began chortling.

Taking advantage of the distraction, Azimio suddenly aimed his shoulder downward and charged. Kurt had been a kicker, not a tackle, but he had seen this move enough times to know that he would be squashed into paste if he allowed himself to be hit by an angry lineman twice his size. With a yelp of fear, he ducked, and by purest luck managed to get his back under the other boy’s mid-section. Center of gravity on his side, he used the powerful thigh muscles he had developed over months of hefting Cheerio girls overhead and heaved upward, throwing Azimio into the air like a cowboy off a bucking bronco.

Unfortunately, Azimio was as good at taking a hit as he was in doling one out. He recovered quickly, jumping to his feet and grabbing Kurt from behind, wrapping both beefy arms around his small frame and squeezing. "What are you gonna do now, Fairy Queen?"

"What I do best," he fired back. "Sing."

"What?"

Snapping his head and right elbow back as hard as he could, Kurt stomped down on Azimio's instep with the hard heel of his granny boot. The jock howled in pain and grabbed his injured nose, hopping on one foot. His grip had loosened when Kurt elbowed him in the gut and Kurt took advantage of it. Spinning around, he kneed his opponent hard in the crotch.

Azimio crashed to the ground like a felled oak tree, a pathetic whimpering his only sound as he clutched his bleeding nose with one hand and his mashed nuts with the other.

Thank you, Sandra Bullock, Kurt thought smugly, reflecting that he really needed to ask Mercedes to bring her copy of Miss Congeniality to their next sleep-over. Noting the astonished expressions on his friends' faces, he smiled and said, "Solar-plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin."

Gage burst out laughing, the only one who got the joke, while Mike and Puck just looked at each other and shrugged. "Whatever works for you, dude," Puck told him.

Returning his attention to Karofsky, who now looked more concerned for his fallen comrade than interested in harassing dweebs, Kurt glared at Miguel. "You want to put your balls on the kickstand next, Pujols?" he asked, remembering the other boy's surname. "I promise you, I can get them through the uprights with no problem whatsoever."

Miguel, like Azimio and Parker, had been on the Titans football team last year. Letting go of the freshman, he said, "No way, man. We're cool." He actually grinned at Kurt with a friendliness he had never demonstrated before, punching him lightly in the arm as he walked away. "We're definitely cool."

Kurt glared once more at Karofsky. Sweeping his fingers through his hair to insure that Azimio had not got blood, spit or any other nasty substances in it, Kurt drew himself up and placed a hand on his hip. "Let. Him. Go."

"What?" Karofsky glanced at the freshman, who was now staring at Kurt like he had hung the moon. "Oh, I forgot you were here, kid. Get the hell out of my sight."

The boy did not waste his reprieve, scuttling away with one last adoring look at Kurt. Seeing that the excitement was over, the crowd dispersed as the first period warning bell rang.

"You okay, Kurt?" Mike asked, helping Azimio to his feet and brushing him off like the all around good guy that he was.

"I'm fine, guys. Thanks for backing me up. I'll see you in a few minutes."

They had Glee first period this year. It did not matter if Kurt was a little bit late for it. He needed to make an entrance in order to publicly apologize and request reinstatement anyway.
Somewhat reluctantly, his friends left the scene, perhaps realizing that Kurt wanted a moment alone with the two remaining bullies.

"I thought we agreed this was going to stop after what happened last week," Kurt said to Karofsky as soon as his friends were out of earshot.

Karofsky scowled and moved to Azimio's side. "You okay, dude?"

He grunted and gave a nod, still pressing a hand to his damaged 'boys'. "Never knew you had it in you, Hummel," he growled in a grudging but unexpectedly respectful tone.

"I didn't want to do that, but you left me no choice," Kurt returned, lifting his nose in the air in a show of disdain. "You two may be too afraid to be out, and I can understand that given the general unfriendliness of where we live, but that doesn't mean I'm going to allow you to harass and intimidate me, or people like me, just to show everyone else how manly you are. Not any more."

"Will you quit it with the homo shit?" Karofsky whined, looking anxiously around the empty parking lot. "We're not like you!"

Kurt snorted. "Bullshit. There is no way in hell that you two would be so intent on harassing me all the time over being gay if you weren't afraid that being friendly to me might out you."

Guilt flashed across their faces so quickly that he would have missed it, had he not been watching so closely.

Kurt sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. So it was true. Well, when all else fails, be honest, as his dad like to say. "The really pathetic thing about you guys is that you could actually do some good around here. Everybody knows you're tough and mean and generally not worth messing with, already." They both looked pleased with this assessment until Kurt reminded them, "But now it's going to be all over the school by lunchtime that this so-called Fairy Queen kicked both of your sorry asses. Some of the jocks and most of the nerds think that I'm a bad-ass under all this fabulousness, and maybe I am, but that doesn't make me an asshole. You two are already Grade-A jerks, so what do you have to lose by going public? There is such a thing as strength in numbers, you know. Once the other jocks get used to the change, especially when they figure out that you're committed to each other and not out to assault them in the showers or something, then the drama will blow over. It might be rough for a few weeks, but the hiding will be over and then you'll be totally free to be yourselves."

Azimio was actually nodding his head. Then he caught Karofsky's eye and stopped, folding his bulging arms and trying to look intimidating again. The effect was somewhat ruined by his inability to stand fully upright.

"Looks like he's on board," Kurt said, jerking his head toward Azimio but looking at Karofsky. "What do you say, Dave? Time to man up and board the homo-express?"

The hockey player glowered at them both. "You're insane, Hummel. What could possibly make you so sure that I'm a," Kurt glared and he changed his wording, proving just how impressed he really had been by the smaller boy's performance just now, "that I'm like you?"

Kurt had not thought that far ahead. However, it no longer looked like they were out for his blood, so he decided to take the question seriously. Licking his lips as he considered the matter, he noticed the boys' eyes automatically locking on them. Kurt smiled. Before he could lose his nerve, Kurt seized the moment. Karofsky might be a jerk, but he was a handsome jerk, and it wasn't as if Kurt had a lot of boys standing in line to be his first kiss. Why not get it out of the way?

He approached slowly. In spite of his sudden certainty that this was something the other boy had been thinking about a lot, he was not about to actively assault anyone. But Dave did not move. He simply stood there, hazel eyes growing bigger with every inch closer Kurt came. Kurt paused for a moment, giving him a chance to back off if he was inclined, then surged up and grabbed Dave Karofsky's lantern jaw in both hands, planting a solid kiss right on his chapped pink lips.

Karofsky squeaked and grabbed Kurt's waist, presumably meaning push him away, but instead his fingers tightened and he started kissing back.

Kurt let it continue for a moment, finding the sensation rather pleasant, even if Karofsky did kind of overdo the aftershave. Then he pulled back and grinned at the other boy, and at Azimio, who was watching the show with a hungry look that would have told Kurt everything he needed to know if he had not already figured it out.

"And that's how it feels with somebody you don't even care about, Dave," Kurt told him, landing a friendly peck on Azimio's lips too. Only fair, considering how hard he had cracked the other boy’s nuts. "You both have a nice day, now," he trilled, fluttering his fingers at them as he collected his messenger bag and strode toward the school as quickly as possible.

The second bell rang just as he reached the front steps. He was definitely going to be late to class, but the delay had been more than worth it. He had done not one, but two, good deeds today, and he hadn’t even hit the hallways yet.

What could be more bad-ass than that?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Finding himself intercepted at his locker, Kurt discovered that he was not going to be the only late-comer to Glee practice today. Puck and Gage were lying in wait, pouncing on him the moment he arrived.

"What happened?" Puck demanded without preamble. "Do I need to go back outside and bust some heads?"

Kurt grinned. "Why, Noah, I didn't know you cared." He theatrically fluttered his lashes and laughed when the jock punched him lightly in the shoulder. "I'm fine, I just needed to talk to them for a minute.”

“About what?”

He opened his mouth, ready to spill the whole tale, but then stopped himself. Just because he had presented the idea of coming out to the two jocks didn’t mean they would actually be willing to do it. And if they weren’t ready, it wasn’t his place to do it for them, regardless of how much benefit might come of the arrangement. Like he had told Karofsky, he wasn’t an asshole, regardless of how much he had been pretending to be one lately. The best that might ever come out of this was having his two worst enemies know that he had dirt on them. He just had to hope that they would be intimidated and leave him and the other “losers” alone, rather than deciding to pound him into paste to guarantee he wouldn’t share their secret.

Suddenly feeling far less triumphant, Kurt put his bag in his locker and gathered a few items he would need for his morning classes. "It doesn’t matter. Let's just go to glee-club," he suggested glumly. "The glee kids might be a little mad at me, but at least nobody in there wants to kill me."

When the trio entered the practice room, all conversation stopped. Gage and Puck both patted Kurt's back as they moved to take their seats, and the silence yawned for a moment as Mr. Schuester studied the newly returned counter-tenor then said quietly, "Kurt."

"Mr. Schuester, I want to come back to glee-club, but first I need to apologize to you," Kurt said. He looked around the room. "To all of you."

The other kids all looked at him with varying degrees of interest and even sympathy. Clearly, word had gotten around about what he had been trying to do. The only one still looking angry at him was Rachel Berry. Her arms were crossed firmly over her chest and she looked as if she was trying to incinerate him with her eyes.

Turning back to Schuester, Kurt said, "I was completely out of line last Thursday and I was lying when I said that I didn't need any of you guys, or this club. I do, I need you and I've missed you all, and I'm really, truly sorry if I hurt any of you."

The teacher finally cracked a smile. "I hear you were playing cupid, among other interesting roles. Ever given any thought to joining the drama department, Kurt?"

"I can't, Mr. Shue. Drama meets the same time as Glee and this is where I belong. If you'll have me."

Schuester's smile grew bigger as he turned to face the kids. "What do you say, guys? Do we welcome our black-sheep back into the fold?"

There were grins and murmurs of agreement from everyone except Rachel, who stood and strode forward, her arms still crossed. "You know how crucial it is for every member of Glee to show up for every rehearsal and give their best if we're going to take this year's Sectionals. We can't have a member who might storm out every time they don't like the way things are going."

"You're quitting, then?" he returned dryly. "Does that mean I get all your solos?"

For a moment, Rachel gaped at him. Then suddenly she laughed. "Welcome back, Kurt. We'd better get back to work before another moment is lost. I'll be happy to catch you up on everything you've missed over the last couple of rehearsals."

Too astonished to do anything else, he laughed. "Thanks, Rachel. I'd appreciate that."

It was not until 3rd period let out that Kurt remembered his problem with Karofsky and Azimio. Tina, Mercedes and he were all heading back toward their lockers, Kurt catching the girls up on the events of the morning, when he stopped in his tracks, causing another student to walk straight into him and nearly knock him flat.

"What the hell, Hummel? Watch where you're," the boy trailed off, eyebrows climbing toward his hairline as he realized what had so thoroughly caught Kurt’s attention.

“Whoa,” Tina said softly, while Mercedes just stared, wide-eyed.

Dave Karofsky and Azimio Adams were standing by the water fountain, conducting an in-depth search for one another's tonsils. Traffic in the crowded hallway had come to a complete stop as everyone simply stood there and watched in wide-eyed shock. Finally, the two jocks broke apart. Azimio went one direction while Karofsky strode toward the cluster of Glee kids.

Another jock tried to stop Karofsky but got no further than, "What the hell, Karofsky? You've turned into a f-" before a large hammer-like fist flattened him.

"Az and I are together now, and if you don't like that you can stick your homophobic attitude up your ass and go whine to your mama about it. Got me? If a total gay-wad like Hummel can be open about who he is and still get the respect of the whole school, then why not me? You got a problem with that, Kazinsky?"

From his position on the floor, the hockey-jock shook his head violently, clutching his bleeding nose. "No man, like, whatever you want to do. We’re cool.”

"That's what I thought you meant," he growled. Continuing toward his goal, he glowered down at the grinning Kurt, scowled, and punched him in the jaw.

Kurt hit the floor like a bag of rocks. "What the hell!" he demanded. "What'd you do that for?"

"Quit being such a pansy, I barely tapped you," the unrepentant jock scoffed. "And that was for convincing Azimio and me to man up, but not until after you'd already damaged the goods."

"Oh," Kurt said meekly. "Yeah, sorry about that. I’m sure he’ll be okay by tomorrow."

Accepting the hand Karofsky held out to him, his smile returned when the big teen simply shook hands with him and grunted, "Thanks, Hummel."

"Watch out for Slushies, David!" Mercedes sang out merrily as their enemy continued on his way. Karofsky flipped her off over his shoulder as he rounded the corner. Mercedes just chuckled. "That boy is just stupid if he really thinks one threat is going to get him out of all the revenge that half this school is going to start formulating now."

"Yeah," Kurt agreed, thoughtfully brushing off his clothes in case any stray dirt had transferred from his unexpected trip to the floor. "Just, do me a favor and don't be one of them, okay?"

She pouted. "Why not? Do you know how many times I've had to wash corn syrup out of my weave because of those two?"

"I know, but I don't think I want to encourage the same kind of behavior that's made me miserable for so long. Karofsky and Azimio are jerks, we're never going to be friends or anything, and I don't owe them any favors, but it'll be better for me in the long run if people can start to accept them."

Mercedes immediately understood his point and gave him a warm hug. "I get it. You're right. I refuse to help those two if somebody else wants to get in a little Slushie revenge, but I won't throw any of my own. I promise."

"Me, too," Tina said, squeezing Kurt's shoulder. “And judging from what I just heard, I’m assuming that you had something to do with getting those two together in the first place. Care to share?”

“I’ll tell you the whole story later, I promise,” he said, realizing it would be okay to spill the juicy details now that things had worked out better than he’d ever expected. Preening a little, he teased. “But you should know never to doubt a bad-ass with a master plan. Dr. Love Industries is on the job.”

Mercedes burst out laughing at her best friend’s absurdity. "Well, don't look now, Doc, but I think you just got added to your own client-list."

"Huh?" he said, confused until Mercedes turned him around to face his locker. Kurt's mouth dropped open. The surface was covered in taped-on roses and gaudy little music-note stickers. "What the heck?"

Tina and Mercedes exchanged an amused look.

Almost afraid, Kurt spun the combination and opened his locker. There was nothing unusual inside except a note that had been pushed through the slats. It fell to the floor when he moved the door and Kurt bent down to pick it up, unfolding it carefully and reading out loud: "To the awesomest guy at McKinley High. Your eyes are bluer than the morning sky. If you will agree to hold my heart. Our love will never be torn apart."

Mercedes frowned. "A little sappy, but definitely sweet. Who sent it?"

Wide-eyed, Kurt shrugged. "I have no idea." Suddenly his gaze narrowed and irritation took over as his gaze landed on Puck, who had stopped to check out the display. "Oh, very funny! I suppose you came and did this while I was in Spanish class, just to screw with me."

"Dude, I don't give roses to other dudes," Puck said firmly. "Much less write crappy poems to them."

"Tina?" Kurt asked doubtfully.

She laughed. "Don't blame me for this. You did it to yourself."

Kurt frowned. "Me? What do you mean? Do you know who left this?"

"I've got a pretty good idea," she said, glancing toward the steps and drawing their attention to the same little brown-eyed boy that Kurt had rescued from the morning dumpster-toss. He blushed and waved shyly when he realized that Kurt was looking at him, then turned and ran away before anyone could even try to talk to him.

Reading the note again, Kurt slumped against his locker with wide eyes and a shocked face. "Holy crap! Does that kid have a crush on me?"

Mercedes grinned. "Yep, and if these flowers are any indication, I'm guessing it's a bad one. Who is he anyway?"

Looking a little guilty, Kurt admitted, "I don't know. I can't even remember seeing him before today."

Puck broke out laughing. "Man, you'd better keep your distance from the Puckster. I'm not looking to switch teams and you're starting to scare me. First you convert the caveman twins and then a couple of hours later you've got your very own Twinkie!"

"Don't say that," Kurt snapped. "The kid is probably just confused. Like, maybe he's just hero-worshiping me because I protected him from those bullies this morning. I know how that feels. After all, the crush I had on Finn last year started the exact same way, and we all know how well that turned out."

"Yeah, but the difference here is that you're gay," Tina pointed out mercilessly. "And everybody knows it, so that boy just might think he stands a chance with you."

Mercedes poked him in the side. "Yeah, Kurt. What are the odds of a straight boy deciding to crush on his hero and leave him flowers and love-notes? I think you got a real shot."

"Oh, shut up," he ordered, blushing furiously. "He can't be more than 14! I'm almost 17, and that's just creepy."

"I've dated freshmen girls," Puck pointed out, leering as he said, "More than just dated, if you know what I mean." He flinched and yelped, "Ow!" when all three of his companions simultaneously smacked him on wherever patch of flesh they could reach.

Kurt sighed. "Thank you for so firmly proving my point, Noah. I'll just have to ignore this and hope he loses interest."

"Oh, yeah," Mercedes scoffed. "Cause that plan always works."

The hallway rang with the soft metallic thud of a well-coiffed head repeatedly banging itself against a locker door.

The End