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Title: like its never been done before
Author: [ profile] stardustonsable 
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Kurt/Blaine, Sam/Mercedes, Quinn/Rachel
Word Count: 3,000
Summary: 5 Times Kurt and/or Mercedes Heard I Love You and 1 Times They Didn't Need To
Spoilers: If you haven't watched 2x22 you may wanna wait to read this.
Warnings: References to homophobic bullying and some body-policing.
Author Notes: I've been working on this since I stopped screaming about 2x22. Title and cuttag are modified lyrics from Does It Offend You Yeah?'s Pull Out My Insides

It happens in the coffee shop. Kurt feels like he should send an invitation to this coffee shop to the wedding he only thinks about very late at night when Blaine falls asleep on the phone and Kurt hasn’t hung up the phone yet.

New York is still on his skin and on his tongue and Blaine has this look on his face that Kurt tries not to think about too hard because he’s been known to make things up in his head.

He says it when Kurt has a mouthful of coffee and Kurt knows his man. Blaine doesn’t have bad timing. Not with things like this. Kurt takes the moment Blaine gives him, because he doesn’t get this. He’s the girly-voiced flamboyant gay kid from Lima, Ohio. He’s supposed to still be pining for big cities and pretty boys.

He’s dreamed about this since he was old enough to dream about getting I love yous. He’s dreamed about hearting Blaine say it since the first day they met, even if he’d never tell anyone that. But he isn’t sure he wants this yet.

He looks at Blaine, allowing himself to see the adoring looks that’s been plastered on the other boy’s face since he picked him up earlier in the day. It’s not expectant. Kurt doesn’t think he even needs to hear it back. But Kurt thinks of being shoved into lockers, of late night Warbler rehearsals when they’re both half asleep. He thinks of how long he’s been ignoring the look Blaine is giving him now.

“I love you, too,” he says. He still isn’t sure.

“I love you.”
Mercedes rears back. She scoots over to her side of the backset and smoothes down her clothes. Sam stares at her, his big mouth somehow even fuller, swollen and red from the kissing—and biting. It’s hot in the car, from their combined body heat and from the summer sun. They have to be at Kurt’s in an hour for a party but they’d found a mostly empty parking lot to kill the time in.

“I’m not Quinn,” she says slowly and this is far from the first time she’s said those words to him. She said it the first time he’d asked her out. She’d said it the first time they’d kiss. She’d yelled it the first time they fought and nearly ended a good thing before it really started. “I’m not Rachel. I’m definitely not Kurt. I don’t need a big declaration to let you get to second base. We’ve been together two months. I know I’m lovable, boo, but you haven’t gotten there yet.”

Sam nods and looks a little relieved. “I mean, you deserve just as much as they do. And I probably will fall in love with you…” He’s always so careful to equate her to the other girls and he never treats her any different. She thinks that maybe it should bother her but she likes not having to be the diva when she’s with him. She also likes that he’s just a little scared of her, always stumbling over his words to make sure he doesn’t hurt her feelings.

Mercedes laughs and slides closer to him. Sam lights up when he sees she isn’t mad at him. She pulls him closer to her by his hair. “I don’t really see the point of falling in love in high school, but we’ll see.”

“I love you guys,” Rachel says sloppily then sobs. Mercedes makes a face at Kurt, who returns it. They’d come over for their usual sleepover to find her dads gone and Rachel working her way through their alcohol cabinet. Finn had apparently broken up with her (again) for Quinn (again) even though Quinn didn’t want him (again). She’d rambled at them about the thematic quality of drinking herself into a stupor while they wrestled her away from the bottles and up to her room. When she was finally in bed, watered and medicated, she loudly apologized for what all the alcohol would probably do to her voice and how it would ruin the glee club yet again, as she was the star member then went quiet. They stood next to her bed for a few more minutes, waiting for her breathing to even out.

When they were positive she was asleep they went back downstairs, alone together for what seemed like the first time since Kurt came back from Dalton. Kurt had been back at McKinley longer than he’d been at Dalton already. The strangeness was palatable.

Kurt looked at her. “Why does this feel so awkward? You’re my best friend.”
Mercedes shrugged one shoulder. “Not really. Not since you went to Dalton and got Blaine. And after that, you came back and Rachel was your girl. We haven’t been tight for a while.”

Kurt shifts his feet. “I’m sorry.”

Mercedes smiles and shrugs again. “We’ll work on it. Maybe start by telling each other secrets first?” Kurt breaks out into a grin but Mercedes holds up a hand. “Me first. Uh. Sam and I are. Kinda together.”

Kurt’s squeal is surprisingly quiet but the flailing makes up for it. He pulls her down to the couch and they slip back into their old friendship, just like that.

Mercedes looks through a shop window at the rows of prom dresses. Hers is being made because she didn’t see a reason to go through the drama for some off the rack monstrosity that barely fit. Not for her senior prom. Not when she has someone other than herself to look good for. But she still looks, because some of them are decent and she has time to kill.

She glances over her shoulder, not seeing any of her boys, so she goes in. She can’t help but snort at the wary greeting the girl at the cash register calls out. As if Mercedes doesn’t know none of these dresses will fit her. Mercedes may not be as loud and proud about it as Lauren but she knows she’s big and she knows she looks good. She turns to a rack of glitter and taffeta explosions and rolls her eyes. She recognizes the girls on the other side of the rack. They’re two younger Cheerios that remind her of Santana and Quinn, minus the Sapphic subtext: Young, egotistical and positive they rule the school. And they‘re giving Mercedes looks she hasn’t seen since the early days of New Directions. But they don’t hurt like those looks did. These little girls just piss her off.

“Can I help you?” She snaps when they don’t look away.
“We were just surprised,” one of them says. She hasn’t perfected the mix of arrogant aloofness that is Quinn’s normal voice. “I guess they’re just letting anyone in these stores now.”

Mercedes pauses. She honestly isn’t sure if that was a snipe at her size or her color. She’s been hearing fat all her life but she can count the number of times a Cheerio had insulted her race on one hand. But someone takes over before she can tell them about themselves.

“Really, sweethearts, you should be surprised she deigned to grace this shitty store.” Kurt’s voice is like steel behind her. But it isn’t his arm that slips around her waist. She could handle this herself, easily, but it feels good to let her boys defend her. It reminds her that she and Kurt are good again, and that Sam is there for her. Hell, even Blaine’s muppet eyebrows are probably furrowed.

Sam just glares at the girls while Kurt verbally eviscerates them and the store. When he finishes Sam turns her around and escorts her out. She catches a flash of her other boys. Kurt stands himself stiff and haughty, Blaine looks between him and her, awe for Kurt and concern for her.

“I could’ve handled that,” she says when they’re sitting next to the mall’s fountain. “I’m not scared of some little beginner Cheerios. I’m friends with Santana.

“You shouldn’t have to!” Kurt says, his voice almost shrill. She can hear the rant about to come but Sam shakes his head.

“I wish I was as good with words as Kurt,” he says quietly to her. “Instead I get to watch somebody else defend the girl I love. I hate it.”

Mercedes’ stomach flips. He hasn’t said it again since that time in the car months ago. The school year is almost over and they’re in a mall for godssake. Her best friend is still ranting at his nodding-but-not-listening boyfriend.

She takes his hand and simply says “I love you, too.”

They keep smiling at each other.

He says it so flatly, so surely that Kurt is struck speechless for a moment. But just for a moment.

“Excuse me?” he hisses. He can feel the Hummel temper sparked already, just from the implications of Blaine’s tone. There was no room for argument or compromise. There was a decision made and Kurt hadn’t been part of it.
“We aren’t going to prom, Kurt. You saw what happened last year. And it’s not like the bullying has let up. And now we’re both targets, and it can only be worse. What if they decide that a stupid joke isn’t enough this time? What if they hurt you?”

Kurt turned around. Blaine was sitting up on his bed, wringing the scarf that Kurt had been wearing earlier. He looked honestly frightened. Kurt has to remind himself that Blaine isn’t just being overly-cautious. He has to remember that Blaine has been hurt. He can remember the first time he’d touched one of the scars on Blaine’s side. He remembers all of that to keep his anger in check, to keep from blowing up.

“This was supposed to be our year, Blaine Anderson. The year we were out and proud and didn’t give a fuck.” Blaine flinches at the curse. Kurt’s been more lax with the language, trying his damndest to shake up some of Blaine’s dapperness, but he was always insistent that they didn’t curse when they were arguing. Kurt is doing his best to not blow that rule out of the water. He’s spent half his childhood in a carshop, he can curse as well as he can shop. “We’ve spent all year holding hands and flinching anytime anyone looks at us. Do you want me to just go back in the closet? Should I start dating Brittany again? You can get Rachel and we can go on a fucking double date.”

Kurt isn’t sure when he started yelling. He isn’t sure why he can’t stop. This is too much like the time with Karofsky, when he’d started yelling and forgot everything else. He hopes Blaine doesn’t stand up, because he’s afraid the angry person that’s taken over his body will perceive it as a challenge. Blaine, his beautiful Blaine who uses his personality to make up for the inches of height he lacks, is suddenly small and ashen on Kurt’s bed. Kurt has always known that he has this power. That the bitch he can be combined with how much Blaine loves him could combine into something terrible. But he never thought he would intentionally hurt Blaine.

“I love you,” Blaine says quietly. That’s all he says. Kurt wants him to fight back. He wants that mean spark that gets lost in the sea of adoration whenever Blaine looks at him. He wants the boyfriend that laughs when he makes fun of the Cheerios on their out-of-uniform days. He wants a boyfriend, not a worshipper.

The realization thumps into him. This is why he can’t freely return Blaine’s casual I love yous. This is the wariness, the fear. Kurt exhales and all the anger drains out of him. He takes a step forward, and is infinitely glad when Blaine doesn’t flinch. He isn’t sure what he would do if he’d placed himself in the same category as Karofsky: someone to fear and hide from.

He steps forward until his thighs are pressed into the edge of the bed and he touches Blaine’s cheek. Blaine’s eyes close and Kurt just looks at him. They’re quiet for a long time, listening to each other breath.

Finally Blaine opens his eyes and looks at Kurt.

“I’m not glass, Blaine,” he says it gently. “I’m not some precious vase. I’m not going to break. I’ve been thrown in enough dumpsters to know. They aren’t going to break us. I’m going to go to prom, because it’s my senior prom and people tell me it’s the highlight of my high school career. I have doubts about that part, but I know with our friends, it’ll be a night to remember. And I would be honored if you went with me.”

Blaine inhales deeply and leans forward to press his forehead to Kurt’s collarbone. He nods though, and Kurt can’t help the smile that stretches across his face.

“I’m not going to say I’m comfortable with this, Kurt. But I’m going to try.” Blaine’s voice buzzes through him, and he muses that he can feel it in his bones. They’re going to have to talk. About pedestals and about moving on from trauma. Their future holds a long discussion about why Blaine never fights him, because he knows Blaine has a temper just as bad as his. They’re going to have to talk about the future, and just how flawed Kurt really is outside of Blaine’s rose-colored glasses.

But right now Kurt just pushes Blaine to sit up straight and murmurs ‘I love you’ before pressing their mouths together.

Finn is yelling. Finn has been yelling for a while and so has Quinn. Rachel is worryingly silent. Kurt and Mercedes have been watching the stupid romantic triangle collapse for at least twenty minutes now. It’s not good form for Kurt who is technically hosting this We’ll Miss Glee but Thank God We Graduated party. He’s being a terrible hostess because everyone else is inside. Both Sam and Blaine have been out here to check on them. Both boys have been sent back in the house to actually enjoy themselves. Sam went easily pressing a kiss to the side of Mercedes mouth then turning around. Blaine doesn’t go as easily and he and Kurt go off to the side to argue for a few minutes. But Kurt comes back smiling. Mercedes has noticed that lately they argue more, but Kurt always comes back from the arguments smiling, so she figures they’re okay.

Okay is something that Rachel, Finn and Quinn definitely are not. Neither Kurt nor Mercedes have been following the train wreck too closely since Rachel’s last encounter with her father’s alcohol cabinet, but they still saw more than most people. They saw Rachel stop looking at Finn with big, sad eyes. They saw Quinn start sitting next to Rachel, her tongue sharper but her eyes softer. When it came time for Prom Queen campaigning Quinn had just shook her head and smiled at Rachel. Neither girl looked at Finn.

Kurt had talked to Finn about it, of course. The boy was slow, but he wasn’t blind. He knew both of the girls he’d loved through his high school years were moving away from him, and they seemed to be moving closer to each other. Kurt hadn’t had any advice for him. He’s come to love friend as a brother, but he loves Rachel too and he could love Quinn easily. He knows that Finn is indecisive and if he had his way he’d have both of them panting after him until they all parted ways for college. Kurt wanted Finn to be happy, but he wanted Rachel and Quinn to stop hurting, so he’d gently suggested that Finn just let them go.

Mercedes shares Kurt’s opinion. But she knew something Kurt didn’t know. She’d walked in on Quinn and Rachel, faces close together, fingers curled together. She hadn’t been particularly surprised. Mentally she ticked a few more people off the increasingly small list of straight people in the glee club and turned around. Now she looks at them. Rachel is standing behind Quinn, holding Quinn’s hand. She’s holding Quinn back. Quinn is angry, louder than she ever is in Glee. She’s throwing all of Finn’s mistake in his face and Finn grows smaller and smaller until he remembers something one of them has done to him. It’s been going on for twenty minutes and Rachel hasn’t said a word.

Kurt and Mercedes are watching because that’s what they do. They watch and they discuss. And they’re watching because somehow they’ve come to love these three and there’s nothing they can do to help right now.

Finn throws a few words in Quinn’s face and she jerks back like she’s been hit. Rachel gasps and Kurt grabs Mercedes hand. She squeezes his hand and Finn’s eyes go wide, as if he’s surprised by the words too. He shakes his head and turns, almost running away from them.

They hear his car start and leave. Quinn turns to Rachel and Rachel silently pulls Quinn into her arms. They kiss, careless of who’s watching. It’s a soft kiss, but it says so much. When they pull apart Quinn buries her head in Rachel’s neck and Rachel’s mouth is moving but she is too quiet for Kurt and Mercedes to hear. It doesn’t matter. They can easily guess what she’s saying.

Quinn nods and lifts her head, wiping at her eyes. They kiss again. Kurt pulls Mercedes towards the door, back into the house to give Rachel and Quinn privacy.

Blaine and Sam are near the door, obviously trying to decide which of them is going to go out this time. Kurt and Mercedes unclasp hands to move into the arms of their respective boyfriends.
They don’t say anything.
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