Uninvited Criticisms, Part 2

Nov 27, 2011 20:54

Because 11,000 words are just too much awesome for one post.

Friday, November 25th, 10:47am:

It was hard to tell if Blaine bought Kurt’s hastily constructed excuse of seeing a pair of giant cockroaches on the carpet in the dressing room-Mercedes, unsure of how to best distract Blaine, had shown him the closest approximation that Macy’s had of Mike Chang’s Rocky Horror costume, before Mr. Chang had refused to sign off on his son playing a sweet transvestite.

Blaine’s response to the nasty shock, and probably slightly-scarring mental images, was to buy a giant, monkey shaped pillow-“For my cousin!” he had lied shamelessly-from the housewares department and cling to it like a life raft.

The mall was as crowded as ever when Kurt and Mercedes left Macy’s, a sleepy Tina and Blaine trailing obediently behind them. Mercedes’s stomach was growling. “Those energy bars taste like cardboard,” she said sourly. “Now, you know I love shopping as much as the next person, but it’s almost eleven, and we haven’t eaten in over six hours. We’re not getting any more Doorbuster Deals before they expire, and the rest of the sales last until at least 3pm. We need real food.”

Tina nodded in agreement. “My legs feel weird,” she commented. “I need something with sugar in it before I pass out.”

Sighing, Kurt looked at Blaine. “How about you?” he asked, resigning himself to the inevitable pathetic choices of a picked-over food court.

Blaine shook his head. “We can keep shopping while the girls eat, if you want,” he said loyally.

Kurt raised an eyebrow-Blaine’s arms were straining from the weight of the bags he was carrying, the bags under his eyes were a deep, bruised color, and his head was drifting unconsciously toward the monkey pillow clutched to his chest.

“No, you need to eat,” Kurt decided, feeling a little guilty at the flush of relief on Blaine’s face at his words. “The lines will be ridiculous at this time of day, though. Do you want to go take a nap in the car, and I’ll bring you a salad or something?”

Blaine looked touched by the offer. “No, I don’t want to leave you,” he reasoned. “But maybe you three could wait in line, while I put the bags in the trunk? I’m not sure my arms are going to hold out much longer, otherwise.”

Mercedes and Tina were agreeable to that plan, so the three of them set out for the food court while Blaine took the keys and the rest of the bags, waving off any offers of assistance and asking instead that they buy him an extra-large coffee.

Kurt sincerely hoped that Blaine didn’t collapse and die in his endeavor. Good boyfriends were so hard to find.

The food court was as crowded as Kurt expected it to be, and then some. He walked down the center aisle, slightly dazed by the sheer amount of people for the first time all day.

“The lines are moving pretty quickly,” Mercedes pointed out, scanning the different food counters with a critical eye. “It’s finding a table that’s going to be a serious issue.” She was right, of course-the tables were jammed with people and shopping bags, and human vultures with trays were weaving around chairs and tables, looking for an open space.

“I found fifty of them,” a toneless voice made them all jump.

Brittany was standing right beside them, clearly having taken courses at the Santana Lopez School of Sneaking Up on People. She shrugged at their reaction. “They’re all over the room,” she elaborated, pointing at the tables helpfully for Mercedes’s benefit.

Kurt placed a soothing hand on Mercedes’s arm before she could answer defensively. “I think she meant it’ll be hard to find an empty table for us to sit down at,” he explained kindly.

Brittany tilted her head. “Come sit with me and Becky,” she suggested. “Santana scared away the Lima Community College football team, so now we have their table.”

Becky and Brittany had indeed commandeered a table, empty but for three salads, Santana’s jacket, and eight hastily abandoned chairs. Kurt and the girls quickly claimed seats, draping their sweaters and coats over the seatbacks, and promised to return with onion rings (“Santana went to the car to get our Master Cleanse bottles and a sharper knife,” Brittany had explained, “and we’re not allowed to leave the table until she comes back, except to get ketchup packets to throw at fat people”).

The sandwich counter and the coffee shop were next to each other, but the lines were different lengths-therefore it was Tina who first brought the situation to his attention.

“Kurt,” she said in a warning tone, gripping his arm a little too tightly. Kurt was about to lecture her for it-she was leaving fingermarks on the fabric-until he realized what it was she was looking at:

Eight enormous boys, taller and wider than Finn by far, surrounding Brittany and Becky’s table and looking generally menacing. And every last one of them was wearing an LCC football jacket.

“Oh, crap,” Kurt sighed, before turning to Tina. “Do you know where the security office is?” he asked, his mouth suddenly a little too dry.

Tina nodded. “Good,” he replied. “Sprint.”

Tina took off with one last, frightened look at him.

Abandoning his place in line, he hurried over to Mercedes. “Do you have Santana’s phone number?” he demanded, ripping her phone out of her hand and scrolling through her contacts.

Mercedes scowled. “Watch it, Grabby Hands,” she warned. “She’s under Scrawny Evil Bitch, why?”

Kurt turned her body so that she was facing the table. “We have a bit of a situation,” he said grimly. “Get somewhere with reception and call her-we need back up until mall security gets here.”

“Wait, what are you going to do?” she asked, sounding concerned.

Kurt shrugged. “I’ll be fine,” he lied, pressing the phone into her hand, “just go. Now.”

Giving him a warning look that clearly said don’t you dare try anything stupid, white boy, or I’ll kill you myself, Mercedes rushed out of the atrium.

Kurt turned back to the table, watching the scene unfold anxiously. He didn’t want to go over there. He really didn’t want to go over there. He liked his limbs where they were, even if his thighs were dangerously close to accumulating cellulite, and his head was just fine the way it was, attached to his neck and facing the right direction and everything.

At the table, Becky scowled at the boy who seemed to be doing most of the talking. Kurt relaxed slightly. Maybe he wouldn’t have to step in and help them. Maybe they’d be fine on their own, until Tina got back with mall security, or Santana ran in, guns blazing and ready to smack some heads together.

One of the gorillas yanked Brittany’s phone out of her hand, holding it over his head while he leaned in and taunted her, leering as he did. Kurt was walking over before he’d even made a conscious decision to do so.

Once he was nearly there, however, he started to panic. As big as the boys-men, really-had looked before, they were even bigger up close. His studded satchel was not a weapon equipped to handle the situation if it turned violent.

He gulped. “Brittany, are you okay?” he croaked, mouth on autopilot while the rest of him concentrated on not vomiting or dropping dead on the spot in sheer fright. Just distract them for a few minutes, the only sane part of his brain that hadn’t completely checked out insisted. Just keep them occupied, and try not to die or get ripped apart by the-oh God, he’s looking at you.

The football player with Brittany’s phone was indeed looking at Kurt. “Hey guys, check it out,” he drawled, clearly amused. “The Flamer’s back to rescue his pack of retards. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m terrified.”

Kurt’s mouth opened before his brain could catch up and shut it the hell up. “Insults of the highest caliber,” his voice rang out, tone drier than he would have imagined himself capable of in such a dire situation.

Particularly when he was simultaneously realizing how badly he was sealing his own fate. “Really,” he continued, voice still remarkably clear, “I don’t think anyone’s ever called me that before.” Kurt eyed the boy’s pants, which were resting obscenely low on his hips, exposing a good four inches of red-patterned boxers. “Did you stay up all night putting that one together, or was it in your textbook at plumber school?” he asked sweetly.

One of the other baboons glared at him threateningly. “You calling us stupid, Ladyface?” he wanted to know. “Because guess what-your scary little girlfriend is gone, so there’s just three of you little girls, and eight of us.” Getting up in Kurt’s personal space, he leaned forward. “Who’s stupid now, Fairy?”

His breath was humid and unpleasant on Kurt’s face. Kurt didn’t answer.

The gorilla with Brittany’s phone scoffed. “Come on, Tinkerbelle,” he goaded. “You knew plenty of fancy words a minute ago. What do you have to say for yourself now?”

Even if Tina had walked, she would have been in the security office and sobbing by now. Help couldn’t be more than two minutes away-what could Kurt possibly say to keep them distracted for two minutes? He took a deep breath.

And gagged. “A lot,” he said breathlessly, damning the personal consequences and stepping into The Zone. “The first of which is, get a breath mint. What have you been eating, rodents? You’re athletes-you should be getting a healthy mix of produce, whole grains, and protein, not living off of keg beer and beef jerky.” He shook his head. “Information is everywhere; there’s no excuse for a poor diet.

“And it’ll clear your acne right up, I promise,” he added, pointing to one of the hulking figures toward the back of the group, who was sporting an unfortunate complexion. “Showering immediately after practice should help with that as well, as well as protect your hair, which-admit it-gets sweaty and greasy and just generally gross under those helmets. You’re fine,” he said, singling out the best-coiffed of the boys, “but the rest of you could really benefit from a good conditioner. There are different types; you can purchase products for curly or straight hair, or if you dye it like that guy-“

“Excuse me?” the overly blonde football player whom Kurt had selected protested, offended.

Kurt shook his head. “Trust me,” he said pityingly. “I see it; the girls at school see it. Try going a shade darker. Now, as I was saying...”

Friday, November 25th, 11:23am:

Blaine splashed some water on his face and looked at himself in the mirror. His reflection looked just as confused as he felt.

Something was going on with Kurt, and he didn’t know what it was.

At first, Blaine chalked his unease up to the weirdness of the day itself-too much coffee, not enough sleep, hoards of crazy people everywhere, not the least of whom was his boyfriend. But over the course of the morning, it became clearer and clearer to Blaine that Kurt was hiding something. And that whatever it was, Mercedes and Tina were in on it.

Blaine had wracked his brain for a plausible explanation, but hadn’t come up with much. His first reasonable idea, that Kurt was buying things for his Christmas present and had asked Mercedes and Tina to keep him distracted, didn’t seem too likely-Blaine had ended up carrying nearly all of Kurt’s bags, and consequently had a pretty good idea of what Kurt was and was not buying.

For a while, he was worried that maybe Kurt was shoplifting-his bag was certainly big enough to hold several smaller objects in, and it would explain why he looked so shifty and nervous every time Blaine came back whenever they were separated. That was a lot more serious than Kurt being sneaky about a Christmas gift, and obviously something Blaine couldn’t just ask him about. For one thing, it was incredibly unlikely that Kurt, King of the Moral High Ground, would do something like that, and he’d definitely be offended if he thought Blaine thought that. For another, he didn’t have to-Kurt had plenty of spending money from working for Burt, and had been out with Blaine often enough to know that Blaine’s credit limit was ridiculously high, and that he was more than happy to pay for anything and everything Kurt could want.

In the mall, anyway. Blaine wasn’t sure his trust fund could make the Sondheim Theme Park happen.

In any case, Blaine couldn’t believe that of Kurt. There had to be a better explanation for his weird behavior and heightened insanity, and the best way to figure it out was simply to ask him. Blaine would just have to pull him aside and ask if everything was all right, and explain his concerns if Kurt denied that he was acting differently, that was all.

Drying his hands and resolved to his course of action, Blaine walked out of the men’s room, down the corridor, and back into the mall.

Seventeen mall security officers ran by, Tina fast on their heels.

Blaine’s heart sank.

“Tina!” he yelled, causing her to stop so shortly that she nearly fell forward. He rushed to steady her. “Tina, what’s going on?” he demanded gently, taking in her blotchy, tear-streaked complexion. Oddly enough, it didn’t make him that much more worried-either he’d seen her cry far too often, or his brain was still stuck on the seventeen mall security officers part.

Before Tina could answer, Blaine heard a familiar, delighted peal of laughter ring out behind him. “Blainers, your boyfriend is getting his smackdown on in the food court!” Santana crowed, jumping on his shoulders and nearly knocking him over. “My phone is blowing up; I didn’t think he had it in him.”

“What?” Blaine hissed, simultaneously confused and stunned-and vindicated, he knew something weird was going on, and-

“It’s not funny!” Tina snapped, angrier than Blaine had ever heard her sound before. “It’s your fault those guys were picking on Brittany and Becky, and now Kurt’s all by himself trying to stop a bunch of angry, scary giants! Kurt’s not even half the size of one of them-they could kill him! Blaine, where are you-“

Blaine didn’t hear the rest of her sentence. Throwing Santana off with a burst of adrenaline, he was running toward the food court, toward Kurt, afraid his heart was going to stop or explode.

Friday, November 25th, 11:28am:

As the mall cops spread over the scene, Kurt couldn’t tear his eyes away from Blaine, who looked a lot like he himself must have looked when he was first approaching the group of football thugs. Without a word, Blaine grabbed his hand and began pulling, leading him through LCC man-mountains and mall security and eager bystanders, who were excitedly recounting the whole scene to anyone who would listen. Kurt let himself be dragged out of the food court, his one meek “Blaine, where are we-“ silenced by a hard look from Blaine.

Blaine didn’t say anything until they were out the glass doors, crossing the parking lot until they reached Kurt’s car.

And even then, it wasn’t so much ‘saying something’ as it was ‘shoving Kurt up against the door and sticking his tongue down Kurt’s throat’, hands gripping Kurt’s lower back with a bruising strength that Blaine had never dared to use on him before.

When they finally came up for air, Kurt let his head fall back against the window with an audible thump. “Not that you ever need a reason to do that,” he said breathlessly, “but what-“

“You,” Blaine interrupted fervently. “Just you.”

He tugged fruitlessly at Kurt’s sleeve. “God,” he sighed, looking dismayed, “I heard what you were doing, and I was so proud of you. And at the same time, I thought you were going to die. And now I’m torn between being horrified and really turned on, and you can’t ever do something like that again, okay? It’s just too much.”

Kurt’s arms were around Blaine instantly. “I’m sorry,” he said earnestly, breath hitching. “I just reacted; I was scared for Brittany and Becky. I didn’t mean to do that to you, I promise. I would never do that to you.”

Blaine let out a shaky sigh. “I was just worried,” he admitted. “It wasn’t just now; I know you know that. You’ve been acting different all day, and I know that it’s Black Friday, but-“

He stopped, peering closer at Kurt, who knew his face was flushing. “What?” Blaine asked warily.

After everything that had happened, the last of Kurt’s reserves were drained, and the dam finally broke.

“This is me, I’ve been like this all day,” Kurt wailed unhappily, dropping his face into his hands so that he didn’t have to see the look of horror that was about to form on his boyfriend’s beautiful face. “I don’t mean to do it, but when I’m out in public and people are jerks, I just snap and start yelling-and usually I can control it around you because I don’t want you to think that I’m insane, but it’s Black Friday, and all of my emotions are heightened by, like 1000%, and it all just comes spilling out, like right now, oh God.”

He took a deep breath, still not looking up. “I try to at least be constructively critical,” he added despondently, “since that’s what separates people with class from people who just complain in order to hear their own voices, but-wait, why are you laughing?”

Because Blaine was laughing-trying to stop himself, if the hand over his mouth was any indication, but still. “I’m sorry,” he gasped after a few seconds, resting his free hand on Kurt’s shoulder, either in reassurance or to steady himself. “It’s just-you’re acting like I’ve never seen you yell at someone before. You yell at people all the time; complete strangers, even. Why didn’t you just tell me?”

Kurt was still upset. “Because you’re the one that let that guy steal your bowtie and didn’t even get mad,” he said miserably, “and I’m the one who’s not even allowed back in Nordstrom because I got arrested by the mall cops last year. You’re just so nice, and I can be incredibly not nice, and admit it-you don’t like it when I’m mean to people. I just thought you’d be upset or think less of me, if you saw me at my worst like that.”

Kurt looked sadly at Blaine, fully prepared for a lecture on how, while Blaine didn’t like it when he was mean, he loved Kurt and wasn’t going to leave him just because he turned into an unmitigated monster once a year.

He was not prepared for Blaine to look utterly delighted, as if someone had told him that Christmas had come early and that Santa had brought him a lifetime supply of puppies and hair gel.

“You, Kurt Hummel, were arrested by the mall cops?” Blaine crowed, beyond thrilled by the prospect. “I’m dating a hardened criminal?”

Kurt blushed crimson. “Shut up,” he muttered, his face heating up.

Blaine wasn’t done. “Oh my-Kurt, a criminal record!” he swooned dramatically. “What will my father say when he hears about this?”

“Shut up,” Kurt whined again, laughing a little despite himself. “It was mortifying, if you must know. Finn had to come get me so that they didn’t call my dad, and he was morbidly concerned that I had ‘dropped the soap’ in my one hour incarceration-in the mall security office, mind you-and spent the next week practically falling over himself trying to change the channel every time Law and Order or Cops came on television, and it was horribly embarrassing and we never speak of it. Ever.”

Somewhere over the course of his humiliating admission, Blaine had ended up wrapped around Kurt, his face buried in Kurt’s neck. “I just love you,” he mumbled, hot and wet into Kurt’s skin, making him shiver. “Can we get lunch now?”

Kurt looked down at him, surprised. “You want to go back in there?” he asked incredulously.

Blaine smiled up at him lazily. “I’m sure. Black Friday only comes once a year-this is your favorite day, and we’re going to enjoy it.” He stood back up, offering his hand. Kurt took it, smiling, and let Blaine lead him back across the parking lot and toward the mall.

“Besides,” Blaine added, “I’ve got my juvenile delinquent boyfriend to protect me, if anything else happens.”

“Oh my God, shut up.”

“Did I mention that your neck smells delightfully of prison soap today?”

“Shut up!”
Previous post Next post