A/n: This is what happens when you accidentally read a whole bunch of season 1 fic and then there’s trans* fanart all over your dash. This was supposed to be just a short look into why Kurt had such an intense crush on Finn in season 1, but then it got out of control. Title from ‘Something Good’ from The Sound of Music.
Warnings: Homophobia/homophobic language, trans*phobia, bullying (nothing worse than on the show.)
[Note: This is just a repost of an older fic, I’m moving everything to one blog. \o/ Organisation yay!]
Middle school was a nightmare.
Well, it had been fine in sixth grade- because no one cares about you when you’re in sixth grade except for your classmates, but that’s just really survival instinct, pack mentality- and as long as you kept your head down the older kids would leave you alone. Mostly alone.
If you kept your head down and were slightly less annoying than Jacob ben Israel. Then you got left mostly alone.
He’d actually been kind of popular in sixth grade, well, Liesl had been popular at least. Teased a bit for her name, but most of the other girls had gotten over that once they realized how good Liesl was with fashion and make-up.
The summer after sixth grade had been a whirl of sleepovers with giggly whispered secrets and pool parties with swimsuits that didn’t fit right for no real reason that Liesl could pin down. (Later she would beg until her dad relented and let her pick out some sporty two-piece suits that looked more like shorts and sports bras than the skimpy bikinis that all the other girls seemed hell-bent on wearing, despite their lack of any curves to fill them out. Sometimes Liesl liked to put on her suits and stare at her silhouette in the mirror. She liked how the bathing suits flattened out her budding chest- which felt weird and wrong and not in the way that her dad had tried to fumble his way through in explaining puberty- and made her shoulders look broad and strong.)
The first two months of seventh grade were pretty much the same, until That Horrible Day In October. That horrifying and embarrassing moment that happens in nearly every pubescent female’s life when she’s sitting in class, minding her own business, and suddenly fears that her life is in danger for the breifest moment in that aftermath of the humiliating dash to the nearest bathroom.
This is the first time that Liesl really thinks that life-altering thought. Sitting red-faced and knock-kneed outside the nurses office, she feels so completely and utterly wrong in this body that she could scream.
She thinks I’m not a girl.
The thought doesn’t strike her as odd or strange, not really. It’s more like relief, the letting go of a secret held for far too long. It’s such a freeing thought that it feels as though the wind has been knocked out of her.
Liesl leans back against the wall and stares at the ceiling, mind carefully blank, until the nurse comes bustling back in.
She does research after that. Holes up in the library at the most private computer and searches and searches. She uses the computer at home, when her dad’s not there, and carefully clears the history every time.
Over winter break Liesl reads and reads and reads and cries until she feels that she can’t anymore. There are testimonials and blogs and videos and people out there that are saying that she’s not alone in this. She hesitantly starts switching pronouns in her- no, his - mind. It’s like lifting weights off one by one. He lies on his bed and stares at the ceiling in a giddy whirl of his’ hes hims and me me me.
But Liesl isn’t sure who, exactly, he is.
Until later that week, when he’s watching The Sound Of Music for the billionth time and hating his namesake. The Von Trapp’s are singing their goodniiiiights on the stairs after the big party and the youngest son hits a note that makes everyone chuckle and clap in astonishment.
I can hit that note he thinks idly. He sings second soprano in choir. He nearly falls off the couch a second later. His mother always wanted to name her children after the Von Trapps. So, he’d just pick a different one from the selection.
Kurt, he thinks, and clutches the name to his heart. A boy that sings and speaks like a girl, but a boy. His name is Kurt.
"My name is Kurt." He says it out loud to no one and grins at the way the shard of sound falls of his tongue.
"Who’s name is Kurt, bud?" He starts at his dad’s voice. Burt walks into the room and finally seems to register the movie frozen on the screen. "Oh. Don’t you have this movie memorized by now?" He chuckles and ruffles Kurt’s hair as he heads back to the kitchen.
Kurt slows his pounding heart with deep breaths. Later, he’ll convince his dad that the newest fashion trends predicted for the next year are fitted vests and will shop in men’s clothing section with shaking hands before buying a few vests and two bowties.
Spring of seventh grade is where everything starts changing.
He feels as though his skin is too tight and itchy. He wears the wrong name and has the wrong body and changes in the wrong locker room. He’d never been completely comfortable in his body before, but now that he knew exactly why he felt so wrong it’s both better and worse.
Because now he knows who he really is, but can’t possibly make them understand.
He wears his new clothes every once in a while, sweaty palms and pounding heart as he ties his bowties and smooths his vest so that it almost-but-not-quite flattens out his curves. Three weeks before spring break, he’s sitting with some of the choir girls after their last rehearsal in one of his outfits and one of them turns to him.
"So, are you like, a lesbo or something now?"
He stares at her in shock for a moment.
"No. I definitely like guys."
He doesn’t wear the ties or vests for the rest of seventh grade.
That summer is hot and humid and full of thunderstorms. Most of the other kids his age lay at the poolside or hideaway in airconditioned cells with brightly lit screens.
Kurt reads and reads and reads. He gets an ebay account and learns how to enjoy the thrill of last minute victories. He learns how to layer and conceal and hide and create illusions with fabric and pins and a makeup brush.
Someday, he promises himself as he poses in front of his mirror, someday.
He helps his dad in the garage and learns how to cook fancy meals that his dad can’t pronounce no matter how much coaching he gives.
Everything falls apart in eighth grade.
He’d returned to middle school to harsh glares and whispers as he passed, his heart beating rabbit-quick. None of them knew, there was no way any of them could have found out. He opens his locker with teeth on edge against some unknown threat. Someone passing by knocks all of his books out of his hands as they pass.
"Liesl the Lezzy. Good, right?"
He freezes. The someone passes by, leaving a cloud of jeering faces and barely repressed disgust in the eyes of people he would have called friends last year.
"I’m not a lesbian!" He manages. "I’m not!" Definitely not.
"Then why are you dressed like a dyke?" Someone jeers.
"I am dressed in that lastest fashion trends, you imbecile. I wouldn’t expect you to know that though, because I doubt you can even read, let alone comprehend haute couture."
"Well princess, we’re in Ohio- not some fancy-ass fashion show." One of his fellow eighth graders is looking at him with a sneer. HIs hair is shaved off on either side of his head. He probably thinks in makes him look tough. "So I suggest that you get that stick outta your ass, wear girl clothes, and stop acting all high and mighty before you get yourself into real trouble."
One of his cronies flexes a fist and grins at him before they walk away, laughing and high-fiveing one another. Kurt feels his blood run cold, and then is suddenly relieved for this body that-isn’t-really-his. Because they wouldn’t hit a girl. Right?
The books being slapped out of his hands becomes a regular occurrence. He tries to have his backpack ready for the day so that he doesn’t have to go by his locker and risk getting slammed into it or locked in it, depending on the day, but after the fourth time he has to turn the bag right-side-out and put everything back in it, he decides that it’s not worth it. He digs out one of his dad’s old hard-shell briefcases and puts his work in there. He learns how to avoid wayward feet, spitwads, projectile gum, and the majority of his eighth grade class. Makeup becomes a way to hide red eyes and disguise bruises.
It all comes to a head one night when his dad ruffles his hair as he finishes prepping dinner. Kurt scowls and bats his hands away before turning around and seeing how Burt has gone still. He has a tiny wad of paper in his hand.
"Liesl, what’s this?" He holds the spitwad up for inspection. Kurt swears mentally- he must not’ve brushed all of them out after school
"It’s…it’s nothing, dad. Just was in the line of fire today at school."
He turns back to finish mixing the bowl of batter for dessert.
"Mmhmm, and how often are you in the ‘line of fire’? I’ve been finding these around the house for a while now and couldn’t figure out where they were coming from." There’s a small crinkling sound as he unravels the paper. Kurt closes his eyes as his dad reads the insult on the paper and inhales sharply. "What’s going on, kiddo?"
He slows his frantic mixing of batter to think. He could tell his dad, and maybe, maybe everything would be better. His dad always appreciated the no b.s. approach, so it would probably be best just to bite the bullet and get it over with. He puts the spoon down and slowly turns around to face his dad, white knuckles clutching the counter behind him.
"Jeez kid, you look like you’re gonna pass out. Is it really that bad?"
He takes a deep breath.
"Dad, it’s…it’s just that…I’m… I’m a boy. On the inside. I hate being a girl, but the kids at school think that I’m a lesbian- but I’m not! I- I had a better speech written out like five times, but I just couldn’t…"
He doesn’t realize that he crying until his dad pulls him into a hug and he can feel his tears soaking into the worn flannel. He sobs into his dad’s shoulder and lets the strong arms holding him support him.
They talk instead of eating dinner. Well, Kurt talks and explains as best he can and shows Burt articles and information and pictures. Burt sits and listens, frowning slightly, but listening intently and trying to keep up with Kurt’s rapid fire stream of information. When Kurt finally peters out, he turns to his dad.
"Say something?" Kurt twists his fingers anxiously.
"So, if you really feel like you’re a boy, like you said- you’d be my son now, right?"
Kurt feels like he can’t breathe. “Yes.” He whispers, hoping desperately.
Burt rubs his head and gives him a long look.
"I’ve never heard of anyone with a son named Liesl. You’re the brains of the operation here, do you have a guys name picked out yet or…?"
"Yeah." He says thickly. "My name’s Kurt."
For the first time in nearly a year Kurt Hummel breathes a sigh of relief and doesn’t feel as though he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
He and his dad talk, after he’s given Burt some time to absorb everything. Burt teases him at first for his new name sounding like ‘one of those Von Trapp kids’. Kurt tells him how bad the bullying is at school and Burt forces himself to stay calm in front of his dau- his son. They work out a plan for Kurt to complete middle school via correspondance and homeschooling. (When Kurt can’t hear, Burt calls the school and tears them a new one for letting his kid get picked on so bad.) They were technically in the school district for North Lima High, but Kurt had begged to go to Mckinley so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the same people all over again. He could have a fresh start there as himself.
Freshman year is hell.
The bullying in middle school was nothing to high school. The rule still stood that if you were higher up in the hierarchy than Ben Israel (how he still went to the same school as that creep remained a mystery to him) your chances improved by at least 50%. But for the first time, as Kurt stared up out of the dumpster, he realized that he was now the lowest totem on the pole. He never thought that he’d be grateful for high school bullies, but…
To them, they were picking on a guy with a high voice and fashion sense. They didn’t like him because he didn’t conform to their pre-existing code of masculinity.
Not because they see him as a girl- the reason is because they see him as a guy.
(Kurt knows that it’s a little sad that this makes him so happy, but hey, it’s the little things in life, right?)
Freshman year does have it’s perks- he meets Finn Hudson, second string quarterback on the varsity team (which is unheard of for a freshman) and general crush-worthy goof. Finn is friendly and calls him dude and at least tries to make an effort to hold his jacket for him on the days when they toss him. (And he’s endearingly stupid- Kurt’s sure that if Puckerman hadn’t talked him into half the stuff they got up too, Finn would be a perfectly nice person and not egg people or throw piss balloons at his car.) At first he’s just another cute boy, but then freshman year is over and Kurt’s survived. The summer is long and hot- perfect for days at the mall. (He might watch the packs of girls that move together through the stores with a slight ache in his chest when he sits alone for too long at the food court, but it’s just sentimentality. Who needs friends when that gorgeous coat is on sale for 50% off?)
And then sophomore year happens.
They come back from the summer and when Finn sits down in their homeroom all Kurt can think is static. Finn had gotten taller and filled out over the break. Football camp had done wonders for his arms and skin tone and Kurt forces himself to stare at the desk for the rest of the period.
Glee club and all their drama happens with a bang and Kurt finds that he could potentially have friends here. Maybe.
Then Single Ladies happens and he works up the nerve to talk to Finn. Football is like, the ultimate manly-man sport around here right?
"Oh, I’ve already got a date to prom, dude, But it’s okay, I know how importent high school dances are to teen gays."
"I’m not gay." Sharp and almost panicked.
"Oh, okay." Simple as that.
Kurt barely remembers the rest of the conversation.
He’d always known that he liked boys- he’d always figured that that was one of the reasons he hadn’t come to terms with himself for so long. He’d been a girl and liked boys so it hadn’t been an issue before. Now he knew he was really a boy and he still liked boys. Kurt wasn’t stupid- he’d read about that kid who’d gotten bashed a couple towns over last year. But was he gay? Kurt watched his ceiling fan spin lazily overhead. He was still in the body that didn’t fit, male in every way except what the people here would accept. He’s still not sure.
But, he figures, he’s got time to figure it out, right?
In the meantime he has glee club and football and potential friendships to occupy his time with. He’ll get there.