Pairing: Irishofsky pre-slash
This here’s an unofficial sequel to my let’s-all-hate-Dave-now fic, Justice. You guys suggested letting Irish bring some reason back to the world, and I live to serve you.
Rory waits for a while, wanting to making sure he’s got a good feel for the place before he actually speaks up. After all, there’s some culture shock here that he’s still getting used to. Not to mention the fact that Yanks are apparently as mad as they warned him about before he came here.
Brittany, for instance. She’s brilliant, but the girl is absolutely mental.
So when something strikes Rory as strange at McKinley he takes his time drawing conclusions. He watches, waits, tries to sort out whether it’s just him and his naïve Irish arse misinterpreting things. He does that now and then, and holding his tongue has probably done him a lot of good so far.
When it comes to David Karofsky, though, it turns out that watching and waiting only makes things worse.
Rory’s not all that big, and he’s cursed to look like he’s twelve years old at the best of times, but his da made him swear not to let a pack of half-wild American kids shut him up, and he doesn’t break promises to his da. It’s a shame, too, because he knows Kurt from the glee club, and he rather thought he liked him at first.
But Rory’s da’s words are in his head when he decides a decent person wouldn’t stand back and stay quiet anymore, and so, like him or not, he corners Kurt the moment he sees that they’re the first to arrive for rehearsal one afternoon.
“So I’ve noticed you’ve got a bit of an issue with David,” he starts, subtle as he always is.
Kurt stares for a moment like he’s trying to place the name, but his eyes get wider and he laughs. “Karofsky?”
“That’s the one. You remember, the one you interrupted first time I had a chat with him. The one you compared to a mad dog.”
Kurt frowns at him. “He’s still giving you trouble? God, I should have known bet—”
“Kurt.” Rory holds up a hand, fast. Face of a twelve year old, maybe, but he’s got his da’s temper and he knows better than to let it out all at once.
He speaks calmly. “He’s not giving me trouble. He was never giving me trouble. If you’d asked before you came around ordering him away from me, I’d’ve told you that he was just being nice.”
Kurt laughs, incredulous. “Nice.”
“Yeah. Nice. Said he could give me a few tips if I wanted to avoid that bit of slushy hazing or whatever it is.” Rory grins a little, because it helps calm his temper. “Course I told him that wasn’t going to be an issue. Your jocks here are just as easy to win over as any of the rest of you. Doesn’t even matter that I’m Irish, not English - quote a bit of Harry Potter terminology with this accent of mine and they all squeal like bloody girls.”
Kurt laughs at that, but the laughter fades and he cocks his head at Rory. “So…if he’s not bothering you…”
Rory smiles. “From what I can tell, he’s not bothering anybody. Actually, from what I can tell, you’re the one going out of your way to make his life hell.”
“I’m not…” Kurt frowns now, a little heat in his eyes suddenly. A bit of that catty temper Rory’s seen sign of once or twice now. “You didn’t know him last year, okay? Trust me, everything I do to him he earned.”
“I know all about last year,” Rory says easily. “Dave’s told me about it in all sorts of detail.”
Kurt blinks, looking surprised.
“The day after you came barking at him to leave me alone I tracked him down and tried to ask what the hell your problem was. He spent a good long time telling me about he shoved you around and dumped those slushies on everyone. Said he’d kill you, right? And stole some figurine thing or something - couldn’t figure out what he was trying to describe. Said he was so bad you left school for a bit.”
Kurt nods, his arms folding across his chest and his eyes darting back behind Rory as some of the other glee kids start coming in.
Rory pays them no mind. “So I know all about it. And I’m curious about something. Did you not fight back when he was coming after you?”
Kurt’s focus snaps back to him. He draws himself up proudly. “Of course I fought back. You have seen the size of that monster, haven’t you?”
Rory nods, thoughtful. It’s nothing he’ll tell Kurt, but he has indeed seen the size of that monster. He’s noticed a good many things about Dave.
He likes noticing things about Dave.
“He also said he tried to make up for what he did. And he’s not doing it anymore.”
Kurt hesitates, frowning. “Are you seriously going to tell me that a single apology is supposed to make up for—”
“Here’s my question,” Rory says over him. “Has he really stopped acting out? Got to admit, I’ve paid him a bit of attention lately and I’ve never seen him so much as raise his voice with you. Am I missing something?”
“No.” Kurt casts his eyes back behind Rory again, as if appealing to one of his friends for help, or diversion. Maybe just wanting to share his annoyance at the little Irish kid with someone.
Rory ignores it. He focuses on Kurt, eyebrows raised. “So he’s stopped. He’s not fighting you anymore.”
“What’s your point, Rory? My history with Karofsky is nothing you will ever understand.”
“Maybe not. But here’s what I do understand: there’s something worse than a bully who picks on someone who’s smaller than them. You know what that is?”
Kurt regards him, eyes cool. Furious, Rory can see, because he understands now that Rory is on Dave’s side. Furious that anyone is on Dave’s side.
Rory gives him a chance to answer, and then does it for him. “A bully who picks on a person who they know damn well won’t fight back. That’s worse.” He meets Kurt’s eyes, smiling mildly. “All due respect to your history with Karofsky that I’ll not ‘ever understand’, but all I see is someone who is too ashamed and guilty to even protest, much less fight back, and someone else who takes advantage of that to humiliate and hurt him at every turn. You call it what you want, mate, but I’m looking right at the biggest bully I’ve seen yet at this school.”
Kurt opens his mouth, eyes angry, but after a moment he shuts it again. The color’s draining out of his face a bit.
Rory’s too smart to think this is anything like an epiphany for Kurt - people are too quick to defend their own actions in their own heads, and after a bit of thought Kurt will no doubt be able to rationalize his cruelty away.
Nothing will change here.
Except one thing.
“Here’s something else I’ll tell you, just to give you the warning: Dave might be too ashamed of himself to fight his own battles, but I’m not. I’m planning to spend a lot more time talking with him, and if you ever come up to us the way you did that first time, and start trying to tear him a new one the way you did, you’re going to have to deal with me.”
Not much of a threat, really, but Kurt stares at him, surprised, and doesn’t answer.
Despite knowing that this really won’t change much of anything, Rory fells a hell of a lot better as he turns on his heel and marches away from Kurt.
He sees that most of the glee club is here by now, and most of them, apparently, were making a point to listen in on Kurt’s business.
Rory just smiles at them, sweet and innocent as a fourteen-faced little Irish lad can get.
Only Britt returns the smile. The rest are either gaping at him or staring back at Kurt. The tall bloke who seems to be some kind of unofficial Captain for the club, he’s staring at Rory in utter confusion. Like he had a puzzle all completed in his own mind but Rory just handed him over a whole new piece that doesn’t fit anywhere.
Rory decides he can afford to skip a rehearsal: they’re not giving the underclassmen any solos anyway, the bastards, and dramatic exits have so much more impact than dramatic returning-to-his-chair-and-sitting-downs.
He finds Dave a bit down the hall. Close, he knew Dave would be close, since he always walks Kurt out to his car after rehearsal.
He strides right up to Dave, who’s sitting on the floor next to the mostly empty football team trophy case, staring into space.
“Did you know Descartes was an Irishman?” he asks cheerfully as he gets closer.
Dave blinks over slowly, and seems surprised to realize that Rory’s talking to him. He sits up. “What?”
“Descartes. The philosopher bloke. Everyone thinks he’s French, but I happen to know on good authority that he spent some time in County Cork as a lad. Which is enough to make him one of us.”
He’s talking right out of his arse, of course, but it’s a conversation starter.
Dave just stares at him for a minute, tense and wary like he always seems to be. “Yeah, I may look like an idiot jock but I actually took Philosophy last year, and—”
“So you know already. Sorry. Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is I’ve been thinking about that thing he’s most famous for saying.” He hesitates, cueing Dave with a smile.
Dave returns it after a moment, but it’s small and fragile, like it’s ready to run off the moment Rory gives it reason to. And hell, this is a guy who’s lost all trust in people. Rory can tell, and it’s bloody well depressing.
“‘I think, therefore I am,’” Dave answers obediently. “That thing?”
“Right!” Rory moves up to him and crouches down, grinning at the surprise in Dave’s eyes. “See, thinking about him as a Frenchmen, everyone turns that saying into some existential nonsense about how the ability to reason validates our existence, or some idiot thing like that. But since I know better, I come at it like an Irishman.”
Dave’s eyes go behind Rory, towards the choir room down the hall, and back to him uncertainly when he’s satisfied there’s no one else coming.
It’s hard to keep up the smile, but Rory is nothing if not determined. He speaks intently, locking his gaze on Dave steadily. “The actual longer form of that original quote’s a bit different. I’m paraphrasing here, mind, but it’s something like, ‘Let others try to deceive me as they will, they will never make it true that I am nothing, so long as I think that I am something.’”
Dave searches his face, brow furrowed.
Rory smiles, hopefully less sadly than he’s feeling. “For some reason I think about that every time I see you.”
“Me?” Dave frowns.
Rory leans in and touches his knee lightly. “They can never turn you into nothing,” he says, serious. “Not if you think you’re something.”
Dave’s throat works, but he shakes his head. There’s a look in his eyes, the same look Rory saw when Dave first told him about the bullying the year before.
He speaks up fast, before Dave can put more of his low-self-esteem nonsense out there. “If you can’t think it yet, I will. I’ll teach you how.”
Dave snorts softly. “Good luck with that.”
“Don’t worry.” Rory drops to his arse in the middle of the hallway, crossing his legs under him and smiling at Dave like they’re real friends just having a casual chat. “I’m very persuasive. The accent, you know. Makes everything sound so much more intelligent and worldly.”
Dave hesitates, but offers a wary smile in return. “Kinda just makes me hungry for Lucky Charms, dude.”
Rory laughs. “Well, that’s a start, isn’t it?”
Dave meets his eyes, smiling but still wary. Still expecting a knife in the back. “Yeah. Maybe it is,” he answers, and despite the wariness in his eyes he seems to mean it.