“Down that hallway are all the science classrooms. Biology, physics, chemistry lab. You have chemistry this semester, don’t you?”
Kurt nodded dumbly, his wide, awestruck eyes following Blaine’s gaze down the hallway he’d indicated. It was wide and ornate and lined with rich dark wooden accents – and absolutely identical to every other hallway in every other building that Blaine had shown him on the enormous, overwhelming, intimidating Dalton Academy campus. And Kurt had more than one class in each of those buildings. He was certain that, despite Blaine’s generous offer of a complete guided tour, he was sure to get lost at some point during his first day.
Which was the next day.
Oh, God. I am so screwed.
“And… the science hall looks just exactly the same to you as the last four halls I’ve shown you. Doesn’t it?”
When Kurt turned his wide, lost gaze on Blaine’s face, the older boy was giving him a warm, sympathetic smile. Kurt let his attempt at false confidence fall away and simply nodded with a rueful little grimace.
“I’m so confused,” he confessed. “I’m sorry. I know you’re trying to help, but…”
“Let’s just forget about it for now, okay?” Blaine generously suggested. “If you do get lost tomorrow, it’s not like anyone here is gonna bite your head off for asking for directions.”
Kurt sighed. “I know. It’s just… I’d rather not look like a helpless, clueless loser on my first day…”
“I have a couple of classes close to yours. I’ll try to check in on you in between,” Blaine offered with a little wink, nudging Kurt’s shoulder with his as they stopped near the end of the hall.
“Thanks,” Kurt replied with a shy, grateful smile, his eyes darting self-consciously away from Blaine’s. “I just… wish I could keep it all straight in my head…”
Blaine shrugged. “It’s like staying up all night and cramming for a big exam. Fill your head with too much information, and none of it makes sense anymore when you really need it.”
“So… the tour is over?” Kurt hated how hopeful he sounded.
Blaine nodded with a soft, affectionate laugh. “Yeah.” He paused, his smile fading a little, becoming thoughtful and speculative. “There’s just… one last thing I’d like to show you, if you have a few minutes…”
Kurt’s heart sank. He wasn’t particularly excited about the prospect of one more unfamiliar thing to file away with the other important things to remember for the next morning. He was pretty sure his brain already had all it could hold. Still, he hadn’t quite figured out how to tell Blaine no yet, so he forced a brave smile and nodded, following Blaine back in the direction they had come, toward the exit.
“It needs to be pretty quick, though,” Kurt reminded him as they stepped out into the brisk winter air, and he pulled his coat tighter around him, ducking his head so that his face was partially hidden behind the soft, grey scarf he was wearing. “I have that appointment with your music director in half an hour…”
Kurt shivered, as much with nervousness as from the cold, as his own words reminded him of the fairly intimidating task he faced. Classes didn’t start until the next day, but auditions for the prospective Warblers had been going on all week. The Warblers were governed directly by a council made up of upper class members, but Dalton Academy had a music director who made all the major decisions regarding the music department – such as who would be allowed to join the Warblers for any given semester.
“Don’t worry,” Blaine assured him with a smile. “His office is where we’re going – in the electives building. What I want to show you is literally on the way.”
“I hope he likes me,” Kurt said softly. “I mean… my voice. It’s just… if I don’t make it…”
But Blaine didn’t hear him, as he was rushing up the steps ahead of them to gallantly open the door for Kurt. Kurt felt a warm blush creep over his face and suddenly found himself unable to remember what he had been talking about. He couldn’t quite suppress a slightly giddy smile at the gesture as he slipped past Blaine into the warm quiet of the darkened, mostly empty building.
“Come on,” Blaine urged him, beckoning with one hand as he quickened his pace and led the way down the dimly lit hallway. “It’s just a little farther…”
Kurt hurried his steps to keep up as Blaine disappeared into an empty doorway – then stumbled to an abrupt stop right behind him. Blaine reached out a steadying hand to catch him before he could trip, laughing as he stepped to the side and made room for Kurt to enter. Catching his breath, Kurt gave his surroundings a dubious perusal.
“… just an empty classroom,” Blaine supplied with a smile. “Right? I know.” As he spoke, he flipped a switch on the wall down, while flipping the one beside it up – and instantly the room was transformed. Kurt could hear the smirk in Blaine’s voice, though he could no longer see his face, as he concluded smugly, “Or not.”
Kurt drew in his breath sharply, his eyes slowly adjusting to the sudden darkness, broken only by what seemed to be thousands of tiny pinpoints of light glittering in the ceiling. As his vision came into focus again, he could make out the shapes of several constellations in the “starlight” above. Blaine’s voice close beside him, hushed and secretive, nevertheless still made him jump.
“It’s our astronomy classroom,” he explained softly. “Blacked out windows. Specially lighted ceiling… to make it easier to study the stars.”
Kurt was silent for a moment, simply breathing in the deep sense of stillness that surrounded them as he gazed up at the ceiling. Then, his attention was immediately distracted by the soft, firm feeling of Blaine’s hand closing around his – Blaine’s hand at his waist, guiding him a couple of steps backward until he was standing against the wall.
Kurt let out a soft, shuddering breath, his skin prickling with the almost-contact of Blaine’s body, so close to his but not quite touching, and he swallowed hard, his mouth dry and his heart racing.
“I… I don’t have astronomy this year. I have… chemistry, and… geography, which is… kinda like astronomy, with the… maps and stuff, but… but you know… countries, not… stars, but… I don’t actually have any classes… in this room…” he stammered out in a hoarse whisper, his lips simply pouring out the first random observations that sprang to mind.
Kurt cringed immediately, glad that the darkness hid the hot flush of embarrassment he felt at his own inane ramblings. A moment later, however, he felt the soft, slightly callused heat of Blaine’s fingers tracing along his jaw line, and fell silent, closing his eyes as the soft puff of warm air he felt against his face told him just how very close Blaine was standing to him now, as Blaine answered with a whisper of amused affection.
“So… you wanted to… to show me this room, because…?”
Kurt’s voice trailed off, waiting for Blaine to supply the answer, and he felt the heat in his face intensify as the moments of silence dragged on between them. His heart raced, and he felt the need to fill the silence, as his mind filled with panicked speculations.
Maybe you misunderstood. Maybe this isn’t what it looks like. Why would Blaine be interested in you? Perfect, confident, popular Blaine, who could have anyone he wanted in this entire school? And he’s still not saying anything. Why isn’t he saying anything? Okay, then, quick – you say something…
“… because… you have a class here?”
Oh, God, Kurt, are you physically incapable of shutting up?
Kurt didn’t know how it was possible that Blaine’s warm, rich chuckle made him feel both further humiliated and reassured at the same time – but it did. Blaine’s hand at his waist slid gently around behind him, pulling him slightly forward, as Blaine shook his head, so close that Kurt felt rather than saw the movement.
“No,” Blaine whispered. “I brought you here, so I could… do this…”
Kurt’s lips parted to question further, but before he could speak, Blaine’s had captured them in a warm, tender kiss – slow and tentative and almost chaste – everything that Kurt had imagined his first kiss would be.
But this isn’t the first…
No. Don’t think about that. Don’t think, period – not while this is happening. And… God, this is really happening… isn’t it? Blaine is really… really… good at this… and… you’re probably not. You probably suck at this, because you’ve never really done it before. How many times has he done this? He’s pretty awesome at it, so… probably…
No. Stop. Don’t think, just…
Kurt tentatively raised one hand to rest at the back of Blaine’s neck, massaging lightly through the soft dark curls there, and Blaine responded by deepening the kiss, pressing in nearer to Kurt, one hand slipping up under his shirt behind him, the other rising to cup the back of his head and pull him in closer as his tongue cautiously traced the slight gap between Kurt’s parted, trembling lips.
Kurt allowed his head to fall back against Blaine’s hand, his mouth opening to grant Blaine entrance as he slid his arms around the older boy’s waist, allowing him to set the pace. When at last Blaine withdrew, Kurt was breathless and light-headed, yet found himself following forward with a choked little whimper, wordlessly pleading for more.
“God, Kurt, you’re so amazing… so… so gorgeous…”
Blaine’s whispered words against his ear sent a shiver down Kurt’s spine… or maybe it was his gentle fingertips, sliding up his back so, so softly, teasing and suggestive, yet cautious and tentative. Kurt struggled to control his voice, though he couldn’t quite keep a slight tremor from his words as he answered with a hushed, breathless little laugh.
“You… c-can’t even see me…”
“I can’t stop seeing you,” Blaine argued, his voice low and enticing, punctuated with a slow, languid kiss against the side of Kurt’s neck. “Can’t stop… thinking about you…” Kurt felt Blaine’s hand at the back of his neck, gently tugging forward to tilt his head back slightly as he confessed softly, “I’ve wanted to do this for so long…”
Kurt had wanted this, too – since the moment when Blaine had opened his mouth to sing “Teenage Dream” during his own ill-fated spying endeavor. Blaine was everything he’d ever wanted, and everything he’d ever wanted to be, all wrapped up together in one single, incredibly visually appealing package. He’d imagined this moment so many times, in so many different settings – what it would be like for Blaine to be kissing him, touching him, wanting him.
He had just never imagined that it would actually happen.
Blaine’s hands stilled abruptly, drawing Kurt’s attention away from his heady, delirious thoughts; and though he couldn’t see his face, Kurt could hear in his words the solemn concern that had to be written in his expression.
“Is this… what you want, Kurt? Is this okay?” Cautious fingertips caressed tenderly down the side of Kurt’s face, and he closed his eyes automatically, his breath quickening with desire that was only deepened by Blaine’s reassuring words. “I don’t want to do anything that you don’t want…”
Without any trace of hesitation, Kurt gave a little nod, a soft, shuddering breath falling from his lips as they parted to respond.
Yes, yes, of course I want this… want you… yes…
Before Kurt could speak, however, his vision was assailed by a sudden wall of bright light, and he flinched back a little, his eyes automatically closing against the almost painful intrusion. Blaine stepped back a little too, his hands immediately abandoning their previous pursuits, and Kurt intensely felt the loss of contact, disappointment settling heavy in the pit of his stomach as he blinked into the light, waiting for his eyes to adjust so that he could see what had happened.
Before he saw the intruder, he heard his voice – light and melodic with unmistakable amusement.
“Oh, there you are. I thought I heard something…”
Blaine cleared his throat, sounding more amused than embarrassed. “Sorry, Mr. Lambert. We didn’t mean to disturb you…”
“Mr. Lambert?” Kurt squeaked, eyes wide and horrified as they finally came into focus on Blaine’s inexplicably grinning face. He turned his gaze back toward the man standing in the doorway, his hand still idly resting on the light switch panel, with new, awful realization. He suddenly felt sick. “M-Mr. Lambert… I… I’m sorry, I… I didn’t mean to…”
Around the moment when Kurt realized that he had absolutely no valid, convincing explanation for what Dalton’s esteemed musical director had just caught his newest prospective student doing, Blaine mercifully interjected.
“Kurt… relax,” he assured him, meeting Kurt’s fearful, confused eyes with a comforting nod. “He’s cool.”
Kurt raised an eyebrow at Blaine, not quite sure that he hadn’t just lost his mind, casting his dubious gaze between Blaine and Mr. Lambert, uncertain.
To his relief, Kurt noticed that Mr. Lambert did seem more amused than angry at what he’d found. His smile was warm and reassuring, his dramatically black-lined eyes crinkled at the corners with suppressed laughter. He was nothing like Kurt had expected, despite Blaine’s description of the controversial and somewhat eccentric musical genius that ran Dalton’s music department. His black, metal-studded jacket and feathered black fedora seemed dramatically out of place in comparison with the Dalton uniforms that he and Blaine both wore.
As Kurt stood there helplessly trying to figure out what to do or say, Mr. Lambert stepped forward, his head tilted slightly as he met Kurt’s eyes with a sympathetic smile and extended his hand.
“You must be Kurt Hummel.” He nodded in response to Kurt’s dumbstruck nod, taking the trembling hand that Kurt barely had the presence of mind to offer and shaking it firmly. “Adam Lambert. I believe we have an appointment?”
Adam was impressed to find that, despite his obvious terror, Kurt Hummel had a nice, firm handshake. His hand was trembling a little, and his eyes were impossibly large, unblinking, and a convulsive swallow was visible in his throat as he struggled to find words.
“M-Mr. Lambert, I… it’s nice to… I mean… I’m pleased to meet you. Sir.”
Adam offered him a warm smile, squeezing his hand gently before letting it go. He imagined that he would have been just as scared at Kurt’s age, if he’d been caught making out with another boy in an empty classroom at school – and he probably wouldn’t have been brave enough at that point to stand there and shake the teacher’s hand afterwards, trying to pretend as if nothing had happened.
Of course, Adam had come a long way since his shy, awkward high school phase.
Blaine cleared his throat awkwardly, drawing Kurt’s attention – and Adam’s, too, if a bit more reluctantly. Kurt turned away from Adam and toward Blaine, immediately attentive. Blaine sidled closer to Kurt, eyes lowered as he reached out to take Kurt’s hand, giving it a little squeeze before letting go again and looking up with a teasing, flirtatious smile.
“I’ll see you later, okay? Let me know how it goes.”
Kurt nodded with a shy smile, a faint blush creeping across his face.
“Mr. Lambert.” Blaine smiled politely up at Adam. “I’ll see you at my lesson on Tuesday.”
Adam silently nodded as Blaine slipped past them both toward the door, casting a disapproving look at Blaine’s departing form. Adam turned back toward Kurt, and felt an uneasy sensation in the pit of his stomach as he watched Kurt watch Blaine walk away. The expression on Kurt’s face was painfully familiar.
Kurt’s eyes were incredibly expressive, and there was no mistaking the adoration in them as he watched Blaine’s exit, oblivious to the fact that he was being watched, as well. Adam cleared his throat to subtly regain the boy’s attention. It took Kurt a moment to pull his gaze away from Blaine’s retreating form, but he finally looked up at Adam, blinking distractedly.
“I… I’m sorry. Our… our appointment. Yes. Right.”
Adam stifled a sigh, forcing a warm smile instead. His irritation with Blaine was no reason for him to make Kurt feel even more nervous than he obviously already did. No, right now, Adam needed to do everything he could to put the boy at ease.
“Yes. And, oh look…” Adam lifted Kurt’s wrist to peer at his wristwatch – a rather striking gold Hermes number – smiling and giving the boy a wink as he let go of his wrist and concluded, “… you’re right on time.”
Kurt abruptly drew his wrist back in front of him with a shaky little intake of breath, unconsciously circling it with his other hand as he let out a soft, nervous laugh. Adam was surprised to see how flustered he appeared to be, by nothing more than that simple, casual contact.
He thought back to what he’d read in his newest student’s file – how the sole reason for his transfer was the fact that he’d been mercilessly harassed at his last school, just because of his sexuality – and felt a pang of sympathy for the shy, self-conscious boy who seemed so thoroughly out of his depth here. Adam had dealt with his fair share of bullying during his high school career, so he could relate to what Kurt had recently been through.
Of course, Adam had been built like a linebacker, while Kurt was built like… some kind of fragile, delicate woodland creature. His lithe dancer’s frame might have served him well in his old glee club, but it certainly didn’t do him any favors when it came to self-defense against jocks three times his size.
“Come on.” Adam nodded toward the door, leading the way out into the hall. “My office is this way.”
Adam had been on his way to his office when he’d heard the sound of hushed voices coming from the astronomy classroom. It was Saturday, and his appointment with Kurt was his only one for the day – and he hadn’t even had time to get to his office door before stumbling upon his newest student and his would-be suitor, Blaine, pulling out all the stops in the one place on the whole of Dalton’s campus that might be considered “romantic”.
Little prick doesn’t waste any time, does he?
Adam did his best to put his moody, pensive thoughts aside as he unlocked the door to his office, then stepped aside, holding it open and gesturing for Kurt to go ahead of him. Once he’d closed the door behind them, he motioned for Kurt to take the seat across from his desk, before moving around the desk to sit down.
“Now, I don’t want you to be nervous, Kurt, okay?” Adam smiled, meeting the boy’s eyes across the desk, trying his best to put him at ease. “You’ve got your music, right?”
Kurt nodded, his eyes huge and frightened, his expression utterly solemn, as he took a disk in a clear plastic case from his pocket and held it out across the desk. Adam took it and put it into his CD player, after sneaking a glance at the title scrawled across the CD in pretty, purple cursive. He forcibly suppressed his grimace of distaste.
My Heart Will Go On?
“So just… tell me when you’re ready, and I’ll start the music, and just sing as if I wasn’t even here, all right? Just pretend like it’s nothing more than another practice.”
“O-okay,” Kurt replied, his voice faint and breathless. “Okay, I… I’m ready…”
Adam fought the impulse to ask whether or not he was sure. The kid sounded ready to hyperventilate or pass out, more than ready to sing for a spot in one of the most prestigious high school singing groups in the region. But Adam was fairly certain that asking would only serve to amplify Kurt’s nerves, so he just nodded and pressed play.
He forced his features into a practiced expression of neutrality during the nauseatingly familiar instrumental introduction, closing his eyes and tapping his fingertips lightly on the surface of his desk in time with the music. He hoped not only to be able to better focus on Kurt’s vocals without looking at him, but also that it might soothe the boy’s nerves to know that Adam was not looking at him while he sang.
Wait… is this in the original key? The one Celine Dion used? Adam frowned slightly, puzzled, lips parted to speak. That can’t be right. Better stop him before he throws himself right out of…
The thought came to a sudden halt as the first clear, sweet notes fell from Kurt’s lips. Adam forgot himself momentarily, his eyes opening abruptly to stare at the boy as his voice soared upward approaching the first chorus. It didn’t matter, though, because Kurt’s eyes were closed, lost in the music as it poured forth from him with effortless precision. Unfortunately, he was accompanying the rich, warm melody with dramatic hand gestures that Adam would have to talk to him about later, because they were a little over the top, but…
But that didn’t really matter – not when the kid had a voice like that.
Adam closed his eyes again, unable to stop the smile of pure pleasure that rose to his lips as Kurt went into the second verse, increasing the power and projection of his vocals, exhibiting remarkable control for such a young vocalist. Adam felt a prickling little shiver go through him as Kurt hit the song’s climax with a sweet, warm falsetto that flawlessly landed every note, not only with accuracy but with an emotional intensity that seemed far beyond his years.
The music faded out, and the only sound for a long moment was the harsh, heavy breathing of the young man standing before Adam, waiting for him to pass judgment. Adam swallowed hard, studying Kurt closely. His eyes were still shut tight, and he was trembling, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. When Adam remained silent, he finally opened his eyes, apprehension clear in his anxious, questioning gaze.
“Well, sit down before you pass out,” Adam directed at last with a little laugh, hoping to break the tension – but Kurt flinched slightly as he obeyed, sitting down and leaning forward, his legs primly crossed. Adam was quiet for a moment before asking softly, “How long have you been singing, Kurt?”
Kurt hesitated, shaking his head a little as he tried to form a response, then replied at last, a little tremor of excitement in his voice, “Almost as long as I’ve been breathing, Mr. Lambert.” He punctuated his response with an emphatic motion of his hand before seeming to realize that his gestures betrayed his nerves, and instead opting to fold his hands together on the edge of the desk. He leaned forward, meeting Adam’s eyes with a serious, earnest gaze. “Mr. Lambert… music is my entire life… please…”
Adam held up a halting hand, shaking his head slightly with a little grimace. “I’m sorry. I guess I should have phrased that differently. What I really wanted to know was about your experience singing in front of people. What was the first time you ever performed?”
“Oh.” Kurt’s eyes widened, and he ducked his head, his face flaming with embarrassment. “I… I’m sorry, I should have… should have guessed…”
Adam leaned forward, reaching out a hand to gently touch the boy’s wrist. Kurt flinched slightly at the contact, his wide eyes darting up to fasten onto Adam’s in solemn, fearful question as his rambling apology came to an abrupt halt. He bit down on the side of his lip in clear uncertainty, and Adam could feel him trembling under his hand.
The poor kid was clearly scared out of his mind.
“Relax,” Adam advised him gently with a reassuring smile. “All right? That was… wonderful. You have a very beautiful voice.”
Kurt looked away and shook his head slightly, a disapproving grimace twisting his features. “My pitch was all over the place…”
Adam gave him a gently teasing little smirk, trying to catch his eye again. “Yeah, well, that tends to happen when you’re on the verge of panic…”
Kurt didn’t even seem to register the joke. “… and my vibrato was out of control. It’s usually better than that, I promise.” He looked back up at Adam anxiously. “I can work on that, I really can. I can do better…”
Adam gave up on the idea of convincing Kurt that he’d just given what was possibly the best audition Adam had ever witnessed at this school, leaning back in his chair and responding mildly, “Well, there’ll be plenty of time for us to work on those things…”
Kurt suddenly went still, staring at Adam, opening and closing his mouth for a moment as he tried to find his words, and finally managed to stammer out, “You mean… really? I’m in? I’m a Warbler?”
Adam nodded, his smile widening at the clear elation on Kurt’s face. “You are,” he assured him. “And our first practice will be on Tuesday. But that wasn’t what I was talking about, actually.”
Kurt frowned, shaking his head slightly in confusion, obviously struggling to focus on whatever Adam was talking about that was apparently unrelated to what his mind wanted to dwell on at the moment – the fact that he’d made it and was officially in the Warblers now.
“See, I don’t actually direct the Warblers. I just advise them if they run into any problems, approve their set lists, things like that. I just… I think your voice is amazing, Kurt,” Adam confessed finally, seeing no reason to beat around the bush. “I think you have incredible potential, and I’ve worked with some of the best soloists in the state, helping them to become even better. I noticed it’s not in your curriculum, but I’d really like to give you private voice lessons.”
Kurt’s face fell a little, and he leaned back in his seat, pulling his folded hands back to rest them on his knees before looking up to meet Adam’s eyes. “It’s all my parents can do to afford to send me here at all,” he admitted bluntly. “I… I’d love to have private lessons, but there’s no way we can afford them.”
Adam was surprised and impressed with Kurt’s honesty. He’d only just met him, but Kurt seemed like the type of person who was very concerned with how others saw him, and strove to present the best possible image at all times. Adam imagined that it had cost him quite a bit to admit that his family was financially inferior to most of the other boys here. He considered for a moment, then made a quick decision.
Someone with Kurt’s talent deserved every chance he could get.
“I’ll give them to you on my own time,” Adam offered.
Kurt blinked, startled. “What?” He shook his head. “Why would you…?”
“Like I said,” Adam cut him off firmly, holding his gaze intently, “you have amazing potential, Kurt. And I’d just hate to see that wasted. I would really like to work with you, if you’ll let me. So… will you?”
Kurt hesitated just a moment before nodding, the gesture somehow managing to be both eager and shy at the same time. “O-okay…”
“How do Wednesdays at 5:30 sound?” Adam suggested.
“Yes,” Kurt agreed slowly, looking up at the ceiling as he recalled his own schedule, his voice rising slightly with his excitement as he continued, “Yes. That would be perfect. Thank you so much! Thank you! I can’t tell you how… I mean… I’ve wanted this for… just…thank you.”
Adam nodded, rising from his seat and taking Kurt’s CD out of the player, handing it back to him as he came around the desk. Kurt took the cue and stood up as well, turning toward the door. Adam reached out a hand to rest on his shoulder for a moment, meaning to catch his attention before he could leave.
Kurt drew in a startled gasp, turning quickly to face him with a little flinch, his eyes wide and apprehensive. He bit his lower lip again, as if to stifle his own reaction, looking up at Adam uncertainly. Adam could feel his shoulder trembling under his hand.
He’s not used to being touched – at least not in any way he’d welcome, Adam realized with concern. God, he looks so terrified… so vulnerable… with those doe eyes, and the way he’s shaking, and… the way his mouth is trembling like that… and he’s… wow, really pretty, actually…
Stop. Stop right there, Lambert. This kid is sixteen, and your student. This present line of thinking is sooo inappropriate.
Kurt was still waiting, looking up at Adam expectantly, and Adam remembered that he’d stopped him for a reason – and he’d better remember what that reason was, before Kurt began to think he’d lost his mind.
“You deserve it. You should know that,” Adam concluded finally, meeting Kurt’s eyes and giving him an encouraging nod. “All I’m giving you is a shot – and it’s a shot you’ve earned. All right?”
Kurt’s mouth curved up into a soft, shy smile, though he was still biting his lower lip.
That pouty, feminine mouth… Stop it, Adam. Back away from the pretty, underage boy, now.
Kurt nodded hesitantly, his eyes shining with excitement. “Thank you,” he repeated softly. “I… I’ll see you later.” Kurt’s face broke out into an elated smile, his eyes taking on a new light that Adam found distinctly troubling as he added, “I’ve gotta go find Blaine and tell him! This is… so amazing! Thank you so much, Mr. Lambert!”
Adam watched him go with a smile that faded as the boy disappeared down the hall, his troubled thoughts closing in on him once again.
Something tells me he doesn’t know what he’s getting into…
Adam retreated back into his office, sitting down and burying his head in his hands with a sigh.
… and neither do you.
Despite his fears, Kurt made it through his first day without getting lost.
He remembered where all the classrooms were that Blaine had shown him over the weekend, and made it to each one on time. When Blaine found him just before lunch and asked how he was doing, and if he had any questions, Kurt was rather pleased with himself and proud to be able to tell the older boy that he hadn’t had any trouble.
His confidence was high – and Blaine had apparently found it sexy, because he’d grabbed Kurt by the hand and pulled him off into a deserted corner under the stairs for a brief but utterly hot little make-out session. Kurt didn’t know whether it was the slight risk of getting caught, or the fact that Blaine really was just that exceptional a kisser – after all, he didn’t have much of a frame of reference when it came to making out with boys – but it was unbelievably hot.
Kurt’s first day concluded with him and Blaine alone in his room, picking up where they’d left off under the stairs, when the bell had signaled the end of lunch period – and Kurt couldn’t imagine a better way for a day to end.
His second day didn’t go nearly so well.
He had several classes on the second day that he didn’t have on the first, and by four minutes before third period, he was on the verge of panic. He had no idea where his Beginning Economics class was supposed to be, or even whether or not he was in the right building.
In fact, he was pretty sure he was in the wrong place altogether.
When Kurt spun around, startled, to see Mr. Lambert standing behind him, he was sure that he was even more lost than he’d realized. There was no way that Beginning Economics was being held in the “Arts and Electives” building.
“Hi, Mr. Lambert,” he replied politely, though he was quite distracted, glancing around at the numbered doorways that lined the hall, none of which seemed to bear the right number.
“What can I help you find?”
Kurt blinked, looking back at Mr. Lambert, surprised by his gentle offer. There was warmth and sympathy in the teacher’s eyes as he reached for the class schedule clutched tightly in Kurt’s trembling hands, raising his eyebrows in a silent question and waiting for Kurt’s nod of permission before taking it from Kurt’s hands.
“Okay, you want the mathematics and sciences building. Just go out the main entrance – back down this hallway…” Mr. Lambert pointed, waiting until he knew Kurt was following him before going on, “and then when you go outside, just turn to your right, and go into the first building you see. Room 402 is the first door on your right.” His warm smile widened, and he gave Kurt a reassuring wink. “If you run, you’ll still make it before the bell.”
“Thank you,” Kurt replied with complete sincerity, letting out a heavy sigh of relief before hurrying down the hall in the way he’d come.
“And Kurt,” Mr. Lambert called after him, causing Kurt to spin around to face him, while still moving backwards down the hall. “Don’t forget our lesson tomorrow. Five-thirty!”
Kurt nodded, calling out, “Yes, sir!” and rushing toward the door.
He had almost reached it when one of his classmates – Peter? Perry? – fell into step with him, a teasing grin on his face. “Having trouble, new kid?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kurt haughtily replied – but the hot blush he could feel in his face gave him away, he knew, so he just rolled his eyes and smiled ruefully, amending, “Except that I do. Yeah, I still can’t figure out this campus. All the buildings look the same.” As he spoke, he managed to sneak a glance at the cover of the binder in the other boy’s hands, noting the name printed in the top right corner.
Terry. Good thing you didn’t try using it; you were way off.
“Good thing Mr. Lambert was around to save the day,” Terry laughed. “He’s pretty cool. Weird, but cool. Not like most other teachers, you know?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Kurt glanced at Terry out of the corner of his eye as they entered the math and science building and slipped into the right classroom, with two minutes to spare. Terry was slim and slight, if a bit more muscular than him – with soft features and a shock of dark, unruly hair that immediately made Kurt’s mind go to Blaine – again.
Went almost ten minutes that time. Might be an impressive record if it wasn’t because you were horribly lost and had no stray thoughts to spare.
Terry was right. Kurt was just really lucky that Mr. Lambert happened to be around at the moment when he’d needed a little guidance. As he and Terry slid into the two remaining empty seats in the room, at the back and next to each other, Kurt ventured a thoughtful question, not really expecting much of an answer.
“What’s his deal, anyway?”
“Mr. Lambert?” Terry clarified with a slight frown. “What do you mean?”
Kurt paused, considering, then gave a little shrug. “He just seems so…”
“Weird?” Terry guessed with a quiet snort of amusement.
Kurt remained pensive and thoughtful. “I was going to say… interesting.”
“He’s different, all right,” Terry conceded with a little shrug.
Kurt considered that for a moment, thinking back to his first Warblers’ practice the day before, and how swiftly they had shut down any suggestion that even hinted at a trace of nonconformity to their rigid, pre-established ways of doing things. He remembered the speech Blaine had given him about the uniforms, and how they meant more than just an embarrassingly easy way out of making any intelligent fashion choices.
“That’s unusual,” he observed, more to himself than to Terry. “Considering… well, considering that’s something that seems to be frowned upon here.”
“Well…” Terry glanced toward the clock at the front of the room, but their teacher hadn’t shown up yet, so he leaned sideways across the aisle, his voice lowering to a hushed, conspiratorial tone. “… Mr. Lambert’s differences aren’t exactly approved of, either.”
Kurt frowned, leaning across the aisle a bit as well, and matching Terry’s tone, his interest piqued. He knew good gossip when he heard it. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, this is my first year here, and I hear he’s been called before Dalton’s disciplinary board twice already!” Terry informed him.
Kurt’s eyes widened in surprise. “Why?”
“Because when it comes to teaching, he doesn’t really care about Dalton’s traditions,” Terry explained. “He’s got some kind of unorthodox methods, and he doesn’t really care what Dalton’s board of directors thinks about that. I heard there’ve been other disciplinary incidents, like… before I came here. Not sure what exactly they were about, though.”
Kurt frowned, surprised and a little confused by what he was hearing. Yeah, Mr. Lambert liked to dress a little weird (by Dalton’s standards; by Kurt’s standards, he looked pretty awesome), and seemed like the type who liked to do things his own way, but that was no reason to formally discipline a teacher, was it? Kurt’s thoughts turned back to his first Warblers’ practice, and the way everyone had reacted to a few simple suggestions that they do things differently.
Yeah… here at Dalton, maybe that is enough reason…
“So… even though he’s gotten all these write-ups or whatever… he’s still here?” Kurt raised a single eyebrow incredulously, waiting for Terry’s response.
“Of course he is,” Terry smirked.
“Because, Kurt, he really is just that good,” Terry explained with a gleeful grin. “I mean, the guy could murder a puppy in front of his entire class full of witnesses, and they’d definitely reprimand him, maybe even suspend him…”
“I would hope so…” Kurt grimaced with dismay at the horrifying mental images conjured up by Terry’s sadistically vivid imagination.
“… but in the end, they’d find a reason to keep him,” Terry continued. “You know why?”
Kurt shook his head, showing only mild interest in his expression – because by this point, he knew that Terri would go on, regardless of his reaction.
“Because in the seven years before he took over the music department here, Dalton lost at sectionals every single time. And in the four years since he’s been here – we’ve taken first place at both sectionals and regionals every year – and placed at nationals twice.” Terry shook his head slowly, clearly in awe, even though he already knew the rather impressive story he was reciting by heart. “Yeah, they might disapprove of some of his methods, and some of the board might dislike him, but they know better than to actually let him go.” Terry turned in his seat as the teacher came into the room, adding in a hushed voice, “Mr. Lambert would have to do something pretty damn unforgivable to actually get fired from this place.”
Kurt considered the rather amazing credentials Terry had attributed to Mr. Lambert, a little awed and suddenly more than a little excited for his voice lesson the following day. He frowned, curious, whispering across the aisle to Terry, wanting more information.
“So… what kind of… unorthodox methods…?”
“Shh…” Terry muttered as the teacher stood at the front of the room, tapping his ruler on the desk to call his chattering students to order. “Tell you later.”
But when class was dismissed an hour later, Kurt saw Blaine in the hall, waiting near the door, and suddenly forgot all about the questions he’d had for Terry. He made his way out into the hall to meet his new boyfriend – his first boyfriend – excited for the rest of the semester ahead of him, and all the other glorious “firsts” that it would bring.
“I’m so sorry I’m late, Mr. Lambert! I was just… running late, and then I went into the wrong building by mistake, and it took me like ten minutes to realize that, and I’m really, really sorry…”
“Kurt… Kurt…” Adam held up a halting hand, struggling not to show his amusement at the boy’s breathless, rambling apologies. “It’s okay. First time. Everybody’s allowed a little bit of a grace period for their first time, right?”
Kurt’s chest was heaving slightly as he tried to catch his breath, but he gave his teacher a dubious look, a single eyebrow raised. “I was thirty seconds late to French class this morning. My teacher docked me a letter grade on the pop quiz he gave twenty minutes later.”
Adam waved a dismissive hand, a teasing smirk on his lips. “Well, that doesn’t count. The guy gave a pop quiz on the first day of class. Do you really think you stood a chance, anyway?”
Kurt was apparently not amused by Adam’s little joke. His tone was haughty, pointed, as he retorted, “I am highly fluent in French, and I got an A on the quiz.” At Adam’s dubious look, Kurt sighed, his shoulders falling as he amended unhappily, “Well, I would have. It’s a B now.”
“The horror!” Adam gasped, meeting Kurt’s eyes with a teasing smirk, hoping to get the kid to crack a smile.
And finally, it seemed to work, as Kurt sank down into the chair across from Adam’s desk, trying to hide the momentary upward quirk of his lips behind a little cough and clearing of his throat. But as he took a closer look at his wayward student, however, Adam’s own smile faded with understanding.
Kurt’s uniform was slightly askew, his jacket unbuttoned and one side of his shirt untucked. His tie was a little crooked and wrinkled near the knot, and his hair was disheveled, barely resembling the flawlessly neat style Kurt had worn every other time Adam had seen him. His face was flushed and he was just beginning to catch his breath.
All the signs were there; Adam didn’t know how he’d missed it. Kurt’s story about why he was late was an outright lie. He hadn’t spent the last thirty minutes wandering around lost and desperately trying to get to Adam’s office.
He had spent the last thirty minutes in the midst of a heated make-out session.
With Blaine Anderson. Has to be. This kid doesn’t seem like the type to be giving it up to just anyone, and he’s obviously really got a thing for Blaine.
Which was really unfortunate.
Adam didn’t know Kurt very well yet, but he knew that he liked this kid, and he hated to think of him getting hurt.
Mind your own business. It didn’t do any good last time, did it? Whatever will happen, will happen – and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. In fact, last time, all you did was make it worse.
No, the best thing that you can do is to just stay out of it.
“So… the first thing I want you to do is to sing your audition song for me again.”
Kurt stared at Mr. Lambert, frowning in confusion. “Really?”
Once the haze of blind terror had passed in the wake of his successful audition, and Kurt had thought back over the entire encounter, he’d been pretty sure that it had been annoyance that he’d seen pass over the teacher’s face when he’d announced the Celine Dion selection as his audition piece. He couldn’t really imagine that Mr. Lambert would want him to sing it again.
Mr. Lambert nodded, giving him an encouraging smile as he clicked the mouse on his computer a couple of times, then turned the volume on its speakers up as high as it would go, though no sound was coming out of them yet.
“I’ve downloaded the music-only track from the original recording, and I want you to sing it again, like you did the first time…”
Mr. Lambert explained, then was quiet for a moment – and Kurt knew a deliberate dramatic pause when he saw one. He arched a single eyebrow, waiting for Mr. Lambert to finish.
“… only this time, I want you to try to sing it without using your falsetto.”
Kurt’s eyes widened, and he blinked in disbelief. “You mean – sing every note using my full voice?”
Mr. Lambert nodded, an innocent, expectant smile on his face, as if there was nothing remotely out of the ordinary about his request. Kurt just stared at him, his tone flat and his expression dubious as he repeated what Mr. Lambert had just told him.
“It’s the original track.”
“In the key Celine Dion used.”
“Not even she sang it without a single falsetto note.”
Adam nodded speculatively, conceding, “Probably not.”
When it became clear that Mr. Lambert was not going to be swayed by logical statements of facts that he obviously already knew to be true, Kurt swallowed hard, glancing toward the silent computer speakers, uncertainty creeping into his voice.
“I… I don’t think I can,” he admitted at last. When Mr. Lambert gave him a vaguely challenging look, Kurt added defensively, “I don’t really think anyone can, for that matter. My range exceeds most of the female sopranos I know, and I still don’t think I can… I… I’m pretty sure it’s not possible…”
“Okay, then,” Mr. Lambert cut him off brightly, reaching for his mouse again as he instructed, “Don’t sing. Just listen.”
Kurt’s unease grew as the familiar introduction began to play, and he wondered why Mr. Lambert had changed his mind so quickly, and if he had, why he was still playing the track. Had Kurt just failed some kind of strange test that he hadn’t realized Mr. Lambert was giving him? Had Mr. Lambert decided that he’d made a mistake, and maybe this weird, under-talented, too-poor-to-pay-for-lessons kid from Lima really wasn’t worth his pro bono lessons, after all?
And then, the capacity for coherent thought seemed to leave Kurt entirely, as Mr. Lambert began to sing to the track.
The flawlessly beautiful, pitch perfect soprano notes seemed to fall effortlessly from his lips – and not a single falsetto note to be heard. Kurt listened in stunned wonder as Mr. Lambert reached the breathtaking bridge of the song, nailing every single note with a crescendo of power and emotion that made his eyes well with tears and his chest ache.
Only when the last notes faded away did Kurt realize that somewhere in the middle of the song – he’d forgotten to breathe.
Mr. Lambert met Kurt’s eyes for a moment, calmly studying his reaction as he turned off the music player. A slight smile played about his lips at whatever he saw on Kurt’s face, and he looked away, clearing his throat to break the silence.
“So,” he remarked in a soft, mild tone. “It’s possible.”
“How did you do that?” the awed, breathless question left Kurt’s lips before he knew he was going to speak. “I mean… that was amazing. How did you… just… how?”
“Some instruction, a long time ago. A lot of practice. But… some things, with your voice, you either… can or can’t do, period,” Mr. Lambert explained in a quiet, thoughtful tone. After a moment he looked up to meet Kurt’s eyes again, and there was something sharp and appraising in his gaze. “With your voice… you can. And I’m going to teach you how.”
Kurt could barely contain his excitement as he made his way across the mostly quiet campus toward the dorms. Most of the classes, including the extracurricular activities, were done for the day, and dinner was already being served in the cafeteria. He had plans to meet with Blaine at Blaine’s room and go down to dinner together.
At the moment, food was the farthest thing from Kurt’s mind.
He couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing things Mr. Lambert had shown him, the incredible vocal skill he’d displayed – and how he’d promised to teach Kurt to be able to do the same. Terry’s stories played over in his mind, and now made a lot more sense. He could understand, now, why the disciplinary board kept finding reasons not to fire him.
Because they’d be crazy to let him go…
He knocked on Blaine’s door, thinking about how he wished he had voice lessons more than once a week, because the seven days before his next lesson were going to be torturously slow.
“There you are!”
Blaine’s eyes lit up when he opened his bedroom door, reaching out to grasp the lapel of Kurt’s jacket and pull him inside, and nearly off balance. Kurt laughed with surprise, his lips parted to protest, but before he could, Blaine had closed the door and gently pushed him up against it, his mouth closing over Kurt’s and silencing whatever he would have said.
Kurt willingly yielded to the kiss, grinning giddily, his breath shallow and rapid when he finally came up for air.
“It’s only been…” He glanced at his watch, a teasing smirk on his lips as he met Blaine’s eyes. “… like, an hour. Just as long as my voice lesson.”
“So?” Blaine shrugged, an infectious grin lighting up his face as he leaned in to kiss Kurt again. He drew back after a moment, his voice low and more than a little distracted as he asked, “How’d that go, by the way?”
“Oh, my God, it was amazing!” Kurt gushed, unable to help himself once Blaine had unwittingly given him an opening. “I had no idea that Mr. Lambert could sing like that! Have you heard him sing?”
Blaine laughed softly, a soft, ticklish puff of air against Kurt’s throat, before drawing back to reply, “I take voice lessons with him, too, silly.”
“Why didn’t you tell me how…” Kurt gasped as Blaine’s mouth returned to the column of his throat, but then went on, his voice breathless and halting. “… how… incredible he is? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone… sing like that…”
“Dunno,” Blaine mumbled, his kisses trailing up to Kurt’s jaw, then sliding over to capture Kurt’s mouth again. He obviously was not too concerned with the conversation, preferring to focus Kurt’s attention on something else for the moment. Kurt returned his kiss, his lips parting to allow Blaine entrance, yielding to the gentle but firm grip of Blaine’s hands on his wrists, pinning him back against the door.
Kurt might have been distracted – but not for long.
As Blaine broke the kiss, one hand leaving Kurt’s right wrist to slip up under the hem of his untucked shirt, a new question occurred to Kurt, and he frowned thoughtfully, even as he leaned appreciatively into the callused warmth of Blaine’s hand against his stomach, his eyes closed, his breath quickening.
“What did he… wh-what did he do… before this?”
Blaine’s hand stilled on Kurt’s stomach, and Kurt opened his eyes. Blaine was staring at him, eyebrows raised, an expression that was half question, half accusation, and all annoyance in his dark eyes. His tone was light, but taut with irritation as he broke the tense silence that had fallen.
“You know, you’re really killing the mood.”
Kurt bit the side of his lip, a rueful, apologetic grimace on his lips. “I know,” he admitted. “I’m sorry. It’s just… I’m really excited, you know? I just came from my first lesson, and… and he’s really interesting…”
“As opposed to your boyfriend, who’s currently all over you.” Blaine’s tone was flat, but his eyes sparkled with affectionate, if exasperated, amusement. “Thanks. That’s encouraging.”
“I’m sorry… I just… come here…”
Kurt laughed nervously, reaching out his hands to slide along Blaine’s waist, coaxing him closer, leaning in to initiate another kiss. He was relieved when Blaine sighed and relented, moving forward to meet the gesture.
The kiss was slow and leisurely and tender, and for the first moment since he’d left Mr. Lambert’s office, Kurt found his focused, electrified thoughts fading into a pleasant haze of sensation. When Blaine finally broke the kiss, Kurt instinctively followed with his mouth, a soft little whimper of protest at the loss of contact falling from his lips. Blaine laughed softly – a low, appreciative sound that made Kurt feel warm and happy inside.
“That’s… slightly more encouraging,” Blaine murmured, brushing his lips against Kurt’s jaw before looking up at him again and adding softly, “Now I feel like you actually want to be here.”
“Of course I do,” Kurt assured him, leaning forward and resting his head on Blaine’s shoulder, his hands instinctively pulling him closer. “This is… amazing. You’re amazing. I guess it’s just… I’m so happy, and excited, and everything’s so amazing here that I can’t quite… I can’t quite process it all at once, you know?” Kurt shook his head, laughing softly as he added, “And bits and pieces of the wrong… amazement come out at random, inappropriate times. Sorry.”
Blaine let out a low chuckle at Kurt’s rambly, disjointed explanation, but he nodded slowly, so Kurt decided that it must have at least been somewhat comprehensible.
“I’ll forgive you,” Blaine whispered, leaning in to kiss him softly on the lips before drawing back just enough to speak, so close that his lips brushed Kurt’s as he added, “Just this once.” He kissed him again before drawing back further with a little smirk. “Don’t let it happen again,” he teased.
As Blaine pulled away from him completely, reaching for his coat on the hook beside the door, Kurt held onto his hand and tugged him away from it. Blaine gave him a questioning look, and Kurt just shook his head slowly with a shy little smile. Blaine obligingly moved close again, reaching out to take Kurt’s other hand in his.
“What about dinner?” he asked quietly. “Don’t you want to go down?”
Kurt bit his lip again, shaking his head. “No,” he whispered. “I’m not hungry.” He paused, eyes downcast for a moment before he raised them to meet Blaine’s gaze, swiftly darkening with understanding and desire. “At least… not for food.”
A slow, pleased smile spread across Blaine’s face, and he released Kurt’s hands to abruptly take hold of his jacket instead, spinning him away from the door and turning him toward the bed, walking Kurt slowly backward toward it as he captured his mouth in a searing, possessive kiss.
And for the next hour or so, Kurt didn’t have to try to pay attention.
Adam glanced at the clock on the wall across from his desk with a puzzled frown, then looked down at his watch to verify its accuracy before glancing toward the open, empty doorway of his office.
It was Wednesday afternoon, and Kurt Hummel was late for his weekly voice lesson.
And Kurt was never late. That was what was so strangely unsettling. Kurt usually arrived for his weekly lesson early, if anything, eager to learn and full of ideas for new songs to practice and opportunities to perform them. Every time that Adam thought he’d pushed the boy far enough for the day, Kurt insisted on pushing himself just a little bit farther. He was dedicated and disciplined and determined – and he was never late.
Except that today, he was – and Adam found himself strangely bothered by that fact.
After all, Kurt was the most enthusiastic and talented student that Adam had ever taught. He had a range like none Adam had ever heard before, flawless pitch, and a true love for singing that Adam could relate to perfectly. He had to admit that these days, he found himself looking forward to his lessons with Kurt just a little bit more than the rest of the voice lessons he gave.
It’s just that I enjoy helping him realize all that potential – and I’d hate to see it go to waste…
Adam sighed, rolling his eyes at his own impatience and forcing his gaze away from the ticking second hand on the clock.
… and that’s not going to happen because the kid’s late for one lesson. Chill, Lambert. As long as he’s making progress – which he is – and making good grades – which he is – then there’s no reason for you to worry about it. It’s not personal. It’s not.
At least… it shouldn’t be.
You have to be careful; you’re already way too invested. Maybe it’s better if Kurt does miss a lesson or two.
Adam knew better than to allow himself to get too close to a student, even in nothing more than a friendship capacity. He knew all too well that a simple, innocent friendship, misinterpreted by the wrong person, could easily spell out the end of his teaching career. There was a fast line between teacher and student, and that line was there for a reason.
And yet, as Kurt became more and more comfortable with Adam, and began to show off his quick, sly sense of humor in unexpected moments, Adam found that he began to look forward to their lessons, not just because he enjoyed teaching Kurt, but because he enjoyed spending time with Kurt.
And that way lies danger, Adam warned himself sternly. He needs a vocal instructor… maybe even a mentor… but not a friend.
And yet – that was just it.
The more time he spent around him, the more certain Adam was that Kurt Hummel did need a friend – desperately.
For some reason – probably no better than their own petty jealousy, Adam figured – the self-important “council” of entitled children entrusted with decisions regarding the Warblers’ competitions and other performances had not seen fit to give Kurt a solo yet – or anything at all really, beyond a spot swaying in the chorus. And from what Adam could gather, Kurt’s old glee club hadn’t been all that much more appreciative of his considerable talent.
Perhaps that was why every time Adam offered even the slightest praise for Kurt’s singing, Kurt’s face took on that shy blush of pleased surprise, his eyes impossibly wider than usual, as if scarcely believing what Adam was telling him. It wasn’t that Kurt didn’t know he was talented. The kid was far from stupid, and there was a certain underlying confidence in the way he carried himself that told Adam that Kurt was aware that he could do things with his voice that no one else could. He knew that he was an amazing singer.
Apparently, he just wasn’t used to hearing it.
The way he soaked up every drop of praise as if he were dying of thirst – the way he sometimes opened his mouth as if to speak, only to change his mind at the last moment and decide against it – it was obvious to Adam that for all his apparent confidence and poise, Kurt Hummel was actually very uncertain and insecure, and, to all appearances – unbearably lonely.
But that’s not your problem.
Adam glanced at the clock again, noting that Kurt was more than twenty minutes late, before rising from his chair and heading toward the door.
And the last thing you need to do is anything to make it your problem – because it might end up being a bigger one than you can handle. Your job isn’t to be his friend, or get him to open up. Your job is to teach him to sing – and that’s all.
Anything beyond that is over the line.
Adam was halfway down the hallway, headed toward the exit, when the sound of light, hurried footsteps echoing on the marble hallway drew his attention. He turned toward the sound to see Kurt jogging down the hallway, his messenger bag slung over his shoulder, disheveled and breathless as he struggled to get the words out.
“Mr. Lambert! Wait! I… I’m sorry, I...” Kurt drew to an abrupt halt in front of Adam, his face flushed with mingled exertion and embarrassment, his eyes averted guiltily. “I just… I got a call from home, and… and I had to take it, and… I’m so sorry I’m so late, I know we were going to go over the new song we started working on last week, and I really want to, I… I just… I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Am I… am I too late?”
Adam hesitated a moment, his instincts telling him that the smarter thing to do would be to play the role of the conscientious instructor and tell Kurt that he would have to wait until the next week’s lesson, since he hadn’t cared to show up on time for this one. He knew that he shouldn’t make special concessions for one student that he wouldn’t make for all the others – shouldn’t take pity on the pleading, crestfallen expression in Kurt’s impossibly expressive eyes, that look that told Adam that if he cancelled Kurt’s lesson today, he would be ruining the highlight of the kid’s entire week…
Shit. I don’t really have a choice, do I?
“Yes, actually, you are,” Adam replied as sternly as he could manage, a single brow raised pointedly in Kurt’s direction – but as he spoke, he was already heading down the hall toward the auditorium. “You’re just lucky I don’t have any dinner plans.” When he realized that Kurt wasn’t following him, Adam stopped, turning slightly to face his student and nodding forward. “Come on.”
Kurt just stood there for a moment, blinking in surprise, before hurrying after Adam down the hallway. “Thank you,” he gushed gratefully. “Thank you so much, I’m really sorry, I just… it won’t happen again, I promise. Thank you... thank you so much…”
Adam turned to face Kurt only once they’d reached the stage, relenting with a teasing smirk and an exaggerated sigh as he cut off the boy’s nervous babbling, speaking in a tone far gentler than his words.
“Kurt… just shut up and sing.”
Almost immediately, Adam began to believe that it might have been better to reschedule the lesson, after all.
Every note was flawless as usual, and actually kind of breathtaking, given the exquisite acoustics of Dalton’s small but impressive auditorium – but Kurt seemed strangely distracted, withdrawn, and… a little sad.
Not your business. Focus on the vocals.
“Try to put a little more power into it,” Adam advised after a particularly half-hearted chorus, rising from his perch on the edge of the stage and closing the distance between himself and Kurt. “Right now, you’re singing completely from your throat. I need you to sing from here…” Adam reached out a hand to momentarily touch Kurt’s chest, immediately raising it toward his throat as he concluded, “… not from here…”
But before the words had even left his lips, Kurt drew in a sharp, shaky breath that he couldn’t seem to remember how to release, flinching away from the contact as if it had burned him. Adam froze, immediately withdrawing his hand and studying the boy with concern.
“Kurt? You okay?”
Kurt recovered quickly enough from whatever it was that had come over him, his face flushed with embarrassment as he averted his gaze – but not before Adam had seen the stricken expression of panic that had filled his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Kurt muttered, looking away, his arms crossed over his chest in subconscious defense. He shook his head in self-directed disgust, repeating, “I’m sorry. I just… It’s nothing. It’s stupid. I… I shouldn’t have reacted like that.”
An awkward silence stretched between them, and Kurt’s lips twisted into a grimace at his own humiliation as he slowly walked away from Adam, to the edge of the stage, and sat down, resting his head in his hands for a moment before crossing his arms protectively over his stomach. Adam watched him for a moment, caught between his warring instincts toward protecting this boy he was coming to care so much for, and his own self-preservation.
Kurt just looked so small and vulnerable and miserable, with his arms wrapped around his narrow torso, his legs dangling off the edge of the stage, his shoulders hunched inward as if he wanted nothing more than to hide – and when he drew in a sharp, shuddering breath and raised the back of one trembling hand to swipe at his eyes in fierce frustration at his own emotions…
Well, Adam’s cautious intentions didn’t stand a chance.
He approached slowly, lowering himself to sit beside Kurt, mirroring his position. “You know, a funny thing about reactions,” he observed in a quiet, mild tone, not looking at the boy beside him, but instead staring out into the risers. “The thing is… they’re not usually something that we’ve got a lot of control over. If they were, they’d just be called actions.”
Kurt didn’t seem reassured or impressed or in any way affected by Adam’s offered words. He just rolled his eyes and turned his face away, sniffling as he visibly struggled to bring his emotions under control.
Adam was quiet for a moment, considering, before attempting a more direct approach.
“So… do you wanna talk about it?”
Kurt folded his trembling hands in his lap, staring down at them and blinking rapidly as he shook his head, a single whispered word on his lips.
Adam nodded slowly in acceptance before trying again. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable, Kurt. I should think before I do things like that…”
“No,” Kurt repeated, a little louder, his voice hoarse with tears, soft with defeat. “No, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s… not your fault I can’t even… can’t handle someone touching me without freaking out like a pathetic little kid…”
Adam was quiet for a moment, taking in the unmistakable disgust in Kurt’s voice. It almost physically hurt to hear it, and though he knew he should just let it go and let the kid deal with his problems in his own way, or not – Adam found himself persisting, despite his better judgment. His voice was quiet, subtly searching, when at last he replied.
“Well, something tells me… it’s not exactly your fault, either. Is it?”
Kurt looked up at him abruptly, his eyes wide and startled, his posture tense and guarded, and Adam was afraid he might have pushed too far, and pushed the boy even further into his shell. After a moment, however, Kurt’s shoulders slowly relaxed, and he looked down at his lap again, shaking his head slowly in response.
“No,” he whispered.
Adam nodded at the confirmation of his suspicions, hesitating just a moment before venturing, “Well, if you don’t want to talk about it… that’s fine, Kurt. But… if you do…”
Kurt didn’t move or speak for a long moment, and Adam began to think that that was going to be the end of it. He braced his hand on the stage beneath him, preparing to get up and give Kurt the space he clearly wanted. But before he could get up, one hand darted out of Kurt’s lap and rested, feather light and trembling, on Adam’s wrist to stop him. Adam looked up in surprise to see Kurt staring at him with troubled, uncertain eyes, biting the corner of his lip in momentary indecision.
“Wait,” he whispered at last, staring down at the place where their hands met before nodding slowly and looking up to meet Adam’s eyes again. “If… if it’s okay, I… I think I do.”
“So… is this about a boy?”
Kurt blinked up at his teacher, mildly surprised by the question. He wasn’t accustomed to the adults in his life being so direct with him about his sexuality. Even his father – who had proven all of his worst fears needless by accepting him so completely when he’d come out – had still made it clear that he wasn’t exactly comfortable talking about any issues Kurt might have with boys.
Of course, although the topic hadn’t come up, Kurt was pretty sure that Mr. Lambert was gay too, so that was one possible explanation for his level of comfort bringing up the subject.
Kurt gave his teacher a wary, speculative look. Mr. Lambert offered a little half-shrug and a sympathetic smile. “If it is, then… well, that’s something I’ve got a little bit of experience with,” he confessed gently, confirming Kurt’s suspicions.
Yeah… thought so.
“Maybe I can help?”
Kurt thought about the dilemma that had kept him from getting to Mr. Lambert’s office on time, and kept him from focusing throughout his lesson, and made him flinch away like some kind of mental patient when Mr. Lambert had barely touched him. He shivered a little, wrapping his arms tighter around him and looking away.
“I… I guess it is. Sort of,” he admitted hesitantly at last.
“And… is this boy’s name Blaine Anderson, by any chance?”
Kurt looked up abruptly at his teacher, startled. The knowing look in Mr. Lambert’s eyes made him look away, his cheeks burning with embarrassment. His fingers felt soothingly cool against his skin as he buried his face in his hands.
“Oh, no,” he lamented with a little groan of humiliation. “Am I really that obvious?”
“Well…” Mr. Lambert’s tone was apologetic, and Kurt looked up reluctantly to see a little grimace of regretful amusement on his teacher’s face. “After the afternoon when we met… ‘subtle’ wasn’t exactly an option…”
“Oh.” Kurt’s face flushed anew as he remembered Mr. Lambert walking in on him and Blaine during that first, perfect kiss. “Oh, right. I forgot.”
“So what did he do?” Mr. Lambert’s amusement was abruptly replaced with disapproval.
“Oh, no,” Kurt objected quickly, shaking his head. “Blaine didn’t do anything. He’s fine. He’s… amazing, actually. He’s been nothing but supportive.”
“Oh.” Mr. Lambert sounded surprised. “Hmm.”
“No, this… this doesn’t have anything to do with him, really. It’s… something else.”
Mr. Lambert didn’t say anything, just sat there patiently waiting in silence for Kurt to go on – but Kurt didn’t really know how. The silence began to stretch out between them, becoming tense and uncomfortable, and driving Kurt to press forward with the explanation he’d already agreed to give. He swallowed hard, looking away as he tried to gather his thoughts.
“I guess… my file probably says something about… why I transferred?”
Mr. Lambert was quiet for a moment before replying, his tone cautious but compassionate. “It just said that… you were being harassed by another student, and there wasn’t enough evidence for the school board to do anything about it. You didn’t feel safe there.”
“That’s all true.” Kurt nodded slowly. “What it doesn’t say is that the Neanderthal jock that was harassing me was doing it because he hated himself for being gay, and has some kind of sick obsession with me – and somewhere along the way, decided that all of that was my fault.”
Mr. Lambert frowned in confusion. “He told you he was gay?”
“Not with his mouth.” Kurt paused, wincing and reconsidering that choice of words before amending, “Not with words, anyway. I… I confronted him one day. Blaine said I should, and… and he shoved me into the lockers, and it was just… just the last straw, so… I followed him into the locker room and confronted him, and… he kissed me.”
“Whoa.” Mr. Lambert blinked in surprise. “That must have been a shock.”
“It was,” Kurt agreed with a slow nod, staring off into the auditorium seats without really seeing them. “And… after that, it got worse. He was scared that I was going to tell somebody his secret, so… he started threatening me, and… like, cornering me in the hallway and stuff, and…” Kurt’s mouth felt painfully dry, his heart thudding against his ribcage as he remembered. “… one time, he told me… if I told anybody about him, he’d kill me.”
Mr. Lambert didn’t say anything for a long moment, and Kurt didn’t look at him, didn’t really want to see his reaction. Finally, Mr. Lambert spoke, his voice calm and reassuring.
“I can understand why you had to get out of there. You have to be able to feel safe in your own school.” He paused a moment before adding in a cautious, slightly leading tone. “But… at least you’re safe now. Right?”
Kurt bit his lower lip, a little shiver of apprehension going through him at the question. His hands trembled as he folded them in his lap, shaking his head slowly. His voice was hushed and timid when at last he ventured a soft admission.
“I… I’m not so sure.”
“Why not?” There was suddenly a subtly sharper note in Mr. Lambert’s voice. “Is this guy still bothering you?”
“Not… not really,” Kurt sighed. “I mean… I haven’t seen him or talked to him since… since I left McKinley. But…” He swallowed hard, thinking back to what he’d found when he’d checked his email earlier that day. “He leaves these weird comments. Like, on my Facebook posts. Suggestive things that… most people probably wouldn’t find suggestive, but… but he knows it’ll get to me. He sends me text messages, too.” Kurt shuddered, wrapping his arms around himself more tightly. “I don’t even know how he got my phone number.”
“You saved the messages, right?” Mr. Lambert’s tone was thoughtful. “I mean… if you can prove that he’s still harassing you…”
“That’s just it,” Kurt interrupted miserably, shaking his head and staring down at his hands. “The stuff he says… none of it is really that bad, on the surface, anyway. It’s nothing I can point to and say that he’s actually threatening me. It’s just… stuff he knows will get to me. Just like when I was at McKinley, those last couple of weeks. He didn’t really hurt me, he just… like… touched me, and… and said stuff… just to freak me out, and…”
Kurt’s voice trailed off, and he let out a shaky sigh.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’m just overreacting. Blaine says I need to stop focusing on the negative so much. He says that obsessing over these messages when Karofsky can’t even touch me is… is giving him back the power again. He says… I’m safe now, and… and I shouldn’t focus on my fear.”
“Yeah, well, he also told you it was a good idea to confront a guy much bigger than you who made a habit out of shoving you around,” Mr. Lambert muttered darkly. “I wouldn’t say his advice is necessarily…”
“I don’t know.” Kurt wasn’t really paying attention to Mr. Lambert’s words, staring off distractedly into space, a sad, uncertain feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. “Maybe… he’s just getting tired of hearing me whine all the time.”
“Okay, first of all…” Mr. Lambert’s voice was suddenly firm and decisive. “Block the guy on Facebook. Why is he even listed as your friend?”
“I don’t know,” Kurt sighed, shaking his head in self-disgust. “I guess I friended him a long time ago, before all this, just because I knew him, and… I don’t know. It’s stupid.”
“Well, you can block him now,” Mr. Lambert continued, not seeming nearly as appalled by Kurt’s carelessness as Kurt was. “If this creep has your phone number, you need to have your parents call your phone company and have his number blocked there, too. And if his number’s coming up as unknown or something, or that’s not possible for some reason, then you might want to consider changing your number. This guy doesn’t need to be able to get a hold of you. That’s what he wants, is your attention. And if he can’t get it, then he has no choice but to stop.”
Kurt considered that advice, nodding slowly. It made sense, and he couldn’t see how Karofsky could manage to get around those measures to still contact him.
“And another thing, Kurt… and you really need to hear this…”
Mr. Lambert’s voice softened, but took on an urgent note that drew Kurt’s gaze up to his. “Kurt… in a case like this, silence is the enemy. Okay? No one should be telling you to keep your mouth shut about this. That’s the worst thing you can do. The more people know about what this Karofsky guy’s been doing, the better chance you have of staying safe.”
Kurt bit his lower lip, looking away, suddenly feeling self-conscious under Mr. Lambert’s intent, earnest concern. He nodded his acceptance of the solid advice he was being offered, but didn’t venture any other response.
“I’m glad you talked to me about it.”
Kurt glanced up again, a little shyly, wondering at the warmth and sincerity he saw in his teacher’s eyes, confirming that he really didn’t mind Kurt’s little emotional breakdown, and the impromptu, amateur therapy session that had followed.
“Anytime you want to talk, Kurt,” Mr. Lambert went on, holding Kurt’s gaze firmly, “about this… or anything, really… anytime you just need someone to listen… I’m here, okay?”
Kurt found himself blinking back the hot tears that prickled at the backs of his eyelids, swallowing back a hard knot that had formed in his throat. He cleared his throat, but his words still came out trembling and hoarse when at last he offered a pathetically grateful response.
“Th-thank you so much. You… you have no idea how hard it is sometimes, and… just knowing that there’s someone who… who gets it…”
“Oh, believe me,” Mr. Lambert laughed softly. “I do know…”
“It just… that just means so much to me, Mr. Lambert…”
Kurt blinked at him, clearly surprised and a little taken aback. “What?”
The moment the word left his lips, Adam cringed inwardly, wishing that he could take it back.
Stupid, that’s so inappropriate… way to maintain proper boundaries, Adam. You’re already on dangerous ground as it is, without asking him to call you by your first name. What were you thinking?
But it was too late to take it back now, without making Kurt feel completely awkward and insecure, and undoing all the progress he felt that he’d made with the boy in the past few minutes. He looked away, keeping his tone casual as he let out a little laugh, waving a dismissive hand.
“It’s just every time I hear ‘Mr. Lambert’, I think of my dad,” he offered as a lame excuse, following it up with something closer to the truth, “and… I want you to feel comfortable talking to me, Kurt. I just want you to know that, if you need it… you’ve got a friend here, all right?”
Not a friend, not a friend, that’s not what you’re supposed to be to him, Adam… idiot…
But the damage was already done.
A slow, shy smile spread across Kurt’s face, his crystal blue eyes sparkling with a sort of wondering pleasure as he nodded slowly. “Okay… Adam…”
Shit. Shit, shit, shit.
What are you doing, Lambert? Get it together, now…
“Well.” Adam let out a shaky breath, running his damp palms over his denim-clad thighs before rising abruptly to his feet and attempting to put a few feet of space between himself and his student, without making it obvious that he was doing so. “I don’t think we’re going to get much farther on our song today, do you?”
Kurt laughed, apparently oblivious to Adam’s discomfort. “Probably not,” he agreed.
“So, I guess we’d better call it a day, then.” Adam offered the boy a bright smile, not wanting him to feel rejected – which was quite a challenge considering that at the moment he was all but physically shoving him away. “I’ll see you at your next lesson, all right?”
Kurt nodded, his smile bright and adoring in a way that Adam knew he should have been avoiding – not trying to think of other ways that he might keep that stunning smile on the boy’s face, which was sad and troubled far too often for Adam’s liking.
“Okay. Thank you so much, again. You really made me feel a lot better.”
Adam nodded wordlessly, busying himself arranging some papers on a music stand, though neither the papers nor the stand had been brought there by him, or had anything to do with either of them. He found himself all but holding his breath as Kurt made his way down the hall toward the exit, his boots echoing loudly on the tile until the sound of them finally faded away completely.
Adam’s shoulders sagged with relief, and he leaned forward over the music stand, letting out a ragged, shaky breath and closing his eyes.
Stupid. Stupid. That was just so fucking stupid, you stupid fucking idiot.
This could cost you your job, if you’re not careful.
Adam stifled a groan as he thought of the adoration and gratitude he’d seen in Kurt’s eyes in the moments before he left. He’d hardly been able to prevent it, really. Kurt had all but broken down in front of him, and clearly needed someone to talk to – and all Adam had tried to do was to provide a listening ear.
And yet somehow, he couldn’t escape the feeling that for better or worse, he’d just done a hell of a lot more than that.
And whatever he’d done, it was too late to undo it now.
“Don’t get me wrong. Tying with New Directions for first place is nothing to be ashamed of. I just think they’re going to be stepping up their game for regionals, and we’d be wise to do the same thing. What do you all think?”
Kurt wasn’t thinking much of anything at the moment, and had barely registered every other word of what Wes had just said – not that it was all that important, he figured. It wasn’t as if they were at an official Warblers meeting. He and Blaine were just eating dinner in the cafeteria, and had happened to sit down at the same table with Wes and David and another boy whose name Kurt hadn’t bothered to learn yet.
At the moment, the only name careening through his thoughts in a desperate, worshipful rhythm was Blaine.
“I totally agree,” Blaine replied, his tone smooth and certain – and far more composed than he had a right to be, as far as Kurt was concerned, when the toe of his shoe was idly stroking up and down the back of Kurt’s calf in a way that was proving to be unbearably distracting.
Of course, then he met Kurt’s eyes, a sparkle of amusement in his own, and Kurt realized that Blaine was no more focused on the conversation than he was. His mind went back to a conversation they’d had earlier that week, when Kurt had confessed that he often found himself distracted in Warblers’ meetings and practices, because it seemed as if they went over the same things over and over again, and then he found himself stuck for a response on the rare occasions when someone did call on him for his opinion.
“It’s easy,” Blaine had confided in a low, secretive tone that sent a delightful shiver all through him. “If you don’t know how to respond, just say ‘I think so too’ or ‘I agree with Wes’. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, that’ll be an appropriate enough response to whatever’s just happened to fool them into thinking you were paying attention.”
They’d laughed about it at the time, but now it appeared that Blaine was putting his own advice into practice.
And that wasn’t all he was practicing.
Under the edge of the table, Blaine’s hand fell onto Kurt’s thigh, his forefinger idly stroking up and down, edging slightly inward in a teasing, suggestive manner that did funny things to Kurt’s stomach – and other parts.
“What do you think, Kurt? You know New Directions better than any of us.”
Kurt looked up from his mostly untouched dinner tray to meet David’s expectant, questioning smile. He glanced over at Blaine, meeting his eyes for an instant before offering a bright, confident response.
“I agree with Wes on this one.”
The rest of the table, besides Blaine, burst into laughter, and Kurt blinked, staring around at the rest of them in confusion.
“What?” he asked, a defensive note creeping into his voice. “What’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong with that,” Wes explained with a wry grin, “is that I just suggested that the use of dancing dogs in pink taffeta tutus might give us the edge over New Directions at regionals.” He smirked, shaking his head as he added in a tolerant tone, “Neither of you have been listening to any part of this conversation for the last twenty minutes – and it doesn’t look as if you’re particularly hungry, either.”
Kurt glanced down at his own tray again, and then at Blaine’s, which was still equally loaded with food that Blaine had been ignoring.
“Why don’t you two just go find a quiet place somewhere where you can have some privacy, and leave the rest of us to our dinner – while we still have our appetites?” David suggested with a grin.
Neither boy needed any further encouragement.
They were back in the dorms in five minutes. Blaine slid in close behind Kurt, wrapping his arms around his waist and pressing a slow, teasing kiss to the nape of his neck – making it infinitely harder for Kurt’s trembling fingers to get his key into the doorknob.
“Blaine!” Kurt protested with a high, breathless little laugh as he pushed back against his boyfriend, then leaned forward again, using his free hand to steady the key. “Give me a second, will you?”
“I don’t know if I can,” Blaine retorted, but he didn’t persist until Kurt had managed to get the door open. Then, he followed Kurt inside and closed the door quietly but firmly behind them,
Then, he pounced, fairly knocking Kurt off his feet and onto his back on the bed.
Kurt let out a startled little cry of protest – but he didn’t really mind at all.
He’d never felt this way about anyone before.
He’d had a crush on Sam, for a little while, when he first came to McKinley, and Finn Hudson had been the first person he’d thought he was in love with – but those childish, innocent feelings did not even remotely compare to the desperate, aching desire that Blaine had managed to awaken within him.
It was passionate and intense and desperate and urgent, and Kurt found himself getting swept away in it, losing himself in it, until all he could be aware of, all he could think or feel, was just Blaine – Blaine’s hands on him, all over him, caressing and searching and coaxing him, little by little, further and further, more and more…
He didn’t realize when Blaine did it, but suddenly both of their shirts were off, and the electric sensation of skin against skin sent a jolt of mingled adrenaline and apprehension through him. It felt so fast, so frantic, like losing control…
But… they’d been this far before.
Of course they’d been this far before. Kurt wasn’t sure either of them could have borne the tension if they hadn’t gotten anywhere at all in the past few weeks. He was a virgin, and he was a bit anxious when it came to each new step along this exciting, mysterious path – but he was still a teenage boy, and still had his moments when “death by sexual frustration” seemed like a very real possibility.
Blaine’s hands roved across the smooth plain of Kurt’s chest, fingertips toying gently, teasingly, with his nipples. A smug little sparkle appeared in Blaine’s dark eyes at Kurt’s little gasp of surprise and pleasure.
His heart was racing, every nerve ending hyper aware, as Blaine continued to touch and tease and explore – but it was good, and exciting, and exactly what Kurt had been craving during the long hours that had passed, seemingly interminably between now and the last time they’d been able to sneak away like this.
And then, Kurt felt Blaine’s hand at the front of his pants, sliding his zipper down and then working awkwardly, blindly, at the button above it. Kurt’s stomach lurched, alarm bells going off in his head, a siren screaming out a warning – too much, too fast, stop, stop! – and he reached out a shaking hand to catch Blaine’s wrist, halting his progress.
Blaine stopped immediately, but did not move his hand, the edge of his lower lip caught between his teeth as his dark eyes searched Kurt’s face with an anxious frown.
“I-I’m sorry,” Kurt whispered. “Just… not yet…”
Blaine went totally still for a long moment, before letting out a soft, barely audible sigh and rolling off of Kurt onto his side. Kurt felt oddly bereft, though he took some measure of reassurance from the comfortable, affectionate arm Blaine slung across his waist.
“I’m sorry,” Blaine said softly. “I didn’t mean to… to go too far.”
But there was a weary note in his voice – a subtle sound of impatience that he was almost managing to conceal – that made Kurt feel as if he was the one who should be apologizing.
“I-I’m sorry,” he repeated in a voice barely over a whisper. “It’s just… we’ve been together for less than a month, and… it just seems so fast. I’m just… I’m not ready yet, Blaine. I’m sorry…”
“No,” Blaine cut him off gently, shifting closer to him and leaning down to press a soft, chaste kiss to his lips. “No, don’t be sorry, Kurt. You have the right to slow things down any time you want to, okay? Don’t feel bad. I don’t want anything that you don’t want – okay?”
As always, Blaine was gentle and understanding and perfect – and Kurt hated himself for not being able to give his amazing boyfriend what he needed. Blaine had been out longer, had been dating longer, knew exactly what he was doing and what he wanted – and Kurt was beginning to wonder what Blaine could possibly see in him that made him willing to wait so long.
And why do you want to wait so much, anyway? Kurt sighed, raking a hand down over his face in frustration at his own hang-ups. What’s the big deal? It’s not like you don’t want it – and it’s not like you don’t want it to be with Blaine – so why do you keep freaking out like this?
“It’s…it’s not that I don’t want it,” he explained, hesitating over the words that were only just forming in his own mind. “I do. Believe me, I really do. It’s just… I’ve never… I mean… I guess I’m just… scared.” He closed his eyes, wincing at the word, his face flushing with embarrassment at his confession as he went on in a stumbling rush, “It’s just all… all so new, and… I’m sorry. I wish I wasn’t such a baby…”
“Kurt… hey.” Blaine’s voice was soft, and the light touch of his hand against Kurt’s cheek drew him to open his eyes, facing with apprehension whatever he would see on Blaine’s face. “No… you’re not a baby. And… it’s all new to me too, you know?”
Kurt’s eyes widened with surprise, and he raised his head a little to study Blaine more closely. “It is?” His tone was dubious, a single eyebrow raised speculatively.
Blaine nodded with a little grimace, rolling his eyes at his own inexperience. “It is. You’re not the only one that’s scared. I mean… I get really self-conscious about… well, about taking my clothes off and stuff, but… but I trust you, Kurt. I really trust you, completely, and… I’m willing to take that chance with you. You know?”
A rush of guilt swept over Kurt, and he lowered his gaze, nodding slowly. “I know. I do trust you, Blaine, it’s not that…”
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Blaine cut him off gently. “Kurt… you don’t have to be ready just because I am. You don’t have to trust me that much until you really do. But… maybe…” Blaine hesitated, then shook his head, looking away. “No, it’s probably a bad idea…”
“What?” Kurt looked up at him again with a curious frown. “What idea?”
“It’s just… I was just thinking…” Blaine drew in a deep breath, looking up at Kurt with a hesitant, hopeful expression on his face. “What if I take that step first? What if… you don’t take off anything, don’t do anything more than you’re ready for… but I go ahead and… give you that much trust… that much… vulnerability… and maybe… it’ll make it easier for you, you know? Later on, not tonight,” he hurried to clarify. “I don’t expect anything from you, not until you’re ready. But…” His hands trembled slightly as they moved to the front of his own pants, cautiously sliding the zipper down, holding Kurt’s gaze.
Kurt’s eyes were drawn to what Blaine’s hands were doing, eager and wanting in spite of his fears, and he nodded slowly in cautious acceptance of Blaine’s plan.
Yes… this was better.
Blaine could go first, could take that first step in exposing himself and making himself vulnerable, and then maybe it would be easier for Kurt to do the same – but not tonight.
Kurt watched with fascination as Blaine slid his navy uniform pants down around his thighs, then reached out a tentative hand toward him, looking up for Blaine’s approval before going any farther. Blaine bit his lower lip, nodding eagerly, and Kurt shifted up onto his knees on the bed, edging nearer and reaching out to take Blaine’s hard cock in his hand.
It was an odd sensation, touching another boy like this – odd in its newness, but good in how right it felt – as if this was just what he’d been wanting, long before he’d known it.
The hand job he gave Blaine was awkward and arrhythmic, and he felt silly and embarrassed at his own lack of skill and knowledge; but Blaine coaxed him through it, offering suggestions and encouragement. As he neared the edge of his release, the soft, breathless sounds he made, the way his voice grew higher and taut with mingled need and pleasure, made Kurt feel that he was beginning to do better. When Blaine finally came over Kurt’s hand, with a soft, sharp little cry, Kurt felt overwhelmingly pleased and proud of his own achievement.
After cleaning himself and Kurt both off, Blaine lay down on the bed, pulling Kurt down into his arms, and held him close as they both drifted off. Kurt was confused and a little uncertain, wanted to ask so many things, to know how he was supposed to feel and think in this moment – but Blaine seemed too sleepy and content for conversation, so he just closed his eyes and focused on the soft, warm, pleasant sensation of Blaine’s arms wrapped around him.
When Blaine woke up a couple of hours later, Kurt was sound asleep beside him.
He slid his tingling, half-asleep arm carefully out from under Kurt’s head, smiling down with affection at the innocent expression on his face as he slept. He put his clothes back on, humming softly to himself with satisfaction as he slipped out the door and headed down toward the commons.
At last, they were finally making some progress.
It wasn’t that Kurt’s sweet, innocent, virginal act didn’t have its appeal, because it definitely did; but in all honesty, Blaine’s frustration was becoming overwhelming. A guy had needs, right? And at last, Kurt had given him something to at least take the edge off.
And now that we’ve gone that far, he can’t go much longer without letting me in just that little bit more. Blaine couldn’t keep a smug smile of satisfaction off his lips at that thought. He’ll feel too guilty to let me be that open with him, without giving me something back – and soon.
He closed his eyes for a moment, visualizing the innocent, uncertain expression in Kurt’s wide eyes as he’d taken Blaine into his hand – the first boy he’d ever touched, the first time he’d ever done anything like this…
And it was with me…
Blaine’s smile widened as he rounded the corner, the door to the commons coming into sight.
And best of all, I think he actually went a whole hour or so without mentioning the name of the amazing Mr. Lambert.
Blaine fought back the rush of resentment he felt at that thought.
Lambert’s overrated, anyway. He needs to learn to mind his own business – and stay out of mine. He should have been fired a long time ago, but somehow he always manages to get out of it…
Blaine shook his head, trying to put aside those thoughts. He was in a good mood, and he wanted to keep it for a while.
He walked into the commons, his gaze immediately drawn to a freshman across the room who’d just transferred a week ago – and who hadn’t stopped making eyes at Blaine since the day he’d arrived. The boy was slight, and fair, with large, pretty eyes, like Kurt – and he was looking at Blaine right now with a familiar expression of adoration that made him Blaine stand a little straighter, and walk with a little more confidence, as he put his worries out of his mind and made his way across the room, his brilliant, charming smile firmly in place.
“Call me Adam.”
Adam was convinced the moment they left his lips that those three simple words were a very big mistake. And just as he’d feared, the next few weeks found Adam struggling to balance between not hurting Kurt’s feelings, and not giving him any dangerously wrong ideas. Every time he thought of his favorite young student, Adam was faced with a confusing conflict of emotions. Every time he saw Kurt coming for his lesson, he was glad to see him, because he enjoyed the boy’s company – but his nerves were on edge until Kurt left, wary of any further misstep that might fuel his increasingly obvious crush.
Kurt was just a little too concerned with Adam’s approval, just a little too preoccupied with his opinion on – well, just about everything. His completely innocent, casual touches were a little too frequent, and it was just a little too often that Adam caught him staring at him while Adam was looking away.
Of course, Adam wouldn’t have caught him so frequently if he hadn’t been looking himself, way too much.
Every hour they spent in Adam’s office or Dalton’s auditorium found Adam riding a fine line between the innocent and the insanely inappropriate.
A week after that regrettable conversation, Adam asked Kurt to prepare a song to perform so that he could critique the performance and give him some advice. Kurt was visibly excited, bouncing on his heels as he waited for Adam to get his grading notebook and follow him to the auditorium. Adam took a seat in the front row, unable to hide his affectionate amusement at Kurt’s eagerness to show him what he’d been working on.
Kurt placed his iPhone, in its base with its speakers, on the edge of the stage, angled so that both he and Adam would be able to hear the music clearly. He then pressed play on the song he’d selected before moving to the center of the stage and turning his back to Adam. Adam smiled at his dramatics – but the smile quickly faded as the music began, and Kurt’s hips went into motion at the same moment, swaying in perfect time to the rhythm of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time”.
Adam’s eyes widened as Kurt spun around, his arms raised over his head as his lithe dancer’s frame showed off moves Adam hadn’t dreamed the boy had possessed – and at no cost whatsoever to his stunning vocals, far more powerful than the original.
Of course, Adam was having a difficult time focusing on the singing.
Shit. Why did he have to pick this song? And if he had to sing it, why does he have to move like that, and – stop it, Adam. Stop. Don’t think about it… don’t think about hitting… hitting anything. Hitting that… Shit. What if someone walks into the auditorium right now and sees you getting this kind of a show? What would they think?
Why is he doing this to me?
Adam knew that Kurt had a crush on him, and he knew – from Kurt’s own stories – that he had a tendency to overdo it sometimes when pursuing a guy. But this – this musical flirtation, or whatever it was supposed to be – was just too much. This crossed the line from daring and slightly inappropriate into dangerous.
This is the kind of thing that could cost me my job...
Thankfully, the performance only lasted a few minutes, and Kurt was rushing up to where Adam sat on the front row, an elated smile on his face. Adam opened his mouth to speak, not sure exactly what he was going to say, only that he was going to make sure Kurt understood how totally inappropriate it was for him to dance that way in front of Adam, and to sing such a sexually suggestive song.
“How was it? Was it awful?” Kurt asked, his words a breathless rush – but the way his eyes were shining, the eager smile on his face, made it clear that he knew how far from “awful” it really was. “I only rehearsed it like three times, so some of the moves weren’t as sharp as hers, but… I think… well, what do you think?”
Adam froze, his intended severe response dying on his lips as he took in the innocent hope in Kurt’s demeanor, and the truth slowly dawned on him. There was no guile, no calculation, in Kurt’s wide, questioning gaze. He was simply looking to Adam for approval – as he seemed to do so often these days – hoping that his performance had been good enough, without having a clue that it had, in fact, been perhaps a little too good.
Kurt hadn’t been trying to do anything with his performance. He’d simply been mimicking the dance moves he’d seen in the original video, simply been singing the song as he’d memorized it, with no concept whatsoever of the underlying message behind those words – or the effect that those moves would have on any red-blooded male who happened to find him attractive.
And Adam was trying as hard as he could, but despite his own efforts and against his own will – he still fit that criteria.
It was in that moment that he decided – not for the first time – that he would have to make other arrangements for Kurt’s voice lessons. He could find some decent reason why he couldn’t be Kurt’s teacher anymore, and then find one of the other teachers in the music department to take over.
Except for the fact, he remembered, that he was giving Kurt his lessons pro bono.
He can’t afford to pay someone else for lessons, and I’d miss him and all, but… shit, at this point I’ll pay for the lessons myself, if I don’t have to deal with this fucking mine field of emotional complications every single week…
When Kurt walked in for his lesson the following week, Adam was fully prepared to tell him at the end of the hour that this would be their last session.
But Kurt was quiet and sad that afternoon, compliant and cooperative with Adam’s teaching, but without the heart and enthusiasm that he usually put into his singing. Adam resisted the compulsion as long as he could, but finally asked Kurt if everything was all right.
“Yes,” Kurt assured him in a low, husky voice that betrayed his emotions, with a soft smile that didn’t touch his eyes – and God, his eyes, sea blue and glittering with unshed tears, revealing so much more than he meant for them to. Kurt swallowed hard, looking down at his lap for a moment before meeting Adam’s eyes and making a quiet, reluctant confession.
“It’s just… I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot today.”
And just like that, Adam’s resolve was lost. There was no way he could look into Kurt’s vulnerable, trusting eyes and tell him that he couldn’t be his teacher anymore.
Yeah, I know you’re going through a really rough time right now, and I know you don’t have a lot of people to turn to, and you’re lonely almost all the time, but, you know when I told you I’d be there for you if you needed someone to talk to? A friend to lean on? Yeah, I lied. I have to stop being your teacher because I can’t handle it, because I’m a filthy perv who can’t be around you for more than ten minutes without having inappropriate thoughts.
Go ahead. Tell him that. He’ll understand.
Yeah, you’re totally fucked.
On and on it went, just like that.
One moment Kurt was venting about the frustrations and confusion of adjusting to the fact that his family had just doubled in size, complicated by the fact that he was only there on the weekends to be with them now, or his worries about his father’s health, or any number of other innocent concerns that he just needed to talk about, and Adam was listening and offering advice and feeling like he was being the kind of supportive that a good teacher should be.
And the next moment, Kurt was innocently reaching out to touch him, or confiding inappropriately personal details about his relationship with Blaine, or awkwardly hinting at questions he had about sexuality and sex and any number of other off-limits topics that Adam didn’t feel comfortable discussing with him. Yet Adam knew that he was one of only two gay men that Kurt actually knew, and the other of those two men was the very reason that Adam didn’t feel like he could totally ignore Kurt’s questions.
He’s so innocent… and that makes him vulnerable.
Just Blaine Anderson’s type.
Every time Adam was sure that he’d allowed the lines to blur too much, and he was going to have to find another music teacher to take his place with Kurt, something would happen to remind him of how naïve, how lonely and vulnerable Kurt was right now, and how badly he might take that kind of perceived rejection – how much he really needed someone like Adam to give him decent advice, to look out for him in a place where there was no one else to do so.
Slowly, Adam began to face the truth.
Whether or not the choice had been a wise one, once he had opened the door of his heart to Kurt Hummel – there was simply no closing it again.
“Try it again. Deeper breath, first. And then try it again.”
Kurt glared at Adam from across his desk, but Adam met his glare with a bright smile, nodding once to emphasize his orders. Kurt straightened his shoulders, drawing in a deep breath and letting it out with a long, flawless note.
“Nice,” Adam observed, raising one eyebrow. “But you were going for the G.”
“That was the G.”
“Would you like to teach the lesson?”
Adam’s tone was sharp, but he was trying not to laugh. Kurt was not in the best of moods, verging on irritable and contrary today, but Adam thought that was probably a good sign, all things considered. At any rate, the boy who was currently glaring daggers at him and keeping pace with his smart comments was a far cry from the boy who’d flinched at a simple touch, the first day he’d walked into Adam’s office.
Kurt opened his mouth to reply, one of his eyebrows raised, and Adam waited for what would surely be a scathing retort – but before Kurt could speak, the sound of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” began to play, and Kurt reached down to take his phone from his pocket.
His demeanor instantly changed, as he gave Adam an apologetic grimace. “I’m sorry. I’d keep it on silent, but – Dad…”
“I know,” Adam reassured him. “It’s fine, Kurt, don’t worry about it.”
But Kurt no longer seemed to be concerned with his reaction. He was staring at the screen of his phone, a troubled frown creasing his brow.
“It’s Carole,” he said in a voice that carried a note of irritation, but was a little too uncertain to be as casual as he was aiming for, and Adam’s stomach did a funny little flip, because Kurt had told him enough to know what that could possibly mean. “She knows I have my lesson right now. Sorry, let me just… just to make sure everything’s okay…”
He looked up at Adam, the expression of fear in his eyes tearing at Adam’s heart and pulling him to his feet and around the desk.
“Answer it,” Adam gently prompted him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Kurt shook his head slightly, drawing in a shaky breath, as if just remembering that that was what he was supposed to do. He pressed the button and held the phone to his ear, his voice strangely hesitant as he spoke into it.
He was quiet for a moment, but his grip visibly tightened on the phone as Carole spoke, and his voice was tight and trembling when he replied.
“What is it? What’s… Just tell me.” Kurt fell silent again, longer this time, before speaking again. “Okay. Okay, I’m coming. I’ll be there in a couple of hours. Please, just… I have to go.” Kurt’s tone was impatient as he replied to her next question. “I’ll get Blaine to take me. Please, just… I need to leave, now…” Kurt’s voice softened as he added a moment later, “Okay. Okay, I’ll… I’ll see you in a little while. I love you, too. Bye.”
He disconnected the call and immediately began trying to dial, though his hands were trembling so badly that it took him much longer than it should have to enter in the correct sequence of numbers.
“What is it?” Adam asked. “Your dad?”
Kurt nodded, not looking away from the phone.
“Is he all right?”
“He’s… he was having heart palpitations, so they’ve admitted him to the hospital for tests. I-I have to get home.” Kurt held the phone to his ear and finally looked up at Adam, his eyes shining with tears. “Come on, Blaine,” he whispered, closing his eyes in frustration, and forcing the tears down to streak his face. “Come on, pick up…”
After a moment, Kurt gave up, lowering the phone and hitting the disconnect button before dialing again. As he did, he paced back and forth, his hands shaking visibly as he raised the phone to his ear again. After a few moments, Kurt angrily threw the phone down, letting out a wordless cry of frustration as it bounced off the carpet and landed at Adam’s feet.
Adam picked up the phone and handed it back to Kurt, who stuck it in his pocket before pressing the heels of both hands against his eyes, drawing in a series of shaky, uneven breaths.
“Kurt… Kurt, look at me,” Adam gently instructed, moving around to stand directly in front of him.
“What am I gonna do? I have to get home!” Kurt gasped without moving his hands from his eyes.
Adam wasn’t sure if Kurt had even heard him – so he tried again, more firmly, reaching out to take the boy by the shoulders in an attempt to focus his attention.
“Kurt. You have to calm down, all right? It’s going to be okay…”
“If I had my car,” Kurt went on, lowering his hands and looking up at Adam with fearful eyes. “But we had to sell it to keep up with the tuition! I can’t… what am I supposed to do?”
Adam didn’t know the answer to that question – but in that moment, it was perfectly clear to Adam what he was supposed to do.
He glanced down at his watch before making his final decision and looking Kurt straight in the eyes, his tone firm and leading. “Go to your room and pack a bag, and meet me back here in half an hour. On your way to your room, call Carol and tell her I’m bringing you home.”
Kurt blinked in momentary confusion before offering a half-hearted protest. “But… it’s so far, and…”
“Kurt. I wouldn’t be offering if I didn’t want to do it, okay? Just go pack. Hurry, we need to hit the road.”
Kurt hesitated a moment, as if uncertain as to whether or not it was all right to accept such generosity – and then his face crumpled in a sob of relief, his shoulders falling as he nodded in grateful acceptance of Adam’s offer.
“Thank you,” Kurt whispered with tearful gratitude in his voice. “Thank you so much…”
“Hey, it’s gonna be all right,” Adam assured him gently. “Everything’s gonna be all right, Kurt.”
Instinctively, Adam wrapped his arms around the trembling, frightened boy, pulling him into a tight, protective hug. Kurt immediately responded to the gesture, burying his face against Adam’s chest and clinging to him. Adam could feel the heat of Kurt’s tears soaking through his shirt, could feel the trembling of Kurt’s fingers clutching at his waist as if Adam was the only thing keeping him together – and his heart sank in a moment of brutal, resigned clarity.
You are well and truly fucked.
After a minute or two of standing there in front of Adam’s desk, his teacher’s arms wrapped reassuringly around him, Kurt gradually seemed to regain his composure.
Adam placed his hands on the boy’s shoulders and gently pushed him back a little to meet his eyes.
“Go on,” he instructed quietly. “Go pack a bag – whatever you’ll need for a couple of days – and then meet me back here. I’ll drive you home, and I’m sure once everything is all right with your dad, someone in your family can drive you back to school. All right?”
Kurt looked up at him through red-rimmed eyes that shone with tears, nodding and sniffling. “O-okay,” he whispered hoarsely. He turned and started toward the door, stopping and turning to face Adam again after only a few steps. “Thank you,” he added, with such genuine gratitude that it nearly brought tears to Adam’s eyes. “Thank you so much.”
“No problem.” Adam waved it off with a reassuring smile. “Just get going, all right? We’ve gotta… get going.”
Adam returned to his office to wait, sitting down behind his desk and resting his head in his hands. He ran his fingers through his hair, letting out a frustrated sigh and trying to focus his anxious, conflicting thoughts.
It’s no big deal, he told himself. You’re just doing a favor for a student who has a family emergency. That’s all. No one in the world would think anything of it…
You’re just doing what any good teacher would do.
But deep down, Adam knew that wasn’t exactly true.
He knew that any good teacher wouldn’t have had the kinds of thoughts and feelings running through his mind when Kurt Hummel was trembling in his arms, crying into his shirt and holding onto Adam as if he was the only thing keeping him together.
Sure, Adam would have done the same thing for any student in a similar situation – but he highly doubted that he would have taken so much satisfaction in the opportunity. He wasn’t at all glad that Kurt was going through this, but he was glad to be the one that Kurt turned to for support.
And, as selfish and petty as it was, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction at the fact that Blaine Anderson hadn’t answered his phone when Kurt called.
Because that means you get to be the big hero, right? You get to be the literal shoulder he’s crying on…
… which is probably a very bad idea.
Yeah, he’s bright and funny and unbelievably pretty, and he has a crush on you, which just makes things even more… complicated… but he’s also sixteen years old – and even worse, incredibly vulnerable right now…
Adam swallowed hard, sitting up and steadying himself, his jaw set with determination.
You told him you’d do this, and there’s no one else – so you will.
But after this – you have to put a stop to this, Adam. You have to halt his little crush in its tracks, before it has the chance to ruin your life – or worse – his.
As they started out toward Lima in Adam’s car, Kurt was quiet and tense, staring out the passenger side window and not saying much of anything.
At first, Adam was relieved.
Then, he noticed the fresh tear tracks that stained the boy’s face, the way his lower lip was caught between his teeth, and his hands were clenched into taut, white-knuckled fists, one supporting his cheek against the window and the other resting on the knee of his dark-wash, impossibly tight jeans.
Adam hesitated, but then reached out his hand to rest over Kurt’s trembling, pale knuckles, careful to avoid touching anything besides his fist.
“It’s going to be all right, Kurt,” he said softly. “You’ll see. It’s just tests, right? Tests don’t necessarily mean anything – especially when he’s already had heart trouble in the past. It just means that his doctors are taking really good care of him, and looking out for any possible warning signs that might need attention, you know? It’s probably nothing to worry about.”
Kurt stared down at his lap, apparently not even noticing Adam’s hand on his, as he gave a slow, forced nod. “Yeah,” he whispered. “Probably nothing. Probably just…” Abruptly he jerked his hand free from Adam’s slamming it down against the seat between them with a frustrated groan as he leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes. “God, when are we going to get there?”
Adam retrieved his hand, drawing it back to the safety of his own leg, keeping his tone calm and reassuring. “We’ve been driving for a little over an hour now. Another hour and we should be there, Kurt. Just try to stay calm until then, okay? If we get there and it turns out that there is something wrong, well – save your energy for worrying if you actually need to, you know?”
To Adam’s surprise, Kurt let out a soft huff of laughter, pressing his thumb and forefinger against his eyes and wiping away his tears as he shook his head. He looked over at Adam with something amused and affectionate and achingly soft in his eyes, and Adam could only warily return his gaze for a moment before he was forced to look away, swallowing down the tight feeling of discomfort that was slowly lodging itself in his throat.
“Thank you,” Kurt said at last, his voice thick with emotion as he reached out to cover Adam’s hand with his own. “Thanks so much for doing this, Adam. You’re… you’re a really good friend.”
Kurt’s light, soft touch against the backs of his fingers, carelessly spilling over onto Adam’s thigh, set an unsettling fluttering sensation in motion in the pit of Adam’s stomach. He knew that the contact had been made in total innocence; Kurt was simply returning Adam’s affectionate gesture of support, trying to make it clear that the anger and frustration he’d expressed had been in no way aimed at Adam – but it simply amplified the dangerous naivety with which Kurt saw this situation between them.
He doesn’t think anything of just reaching out and touching like that, just because it feels right – and why should he? You just did the same exact thing, so how can you blame him?
And how could you blame him if he walked right up to you at lunch in the dining hall at Dalton and did the exact same thing?
He’s the innocent one here – and you’re the one with everything to lose.
“Thanks, Kurt,” Adam replied as he gently took Kurt’s hand and placed it on the seat between them, resting his fingers over Kurt’s and meeting the boy’s eyes with a warm smile to soften the potential blow of his actions. “I just want you to know that when I said I’d be there for you, I wasn’t just saying it to say it. I meant it. I’m… your teacher, and… and that means I’m there for you – and not just for an hour once a week.”
Adam forced himself to stop talking as he removed his hand from Kurt’s and placed it safely on the steering wheel, not sure whether the words coming out of his mouth, almost of their own accord, were helping or hurting the situation – not that he was all that sure at the moment of what the “situation” even was.
Thankfully, Kurt didn’t seem to feel the need to continue the conversation. He just nodded, apparently distracted from his worries, for the moment, by Adam’s kind words, judging by the soft smile and faint blush across his face.
So, hurting then. Definitely hurting the situation.
But if that’s the case, then why do you like seeing it so much?
Get it together, Lambert. The last thing you need is to be feeding this kid’s crush, making him blush and stammer and give you that beautiful, shy smile – focus, damn it! – in front of his family.
The last thing you need is… is a repeat of last year…
Finally, Kurt quietly pointed out a wooden sign that read “Welcome to Lima”, and Adam felt a sense of relief at the fact that this somewhat awkward, totally confusing road trip was drawing to an end. Kurt directed Adam toward the only hospital in Lima, where he parked the car in the Emergency Room parking lot and hurried to keep up with the boy as he raced across the lot and through the sliding glass doors, up to the check-in counter.
“Burt Hummel,” he gasped breathlessly. “What room is he in?”
Adam waited while the woman behind the counter looked up the information, and then directed them toward the correct area – which was, as it turned out, completely on the other side of the hospital.
Kurt didn’t even knock on the door of the room where he’d been told he’d find his father, and Adam hesitantly followed him inside, feeling as if he was intruding as Kurt immediately fell on the side of his father’s bed, hugging him tight, his shoulders shaking as he cried.
“Hey… hey, buddy… it’s all right…”
The man lying in the bed looked nothing like his son, and Adam would almost have thought they’d entered the wrong room – but there was no mistaking the gentle affection in the man’s voice, or the cautious, loving way in which his hand cupped the back of Kurt’s head, a callused thumb running soothingly through the hair at the back of his neck as he murmured soft, reassuring words.
“I’m okay, kiddo. I’m okay. Hey, look at me, Kurt. It’s fine, I promise…”
Adam looked away, touched by the powerful, loving emotion of the scene unfolding before him, and yet uncomfortable with observing something that seemed to be so intimate and personal. His eyes accidentally met those of the auburn-haired woman on the other side of Burt Hummel’s bed, and she gave him a welcoming smile that almost immediately made him feel more at ease. She nodded toward the door as she moved around the bed, opening it and waiting for him to step out into the hall ahead of her before she closed it.
“We’ll just give them a minute,” she explained unnecessarily, glancing back with sympathy toward the closed door as she took a seat in one of the chairs that lined the opposite side of the hall, gesturing for Adam to sit down beside her. “This is really difficult for Kurt. He lost his mother when he was very young, you know, and he tends to worry a little too much when it comes to things like this…” She shook her head slightly as if shaking herself out of her private thoughts, giving Adam a slightly too bright smile as she extended her hand. “I’m sorry. I’m Carole, Burt’s wife. You must be Mr. Lambert.”
“Yes. Adam,” he amended, taking her hand and squeezing it before letting go and taking the offered seat beside her. “Is… is he…?”
“He’s probably going to be fine,” Carole sighed, running a weary, shaky hand through her hair before giving Adam an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry you had to come all this way, but… but I’m glad you brought Kurt. He should be here, even if… even though it’s not really that big of a deal…”
“It’s no trouble at all,” Adam assured her. “I’m glad to help.”
“Burt started having chest pains this afternoon, and he just ignored it until he closed the shop up for the evening. Naturally, as soon as he got home and I heard about it, I brought him right here. The doctors said occasional pains are fairly common, and they might need to adjust his medication, but he’s probably fine. They just didn’t know for sure until they ran their tests, and there’s one or two results we’ll have to wait a couple of days for, but… but they’re pretty sure it’s nothing, and they’re about to send him home.” She fell silent for a moment, glancing toward the door again. When she broke the silence, her voice was heavy with uncertainty. “I… I hated to even bother Kurt with this – to scare him like this when it’s probably nothing, but… if it wasn’t nothing… and… and after his mom, I just… if something did happen, and he wasn’t here…”
“No, I totally agree,” Adam assured her, reaching out impulsively to squeeze her hand where it rested on the side of her chair. “You did the right thing, Carole. If it did turn out to be something serious, you know Kurt would absolutely want to be here.”
“Thanks,” Carole sighed with relief, leaning back in her seat. “I… I know that, but… but I feel terrible about putting him through this for nothing, and… it just helps to hear it from someone else.”
“Any time.” Adam smiled, charmed by her easy, open warmth.
When the conversation drifted away, however, he began to feel once again like he was intruding in a place where he didn’t quite belong. He cleared his throat as he rose to his feet.
“Well, let Kurt know I’m glad everything is okay, and I’ll see him on Monday. I’ll go ahead and get out of your way…”
“Now, wait just a second, young man,” Carole interrupted, standing up with him, one eyebrow raised in an expression of mock severity. “Just where do you think you’re going?”
Adam suddenly felt as if he was faced with his own mother, in a particularly guilty moment. He stopped short, blinking, momentarily at a loss. “I… I just…”
“What kind of people do you think we are?” Carole demanded, but the teasing sparkle in her eyes gave away her falsely sharp tone. “After everything you’ve done for us, the very least we can do is give you dinner.”
Adam blinked, caught off guard a little, before shaking his head. “No, that’s not necessary…”
“Unless you have other plans already?”
“No,” Adam admitted. “It’s not that, it’s just… I didn’t really do anything all that…”
“Nonsense,” Carole cut him off kindly but firmly. “You’ve at the very least earned a decent home-cooked meal. I cook a mean beef roast, and it’s in the oven right now. I can even guarantee it’s at least somewhat healthy, with Burt’s diet restrictions. I’ve been following them to the letter, because even with Kurt only home on the weekends, I know he’d still know somehow, and he’d never let me hear the end of it.”
Adam laughed, tucking his head slightly, imagining the sort of rant Kurt would go on if he found out that his father was eating anything less than the exact diet prescribed by his doctor.
“Come on,” Carole urged him, her voice softer, but more insistent. “Burt’s being released in an hour, and there’s no reason why Kurt should have to stay overnight on a school night like this. Why don’t you come for dinner, before the two of you head back?”
Adam didn’t miss the sly sparkle in her eyes as she spoke, her words deceptively casual. He knew she was using the idea of Kurt’s needing a ride back to Dalton as an excuse to get him to stay. Her smile softened with gratitude, her tone warm and genuine as she went on.
“We’d love to have you, Adam. Just for a couple of hours. What do you say?”
Against his better judgment, pulled in by the warmth of her invitation, and his own decidedly unwise curiosity that made him intrigued by the chance to spend time with Kurt in his own element – Adam finally relented.
“How can I refuse an offer like that?” he laughed. “Okay, I’ll stay. Just for a little while.”
This has got to be the worst possible idea right now...
Adam’s stomach fluttered anxiously at the thought of spending the rest of the evening with Kurt’s family. Of course, there was a part of him that found the prospect rather appealing – the part of him that had spent the last several weeks hearing all about Kurt’s family from him, to the point that he already felt like he knew them. On the other hand, however, Adam wasn’t exactly looking forward to trying to maintain an appropriate distance while not coming across as rude or unfriendly.
Of course, an appropriate distance might be a little easier to maintain if you hadn’t left any semblance of appropriate about three exits back…
His uneasy thoughts were interrupted as the door to Burt’s room opened, and Kurt emerged. Adam was immediately drawn in, as usual, by the image he presented – arms crossed over his chest in a gesture of protective restraint, expression calm and resolute, though his wide blue eyes were red-rimmed and glistening with recently shed tears. The boy was a strange and fascinating contradiction – strong, courageous resolve, spread too thin over achingly deep vulnerability.
“He said… the doctors said he can go home now.” Kurt’s voice was soft and controlled, yet hoarse from crying. “He’s just waiting for them to bring him the papers to sign.”
“Yeah.” Carole nodded sympathetically, rising from her seat and moving toward him, arms outstretched. “He’s all right, sweetie. I know I probably shouldn’t have scared you like that, it’s just… I knew you’d want to know…”
“You were right to call me,” Kurt assured her, accepting her hug, though Adam could see a certain amount of restraint behind it, as though Kurt wasn’t quite comfortable yet with accepting such open affection from her. “If… if it had been something serious…” His voice trailed off, and Adam felt a sympathetic pang as Kurt swallowed hard, closing his eyes. “You did the right thing,” he repeated at last, gently extricating himself from her embrace.
“So Adam’s coming to dinner before you two head back,” Carole announced, giving Kurt a bright smile. “Won’t that be nice? We don’t get to see you during the week very often, and we haven’t gotten the chance to know any of your teachers yet.”
“Oh. Oh, that’s great!”
Kurt’s eyes lit up in the first happy expression Adam had seen on his face all night, glancing over at Adam with a warmth that was impossible to miss – at least for Adam.
He desperately hoped that it was less obvious to Kurt’s family.
Just then, a boy who had a couple of inches on Adam rounded the corner into the hall outside Burt’s room, his arms laden down with about a dozen packets of chips, some snack cakes, and four cans of soda. He dumped the lot unceremoniously in the chair beside Carole’s before choosing a Diet Coke from the pile and holding it out to her.
“I got you a drink, Mom. Hey, Kurt!”
The boy smiled in pleased surprise when he noticed Kurt standing there, eyeing his appalling pile of junk food with unmasked disgust. Adam was fairly certain that Kurt was probably trying to think of the best way to keep any of that fattening, anti-nutritious crap as far away from his father as possible.
“When did you get here?”
“Just a little bit ago.”
Kurt finally looked up with a warm smile, opening his mouth as if to say more – and then closing it again. Adam caught the tentative little half-step forward he took before taking it back, but he was pretty sure Finn – because by this point, based on Kurt’s descriptions and their interaction, Adam was sure that this was who the newcomer was – hadn’t noticed at all.
Adam eyed the taller boy warily, remembering all that Kurt had told him about the tensions between them the previous year, when Finn had reacted to Kurt’s innocent crush with cruelty and prejudice. Of course, Kurt had also told him that Finn had learned from that mistake, and that they were getting along fine now, so Adam had told himself to reserve judgment until he actually met Kurt’s stepbrother – which at that point, he’d had no reason to believe he ever would – because he didn’t like to make a habit of judging anyone based on one side of the story.
But he had met Finn now, and Kurt’s obvious uncertainty around him brought out a protective instinct that Adam had a hard time suppressing under the best of circumstances.
He had all but decided not to like Finn, when the boy stepped forward, closing the distance between himself and his stepbrother and wrapping him in a warm hug. Kurt froze momentarily in Finn’s grasp, his eyes wide and startled over Finn’s shoulder – but then his expression softened with gratitude, and he closed his eyes and returned the hug for a moment before Finn pulled away.
“I’m so glad you’re home,” Finn said, his tone warm and his smile genuine. The smile faded almost immediately as he earnestly added, “Burt’s okay, though. The doctors said so.”
“I know.” Kurt nodded, blinking back tears again, though he was smiling up at Finn.
“But I’m still glad you came,” Finn added. Finally, he seemed to notice Adam, turning and extending a hand for him to shake. “Hey, dude.” He frowned, suddenly self-conscious as he seemed to remember that Adam was Kurt’s teacher. “Or… sir. I mean…”
Adam laughed with a little grimace of distaste. “Dude is fine,” he assured Finn. “Never sir.”
“You look more like a dude,” Finn observed with a nod, visibly relieved. “Not like a teacher at all, actually.”
“Good, ‘cause that’s kind of what I’m going for,” Adam replied, giving Finn a conspiratorial wink. “And you know, actually, why don’t we just go with Adam?”
“We’ll meet you at the house, okay?” Kurt called across the parking lot to Carole as he followed Adam toward his car. A hospital orderly was helping Burt get settled in the front seat of Carole’s van, while another folded up the wheelchair they’d brought him out in and carried it inside. “That way I can tell him how to get there.”
Carole nodded, giving him a smile and a thumbs up in lieu of shouting across the parking lot, before getting into the driver’s seat. Kurt turned back toward Adam, rushing to catch up – and was suddenly nearly bowled over from behind as Finn careened half-past him, half-into him.
“What are you doing?” Kurt demanded, looking back toward Carole’s van. “I thought you were already in the van…”
“I was.” Finn shrugged, his grin unrepentant. “I’m riding with you guys now.”
“No you are not,” Kurt argued.
Finn raised an eyebrow, his lips quirked up in a trace of a smirk. “Um, pretty sure that’s not up to you.” He bounded ahead a few paces, falling into step beside Adam. “Hey, Adam, can I ride with you?”
Adam glanced back over his shoulder as he stopped beside his car, pushing the button to unlock it. He passed a curious look between Kurt and Finn for a moment before shrugging.
“Sure. That’s fine.”
Finn waited for Kurt on the passenger side of the car, grinning with satisfaction. “See?”
“God, you are so embarrassing,” Kurt groaned, covering his face with one hand as he opened the passenger side door and pulled the front seat up, pointedly waiting for Finn to get into the back.
Finn frowned, more puzzled than offended. “Why would you be embarrassed?” he asked.
Kurt didn’t reply as Finn got in, and he replaced the front seat and got in himself.
“Oh my God.”
Kurt’s face flamed as he heard the note of sudden understanding in Finn’s voice, and he momentarily buried it in both hands as Adam got into the driver’s seat.
“Shut up, Finn,” he ordered in a tone that he hoped was threatening enough to ensure his brother’s silence.
“What’d I miss?” Adam asked, and Kurt looked up to find him smiling between them with amusement in his eyes.
“Nothing,” Kurt assured him with what he hoped was a sweet, innocent smile. “My brother’s just being an ass and getting on my nerves.”
“Isn’t that sort of my job description?” Finn pointed out, reaching forward to poke Kurt’s shoulder.
“Being an ass?” Kurt dryly countered. “Yes, Finn. Twenty-four seven.”
“No, getting on your nerves.” Finn poked him again.
Kurt let out a heavy sigh, fighting back a growl of frustration as he laid his head back against the head rest with a bit more force than was necessary and closed his eyes.
It was going to be a very long five-minute drive home.
Dinner was rather uneventful, but pleasant.
Burt and Carole asked polite questions about Adam’s job at Dalton, and their upcoming competition against New Directions. Adam complimented Carole’s admittedly delicious meal, before asking Finn about McKinley’s glee club, mentioning that he’d heard amazing things about New Directions from Kurt.
“How many amazing things?” Finn wondered with a frown, casting a disapproving look in Kurt’s direction. “You’re not spilling our secrets to the competition, are you?”
“What secrets?” Kurt stared at Finn, incredulous. “It’s show choir, Finn. Not the CIA.”
Everyone, including Finn, laughed, and Kurt felt some of his tension slip away.
He didn’t know why he was tense to begin with, really… except…
… except that for some reason, it was really, really important to him that his family make a good impression on Adam, and vice versa.
Which is dumb, he reminded himself. It’s not like he’d ever look at you twice. He’s your teacher. This is nothing more than a pointless little crush. So what if he thinks your family’s awesome, or weird and offputting, or boring? So what if they like him or not? It’s not as if you’re going to be getting married anytime in the – well, ever, since this is Ohio, but even if it wasn’t, still…
Not happening. Get over it.
“Kurt really seems to be enjoying the music program at Dalton,” Carole pointed out with a warm smile at Adam. “It’s all he seems to talk about on the weekends – Warblers practice and voice lessons. Mostly voice lessons.”
Kurt cringed inwardly, but forced a smile in return, hoping that Adam wasn’t reading anything into her comment – because there really was so much there to read.
“So how many solos has Kurt gotten so far?” Finn asked with a grin. “I mean, dude’s awesome, so… like, all of them?”
“No, that would be Blaine,” Kurt sighed.
“Oh, yeah. Kurt’s other favorite topic of conversation.”
“What? It’s the truth, isn’t it?” Burt held up his hands in an exaggeratedly defensive gesture, suppressing a laugh as he directed his attention back toward Adam. “But seriously. Why doesn’t Kurt have a solo yet?”
“What? I can’t take an interest?”
Kurt lowered his face into his palm, muttering through the obstruction, “I am literally going to die.”
“Assigning solos isn’t really part of my job,” Adam explained, his amusement clear in his voice. “That’s more something the Warblers’ Council handles. And upperclassmen usually get them first, because there’s so few solos and so many people who want them. But from what I know about Kurt’s voice, it shouldn’t be long before other people start noticing how amazing he is.”
Kurt could feel himself blushing, but this time, though he continued to feign embarrassment, he felt a shy sort of satisfaction at Adam’s words. He lowered his hand and glanced up at his dad for his reaction, unable to suppress a smile at the pride he saw on Burt’s beaming face.
They stayed for a couple of hours before Adam finally pointed out the time, regret in his voice as he ruefully eyed his watch.
“This has been so much fun,” he told Carole and Burt with a warm, genuine smile. “Thanks so much for having me.”
“Thank you for bringing my boy home,” Burt countered, rising to his feet to shake Adam’s hand again. “That was definitely above and beyond.”
“Any time,” Adam replied before turning to Kurt. “I’ll go start the car. Take your time, okay?”
Kurt nodded, grateful for the opportunity Adam was giving him, especially when Carole ushered Finn out of the room as well a moment later. Kurt turned to face his dad, and suddenly the bright, cheerful mood he’d been in for the past couple of hours fell away again with the memory of his father in a sickly green hospital gown, pale and vulnerable on a hospital bed.
Burt let out a surprised little huff of breath as Kurt suddenly barreled into him, holding on tight, burying his face against his shoulder.
“Hey, kiddo,” he soothed him quietly, and Kurt was reassured by the gentle strength of his father’s hand as it ran up and down his back. “It’s all right. I’m okay, remember?”
“I know,” Kurt sniffled, pulling back and nodding, staring down at the floor. “I just… you scared me.”
“I know – and I’m sorry,” Burt softly acknowledged, running a hand through Kurt’s hair and tilting his head up gently. “But hey – I’m following the doctor’s orders, okay? Carole’s making sure I do, since you’re not here to do it. I’m taking my medicine, and I’m taking care of myself, and I’m gonna be just fine, kid. Okay?”
Kurt nodded, biting his lower lip and meeting his father’s eyes again.
“You know, I think I’m the one who should be worried.” Burt slyly changed the subject, casting a pointed look toward the front door through which Adam had disappeared, though his mouth was twitching with suppressed laughter, his eyes dancing with amusement.
Kurt frowned, suddenly blushing again. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He knew he sounded defensive, and that wasn’t helping his case in the slightest.
“Just that I hope you’ll remember that you’re nothing more than jailbait to a guy his age,” Burt replied with a grin, nudging Kurt’s shoulder. “I know he’s good-looking and all, but kiddo, he’s a bit out of your league.”
“Oh, God.” Kurt lowered his head into his hands with despair. “Am I that obvious? Really?”
Burt’s arm wrapped reassuringly around his shoulders, and despite his embarrassment, Kurt took a certain amount of comfort from his father’s low, gentle chuckle at his side.
“Just to me, kid. Just to me.”
Yeah… and apparently to Finn...
Kurt’s stomach fluttered nervously as he made his way out to the car, thinking back over his actions of the evening, analyzing them in greater detail than he’d taken time to do before.
What about to Adam?
As he started the two-hour drive back to Westerville, Adam felt a comfortable feeling of relief and weary contentment slide over him.
Dinner with Kurt’s family had gone better than he possibly could have imagined. Kurt’s dad was just as Adam had pictured him from Kurt’s descriptions – in fact, Kurt’s whole family was. They had all been welcoming and friendly and warm, and Adam reassured himself with the knowledge that they hadn’t found anything inappropriate or suspicious about his relationship with their son.
Because there isn’t anything inappropriate about it. So you’re a little closer to him than most of your other students. Or, okay – any of your other students. So what? Teachers have favorites. It’s so true there’s a cliché about it.
And today, your favorite student had a family crisis, and you helped him out of it, like any good teacher would do.
What’s wrong with that?
Adam glanced over at Kurt, who was leaning his forehead against the car window and staring out into the blackness around them, just a trace of a smile on his lips, his eyes sleepy, but relaxed as Adam hadn’t seen him yet that day. Adam only realized that he was staring when Kurt seemed to sense Adam’s eyes on him, and turned his head, an innocently questioning look on his face.
Adam just smiled and focused his attention on the road again, clearing his throat self-consciously. Although he was no longer looking directly at Kurt, Adam could see the puzzled frown on the boy’s face out of the corner of his eye.
Shit. Knock it off with the staring already, Professor Creepy, or you won’t have to worry about the nature of your friendship with Kurt – because you won’t have one.
And if that happens, you might not have a job anymore, either.
“Thank you, again, Adam. Thanks so much for doing this.”
“It’s nothing,” Adam assured him, lifting one hand from the wheel in a dismissive little wave. “Seriously, Kurt, I’m just glad everything’s okay.”
“Yeah.” Kurt sighed. “Me too, but – that kind of just makes me feel even sillier about taking up your whole night like this…”
“You couldn’t have known, Kurt,” Adam pointed out gently. “And since you couldn’t have known, of course you had to go home, just in case.” He was quiet for a moment before adding, “It’s good that you care so much about your family, and… and it’s obvious they care about you too. Not everybody has that kind of support system.”
Kurt didn’t reply for a long moment, and when Adam glanced over again, he saw that Kurt was staring down at his cell phone in his hand. It was lit up, but the screen was blank.
Kurt sighed, looking out the window again. “Blaine never called me back.”
Kurt’s tone was casual, his words nothing more than a matter-of-fact observation, but Adam could hear the underlying hurt in his voice. His jaw tensed with anger as he thought back to the drive to Lima, and the tearful message Kurt had left on Blaine’s voicemail the second time he’d called him, telling him about the emergency trip and asking him to call as soon as he got the message.
So the little prick doesn’t have any excuse. It’s not like he didn’t know what Kurt’s going through…
He just didn’t care.
“That’s… not very thoughtful of him,” Adam observed, choosing his words carefully.
Kurt was quiet again, not agreeing with Adam, but not disagreeing either. When he spoke again, his voice was hushed and halting, thick with emotion.
“I think he’s… maybe he’s… losing interest. In me.”
“Well, if he is, then he’s an idiot.”
A protective flare of anger pushed the words past Adam’s lips before he even knew he’d thought them – and Adam cringed inwardly when a glance at Kurt revealed the boy to be staring at him, his startled expression slowly giving way to a pleased but shy smile.
“I mean… you’re pretty awesome, Kurt. As a person. You know, smart and talented and caring and… stuff,” Adam clarified, not wanting Kurt to take any possible sexual connotation from his previous words. “I can see that, and I’m just your teacher. I see you a few hours a week. If Blaine’s supposed to be your boyfriend, and he doesn’t see that – well, maybe you’re better off without him.”
Kurt looked away, biting his lower lip in that adorable manner that Adam found way too distracting, but he was still smiling, and even in the dim light of the dashboard, the blush that had crept over his face was obvious. Adam was torn between frustration with himself for further feeding Kurt’s feelings for him – and satisfaction that he’d successfully managed to distract Kurt from his feelings for Blaine.
It didn’t last long, though.
After a moment, Kurt’s smile faded away, and he shook his head sadly. “I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t think he… likes me. It’s just… well…” Kurt drew in a deep breath, visibly struggling to find words for a moment before he blurted out with vehement frustration, “It’s just that I’m such a freakin’ virgin!”
Adam nearly spit out the mouthful of soda he’d just taken all over the windshield. After he’d managed to get it down without choking, he turned his horrified gaze toward Kurt, barely managing to get out, “Wh-what?”
Kurt was staring at Adam, wide-eyed, with an expression of horror that pretty closely mirrored the way Adam imagined his own face to look. He let out a low, miserable groan, covering his face with his hands in obvious humiliation.
“I just said that out loud, didn’t I?”
“Uh-huh.” Adam nodded with a sympathetic little grimace, desperately hoping that Kurt's embarrassment would cause him to simply leave it at that.
“It’s just that… well…”
No such luck.
“I just… I don’t know anything about it. S-sex, I mean. We’ve talked about it – or rather, Blaine talked about it, but – I wouldn’t let him say too much. It’s just that – I’m not ready for anything like that yet, and – and it…” He hesitated, and when his next words came out, they were in a humiliated whisper that tore at Adam’s heart. “… it just. It scares me, that’s all.”
Adam ignored the warning bells going off in his mind, telling him that he should change the subject as quickly as possible. He just couldn’t let Kurt keep feeling like it was his fault if Blaine was being the selfish, sex-obsessed little dick that Adam knew him to be.
“… that’s all right. I mean… if it scares you, then… that just means that you’re not ready yet. You know?”
Kurt nodded slowly as if in acceptance, and Adam hoped that the conversation might end there – but then, Kurt’s brow furrowed with confusion, and his lips parted hesitantly, and Adam’s heart sank down to his shoes.
No, no, shit, no, I cannot be having this conversation with him, alone in my car in the middle of the night…
That’s what you get for being alone in your car with him in the middle of the night in the first place…
“It’s just… I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.”
“Why not?” Adam could have kicked himself the moment the words left his mouth.
Kurt was biting his lip again, and when he turned his wide, vulnerable eyes on Adam again, Adam had to struggle to keep his thoughts focused on things that were pure and helpful and not at all related to all the things that he could teach Kurt if given the opportunity.
“… what if I suck at it?”
Well… that might not be all bad…
Stop it. Stop it, you idiot. This kid – yes, kid, Lambert, so keep it in your pants – needs your help and support, not your perving over him like some kind of dirty old man.
“You won’t,” Adam assured him gently, mentally racking his brain for the right words to answer Kurt’s questions without crossing the line.
But who are you kidding? The line’s already so far back you can’t even see it anymore.
“As long as you don’t do anything you’re not ready for, Kurt – then it’ll happen when it’s right, and when you want it to happen. And then, it’ll be with someone that you love and you trust, and it won’t be – won’t be bad, because – that’s what it’s about, you know? The relationship with the person you’re – you’re doing those things with. So, if one of you doesn’t – doesn’t know as much, or isn’t as – skilled at something…”
Shit. How did the conversation get here? How did you get here? Shit, shit, shit…
“None of that will matter, because… if you love each other, then… it’s good because you’re… with the person you love. You know? Does that make sense? Does that help?”
Kurt was looking at him too closely, intently focused on his words, a puzzled frown on his face. He nodded slowly – then his frown deepened and he shook his head.
“Well, you know… the more you do it, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be…”
Adam immediately cringed, regretting the stupid words that might have been good advice for a twenty-something virgin, but not for his underage student who was currently looking at him as if all his hopes were pinned on the verbal mess that was spewing from Adam’s lips.
“Not that you should be doing it a lot. Not that you should be doing it, at all! I mean… don’t have sex. Yet. Since you’re not ready.”
Kurt laughed, and Adam felt his own face heat with embarrassment as he realized that he must have looked and sounded every bit as anxious and flustered as he’d felt. He sighed, raising one hand to his forehead for a moment and shaking his head, laughing silently along with Kurt.
“Don’t worry, Dad,” Kurt teased, and the mocking word made Adam feel relieved and confused and a little sick all at the same time. “I’m not having sex. Yet. Probably ever.” Kurt let out a frustrated sigh, rolling his eyes at himself. “I mean, we haven’t even gone that far, and even what little we did do freaked me out…”
All traces of amusement and relief faded from Adam’s thoughts, his stomach lurching at those words.
“What little you – what have you and Blaine done, if you – if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Nothing much,” Kurt laughed ruefully, shaking his head. He hesitated, looking out the window again as he continued, “Don’t worry. I – I haven’t even taken my clothes off, so – we haven’t gone too far.”
Something strangely guarded in Kurt’s tone made Adam uneasy, some niggling suspicion at the back of his mind – but Kurt was so innocent, so naïve, if he said they hadn’t gone too far, then chances were they hadn’t. Adam hesitated, wanting to push for more information – but then stopped himself, making himself focus on the road again.
No. This conversation has already gone way too far. If he’s going to drop it, then just… let it drop.
“It’s so easy to talk to you, Adam.”
Kurt’s voice was soft and a little wistful, and the open gratitude in it made Adam’s heart ache with sympathy and affection for the lonely boy who was placing so much – too much – faith in Adam to be the friend that he so desperately needed right now. Kurt looked at him again, giving him a trusting smile that made him feel guilty for the less than pure thoughts that had crossed his mind during the last few hours they’d spent together – and at the same time, relieved to see Kurt smiling and content.
“It’s just… before you, Blaine was the only other gay person I’d ever met, and… and now that we’re dating, it’s just – there are some things I can’t talk to him about, you know? And… my dad is totally there for me, all the time, and he’d listen if I tried to talk to him about this stuff, but… but I know him.” Kurt shook his head sadly. “I know it’d make him uncomfortable, especially anything related to – to dating, and – and especially sex.” He paused, smiling again as he met Adam’s eyes. “It’s just such a relief to know that I can talk to you about this stuff.”
“And… you would, right?” Adam was half-hoping and half-dreading the answer. “If something happens that… makes you feel uncomfortable, or you have questions… you would talk to me, right?”
The answer was immediate and certain, but the vaguely trapped expression Adam saw in Kurt’s eyes just before he abruptly broke eye contact made his heart sink.
Yeah, there’s something he’s not telling me here – something about Blaine.
And that means… he could be in trouble.
Memories of his past experiences with Blaine Anderson, and just how dangerous the boy’s selfish, reckless behavior could be filled Adam’s mind. Although Kurt wasn’t telling him everything right now, Adam knew that at the moment, he was the person most likely to be able to get past the defensive walls and find out just what was going on between the two boys.
If he’ll just open up to me… if I can get him to talk to me just a little bit more… then maybe I can keep what happened to Tyler –
Maybe I can keep anything bad from happening to Kurt.
As the conversation fell away, leaving them in more-or-less comfortable silence, Adam resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be extricating himself from Kurt Hummel’s life anytime soon.
Inspired by the conversation with Adam on their way back to Dalton, Kurt resolved not to let Blaine off easy when he saw him the next morning. Adam was right, he decided as he made his way to his dorm room that night. Blaine had been incredibly thoughtless in ignoring Kurt’s calls that evening, and he was going to have to come up with a pretty amazing explanation in order to talk his way out of this one.
Kurt resisted the impulse to try calling again or visiting Blaine’s room, although he was fairly certain that wherever he’d been all evening, Blaine would certainly be in for the night by now. He knew that to add yet another call to the half dozen or so he’d already made tonight would only serve to make him look pathetically desperate.
No, I’m not calling. Not again. He needs to make some effort. He needs to call me.
Kurt lay down in his bed, exhausted, but far from finding sleep. He stared into the darkness of his room, his heart aching and his stomach sick with uncertainty.
I needed him tonight. I was scared and upset and just needed my boyfriend to be there for me – and he was nowhere to be found.
Blaine – where were you?
Kurt’s resolve lasted about as long as it took Blaine to reach across the breakfast table and take his hand, his dark eyes wide and pleading and sorrowful as they searched Kurt’s face for forgiveness.
“Kurt, I just got your messages. I am so, so sorry. Is your dad okay?”
Kurt stared down at their joined hands for a moment, swallowing hard as, with an effort, he made himself withdraw his hand and place it on his lap. With as much control as he could muster and as much ice in his voice as he could put there, Kurt finally met Blaine’s eyes and replied.
“He’s fine, thank you. But your concern would have meant a lot more if it’d come when I actually needed it.”
“I know,” Blaine immediately replied, getting up and moving around the table to slide onto the seat beside Kurt’s. “I know, and I feel terrible! When I heard those messages this morning, I just – I was so worried and upset and guilty and – Kurt, I had no idea!”
Despite his anger and hurt over the night before, Kurt couldn’t help the automatic little catch in his breath at the feeling of Blaine’s nearness to him – not quite touching, but close enough to feel the heat radiating from his body. He looked away, biting his lower lip for a moment, wrestling with his own hurt and indecision. When Blaine cautiously reached out to touch him again, resting a gentle hand over the clenched, white fist on Kurt’s knee – Kurt didn’t pull away.
“I – I needed you,” he said softly, unable to stop the slight tremor in his voice. “I kept trying to call you, and… and why didn’t you get my messages until this morning? Didn’t you see that I’d called?” He looked up with a suspicious frown, searching Blaine’s face for the truth.
There was nothing but remorse in Blaine’s eyes as he leaned in closer, squeezing Kurt’s hand. “My battery died yesterday afternoon,” he explained. “So after classes I took it and plugged it in, in my room, and then left campus for dinner with a few of the guys. I didn’t think to check my phone when I got in, and I didn’t see the missed calls or messages until I turned it on this morning.” He was quiet for a moment, giving Kurt time to consider his explanation, before concluding softly, “I’m really sorry, Kurt. When I heard those messages – heard how upset you were – all I wanted was just to hold you, and… and be close to you, and… I’m so sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me, sweetheart. I’m so, so sorry.”
Kurt stared down at his lap, torn between the desperate desire to accept Blaine’s explanation and go back to the way things usually were between them, and the nagging suspicions lingering in the back of his mind – the tiny details that still didn’t seem quite right.
“So…” His voice was soft, trembling slightly, as he hesitantly persisted. “… you didn’t even, like… look for me at dinnertime, or anything? You said you went out. You – didn’t think – maybe I’d like to go with you?”
“Kurt.” Blaine’s voice was patient, but slightly reproving, and Kurt felt his face color with embarrassment at the tone. “We’ve talked about how it’s good to spend some time apart, right? You have your friends back home. I have my friends here, guys I’ve been friends with since way before you ever came here. And it’s good – it’s healthy – for us not to spend every waking moment together, right? We practically live together, Kurt. Please don’t tell me your feelings are hurt because I made dinner plans without checking with you.”
“No.” Kurt immediately objected, shaking his head, the heat of his shame filling his face, forcing his gaze downward, unable to meet Blaine’s eyes. “No, they’re not. I just… just wondered, is all…”
“And I’m sure it seemed worse because of what was going on at the time,” Blaine conceded. “You needed me, and I wasn’t around – but I didn’t know that until this morning,” Blaine reminded him. His tone softened immediately, once again taking on a note of deep regret as he tentatively slid his free hand around Kurt’s tense, unresponsive shoulders. “As soon as I heard your messages – realized what you’d probably been going through – I couldn’t wait to get to you, baby,” Blaine confessed in a hushed, private tone, barely over a whisper, leaning in so close that Kurt could feel the heat of his breath against his ear. “All I could think about was holding you… making you feel safe and okay again.”
As hard as he was trying to keep from showing how wounded and vulnerable he felt, Kurt couldn’t keep back the hot tears that filled his eyes at those words – just because he’d wanted exactly that so badly the night before, when it’d been denied him.
“Funny,” he admitted at last in a hoarse whisper, the faint beginnings of a bittersweet smile on his lips. “That’s all I could think about, too.”
A low, affectionate chuckle left Blaine’s lips, and his hand slid off of Kurt’s, moving slowly, higher up his thigh. “Well then what do you say we skip breakfast this morning,” he suggested softly, “and go make it happen?”
Half an hour in Blaine’s arms, cuddled close on Kurt’s bed – half an hour filled with gentle words of reassurance punctuated by soft, tender kisses – and Kurt was just about ready to forget Blaine’s failure of the night before.
After all, his story did make sense.
How many times had Kurt gotten in trouble for forgetting to charge his phone and missing calls from his father – calls that were probably far more important in the long run than the calls Blaine had missed last night? It wasn’t as if he’d done it on purpose. People sometimes just forgot things. Kurt could hardly blame him for something so innocent and accidental.
And the fact that Kurt had heard Blaine’s phone actually ringing rather than going straight to voicemail, as cell phones usually did when they were turned off – well, that could certainly be due to some kind of glitch in the system. Blaine had no reason to lie to him – wouldn’t lie to him, Kurt knew.
“Kurt,” Blaine whispered between soft but fervent kisses that trailed down in a tingling, heated path from Kurt’s lips to his throat. Blaine pulled impatiently at the stiff, starched fabric of Kurt’s Dalton uniform button-down, his mouth seeking to explore further than Kurt’s current state of dress would allow. “Kurt, you’re so gorgeous… so freakin’ hot, baby… so beautiful…”
Kurt relished the praise and affection, but the way Blaine’s mouth seemed to be trying to devour him – the way Blaine’s hands kept slipping just barely past the lines Kurt had set for them – set an uneasy fluttering in the pit of his stomach. One trembling hand fell to gently clasp around Blaine’s wrist, just as Blaine’s hand slid around to run gently over the soft swell of Kurt’s ass.
“Blaine,” Kurt whispered, breathless and urgent. “Blaine, wait…”
“You made me feel so good the other night, Kurt,” Blaine said, looking up at him with an adoring smile, and Kurt wasn’t sure whether Blaine had even heard his protest at all. “You made me feel so good – and last night I made you feel like crap. And I want to make it up to you, baby. I want to make you feel better than you’ve ever felt in your life…”
Kurt frowned, troubled as much by the intensity of Blaine’s voice as by the intent behind the words themselves. “Blaine… wait…” he repeated.
“Shhh, don’t worry, Kurt,” Blaine whispered. “Just trust me… just let me do this for you…”
One hand pushed gently but firmly against Kurt’s chest, pushing him back down onto the bed – and the other was suddenly palming the front of Kurt’s pants, stroking and pressing firmly through the stiff denim that covered Kurt’s half-hard cock. Kurt drew in a sharp gasp at the intensity of sensation the touch ignited. It was the first time anyone else had ever touched him there, even through his clothes, and it did feel good – but it also felt like too much.
“Blaine, I… I’m not sure…”
“Shhh,” Blaine repeated, his voice low and soothing. “It’s all right…”
You’ll know when it’s right… when you’re ready…
Kurt just sort of froze, torn between his own discomfort and desire to draw a halt to this, and the eager, hopeful look in Blaine’s eyes, the knowledge that this was something Blaine wanted, and had been wanting for a long time now. Blaine met his eyes with a warm, encouraging smile as his fingers closed around the zipper at the front of Kurt’s jeans and began to pull it down.
“No, stop… Blaine, stop!”
His stomach lurching with panic, Kurt scrambled backward up the bed, one hand pulling himself up into a sitting position while the other clumsily pushed Blaine’s hand away. Blaine sat up too, a frustrated frown creasing his brow as he gave Kurt a silent, questioning look.
“I just… I’m n-not ready, okay?” Kurt stammered, wrapping his arms around his knees, biting his lower lip self-consciously as he forced himself to meet Blaine’s disapproving gaze. “I just… I’m sorry, but… I’m not ready for this much yet…”
“When will you be ready, Kurt?”
Kurt flinched slightly at the unexpectedly sharp tone of Blaine’s voice, his mouth suddenly dry and his heart racing with apprehension. “I… I’m sorry, I just… I know I – I don’t feel ready now…”
“You’re never going to feel ready, Kurt,” Blaine sighed, his exasperation clear in his voice. “At some point you’ve just got to take a chance and try something new, you know?”
Kurt shook his head, his thoughts going back to the conversation he’d had with Adam on the drive home. He swallowed hard, looking up to meet Blaine’s eyes with mingled fear and resolve.
“I think… when I’m ready, I’ll know. And – I’m just not yet.”
Blaine was quiet for a moment before nodding slowly, once, as if in acceptance of Kurt’s decision. When he spoke again, his voice was soft and controlled in a way that set a pit of fear in Kurt’s stomach.
“Well… then maybe you’re not ready to have a boyfriend yet, either.”
“W-what?” Kurt stared up at Blaine as he rose from the bed, straightening his clothes and sliding his feet back into his shoes. “Blaine – what are you saying?”
“I’m not trying to be mean, Kurt,” Blaine explained with a matter-of-fact little shrug. “It’s just… if you’re not mature enough for – certain things – then maybe you’re not mature enough to be dating. You want to have the romance and excitement of a relationship – but I don’t think you actually want to have a relationship…”
“But I do!” Kurt insisted, getting up off the bed and following Blaine toward the door. “Blaine, I do want to be with you…”
Blaine shook his head slowly with a sad smile, reaching out to gently squeeze Kurt’s hand for a moment before letting it go with a heavy sigh.
“That’s not what it feels like from here.”
“Blaine… wait a minute. Can’t we just talk about this?” Kurt pleaded, a desperate ache building in his chest, an overwhelming sense of panic and despair as Blaine opened the door and stepped out into the hall.
“Sure we can,” Blaine replied gently. “Just as soon as you figure out what you want.”
And without another word, he turned and walked away, leaving Kurt standing there alone in his doorway.
Kurt flinched as the door to his room slammed shut, standing
there in shock and staring as his mind tried to catch up with what had just
One minute, everything had been fine – normal – and then,
suddenly, it wasn’t. This wasn’t really anything new; several times already, he
and Blaine had made out on one of their beds – and several times before, when
it had started to go farther than making out, Kurt had told Blaine he
But this was the first time that Blaine had ever walked out
Kurt played it over in his mind again and again, trying to
make sense of how he had ended up like this, hurt and confused and alone in his
room, with his boyfriend long gone.
Blaine walked out on me…
I told Blaine I wasn’t ready for sex, and – and he told
me I wasn’t ready for a boyfriend and he walked out on me…
… how could I have been so stupid?
Kurt hurriedly adjusted his rumpled, disarrayed clothing,
intent on going after Blaine and making this right – but he froze with his hand
on the doorknob, biting his lower lip anxiously as he stared down at it and
suddenly wondered what exactly he was going to say, anyway.
It’s not like I can magically be ready, just because he
wants me to – and that’s what he wants. I can’t give him that.
But – I have to give him that, eventually, don’t
I? I mean – I can’t ask him to wait for me forever. He’s been out a long time
already, been – active – a long time already, and of course he wants to
be with someone that’s able to give him what he needs.
What does he expect me to do?
I just – I thought that Blaine, of all people, would
Kurt returned to his bedside table, his legs shaking as he
sat down on the side of the bed and picked up his phone. The ominous thunder
just beyond his window seemed to emphasize the growing fear in the pit of his
stomach, as he scrolled through the numbers until he found one he’d never yet
had the need to actually call – but this was a special case. He pressed “send”
and waited for the phone to ring – cursing under his breath when instead, it
went straight to voicemail.
Kurt tossed the phone down on the mattress beside him in
irritation, crossing his arms over his chest and trying – in vain – to regain
What am I supposed to do?
He considered for a moment before making a decision and
crossing the room to his desk, where he sat down in front of his laptop and got
online. He hoped against hope that he would find the information he needed as
he typed the name into the Yellow Pages Web site.
If he’s unlisted… if it’s not there...
Kurt pulled on his jacket and headed out the door, down the
stairs and out of his dormitory into the night, just as the rain began to fall.
“So, naturally you decided that your only option – the only
possible thing you could do under the circumstances – was to take your
underage, openly gay student who just so happens to have a massive crush on you
– and on whom you have a little bit of a crush back…”
“I do not…” Adam objected, but he knew the flush building in
his face was already giving him away.
“… on a fucking late night road trip.” Brad went on
as if Adam hadn’t spoken at all, his sweet southern drawl carrying a note of
none-too-subtle mockery. “Yeah. I can see how that one has loads of potential
outcomes that don’t totally suck for you.”
“What was I supposed to do?” Adam turned away from the
refrigerator, pint of Chubby Hubby in hand, and leaned against the counter to
face his ex-slash-friend-with-occasional-benefits, as he reached into the
drawer beside him for a spoon. “Leave him standing there looking all pitiful
and scared to death and…”
“Unbelievably fucking pretty?” Brad smirked.
Adam let out an indignant – and entirely too defensive –
huff, avoiding actually answering by taking a bite of his ice cream instead.
“Is Kurt a pretty crier, Adam?” Brad teased. “I bet he is,
isn’t he? You could never resist a pretty crier. I should know.”
“Jealous?” Adam retorted, raising a single brow in
challenge. “Don’t worry. I’ll always love you best.”
“Please,” Brad scoffed, rolling his eyes as he leaned back
in his chair, trailing one hand slowly up one of his parted thighs in a way
that was bordering on obscene, despite the fact that he was fully clothed and
sitting in the middle of Adam’s kitchen with a bowl of ice cream in front of
him. “Your little piece of jailbait couldn’t be this pretty if he
“First of all, the term ‘jailbait’ doesn’t really apply,”
Adam pointed out, too casually, he knew, “because he’s sixteen, and sixteen is
legal in the state of Ohio…”
“Really, Adam?” Brad eyed him dubiously, his tone flatly
incredulous. “That’s what you’re going with, here?”
“… and I wouldn’t go to jail even if I did hook up
with him – which I’m not going to do…”
“No, you wouldn’t go to jail,” Brad conceded, sitting up
straight, and there was something severe in his gaze and his tone as he met
Adam’s eyes and continued, “Just lose the job that you love – which you almost
lost a year ago under suspiciously similar circumstances, need I remind you –
not to mention any chance of any other job working with minors, ever…”
“I know, okay?” Adam sighed. “That’s why I’m not
going to do anything, I already said! There’s nothing to worry about!”
“Well, ex or not,” Brad replied, his tone softening a bit,
though he was still eyeing Adam distrustfully, “me worrying about you is one
piece of baggage you’ll just have to accept. I’d lose every shred of my
self-respect – not to mention my best friend cred – if I let you make a shit
storm of the pretty fucking awesome life you’ve got going for yourself at the
Despite himself, Adam felt a rush of affection for his
friend, and he allowed himself a grudging little half-smile, his shoulders
falling with defeat. “I know,” he admitted. “And I’m pretty glad I’ve got you
around to listen to me, because there is no one else in the world I could ever
talk to about this.”
“I know.” Brad’s tone was casually smug, as was the knowing
smile he gave Adam in return.
Adam’s tone changed in an instant, however, with the dark
turn of his thoughts, as something Brad had said struck him.
“And… the thing with Tyler was nothing like this.”
“I wouldn’t say nothing,” Brad pointed out, his voice
taking on a sort of forced lightness, as if trying to press his point without
being offensive. “He had a massive crush on you, like Kurt.”
“Yeah, but I wasn’t attracted to him.” Adam found his own
tone growing sharp with irritation in response to Brad’s words. “It wasn’t the
same at all.”
“No,” Brad conceded quietly. “It wasn’t the same. It
Brad didn’t finish, but Adam knew what he wanted to say –
and he also knew that like it or not, Brad was right.
“Just looked the same,” he finished for Brad with a
sigh, his shoulders falling as he raised one hand momentarily to cover his
face. “I know. But…” His voice was tired and smaller than he meant it to be. “…
that wasn’t my fault…”
All lingering traces of amusement immediately vanished from
Brad’s expression, and for the first time during the conversation, he looked as
if he felt a little bit guilty.
“I know,” he acknowledged gently.
“Stupid fucking Blaine Anderson…”
“I know,” Brad repeated, his voice soft and conciliatory,
“and it was probably horribly bitchy of me to bring it up. I was just trying to
– to make the point: stupid fucking Blaine Anderson nearly cost you your
job, Adam. I just don’t want to see anything like that happen again.”
“It won’t,” Adam insisted. “I’m being careful.”
Brad didn’t have to say anything this time. The dubious look
on his face was more than enough to make Adam look away, embarrassed, and amend
“I will be careful. More careful. No more road
trips, and the first chance I get I’m gonna find Kurt another voice teacher,
“Wait a second. Kurt’s boyfriend is stupid fucking
Blaine Anderson,” Brad interrupted, his eyes narrowed suspiciously as he
watched Adam’s face for his reaction.
frowned, nodding slowly and scooping out another large bite of ice cream.
“We’ve been over that. That’s the biggest problem in all of this. Blaine’s
pulling the same shit with Kurt that he pulled with Tyler, and I can’t do
anything about it without it looking just as bad as it did back then – worse,
maybe. But I can’t just let Kurt get sucked in and taken advantage of by that
little – little predator…”
“No, of course not,” Brad agreed in a tone that sounded
nothing like actual agreement. “You’ve gotta play the fucking hero, don’t you?
And in the process probably get fired from Dalton – just like Kurt’s boyfriend
wanted in the first place. Right?”
Adam’s frown deepened, and the annoyance he’d felt at Brad’s
initial lecture began to come back. “What exactly are you trying to say?”
“I’m just wondering – how well do you really know
your pretty little protégé?”
Adam considered the implications of Brad’s words for a
moment before shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “No,” he stated firmly.
“No, Kurt is not capable of that kind of deception. If you’d met this kid,
you’d know – there is no way that he could pull off something like that
without it showing all over his face.”
“He’s a gifted performer with admitted Broadway dreams,”
Brad pointed out flatly. “Don’t tell me he can’t act.”
Adam hesitated. “No,” he repeated after a moment. “That’s
just not Kurt. Brad, I know you’re worried for me, but Blaine’s the
manipulative, lying little shit. Not Kurt. Kurt’s a sweetheart.”
“Of course he is,” Brad drawled. “You can tell by his pretty
“Fuck you,” Adam snapped, though the words carried more
peevish irritation than actual anger. “I’m not a complete moron.”
A hint of a smile reappeared around Brad’s pretty lips, and
his dark eyes sparkled mischievously, and Adam had the general idea of what he
was going to say even before his soft, lilting voice broke the silence.
“Those who know you best might beg to differ with that.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Adam took the bite of ice cream, and made his
muffled retort around it. “And again I say - fuck you.”
“Nope,” Brad flippantly replied as he rose from his seat to
take his bowl and spoon to the sink. “Had your chance.”
Adam gave him a playful slap on the ass as he put the lid on
the ice cream and stuck it back in the freezer, mentally congratulating himself
on doing so before it was more than half empty – especially given the current
state of his emotions. Despite their bickering and name-calling and general
bitchiness with either other, being around Brad was good for Adam’s mood –
helped him to clear his thoughts and make sense of an entirely confusing
“Anyway,” Adam sighed as he left the kitchen and headed into
his living room, reaching for the remote as he flopped down on the sofa and
patted the spot close beside him. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Let’s
just turn on the movie so I can forget about Dalton and Kurt and stupid fucking
Blaine Anderson for one night, and just relax.”
“Sounds good to me,” Brad agreed with a grin as he sat down
and leaned into Adam’s side. “I’m getting sick of hearing you bitch about it,
Adam didn’t have time to press play before the doorbell rang.
He sighed in frustration as he struggled to get out from
under Brad and to his feet, muttering in irritation as he made his way to the
door. A fresh peal of thunder sounded as he opened it – and froze in shock at
the sight that met his eyes.
Kurt Hummel was standing there on his doorstep, his narrow
shoulders hunched in against the driving rain, his arms crossed over his chest
in a pathetic attempt to shield himself from the cold. His normally pristine
hair was sopping and plastered against his forehead, and his eyes were wide and
swimming with tears. When he opened his mouth to speak, his lower lip trembled
dangerously, and his voice was small and broken.
“I – I didn’t know what else to do. I just – I really need
to talk. Can I come in?”
“I’m sorry.” Kurt pulled his coat tighter around him, shifting nervously from one foot to the other, suddenly looking as if he wished he hadn’t come at all. “I just – I didn’t know what to do…”
“No, it’s okay,” Adam insisted, trying to ignore the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach warning him that this was a huge mistake, as he stepped back out of the doorway to allow Kurt to move past him. “Come on, come inside. Let’s get you out of the rain, sweetie.”
Adam glanced at Brad, who was still comfortably seated on the sofa, his legs drawn up under him, not even trying to hide the mischievous light of amusement in his eyes as they drifted unashamedly back and forth between Kurt and Adam.
“Sweetie?” he mouthed pointedly when Adam caught his gaze.
“Shut up,” Adam mouthed back with a warning glare as he reached to help Kurt out of his soaking wet coat, taking it and hanging it on the rack by the door.
“I just – I…” Kurt’s trembling, distracted words fell away as he finally noticed Brad. “I’m sorry,” he said with an embarrassed little grimace, turning back toward the door. “I didn’t know you had company. I’m sorry, Adam. I’ll just – I’ll go…”
It was tempting just to let him – but the sadness on Kurt’s face, the wet shine of his eyes that told Adam he’d been crying, wouldn’t allow Adam to just let him walk away.
“No, Kurt, wait a minute,” Adam objected, reaching out a hand to rest on the boy’s shoulder and turning him back around. “It’s okay. Something happened, didn’t it? Come on, let’s sit down and talk about it…”
“Yeah, don’t mind me,” Brad offered breezily with a little wave of his hand. “I’m just part of the furniture around here.”
Those words were met by a slightly suspicious frown from Kurt, and Adam suddenly felt incredibly awkward, standing there between his ex-boyfriend, barely suppressed laughter in his eyes as he took in the boy who meant to be his competition – the boy who was now looking Brad up and down appraisingly, even as he straightened, carrying himself a little taller, his chin lifting in a subtle but defiant challenge.
“Would you like some tea, Kurt?” Adam offered, partly because it was what he always wanted when he was upset, but mostly as a means to escape, if only for a few minutes.
“Yes, thank you,” Kurt's voice was soft and demure as he sat down a bit stiffly on the opposite end of the sofa from where Brad was sitting, still casting uncertain, vaguely hostile glances in the direction of his perceived competition.
Brad just smiled innocently back at him before rising from the sofa and heading toward the kitchen after Adam. “I’ll help,” he offered. “I know my way around your kitchen well enough.”
As soon as the kitchen door had swung shut behind them, Adam spun on his heel to face Brad, hissing, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
“What? I’m helping.” Brad tried for innocent, but the tremor of laughter in his voice gave him away. “Come on, Adam. It’s best if he knows he doesn’t have a chance, right? Because he doesn’t. Right?” Humor gave way to a pointed, warning look on the last word, and Adam had to look away.
“Right,” he agreed grimly, turning toward the sink and filling his teakettle with water before placing it on the stove. “I’m just – not sure it’s working like you think it is. Kurt’s… competitive…”
“Honey,” Brad drawled, giving Adam an indignant look. “That’s like saying a Persian kitten is in competition with a tiger…”
“He’s not in competition with anyone,” Adam sighed. “And I don’t want him to think he is. That might just make things worse.”
“Or, he might think that you’re taken and lose his illusions that you’re an option for him,” Brad pointed out.
Adam didn’t answer, considering Brad’s words and wondering if maybe he was right. Maybe it was a good thing that Kurt had come when Brad was there. Maybe he would get the wrong idea about their relationship, and stop flirting and touching and trying – except – Kurt wasn’t really trying.
Kurt was just – being who he was.
And Adam was fucked, because just that was more than he could handle.
“By the way… pretty crier,” Brad observed, changing the subject only slightly as he opened a cupboard and took down three mugs. “Knew it.”
“Shut up,” Adam muttered, raising a hand to press forefinger and thumb against his temples before drawing in a shaky breath and letting it out slowly, trying to calm his swiftly fraying nerves. When he finally looked up again, Brad was leaning against the counter beside him, studying him with a calm but worried look.
“You know this is a really bad thing, right?” he pointed out, all humor gone now from his tone. “You know if anyone ever found out he was even here tonight…”
“I know, okay?” Adam snapped, agitated. “What was I supposed to do? Send him back in the rain without having any idea of what’s going on? Just let him walk home in the dark, in the rain, in the middle of the night?”
“That’s how he got here, isn’t it?”
Adam shot a glare in Brad’s direction, and Brad sighed and shook his head, relenting.
“Okay, yeah. That’s colder than you’re capable of being. But – Adam, this is your job we’re talking about…”
“I know, it’s just – something must have happened for him to come all this way, on foot, in this weather – and he’s clearly really upset. Blaine must have done something, and I’m the only person he talks to about that, and I can’t just send him away…”
“I know,” Brad conceded gently.
“It’s just – I guess it’s a good thing you’re here, right?” Adam pointed out, trying hard to be optimistic. “You’re a witness that nothing inappropriate happened, and that he came here on his own. I didn’t like – lure him here or anything.”
“Right,” Brad replied, his tone too bright as he picked up the sugar bowl and cream pitcher, heading toward the door. “We both get to look like sexual predators and sabotage our careers.” Adam opened his mouth to object, but Brad just rolled his eyes and sighed, “Kidding. Now get back out there before your skittish little kitten bolts back out into the storm.”
Kurt gratefully accepted the steaming, sweetly scented mug that Adam offered him, breathing in the soothing fragrance before taking a tentative sip. Adam sat down on the sofa beside him, and the other man, to whom Kurt had yet to be introduced, took his place on the other side of Adam – sitting all too close for Kurt’s liking.
“So,” Adam spoke up at last, reaching out to place a gentle hand on Kurt’s arm, and then swiftly drawing it back, swallowing hard and glancing away before meeting Kurt’s eyes again, “what happened? What’s wrong?”
Kurt glanced uneasily past Adam to his guest, who had drawn slender legs up under him, folding himself into a comfortable position – and looking as if he felt altogether too at home in Adam’s apartment. An uneasy, sick sort of feeling began in the pit of Kurt’s stomach, and he swallowed it back, meeting Adam’s eyes uncertainly.
“I – I don’t really want to say in front of – of…”
“Brad?” Adam glanced at the other man, an expression of slight surprise on his face. “He’s okay. We’ve been friends a long time, and I trust him. And besides, he doesn’t know anyone you could possibly be talking about, so – so there’s no reason to worry about his saying anything…”
“I just… I…” Kurt hesitated.
“Kurt.” Adam’s voice was gentle, but firm, and Kurt stopped abruptly. Something in Adam’s tone made his face flush with self-consciousness, and he looked away, feeling inexplicably guilty. “I’m your teacher. It’s… it’s not really appropriate for you to be here – alone with me. You know? I mean – it’s better if there’s – someone else…”
“Oh. I-I’m sorry.” Kurt suddenly felt very young and very stupid. “I should’ve – I mean… this was dumb, I shouldn’t have…”
“It’s okay,” Adam assured him. “Look, we can…”
“I can chaperone from the kitchen,” Brad offered with a too-sweet smile as he rose to his feet, sliding his hand across Adam’s shoulder in a gesture that was unsettlingly intimate before giving Kurt a little wink – and Kurt wasn’t able to decide whether it was friendly or mocking. “I have enough secrets of my own.”
Kurt waited until Brad had disappeared into the kitchen to look up at Adam again. “I’m sorry,” Kurt repeated. “I shouldn’t have just come over. I didn’t know you had – company, and – and I shouldn’t have assumed…”
“Kurt, you’re welcome to come to me any time you need to talk,” Adam assured him, and the earnest sincerity in his voice was reassuring, despite the muddled insecurities and questions that filled Kurt’s mind. “I just want to make sure that we’re not – not doing anything that might get either of us in trouble, you know?”
Kurt nodded. “I know.”
“Okay.” Adam seemed relieved, his shoulders falling slightly as he let out a shaky breath. “So – why don’t you just tell me what happened? Did Blaine do something?”
The sound of Blaine’s name was almost enough to cause Kurt to break down again, but drew in a deep, shuddering breath and struggled to maintain control of his emotions, at least long enough to tell Adam what had happened. His words were halting and uncertain, but he finally managed to get the story out and let Adam know what had just happened between him and Blaine. He looked up at Adam pleadingly, miserable with confusion and hurt.
“You said I shouldn’t do it if I – if I wasn’t ready, and – and I’m not, but – he just left, and – and maybe I should’ve just let him…”
“No.” The word was sharp and emphatic, anger clear in Adam’s voice, and Kurt looked up at him uncertainly, blinking back tears. “No, Kurt, you absolutely did the right thing. You shouldn’t let him push you around like that, and try to make you do anything you’re not comfortable with. If he’s going to talk to you that way and walk out on you just because you told him you want to wait, well – then you’re definitely better off without him, Kurt.”
Adam’s tone was sincere and concerned, and Kurt knew on some level that he was right. It was the same well-intentioned advice he’d heard all his life, long before it had anything to do with sex, back when it was just “peer pressure”.
Anyone who tries to push you into doing something you feel is wrong is someone you should avoid. Anyone who stops being your friend because you won’t do something you don’t feel right about isn’t much of a friend to begin with.
You ’ re better off without that kind of person in your life.
But the very thought of simply writing Blaine out of his life – rejecting the entirety of everything they had shared, everything that Blaine had meant to him during the past few hellish months – over one little mistake made Kurt feel physically ill. A vague sense of panic clouded his thoughts at the anticipation of such a loss, and he swallowed back his disappointment with Adam’s advice.
He just doesn’t understand, Kurt realized with frustration. How could he possibly know what this feels like? He’s never been rejected by anyone in his life – because who in their right mind would reject him? He’s so confident, knows just what he wants. If some guy was stupid enough to give him that kind of ultimatum, it wouldn’t matter. It’s not like he couldn’t find someone else in a split second.
Blaine is the only person who ’ s ever really wanted me.
How can I throw that away?
“I just – I’m not sure I can…”
“Kurt.” Adam reached out to place a gentle, supportive hand over Kurt’s, and Kurt fell silent, closing his eyes against the hot prickle of tears that threatened at the sympathetic touch. Adam’s voice was soft, knowing. “You deserve so much better than this. Stand your ground. If he can’t see what he’s got in you, then the boy is fucking blind.”
Kurt felt his face warm with a sense of pleasant embarrassment, and he found himself smiling a little in spite of himself.
“I’m so proud of you,” Adam continued. “A lot of guys your age wouldn’t have the strength to hold out for their own rights like you’re doing.” He was quiet for a moment. “Kurt – you’re stronger than you know.”
Kurt hesitated a moment, and when he found his voice, it was low and thick with tears. “I – I don’t feel strong,” he confessed. “I feel…”
“What?” Adam pressed gently after a few moments, gently squeezing Kurt’s hand in encouragement.
Kurt didn’t know what he was going to say until he’d already said it, the word slipping past his lips before he could think to pull it back.
“You’re not,” Adam assured him. “You’ve got an amazing family, and friends who love you – and I’m here for you, Kurt. No matter what that selfish little asshole does or says…”
Kurt looked up to study Adam’s face, a little startled and curious at the unexpected vehemence of Adam’s tone.
“’Cause, well – only a – a selfish asshole would – would treat you like that.” Suddenly, Adam’s gaze was difficult to catch, his words abruptly less certain and steady than they’d been a moment earlier. “Anyway – what I’m trying to say is – I’ve got your back, Kurt. Okay?”
Kurt smiled, genuinely touched. “I know,” he replied, realizing as he said it that he did know – had known for a long time.
“So – would it be too much to ask for a ride home?”
Adam smiled, hesitating just slightly. “How about I call you a cab?”
Brad waited to come out of the kitchen until Kurt had left the apartment in the cab that Adam had called for him. At least Adam had had the good sense not to put the boy in his car again for another late night drive – not that he’d done much else to protect himself, at least from what Brad had heard and seen when he’d peeked around the kitchen doorway.
“Well – that went well,” he observed flatly. “No mixed signals or inappropriate closeness there.”
“Shut up,” Adam hissed, closing his eyes and covering his face with one hand – and the sheer exhaustion and frustration in his voice was enough to tell Brad that he’d pushed just short of too far. “Please, just – just shut up.” Adam’s tone was soft and defeated.
Brad didn’t like hearing him sound like that.
After a moment, Adam added with a heavy sigh, “I’m totally screwed, aren’t I?”
Brad offered a sympathetic smile that Adam couldn’t see, since he was staring morosely off into space. “I’ll visit you in prison,” he offered by way of consolation.
Adam promptly flipped him off, and Brad relaxed a little.
Apparently, Adam wasn’t too depressed yet.
“I do see your problem, though,” Brad admitted with a sigh. “You can’t exactly turn him away – not when he’s a breath away from falling into Blaine Anderson’s bed.”
“He is, isn’t he?” Adam grimly agreed. “I feel like only every other word or so was even getting through tonight. What am I supposed to do?”
Brad couldn’t offer any answers – only silent support, as he sat down beside Adam and wrapped an arm around his shoulders from behind, resting his head on Adam’s shoulder.
“He has to know you’re on his side,” Brad observed. “And I think he does. And – that might be enough to keep him from giving in when the little prick puts the moves on. But Adam – I just want to make sure that you’re okay in all of this – that you’re not putting yourself at risk…”
“I know,” Adam conceded, nodding slowly, reaching up to take Brad’s hand, leaning back slightly against him. “I know.”
“It’ll be all right,” Brad found himself saying, though he wasn’t really sure he believed it yet. But it would be, if he had anything to do with it. “You’ve got his back…” He paused, raising his head from Adam’s shoulder and waiting until Adam turned to meet his eyes to give Adam a warm, bright smile. “… and I’ve got yours.”
Kurt tried his best to accept Adam's advice and follow through with it that week at school. Of course, that was made more difficult by the fact that Blaine made no attempt to talk to him whatsoever for the first couple of days. Kurt resisted the urge to panic – to immediately seek him out and apologize, to beg for forgiveness and promise to try to do better – because it wasn't his fault, Adam had said, and he believed it – for the most part.
It made sense, after all. It was what responsible, concerned adults were constantly telling kids his age.
Don't let anyone push you into something you don't want to do. Don't be afraid to say no.
If he really loves you, he'll be willing to wait until you're ready...
Kurt just couldn't quite shake the idea that it was his not being ready that was really the problem. If he could be ready, could be what Blaine wanted, then there wouldn't be a problem, would there? He was the one with the weird sex issues, so why should Blaine have to cater to his immaturity and insecurity?
Kurt stopped short in the doorway to the cafeteria, his hand tightening around the strap of his messenger bag as his eyes locked onto Blaine, halfway across the room from him. He was surrounded by a group of boys, most of whom were raptly listening to his every word – but none more intently than Jeremy, a young, attractive freshman that had been sitting at their table for meals lately. He never had much to say to Kurt, and in fact Kurt had caught him glaring in his direction a time or two – but he had nothing but smiles and laughter and gushing, awkward praise for Blaine.
And today, Blaine seemed to have no problem laughing and smiling – and touching, why was he touching Jeremy's arm like that? - right back.
Jeremy's, what? Fifteen? At the most?
And he certainly seems more than willing to do anything Blaine asks.
Kurt felt sick at the thought.
He had no idea how long he'd been standing there, staring across the room at a table that he couldn't possibly join, not right now, with the way things had been left between him and Blaine. He finally realized that some of the other boys were staring, and struggled to breathe, to relax and try to look normal, with an effort unclenching his hand from around the strap of his bag – only realizing how tightly he'd been holding onto it when it actually hurt to loosen his grip.
Kurt was prepared to go on into the cafeteria, get his tray, and make his way to an entirely different table – when Blaine suddenly looked up, his dark eyes locking onto Kurt's from across the room. Kurt froze, his heart lurching at the way whatever Blaine had been saying trailed off into silence, and his gaze softened with something sad and hopeful and hesitant.
Kurt swallowed hard, replaying Adam's words in his mind.
Don't let him talk you into it. If he loves you, he'll respect your needs...
With an effort, he turned on his heel and strode abruptly out of the cafeteria and down the hallway. Behind him, he barely heard the muted din of Dalton's students eating their lunch – but he heard enough to know that it hadn't changed. They hadn't stopped talking, or started talking about him, or in any way changed what they'd been doing.
They hadn't even noticed that he'd gone.
Blaine's voice was urgent, echoing in the hall, but Kurt hurried his pace, not wanting to stop, not wanting to give Blaine the chance to talk him out of his decision.
All at once, Kurt felt a hand on his arm, gentle but unyielding. Before he could even think to try to pull away, Blaine had steered him out of the hall and into a narrow alcove along it, out of sight and unlikely to be noticed by any of the few passersby that might come that way during the lunch hour. Kurt jerked away from Blaine's hand just as Blaine turned him around to face him; but there was nowhere to go except back against the wall behind him, so Kurt just glared defiantly at Blaine through the tears that blurred his vision.
“Get away from me,” he demanded hoarsely.
“Please, Kurt.” Blaine's voice was softer now that Kurt couldn't so easily walk away from him, but no less pleading. “I just want to talk to you. I – I miss you, so much!”
Kurt's heart ached with the words he'd wanted to hear so badly during the past couple of days, but he looked away, swallowing back his tears.
“I was wrong, Kurt, okay? Is that what you need to hear? I made a mistake. I just – I just miss you, and I want us to be like we were,” Blaine confessed miserably, running his hands up and down Kurt's arms, edging in and then back again, as if he wanted to hold Kurt, wanted to kiss him, but knew better than to dare at the moment.
Kurt closed his eyes, unable to keep back the tears that burned them. He hesitated over the words before finally admitting softly, “You – you really hurt me, Blaine.”
“I know,” Blaine conceded in a hushed, conciliatory tone. “I know, and I'm so sorry. Kurt, it's just – I want you so bad. I just – just want us to be together, you know? Like, really together, and – and it's so hard for me to wait, but – but I will, okay? I will wait, Kurt, if you'll give me another chance.”
Kurt looked up at Blaine, blinking to clear his vision, biting his lower lip as he wrestled with his own hurt feelings and desperate desire for exactly what Blaine was promising.
And this is what Adam was talking about, wasn't it? He said if Blaine loved me, he'd wait – and he's saying he's willing to... so...
…it worked. Right?
“I love you, Kurt,” Blaine whispered, edging in close again, dark eyes pleading and earnest as they met Kurt's gaze. “I just want to be with you. Any way you'll let me.”
When Blaine finished closing the distance between them, his lips brushing, soft and warm and full against Kurt's mouth, Kurt immediately yielded to the kiss, accepting it and returning it, his trembling hands falling to clutch at Blaine's waist and pull him closer. And when Blaine deepened the kiss, Kurt went with it, relieved that things were as they should be between them again.
And when Blaine's hands began to wander, sliding the hem of Kurt's uniform shirt out from his slacks and reaching a warm, callused hand up under it to caress Kurt's skin, Kurt accepted it, although he wasn't exactly comfortable with this level of exposure. It was unlikely that anyone would see them in their shadowed little corner, but the risk of getting caught, the risk of disciplinary measures that his father would certainly find out about, made Kurt a little nervous.
The risk of starting a fight, just now when they'd only just reconciled, made Kurt more nervous.
It's okay, he told himself. He's just glad we're back together – and so am I.
He loves me, and I love him – and I just don't want us to fight anymore.
If I asked him to stop right now – he would – and that's all that matters.
But Kurt didn't ask, because a part of him didn't want to stop. He didn't ask, because he didn't want to upset Blaine just when things were going so well. And he didn't ask, because maybe – just maybe – a tiny little part of him wasn't completely sure that Blaine would listen if he did.
“I don't know. I just – I just want to be sure that he's not pushing you, you know?”
Kurt frowned, feeling more than a little defensive, despite Adam's cautious, calm tone of voice. “He said he was sorry,” he repeated, not for the first time since they'd started this little excursion to Westerville’s single outdoor shopping mall. “He said he loves me, and he's willing to wait.”
It was a beautiful afternoon, warm enough to be pleasant, but with a cool breeze every now and then, and Kurt had been looking forward to this trip since they’d planned it a couple of days earlier – but Kurt wasn't having as much fun as he'd expected. This was partially due to Adam's overprotective, less-than-thrilled reaction to the happy news that he and Blaine were back together – and partially due to the fact that for some inexplicable reason, Adam's friend Brad had come along with them.
“I stood my ground, like you said,” Kurt reminded Adam, a stubborn note creeping into his voice. “And it worked. I got Blaine back, and it happened without me having to do anything I'm not ready for.”
“I know,” Adam conceded, “and that's great. It's just – with you two just getting back together, things are probably kind of – fragile, right now. Just don't – don't let him use that to talk you into things you might not otherwise say yes to, you know?”
“He wouldn't do that,” Kurt insisted. “Blaine isn't like that. He loves me.”
Adam didn't answer, but Kurt could sense his disapproval – and he didn't like it.
If there was one person whose opinion mattered as much to him as Blaine's, it was Adam. Kurt didn't like thinking that Adam thought he was making a bad decision, or behaving irresponsibly – but Adam just didn't understand.
If he knew how I felt about Blaine – if he knew how much he's done for me, how much I need him right now – then he'd understand...
“Hey, guys, why don't you go on ahead to the restaurant?” Adam suggested as they reached the edge of the area where the restaurants were, at the end of the long row of shops down which they'd been walking. “I've got to make a quick return right here.” He gestured to the sign over their heads, which Kurt couldn't quite read from his position; but the windows of the shop were filled with various pieces of unique and interesting silver jewelry. “Go ahead and get us a table, and I'll meet you guys there, okay?”
Kurt didn't really want to go with Brad; he would have rather stayed with Adam while he made his return. But he supposed there was no way to express that sentiment without being terribly obvious about it, and therefore rude to Brad.
And while Kurt really couldn't have cared less about that, he knew that Adam might have cared a little.
As they walked toward the restaurant they'd already chosen for lunch, neither Kurt nor Brad said a word. Kurt hesitated for a moment, searching his mind for something casual and conversational to break the silence – and finally settled on the least casual question he could have asked, but the one that had been plaguing his thoughts since that night at Adam's apartment.
“So – you and Adam...”
“Yes?” Brad pressed when Kurt trailed off, with a slight smirk of amusement that Kurt found infuriating. “Me and Adam...?”
“You're – together?”
“We were,” Brad explained. “Now we're just friends. Or you know – maybe not just friends, but – well – not boyfriends.”
Kurt was quiet for a moment, considering, before pushing his hesitations aside and asking what was really on his mind.
It wasn't as if he cared what Brad thought of him, anyway.
“How long did you two wait?”
Brad's eyes widened, and a trapped expression crossed his face for a moment before he hedged, “Well, it's not the same thing, Kurt. We were older – much older, and – and it's different when you've already dated before and you've graduated high school, and you're both mature and...”
“Never mind,” Kurt muttered, looking away, feeling inexplicably sick and unhappy at the information, which was more than he'd really wanted to know, after all. “I get it.”
Brad was quiet for a moment before continuing slowly. “No. No, I don't think you do...”
“Well, I don't think you get it,” Kurt snapped quietly, his gaze focused on the sidewalk in front of him. “I don't think Adam gets it. It's really easy for you two to tell me to hold out and wait, when you don't have to. It's easy to say that when you're not alone.”
“Adam's not with anyone right now,” Brad pointed out. “He hasn't got a boyfriend, either. But he's not going to go randomly sleep with whoever offers just so he won't be lonely.”
“What about you?” Kurt demanded, turning his gaze on Brad pointedly, wondering even as he spoke the bitter words where the nerve was coming from to do so. “You're really going to tell me that you guys don't do anything? Ever?”
Brad opened his mouth as if to respond, but no words came out. After a moment he closed his mouth again, swallowing hard. “That's... kind of a personal question. Look – Kurt...” He hesitated before trying again. “You're smart and talented and – and ballsy as fuck, based on the last thirty seconds of conversation. And this is just one phase of what's going to be a very interesting, adventurous life for you. There's no need to rush things and – and compare what you've got going on to what – or who – someone else might be doing. This part – the part where everything's scary and new and you don't feel ready – it won't last...”
“Yeah,” Kurt cut him off with a sigh, stopping short on the sidewalk. “It will. It will if I let it.”
Brad frowned. “Kurt...”
“I'm just gonna go,” Kurt said abruptly, turning in the opposite direction and walking away. “I'm not hungry anymore.”
Adam frowned as he approached the table where Brad was sitting, on the patio of their chosen restaurant.
Brad was sitting alone.
“Where's Kurt?” he asked, immediately concerned. “What happened?”
Brad bit his lower lip, a grim expression in his eyes as he visibly weighed his words before finally responding. “We just had a conversation, and – it did not go well.”
“That’s it?” Adam blinked, shaking his head in confusion. “Just a – a conversation, and he – where’s he going?”
“If I’m right,” Brad sighed, rising to his feet. “He’s on his way to go make the biggest fucking mistake of his young, inexperienced life.”
Their planned leisurely dinner forgotten, Adam and Brad made their way swiftly back down the promenade, Adam anxiously listening as Kurt’s phone rang and rang – but no one answered.
“Hey, Kurt, it’s Adam,” he said at last when Kurt’s voicemail picked up. “Look – I’m not sure why you took off so quickly, or what you’re planning to do right now, but – will you please just call me before you do? Please? The only reason to do – what I think you’re going to do, is – is because you’re really ready and you really want to share that with the person you’re with, and – and I’m just not sure that you do, Kurt.”
Adam swallowed hard, feeling sick with worry at the thought of Kurt’s giving in to Blaine’s pressure, just because he thought he had something to prove.
“I – I care about you. Whatever I said – whatever Brad said – it’s just because we’re concerned, you know? I just don’t – don’t want you to do anything you’ll regret later, so – so just call me, okay? Right away. Please.”
Adam stopped on the sidewalk, the phone still held to his ear for a moment. He wanted to say more, but at the moment he couldn’t seem to find the words. He lowered the phone, closing it and putting it away, raising one hand to cover his face for a moment and drawing in a sharp, shaky breath.
“Fuck,” he whispered, trembling with frustration. “Fuck.”
“I’m sorry,” Brad offered gently, stopping beside him and placing a hand on his shoulder. “You know – in the sense that I wish this hadn’t happened. Not in the sense where I did anything wrong, because I tried my best to talk some sense into that pretty little head of his, but – the thing is, Adam – he’s a teenage boy.” Brad hesitated, before continuing ruefully, “If he wants to go have sex – that’s what he’s going to do.”
“That’s just it,” Adam sighed, changing direction and turning to head toward the parking lot. “I don’t think he wants to – but I think he’s going to, if we can’t find him before he gets that far.”
Kurt hesitated just a moment before bringing his fist down sharply on the door to Blaine’s dorm room – before he could think about it enough to stop himself from going through with what he’d already decided to do. His heart raced, his palms damp and hands trembling, and he half-hoped that Blaine wouldn't be there, that he might be spared the follow-through of the actions he’d just taken.
After a few moments, however, Kurt heard the faint sounds of movement on the other side of the door – and then it was open, Blaine standing there in front of him in a pair of pajama pants and a plain white t-shirt, his dark curls loose and unruly in a way that made it perfectly clear that he hadn’t intended to leave his bedroom again that night.
That’s fine… he doesn’t have to…
“Kurt.” Blaine blinked, clearly surprised to see him. “What--?”
Kurt didn’t give him time to finish his question – didn’t give himself time to change his mind – before practically launching himself at Blaine in an eager, if awkward, kiss. Blaine froze for a moment, clearly startled, before responding, fumbling blindly behind Kurt to push the door to his dorm room closed. Kurt was encouraged by the feeling of Blaine’s hands, firm and certain, one at his waist and the other behind his head, pulling him in closer even as Blaine stepped forward to press Kurt up against the door.
Breathless, Blaine at last pulled back, a bewildered, bemused expression in his eyes. “What – what brought this on?”
Kurt studied Blaine’s face for a moment, his heart racing with anticipation, before responding in a voice that was almost as bold as he wanted it to be.
Blaine frowned slightly, shaking his head in confusion – and then his eyes went wide, his lips parted with surprise.
“I am,” Kurt insisted. “I want to be with you, Blaine. Really – be with you.”
“You’re – you’re sure?” Blaine’s tone was concerned, but his dark eyes sparkled with a delight that he wasn’t quite able to hide. “I mean – Kurt, I meant what I said. You don’t have to…”
He loves me, he does, whether or not I do this…
Kurt’s heart soared with relief and affection for his boyfriend, and a renewed desire to go through with this, to make him happy – to give him what he wanted, all the more because he was so willing to go without it for Kurt’s sake.
Adam was wrong about him. He’s not pushing me into anything. He wants to be with me whether I do this or not…
“I’m sure.” Kurt nodded. “I love you, and – and I want to give this to you, Blaine. I want…” He could feel the slow rush of heat creeping over his face as he stumbled over the words, hoarse and low in his throat. “I want my first time to be – with you.”
“Oh God, Kurt, me, too.” Blaine’s dark eyes were nearly black with desire as he pulled Kurt close to him, backing up toward the bed. He stopped before they reached it, however, lowering his head to Kurt’s shoulder. “Wait,” he groaned. “Not – not here. I don’t want to get kicked out of school, you know? And if we get caught…”
“Oh.” Kurt was becoming used to the strange feeling of mingled disappointment and relief that seemed to accompany the end of every physical encounter with his boyfriend. “Well – well, where, then?” When Blaine didn’t answer immediately, he sighed. “I wish one of us was eighteen, so we could just – go get a hotel room or something.”
Blaine slowly raised his head, his eyes lighting up with inspiration, before he abruptly released Kurt and rushed to sit down on the edge of his bed, taking his wallet from the drawer in his nightstand. With a triumphant grin, he held up a shiny silver card for Kurt to see.
“Who says you have to be eighteen?” he countered slyly. “It’s not like they can check ID over the phone, now, is it?”
“A credit card?” Kurt was surprised, and more than a little impressed. “Where did you--?”
“My parents,” Blaine explained. “Since I’m living away from home, they figured I might need it for emergencies.” He glanced down at the card before giving Kurt a rueful smile. “I’m pretty sure this isn’t what they had in mind – but there is no question in my mind that this absolutely counts as an emergency.”
Kurt stared at the card in Blaine’s hand, picturing how the rest of the night would go – the two of them hurriedly packing a few things, stealing away to Blaine’s car and leaving campus together. He imagined the two of them, locking themselves away from the rest of the world in a cozy, comfortable little room where their only focus would be each other, and giving themselves completely over to the curiosity and desire that they’d been resisting for so long.
Romantic. Innocent. Perfect.
He couldn’t have imagined it happening in any more perfect way than this – and suddenly, his doubts came rushing back to the surface.
Oh, God… I don’t think I’m ready for this…
“You have no idea how much this means to me, Kurt.”
Blaine was close to him again, looking up into his eyes with an adoring, grateful gaze. Softly, slowly, he leaned in to kiss Kurt’s mouth, and Kurt felt a stirring deep down, a slow heat building and beginning to overwhelm his uncertainties again.
Blaine drew back, his voice hushed and reverent as he promised, “You’re not going to regret it. This night is going to be magical, Kurt – just like you wanted. I promise.”
Kurt wondered through the fuzzy haze of confused, conflicting desires and feelings assailing him, whether or not he’d ever actually told Blaine how he wanted this moment to be. He’d always been painfully shy when it came to matters relating to sex, and he couldn’t imagine that he’d ever have been so bold – didn’t think he’d ever even allowed his mind to compose this particular scene.
How could Blaine be sure what he wanted right now, when Kurt wasn’t sure that he knew?
But his decision had been made, and he couldn’t bear the thought of the disappointment, the frustration, on Blaine’s face if he should change his mind again. And a part of him did want this – did want to make Blaine happy and make their relationship stronger, but also just to experience what he’d been missing all this time, just to know what it was like – to experience the mysterious wonder that sex was supposed to be.
You’re ready, he told himself. It’s like Blaine said… you’re never going to feel ready. You just have to go with it – just have to let it happen…
Blaine loves me. It’ll all be okay.
A single phone call and ten minutes later, the two of them were in Blaine’s car, heading toward downtown Westerville, and the nicest hotel the small town could claim – neither of them noticing as a familiar vehicle pulled past them into the parking lot.
Adam’s worried gaze was drawn toward the lighted windows of the Dalton dormitories as they pulled into the parking lot. He glanced away, scanning the cars parked in rows on either side.
“I don’t see Blaine’s car.” Adam frowned. “Maybe he’s not here. Maybe Kurt won’t find him right away, and I’ll have the chance to talk to him before…”
His voice trailed off, as he couldn’t bring himself to voice his fears. As Adam parked his car in its usual spot, Brad sighed, reaching for the door handle.
“Look,” he reluctantly announced, “I’m gonna go. I don’t think I should go up to the boys’ dorms. I don’t think that’d look right. And as much as I know you’re not going to listen, I don’t think it particularly looks right for you to go either, but…”
“But I need to find him,” Adam finished. “I need to stop him from doing this – if this is really what he’s going to do.”
Brad nodded grimly, clearly knowing Adam too well to think he could talk him out of this. “Just – call me as soon as you know anything, okay? You know – just to let me know you didn’t end up doing anything too stupid tonight.”
“Okay.” Adam got out of the car, moving around it as Brad did the same, to briefly embrace his friend. “Thanks,” he whispered. “I just – I have to make sure he’s okay. I can’t – I can’t let this happen again, you know?”
“I know,” Brad sighed. “Just – be careful.”
“I will, I promise.”
Adam waited until Brad’s car had pulled out of the parking lot to make his way toward the dorms. When there was no answer at Kurt’s room, he wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or worried.
He finally decided the answer to that depended on what he found at Blaine’s room.
There was no answer there, either.
That was when Adam decided that it was okay to allow himself to really worry. Because if Blaine’s car was gone, and Kurt and Blaine were both gone with it – then he had no way of knowing where they’d gone, and therefore no way of stopping Kurt from doing whatever he’d intended to do when he’d stormed off at the mall.
He’s going to lose his virginity to some selfish little asshole in the backseat of a car, like the sad fucking cliché that that is – and all because you weren’t able to help him see that he’s worth more than that – weren’t able to protect him from this, just like you weren’t able to protect Tyler…
Oh, Kurt, please… please don’t do this…
But when Adam tried Kurt’s phone again, he still wasn’t answering.
And with no way of knowing where Kurt and Blaine were headed, and therefore no way to stop them – there was nowhere for Adam to go but home.
Kurt froze just inside the doorway of the spacious, ornate lobby into which Blaine had just led him, staring around him with awe.
“You didn’t tell me you were getting a room at the nicest hotel in Westerville,” Kurt whispered as Blaine stopped, turning back toward him with a questioning look at his hesitation.
Blaine smiled when he understood, shrugging modestly. “Well, unless you count the Super 8 across the tracks that charges by the hour, it’s also Westerville’s only hotel. And I’m sorry, but there was no way I’d take you there.” His smile softened, and he moved closer to Kurt, taking both of his hands and leaning in, his lips a mere breath away from Kurt’s. “I want this to be special. For you.”
Kurt felt his heart rate quicken at Blaine’s nearness, as well as the hushed, sweetly suggestive tone of his voice. He swallowed hard, looking away with the sudden shyness that came over him, feeling his face flush self-consciously as he nodded.
“It is. I mean… it will be,” he softly assured his boyfriend – and maybe also himself.
“It will be,” Blaine agreed, gently squeezing Kurt’s hand. He was quiet for a moment, waiting until Kurt’s uncertain gaze found his again before adding, “I know you’re nervous. I am, too. But – but I also know I love you, Kurt. And I’m ready to share this with you.”
Despite his uncertainties, Kurt felt a smile rise to his lips in response to the warmth and affection in Blaine’s dark eyes. “I – I love you, too,” he whispered. “And – and I’m ready.”
The words played over in his mind, a desperate, emphatic chant in his thoughts as Blaine presented an ID to the clerk that identified him as being 21 years old, and then led Kurt to the elevators and up to the room that he’d purchased. Over and over, Kurt told himself that he was ready for this, this was what he wanted – until he could almost fully believe it.
I do want to be with Blaine. That much is for sure. I want to make him happy, want him to be satisfied with me, and not have any reason to look anywhere else… I want him to want me, and only me, like this, forever…
And whatever that’s going to take – that’s what I want.
Kurt was stunned once again out of his thoughts when Blaine unlocked the door, and he got his first look at the room Blaine had acquired for them.
He had certainly spared no expense.
The bed was enormous, and made up with puffy, luxurious bedding that appeared incredibly soft even from the distance with which Kurt was viewing it. The room was beautifully decorated in dark, rich shades of red and mahogany, the lighting low but warm and welcoming, as Blaine took his hand and led him further into the room before quietly closing the door behind them.
The soft clicking sound made Kurt’s stomach drop, and he spun around to face Blaine, feeling his hands begin to tremble, his brow breaking out in a cold sweat. There was such a certainty to the sound – such a symbolic finality – that Kurt found himself suddenly panicking, lips parted as he struggled to find the words, but could only manage to shake his head slowly, at a loss.
“Kurt,” Blaine murmured, closing the distance between them and gently wrapping his arms around Kurt’s waist. “It’s okay. Easy… there’s no hurry, okay? We can take this as slowly as you want. All right? I want this night to be all about you.”
Kurt closed his eyes, leaning his head forward to rest against Blaine’s and drawing in a couple of deep, shaky breaths. “Blaine, I… I’m sorry,” he whispered when he finally found his breath. “I just… this is just all so… so much, and…”
“It’s okay,” Blaine repeated gently, raising one hand to run soothingly through Kurt’s hair. “We’ll take our time. I want this to be amazing for you, Kurt.”
His hand shifted to tilt Kurt’s head back, just enough for Blaine to capture his mouth in a sweet, slow kiss that made his mind go fuzzy and his fears momentarily recede to the background of his thoughts. Kurt’s hands, tentative and uncertain, moved to rest at Blaine’s hips, though he wasn’t sure if it was to draw him closer, or to hold him at a certain distance. When at last they broke the kiss, Blaine smiled lovingly into Kurt’s eyes, his own dancing in the dim light.
“Why don’t you take a minute,” he suggested, his voice hushed and secretive, “and go into the bathroom and get ready – get settled in and comfortable - and just come out when you’re ready. Okay?”
Kurt nodded, relief breaking over him, mingled with the heady, breathless rush that came with Blaine’s kiss.
Okay… yeah. You can do this. Just… take a moment to compose yourself, to build up your courage… you can do this. You want to do this… for the sake of your relationship.
Kurt quietly closed the bathroom door behind him, then took a deep breath before he looked in the mirror – trying to stop shaking, trying to smile, trying to look even a fraction less terrified than the image he saw of himself, wide-eyed and pale and about a split-second from bolting right out the door. Muffled by the closed bathroom door, he heard what sounded like a faint knock, and nearly jumped a mile. He froze, listening carefully, and heard the sound of two quiet voices – Blaine’s and someone else’s, from just beyond the door.
A moment later, Blaine knocked softly on the bathroom door.
“Room service,” he explained. “In case you’re freaking out thinking it’s your dad or something.”
Kurt’s stomach lurched, and he swallowed hard, closing his eyes. A soft thump against the door followed, and Kurt could almost see Blaine leaning his head against it, his voice rueful and embarrassed as he continued.
“And… that’s probably the least sexy thing I could have said right now. Just – forget I spoke. Carry on. I’m – waiting desperately for your return.”
Kurt couldn’t help the smile that Blaine’s deliberately over-romantic dramatics always brought to his lips. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, smoothing his hands down the front of his pants and looking at himself in the mirror once more. This time, his sheer terror had faded into a more reasonable level of nerves – something he assumed was more normal for any 16-year-old boy poised on the edge of his first time.
It’s normal to feel this way, he reminded himself. And that means – it’s not going to get any easier. Just – just go out there. Blaine’s waiting. He’s been waiting – but you can’t expect him to wait forever.
Kurt took a deep breath and opened the door, stepping out into the bedroom – and stopping short, his breath catching in his throat at the transformation that had taken place in the room he’d left only a few minutes earlier. The lights in the room had all been turned off, but he could still see clearly, the room warmly illuminated by nearly two dozen candles arranged artfully throughout the room – lining the dresser, on the table and the nightstands, on the floor along the wall.
The candles allowed him to see clearly the blood red rose petals that formed a path from the bathroom doorway to the bed, where Blaine was leaning against the foot of it, his legs crossed gracefully, his arms propped up against the mattress. There was a satisfied smile on his lips, but something vulnerable and shy in his eyes, and a slight tremor of nerves in his tone as he shrugged slightly and softly explained.
“Turns out room service will deliver just about anything.”
Kurt felt the cold coil of fear that had been tightening in his chest ever since leaving Dalton begin to warm, breaking apart and melting away as he slowly closed the distance between them. His wide eyes scanned the room, taking in every detail of the romantic scene Blaine had arranged with very little advance notice, and then at last coming to rest on his boyfriend, looking up at him shyly through dark, lowered lashes.
“Blaine, this is… this is amazing.”
Blaine’s shoulders relaxed with visible relief, and he uncrossed his legs, sitting up a little and placing his hands on Kurt’s hips to draw him in close between them.
The edge of his mouth quirked with wicked amusement, and that was the only warning Kurt got before Blaine gave a sharp little tug with both hands, pulling Kurt forward and off balance so that he fell forward on top of Blaine on the bed with a little yelp of surprise. Blaine laughed, gazing up at Kurt adoringly, and then Kurt was laughing too, breathless and heady with anticipation, his fear all but forgotten.
This was Blaine, and Blaine loved him, and Kurt loved Blaine, and this was what you were supposed to do when you loved someone, wasn’t it? This was the next logical step in their relationship – the symbolic act that would take them to the next level of commitment, of adulthood, of love.
Blaine abruptly caught his arms and flipped them so that Kurt suddenly found himself on his back on the bed, Blaine hovering over him, his dark eyes filled with affection and desire and something dark and desperate, and Kurt had never before been so acutely, vibrantly aware of being so wanted – as if in that moment, he was the only thing in the world that mattered to Blaine – the one thing that Blaine would do anything to possess.
And in that moment – it felt amazing.
See? You do want this, just as much as he does.
It’s going to be okay… it’s all going to be okay…
Adam spent the weekend in a state of worry and uncertainty.
Kurt wasn’t taking his calls.
He’d tried to reach the boy numerous times, leaving several messages on his voicemail – but not one had been acknowledged.
“Hey, Kurt, it’s me, just – wanted to make sure you made it back to campus okay. I guess you’re at home – you did go home for the weekend, right?”
You’re not spending the weekend with that little prick, are you? Please, no…
“You just took off in such a hurry, and – and I’m just wanting to make sure you’re not – you know, lying in a ditch somewhere…”
Or lying in Blaine’s bed, making the biggest mistake of your life. Come on, Kurt…
“… just… just answer your phone. Please?”
When Monday morning arrived, Adam was relieved by the knowledge that whether Kurt wanted to talk to him or not, he’d almost certainly see the boy in the halls at Dalton, and at least know that he was physically all right – and maybe be able to get some kind of an idea of whether or not he’d gone through with what Adam was almost certain he’d intended to do when he’d run off at the mall.
A passing glance as Kurt hurried past on the way to his next class, alone, head bowed and books clutched tightly to his chest, revealed nothing more to Adam than the simple fact that at least he was there, at school – but apparently still avoiding Adam. He didn’t stop by Adam’s office doorway to say hi, or even smile and wave as he passed. In fact, he seemed to be deliberately moving quickly as if to prevent any chance interaction between them.
Wednesday, Adam told himself. He can’t avoid me at his voice lesson. If I can just get him alone for a few minutes, just talk to him – he’ll tell me what’s going on. I know he will…
But for the first time in the two months he’d been attending Dalton – Kurt didn’t show up for his lesson.
Adam stayed late in his office, grading assignments and doing paperwork that he might have put off for months – not quite admitting to himself that it was in the vain hope that Kurt might still show up. When seven o’clock came and went, however, Adam finally gave up, tossing down his pen with a sigh and rubbing his weary eyes, before rising from his chair, packing up his satchel, and heading for the door.
He nearly tripped over Kurt on his way out.
Kurt was huddled on the floor just beside the door, his legs drawn up in front of him with his slender arms wrapped around them, knees wet with the tears that still shone in his eyes. His lower lip trembled as he stared up at Adam, wide-eyed and heartbreakingly sad.
“I – I’m sorry I missed my lesson. I just – I…” He sniffled, blinking back tears and wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand before looking up at Adam again, his voice tremulous and pleading. “… can I talk to you?”
Adam glanced anxiously up and down the deserted hallway, feeling immediately guilty for his relief to find it empty, at least for the moment. There was no way to know who might have seen Kurt sitting outside his office, and what they might have inferred from the rather pitiful sight – but Adam couldn’t think about that now.
At the moment, he had far more important concerns.
“Come on,” he said gently, reaching down to help Kurt to his feet. “Let’s go talk.”
He briefly considered just going into his office, but it was already very late in the evening. It wouldn’t have looked right at all if someone happened by and found them there, alone. The auditorium was likely to be empty, but a much more public setting, and less suspicious if they should be observed by someone else. It was for that reason that it had been the location of many of Kurt’s voice lessons, and almost all of their more personal conversations.
They sat down on the floor at the front of the auditorium, backs against the stage, the near-darkness that surrounded them hopefully providing enough of a mask for Kurt’s raw, open emotions to allow him to feel comfortable enough to talk freely. Kurt didn’t seem quite ready to talk yet, though, pulling his knees up in front of him again and covering his face with his hands.
Adam braced himself for the worst, already almost certain that whatever Kurt was crying about, it almost certainly had to do with Blaine Anderson. He pushed back the automatic sense of resentment he felt, focusing instead on Kurt, and what he needed at the moment.
“What happened?” Adam asked gently, reaching out to take Kurt’s hand and draw it away from his face, holding onto it to keep Kurt from hiding again. “Come on, Kurt. Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
“I – I should never have left you guys at the mall,” Kurt finally, miserably admitted, sniffling as he stared down at their joined hands between them. “I just – I thought I was ready, and – and that I’d lose Blaine if I didn’t – if I didn’t quit holding out on him, and – and he was being so patient and understanding and all…”
Adam bit his lower lip, fighting back the urge to point out how contradictory that line of thinking was, how clearly Blaine had been playing Kurt all this time – because he had the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that at this point, Kurt already knew that much.
“… anyway, I – I decided I was ready, and I – I told him I was, so – we went to this h-hotel…”
Adam’s stomach clenched, and he suddenly wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the rest of this. He fought back the protective anger that rose up in him, forcing himself to stay calm and neutral and listen to what Kurt had to say – even though he was increasingly certain that his worst fears were about to be realized.
You were too late – you didn’t get to him in time – and now Blaine’s gotten what he wanted, and Kurt’s heartbroken, and it’s Tyler all over again, and you’ve failed him, just like the last time…
“… so romantic, and beautiful, and I wanted to want it so much, you know? I think – I think I’d just about convinced myself I wanted it. It was Blaine, and he’s – he’s – Blaine, and – I should have wanted it. What’s wrong with me that I don’t want it?”
“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Adam assured Kurt gently, slipping an arm around his shoulders and looking into his eyes. “Okay? Only you can decide when you’re ready to do something like this.” Adam was quiet for a moment, swallowing hard, hesitating before he cautiously continued. “So… Kurt… did you? I mean… you said you don’t… don’t want to…”
“We almost did,” Kurt admitted softly, looking away. “We were – on the bed, and – and he started – taking my clothes off, and – and it was just – too much, and – and I told him to stop, and he – he didn’t hear me, I guess, at first, ‘cause he kept going, and – and I told him again, and he p-pushed me back down and s-said it’d be okay, and…”
Adam tensed, Kurt’s words settling a knot of white-hot rage in his chest, and he fought the urge he felt to go directly up to the dorms, find Blaine Anderson, and beat the ever-living shit out of him. He had to focus on Kurt, because Kurt was still talking, still crying, and looking so desperately, agonizingly ashamed of something that was not his fault, not even a little bit.
“I p-pushed him away,” Kurt continued, “and told him to stop, and – he finally heard me and – and got off the bed, and – and he was yelling at me and calling me a tease, and a slut for leading him on like that and making him think I wanted him when I didn’t, and I did want him, Adam, I did!” Kurt looked up at him, eyes huge and tearful and so wounded, and Adam felt his heart breaking at the sight. “I just – w-wasn’t ready, and – he said he doesn’t have to deal with this, that he can have anybody he wants, and – and he’s sick of – of waiting around for me to m-make up my mind, and… and I just feel like crap.”
Kurt leaned forward, resting his head against his knees and wrapping his arms around them, his shoulders shaking. His words were muffled, barely audible against the denim of his jeans.
“This was supposed to be special. Blaine – was supposed to love me.”
Adam ran a soothing hand slowly up and down Kurt’s back, trying to offer comfort where he didn’t have the words.
“If he loves me, then – then why would he want to make me feel this way?” Kurt wondered aloud, the aching, bewildered sound of his voice tearing at Adam’s heart, as did the look of hurt and betrayal in his eyes when he looked up at Adam again, abruptly. “It’s not supposed to feel like this – is it?”
“No,” Adam answered softly, immediately. “No, it’s not supposed to feel this way. When you’re with someone – someone who deserves for you to give them that much of yourself, Kurt – it should make you feel like you’re the most special person in the world. You should feel – respected, and cherished, and – and like they’d wait forever if you asked them to, Kurt.”
He put his arm around Kurt again, and Kurt shifted in closer to him, resting his head on Adam’s shoulder.
“No one should ever make you feel like that’s all they want from you – not if they claim to love you. You shouldn’t ever feel like – like that’s all you’re good for, to them. And – if he really feels that way, Kurt – if that’s all he wants, and if he can’t have it he’s just done, then – then he has no idea what he had in you to begin with.”
Kurt pulled away a little, shaking his head, clearly uncomfortable with the praise. Adam reached down and tilted his head up, turning it back to silently insist that Kurt meet his eyes.
“Listen to me,” he insisted, his voice quiet but firm. “Kurt – you have so much more to offer than you know. You are an amazing person. You are kind, and smart, and fucking hilarious…”
Kurt let out a soft, self-conscious huff of laughter, looking away for a moment before meeting Adam’s eyes again, wondering and not quite believing Adam’s words, but drinking it in with a thirst for love and approval that nearly broke Adam’s heart.
“When you love someone – whether it’s romantic, or whether it’s your family, your friends – you do it with everything you’ve got, Kurt,” Adam continued, genuine reverence in his voice as he held Kurt’s gaze, willing him to see how deeply he meant what he was saying. “And that is something truly rare and beautiful – and anyone who could see that kind of love in you – in your eyes, looking back at them – and turn his back on that, willingly – well, he’s just too stupid to live. Seriously, Kurt – if Blaine can’t see what he’s losing right now, then…”
Adam didn’t get to finish his sentence – because one moment, Kurt was staring up at him, hurt and sorrow fading slowly into wonder and gratitude – and the next, Kurt had suddenly closed the little remaining distance between them, rising up on one hand to press his lips against Adam’s in a kiss that was eager, intense – yet tentative, hopeful, uncertain.
Adam froze – stunned, his heart racing, unable either to respond or to pull away – and at last, Kurt slowly withdrew, meeting Adam’s eyes with such aching vulnerability, fear and desire mingled in his eyes as he waited for Adam to react.
Adam knew he couldn’t.
This is exactly where you were afraid this would go, and you can’t let it. Just get up and walk away… walk away now, before this has the chance to become anything more…
But the longer Adam waited, the more the fear in Kurt’s eyes began to grow, the visible certainty that he was going to be rejected, yet again. His eyes were huge and so vulnerable, so fucking beautiful, and the way his hand clutched at Adam’s sleeve, desperate to keep him close – the way his body trembled visibly with so much mingled fear and expectation, with such want – and Adam could no longer deny that he wanted it, too.
Before he knew what he was doing, Adam had pressed forward to return the kiss, one hand behind Kurt’s head to keep him close, the other falling to Kurt’s waist as he kissed him, and it was deep and tender and so sweet, everything he’d imagined kissing Kurt might be – and he had imagined it, so many times, though he’d tried to pretend he was stronger than that.
But how could he be strong with Kurt’s mouth yielding under his, with the sweet little whimper of need that had just escaped the boy’s lips, the way he was leaning back against the wall and just letting Adam guide him, letting him take control…
And suddenly, all at once, the crucial pieces of what was happening came together in Adam’s mind, and he realized just exactly what he was doing.
Taking control… guiding him, yes, because he doesn’t fucking know what he’s doing… because he is just a boy, Adam, shit, what the fuck are you doing?
Adam abruptly jerked away from Kurt, his heart aching when Kurt let out a soft little sound of protest, following after him as if to keep him from ending the kiss.
But he had to end it.
Should have ended this a long time ago…
“Adam – Adam, what…?” Kurt’s voice was barely over a whisper, his eyes wide and vulnerable and searching as he caught Adam’s wrist, just as Adam scrambled backward and up to his feet. “What’s wrong?”
Adam shook his head, looking down at Kurt sadly, regret filling him for what he’d just allowed himself to do, the false hope he’d both created and crushed in a matter of moments.
“Everything,” he replied. “I – I’m sorry, Kurt. I – I can’t.”
“Wait,” Kurt protested, struggling to get to his feet beside him.
But Adam didn’t wait – he couldn’t. He gently pulled free of Kurt’s hand on his wrist, allowing the boy to fall back down to sit on the floor again.
Have to get away… have to get away before he can convince you to stay…
“I’m sorry,” Adam repeated, turning his back and walking away as quickly as he could on legs that didn’t want to go anywhere at all. “I – I have to go.”
And as he left Kurt sitting there, alone in the auditorium, calling out, “Adam! Adam, wait!” – Adam wondered whether it was him or Blaine who had committed the worse crime.
Adam let out a soft, shaky breath of relief as he sank down onto one of Dalton’s many immaculate lawns, setting down the paper sack that held the lunch he’d taken from the cafeteria. He leaned back, bracing himself on his arms and drawing up his knees in front of him. The day was unseasonably warm, the sun high and bright, and Adam was looking forward to enjoying an uninterrupted hour alone – without even the slightest chance of accidentally running into Kurt.
Kurt had tried several times to seek Adam out since the unfortunate incident in the auditorium – once at his office during the school day, when Adam had, thankfully, been with another student; and then a second time in the parking lot, just as Adam was pulling his car out onto the street – and if he’d actually noticed Kurt approaching out of the corner of his eye as he’d started the engine, that didn’t really mean anything. He could have been walking out to the middle of the parking lot for any reason.
Never mind the fact that Kurt no longer owned a car.
Still, Adam told himself – it wasn’t as if he’d known Kurt wanted to talk to him until after he was already pulling out of the parking lot, and there was no reason to turn around and go back and make things awkward and weird for both of them.
Not that he was avoiding Kurt, or anything.
Except that he totally was.
Adam tried not to think about it, tried to put it out of his mind and just enjoy the solitude and sunlight soaking into his shoulders – but it was too late. The memory of the kiss they’d shared in the auditorium was already playing through his mind again, accompanied with a sick sense of guilt that made him suddenly, thoroughly uninterested in the lunch he’d brought along. Although truth be told, Adam wasn’t sure which made him guiltier – the fact that he’d kissed Kurt, or the fact that he was now actively avoiding him.
It’s silly, really, Adam told himself. Nothing to run from. It’s not like he’s going to jump you the moment you let him get close enough to touch. He probably just wants to talk about what happened – and don’t you owe him that, really?
And that was the thing about all of this that Adam was really most ashamed of. Kurt was actually being mature about this, willing to talk about it and face up to what had happened, while Adam couldn’t even look the boy in the eye – not knowing how he’d taken advantage of him, how he’d broken the trust placed in him by Dalton Academy, Kurt’s parents – and Kurt himself.
It doesn’t matter anymore that the accusations weren’t true, Adam realized, his heart sinking, with Tyler, before. It doesn’t matter – because whatever they said I was, whatever I wasn’t, then…
… I am now.
Still, in the brief moments when he’d made eye contact with Kurt since it’d happened – in the memory of Kurt’s voice, bewildered and urgent, calling after him as he’d fled the auditorium – Adam had heard no blame, no accusation. Kurt didn’t seem to be upset about the kissing itself at all, actually; in fact, it was only with each thwarted attempt to talk to his guilt-ridden teacher that Kurt began to look more and more uncertain and – well, downright sad.
He actually thinks this can go somewhere, Adam realized with dismay. He thinks there’s some way that this can be something more than – than what it’s supposed to be – that we could take that single, mistaken kiss – okay, two kisses, but who’s counting? – and turn it into a real relationship – something that might actually last, and take the place of what he thought he had with the little shit who just broke his heart.
And that was really the kicker, when Adam thought about it – the fact that whatever Kurt thought he felt for him, his feelings weren’t exactly based in reality at the moment. Adam felt sick when he thought of how vulnerable Kurt had been that day – how fresh the wounds had been from Blaine’s betrayal, and how easy it must have been to take hold of the affection and affirmation Adam had so foolishly offered, and twist it into something much more.
And then, you just rejected him again. After using him. Like Blaine.
Adam sat forward, covering his face with his hands for a moment and taking in a deep breath of cool air, struggling to keep at bay the overwhelming nausea he felt at the thought of how thoroughly confused and hurt and insecure Kurt must have been feeling right then.
You made it worse. He came to you for help – for advice – and instead of his teacher that he can trust, you became just one more guy taking advantage of him and then taking off.
At least Blaine had taken off.
Adam was relieved to have not seen the two boys anywhere near each other in the two days that had passed since he’d last spent time with Kurt. Whether it was by Blaine’s choice, or Kurt’s, didn’t really matter. Now that Adam and Kurt couldn’t be friends anymore, and Adam had so completely fucked up any chance he’d had of helping Kurt, it was at least a small comfort to Adam to know that Kurt was no longer at risk of being hurt by Blaine.
Just – every other older, more experienced guy that crosses his path.
Adam sighed, lowering his gaze to the grass beside him and picking at it listlessly.
Now that you’ve fucked him up even worse than he was before.
You were supposed to help him. And now, all you’ve done is make things worse.
A shadow passed over Adam’s hand, and he looked up quickly, startled to see Kurt standing over him. His stomach lurched, and he glanced around uneasily – but at least no one else seemed to be around to see them there together. Adam felt even guiltier for even thinking about the risk of getting caught after what he’d put Kurt through – but still, he didn’t want this encounter to go on any longer than he could help it. Even before the kiss, he was fairly certain that Kurt was known to be one of his most favored students. It couldn’t possibly help the situation to be caught alone with him, out here in a place that was so conspicuously secretive.
Kurt sank down on the grass beside Adam, drawing his knees up a little and resting his folded arms across them.
Adam immediately rose to his feet.
“Kurt, we can’t be seen like this,” he explained quietly without looking at the boy. “Off alone, by ourselves…”
“Don’t you think that looks even worse?” Kurt cut him off, his voice oddly calm and even, as he waved a hand in Adam’s general direction.
Adam frowned, confused. “What?”
“You know. If anyone was even around to see. You’re my teacher. Why shouldn’t I talk to you?” Kurt pointed out with a little shrug, meeting Adam’s eyes with that heartbreaking defiance that had become so familiar to Adam in the past few months – that look that meant Kurt was trying so hard to hide how vulnerable and uncertain he really felt. “Don’t you think it looks even worse if you’re constantly avoiding me? Don’t you think people might start to wonder why?”
Adam just stood there for a moment, indecisive, looking away – but not walking away.
He felt the light, barely daring brush of Kurt’s fingertips against his wrist, and he clenched his hands into fists at his sides, but did not draw away. That cautious, soft touch shot through him like electricity, and Adam’s mind was suddenly filled with the vivid sense memory of the kiss that shouldn’t have been – Kurt’s lips, yielding and pliant under his, the almost fierce eagerness with which he’d thrown himself into the encounter, the soft, needy sounds he’d made as he’d pulled Adam closer to him.
He closed his eyes, willing himself to just walk away – just go, and make it clear to Kurt that he didn’t want to take this any farther.
Because he didn’t. Really. And it didn’t matter what he wanted, did it? Because this wasn’t something that could ever really work – not in real life, not in any world beyond his own imagination. Sure, behind that baby face and those enormous, innocent blue eyes was a surprising depth of perception and maturity. Adam knew that he wasn’t just fooling himself by accepting the fact that Kurt really was far beyond his years in so many ways.
But none of that mattered, in the end.
He’d still be taking advantage of a mere boy – one of his students – if he allowed himself to give into the undeniable attraction he felt, not just physically but on a much deeper, and infinitely more troubling level.
“Please.” Kurt’s voice was barely over a breath, and it tore at Adam’s heart, crumbling what little will he had to walk away. “Please, just talk to me.” He was quiet for a moment before adding in a hesitant voice that betrayed his uncertainty. “I haven’t told anyone. I – I’m not going to.”
Adam stood there for a moment, trying to make himself go – though he already knew he would fail. At last, he let out a heavy sigh, sitting back down on the grass beside Kurt. He stared down at the grass, picking at it idly as he looked up at Kurt at last, a rueful smile passing his lips.
“Yeah,” he acknowledged wryly. “I could tell by the me still having a job.”
Kurt looked away self-consciously, swallowing hard. “I knew that’s what you were worried about,” he said softly. “I knew that’s why you – you wouldn’t talk to me, or…”
“I’m sorry.” Adam genuinely meant it, though it didn’t change the fact that he still didn’t feel he had any other choice. “It’s just – Kurt, we – we can’t…”
Adam’s words trailed off in surprise at Kurt’s firm response, as well as the fierce determination he saw in the boy’s arrestingly blue gaze when he looked up at Adam again, his jaw set with stubborn certainty.
“I’m sixteen years old, and therefore over the legal age of consent in the state of Ohio,” Kurt pointed out.
Adam flinched a bit at those words, glancing away for a moment; he remembered when he’d first learned that little detail of Ohio sex abuse laws – when he’d had to learn it, out of simple self-preservation.
“So even if we’d done more than kiss – which, not that you were planning on that at all, or – or anything, but – but if we did…” Kurt seemed genuinely flustered for the first time in this surreal conversation, blushing furiously as he looked away again. “… you – you wouldn’t go to jail or anything, you know? And – and it was just a kiss, Adam. What I’m saying is – there’s no way you could get in any trouble for it. Or, you know – for doing it again…”
“Okay, this conversation is over.”
Adam rose abruptly to his feet, utterly mortified, not only by the suggestion in Kurt’s awkward, halting words, but also by how badly he wanted to give in to the temptation they were fueling.
It was technically true; he knew that. He’d be breaking no legal rule by taking Kurt home to his apartment and having his way with him.
But the fact that Kurt was of legal age was irrelevant. Kurt might have been legally able to give his consent to whatever the two of them wanted to do – but that didn’t mean he was emotionally ready to do so. Kurt was still vulnerable, still reeling from the rejection of the boy he’d thought himself to be in love with only days earlier. He was insecure and lonely and craving the approval and affection that Adam had so freely doled out in the past – and to accept what he wanted to give to Adam in return would be nothing less than the worst kind of betrayal.
“Wait!” Kurt objected, his voice trembling with panic, as he reached out to catch Adam’s hand.
Adam pulled away as if he’d been burned, spinning around to face Kurt, heart racing, lips parted to respond, though he couldn’t seem to find the words. All he could do was shake his head, holding up a halting hand as if to ward the boy off.
“I know you like me,” Kurt blurted out, a sort of defiant desperation in his voice. “I know you do. I shouldn’t have kissed you in the auditorium, but – but you didn’t have to kiss me back. You didn’t have to, and you did, and that has to mean something…”
“I’m sorry,” Adam responded at last, frustrated. “Okay? I’m really sorry that happened, Kurt…” Adam winced at his own choice of words, shaking his head and amending, “I’m sorry I did that. But…”
Kurt’s voice was quiet but emphatic, and it momentarily silenced Adam’s objections. As Kurt slowly rose to his feet to face him, Adam looked away, unsure what to do or where to go from there. He owed Kurt this conversation, if he wanted it – and yet he knew that the smartest thing to do was to run, to get away as fast as he could, before he could get into this mess any deeper than he already was.
“I wanted you to kiss me,” Kurt clarified, stepping hesitantly closer to Adam, and Adam’s heart clenched with his warring emotions – the tingling of apprehension, the warning bells telling him not to let Kurt any closer, at direct odds with the desire he felt to meet Kurt’s advance, to take the boy into his arms and kiss him again. “There’s – there’s no reason why this can’t happen, Adam. Not really…”
Adam’s voice was hoarse and trembling, barely under his own control. “I’m your teacher, Kurt…”
“My voice teacher.” Kurt shrugged. “Private lessons. Not even on the books, if I remember correctly. So – technically, no.” He paused, edging nearer. “And – if that’s still a problem, then – I can quit voice lessons. Or find another teacher, or – or something, because… because I really like you, Adam. And – and I know it’s not just me.”
Kurt studied Adam’s face closely as he took another slow, deliberate step, closing the rest of the distance between them. He stared down at Adam’s hand for a moment before reaching out, slowly, cautiously to take it again. When Adam didn’t pull away this time, he looked up to meet Adam’s eyes again, his voice barely over a whisper.
“Tell me I’m wrong.”
Adam looked down at their joined hands, unable to stop himself from tracing his thumb gently over the soft skin on the back of Kurt’s hand, swallowing hard. He shook his head slowly, his heart sinking with defeat, his own voice barely audible as he finally looked up to meet Kurt’s eyes and make a soft confession.
Kurt smiled hopefully, his eyes lighting up at those words, and he rose up on his toes, his grip tightening on Adam’s hand as he moved in as if for another kiss.
And Adam abruptly panicked.
He immediately tore free of Kurt’s hand, taking a few hurried, stumbling steps backward.
“No,” he declared in a ragged, breathless voice. “No, Kurt, we – we can’t do this here. I mean – we can’t do this at all. Just – go to class, okay?” Adam glanced around, feeling ashamed for his own admittedly selfish fears, thankful that they were far out of sight of any of Dalton’s windows, and the curious eyes that might have been beyond them. “I can’t – I can’t talk about this here…”
And without waiting for a response, he turned on his heel and strode swiftly, certainly, away.
It was official, Adam decided that evening in the safety of his apartment, over a cup of tea that had grown cold while he tried and failed to care enough to drink it.
He was a selfish, cowardly piece of shit.
He kept picturing Kurt’s face, hopeful and earnest, pleading his logical, well thought out case with the calm and maturity of an adult – just before Adam fled like a terrified schoolboy.
The irony was bitter, and not the least bit amusing.
Adam thought about calling Brad, just to have someone to talk to who would have some chance of understanding what he was going through – but he couldn’t stand the thought of the I-told-you-so’s that were certain to follow in the wake of his confession that he had, indeed, screwed up and fallen into just the trap that Brad had feared.
When his doorbell rang, Adam looked up with a frown.
Maybe it’s Brad, he thought with mingled hope and dread. After all, since when does he need an invitation?
He got up and went to the door, opening it – and then freezing at the sight of Kurt Hummel. His arms were crossed protectively over his chest, as he bit the side of his lip and gazed up at Adam with a look in his eyes that was both vulnerable and calculating, alarmingly clever, and even more alarmingly – so, so young. His words were quiet and even when at last he broke the silence.
“Will you talk to me here?”
“Kurt – you shouldn’t have come here. You need to go back to Dalton.”
Adam cringed inwardly at the tremor of uncertainty in his own voice – especially in such stark contrast with Kurt’s bold, defiant stare, and the challenging tone of his quiet words.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have. But I’m here now, and I have no intention of going back to Dalton until you talk to me – so you can either let me in, or I can just stand out here on your doorstep making a scene until someone really does see me here. Wouldn’t that be worse?”
Adam glanced anxiously past Kurt, into the hallway outside his apartment, relieved to see that there was no one around at the moment to make Kurt’s threat all that effective. Kurt followed his gaze down the empty hallway, then shrugged, casually defiant.
“I could start singing if you like. I bet that’d wake the neighbors.”
Adam’s stomach did an uncomfortable little flip, and he swiftly stepped back out of the doorway with a defeated sigh. “Come on. Get inside.”
Kurt’s stubborn, challenging expression faltered into surprise as he hurriedly obeyed, as if afraid Adam might change his mind. A nervous smile crossed his lips as he glanced up at Adam and confessed, “I – I saw that in a movie once. I didn’t think it’d actually work.” He paused, amending, “Except the singing part. That was mine…”
Kurt fell silent, his smile fading, eyes large and vulnerable as he looked up at Adam, waiting.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
Kurt hesitated just a moment before admitting softly, “I know. But – you wouldn’t talk to me, and – and I didn’t know what else to do.”
“Kurt, why can’t you just let this…”
“Was it really that bad?”
Adam’s protest broke off abruptly, and he stared at Kurt in disbelief for a long moment – before laughing softly. Kurt’s face fell even further, hurt beginning in his eyes.
“Kurt,” Adam sighed, raising a hand to cover his face, shaking his head slowly, “that is so far from the problem…”
“I knew it.” Kurt brightened so quickly that Adam was suddenly suspicious as to the sincerity of his previous expression. “So – you do like me then.”
“I never said I didn’t.” Adam’s voice rose with his frustration, and he turned away a little, struggling to bring both his voice and his emotions under control, before turning to face Kurt again, meeting his gaze with what he hoped was a severe, authoritative expression. “It doesn’t matter what I feel – or what you feel, for that matter. We can’t do this.”
“Can’t do what?” Kurt countered, raising both hands in front of him in frustration. “For heaven’s sake, Adam, it’s not like I’m asking you to take my virginity on your living room floor! I thought we’d already established that I am so not ready for that.”
Adam looked away, suddenly unable to meet Kurt’s eyes, his face flushed hot with embarrassment. “I wasn’t saying…”
“All I want is to talk about this,” Kurt continued softly. “I – I thought you were my friend. Why won’t you even talk to me?”
“Because – there’s nothing to talk about.” Adam tried to keep his voice firm, tried not to get drawn into the soft, sweet earnestness of Kurt’s voice, the desperate intensity he knew he’d see if he let himself look into Kurt’s eyes. “Nothing you can say is going to change anything, or make it okay for me to – to be with you, because – you’re not old enough to make a decision like this-”
“If the state of Ohio deems me competent to make my own decisions, why can’t you?”
Adam stopped, abruptly struck with the fact that he didn’t have an answer to that point – and he didn’t really want to have one.
He backed up the couple of steps that took him to his sofa and sat down, raking both hands through his hair and then leaving them there, staring down at the floor as he tried to find a way to make Kurt understand what was so wrong with this situation – why it was so very dangerous for him to even entertain for a moment the idea that there could be anything more between them.
When he felt the couch depress beside him, felt Kurt’s thigh against his, and Kurt’s gentle, delicate touch against his back, Adam tried to find the will to move away, to put some space between them, to reach up and take Kurt’s hand and put it somewhere that wasn’t on Adam’s body – but he couldn’t do any of that.
“Kurt, I just – I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Kurt’s laugh was surprised, innocent, as if that was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. “You wouldn’t hurt me.”
“No, but – but just letting you get involved with me, Kurt – just putting you in this position where you have no idea how serious it could get, how people might look at you, all the terrible things that could happen – just – endangering you like that – that is hurting you. And – I can’t do that, Kurt. I…” Adam hesitated, his voice lowering as he concluded softly, “… I like you too much to do that.”
Adam felt both a sense of relief, and also of intense, irrational disappointment, when Kurt abruptly withdrew his hand from Adam’s back. Adam glanced up at the boy uncertainly, his heart sinking at the rigid set of Kurt’s shoulders as he sat back against the sofa, arms crossed defensively over his chest. His eyes were averted, his voice dangerously soft when at last he broke the silence.
“I don’t know why you ever said we were friends, when clearly, you see me as nothing more than a stupid child.”
“That’s not true,” Adam argued immediately, reaching out to take Kurt’s hand nearest to him, not sure whether he should feel encouraged or guilty when Kurt allowed him to do so. “Kurt, you aren’t stupid at all. In fact, you’re fucking brilliant. And – and attractive, and talented, and – and all those things I told you the other day, when – when we…”
“When I kissed you.” Kurt’s voice was barely over a whisper, and he still wasn’t looking at Adam.
“Yeah. When you kissed me,” Adam echoed in a tone of grim resignation. “And when I kissed you back. Anyway, what I said about you then – I meant every word of it. That’s the problem, Kurt. It’s – it’s so easy for me to forget how – how young you are. How – how much of life you haven’t experienced yet. And – I’m glad you haven’t experienced it, because…” He looked away at last, staring down at the floor. “… certain life experiences… just fucking suck.”
Something in Adam’s tone made Kurt look up, studying his face closely, drawn in by the distant, sorrowful sound of his voice. Kurt bit his lower lip, frowning, as he gently squeezed Adam’s hand in his, his voice hushed and cautious.
Adam didn’t answer for a moment, and Kurt wasn’t sure he was going to at all – but then, Adam let out a shaky sigh, and turned his face away, staring off into space, as if seeing something Kurt couldn’t.
“Last year – there was another student I – became close to.”
An unpleasant tightening sensation clenched in Kurt’s stomach, and he swallowed hard, bracing himself for the rest of Adam’s story – suddenly very sure he was not going to like it.
“I mean – it wasn’t like – like with you,” Adam hurriedly amended, glancing up at him with a worried expression. “At least, not for me. I mean – Tyler liked me, I think, for a while anyway, but – but I didn’t see him as anything more than a student. He was a sophomore, and – and here on scholarship, so – he didn’t come from money the way most of these boys do. It was all so new and impressive to him, and – he got a little overwhelmed, felt a little alone. I tried to be a friend to him, and – and he took it as more than that, I think, but – it didn’t matter, anyway. Not for long.”
When Adam fell silent, Kurt pressed softly, “Why not?”
Adam was quiet for a moment before continuing in a tone of resignation, “Because he started seeing Blaine.”
Kurt looked up at Adam sharply, a painful tightening in his chest at the reminder of his recent heartbreak. Of course he knew now that Blaine cared nothing for him; of course it made sense that he’d had other boyfriends before Kurt. Still, the reminder of just how little he’d meant to Blaine hurt more than he was willing to admit.
“I – I didn’t trust Blaine, even back then,” Adam continued. “I just – I know his type.” Adam laughed softly, sadly, as he admitted, “Even dated one or two of his type, back when I first came out. Anyway, I – I knew he was – wasn’t in it for as much as Tyler was. But – Tyler’d never had a boyfriend before.” Adam looked up at Kurt, meeting his gaze and gauging his reaction as he clarified, “Tyler wasn’t even out. The only people who knew Tyler was even gay were Blaine – and me. And when Blaine started showing him the kind of attention he wanted – the kind of attention I couldn’t – then, well – he became like – Tyler’s big gay fucking hero, you know? Everything Blaine said, he believed, and – I tried to warn him, but – it just pissed him off, and – and he ended up sleeping with Blaine after they’d been dating for like, a month.”
Kurt stared down at his hand, joined with Adam’s on his knee, and swallowed hard, the cold knot in his chest tightening. “Like – like I almost did.”
Adam looked at him, hesitation on his face before his shoulders fell, and he nodded. “Yeah,” he sighed. “Like you almost did.”
Kurt’s eyes burned with tears, and he turned his face away, trying to blink them back. “He never really liked me at all, did he?”
Adam was silent for a long moment – too long. His voice was soft and gentle as he squeezed Kurt’s hand reassuringly. “Blaine Anderson doesn’t care about anyone but himself, Kurt. If he didn’t know enough to want to be with you for real, that’s his loss, not yours. You’re too good for him.” Adam looked away, his voice heavy and haunted as he added quietly, “So was Tyler.”
Something about the words made an uneasy feeling settle in the pit of Kurt’s stomach, and he frowned, looking up at Adam again. “What happened after that? Did Tyler – does he still go to Dalton, or…?”
Adam didn’t answer immediately, or directly when at last he spoke again. “Blaine didn’t speak to Tyler again after sleeping with him. Stopped taking his calls, treated him like shit when he’d run into him in the halls, that sort of thing. Just completely lost interest once he got what he wanted. And – Tyler deserved better than that. He was completely heartbroken, so – so I confronted Blaine. Called him to my office. Left the door open, because I’m not a complete idiot.”
Adam glanced toward his own closed apartment door with a little grimace and amended, “Or at least, I wasn’t. But – I called him on his shit. Told him I knew his game, and he’d better not pull anything like that again or I’d have him called before the disciplinary board. Blaine was 16 at the time, but Tyler was only 14, and schools like Dalton take things like that pretty seriously. Blaine was all big eyes and humility – ‘Yes, sir, Mr. Lambert.’ ‘Whatever you say, Mr. Lambert.’ And I thought – maybe I’d gotten through to him. At least given him a good scare. It didn’t help Tyler, but – but maybe at least I could keep it from happening to anyone else.”
Adam sighed, running a hand through his hair and shaking his head sadly. “Then the next day, I was informed that there’d been an accusation of improper sexual conduct – not against Blaine, but – against me.”
Kurt stared in disbelief. “What – but you didn’t do anything…”
“No,” Adam agreed. “But the head of the disciplinary board got an anonymous call requesting that he take a close look at the ‘inappropriate relationship’ I had with Tyler.” Adam’s voice was quiet and defeated. “There was nothing inappropriate there, not really. He had a crush, but nothing had happened – nothing would have ever happened. But – we were close. And – Tyler’s parents were informed that the accusation had been made, and Tyler was interviewed by the board, and – somehow in all of it, it came out that he’d – had a relationship with another boy at Dalton – with Blaine.”
Adam closed his eyes, and Kurt could clearly read the pain of his memories in the taut set of his jaw, the slight tremor in his voice as he struggled to continue.
“Tyler – wasn’t ready to come out. His parents – didn’t take it well, and – and he was just pretty devastated by the whole thing. They didn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing on my part, because – there was nothing to find, but – Tyler – he couldn’t get past it, what people were saying about him – about us – and he – they – found him in his room, about a week after the investigation was closed.” Adam stopped for a moment, pressing his thumb and forefinger against his eyes, his voice lowered to a hoarse whisper as he concluded, “He killed himself, Kurt.”
Kurt was stunned, silent and staring as Adam looked up at him again, a desolate sorrow in his eyes.
“Tyler died because of getting too close to me – because of the rumors, and the nasty accusations, and just – it’s too much for a kid to have to handle. I don’t want – if anything happened to you because of – of me, and – and the things people would say…”
“But nothing is going to happen to me,” Kurt pointed out, shaking his head. “Adam – they don’t come any more out than me.” He rolled his eyes with a self-deprecating little smirk, pleased when a tiny smile broke through the edges of Adam’s solemn expression. “My family and friends all know.” He looked down, smile fading into a wry expression as he amended, “I’m pretty sure anyone who talks to me for five seconds knows. And it’s not like I’m going to be humiliated and think my life is over if people say there’s something going on between us.” He shrugged slightly. “If anything, I’d be flattered – not that I’m going to say anything,” he hurried to clarify. “If anybody asked, I’d lie. I wouldn’t admit it-”
“Because there’s nothing to admit,” Adam pointed out, his voice low and severe, giving Kurt a warning look. “Kurt, you don’t know the kind of pressure that type of scandal would put on you, no matter how you think you’d feel about it right now. I can’t – can’t put you through that. I want to protect you from that…” Adam let out a quiet, bitter laugh, glancing toward the door again. “… even if I’m doing a pretty shitty job of it right now. Look at us, here alone in my apartment.” He shook his head, a humorless smile forming on his lips. “If anyone wanted to accuse me of taking advantage of you – there’s no way I could prove them wrong.”
“But – you haven’t taken advantage of me,” Kurt protested softly. “Adam – if it wasn’t for you, and all those things you said, and – and making me believe that I was worth more than that – I would have been taken advantage of – but not by you.” His voice lowered to a whisper, and he squeezed Adam’s hand gently. “Being close to you – saved me. You saved me.”
Adam looked away, shaking his head, a bitter smile crossing his lips. “Funny. Didn’t have that effect on Tyler…”
Kurt tugged insistently at his hand, waiting until Adam reluctantly met his gaze again, his voice earnest and certain, hushed with a sort of awe.
“But you saved me.”
Adam held his gaze, tears in his eyes, swallowing back a sob.
“You kept me from making a terrible mistake that would have stayed with me for the rest of my life, one way or another, because let’s face it, I’m a hopeless romantic and I’d always regret that my first time was with someone who didn’t give a crap about me, and you kept that from happening, Adam.”
Kurt shifted closer, releasing Adam’s hand and placing his own on Adam’s knee, silently urging him to turn toward him. As if on sheer instinct, Adam complied, and the way his eyes kept drifting toward Kurt’s mouth made his heart quicken, as well as his words, tumbling over each other and out before Kurt was even aware he was going to speak them, as he found himself edging nearer and nearer, closing the slight distance left between them.
“You – you saved me, and – and I must be a romantic, because there’s just something about the whole brave knight in shining armor thing that is just – so attractive to me right now, and – and you’re the one who’s vulnerable and emotional at the moment, and not me, so – you’re not taking advantage of me. If anything, I – I’d be taking – advantage…”
It was Adam who abruptly, unexpectedly placed one hand at the back of Kurt’s head and drew him the rest of the way in, kissing him with a fervent urgency that sent electric tingles of desire up and down Kurt’s spine. Kurt’s hand slid a little higher on Adam’s leg, but Adam’s hand fell to his shoulder, pushing him back against the sofa and deepening the kiss. After a moment, Adam drew back, his forehead resting against Kurt’s, eyes closed as a shuddering breath escaped his lips.
“What are we doing?” he whispered. “What are we…?”
“I don’t know,” Kurt replied, staring up at Adam with a wondering gaze, his mouth dry and his heart racing. “But – don’t stop.”
Kissing Kurt was so much easier the second time.
Adam knew that realization should have been more disturbing to him; he knew that later, when Kurt had gone home and he’d come to his senses, it would be, so much so that he probably wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. But for now, all he could think about was the soft heat of Kurt’s pliant, yielding mouth under his, the way his hands trembled as they trailed up Adam’s back with so much eagerness, so much need, pulling him a little further down on the sofa, a little further from the safe, seated position he was currently in.
One of Kurt’s hands rose to run through Adam’s hair, drawing him in closer, and the sensation of his carefully manicured nails scratching against Adam’s scalp sent a shiver of pleasure down his spine. Adam’s returned the gesture, his hand sliding through the short, silky strands at the back of Kurt’s head, relishing the mewling, almost frantic whimper that escaped Kurt’s lips, the sound trembling and breathless between them – and just about the hottest thing Adam had ever heard. The sensation was electric, sending tiny, tingling sparks all through Adam’s body, and he automatically settled closer to Kurt, pressing him back against the sofa, even as his mind echoed an ominous warning.
You can’t do this, Adam… you have to stop this… you have to make him stop…
With every ounce of willpower he had, Adam tried to withdraw, rising up off of Kurt – but the boy let out a frustrated whimper of protest, his hand tangled in Adam’s hair and tugging insistently, refusing to end the kiss. His grip was unexpectedly strong – and Adam found it shockingly hot. He surrendered, forgetting for the moment why he was so eager to stop, why he’d denied himself, and Kurt, this for so long. It felt good, and natural, and like the inevitable destination of the uncertain, wandering path they’d been traveling for the past few months. In a way, it was as if they’d always been headed for just here, and nothing would have stopped it, no matter how hard Adam tried – and that was a strangely reassuring thought.
Because Adam couldn’t make himself try anymore.
His left hand stroked gently through Kurt’s hair, relishing the way Kurt arched back into the touch, his right hand falling to the boy’s hip, tracing slowly, firmly around the jutting circle of bone. He was rewarded with a soft moan, Kurt’s body pressing up towards Adam’s, unconsciously seeking greater contact.
Adam felt the added pressure right to his core, and he kissed Kurt more deeply, his free hand trailing up under the hem of Kurt’s unusually rumpled, half-tucked shirt. Kurt’s skin was softer than Adam had imagined, heated with the flush of arousal, and all Adam wanted was to uncover more of it, to keep touching, keep exploring, keep closing the self-imposed distance that had separated them for far too long.
Kurt let out a soft little hum of approving pleasure, and one of his hands fell away from Adam’s back. A moment later, a shock of alarm went through Adam’s body. Shock – because all of a sudden, Kurt’s hand was on the front of his jeans, trembling fingers fumbling eagerly for his zipper.
Alarm – because of how much he really didn’t want to stop him.
“Kurt – Kurt, wait…” Adam gasped, his hand leaving Kurt’s side to catch his wrist. They had to stop this. “D-don’t…”
Kurt looked up at him, eyes wide, and blue, and impossibly innocent, and Oh, God, Adam what are you doing?
“You don’t want me to?”
“I – you’re – not ready,” Adam insisted, breathless and far less convincing than he meant to be.
“I’ve done it before,” Kurt whispered, eyes momentarily averted. “And I – I like you, and – and I can. If you want.”
“I – I don’t.”
Innocence faded into a wry, knowing smirk, a single brow raised, as in the sharp, sarcastic drawl that was only one of the many reasons why Adam found him so irresistibly attractive, Kurt retorted, “Try it again, this time without the telling vocal break.”
Adam opened his mouth to protest, but nothing came out. He stared at Kurt for a long moment, trying to think of the words to respond – and coming up completely blank. Adam dropped his head onto Kurt’s shoulder with a low groan.
Damn it, why did I have to answer my door tonight?
“Adam?” Kurt’s voice was suddenly wary, a note of uncertainty in his words, as Adam raised his head to meet Kurt’s eyes. “What? What’s wrong?”
Everything. Me. I’m terribly wrong for this…
Before Adam could find the words to answer, his phone rang with a familiar tone – Lady Gaga’s “Love Game”.
An irrational panic seized him, a thought that he would later realize was based on no actual logic.
If I don’t answer my phone – he’ll know.
It was that guilty, instinctive certainty that led Adam to hurriedly raise the phone to his ear, pressing the receive button and holding a silencing finger to his lips when Kurt opened his mouth, a questioning frown creasing his brow.
“Hey!” Adam cringed at the sound of his own voice, too loud and too enthusiastic to be as casual as he was going for. “What’s up?”
Brad was quiet for a long moment, and when he spoke, his words were slow and cautious. “Hey. Nothing much, Adam.” He paused pointedly before asking, “What’s up with you?”
“Nothing. What are you talking about? There is… absolutely nothing at all. That is up.”
“Then why are you so weird right now?” Brad persisted. “Adam…”
Adam glanced at Kurt, who had sat up a little on the sofa and was staring down at his arm, folded tightly across his torso in a painfully defensive gesture that made Adam feel even more like shit for the lie – and for the way he’d allowed this encounter to go in the first place.
“I’m not,” he insisted with a laugh that sounded false even to his own ears. “I don’t know what you’re talking about…”
“Oh, shit.” Adam flinched at the abrupt realization in Brad’s voice, bracing himself for the impending explosion. “He’s there right now, isn’t he, Adam? At your place.”
Adam closed his eyes, swallowing hard.
“Fuck. Adam, what are you thinking?”
“Nothing’s happened,” Adam insisted, his voice hoarse and weak, unable to bring himself to look at Kurt as he lied. “Not – not really…”
“Not really?” Brad echoed, incredulous. “Adam, what the fuck does that even mean? Are you fucking insane?”
“No, I – it’s not…”
“I’m on my way over there. If you can’t have the self-preservation to get him out of there, then I will…”
“Brad, no! Wait!”
But the line was already dead.
Adam stared down at the blank screen of his phone for a long moment before quickly putting it away and turning toward Kurt, who was watching him in silence, a single brow pointedly raised, looking none too pleased with the parts of the conversation he’d overheard.
Adam couldn’t think about that now. He was too busy quietly panicking.
“You need to go.”
Kurt’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “What? Why?”
Adam sighed. “Because if you’re here in ten minutes, we’re going to get our asses handed to us by a tiny Texan.”
Kurt’s frown deepened with confusion. “What?”
“Brad’s on his way over here right now, because he’s convinced that we’re doing – things we shouldn’t be doing...”
A tentative, teasing smile played about the edges of Kurt’s lips, as he reached out to place his hands on Adam’s waist, gently tugging him toward him again. “A couple more minutes… and he wouldn’t have been wrong…”
“Yes, he would have,” Adam insisted, catching Kurt’s wrists and gently but firmly removing them from his body and placing them back in Kurt’s lap. “Kurt, I told you – we can’t do this.”
Adam stood up, desperate to put some distance between the two of them, and Kurt sat back a little, defeated. His back was rigid, his jaw set but lip trembling with hurt and anger. His eyes glittered with unshed tears of confusion and frustration, and Adam found that he couldn’t look at him, either.
He was too close to giving in as it was.
“I don’t know how to make you understand this, Kurt,” Adam continued, pacing the floor by the front door in agitation. “I like you, I do, but – but that doesn’t mean that we can act on it. You are amazing, but – you’re still a kid, and – and I’m an adult, and your teacher, and – and you’re just not ready for – for what this could become. You’d regret it, and I couldn’t live with myself, and – and I told you before, Kurt. We just – we just can’t.”
“Funny,” Kurt snapped, his voice scathing with accusation. “You might have been a little more convincing without your tongue shoved down my throat!” He rose to his feet, moving toward Adam in swift, angry strides. “You let me in. You – opened up to me. You kissed me, Adam. We made out on your couch. And suddenly you’re saying all the same old crap and throwing me out in five seconds flat? How is that fair?”
Adam was quiet for a moment, a heavy knot settling in his stomach, his guilty gaze downcast for a moment before he made himself look up to meet Kurt’s eyes. His answer was simple, but left no room for argument.
“It’s not,” he admitted softly, pausing a moment before adding, “I’m sorry.” Adam looked away again, swallowing hard before repeating, “I’m really sorry, Kurt, but – you have to go.”
Kurt opened his mouth as if to protest, but couldn’t seem to find the words. He shook his head, drawing in a shaky breath before letting it out in a frustrated sigh. “Fine,” he snapped, snatching his coat from the rack by the door and stalking toward it furiously. “We can continue this later,” he muttered as he shrugged into his coat and opened the door.
“No,” Adam insisted, turning to face Kurt’s retreating form, and Kurt froze without turning, his back to Adam as he hesitated in the doorway. “No… we really can’t.”
Kurt stood there for a long moment, head bowed, hand braced against the doorway, and for a moment Adam thought he would turn around and argue his case further – but he didn’t. Instead, he simply walked out the door, slamming it behind him hard enough to make Adam flinch. The following silence of Adam’s apartment echoed in his ears, and Adam sat down on his couch again, overwhelmed with the tumult of conflicting emotions he felt in the wake of the roller coaster ride the night had been.
Even now, a frighteningly strong part of him wanted to go after the boy, to tell him he was sorry and to come back, that they’d find a way to make it work…
… but he knew that they wouldn’t. There simply wasn’t a way. Adam knew that he’d made the right call, that he hadn’t had any choice but to stop things, right then, before they could go any farther.
But knowing didn’t make it hurt any less.
For the second time in the same evening, Adam found himself responding to an insistent pounding on his front door that he was almost certain he’d regret answering. He opened the door, stepping back in resigned silence as Brad rushed in, not even waiting until the door was closed to spin around, stepping into Adam’s personal space, dark eyes blazing up at him.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” he demanded, voice trembling with fury. “Adam, have you lost your fucking mind? Do you realize how much this kind of reckless, self-destructive behavior could cost you? How much you could lose?”
Adam didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to consider how much he’d lost already. All he wanted was to forget for a little while – to forget Tyler and all the ways in which he’d failed him, to forget the grief and guilt and memories, to forget how foolish and careless he’d been in the past few months that had led up to this night…
… to forget Kurt, and the feel of soft lips and strong, graceful hands and the willing, adoring, achingly beautiful boy that could never be his.
“We talked about this, Adam, you said you knew what you were doing, you weren’t going to let it go this far. Well, tell me, Adam, just how far would it have gone tonight if I hadn’t…”
The rest of Brad’s words broke off in an abrupt, muffled yelp of surprise as Adam reached out for him by sheer, blind instinct, his mouth crashing into Brad’s with frantic desperation, swallowing his words and drowning his own pain in the kiss. Brad immediately sank into the kiss, returning it automatically as Adam pushed him back against the door, hands roaming over familiar places he knew by touch, by heart, without having to look, without having to ask.
Finally, Brad drew away, looking up at Adam with confusion in his eyes, shaking his head slightly. “Adam – if you’re trying to distract me…”
“Shut up…” Adam didn’t recognize the hoarse, desperate, pleading sound torn from his own throat. He was shaking violently, his breath coming in deep, shuddering gasps, and he lowered his head for a moment to rest it against Brad’s shoulder, struggling to regain some semblance of control. “Please, just shut up… just don’t… I need… I just… I just need to…”
Brad was silent for a long moment, and Adam was suddenly, heavily certain that he’d made a big mistake. This wasn’t them anymore, was it? They’d been lovers once, and then friends, and were often something in between – but it had been months since they’d done anything, and maybe he was wrong to assume – wrong to ask this, when Brad was so angry at him, and his judgment was clearly so off at the moment, and this wasn’t fair, was it? To use him like this?
Brad’s hand was light and tender on Adam’s cheek, gently tilting his head up, and Adam met his eyes, reluctant and guilty – but he found no judgment in Brad’s searching gaze. Brad studied him closely for a long moment, before a soft, sad smile crossed his lips.
“Shh,” he murmured soothingly, rising up on his toes to kiss Adam again, before drawing back to meet his eyes and adding in a hushed, gentle tone, “I know exactly what you need.”
One of the things that Adam had always appreciated about Brad had always been the way he’d seemed to just get Adam on a deep, instinctive level, understanding how he was feeling and what was motivating his actions, often even before Adam understood. A few words, a look into his eyes, and Brad could immediately see the desperation Adam was feeling. As he recognized what Adam was going through, and what he needed from him, Brad responded with tenderness and understanding in the place of his former anger.
At the moment, Adam was more comfortable with the anger.
Brad opened his mouth to speak, no doubt to say something soothing and reassuring and designed to downplay the overwhelming sense of guilt Adam was feeling – but Adam didn’t want his guilt downplayed, because he knew it wouldn’t do any good.
He knew he wouldn’t buy it.
There were no excuses, no reasons good enough to make what he’d done with Kurt – what he’d almost done with Kurt, God, had he really almost gone there? – all right. It was undeniably and utterly wrong, and Adam didn’t want to fool himself into thinking otherwise. That was the most dangerous thing he could possibly do.
But – it couldn’t hurt just to forget for a little while – could it?
Brad never got to say whatever it was he was going to say, because Adam was on him before he could speak, one hand hard on the back of his neck, dragging him in for a fierce, desperate kiss into which Adam poured every ounce of the frustrated desire he’d been left with when he’d practically chased Kurt out his door.
There was the briefest inkling of resistance, a sinking moment in which Adam was sure that Brad was going to pull away and hold up his hands and be gentle and concerned and tell Adam that they should stop, that this wasn’t going to solve anything, that they needed to talk about this…
But then, that moment was gone, and Brad was kissing him back, matching his fervor, as Adam gripped his waist with his free hand and spun them both around, backing Brad toward the sofa and then hooking a foot behind Brad’s ankle so that he lost his balance and fell onto it, Adam falling with him, and then immediately resuming the kiss.
It felt right, and normal, and familiar – the direct antithesis of the way he felt with Kurt.
Brad’s hands were sure and certain, already knowing by heart where to touch, what to do to make Adam forget whatever troubling, guilty – hell, even vaguely coherent – thoughts filled his mind. The taste of his mouth, his familiar scent and the fit of his body against Adam’s – how many times had Adam taken comfort in this, in the wake of a bad breakup or a particularly stressful week at work?
He’d taken comfort in Brad, like this – when Tyler died.
Adam shuddered, tried to put it out of his mind, tried to focus on Brad – but all he could see behind his closed eyes was Kurt – Kurt’s mouth, soft and yielding, or twisted into a cleverly sarcastic smirk; Kurt’s eyes, vulnerable and pleading, or blazing with fury – either way, bright with tears. Kurt was sharp and soft at the same time, hard as steel and yet vulnerable and expressive, smart and strong and brave and ambitious – everything Adam could have hoped for in a man.
Except you’re going to have to just keep on hoping – because he’s not a man, Adam.
He’s a child.
He may be mature for his age, but he’s still so young – so innocent and hopeful and trusting, and – and you can’t take all that from him, Adam. He’s not ready to be what you need, not ready to give himself completely to anyone – not ready for this…
Adam tried to shut it out, losing himself in sensation, until it overwhelmed him and finally took him over the edge, sweeping away all the worry and guilt and confusion, if only for a few brief moments of pleasure – but it was a bittersweet, painful pleasure he took in being with Brad – because it only reminded him of all that he couldn’t have.
Brad laughed softly from where he lay on the sofa beneath Adam, reaching up with shaking fingertips to push back a lock of damp hair from Adam’s forehead. “God, that was… that was just…” His voice trailed off, his smile fading as he studied Adam’s face. “… as if I wasn’t even here at all, wasn’t it?” he concluded at last, his tone light but sympathetic. “You have really got it bad for this kid, haven’t you, Adam?”
“Yeah,” Adam admitted with a heavy sigh, lowering his head to rest against Brad’s shoulder, his heart aching with the realization that had been forming in his mind for a long time already, but only just now found its voice. “Yeah. And I have to end it. For good, this time.”
At first, Kurt thought he was just imagining things. It was all in his head. After all, his head had been a pretty busy, confusing place over the past few days. He was preoccupied with thoughts of Adam, and everything that had happened between them, and what they even were now, because they’d long since left “friends” in the dust behind them – but Adam wouldn’t allow them to become anything more than that, and it was all so thoroughly distracting that Kurt couldn’t give much thought to anything else.
As the morning progressed, however, the strange behavior of his fellow students began to work its way into his awareness – the way they’d go strangely quiet when he’d meet them in the halls, or give him weird, smirking looks, waiting until he’d passed to resume their conversations in conspiratorial whispers.
By lunch time, Kurt was beginning to feel uneasy, and a little sick, no longer able to deny that there was definitely something going on. When he passed the table in the cafeteria where Blaine held court with his circle of friends, that feeling intensified. Kurt’s stomach gave a violent lurch as one of Blaine’s friends saw him and nudged Blaine’s shoulder, nodding in his direction. Blaine glanced at Kurt, then leaned in close to his friends and whispered something that made the entire table erupt in laughter – all but Jeremy, who was sitting beside Blaine, as usual, so close that he might as well have been in his lap, and shooting Kurt a bitter glare.
Kurt felt his face grow hot with embarrassment as he was forced to pass the table full of boys who didn’t even bother to pretend that they weren’t talking about him. He hurried his pace and took a seat at a table at the opposite end of the room – then stared listlessly at the tray of food he’d chosen.
None of it looked even remotely appetizing anymore.
Kurt glanced up as a shadow passed over him, noticing one of the Warblers – David – who seemed to be about to take a seat at his table. Then, David noticed that Kurt was sitting there, and abruptly turned away, scanning the cafeteria for another place to sit.
“David, wait.” Kurt objected, reaching out to catch the other boy’s sleeve before he could get too far away. “Just a minute – please?”
David winced, eyes uneasily averted, but he did stop. He didn’t put down his tray, though, and he only spared a reluctant glance at Kurt as he sighed, “What is it? I’m – I’m kind of busy…”
“And you just suddenly remembered that after you saw I was sitting here?” Kurt shot back, his tone flat and resigned. “David, I know you’re Blaine’s friend, and I know we broke up, but that doesn’t mean you have to pretend I don’t exist, does it?”
David bit his lower lip, his uncertain glance toward Blaine’s table making it clear that he wasn’t so sure of the answer to that question.
“Look,” Kurt sighed. “You don’t have to eat lunch with me. You don’t even have to look me in the eye, but would you please just tell me what everybody’s been whispering about all day? I mean – I know we broke up, and I know Blaine’s – really popular and all, but – it doesn’t seem like it should be such big news. What the heck is the big deal, anyway?”
David hesitated, lips parted to respond, before shaking his head and turning away.
“David, please!” Kurt hissed, standing up and blocking the other boy’s path. “I have a right to know what they’re saying!”
David winced, drawing in a slow breath before finally meeting Kurt’s eyes. “It’s not that big a deal,” he replied at last in a tone that was not even close to convincing. “It’s just – Blaine told everybody about – what happened between the two of you this weekend. That’s all.”
Kurt’s stomach dropped, and he dropped David’s gaze, swallowing hard. “That’s all?” he echoed numbly. He couldn’t quite believe that Blaine could be so cold as to not only dump him for not being willing to sleep with him, but to then proceed to spread the news all over school as to what an immature, pathetic loser Kurt was for not being ready.
“Yeah.” David shrugged, attempting a smile. “It’s – really not that big a deal, Kurt. I mean – a lot of guys would probably be proud of it. It – it’s just sex…”
Kurt’s frown deepened with confusion as David went on, until his last few words left Kurt at a total loss. He shook his head slowly. “Wait – David – what exactly did Blaine say happened this weekend?”
David blinked, surprised. “He said the two of you got a hotel room and had sex.”
“He – what?” Kurt could barely breathe, staring at David in horrified disbelief. “And – that’s what everyone is laughing about?” He frowned; it didn’t make sense.
David looked away with an apologetic grimace, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. “Well, uh – actually that’s probably because – he also said – it kinda sucked.”
You kind of sucked. That’s what he means… what Blaine’s telling everyone. Kurt’s mind raced, his face flushing with humiliation as what David had told him sunk in. You didn’t want to sleep with him, but he’s telling everyone you did to save face… and making you look like a slutty, stupid, bad-in-bed loser in the process…
Kurt drew in a shaky breath, squaring his shoulders as he met David’s gaze, his jaw set with fierce determination.
“Excuse me for a moment,” he said quietly, spinning on his heel and heading back across the cafeteria toward Blaine’s table.
He ignored the pointing and laughing as Blaine’s friends called his attention to Kurt’s approach long before he actually reached them. He narrowed his eyes and kept his posture straight and strong as he stopped in front of Blaine, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Blaine Anderson, you are such a liar,” he declared in a seething hiss.
Blaine’s friends fell silent, looking toward Blaine for his reaction to the accusation – but Blaine just raised his eyebrows, an amused smirk on his lips. “Really,” he replied. “And what exactly have I lied about, Kurt?”
“You told everyone that we – slept together this weekend,” Kurt announced, his cheeks burning, his voice trembling but as strong as he could make it. “That’s a lie. I told you I didn’t want to, and you wouldn’t listen to me, but – but we did not have sex, Blaine. And I want you to tell them that – tell them the truth.”
Blaine was quiet for a moment, his dark eyes filled with a pitying sort of amusement that only fueled Kurt’s anger, and he sighed before turning to face Kurt more fully, his tone level and sympathetic.
“Kurt – I get why you wouldn’t want anyone to know about it. I mean – if I had my first time and realized that I was that bad at – well, everything even remotely resembling sexy – I’d probably try to forget it ever happened, too.”
One of Blaine’s friends broke the startled silence with a stifled snort of laughter, and then the others joined in, a few of them having the good graces to at least attempt to hide it. Fueled by their approval, Blaine continued, giving Kurt a derisive up and down look.
“Believe me, it wasn’t one of the most earth-shaking moments of my life, either.” His tone was condescendingly generous as he continued, as if he was trying very hard to be nice. “It was – fun, I guess. In a really boring kind of way. Just – kind of forgettable. Maybe that’s why you don’t remember it.” He put pointed air quotes around the last few words, rolling his eyes and turning dismissively back towards his lunch.
“I don’t remember it because it didn’t happen,” Kurt insisted, his voice shaking with frustrated humiliation and hurt, fighting back the hot tears that filled his eyes. “And you have no right to…”
“Kurt. Please.” Blaine didn’t even deign to look at him again, shaking his head pityingly. “I don’t know why you’re trying to lie about this, but no one believes you. So why don’t you just quit while you’re ahead? Or you know – not quite as behind, anyway.”
Blaine’s friends laughed again, one of them barking out a barely masked “slut!” under a cough. Blaine ducked his head as if embarrassed to be laughing at the rude joke – but he was laughing.
They all were.
Too hurt and confused and utterly caught off guard to manage any further argument, there was nothing left for Kurt to do but to walk away – humiliated and in tears.
The first voice lesson Kurt skipped didn’t surprise Adam at all, or really even worry him all that much. After all, he’d handled the whole “breaking things off” thing rather disastrously. It only made sense if Kurt didn’t really feel like being around him at the moment. It would naturally take him a little time to get over the perceived rejection.
When Kurt missed a second lesson, however, Adam became genuinely concerned.
The sinking feeling in his stomach when he realized that he was going to have to track the boy down after all made him aware of the fact that he’d actually felt a sense of relief at Kurt’s absence for the past week or so, at not having to deal with the temptation and frustration and confusion. Since he’d made the decision to end it for good, he missed Kurt, but in a way it was just so much easier to not see him at all.
And that realization, of course, led to a freshly overpowering sense of guilt.
You’ve really let him down, Adam. Went from being a supportive mentor, to a place where you can barely stand to be around him because you don’t trust yourself not to cross the line.
Well, he needs you to suck it up and be a grown-up, Adam. So why don’t you do that, and pick up the fucking phone?
The message he left on Kurt’s cell was brief and vague enough to make him feel even more guilty, for the care he was taking to protect himself.
“Kurt – look, I – I’m really sorry. I mean, I’m kinda not because – I still mean what I said, but – but I’m sorry if I made you feel like you can’t talk to me, because – that’s the last thing I wanted. I-I’m just worried about you. Please call me, or – or come by my office, or – just let me know that you’re… okay. About… everything. Okay? Talk to you later then. All right. Bye.”
Adam didn’t really expect a call back. After the disastrous way their last encounter had gone, Adam would have been surprised to hear Kurt’s ringtone ever again.
And the fact that he even has a ringtone on your phone is proof enough that you’ve gotten in way over your head.
Adam was shocked when Kurt actually showed up at his office near the end of the day.
He knocked timidly on the door, opening it a little, then stood there in the doorway for a few moments, not coming in. His face was red and streaked with tears, and his voice was hoarse, breaking over his words.
“I-I need to talk to you.”
Torn, Adam watched uneasily as Kurt stepped into his office, then turned to carefully close the door behind him.
“Wait,” Adam objected, as gently as possible, holding up his hand with an apologetic grimace. “Just – leave it open, okay?”
Kurt froze, his hand on the door, his shoulders rising in indignation, a stubborn set to his mouth – which abruptly gave way to a bitter smile, his posture falling with defeat as he sadly shook his head.
“Why not?” His whispered rasp was loud in the silence. “The whole school’s already talking about me, anyway. What difference does it make?”
Adam’s stomach flipped uncomfortably, his pulse quickening with fear at those words.
“Go ahead and close it,” he decided after a moment’s hesitation.
It made him feel like a horrible person, but it occurred to him that whatever was being said about Kurt around school, whatever had the boy seeking him out in tears, was just possibly something that he might not want anyone who happened down the hall to be able to hear, either.
As soon as the door was shut, Adam leaned across the desk a little, trying to catch Kurt’s gaze. Kurt remained silent, gaze averted, and Adam knew that before he could expect Kurt to open up to him, he had to attempt to make things right between them.
“Kurt – I’m sorry,” he began softly. “I’m sure you know this already, but – what I did to you was – so wrong. I mean – I wasn’t wrong to end it. I was – wrong to let it start. Wrong to – to lead you on.”
Kurt finally looked up at him, and Adam found that he had to look away, guilty and ashamed by the hurt in Kurt’s eyes, and uncomfortable with the knowing spark there, the unmistakable certainty that Kurt knew that Adam had never led him on. Whatever Adam had said he’d felt, he’d felt – and that was the problem.
“Worst of all, though,” Adam continued, swallowing hard. “Worst of all was – that I stopped being your friend, when I stopped – everything else. And – that was so unfair to you, Kurt.”
Kurt was quiet for a moment, and Adam ventured a glance up at the boy, who was staring down at the desk, picking idly at the corner of the blotter nearest to him.
“Yeah, well,” Kurt said softly, “That just makes you fit in with the rest of this stupid, fucking school.”
Adam blinked, taken aback by the venom in Kurt’s quiet words, as well as by the words themselves. Kurt wasn’t much for profanity. He had once told Adam that he found it a weak, classless method of communication – and then he’d immediately blushed and began apologizing profusely.
Adam had laughed it off, grinning and agreeing that Kurt was “probably absolutely fucking right.”
Now, Kurt finally ventured a wry half-smile and a shrug in response to Adam’s obvious shock. “Sorry. I’ve been hanging out with this guy with just a filthy mouth lately. Must be rubbing off on me.”
Oh, God. There’s like three different innuendos in what he just said, and that sly smile on his face, but – but he didn’t mean it like that, don’t think that, that’s not what he meant, damn it, stupid dirty mind…
“And besides…” Kurt’s smile fell away as he concluded sadly, “… sometimes that’s the only word that fits how you feel.”
Instantly, Adam’s distractingly inappropriate thoughts receded, and he reached out across the desk to take Kurt’s hand. Kurt did not pull away, but still stared at the desk, eyes wide and welling with tears that he was struggling to keep from falling. His muttered, resentful words trembled with emotion as he fought to maintain some semblance of control.
“Just – fuck it. Fuck Blaine. Fuck Dalton. Fuck them all.” He paused, glaring up at Adam as his tears began to escape, one sliding down his face. “Fuck you.”
Adam was quiet for a moment, swallowing slowly. “I – I know I deserve that,” he replied at last, pausing before asking gently, “What happened, Kurt? I don’t have any right to ask you to talk to me, but – you’re here for a reason, right? So – tell me.”
The story that Kurt told, in halting, disjointed phrases, made less coherent by his tears, made Adam’s blood run cold – and then very, very hot. By the end of it, he wanted to storm out of his office and track down Blaine Anderson and initiate some very inappropriate contact between his fist and Blaine’s face. But instead, against his better judgment, Adam had drawn the blinds and come around the desk to sit beside Kurt, putting his arms around him while Kurt cried quietly, letting out his hurt and humiliation at Blaine’s ruthless assault on his self-worth, and his reputation.
“I told him no,” he pointed out in frustration. “I chose not to do anything with him that I wasn’t ready for – and now I’m dumped and alone and the whole school thinks I’m a slut and a loser and – and maybe I should have just done it! Then I’d still have Blaine, and nobody would be talking about me, and… and…”
“Hey.” Adam’s voice was gentle, but stern, as he drew back, tipping Kurt’s chin up to make him look at him. “You are so much smarter than that, Kurt Hummel. I don’t want to hear that kind of crap out of your mouth again. Do you understand me?”
Kurt nodded sadly, but it was more automatic than anything.
“I told you what he did to Tyler,” Adam persisted, his voice softer. “You saw for yourself that when he didn’t get what he wanted from you, he just tossed you aside like you didn’t matter – and you do matter, Kurt. You do.”
Kurt looked down again, sniffling and nodding automatically, as if barely registering Adam’s words – and then, slowly, he looked up at Adam again with dawning realization in his eyes. Adam watched, dismayed, as abruptly Kurt’s lower lip began to quiver, and he lowered his head into his hands, crying again. Adam helplessly rubbed his shoulder, trying to comfort him, utterly at a loss.
“Kurt? What? What did I say?”
Kurt just shook his head. “Nothing,” he whispered once he had regained control. “You didn’t… didn’t say anything wrong, it’s just…” He paused, looking up to meet Adam’s eyes with the first truly genuine smile since he’d walked into Adam’s office, cautiously hopeful even through his tears. “… it’s just… I think I need to go home.”
Adam frowned, troubled by the conflicting emotions raised within him by those words. “For – for how long?” he asked softly.
“I don’t know.” Kurt looked away, shaking his head, before meeting Adam’s eyes again uncertainly. “A few days? I just…” He hesitated, swallowing back a sob as he struggled to explain, “I just… need my family right now. I need – I need my dad.”
“You wanted to see me, Mr. Lambert?”
Blaine was wearing a cheery red and gray striped sweater vest pulled on over his Dalton-issued shirt and slacks, his blazer draped casually over his arm, as he pushed open the door to Adam’s office and stepped inside, closing the door carefully. He turned to face Adam with a smile, his dark eyes wide and bright and innocent.
Again, Adam felt the intense desire to wipe that false innocence from the boy’s face with his fist – but he resisted. Giving in to the impulse to make Blaine pay for how deeply he’d hurt Kurt could only result in more trouble for all concerned – and least of all for Blaine.
No, there were wiser ways of dealing with situations like this.
“Have a seat.”
Adam nodded toward the chair across from his, waiting until Blaine was seated, his blazer hung neatly across the back of his chair, before rising to his feet and coming around the desk to lean against it, only a few feet remaining between him and the boy with the confident gaze and the questioningly raised brow.
“We need to talk.”
Blaine blinked in apparent confusion, his expression still bemused, the hint of a smile on his lips. “Okay. About what?”
Blaine’s smile fell from his lips, but his dark eyes sparkled with a malicious glint of amusement. “My ex-boyfriend?” He paused, his measured tone going cold. “How, in any universe you can imagine, is that any of your business?”
Unfazed, Adam observed quietly, “You’ve had a lot of boyfriends at Dalton, haven’t you, Blaine?”
“Are you calling me a slut, Mr. Lambert?” Blaine’s eyes were wide with false, exaggerated dismay. “Because that would be incredibly inappropriate. In fact – I’m pretty sure everything about this conversation so far is incredibly inappropriate.”
“No,” Adam replied, his words measured and calm. “What’s inappropriate is you trying to take advantage of a vulnerable underclassman, then spreading rumors to humiliate him when he refuses to let you do it.”
Blaine just silently held Adam’s gaze for a long moment – and then his appraising expression slowly shifted into a smug smile. His voice was quiet, almost secretive, when at last he replied.
“Oh, Kurt didn’t refuse to let me do anything, Mr. Lambert.” Blaine hesitated just a moment, glancing away, as if still undecided as to exactly how far he wanted to take this – and then added with a subtly defiant upward tilt of his chin as he met Adam’s eyes again, “In fact, he was all too eager to give it up. Of course, ‘skills’ like his, you’d have to give away.”
Adam glared down at the boy, resisting the impulse to lash out in defense of his friend. With an effort, he managed to restrict his response to words alone.
“You’re not fooling anyone, Blaine. I know Kurt.” Adam paused a moment before adding softly, “And I know you.”
“Yeah.” Blaine’s eyes narrowed over a cold smile. “You know Kurt really well, don’t you? In fact, that’s why I’m here, isn’t it? Jealousy is very unattractive on you, you know.”
“I’m not jealous of you!” Adam spat out, his voice rising with anger. “I’m worried about the vulnerable, innocent boys you keep targeting!”
Blaine rolled his eyes. “I haven’t done anything to anyone,” he scoffed.
“Tyler is dead because of you!” Adam snarled, standing up straight, towering over Blaine.
Blaine didn’t even flinch, his legs crossed casually, elbows resting on the arms of the chair as he replied without hesitation. “He’s dead because he was the kind of idiot who allows a single relationship to determine his self-worth. I broke up with him. That’s all. So how is it my fault if he decided that meant his life wasn’t worth living anymore?”
Adam closed his eyes for a moment, fighting back the hot sensation of frustrated anger building up in his chest at Blaine’s gross simplification of their shared history. “That’s not what happened…”
Blaine continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “I didn’t make that choice for him. I didn’t make Kurt’s choices, either. You’re just pissed off that he chose to give it up to me…” Blaine’s face twisted into an ugly sneer. “… and he didn’t tell you all the delicious details.”
The twisted accusation in Blaine’s words made Adam feel sick, as his frustration mounted at Blaine’s utter unflappability, his casual dismissal when faced with his own guilt. It didn’t matter, though. Adam should have known by now, he realized, that there was no way he was getting through to Blaine. He still had a chance to help Kurt, though, and he was going to do everything in his power to do so.
“Here it is, Blaine,” he snapped, refusing to so much as acknowledge Blaine’s baiting words. “I’m just going to lay it out for you. You’re going to stop talking about Kurt.”
Blaine raised his eyebrows, clearly amused, but said nothing.
“You’re going to tell your friends that you lied. And you’re going to stay the fuck away from him – or I will see that you regret it.”
“Are you threatening me?” Blaine replied slowly, incredulously. “Because you can’t punish me. I haven’t broken any rules…”
“Who said anything about punishment?” Adam shot back, a grim smile coming over his face as he shrugged slightly and leaned back against his desk. “Maybe I’ll just make the executive decision that it’s time for the Warblers to branch out a little… start showcasing some of their more underused talent...” Just in case Blaine was missing his point, Adam stated it a bit more clearly, holding the boy’s gaze and taking an admittedly petty enjoyment in watching its smugness give way to a very real apprehension. “… Maybe it’s time for them to start giving someone else a chance at all those solos they keep giving to you for every single performance.”
“You… you can’t do that!” Blaine sputtered at last, rising to his feet as Adam casually moved around the desk to take his seat again. “You have no right…”
“Actually,” Adam cut him off with quiet authority, “that sign on my door says I do.” He picked up a pen from his desk and pointedly positioned it over a form he’d finished filling out hours ago. “That will be all, Blaine. I have work to do.”
“We’re done here, Mr. Anderson. Now get out of my office.”
Blaine stood there for a moment, his jaw set with stubborn resentment, fist clenched at his side, and Adam almost hoped he’d refuse to obey, and give Adam a reason to mete out some actual disciplinary action – but unfortunately, Blaine was smarter than that. After a few tense moments, Blaine’s fist slowly unclenched with a visible effort, and he turned toward the door, his movements stiff and choppy with anger.
“Yes, sir,” he muttered in a voice that was low and seething, before almost-but-not-quite slamming the door behind him.
Adam couldn’t suppress a smile of satisfaction as he collected his things and prepared to go home for the day.
Maybe now, when Kurt got back to Dalton, he’d find it a far more welcoming, comfortable place to be.
Burt Hummel glanced at the clock above the office door and sighed with relief as he stepped through said door, grabbing a rag from the shelf and wiping his hands clean before sitting down behind his desk and preparing to close out the garage’s books for the day. The day had been longer than usual, as he’d tried his best to focus on his work, and keep his mind off what was going on at home.
Of course, he’d failed miserably.
For the first time in quite a while, Kurt had unexpectedly come home for the weekend.
He’d walked through the front door on Friday evening, dropped his bags on the living room floor, and immediately given his startled father a tight, almost desperate hug. He didn’t let go for a long time, just tightening his grip and hiding his face against Burt’s shoulder when Burt had finally, cautiously attempted to pull away.
“You okay, kiddo?” Burt asked, but Kurt didn’t answer, and to his dismay, Burt could feel his son trembling, knew that although he was completely silent, Kurt was crying.
Eventually, Burt led Kurt to the sofa, and they sat there a while, Kurt’s head leaned against Burt’s shoulder as he sniffled quietly every now and then, but didn’t answer Burt’s concerned questions. Finally, all Burt could do was just give up and simply wait until Kurt was ready to talk.
When Kurt did, Burt’s blood began to boil as he listened to Kurt’s story of how Blaine had broken his heart, leaving him confused and devastated and desperately hurting. Kurt told his father that there was another boy, and that Blaine hadn’t given him any warning, had simply dropped him in favor of someone else, and then proceeded to spread rumors about Kurt all over Dalton.
Somehow, Burt felt that there was more to the story than that, but he didn’t push. Kurt seemed to be having a hard enough time talking about it already. Regardless of what exactly he was holding back, Kurt seemed to feel better after pouring it all out to his dad; the last thing Burt wanted to do was to make Kurt feel like he couldn’t talk freely to him.
But now, he was sitting at home alone – and Burt just wanted to get back to him and make sure he was all right.
The bell over the main entrance to the garage rang at just after five, when he was finishing up the last of his paperwork, and Burt’s heart sank. He immediately began trying to think of the quickest way to get rid of whoever had just walked through his door without coming across as rude.
When he saw who it was, however, any concern about courtesy vanished from his mind.
The last person he had expected to see was the dark-haired boy in the Dalton blazer whose framed picture currently adorned the wall of Kurt’s bedroom.
“Mr. Hummel?” The boy gave Burt a disarming smile, his head ducked self-consciously as he took a hesitant step into Burt’s office. “I’m Blaine Anderson. Do you – have a minute? I’d like to talk to you.”
“About what?” Burt carefully kept his tone neutral, though he was a bit more forceful with the papers he was shoving back into the filing cabinet than was strictly necessary. He took a breath and reined it in, well aware that if he allowed his anger to show, it’d only let Blaine know how badly he’d managed to hurt Kurt – and Burt wasn’t willing to give him that satisfaction. “You broke up with Kurt a few days ago, right? So what have we got to talk about?”
“Actually, no,” Blaine replied, and Burt looked up with a frown. “Mr. Hummel…” Blaine’s dark eyes were sad and troubled. “… Kurt broke up with me.”
“Really.” Burt studied the boy closely. “That so.”
“Yeah,” Blaine continued, nodding as he looked up at Burt with a pleading expression in his eyes. “Just – out of the blue. He wouldn’t even tell me why, but… but I think I know. And – and I’m worried about him, Mr. Hummel.”
Blaine was staring down at his feet, one arm crossed protectively over his chest as he bit his lip and shifted uneasily back and forth. Burt’s frown deepened; this didn’t seem like the self-assured playboy brat that Kurt had described. But Kurt had no reason to lie to him; Kurt didn’t lie to him, in fact. Ever.
“Why?” Burt demanded, fixing his suspicious glare on the boy in front of him, feeling a sharp sense of satisfaction when Blaine flinched slightly under his gaze, looking away. “What is there to worry about?”
Blaine was quiet for a long moment, drawing in a deep, shaky breath before meeting Burt’s eyes again. “Mr. Hummel…” His voice was soft and hesitant. “I – I hate to even bring this up. It – it might be nothing. But – well – have you met our music instructor? Mr. Lambert?”
Monday morning found Adam in his office, getting ready for the week ahead of him – and trying not to think about Kurt, and how his weekend at home had gone, and how he was doing. After all that he’d been through in the past week, it was a good thing, Adam knew, for Kurt to return to more familiar territory, to the comfort and security of his family, and try to regain his bearings.
And maybe when he comes back, he’ll understand a little better why we had to end things. Maybe all he needs to level his head is a good talk with his dad…
Adam frowned, suddenly uneasy as it suddenly occurred to him to wonder just what all that “good talk” might entail.
Kurt wouldn’t tell his dad about… about us… Adam winced, immediately guilty at that thought. Not that he shouldn’t tell his dad… it’s not like he has to keep this a secret, if it’s hurting him, if it’s one of the things he has to work out, but… but if he does tell his dad…
Adam tried not to think about what would happen if Kurt decided to do that – but throughout his day, the idea lingered in the back of his thoughts. It was even more frustrating and upsetting because it was completely outside of his control – not that he would have tried to control it if he could have.
If Kurt wants to talk about it… if he needs to talk about it… then that’s what he should do.
No matter what that means for my career… my life…
There was no use worrying about something that was completely out of his hands. However, Adam couldn’t stop worrying about it. The first couple hours of his day were highly unproductive, and by mid-morning, he had decided that he was simply not going to accomplish much that day – or until Kurt got back to Dalton and he could find out about his time at home.
The firm knock on his door just before lunch time was a welcome distraction.
“Come in,” he called.
His stomach dropped at the sight of Burt Hummel striding purposefully into his office, firmly closing the door behind him. Adam swallowed hard as Mr. Hummel turned to face him, his eyes blazing with anger.
“M-Mr. Hummel,” Adam managed with a weak smile. “How can I help you?”
“Need to talk to you,” Mr. Hummel replied grimly. “I think we have a problem.”
“I think we have a problem.”
The expression on Burt Hummel’s face was grim and angry, and Adam’s stomach leapt up into his throat at the sight of it. He remembered all the stories Kurt had told him of how very protective his father could be, of how he’d stood up for his son so many times, often even at risk to his own health. One particular tale that involved threats of showing up with a flamethrower stuck in Adam’s mind. Adam glanced down at Mr. Hummel’s clenched fist at his side, and his throat seemed to close up. He struggled to swallow down the worst of his fears, trying to remain calm until he knew exactly what Mr. Hummel was talking about.
“Problem?” he echoed, shaking his head slowly. “What…?”
“I sent him up here so he’d be safe, you know?” Burt was pacing now, obviously agitated, his voice trembling with frustration. “So he wouldn’t have to worry about being picked on and threatened and… and the last thing I want is to think that while he’s been a hundred miles away from home and not a damn thing I can do about it, my boy’s been… taken advantage of by some slick, sleazy asshole who’s preying on his vulnerability, you know?”
Adam’s stomach dropped, his worst fears confirmed by Burt’s words. He closed his eyes for a moment, struggling to come up with some kind of an adequate response – and coming up completely blank. His voice was soft, cautious, stumbling awkwardly over his words. “Mr. Hummel, I – I swear, I never…”
“Nobody’s blaming you, Lambert,” Burt sighed, sinking into the chair in front of Adam. “It’s not like you could have seen this coming.”
Adam blinked, staring at Mr. Hummel in confusion. Burt wasn’t even looking at him, shaking his head slowly. “It’s not like you could have known what was going on. So.” He looked up abruptly, a dangerous gleam in his eyes over a grim smile that only served to increase Adam’s sense of terror, although it was increasingly clear that the threat wasn’t aimed in his direction. “What are we gonna do about this Anderson kid?”
Adam just stared for a long moment, his mind struggling to catch up with the rather relieving turn the conversation had taken. “Blaine?” he replied blankly.
“Yeah, Blaine Anderson.” Burt was beginning to sound a little impatient. “As in, the little prick who cheated on and dumped my boy, then showed up at my garage with a bunch of wild accusations against you.”
Adam’s stomach dropped again, eyes widening as he struggled to find the breath to respond. “Wh-what?”
Burt nodded with an apologetic grimace. “Yeah. Sorry to break it to you like this, but – the kid showed up with some crazy story about you – taking advantage of Kurt.” He shook his head, raising a hand in a reassuring gesture. “I want you to know I didn’t buy it for a second. You’ve been a good friend to this family since Kurt came here. I know you two have become close, and – a kid like Kurt really needs that, you know? Even if I didn’t know what I do now about the Anderson kid – the way he played my son and broke his heart – I still wouldn’t have believed it.”
The sick fear tightening in Adam’s chest slowly began to settle into a heavy knot in the pit of his stomach, an overwhelming sense of guilt coming over him as he processed Burt’s words of loyalty and trust – words he hardly felt he deserved.
If he only knew – what you’ve done, what you’ve almost done – with his son… one or both of you’d be going to jail by the end of this conversation…
He could barely manage to raise his voice over a whisper as he replied.
“Thank you, Mr. Hummel. That – that means a lot.”
“Kurt told me how Blaine played him, so – when the kid showed up, I knew already not to trust him. Also, he’s not quite as smooth as he thinks he is.”
Adam shook his head, staring down at his desk for a moment before venturing to meet Burt’s eyes. “Kurt’s not the first kid he’s hurt. I – I know it maybe – wasn’t any of my business, but – I called him into my office. Had a talk with him about his – behavior, and – I guess he didn’t take it very well.”
Burt nodded slowly, taking that in. “So he came to me with that crazy story, just to get back at you for taking up for Kurt?” His tone was indignant. “That’s beyond being a sleazy little player. That’s – that’s dangerous, Adam. Could cost you your career if he told that story to the wrong person.”
“I know,” Adam replied, heart racing. “Blaine – doesn’t really think about anybody else. Just – what he wants, and – and I’m sorry I didn’t warn Kurt away from him in time.”
“Yeah, well,” Burt replied, giving him a speculative look, “Kurt told me you tried. That’s all you could do.” He was quiet for a moment, looking away, before adding softly, “The thing about my kid – when he falls, he falls hard, and fast, and – and there’s nothing that’ll keep him from riding it out to its end – even if that end is…” His voice trailed off, and he shook his head sadly before looking up to meet Adam’s eyes again. “I worry about his safety, you know. Living in this world. Being who he is. But – I think I worry even more about his heart.”
Adam met Burt’s gaze with sympathy, understanding exactly his concerns. “Yeah,” he agreed softly. “Me too.” He looked down at his desk again, swallowing hard, as his earlier determination solidified, strengthened by Burt’s words. “Mr. Hummel, I – I want you to know, I’m – looking out for Kurt. As long as he’s here. I’ll do my best to see that he’s – that he doesn’t get his heart broken again.”
Burt laughed softly, giving Adam a curious look. “Not sure there’s a lot you can do about that,” he sighed. “But I’ve gotta say, I appreciate it. You’ve been a good friend to Kurt, during a really tough time for – for our family, and – that means more than you know.”
Adam could barely raise his eyes from his desk, the weight of his own guilt holding them down – but he finally managed a tentative smile. “Well, the way you – welcomed me into your home, the – the trust you’ve placed in me – that means more than you could know, and I’m going to do everything I can to protect Kurt, and to – to stop Blaine from doing this to Kurt, or anyone else, ever again.”
“Yeah, about that.” Burt’s smile took on that vaguely predatory edge again, and Adam was again immensely relieved that his protective instincts were not aimed in Adam’s direction. “Kurt and I were talking this weekend – and we’ve got an idea. Tell me what you think of this…”
The following Saturday afternoon, Blaine was hanging out in one of Dalton’s spacious, comfortable common rooms with those few of his friends who hadn’t gone home for the weekend, holding court as usual. Of course, none of his other friends were getting much of his attention – not with Jeremy practically in his lap, draped all over him and hanging onto his every word. As Kurt watched out of the corner of his eye, Blaine glanced toward him, then leaned in with a nasty smirk to whisper something into Jeremy’s ear. Jeremy glanced toward Kurt as well, suppressing a laugh.
Kurt stood up from the table where he sat, alone with his textbooks. His face was flaming with humiliation, and all he wanted was to escape the quiet, cruel mockery that was no easier to bear than the open violence he had faced at McKinley. He heard Blaine’s table fall silent behind him, and knew they were just waiting for him to leave before they started talking about him again. He took a couple of steps toward the door – then abruptly changed his mind, spinning on his heel and crossing the room swiftly to stand directly in front of Blaine.
Blaine looked up at him with a smirk, a single eyebrow raised. “Really, Kurt. Didn’t we do this already?”
“I’m not talking to you,” Kurt snapped, crossing his arms over his chest and focusing his piercing gaze on Jeremy instead. “You know, I really hope you know what you’re getting into, but somehow, I kind of doubt it.”
Jeremy rolled his eyes before giving Kurt a dubious look. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I was where you are, just a couple of weeks ago,” Kurt continued in a matter-of-fact tone. “I was the one getting all Blaine’s attention – and living for it like a love-starved puppy.”
Jeremy glared at him, insulted, lips parted to protest – but Kurt wasn’t finished.
“But when I told Blaine I didn’t want to sleep with him – he tossed me aside in favor of someone who’s obviously a little more… eager.”
“Hey!” was Jeremy’s ineloquent protest – but there was an uneasiness forming in his expression, and he swallowed hard as he looked to Blaine for his reaction.
Blaine glared up at Kurt, all amusement vanished from his dark eyes as he retorted coldly, “You’re really out of line, Kurt. I think you should just walk away now.”
“No, I don’t think I should,” Kurt cut him off with quiet defiance, looking to Jeremy again. “He’s going to do the same thing to you – whether you do what he wants or not. Once he gets it – or he’s sure he’s not going to – he’s just going to find someone new to toy with.”
“Kurt, just go away,” Blaine snapped. “No one wants you here…”
“Did you guys have your first fight yet?” Kurt persisted, zeroing in on Jeremy. When Jeremy looked away, biting his lower lip, Kurt continued with quiet triumph, “I would imagine it was about him wanting to go farther than you were ready to go, wasn’t it? Stop me if I’m wrong.”
No one did.
“I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable, Jeremy,” Kurt went on, his voice softer, sympathetic. “But – I’m only saying all this because I’ve been through it. And – I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least try to warn you about what you’re getting into with Blaine. He’s a player, and a manipulator – and really, really nasty when he doesn’t get what he wants. So the best thing you can do, for yourself, Jeremy – is to just… follow my lead.”
And without waiting for a response, Kurt turned with a dramatic flourish and walked away.
As he’d expected, he’d barely made it halfway down the hall when Blaine caught up with him.
What he hadn’t expected was Blaine’s hands, angry and violent as he grabbed Kurt’s jacket and shoved him against the wall, hard.
“You little bitch!” Blaine snarled, threatening and furious as he jerked Kurt away from the wall, just to slam him into it again. “You are going to be so sorry for that!”
Kurt’s stomach clenched with fear, his heart racing, not only from the unexpected attack, but also from the memories that assailed his mind, bringing back the familiar pain and torment of the time right before he’d come to Dalton. He raised his hands in front of him in a disarming, almost pleading gesture, closing his eyes and turning his head away with a convulsive swallow in his throat, as Blaine moved in closer, withdrawing one hand from Kurt’s jacket to form it into a fist close to his face.
“Get your hands off him, Anderson.”
Both boys looked up – one with startled alarm, and the other with relief – at the sound of Adam’s voice. He was standing a few yards down the hall – Burt Hummel’s hand-held camcorder aimed in their direction.
“Not that it’ll help you at this point.” Adam lowered the camera with a grim smile. “They aren’t playing when they say ‘zero tolerance’ around here.”
The sun was bright and unseasonably warm in the quiet, brilliantly green little patch of grounds where Adam sometimes slipped away to have his lunch in solitude. The last time he’d been there, he’d been hiding from Kurt. Today, Kurt sat beside him, the two of them comfortably talking and laughing. The pressure of their confusing relationship seemed to have been lifted, at least for the moment, along with Blaine’s presence – and all either of them felt was exhilaration and triumph.
“You played your part just perfectly, Kurt,” Adam observed with a smile. “And he rose to the bait, just like you thought he would. Showed his true colors.” He paused, considering a moment before adding thoughtfully, “You probably saved Jeremy a lot of heartbreak later on.”
Kurt nodded. “He’s been talking to me a lot these past few days, actually. It’s like he’s just been waiting for someone to – to tell him he had a right to be upset about the way Blaine’s been treating him.” He swallowed hard, looking away. “Which, turns out, was – pretty much exactly the way he treated me. Blaine was – pretty convincing for a while, but – in the end, he was – just another kind of bully, you know? He mostly used words, and he did it with a smile on his face, but he had this way of making me feel like crap, just for – just for saying what I thought, or – or being who I am, and – and still leaving me thinking he was just trying to help me.”
“Yeah,” Adam scoffed, his tone darkening with anger. “Right up until the moment he crossed the line and put his hands on you.” He realized as the words left his lip just how they sounded, and cleared his throat a bit awkwardly, amending, “You know. In violence. I almost wish they hadn’t expelled him, so I could…” He stopped with a sigh, shaking his head. “No,” he decided. “No, it’s – it’s better that he’s just gone.”
Kurt’s expression softened with sadness. “You know, at McKinley – what he did in that hallway would have been nothing. I got worse than that a couple of times a day.” He was quiet for a moment. “And I was – starting to think I was going to have to go back, if – if Blaine hadn’t – if we hadn’t stopped him.”
“Well, now you don’t have to worry about that.” Adam hesitated, but then reached out a gentle hand to rest on Kurt’s shoulder, squeezing gently before withdrawing it. “He’s gone – and this can be a safe place for you again.”
“Yeah.” Kurt gave him a sideways look. “For you, too.”
“Yeah.” Adam sighed, shaking his head. “I’ll admit, I was worried for a minute there.” He let out a rueful laugh. “When your dad walked into my office, Kurt – I’ll tell you, at first I thought – well, I thought he was going to fucking kill me.”
“You?” Kurt raised an eyebrow in surprise. “You mean, you thought he was…” Realization slowly dawned in Kurt’s eyes, and he laughed, nodding slowly. “Because Blaine… yeah. Is it terrible of me to kind of wish I’d been there?”
Adam glared, reaching out a hand again, this time in a half-hearted shove against Kurt’s shoulder. Kurt dodged away, grinning. “I get it, though,” he continued. “My dad can be pretty scary when he thinks somebody’s hurt me. I hope he didn’t get to you too much.”
Adam didn’t reply for a long moment, his smile fading away.
Kurt frowned. “Adam?”
“He, uh – he kind of did. A little.”
“Adam – it’s all right. You didn’t do anything wrong. I know my dad can be a little – intense – when it comes to me, and – and I know he’s really worried about my virginal virtue right now, with me off so far away from home, and Blaine, and…”
“He’s worried about your heart.” Adam’s voice was soft, cautiously calm.
Kurt blinked, caught off guard. “What?” His voice was hushed, and a little bewildered. “What are you…?”
“He said – the thing he worries about the most isn’t your physical safety. He’s worried that you’re going to have your heart broken. Again.” Adam met Kurt’s eyes, and there was sadness, but firm resolution, in his gaze. “I promised him I wouldn’t let that happen.”
Kurt studied Adam closely for a moment before looking away. “Oh. So… this is… that conversation.”
Adam reached out and touched Kurt’s knee, halting and uncertain. “Kurt… you already… you had to know…”
“I do,” Kurt interrupted softly, nodding. “I do know. This – this couldn’t last.”
“No,” Adam sighed. “And – it’s not that you’re not – perfect, Kurt, because you are…” Adam leaned forward, earnestly seeking Kurt’s gaze. “That’s exactly why this has been so difficult for me, because… you are smart… funny… caring… fucking hot…”
Kurt couldn’t help smiling a little at that, shaking his head, clearly pleased, though he was looking away in embarrassment.
“You are,” Adam insisted. “You’re… everything I look for in a guy. And… if you were just… ten years older… five, even… “
When Adam didn’t continue, Kurt finally looked up at him again with a wistful smile, the innocent blush lingering on his cheeks a rather meaningful contrast to the knowing look of resignation in his eyes.
“But I’m not,” he concluded quietly. “And… you’re right. We could try to make this work, try to keep it up and hide it from everybody, but… neither of us would be satisfied with a relationship we had to keep secret, and… and eventually someone would find out… and we’d both get hurt. Most of all you.”
Adam bit the side of his lower lip, a guilty frown on his face as he shook his head. “I’m… not so sure about that.”
Kurt reached out to take Adam’s hand from his knee, squeezing it gently, reassuringly. “You haven’t done anything to hurt me.”
Adam was silent, not arguing, but not agreeing either. After a moment, he looked up, solemn and certain.
“And I’m not going to.”
Kurt nodded in reluctant acceptance, letting out a shaky, disappointed sigh. Then, he glanced around warily for a moment before leaning in close and pressing a swift, chaste kiss to Adam’s lips. Adam didn’t even have time to pull away before Kurt had withdrawn, smiling apologetically down at his knees, his hand still clutching Adam’s tightly. Adam’s shock slowly faded into a sympathetic smile, and he tilted Kurt’s head up with his free hand, holding his gaze for a moment as he moved in slowly to return the bittersweet gesture.
The second kiss was only a little deeper, lingering moments longer, as Adam closed his eyes and memorized the feel of Kurt’s lips under his – soft and yielding, drawing him in with a warmth and intimacy that Adam knew he was going to desperately miss. He drew back at last, meeting Kurt’s eyes with a sad smile before looking away, and withdrawing his hand.
“So… friends, then?” Kurt offered, his tone just a little too bright.
“Of course!” Adam assured him, a little too emphatically. “As long as you’re here at Dalton, Kurt, I’ve got your back, okay? I want you to know that. And… if you ever need to talk…”
“I know. I can come to you,” Kurt finished for him. “And… vice versa, of course.”
But the slightly awkward silence that descended held the truth they both already knew – that neither of them actually would. It would hurt too much, knowing what they’d almost had, the closeness they’d shared that they now had to let go of.
They would both try to maintain their friendship, but in the end – it’d simply be too difficult, too emotionally taxing, and they’d slowly stop making the effort to see each other, just to prove that they were still friends.
Kurt would attend Dalton for the next two years, and graduate – and even as Adam told him how much he’d miss him, and they shared an awkward, somewhat embarrassing hug goodbye… he’d feel a sense of relief at the pressure that was removed – the pressure of pretending that there was nothing more than an appropriate, student/teacher relationship between them, when they both knew, no matter how carefully they avoided compromising situations – they could never really go back to where they’d been when they were really just friends.
The years would go by, and gradually, they’d move on to new accomplishments and other relationships and… forget. Mostly. Until a flash of blue eyes across a crowded room, or a familiar song on the radio, would take them right back to the brief time and place that they’d shared. It wouldn’t hurt so much anymore, and there might even be a fond pleasure to the memories of what had been, and could have been.
And then one day, maybe, on a crowded New York City street, Kurt would be making his way toward rehearsal for his first headlining Broadway role. Adam would be merely vacationing in the city, though his mind would be unable to escape thoughts of the boy he once knew with the big Broadway dreams. They’d merely be making their own way to their own separate destinations, when through the crowd, perhaps there’d be a familiar flash of wide blue eyes – a familiar shock of jet black hair – and their attention would be drawn, once again, to each other.
And across the space of street, and across the years, their eyes would lock, and it all would come flooding back as if no time had passed at all… and as their footsteps would draw them close to each other again, they’d share a slow, secret smile.