When he was very little, he didn't understand the singing. Mama called it starsong and said that only very special people could hear it – and that he couldn't talk about it to anyone but her and Daddy.
Mama heard the starsong. Daddy didn't.
When Kurt was seven, Mama died fighting evil men, and Kurt listened and listened… but the stars never sang Mama's name again.
Without her guidance, he floundered in singing; through trial and error, he learned a rough estimate of what he could do. When he read an astronomy text at the age of nine, he realized how dangerous his playing was, so he stopped.
Dad asked him once, when he was ten, what his power was. "Your mama," Dad said, "she could call up storms. She told me you might could do that, too. Can you?"
Kurt shook his head, not meeting Dad's eyes.
"Well," Dad said. "What can you do?"
Kurt shrugged. "The stars… they talk to me."
Dad stared at him for a moment before saying, "Guess you're goin' to McKinley in a couple years."
Kurt nodded, and decided to add the rest, since he'd already admitted it. "I haven't… I've been ignorin' it. Since she died."
"Ah, kiddo," Dad sighed. "She wouldn't want that. You need to learn your limits, and control. Don't wanna throw a tantrum one day and blow up the sun or somethin' right?"
Kurt didn't laugh. After a moment, Dad's eyes widened, and he quit laughing, too.
When Kurt was fourteen, he walked into McKinley Academy for Gifted Students. Everyone knew it was actually a place for mutants to learn control, but it was government funded and no one wanted to start another war. Not after Magneto and Professor X showed exactly what a couple of scarily powered mutants could do.
Not that Kurt ever thought he was as strong as Magneto or Professor X. Of course not.
Like every other incoming freshman, Kurt had to register his power with the administration. The rest of the students were curious, too, about what powers the freshies had.
Kurt lied. He told everyone, from the principal to the special agent present every first day to the superstrong jock with the mohawk, that his power was simply pulling energy from the sun. His mother had been a weather-witch; Kurt was a disappointment, after that.
His mother had heard starsong, but that was their secret. Nobody else could ever know.
So Kurt kept his head down and got thrown into dumpsters because he was riding on his mother's coattails, and if he heard the stars growl sometimes, if solar flares happened whenever he got another bruise, if the storm on Jupiter intensified... well, that was his secret, too.
In sophomore year, Kurt tried out for the glee club. It was just for fun; he didn't see it going anywhere. He hadn't believed it possible, but the bullying got worse. He had the trifecta of targets on his back: he was weak, he was gay, he was flamboyant.
Most of the other kids in glee weren't all that powerful, but a girl named Mercedes had a supersonic scream that was pretty awesome. He tried befriending her and it went pretty well. Artie and Tina, a smalltime healer and a terrified-of-her-ability-telekinetic, became something like friends, too.
Kurt still kept his head down. Didn't fight back except with words. Clenched his fists, sometimes, and closed his eyes, and shouted at the stars to ignore everything. do nothing.
Kurt didn't get close to people. He couldn't. No one else heard the starsong, or realized how tired Kurt was getting.
But Mama had taught him to sing to let it out, and the stars listened, even if no one else did.
Magneto visited McKinley one day in Kurt's junior year. There was an assembly and everyone had to attend. Professor X was going to another school for mutants two hours away, one for more privileged kids. Kurt had been thinking about asking Dad if he could transfer there, but they were still paying for medical bills.
So Kurt went, sat next to Mercedes, and watched Magneto's presentation. He was old now, of course, but still so handsome, so commanding. Nobody fidgeted or laughed or dared check their phones. Everyone knew they owed Magneto and Professor X a huge debt – if not for them, mutants might be outlawed or locked up or killed at birth. But the war Magneto had started and Professor X finished… it had changed everything.
"Realize how important your gifts are," Magneto ordered them. "Learn your limits and then surpass them."
Kurt nodded and the sun flared.
"Charles told me to speak to you," Magneto said, and Kurt jerked his head up, spun around.
Magneto stood a foot away, hands at his side, smirking. The hall was empty. Kurt's back was bruised.
"Charl-Charles?" Kurt asked.
"Professor X," Magneto said, voice deep and silky and so goddamned commanding. Even if he was ancient, Kurt couldn't help the thrill shooting up his spine. "You interest him, Mr. Hummel – so much power, and you've barely begun to tap it. You are quite dangerous."
"I'm-I'm not," Kurt said, stepping back. "I, I just pull a little energy from the sun, that's all. I'm nothing."
Magneto laughed. "Of course, child," he said. "Charles simply wanted me to tell you one thing. Will you listen?"
"Of course," Kurt replied, bewildered.
Smiling, Magneto said, "When you are ready, shout for Charles. Shout as loudly as you can. Make the stars scream, if you must – but do nothing else. Call for Charles, no more, no less. Do you understand?"
"No." Kurt shook his head.
"Comprehension is not required, just obedience." Magneto's smile dropped away, and he stood tall, one of the most powerful mutants in the world.
"Okay," Kurt said. "I'll… I'll call for Professor X. When I'm ready for what?"
If Kurt told anyone, they'd never believe it, but Magneto shrugged. "I don't know. But the message is delivered. Have a good day, Mr. Hummel." He spun on his heel and stalked away.
Kurt watched him go.
Two days later, he snuck into Dalton Academy and his life changed.
Blaine was gay, could read minds, and wasn't bullied at all. At least, not at Dalton. He was, before, but now he was at the top of the pecking order, and he kept flirting with Kurt.
He also gave out the worst advice.
Kurt stared at Karofsky, a complete background bully until last month. Something changed, and he quickly became Kurt's worst tormenter. He wasn't anything special: his mutation let him talk to dogs, for god's sake.
Karofsky moved in for a second kiss and astronomers all over the world noticed that the rest of the solar system was shifting. Three dozen stars millions of lightyears away went supernova and Kurt shoved Karofsky back, pulling on the sun for the strength to do it.
After whining like one of his dogs, Karofsky fled. Kurt sank down, gasping for breath, pained and furious, and he thought about calling for Professor X. Instead, he sent a call out into the cosmos, and everything went back to the way it was before he panicked.
The astronomers had no idea what to do, or what had happened, but Kurt could not have cared less about that.
Kurt's first day at Dalton went much better than his first at McKinley. Most of the students had at least one famous parent, so Kurt's mother went mostly unremarked. Kurt joined the Warblers, palled around with Blaine, and hadn't felt this safe since before McKinley.
Dad was smiling, even though Dalton pulled on their finances, and Carole let him chatter about Blaine for hours, and Finn tried to look out for him.
Through it all, the stars hummed at him, and the planets whispered, and sometimes, Kurt sank into the song, throwing himself up and out, and wondering if his friends' god had felt like that.
Blaine kissed Kurt, blind eyes finally open, and Kurt himself nearly went supernova.
Santana tried some scheme to get Kurt back at McKinley, but he saw no reason at all to leave Dalton.
All of Kurt's McKinley friends dropped him the moment Santana told them he refused to come back. Finn kept giving him betrayed looks at home, but Dad told him to stay safe. Nothing was more important than that.
The Warblers were nice enough, and he liked most of them and was indifferent to the rest, but. Well. None of them, even Blaine, heard the starsong. Blaine had told him, when they first met, that Kurt's mind was closed to him. David, an empath, couldn't read him, either.
"I look into your head," Blaine explained, "and all I see is static. I know there's something there, but I can't see or hear it." He'd shrugged. David's explanation was basically the same.
They decided it had something to do with the nature-leaning of his mutation. Most elementals were immune to telepathy.
And Kurt wasn't the usual kind of elemental, but he didn't tell even Blaine that. Not yet.
One day midway through senior year, Dalton had a free day that McKinley didn't. Kurt was home, visiting Dad at the shop, and Blaine was with him, and Finn had left something at the house, so Kurt and Blaine brought it to him.
A few of the bigger bullies spotted them. Blaine shouted out a warning before getting punched in the gut, and the bullies were ranting about fags and wastes of space and show your faces around here? and learn your place!, and Kurt felt rage, such a screaming, roaring rage.
Calm. Calm yourself.
The voice shut everything else down. Kurt couldn't hear the bullies, or Blaine, or Puck getting involved even though they weren't friends and never really had been, or Coach Beiste shouting.
Good, very good, the voice said. Thank you for calling me, Mr. Hummel. This could have gone very poorly.
Professor X, Kurt thought. I didn't call you.
But you did, Professor X said gently. I'm all the way in Tokyo, child, and I heard you. Even you haven't realized your true strength, and if you'd lashed out instead of staying your hand… but you hesitated. Now, take a deep breath.
Kurt inhaled, and heard Mercedes shriek. Someone else cried out in pain.
Kurt exhaled and opened his eyes.
Blaine's parents sued McKinley. Kurt sat down with his dad and had a long discussion about Xavier Institute.
Finally, it was decided that Kurt would finish his education at Dalton then go to the Institute during the summer. From there, he'd decide on college.
Professor X said, You'll do wonderful things, Kurt. Erik was quite impressed by you.
Kurt told Blaine, "I'll never say goodbye to you."
Blaine said, "Of course not. I'm coming with you."
"Welcome," Professor X said, smiling at them both as stepped into Xavier's Institute. Magneto stood beside him, and he nodded to Kurt. "I'll show you to your room," Professor X continued, "and then take you both on the tour."
"Thanks," Blaine said, smiling. Kurt just nodded.
Don't worry, Kurt, Professor X murmured.
I'm not, Kurt lied.
"How come Xavier can read my mind," Kurt asked Blaine that night, as they curled up in their bed, "but you can't?"
Blaine kissed his neck. "I'm not strong enough," he said, hand trailing down Kurt's back. "Xavier might be the only telepath who can."
That made sense, but Kurt decided to focus on his boyfriend instead.
The stars sang, and Kurt listened, adding to the chorus.
Only a few mutants on Earth could sense what he was doing, and he'd gone to school with none of them.
None of them, probably, would ever know how close they came to being eradicated by a boy, beaten down and at the end of his rope. But Kurt knew. And held tight in Blaine's arms, he whispered years' worth of confessions, so Blaine knew, too.
But Blaine stayed. Blaine kissed him, and loved him, and maybe one day, Blaine, too, would be able to hear the stars.