“I am captain of the Warblers now, and I am tired of playing nice.” Sebastian smirked at them all again, winked obnoxiously at Blaine, and departed before any of them could even summon the wherewithal to blink. When the Lima Bean’s door had shut behind his CW fringe, Kurt closed his eyes, bit his lips, and counted to ten.
There was a stunning –and presumably stunned—silence from the rest of them. Kurt opened his eyes, wondering why neither Rachel nor Santana had exploded yet. They—and Artie, for that matter—were all looking at him, apparently wondering the same thing. Kurt blew out a breath and turned to Blaine.
His boyfriend’s face was almost as crumpled as after their mishap post-Scandals.
“I don’t even know where to start,” Kurt said, his voice low but rising in both speed and pitch as he continued. “It’s pretty clear you wouldn’t have told him on purpose, so what on Earth happened, Blaine?”
“It was totally an accident,” Blaine began.
“An accident you didn’t think to warn us about?” Rachel blustered. Kurt leaned forward and put a hand on her knee, which actually quieted her. At least temporarily.
“I forgot. It was like three seconds of conversation in maybe a minute-long call that I spent most of my time trying to politely exit,” Blaine’s grip tightened on his empty coffee cup and he turned to look squarely at Kurt. “He wasn’t calling from his cell or I wouldn’t have picked up in the first place. The number was from one of the official Dalton extensions, he must have sneaked into a teacher’s lounge or something.”
“What the hell did you say, Anderson? I thought you were smarter than that.” Santana’s voice had bite but not quite the intensity it might have. Kurt didn’t know if there was the smallest bit of truth to the ‘relatives in prison’ crack, but something Sebastian said had rattled her. Reason number 713 why Oil Slick Dick was on Kurt’s list.
“I was distracted. He asked what I was up to and I said I was working on the ‘Startin’ Somethin’” arrangement. I didn’t specifically say it was for Regionals, I swear.” Blaine frowned. “Though I think I said I needed to get back to prepping for Regionals to get him off the phone. That’s probably how he put it together. I’m really sorry, guys.”
The other three were still glaring, but Kurt reached over and laced his fingers through his boyfriend’s. “Mistakes happen. If it had been Nick or Trent on the other end of the line it could just as easily have been me slipping up like that. The difference being that they wouldn’t have actually done anything with that information, seeing as they are in possession of souls.”
“We have to tell the others,” Rachel said.
“We have to figure out how to stop the Warblers,” Artie said.
“And we have to figure out whether we’re going to let the rest of New Directions give Deep Throat here what-for for blabbing,” Santana scowled and Blaine flinched, while Kurt inwardly gave the cheerleader two points for an insult that was both a semi-appropriate historical reference and at the same time overtly salacious. Which didn’t mean he approved of being lumped in with the Nixon administration, or of insults to Blaine in general.
He said as much, which got a badly-suppressed twitch of amusement from Rachel and Artie. Kurt stood and tugged on Blaine’s hand where they were still attached to bring him to his feet. Any minute now, Blaine was going to process the rest of what Sebastian said, and that was not a conversation Kurt wanted to have in front of the others.
“It’s late, we have homework, and we can’t do anything about it until the morning anyway,” he said shortly. “Tell the others tonight if you want, we’ll let Mr. Shue know tomorrow and figure out a plan. For now, we have to go.”
When they were safely ensconced in his car, Kurt turned and folded his hands in his lap, and waited.
He didn’t have to wait long.
“This would never have happened when Wes was on the Council. What the hell are David and Thad thinking?” Blaine scowled as fiercely as Santana had a few minutes before. “They’re Warblers and our friends. And even if they weren’t, cheating is against the Dalton honor code. What are they doing?”
Kurt raised his eyebrows. “Didn’t you hear? Sebastian ‘my father is state’s attorney’ is ‘captain’ now.”
“The Warblers don’t have a captain,” Blaine was clearly bewildered.
Kurt sighed. “They also don’t have you. Without you and Wes to balance each other out in the middle of the group, there’s kind of a vacuum there. Someone as clearly power-hungry as Sebastian could just walk right in and make himself the eye of the hurricane. I guess we just have to hope he hasn’t gotten to them all. Maybe tomorrow we can try to talk to some of the rest of them and get them to do the right thing.”
Blaine rolled his head on the seatback and looked helplessly over at Kurt. “The Warblers lost to New Directions last year when we were both still on the team, and now we’re both here instead so some people would say their chances are quite frankly even worse. You really think they don’t have kind of a score to settle with us?”
Kurt shrugged. “Might still be worth a try.”
Blaine shook his head. “You’re being nice by not saying it, but let’s face it. I blew it. Everyone’s going to be so pissed.”
Kurt couldn’t help his rueful smile. “Probably. But as someone wise once told me during application season, ‘don’t give up, ever. We’ll think of something.’”
Blaine pulled one of Kurt’s hands off his leg and cupped it to his own face, leaning into Kurt’s palm and closing his eyes a minute. “I love you.”
Kurt leaned over and kissed him on the opposite cheek since Blaine’s lips were moderately obstructed. “Mutual. Now come on, let me drive you home.”
= = = = = =
“He did what?” Finn’s voice went nearly as high as Kurt had ever heard it. “Dude, tell me that wasn’t on purpose.”
“Of course not,” Kurt snapped. “That would be why I said it was an accident.” He stabbed at the lasagna on his plate and added in an undertone, “Though why it didn’t occur to him that that smirking little rodent would manipulate the conversation to his advantage and then immediately use that advantage says a lot more about Blaine’s heart than his intelligence.”
“Easy there, Kurt,” Burt said, passing the water pitcher over to Carole. “Like you said, it was an accident. And it’s not like you all don’t have time to prepare something else if you end up needing to.”
Kurt twirled his mangled pasta. “True. The smirking and the gloating were annoying, but they were also stupid. He gave away his advantage by giving us advance notice. Better to find out now then when the curtains go up at Regionals.”
“Exactly,” Burt replied. “And I’m sure that there are appropriate channels for this sort of thing.”
Finn was frowning. “Didn’t Coach Sylvester get suspended for sharing our set list?” He looked up and there was genuine worry in his eyes. “That’s not going to happen to Blaine, is it? ‘Cause that would really suck. Like, really suck. ‘Cause we need him for Regionals and it’s not like I can claim he stage slapped me or something.”
The rest of the assembled Hummel-Hudson clan stared at Finn in varying levels of confusion and bemusement. Kurt guessed Finn hadn’t filled Carole and his dad in on all the details of the incident with Santana back before Sectionals.
“Plus it would be really unfair since it was an accident,” Finn added, looking at the rest of them as if he didn’t understand their bemusement. “I say shit all the time that I don’t really mean to.”
“Like swearing at the dinner table,” Carole said dryly as Burt and Kurt simultaneously hid smiles behind their respective hands and/or napkins.
“Right,” Finn beamed, and then winced. “Um, oops?”
Kurt got his face back under control and emerged from behind his napkin. “So I take it that means you won’t be yelling at Blaine in the choir room tomorrow.”
“Nah, man, I think there’ll probably be plenty of that to go around. And I really don’t want him to get in any more trouble.”
“I don’t think it’s likely that he’d get suspended,” Carole soothed. “He’s a student who talked to a friend, not a teacher trying to sabotage a competition she’s not even part of.”
Kurt thought about taking issue with Carole’s word choice, but decided to attack his lasagna again instead.
“You know, dude, if you think it needs more parmesan cheese or something, you could just ask me to pass it to you,” Finn offered. Kurt dropped his fork and tried not to sigh.
= = = = = = =
“I would really rather not be the one doing this,” Blaine tried one more time, pointing at his phone sitting on the coffee table. “Any of you are welcome to borrow my phone, you know.”
“Man up,” Santana elbowed him, though not apparently too hard. “Your goof, your game, your goal.”
“Seriously,” Puck added. “This sing off is your idea, and it’s not like this Sebastian jackass is gonna take a call from any of the rest of us.” Finn, Artie, Mercedes, and Rachel nodded in agreement as Kurt wondered just how many witnesses were necessary to set up a sing-off.
Blaine sighed and reached out to hit ‘send’ on the phone, which was already set for speaker phone. Kurt scowled as the phone chirped a cheerful ‘Please enjoy the music as your party is reached’ and a tinny version of “Beat It” drifted up from the table.
Puck bore a similar expression of disgust. “Dude, what kind of douchebag has like, a musical answering service? Is a phone that rings just too old school for prep school, or what?”
There were a few snickers that cut off when the music did.
“Well, hello, Blaine. What an unexpected pleasure. Decided you were willing to offer me some more tips, Warbler to Warbler?”
Blaine’s lips were set in a firm line, and Kurt curled a supportive hand around his shoulder.
“Sebastian. I think you know perfectly well any information shared was unintentional and should therefore have been kept in confidence, Warbler to Warbler. However, since it wasn’t, I’d like the opportunity to address the assembled Warblers on this matter.”
“I don’t think that’s at all necessary. I’d be happy to pass along a message, though, if you really feel a need.”
“My next phone calls will be to David and Thad,” Blaine continued as if he hadn’t heard the other boy. “As Council members they’re more familiar with the Warbler bylaws than you would be, seeing as you’re so new to the group. I’m sure they’ll recognize that as a point of order, accusations of an honor code violation among the Warblers must be witnessed by the entire group.”
There was a long silence. Kurt raised an impressed eyebrow. He doubted Blaine had endeared himself much to Sebastian with that particular display of power and eloquence, but Kurt hadn’t seen that much restrained and articulate formalized passion from his boyfriend since Blaine had argued for their Regionals duet last year, and it was pretty damn appealing. Kurt hoped idly that he wasn’t developing some kind of lawyer kink, or something. His claim that he only watched Law & Order UK for the scarves would start looking very thin.
“Fine,” Sebastian said. “Where and when?”
Blaine gave him the details that New Directions had worked out for the sing-off in the same restrained tone, though his shoulder under Kurt’s hand had softened a little from cold steel to mere coiled spring.
“You’re really working that authoritative vibe today, Blaine,” Sebastian’s smirk was so audible it was like the Cheshire Cat’s grin rising through the phone’s speakers to hover in the air between them. Kurt narrowed his eyes as the ‘captain’ added, “I should have riled you up sooner. It’s very sexy.”
Blaine rolled his eyes. “Thanks. My boyfriend thinks so too.” He picked up his phone and thumbed it off decisively. He glared at it and then turned to Kurt, who was staring at him with his mouth wide open.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” Blaine blushed. “I just really hate how he pretends you don’t exist. But that was out of line, I know.”
Puck whooped. “Are you kidding? That was genius. And you can take it from me, I know all about the sexy one-liners.”
“All references to ‘Puckzilla’ notwithstanding,” Kurt murmured as he managed to get his fingers to unclench from where they’d tightened on Blaine’s shoulder. Blaine reached up and caught his hand, clasping it in both his own, mouthing ‘sorry’ once more when Kurt looked at him.
“Oh, don’t apologize,” Santana scoffed, her smile wicked. “I for one am loving this sneak peek at the Hummel/Anderson love life. Power dynamics, very nice. And here I thought all that nauseating public sweetness was because you two were pure vanilla.”
Kurt and Blaine shifted as one to glare at her and a very red-faced Finn hopped up as if his chair had bitten him.
“Cookies!” he exclaimed, as everyone in the room swiveled to stare at him instead and Kurt bit the inside of his cheek to stop the incredulous snicker provoked by that particular segue.
“I mean, uh, I told my mom we were going to have a planning meeting about song selection and she said she left us cookies. In the kitchen. Which I forgot about and now am going to go get. Yeah.”
He fled for the next room and for the second time in two days Kurt found himself stifling laughter in undeserving broadcloth, this time his favorite throw pillow.
= = = = = =
Kurt wrapped himself around Blaine in the backseat as Mike drove his car and Finn called Burt from up front.
“Keep your eyes shut, honey, and just keep holding my hands. You don’t want to rub at all, you could make it worse,” he reminded softly, biting his lip as they hit a pothole and Blaine let out another choked sound. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I wish there was something more I could do right now.”
“Keep talking,” Blaine squeezed his hands, his voice cracking. “Just keep talking so I don’t focus on it, Kurt, please.”
Kurt swallowed and leaned even closer to where Blaine was curled on his lap, his voice a fierce whisper.
“I can’t believe you did that for me, Blaine, you’re amazing. You amazing, idiotic, romantic, ridiculous person, I’ve been slushied a thousand times, and I’m taller than you, it probably wouldn’t have hit me in the eyes like that, you didn’t need to do that for me.” He knew he was babbling, and probably crying if the thickness in the back of his throat was any indication, but he was past caring. Mike and Finn wouldn’t judge. He gripped Blaine’s hands a little tighter.
“It was insane, but I love you. I love you for it and I love you despite it and I’m going to feed Sebastian his own entrails for daring to hurt you.”
“My—“ Blaine interrupted, stopping to gasp as Mike took a corner particularly fast, which must have been disorienting with his eyes shut. “My fault. On the phone, at the end. Made him want to hurt you. So sorry, Kurt.”
“Oh, Blaine, no. No, no, no,” Kurt shifted so that he could hold Blaine a little better, slouched a little awkwardly, but the more of him that was in contact with Blaine, the less he minded the crick in his neck. “No, not your fault at all. Sebastian is petty and cruel and just like all the other bullies we’ve faced and he’s hated me since before he met me, it was only a matter of time. But you were so brave. You are so brave, calling him out like that, putting yourself on the line for me.”
Blaine shivered in Kurt’s grasp. “So much for a zero-tolerance policy. I think I’ll take the hockey players next time.”
Kurt laughed, but it cracked in the middle and he swallowed back something that wanted to be either a sob or a snarl. He forced himself to loosen his grip just a little and went back to his mantra.
“You’re going to be okay, you’re so brave, I love you. You’re going to be okay…”
= = = = = =
It was cold in the classroom. Or maybe that was just him. Kurt pulled the ends of his sweater sleeves over his hands and buried his face in the soft gray wool, inhaling deeply. He’d stolen this particular sweater from Blaine’s closet when he went to fetch some supplies to bring to the hospital. The doctors had washed out whatever crap had been in that slushie from Blaine’s eyes, fortunately pretty much as soon as the four boys had hit the emergency room, but apparently there was so much inflammation and whatnot that they’d decided to keep Blaine overnight for observation and to get a better look at the possible damage once the swelling went down. Once Carole and Blaine’s mom had appeared on the scene, and Kurt, Finn, and Mike had given their statements to whatever policeman or hospital security person that had been, Kurt had fled to Blaine’s house and busied himself with a care package to counteract some of the worst of hospital evils: warm fuzzy socks against cold floors, pajamas with long sleeves to protect against scratchy sheets, Blaine’s usual hand lotion to banish the smell of slushy, Blaine’s favorite pillow, etcetera.
And then he’d thrown himself on Blaine’s bed and allowed five minutes for an intense bout of snotty, tear-filled misery. On his way out, post emergency image repair, he’d caught sight of Blaine’s closet door hanging open, and had impulsively snatched one of the sweaters from the shelf inside, clutching it on top of the rest of his pile.
Coming back to the present, Kurt realized he was worrying at the cuffs now and released them, putting his hands flat on the desk so he couldn’t do any more damage. If he’d stretched out the knit he’d have to apologize to Blaine when he returned it.
Assuming he didn’t do anything else drastic, like take his sais to Sebastian’s ears. That was tempting, but blood stains and knits really, really didn’t like parting company once they were acquainted.
Kurt regretfully crossed that option off his extensive list. There were a lot more strikethroughs than there were stars for actual avenues of retaliation. He glanced over his list again, picking out a few highlights and the notes he’d made as he considered.
Enlist aid from Puck and Lauren (if she’ll still talk to me). Kidnap Sebastian from Dalton and dump in nearest porta-potty. Or into deepest available quarry, flooded or not. Bribe barista at Lima Bean to tamper with Sebastian’s coffee order. Hot peppers or wasabi? Overdose of stool softener? Crass but satisfying.
*Call Wes and get him to do the ‘I’m very disappointed in you’ speech. Probably only effective against the other Warblers, not Sebastian. They still deserve it. No one’s called to find out if Blaine’s even [illegible scribble where Kurt’s sense of betrayal got the better of him and he had to scratch it out after rereading all that profanity in his own handwriting]
*Convince Blaine’s parents to press charges? Blaine not likely to go for this extreme. Too nice. Am already bitchier one in this relationship. Debilitating lack of physical evidence or police interest.
Hire robocall service to dial Sebastian’s number every ten minutes for next month to disrupt sleep patterns and bastard’s ability to phone stalk my boyfriend.
*Report Sebastian to Dalton Headmaster for continued harassment of Blaine. Blaine still not likely to go for this. Do have screencaps of repeated suggestive FB messages, however. Blaine no longer likely to need them for convincing of why Sebastian is worse than ‘merely annoying and inappropriate.’ [more vexed scribbling]
Kurt sighed and put his pen back down again, looking up as Santana came in with real concern in her eyes. For him, apparently, which was oddly comforting, even if he was going to tell Blaine that she’d insulted his sweater again. Well, if anyone was likely to have good ideas about how to make Sebastian writhe, it was his favorite she-devil. Kurt passed over his list.
= = = = = = =
Kurt picked up his stack of trashy entertainment magazines and bounced on his toes as he and his father waited in line at the newsstand. Burt raised his eyebrows at him and Kurt knew his father was on the verge of laughing at him. Again. Apparently Kurt had been mindlessly, though thankfully quietly, improvising a melody while selecting the magazines to bring to Blaine, chanting “NYADA, NYADA, New York, New York, NYADA” under his breath. Kurt would feel embarrassed, but he had no room for an emotion like embarrassment today.
He did manage to keep the toe-bouncing thing to a minimum during the last leg of the drive to Blaine’s though. Mostly.
“Kurt! Hi! Mr. Hummel-I-mean-Burt! Hi! Did you come along to drop off my homework too? That was like, super nice of you.”
Blaine on painkillers was very chipper. Kurt grinned.
“Actually,” Burt said, settling in the chair by Blaine’s bedside as Kurt slipped under the arm Blaine held out for him on the bed. “Kurt had some news and since you’ve been such a big part of the process, I kind of wanted in on getting to see your face when he told you.”
Blaine turned one bright eye on Kurt and smiled. “Okay, hit me with it. I’m so ready.”
Kurt muffled a snort and then pulled the NYADA envelope from his bag. Their original plan had been to get to read the letter together so that if Kurt needed to fall apart, Blaine would know exactly why within a millisecond, but given the current circumstances…Kurt pulled out the letter and began to read.
“Dear Mr. Hummel, Thank you for your application to NYADA. As you know, ours is a rigorous and selective program requiring not only a written application but examples of superior performance. It is our pleasure to inform you that as a NYADA finalist—“
There were twin whoops from Burt and Blaine that drowned out the rest of Kurt’s sentence and he found himself knocked over in an enthusiastic cuddle from Blaine. He flailed madly to get the letter to safety on the end table and felt his father take it before Burt grabbed Kurt’s hand and pulled them both upright on the bed so he could hug them simultaneously.
“Whoa. Dizzy!” exclaimed Blaine into Burt’s shoulder and Kurt felt his father loosen his hold enough to make sure both boys could still breathe. “I think it’s a good-news-dizzy, though, not a bad-medicine-dizzy this time. Kurt, you are amazing. So, so, seriously beyond words fantastic. I knew you could do it.”
“Well, I’m not in yet,” Kurt couldn’t help but grin despite his attempt at caution.
“Amazing,” Blaine repeated, poking Kurt in the chest for emphasis before falling back against the pile of pillows, smiling to beat the band and looking ridiculously adorable, if a little lopsided. Kurt and Burt chuckled as Blaine gave a jaw-cracking yawn and still managed to finish it smiling.
“Okay, buddy,” Burt patted Blaine on the shoulder. “Kurt didn’t want to wait to tell you so we drove right over as soon as school ended, but it’s pretty clear you need some more rest. We’re gonna go take care of dinner and stuff, and Kurt can come back to see you again later this evening, okay?”
“Amazing,” Blaine grinned one more time, and Kurt leaned in to kiss him quickly.
“See you soon,” Kurt whispered against his lips before pulling away. As they left, Kurt could have sworn he heard Blaine sleepily singing “NYADA, NYADA, my boyfriend is amazing.”
= = = = = = =
Kurt stopped as Santana pulled at his sleeve in the hallway heading for the auditorium. She pressed a tiny tape cassette into his hand. “Right here, feel that? That is the key to divine and legal retribution that we can bring down on his skinny treacherous ass. Hold that for a minute and then tell me you don’t really want to use it.”
Kurt wrapped his fingers around the cassette tape. “Part of me still really wants to, but truthfully, some of me is a little afraid that even with a confession the system’s going to fail us. Don’t we come out the better people if we, I don’t know, leave it to karma?”
“Karma is not going to take a slushy to the face for the sake of a friend,” Santana warned. “I’m telling you, we can back off the fight for singing Michael at Regionals, but we should not give up on this. Or did the currently one-eyed wonder tell you to turn the other cheek so that you two can have matching war wounds?”
Kurt handed her back the cassette. “It’s bigger than just me and Sebastian, now. I think we show our hand to the Warblers, let them figure out where they want to stand. Maybe they can actually bring Sebastian into line. Or kick him out entirely, which would be my preference and would go a small way to redeeming them in my eyes for fleeing the scene when their friend lay on the ground screaming in pain.”
Santana eyed him and Kurt realized that he hadn’t actually meant to say all that and that he currently had a deathgrip on his bag strap again. He took a breath and let go, folding his hands in front of him.
“Is that the only copy of the confession?”
“Hell no. I made three copies last night, just in case. Figured we might need to send the evidence to Dalton or wherever, too.”
Kurt nodded. “All right. So we confront Sebastian with the evidence when the Warblers get here—“
“I’m so gonna enjoy that,” Santana muttered.
“And play it by ear. See what the Warblers do. Be the better people.”
“But with back up.” Santana was grinning now. “Okay, fine. I’ll give you your high road if you agree my plan was brilliant. And that we’ll use this if we have to, later.”
Kurt found himself reaching out to hug a girl for unexpected reasons for the second time in two days. Surprising. And even more surprising that she let him. “You’re brilliant, Santana Lopez.”
“All right, all right. Let go of me so we can go kick some prep school ass. I want Anderson back here as soon as possible to absorb all your emerging cuddly tendencies before you infect the rest of us.”
= = = = = = = =
“And they just left him there sitting on his own, like he’d been sent to the time-out chair for bad behavior,” Kurt finished with a satisfied smile, not mentioning the part with the tape as he pulled Blaine in and let him tuck in to his favorite spot against Kurt’s shoulder. There would be time for dealing with that later. For now, however…
“Sounds like a great number. Really sorry I missed it,” Blaine said. “Because, well—“ he cut himself off but Kurt understood perfectly. Some things about this week hurt a hell of a lot more than a scratched cornea. Which is why Kurt thumbed his phone to send the text he had pre-set, and kissed Blaine gently before sitting them both up straighter, tweaking the sweater Blaine had felt coordinated enough to don earlier. He smiled at the gray wool and then looked up with a serious face as the door opened to let through a trio of skittish looking boys.
Blaine stiffened. “Nick, Jeff, Trent.”
Nick stepped forward. “Hey Blaine. Consider us the first in a really long and overdue string of apologies.”
Kurt leaned back and smiled slightly. Maybe he wouldn’t have to call Wes after all.