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Blackbirds and Wildcats

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“Good morning disappointments,” Sue Sylvester began, “I'm sure you’re all wondering why the miserable human being you call your teacher is not here. Well, I'll tell you. He's been replaced.”

The glee club kids looked around at each other. They always knew Mr. Shue wasn't a good teacher, but they never saw this coming.

“Maybe the new guy will actually give us solos,” Mercedes whispered to Kurt.

“Why would they replace Mr. Shue?!” Rachel cried, ignoring how the others rolled their eyes.

“Parent complaints. That's enough to get anyone fired around here.”

“Then why haven't you been fired?” Quinn asked.

“Because without me, this school would have nothing to brag about, Sister. Now, allow me to introduce your new teacher, Mrs. Dumbus.”

“It's Ms. Darbus,” a woman corrected. Her pale blonde hair was tied back, her glasses covered half of her face, and her outfit was enough to catch Kurt’s attention. “Thank you Ms. Sylvester, but I can take it from here.” She waited until Sue left to continue.

“Hello ladies and gentlemen, I am Ms. Darbus. I am the new drama teacher as well as the show choir director for William McKinley. I look forward to helping you all become the stars of the future, whether it be in the arts or not. Now, any questions?”

Rachel was the first to raise her hand, “Ms. Darbus, we already have two captains for our glee club, who are myself and Finn. We'd be more than happy to teach you the ways of our club.” Santana coughed “bullshit” in the background.

“Miss Berry, thank you, but I run things differently than your old teacher did.” Ms. Darbus turned over the whiteboard and revealed a list of rules. “From now on, you are all equals. I am in charge of all solo assignments, setlists, and drama productions. If you think you know better, be my guest to speak your concerns. Keep in mind, however, that I have been teaching the arts for longer than you have been alive. I understand Mr. Schuester was a relaxed teacher that let you run the show, but how can you compete with groups like Vocal Adrenaline or Dalton Academy with a mentality like that?”

Artie and Rachel were pissed. The rest of glee club didn't know what to think.

 “Mr. Abrams, I understand that you have had a significant role in crafting William McKinley’s past drama productions.”

“Uh, yeah. Video and directing is kinda my thing,” Artie said, trying to hide the resentment in his voice.

“I understand that it may be difficult to give up this title. I am more than willing to have you as part of my team. I, of course, will be in charge of casting and directing, but I do need an assistant director for this year's musical.”

“Sorry, but either I'm the man, or I walk.”

Ms. Darbus shook her head, “Mr. Abrams, you don't seem to understand something. Everyone has a beginning and some aren't as glamorous as others.
"One of my former students was a composer. She had to wait until her junior year of high school to compose a show though she has been composing for almost a decade. She got her chance by working and proving herself to me, not by “walking”. Eventually, she proved herself to Juilliard, then to the Academy Awards.
"You'll get to direct someday, Mr. Abrams. To do so, you must prove yourself to me first.”

Artie ended up taking the job.

 “Mr. Chang, thank you for meeting with me.”

“Sure Ms. Darbus,” Mike replied. If he was honest with himself, he came only because Ms. Darbus scared him.

“Mr. Chang, I must say you're dancing skills are phenomenal. I would love it if you could choreograph our next musical.”

Mike gaped, “Thank you, Ms. Darbus, but I really don't have time. I have my grades to keep up, med school to apply for, football…”

“I understand we are all busy, Mr. Chang. I once had a student who was yearbook editor, class president, president of the Scholastic Decathlon and National Honors Society, straight A’s… Yes, high school is difficult.”

Mike looked at her like she was crazy. “How in the world…?”

“Perseverance, Mr. Chang. Perseverance and determination.”

A week later, Mike said he’d choreograph the show under one condition: Brittany would choreograph with him.

 “Now, I understand you all were looking forward to producing West Side Story this year, but my good friend has given me the script of a better, less appreciated musical.”

“If we’re doing anything like Rocky Horror I'm out,” Santana interrupted, “I had nightmares for weeks.”

“No no, we’ll be doing a lesser-known musical. Has anyone heard of the musical Catch Me if You Can ?”

“You mean the musical about the dude who almost got away with the crime of the century?” Puck asked.

“Dude,” Finn said in a confused tone.

“What? I know my criminals.”

“But Ms. Darbus,” Rachel interjected, “there are no female leads in that musical. How is that fair?”

Ms. Darbus sighed, “Miss Berry, if you knew the synopsis of the musical you would know how significant Mrs. Frank Abagnale and Brenda are to the story. I am also more than willing to change some character’s genders provided that you fit the role.

“Now, auditions will be next Wednesday starting at 2:30. I hope to see most of you there.”

 The next day, Kurt stood in front of the sign-up list. He was surprised to see that Puck, Sam, and even Santana had already signed up.

Rachel stood behind him and huffed, “How in the world am I supposed to get the lead if it was written for a boy?”

Kurt resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Why not audition for Mrs. Abagnale? I'm sure you'd be great.”

“Kurt, she only gets two songs . How am I supposed to wow the people of NYADA when I played a character with two songs ?!”

“She does have a solo song you know,” Kurt said, “Unless you land Frank Abagnale Jr. or Hanratty you're out of luck.”

Rachel got a wicked look in her eyes, “Then I've got to learn how to sing below my normal key.” She put her name down for Frank Abagnale Jr.

After staring in defeat, Kurt put his name down for Frank Abagnale Jr. as well.

He was sick of Rachel getting everything.

 On audition day, Kurt was surprised to see six men in blazers standing outside the auditorium.

“Blaine!” he shouted, “You didn't tell me you were coming!”

Blaine laughed, “Of course we came. You told me you were nervous and I wasn't going to sit idle. They forced me to bring them.”

“Damn right! David said, “I love this musical.”

Kurt smiled, “You guys are the best.”

“You know how the phrase goes. Once a Warbler, always a Warbler.” Wes said.

Kurt couldn't remember why he left these guys.

 After auditions were over, Ms. Darbus pulled Brittany aside. “Miss Pierce, I must say you and Mr. Chang work very well together.”

Brittany smiled. “Thank you. It's fun to dance with someone else who knows how to.”

“Yes, the language of dance is one that is rare and hard to learn. Those who have the gift should be ever grateful and should share their talent with the world.”

Brittany tilted her head, confused, “You can't talk dance.”

“It's an expression dear. What I'm trying to ask is if you've thought about college.”

“The principal thinks I won't pass senior year,” Brittany admitted.

Ms. Darbus had a fond look in her eye, “We won't let that happen, my dear. I will do what I can to help you graduate, just as I did with one of my students years ago.”

Brittany smiled.

 “Tana, I like our new drama teacher,” Brittany said as he was combing her girlfriend’s hair.

“Why? Because she doesn’t wear those hideous sweater vests?”

“No, because she reminds me of a grandma.”

Santana frowned, “Brit, that woman is hardcore. I respect it, but how does that make you think of a grandma?”

“She’s going to help me graduate. You won’t leave me behind.”

“Babe, you know that-”

“Tana, we both knew it wasn’t going to work.” Brittany moved to sit beside Santana, “I love you, but I would miss you too much. Now we don’t have to worry about it.”

Santana nodded. She would never admit that Brittany was right, but she knew it would’ve come soon too. “I love you too. I can’t wait to get out of this hellhole with you.”

Brittany smiled and kissed Santana.

This time, it didn’t taste like a goodbye.

 The cast list was posted on a Friday afternoon. Several students crowded around to see what parts they got.

“Frank Abagnale Senior? Dude, nice,” Finn congratulated Sam.

Mercedes was disappointed that she didn't get a large role, but she was excited that she got several of the smaller roles. At least she wouldn't be pushed into the background. Tina walked over with Mike to see if she got a role. When she saw it, she almost stopped breathing. “I'm playing… I'm Brenda? How did that happen?!”

Mike didn't have an answer for her.

Rachel and Quinn walked over to look at the list at the same time.

“Quinn, I'm sure you’ll be fantastic as whatever you get. I'm sure I'll be a lead, but I can't wait to have you support me,” Rachel said.

Quinn looked at the list and smiled. “Yes, I can't wait to start rehearsals,” she simply replied.

Rachel frowned and looked at the list.

Carol Strong … Rachel Berry

Carol… Strong… who only had one scene?!?!

Rachel screamed.

“Rachel, what happened?” Kurt asked.

“That witch is ruining my life! First glee is ruined, now I don't have the musical! My life is over!” She cried.

Kurt frowned but didn't follow her as she left. He held his breath and looked at the list. Roger Strong, Frank Abagnale Sr, Hanratty… Frank Abagnale Jr. … Kurt Hummel

“Oh my Gaga,” Kurt thought, “I'm actually playing the lead!”

 Finn knocked on the drama teacher’s door hesitantly. “Ms. Darbus?”

“Yes Mr. Hudson, please come in.”

Finn sat down across the older woman. “I promise I don't have any pot in my locker,” he blurted out.

Ms. Darbus gave him an odd look. “That is not why I called you in here, Mr. Hudson. I want to talk about the future with you.”

Finn groaned, “Did my mom put you up to this?”

“No dear, I'm just curious. Everyone seems to think you and Miss Berry will be going to New York together.”

“Well, yeah. We're going to get married soon.”

Ms. Darbus shifted her glasses, “Are you ready for marriage?”

Finn didn't meet her eyes, “I love Rachel. I want her to be happy.”

“And you think marriage is the answer?”

“I… She was really happy when I proposed. I think she already has the next ten years of our lives planned out.”

“Mr. Hudson, I am asking about you, not Rachel,” She reminded him, “Don't worry, what you say to me I will not repeat.”

Finn looked at her for a moment, then sighed. “I don't want to go to New York with her. It's too loud and crowded. I never feel like myself when I'm in big cities like that.” He admitted.

“Then what do you want to do after you graduate?”

“I want to work with Burt in his garage. I'll go to a community school and get a business degree. Someday, maybe I'll own the shop.”

“And Miss Berry knows of your plans?”

When he shook his head, Finn finally figured out what was wrong with his situation.

“Let me reassure you, I know couples that have lasted longer than anyone thought. I once had a student that left high school a month early to go to study at Stanford. She wanted to stay another year back, but in the end, she followed her head and not her heart. They still ended up together in the end.”

“What about now?” Finn asked.

“Yes, they were one of the few to make it,” Ms. Darbus smiled, “Now run along, don't be late to your next class.”

After Finn left, Ms. Darbus pulled out an old photograph. She knew soon she'd need another one, seeing as the little girl was almost thirteen now. “How time flies,” She thought.

 Overall, rehearsals were moving along. Mike and Brittany were making everyone look good. Artie was working well with the backstage crew. All seemed to be going well, all except for one number…

“Mr. Abrams, do you notice something off about this number?”

Artie looked up from his clipboard and frowned. “There aren't a lot of people in this scene, are there?”

“Correct, Mr. Abrams. I don't mind using the same actors again, but it would be painfully obvious if Mr. Hummel was dancing with his foe. I do not believe we could hold auditions this late for more male dancers. What do you suggest?”

Artie looked in a corner and raised an eyebrow. “I think I have an idea…”

 “Mr. Hummel, if I can have a word with your friends.”

Kurt, Blaine, and the other Warblers looked over at the teacher. Kurt excused himself.

“Now boys, since you have become such a staple around here, I am offering you roles in this musical.”

The Warblers shared a look. “Ms. Darbus, thank you,” Wes said, “But we don't go to this school. We go to Dalton Academy over in Westerville.”

“I am well aware, Mr. Montgomery.” Wes’s eyes went wide. He couldn't remember introducing himself to her.

“Yes, I've followed the Dalton Academy Warblers since my godson graduated from there. Mr. Thompson, Mr. Harwood, Mr. Montgomery, I believe you knew a Michael Evans?” The three nodded.

“Mike was a senior when we were freshman,” David supplied.

“Yes. Well, if you all are still that talented, then I would be more than happy to have you as part of my cast.”

The six once again shared a look. It didn't sound like they had much of a choice.

 Santana was absolutely loving her time with the musical. Not only was she a lead ( yes! Santana Lopez was a fucking lead! ), but she also got to see Rachel sulk every rehearsal. Yes, life was generally good.

Generally being the key term.

“Miss Lopez, a word,” Ms. Darbus said as reversal wrapped up.

Santana groaned, “Will this take long? I have better things to do.”

“As do I. Please sit,” Santana sat on one of the auditorium chairs. Ms. Darbus remained standing. “Miss Lopez, I want you to be honest with me. Are you holding back in your performance?”

“What do you mean?”

Ms. Darbus shifted her glasses, “This number requires passion and determination. You seem to have all of the determination but none of the-”

“Look, I have plenty of passion. I'm up there living the dream and watching Berry die a little inside every time I get up there.”

“You don't understand, Miss Lopez. I mean anger . In this number, Hanratty is upset that Abagnale is getting away with something he shouldn't, something against his beliefs. When is the last time you felt this way?”


“Hm, well I've seen how Miss Sylvester treats you. What about that?”

Santana frowned, “She treats everyone like that.”

“Or about how your friend Kurt was treated last year before he went to Dalton Academy?”

“Yeah, but-”

“What about how Mr. Schuster always gave the solos to the same people?”

“Alright, I get it!” Santana screamed.

Ms. Darbus smiled, “Use this anger, Miss Lopez. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger. The hardest emotions make us the best of actors. This is why I knew you could overcome the gender barrier and shine in this role.”

Santana gave her a skeptical look, “Alright. Is that all?”

“Is that all you needed?”

Santana didn't respond, but Ms. Darbus understood. She sat down across from Santana.

“Tell me what he did, dear.”

Santana started crying. This time, she didn't stop herself.

 Ms. Darbus considered herself lucky that Kurt had to wait on Blaine after rehearsals.

“Mr. Hummel, may I ask you a question?”

Kurt turned to her and nodded.

“A little bird once told me that you're applying to NYADA this year,” another nod, “Wonderful. What other schools have you thought about?”

Kurt’s eyes went wide, “Other schools? NYADA is it for me.”

Ms. Darbus sighed, “Mr. Hummel, you must understand that NYADA is a very competitive school. They don't have a high acceptance rate, then an even less percent graduate.”

“But it's my dream school. I've wanted to go there since I was little.”

“Yes, dreams are a powerful thing. It is unfortunate that they are not always what life has planned.

A student I had a while ago dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player. His life was focused around the court. I won't pretend to know anything about the sport, but I knew he was good.

He went to the University of Albuquerque to play basketball. His dream was to play professionally. He was almost there but was in a car accident that permanently damaged his knee. He couldn't play anymore and that almost destroyed him.”

“So you don't think I'll get in?” Kurt asked defensively.

“Mr. Hummel, if I didn't think you were talented you would not be the lead in my musical. No, Mr. Danforth decided to pursue another dream of his: journalism.”

When Kurt didn’t say anything, Ms. Darbus continued, “I know designer fashion when I see it. You have talent in more than just the art of theatre, Mr. Hummel. I would hate to see that talent go to waste.” She pulled out a brochure, “I’m assuming you’ve heard of Parsons School of Design? It is one of the many schools in New York that are looking for the greats of tomorrow. Then, of course, the Juilliard School of the Dramatic Arts,” another brochure, “and then, lastly, the New York School of Design.”

Ms. Darbus put her hand on the teenager’s shoulder, “I know talent when I see it, Mr. Hummel. That’s why a majority of my alumni’s have accomplished their dreams. I only want you to accomplish yours as well. Forgive me if I have overstepped.”

“No,” Kurt’s voice was high and light, “no, thank you Ms. Darbus. I’ll talk to my dad about them tonight.”

His boyfriend and friends walked out at that moment. Ms. Darbus smiled to herself as the boys walked away.

 As time got closer and closer to opening night, Ms. Darbus thought everything was clicking into place. Everyone was learning their choreography and cues easily, Santana wore the role of Hanratty well, and Kurt shined as the lead. Yes, everything was coming together as it should…

Well, almost.

It started when Quinn was five minutes late to rehearsal. Her scene as Mrs. Frank Abagnale would come later, but Rachel did not let it slide that she was not punctual.

“I think as a senior member of this club, Quinn, you should be setting an example for the younger ones here today,” Rachel said, motioning in the Warblers’ direction.

“We’re older than you,” Wes protested.

“Well, Blaine isn’t,” David corrected.

“Guys, I am older than both of you! What are you talking about? The juniors here are Jeff and Nick.”

“But I thought Blaine was a senior last year…” Finn whispered to Kurt.

“Continuity,” Kurt simply replied.

“Yes, well, now that that’s settled!” Rachel said loudly, “We mustn't let Quinn’s behaviour go unpunished! She was late, and we all know how Ms. Darbus feels about that.”

“Miss Berry, not that it is any of your business, but Miss Fabray had already notified me that she would be slightly tardy to this evening’s rehearsal,” Ms. Darbus interrupted, “Now, everyone, places.”

As Ms. Darbus walked away, Rachel followed. “Ms. Darbus, how is that professional? If I were the lead-”

“Yes, Miss Berry, I know,” She turned around to face her student, “You would not be late. You would be on time and ready to shine. You would know your lines by now, you would know the dances, and you would be ready.”

“Then why did you cast her ?”

“I cast her because she fit the role. She sang in the key of Mrs. Frank Abagnale and did a magnificent French accent.”

“But I can do those things too,” Rachel protested weakly.

“But did you?” Ms. Darbus challenged, “If I remember correctly, you came to your audition and sang a song that was two octaves below your normal key. If I remember correctly, you wanted the part of Frank Abagnale Jr, not of Mrs. Frank Abagnale.”

Rachel’s face fell, “I did, but only because I wanted the lead-”

“Unfortunately, Miss Berry, this is how auditions work. If you do not show me the part that you want, then it will not be the part that you get. You wanted Mr. Frank Abagnale Jr, but another actor was a better fit.”

“Why are you being so mean?” Rachel asked while on the verge of tears.

“Miss Berry, this is not being mean . This is being realistic. If you want to be an actress, you must understand that you won’t always get what you want.

“One of my students, a long time ago, was a lot like you. She was the co-captain of the drama club and had been in seventeen school productions. One production, however, she was cast as the understudy. Not because she didn’t want the role, nor because she wasn’t qualified, but because I knew that another girl who had auditioned would better fit the show. She was enraged, upset, and confused. After she watched the other girl audition, she understood why I did it.

“Miss Evans is now on Broadway leading her own show. She told me once that she was grateful for the experience of being an understudy because that was where she started her professional career. Things are not handed to you in the real world, Miss Berry, you must work for them.”

“Miss Evans… as in Sharpay Evans? You were the drama teacher of Sharpay Evans?!”

Ms. Darbus smiled, “Yes, she and her brother. I’ve had quite a bit of students in my day, but that East High class will always be my most famous.”

“Well… if Sharpay Evans started from the bottom, then so can I!” Rachel declared before storming off.

Ms. Darbus sighed. It would take more than one afternoon for Miss Berry to understand what she was trying to say.

Heck, it took Sharpay almost two months.

 Opening night came and went without much chaos. When the show’s run was over, the feeling of emptiness and accomplishment washed over everyone. The Hummels were even nice enough to host a cast and crew after party.

Blaine was sitting to the side, waiting for Kurt to finish his conversation, when Ms. Darbus stood beside him.

“There are rumours that you wanted to transfer here at the beginning of the school year,” she said, “I must say I would’ve loved to have you as part of my team.”

Blaine smiled, “I figured that it would be better if I stayed at Dalton for my senior year. My heart is here, with Kurt, but my home is at Dalton.”

“Yes, sometimes home is not where the heart is,” she took a sip of her drink, “but tell me, Mr. Anderson, what do you plan to study next fall?”

“I’m still deciding,” Blaine responded, “it will be either theatre or pre-law.”

“Two very different paths, though I cannot say I’m surprised.”

“Well, my passion lies in both. I want to help people, that I know, but do I want to make them smile or do I want to change their lives?”

“Who says you can’t do both, Mr. Anderson?” This made Blaine frown, “Yes, I once had a student that went to school for theatre and basketball. Quite an odd combination, but they both made him happy. He became successful in both.”

“What does he do now? Theatre or basketball?”

“Both, surprisingly. He’s not only the drama teacher at my old school but also their basketball coach! It’s funny how life throws these twists at us.”

Blaine though for a moment, “So… it’s not weird to have second thoughts this late? Everyone else seems so… confident in what they’ll do in the future.”

“Mr. Anderson, this is a life-changing choice. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed and frightened. The only advice I can give to you is to have courage. Be yourself and don’t listen to anyone else. Your life is yours , dear.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to find the dessert table.”

Kurt joined Blaine a moment later. “Any words of advice from her?” He asked.

Blaine smiled and took his boyfriend’s hand, “Courage.”

 Yes, in her lifetime Ms. Allison Darbus has witnessed a lot of things. She watched as Mr. Troy Bolton went from high school athlete, to NBA athlete, to Broadway actor, to high school teacher in a span of ten years. She watched as his wife, Mrs. Gabriella Montez-Bolton, bore two children and became a published lawyer. She watched as Ms. Taylor McKessie became the first African-American woman to be elected as Speaker of the House. She watched as Miss Sharpay Evans won her first Tony Award. She watched as Mr. Ryan Evans became an award-winning choreographer, then as he wed Mr. Chad Danforth, one of the most noteworthy broadcasters for ESPN. She watched her children grow up to be the adults that they are today.

As she looks to the future, she wonders how her new children will grow. She hopes they will be just as successful.