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Pipe Dream

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“It’s just a pipe dream and you know it. The supposed ‘love of your life’ took Tony from you. How will you get into NYADA now?” Sebastian asked him. “What kind of ‘teenage dream’ ruins his boyfriend’s chances of getting into his ‘dream’ school?”

Kurt hadn’t known Sebastian even five minutes and he had hit the nail on the head. Kurt didn’t have what it took to get into a school like NYADA.

“I have to go.” He stood up quickly, grabbing his coffee cup. “I only stopped in to get a pick-me-up drink on the way to the shop. Tell Blaine I’ll talk to him later.”

Kurt left the Lima Bean and got into his Navigator. He put the coffee up in the drink holder, put his seat belt on quickly, put the Navigator in reverse, pulled out of the spot, changed to drive, and headed out of the parking lot. He got to the exit, put his turn signal on to head to the shop, then suddenly changed his mind and flipped the signal to the other direction. He drove straight to the Lima Library.

He headed inside and found the area where the books about applying to college were. He pulled all of them off the shelf and took them to a table away from everyone else. He looked through them and realized that he didn’t have nearly enough to put on his CV to make him look like a good candidate.

He stacked the books that looked the most useful together to check out later and carried them over to the public computer section. He sat down and logged in. He looked up NYADA. The acceptance rate was 7.5%. He looked through the information and did some calculations of his own. There were six departments, and the most sought after slots were in the musical theater department. Typically around 1600 people applied for the 120 available spots, but over 400 of those applicants were for the 20 musical theater department slots, which changed the acceptance rate to less than 5%.

He looked up other New York City schools with musical theater departments. He wrote down the names, the tuition cost, and the room/board price - if the school offered it. He was shocked to see the cost of the tuition alone at some of the schools was close to $60K a year. Even if his dad helped, he would have to take out huge loans.

He looked on a different website to find the cost of renting an apartment in New York City. He about choked when he saw the price of a two-bedroom apartment, which is what he would need to live with Rachel. He could not afford half the rent on a two-bedroom. He switched his search to efficiency apartments because they were the least expensive. Even those were out of what he considered to be a reasonable range. It definitely changed his opinion on the cost of room/board from what he had thought when he had written those down.

He switched again to looking up how much Broadway and off-Broadway performers made. He was shocked to find that off-Broadway performers didn’t make anymore than a qualified mechanic. Broadway actors made more. But what reason did he have to think that he could get a job on Broadway any time soon? He couldn’t even get the lead in a high school play when he was the only one who specifically auditioned for the role.

On $50K a year in a decent-sized town, he could live a comfortable life. Own a house, get a dog, work regular hours, and be set. In New York City, on the same off-Broadway income, he’d barely be able to afford a decent one-bedroom apartment.

What was his real goal? He sat and thought. His real goal was to get out of Ohio, more specifically out of Lima. He thought about whether his goal of getting out of Lima was worth $250K in debt. He also thought about whether he could tolerate four years of Rachel and others like her. His eyes began to fill with tears when he realized that Blaine was just like Rachel.

When she thought she might not get Maria, she automatically went and put herself in the race for class president. “Who cares about you, buddy?” flashed back into his mind from the year before. He thought they had worked past that, but they hadn’t. He just hadn’t tried to get anything she might want since then, so there had been no reason to push him down. But the instant she thought she wasn’t going to get what she wanted, he was as expendable as he had always been. It really would have been a match made in heaven if Blaine had been bi.

Blaine. What was he going to do about Blaine? Clearly Blaine was going on non-dates with Sebastian, just like he had done with Kurt before they were actually dating. Sebastian was being openly flirty. Was he after Blaine? For what reason?

Sebastian. “We met at Dalton.” He’d be the next person for Kurt to talk to. He’d make a trip out to see the Warblers just like Blaine had. Why didn’t Blaine take him with him in the first place? Oh. He went to brag.

Since they had just had a non-date, surely they didn’t have another one scheduled for the next day. Kurt went through his schedule in his head. He had West Side Story rehearsal, but he wasn’t really needed since he had no singing or dancing parts and that was what the rehearsal was specifically for. He’d tell Miss Pillsbury that he wouldn’t be able to stay and he’d head out to Dalton as soon as school let out.

He packed his notebook back into his satchel. He checked out the most useful of the books he had pulled off the shelf and headed home.

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He sat down at the table for dinner later that evening.

“Hey, kiddo, I thought you were going to stop by the shop this afternoon and put in a few hours.”

“I was, Dad. Then, I realized that I needed to go to the library to get some books about applying for college.”

“I thought you and Rachel were applying to NYADA,” Finn said.

Kurt realized his misstep and attempted to tell the truth without giving anything away. “Oh, I am. I’m just trying to find the best way to present myself in the applications so I have the best chance at getting in.”

“I get it. Maybe Rachel should read them too.”

“Maybe.”

“So, what about tomorrow then?” Burt asked.

“I can’t, Dad. I really need to work on this. Deadlines for applying are coming up and I haven’t started on my application yet. Maybe once I read those books, I won’t be so worried, but until then, I really need to focus. I’ll put in extra hours soon.”

“It’s okay, bud. I know you’ve gotta do what you gotta do for stuff like that.”

“Are you applying anywhere in New York, Finn?” Kurt asked.

“Nah, I no idea what I want to do.”

“So, you’re not going to go with Rachel to New York?”

“That’s not for like another almost year. I don’t know.”

“Finn, Kurt’s right,” Carole said. “You can’t just wait until the end of summer to decide. You have to apply now and get in places. Once you have acceptance letters, you can make your final choice between the places you get in.”

“I don’t even want to go to college. I hate school.”

“Alright.” Kurt said. “Are you just going to move to New York with Rachel and get a job?”

“I guess I could.”

“Whatever Finn. I’m not leaving things up to chance. I’m working on everything now so I actually have a chance of getting out of Lima.”

The rest of dinner was eaten in silence.

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Kurt went back to his room, turned his laptop on, and resumed his research from earlier that afternoon. What he found out actually surprised him. Two of the top 25 musical theater programs in the US were actually IN Ohio - one in Akron and one in Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati program being ranked significantly higher, in the top five, and the tuition was one-third the cost of the one in Akron and less than one-fifth the cost of the programs in New York.   He definitely needed to plan a trip to Cincinnati to check the school out.

He did his homework quickly. Afterwards, he switched to reading the books about applying to college. What he already knew came screaming off the pages. He was woefully underprepared to fill out the applications. He did not have enough extra-curricular activities. No one wanted him in any of the afterschool clubs, so he had avoided those.

He had Glee, but that wasn’t enough. He had never sung lead in a competition and they hadn’t done that well at Nationals. He had the two competitions with the Warblers. He could list the duet he had with Blaine. He had no acting roles besides Krupke, who didn’t even sing or dance - unless he could list the Rocky Horror Picture Show that was never actually performed for an audience.

He had worked, but it was for his dad, which didn’t make it look like had to put much effort into getting or keeping the job. He had his ASE certifications. He could list those and maybe get some more before it was time to turn the applications in.

What else was there? The only thing that came to mind was rejoining the Cheerios. Could he withstand an entire school year of Coach Sue’s weigh-ins and food policing? He had gotten taller since the last time he was on the squad and hadn’t gained any weight. Maybe he could slip in under the radar and stay there. It was a chance to shine, which he obviously was not going to get through Glee. He’d have to really consider it.

He saw a listing for a website about scholarships in one of the books. He bookmarked it so he could look at it more. He packed up his schoolbooks in his satchel and the library books and his laptop in another bag. He would leave the second bag in his car during school.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

After school, Kurt headed straight to Dalton. He was immediately recognized by the secretary and given a pass to be in the building until curfew. He headed to the Warblers practice room hoping to find that Sebastian was still hanging around after rehearsal. If not, he hoped to find someone who remembered him and get Sebastian’s number.

He found Sebastian sitting on one of the couches reading a textbook. He sat down on the couch leaving enough space between them that someone else could sit down.

Sebastian looked up from his textbook. “Well, if it isn’t the runway wannabe. Why are you here?”

“I actually came to talk to you.” Kurt tried to keep from fidgeting with his hands.

“You drove all the way from Lima to talk to me when we’re going out in West Lima tonight? What was so important that you needed to spend three extra hours driving today?”

“What?”

“I guess Blaine didn’t tell you.”

“Tell me what?” Kurt looked totally lost.

“The three of us are going out tonight.” He lowered his voice to lower than a whisper. “I have your fake IDs.”

“What?” He was completely lost at that point.

“Being hard of hearing isn’t going to make it easy to succeed in theater.”

“I’m not hard of hearing. I just have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“We’ll talk about that later. What did you want to talk to me about?”

“First, I just want to ask you a question. How many times have you and Blaine gone out for coffee?”

“Um.” He thought about it. “Four, if you count the first time we had coffee here. I’ve driven to Lima once. He’s driven here twice since the day he brought the tickets.”

“I see. And when did you find out about me?”

“From him - when you walked up to the table yesterday. From the other Warblers, back at the beginning of the semester - so about 2 months ago.”

“I see.” Kurt still looked curious, but not as confused.

“As for knowing about NYADA and what not - if you don’t want people you don’t know to know things about you, I’d suggest getting Rachel Berry to stop openly posting on her Facebook page about your joint activities, like attending the NYADA mixer and her plans for you to be her best gay in New York.”

“She did NOT say that did she?” Kurt asked indignantly.

“She didn’t have to. She’s running against you for senior class president. She strings you along, but takes what you need. Just like Blaine.”

“You’re very full of yourself.”

“Nah. I’m just good at reading people. And you are a self-deprecating, self-defeating person who lets people walk all over you in the name of friendship and/or love.”

“Wow. So, what is it that we are doing this evening that I have yet to be informed of?”

Sebastian answered nearly silently again. “Going to Scandals.”

Kurt shrugged. “That means nothing to me.”

Still silently speaking, “It’s a gay bar in West Lima.”

“Oh. Why do we need to go there?”

“To dance, to relax, to have fun. Be ourselves somewhere.”

“I can do those things in my bedroom and not risk the things I’d be risking by going there.”

“Live a little.” Sebastian poked fun at him.

“Or die a lot, if we get caught,” he whispered.

“Suit yourself. I’m meeting Blaine there at 8:00.”

“On a school night?”

“I don’t have school tomorrow. I’m going to crash in Lima and pretend I went home for the night.”

“I see.”

“Why did you come all the way here?”

“Well, it seems that Blaine knows you quite well. I figured we should get to know each other.” This time, Kurt’s answer was more confident, or at least he hoped it seemed that way.

“Sizing me up. Well, the truth is Blaine’s cute. He’s got a nice ass. I haven’t gotten any action around here and he likes the attention, which makes me wonder why he’s looking since I met you. You are all kinds of hot. You’re a good tailor. Your knock-off replicas are good. I’m sure no one around here appreciates your eccentric tastes though.”

“Thank you? And how do you know they’re replicas?”

“My stepmother is a huge Vogue fan. The magazines lay in the library on the table next to where she reads.”

“I see.”

“And why I know they’re replicas is because I’ve seen the price tags on the real pieces and no one whose father is a mechanic could afford to wear $3000 shirts.”

“Point taken. We are far from poor, but no, I don’t have $3000 to spend on a shirt.”

“I will say you rock the tight jeans. Better ass than Blaine for sure.”

Kurt blushed. “Thanks?”

“Has no one ever complimented you?”

“Not really. Actually no. Not unless you count Tina and Mercedes.”

“Not really,” he scoffed. “Not unless they were hitting on you because they’re obviously too dumb to know that straight boys don’t dress fashionably unless their mothers or sisters pick out their clothes.”

“Well, Mercedes had a crush on me sophomore year.”

Sebastian laughed.

“I dated a cheerleader later that same year during my nearly weeklong attempt to be straight,” he said somewhere between snidely and teasingly.

“Now, that I would have paid to see. Flannel, ball cap, baggy jeans?”

“You got it. Oh, and I sang Mellencamp in Glee,” he said, eyes looking up to the side tilting his head, in a semi-condescending way, mocking himself.

“Nice.”

“So, tell me about you.”

“I’m 18. I grew up in France. If I can manage to pass all of the asinine classes I’m in, I’ll graduate in May, but I don’t know if I can keep up with the workload. I don’t have the cultural references and background I need. I’m taking American History and American Literature in addition to US Government and my other six classes, which is tough. I’m taking French though, so that’s an easy A.”

“When you say ‘in addition to’, you mean you’re taking nine classes?”

“Two of them are independent study – the American Lit and History courses. I have to do all of the reading, take the tests, and write the papers on my own time.”

“So, why are you driving to Lima 90 minutes each way wasting time getting coffee with Blaine?”

“It seemed like something with a good potential for some occasional fun.”

“Fun?”

“Yeah. You do know what the word means, right?” he slid the textbook off his lap and turned more towards Kurt.

“Well, you having the type of ‘fun’ I’m used to hearing about with my boyfriend doesn’t work for me.”

“Well, to be honest, he didn’t seem that into you given that he’d never mentioned you. And originally my main goal was actually to get him to come back to Dalton. The fanboys here drive me nuts with their ‘Blaine this’ and ‘Blaine that’ talk. And if he were here, I wouldn’t have to listen to that anymore.”

“I see. Well, I don’t know what to tell you about that. He’d be about 10 weeks behind on schoolwork, but it can be done. I showed up with only 4 weeks left in the semester last fall and got caught up.”

“That’s impressive.”

“Thanks?”

“There you go again with the questioning the compliments.”

“I’ll work on it.”

Sebastian laughed.

“So, you’re trying to lure him back here and have ‘fun’ with him, the type of fun remains yet undefined.”

“Well, he didn’t really seem all that committed since he talked about the musical and his potential for being the lead male in New Directions and going to Nationals every time we got together. And honestly, he really seemed to be into the attention.”

“I see. Well, whatever his level of commitment, he hasn’t broken it off with me, so he’s still off-limits.”

“I got that. Now that we’ve gotten together several times, I’m not sure how dedicated I am to pursue getting him back to Dalton where his fanboys think he belongs because of his propensity for stealing people’s roles. I’m not sure I want him back here challenging me since I’m lead Warbler now.”

Kurt’s phone buzzed with a text. “Excuse me.” Kurt stood up and moved away from the couch and read the message, which informed him of their evening with Sebastian in Lima.

“Well, there you go. My presence has been requested this evening at, well you know where. He says he’ll pick me up at 7:30.”

“I’ll just give you the things I have for you while you’re here.”

“Alright.” Kurt sat down on the arm of the couch and faced Sebastian.

“They’re in my room. I’ll go get them in a few minutes.”

“Why are you here for your junior or senior year or whatever? Where were you before?”

“In Paris.”

“For how long?”

“My whole life.”

“Why would you come here for your last year of school?”

“Wasn’t by choice. Trust me. If I can’t manage to do well in all 9 of my classes and I end up having to drop some, I’ll get the great pleasure of staying an extra year. My father does not know about the extra classes.”

“You want to go back.”

“As soon as possible. Living in central Ohio was not part of my plan.”

“How did you end up here?”

“Well, my father told my mother he would only pay for my schooling if I came to Dalton, meaning that I’d no longer be able to attend the private school I’ve been going to in Paris.”

“And your mother sent you here.”

“Yes.”

“Do you at least get along with your father?”

Sebastian snorted. “My father is a conservative Republican politician with an American wife and two more kids.”

“So, why are we going where we’re going? Are you trying to get sent home?”

“He lives on the south side of Columbus. The likelihood anyone he knows will be where we’re going is slim to none.”

“Well, as I learned in math, the distance between any two numbers is infinite. There is always a chance between slim and none, which is why I’ve decided that I will not be going tonight. I’ll change the plans. I’ll be his ride home, but that’s it. You pick him up and take him. I’ll pick him up in time to get home by curfew, which is 11:00pm on a weeknight for me.”

“Live a little.”

“Not happening. My dad is running for Congress. Me getting picked up…there…will not help him win. Why did you come at me so strong yesterday? You were really insulting for someone who has said halfway decent things to me today.”

“I see things you don’t. You’ve lived a small town life. Your so-called ‘bestie’ is using you. If New Directions is the only thing on your CV, you have zero chance of getting into NYADA. Don’t just apply there. At least apply other places. I’ve only heard you sing ‘Candles’, which was a terrible choice for a competition piece. You did okay, but it wasn’t a good fit for your voice or maybe it was arranged in the wrong key. Maybe you have potential. I don’t know. But your boyfriend is the lead in the play and you aren’t. He’s certain that he’s going to be the male lead of your Glee Club soon. What else do you have going for you? You were at Dalton last year where there was no musical to be part of. What role do you have in West Side Story?”

“Krupke.”

“He doesn’t even sing or dance.”

“I know.” Kurt looked at the time on his phone and sighed loudly. “Well, this has been an unusual afternoon and I’m not sure what to think. You keep what you were going to give me and find someone else who wants it. Just give Blaine his when you pick him up. Text him to get his address. I’ll find the address of the place and be there at 10:30 to pick him up. I have to go or I’ll be late to dinner.” Kurt stood up.

“Wait, before you go, give me your phone.” Sebastian reached out.

Kurt handed it to him.

He put his number in and handed it back.

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Kurt drove back to Lima with no more clarity than he had left with. The truth was that Blaine was dating Sebastian in the same way that he had dated Kurt. But Kurt knew that if he asked Blaine to stop, that he would argue that there was nothing going on, but that’s how Blaine felt about the months they had spent together. Sebastian didn’t seem to view the non-dates as completely platonic either since Blaine never mentioned Kurt to him.

Kurt went home and slid right into his spot for dinner. He ate quickly, thanked Carole, and went straight to his room to get his homework done.

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Before he left, he texted Carole and told her that he had to leave at 10:00, but that he’d be back at 11:00 – that Blaine needed a ride home. He told her he was taking her car so he could just leave without playing musical cars since she was parked behind him.

Kurt pulled up at 10:20, which was a little early, but he had left with extra time since he wasn’t familiar with the area. Blaine wasn’t standing inside the door ready to be picked up, which made sense since Kurt was early. But Kurt just wanted to get the task completed and go back home. He pulled into a spot near the entrance. He walked over to the door and opened it just enough to see the bouncer. He stepped inside.

“I’m someone’s ride. I need to pick him up.”

The guy just nodded.

Kurt stood against the door and texted Blaine, but he didn’t respond. He got the bouncer’s attention. “Any chance you could go get him? I’m not 21.”

“Yeah, sure, kid. What’s he look like?”

Kurt described Blaine. The bouncer got up and returned with Blaine a couple of minutes later.

“Thanks.”

Kurt got Blaine out the door, barely.

“This is the best night of my life.”

“Okay.”

“It’s the best night of my life.”

“I wanna live here. I wanna live here. And I just wanna make art and help people.”

Kurt laughed at his nonsense and struggled to get him to the car.

“You could certainly help people make fires with your breath.”

“Hey, come on. I only had one beer.”

“Sure, you did.”

“Hey, kiss me.”

Kurt opened the back door of the car. Rebuffing Blaine’s request he said, “Oh, no, no, no.”

“Kiss me. Come on.”

“You’re riding in the back. Come on. Lay down.”

Kurt struggled to get Blaine into the backseat, even though it shouldn’t have been that hard since he had taken Carole’s car and it wasn’t as if they had to climb up into it to get in.

“All right. All right.” Blaine said, acquiescing and getting in.

“Less likely to throw up that way.”

As soon as Blaine was completely in the backseat, he pulled Kurt down on top of him and started kissing his neck and wrapped his arms around Kurt preventing him from getting up easily. Kurt struggled.

“Okay, okay, oh. Alright!” Kurt did not want Blaine to touch him that way. “Blaine!”

Blaine had pulled his shirt loose and stuck his hand on Kurt’s back. He had let go with his other hand and had it on the side of Kurt’s face.

“Alright! Cold hands!” Kurt squawked. He pushed up and back from Blaine a bit.

“Hey, Kurt, let’s just do it. I… I want you.”

Kurt struggled to keep Blaine’s hands off of him. “No! No.”

“I want you so bad.” Blaine managed to get his hand behind Kurt’s neck and pull him forward again.

“No,” he repeated emphatically.

Blaine got his other hand behind his neck and pulled him down on to him again.

“No, Blaine. No! Stop it” Kurt broke free from one hand.

“I know you wanted to do it in a field of lilacs, with Sting playing in the background and all that. But who cares where we are? It’s all about us, right?”

Kurt had managed to get free from both of Blaine’s hands around his neck, but he was still struggling to keep Blaine’s hands off of him. “Right, it’s about us!” He finally managed to get free from Blaine completely and backed out of the car. “Which is why I don’t want to do it on a night that you spent half of dancing with another guy and that you're sober enough to remember it the next day!” By this point, Kurt was yelling panickedly.

Blaine slid over to follow him out of the backseat. “Why are you yelling at me?”

“Because I’ve never felt less like being intimate with someone, and either you can’t tell or you just don’t care.”

Blaine got the rest of the way out of the backseat and started walking away from the car.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m sorry if I’m trying to be spontaneous and fun.” Sarcasm dripped from his words as he threw his arms up in the air melodramatically from about 10 feet from the back of the car.

Kurt was panting and didn’t know what to say.

Blaine put his arms down and put his hands on his hips. “I think I’m just gonna walk home.”

Kurt slammed the back door of the car and got in the driver’s seat, then got right back out and shut the car door. He took off after Blaine.

“Blaine, stop.”

“What?” Blaine turned around.

“Look, if you don’t want me to take you home, you need to go back inside and find Sebastian and let him take you home or go inside and sober up and call a cab. We’re 10 miles or more from where you live. Even in the daylight, sober, it would take you two to three hours to walk home.”

“Right, right. Too far to walk.”

Kurt managed to corral him and get him to walk back to the building without touching him. Kurt opened the door and Blaine went back inside. Kurt stopped inside the door again.

“He changed his mind and doesn’t want me to take him home. Any chance you could grab the tall guy in the green and blue striped shirt so I can tell him?”

“Yeah, sure. Hold on.”

Sebastian came over to the entrance.

Kurt spoke as quietly as possible. “Look. You got him drunk or let him get drunk. Either way, you sober him up and get him home. I’m barely going to make curfew and he’s not being cooperative with me. I don’t have time to argue with him anymore and get back home on time.”

“Yeah. Okay. Something’s going on that you’re not saying.”

“And I’m going to continue to not say it. I have to go.” Kurt turned and walked out. He got back in Carole’s car and drove back home.

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He managed to escape detection even though he was 10 minutes late. Once he was in his room, he showered and got in bed. He had too much on his mind to do anything else.

He lay there, unable to sleep. What was going on? “I just can’t stand to be apart from the person I love.” was what he had heard just 9 weeks prior when Blaine showed up at McKinley. “I just want you to be comfortable, so I can be comfortable.” was just last week. They’d never so much as touched each other below the belt, or above the belt without clothing, or made out lying on top of each other or anything. He wasn’t even sure that the kissing they had done could be considered making out.

They dated for a few days before he went back to McKinley, then for a couple of months long-distance dating with Blaine working at Six Flags near Chicago, staying in a small apartment with a group of students that also worked at the theme park. He came back the week before school started, and then a week after school started, he surprised Kurt by enrolling at McKinley.

What was going on? Why was he seeking Sebastian out to spend time with him?

He had too many unanswered questions, but he refocused. What was he going to do about what had happened in the parking lot? He knew some people got handsy when they were drunk, but that didn’t change how violating it had felt to say ‘no’ repeatedly and not be listened to.

How was having sex in the back of Carole’s car going to be ‘fun’? ‘Spontaneous’, yes, due to the lack of proper preparation, but definitely not ‘fun’ for one of them. Kurt could never bring himself to do something that would hurt Blaine and since there was no evidence that Blaine had anything with him, it sure looked like Blaine didn’t have the same compulsion when it came to doing something that would definitely hurt Kurt.

Taking Tony had hurt, really hurt. But what happened in the parking lot went beyond stealing a part in a play. It actually went beyond what Dave had done to him. Why did he feel like he was supposed to be okay with what Blaine had done considering how angry and hurt he had been over what Dave had done?

He thought Dave hated him. He thought Blaine loved him.

But did that matter? Did the fact that Blaine had said that he loved him change what had actually happened? He had actually fought harder to get away from Blaine than he had from Dave. He had only had to push Dave back once. He had repeatedly told Blaine no and had to struggle to get free.

If Tina came to him and told him the exact same story, but she had been the one in Kurt’s role, what would he tell her? What would his dad say if he knew?

Tears flowed down his cheeks. He grabbed his iPod and turned on his Madonna playlist and started to sing quietly to block out his thoughts for a while.

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Thursday seemed to drag on and on. He and Blaine didn’t have any classes together and Blaine never showed up at lunch. The dress rehearsal replaced Glee Club after school. Kurt watched Blaine perform and he was off. His focus just wasn’t where it needed to be. He knew that talking to Blaine before the show was a bad idea, so he left before Blaine had finished getting back into his regular clothes.

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Once the show was over that evening, Kurt changed and went to look for Blaine. He found him on the stage rehearsing part of a dance that he had messed up during the performance.

“That the beauty of the stage. You get to do it again tomorrow night,” Kurt said from the side of the stage. “Your friends were all here. The Warblers. Sebastian.”

Blaine stopped practicing and approached Kurt. “Sebastian doesn’t mean anything to me, Kurt.”

“I realize that may be what you think. But reality says that if you spend a lot of time with someone one-on-one, that the person probably means something to you. If you mean that you aren’t interested in him romantically, I can accept that as how you see things right now. And maybe he’s just a potential friend, but that still makes him mean something. He’s a real person. If his company means nothing to you, you wouldn’t keep seeking him out to spend time with him. I’m not one of those people who controls what their significant others do, but you need to think about your actions. I don’t think he viewed your non-dates any different than I viewed our non-dates a year ago. I thought you were interested in me romantically then. You went out of your way to spend time with me. You are leading him on, just like you led me on last year.”

“What?”

“Your obliviousness is getting old. You’ve been told before that you lead people on. I told you last year at Valentine’s Day that I thought you were going to sing to me, but you sang to Jeremiah. Are you sure that Sebastian sees your non-dates as just hanging out?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did you ever talk to him about us? He sure looked surprised to meet me the Lima Bean the other day.”

“Oh, I guess not. I’ve been really excited about the play.”

“I know, but Blaine, people don’t generally drive 90 minutes each way to see someone just to hang out. He goes to an all-boys school. There are 600 other guys he could just ‘hang out’ with. Guys only put that much effort into something that has more of a payout.”

“Payout?” Seemingly confused, he asked, “So, you think he’s trying to get me to hook up with him?”

“I’m not sure exactly his level of interest. I don’t know him well enough to know the answer to that. But I do know that you are leading him on. If that’s not what you’re interested in, you need to make that more clear to him.”

“Okay. But obviously I’m not interested because I already have a boyfriend – you.” He reached to take Kurt’s hand, but didn’t succeed.

Kurt pulled his hand behind his back. “Well, that’s not going to be an issue for you anymore. I spent a lot of time thinking after what happened last night. I’m not a gay bar superstar. I’m a romantic. You know that. You’ve known that since, well basically since we met. You obviously enjoyed yourself immensely last night and that is never going to be my scene. And I am not comfortable around you when you’ve been drinking.”

“I’ll quit. I mean I won’t drink anymore.” He shifted his weight again.

“Blaine, there is more than just the drinking going on. Come sit down.” Kurt sat on the edge of the stage and Blaine sat next to him. “We’ve been dating 7 months.”

“Right,” he nodded.

“Last Friday, I asked you about your interest in moving our relationship forward to something beyond just kissing. And you said my layers were a problem and that you had your right hand to deal with any desires you might have. You said you wanted me to be comfortable so you could be comfortable. But I thought about it. I don’t think that’s the issue. I was sitting on your bed in your room in your house without any adults home. I straight up offered myself to you and you turned me down. You didn’t have to say ‘let’s have sex now’ to accept my offer. We could have tried French kissing, maybe even made out on your bed. But instead you hopped up on the bed, gave me a quick peck on the lips and went back to dancing.”

“I remember.”

“So, last night’s actions were such a 180 from last week that I had to ask myself what was the difference? When I was offering you something and we had all the privacy we needed, why were you uninterested? But then last night, you weren’t prepared. I was definitely not prepared. And you were so forceful that I was genuinely afraid. If you had gotten your way last night, I wouldn’t be able to walk today.”

“I was prepared, but I didn’t intend to scare you. I didn’t go about it the right way.” He tried to look at Kurt, but ended up looking away.

“Obviously. I mean if you had wanted to make out, like French kissing and maybe, let me feel you through your clothes while you did the same, and if we made out until we both came from that? Something that was along the road to what you were trying to do last night? I would have gone along with that. I’d have even been late for curfew to do that in the car with you.”

“I wasn’t thinking. I was drunk.” He kept pressing non-existent wrinkles in his pants.

“I know. I could smell the alcohol on your breath from two feet away.”

“Are you breaking up with me?”

“What happened in the car last night was unacceptable. Let’s say you had a teenage sister. If the exact same thing had happened to her last night, what would you say to her?”

“Oh.”

“Right. What you did was a form of sexual assault. No, you didn’t manage to get my clothes off, but not for lack of effort on your part. If I had been a smaller person, you could have succeeded. You only stopped because I defended myself and kept pushing your hands off of me until I could climb out of the car. If I had been under you, things might have turned out differently. Just because I managed to get away doesn’t change your intent. I didn’t just wake up today hating you instead of loving you like I have for ages. But I can’t stay with someone who would do what you did last night. I have some self-respect, Blaine.”

“I love you.” He reached for Kurt’s hand, yet again unsuccessfully.

Kurt put his hands in his lap and interlaced his fingers. “I know that you say that you do, but last night you showed that you don’t respect me. What you did changed how I feel. I don’t feel the same as I did yesterday. I still love you, but I’m afraid of you now. You broke the bond of trust we had. And that bond was already on really thin ice. You said you’d let me have the lead so I could hopefully get into a good college. What did sabotaging my college application gain you? I mean, you were already going to get leads in competitions that I will never get.” Kurt looked up and looked Blaine in the eyes. “I supported you. I’ve been kind and loving even though you took what I really needed. And last night, you broke what little trust I still had. I can’t just overlook the fact that you always put yourself and your needs and wants first.”

“I just wanted to play Tony well so badly.”

“And you got it, but you’ve lost me. I can’t be your boyfriend anymore. We don’t have to end this hating each other. You can go back to Dalton next week, if you want. Obviously the Warblers would take you back with open arms.”

Blaine didn’t say anything.

“Or you can stay here. We only have Glee together.” Kurt’s phone buzzed. He pulled it out of his pocket to read the text. “Rachel’s looking for you. She says you were supposed to be at Breadstix a half-hour ago.”

“She’s right. Artie’s having a cast party. I wanted you to come with me.”

“No, thanks. Obviously, my presence wasn’t on anyone’s radar since, although I am in the play, I was not invited. But we can walk out together so that neither one of us is in the parking lot alone. Let’s go.” He stood back up and waited for Blaine to follow him.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

An hour after he had gotten home, Kurt’s phone rang. He mostly got texts, so a call was unusual. He swiped to answer and sat on the edge of his bed.

“Blaine?”

“It’s really over, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Blaine. Look, I was honest with you earlier. I have always been honest with you. I have loved you and been in love with you for a long time. But no matter how much I love you, I have to have some self-respect. I can’t just continue to allow you to hurt me. I deserve to be with someone who doesn’t hurt me.”

“You’re right. You do. I’m…I just want that someone to be me.”

“Well, right now, I don’t think you’re ready to be anyone’s boyfriend. I should have listened to you last year. When you told me that you didn’t want to mess up our friendship by dating me. You told me you weren’t good at romance. I think a more honest version of that statement is that you’re not good at putting someone else first. Until you get to the point where you can put someone else’s needs or wants at least at an equal level with your own, you’re not ready to be anyone’s boyfriend.”

“I thought I was losing you last year. I didn’t want to lose you. Now, I’m losing you.”

“Blaine, I don’t know what else to say to you right now. I can’t be your boyfriend. I can’t do this. If you ever get over your incessant need to be the center of attention and get your way all the time, maybe you’ll be ready to look for a boyfriend again. Though to be honest, I think you’ll need to look for a boyfriend that doesn’t have aspirations of being a performer, unless he’s an instrumentalist or someone who works on the sets. I have to go now.”

Kurt ended the call and set his phone to silent and fell back onto his bed, tears streaming down his cheeks.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Friday at lunch, Kurt called the university and made an appointment to visit and speak with someone about the musical theater program for the following Tuesday. He headed to Miss Pillsbury’s office to get an excused absence Tuesday for the out-of-town college visit. He went through the rest of his day as usual.

He worked at the shop for a few hours after school and was back at the school to give his best Krupke performance. He asked Lauren to get one of the AV guys to film just the parts of the show when he was on stage.  

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

He used the weekend to go through his room. He had gotten the “I’m going to college and moving on” motivation and sorted through everything in his room. He started with his bookshelves before he went to school for the matinee performance. He tossed their prom picture from the year before. He took the frame, the scepter and the crown and put them in a box along with some other things he found around his room that he didn’t need anymore.

He went home after the matinee performance and collected up everything he had that belonged to Blaine and put it in a small box. After that, he tackled his dresser because he knew he didn’t have a lot of time to start a huge project before dinner. After he ate, he went back to school for the evening performance.

Afterwards, he asked Blaine to follow him to the Navigator and gave him the box. Seeing Blaine’s face when he realized what was in the box made Kurt question his resolve to follow through with breaking up with him. He had to force himself to get in and shut the door and drive away because all he really wanted to do was hug Blaine.

Kurt grabbed some granola bars and fruit and stayed in his room all day Sunday. He cleaned out everything he owned. He packed up what he thought he could sell and everything else went into donation boxes.

He hung up the few costumes he thought he might be able to reuse, like the Victor/Victoria outfit, his Riff Raff costume, and a few others. He added “buy large garment bag” to his list of things he needed to do.

The rest of the costumes went into the donation box after he photographed them. Halloween was in a little more than a week. If he dropped the boxes off when he was in Cincinnati, someone would be more likely to want them than if he dropped them off in Lima.

After a while, he lost interest in the reorganization of his closet and decided that getting rid of what he didn’t need or didn’t fit was good enough for one day.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

He carried the boxes to the Navigator the next morning before anyone got up.

He went to school and did his best to not let on that anything was wrong. He was testing the limits of his acting, but he kept refocusing his mind on his trip the next day and it helped.

After school, he went to Sue’s office and asked to rejoin the Cheerios. He was summarily put on the scale, and much to Kurt’s pleasure, he was not overweight, even according to Sue’s standards. They negotiated the terms of his involvement.

She handed him two uniforms and a Cheerios backpack, which he had refused the last time, but agreed to as a concession to get what he wanted – a male letterman jacket, only wearing the uniform on varsity game days, and no weekly weigh in.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Tuesday he didn’t go to school. He headed to Cincinnati first thing in the morning. About 2.5 hours later, he was sitting in an office waiting for the person he was meeting.

A guy in his early 20s walked in the door and said, “Kurt Hummel?”

Kurt looked up. He stood up and walked over to the guy, who was about 6 feet tall, had medium brown hair, cut similarly to Finn and was dressed casually in fitted jeans, a button up shirt, and Sperry’s.

“I’m Matt. Matt Shiffley.”

“Nice to meet you.” Kurt offered his hand, which Matt shook.

“Let’s go this way. We’ll go down to my office. We’ll it’s a shared office, but it’s mine for the next two hours.”

They got inside this office and Matt indicated for Kurt to sit down, which he did.

“So, you’re interested in studying musical theater here?”

“I am. I’ve come in to see the school and find out more about it, but mostly because I’m really concerned that I don’t have the qualifications to even be considered for admission.”

“And why’s that?”

Kurt took a deep breath. “I’m a countertenor and my choir director doesn’t see me as leading man material. Actually no one at my school sees me as leading man material.”

“So, you audition but never get chosen?”

“Well, our director never really auditions for the lead, he just chooses.”

“I see. Do you have any experience in acting?”

“Last year, the director chose the Rocky Horror Picture Show as our fall musical.”

Matt’s face changed to bewilderment.

“Exactly. Once people in leadership found out, the show was cancelled. I was Riff Raff, but I’m not sure it counts for anything. This past weekend we performed West Side Story and I played Krupke,” he said less than enthusiastically.

“Unusual for someone who I’m assuming can sing and dance to be cast as Krupke.”

“I’ll confess that I eavesdropped on the decision-making process for Tony and the teacher, counselor, and student involved in co-directing the musical decided that I am too feminine to play Tony. That is the general consensus period. I am too feminine to be considered for a male lead.” He looked down at his lap, and then back up.

“You don’t strike me as overly feminine. I would have guessed gay because you look like you belong in a fashion magazine. Your speech pattern isn’t really all that feminine, even though your speaking voice is a bit high for a guy your age.”

“Well, you’re right. I am gay and I do love fashion.”

“Do you do design work?”

“Yes.” He smiled.

“We’ll talk about that too, but back to acting for now. Did you bring a video of you in West Side Story?”

“I did.” He pulled the video up on his phone and handed it to Matt.

He watched the different clips, laughing here and there.

“Well, your portrayal of Krupke was hilarious and not the least bit effeminate.”

“Thank you.” He sat up a bit straighter.

“What do you think sets you apart from the guy who got the lead?”

“People take him seriously as a man.”

“And why’s that?”

“I’m honestly not sure. He dresses far more outlandishly than I do as far as color schemes. Maybe it’s just the fact that he has a deeper speaking voice and more masculine traits? He’s shorter than me, but has larger hands, broader shoulders, more angular facial features.”

“That’s probably part of it. But I think part of it is probably the way he presents himself. If I were to guess, he’s very into himself and very self-confident, at least in his outward portrayal of himself.”

“Yes.”

“And you are very hesitant. You come across as expecting me to dislike you or not want to help you.”

“Years of life experience.” Kurt’s voice waivered slightly.

“You’ve been bullied.”

“Yes.” He nodded.

“And not just by people your own age.”

“Right.”

“Alright. Here’s what I think. I’d like to take you on as a private acting student. I will offer this arrangement. I will give you private lessons for free in exchange for being able to use whatever I learn from helping you in any paper that I write. Of course, I will give you a pseudonym. I teach a few other high school students, so my professors won’t know who you are by your real name.”

“Your professors?” Kurt tilted his head, a bit confused.

“I forgot to mention that part. I am in my first year as a Master’s student here. The AI’s, associate instructors, all share this office. I am not a voice teacher, so I cannot help you with anything that might need to be addressed about your singing voice. I can recommend someone though, if you’re interested.”

“Definitely. I’ve never had any training. I’ve gone to a couple of people. I was told to come back when my voice changed. I’m 18. I think that’s unlikely at this point.”

“What your range?”

“A2-A5.”

“That’s impressive. Do you have any videos of you singing?”

“I don’t have anything really recent, but I have one from last year.” Kurt pulled up the video of him singing “Le Jazz Hot” and handed his phone back to Matt.

He watched, clearly enjoying Kurt’s version. “That was spectacular. Did you make the outfit?”

“Yes.” A smile slipped through.

“Was that for a talent show or something?”

“No, we were assigned to do duets, but we had an odd number of students. I had asked a new guy to sing with me and he agreed, but then I was pressured into backing out because I didn’t want him to end up bullied for singing with me. So, I sang that as my duet.”

“Who did the choreography?”

“Me.”

“I think you are less underprepared than you think. If you have any more videos of that level of theatricality, those should be included on your CV.”

“I directed and played a role in a reimagining of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’. I directed and choreographed it and did the costuming.”

“See, now that shows ambition. That should be included on your CV as well. Have you been in anything besides choir?”

“I just rejoined the cheerleading squad yesterday. I was a cheerleader my sophomore year as well. I sang a 14-minute Celine Dion medley in French. We won the national title that year.”

“That’s impressive. I’m sure there’s a video of that somewhere too.”

“It was aired on ESPN.”

“I think what you lack most is confidence in your own person – in who you are. When I see you on stage, you are incredibly confident. Not just anyone can get up and belt out a Julie Andrews song like that.”

“Thank you.” Kurt blushed slightly.

“So, I know it takes you a little over two hours of driving to get here.”

Kurt nodded.

“And you obviously can’t skip school every week to come.”

“Right.”

“So, could you come on Mondays and leave directly when school ends? Could you be here by 5:30? We could work from 5:30-7:00. You could be back home by 9:30. Wait, I wanted you to see Trevor. So, would you be available Sunday mornings?”

“Sure.”

“Alright, can you email me those videos you showed me and the others – the cheerleading, the ‘Vogue’ video, and if you have any video footage of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, send that too so I can show it to Trevor.”

“Sure. Just write your email address on that sheet with Trevor’s name.”

Kurt put the paper in his satchel.

“So, I have an assignment for you.”

“Alright.”

“I want you to observe the least overly masculine guy you know for the next few days. Not a gay guy. A straight guy.”

“Alright.”

“So, think through the guys you know. Think of someone who no one would pick out and assume that he’s gay, but if he were in a room full of guys he would be the least masculine of the group.”

Kurt sat and thought. “Probably Mike. He’s the best dancer in our group. He’s a little taller than me, slender, but muscular.”

“So, he walks more gracefully than the rest of the guys because he’s a dancer?”

“Yes. And he dresses less ‘macho’ or ‘frat boy wannabe’ than the rest of the guys.”

“Describe how he dresses.”

“Fitted jeans, but not skinny jeans. Shoes that are good for breakdancing. Plaid or striped button ups over t-shirts, neither one tucked in. Button up shirt left unbuttoned, sleeves rolled to mid-forearm. Not flannel.”

“So, could you achieve this look from clothes that you already own?”

“The jeans, probably not, but the rest, yes.”

“Alright, then your job is to go to Goodwill, or anywhere, and buy a pair of jeans that fit, but fit on you the way Mike’s pants fit. Wear the whole outfit when you come. Would Saturday work for you this week? I have an idea.”

“Sure. I can make anything work.”

“Alright. Meet me at this place.” He handed Kurt another piece of paper with the name of a park on it. If it’s chilly out, wear whatever you think Mike would wear as a jacket.”

“Got it. Should I bring my regular clothes with me?”

“Yes. Bring an entire outfit that you would normally go out in, including the jacket.”

“Alright. I can’t thank you enough for being willing to work with me. Is there something you need me to sign about letting you use me as research?”

“I’ll bring it Saturday.”

“So, watch Mike this week. Don’t be creepy of course, but try to sit where you can observe him.”

“Got it.”

“Now, let’s go on that tour I promised you on the phone.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

The congressional race was entering the final phase. Everyone was tense. Kurt decided to wait until after the election to tell his dad that he had rejoined the Cheerios.

Blaine had been hanging around with Rachel a lot since they had been doing the play. Blaine never wanted them to do couple-y things at school, so they didn’t – to the point where no one even noticed they had broken up. It made things easier. No drama.

Kurt spent as much time observing Mike as he could get away with. He had his whole outfit ready for his lesson.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Wednesday during Glee, everyone was pretty down in the dumps. They only had 9 people left in New Directions, which was not enough to compete. Some of the band members were willing to fill in and be placeholders, but they weren’t strong singers.

Somehow, the idea of going to and getting Sam to come back to Ohio was brought up. Kurt wished he could be the one to go with Finn to see if Sam wanted to come back, but he had already missed school on Tuesday to go to Cincinnati.

Thursday afternoon, Sam came bounding into the room with his guitar, only to be met with an insult-fest a la Snixx. Kurt was so aggravated with her, but she left afterwards. He was happy to see Sam and excited that he was going to be staying at the Hudson-Hummel residence.

After school, Kurt offered to take Sam home so that Finn could take Rachel home and spend the afternoon with her. Kurt helped Sam carry the boxes that he and Finn had dropped off in the garage up to the guest room and then gave Sam privacy to put his stuff away and went to his room to do his homework.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Glee didn’t go well Friday after school. Blaine laid into Sam about how they didn’t need to “sell themselves” to win when Sam was trying to teach them how to do body rolls. The whole confrontation turned into a blow out and Blaine left and went to the gym to box. Finn went after him.

Kurt took Sam with him after school. They stopped by the shop and got another key made for the Navigator. Kurt had asked Burt to add Sam to his policy the day before since he didn’t have his own vehicle anymore. After they got the key, Kurt let Sam take the Navigator home while he stayed to put in a few hours at the shop to work. He rode home with Burt after they closed up.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Saturday morning he headed to the park in Cincinnati to meet Matt. He got out of the Navigator. Matt motioned him over to his car. He got in.

“You look good. Did you watch Mike this week?”

“Yes.” He turned to face Matt as much as he could.

“If you had to list five differences in your behavior and his what would they be?”

“Hmm. He doesn’t sit with his legs crossed. His gesturing is larger and less frequent. He barely says anything. He slouches in chairs. And there’s this unwritten bro code thing they’ve all got going on, like fist bumps and shoulder bumps and slaps to the back and whatnot that I do not know the rules to that Mike does perfectly.”

“Good observations. So, we are going to get out and you are going to let me teach you how to skateboard down there with those other guys. You are going to do your 100% best to behave the way Mike would behave in this situation, assuming that he doesn’t know how to skateboard.”

“Got it.”

“So, no squealing. No acting like you’re going to break a nail.”

Kurt rolled his eyes.

“Just covering the bases,” he teased. “Do not go overboard and try to act like one of the brutes from your football team or one of the guys the skanks at your school hang out with. Just a straight, quiet teen guy. Get out and let’s try this.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

An hour later, the two of them got back in Matt’s car.

“So what did you learn?”

“I guess first and foremost that I am broadcasting ‘gay guy’ from my hairstyle, my clothes, and some body language. And that there’s a chance that I could pass for straight, just not the jock, man’s man, kind of straight guy.”

“That could come in time. You’re too uncomfortable with that to be able to portray that right now.”

“What do you mean?”

“I think you despise those types of men – for a variety of reasons.”

“Well, that’s true.”

“I think that you can’t allow yourself to see yourself that way because the last thing on earth you would want to be is one of them.”

“Okay.”

“Think about this. You audition for the Sound of Music and you get cast as Rolf.”

“Alright. That could work.”

“But he’s a Nazi. But the play itself is very flowery and sweet and doesn’t show the brutality of the reality of being a Nazi. Contrast that with taking a role in a movie as a Nazi who perpetrated multitudes of horrible crimes and you have to reinact some them.”

“I see. It would be a lot easier for me to play the first type of Nazi than the second.”

“So, it’s going to be easier for you to pretend to be the kind of guy that Mike is than it would be to pretend to be someone you dislike who is toxically male. The trick is though, to be a good actor, you need to be able to do both.”

“I get it. The last time I tried to pull of being more masculine, I took it too far and it wasn’t believable to the people around me. The people I have grown up around are probably never going to accept a version of me that is hyper-masculine.”

“Would you believe it if one of the brutes at your school came to school dressed in an outfit you would wear? Would you believe that he is gay or would you feel like you were being mocked?”

“Mocked for sure.” He pictured Azimio in skinny jeans and a sweater and had to keep himself from laughing.

“Okay. Next task. We’re going shopping. Don’t get too excited.”

Kurt laughed.

“Your task is to go in with me and get the sales person to offer you clothes they would offer Mike. And you absolutely cannot give off the vibe that you and I are a couple, but you can’t say anything like, ‘he’s my cousin’ or something.”

“Got it.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

“So, that was a mixed bag. You managed to pull it off in GAP, but you lost it in Express.” They were sitting in Matt’s car talking after their mall trip.

“I know.” Kurt laughed at himself. “I got too excited. We don’t have an Express in Lima and I LOVE their clothes.”

“So, what did you learn?”

“If I’m going to portray a character, don’t let myself get caught up in my own personal preferences and I have to suppress my natural emotional responses to situations and remember that I’m someone else.”

“Good. Try this exercise again yourself a few times this next week. You will probably have to go to a different mall than you normally shop at. Also, try going to a gaming store and see if you can get the sales clerk to pay attention to you. I’m imagining that if you go in to those stores, you get ignored and whoever you’re with gets the sales clerk’s attention.”

“Definitely, even though I do actually play video games. I usually just buy them at Target or online.”

“Look interested when you go in. Work hard to make the sales clerk believe you’re there to buy something.”

“Got it.”

“The idea isn’t to change who you are because you are fine just the way you are. There’s nothing wrong with being gay and liking to dress well. But if you want to walk in to a cold audition and persuade the people you’re auditioning in front of that you can be a Nazi or a police officer or a CIA agent, you can’t walk in looking delicate and feminine, which is how you said the directors at school saw you. But at the same time, those brutes you know would have to tone it down a lot to get cast as the loving father or the swell uncle.”

“I get it. I’ll work on it more. What did you find out from Trevor?”

“How early is too early for you? Could you be here at 9:00 on Sunday mornings?”

“I suppose so.”

“Alright. So, I’ll get the address and send it to you. Wear these clothes and keep your gesturing down to a minimum and talk as little as possible when you come tomorrow. All I’ve told him is that you’re a countertenor wanting voice lessons. I decided to keep the videos until after you meet.”

“So, you want me to come back tomorrow morning?”

“I know. It’s a lot of driving in one weekend. Normally it will just be one day. I’ll meet with you at 10:00 and we’ll do real acting lessons for an hour from now on. The assignments will be up to you to do on your own or some we might do together after the hour is up.”

“Alright. I’ll come back tomorrow morning.” Kurt unbuckled his seat belt.

“Be prepared to sing for him. Pick two songs - one to show off your lower range and one to show off your higher range. They don’t need to be perfect. He’s going to work to improve your skill. He just needs an idea of your range and skill level.”

“Thanks.” Kurt reached for the door handle.

“Bring your regular clothes tomorrow too. I might have another idea, but we’ll see.”

“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow at 10:00. And I’ll meet Trevor at this church at 9:00.”

Kurt got out of Matt’s car, got back into his Navigator, and headed back to Lima.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Kurt needed to tell Burt about the acting and voice lessons since he had already missed work several days. He stopped by the shop instead of heading home. Even though it was closed, Burt was there working on some things that he had let slide due to the election.

“Dad, I’m sorry I was gone again today. I just had to get this set up. I won’t be going on weekdays or Saturdays anymore – just Sunday mornings.”

“Alright. This has to do with applying for college still doesn’t it?”

“Yes. I will tell you, but you can’t tell Finn. I’m applying to some other places besides New York. I know that New York is my dream, but my dream can’t kill my future. The cost of those schools is so high that I’d have to get offered scholarships to make it even remotely reasonable. I want to go to college to learn, not to become a slave to college debt for the first 10 years I get out of school.”

“You’re a smart kid. I won’t say anything to Finn. He’s not thinking about his future at all and needs to get with it.”

“So, I’m going back tomorrow morning and from now on the lessons will be on Sunday mornings. I’ll miss Sunday lunch every week, but it will at least be when I’m not already supposed to be doing something else.”

“Alright. Let’s head home for dinner.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Sunday morning, Kurt arrived a few minutes early to meet Trevor. He was sitting in the only vehicle in the parking lot when Trevor got there. Trevor was about the same height as Kurt with wavy sandy blond, light brown hair that came down past his ears, just long enough to pull back into a pony tail. Kurt got out and grabbed his bag. Kurt followed him up to the building and Trevor let them in.

“My uncle is the associate pastor.”

“Ah.” Kurt followed Trevor to an upstairs room with a piano in it.

Trevor pulled a speaker out of his bag and sat it on the piano. “I’m assuming that you have a backing track for whatever you’re singing for me.”

“Yes.”

“Alright then. Let’s hear what you’ve got.”

Kurt sang “Defying Gravity” and “Something’s Coming”.

They talked through his strengths and some weaknesses and Trevor agreed to work with him.

“So, I need to get an idea of how much you charge before I can make a decision on how often I can afford lessons.”

“I just need you to sign a form like Matt did. I’m a graduate student too, but in the PhD program. I need people to participate in training that are willing to allow me to use recordings, anonymous of course, for my research. Finding a countertenor to work with is a rare find and good for my research.”

“I’ll definitely sign.” Kurt started to get bouncy, but remembered what Matt had said to him and kept his enthusiasm toned down. “So, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“I have a recording of someone else singing ‘Something’s Coming’. He’s actually the one that got the part. Can I play it for you and have you tell me what he did that I didn’t do?”

“Umm. Sure.”

Kurt pulled his phone out and pulled up the video of Blaine’s audition, which he had bribed Lauren to give him.

Trevor watched it. “Well, honestly I don’t see anything he did that was spectacular. He was flat in a few places. He doesn’t seem to have a vibrato. He was very confident, which was good. I wouldn’t have chosen him over you.”

“Thank you.” Kurt took his phone back and put it in his pocket. “I just wanted to be certain that I’m not being blind to something that I obviously need to change.”

“I think confidence is what you lack on the lower songs. I get the impression you haven’t sung much in your lower range.”

“That’s true. In Glee I sing second soprano mostly. We had four girls who could sing soprano and two girls who sang alto. I usually sang with the girls. Most of the guys in the group are tenors, so we don’t need any more guys unless they can sing low. We have a bass for the first time this year. We have a couple of guys that can sing baritone. The rest are tenors, including the guy in the video. One of them is chosen for lead for the guy’s part in a song, not me. But our group split recently and now we have eight guys and only three girls, two sopranos and one alto, so I’m definitely needed to sing second soprano.”

That makes sense based on the composition of your group, but as a singer you need to work on all parts of your range. I brought a book of vocal exercises. I’m assuming you know how to read music.”

“Yes. I play piano.”

“Alright. I’d like you to get this book and each week I’ll assign exercises for you from it.”

Kurt took his phone out and took a picture of the book. “I’ll get one this week.”

The rest of the hour, Trevor went through some of the exercises and had Kurt sight sing a few songs just to get a feel for his skill level.

“I’ll see you next week. I’ll email you with two pieces to work on. I needed to hear you before deciding on what to have you work on.”

“Alright. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (p)(d) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

Matt was waiting for Kurt in the parking lot. Kurt got into his car.

“We’re going to try something, but it’s kind of tricky and it might not work.”

“Alright.” Kurt put his seat belt on.

“So, we’re going to act out the same scene four times. I’ll describe it to you in a minute. The first two times, you’ll be wearing the clothes you have on. The next two times you’ll change into your other clothes.”

“Okay.”

Matt went over their scene and they headed to a coffee shop on campus that had a lot of people in it. Matt and Kurt ordered and went over to table on the far left side of the store. He found a couple of girls to participate in his scene sitting at the table next to them.

He and Kurt started on their experiment.