Covenant Title Art by GleekMom
Blaine knew that the words "get out of our house" would be among the last he ever heard from his parents. Everyone had always told him he lived a charmed life. But Blaine knew enough to know that charms didn't last forever.
He packed four jeans and five shirts, seven pairs of underwear and socks. The necklace his first boyfriend had given him, the one that had been his downfall. And his guitar. There was really nothing else he could carry as he walked out the door of the place he'd called home for 16 years.
For the rest of the school year his friends let him stay on their couches for short periods of time until their parents figured out that it wasn't just a visit or a brief fight with his folks. He told his friend Nick's parents that his father abused him, beat him. That gave him a few extra weeks, but then he overheard them calling child protective services and he grabbed his things and ran. One more stay with his friend Wes got him to the end of his junior year. But then he had no choice but to hit the streets.
It was almost funny how easy it was for a kid to get lost in New York City. Millions of people walked through Times Square every day and no one looked at the kid resting against the storefront walls, picking up quarters forgotten on the street. Everyone ignored the body curled up on top of cardboard pieces, trying to convince himself that if he fell asleep with the moon he would wake with the sun. He lived off of the McDonald's dollar menu and missed the luxury of fruits and vegetables. He watched the crowds on Broadway every night wearing their best clothes, spending their hundreds of dollars to be a part of the dream he would never achieve. His favorite time of day was 7pm, when all the actors started to arrive. He would watch them file in, hats on their heads, sunglasses covering their eyes, bags of dance clothes and makeup and goodies to add to their collections at their dressing room tables draped over their shoulders, and he imagined walking in beside them, half hour to taking the stage.
And then the crowds disappeared and he could hear the music of the revivals he knew too well and the originals he didn't know at all and he made his way down to the subway, taking up residence in the spot that was now his stage. He put down his things. He took out his guitar and laid out his case for the handouts he knew wouldn't buy him much more than that evening's subway rides and the next day's meals.
He had to be careful. He knew the transit police that were friendly and the ones to stay clear of. Busking was legal in the subways but one brush with an officer having a bad day could land him in a foster home or worse and he couldn't risk that. He'd heard enough stories. The streets were better than foster homes or juvie. At least until winter hit.
When Kurt's mother died, he would sit up late at night unable to sleep and wish for his Prince Charming to come and whisk him away from his despair. He'd been 8 years old then and he hadn't realized yet that the world didn't work that way. Ten years later he learned it all too well.
Walter had seemed nice online. A gentleman who had wooed him. He made Kurt feel better about himself. He made him feel loved in a town where there was no place to find the love that he yearned for. In New York though, he could have it all. So he barely hesitated when Walter sent him a bus ticket, and he disregarded his father's warnings as he packed his bags. He was 18. An adult. He could do whatever he wanted to do and no one could stop him. When Finn drove him to the bus station because Burt refused, he decided that once he was gone he would never go back. There was nothing for him in Lima except his father. And he loved his Dad enough to do whatever it took to not let him down.
At first things with Walter were wonderful. He was older than Kurt had thought, but that only meant that he had the means to lavish him with designer clothing and beautiful gifts. Their days were full of romance, their nights were full of passion. It should have been disconcerting how easily Kurt slipped into others joining them in the bedroom, but Walter made him think it was because he was too special to keep to himself. And then suddenly Walter started slipping out and it would just be Kurt and Walter's friends. And then Kurt realized the men weren't really friends at all. And that Kurt wasn't free.
He tried to get out but he had no idea where he would go. Walter said he was special but he also would tell him that no one else would love him after everything he'd done. And he had no other way to care for himself. Walter gave him everything. Food. Shelter. Clothing. Love. Without him he had nothing. He'd be out on the streets.
With him though, he had a black eye, two bruised ribs, and other pain that never seemed to go away. He had lies he told to his father with every phone call. He had dreams that haunted him and a Prince Charming who did nothing but abuse him.
Even in winter, the streets were starting to look better than that. So one morning while Walter was sleeping, Kurt packed a bag, grabbed a pile of money that was rightfully his anyway, and slipped away.
The snow made the city look like a soft place to fall, a beautiful metropolis where lights and colors could keep a person warm. But the safety of the snow was a delusion and survival became a fight all too quickly. Kurt spent a few weeks in abandoned buildings. He wasted away his days at the library. The cash he'd stolen gave him the illusion of survival but it ran out too quickly and he found too soon he wasn't made for a life on the street, digging through dumpsters for food. He wanted better. He deserved better. And Kurt knew how to make money. He knew what he was good at.
His first solo trick on the street was with a boy not much older than himself. His first time, he'd told Kurt, and Kurt tried to make it nice for him. He remembered what his first time had been like. The money from that first trick had lasted about a week and even though the second ended with bruises and an empty stomach, after a week's rest he was ready to try again. But his third solo trick was with an undercover cop and it ended in a jail cell instead of a motel. On the way to the courthouse a police officer with compassion in his eyes handed him a card.
"The streets aren't safe for a boy like you," he said. "This time you just ended up in jail. Next time you'll end up dead."
Kurt pocketed the card without a second glance. He was arraigned and released on his own recognizance with a court date in three months. He went back to his hideaway where the cop had left his things behind, but his bag was gone. And he quickly realized he had nothing. He had no clothes. No food. No money.
He took the card the cop had given him out of his pocket and started his walk to 41st Street. When he got there he stared up at the emblem on the tall tan building; a bird on a hand in a shelter called Covenant House.
He wasn't sure if it took more courage to stay out on the street or to go inside. But it didn't matter. He wasn't sure how much courage he had left.
Blaine had thought he could survive winter, but the snow seemed endless. Mounds of it collected in his usual haunts and the police were being extra vigilant to make sure the subways weren't littered with homeless. He was still 17, young enough to be sent to foster care if he was found by the wrong people. The adult men's shelters would be more terrifying than the cold. But word on the street was that there was one safe place to go. Safe even for a boy like him.
He pulled his coat around himself, his hat over his ears, and he stared up at the sign that said Covenant House. Walking through the door was one of the hardest things he'd ever done, but he was met with a bright smile behind the reception desk and an upside down rainbow triangle poster on the wall.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Positive Space
It made it easier to ask for help. To say, "I don't have anywhere else to go."
Asked only for his first name, he was given a bed, a shower, a razor to shave with, and a hot meal. He met with a counselor who didn't push. Blaine told him only a little bit about why he was there. He was thrown out of the house. He couch-surfed for a while. No, he didn't finish high school. Yes, he had been living on the streets. No, he hadn't seen a doctor in a while.
Yes, he said with a smile when the counselor pointed to the guitar on his shoulder that he wouldn't put down. Yes, he was a musician.
It was still early so he was given a tour of the facilities and he took in the people as they milled about. Counselors and Case Managers in offices. Resident Advisors in the lounges watching television with other kids just like him. He looked around at them all, but one in particular caught his eye. A young man, taller than him, in knee high boots laced in bright colors. His skin was pale. His chestnut hair and high cheekbones framed the most beautiful face Blaine had ever seen. A face that looked at him and smiled.
Blaine quickly looked away as his heart started to flutter. He was pretty sure that love at first sight would be a dangerous thing in a place like this.
"Who was that boy?" Kurt asked Rebecca, the resident advisor who'd brought the new kid up to the dorms earlier. Kurt had connected with a few of the staff members since he'd arrived at Covenant House three weeks earlier but he hadn't made friends with his peers yet. He was quiet, reserved, despite his somewhat flamboyant dress. He wasn't mean or angry and the others respected his boundaries. The counselors could see that there was too much spirit buried inside him to stay hidden for long. And Rebecca had noticed one thing as she'd walked around with Blaine.
The new kid was the first person that Kurt had ever smiled at since stepping through their doors.
"His name is Blaine," Rebecca said. She watched Kurt's eyes brighten at the sound of his name. She smiled. "He's a nice kid. You should go talk to him. He could probably use a friend."
Blaine's floppy curls were the first thing Kurt had noticed. They were cute but overrun. They needed trimming. Taming. Because right now they hid the most penetrating hazel eyes he'd ever seen. He'd only caught a quick glimpse before the boy had looked away, but they were burned into his memory. As was the rest of his face, as haunted as his own, but beautiful beyond belief.
"I wouldn't even know what to say," Kurt remarked.
But Rebecca just smiled at him. "Yes you do."
Kurt found him again in the cafeteria for dinner that night. Blaine was sitting with a tray full of food he was just staring at. Kurt got his own plate of salad and chicken and walked over to him.
"It's a rookie mistake," Kurt said as he sat down next to him. Blaine looked up, eyes wide with surprise. Kurt smiled gently. "First time you can get as much food as you want, but your body isn't ready for it all. You're smart to stop when you're full." Blaine nodded and looked back down at his tray without a word. "My name's Kurt."
"Blaine." His voice was almost a whisper and his eyes stayed focused on the table.
"I don't bite," Kurt said and then he felt a small flutter from deep inside his stomach, like a distant memory. It took him by surprise, and he quickly turned it around to something more familiar. "Unless you want me to that is."
Kurt was gently smirking when Blaine's gaze snapped up again. Kurt instantly realized that he'd fallen into old habits that were too far, too quick, and too hard to break. He forced his gaze to soften to something more warm and inviting. As he did, Kurt watched Blaine transform with him. Fear turned to caution. Caution to intrigue. Intrigue to just a hint of trust before his mouth twitched almost to a smile. "You're gay?"
Then Kurt did smile. He was finding it hard to stop now that he'd started. Of course Blaine made it easy. "What gave it away? The rainbow laces or the offer to bite you?" Kurt shook his head with a chuckle. "Don't worry though. I won't bite you if you're straight."
Blaine looked like he was thinking about it for a minute before he said, "And if I'm not? Straight, I mean?"
"Well then we'd have something in common," Kurt said. "I still won't bite you though, not really." He took a sip of his soda and Blaine did the same. "So are you staying or just taking a breather?" It was prying, Kurt knew. But he didn't want to get attached to someone who was just going to be gone in the morning.
"I don't know," Blaine said, his eyes drifting to the windows. "It's cold out there. It's hard to play with my fingers frozen."
"Guitar," Blaine said, glancing down at the case at his feet. Kurt noticed it for the first time. "I busk in the subway, but with all the snow the transit police are cracking down on us. And though busking isn't loitering, sleeping down there or on the trains is, and if I sleep on the street my fingers are too cold to work, so either way I'm screwed."
"You could go to a warming shelter at night," Kurt said. "Leave in the morning."
Blaine looked at him funny. "I can pass for straight on the streets, but I wouldn't risk it in a place like that. Getting my ass kicked is what got me here in the first place. And that would be getting away easy." Blaine played with his straw and took another bite of chicken. Kurt looked away, taking a bite of his own food to ignore the emotions that riled to the surface. "Can you do that here?" Blaine asked. "Leave in the morning and come back at night?"
"You mean to go busk?" Kurt asked. Blaine shrugged. "I don't know. It's sort of a job, but not really. I'd check with a counselor, but if you sign out you should be able to come back to your bed still here. "
"Cool." Blaine stood up, strapping his guitar to his back, and grabbed his tray. "I think I'm gonna head back to my room. I'm pretty tired. It was nice to meet you Kurt."
"Can I listen to you sometime?" Kurt called just as Blaine turned. Blaine turned back. "Play, I mean. I sing…I mean I used to."
"Yeah. Sure. Maybe sometime," Blaine said before going to put his tray away and head out of the cafeteria.
Kurt ate the rest of his dinner and went to his room. Closing the door behind him, he did some homework from the online course his counselor encouraged him to take, then went to bed. He hoped that tonight of all nights his nightmares wouldn't plague him.
But of course they did. The other faces were replaced by Blaine's and Kurt woke up in a sea of confusion, two worlds horribly colliding. This was why he didn't get close, why he refused to smile. Why he refused to fall in love. In his dreams everyone just treated him the same.
And why would someone as beautiful and sweet as Blaine want a buck-boy like him anyway?
The first thing Blaine realized when he woke up in the morning was that he was warm. He was warm, there was a mattress underneath his body, and a cover over it. He was warm, his bed was soft, and there was the smell of breakfast wafting underneath his door. He reached his hand down over the side of the bed. His fingertips grazed the guitar case that he'd slid beneath the frame, nearly sleeping with it for fear someone would steal it.
He didn't want to get up. In bed there were still hopes and dreams. Outside there were choices. Does he go to the clinic today? Does he meet with a counselor? Or does he just head back out onto the street where no one expects anything from him and he could just sit in the subway station and lose himself in the spell of his music? Does he trade freedom for security? He didn't see how he could possibly have both.
Either way, he needed to get up and he pulled himself out of bed, dressing in the new set of clothes they'd picked for him the night before. He grabbed the toothbrush and toothpaste, precious items that he'd been without for far too long, and with his guitar strapped on his back, he went to the bathroom he'd found last night.
"You carry that thing with you everywhere you go?"
Blaine startled but quickly recognized the voice and turned around. Kurt leaned against the wall, almost as if he'd been waiting for Blaine. He held something in his hand, a bottle of some sort. Blaine nearly smiled at him, but Kurt's eyes were different than they had been the night before. They were wary. Colder. Blaine realized he should have known better than to trust the kid and he hitched his guitar up on his shoulder protectively. "They can take everything else from me," Blaine told him. "They can't have this."
Kurt watched him a minute and Blaine stood still under his gaze. Then Kurt shoved a hand in his pocket. "There were things I used to think the same thing about. But then they did take everything. And then the only thing I truly had left was myself."
Blaine frowned. He knew what that meant on the streets. He knew without his guitar he likely could have gone the very same way. "That's a dangerous way to live."
Kurt shrugged. "At least you're still alive. Sort of." He kicked off the wall and turned to head out. Blaine couldn't help but notice the grace in his step. Or the curve of his back. "Breakfast is good here so take it easy," Kurt warned him, staring out the door. "And go to the clinic. Whether you decide to stay or not, it's best to get treated for anything while you can."
"Oh and Blaine?" He turned and tossed the bottle over to him. Blaine caught it and read the label. Hair gel. "I can cut it too, if you want. Don't over gel. Just scrunch the curls, so they don't fly all over the place."
Blaine looked after him, shocked that a near stranger would give him something that he knew cost as much as meal. He wanted to thank him, but Kurt was quickly gone and he was left alone. With a shake of his head he turned and brushed his teeth. He let the fresh tingle of the mint fill his mouth and after he rinsed, he squeezed a bit of the gel onto his hands and carefully scrunched it into his curls.
Blaine decided to stay. He went to the clinic and met with his counselor and made a treatment plan with her. He filled out an application for a SafeLink phone. With his case manager, he made an action plan. He would enroll again in school if he could and explore jobs that might give him more exposure to music or chances to play. When he was ready he would start applying to music schools. And if he someday felt he wanted to, they would all work together to try to bring his parents around.
In the warmth and the love of Covenant House, he began to miss them again. Not the parents that had thrown him out, but the ones that used to love him, care for him. The ones that had such high hopes for his future. It was both hard to forgive them and hard not to love them. For the most part he found it easiest just to forget them.
He made friends with the other kids there. Blaine was charming, easy going, and he made friends easily. But always just on the outside was the one friend he wanted more than any other. Kurt was an enigma. Warm and friendly one minute, distant and guarded the next. He felt like Kurt was always running but he didn't know if it was toward something or away from something. Blaine guessed a little bit of what he'd been through, heard rumors through the grapevine. And he imagined that if it were true it would explain Kurt's behavior. But he didn't want to assume anything. And he didn't want to admit that wanting to know Kurt was a very big part of why he'd decided to stay.
"I still haven't gotten to hear you play," Kurt said one early evening, sitting down on the couch next to Blaine in the lounge. He tapped his foot softly on the case that always sat at Blaine's feet. "You carry it around, but you never take it out."
Blaine shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I'm just not ready."
"Ready for what?" Kurt asked.
Blaine bit his bottom lip, struggling to find the right words. "My music…it's everything I have." He looked at Kurt with an apprehensive gaze. "It's also everything I am."
Kurt nodded softly, lowering his eyes with understanding. Sharing who you truly were was one of the hardest things anyone could do. But maybe… Kurt looked up cautiously. "Maybe…maybe we could sing together. Someday."
Blaine felt the flutter beneath his skin, but he knew that Kurt's warmth could flip on a dime. He pressed his lips together tight with cautious hope. "Maybe. Someday."
Blaine turned, startled. It had been months since he'd actually heard his last name spoken by anyone. No one on the street used it. The counselors hadn't used it. But now that sweet melodic voice was calling it from down the dormitory hall and Blaine stuck his shower soaked head out the bathroom door.
Blaine knew what immediately. From the other side of the hallway, Kurt was staring at him, with a grin and a pair of scissors, opening and closing them maniacally.
"No way," Blaine said, trying to keep his laughter to himself. "If you think I'm going to let you near my head with that crazy smirk on your face you have another thing coming Kurt…um…" He furrowed his brow and tripped over his words. "Kurt…"
"Hummel," Kurt offered, making his way toward him. "Like the little porcelain dolls. Which not so oddly enough is what my high school cheerleading coach turned principal used to call me. Porcelain," he clarified. "Not doll."
"No," Blaine smirked, his eyes shining. "Would never want to call you doll. But Porcelain's not right either. No way you're that fragile."
Kurt's eyes suddenly shadowed. "Maybe in high school I was," he suggested.
"You survive it in one piece?" Kurt nodded. He had, barely. Blaine smiled. "Then not fragile at all. Trust me, I know how it is for guys like us." Blaine stood silent for a moment, feeling under a microscope as Kurt watched him curiously. Finally he couldn't take it anymore. "Okay, so two questions. One, how did you know my last name was Anderson? And two, what exactly are you planning to do with those scissors?"
Kurt leaned back against the bathroom doorway, tucking his arms across his chest confidently. "One, I went out of my way to check your paperwork. Just for you name," Kurt clarified quickly when he saw Blaine momentarily blanch. "I wouldn't invade your privacy further than that, I swear. And two, I plan to shape those curls for you so they aren't making you look like Medusa's gorgeous younger brother."
Blaine's eyes widened and he stuttered for a moment. "You…you think I'm gorgeous?"
Kurt's cheek flushed pink, realizing what he said, and he tried desperately to cover. "Well, I think after my cut and style, you might have a chance at getting close." He tried to look nonchalant, but Blaine just thought he looked adorable. And the way Blaine was looking at him made Kurt's skin shiver. "Okay, let's get started then, shall we?"
Kurt got him situated, carrying in a folding chair from one of the tables in the common area outside the bathroom. Though he'd gotten dressed, Blaine still had his towel around his neck to catch the constant drips and Kurt used it to soak up the water and laid it over his shoulders to catch the hair as it fell.
"Okay, so not to sound dubious or anything," Blaine said nervously, "but have you ever done this before?"
Kurt snorted. "I went through high school with a best friend who wouldn't know what a stylist was if you put one right in front of her. And then a stepbrother who thought an $8 haircut was all he ever needed. And yet despite themselves, their hair always looked good. Because of moi. So you are just lucky I'm offering you my services..."
It was subtle. The way his voice trailed off. The shift in Kurt's face as those final words spilled from his lips. The way his hands froze and his body shuddered and his eyes dulled and distanced as he realized exactly what he was saying just a second too late. If Blaine hadn't been watching him so closely, he would have missed it. He almost wished he had. But he couldn't pretend he did and his stomach knotted at the implication.
"Thank you Kurt," he said softly and Kurt's eyes blinked back to him as if coming out of a memory. "For cutting my hair."
Every response Kurt could think of, every you're welcome or my pleasure was a trigger, so he just placed his hands on the sides of Blaine's face and turned it to face the mirror. As Kurt walked around him, taking a deep breath along the way, Blaine watched worriedly through the glass. Until Kurt caught his eye again, and Blaine saw the light in them had returned.
"We better get started," Kurt said. "We have a long way to go."
Blaine laughed. Kurt smiled. And that smile made Blaine feel ten times lighter.
He was pretty sure he'd let Kurt cut his hair until he was bald if it got that smile out of him.
"No, Dad, yes, I'm fine."
A little more than a week into his stay, Blaine was early to a counseling appointment and wandered down a part of the building he hadn't seen before. Visiting rooms, cozy with couches and coffee tables, chairs and shelves of books and toys, stood on either side of the hall, all empty except for one.
"No, I've told you, don't come to New York, it's a long trip and I keep telling you the apartment has barely enough room for me much less you. And I don't want you paying for a hotel."
Blaine recognized Kurt's voice before he saw him in one of the rooms where the door stood open. Kurt had one arm hugged to his chest. The other held a cellphone to his ear and he was staring out the windows onto the streets of Manhattan. Blaine couldn't help but hear the lies that fell from Kurt's lips.
"Yes, I promise I'll come visit soon. I'm just really busy with work and school. Maybe I can come down over spring break."
Blaine knew he shouldn't be listening, but there was something in Kurt's voice that kept him there. Something about the boy that wouldn't stop tugging at his heart. There was a sense of despair and regret that seemed to constantly fight to overshadow the beauty that Blaine had seen that first day in his smile. As time went on, more and more Blaine had found himself wanting to know everything about him, wondering if maybe Kurt would be the one person to understand him because he'd had the same troubles with his own parents, had been through some of the same things Blaine had. There was little else he could imagine that would drive a kid to the streets.
"Okay dad….Yes, I know you just worry because you love me. I love you too. Bye."
Blaine froze. His brow wrinkled in confusion, his heart clenching in the rush of an emotion he could not define and Kurt turned, seeing him standing there before Blaine could get away. He stared at Blaine, glistening blue eyes wide as if he'd been caught in a web of deceit. But then his nostrils flared with anger. "Are you spying on me?"
Blaine barely even registered the words. "If you have a dad who loves you, why would you be here?"
Kurt just shook his head and stormed towards the door. "Things aren't always that simple Blaine."
Stepping in front of him, Blaine blocked Kurt's path. "What could be more simple?" He felt the anger boil up. Heat flushed through his body and his fists clenched. Betrayal was what he felt. "You don't spend your life on the street when you have parents who love you!"
"Parent," Kurt snapped. "My mom's dead. And you don't know me. You know nothing about me. You have no right to judge me for things you couldn't possibly understand."
"Don't I?" Blaine challenged. His jaw clenched, holding back the cacophony of emotions that rushed through him. "Because I'd give anything to have even one parent who loved me and wanted me to come home."
"Because you busk on the street to survive," Kurt argued. "That's something to be proud of. But there isn't a chance I would go back to my dad and tell him what I've done this past year. He warned me not to come to NY and I did and I swore I would never go back and I sure as hell don't want him to know what a disgusting disappointment I am."
Blaine felt the breath escape his body as if he'd been punched. "You're not-"
"I am Blaine. You don't know my dad. The one thing he told me before I left was not to throw myself around like I don't matter."
Blaine felt his eyes well up with tears, though he had no idea why. "I'm sure it wasn't like that," he said softly.
"No," Kurt said, his voice hard. "Actually, it was exactly like that." Kurt's skin crawled and the all too familiar wave of nausea crept through his body. "So don't pretend that I'm something worth being loved because I'm not. Just get out of here and go play your music to your adoring crowds and stop pretending to know something you couldn't possibly understand."
The crushed look on Blaine's face before he'd walked away from Kurt didn't fade from his memory. Kurt knew he should just let it go. Getting close to people in here, getting close to people at all, was just a dangerous game. But he couldn't help but look for Blaine at dinner and when he didn't see him there or at breakfast the next morning, he knew something was wrong. He asked around but Blaine hadn't told anyone else where he had gone. After he still didn't show for lunch, he decided he had to do something. So, though he knew confidentiality would get in his way, he made his way to Rebecca's office.
He waited until she was done with the kid in her office and when she opened the door, Kurt unceremoniously accosted her.
"Can I help you?" she asked, her face quirked in a half-smile.
"Where's Blaine? I haven't seen him since yesterday afternoon." When they'd fought. When he'd told Blaine to get out of here. Words that he had known even then, if he looked inside his heart, would send a kid like Blaine right back out onto the street. But life had been easier for Kurt before Blaine came in and made him feel again. Made him hope again.
Rebecca shook her head. "I don't know where he is Kurt, but he's not here."
Kurt went to his room. Every thought in his head told him to just forget him. The things he felt for Blaine, the things he wanted, he was too messed up to make Blaine go through that. It was more selfish of him to want him to stay then to make him go. Kurt was broken. Used.
But Blaine wasn't. Blaine was gentle and real and Kurt's heart told him that he couldn't let the streets destroy that. If anyone should leave Covenant House it should be him. He grabbed his coat and his gloves. His shoes wouldn't protect him too well from the cold so he put on a few layers of socks to help protect him. Newspaper would have been better, but he hoped not to be out too long. He just had to find Blaine and bring him back.
His head tried to tell him he could be making a big mistake. Blaine had every right to make his own choices about whether or not to stay. Everyone did. He'd thought about leaving often enough, but every time he did he only needed to imagine what would happen and he would turn right back. But his heart reminded him that though the choice to run was Blaine's, he was out there because of things Kurt had said. Because Blaine had had the courage to call him out on things he didn't want to acknowledge. Because Blaine seemed to know him, even though they had just met.
Bundled up he signed out, a pledge everyone knew meant they were coming back. Kurt looked quickly at the book for Blaine's name but it wasn't there. It seemed Blaine had no plans to return.
Though Kurt knew Blaine busked in the subways, he had no idea where, so he started up 41st Street. The cold hit him as soon as he hit the streets, the winds bitter as thin snowflakes fell. His stamina had substantially diminished since the luxury of Covenant House and even though it was only 2 blocks, by the time he got to the Port Authority, he was freezing and tired. And if he was, he imagined Blaine might have been too, so he ducked inside, both for the warmth and to scan the area. Blaine wouldn't stand out in the crowd. Fresh from Covenant House, both of them could pass for weary travelers rather than homeless youth. He was doubtful Blaine would busk there, but there was heat and people and he already knew that Blaine wasn't the type to want to be alone. Kurt looked everywhere, but there was no sign of him and eventually he pulled his gloves back on and went back outside. His eyes squinting and watering against the wind and the sun, he made his way to the subway station at 42nd Street.
Auntie Anne's pretzels on one side, pizza and salads on the other, Kurt ignored the rumbling in his stomach and walked down the stairs to the subway. He looked at the map. If Blaine wasn't there he'd have to guess at where he'd go next. East towards Bryant Park? South towards Penn Station? Or did Blaine have a regular haunt that he hadn't shared with Kurt? He tried hard not to let his heart ache with the emptiness that would have been filled with the kind of closeness he never let himself have with Blaine. The kind of closeness that would have kept him from having to make guesses.
He decided Penn Station would be the most likely destination and he made his way to the track. Thankfully he had the metro card that Covenant House had provided him and he looked around as he walked, but while he saw other buskers; dancers, artists, he didn't see Blaine. Trying not to get disheartened, he leaned back against one of the green steel pillars and folded his arms.
Until he heard the chords of a song that triggered a memory.
Try to remember when life was so tender
When no one wept except the willow
Try to remember when life was so tender
When dreams were kept beside your pillow
The music and the words reached Kurt's ear before the voice. It was a song his mother had sung to him. He couldn't remember now where it was from, but he remembered it making him feel safe and warm at night. Kurt walked around the pillar, drawn to the song, expecting to see anyone but Blaine. But when he saw dark curls and a day old beard, bent over a guitar, eyes closed, case open and scattered with change and a few dollar bills, he found himself even more mesmerized.
Try to remember when life was so tender
When love was an ember about to billow
Try to remember and if you remember
Kurt had guessed that Blaine could sing but he'd never even let himself dream that Blaine was as good as he was. And Kurt had no idea what made him do it. Maybe it was his mother's voice echoing in his head. Maybe it was his own. But before he knew what he was doing he stepped closer, opened his mouth, and sang.
Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow
Blaine looked up, the angelic countertenor echoing in his ears, and when he saw that it was Kurt, his eyes opened wide. A rush of adrenaline tingled through his body. He almost faltered but he clung to the words, continuing to sing without taking his eyes off the young man who bit his lip shyly and listened.
Deep in December, it's nice to remember
Although you know the snow will follow
Deep in December, it's nice to remember
Without the hurt the heart will follow
Blaine paused, his breath stolen as they both realized the words he sang. Kurt's throat bobbed as he swallowed. Blaine wanted him to sing again, wanted to hear that beautiful voice mingle with his own. With his eyes he asked. Kurt lowered his and Blaine thought the cause was lost. But when he started again, Kurt quietly did join in, in a beautiful harmony.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
The fire of September that made you mellow
The world was gone, there was no one else surrounding them. No trains, no commuters, no annoying and unintelligible announcements over the loudspeakers. There was only Kurt and Blaine, their eyes transfixed on one another.
Deep in December our hearts should remember
Around them was a small smattering of applause and the clink of coins hitting others already in the case, but none of that mattered. Kurt's heart was beating fast at having found Blaine. And Blaine's stomach twisted with the nerves of having been found.
Kurt sat down next to him on the cold concrete ground. Blaine didn't say a word, shock still plain as day on his face. "I'm sorry," Kurt said softly, staring down at his fingers playing with the tips of his gloves. "I shouldn't have said what I did."
Blaine shook his head. "No," he admitted. "It was my fault. Your reasons…they aren't any of my business."
They were both quiet. Blaine watched him, Kurt's fingers slipping now from his gloves to the ties on his boots, but he still didn't look up. A train pulled up, drowning out anything either of them might have said to one another. They waited as the platforms emptied, everyone loading into and out of the subway cars that roared in their ears as the train rolled slowly out of the station. And then they were left with little but a deafening silence.
"My mother used to sing me that song," Kurt said, his voice as soft as the snow that fell outside. "I didn't know what it meant then. I do now." Kurt chanced a glance at Blaine's eyes, so warm with a golden glow that he just wanted to melt into them. It begged for his truth. It also terrified him and his chin trembled as it dropped to his chest. "If you were to ask me at what point I realized my body was for sale, I wouldn't even be able to tell you. If someone had told me when I was younger I would let it happen I would have laughed in their face. But it creeps in, like a virus. Until it becomes who you are."
"It's not who you are Kurt," Blaine said. He was maybe more insistent than he should have been, but he couldn't bear to have Kurt believe that. He longed to reach for Kurt's hand, but he didn't want the touch to scare him. "It may be what you did. It may be what was done to you. But it's not who you are."
Kurt finally looked up, holding his gaze, eyes dark with despair. "How do you know?"
"Because your heart remembers," Blaine said. "I saw it in your smile that very first day."
The tension in Kurt's face softened and his shoulders relaxed. "I don't know if my father would see it that way."
"Only one way to find out," Blaine said.
Kurt hung his head noncommittally. "Yeah. Maybe." His counselor had been trying to get him to believe the same. It had seemed far too frightening. With Blaine by his side though, he thought for some reason it might be easier. "It'll be getting dark outside. Come back with me to Covenant House, Blaine."
Blaine shook his head and collected the money in his case. He placed the guitar back inside and pulled his coat around him. "I think I'm gonna sleep under the stars tonight," Blaine said.
"Blaine you don't have to…" He hated the thought of Blaine alone on the street. He hated that it was his fault. "I was just upset, I didn't mean it."
Blaine smiled, soft and forgiving. "I know Kurt, it's okay. It's not like I'm an angel."
Kurt was beginning to think that statement might have been debatable. "Then let me stay with you. You'll be safer, if we're together."
Blaine looked at him with a doubtful smirk. "I think that highly depends on where we go, don't you?"
Kurt laughed. "I suppose." But together they walked back up to the streets. It was indeed dark and even colder than it had been before, but the wind had died down. "So where do you usually go?"
"Right now?" Blaine asked as he started up Broadway. "I usually pick one line of theaters. Watch the actors arrive. Pretend that one day it could be me slipping quietly behind that stage door."
"I used to pretend that too. I've actually been on a Broadway stage before you know. The Gershwin to be exact. My friend Rachel and I our junior year had glee club Nationals here and we kinda broke in and sang."
"Oh my god Kurt, that's amazing!"
"Yeah it really was. Even the guy that came to kick us out said that we were good." Kurt's face fell and he pulled his arms around himself. "Apparently it was just that she was good though, because she got into NYADA and I didn't."
"And no one told you to keep trying?" Blaine asked, his voice full of surprise. "I mean, your voice is amazing."
"No, I think the response of most people was more like told ya so. Lima loser. That's what we were called, those of us who didn't make it out. But there was nothing there for me. I knew I had to get out, whatever way I could."
"Are you glad you did?" Blaine asked softly. They had found one of Blaine's favorite spots open and clean. He laid his guitar down against the wall and sat down, the cold concrete seeping in through his clothes.
Though Kurt didn't want to think about the things that had brought him there, he had to nod. "I'm glad I'm right here, right now." He looked around and grabbed an empty box of cardboard and ripped off the top and the bottom, throwing them onto the hard concrete. Blaine grabbed one and slipped it underneath him. "Are you hungry? I have a few bucks."
Blaine wanted to say no, he didn't want Kurt spending any money on him. But his stomach growled and he nodded sheepishly. He pulled out a couple of dollars that he'd made that day and handed it over.
"Ok," Kurt said. "I'll be right back. Tonight we'll dream, and we'll sleep. But tomorrow you come back with me to Covenant House. Deal?"
Blaine managed a half-hearted smile. "On one condition."
Kurt's lips pressed flat in suspicion. "What condition?"
"You sing with me first. Tomorrow, we busk before we go back and you sing with me."
Kurt laughed and he bowed his head, before looking back over to Blaine's shining hazel eyes. "Deal."
Blaine watched him walk away, down the street to the McDonalds. It seemed almost a fantasy that Kurt was somehow a part of his life now. He felt like he'd wake up in the morning and realize it had all just been a dream. He sat back, watching the stage doors. A few people started slipping in. Crew dressed in black, riding their bikes or walking. Kurt came back with some hamburgers and fries and the luxury of a bottled water and together they watched. Blaine came to find out that Kurt actually knew the names of some of the actors, the famous ones, and they put their heads together and giggled like schoolkids without a care in the world. Before long the audience arrived, buzzing with their own excitement, and they dreamed of being among them until the crowds filed inside and the doors closed. Blaine yawned. He'd barely slept the night before, cold and alone. He'd been gone from the streets long enough to have forgotten. To have grown weak.
"I'll stay up," Kurt said, stretching his legs out. He patted his knee. "Come on. Lie down for a bit. We'll have to move once the shows let out, but if things are quiet we might be able to hear some of the music seep through the walls."
Blaine curled up, his head resting on Kurt's knee. He looked up at the sky. The moon was just a sliver and he could see a few stars trying to peek out from behind the pollution of the light. He made a wish, something he hadn't done in a very long time. He doubted it would come true. He knew better than to think that Kurt's friendship was anything but a moment in time. But after his wish he promised himself he would savor it for as long as he possibly could.
Covenant Art by Heartstringsduet
"No, Dad, you can't just come out here." Kurt's hands were shaking, his eyes darting in a panic to find Blaine as he left the lounge and went to one of the quiet rooms. Blaine caught his eye and followed. Looking up at him, Kurt switched the phone to speaker.
"I can Kurt." Kurt's father's voice was gruff and insistent, but Blaine could tell there was love in it. "You've been there too long, I haven't seen you at all, and you keep shoving me off. Something's wrong, I know it is. And if you won't tell me, I'm going see it for myself. No excuses."
Kurt looked at Blaine, fear in his eyes, not sure what to say or do. Blaine pointed to Kurt and pointed far away. Then he mimed driving. Kurt stared at him like he was crazy. He didn't have the money for a bus ticket. Blaine shrugged. What other choice did he have?
"Dad, that's crazy. Look I'll take a bus out there. I promise."
"Too late for that son. I'll be there next weekend. I'll text you my flight info and I'll meet you at the airport on Saturday."
His father hung up and Blaine had to catch the phone before it fell out Kurt's hand. And then he pulled Kurt into his arms.
The boy didn't stop him or pull away like Blaine thought he might. He just stood there and Blaine felt a shiver run through Kurt's body. "Kurt-"
"There's only one thing I can do Blaine."
"No. Kurt, let's talk to someone here," Blaine pleaded. "There has to be something other than what I think you're thinking."
"I can get an apartment for the weekend," Kurt said, stepping back. Blaine looked into his eyes. They were hardening, like he'd never seen before. "You know I can."
"Kurt, no." Blaine's heart broke in his chest.
But Kurt just shrugged. "It's not a big deal."
"It is a big deal," Blaine reached out and gathered Kurt's hands in his. "It is a big deal. To me."
"Why?" Kurt couldn't help the bitterness in his voice. "Why does it matter to you what I do?"
"Because…" I love you, Blaine thought. "Because those people will just hurt you."
Kurt shook his head with defiance. "They won't hurt me," he said.
"But they won't love you either." Blaine took a deep breath. "Kurt. Please. Don't go back out there. That isn't the answer."
Kurt's face softened and for a moment Blaine thought he might have gotten Kurt to change his mind. But just as quickly, his jaw set and his eyes hardened again. "I have no other choice," Kurt said. He turned around and walked away, back up to his dorm room to pack.
Kurt hitched his backpack onto his shoulder. He had to pass the lounge to go from the dorms to the front door. He could hear Blaine's guitar, playing for the first time inside. Kurt's resolve wavered, but what other choice did he have? He'd go back to Walter, he'd get an apartment for the weekend, and then he'd get away again. His legs though were weak and his steps down the stairs were heavy, as if the notes of Blaine's guitar pushed to keep him there while Kurt tried to leave. He slid his hand down the bannister and passed the wall that hid the lounge. If he looked now he would see him. And he knew if he saw Blaine, he wouldn't be able to walk out the door. But hearing him, his voice…that proved even harder. Because if the notes pushed him to stay, the words trapped him.
You know, the sun is in your eyes
And hurricanes and rains
And black and cloudy skies
Blaine watched Kurt pause, broken gaze trained on the bottom step. Kurt didn't meet his eyes, but Blaine didn't need Kurt to see him. He only needed Kurt to hear and to listen.
You're running up and down that hill
You turn it on and off at will
There's nothing here to thrill or bring you down
The pain, the pleading in Blaine's voice cut straight through to Kurt's heart and he couldn't ignore it. He turned his head slowly until their eyes met. Blaine sat playing on the couch against the far wall. Others sat around but he didn't play for them. Neither one of them blinked. Kurt's heart hammered in his chest. What he saw in Blaine's face was more warmth and caring than he'd seen from anyone since leaving Ohio.
And if you've got no other choice
You know you can follow my voice
Through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town
Blaine rose slowly, his fingers never leaving the strings as he strummed. He walked to the bottom of the stairway and Kurt's eyes followed him.
Oh lady, luck has led you here
And they're so twisted up
They'll twist you up, I fear
Blaine didn't know if what he was doing was right. But he didn't want to regret not trying, and he didn't want Kurt to leave without understanding how he felt. Without understanding who he was.
Kurt looked down at Blaine's pained and watery gaze. There was more to the words than just Kurt's story. It was obvious to Kurt they meant more to Blaine than that. They were Blaine's story too.
The pious, hateful and devout
You're turning tricks 'til you're turned out
The wind so cold, it burns, you're burning out and blowing round
Blaine walked slowly, carefully up the stairs, one step at a time. He'd lost track of anyone else in the room watching or listening. All that existed was Kurt and himself, the song that hung between them and Kurt's choice. To stay or go. To trust or fear. Blaine hoped with everything in his heart that Kurt would hear him.
And if you've got no other choice
You know you can follow my voice
Through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town
Face to face they stood. Two boys with the hearts of men. Two men with the hearts of boys. Abandoned. Betrayed. Alone. But they didn't have to be. Not anymore. Not if they were careful.
The fates are vicious and they're cruel
You learn too late you've used two wishes
Like a fool
Kurt had people at Covenant House who cared about him. Who saw his real self inside the person Walter and the others had forced him to become. He had Blaine, who had told him it may be what he'd done. It may be what had been done to him. But it wasn't who he was.
What could possibly be important enough to give that up for a life of hell?
And then you're someone you are not
And Junction City ain't the spot
Remember Mrs. Lot and when she turned around
Looking into Blaine's eyes, Kurt resolved he couldn't go back. Going back would destroy him. Whether he would turn to salt or stone he didn't know. He just knew he couldn't return. He didn't want to leave this behind.
He didn't want to leave Blaine behind.
Blaine believed there was another answer.
And if you've got no other choice
You know you can follow my voice
Through the dark turns and noise of this wicked little town
Blaine swung the guitar to hang across his back and, eyes pleading, he held out his hand. Kurt looked down at the ground. And then he swung his backpack off and handed it to Blaine.
"So what do I do?" he asked, his voice almost child-like.
Blaine looked at him and emotions swirled between them. He understood how hard it would be. But he knew there was only one thing Kurt could do. "You tell the truth."
Blaine closed the door behind him as Kurt sat despondently on his bed. He left the backpack on the floor leaning up against the wall, but then he hesitated. He didn't know whether to follow his instinct to go to Kurt, or keep his distance.
"I can't," Kurt said, and he looked up at Blaine. His youth and vulnerability shined uncharacteristically in his eyes. "I can't tell him the truth, he'll think I'm horrible."
"Kurt." Blaine's voice was as soft as a caress and he took a few careful steps toward his friend. "If your father loves you like you say he does, he won't think you're horrible at all. He'll feel sad for what you've been through. He'll be angry at those who hurt you." Blaine took a few more steps, then sat down next to him, just shy of their legs touching. "And he will feel pride at how you have survived."
Kurt looked away and shook his head. He wished he could believe that. "How do you know?" he asked.
Blaine smiled shyly and took a deep breath. "Because that's how I feel," he admitted. Kurt turned back, his gaze lingering, but he didn't say anything. Blaine looked down toward his fingers, clasped together so he didn't reach out for Kurt's. "There was a dance. At school. I went with another boy. After it was done we went outside. And we kissed, our hands soft and safe in one another's." Unconsciously his fingers reached up for the necklace he wore and he twisted it as he took a shuddering breath. "The next thing we felt were other hands, rough and dangerous, on our shoulders pulling us apart. Fists raining down on our bodies. Those hands touching where…" Blaine's voice trailed off as he swallowed away the wave of nausea at the memories. "When my parents found out, they told me I was a disgrace. They wouldn't listen to me, they just told me to get out. I stayed with friends and I would call them, over and over again, begging to come home. They were supposed to be these great Christians full of love and forgiveness. But instead they told me, 'This is not your home. And you are not our son.'" His eyes watered, but he had long ago stopped crying over what was.
Kurt reached out and clasped his hand. "I'm so sorry."
Blaine looked up at him. "Does your father know you're gay?" he asked. Kurt nodded. "Has he ever hurt you? Called you names?"
"No," Kurt whispered.
"Told you to get out?"
Kurt bit his lip and he shook his head. "No."
"Is your pride more important than your relationship with him?" Kurt let his head drop into his hands. Blaine reached up, holding Kurt's hands inside of his own. "Tell him the truth Kurt. He deserves that. You both do."
"And what if he hates me?" Kurt asked, terrified.
"He won't," Blaine promised. "He'll love you. And if he doesn't…" Blaine looked into his eyes, searching, but Kurt made no move to pull away, despite Blaine's hands shaking against him. "If he doesn't, I will. I mean," he lowered his gaze. "I do."
Kurt suddenly felt like he couldn't breathe. "Blaine," he whispered. He shook his head and pulled his hands away. Blaine could see him fighting his tears. "I'm not…I mean…" He looked up at Blaine. There was so much pain in his expression. So much fear. "Don't love me. Please."
Blaine didn't answer, not with words. He merely cupped Kurt's face, thumbing softly over a cheek that had no doubt felt too much pain. He looked into eyes that had seen too much hate. And he leaned in slowly.
"Blaine," Kurt whispered again but he closed his eyes and he did not pull away.
Blaine's kiss was like a gentle breeze in a world that had only ever known storms. He was careful, so careful not to push or frighten Kurt. He could feel Kurt's hand, shaking as he rested it on Blaine's thigh, and Blaine leaned back slightly. "Kurt. If you want me to stop-"
"I don't," Kurt breathed. His heart was racing. He'd thought he was damaged beyond repair. He'd thought that no one could ever possibly love him. "Just don't…" Tears pooled in his eyes. "Just please don't hurt me."
Blaine wiped the tears away and Kurt felt like his amber gaze was looking straight through him to his very soul. To the very part of him that was broken beyond belief.
"I would never hurt you," Blaine promised. "I love you."
"I'm scared." Kurt's voice trembled.
"Of me." Kurt reached his hand up, and brushed Blaine's curls from his eyes. "Of hurting you. I'm broken Blaine."
"We're all broken," Blaine told him.
Kurt though was broken more than most. He looked down and shook his head. None of this was making sense. "How can you love me? After everything I've done."
"Because you followed me. When I left. You found me."
Kurt looked up. Blaine sounded and looked so sure, but Kurt's brow furrowed in confusion. "But I'm the one that told you to get out."
"But then you found me," he said again. "And you brought me home. That's more than anyone else has ever done for me." It was more than his parents had done, no matter how many times he had pleaded.
Kurt remembered the emptiness he'd felt when Blaine had gone. The fear that he wouldn't come back. That he could be hurt alone on the streets and it would have been all his fault. "I couldn't let you go."
Blaine's lips curled up, a smile that reached his eyes and filled Kurt's heart. "That's how I can love you."
And this time when Blaine kissed him, Kurt threaded his fingers through Blaine's hair and kissed him back. Kurt felt safe and whole, like shattered pieces of his heart slowly beginning the long journey of piecing back together. It didn't come without fear. His heart still raced with it. But against his beating chest he felt Blaine's pulse in harmony and he knew it wasn't Blaine's touch he was afraid of. What he was afraid of was one day losing it.
He pulled away and he met Blaine's eyes, and in them Blaine could see the fear. "What if I go back-"
"You won't," Blaine interrupted firmly.
Kurt though couldn't say that for sure. "What if I do?"
Blaine tucked Kurt's hair behind his ear. He brushed his thumb against the softness of his cheek. He honestly believed that Kurt would never go back. But that wasn't what Kurt needed to hear. "I will be there for you," he promised. "No matter what. I will always be there."
In front of him he watched as Kurt's eyes shifted with the courage it took for him to trust. "I love you too," Kurt said. And Blaine gathered him up in his arms and pulled Kurt in, holding him close, never wanting to let go.
"You're going to be fine," Blaine said, holding Kurt's hand. He had his guitar strapped to his back. They'd taken the subway to the airport where Kurt was meeting his dad. They both knew that Kurt could have come alone. They also both knew he didn't want to.
"Stop." Blaine took him by the shoulders, gently massaging the tension in Kurt's muscles. "You're going to be fine. Whatever happens."
Kurt just nodded and he turned back to the door. He felt like entering meant walking through the point of no return.
"Kurt?" Blaine pulled back slightly and Kurt turned. He saw the shift in Blaine's face immediately. Lip bit between his teeth, forehead wrinkled. His eyes squinted, looking at him but not. "If you decide to go home-"
"I won't," Kurt said immediately.
But Blaine wouldn't let him dismiss the idea out of hand. "If you decide to go home to Ohio," Blaine said again, blinking back tears, "it's okay. Just call and let us know. So we don't worry."
"Blaine." Kurt pressed a finger to Blaine's chin and Kurt could feel it tremble in his hand as Blaine's eyes refocused. "There is nothing for me in Ohio. My life is here. In New York. With you." Blaine had no words. His only answer was the press of his kiss on Kurt's lips and when he pulled back, Kurt's eyes were shining with happiness. "I love you."
"I love you too," Blaine said. "Now go, you don't want to leave him stranded in New York."
Kurt smiled and hugged him once more, soaking up the feel of him, the strength of him, in his arms. Even if his father turned his back on him, Kurt knew now that he had someone to go home to.
Blaine watched Kurt disappear into the airport, and his hand twitched as he reached for his cell phone. His fingers shook, holding it. Dialing. He leaned against the wall as it rang and rang until it went to voicemail.
"Hi Mom. Dad. It's Blaine. I just…" His voice felt stuck in his throat and he cleared it quietly. "I just wanted to let you know that I'm okay." He looked up, through the glass of the airport as if he could still see Kurt. "I'm okay."
Kurt's fear vanished the moment he saw his dad. It was replaced by tears and they closed the gap quickly, as Kurt nearly fell into his dad's arms. His heart clenched in his chest. He'd allowed himself to forget, to tuck this so far down inside himself that he hadn't even been able to remember how much he loved his father.
"Hi." He laughed quietly and brushed the wetness from his cheeks with the back of his hand. He hadn't even noticed he'd started crying.
"Hey kid, it's okay," Burt said. "I know I've gotten uglier with you gone, but there's no need to cry about it."
Kurt laughed harder and pulled back. "Now don't go insulting Carole like that Dad, it looks like she's taken very good care of you."
"She has," he said. Burt looked him over, up and down, and Kurt knew what he was thinking. Kurt had done his best to look normal, like his old self. Dressed to the nines, clean and ironed and perfectly kept. At a quick glance he knew he faked it pretty well. But his dad was taking far more than a quick glance.
Kurt tried to distract him and grabbed his bags. "Come on, let's get you back to your hotel."
Burt gave him the look that Kurt knew all too well. The same look he gave him when the window had been smashed on his car and when he had found out Karofsky had been harassing him. The look that said he knew that Kurt was hiding something.
"Why don't we go back to your apartment," Burt suggested. He was probing, Kurt could see it in his eyes. "We can go back to the hotel after, but I'm dying to see where you've been living. And to meet Walter."
The last words were almost a question and there was no hiding Kurt's revulsion at hearing the name, no matter how quickly he tried to hide it. Burt's brows raised. Kurt looked away and started walking. "Walter and I aren't together," he said quietly.
Burt frowned, following. "How long has that been?"
"Couple months," Kurt mumbled.
"Then where have you been living?" Burt asked. Kurt had never given his dad a forwarding address. He hadn't had one to give him.
Kurt stopped and his eyes were pleading. "Let's go back to the hotel. You can freshen up after your trip." Burt still looked at him doubtfully. "I'll explain there. I promise."
Burt searched his eyes and finally nodded. "Okay. Lead the way."
Kurt had helped his dad unpack and insisted on ordering room service for lunch so they had privacy, and he'd even taken the time to put his father's outfits together for the time he was staying. Every time Burt had tried to pull something out of him, Kurt asked about Carole or Finn or the shop. But once the food came and they sat down on the hotel couch, Burt refused to allow him to deflect anymore.
"Okay kid," Burt said. "Spill."
Kurt quickly lost his appetite as the room grew hot and he stood up and leaned against the cold window. 20 stories up, all of New York was below them and he tried to find in the ant-size crowd a kid like he was, lost and alone. He knew they were out there. There were dozens who hadn't yet found what he had found. And he tried to imagine each one of them telling their story to the people they loved. But it didn't help him find his words.
"Walter…" Kurt paused. Just saying his name now made him feel sick to his stomach. "He wasn't what he seemed." Kurt turned back to his dad. Burt was waiting for more and images ran through Kurt's mind. Nights filled with hurt and pain and sex and tears and his brain scrambled, trying to figure out the words for those things because a part of him knew that there must be ones that existed but the part of his brain that was controlling his speech had absolutely no recollection of words in any dictionary that described everything he'd been through. His heart tugged at his mind and he suddenly was pretty sure that if Blaine was there the words would come but he couldn't, not with his father. "So I left," was all he could manage.
Burt saw it all as Kurt's hands flinched and his eyes went flat and distant. He saw Kurt swallow and lick his lips and reach for whatever memories were playing in his mind. He was reminded of the times Kurt had hidden things he thought Burt would be ashamed of. When he'd broken his mother's tea set. Coming out. Karofsky. And he wanted to think that what Kurt was hiding now couldn't possibly be worse than the others, but the knot in his stomach told him otherwise. It also told him to give Kurt time. "Where did you go?"
The question startled Kurt back from the dark recesses of his mind and his eyes flashed as they rested back on his dad's. "I…" The room shifted. He felt the pavement beneath his feet. He felt the brick wall press into his back. He tasted the last thing he'd eaten from a dumpster before he'd decided that he'd make money whatever way he had to rather than do that again. He was so close to making something up but then he heard Blaine's voice. You tell the truth. His eyes blinked back to reality and he realized his gaze was resting on the carpet in front of his feet. "I stayed on the street. For a few weeks. Then I learned about a place." He looked up at his dad. Burt's face was tempered and Kurt had no idea what that meant. "It's a shelter. Called Covenant House."
"Kurt," Burt said softly. He'd let his food go a long time ago and he just sat back on the couch, taking in his son as if he were seeing him brand new again. "Why didn't you tell me? You could have come home."
Kurt shook his head. "I couldn't…" He couldn't tell his father that he'd spent six months being groomed and forced to turn tricks. "I didn't…" He didn't want his dad to ever know that about him. He didn't have the words to tell him, but he looked up and met Burt's eyes with a fierce determination. "I'm not going back to Ohio."
Burt nodded slowly, and whether his thought process was calculating or merely respectful, Kurt was grateful for it either way. "And this shelter? It's safe?"
"It's a good place," Kurt said. "The staff there, they're really nice and supportive. They're helping me apply for college and get a job. I'm in counseling. And…and I met someone."
"A someone like a homeless kid?"
Kurt knew he could get upset at the implication of his father's tone, but his dad was trying. He could give him this one slip-up. "His parents kicked him out of his house after they found out he was gay. He spent a lot longer than me on the streets. He came to Covenant House a couple of weeks after me."
"And how did he survive on the streets?"
"He busked," Kurt said, and his own cheeks reddened knowing how his father would feel about Blaine if he'd done what Kurt had done. Dirty. Not good enough. He knew his father was just looking out for him, but it didn't make it any easier. "Guitar. In the subway. He's really good. Wants to be on Broadway someday and I think he could."
"You always said that you could. You and Rachel," Burt reminded him.
Kurt shrugged. "Maybe we still can."
Burt bit his lip. After everything he'd been through, and Burt knew he didn't even know the half of it, Kurt still hadn't given up on his dreams. He had to know the people who were giving him that gift. Kurt had never truly let Burt protect him before, but like every time before, now that he knew what he'd been through, he was going to make sure his kid was safe. "You're gonna take me to this Covenant House," Burt said. He stood up and he walked to the closet, grabbing his coat. "And you're gonna introduce me to this kid."
"Blaine," Kurt said. "His name is Blaine."
"You're gonna introduce me to this Blaine. And then you and I are going to go out to dinner and have a very long talk."
"Can Blaine come too?" The words slipped before Kurt had even thought. But the idea of telling his dad any more without Blaine by his side felt more frightening than he could handle.
Burt considered the request. "He's that important to you?"
"Yeah," Kurt whispered. He didn't know when he'd realized it was true, but he knew it was.
"Alright," Burt said. "Let me meet him first. Then we'll decide. Okay?"
Kurt nodded. He was running out of choices. "Okay."
Walking up to the large brick building with his dad was like walking up to the shelter for the first time all over again. Since that day he'd never been frightened to place his hand on the door and open it, but now, the weakness in his knees was back. What if his father hated it? What if he hated Blaine? What if he was disgusted by all of it and he did everything he could to force Kurt to come home? Or worse, what if he was so disgusted that he left and chose to leave Kurt behind forever?
But as he turned the handle and they walked inside, he tucked away all of his fears into the back of his mind and plastered a smile on his face for his friend at the front desk. "Hi Rebecca," he said, keeping his voice steady. "This is my dad. Dad, this is one of the RA's, Rebecca."
"It's nice to meet you," Burt said, shaking her hand.
"You too Mr. Hummel." Rebecca smiled her welcoming smile that made everyone feel at home. "Kurt's a great kid."
Kurt blushed slightly at the compliment. "I want to take him inside to see where I'm staying," he said. "If that's okay."
"I'll just need to see your ID Mr. Hummel, and for you to sign in here." She pushed forward the visitor's log and he signed his name. "I'll have to escort you up to the dorms if you want to show him your room Kurt, but you guys are free to hang out in the lounge or I can set you up in a visiting room."
"That would be great," Kurt said as Rebecca photocopied Burt's license and handed it back. "Thanks. Is Blaine back from busking yet?"
"Sure is," she smiled. She called for another RA to cover the front desk and then she walked with them inside.
Kurt told Burt all about the shelter as they toured, pointing out little things that had somehow come to mean something to him. Something like home. "I'm working towards being able to move up to Rights of Passage," he said as they rode the elevator up to the 5th floor. "That would mean my own apartment. I'd need a job and I'd have to give most of my paycheck to the staff for them to put in a bank account for me, but it would be to save up for my own place." Kurt led his dad down the hallway to a room halfway down and took out his keys. "This is me," he said. He took a moment before opening the door. Suddenly, he was ashamed of it. Living in basically a closet when he'd sworn to everyone in Ohio how big he was going to make it in New York. But Blaine would tell him not to be ashamed. Blaine would tell him to be proud of how far he'd come.
He opened the door and moved to the side. "I know it's small," Kurt almost apologized.
Kurt remembered how thankful he had been for the room that first day. It was warm, safe. He could have put out his things, if he'd still had anything that belonged to him. But he didn't, and he looked up at his father, biting at his lips.
"It's good," Burt said with a nod of decisiveness. He wrapped his arm around Kurt and gave his shoulder a squeeze. "Not much different than a dorm room would be. Nothing wrong with starting small. Your mother and I started small."
Kurt found himself smiling softly. And he felt like one half of the weight holding him down was lifted. Now the other half made him feel incredibly unbalanced. "Is it okay if I ask Blaine to meet us downstairs?"
Burt pursed his lips. But he put aside whatever feelings he was holding inside and nodded. "Yeah, sure."
Pulling out his phone, Kurt sent off a quick text. He closed the door, locking it behind them, and went back downstairs.
"Do you guys want to just meet in the day room or do you want a visiting room?"
"I think we're probably better off with a visiting room," Kurt told Rebecca. He was pretty sure the three of them would need the privacy.
"Okay, I'll get you guys set up in room 4." They followed her down the corridors to the room where Blaine had first overheard him talking to his dad on the phone. It almost seemed fitting that they meet there.
"Dad, please just…be nice," Kurt said as he waited for Blaine to arrive. He sat down in a bulky red armchair.
Burt sat across from him on the matching loveseat and looked at his son innocently. "What? You think I'm not nice to your friends?"
"Boyfriend, Dad," Kurt said, the word still sounding strange on his tongue. He could only imagine how it sounded to Burt's ear. "Blaine is my boyfriend."
"Well I love hearing that."
Kurt and Burt both turned to see who Burt could only imagine to be Blaine, standing in the doorway.
Hair curled to perfection, dressed in the finest clothing he had, Kurt knew how much of an effort Blaine had made. He was trying to appear confident, his performance face on, but Kurt could see the small tremble in Blaine's fingers and feel it on his lips when Blaine walked over and kissed him gently on the cheek. "Hey," he whispered to Kurt before holding a hand out respectfully to Kurt's dad. "Hello, sir," he said, making good eye contact. Burt hesitated only a second before shaking Blaine's hand. "It's very nice to meet you."
"You too," Burt said and he cleared his throat. Blaine's eyes flitted around the room before he decided to sit on the arm of Kurt's chair. In an instant, Kurt's hand was around his waist, giving him a reassuring squeeze.
Burt looked at them. Blaine wasn't at all what he had imagined, a tattooed, hardened street kid constantly ready for a fight. Instead, Blaine looked like a prep school boy stepping out of a J. Crew ad. A little worn around the edges with his second hand clothes, but Burt had grown up on garage sales and hand me downs. He knew that clothes didn't make the man.
"So Kurt tells me you play guitar in the subway," Burt started. The air in the room didn't lighten, but at least they were talking.
Blaine shuffled on the seat. "Yes sir." He'd done everything he could to make himself presentable. He wanted Kurt's father to like him. He was the first boyfriend to ever be introduced to Mr. Hummel, and if for nothing but Kurt's sake, he wanted it to go well. "I sing too. Mostly show tunes and stuff. But I do some 80's and 60's. I love playing anything really," he laughed.
The kid's face blushed red, and he had a nice smile. It was a smile that hadn't been diminished by the hand life had dealt him. And Burt didn't miss that Kurt's eyes sparkled when he looked at the boy. A sparkle he hadn't seen since before his mother died.
"He's really good, Dad," Kurt said. "You should hear him."
"Yeah," Burt said. The awkwardness in the room threatened to build again and Burt leaned forward. "Look, Kurt, you and I really need to talk."
"Oh," Blaine said, getting up apologetically. Kurt may have wanted him there, but his dad surely didn't, and it was understandable. Some things needed to be said in private. "I should just go then."
But Kurt grasped his hand, pulling him back. "No." His crystal blue eyes flashed to Blaine's, a hint of panic in them, before they turned back. "Dad, when you told me you were coming, my first instinct was to run. To go back to…" Kurt hesitated and Blaine gave him a reassuring squeeze. "To a proper apartment…to pretend…"
Burt looked away. It was too hard to face the things that Kurt had been through, to even think about them.
Kurt looked to Blaine, his eyes filling with love. "I was ashamed for you to know the truth Dad. But I was going to go back to it just to lie to you. Sell my pride to them, so I could keep it with you." Kurt shook his head. It made so much sense and yet none at all, but he hadn't truly realized it until he'd said it out loud. "I didn't though." He looked back at his dad. Burt was watching him, and Kurt could see the emotion he was trying to hold back. "Blaine stopped me. He told me to tell you the truth. He told me that I was lucky to have a father who loves me and…" His eyes filled with tears and like a small child, he wiped them away on his sleeve. "I'm just so afraid of losing that."
"You'll never lose that Kurt, I swear."
The tears in his father's eyes, the hitch in his voice, Kurt suddenly believed him and everything came pouring out. "The truth is I don't even know how it happened. One minute I thought he loved me and the next…" Blaine squeezed his hand and wrapped an arm around him. Kurt looked to the floor, his chest clenching, but he was afraid that if he didn't get the words out then he maybe never would. "The next I'm being sold, turning tricks just so he would take care of me." Blaine stroked his thumb against his body and pressed his lips to Kurt's head, just so Kurt could feel his touch, know he was there. "I'm so sorry, Dad," Kurt cried.
Burt was up in an instant and he pulled Kurt up to his feet, holding his hands between them. "You don't ever have to be sorry," he said, his heart broken, but he had to hold it together for Kurt. "You did nothing wrong."
Kurt scoffed. "I did a lot wrong," he almost laughed.
Burt reached up and cupped Kurt's face until his eyes turned back to his. "You did nothing wrong," he said again. "And you did nothing to deserve how those people hurt you." Tears streamed down Kurt's face and Burt pulled him into his arms. "You are my brave, brave boy," he said, stroking Kurt's hair as he cried.
Blaine remained on the arm of the chair, watching them for a long time. For just a moment, he let himself dream that his own father would hold him like that, whisper in his ear, tell him it was all going to be okay. But then a slow smile spread across his lips. Because Kurt had that, and that was enough.
Blaine found every day at his new high school both invigorating and exhausting. He'd missed the first half of the year, but luckily the school was being flexible with him. Since senior year was typically filled with electives, he was able to double his academic course load to make up for it. He had Government, Economics, gym every day, and English with a study hall for makeup work. Once his transcript finally was transferred, his anticipated requirements to graduate decreased substantially and he was able to fit a music class in as well. Because his education prior to being kicked out had been far more rigorous than the school he was in now, he'd already taken all of his necessary exams. All he had to do was finish up his credits and he'd graduate, probably with honors.
Still, knowing that didn't stop the huge sigh of relief that occurred every day the moment Blaine stepped out of the building and headed back to Covenant House. But on one March afternoon, that sigh was accompanied by a giant smile aimed directly at Kurt, waiting for him, grinning back and bouncing so happily that he nearly floated off the ground.
"Well, aren't you a pleasant surprise?" Blaine said, kissing his boyfriend quickly on the lips. They took hands and started walking. "Aren't you supposed to be at work?"
"I had to take the day off," Kurt said, his face twisting with a secret he was bursting to tell. "I know I probably should have told you a few days ago, but I wanted it to be a surprise."
"You wanted what to be a surprise?" Blaine was intrigued, his heart beating quickly with the mystery of it. "Come on Kurt, just tell me!"
"Nope," Kurt teased. They continued their walk back toward the shelter, but then Kurt tugged Blaine's arm, making a detour, two blocks away.
"Where are we going?" Blaine asked.
Kurt said nothing until they came upon a small apartment building, with a tiny bronze placard on the door.
Rights of Passage
Kurt pulled out a key and opened the door.
"Oh my god," Blaine gasped, his eyes wide, covering his mouth with surprise. "You got your apartment! Why didn't you tell me?"
Kurt shrugged, face reddening a bit with sheepishness. "I guess I was worried I'd jinx it. Or that you'd be mad I was moving out of the shelter."
"Mad?" Blaine gathered Kurt in his arms and held him tight. "How could I be mad? I am so proud of you!" Kurt couldn't help the grin that painted his face and he wiped away a little tear. "Well come on," Blaine said excitedly. "Show me your apartment."
"I share it with one other roommate," Kurt explained as they walked up to the second floor. "He's 20 and in college-"
"And straight?" Blaine asked with as little jealousy as he could muster.
Kurt just threw him a look of amused reassurance. "And straight. And not homophobic. He's been here about six months, so he can help me get situated and learn the ropes. I have a lot I have to do with 30 hours of work and life skills and counseling appointments and community service, but-"
"But it's so worth it," Blaine finished for him. "Did you tell your dad?"
Kurt nodded. "He was very happy for me. He'll take the trip back out here as soon as he can get away to see the new place." He changed keys on his chain and he opened the door to the fully furnished apartment. It wasn't huge. Kurt and his roommate would share a kitchen and a bathroom and a small living room. But they each had their own rooms and Kurt led Blaine to his. "I only just moved in this morning, so it doesn't have any special stuff up yet. I thought maybe we could do it together?"
Blaine raised a brow as he closed the door behind him. "We could do a lot of things together," he said, reaching out to take Kurt's hand. He swung his hips suggestively and pulled Kurt in. Kurt merely watched him, entertained, and Blaine let his hands rest on Kurt's hips. "I could kiss you," he said.
Kurt bit his lip as his cheeks flushed, but there was no doubt in his mind. "I would like that," he said, voice low.
Blaine didn't need to be told twice. He leaned in, softly pulling Kurt toward him, and he closed his glistening eyes. Their lips met as one, Kurt's arms draping over Blaine's shoulders. Trembling slightly, Blaine reached one hand up to Kurt's cheek, and slid the other down. Kurt shuddered in Blaine's grasp, but he did not move away. They both deepened the kiss together, wanting, needing each other, needing this closeness before they once again returned to living separate lives after weeks of seeing each other every morning for breakfast and every evening for dinner. Blaine's heart ached with how much he would miss Kurt. Kurt's skipped with the fear of being without him. And yet they both knew there was nothing more right than this.
Kurt was the first to pull back, pressing his forehead against Blaine's. "Have you ever…?"
Blaine's curls tickled Kurt's skin as he shook his head. "Not really," he admitted softly. "My boyfriend before, we experimented a little but…"
Kurt pressed his lips to Blaine's forehead and smiled softly. "There's no rush. We have all the time in the world."
"I love you," Blaine said, resting his head on Kurt's shoulder.
Kurt held him close. "I love you too."
"Kurt!" Blaine rushed in the door of the coffee shop where Kurt worked, the bell ringing behind him. He passed the line and flew up to the counter to where Kurt was preparing drinks. "Kurt!"
Kurt turned, startled by his boyfriend screaming for him. "Jesus Blaine, where's the fire?" he asked. Blaine was flush and it looked like he'd run the entire way there. "Is something wrong? You're gonna get me fired."
"Mike says that some of the Broadway folks are going to work with us at Covenant House before the Sleep Out," Blaine said, out of breath. Blaine felt like the staff had been planning for the annual fundraiser for months. He and Kurt had been excited about it since they heard how much the Broadway community supported the house, but this would be above and beyond anything they expected.
Kurt's eyes opened wide at the news. "What do you mean?" He heard a throat clear behind him and he quickly went back to the coffee orders, but he kept an eye on Blaine.
"You heard me," Blaine grinned. "A couple of the actors and producers are going to do a workshop with us. He said they'll bring all the material, but we're allowed to present our own as well."
"Oh my god," Kurt said, his hands suddenly shaking. He carefully capped the lattes he was working on and handed them off to the cashier. Then he started on the next order. "So we could actually perform for real producers? Learn from real actors?" He was already thinking of what they might do.
"This is huge Kurt," Blaine said, just as excited. "They could help us get scholarships for the NYU Summer Study in Musical Theatre, or at least write letters of recommendation."
"They could get us jobs," Kurt said. "Goodbye coffee shop and playing piano at restaurants. They could help us get real auditions Blaine."
"No more sleeping outside of theaters Kurt," Blaine beamed. "We could be working in them!"
Kurt felt a nudge on his arm that jolted him back to reality. His scowling coworker had his hand out, waiting for a macchiato. Kurt finished it quickly and handed it over. "I need to go back to work," Kurt whispered to Blaine. "But we should start rehearsing tonight. It has to be perfect."
Blaine blew him a kiss and headed out the door back to Covenant House. The staff there didn't just keep dreams alive. They helped make them come true.
"Alright let's give everyone a round of applause!"
Kurt and Blaine and all the kids at Covenant House stood up and applauded the actors and producers who had come to work with them. It had been an incredible few hours for all of them, but especially for the few who had dreams of standing with them one day.
Michael, the Lead Clinician, a large African-American man with a gruff voice and a heart of gold, shook the hand of each of the professionals that had come out that day. "We wanted to thank you for everything you've done for Covenant House, and we asked if any of our residents wanted to perform for you today. There was no surprise when Kurt and Blaine raised their hands. Gentlemen?"
Nervously, Kurt made his way up to the area they'd cleared for a stage. Two stools sat left and right, the center clear. Kurt took the stool on the left and Blaine sat on the right, guitar in hand. The guests sat down, eager smiles on their faces, to watch what the boys could do.
"So, um hi," Kurt started and he cleared his nervous throat and gave a small smile. "My name is Kurt Hummel and this is Blaine Anderson. Blaine and I had a bunch of songs we ran through, trying to get our thank you to you exactly right," he nodded at the Broadway folks, "for coming and teaching us, and for the staff here for, well, everything. But in the end, we thought the best thank you was just singing from our heart. Covenant House changed us from our very first days here. Because they made us feel safe. And because of that it helped us change each other."
"Trusting was hard enough," Blaine continued
"But loving…that was something that neither one of us really ever thought we'd find. But once we knew we were safe, we could open our hearts. To you, to each other and to our dreams. So we thought we'd just share our journey."
Kurt gave Blaine one brief smile before he looked down as Blaine started playing his guitar. Blaine looked up at Kurt as he sang, watching the way Kurt's lashes fell. The way his lips pursed, listening to Blaine's words, knowing what they meant, knowing how true to his heart they were.
I don't know how to love him,
What to do, how to move him.
I've been changed, yes, really changed.
In these past few days when I've seen myself
I seem like someone else.
Blaine looked away, down to his guitar. And Kurt looked over to him, the words he sang solo like a memory. Sharing the secrets of how he had felt that very first meal with Blaine, watching him walk away. Remembering what it was like to climb the stairs that night to his room, wanting so much. Understanding nothing. Fearing everything.
I don't know how to take this
I don't see why he moves me.
He's a man, he's just a man.
And I've had so many men before
In very many ways:
He's just one more
Blaine and Kurt looked toward one another but as if they were looking through the other, and together they alternated their voices, one phrase and then the next. It had been terrifying for both of them. Trusting. Letting each other in. Giving in to the love they felt. And anywhere else they never would have been able to do it. But Covenant House had let them in, had allowed them to trust, had showed them how to let their feelings out – it had scared them both. But it had been so worth it.
Should I bring him down?
Should I scream and shout?
Should I speak of love
Let my feelings out?
I never thought I'd come to this - what's it all about?
And because they had tried, because they had faith in love, they could look at each other now as they did. Admit their fears to one another. Tell each other their hopes and their dreams and their desires.
Yet, if he said he loved me
I'd be lost, I'd be frightened.
I couldn't cope, just couldn't cope.
I'd turn my head, I'd back away,
I wouldn't want to know –
They smiled at one another, grateful that they had learned how to let love in. Covenant House had taught them that.
He scares me so.
I want him so.
I love him so.
The room erupted in applause and Blaine and Kurt's cheeks both flushed with prideful embarrassment. They got up and took playful bows, then gave each other a small, quick kiss on the lips. Blaine put his guitar back in his case as everyone started to mingle.
"You two have real talent."
Blaine looked up and found himself staring at one of the producers who had talked to them a bit about the ins and outs of the business. "Thank you," he said with a nervous laugh. He wiped his now sweating palms on his pants, then realized how stupid that must have looked and blushed some more. "It's just…it's just an honor for you to come and help Covenant House. And to meet with us. You don't know how many nights I slept outside the theaters on Broadway, watching everyone go in and out of Stage Door."
The producer smiled and reached into his pocket and pulled out two cards. He held them out for Blaine. "Well, maybe you won't be watching from the street for too much longer," he said. Blaine took the cards. They had a location and a date on them. "We're having open calls for our new Broadway musical next week. You and Kurt should come out."
"Really?" Blaine yelled accidentally. He covered his mouth but it drew Kurt's attention, who quickly joined his boyfriend. "I mean, are you sure?" Blaine looked over at Kurt and took his hand, mostly to keep himself from shaking. "Kurt and I don't really have much training…"
"What you lack in training you make up for in raw talent. Both of you," the producer said, looking at Kurt. "Open calls are for everyone and sometimes we're amazed by the talent we find. I think the team will be amazed by both of you."
Kurt took one of the cards from Blaine's hand, looked at it, then looked back at the producer. "Is this for real?" he said.
The producer smiled. "Very real boys. I hope I'll see you next week."
Blaine and Kurt stared, dumbfounded, as the man walked off. And slowly they looked at each other. "I just acted like the biggest idiot Kurt," Blaine said.
"I don't think I did much better," Kurt laughed. "But he didn't take the card back. That's a good sign."
"A real Broadway open call," Blaine said, eyes wide with wonder. "And we were invited."
They felt the hands on their shoulders before they looked behind them to see Michael. "Just heard the good news boys," he said with a wide-toothed grin. "You both deserve it."
"Will you come with us?" Kurt asked, nerves rattling.
Michael squeezed them both. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."
Kurt slipped into the tiny dark room filled with nothing but a keyboard, a folding chair, and a clip light they'd taken from the junk pile of the last theater where they'd worked. Their apartment couldn't really be called a two bedroom, the tiny corner more of a bonus closet than a room. But Blaine had made it his own and whenever he was home, there was usually music emanating from it.
"What are you working on?" Kurt asked, reaching out to massage Blaine's shoulders.
Blaine stopped everything and moaned into his touch. "Nothing now," he sighed, closing his eyes. "God that feels so good."
"I'm glad," Kurt said, planting a small kiss on his head. "How was rehearsal today?"
"Long," Blaine said. "How was your show tonight?"
"Good," Kurt said. "The audience was tired I think, but we pulled through. One more week. Then it's your turn for nights."
"Sometimes I think we're never going to see each other," Blaine teased. He turned and looked up at his fiancé. Kurt looked tired. But happy. There was nothing better than seeing him happy. "But I guess this is paying our dues, right?"
"It definitely is," Kurt said, sitting in Blaine's lap. He grabbed the sheets off the music stand and looked at them. He looked up at Blaine with a curious smile.
Blaine blushed and gave a small shrug. "Just some new music I'm working on."
Kurt looked at it and read. "Faith and trust were stolen, but your kindness brought them back. A smile, a hug, an open door. Let my guard down just a crack. Now I can see that maybe my dreams are not so lost. That the things I've done, and where I've been, didn't have so high a cost."
"It's just a first draft," Blaine said dismissively.
"It's beautiful," Kurt told him. "Will you play it for me?"
"Only if you sing it," Blaine said.
Kurt stood up, by his side, as Blaine played the haunting music once through. Then he added the sweet timber of his countertenor voice, and together they built the first version of the song that would change their lives.
"What's it called?" Kurt asked.
Blaine smiled up at him. "It's called Covenant."
Kurt truly was one of those people for whom being nominated for a Tony Award was enough. Late at night in the darkened bedrooms of his darkest years, he'd pretty much given up hope of ever even getting on the stage much less Broadway. Awards were just the icing on the cake.
"Come on," Blaine said, grasping his husband's hand as they stepped out of the black sedan and onto the red carpet. "Interview or no interview?"
Kurt couldn't wipe the grin, or the wonder, off his face. "I'm pretty sure I'd only make a complete fool of myself in an interview, so we better just go inside. Besides, I might accidentally have a few words about the fact that you weren't nominated."
Blaine shook his head. "Everyone just understands that you are what made the music beautiful. Not me. So remember that when you win."
Kurt scoffed and headed in. "First of all, you're wrong. Second of all, there is no chance I will win. And third of all, if you managed to doctor the envelope to make it so I did win, I am pretty sure you'll have to drag me off the floor after I faint."
Blaine turned Kurt to him, looking straight into his eyes. "You are going to win, and I have no doubt that when you win, you're going to make the most beautiful speech ever heard at any award ceremony."
Tears welled in Kurt's eyes, but he quickly brushed them away. "Don't you dare make my eyes red before we even get in there Mr. Anderson!"
"And the nominees for Best Lead Actor in a Musical are…"
Kurt couldn't listen. It wasn't that he wasn't trying, it was just that his ears were ringing and his hand was gripped so hard by his husband that he was concentrated on the pain. His father and Carole were somewhere up in the balcony cheering him on. He'd tried not to let them get their hopes up. No matter what Blaine said, the other nominees had years of experience. And then there he was, a nobody who had somehow snuck his way onto a Broadway stage, just like he had only a few years ago in high school.
"And the winner is….Kurt Hummel, for Covenant!"
It was Blaine shaking him that woke him up but part of him must have heard because his hand flew to his wide open mouth. His hands were trembling, his eyes were watering and he wasn't even sure how he made it to the stage without falling down.
"Oh my god," he breathed at the microphone, the statue now heavy in his hand. "I can't even believe…"
He looked at Blaine who smiled, wiped away his tears, and took a deep, encouraging breath. Kurt breathed with him.
"I have so many people to thank…" he started, rattling off the names of cast and crew he could remember until his mind went blank of everyone but one person. The most important person. "And of course I need to thank my beautiful husband. Blaine, I love you so much. You wrote the music for this amazing production and this award belongs to you as much as it does me." Kurt couldn't cry, not yet. "Five years ago, three weeks apart, Blaine and I both stood at the steps of a place called Covenant House, deciding whether or not to walk inside. If either of us had chosen differently, this musical never would have existed, and I most certainly wouldn't be standing here. Covenant House saved our lives. The staff and those of you in this room that came four years ago to listen to two broken boys sing, and to sleep on the streets to raise money for us and all the kids like us, you showed us the way to make our dreams come true. We owe everything to you."
The room broke out in applause and Kurt could see Blaine wiping away a tear.
"The next Broadway Sleepout is in two months. Blaine and I will be there and we hope we see as many of you there as we see here tonight." He held up the Tony Award and looked over the crowd. "You may just help another kid get one of these."
"Okay, do it again one more time, only this time I want you to…" Blaine leaned over and whispered to the kid, new to Covenant House he was told but with big dreams of performing. Just like him.
Kurt watched as the boy nodded at whatever Blaine had told him and then redid the monologue with more power and emotion than Kurt could have ever believed. At the end everyone was crying. Everyone but Blaine who was grinning wide and fist bumped the kid with pride. "That was brilliant man," Blaine said, and the kid blushed, but Blaine threw an arm around his shoulder. "I hope you'll come to my studio. You'd be a great addition to my scene study class."
"Sure Mr. Anderson," he said and the kid sat down.
"Alright everyone, gather around," Kurt said. The Broadway Sleepout that year was the largest yet, but he and Blaine and three of their producer friends had done what once was done for them. Opened up their new world to the kids still living in this one.
Kurt sat on a stool next to Blaine, the others sprawled out on couches and chairs, sitting at tables. "Blaine and I, Josh, Shoshana and Jane, we all want to thank you so much for putting your hearts and your courage out here with us today. We know better than anyone how hard it can be, the amount of trust it requires, and we are just so honored that you would give us that trust."
The lead counselor Gregory stood up. "Let's give our stars a round of applause." The residents did, smiles huge, and the ones returned were just as big. Kurt and Blaine never could have imagined they could give back like this, but they were so grateful that they could.
Blaine stood up, brushing his hands on his pants. "Five years ago, Kurt and I sat exactly where you sit," he said, pointing to the center of the couch. "Well I did. Kurt walked down those stairs, determined to leave. But because of love, he chose to stay. As I'm sure you all know, Covenant House was born out of the words of Ezekiel 16:8: I bound myself by oath. I made a covenant and you became mine. Now Kurt's not religious, but we still spoke those words to one another on our wedding day. Because on that day, we bound ourselves together. You all know what they say here," Blaine smiled, an in-joke kind of smile that the kids and Kurt and Blaine shared. "They say, I will put my faith in you, I will put my trust in you, and I will commit to you. All I ask is that you let me love you and that you try your best to believe in yourself and work to make your life better." Blaine looked over at Kurt and reached, grasping his hand. "We said those words too on that beautiful day. Because those are the ones that we learned to live by. To truly live. Faith. Trust. Commitment. Love. Believe in yourself. Make your life better."
Kurt stood up, his hand still clasped in Blaine's. "Broadway made a commitment to us, and we made a commitment to them. And now we make that same commitment to you. You gave us your trust. We give you our faith and our love. Believe in yourself and you will make your life better."
"It's been five years," Blaine said, "since the two of us have slept on the streets. That last night we slept right outside the Broadway theaters. Listening and watching. Today we will do it right outside these doors. Listening and watching. There was magic in those theaters. But there is just as much magic here at Covenant House. The reward isn't the applause of the stage or the Tony statue. The reward, for us at least, is being able to be here for the Broadway Sleepout, and for you. Tonight, we've come back home, and there is nowhere else we'd rather be."
Each year in the U.S. alone, as many as 2 million youth experience a period of homelessness, and every year more than 5,000 of these young people lose their lives to the streets. Their hope and promise are lost forever unless they find someone – like Covenant House – to love and care for them.
Each day, scores of kids walk into Covenant Houses across the Americas for the first time. They get what they need immediately: a shower, a meal, clothes, a warm bed, and medical care if they require it – more than a third do. Then, Covenant House has expectations of the kids. Once they're safe, clothed and fed, it's time for them to make a plan. The staff promises to help them, and the kids promise to help themselves – that's the covenant.
Currently under the leadership of Kevin Ryan, Covenant House served more than 56,000 homeless kids last year, giving them the love and support they need to find their way off of the streets.
On August 17, 2015, New York's theatrical community steps off of the stage to inspire homeless kids. Performers, technicians, creators, visionaries, and administrators with Broadway, Off-Broadway, and/or National Tour credits join together to raise funds to support these young people, and raise awareness of their plight. They will sleep on the streets for one night, so kids don't have to. To date they have raised $108,778.09. You can learn more about Covenant House at www.covenanthouse.org.