Chapter 1: Act I
Kurt remembered the first time he ever saw Blaine Anderson. In fact, it was an encounter he could never forget if he tried.
Schedule out in his hand, checking and rechecking the room number as he walked down the crowded hall, and nervous as anything on his first day of classes at NYADA, Kurt turned the corner, eyes widening at the number on the placard by the door before entering the classroom only to see who he assumed was the professor already chatting it up with a bright-eyed, dark-haired guy with a painfully attractive smile. Kurt had a tendency to be early to everything; being ten minutes early was arriving on time, being on time was arriving late. But here was this guy already making himself comfortable, laughing and flirting with the professor, positively charming her before the clock even signaled the start of class.
Kurt knew his type. Kurt also knew that he was going to hate Blaine Anderson.
Because his best friend Rachel Berry was a seasoned professional when it came to putting herself out there to be recognized first, to be top in the director’s mind or that of whoever had pull when it came to casting. She made sure she was unforgettable and unforgettably sweet. It disgusted Kurt how often and flawlessly her tactics worked. It made him even more sick when he thought about how he would never have the nerve or the confidence to do the same.
The class gradually filled with students as they seemed to fall in after wandering lost in the jungle of NYADA, and Kurt was too busy checking his email on his phone to realize that the sly guy in the bow tie had concluded his all-too-friendly conversation with the professor and had taken a seat in one of the chairs set in a circle around the room. It took him another moment before he looked up from his now dark screen, silencing the phone and sliding it into his bag, and noticed that Mr. Let-me-throw-myself-in-your-face had taken the seat directly next to Kurt.
“Great,” Kurt said under his breath with a huff. He turned his head to the side, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms over his chest. Kurt tapped his foot impatiently on the laminate floor for a moment before he finally turned back to face the center of the circle where the professor had now assumed a position.
“Aren’t you excited for this class?” a deep voice hissed softly by his ear, and Kurt shivered and jumped slightly at the sound. He turned his head, reluctantly giving him his attention and trying his best not to let his distaste show on his face, but he wasn’t certain it was working.
The guy looking back at him just grinned, that same star-of-the-show smile he’d worn earlier, seemingly waiting for Kurt to agree with him.
His focus on the professor now completely derailed, Kurt cleared his throat and whispered as quietly as he could, “I was, until I missed the latter half of the directions for the first activity.”
“Sorry,” he said, offering him an apologetic look. “I’m Blaine, by the way.”
“Don’t you think this is hardly the time for introductions?”
“Actually, that’s exactly what we’re about to do,” Blaine said, rising from his seat along with the rest of the class.
Kurt, feeling disgruntled and slightly embarrassed, got quickly to his feet to join the ice-breaker game: they were to introduce themselves, say where they were from, and then say their name again paired with a food item that begins with the first letter of their name.
“I’m Kurt Hummel, I’m from Lima, Ohio, and, um, I guess…Kiwi Kurt,” he finished. He couldn’t think of anything else that started with ‘k’.
“Blaine Anderson. I’m also from Ohio - Westerville - and my food name will have to be…Broccoli Blaine.”
Kurt snorted, but the next person in the room began to talk, concealing his audible amusement.
After everyone had had their turn, they went back around playing a memory game until they all knew each other’s names well enough. They took their seats, and the professor passed out a paper copy of the syllabus, taking time and care to point out the class requirements, important deadlines, and the grading policy, and Kurt listened, marking things off on his own with a pencil.
Then it happened again.
“Can you believe it’s actually an assignment to see a show?” Blaine asked, leaning into Kurt’s personal space.
Kurt turned his head slowly, keeping his lips pursed. “Well we are studying theatre, now aren’t we?”
“Well, yeah, but that’s not what I meant. I mean - never mind. Forget it. I just think it’s pretty cool that we get graded on doing something so enjoyable,” he mumbled the last part, looking down at his syllabus in his lap again.
“Isn’t that the entire appeal of going to a performing arts school?” Kurt asked, feeling a little bad for shooting him down like that. “We’re the lucky, talented few who get to say screw academics and boring normal people jobs, we’re going to learn how to sing and dance.”
At that, Blaine’s face lit up, and he began to chuckle, a sound that hit Kurt’s stomach in a funny way.
“You’re funny,” Blaine said, looking back at Kurt. And then Kurt saw the amusement swirling and sparkling in his golden eyes, now wrinkled at the corners, the smile stretching across his face forcing his eyes into squinty crescent shapes. He blinked a few times, and the flutter of his long, dark eyelashes caused Kurt’s stomach to flutter.
“Thanks,” Kurt said, because he didn’t know how else to respond. He had lost the ability to come up with anything clever. Of all the names he’d been called, no one had ever called him funny before. He wasn’t sure if he even thought it was a good thing.
“Well, I’ll see you next class,” Blaine said, following the professor’s dismissal. “It was good to meet you, Kiwi Kurt,” he joked, and Kurt rolled his eyes.
“Don’t make it a habit. The name, I mean. If you must talk to me, just call me Kurt.” He packed his notebook and syllabus away and grabbed his bag to shoulder the strap. But as Kurt left the room, Blaine hung back, lingering by the professor until the room emptied out. And just before Kurt turned the corner around the door frame, he saw Blaine Anderson cozying it up with the professor just as he had been before, as if they were simply picking up where they’d left off.
Yeah. Kurt knew he was going to hate Blaine Anderson.
They were back at the loft after classes had concluded for the day, and Rachel hadn’t shut up long enough for Kurt to even answer her initial question of how his first day went, rambling on and on about her dance teacher who she was sure was the devil incarnate with boobs and this amazingly hot TA she met in the cafe in between her 12:15 and 3 PM class.
Kurt tuned her out as he stirred the contents of the pot a few more times before turning off the burner on the stove. As he set dinner on the table, Rachel finally took a breath, if only to inhale the warm, savory smells of the meal before getting right back into it.
“Thank you so much, Kurt. You won’t believe how hard it is to find vegan cuisine around campus. Brody showed me this one little section of the cafe, but it was barely anything, and I’m still starving. You would think that since we’re in New York, everything should be better, but apparently people's dietary needs are still not top priority -”
“Are you done, Rach? Because you need to stop talking in order to eat.”
“Oh.” She hastily stuffed a forkful of pasta into her mouth and looked as if she was about to try to open it again to speak, but Kurt held up a halting hand and glared at her. Her guilt shone in her now downcast eyes, and she proceeded to chew, mouth shut tightly.
“Now that you’re occupied, can I talk?”
Rachel nodded and lifted her hand in front of her mouth. “Sorry,” she said, her voice muffled.
Kurt took a sip of his soda before speaking. “’How was your day, Kurt?’ Why, thank you for asking, Rachel, it was wonderful. I made it to all my classes without being late, never got lost once. Did you meet anyone? Sure, Rach -”
“Uh uh, Rachel. Just zip it,” Kurt said with a warning look and a corresponding hand gesture by his lips. “I had a great first day. But, seriously, things are a little faster paced here than back at home - at NYADA and in New York. It’s gonna take a lot of getting used to, but I think I’m going to really like it here,” Kurt concluded.
“You met someone..?” Rachel asked, seemingly missing everything else he had told her, her eyes alight in amusement. “You must tell me all about it, Kurt!”
“I didn’t meet anyone, per se - at least, not anyone I’d hoped to meet.”
Rachel narrowed her eyes, her chewing slowing.
“There’s this guy in my intro to acting class, and he’s one of those…cocky, charming types. When I got to class, he was already in there kissing the professor’s ass, like he already knows who to schmooze to get what he wants in this college. There’s no doubt that he’ll make himself known and then go out for big roles - and get them.”
Kurt wouldn’t say it out loud, but he thought Blaine was like a slightly subdued version of Rachel with a Y chromosome and the equipment to boot. They could be twins. It was uncanny, really.
“He wouldn’t leave me alone and insisted on rudely talking when the professor was talking…. And to top it all off, he’s really attractive,” Kurt groaned.
Rachel swallowed the food in her mouth, obviously eager to say her piece. “An attractive, confident boy wouldn’t leave you alone, and you’re complaining? I don’t see the problem at all.”
“Of course you wouldn’t see the problem,” Kurt said pointedly. “It’s the first day, and already I have competition in the form of a seemingly perfect boy who has already made an impression. I feel like I’m miles behind already, and the race hasn’t really started. I know how it’s gonna be, Rachel. Every audition I go to, every part I go out for...Blaine will be there, smiling and wooing and making me look like an untalented stick in the mud.”
“So, he has a name.” Rachel narrowed her eyes playfully at him.
“Yes, his parents didn’t goof up on that.”
“You’re just a right beam of sunshine, Kurt,” Rachel remarked.
Kurt let out a drawn out sigh. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to sound so bitter. I just wish that the reality of performing arts and showbiz wasn’t always such fierce competition and that I was more versatile when it comes to roles. I mean, I can play anything, but not everyone wants me playing everything, if you catch my drift.”
“I do, and I know what happened to you in high school was rough. But I also think that maybe NYADA will be different...?”
“I doubt it, but lord knows I’m gonna keep fighting every step of the way,” Kurt said.
“I know, and I think it’ll all work out for you. Eventually, you’ll get what you deserve, Kurt,” she said earnestly.
Kurt sat staring at the email for a good five minutes, reading and rereading it, almost unable to believe that what it was announcing was actually happening. For their senior project, a few fourth year students in the drama department were organizing a traditional all-male production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. They were calling for students at all levels to audition.
It was perhaps ambitious of him to audition and hope for any role as a freshman, but he knew that if he didn’t take a stab at it, it would do him no good. Shakespeare was something Kurt knew but was never given the proper chance in high school to really show off what he could do. And with an all-male cast, Kurt’s chances at a role were that much higher. The odds were in his favor, so to speak.
With a few clicks, Kurt saved the audition times and location to his calendar. Just as he leaned back in his chair, the door of the loft rolled open on its track, and in walked a distressed Rachel with what looked like a partially crumpled flyer in her hand.
“Have you seen this?!” She slapped the paper down on the table in front of Kurt, and he peered at it over his laptop, cautiously, as if it might explode. “It’s absolutely unbelievable. An all-male production?! Leave it to men to organize an all-male production and exclude women from yet another thing. The inequity of it all! Talk about un-equal opportunity casting,” Rachel huffed. “It just isn't fair.” She crossed her arms and glared at Kurt.
“As a matter of fact, I received an email about it, and, personally, I think it’s a wonderful idea.”
“Of course you do, you have a penis!”
Kurt was unable to suppress a snicker at her outburst. “Calm down, Rach. Honestly, I’m happy that they’re only casting men, because it means I might actually stand a chance of being in the play. Besides, it’ll be refreshing to not have to compete with you for once.”
“Very funny, Kurt,” Rachel said, clearly unamused.
“I wasn’t joking. After all the drama in glee club, I can only be grateful that NYADA won’t be a repeat of high school.”
“So you're going to audition then?”
“Yeah, and I’m going out for the role of the Duke.”
“That’s incredibly ambitious of you, Kurt, especially for a freshman,” she told him, as if he hadn’t already thought that exact thought. “Don’t you think you should go for a minor role instead?”
“No, I really don’t think I should. I’m not going to sell myself short. It won’t do any harm to put myself out there and give it a shot, you know? And playing it safe never did either of us any good.”
Rachel let out a heavy sigh. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” She lifted the flyer off the table and glanced at it again, quickly reading the text. “The auditions are next week.” Her eyes flicked back up at Kurt. “Break a leg, I guess.”
Kurt grinned close-mouthed at her. “Thanks, Rachel.”
Kurt stood frozen in place, staring blankly ahead, eyes unfocused and looking past the crowd gathered in the hallway. But he couldn't remain oblivious to his competition for long, because as soon as he caught sight of that dark-haired, preppy hobbit standing outside the audition room and getting chummy with one of the upperclassmen, he swallowed, and a scowl took over his face.
“Hey...are you Kurt?”
Kurt whipped around only to come face to face with an obscenely attractive brunet, and he found himself grinning stupidly, wondering how he knew his name. He was glad to be distracted from Blaine's presence, especially in this manner.
“I’m Brody Weston. Rachel Berry told me you’d be here for an audition.” He held out his hand, and Kurt took it. “I’ve heard so much about you, and it’s nice to actually meet you.”
“Likewise,” Kurt said, his grin falling away a little. He let go of his hand. “So, you’re the hot TA who’s been showing Rachel the ropes here. Are you a senior?”
“Junior,” Brody said. “I’m not one of the people who organized this, if that’s what you’re wondering. Nah, I’m here for the same reason you are.”
“Any particular part in mind?”
“Sir Toby, for sure. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play a free-loading, conniving, belligerent drunk? Being one of the older guys trying out also makes it more likely I’ll be cast as the uncle or even the sea captain. Have you talked to anyone out here? Most of you guys are all freshmen.”
“I haven’t, but that’s good to know,” Kurt said, glancing around and finally allowing himself to really take in his competition. “I’m going for Orsino,” Kurt told him.
“Whoa, that’s gonna be tough. I’m sure almost everyone here is after the lead.”
“Yeah, but I’m hoping it all comes down to talent, and, if so, I have this in the bag.”
“You’re confident. That’s good. That little Ohio high school you attended must have been great since it produced headstrong individuals like you and Rachel.”
“Hardly, but wanting to get out of there definitely made us fighters.”
A petite blond wrapped his arms around Brody, smacking a noisy kiss on his cheek.
Brody laughed. “This is Aiden,” he told Kurt, “Aiden, this is Kurt.”
“Nice to meet you,” Kurt said, briefly shaking his hand.
“No doubt he’s going out for one of the female roles,” Brody said.
Aiden hummed affirmatively. “I’m as gay as they come, even in a school like NYADA. Everything’s pretty queer here - except for my pal Brody. But drag is my middle name; I’m no stranger to the art and am prepared to work it,” he said with a snap of his fingers.
Kurt knew Aiden was right about the queer factor at NYADA: everyone was gay until proven otherwise. It was nice to be part of the majority for once.
“I’ve never understood the appeal of drag, but more power to you,” Kurt said. “People always thought me being gay meant I like to wear dresses and heels, but that’s just not me.”
“Oh, honey, I’m sure you’ve given it a try at least once,” Aiden said.
“Only for costumes...” Kurt paused, “and in private a few times,” he admitted.
“I knew it! There’s a queen in every one of us. For all I know, you’re lying and you could be wearing lacy panties this very moment - or maybe that’s just me,” he added with an exaggerated wink.
Kurt chuckled and shook his head. “Even if I was, I wouldn’t tell you.”
“Oh! He’s fresh, Brody! I like you, Kurt. Judging by the looks of it, Brody will probably be the straightest piece of man meat in this production. Check out Whitney over there already working it.” He pointed over to a black man in heels and then called out, “Yaaas, girl!”
“Are you also a junior?” Kurt asked.
“I’m a sophomore. Brody here took me under his wing last year when I was an itty bitty frosh. Seems like he does that a lot, offers his expertise and his services to many a newbie. I just haven’t left him alone since.”
“Nope. Can’t get rid of him,” Brody said with an affectionate grin.
Someone finally opened the door of the audition room and called out. “Aiden McMahon!”
“That’s my cue. Gotta go! Talk to you soon, Kurt.” And he was off, disappearing into the room.
“He’s quite a colorful person,” Kurt said.
“You should see him drunk,” Brody said almost to himself. “He’s a great guy, a lot of fun. Never boring, that’s for sure. I’ve seen things with him I never thought I would.”
Kurt let out a laugh and scanned the audition crowd again, his eyes locking on a guy who was dressed a bit like a glam rocker and looked out of place. “Who’s that?” he asked.
“Oh, that’s Elliott. He’s in my year. He’s a good guy, just mostly keeps to himself. When he’s on a stage, though, he really comes alive. It’s awesome.”
Brody seemed to know everyone, which Kurt used to satisfy his curiosity. They chatted as a few more people were called into the room, entering and exiting in relatively short intervals, and then Kurt's name was finally called. He took a deep, steadying breath and followed the casting director into the room.
Kurt stood before the small panel of seniors, slightly intimidated by the way they stared him down.
“Hello. I'm Kurt Hummel, and I'll be auditioning for the role of Duke Orsino.”
“Go on,” prompted the one seated in the center, who had quite the head of voluminous hair.
Kurt read off the passage out of the packet supplied to him, doing his best to put all the right inflections and emotion into the monologue without overdoing it, and he delivered the poetry like it was a second language in which he was fluent. He didn’t stumble over any words, and once he was through, he felt really good about it.
Kurt took a small bow to approving looks and quiet applause.
“Thank you,” he said.
The three seniors leaned over and whispered a few things to each other before sitting up and facing Kurt again.
“Thank you - uh,” the director looked down at the contact sheet in front of him, “Kurt. You’re a freshman?”
“Yes,” he answered and then swallowed, shifting nervously from one foot to the other.
“You’re pretty good for a freshman. We were really impressed. I’m sure you’re familiar with the play?” Kurt nodded. “We would like to offer you a lead role -"
“Oh my god! Thank you so much!” Kurt blurted out, and the guy held a finger up, wanting to finish his thought.
"But...we have a bit of an odd request,” the guy with the great hair continued, and Kurt quirked an eyebrow, wondering what on earth it could be.
“We would like for you to do a chemistry reading opposite our other potential lead,” he explained.
Kurt thought that it was perhaps a bit bizarre for a stage production, but he’d do whatever it took, so he nodded and said, “Okay.”
With a deep breath, Kurt turned his head to look over his shoulder as one of the guys opened the door and called someone in. Kurt stopped breathing when not but seconds later, none other than Blaine Anderson was standing a few feet off from him, beaming like a crazy person, eagerly awaiting direction.
Kurt let out an irritated huff, but he reminded himself that he was very close to securing a lead role, so he couldn’t blow it. He couldn’t allow his loathing for Blaine to get in the way of his chance at getting his foot in the door at NYADA. Fake it, Kurt told himself...it shouldn’t be that hard, he was an actor, after all.
“Just this one scene will be necessary,” the guy said as he handed both Kurt and Blaine scripts. “We may cut you off, but unless we do, just keep going and stay in the moment.”
“Blaine, you’ll be reading for Duke Orsino, and, Kurt...could you please read for Viola?”
Kurt’s stomach flipped uneasily, and his heart plummeted. How could he have not seen this coming? Of course they would offer him a lead role - the lead female role. Because Kurt Hummel wasn’t like the dashing, could-pass-for-straight asshole standing across from him and now gazing into his eyes, waiting to begin. Kurt Hummel would always be the effeminate boy who everyone expected to put on a dress, wig, and heels for others' amusement and then call it a day. Blaine reeked of masculinity, despite his small, slender build. He never made any terribly bold or questionable fashion decisions that even remotely said pansy. His voice was deep and smooth, and the guy had hair on his arms and face - and probably his chest. He was all hard edges and tanned skin. He was everything that Kurt was not. So there Kurt was, gently clearing his throat, his eyes downcast as he scanned the script, feeling as small as he did back in high school because he wasn’t a Romeo - but a Juliet - no Marlon Brando, and certainly no Brad Pitt.
Blaine began to speak, jumping right into it, assuming the role and making direct eye contact with Kurt.
“Cesario, thou know’st no less but all. I have unclasped to thee the book even of my secret soul. Therefore, good youth, address thy gait unto her; be not denied access, stand at her doors, and tell them there thy fixed foot shall grow till thou have audience.”
Kurt cleared his throat again briefly. “Sure, my noble lord, if she be so abandoned to her sorrow as it is spoke, she never will admit me.”
“Be clamorous, and leap all civil bounds, rather than make unprofited return.”
“Say I do speak with her, my lord, what then?” Kurt answered with an imploring look, moving in toward Blaine ever so slightly.
Blaine’s eyes looked crazy, like they were burning into Kurt’s, oozing passion and frustration. “O, then unfold the passion of my love, surprise her with discourse of my dear faith: it shall become thee well to act my woes; she will attend it better in thy youth than in a nuncio’s of more grave aspect.”
Kurt grew quiet for a beat, his eyes flicking toward the floor before meeting Blaine’s once more. “I think not so, my lord.”
Blaine gingerly grabbed Kurt’s arm, startling him a bit and sending a prickling heat through his body. “Dear lad, believe it. For they shall yet belie thy happy years that say thou art a man. Diana’s lip is not more smooth and rubious. Thy small pipe is as the maiden’s organ, shrill and sound, and all is semblative a woman’s part. I know thy constellation is right apt for this affair.” Turning to imaginary people, Blaine went on, “Some four or five attend him. All, if you will, for I myself am best when least in company.” He looked back at Kurt again, taking a step back. “Prosper well in this, and thou shalt live as freely as thy lord, to call his fortunes thine.”
Kurt swallowed hard. “I’ll do my best to woo your lady—yet, a barful strife—whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife.”
“Okay, thank you, you two! That’s all we needed to see,” the lead director called out. “Please check your emails on Friday for the final cast list, which will also be posted just outside this room. We'll attach a digital copy of the script, so you can get a head start on your lines.”
“You were great,” Blaine said, following closely behind Kurt as they left the room.
“Thank you.” Kurt's face was burning, and he picked up his pace, keeping his head held high and avoiding eye contact with Blaine.
“You’re welcome.” Blaine shoved his hands in his pockets, and, much to Kurt’s dismay, he continued to follow him down the steps toward the building’s exit. “How cool is it, though, that we’re only freshmen, and we’ll be playing the lead roles?”
“It’s swell,” Kurt said without much enthusiasm.
“I mean, I guess nothing’s set in stone yet, not until they send out and post the actual cast list." He shrugged. "They could change their minds.”
Kurt stopped in his tracks on the walk just outside the door. “Don’t you have class or somewhere you need to be?” he finally asked.
Blaine seemed unfazed. “Nope. I’m done for the day.”
“I see. Well, I’m quite busy, so, if you’ll excuse me, I have some errands to run and a needy roommate to get home to.”
“It was nice talking to you again. I’ll see you soon, Kurt,” Blaine said as Kurt made a quick escape. Blaine gave a parting wave, but Kurt never turned back around to see it, and his shoulders slumped as he watched Kurt walk away.
Come Friday, Kurt was itching to check his email, but there was something more exciting about visiting the physical posting of the cast list to receive the news. He quickly got himself together for his history of theatre class, which was a bitch to sit through, his anticipation building with each passing second. When it was over, he rushed to the other side of campus to check out the bulletin board.
When he got there, he was surprised to see Rachel standing beside Brody, both staring intently at the list.
“I don’t get it,” Rachel said, her brow furrowed. “Why is she allowed in the production, but I’m not?”
“I’m more a man - and a woman - than you’ll ever be,” Unique threw right back at her.
“Again, it’s the penis thing, isn’t it.” She let out an aggravated groan. “It’s not fair at all. And you got cast as Olivia. Are you going to be able to handle that?”
“Honey, it’s just another Friday afternoon for Unique,” she said, turning on her three-inch heels with a dramatic wave of her hand before strutting off down the hall, clacking all the way.
“Kurt!” Rachel said when she spotted him, a bright, broad smile immediately taking over her features. “Hurry! Come have a look!”
With bated breath, Kurt took a few steps toward the cast list and then fixed his eyes on the heading before reading down the list of names.
Twelfth Night Cast List:
Viola/Cesario - Kurt Hummel
Duke Orsino - Blaine Anderson
Sebastian - Sebastian Smythe
Antonio - Adam Crawford
Countess Olivia - Wade “Unique” Adams
Sir Toby Belch - Brody Weston
Sir Andrew Aguecheek - Elliott Gilbert
Maria - Aiden McMahon
Fabian - Dion Reyes
Feste - Chandler Kiehl
Malvolio - Jean Baptiste
Director - Jesse St. James
Kurt wasn’t surprised by the outcome of the auditions, but at the same time, it momentarily stopped his heart to see his own name right there at the very top of the list. It was the first time he’d ever had the honor, and his chest swelled with pride. Then he slowly deflated as his gaze dropped down to the name directly below his, his stomach feeling a little sick.
“You got the lead!” Rachel said, hugging his side.
“Yeah, I really did,” Kurt said flatly, still not taking his eyes off the name.
“What’s wrong? I know you didn’t get Orsino, but you’re the star of the show, Kurt.”
“It’s him. He got the role of the Duke.”
“Huh? Oh - Blaine? He’s that guy from your acting class, right?” Rachel asked as if she didn’t know by now.
“Yeah, that guy.”
“Excuse me!” A guy in a beanie and Ray-Bans stepped up to the list, leaping and clapping when he saw his name. “Yes! I got Feste!” He turned to Kurt. “How did you fare...?”
“That’s him, right at the top!” Rachel boasted. “Kurt Hummel.”
“Oh! Viola! How wonderful!” He thrust his hand forward. “I’m Chandler, by the way.” Kurt offered his hand in turn, which Chandler shook vigorously, not letting go. “It’s really great to meet the star of this production. I know we’ll be seeing a lot of each other now. I haven't seen you around. Are you a freshman?” He finally freed Kurt’s hand from his grasp.
He flexed his fingers down by his side. “Yep, this is my first year at NYADA and in New York.”
Chandler clasped his hands together in the air by his chin. “That’s so exciting! Isn’t New York amazing? It’s my second year, and I just love it here.”
“I’m still settling in and becoming familiar with the neighborhood.”
“Well, if you ever want someone to show you around, give me a call -” Chandler took out his phone and handed it to Kurt. “Here - give me your digits.”
Kurt hesitated before exchanging phones and programming his number into Chandler’s before swapping back.
“If you haven’t been to the Village yet, you must go! I can take you whenever you’re free - maybe even this weekend?”
Kurt was overwhelmed and taken aback by Chandler’s overenthusiasm and candor. “It’s very nice of you to offer, but I’ll have to let you know. How about I shoot you a text...?”
“Sounds perfect! I hope to hear from you, Kurt! Unfortunately, I need to get going - I have another class. See ya!” He waved, beaming brightly at Kurt, and then took off down the hall.
Kurt stood there dumbfounded, and, although Chandler had been the one doing all the talking, once he was gone, Kurt finally felt like he could breathe again.
“I could be mistaken, but I think he just asked you out, Kurt,” Brody said.
“That was impressive,” Rachel said, her eyes still wide in astonishment at the exchange she’d just witnessed. “That Chandler got right down to business, and he was in and out before you even knew it.”
“That was actually kind of terrifying,” Brody said. “Hope he’s not like that in the sack...”
“C’mon, guys, he was just being nice. Even if he was asking me on a date, it might not be such a bad thing. Despite the constant bouncing like an overexcited puppy that needs to pee, he is pretty cute, and it could be nice to spend a night out in the city.”
Rachel shrugged. “Well, you have his number now, so it’s your move.”
Kurt considered it, but it dawned on him just how much work he needed to do to learn his lines, especially now that he knew he’d gotten the lead. Compared to the musicals and plays he was so accustomed to, Shakespeare was an entirely different beast. He would text Chandler to be polite, but going out this weekend was almost certainly out of the question.
Chapter 2: Act II
The main cafeteria at NYADA was almost always nearly filled to capacity and, despite the high noise level, was the perfect place to socialize on campus. It was there that Blaine had already made a few connections with other students and even professors over lunch or coffee. It wasn’t the place to go if one wanted peace and quiet or to hear oneself think, but it was a place Blaine had been frequenting since his arrival at the small performing arts school. That day, Blaine had just found himself a table and barely had a minute to himself with his lunch before a familiar face came to join him.
“Well, well, if it isn’t Blaine Anderson.”
Blaine looked up from his pizza as Sebastian slid into the seat across from him and made himself comfortable.
“Oh, hey, Sebastian.” Blaine smiled and pulled his tray a little closer toward himself to make room at the small, round table for another. He quickly struck up a conversation, the topic of which was the biggest thing currently on his mind. “You’re doing Twelfth Night, right? Have you seen the cast list yet?”
“Of course I have. I have to admit, though, I’m a little disappointed, but at least I made the list.”
A sandy-haired man walked up behind Sebastian and tapped him on the shoulder. “You’re Sebastian Smythe, right?”
Sebastian laid his arm across the back of his chair, twisting around to acknowledge the newcomer. “I am. And you are...?”
“Adam Crawford. I’m the Antonio to your Sebastian.” He smiled genially, a bit bashful.
“Then we better get to know each other,” Sebastian said. “Why don’t you pull up a chair? Three’s company, right?” he said, looking to Blaine and then back at Adam.
Adam took the suggestion and joined them.
“Actually, that’s two...two’s company - three’s a crowd,” Adam corrected him sheepishly.
Sebastian forced a laugh and then paused to consider Adam. “You’re charming. Where exactly are you from, Dr. Who?”
“Right here, in the Big Apple.”
“Not with an accent like that.”
“My parents are from across the pond. But I’ve lived here most my life.”
“Couldn’t stay away from your roots then, could you? Seems kind of cliche for a Brit to involve himself in a Shakespearean production. You might be the only one with a convincing accent - or any accent at all.”
“I like to think that I’ll bring some authenticity to the role,” he joked, his eyes twinkling as he watched Sebastian. “Don’t you know that British parents read Shakespeare to their children before bed instead of nursery rhymes or fairy tales? We also don’t breastfeed - newborns drink tea.”
Blaine snorted, knowing that Adam was only teasing and poking fun at Sebastian for his narrow-minded comments. Sebastian gave Blaine a sharp look, and Blaine tried to conceal his laughter as he took a generous bite of his pizza and dropped his gaze to the tabletop.
Blaine watched and listened to the two men banter as he ate his lunch, glad to have a moment where he didn’t need to talk or entertain anyone. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be bothered, but Adam’s arrival was convenient and allowed him to tend to his empty stomach.
Sebastian finally rose to his feet, pushing his chair under the table.
“I really enjoyed our chat - and it was nice to see you, Blaine,” he said. “I need to get out of here now because I have a paper that won’t write itself.”
Adam got up as well, almost too eagerly.
“Where are you headed?” he asked.
“The library and then my room.”
“You’re living here on campus?”
“Yeah. Only two blocks from here.”
“Do you mind if I join you on the walk? We should exchange numbers and plan to run lines and scenes together.”
“Sure,” Sebastian said nonchalantly.
Blaine waved goodbye to his departing company as he finished chewing and swallowing his last bit of crust. He knew that Adam had the right idea and that he should probably reach out to his scene partner in a similar manner. He’d tried to make small talk with Kurt during the class they had together, but Kurt seemed disinterested and a bit prickly. Blaine wondered if it was something he’d said or done that rubbed Kurt the wrong way, but he tried not to dwell on it. He figured Kurt was still coping with being away at college for the first time and would come around eventually. Regardless, their first rehearsal was just around the corner.
The first rehearsal took place in that same room in which auditions were held, a nice, spacious dance studio with mirrors on the walls. Eventually, they would be able to move to an auditorium to practice on a stage, but for now, rehearsal was more of an orientation and a time for introductions, to learn who was who.
“Who the hell is Kurt Hummel?”
Kurt looked around for the person who’d asked - scoffed, rather -, locking eyes with a meerkat-looking guy who was wearing a sneer that made his otherwise attractive face look ugly.
“That would be me,” Kurt spoke up boldly.
That sneer quickly fell away and was replaced with an expression of genuine curiosity. He made his way over to where Kurt was seated with his newly acquired, official script, awaiting further direction.
“So, you’re our Viola,” he said. “I’m Sebastian, aka, Sebastian. Weren’t they clever with that casting choice? Which, of course, also means that I’m your brother. Twins, though,” Sebastian said, looking Kurt up and down. “I can see why they’d cast you as the girl over me, but I can’t see the resemblance between us.”
“Maybe it’s the hair,” Kurt said dryly.
“You are aware there needs to be sexual tension and chemistry between Viola and Orsino, right? It seems like you might - how do I say it? - lack the appeal. But, if you ask nicely, I might be willing to give you a few pointers,” he said, smirking.
“I’m not interested in your help,” Kurt said, feeling flustered.
“Fine. But the offer is on the table. Otherwise, good luck trying to convince the audience that Blaine Anderson finds you attractive.”
“Is that what this is about? Blaine?” Kurt began to laugh. “I-I’m sorry,” he said, slightly gasping for air, “I can’t believe this is actually happening. You’re not jealous of the role I got, you just want to play opposite Blaine?”
“At least there’d be sparks. I know him better than you’ll ever know him. Don’t get any ideas in your head about trying to make this fiction a reality, Kurt Hummel. Because, no matter how he talks to you or even kisses you, it will always be fiction. Don’t forget we’re all actors in a play.”
“Huh? Are you dating him or something?”
“Or something,” Sebastian said, narrowing his eyes, the corners of his lips curling upward.
Kurt swallowed hard as those vicious green eyes bore into him.
“Seb,” a voice with a distinctly British accent spoke from behind him. “Aren’t we going to rehearse together? Oh,” he said when he noticed Kurt, and then he offered him a kind smile. “You must be Kurt. I’m Adam, our Antonio.”
“It’s good to meet you, Adam,” Kurt said. “You should go run lines with your partner.” He glared at Sebastian. “You have a big scene together.”
“I already told you we’d practice our lines,” Sebastian practically whined, rolling his eyes and swatting at the air as if Adam was a mosquito buzzing by his ear. “I’ll see you around, then, Kurt.”
“I look forward to it.”
Adam managed to pull Sebastian away, and Kurt watched them make their way to a corner of the room.
Kurt didn’t have a clue who that Sebastian jerk thought he was. It had only been a few weeks since the start of the semester, but, judging by his experience thus far, NYADA seemed to be full of self-centered diva types and only a sparse sprinkling of genuinely nice guys. He thought he’d prefer putting up with Blaine, who, although decidedly annoying, at least had yet to be malicious in any way. He soon realized he should have been careful what he wished for.
“Attention, everyone! Can I have everyone’s attention?” Jesse St. James called out, gesturing with his arms to rally them all in, and the actors gradually convened around him. “Eyes on me now! I hope you’ve all had a chance to talk and learn each other’s names and roles, because we won’t be wasting more time, and I’d like to get right down to business. You’ll be dealing mostly with me, though my far less-competent ‘co-directors’ will be popping in on occasion. We’re lucky to be working on a show with a relatively small cast, so it gives us the opportunity to be more intimate.”
Kurt wrapped his arms around himself, his attention solely and respectfully on the director.
Jesse’s eyes met and locked with his.
He perked up at the address and immediately felt several pairs of eyes on him as those in the group turned to look.
“You’re going to be practicing most of your scenes with Orsino today, but, as we go, you’ll be ping-ponged between rehearsing lines with Blaine and Wade - er, Unique.”
Kurt nodded, already looking forward to it. He knew a professional relationship with Blaine would be necessary for the duration of the show, so he composed himself, fully prepared to stick it out and not allow his feelings to get in the way and affect his performance. He admitted to himself that having a talented scene partner such as Blaine was actually a blessing, and as long as he could play off of him, they could give a good, solid performance. Also, pretending to be in love with Blaine wouldn’t be a huge challenge; Kurt wasn’t blind, after all. Most relationships in Shakespeare’s work seemed so shallow and hasty anyway - more convenient than anything -, so it wasn’t really true romance he would have to emulate.
As soon as Jesse was through with Kurt, he addressed the others in turn. Kurt looked down at his script, flipping the book open to one of his first scenes with Blaine where he’d already highlighted his parts. He bent the cover back and pressed a finger to his lips. When he looked back up, he nearly jumped out of his skin, his heart rate quickening. Blaine was by his side, and he hadn’t even heard him coming.
“Have you had a chance to memorize any of your lines? I’m already off-book for a few scenes.”
Of course he was, Kurt thought, biting his tongue and fighting the urge to roll his eyes or make a snide remark. Did this guy not do his homework or skip classes or something? Or was he just superhuman on top of super sociable and super attractive? It had to be one of those things, or Blaine somehow managed to get his hands on a Time-Turner, because Kurt certainly felt like he had neither the time nor the energy to accomplish what Blaine seemed to be doing.
“Not really, but I’ve read through the play a few times since the casting announcement. It helped jog my memory and helped me get more of a feel for how I’d like to approach the character of Viola. Her dual nature as well as her power of deception are very important aspects of her character, and I would like to really embrace those elements to deliver an impactful and honest performance. After all, the play is about disguising, pretending, and things not really being as they seem.”
Blaine stared at Kurt in awe, just blinking for a moment, his mouth slightly agape. “It sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into it. You sound so smart when you talk about the play.” He blew out a puff of air, looking away momentarily. “I feel like an idiot now. I haven’t really gone too in-depth and considered who my character is.”
“At least you’ll impress everyone with how well you know your lines already,” Kurt said with a close-mouthed grin.
“I guess. I’d hate to deliver them in a sloppy way though. I have a lot of work to do.”
Kurt felt smug, like he’d somehow one-upped Blaine and put him to shame. He might have gotten the male lead and the part that Kurt wanted, but Kurt knew his stuff, and when it came time to perform, it would undoubtedly show. It was too late to wish for a different casting turnout. What mattered most now was that Kurt give it all he had and show those seniors that he could take anything they threw at him. Perhaps they’d even realize they’d made a mistake about him and his abilities.
“Say, Kurt...” Blaine began, hesitating. “I know we’re going to be seeing a lot more of each other in rehearsals, but would you maybe like to get together another time to practice? If we’re going to be playing love interests, we should really get to know each other. You seem to really know the play, and I think I could learn a lot from you.”
Kurt was struck by the last comment and couldn’t respond at first, but he quickly composed himself. “I’m very busy. I’ll have to get back to you about that. Besides, I wouldn’t want to take away from your time with Sebastian.”
Blaine looked utterly bewildered by the statement. “Huh? Sebastian? What does he have to do with us practicing?”
“He told me earlier that you two are...involved.”
“Seriously? It’s nothing like that. We have one class together, I’ve talked to him a few times, and we’ve had coffee, but nothing more.”
“Well, you better clue him in and clear up that confusion. He seems to be convinced that you’re more than just friends.”
Blaine shook his head and sighed. “The only thing I’m truly committed to right now is this production. I don’t know what he’s on about, but ignore him. He’s probably just trying to rile you up because he wanted the part of Viola and didn’t get a lead. Seb’s a nice guy, but a bit arrogant. I don’t think he’s above pettiness.”
Kurt felt strangely happy to hear that Blaine was unattached. He caught himself and swallowed hard, fighting away some intrusive, unwanted thoughts.
“Anyway,” Blaine said, attempting to change the subject. “We should practice.”
“Yeah,” Kurt agreed simply, directing his attention once more toward his script. “Shall we begin at Act I, then?”
Toward the conclusion of the previous intro to acting class, students had been assigned slightly nonsensical monologues completely devoid of context. It was up to them to create the rest of the scene and prepare to perform it the following class.
Now was Kurt’s chance to really show off his acting chops. After all the work he’d put into it, Kurt was very proud of what he’d come up with and was excited to perform, hoping to blow his peers away and impress the professor. But, alas, he had to sit patiently while others went before him.
Blaine happened to be one of those individuals, and Kurt leaned forward in his seat, chin in hand, studying him intently. He was unable to refrain from mentally critiquing every little thing Blaine did, every word he spoke, how he spoke, the manner in which he moved his body, and, by the end, he found that just about every choice Blaine made was flawless. He had not a single word of negative criticism for him.
Apparently, neither did the professor, who lauded Blaine, going on and on until Kurt felt like his ears might bleed.
Relief washed over him when it was finally his turn, and he moved to the front of the classroom, attempting to shake off the jealousy and resentment that was consuming him before he began.
Kurt went for it, giving it everything he had and then some, as if he had to compete and prove that he could do it even better than Blaine. Unable to take his mind off Blaine and how he must be sitting there all smug and content, judging him in turn, Kurt’s all soon became too much. He wasn’t thinking; his head just wasn’t in it. But when he caught himself, it was too late to draw back and try to correct his mistakes, so he kept barreling ahead for the sake of consistency.
Once Kurt’s train had derailed and he’d lost control, all he could do was keep driving the thing into the ground and own the wreck as if it was intentional. When he was finished, he felt awful.
As expected, his critique wasn’t nearly as glowing as Blaine’s had been. Embarrassed and disappointed, he admonished himself for the remainder of the class, keeping his head down and arms crossed, sulking over his failure.
When the class was over, Kurt was glad to get out of there.
“It wasn’t that bad, Kurt,” Blaine said, following him out of the room. “I think the professor just misinterpreted what you were trying to show us.”
Kurt turned abruptly, fixing Blaine with a glare of revulsion. “You don’t have to lie to try to make me feel better, Blaine!” he snapped. “It was a fucking disaster! Just because you can go up there and give a flawless, riveting performance and be showered in praise, doesn’t mean you have to rub it in my face. We can’t all be virtuosos.”
“We all have bad days, Kurt, and I’m sorry it didn’t go as you planned. I see how talented you are when we rehearse together, and one small failure means nothing.”
Kurt could feel tears burning in his eyes, and he painfully swallowed around the lump in his throat. “I don’t need you to mock me. Please, just leave me alone.”
Before Blaine could protest, Kurt hid his face and took off toward the nearest bathroom.
With Jesse St. James at the wheel, rehearsals were becoming increasingly intense as the weeks passed. Members of the cast began to grow comfortable and bond over that time. Most were now unafraid to take risks and goof off with each other in their downtime and during scene work.
There was only one person who seemed reluctant to open up, and he soon became an easy target for four of the actors who were working closely with him and couldn’t stand being kept in the dark. Jean Baptiste was eccentric yet private; he was the nut those few actors became determined to crack.
Aiden leaned over, his face hovering just beside an unsuspecting Jean’s ear. “So, which is it that satisfies your palate, the fish or the schnitzel?”
Jean jumped. “Oh my god, Aiden.” He groaned and threw up his hands to shoo him.”Go away!”
“You have to tell us one of these days!” he singsonged.
“I don’t even understand why my sexuality is a topic of debate. Why does it even matter to you?”
Brody, who’d been watching, joined in. “Because you’re the only one who seems to have something to hide.”
“Exactly. For example, Brody knows his favorite midnight snack is Taco Bell and has never once had a craving for Subway, and I’m unapologetically and unequivocally gay - and everyone knows it. So...which is it? Or do you like to sample from both dishes?”
“Are you really going to relentlessly badger me about it until I break?” Jean asked, now red in the face.
“It’s when you say things like that that really gets me,” Aiden said, shaking his head. “Who even says ‘badger’? Alas, you’re like a puzzle with a few hopelessly missing pieces.”
“We just don’t get what there is to be so prudish about. We’re all friends here, right? Hey, Chandler,” Brody called over to him. “I need your opinion on something.”
“What is it?”
“What do you think about Jean? Does he play for your team?”
“This again?” Chandler said with a laugh.
“See! Even he’s tired of you pestering me about the same old thing.”
“No, I’m just wondering when you’ll finally give in and ruin their fun. You’re only making it worse on yourself by not telling them. They won’t give up or back down.”
Dion had been pretending he wasn’t listening, but he wasn’t immune to it and could no longer hold his tongue. “Leave him alone now,” he told them. “You’re not gonna get anything out of him like that.”
“Thank you, Dion,” Jean said before refocusing his attention on his script. He glanced at the page, closed his eyes, and noiselessly mouthed his lines to himself.
Aiden pulled Brody, Chandler, and Dion to the side, a mischievous expression on his face that immediately told them he was up to no good. He waved the three forward, urging them closer until they were in a small huddle.
“I have an idea, and it’s kinda ingenious,” he whispered, looking so proud of himself. “I know how to get him to talk, but he can’t know that it’s us. The idea is kind of cruel, but just listen...I think you’ll be on board.”
“I’m all ears,” Brody said.
“You know how good I am at impersonating women, right? I’ve seen him on Facebook on his phone, and I was thinking that we could create an online persona - a female persona - and then see how he reacts to her. I can make him fall in love with her if he’s so inclined, and if he swings the other way, we’ll almost immediately have our answer.”
“Do you mean you want to catfish him?” Chandler asked, his eyebrows raised dubiously.
Aiden paused as if he had to consider it, and then he nodded.
“That is cruel,” Brody said, “but I’m totally in. I mean, the prank probably won’t need to go on that long anyway.”
“If you want any help coming up with flirty pickup lines, I’ve got a few up my sleeve,” Chandler said with a grin.
Jean Baptiste showed up at the next rehearsal in a happy daze, appearing as if he was trapped in a pleasant daydream. He floated right in on cloud nine, his head held high, wearing an insane grin, and even Jesse did a double take, not sure if someone had replaced his actor with an entirely different person. The double take might also have been due to the fact that Jean was wearing a bright yellow cardigan that almost hurt to look at, like staring directly into the sun.
“What the -?” Brody smacked Aiden’s arm to get his attention. “What did you do?” he asked out of the corner of his mouth.
Aiden was too busy snickering to answer right away. “Yellow is Miranda’s favorite color.”
He narrowed his eyes at his friend. “Miranda?”
“What? She happens to be my favorite Sex and the City gal. Can you blame me? He seems to like her, anyway. And he looks like a scrumptious little buttercup!”
Brody bowed his head and shook it, holding in his laughter. “So, basically you told him to wear yellow, a color that obviously looks terrible on him, and he thinks he’s impressing a girl?”
“Mmhmm. Which brings us to our conclusion...” Aiden waggled his eyebrows. “He likes pussy.”
“Then you can call the whole thing off now, right?” Brody asked.
“I plan to, but I had to mess with him this one last time.”
“It is pretty funny, but I kinda feel bad.”
“Since when did you have a conscience, Brody? Am I really losing my partner in crime?”
“Nah, you’re not losing me, but I do think the catfishing prank has gone on long enough. We should call it quits before it causes any real harm.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right.” Aiden took his phone out and opened the app. “Well, rest in peace, Miranda.”
With a swipe and the press of a finger, he deleted the account, wiping Jean’s fantasy girl from existence.
Chapter 3: Act III
Kurt giggled as he read something on his phone, quickly covering his mouth to stifle the noise.
The soft, pleasant sound caught Blaine’s attention, and he craned his neck to see what was so funny but looked away quickly when he realized it was a text message conversation he had no right to intrude on. But when the laughter continued, a bright blush rising in Kurt’s cheeks, Blaine became increasingly curious and a little irked by whoever was taking his time with his scene partner away from him.
He folded his arms and began to impatiently tap his foot on the floor, and then he let out a huff. “Kurt...? What are you doing?”
Kurt looked up, his expression like a child’s who’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “Nothing - it’s nothing.” His screen went dark, and he stuffed his phone back into his pocket. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, knowing that he really shouldn’t have been exchanging texts with Chandler when he’d already promised Blaine his time.
“It’s okay, but I would really like to get this last scene down, if you don’t mind. It’s the only one we’ve been struggling with, and if we run it a few times, it’ll definitely help.”
“You’re right,” Kurt said, his eyes momentarily downcast. “You have my full attention now. Let’s go through this. What was it, Act V? The final scene, right?”
Blaine took a deep breath. “Yeah, the one and only in the final act.”
“But everyone’s in that scene. It’s the finale, and the only big part between us is -”
“The revelation and the kiss,” Blaine finished for him.
Kurt’s breath hitched, and he grew quiet but quickly recovered, gently clearing his throat. “Of course. Who am I kidding? It’s like the biggest part of the play. Let’s get to it then,” he said with a nervous laugh.
Scripts in hand just in case, they began to run through the scene, skipping over the parts of the absent actors. Blaine felt himself growing anxious as they drew closer to the conclusion. Despite his nerves, he didn’t allow them to affect his acting, staying completely in character as he spoke so sincerely to Kurt, his Viola, really feeling Orsino’s love and longing for her...
Blaine went on, flawlessly reciting his lines. “He hath not told us of the captain yet. When that is known and golden time convents, a solemn combination shall be made of our dear souls. Meantime, sweet sister,” Blaine reached out and took Kurt’s hand, pulling him a bit closer, “we will not part from hence. Cesario, come, for so you shall be, while you are a man. But when in other habits you are seen, Orsino’s mistress and his fancy’s queen.”
Blaine’s heart was racing, and he leaned in and pressed a quick, gentle close-mouthed kiss to Kurt’s mouth and then pulled away, immediately breaking character.
“Good, that was good,” he said, swallowing and taking a step back.
“Yeah, it was good,” Kurt agreed, still feeling the lingering warmth of Blaine’s lips on his. He turned, shaking it off, and then flipped back in the script to the beginning of the scene. “We should do it again, from the beginning.”
“Okay,” Blaine said, desperately trying to keep a smile from creeping onto his face.
Without delay, they began to run through the scene again. In attempt to avoid using the scripts as a crutch, they set them down, freeing their hands. When they reached the part just before the kiss again, Blaine grabbed both Kurt’s hands this time, interlacing their fingers and drawing him in closer without breaking eye contact, and then he leaned in, his eyes falling closed as his mouth closed in on Kurt’s...
Kurt’s phone vibrated against his thigh, and, startled, he jumped, knocking his forehead painfully against Blaine’s.
“Ow. What the hell?”
“Oh my god!” Kurt looked on at Blaine, completely horrified, his mouth agape. “I’m so sorry!”
Blaine massaged his head where they’d collided, and then he began to laugh. “It’s okay, Kurt. What happened, though?”
“My phone went off in my pocket when someone texted me, and I was so in character and in the moment that it scared the shit out of me. I really am sorry,” Kurt said, growing visibly flushed.
Blaine fought back a smile again, finding Kurt’s embarrassment kind of endearing. His stomach did a somersault as he gazed at Kurt with his rosy cheeks and shining blue eyes.
“One more time?” Blaine asked, his hand falling back to his side.
Kurt patted his phone in his pocket, reaching in to fish it out. “Uh, no, I think - “ He turned the screen on. “I think we’ve practiced enough. I feel pretty good about the scene now, and I should get going.”
Within seconds of checking it, Kurt was sucked back into his phone, completely distracted and engrossed in his text message conversation. His expression softened, the smile returning to his face - for some mystery guy who wasn’t Blaine - and then he began to giggle again. Kurt promptly turned away to gather his things.
Blaine’s stomach suddenly felt sick as he stared on at Kurt’s back.
Within a week’s time, Jean Baptiste was back to his usual self, although, significantly more dispirited. When not working on scenes, he often kept his head down. If he’d been quiet before, now he almost completely isolated himself and didn’t talk much to the other guys, who soon became concerned about him.
That evening, the men were gathered in the auditorium, awaiting the start of rehearsal, their friendly banter and chatter echoing throughout the room, but Jean was seated alone, hunched over on the lip of the stage with his phone out.
Aiden leaned his head on Brody, smushing his cheek against Brody’s upper arm, his gaze focused on Jean.
“I can’t stop looking at him.”
Brody turned his head, his brow furrowing. “Huh?”
“I know too much about him,” Aiden said.
“What do you mean?” Brody asked.
“I mean, that I know too much about Jean now. He, um, really liked that Miranda chick, if you get what I mean.”
It took Brody a minute to process, but when he realized what Aiden was on about, he blurted out, “Oh my god! Delete it!”
“I can’t!” Aiden said with a guilty smile. “It’s too good!”
“But - shit. I thought you were done torturing the poor guy.”
“I was - I am - but I never told you everything or even a fraction of the information I gained about him. I don’t think I want to share.”
“That’s really not right,” Brody said. “Having the information, that is, not the not sharing thing. Trust me, I want to remain ignorant. Teasing him was fun, but now Jean looks like he has his own personal Dementor trailing behind him everywhere he goes.”
“He’s heartbroken,” Aiden said with a sigh. “If only he wasn’t straight, I could cheer him up...but, alas.”
Brody smacked his friend on the arm. “Give me your phone. You really need to get rid of the -”
“It’s only right that you do. I would hate it if my business was just out there in the hands of strangers...”
“Oh, really?” Aiden said with a look of major skepticism.
“Okay, so maybe I don’t hate it, but you know what I mean. Hand it over.” He held out his hand, urging his friend to comply.
“You really want to see it? Even just to delete it?”
“It’s better than you having it for your own personal...enjoyment.”
Aiden pouted. “You’re making a hefty withdrawal from my spank-bank. I’ll be practically bankrupt.”
Brody squeezed his eyes shut tight and grimaced, shaking his head as he tried to remove the image from his mind and pretend that he never heard Aiden say that, just praying that he wasn't being serious. He knew that as soon as he did get hold of Aiden’s phone, there’d be yet another image he’d have to wipe - and possibly a few more.
“If you insist,” Aiden said, finally giving in and surrendering the phone.
Brody tapped the screen and scrolled through his photo album, trying his best to locate the picture, and when he did, he opened it, and his jaw dropped.
“I know, right?”
“You’re right...this is too good....”
“Says the straight guy.”
Brody playfully shoved Aiden. “C’mon, you know I didn't mean it like that. I just can’t believe it.”
They both turned to look at Jean again, Brody tilting his head slightly to the side and staring as if making calculations in his head.
“So...whaddya say we make a few alterations to his costume to accentuate his...gift?”
Brody didn’t answer at first, still quiet in contemplation. Then he began to nod, a restrained grin on his face. “What harm could it do?”
Sebastian hadn’t known that he’d be adopting a puppy when he’d signed up for the play. It turned out that his main scene partner was a lot like one of those strays that follows you home just hoping you’ll throw him a bone, a bouncy, yappy Corgi that dogged him before, during, and after every rehearsal. And Adam was a persistent little bugger.
It might have been cute if Sebastian had been a dog person. However, there was an upside to the situation: the man was nice to look at and sounded super hot when he delivered his lines.
Still, he wasn’t really Sebastian’s type. Although, he had to admit that he had a thing for those desperate, submissive types, even if he couldn’t figure out what role the guy might play in bed.
As it were, Adam was currently in Sebastian’s bed, belly-down and poring over some book from one of his theory classes, albeit, completely clothed and just - there.
“I’m bored,” Sebastian finally said, spinning around in his computer chair to face his guest.
Adam looked up from the page he was on. “We could go get something to eat,” he suggested, marking his spot and closing his book.
“I’m not hungry yet. How about we play a game instead?”
“You mean, like, a computer game?”
“No, I mean like...Fuck, Marry, Kill - with members of the Twelfth Night cast.”
Adam shifted and finally sat up. “Oh, alright.”
“I’ll go first.” Sebastian paused for a moment, his finger at his chin. “How about Elliott Gilbert, Blaine Anderson, and Kurt Hummel.”
“That’s a good one...let’s see...” Adam took his time to carefully decide. “I’d Fuck Elliott...marry Kurt, and I guess I’d have to kill Blaine.”
“Oh, really? That’s interesting, because I would have offed Kurt Hummel, hands down.”
“Wow. That’s brutal. And the others?”
“I’d fuck Blaine and marry Elliott, only because Elliott scares the shit out of me and would probably try to bite me in bed. I'm not so sure I'm into that,” he added, more to himself.
“I don’t understand why you dislike Kurt so much. He’s a really nice guy, and I’m quite fond of him.”
“I can tell. Marry Kurt? Ha!” Sebastian rolled his eyes. “I suppose he’d make a nice little wife, but why would you want to spend so much time with him?”
“You’re funny, because it’s not Kurt who I’ve been spending all my time with.”
“Listen, Adam. I’m not exactly a subtle person, and it seems like neither are you. So let me spell it out for you: I don’t date, I fuck."
“And the current object of your affection is Blaine Anderson.” It was a statement, not a question, and Adam looked hurt.
“You catch on very quickly.”
“But if that object were unattainable, would you consider another?”
“You’re obviously not thinking clearly. I will have Blaine, and when I do, you can run off with your beloved Kurt. Isn’t that what you want?”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Like I said, I’m not available in that way, and quite frankly, I could have had my way with you already if I was interested. Don’t get me wrong, you’re a good-looking guy, but I have certain standards.”
“Wow, okay. I think I get it, Seb. There’s no need to say any more.” Adam rose to his feet and began to hastily pack his things into his bag. “I’ll see you at rehearsal.”
“Don’t kid yourself. You can’t stay away from me.” Sebastian smirked.
Adam turned away toward the door, shaking his head, and then with a sigh he left Sebastian’s dorm.
The auditorium was abuzz with rumors of a Halloween bash that was promising to be the event of the semester. At least, the hostess boasted of what would be a top-notch get-together, replete with quality company, entertainment, and refreshments. Costumes were optional but very much encouraged.
Once he’d gotten wind of the party, Sebastian took advantage of the situation, using it as an excuse to talk to Blaine and hopefully coax him into attending. There was an abundance of fun to be had at a party like that and so many things the night could lead to, and a little alcohol could only help to augment his power of persuasion. If he played his cards right, he hoped to end the night in his dorm with the man of his dreams in his bed.
“Have you heard about the Halloween party at Unique’s apartment?” he asked.
Blaine nodded. “Yeah, of course. Everyone in the cast’s invited.”
Feeling inexplicably alone even in the company of Sebastian and Adam, Blaine turned, slowly scanning the auditorium until his eyes fell on Kurt, who’d wandered toward the stage. Lately, it was something that just happened, searching for and finding Kurt in a crowd, in class, around campus, and in rehearsals. They’d been together so often during rehearsals that it felt strange and almost wrong if Kurt wasn’t by his side. He turned back to Sebastian when he began to speak again.
“Will I be lucky enough to see your face there? It would be a shame if you didn’t show.” Sebastian pretended to whisper behind his hand, “I also heard a rumor that there’ll be plenty of booze.”
“And plenty of boos?” Blaine joked, but Sebastian just quirked an eyebrow at him as it flew above his head. “Because it’s Halloween...? Never mind. Yeah, I’ll be there.”
“I’ll be there, too,” Adam said, grinning at Blaine. “It should be a good time. Shouldn’t we head over to our places now, though, Seb?” Adam asked him. “We’re about to begin running scenes.”
Sebastian let out an exaggerated sigh but then smiled at Adam. “Okay. I’m done here anyway.”
Just then, Kurt spoke up from behind Blaine, causing Blaine to whip around, a wide grin automatically taking over his face at the sight of him.
“So, is this shindig a costume party, or what?”
Sebastian scoffed, “There’s no need if you’re going for a look that’ll frighten everyone.”
“Why not get Adam to dress up as Pumbaa, and you’ll have the perfect couples costumes,” Kurt shot back with a smirk.
“Throw on a dress, and when you walk into the room, people will think Joan Rivers has risen from the dead.”
“It’s a good thing I’m a phenomenal actor and can pretend to like you, brother, because I really don’t. At all.” Kurt crossed his arms with finality.
Blaine’s eyes grew wide at the exchange, astounded by the sass coming from both of them and at their ability to match wits, even though they were being rather cruel. He wondered what he’d missed that caused so much animosity between the two who were having a pissing match like territorial dogs.
“That’s enough,” Blaine finally spoke up. “Weren’t you leaving, Sebastian?”
“Yes, he was,” Adam said pointedly, taking hold of his upper arm to lead him away. “C’mon now, Seb.”
Kurt couldn’t help himself, and he was a second away from sticking his tongue out at Sebastian like a five-year-old, but he refrained. A second later, his phone dinged, completely distracting him, and he pulled it out on reflex.
“Good god, does he ever stop texting you?” Blaine practically growled on impulse.
Kurt froze, taken aback by the comment and Blaine’s attitude. “Excuse me?”
“He’s right over there - in the same room - and you’re still glued to your phone.”
“How do you even know who’s texting me?” Kurt asked, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at Blaine.
“It’s Chandler, isn’t it?”
Blaine hadn’t realized how loud he’d gotten until the entire auditorium fell silent and turned to look at him, including Chandler who’d heard his name and, curious, made his way over to the pair.
“What about me?” Chandler asked, a slightly bemused grin on his face as he looked between Kurt and Blaine.
They were both quiet until Kurt finally answered, addressing Chandler but not taking his eyes off of Blaine’s. “Nothing, Chandler. Blaine was just wondering who texted me.”
“Oh. Yep, that was me. I’m sorry, do I text too much?”
Blaine wanted to say ‘yes’, but he bit his tongue.
“No,” Kurt said, “but we should put our phones away now. Jesse is probably growing impatient for us to get in our places to begin.”
Kurt turned away to head toward the stage alongside Chandler, but Blaine called out to stop him.
He turned around. “What?”
“Are you...are you going to the party?”
Kurt’s expression softened a bit. “I don’t know. I might. I guess it depends on whether or not I can manage to drag Rachel along.”
“Well, I hope to see you there,” he said earnestly.
Kurt swallowed and opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by Jesse St. James calling out for everyone to get in their places. Without another word, he turned his back on Blaine and headed toward the stage.
Chapter 4: Act IV
“Welcome to my abode, which is anything but humble.” Unique, who was decked out in the most magnificent Maleficent costume, held the door open wide, and with a Vanna White flourish of her arm and a bright smile, said, “Come on in!”
Kurt stepped cautiously over the threshold into the stunningly spacious, open-layout apartment alongside Rachel - currently the Elphaba to his Fiyero -, followed closely behind by Brody, who had actually beaten Kurt to the punch and invited Rachel along. Kurt made out better though: Rachel had been his good friend for years, so he got to claim her as his costume partner. Any other time, he would have fought Rachel to play the part of Elphaba, but Kurt wasn’t going to go to any extreme for this particular party. Besides, he already had the makings of a Fiyero costume in his wardrobe. With Kurt in a short-sleeved white dress shirt, red satin waistcoat, khakis, and knee-high brown leather boots and Rachel in her black dress, hat, and full green makeup, they made the perfect pair, turning a handful of heads as they entered.
What sounded like a pop-funk-rock mix hit their ears, and the music filled the space, prompting a few to dance. However, most guests opted to find a comfortable corner or spot to relax, drink, and chat.
“Excuse me for a moment...” Brody slid a bottle of liquor out from inside his jacket and made his way toward a table that was laid out with food, snacks, and drinks.
Rachel turned to Kurt, her eyebrows raised and raising her voice slightly to be heard over the music. “It’s a sausage fest in here. Am I really the only person without a penis at this party?”
“I don’t think so,” Kurt said, peering around, but then pointed when he spotted someone with long, golden locks and flashy golden heels. “Over there.”
The woman turned around, and Kurt immediately recognized Aiden in full Hedwig garb and makeup. Aiden smiled and waved when he saw Kurt, who winced when Rachel unexpectedly smacked his upper arm.
“Ow,” Kurt said, rubbing the assaulted spot. “What was that for?”
“That’s a man in drag, Kurt,” Rachel hissed.
“No, that’s a woman who suffered a botched sex change in order to escape communist East Berlin,” Kurt corrected, grinning.
Rachel huffed. “Whatever. Looks like we weren’t the only ones who chose to dress up as Broadway characters.” She suddenly grabbed him around the elbow, pulling him closer. “You won’t leave me, right, Kurt? The only other person I know here is Brody, and he’s very clearly friends with almost everyone and probably won’t pay me much attention.”
“Then why don’t you ask him to introduce you to his friends? Regardless, I’m not going to just wander off. I’m not really the socializing type, as you know; if we get separated, you’ll most likely find me at the table near the food.”
Kurt’s eyes strayed toward said table as he spoke, and then his gaze fell upon three guys who were seated just beyond it, two of whom looked deep in conversation, and his stomach turned. He promptly tuned them out and honed in on the large bowl of Doritos sitting on the far corner.
An expression of obvious annoyance was plastered on Adam’s face as Sebastian inched his way closer to Blaine, who seemed completely oblivious and unfazed as they carried on their conversation. With a groan of frustration made inaudible by the noise surrounding them, Adam rose to his feet, straightening out the top of his Peter Pan costume before looking around to see if there were any newcomers, someone who might appreciate his company more than the guy he’d shown up with.
“Why don’t you have another beer?” Sebastian suggested, offering Blaine an unopened bottle.
“Sure. Thanks,” Blaine said as his friend popped off the cap with the metallic blue bottle opener on his keyring. “I don’t wanna drink too much, though. I wasn’t planning to stay that long.” He took the beer and sipped it.
“Oh, why not? You should stay. And why not have a few more drinks and a little fun? It’s Halloween, Blaine. You’ve been working hard all semester, and you deserve a break,” Sebastian said, leaning into Blaine as he tucked a bit of his long, dark, curly wig behind his ear, setting his large tricorne hat slightly askew.
“I don’t know. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to let loose a little.” He drank more deeply, offering Sebastian a genial smile.
“Blaine!” Brody practically shouted, startling him and Sebastian. He placed his hand at Rachel’s back and gently guided her forward. “This is Rachel Berry. She’s been dying to meet you.”
Rachel beamed and waved. “Hello, Blaine.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Rachel,” Blaine said, extending his free hand, though he was confused by Brody’s introduction. It wasn’t as if he was any kind of celebrity, and he wondered how Rachel even knew who he was.
“Likewise.” Rachel leaned forward and shook his hand, letting go quickly. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Orsino.” Her eyes were twinkling as if she was holding back from blurting out a huge secret. “I’m Kurt’s roommate.”
At that, Blaine perked up, rising to his feet to really take her in. It hit him that she probably had not arrived alone, and he turned his head to quickly glance around before looking back at her. “You’re his roommate.” It finally all clicked. “Kurt...is he here?”
“Why, yes. He’s my Fiyero tonight,” she said, grabbing the skirt of her dress and doing a sort of curtsy and partial spin to show off her costume.
“You make a fabulous Elphaba,” Blaine said, and Rachel blushed beneath all the green. “Perhaps you’ll play her one day soon on the Great White Way.”
“Oh, gosh, you flatter me. It’s always a possibility. I do have the experience and the talent, and it would be a dream come true,” she gushed, entering a daze as she stared fondly at Blaine, entranced by his unbelievably golden eyes and kind smile.
“Confidence will get you everywhere, and I’m sure you’re right,” Blaine said. “I look forward to seeing you in the show.”
Rachel smiled warmly. “I like you. I can tell you’re a kindred soul.” Her eyes flicked down to the bottle in his hand. “What are you drinking? Mind if I join you, so we can continue this conversation?”
“No, not at all. There’s beer, but if you want something else, I could show you where it’s at.”
Blaine nodded. “I can help you with that.”
“Lead the way, then!”
Sebastian had been watching the entire exchange, his jaw dropping when Blaine walked away to escort Rachel to the alcohol. While they were chatting, Brody had wandered off, and Rachel hadn’t noticed his absence at all. She had a new willing companion, and she’d like to pick his brain a little, maybe find out how this glorious, smooth-talking, handsome gentleman could possibly be real and if there was a logical reason why Kurt didn’t like him.
“So, you go here to NYADA too?” Blaine asked Rachel, pouring out some rum into a cup to mix a drink for her. “How do you like it?”
“I do, and I love it! I’ve only had one bad experience with a dance class, but it only caused me to fight harder to get ahead, because I know I’m better than what my critics say,” she said, holding her chin up high. “Otherwise, it’s wonderful here, and being in the city is all I could have hoped for. Kurt and I, we live in a studio over in Bushwick. His dad and my dads help a lot with the rent, and it’s quaint and reasonable. What about you?”
“I live on campus in a single dorm, so no roommates. I bet it’s nice to live with your best friend and have someone to come home to every night, though.”
“It is, and Kurt is wonderful! He’s always been there for me since we met in our high school’s glee club.” Rachel took the cup from Blaine and sniffed the drink before tasting it. “Mm, this is really good!”
“I have some talents,” Blaine said, shrugging.
“Don’t be so humble. From what I’ve heard, you are extremely talented. You wouldn’t have gotten the lead in Twelfth Night over Kurt if you weren’t.”
“Over Kurt...?” It hadn’t occurred to Blaine before, that Kurt had gone out for the same role and not for Viola. “Oh no. I didn’t mean - Kurt’s a really great talent, and he would have played the part even better than I ever could. I’m not better than him or anything like that.”
“The director obviously saw something in you...” Rachel took a few swigs of the drink before speaking again. “Can I ask you something?”
“Are you gay?”
Blaine snorted, nearly choking on the sip of beer he’d just taken. He coughed, chuckling and shaking his head.
“No, no, I am. I’m gay, definitely gay,” Blaine said through his laughter, composing himself the best he could.
“Honestly, I’d be surprised if you weren’t. I was raised by two gay dads, and I seem to gravitate toward like-minded people, like you - and Kurt. I guess that’s why we get along so well. It was difficult for him, growing up in Ohio and being out, you know? And I keep pushing him to go out and meet someone now that he’s in New York. I don’t think Kurt realizes how lucky any guy would be to have him.”
“Yeah...” Blaine sighed, a vivid memory of the light press of soft lips on his own invading his thoughts and briefly distracting him. “It was tough, growing up in Ohio, I mean. I’m from Westerville, but I was lucky enough to attend a private school - Dalton Academy - where no one bothered me about who I am.”
“A private school in Westerville...wait a minute...” Rachel gave Blaine a scrutinizing look. “Dalton...the Dalton Academy Warblers. You were their frontman, weren’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess. They liked to give me solos. How did you know that?”
“I knew you looked vaguely familiar. I was in New Directions.”
A clear memory and recognition flashed behind Blaine’s eyes. “Oh my god. No way. You’re the Rachel Berry. You almost single-handedly kicked our asses and took our title, and you deserved it.” He paused, thinking what a crazy coincidence, and then smiled thoughtfully. “How serendipitous to finally meet you, like this, here in New York City of all places.”
Rachel hummed in affirmation, lifting her drink to her mouth again.
Brody hadn’t wandered too far from the pair, but, being the social chameleon that he was, had already found new company, joining Aiden, Dion, and Elliott and jumping right into the conversation taking place.
“Girl, I would have done the same exact thing if that happened to me,” Aiden commented. “That’s rude as hell to interrupt any stage performance in any way, especially if I’m up there giving it my all in my full glam and glory.”
“Ms. LuPone isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and deserves the respect she demands. She’s certainly someone to aspire to be like,” Elliott said, and Dion nodded in agreement.
Brody suddenly caught sight of Jean Baptiste a few feet away. “Hey! Look who decided to show!” he called out. “Why don’t you join us?”
Much to his surprise, Jean smiled when he saw them and approached the group.
“Are you drinking anything?” Aiden asked Jean. “I can get you something.”
He shrugged. “Nah, I don’t think so. Thank you, though. I’m good.”
“Well, that’s no fun,” Brody said. “C’mon, just a beer or something...?”
“I’ll pass. I’m not sure how long I’ll be staying anyway,” Jean explained, appearing uncomfortable now.
“Do you not drink or something?”
“I, uh...it’s not that I don’t drink, it’s just that I never have,” he admitted, growing red in the face.
“Oh. Well, you’re in college now, at what I assume is your first college party, and you’re in good company. You should give it a try and experience it at least once. Here, I’ll make you something that tastes good,” Brody offered.
“I -” Jean began to protest again, but then he swallowed hard and looked around at the others, all with drinks in their hands and probably at least a little tipsy already. “Alright. I guess one drink won’t hurt.”
The other guys whooped and cheered, and Aiden took hold of Jean’s arm, practically dragging him over to the table and reaching for a shot glass.
“Let’s take shots to celebrate the popping of Jean’s cherry!” Aiden said, holding up the glass and grasping a bottle of flavored vodka.
“What is that...? ‘Cake’?” Jean read off the label. “Does it actually taste like cake?”
“Sure,” Brody said, “it’s sweet, anyway. Just try it. I think you’ll like it.”
They poured out three shots, one for Brody, one for Aiden, and the third for Jean. With a swift movement, the two friends scooped up their glasses, lightly clinked them together, and downed the vodka, setting the glasses back on the table and looking expectantly at Jean. With slight hesitation, he sniffed the shot and then threw back his head to swallow it down, grimacing a little as he set the glass beside the others.
Brody clapped him on the shoulder. “See? Was that so bad?”
Jean shook his head. “No, that was actually pretty good.”
Jean nodded, his head already feeling lighter.
At the other end of the table, Rachel was still talking Blaine’s ear off. Kurt had a cupcake halfway to his mouth when he spotted her with Blaine, and he ducked his head, pretending to not be paying attention, but he kept an eye on them and couldn’t believe how they were getting along. They looked like they’d known each other forever, how they were just standing there, stars in their eyes, drinking, smiling, and laughing, and he could only imagine what Rachel could be revealing to him. Eventually, after hearing his name mentioned a few times, Kurt could no longer stand to keep his distance.
Kurt stepped into view, interrupting their conversation. “I see you’ve met Blaine,” he said, training his eyes on Rachel.
“Oh, hey, Kurt!” Blaine greeted jovially, his eyes lighting up even more. “I’m glad you could make it to the party, since, you know, you weren’t sure you would...”
“Yes, I’m here.” He looked between Rachel and Blaine. “You two seem awfully chummy to have just met.”
“You wouldn’t believe how much I just found out about Blaine! Did you know he’s also from Ohio?” Rachel asked.
“Yeah, that sounds familiar,” Kurt said, feigning disinterest.
“Oh...pardon me.” Rachel placed her hand on her lower abdomen and made a funny face, tinged with embarrassment. “I need to use the restroom.”
“Be careful, Rach,” Kurt said. “Do you want me to accompany you?”
“No, I’ll be okay. It’s only right over there,” she said with a giggle, pointing, and then she began to take a few unsteady steps toward the open door, leaving Kurt alone with Blaine.
“So...” Blaine began, setting his now empty bottle aside on the table. “Rachel tells me that you were in show choir...the New Directions.”
“I was, though I was hardly appreciated. Rachel was our star, the only one our teacher even took seriously.”
“You resent her for that.” It wasn’t even a question.
“Sometimes.” Kurt paused. “Why does that even interest you?”
“I was in show choir, too. We competed against each other once.”
Kurt was taken aback. “What? We did?”
“Dalton Academy,” Blaine said.
Kurt was quiet in contemplation, desperately racking his brain. “Those blazers and ties...oh my god,” he said, suddenly recalling the night from a couple years prior. “Wow. You guys were really good.”
“But you won, and rightfully so.”
Kurt grew quiet again, his eyes downcast for a moment, and, when he looked back up, it was as if he was really seeing Blaine for the first time. His breath caught in his throat as an aural memory flooded back to him, one of the lead Warbler’s crooning voice, and his eyes fluttered closed as he wondered how he could have possibly forgotten a voice so sweet...
The thrill of the victory had been so immense, made even more significant now that his rival was standing before him, feeding his ego and conceding to the greatness and superiority of their show choir. But something held Kurt back from making a remark, from gloating and tearing into Blaine like he’d felt so tempted to do since he’d met him. All the anger and the resentment simply melted away, and he was immobilized and speechless.
Although he’d had two beers, Blaine was still thinking clearly, and in light of the recent revelations, he thought that he was finally beginning to understand Kurt. Underappreciated during his high school show choir career and constantly forced to live in the shadow of his best friend, most likely bullied for being out, slightly effeminate, and proud, and now he’d lost the lead male role in the play to Blaine who hadn’t even known they’d been competing - again... All the pieces were falling into place, and Kurt’s thorniness and standoffish behavior made sense. But, even though Blaine could see Kurt’s perspective, he wished that he wasn’t one of the things contributing to Kurt’s struggles and that he wasn’t on the receiving end of his bitterness.
“Are you drinking at all?” Blaine finally asked, attempting to end the bout of awkward silence that had arisen between them.
Kurt snapped back into the moment, shaking his head slowly. “No, I’m staying sober for this one.”
“I’ve only had two beers,” Blaine said, “and I think I’m good for the night. It’s not very fun to drink yourself sick anyway. Besides, would you trust some of these guys enough to become that oblivious in front of them?”
Kurt laughed. “No, I guess not.”
Across the room, Brody and Aiden were up to their usual antics, unable to help themselves, especially now that they were fueled by alcohol. Suddenly, a drunk Jean was a lot more fun to screw with, and, after a few more shots, the vodka hit him fast and hard, shattering any filter he had and knocking down the walls he always had built around him.
“Hey, hey, man...” Brody smacked Jean on the back a little harder than intended. “You are hi-larious.”
“I feel so funny!” Jean reached up and patted his face with both hands. “I’m all numb and warm.”
“I can tell you’ve never been drunk before,” Aiden said. “You can’t hold your alcohol at all. The only thing that would make this better is if you turn out to be one of those guys who turns gay when drunk!”
“Who knows...I’ve been trying new things tonight, right?” Jean’s face grew serious for a moment, his brow furrowing like he was really concentrating. “Wait. How do you know I’m straight?”
“You just told me!” Aiden said, bursting into laughter.
“Oh...I guess I did.” Jean grinned sheepishly and then wobbled on his feet. “I think I need to sit down. The whole room is spinning.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll take you to the couch,” Brody said, offering his arm to Jean to keep him steady.
Aiden burst into another fit of laughter as he followed closely behind the pair.
Almost as immediately as his butt hit the cushions, Jean keeled over on his side, his eyes closing and body collapsing heavily into the couch.
“Whoa, is he okay?” Aiden asked, genuinely concerned.
Brody reached over and shook him a few times, and when he didn’t respond, he felt his pulse. With a shrug, he turned back around to face his friend.
“He’s out cold. Just passed the fuck out.” He looked hard at Jean again. “He’s sleeping like a baby. Can you believe it?”
“I wonder if he’ll remember any of this night,” Aiden said.
“Shit, probably not.”
“Better make it memorable then, right?”
“What are you talking about, Aiden?” Brody spoke slowly, a wary expression on his face.
Aiden pulled a black eyeliner pencil out from the back pocket of his denim skirt and held it up, his mouth curling into a mischievous grin.
“You just carry that shit around? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”
“No, it’s for my costume, silly.”
“And what are you gonna do with it, pray tell?”
Aiden popped off the cap. “Leave my mark.” And then he brought the tip of the pencil to the forehead of their unconscious costar and went to work.
It seemed that the music grew louder as the time passed, and guests were stumbling about, entering and exiting the bathroom, drinking more and exhausting the food and snack supply, while gradually cutting out to head elsewhere for the remainder of the night or calling it a night and heading home.
“It’s been lovely talking with you, Blaine, but I’m gonna head back to the loft with Brody now,” Rachel said, leaning her head on his shoulder and giving him an awkward side hug. “Are you coming, Kurt?”
“Uh, I think I’ll stay a little longer. You two go do your thing, and I’ll be back before you know it. On second thought, I’ll knock loudly before entering the loft.”
“We’ll see you later then, Kurt,” Brody said with a parting wave. Rachel took his hand, and they exited into the hall on their way out of the building to catch a train back to Bushwick.
Kurt and Blaine continued to carry on an easy and casual conversation, while the other guests at the party moved around them and carried on their shenanigans, games, loud, drunken conversations, and otherwise.
There was one particularly restless guest who’d finally decided he’d had enough and might benefit more from another course of action than what he’d initially planned for his evening.
Captain Hook prodded Adam in the back a little too hard in attempt to get his attention, succeeding, but not without the man becoming miffed. Sebastian swiftly pulled the plastic prop off his right hand and carelessly tossed it aside.
When Peter Pan whipped around, he remained angry for only a split second, because Hook’s hands found his waist, and his thumbs pressed firmly into his hips, drawing Adam closer and setting his skin on fire.
Sebastian had spent most of the night watching Blaine and chugging drink after drink, and now he was barely standing, his vision blurred, holding onto his scene partner and grinning lasciviously at him.
“Listen, Adam. I am drunk - I am very, very drunk right now and bored and horny, and I need to fffuck,” Sebastian slurred. “And you...you’re here, always right here, and I could tear that ass up. Fuck.”
“Are you fucking serious?” Adam asked with all due skepticism.
“You want this, don’t you? All of this?” With a sweeping motion, Sebastian gestured to his chest and groin. “You can have it. I’m letting you have it...I’m gonna give it to you so hard...and I’m so hard.”
Sebastian’s chest was now flush with Adam’s, and he was pressing into him, his hard-on unbelievably noticeable against Adam’s thigh, while his mouth found Adam’s ear and neck.
“You know what your problem is?”
“That I’m an animal?” Sebastian growled, nipping at Adam’s earlobe and rolling his hips to grind against him.
Despite the pleasant chills running the course of his body, Adam managed to maintain his composure. “Ha! No. You’re incredibly attractive, and you know it. And you’re completely intolerable and a complete asshole. And, now, while what little judgment you possess is impaired, you want to fuck me, which you’ll most likely regret in the morning. I could give in, be the best lay you’ve ever had, and it will still mean nothing to you.”
“So, what? Does that mean you don’t wanna fuck me?”
Adam didn’t respond for a minute, holding himself back, yet not resisting. His entire body grew rigid to compensate for how weak he was currently feeling as Sebastian dragged his fingertips down the front of his shirt and then slid his hand under the hem and beneath the fabric, pressing heated skin against heated skin.
Adam swallowed hard, his voice coming out strangled. “I never said that.”
Sebastian grabbed his ass, kneading it roughly before stepping back and circling around Adam, wrapping his arms around his waist from behind. “Then go,” he said, placing his hands flat on Adam’s back. Sebastian gave him a little shove in the direction of the bathroom. “We don’t have all night, and I can’t wait any longer. I’m going to take you to Neverland, Peter...just once, and you’ll get hooked.”
Adam couldn’t hold back the pitiful whimper that escaped him, and he looked back only once at Sebastian before pulling him into the bathroom and shutting the door behind them.
The lock clicked, latching securely.
In the main room, music continued to pump through the speakers, but it was late in the evening, and the party was winding down as more and more people departed. Blaine was delighted that Kurt had chosen to stay and keep him company, and he hoped this was the turning over of a new leaf for them.
They’d migrated to another section of the apartment to be spectators to a drinking game, having no desire to participate. Watching and commentating was fun enough, and Kurt and Blaine had each other laughing throughout, often aimed at their sloppy drunk peers.
“He’s going to feel that in the morning,” Kurt said, chuckling.
“Oh, yeah, for sure.” Blaine froze and made a funny face as if something strange had hit his senses. “What is that banging noise?” he asked, looking around.
Kurt paused and listened intently. “Um, I think it’s coming from the bathroom...”
Unique seemed to appear out of nowhere, sliding across the floor and holding her arms out to block them from accessing the room. “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you! Trust me.”
Then Blaine heard what sounded like a grunt and a low, drawn-out moan, and he knew for certain that whatever was going on in there was nothing he wanted to walk in on.
Kurt slapped a hand over his mouth and stood there in complete shock and disbelief.
“But, who -?
He nudged Blaine to get his attention, and Blaine turned, mouth agape.
“Did you notice Sebastian and Adam leave?”
Blaine glanced around, taking quick inventory of the remaining guests. “No, but...you don’t think...?”
Kurt nodded, his face turning a shade of red. “I think that it’s time for me to get out of here. I don’t want to be around when whoever’s in there comes out. And, anyway, I’m exhausted.”
“I understand. It was - it was really nice talking to you, Kurt,” Blaine said. “I’ll see you on Monday - I’m sure everyone will be talking about the party then. You ready for Hell Week?” he added quickly.
“Oh, gosh, yeah. I can’t believe that the show is only a week away! It feels like auditions were just yesterday, but we’ve put a lot of work into it. I’m sure the sketchy stuff will start to really come together during full dress rehearsals - it always does, somehow.”
“Yeah, definitely,” Blaine said.
Kurt made his way toward the door, Blaine walking closely behind. He stepped out into the hallway, and before he took off, he turned back around to say goodbye to Blaine one last time, an almost melancholy smile on his face.
Hell Week was everything it was expected to be and more, and, once in the throes of it, it was always easy to understand how the week leading up to opening night got its name. Dress rehearsals were long and hectic, often cutting into mealtimes and sleep schedules, and some members of the cast and crew were caught napping in odd places or sneaking snacks out from where they were cleverly concealed inside the voluminous, puffy breeches of their Elizabethan costumes.
The costumes were an entirely different story and another obstacle to overcome. While they had previously had fittings to have the costumes sized just right, for some reason a few of the costumes seemed to have been altered and were now ill-fitting in very specific and unfortunate areas, which set off Jesse St. James for nearly an hour. Fortunately, Kurt had arrived, coffee in hand, and swiftly went to work calming Jesse down and reassuring him that all he needed was a proper sewing machine, supplies, and one evening, and he could fix everything.
The aftermath of the Halloween party created even more tension on and off stage. Blaine couldn’t have been more right about the hot topic of conversation following the party, and some of the obviously fabricated stories about the happenings there being circulated were hilarious. However, the ones that turned out to be true were astounding and would surely follow the poor individuals involved through their college careers like a relentless phantom.
Jean Baptiste had woken up in a dark closet and stumbled out into a strange apartment only to come face to face with Unique who immediately gave him a look of immense pity and took him into the bathroom to clean him up. That’s where he discovered the very detailed depiction of a penis smack dab in the center of his forehead, expertly drawn in eyeliner pencil.
Luckily, Unique had spent the early hours of the morning disinfecting every surface in the bathroom with bleach, including the sink, toilet, and floor before she’d taken him in there and gently scrubbed the likeness of male genitalia off his face. Although they’d had a heart-to-heart of sorts, Jean swore that he would never again attend a college party or trust his drunk peers. Never again.
By the second dress rehearsal, everyone knew all the dirty details about what happened between Adam and Sebastian. Several members of the cast were doing an awfully lot of whispering behind their backs, but no one was bold enough to mention it to Sebastian’s face. Sebastian was anything but shy, though, and had absolutely no shame. So when Chandler caught him with his tongue shoved down Adam’s throat, hidden between the racks of the costume closet, the gossip and speculation died down; it was no longer a source of amusement now that they were apparently an item.
The cast continued to toil through the week, perfecting the blocking and all the technical aspects of the production, and, when Thursday evening fell upon them, Jesse was nearly in tears at how flawlessly it all came together.
The director was taken by surprise that night, and pleasantly so, when an unexpected female visitor entered the auditorium carrying a large tray of cookies. She tapped him on the shoulder, introducing herself, “Rachel Berry, Freshman and former member of national champion show choir, New Directions,” and then waxed poetic about how impressed she was by his eye for talent and perfect casting and ability to single-handedly put the show together.
Kurt watched them from a distance, shaking his head as Rachel turned on her charm, and he could almost see literal sparks flying between them as they spoke enthusiastically about the play and other projects and aspirations.
“I brought these cookies to celebrate all you’ve done as well as the hard work the cast has put into this production,” Rachel said, popping the plastic lid off the tray to offer the sweets to everyone now gathered around the pair. After a long, strenuous rehearsal, stomachs were rumbling and mouths were watering as many eagerly dug into the blessing in the form of sugary treats.
Jesse took a bite of one of the cookies and let out an ecstatic moan. “These are amazing.” He gazed fondly into Rachel’s eyes. “Thank you,” he said with utmost sincerity.
She giggled. “You’re welcome.”
Once the cookies were consumed by the cast and crew, Rachel waited patiently for Kurt to change out of his costume in order to accompany him home to their apartment.
“You certainly made sure to make an impression,” Kurt remarked as they rode the subway back toward their neighborhood.
“Oh, please, Kurt. Like you wouldn’t have done the same. I can’t help that your director is exceptionally handsome and quite charming.”
Kurt rolled his eyes, shifting his grip on the bar and planting his feet to steady himself as the train rocked on the tracks. “What about Brody? I thought you two were together.”
“He’s wonderful and all and has a totally hot body, but we’re not exclusive. Besides, Jesse St. James is not only a senior with experience and influence at NYADA and in the New York theatre scene, but he’s also an alum of a nationally ranked show choir, so we have a lot in common.”
“And the truth comes out,” Kurt said. “You’ve Googled him, haven’t you. Is everything you do strategic? Because seeing you in action is both impressive and severely unsettling.”
“There is no playing nice in this business, and you of all people should know that by now. No doubt, Jesse will remember my name and my face now, which is bound to make me a shoo-in for a lead in his next project. It’s called networking, and you’d benefit from getting over your fears and insecurities and trying it for once.”
“You heard me. There’s a perfectly good guy right under your nose who has the potential to be something really good for you, professionally and otherwise, and you’ve decided that you don’t need other people, as if you’re perfectly capable of doing it all on your own. Well, look where that’s gotten you so far.”
Kurt’s jaw dropped. “Screw you, Rachel! I have been doing it all on my own, in case you didn’t notice. Where it’s gotten me so far?! I got into NYADA by blowing Madam Tibideaux away with my audition. Now I’m starring in a Shakespearean production, and it’s only my first semester!”
“Yeah, and you lost the lead you wanted to someone else - to Blaine. Did you ever think that that’s the problem? Attempting to stay in your safe little bubble and not asking for help while blaming everyone else for your shortcomings? You’re my best friend, Kurt, and that’s why I’m being brutally honest. I’m telling you this because I care, and I think that you should get over yourself and give Blaine a chance.”
“You’re unbelievable, you know that? Is that really what all of this is about? Blaine? I know you’re concerned about my lack of lovelife, but that’s my business and not yours.”
“But, I don’t get it, Kurt. You like him, and you can’t hide it. I’ve seen the way you look at him, like at the party, and even when you talk about him as if you can’t stand him, everything you say is praise and admiration. What’s so wrong with liking him? You can’t allow jealousy to get in the way of friendships and potential relationships; you’ll end up being unhappy and unsatisfied forever.”
As if on cue, the train slowed to a halt, jerking them a bit when they reached their stop, and Rachel and Kurt stepped out onto the platform to make their way up to the street. Kurt was quiet, Rachel’s words tortuously swimming through his mind. He stuffed his gloved hands in the pockets of his coat and hung his head as they continued along the damp, cracked sidewalk, shivering as the brisk, early November air hit the exposed skin of his neck.
Once inside the loft, Kurt shuffled into his room, pulling the curtains closed. He slowly stripped off his coat and boots and hung up his outerwear, still deep in thought.
He hated Rachel right now, and he hated her because she was right, though he would never admit it if he could help it. Kurt was too proud, and he was jealous, jealous of all that Blaine was accomplishing, as if it was all to spite Kurt. It wasn’t, and it wasn’t fair that Kurt had transferred his frustrations onto a single person, a boy who was only trying his best to make it like everyone else at NYADA. There would always be competition in show business, fights that Kurt might never win, but when it really came down to it, he knew that having allies could only make the struggle a lot more bearable.
When Kurt had first laid eyes on Blaine Anderson, he knew he was going to hate him. Their first encounter was one Kurt would never be able to forget if he tried, because everything about Blaine was inconceivably perfect, and Kurt desperately wanted to be him. Kurt knew Blaine’s type, confident and secure in his abilities, conventionally attractive - gorgeous, even - and universally likable, and he was terrified that he would fall under his spell, lose all his focus, and foolishly, willingly seek shelter in yet another shadow of someone he was close to, only to never allow his own light to properly shine. To be vulnerable felt like weakness to Kurt, but he was realizing that perhaps being too hard around the edges was what was truly holding him back.
Maybe it was time to stop seeing Blaine as an oponent and to start seeing him as a friend.
Kurt fell asleep almost instantly when his head hit his pillow, and he would have a much-needed sleep. In less than twenty-four hours, he’d be stepping onto the stage for opening night.
The velvet curtains were drawn open, and a reverent silence fell over the the audience like a veil. A spotlight illuminated the somber face and form of the dark, handsome Duke as he sat lovesick and pining for the unattainable, most divinely beautiful Countess, for whom he could recite all the poetry in the world - if only she would hear him.
Out of the rough seas and fresh from the shipwreck, Viola stumbled along the coast of Illyria, now brotherless, the Captain by her side, made stronger by the peril and subsequent loss. The scrappy, clever Viola took up the guise of Cesario and walked right into Duke Orsino’s life, unknowingly about to change the course of his affections and world.
It was their best performance yet, and all members of the cast were feeding off the energy from the audience and charged by generous applause and laughter that filled the house at all the appropriate moments. Before they knew it, they were in the fifth act, nearing the finale and conclusion.
Jean Baptiste delivered his final line with such genuine passion and dramatic flair, “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you!”
“He hath been most notoriously abused,” Unique said, pity in her expression and tone.
“Pursue him and entreat him to a peace.” Blaine turned now to Kurt. “He hath not told us of the captain yet. When that is known and golden time convents, a solemn combination shall be made of our dear souls. Meantime, sweet sister,” Blaine reached out and took Kurt’s hands, his voice dropping into a lower register and becoming softer, “we will not part from hence. Cesario, come, for so you shall be, while you are a man. But when in other habits you are seen, Orsino’s mistress and his fancy’s queen.”
Kurt’s breath hitched as Blaine leaned in and kissed him on the mouth, so tenderly and sweetly. It was unlike any other stage kiss Kurt had experienced and not at all like they’d practiced, and he melted into it, his eyes falling closed. It seemed to last longer than it should have, with Blaine’s lips moving expertly yet cautiously against his own, like they were learning the curves of Kurt’s mouth. It was charged and intense, and just as Kurt’s lips parted in want of more, Chandler burst out into his final lines, as if trying to give them a hint that they were supposed to exit the stage. Kurt realized he was getting carried away and suddenly, although somewhat reluctantly, pulled away.
Kurt looked into Blaine’s shining, questioning eyes, for they were unmistakably Blaine’s and no longer the Duke’s, and he took a step back, stumbling a bit before breaking into a run backstage, making a beeline for the dressing room before his tears hit. He barely heard the roaring applause from the audience and hadn’t noticed that Blaine was trailing closely behind him.
Chapter 5: Act V
“Kurt,” Blaine called out breathlessly as he crossed the threshold into the dressing room. “What happened out there? Why did you run off -”
Kurt turned toward Blaine, revealing his face, his eyes red-rimmed and cheeks wet.
Blaine’s mouth fell slightly agape. “Are you crying...?”
“You act like you’re blind or something - of course I’m crying, you jerk.” Kurt took a deep, quivering breath in attempt to calm himself before collapsing into a chair by the makeup vanity.
Blaine was taken aback. “What...? What did I do wrong?”
“I - I don’t know. But I want to know. I want to know what you were thinking when you...when you kissed me like that. I wanna know what happened out there, Blaine. I wanna know why I’m feeling like this.” Kurt’s voice broke on the final word, and he sniffled and wiped at his cheek with his hand.
Seeing Kurt in tears made Blaine’s heart heavy, and he felt responsible for the state he was in. “I...I’m sorry, I didn’t mean...” he began on reflex, but then he stopped himself. “No, wait. Actually, I’m not sorry at all.”
He moved closer, pulling some tissues out of a box and offering them to Kurt before taking the adjacent chair, repositioning it, and sitting down to face him.
“You want to know what happened out there, Kurt? I kissed you like that because it was something I just couldn’t hold back any longer, and I didn’t really plan it, but it happened, and you have no idea how glad I am that it did.”
“And why is that?” Kurt said indignantly. “So you could finally say you got the best of Kurt Hummel?”
“Because it wasn’t just a kiss...it meant something to me, Kurt.”
Kurt’s expression softened, and his eyes grew wide, still glistening from tears that had ceased. His lips parted slightly with a sharp intake of breath, as if to speak, but he’d been rendered speechless.
Blaine sighed wearily, finding it difficult to look at Kurt, and directed his gaze toward his hands in his lap instead, distracting himself by fiddling with the costume ring on his finger. “I’ve been feeling this way for a while, wanting to get closer to you. I’ve had these feelings for you since, well, we started this whole thing.” His eyes slowly met Kurt’s again. “But you’re so hard to read, and I felt like you were constantly pushing me away no matter what I did. Then you let your walls down at the party, just a little, and I got a glimpse of who you really are. And I...I love who you are - smart and funny, talented, delightfully stubborn and full of sass...but, most of all, I love how you’re not afraid to be exactly who you are, and I’ve never met anyone else like you. I really, really like you, Kurt. It just wasn’t until tonight that I decided to take advantage of our roles.”
Kurt felt another tear escape and roll down his cheek. Did Blaine really think all that about him? All this time, since he’d met Blaine on that first day, Kurt saw Blaine as the confident one, the one who had it all together and figured out, the enviable one, and he’d both hated and admired him for it. It was strange to see Blaine look so small and vulnerable, so utterly human, and to hear him put into words much of how Kurt had felt about Blaine, only directed towards Kurt, like a mirror of his mind without even so much as a hint of sarcasm or bitterness or judgment. And it killed him. Kurt had created a fiction in his head because he secretly believed that Blaine was too good for him, making Blaine into a goliath. So, he’d put on his armor in his presence as if he had to go to war and had something he needed to prove, as if there was something to be won by fighting him. It had always been easier to hide within fiction than to face reality. Now, with all their walls down, sitting there, face to face, Kurt was disillusioned. There was no war but the war Kurt was fighting with himself. Blaine's words were honest and kind, and Kurt allowed them in to wash away his prejudices and replace the rocky foundation he'd built so that he could begin to build upon something more solid, more real.
And then there was the way he kissed him...
“It was cruel, Blaine, kissing me like that in front of all those people when all I could do was fight to stay in character.” Kurt was trying hard to hold back a grin, and he was afraid Blaine could see right through him.
“I know, and I am sorry about that -”
“It wasn’t fair, but...” Kurt bit his lower lip, looking up at Blaine through wet lashes.
“But what...?” Blaine asked, his mouth quirking into a small, hopeful grin.
“I’m glad it happened too. I’m a wreck because it was something I didn’t know I wanted so badly until it happened, and now that it has, I don’t know what to do with it.”
“I meant what I said, that it meant something to me. And I’m not ready to pretend it never happened. I really like you and care about you, and I want to be more than friends, Kurt - if that’s not too much to ask.”
Kurt grew bashful, finally allowing himself to smile. “It’s not.”
“You know...” Blaine began, leaning forward and entering Kurt’s space, “there are still two weeks of shows, two weeks to do it all over again.”
“I know...” Kurt spoke softly, hesitantly. “Why not rehearse now?”
An impish smile graced his lips as he met Blaine’s gaze.
Seeing Kurt smile like that set Blaine’s heart racing and caused his stomach to flutter in anticipation.
"From the beginning...?"
Kurt nodded, swallowing.
Blaine gently, somewhat hesitantly brought his hand to Kurt’s cheek, cupping it and lightly brushing his thumb across the tear-stained skin there. Kurt giggled as the ruffle on Blaine's sleeve tickled his neck, but he didn't pull away.
“If music be the food of love, play on...”
Blaine recited the poetry so melodiously, his voice deeper and softer than usual, making Orsino’s words his own. And those beautiful words, combined with the gentle yet firm pressure of his warm palm at Kurt's cheek sent a pleasant shiver through Kurt’s body, causing him to flush from his head to his toes.
Without wasting another second, Blaine leaned in, capturing Kurt’s mouth with his own and tenderly, fervently pressing his lips to Kurt’s soft, willing lips.