Raising his anxious gaze from the choir room floor, Kurt swallowed and gave a slight nod. "So who's first?" He glanced at Rachel, then his step-brother, already knowing who was going to take the lead.
"I'll go first," Finn responded as expected. "I've got a good feeling about it." Rachel's face lost a little bit of her nervous expression and she bobbed her head up and down firmly, smiling at Kurt. He kept his eyes trained on Finn as the taller boy extended his hand to lift the plain white envelope from The Actor's Studio.
His attention snapped to Rachel when she suddenly spoke. "No matter what happens…we're all here for each other."
Finn smiled warily and opened the envelope. Rachel crossed over to stand by Kurt. Finn slowly scanned the opening paragraph of the letter; his eyes clouded as the message became clear. He didn't look up from the words as he quietly said, "I didn't get in."
Kurt and Rachel looked at him in shock. Slowly, Kurt's eyes closed. It wasn't the dream he had thought Finn would pursue. If he had to be honest, the night of Finn's unexpected confession to Rachel that he wanted to be an actor, Kurt had asked him during dinner whatever happened to his dream of being a drummer in a band or even joining the army. Finn had almost looked excited about joining Puck in Los Angeles for a minute there before he remembered Rachel's existence. Still, if going to New York and studying at The Actor's Studio while making a life with Rachel was his step-brother's dream, Kurt had wanted it to work. But it hadn't worked.
Rachel quickly went to her fiancée's side, stroking his arm reassuringly. "It's okay."
It wasn't reassuring. Finn looked lost. "Please somebody else just open theirs."
"I'll go next," Kurt murmured, taking his own envelope from the stack. He almost ripped the letter, it was opened so fast. He only read six words, and those six words told him all he needed to know: Thank you for your interest but. "I didn't get in." His gaze lifted to focus somewhere above the top edge of the paper he clutched in his fingers. "I didn't get in."
"Kurt, I'm so sorry." Rachel came over to look at the letter but he had already rolled it in his hands.
Finn placed a hand on his shoulder. "Your turn, Rachel."
Kurt glanced up at Finn as Rachel stepped away from them with her letter, allowing the taller boy to hug him closer to his side. When had this year turned into what it had? He wasn't Senior Class President. He hadn't played Tony in West Side Story. And now he wasn't going to New York. He wasn't attending NYADA. He had lost so much precious time that could have been spent with Blaine. He'd practically disowned Mercedes as his best friend for the majority of the year. And now what would happen?
He turned some of his attention towards Rachel as she perused her NYADA letter. She turned around and searched their eyes for a moment before speaking. "I got in."
One of Kurt's eyebrows twitched upwards and he blinked. Hard. She got in.
Of course she did.
Mercedes handed Kurt a steaming cup of Earl Grey tea and then took her place next to him on her bed, their backs supported by several pillows propped up against the headboard. "So…let me get this straight. You audition for the dean of NYADA; she praises the fact that you made a risky song choice, and says that your performance would have made Hugh Jackson proud. Rachel Berry auditions for the dean of NYADA, chokes twice, stalks the dean when it's clear she's been rejected, and…she got in?"
He nodded, taking a long sip. Mercedes frowned. "What the hell?"
Kurt sighed and picked up the remote that lay on the nightstand on his side. "I really thought I had it, 'Cedes. Carmen Tibideaux doesn't compliment people. She makes people cry. But she said she liked my performance and I thought…I thought I was in."
"You were amazing on that stage. You're always amazing when you sing." A small smile appeared on the diva's face, and she nudged him in the side playfully. "Except for that one time sophomore year when you blew a high F."
Kurt gave a low chuckle. "It was for a really good cause."
"True. And I know you would do anything for Papa Burt. I just wish you hadn't blown the chance to sing a solo at Sectionals and you know he felt the same way." Mercedes searched her friend's face and then reached over to take the remote from him, turning off the television and shifting her body to face him completely. "So what are you going to do, Kurt? You could probably stalk Carmen Tibideaux until she changes her mind."
"No, I'm done with NYADA. I want to spend this summer with you and Blaine and Dad." Kurt gave another quiet sigh. "People I've been neglecting all year."
"And after the summer? What then?"
"I'll go with you to Los Angeles and become your own personal fashion designer. You'll be the best dressed backup singer there."
Mercedes leaned forward after rolling her eyes. "See that's it right there."
"That's what right there?"
"Your dream! The one thing you've always wanted to do! Kurt Hummel, I'm gonna be honest with you right now. I don't know where this whole going-to-Broadway-with-Berry dream came from. You've really wanted two things since I first met you: to sing a solo and to dress people. What happened to that?"
"Rachel Berry." Mercedes shook her head. "Sometimes…do you feel like we're just…props for her? It's kind of what Tina was talking about before Nationals, right? We get nothing. She gets everything she wants."
"You mean it's like we're set up to fail because Rachel's always supposed to be on top." Mercedes nodded. Kurt crossed his legs on the bed and took another sip of his tea. "Nah. That'd be absurd. Besides, you got a recording contract. Quinn's got Yale. Mike's going to study in Chicago at the freaking Joffrey Ballet Academy. Santana got that full scholarship to the University of Louisville. Blaine and I are ridiculously happy together. You and Sam are madly in love. Some things worked out just fine."
Mercedes smiled, thinking back to Sam's beaming face as the juniors had sang to the graduating seniors that past week. Artie had given a weird speech on how it was dedicated to Finn because it was such a sacrifice for him to be in glee club (Mercedes had shared an incredulous look with Quinn then. It seemed to her that of all of the football boys who had "sacrificed" their reputation for the club, Puck had given up the most.) None of the juniors were really singing for Finn. Before Sam had even gotten up from his seat, he'd whispered to her behind Santana's back, "This one's for you, baby." His eyes had been trained on her almost the entire time, a smile never completely leaving his face.
Mercedes blinked and focused on Kurt's face. "Yeah?"
"No daydreaming about your golden Adonis tonight. I'm having a crisis."
She patted his leg. "You had a minor setback, Kurt. I'd love you to be with me in Los Angeles but I think we both know that you need to follow your own dreams. Go to New York. The best fashion schools in the country are in New York City."
He placed his drink on the nightstand and tilted his head back until it was against the headboard. "Blaine still wants me go. As much as he hated the fact that all I've been talking about since Ms. Pillsbury told us about NYADA is auditions and New York…he wants me go if that's where I want to be. Rachel's even talking about waiting for Finn and me to get in so we can all go together."
Mercedes couldn't keep the cynicism from showing on her face. "…What?"
"Yeah, she offered to stay behind in Lima and help us perfect our auditions so we could…"
"Your audition skills are fine. She's the one who choked." Mercedes held up a perfectly manicured finger to pause herself before she said something she would regret about Rachel Berry. "Follow your dreams, whatever they are and wherever they are. I'll support you all the way."
"Really? All the way?"
Mercedes snorted. "I supported you when Rachel suddenly became your favorite diva, didn't I?"
Kurt scrunched up his nose, narrowing his eyes. "Oh she could never." He grasped both of her hands in one of his own. "I'm sorry I made you feel as though you could ever be replaced, Mercedes."
She smiled with a small shrug. "You can make it up to me by never becoming somebody's prop."
"Agreed. But you have to promise you won't sing backup forever."
Mercedes pursed her lips in a sassy grin before nodding. "Oh, this job is just the start. I'm getting that Grammy."
The two friends high-fived and then settled back to have a much needed Disney marathon.
Special thanks to mzsj for the correction!