As Burt drove through the tall, black gates of the Dalton Academy campus, a strong wave of nerves rushed through Kurt's body. He looked out his window at the brilliant blue sky and bright shining sun, and tried to accept them as omens that everything was going to be fine.
You've made the right decision. Trust yourself.
For the hundredth time Kurt reviewed the reasons why this was a good move. He'd never been challenged at McKinley, either academically or in glee club. His only challenge had been getting through the day without being slushed, assaulted, or worse. At Dalton he would receive a prestigious, high quality education in a safe environment. Assuming he auditioned for the Warblers, it would be nice to be at a school where glee club was considered cool. The student tour guide had been awfully pushy about Kurt auditioning, but it was flattering.
Above all Dalton offered protection. Prestige, peace and protection. Protection from bullies, hockey players...kisses from closeted, gay, football players.
Protection from death threats.
Kurt pushed thoughts of Karofsky from his mind as Burt pulled to a stop in front of the admissions hall.
"I'm sorry you had to do this on a Sunday, kiddo. It would have been nice for you to have two days to get settled before jumping right into classes."
Kurt switched from nervousness to guilt. This was an expensive decision. His dad had been staying open late on Saturdays to make extra money to cover tuition.
"Its fine, dad. I appreciate your working extra hours to make this possible, but promise me you won't overdo it. I don't want you having another heart attack. I'll try to come home every weekend to help."
"Oh, no you won't. No way, Kurt. Sure, I want you to come home to visit, but not every weekend. I want you to spend your weekends studying and making new friends. I'll be fine. Quit worrying. Now, go get your room key and let's get you moved in."
Burt watched Kurt climb the steps of the admissions building with a heavy heart. He knew this was the right decision, but it pained him that it had come to this. He reminded himself that his pain didn't matter. What mattered was Kurt. Kurt had already endured too much pain and too much fear, and it had started taking its toll. He was miserable all the time. Nervous and jumpy. Every morning he put on a brave face to start the day, but would arrive home with sad, dull eyes, his spirit bruised along with his body. Burt could see the light in his son's eyes starting to dim and it killed him inside. When Kurt first told him about Dalton, his immediate reaction was, out of the question. He'd always thought parents who sent their children to boarding schools were lazy and unloving. It didn't matter that Dalton was just a few hours from Lima. It still meant he wouldn't see his son every day. This and the fact that Kurt felt such a drastic move was necessary both angered and hurt Burt. He felt like both he and the school had failed his son, but at the same time, he didn't want to keep failing Kurt by forcing him to stay in a frightening and dangerous environment. Things had to change, so here they were.
Kurt profusely thanked the admissions secretary who had come in on a Sunday just to meet him and give him his keys since he couldn't come sooner.
"You're in Taft Hall, dear. Second floor, room 21. Your roommate is Doug Grayson. I should warn you. It's a rather small room, but it's all we have left this time of year."
Kurt nodded and assured her it would be fine. He was grateful to be allowed in at all. Dalton frowned on mid-year transfers, but the headmaster had been understanding of Kurt's situation and impressed with his grades. He was willing to make an exception.
Despite the secretary's warning, Kurt was still shocked when he unlocked the door of his room. It was even smaller than he expected. As he looked around it dawned on him that his roommate had been using the room as a single all to himself. Of course. Who wouldn't? He was probably less than thrilled to go from living alone to having a roommate. Kurt sighed. More reasons to feel guilty.
As Burt came through the door with the last bag, he looked around the room and frowned.
"With all the money this place costs you'd think they'd have bigger rooms. This feels a little small."
"It'll be fine. Just...cozy."
"Yeah, well I hope all your stuff can fit. I don't know why you packed so many clothes. You're going to be wearing a uniform during the week."
"All the more reason why I want to look fabulous on the weekends."
"Okay. Well, I guess I should let you get settled in."
Kurt placed his hand on his dad's shoulder. "I'm gonna miss you. I really will. I promise I'll come home often and I'll help at the shop as much as I can. I know this is expensive."
"What did I tell you, Kurt? Stop worrying and stop trying to work every weekend. I want you to study and try to have some fun. Things have been rough for you for too long. You've been through a lot. From now on I want you to just concentrate on being a kid. I mean it."
Kurt nodded and wrapped his arms around his dad's neck. "Thanks dad. I love you."
"I love you too, kiddo."
Kurt walked his dad out. As the truck disappeared out of sight, he felt the nerves return. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Relax. Everything will be fine.
He headed back to his room and studied his roommate's side, trying to get clues about the boy whose space he was invading. Was he just out, or had he gone home for the weekend? Was he upset about getting a roommate, or would he be understanding? Kurt decided to stop worrying. It wasn't his fault he was assigned this room.
He began unpacking his things and had just finished organizing his closet when the door of the room opened and a tall, muscular, brown haired boy walked in. He was wearing Dalton sweatpants and a sweat soaked t-shirt. He stopped when he saw Kurt.
"Oh, hey. Sorry. I forgot you were coming. I'm your roommate. Doug Grayson."
Kurt felt unnerved. Doug reminded him of David Karofsky. Big, tall, brown hair, name beginning with a D.
"Hi. Kurt Hummel. Nice to meet you."
Kurt watched as Doug's eyes roamed his side of the room, landing on the closet.
"You have a lot of clothes. You know we wear uniforms to class, right? It's required."
"Yes, I know. I look forward to expressing my personal style on the weekends."
Doug looked at him with raised eyebrows. He glanced at Kurt's side of the room again and then back at Kurt, obviously making a decision.
"Well, uh, welcome to Dalton." Doug pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it into a laundry basket. He grabbed a white shower caddy and a towel. "I'm gonna go take a shower. Do you wanna go to dinner with me tonight?"
Kurt smiled and gave a small laugh. "Well, you're not really my type, but okay."
"Oh..." Doug laughed nervously. "Um...I meant I can show you where the dining hall is."
Kurt nodded. "I know, and thank you. I would appreciate that."
Doug turned to leave but then stopped. He looked at Kurt for a moment.
"Um, this is probably rude, but just so there's no misunderstandings...you're gay, right?"
Wow. Okay. Kurt wasn't sure if he admired Doug's straightforwardness, or thought it was indeed a little rude. He decided to respect Doug's candidness. After all, they were going to be living together. He didn't want things awkward between them.
"Yes, I'm gay."
"Uh…okay. Well, I'm not, so…."
Kurt narrowed his eyes. Was he kidding? It felt a little like the sharing a room with Finn shit all over again.
"I wouldn't expect you to be."
"Don't worry. Like I said, you're not my type."
Kurt could have sworn he saw a flash of offense in Doug's eyes followed by embarrassment.
"Oh…I…I wasn't suggesting…I…uh…its fine that you're gay. No problem. I mean, I don't have a problem with gays…or you…or…you know. It's cool."
Doug quickly turned and left.
Kurt sighed. Well, Doug might look like David, but at least he didn't seem to have David's violent homophobic streak.
Kurt finished arranging his side of the room. Doug returned, dressed, and grabbed his book bag. "I'm going to the library. I'll be back around 6:00 pm for dinner."
Once Doug left Kurt decided to take a shower of his own to check out the bathrooms. He was impressed. They were more like the locker room of an expensive country club than a dorm bathroom. After his shower he settled on the bed with his laptop and played around on Facebook, reading Rachel's rants about the latest choir room injustices. He would definitely miss the craziness of New Directions, but he was looking forward to auditioning for the Warblers. Maybe. The guy he'd met on tour, (was it Wes or Les?) had been so excited to learn that Kurt was a countertenor, that Kurt almost felt obligated to audition. Finally someone who appreciated the unique perfection of his voice.
As if on cue there was a knock at the door. Kurt opened it to find Wes standing there with two other guys.
Wes grinned. "My intel was correct! Welcome Kurt!"
Kurt was happily surprised. "Hi!"
"Not sure if you remember me, but I'm Wes. We met on your visitation tour. This is Trent and this is David. Guys, meet Kurt Hummel, the countertenor." The two boys smiled and nodded.
"Wow. How did you know I was here?"
"You will soon learn that I have spies everywhere. It's how I keep the Warblers in line." Trent and David scoffed and rolled their eyes.
"If you're all settled in we'd love to give you a more in-depth tour than the one you got during your visit, and then you can join us for dinner."
"Oh...sure, thank you. That's really nice of you guys." Kurt quickly slid on his shoes and left a note for Doug. Even if they were here solely to talk him into auditioning for the Warblers, he'd rather have dinner with them than Doug.
Over dinner Wes talked nonstop about the wonders of being a Warbler until Trent and David insisted he give it a break. Wes reluctantly shut up and allowed the conversation to turn to more important things. Who were the hardest teachers, what to expect in certain classes, the date of the next mixer with Crawford Country Day, their sister school, and how to get away with skipping class.
Once they finished eating they went to Wes and David's room. Kurt was immediately jealous. Their room was twice the size of his.
"You guys are so lucky. I wish my room was this big."
"The super small rooms are always leftover so they go to those who bid late, those who get kicked out of their original room, or the rare mid-year transfer like yourself."
"So, did Doug bid late or get kicked out of his original room?"
Wes looked thoughtful. "I'm not really sure."
Kurt decided he would definitely find out why Doug was relegated to their shared closet room. If he was a bad roommate, he wanted to know sooner rather than later.
"Are there any single rooms?"
Wes shook his head. "No. Only the floor advisors have their own room…and Blaine."
Trent answered, a slight hero worship in his voice. "Blaine Anderson is our lead singer. Our front man. He's incredibly talented. He performs songs better than the original."
Kurt was amused by Trent's reverent tone. "Is that why he gets his own room?"
David laughed. "No. He has his own super spacious room because of his family."
Both Wes and Trent were quiet. Kurt noticed the disapproving look Wes shot David.
"Who's his family?"
There was a moment of silence before Wes answered. "The Anderson's. They're very wealthy, so Blaine's parents pay for him to have his own room."
"But aren't most Dalton families very wealthy? It seems like plenty of people here could pay to have their own room."
"Yeah. Maybe. Did I talk to you about the competition schedule?"
All three boys suddenly became very excited and interested in discussing the competition schedule. Kurt took the hint and went with the subject change.
Kurt woke the next morning feeling both excited and anxious. He was excited about his first day of classes, but very anxious about the academic expectations and workload. Transferring in the middle of the quarter meant he was behind. He would have to work hard to catch up.
By lunchtime the reality of just how hard he would have to work left him feeling overwhelmed and a little depressed. When he spotted Wes and David motioning for him to join them, he realized that he would probably have to hold off taking on any extra-curriculars. He really needed to concentrate on his studies.
Wes wouldn't hear of it.
"Nonsense, Kurt. You're a really smart guy and we'll help you. Remember, the Warblers have been around for a long time. Several generations have passed through these doors and those Warblers had the same teachers we have now." Wes lowered his voice. "We have files that can help you."
"Dossiers on every teacher and class. Copies of tests, syllabi, tip sheets. Naturally you'll still have to do all the work, but the files can help you plan and study strategically. Don't worry."
Kurt was surprised and a little concerned. He thought about the honor code he'd had to read and sign in the presence of the headmaster. Wasn't Wes talking about cheating?
Kurt was distracted from his worry by the arrival of two more Warblers who were introduced as Nick and Jeff. Wes looked around.
Nick shrugged. "He said he had something to do and would see us at practice."
Kurt wondered if Blaine was lost in his huge, single room.
At 2:45 pm Kurt successfully found his way to the music room. The room took his breath away. It seemed far too beautiful to be a room for teenagers to hang out and sing. The wood paneled walls, chandeliers, and beautifully carpeted floors made Kurt think of a drawing room in an English mansion.
He was grateful Wes hadn't arrived yet because he needed a few minutes to get his resolve together. The afternoon had confirmed his need to focus completely on school. Files or not, he had a ton of work to do if he was going to earn grades that wouldn't make his father question why he was working overtime to pay Dalton's expensive tuition. There was no way he could join the Warblers. The realization made him sad. They all seemed so nice, welcoming, and above all, accepting. He really wanted them as friends.
Wes came in, moving so quickly that Kurt didn't have a chance to stop him. "Alright everyone. Settle down. We have lots to do today."
The room immediately quieted as the boys took their seats on couches around the room. Wes, David and Thadwere all seated at a head table. Crap. Now he'd have to turn down Wes's invitation in front of everyone.
"Okay, first order of business..." David interrupted Wes.
"He said he'd be a little late but to start without him. Okay, first I'd like to introduce a new...I mean possible new member of the Warblers. Joining us to audition today is Kurt Hummel. Kurt is a transfer student from McKinley High School and a former member of their glee club, the New Directions. Welcome Kurt."
Kurt froze as everyone turned to look at him.
What the hell was Wes talking about? He wasn't auditioning today.
"Um...hello. I'm Kurt Hummel and it's a pleasure to meet all of you, but I think there's been a mistake. I'm not auditioning today. As a matter of fact...I'm not sure I'll be auditioning at all. At least not this quarter. I'm new and Dalton is leap years ahead of the academic curriculum I just came from. I have a lot of work to do to catch up, so I don't think I can join...audition yet. Plus I haven't prepared anything, so...yeah, I can't audition. Not today, but thank you."
Wes was not deterred. "Of course you can. Didn't New Directions have their set list stolen minutes before they were supposed to take the stage, and yet the group pulled it together and performed anyway? I'm sure you have several songs memorized that you could sing at the drop of a note."
"Well…yes, but I'd really like to prepare. And like I said, I just don't think I can handle school and the rigorous Warbler schedule right now. I really need to concentrate on classes before taking on anything else."
David shook his head. "Trust me. You can handle both. We'll help you with your studies." Several Warblers nodded in agreement. Kurt looked around the room and felt a pang of deep emotion from the smiles and nods of support. After a year of being bullied and ignored by so-called friends, it felt amazing to be surrounded by encouraging smiles. Even if it was only because they thought he could help them win competitions.
"Guys…this is really nice of you, but…"
"How about a Beatles song?" Kurt turned to see Trent scrolling through an iPod.
"A Beatles song. Oh! I bet you know this one." Trent stood up and waved his iPod in front of Kurt. Kurt looked at the screen. Well of course he knew the song, but he hadn't sang it in ages. "Well, sure I know it, but…"
"Perfect." Trent walked over to the speaker system and plugged in.
Kurt relented. Fine. He would sing one song. It didn't mean he had to actually join. Maybe singing now would reserve his spot and if everything went well with his grades, he'd join next quarter.
Kurt moved to the center of the room, closed his eyes and allowed the music to fill him.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blaine hated being late for Warbler practice, but he needed to speak with his chemistry teacher about a concept he was struggling to understand. After his father's praise that weekend, he was determined to make honor roll every quarter.
As he approached the music room he tried to remember what they had on today's schedule. Oh, yeah. Wes had found the next musical coming of Jesus, or something. Blaine smiled. He loved Wes's commitment to the Warblers. He was sure Wes only signed up as a student tour guide in order to interrogate potential students about their musical abilities.
Blaine quietly slipped inside the music room, stood against the back wall…and froze.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.
He was tall, his body lean and lithe. His brown hair thick, and slightly waved. His skin flawless and pale. His voice clear, enchanting and expressive.
Kurt opened his eyes.
Blaine inhaled deeply as his hazel eyes met Kurt's intense, captivating blue ones.
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
Kurt stared at the handsome boy that had suddenly appeared before him. He had thick black hair that was gently gelled into place, and ever-changing kaleidoscope eyes. One moment they looked like a mixture of greens, then browns, then greys.
Neither was able to take their eyes off the other. As the music ended and the room fell silent, the Warblers looked between the two with amused smirks. Trent finally broke the silence by applauding. The others followed suit. Kurt looked around the room as if suddenly realizing he wasn't alone. He nodded and whispered thank you before quickly taking a seat.
Wes banged his gavel to quiet everyone. "So, shall we vote?"
Trent yelled, "Yes!"
"Very well then. All in favor of having Kurt Hummel join the Warblers, please raise your hand."
Every hand in the room rose in the air.
"Any objections?" All hands lowered.
"Kurt Hummel, welcome to the Warblers."
Everyone applauded and congratulated Kurt with gentle slaps on the back and high fives. Kurt couldn't remember ever feeling so welcome.
Or so very aware of his every move being watched.
Every time he looked up, his eyes met those of the far too handsome boy with black hair.
Wes banged the gavel again. "Alright. Let's do a quick go around for Kurt. Name and grade."
"Blaine Anderson. Junior."
This is Blaine Anderson?
Once again their eyes locked. The intensity of Blaine's gaze made Kurt's insides curl in a foreign way.
Wes presented Kurt with the official, top-secret Warbler Repertoire binder, instructing him to scan through the songs and learn any he didn't already know. Today he would just observe practice, but should be ready to join in at the next one.
Kurt listened as the Warblers practiced songs, ran through choreography, and enthusiastically discussed and planned their performances.
And he watched Blaine.
He tried not to stare, but it was hard not to. He was just so damn handsome and obviously talented. His stage presence was impressive along with his work ethic. It was clear why the Warblers elected him their front man.
When practice was over Blaine lingered, listening as Wes invited Kurt to come over later that evening to review the class files. Kurt politely declined. He wanted to try things on his own first.
"So, Blaine what do you think? Was I right about Kurt, or was I right?" Wes beamed with pride.
Blaine smiled and Kurt's heart skipped a beat.
"Yeah. You were definitely right."
Kurt lifted his head a bit higher and thrilled to see he was about two inches taller than Blaine. "Thank you." Kurt's effort to play it cool quickly failed as he fell once again under the spell of Blaine's eyes. Blaine seemed equally as lost.
"Your voice is…gorgeous."
You are gorgeous. Blaine thought it, but didn't say it.
They continued to stare at each other.
Wes looked between the two of them and smiled. "Okay, so I'll see you guys later."
"So, Kurt what brings you to Dalton?"
"I needed a change." He wasn't about to get into all of his McKinley High drama.
"A change from what?"
Blaine nodded. "I can understand that." I need a change of family.
"Have you always been at Dalton?"
"I came in the middle of freshman year."
Kurt nodded. The two stood in silence for a moment.
"I see Wes gave you your Warbler binder."
Kurt nodded. "I'm sure I know most of the songs already. My musical repertoire is quite vast."
"Well," Blaine started slowly, "maybe we could get together and go over the few songs you don't know."
Kurt's stomach flip flopped. "Um, sure. That would be great."
Blaine smiled, but it faltered as he looked past Kurt. Telio was lounging against the entrance way watching them.
Blaine looked back at Kurt and his smile returned.
"I need to go, but I'll see you later, okay?"
Blaine grabbed his bag and quickly walked out followed by Telio who paused for a moment to give Kurt a curious glance.
Blaine skipped dinner that night. He didn't want to see Kurt again until he'd had time to think.
He lay on his bed, closed his eyes, and pictured Kurt's face.
Gorgeous. So damn gorgeous. And that voice…
What was he going to do?
It wasn't as if he'd never thought about having a boyfriend. He'd actually thought about it a lot, especially when he noticed Telio starring at a girl named Alicia at one of the monthly Crawford County Day/Dalton Academy Mixers. Blaine encouraged him to go talk to her, but Telio just shook his head and gave Blaine a reproachful look. "Not a good idea, Blaine. That will never be a good idea." At the time Blaine thought Telio was being a bit melodramatic, but it did get him thinking. What would it mean to have a boyfriend? Being who he was and the world his family belonged to. Despite his zero involvement in Anderson family affairs, would someone be willing to date him or would they be frightened? How would their parents respond? Could he ever bring someone home? How would he explain all the armed guards?
At the time he thought Telio might have a point. There was no one for him anyway, so why worry about it? A few guys at Dalton had made subtle advances in the past, and a few had gone so far as to ask him out, but he always said no. He wasn't sure why. He just knew he was waiting for someone. Someone special. Someone unique.
Someone like Kurt.
Slow down. He might have a boyfriend.
Okay, first he had to find out if gorgeous had a boyfriend. Assuming he didn't, he would take things slow and start by getting to know him. Become his friend. And if he did have a boyfriend, well…
There were several ways to get rid of people.
I'd forgotten how worked up posting stories leaves me. Let me know your initial thoughts. I think.