Author's Note: Yep, another new story. Before the eventual comments and private messages, let me just say this: I write what I want, when I want. Writing many things is what helps motivate me. If that bothers you, please stop reading my work. Regardless, please stop sending me messages telling me that I must continue this or that story first, that I must write on a schedule not my own, that I must not have so many works-in-progress. What I write and when is my sole discretion. None of my stories are abandoned. I work on them continuously. I will not post filler just so that I can post something. /rant
Moving on, this story is a crossover between Glee and Pretty Little Liars (which is one of the most awesomely ridiculous shows ever created). In terms of chronology, let's say this story is set during the summer prior to Kurt's senior year. A lot of Glee canon has been retconned, which is fine because canon pretty much sucks. As far as Pretty Little Liars is concerned, the timing is vague because the entire show is vague. Five seasons in and maybe eighteen months have passed. Let's put this at post-Season Three just to provide some general guidelines. I will be using some PLL canon, but altering or omitting events to suit my evil whims.
Disclaimer: Santana Lopez here. Just letting you whores know that Aidan doesn't own me. If he did, Kurt and I would be the overlords of the earth, just like god - whose real name is Cordelia Chase - intended. I prefer appearing in Aidan's fics because he recognizes that I am truly one of the most amazing bitches ever created and deserve a lot of face time. Also, Kurt Hummel's ass is really fucking spectacular and should have spawned at least 100 Tumblr accounts by now.
So sit back, relax, and read about our new adventures in Rosewood. If that little bitch troll from hell Alison thinks she's bad, Junior Miss better get ready to have several seats at the back of the bus. And as for Vanderjesus, that heifer is soon going to accept me as her new lord and personal savior. As well as learn how to apply lipstick with some discretion, because seriously.
My delicious ass was not harmed during the production of this fanfic. Well, not yet. Oh, hi, boys! - Kurt Hummel
Ezra threw a fond look at Aria, took one hand from the wheel and took one of hers in it. "Thanks again for coming with me."
She rolled her eyes playfully. "And miss the chance to be introduced to the one member of your family who actually wants to meet me?
His other hand gripped the steering wheel tightly. "I am so sorry about my mother."
She made a dismissive noise. "Ezra, no matter what your mother thinks, I'm not going anywhere, so she can just deal with it. She might be used to throwing money at whatever she doesn't like to make it go away, but there's not enough money in the world for me to leave you."
He blinked heavily and shot her a watery smile, determined not to make this scene maudlin. He still was very hurt that his mother thought appearances were more important than his happiness. That she couldn't see, that she couldn't even be bothered to look that Aria was in no way a gold-digger was incredibly disappointing.
He loved his mother, he did, but there were instances in which he really didn't like her. Her treatment of Aria was one of those instances. Still, every time he thought of Aria putting his mother in her place made him almost giddy.
"You're something very special, Aria Montgomery."
She smirked. "Don't forget it, buddy." She turned and looked out the windshield. "I don't think you've ever mentioned this cousin before."
He blew out a breath. "We're not too close," he admitted, "not since we were kids, really. We're not even closely related. I think we're something like sixth cousins. According to the family records, there were two brothers in France who argued over a woman and went their separate ways. My ancestor went to Ireland, while his stayed in France. We've stayed in contact but only actually met a handful of times; still, he's a hell of a kid. I think you'll really like him."
She eyed him. "You're holding back. What's up?"
He bit his lip.
"Ezra?" she prompted, narrowing her eyes. "Why did he move to Rosewood?"
"His father recently passed away," he said after several moments of silence. "His mom died when he was a little kid, so now it's just him."
She gasped. "That's horrible!"
He nodded. "It is. He's only seventeen and now he's an orphan."
She blinked. "Seventeen?"
Another nod. "He's your age. In fact, he's going to be in your class. I was hoping you could, I don't know, take him under your wing or something. He's having a hard enough time now and it will only be worse when he starts school next week and knows no one."
"Of course!" she exclaimed. She grabbed her phone and sent off a quick text.
"What are you doing?"
"I sent a text to the other girls with the address. They'll come. Don't worry, Ezra. We'll keep an eye out for him."
He fidgeted. "I wish you hadn't done that," he said softly. "There's more you don't know."
"Like what?" she asked, slightly suspicious.
He swallowed heavily.
A dumbstruck Aria tumbled out of his car five minutes later. Spencer and Emily were already there, considering how close their houses were, and Hanna was pulling up to the curb.
"What's with the SOS?" Spencer immediately demanded, sending Ezra a wary glance. "Is it ... "
Aria made a strangled noise.
By this time, Hanna had joined them with her brows raised and an expectant look on her face.
Ezra sighed. "My cousin just moved to Rosewood," he said, waving toward the house they now stood before. "He was orphaned this summer and is going to start at the school next week. I asked Aria to meet him so that he would know someone at school and she called you, hoping you might give him support."
"Of course we will!" Hanna shrieked, face softening. "Poor dude."
"Why does Aria look like something the cat threw up?" Spencer barked.
Emily placed a restraining hand on her elbow. She didn't share her friend's suspicions of Ezra.
He sighed again. "Because I just told her his name."
"Which is?" Emily asked cautiously.
"Kurt Hummel," Aria croaked. "His cousin is Kurt Hummel."
The other girls balked and, as one, looked up at the enormous house.
"Well, that explains the money," Hanna said. The old MacCallister mansion was worth beaucoup bucks. Easily one of the most impressive houses in Rosewood, it had been on the market for the past five years because no one was willing to shell out that much dough for a pile of rocks in a dinky Philadelphia superb, despite the fact that its maintenance had been museum-quality.
"Oh, nice, Hanna," Emily spat, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.
Hanna blushed. "Sorry," she muttered.
Spencer stared at Ezra. "You're telling us that your cousin who just moved here is the son of the Vice President of the United States?"
Hanna, who made it her business to know about cute young famous people, began reciting everything she knew. "His father was killed in a place crash two months ago outside of Cleveland, along with his wife, Carole. There were several other deaths, right?"
Ezra nodded again. "Burt and Carole were killed along with several of Kurt's friends. He was a member of his first high school's glee club, which had just put on a concert to celebrate the President's first year in office. After moving to Washington, Kurt and his stepbrother Finn attended Woodville Academy."
"Kurt had asked his former glee club to come to DC for the celebration," he continued. "They performed - very well, I might add - and departed via Dulles International."
His eyes darkened. "The plane exploded outside of Cleveland. Kurt and Finn had taken another plane, as each had a final that day and had to leave later. Four of their friends had waited behind to do some last-minute sightseeing and left with them."
He sighed. "Everyone else, including Kurt's father, stepmother, his two best friends, and his boyfriend were on the first plane. So was Finn's girlfriend. They perished."
Emily and Aria's eyes filled with tears.
"I don't remember reading anything about a boyfriend," Hanna said quietly, hating the thought of young love thwarted. When Caleb had been shot, she had been so terrified that he might ...
"Sam Evans," Emily whispered. She considered Kurt Hummel to be one of her role models. He was her age, extremely bright and articulate, and openly gay and proud of it. She blushed as she thought of the fan letter she had once written him. She had never done anything so ridiculous in her life, but the day she received an actual response was a high she had ridden for weeks.
"They were very much in love," Ezra said, "even after their separation because of the move. Kurt had said that he planned on marrying Sam and I believe he was serious. If you had ever seen them together ... " he trailed off, shaking his head.
"That is so sad," said a teary Hanna.
"Is he living here by himself?" asked a concerned Spencer.
"No," he said. "Kurt lost his dad, but he still has family, no matter how distant we are, but Finn has no one else. His parents were both only children, both sets of grandparents are dead, and his father was killed in the first war in Iraq, not long after Finn was born."
He hesitated. "Kurt and Finn are ... extremely protective of each other."
Aria nodded. "I guess they would be," she whispered. "They lost their parents and their significant others."
"Kurt had himself legally emancipated. He has the money and the intelligence to take care of himself, so it wasn't contested by the state. He then in turn assumed legal custody of Finn, at least until Finn's birthday, which I believe is in a couple of months."
Spencer blew out a breath. "That's a lot to take on."
"Kurt can handle it," Ezra said with confidence. "He's always been an adult in a kid's body." He smiled wanly. "I think you and he will really get along well, Spencer."
She shot him a shy smile.
Hanna snorted. "Yeah, right. They're already like twins. I've read all about him. He's a member of MENSA, speaks a stupid number of languages, has a perfect GPA, and reads Russian literature for fun. I can see it now: it will be like he and Spencer are twins joined at their boring personalities."
Spencer gave her a sweet smile. "Don't worry, Hanna. I'm sure that once you learn to read, you'll come to enjoy Tolstoy as much as I do."
Hanna growled and punched Spencer's arm as the others laughed.
"What about their friends?" Aria asked. "The ones who were on their plane?"
Ezra nodded. "They live here, as well. Their parents were also on board the first plane, so they lost their families, too. They had already turned eighteen, though, so they simply quit McKinley and moved here to be with Kurt and Finn."
His brow furrowed. "Let's see, there's Mike Chang, Quinn Fabray, Noah Puckerman, and Santana Lopez." He blinked. "I'm not sure exactly what we'll be walking into. Mike lost his girlfriend and his parents. Quinn used to date Finn but, while she was with him, she slept with Puck, his best friend, and got pregnant; they gave up the baby. She lost her mother in the crash and hasn't spoken with her father for some time. Santana lost her girlfriend Brittany, as well as her parents."
"Whoa," Hanna breathed. "And we thought we had drama."
Aria and Emily rolled their eyes.
"I can see why they required such a large house," Spencer said diplomatically.
"They needed the grounds, as well," Ezra said. "Kurt, Santana, and Quinn are all cheerleaders, so they need the space to practice their gymnastics. Finn, Mike, and Puck played football on McKinley and will probably try out for the team here. Mike and Kurt play soccer - Mike more aggressively than Kurt - and are also swimmers."
He turned and smiled. "They're nowhere in your league, Emily, but they do have an Olympic pool. If you ever needed to practice and didn't want to go to the school, I'm sure they'd welcome you."
Her eyes lit up. She'd had no idea Kurt was a swimmer.
"I think we've been spotted," Spencer said quietly. "We should probably go up."
Ezra nodded and led the charge. The moment he stepped foot on the porch, the door flew open and he found himself with an armful of teenage cousin.
"Hello," Kurt whispered.
Ezra held him tightly and kissed the top of his head. "Hey, little man."
"I'm not little anymore, plebeian, or have you not noticed we're almost the same height now?"
"You'll always be a baby to me," Ezra volleyed, smirking.
Kurt pushed him away. "Yes, because you're old."
That drew great honking laughter from Hanna, toward whom Kurt turned.
His eyes widened appreciatively. "I don't know who you are, but you are stupidly beautiful with an unerring sense of fashion."
Her eyes sparkled as she threw him a dazzling grin. "And you're all I've ever wanted in a man."
"What's your point?"
"Where have you been all my life?" he demanded.
"At the mall," she shot back.
"I think I love you."
"Don't go all Swayze on me."
"Her plastic surgeon deserves a Nobel Prize."
"Reeks of Massengil and poor decisions."
"This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship," said a decided Kurt, holding out his hand.
"Hanna Marin," she replied, taking it in her own. She and Kurt continued to smile at each other like idiots until Spencer forcefully cleared her throat. "Oh, yeah," she said. "Here are some other people," she said dismissively, laughing when Emily elbowed her.
"Spencer Hastings," the girl said, holding out a hand.
Kurt took it. "Are you related to Peter Hastings?"
"He's my father," she said cautiously. "How do you know him?"
Kurt shrugged a shoulder. "He's my new lawyer." One look at Spencer and he could see how uptight she was, so he decided to have some fun. He pulled her toward him. "Your father is extremely hot."
"No, he's not!" she fiercely denied, on the verge of hyperventilating.
He chuckled. "I know he's happily married to your beautiful mother, whom I've also had the pleasure of meeting. I was just being obnoxious. It's a little thing I do." He frowned. "He is hot, though."
Spencer shuddered. "Ew," she said sourly before she too started laughing. "It's nice to meet you."
"You, as well," Kurt said happily.
"I'm Emily Fields," came the shy interruption.
Kurt turned to take her hand but then paused. "Emily Fields," he slowly repeated before his face softened. "Thank you for your letter."
"Letter?" asked a confused Hanna.
She balked. "That was a year ago!" She blinked owlishly. "How did you even remember that?"
He gave her a sardonic smile. "Given the letters I normally receive, I tend to remember the nice ones."
Her eyes dimmed, understanding his inference. The others did as well, and thus weren't surprised when Ezra growled.
"I'm Aria!" the last girl chirped, holding out a hand and hoping to hold off one of Ezra's dark moods. "Aria Montgomery."
Kurt was charmed by her doe eyes and eccentric wardrobe. He shook her hand and smiled before he tilted his head and looked at cousin before looking back at Aria. He quirked a brow. "Really, Ezra? You're dating one of your students?"
Aria gasped and quickly dropped his hand.
"H-How did you know?" Ezra whispered.
Kurt rolled his eyes. "One, because even though these girls are gorgeous, they're also obviously my age and I doubt you'd bring random students to my house. Two, Aria is exactly your type. Three, I know you."
"What do you mean type?" asked a curious Aria.
"Let me guess," Kurt began. "You're highly intelligent with a particularly passionate penchant for literature and film. You plan on becoming a novelist. You have a unique sense of style and don't care what others think about it or you." He paused. "You're fiercely independent, proud of it, dislike conflict, and are extremely loyal, even when perhaps you know better." The corners of his mouth quirked upwards. "How'd I do?"
Aria blinked. "Am I that obvious?"
"No, but Ezra is."
Ezra pursed his lips as Kurt and the girls laughed.
"We're still organizing, but please come in," Kurt said, ushering them into the house. "I'm sure the others would enjoy meeting you."
Hanna was more than content simply to wander around the first floor of the house, taking in all of its grandeur. It all but screamed money and class and, though it wasn't her particular style, she could nevertheless enjoy it, despite its oddness.
There wasn't a consistent theme, which she found jarring. Instead, each room had been decorated according to its specific purpose. The kitchen was massive and awash in stainless steel and butcher block. The floor was terra-cotta with built-in warming coils. The backsplash was simple utilitarian white tile. In terms of the gadgetry, it looked as though Williams-Sonoma had vomited over every available surface.
There was the standard Kitchen-Aid professional stand mixer with all the attachments, an eight-burner gas range with a convention and convection oven beneath, as well as a double oven built into the wall. The refrigerator was a massive SubZero with glass doors. In the counter next to it was built a wine refrigerator. There was a top-of-the-line dishwasher, next to which stood a trash compactor.
The cabinets were mahogany and had no doors. Stacked inside were various collections of crockery and stemware. There were complete sets for sixteen of Fiestaware, jadeware, Lenox bone china, and Florentine Turquoise Wedgewood dinnerware. There were two sets of flatware: an everyday Oneida basic pattern, and a more formal Sir Christopher by Wallace. There was every variety of crystal stemware, as well as a colorful and haphazard collection of ceramic mugs.
There was a toaster oven, a waffle iron, an ice cream maker, a bread maker, and a host of other helpful implements, each situated in their own place on top of the endless counter space.
The island was enormous, also covered in butcher block, and contained an another range of four burners along with a griddle and grill plate. There was an additional sink which was presumably used to wash fruits and vegetables. The body of the island was inset with even more storage shelves, as well as places for cookbooks and recipe files. Over the island was a rack from which hung every imaginable size of copper pots and pans.
On one side of the island sat three stools so that snack and short meals could be had. In the middle of the counter sat an enormous but relatively plain bowl the color of eggshells, inside of which sat a pyramid of gorgeous Granny Smith apples which almost looked polished to perfection.
At the end of the room was a fireplace large enough for the girls to stand inside without bending over, as well as a breakfast nook with built-in benches and custom cushions situated beneath a huge bay window.
"The kitchen was admittedly a selling point for me," Kurt said. "I love to cook."
"Me too!" Aria squealed, looking around the space in utter bliss.
Hanna rolled her eyes and stomped off toward the nearest adjoining room, which was for formal dining. She halted in her tracks and hungry eyes devoured every mesmerizing detail.
"This is a room," she whispered with reverence.
Kurt wrinkled his nose. "Not too much?"
She shook her head. "There's no such thing. This is gorgeous."
The walls were painted a shocking crimson, one that normally would have been considered far too bold, but the size of the room lent itself well to the color. In the middle sat a huge Chippendale dining table, the top of which was decorated with a fabulous arrangement of burl mahogany wood grains. It had four base pedals, was eighteen feet long and large enough to seat twenty comfortably, though she noted two six-foot removable panels. The entire table was framed by two inches of straight grain mahogany. A massive matching sideboard, more the size of a credenza, took up almost an entire wall.
The chairs were both delicate and sturdy with partially open backs. The seat upholstery was champagne damask with crimson fleur-de-lis, the exact shade of the walls, embroidered upon them. The drapes hanging from the picture windows were of champagne-colored raw silk. The floors were heart of pine, a few shades lighter than the wood of the table, but somehow perfectly went with the room.
Hanna reluctantly followed Kurt as he continued the tour. They crossed through the foyer again and entered the library. One side of the massive room was comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows made of leaded glass. The other three sides were nothing but built-in mahogany shelves, several of which were already crammed to capacity. It appeared as though one of the group's first efforts had been to unpack the books.
Aria was very close to climaxing. Ezra looked ready to jizz his pants. It was all Spencer could do not to genuflect in worship.
"Nerds," Hanna muttered.
Emily gave her a fond, understanding smile.
"So you've discovered my big secret," Kurt confided to Hanna. "I'm a geek of the highest order. Hermione Granger was actually inspired by me."
She blinked. "Really?"
He merely gave her a close-lipped smile.
"So are you a Ron/Hermione stan?" Spencer casually asked.
He gagged. "Hell no. Hermione deserved so much better. If Harry wasn't going to end up with Luna, he should have been with Hermione, as JK Rowling has finally come around to understanding. Do not get me started on Ginny Weasley." He grinned. "But you may give me Oliver Wood and his broomstick on a silver platter, please and thank you."
The girls laughed with appreciation.
In one corner sat an oak rolltop secretary with a ridiculous number of cubbyholes, all of which were currently empty. In the middle of the room stood five pairs of partner desks; atop of each sat a banker's lamp, a dark brown leather blotter, a pencil holder, and an in-and-out box with two compartments. At either end of the row of desks sat two large laser printers.
Spencer grabbed his arm. "We can do our homework here, right?" she whispered with reverence, overeager eyes brimming with excitement.
"I call you as my new study buddy!" She turned to her friends. "It's over. I have a new partner in intellectual intercourse."
They rolled their eyes. Kurt gave a bashful smile and blushed.
Ezra turned wistful. "This room makes me want to go back to school." He blinked. "I can grade papers here, right?"
Kurt smiled. "You're always welcome, Ezra."
The other man beamed.
Aria closed her eyes and hummed happily, the smell of books, leather, and acid-free paper assaulting her senses in a most pleasing manner. She wanted to move into this room and never leave it.
Kurt turned and gestured for them to follow. Aria, Ezra, and Spencer protested vociferously. Hanna and Emily pushed them out of the room. Kurt entered the room immediately adjacent, which he called the conservatory.
"I thought that was for plants and stuff," said a dubious Hanna, looking around with a skeptical eye.
"It's also appropriate for a music room," Kurt said, waving a hand about.
There was a grand piano in the center of the room, to the left of which sat an impressive set of drums. There was an upright piano in the north corner. Several stands housing an assortment of string instruments lined the other walls.
"The pianos are mine," Kurt explained, "and the drums belong to my brother, Finn. Some of the guitars are Puck's and the rest ... belonged to Sam and Artie." He blinked owlishly and averted his eyes. "Santana plays the violin, viola, and the cello, though with various aptitudes. Her parents were very traditional and insisted she learn an instrument. She likes to play but refuses to do so in front of others, even me. Until last year, I didn't even know she played."
He forced a smile. "Do any of you play?"
"Aria does!" Emily insisted, rolling her eyes when Aria blushed. "She plays piano and guitar. She sings, too. She's very good. So is Hanna."
"Aria is so much better that it's ridiculous," Hanna scoffed. "I'll sing in chorus, but not on my own."
Kurt gave a hopeful look at Aria. "Maybe we could sing sometime?"
"I'd like that," she said bashfully. "You were in your glee club, right?"
"Kurt is professionally trained and has a four-octave range," Ezra boasted.
The girls stared at the boy in question.
"Three," Kurt corrected.
Ezra rolled his eyes. "So you're Whitney instead of Mariah. Songbird, please."
Kurt's entire face flushed. "You haven't called me that in years."
"Doesn't mean it's not still true," Ezra said, shrugging. He looked at the girls. "Kurt learned to sing before speaking. He started the piano when he was two. He has perfect pitch and one of the most beautiful voices I've ever had the privilege to hear."
Kurt blushed harder as Aria studied him with greed. She loved singing, it was one of her greatest pleasures, but she had no one with whom to share her passion. Her parents enjoyed music but didn't sing or play. Mike had played the clarinet in elementary school when being in band was cool, but quickly abandoned it in favor of becoming a jock. Spencer and her sister Melissa played the piano, but more for padding their resumes than actual artistry.
Alison had played the piano, too; quite well, actually.
Aria thought she would greatly enjoy having someone to play with on a regular basis. She also wondered what Kurt's voice sounded like and how they would sound together.
"Do you write, as well?" she asked him.
He ducked his head. "Sometimes," he said quietly.
She nodded kindly and let it go. She knew how personal songwriting could be.
He quickly led them throughout the rest of the first floor, including the study, which Kurt planned to use primarily for accounting and, he confided, escaping his housemates; the billiards room, which also contained a wealth of board games; and a double parlor with gorgeous river stone fireplaces at either end.
He explained that on the second floor, up the grand staircase via the foyer, was a media room and a grand ballroom. The media room was already put together, but he had no idea what to do with the ballroom; it was too large and exquisite to leave empty, but it wasn't as though there was much of an occasion to throw balls.
Hanna loudly disagreed with his statement, already planning several parties. Kurt appeared interested, which she took as a good sign.
"The third floor houses the bedrooms and the laundry room. The fourth floor is unfinished attic space, though it runs the entire length of the house. The cellar is mostly unfinished beyond the steps, but there is a large dedicated space for wine."
"This place is amazing!" Hanna bellowed, spinning around in a circle and greatly enjoying the blaring echo that screamed back at her.
"Calm down, Cinderella," Spencer snarked. "This isn't your palace."
Hanna scowled but held her tongue.
Kurt led them back into the kitchen and through the French windows out onto the teak deck that overlooked the back of the estate, which ended in dense woods fronted by a copse of ancient pine trees. Just beneath them was an English garden heavy on lavender and other herbs, dotted with paths that led to the other parts of the grounds.
The pool had Emily practically drooling while Spencer's eyes landed immediately on the tennis courts, which surpassed the ones at the club. There was a large patch of recently tilled soil which appeared to be waiting to be put to use.
"A vegetable garden," Kurt explained, turning wistful. "Carole had one at her house before she and Dad married. Finn wants to plant one in her honor." He shook his head in amusement. "I think it's a lovely idea, but I get the feeling that I'll eventually be the one to care for it."
"What's the building toward the back?" Hanna asked.
"The carriage house. There were once stables on the property, but they were demolished at the turn of the century." He shrugged. "It would have been interesting, I suppose, but I've never been much one for riding."
"You should try it," Spencer said. "If you learn properly, there's no other feeling like it in the world."
He smiled. "I take it you ride."
"Of course she does," Hanna scoffed. "There's no WASP activity Spencer hasn't mastered."
Spencer blushed but said nothing.
Emily decided to do it for her. "Watch your mouth," she said sharply. "I don't know what's going on with you two, but trust me when I tell you that Team Emaria is not amused."
Aria blinked before smiling slowly and at last nodding.
Hanna pouted. "There's no Team Emaria. It's always been Team Sparia and Team Hannily."
Kurt laughed. "I thought my friends were the only ones who used portmanteaus."
"Like what?" Hanna chirped, desperate to shift topics of conversation.
He shrugged. "Sam and I were Hevans," he whispered before shaking himself and forcing a smile. "Finn and I are Team Kinn, Puck and I are Pummel, and Santana and I are Kurtana."
"Team Kurtana for the motherfucking win!" someone crowed.
Kurt rolled his eyes and turned around, waving her over. "Everyone, this is my best friend, Santana Lopez. Bellatrix, this is my cousin Ezra and his friends."
Santana eyed Ezra up and down like a side of beef. "Tasty," she remarked. "Tink, the cute runs strong in your family."
She smirked. "Nice to meet you," she said swiftly, nodding to the others.
The girls introduced themselves as Ezra blushed.
"This town has a seriously high quotient of hot babes," Santana noted, taking an extra long look at Hanna.
Emily startled, just now remembering Ezra mentioning Santana had lost her girlfriend. "Are you ... ?"
"I'm a lesbian," Santana said. She leaned in and winked. "A big one."
Emily blushed and dropped her eyes.
"It took me a while to come to grips with it," she admitted. She shook her head angrily. "Too damn long. I wasted so much time."
Kurt wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Brittany knew how much you loved her," he said softly.
She gave a gusty sigh but said nothing.
Before she could think better of it, Emily grabbed one of Santana's hands. "My girlfriend was murdered last year," she said quietly. "Her name was Maya."
Santana's eyes filled with understanding as she held tightly to Emily's hand.
"You have other friends living here with you, right?" asked a determinedly cheerful Hanna.
Kurt nodded. "Noah, Quinn, and Mike. He's either in his room or at the pool. Noah is somewhere on the grounds, probably starting a fire." His eyes widened and he looked to Santana. "Where's Quinn?" he demanded, a note of fear creeping into his voice.
Santana took his face in her hands. "Hey, everything's all right. We're all fine. Quinn just went to pick up some things at the grocery. She'll be back soon."
He blew out a shaky breath and wiped his eyes before turning toward the others. "Sorry," he said shyly. "Ever since the plane crash, I've become a little obsessed with knowing where everyone is at all times."
The girls understood that all too well.
"I don't think that's obsessive," Aria said kindly. "I think it's smart."
Santana gave a brusque nod. "Thanks for telling him that. He won't believe me." She looked at Kurt. "There's nothing wrong with keeping track of each other." She raised a brow. "Do you think I let her leave without telling me exactly where she was going and when she'd back? I even made her give me the address of the store?"
Kurt flushed and dropped his eyes.
"Are you all staying for dinner?" Santana asked the others. "We're just ordering pizzas, but you're welcome to join us."
The girls looked at each other.
"Sure," Spencer said. "We just have to call our parents and let them know."
"Invite them, if you'd like," Kurt said. "It might be easier for them simply to meet me and see the house rather than making any assumptions about some unsupervised fairytale teenage wonderland."
Spencer nodded. Her father never missed a chance to network, especially with a client as important as Kurt Hummel. He would at least put in an appearance, choke down a slice of pizza, and try to refer Kurt to his personal broker. Her mother would also probably pop over because she would automatically approve of her daughter forming any kind of relationship with someone of such high repute. She texted them. She hoped Melissa wouldn't crash.
Aria was thinking similar thoughts as she texted her mother, rather hoping that her father and brother would stay at home. Mike wasn't really interested in anything that wasn't about him and their father was still convinced Ezra moonlighted as Satan.
Emily shot off a quick text to her mother, but doubted she would actually come. In fact, she hoped she wouldn't. Her mom was very politically conservative and had often made some untoward remarks about Kurt's late father. Nonetheless, she had been devastated when the man died. If nothing else, his sincere love for his family and country had moved her.
"Can I invite my boyfriend?" Hanna asked.
"That depends," Kurt said with furrowed brow. "On a scale of one to ten, how hot is this boyfriend?"
Santana rolled her eyes. "And yet another has been added to his Fruit Fly Harem."
"Fruit Fly?" Spencer asked, sending off a text to Toby. She figured if Hanna could invite her man, she could invite hers. She would make sure to split the bill with Kurt, though. She didn't expect him to pay for everything.
"He likes that term better than fag hags."
Kurt scowled. "No matter how you cut it, that phrase is offensive and belittling to all involved. I will not have my friends referred to as such."
"Oh, so they're your friends now?" Santana asked.
"Are you kidding me? Look at them! I have to be surrounded by stunningly gorgeous women at all times or they might revoke my Gay Card." He shrugged. "Besides, Hanna's outfit."
Santana critically examined said outfit and nodded. "You have been sartorially deprived. Okay, my objection is overruled."
"So we're gorgeous," Hanna purred.
He gave her a severely unimpressed look, which elicited a giggle from her. He narrowed his eyes. "Well, Aria is."
Hanna, Emily, and Spencer squawked with anger.
He shrugged. "She's practically family."
Ezra and Aria squawked.
"Please," Kurt huffed, rolling his eyes. "I can already picture your overly pink and saccharine wedding. You two ride the short bus to Adorable Overload. Between Aria's Bambi eyes and Ezra's boyish Prince Charming grin, it's like being trapped in the Disney World love tunnel and everyone is singing A Whole New World."
Spencer snapped her fingers. "That's it!" she roared, turning to the aforementioned couple. "That's exactly what you remind me of! You two are sickening."
Emily scoffed. "Seriously? Look, Toby is one of my best friends, but you're out of your tree if you believe you're any different from Ezria over there. Spence, you just received a collect call from Pot to Kettle. The message reads: you're black."
Hanna whinnied with hysterical laughter before just as abruptly sobering. "Are Caleb and I like that?" she shrieked.
"Actually, no," Aria said slowly. "The two of you are sweet but don't cause diabetes."
Hanna breathed out a sigh of relief. She was just about to ask whether Kurt and Santana had been sickly sweet in their relationships and swallowed a sigh of relief when Emily placed a restraining hand on her arm and stopped her.
They turned to the source of the voice, which was Mike climbing the deck stairs dripping wet and clothed only in a tiny Speedo.
"Well, hello," Hanna purred, eyes gleaming.
Mike blinked and immediately crossed over to Kurt, standing behind him. "New friends?" he asked quietly.
Kurt nodded and introduced him to the others.
Mike grinned. "Nice to meet you all! I'm Mike Chang." He paused. "Um, I think I'm going to go put on some clothes."
"Don't bother on our account," Hanna said, grinning devilishly.
Kurt rolled his eyes and wagged a finger at her, which she pretended to bite. He turned around and suddenly realized just how closely Mike was standing to him. "O-Oh," he stuttered. "Hello." he cleared his throat. "We're going to order dinner soon and Ezra and the girls are going to join us." He paused. "Is that okay?"
Mike smiled, placing a hand on Kurt's shoulder. "Sure."
Mike wrinkled his nose in thought. "I'm really tired of pizza and feel like embracing some clichés." His eyes brightened. "Chinese?"
Kurt laughed, slipped his hand in Mike's and nodded before walking him inside.
An awkward silence descended in the wake of their departure.
"They've become really close," Santana said softly. "After Kurt lost Sam and Mike lost Tina, they just kind of fell in together." She shrugged. "It's not the swimming. Kurt didn't join a team until he started at Woodville. Maybe the soccer? They haven't played for years but have recently took it up again."
Aria opened her mouth and just as quickly shut it.
"You can ask," said an unruffled Santana. She could already see the signs that Aria was coming to care for Kurt separate of his relation to Ezra. Outside of Brittany, she had never before met someone who inspired such instant devotion.
"He's not gay, right? He lost his girlfriend. So is he bi?"
Santana gave a diffident shrug. "Mike would be the last person to put a label on it. He's always been a loner. His best friend, Matt, moved away in our sophomore year and Mike never truly recovered. Outside of Matt, he really only ever talked to Tina, so this is all very new."
She blew out a breath. "Mike is a really good guy, which is something I don't say often because I hate everyone. Yeah, I'm worried they're both vulnerable and might find themselves in a situation neither is ready for, but what can you do? The rest of us are keeping an eye on it. Quinn will say something to Kurt if there's reason to worry."
"What's she like?" Emily asked.
Santana pursed her lips. "I'm not the person to ask. I've known her since we were in kindergarten but we've never been friends. More like occasional allies. She was the blond princess who ruled over our class with an iron fist and terrified everyone who laid eyes on her without ever even raising her voice. She can be utterly ruthless and extremely cruel with an angelic smile on her face the entire time. She is the evil you will never see coming."
The other girls exchanged a worried glance, thinking of Alison.
"I mean, I'm a complete bitch, so you can't go by me because she and I have had our issues." She paused. "What I will say is that Quinn adores Kurt. I really do believe she has the capacity to kill anyone who would hurt him." She cocked her head. "Still, she's also logical and rational and is one of the most caring and tactful people I know when she can be bothered. She's a good friend to have, but an even worse enemy."
Ezra's eyes clouded. "How is Kurt doing? Really?"
Santana's own eyes dimmed. "It's hard. Very hard. He and Sam loved each other so much. Even the distance that was put between them didn't damper their connection." She bit her lip. "They were kind of an inspiration to the rest of us."
She swallowed and looked away. "They found an engagement ring with his body. He told me he was planning to ask Kurt once we got back to Lima. We all expected it sooner or later. Kurt was already planning it. I have no doubt they would have made it.
"They were just one of those couples, you know? Grand destiny and everything. They never fought, never exchanged a cross word. Even their differences, and they were legion and major, brought them closer to one another. Just watching them together made you want to be a better person so that, hopefully, you might one day find what they had, that some of their light might shine upon you. They were it for each other."
Aria and Hanna had tears rolling down their faces.
Santana sighed. "Watching him these past few months ... " She sighed and shook her head. "There are nights he wakes up screaming. I prefer those nights because at least he forces himself to wake from his nightmares."
She gave Ezra a hard look. "He spends way too much time taking care of the rest of us, Finn and Mike and me. We appreciate it. We need it, we need him. We love him. But it's not fair. We know that and so does he, but he doesn't care. Worrying about us allows him to put his grief on the backburner, even if only temporarily, but that's not to going to work forever. Eventually he's going to have to feel the loss and it's going to be so much worse after being so prolonged."
She pinned him with her gaze. "When that happens, I hope he can count on you."
"He can. Always."
She nodded. "Good. You know, he could have gone anywhere, but he wanted to be here, near you. He doesn't want you to know that. He doesn't want to place the onus of his pain on you, but we've all heard about you, Fitz. Kurt has a few distant relatives, but you and your brother are the only ones he also considers friends."
Her eyes became imploring. "Please be worthy of that, because if I lost him, I honestly don't know what I would do. Trust me when I tell you that I think about that every single day."
Ezra placed a hand on her shoulder. "Kurt can always count on me, Santana. I promise."
She nodded, but doubt was plain on her face. "Well, good, then."
"We're all here for him," Emily said. "We're here for all of you."
Santana was embarrassed and furious by the tears which sprang to her eyes. "Thanks," she said shortly. "Let's go in and decide what we want to order." She turned on her heel and stormed into the house.
"This sucks," Hanna hissed.
"I honestly never believed we'd find a group our own age who has it worse than us," Spencer murmured, shaking her head.
"I like them," Emily whispered.
"So might A," Aria said darkly. "Let's make sure our mess doesn't spill over onto them."
The girls nodded somberly.
Ezra said nothing.