A/N: Written for the Kurtoberfest prompt 'costumes'. Not Santana friendly (the unfriendliness inspired by a particular episode I will not name that makes me hate her). Again, the timeline on this is wacky. Blaine's cheated on Kurt, Santana has recently moved in to the loft, and Kurt has gone shirtless in stage fighting class.

Rare pair: Kurt and the dance guys at NYADA.

Rachel reaches in to the basket looped over her arm – the part of her Dorothy costume doing double-duty as a purse, with a fluffy stuffed terrier sticking out of one end – and pulls out her phone. She checks it for any new messages. None. She looks up at the door in the hopes he's just walking in. Nope. Before she shoves the phone back into her basket, she checks it again.

Still nothing.

"Where is he?" she mutters, tapping her glittery red sequined toe on the floor. She rolls up on to the balls of her feet and peers back and forth over the crowd of heads filling up Callbacks, people in costume flooding in with every swing of the door. "Kurt was supposed to be here an hour ago."

"Maybe he got stuck putting on his tights," Santana says, pulling a Maraschino cherry off a plastic red sword with her teeth and chewing it, a devilish grin sprouting that Rachel only now notices.

"Oh no," Rachel says, her groan of distress making Santana's eyes twinkle, "Santana, what did you do?"

"Nothing," Santana says with a shrug, but when she looks at Rachel, she knows Rachel doesn't believe her. "What? Why do you always assume I did something?"

"Because you usually do," Rachel says, putting her hands on her hips.

"Yeah, okay," Santana says, pulling up the bodice of her sexy tin man costume (complete with a plastic axe that she keeps tucked inside the crook of her arm), "so maybe I do."

"Aha," Rachel agrees, waiting for more details of this particular situation.

"And I'm not saying I did do something" - Santana crosses her arms, which usually means she did something - "but if I did, it would serve him right."

"Serve him right?" Rachel asks. "For what?"

"Serves him right for filling my mousse can with Nair," Santana says, indignant at the memory.

"He didn't fill your mousse can with Nair!" Rachel says, gesturing wildly with her basket arm and almost sending her toy terrier flying. "You were hungover, and you grabbed Nair instead of mousse by mistake. In fact, it's because of him that you still have your hair!"

Santana rolls her head away, not down with being accused of something that she may actually have done.

"Well, who put the Nair next to my mousse to begin with?" she asks.

"You did!" – Rachel throws her head up in disgust – "Ugh! You guys were supposed to be past this!"

"It's hard for me, okay," Santana admits. "I tend to soak up grudge like a sponge. It runs in my family. Well, on my father's side, at least."

"God!" Rachel huffs, throwing another glance anxiously toward the door when she hears it open. "I knew it was a mistake letting you pick out the costumes."

"Yeah, you really should have known better," Santana says, spearing another cherry from the bowl on the bar and popping it in her mouth.

"I let you pick them out and put them on my credit card because I wanted you to do something nice for him."

Santana gives her a face.

"I'm sorry," she says, "but have you met me?"

"We're supposed to be building up his self-esteem," Rachel insists, "not tearing him down. If his costume isn't absolutely stunning, you owe me fifty bucks!"

"Relax," Santana says, switching her empty glass of apple cider for a full one when a waiter walks by, "he probably won't show."

"And that's supposed to make his night better how?" Rachel asks.

"It's not," Santana says, lifting the glass to her lips. "It's supposed to make my night better."

Rachel groans. There's no making her see reason. How is it that a loft that seemed to be the size of an airplane hangar with just the two of them in it became a little too tight with the addition of Santana? She really didn't bring any luggage with her when she barged in and decided to make herself at home. When she needs something, she doesn't shop for it; she takes it from them. But Santana, by virtue of being Santana, requires more space to exist in then they have available, and for that reason, they've all started to rub each other the wrong way.

Especially Santana and Kurt, and Rachel doesn't know how to fix it. But tonight wasn't supposed to be the night to mend roommate squabbles, it was supposed to be about bolstering Kurt's self-esteem and getting him to forget about Blaine (which, admittedly, would be easier if Blaine would stop sending Kurt a dozen roses every day. On the plus side, their garbage disposal has never smelled prettier.).

Rachel sees Kurt slink in, partially hidden in the crowd coming through the door. She almost doesn't recognize him. He's done his make-up in a rather impressive recreation of one of the characters from the musical Cats. He didn't have a wig to go with it, so he teased his hair out and streaked, probably using a can of spray color from the store. Tiny triangular ears peek out from behind. But over his costume he's wearing a full length black trench coat, so Rachel can't tell what he's wearing under it.

She has no idea what, exactly, Santana has done.

"Hey, Kurt!" Rachel calls as he approaches, going out of her way to sound upbeat and not at all like she's been staring at the door waiting for him to arrive for over an hour, worried to death.

"Hey, Rach," Kurt says, giving her a light hug so as not to get make-up on her face. "Cute Dorothy costume," he says with a bit too much emphasis. Santana has yet to look his way or acknowledge his presence. "And might I add that it fits you to a tee."

"Why…thank you, Kurt," Rachel says, accepting his awkward compliment. "I love your make-up."

Santana finally turns, takes one look at Kurt's face, and nearly spits out a mouthful of cider.

"Oh my God!" she crows, dabbing at her chin with a napkin. "You were supposed to be the cowardly lion, Hummel."

"Yeah" - Kurt subconsciously grabs the lapels of his coat to pull them tighter closed - "well, I think you and I both know that the costume I got was not a lion..."

"Well, it was lion-like," she snickers behind her hand.

"Can I see it?" Rachel asks, taking a step in front of Santana to block her from the conversation.

"I don't know," Kurt says, visibly on the fence.

"You came all the way down here in it," Rachel says.

"Yeah, but that's before I actually got here," Kurt says, looking around. "I mean, I know this is mostly the NYADA crowd, and they probably all snagged their costumes from the costume shop at school, but still…" He doesn't finish, but his eyes tell Rachel what he's thinking. He looks from a couple dressed as Romeo and Juliet, to another man dressed as a knight in full cosplay metal armor, to two girls dressed as Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, both in flapper dresses and fedoras, with long cigarette holders in their mouths and tommy guns perched on their hips – each costume startlingly authentic and (most likely) professionally made. Kurt shakes his head, looking back at his friend, who might not be wearing a professionally made costume, but at least one that fits. "I'm going to stick out like a sore thumb."

"You usually do," Santana mutters. Rachel steps back and digs her square heel into Santana's toe.

"Please?" Rachel begs over the sound of Santana's cursing over her "broken toe". "I bet you did something great with it…whatever it was."

Kurt looks down at his hands, which he had painted to match his face, and considers the implications of exposing what he knows is beneath his coat. But he worked so hard to fix it and he came all this way. He's not going to turn back now.

"Alright," he says. "I'll let you see it. But one person laughs and I put it back on."

"One person besides Santana," Rachel adds, pretty sure Santana's planning on laughing no matter what.

So did Kurt. That's what he was counting on.

"Okay," he says, turning around and removing his coat. Rachel takes fit rom him and folds it over her arm. Even before Kurt turns to face her, giving her the full reveal, she can see what Santana did, and the lengths Kurt went work with it.

"Uh…" Rachel says. "Wow."

"Yeah," Santana chuckles sarcastically, "wow is right."

Kurt turns around, a long, ambiguous cat tail swaying behind him. Rachel can tell that what he's wearing started off as a plain black leotard, but he sponge painted it to add stripes. He did the same to the black tights he wore. Taking a page from the Rachel Berry handbook, he added a pair of black leg warmers, wearing them on his arms like slouchy, fingerless gloves.

"Kurt," Rachel says, folding her hands under her chin, "you look…"

"Ridiculous?" he asks, tugging self-consciously at the elastic gather under the swell of his left cheek.

"No," Rachel says.

"Yes," Santana answers.

"You don't," Rachel says honestly. "But if he did," she emphasizes dramatically, "it wouldn't be his fault, because you ordered him the wrong costume."

"You put me in charge of ordering the costumes," Santana says, "so technically that's your fault. And FYI, he didn't have to wear it."

"Santana!"

"It's alright," Kurt says, reaching for his coat, which Rachel moves to keep away.

"No, it's not," Rachel says. "Santana, why are you being such a…"

"It's fine, Rachel," Kurt says. "I really wasn't in the mood to be here anyway."

"Come on, Kurt," she pleads, tugging lightly when he grabs hold of his coat. "Stay. It's not going to be any fun without you."

Kurt smiles softly at his friend. He knows what she was trying to do. He doesn't blame her for any of this. But the fact remains that tragic wardrobe malfunction notwithstanding, he doesn't think he's ready for this step yet.

He doesn't need some guy taking one look at him and laughing in his face to remind him that he isn't enough.

"I think I'm just going to go home. I mean, wha-"

"What's new, pussy cat?" a deep voice behind him says. Kurt spins quickly, catching the gaze of Avan, one of the dancer's from Cassie July's Advanced Jazz class, looking him up and down. Another dancer comes up to join him, a student from the same class, who Kurt thinks is named Marco.

"Hey, Kurt," the second dancer says. "Man, you look incredible. I didn't know you got the memo."

"Memo?"

"Yeah," a third dancer says, the T.A. from one of Ms. July's Master classes. "The guys in the dance department always come together on a group costume idea every year." Kurt blinks a few times and looks anew at the crowd of men gathering, noticing for the first time that each one of them is dressed like a cat, in costumes kind of like his (only more professional, more planned out…better) though none of them has any make-up on. "If we knew you'd be down, we'd have just flat-out invited you."

"Kurt…" This voice he knows. Xander, from his stage fighting class, the one that Kurt remembered being rather enthusiastic about seeing him with his shirt off. "That's a…I mean…you look…incredible."

"Uh, I already said that, Xander," Marco teases, elbowing the stunned man in the ribs.

"Oh…" Xander looks surprised, and maybe a little flustered, "um…I…" Unable to think of a different adjective to use, Xander stops muttering, the men around him sharing a knowing look.

"You really think so?" Kurt asks, still painfully unsure. He knows the guys aren't making fun of them. There are some catty people in the dance department, but these guys have always been cool. He's just afraid they might be trying hard to make him feel better about himself when in reality, like Santana said, he looks ridiculous.

But there's no mistaking the hungry stare of the man who breaks through the crowd of dancers and takes his hand. Angel – the epitome of the tall, dark, muscular dancer. Kurt's not even certain that Angel is his name. He thinks people just call him that.

"Absolutely," he says. "That is one fantastic costume."

"Look, we're heading back to NYADA to get our furry faces on," Marco says, a few of the guys chuckling at his choice of words, "and then we're hitting a party in the Village."

"Is that one better?" Kurt asks, blushing underneath his make-up, not accustomed to having so many approving eyes on him.

"Yeah," Avan says. "It's super exclusive for the dance guys only, put on by an alum of the department."

"He throws it for us every year," Angel adds.

"Yeah," Xander says. "This party's hats" – he peeks past Kurt at Rachel and Santana – "no offense."

"None taken," Kurt says on their behalf, tossing on his coat.

"Allow me." Xander takes the coat from Kurt's hands and helps Kurt slip it on.

"Hey! Where are you going, Lady Hummel?" Santana asks, following behind when she sees Kurt and the guys walking towards the door. "We were supposed to be a trio. We got matching costumes and everything, remember?"

"I'm taking these guys up on their offer," Kurt says, flashing Santana as wicked a grin as he can. "I recommend that you girls don't wait up."