A/N: Somehow, not watching Glee has become synonymous with not having a TV. This has become one of our favorite shows (of course we don't own it. You crazy?) And this story has been so much fun to write. For those who get confused easily, the You is Kurt. Everyone's writing letters to him, savvy?
"Hi. I'm Kurt Hummel and I'll be auditioning for the role of kicker." Glee
Days and weeks and months later, I still go back to that day when I decided to try the Southern circuit. The temptation was probably fueled by my own high school days, when Glee was cool, when we competed all over the country, when I was the golden boy.
Terri always accused me of trying to relive my high school days. I never thought my dabbling would have that big an impact on anyone, on you.
I'd been to El Paso before, with Glee, and I remembered it for its great Mexican food and other, less discrete distractions. Getting the trip past the Board of Education was a joke once I mentioned the Cheerios planned Spring Fling to the Bahamas. At least we didn't have to travel through foreign affairs on the flight to Texas.
You must remember how excited the whole group was at the mention of a field trip, laughing, already planning out roommates. You were the first one to pipe up, to ask what we were singing, when we were leaving. When I said the trip was at the end of the week, you said, with that dramatic flair you always have. Had. "We need to pack, Mr. Shue!"
"Not all of us need twenty hair products." Puck shot at you, and perhaps I was the only one to realize he'd left off the fag. Maybe because he was getting to know you? Maybe because he saw how your façade crumbled a bit every time that word was hurled, like a bullet, like a slap in the face.
"Not all of us can throw a pair of boxers in a paper bag and say we're ready, Neanderthal." You shot back, and high-fived Mercedes, grinning. Surprisingly, Puck was smirking, too, and not in the You're-so-going-in-the-dumpster kind of way.
Did that mean I was doing something right? Or did this change of heart have nothing to do with me at all?
You didn't think I'd overheard you, weeks ago, talking to Artie after the diva-off for the Wicked piece. I knew you wanted to sing it, I knew you would have sung it perfectly, and the conversation only confirmed my suspicions.
"What happened, Kurt? I heard you practice. You hit that note every time." You were one of the people who would walk slow to stay next to Artie, who seemed to listen to him, not out of misguided pity but because he was – is – a good person.
"I messed up on purpose." I knew it.
Neither of you noticed me, and perhaps this was the point where I should make my presence known, hovering just outside the door to the Glee room, but I wanted to hear the answer, too.
You paused for a second, as if wondering if you could trust Artie with a secret of this magnitude, though you let everything out in the end. Good choice. Artie is too kind to betray a trust. "I'm gay."
"Well, so does my dad. And if I hadn't told him, the phone calls would have." The frustration and anger in your voice almost (almost) masked the fear.
For his part, Artie didn't pretend to misunderstand, didn't ask for more details. "Oh." Then, voicing the exact question I wanted to ask, "Did they hurt you?"
"No worse than usual, though the wardrobe has been taking more of a hit of late. Dumpster diving is back in full swing. I just wish they'd be more inventive." You sighed, as if genuinely concerned for the jocks' imaginations.
Remembering that foray into eavesdropping, I asked you to stay late the day I announced the trip. You yelled to Mercedes and Artie, waiting for you at the door, to go ahead, that you'd find your own ride home, thanks anyway.
"Kurt." I hated to say this, I hated it so much, but you deserved to know, to be warned. "We're going to El Paso this weekend."
"Mmm-hmm." You obviously knew this. The only time we weren't talking about going to Texas was when we rehearsed the opening act we were going to perform there (Avenue Q, by your overwhelming vote and no small amount of peer pressure, again by you).
I just had to get it out, "I don't want anyone to get…hurt." I was thinking of rednecks, of your new rainbow necklace, of loud mouths and misunderstandings.
You stared at me for a second before the worst thing happened. Your eyes shuttered – not closed, that would have been easier. It was like they turned dead. Black. You looked down, cheeks aflame, already embarrassed for something you couldn't control. "I…I didn't think about that, Mr. Shue."
"It's not going to be an issue." I assured you, "This is all just a precaution, a heads up. You'll be with Glee. Just stick around Finn or Puck or…Mercedes. They'll scare anyone away." That got a smile, at least. "I just want to be smart about this."
"I don't want to change who I am." You said, but when your eyes met mine I knew you were looking for guidance, for me to tell you what to do to make sure that no one hated you at first sight.
I touched your arm, smiled widely, and said with more conviction than I actually felt, "Don't worry, you won't have to. It'll be okay."
Not even a week later, you were hooked up to machines, hanging on for dear life. Only the quick actions of the football Glee members had saved us from standing over your coffin.
And I wondered, as I watched you struggle for breath, praying for an intervention, a miracle to save what was left of your dignity, your sanity, hoping the police hunted down the bastards who beat you so badly…could I have stopped this?