Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.

It was one of those days where he woke up knowing it was going to suck.

Kurt curled up in one of the plush red velvet seats of the Dalton auditorium, only half awake. He had only woken up half an hour earlier by David and Wes pounding on his door, hollering something about him being late. Reluctantly he had dragged himself into the shower, dressed carelessly in a tee shirt and track pants, and dragged himself down the arduous flights of stairs to the auditorium.

Unfortunately, it seemed like he was the only one who was so displeased. The other members of the Warblers laughed and chatted loudly, although how they could possibly be so cheerful at seven o'clock in the morning was beyond him.

Kurt scowled into his coffee. If this had been a normal weekend, he would have gone home last night. He could have slept in for hours in his own cozy bed, gone for a shopping trip with Mercedes and Quinn and Brittany, and then returned home for a nice dinner with his family. But no, Dalton had their stupid tradition of holding a massive Christmas concert with the girl's school down the way.

Kurt rubbed his eyes and yawned. Privately he was sure that this concert was far more effort than it was worth. They had spent every rehearsal since sectionals debating the merits of various Christmas songs over others and what the St. Liliana's Larks were going to select. And of course, the stupid debate over solos had started up again. He scowled fiercely as he remembered. On one hand, he had won a solo on his second try. On the other, it was definitely not the one he wanted.


He looked up sleepily. Blaine stood over him smiling, a coffee cup in his hands. His dark hair was tousled and he was dressed in a Dalton tee shirt and sweatpants. Kurt looked away from Blaine to the steaming cup in his hand. "Thanks," he said, his voice still faint and cracking from sleep.

Blaine handed him a cup and sat down beside him as Kurt took a sip of the hot toffee mocha latte. "You don't look very happy," he commented.

"It's too early for this," Kurt mumbled into his coffee.

Blaine regarded him over the rim of his cup. "You're still upset over losing out on the solo you wanted, aren't you?" he said.

"No," he said quickly. He sighed as Blaine raised an eyebrow at him. "It still stings a little, all right?"

"Don't feel bad," Blaine said. "Everyone wants the lead vocal for 'O Holy Night.' You should have seen the Larks last year when they got to have the song. They fought like crazy. They ended up having to go with a quartet, and no one was happy." He frowned. "Then they took their residual anger out on us during German spotlight. It was horrible."

Kurt sort of smiled. "And at least I got a solo on my second try, I guess," he said.

Blaine nudged him lightly. "That's Dalton record," he said. "I auditioned four times before my first one. And you get to sing your first solo in the Christmas concert. That's a big deal."

Kurt smiled for real, even though he was staring at his coffee, and his cheeks warmed a little at the praise. Hopefully he could chalk it up to the hot coffee.

Suddenly Jeff came running down the center aisle of the auditorium. "They're here!" he shouted. Kurt nearly dropped his latte as the Warblers, nearly as one, stampeded past him to the back doors.

"Why are they so excited?" he said, clutching the hot cup in both hands.

Blaine sipped his coffee. "Here come the girlfriends," he said.

"Oh." They sat in companionable silence for a while until they heard the dull roar of the approaching crowd. The Warblers straggled back into the theater, mostly two by two, paired up with pretty prep-school girls. "Should I be scared?" Kurt inquired.

"Oh, no, they'll be fine," Blaine said. "Once the initial joy wears off and we get started with rehearsal, things will get back to normal. Trust me. We take this concert very seriously."

"I see," Kurt said.

"No, it's really serious," Blaine said. "One year, three couples broke up over the Christmas concert."

Kurt's eyes widened. "I see," he repeated.

"The girls are nice, though, for the most part," Blaine said. He stood up and grinned, setting his coffee down on the floor beside Kurt. "In fact…there's one of my favorites."

Kurt glanced up. A sea of girls- well, probably twenty or so- made their way up the center aisle, each one dressed in a carolina blue tee shirt with a gold bird on the front. They were led by a tall blonde girl in glasses; she marched her way to meet Wes in the center of the theater.

The leader of the Warblers council lowered his gaze. "Well, well, well," he said. "It's this time of year again, isn't it, Joanna Neely?"

The aforementioned Joanna Neely crossed her arms. "Don't tell me you're still sulking about losing so dramatically last year, Wesley," she smirked.

Kurt leaned over to Blaine. "She's one of your favorites?" he whispered. "She's terrifying. As in hormonal Quinn Fabray levels of terrifying."

Blaine held up a hand to shush him, grinning. Wes and Joanna stared at each other, then Wes took her by the shoulders and kissed her. "That would be Wes's girlfriend of two and a half years," Blaine explained. "She's on the Larks' council and they're both pretty competitive people, which means they're really amusing."

Kurt wrinkled his nose. "Poster children for a love-hate relationship?" he quipped.


David leaned up behind them, spooking Kurt and nearly causing him to spill his coffee down his shirt. "Think they're going to come up for air any time soon?" he asked. "I think they might be going for a record."

Blaine elbowed him. "Just wait till your girlfriend shows up," he said. "It's like you and Wes have an ongoing bet to see who can suck face the longest. You'd better shield your eyes, Kurt, it's disgusting."

"Oh, I don't know," Kurt said. "You haven't seen Finn with his girlfriend. It's like Rachel is surgically attached to his face."

David frowned. "Where is my girlfriend?" he asked, scanning the crowd.

"Someone probably stuck her in the overhead compartment on the bus and forgot about her again," Blaine snickered.

"Hey," David protested. "That was freshman year, and she's grown a little since then."

"Yeah, a whole half an inch," Blaine laughed. Kurt sighed and drank some more coffee as the two laughed over inside jokes that didn't include him. This was just fabulous.

Wes and Joanna, now untangled, walked over to them, hand in hand. "Hi, Blaine," Joanna said. "I haven't seen you in ages!"

Blaine hugged her. "I know, it's ridiculous," he said. "Sectionals just took up so much more time than we thought it would."

"See, that's what you get for defecting from the chorus circuit to this glee club thing," she laughed. "I saw your sectionals performance, though, it was amazing! I didn't think Train would translate well into a capella, but you proved me wrong."

Wes slapped the back of his hand against his forehead in a mock swoon. "She admitted she was wrong!" he said dramatically. "Quick, someone record this momentous occasion in history!"

She rolled her eyes. "Very funny," she said. Her eyes flicked from Blaine to Kurt. "Hi. I don't believe we've met."

"Kurt Hummel, the newest…and most confused Warbler," he said.

She smiled. "I'm Jo," she said. "I've heard a lot about you from these guys."

"Good things, I hope," he said.

"Plenty of good things," she reassured him. He relaxed a little and smiled. There was something about her that reminded him of Mercedes-now that she had stopped being so scary- and that made him feel a little better about being surrounded by so many strange girls. "Wes keeps talking about how you have an amazing vocal range."

"He can hit the same notes as your first sopranos!" Wes boasted. "I'm telling you, Jo, we're going to best you this year."

Jo pinched his cheek. "A countertenor isn't going to help you win at German spotlight," she said.

"Is the game really that serious?" Kurt said. "Should I be afraid for my mortal life?"

"Probably," David said. "Jo, where on earth is my girlfriend?"

Jo glanced over her shoulder. "No idea," she said. "Should we go check the overhead compartments on the bus?"

"Oh, wait, there she is," David said, grinning as a petite redhead waltzed up the center aisle with a duffle bag over her shoulder.

Kurt blinked as David went up the aisle to meet her. While Jo had paired her blue Lark tee shirt with sensible black yoga pants, David's girlfriend was wearing navy shorts that said PINK on the rear and a pair of fuchsia tights. The combination was making his eyes hurt a little.

"Wes! Blaine!" the redhead called. She skipped up to Wes and hugged him, then flung her arms around Blaine's waist and kissed him on the cheek. "I missed you guys. The choral competition was so boring without you. Did you know that I'm still mad at you for switching to the glee club brackets?"

Seeing as how she said this with a bright smile, Kurt didn't think he needed to take her anger seriously. Wes laughed. "You'll get over it eventually," he said.

"Maybe," she said, tossing her long red hair over her shoulder.

Blaine leaned over to Kurt. "We didn't start competing as a glee club until a few years ago," he explained. "We used to do the a capella choir circuit." "That makes a little more sense," Kurt said, picking idly at his fingernails.

The redhead turned to look at him. "Oh! Who are you?"

"Lu, this is Kurt Hummel," David said. "Our newest Warbler."

"Kurt, meet Lucy Trevelyan, David's girlfriend," Blaine countered.

"I finally get to meet him," Lucy said. "The mythical Kurt."

"I guess you've heard a lot about me too?" Kurt guessed.

Her large blue eyes danced. "Uh-huh," she said. "David told me you won a solo for the Christmas concert. Congrats!"

"Seriously?" Jo said. "Wow, Kurt, that's impressive. Most new Warblers take at least a semester before getting a solo, much less one for the Christmas concert."

He could feel his cheeks turning a little red. "Um, thank you," he said.

Lucy nudged Blaine. "Oh, you're right," she said. "He is adorable when he blushes."

Kurt snapped his head around so fast to stare at Blaine that he was fairly certain he had given himself whiplash. Blaine didn't look fazed, but he clamped a hand over Lucy's mouth. "Jo, shouldn't we get started?" he said loudly. "Miss Medford will be here at nine to check up on our progress."

Jo glanced down at the silver watch on her wrist. "Crap," she said. "Yeah, we're behind already."

"I bet I can get the Warblers settled before you can get your Larks," Wes said.

"Oh, you're on, Wesley."

"Try me, Joanna."

Jo put her fingers in her mouth and let out a piercing whistle. Kurt dropped his (thankfully empty) coffee cup. "Larks on the left," she hollered.

Wes gave a running leap and jumped onto the stage. "Warblers, to the right!" he shouted.

"House right or stage right?" Jeff called.

"Uh…stage! Stage right!"

Jo smirked at her boyfriend. "I believe I win," she said, gesturing to the rows of girls already sitting in their seats. Wes huffed, glowering at the Warblers.

Kurt sat back down as David and Trevor joined Wes at the front. Jo glided up the stage steps, flanked by two other girls that he assumed made up the Lark's council. "Ladies and gentlemen," Wes called. "Welcome to the annual all-day rehearsal for the Dalton Academy-slash-St. Liliana's Christmas Concert!"

Kurt joined the excited catcalls and cheers with polite applause. He didn't see why he had to be all excited about this. He ought to be at home right now, still asleep in preparation for an enjoyable weekend.

"Now, our arts director, Miss Medford, will be checking in on us regularly to monitor our progress, so we'd better get started," Wes said.

Jo pulled a folded piece of paper out of her pocket. "We'll start with the group numbers and work through those," she said. "We'll break for lunch, then the Larks get two hours of rehearsal time for their numbers, then the Warblers get two hours. House opens at five and the concert starts promptly at six, so we'd better get ready." She looked at Wes over the frames of her glasses. "Would you like to lead warmups, or shall we?"

"We'll do it," David said.

Kurt sat through half an hour of Warbler-led warmups. It was slightly odd to hear girl voices again; he had almost gotten used to the strange world of all male voices, although he did ache to hear a piano or a guitar or even the drums or something. At least the warmups allowed him to wake up completely (although in all fairness, he chalked part of it up to the coffee Blaine had given him).

"All right, first things first," Wes said. "Riser positions. Let's have the basses up here first."

Blaine leaned over to Kurt. "This is going to take a while," he said, his breath warm against his ear. "See, for our individual performances, we already know our positions and blocking. Now we somehow have to combine everybody."

"Yeah, I figured that part out," Kurt sighed. He folded his arms across his stomach and propped his feet up on the seat in front of him. "Today is going to involve a lot of sitting around, isn't it?"

Blaine slung his arms over the backs of the seats on either side- meaning that, incidentally, one arm was perilously close to being draped over Kurt's shoulders. "Well, we'll sit around a lot until everyone's in position," he said. He started ticking the order of the day off on his fingers. "Then we spend the rest of the day running around like mad men. Then we perform. Then we sit around and eat way too many cookies. Then we run around in the freezing cold until one in the morning."

"Please say this schedule finishes with 'then we all crash and sleep until Christmas'," Kurt moaned.

Blaine laughed. "Pretty much," he said. "Well, sleep till exams, at least."

Kurt rubbed his eyes as Jo summoned the altos to the stage. "Ugh, I forgot about exams," he whined. "If I was still at McKinley, I could sleep through my exams and still pass. Here, I could study for a decade and squeak by with a C if I'm lucky."

"You'll be fine," Blaine said. He squeezed Kurt's shoulder lightly. Kurt's heart started flipflopping despite himself, and he started to lean a little closer.

"Soloists for 'White Christmas,' get up here!" Wes hollered.

Blaine got up from his seat. "Don't pop a vein, Wes, I'm coming," he said. Kurt sighed and settled back against the seat again as Blaine stood up and walked towards the stage.

"Where the crap is my 'White Christmas' soloist?" Jo demanded, staring down the remaining Larks in their seats.

Lucy crossed one leg dramatically over the other. "She's on the stage!" she shouted.


"It's you, you dork!"

Jo paused and blinked as Wes started laughing. "All right, everyone just forget about that," she sighed. "Never mind. I want my 'Best Things' dancers up here."

David jumped up to the stage, following by one of the Larks, a slender girl with curly hair. Wes and Jo argued for a while over their placement before finally putting them in the very center. Blaine stood on the far stage right, hands in his pocket and his dark curly hair flopping over his forehead. Kurt sighed. It was so nice to see what Blaine looked like when his hair wasn't gelled down in a helmet shape.

"Soloists for 'Count Your Blessings,' front and center," Wes called.

Kurt got up reluctantly. It wasn't his dream solo, far from it. It was a cute little song, and it stayed with the White Christmas theme of the finale. But still…he would much rather sing the showy, soaring 'O Holy Night' solo than this. Especially since it was a duet. He cringed as he reached center stage, wishing hope against hope that he at least had a decent partner.

Wes grabbed him by the arm and steered him to the side. "Hold on, hold on, hold on," he said. "We've got Blaine and you on the far ends, and we've got David and Abigail in the center. Where the heck are we going to put Kurt and Lucy?"

Kurt glanced down. The short redhead had somehow sidled up beside him. "I don't know, where are you going to put us?" she asked. She brightened. "Oh, am I singing with you?"

"I suppose so," he shrugged.

She frowned. "You don't seem very excited," she said. "Are you all right?"

He blinked. "I'm fine," he said. "Just…tired, I suppose. It's too early for this."

She smiled and slipped an arm around his waist. "Don't worry, you'll wake up," she reassured him. "And don't let them fool you. This concert is actually really fun." She paused and drew her arm back a little. "Sorry, is this okay? I'm sort of…touchy feely. I drive David nuts sometimes."

"No," he said. "No, it's okay. I don't mind." She gave him a little one-sided hug, and he smiled. If Jo reminded him of Mercedes, all fierceness and snarky smiles, then Lucy reminded him of Brittany, perky innocence personified. Except…he had the sneaking suspicion that she was smarter than his endearing Cheerio.

Jo stepped back, scowling at the assembled singers on the risers. "David and Abigail, out," she said. "Wait, no. Blaine and…wait, I'm the soloist. Blaine, come over here."

Blaine strolled back to center stage, his hands in his pockets. "I see what you're doing," Wes said, tapping his finger against his lips. "All right, David and Abigail on the far sides, Blaine and Jo on the top center, and Kurt and Lucy at bottom row center."

Kurt stepped into the spot they indicated. "No, no, that's not how we want to stage it," Jo interrupted. "Let's try this again. Okay, I'll be on the top center, Blaine and Kurt in the center center, and Lucy in the bottom center."

"You're just discriminating because I'm short," Lucy announced, but she smiled anyways as she hopped into the center spot.

Kurt took his place behind her, next to Blaine, as Wes and Jo continued to argue over where the second sopranos were going in comparison to the baritenors. Blaine yawned hugely, covering his mouth with the back of his hand. Lucy tipped her head back to look at him. "Are you tired too?" she asked sympathetically.

He rested his chin on the top of her head. "Yup," he said. "And the coffee's not helping. But you're wide awake, aren't you?" "You know it," she said cheerfully. "I am the dynamic combination of extrovertedness and natural boundless energy."

Blaine made a face and straightened up. "Kurt, at some point remind me to tell you about the time Wes was mad at David and gave Lucy a Red Bull," he said. "It was hilarious."

Kurt smiled wryly. "Well, Finn told you the story of my brief fling with energy drinks," he said.

Blaine laughed. "And he showed me the video," he said.

"What is this?" Lucy said.

Kurt sighed. "I tried to pull an all-nighter and completely overdosed on Red Bull and cookie dough," he said. "My brother still has videos on his phone. Only extensive blackmailing has prevented him from posting them on Youtube."

"White chocolate macadamia nut."

"Mm," Lucy said. "My favorites. Although I don't think your cookies are nearly as good as mine."

"I don't know, Lu, he made a cake last weekend that was to die for," Blaine said.

Lucy scowled. "Kurt, I don't think I like you anymore," she said.

"She's just kidding," Blaine said. "She likes everybody. Except for Doofus Tom."

"That's because no one likes Doofus Tom," Lucy said darkly.

Kurt stifled a sigh as they launched into yet another inside joke, but lucky for him, Wes and Jo rounded on the combined choir. "All right, everyone's in place," Wes said, putting out his hands. "Remember where you're standing. If you forget where you're standing, Jo and I will kill you."

Jo made her way to the top riser; Wes took his place on the far stage left. "All right, everyone, let's start the opening number," Jo called.

Kurt tugged on his tie. "Don't you people ever wear anything but these uniforms?" he complained.

"Nope," David said cheerfully. "The Dalton Warblers have worn our uniforms to perform ever since 1918."

"No, 1917," Wes corrected. He stalked up and down the green room, hands clasped behind his back. "Wearing the Dalton uniform offers both a sense of unity and a degree of polish to a performance."

Jo rolled her eyes from her spot beside Blaine on the couch. "Wesley, have you been reading the Warbler handbook again?" she asked dryly.

Lucy popped over the edge of the couch and plopped down beside Kurt, draping her legs over his knees and Blaine's. "There's really no need, he has it memorized," she laughed.

Blaine tickled her ankle, making her move her legs, and he leaned over to Kurt. "At least our uniforms are better than the old ones," he said. "The old ones involved poofy knickerbockers and very ugly hats." Kurt shuddered at the mental image. Not even Blaine would look good in that.

The green room lights dimmed momentarily. David leaned over and kissed the top of Lucy's head. "Time to go," he said.

Blaine stood up and held out one hand to Jo and one hand to Kurt to help them up from the couch. "Showtime," he said with a charming grin. "Are you ready?"

Jo smoothed her blonde hair back. "Of course," she said. "You better not mess up our duet, Anderson."

He offered his arm. "As long as you don't," he said.

Kurt trailed behind them up the stairs to the stage. Wes led the way, scowling fiercely. Jo and Blaine walked in front of him, bickering good-naturedly about their duet, and David and Lucy followed him with their hands clasped together. He stifled the urge to sigh. Their happy family of five was all well and good for them, but they had been together long before he came into the picture, and there clearly wasn't a place for him.

The Warblers and the Larks silently assembled on the risers behind the curtain. Kurt took his place as he heard Miss Medford, the Dalton arts director, addressing the gathered audience. He fidgeted slightly in anticipation. His father and Carole were there, probably Finn and Mercedes too. Maybe this wasn't his ideal production, but he was getting a chance to perform, and that was all he needed.

The audience applauded politely at the end of Miss Medford's speech, and Kurt unconsciously stood up straighter as the curtains parted and the combined choir began an a capella rendition of "Christmastime is Here."

He couldn't see anything from his place on the stage; all he could see were white lights in his eyes and a large blurry expanse of crowd. It would have been nice if he could see his family, but oh, well.

The first three numbers were more of the a capella chorus variety than a glee club performance- no dance moves, and a lot of emphasis on background sounds. But they followed "Christmastime is Here" by "Let It Snow" and "Walking in a Winter Wonderland," and judging by the audience reaction, they sounded very good.

After the combined performance, the Warblers left the stage. Kurt filed off the stairs behind the rest of them, but his shoe caught on a step. He felt a warm, sturdy hand on the small of his back brace him; he glanced up to see Blaine smiling down at him. Kurt walked quietly to the assigned rows of seats on the house left side and sat down. Blaine sat down next to him and gave him a gentle, encouraging pat on the knee.

The Larks repositioned themselves on the risers for their first song. Much like the Dalton students, they all blended together in a sea of uniforms- sky blue, black, and gold plaid skirts; long sleeved white blouses; gray vests with a gold school logo; white knee socks; and black shoes, most of the ballet flat or mary jane variety. Despite the sea of similarity, Kurt spotted Jo's silver glasses and blonde hair in the back row, and Lucy's bright red hair somewhere in the middle. They both looked serious and solemn like the other Larks as they sang a somewhat eerie version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

The next song was much prettier, as Jo took the microphone at center stage to sing the solo for "Mary, Did You Know?". She had a soft, rich alto voice, and her lead vocals blended beautifully with the other Larks.

Blaine leaned over. "Wes has been saying since elementary school that he couldn't marry a girl who couldn't sing," he whispered in Kurt's ear. "He heard Jo sing in the eighth grade and decided immediately that he needed to date her."

David leaned in on Kurt's other side. "Of course, at the time, Jo was dating Blaine," he whispered.

Kurt's head whipped around so fast he nearly got whiplash. Blaine hunkered down a little in his seat. "You were what?" Kurt whispered.

"Sh!" Wes hissed from the end of the row. "Girlfriend is singing!"

The Larks transitioned from the more religious Christmas songs to a lively, pretty version of "The Holly and the Ivy," which included some cute, playful choreography. Kurt crossed one leg over the other. He could see why the Larks didn't participate in glee competitions, but he could certainly see them sweeping the awards in a choral competition.

The Larks began the introduction to one of Kurt's favorite Christmas songs, and he couldn't help but bounce a little in his seat. "It's Mariah Carey!" he squeaked in Blaine's ear. Blaine laughed silently and patted his arm.

One of the Larks started the solo for the song in a big, bright mezzo-soprano. Kurt frowned, scanning through the choir. When the soloist reached the first "all I want for Christmas is you," he saw the crowd part to make way for a very small redhead who strutted to center stage like she was six feet tall instead of five.

Kurt's eyes bugged out a little as Lucy started belting out the song. "She's so loud," he whispered.

"Yeah, don't ever get her mad, then she gets really loud," Blaine whispered back. He glanced up at the stage, then over at David. "Aw, look at him."

Kurt glanced over at David. A big goofy grin was plastered over his face as he watched his girlfriend sing. "How presh," he said.

Lucy finished her solo and blended back into the choir for their last song, a bright version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Blaine leaned over to Kurt with his hand on his knee. "We're next," he whispered. "Are you ready?"

Kurt nodded. The Larks finished their portion of the concert and filed off the stage in an orderly fashion amidst the audience's applause. Kurt stood up and followed the Warblers to the risers.

He had admit that he loved their first song. They had chosen "Sleigh Ride" as their opener, and Blaine had been selected to sing the solo. And it was just unfair how fantastic his voice sounded.

However, it was definitely at Kurt's advantage that he was standing in the center section. It gave him the perfect excuse to watch Blaine's…um, watch his dancing.

After the jazzy opening, they transitioned first the "The First Noel" and "We Three Kings." They were both very traditional songs in very traditional arrangements, which initially had sort of irritated Kurt, but they were still very nice.

The fourth song was definitely the best of the set. That was partially be "Carol of the Bells" was one of the best songs ever written, but still. And he loved the high part for it, especially since the first time they had sight-read the piece in rehearsal, David had mimed bowing before him and Wes had stared at him with his mouth agape, successfully rendered speechless- which, as Blaine told him later, hadn't happened since 2006.

His joy at the previous song died down a little when they began their final song. Wes strode to the microphone to sing the lead for "O Holy Night," and the Warblers began the background vocals. Kurt sang along with them, taking the highest vocal part, but it wasn't fair that Wes got to sing it. Sure, he had a great voice, but…but he had really wanted that solo.

The audience clapped at the end of the final number as the Larks rejoined them on the stage. Kurt stepped down to his position for the combined performance, Dalton navy mixing with Liliana blue. His whole body was beginning to spike with adrenaline. It might not have been the solo he wanted, but he had his first Dalton solo, and he was determined to do the best he could.

Their White Christmas-themed set began with "Snow." The different voices blended together wonderfully for the happy, upbeat song. It segued perfectly into "The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing;" David and the curly-haired Lark council member paired up for an impeccable dance number, almost step-for-step the same as the classic Christmas movie. Kurt resisted the urge to fidget from nervousness, but barely. His solo was next.

When the dance number finished, he stepped off the risers, Lucy beside him. Two stagehands brought out a low bench and put it at center, then handed each of them a microphone. Lucy sat down on and patted the empty space beside her, smiling up at him. Kurt sat down as the Larks and the Warblers began the soft, soothing vocals.

"When I'm worried, and I can't sleep," he sang, "I count my blessings instead of sheep." He had to admit that even though he didn't really want this particular solo, it was perfect for his voice. The melody had such a nice lullaby quality to it.

Lucy picked up the song at the end of his verse. "When my bankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all," she sang. Her big bright belt voice softened considerably, blending nicely with his.

They harmonized through the final half of the short song, the choir providing a soft, sweet accompaniment. When they finished singing, the audience was silent for a moment, then burst into applause. Lucy squeezed his hand as they rejoined the rest of the choir on the risers and handed their microphones off to Blaine and Jo.

The two of them walked to center stage to sing "White Christmas." Kurt joined the rest of the Warblers in the harmony, but despite Blaine and Jo's dreamy duet, he had already sort of checked out. Now that his solo was over, he couldn't wait for the concert to be over. It had gone on for far, far too long.

The audience applauded enthusiastically when they finished; Miss Medford walked back onto the stage to thank the choirs for their hard work and thank the audience for coming. Kurt raised up on his toes a little; with the houselights turned on, he was fairly certain he could see his family somewhere in the audience.

After Miss Medford's final speech, the Warblers and the Larks hurried off the sides of the stage, merging with the crowd to talk to friends, family, and the occasional admirer. Kurt slipped away from Blaine in search of his family.

It didn't take long to find them. Someone grabbed him by the elbow and tugged him back as he gave a startled shriek. "Dad!" he exclaimed.

Burt grabbed him in a hug. "You've got some voice, kiddo," he said, hugging him tight. "Glad they picked a song that made you sound so good."

"Thanks, Dad," he said into his father's shoulder, his voice muffled. He took a step back, beaming. "I'm so glad you came."

Burt chucked him lightly on the chin. "We couldn't miss it," he said.

Carole stood beside his father, smiling brightly. "Oh, honey, you were fantastic," she said. She squeezed his shoulder, and he leaned in to hug her. She smoothed his hair. "And you look so happy. I'm so glad."

"I am happy," he said. "I still feel bad about taking your honeymoon away, but I really do like it here."

"Don't you even think about it," Burt said firmly. "You're more important than some trip to Hawaii."

A pair of big arms suddenly grabbed Kurt around the waist and hoisted him up in the air. "Put me down!" he shrieked.

"Fine, fine," Finn said. He dropped Kurt on the ground and ruffled his hair. "That was a pretty great show, dude. Just really long. And there weren't any good pee breaks."

Kurt attempted to put his hair back in order. "I guess that's the sign of a good concert," he said primly. "I'm glad you came, though. I know it's a long drive." "Yeah, but we miss you and stuff, so it's cool," Finn said, stuffing his hands in his pockets with a grin.

Burt put a hand on Kurt's shoulder. "Listen, kiddo, we want to take you out to dinner," he said. "You know any good places around here?"

Kurt bit his lip and glanced around the auditorium. The other students were already rapidly exiting, probably to go change before the Christmas party. "I know of a couple places, but I can't go," he said. "I have to go to a party with the Warblers. They're really big on traditions and I think they'll be upset if I'm not there."

Finn frowned, and Burt looked like he was about to argue, but Carole beat them to it. "We don't want you to get in trouble," she said. She cupped his chin in her hand. "Go on and have fun. You'll be home soon for Christmas break, and we can spoil you to death then." She kissed him on the cheek and he smiled gratefully at her.

"See you next week, dude," Finn said. "I'll try to clean up our room before you get back."

Kurt scowled. "I would definitely appreciate that," he said.

"I'll make sure he does," Burt said.

Kurt glanced over his shoulder. There were only a few uniformed people left in the hall. "I'd better go," he said. "I have to go get changed."

"We'll see you on Wednesday," Carole reassured him.

He offered a little wave goodbye and turned to go. Burt caught him by the arm and tugged him back. He cleared his throat. "So, uh, which one was that Blaine kid you're always talking about?" he asked.

Kurt halted. "He, um…he was the soloist for the last song," he said. "You know. The boy one. With the dark hair."

"Oh," Burt said. "Well, he…he's a real good singer. You know, almost as good as you."

"Thanks," Kurt said, shifting his weight awkwardly.

"And he's…uh…pretty nice looking, and-"

"Dad, it's okay, this doesn't need to be a bonding moment," Kurt said quickly.

Burt relaxed. "Oh, thank God," he said. He clapped his big hands on Kurt's shoulders. "Go have fun at your party thing. I'll see you soon."

"Okay," Kurt said. "Love you, Dad."

Burt grinned. "Love you too, scooter," he said.

Kurt offered a wave to his family and left the auditorium. He ran through the maze of hallways to his dorm room and quickly changed out of his uniform. Thankfully he had picked out his outfit the night before- tight dark pants, a blue and white button-up shirt (that he was well aware brought out the color of his eyes), a gray vest, and his beloved Doc Martens- so it wasn't long before he was back in the Warbler rehearsal hall.

The council had outdone themselves. The spacious choir room was strung with a myriad of white twinkle lights and decked in red, green, and gold Christmas ornaments. The council table was covered with a nice tablecloth, a massive bowl of bright pink punch, and enough cookies to feed an army. The Larks and Warblers spread all over the room in groups of two or three, all of them in festive party clothes and talking loudly over the Christmas music playing on the stereo.

Kurt fiddled with the brooch on his vest as he scanned the room for Blaine and the others. He found them easily enough- they were sprawled on the couches in the center of the room, laughing over something Blaine had just said. He sidled over to them, almost shyly.

Blaine glanced up as Kurt approached. "Oh, there you are," he said. He scooted over to make room for him. "I was wondering where you were."

Lucy patted the empty spot between herself and Blaine. "How did you like your first Dalton-St. Liliana's Christmas concert?" she asked.

Kurt sat down as Lucy moved the full skirt of her royal blue party dress out of the way. "It was fantastic," he said. "You do this every year?"

"Every single year," Wes confirmed. He slung an arm around Jo's shoulder.

"I don't know what Wes will do with himself when he graduates and can't micromanage the Warblers anymore," Jo said.

David shrugged. "He'll probably just pick his college based solely on the quality of their a capella group, and then change his major every semester so he's forced to graduate as a seven-year senior," he said.

"That's not the only criteria," Wes said primly.

Lucy leaned over towards Jo. "But it's the main one, isn't it?" she asked. Jo smirked and nodded.

Kurt sat by awkwardly as they started talking about Wes's earliest attempts, as a freshman, to lobby for a position on the Warblers council. He'd heard it mentioned before, but they had all been involved, and they joked about all sorts of little things that Kurt didn't understand. And then they started comparing it to Lucy's attempts to make head cheerleader, to which she began to argue vehemently, and that led into a playful squabble between Jo and Lucy with their boyfriends egging them on, and…

Kurt leaned back against the couch and sulked unashamedly with his arms crossed over his stomach. He was used to feeling left out during Warbler conversations, but that was different. Usually Blaine sat by him with his hand on his knee, explaining what was going on and the various silly Warbler traditions. And that was nice.

But now Blaine was caught up with his friends. He and David and Wes (who were clearly best friends) were howling over inside jokes, and Jo and Lucy teased them unmercifully. Nobody really remembered he was there.

Kurt sighed. Might as well drown my sorrows in empty calories, he thought. He slid off the couch, unnoticed, and made his way over to the table full of cookies. He nibbled aimlessly on a small sugar cookie, but it left his mouth dry, so he ladled a little bit of the pink punch into the cup and took a sip.

It tasted like any other holiday punch, sweet and tangy but with a faint hint of vanilla. Kurt drained the cup and filled it up again. His throat felt a little raspy after singing for two hours straight, so he probably should drink something, even if it was full of sugar.

"Hey, Kurt, awesome job tonight," Trevor said. He picked up a plate and piled cookies onto it. "And congrats on the solo."

Kurt swallowed another sip of punch. "Thanks," he said. "You too."

Trevor gave him a funny look. "Yeah," he said. "Well, uh, I'd better get back. The girlfriend's waiting."

Kurt waved as Trevor walked away without getting any punch. He sighed. He couldn't even get Trevor to pay attention to him. And Trevor would talk to anyone. He refilled his cup.

He looked back over to the couches in the center of the room. They were still laughing over their silly inside jokes. It just wasn't fair. It wasn't like he was asking for a lot or anything. He didn't want to be the center of attention, he just wanted some attention.

Especially from Blaine.

Without thinking Kurt poured more punch into his cup. That was what he wanted, really. Attention from Blaine. He just didn't know how he was supposed to do it.

He had mastered the fine art of attention-seeking when it came to New Directions. Wear something outlandish, sing very loudly, and reply to any and all criticisms with a snarky retort. Plain and simple.

But Dalton, the Warblers, and Blaine in particular were not quite so plain and simple.

He ladled out another cupful of punch while he kept thinking. Why couldn't things be plain and simple? He liked things like that. Not too complicated. Just…straightforward. That was nice.

Kurt stood by the punch bowl for most of the party, idly sipping from his cup and refilling it when necessary. Other singers stopped by and chatted with him briefly as they picked out cookies, although none of them came near the punch. That was fine with him, though. More for him. It really was the best stuff he'd ever had. It was like…like strawberries and cream, but all…liquid-y.

The party had been going on for a while when Wes stood up and tried to get their attention, to no avail. Jo finally rolled her eyes, plunged her fingers in her mouth, and let out an ear-splitting whistle. Kurt nearly dropped his cup, but he didn't, so it was okay, and he drained it dry quickly before anyone gave him the chance to drop it.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Larks and Warblers…" he announced dramatically. "It is time for the 2010 German Spotlight Showdown!"

The singers all burst into loud applause and shrieks of excitement. "Everybody, get into your war gear and meet us on the front lawn in ten minutes!" Jo shouted over the noise.

Kurt clutched his punch cup and tried to catch up to Blaine, but he wasn't quite fast enough. He caught Trevor's arm as he passed by. "What are we doing?" he asked.

Trevor didn't glance back as he jogged towards the dorm wing. "Putting on all black clothes," he said. "You wear all black, less chance of getting spotted."

"Oh," Kurt said. He paused to think about that, but soon he was left far behind, so he picked up his speed and trotted back to his room.

Okay. All black. He could do this.

He had…black pants. Black button up shirt. Black sweater. And of course, black boots. And he had black socks too! Perfect! No one would ever see him!

Kurt dropped the punch cup on his desk and changed out of his nice outfit and into every black item he had. He had a pair of black gloves, but they had big white logos on the backs. For a little while he just stared at them, frowning, because obviously he couldn't wear those because obviously he'd get spotted, but then he brightened, grabbed a black sharpie, and colored them in.

Too bad he didn't have a black hat. That would be perfect. Especially if it was a black fedora. Because then he could be totally like Indiana Jones, who was one of his first man-crushes, and he would be so hot that Blaine would be forced to pay attention to him because, seriously, who doesn't think Indiana Jones is hot?

Kurt strutted out of his dorm room in his black ensemble and made his way to the front lawn. It was cold outside, with a decent layer of snow on the ground, and for a moment he wondered if he should have put a coat on.

The Larks and Warblers stood on opposite sides of the lawn, glaring fiercely at each other. He squinted in the darkness and spotted Blaine, David, and Wes standing to the side. "What's going on?" he asked.

"Handing out flashlights," David said. "We're going first for this round, since the Larks beat us last year."

"That is their last win," Wes said darkly. "Never again. Never again!"

Blaine handed Kurt a flashlight. "Try to shine your light on as many Larks as possible," he said. "If they get caught in the beam, they have to go back to base."

"Which is the choir room," David added.

"When all the Larks are caught-"

"-which they will be," Wes interrupted.

Blaine rolled his eyes. "When all the Larks are caught, we switch," he said. "The winning team is the one who catches all their enemies the fastest."

"Last year it took twelve minutes for them to find everyone," David reported.

Kurt laughed. "Oh my god, you guys are so stupid!" he said.

Wes glared at him, but he was interrupted by the Lark council striding towards them. "All right, Wesley," Jo said. "We have five minutes to spread out before you start looking for us."

"Agreed," Wes said. "Trevor, begin the countdown."

"Countdown to what?"

Wes grabbed Trevor's arm and started poking at his watch. "Oh, come on, just set the timer on your…there we go," he said. "Run, Joanna. Run. I'll catch you."

"Oh, I seriously doubt that," Jo said with a wicked grin. She signaled to the Larks, and the girls disappeared into the darkness.

Kurt sidled closer to Blaine, but he had already joined David and Wes in an in-depth discussion of possible hiding places and key strategies. He pouted, but even his ferocious talent at making kicked-puppy faces wasn't enough to get Blaine's attention. Sad. He wished he had more punch.

Trevor's watch beeped. "Onward, gentlemen!" David screeched, raising his flashlight and flicking the switch.

Kurt fumbled with his flashlight, but by the time he had it turned on, everyone else had fled. "Wait up, you guys," he whined.

He jogged through the snow, his flashlight bobbing in his hand. Far off in the distance, on the expansive Dalton grounds, he could see other little bobbing lights and hear shrieks as girls ran away and boys searched for them.

Kurt frowned. He couldn't see anything. Maybe if he was taller he could see things.

He meandered around the lawn, ducking in and out of stately trees. They could work to make him taller, but he wasn't all that good at tree-climby things. Maybe just a nice bench would do.

He saw a low wall a few yards away and he brightened. That would be perfect! Just enough height to help him see better.

Kurt slid the flashlight down the collar of his sweater and giggled when he saw the light shining through the weave. It looked kind of funny. Like a wool disco ball.

He climbed carefully onto the wall and glanced around. However, he should have glanced down, because that would have helped him realize a few things.

Like how the wall wasn't really a wall, it was the lip of a fountain.

And how even though the fountain was turned off, it was still full of water.

And that there were large patches of ice on the edge.

And in particular, there was one under his shoe.

Kurt tried to take a step, but he immediately fell backwards, his legs flipping out from under him, and he slammed backwards into the water. "Oh my god, it's so cold!" he hollered. Or at least, he tried to holler…it came out more like "ohmahgersokol!"

He tried to get the flashlight out of his sweater. It slipped in the squishy grip of his wet gloves, but he tried to get a good idea of his surroundings. Mostly all he saw, though, were stars. He wasn't entirely sure if they were actual stars or not.

He floundered in the water, trying to get his balance back, but the water had soaked pretty thoroughly into his clothing and he was having trouble getting up. Oh God. This was just like Titanic. And he didn't even have a door.

A girl's face appeared in his line of vision and he swung the flashlight in her eyes. "I got you!" he said.

She covered her eyes with the back of her gloved hand. "Kurt?" she said. "What on earth are you doing?"

"I'm drowning," he told her matter-of-factly. "And I don't have a door."

She wrinkled her nose. "Kurt, you're not drowning," she said. "You're in ten inches of water. Stand up." Kurt batted at her face. "Rose, give me my door back," he whined.

"Kurt, it's Lucy," she said. "Just take my hand, okay? I'll help you out."

"No," he said. "If I take your hand, you'll just let go, and then I shall drown."

"Kurt, did you hit your head?" she asked. She took off her glove and plunged her hand into the cold water to touch the back of his head. "You've got a pretty bad bump. C'mon, get out of there before you freeze."

"Rose, get off the door!" he complained.

Lucy frowned. "Kurt, do you think you're in Titanic?" she asked.

"You're on my door!"

"Kurt, you are not Jack, and we are not in Titanic, and you don't even love Rose, because you're gay, remember?" she said. "Come on, get out there, you're going to…Kurt, why do you smell like alcohol?"

He frowned. "I dunno," he said. "Get off my door!"

Lucy rolled her eyes. "You are impossible," she informed him. She glanced around the darkened school grounds. "And now it'll be impossible to find Blaine, and he's probably the only one who can get you out."

Kurt pointed up at her. "I like Blaine, I don't like alcohol," he informed her, shaking his finger for emphasis. "Now gimme my door!"

"Oh my god, you are so drunk!"

Author's Notes: