WELCOME TO THE BRIGHT LIGHTS—Ch. 1: Roads
READ ME: The idea for this multi-chapter story came to me when I was aboard a plane...the plane became a bus, and the bus became Dalton's. After I finished writing the very first rough draft, I kind of let it sit, abandoned, in one of the lonely, empty folders on my Google Docs account. Then my friend BeRightThere, a fellow Klaine worshipper, invited me to try my hand at rewriting bits and chunks of this...plus, she helped edit. Which was absolutely amazing.
This fic is written in Blaine's point of view, with Kurt's journal entries interspersed throughout.
Who's seen the Entertainment Weekly cover with Kurt and Blaine on it? So freshly dapper. What did you guys think? Drop a comment if you feel like it.
And snuggly wuggly. Less than three, Klaine. Less than three.
P.S. EPIC UKELELE PICTURE IS EPIC.
P.P.S. Preview for the Warbler rendition of "Bills, Bills, Bills"? Amazing cover of an amazing song. By Destiny's Child. Therefore, these Warblers are freaking AMAZING through the transitive property.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Glee. Ryan Murphy does. Coincidentally, I went to junior high with a dude named Ryan Murphy. It wasn't the same Ryan Murphy, though. Which is mildly depressing.
Kurt Hummel was, in all technicality, far too fabulous for the Dalton Academy Warblers.
Which was exactly why I found myself gasping in a totally not Blaine way and sputtering out, "What the hell are you wearing?"
To which the effeminate countertenor replied smoothly, "On the contrary, what are you wearing?" Kurt's eyes had skimmed over my outfit distastefully, lingering especially on my thick white tube socks. "That's strangely disappointing," he added as sort of an afterthought.
I was shocked at Kurt's choice of dress. The Warblers had placed first at Regionals (beating out the New Directions as well as Vocal Adrenaline with the help of Kurt) and were heading to New York City for the 2011 Show Choir National Championships, and we were all going by private bus. It was going to take a collective total of ten hours to get there. Of course, we were taking a pit stop in the middle of the entire ordeal to refuel and get some rest at a business hotel, but even that didn't explain why Kurt was wearing...
Don't get me wrong. I'm an avid patronizer of fashion and the arts—just as much as Kurt is. But for long, excruciating bus rides? Not so much. And apparently the rest of the Warblers shared in my sentiments. Even the flamboyantly gay ones. All of the Warblers, with the exception of one Kurt Hummel, had boarded the rented shuttle in Dalton-issued sweatpants and sweaters, complete with thick wool socks and heinous tennis shoes. Granted, my sweatpants were slightly more attractive than everyone else's—fitted and not overly tight—but I was still aware of the fact that I was making bird crap look attractive, regardless of my obvious Dalton pride.
I looked like I didn't care what the hell I looked like.
And in retrospect, I really didn't care at all. I hated traveling uncomfortably. I hated bus seats, even the expensive, padded ones. I disliked the chilled turkey-tomato sandwiches that Mr. Goolsby, our clueless glee club director, filled the Styrofoam coolers in the bus trunk with. And I hated staring at the plain Ohio spring scenery for hours on end.
"Are you ready for this?" asked Kurt as I slid into the aisle seat next to him. He had a brown patent leather messenger bag sitting on his lap primly, and his legs were crossed.
I gave him another once-over.
His outfit was undeniably ridiculous. I suppose he was trying to take advantage of one of the only times he wasn't forced to wear the signature navy-and-red Dalton Academy tie and blazer.
Kurt had volumized his thick brown hair to the extreme—it stuck up about four inches from his scalp. He was wearing an iguana-green turtleneck sweater, and his belted orange peacoat was hanging on the peg by the bus window. And as if to make matters worse, he had donned tight, white, and totally unnecessarily bleached skinny jeans that must have been a pain to travel with. What if they got stained? Or what if, God forbid, his underwear showed through?
Hey, Hummel, boxers or briefs? thought hormonally-charged Blaine.
Shut the hell up, replied Mentor-Blaine flatly.
Ignoring my wild thoughts, I grinned up at Kurt, patting his knee with my hand, albeit awkwardly. "Ready as I'll ever be. This'll be the most tedious ten hours of my life," I told him, even though I knew the part about the ride being tedious was a complete lie.
He nodded eagerly, a smug smile appearing on his face. "You're underestimating my skills of entertainment, Anderson," he said, the smooth palm of his hand dancing across my own.
After a foot-stomping and hand-clapping fifteen-minute Warbler rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus" in four-part harmony, Kurt began to nod off, his head resting against my shoulder. His hair poked against my chin, and I was astonished at just how soft it was–it didn't seem like he had put that much styling product at all. I took a moment to thank the stars that I had opted out of gelling my hair. My own dark curly hair took tons of gel to tame–I was certain that it had the potential to gouge eyes out.
Creepy as it may sound, it was fun to watch Kurt as he slept. When awake, Kurt only wore several expressions on his face, and none of them looked remotely calm at all. He had a bitch face, and an angry face, and a sassy face, and a tormented face, and a performance face...
But when he was asleep, Kurt's features relaxed and he looked absolutely at peace. In retrospect, it would have been amazing to see Kurt awake with such a soft expression on his face, mostly because I was sure that his blue-green-gray eyes would complement the whole angelic look he had going on.
Way to sound like a pedophile, Blaine.
There was a sound of shuffling a few feet away from me, and a low grunt as someone stood up halfway in their chair.
"Hey, Blaine," whispered David from the seat right across from my own. He was seated in the window seat, and I tried not to crack up as he leaned over Wes' sleeping form (he was drooling copiously on his Dalton Academy hoodie, and he immediately began mumbling something about corn bread when David moved him out of the way). David shook the sheaf of paper he had in his hands and pointed to one of the lines. "Hey, look...uh, Jeff signed up to room with Kurt before you did. Should I–?"
I shot a look back at the peacefully sleeping Kurt, and then another at Wes, who was still dozing soundly even with David leaning over him. The former shifted noticeably in his sleep, and a furrow appeared briefly in his porcelain-perfect forehead before smoothing out.
I brought my eyes to David's, and he nodded sympathetically.
"Jeff who?" I questioned, even though I thought I already knew the answer.
Oh. Jeff Simon. The bottle-blond one who had asked Kurt to the Valentine's Formal before I even got the courage to. The one who sat in the hallways in between classes, trying to look deep and artsy by playing folksy songs on a twelve-string guitar. The one who didn't get the solo for Sectionals or for Regionals. That Jeff.
"You say yes and this conversation never happened, man, even to Wes," David added with a mischievous grin and a calculated wiggling of his dark eyebrows. He must have picked up on my oh-so-fabulously concealed resentment for any of Kurt's many suitors.
"Thanks, David," I replied with a content sigh, sinking back into my seat in relief. Kurt's head snuggled up a little bit closer to my shoulder, almost on instinct.
"No problem, man." I could already perceive David hurriedly taking a thick black Sharpie to the roommate list. I hoped no one could hear the frantic squeaking of the pen as it dragged across the paper. Particularly Jeff. Of the Simon variety.
You need to calm down, Blaine.
I tried to slow down my inhalations by matching them up with those of the boy who was leaning against my broad, hideously-dressed shoulder.
Five minutes and I had already fallen asleep to the rhythm of Kurt's breathing.
April 15, 2011. Five-thirty P.M. Somewhere near Mansfield, Ohio.
I can't believe the Warblers actually made it to Nationals. But we're actually here. On the bus, I mean. The bus to New York City, New York, where Nationals is going to be happening in less than a week.
Blaine thinks that I'm sleeping, probably. He's sleeping on my shoulder right now...and even though this journal is on the memory card of a password-protected iPhone, I'm still all paranoid about someone coming to find it.
Mostly because of those embarrassing past entries about the aforementioned Blaine Anderson. I know that I've declared my oh-so-immortal love for Mr. Anderson many times, but...nothing's happened. Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. I swear to God, Wes is getting more romantic gestures from David than I'm gettingfrom Blaine. And Wes and David are straight and in steady relationships with women. I guess I'll always just be Blaine'slittle battered homosexual pet project.
But the funny thing is that I don't really seem to care anymore. I think I actually might be getting over Blaine. Is that weird?
No. Honorary girl empowerment. It feels right.
By the time I woke up due to the fiery rage of the spitballs targeted at me by Thad, Nick, and David, Kurt was already awake and lucid. His hair had flattened slightly in slumber and he was peering at his reflection in the window, running his the fingers of his left hand through the strands worriedly. His right hand clutched his iPhone to his side, and I smiled at that. Typical Kurt.
Yawning and stretching my arms out as far as the limited space allowed me, I turned to him and asked, "What time is it?"
Kurt ceased in his frenzied hair-fixing efforts and dutifully checked his Rolex. "Nine-thirty P.M., to be exact." He furrowed his brow in concentration as he did the mental math before finishing with a rushed, "We've been on the road for four hours."
"Lovely," I said with an easy smile. I ran my fingers through my hair and laughed along with Kurt when I came across a huge knotted tangle in it.
Fifteen minutes later, Wes stepped out from his seat near the back of the bus and shuffled over to its front tiredly, announcing that we would be stopping at a hotel for the night and that if we would be so kind as to pull out all of our belongings from underneath the seats in front of us. As the Warblers all went crazy looking for their possessions, Wes frowned and pulled out the roommate list from his satchel (despite David's teasing that it was actually a legitimately "even-gayer-than-Blaine" man purse). Also from the supposed satchel came Wes' reading glasses and a highlighter that was striped Dalton colors with red and navy duct tape.
Wes cleared his throat. "Okay, Warblers, it'll be two to a room. You all selected your roommates beforehand on a first-come, first-serve basis, so don't come crying to me if you get someone you don't particularly get along with. You all brought this upon yourselves."
Kurt rolled his eyes and nudged me in the shoulder with his elbow. "I thought you said that Wes wasn't a total stick-in-the-ass, Blaine."
I shrugged, saying, "I lied?"
I shook my head as Kurt shot a sharp, serious look at me. "No, no, only kidding. He's just fulfilling his duties as Head Warbler, that's all," I told him, and Kurt chuckled to himself, pacified by that answer.
I ducked down and dug my own bag from underneath the seat in front of me. It was a simple, charcoal gray Tumi carry-on, nothing too fancy or over-the-top. We were all instructed to pack an overnight bag for the pit stop at the Hyatt as well as a full-sized luggage for the New York stay, so I had decided to go all stereotypically fashion-savvy and match my baggage.
I was pretty impressed with myself.
Think Kurt's impressed?
"...anyway, I repeat: do not come to me with roommate drama. Unless if they try to rape you or something. That would be bad," continued Wes, ignoring one of the loud off-tangent comments that came from the middle of the bus and accused him of sounding too much like an airplane flight attendant.
There was a general murmur of approval amongst all of the Warblers.
"David will be right up here with the room keys; all of the Warblers will be staying on the ninth floor. And I don't want any funny business," said Mr. Goolsby gruffly from his seat by the bus driver.
Wes waited for Mr. Goolsby and the Warblers to quiet down and then directed our attentions back to him. "So here we go, Warblers: in room 900, Thad Meyers and Randy Lawless..."
Kurt had his messenger bag slung over his left shoulder and an ivory canvas portmanteau strapped over his right as he hummed quietly to himself with a look of utter boredom on his face. I was considering doing the same when Wes finally called out, "Blaine Anderson and Kurt Hummel, you'll be in room 908..."
We exchanged a quick smile, ignoring the wolf whistles and the "get some!"s sent our way by the rest of Warblers, who all seemed to be under the impression that Kurt and I were dating.
Crazy shit, right? Totally bogus.
When the bus came to a complete stop, Kurt and I were the first to leave. As we walked together down the aisle, I caught the eye of Nick, who mouthed "Stay safe!" with a wink and a thumbs up. I frowned disdainfully at him, and his smirk immediately disappeared.
"Blaine?" asked Kurt, fixing his devolumized bangs with his fingers.
"Stop frowning disdainfully at Nick."
By the time I slid the plastic card key into the slot and opened the door of room 908, Kurt was beginning to yawn and his posture was beginning to slump—he looked extraordinarily exhausted.
"You alright there, Kurt?" I called as he strode into the room and proceeded to collapse on the twin bed closest to the window.
"Tired," he mumbled, his voice muffled by the white linen pillow that was perched atop the bed.
I stepped out of my Nike tennis shoes and slipped off my Dalton Academy sweatshirt, nodding in agreement. "I must admit that I share in your sentiments...it's really been a long day, hasn't it?" Turning away from him, I continued to undress (albeit ungracefully), simultaneously reaching into my bag and grabbing a pair of pajamas. "You want some coffee or tea? I mean, I know it's late, and all, but..." I trailed off, stepping into fleece pajama pants, knowing full well that Kurt Hummel never turned down an invitation to free coffee.
Kurt sat up, his hair looking messy, frazzled, and absolutely adorable. "Coffee? Sure." He hopped off the bed and grabbed his portmanteau from the carpet. "I'll go take a shower real quick, though."
With that, he turned the corner and retreated into the hotel bathroom with his bag, so I guessed that I had another half hour to brew some of the free coffee that was offered by the hotel.
"Damn," I muttered as I realized I had forgotten to fill up the coffee pot with water from the bathroom sink. It hadn't even been two minutes yet. Kurt probably wasn't even finished fixing up all of his various skin care products and whatnot.
"Kurt, can I come in?" I asked, knocking on the bathroom door tentatively. It was partially open, but I didn't want to walk in on one potentially naked Kurt Hummel.
Did not need that mental picture.
Calm your pants, Blaine.
"Yeah, sure," answered Kurt. There was a slight clanging noise emanating from the bathroom–Kurt's obnoxious array of toiletries–but I opened the door anyway.
I tried very hard not to stare at Kurt, who had a clean towel wrapped around his slender waist and was standing, arms crossed, by the sink, watching me as I filled up the pot. The sound of water from the faucet filled the otherwise completely silent room.
The first time I had seen Kurt shirtless, I nearly died of shock. I had not expected Kurt to be muscular at all, but there he was: long and lean and strong, at Dalton, with me, half-dressed. He definitely had been a well-trained, agile McKinley High Cheerio, which explained part of it...and the other part of it was just him. Of course Kurt took care of himself. It had been a mistake to assume otherwise.
Because I had incorrectly assumed that Kurt did not possess any sort of abdominal definition whatsoever.
But he did. It wasn't all grossly ripped and protruding like those body builders from the '80s (oh dear God no), but it was there and it was nice to look at even though I knew I shouldn't and–
I was staring.
Sweating profusely, I took the coffee pot from the sink and stepped out of the bathroom shakily, my entire body feeling like it was on fire. I tried to maintain my trademark Blaine expression, and I could have sworn I saw Kurt smirking cheekily at me, hip set to the side, could almost perceive a slight darkening in the gray of his eyes as he twisted the sink faucet and halted the water's flow...
But of course not. He definitely hadn't been doing that on purpose. I shook my head to clear it as I lined the translucent coffee filter up with the brewer, opened the packet with the black-brown grounds in it, and pressed the glowing red start button.
A/N: What'd you think? Too little? Too much? Terrible? Smelly? Drop me a line via review—I'd love you forever if you did that—and don't forget to subscribe, add to story alerts, favorite, etc. Next chapter, expect more hotel room fun, the remainder of the bus ride, and the arrival in New York.