So I'm a really big fan of figure skating, and I went and watched that figure skating documentary sort of movie, Rise 1961. It was amazing and heartbreaking and depressing and wonderful and so much love ya'll.
Anyway, I read something or other in the Glee-fics [one about Kurt being put in parallel worlds on LJ], and it totally made me combine these two into a fanfic.
And I experimented with the idea of Absent Paradigm [thank you, SciFi Lit class].

So. Tears. Horray.

Kurt curled up in the corner of the hotel room, arms wrapped around his legs, head resting on his knees. He was in wonderful, beautiful New York City - the city of lights. Outside he could hear the traffic zooming by, people rushing about, not thinking about the world around them, not paying attention to everything they were passing by. It was a constant stream of movement, a never-ending current of moments wasted.

The room was dark, not a single light shining. The only glow came from the bright neon flashing vibrantly outside the window, a disgusting, blaring radiance that watered his eyes. He whimpered, trying to scrunch himself up tighter, wanting to disappear into that tiny corner of black shadows he had buried himself into. He shouldn't be here. He wasn't meant to. None of them were.

It hurt to be here. It hurt too much to cry. It hurt too much to exist. But here he was. NYC.

He glanced at his phone, clutched tightly in his hand. He waited, waited for something, for anything. He waited for the screen to light up like the skyscrapers outside his window. He waited for some sign of life.

"Really, Kurt," Quinn said, so blasé and forward, a sharp edge of condescending comfort. So very Quinn. "Come on. You're better than this. Remember what Coach said? You think this is hard? You'll be fine, okay. Don't waste your time moping. Even you can't rock that look."

He laughed, a weak and watery chuckle that died as it left his lips.

"Dude, what the hell?" Puck growled. He could almost picture the troublemaker frowning in disdain. "Come on man. That's totally lame. Get your ass up. Real men don't cry."

Kurt squinted his eyes, blinking at the bright, blinding sunlight that streamed through the window. It was ridiculously sunny outside. He didn't even know what time it was - but he was obviously going to be late. He hadn't even gone through his nightly moisturizing routine the night before. That was going to wreck havoc on his skin.

"Listen up Princess. You've got twenty-five minutes before your boy-toy knocks on the door to drag you off to breakfast. Might wanna think about getting all dolled up. Get a move on."

Sniffing, Kurt slowly pushed himself up off the ground, sliding against the wall so he could stand without toppling over. He shuffled across the room, making his way into the bathroom without complaint. He sluggishly went through the motions of his daily schedule without much thought - clean shower, skin care, nice clothes.

It took too much energy to care anymore.

Blaine had entered the room by the time Kurt realized he'd finished getting ready. He didn't know when the older boy had let himself into the room, didn't know how long he'd been sitting on the bed and how much he'd seen of his automaton performance getting dressed - nor did he know if any of that really mattered.

Blaine didn't say anything. He simply stood up, sliding his arms around Kurt's waist, holding him close.

"Ready to go?"

Blaine had decided to take him out shopping. Wes and David had tagged along for a while, but eventually became bored going store to store looking at Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen. They ended up slipping off to find Jeff and Nick, who were apparently with a few other Warblers at the Toys R Us in Time Square.

Blaine had wandered off in the department store, hoping to find a sweater that Kurt had had him try on in a green colour instead of the red the poor fashion-less boy had chosen in the first place. Kurt glanced down at the coat he was trying on, grimacing at the horrible clash the shade had with his skin tone.

"Aw hell to the no," Mercedes began. He could practically see her waving a finger, hand on hip. "That is so not gonna fly white boy. And that cut is definitely not flattering on your figure. What were you thinking?"

Kurt sighed in agreement, taking the hideous thing off. It was a designer piece, but - not only did he know if wouldn't go with his body type, he knew it wouldn't go with anything in his closet collection, either. He hadn't been thinking it through, really.

"Then what would work?" he muttered, heading back to where he had found the jacket.

That's when he saw it. The most fabulous jacket in existence, right there in front of him.

"Ooo!" He could hear Mercedes squeal in delight, could see her pointing at it excitedly. "You best be getting that one, because you know it would totally make you look amazing. It'll bring out the colour of your eyes."

He hummed in agreement, stepping forward to grab one that would fit him nicely.

"If you don't get it, I swear I'll cut you."

"What now?" Blaine asked, eyebrows raised in question as he stepped forward. "I was wondering where you went - oh, that's a nice shade. I bet it makes your eyes look gorgeous. Not that they aren't already the most beautiful eyes ever."

Kurt smiled as Blaine went about with his stilted attempt at compliments. He really wasn't good at romance - Moulin Rouge references, really. But he tried, and it was adorable. Blaine grinned, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet.

Okay then. He was definitely getting the jacket.

Kurt clutched the edge of the table, eyes squeezed shut. He couldn't do it. He couldn't.

He wasn't supposed to be there. He shouldn't be there. It was all a mistake. A joke.

"Hey Baby Gay, what's wrong?" Brittney asked innocently. "Did your dolphin friend break your heart? I can smash his face in for you if you want. Coach Sylvester taught me how to do that, you know."

"He's just feeling sorry for himself," Santana drawled. He could imagine the way she flopped into the chair behind him, lazing about in her self-centered nonchalance, studying her perfectly manicured nails.

"You guys are the ones who should be up there. You earned this - you deserve this. Not me."

He could feel Brittney hug him from behind, the ghost of her touch surrounding him.

"Bitch, please. You're one of us, remember? We're friends. We're family. You earned this - you deserve this, just as much as we did. So quit your pity party and go show them what it means to be one of us. Ain't no Cheerio gonna let something stupid get us down."

"She's right. You don't need us. You have your other dolphin to look after you now." Brittney paused, moving against him - away from him. "This totally reminds me of when Artie gave me a magic comb for Regionals, and I was like super sad because I lost it and I thought he'd be mad at me, but he told me that it didn't matter because I was the one who was magical."

Kurt tried to laugh at the sheer hilarity of the blonde cheerleader being so naïve, but it came out as more of a strangled sob. He could feel tears sliding down his face, splashing onto the floor.

It hurt to be here. It hurt too much to cry. It hurt too much to exist. But here he was. Nationals.

There was a knock on the greenroom door. Blaine pushed it open, standing in the entryway. Kurt wiped his eyes carefully, pretending that his hands weren't trembling. Pretending he was alright, that this was alright.

"They want us to do an encore. We were thinking - the one that we did for - for -" He couldn't finish. But that was alright. Everything would be alright.

Kurt nodded, taking a moment to compose himself before letting out a shaky breath.

"You don't have to. We can do something else. I don't want you to feel pressured or -"

Blaine was cut off as Kurt walked over, a whirlwind of courage and confidence. A pained smile pulled at the corners of his mouth as he gave Blaine a quick kiss, sliding their hands together, twining their fingers.

"It's alright." He glanced back into the room, inhaling sharply. "They would've wanted it."

Kurt stood off to the side of the stage, waiting for the announcer to walk off the other side of the stage, waiting to be herded out before thousands of people watching the performance.

He could remember what it was like to stand in a black tuxedo with the rest of the Warblers behind him. He could remember what it was like to be front and center before a sea of black. He had finally gotten his solo.

He didn't want it.

"One of the things that I loved about Glee Club was how it was a place for us to let loose and express ourselves," Kurt started, hands folded neatly in front of him. He stared at the ground, not wanting to look up into the empty, tearstained faces in front of him. "If we were happy, we would start singing something uplifting. If we were upset, we would do something dramatic to let out our frustrations. If we wanted to break up with someone or confess our love for each other, or apologize or comfort or, just anything - there was always a song for us.

"I remember when my dad was in the hospital, Mercedes - they knew I'm not particularly religious, but - the only way they could think of comforting me was by singing about faith. She didn't know how to make me feel better, but she tried the best she knew how.

"And Rachel - we were a lot alike. She understood me in ways none of the others could - but we were such divas, we were so competitive, that it was hard for us to - to be friends, really, because of that. Yet, she was the only one willing to sing a duet with me, and I as so grateful for that.

"Then there was Finn. He was - he was such an amazing person. We never had the best of - of friendships, because I was - I was too much, I suppose. But when our parents got married, none of that mattered anymore. Because we were family. And - I remember he sang Just The Way You Are at their wedding, and - and that was the first time in a long time that I felt as if I truly did have a family.

"And there's so much more I could say about them. Artie and Sam and Mike - they were the first people to really stand up for me, and try and stop others from bullying me. And Puck was - well, he was definitely something. He suggested that they all form a secret service to protect me and it - it was just so - so nice, to know they cared so much. Santana and Quinn were always honest and comforting in their own way - complete opposites, and they had a reputation to uphold, but they were - they were good people. And Tina - she was shy, but she knew what she wanted, and she would stand up for it. Brittney always knew how to make people laugh and smile, and - her innocence was just something so - so precious. Mr. Schuester taught us to -" Kurt couldn't help but give a watery chuckle, a strangled laugh. "He taught us to not stop believing in ourselves.

"So I - we - we wanted to do something for them. We wanted to express what a - how much they meant to us. And how - how hard it is, now that they're gone."

"We wanted to dedicate this to our friends, who were unable to be here to achieve their dreams. It's - it's a tragedy, a horrible, horrible tragedy that they won't - that they themselves can't be here to see the reward that they deserve for their hard work, to feel the reward that they earned for their determination. So we're here to do that for them. We hope - we hope we've made them proud."

Wes stepped back into his place to the right of Kurt, nodding in reassurance. The lights dimmed, then became a sudden burst of blinding white aimed at the group. There was dead silence, the quick motion count of one-two-three-four, and then the magical hum of the choir.

"This is the way you left me / I'm not pretending / No hope no love no glory / No happy ending. This is the way that we loved / Like it's forever / Then live the rest of our life / But not together," the Warblers crooned in a perfect two-part harmony, standing in their perfect acapella choir formation. Kurt stepped out from the group as they held their heads high, a synchronization of heartfelt solemnity.

"Wake up in the morning, stumble on my life - can't get no love without sacrifice. If anything should happen, I guess I wish you well - a little bit of heaven, or a little bit of hell. This is the hardest story that I've ever told - no hope or love or glory, happy endings gone forevermore."

As the Warblers repeated their chorus, they began to break into their usual eight-part harmony of lyrics and polyphony, the two beat boxers on either side of the group quietly breaking into the rhythm.

"Two o'clock in the morning, something's on my mind - can't get no rest, keep walking around. If I pretend that nothing ever went wrong, I can get to my sleep, I can think we can just carried on. This is the hardest story that I've ever told - no hope or love or glory, happy endings gone forevermore."

Kurt could feel the tears welling up in his eyes. They were a group melding into one voice. They were a team. And they were there for him.
And then Blaine stepped forward, grasping Kurt's hand within his own.

"A little bit of love," he sang gently, offering a soft smile. "A little bit of love."

Wes and David stepped behind him, chiming in and echoing Blaine's sentiment as they snapped their fingers to the downbeat. One sections of the Warblers broke into joining in with the three, another section harmonizing with their original chorus, the rest of them keeping up with the polyphony. They grew into a crescendo, their voices rising higher and higher, lifting Kurt's spirits with their song.

"I feel as if I'm wasting - and I wasted every day." Kurt glanced up, and could almost make out his former classmates sitting in the audience. The girls crying, their hands clasped tightly to each other. Finn looking lost - as if he understood the meaning, but regretted how things had turned out. Rachel, with a bittersweet smile, encouraging as best as she could despite the jealousy and envy. The boys of the McKinley Glee club, forlorn and resigned. They were friends. They were family. This wasn't how things were supposed to be.

This was goodbye.

"This is the way you left me / I'm not pretending / No hope no love no glory / No happy ending."

They had won. He could feel the other Warblers surrounding him, hugging him tightly. Their achievement came with a price. But it wasn't for them - no, tonight had never been for Dalton Academy. This win was for them - for New Directions, for McKinley High School.

Out of the corner of his eye, he almost caught a glimpse of the two lead singers. Rachel would grin, a wide smile of overwhelming excitement. Her horrendous knit sweater, her pleated schoolgirl skirt, those awful knee-high argyle socks. She would wave with one hand, the other tightly clutching the hand of the boy beside her.

Finn - oh, Finn. His eyes would be sparkly with joy, and he would be smiling that stupid smile, as if everything were fine, as if everything was okay. Plain tee shirt and jeans, simple and easy, just like his personality. And he would be so proud, so happy to see that his brother was in good hands. He would say something silly and perfect, to make sure that Kurt knew everything was alright.

But by the time Kurt actually focused on that spot offstage, they were gone.

If he closed his eyes, he could see them standing there. Mr. Schuester would be standing behind the group, laughing excitedly, all they had ever wanted there in their hands. Rachel and Finn would have made up, just like they always had, and they would be standing together. Sam would be holding Santana in his lap, and she would be doing something seductive and crude - probably making lewd jokes or rude gestures at Puck. And Puck would be sitting on Lauren's lap - he would have wooed her, somehow. Artie would be doing some ridiculous rap, and Brittney and Mike would be pulling off ridiculous dance moves to go along with the beat. Tina would giggle beside Mercedes and Quinn, who would be happily gossiping about the latest in relationship drama.

But when he opened his eyes, all he saw were cold gray headstones.

He felt someone take his hand, holding gently. Kurt glanced up to stare at Blaine, who was carrying his own bouquet of roses. Bright yellow, just like the dresses the girls had worn for their first mash-up against the boys. Bright, cheerful, sunny yellow.

"I can't -" Kurt choked back a sob, unable to move. Blaine squeezed his hand tightly.

It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair.

"It isn't fair. I know," Blaine whispered, wrapping an arm around him, letting Kurt cry onto his shoulder. Kurt clutched at his jacket, unable to keep himself from shaking. It hurt too much. He didn't understand. They were so full of life, so full of promise, so full of dreams. They should have been at Nationals. They should have won Nationals.

They shouldn't have crashed. That wasn't how things were supposed to be.

Blaine held him, not knowing what to say. What do you say to someone who lost their friends, their family? Words weren't enough. But he held Kurt tightly, hoping to be something solid for him to cling to, hoping to be a rock in a turbulent ocean. Hoping that that would be enough.

Maybe someday, when time had gone by, he could look back and be happy reflecting on all the good memories, and tell Blaine all the wonderful stories of his Glee Club. He could laugh at all the stupid things they'd done, he could smile at all the fun they'd had. He could remember their love and camaraderie, despite all the bumps in the road, all the obstacles that had been thrown their way. Because no matter what issues they'd had, no matter what arguments or fights, they would always be there for each other. That love was always something he'd have in his heart.

But right now, Kurt was just a kid, a kid who had lost almost everything. And right now, Kurt needed someone to be there for him, to show him that he hadn't lost everything, that he was still loved, that he still had something, someone. That they could get through this, that they could be there for each other, that Blaine would be there for him every step of the way.

That maybe someday, it would all be okay.

Excerpts from Rise 1961:
When you look at the team, every single performance was organic to that performer - the diversity was unbelievable. It was fascinating to see where they were all headed.
They never got to experience that dream come true, but they were a springboard for everyone that came after them. They made it possible - so all of us that came after represent their promise and their dream.
All of those people who were on that plane have touched our lives.