Disclaimer: Their original songs sucked. So I didn't use them. :)

This is my adaption of the episodes s02e17: A Night of Neglect.

There is next to nothing in this episode. I've tried to rework it to have more stuff, but this is still a short, stunted little chapter. But it's still pretty important for the storyline in terms of Kurttany.

Kurt's Song, I Will Be: watch?v=g7vWPRw9fgQ&feature=plcp


*.*

I felt like shit and I knew it showed. No matter what I said to Brittany or what I felt like when I was around the little innocent angel, I felt unloved. I felt—literally—cheated. Cheated out of a lot of things—monogamy was a big thing. Exclusive access to her heart and love. It wasn't wrong to want to be the only person she loved, she shared—

I was going in circles again.

"New York, New York," I sang to the bathroom mirror, my voice bouncing pleasantly back at me, ringing off the tiles in a falsetto.

Even winning and going to Nationals couldn't take the edge off. New York, the place to be. Broadway, school, it was where I wanted to go to in order to leave Ohio in the dust. But I couldn't feel excited. It was true: the world was useless without someone to share it with.

Yeah, if she doesn't share it with someone else.

After the success of Regionals, Mr. Schuester had given me control of Nationals, once again. If we were going to dance like that again, we need to practise dancing with bright lights. At the venue, they were killer.

Just one step at a time, I told myself. Now you need to sort your hair out.

I found my comb and mechanically went through the motions of making my hair wave out, wetting the comb to get rid of the hairspray, applying the spray again.

Now you need to brush your teeth.

I sang the Charlie Chaplin classic Smile in my head while I brushed my teeth to count off the two minutes. There was no energy in my mental voice, just an automatic tone, as though I was reading the lyrics.

A fist pounded on the poor door, almost curving it in. "Kurt!"

It was only Finn. I recovered from my mild heart attack and dislodged my toothbrush from my throat. I shouted back that I'd be out in a minute. I spat out my toothpaste swill and left. There was little more I could do. My nails were beyond hope—chewed to the quick, rough, jagged and lacking their usual lustre—my skin was suffering from my forgetfulness of my skincare routine, and my eyebrows, though in need of a good plucking, didn't even pique my interest.

"We need a third bathroom," was all I said.

Finn didn't hear the dejected tone in my voice, instead slamming the door and saying, "Kurt, even the girls don't have this much crap in their bathrooms!"

Now you need to smile and make smalltalk with Dad.

*.*

I was a fool if I thought Mercedes wouldn't notice.

"What's up, Tinkerbell?" was always the first thing she always said when I sat down beside her when class started. This semester, we had a first period of Pre-Cal together. Typically, we would launch into a rapid, vivid discussion of whichever show had aired that night. In springtime, there was a show every night of the week. That night, it had been Big Brother. I hadn't watched it.

"What did you think of Jess last night?" asked Mercedes, idly flipping through her math textbook. Math wasn't her strong suit either and I was prepared to offer help to divert attention from what was clearly un-Kurt-like behaviour.

"She was okay," I said absently. "How're you doing with the homework?"

"Uh… Jess is a he," said Mercedes suspiciously. She laid a hand on my forehead. "You feeling okay?" she said jokingly.

I waved the hand away, annoyed. "Yes, I'm doing just fine, thank you."

"What's gotten into you?" She eyed my sweater. "It's, like, a thousand degrees outside and you're all bundled up like it's snowman building season."

"Got chilly," I said irritably, digging out my own textbook.

"Got slushied?" asked Mercedes shrewdly.

I nodded. "Blue raspberry met red shirt. The results aren't nice."

"What about your Emergency Slushie Kit?" asked Mercedes, the majority of her suspicion eased.

It consisted of a seasonal spare outfit, and hair and skin supplies. I hadn't even really bothered to go through the routine of fixing my hair again or scrubbing the dye from my sensitive skin.

"Forgot to stock it," I said simply.

Mercedes closed her book on my fingers. "What's the matter with you? Did the bullies get under your skin again?"

I waited a beat before, "Girl troubles."

She softened. "I'm a girl," said Mercedes obviously. "I can probably help you."

I shook my head and forced a smile that was more a grimace. "Nah. It's just my battle to fight."

Mercedes rubbed my arm and turned in her seat. "Don't say that, Kurt." I think she could sense that Brittany and I were teetering on the edge of an explosive break-up. "Whatever went wrong, I'm sure you'll find your ways back to each other."

I couldn't stand to look into those caring, concerned eyes and lie point-blank, so I looked down and thanked her for the support. "Did you see Artie, Tina, Mike and Brittany on SmartyPants last week?" I said, falsely cheery. The vision of Brittany surrounding her microphone and buzzer with Dots in a patterned ring, measuring the distance between them with the width of the box put a genuine smile on my face.

After a moment, Mercedes took her hand from me. "No, actually. It does kinda suck that now we're selling an absolute shit-load of taffy to pay for two trips."

*.*

Lord Tubbington and Charity were cuddled up together, purring in my bed. Artie had taken me to the library—this big place with lots of shelves and books and comfy chairs—and gave me a book bigger than Lord Tubbington all on cat diseases. It started to make me feel really depressed to be reading about all these dangerous illnesses that my pretty kitties could get, but, then again, it was like protecting them, so I would know exactly what it was if they got it.

Even if it was only something that big wild jungle cats got.

I pulled a blanket around me like a cape and sat with the book open in my lap, with my phone right beside me, just in case Kurt started texting me. If it was Santana, I told myself I would just say I was in the bathroom. Then she'd go away. I didn't want to talk to her. She was the reason that Kurt wasn't Kurt when he talked to me. His eyes didn't smile when his lips did.

Even when we won, there was lots of jumping and hugging and cheering, and for a minute I thought things were all better.

This was making me super depressed.

My phone suddenly lit up, but I could see the message was from :[ , so I didn't reply. Santana could beg and plead all she wanted, I wasn't going to her house tonight or any other night.

*.*

"—and we can see tickets. It's the perfect place to practise for Nationals…"

"I'm not diggin' this," said Mercedes blankly.

I shrugged, texting behind my crossed legs. "Neglected artists is a tough and boring theme." Blaine was going through a thing with Rachel. She was becoming unbearable (clearly, Blaine didn't know her yet) and was bumming him out with all her talk of Nationals. Fixing his relationship was way easier than fixing my own. An apology, warning that Rachel ought to shut her mouth about competition, a romantic kiss after a sweet drive-in movie date and they'd be fine.

"I think you should try and make things better with Brittany," said Mercedes in a low voice. "You're faker than Kim Kardashian when you talk to her, you know. That's no way to fix… whatever needs to be fixed."

Frankly, I thought I was doing a good job acting like everything was fine.

"Just be real. Cry or do whatcha need to do."

"Please," I said sharper than I meant to. "Just stop. I can fix this by myself."

Rebuffed, Mercedes sat back, sighing. "Fine. Take a night out, talk things out."

I still stared at my phone, even though Blaine had stopped and said goodbye a while ago. The last time we wanted some private time it had been soured by Santana. Besides, talking things out without tears wasn't going to happen. And if I started crying, I knew Brittany would, too, and I couldn't stand to do that to her again.

"That's what I'd do," shrugged Mercedes, turning her attention back to Mr. Schuester.

He let us work on our benefit concert setlist on our own. As far as I knew, Tina was doing some Asian artist, Mike was dancing, Mercedes singing a little Aretha, and Rachel was getting her fangs back with My Heart Will Go On. Although obviously humbled, her and Mercedes got into a scrap over who would get the closing song. After a second, Rachel backed off as everyone started to gang up on her. She was like one of those tigers in the zoo who don't remember how to hunt anymore.

At last, I stopped pretending to text and pulled up a chair. "Rachel, you should get some shred of spotlight. Mercedes, you got to sing lead with me at Regionals."

Both girls gave me this look. Well, they were close to a catfight and I interrupted them, so I guess I should've expected it. Just when Mercedes was about to retort, Mike interrupted.

"That's not our only problem," said Mike grimly, snapping his cell phone shut. "Remember Sunshine? That girl Rachel sent to a crackhouse?"

"Yeah," we all chorused.

"Well, someone"—he looked at the ex-Cheerios—"put our concert on Facebook and she wants to sing."

"No," Rachel and I said at the same time.

"Absolutely not," I said firmly. "Vocal Adrenaline made it to Nationals, too. They're gonna wanna scope us out."

" 'Scope us out'? Easy, James Bond," said Sam, doing what I believed was a Sean Connery impression.

Tina clicked around on her Blackberry. "She's got six hundred Twitter followers, and that would bring our ticket sales up to six hundred and four," she said flatly. "Wait, and she wants the grand finale."

Everyone looked at me, and I wondered when I had become the bona fide leader of the team. Finchel's pictures were still in the Thunderclap. Eyes flicking between the expectant teens, I threw my hands up.

"Sure, fine," I said, my voice unexpectedly high. "Let her sing."

Tina took that as an order and her black painted nails flew over the tiny keyboard.

And after another, Rachel and Mercedes took their stuff and stormed out in hissy hurmphs, each through a different door. The Club had dissolved again into casual setlist chatter, so I followed Mercedes.

She was speed walking through the hall, attempting to put on her jacket, but one of the sleeves had kinked itself in a weird fold. I caught up with her and straightened the sleeve.

"Tha—Oh." Her voice changed when she saw it was me. "See you around."

"What's wrong?" I asked, jogging to keep up with her.

Mercedes rounded on me before I could even finish the word. "You just gave me the middle spot, and I won't say nothing to them in there, but giving Rachel her mojo back—"

"—is exactly what she needs," I said, hard. "Rachel's been nearly a doormat since I beat her. We can't win Nationals with twelve superstars and a doormat."

"We can't win with a tyrant either," pointed out Mercedes.

"Then we find a middle ground," I said firmly, moving to hitch up my bag before realising I left it in the choir room. I crossed my arms behind my back.

Mercedes looked down, but when she looked back at me her eyes lost their hardness and she licked her lips. There was now a set in her jaw that looked like she was biting back a lump in her throat. "I just wanna shine," she said quietly. "I know I got a half-chance with Regionals, but I want a whole spotlight, just once. One time. I had it, and then it was gone. You could talk to them," she said with sudden hope.

"No, no, no, no," I said, already going back to the choir room.

"They listen to you, fairy-boy," said Mercedes, catching up.

"God knows why," I mumbled.

"Because they know how good you are and, more importantly, they like you. I know you've got a lot on your plate right now."

I put my hand on the choir room door and looked back at her.

"But, please, don't throw it away. I know you've got some kinda point in there about Rachel being a tyrant, but you aren't that kinda person."

I pushed the door to the choir room and sat back down, listening to the endless gossip and setlist chatter. Brittany was sticking her tongue out slightly as she texted, no doubt trying to not misspell anything. I sat beside her and, by habit, put an arm over her chair.

"Blaine wants to come," said Britts, her eyes frozen on the iPod.

I shrugged. "Invite him," I said mildly.

How had I gotten responsible for Glee Club?

*.*

Kurt looked like he was working, even though it was the night of the benefit. Everything was going fine. Sunshine's twitter followers had RSVP'd and everyone was practising in the choir room, buzzing and WhoooOOOOoooOOOOOooo-ing their notes.

I felt like Kurt was ignoring me, but it was different than when Santana ignored me. Santana took the long ways and didn't go to her locker, and growling and hissing at me when she had to be in the same room with me. Kurt was just busy and didn't happen to be near me. Honestly, it was better than most things he could've done: he could've broken up with me, or yelled, or ignored me meanly.

I flattened my skirt out and sat down beside him, adjusting my ponytail. On special days, Santana used to do my hair to make sure it was even and straight. I tried not to think of her.

Kurt smiled tiredly and kissed me lightly. "Good evening, Britts. Is this good?" He handed me the setlist.

I Follow Rivers – Tina
Bubble Toes – Mike (dance)
Turning Tables – Miss Holiday
Dream a Little Dream of Me – Artie & Sam
Our Day Will Come – Santana & Quinn & Brittany

I Will Be – Kurt
Ain't No Way – Mercedes
My Heart Will Go On – Rachel
All By Myself – Sunshine

I nodded, seeing Rachel's name in the bottom in Kurt's loopy little handwriting. Sunshine didn't really count. She wasn't one of us. "Rachel gets the last song?"

After a minute, Kurt nodded. "I don't know. I think so. I—I'll post it and see how much shit I get."

He got up and stuck it on a music stand. Pretty soon, one by one, everyone took a look at it. Mercedes frowned and rolled her eyes, but held her hands up in surrender.

Kurt sat back down beside me and watched the others. "Finn and Puck are going to make sure the right lighting programs and CD tracks play during the right song."

I swung my legs between the metal legs of my chair. "Okays."

All of a sudden, Quinn appeared in front of me. "We should have one last practice run through it."

Reluctantly, I left Kurt and started singing with Santana and Quinn. Quinn was going to stand in the middle, mostly so that I didn't have to be beside Santana. Everyone, of course, didn't think there was anything that wrong.

Then Tina ran in, her straight hair all frizzy and diagonal. "Guys, I was just in the auditorium and there's, like, six people out there."

Mike tapped on his phone. "And Sunshine just said she's not coming—and neither are her followers, but I guess we figured that one out."

Kurt, very obviously, knocked Sunshine off the setlist. Now Rachel was last.

"I say we blow this whole thing and hit the arcade," said Artie, high-fiving Mercedes.

"No, screw that." Finn stood up—all one million feet of him—and he went in the middle. "These people paid to hear us sing, and the show's got to go all over—or something."

Rachel touched Finn's arm and it looked like she got power from that. "The show must go on. Finn's right, you guys. Whether there's six or six thousand, we still have it give it our all."

"Easy to say when you're the star," said Mercedes meanly.

"It's a good principle, but, in reality, we should get to working on our Nationals performance," said Kurt fairly, leaning over the music stand.

"I just wanna sing," said Tina sadly. "I don't really care how many are out there either. Just… a solo."

I nodded. "Then go. You're up first, and I know that if no one else wants to go, then we just leave."

Tina smiled faintly before leaving with Finn and Puck and the band to the auditorium. Smiling, Kurt crossed off Tina's name when we first heard her voice. The rest of us prepared, singing and talking, before Tina came back in, crying.

Mr. Schuester and Mike comforted her as she wailed and fountains burst from her eyeballs, talking about the hecklers and the people who yelled and shouted at her when she sang. "This is the worst I've ever felt in my entire life!"

Everyone was sad and felt bad for her, and we looked like hard statues, blank and stunned.

"I didn't think it was possible for people to hate us even more," said Artie, breaking the silence with a sledgehammer. "We're calling this off."

Mr. Schuester backed up from Tina. "Guys, I hate to say it but I think we have to buck up. Tina, I'm sorry you had to go through that, but it's actually a really good lesson for us."

Tina sobbed loudly.

"That's a part of show business, guys," said Mr. Schue, raising his hands. He wasn't being very teacherly, I thought. Teachers and adults were meant to fix things; throw out the mean hecklers. Besides, it was our place. "Sometimes people can be really mean. What if we have an unfriendly crowd at Nationals? And I'm sure there's going to be some Vocal Adrenaline hecklers out there, too."

"You still want to sing?" I asked Quinn quietly.

She had one hand on her cross necklace. "I don't know. I saw those guys tear down Tina and—well—even if it will be us three again… No, I don't want to." She sighed and went to sit down beside Finn.

"I think I know a way to shut up the hecklers for a round or two," said Mr. Schue sneakily.

Suddenly, Mercedes and Quinn were shooed out to the auditorium with massive baskets of saltwater taffy.

Mike straightened his vest, and Tina dried her eyes. They had some secret Asian moments, a little kiss that made Mike's lips really red, and then he went out to dance with a mop. He had practised forever, and it was really awesome, like he flowed with the music. All of us stayed back in the choir room, listening for the hecklers and their heckling, but it never came.

Mike came back, out of breath, carrying a mop with a dress, his eyes big and bright. Everyone congratulated him and hugged him. Even Tina started smiling again.

I swayed in my seat to the intermission music. I stared at the music list again. Just after a cranky Santana told Mr. Schue that we had backed out, Artie and Sam did the same. And then Kurt quietly crossed himself off.

Miss Holiday was up, and from what we could hear she rocked the house. It was fantastic. And then Mr. Schue came back, all sad and stuff, and I thought she didn't do all that good.

Mr. Schue looked around at us. "All right, who's next?"

"Kurt," said Sam, looking back at him.

Kurt gave a little cough. "Vocal problems."

I frowned. That was so not true. He was singing in the car all the way over.

"Then Sam, Artie?" tried Mr. Schuester.

Sam rolled his shoulder around and around. "Injury from football."

Clearly not impressed, Mr. Schue made a face, then asked who would go on. Rachel and Mercedes had a stare-down and Mercedes clearly won. Reluctantly, Rachel put up her hand.

"Mr. Schue, I'll be glad to take the lead." She smoothed out her skirt and stormed out, giving the closing song to Mercedes. Mercedes went for a highfive with Kurt, but he left her hanging.

In a few minutes, Rachel's powerful voice streamed through the walls and the familiar WhoooOOOoooOOO of the Titanic theme song came in. People started to leave one by one, until almost all of us were in the auditorium, watching Rachel be Rachel again.

Even though she was a mean troll that belonged under a bridge, I hadn't really noticed how much we had crushed Rachel with our rebellion against her tyranny of Glee Club. She, like, exploded with all this emotion that came off her in waves and oceans.

We all took seats in the back row, watching the rest of her performance. It was kinda nice to hear Rachel sing something that really went with her voice. It sounded good, for a change.

And then it was over and Sam, who was MC-ing, went and announced that the show was over… even though Mercedes hadn't sung her big Aretha Franklin song.

We went backstage to find Rachel all lit up and Mercedes smiling, arms around each other in a big bear hug. That must've been one massive apology. Now the only thing I had to worry about was the big smart people competition. Artie said he'd strangle Lord Tubbington if I tried to answer a question.

*.*

The security of the jingle of my keys kept me calm. Once people started dropping like flies, I thought that could've been the excuse I needed, but I just needed a small cough. Honestly, Leona Lewis wasn't all that well known in America, but I couldn't sing I Will Be in front of everyone when I knew Brittany was hearing it, and knew why I wanted to sing it.

Everyone was cleaning up their costumes and makeup; the jittery, after-show atmosphere was alight and conversation flowed freely. Blaine popped in, too, but Rachel, almost radiating confidence, didn't welcome him as warmly as I would've thought.

I kept an eye on Brittany all night. She still wasn't nearly as bubbly or involved as she used to be; even her hair seemed to lose its sparkle. Her head was almost always bowed, her voice was quieter. It started to carve away at the hole in my heart, because I knew, even if I was in the right to be angry, that I was causing that.

Although the Unholy Trinity hadn't performed, they were in a huddle in the corner, talking about girl things. Brittany broke apart to put their costumes back up on the rolling hanger, and I caught her before she went back to them.

"I'd like to talk to you once everyone's gone."

Her eyes widened, but she nodded anyways, smiling slightly before returning to her ex-Cheerio friends. That smile didn't reach her eyes.

It took longer than I thought for everyone to get their jackets on and leave. And, of course, everyone wanted to talk to Blaine, see how he, who was no longer our competition, liked our singing and dancing. Eventually, though, hugs and kisses exchanged, my Escalade was the only car in the parking lot. Even Mr. Schue left with Miss Holiday. The school was a little spooky, with the dull yellow lights casting shadows in the hallway, while the choir room was almost too bright with the horrid fluorescents.

Brittany sat alone on the piano bench, her legs tucked under her, watching me as I fumbled with the mixed CD for the benefit.

"Right, Britts." I clapped my hands, looking at her forehead. It was a trick I had learned: it made most people think that you were looking them in the eye.

"Kurt," Brittany imitated my anxious voice.

"I chose a bit of a stupid song to sing at the benefit because it was one I really just wanted to sing to you," I said in a rush.

Brittany didn't look the least bit shocked. She looked over at the choir room's boombox behind me, then back at me. "I don't know the song," she said apologetically.

I shook my head. "Doesn't matter."

After another second of gathering myself, I clicked play. There was a split second of everyone else's songs before I scanned to mine, and then there was no turning back. Mostly because there was very little intro before the first lines. I had transposed the key upwards, into my natural register. I wasn't sure if I could've sustained anything more.

"There's nothing I could say to you
Nothing I could ever do to make you see
What you mean to me
All the pain, the tears I cried
Still, you never said goodbye
And now I know
How far you'd go"

Britts started to squirm in her seat. Her head fell down lower and her hair flipped over her face. In vain, she tried to push it back behind her ears without raising her head.

"I know I let you down
But it's not like that now
This time I'll never
Let you go"

I think Brittany got that this was about her, more than me trying to make amends for myself. I wanted for us to put Santana and her manipulation behind us and just try to pick us up where we had fallen.

"I will be
All that you want
And get myself together
'Cause you keep me from falling apart
Now, all my life
I'll be with you forever
To get you through the day
And make everything OK"

Brittany crossed her arms, pulling the sleeves of her jacket around her. She curled into a little ball on piano bench and I was worried she would fall off. However, if I sat beside her and kept singing—well, that would be too corny, even for me.

"I thought that I had everything
I didn't know what life could bring
But now I see honestly
You're the one thing I got right
The only one I let inside
Now I can't breathe
'Cause you're here with me

"And if I let you down
I'd turn it all around
'Cause I would never
Let you go"

Then I decided it wouldn't be all that corny. At first I couldn't force my feet forward, then I nearly tripped over them. But the end result was the same: beside Britts on the piano bench. I missed a little, but that didn't matter.

"'Cause you keep me from falling apart
All my life
I'll be with you forever
To get you through the day
And make everything OK

I turned her hair over. If someone did that to me, I would've flipped, but I didn't think Brittany had the willpower to do any flipping out. When I saw the first tears trickle out, my voice cracked and notched up more than a few notes.

"Without you
I can't breathe
I'm not gonna ever ever let you leave
You're all I've got
You're all I want

"'Cause without you
I don't know what I'd do
I could never ever live a day without you
Here with me do you see
You're all I need

I just let the instrumental play out the last choruses. Brittany didn't need to hear anymore. It was an awkward position, but I think Brittany was determined to hug me. We both nearly slipped off the bench, but she still buried her head in my jacket. I could hear and feel the sorries she was saying.

"We both need to make this work," I said quietly. The shuddering girl almost wrenched tears from my own eyes. "To forget Santana and—and all that, to remember before."

Brittany nodded but still didn't look at me. She stayed there for a while, but I gently moved her so she was sitting upright beside me. She wiped her eyes and nose with the back of her sleeve. Mercedes song's instrumental was playing now. I moved around to get in front of her and kissed her. Normally, she initiated any kind of contact. A few seconds and her arms were around my neck again.

Instead of apologising again and again, Brittany just said, "Thank you."

*.*


As always, thank you very much for reading. :D
Born This Way is taking a little longer, and I'm sorry, but we're getting to a point where there's next to nothing to work with, which means I'm needing to get creative.