Authors Note: This was written as a response to the Glee Angst Meme on livejournal which called for Kurt being declined from NYADA, and Rachel accepted. Followed by another opportunity from a school he hadn't even been thinking of. I won't say more than that, because I don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone who's unfamiliar with the prompt. I digress, I make no large attempt, and I think it's pretty obvious when you read my fic, to hide that I don't enjoy Rachel's character. I highly doubt anything herein could be taken as bashing, given her character's obnoxious attitude to most things that don't go her way, but I'm giving fair warning anyway. Rachel is selfish in this fic. She's shallow and she's mean. But ultimately, that's part of growing up, and she's better for her flaws in the end. I don't recommend that any Rachel uber fans read this thinking that she won't be a pain the in the rear, but neither do I break her down without purpose. Fair warning.
Also, I did play a little with the way things work in the college system, but give or take, it's not that inaccurate. Nitpickers, don't come at me.
Kurt stepped carefully over the threshold to the house and shut the door firmly behind him. He offered a small wave to his father and then busied himself with pawing at his mittens. His face was flushed from the freezing, February weather, spots of red adoring his cheeks.
"You're home early."
Hands free, Kurt slowly unwrapped his scarf, carefully not to let it snag on anything, fingers soaking in the feel of soft cotton. "So are you." Kurt took an extra moment to set his scarf aside, and then began working on his heavy peacoat. "I thought you'd be at the garage."
"I was, this morning. Then the snow started coming down in sheets and I thought it was probably best to cut our losses and shut her down. The roads are going to be too bad for anyone to be on before nightfall." Burt thumbed further into the house and said, "Got a minute?"
Intrigued, Kurt nodded. "What's going on?"
Burt led him to the kitchen and Kurt could see a stack of envelops on the table. His father explained, "I swung by the post office and got our mail. I wasn't sure the mailman would be able to make it out here in time. We're last on his shift, and like I said, the roads are getting pretty bad out there." Burt paused, eyed Kurt critically, and added, "If they don't improve, I'm not sure I want you driving to school tomorrow."
Kurt tried not to roll his eyes. He lifted his school bag onto a kitchen chair and said, "I'm a very competent driver, dad. And you know what I drive. Mother Nature herself couldn't take down that Navigator."
"Don't push it," Burt said gruffly. "The Navigator is tuff, but black ice is impossible to see."
Kurt relented and said, "I always drive carefully. Especially in winter weather." It was unspoken, of course, that Kurt drove even more carefully than he needed to. If only for his father's sake. Kurt wasn't sure if his father could ever handle loosing another loved one to a car accident. At times, the circumstances of his mother's death made him wonder how his father had been willing to provide him with a car and take him for his license test at sixteen. Then again, he drove something that handled close to a tank. There was probably never a question in his father's mind that he'd drive something large and formidable, even when Kurt himself had been small and almost frail at sixteen.
"Where's your brother?" Burt asked. It was rare for Kurt and Finn to come home separately, especially so far into the year, and with the last competitions of the season coming up in the following months.
"At school." Kurt sank into a chair at the table, physically drained from his long day at school, and his trek through the snow and ice to get home. "He decided to wait for Rachel. I'm sure she'll drive him home when she and Blaine finish practicing."
A frown marred Burt's face. "Practicing? For Glee?"
Kurt nodded, eyes a bit downcast.
"Then why aren't you there?"
Kurt sighed. "Rachel and Blaine are practicing for Regionals. They've got the leads. They always have the leads."
It wasn't jealousy Burt detected in Kurt's voice, just acceptance and disappointment, and it had the man sliding into the chair next to his son. "They get them a lot?"
"Always was the operative word I used, Dad. I don't want to think Schue does it on purpose, but I can't be sure anymore. I think … I think he just really wants to win, and Rachel is very good at bullying people into getting what she wants. And Blaine, dad, I love Blaine, but being important is important to him. I think he gets depressed when he isn't the best at something, or the most important." Kurt hastened to add, "But he does have an amazing voice, and I understand why he received the other lead for competition."
"I don't like the sound of Rachel bulling people," Burt said crossly. "Not after all you went through. She's supposed to be your friend, isn't she? Shouldn't she be more sensitive to bullying?"
Kurt rested his palm in his chin, his elbow sliding onto the table. "I don't think she realizes how badly she bullies the other members of Glee club. She has this natural fight in her, dad, this natural instinct to fight to be the best and have the best and do the best. And she doesn't realize who she hurts in her need to claw her way to the top. She told Tina that she wasn't ready to be Maria when we had the school play. To Tina, that meant Rachel said she wasn't good enough .Tina was really upset. And that, that happens a lot. Little comments like that mean nothing to Rachel, and aren't blatant, but hurt other people. I guess it's something she'll have to realize for herself."
Burt nodded slowly. "Well, the year is almost over." Burt leaved through the mail quickly and pulled out several. He set them to the side for a moment and commented, "There are bigger and better opportunities in your future, Kurt." He slid the envelops over to Kurt.
"What is it?" Kurt asked, accepting the mail slowly. His eyes widened as he realized the name on the front of the first letter. "Dad? This is … oh my god."
"It's from that fancy school, isn't it?" Burt asked, finger tapping the letterhead. "NYADA?"
Kurt swallowed hard and nodded. "I can't believe this is …" Then he paused, looking the envelope over a bit more critically. His voice dropped dramatically as he said, "It's thin."
"Thin?" Burt shook his head.
Body tense, Kurt answered, "Acceptance letters are usually thicker than this. Some of them come with packets concerning information for the following semester. Dad …"
"Open it," Burt urged. "What's with the hold up?"
Kurt set the letter back down in front of him and folded his hands on top of it. "I don't want to." He couldn't. NYADA was his dream. It was his chance to get out of Ohio and make his own way. NYADA was more than his dream school. It was everything he'd been counting on. "I didn't get the lead in the play," Kurt said. "I didn't win class president, either. And dad, there wasn't a whole lot to put on my application. I had a couple of recommendation letters, and a couple of things from when I was with the Warblers … but I don't think it was enough. No, I knew it wasn't enough when I sent my application off."
"Hey, now," Burt said, once more tapping the letter. "I'll have you know, you're a perfect candidate for any University. Your GPA is excellent, you've been a part of Sylvester's Cheerios, you helped start McKinley's GSA, and didn't you spend all of last summer fitting in some community service while writing that musical of yours?"
Slowly, Kurt nodded. "But you don't know how competitive these school are, dad. There are so many people trying to get into so few spots. What I did … I should have been more diligent. I should have been more prepared. I let myself get sidetracked. I … I just …"
"Open it," Burt urged again. "Stop doubting yourself and just open it so Carole and I can start worrying about how we're going to pay for the first year's tuition."
The pink dropped from Kurt's face and he paled a bit. "Dad, if I do get in anywhere, I swear to you, I'll get a job. I'll pay for school, at least as much as I can. I'll contribute. I won't let you try and take it all on yourself. Universities are so expensive."
Burt's hand slid over to cover Kurt's. "Kid, Kurt, look at me. You're my son. You're my child. I'm your father, and it's my responsibility to pay for your education. It's more than my responsibility. It's my privilege. So don't worry about it. Now, if you don't want to be put up in one of those fancy dorms, and you'd rather live off campus, you're going to have to pay for that, but your education? Well, don't you think your mother and I put something aside for that?"
"But Dalton," Kurt said slowly. "You and Carole had to use your honeymoon vacation money to pay for it. If there was other money, why didn't you use it?"
Burt drew back, a fond smile on his face. "Don't your think your mother would run me through the ringer, even now, if she found out I touched that money for anything but your college tuition? She'd start haunting me, Kurt, I'm sure. No, that money is for your college and only that."
Feeling a bit more confident, Kurt ran his fingers along the seal of the envelop and then slipped one under it. "Okay, then. Here we go."
Burt continued, "I'm not sure what Carole and I are going to do when you're gone. This place is going to seem too quiet."
Kurt popped the envelope open and told his father, "Have you forgotten you're a very important Senator now? You probably won't think twice about me until I call you up for the holidays."
Burt's laugher was deep and rich as he said, "Not a chance. You've always been the first on my mind, and the most important. Nothing is going to change that. No matter what."
NYADA had maybe been a pipedream. There had never really been any hope, but still, seeing the words on the white paper were hard. Reading the uniform and standard words regretting to inform him of his denied status, was crushing. He felt his chest tighten up and he let the paper fall back onto the table.
Burt wrangled him up into a bear hug. Kurt pressed his face into the juncture at his father's neck and he breathed deeply, trying desperately not to cry. His hands fisted his father's shirt as Burt mumbled at him, "It's okay. It's only one school. It's okay."
Kurt drew back shakily and nodded. "You're right." But all he could think about was the shop. It was his father's pride and everything the man had worked his life for. But it was Kurt's deathtrap. It was where Kurt was going to end up spending the rest of his life working at. It would stay in the family, but it was quite possibly the last thing Kurt wanted. The mere idea was heartbreaking.
"Aren't you going to open the other one?"
Kurt froze. "The other one?"
Burt pushed the second envelope at Kurt. "I gave you both, remember? Didn't you apply to another school, too?"
"Three," Kurt corrected. And now he had the second sitting in front of him, a letter from the Ohio Conservatory.
He'd wanted to go out of state. Kurt had never made a secret of that. But he loved Blaine. He honestly thought he and Blaine could go the distance and end up some day in line to get married. And so he'd applied to a school in Ohio, hoping that if he were closer, there would be less of a strain on their relationship.
The second rejection was worse than the first. He's had the grades and credentials to get into the Ohio Conservatory.
"What's wrong with me?" Kurt asked his father bluntly, clearly catching him off guard. "What's wrong with me, dad?"
"Nothing," Burt said, almost venomously. "There's nothing wrong with you. You're perfect, kid. These people, they're just loosing out on you."
"No," Kurt snapped viciously. "I'm loosing out. I'm loosing. I'm the one who doesn't have a school. I'm the one who'd stuck here and unhappy and …" Kurt stood abruptly and snatched up his bag. "I'm going to my room."
Burt let him go.
It was late when the knock came at his door. Kurt nearly ignored the sound, not interested in sitting through a family dinner and pretending to be okay. But then Blaine's voice called out, "Kurt? Can I come in?" And Kurt sat up on his bed, hastily wiping at his face with his hands.
"What're you doing here?" Kurt asked when Blaine entered, closing the door being him. "It's late."
Blaine made his way quickly to the bed and sat next to Kurt, kissing his wet cheek. "Your dad called me and explained the situation. He thought you might need me here. Can we take a vote now and just say your dad is probably the best dad in the whole world?"
Kurt's fingers curled around Blaine's. "Thanks for coming."
In one smooth motion Blaine threw a leg over Kurt's lithe body and propelled himself to the other side of the bed. He tucked in close to Kurt and said, "You're so amazing, you know?"
"If I'm so amazing, why doesn't anyone want me?"
"Amazing," Blaine insisted, kissing Kurt's shoulder. "You're so incredibly intelligent, and kind, and beautiful, and talented. Just because a couple of admissions officers decline you, doesn't make you any less amazing."
"You're biased," Kurt grumbled, turning to kiss Blaine properly. "But thank you."
"And do you know what I bet?" Blaine asked. He waited until he had Kurt's eyes. "I bet you get a thick packet from San Francisco saying they're dying to have you. I bet they'll be offering you a full ride. You sent them your most comprehensive portfolio, didn't you?"
"They had more requirements than NYADA," Kurt agreed slowly. "They even wanted performance pieces."
"So when San Francisco accepts you," Blaine continued, "you have to promise me that you'll let me fly out and see you at least a couple times a semester. Because I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea of you being around all of those very open and very confident and very handsome boys."
"I'd never cheat on you," Kurt said seriously, his forehead pressing against Blaine's. "Never. You're it, Blaine. You're the one."
Kurt could feel Blaine's breath on his skin, warm but light as his boyfriend said, "I know you'd never cheat, but hey, you can't blame me from wanting to be there to protect your honor. I know Ohio is … well, it sucks for us, right? It really sucks. But in San Francisco we'll be able to go out together and we won't have to be friends. We can be boyfriends and I can put my arm around you and you can kiss me. It'll be great."
"Great," Kurt echoed back. "But what if San Francisco doesn't accept me either?"
Breathy, Blaine said, "Then I guess you stick around for a while. You help your dad get set up to take office, and you keep trying."
"And what if you get accepted into a program and no one ever takes me?"
"Unlikely," Blaine said, his nose bumping Kurt's playfully. "You got a couple of bad seeds who couldn't see how wonderful and talented you are. The whole world isn't like that. But, if push comes to shove, I say we got to New York together anyway. Busking is a very lucrative and prestigious job, I hear."
"That is not funny," Kurt said, but he felt better already. Blaine always made him feel better.
"Kurt." Blaine kissed him slowly and softly. "Being accepted into a program at a top University isn't a prerequisite for landing a role on Broadway. No matter what happens, you're going to be successful. Sure, there could be a couple more bumps on the road than you expect, but you'll get there. I believe in you. And better than that? I know you believe in you, even when you don't want to."
Kurt's fingers cupped the side of Blaine's jaw and he told him firmly, "I love you so much."
"Yeah, we'll I kind of love you too."
A heavy hand pushed at Kurt's door and Burt popped in. "You boys okay in here?"
"Keeping my hands to myself, Mr. Hummel," Blaine promised, head popping up on the bed.
"Good," Burt said. "Blaine, Carole's about to put the last of the dinner away. Did you want to grab a plate? Maybe you could convince a certain someone to have a plate himself."
Kurt crossed his arms as Blaine beamed an said, "We'll be down in five?"
"Kurt?" Burt called out, wanting to be sure.
"Yeah." Kurt sat up slowly. "Five minutes."
Blaine smiled even wider.
"We'll," Kurt said, less than a week later as Rachel Berry dashed around in a bit of circle, clutching her acceptance letter from NYADA, "this could have gone better." Next to him, Blaine's hand found his own.
"I knew it!" Rachel shouted, jumping high. "I knew they'd take me!"
Kurt tried hard to be happy for her. She was his friend. He repeated as much to himself several times.
"I love you," Blaine mumbled to him quietly. He could have spoken normally over Rachel's shrieking. "And it doesn't mean anything for you. We're holding out for San Francisco, remember?"
Kurt nodded. Then he asked Blaine, "If I get into San Francisco-"
"When," Blaine corrected.
"When I get into San Francisco," Kurt said for Blaine's benefit, "are you going to apply to a school near the West coast, or … or will you go towards the East?"
Rachel launched herself at Finn, legs wrapping around his waist as he struggled to support her sudden weight.
"I got where you go," Blaine said simply, and with a shrug. "Kurt, it's never mattered to me about a specific school, or program. I'm happy where you are. As long as you're near me, I'll be happy anywhere."
Critically Kurt asked, "And what did I do to deserve someone as amazing as you?"
Blaine snuck a kiss to his cheek as Rachel's voice rose in pitch. "I ask myself the very same question all the time. How about we just consider ourselves equally as lucky."
And after that, things happened rather quickly. The letter from San Francisco was still nowhere to be found, but Mike's own college acceptance letter arrived, along with Quinn's. And even Finn, who'd only applied to Ohio State, and who'd confided in Kurt that he wanted to study Kinesiology, was accepted.
"It'll get here," Blaine promised during lunch.
On Kurt's other side, Tina asked quizzically, "You haven't heard back yet?"
Kurt regarded the odd look on her fact for moment, then said, "San Francisco's application deadline did run later than most of the other schools. I'm not surprised they'd take longer to process."
A bit of a frown crept up on her face as she repeated, "San Francisco?"
As if jolted suddenly, Tina jumped up a bit. Across from her, Mike said suddenly, "Yeah, Tina, San Francisco. Don't you remember? The city by the bay."
Tina startled a bit then nodded quickly. "Yes. Of course. San Francisco. In California."
Suspiciously, Kurt asked, "What's going on?"
"Nothing!" Tina took a large bite out of her sandwich and Kurt turned to look at Blaine who seemed equally as confused.
"Something's going on," Kurt told Blaine as the lunch hour ended and they were alone. "Tina can't keep a secret to save her life. She gets jumpy when she tries."
Blaine shrugged his bag over his shoulder and said, "Tina's not the type to keep secrets."
"No," Kurt agreed. Then he reached out to grab Blaine's hand. It was likely as close to public affection as he dared. "Will you come to dinner on Friday? Finn talked dad into having Rachel over for family dinner to celebrate her acceptance. I think dad's probably started to realize that like it or not, approve or not, Rachel and Finn might end up married, and it's better to get to know her now, and not later."
"Your dad doesn't like Rachel?" Blaine asked in surprise.
Kurt let out a laugh. "No. nothing like that. I think he was just kind of hoping that Finn would end up married to someone a little less … obnoxious."
Blaine squeezed his hand. "I'll be there."
So naturally, because Kurt was convinced the world was quite against him, that his letter from San Francisco came the next day.
"Kurt?" Blaine asked, standing at Kurt's side as the pale teen held the envelope in his hands. "Do you want me to open it for you?"
Kurt nodded slowly, and asked, "You won't fake me out, right?"
Blaine plucked the envelope from his fingers. "Never."
Blaine held him when he did cry. He held Kurt close, one hand pressing against the back of his neck and the other firm around his waist. He was patient and empathetic and didn't rush Kurt at all. And then, when Kurt was done, Blaine fetched him a tissue and a glass of water, and cuddled him on the couch.
"No?" Burt asked when he arrived home later that night. He took in the sight of Blaine's sullen face and how Kurt, asleep with his face mashed into Blaine's shoulder, was curled in on himself.
"No," Blaine said quietly. "He was really holding out for San Francisco. It was his last hope."
"He cried," Burt said, more of a statement than question.
"He's strong," Blaine insisted. "He'll be okay."
Burt clasped a strong hand on Blaine's shoulder and said, "You're a good kid."
Blaine mumbled quietly, "Thanks, Mr. Hummel."
"Better start calling me Burt," the mechanic threw over his shoulder. "I have a feeling one day we're going to be family."
"He really said that?" Kurt whispered to Blaine on Friday, just before dinner was served.
"I swear to you," Blaine answered, eyes a little wide and very hopeful.
Kurt snuck a kiss to the corner of Blaine's mouth as Carole called out, "Dinner in ten minutes!"
Once they were all seated at the table, Rachel wasted no time in proclaiming loudly, "My fathers and I are already researching housing around NYADA. Naturally, I'll want to remain focused on my studies, but being confined to a small dorm is out of the question."
"That's your biggest worry?" Kurt asked, more than a little surprised.
Flustered, Rachel turned to him and said, "What would be a bigger concern? I need my space, Kurt. I need to feel comfortable to work. I won't be able to put my best foot forward and contribute if I'm not comfortable. And NYADA deserves only my best."
Burt coughed a little.
"NYADA deserves?" Kurt repeated flatly. "Rachel, we'll all proud of you for getting in, in fact the acceptable rate is actually quite low, but-"
"Only the best," Rachel interrupted. "Only the best are accepted. Clearly NYADA recognized my talent. They recognized me. And why shouldn't they?"
Kurt rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"Kurt," Rachel said, her voice already grating on his nerves. "There's no need to feel jealous."
Kurt's hand came down heavy on the table as Blaine said, "He's not jealous, Rachel. He just wants to make sure you truly appreciate the opportunity you have in front of you."
She nodded seriously. "I do. Of course. I'll have access to the best teachers and I'll give amazing performances. Everyone will be impressed. They'll love me. They'll-"
"Finn," Kurt snapped, foot nudging his brother under the table. "Weren't you going to tell us all about your plans? The Kinesiology program at Ohio State is actually quite impressive. Where do you plan to focus?"
Finn frowned. "You know my plans already."
Kurt pressed, "Then tell them again."
Rachel huffed. "There's no need to be sour, Kurt, just because NYADA accepted me and not you."
Tensely, Burt said, "Anywhere that Kurt goes, he'll do well. He has an excellent work ethic."
"Where he goes?" Rachel asked. "Didn't the three schools you applied to reject you?"
"Rachel," Carole said abruptly, guiding the girl up by her elbow. "Sweetie, how about you help me grab the extra rolls from the kitchen?"
"I'm going to strangle her," Kurt said quietly once she'd left.
"Don't let her get you on being jealous," Blaine said equally as quietly.
"I'll tell her not to talk about this anymore," Finn promised, sensing the atmosphere in the room.
Kurt waved a hand. "It's fine. She's excited. She's happy. It's okay. And maybe I am jealous, because I really wanted to get in. But it's okay. I can be happy for her. I can. I will be." He amended. "I can try to be."
Burt laughed an said, "Good man."
Kurt preened a bit as Blaine joined Burt in laughter.
True to his word, as Rachel continued to sing her own praise over her acceptance into NYADA over the following week, Kurt did his best to remain supportive. She was overjoyed and had a reason to be, but Kurt knew the reality of the situation. She was walking into a situation that would soon overwhelm her and be extremely stressful. The last thing she needed was him being combative with her. He could give her a peace of mind at the moment, even if it was the last thing he wanted to do.
And then two weeks after the first rejection letter came, there was another piece of mail waiting for Kurt when he got home from school. No one else was home and the mail was still in the mail box when Kurt collected it, evidence that no one else had seen the envelope addressed to him.
"What the …" he breathed out as he turned the letter over several times. "What are you?" Kurt asked, rubbing a finger over the crest on the front of the letter. It looked familiar but he couldn't place it.
He wasted no time in tearing open the letter, curious to find out what it was. And then when he'd read the first line of the paper inside, his stomach dropped out from under him. Shaking, he sunk to the floor, his legs bowing underneath him. He couldn't help reading aloud, "Mr. Kurt Hummel, we are pleased to accept your application into our Opera Studies program. We hereby invite you to audition privately for us and ask that you contact us within the next fourteen days to …" Kurt paused, having trouble breathing.
Juilliard? He'd received acceptance from … Juilliard? But how was that even possible? He hadn't dared to apply, not after Pillsbury had told him that Juilliard didn't offer a program in theater. But then he glanced back down at the letter and saw that he'd been accepted to audition in the Opera Studies program for his Artists' diploma .
He certain had the rang for it, but he wasn't sure about the power. His voice was often more flutter and airy. What little Kurt knew about Opera, power was the key component in performance.
His eyes burned right away and he choked out a happy sob. Juilliard wanted him. The most prestigious school in New York wanted him.
Then he remembered the beginning of the letter. An audition. He'd been preliminarily accepted into the program. He still needed to audition for them live, in person. He need to be in New York to do that. And he had less than two weeks. And that was if he even planned to go.
Kurt barked out a laugh. It was Juilliard. He was going.
"No way!" Blaine flipped the paper over several times after Kurt had handed it to him, the taller teen having called him over in a rush of excitement. "Juilliard?"
Kurt threw his arms around Blaine's neck. "I don't know how this happened! I didn't even apply!"
"Someone did," Blaine said, hugging him back just as tightly. "Someone applied for you, and submitted you for a program you didn't even think about."
Kurt pulled back for a moment, then said, "Tina?"
"Tina," Blaine agreed. "We need to get her over here now."
Tina explained, "I'm not even sure why you were applying to theater programs. Kurt, your voice is incredible. Your range is almost scary. I couldn't let you miss out on your dream school because you weren't thinking out of the box."
"NYADA was my dream school," Kurt reminded.
Tina shook her head. "You actually had a dream school before, NYADA, remember? You've talked about Juilliard for years. When I heard you weren't going to apply … I couldn't let you do that. But I also didn't want to get your hopes up. That's why I didn't tell you. I hope you're not too mad. I did the same thing with Mike. Actually, I did your applications at the same time."
Kurt stuttered a little as he said, "But Juilliard has such a low acceptance rate. And crazy requirements just to apply."
"Your grades are pretty amazing," Tina said casually. "That wasn't a problem at all. And you're a Senator's son now, Kurt. Your father may not have taken office yet, but you'll be a student when he does. That's an amazing thing to add to an application."
"But the performance aspect?"
Tina reached for him and hugged him tightly. "I know Rachel and Finn are spotlighted a lot in Glee club-"
"-and me," Blaine said in an embarrassed way.
Tina continued, "But you've shone so brightly, too. And by the way, there's this little thing called technology. Your dad has been to all of our competitions and recorded you. He also had your Dalton performance. I might have also thrown in your audition for the musical, and little things you've done over the years. I got Artie to help me with the guys from the AV club so we could edit it together. And I had Mercedes forge your signature on the application because her hand is steadier than mine. Then Mike cut class so he could mail it off without being found out, and Puck covered for us. It was a team effort, really, because you deserve this, Kurt, and we're going to make sure you get it."
Kurt held her as tightly as he dared. "I love you, Tina. You're an amazing friend. The best. I love you."
"So you're not mad?"
Kurt shook his head furiously. "No. No way. But you have to figure out a way to get me to New York. My dad will never let me go without him, and he can't leave right now."
Blaine's arm snuck around his waist and he said, "I think we should mobilize the troops. We've got this handled."
Which was how Kurt found himself, Blaine at his side, on a Saturday morning, preparing to audition.
"What if I mess up?" Kurt asked a bit desperately. His voice cracked and he squeaked, slapping both hands over his mouth.
"I hope not," Blaine said with a laugh. "I think this is the only shot you have. No pressure."
Blaine moved to stand behind him, and rubbed his shoulders slightly. "When you're out there on that stage, I want you to think about all the people you love. And you think about all the people who love you. There are a ton of them, Kurt, so you might want to take a moment to visualize them all. Because you need to see them standing right behind you. Think of it like Glee club, when we're in the auditorium and we're singing a group number, but this time you've got the lead. Think of them up there with you, with me right next to you, and know that you're singing for all of us."
Kurt leaned back against him. "Can you all be in your underwear?"
"If you actually think that'll help you concentrate more, and not less, then go ahead. But I don't think you'll need to. And for all this nervousness, you'll be just fine. In fact, you're going to do fabulously.
Kurt sighed. "I better, right? We're so dead if this is all for nothing."
Kurt thought suddenly of all their friends and how they'd all pulled together to cover for both Kurt and Blaine, and buy them plane tickets on such short notice.
"Mr. Hummel?" A short but pretty girl appeared at Kurt's side, a clipboard tucked to her chest and a radio clipped to her belt. "You're up in two minutes. I need you to follow me and take your place."
"I love you," Blaine said once more and hugged him quickly. "Now get up there and do this for all of us."
It was the most nervous Kurt had ever been in his whole life. He stood, center stage, with a spotlight on him, and indistinguishable figures in the audience. He waited for his tape to begin, and thought of Tina, who'd done for him what he hadn't thought to do for himself. And Blaine, who loved him more than sometimes Kurt thought he deserved to be loved. There was Puck, who really was the reason Kurt had met Blaine in the first place, and Mercedes, who knew how to forge his signature like the best of them. Suddenly Mike was next to him, encouraging him to never give up on his dreams, and Sam flashing him two giant thumbs up. He imagined everyone he loved, and everyone who loved him, just like Blaine said to, and then he sang.
"I won't know for weeks," Kurt told everyone when he was back in Lima the following Monday. They'd begged for information on the audition process but Kurt didn't have much to give them. "They thanked me for coming in and said they'd get back to me about the status of my application. I guess that's when they'll tell me." Kurt ran a hand down his clothing in a nervous tick. "I really don't know how it went. I'm not trained in opera. I don't know what they were looking for exactly."
Puck scoffed. "You got this in the bag, Hummel."
"That's what I thought about the Ohio Conservatory."
"What's going on here?" Rachel demanded as she came tearing into the choir room, sheet music tucked under one arm. "We have a competition in less than a week and you're all just standing around talking?"
As Kurt took his seat, he dared to feel the briefest of hope. But after that there was nothing but anxiety and the desperate wait to find out if he'd been accepted to a school he'd given up hope on. The mixed bag of emotion actually made him feel sick.
He'd somewhat expected another letter in the mail. It seemed the logical course of action. But then he'd been up in his room, finishing the last of his French homework when Carole had knocked on his door and held the cordless phone out to him, explaining, "She says her name is Patricia Brown and you'd been expecting her call."
Kurt nearly fumbled the phone as he said, "Yes, Ms. Brown?"
He cried once more, but worse than all the other times combined. He cried in loud sobs, jagged breaths and desperate sniffles. He spun Carole around the room with patches of laughter hidden in between his cries and when she pleaded with him to tell her what was wrong he could only exclaim, "They want me! They want me!"
Kurt kind of figured he'd have to name his first daughter after Tina, and that was something he could live with.
However, there really never seemed a good time to break the news to his father. Mostly, Kurt supposed, because telling his father he'd been excepted into Juilliard entailed having to tell his father that he'd drained his savings account to buy a plane ticket to New York, and that while he might have been eighteen at the time, he'd taken his underage boyfriend with him. His father would surely be happy for him over Juilliard, but there was always the chance that he'd be grounded until such time that he left for the school.
The best time seemed during their usual family dinner. It only happened to be a coincidence that Rachel and Blaine joined them once more. Kurt would have preferred to tell his family without Rachel being there. Kurt wasn't sure how she was going to react, but his gut told him it wouldn't be good.
Kurt waited for the perfect opportunity. But by he time they reached desert, Rachel was saying, "So I've found the perfect place to live while I attend NYADA. I'm sure all of my new friends will want to stay over and practice my lines with me." and Kurt was at the end of his rope.
Burt looked in serious danger of falling asleep at the table and Carole simply looked bored out of her mind. That was when Kurt chose to say, "Dad, you won't have to worry about me wanting to live off campus. Juilliard actually prefers that their undergraduate students remain as close to the campus facilities s possible." And that, was that.
Burt took a final bite of his pie and said easily, "I assumed as much. I already talked to some lady from campus housing. Unfortunately, because of my new position as a Senator, you're being considered a safety risk and they're going to request that you room with them anyway. You should have a room before the summer is out. We can go visit then, if you want."
Kurt's jaw dropped a little, though not as much as Rachel's.
Burt said, poking a fork at Kurt, "Did you know that Juilliard requires a good faith deposit on all incoming freshmen tuition payments? I did that earlier this week." Kurt's eyes doubled as Burt said, "And we're going to talk about how you managed to audition in person later on tonight."
"Juilliard?" Rachel screeched, on her feet in an instance. Kurt had been expecting it. "You're lying!"
"I'm not," Kurt said calmly.
Rachel sputtered, "But Juilliard doesn't even have a theater program!"
Blaine piped up, "But they've got a vocal department. Kurt was accepted into the opera program. He hasn't had any training, but maybe that's what Juilliard was looking for. They can shape Kurt. They can mold him. They can make him into an amazing singer, and they don't have to erase years of other training to do that."
Frantically, she snapped, "But you didn't get into NYADA. How could Juilliard want you? Why would they want you? Is it because you're about to be a Senator's son?"
Kurt's eyes narrowed. "Let me tell you something, Rachel. Let me tell you what Patricia Brown, the dean of the vocal department from Juilliard told me over the phone. She said to me that I'm not the most amazing voice she'd ever heard. She says I lack depth, and there are parts of the curriculum that I'm really going to struggle with. But the reason she accepted me? It has nothing to do with the position my father is about to hold. It's because she said she was watching me and she could see the performance. She said she could see my raw talent bleed through to something more amazing. She could see me on stage at Carnage Hall, giving a sold out performance, or singing on any stage in the word. She said I have stage presence, and drive and dedication and will. She said I have star quality. There's potential in me, Rachel, and it doesn't matter if you can see it or not. The dean of the vocal department at Juilliard can, and that's good enough for me."
Rachel's shoulders shook and her eyes look a bit wet. "But Juilliard. I don't … I don't get it. Why you? I'm a better singer."
"You didn't even apply," Finn reminded.
"If I had," she said quickly, "I'm sure I would have been accepted. If Kurt could get in, I know I could."
Kurt shrugged. "Then apply. Next semester, apply. But you might want to try being a little humble. The world doesn't owe you anything. You're amazing, Rachel, but your problem is that you think you deserve things. You don't deserve anything. If you want something, you need to work for them. Nothing is going to be given to you. Nothing is worth having if you don't work for it. Do you understand what I'm saying? It's never been your talent that's in question."
"I got into NYADA," Rachel said, flustered, "it doesn't matter what you think of me."
"I guess not," Kurt said, smile on his face. "But that's really just what I've been trying to tell you."
Huffy, Rachel said, "I need to go home now. Finn, walk me out." She stormed from the room and Finn was left to stumble after her.
"That went well," Burt said.
"Dad," Kurt said quietly. "Mrs. Brown said it wasn't, but I don't know … do you think my getting into Juilliard had anything to do with you being a Senator now?"
"Kurt," Blaine breathed out from next to him. "You know it didn't."
"I didn't make any calls," Burt said haughtily, "if that's what you think. What I do think is that you have a natural talent that can't be denied, and the reason you weren't accepted anywhere else is because you were meant to be at Juilliard. I think everything happens for a reason, kid, and you shouldn't spend life second guessing things. Plus, don't you have bigger things to worry about now?"
Kurt almost swooned as he said, "Juilliard. It's amazing."
"You're amazing," Blaine said, taking his hand.
There were congratulations to go around later on when everyone else found out. None, however, came from Rachel, and Kurt took it in stride. She'd come around, or maybe she wouldn't. Either way, like his father had said, he had much bigger things to worry about. In only a few short months he'd be graduating and there was that to think of, and Blaine, and his whole future ahead of him.
Kurt pulled a book from his locker and turned to see Rachel standing next to him. It looked like the apology had caused her pain, but Kurt supposed it was better than nothing. "For?"
Rachel gritted her teeth. "For not being as supportive of you as you were of me."
Kurt breathed out a sigh of relief. "Apology accepted."
Rachel stubbed her toe into the ground and said, "Tina told me she sent in your application for you. You didn't even know."
"I didn't," Kurt confirmed. "But I'm not sorry she did it. I think I've worked hard to get into Juilliard. I always give Glee my all, and study hard, and do my best. If someone else sees potential in me, then that's not something you get to be angry over."
Rachel shook her head. "Jealous. I can say it now. Jealous."
Kurt gave a chuckle. "Would you believe that I was so incredibly jealous of you getting into NYADA? I thought I was going to die of jealousy."
"Really?" Rachel asked, a smile pulling at her face. "You were jealous of me?"
Kurt threw an easy arm around her shoulders. "You sound surprised. Rachel, you're amazing. NYADA is gaining such an amazing addition to its program. You're going to be so much better, after. You'll make it on Broadway right away."
"You know," Rachel said, swinging her books out in front of her as they walked. "We may be going to different schools, but we're both still going to be moving to New York like we said we would. Now, I know your dad said that Juilliard wants you to remain on campus, but I'm pretty sure that's only going to be for a while. After, we can still get that apartment we were talking about."
"I'm listening," Kurt said, strolling with her down the hall.
He went away to Juilliard half a year later, and it was hard. He felt homesick, the curriculum was more than challenging and Kurt missed Blaine terribly. But there were phone calls home, moments of adjustment, and Kurt was happy. Living out his dreams, he couldn't have been anything but.