Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.

"How many phone calls are you going to make, exactly?"

Blaine ignored Cooper as he held the phone to his ear, one hand drumming against his left leg impatiently. He was pacing across the kitchen floor slowly as he waited for some response, the intermittent rings more frustrating than helpful.

It had been three hours since he had left Kurt's house, determined to fix things, to make his failure with NYADA right somehow, and insofar all Cooper had done was criticize the fact that he hadn't tried any of his cupcakes. Blaine didn't want cupcakes: he wanted to hear from Madam Tibideaux herself why Kurt wasn't going to NYADA that fall.

There was a long pause and then the familiar message from Miss Tibideaux stating that she was not available at the moment. If he was not interested in phoning a more resourceful underling, then he could leave a message. Without waiting for the spiel to finish, Blaine ended the call and redialed. Cooper remained by the far counter watching him, leaning back on his hands thoughtfully.

"Something happened," he deduced at last.

"Hello, you've reached the office of Madam - "

Click.

"Blaine, bud, you can't keep calling this person indefinitely," Cooper continued, aiming for soothing as he reached over to put his hands on Blaine's shoulders. Blaine ducked out of his grasp and into the living room, already redialing the number. He knew that it was fruitless to keep calling when clearly no one was answering but he couldn't help himself. It was too important to miss, and one thing was for certain: he wouldn't stop calling until he heard from Madam Tibideaux personally, regardless of how long it took.

Three failed calls later, Cooper sidled into the living room after him, brushing the remnants of chocolate cupcake crumbs from his fingers. Without saying anything, he reached over and squeezed Blaine's shoulder once. "Your call, squirt. I'll be upstairs. Holler if you need anything."

Blaine gave him a single terse nod of acknowledgment before sinking down onto the couch, cradling the phone against his ear as he punched in the redial again. Cooper was gone before Tibideaux's voice mail had finished relaying itself, Blaine closing his eyes in frustration as he hit redial.

It was already inching towards one o'clock in the morning and while part of Blaine knew that the likelihood of him reaching anyone at this hour was borderline obscene, he couldn't help himself. Listening to Kurt describe his feelings, listless and deflated, lacking that same fiery displeasure that had characterized his previous encounters with misfortune, had been one of the hardest things Blaine had ever done.

I don't know what to do. I don't know where I'm going and I don't know how I'm supposed to get to New York and I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do anymore, Blaine.

We'll figure something out. I promise, Kurt, we'll figure something out.

What that something was was more elusive. Confronting the source of Kurt's misery had seemed like the simplest option. Kurt had offered a sad little smile and told him that he would text him in the morning when he left; Blaine already knew that he wasn't going to sleep very much that night. Not when he knew that Kurt would be restless and anxious and upset about it.

"Hello, you've reached the office of Madam - "

Click.

Blaine breathed out deeply as he ran a hand through his hair. If he had been keeping count, then he would have known that twenty-seven unanswered calls was only proof that he would not receive any answer at all. But he hadn't been and the rejections seemed to blend together, each monotonous ring fading into the next and finally that smooth, calm voice -

"Hello?"

Blaine blinked once in sluggish disbelief, his thumb still hovering over the 'end call' button even as his other hand reached up to grip the phone tightly. "M-Madam Tibideaux?" he stammered.

"Yes," the same voice replied, sounding only vaguely interested. He thought he heard paper crinkling in the background as she moved. "What do you want?"

"Hi. I'm Blaine, Blaine Anderson. I - I'm sorry for calling you this late," Blaine blurted, unable to help himself.

"I'm the dean of a liberal arts school," Tibideaux said dismissively. "One becomes accustomed to late calls. To what do I owe this particular misfortune?"

Blaine swallowed silently, knowing that a single misplaced word now could mean worse for Kurt's - and his own - fate in the New York industries. Regardless of their focus, Madam Tibideaux was a name that drew attention, and a single bad review from her could devastate a young performer's entire career therein. Blaine knew that even if he and Kurt never pursued any form of performance in their lives, Tibideaux's poor evaluation could mean more than simply an ended phone call.

"Madam Tibideaux," he began again, his voice slightly steadier as adrenalin forced him back to full wakefulness. "Three weeks ago, you watched Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel audition for the New York Academy for the Dramatic Arts. At the time you said your impression then would weigh heavily on the fate of the applicant's future with NYADA. I know it's not my place to speak for you, but Kurt Hummel clearly gave the better performance. Rachel choked during her audition and was unable to finish. You said . . . you said that the superior performer would advance."

"That I did," Madam Tibideaux said evenly.

"So why didn't Kurt get into NYADA?" Blaine asked, unable to find a less blunt way of phrasing it.

There was a long pause from the other end of the line. For a moment Blaine was convinced that she had hung up and he had missed it, had fallen asleep for a heartbeat and now he was simply holding an empty phone. Just as he was about to end the call, however, the steady voice returned.

"I am not at liberty to disclose personal evaluations of other performers on my tour," Madam Tibideaux said. "However, I can safely say that Kurt Hummel was one of the best performers I've seen all year."

"So why didn't he - ?"

"Let me finish, Mr. Anderson."

"Blaine," he insisted.

"Very well. Let me finish, Blaine. If I had based my evaluation entirely upon what I saw that day in the auditorium, there is no doubt in my mind which applicant I would have chosen."

Blaine felt a hint of something sharp and bitter lodge itself in his throat at the words. A sense of betrayal washed over him even as he forced himself not to think into it too deeply.They lied, a small voice insisted. They said the audition would make or break the applicant. They said the audition mattered the most.

And Kurt killed his audition.

"However, one cannot always predict which person will become a star based on a single performance," Madam Tibideaux said.

"I respect that you gave Rachel a chance," Blaine managed to say in his calmest, most polite tone. "I really do. But I don't understand why Kurt had to suffer because of it."

"One day you will learn that it is not always the institution that shapes great performers, Mr. Ander - Blaine. It was not because Kurt lacked the ability or the potential for greatness that we did not admit him into our program. Rather, Kurt already possessed enough on his own that, when it came down to him and Miss Berry, we chose the performer who could benefit most from what our school has to offer."

"Kurt wanted NYADA more than anything," Blaine insisted. "He spent months hoping that he would get in."

"NYADA is not everything that it appears on paper, Blaine. For some people it is a haven to explore and enhance their talents, and for others, it would be their demise as a performer. Kurt is one of those people that would not benefit from entering our program."

"I still don't understand why you would reject someone that you admit was the better performer."

"If he is strong enough to continue after this setback, I have no doubt that Kurt Hummel will do fine for himself wherever he chooses to go," Madam Tibideaux countered smoothly. "If he is not strong enough, then he would not have been suited for our program, anyway. Understand this, Blaine: I did not rule in favor of Rachel Berry's admittance over Kurt Hummel's because I wished to destroy his career. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our program would have suppressed his individuality more than it would have enhanced it."

Blaine drew in a deep breath, forcing himself to remain calm despite his conviction that NYADA rejecting Kurt was wrong wrong wrong. He had seen his boyfriend in tears, had held him while he choked back sobs, unable to form words to properly express his grief. An experience like that wouldn't fade with a few comforting words, but the thought that Tibideaux thought so highly of Kurt seemed to be soothing some of the open wound Kurt's dejection had ripped in both of them.

"I wish him all the best in his ventures," Madam Tibideaux said at last. "I am even willing to write a letter of recommendation for him if he so desires. And I am sorry that this is a cruelty I must exact upon him in order to help him succeed. One day in the future, I hope, he will thank me for what I have done."

"Thank you," Blaine said, unsure what exactly he was thanking her for - reasons, perhaps, or better yet: hope - but certain that it was somehow earned. "And thank you for your time."

"You're welcome. I hope to keep in touch with you both, Blaine Anderson."

"Thank you," Blaine said again. "Good night, Madam Tibideaux."

"Good night, Blaine."

He wasn't sure who hung up first, himself or Madam Tibideaux, but suddenly he found himself lying on top of his covers on his bed, Margaret Thatcher Dog tucked close to his chest. He breathed in deeply, trying to suppress the emotions that Kurt's rejection had re-invoked in him. Fears of his graduation were certainly involved, but Blaine's worry over his future was the most prominent, the most impassioned.

You will get to New York, he had promised fervently. I'll do whatever it takes to help you there, Kurt. Whatever it takes.

He fell asleep with Margaret's warm muzzle underneath his chin, Madam Tibideaux's words chasing him into soft-edged dreams.

It was not that Kurt lacked the ability or potential for greatness.

Greatness.

Blaine smiled a little, just a tiny quirk of his lips as exhaustion weighed him down.

You will be great, Kurt. You are great.


Author's Notes: Hello, again!

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