DISCLAIMER: I do not own Glee, nor am I associated with it or RIB. I don't own anything - there we go.
Don't Run Away
Warning: Spoilers for Season 4 - an AU of 4x07 on. Basically a 'what if' Blaine transferred back to Dalton like he was planning instead of being talked out of it like Sam was able to do in the actual episode.
"Kurt, that you?"
"Of course it is, Finn. Where's dad? Can I talk to him?"
"Sorry, man. He's not here at the moment; he and mom went out on a date since Burt's got a night free this week. I could always have him call you back though."
"That'd be great actually. Do you know what time they'll be back?"
"Around 10ish, I think. You still gonna be up?"
"Yeah, most likely. Isabelle's got me filing some past designs for her, so I might be pulling an all-nighter tonight. Thought I'd talk to dad for a little while as I sorted through these files. I guess I'll have to wait though."
"Well, umm, I guess I'll have Burt call you when he gets home-"
"Are you okay? You sound frazzled."
Finn sighed on the other line, "Well, to be honest… umm, no. Things aren't going too well right now."
"Why not? Something happen with the glee club?"
"Yeah, uh… we might not have enough members to compete at Sectionals in a few weeks."
Kurt gasped softly. It wasn't like this was anything new to the New Directions - they had dealt with the problem of lack of members last year too - but just a few weeks ago when Kurt went back to see the school perform Grease, it looked as if the ranks of New Directions had filled just fine. "But I thought-"
"We had a member quit the other day. We're a guy short."
"A guy? You lost one of the guys?"
"Yeah, man… I, uh, I know you and Blaine are over, but-"
Kurt winced at the sound of his ex's name and then immediately blistered in anger, "You mean to tell me that Blaine quit? Seriously? I can't believe he'd do that! I mean-"
"He didn't just quit, Kurt."
Finn paused and Kurt sucked in a breath, instantly nervous to hear what his stepbrother had to say. "What did he do?"
"He… he transferred back to Dalton."
Kurt laid flat on his bed, eyes staring blankly up at the wall as he listened to the pitch of Rachel's voice get higher and higher. Somewhere in their tiny apartment, she was on her phone with Quinn, listening to the other girl talk about what a mess New Directions had become after the loss of Blaine's talent.
"You mean to tell me that you guys can't even get one band member to lip sync and sway in the background?! If you guys don't get another member by tomorrow, you can't perform and New Directions will crash and burn, Quinn! We didn't bust our behinds just to go from National champs to pathetic has-beens in the same year!"
As Rachel's voice grew more and more frantic, Kurt covered his face with one of his pillows and sighed heavily, his stomach turning as Finn's words from just days ago echoed in his ears.
"He transferred back to Dalton."
Blaine had left McKinley and rejoined the Warblers. He had just waltzed in one afternoon after lunch and broke the news to Finn, told him that he sang with the Warblers and it felt right, that Dalton felt like home and McKinley was just a temporary shelter. He said he didn't belong at McKinley and when Finn told Kurt about it, he expressed how Blaine basically flat out said that without Kurt there (and in his life), things felt emptier and wrong at McKinley.
So he left.
He left the New Directions without a leading front man, without their handpicked successor of Rachel Berry, and with Blaine's transfer, the group was a man short right before Sectionals.
Deep down, Kurt wondered if Blaine heading back to Dalton would jeopardize New Directions' chances at winning Sectionals. Blaine was a showman through and through and over the last two years, he had only grown in his vocal power and stage presence. He'd be a force to reckon with on his own and with the Warblers - the group he had once had under his beck and call - he may have become unstoppable.
Kurt sighed again and removed the pillow from his face, only to find Rachel staring darkly at him, her phone squeezed to death in her right hand.
"They can't get a replacement for Sectionals. They may not be able to compete."
"And how is this our problem? We've graduated, we've moved on. We aren't a part of New Directions anymore-"
"We're alumni, Kurt! We're supposed to support our friends and right now, they need our help!"
"Didn't you just say, like, last week that McKinley wasn't our home anymore? That we really didn't belong in Ohio?" When Rachel fell silent, Kurt rolled his eyes and sat up, patting his bed to signal the girl to sit next to him. She quietly obliged and he reached over to squeeze her hand, "I know you are sad for them and everything, but it's their job to get new members. Not ours. Finn-" He flinched when he saw Rachel's lower lip disappear under her teeth, "Finn's gonna be able to find someone else to fill Blaine's-" Now it was his turn to gnaw on his lip, "-spot and the group will be fine."
"I just don't- I know Finn and I are over, but I don't want him to feel like this is his fault, you know? Blaine just up and quit, just like that, and I know he's probably freaking out right now. New Directions were supposed to practically be shoe-ins to win Sectionals and now there's a wrench in the plan."
"And you're scared." It wasn't a question.
Rachel crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against Kurt's shoulder, "You remember how it felt when we lost Regionals a few years ago? Remember how awful it was to go from the exhilaration of our performance to losing and knowing that we were losing something amazing after it was all said and done." She waited until Kurt nodded before she continued, "Just imagine how Tina and Artie and Sam and everybody else would feel if they weren't able to compete because they were a person short. Imagine being in their shoes, being a part of the National Show Choir championship team, and having to go from the top to the bottom all because you can't find a replacement teammate-"
A small voice in Kurt's head chimed that no one could ever replace Blaine, but he kept his mouth shut and shushed the voice back into oblivion. "I understand."
"Yes." He wrapped an arm around Rachel's shoulders and rested his head on top of hers, "I get it now. This is pretty awful for them, isn't it?"
"Yes, and Kurt, I know it's hard for you too… knowing that Blaine left McKinley and went back to Dalton, especially after what the Warblers did to him… but I'm glad you understand my point-of-view."
Kurt shook away the memories of Blaine throwing himself in front of Sebastian's rock salt laced slushie and squeezed Rachel a little bit tighter. "I do hope they find a new member."
"My god, me too, Kurt. Me too."
He knew what had happened before Rachel even came bursting into his room.
"Let me guess, they found a replacement?"
"Yes! That new cheerleader girl, the one Quinn said sort of reminded her of herself… umm, Kitty? She was able to persuade one of the Cheerios to join as a backup until after Sectionals, when they can audition some other people. New Directions will be able to perform!"
Rachel took a seat on his bed and cupped a hand over top of his, "You're still upset that we can't make it back home for Thanksgiving, aren't you?"
"Don't lie to me, Kurt Hummel. I know you better than that."
Kurt huffed, "Okay, fine. I wish I could go home and spend Thanksgiving with my dad. I mean, I know that we really don't have the money for plane tickets and we were just gonna bypass this holiday and go back to Ohio on Christmas, but right now, I wish I was at home in my kitchen helping Carole bake or sitting on the couch watching my dad watch football."
"You miss them?"
"Of course I do."
"I know. I miss my dads too, but Kurt, just think! Tomorrow we'll be having our very first New York Thanksgiving and we might be able to go see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then we can come back here and eat… and maybe, if you don't care, we could watch New Directions perform at Sectionals."
Kurt sat up sputtering, "Wait, what?"
"Quinn's going to record the performance and live stream it for us. Since we're the only two not able to make it home for the holiday, she wanted us to see everybody perform. Now I know you won't want to watch Dalton sing, but-"
"No, it's okay. We can watch it all. It'll be like being there, right?"
"Kurt, we don't have to-"
He waved her off, poking her slightly with his foot, "It's the first Sectionals without us. We should've been there to watch it in person, but instead we'll be here eating stuffing and cranberry sauce and watching our friends perform on your laptop. And I wouldn't have it any other way."
Rachel beamed at him, casually throwing herself down on top of his body as she squeezed him in a bear hug, "I can't wait to spend Thanksgiving with you," she squealed. "It'll be the best Thanksgiving ever!"
Kurt's entire body was trembling the second the announcer called out the Dalton Academy Warblers. Rachel's arm shot across the couch as she gathered up his hand in her own and together the two of them watched closely as the lights came up and there stood Blaine in the middle of a sea of red and navy blazers.
It was like someone had plucked him from the past and dropped him onstage, like Blaine Anderson circa November 2010 was standing there instead of the Blaine that Kurt had left behind in the halls of McKinley just weeks before. He gasped at the sight.
"Oh my god," Rachel breathed next to him, the grip on his hand growing tighter. "What did they do to him?"
Kurt couldn't even answer. It was as if the Blaine onstage at that very moment was part android, part human; he looked like Blaine, but the look on his face was anything but. It was his showman face, the mask that Kurt had only seen a handful of times and something that he thought he really wouldn't ever have to see again.
And it hurt to see it, to see him like that.
Onscreen Blaine opened his mouth and his smooth voice swept through the speakers, the Warblers bopping and swaying behind him as he danced around the stage. The song was easy to recognize: Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson, a song that had been running on the airwaves for quite some time now. It was a prime choice for the all boys' show choir and it was also the perfect song to complement Blaine's voice.
However, it also sounded like a cry for help, especially to Kurt, like Blaine wanted someone to save him.
And remind me who I really am
Please remind me who I really am
From offscreen, probably somewhere to the left of Quinn, a soft, "Jesus Christ" could be heard and Kurt knew that the others watching the performance, the people who personally knew Blaine and had known what had caused the break-up, were just as shocked as he was at the words spilling from Blaine's mouth… even though the mask on his face told otherwise.
It's hard to know
What can become
If you give up
A knot welled up in his throat as he watched Blaine belt out the lyrics.
So don't give up on me
Please remind me who I really am
Beside him he felt Rachel scoot closer before he felt her arms slip around his middle. "Shh, Kurt, don't cry," she whispered to him, alerting him to the fact that sometime between the start of the performance and now, he had started to cry. "Please don't."
Blaine continued to sing, looking more and more unusual as he moved. It was a testament to the closeness of their bond that Kurt was able to figure out that the Blaine performing with the Warblers wasn't anything like the Blaine he had watched sing Beauty School Dropout just a few weeks ago… and he wondered what happened.
And then he remembered.
Don't run away
Don't run away
He ran away.
New Directions lost.
Rachel screamed when the judges announced the winner and Kurt's heart stopped beating for a second or two as he watched the faces of his friends fall. Onscreen the Warblers jumped up and down and cheered happily; Sebastian and some random blonde haired boy who had a few solo lines in their second number stepped forward and smiled as they accepted their trophy and in the background, Blaine stood with the faintest of smiles on his face - a fake one that Kurt was quick to catch, one that made his skin crawl and his whole body ache.
Quinn and the other alumni in the audience cursed under their breaths and then went silent, Quinn eventually turning the camera back towards her face as she stared back into the lens.
"I don't know what happened here," she said softly and back in New York, both Kurt and Rachel found themselves wondering the same thing.
"Something's wrong with him," Kurt said as he boxed up their leftovers and shoved them into the fridge. His movements were robotic and when he realized how stiff his body felt and how odd his movements were, he shook himself out a bit and ran a hand through his hair. Rachel grimaced next to him, sliding the last container of mashed potatoes into their tiny fridge.
"What do you mean?"
"You saw him perform, Rach. You can't tell me that that was the same Blaine who played opposite of you in West Side Story last year. Something's wrong."
"I'd say," Rachel hissed. "He dicked over his friends and went back to the Warblers because he's upset that you two are over."
Kurt blinked slowly, wishing the wave of hurt that threatened to overtake him to just disappear. "That's not what I meant and he didn't necessarily-"
"Oh please, Kurt. You can't just sit there and defend him after what he did to you."
"Don't act like I don't know what he did, Rachel! I know he cheated. I remember. I was there when he confessed to it, okay?! Just talking about him right now is tearing me apart, but honestly, did you even look at him? Something's not right!"
Rachel just rolled her eyes and stepped out of the kitchen, walking towards her room. "If you even dare try to defend him right now, Kurt, I'm not going to be able to restrain myself from shaking you." She walked into her room and grabbed up a blanket from her bed, walking back into the living area. She wrapped the blanket around herself and stared up at Kurt with dark, blazing eyes, "He cheated on you. He broke your heart. If anything, he deserves what he gets and if that means he needs to be sad or whatever, then so be it."
Kurt's eyes narrowed as he stepped back, "Funny to be hearing this from someone who once cheated on my stepbrother." When Rachel's mouth fell open in shock, Kurt pounced, "I'll say this again: I know he hurt me. I'm still hurt, but right now, I'm also worried… because the Blaine I know… he never- he- whatever that was onstage tonight was not him."
He crossed his arms over his chest, hugging himself tightly. "I'm scared, Rachel. Just like you were the other day for Finn when you found out that New Directions needed more people. I'm scared for Blaine because he- he just- that wasn't him out there."
"And was it him or was it someone else who cheated on you?" Rachel growled out.
Kurt closed his eyes, the tears that had welled behind his lashes leaking out and trailing down his cheeks, "I don't know, but I think I need to talk to him… and actually talk this time." He didn't wait for any reply from his roommate; instead he turned on his heel and went into his room, closing the dividing curtain behind him as he curled up on his bed and willed the images of Blaine's veiled expressions to vanish from his memory.
A/N: This fic has been rolling around in my head FOREVER since 4x07 aired. Plus I saw a prompt on Tumblr about it and my mind was like WRITE IT NOW because it was already floating around in there and other people seemed like they wanted to read it, sooooo... here it is. Don't worry this one won't be very long so I should hopefully get it done soon!