Kurt was spending a lot of nights at home. It wasn't a bad thing. His dad had almost passed earlier this year. He should, and did, appreciate just being able to spend time around him.
"You know," Burt said, coming into the living room, – where Kurt was on the couch reading the newest issue of Vogue – "You're not grounded. You can go out with your friends sometimes, as long as you're telling me where you're going, who you're with, and when you'll be back."
Kurt smiled over his magazine. "If I didn't totally deserve that, you'd be getting an earful right now about how I'm almost an adult and how you should trust me."
His dad huffed in s sound that was an almost laughter. It was weird, being able to joke about his disastrous sexual relationship with his dad in passing. But their relationship had always been a little weird, and oddly close, even if they lived on different wavelengths, ever since he came out.
Burt plopped down on the seat next to him and set an arm on the back of the couch, so it was behind Kurt's back but not quit over his shoulders. "How are you?" he asked.
"Okay," Kurt said at first. He pulled his legs underneath him. "Better," he added. Not all better, but better than he had been. A marginal improvement, but an improvement. Blaine and everything he did with Blaine still weighed on him. However, the further he got from the break up, the more sure he was that it was the right decision, and how wrong it was – for him – to have fooled around with Blaine the way he did. How it wasn't emotionally healthy for him. He was mending still.
"You're a good kid," his dad said gruffly, ruffling Kurt's hair.
Kurt shrugged away, a little embarrassed, but not unpleased. "I don't know about that. I feel pretty stupid lately."
"Most people feel stupid most of the time, so you're in good company."
"Gee, thanks," Kurt scolded, amused.
Burt pushed up off the couch. "I'll make dinner."
He left the room, Kurt was left thinking. He was still making paces, but he had come up with a better conclusion, of his tangled web of feelings for Blaine. It wasn't that he was in love with Blaine or ever was. It was that he entirely would have fallen in love with Blaine if circumstances of their relationship had been different. And that was a bitter pill to swallow, an almost love.
Wes banged his gavel on the desk even though everyone was already waiting patiently for him to start the meeting.
"As you all know," Wes said, "Regionals is looming, and as of today, our daily after school practice times are increased by a half hour. And depending on progress, I might institute Saturday practices." There were a few muffled groans around the room. No one like Saturday practices, for a number of reasons.
David elbowed Wes lightly.
Wes sighed and added, "Although Warbler David would like me to add that Saturday practices will only be under dire circumstances, given that we wouldn't want to lose our voices and/or wear out all out energy.
"Now, I think we can all agree, of the songs we have been working on lately, "Raise Your Glass" with Blaine on lead is totally in. I think the second song is up to debate, and I will know open the floor to discussion."
A series of hands popped into the air and Wes called on them in turn, and they all made their suggestions and debated the merits of each song choice. It quickly descended into chaos, or as much chaos as the Warblers descended into, which was not waiting their turn to be called on and talking over each other.
Throughout all this, Blaine sat hunched in his chair. He listened, but not attentively. He didn't know who was advocating what acappella version of what pop song, but the choices weren't really all that different from each other.
He stood, a decision made, and said, "I have a suggestion." Because of the dramatics of it all, and because it was Blaine, they all quieted down to listen.
"I think that our second song should be something that we don't already have in our wheel house. Something more… emotional."
"Are you suggesting we pick out a new arrangement for a new song this close to Regionals?" asked David, leaning forward from his place at the counsel table, like he couldn't believe he had hear right.
Blaine took a sigh, then said, "Yes." They exploded, or, you know, everyone started talking about this out-of-precedent idea all at once.
Wes banged his gavel on the table, saying, "order, order." Although his face was straight, he seemed to enjoy it way too much. Getting the room down to a dull hum of whispered voices, he said, "Let's here Blaine out." His tone suggested he wasn't too pleased with Blaine's idea, however.
"Look, everyone," Blaine said. "We tied in Sectionals. And while that means we didn't lose, it also means we didn't win. As such, we're going up against some of the same competition, and we have to step up our game. So we need to take the best of us – our harmonies, our precision, our charm – and fuse it with some of the best New Directions has to offer, their passion and emotion." The whispers had ended. Blaine thought he had at least some of them convinced. "As such, I am volunteering to persevere to get the new, emotional song ready to perform, and would give my lead on "Raise Your Glass" to Nick."
The room exploded again. Someone giving up a solo they auditioned for was unheard of. Before he knew what being dragged outside of the commons by his sleeve, by Wes, who said through gritted teeth, "I need to talk to you outside for a moment."
The door shut behind them.
"Okay, I get that you're going through a teenage angst time at the moment, and Kurt is going to be at Regionals, but seriously, do you need to cause me all this stress."
"It's a good idea."
"It's a good idea too close to Regionals."
"Well, I just thought of it…"
"Uggh," Wes said, which was more a sound than a word. He put down his hands from his hair and said, "Do you at least have an idea for this emotional song."
"I was thinking "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keene."
Wes stilled. "That's a good sound," he said, almost shocked to hear himself say it.
"It is," Blaine agreed with a nod.
"Imagine the harmonies," Wes waxed on. "And how it would appeal to the older crowd, which the judges always are… I actually see no downside."
Blaine couldn't help but grin at his victory. Wes would be the hardest to win over, after all, as well as the most persuasive in getting Blaine's dream into reality.
"And giving Nick your lead on "Raise Your Glass"?" Wes questioned, though not harshly.
"I really want to sing "Somewhere Only We Know." And if I have to perfect a new song by Regionals, I can't keep up the lead for "Raise Your Glass" as well. Nick was my understudy anyway, and he's waited long enough for a lead. He can do it… plus, it helps shows the diversity of the group to the judges."
"I don't know if you believe half what you're saying, or if you're just saying it to persuade me."
"And you'll never know," Blaine said.
"Stop being a smartass, and let's go inform the Warblers of our new plan."
Mr. Schue wrote a single word on the whiteboard in sloppy, angled letters: Regionals. Santana looked at her watch and said. "Isn't it a little early for us to be discussing Regionals?"
"It's two weeks away," Sam said.
Discussions, which were loud and almost violent, ensued. Kurt was checked out. He cared about Regionals, sure, and he wanted to get to Nationals, totally, but… Well, one, he had got a solo in Sectionals and because his name wasn't Rachel Berry, it was highly doubtful he would get one again. Someone else deserving probably should, like Santana or Tina or Artie. And two – a two that Kurt was trying to minimize into a footnote but was actually making the main essay – Blaine would be there. And just thinking ahead, two weeks to that, was already stressing him out.
Mercedes poked him in the arm. "You all in there, boy?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Kurt said, purposefully straightening himself in his seat.
"Well, you're not in this rabble like the rest of us, and that's not you."
"I think you should get a solo," Kurt said, which was true, but also completely manipulative.
"Damn straight," she agreed, and then went back, passionately, into the main discussion as an advocate for herself.
Santana caught up with Kurt after the disastrous practice, if it could even dared to be called practice. He latched onto his elbow as they both made their way through the empty hallway.
"What?" Kurt asked of her.
"Yes, and I believe you got a solo, didn't you," Kurt said. He thought that Santana got that solo because everyone short of Mercedes was too scared of her when Santana got into a rage that involved her yelling in Spanish.
"I still don't know which is the better part: having a solo or Berry's face when I got the solo and she didn't."
"You're a strange person."
She gave a 'well, sure' shrug. "But I'm not done talking about Regionals and you."
"And your Warbler ex- boy toy."
"I love how you word things so delicately," Kurt said, laced with harsh sarcasm. He planned to try and ignore the issue, even if it would probably fail.
"Well, obviously I'm not here just to drag up your garbage for your emotional pain. I'm here, god help me, to offer some help."
"Help how?" Kurt asked, suspicious, and probably rightly so. For all he knew, Santana would be trying to hook him with some other gay guy she had discovered, and that's not really want he wanted right now or ever. He didn't trust Santana's taste in men. She dated Puck, after all.
"Look, you can trick yourself into thinking you're ready and okay to see that person, but then you show up, and they're there, and you're not. Everything whams into like a hammer, and next thing you know, you're crying in a public bathroom."
Kurt raised an eyebrow. "Are we talking about you or me?"
"Shut up," she said, a little darkly. Kurt thought that answered his question. "I'm just trying to help you out. Seeing him is going to suck hard ass, period, and you best get ready. Because at least it won't hit you like a hammer if you're expecting it. You can't be crying in a bathroom when we need you on stage. And, for fuck's sake, I'm giving emotional advice for the good of the glee club. What has become of me?"
"You've become one of us," Kurt said, teasing.
"No," Santana said, letting go of him. "Never."
"Yes, Wes," Blaine said as he slaved over his literature essay. He could just sense Wes standing in his open dorm doorway, though not yet knocking.
Wes took a single step inside of the room. "I've been going over the "Somewhere Only We Know" lyrics over and over again, you know, for arrangements."
"Of course. I'd expect nothing less than obsessive thoroughness from you."
"I'll sass with you later, Blaine, but right now I have a question."
That made Blaine look up from his computer. "What's up?"
"The song. Are you doing it because of Kurt or for Kurt. Because if it is because of Kurt, whatever, we all deal with our shit in different ways. But if it's for him, I'm going to have to reiterate the whole it's wasn't just sex thing."
Blaine didn't answer right away, and when he did, it was with, "I really have to write this paper, Wes."
Aki: The much delayed chapter update. Here we are. I should be back on my regular schedule from here on out. Next chapter, Regionals