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In to The Woods

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They hadn’t got far in putting together the song before dinner was announced.

It was a much different experience than the first night, when Kurt felt like no one noticed him.  All sorts of people came up to him and spoke to him.  He met the guys who’d taken out the motorbikes after he’d gone for his ride; he met several of Ravi’s friends, who spoke with him about his dad and politics.  He met a few of the older Warblers, who had been working with Elliot on the songs right before dinner.

It wasn’t like Blaine was alone…he had his little harem and a small posse of pals who gathered around them like moths to a flame.  But Kurt was included in a group as well, and comments from said group made Kurt wonder how much of his being left alone at first was at Blaine’s suggestion.  He’d heard more than one person say they’d hoped to talk to him but that Blaine had told them Kurt would prefer they not.

After dinner they went and worked on the songs Elliot wanted to try, getting ‘Come Together’ to a level that Conner recorded it for Elliot.  Then Jeff and Nick talked Kurt into doing Blackbird for them.  Like Kurt had predicted, more guys than they started with moved into the music room to participate.  Kurt could see about nine guys out in the hot tubs, where Blaine and his group were holding court, but the majority of guys were in with Kurt. Several of the guys who’d sung with Ravi and the older Warblers showed off some of the songs they’d done in the days…and won with.  Kurt was especially fond of the medley of John Denver songs they did and their ‘Ring of Fire’ arrangement.

When it started to get dark, Kurt and Elliot headed back to the camp. Jeff and Nick and Conner and Jake were to spend the next day at the Kurt’s campsite…or at least part of it.  Elliot grabbed the knapsack of clothes from Jeff’s car as they headed out.

They chatted on the small hike back to the camp.  Kurt pulled out sodas to drink and they retired directly to the tent. 

“You’ll have to share the mattress.” Kurt said. “But you can have your own sleeping bag. I’m changing, I hope you don’t mind. I have extra blankets in the corner if you need some; it is still a bit chilly at night.  I haven’t been cold, but I bought extra thick fleece pajamas.”

“Can I brag to one and all tomorrow that I got to sleep with you?” Elliot asked. “I’ll be fine; I packed what I have been wearing at night at the retreat.”

Kurt shrugged.

“Kurt?”

“I was hoping to wait to actually break-up with Blaine until after finals….I know he is going to fail and blame it all on me as it is. With a break-up added to that?  I’ll be lucky if they don’t toss me out on me ear…for making the poor darling so stressed and broken hearted he couldn’t do his work.  And the teachers will buy it….they always do for him and Rachel.”

“You are forgetting something.” Elliot said.  He made sure to hunt around his bag while Kurt changed his pants. “There is a whole day of you being lost broadcast all over social media and a whole day of Blaine not caring being broadcast just as loudly.  There are three dozen guys here who will mostly vouch for the activities that Blaine did here…while you were lost.  And also probably about how NOT heartbroken the brat is.  I’ll come with you and talk to the powers that be if need be.  You know I will.”

“And yet, somehow I doubt it would make a difference.” Kurt said.

“Then make it make a difference.  Is it everyone who seems under their spell, or just certain people?  Go to other department heads if you need to. Had Rachel charmed them all? Are those under Blaine’s spell also those under who had been under Rachel’s?  Or did he do his own schmoozing?” Elliot asked.

Kurt tilted his head as he thought.  “You know…I don’t think she had.  She rather alienated the dean who oversees the drama classes…and who overseas most the non-practical courses like script analyses. She’s upset most the staff who teach on the tech side of the program and all the staff who deal with dance…all the staff, not just the instructors. She was rude to most the other vocal professors. Blaine is harder to gauge…there are people who praise and adore him who don’t seem to have ever met him or know much more about him than he has to be wonderful because he is in sophomore classes. Or maybe his folks put sooo much money into getting him in the classes he is in that they are enamored with that.  I don’t know how to prepare for that.”

“His folks gave money to the school to ensure his class choices?” Elliot asked, pulling out his pants and sleeping shirt now that Kurt was mostly changed.

Kurt shrugged and turned around to pull out the small speakers for his IPod so they could listen to music and Elliot could change pants. “His first semester he was in regular first year freshman classes and he just did OK…there were no As…but he passed the things he took with Bs and Cs.  He was like Rachel, though…he took voice and a private voice section, acting, dance and a lecture course on auditioning for different formats that he wasn’t supposed to be able to take but his brother knew the guest lecturer and got him into that one.  He carried just enough credits to be full time.  He dropped dance with Ms. July and changed into a lower level course within the first week taught by someone else…which he also skipped about ¼ of.  He skipped out on his acting course half the time.  Then second semester starts up and he is in 6 of my 8 classes….all 6 of his classes are with me.  My classes are sophomore level…I spent the time attending everything I needed to move ahead with the amount of credits needed to be a sophomore.  He hadn’t even taken any of the first year of script analysis, or English 101, which were supposed to be the prerequisites for script writing.  He hadn’t taken the dance courses or the movement course which was supposed to be needed to take stage combat. The same for everything.  I asked how he was in my classes.  His first response was that he was just so good all his teachers recommended he skip ahead. Then I said I was going to ask around to see which teachers said that. He huffed and puffed and whined before saying that he just signed up and then pull strings to stay.  It was during a chat with Rachel I learned his dad was donating several good sized scholarships for the years he was in the school and that his mom was donating to help fund some instrument updates so he could have the best for accompanying his star performances. I simply concluded that was how he got himself into classes he wasn’t suited or prepared for.”

“Please tell me you are kidding?  That is absolutely horrible.”

“I only wish I were.  And I suppose I could be wrong, but it is the only explanation that makes any sense…well, there is the people are hypnotized by his puppy dog eyes and hair gel theory, but generally I only indulge in that one when I am a bit tipsy on cough syrup and pain meds and still running a high fever…or concussed.” Kurt said.

Elliot snorted and tucked the clothing he’d changed out off into his knapsack, making sure he’d pulled out the thick socks he’d packed when he saw Kurt pull out his own. He handed Kurt the knapsack and Kurt passed it off to the side of the tent where his own was resting.  He flopped back onto the air mattress.  Kurt settled beside him.

“This is ridiculously comfortable for an air mattress.” Elliot said.

Kurt blushed. “I didn’t want Sam to be uncomfortable. My dad would have been upset.  He sees Sam as one of us most the time.”

“Do you ever wish to see what would happen if you had that kind of money to pour into things?” Elliot asked, staring at the top of the tent.

“No.” Kurt answered. “I decided once I started school that I wanted to gather as much experience as possible.  I never want a lack of knowledge or experience on my part to be the reason a production has issues. I didn’t get the parts that Blaine and Rachel always did.  I didn’t get the summer jobs performing, or the summer voice lessons or fancier dance classes outside Lima, which both had even if they didn’t take as much advantage of what they were given as they could.  I have time and learning to catch up on.”

Elliot snorted. “Why is it always the ones who had everything who never appreciate it?”

Kurt smiled. “I don’t know, but seriously…there is one huge thing I learned at Dalton; Appreciate the things you have and don’t go looking for something better all the time. At first I was jealous of all those kids and their never ending cash, but then I realized that half couldn’t even make themselves a sandwich…let alone wash their clothing or fix their car or bike.  Lose a button?  Toss the shirt out and go buy a new one. However fine that was for a uniform shirt, I watched so many boys whine or get into a rage over loosing favorites because they lost a button.  Drop paint on your shoe?  Write home for a new pair to be sent and some extra cash for emotional turmoil, while whining that now you have to break in new shoes and your favorites are ruined forever and can’t be worn.  Miss lunch due to a meeting with a teacher?  Even with options of an open kitchen for student use after lunch was over and each dorm having a stocked kitchen, half of them would starve instead because they had no clue how to even find a snack.  Not all of them were that bad, but most were close. Our uniform shirts were 60 bucks, due to being so well made and tailored, supposedly. I actually made a killing off kids who would lose a button, bring their shirt to me to mend for 30 bucks, while writing home that they needed money to buy a new shirt.  Their parents would send the money and they’d pocket the remainder for sneaking out clubbing or some other dumb thing.  I charged twenty to make grilled cheese, 10 for peanut butter and anything and 10 for meat sandwiches.  I charged three to peel oranges.  Often I made 60 bucks a day from just peeling oranges throughout the day. On the other hand…I realized that if needed, I could survive on my own even then.  I had the life skills needed, and had work experience that would have allowed me to be fine, even if I wasn’t happy.  I could have had full time work as a mechanic with little problem.”

Elliot laughed.  “Did any of them ever realize how much you were overcharging them?”

Kurt smirked. “The few who did were so desperate that they paid anyway.  I am hoping most of them NOW realize it, due to the fact they are all supposedly adults living in adult worlds.  It sounded like most the boys up at the house were managing Ok.”

Elliot laughed. “I suppose so.  What are you going to do about things?”

“I’m going to enjoy the rest of the time here with the guys…and take you out on those dirt bikes with me tomorrow.  I am going to then go home and study and take my finals and finish presentations and whatnot next week.  I am going to call my dad and have him help get back half the money I spent for this week from Blaine…and the rent and other expenses Blaine is supposed to be helping with but really hasn’t.  It’s only been a month since Rachel moved out and he moved in, so the expenses aren’t unsurmountable if he doesn’t manage to get Blaine to pay up, but I’m going to try.  I am going to inform Blaine he has a month to be gone from the loft. I am going to have Chase come in with his buddy and help me create a separate space for someone else to live with me and find a roommate.  Not sure where I’m going from there…I’ll tell you after finals.”

Elliot reached over and grasped Kurt’s hand.  “I’ll keep you to it…and to your immediate plans.  Do you think you can make it through the next week?”

Kurt nodded. “As long as I focus on finals, yeah.”

“I can be done by next Friday, even with taking from now until Monday off.  So I can be around when you need backup when moving Blaine out or going to the school about his complaints if they happen.  Dani said she’d return next week if you need her.  She got a bit extra in a paycheck and they don’t compete until next weekend after Sunday…she could use it to fly home and be there for you after Sunday.”

“No.  I’ll be good. I would feel so guilty if she used that money to fly to New York just because my world can’t stay stable for any length of time.” Kurt said.

“Yes, well….we both still feel guilty for not being around when you got bashed earlier this year.” Elliot said.

“I am sorry you didn’t know about it until weeks after.  Rachel and Blaine suck at telling people anything…My dad wouldn’t even have known if the hospital hadn’t called him, and he was the one to call the school.  Both were asked about me, but both just said I ‘was indisposed’ and couldn’t make it to classes. They never even turned in the notes I made for them to take.  If I hadn’t needed to reassure myself I could still present my performance assignment, I have no doubts I wouldn’t have any misses excused because my dad wouldn’t have called and got the doctors to talk to the teachers.  I should have tossed Blaine’s sorry ass to the side then. I still wouldn’t have gotten to do my performance if I hadn’t gotten out of the hospital the day before the last day of performances and my dad hadn’t marched into the school and demanded to see the written policy on medical emergencies and then taken it straight to Madame T.  He gave her a lovely lecture on not holding me responsible for Blaine’s behavior, which she forgot she heard before he’d even headed back to Washington DC.”

“I am not joking, Kurt.  I want you to promise to go speak with the other deans and discuss Blaine and Rachel and Madame T’s response to them and you.  I swear you should transfer somewhere else.”

Kurt chuckled “I have thought about it. But…I got into NYADA and I don’t want to quit because of Rachel or Blaine. I don’t want to give either the satisfaction. And they would both be quick to rub it in and make sure everyone we ever met knew I had failed…I had quit.”

“Then get the help to make it through that school that you need.  This past semester has been ridiculous.”

“To be fair, the June issue is mostly my fault.  I caved to Blaine’s need to be the focus of all around him and it was my apology for making him feel badly about himself.”

“It wouldn’t have been an issue if the lady had any taste.  Blaine was outlandish and annoying the whole song…and it wasn’t even a good performance because he was not working as a group with anyone.  He over sang and over acted everything.  And before you say anything the whole performance was posted to blogs…so yes I saw it.  AND people there said the video didn’t even do justice to Blaine’s over done attitude. As to the apology bit, I still don’t see anything YOU needed to apologize for.  YOU didn’t make him eat all the fattening food he ate, YOU didn’t prevent him from exercising, I doubt YOU ever even told him no except for the time you were under doctor’s orders to not do anything too strenuous. ”

“I didn’t.  In fact he was always telling me NO, even before I was bashed.  You are right. What makes it worse is the choreography that I stuck with was Blaine’s idea and how we practiced it.  He didn’t want me to ‘be too loud’ in my actions or motions and he wanted everything ‘subtle’ and yet ‘a bit comical’.  I should have done what I wanted as soon as he started his own thing.  Or just taken off with my original song counter to him and left him story of our lives to sing on his own.”

“What did you have planned?” Elliot asked.

Outlaw of Love…or Let Me Entertain You.”

“I would have paid to see either.” Elliot said.

Kurt laughed. “I considered a full Glam For Your Entertainment, but I decided against that after Madame T nearly had a coronary when I came into school with nail polish still of after a spa afternoon with Isabella when I was recovering from the bashing.  They weren’t even too out there…just deep blood red glitter with a high gloss shine. For the head of a theater school, she is very conservative.  I think that is why the Apples had such a hard time…and some of the other kids.  Kids that are her stars are those students that are great but also completely ‘normal’…the ones who would be leads without anything about them standing out in any way that could be negative.  I heard the Dean of Tech yell at her once that NYADA was a school for the arts, the kids were supposed to feel free to be artsy.”

Elliot snorted. “I heard the other vocal teachers actually put out students who have higher hiring rates.”

“Master Franko does.  I finally looked those stats up.  Madame T has pushed out more ‘stars’ from her classes, but Master Franko teaches students who are hired consistently.  And has had a fair amount of stars come out of his classroom as well.  I am taking courses from him this summer and next fall. I haven’t looked into the other two yet.”

“You should take courses from those as well.  I seriously think that if given the option one should take courses from as many different teachers as one can. I mean, yes…classes from the head of the costume department at NYU were fantastic, but when I took construction techniques from Martin Mayers, who worked with the museum as well as working as one of the head costumers for NYU shows, I learned so much more.  Not because he was better, but because his focus wasn’t exactly the same and so he had a different perspective.”

“There was a class that was on writing music that I thought about taking…it dealt not only with creating original works but also transposing songs into different keys and mash-ups and legalities. I think I’ll fit that in next year somewhere. I did well enough in music theory to take it.”

“I think you be brilliant at it.” Elliot said. “We'll get you through this, Kurt.  I think you’ll find so many more doors opening up once we’ve got this door with Blaine nailed shut.  I think you’ll find so many people just waiting to pounce in and take up space in your life as so as they know they can…friends and lovers.”

Kurt squeezed Elliot’s hand. Images of Jeff and Nick and Conner and Jake and David flitted through his head.  They were chased by thoughts of Adam and his Apples, the guys from stage combat, and other in different classes who always were friendly but seem to hold back…and look around as if to see who was about.  Then Chase and Sal’s laughs passed through his mind. Kurt looked at Elliot’s smiling face and thought of what he had said about Dani…and about the others from the band.

 “I think you might just be right.  We should turn off the lantern and watch a movie before trying to get some sleep.  I have got to take you out on those dirt bikes.  I think you will love it.  I am so kicking myself for telling my dad I didn’t want one when I was little.”

“Your dad offered you a dirt bike? I thought you just meant lessons or something.” Elliot asked.

Kurt laughed.

“I was entering JR. High and didn’t want to give into what I saw as pressure to be ‘normal’ and ‘fit in’ and be just like all the other rude horrid boys I knew.  And as much as I had enjoyed riding a 4wheeler the summer before, I wasn’t absolutely gaga over it, so I didn’t figure a dirt bike would live up to the hype my Father was giving it.  I’m pretty certain he wanted me to race them.”

Elliot laughed as well. “Blow that candle out, then.”

Kurt’s breath caught before he turned and turned off the light.

Blow the candles out, looks like a solo tonight,” Kurt sang softly as he pulled open the laptop. “But I think I’ll be all right.”