Title: Kind Stranger
Summary: Alternative meeting for Kurt and Adam, in an alternative timeline where Kurt got the rock salt to his eyes as Sebastian intended and the surgery went badly.
Posted for Day Three of Kadam Week: AUs.
Adam recognized the slim, straight-backed young man who had performed at the Winter Showcase instantly. It should have been no surprise to see him here, but Adam had to admit that he was running out of faith in the Powers that Be the Admissions Committee. Kurt Hummel’s performance had been breathtaking. Truly painful, and wonderful. Something Adam would remember for the rest of his life. The next time he watched Company, he would measure it against the raw emotion and singing oneself out of the grave, which he’d seen in this young man’s face.
No, it wasn’t lack of skill that had caused Adam to doubt they’d let Kurt Hummel in. He’d had no doubt that Kurt should have been there in the fall, but perhaps there had been a delay that couldn’t be avoided.
Or perhaps Carmen Tibideaux had been hesitant to admit a blind student to a school of theatre and dance.
Kurt didn’t seem to be entirely blind, but he was struggling just a little bit as he moved through the crowded open areas, moving his cane in front of him to make sure he didn’t run into things. Perhaps because of the noise. He was listening, as much as he was looking around. Adam had nearly rushed to Kurt’s defense when he saw the swordplay brutes knock Kurt backward.
He seemed fine, though. Although a bit overwhelmed, and maybe a little annoyed. No one gave him room to move, or even noticed him much at all. It was like Kurt was invisible to them.
Adam had intended to wait a bit before introducing himself, but he couldn’t. He’d waited too long at the Showcase and missed his chance to talk to Kurt about his performance.
When he appeared by Kurt’s side, he began speaking, in a hurry, about how utterly breathtaking his performance at the Showcase had been, and how he’d hoped to meet him. Kurt’s large, clouded blue-green eyes blinked behind his glasses, and his lips curled upward on one side.
“Well. I’m very impressed that you were able to say all that in one breath.”
Adam grinned down at him. Kurt was wearing a blue hoodie, and looking up at him, narrowing his eyes... no, not confusion. He was trying to take in Adam’s face. Adam sat next to him, hoping to get a bit closer without being too creepy.
“Can I help you find anything?” he asked.
“That’s okay. The little blind boy will manage to find his classes, somehow,” Kurt said with a practiced levity.
“That’s not... Kurt, I’m not talking to you because of that. I’m talking to you because I heard you sing, and you are truly incredible,” Adam said earnestly. “I don’t know if I can impress upon you just... what I felt when you were singing. If you have the time, you might come spend some time with my friends and I.”
“In the southern auditorium. We get together, do our own arrangements. It’s a good deal of fun.” Adam pulled out his card and handed it to Kurt, then hesitated.
Kurt reached out his hand. “I can read.”
“Sorry, I didn’t... Not sure the way to ask whether you could see the words that wouldn’t be rude.”
“It’s not rude. Just be honest about it. It’s more annoying than helpful when people try to pretend there isn’t anything wrong with me.” His lips pinched to the side. “There’s so much more wrong than the eyes.”
“And yet you might be one of the most talented people here.”
Kurt rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I’m not. That’s would be my roommate, who won the Showcase.”
“Oh, right. I saw you two together. She’s...” Adam pressed his lips together trying to think of a positive thing to say. “Her voice... resonates.”
Kurt leaned forward and giggled. “It does, doesn’t it?”
“I have to say I fancied yours more, though.”
“I’ve been working hard on it. When I didn’t get in the first time, I thought that I just... wasn’t good enough. I mean, not that it was easy to perform with bandages all over my face, like the Phantom of the Opera.”
“W-was your piece from Phantom?” Adam asked. It wasn’t what he wanted to ask.
Bandages all over my face. The words echoed in his mind.
“No. I performed Pink’s “Perfect.” I was afraid to do a piece I hadn’t practiced a lot. It’s not the piece I wanted to do...”
“I don’t think the Madam is a fan of pop anthems.” Kurt propped his thick glasses glasses on the top of his hair and rubbed his eyes. Then he looked at Adam with a challenging crease in his brow.
“Ask, what...?” But half a heartbeat later, Adam knew what. “What happened to you? You mentioned bandages. Did you injure yourself before the audition?”
“This guy who had been skeeving after my boyfriend... He threw a slushie full of rock salt in my face. I had surgery on my eyes, but it... It only worked so well. My vision didn’t come back the way they’d hoped. I’d just had a surgery before the audition, and I was... a little off balance. Maybe “Perfect” wasn’t the right song for NYADA, but...”
Kurt shook his head, then settled his glasses back on his nose and looked down.
Adam felt disquiet growing inside of him. “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
“Oh, it’s not hopeless. My doctors have said that it might get better. I mean, I might be able to do another kind of treatment, assuming I can ever afford it. And there are breakthroughs every day... It also might get worse. I’m just grateful to be here. I’ve already heard the dance teacher complaining about getting a blind student to work with.”
“Oh! Cas always complains. If you work hard, she’ll love you. If you give her attitude and act like you’re too good to relearn the basics, she’ll make your life hell.”
“Good tip. I could probably stand to straight up learn some basics. My ex was always the dancer, between the two of us. I can’t even blame low visual acuity,” he joked.
Adam licked his lips slowly. Ask, he told himself. “Same ex that was skeeving with Rock Salt guy?”
“Heh. Yeah. We were... not good after that. Though, it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t do it... So I had to forgive him. Eventually. We got back together for the summer, and then I came to New York, with the encouragement of him and my father and some teachers. Then I got busy with work. And he got busy back home with some random guy.”
Adam’s brows rose very slowly. “What a prize.”
Kurt laughed again. He looked toward Adam and lifted his hand slightly, but pulled back. He held the card very close to his face and slitted his eyes. “Adam?”
“Yes. That would be me.” Adam smiled bashfully. Of course he’d forgotten to tell Kurt his name.
“Would you mind playing interference for me on the way to the dance studio? My diva is off having naked time with her boyfriend, and I don’t really know my way around well enough to flail it out with so many people around.”
“I would love to. It’ll mean I get to hear your voice more.” Adam rose and offered Kurt a hand.
He realized a moment later that Kurt wasn’t looking up, and couldn’t see Adam’s hand out of the corner of his eye at all. Kurt pushed himself up and unfolded his walking cane. Adam hesitated once again. He wanted to take Kurt’s arm, but he also didn’t want to be patronizing in any way. He’d already dumped a metric ton of awkward on Kurt’s lap. His own level of ineptness with this was a little shocking to him.
Kurt was strong and amazing all on his own, with or without his injury. The determined brightness said something about how Kurt wanted to interact with the world, on his own terms. And it said something about his life before the assault.
Adam stepped a bit closer and offered his arm. “Would you like a proper escort, or should I just toss anyone who gets in our way?”
Kurt’s lips pressed together in a smile, and he took Adam’s arm.
“You’re the most legitimately friendly person I’ve met here.”
“You’re not the first to say that. The whole uni experience. It can be disorienting, at best. Let alone going into an elite arts school where half the students think they’re God’s gift to Broadway.”
“Little did they know, God saves all his gifts for Sydney.”
Adam chuckled. “I’m British, not Australian.”
“I didn’t assume. I just really like The Boy From Oz.”
“I’ve wanted to do “Not the Boy Next Door” for so long. I’ve even worked up an arrangement for my voice...”
“I’d love to hear it.”
Kurt nodded slowly as Adam guided him through the hallways, and looked around, occasionally reaching out to touch the walls.
“So. Tell me about yourself, kind stranger,” Kurt urged.
The sweet, flirty tone sent a chill up Adam’s back, and he knew he would be completely undone by this handsome young man.