Kurt sat in the empty lecture hall, anxious for the other students to walk in. He held his hand over his chest, directly over his heart and the name that had been on his mind every day since he was 15. The name that had appeared on a rainy morning, confirming that yes, he was definitely gay, and, more importantly, there was someone out there meant for only him. According to the series of small numbers below the name, indicating date and time of birth, Kurt was a year older than his soulmate, which could have turned out much worse. Some people were marked with a soulmate several years – or more – younger or older than them. Kurt shuddered every time he remembered reading about an 82 year old woman who found her 26 year old soulmate only to spend 3 months with her before passing away.
Kurt was now 22, starting his last year of college and a real, adult life in New York City. He was also starting to lose patience.
He had been so lonely for so long, growing up without many friends and with only his imagination to keep him company. The boys at school thought he was too girly because of his voice and his penchant for throwing elaborate tea parties. They teased him, mocked him, and ripped his glittery drawings. He never wanted to be friends with them, anyway, or so he told himself every day they refused to play with him. The girls didn’t mind him much, but most of their parents weren’t too keen on the idea of a boy joining in on their slumber parties. They generally ignored him, sparing him the occasional sympathetic glance when the boys would start to taunt him.
Kurt had his family, but even that was broken when his mother died. Over time, his father became his best friend. In the aftermath of tragedy, they grew to be extremely close, and Kurt was thankful for that. Burt Hummel wasn’t someone who would typically spend his evenings at the theatre, but he still took Kurt to shows. Burt helped him learn to use a sewing machine - technically, they learned together, but Kurt appreciated it nonetheless, and Burt was always there for him, no matter what. When he got his mark, Kurt hid it for just over a month, afraid that the bond between him and his father would weaken or break because his soulmate was a boy. Like with everything else, Burt remained supportive and nonjudgmental, and Kurt realized how lucky he really was.
Despite their closeness, Kurt always felt that there was something missing in his life. His relationship with his father was not the same as a connection with someone that he could relate to on a deeper level. Kurt wanted someone who could truly understand him and what he was going through during his school years.
Those were some of the worst years of his life. There were birthday parties with no friends to play with and the Friday night dinners for two, but it was through those experiences that Kurt learned a great deal about resiliency. Every time someone yelled “fag”, “lady boy”, or some other cutting remark, Kurt continued to march with his head held high, telling himself that it wouldn’t last forever and keeping his misery to himself. His father had enough to worry about already, and Kurt didn’t want to burden him with such juvenile problems. They didn’t have much in common, but they took care of each other in all the ways that mattered for a young boy and a single parent and, back then, it was enough.
When Kurt’s soulmate’s name appeared - Blaine Anderson - in loopy script, on the middle of his chest and slightly to the left, Kurt finally felt a small sense of belonging. He was a part of a world where a connection with another person was real, designed by fate, and a source of hope and comfort. Even when he was looking up at the sky from the inside of a dumpster, he could hold his hand over the name and know that someday, things would start to get better.
As he went through high school, Kurt didn’t lose that hope. He made some friends, real friends that accepted him and didn’t care that he sometimes wore kilts and women’s sweaters or that his voice was able to hit notes the girls were jealous of. Kurt even watched from the background as a couple of his friends found their soulmates, cheering for them while seething with envy. Tina and Mike had known even before they woke up to each other’s names embedded into their skin. Kurt wanted to feel that same companionship, that deep, passionate love, but he was young, and it was Lima, Ohio.
While Kurt had generally remained optimistic for years, he struggled with some unavoidable moments of doubt. There was a constant, nagging fear that he would wake up one day and instead of a name, his chest would display a jagged black mark, indicating that his soulmate was no longer living, or worse, in love with someone else. The latter was extremely rare and just the idea of someone falling in love with a person who was not their designated soulmate was enough to make most people cringe. Rare, but possible, and Kurt woke up sweating and panicked more times than he’d liked, nightmares replaying behind his eyes of his soulmate - faceless, always faceless - happy and in love with another faceless stranger, laughing at him as if it was ridiculous that Kurt thought he would ever be enough.
Kurt’s worries revealed themselves further throughout high school. The overall experience wasn’t horrible, but the bullying he faced was. Some days were better than others, but when it was bad, Kurt had to fight the urge to give up completely. He felt vulnerable, trapped, and afraid, despite the show he put on for his father and friends. They always saw put-together-and-fabulous Kurt Hummel, the boy who didn’t care what people thought. It was rare for him to show his true self to anyone and he avoided opening himself up like he avoided touching railings and mixing bold prints.
There was one particularly awful day that Kurt would never forget. He had run out of spare clothes after three separate slushie attacks, had been slammed into the lockers between every period, and was unexpectedly and unwelcomely kissed by the boy that always pushed him the hardest. It was days like these that would cause Kurt to shut down, laying curled up on his bed, tears falling rapidly and fingers trying to grab onto the letters on his chest, praying to a god that he didn’t believe in for his soulmate, his Blaine, to come rescue him. He imagined someone holding him and telling him that everything would work out and that he would be truly happy someday. He would draw his blankets up around himself, pretending that it was Blaine’s body wrapped around him instead of fluffy cotton, and if he thought about it hard enough, the rolls of fabric became strong, protective arms.
As soon as he graduated, Kurt moved to New York City, just as he had been planning on doing for years. He was accepted to Parsons’ Bachelor of Fine Arts program for Fashion Design, which was not his first choice, but he was always passionate about fashion and he trained himself to think that, realistically, he would have a better future as a designer than a performer. So, he pushed aside his silly dream of seeing his name in lights across Times Square and put all his focus into designing clothes.
Kurt’s first three years of college passed by quickly. He stood along the sidelines as his friends found their soulmates, and all he found was an increasing feeling of impending doom. It was at that point that he started to get antsy.
Burt kept telling him to be patient, but Kurt was admittedly stubborn and wasn’t afraid to point out that his father, who found his soulmate at sixteen, couldn’t possibly understand. Over time, the topic of their weekly phone calls was less everyday chit-chat, and more of Burt trying to talk Kurt down from the proverbial ledge.
”I’m going to end up alone – maybe I’ll have a dozen cats – and I am going to knit doilies and be sad and pathetic forever. What if he lives in some remote village in the Amazon, or is doing research in Antarctica?” Kurt rambled on, his father chuckling quietly, “These are very real possibilities, and I don’t think this situation is something to laugh at.”
Kurt could hear Burt’s sigh on the other end of the line.
“Look, kid. I don’t even know how many times I’ve had to tell you this, but you need to relax.” Burt waited for Kurt to throw out some sort of retort, but when none came, he continued. “This soulmate stuff is easy. Imagine if you had to wonder if you would meet someone special. There are no if’s here, buddy. It’s just a matter of when.”
His father was right, as usual, but that didn’t make the waiting any more bearable. It would have been nice to at least get some validation, but his father wasn’t one to humor him when it was about something serious. Of course, that didn’t stop Kurt from looking for signs of Blaine Anderson everywhere he went. He didn’t want to spend his whole life waiting to meet the man he was supposed to spend that life with.
The first day of each new semester was Kurt’s favorite. Outside of the classes he needed for his major, Kurt made sure to sign up for at least one elective every semester. Others called him an overachiever and a model student. What they didn’t know was that Kurt was particularly good at hiding his motivations, and they were far from academic. On the first day of each new class, he would tune out everything but the voice of his instructor calling out the names of his fellow students, hoping that Blaine Anderson was one of them.
Kurt chewed on the nail of his thumb as the instructor entered the room and pulled out papers. It took him much too long to introduce himself and describe the course, but then, finally, he pulled out the class roster. Kurt held his breath and waited.
And like every other time, he was disappointed.