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Glass Houses

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"So, are you going to try for that solo today?" Mercedes asked, leaning against the locker bank while her best friend Kurt shuffled through his books.

Kurt sighed bitterly, "What's the point? We all know Mr Schue will give it to Rachel. 'You can just feel how much she lives in the song, Kurt! Surely you see why we need that kind of singing for Regionals!'"Kurt mimicked the enthusiasm of their glee club teacher bitterly, his eyes icily cold. He loved Rachel, he really did, but he also loved singing and what was worse was that he knew he was good. Really, really good. And to have something as uncontrollable as his biological make-up prevent him from having his chance…

Well, he was just sick of it all.

"Sometime I wonder why I even bother…" Kurt murmured, half to himself, "I mean, we both know that the only reason they keep me now that we're up to the required numbers is because my voice makes for good backing. They'll never let someone like me take the spotlight."

Mercedes sighed, her eyes soft but not quite able to understand. After all, she would never have the same problem. None of the glee club kids would. Kurt was alone. One in a million, and not in a good way.

Silence reigned between them, during which time Mercedes enjoyed the protection of standing next to her best friend. Slushie-bearing jocks, sharp-tongued cheerleaders, all the kinds of people who normally goaded and bullied the glee club on a regular basis gave them a wide berth. It was as if there was an invisible ring around Kurt, and no one wanted to step over its boundaries. It had always been like this; had been ever since they were kids. On the one hand, it afforded Kurt a level of protection that none of the others enjoyed. Without even trying, he conjured a degree of fear in others that could not be quashed, however much some of the other students might think of themselves.

On the other hand… it was horrible. Those who were able to overcome their fear of Kurt soon fell back on pity. It was unclear which reaction he hated more. Even Mercedes sometimes felt a bit… off around her best friend. It was almost impossible not to. And, like everyone else, she refrained from ever touching him. He understood why she couldn't, why none of his friends could face the idea of touching his skin, but still…

Aside from fleeting glances from the braver of souls, Kurt only ever enjoyed regular contact from his dad, who made a point to hug him at least twice a day. And he remembered his mom's hugs too, soft and warm, loving. He missed those hugs, and their absence only made him appreciate the ones from his dad all the more. More recently, his new step-mom Carole had been clearly trying to make an effort. Not hugs, but little touches here and there that made all the difference.

Nevertheless, it had reached the point where Kurt had realistically submitted himself to a rather lonely future, because what kind of boy would want to be with a freak like him? Lack of touch from friends he could accept, it had even become the norm for him, but there was still that nagging hot want for there to be someone out there for Kurt, someone who wouldn't care…

It wasn't unheard of, for people like him to find someone who would love them, but add in the fact he was gay… he had just given up… It was depressing, but there you go. Kurt was a rarity, a minority in every aspect of his life. Registering at a mere 0.5 on the Hawkins Scale of Empathic Sensitivity, Kurt could neither sense the emotions of other people, nor have his emotions felt by others. He was like a black hole, a horrible blank space on the scope of every other person's sense of reality.

But that didn't mean he was emotionless! It didn't mean he was incapable of feeling, or incapable of feeling empathy for the plights of others! He just… he just had to do it the hard way. If anything, he often thought that he felt more emotion than anybody else, all bottled up with nobody to share it with…

Lonely. Unique. Removed. Special.

You could dress it up however starkly or prettily as you liked, the fact still remained that Kurt was not normal, and he was reminded of it every day.

"Wow, check out the new kid." Mercedes hummed appreciatively, nodding in a direction behind Kurt and pulling their conversation away from Kurt's despondency.

He turned, and Mercedes was definitely not wrong. The newcomer was gorgeous. The best way to describe his overall impression was neat. He was small, but in a way that worked, his preppy-style clothes flattering on his compact frame, and his black hair gelled down within an inch of its life. His tan-coloured skin was flawless, a fact Kurt could readily appreciate, and as he walked closer to them, Kurt couldn't help his heart was swooping slightly at the adorable little frown that crinkled the boy's brow as he scanned for locker numbers and-

Yep. Mercedes was way too in tune with what kind of boys Kurt was attracted to.

But then, something rather unprecedented happened. Something that made many students surreptitiously stop and pretend they weren't watching, something that made Mercedes' eyes widen and Kurt just… Well to be frank he just gaped openly in such a way that made him cringe when he replayed it back later in his head.

The boy walked right up to them, offered a shy smile, and turned to Kurt as if he was as normal as every other student in the school, "Umm, hi. Do you… could I, I mean, do you mind if I could just get to my locker? I think it's this one next to yours if I've counted right…" The boy seemed nervous, but not repulsed or even curious as he stared at Kurt for a response, his expressive honey-coloured eyes open and searching.

Kurt blinked, once, twice, and then finally kicked himself into action, slamming the door of his locker with more force than he meant to, shaking his head slightly, "Right, sorry, sorry, sure, here you go."

The shorter boy mumbled a thanks with a half smile, his head ducking to his bag as he fumbled for books, his hands carefully remaining stuffed up his strangely too-long sleeves. Kurt exchanged a pleading look with Mercedes, who just rolled her eyes at him and jerked her head pointedly in the newcomer's direction.

Kurt still had no idea what possessed him, but suddenly he was opening his mouth and – "My name's Kurt, and this is Mercedes – we're both juniors here. Is this your first day?"

The boy jerked his head up, startled, eyes wide. For a moment, Kurt was certain that the boy was going to turn tail and run, but then, "I'm Blaine, sophomore. And yeah… I'm a little lost. It took me twenty minutes just to find my locker..." A shy, self-deprecating grin warmed the boy's – Blaine's – face for a fleeting moment, but then it was gone again, his eyes flicking downwards.

"Oh, did your parents move to Lima?" Mercedes piped up, stepping around Kurt. It was a logical question. McKinley wasn't really a school to get mid-semester transfers, especially in March.

Blaine nodded, and even Kurt could tell that he was deeply uncomfortable with the question. Mercedes' sudden frown only served to prove his observation. Any further line of questioning was cut off by the bell, and before Kurt could say another word, the new boy had already scurried away.

Mercedes shook her head, "Damn… hot, shy, and mysterious. I bet he's gay too!"

Kurt rolled his eyes, "Oh shut up." They headed to World History together, and Kurt really didn't intend to keep thinking about the encounter…

Except…

He just couldn't stop. And it wasn't just his inability to get the mysterious, quiet boy off his mind either. Suddenly, he was looking for him everywhere. By the end of Blaine's first week, Kurt had already observed and noted a few choice pieces of information. The most noticeable was how elusive Blaine was, while the second was how little Kurt had seen the boy smile. This especially just seemed wrong to Kurt, who was having serious trouble putting that beautiful tiny smile Blaine had offered him on the day they had met out of his head.

Blaine had also managed to garner himself a bit of reputation, as attractive, quiet new kids are wont to do. Especially ones who succeed in maintaining an air of mysteriousness in a world full of empaths. According to Tina, his emotions were nearly impossible to read, because they just seemed to be a reflection of the person next to him. The McKinley rumour mill was rife with theories, most of which Kurt discounted out of hand, but he did now know that Blaine was dropped off and picked up every day by a seriously hot older man – Tina had been practically salivating when she had recounted the tale.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Blaine – although to be honest, as Mercedes enjoyed pointing out, Kurt was hard pressed to find an aspect of Blaine he didn't find interesting – was how he started to appear at glee rehearsals. Not the ones in the choir room, but when they practiced in the auditorium, Blaine was nearly always there sitting near the back, watching them, often doing homework at the same time. More than once Rachel had tried approaching him, but each time he had run away before she could get close.

And so, for over a week, Kurt was contented to enjoy the mystery that was Blaine Anderson – he had discovered the boy's surname from Sam, who shared some of his classes. Until the Wednesday that changed everything.

Kurt had, overall, had a pretty crappy day. Almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and to round it all off, his genius of a step-brother had forgotten they had carpooled that morning, and driven away while Kurt was finishing up in the library.

He turned the corner into the corridor that would take him to his locker, planning on dropping off a few things so he wouldn't have to carry them all the way home. He was just in time to see Rick, one of the idiot puckheads, shove Blaine into the lockers, books scattering everywhere as the smaller boy fell to the floor.

Kurt was incensed, "Hey! What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Immediately, Rick's grin dropped and he raised his hands in a fake casualness, "Nothing to bother yourself with, Hummel. Anderson here just tripped." He took a strategic step backwards as Kurt stormed up to them. Not because Kurt could inflict any serious damage on the much larger boy, but because the bully was terrified of the idea of touching Kurt's skin, of feeling the emptiness that was rumoured to cling to his body, and becoming infected by it.

Ridiculous, of course. Sensitives were born, not created, and while many people's level of sensitivity was known to decrease into adulthood – usually dropping from a 3 to a 2 on the Hawkins Scale – the idea that Kurt could infect anybody was absurd. Nevertheless, this ignorance had at times served Kurt well, and this was definitely one of those times. Kurt glared, "Don't you have somewhere to be?"

Rick huffed, like an insulted rhino, "Whatever." He scowled, before directing a smirk down towards Blaine, who flinched. "Catch you later Anderson!"

As soon as he was gone, Blaine started moving. He was noticeable shaking, his hands slipping from their usual safety of his long sleeves to frantically try and gather what he had dropped. Kurt crouched, "Hey, Blaine, it's alright, he's gone. Are you okay?"

Blaine didn't reply, hands fumbling. Kurt sighed, and attempted to help instead. He wasn't even sure if Blaine registered that he was there, he seemed so panicky. That happened sometimes – people thought they were alone and got the shock of their lives when they turned to find Kurt barely a foot from them, as impossible to sense as ever.

Then it happened.

Their hands brushed as both went to pick up the same scattered sheaf of paper, skin gently connecting for but a brief second. Kurt jerked back immediately as if he had been burned, an apology ready on his lips. It made no difference to him, but from the varied reactions he had received over the years, he knew that his touch wasn't pleasant to those with higher levels of empathic sensitivity.

His apology died on his lips when his eyes met Blaine's.

Blaine had stopped, completely, his hand still hovering over the papers. His eyes were wide, mouth hanging slightly open as he stared at Kurt with unbridled shock and… wonder? Kurt was frozen, not having encountered this reaction before and really not knowing what to do. And then he watched as Blaine began to move, raising his hand ever so slowly, tentatively, until their fingertips brushed.

Kurt's breath stuttered when Blaine didn't immediately pull away. Instead he watched in fascination as Blaine's fingers began to explore with a feather light touch, taking note of each finger, over his knuckles, his palm, along the back of his hand…

Kurt swallowed, unsure, "Are… are you okay?"

With his words, Blaine seemed to snap back to reality, and the curious fingertips disappeared in an instant. Kurt found himself immediately missing their warmth, "S-sorry…" Blaine's face was flushed bright red, as if he had only just realised what he had been doing. He scrambled about, gathering the last of his possessions, stuffing them without care into his bag and locker as he stood.

Kurt rose with him, limbs feeling oddly awkward and useless, "I… I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"

Blaine nodded jerkily, "Right, tomorrow, yeah. I… Thanks, Kurt. For stopping that guy."

Kurt smiled, "Don't worry about-"

"Can I hug you?" Blaine blurted out suddenly, his words spilling out almost too fast to understand as he cut across Kurt's reply. His fingers entwined worriedly in front of him, and, if possible, his face flushed to an even darker shade of red.

Kurt was almost certain he was in shock. He was sure his eyes were as wide as they could physically go, and he knew he was gaping as he stumbled for words, "I… you… well, I guess, if you want to- oof!"

As soon as Kurt's consent had passed his lips, he found himself with an armful of Blaine. The hug was only fleeting, but it was tight and warm, and when Blaine stepped back, beet-red, he had the biggest, most stunning smile on his face that made the shock all worth it, "Thank you again, Kurt… See you tomorrow."

Kurt just nodded dumbly as Blaine dashed off down the corridor.

What the hell had just happened?

TBC

Chapter Text

When Kurt walked to his locker the next morning, yawning his head off after a sleepless night going over and over in his head the events of the previous afternoon, he was surprised to see the focal point of his whirling thoughts already standing waiting for him. He smiled tentatively, warily scanning Blaine's posture and body language for clues. He hadn't wished so hard to be able to sense other people's emotions in years…

Blaine stood straight when he saw Kurt, his expression nervous as he clutched in his hands two takeaway cups of coffee from the Lima Bean. He held one out to Kurt, and immediately started babbling so fast that Kurt had to concentrate to keep up. "Hi! Morning, hi. So, I didn't know your coffee order but I asked Cooper and he reckoned stick simple so I let him pick so I'm sorry if it's not what you like and god, you probably don't even like coffee do you? I'm such an idiot! But I don't have your number or anything so I couldn't ask you and you can just throw it away or whatever and I'm being creepy now aren't I and you probably want to ask for a locker transfer or something and I can do that if you want, but I don't know if they even let you do that and-"

"Blaine stop!" Kurt laughed, raising his voice to try and stem the stream of words. He laughed as Blaine's mouth immediately snapped shut, that beautiful blush staining his cheeks. Kurt smiled kindly, taking the offered cup, carefully avoiding brushing their fingers just in case the events of yesterday were a mistaken fluke. "For the record, I love coffee, and my order is a non-fat mocha. But may I enquire as to the occasion?"

Blaine worried his lips between his teeth, fidgeting with his own cup, "I wanted to apologise for yesterday, how I behaved…" Here we go, Kurt thought. A parting cup of coffee and a 'sorry I didn't realise you were so freaky please never touch me again'. But then Blaine continued, "It's just… I'm kinda an impulsive person and sometimes when that's combined with my really misguided ideas I end up over-stepping and freaking people out… and I don't want to freak you out because I've been trying to work out how to talk to you since I got here and persuade you that I'm not weird…"

Kurt stared at him, disbelieving. If it was anyone else, he would suspect them of some sort of cruel joke, but instinct told him that just wasn't Blaine's style, "You want to persuade me that you're not weird?" Kurt asked incredulously.

"Well… yeah…"

For a moment, Kurt was prepared to go on the defensive, to snipe about how everyone else acted around him and why would Blaine want to be near him let alone touch him? But the gorgeously tentative, hopeful smile on the other boy's face stopped him short, and he found himself smiling shyly in return, "Coffee is always appreciated, but you didn't need to apologise. I… I like hugs. And… and if you want to get to know each other, I think I'd really like that too."

Blaine's face split into a blinding smile, and Kurt could never regret his words. He took a sip of his still-warm coffee, and nearly choked. Blaine looked startled, "Are you okay?"

"Oh my god Blaine, I don't mean to sound ungrateful or anything but how much sugar did you put in this?!" Kurt spluttered.

Blaine frowned, popping off the lid of his own cup before taking a cautious sip from the rim. He made a face, "I'm so sorry! Coop must've mixed up the cups when he handed them to me. This one's yours."

They switched, and Kurt sipped his new one. So much better. He eyed Blaine in amusement as the other boy somehow managed to take a sizable gulp of the sugar-laden coffee, "How can you drink that? I shudder to think the combined caffeine and sugar high you'll get off that later."

Blaine shrugged, "You get used to it. I don't usually make mine quite this sweet, but if Cooper buys me one he always adds as much sugar as he can get his hands on." Blaine smiled with a fond yet rather long-suffering smile, and Kurt had to ask.

"So, Cooper is..?"

"My big brother. He normally lives in New York, but he's in between plays and so's been staying with us for a while. He's a little… overprotective. He's insisted on driving me to and from school since I started here, hence him being involved in the coffee stop." Blaine's put-upon tone was completely counteracted by the way he smiled when talking about his brother. He clearly secretly enjoyed Cooper's company. At least that explained the man Tina had been drooling over.

They started walking slowly in the direction of their different homerooms before the first bell, "My step-brother's an idiot at the best of times, but I'm really starting to enjoy having him around now they've moved in. You probably saw him when you were spying on our glee rehearsals. Finn – huge guy, can't dance to save his life?"

Blaine grinned, "Yeah, I remember him. And I don't spy! I just sort of… sit in and watch at the back… I like the singing. You've got an amazing voice."

"Yeah, well we do try." Kurt shrugged, "We're going to Regionals in a couple of weeks!"

Blaine grinned. "I'm not contesting that as a group you sound amazing, but I said you've got an amazing voice!" He seemed to realise how forward he had just sounded, and suddenly babbly, shy Blaine was back, "Sorry. I'm starting to really seem like a stalker, aren't I?"

Kurt laughed, blushing, "I really don't mind. And… thank you. No one's said I sound amazing before."

"Well you do." Blaine said decisively, as if that was the end of the matter.

Kurt took a sip of his coffee, not quite knowing how to handle a beautiful boy walking an inch from his elbow and freely offering him compliments. He did know that he loved the warm feeling coiling in his stomach, and the electric prickling over his skin. He was already falling hard. "This is me." Kurt stopped at the entrance to a classroom. Blaine seemed to fidget, as if unsure what to do, so Kurt once again took a chance, "You want to meet up for lunch?"

Blaine stuttered, worrying his lip between his teeth, "Umm… I don't really like the cafeteria…" He looked embarrassed for some reason. Personally, Kurt could completely understand a person having an aversion to that disgusting zoo of a room.

"That's okay. A few of my glee friends said they were going to hang out in one of the dance rooms for lunch, if you want to join?"

Blaine grinned, clearly relieved, "That'd be great!" He checked his watch. The first bell was sure to ring soon, and he still had to find his way to his own registration, "I should go. See you at lunch then?"

"Definitely. Oh, wait!" Blaine spun on his heel looking back at Kurt expectantly, "Give me your phone?" Obediently, Blaine handed his phone over, and Kurt quickly entered his number before giving it back, "Now you can text me all you like."

Blaine grinned, quickly firing off a simple smiley face to Kurt's number, "And so can you."

It wasn't until Kurt slumped down at his desk in between an infuriatingly grinning Mercedes and Rachel that he experienced a form of delayed shock. He had just given another boy his number, as casual and confident as anything. A boy who had bought him coffee. Who was drop-dead gorgeous and mysterious and shy and cute and just… Who had hugged him. Oh. My. God.

Rachel made an odd sniffing, squealing noise that was hard to define as acting or just Rachel being Rachel, "Kurt Hummel, I am so proud of you right now!"

"Damn. You have got to get on that Kurt! You two would make such a hot couple!" Mercedes smirked. "You don't need to be Sensitive to see that he is so into you!"

Kurt just offered them a shocked silent smile.

Oh. My. God.

TBC

Chapter Text

There was something entirely surreal about his growing friendship with Blaine. It was so wonderfully new and exciting and perfect that Kurt still half expected to wake up from his dream. Blaine was… Blaine was sunshine. He was smiles and laughs and small little touches and tight warm hugs reserved just for Kurt. Once Kurt had managed to break past Blaine's shyness, he had discovered an incredible boy who was rapidly becoming his best friend.

Of course, that still didn't remove the mystery. Blaine might be all smiles and hugs for Kurt, but he was painfully shy and reserved around all the other students. Even Kurt's Glee friends. Yes, Kurt would admit they could be overwhelming at the best of times, but he had tried properly introducing them to Blaine in small doses. It had helped a little, and Blaine was starting to join in with their conversations and jokes during lunch, and in classes that he shared with the others. Still, when Kurt had mentioned it to Mercedes, she had just shrugged it off. Blaine was the new kid after all, of course he was going to be shy, and his empathic read seemed to be pretty content whenever she was near him so stop fussing already and start flirting.

Kurt hated it when people did that to him. When they brushed off his concerns about the people he cared about because he was imagining it. Because of course you don't really understand sweetheart, you're not Sensitive.

So what? He was just supposed to switch off, turn into a brick wall? Not give a damn about anyone? Not even try to wade through the muddy waters of human emotions because his genetics didn't make him a freaking radio transmitter and receiver?

An arm slotted into the crook of Kurt's elbow, and he jumped slightly as Blaine materialised next to him on the piano bench, "Hey. Whatcha guys rehearsing?"

Blaine had finally started coming to lunchtime glee practice in the choir room. He still refused to join, but Rachel had decided she didn't mind seeing as a new member so close to Regionals would mess up the dynamics. She would work on him to join once they got through to Nationals.

"We're not." Kurt smirked wryly. "We're waiting for Santana and Rachel to stop pretending to rehearse and just kill each other."

"Oh." Blaine tilted his head slightly to the side, amber eyes flicking over the rapidly deteriorating scene before them. "Keeping a safe distance then?"

"What do you take me for?" Kurt grinned, while at the same time trying to quell his dancing insides as he tried to ignore Blaine's casually hooked arm. He was becoming keenly aware that having a friendship with Blaine was a very tactile affair. The boy seemed to crave touch; bumping shoulders, casual grazes of fingers, and of course, hugs. For someone so used to having a very strict bubble of personal space, Kurt was finding the whole experience equal parts disturbing and incredibly wonderful.

But there was still one, massive problem. Kurt had no idea if Blaine was gay. He was almost certain that he was… Kurt didn't think his gaydar was too bad, but then how else did you explain his previous crushes on Sam or (horror) Finn? He just… he was absolutely terrified of ruining his friendship with Blaine. Because to ask 'hey, so, are you gay?' at this point would be equal to putting up a neon sign above his head saying I LIKE YOU.

He couldn't even ask his friends for clues. Most of them were only able to properly read emotions – as opposed to simply sensing passing feelings being opening projected – through active touch. Those who could read without touch, like Tina and Sam, still needed the emotions to be strong and active at the time. From what Kurt learned in HEE (Health and Empathic Education, a class Kurt still had to attend, much to his disgust), sensing emotions wasn't a simple case of 'happy', 'sad', 'angry'. There were levels, degrees and nuances and strengths and to be honest, Kurt just usually switched off when it got to that part of the class because he was already too confused. Nevertheless, it meant that in essence, the best person to tell if Blaine liked him was Kurt himself, and that wasn't happening any time soon.

"So what're you doing after school?" Blaine asked, his voice just a tad too casual.

Kurt shrugged, "It's Thursday, so like every other day of this damned week, I'm going to try and do my homework without throttling Finn and Rachel." He really loved the concept of having two new people join his family, and Carole made his dad so happy, but god he needed space sometimes. Finn's newly rekindling romance with Rachel meant that she was round their house all the time! To be honest, it was driving Kurt up the wall, a fact he had been rather vocal about all week to Blaine.

"That's what I thought." Blaine nodded, before falling silent again, hand twitching slightly where it rested against Kurt's arm.

Kurt waited for Blaine to continue, but when that looked like a lost cause, he prompted, "Any reason you ask?"

"I… Do you… I mean, you don't have to, if you don't want to…" Blaine was stumbling over his words again, as he often did when he seemed to think that his friendship with Kurt was an imposition on the older boy rather than a joy, "You could come round mine after school, if you like? My parents are working, so it'd just be us and Cooper, and he won't bug us too much if I ask him not to. I mean, it'd be quiet if you wanted to do homework…"

Kurt's grin spread wide across his face, "Or we could watch trash tv, listen to music, hang out and have completely non-school-related fun?"

Blaine's grin matched his own, "Precisely!"

00000

Kurt allowed himself to be led across the parking lot to where Blaine's ride was waiting, a tall man leaning casually against the side of the car. His stomach was in knots. Not only was he going round Blaine's house for the first time, he was also going to have to spend an entire car journey with his – drop dead gorgeous – older brother. Something was going to go horribly wrong.

It was probably going to start from the moment Cooper realised he couldn't sense anything from Kurt.

Blaine seemed oblivious to Kurt's inner turmoil. He bounded up to his brother, who grinned widely and raised one arm to give Blaine a brief but tight hug; clearly Blaine's love of touch was a family trait. "Hey Coop!"

"How's it going, squirt?" Blaine made a face at Cooper's nickname for him. From the older man's smirk, Kurt was almost certain that he had said it to embarrass Blaine in front of a new friend. "And you must be Kurt, right? Blaine doesn't shut up about you."

"Cooper!" Blaine yelped.

Kurt couldn't help but grin. He wondered if he and Finn would ever reach that level of easy teasing. "The one and only Kurt Hummel. That's me."

Kurt's false confidence fell flat on its face when Cooper offered him his hand to shake, "Cooper Anderson, actor, New Yorker, best looking guy to come out of Ohio bar none, and big brother to this pain in the ass."

Kurt faltered, not sure what to do. The result was him half offering his hand in return, leaving it hovering awkwardly in midair between them. Cooper's blue eyes seemed to fix on him for a second, all lightness gone, as if he was assessing Kurt. But his grin never faltered, and he moved his hand the last few inches to grasp Kurt's firmly. If the touch of Kurt's skin unsettled or disturbed him, he made no indication. What was it with these Andersons?

"Alright kids, let's get this show on the road!"

Blaine rolled his eyes, "He thinks he's hilarious."

Cooper, it turned out, was hilarious – although often in an unintentional way. He was considerably older than Blaine, already with his own life, fulfilling his own dreams. Still, Kurt noticed how he skirted the reasons behind why he was back in Ohio when his career was just taking off.

Any further thoughts on that subject, however, were completely cut off when he saw the Anderson residence. It was… well Kurt could now state with absolutely certainty that Blaine and Cooper's parents had money, put it that way.

"Alright, so I'll be in Dad's study if you need anything. Blaine, feed your guest snacks like a good host, and bring me some too or I'll have to emerge to get them myself, and that is way too much effort." Copper reeled off as he let them in the house, dumping his keys on the side, "Hey, you did check Kurt wasn't allergic to dogfood, right?"

Kurt blinked. Was that a joke? Blaine wasn't laughing; an expression that was an odd mix of exasperation and concern warred on his face. The exasperation was probably directed at his brother. "Ah, no, I forgot… "

Kurt just stared at the pair of them, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "I'm sorry I think I'm missing something…"

Before either brother could speak, a massive ball of silver-grey fluff bounded gracefully down the stairs, only to be scooped up by Blaine on the bottom step. In his arms was a gorgeous cat, tail flicking slightly as it regarded the stranger with piercing blue eyes. "Kurt, this is Molly, my cat-"

"Also known as dogfood, demon spawn from hell." Cooper interjected.

Blaine sighed, "You know if you didn't call her that, maybe she'd be less grouchy. You're not allergic, are you? I'm sorry I didn't ask. She's kinda got a lot of fur so the house is usually covered…"

Kurt smiled, "No I'm not. She's beautiful."

"Wait until she sheds on your favourite pair of pants." Cooper muttered. Blaine scowled, and in a rather unnerving mirror of her owner, Molly's ears flattened as she hissed loudly at the older Anderson. There was something about the cat that Kurt found rather disconcerting in the way she settled herself in Blaine's arms. Cooper rolled his eyes. "Well I know when I'm not wanted. I'll just leave you two alone to watch tv or gossip about hot boys or whatever… what?"

Blaine's face was bright red, half buried in Molly's fur, "Oh my god Cooper please leave."

Cooper frowned, and then his eyes flicked between the two of them as realisation dawned. For a fleeting moment, Kurt thought he might actually be embarrassed, but the man just cracked a smile, turning heel and disappearing with a smug, "Have fun, baby bro!"

Kurt's face was equally red, but his insides were squirming happily, "So… umm…"

Blaine just shook his head in mortified wonderment, "I can't believe my brother just casually outted me like that. I mean, not that I was in the closet in the first place but it's not really something you just drop into conversation you know? And I didn't want to assume you…"

Kurt smiled then, shyly but oh so happily. "Uh, yeah. Gay. Did he think we..?"

"Probably." Awkward silence prevailed, until, "So did you want to go up to my room? Oh! Oh my god I did not mean that to come out like that!"

It broke the strange tension, and Kurt was laughing. His laugh startled Molly, who had clearly decided she had been in Blaine's arms for long enough, and wriggled to the floor. "Mr Anderson, I don't think that's appropriate."

Blaine groaned, and started leading his way up the stairs, "He does it on purpose, I swear."

Kurt followed Blaine, thinking. "It's good though, right? That he's so accepting of you being gay that he'll come out with stuff like that."

They reached the top of the stairs, and Blaine turned, his eyes searching, "Is your family…?"

"Oh, no! My dad's… well he's been amazing. I was terrified of telling him, but when I did, he made it so easy. Said he'd always known. And Finn's come such a long way since our parents started dating that he's like a different person. But I know how lucky I am… especially in Ohio. You hear stories…"

As they entered Blaine's bedroom, Kurt watched as the other boy's mouth twisted, his voice bitter. "Yeah. Acceptance for all. Open you heart and your senses to equality and love… As if putting enough PSAs out there will make the problems go away. People are good at living a lie." Blaine flopped down on the bed, dislodging Molly from her precarious position in the last patch of sun right at the edge of the bedspread. She meowed, and promptly hopped up to sit on Blaine's stomach.

Kurt sat down next to Blaine on the bed, pulling his legs up, "How was it for you?"

"With my family?" Blaine asked. Kurt wondered at the clarification, but just nodded. Blaine smiled softly, but there was a tinge of sadness, "I told Cooper first. He was amazing, he even promised to help me tell Mom and Dad when I was ready. You've met him now – he has no internal filter, and sometimes that can be a pain, but when I was just figuring things out, it was so great. He was great. When I finally worked up the courage to tell my parents, I was so much more certain in myself. Mom… I think she was worried more than anything, and Dad was just quiet for a while. But then they both hugged me, and that was kind of the end of it, and I know they support me. I guess… I guess me being gay wasn't the biggest deal it could've been..."

As Blaine stared at the ceiling, absently scratching Molly's ears, Kurt felt that there was something more to his story that Blaine wasn't sharing. Sometimes Kurt thought that his best friend was more of mystery now that he knew him than before when he was just the cute new kid with the locker next to his.

But then Blaine grinned, all smiles and sunshine, and the moment to ask was gone.

TBC

Chapter Text

"Come on, please Blaine? It'll be brilliant and you're practically our official mascot now so Mr Schue would totally let you be in the green room with us rather than the audience and there's space on the bus! Please?" Kurt bounced slightly in his seat, an excited smile and warm pleading eyes fixed on Blaine.

The other boy bit his lip, looking incredibly uncertain. "It's not that… it's not that I don't want to come watch you guys perform… it's just…" Blaine shrugged, eyes dropping to his hands as he trailed off quietly.

Kurt reached over on impulse and gently took one of Blaine's hands in his, hoping the contact would get Blaine to look up again."I promise you'll have fun. And the others really want you to come – half of them had already just assumed you were. Even if you don't sing with us – yet – you're still a member of New Directions."

Blaine was clearly tense, but Kurt's words did draw out a tiny, happy smile. "This Saturday?" Kurt nodded. "Okay-"

Kurt squealed, "Yes! Thank you!" He threw his arms around Blaine's neck, and the other boy laughed.

"I said okay, but I still need to clear it with my parents."

"Why would they mind? You're totally coming Blaine." Kurt waved a hand.

Blaine looked doubtful, "You haven't met them… they can be pretty strict when they want to… But I'll do my best persuading, promise."

00000

Kurt had finally got a text from Blaine in the middle of Friday Night Dinner. He was allowed to come, and would meet the glee club at school 9am the next morning. Kurt was just saying goodbye to his dad – he was driving separately to the competition later with Carole to support their sons – when Blaine's car drove up, Cooper at the wheel. Kurt wandered over, catching the tail end of what was clearly an argument as they got out of the car. "I know it sucks, Blaine, but Mom's got a point. You can still-"

"No, Cooper." Blaine's mouth was set in a thin line, and Kurt didn't think he could remember ever seeing the boy look so mutinous. His mouth relaxed slightly as he saw Kurt, "Hey – you ready for today?"

Cooper ignored Blaine's pointed dismissal, ploughing on, "You've got your phone on you, right?"

"Cooper!" Blaine snapped, "Just leave it for once will you? You're as bad as Mom and Dad."

Cooper scowled, and Kurt felt distinctly uncomfortable, but then the older man rubbed his hand over his face looking exhausted. "I don't want to argue with you, squirt. You clearly know what's best." Blaine looked suddenly incredibly guilty, as if Cooper might as well have punched him. "I'll see you tonight – good luck with the competition, Kurt."

Kurt nodded his thanks, not really wanting to get in between the brothers, but slipped his hand into Blaine's all the same. Blaine gripped back so strongly Kurt's fingers throbbed. As Cooper was getting into the car, Blaine finally choked out, "I'll call. I promise."

Cooper just nodded briefly, not quite cold, but not warm either, and got back into the car to drive away. When he was gone, Blaine groaned, head dropping sideways against Kurt's shoulder for a second. "I'm sorry."

"For what? Are you okay? I didn't realise you joining us at Regionals would cause you that much hassle with your family. I'm sorry – I shouldn't have pushed you."

Blaine shook his head, "No. I wanted to come. The others already on the bus?"

The change of subject was obvious, so Kurt let it go for now. Blaine clearly wanted a distraction.

And it wasn't long before they both got swept away in the excitement and pre-competition hype. So much so that Kurt forgot about the odd incident that morning; Blaine seemed so happy, and the morning seemed a distant memory.

And then they were on stage performing, the air charged with the audience and the music, the entire experience passing in a blur that left them all elated. They had to win after that – their competition didn't stand a chance!

Except, in the midst of the excitement and the crowds, Kurt had lost Blaine. The last anyone remembered seeing him was in the green room just before they went on to perform…

Mercedes tugged at Kurt's arm, "Come on! We need to go on stage, they're gonna announce the winners!"

Kurt nodded absently, calling over the hubbub, "Have you seen Blaine?"

"Blaine? What, no – he's probably in the audience waiting for us to go on and win our way to Nationals!" Mercedes rolled her eyes. "You sure he's not your boyfriend?"

"Oh shut up." Kurt snapped, a sickly worry twisting in his stomach, even though logically he knew he should have no reason. They were at a show choir competition for god sake. What could have happened? "Look, I'll catch you up, I promise-"

"Kurt-"

"Three seconds, I swear."

Mercedes didn't look happy, but she let him go as she followed Quinn and Brittany in the direction of the stage. Kurt pulled his phone out of his pocket, trying without much hope to call Blaine for the umpteenth time. Except this time-

"Kurt? Kurt! Where are you?"

Kurt blinked. Blaine sounded… odd. "I'm near the doors to the left stage stairs – where are you?"

"I…I don't know, I got lost!" Blaine giggled, "Kurt. Kurt, Kurt you guys were amazing!"

"Blaine. Where are you?" There was something about Blaine's voice that set Kurt's teeth on edge.

"What? I don't…" Blaine voiced drifted, but then that horribly enthusiastic tone returned, "Seriously, this is awesome – you guys have to win! Oops…" There was more giggling.

Kurt started walking, "Blaine. For the last time, where are you?"

"I… umm… near the front doors I think?"

Kurt increased his pace, all thoughts of winning or losing gone, "Okay. Don't move. I'm coming to you."

"Okay!" A pause. "Why're you coming to me?"

Kurt didn't answer. He had rounded the corner to see Blaine leaning against a wall, a dopey grin on his face as he held his phone to his ear. He hung up when he saw Kurt, pushing up from the wall slightly unsteadily, "Kurt! There you are! You guys were amazing! Did you win?"

Kurt lurched forwards the last few steps to grab at Blaine as the smaller boy stumbled, unsteady on his feet. His eyes were far too bright, and his mannerisms… Kurt couldn't help the words spilling from his mouth, "Blaine are you drunk?"

Blaine blinked, his gaze dimmed with a vague flicker of offence, "What? No… why would you…" But then he swayed, pulling back from Kurt, his lips turning up in a grin, "We need to find out if you've won!"

"Oookay, I think we should get you to the nurse's station." Kurt had no idea what to think, only that Blaine was not acting like Blaine right now.

Blaine reeled backwards, stumbling until his back hit the wall hard, "No!" He blinked rapidly, clearly trying to clear his head, to focus. "No," he repeated, more calmly this time, "No, sorry, I'm… I'm okay, I'm fine."

Kurt didn't believe it for a second. "Blaine, please, what's wrong? Tell me, you're scaring me."

Blaine shook his head, raising shaking hands to scrub over his face. "You should go back in. All the audience are seated again. They'll be announcing the winners."

Kurt waved his hand dismissively, "I'll be there on the stage when we win Nationals. This is just Regionals."

Blaine smiled wanly, looking suddenly exhausted. He seemed to be slightly steadier now from his spot against the wall. Less twitchy too. There was silence between them, until Kurt heard a distant roar echo through the halls. They must have announced the winners. Kurt moved to lean against the wall next to Blaine, the backs of their hands brushing slightly as they hung between them. Finally Blaine mumbled, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come today. I... I wasn't feeling well this morning, but I thought I could power through it. I felt dizzy and lightheaded earlier too so I guess Mom was right and I am coming down with a cold or something…"

Lie.

The instinct hissed under Kurt's skin, hot and angry. Blaine had been fine earlier. Unsettled by his argument with his family, yes, but he hadn't been sick.

No. Enough. Kurt couldn't bear the secrets anymore and now after today he couldn't go on not knowing!

A brief rumbling was their only clue, and then people were spilling out into the entrance hall. Kurt's half-formed words were stalled as Blaine made a tiny noise in his throat, and fumbled to grasp at Kurt's hand. There was a faint tremor in his grip, and his eyes flickered rapidly over the faces of the gossiping people.

"Blaine!" A shout sounded over the general ruckus, and Kurt looked up to see Cooper pushing his way through against the tide of people. What on earth… what was he doing here? True, Kurt had been one minute away from taking Blaine's phone and calling the older man, but how was he here?

Blaine blinked, his eyes betraying as much confusion as Kurt felt. "Cooper? What are you doing here?"

Cooper, if possible, looked even more worried at Blaine's question, his hand falling to grip Blaine's shoulder. "You called me remember? After the first school performed."

Recognition flickered, and then panic, "Mom-"

Cooper's eyes hardened, but there was still an urgent concern written over his face. "Don't give me a reason to tell her you called. She thinks I'm catching up with some old school friends."

"I didn't think my cold was that bad…" Blaine stuttered over his words.

His brother looked distinctly unimpressed, his eyes flicking to Kurt for a moment before settling back on his brother. "Uh huh. Alright, let's get you home."

"Blaine-" Kurt bit his lip, unwillingly to see his friend leave without any answers.

But Blaine just offered him a tired, apologetic smile, "You should go find out who won, Kurt. Thanks for staying with me. I'll see you at school on Monday?"

"Sure…" Kurt's words stuck in his throat, "Feel better Blaine."

He stood, feeling slightly lost as the brothers disappeared out of sight. He wasn't sure how long he stood there for, but suddenly there was a pair of strong arms sweeping him up in a hug, "I knew you kids would do it! Other schools didn't stand a chance." Burt Hummel pulled back from his son, grinning widely, but then his expression morphed into a frown as he noticed how sombre his son seemed. "Kurt? What's wrong?"

Kurt shook himself, pulling on a smile that would fool most people, "Nothing, nothing. So we won? Brilliant! Oh my god, Dad that means we're going to Nationals in New York!"

Except his dad wasn't most people, and Burt didn't look convinced, "So it wasn't just my bad eyes then? You weren't on that stage with the others when they announced the winner."

"What? No, no, I just got a bit distracted, didn't see the time and then I heard cheering and it sucks I missed it but-"

"Kurt." His dad interrupted his voice flat, clearly not buying into what his son was trying to sell. "I may not be well up on all this show choir stuff, but I know about competitions and how much you kids wanted to win. You didn't just 'lose track of time'. What's going on?"

Kurt's shoulders slumped, "Blaine."

One word, one name, and everything was explained. Kurt had been talking about Blaine to his dad since the day he had met the other boy. Burt might not have met this kid yet, but any boy who able to act so naturally with his son was going to get his attention. "I see. And where's Blaine now?"

"He wasn't feeling well – his brother just picked him up."

Burt frowned, "His brother drove all the way from Lima? How sick was he?"

Kurt just shrugged, throwing his hands up in frustration, "I don't know. I don't know anything! Because Blaine won't tell me and he was acting really weird, Dad. Like, scary weird. He wasn't really with it, like he was drunk, but he wasn't, I know he wasn't." Kurt sighed, thudding back against the wall. "I don't know what to do anymore, Dad. He's my best friend and he won't talk to me. I know there's something going on with him."

Kurt stared at his dad, willing him to provide some answers. Burt sighed, wrapping an arm around his son's shoulders, "You can't make Blaine tell you, though I agree with you – even I can tell there's something going on with this kid and I've not even met him. But Kurt… be careful, okay? I know you're worried, but you know you can be pushy when you're worried, don't you? Blaine might not appreciate that."

Kurt rolled his eyes, but accepted his dad's advice. He knew he had a tendency to hover over those he loved whenever there was the slightest chance something was wrong. His dad said that he took after his mom, but Kurt just felt it was something he had to do. He couldn't sense when things were wrong, and that bugged him, perhaps even made him more paranoid than other people. "I'll talk to him on Monday."

"Good plan. Now, shall we go find the others? We've got some celebrating to do!"

Kurt managed a grin for his dad, but he was already planning how he was going to confront Blaine.

Except, Monday came and went without Blaine. And Tuesday. And Wednesday.

He texted Blaine, but only got stock answers in reply.

I'm fine! Don't worry :)

Cold was worse than I thought I guess – do you think you can put my homework in my locker for when I get back please? Combo 4352. Don't want infect anyone with my germs! xx

Urgh I feel like I'm under house arrest! Bored. Back tomorrow hopefully!

It sounded like Blaine but they were just texts! He needed to talk to Blaine, to see Blaine.

The girls just teased Kurt, saying he was experiencing separation anxiety.

Kurt didn't even care if that was true anymore. He just really wanted it to be tomorrow.

TBC

Chapter Text

Thursday was bad. Really bad.

Kurt didn't see Blaine until lunch, and when he did, he immediately found himself second guessing his belief that Blaine being sick had been some sort of lie.

Blaine's face was drawn, his skin sallow and pale, eyes dull and marred by dark shadows underneath. Every action seemed to take a momentous effort, exhaustion seeping from every pore. He really didn't look well. A fact that each and every member of glee club kept pointing out. Repeatedly. All day.

It really didn't add to Blaine's mood, which was a direct contrast from the relatively upbeat texts Kurt had been receiving.

And so, by the time Kurt did manage to corner Blaine, he just didn't have the heart to properly confront him. Especially because when Blaine wasn't preoccupied with staying awake, he was actually acting quite hostile towards anyone who displayed even the smallest hint of concern for him. Kurt didn't want to give Blaine an excuse to push him away, when he was pretty sure the only reason Blaine was still upright by the end of school was because he was using Kurt as a prop.

Kurt remembered scanning the parking lot for Cooper. He remembered turning to Blaine in confusion, trying to work out how to ask a question without getting his head bitten off, when Blaine had mumbled something quietly, in the same, horrible, listless voice he had used all day.

And the first piece slotted into place.

Cooper was gone. Cooper was back in New York, had been since last Monday night, although why Kurt still didn't know. The person who had been waiting for Blaine was his mother.

Kurt didn't meet her that day. Blaine was too quick to avoid talking, too quick to run away.

But if Thursday had been bad, Friday was infinitely worse. Blaine was worse.

At first, Kurt was hopeful. Blaine had smiled softly when they met at their lockers, and he seemed slightly more alert. Things seemed better, as if Blaine was getting over what virus he'd had.

But now, Kurt knew, it wasn't a virus. There was no getting over it. The day Blaine got over it would be the day Kurt could sense emotions.

"Hey, Blaine, you in here?" Kurt called, poking his head into the empty choir room. Blaine had been absent at the lockers when the bell for lunch had rung, and Kurt knew better than to look for him in the cafeteria. "Blaine? Blaine, what's wrong?"

Blaine was sitting curled up on a pair of the hard plastics chairs, legs folded into his body, phone held loosely in his fingers. He stared at it, looking completely lost and alone. The only indication that he had heard Kurt's question was a tiny shake of his head.

Tentatively, Kurt, perched on the edge of the chair Blaine was using for his feet, and rested a gentle hand on Blaine's knee. "Blaine, please. I'm worried about you."

Blaine bit his lip, swallowing thickly, eyes shining a little too brightly. "It's so stupid." He choked, "I'm being stupid."

Kurt shook his head. "Will you talk to me about it? I might be able to help?"

Blaine offered a half shrug, turning his phone over and over in twitchy hands. "My mom's got to work late. She can't get out of it. I have to…" His voice cracked, and there was a definite hysterical edge to it. "I have to get the bus home I guess. Or… I don't know… walking might be better. I just, I miss Cooper, so much. And it's not her fault, I know she has to work, and I made Cooper promise not to tell her about last week at your competition, but I just, I just can't…"

Kurt's stomach twisted, "Hey. Hey, it's okay, I'll give you a ride home, you don't have to get the bus."

Blaine looked up wildly, his eyes shimmering with a kaleidoscope of emotions. "You don't… I mean you don't need…"

"Don't be silly, Blaine. I do. And when you're feeling better – when you're not having a bad day and a crappier week, maybe you'll think about letting me in, and we can talk about what's been going on with you?" Kurt didn't know where his words were coming from. He didn't want to give Blaine time; he didn't want to take a step back, to be the mature one.

But he had to.

Blaine let out a shuddering breath, as if an iron band had snapped from around his chest, and a weight was lifted. "Thank you."

00000

Okay, so Kurt was starting to seriously think that Cooper had a point about that cat. She was creepy.

The drive to Blaine's house had been relatively quiet, free from their usual easy chatter. Blaine's head had kept drooping, falling to rest against the window, eyes lidded with sleep. Kurt had let him be; anything to help remove those horrible dark shadows from under his eyes.

When he had pulled up, Blaine had sat there simply staring up at the lifeless house and empty drive. He had looked… he had actually looked scared. There had been something deep in that look, something that spoke of more than simply going back to a parentless house when he wasn't feeling very well.

So when Blaine had tentatively invited him in, Kurt had said yes immediately, even though he knew he had to be back home at a decent time for Friday Night Dinner.

And that was when Kurt had become reacquainted with Molly.

She had just been sitting. Waiting on the third step of the hall staircase, tail twitching, staring at the door as they entered.

Still, what Kurt found creepy, Blaine clearly found comforting, because the other boy immediately went over to her, scooping her up and holding her close. To the creepy cat's credit, she was completely pliable in his arms, just letting Blaine take comfort from her. Already, Kurt could see a little of the tension drain away from Blaine.

"I want to tell you the truth."

Blaine's voice made Kurt jump. He couldn't keep the surprise from his face, but he smiled warmly in a way he hoped was reassuring. "Okay. Did you want to go up to your room?"

Blaine nodded, leading the way. His feet seemed to drag, as if he was dreading the coming conversation. It gave Kurt a little time to dwell over Blaine's choice of words, and in doing so he found that he really didn't like to dwell. It gave his imagination way too much scope.

Kurt waited for Blaine to settle on the bed, Molly still held close to his chest like some kind of furry shield. Deciding to give Blaine some space, Kurt made himself comfortable on the desk chair.

Silence swallowed them whole. Even Molly didn't make a noise. But Kurt was determined to let Blaine be the one to speak first.

The waiting paid off, but as soon as Blaine spoke Kurt found himself immediately wishing for the ignorant silence.

"I have an ES level of 4.8." The other boy's voice was flat, void of emotion, and wasn't that ironic.

Blaine might as well have punched Kurt, he doubted it would have felt much different.

Kurt's jaw worked, mouth moving without sound as his brain desperately tried to process what it was Blaine was trying to tell him. "H-how…?" Kurt wasn't even sure he knew what question he had tried to ask. There were too many, all of them sticking in his throat, dying on his leaden tongue.

"What?" Blaine voice was suddenly bitter, angry, his mouth twisted. But there was fear there too, Kurt could tell. A fear bred from an inability to guess what Kurt was thinking, a need to be defensive. "What were you going to ask? Go, on, you know you want to. Which one was it? How long until I'm dead, or just how long until I go crazy?"

Kurt flinched, throat burning and eyes stinging with tears he desperately willed not to fall. "N-no… I just… Blaine…" Blaine didn't look at him, his entire body curled defensively against Kurt's reaction, clinging to Molly as if she was the only thing keeping him together. "Can… can I sit on the bed?"

Blaine shrugged, wiping his sleeve viciously against his cheek. Molly's eyes followed Kurt intently as he rose and slowly moved to sit down next to Blaine.

The silence finally overcame the other boy. "You're… you're the first person outside my family to know since… a long time. Please… please don't freak out. I need you to not freak out. I need you to still be you. I need you to still see me… not some charity case with broken genetics and an expiry date…"

"Don't talk about yourself like that Blaine, it's not funny." Kurt rebuked him quietly, slowly wrapping his arms around Blaine, giving him every chance to pull away if he wanted to. "You're not broken. And… I think I'm freaking out slightly, but more in a shocked kind of way. I thought you were like me, but just not as extreme…"

Blaine blinked, twisting in Kurt's arms, "What do you mean?"

"Well, seeing as we're sharing digits here…" Kurt smiled softly as his words managed to pull a slight blush to Blaine's cheeks. It was a very personal thing, to know someone's exact level of Sensitivity. "My ES level is 0.5. I figured, you know, seeing as you can touch me without freaking out over my black hole of emotionless doom… God, Blaine, I never guessed you… Brittany's up there on the scale, probably the highest at McKinley and even she must only be 3.5 or something. The one time she touched my skin… I think my eardrums nearly burst she screamed so loudly."

Blaine stared at Kurt incredulously, a myriad of conflicting emotions passing across his face, until he stuttered, "I didn't… I thought…" He bit his lip, cutting off his words, ducking his head. "You don't make me want to scream."

Kurt couldn't stop the laugh the bubbled in his chest. "I'm glad." He squeezed Blaine's arm, and the smaller boy finally relaxed into Kurt's hug.

"I'm not normally this crazy, you know. This week's just been… really bad… Coop wasn't meant to go back to New York till next week." Blaine murmured.

"I don't think you're crazy Blaine. And I'm glad you told me. I… I'm not gonna lie, I don't know much about this stuff, but I'm here, I'm not going to run away. And I won't tell anyone at school, I promise, not if you don't want me to." Kurt's forced his voice to be calm, forced his voice not to shake. He might not know much about this, true, but he did know the weight of what Blaine was telling him. Of what it meant. And he was terrified for his friend, and for himself, because what if he screwed up? What if he did something wrong?

They sat together, for how long, Kurt wasn't entirely sure. It was clear that Blaine had used up whatever energy he had been running on to get home from school, as his body leant further into Kurt's. "You've got dinner with your dad…" Blaine mumbled tiredly, jerking his head up slightly as the thought came to him.

"I said I'd stay with you until your parents get home. I don't want to leave you alone right now."

Blaine bristled, "I'm fine-"

"Blaine." Kurt cut him off smartly. "When you're feeling better, we can talk about what this all means, but be honest with me right now; do you actually want me to leave or are you just trying to be polite?"

Blaine pulled back enough to look Kurt in the eyes. The look he gave Kurt made the other boy's chest hurt. Why should Blaine be so surprised at his reaction? Why should he look so thankful? Kurt was his friend, of course he was worried. Kurt wasn't sure he wanted to know what the root of Blaine's look was…

And then a pair of arms was flung tightly around his neck, Molly making a disgruntled noise as she was dislodged. A great shudder ran through Blaine's body, as if his words were raw and new in his throat. "Stay? Please?"

And that was that. Kurt wasn't turning away now. Not that he would have even considered it anyway. Still, as he lay on Blaine's bed, staring up at the ceiling with his best friend napping against his side, he couldn't help but let his thoughts drown him. Too many thoughts.

Blaine's ES level… it was unthinkable. Kurt knew what it meant. Not in the sense of what Blaine went through every day, but he knew what it meant. Kurt's Sensitivity was rare, and horrible…

But it wasn't a sentence of torture and death.

Unbidden, a high profile news story from the previous year crept into his head. A baby girl, born in Australia with an ES level of 5.7, the highest level ever recorded. Unlike when he and Blaine were younger, there were actual tests for a baby's levels to properly prepare parents. Kurt had been diagnosed pretty early on because his was so low, but he knew the higher ranges were harder to recognise.

The baby had died before she was even a week old. The stress of such a high level of Sensitivity had been more than her system could handle.

The same was true for anyone born with a level of over 5, although life expectancy varied; the Australian case had been unprecedented. Blaine's level… it was horrible to think it, but Kurt couldn't understand how the boy was still sane. How could he live, every day, drowning in everyone's emotions? It must have gotten worse when Blaine grew to a teenager, and he was sixteen now…

Kurt's arms unconsciously tightened around Blaine's sleeping form.

He couldn't lose him. He wouldn't. He was Kurt's best friend… he was… he was more than that. At least, Kurt wanted him to be.

But there was still that creeping voice, words of ice that crawled over his skin.

Blaine would be lucky to live past twenty-five. And he knew it.

TBC

Chapter Text

There was the sound of a door slamming downstairs, and a muffled call. The noise wasn't enough to wake Blaine, who was still sleeping soundly, curled tightly into Kurt's side. It was, however, enough to finally jerk Kurt from his increasing spiral of thoughts. He glanced at the clock. It wasn't as late as he had expected, only a little after five. Clearly one of Blaine's parents had managed to get off work early after all.

"Blaine? You up here?" A male voice floated through the closed door, more clearly now as its owner ascended the stairs. Blaine's dad then, it must be, seeing as if Cooper were still in Ohio Blaine would probably be in much better shape than he was now… although what link Cooper had to his little brother's emotional stability, Kurt had yet to fathom.

He nudged Blaine gently in an attempt to wake him, already moving to sit up himself, incredibly glad for the arrival of an adult who actually understood what was going on.

The door swung open softly, and a man in a sharp suit stood in the doorway. He looked so much like an older version of Cooper it was startling… except for his eyes. His eyes were a dark amber, and right now, they were fixed on the pair of boys, lying on his son's bed. Surprise and shock quickly gave way to a terrifying cold anger, and all of a sudden Kurt found himself genuinely afraid.

"Who the hell are you?" The voice of Blaine's dad thundered into the silence of the room, jerking a very confused Blaine awake. He took two strides into the room, hands gathering into fists. "Get away from my son!"

Kurt leapt off the bed with such speed it was as if he had been electrocuted. His hands rose up placating in front of him, and his heart pounded in his ears, beating rabbit-quick. Blaine had never said anything about his dad having a problem with him being gay! But then, maybe actually seeing him being held by another boy was enough to make the father snap. He watched the large man warily, keeping half an eye on Blaine who was just blinked confusedly between them both.

Except…

As soon as Kurt has jumped away, Mr Anderson's full attention was trained on his son. He dropped to his knees next to the bed, hands immediately cupping Blaine's face, forcing his son to look at him. His movements were fluid, as if practiced. "Blaine? Can you hear me? What happened?" He looked up at Kurt, his gaze cold and emotionless while at the same time thrumming with a clear threat. "What did you do to him?"

Kurt was thrown, but he swallowed his fear. He would not let this man bully him. "I… I haven't…"

Blaine finally seemed to wake up. "No! Dad stop! This is Kurt, he's my friend!" His little outburst seemed to use up what little energy he had regained in sleep, and Blaine slumped back again slightly, his voice less forceful. Kurt had to restrain himself from going to help the other boy. "Kurt drove me home after school. I asked me to stay with me until you or Mom came home. Please don't be angry, Dad. I'm sorry."

Mr Anderson seemed assess his son for a moment, and for the first time Kurt thought he could glimpse genuine worry lines on the man's face. Finally, he turned to Kurt, asking gruffly, "You're the one Cooper met?"

Kurt folded his arms across his body. "Yes." He paused, loath to give this man any kind of respect considering the entrance he had just given, but this was still Blaine's dad. "Sir."

He could feel Mr Anderson's eyes on him, silently judging him, before he turned back to Blaine, "Have you had anything to drink since you've been home?"

Blaine flushed, looking down, "No… I don't feel too bad…"

Mr Anderson sighed tiredly. "Blaine, I swear sometimes you are your own worst enemy." Glancing at Kurt, he instructed, "Alright. Make yourself useful, then. Go downstairs and pour a glass of water. Dissolve three decent sized tablespoons of sugar into it – you'll find it on the side – and bring the water back up here for Blaine." He turned back to his son, prodding him gently to get Blaine to move over so he could sit on the bed and face him. When he spoke again his voice was much softer. "As for you – you know the drill. Full account please."

Blaine winced, and Kurt didn't move. He stared at Blaine, completely baffled. The other boy just looked mortified and more than a little apologetic, "Dad…"

Mr Anderson didn't let him finish, holding up a hand that halted Blaine's protest. He did however spare a few words for Kurt, "Anytime you feel like it."

Blaine's dad was definitely not the kind of person Kurt would describe as warm…

He decided that his best course of action would to be to follow the instructions he had been given, although the reason behind them still mystified him. As he headed downstairs, he could hear Blaine's tones floating behind him, but the other boy was speaking too softly for Kurt to make out the words.

His phone buzzed. It was a text from his dad, asking if he would be home soon. Kurt's stomach twisted guiltily, but he knew he couldn't leave, not now. Even if he would much rather put as much distance between himself and Mr Anderson as possible, there was still Blaine to think about, and Kurt was on this bizarre errand for him. He texted back with an apology and a hedged answer of hopefully being home soon, knowing he would have to face his dad that evening.

Kurt returned to Blaine's room with a large glass of sugar water, catching the tail end of Mr Anderson's sentence, "-and we'll see if we can't get Cooper on Skype as well tomorrow." He had moved, and was now sitting perched next to Blaine, his arm around his son's shoulders as Blaine rested against his side. "Ah. Thank you."

It was the first polite thing Mr Anderson had said to Kurt, and he desperately wanted to snipe something back, but didn't want to ruin the change in mood. The older man seemed much calmer than before, less hostile too. "Drink it all please, Blaine."

"Dad, I don't-" Blaine protested, but then stopped when he saw the stubborn look on his father's face. He tentatively took a sip, and then a large gulp when his father continued to look unimpressed. Kurt hovered near the doorway, uncertain what to do. When Blaine had finished the glass, his dad removed it gently from his grip and set it on the side.

"Go back to sleep, Blaine. I'll wake you when dinner's ready." His voice was soft and tender. It only served to make Kurt more confused.

Blaine's eyes were drooping again, and his body was pliant as he allowed himself to be moved to lie down, only making a slight noise of protest, "Kurt-"

"I will show your friend out, don't worry."

Blaine mumbled something that Kurt didn't quite catch, but his father clearly had. The man sighed, suddenly sounding just as tired as his son. He bent slightly, dropping a kiss onto his son's forehead, murmuring, "You haven't ruined anything, bug, I promise. Now get some sleep."

Kurt swallowed back the lump in his throat, uneasily feeling like he was intruding. Blaine shouldn't look like that, so exhausted and upset. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair.

He was silent as he followed Mr Anderson downstairs, keeping a few steps behind. The man may have seemed loving towards Blaine, but Kurt wasn't about to forget their rather abrupt introduction. "If you have time, would you join me in the kitchen? I would like to speak with you."

Kurt was under no illusions that he had any choice in the matter, but he answered nonetheless, "Sure."

He followed Blaine's father into the kitchen, watching him carefully. He walked over to the counter, turning to lean against it, gesturing for Kurt to sit at the kitchen table.

He didn't. He stayed standing.

"I apologise for being so blunt, but what is your relationship with my son?"

Straight to the point then, okay, Kurt could handle this. "Didn't Blaine tell you? I'm his best friend. We go to school together."

"He did, but I much prefer to hear your version as well. You're gay?"

Kurt ground his teeth at the man's attitude, answering bluntly. "Yes."

"And your ES level is, what? You can't be above a 1."

"I don't see how that is any of your business." Kurt bit out defensively.

"Why?" There was an eerie calm to Mr Anderson's entire posture and speech. It was unsettling. "You know my son's now after all. It's only fair that I know yours."

"Blaine knows. He told me his, so I told him mine." Kurt knew his voice was rising but this man was making him so angry. "And it is none of your damn business. I don't care who you are. What Blaine and I tell each other is ours, no one else's."

And then Mr Anderson was smiling and that just made Kurt even angrier. "Good. I'm glad to hear that."

"I… what?" Kurt spluttered.

"I'm sorry for how we met this afternoon, Kurt, and I hope you can forgive me for my attitude towards you. You didn't deserve that. I just…" He stopped rubbing his hands over his face in an action that suddenly made him so much more human. "Blaine doesn't have a great track record with friends, and I won't see him hurt, not if I can help him avoid it. I need to know that you will be good for my son. Blaine has to come first. I already know his opinion of you, but I need to know where you stand."

Kurt's mouth worked like a fish for a second, before he pulled himself together. "Blaine is my best friend. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardise that, or hurt him."

"I'm very relieved to hear that. How much has Blaine told you about his condition?"

"I only found out today… but I've noticed things. Especially since last Saturday…" Kurt trailed off, suddenly remembering Blaine's insistence that his parents not find out about the incident. Looking back on it with what he knew now, Kurt had to wonder what had really happened. He hoped Blaine would feel comfortable enough to explain…

Mr Anderson's lips quirked into a half-smile, "Don't worry, Blaine just told me. I'm not angry with either of you for keeping it from me. You especially had no reason to worry. My eldest on the other hand… let's just say he should be glad he's in another state right now. He should know better. And, I hope, very soon you will know better too."

Kurt cocked his head, his folded arms loosening slightly from where they crossed over his chest, "I don't understand."

"You are Blaine's best friend. You said it yourself. If you are able to handle everything that you have learnt about Blaine, if you decide to remain friends-" Kurt opened his mouth in protest, but Mr Anderson halted him with a raised hand, "This is a lot for a teenager to deal with Kurt, and it would be better for everyone, Blaine especially, if you decide whether you can deal with this now, before one of you gets really hurt. If you can, then I would like you to be fully informed, able to recognise the signs."

Kurt nodded, "I want to be able to help Blaine. If… if I'd known before, then maybe Blaine wouldn't be so bad now, I could've noticed, or-"

"Don't." Mr Anderson's voice was surprisingly gentle, even a little kind. "If you start along that train of thought, you will never be happy, trust me. Now, you have a lot to think about, and I'm sure your parents will be wondering where you are."

"Right, I should go…" Kurt nodded, turning to leave, before pausing, "It was nice to meet you Mr Anderson."

"And you, Kurt" He was actually smiling. It wasn't the same exuberant smile of his sons, it was much more reserved, but it was still surprisingly reassuring. "And call me John. You are welcome here, anytime."

Considering the man's first reaction to Kurt, this was a serious improvement, "Thank you. I hope Blaine feels better." He began to head back through the lounge to grab his shoes and head home, when Mr Anderson called after him.

"Oh, and Kurt?" Once Kurt had turned, Blaine's father continued, an odd spark in his eyes that reminded Kurt far too much of Cooper. "Should you and Blaine decide that you both want to be more than best friends, I would have no objection."

Kurt blushed beetroot red, mortified as he scurried out of the house, but he couldn't deny the warm coiling of his stomach at the words.

As he drove home, however, the weight of the afternoon because to settle around his chest, dispelling the warm feeling with dark thoughts and colder dreads. By the time he pulled into the drive, any thoughts of hunger were gone, replaced by that nasty lump in his throat. Because now Blaine wasn't with him, now he didn't need to be strong…

Kurt quietly entered his house, hoping to sneak upstairs. He could hear his family in the kitchen, the clatter of cutlery on plates a comforting backdrop to easy chatter.

"Kurt? That you?"

He heard his dad call from the kitchen, but he couldn't bring himself to answer. He couldn't breathe. He needed to run, he needed to get away.

Kurt ran upstairs, ignoring his dad's annoyed shout after him. He was late, he had barely texted, but he couldn't deal with family time right now, he couldn't, he didn't-

He slammed his bedroom door behind him, and barely made it to his bed before his limbs gave out, tears already welling treacherously in his eyes, throat tightening.

"Kurt, what the hell-" His dad burst into his room, clearly angry. When he spoke again, his tone was soft and worried, "Kurt? Buddy, what's happened?"

"I…" Kurt barely managed to get that one, tiny word out before his chest tightened with wrenching, ugly sobs. He couldn't speak, he just needed to let it out. Let out what he hadn't been able to around Blaine. He needed to be scared, he needed to be confused, upset, angry. He needed his dad to hold him and tell him everything was going to be okay, that he was strong enough.

In the morning, he would research. In the morning, he would be okay. In the morning, he would text Blaine.

But it wasn't the morning yet, and as he felt his dad's strong arms encase him, he let himself have this evening.

TBC

Chapter Text

Cooper's foot jiggled nervously as the cab turned the corner into a quiet, suburban road. He was always someone who had too much pent up energy, but this was something else. He just couldn't sit still. The woman who had sat next to him on his flight from New York must have been very relieved when they landed…

The cabbie didn't seem that bothered though. Cooper assumed he had a rather low sensitivity, because he knew he was projecting.

No. Stop. You're nearly there, and you can't project. You're a damn actor, get it together. Stop projecting.

Unbidden, a vibrant daydream floated across Cooper's mind's eye. It was a variation of many like it. Blaine driving the car, snapping good-naturedly at his big brother, "Seriously Cooper, quit it. You're making me a nervous driver. If we crash, it will totally be your fault."

But the daydream was fleeting, too bright and too fake, just like all the others that Cooper had indulged in since he was a kid. Indulged… maybe tortured would be a better description for it. Blaine would never drive Cooper anywhere; he would never pick him up from the airport. He would never be allowed behind the wheel of a car, let alone be approved for a driver's permit.

"Here we are, buddy."

The taxi had pulled up outside a house Cooper had only been to a handful of times, on holidays and fleeting visits. It wasn't his childhood home – that was a couple of towns over, and the Andersons hadn't lived there since... The driver pulled his case out of the trunk as Cooper count out the fare from his wallet. It wasn't cheap, but his dad had insisted he take his car for the month, rather than spend out on hiring one for that length of time. Not that Cooper couldn't have afforded it.

His dad would have picked him up from the airport, but his mom had only started a new job the other week, and it would have meant Blaine would have been alone all morning. Not that Blaine couldn't be left alone – that time was behind them, thank god. But they didn't like to highlight Blaine's difference. They didn't like to make a big deal. And if Blaine had asked to come with their dad to pick Cooper up, he would have been had to be told no.

Airport arrivals and Blaine did not make for a good combination.

The door opened before Cooper could knock, "Hey Dad!"

John Anderson was a hair taller than his eldest son, with a grin to match. He also gave the best hugs in the world. Whenever his dad hugged him, Cooper always felt calmer, more confident and sure. He felt that strength wash through him now, as large arms wrapped warmly around him in greeting. "Cooper!" He pulled back, one hand still on his son's shoulder as he picked up the case with the other, leading him inside. "You made good time. Flight alright?"

Cooper shrugged, "Can't complain. Where's the rest of my welcoming committee?"

"Coop!" A shout from the top of the stairs drew both men's attention, shortly followed by a tumbling of thuds as the youngest Anderson ran down to join them. "You're home!"

Cooper only had a brief second to brace himself, both physically and mentally, as his little brother leapt into his arms. He staggered slightly, both from Blaine's momentum and from the sensation of being hugged by him. Blaine's enthusiasm and excitement danced underneath Cooper's skin, tingling invisible starbursts colliding and crashing into his nerves, trying to steal his breath. He laughed louder than he normally would, "Missed you too, squirt. Christmas seems way too long ago."

Their dad came to Cooper's rescue, gently touching the small of Blaine's back as the younger boy pulled back slightly from the hug. "Let your brother breathe, Blaine, he's only just come in the door." Blaine grinned sheepishly. "I've fixed Cooper a late lunch. It's in the kitchen, so why don't you grab it and we'll all go sit in the living room?"

Blaine dashed off, and Cooper let himself have a moment, breathing heavily as he let his dad calm him with a solid hand to his arm. He smiled incredulously, "Thanks. I always forget. Each time I come home, I always forget how intense…" His voice dropped to a murmur, "I can't believe you're sending him back to a public school…"

"It's what Blaine wants." Dad repeated the same words of defence he had been steadfastly saying since Blaine had raised the issue at Christmas. Cooper couldn't say he was thrilled about it, and Mom… she was seriously against it, he knew. Still, in the end, Dad and Blaine had won their case, and next week would see the end to Blaine's home schooling.

Mom had pleaded for him to wait, to think about it, to hold off until junior year, or even at least until the new semester. But Blaine had been even more stubborn than usual. Where ever he had got the idea that he wanted to return to high school, he had made up his mind.

And so, their parents had researched the school, and Cooper had arranged to live at home for a month while Blaine settled in. Mom even started looking for a new job, now that she wouldn't need to stay at home with Blaine.

Still, this week had come far too quickly for Cooper's comfort.

00000

Picking up Blaine from his first day at his new school, McKinley, Cooper knew he was early. But he had put it off for as long as he could, the empty house seeming cold and hostile. He had hated leaving Blaine that morning. He had hated the principal, the guidance councillor, the students. He had hated the school, and all the dangers he could see, could feel.

He had very nearly dragged Blaine right out of that place as soon as they had set foot through the doors.

This was such a bad idea.

He shoved his nerves aside. Stop it. This isn't about you, this is about Blaine. About the poor kid actually having a life without shadows and fears stalking him every second.

He knew Blaine had been nervous that morning. Mom had been terrified, and Cooper hadn't been much better, and all of those emotions had only served to make Blaine's first morning even scarier than it should have been. Dad had been forced to take Mom out of the bedroom before she sent Blaine into a spiral, and had nearly taken Blaine to school himself until Cooper convinced him he could keep it together.

The bell rang, and Cooper tensed, waiting. Most of the kids were dispersed by the time he caught a glimpse of that familiar gelled hair and neat yellow cardigan. He watched carefully as Blaine approached, trying to assess his little brother's state of mind. His stomach twisted when he saw how carefully Blaine's hands were curled up the sleeves of his cardigan, how precisely Blaine had dressed himself that morning to make sure he would never accidentally touch another person's skin. It was a sight Cooper hadn't seen in such a long time, and one he hated.

He opened his arms with the smallest of movements, and Blaine slipped into his embrace with an exhausted slump. His bare cheek pressed into the side of Cooper's neck, and Cooper immediately felt the swell of overwhelming fears and doubts through the contact. As clawing stress tried to bind his chest, he took a breath, concentrating on staying calm and neutral while his stomach roiled with emotions that were only in part his own. "Hard?"

Blaine nodded softly, his shoulders already less tense with the comforting touch of his brother.

Cooper wanted to scream. He wanted to yell. He wanted to bundle Blaine up and protect him from the world.

But he couldn't. He wouldn't.

00000

The week, as it went on, got easier. Cooper started to see his brother shine again. Blaine started talking on the car journey home, about the kids at school and the talent of a singing club he had seen rehearse a few times.

But it wasn't until the next week that Blaine really underwent a transformation, and the faceless, abstract kids he had mentioned earlier began to morph into names and descriptions.

Began to become a mysterious boy, named Kurt.

And suddenly, Cooper was helping his little brother buy coffee for Kurt. Kurt, who was amazing. Kurt, who was talented and incredible. Kurt, who was smart and witty and unbelievable. Kurt, who had the most beautiful eyes ever and oh my god Coop shut up I didn't mean it like that!

Kurt, who had brought his brother back to life.

Kurt, who…

Well, to say that his first meeting with the kid had yielded some rather unexpected results would be understating it in the extreme.

As soon as he had seen him, Cooper had known he was different. Tall and pale, the kid walked with a confidence and pride that Cooper could see… but not feel. Cooper didn't need contact to sense surface emotions, and so staring at the kid was like staring into a void. He could see Kurt. He knew he was there, but the lack of subconscious presence set Cooper's teeth on edge. A niggling feeling squirmed in the back of his mind, itched down his spine. His mind demanded information, but everything was distorted, wrong.

Holy crap, how low was this kid on the scale? And why the hell hadn't Blaine mentioned anything? It was definitely one of Kurt's more defining… features.

But Cooper was still an actor, and he had grown up with Blaine. If anyone knew how to read emotions in people, it was him. And he was painfully aware of what it was like for people outside of society's norm. He could already see Kurt's wariness, his resigned expectation of how this meeting would play out.

Except Cooper wasn't that guy. He would never be that guy. Growing up with Blaine had made sure of that.

So he offered his hand, and held it out until Kurt shook it. He didn't let his face show the tiniest hint of discomfort, even though every instinct screamed that something was wrong. If he had still been a teenager, he knew that touching Kurt would have been too much for still settling senses.

Luckily, Cooper was nothing if not stubborn, and he'd be damned if he treated this kid as anything other than an ordinary teenager.

Still, as he got in the car, he couldn't help but sit slightly dazed for a moment.

Of all the kids in the world, and Blaine finds this one.

When Kurt had gone home for the evening, Cooper immediately sought out his little brother, flopping obnoxiously down on Blaine's bed. "So. Kurt."

Blain blinked at him, wary. "Yes…" He dragged out the word suspiciously.

"He's… unusual." Cooper hedged.

Blaine's reaction wasn't quite what he expected. The teenager grinned happily, "Isn't he brilliant? I can't believe… I can't believe how amazingly talented he is, and he wants to be friends with me and, Coop – I can hug him!"

Cooper cocked his head slightly, unable to refrain from smiling as Blaine's joy sparkled warmly. "But that's what I mean. Doesn't Kurt's ES bother you?" Or lack of…

Blaine's confusion skittered at Cooper's fingertips. "Why would it?" Doubt, worry, insecurity. "You do like Kurt, don't you?"

"Woah, reel it back there squirt. I loved Kurt! He's seems like a good kid, and he's clearly great for you."

Blaine shrugged, "Then I don't get what you're talking about…"

"I…" Cooper shifted uncomfortably, unsure of how to pursue the issue when Blaine seemed to be skirting it. "Never mind. What do you want for dinner?"

00000

Cooper stared at his cell, dull in his hands. He had no idea what to do… He couldn't… Especially not after what happened yesterday…

"Coop?" Blaine yawned widely as he entered the kitchen. It was early for a Sunday, and their parents were still in bed, but Cooper had needed to take a call from his agent in New York.

"Hey!" He smiled too brightly, and Blaine noticed immediately that something was wrong. After yesterday, Blaine's nerves were clearly still very raw. Cooper didn't even know why he bothered trying to pretend.

"What's happened? What's going on?" Panic flared in Cooper's gut, and he honestly didn't know if it was Blaine's or his own.

Cooper sighed, signalling for Blaine to join him at the kitchen table, "My agent called. He wants me back in New York a week early for an audition. I said I wouldn't go of course-" Cooper rushed on as soon as Blaine's face paled.

Blaine shook his head. "No, don't! Don't do that Coop, don't pretend..." He ran his hands shakily though his bed head of messy curls, "It's big, isn't it? You really want this audition."

"That doesn't matter Blaine-"

"I don't need a babysitter!" Blaine snapped. "I'm sixteen, and it's not like you weren't gonna leave in a week anyway! You can't put your life on hold for me Coop! I won't let you!"

"Blaine…" Cooper murmured sadly, "I've never put my life on hold for you, and neither have Mom and Dad. You're a part of our lives, not an inconvenience."

"You have to go. You have to." Blaine insisted. "Coop, please…"

"I… Blaine, I don't…" He groaned. In his heart, he knew he wanted this part. He wanted it more than anything he'd ever gone up for. If he got it, it would be career changing. But then there was Blaine's incident yesterday at that damn glee competition... "If I go, you have to let me tell Mom and Dad about what happened yesterday. I don't mind covering for you when I'm still around to keep an eye on you, but if I do leave early, they have to know."

The spike of panic and terror that tore through Cooper's brain took him completely by surprise. Usually he could only feel that sort of intensity when he was touching Blaine. "You can't. Coop, you promised, you can't tell them, especially Mom. Please Coop, please don't, I promise I'll be fine. I am fine, better than fine, see? Not tired, or anything! Please, you promised, you promised-"

Alarmed at Blaine's sudden change in mood, Cooper leapt out of his seat, dropping to his knees in front of Blaine, grasping his arms as he forced eye contact. "Hey, hey calm down, it's okay. Breathe, Blaine, just breathe."

Blaine did as he was instructed, closing his eyes and focussing on the touch of his older brother. When he seemed to have regained some of his equilibrium, he opened his eyes again and mumbled, "Please don't tell them. I don't want to go to Dalton."

Cooper stared at Blaine with unbridled shock. Where the hell had that come from? "Blaine, no one's sending you to Dalton. Mom and Dad barely considered it when you were still in hospital, but that was a long time ago. I promise-"

"I found a prospectus in Mom's desk." Blaine mumbled, his voice wet with pent up emotion. "Before Christmas."

Cooper rubbed his hands up and down Blaine's arms, "No, no Blaine, I promise. It was probably an old one left over-"

"It wasn't. It was next September's." Blaine shook his head, voice cracking. "I don't want to go, Coop, please! If you tell Mom and Dad they'll think I can't cope! They'll make me go!"

Cooper's head swam with Blaine's welling fear and overwrought emotions, but he didn't break contact, instead concentrating on projecting as many soothing feelings as he could scrape together. "Is that why you asked to stop being home schooled? Why you asked to go to McKinley?" Cooper asked quietly.

Blaine nodded, refusing to meet Cooper's eyes, "I wanted to prove that I'm okay… That I'm not a burden…"

Cooper laughed hollowly, drawing Blaine into a hug that the smaller boy melted into willingly, "That is the stupidest idea I have ever heard of, and I've had plenty in my life. Blaine, you are never a burden on this family. Never, you understand?" He felt Blaine nod against his shoulder, felt the dark fear recede. "And I promise, no one's sending you to Dalton."

"You won't tell?"

Cooper bit his lip. He knew he should. He knew that as a responsible adult, he should tell their parents about Blaine's current emotional state… but if he did, then he would lose Blaine's trust. Blaine was clearly already keeping things from their parents, and Cooper needed to know that he wasn't being shut out too. "One condition." He pulled back from Blaine, making sure his little brother was focussed on him, "You tell me everything. However small, you tell me if something happens, whenever your Sensitivity sends you even the slightest off balance, I need to know."

Blaine nodded vigorously, "I promise. And you'll go to your audition?"

Cooper didn't want to, how could he? But Blaine was clearly not going to let this drop, and the younger boy obviously felt he had something to prove. He sighed, giving in, "Alright, I'll go to the audition." Blaine smiled, happy, relieved, and full of a trust that curled tightly around the two brothers.

Cooper really hoped he was making the right decision.

TBC

Chapter Text

Fireworks burst and cracked, whistling across dreams and puncturing sleep, scarlets, oranges, umbers. All burned hot and bright, scarring the stars with anger and hurt, sweeping away peace with wrenching punctures and shots.

Blaine rocketed up in bed, breath panting as the fireworks blinded his mind's eye, pins and needles spreading poison up the lengths of his limbs, leaving goose bumps prickling in their wake.

Breathe, just breathe. One breath, two, focus, focus.

The fireworks faded, but the hurt remained, defensive and curling. Blaine shivered, his sweat-drenched skin cold in the night. He rubbed a hand over his face, forcing himself to focus, pushing the fearful anger away. It wasn't his; it never was. But he could still feel it, clawing at his chest, demanding to be heard.

Fireworks scattered briefly across his mind once more, duller now that he was awake and more in control. This time, they were accompanied by a shout; a real shout, not something from Blaine's dreams.

Mom.

He had known it already, before he had heard her, although she hadn't allowed herself to get angry around Blaine in years. Normally she was so bright and happy, her emotions dancing in golds and emeralds, all twirling catherine wheels and firework fountains.

Blaine slipped out of bed, glancing at the clock. It was only eleven thirty, but Blaine had fallen into bed straight after dinner. His parents must have tried to wait until they thought he was deep asleep before they tackled the conversation he had watched them hold back while they ate.

Guilt that was mostly his own swelled in his throat. It was always him. He was always the cause.

Softly, Blaine crept out into the hall and began to make his way step by step towards his parents' voices, until the undecipherable blur became distinctive words. They were downstairs. He let his hand ghost over the banister for a moment, before making up his mind. He couldn't go back to bed, he wanted to know what they were talking about, he needed to know, because what if they were talking about Dalton? Whatever his dad had promised earlier that afternoon, Blaine wasn't so sure, especially not after the past week.

Ever so quietly, Blaine descended the staircase, his bare feet chilled on the wooden boards. Halfway down, when the voices were all but crystal clear, Blaine sat down on a step, looping one hand to grasp at a banister pole, leaning his temple against it. His gaze fixed on the closed door to the lounge. The defensive anger was stronger here, fireworks bursting behind his eyes so brightly that he had to squeeze them shut and try to find his dad in the mess of emotions.

A cool undercurrent rose from underneath the bursts, a steady breeze that dispersed the scalding sparks. When Blaine had been younger, maybe nine or ten, his doctor had become concerned at how easily Blaine allowed himself to slip into other people's emotions, falling so quickly and so deeply that sometimes very little of Blaine himself was left. So she had devised a technique that Blaine now entirely depended on.

Instead of allowing other people's emotions to fill him, to invade him until there was no way to separate one from the other, himself from the world, Blaine gave them form in his mind. The abstract infiltrators became fireworks, rain, wind, forests, wolves. They were real, and they were not his own. And if they were not him, he could ignore them, dismiss them. He could still be Blaine.

While he had made his mom fireworks, crackling against a clear night's sky, his dad was a strong, sure presence, like wind rushing through the branches of an ancient forest. Cooper's emotions were fluid, a bright sweep of a myriad of colours, like brushstrokes of paint on a canvas, while their grandfather was like dust floating in the rays of an afternoon sun.

Everyone Blaine was close to, he took care to create an emotional identity strong enough and different enough that they wouldn't overwhelm him, or at least, so that he would know that they were. It was harder with people he didn't know, strangers on the street, kids in school hallways, even his new teachers. He wasn't familiar enough with them to know how his empathic senses absorbed their emotions, and in large numbers Blaine constantly felt like he was fighting a never ending battle to keep his head above water, as waves and waves of unwelcome hate, sorrow, even happiness and passion, crashed over him, pulling him under, drowning him.

Unless he was with Kurt, of course… Because Kurt was the ocean, and with Kurt, Blaine knew he could never drown.

"-Cooper should have told us!"

"Cooper did exactly what he thought was best for Blaine, Emily. God knows, at least Blaine's been talking to someone about this!"

"I'm sorry, I just can't believe that after all that's happened you still want to send our son back to that damn school!"

"And where would you send him?"

"He could come back home, where he's safe and doesn't have to deal with-"

"With what?" The wind picked up in a burst of frustration as Blaine's father cut over whatever argument his mom had been trying to muster. "Doesn't have to deal with being a teenager? With having friends? With actually having a damned life?"

"You know that wasn't what I was going to say. Don't talk to me like he's not my son as well, John!"

"Well now you know how I felt when I had to hear from Cooper how the only reason Blaine wanted to go back to school was because he found a brochure for Dalton in the study and I know damned well I didn't order it!"

Silence. Blaine held his breath, his grip on the pole tightening almost unconsciously. "W-what? I… oh no…"

The fireworks fizzled, weakly popping as the burning dregs flickered with intermingled guilt.

"That's the reason he didn't want to be home schooled anymore. Not because he was being stubborn or because he was trying to pull away from you, but because he was terrified we were planning to send him away." The trees bent in the wind, disappointment, worry, exhaustion forcing the boughs to creak. "Why did you have it, Emily? Blaine was doing fine. I know I was always saying that it might be good for him, to get back out into the world, but it should have been his own choice, made at his own pace."

Blaine's stomach roiled with dark emotions that he knew were his own. His dad's voice sounded so tired, and his mom's… he hated it when she cried, especially because he always seemed to be the cause…

"He's sixteen, John. Dr Monroe told us what to expect… She told us the home schooling wasn't a permanent solution. You weren't with him all hours of every day like I was. He was so quiet, and so hard to read, and when Cooper went home after last Thanksgiving, he just got worse. I could feel it; the isolation was starting to wear him down…"

"So you thought Dalton would be the solution?" His father's voice was incredulous.

Fireworks crackled, incensed, irritating Blaine's already tense nerves, "It's not the same, and you know it."

Blaine's stomach clenched and suddenly he couldn't breathe. Detachedly, he knew what his mom meant about the months leading up to Christmas. While home schooling had begun as a sanctuary from the world, it had gradually mutated into an empty aching pressure in his chest, as he went through every day feeling like something was missing. Each morning became harder, and he found himself persuading his mom to let him come with her to the supermarket, or to the mall. Even just sitting on the seat in the big bay window of the lounge, stretching out his senses to brush at a stranger's emotions as they walked by...

His family wasn't enough anymore.

"Blaine. Why don't you join us?" His dad called, breaking through Blaine's rapidly spiralling thoughts.

Blaine's mind juddered to a halt, and he swallowed guiltily. His dad knew, he always knew when Blaine was there… It was really infuriating.

He padded down the rest of the stairs, pushing open the door. His dad was standing near the fireplace, while his mom was sitting on the large plush leather sofa. "I'm sorry…" He mumbled, not sure who to look at. His dad's face was impossible to read, while his mom was wiping the tears from her cheeks, as her own, more powerful guilt overlapped Blaine's.

He had a really bad headache.

"No, sweetheart," his mom murmured as she stood and walked over to him. Blaine watched her with tired, pleading eyes as she paused, shaking herself slightly and taking a deep, focussing, cleansing breath. And then she smiled, gently wrapping him up in her arms. Whatever darkness she had been projecting had been pushed down deep, and as he buried his face in her shoulder, breathing in the familiar flowery scent of her dark curly hair, he felt himself calm. "I'm sorry we woke you."

Blaine shrugged, unwilling to leave her arms and continue the conversation.

His dad seemed to read his thoughts, dropping his hand to rest against Blaine's back, "We're not angry, Blaine. Really. We just… why didn't you tell us why you wanted to go to McKinley? We would have still supported you."

His mom pulled back slightly so she could look at Blaine properly. They were almost the same height, Blaine only a hair taller, and her bright blue eyes easily locked with his hazel ones. "You know how we feel about telling the truth in this family. We're just sad because you felt like you couldn't."

Blaine didn't really trust his voice, but he wobbled his way through his defence anyway, "You di-n't tell me the tru-uth. I t-thought you were sending m-me awa-ay!"

Soft sadness floated its way through Blaine's body, a mixture of everyone in the room. He felt fingers carding through his loose curls, and a gentle warmth as his father pressed a kiss into his hair, "We're never sending you away, bug, don't ever think that."

His mom nodded, "I know it might seem sometimes like we're making choices without you. You're our son, and we love you so much, and we only ever want you to be healthy and happy. But I promise, when it comes to the big stuff, we will always talk about it with you. Sweetheart, we would never dream of sending you to Dalton without at least talking it through with you first. But, I'm your mom and you know how I worry about my boys." Her teasing tone drew out a tiny smile from Blaine, even if her voice was still clouded with previous tears. "I need to think about every possibility, you understand, don't you Blaine?"

"Yeah…"

She smiled, kissing his forehead, love blooming in the contact. "So, no more secrets?" Blaine nodded.

"And no more putting your brother in the middle?" His dad added wryly.

Blaine ducked his head, "I won't, I'm sorry."

"Good." His mom smiled softly, "Now, I think you need to go back to bed, don't you? And tomorrow, you can tell me all about this Kurt of yours."

"Mo-om…" Blaine groaned, the tight feeling in his chest finally easing with the sparkle of teasing fondness that tickled at his skin. "He's just my friend."

"Of course he is, sweetheart." Her tone was entirely placating. "Come on, bed. Is Molly upstairs?"

"I think so." Blaine nodded, suddenly overtaken by how sleepy he really was.

"I'll go check." His dad went off ahead of them, as Blaine climbed the stairs with his mom more slowly, her arm still wrapped around him.

By the time Blaine was settled back into bed, his dad had returned with an armful of grey fluffy cat, which he deposited on top of the comforter. Molly stretched languidly, before taking her time to knead the bedspread, finally settling her warm weight down next to Blaine.

"Good night Blaine." His parents closed the door, and he let himself lie in bed, thoughts drifting as he absently listened to the noises of the house. His hand found Molly, fingers burying into the silky fur.

Content. Sleepy. Good.

The simplistic cat feelings seeped up Blaine's fingers and into his bones, washing away the complexities that had been draining his senses and muddling his mind. As he kept contact, peacefulness returned to his body, turning the horrible exhaustion into a lulling tiredness.

Molly didn't move, happy to rest next to her human until his breathing evened out, and his fingers grew lax with a deep sleep.

TBC

Chapter Text

Blaine yawned widely as he meandered into the kitchen the next morning, Molly balancing precariously on his shoulders, her claws catching in the fabric of his pyjama top.

"Good sleep?" Dad was sitting at the kitchen table drinking his morning coffee while reading the paper.

Blaine nodded, "Uh huh."

Molly jumped delicately from Blaine's shoulders to the countertop and began to nose curiously at his hand as he slathered strawberry jam all over his toast. A gentle nudge of fond amusement tickled at his senses. "Ah. Someone's not awake yet. I see how it is."

"Good morning sweetheart." Mom breezed into the kitchen, pecking Blaine on the cheek. He smiled at the warmth that bloomed from the contact. "No cats on my work surfaces please, you know the rules."

Blaine grinned, biting into his toast, "Sorry Mom." He scratched Molly's ears, feeling the feline annoyance as she obediently jumped to the floor.

It was funny. Blaine had been given Molly a little over two years ago now, when she had been a tiny little kitten bursting with joy and life, able to fit snugly in his hands. He had always been able to sense her emotions, and she had always helped him regain balance when he had bad days – or bad weeks as had been the case this time. But as she had grown older, it was like she was able to read Blaine just as well. She always knew what he needed, and was always there for him, without fail.

He knew his relationship with his cat was very unusual, but for that, he loved her all the more. Only people with very high ES levels could sense the emotions of animals, and even then, only domesticated breeds; cats were the stereotype, but dogs were also perceptive enough as well.

There was still a stigma behind it, even in today's modern society. In the 17th Century, the witch hunts had led to the persecution of high level empaths, many targeted because they kept feline 'familiars', and that superstition had lingered through the centuries that followed. It was different, outside of the norm, and people hated it.

Blaine would never forget the time when he had been five years old, playing with a mangy local stray cat in their backyard. It had been a scrawny, ugly thing, but he remembered the friendly, attention-seeking greeting. He also remembered the horrible jarring mix of terror and anger when his mom found him having a one sided conversation with the stray's emotions, with as much eloquence as a five year old could muster.

He remembered bursting into tears and apologising over and over, before his mom had even let half her emotions show on her face, let alone open her mouth.

She had chased the cat away, and his parents had argued that night. Loudly. Hurtfully. He was taken to the local Sense Clinic the next day, and diagnosed within the week.

But his parents had grown and learnt, along with the rest of his family, and Blaine most of all.

It had only been two years, but he couldn't imagine a life without Molly now.

"So, your dad and I were talking, and if you're feeling up to it, we thought that this weekend we could ask Kurt and his parents round for dinner."

Blaine froze, his toast halfway to his mouth, "Huh?"

Careful calmness shrouded his senses, and he could tell that his parents were being extra cautious with their emotions this morning. It helped that Molly had stayed with him all night, and that they had all had that conversation before bed, and the fact that Kurt had stayed all afternoon... He felt more rested, more stable.

"Well, we thought that if Kurt was going to be around a bit more, and if you're going to be around him, then maybe we should get to know him. And…" Fireworks crackled in a nervous snap and the wind swirled, "And maybe we should also think about telling his parents. It's a big secret to ask your friend to keep."

"I… I…" Blaine stuttered, his stomach squirming. It had been hard enough to tell Kurt… "I haven't even met his dad…" And Kurt's dad would tell his stepmom, and his stepmom would tell Finn, and Finn would blab to the kids at school, and everyone would know!

His rising panic had clearly projected, because Dad was over to him in a second, strong, sure hands resting comfortingly on Blaine's shoulders, "Breathe, Blaine, just breathe. It's okay. We were asking you for a reason."

"I just… I don't…" He had woken up feeling so good as well. But now reality and what might happen on Monday, and god he hasn't talked to Kurt properly since he told him the truth and what if he hated him and-

A bottle-brush tail swished softly against his leg, and strong hands continued to rub reassuringly at his arms while more delicate fingers brushed a lock of hair from his forehead. His thoughts began to slow, edging back away from the cliff he had nearly toppled off. When his breathing had evened out to his parents' satisfaction, his mom dropped a light kiss into his hair. "It's okay, it's always your choice who to tell. Just finish your breakfast, sweetheart. Don't forget that we're driving to Columbus today."

Blaine groaned. He had forgotten. Completely. He was due to meet with Dr Monroe at the Columbus Sense Clinic; they had scheduled it to be a month after Blaine had started back at school, a check up to see how he was doing. Although most decent sized towns in the USA had their own Sense Clinic, Blaine needed most specialist care, and so since their move to Lima, it meant a really long drive. Dr Monroe had been treating him since he was diagnosed, and while she was really nice, it didn't mean that Blaine had to like to sessions with her.

And so Blaine found himself in his room an hour later, gelling his hair while he chatted out loud to a disinterested Molly – she was far more invested in her staring contest with next door's dog from her perch on Blaine's windowsill, "-and it's not like she'll say anything different, either. Oh my god… what if she asks about Kurt? What do I say?" He wandered over to the window, looking down at the cheery mutt watching them from next door's back yard. "I think he likes you."

Molly was superiorly disdainful.

"Blaine! Five minutes!" Dad called from downstairs.

"Coming!" His reply was interrupted by his phone. The caller ID flashed Kurt's name, and he fumbled to answer, "Hello?"

"Hi!" Kurt's voice was, was happy? Or maybe just friendly. Or possibly falsely enthusiastic. Phone calls gave Blaine a headache. They were really difficult; he could hear the voice but couldn't read anything. Kurt probably loved them, because they worked in his favour, but for Blaine… engaging with people without emotions present was just plain weird. At least with Skype he could see the other person and read their emotions by watching facial expressions. Phone calls were so much harder to interpret. Like texts, but worse. "I just wanted to call, see how you were doing after, you know, everything yesterday."

"Oh! Yeah, yeah, I'm better. Are you… are I mean, how are you, I kinda just… I'm sorry, and I don't know I…" Blaine stumbled over his words badly, his head already spinning. He hated this. Normal short phone conversations like ordering pizza or arranging a meet up were fine, but stuff like this… he needed to know what the other person was thinking, feeling, doing. The patient (if it was patient) silence while Blaine's tongue tripped just made him more and more nervous.

"Hey, hey calm down are you okay?" Kurt's voice sounded concerned, worried, confused, sad, happy, angry, annoyed?

Blaine wanted to scream. This was horrible. "I don't really like talking on the phone…" Blaine's words tumbled out in a fast rush before he could second guess himself. "I can't feel…" He trailed off, hoping Kurt would get the idea.

But instead of simply understanding Blaine's predicament, there was a long pause and a sharp intake of breath. "But… I don't understand… why would that make a difference with me?" Confused, cautious, irritated, impatient? "Wait… Blaine, can you… can you feel..?" Hurt, fury, hatred, disgusted, fearful, repulsed, distrustful?

Blaine didn't know, he couldn't tell, he didn't want to know, "I have to go Kurt, sorry, doctor's appointment in Columbus. See you at school bye." He said it as fast as he could; hanging up before Kurt could say anything else, throwing his phone onto his bed as if it was a poisonous snake. He retreated to the windowsill, wrapping his arms around himself. The cell began ringing again immediately, but Blaine let it go to voicemail. As soon as it stopped, it started up again.

"Blaine? You ready to go?" Dad poked his head through the door, frowning. "Hey, you okay?"

Blaine nodded vigorously, "Yeah, let's go."

A sweep of doubt, a niggle of uncertainty, tingling concern settling, "Not going to answer that?"

"We'll be late, Dad, come on." Blaine ignored him. Just as he ignored his phone on the bed when it fell silent again for the third time.

As he walked out of his bedroom, he heard it beep cheerily with a text. He kept walking. He had already messed everything up with Kurt for good. No point reading about it.

Because now he understood. Kurt had always assumed that Blaine couldn't feel his emotions, the same as everyone else at school, but that unlike them, Blaine just didn't care.

Except that wasn't quite true, not really. Kurt was different, yes, but not silent, never silent, not to Blaine.

And now Kurt knew that, there was no way he would want someone as freaky as Blaine near him…

TBC

Chapter Text

The Columbus Sense Clinic was huge, a large too-chic annex to the main general hospital. Blaine hated it. He hated the clean lines, the attempt to make a calm atmosphere with a lick of white paint and a few chrome accents.

And worst, absolutely worst of all, he hated the divide.

The clinic had three entrances. There was the one for regular check-ups and appointments, where Blaine was directed, one for drop-ins, usually new parents bringing their kids, and the last one, for emergency intake. Of course, the divide was entirely necessary; lead-lined, the walls separating the three distinct areas of the clinic afforded its patients a certain level of control. It shielded young children getting tested from too many people. It isolated patients whose Sensitivity was severely affected by some sort of virus or illness. And it kept regular visitors like Blaine from being overwhelmed.

Or at least, that was the idea.

And sure, it worked. As Blaine sat on the plush leather sofa, he could stare at the wall in front of him and not sense a thing. Just his parents passing time chatting to the friendly receptionist, and the fluttery little nurse doing some paperwork behind the desk. No one else. No indication of what was going on elsewhere in the clinic. Sure, it was peaceful, but it was also so unknown.

Or rather, what made it worse for Blaine was that it wasn't unknown, not really. Because he had been on the other side of the divide, and not just as a young child getting tested for the first time.

"Hello Blaine!" A door opened to the side, a door that lead to a corridor that lead to the other side of the divide, where people's emotions were screaming and crying and burning and stabbing…

He cut himself off. Stop it. Stop it now.

But he couldn't help it. And with all the things that had happened with Kurt, and school, and life in general… Blaine didn't have the energy to pretend that the Clinic didn't freak him out a little bit. The only plus side about fretting over Kurt was the distraction it had offered him during the long car journey.

Why had he left his phone at home? At least then he would know for certain, at least then he could just cut all ties and hide away again.

"Blaine…" A spark of worry, a crackle of resignation.

Blaine blinked, glancing at his mom, before back to Dr Monroe. She was still smiling, unwavering. He liked her smile. It didn't hide anything, it just was. Of course it probably helped that she had undergone three years of sense training tagged onto her medical degree, but her presence always made these appointments just that little bit less horrible.

"Sorry. Hi." He offered what he hoped was an apologetic, positive smile. He could already tell by Dr Monroe's expression that she wasn't buying anything.

"Alright, shall we go inside?"

Blaine held back, for a second, watching as his parents started to follow his doctor into her office, the same way they had done countless times before. He knew the drill. They would all talk about his progress – or rather, his mom would talk at Dr Monroe for half an hour while his dad gave his occasion input. And then there would be the physical check up, followed by a brief question and answer session with Blaine while his parents sat on, offering their silent presence.

He hadn't planned it. He had no idea why he even opened his mouth, and he wasn't sure where the words were coming from even as the request was tumbling out. All he knew was that this is what he needed. A prickling certainty and, "I want to go in by myself."

Immediate, jarring offence, concern and confusion emulated from his parents and flooded Blaine, nearly sending him to sit back down again. To her credit, his doctor didn't even flinch, although he thought there was a flicker of resigned sadness lingering underneath the sweep of his parents' emotions.

"Is that a good idea?" His mom's response was so predictable it was nearly laughable.

"If that's what Blaine wants." His dad wrapped an arm around his wife, cutting her off before she could put up and proper fight. "We'll wait out here, won't we Emily?"

She wasn't happy, Blaine could feel it. Neither was his dad, but at least he was more comfortable to take a step back when Blaine asked for it.

Blaine avoided his parents' eyes as he trailed after his doctor. He wasn't even sure why he had asked…

"So." Dr Monroe started as she waited for Blaine to sit. Her office was sparse but welcoming; it didn't make a forced attempt to enforce calm. "Is everything okay at home? You've never had a problem with your parents joining us before."

"I d-don't…" Blaine stumbled. Was it wrong? Should they be here?

"Okay Blaine I need you to just take a pause, okay? You're over thinking again."

Blaine did as she asked, sitting down in the armchair across from his doctor. He focussed on the silence, on the gentle wash of calm that Dr Monroe projected subtly into the room to help him. When he felt that he had centred himself, he looked up to meet her patient, attentive gaze. "I just wanted to do this by myself." That was the simplest way of putting it, as far as he could figure out.

She nodded, her blonde hair catching in the afternoon sun as it covered the room in a warm glow. Blaine felt himself relax. He was safe here. "Okay. And why do you think that is? It's perfectly okay, of course. You're an old hand at these little visits, and you're sixteen. It's understandable."

Blaine shrugged, looking down to his hands. "They just worry a lot. I know this is just a normal check-up, just to make sure everything's going okay now I'm back at school, but…" He trailed off, and silence lapsed, but Dr Monroe didn't say anything. She just waited. Calm, warm, lulling… "I messed everything up."

And she didn't deny him. She didn't ignore his claim as exaggeration or teenage angst. She just nodded, "Did you want to talk about it?"

"Will you just repeat everything to Mom and Dad?" Blaine asked dully.

"No, Blaine. I won't. Because you are a minor, I will have to talk to your parents and give them my assessment of your progress. But whatever you tell me, I promise, I will not repeat outside of this room."

And that was all the reassurance Blaine needed to let it all spill out. He repeated everything he had told his dad the day before, and Cooper before he left, and his fears about Dalton and how he was worried his mom thought he was getting worse. He also told her about his new school, about how horrible the first week had been, about how scared he was but also how happy. About the glee club, and how he wished so much that he could join.

And about Kurt, and how Blaine had single-handedly ruined the best thing that had ever happened to him, because he was a freak and that's what he did.

"-and now… now I'm going to have to go back to like it was before Kurt, and I don't know how… I don't know how I can deal with that school without him, without being, being able to touch him… To touch another person who isn't obligated to not freak out because they're related to me!" A flicker of gentle admonition and Blaine groaned, burying his head in his hands. "I know, I know, they're my family and it's not an obligation… But sometimes it's just nice to get a hug from someone who's not related to me without there being a risk of me having a complete meltdown, or them… or them…" He choked. Even after two years, he still couldn't say it out loud.

"There is nothing wrong with wanting that, Blaine. It's perfectly natural, especially at your age. The love of our families is unconditional and always supportive, but often that isn't enough."

Blaine snorted, "Yeah, except I'm not natural."

"Really? I had no idea you were grown in a laboratory. I should update your medical records," Dr Monroe deadpanned.

Her easy dismissal drew a small smile from Blaine's lips. "I just… for one night, I thought that Kurt was okay with me. I thought Kurt understood…"

"Blaine I'm sure it's not like that… You said you barely talked to him this morning. You at least owe it to yourself – and to him – to talk about this face to face." A brush of sympathy, and a twist of curiosity, both blended together in an odd combination that made Blaine's toes itch. "How low exactly is Kurt? Do you know?"

"I don't… it's not my…" Blaine fidgeted. Sure, she was his doctor, but this was Kurt. And even if Kurt hated him now, he wasn't going to spill his ex-best friend's Sensitivity. That was private.

"Okay, I won't push for exact details. Can you at least give me an idea? Below one?" A nod. "A lot below one?"

"I don't want to talk about this anymore. Shouldn't you be weighing me or checking my blood sugar levels or something by now?"

Dr Monroe stared at him hard, for a long time. As sense doctors were trained to manipulate their emotional projections, Blaine had no clue what she was thinking. "Talk to him face to face, Blaine. Please. And yes, we should move onto your actual examination before your parents try to barge in here to rescue you."

The rest of the session passed in relative quiet as Blaine spent his time thinking over his doctor's advice. He allowed himself to be poked and prodded. He let her take blood samples and tut over his slightly below-average weight. And he sat there in uncomfortable muteness while his parents were given a brief rundown of his current state, which was thankfully as positive as he could really hope for under the circumstances.

He was doing okay, although he should eat more. In addition, while she needed to do the blood tests to be sure, she was worried Blaine might be a little anaemic. Still, it was to be expected at this point in his development so there wasn't a great cause for concern just yet. It was important to keep stress low, and to try and increase the regularity of daily physical contact if possible to help with stability. However, there was no reason as yet why Blaine should return to home schooling, and with any luck he would find that he would settle into it, although she would like to see him again in two months. Sooner, if something came up in the blood work.

Blaine had drifted through most of the doctor's spiel. It wasn't like he was a stranger to anything she was saying, and if he zoned out slightly there was less chance of being invaded by his mother's jittery, overwrought emotions.

She was still upset with him for making them both wait outside. She was trying to not project, but she was, and it just made Blaine's stomach twist with even more squirming unpleasantness and unaccountable nerves than it already was.

This mangled ball of iron and steel that took up residence within him didn't disperse after they left the Clinic, or on the too-quiet drive home.

But it did wrench and claw when the car pulled into their street and his mom broke the silence of the car, "Who on earth is that?"

There was a jarring swell of an emotion Blaine struggled to identify. It came from his dad, he knew that much, and it also worked to soften the metal inside him, carefully loosening the knots. "Blaine, I think you have a visitor."

"W-what?" Blaine's head jerked, slightly disorientated by the need to look outwards into the world instead of dwelling inwards.

Kurt. What the… Why was Kurt sitting on the Anderson porch? Why was Kurt standing up as the car pulled into the drive, his outfit wonderfully arranged, his hair as perfect as usual?

This wasn't right. This wasn't how things were supposed to happen.

Blaine hadn't had any time to think of a way to talk to Kurt about everything without it turning into a horribly embarrassing word vomit. He hadn't prepared an explanation. He didn't want this conversation to happen yet! He wasn't ready.

He wasn't ready to say goodbye.

"Good afternoon, Kurt. We weren't expecting to see you." Dad smiled easily and warmly at Kurt. Blaine didn't know what Kurt's face looked like. He was determined to look anywhere but.

"Yeah, sorry to just drop by like this, Mr and Mrs Anderson, but I just wanted to talk to Blaine, if I could?"

"It's nice to meet you, Kurt." Mom's voice was faint, but she collected herself well. Her emotions made Blaine's head spin, too rapid-fire to identify, and too-quickly smoothed over by a breeze of warm welcome from Dad.

"Well don't let us stop you. Why don't you guys go sit out back? It's a pretty nice afternoon for spring."

Blaine nodded dumbly. He couldn't move. Every muscle in his body was tense, a precursor to some sort of primal fight or flight response that was still undecided.

One moment too late, Blaine tried to pull away, because suddenly Kurt was right there, and his hand was slipping neatly into Blaine's own, his skin cool.

Blaine held his breath, waiting for it. Waiting, waiting. Waiting for an ebb of rejection, a swell of hate, a sucking betrayal trying to pull him under…

It never came. Kurt's hand remained in Blaine's, solid, peaceful. Gentle waves of positive emotions lapped at the shores of Blaine's mind, but never washed too far inland. Present, caressing, but never drowning, never flooding. Just there, a welcome presence of Kurt. Calm.

"Hi." There was a soft sadness to Kurt's voice, but the positive outlook never wavered.

"Hi." Blaine managed to mumble quietly.

"Are you going to look at me? Or are we just going to stand here in your drive for the rest of the day? I've already given your neighbours quite a lot to gossip about…" His wry tone drew a tiny smile to Blaine's lips.

"How long have you been waiting?"

"Well, when my best friend casually drops in that he has to go to the freaking doctor's, drops a massive bombshell about being able to sense me, and then refuses to answer his phone all day…" Kurt's tone dropped from sarcastic to slightly sheepish, "Let's just say I might have over reacted slightly. Come on…"

Kurt pulled Blaine gently by the hand, guiding him around the side of the house. Blaine could feel his nerves settle. Kurt was still touching him. Kurt wasn't running away!

"It wasn't anything serious, the doctor's. It was just a long drive. We'd had the appointment booked to check up on me, just to make sure I'm going okay being back at school and stuff…" Blaine felt the need to explain, to fill the quiet, now that he knew Kurt wasn't outright angry at him, "I left my phone at home. I… I freaked out. I thought, I thought after last night that you knew, and when I found out you didn't…"

"What?" Kurt sounded genuinely confused, but then he huffed. "Blaine. I am not having this conversation with the top of your perfectly gelled head. Look at me."

Kurt sat them down on the low step that separated the back patio with the lawn, and Blaine took a few seconds before finally, finally looking at Kurt's beautiful, open face, and connecting with those gorgeous ocean eyes. "I thought you'd freak out… once you knew that I could sense you, I thought you'd freak and yell at me and stop wanting to be near me, or, or worse!"

The hand that slotted loosely in Blaine's gave his a slight squeeze. "And what do you think now?"

Positive. Calm. Here.

"That I can be an idiot?" Blaine offered tentatively.

"Right." Kurt agreed with a smile dancing in his eyes and on his lips. "I'm not going anywhere Blaine. We freaks have to stick together."

"And you're not weirded out? That you're not silent to me?" Blaine had to know, he needed to put his last doubts to rest.

Kurt smiled shyly, "No, Blaine, I'm not, I promise. But… if it's not too weird for you, I… I'd really like you to tell me what it's like… to hear me. To hear everything. You're my best friend, and I want to know you."

Blaine swallowed, a slow blush creeping up his cheeks. He bit his lip, unable to stop the stupid wide grin plastering itself across his face, "O-okay…"

So he told Kurt about the ocean. He told him about the shore, and the waves, and the golden stars that danced on their waters.

And Kurt never let go of his hand.

TBC

Chapter Text

Blaine sat in the wide, empty auditorium, fingers skimming absently over ivory keys. Most of the time the doors were locked, or the huge room was all booked out and full of students. But every so often, he had the place to himself. Just him, a piano, and a cavernous silence to fill.

He loved it.

A warm feeling ghosted up his spine, a split second warning before Kurt slid into his peripheral vision. "Is that a new song?"

"Hey." Blaine smiled, his hands dropping to rest comfortably in his lap. "It's not a song really, just something I was messing with. Glee practice over?"

Kurt slipped in next to Blaine on the piano bench, their shoulders touching as the other boy's soft presence brushed reassuringly at the edges of Blaine's senses. "All done for the day. Drama and all. Where were you? You're feeling okay, aren't you? Just I thought you said you planned on joining us again."

It had been a little under two weeks since everything had come bursting out into the open between them, and Kurt was honestly amazing about it, but that didn't stop him worrying every now and again. Blaine shook his head, "I know, I'm sorry. I'm fine though, I promise. Did you guys do okay without me?"

"Yeah, Brad was there for once. And don't worry about it. Sure, I love having you during glee, but you're not a singer. You're not going to face Schue's wrath if you miss a practice," Kurt smirked wryly. Blaine had been playing piano for the glee club for a while now. He was good – good enough to sight read what they wanted him to – and it was either that or have Rachel Berry stalk him for the rest of the school year. She hadn't left him alone once the fervour of Regionals had died down, and he had decided that in the long run, it was probably just easier to go with it.

He wouldn't sing, but he would still help. And spending even more time with Kurt was just a happy bonus.

"I really did mean on joining you today, I swear." Blaine grimaced. "I even got as far as the choir room. But then Rachel came in and just, wow, no."

"Ah." Kurt nodded sagely. "You picked up on the Rachel-logic step of 'my boyfriend nearly breaks my nose so this is the perfect opportunity for a nose job!' then did you? Yeah, we all sat through that today."

Blaine blinked. "Well, that explains a lot. She didn't tell me. Her emotions were really negative as soon as she entered the choir room, and then my nose just would not stop itching! I thought maybe it had something to do with the physical pain she was in, but obviously not…"

Kurt burst out laughing, "She made your nose itch?"

"It's not funny!" Blaine argued back defensively, although it was hard to keep a smile from quirking at his lips. "Have you any idea how annoying it is to have an itchy nose without there being anything you can do to stop it, because it isn't even your itch?"

"How does that even work?" Kurt snorted.

"I don't know, it's like an obsession, I guess. Rachel was insecure and couldn't stop thinking about her nose. It made my nerves twitchy. It's like last week when the cafeteria ran out of tater tots. Half the school was going through a serious craving, and I actually had to get my mom to go and buy some for dinner that night because I couldn't stop wanting them. And the worst thing is I don't even particularly like them!" Blaine ranted, hands gesturing emphatically.

Kurt patted his knee sympathetically, "Maybe we should keep you away from Rachel until she gets over this. I like your nose, and I don't want you do to anything rash like joining Rachel in some creepy plastic surgeon's office."

Blaine found himself blushing slightly at Kurt's offhand comment, his stomach squirming pleasantly. "Thanks. I umm… I like your nose too. And mine, I do like mine, even when it itches and I really don't want it to change…"

Kurt laughed as Blaine babbled like an idiot again, bumping their shoulders, "Come on. I'll buy you coffee."

And if Kurt's cheeks were slightly stained with rose from the compliment, Blaine liked to hope it wasn't just his own wishful thinking.

00000

Blaine put a considerable amount of effort into avoiding the glee club's drama that week. It was always pretty off the wall, but this week was shaping up to be especially intense, with far too much self-analysis and self-loathing for Blaine's comfort. It made him nervous and uncomfortable, as he became increasingly unsure of his ability to separate his own emotions from those of his classmates.

Kurt was of course unwavering, a steady calming presence, and not just for Blaine either. It seemed like everyone else's meltdown was giving Kurt a sort of empowerment and sense of self-worth. Blaine had always seen it in him, of course, but it was nice to see Kurt embracing how amazing he really was, rather than letting himself fade to the background.

Of course, this inevitably reached its climax in the choir room towards the middle of the week. Blaine had decided to join the practice, partially to try and show support for his new friends, but mostly because Kurt had been a particularly strong and calming presence that day, and Blaine felt stable enough to sit on the sidelines and watch the drama unfold.

And by drama, Blaine meant watching Kurt tear into Mr Schue with words so sharp he was surprised the teacher wasn't a bloody mess on the floor.

"I. Don't. Care." Kurt pronounced in his precise, cold tone. "I don't care if this is me being selfish or diva-ish. You cannot just stand there and preach about acceptance and believing in ourselves while at the same time refusing me because of what I am."

"Kurt, I understand your frustration, but you have to understand-"

"No Mr Schue. You understand. I will never sing and physically fill an audience with my emotions. But so what? I can sing, and I am freaking amazing! You are discriminating against me for something I can't control, for how I was born! And I am sick of it."

"Yeah, Kurt's right Mr Schue!" Finn joined his support. "His voices rocks, why don't you ever let him have solos?"

"It is very hypocritical of you." Quinn nodded primly.

"I don't see why Kurt can't do the song opening." Even Rachel lent her voice in support, although she did quickly follow it up with, "After all, we have to make sure that we support the weaker members of the group, and the best way to do that is with songs we're not going to use at Nationals."

"Don't even go there, Berry. I will destroy you." Kurt snapped back.

Mr Schue seemed torn, but before everything could descend into a bloodbath, Miss Pillsbury stepped neatly forwards. She had been helping the club with that week's assignment. "I think it's a wonderful idea. What better way to celebrate difference than have one of our own especially unique students sing for us?"

And that was the end of the matter. Blaine was both ecstatic for Kurt, and happy that it meant they could both get out of there. And after the news, Kurt just seemed to glow with joy. The sight made Blaine's stomach squirm pleasantly, and his heart beat that little bit faster. He was going to get to watch Kurt open and perform in a massive number, rather than just hideaway in the background. Considering how incredible Kurt was as a backing vocalist… Blaine knew he was going to watch Kurt shine.

Unfortunately, this opening solo also meant that Blaine didn't get to see much of Kurt the next few days, or even after school. He was rehearsing endlessly, determined that his performance would be flawless. Blaine found it lonely at times, but he understood how important this was to Kurt, and how excited he was.

Nevertheless, when during Friday lunch break Kurt pulled Blaine into an empty classroom, Blaine was so happy to have Kurt's hand in his own once more.

"Okay, so… I need your advice." Kurt sounded nervous as he closed the door and perched on the edge of one of the desks, worrying his hands in front of him.

Blaine frowned, pulling out a chair from under another desk and taking a seat, "Of course, Kurt. You know I'm always here."

"I just…" Kurt sighed, frustrated. "You're the only person I know who will understand… I can't ask the girls about this."

"Kurt, whatever it is…" Blaine trailed off, hiding his nerves as they wriggled like worms in his chest.

"It's the t-shirts." Kurt blurted out.

Blaine blinked. "I'm sorry?"

"The t-shirts. The ones we have to make to wear at the performance today. They're supposed to say the part of ourselves that we've accepted and learnt to love…"

"Right…? Kurt you're going to have to help me out a little here."

Kurt twisted, pulling his bag around on his shoulder, and removed a bundle of white cloth. "Well, I made mine. I made… I made two. But I'm not sure I'm brave enough to wear the one I want to wear."

"Kurt, you're the bravest person I know." Blaine refuted quietly, honestly. "Show me? Please?"

"This is the first one I thought of." Kurt pulled open the first shirt, shaking it out to show Blaine the large letters emblazoned in bold on the front.

LIKES BOYS

Blaine grinned, "Well, it's definitely you."

"It is…" Kurt agreed slowly.

"But?"

"Well, okay, yes it's a big part of me, and yes, it makes me different. But… I've always accepted it, you know? It's never been a massive issue at school because my ES level kept the bullies away, and my Dad… well he's always been amazing about it. Yes, it's me, and yes, it makes me special, and I'm proud of that. But… I think a part of me will feel like I'm cheating, if I wear it." Kurt looked down, slightly fiddling with the material between his fingers.

"Okay," Blaine said gently, rising to his feet to take the t-shirt from Kurt's hands, setting it on the desk next to them. "And the one you really want to wear?"

Kurt's hands were shaking slightly as he unfolded the other t-shirt. Blaine's breath caught in his throat and his stomach tightened in terror when he saw what it said.

No words. Just a number.

0.5

"I know." Kurt murmured when Blaine didn't say anything for a very long time. Because Blaine couldn't say anything. Because Kurt was proposing broadcasting his ES level to potentially the entire student body of McKinley, if the school's rumour mill was as rampant as Blaine knew it to be, and that was just terrifying.

"Kurt…" Blaine choked, "W-why would you… Just… why?"

"Because it's me." Kurt shrugged simply. "I know that they're meant to be something secret, something private, but are they really? It's not like the entire school can't make a pretty damn good guess. I'm just sick of it hanging over me. I'm sick of one little number, one tiny abstract measurement defining me, defining my life and how other people treat me. I don't want that anymore. Since I met you, Blaine, I have never felt so alive, so human. I guess you finally made me realise that my ES level doesn't have to control my life if I don't let it."

The passion in Kurt's voice. The sheer conviction… Blaine couldn't bear to tell him what he wanted to say. He wanted to beg him not to do it, he wanted to ask him to wear the other t-shirt, the simple one. But he couldn't, how could he?

Kurt wasn't Blaine. He wasn't weak, he wasn't pathetic or broken. He was a force of nature.

What happened to Blaine wouldn't happen to Kurt; he really believed that, deep down. If only because Blaine would be there, along with the rest of the glee club.

"You're amazing." It wasn't any kind of advice, pointing to one decision over the other. It was the best, most truthful answer Blaine could give.

Because Kurt had already made up his mind, Blaine saw that. He had just wanted to share it with Blaine first.

And it was then that Blaine decided that if Kurt could be brave, then so could he. Maybe not quite so bold, but certainly more than he had ever dared to do at this school.

The performance would certainly be one to remember.

00000

Blaine tugged nervously on his buttoned up cardigan as he settled himself in the front row of the auditorium. The lights were low, the curtains down. While he knew what song the glee club were performing, he hadn't sat in on any of their rehearsals.

This had been such a stupid idea. Why had he put it on? He couldn't even just leave it hidden, because Kurt would know. They all would! It wasn't like the cardigan was that long, and the white cheap cotton of his t-shirt underneath was plainly obvious. But he had wanted to be a part of something, he had wanted to support Kurt in his bravery…

Idiot.

It's not too late. Leave. Leave now.

But Kurt… Kurt's solo, his big reveal… Blaine couldn't leave. He wouldn't.

Music suddenly swelled, and Blaine's head snapped up. When had Kurt walked on stage?

And when the hell had Kurt ever looked like that? Because… wow, okay. Definitely less nervous now.

Kurt was so confident. So breathtaking and incredible and gorgeous and yes, Blaine was definitely in love with his best friend and he was so, so screwed…

Then Kurt opened his mouth, and Blaine's breath was punched from his chest.

Courage.

The emotion flooded Blaine with the force of a tsunami, rising to a swell of light as Tina and Mercedes joined their friend on stage.

Pride.

Kurt was amazing. He was perfect, and beautiful, and his voice…

Hope.

This was why Blaine loved to watch the New Directions.

Strength.

This was why he loved music. The way it weaved a delicate path along his nerves, thrumming in his chest in a way that blended so perfectly with his own heartbeat. The way the emotions threaded their story through the voices of the singers, Kurt's the most powerful of them all.

Love.

Love to dance. Love to sing. Love people. Just love. It filled Blaine until he found himself standing, unable to help himself, a grin plastered across his face. His whole body sang with the energy of his friends, and the bravery they showed as they accepted everything that they were. Everything that their friends were.

Defiance.

No one had even blinked when Kurt's t-shirt had been revealed. No one balked to dance near him as the emotions swelled high.

Confidence.

Blaine was nearly dizzy as he suddenly found himself on stage. But then Kurt's strong arms were looped solidly around his torso, and his feet were steady again. For a moment, the pair of them existed in their own little island, as Blaine removed his cardigan to reveal the t-shirt he had borrowed that afternoon.

Joy.

The song built within and without; louder, higher, faster, stronger.

Power.

And when it finally dropped away, and the group were standing there laughing, Blaine just allowed himself to fall back slightly against Kurt's chest, giddy and grinning like an idiot, all nerves forgotten.

"I can't believe you stole my shirt." Kurt grinned at Blaine, breathless from the performance.

Blaine shrugged with a smile, glancing down in half disbelief at the words LIKES BOYS on his chest. "It seemed appropriate." Was that flirting? Had he just flirted with his best friend while half slumped in said best friend's arms?

"Hey Anderson!" Puck yelled from across the stage, his voice drawing attention from the others as well. Blaine jumped slightly, pulled from his bubble. He automatically tugged at the long sleeves of the top he had worn underneath his t-shirt to cover his hands. "Nice of you to join us."

Acceptance.

TBC

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you want to come?" Kurt worried his lip between his teeth. It was the third time he had asked since he had picked Blaine up.

Blaine rolled his eyes good naturedly, "I am. Really. You're going to be there the entire time, I feel great, and… I don't know, it's really nice to be asked? It's like I'm almost normal."

"You are normal." Kurt responded automatically. He pulled his car into Rachel's drive. Mercedes and Tina were already here by the looks of it; the girls lived on the same street, and had both been planning to arrive in Mercedes' car.

Rachel had taken it upon herself to have a 'team-building' sleepover in the run up to Nationals, and had invited all the girls around her house. Kurt had automatically fallen into the same category in Rachel's mind, and then Santana had insisted that seeing as Blaine had recently outed himself to the group at their recent performance of Born This Way, he had to come too. Kurt hadn't liked the way she had eyed them both when she had issued that particular demand – the fact that the unholy trinity had agreed to come at all made him particularly suspicious – but Blaine had been really excited to be included, and had persuaded Kurt to let it go after much cajoling. His parents weren't letting him stay the night, but it was a step in a really positive direction for him.

Blaine was determined to be normal. He could do this. One evening surrounded by the New Directions girls without anything going wrong, or him acting like a freak, or his stupid Sensitivity going haywire. One evening.

In hindsight, Blaine could only bitterly marvel at how stupidly naïve and optimistic he had been. He should know better by now.

Everything had started off great. Blaine made sure to stick close to Kurt, and not to let his skin touch any of the girls' in case their emotions set him off. There were snacks and drink (of the non-alcoholic variety, much to Santana's disgust), and even some impromptu singing.

However, inevitably conversations of shallow topics were exhausted rather quickly, much to Santana's delight and Rachel's chagrin. This had resulted in everyone sitting in a circle, and Blaine's intense desire to be swallowed up by the carpet never to be seen again.

He wrapped his arms around his knees, drawing them close to his chest. He was sitting between Kurt and Tina, carefully placed perfectly in the centre between the two of them, not touching either. Kurt didn't look impressed at the sudden change in topic. He hadn't minded when they had been all watching Quinn as she skilfully made Rachel as uncomfortable as possible, but now the girls had moved onto a different subject.

First kisses.

"When I kissed Mike for the first time, it was so right, you know? Like with Artie, it was good, but there wasn't anything there." Tina smiled, her reminiscing emotions sparkling through Blaine, loosening the horrible knot that had formed within him. "I thought it was all a load of crap, that stuff about your first kiss clicking, about it being something amazing. But it just turned out I hadn't found the right guy."

"I don't believe in that soulmate myth, but I agree that there has to be that first connection. It's all about emotional compatibility." Quinn nodded sagely, before adding snidely, "How was your first kiss with Finn, Rachel?"

Rachel blushed deeply, but returned primly, "I believe that kind of thing is private, Quinn, thank you."

"Well I think it's all rubbish." Mercedes shook her head. "Don't get me wrong, I'm all for that connection. But I'm not gonna turn down a boy just 'cause he don't make my Sensitivity turn on some light bulb in my head."

"Says the girl who's single." Santana smirked. "What about you boys? No first kiss stories to share?"

Blaine's breath caught in his throat, his muscles tensing. Don't speak, don't speak. The intense desire to run flooded his body, and all this talk of first kisses, and connections and sparks… it wasn't something he wanted to think about right now. It wasn't something he wanted to revisit, not in front of all these people.

He wanted to look to the future, and okay, maybe kisses and Kurt might feature heavily in those dreams, but that wasn't what he was thinking of right now.

Kurt scowled darkly, "Yeah, sure Santana, let's look at my love life shall we? We all know that I've never kissed anyone." The other boy was actually angry, Blaine could tell.

"Seriously? You're telling me that you two haven't got it on yet?" Brittany blinked at both of them matter-of-factly, her flighty emotions skittering like ribbons of light against Blaine's skin."What have you been doing?"

"What about you, Blaine? You got virgin lips too? Or have you got some sort of reputation pre-McKinley that you're keeping from us?" Santana persisted, her curiosity pressing down on him, suffocating, cloying, and full of a purpose Blaine couldn't identify.

The instinct in Blaine snapped, and he was on his feet before he could even blink. He couldn't breathe; the air in the room was thick, burning his throat and stinging at his eyes. He managed to mutter something about his parents coming to pick him up soon to Rachel, before dashing up the stairs from the basement.

He stumbled out into the cool night air, swaying slightly as he managed to bring himself to a halt on the porch. Belatedly, he realised that he was standing outside the Berry household in nothing thicker than a cardigan, and was missing his shoes.

The air wasn't burning anymore, but his eyes were still stinging, his vision blurred.

A hand caught his arm, and Blaine flinched violently back, wrenching his arm away as he staggered backwards, eyes wild.

Kurt was standing there, staring at him with a look that was a horrible mixture of concern and hurt at Blaine's reaction.

Freak.

"Hey. Are you okay?" Kurt asked carefully.

Blaine shook his head, not trusting himself to speak. His throat was too tight, and it just wasn't fair because stupid gossiping about stupid first kisses shouldn't do this to him! He was over it!

"I know Santana can be a bit of a bitch, but I don't think she meant to upset you." Kurt's voice was soothing against Blaine's raw nerves. The other boy cocked his head slightly, quirking a shy smile. "I think she's got too much time on her hands, so keeps trying to meddle in other people's love lives a little too much. Blaine… look, I haven't ever kissed anyone either. It's not like there are that many boys in Ohio who fit the requirements, and on top of that there's my ES level. But it's something I accepted a long time ago, and I know there's nothing to be ashamed of. So please don't hide from me."

"Amy Fleming." Blaine surprised himself with his words, but they had just spilled out unbidden.

"I'm sorry?" Kurt asked, confused.

"I have kissed someone before. Amy Fleming. She was my best friend for ten years, we were neighbours, we went to school together, and when we were fourteen, she kissed me." Blaine's voice sounded hollow to his ears, and maybe that was appropriate, because that was precisely how he felt. It was as if all emotion had been sucked from him, leaving behind only an empty shell of a boy.

"Really?" Kurt's voice was cautious, wary, as if he wasn't sure how to equate the simplicity of Blaine's words with the other boy's behaviour. "A girl? Is… is that how you realised you were gay?"

Blaine shook his head. This was a bad idea, opening old wounds. He didn't want Kurt to know, he didn't want to tell him. He wanted to go home.

But in the back of his mind, a little voice crept, whispering conviction, because if Blaine was honest with himself, then he knew for a fact that he desperately wanted to kiss Kurt, preferably sooner rather than later. Except he couldn't. Not yet. Not with this secret hanging over him. Kurt had to know, because then he could decide if he wanted to kiss Blaine in return.

Kurt shivered, "Do you want to go back inside? If I'm cold, your feet must be freezing off! We don't have to go back downstairs, we can stay up here and talk, if you like."

Kurt was so patient, so kind, so warming… Blaine shouldn't tell him. But he should. "Can we sit in your car?" If he was going to do this, then he wasn't going to let anyone overhear. Besides, this way he wouldn't have to look at Kurt while he spoke.

"I… sure, of course Blaine, whatever you want." Kurt was clearly worried. Blaine felt guilty. That was all he ever seemed to be doing; worrying Kurt.

Kurt fished his keys out of his pocket, closing the Berry's front door behind him as he led the way back to his car. Detachedly, Blaine was grateful there wasn't any gravel. Settling in the car, Kurt turned the heating on low to make them a little warmer, before twisting onto his side to lean his shoulder against the back of the driver's seat, drawing his legs up beneath him.

Blaine in contrast kept his body stiff, hands folded neatly in his lap, a little island all of his own. He stared at a random spot on the dash, determined to just get it all out in the open as quickly as possible without revisiting any of the old memories.

It was only words. A story. A nightmare fable that happened to a nameless boy.

"I came out when I was thirteen to my family, but it was a while before I had the courage to tell anyone else. I was scared, I guess. But Amy was my best friend, we told each other everything. She… she even knew my ES level. Our families sat her down and explained what it meant. So, so I told her."

Blaine's stomach twisted. He remembered being so nervous. Telling his family had been one thing; sure he had been terrified of rejection from them, but there was something extra scary about telling your friends. Because family, you don't have a choice over, but friends, they always say friends are the family you choose. Amy had been his family.

"She… I don't think she really understood. She didn't talk to me for days… and when she did, she was… it's hard to describe, but I could feel it. She was empty to me. Things got better as the weeks went on, but sometimes things just felt off. And then, then my school advertised a dance. A Sadie Hawkins dance, you know it?"

"Girls ask the boys." Kurt filled in quietly, his voice unreadable.

"Right. By that time, the whole school knew I was gay. I hadn't wanted to hide myself, even when Amy's initial reaction had been less than great. But then she asked me to go with her. As friends. She gave this big speech, apologising for her reaction, saying how she hadn't seen it coming, and had needed some time to adjust." Blaine smiled hollowly. "I remember being so happy, and of course I agreed."

Her dress had been black, he remembered that, with a yellow silk flower twisted up into her hair. He could remember her face, every detail. Her smile, her laugh…

Her lips, her hands, her attraction, her scream…

"We had a great time, and then near the end of the evening, we went outside. There were a few other kids there too, waiting for rides or just making out where teachers wouldn't see. And then… and then she started saying all these weird things…" Blaine's voice choked, and his hands twisted. Until suddenly Kurt's hand was there too, his warm fingers entwining with Blaine's. Calm. Breathe.

"Blaine…" Kurt didn't have more to say than that. Maybe he didn't know how to continue.

Blaine wasn't even sure he did, but somehow he managed to get the words to form. "Did you know there's a cure for being gay?" His question came out more biting than he intended. "It's all about emotional manipulation, about finding the 'afflicted' the right person."

"You're just confused, Blaine, I know you, this isn't you. I promise, I can help you. Please let me help you… With an ES level as high as yours, there's a real chance for you!"

"That's insane." Kurt wasn't able to hold his tongue at that. The very idea that being gay was something that needed to be 'cured' was repulsive enough, let alone people using the empathic sense to manipulate such a thing.

"Amy didn't think so. She kissed me to try and prove it."

Hands, lips, skin, heat. It crawled over Blaine's skin as if it had been yesterday. Her lips pressed to his, her tongue was forcing its way into in his mouth, and Blaine's senses completely blurred. What Amy felt, he felt, and what she made him feel, so she sensed back in turn. Building and building and building to a crescendo, both of them locked in a feedback loop of uncontrollable emotions and rising lust.

"And I kissed back. I remember that much. I couldn't help it. And what's worse, is I remember liking it. Except, I didn't, it was her. It was all her, all her desires, all her emotions, and I was just… lost. Gone. I don't remember anything more than that." Blaine shrugged. "They told me later that Cooper pulled us apart. He had come home for the weekend and insisted on chaperoning the dance. Apparently as soon as we broke contact, I just started screaming. That was my first empathic episode. They had to put me in a medically induced coma for two weeks until my brain chemistry stabilised…"

"Oh my god, Blaine…" Kurt's voice was choked, and Blaine finally risked a glance. The other boy was still beautiful, even with tears running down his cheeks, his pale skin red and blotchy. "I had no idea… I mean, I guessed something must have happened for you to start homeschooling but I just figured… I don't know… nothing like that…"

"I wanted you to know." Blaine murmured softly. He felt oddly liberated, telling Kurt everything. His friend nodded, swallowing harshly, and Blaine's phone buzzed in his pocket. "My dad's going to be here soon… I should get my shoes… Thanks… thanks for listening…"

"It wasn't real." Kurt blurted out suddenly, just as Blaine twisted to get the door handle. He rushed to clarify, his voice fierce. "I mean, yes, it was real and horrible and should never have happened to you… especially you. But it shouldn't count. Not as your first kiss. You shouldn't let it count. Like you said, it wasn't you."

Blaine's throat tightened, Kurt's words sitting warm in his chest. The air in the car seemed to freeze for one breath of a moment, before it shattered, and Blaine shrugged helplessly. "I'd like to think that's true."

He got out of the car, leaving Kurt behind.

TBC

Chapter Text

John held the front door open, keeping a painfully careful distance as his son followed him into the large house, Cooper trailing in after them both. He set the holdall of clothes down in the hallway amidst a veritable mountain of unpacked cardboard boxes and anonymous bubble-wrapped items. "Here we are."

Blaine didn't say anything, and what was worse, John didn't expect him to. He had begun to give up hoping.

It had been a little over a month since his youngest son had finally opened his eyes. That image of Blaine would be seared into his father's memory until the day he died. His tiny body, swallowed by off-white hospital sheets, his dark hair a messy contrast that only served to emphasize how sallow his skin was. And the wires. So many wires, tubes, drips. Beeping machines, monotonous in the too-quiet hospital room.

John had always known that Blaine's teenage years would be hard, but he had never expected… none of them had… If Cooper hadn't been there…

The worst part was how it had happened. Of who it had been, to trigger Blaine's first episode. They had been so careful, so prepared. John had lost count of the amount of pamphlets and preparatory sessions with doctors the family had sat through. They had been warned to look out for possible triggers, or signs that Blaine might be falling too deeply into his empathic sense. When children such as Blaine hit puberty, it was anyone's guess how their senses would adjust and change.

But Blaine was fourteen, and had until now barely shown any signs of distress. The careful regime of loving contact and touch the family had established when he had been diagnosed had kept him so stable that they had actually begun to believe that he might be that one in a million chance. That he would beat the odds.

They had begun to forget that Blaine's ES level essentially made him a ticking time bomb.

And now that time had run out.

The doctors had been full of false cheer and positivity, of course. Blaine's only fourteen, an episode such as this is scary, but manageable… The coma is for his own benefit, there is no lasting damage, you needn't worry, we know what we're doing… There are some excellent facilities for children like Blaine, where he can live like any other child his age… Has Dr Monroe ever mentioned Dalton Academy to you?

Their simpering smiles and false sympathy made John feel ill just thinking about it. He had been so glad to get Blaine home, even if it wasn't the home any of them had known.

Prior to the incident, the family had lived in a town very close to Columbus, where John worked. It was a lovely family home, and neither Blaine nor Cooper had known any different. But John would be damned if he allowed Blaine anywhere near that town again, with its poisonous memories and painful dead friendships. He had wanted to move out of Ohio completely, but that option hadn't been viable. The Andersons trusted Blaine's doctor at the Columbus Sense Clinic, and if Emily was going to quit her job as a middle school teacher to home school Blaine, John needed to stay in his high-paid job.

Which brought them to their new home, in Lima Ohio. They had done as much as they could in the time allowed, balancing staying with Blaine in the hospital against uprooting their lives, but the family was still essentially living out of boxes.

"Blaine! Sweetheart, it's so good to see you home!" Emily swept into the hall, a positive burst of happiness, tainted by an undercurrent of worry, despair and anguish. His wife had never been very good at controlling her emotional projection around Blaine, but it had never been a real issue until now.

"We made good time from Columbus." John said casually, pretending that he didn't notice how Blaine flinched back before his own mother could touch him, or how Emily faltered at the last moment, her arms stuttering uselessly in midair.

Not only had Blaine stayed silent since he woke up, but he also refused touch. Any attempt to get near him was met with at best quiet rejection, and at worse, horrible wordless screaming. The first few days after he had been woken had been nightmarish, as nurses and doctors were forced to act against his screams just so they could treat him.

That was until they realised that his older brother was exempt from Blaine's terror. The doctors speculated that it had something to do with Cooper's role that night, but to be frank, John couldn't care less. All he knew was that his eldest son had stepped up magnificently, and that if it wasn't for Cooper, Blaine would still be in the hospital's care right now.

Cooper tried to save them from the painful moment, "Something smells great, Mom, is that dinner?"

"I…" John watched with a heavy heart as his wife forced herself to look away from her youngest son and pull a smile onto her lips to answer Cooper. "Yes. I was just about to dish up. You boys head into the dining room."

No one moved. Everyone was waiting for Blaine. John reached out with his sense to try and get some kind of read on him, but there was nothing. Just a dark cloud, an empty chasm of nothingness, a listless disconnect.

Blaine shuffled his feet, looking down, and then up towards the stairs before folding his arms across his body and hunching into himself.

John had never felt so helpless as he felt his heart break in tandem with his wife's.

Cooper slid around them, carefully placing himself in full view of Blaine before ever so slowly bringing his hand up to rest on his little brother's shoulder. There was a visible intake of breath as Blaine clearly struggled not to react, but he didn't flinch away. "Or I could show you your room? We've only set up the furniture and stuff – Mom thought you'd like to sort it out properly yourself until you're feeling well enough to start up with school work again."

Blaine bit his lip, glancing for a moment to his parents, before nodding and following his brother up the stairs.

As soon as the boys were out of sight, Emily crumpled. "Oh god I can't do this."

Panic, self-loathing, failure, terror, anxiety… all of her emotions slipped through John's fingers like water, too fluid to grasp, too slippery to fully take on board.

Burying his own fear down deep, he wrapped his arms around his wife. She clung onto his shirt, her breath shuddering as she tried to stop herself from succumbing to tears. "I thought once we got him out of that, that place, he would be better, but god… I can't even hold him! He's my baby and I can't touch him without hurting him!"

"I know, honey, I know…" He could only murmur empty placations. That was all he was good for, all he had been able to do since they had got the call from Cooper that night to tell them what had happened. "We'll think of something, I promise. Blaine is stronger than this, you know he is."

He felt her nod softly against his chest.

Now if only he could convince himself.

00000

"What are these?" John stormed into the bedroom, throwing the offending items onto the bed as if they were poisonous.

His wife stared at them for a moment, and then turned a steely gaze to him. "Don't look at me like that. Don't try and pin me as the bad guy. You can't tell me you haven't been thinking about this too."

"About sending our son away? No! No I haven't!" He knew he was yelling. He knew Blaine might overhear them. He didn't care.

"They can help him there! We're not doctors John, we're not specialists! We are so out of our depth here and-"

"We're his parents! We're better than any damn doctor or specialist!"

"Well that's all very well and good for you!" Suddenly Emily was on her feet, screaming, her emotions setting fire to the air between them, "You're not with him every day of the week! You get to go to work; you only have to deal with him on the evenings and weekends, on his good days! I'm with him every second of the damn day and I can't take this anymore!"

John stood there and stared. The last time he had seen Emily lose it like this had been when Blaine had been diagnosed.

Her hands shook as she ran a hand through her hair, as she covered her mouth in an attempt to stem the tears and take back the screams.

Finally, he managed to draw together enough words to speak to her without saying something he might have regretted. "I won't talk to you about this right now. But I also won't move on this. We'll figure something else out. I think maybe you need a break. Go stay with your sister this Friday for a long weekend. I can work from home."

She didn't say anything, so he turned on his heel, dumping the offending prospectuses in the bin on his way out.

He didn't fail to notice the crack in Blaine's door where his son was peeking out. Their eyes connected, but there were no emotions exchanged.

Empty.

And then Blaine just slipped slowly, silently, back into his bedroom.

John sighed, and followed.

"Blaine?" Blaine was curled up on his bed, legs folded neatly underneath him, hands cradled in his lap, head bowed. "I'm sorry you had to hear that. Your mom's just a little… stressed at the moment. Can I sit down?"

Blaine nodded, hunching further. "My fault..." The words were a mumble, a bare breath of a whisper, but this was Blaine on a good day. Before Cooper was forced to return to New York by his parents, he had at least managed to coax Blaine into speaking in few, precious words. Touch was still forbidden though, even after three months.

"No, no bug, no. It's not your fault." John desperately wanted to take Blaine into his arms and just hold him, but he couldn't.

So he did what he always did, and talked. "You missed the game last night. It was a great one, right from the start, let me tell you…"

00000

This was either going to work miracles, or end horribly, possibly even in divorce when his wife returned from her trip with her sister.

Except every time that horrible thought crossed John's mind, he only had to think of their argument, and Blaine's face afterwards. He had to try. At this point, he was willing to give anything a go, even if there was only the tiniest possibility that it could help.

The idea had been planted in his head a few weeks ago. He had been talking to a work colleague, Robert Pierce. A great guy, with a daughter of his own, who also happened to be slightly above the norm on the Hawkins Scale. She was nowhere near the level of Blaine of course, but it was enough that sometimes things could get hard for the poor kid.

Somehow they had gotten to talking about their children, and while John was very tight-lipped when it came to talking about Blaine, he had been happy to share about Cooper, and Robert was a very open, chatty person. He clearly loved his daughter, and was a lot more liberal with his conversation topics that John tended to be, especially since Blaine's episode.

"It was my wife's idea. Don't get me wrong, the damned creature gives me the creeps most of the time, and sometimes listening to Britt talk to it like a person is a little disconcerting, but it's unbelievable how much it helps. Way I figure, they're our kids, you know? And what's the point of living in the twenty-first century if we still hold on to these ridiculous superstitions?"

"Blaine?" John knocked softly on Blaine's bedroom door. The woman had just left; he had paid her extra to deliver when he had visited her earlier that week. Blaine still wasn't stable enough to be left alone for any period of time.

Blaine was sitting up in bed, rubbing his eyes. He slept a lot more these days, although John was unsure how much of that was being a teenager, and how much was hiding from the world. He blinked up sleepily at his father, but didn't voice a greeting.

John sat down on his son's bed. "So. I know things have been hard, and I know you find it hard to be close to your mom and me a lot of the time. We don't blame you!" John rushed to reassure Blaine, "But I thought you could use some company; someone who you can touch and hug and not worry about."

Blaine's brow creased, and there was the barest flicker of confusion in the dense grey smog of nothingness that normally shrouded him.

John reached into his sweater, and pulled out a tiny grey ball of fur. The little kitten tumbled gracelessly onto the comforter, voicing a disgruntled mew, her tail twitching.

Blaine stared unmoving at the tiny creature as she shook herself and blinked her bright blue eyes, surveying the room and the big people. And then she twitched, hopping forwards to bump her nose on the back of Blaine's hand, mewing again, more persistent this time.

"I think she wants to play." John murmured softly, unable to keep a smile from his lips as the bold little kitten began to try and explore Blaine's lap. "She's all yours. You'll have to think of a name."

The kitten tumbled accidentally off Blaine's lap, but righted herself immediately. John watched as this time, Blaine held out his hand to her. She batted his fingers with her paw and Blaine, Blaine smiled.

It was the tiniest quirking of lips, the smallest bright ember of happiness. But it was there.

He even introduced himself to the animal, as if she could understand every word. "Hi kitten. My name's Blaine."

The kitten just started trying to eat the sleeve of his pyjama top, but Blaine's smile widened, as if she had replied.

So when, two days later, John greeted his wife back into the house with a kiss on the cheek, all he had to do was beckon her silently to the living room.

He would never forget the overwhelming flood of emotions that crashed over Emily, when she saw Blaine.

He was by no means his old self, but he was Blaine, more than just a living shadow. He was their son, sitting crossed-legged on the rug, playing with a piece of string and a hyperactive kitten, a smile on his face.

"Blaine. Your mother's home." John prompted, breaking into the bubble of boy and kitten.

Blaine's head snapped up, but his smile stayed where it was, softer, shyer. "Hi Mom."

John hung back, watching as Emily walked around the sofa and sunk to her knees in front of their son. "Hey baby. I see we have a new house guest."

Blaine nodded, scooping up the wriggling kitten in his hands, holding her out. "Molly, this is my Mom." The little grey kitten mewed, batting a paw into the air, before worming her way out of Blaine's grip and landing back on the floor. She immediately began stalking the discarded string.

But Blaine kept smiling, softly, shyly, the little ember of happiness had begun to warm to a spark.

And as he watched his overwhelmed wife sitting on the floor with their youngest son, a kitten tumbling between them, John actually began to hope that things might get better.

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt had never had a friend. Not a true, best friend. Not a person who was always there, always ready to listen, to talk to, to hug and laugh with.

He had thought he didn't need one.

Until Blaine.

And sure, when he and Blaine had first started to hang out, there had been the novelty, the happiness, the secret what if of something more, the warm feeling of knowing someone was right there.

But Kurt had never realised just how much of a difference Blaine's arrival had made to his life.

Until now. Because ever since the party, and their chat in the car when Blaine had probably let spill a lot more than he had ever intended, Blaine had been avoiding him.

And no, it wasn't in his head. It wasn't just Kurt being paranoid or oversensitive! It wasn't just because Blaine had trusted him with something so, so big, and all Kurt had done was sit there with his mouth open, offering stupid words and useless phrases until Blaine ran away.

The others had noticed it too. Admittedly, the girls had probably been clued in that something might be up between him and Blaine when, after Blaine had left that night, Kurt had stormed back inside and tore Santana to pieces for her persistent harassing of Blaine. But still, even they noticed how Blaine might turn up to practice bang on time, and flee as soon as it was over. They noticed how he would sit ever so carefully, perfectly neatly, a measured distance always between himself and Kurt.

And that's possibly what made it even worse for Kurt. That Blaine was all at once right there, but so far away. He could be all bright, fake smiles and bouncing energy, but at the same time, so dull and grey. So cautious.

Kurt couldn't take it anymore.

"I thought I'd find you in here."

Blaine jumped out of his skin, stumbling to his feet in a backwards momentum, legs catching on the piano stool. "Kurt! I thought, I thought you'd gone home."

Kurt's kept his face purposefully neutral, eyes methodically taking in Blaine, standing alone in the choir room with one hand pressed flat into the wood of the piano, as if trying to anchor himself. Blaine looked nervous and, perhaps, a little bit guilty. Practice had finished twenty minutes ago, and the school had emptied out, but Blaine had clearly looped back around after dashing out straight after practice.

"No. I've been wanting to talk." Kurt tucked his fingers halfway into his jeans pockets, leaning his hip against the piano. He hadn't realised until he spoke just how sure he was. He needed this limbo to end. He needed to know once and for all. He needed Blaine to be honest, and tell him what was going through his head.

He needed Blaine back, and he wasn't going to allow avoidance for a moment longer.

"Oh." Blaine's voice was small, resigned. His feet shifted unconsciously while his fingers tapped out a nervous rhythm against the piano top. "Okay."

When it was clear the other boy wasn't going to offer anything more, Kurt ploughed on before he lost his nerve, "Look, Blaine. I… I've missed you. I hate this, I really do. I don't know if we're fighting, or maybe you're angry at me, but something is clearly wrong."

"No!" Blaine blurted, eyes wide and scared. "Kurt, how could you think I'm angry at you? Of the two of us, you've done nothing wrong!"

"And you have, is that what you're saying?" Kurt shot back, more harshly than he intended, but he was sick of this running round in circles and the constant wriggly knot in his stomach whenever he thought of Blaine.

"Yes!" Blaine threw up his arms. "No… I mean… I don't know what I'm doing…"

"Then tell me. Don't shut me out Blaine, please."

Blaine sat down heavily on the piano stool, "I had to tell you about Amy. I had to."

Kurt sighed, slowly making to sit down next to him, choosing to face away from the piano so he could lean back and look at Blaine properly. Their hips grazed slightly, but for the first time since the party, Blaine didn't pull away. "No, you didn't, but I'm glad you trusted me enough to tell me anyway."

Blaine shrugged, and Kurt could tell that he was determined to look anywhere but at his best friend's face. Silence pressed down on them, until Blaine finally whispered, "I made a promise that I'd tell you first. Before I… But then I did and I think I made things worse."

Blaine's words choked on his tongue, and Kurt was confused, "I don't understand."

Blaine took a deep, fortifying breath. "I don't want you to think it's because you're the only one apart from my family who I can stand to touch me; who I can hug, who I can hold hands with, and maybe... Because it's not, that's so far from it that I can't even begin to describe."

Kurt's heart was suddenly in his throat, and he couldn't breathe. He could only stare at the other boy as words unravelled, "Blaine, what..?"

Azure met gold as Blaine finally, finally looked at him. "You are… incredible, Kurt. Amazing. You are brave and strong, and the kindest person I know. I've known since I saw you, and I fell the moment I touched your hand in that hall. It's not because I can, it's because for the first time, I really want to. And I… I couldn't bear the idea of you thinking that it's just convenience, or something equally horrible. Because it's not, it's so far from that." Blaine's eyes were questioning, searching. Kurt's mouth was slightly open, because oh. Blaine's voice dropped to a quiet, murmured confession, and the truth was finally free. "I think I've been looking for you forever."

All of the air left Kurt's lungs, and suddenly the distance that had haunted them these last few days was reduced to nothing. Moments blurred, and then his hands were at a loss because Blaine was kissing him!

Unsure, uncertain, carefully, soft lips connected and the knots in Kurt's stomach tightened and loosened at random. Kurt's brain swam, his eyes falling shut to a joyful, trusting darkness as he lost himself in the kiss.

Time seemed to lose meaning, even if it was barely a few seconds in reality, as every inch of Kurt's skin tingled, and every nerve ending seemed to be hypersensitive wherever he touched Blaine.

Thoughts swam and blurred, touch sharpened and melted, and as Kurt fell deeper into his first kiss, all thoughts of not being good enough, not being sensitive enough, not being right, they all fell away until all that was left was Blaine.

And then, tiny, delicately, ever so tentatively, there was a spark. And another, and another and another, a wash of golden stars sprayed across a flood of midnight blue, dancing joyously, nervously, happily, lovingly across his mind's eye.

The stars scattered as Blaine pulled shyly away, a deep blush staining his cheeks as he failed to keep a disbelieving smile from his face. "I… you… umm… Hi."

Kurt just stared at him, slightly dazed. "Hi."

What had…

No.

Really?

"Was that… okay?" Blaine fidgeted as Kurt's rather stunned look made him second guess himself.

It couldn't… Kurt wasn't meant to have a first kiss. Not a real one, not like everyone always talked about. He knew that, he had accepted that, he had…

Kurt surged forward determinedly, hands cradling Blaine's head as he this time kissed him with more purpose. Blaine made a noise of happy disbelief in this throat, his hands coming to rest comfortably at the other boy's waist as tendrils of something tickled at the back of Kurt's mind, caressing him tentatively as he responded curiously in turn.

It was Kurt who broke the kiss this time, and this time, the stars lingered as ghosts for that little bit longer, tingling on his lips. "It was more than okay…" Kurt breathed.

Blaine was still flushed, and it only made him look all the more beautiful. He dropped his hands to Kurt's lap, gently knotting their fingers together in a slow, experimental way. A disbelieving laugh burst from his lips, so golden and happy, "I can't believe I just kissed you in the choir room."

Kurt nodded, only giving himself a split-second to try and stop himself before the words tumbled, "I can't believe I felt you."

Blaine's head snapped up, his honey eyes so wide that Kurt thought they could fall out of his head, "W-what? What do you… what?"

"I think…" Kurt shook his head, a happy yet terrified smile tugging at his lips, "I know I did. I…you were there. I could… see you, feel you, but… not like I'm looking at you now. It was… sky… I'm sorry, that sounds so stupid." Kurt shrugged helplessly.

Blaine gaped for a too-silent moment, before suddenly wrenching his hands away, "Oh my god, I can't believe I projected on you! I didn't think, I'm so stupid; I didn't even try to stop myself! I, please don't hate me, Kurt, please I didn't mean to, and I won't do it again, but please don't hate me!"

Kurt lunged forwards in alarm, catching Blaine roughly around the waist before he could scramble away and run off. He pulled him forcibly back down beside him, "Hey! Stop that! I don't hate you, and I would be very upset if you never kissed me again because Blaine that was the most amazing thing I have ever felt and the best thing is, it happened with you! Because of you!"

"But I…" Blaine spluttered meekly.

"No." Kurt cut over him firmly. "I know what projection is, I may not have thought I'd need to know about it, but I've sat through the classes, remember? I felt you, and I felt me, and it was like… we were together. It was more."

"I felt you too." Blaine murmured, a little calmer. "You were in my head, in my heart, under my skin, and on my lips. But you weren't…invading. You just…were. I… I've never felt like that before."

Kurt bit his lip, letting his head drop to rest against Blaine's, their foreheads touching. "What does this mean?"

"I don't know." Blaine mumbled. "But I know I liked it. A lot."

"Me too." Kurt smiled softly, tilting his head slightly to press a lingering kiss to Blaine's cheek, just at the corner of his lips. He felt Blaine smile under the kiss, and hoped he didn't imagine the weak little tug of nervous joy at the base of his throat that wasn't quite all his own.

TBC

Chapter Text

"Hey!" Kurt poked his head around Blaine's locker, a smile bright on his lips as he watched Blaine's whole face light up with a golden smile, a smile that Kurt put there, a smile that belonged to them and them alone. The knowledge still made Kurt's stomach squirm pleasantly.

"Hey you." Blaine smiled softly, his eyes sparkling. Kurt wanted nothing more than to loop his arms around Blaine's waist and drop a light kiss to those gorgeous lips, but he had to settle for hooking his arm into Blaine's as they began to walk down the hall towards the front of the school. Kurt might afford them both a certain level of protection by his low ES, but he knew better than to push it. Blaine couldn't be by his side 27/7, after all, no matter how much Kurt wished he could be.

"So…" Kurt drew out the words, testing it teasingly as it rolled over his tongue.

Blaine rolled his eyes fondly, recognising Kurt's I-really-want-something voice, "So? How can I help my lovely boyfriend?"

Kurt's heart did a few back flips at that word thrown so casually from Blaine's lips. Their first kiss had been barely a week ago, but it had rapidly been followed by many more. It was as if a dam had broken between them, the last twig of self doubt and uncertainty snapped aside as a flood of new discoveries and feelings rushed in to meet them. "Well… my dad's been… curious, lately."

He felt the muscles of Blaine's arm tense ever so slightly under his own, but Blaine's voice belayed no sign, "Curious? About what?"

"You, of course." Kurt grinned, bumping their hips slightly. "I mean, before he was always asking why he hadn't met you yet, and then this past week I think he's been getting a bit suspicious that something else might be going on."

Blaine stopped short, momentarily distracted from his conjured fear of Kurt's dad. "You can sense other people now too?"

Kurt shook his head, "Nope. That's definitely still reserved just for you when we, you know…" He grinned, blushing as he trailed off.

Blaine giggled as they reached Kurt's car, "Kiss? You won't burst into flames if you say the word, Kurt."

Kurt scowled, "Shut up. And stop avoiding the subject. I'm trying to invite you to dinner."

"Oh." Blaine's face fell, all playfulness fled. He hopped into the passenger seat of Kurt's car, no longer looking at the other boy.

Kurt rushed to reassure him as he slipped into the driver's side, slamming the car door behind him to give them a certain illusion of privacy while still in the shadow of the school. "It'll just be the three of us. You, me, and Dad. Carole's got the late shift, and Finn's going round Puck's for dinner after football practice. Please? I'd love you guys even just to meet – I won't even say what we are if you don't want me to just yet."

Blaine's head snapped up, his amber eyes blazing fiercely, "We're not lying to your dad! If I do… if you introduce us, I don't want to just be your friend."

Kurt blinked, a happy balloon swelling in his chest at Blaine's conviction. "Thank you…"

"I just…" Blaine fidgeted. "I know you've met my parents tonnes of times, and Coop. And they all know about us – even if I haven't formally told them I think I gave the game away the night I came back from school after you ambushed me in the choir room-"

"I did not ambush you!" Kurt squawked indignantly.

Blaine rolled his eyes fondly, leaning over to drop a casual kiss to Kurt's lips. The touch was too fleeting for Kurt to feel anything from Blaine other than the amazing tingling warmth of his boyfriend's lips on his. "I'm glad you did. And I'd love to meet your dad."

"But?" Kurt prompted, seeing the catch hovering on the tip of Blaine's tongue.

"I just… he's your dad! One look and he'll probably know, and I'm seriously not wearing the right clothes, he'll think I'm some slob and-"

Kurt burst out laughing, "Oh my god you're scared of my dad!"

"What? No!" Blaine spluttered.

"You are!" Kurt grinned, unable to stop laughing at the sheer normalcy of it all. Normal wasn't something either of them was supposed to have. "Blaine, seriously, you look impeccable, as always, and my dad will love you. There's no need to be nervous, I promise."

Blaine huffed, and Kurt knew he had won.

00000

The door banged, and Kurt twisted, grinning, "Hey Dad!"

"Kurt? You in here?" His dad's rough voice floated from the hall into the kitchen, where Kurt was already preparing dinner. Blaine was in theory meant to be lending a hand, but in reality he was proving a distraction. A drop-dead gorgeous, adorable, welcome distraction, true, but it wasn't helping Kurt prepare his risotto any quicker.

"We're in the kitchen!" Kurt hollered back, grabbing both of Blaine's hands as they frantically went to his hair to check that the gel helmet he insisted on having hadn't sprung loose. As if it could.

His dad's smiling face appeared in the kitchen, usual faded ball cap sitting over his balding head, still in his oil-stained work clothes. "You must be Blaine."

Blaine blinked, and Kurt watched with amusement as his boyfriend assessed the father before his brain seemed to come back to himself and he pulled on his most charming smile, "Hi, yes. It's a pleasure to meet you Mr Hummel."

Kurt didn't miss the way his dad's eyes flicked questioningly to Blaine's right hand, stiffly held out of the way, tight to his body so that there was no risk of being drawn into a handshake. He quickly recovered, "You too kid. Kurt hasn't shut up about you since you transferred to his school. It's good to put a face to the name."

"Dad. Seriously?" Kurt protested.

Burt grinned, his eyes sparkling. "Sorry Kurt. Way I see it, if I can't embarrass my own kid in front of his friends then I'm a failure as a father."

Kurt's stomach lurched nervously. Now. Get it over with. "Actually Dad, Blaine's my boyfriend." Kurt's hand found Blaine's between their bodies.

Burt stared at them both for a second, his eyes slightly wider than they had been. Kurt was sure that he had suspected something, but given Kurt's condition, had probably not given it too much thought. Until now.

"I see." Burt's voice was precise and neutral. "Since when?"

A thousand thoughts flew around Kurt's head. What if his dad didn't like Blaine? What if he was only okay with the idea of having a gay son when he wasn't faced with a boyfriend in his own kitchen?

Blaine answered, "Since last week, but Kurt's been my best friend since I came to McKinley. I… Kurt's amazing. And we really like each other."

Burt's eyes were fixed on their hands, joined tightly between their pressed bodies, until finally, "Well, I can't wait to hear all about it over dinner. And get to know my son's first boyfriend. Food smells amazing, Kurt."

And that was that. The dinner turned out really well, and Kurt relished being able to sit there chatting while his new boyfriend and dad got along like a house on fire. Burt had a knack of getting people to relax in his presence. Although Kurt had never experienced that reassurance in the same way, Finn once said how Burt seemed to project an aura of strength and comfort to those around him. No wonder Blaine was so calm and together.

At the end of the evening, with his father giving the pair of them a false sense of privacy by hovering at a slight distance, Blaine placed a chaste kiss on Kurt's lips with a ghost of happiness and warmth. Before he pulled away completely, he murmured softly, "You can tell him. When he asks."

Kurt's eyebrows hiked up into his hairline, "Are you sure?"

"Of course." Blaine's eyes were certain and clear, sparkling with life, the same gold as the stars that danced in Kurt's mind whenever they kissed. He looked over Kurt's shoulder to the hovering father, his voice normal volume again, "It was nice to meet you, Mr Hummel. I'll call you tomorrow, okay Kurt?"

"Nice to meet you too, Blaine. You're welcome for dinner anytime." Burt nodded solidly.

Kurt found himself nodding too, holding Blaine's gaze for as long as possible, his nerves renewed.

"So." Burt opened with, as soon as Kurt had closed the door. "Blaine's nice."

"Blaine's nice?" Kurt parroted wryly.

"Well he is." Burt said defensively. "I just… Kurt, not that I had a problem with it – opposite, in fact –but the pair of you barely let go of each other's hands the entire evening! Did you want to shed some light on what's going on here? Because it took a whole month before Finn could sit on the same sofa as you after he and Carole moved in."

"That's not my fault!" Kurt snapped, his body tensing. It was true, but that didn't mean he liked to be reminded of that.

Burt was across the living room in an instance, his large, warm hands clasping tightly over Kurt's shoulders, "I would never say that it was. And neither was it Finn's. But you gotta see where I'm coming from here, Kurt."

"You can't tell Carole. Or Finn. Or anybody. You have to promise." Kurt folded his arms. "It's Blaine's life, and he's trusted me with his secret. His family know, obviously, and Miss Pillsbury I think, but last time it got out Blaine was hurt, and I won't do that to him. He said I could tell you though. He knows I don't like keeping secrets from you."

Burt stared for a second, before nodding warily, "I promise. Though something tells me I'm gonna want to get the number of Blaine's parents."

Kurt took a deep breath, before letting it all spill out in a rush, "Blaine's ES level is 4.8. To him, I'm quiet, but not silent. He can touch me, and I can touch him, and it's normal. We're normal with each other, and Dad… I can't believe we found each other. When…" Kurt swallowed harshly, his face going bright red, but he had to force himself past the embarrassment, he had to make sure his dad understood the gravity of what they meant to each other. "When he k-kissed me, I could sense him, Dad. And he could sense me."

He raised his eyes to watch his dad's reaction, watch as Burt absorbed the words of his son, lips slightly parted. Finally, he spoke, his voice hoarse and disbelieving, and… tinged with something else, sadness, hopefulness, loss; Blaine would know. "4.8?" Kurt nodded, words unspoken passing between the father and son pair, because neither needed to utter out loud the connotations of such a high number. Instead, his voice soft and mellow, Burt drew himself up straight, nodding succinctly. "I'm glad you found each other too, kiddo. I really am. You both deserve it."

Kurt smiled, throwing his arms around his dad in a tight hug, "Thanks Dad."

For a moment, Kurt truly felt normal, the shadow that hung in the background seeming faded and small in the strong comfort of his father's arms. He didn't have to think about Blaine's bad days, or the risk he ran every day at school. He didn't have to think about the future. He could just be happy about the stupid stuff, like how well his dad and boyfriend got along, that he hardly had any homework that weekend, and how soon Nationals in New York were.

A gossamer illusion of normality, just give them that.

TBC

Chapter Text

"Blaine!" Kurt jogged after his boyfriend, frowning slightly when finally Blaine turned around to acknowledge him. "Hey. I called you like three times."

Blaine stared at him for a beat too long before he seemed to shake himself, "Sorry. I'm just a bit t-tired I guess." A yawn punctuated the offending word, before the other boy pulled a dulled yet happy smile onto his face, "How was your weekend?"

They started heading to their lockers, and Kurt's hand found Blaine's fingers, cold in the morning air. He gave them a squeeze, wishing not for the first time that he could sense Blaine through just the grazing of their fingertips. It was getting easier, when they kissed. Kurt was quicker to let go, to feel that spark inside him that was all Blaine. But still, he couldn't help but wish for more. It was like a drug; now he knew what it could feel like, he only wanted more.

"It was pretty good. I missed you though. Skyping isn't the same." They had tried to reach a happy medium without causing a repeat of the disastrous phone call.

Blaine grimaced, "Tell me about it."

"Oh come on," Kurt smiled fondly. "You are getting better at it. And it is quicker than texting."

"Seeing you helps." Blaine conceded, "But it's still really… odd. Not being able to, you know." The words sense you were left unspoken, heavy in the air. They didn't want anyone to know, especially anyone at school. Because if people knew that Blaine could sense Kurt, that would bring forth a whole slew of questions that neither teenager wanted to face. Kurt's dad was a different matter, and although he hadn't actually asked, he was pretty sure that Blaine had told his family. At the very least, Cooper must know; of that Kurt was certain.

"Now you know how everyone else feels around me." Kurt sniped dryly as a pair of cheerleaders gave them a wide berth. Blaine rubbed his thumb softly over the back of Kurt's hand. "Oh shoot, I forgot I need to grab a book from the library before second period. See you at lunch?"

Blaine smiled amiably, "Sure. I'll text you where." He gave Kurt's hand one last squeeze, his skin now warmed from their hand hold, before the pair of them split ways.

Except…

Kurt wasn't able to find Blaine for lunch, because he was held behind in biology to go over a stupid group project. He managed to fire a text off to let Blaine know though, and got a response (Don't worry about it! I found Sam – he wanted to practice for glee. In auditorium if you get out xx) so he wasn't worried.

No, the worry came when he met Blaine after school, looking even more tired than he had that morning. He brushed it off as nothing, and to start with, Kurt let him. They got takeaway coffees from the Lima Bean and went back to Blaine's to (attempt) homework. By the time Kurt had to leave, his face slightly flushed, Blaine was looking much more alert, and the sparking electric attraction that sang through them when they kissed hadn't dwindled. All worry was forgotten.

Until glee practice the next day.

And again on Wednesday, when Blaine had to cancel their cinema plans at the last minute.

By Thursday, he looked ready to drop, to the point where Santana actually called him out on it in glee practice when he played more than one off note during her solo practice. Blaine just mumbled an apology, which only served to annoy the girl even more.

"Drop it, Santana!" Kurt snapped, "You should be grateful you have someone as talented as Blaine willing to accompany you."

Blaine rubbed a hand over his face, which brought a concerned Mr Schue forth from where he was sitting, "Blaine, you okay?"

The hand reaching out to him had Blaine stumbling to his feet and backwards in a tangle of clumsy limbs. He steadied himself on the piano, "'M fine, Mr Schue. Just tired."

The teacher looked unconvinced, as did the majority of the club, but still he pulled back and nodded, "It has been a long week. Okay guys, great job. Don't forget at lunch tomorrow we're going to hear from Mercedes. See you all then!"

Kurt was at Blaine's side as quickly as he was able without being insanely obvious, "Okay, let's get you out of here." Kurt whispered in Blaine's ear, hoisting him by his arm.

Blaine shook his head stubbornly, "I'm fine, honestly. Just tired."

He wasn't fine. A blind man could see that Blaine wasn't fine. Even Santana was starting to look concerned at Blaine's behaviour.

"Hey, Kurt, maybe you should let go of him. Blaine's really don't look so good, and no offence, but touching you probably isn't helping." Mercedes was on her feet, worry shining in her eyes.

Kurt was torn between staring incredulously at his friend and flying off the handle. Blaine made the decision for him, "Well who the hell asked you?"

What?

Kurt had never heard Blaine's voice sound so… angry and bitter. Not directed at someone else, anyway.

"I…" Mercedes stuttered, as shocked as the rest of the glee kids.

Blaine swayed, blinked rapidly, staring at nothing, "Sorry… sorry, I…" His hand fumbled, fingers finding purchase in the fabric of Kurt's shirt.

Sam was out of his seat. Kurt knew that out of all the kids in glee, Blaine had become the closest with Sam, so why on earth did Blaine just flinch in his arms? "Dude you really don't look so good."

"He's fine." Kurt snapped, pulling Blaine closer to him. "I'll drive him home. See you guys tomorrow." He knew that he was being unfair, that they were only worried for Blaine, but Mercedes' automatic assumption that it was Kurt's close proximity to Blaine that was causing his boyfriend to feel bad… The accusation had really gotten to him.

The drive to Blaine's house was quiet, with the other boy leaning heavily against the glass of the window, eyes closed. Kurt kept Blaine's hand in his the whole drive, and couldn't dispel the horrible fear that clenched at him when he felt the tiny tremors under his grip. When he pulled up outside Blaine's house he spoke softly, "Is your dad home? Or your mom?"

Blaine simply nodded listlessly, "I'm sorry."

Kurt's mouth thinned, "For what? For feeling tired? For something you can't control?"

"For screwing up again." Blaine shrugged, twisting to get out of the car.

"Blaine you didn't-" Kurt tried exasperatedly, but Blaine was already making his way up the drive.

Kurt ground his teeth in frustration, jumping out of the car after his boyfriend.

As soon as they were through the front door, Blaine's mother was on them, "What happened?"

Kurt made to answer, but Blaine was already twisting away, shrugging off his mom before she could reach him and making for the stairs, "Nothing."

"Don't you try and pull that line with me, Blaine! Please come back here." Her hands were on her hips in a false attempt at looking threatening, but her eyes belayed her genuine worry.

"No. Leave me alone." He had one foot on the stairs, and Kurt was feeling genuinely confused and out of place. Should he leave? Should he follow Blaine?

He knew what he wanted to do, but looking at Blaine's mom it didn't look like she would approve of the choice.

"Blaine!" A violent hissing rebounded against her raised shout, and Kurt looked over to see a very irate cat frozen stiff under Blaine's feet, responding to her owner's emotions.

"No." His voice was cold and flat, laced with a strange resigned anger that Kurt found hard to identify. "Just, for once Mom, leave it."

Kurt watched his boyfriend trudge up the stairs, and even took a step forwards to follow, when Blaine's mother ran a hand through her curly hair, finally seeming to recognise that she had a second teenager standing in her hall, "Kurt, I think you should head home."

Kurt bit the inside of his cheek. He didn't want to leave Blaine, not right now. "But I could help?"

The woman sighed, "Well you can start with telling me what's happened. He's been like this all week – you've been with him, so tell me."

Kurt frowned, "No… No, I've hardly seen Blaine at all. I've had an assignment to get done in my lunch breaks, and apart from Monday, he's been busy after school with family stuff?"

Blaine's mom shut her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose, "No. He's been out. And he said he was with you. Wonderful. Now my son is lying to me."

Kurt didn't know what to say. 'Sorry' seemed a little out of place, and to be honest, he was feeling pretty hurt himself.

A door slam echoed through the house, making them both wince. "I really think you should go, Kurt."

The dismissal was clear.

Nevertheless, despite how hurt he was that Blaine was hiding something from him, Kurt couldn't just ignore Blaine all evening. Minutes, hours ticked, and still no word from Blaine. He could barely focus.

Text me when you're free to talk? Or if you're not just to say how you are? xx

Sorry if I made things worse with your mom – I didn't know you were using me as an alibi.

That was harsh, I'm sorry. Please let me know you're okay xxxxx

Will you be in school tomorrow? X

We can talk Blaine please don't shut me out xxx

Until finally, at a little past ten:

I'm sorry I scared you. I'm sorry I didn't say anything but it's not my secret to tell. I'll see you in school tomorrow promise. Thanks for being there at glee today xxxx

It didn't explain what had happened today, or even how Blaine had been feeling all week. If anything, Kurt felt even more in the dark.

And further still, in the dark recesses of his mind, where he really didn't want to go, there was that lingering thought. Sure, Blaine could tell him what was going on, sure, he could explain and they could get over this little bump and the pair of them could keep moving forward.

But what if forwards only brought more bad days? Kurt didn't think he could handle feeling as helpless as he had felt today. He couldn't stand the not knowing, the way Blaine's mom had just casually isolated Kurt.

He couldn't stand the thought that someday, perhaps even sooner than he had ever thought, Blaine would start having more bad days than good, until there were no more good days to be had.

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt jiggled his foot nervously, checking his phone for the hundredth time. The bell was due to go for class any minute now, but he couldn't bring himself to walk inside the school. Blaine still hadn't arrived, but he had promised he would be here! Kurt had to know that everything was okay; he had to see Blaine, touch him, kiss him, sense him. He needed to know what was going on with his boyfriend, because at least then he could be prepared.

The bell rang, and Kurt's shoulders slumped. He paused, watching listlessly as the last few stragglers hurried inside. He was about to follow, when he caught sight of a car he recognised. It was the one Blaine's dad drove, the one Cooper had borrowed for those first few weeks. Kurt grinned in relief, jogging partway to meet the car, but then…

As Blaine's dad pulled up, Kurt realised that Blaine wasn't the only teenager in the car.

Sam was there too. Why was Sam there? Sure, Kurt knew that he and Blaine were close, but Sam lived on the opposite end of town to Blaine, and after the dramas of last night...

Kurt's stomach knotted with confusion and, he wasn't too proud to admit it, a nasty barb of paranoia. Still, he tried to keep his face devoid of any sort of negative emotion.

Especially seeing as Sam and Blaine pretty much had that covered between them.

"Remember what I said, Blaine." John Anderson leaned out of the car window. "Hello, Kurt."

Kurt gave an awkward little wave, and he couldn't help but notice how horribly quickly Sam and Blaine's face broke into identical too-bright grins; exact mirrors of each other. But who was mirroring who? "Hey Kurt! Thanks for the ride Mr Anderson."

"See you boys after school. The school's got my number if you need anything." He offered them all a smile, although to Kurt it seemed slightly strained.

"Bye Dad." Blaine called, already slipping his hand into Kurt's, the familiar warmth helping to distract them both from the undercurrent of tension that cracked between the three boys.

"I should head to class." Sam broke in. "See you at lunch? Or… glee? Is glee better?"

Blaine sighed, shaking his head, "Lunch is fine, Sam, seriously."

Sam fidgeted on the spot, dawdling, his eyes flicking uncertainly between the pair, before his lips curved into a soft smile, "Cool, bro. See you then." He paused, before adding, "You too, Kurt, if you want. Crap, guys, we gotta get to class!"

As the three dashed into the building, sophomores splitting from the junior, Kurt cursed his biology project. It was the last day for it, and there was no way he couldn't go. But Sam's casual invite had sounded more than, well, casual. There had been something else hidden there. Something that explained why he had been so nervous asking Blaine if he could meet him for lunch, something that would shine light on those horrible duel expressions of dull resignation and sadness that both boys had borne when they had driven up.

At least, Kurt reflected, Blaine didn't look too worse for wear after yesterday. The skin under his eyes was still bruised with tiredness, and there was less energy to his movements, but he had to be feeling good enough to be in school, or there was no way his dad would have let him come, let alone his mom.

Right?

00000

Kurt was haphazardly stuffing his books into his locker when his phone buzzed. It was from Tina, which was odd in itself because while they were friends, they weren't exactly on the random texts level of friendship.

To be frank, Kurt wasn't really on that level with many people at all. The list probably comprised of Blaine, as well as Mercedes when she remembered him, Rachel when she needed something, and more recently Finn who was genuinely trying to make a brotherly effort.

Where are you? Get to glee NOW!

Kurt stared at the screen in blind confusion, already slamming his locker shut and heading off towards the choir room as fast as his stylish yet rather impractical boots would let him. He cursed his French teacher for wanting to talk to him about his last report. He wasn't late for glee, but he also wasn't early, and by now most of the others would be there and –

"Mercedes seriously, leave it!" Tina's furious voice snapped down the hall, rising above the general ruckus that echoed out of the choir room.

"You don't know what you're talking about. Kurt would never do that to Blaine!" Quinn's voice that time, passionate and defensive.

Kurt rounded the corner, and froze in the doorway, not entirely understanding what he was seeing but definitely not liking it.

Mercedes was sitting way too close to Blaine, her face righteous and compassionate. Blaine wasn't moving, but Kurt could tell even from a distance how hard he was gripping the edge of his seat, knuckles white. He was focussed intently on a random spot on the floor, hardly blinking, clearly trying to ignore the world around him.

"Blaine honey, I'm just saying – and I love Kurt, I do; he's my boy and I'd do anything for him – but do you really think that this relationship is healthy for you? You're clearly not feeling that great, and that's gonna happen. It's not Kurt's fault, or yours, but you just gotta accept that maybe you should each look for someone who's a bit closer to your own level, you know?"

Tina threw up her hands in disgust, "I cannot believe you just said that!"

"As much as I hate to say this, I agree with Mercedes. There are tested studies that cover how couples with very different ES levels are doomed to end in heartbreak and trauma," Rachel broke in knowledgeably.

"When from? The nineteen hundreds?" Quinn asked incredulously.

Kurt was shaking. He saw red, his vision tunnelled until only the targets of his wrath were visible to him, "What the Hell? How dare you?"

A chilling hush fell over the choir room. Kurt had never thought that he was one of those people who could go speechless with rage, he was normally so good at cutting people to ribbons with well placed words, but at that moment, he just couldn't get the words to form on his tongue. What made it infinitely worse was the horrible understanding that came with what he had heard. The blasé attitude and misplaced concern, and the deep down knowledge that Mercedes' lecture to Blaine was coming from a genuine place of caring and honesty.

His fists clenched, nails digging painful half-moon pits into his palms.

"Oh my god, enough!" The tension broke, and everyone flinched. Blaine actually curled into himself a little bit, his hands coming up to hold his head. Sam was on his feet, and Kurt didn't need a high empathic sense to read just how furious and upset Sam was. "Kurt and Blaine are amazing together! None of you know what you're talking about!"

"Sam… you don't…" Blaine raised his head a little, although it looked painful to do so. His voice was ragged and cracked, his eyes wells of pleading agony.

"Yes I do, Blaine! You've been amazing this week, the best friend a guy could want, and all you've gotten back from me is…" Sam choked, waving his hand in Blaine's general direction. He jumped down from the second level of seating to face the stunned glee club with disappointed contempt. "My dad lost his job last month. The bank took everything from us – we've been living out of a motel room these past few weeks while Dad looks for a new job; me, my parents, my baby brother and sister…" Sam's voice choked, "And none of you noticed. No one except Blaine, and Quinn. I'm the reason why Blaine's not been feeling that great this week, because he actually took the trouble to notice me! So now you all have your gossip, you can leave Blaine and Kurt alone. I'm outta here." Sam threw up his arms as he stormed out, leaving the whole club speechless.

Finn turned to Quinn, "You knew? And you didn't say anything?"

"It wasn't my place." Quinn responded coolly, "Our families go to the same church. I think some of you owe Kurt and Blaine an apology. Not to mention Sam."

Apologetic and uncomfortable expressions flittered across many faces, but Kurt still couldn't form words. He couldn't move. Why couldn't he move?

Because you think Mercedes is right. A nasty little voice hissed in the back of his mind. What if he really was bad for Blaine? What if he was harmful, what if he made Blaine ill?

"Please, please stop it!" All heads snapped to Blaine. He was shaking – genuinely, visibly, obviously shivering. He staggered to his feet, weaving sideways away from concerned hands that reached to steady him. "Get out get out! Get out get out get out!" Blaine yelled at them, his voice wretched and jarring.

Kurt was across the room in a heartbeat, the nasty voice locked away deep down in the dark where it couldn't get in the way of helping Blaine. He wrapped his arms solidly around Blaine's body as the smaller boy collapsed into him, struggling for breath, "Blaine! Blaine, baby, it's okay, I'm here, it's me…"

Blaine struggled, panting haggardly in sharp snatches, twisting in Kurt's grip to find Mercedes, "I don't care! I don't care if you're sorry I don't I don't stop making me feel sorry stop making this okay because nothing about this is okay!"

Mercedes reeled back at the sheer venom in Blaine's voice, completely not like him, just like Sam's pain and anger earlier had been so strange to hear from one normally so happy. Exactly like.

"Okay, we need to get you out of here," Kurt said with absolute certainty as a horrible spike of something laced up his spine. Pityapologyguiltsorryfearconcernsorrysorryforgive-

Kurt blinked rapidly, realising with morbid fascination that he had just sensed Blaine. No, not Blaine, everyone else. He had felt what Blaine was feeling; an overwhelming flood of remorse and regret as the other teenagers' emotions were literally forcing Blaine to forgive them when really all he wanted was to run and scream and cry.

Or did he, or was that still Sam?

Kurt head spun, and he bodily hoisted Blaine close to him. He felt rather than saw the other boy fumble at his shirt as his knees gave out.

Kurt's whole world narrowed to Blaine. He was dimly aware screaming at Finn to go and get Mr Schue, Miss Pillsbury, someone! He vaguely registered the automatic action of fishing out his phone and dialling Blaine's dad, the number that had been programmed into his phone a few weeks ago. He had no real memory of yelling at the others to get out-

Get out of the room, get out of Blaine's head, get out get out get out!

What he did recall, with stark clarity, was the way Blaine felt in his arms as they sat entwined on the choir room floor. How as he sat there, cradled to Kurt's body, his shivering had become less pronounced, his grip less tense, his breathing less laboured.

Slowly, steadily, step by tiny step, Blaine returned to him in the silence and the quiet, in a stillness punctured only by Kurt's murmured comforts and their frantic heartbeats.

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt lay against the pillows, fingers absently carding through soft grey fur while his other arm wrapped around his boyfriend's body. His eyes skimmed the length of Blaine's sleeping form, seeing, but not really registering, just comforting himself with the knowledge that Blaine was okay. On their travels, his eyes connected with bright feline irises. Molly was curled up stoically on Blaine's chest, where she had been since they had lain Blaine down.

And how long ago had that been? It was all a blur to Kurt. He remembered Blaine's dad arriving, he remembered refusing to let go of Blaine, just as Blaine refused to let go of him.

Don't you understand we can't, we can't. If we let go, we're lost…

So instead, sitting on the floor of the choir room, John Anderson had taken Blaine through a series of questions, too practiced in their rhythmic recitation. At first, Blaine had just curled into Kurt further, eyes squeezed tight shut, but slowly, ever so slowly, he had begun to unfurl, and answer.

Where are you?

How do you feel?

No, how do you feel, Blaine?

Tell me how you know what you feel.

Where are you?

Who is in this room with you?

Give me a number between one and ten, and tell me the truth, Blaine.

Where are you?

Finally, John had decided that dragging his son to Lima General would do more harm than good, and he didn't feel at that moment that it was warranted the drive to Columbus, although he did plan on calling Blaine's sense doctor just to confirm.

What Blaine needed was sleep, isolation, quiet…

And considering neither teen was planning on letting go of the other any time soon… Kurt came as part of that prescription.

"What do you mean Kurt's with him? As in he's with him now?" Hushed voices floated dimly through the wood of Blaine's bedroom door.

Molly's head turned towards the sound, her tail flicking in agitation. Blaine's brow creased in sleep, and he shifted in Kurt's arms. Immediately, Kurt leaned down, pressing a kiss to smooth over Blaine's forehead. Absently, he started humming a random tune, soft and lulling.

"You mean aside from the fact that kid is probably the only reason our son isn't back in a hospital bed? Because he's Blaine's boyfriend, and Blaine wanted him to stay."

"Blaine doesn't know what he wants! God, John, when are you going to accept that Blaine is getting worse?"

"And when are you going to accept that Blaine needs to be able to live his own life? He was trying to help a friend, despite what he knew it would make him feel, and yes, that probably wasn't the wisest idea, but dammit Emily can't you be proud of Blaine for trying?"

"Not when it ends like today, no!"

Molly meowed plaintively, and Kurt's attention was pulled from the door to Blaine. His boyfriend was awake, dull amber eyes trained listlessly in the direction of the voices as they faded away further into the house. Kurt wasn't sure what to say, the sick feeling in his stomach unquenchable.

"They do that a lot," Blaine murmured, his voice blank of emotion, a yawning void that was so unlike Blaine's normal expressive tone that it physically hurt.

"They love you," Kurt said, "They're scared."

Blaine's eyes flicked to his, stunning in their clarity, "You're scared."

"Yes. Yes, of course I'm scared." Time seemed to have frozen, enveloping them in a tight bubble where everything else seemed to have fallen away, until all that was left was them, and a chance to be truly honest.

"I don't think I can be," Blaine croaked, his voice lost.

"What do you mean?" Kurt couldn't imagine how Blaine had lived with this his entire life, how he could go through ever day, and still be as bright and wonderful as he was.

"I never know if it's me anymore. I don't… how do I know if it's me? When I'm scared, angry, happy… when I want to scream or laugh or cry… when… when… when I'm in love…" Blaine voice choked, "What if none of it's me anymore? What if I'm already gone? How can I be scared, when all that's around me are other people who are just as scared as I want to be?"

Kurt's arms tightened reflexively around Blaine, "You're not gone. You're right here, with me." He let Blaine's words sink in further, "When you're in love?"

Blaine froze, so still it was as if he wasn't breathing. His eyes dropped to Molly, who stared placidly back, "That's the problem," he said finally, "How do I know?"

Kurt's heart pounded in his ears, "I think you just know…"

"But how?" Blaine's voice shook with frustration and tears, "How can I say to you that I love you when I don't even know what I am, what I feel, and what isn't, what else… When I don't even know where I am anymore…"

"I don't know," Kurt replied softly, realising how in that moment, the words I love you too hung heavy on his tongue, balanced precariously on the cusp of being spoken. The knowledge hit him like a knife in the chest, because he was in love with Blaine?

They lay entwined together in silence on Blaine's bed, floating in their bubble of truths and confessions and fears, while the biggest confession of all remained unsaid. Shadows lengthened, and a door slammed somewhere below.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Sam," Blaine broke the silence, his voice much steadier that it had been before.

"I understand," Kurt said, because he really, honestly did.

"I thought I could handle it, I just wanted to be a good friend to him, I wanted to deal with the whole thing like I was normal for once…" Blaine's voice was edged with bitterness. "He knows now, about me. My parents met up with his, and they're gonna help his family out. It's why we were late this morning; Dad was dropping off his brother and sister first."

Kurt bit his lip, not knowing how much Blaine remembered of his freak out earlier in the choir room, "Honey… the others are going to wonder what happened. They're not going to stop until they get to the bottom of it – you saw what they were like with Sam."

"I know. By Monday, the whole school will know I'm a freak… if Mom even lets me go back, that is."

Kurt squeezed Blaine's shoulders, "We still have the weekend. And when it comes to it, we can be freaks together."

Blaine's body suddenly tensed, his hand clenching around Kurt's arm where it lay across his chest next to Molly, "Please don't leave me alone."

Kurt frowned, something in Blaine's voice sounded far more urgent than it should have. Their bubble popped.

A light knock, and Blaine's parents came in… with Kurt's dad…

"Oh, sweetheart, you're awake." Emily Anderson's whole body seemed taut, like a tightrope wire about to snap. John stood back slightly, his eyes drinking in the scene before him; two boys and a cat.

"Hey Blaine, how're you feeling?" Burt's smile was tight, but warm.

Kurt could tell how uncomfortable Blaine felt, as if they were suddenly under a microscope waiting to be studied and noted down, "Better, thanks Mr Hummel."

"Burt has come to take you home Kurt." Emily smiled, but it wasn't Blaine's smile, "It's getting late, and Blaine needs his sleep."

Molly hissed at the exact moment Blaine's nails dug painfully into the back of Kurt's hand. The cat was crouched now, her tail swishing angrily as she lay on top of Blaine facing the intruders.

Kurt didn't know what to do. Blaine had known, of course he had known, he must have sensed Kurt's dad as soon as he entered the house, and figured out why he was here. So, like every time since before he could remember, Kurt's eyes instinctively sought his father's.

Help. What do I do? What should I do? What is right?

Father and son didn't need an empathic connection; they never had. It didn't matter that Kurt was a void to Burt, it didn't matter that Burt was as unreadable as the rest of the world to Kurt. They could still read each other; the tells, the quirks, the stubbornness, the compassion.

And what Kurt found was trust, and a promise to help, and that gave him courage.

"I want to stay. Please? Can I stay?" Kurt asked, sitting up on one elbow without letting go of Blaine.

"I don't think that's a good idea." Mrs Anderson shook her head, "Besides, your father has come all this way to pick you up, Kurt."

"It's no trouble, really, I was working late at the shop anyway and you were on my way home," Burt put in. Lie, that was a barefaced lie. "Of course, this is your house, and Blaine's your kid, but seems to me that both boys look pretty comfortable, and it's been a tough day for everyone."

"I don't…" Mrs Anderson stuttered, clearly torn.

Her husband stepped in, clearly exasperated that this question was an issue at all, "Why don't we ask Blaine? Blaine? Answer honestly, think about it."

"Please let Kurt stay," the words were out of Blaine's mouth in a garbled rush, vowels tripping over each other to get out fast enough, "Please, I need him to stay, please Mom. He helps, he helps me, don't make him go."

The moment Emily Anderson's resolve broke was practically visible, her voice defeated. "Okay… okay then. I'll see if I can find some other night things for you."

As she disappeared, both fathers turned to their sons. "Thanks Dad," Kurt said seriously.

Blaine's head bobbed in agreement, his relief palpable. "Thank you."

Burt nodded, "I'll see you tomorrow, Kurt."

John glanced between the pair, before walking over to his own son, seemingly oblivious to how Blaine was still wrapped up in Kurt. He scratched Molly's head as he paused there. "Glad to see you're awake, bug." A teasing yet sad smile played on his lips, "And don't worry, Burt, I'll make sure they keep the door open."

The words spiked through Kurt, conjuring confusion and completely threw him for a second. But then Blaine was smiling, albeit weakly, and Kurt recognised the comment as a desperate attempt to bring normalcy to the situation. Because, god, Blaine deserved a little normalcy right now.

"Dad! Seriously?" Blaine actually whined, notes of playfulness that Kurt had sorely missed lighting up his voice.

Mr Anderson just kept smiling that sad smile, "Burt, let me show you out. Boys, you should get ready for bed. I'll bring you up some snacks in a minute."

It was only then that Kurt realised how neither of them had eaten dinner. "Night Dad."

"G'night boys." Burt Hummel nodded to them both, jamming his ball cap back on his head before following Blaine's dad out of the room.

Blaine's body seemed to slump, "You're staying."

"I am," Kurt confirmed. "I'm not leaving, I promise."

Their eyes connected, and the moment held as Kurt leaned forwards to carefully catch Blaine's lips in a warm kiss that spoke of so much more than just a one night promise.

The moment broke when Molly head butted Kurt's hand insistently, but as Blaine laughed at the cat's persistence and his boyfriend's unimpressed face, Kurt couldn't bring himself to be mad. The sound of Blaine laughing was too precious to be wasted, and Kurt intended to capture and savour every moment.

TBC

Chapter Text

“He’s different. He’s not going to be like the other children.”

Burt ran his hands over his face tiredly. Kurt was finally asleep after a really nice evening where Burt had been introduced to Kurt’s new boyfriend, Blaine. The boy who was going to break Kurt’s heart through no fault of his own.

It made him feel sick to even think it, but Burt actually wished that their romance would be brief, a whirlwind of high school feelings ending in an average break-up.

But he knew it wouldn’t be. When Kurt decided to love, he truly committed, and even though Burt doubted that the boys had reached that point in their relationship, he knew they would sooner or later. The look on his son’s face when he looked at the other boy had told him that much.

And then there was this completely unprecedented reality that Kurt could sense Blaine. That Blaine’s ES level was so high that he was able to register on Kurt’s own senses, and in turn, that he could delve into Kurt’s emotions when others failed. Irrationally, a small part of Burt was jealous, but at the same time he knew that was just something he would need to accept as part of his son growing up. Kurt was going to meet new people who could fill his life in ways that his family couldn’t. And that was right.

But why did it have to be a boy like Blaine?

Sooner or later, Blaine’s condition would begin to catch up on him. And there was no way Kurt would let go then, not after what he had gone through with his mother, and Burt’s own heart attack scare. He would hold on tight until the last, and it would shatter him. Kurt was strong, and Burt was proud to have raised such an incredible young man, but there would always be the ragged fissures left over from his mother’s loss scored into Kurt’s soul. Just as there was on Burt’s.

Burt knew he would have to shove his feelings and doubts aside. From what he could tell, Blaine seemed like a sweet, respectable kid who was dealt a really crappy hand in life. Eventually, Burt would just have to accept that Kurt had chosen this boy. He would focus on the good; Kurt’s happiness, and the incredible chance of him finding a boy like Blaine who could show him a world that had previously been dark to him. Both boys would be good for each other, Burt could already see that.

But that didn’t mean that Burt would deny himself this night of fretting, worry, fear, and selfishness.

One of the few benefits of Kurt’s ES level being that for better or for worse, Burt could drown in his emotions, and they would remain entirely his own.

00000

“He’s going to be important.”

Burt’s favourite moments were moments like these. It was early on a Sunday afternoon, and the family was scattered around the living room, full from a big Sunday roast cooked to perfection by Kurt and Carole. Finn was sprawled across most of the couch – despite Carole’s protest that he should sit up straight after eating enough food to feed a herd of elephants – while Burt relaxed in his favourite chair with his paper. Carole was flicking absently through tv channels, arguing with Finn over what to watch, while Kurt and Blaine…

The two boys had volunteered to do the dishes, and they usually did when Blaine came round. The first time they has offered, Burt and Carole had just blinked stupidly at the boys, but not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, let them get on with it. As the pattern established over many evenings and weekends, Burt began to recognise it for what it was.

There were little tells and touches that both boys seemed to do around each other without even noticing. They sat close during dinner, holding hands at any break in eating or conversation. They kept constant contact when sitting on the couch together, even if it was something as subtle as Kurt’s toes tucked underneath Blaine’s legs. When Kurt and Carole cooked, Blaine sat at the kitchen table to keep them company. And whenever Blaine seemed to phase out of conversation, or rub his eyes, Kurt would be there in an instant to rub his back soothingly, or kiss him on the cheek. The casual displays of affection had caught Burt off guard at first, but how could he say anything? Both boys were respectful, and it was clear just how much Kurt helped Blaine cope on a daily basis.

This was exactly what the dirty dishes afforded them. It gave Blaine a break from the rest of Kurt’s family for a while without them having to disappear upstairs too soon after dinner.

“Thank you for doing that, boys,” Carole smiled as Blaine and Kurt wandered in. Kurt shoved Finn’s legs unceremoniously out of his way so he and Blaine could sit. Finn squawked in protest, but to his credit, didn’t flinch too badly at Kurt’s touch. Burt was proud of Finn, and how far he had come since the Hummels and Hudsons had moved in together. Finn’s ES level was on the lower end of average, which meant that while Kurt’s presence still unsettled him, he didn’t find it as bad as some other kids his age. While the tall boy was incredibly open and easy for others to read, Finn was very bad at interpreting the emotions he picked up from others through touch, as they tended to muddle in his head. It was the source of much drama in his relationship with that loud Berry girl.

Blaine settled on the other side of Kurt, sandwiched closely in between his boyfriend and the arm of the sofa.

“No problem, Carole.” Kurt smiled, before continuing a conversation he had clearly been having with Blaine in the kitchen, “Broadway is the easy answer. I think of everyone, that’s where Rachel’s going to end up.”

Burt pretended not to listen while also subtly looking over the top of his paper at the boys.

“You would be incredible too though.” Blaine gestured enthusiastically, his emotions sparking a distant resonance of kindness and support within Burt, but nothing clearer than that.

Elizabeth would have sensed more. She had been at the top end of what was considered average for an adult’s ES level, around 3.7. It had always been a mystery to the sense doctors how Kurt had ended up with such a low level, but then, the genetics of these things were still very much in the theoretical stages, and Burt couldn’t even begin to grasp it.

Kurt seemed to glow at Blaine’s comment, leaning over to peck a light kiss to the tip of Blaine’s nose in a gesture so domestic that it made Burt’s heart ache. Blaine’s nose wrinkled as Kurt pulled back, “That’s very sweet, Blaine, but I think you’re the only one who’d say that. It’s okay; I came to terms with it a ages ago, and planned accordingly.”

Blaine grinned, “Okay, so what do you want to do?”

“Fashion.” Kurt’s answer was immediate. “I’ve been building my portfolio of outfits and sketches since before high school, and have a list a mile long of potential schools. It’s just… people can’t read my emotions, and dismiss my singing straight away. But in fashion… by designing clothes, I can put a piece of me in them. My feelings, my emotions, all out there for the world to see. It’s been my dream since I discovered the accessorising ability of scarves.” Kurt laughed, trying to lighten his admission with a flippant comment.

“Hey, dude, that’s really cool, I didn’t know you wanted to do that.” Finn grinned, before his face morphed into a grimace, “I have no idea what I want to do, and Miss Pillsbury is gonna start asking us soon. What about you Blaine? Though I guess you’ve got a year to go still…”

Burt tensed. Finn didn’t know about Blaine’s levels. Hell, Carole didn’t know, although Burt was pretty sure she had made some pretty good guesses. Kurt worried his lip between his teeth, shooting Blaine a tentative glance that held too many words for Burt to read.

Blaine just shrugged, far too casually for Burt to feel comfortable. It wasn’t right, he was just a kid. “I don’t know. I never really bother thinking about it.”

Kurt flinched, and Burt noticed how Blaine just quietly took Kurt’s hand, his attention still on Finn.

The taller boy frowned, oblivious, “What, like never? Not even when you were a kid?”

“You just said yourself you don’t know what you want to do!” Kurt snapped defensively.

“I used to want to write music. Be some famous composer, or write songs for other people to bring to life.” Blaine’s voice was quiet, wistful.

Kurt’s head whipped around, “What?”

Blaine’s eyes were in his lap. “I love music. I love what it can do, the stories it can tell, how it can touch people…” He seemed to shake himself, “But there’s no point wishing. It’ll never happen.”

“Why not, man?” Finn asked incredulously, oblivious to the look of lost devastation on Kurt’s face, “You’re awesome at that piano, I’ve heard you. You could do it, don’t give up on your dream.”

While Kurt looked ready to cry, Blaine seemed to take it all in his stride, which only made Burt all the more angry at the injustice of it all. “Thanks Finn. I appreciate it.”

00000

“He’s going to be strong, like his daddy.”

Burt had never felt so bone tired in his life.

“Thank you, for being so understanding.” The voice of John Anderson sounded just as world weary as Burt felt, and the gratefulness rang loudly.

Burt decided to cut straight to it. On the one hand, he was incredibly proud of how Kurt had handled himself today, of how he had been there for Blaine, but on the other… “He’s getting worse, isn’t he?”

John’s shoulders seemed to slump, “I think he is, yes. The doctors tell us this is all normal but… Emily blames me, for letting Blaine have his way and return to school.”

Burt liked the Andersons. They were good people, and loved Blaine dearly. He also really didn’t envy their position. “You can’t wrap them up forever. God knows, there are times I wish I could with Kurt, but in the end, they’re their own person. They’ve got to live for themselves.” He hoped he wasn’t over-stepping. It was one thing for him to talk about his own son, whose life expectancy was actually longer than the average person, and another thing to be in John’s shoes.

Still, the taller man just sighed, “I completely agree with you. Blaine has so much to give, and if it wasn’t for McKinley, he would never have met Kurt.” His amber eyes were serious, “Your son has done so much for mine, I don’t think even he really knows how much.”

Burt shrugged one shoulder helplessly, “I just wish there was more we could do.”

John’s eyes bore into Burt, “What you’re already doing is more than enough. Do you know how many parents would be comfortable having Blaine around their kids as much as those two are together?”

Burt grinned wryly, without humour. “I do, actually. Lizzy and I, we really had to fight to get the school to even accept Kurt into kindergarten. They were worried about the problems he’d cause the other kids. I remember, it was one week before he was due to start, and the school was still digging their heels in. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was ready to give up. The doctors had given us this big speech, when Kurt was born and they told us how low he is on the scale.”

“I think we got a similar talk,” John said sombrely. “‘Your child will have a difficult life, but don’t worry, society has safeguards in place to ensure that he will live as normal a life as possible.’”

Burt snorted, “Yeah. Safeguards. Lock them away from the normals and pretend they don’t exist, more like. Wait till the problem goes away. I won’t lie, Kurt’s diagnosis was a big deal for me, a lot to take in. But Liz… it’s like she always knew, even before the doctors. She wouldn’t back down, not one inch. She fought for him, and that was enough to kick me up the ass. When… when I lost her, I swore I’d keep fighting for Kurt. And if he wants to be with Blaine, then I’ll stand by him, and your son.”

John swallowed harshly, nodding jerkily, “I really appreciate it, truly Burt you are a better man than most.” He coughed, a discordant sound melding into a broken laugh that held too much loss. “Emily… she’s terrified of losing Blaine, but… I think she’s starting to give up. It’s just getting so hard… We’re as exhausted as Blaine most of the time these days. But I just… I just can’t. I can’t give up. I can’t give him up.”

Burt swallowed, feeling the other father’s desperation seeping into the air in a cloying mass. He stepped forward, resting a solid hand on John’s shoulder, “You ever feel like stopping by the garage for a coffee or anything, you make sure you do that, alright? Let’s face it, ours sons up there are in pretty damn deep, and with everything else…”

Though the physical contact, Burt got a better read on the other man in a rush of fear gratefulness loneliness stubbornness loss. “Thanks, Burt. I appreciate it.”

00000

“How do you even know it’s gonna be a boy? We ain’t even been to the doctors yet!”

“I just do. Don’t argue with me Burt, you know you always lose.”

“Hey there little guy, I’m your dad!”

“Oh my god, you’re insufferable! Get your hands off my stomach and our son until you’ve washed your hands! You’re covered in motor oil!”

“Yeah, you love me.”

“Unfortunately. I don’t know why I… oh…”

“What is it? You okay? Oh my god, is it the baby, Liz what do I do?”

“If you’re going to be like this for the entirety of this pregnancy, we’re going to have some serious problems.”

“Well don’t pull faces like that then! Or send off those damn vibes of yours! You scared me half to death!”

“I’m sorry… I just… he’s going to be special, I can feel it.”

“Special? Of course he will be, he’s ours, ain’t he?”

“No, I mean… different. Promise me you’ll fight for him.”

“Liz, don’t be daft… You’re just scaring yourself, sensing things that aren’t even there.”

“Oh no, I can sense him alright.”

“Elizabeth. Love. If it makes you feel better, then yes, I promise, I’ll fight for him, even if when we get you to the doctors they tell us he turns out to be a she with twelve toes and an ES level of ten.”

“I love you, so much.”

“Well, I am pretty a pretty amazing husband.”

“And you’re going to be an incredible father.”

TBC

Chapter Text

The golden stars swam; a lulled reflection on an inky, mirror-smooth ocean. There was a perfect symmetry to it, all at once so intimate, and yet, so vastly incomprehensibly huge. Where once there were fleeting sparks and blurred lines, now there was an artist’s landscape, engraved brightly into dreams.

Blaine let himself float, cutting languid ripples into the glassy water, resting on the cusp of sleep and waking.

And he let himself realise something, here, in the one place where things were okay, where he couldn’t be scared, where he didn’t need to think about the consequences. Here, where instinct and emotions weaved a sure path through his body… between their bodies, wrapped tightly in sleep.

There was no going back. There were no blurred lines, no too-quick sparks. Not anymore.

Blaine had passed the point of no return. If he lost Kurt now, then Blaine would lose himself as well.

That thought, that knowledge… it should have been terrifying, but somehow when he was here, floating in an ocean of stars, it was happy, warming, safe. It was a future, a hope; a smile and a laugh. A love.

And he knew… he knew that Kurt knew too.

But that’s the problem with emotions. That’s the problem with instinct. Dreams are sharp, beliefs are clear, conviction is set.

Until you wake up, open your eyes.

Realism.

Good intentions.

Rationality.

Logic.

Reason.

Doubt.

Don’t drown…

00000

“Good morning…” Kurt’s voice was soft, ever so soft; a secret murmur into the dawn-dark room.

Blaine blinked languidly. His body felt heavy, but in a nice way. Kurt’s sleepy contentment caressed his skin, and for a moment he was still there, floating near the shore.

The spell broke, and Blaine twisted and wriggled, a wide grin spreading across his face, “Good morning to you too. We should do this more often.”

Kurt rolled onto his side, elbow on the pillow as he propped up his head. He arched an eyebrow, and Blaine could feel a wry amusement tickle down his fingertips where he stroked feather-light patterns over Kurt’s bicep. “I would rather not watch you go through something like yesterday again anytime soon.”

“You know what I mean.”

Kurt paused, his eyes dropping to stare at his own fingers where they toyed with the buttons of Blaine’s pyjama top. It was so perfect, so domestic, so normal. Blaine wanted to wake up like this every day for the rest of his life. “Yes, Blaine, I know what you mean.”

The words spilled from Blaine’s lips, an abrupt subject switch as memories of the previous day started to prickle at his chest. “I need to think of what to tell them.”

Kurt’s smile fell, and his eyes lost some of their spark, “You don’t owe them anything.”

“I know.”

“It doesn’t have to be the truth.”

“I know…”

“We don’t even have to see them until Monday, we can just…”

“Let it fester?” Blaine sighed, rubbing his face. “I think I just want to get it over with. And… oh no… I really need to see if Sam’s okay…”

Blaine struggled to sit up. He had completely forgotten about his friend! It had just been too much; the culmination of Sam’s build-up of emotions that past week, and Mercedes’ lecture, and the glee club’s attempt at a relationship intervention. Blaine had just felt so attacked and raw, Sam’s breakdown being enough to tip his own fragile emotion balance over the edge.

“Blaine, Blaine stop!” Blaine could feel a light prickle of frustration and worry under his fingertips from Kurt, and knew what was coming. “Please, I like Sam too, but you need to focus on yourself first. I don’t blame Sam for yesterday, I couldn’t, but he’s not healthy for you right now!”

Blaine simply waited for Kurt to finish his plea. Because he could. Because even though he could feel Kurt’s frustration, Kurt’s fear, they remained just that; Kurt’s. Just someone else’s emotions, lapping at the shore, only to wash back out again with the tide.

“Like you’re not healthy for me?” Blaine asked quietly.

“I… no…” Kurt stumbled over his words, “That’s different Blaine, Mercedes is wrong.”

“I’m sorry I scared you yesterday, but you need to understand Kurt, this is my life. You’re my boyfriend, and Sam is my friend, and the glee club… they’re my friends too I think. You have to let me make my own choices, even if you think I’m going to get hurt.”

Kurt’s eyes misted as his gaze dropped once more to his finger’s rhythmic movements over Blaine’s pyjama buttons, “I don’t want to lose you.”

Blaine sighed inwardly, wishing he could bring himself to speak the lying placation that would make Kurt feel better. But he couldn’t.

Instead, he leant forward and brushed his lips to the corner of Kurt’s mouth, where that adorable dimple should be if only Kurt would smile. He tasted salt and felt Kurt’s shoulder jerk slightly with a swallowed sob. Close in his ear, he heard Kurt let out a shaky, steadying breath.

Neither spoke again until Blaine’s dad knocked on the door for breakfast.

00000

Sam popped a fry into his mouth, “And they just… let it go?” His voice was sceptical.

Blaine shrugged, detachedly impressed at how well Sam had mastered the art of talking around food. They were sat out on Blaine’s back porch, greasy brown paper bags of fast food scrunched between them.

“I think Kurt’s death glares helped them accept things pretty quickly,” Blaine said fondly.

Sam snorted, sending a bright shot of amusement up Blaine’s spine. “Nice. I’m glad. You guys are awesome together, and an idiot could tell how good he is for you. Even before you told me, I could see that much.”

Blaine couldn’t help but smile at Sam’s casual certainty. This was why he was glad he had told Sam about his ES level, why he was so happy he and the other boy had gotten to know each other more. Sure, Sam was having a rough time of it recently, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the brightest, warmest souls Blaine had ever met. “I think it was easy for them to believe me. People getting a bit unstable when they’re ill is a normal thing. People having a freak out because their ES is way higher than anyone can really imagine, that’s scary.”

Sam nodded wisely, “Yeah, I guess… but what if it happens again? Or if you actually get sick? Wait, dude, what if you get sick?”

Blaine grimaced, but tried to shrug off Sam’s sudden curiosity, “It’s not as bad as you’d think. It’s actually more unpleasant for those around me to be honest.”

Sam shook his head, “I dunno, I got tonsillitis once when I was a kid and though I don’t remember much, I know it wasn’t good.”

“I think it depends on the person.” Blaine shrugged, not really wanting to get into the topic. He had never been badly ill in his life, but when he thought back to the last time he had caught a cold… well, that has been distinctly not fun. Not for him, or anyone in close proximity to him.

“Did you ever read the issue of X-Men where Storm got sick and her powers went haywire so the weather started copying every else’s emotions, but inside the mansion?”

Blaine snorted at Sam’s ability to link everything back to a geek reference. “I don’t think I did…”

“I can lend it to you if you like. Stevie’s got some of my old comics.”

“Thanks.” Blaine flopped backwards on his elbows. “Do you ever wonder why Superman has an empathic sense?”

Sam blinked. A flicker of honest confusion skittered through breeze. “No. I mean, why wouldn’t he? He’s Superman. It’d be a bit dumb if he couldn’t. It’d also blow his cover really quickly. Like, if he was the only one at the Daily Planet who couldn’t sense emotions, Lois Lane might catch on.”

Blaine shook his head, “But he’s an alien.”

“Yeah, but they couldn’t exactly have their hero low on the ES scale could they?” Sam bit his lip. “You mean they could have let him pretend he was a human like Kurt, don’t you?”

“But they would never have written him like that.”

“No. They wouldn’t have.” Sam agreed quietly.

00000

Monday swung around, and it was like Blaine’s small episode on Friday had never happened. He had been ill, and now he wasn’t, and that was that.

If only real life was that simple.

Instead, all the buzz of the glee kids was about their impending trip to Nationals and New York. Sam, Blaine, and Kurt were last week’s gossip.

“I’m just saying that having Finn and I do a duet is clearly the only option. Everyone knows that we have the best chemistry and audience connection. This is Nationals. We can’t afford to take any risks.”

“And I’m just saying that maybe it would be nice to let some other couple duet for a change.” Tina snapped back.

“I’m sorry, what? Are you saying you want Mike to duet with you at Nationals?” Rachel asked incredulously.

“Hey, whoa, don’t bring me into this.” Mike sidled away from the two warring girls.

“I’m just saying maybe it’d be nice if just one of our competitions sets wasn’t ‘Rachel, Finn, and their backing singers’!” Tina screeched.

“Okay guys, let’s calm it down a bit...” Mr Schuester tried to step in, “We have plenty of time to discuss the set list.”

“Nationals is in two weeks, Mr Schue,” Kurt said flatly. “What do you want us to do? Write a few original songs in the hotel room when we get to New York?”

“It’ll all work out fine, guys, stop panicking!”

“So in other words, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.” Kurt rolled his eyes to Blaine. “At least you’ll be on hand to help avert disaster. I hope there’s a piano somewhere in the hotel…”

Blaine tried to focus on Kurt and ignore the electric bolts of tension and pride on the other side of the room. “Umm… I’m not coming to New York…”

Kurt’s head whipped around, “What? What do you mean? Of course you’re coming.”

“Kurt, the club can barely afford to send its performers, let alone random hangers-on. Besides, me and New York? Possibly the worst potential combination in history; there is no way in this world that my parents would let me go.”

Kurt seemed to deflate, soft sorrow welling in resignation. “I guess that makes sense. It’s just… we’ll be gone for nearly a week…”

Blaine pressed down against the anxious knot that suddenly formed in his stomach, instead quirking a fond smile at his boyfriend, “You’re going to miss me!”

Kurt scowled, folding his arms as he haughtily replied, “You don’t have to look so smug about it.”

Despite his apparent annoyance, Blaine could feel Kurt’s undertones of blushing warmth wash over him. Grinning, he forced his arm through Kurt’s and dropped his head onto his boyfriend’s shoulder, enjoying the contact. “If it helps, I’ll miss you too. School will be really empty without you guys.”

“There’s always the band?” Kurt offered doubtfully.

Blaine wrinkled his nose, “Yeah. I guess.”

“Seriously though, will you be okay?” A fissure of concern cracked open between them, making the knot in Blaine’s stomach tighten further.

“It’s not like I haven’t braved high school without you before,” Blaine mumbled quietly, his soft tones swallowed in the echoing shrillness of Rachel Berry’s voice. “And when you get back, you’ll have all these amazing stories to tell me.”

Doubt mingled with concern, but both emotions were overshadowed with a crescendo of ego from the other side of the room. Kurt didn’t reply, and the knot in Blaine’s stomach didn’t loosen for the rest of the day.

TBC

Chapter Text

Blaine turned his phone over in his hands. It wasn’t going to ring, but that didn’t stop him from staring at it with the vainest hope that it would.

They had made an agreement before Kurt had left. Phone calls would be a bad idea; there was too much risk of Blaine’s senses getting confused, and Kurt wouldn’t be anywhere near to help him calm down. Since Kurt had landed in New York, they had been texting, but the words had been brief as the other boy clearly got caught up in the magic of the city.

Blaine shoved his phone into his bag in frustration. He needed something to take his mind off it all. Something to distract him from the fantasies, wishes and dreams that placed Blaine in New York too, performing on stage alongside his friends and Kurt.

“Watch it freak!”

Hatred, malice, and relished cruelty exploded up Blaine’s arm, the onslaught of feelings bleeding into the physical pain in his other arm as a random jock shoulder-checked him into a locker bank. Instinctively, Blaine curled into himself, head ducked until the jock disappeared laughing around the corner.

Breathe. Just breathe. Count to ten. Blaine kept his eyes squeezed tight shut, trying to swallow against the rising bile in his throat as self-hatred twisted in the pit of his stomach; a mutated version of the jock’s emotions rooting itself deep within him.

When he finally felt able to open his eyes, the corridor was deserted. The bell must have rung already. Wonderful.

Unsteadily, Blaine pushed himself up from the lockers and began to meander his way to his next class. The teacher scowled at his lateness and mumbled apology; her bored irritation itching under Blaine’s skin like millions of ants.

Head down, Blaine slid into his seat. Unconsciously, he glanced to his right where normally he would see Sam and Tina. Their empty desks only made him feel worse.

He tried to focus on the class without much success. His mind wouldn’t stop wandering, his leg wouldn’t stop bouncing, his hands wouldn’t stop twitching… By the time the class actually ended, Blaine was too worked up. He didn’t know what to do with himself. Neither of his parents were able to pick him up, which essentially boiled his choices down to school bus or walk. And after the last few days he’d had, sitting in a moving container of emotionally charged teenagers was not where Blaine wanted to be right now. So that meant walking.

He held back, waiting for the front tide of students rushing to leave school grounds to go ahead of him before dropping off his stuff in his locker.

He didn’t want to go home. Home was empty. Home was nothing.

All at once he was frustrated, bored, lonely, jittery, angry. His flesh crawled, and his skin felt too tight for his body. Hands clenched into fists, and Blaine’s feet led him to the auditorium.

It was dead. Empty. Lifeless. Stark emergency lighting was the only thing able to pierce the darkness, carving sharp shadows onto Blaine’s skin.

The light and the life had gone to New York and left Blaine behind.

Chest tightening, Blaine fumbled for his phone. Why wouldn’t his hands stop shaking?

No new messages.

Kurt…

Standing in the vast auditorium, Blaine felt small as the yawning space swallowed him whole, and breathing just became so much harder.

Why had he come back to school? Why had he let himself fall for Kurt? Why had he let himself think he could have a life?

Five days without Kurt to offer support, and Blaine was a wreck.

Detachedly, Blaine recognised that he was really struggling to breathe now. His chest was tight with a swell of anxiety; every snatch of air seemed to need a huge amount of energy.

His limbs felt heavy and his vision started to swim and god please just stop stop stop-

Calm down, calm down, you’re panicking, calm down-

But his hands still kept shaking and the massive dark room refused to relinquish its grip.

Disjointed blurs and dismembered thoughts drowned in a tidal wave of fear as Blaine felt his knees buckle. He couldn’t calm down, he couldn’t stop, he couldn’t stop, he couldn’t stop shaking breathing crying drowning drowning drowning-

Footsteps echoed, shouts rang – calm down, you’re panicking, calm down – hands grasped and terror fear panic panic panic panic-

It was the last push. Iron weights forged from the emotions of a stranger manacled themselves to Blaine’s feet, and dragged him under to the darkness.

00000

“Blaine? Hey buddy, you with me?”

Blaine felt like he was stuffed with cotton wool. His limbs felt detached, and his disorientation fuelled a confused panic as his eyes shot open and registered three things in quick succession that did nothing to quell his rising terror.

Hospital bed.

IV line.

Nurse.

“I’ll go and get the doctor.” The nurse bustled off, and Blaine’s vision tunnelled.

But then strong, warm hands were grasping his shoulders solidly, forcing his head to turn the other way to the owner of the first voice. “Blaine, calm down, it’s okay, you’re safe, calm down, breathe for me there, bud, come on… that’s it.”

“C-coop?” Blaine stumbled over his brother’s name, the act of voicing it already making him feel slightly less agitated.

“Right here squirt.” Cooper smiled widely, his happiness at seeing his little brother awake painting the room with washes of yellows and oranges; watercolours of warmth.

“What… what happened?” Blaine struggled to sit up, nearly dislodging his IV in the process.

Cooper leapt of out his uncomfortable-looking hospital seat to help him, propping up pillows, “What do you remember?”

“I was in McKinley’s auditorium, and then…” Blaine could remember the swell of terror, the talons of known fear puncturing his heart. He swallowed roughly, determined not to send himself into another spiral, “I passed out?”

Cooper nodded, his mouth a thin line, “A couple of kids found you, and thank god one of them had a brain, because they ran and got your school’s cheerleading coach. She had the good sense to pull the other kid off you before their emotions made you even worse. Mom and Dad are with Dr Monroe now, but they think you had a panic attack…”

Blaine blinked stupidly. “A panic attack? That’s… that’s it?”

That’s it?” Cooper parroted incredulously, “I fly in from New York on a surprise trip to visit my little brother, and end up going straight from the airport to the freaking hospital because I get a call from Dad to tell me to meet them there, Blaine’s collapsed! And you say ‘that’s it?’”

Blaine shrank back, and Cooper’s emotions splattered immediate ink spots of guilt. “I’m sorry…”

Cooper scrubbed his hands over his face. “No, Blaine, please don’t apologise. I was just scared. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Blaine fiddled with a loose thread on the starch, too-stiff hospital sheets. “I just thought… when I woke up, I thought I’d had another empathic episode.”

“Well, at first so did we.” Both Anderson brothers looked up to see Dr Monroe in the doorway, flanked by their parents. Blaine’s stomach squirmed guiltily. His mom looked so pale and tired, and his dad’s face was drawn and defeated. Dr Monroe smiled professionally and walked up to the other side of his bed. “However, your teacher said that you were alone before you were found, and we did a blood test to look for any kind of severe chemical imbalance that we would expect from a full episode, and nothing really out of the ordinary showed up. If you’re feeling up to it, Blaine, I would like it if we could have a chat about what you were doing just before you collapsed.”

Blaine didn’t really like the idea of that. “Are we in Columbus?”

“No, Blaine, we’re still in Lima. Dr Monroe was kind enough to drive down here rather than have you moved.” His mom smiled thinly, nervous hands trying to fluff his pillows in an attempt to busy herself.

Dr Monroe nodded, “The doctors here were unsure if your collapse was related directly to your ES level, I was simply here to consult. If all goes well with our little chat, you won’t even have to stay overnight.” Her smile was simultaneously warm and cold; the warmth in her eyes juxtaposed against the chill of her carefully shrouded emotions.

Blaine nodded with dull resignation, but then his eyes widened, “Does Kurt know I’m here?”

More guilt, this time from his mom, crackling in a shower of emerald sparks. “You’ve only been here a couple of hours, sweetie, and we didn’t think you would want to worry Kurt. Not with his competition being so important…”

“Oh. Okay.” Blaine wasn’t sure how to feel. On the one hand, he was relieved that Kurt wasn’t worrying himself sick over Blaine, but on the other… he really wished Kurt was here.

And then it was all business. His parents and Cooper waited outside while the doctor grilled Blaine for the complete rundown of what had happened. Her face gave nothing away and, for once, the emotional quiet from her really unnerved Blaine. Every time he mentioned Kurt, he felt like he was missing out on some secret conclusion she was drawing. When they were finished, she disappeared with Blaine’s parents again, and sure Cooper kept him company chatting about what he had been up to in New York, but Blaine wasn’t an idiot.

No one was telling him anything. They were leaving him out, trying to protect him, explaining only what they thought he could handle.

Cooper tried his hardest to cheer Blaine up, but there was only so much he could do. Once again, Blaine wished Kurt was here. Kurt was strong and sure, Blaine’s anchor in a storm. And yet, every time he thought of Kurt, he just felt miserably guilty. Kurt was enjoying himself in an incredible city, and here was Blaine wishing that he was still here in Ohio watching his broken boyfriend get worse.

Tomorrow, Kurt would be back, and Blaine would be out of hospital.

Suddenly, Blaine knew. He knew what to do. If he didn’t tell Kurt, then his boyfriend wouldn’t worry or feel guilty about not being here, and Blaine could forget it ever happened. Because the last thing Blaine needed was Kurt to think that he had to stay with Blaine out of some twisted pity. He couldn’t stand the thought of Kurt giving up his New York fashion dreams for Blaine, just so he could watch his boyfriend descend into insanity in his early twenties before finally dying.

He would have one more year of selfish happiness with Kurt, and then he would let him go.

What Blaine didn’t realise was that he wouldn’t be given that choice.

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt returned from New York full of excitement and stories, tinged only by the smallest hint of melancholy over their loss at Nationals. Blaine was careful not to let on any indication of his visit to the hospital in the week Kurt had been absent. Instead, he hung onto every one of Kurt’s words with attentiveness and a smile, and Kurt remained blissfully oblivious.

Summer crept up on them much sooner than anyone had expected. The lack of school – or more importantly the lack of day to day contact with its students – was something Blaine could really get used to. He wasn’t sure if he had felt this good since before Sadie Hawkins. Everything was just perfect, and Kurt’s constant presence only served to add to that perfection.

At least, that was how the first week felt.

On Sunday, Blaine had meant to meet Kurt at his house, but he had been out with Cooper and they had got caught in a traffic jam on the way back from the store. It had been really nice to have Cooper around for a while. His big brother was due to fly to LA in a couple of days for a guest spot on a high-flying TV drama; taking a break from the stage for a while. But when they finally got back home, Kurt wasn’t there. They had only been twenty minutes late or so, and Blaine had texted to let him know.

Hey! I thought you’d be here? :) x

No answer. Blaine figured that Kurt was probably in the car on his way over; he probably left his house later thanks to Blaine’s warning text.

To kill time waiting, he caved to Cooper’s pestering for Blaine to help run some lines, but he couldn’t help but be distracted. He wasn’t sure why either. Kurt was home in Lima, and yes while the other boy’s absence had been a trigger for his panic attack the other week, Blaine didn’t think he should be dwelling on Kurt’s lateness as much as he was. There was an unsettled energy in his core that he couldn’t explain away; a crackle of uncertainty that left pinprick burns all over his skin.

Blaine’s mental absence did not go unnoticed by Cooper for long; the older brother was far too used to looking for those little tells that Blaine didn’t even realise he gave off. “Call him.”

Blaine jerked, frowning at his copy of script for a second in confusion, looking for a line that wasn’t there. “What?”

“Kurt. Call him. You’re clearly not in character, and I assume that wayward boyfriend of yours is the reason.” Cooper raised an eyebrow pointedly.

“I can’t call him!” Blaine shook his head, the multitude of ways that could go wrong already whirling around his head.

Cooper frowned, “Why? I know you hate serious conversations, but you guys are great at the moment, and all you’d be doing would be asking where he is. He probably just got held up at his dad’s shop or something.”

Blaine folded his arms, unable to explain the squirming feeling in his stomach.

“Everything okay boys?” Their mother entered the living room. She had been in the garden reading when they got home and they hadn’t wanted to disturb her.

“Blaine’s paranoid because Kurt hasn’t called yet when he’s probably about three seconds from pulling into the drive.” Cooper supplied with a grin. Blaine gritted his teeth; Cooper was still enjoying himself far too much when it came to teasing Blaine about how head over heels he was for his boyfriend.

“Oh, I’m sorry Blaine I thought Kurt would have texted you – he called the house earlier to say he couldn’t make it.” Their mom smiled slightly, and a crackle of… of… something nudging behind Blaine’s eyes.

Cooper frowned, a wash of deep emerald blooming against a soft white canvas, but Blaine was too distracted to interpret his brother’s emotions. He desperately wanted to find out where Kurt was, but at the same time, he was determined to try and prove to his family that he wasn’t going to end up in the hospital again anytime soon. He needed to show that he was okay, that Kurt’s absence and silence didn’t hurt him this much, or make his head pound in clenching confusion.

He needed not to need Kurt. That was the only way he was going to get through the next few years without losing his mind.

Except… that was so much easier in theory than in practice. Because Blaine did need Kurt. He needed his smile, his laugh, his touch… his love. Whenever the other boy wasn’t around, Blaine was lost, struggling against blind currents and dragging swells in an ocean of emotions too dark and deep to comprehend.

Blaine forced himself to straighten his shoulders. He made himself not react. He would wait until tomorrow. He would be normal, and not needy or weird or clingy. Get over it.

Please.

00000

Blaine awoke the next morning with an odd feeling of emptiness. Molly blinked at him from her nest in his comforter, and he scratched her ears, letting her contentment fill him for a brief moment. The feeling didn’t last when he broke contact; he was too busy struggling not to check his phone as soon as he sat up.

He lost the battle, but as Molly was the only one to witness his lack of will, he decided he could live with it. As long as Kurt-

Hey sorry about yesterday. I can come over this morning if your house is free? Xx

Blaine blinked at Kurt’s odd message. There was no explanation, and it held none of Kurt’s normal chirpiness. Also… why does his house need to be free? Sure, their make-out sessions had been becoming less and less innocent as they’d neared the end of school but… the tone just seemed off. There was no suggestion or playfulness, or even embarrassment. Sure, it was just a text, and Blaine knew he was pretty poor at interpreting anything even when it was face to face but…

He was nervous. He shouldn’t be nervous. Why was he nervous?

Sure dad has work and mom and cooper planned to go out this morning. Come over whenever! Xx

Blaine’s fingers tapped out what he felt was a good neutral response. It wasn’t long until Kurt beeped back.

See you in an hour? Xx

An hour. Okay. Good.

Blaine managed to keep himself from creating elaborately constructed doom scenarios in his head in the hour it took him to get dressed and force some breakfast down. He didn’t know why he was feeling so off kilter; the unsettled creeping that had clung to his skin since he had got home yesterday hadn’t dissipated like he’d hoped it would with a little sleep.

The door bell rang too soon. Blaine nervously flattened a loose curl that wasn’t even there before pulling on a grin and opening the door. Molly wound her way between Blaine’s legs, her clear blue eyes staring unwaveringly up at Kurt.

His boyfriend smiled softly, slowly, in a way that was both guarded and yet so pleadingly open, “Can I come in?”

Blaine stepped back, but Molly’s ears flattened with a hiss, her tail twitching as she stood her ground. Blaine frowned, confused. Molly liked Kurt… “Hey, stop that.” He scooped her up, the unsettled feeling in the pit of his stomach growing defensive and even more nervous with Molly’s disquiet.

Kurt stared at the cat in Blaine’s arms as he shut the front door behind him, “Is she okay?”

“I don’t know what’s gotten into her…” Blaine shook his head apologetically. The cat wriggled, hissing, and Blaine was forced to put her down. She immediately skittered aside to crouch not too far away from the boys, tail still twitching, clearly upset.

The taller boy fidgeted slightly, his fingers twitching oddly as his gaze remained fixed on the cat, “I’m sorry about yesterday.” His voice was soft, laced with an emotion so deep that Blaine wasn’t sure he could reach it.

“That’s okay…” Every syllable felt precise, measured, a perfectly balanced weight on his tongue before it slipped out.

“I just… I needed time to think…” Kurt choked out, his words equally precise.

Blaine’s heart spiked. He didn’t know why.

Kurt’s outfit wasn’t as eclectically bright as normal. Blaine noticed, because normally Kurt stands out so beautifully in the reserved décor of Blaine’s house.

“Kurt… What’s going on? And please don’t pretend there’s not anything going on because I saw you two days ago and everything was fine and now… is something wrong? Is your dad okay?” Blaine struggled to sort out his thoughts.

“No, Blaine, my dad’s fine,” Kurt replied quietly.

“Kurt, please!” Blaine’s voice choked, breaking at a swell of resigned melancholy that didn’t belong to him.

“I can’t do this.” The words tripped jagged into the still air as too-silent tears began to spill from Kurt’s eyes.

“W-what?” Blaine stumbled, his chest suddenly tight as he tried to understand.

Kurt finally pulled his eyes from Molly, and somehow managed to meet Blaine’s bewildered gaze. As soon as he did, Blaine wished he hadn’t. There was a horrible determination there, piercing though the misery and the tears. The kind of determination that normally made Kurt shine, but now only made Blaine’s heart shatter. “I can’t do this anymore, Blaine. I’m sorry…”

Somewhere from the tides Blaine pulled a sense of anger and hurt. He had a right to know what was going through his boyfriend’s head, “What’s going on Kurt? I didn’t think anything was wrong! Talk to me! Don’t just shut me out and run away! I won’t let you.”

Kurt’s jaw set, “I’m not giving you a choice, Blaine. You can’t make me stay if I don’t want to.” His voice wobbled, all sharp edges and broken notes. His hands were clenched so tightly into fists that Blaine was sure he must be drawing blood from his palms.

“And you can’t just leave without giving me some sort of explanation! You said! You said you wouldn’t leave me! You said we were in this together, and now… what? You lied? Why are you saying these things, Kurt? Please!” Horrible, wrenching, breath-snatching sobs were clawing at Blaine’s lungs, and god, he couldn’t breathe but he had to know. How had his life started to fall apart so fast?

“New York.” Kurt choked out.

“What?” Blaine was so side-swiped by Kurt’s reply that he nearly forgot he was crying.

Now Kurt had broken the seal, all his words started spilling out, each stronger and surer than the last. “You know I want to go to New York eventually, and when I was there I just… Blaine, I’ll have to leave you alone and I just… isn’t it better, that we end this now, before we both get in too deep? I don’t want to hurt you…”

“And what you’re doing right now?” Blaine’s voice was chilled and stuttered, coldly disbelieving that this person in front of his was the same boy he thought he knew so well, “That’s not hurting me? We’ve talked about New York! We’ve talked about everything! How can you do this? How can you just stand there? I don’t believe you, you’re lying. Why are you doing this?

“I’m sorry Blaine.” Kurt shook his head, his shoulders too stiff, his eyes too dead. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I realised how unfair it is to you, to keep this going when I’ll be leaving-”

In over a year!” Blaine yelled. He couldn’t help it. Blood was rushing in his ears as his head span with a horrible potion of both his and Kurt’s crashing emotions, building and building and- He bit his lip, wrapping his arms around his torso, all anger suddenly gone from his body, leaving him defeated, “Please don’t do this.”

He took a step forward, hand outstretched, only for his heart to plummet as Kurt immediately retreated away from his touch. Tears scrunched in Kurt’s eyes, beautifully staining his skin. “I’m sorry Blaine. I really am.”

He turned to go, fingers grazing the door handle-

“But I love you.” The words were soft and lost, almost reflexive in the way Blaine felt them fall from his lips. And for the first time, he knew for certain that they were fact, absolute fact. The love was his own emotion, deep and rooted in his heart, and it was all for Kurt.

The other boy’s whole body seemed to stutter, palm thudding hard against the wood of the door as if Blaine’s words physically took away his balance. Kurt gasped, wretched and ragged, fingertips white where they pressed against the door. In the still moment, Blaine’s eyes took in every detail of Kurt’s shaking form, waiting, hoping, wishing… he didn’t know.

But then Kurt’s shoulders straightened, and Blaine heard a swallowed sob.

He didn’t turn. That was the worst part. Blaine didn’t even get to look into his eyes one last time.

“I’m sorry Blaine, but I don’t love you.”

The words as they came from Kurt were wet with tears, broken and devastated. But the words as they impacted Blaine were ice cold, hard and piercing as they stole his breath.

Then Kurt was gone.

Gone.

And Blaine broke.

TBC

Chapter Text

"Here we are."

"Oh, doesn't it look lovely? So, peaceful. Charming. Don't you think, Blaine?"

Blaine raised his eyes to peer out the car window. The wheels crunched slowly up a long gravel drive as an imposing, old building loomed into view. A sign stood elegantly in the foreground, and just reading the words made Blaine feel sick.

Dalton Academy: Sensory Refuge for Boys

He had finally ended up in the last place he ever wanted to be.

And the absolute worst thing was that he had asked to be enrolled.

"Blaine! Blaine, buddy, please, open this door!"

Blaine could hear Cooper shouting through his bedroom door. He could hear Molly yowling and crying through the wood, as she had been for the past hour, since Blaine had run upstairs and slammed the door behind him.

The world didn't make sense. Nothing made sense, and everything hurt, so, so much. He couldn't focus on anything. He vaguely remembered shoving his chest of drawers in front of the door before collapsing to the floor.

Hide. Hide and it never happened. Stay here, stay safe, exist.

He couldn't stop crying. Crying so hard he felt that his sobs were tearing his lungs and throat to bloody shreds. Detachedly, he wanted to stop. His face was hot, and it was getting hard to breathe, and he knew he was scaring Cooper. But he couldn't, because if he stopped then the moment broke and everything Kurt said would be in the past and far too real. It would have happened.

He needed to exist in limbo. Just a little while longer.

In the end, Cooper had actually climbed around the outside of the house from their parents' bedroom, using the little porch roof to gain a footing. He had been forced to smash Blaine's window to get to him.

Blaine could remember the thud of Cooper's knees as they hit the carpet. He could remember scrambling away from his brother, desperate not to be touched.

He hadn't let anyone near him since – except Molly, but she didn't count. Not even the doctors. He would just scream until they stepped back again.

There wasn't any logic to it, Blaine knew that. But he couldn't explain it. The deep, wrenching knowledge that he would never be able to do something as simple as hold Kurt's hand was just too much. The mere idea of another person touching him, their emotions invading, clawing, burning through him in a way that Kurt's never had… it was terrifying. Because this time, if something happened, Blaine would never have Kurt to pull him back to shore.

Because Kurt was gone.

"I want to go to Dalton."

The only words he had spoken since Kurt had left. He had thought about it, he was clear on it. He had tried to be normal, he had tried to be a teenager, and he had tried to love. Look at him now.

Dalton had always been inevitable. In the deepest recesses of Blaine's soul, he had always known that. But Kurt had shined so brightly that somehow Blaine had been able to forget. He had been able to risk dreaming of a future beyond high school. Of a life beyond his immediate family. Of living, rather than just watching everyone else live from the other side of a window pane.

His parents hadn't fought his request, and his doctors definitely hadn't. Only Cooper had voiced his repeated objections. So, following Dr Monroe's suggestion, Blaine was to enter Dalton on a month trial basis. Unlike normal schools, Dalton offered board all-year round, for cases exactly like Blaine.

It was advertised as a haven.

Blaine wasn't naïve as to see it as anything other than the beginning of the end.

The Academy housed boys aged 14-22, with a sister school across the road offering the same for girls. Apparently gender separation helped stability, or some other crap like that. If you were lucky enough to be lower down the scale, you were only required to board weekly, but if you were like Blaine it was all or nothing. To maintain regularity and prevent upsetting change, obviously.

More like the best way to hide the freaks from society. But who was Blaine to argue. He agreed to this, remember? What was the point of fighting?

He didn't bother answering his parents' attempt at lightening the mood. Cooper sullenly sat next to Blaine; he wouldn't stop staring at his baby brother, like he didn't know who he was looking at. Like Blaine was already dead.

Maybe he was. Who knew anymore?

Blaine noticed a stray grey hair on his pant leg, stark against the fabric. He picked at it sadly. Molly had started shedding fur all over the house in the days leading up to Blaine's departure. The vet said it was stress, Blaine knew it was because of him. Molly knew. She didn't want him to go, she wanted to come with him, but there were no pets allowed, not even for long term residents.

Blaine couldn't even visit her. The trial month meant no leaving the campus in order to 'settle in', and after that if he did stay on he would have to get a prior two week's approval for off-campus visits even to home, subject to the doctors' discretion.

All for his own good, of course.

They had stopped, and the car door was already open, Cooper had taken the bags out of the car for an orderly to take to Blaine's new room, and his parents were staring at him expectantly. A man and woman stood with them, dressed in neat, simple clothes. Not quite scrubs, because this wasn't quite a hospital. Everyone was staring at him. He thought he should probably oblige them.

The woman stepped forwards as he got out of the car. She didn't offer her hand. "Hello Blaine, my name is Dr Hargreaves. I'm Dalton's headmistress. We're very happy to have you stay with us." She smiled, too chipper. Blaine just blinked impassively back at her. Like Dr Monroe, she had been sense trained, but unlike his childhood doctor, he couldn't even get a flicker of truth from her. She was a dead space of false emotions, and the idea of her coming in contact with his skin made Blaine want to scream all over again. In contrast, the man was older, and more honest somehow… he reminded Blaine of Kurt in how his soft emotions brushed lightly at the tips of Blaine's senses, but then he felt sick again, and tried to push that connection far out of his mind. "And this is Mr Edwards. He is one of our counsellors here at Dalton and who you should come to if you have any problems your sense buddy can't solve."

Blaine blinked in blank confusion before a cold dread seeped in. He had forgotten. Part of being a long term resident meant that he would be paired with another boy – hopefully close in age but that wasn't guaranteed. These boys, or 'sense buddies' as they were so charmingly called, were young men who showed exceptional aptitude in the field of sense manipulation. Dalton offered an elite honours program for promising students from all over the country who wanted to enter a career in the sense fields of medicine.

Blaine was going to be given over to one of these enthusiastic mini doctors, who probably were projecting all over the place, as a way of furthering their education. All under the guise of offering Blaine some sort of support system. Except no one seemed to understand that Kurt had been Blaine's support system! Instead, Blaine was going to be stuck with sharing a room suite with a complete stranger who, knowing his luck, would also be homophobic.

He trailed after the adults as they were given the grand tour, but didn't really bother listening. He was too distracted. It was so quiet. They were walking past classrooms and dorms and… nothing. Silence.

Blaine wanted to throw up.

Cooper voiced the begging question, but Blaine had already worked it out, "Hey, sorry, but I can't sense anything? Or anyone?"

"Oh yes," Dr Hargreaves nodded primly, "All our walls have been lead lined, just like most of the ES emergency wards you see in hospitals today. It helps give our students a sense of privacy in their own minds, and stops the… older ones from upsetting any of the younger."

Blaine's skin crawled. Most hospitals have lead lined ES wards because they were newly built extensions. This building was old. Older than any fancy new hospital wards, older than the thought revolution of the 1960s, when people began to think that they might be able to actually help people like him…

He started seeing all the little rooms, the narrow corridors, and too-few windows in a whole new light.

Even if he had been inclined to talk, Blaine wouldn't ask what Dalton had been before it became a school. And from the look on Cooper's face, it looked like he couldn't stomach asking that question either.

Their parents were steadfastly trying to hold a united front as the tour went on, but it was clear from the snatches of emotion Blaine gleaned that they were desperately trying not to have second thoughts. Even his mom, who had always been so in favour of the idea, was looking ready to bolt and take him with her. But she wouldn't, because she thought that in the end this was the best for him. And his dad wouldn't, because Blaine has asked to be here.

Cooper wouldn't because he had no power to stop anyone from putting Blaine back again. But he definitely looked the closest.

"And this is your room. Your sense buddy is in his induction class at the moment; he arrived yesterday. You'll be pleased to know that this will not be his first time interning with us, and that now he has graduated high school he will be staying on at Dalton for our one year preparatory program before he heads to college. Of course, if you have any issues or qualms, just talk to Mr Edwards here and we can easily get you a new buddy."

Blaine's dad pushed open the door to his son's new dorm room. It was large, and spacious. Unlike the classrooms, the dorms were set in a different building. It was still elegant and old, but there was less lead to muddy senses. Two bedrooms adjoined each other, and shared a bathroom in between. The other room was clearly moved into, but Blaine's was sparse and waiting to be filled.

"Well, we'll leave you to unpack and get settled Blaine. I'm afraid this is also where we must ask family to say goodbye. We find it's good in these instances to make a clean cut, and give the student time to settle into their own thoughts."

Blaine's back prickled at the way the woman suddenly switched to talking about him like he wasn't even there. It was like he was just some subject to be studied under a microscope, a creature of habit and expected behavioural patterns.

"Oh. Oh, yes, of course." His mom nodded, her eyes misting as he stepped forwards to hug him tightly, only to have Blaine step out of her reach. She cleared her throat, a crackle of hurt sparking orange against his senses. "You'll do wonderfully here, Blaine, I know you will. I'm so proud of you."

Blaine felt his chest tighten, but he refused to react. He was too aware of the teachers watching him from the corner of the room.

Cooper was next, "I'll make sure dogfood is okay while you're gone." Blaine couldn't help the tiniest quirk of a smile at his big brother's attempt to draw him out, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do, okay? And we'll see you in a month."

Cooper was determined not to allow Blaine to think of this Dalton stint as anything more than a trial. While he appreciated the sentiment, Blaine wished he wouldn't. It only kept them hoping, and he knew now how pointless that was.

Finally, his dad sighed, fingers twitching as if he wanted to hug his son, but knew what would happen if he tried. "Blaine, are you really sure about this?" Blaine nodded, his stomach in knots. What other choice did he have? Surely his dad could understand that this was literally the only option left to him? "No, I need to hear you say it."

Blaine's shoulders drooped, but he found himself giving in all the same, tongue sticky in his mouth as he whispered, "I'm sure Dad."

"Okay then." His dad sounded so resigned. "We love you Blaine, remember. And we'll give you a call as soon as we get home."

"Actually," Dr Hargreaves put in, "I'm afraid there is a no phone policy for new students, for the first 72 hours of stay. And then for the first two weeks it is only incoming calls. After that our students are allowed to use the phone at set times, to a pre-approved list of number laid out by you and Blaine's doctors. This is all explained in the parent handbook, which we can go over before you leave today. It helps the new students settle in to their new environment."

Cooper looked ready to punch something, but their parents just seemed to deflate, nodding as they bid a final goodbye to their son for the next month.

And then Blaine was alone. He supposed he should unpack, but the idea of doing anything proactive just seemed so insurmountable right now. He wanted to sleep. Sleeping was better than crying.

He sat down on the bed, kicking off his shoes as he drew his legs up and lay down on his side. It didn't work. He couldn't even close his eyes. Instead, he just had to content himself with staring at his new room. He just couldn't shut his brain off. Was this even a good idea? What was he doing?

Running away. Giving up. Coward.

A rumble in the hall outside gave Blaine some indication that he had been lying down for longer than he thought. A bang next door made him sit up; the teachers hadn't shut the joining door when they had been showing Blaine's parents the room arrangement, and as he peered around the frame he could still see into the second bedroom.

His buddy had arrived.

The recently graduated high school senior was not who Blaine was expecting… although as he later reasoned, he didn't really know what a sense buddy should look like in the first place.

"Hello. You must be Blaine." The other boy had noticed him, a kind smile rising to his lips as he turned to the direction of Blaine's room. To Blaine's surprised confusion, he stopped just at the edge of his own bedroom, under the doorframe. "May I come in?"

Blaine nodded dumbly. He had expected his sense buddy to be one horrible sparkly bundle of glitter and false enthusiasm, like some twisted parody of a summer camp instructor, all wrapped up in a headache-inducing parcel. But he wasn't. Blaine felt that, if just for that pleasant surprise, the boy deserved some kind of verbal recognition, "Hi…"

The grin the other boy produced at Blaine's voice was bright, but not in a patronising way. He didn't offer his hand as he introduced himself, but there was an overall sense of welcoming that made Blaine feel just that tiny bit better, "My name's Wesley Montgomery, but you can call me Wes if you like. Welcome to Dalton, Blaine."

TBC

Chapter Text

“Mr Anderson, come back here this instant!”

The shout echoed, following, chasing, bouncing off the lead that invaded the walls and poisoned Blaine’s head. He didn’t stop.

He kept running, kept running until he reached his room. Chest heaving, head spinning, he looked wildly for some way to lock the door. Of course, there wasn’t one. Even if Blaine hadn’t pulled that stunt back home and barricaded his family from his bedroom, the only students able to lock their doors from the inside were the sense buddies.

Talking of…

The side door opened, revealing a confused Wesley, “Blaine? I thought you were meant to be with Miss Rosen for another half hour?”

Wes should know; he had escorted Blaine to his first class that morning. After his 72 hour settling period, today had been the start of Blaine’s full integration into Dalton life.

It might only be nine thirty in the morning, but Blaine was already writing the day off as a veritable disaster. He couldn’t even get through a meet and greet session without screwing up.

There was a banging on Blaine’s door, and Wes’ frown deepened as Blaine scrambled backwards.

“Mr Anderson, open this door! I won’t ask you twice.”

Giving Blaine one last look, Wes walked forwards and opened the door himself, “Hi Miss Rosen. Is everything okay?”

The woman in the doorway folded her arms, and Blaine found himself mirroring her posture, defensively taking a further step back towards his bed.

“Ah. Wesley, isn’t it? Do you think you could give me and Blaine a moment?”

Blaine’s shoulders slumped, stomach squirming. But then-

“I’m sorry, Miss Rosen, but that would be against Dalton policy. As I’m sure you’re well aware, student rooms are designated as private to faculty staff unless the student in question poses a serious threat to themselves or others. In addition, any student must be accompanied by their sense buddy at all times when a member of the faculty wishes to address a student in their private space. If you have a problem with Blaine following his session with you, I advise you to go through the proper channels and set up a meeting with Blaine through Mr Edwards.”

The teacher gaped at the boy in front of her, eyes flicking every so often over Wes’ shoulder to where Blaine stood. “Mr Montgomery-”

“Miss Rosen. Your jurisdiction in the Dalton faculty does not cover sense buddies. I have already explained to you the proper protocol. If that is not how things were done at Grangeford, I apologise, but this is Dalton.”

The woman’s face was running through an impressive array of colours, ranging from milky white to seared red. Blaine could only stand there, amazed, as a boy he had only met three days ago was standing up to a teacher on his behalf.

Finally, she huffed, her brow knitted together above her too-small eyes as she regarded Blaine coolly. “Very well. I will be taking this up with Mr Edwards.” Her eyes narrowed as they flicked back to Wesley. “And Dr Hargreaves.”

“I look forward to it.” Wesley chirped, before slamming the door in the teacher’s face.

Blaine stared, wide eyed, “W-what did you just do?

Wesley shrugged, “I followed Dalton protocol. Miss Rosen is new – a recent transfer from another, smaller sense refuge in Florida designed for older patients. She only transferred here a month ago from what I’ve heard, and she’s clearly not used to dealing with teenagers yet.”

“But she said she’d tell Dr Hargreaves!” Blaine blurted out. He had only met the woman a handful of times since he arrived, but she made him nervous every time. He felt like he was some bacteria in a Petri dish, waiting to be analysed.

“About my behaviour.” Wesley agreed calmly.

Blaine shook his head, hands gesturing wildly. He couldn’t quite vocalise how much he didn’t want Wesley to get into trouble. Because if he did, they might make him go away, and right now he was the only person who Blaine felt might actually be on his side. Right now Blaine was floating, drifting, all his anchors cut loose; his family, his cat, his friends, his boyfr- Kurt. Wes was the only person left. “But you can’t just. She’ll tell them! She’ll-”

Blaine felt his chest tightening, his palms growing clammy as he clawed at the front of his shirt, panic welling up from where it had been sitting, lurking since he had arrived at Dalton.

“Hey.” Blaine blinked and suddenly Wesley was a lot closer, his head tilted slightly to one side as he looked at Blaine. Warmth. Calm. Reassurance. “Do you want to be alone, or would you like to talk about what happened this morning after I left?”

Blaine swallowed harshly, his mouth too dry. Now that he was back in his room with only Wes for company, he felt slightly better. Silently, biting his lip, he found himself nodding. Since he had arrived Blaine had maintained his silence, with everyone except Wes. The older boy seemed to exude trust and safety, the same way Sam usually glowed with happiness, and Kurt shone with strength. He found himself sitting. Wesley took his cue, and pulled a chair so that he could sit opposite; close, but not touching, never touching. It was one of the first things Blaine had noticed about Wes, his ability to respect Blaine’s personal space without the need for request or comment. It was just instinct for him.

“I couldn’t do what she wanted me to do.” Blaine mumbled. Failure. Idiot. Freak.

Wes frowned, picking up on some of Blaine’s unconscious projections, “It’s your first day of class, Blaine. No one expects you to fall into things like you’ve been here for years. Besides, Dalton is here for you, not the other way around. There is no wrong or right, there’s only what you feel able to do.”

Blaine snorted, “Yeah? Because from where I’m sitting it looks like I’m the biggest freak in this place! And now everyone knows it!”

“What do you mean?” The soft timbre of reassurance continued, but inside were jarring bars of repetition, misplaced notes of disquiet.

“First she wanted me to introduce myself to the group, but I couldn’t. My head wouldn’t stop hurting and there were so many different people I couldn’t sort them out in my head. So when I didn’t do anything she said all I needed to do was shake the other boy’s hand. I tried, I did. I really did but-”

“Wait, stop.” Wes held up a hand, the jarring notes of his discordant emotions rising in a crescendo that Blaine found oddly comforting. The other boy was so precise in his conduction of his emotions that often Blaine felt like he was the sole audience member of some masterpiece orchestral production. He never projected, but equally, he was anything but the blank, too-silent monotony of most sense doctors Blaine knew. “You’re saying that Miss Rosen had you in a group session? With other students?”

Blaine blinked, “Yes?”

Wes pinched the bridge of his nose, “Of course she did.”

“I thought…” Blaine trailed off. He wasn’t sure what he had thought. This whole process was so strange and overwhelming that often he felt like he was being pushed and pulled in multiple directions.

“It’s not your fault.” Wes was quick to pull back from his brief forte of anger, replacing it with a lulling pianissimo of calm. “It’s hers. Group sessions should only be introduced into schedules after three weeks, and then for two weeks after that the student’s sense buddy should be present. As far as I was concerned you were just going for a chat with her.”

“Oh.” Blaine felt small and stupid; so, so out of control. He wanted to cry. Was this how his life was going to be? Was this it?

“I’ll bring this all up with Mr Edwards. I promise. And I’ll request a class transfer to one of the other teachers. There’s no way you should go back to her after this morning; instinctually, your senses will just rebel and confuse you.”

“How do you know?” So often, Wes talked like Blaine’s childhood sense doctor, Dr Monroe. Sometimes Blaine forgot the other boy had only just graduated high school.

Wes shrugged, “I saw it happen once.” For a moment, he really looked his age, shy and slightly guilty. “I don’t… sometimes I don’t follow what the sense teachers tell us. Sometimes I just think it’s wrong and so I do something else. Or try to. I told my friend to request a transfer for his student. He thought I was overreacting. The student had a grade six episode a week later, and was removed to an intensive care unit out of Dalton.”

“Sometimes you just know…” Blaine murmured quietly, looking at his sense buddy in a whole new light.

“We’re not carbon copies, or statistics in a book. I learnt a long time ago to trust my instincts when it comes to other people. I want you to know that, Blaine. I’m here to help you, not to get some qualification. You’re not a means to an end, or a stepping stone towards my future. Okay?”

“Thank you.” Blaine tried to compress as much sincerity and gratefulness into those two words as physically possible.

00000

Blaine sat up in bed, listening intently as he squinted into the inky blackness, eyes trying to adjust.

Maybe he had imagined it…

“Ow! Jeff that was my foot!”

Or not.

“Well it’s not my fault you have such abnormally large feet!”

“Will you two shut up and keep an eye out? If Hargreaves catches us we’re as good as dead.”

“I still don’t get why this is a four man operation.”

“Maybe he just wanted to take all of us down with him when we’re caught.”

“Sucks to be you then.”

“Yeah? Well good luck finding another sense buddy who can tolerate you on a day to day basis.”

“Feeling the love, Nick. Seriously. You need to work on your bedside manner.”

“Guys! Shut it!”

Blaine scrambled out of bed, padding to his door and creaking it open, jumping backwards only just in time to avoid being squashed by a tumble of two boys who had previously been pressed against his door.

“Umm… hi?”

The dark haired boy untangled himself from the blond. In the emergency night-lighting spilling in from the hall, Blaine recognised them as a student and buddy pair the same age as him. The blond, Jeff, was in most of his classes, although nowhere near as high up the scale as Blaine was.

“You two are seriously the worst lookouts in the history of Dalton.” Wes stood in the doorway carrying a battered cardboard box, accompanied by the owner of the third voice, a tall black boy named David. He was also a sense buddy, but to a much younger student. He was also best friends with Wes, which probably explained why he was there as well.

Although, why the four boys were sneaking around outside Blaine’s room at all at two in the morning was another question entirely.

“Shift. Both of you.” Wes kicked Nick lightly, shutting the door behind him, plunging them all into darkness until David flicked on a flashlight.

Blaine stared incredulously at his sense buddy, “Wes, what on earth is going on?”

It was at that moment that the contents of Wes’ arms made itself known, shaking so hard the boy was forced to put it down before he dropped it.

A disgruntled hiss, followed by a series of plaintive meows, and Blaine was on his knees in an instant, ripping open the lid of the box. He stared in disbelief. “Molly?”

It was definitely his cat. Her fur had lost some of its shine, but the attitude was definitely still there. He scooped her up into his arms, trying to ignore how thin she was – no more than you since you got here – “I know you’ve been missing her since you arrived. And the way you talk about her…”

“We all helped Wes look into it. About the influence of animals on the highly Sensitive. Dalton might say she’s not allowed but…” David trailed off, grinning, “Wes isn’t allergic, so no harm in hiding her here, right?”

Blaine was speechless, flooded with the warmth of holding Molly, a strangely familiar comfort spreading into his bones that wasn’t quite all from the cat.

Wes knelt next to Blaine. “You’ve been here nearly three weeks now, and it’s clear that you’re not going to fit into any of the teachers’ neat little boxes. But protocol is protocol, and while this school is a great place, it’s not perfect. Nothing is.”

“Sometimes it can seriously suck being here.” Jeff put in. He was standing the furthest back of the boys, careful to put as much space between him and Blaine as possible, for both their peace of minds. “So we figured, why not try and make it suck a little less?”

Blaine just nodded, biting his lip as he buried his face in Molly’s fur, trying not to let them see how watery his eyes had become over their gesture.

Taking the unspoken gratefulness, the other boys saw their cue to leave. Before they left, Nick offered, “Sit with us at lunch sometime, yeah? Or if it’s too much, we can come to you. Wes must get pretty dull in heavy doses.”

Blaine just nodded, and then he was alone with his cat. Wes had gotten up, and begun to feel his way back to his adjoining door in the semi-darkness, obviously intent on giving Blaine some privacy.

Blaine had other ideas. He clicked on his desk lamp. Molly wandered off to inspect the room, keeping one eye on her human, tail flicking contentedly. “How did you get her? My parents are going to know she’s gone, and they’ll call the school to check here. You’ll get into trouble.”

Wes sighed. “No. I won’t.”

Blaine frowned, “Coop..?”

Wes seemed to deliberate for a moment, before moving back towards Blaine, hands in his pockets. “No. Well, yes, I started with him, but no. Molly hasn’t been living at your house for nearly two weeks now. It’s why Edwards and Rosen searched our rooms the other week. That wasn’t a random search. According to your brother, your parents have been trying to work out how to tell you she’s missing for a while now, but the doctors are worried how badly that would destabilise you, so they’ve told them to hold off. At least until it’s decided if you’re staying here past your month trial.”

Blaine frowned, “Coop would have told me if something had happened to Molly. He promised.”

“He knew nothing had happened to her.” Wes said softly, his emotions carefully placed, like the resonating vibrations of a cello string.

“Well then what…?”

“She’s been living with Kurt.”

Every muscle in Blaine’s body froze. Oddly, the first thing that somehow made it out of Blaine’s mouth was, “But I’ve never even told you about Kurt!”

“No, you haven’t.” Wes agreed. “But if you’d like to, I’d be happy to listen.”

“You’ve met him.”

It wasn’t a question, but Wesley answered it anyway, “Yes, I have.”

Blaine swallowed, angrily swiping at the tears that threatened to spill from his eyes, “How… how is he?”

“Honestly?” Blaine nodded. “Well, we only talked for a little, but frankly I’d say he’s doing about as well as you are.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Blaine choked.

A diminuendo of exasperation to comfort, “It means I think you shouldn’t be giving up on yourself. Or him.”

“W-wh-” Blaine cleared his throat, frustrated by how weak his voice sounded. “What if he already has?”

Wes smiled fondly at his friend, “Now that I don’t believe for one moment.”

TBC

Chapter Text

“Where is he?”

“Emily, I need you to calm down, you won’t be any help to Blaine in this state.”

“Don’t you dare tell me to calm down, Fiona! You told us he was doing okay!” Emily was livid. She was terrified. She was confused and so, so tired. She glared at the doctor, a woman who had forcibly become a painful feature of their lives from the moment Blaine had been diagnosed.

Dr Monroe held up her palms in a placating manner, “You know I can’t allow you into Blaine’s room until you have got your emotions under control. And I said that Blaine was doing remarkably well for his age. We still have to be prepared for dips and struggles such as this as he gets older.” The woman’s face was impassive, professional, her gaze steady as she waited for the mother to come down from the wave of adrenaline that had gotten her to the hospital as fast as she had. “However, I can now tell you that what Blaine experienced was not an empathic episode.”

Emily slumped against the wall, all the energy drained from her body, “Oh thank god…” She pressed her palms against her eyes, blocking out the world for a moment as she gathered herself in the depths of her relief. Finally, she looked up to meet the patient doctor’s gaze, “Then what was it? They told me he collapsed at school…”

“Although I can’t be sure until Blaine wakes up and I can speak to him, my preliminary diagnosis from what I’ve heard from those who found him is that your son experienced a rather severe panic attack.”

Emily shook her head slightly, dazed, “What? N-no, that can’t be right, Blaine doesn’t get panic attacks. He’s not an anxious boy; he’s never had one before.”

“That does not mean he can never have one. You must remember how much everything has changed for Blaine recently. Although the episode he had when he was fourteen was a significant blow to his stability, it did not have the long term effects we necessarily would expect. That was thanks to his stable home life, I am sure. But now he’s back out in the world, experiencing new things, new emotions, new people… that kind of thing is bound to take its toll.” Dr Monroe sighed sombrely, resting a hand on Emily’s shoulder in comfort.

“What are you saying?” Emily hated the way her voice cracked. John was always so much better with things like this; he was always able to be strong for Blaine. He must be getting here soon…

“I’m saying that while today will likely turn out to be a little more than a scare for Blaine, we should recognise this as a sign that things will not be getting better. From what we know about teenagers of Blaine’s level and at his stage of development, we have already started to see the indications that his health will not improve from here.” In a rare break of professionalism, the doctor turned to lean against the wall next to the mother, bringing their eyes level. “I’m sorry, Emily. Blaine has officially started to experience sense control deterioration. It’s very early stages, but…”

“But it’s all downhill from here.” Emily finished, her voice cracked. She wanted to cry, she should be crying… but somehow… she didn’t think she had any tears left. Over a decade of crying tended to use up even the deepest of reserves.

“Emily?” The sound of her husband’s strained voice pulled Emily Anderson out of herself, it made her push off the wall and straighten her spine, and somehow made her pull on a watery smile.

Because just for that one moment, John didn’t know.

00000

When the doorbell rang, Emily had been in the office going over some summer work from her students.

That was important to know.

It hadn’t been something she planned.

It hadn’t even been something she had considered.

Under normal circumstances, it would never have happened.

But these were not normal circumstances. This was her son, her son’s life, and she was watching it slip helplessly through her fingers with the passing of each day.

“Kurt.” Emily forced a smile through her tiredness, not wanting the teenager to misinterpret her distance as something to do with his low ES level. The first time she had met the boy, she wouldn’t deny how wrong-footed she had felt. But he was still just that; a boy. And children didn’t deserve to feel like the world was alienating them. “I’m afraid Blaine is out with Cooper at the moment.”

She watched as the smile on the teenager’s young face faltered slightly, suddenly uncertain. It was so strange, Emily reflected. She could see the emotions as clear as day on Kurt’s face, but there was nothing to go with it. She found it disconcerting, every nerve set on edge as her instincts rejected what her eyes could see but her senses couldn’t feel. “Oh. I was supposed to meet him here at three…”

“Why don’t you come in? The boys should be back any minute, I’m sure they just got held up.” Emily stepped back, walking back into the house, leaving the door open behind her. Only Kurt’s footsteps told her he had followed.

Empty.

“So, Kurt, how was New York?” Emily smiled, gesturing for the boy to make himself at home. He was a part of Blaine’s life, like it or not, and despite how much his presence unsettled her she really did like him.

Kurt’s whole face lit up as he sat down on the sofa, “It was amazing. I can’t wait for the day when I live there.”

Emily’s hands stilled, “Oh? You’ve started looking at schools then?”

Kurt fidgeted, suddenly awkward, “Well, I’ve always had my eye on a few colleges, but yeah… I guess I will have to start looking properly really soon.” He shrugged.

At that point, Emily knew she should have walked away. She shouldn’t have gotten herself involved. “It’s good to be planning for the future.” She sighed, perching on the edge of the plush armchair where her husband normally sat, raising her eyes to fix her gaze on her son’s boyfriend. “It’s not my place to be saying this, I know. I respect Blaine’s privacy. But I have to know – have you talked to him at all about your New York plans?”

Emily didn’t need to sense Kurt to see the impact her question had on him. His back straightened, eyes narrowing ever so slightly as his whole posture became defensive, “A little, yes.” His voice was wary, even a little terse.

She was ashamed how much his attitude riled her, and the words were out of her mouth before she could think. “So I presume you’ve discussed with Blaine what will happen? Or have you not thought about that at all?”

“Of course I’ve thought about it Mrs Anderson.” Kurt’s voice was ice cold now, although he was clearly trying not to react to her sudden line of questioning. “But Blaine and I are strong, and long distance relationships are possible.”

“Oh are they?” Emily laughed, although she wasn’t sure why. “Well Blaine’s recent trip to the hospital would tell me otherwise.”

Kurt went incredibly pale, and she couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty, except why should she? Blaine was doing fine until Kurt’s arrival changed everything. “W-what? No, Blaine would have told me!”

“No, he wouldn’t have. Because Blaine doesn’t tell anyone these things. Ever since he met you, Blaine’s behaviour had changed. You can’t recognise it because you don’t know him-”

Kurt stood up abruptly. “I’m sorry, Mrs Anderson, but I’m not going to sit here as you tell me I don’t know my own boyfriend!”

He turned to go, and Emily was on her feet to, “You’re killing my son!”

Kurt froze in his retreat, but he didn’t turn around. He didn’t say anything.

“You have your whole life ahead of you.” A lump had lodged itself in her throat, and tears stung at her eyes. Her heart was beating far too fast, and even though in the back of her mind she knew Kurt was still really just a child and didn’t deserve her blame, she just felt so powerless. She needed a direction for her pent up stress and unfortunately at that precise moment, Kurt was it. “Blaine doesn’t. And you are making everything just that little bit harder for him. Every time you’re not there, you confuse his senses. Your presence is chaos and passion for Blaine. It is fleeting, and anything but stable. Ever since you two met, Blaine has been different. You were gone for a few days and he ended up in hospital. What happens in a year’s time when you run off to another city?”

Kurt’s shoulders were hunched. Still he didn’t turn, “I don’t want to hurt Blaine… We’ll work something out.”

“Really?” Emily hated herself for the sneer that worked its way into her tone, “Well, do tell, because I’ve been trying to keep Blaine alive since his first diagnosis.”

Kurt whirled around, his voice fierce and cracked, “Blaine and I are great for each other!”

“No.” Emily refuted. “Blaine is great for you.”

Kurt flinched. He seemed to deflate, biting his lip, suddenly looking so young. “Why are you saying this?”

“There is a school we’ve thought about sending him to since he had his first episode. After his last trip to the hospital, the doctors recommended it to us again.”

“Dalton.” Kurt spat, bitter. “Blaine’s mentioned you wanted to send him away.”

“I want to keep my son alive, even if that means I can’t have him here with me anymore.”

“You want me to break up with him, don’t you?” It was hardly even a question. Somehow, and Emily still wasn’t quite certain how, they had rapidly descended from pleasantries to… this.

“I want you to help me keep Blaine alive. And if that means breaking up now before it’s too late, then yes, I do. If you care about my son at all, then please do what is best for him, not for you.”

00000

The house was too quiet. There was no music, no chatter, no Blaine.

The first night Blaine spent at Dalton, and Emily had never hated herself more. John knew something more was wrong than just Blaine moving to a sense refuge. That, however horrible, was something they had planned, something they’d had years to mentally prepare themselves for.

She had cried herself to sleep that night in a horrible depression of loss, guilt, and doubt.

When Kurt broke up with Blaine, her son had utterly broken. Her family had broken. John had withdrawn, and she had never seen Cooper so shaken and unsure before.

As for Molly…

Emily couldn’t get into Blaine’s room, the first few days he was gone. His cat had set herself up in his bedroom, and in the space of mere hours had turned from a mild, patient house cat to an animal that was practically feral. The cat was so inextricably linked to Blaine that without him, she was completely bereft. She hissed, scratched, and bit. The Andersons’ hands were cut to ribbons trying to extract her from Blaine’s room.

Part of Emily wondered if Molly knew what she had said to Kurt that day.

What made it infinitely worse was that when they were finally able to call Blaine, when she was allowed to hear his voice and he asked about Molly, she had been forced to lie.

The cat had disappeared barely three days after Blaine had moved out, and the house was all the emptier.

As time passed and every report from Dalton seemed as foreboding and grey as the last, the doubt and the guilt festered in Emily’s mind. For so long, she had seen Dalton as the solution to all her family’s problems, but now… now she wasn’t so sure.

Blaine just seemed so empty. His voice was dull, his teachers described him as a quiet, despondent boy, and it didn’t escape Emily’s notice that the last time she remembered seeing her son smile was back when he had been dating Kurt.

The end of the trial month came and went, and with that passing mark, it was as if her entire family just gave up. Her husband threw himself into work, Cooper barely called home anymore, and Blaine was out of her reach.

She had wanted to protect her son, to hold her family together… it had been one of those instances in the heat of the moment that once said were impossible to take back.

But now… deeply, darkly, as she watched her youngest son slowly lose his life, his soul, in a far worse way than she had ever dreamed – slow, dull, draining – what if she had been wrong about Kurt?

She would never forgive herself.

TBC

Chapter Text

It was the right thing to do.

It was inevitable.

It was for the best.

It was the adult, responsible choice.

It was…

The worst thing Kurt had ever done.

Until now, Kurt hadn’t known it was possible for a person’s soul to physically ache. He felt as if every cell in his body was empty and wretched, as though his heart was hollow and dark, bleeding black blood from a gaping hole in his rib cage.

“But I love you…”

Kurt could still feel Blaine’s words, his confession, knifing a blade laced with loss, pain, love, desperation into his chest. It had taken all of Kurt’s willpower not to turn around, he had needed all of his tattered soul to somehow choke out that rebuke, his refusal, a denial of Blaine’s love.

The first time he had ever sensed Blaine without the need for touch, and it was the most painful experience Kurt could describe. How? How could that be the right choice?

“Freak!”

“Do you really think this relationship is healthy?”

“What if none of it’s me anymore? What if I’m already gone?”

“You’re killing my son!”

That was why…

“Hey, Kurt… umm, Mom says it’s dinner…” Finn hovered awkwardly in Kurt’s doorway. He looked fidgeted, clearly not sure what to do. In the end, he just settled for nodding jerkily before stumbling away.

Kurt didn’t blame him. The two brothers had been getting along really well towards the end of the school year, but now Kurt just couldn’t bring himself to care. About anyone. Why make the effort? Why try and make others feel comfortable around him and his freakiness? What was the damn point?

He didn’t follow Finn down for dinner. His dad came in with a warmed up plate an hour later and sat next to Kurt on the bed, watching his son make an attempt to eat.

Part of Kurt was annoyed, but a larger part was grateful. His dad didn’t know much more than the bare bones of the break up – that Kurt had been the one to end it – but he never tried to pass judgement. He was just there, same as he had always been, offering tight hugs and brief touches and warm smiles.

But his dad wasn’t enough anymore. He wasn’t a child. He knew what he wanted, what he needed, what he’d already had tightly in his grasp and then willingly let go. Blaine.

00000

Kurt was alone in the house when he heard it. He had been listlessly channel hopping, unable to settle on anything because every other crappy show somehow managed to remind him of Blaine. He frowned, muting the TV to listen. At first he thought he had just imagined something, but then the noise became more persistent.

Groaning, knowing his curiosity wouldn’t let him leave it be, Kurt heaved himself off the sofa. He had no energy for this crap. He didn’t care.

He followed the sounds into the kitchen, and stopped. On the other side of the window was a pair of accusing sapphire eyes, accompanied by a flicking tail and a batting paw. It took Kurt quite a few moments to process that his boyfri- ex-boyfriend’s cat was sitting outside his house. “Molly? What’re you doing here?”

The cat looked a little worse for wear. She was thinner than Kurt remembered, but that might just be an illusion created by her coat, which was matted and dull. Kurt’s first horrified thought was that something had happened to Blaine, but then he managed to think a little more practically. Molly wasn’t Lassie for god sake, and seeing as Blaine was destined for a sense refuge if he hadn’t left already, it was doubtful he would have been able to take his cat.

Kurt’s stomach twisted. That just seemed wrong, the idea of Blaine without Molly – like the idea of Blaine without Kurt…

Kurt opened the back door, and Molly jumped down to meet him. She wound herself in and out of his legs, a soft rumbling resonating in her throat. Kurt bent to scratch her ears, furious at himself as he felt his throat burn and his eyes sting, his vision blurred.

He had to straighten up, viciously wiping at his eyes as he took a shaky breath. Stop it!

Molly had wandered into the house while Kurt was trying to collect himself, jumping up onto a chair to settle herself. The look she fixed him with was as perceptive as always, and Kurt couldn’t help but reply to her. She might just be a cat to him, and to her he might just be some strange human who was around Blaine a lot… but she had come here. She had somehow sought him out, and whatever doubts Kurt had about how much Molly really understood, he knew one thing for certain, “I know. I miss him too.”

Kurt gave it twenty four hours before calling the Anderson residence. He told himself because it was a weekday there would have been no one home, but really he just wanted to keep Molly for a little while, and she seemed perfectly content to be kept. It was just… she was all he had left. And, just like she didn’t flood Blaine with emotions, she didn’t flinch away instinctively whenever Kurt came close.

“Hello?”

Kurt’s stomach lurched. He hadn’t expected Blaine’s brother to still be at home. “Cooper? Hi… it’s Kurt. Kurt Hummel?”

There was a very long pause on the other end of the line, but finally the other man replied in a tone that was terrifyingly neutral. “Kurt. What can I do for you? Blaine’s away at the moment.”

Away. Could he have made it sound any more horribly mundane? “I… I, well…”

“Spit it out, Kurt. I’ve got packing to do.”

Kurt flinched. He had never heard Blaine’s brother sound so cold. There was no smile in his tone, all brightness was stripped away to a formal husk. “I have Molly. She showed up outside my kitchen.”

“Molly’s with you?” Finally some emotion was injected into his voice, but what, Kurt couldn’t tell.

“Yes. She’s trying to trip me up as we speak.” Kurt found himself smiling as he spoke, until he remembered why Molly was in his hallway in the first place, and why Cooper sounded so wrong.

A pause. “Can I come over?”

Too soon, and Cooper was standing in the hallway, eyes flicking between boy and cat with clear disbelief. Molly was regarding the Anderson with a look that bordered on fond distain, but was careful to sit high enough up the stairs to be just outside of grabbing reach. “She just showed up.” Kurt shrugged, not knowing what else to say.

“And she hasn’t bitten you?” Cooper asked, a little too incredulously.

“Why would she? She never has before, and…” Kurt swallowed roughly, “I guess we both miss Blaine…”

“Do you?” Cooper asked harshly.

“Of course I do!” Kurt hated how high and cracked his voice came out, but he was tired and stressed and the only person who could make him feel remotely better right now was the one person he would never see again! His stomach swooped nastily, clenching as it always did whenever that thought crept back up on him, because never was such a long time…

“Then why did you end it?” Cooper was quieter now, his eyes melancholy and defeated, the complete antithesis of the man Kurt had come to know.

“Because I had to.” Kurt choked out, surprised at his honesty. “Because I wasn’t good for Blaine, and this way at least he’s got a chance at a better, safer life…”

Cooper just stared, but Kurt couldn’t begin to decipher the emotions behind his eyes, “In what world were you not good for Blaine?”

Kurt just shrugged, his throat too tight to voice his faults. He was just so tired of hating himself and his stupid ES level. “Did you bring a carry case for Molly?”

Cooper watched him silently, before shaking his head, “If I try and take her home she’ll only end up back here again. Like you said, you both miss Blaine. Will that be a problem with your family?”

Kurt shook his head mutely, an odd relief swelling in his chest.

“Look, I have to go… My flight back to New York is tonight, but… call me? If you want to chat about anything, okay?”

Kurt accepted Cooper’s cell number, but he knew he wouldn’t use it. “Thanks.”

Cooper shrugged lopsidedly, his eyes serious, “For the record? Blaine isn’t better without you.”

Kurt couldn’t bring himself to answer.

00000

“Kurt! Visitor!” Finn’s voice hollered up the stairs.

Kurt rolled his eyes as he shoved his laptop to the side and yelled back, “Thanks for the detail Finn!”

He jogged down the stairs and frowned. He didn’t recognise the boy on the porch. Straight backed and confidently smiling, the neat Asian boy looked like a senior, or perhaps even on his way to college in a month. “Hi, you’re Kurt?”

“Yes…” He already found the boy unnerving. He hadn’t caught any reaction in the stranger’s face, no flinch or jerk of shock as Kurt drew close enough to sense – or not sense as was more accurate. Adults were good at masking their discomfort. Teenagers weren’t.

“I’m Wes.” He didn’t hold his hand out to shake. There was one shred of normalcy, at least. “I’m a friend of Blaine’s, from Dalton.”

Kurt’s chest seized, “You know Blaine?”

“Yeah, I’m his sense buddy.” Kurt blinked, nonplussed. “It means I help him. I’m in prep training to eventually become a sense doctor. I’m living at Dalton on an internship until I go to college in a year.”

“Oh…” He didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to meet Wes, or talk to him, or invite him in. He didn’t want to get to know this boy who could still see Blaine everyday, who knew how he was, who could help him by being there, not by avoiding him.

“Cooper – Blaine’s brother? – sent me here… He said I might find Blaine’s cat Molly living here?”

Kurt stared, unsure where this was going, “Uh… yeah… she’s sort of moved in.”

“Right… Look I’m just going to cut to the chase. Blaine misses her. Badly. And I know that school policy dictates he can’t have her but I’ve researched it and not only is it absurd that she could do him any harm in terms of emotional stability, there’s a lot to suggest that she could really do him good and-”

“Really?” Kurt couldn’t help but interrupt, his voice dry and sarcastic, “I never would have guessed that the animal that helped him recover from his first empathic episode would do him good.”

Wes blinked. “That’s… he told you that?”

Irrational jealousy reared its head, and Kurt snapped, “Of course he told me! I’m… I was his boyfriend! We told each other everything! Don’t think because you’ve got this fancy title and go to this fancy school and can talk to his stupid doctors that you know him better than I do! Because you don’t, and you couldn’t!”

Infuriatingly, the other boy hardly seemed fazed by Kurt’s explosion. He simply regarded him with that same calm, passive look. “I would never assume to know Blaine that well. But right now, I’m all he’s got, so I’m trying.”

“Yeah? Well so am I.” Kurt’s huffed pettily, before managing to pull himself back. This wasn’t about him. It never was. And Molly should be with Blaine. He stepped back to allow Wes room to come in. “She’s probably in my closet again. I’ll go get her.”

“Wait!” Wes was suddenly in front of him, blocking the stairs, hands still carefully out of reach despite their closeness. “I don’t want to just take her from you… You’ve clearly been looking after her all this time…”

“What I want isn’t the issue.” Kurt shook his head, his voice hollow and lost as so many of his emotions fell into those words. Wes looked like he was going to say something else, but the moment was lost.

It didn’t matter anyway.

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt missed Molly more than he thought he would. If anything, her absence in the house made him think about Blaine even more, not less.

He had to stop feeling like this. He had to. Surely this feeling couldn’t last forever?

But then the first letter came, and Kurt knew there would be no letting go.

He didn’t know how Blaine was doing it, when he was supposed to be cut off from the world. And there was no way for Kurt to reply. Maybe that was the point.

Phone calls are brief, impersonal, words tumbling over words as emotions clash and get confused with the tiniest mistaken inflection in a tone.

Letters… letters are languid and slow. They are thoughtful and expressive in every detail, in each carefully selected word. They are a silent voice, holding more emotion than a spoken word could ever hope to achieve.

At first, they were short, tentative…

2nd August

Dear Kurt,

I know you probably don’t want to hear from me. I’m still not sure what I’ll even do with this letter when I’m done. Maybe it’d be better just to tear it up now.

I’m sorry. That’s all I really wanted to say. I’m sorry you got mixed up in my screwed up life, but I’m sort of glad you did. Is that selfish? Even if I could do it all over again, I would still talk to you that first day, I would still watch you sing, I would still kiss you.

I know that’s probably the last thing you want to hear. I know you’re probably moving on, and that’s great Kurt, it really is. New York is going to make you spectacular. No, that’s wrong. New York is going to make you realise you’re already spectacular.

And I’m so glad I was able to be a part of your life.

I miss you. So much. I don’t even need to kiss you again. Just to hold your hand, I think that would be enough.

Blaine xxx

That first letter had sent Kurt spiralling right back to the start. It had left him crying, hugging the precious piece of paper to his chest, hating himself all the while. He didn’t hear from Blaine for a while after that first letter, and first he thought it might have been Blaine’s way to get closure, his way to say goodbye.

That idea alone left his mouth ashen and his stomach knotted.

But then, another letter came, and another. Mixes of mundane and thoughtful, good days and bad.

…I think you’d like Wes. He’s like you - constantly calm, and balanced. And he has an impeccable taste in fashion. I saw his closet the other day, and couldn’t stop grinning imagining your face if you ever got a look in there…

…I wish I’d got to see you guys perform at Nationals. I mean, I wish I could have seen or done a lot of things, and it’s probably weird that seeing a show choir final is at the top of my list but I don’t know. You were so incredible at Regionals, and I know you said it was a train wreck what with Rachel and Finn having their impromptu kiss but I still wish I’d been there. What if it had been us, up there? I wonder if you would have let me kiss you. Sorry, not helping…

…Cooper called today. I still hate phonecalls, but sometimes I wish you would call. Except, let’s face it, I’d probably just make everything worse…

Sometimes, Kurt would write out his own replies. He could never send them, of course. Not only was he probably on Dalton’s blacklist for any communication with Blaine, he knew that it would only make things harder.

Every letter Kurt wrote ended with the same three words, the same declaration that was glaringly missing from the end of each and every one of Blaine’s letters.

Each time he wrote them, his pen flowed a little less smoothly, and his heart clenched that little bit tighter.

And then the letters from Blaine started to change.

…Miss Rosen was in my room today. She knows about Molly I’m sure of it. Thankfully we’d moved her to Jeff’s room the night before. Miss Rosen makes my head hurt…

…I had that dream again last night where I was drowning. When I woke up I couldn’t breathe, Kurt. I was so scared. Wes keeps telling me to tell Mr Edwards but I don’t want to. I just want to tell you, and you’re not here. Why aren’t you here, Kurt? Please come back…

It was then that Kurt started to suspect that Blaine wasn’t actually aware that Kurt was receiving the letters he was writing. When they had been together, sure they had shared a lot, but when it came to Blaine’s health, he had always kept a little back. He hadn’t wanted to worry Kurt. And Kurt was really starting to worry. The letters were staring to come in bundles. Lots of little sealed envelopes sent in one package, as if the writer was composing them too fast for the sender to keep up.

…I feel like I’m shattering. Like I’m splitting into lots of tiny little pieces and each one is an emotion that isn’t mine. I can’t be around Jeff any more in the dorms, but every time I go to class the lead in the walls makes me feel like something’s trying to poison my brain. Mr Edwards asked me yesterday to describe how I was feeling in one word. I couldn’t answer him. So then he asked me to try and draw a face. I just drew an empty circle…

…I was looking in the mirror this morning, and I didn’t see me. What does that mean Kurt? I don’t want to disappear. I’m scared. If you were here, you could tell me if I’m still here. I can’t believe anyone except you…

Kurt began to exist in a permanent state of nausea. He constantly wanted to throw up, but he couldn’t, he was too scared, too numb, too powerless. It had become so bad that his family had started to notice. There was obviously a direct correlation to between Kurt’s nearly daily mystery letters and his detached agitation – even Finn could work that out.

And then he received one last letter. This one was alone, and thin. It was also delivered by hand, sometime in the middle of the day; Kurt had found it when he came back from Rachel’s house.

It was enough to push him over the edge he had been teetering on for weeks now. It solidified his resolve, and sparked a terrified fire in his chest. He had left Blaine to protect him, to make him better. He had thought he was doing the right thing.

But nothing about this was right.

Dear Kurt,

The teachers found Molly. They took her away. I think they’re calling my parents to pick her up, but I’m not allowed to even keep her while they wait. They blame her for me getting worse. They blame Wes too. He’s still here at the moment but I think they’re going to send him away. They were trying not to get angry, but they still were and then I got angry but they took Molly and I swore at Miss Rosen.

I’ve never sworn at a teacher before. I think they’re still going to expel Wes.

My chest feels funny. I think it’s because I know Molly’s not coming back. I also still feel really angry and I don’t know who that is because Miss Rosen was furious but I think I might be pretty mad too. My head won’t stop pounding. It hasn’t felt like this since Sam yelled at the glee club. But this time you’re not here. Last time you made everything stop. You made them stop, and their emotions, and everything. You made me me again.

You make me real.

I don’t think I’m real anymore, Kurt.

Blaine xxx

Kurt stared at the letter clutched tightly in his shaking hand. He read it through again, and again, the shaking handwriting burning bright scars of words onto his eyes, each and every letter branding itself into his mind.

He couldn’t do this anymore. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t.

Screw this. Screw what people said.

Science, medicine, it could all go to hell. Kurt couldn’t believe it anymore. He couldn’t hold back, he couldn’t pull away. He couldn’t just leave.

He couldn’t just say goodbye to the love of his life. He had thought he was going the ‘right thing’, that he was exchanging a hurting heart for Blaine’s health. But instead he had bought this.

No.

Kurt’s feet moved before he even realised it, his legs taking purposeful strides to Finn’s room. His step-brother gaped obviously when he saw Kurt, so full of a fire and a resolve the other boy had been lacking since Blaine had moved away.

“Hey, Kurt… What’s up?” Finn’s eyes flicked down briefly to the paper crumpled in Kurt’s hand, and he set aside his game controller tentatively.

“I need Puck’s cell number.”

“Right… okay… sure.” Finn blinked a few times, perplexed, but pulled out his phone nonetheless. “Um… why?”

Kurt ignored him, reaching into his own pocket, “Or maybe I need Santana…”

“Well I don’t know, dude, but if you told me what was going on I might be able to help?”

Kurt stopped, looking his step-brother up and down. “Really? How good do you think you’d be at smuggling me into a top grade sense refuge?”

Finn stared at him for a second, and then nodded, a mildly terrified yet determined look on his face. “I think we’re gonna need more than just Puck and Santana…”

TBC

Chapter Text

“Hummel, you are going to owe me so big for this one.” Santana picked gingerly at the fabric of her skirt.

“I think you look hot.” Brittany shrugged, “I know I do. When we’re done with this we should totally go back to mine. My parents will be out.”

Santana’s expression morphed rapidly from disdainful to smug, and Quinn hit her on her thigh from where she was crouched next to them, lacing her shoes, “Can’t you two focus for one second?”

“They can keep it up all night as far as I’m concerned,” Puck said with a suggestive quirk of his lips.

“Bite me Puckerman,” Santana snapped.

“Oh… this was such a bad idea…” Rachel wrung her hands, fiddling with the stiff polyester fabric of her sleeves, “This is never going to work…”

“Shut up! All of you!”

Kurt’s head snapped up from where he had been studiously looking at the ground, trying to quell his raging thoughts, press down on his knotted nerves, and ignore the increasingly irritating chatter of his friends. He had been moments away from sending them all home himself, but oddly enough, another member of New Directions had got there first.

“No one’s making you do this. No one’s making you stay. If you’re going to keep whining, or treating this like some stupid prank, go home. We’re here for Blaine, and Kurt. Get over it, or get out.” Sam’s brow was furrowed, his lips pressed thinly as he glared at the bickering and complaining group. No one moved, but many of them had the grace to look contrite and serious.

Kurt rubbed his face, squinting for a second into the distance, where warm orange beacons began to pepper the darkening sky as evening set in and lights were switched on in Dalton’s rooms. He turned to his friends, words finally forming on his tongue, “Sam’s right. I don’t know what kind of laws there are about this kind of this – to be honest, I’ve not really wanted to check – but if we’re caught, there’s going to be serious trouble. I love you guys, and I won’t love you any less if you go home now.”

There was a lull in the group, broken by a soft swell of warm evening breeze as they all stood in a loose huddle. “And if we do? What happens to Blaine?” Quinn shook her head, her eyes chips of flint in the dusk. “We can’t leave him in there alone.”

“I could make things worse…” Kurt said, that nasty shard of doubt he still fostered creeping into his words.

“Bullshit.” Finn refuted calmly. “Now, are we gonna do this or not?”

And that was that. The group wished each other luck, and split into two, the boys heading in one direction, and the girls another.

Kurt checked his watch. With all the letters Blaine had sent him, he thought that he had a pretty good grasp on the students’ schedules. By now, it had to be nearing lights out. He wondered if Blaine’s parents had already been and gone, collected Molly but left their son. He wondered how he was even going to find Blaine. It was pretty obvious from the outside where the dorms were located, but Kurt had no clue what floor or room number Blaine was, or even if he was still in his room. He could have been moved somewhere else…

He could be in isolation. They could have moved him to an intensive care facility if they thought he was that bad... He might not even be here…

“Okay, so remember, as long as no one sees you, you’re good.”

Kurt forced himself back into the present, looking up at Sam. “Right. Don’t get seen by anyone in a school that’s probably made mostly out of long unbroken corridors. Easy.”

“Seriously, Kurt,” Finn added, his tone nervous but determined, “As soon as someone sees you, they’re gonna know you’re not a student or buddy-person. But as long as they don’t, they’ll have no idea you’re there.”

“You’ll be invisible to their senses. You’ll be like Sue Storm, except, like, you’re a guy, and if someone does catch you, you won’t be able to repel them with force fields…” Sam gestured wildly, his eyes wide and earnest.

Kurt stared at him, appreciating the effort but feeling the meaning would have been less wasted if Sam had been talking to Blaine.

A chirp distracted them, and Finn checked his phone, “Okay, that’s Rachel, the girls are on.”

“Now or never, Hummel.” Puck’s eyes were burning into Kurt, and for a moment there was stillness, as everyone waited for him to make the final call.

Adrenaline surged, and doubt became a superfluous emotion he had no time to entertain, “Get the door.”

Puck smirked, pushing lightly on the murky little side door, “Already done.”

Sam gave a nervous smile, “Well at least we know now it wasn’t alarmed… You’d think they’d have more security…”

“This place isn’t designed to keep people out,” Puck said grimly. “Who’d be daft enough to want to break into a place like this? And as for the kids who live here…”

“They would never even think running away was an option for them.” Kurt finished, “Don’t wait for me if I’m not back in time. Meet up with the girls and go as soon as you hear from Santana.”

Kurt didn’t wait for their assent, he didn’t have time for that argument again. He needed to find Blaine.

He slipped into the darkness of the tiny corridor. A few doors lined the walls, possibly classrooms or teachers offices, all deserted. He ignored them, treading softly on old polished floors, turning, twisting, winding… Oh no…

Kurt stepped out into a warm, soft light. It glowed welcomingly down a long deserted corridor, so much larger in scale and grandeur than the ones he had passed through. For a moment, his stomach clenched at the impossibility of the task before him. He had so little time, and no idea where Blaine was. The halls of Dalton yawned before him, vast and mazelike. Impossible. What had he been thinking?

The answer came quick and simple. He had been thinking of Blaine.

“Get a grip, Hummel.” Kurt hissed at himself, feeling slightly better as his voice punctured the dusty, creepy silence. “Move.”

But where to?

He picked at random, trusting on some concept of faith and fate that he didn’t even believe in, at least, not until he had met Blaine.

Only twice did he encounter anybody. It was clear he had entered into a part of the school that was only really in use during the day, and with the girls making good on their distraction, Kurt had a pretty clear path. Sam had been right; all he had to do was hide and no one knew he was there. Because someone like him… he was the opposite of what they were trained to look for.

And he had never been so grateful.

“The boys are agitated.” A soft voice gave Kurt pause, and he immediately froze, ducking back around the corner, pressing himself in the shadows of a classroom doorway. He listened intently, waiting until the way was clear.

But the voices weren’t moving.

“It is to be expected in situations such as this. Normally the children who escalate are removed from the general population gradually, so as not to unsettle the others. Montgomery’s actions meant that we didn’t notice the deterioration as we should have.”

“I assume the boy will be appropriately disciplined? That the authorities have been informed?” The woman’s voice was haughty, setting Kurt’s teeth on edge.

“For what?” The other voice was softer, more melancholy, and yet laced with the kind of authority that Kurt automatically associated with Coach Sylvester. “You said it yourself, they are boys. We failed Wesley as much as we did Blaine. He truly thought that he was doing the right thing, and we are at fault for not making sure he was properly educated. The buddy system is not to replace the teachers and doctors of this school, but to create a link that might make the stay of our children slightly more bearable, while also training our successors.”

Kurt’s heart was thumping in his chest so loudly he thought that his ear drums might burst from the pressure as his pulse ricocheted off the inside of his skull. He held his breath, straining his ears, determined not to miss anything.

“You cannot deny the flaws in the system. That boy is damaged beyond repair. He might have had another year in the general population if it wasn’t for the supposed good intentions of an intern who was given far too much leniency by this staff.” The haughty woman was bitter and cutting in her remarks, detached in a way that Kurt knew far too well from his own visits to sense doctors. It was all so… clinical, emotionless. And wasn’t that ironic.

“Your comments are well noted, Miss Rosen.” The other voice was colder now. “If you wish to make it official, please feel free to file a report with me in the morning. Until then, I’m afraid I am late for a call with that boy’s parents to update them on his condition.”

“He is still to be moved then?”

“We can no longer provide him with the level of care that he needs. We have too many other students here…” The woman – maybe the headmistress, or one of the senior staff, Kurt would guess – sounded honestly regretful, even sad, “And the longer we wait, the harder it will be for him. I don’t think I need to ask you to absent yourself tomorrow morning during the transfer. Your conduct with that cat was unacceptable, and you will only agitate him further in what will already be a very stressful experience for him. Am I understood?”

“Yes, Doctor Hargreaves. Perfectly.”

“Good. Now, I believe Mr Edwards could do with a hand in the entrance hall. Evidently some Crawford girls have wandered in and are making a scene. I will leave you to handle it; Mr Edwards is already in contact with their head of staff.”

It was a cold dismissal that left Kurt’s head buzzing. It also highlighted how little time he had, because the girls’ story was going to fall apart pretty quickly once Crawford denied Brittany as being one of their high ES level students.

Tomorrow… They were moving Blaine out of Dalton tomorrow. Kurt didn’t want to think about where to; just the mere fleeting thought conjured images of white rooms and drugs and Blaine just fading away without Kurt there to hold him.

I don’t think I’m real anymore, Kurt.

Taking a gamble, Kurt dashed in the direction the two women had come from. He noticed how the décor was becoming sparser. Not clinical, necessary, but also not warm. He started frantically checking doors, peeking through darkened windows of safety glass into empty, barely furnished bedrooms. And then he rounded the corner into another, identical corridor.

Or was it?

No, this one was brighter, yellow light spilling from under a few doors. Two unmanned desks sat to the side, a steaming mug of coffee on one indicating that whoever watched over this area of Dalton couldn’t have gone far. Further investigation showed a bank of tiny TV screens, each displaying the same image of a room. The only difference between the pictures was the occupants. Most were sleeping, but in one Kurt could see the night nurses. One was trying to placate a small boy, Kurt wouldn’t have said he could be older than twelve, while the other prepared something in a corner. Even from the poor quality black and white image, Kurt could tell the kid was sick. That must be why he was down here away from the rest of the student body – whenever kids got sick at McKinley, it was always an interesting experience for all involved. Kurt couldn’t imagine that happening in a school for kids with abnormally high ES levels.

Realising that he probably had limited time before the nurses returned to their station, Kurt skimmed the screens, desperately looking for a familiar silhouette.

There.

Under the screen, a neat label of Room 8 was printed clearly and professionally, and Kurt was already off running. Just that tiny glimpse had tied his stomach on knots because this was real and he was doing this and fuck this was probably so illegal and wrong and possibly the stupidest thing he had ever done in his entire life, but with the lightest of certainty he found… that he really didn’t care. It didn’t matter.

He skidded to a halt outside the right door, hand hovering over the door handle, ears pricked for the nurses. Closer now, he could hear their comforting murmurings from an open door a little way further down the corridor.

For a moment, all doubt and terror crashed into Kurt, his hand held so close as it was to the handle.

Last moment to panic, last moment to be scared, last moment to look back.

He pushed open the door and slipped inside.

Blinking, Kurt paused. His eyes needed a moment to adjust to the dimmer light, but thanks to the security feed, he already knew straight where to look.

Blaine wasn’t asleep on the bed. He wasn’t even sitting on the bed, or at the little desk against the wall.

“Blaine?” Kurt kept his voice as hushed as he could. He crept forwards, crouching in front of the other boy, heart beating wildly with such a maelstrom of emotions Kurt couldn’t even begin to unpick them here.

His boyfriend – because that’s who he was to Kurt, there had never been an ‘ex’ prefixing that word from him, not really, no matter how much he had tried to lie to himself – was huddled in the very far corner of the room, pressed into the wall, as small as he could make himself. He wasn’t dressed in any sort of Dalton uniform, and the clothes only served to add to the unsettlingly blank pallor of the normally so bright boy. Thick white socks covered his curled feet, and grey baggy sweats smothered his lower body. What Kurt found most unnerving was the off-white t-shirt, because Blaine hated having his arms uncovered where anyone could touch him.

It broke Kurt’s heart. “Blaine, baby? It’s me, Kurt? I…” You’re what? What can you possibly say to him right now to make this okay? What can you possibly do?

As his voice cracked slightly, Blaine finally looked up. Kurt swallowed harshly. Dull black curls fell over Blaine’s forehead, highlighting his too-pale skin, making his face look even thinner than it already was. Charcoal smudges marred the skin under empty hazel eyes, and Kurt couldn’t stop the spike of self-loathing that shot through his body. He should never have left. He should never have allowed himself to get pushed away.

Blaine blinked slowly, too slowly. Something was off about his posture, his mannerisms, and it was then that Kurt realised they probably had him on some pretty heavy sense suppressants. Blaine blinked again, as if he was trying to see through a thick, choking smog. And then a horrible twisted smirk cracked onto his beautiful face, “So I guess I’ve finally gone crazy, huh?”

That was the moment for Kurt. The moment he knew what he was going to do. Before it had always been lingering at the back of his mind; a small suggestion of it’ll be fine; I’ll just go see Blaine and he’ll be okay and we’ll both be okay and everything will go back to the way it was before.

But he realised now that it was all or nothing. Blaine was dying. Blaine was fading, perhaps had already faded too far for Kurt to reach him. And Kurt needed to do something, he needed to fight it.

Firmly, purposefully, Kurt took Blaine’s face in his hands, “I’m very real, Blaine, I promise. I came to get you out of here.”

Blaine’s nose scrunched, his smirk breaking into pieces as his hands twitched, “It’s no good lying to me. I can’t feel you. You’re not here.”

“I am, baby, I am, I promise, I swear. I’m so, so sorry Blaine. Baby, please, it’s me, I love you.” Kurt’s voice hitched, swimming with gathering tears.

Blaine just smiled sadly at the confession, bringing up the heel of his hand to rub slightly too hard over his left eyebrow, pressing into his forehead as he mumbled, half to himself, “Now I know you’re not real.”

Kurt’s heart broke, but he refused to let himself dwell. He caught Blaine’s hands in his, “Real or not, Blaine, we have to go. I need you to trust me, Blaine. We need you get you out of here.” Kurt’s heart and mind were wild; all logic had flown out of the window long ago, let alone thought of the consequences. All he knew was that he was here, and so was Blaine, and all he wanted was to them get as far away from this place as possible.

Blaine just stared at him. Kurt would never forget that look, a shadow of the way Blaine used to gaze at him, now torn apart and broken by something beyond their control. But there was also the tiniest of sparks. “Okay.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt jerked back around the corner, certain that he had heard someone, positive that they were going to be caught. Blaine swayed slightly at the abrupt change in pace, and Kurt felt the other boy sag against him, pressing his head into Kurt’s neck. He seemed to be in a daze, smothered in a haze of confusion and distraction, his only reality pinned in Kurt’s movements and supporting hands.

No one. No one was there. Kurt wished that would make him breathe easier, but his heart was trying to tear its way out of his chest, and his every muscle seemed alive with tense electricity. He adjusted his arm around Blaine, far too aware of how much longer this was taking with another person in tow.

“Nearly there, Blaine,” Kurt murmured as softly as he could, hoping that his words were true because seriously could these corridors look any more identical? He had always thought that he had a pretty good memory and sense of direction, but in the panic and the dark with terror creeping up his spine, Kurt found himself second guessing every turn.

He started them moving again, keeping close to the wall, Blaine shuffling in a daze beside him in silent sock-clad feet.

Every so often, Kurt was struck by the horrible morbidly surreal nature of the situation he and Blaine currently found themselves in. They were stuck in a waking nightmare, with no actual plan for an end, and no eventual future where Kurt could see this getting any better.

“Kurt!”

Blaine jerked in Kurt’s arms, shaking hands clutching automatically at Kurt’s arm, his fingers tense. Kurt’s reaction wasn’t much better, and he didn’t have the excuse of being dosed with a cocktail of heavy sense suppressants. “Puck? Finn?” Kurt hissed, furious, “What are you still doing here? And why the hell are you inside?”

Finn shrugged, his eyes trained on Blaine with a mixture of confusion and honest sadness. In contrast, Puck was looking anywhere but the boy in Kurt’s arms, “We figured you’d gotten held up. Sam’s waiting at the car – come on.”

Puck immediately began backtracking, but Finn lingered, unable to look away from Blaine. Kurt followed his gaze for a moment, glancing down at the shell of his boyfriend. The shock of the boys’ arrival over, Blaine was distracted again, lost in the same fog as he had been since Kurt had found him.

He hadn’t seemed to sense them either… had barely reacted beyond Puck’s whispered arrival.

Kurt shook himself mentally. He couldn’t dwell on that now. Scared and frustrated, but without the target he wanted, he pushed down his emotions harshly, “Finn – move. Now.”

The larger boy seemed to shake himself, “Oh right.” Kurt winced as Finn began to head in the same direction as Puck, his heavy footsteps the complete opposite of Blaine’s silent steps.

When they tumbled out into the sharp chilled night air, Sam’s reaction to Blaine’s state wasn’t much better than Finn’s, only he covered his shock up much faster. They hurried back to where they had left the car as quietly and quickly as they could, sticking to the grass rather than the gravel. Finn jumped into the driver’s side, while Sam opened the door to let Kurt get Blaine into the back. Kurt ended up sandwiched between Sam and Blaine, while Puck jumped in the front next to Finn.

The air was thick with tension, and a million questions that no one seemed to be brave enough to ask. Blaine alone appeared oblivious to it all; he had curled up again, as much as the seatbelt allowed, wrapped against Kurt. With a gaze of vague fascination, he began to trace his finger lightly in random spirals over Kurt’s thigh. It seemed to calm him, so Kurt didn’t object. He was far too busy trying to repress the paranoid terror that was demanding he glance behind them every two seconds, until finally the unknown silence was too much, “Did you hear from the girls?”

Sam nodded, somehow pulling up a reassuring smile. He was pressed slightly too much against the car door, in a position of forced casualness. Kurt didn’t call him on it; the stress of the situation they found themselves in, coupled with accidentally touching Kurt’s skin, could actually cause Sam to really freak out. And that was the last thing they needed with Blaine in the state he was in. “Yeah. The Dalton teachers completely fell for it, and the girls got out of there before a teacher from Crawford was available. No one suspected a thing, according to Santana; the teachers were too busy trying to calm Brittany down.”

“Good, that’s good.” Kurt nodded with more conviction and authority than he felt, but it seemed like under the circumstances, he needed to.

The closer they got to Lima, however, the more that knot in the pit of his stomach began to tighten. The reality of what he had done was setting in fast, and he genuinely had no idea what he was going to do next.

Detachedly, Kurt realised that he was starting to fall apart. The weight of the situation, of Blaine’s condition, it was all pressing down on him. There was no way out…

He blinked as the car slowed to a halt, and realised with a jolt that they were parked outside Rachel’s house. Right. The original plan. All meet up here, because that’s where they’d been all evening as far as their parents were concerned.

Except none of them had really believed that Kurt would actually break Blaine out, not really… But he had, and he’d been caught on camera doing it.

Finn and Sam jumped out, and Kurt could feel his heart beginning to beat harder, faster. Oh god… what had he done?

Puck twisted around in his seat, eyes connecting with Kurt’s. At Puck’s rapidly shifting expressions, Kurt could guess that the look he returned had not been very calm. Kurt glanced down at Blaine, where his boyfriend had fallen asleep on his shoulder not too long ago. “There was a camera in his room.”

It was a statement, hollow and lost. Kurt didn’t even know what he expected Puck to do with the information; he just needed to get the poisonous words off his tongue. But the implications were clear. As soon as Dalton realised Blaine was missing, they would call Blaine’s parents, they would call the police, they would check the footage. And then they would immediately go to Kurt. In the space of probably less than twelve hours, Blaine would be back in the custody of his doctors, and Kurt would be in the custody of the police.

“Guys, come on, everyone’s inside.” Finn hovered near the car, his worried eyes darting between the three boys still in the car.

“Give me the keys, Finn.” Puck scooted into the driver’s seat. Finn automatically complied before he seemed to catch up with the situation.

“Wait, what? What are you doing?”

“Getting them out of here.” Puck was blunt, but Kurt could tell that he was willing for Finn to just step back, to understand. Kurt knew he certainly was.

“But… we said we’d all meet up at Rachel’s…”

“And do what?” Puck hissed venomously, “Wait until the cops come knocking and drag Blaine back to that place? Wait until your brother gets arrested? Wake up, Finn, we’ve just done something incredibly shit-stupid. We’re not going to just wake up in the morning and have everything go back to the way things were.”

Finn’s jaw clenched, “Then I’m coming too!”

“No Finn.” Kurt’s voice was so much harsher than he intended, but with Puck suddenly on his side, his voice was stronger too. “The less you know the better. When people start looking for me and Blaine, they’re going to start with Dad, and Carole and you. I know you wouldn’t tell anyone, but it’s better if you don’t have to lie.”

“You can’t run forever, Kurt,” Finn said softly, his eyes fixed on Blaine’s sleeping form.

“I know,” Kurt smiled crookedly, his fingers unconsciously tightening around Blaine’s arm. “But if I don’t try, if I don’t run – even just for a little while – then I’d never forgive myself.”

There was no surprise on Finn’s face, no disappointment. It was as if he hadn’t expected his argument to work, but had felt that he had to try. “Good luck, little bro.”

Kurt nodded jerkily, his throat tight as Puck brought the engine back to life. When did this all get so big?

As Rachel’s street disappeared from view, Kurt had to say it. “Thank you, Puck. Seriously… thank you…”

Puck shrugged with one shoulder, his eyes flicking to the rear view mirror where Kurt’s own gaze was waiting. “You guys deserve a chance. You’d have to be blind and sense-deaf not to see how much you help him, how good you guys are for each other.”

“Finn’s right though… we can’t run forever, and Blaine…” Kurt couldn’t finish his sentence, he just couldn’t. He abruptly changed topic, “So where are we going?”

For the first time since Kurt had meet back up with him in the corridors of Dalton, Puck grinned, “Somewhere no one would think to look.”

Kurt frowned, glancing out the window. It only took a few more corners until, “You cannot be serious.”

McKinley.

“Hey,” Puck frowned defensively at Kurt’s rather deadly tone, “The auditorium’s locked up all summer, and there’s gotta be a bed somewhere backstage from an old production. You can use the showers when the summer school’s not running, and when it is, as a current student I can bring you food. Real school won’t start for another couple of weeks either, so you’ve got time to work things out.”

Kurt stared at him, seeing the other boy in a whole new light, as well as feeling slightly guilty he hadn’t even known that Puck was taking summer classes to get into their senior year. He shook his head, “How did you come up with that plan so fast?”

Puck snorted, pulling them around the side of the school and parking out of sight. “Are you kidding? I knew this was going to end up being the real plan as soon as Finn called.”

Kurt was touched at Puck’s faith, and the level to which he was willing to go to help. “How are we going to get in? The school must be locked…”

“Seriously Hummel? Zizes does this all the time to get dirt on students.”

“How comforting…” Kurt muttered under his breath as Puck jumped out. He unbuckled his seatbelt, twisting properly to face Blaine. Gently, he nudged Blaine’s head from his shoulder, smoothing his thumb over his boyfriend’s forehead when confused creases appeared. “Blaine, wake up honey, we’re here.”

Blaine began to shift, his fingers blindly winding into Kurt’s shirt as Kurt slid the seatbelt from across Blaine’s chest. His limbs seemed too loose, as if he lacked the proper co-ordination and control. Cupping the side of Blaine’s head, Kurt tried to get him to open his eyes, which were now squeezed tight shut. At first, Blaine just tried to bury his face into Kurt’s neck, but Kurt knew they couldn’t linger here too long. The sooner they got inside the better, and Puck was already risking too much.

“Alright, we’re in.” Puck was back, and the side door behind him was propped open, “Do you need a hand with him?”

Kurt shook his head, his mouth a thin line, “I don’t want to make things worse. Come on, Blaine, wake up for me, open those beautiful eyes of yours.”

Blaine shook his head, his movements sharper as he tried to bury himself further. “I don’t want to…” His voice was wobbly, uncertain. Kurt’s heart clenched; he sounded so small, so scared, “I don’t want to wake up, you can’t make me wake up, you can’t make me stop dreaming.”

Kurt bit his lip, willing himself not to cry. Don’t cry, please don’t cry, you don’t have the right to cry, not when this boy is so broken in your arms…

His hands were starting to shake, and his throat was starting to close, and his eyes were burning and god he was going to start crying and he couldn’t!

“Don’t worry, Blaine, you’re still dreaming. You don’t have to wake up yet. Kurt’s right here, look, just open your eyes, he’s right in front of you. Just open your eyes, and it’ll all be okay.”

At some point, Puck had climbed in behind Kurt. His soft tone was lulling, even comforting. It wasn’t one Kurt had ever heard from Puck’s mouth. It was gentle but authoritative, cajoling but wise, and slowly, ever so slowly, Blaine began to unfurl. His eyes finally opened, immediately widening when they fixed first on Kurt. “You’re still here…”

Kurt nodded jerkily, vision blurred, “Of course I am.” He barely trusted his voice, barely managed to choke even those few words out.

“Alright, Blaine, you ready to go inside? Kurt will be right with you, all the way.” This was a side to Puck that Kurt would never have imagined existed, and he probably would have questioned it, if he hadn’t been two breaths from breaking down in tears. But it was working, Blaine was responding, and right now, that was all that Kurt cared about.

They managed to get Blaine inside, although it wasn’t easy. The smaller boy kept phasing out, his steps stuttering and uncertain as every so often he seemed to forget what was happening. And then getting him to the auditorium was only half the job. They settled Blaine in plain view, and began rummaging through old sets by the meagre light of a pair of flashlights Puck had thought to bring. They found parts of a bed, but somehow the headboard had gone missing, so they just ended up dragging the mattress into one of the dressing areas. Curtains could be pulled across to enclose the small space – the glee girls often used it for costume changes – and it would offer them some sense of safety. At least, that’s what Kurt hoped.

Puck disappeared back to the car to grab some supplies he had already prepared - Kurt still couldn’t believe how much the other boy had thought this all through when he himself had barely thought past the single minded thought of get to Blaine. While he was away, Kurt began to get Blaine settled, worried by how even the small trip from the car had practically wiped him out. He was asleep before Kurt had even covered him a blanket.

“These should cover you guys for the weekend,” Puck whispered, drawing Kurt’s attention with his return as he poked his head around the curtain. “There’re some candles in there too in case the batteries in the flashlights run out. I’ve got a class on Monday, and you’ve got your phone.”

Checking that Blaine was definitely asleep, Kurt quietly shifted off the floor mattress, and followed Puck out onto the stage area, “Thank you, I… God, Puck, just… thank you.”

Puck shifted uncomfortably, attempting to look nonchalant as he shrugged, “You know me, Hummel, I’m all for it when it comes to going ‘fuck the system’. Besides, you guys are my bros, and if anyone is gonna help Blaine, it’s you. Not some jumped up doctor in a white coat holding a clipboard.”

Kurt tried to smile confidently, but he knew he had failed before his lips even twitched. Instead he found himself shrugging, “I’m glad you’re so confident. Blaine… Blaine is worse than I think I expected… I don’t know if I did the right thing, taking him out of Dalton…”

Puck shook his head. “Yes you do. You know Blaine would have only got worse in there. He was fine until he went into that place. They think they know best, but who gave them the final say? Blaine isn’t textbook, and neither are you, and neither am I. Wait until the suppressants have worked their way out of his system. At the moment he’s scared, and has no idea what’s going on. You heard him in the car; he doesn’t think any of this is real, he thinks he’s tripping back at Dalton, and that this is a dream – that you’re a dream. That’s how suppressants work – the higher the dose, the more of the ES sense is smothered, and Blaine looks like he’s on a lot of meds. I know that doesn’t seem like much to you, but to someone like Blaine who’s grown up with the world’s emotions surrounding him… it’d be like someone made him blind and deaf in one instant. Sure they add in sedatives and shit to make it easier, but fact is it’s just the simple solution to stop them screaming. Doesn’t make them any less scared, it’s just a different kind of fear.”

Kurt stared at Puck, his mouth fallen slightly open with a coiling horror brought on by Puck’s rant, “How… how do you know all this? Even with Blaine back at the car, you knew exactly what to say to him.”

Puck shrugged brusquely, “When my Grams got old she started to lose sense control. When she touched someone, she couldn’t process their emotions very well, so the doctors put her on suppressants. It wasn’t her fault, and she wasn’t harming anyone, but…” Puck shook himself, “All I’m saying is to be patient. He’s still there, Kurt. I should go, get back to Berry’s slumber party for my alibi.”

“Right.” Kurt said softly, nodding. He was careful not to let any pity show on his face, because he knew that would be the last thing Puck would want. “I’ll see you Monday then.”

Puck’s confidence and beliefs rolled over and over in Kurt’s head as he crept back behind the curtains. He shivered. Despite the late summer warmth, the auditorium was hardly what he would call cosy. Toeing off his shoes, Kurt slid under the blankets, letting his limbs settle automatically into their proper places, entwined with Blaine’s. In sleep, Blaine’s face was smooth, almost relaxed. Carefully, Kurt brushed his thumb over Blaine’s cheek, before leaning in and pressing a feather light kiss to Blaine’s dry lips, “I promise I’ll find you.”

TBC

Chapter Text

A thumb brushed lightly across his closed eyelid, a fingertip traced reverently along his jaw. Kurt surfaced from sleep slowly, awareness creeping over him as his senses awoke. The tiny touches continued, tracing the contours of his face, absorbing, recording every detail. For a moment, Kurt was content to lie there. He didn’t want to make any sudden move and break the precious spell.

Unconsciously, he sighed, the hypnotic fingertips creating a sense of contentment that had been sorely missing from his life of late. The touches paused immediately, but did not retract, and Kurt knew that he had to open his eyes.

Blaine was lying opposite him, eyes fixed wide on Kurt’s face, biting his lip in a horrible picture of guilt and nerves. The only comfort Kurt could take was that Blaine seemed slightly less tired, his face starkly lit in the yellow light of the flashlight Kurt must have left on by accident. Carefully, too terrified he might spook the other boy, Kurt smiled against Blaine’s fingertips, “Good morning.”

Blaine blinked, once, twice, and Kurt desperately wished that he knew what Blaine was thinking. “Hi,” Blaine mumbled, his voice a shadow of what it normally was. He retracted his hands, curling them tightly inwards under his chin, knuckles pressed securely into his collar bone. Kurt immediately missed their warmth. “Sorry.”

Kurt frowned, dropping his voice to match Blaine’s whisper, “For what?” Blaine shrugged awkwardly, averting his eyes. For a moment, Kurt was torn, feeling entirely out of his depth. No. This is Blaine. Following a split second’s deliberation, Kurt slowly reached forward to gently cup his chin, forcing Blaine to look at him again. “Hey. For what?”

“Everything.” The word was so lost and empty as it fell from Blaine’s lips, and it made Kurt’s heart shatter all over again.

“None of this is your fault, Blaine,” Kurt said firmly, swallowing harshly as he forced himself to deal with the touch issue now. The sooner they did, the sooner they could work on getting Blaine better. “I should never have abandoned you. I love you Blaine, I always have. I should have said it right from the start; I should never have lied to you. I thought I was protecting you, but really I was protecting myself. I’ve never felt like this before, and after I left… it was like I never would again. You’re my world, Blaine, and I hope that one day you’ll forgive me for letting my doubts get the better of me.”

A tiny frown had grown on Blaine’s brow as Kurt continued to speak, his curled hands flexing where he kept them tight to his body. Carefully, he pulled back out of Kurt’s reach, legs drawing up to his body as his eyes broke contact. He didn’t say anything, instead staring absently at a fixed point on Kurt’s chest.

Kurt wanted to cry. “Blaine? Blaine, baby, please look at me…”

Blaine didn’t move, all clarity gone from his gaze as he withdrew further into himself, away from Kurt’s words and cracked confession of love. Kurt couldn’t bear the overwhelming pressure in his chest any more. He had to get up, he had to do something. He sat up, swallowing the burning tears that swelled in his throat. Carefully and methodically, he began to sort through the duffel bag Puck had prepared, setting out the candles on some candlesticks he found in a prop bin. He made sure to place them far out of the way, and dragged one of the school’s fire extinguishers to an easy to reach place. He wasn’t going to risk something happening, and with Blaine in the state he was… well, it was better to be safe.

Kurt was just figuring out which flavour of energy bar looked less disgusting and a likely breakfast option for them both when a sudden presence at his shoulder made him jump. Kurt knew he should turn, but didn’t want to look. He didn’t want to look into those gorgeous amber eyes only to get lost in the empty nothingness.

But then he saw a hand creep into his peripheral vision, carefully, oh so carefully reaching across until their fingers brushed. Kurt watched, spellbound, as those fingers he knew so well traced over his knuckles, caressing the back of his hand as each finger drew a precise path before moving around to his palm, shadowing an action from so, so long ago, before either of them knew who they had found.

A thumb brush against Kurt’s cheek, catching a tear he hadn’t even realised was there.

“I can’t feel you.” Blaine’s voice was soft, almost broken, but it was also tinged with something else… a spark of miserable life that had been until now lost in a chasm of drugs and loneliness. “I want to know that you’re real, but I can’t… I don’t… my head is so muddled…”

Kurt sniffed, his breath catching in a half-formed sob, “I’m real, Blaine.”

“And you l-lo…” Blaine’s fingers twitched, muscles spasming as suddenly Kurt’s hand was caught in a desperate, iron-tight grip. He forced himself not to wince, instead turning his head to look at Blaine. That same, confused frown was creasing his features, his jaw tense as he tried to work his way free of the fog that was clouding his senses. “You love m-me?”

It was a question, so desolate and shattered, but equally riddled with a desperate, clawing hope. Kurt swallowed, forcing his voice to be steady and sure. “I love you.”

Blaine nodded repeatedly, eyes skittering down to rest on their clasped hands as he worried his lip between his teeth, “I love you too.” There was no stutter in Blaine’s own admission, just a quiet certainty floating as an island in the mire of confusion clouding his head, “But none of this seems real… I don’t seem real…”

Kurt reached his free hand up to tentatively cup Blaine’s cheek, and this time amber eyes flicked up to meet his own. The other boy didn’t pull away, he only stared at Kurt, eyes willing him to make everything better, make everything how it was before Dalton.

Desperate instinct clawed at Kurt, and perhaps if he had been thinking straight, he would have second guessed himself but he was just so exhausted, worn to a thread, body and soul stretched to the point of breaking, and before he could really register what his body was doing, he was closing the gap between them as he pressed his lips to Blaine’s.

Blaine made a muffled noise of surprise, and a small part of Kurt wanted to leap back and stutter apologies. But as he started to pull back, Blaine followed, his hand moving from its grip on Kurt’s to ghost up his arm. In the end, they only broke contact by an inch, noses still touching as their eyes fell into one another’s depths. It seemed as if every time Kurt’s eyes connected with Blaine’s, there was a little more of his boyfriend looking back, still desperate and terrified, but also here. Blaine leant forward, bumping his forehead into Kurt’s, eyes squeezing shut for a beat before opening again to shine with honest trust, “Make me real.”

Kurt’s heart jerked painfully in his chest, pounding erratically in a rush of blood that flooded his senses. He tenderly reached up, brushing the pad of his thumb against Blaine’s temple before following a path to tuck a stray curl behind his ear, “Okay.” Kurt pressed a lingering kiss to Blaine’s lips, trying not to think about the lack of colour and stars that would normally be so alive when they kissed. He knew what Blaine was asking, but he wouldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be fair to either of them, not with the state of mind Blaine was in. But he did have another idea. “Let’s get you back to bed. I want to get some food into you before anything else, preferably high in sugar.”

For a moment he expected Blaine to protest moving, but there was a certain dazed quality returning to his eyes, and Kurt knew that he was starting to lose him again to the remnants of sense suppressants that still lingered in his blood, like poison.

After a surprisingly satisfying breakfast of energy bars and a couple of bananas – Kurt had been as shocked as anyone that Puck’s idea of provisions had included fruit – and a heart-pounding trip to the nearest boys’ bathroom that had Kurt’s paranoia on high alert, Blaine curled up in Kurt’s arms for a nap. Kurt was happy to let him. In his later letters, Blaine had mentioned insomnia keeping him up at night. It was one of the symptoms of extreme sense upheaval, as an overwhelming level of emotions begins to severely damage a person’s everyday ability to function. It wasn’t long after that the letters had mentioned the school nurse prescribing a light sedative. Now that he had seen Blaine, Kurt was of no doubt that the sedative was just the beginning of an ever growing cocktail of drugs Blaine had been given as the doctors tried to keep up with his deterioration. Even if the stronger sense suppressants were still lingering in Blaine’s system, Kurt was pretty sure the sedatives would have worn off by now, so he was definitely happy to let Blaine sleep as much as his body naturally wanted to.

Time passed at a strange pace, measured first only by the daylight visible on their bathroom trip, and then by the steady rhythm of Blaine’s breathing as he slept. Kurt was itching to look at his phone, but he had switched it off for a reason. An irrational part of his brain whispered that it could be used to trace them, but the more realistic, honest part of him knew it was because he was dreading reading the swathes of texts his dad had no doubt left by now. He hoped Finn was able to put his dad’s mind at ease, at least a little bit. He knew Burt would understand why Kurt had acted like he had… but that didn’t mean he’d like it.

Blaine rocketed awake in his arms, jolting Kurt out of his reverie and honestly scaring the life out of him. Blaine struggled in Kurt’s arms, suddenly kicking and screaming when only a moment ago he had been so peaceful, “Hey, hey Blaine it’s okay, sshhh, it’s okay, I’m here…”

Words ran like water from Kurt’s lips, little thought going behind the placations other than trying to reach Blaine, because the screaming was honestly terrifying him. The other boy twisted in his arms, his eyes seeming to finally focus on his surroundings, “Kurt?” Arms flung around Kurt’s neck as Blaine latched onto him, breathing hard. Kurt could feel his heart pounding where their chests pressed together.

His fingers found their way into Blaine’s hair, and he stroked the back of his head in what he hoped was a soothing manner, “Yes Blaine, it’s me, you’re okay Blaine, I’m right here…”

It took a while, but finally Blaine’s breathing seemed to calm down, and he settled into a more relaxed hug as Kurt’s arms remained solid around him. “You were gone…”

Kurt pushed Blaine back slightly so they could look at each other, “I’m right here, honey. I didn’t go anywhere; you just had a nightmare.”

Blaine shook his head. “It wasn’t a nightmare. I was waking up, but you were gone.” He swallowed harshly, blinking rapidly. “You’re still gone, except, now I can see that you’re here as well.”

“I’m right here Blaine, I promise. It’s just the suppressants, but they’ll wear off. I guess it’s just taking a little longer, you know, with me being so low down the scale. I bet if my dad walked in right now you’d sense him straight away.” Kurt smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way, even though inside he was privately terrified that this might be permanent. The fact that they had been able to sense each other… it had been an anomaly. What if Blaine was never able to feel him again? What if the drugs had damaged something long term? For a fleeting moment Kurt was glad that Blaine couldn’t sense his internal fear in that moment, and then he just felt infinitely worse.

Blaine somehow pulled a weak smile onto his face, “If your dad walked in right now, me being able to sense him would be the least off our concerns. He’d probably murder the pair of us.”

The humour was poor at best, but there was the tiniest of sparks that came with it, the smallest piece of the old Blaine. Kurt couldn’t help but laugh, drawing Blaine into a kiss as he enjoyed his boyfriend’s increasingly lucid periods.

Maybe… just maybe they would be able to do this…

Kurt pulled back, his idea from earlier solidifying in his mind. Blaine frowned, his eyes tracking the delicate movements of Kurt’s nimble fingers as he began to unbutton his shirt. “What are you doing?”

Kurt smiled warmly, lovingly, letting his eyes settle confidently on Blaine as he threw his shirt to one side, the cool air of the auditorium prickling over his bare chest. Gently, he reached over to tug at Blaine’s t-shirt, giving the other boy plenty of time to stop him if he wished, but he didn’t. Kurt’s heart tugged at the slight shadow of Blaine’s ribs, stretched over by golden skin. While he wasn’t yet dangerously underweight, he had definitely lost too much in his short time at Dalton. No wonder they had been talking about moving Blaine to an intensive care facility; they had been running out of options.

Well, they didn’t have Kurt. If anything, the sheer trust that shone from Blaine’s eyes had been enough to solidify Kurt’s belief that he had done the right thing.

“Kurt?” Blaine’s voice was hushed, his hand reaching out to take Kurt’s.

Kurt pulled his boyfriend forward and into his lap, Blaine’s legs settling either side of him. There was a thrill of electricity running underneath his skin, but it was tempered by a calm purpose. He took Blaine’s head in his hands, “I’m going to prove that you’re real.”

Blaine frowned in confusion, but Kurt kissed it away. He began to mirror Blaine’s actions from earlier, tracing his fingers in patterns that would map the entirety of Blaine’s torso, alternating gentle touches with the light brush of his lips. Blaine’s body became pliant in his hands, and time began to bleed into itself. Kurt didn’t even notice at first when Blaine began to trace intricate pathways across his own pale skin in return. Kurt kissed a line down Blaine’s neck, his nails creating feather light spirals over Blaine’s shoulder blade, before he settled to kiss the base of his throat with an open mouth, letting himself swim in the languid passion that crested over every nerve-ending.

Blaine gasped softly, his head thrown back for a moment before he pressed forward, bringing their chests skin-to-skin as Blaine’s finger ran down the length of Kurt’s spine in a line of stars. Kurt arched, his hands dropping to Blaine’s waist, thumbs running down the edges of his hips until they stopped at the band of his pants, before he allowed them to resume their path upwards again.

Gently, Kurt twisted them, rolling their bodies sideways until Blaine was laid out beneath him. Blaine’s hands came up to caress Kurt’s chest, their skin dappled by pinpricks of candlelight as they became lost in the dark blanket of a false night sky. Kurt dropped his lips to follow the contours of Blaine’s closed lids, the creases of his forehead, the bridge of his nose. His own eyes fell shut as he set himself adrift in the moment, the scattering of candlelight as a spray of golden stars, awash with familiar, swelling waves of midnight blue.

Blaine’s hands came up to caress Kurt’s face, and even when he pulled back slightly to open his eyes, Kurt could still feel the waves lapping at his senses as his chest pressed close to Blaine’s own beating heart. Blaine was smiling softly, his eyes a bright amber, glittering with overwhelming love. Kurt watched as his throat bobbed as he swallowed, his voice still cracking as he murmured, “There you are…”

Kurt’s face broke into a half-sobbing laugh, the waves and stars flooding his senses to the point of too-much. He surged forward to capture Blaine’s lips, open-mouthed and desperate. He broke contact only a fraction, just to breathe a whispered reply, an echo of Blaine’s words to him, all that time ago. “I’ve been looking for you forever.”

TBC

Chapter Text

What? What the hell?

“Cooper, calm down, please sweetheart-” His mother’s pixelated face was streaked with tears, and he couldn’t tell how much of the jumping audio was his poor internet connection or her cracking voice.

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” Cooper yelled. He didn’t think he could remember a time feeling so out of control, which was absurd because he should have grown used to this sort of thing by now, he should be immune…

But instead a tight snake of terror and guilt and panic was winding its way around his throat and god he couldn’t breathe!

Why did he feel like this?

“Your dad is in the next room talking with the police-”

“The police should be arresting those shit-poor excuses for doctors and teachers right now!”

“Cooper, please…” His mom’s voice cracked, and even from hundreds of miles away, staring at her face on his laptop, he could tell she was a moment from breaking.

“I’m coming home.”

“No, no Cooper, please don’t. Blaine wouldn’t want you to, and neither do we. You need to live your own life, sweetheart. We, we wanted you to know what happened, but please, don’t come home again. You can’t afford to keep leaving your life like this.”

Cooper blinked, somehow quelling the storm inside himself to properly look at his mother. A horrible, frozen finger crept down his spine. “They don’t think they’re going to find him alive, do they.” It wasn’t a question, his voice was too flat for it to have been a question.

His hands curled into fists.

“Cooper, please, don’t come home. We’ll call you if there’s any change, but there’s nothing you can do whether you’re in New York or here. It’s all in the hands of the police now.”

Cooper laughed, bitter, “Well, frankly Mom, fuck that. I’m booking myself on a flight now.”

“Cooper!”

He felt his mouth twist, and the cruel words tumbled out before he could stop himself, “I’m not Blaine, Mom. You can’t control my life.”

He cut the connection, and promptly punched the desk with a wretched scream that didn’t make him feel better in any way. His emotions were a chaotic mess, churning underneath the surface of his skin.

Blaine had disappeared in the dead of night, from a secure facility. Sure, Dalton wasn’t as high-end as the place the doctors had been planning to transfer Blaine, but from what his parents had been saying recently, Blaine would have been in no shape to run away without help.

His mom had said that Dalton was checking security footage now, but Cooper knew already.

Kurt.

Fuck.

00000

John’s heart lurched when he caught sight of that familiar coif of dark brown hair amidst the airport arrivals. He felt selfish for being relieved at seeing his older son. Often, especially when Cooper had been younger, John worried that his eldest took on too much responsibility when it came to Blaine, that Cooper wasn’t leading his own life. But at times like these, he wanted his family close.

“Hey Dad,” Cooper smiled half-heartedly, sinking into his father’s arms. John’s throat caught at the undercurrent of exhaustion and dull worry emulating from his son – a direct reflection of his own tumult of emotions, “You didn’t have to come, I could’ve got a cab.”

John shrugged, “I needed to get out of the house.”

They walked in silence to the car, but they had barely pulled away from the airport when Cooper stated bluntly, “It was Kurt, wasn’t it?”

John sighed. “That’s what it’s starting to look like. He told Burt that he was going to a friend’s house for the night, and he told all his friends – including his stepbrother – that he wasn’t feeling very well and was going to stay home. No one’s seem him since before Blaine disappeared.”

Cooper snorted, and a burst of doubt shocked through John. He frowned; Cooper wasn’t usually this bad at projecting. He was usually so level-headed. “And how did Mom take the news?”

“Which part? Blaine being missing, or the fact that Kurt had a hand in helping him run away?” John rubbed a hand over his face, suddenly feeling so empty.

Cooper didn’t answer, a soft anger stewing underneath his skin in a way that John couldn’t ignore, but also had no idea how to address. Mainly because he had yet to sort out how he was feeling.

He kept replayed the lecture the police and doctors had given them when Blaine was first realised to be missing… so cold and detached, the usual spiel that John had been hearing since Blaine had been diagnosed. Sure, this one was disguised as a police investigation, but it was still the same message.

You have to prepare yourselves for the worst.

Blaine has been deteriorating for some time now.

You know that we discussed how even Dalton was becoming too much for him.

Without access to the proper, trained care, Blaine will be at serious risk of a fatal grade empathic episode.

I’m so sorry.

John pulled up to his house, noting the car of the family liaison officer still out front. He was about to get out when his son broke the silence.

“You know what’s the worst thing?” Cooper asked, his voice jerky.

“What?” John wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

“The fact that I gave up. I let the doctors make me believe that Blaine was gone. When you called me the other day to tell me that he was being moved out of Dalton, I felt relieved. I was glad that he’d finally reached the point where he didn’t know what was happening anymore, that he didn’t know that he was losing his mind, that soon he might have some peace. I was fucking glad. I gave up on my little brother because, what? Suddenly it got too hard? Because I could see the end in sight and I didn’t want to try anymore?”

“No…Cooper, it’s okay, we all thought-” John’s throat caught, unable to continue against the tidal wave of Cooper’s exploding emotions, colliding with his own.

“It’s not fucking okay! Kurt knew! Kurt didn’t give up, and Kurt rescued him from that place! Blaine was terrified and falling apart and we just aban-d-doned him! We l-left him, we fu-ucking left him and now, and no-w…”

Cooper punched the inside of the door, his body jerking with an onslaught of desperate, gasping sobs. John frantically twisted in the confines of his car seat, gathering his son in his arms as the young man fell apart entirely, their mingled emotions broken and twisted with equal measures of anger and guilt.

“I know. We screwed up. But we’ll find him. We’ll find them both. I promise.”

He could tell Cooper didn’t believe him. But then, he didn’t believe himself either.

00000

Burt wrenched the door open, not bothering to try and tamp down on the anger he knew he was radiating. He really must have looked ready to kill, because the visitor on his porch actually took a half step back. Burt deflated, suddenly guilty, “John… Sorry, I thought you were…” He gestured dismissively at the pair of news vans staked outside his house.

John Anderson shrugged tiredly, “I understand. We’ve got our own share to deal with.” He glanced behind him, his whole body seeming to sag in defeat as a few reporters started to emerge, like termites out of the woodwork.

“Mr Anderson! Mr Anderson! How do you feel, knowing that the son of this man is responsible for Blaine’s abduction?”

Burt was ready to rip into the nosey assholes, but a white hot flicker of pure anger from John stopped him short. It was like electricity had shocked the other man rigid, the tired, defeated posture suddenly melted away to nothing. He whirled on the reporters, who stopped short. While Burt was sure they must have low ES levels to be able to stomach harassing traumatised people as a part of their everyday job, even they couldn’t ignore the hostility rolling off John. “Abduction? You sick lowlifes are actually claiming that Kurt – a child – abducted Blaine, like some sort of psychopath? Kurt is as much missing as Blaine is, as scared as Blaine is, and as lost as Blaine is. This town isn’t missing one teenager, it’s missing two, so wrap your heads around that damn quick, or I’ll pull you all up in court for slander so fast you’ll be unemployed by dinner!”

The reporters seemed to freeze in place, and for a moment Burt thought they might have got the message, until a brave one shot back, “Kurt Hummel is registered as 0.5 on the scale, but at no point did his family, his doctors, or the teachers at McKinley see fit to restrict his contact with children higher up the scale. As a result, your son, an at-risk, high-ES minor, was exposed to empathic stimulus that independent medical advisors now believe was a significant factor in your son’s deteriorated health. Can you really stand by the Hummels with this knowledge, Mr Anderson, when the parents of Lima are demanding a reassessment of McKinley’s policy on mixing teenagers of varying ES levels?”

Burt gaped, his words stolen by the rage bubbling in his chest. John was equally frozen, and Burt felt the other man’s wrenching horror and disbelief in his chest as if it were his own.

“Well the parents of Lima can go screw themselves!” Burt’s head whipped up, only to see his step-son hanging out of the upstairs window, his large frame jammed into the open space. “So leave us the hell alone! Kurt and Blaine were the best thing to happen to each other, and the best thing to happen to McKinley!”

“You heard him,” Burt said, quietly proud. “Now get the hell off my property before I call the cops and have you done for trespassing!”

He beckoned John inside, and as soon as the door shut behind him, the man slumped against the wall. “I can’t believe people are saying those things about Kurt… I’m so sorry…”

Burt shook his head, “None of that. Besides, if I believed that we could speak for the actions of our headstrong kids, then I’d be apologising for Kurt’s behaviour. But we can’t. Kurt and Blaine are practically adults, and I don’t think anyone predicted things would turn out this way. No one knew Blaine would deteriorate as quickly as he did, and for kids as in love as those two are, that’s scary, no matter how much we think we’ve prepared them.”

Carole emerged from the living room, her eyes kind as she laid a hand on John’s shoulder, “Come on and sit down. We can catch each other up on the stock answers everyone’s been feeding us.”

John shook his head, “I just want to know that he’s okay. That they’re both okay…”

“They are.”

The adults turned as one, the moment broken by Finn’s entrance. He stood on the fourth step from the bottom, fidgeting and practically radiating guilt. Carole was the first to shake herself, “Finn Christopher Hudson, you explain what you mean right this instant. If you’ve been keeping information from the police – from us – so help me I will ground you so long you’ll still be enduring my wrath when you’re in a retirement home!”

“We helped them!” Finn blurted out, arms wrapped around himself. “We all did. Kurt was getting these letters from Blaine while he was at Dalton, and they kept getting worse! Then the day we broke him out Kurt got one last one and it was like Blaine was dying and we had to do something! Kurt’s the only one who’s ever been any good for Blaine! Every time he’s freaking out, or scared, or glee club’s emotions were getting too much for him – Kurt could fix that! And then Blaine was sent to Dalton, and it was killing both of them but everyone was too obsessed with what the doctors said was right to try and change anything!” Finn’s voice cracked, his voice rising to a defensive shout, “I don’t know where they are, none of us do, but I know that they’re together, and that means that they’re going to be okay.”

“Finn, it doesn’t work like that…” Carole said.

“Says who?” Finn shot back, “Seriously, Mom, says who? Because all I know is that Kurt and Blaine were good for each other until they weren’t, and they weren’t as soon as Blaine went to Dalton, as soon as Kurt was made to believe that he was anything other than great for Blaine. So whatever, Mom, ground me. But I’m not sorry I helped my brother get Blaine out of that nightmare. None of New Directions are.”

00000

Emily had a headache again, her temple throbbing from the emotional whiplash she had experienced over the past few days. Sweeping her eyes over her sizable lounge, and the numerous occupants, she couldn’t believe how it had come to this. All she wanted now was to hold her baby in her arms, but still they seemed no closer.

A pair of officers from the Lima stood facing the parents and children of McKinley High School’s glee club. The officers were accompanied by another pair, agents from the FBI’s Sense Protection and Incident unit. Blaine and Kurt’s case had reached national news yesterday, and with Blaine’s high ES level and both boys being underage… everything had just escalated horrifically.

Still, the New Directions kept silent. Despite pleas of logic and threats of ramifications, the teenagers were like a stone wall.

She couldn’t take this for much longer. She felt like she was suffocating, snakes of guilt, doubt, terror, anger, all twisted angrily in her chest, and one day soon they were going to close around her lungs and never let go. The room seemed to close in on her, and her skin itched with inaction.

She had to get out of here, she had to leave, she had to escape.

It was cowardly, but she just couldn’t look at their stubborn, earnest young faces anymore. She hated them. She hated them so, so much, because they reminded her of how hopeful she had once been, how naively she had believed that Blaine would fight the odds.

They lived in their happy fairy tales of true love conquering all, of the evil doctors manipulating the young prince into thinking he was lost, of the brave knight sweeping in at the last minute and saving the day with a kiss.

But the real world couldn’t work that way. Emily had stopped believing in fairytales the day her son’s first best friend landed him in hospital, and she caught a glimpse of what it would be to watch him fade away until he was lost to her forever.

So why did she feel guilty? Why did she feel as if she had done the wrong thing? Why was she the evil mother in this Disney story?

Fairytales didn’t exist, good wouldn’t always out.

The authorities were looking for her son’s body, and perhaps now, they were even losing hope of finding Kurt alive.

But Emily didn’t believe that Blaine was dead, even if all the doctors said that there was no way he could have survived this long without medical care or sense suppressants. And she didn’t believe that Kurt would have given up, that the only reason he was still missing was because he was scared to face the consequences.

She was starting to believe in fairytales again.

A few hours later, Emily felt a soft brush of tired warmth against the edge of her senses. Her husband stood in the doorway of their bedroom, his eyes hollow and lost. “They’re gone. No luck – kids all tell the same story. They split at the house of one of the girls, and Kurt drove off with Blaine. Agent Wilson isn’t convinced that’s all to it, but it was getting late. The parents are going to try again individually and let us know, but until one of them spills, there’s nothing we can do.”

“This is all my fault.” The words fell from her lips without thought, a whispered confession finally breaking free.

John frowned, coming to sit next to her on the bed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, “I’ve thought the same of myself these past few days. It’s no one’s fault, Emily, don’t start thinking that because you won’t be able to stop.”

“But it is, you don’t understand. I talked to Kurt, I talked him into breaking up with Blaine. I essentially manipulated a teenager into thinking he was killing his boyfriend just by being with him!” She felt John’s arm slip from her shoulders, but he didn’t move from her side, and her words kept spilling faster and faster, “At the time I convinced myself that I was right, that it was for the best, the best for Blaine, but god how could I have done that? I was just so scared that we were losing him, and now he’s gone and the one person I tried to push away from him is the only one who has a chance of keeping him alive right now. I just… I just want Blaine back… I want them both back… I’m so sorry…”

John was quiet, and while she knew that she must be projecting horrifically right now, he was unreadable. His jaw was set, and he wasn’t looking at her. In a sudden motion he stood and said, “I’m going for a drive.”

“John-”

He held a hand up, halting her words, “Please, Emily, I need to go for a drive and clear my head before I say something I regret.”

“Okay.” Emily swallowed back her tears. “For the record? You can’t hate me more than I hate myself.”

John shook his head, his voice shaking with an emotion Emily didn’t want to try and identify. “Hating you isn’t going to bring our son back, but that doesn’t mean I can be in the same room as you right now.”

She nodded, waiting frozen in position until she heard the front door slam. She scrubbed at her face, and was standing when Cooper slipped around the doorway, leaning his shoulder against the frame, his arms folded. “Coop… How much did you hear?”

The face of her eldest son was like carved stone, his eyes chips of ice as he stared her down. “He’ll forgive you. When we find Blaine, Dad will forgive you, eventually. And we both know that Blaine can’t hold a grudge for more than five minutes. But for the record? I’m not Dad, and I’m not Blaine. I know why you said what you did to Kurt, and I understand it. Hell, maybe if our places had been reversed, I would have done the exact same thing. God knows we’re the most alike in this family when it comes to Blaine. But I won’t forgive you for this. Not when Blaine’s back, not a week from now, not a year.”

“Cooper, please, sweetheart…” Emily’s words choked, and she didn’t know what to say.

“No. Blaine was in Dalton because of you. Blaine got worse because of you.” Cooper cut over her, his anger as cold steel against her senses. “Hating you may not help bring Blaine back, but it also doesn’t stop me looking for him. And when we find him, you’re going to be the one to tell him what you did.”

And then Cooper was gone, and Emily was alone. Her whole family was torn apart, and there was no fairytale ending in sight.

TBC

Chapter Text

The ocean is limitless. It is a changeable force, a languid calm, a maelstrom ready to pull you under. It wields a terrible beauty, and an incredible power.

He had thought he had felt it all; felt the waves and the fleeting storms as they swept him away into their depths. But now…

What he had felt before had been mere flotsam to what flooded him now.

It had begun with a gentle lapping against the bridge of his senses, so gentle Blaine had barely even registered it. He had been lost in the suffocating darkness of drugs and silence, drowning in an airless smog that permeated his brain and leeched at his soul.

He didn’t remember much from those days. His time in Dalton’s isolation ward was a terrifying, gaping chasm in his memory, but the hours following the escape from the school were somehow even worse; fleeting glimpses of a warped world, twisted emotions swelling in his throat as he drowned in his own emptiness and isolation.

Reality is subjective.

There you are…

Strong arms slipped around Blaine’s waist, a wash of calm against the swirl of his thoughts, “It’s going to work out.”

Blaine twisted his body so he could look at Kurt, taking a moment to enjoy the serene gaze of his boyfriend. “Who are you trying to convince?”

There it was, the deeper pull, the invisible deadly undercurrent of terror, panic, defensiveness. Blaine’s senses were becoming solely tuned to Kurt, as if their time apart had stretched their bond so thin that the snap back had crashed them together into one person.

Kurt shook his head. “Me. Both of us. The empty auditorium. Take your pick.” There was a swell of nerves with his words, scattering the reflection of stars as ripples across the glass-still surface of his emotions. Kurt sighed, letting out the tension in a long breath. “We can’t stay here forever.”

When you lived with the sort of life expectancy Blaine did, forever was a flexible measurement, but he didn’t think it was the best time to raise that argument with Kurt. Besides, in his heart, he knew the other boy was right.

There was an outside world, no matter how much they had been trying to pretend otherwise.

It had been nearly a week since Kurt had rescued Blaine from Dalton, and the trap of his own mind. A week of wonderful solitude and tentative healing. Both of them still carried raw wounds, but they were better, stronger for it.

They were starting to think about people beyond each other. Kurt especially worried about his Dad, and Blaine carried a crawling guilt for his own family, who probably by now thought he was...dead…

“But how do we even begin?” Blaine asked, turning away from their locked gazes to lean back into Kurt’s chest as they stood on the edge of the stage, “Call your Dad to pick us up from school?”

Kurt hooked his chin onto Blaine’s shoulder, looking out into the expanse of dark empty seats. “I don’t know. I guess we start by walking out the front door, and go from there.”

Blaine’s stomach lurched uncontrollably at Kurt’s words, a sudden jerk of fear at the notion. “You make it sound so simple.”

Kurt shook his head, a soft warmth against Blaine’s neck, “It’s not.” The jerk of fear burst into a thousand harmless echos, skittering between them. There was a stretching quiet, and Blaine crossed his arms to lace over Kurt’s where they rested around his torso. The action seemed to give Kurt courage to speak his thoughts out loud, “I’m scared they’ll take you away from me. I’m scared they’ll hurt you again.”

The words were a murmur, solid and honest, hanging heavy in the air.

Blaine swallowed harshly, his voice as soft and quiet as Kurt’s, “I’m scared they’ll lock you up. I’m scared they’ll steal my voice again and I won’t be able to protect you.”

Kurt nodded, acknowledging both their admissions. His fingers trembled nearly imperceptibly, and Blaine caught them in his own. He took a steadying breath, a comforting press against Blaine’s back. “Tonight,” he murmured.

Blaine’s chest tightened, his fingers tense over Kurt’s, “Okay.”

Tonight. Tonight their brief forever ended. Tonight, the outside world would come flooding back, and try to tear them apart.

Blaine gritted his teeth. No. No, he wouldn’t let them. He wouldn’t let them take Kurt away.

But even as that thought solidified in his mind, a more powerful gripping suffocation surrounded him, filling him with a much stronger doubt. A doubt that had been laid as the foundation of his life…

From his family… Blaine doesn’t know what he wants! He thinks he wants to go back to school but you know as well as I do that the moment he sits in a classroom full of emotionally chaotic teenagers he’ll completely lose his sense of self! We’ll lose our son!

From his doctors… During an episode Blaine won’t understand what is happening to him. You must be prepared to take measures to protect him from himself in these instances. It may seem cruel at the time, but it’s imperative that you are able to get him to medical help quickly and safely to minimise mental damage.

From books… Children of abnormally high empathic sense levels are typically impressionable, often characterised as naïve. In extreme cases they may never be recognised as a legal adult, if the individual is deemed unable to make choices independent of external emotional influence.

From the world… Damaged. Broken. Abnormal. Delicate creatures to be sheltered from society.

But Blaine did know what he wanted. He knew his own mind. He knew that he couldn’t live without the gentle caress of Kurt against both his skin and his senses, so gentle and perfect. He knew that he loved Kurt with more than he had ever thought he could give.

His heart thrummed an irregular beat in his chest, and his mouth remained dry with the clenching fear warring under his skin.

Kurt’s arms tightened around him, pulling Blaine from the mire of his thoughts. “I love you too.”

With those four words, all tension drained from Blaine’s body, and he allowed himself a shaky smile. Although the drugs were out of his system, he was definitely still prone to moments of unbalance. He didn’t know what he would do if he didn’t have Kurt to pull him back. “You’re getting better at that.”

Kurt grinned, suddenly shy, “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.”

“I wonder if you’ll be able to sense me without touch,” Blaine said absently.

A thrill of muddled emotions flickered through Kurt too quick to identify. “I already have…”

Blaine twisted, turning completely in Kurt’s arms to look him square in the eye, “When? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“When you first told me you loved me.” Kurt’s eyes were soft, guilty and regretful with the murmured admission. “When I lied to you, and told you I didn’t.”

Blaine physically flinched, his throat tight as he tried to keep the accusation from his tone. “You felt what I was feeling in that moment, and you still walked away?”

Kurt shook his head furiously, “It killed me to leave you, to say those words, to throw what we had away. But I was convinced that if I stayed, that if I was selfish and kept hold of you, that my stupid ES level would actually kill you… It’s why I stayed away for so long. I tried to convince myself that you were better off without me.”

“And then Wes sent you my letters.” Blaine filled in the gaps from what else Kurt had told him during the course of the past few days. He was surprised to realise that he didn’t feel betrayed by Kurt’s confession. If anything, it only made him even more angry at everybody else, and protective of his relationship with Kurt. What kind of a world did they live in, that Kurt would come to what seemed like such a natural conclusion?

Kurt’s expression was still marred by guilt, “Blaine, I’m so sorry. I-”

Blaine surged forward desperately, capturing the other boy’s face in his hands as he crushed his lips to Kurt’s. Kurt stumbled slightly, his words cut off in a squeak of surprise.

When they broke apart, Kurt gave a breathy laugh, “Okay, I get it, no more apologies.”

Blaine nodded, satisfied, leaning his body closer to press against Kurt’s. “Good.”

They fell into a soft silence, letting the unspoken haunting questions float away, to be dealt with when the time came to answer them.

What will happen when we leave?

How will we make them listen to us?

Will I fall asleep next to you tonight?

Will I wake up in your arms tomorrow?

Where do we go from here?

For the moment, the questions could stay away. For the moment, they had their forever, even if that forever could only last a few more hours.

TBC

 

 

Chapter Text

Blaine tightened his arm in the crook of Kurt’s elbow. “I take it back. We should have waited for Puck to come into school on Monday. Or we could have called Puck. He could have driven us to your Dad’s or something.”

Kurt glanced at Blaine, his hair catching in the yellow glow of the streetlights as they walked. “It’ll be okay. We’re only a few blocks from my house now. Besides, it’s nice to be outside again.”

Blaine ducked his head, pulling up the hood of his borrowed sweatshirt. “Kurt, I’m not kidding. I don’t like this.”

Kurt’s fond amusement rankled at Blaine’s nerves. “Blaine, we’re not in Lima Heights. You look ridiculous. It’s only 8pm. There are lights on in the houses, cars are driving up and down, people are still out.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Blaine muttered. “I think that woman walking her dog is following us.”

“Blaine…” Kurt sighed, his voice exasperated, “Stop it. I’m nervous enough without you imagining things.”

A couple of late evening joggers passed them in the opposite direction down the sidewalk, their undercurrent of emotions fleeting and unassuming, but Blaine couldn’t help but tense. He let his senses follow them for longer than he usually would have, needing to know that they had passed unnoticed.

Blaine shook himself. Maybe he was being paranoid… He had to snap out of it. He couldn’t let his doctors think he was anything other than the picture of health. He wasn’t under any delusions; as soon as he was back with his parents, he was going to be subject to the full spectrum of tests as they all frantically tried to work out how he was still functioning.

Polite confusion.

Realisation. Worry, determination, concern, surprise, panic, shock, decisiveness-

“Hey, you two!”

Kurt didn’t register the shout as quickly as Blaine, who had been halfway to turning around before the male jogger had even called over.

The couple were standing with the dog walker, who already had her phone out. The man was already walking back toward them, his girlfriend hanging back, unsure.

Kurt swore under his breath, and Blaine could feel every muscle tensing under his hand.

Uncertainty… uncertainty…

The man faltered slightly, raising his hands in a placating gesture. Kurt’s hand slipped down and grasped tightly into Blaine’s own, a gesture the man did not fail to miss.

“A lot of people are out looking for you boys.” The stranger’s eyes flicked between the frozen pair, before his gaze settled on Blaine. “Your parents are really worried, Blaine.”

Kurt jerked, flashes of defensiveness running through him. Blaine was fixed in place upon hearing his name. It suddenly made it all far too real. This man, this complete stranger, knew his name. He knew his name because he had heard it on news reports, and from gossip and speculation.

“Blaine, it’ll be okay. The police are on their way.” The other jogger called to them, her kind smile completely bypassing Kurt as it fixed on Blaine.

And then all the emotions came into horrible focus, and Blaine could see everything stretching out before him. The couple, the woman, the old man peeking out from behind his twitching curtains in the house two doors over, they all had the same undercurrent of poisonous, misguided feeling.

Hostility.

The shock of the intense, deep-seated emotion unstuck Blaine’s feet from the pavement. Not because it was directed at him, but because it was directed at Kurt.

He could already sense Kurt’s indecision, wondering whether to just wait for the police to arrive. They would have to explain themselves to the authorities eventually.

Except Blaine was starting to doubt if they would be given the chance.

The moment seemed to freeze, extending longer with every breath.

Kurt’s hands tightened on Blaine’s, beginning to register what Blaine was feeling. He might not be able to sense the others, but he trusted Blaine.

One beat, two… Blaine saw the panic in the man’s eyes a split second ahead of time.

“No! Wait!”

They were already running, feet pounding against the pavement. There was shouting behind them, and was it Blaine’s imagination, or could he hear sirens?

Kurt took a sharp left, nearly wrenching Blaine’s arm out of the socket as he pulled them down what Blaine could only hope was a shortcut to Kurt’s house. He tripped, his feet slipping in his borrowed slightly-too-big shoes.

They stumbled out into an adjoining suburban street, breathing hard. “This is insane,” Kurt snapped, whirling around to get his bearings. “Is anyone following us?”

Blaine shook his head, attempting to tamp down on his frantically beating heart, trying but failing to focus as his head spun. “I don’t think so… No, no there isn’t. I guess that guy decided to leave it to the police.”

As if on cue, a soft swell of sirens permeated the evening air.

“Okay, come on, we’re really close to my house. Let’s just get there, and away from the moronic do-good-”

Blaine only had a split second warning before a hand clamped down on his wrist, wrenching him backwards and away from Kurt. His already scattered senses shattered at the unwelcome touch, at the overwhelming certainty of the stranger that what he was doing was right.

“Hey! Get off him!” Kurt’s yell shot through the air, and Blaine twisted as he was shoved into another pair of strange hands.

His eyes focused just in time to see the male jogger shove Kurt roughly into the side of a parked car. Kurt hit the metal with a warped crash, before hitting the pavement hard, losing his feet in shock.

Blaine’s head swam, and he was dimly aware of small hands taking a firm but gentle hold of his wrists. It was the other jogger, the woman. She was trying to project calming emotions onto him, as a parent might do for their scared child, but all Blaine could sense was the pair’s protectiveness, their instinct that Kurt was bad.

Everything was so wrong.

“You stay away down until the police arrive, kid. You’ve done enough damage.” The man was pointing at Kurt, looming.

Kurt looked ready to spit nails, but Blaine’s attention kept getting swept away by the woman holding him as she soothed, “You’re okay now, Blaine, everything’s going to be okay. Don’t worry, sweetheart, you’re safe. I know everything’s scary right now, but you’re okay…”

No. No he was not okay. Kurt wasn’t okay. None of this was okay.

It was getting harder to keep his head above water, above the tidal wave of emotions that were not his own.

Sirens were getting louder, one extra attack on his senses, one step closer to too much.

“Kurt…” Blaine choked out the name, determined not to lose it. Determined not to fall back to how he had been before. No, not like this. Please… keep it together…

Kurt’s voice faded in and out, his remarks cutting as he screamed at the man.

More people, so many more people. Too many…

“I don’t care, I don’t care, okay. Fine, I won’t move, just please, please let go of Blaine! You don’t understand! Let him go! Please!”

The woman’s hands around Blaine’s wrists burned at his skin, her cloying good intentions sickening sweet as they pooled in his throat, choking him.

And then there was a lull. Brief, soft, terrifying, a numbing reprise bathed in flashing blue and red lights.

Blaine’s eyes connected with Kurt’s.

Kurt knew. Kurt could feel Blaine, and he knew. They were already pitching over the edge, unable to pull themselves back. This was just the realisation.

Last time, Blaine hadn’t known what was happening. He had felt it building, but not known what it meant.

Until now, he hadn’t realised how much of a blessing that had been.

Because this time he knew, this time he understood. This time he could watch as the dawning horror manifested behind Kurt’s eyes.

Because this time, Kurt could feel it too.

The woman, and her misguided intentions.

The man, and his fear driven anger at Kurt.

Right thing, wrong thing, what if we’re wrong, no this is right.

The police. The rookie who was out of his depth, the lieutenant following orders, his partner, who couldn’t give a shit.

Stupid kids.

Other men. Not police, something similar. Full of detached professionalism.

Keep a handle on the situation, can’t let it escalate.

And in the middle of it all was Kurt, the one constant in the storm.

Kurt’s lips moved, but the world had faded out. Everything crashed together, and Blaine didn’t have the strength to hold up to walls anymore.

I’m sorry Kurt…

The dam broke, emotions crashing together to blur into a blinding white noise that infected every one of Blaine’s senses.

The sheer pain of it stole Blaine’s breath, a curtain of darkness falling across his eyes as his hearing was flooded with static.

He needed the world to stop. That’s all, just that one kindness, please.

He couldn’t, he couldn’t focus. It wasn’t that simple please please please make it stop.

-my voice-

Voice. Who’s voice?

Blaine tried to pull himself out of the freezing tide, tried to focus on his limbs, tried not to drown.

It would be easier to drown.

-I’m here, I’m here, I’m here. I won’t let you drown-

It’s not that easy. It’s never that easy.

-Yes it is. Focus. Focus Blaine, focus!-

Grit, rough under his hands. His hip hurt. Had he fallen?

-I’ve got you, I’m not letting you go-

Soft hands on his face, a gentle pressure against his forehead.

Emotions crashed angrily around them, but Blaine’s couldn’t feel them, they weren’t in him.

Not a drug induced stupor, but a genuine, pure silence.

Blaine opened his eyes in wonder, immediately falling into the pair of bright blue eyes an inch from his own.

Kurt’s hands on his face. Kurt’s forehead pressed against his own. Kurt’s brilliant blue eyes.

Kurt’s silence.

“Focus, Blaine. It’s going to be okay. I’m here.” Kurt maintained a murmured, determined mantra, pulling Blaine through the storm and into its eye of stillness and quiet.

Dimly, Blaine could see people just stopped, staring at them. In shock, disbelief, incredulity, Blaine didn’t know what emotion.

He also didn’t care.

“Hey…” Blaine croaked, surprising himself at the hoarseness of his voice. Had he been screaming?

Kurt’s shoulders slumped, and his face broke into a beautiful golden grin of relief. “Don’t you ever do that to me again. Don’t leave me, Blaine.”

Blaine reached up a hand, oblivious to the world outside their silence. He could still feel Kurt, the other boy’s feelings fitting perfectly into the quiet, the only emotions Blaine cared about other than his own. He stroked his thumb over a small cut rising angrily against Kurt’s pale cheekbone.

“Never.”

TBC

Chapter Text

Blaine tensed, the bubble popping. Kurt twisted, his hands still solid against Blaine's skin. The tableau surrounding them was strange, bordering on the surreal. All this drama, for two teenage boys… to Blaine, it was depressing, but to Kurt, it was laughable. Blaine could feel the dark humour coiling within every swallowed breath his boyfriend suppressed.

They just wanted to go home…

"Kurt?" A woman with a badge but no uniform, was starting to walk carefully towards them. Belatedly, Blaine realised that there was a distinct gap between them and everyone else that hadn't been there a moment ago. The joggers were nowhere in sight or sense. "Kurt, my name is Agent Miller. I'm here to help, but it's very important that you let us."

She wasn't even talking to Blaine, she was practically ignoring him. Kurt's hands had at some point slipped from Blaine's face to the back of his neck. Blaine let his forehead drop to rest at the base of Kurt's throat, his fingers twining in the other boy's shirt. He felt so drained, so hollow.

"You keep saying you're trying to help." Kurt's voice was strong and sure, but even as he spoke, a frisson of Kurt's desperate terror shot through Blaine. Somehow the knowledge that Kurt was scared made everything worse. "But every time you try to help, you all just make it worse."

"I understand how you feel Kurt-"

"You cannot be serious," Kurt laughed harshly, his words precise in his growing, fear-driven anger, "Have you any idea how ridiculous you sound?"

"Is that why you won't let us help Blaine, Kurt? Because he's the only one who understands how you feel, and you're scared to let him go?"

The woman's cool words jarred in Blaine's brain, pulling him from his exhausted state enough to open his eyes. Kurt's emotions were tumbling, and they were so out of their depth Blaine was starting to doubt that happy endings existed after all. Kurt had let him hope again, let him believe for once. But how could there be a happy ending out of this?

"That's not true." Kurt choked out.

"Isn't it? Blaine has just had an empathic episode, grade five, maybe even six if I was to guess. He needs to be taken to the hospital, he needs to be looked after. I know you've tried, Kurt, and I know you care for Blaine, but there's nothing more you can do to help. Why don't you let the professionals take over?"

Blaine could feel the spiralling doubt taking root in Kurt's terror as the woman's cajoling words seeped into them both. She was saying all the right things to make Kurt walk away, to make everything go back to how it was before. Back to the emptiness, the loneliness, the countdown until his brain gave up, until his subconscious decided that insanity and a drug-induced stupor were better than enduring one second more of this hell…

"You don't understand…" Kurt pleaded desperately, but his voice was wavering, and Blaine could feel his resolve starting to fracture into a thousand scattered instincts. Not because of any diminishing love or loyalty, but because they were just teenagers, surrounded by adults, stuck with no way out.

Blaine was struck by a startling new appreciation for Romeo and Juliet, and every other doomed couple that came before and after them. For a culture so obsessed with the idea of a soul mate, of that one person who compliments and balances you and makes you whole… this world was so determinedly blind when it came to Kurt and Blaine. But then, he supposed, that's where the tragedy comes in.

Blaine had long ago given up being angry about his lot in life. When you're someone who spends every waking and sleeping moment fending off the world's emotions, both positive and negative, you quickly find that holding onto negative emotion of your own just makes things worse. And then when Kurt had entered his life with a graze of fingertips and a warm hug, Blaine had let Kurt be angry for the both of them.

But now, here they were in the middle of a dark Lima street, surrounded by the cops, and agents and random people just judging them and Blaine hated it. He hated it because he could feel how desperately Kurt was trying to hide how absolutely petrified he was. Here was Kurt, his beautiful, incredible, courageous boyfriend, standing up against everyone else for Blaine; for the right to stay in Blaine's life against all reasonable argument. And here was Blaine, the cause of all this grief.

Blaine was exhausted. He felt empty and broken, so drained that he could see his fingertips tremor uncontrollably against Kurt's chest.

But he was not going to just sit here in the middle of the sidewalk and let them take Kurt away. They had fought too hard and given each other too much. They were in this for the long haul, for all the sleepy mornings and snippy arguments, for every possible minute of future they could hold onto together. For college, however the hell they were going to get there, for Kurt's dreams, and for Blaine's. For that one massive argument that nearly breaks them, and for that perfect resolution that binds them in their personal forever. Blaine wanted that, and he knew now that Kurt wanted it all as well.

Blaine purposely projected a soft reassurance to Kurt to stop him from panicking, and then he raised his head, fixing Agent Miller with a hard glare. "You know, for all this posturing that what you're doing is 'for my own good' not once have any of you stopped to ask me if this is what I want. Or maybe even ask if I feel okay?" Blaine tightened his grip on Kurt's shirt as the other boy dropped his hands to clasp over Blaine's, lending him strength as he pushed through, determined to keep his voice steady and clear even when he felt anything but. "Did it cross your minds, for even one second, that my problem is you?"

There was a fluttering of disbelief running through the onlookers, from police to nosy neighbours. Perhaps the most satisfying was the tangle of utter incredulity that was Agent Miller as she stared at Blaine in plain shock.

"I thought you said that episode was a grade five? That kid should be catatonic!" Miller's partner hissed to her, but his voice carried in the night time air.

"Sorry to disappoint you," Blaine snapped roughly, his nerves jagged as the man's presumption. Kurt hushed him without words, his presence a soothing balm against Blaine's raw edges.

The two agents exchanged a look, shooting concerned glances back at the muttering onlookers, a silent discussion seeming to pass between them. The moment stretched, until finally it broke. "Alright, get these people back." The male agent directed the fidgeting Lima police, before turning back to Kurt and Blaine. Unlike his partner, he let his gaze alternate, giving both boys equal attention, "What do you boys think about going somewhere a little quieter?"

Kurt's mistrust and doubt was clear in every muscle of his posture, but Blaine could feel a cool collectiveness settle between the two federal agents, their sense training kicking in. "We were going home," he said softly.

Agent Miller nodded, "While you both really should be checked over, I think we're all agreed a hospital might actually do more harm than good right now. My partner Ryan over there is going to see if we can't get your sense doctor to come down to us before we take any drastic action, okay?" She had crept tentatively closer to the pair. Not too close, but enough that her voice could be lowered, affording them a slight semblance of privacy, "How does that sound?"

The background echoed with soft mental grumbles, suspicion mixed with thwarted gossip-mongering as the police began to disperse the gathered crowd, but with a brief effort of focus on Kurt, Blaine was able to let it all fall away. He didn't need to glance at Kurt to know what his face looked like at the thought of his dad. And he could hear the honest truth of the offer behind the agent's words. He nodded, "Okay."

0000

In the end, they had driven past Kurt's house and onwards to Blaine's. The agents were clearly still slightly dubious about Blaine's stability, even if they were willing to give the pair the benefit of the doubt. A uniformed policeman was being sent round to Kurt's to drive his dad over to the Anderson house.

As they pulled up to the house, Kurt gave Blaine's hand a brief squeeze. Warm light shone from his parent's bedroom window, and beckoned from behind the glass panel of the front door. His dad's car was missing from the drive, and a small part of Blaine was glad – this would be a whole lot more manageable if he didn't have to deal with both his parents at once.

Taking a deep breath, Blaine let go of Kurt's hand as Agent Miller opened the side door to let him out. Why was he so nervous?

A hollow wooden thud snapped Blaine's head around to look back at his house. The door slammed in an angry action of cathartic finality that was accompanied by splashes of red and black, solid blotches of colour painted on Blaine's mind's eye.

"Coop?"

What was Cooper doing here? He should be in New York! A swathe of guilt rose up within him, threatening to smother Blaine completely; how much more could he ruin his family's lives?

The silhouette of Blaine's brother jerked to a halt mid-step, backlit on the dark front lawn by the lights of the house.

Every muscle in Blaine's body seized. He couldn't move.

He remembered how not that long ago, Cooper had come to stay with them, just before Blaine joined McKinley. Just before Kurt, right before everything changed both for better and worse. He could remember tackling his big brother in a hug, a running leap that nearly took them both down because Blaine could hug Coop because Coop was family. Same as Mom, same as Dad, same as Molly.

He had lived for those hugs, those touches and the love that shone in them.

Life had been simpler before McKinley, but it had also been getting emptier. As moments passed and Blaine had grown older, the touches and hugs began to nudge just on the edge of not enough, of a craving for something more. There had been an empty hole in his heart, and it had been growing wider, darker; a yawning chasm that beckoned, one that Blaine had always expected to fall into one day, and never climb out.

But then Kurt happened. Kurt had pulled Blaine away from the edge of the dark and helped him start the long task of lighting it up again until Blaine was solid and whole once more.

Life might be harder now, more complex and winding, full of maelstroms and tempests, but Blaine couldn't help be certain that it was better for it. That he was better for it.

Kurt understood that. Hell, Blaine was pretty sure that Puck understood it, and the New Directions, for all they risked to help reunite Kurt with Blaine again.

But would his family? Would his dad understand why Blaine had hidden in McKinley when he ran away from Dalton, rather than come back home? Would Cooper forgive him for breaking his promise to always call, for not explaining how he really felt rather than running away to Dalton in the first place? And, god, would his mom even believe him when he tried to tell her what Kurt really means to him, how Kurt is his future and his life?

"Blaine?" Cooper's choked question cut into Blaine's skin, and he still couldn't move.

He needn't have tried. Cooper was across the lawn in under three seconds, completely ignoring the attempt at professional protest made by Agent Miller asking for minimal touch just in case Blaine wasn't stable enough for it. He had already swept Blaine up into his arms in a crushing hug, his voice cracking as he mumbled in Blaine's ear, "I am going to kill you, squirt."

Tension fell away from Blaine at his brother's words, for a moment allowing himself to get carried away in the swirl of familiar emotions as they rose up within Cooper. Kurt was keeping a slight distance to give the brothers space, but he was close enough to offer comfort if needed and besides, this was Cooper. Blaine knew his emotions as well as he knew his own name. "I'm sorry, Coop."

"Still gonna kill you."

Blaine pressed his face into his brother's neck, eyes pricking slightly as he couldn't help but laugh. "Fair enough."

Kurt snorted at the exchange, warm amusement dancing.

Cooper raised his head from Blaine's shoulder to regard Kurt archly. "I don't know what you think is so funny," he said, "You're definitely on my hug-then-kill list too."

Blaine hadn't thought the moment could get better, but the sheer shock on Kurt's face when Cooper grabbed him into their hug was pretty priceless.

TBC

Chapter Text

The door clicked behind them with a sense of finality, the four walls of Blaine’s home closing around them, keeping them safe from the rest of the world. Cooper hovered to the side, attempting to get hold of their dad on the phone. Part of Blaine just stood dazed, staring at the mundane pictures and trinkets in the entrance hall that seemed both familiar and alien at the same time. Kurt squeezed his hand, offering silent solace from the overwhelming situation.

“Blaine?” Agent Miller prompted softly, reminding them of her presence. “Do you need to sit down?”

Blaine shook his head, oddly wrong-footed, “No, no I’m good… I just…” He turned to Kurt, who was frowning worriedly at him.

“Blaine?”

An explosion of gold and silver sparks set fire to the angry spill of red and black, and Blaine found himself swaying visibly with the cacophonic clash of sudden emotions emulating from Cooper and – “Mom!”

Kurt’s hand spasmed in Blaine’s, his grip tightening as an eddy of insecurity from Kurt pulled at the edge of Blaine’s senses.

“Blaine… oh my god… oh god…” His mom’s words tripped and cracked as she slowly came down the stairs, disbelief colouring her every movement as her eyes drank in the scene in her home’s entryway.

Her legs gave out just before she reached the bottom, and she sat heavily on the forth step, her hands covering her mouth as she tried to reign in her reaction.

“Hey Mom…” Blaine carefully squeezed Kurt’s hand, before letting go. The emotions of his mother were scattered, conflicting explosions made all the more wayward by her attempts to tamp down on them for his sake.

A caught sob wrenched from his mom’s throat, and Blaine dropped one knee to the first stair, bringing them eye level. She bit her lip, tentatively reaching out to brush her thumb against his cheek, leaving a wake of warmth. Blaine caught her hand and she returned the action with a disbelieving, watery smile. She shook her head, “This is silly – I don’t even know what to say.”

Blaine grinned, trying to throw some humour against his mother’s strange melancholy, “Welcome home?”

A huffed laugh in reply, running in contrast to the undercurrent of guilty sparks that flickered from the touch, “Yes, that, but I think I owe you and Kurt a lot of apologies beforehand…”

Blaine frowned, unsure. Kurt? Why would his mom need to apologise to Kurt?

“No, you don’t Mrs Anderson.” Kurt’s voice was soft at his elbow, a light touch to sooth the confusion. There was an undercurrent there, something that Blaine would draw out of Kurt later, when there weren’t agents standing in his home, and reporters outside; when the night’s events weren’t fraught with uncertainty and fate unsure. But for now, Kurt’s voice was confident, his gaze unwavering as he exchanged silent words with Blaine’s mom in a single glance.

“What…”            

“Perhaps we should move somewhere more comfortable for the boys, Mrs Anderson?”

The interruption of Agent Miller seemed to shake his mom, who was suddenly all business. “Of course, please.”

They had only made it two steps into the living room when the front door burst open, and both their dads ran in heralded by a storm of purpose and desperate hope. Burt moved with no hesitation, sweeping Kurt into a crushing hug. In contrast, Blaine’s dad held back slightly, a lifetime’s worth of habits forcing him to tread with care when it came to Blaine.

So Blaine took the last two steps for him, sinking into his dad’s arms and pressing his face into his chest, “I’m sorry we worried you.”

His father’s chest shook with a disbelieving laugh, “When the agent came to Burt’s house to tell him you’d been found I couldn’t believe it. We were just about to head out on another drive of the town, and then…” He trailed off, his voice choking, and Blaine felt a tug of guilt at his heart. He couldn’t bear that he had caused his family so much pain. He must have been projecting slightly, because then his dad pulled back slightly, catching his chin so he was looking directly at him. “Hey, none of that. We’re just glad you’re home and safe, okay Blaine? Both of you.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” It was the agent again, “But we really can’t afford to risk this much further. Not until we’ve had a proper medical assessment. Blaine, please…”

Blaine reluctantly pulled out of his dad’s arms, grimacing. They had explained the situation to both boys in the car. As of this moment, everything was uncharted. Blaine and Kurt were breaking every rule in the book, and while the representatives from the Sense Protection and Incident unit were willing to bend slightly after witnessing first hand just how much Kurt apparently helped Blaine, their first priority was Blaine’s wellbeing, and what they said were the rules.

“What’s going on?” Blaine’s dad asked, an edge to his voice.

Agent Miller’s shoulders straightened, and her calm air of professionalism didn’t waiver at Blaine’s father’s sharp words, “When we arrived on the scene, after being informed by the Lima Police Department of a potential sighting of the boys, the situation had already…deteriorated.”

Kurt snorted, his arms folded, “Is that what you want to call it? Those two assholes nearly killed Blaine!”

“Kurt, it’s okay.” Blaine soothed softly. He could feel the delayed reaction of fear and horror rolling off Kurt in waves.

“You heard her earlier!” Kurt gestured angrily at Agent Miller, “They pushed you into an empathic episode that could have killed you!”

What?” Cooper hissed. Blaine felt his family’s shock of emotions hit him in a tempest of sparked lightning and burning embers.

In another time, another place, such a storm would have pulled him apart. Objectively, he knew he should be just as scared, shocked and confused as his family were, but that was before. Barely an hour ago, he had felt himself shatter in the middle of a dark Lima street, with the full knowledge that no strength of will or wishing hope could put him back together again.

All his life, Blaine had been made very aware of the facts of his ‘condition’.

He knew many children of his ES level died in their late teens, the sensory stress too great for them to maintain any semblance of self. No one of his level had survived past the age of twenty four, and she had lived out the last three years of her life doped up to her eyeballs in an isolation ward.

Blaine had known that he would never last at McKinley for more than two weeks before breaking, but by then, he had just been too tired not to try for normalcy.

Kurt turned those two weeks into stolen months of happiness and life.

He had understood that after his first triggered episode, he would never be able touch someone who wasn’t his mom, dad, or brother again.

Kurt’s fingertips amongst a scatter of papers, as light a brush against Blaine’s skin as the ripple of wry curiosity gently lapping at the shores of Blaine’s senses.

He had decided he would never trust a friend enough again to tell them his ES level.

“I want to tell you the truth.” Somehow, against all logic, Blaine had placed his faith in Kurt. And Kurt hadn’t betrayed that trust.

He had accepted he would never kiss a boy.

Midnight oceans and golden sprays of stars, a perfect asymmetry dancing against twinned senses, beginning and ending with each other in a starscape of endless waves.

And that had been okay, in its own way. Accept and move on. Live life with every hour, every day, until you can’t anymore.

In those shattering moments of lucidity on that dark Lima street, before his senses completely drowned him, Blaine had known with soul deep gratefulness just how much Kurt had helped him steal away those experiences, connections, and time, because to Blaine, they had always been just that. Blaine’s time with Kurt had been borrowed, stolen, it had been snatches of someone else’s life, completely impermanent and doomed to end. Blaine had known that as fact, deep down in his soul, even though he had honestly believed in Kurt with all his heart.

Instinctively, Blaine reached out and took Kurt’s hand. The battering storm of emotions raged against him, crashing waves rising up in tempestuous chaos. But beneath the waves, the ocean held calm, it held silence, and peace, all encompassed in the warmth of Kurt’s hand.

Blaine didn’t believe in Kurt anymore. Kurt wasn’t some fairytale, some last gift before his time ran out.

Kurt was fact; impossible fact, but fact nonetheless. He was solid, sure, and clear.

Blaine felt the tension in Kurt release, soothed away by Blaine’s certainty.

“Blaine, please.” Agent Miller sighed, looking pointedly at their clasped hands.

Blaine felt Kurt’s fingers loosen, ever so slightly.

No. Enough.

He tightened his grip on Kurt’s hand, the storm of his family’s confusion swelling as he stared down the woman, eyes clear and jaw set. Kurt squeezed back, his exhausted fear washed away by Blaine’s touch as much as his own touch shored up Blaine.

“You need to stop.” Blaine spoke his words carefully, measured. “We’re not letting go of each other again. We did things your way, we tried following the rules, listening to what you say is right, what’s good for me. We’re not going to do that anymore.”

Pride swelled in Kurt, weaving gently in Blaine’s chest, gaining courage. He stepped closer to Blaine, his other hand coming across to close over their clasped hands, squeezing. “I’m sick of hearing that I’m no good for Blaine. Since I’ve known him, I’ve heard it from my friends, from strangers, from people who love us,” Kurt’s eyes flicked to Blaine’s mom, and another piece of the puzzle slipped into place for Blaine, however much he didn’t want to believe it. “I refuse to listen to you anymore. We’re good for each other, and I don’t care if there isn’t a medical instrument or sense doctor on the planet who can prove it scientifically, because I’m still not letting go of Blaine’s hand.”

Agent Miller sighed, almost pityingly, “It’s not as simple as that, boys.”

“Why?” Cooper asked bluntly, a wash of warm sunrise blooming in a brushstroke so unfamiliar to Blaine’s senses that it took him a moment to recognise it as hope. “The last time I saw my baby brother, I could barely be in the same room as him without being terrified that my presence was making him worse. In the half hour I spent with him, we probably had the same conversation about twenty times. I said goodbye, because I knew that next time, we wouldn’t even have that. And now… Blaine is back, not just the shadow he was in Dalton. And Kurt is the reason for that. So tell me how it isn’t just that simple?”

Blaine swallowed, his throat tight, unused to hearing his older brother speaking so plainly and passionately when it wasn’t from a script, but with his own words.

“Mr Hummel broke into a sense refuge, and removed a high risk patient.” Agent Miller explained calmly. “I will not dispute that Kurt appears to have a positive effect on Blaine, but what he did was incredibly dangerous, and could have easily ended very differently. Until we understand Blaine’s condition on a medical level, I’m afraid protocol has to be followed.”

Kurt’s shoulder pressed against Blaine’s, “Which is what, exactly?”

“Blaine will need to be checked out by a sense doctor – alone. Once their assessment is complete, we can go from there. Dalton may also decide to press charges, although in situations such as these, sense refuges usually try to take the lead from the parents. And then of course there is the matter of the press. You two have made quite the impression.”

“They didn’t ask to.” Mr Hummel folded his arms, an immovable mountain of steadfast support.

“No, they didn’t,” Agent Miller agreed quietly. At that moment, her partner came in from the hall, phone in hand, and nodded. Blaine’s stomach lurched with uncertainty.

Blaine’s dad rubbed his hand over his face tiredly, “You want the boys to go now, don’t you?”

Miller’s partner, Agent Ryan, nodded, “I’ve spoken with our superiors, and Blaine’s sense doctor, Fiona Monroe at Columbus Sense Clinic. She agreed that while the best course at the time was to first bring them here, but she now wants to see both boys immediately. She said we need to ensure minimal sensory disruption for Blaine.”

“No drugs, please,” Blaine immediately begged. He hated how much his voice shook, how the jerk of fear jumped from Kurt to him and then back again. He had only just got his mind back, he couldn’t bear losing himself again.

Agent Ryan smiled wonkily, and for the first time Blaine felt a spark of honest warmth, not carefully controlled blankness from the agent. “Actually, she recommended you both travel together, with your brother if possible. Apparently he was good for you following your first major episode, and she wants to maintain that stability for the drive.”

Misplaced jealousy reared briefly from Blaine’s parents, a lingering pain from their inability to help Blaine the first time around, but was nearly as swiftly tamped down, the old hurt quashed as Blaine’s mom murmured, “Go with the boys and the agents, Cooper. We’ll drive behind with Burt.”

Just a few tests. They’d known this would happen, before they had left their haven at McKinley. Still, it didn’t stop the creeping tendrils of doubt and fear winding their way around Blaine’s throat. Kurt took a deep breath, and they exchanged a look.

They hadn’t been separated yet. They could still prove it. Right?

TBC

Chapter Text

Blaine had always enjoyed driving at night. Not that he had ever driven himself, of course, but the peace of it had always been something that had soothed him. Watching the dark silhouettes of trees and blankets of shadowed fields gently shroud the car in silence, it had always settled his senses in a way that a quiet house never could. It made him feel small, part of something so much bigger, his senses stretching out into the dark with only his companions in the car to remind him that he wasn't the only person on the planet.

When they were kids, back when Blaine had only been properly diagnosed for a couple of years, before Amy, before Molly, before his family really knew what to do with a sense-overloaded boy, he had been prone to night terrors. Blaine remembered that time too keenly; the gasping, suffocating fear as his confused senses pressed down on him, inwards, clawing at his subconscious until something had to give out into a scream. At the time, Cooper had been just as much a mess as his brother, an uncontrolled, growing teen with barely settled senses, living with a constantly sparking, high ES little kid.

Blaine hadn't understood until he was older, just how much of a struggle living with him in the early years must have been for his brother. On top of spending each day at school submerged in a melting pot of teenage emotional chaos and drama, Cooper had also had to come home to Blaine, and while his brother might not be anywhere near Blaine on the scale, he was at the higher end of what was considered 'normal'.

So, in an effort to bring some level of stability to the Anderson household, Blaine's mom had started taking him for drives in the evenings when she sensed a night terror might be most likely. Both to try and avert Blaine's misery, but also to help give Cooper's senses some relief.

Blaine had only been about seven at the time, and his mom had always known when things were getting to be too much, somehow, back when he was too confused to express what was wrong. While his father had always been good at calming him, having a tighter control on projected emotions, his mom's more open nature had always meant that she had been very receptive to Blaine's moods and spinning senses.

That had all shattered, after his first empathic episode. His raw senses had turned inwards in a desperate attempt to protect what sense of self he had left. And his mom, she had always been terrified of pushing herself too close, in case whatever she did made Blaine slip further downhill. Things had never been the same, and Blaine would always regret that.

But now, driving in the quiet darkness, with Kurt on one side and Cooper on the other, Blaine could close his eyes and submerge himself in the memories of those drives, just him and his mom. If he stretched his senses out further, he could even feel his parents and Burt not far behind them in another car, their emotions shrouded by distance.

And so for this moment, Blaine let himself drift. Back to when he had been little, lying in bed with his head pounding and senses pressing, suffocating with the weight of too much. His mom would quietly slip into his room, gently taking his hands in hers and sit him up. She would bundle him in a blanket, and smile his favourite smile, her warmth and love cocooning him in a wrap of familiar comfort without the need for words. She would carry him down the stairs, and for a moment his dad and brother would be tickling at the edges of his senses.

And then she would settle him in the back seat, pop in her favourite mix tape, and just drive. Their old house had sat neatly in the suburbs, and it had never taken more than five minutes for them to get out into the quiet and the dark. And finally, Blaine had been able to relax his senses, with only his mom's quiet lulling calm and melodious soft singing to wash over him.

Blaine blinked, his eyes skimming over dim shapes and moon-cast highlights. He hadn't thought of those drives for years…

He missed the simplicity.

"Nearly there…" Blaine murmured, half to himself, unable to keep the note of anxiety from his voice. This route was one he knew well, and the Columbus Sense Clinic was barely on the outskirts on the city.

An undercurrent of panicked nerves rippled from Kurt, and Blaine grasped at the other boy's hand. Kurt smiled confidentially back, but the raw edge was still there. At Blaine's light, questioning frown, Kurt's façade cracked, and he shrugged tiredly. "I haven't been to one of these places since my mom…" Kurt's words trailed, an old sadness hanging off his unfinished sentence.

Blaine purposely tried to forget the ever-vigilant agents in the front of the car, shifting closer to Kurt's warmth, feeling the other boy sag against him. He didn't say anything; he simply opened himself up to Kurt, lending what Blaine hoped was strength and comfort.

"I was only allowed in to see her once, after they hospitalised her," Kurt said finally, his voice barely a hum above the sound of the engine. "Mom tried to persuade them not to keep us apart, and Dad fought tooth and nail, but the doctors refused. Hospital policy. She… she was really weak, near the end. But her sense control was still really good, and she was always…" Kurt swallowed thickly, but pressed on, "She was always so great with me. But a doctor found me in her room, lying next to her in bed, and flipped out. Dad had only just gone out to get coffee while Mom was asleep, and I'd only wanted to hug her... They'd known she had a son, but not how low I was…"

"Kurt…" Blaine whispered, dread creeping up his spine. He could feel the professional curiosity of the agents, listening but pretending not to, while Cooper's abject horror bloomed violet and indigo. Kurt stared resolutely forward, his eyes trained on the company issue seat covering in front of him.

"The doctor removed me from the room, and after that I was only allowed to talk to her through lead-lined glass and a microphone, like I had some sort of contagious disease that was making her sick. That was the last time I ever touched my mom, and she wasn't even awake to remember it." Kurt's voice hardened, and for a moment Blaine was caught on a wave of cold anger and determination. "I refuse to go through something like that again, to look into the eyes of someone I love through glass so thick I can't even feel the warmth of their hand pressed opposite mine."

Kurt's eyes fixed pointedly on the rear view mirror, where his glare connected with Agent Miller's, and Blaine understood why Kurt had forced himself to recount that story. "We're not out to cause you unnecessary pain, Kurt," said Agent Ryan, twisting around in his seat to look at them properly, "We're on your side."

"And if the doctors demand Kurt and Blaine's immediate separation?" Cooper asked bluntly, his voice accusing.

Agent Ryan smiled calmly, a generic smile of one used to dealing with stressed family members. "Kurt and Blaine should have been separated when we found the boys, but here they are."

Cooper's jaw clenched, mistrust welling in him as he pointed out, "You didn't answer my question."

Neither agent replied. They had already answered Cooper's question by omission.

And then they were pulling in, a night-lit building looming before them. It seemed like an age since Blaine had last been here for his check up, and yet oddly far too recently since he had been admitted following his first episode, over three years ago. He grasped Kurt's hand tightly as they got out of the car, anchoring himself.

There was a pause as they stood there, and for a moment Blaine's eyes skimmed to the darkened windows of the day clinic, dread settling in the pit of his stomach. It was gone 10pm already, which meant only the emergency intake would be open.

"I'm not sick," Blaine said reflexively. He wasn't sure if he could keep it together, even with Kurt, if they led him back to the stark hospital corridors where he had spent so much time either silent or screaming, lost in his own senses.

"No one said you were, Blaine," his dad said, coming up and lightly touched his arm, smiling encouragingly, Blaine's mom at his elbow, her eyes fixed on the building. "Burt's just parking the car. Shall we?"

Agent Miller nodded, mirroring his dad's smile without the projected emotional support, "Doctor Monroe is waiting for us in the test centre."

Blaine forced himself to relax slightly. Okay. The test centre. He could do that. Kurt squeezed his hand, and Blaine felt stronger.

They walked in a group, and Blaine tried to not feel like he was being marched to his execution. The agents took the lead, opening the door for Blaine and Kurt into an empty reception area that had the look of the aftermath of a rainbow getting into a fight with a unicorn.

"Talk about an assault on the senses…" Kurt muttered dryly. Cooper snorted.

"I guess they didn't think of runaway teenage boys when they decorated."

Blaine turned in the direction of the wry comment, suddenly feeling guilty all over again. Dr Monroe walked out from the back office, arms folded, blonde hair pulled up in a messy bun, eyes piercing as she assessed Blaine with practiced ease. Her gaze slipped to Kurt, who straightened imperceptibly, before continuing its sweep to rest on the agents. Blaine couldn't feel anything more than clear professionalism and calm from her, her emotions held in check much tighter than normal.

"You must be Dr Monroe." The agent held out his hand to shake, and Blaine felt a swoop of uncertainty in his stomach as the adults interacted, "Agent Ryan, and this is my partner, Agent Miller. I believe we spoke on the phone."

The door to the clinic clicked shut as Burt joined them, sealing them in. This was it. This was the tipping point. Blaine had come full circle, standing in a too-cheery test centre as his biology was identified and discussed over his head. Watching as the path of his life was agreed and written without his consent, based on the word of professionals, indelibly inked fact.

Suddenly he was that confused five year old again, not understanding why his mom was so angry about him playing with a stray cat, not grasping why such a natural, innocent moment had turned his life into a melting pot of anxiety, tests and abnormality.

"You doing okay?" Kurt murmured, his words barely a breath above silence, hidden under the adults' conversation, but made all the louder by the wash of love and hush of calm that lapped against Blaine's senses.

Blaine leaned into Kurt, letting go of his hand to loop an arm around his boyfriend's waist, a soft, sad smile catching his lips as he felt Kurt's arm naturally curl around him in turn. "I love you."

The words tumbled from his lips, and the midnight waves of Kurt rolled back from Blaine for a moment, leaving him on an island of solace. Kurt shook his head, pressing his forehead to Blaine's temple as he whispered fiercely, "I will always love you, and I am never saying goodbye to you. So you'd better not be saying goodbye to me." With those words Blaine was swept into the eye of Kurt's storm, and for the second time that night the world fell away in a perfect silence awash with nothing but them.

"Boys." Agent Miller's sharp rebuke cut into the moment.

Blaine opened his eyes. He hadn't even realised he had closed them. The world came trickling back, yellow blooming humour from Cooper, a damp fizzling guilt from his mom, still disbelief from his dad, and a roaring pride from Burt. The agents' emotions were mostly shrouded, but their exasperation was plain as they eyed the two of them.

Dr Monroe… she was staring at Blaine as if she had never seen him before, her wide eyes flicking between him and Kurt.

"I apologise, Doctor," Agent Ryan said. "As we discussed over the phone, the boys have been impossible to separate without risking further psychological damage to Blaine. It was an unorthodox decision but…"

"But the right one." Dr Monroe finished for him, and Blaine blinked as he realised she was projecting controlled annoyance and authority at the agent. "Now, this is what is going to happen. Final say over Blaine's ES care was signed over to the state upon his enrolment to Dalton. As such, as Blaine's registered doctor I will be taking him into the examination alone. Emily, John, Cooper - you are welcome to wait here, although this may take a while." A maelstrom of emotions from Blaine's family crashed and whistled, as restrained as they could manage as his mom, dad and brother struggled to accept the decree without protest.

It took a moment, but then his mom smiled at him, wavering but determined, "It'll be okay sweetheart, we'll be right outside."

"Wait-" began Agent Miller, but the doctor cut across her.

"Kurt, I would very much like you to join us, however Mr Hummel I do require your consent to examine your son without your presence. For Blaine's wellbeing, I can only have Kurt join us, not you as well."

Burt paused, and Blaine held his breath. But then Mr Hummel looked at Kurt and nodded, "Kurt's old enough to make his own judgements. If he wants to stick with Blaine, I ain't gonna stop him."

"Thanks Dad." Kurt smiled, gratefulness lacing his voice.

"Is that wise?" Agent Ryan asked, glancing at his partner uncertainly.

For a moment, Blaine was unsure who was going to win, such was the pull and push of silent stubbornness between his doctor and the agents.

A creeping tingle of relenting trust, and then Agent Miller sighed, "Well it's not like anything else on this case has been by the book. We'll wait out here. We've got a lot more calls to make anyway."

Dr Monroe nodded, "It's probably going to be a long night, so please make yourselves comfortable. I'll be back in around two hours with an update. Blaine, Kurt, please follow me."

A jerk of Kurt's apprehension caught at the base of Blaine's stomach, and he squeezed Kurt's waist comfortingly.

As one, both boys followed the doctor deeper into the clinic, the lead lined walls muffling their families as they were led into an exam room.

Blaine grimaced, his stomach knotting. He hadn't been in a room like this since he had first been tested.

It seemed smaller. The walls were a welcoming pale blue, warm and cool at the same time. There were no chairs, but the centre of the floor was covered in a large padded dark blue mat. Around the room were dotted drawers, boxes and crates full of a wide variety of sense-tests and toys. This was the kind of room where the psychological portion of sense level testing happened, separate from the physical examination.

"Well Blaine? Aren't you going to introduce me to your boyfriend?" Dr Monroe shucked off her white coat, hanging it on a hook as she toed off her shoes, walking to the middle of the room and kneeling down, gesturing for the two boys to join her on the mat.

Kurt was an adorable whirlpool of perplexed incredulity at his side, and it occurred to Blaine in that moment that someone as low on the scale as Kurt had probably never gone through the same sort of tests that Blaine had as a child.

Taking the lead, Blaine was relieved to finally kick off the poorly fitting shoes he had taken from the McKinley costume bin, and guided Kurt to sit on the mat opposite the woman.

"Kurt, this is my sense doctor, Dr Monroe. She's been my doctor since I was first diagnosed. Dr Monroe, this is Kurt. A lot's happened since I first mentioned him to you…" Blaine trailed off, smiling despite the situation.

"It's a pleasure to finally meet you Kurt." Dr Monroe held out her hand to Kurt, and for a moment Blaine didn't think Kurt was going to accept the gesture.

Defensiveness curled, and Kurt's eyes were full of cold fire as he took the doctor's hand to shake. "I'm 0.5 on the scale. In case you were wondering."

His words were a challenge, but there was an undercurrent of pride there that made Blaine's heart swell.

Dr Monroe quirked an amused, warm smile at Kurt's statement as she replied, "The question had crossed my mind, yes. I'm 3.1, if you're interested. And we all know Blaine is 4.8. Now those pointless measures are all out in the open, shall we begin?"

For a moment, Kurt was floored. Even Blaine was a little taken aback. His doctor had always had a forthright way of talking to Blaine, but she had never spoken so openly before.

And then Kurt nodded, as if the doctor had passed a test of his own.

"Where do you want to start?"

TBC

Chapter Text

“Morning Tom,” Fiona yawned, leaning against the reception desk, picking up her stack of files for the day. “You got anything interesting for me?”

The duty nurse looked up from his computer, and there was something in the way she felt him measuring his words before he answered her. There was a weight there. She set down her coffee and looked up. Tom reached over to her pile of folders and selected one with a green tab, placing it on top. “You’ve got a handover from Dr Gregory, tested last week.”

Fiona blinked. “Okay,” she drew out the word, not sure she was quite getting it. She was relatively new to work at the Columbus Sense Clinic, only recently moved from Chicago to take up a permanent position, following years of gruelling but rewarding sense training. “Why is Gregory passing the case to me? I’m on the initial test run, if the kid’s been tested already…”

“He’s over 4 on the scale,” Tom said soberly. “And Gregory’s six years from retirement.”

Understanding dawned, and Fiona glanced down at the neat little file, a name printed carefully on the front.

BLAINE DEVON ANDERSON.

Blaine. The name of the child she would solely be responsible for, until her services were no longer required. A polite way of saying until the child died.

National law required any child diagnosed over 4 on the Hawkins Scale to be assigned a sense doctor for the course of their lives. And Blaine would be her first child in that range.

She took a steadying breath, and opened the file to read one little number.

Her stomach plummeted.

00000

Anger crashed, rebounding, fuming and hurt. Fiona kept her hands still in her lap as she sat in the middle of the floor, letting herself bend but not break against the howl of chaos.

“I hate you! I hate you I hate you I hate you!” The little whirlwind of a seven year old overturned a crate of coloured bricks, a horrible cauldron of confusion-fear-anger spilling over into the room. Fiona glanced over at Emily Anderson, who was desperately struggling to remain impassive and contained as her son raged on.

It had been the older brother who had triggered Blaine this time. The storm had been building for weeks, and Fiona had warned the parents to expect an incident. And by a small mercy, the tipping point had occurred in their weekly session.

Cooper was a sweet kid, but he was also a teenager, and naturally prone to misplaced and out of proportion bursts of self-centeredness. Unfortunately in this case, his projected emotions regarding his baby brother had actually mirrored Blaine’s.

Always getting Mom and Dad’s attention, they never even look at me anymore, why is Blaine so special?

Mom and Dad will never love me like they do Cooper, Cooper’s so normal, Cooper’s not a freak, Cooper’s the son they wanted.

And now they were dealing with the fallout as it sent the little boy into a confused spiral where he couldn’t tell where his surliness ended and his brother’s began.

Finally deciding she had let Blaine continue for long enough, Fiona asked, “Where is the hate, Blaine? Is it outside or inside?”

The question confused Blaine enough to make him pause, angrily swiping over-spilling tears from his cheeks as he glared at his doctor. He sniffled, “Everywhere.”

Fiona tentatively reached her senses out to Blaine. By now, she was intimately familiar with how Blaine’s emotional print should feel. And right now?

Scared, out of control, full of something not quite right.

She projected a tendril of warm calm and safety, designed to stabilise. “What did we say to do, when you weren’t sure whether something was inside or outside?”

Blaine scowled, the effect of his sullenness ruined slightly by a hiccup as he started to run out of steam. “Draw a picture in my head.”

“And?” Fiona prompted.

She felt Blaine faltering, coming down from the waves of scared anger. He bit his lip and shook his head, a swamp of confused guilt starting to squirm as he wrapped his arms around himself.

Fiona nodded to Emily to break her vigil, watching in buried relief as the harried mother crossed the room in an instant, kneeling in front of Blaine as the little boy reached up and wrapped his arms around her neck, saying quietly, “I’m sorry Mommy, I don’t hate you, not really.”

Emily enfolded Blaine in her arms, glancing at Fiona over Blaine’s head, her relief plain as she replied, “I know you don’t baby, I know. It’ll be okay.”

“You did really well today Blaine,” Fiona praised, her voice exuding confidence.

She made it to the break room before she fell apart. Nothing in her training had prepared herself for how hard this was going to be.

00000

She had been finishing off some late night paperwork when Tom burst into her office, “Fi, you need to come, now!” Her normally controlled and jubilant friend was spilling urgency and worry, “Blaine Anderson just got brought into the emergency room with a grade four E-E!”

Fiona was on her feet and out the door in an instant, hot on Tom’s heels as he frantically swiped his keycard and dived through the doors that led into the staff corridor connecting the day clinic, test centre and ER within the Sense Clinic.

They burst through a second set of doors into chaos.

Entering the Sense ER on a good day required doctors to brace themselves against an onslaught of sloppy sense control and projection. A detached part of Fiona was glad there didn’t seem to be too many other patients that evening, because those few who were present were already being tipped over the edge by the sheer hurricane of poisonous emotion that was flowing out of Blaine right now, and there were only so many staff on call this time of night.

“The EMT tried to give him a sedative in the ambulance but he kicked him in the face…” Tom filled Fiona in, gesturing helplessly at the scene unfolding before them.

Cooper Anderson looked completely out of place in dress pants and a shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows as he fought to keep hold of Blaine, who was kicking, screaming, biting, clawing, bucking against the arms fastened steadfastly around his waist.

Blaine’s tux had seen better days – jacket, tie and shoes long gone, shirt torn – and Fiona remembered with a sinking heart how excited Blaine had been. Only last week he’d been telling her how he and Amy were patching things up and would be going to their school’s Sadie Hawkins dance together.

What the hell had happened?

Fiona ran forward, “Everyone back up, give them space. And someone get these other patients out of here unless you want a full scale sense incident on our hands! Move, now!”

Her colleagues scrambled to her commands, grateful for someone to take control of the situation.

“Tell me what to do!” Cooper yelled at her over Blaine’s struggled screams, voice cracking. Tears were tracking their way silently down the young man’s face, but his jaw was set and determined.

Fiona took a step forward, only to have Blaine kick out, pressing his back into Cooper’s chest, his head thudding against Cooper’s shoulder as he recoiled. It was then Fiona realised that Blaine wasn’t struggling to get away from his brother, but rather was pressing himself as close as possible, struggling away from anyone else who came near. Cooper was just trying to keep Blaine contained.

That explained the bare arms. The older brother had done the only thing he could think of, offering skin to skin contact to try and anchor Blaine.

Fiona quickly changed tact. Here would have to do.

“Can you get him on the floor? Someone get me some gloves and 10mg of diazepam!”

Cooper gritted his teeth and pulled Blaine closer to him as he attempted to kneel, mostly just falling backwards as Blaine’s struggles unbalanced him. His grip dislodged for a moment and Blaine’s hands immediately went to his head, violently clawing at his scalp with bloody torn nails, until Cooper managed to wrench them away and pin Blaine’s arms again.

Cooper bent forward, desperately pressing his cheek to the top of Blaine’s head, “Come on Blaine, it’s okay, you’re safe, I’m here, it’s okay, it’ll be okay, I promise. Come back to us Blaine…”

“Hold him as still as you can, Cooper.” Fiona instructed, moving behind the brothers to avoid Blaine’s kicking, pulling on the heavy-duty gloves that would allow her to touch Blaine without causing an immediate reaction.

A sudden wave of terror flooded her senses for a second before she could get her walls up tight enough. Cooper choked brokenly, the full force of it drowning him. He still didn’t let go.

Fiona knelt quickly, reaching around Cooper to unemotionally tear the sleeve off Blaine’s shirt. A wretched scream shredded Blaine’s throat as he tried to pull away from her, but Cooper held firm, still repeating a mantra of useless placations and pleas.

Pull off the cap, jab the needle into muscle, press the plunger…

And finally Blaine began to quieten, his head lolling to the side after barely a minute, slumping bonelessly into Cooper’s body, screams finally dying to a horrible, echoing hush.

Cooper took a shuddering breath, and without Blaine’s projected storm, Fiona registered just how close to completely falling apart the young man was.

“Get a gurney out here. We’re going to need to keep him under until we know what we’re dealing with.” Fiona gestured at one of the ER resident doctors, “Harris, I want a full blood and Blaine booked in for an MRI. I need to know what’s going on in his brain. Dr Singh, can I trust you take point on this until I’ve got background from Mr Anderson? I’ll join you as soon as I can. Tom, can you call Blaine’s parents for me please? Let them know Cooper is here as well?”

A chorus of ‘right away doctor’, ‘of course Dr Monroe’ and ‘sure Fiona’ rang through the ER as Blaine was carefully lifted onto the gurney and wheeled away.

Gently, Fiona led Cooper to one of the exam rooms. Not only to afford him some privacy, but also because she was seriously considering calling a second gurney for this Anderson. He sat down heavily on the chair, silently accepting the paper cup of water Fiona offered him as she sat next to him.

One beat, two. Breathe in, breathe out.

The cup fell to the floor innocuously. And Cooper fell to pieces, sobs shaking him as he finally let his emotions spill out.

Fiona didn’t tell him it would be okay.

00000

Flicking through the chart, Fiona felt ill. She nearly hadn’t come, she could have emailed the document, but she knew she owed it to Blaine. Technically as Blaine’s registered sense doctor, she remained on the books as Dalton as a consultant, but his day to day care decisions were out of her hands.

How had it come to this?

Blaine had barely recognised her, his emotions sluggishly drifting in a sickly way so unlike the brightly sparking sense patterns she was used to feeling from him. The cocktail of drugs the doctors had him on was bordering on the extreme to say the least, but from what Dr Hargreaves had explained to her, they had been a necessary evil.

Sometimes, in her darker moments, Fiona wondered if she was too close to Blaine to be objective. Because as soon as she had seen Blaine in that room, she had wanted to yell, she had wanted to scream, she had wanted to pick Blaine up and take him out of there.

Everything her training taught her said that Blaine was getting the absolute best care. She knew the doctors and teachers at Dalton had made all the right calls, had done everything by the book…

So why did this feel so wrong?

“Blaine’s sense buddy, Wesley? What do you plan to do with him?” Fiona asked Dalton’s headmistress, Dr Miranda Hargreaves, leaning forwards to place the chart back on the desk between them.

Miranda sighed, “As yet to be determined. If Rosen had her way, Wesley would be out on his ear already, but really… the boy’s heart was in the right place. He was just incredibly misguided, and that cat was the final straw. Blaine has suffered for it, but that’s for Dalton to account for, not a young student like Mr Montgomery.”

Fiona hummed, non-committal. It started as a niggling thought, but quickly grew until she knew she couldn’t leave until she asked, “Would you mind if I spoke with him?”

There was a drift of bland surprise underneath the projection of too-quiet the headmistress maintained. “I have no objection,” she said. “You can use my office, I need to do the rounds anyway. I’ll send him over.”

The headmistress departed, and Fiona leaned her elbows on her knees, fingertips massaging her temples. Tomorrow would be the end of it all. Tomorrow, she would sign the paperwork, a messy scrawl, right next to the one belonging to Dr Hargreaves, and the pair from John and Emily Anderson.

Tomorrow, she would sign Blaine away to end of life care, and her responsibilities would be ended.

It wasn’t as if Blaine was her only kid over 4 on the scale anymore. She now had five in total of varying ages and intensities. She shouldn’t be this invested.

But Blaine was Blaine. Blaine was her first high-ES child. She had learnt with Blaine, she had put her heart into that family, had given them over a decade of dedication and love. And now it was broken, and she couldn’t help feel like all she had gotten out of it was a sucking sense of abject failure.

How many times had she told Emily to be aware of the risks, how many times had she reminded John that any time with Blaine was a gift, because they didn’t know how long they would have?

Turns out she hadn’t taken her own advice.

“Hello..?”

Fiona shook herself and turned to see a tall Asian boy standing in the doorway. He wasn’t wearing the typical uniform of a Dalton sense buddy, a silent marker of his suspension. Considering he couldn’t be older than eighteen, Fiona was impressed at the boy’s sense control. He was a little wary, but very self-contained.

“Hello, you must be Wesley. I’m Dr Monroe, please…” She gestured to the empty seat next to her.

Wes paused for a beat longer before taking the invitation. “You’re Blaine’s sense doctor,” he stated.

“I am,” Fiona confirmed, waiting to see if the boy had anything else to add.

“I won’t apologise,” Wesley stated calmly, a righteous fire burning within the teenager as he folded his arms across his chest. “I don’t care what Rosen crows on about, Molly was the only thing keeping Blaine together this past week. If we hadn’t smuggled her in, Blaine would have crashed and burned weeks ago. I don’t care if this costs me my place in the program, I’ll never regret helping Blaine the way I did.”

“Dr Hargreaves seems to think Molly’s presence was causing Blaine to withdraw from the school more and more. She theorises Blaine became so reliant on the cat that it made his time with the rest of the student body even more difficult.”

Wes laughed hollowly, “That’s a load of crap. Anyone who spent two minutes watching Blaine with Molly would tell you that.” He glared at her challengingly.

Fiona smiled sadly as she finally voiced her opinion, “I couldn’t agree more.”

A thrum of tilting confusion slipped through the teenager’s tight controls as her answer completely wrong-footed him. He quickly recovered, “Well then why haven’t you told them that? Make them give Molly back! The teachers just freaked and pulled out the drugs, but Blaine doesn’t need that, he doesn’t! We just need Ku-” Wesley abruptly cut himself off, but Fiona had got the gist.

Frowning, she asked, “Kurt? The low ES boy who went to Blaine’s old school?”

“Blaine’s boyfriend,” Wesley admitted quietly. “It’s complicated.”

Fiona recalled a long conversion with Emily Anderson in the hospital not too long ago, following Blaine’s panic attack scare. It had all come spilling out. Kurt, Blaine, a spiral into the unknown.

“I’ve got that impression,” Fiona sighed.

A burst of anger, and then the boy snapped coldly, “Why is everyone so quick to assume what’s wrong is wrong, and what’s right is right? Molly helps Blaine stay grounded, she helps him stay him, but the teachers say, nope, that’s not proven, that’s not right, and they take her away! Kurt loves Blaine, and Blaine loves Kurt, but sorry, Kurt’s low and Blaine’s high so they can’t possibly be good for each other? Isn’t it a good job we’ve hidden poor Blaine away from the nasty little empty kid?”

Fiona’s heart wrenched in her chest as she watched the carefully contained tempest of a boy in front of her. Sadly, she reached over and squeezed Wesley’s shoulder. “And there’s the biggest lesson you’ll learn in your career, probably the only one you’ll take away from your time at Dalton. Sometimes the rules are wrong, but there’s nothing you can do about it.” She swallowed tightly, “Thank you, for everything you were able to do for Blaine.”

Except that wasn’t it. Tomorrow never came. Blaine disappeared, and it quickly transpired that Kurt had been involved.

Was it wrong to be grateful, when everything her training had taught her was that this could only end in tragedy?

00000

When she hung up the phone, she cried for a good few minutes. A whole week of pent up not-knowing simply burst out in disbelief and hope.

Gathering herself, she quickly checked in with the Sense ER night shift staff to make sure she’d have the test centre to herself. Mutterings and rumours were immediately rife – even those staff members who hadn’t got to know Blaine over the years had caught up by following the recent news coverage.

“Talk about an assault on the senses…” A clear and confident voice sniped, and Fiona exited the back office to meet the new arrivals, taking everything in with one glance.

The man and woman with an irritatingly perfect projection of professionalism would be the agents from the Sense Protection and Incident unit. There were John, Emily and Cooper, looking tired and drawn, but shining with the kind of energy that could only come with the sort of news the Andersons had received tonight.

And there was Blaine. He looked far from healthy, but no thinner or gaunt than when she had last seen him at Dalton a week ago. And this time, his eyes were bright and clear, and his emotions although threaded with apprehension and edged with rawness, were contained. And next to him, keeping a tight hold of Blaine’s hand, a small cut blooming into a bruise standing out on one pale cheek, was the one who had criticised the décor.

Kurt.

“I guess they didn’t think of runaway teenage boys when they decorated,” Fiona said, catching everyone’s attention.

Kurt Hummel was nothing like Fiona had expected. She had seen pictures on the news of course, and as a sense doctor she knew what to expect when faced with someone sub-1 on the scale. But none of that captured the determination, stubbornness, love and strength that practically exuded from the taller boy as he stood at Blaine’s side. Fiona didn’t need any kind of sense-ability to see that.

Carefully keeping one sense on Blaine’s ebbing and flowing emotional state, Fiona introduced herself to the agents, greeted the Andersons, and shook the hand of Burt Hummel, Kurt’s father, as he joined them.

A sweep of panic, and Fiona began to feel Blaine unspool on the edges of her senses. She was prepared to step in any second. Despite her private hopes, if Kurt turned out to be in any way damaging to Blaine, she would remove him immediately.

The ribbons of fear spiralled outwards, but they were tempered by a quiet, certain love. Fiona was just listening to Agent Miller explaining the details of Blaine’s apparent episode, when-

Blaine was gone.

Fiona whipped her head round to look at the boys, mouth ajar.

Her eyes could see Blaine, her eyes could see Kurt. There they stood, arms wrapped around each other, Blaine leaning back into Kurt as the taller boy rested his forehead against Blaine’s temple. The picture of harmony.

In all her years knowing Blaine, she had never known his emotional print to be quiet.

For him to be silent…

“Boys,” Agent Miller said exasperatedly. It sounded like this wasn’t the first time she had tried to get them to separate.

Fiona’s brain couldn’t process her thoughts fast enough, watching with fascination as Blaine slowly came back to himself, his emotions flowing calmly around him. Their eyes met, and the Blaine she saw there was someone she thought had been lost long ago.

Sometimes the rules are wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

But that’s not an excuse. And Fiona was done pretending it was.

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt's cheek throbbed. He was tired, he ached all over, and he was in that uncomfortable limbo of being hungry but too nervous to want to eat.

But he was still holding Blaine's hand. And for that small miracle, he would go through all the pain and discomfort in the world.

"I'm sorry, I really don't remember much from after they took Molly…" Blaine trailed off, leaning tiredly into Kurt as he shifted to wrap his arms around his knees. He sounded even more tired than Kurt felt.

They had to have been in the room for over an hour by now. Kurt still wasn't sure what to make of this Dr Monroe. All his experiences of sense doctors, to the one who diagnosed him and put the sadness in his father's eyes, to the ones who pulled him crying away from his dying mother, to the ones who had condemned Blaine… each experience had built his wall of distrust higher and higher. He didn't see why this woman should be afforded anything different.

Except Blaine seemed to trust her, and that had to mean something, because Kurt trusted Blaine. Blaine hadn't been this relaxed since they had left the safety of the McKinley auditorium. Kurt stroked the back of Blaine's hand with his thumb absently, a tired calm from the other boy pooling under his fingertips.

Blaine was right. He was getting better at this. It was still so surreal, and half the time it was so fleeting that he could have sworn he was imagining it, but then he would focus and there Blaine was, a bright starscape under Kurt's skin.

"That's okay Blaine," Dr Monroe said kindly. "How about we talk about what happened out in reception, when you disappeared?"

Wait, what? Kurt blinked, and okay he was exhausted, but now she wasn't just making sense. The doctor's questions had been jumping all over the place without any discernible pattern since they sat down. First talking to Blaine, then Kurt, then Blaine, covering a range of topics from Molly's favourite cat food to Kurt's favourite class at McKinley, to how Wes felt to Blaine, and the first time Kurt had sensed Blaine.

Blaine simply shrugged, "Kurt helps. He did the same when that man grabbed me, and his girlfriend tried to get me to calm down, and everyone in the street hated Kurt, and the man threw Kurt into the car and-" Blaine's voice rose with stress as he started to relive what had happened, and he forcibly cut himself off, taking a steadying breath. On instinct, Kurt brought their joined hands to his lips, kissing the back of Blaine's hand.

He didn't want to think about that. About the moment when he'd thought he had lost Blaine forever. But the doctor had other ideas as she asked gently, "Can you describe it to me Blaine?"

Kurt clenched his jaw and closed his eyes, trying to force that horrible freefall of remembered despair from his mind.

The moment he lost Blaine's hand, and a huge guy threw him so hard into a car that he lost his footing and cracked his head on the sidewalk.

The morbid blend of genuine fear for his life, and utter terror for what was happening to Blaine.

Because he had felt it, and wasn't that the joke?

The first time he senses Blaine without touching him, and he has to feel himself shatter Blaine's heart with a misguided lie.

The second time he senses Blaine without touching him, and Kurt is too far away to catch Blaine before he feels his boyfriend get swept away into a raging current of everyone's emotions but his own.

Blaine had tried to explain to Kurt what his first empathic episode had felt like, but no words could have come close to the drowning, sucking pressure that had pulled Blaine under so deep he nearly disappeared from Kurt forever.

Kurt never wanted to feel that again. It had been even worse than the screams.

The helplessness had been unbearable.

He remembered the woman letting go of Blaine, he remembered the chaos of suddenly too many people who had no clue what to do. He remembered scrambling to his feet, taking advantage of the confusion to shove the now distracted man out of his way to dart those crucial three strides, catching Blaine just as the other boy crumpled like he was a puppet and all his strings had been cut.

He remembered knowing that Blaine was gone, knowing that Blaine had been swept away and wasn't ever coming back.

He remembered futilely refusing to accept it, pressing his forehead to Blaine's as if by that contact and a few meaningless words he could bring Blaine back.

And then, impossibly, Kurt remembered feeling a tiny glimmer of Blaine, a glimmer which bloomed into a spark, flaring into a constellation of perfect stillness, quiet and calm.

"Kurt is silence," Blaine spoke his words carefully, softly, and Kurt's immediate relief at not having to relieve that horrific moment out loud gave way quickly to confusion. "One moment everything just hurt so much, and I was drowning, gone… and then I wasn't, because Kurt was there. And he made it quiet enough for me to be me again."

Kurt's mouth dropped open slightly, and he shook his head, "I didn't do anything…"

Blaine squeezed his hand, smiling at him in a way that despite the situation made Kurt's stomach flip pleasantly. "You were still there, there like you normally are, on the edge but not pushing any further. But everyone else was gone, and it was so perfectly silent – just me and you." A blush crept up Blaine's cheeks as he spoke the words out loud.

An indefinable lump formed in Kurt's throat, making it hard to swallow. He glanced between the doctor and Blaine as he repeated, "But I didn't do anything. I just didn't want to lose you, and then you came back."

"And what about when the agents brought you into the clinic earlier?" Dr Monroe prompted, "Blaine was a little distressed – only to be expected after what he's been through – and then he was gone to my sense. The same as you are, Kurt."

Kurt just stared at her incredulously. Sure, Blaine was so high on the scale that somehow, impossibly, Kurt was able to sense him. But for the reverse to be true? For Kurt to be able to muffle Blaine's overloaded world, to draw him into a closed off world of silence and contained emotion? That was…

Impossible.

Kurt fumbled through his explanation, bolstered by the tingling confidence Blaine felt in him, "I just… Blaine felt a little panicky, and everyone was talking about what was going to happen and freaking us both out a bit, and I just wanted him to know that I wasn't going to leave him,"

There was a tiny crack in the doctor's professionalism as her shoulders drooped slightly and she rubbed her face with her hand, and tiny laugh bubbling in her throat. "And then Blaine's empathic sense stretched out again, and he was stable and calm. Which is medically impossible."

"Obviously not," Blaine refuted.

"No Blaine," Dr Monroe said earnestly, placing her palms together in front of her. "I need you both to understand this. What happened tonight, what happened this week, is not possible within the realms of current medical and empathic science. And however overwhelmingly glad I am that this is not the case, you shouldn't be alive right now."

"But he is," Kurt said.

"Because of you," Dr Monroe agreed. "Because of something impossible you did, that as far as we know, no one has ever done before."

"What does that mean?" Blaine asked, nerves skipping and scratching up Kurt's spine.

"I honestly don't know. But I promise you both that I will do everything in my power to keep you together until we find out."

Blaine squeezed Kurt's hand, love clear in his grip. And then he let go, leaning forward to hug Dr Monroe tightly, "Thank you."

Kurt watched her smile, eyes slightly too bright as she laughed, "You haven't hugged me since you were eight." She pulled back, frowning, studying Blaine intently for a moment before running her gaze critically over Kurt. "And I think it's high time the pair of you get some sleep, and we get some ice on that nasty cut."

"What about the agents?" Kurt asked.

"I'm admitting you both to a private sense ward. Not only will it give me full autonomy over what happens next and give me time to sort out this mess, I'm not happy with the idea of either of you leaving my sight until we understand more about what's going on with your empathic senses."

"We're not sick," Blaine said stubbornly.

"No, you're not. But for the moment this is the safest place for you." She sighed regretfully, "And as I'm sure you've already worked out, I'm afraid we've only scratched the surface of tests."

"Is that really necessary?" Kurt asked. "Blaine's back to normal."

Blaine took Kurt's hand again, resignation mixed with exhaustion clear in his eyes. "I'm never going to be normal, Kurt."

"Even if the aftermath was unprecedented, Blaine still experienced a high grade empathic episode. We need to know how his body is coping, even if his mind is intact," Dr Monroe explained, before checking her watch. "It's nearly midnight – definitely time for you boys to get some rest. Wait here, I'll be back in a moment after I've talked to your parents and sorted a room. I hope you understand, but I'm going to lock you in. There is a panic button on the wall by the door if you need me for anything. I'll also arrange something for you to eat, but in the meantime there should be some chocolate in that cabinet over there while you wait."

"Thanks Dr Monroe," Blaine said gratefully. "Thank you for listening to us."

The sense doctor smiled sadly as she slipped on her shoes and coat, pulling out a keycard from the pocket. "You don't need to thank me Blaine."

The door clicked shut behind her with the deeper tone of an automatic lock, and Kurt finally let himself breathe. Without words, he twisted and slipped his arms to rest on Blaine's shoulders, as Blaine's arms looped around his waist, their legs tangling from where they sat on the floor.

The tension drained visibly from their muscles, and for a moment they just let themselves be. And then Blaine nuzzled Kurt's neck, pulling back to meet his gaze before softly pressing forward in a kiss.

Gone were the tentative, fleeting glimpses of gold in the darkness, barely perceptible to Kurt's closed senses. Now with a simple kiss came a flooding starscape, enfolding Kurt in a reflected sky that was for them alone.

Reluctantly Kurt pulled back, "Come on, let's get you some chocolate."

"Worried Dr Monroe will walk in on us with our parents?" Blaine asked tiredly but cheekily, sitting back.

"Something like that," Kurt grinned, standing up to raid the cabinet before returning to the floor with a handful of candy bars. "Does the sugar kick really help?" Kurt asked curiously.

Blaine shrugged, "Sometimes I think it helps because I've been told it helps, but my ES does make my metabolism run faster. It's why I sometimes get tired and loopy when I'm stressed out." There was quiet for a moment as Blaine took a bite, before he said plainly, "I can't believe they're not going to separate us."

Kurt's breath caught, the edge of reality knotting his stomach. He nearly didn't voice his reply. He nearly kept the nasty little voice hidden in the dark depth of his heart. But this was Blaine, and if he couldn't tell Blaine his fears, they who could he? "It's not morning yet."

Blaine's gaze flicked sharply to Kurt's, and even without touch Kurt felt an arrow of determination and love. "Then let them try. I won't let you go."

TBC

Chapter Text

Blaine was gone.

It was the first thing Kurt registered when he opened his eyes, and the immediate panic that swamped him banished any restfulness he had gained from sleep.

He rocketed upright, fighting against the too-tight sheets binding him. He would have fallen out of bed if it hadn’t been for the strong hands pressing against his chest.

“Kurt, Kurt, calm down it’s okay, you’re okay,” his dad wrestled with his flailing arms, voice soothing.

“Where’s Blaine? Where have they taken him?” Kurt cried urgently, refusing to let himself be placated.

“It’s okay, Blaine’s fine. The doc’s just taken him for some more tests. I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” Burt said calmly.

“No, no I promised I wouldn’t leave him!” Panic clawed cold at Kurt’s rib cage, erratic adrenaline fuelling his struggles against his dad.

“Kurt!” Burt said sharply, “Look at me. Look at me. Would I lie to you? Blaine will be back soon. I promise this isn’t a trick.”

With his dad’s soothing voice, Kurt began to feel his heart slow, and found himself nodding as he forced himself to sit back against the pillows. “I just, I thought…”

“I know what you thought,” Burt sighed. “You’re not the only Hummel with a problem with these places. Now, will you stay put if I sit down again? Or are you going to run away again?”

Kurt blushed, the barbs of guilt in his stomach suddenly coming back full force. He looked down at his hands, taking a breath before looking up to once again meet his father’s gaze.

He might not be able to sense anyone’s emotions other than Blaine’s, but he didn’t need any extra sense to be able to read his dad’s eyes. He never had.

Sadness, pride, worry, stress… they blended into a mixture that reminded Kurt just how much he had hurt his dad over the last week.

Burt sighed, “I just wish you would have trusted me more, Kurt. Why didn’t you come to me with Blaine’s letters? We’ve had our differences in the past, but I always thought we did pretty well overall. We used to talk.” Burt reached over and took Kurt’s hands in his own. They were rough and warm, and Kurt felt his throat close as he tried not to cry. “I know why you did what you did. You’ve always been a bit look-before-you-leap. But, god, Kurt… have you any idea how terrified I was for you, and Blaine?”

 “Dad…” Kurt said brokenly, anything to stop the pain in his father’s voice.

Burt shook his head, “Forget the fact my son broke the law, dragging his brother and friends into it to boot. Forget the police, the Dalton teachers, the experts all saying how we shouldn’t expect to find Blaine alive. Because screw that, I never believed that for a second. I was more scared of what would happen if the wrong person found you boys. There was a god damn witch hunt going on in this town, in the whole of Ohio! And all it would have taken would have been the wrong person to find you boys first, and all-” Burt broke himself off, his voice cracking as he tried to compose himself, “And all we would have gotten back would have been your bloody body, and Blaine too far gone to care.”

Kurt shook, tears running freely down his face as his dad’s words brought the horrible might-have-been to his mind. “I’m so sorry Dad…”

His words broke, chest constricting, and his body heaved with sobs that had been waiting to be released for so long, tangled dark emotions that he had tried to hold in for Blaine’s sake flooding him. And then the bed dipped, and his dad was right there, taking Kurt in his arms and making everything okay again. Kurt clung on, willing his dad to make everything better, just like he always did.

When Kurt pulled back, he said, “I just wanted to help Blaine. I never meant to hurt you. I just… panicked. I didn’t think, and I’m so sorry I scared you.”

Burt smiled softly, clasping Kurt’s shoulder, “I know you are, Kurt. And despite everything, I am so proud of what you’ve done for Blaine, of how strong you’ve been. But how about you let me be the parent for once, and look after you?”

Kurt nodded jerkily, “I love you, Dad.”

 “Love you too, buddy.”  Burt pulled Kurt back for another hug, and then asked, “So, do you feel up to more visitors? Carole and Finn are in the waiting room, and I know they’d both love to see you. Your whole damn glee club were out there as well, but I sent them home an hour ago. A lot of people have been worried about you boys.”

Kurt blinked, overwhelmed. “What time is it?” The little double room they had been given the night before was bright with filtered sunlight.

“Nearly midday, you slept for about twelve hours.”

“But what about the garage? Saturday is the busiest day,” Kurt said guiltily.

“Kurt. You’re my son, and in hospital. I’ve got better places to be than the shop. Besides, one of the perks of being the owner is I get to decide when I go in, and the guys are fine without me,” Burt rolled his eyes fondly. “I’ll be back in a moment.”

Kurt only had a minute to gather himself before his Finn came bursting into the room, followed closely by his dad and step-mom, as well as Cooper Anderson. Carole surprised him by sweeping down and giving Kurt the tightest hug she could, and then when she pulled away, Finn scrunched his face oddly and grasped Kurt’s hand warmly for a full five seconds before retreating, “It’s good to see you bro.”

Kurt was overwhelmed. He loved his family, but Finn was like everyone else at McKinley and usually avoided his touch like the plague. And Carole, while she’d been making a determined effort of touches since she had married his dad, was still on the higher end of average on the scale, and had never tried to hug him before. Until now, the only hugs he had ever received in his life had been from his mom, his dad, and Blaine.

Cooper grabbed a few more chairs, smiling at Kurt’s unasked question, “Dad’s with Blaine, and Mom’s gone home to grab him some clothes. Figured I’d stick it out here if you guys didn’t mind. You had me worried as much as Blaine.”

“We’re so glad you’re okay Kurt,” Carole smiled warmly, leaning into Burt where they sat.

“Yeah, dude, seriously, it has been mental.” And then Kurt found himself subjected to the enthusiastic retelling of the last week as seen through his brother’s eyes, from Rachel’s enjoyment at the ‘acting challenge’ covering for them had provided her, to Tina and Sam projecting so strongly at a group of teens in the Lima Bean that the nasty gossipers had burst into floods of tears, and of how Brittany had confused everyone for a good twenty four hours with her claim that Lord Tubbington had seen both boys heading for the Mexican border.

Somewhere in the middle of Finn’s account of how Santana had nearly bodily attacked one of the sense agents, Blaine was returned in a wheelchair pushed by Dr Monroe, accompanied by his dad.

Blaine smiled tiredly, but assuaged any of Kurt’s immediate fears that he might have gotten worse as he levered himself out of the chair, perching on the edge of his own bed, “Your turn.”

Dr Monroe nodded, smiling reassuring at Kurt, “It’s nothing scary. I just need to take some scans, a few blood samples. Pretty standard stuff. Your dad can come with you if you like.”

Kurt looked to his dad, who nodded without needing to be asked, turning to his wife, “Why don’t you and Finn go home for a bit, grab some lunch?”

“Sure, I’ll come back this afternoon with some of Kurt’s stuff. God knows you wouldn’t know where to start.” Carole kissed Burt, smiling fondly at him before looking at Kurt, “We’ll be back soon sweetheart.”

“See you later Kurt,” Finn grinned.

“Bye,” Kurt gave them a tiny wave as they left, before swinging out of bed. He walked over to Blaine without asking permission from the doctor, and tried not to think about how both their dads and Blaine’s brother were still in the room.

Blaine grinned, looping his arms around Kurt’s shoulders and kissing his lips briefly, filling Kurt with calm, “It’s not that bad really. The MRI machine makes a horrible noise, but it’s not any worse than Rachel’s complaining and you’ve dealt with that for long enough without going crazy.”

“Come on you, back into bed,” John sighed exasperatedly.

“And you, in the chair,” Burt gestured at Kurt.

“I can walk!” Kurt said indignantly.

“Hospital policy, especially for wayward teenagers,” Dr Monroe said sweetly, before turning to John. “Someone will be back in a moment to fit Blaine’s cannula.”

“Wait, what? What’s wrong?” Kurt demanded.

Blaine squeezed Kurt’s hand comfortingly, “It’s fine, it’s just a little tube in the back of my hand. My blood sugar is still too low, so they want to connect me to an IV. Nothing to worry about.”

Kurt took a breath, taking strength from Blaine’s nonchalance. For a moment, Finn’s stories had helped him forget why they were here.

“Then I’ll see you when I get back,” Kurt smiled, forcing himself to let go of Blaine’s hand. The sooner he had these stupid tests, the sooner this might all be over.

00000

“Okay, Kurt, just hold your head still for a second for me?” The nurse smiled reassuringly as he placed a strange headset to sit over Kurt’s hair, and began fixing the little metal discs at spaced intervals over Kurt’s head. “There we go, all set.”

“Thanks Tom,” Dr Monroe said from where she was fitting a similar headset on Blaine. “Could you make sure the camera is set up okay for me please?”

“Starting to feel a little bit like a lab rat here…” Kurt quipped, trying to offset his nerves with humour.

Dr Monroe smiled, “I know it all looks very sci-fi, Kurt, but an EEG is very simple.” She attached the last disc to Blaine’s head, “These electrodes are going to allow us to monitor your and Blaine’s brain activity in real time. Any time either of you want to take a break, or stop entirely, just say the word.”

“Camera’s all ready to go and recording,” Tom gave the thumbs up. Burt and John had agreed for the boys to be filmed to ensure the results couldn’t be challenged. For the moment, the authorities had taken a step back in deference to the hospital and ultimately Dr Monroe, but that could always change. It had been five days now since they had been admitted, and Kurt for one was sick of the tests.

“Great. For the record, I am Doctor Fiona Monroe, with Nurse Tom Winters behind the camera. The two patients are Blaine Devon Anderson, aged 16, registered with ES 4.8, and Kurt Elizabeth Hummel, aged 17, registered with ES 0.5. Kurt will be shown Visual Card Set A23 and B65, and Blaine will be shown Visual Card Set A45 and B09.” She rattled off the facts so blandly that Kurt’s stomach twisted even more. “Okay boys, I’m going to raise the divide curtain. Kurt, we’re going to start with you.”

Kurt stole one last glance at Blaine before the doctor drew a curtain divide between their two chairs. She then sat down in front of him, pulling some large cards out of an envelope, “Are you ready?”

“Sure, why not.” Kurt forced himself to relax.

“Okay, starting with test A, no contact. Kurt, just let yourself react to the pictures. And Blaine, when and if you feel anything from Kurt, just say what you feel.”

For the first few cards, Kurt was too tense to feel anything other claustrophobia and discomfort. But then Blaine’s voice floated from the other side of the divide. “Kurt, relax. Seriously…” His voice sounded amused, and Kurt felt his tension leak a little bit.

And then Blaine started just saying random words, sometimes a little before Kurt himself even registered what he was feeling.

A piano – “Joy.

An elementary school – “Loneliness.”

A roast chicken – “Happy sadness?”

A doctor – “Distrust.”

A cop – “Anger.”

A picture of his dad – “Safety.”

After about thirty cards, Dr Monroe paused. “Okay, great, now see that slit in the curtain? Reach through it and hold hands. We’re moving onto test B, contact.”

The results of that one were much the same, except this time at the back of Kurt’s mind there was a constant echo of Blaine’s peaceful concentration, and a slight shadow of Kurt’s own feelings floating back at him.

“That was the last card. Do you boys want a break, or shall we keep going?” Dr Monroe asked.

They were still holding hands, and Kurt knew it was his itching desire to get out of the stupid thing on his head that prompted Blaine to say, “Nope, we’re good.”

Dr Monroe threw Blaine a look, but her eyes sparkled, “We haven’t started your test yet, Blaine.”

“Sorry,” Blaine chirped. Kurt suppressed a giggle. He knew for a fact Blaine wasn’t sorry at all.

“Alright, Blaine your turn. Test A, no contact. Please let go of each other’s hands. Kurt, by now you should have an idea of what we’re looking for. Just remember there are no right or wrong answers.” And then she disappeared to sit on Blaine’s side of the curtain.

There was nothing. Kurt wasn’t especially surprised. He had sensed Blaine twice now without contact, but those had been special cases. Sometimes, if he really thought about it, he was pretty sure he knew Blaine was there, but that could also be wishful thinking.

Fear-powerless-lost-selfhatred-terror- “Blaine! What the hell did you just show him?” Kurt yelped as a boiling pot of nasty emotions arrowed through his body and he instinctively reached out to the other boy.

There was a lead-weight pause. Kurt was vaguely aware of the nurse behind the camera staring at him in utter shock. And then Dr Monroe’s voice came from behind the divide, too-neutral, “Kurt, if you just felt something from Blaine, please describe it.”

“He’s scared, of whatever you showed him, but also of himself. He feels out of control, like no one’s on his side…” Kurt trailed off, voice choking. “Can we take a break? Please, I…”

“Of course, Kurt.” As soon the words were out of her mouth, Kurt was up out of the chair, shoving the divide out of his way. The stupid wires attached to his head trailed after him, catching slightly. “Kurt, careful!”

Kurt ignored her, grabbing Blaine’s hands, “Are you okay? What was that?”

Through the contact, Kurt felt whatever had shaken that response out of Blaine recede slightly. His boyfriend smiled comfortingly, but it was there was an edge to it. “Sorry I scared you. It was a picture of one of Dalton’s sense teachers. I guess it’s all still kinda fresh in my mind.”

Kurt huffed, squeezing Blaine’s hands, “You’re not going back there, and I am always on your side.”

Blaine nodded, and Kurt felt their shared love sparking between them. “I know you are. You okay to keep going? These things are getting itchy.”

“Sure,” Kurt laughed at Blaine’s adorably scrunched nose, impulsively placed a delicate kiss there before straightening.

Dr Monroe was looking at them both with an unreadable expression. “Alright, Kurt if you sit back down, I think we’ll move onto test B, contact.”

Kurt nodded, taking Blaine’s hand through the divide and closing his eyes, letting his attention focus entirely on his boyfriend. The warm hand in his fitted perfectly as ever, and Kurt felt the lingering tension from the last card wash away.

A tickling flicker of gold, and Kurt smiled, “Something funny.”

Pinpricks of sparks running up his arm, “Excited.”

Dimming stars swallowed in a blanket of dark sky, “Sorrow.”

Ribbons of skittering light on still water, “Nervous.”

Kurt let himself drift, floating under an ever changing sky, saying aloud the emotions he read in the stars.

And then the sky exploded in a breathtaking galaxy that was all Blaine, every hope, every dream, every wish.

Kurt smiled, and even though it wasn’t part of the test, he pushed back the same to Blaine, a mirrored starscape lighting fire to deep blue waters.

 “Love.”

TBC

 

 

Chapter Text

Kurt stepped out of the shower room feeling a lot more human than he had going in. Once it was clear that Kurt was going to be in the hospital for as long as Blaine, Carole had brought a wide selection of Kurt’s products, as well as some comfortable clothes that Kurt would be honest, he was pretty sure he hadn’t owned before.

Blaine looked up from where he sat cross-legged on his bed. It was late evening, and the hospital had quietened as visiting hours wound down. Their families had left just under an hour ago, so aside from the duty nurse coming in to check on them every half hour, they were able to enjoy some quiet.

The EEG sense test that afternoon had caused some excitement amongst the doctors, and Dr Monroe seemed positive. She had left them straight after the test, and according to Blaine’s dad, was planning to present her preliminary findings to the hospital board and authorities tomorrow.

“What do you think?” Kurt grinned, giving Blaine a little twirl, “I call it hospital chic.”

Blaine laughed, “Very nice. I really like how you’ve paired the grey of sweatpants with the blue of the t-shirt. Edgy.”

Kurt plucked distastefully at the pants, “We’ll have a burning ceremony when we’re out of here.” He flopped down on the bed next to Blaine, who shifted his legs to tuck his toes until Kurt’s thigh. And then Kurt realised what Blaine was holding, “Where did you get a phone?

One of the rules they had been subjected to since they had arrived was a complete lack of contact with the outside world except what was regulated by their visitors. That meant no television in their room, no internet, and no phones.

Blaine had the grace to look guilty. “I lifted it out of Mom’s bag earlier. I know her passcode, and she’s always leaving it around the house. She’ll just think she misplaced it…”

Kurt swallowed back any feelings he had whenever faced with Blaine’s mom. They still hadn’t had that conversation, not fully. Not since Kurt had cut her off that night, and accepted her half-spoken apology. As far as Kurt was concerned, the full explanation needed to come from Blaine’s mom, or not at all. Blaine knew something was off, Kurt could tell, but nothing more than that. Instead, Kurt prompted, “Well..?”

“You mean aside from the gossip from everyone at McKinley?” Blaine tried half-heartedly for humour, but at Kurt’s unimpressed face, simply handed the phone over. “The news reports are varied. Most of it’s garbage… and they say some really nasty stuff.”

“About me,” Kurt confirmed, scrolling through a few of the tabs. He quirked an eyebrow, “Wow, some of these are pretty imaginative.” Maybe it hadn’t been a bad idea for them to be kept away from it all. It was hard not to take some of these personally. Mostly because they were.

“But some of them are better,” Blaine reached over, shifting casually into Kurt’s personal space in a way that still never failed to make Kurt’s heart stutter. He flicked through a couple of tabs before he found the one he was looking for. “These guys are talking about it more scientifically, with leading sense doctors. I recognise a few of the names from some reading I did after my first episode.”

Possible Relief Treatment for High ES

High School Boys Beat the Odds

The Impossible Recovery

The headlines went on. Kurt let his hands drop into his lap, looking at Blaine, “Do you really think we’ve done it?”

Blaine shrugged, looping his arm into the crook of Kurt’s elbow and resting his head on Kurt’s shoulder, a lulling sense calm and comfort ebbing quietly between them. “I don’t know. But I want to believe it. I feel better than I did even before we… before I enrolled in Dalton.” The words before we broke up hung heavy in the air. “And Dr Monroe, our families… I think they’re starting to believe it too.”

Kurt leaned his cheek to the top of Blaine’s head, “Took them long enough. We’re in this for the long haul, and they’re not taking our future, your future, away from us.”

There was a sweep of love from Blaine, which then reeled back to something deeper. He pulled back, looking at Kurt. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

Kurt frowned, unable to read the expression on Blaine’s face, “What is it?”

Blaine paused, seeming to carefully weigh his words before he spoke. “For the first time, I’m starting to believe that I have something to look forward to. And it’s not just a dream. I actually have a future where I’m not just going to survive, but I’m going to live, and you’re going to be there.”  He took a steadying breath, and for a moment Kurt was lost in Blaine’s eyes. “But… I need you to promise me something.”

“Anything,” Kurt said immediately.

“I need you to follow your dreams as well. I’m not saying it will come to it, but I never want you to stay with me out of obligation, because you think you owe me, or are the only one who can help me, or some other crap. No Kurt,” Blaine cut him off before he could protest angrily. “I know we can’t imagine being in a place where we’re not in love, but we should know better than anyone how anything can happen. And I never want you to sacrifice your future just to give me mine.”

Blaine’s eyes were serious and earnest, and Kurt knew he couldn’t just brush his boyfriend’s words aside with useless placations. He swallowed tightly, taking Blaine’s hand, “I promise. But I also promise that if it ever comes to the point where we don’t want to be together, I will still be there for you, even if it’s just as a friend. If you promise to let me.”

“Deal,” Blaine said quietly, sealing his promise with a kiss.

00000

“And Dr Hargreaves agreed!” Wes grinned, taking a sip from his takeaway cup of hospital vending machine coffee with a grimace. He was perched on the end of Blaine’s bed, while Kurt sat in a chair next to them.

“I’m really happy for you Wes,” Blaine said sincerely. “Dr Monroe must have been really impressed with you to agree to sponsor you.”

Wes shrugged happily. He had dropped in for a visit that morning to see for himself how Blaine was doing, and to meet Kurt under better circumstances. Kurt would always be grateful for what the older boy had done for Blaine, from sending on the letters, to smuggling in Molly, to just genuinely having Blaine’s best interests at heart.

And now Wes wasn’t going to be punished for doing what he had believed was right. Dalton had agreed to let Wes finish off at the academy by sitting in a few classes a week, provided he spent the other days helping out Dr Monroe at the sense clinic. It would give him enough credits to get into the college he wanted to properly start his medical and sense training.

“So, when do you think you guys will be let out of here?” Wes turned serious, and Kurt was once again struck by how perceptive the other boy was.

Blaine shook his head, “No idea.”

“Soon, I hope.” Kurt added, “If they taken any more blood I’m not going to have any left.”

“They’ve asked our parents to come in at two for an update,” Blaine said. “But Dr Monroe has been in meetings all morning, so we’ve no idea what’s going on. On the bright side, I’ve not seen the inside of a scanner today, so that’s refreshing.”

Wes laughed, “Well, let me know as soon as you guys get your release orders, and I’ll bring Molly round. She was alright last week but has been pretty grouchy these last few days. If I didn’t know better I’d say she knew what was going on…”

In the days following Molly’s discovery in Blaine’s room, and Kurt breaking Blaine out of Dalton, Molly had adopted Wes, who had temporarily moved back in with his parents while he waited first to hear from the Dalton academic board, and then for news about Blaine. Blaine’s parents had tried to collect Molly from him, but the cat hadn’t been having any of it, and with the stress of a missing Blaine and Kurt, the Andersons had had more pressing things to think about.

 “Oh, she knows,” Kurt said emphatically.

Blaine rolled his eyes, “You and Cooper talk about her like she’s some sort of devil cat.”

“Blaine, honey,” Kurt said sweetly, taking Blaine’s hand. “I love Molly, I do. But one day you’re going to have to admit that your cat is straight up freaky.”

“You know, it was prejudice like that which triggered the Salem Witch Trials,” Blaine huffed, but he was grinning.

“And on that note, I’d better be going. Don’t want to be late for Hargreaves.” Wes hopped off the bed, shouldering his bag, “You take care of yourselves, Blaine, Kurt. I’ll see you later. And ask one of your parents to give me a call when there’s news?”

The genuine care in Wesley’s voice made Kurt smile. It was nice to know how many people were on their side.

00000

Kurt and Blaine were reading outdated fashion magazines on Blaine’s bed when the doctors finally joined them.

“Good afternoon boys,” Dr Monroe breezed into their room, followed closely by another man Kurt knew they hadn’t met yet. He was older, dark brown hair thinning on the top of his head, but he was smiling at least. And not in that condescending way Kurt hated either. Trailing behind the doctors were both Blaine’s parents, Kurt’s dad, and Cooper. “Blaine, Kurt, this is Dr Nordstrom. He’s come all the way from Sweden to meet you.”

Kurt’s eyes widened, and he couldn’t help but blurt out, “Wait what? Why?”

“Because he’s pretty much the leading doctor in pioneering high ES therapy treatments,” Blaine said. At Kurt’s look, Blaine shrugged, “Like I said, I did a lot of reading.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you both,” the new doctor smiled kindly. “Dr Monroe has told me a lot about you.”

“As I’m sure you’ve worked out by now, you’ve caused quite a stir in the medical world,” Dr Monroe said wryly. “Now, we’ve already talked a little with your parents about some of the findings from this week’s tests, and possible next steps.”

“Dad?” Kurt turned his head searchingly, hating how his voice wavered slightly.

But his father simply smiled encouragingly, “Let the doctors explain, Kurt.”

Taking a packet of documents from his colleague, Dr Nordstrom pulled up a chair and sat down closely, facing the boys on the bed. He then proceeded to spread out a selection of graphs onto the bedspread for them to look at. “This is a control sample,” he pointed to six neatly labelled graphs. “These show the typical EEG results we expect to see when we do a simple visual sense test like you boys went through the other day. This pair is contact and non-contact for a typical individual with ES sub-1, these two are of your average adult, and these ones are what we would expect to see from someone of Blaine’s level.”

Kurt followed the doctor’s finger with his eyes. The ones that matched his level were nothing more than a line of little wavy bumps, while the average graph was full of peaks and troughs, more pronounced in the contact test than the non contact. The ones that matched Blaine’s expected reaction were an electric explosion of sharp, jagged peaks.

“And yet, when we look at Kurt’s results…” The doctor drew out another sheet, and began tracing the line on the non contact graph, “No ES reading as usual, and then, boom! Large spike, dipping to a healthier level, but still not back to your normal output.”

“That’s when you showed Blaine the picture of one of his Dalton teachers, and I felt him,” Kurt said.

“That’s right,” Dr Nordstrom said. “And now, we look at your contact test, and we see a remarkably healthy reading of someone who if tested blind would be graded at 3.2 on the scale. Except your readings are much more focused than a regular person’s, because you are tuned to Blaine only.”

Cooper grinned cheekily, “Radio Blaine.”

Blaine glared at his brother, but the doctor chuckled, “Quite. But perhaps even more remarkable are Blaine’s results.” He placed the last sheet next to Kurt’s results, letting Blaine look.

Blaine reached forwards, tracing the line of the top graph with his finger, the shards of emotions spiked onto the page, until one rocketed upwards in a mirror image of the one on Kurt’s graph, before plummeting entirely to the same low level as the sub-1 control graph.

And the contact test was completely different from any of the controls. The level readings were much higher than those on Kurt’s contact graph, but instead of the violent peaks there should have been, the waves were more gently curved.

Dr Nordstorm placed his finger next to Blaine’s, not touching, smiling kindly. “Dr Monroe explained to me how you are able to sense Kurt as well as any other person, but that when you touch him, you aren’t overwhelmed. I would actually go further than that. See how rounded this line is compared to the first? Kurt is somehow acting as a filter for you, giving you enough time to process your senses. As for this…” He gestured to the nearly flat line that followed the biggest spike on Blaine’s graph, “I can only assume this was the silence you spoke about.”

Kurt couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Here was proof, actual proof that he wasn’t hurtful to Blaine. He might even be good for him. He took his boyfriend’s hand, “I don’t know when I’m doing it. Blaine told me afterwards that it’d happened again during the test, but both times before that we’d been touching.” He pierced the doctor with his most determined stare, “Is there any way I can learn to control it?”

“That’s why we’re here, Kurt.” Dr Monroe said, her face breaking into a shining smile.

Dr Nordstrom leaned back in his chair, studying both boys intently, “It goes without saying that Blaine no longer requires the help of this hospital or any sense refuge. His tests show no sign of sense control deterioration, which considering his medical record from the last few months, is remarkable.”

“And for the record, both your mother and I have spoken with Dalton, along with Dr Monroe. They won’t be pressing charges against Kurt for removing you,” John said reassuringly, his face splitting into a wide grin.

“So we can go home?” Blaine asked hopefully.

“And more,” Dr Nordstrom nodded. “The question we’re looking at now is more for a long term solution. I want to see if Kurt’s effect on you can be made to last longer to prevent you being completely reliant on his presence, and to help Kurt to see if he can learn how to focus it. In the end, I would like to see if Kurt’s effect on you can be replicated to other cases, although that is a long way off. I plan to take tenure here for the next year to help you, if you agree.”

Kurt squeezed his boyfriend’s hand, relishing in Blaine’s unbridled joy flooding him, a laugh bubbling in his throat as he murmured to Blaine, “I told you there was a future.”

Blaine laughed as well, but the sound was broken slightly, his eyes wet. “Happy tears,” he reassured Kurt.

“We’ve got some logistics to sort out, but Burt, John, if you just follow me we’ll get the release papers signed for the boys,” Dr Monroe said, her smile still permanently fixed to her face.

Dr Nordstrom rose, leaving the papers, nodding to both Blaine and Kurt with warmly, “I look forward to getting to know you both.”

As their dads followed the doctors out of the room, Kurt felt a shudder of something from Blaine. “Mom? Why are you sad?”

Kurt watched as Emily Anderson paused, and saw a fleeting exchange pass silently between her and Cooper. Cooper glanced at Blaine, deciding, and then at Kurt, before nodding, “I’ll give you guys a moment. I’ll be right outside.”

Blaine’s mom seemed to freeze in the middle of the room, her actions warring with each other as she seemed to want to keep her distance, and reassure her youngest son. Finally, she compromised, sitting down in the chair Dr Nordstrom had vacated.

“I’m not sad, Blaine, not really,” Emily said quietly, and Kurt had such a hard time equating this woman to the same person who had told him he was killing her son. In his head, he had built her up into a hostile force of anger and hatred, but now? She just looked tired.

And then, through Blaine’s touch, Kurt felt an alien crackle of fizzing guilt and regret, much like that time in the choir room when he had sensed someone else’s emotions with Blaine’s help. And lit underneath the sparks was a love so deep, but woven with such desperate fear.

The night he and Blaine had been found, he had told her she didn’t need to apologise, and he stuck with that. But he also knew she needed to tell Blaine. And hopefully, gain his forgiveness.

“Blaine… earlier this summer, I…persuaded…Kurt that he should break up with you, for your own good.” Her words came out in a rush, and Kurt winced at the memory.

“What?” Blaine’s sharp projection of betrayed anger was entirely his own. “I don’t understand, Mom. How could you?”

Tears fell freely down Mrs Anderson’s cheeks. “I was wrong, Blaine. So horribly wrong, and I will somehow have to live with what that put you through, put you both through. Kurt, I am so sorry for what I said to you, and Blaine, you deserved more from me.”

“You’re my mom…” Blaine choked, and Kurt could feel how much Blaine was trying to anchor himself to Kurt through their clasped hands. “You’re supposed to trust me.”

“I know,” she said simply. “But even moms can be scared sometimes, Blaine, and make the wrong choices. That’s not an excuse, it’s just… I will always regret making that one, and I will never forgive myself for what it did to you.”

Blaine was silent for a long time, staring at his lap before finally forcing himself to meet his mother’s eyes, “Can you give me some time? I can’t… not right now.”

Emily’s body seemed to judder, but whatever she was going to say was swallowed as she nodded, forcing a smile, “Of course, baby. I’ll leave you boys to get your stuff together.”

When she had gone, Blaine’s whole body slumped. Kurt wrapped an arm around his shoulders, feeling the tension there. “I knew there was something you both weren’t telling me,” Blaine mumbled.

“I didn’t want it to be me who told you,” Kurt said softly. “You gonna be okay?”

Blaine nodded, still trying to process. The bittersweet edge of the moment hung in the air for a beat, but despite the conversation with Blaine’s mom, Kurt couldn’t help but feel hopeful.

They were going home.

TBC

Chapter Text

Miss you x

Kurt didn’t second guess pressing send on his message to Blaine, even though it was nearly midnight. It was their first night out of the hospital, and in the joy of getting out, in the elation of knowing they had actually done it, both of them had forgotten it would also mean going home to separate houses. It was the first time they had slept apart since Kurt had taken Blaine out of Dalton, and he was definitely feeling the separation.

Kurt’s phone buzzed nearly immediately, and a picture popped up of Blaine pulling a stupid sad face, somehow holding a very put-upon Molly in frame. We miss you too! xx

Kurt giggled, warmth coiling in his chest. Dork. You’re lucky Molly and I love you! Bet she was happy to see you :)

Wes brought her round after dinner. I missed her so much!

Kurt sighed, still unable to believe that things were on their way to settling back to normal, or as normal as they got anyway. That he was simply laying on his bed, texting his boyfriend.

His phone buzzed again, Can’t sleep?

Kurt bit his lip, letting his fingers fly fast across the screen and hitting send before he could second guess himself for being too cheesy, Not without you here…

There was a longer pause, enough time for Kurt’s stomach to tighten as he stared at the screen. But then, I know. I wish I was with you now. But at least my parents are letting me join the ND end of summer party!

To be honest, Kurt was surprised his dad was letting him go only the day after he got out of hospital, let alone that Blaine’s parents were releasing him. But the doctors had been clear that it was important to get Blaine back onto as normal a schedule as possible. Yes, the last two weeks since leaving Dalton had been a terrifying rollercoaster, but Blaine really was doing okay. Treating him like glass would only be counter-productive.

It probably helped that the party was being thrown by Finn, in the Hummel-Hudson garden…

Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. I think it’s also a welcome home party. Don’t tell Rachel I told you!

:)

Kurt bit his lip, tapping his finger against the side of his phone, debating. How are things with your mom?

Weird. She’s my mom but I don’t know what to say to her. Or how to feel. Coop’s pretty angry about everything I think.

Kurt rolled onto his back. Maybe this wasn’t the best time to have this conversation. But still… Your mom loves you Blaine.

A pause, and for a moment Kurt wasn’t sure if Blaine was going to respond. I know she does. That’s the problem. It makes it harder to hate her…

Kurt didn’t know what to reply to that, but Blaine sent another message immediately afterwards, Thank you for not giving up on me in the end. I love you xxx

Never. And I love you too xxx

00000

“Hey,” Finn sat down on the grass next to Kurt, handing him a drink. It was a beautiful Friday, one of those peaceful final days of summer that shine all the brighter for it. The New Directions were scattered around the garden and in the kitchen, music playing loudly as they took advantage of most of the neighbours still being at work. “How’re you?”

Kurt leaned back on his elbows, smiling up at Finn as he tore his gaze from Blaine. His boyfriend was as carefree as Kurt had ever seen him, arms waving animatedly as he chatted with Sam. Kurt had been unable to take him eyes off him, taking in Blaine’s glowing skin, his bright smile and, to Kurt’s delight, bare sun-kissed arms.

The morning had dawned hot, and Blaine had thrown caution to the wind, much to Kurt’s pride. It was a big step, and a bigger statement of how much Blain trusted both the New Directions to respect his no-skin-touching boundary, and for Kurt to be his safety net.

“I’m really good, Finn,” Kurt said softly. “More than good.”

“So…” Finn drew out the word, “Does that mean you and Blaine are coming back to school on Monday?”

Kurt snorted at Finn’s blunt delivery. It was a topic no one had broached yet. The summer had disappeared far too quickly in a blur of stress, and Monday would mark the start of Kurt’s senior year at McKinley. And if Blaine was to return, his junior year.

Leaving the hospital was one thing, having a party like this was easy, risk free… but going back to high school? Kurt knew he would be – his dad may not have said as much, but there was no way that conversation was going to end up any other way for him.

Blaine however…

His education was all over the place, and Kurt knew Blaine’s mother would be considering homeschooling again after the scare the family had been through.

“What’s going on?” Blaine blocked out the sun for a second, before flopping down effortlessly on his side right next to Kurt, mindless of any personal space as he casually draped a hand to rest on Kurt’s stomach, propping his head up with the other. Kurt tried to stop his brain from flat lining, but wasn’t having much luck.

By Blaine’s mischievous grin, it had been intentional. Kurt must have been projecting his conflicted feelings across the garden, and now Blaine was very aware where Kurt’s mind had jumped to.

Finn remained oblivious, “I was just asking Kurt if you guys will be coming back to McKinley with the rest of us on Monday.”

“Oh, yeah…” Blaine’s nose scrunched adorably, “I keep forgetting it’s next week.”

“There’s been a lot going on,” Finn said.

“Understatement of the century,” Kurt muttered, but Blaine’s fingers tracing languidly over his shirt banished any darker thoughts.

“So?” Finn prompted.

“Of course we are!” Blaine laughed, but when he sensed Kurt’s surprise, he continued more seriously, “Well, I’ve not had the conversation with my parents yet, but there’s no way we’re not. The doctors said we have to be normal. Normal is school, and I can’t spend the next year only seeing you guys and my family. We’ve fought too hard.”

“Who’d have thought people would be fighting to go to McKinley!” Puck crowed, butting in as the rest of the New Directions whooped and clapped at the news.

“Bring on Sectionals!” Artie yelled, grinning as he caused another uproar.

 Kurt took advantage of the distraction to lean over and press a light kiss to Blaine’s warm lips, “You sure your parents will be okay with this?”

Blaine shrugged, “It doesn’t matter. It’s my life, not theirs, and I’m not going to waste another moment.”

His fire and determination sang through Kurt, who couldn’t help but smile, “I love you…”

Blaine grinned, sun catching in his gelled hair, surging forward to capture Kurt’s mouth in a heated kiss of electric sparks.

“Get a room!” Santana yelled.

They ignored her.

00000

“I’m home!” Kurt called as he closed the front door. It was Wednesday, just over halfway through their second week back at school. And everything was, somehow, going great. Kurt kept expecting to wake up, kept waiting for something to go wrong, but it was still perfect.

Sure, there had been bumps in the road… The way the entire school had buzzed about them those first few days. Kurt’s inability to focus unless he knew Blaine was in a class with at least one other glee kid. Blaine’s slight dip when Cooper returned to New York last weekend. But these were hurdles they had been able to overcome together.

The school gossip had inevitably moved onto the next scandal once it realised that neither Kurt nor Blaine were about to sprout wings or whatever they’d been waiting for. Blaine had sat down with Kurt and talked through his fears that Blaine would be cornered by some jock, and Kurt wouldn’t be there to help. And following their first session with Dr Nordstorm, Kurt had stayed over at Blaine’s on Saturday night, simply letting himself be there for Blaine while his boyfriend processed the empty space left by Cooper’s departure.

They were settling into some sort of rhythm, a sense of normalcy that Kurt was happy to bask in. Even the doctors seemed positive, although it was very early days. Kurt was beginning to breathe again.

“Hey Kurt, can you come in here a sec?” His dad’s voice floated out from the kitchen. It was just going to be the two of them that evening. His stepmom Carole was picking up an extra late shift, while Finn had gone round to Rachel’s after school. Blaine had been met at school by Wes, who wanted to catch up on everything that had happened since the hospital. Kurt had been invited to join them in the Lima Bean, but he had a mountain of homework to get through before Friday, and with glee club tomorrow he didn’t have much time to fit it in. Besides, he was looking forward to dinner with just him and his dad.

Kurt dropped his bag in the hall, calling fondly, “What have you done this time? I told you, you need to preheat the oven.”

“Hey, I’ll have you know dinner is completely under control,” his dad said with a grin, throwing a cloth onto the counter. “I just wanted to talk.”

Kurt froze in the doorway to the kitchen, muscles tense and ready to bolt, “Dad, no. We don’t need that talk. We did that, remember? It was traumatising for both of us, but you covered it. Just because I’m with Blaine now does not mean we need to revisit that.”

Burt rolled his eyes, “Sit down Kurt. It’s not that kind of talk.”

Kurt sidled delicately into the kitchen, sitting down at the table. His dad sat down opposite, pushing something across the table. Kurt’s breath caught. He knew where this talk was going now…

Tentatively he reached forward, fingertips brushing the neat, lovingly designed hardcover, flicking down the spiral spine of loose pages. Carefully, he looked up at his dad, trying to read his expression as he asked, “You’ve been looking at it?”

 “I have,” Burt confirmed. “And, while I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert… Kurt, these are amazing.”

Kurt ducked his head, a smile tugging at his lips at the praise, “Thanks Dad…”

“So, I gotta wonder. Why is it you’ve not done anything with it recently? I get the summer was… a lot… but it’s like you’ve just abandoned it. And this is just your work in progress book. I know, I found a stack of older ones upstairs,” his dad said earnestly, eyes searching.

Kurt, draw the book across the table, fingers dancing along page edges before randomly flicking the book open. The spread was a carefully arranged splash page of nautical colours and fabric samples, along with an ink sketch of a final outfit, and a photo of the final piece. He remembered wearing it the day Blaine kissed him in the choir room.

“I guess I just stopped thinking about them…” Kurt shrugged, trying to sound nonchalant and failing. “They’re just a stupid hobby.” As soon as he said those words, his throat tightened.

Stupid?” Burt repeated incredulously, “Kurt, you’ve put your heart into these. They were your dream. So, why am I having talks with Finn about colleges and the future when I’ve not heard one word about it from you?”

Kurt closed the portfolio with a snap, folding his arms as he avoided his dad’s eyes. All seniors had been distributed with pamphlets and general application advice on their second day back. Kurt’s were still stuffed at the bottom of his bag. “Maybe it’s not my dream anymore.”

His dad sighed, “Who are you trying to lie to here? Me? Or you?”

Kurt swallowed thickly, shaking his head against the tears that burned at his eyes, determined not to let them fall. He pressed his lips together, looking anywhere but the portfolio as he tried to gather himself. And even though he thought he had moved past it, he couldn’t help but hear his own hollow words, all those weeks ago, when he had tried to defend himself to Blaine’s mom. No real plans, just a vague idea of New York, and maybe something long distance.

How naïve had he been?

“I won’t abandon Blaine, not when there’s a chance for him now,” Kurt finally said.

Burt shook his head, refuting quietly, “Kurt, the whole point of these sessions with Dr Nordstorm is to give you the chance to make choices. Both of you deserve more than to be stuck in Lima for the rest of your lives. You need to take any chance you have, or you’re going to live a life of regret and, eventually, resentment.”

Unbidden, Kurt’s promise to Blaine in their darkened hospital room came back to him. A promise to follow his dreams, come what may. He let his fingers curl around the precious portfolio, “Can I think about it?”

“That’s all I ask,” his dad said, leaning back in his chair. “Dinner’s at seven.”

Kurt rose, hugging his portfolio to his chest, “Thanks Dad…”

Burt smiled, “You’re welcome. I love you Kurt, remember that I only want the best for you.”

“I love you too, Dad,” Kurt replied sincerely. He had a lot to think about.

00000

The problem was, the more he thought about it, the more overwhelmed he became. Forgetting homework, Kurt had spent the whole evening looking through his portfolios with a critical eye, flicking through his old browser bookmarks of the top colleges in fashion design in the country. He had been trying to ignore it, much as he had tried to ignore the start of senior year.

The summer had wiped all chance for dreaming away. He had been lost in a mire of heartbreak, confusion, fear, and complete immediacy that he hadn’t had a moment to think of the future, not really. If anything he had been actively trying to avoid thinking about it, because before, thinking of the future meant thinking of a world without Blaine.

But now… now there could be a future. Couldn’t there?

And most importantly, Kurt couldn’t bear the idea of growing to resent Blaine. Because if he looked at it with brutal objectivity, he knew he would.

The next day at school, Kurt knew Blaine was aware something was off, but his boyfriend didn’t press him until they were pausing at their lockers, on their way to glee club. “So, are you going to tell me what’s got you so distracted?”

Kurt’s hand stuttered, and he nearly dropped his textbook. He took a breath, closing his locker and looking into Blaine’s extraordinarily expressive eyes. Just say it, like ripping off a band-aid, “I’m going to apply to college to study fashion design. I’ve got a couple of options, but my top choice is Parsons School of Design, in New York.” Blaine blinked, clearly surprised by what probably seemed like such an out of the blue topic. Kurt ploughed on, “I’ve already looked into it, and while my portfolio could do with a bit of a refresh, I think I’ve got a really good chance of getting in. And I really want to get in Blaine…”

As soon as he said those words, he knew it was true. His dad was right. This was his dream. Just as much as Blaine was his dream. Could he really have both?

Blaine’s face was unreadable, and Kurt wasn’t sure that he felt confident enough to reach out and take Blaine’s hand right now to get a read of what his boyfriend was feeling.

Blaine shut his locker, nodding, as he said neutrally, “Well, that’s it then.”

Kurt blinked, the tone of Blaine’s voice throwing him even more. But then Blaine had his hand, and was guiding him towards the choir room. Kurt still couldn’t get a read on Blaine, even with the skin on skin contact, he was simply too nervous and worried by Blaine’s complete lack of reaction.

“Ah, Kurt, Blaine, just in time,” Mr Schue said in greeting, “We were just about to start-”

“Can I have a second, please Mr Schuester?” Blaine cut across their teacher smartly, taking everyone in the room by surprise.

Mr Schue raised an eyebrow, but gestured for Blaine to go ahead as he took a step back. Blaine guided Kurt to his seat, and Kurt was even more perplexed to see Blaine was grinning. “Blaine, what..?”  Kurt asked.

Blaine pressed a quick kiss to Kurt’s lips, before taking two steps backwards, addressing both Kurt and the rest of the club, “If you’re going to New York, then I guess I’m just going to have to come too. And what better way to get in some practice, than to join New Directions? If you guys like my audition, of course.”

Kurt’s mouth dropped. Around him, his friends were grinning, clapping encouragement. Blaine was practically glowing, grinning cheekily at him in a way that convinced Kurt that this had been planned before he had announced his college plans.

It struck Kurt as unbelievable that the confident, happy boy in front of him was the same as the quiet, shy shadow who had stepped into Kurt’s life at the beginning of the year.

And then, as Blaine sat down at the piano, Kurt realised that he had never, not once, heard Blaine sing.

The first few chords blended delicately, and Blaine’s eyes flicked to meet Kurt’s with a grin, registering the exact moment when Kurt recognised the intro.

Before you met me, I was alright,

Things were kinda heavy, you brought me to life…

Kurt had never understood what people meant, when they said what feeling a really amazing singer was like.

Now he did. And Blaine… Blaine was stunning. He swept the room up in his voice, in an indescribable energy of joy and trust and love. And it was all for Kurt.

Don’t ever look back…

TBC

Chapter Text

Kurt skidded around the corner, designer boots squeaking on the polished linoleum floor. Blaine looked up from the choir room piano, hands slipping into his lap as he smiled warmly, “Hey, I got your text, what’s up?”

For a moment, Kurt’s words failed him, heart beating wildly. His throat was tight as he simply slid a folded piece of paper over the piano top towards Blaine. Blaine’s eyes widened, reached over and pulling the paper close to him with a fingertip as if it was hazardous material. Kurt watched as his boyfriend carefully unfolded the paper, drunk in every minute expression on Blaine’s face, the Parsons logo stamped clearly at the top of the letter.

 Blaine’s eyes widened as he read the first line, and Kurt’s breath was stolen with a shock of pride-joy-excitement-love barely seconds before Blaine jumped up and swept him up into a hug. Blaine spun around as he lifted Kurt off his feet, “I knew it! Oh my god Kurt, I knew they couldn’t say no! You’re going to New York!”

Kurt laughed, tears of happiness welling in his eyes as Blaine set him down, “I can’t believe it Blaine, I actually got in! They want me…”

Blaine shook his head, pressing a kiss to Kurt’s lips in a swell of love, “They’d have been crazy if they didn’t. What did your dad say?”

Kurt grinned, still disbelieving. It had been a long waiting game, and Kurt had tried to put his applications out of his mind and just enjoy senior year with Blaine. Aside from their regular sessions with Dr Nordstrom and Dr Monroe, and Blaine’s still delicate relationship with his mom, the painful memories of their summer were finally fading in to the past.

It was nice just for once to be normal teenagers in love. Glee Club of course had supplied its fair share of drama, from the splinter group of the Trouble Tones, to Rachel’s near manic attempts to boost her extra-curriculars to help her NYADA application. Then there had been the slight set-back with Sectionals, when at the last minute not only had they already been short on members, but Dr Nordstorm decided it was too early for Blaine to try and perform in such a highly charged atmosphere.

Blaine had been disappointed and angry with himself, but Kurt had tried to remain positive. For him, just being able to watch Blaine perform in front of their friends in the safety of the choir room was something to treasure. It was all about baby steps, and he truly believed that they would get there.

But then the new year had swung around, and Quinn heard back from Yale, while Rachel got her finalist letter from NYADA. Kurt had started to think the worst, despite Blaine’s confidence that his letters were just taking a bit longer. After all, unlike NYADA, there were no interviews or auditions. Parsons offered places on the sole basis of the submitted portfolio, design project and essay, and like Blaine kept reminding Kurt, that’s a lot of material to get through.

 “Dad said pretty much the same as you, said he’d never doubted it. He wants to take me out to Breadstix to celebrate. You’re invited of course.”

Blaine grinned, looking back at the letter as if to memorise the words on the page. But then a frown crinkled his features as his arm slipped slightly down Kurt’s back in a draw of confusion. Kurt waited, carefully watching Blaine as this time he read past the first line of the letter.

“Kurt…” Blaine said slowly, “This says you’ve been accepted for spring intake next year, not this fall.”

Kurt smiled softly, “I know.”

Blaine’s head snapped up, his eyes searching Kurt’s for an answer, “I don’t understand, we agreed you wouldn’t give up your dreams for me.”

Kurt took Blaine’s hand in his, twining their fingers as he purposefully focused on how much he loved Blaine, pushing the feeling through their touch. “And I’m not. I talked it through with my dad before I submitted my applications, and we looked into it. There’s no disadvantage if I start in January, and this way I get to stay with you a little longer through your senior year, make sure we’re both going to be really ready for New York. Besides, college isn’t cheap. I could use the extra few months to save money.”

Blaine still looked uncertain, eyes flicking back to the letter, “Kurt…”

“This was my choice, Blaine,” Kurt said quietly. “Be as happy as I am?”

Blaine swallowed, leaning into Kurt as he kept one arm looped around his boyfriend’s waist. “I’m so proud of you,” he murmured, making sure Kurt felt every word. And then he smiled, finally looking up from the letter to lock eyes with Kurt’s steady gaze, “And yes, I am beyond happy for you. You’re incredible.”

Kurt raised his chin, eyes sparkling, “I know I am.”

00000

Kurt kept his eyes closed, focusing on the pressure of Blaine’s spine lined up against his as they sat back to back on the floor. Dr Monroe’s voice lilted through Kurt’s consciousness, a lulling calm of imagery and guidance that had long lost the meaning of real words since they began this little meditation.

His senses were tuned to Blaine, and he wasn’t sure if he could separate them as they floated there in their very own ocean of calm. All he knew was that Blaine was with him, that they were safe. It was peaceful.

Blaine’s hands were loose within Kurt’s, his fingers warm.

Gently, one hand broke contact, and there was a cascading flicker of anxiety from Blaine, but Kurt easily washed that away. There was nothing to worry about, he was here, they were together. Nothing could touch them.

“Well done, Blaine,” Dr Nordstrom’s deeper voice broke the spell on Kurt, “You’re doing really well.”

Kurt opened his eyes slowly, unsure how much time had lapsed since the beginning of their session. He twisted his head to look over his shoulder, careful not to move away from his position against Blaine’s back, right hand still holding Blaine’s left. Dr Nordstrom was firmly holding Blaine’s right hand, skin to skin. He must have been the one to break Kurt’s hold.

And Blaine was still sitting there, eyes still closed. His breathing was a little uneven, and Kurt could feel a second flare of sharper anxiety begin to build within Blaine as Kurt’s awareness returned completely.

Kurt shifted, breaking his hand hold with Blaine to turn, sliding his legs either side of his boyfriend so that he could wrap his arms around him, pulling them back-to-chest. Kurt rested his chin on Blaine’s shoulder, “It’s okay, I’m here, it’s okay.”

He felt Blaine’s muscles relax under his arms, and Dr Nordstrom smiled encouragingly. He seemed to be concentrating on something, but Kurt couldn’t feel anything from the man through Blaine. His boyfriend had slipped back into a calm lull, trusting Kurt to hold him in his silence.

They sat like that for another good ten minutes, until Dr Monroe started to switch up her constant stream of words, Dr Nordstrom carefully letting go of Blaine’s hand. “…and whenever you like, you can open your eyes Blaine.”

Kurt felt Blaine blink a few times, shifting as he registered Kurt’s change in position since they had started the session. Sluggishly, Blaine moved to cover Kurt’s hands with his own where they rested around his chest, “Hey.”

Kurt smiled against Blaine’s shoulder, “Hey.”

“How do you feel, Blaine?” Dr Monroe asked.

Blaine yawned, “Kinda sleepy, but good.”

“Anything else?” Dr Nordstrom prompted, “Any emotions that are not your own?”

Blaine frowned, “I don’t think so? I felt a bit weird I think at some point, but most of the time there was just Kurt.”

Dr Monroe smiled, “That’s excellent, Blaine. Kurt?”

Kurt drew back slightly, starting to become more aware at just how intimate a position he was sitting in with his boyfriend. Blaine seemed happily and purposefully oblivious to Kurt’s sudden discomfort, leaning back into him. Kurt said, “Everything just seemed peaceful to me. Blaine wasn’t very happy when you took his hand to start with, but I think I just got distracted.”

“You took my hand?” Blaine asked blankly.

Dr Nordstrom nodded, excited. “Yes. And I was projecting to you as well. But you remained shrouded. It is excellent progress from both of you.”

Blaine’s face broke into a grin, “Does this mean I can perform at Regionals?”

Dr Monroe rolled her eyes fondly; Blaine had been asking them that for the last four sessions without getting an answer. But then Dr Nordstrom nodded, “I really don’t see why not,” he held up a hand to try and curtail Blaine’s yell of excitement. “As long as you make sure you take five minutes before the show to do the exercises we’ve been practicing. It’s very important.”

Kurt grinned, “Of course, we definitely will! Thank you!”

Dr Monroe laughed, “Just make sure you win!”

00000

“Hey, what’s this?” Kurt picked up a flash drive from Blaine’s desk, running his finger over the neatly written label.

Blaine twisted, catching himself halfway through the move he had been practicing. He danced over, still keeping rhythm to the music as he wrapped himself behind Kurt, his arms warm around Kurt’s waist. “What’s what?”

“This has my name on it.” Kurt showed the flash drive to Blaine. That was all it said, just one word. KURT.

A scattered mix of shyness, nervousness, pride and embarrassment flitted through Kurt just before Blaine broke contact, taking a slight step back as he replied with badly faked nonchalance, “Oh, that’s nothing.”

Kurt smiled, catching Blaine’s wrist as he enjoyed watching the deep blush rising to colour his boyfriend’s cheeks, “Blaine.”

Blaine ducked his head, and Kurt knew that look. It was how Blaine looked whenever he was carefully measuring what he wanted to say, weighing each word in his mind before he let it out into the world and set himself up for scrutiny. “It’s… well, you know I said I want to follow you to New York next year? Well, I’ve kinda been preparing stuff early. I know I’ve got tonnes of time, but… I want it to be perfect.”

Kurt blinked, not having expected that answer. Sure, they had talked about Blaine following him in abstract terms, but they hadn’t really gotten much further than that. Kurt hadn’t wanted to push, preferring to focus on their sessions with the doctors. Blaine still hadn’t ever been to a city bigger than Columbus, let alone somewhere like New York. And if they won Regionals, they would first have to deal with Chicago. “So, what’s this got to do with it?”

Blaine’s eyes remained fixed on what must be a very interesting bedspread. “It’s my current version of one of my application scores. If I want to get into Julliard for Composition, I need to send them two samples of my work. My first is easy, you’ve heard it plenty of times when I mess about on the piano at school. I’m just going to record myself playing it. But for my second, I needed to compose it digitally.”

“And… this is it? With my name on it?” Kurt barely managed to ask, his heart swelling.

Blaine finally looked up, plucking the flash drive from Kurt’s fingers. His eyes were earnest, “It’s you. I just… you’re so amazing and no one can feel you except me and that just isn’t right. And, well… I kinda needed a whole orchestra…” Kurt’s eyebrows rose, and he was unable to verbalise how he felt in that moment. But it didn’t matter, because Blaine knew. “Would… would you like to hear it?”

Kurt nodded, overwhelmed. And then Blaine popped it into his laptop, and turned up the speakers and wow Kurt knew Blaine was talented but this was something else.

And it was him.

When the last echoes of the instruments died, Kurt was frozen in the quiet. “That’s how I feel to you?” He asked in wonder.

Blaine nodded, slipping his hand into Kurt’s, “As best as I could get it, yeah. It still needs some work but I’ve got all summer. Hopefully by application season I’ll have got it right.”

“Blaine, there is no way Julliard is going to say no to you,” Kurt said with absolute certainty, pride swelling up within him. “I had no idea…”

Blaine pressed his lips to Kurt’s shoulder with a smile and a blush, “I’m glad you like it.”

Kurt could only nod, throat stuck, and simply let Blaine sense his overwhelmed emotions. Words couldn’t have expressed how he felt anyway.

00000

Kurt sidled up to Blaine, sitting down on the piano stool in the empty choir room that had been transformed into the New Directions’ dressing room. The first group were performing right now, and their friends were outside in the audience watching. Blaine and Kurt had decided ahead of time that it was better to sit that out, just in case.

“That Cooper?” Kurt asked, leaning into Blaine’s shoulder as his boyfriend typed a reply text.

“Yeah,” Blaine smiled, a warm happiness exuding from him. “I think he’s feeling bad for not being there for my first performance.”

Kurt nodded. He had been on the Skype call last week, both of them persuading Cooper not to ditch his show for Regionals, especially as it was his first major role Off Broadway. They had reached a compromise by agreeing that Cooper would come to Nationals to watch them win, because obviously they were winning Regionals, but the older Anderson brother hadn’t been happy about it.

Still, both their parents were in the audience, and Kurt knew Blaine was excited to perform for his mom and dad.

A swell of applause echoed down the empty corridor. One more group to go, and then it would be their turn. Kurt looked at Blaine’s face carefully, watching his boyfriend carefully close his eyes and breathe against the onslaught of emotions thrumming out of the auditorium by sheer weight of people. Kurt rubbed a hand between Blaine’s shoulder blades, “You doing okay there?”

Blaine nodded jerkily, taking a moment before opening his eyes with a nervous smile that sent pre-show butterflies dancing in Kurt’s stomach. “I’m good. It’s just… big, you know?”

Kurt smiled, pressing a kiss fondly to Blaine’s temple, “Remember a year ago, our last Regionals? Think back to that, and then to where we are now.”

Blaine quirked a grin, replying deadpan. “Yeah, I know. I wanted to kiss you so badly that I went to a show choir event full of emotionally charged people I couldn’t block out, only to nearly collapse on you when you should have been on stage accepting first place. Smooth.”

Kurt huffed, bumping Blaine’s shoulder with his own, “You know what I mean. Wait, you wanted to kiss me way back then?”

Blaine rolled his eyes, “I wanted to kiss you the moment I met you at my locker. Have you seen yourself?”

Kurt bit his lip, feeling his cheeks heat up as his stomach squirmed pleasantly, Blaine’s compliment accompanied by tingles running up his arm where they sat touching side by side.

Somehow, Kurt gathered himself and his hormones. Focus. “I think it’s nearly time – the others will be here for show circle any minute. Come on, turn and face me.”

Kurt slid back on the piano bench, throwing one leg over so he was straddling it, facing Blaine as his boyfriend mirrored him. Blaine scooted forwards, their legs and ankles tangling as Kurt reached forward and rested his arms on Blaine’s shoulders, loosely linking his fingers behind his boyfriend’s neck. He watched as Blaine let his eyes slip shut once more, reached up to take a light hold of both Kurt’s wrists, anchoring himself.

Kurt studied Blaine’s face carefully, stroking the nape of Blaine’s neck with his thumb in a soothing motion. “It’s just us. There’s no one else here. Just us,” Kurt murmured, letting his voice follow a careful cadence that ebbed and flowed with the shushing of the waves between them. “I’ll always be a touch away, just dance close to me, and I’ll be right there. We’re going to be amazing Blaine, and you’re going to get on that stage beside me, with our friends. And we’re going to get our place in Nationals.”

Blaine sighed, a soft exhale through his nose, before he opened his eyes again. He lightly squeezed Kurt’s wrists with a rush of gratitude and love, and for a moment, they just existed.

Then Blaine grinned, and Kurt only had a split second warning before the other boy surged forwards in a kiss that stole the breath from Kurt’s lungs in a rush of fiery confidence. Kurt squeaked in surprise, but fell into the kiss with equal enthusiasm, uncaring if their friends walked in any second.

Too soon, Blaine broke the kiss by barely a hair’s breadth, his eyes alight with a cascade of sparks that settled deep in Kurt with a tugging desire for something more, “Let’s win this thing.”

Kurt nodded dazedly. Right.

The moment broke as their friends came sweeping into the room, and then it was all about the competition.  They took to the stage in a burst of light and song, and Kurt couldn’t have been more proud. In that moment, things were perfect. He was performing, he was doing what he loved next to the love of his life, surrounded by friends who had risked everything for him and Blaine.

In that moment they shone like stars.

So, when the first place trophy was announced, Kurt wasn’t even surprised. The New Directions had killed it, and they were going to beat everyone in Chicago too.

And when Blaine’s parents mentioned amidst the congratulations that they had a load of errands to run in Columbus, and would probably be having dinner there too, so Blaine might want to go to the Hummels following the Regionals after party that afternoon…

…both Kurt and Blaine had just nodded, sure sounds great, see you later.

But one graze of fingertips, and both knew that they weren’t especially fussed by any after party, Kurt’s lips grazing Blaine’s ear in a breath of a whisper.

It was the longest drive, followed by the tallest stairs in an empty house, but finally Kurt was able to capture Blaine’s lips in a continuation of their kiss, his back pressed against Blaine’s closed bedroom door as every nerve in his body lit up with electricity.

Kurt looped his arms to rest over Blaine’s shoulders, his words escaping with barely any air, “You take my breath away…”

Blaine smiled, his eyes adoring, and Kurt couldn’t believe that he had found this boy. “I love you, Kurt.”

Kurt reached up to cup Blaine’s cheek with his hand, overwhelmed by the echoing reverberation as their emotions fell perfectly in sync with one another’s. “I love you too Blaine.”

When Kurt had first kissed Blaine, the incredible boy in front of him had set the stars alight in a cascade of sparks. It had been scary, and impossible, and wonderful.

When Kurt had first felt, truly felt, just how much Blaine loved him, in a perfect mirror of his own feelings, Kurt had been stunned, and petrified, and overwhelmed.

That afternoon, Kurt couldn’t describe how he felt.

Everything was heat and skin and Blaine, and all Kurt could do was let himself fall into it. To let himself be swept away into the vast unending expanse of midnight blue and molten gold, as waves crashed up to catch the stars.

And as they lay there wrapped up in each other, Blaine’s lips hot on Kurt’s skin, Kurt’s finger’s tangled in Blaine’s hair, Kurt felt whole.

TBC

Chapter Text

This is the story of the boy who could not feel, and the boy who felt too much.

JANUARY

“Oh my god this is perfect!” Rachel grinned, leaning against the rough brick of the empty apartment space.

Kurt nodded, “And no more sex-crazed roomie for you.”

Rachel rolled her eyes with disgust, “There should actually be a law against it. As if I didn’t feel crappy enough about Finn, I then get landed with the freshman who not only has made it her mission to sleep through the entire student body of NYADA, but who also has the worst sense projection control.”

“How are things with you and Finn?” Kurt prompted, taking a few photos on his phone to send to his dad and Blaine later. Although for now he’d probably leave out the Bushwick part to his dad…

Rachel shrugged, “I don’t know. Okay, I guess. I just miss him, you know? Who knew long distance relationships could be so complicated. Lima’s a long way from New York, and now he’s trying so hard with his teacher training that I don’t want to be a distraction.”

“You? A distraction?” Kurt gasped, hand on heart.

Rachel shoved at his shoulder, “Shut up.”

Kurt smiled at his friend, secretly relishing the casual touch. Rachel had changed a lot during their senior year, and the summer that followed. All the glee kids had. While the events of junior year had wrought the most change on Kurt and Blaine at the centre of it all, the attitudes, actions and promises of their friends during that time had created friendships for life, and had changed the way Kurt viewed his friends forever.

When Rachel had taken those first few terrifying steps to New York by herself, it had been lonely for her. Her third week meltdown had been something to behold. Blaine had essentially shoved Kurt on a plane to New York for a week so that he could get some peace and quiet from Finn’s worried projections, who at that point was ‘giving Rachel the space she needed’.

Kurt loved his brother but honestly he could be really useless sometimes.

The week had turned out to be a blessing. Not only was Kurt able to mellow the Rachel Berry Drama Crisis Extravaganza, but he was able to check out Parsons, explore New York with his friend, and in the end, make plans to live together when he made his own way to the city in a few months.

And now he was here. And he still couldn’t believe it. Leaving Blaine back in Lima had been horrible, but the feelings of pride and love his boyfriend sent him away with made it just that slightly less painful. And besides, Blaine had (of course) got a call to come up to Julliard for his finalist interview next month, so Kurt wouldn’t have to wait too long to see him again.

That didn’t stop him from worrying, though.

“So, shall we take it?” Rachel prompted, grinning at Kurt with so much life and happiness.

“Are you kidding? I need space to store my wardrobe collection, and that is not happening on this kind of rent in Manhattan. We’re taking it,” Kurt said.

Rachel squealed, her heels echoing in the space.

00000

“Why the hell am I hearing from Brittany’s twitter that McKinley is holding a Sadie Hawkins dance?” Kurt screeched as soon as his Skype connection with Blaine kicked in.

Blaine’s eyebrows rose and he leaned back a little from the screen, “Woah, Kurt! Hi, nice to see your face too. Great that you guys have got your internet working at last. Hope your class orientation today went well.”

Kurt winced at Blaine’s acerbic tone, rubbing his face with his hand, “Sorry, sorry, I just…”

Blaine sighed, a sad smile tugging at his lips, “I know. It’s exactly why I didn’t want to tell you. This is your first week at Parsons, Kurt, you need to be throwing yourself into your new college life, not worrying about me at a stupid school dance.”

Kurt hugged his laptop closer on his lap, “I’m your boyfriend, I’m allowed to worry. And it’s not just a stupid dance…”

“Well as your boyfriend, I’m allowed to want you to enjoy yourself in your fabulous New York experience,” Blaine returned, although his eyes shone gratefully as he said it. “But, if it makes you feel any better, I’m doing okay about the whole thing. Sam and I are organising it as part of our senior class presidency, and… he’s asked me to go with him! He… he knows about the other time.”

The knot in Kurt’s stomach loosened slightly, and once again he was so grateful for how good friends Sam and Blaine were to each other. And the tentative happiness in Blaine’s face was so wonderful that Kurt couldn’t help but tease, “Blaine Anderson, I can’t believe you would throw me aside so lightly.”

Blaine shrugged casually, “Yeah, well, I always had a thing for blonds…”

Kurt snorted, but continued, “But seriously, you know you can call me anytime?”

“Of course,” Blaine smiled. “Now, are you going to tell me about your first day or am I going to have to call Rachel?”

FEBRUARY

Blaine’s leg jittered as he watched New York City slowly come into view through the train window, his nerves shot. His parents had put him on the train back in Ohio, after a long conversation that ended with the decision that Blaine travelling by himself out of state for the first time shouldn’t be in an enclosed plane.

Honestly, his parents had wanted to come with him, but Blaine had been determined to do this himself. If he was moving to New York in the fall, he needed to be independent, and that meant seeing New York as an adult. Besides, Cooper and Kurt would be waiting for him as soon as he reached Penn Station. He was going to spend an entire weekend in New York, and then on Monday and Tuesday he would be at Julliard for his interviews.

He couldn’t wait to fall into Kurt’s arms.

His phone buzzed with a message from Cooper, Your boyfriend doesn’t have any nails left. Save him from himself.

Blaine grinned, typing back, Please restrain him. Train only 5 mins away see you soon!!!

A man walked through the carriage, his tired boredom scratching away Blaine’s excitement, and Blaine’s smile dropped as his squeezed his phone far too tightly. Breathe, breathe. Nearly there.

Blaine waited until most of the other passengers had alighted ahead of him, and carefully climbed off the train, his steps stuttering as he headed for the escalators up to the main station concourse. He kept a white knuckled grip on his bag, arms tucked closely to his body as he tried to skirt through the crowd.

God, so many people, so many… Chicago hadn’t been this much, had it? Of course, in Chicago, Kurt had been a constant presence.

He barely realised when he stopped walking, and he was definitely breathing too fast. There was just so much. And it all pressed down, suffocating him as he stood there trying and failing to summon the shadow of the calm he usually managed to maintain at school and he couldn’t do this. He really couldn’t he was going to fail how could he have been so stupid-

But then the pressure released as a body impacted his, warm, solid and sure, familiar arms wrapping tight around him and pulling him away from the tidal waves that sucked around him. His shoulders slumped, and he wrapped shaking arms around Kurt’s back, letting himself just exist in the moment, breathing in Kurt’s scent.

A hand cupped the back of his head, bright brushstrokes of pride blotted slightly with tinges of blue worry. Blaine pulled back in Kurt’s arms, looking up at his brother, “Hey.”

Cooper shook his head, “Way to give us both a heart attack, squirt.”

Blaine tightened his arms around Kurt, with every passing moment feeling more like himself. “Sorry, long journey.”

Kurt surrounded Blaine with love and a complete sense of safety, not bothering with preamble as his gaze ran over his boyfriend critically, “I think we should probably stay holding hands for the rest of the day… I don’t want to see you float away like that again.”

Blaine smiled, trying to make light of it, “Well, that won’t be hard. I’ve missed you.”

Kurt still didn’t look convinced that Blaine was okay, but Cooper rolled with it as he always did, “Well, I know you’re staying with Kurt this weekend, but before you get settled I know the best pizza place in the West Village, so how about I treat you guys to some lunch? You haven’t lived until you’ve had New York pizza.”

00000

Kurt squeezed his hand, infusing Blaine with confidence. Blaine’s eyes remained fixed on the closed door. “You don’t have to wait with me…”

Kurt sighed, shifting closer to Blaine, drawing their clasped hands into his lap. Blaine had been saying the same thing all morning, despite having already been granted special dispensation to have Kurt wait with him before his interview. He didn’t want to be a bother…

His boyfriend had refused to listen to Blaine, stating that under no circumstances was Blaine going to go to his interview, let alone on the subway, by himself. Kurt wasn’t going to be allowed in, of course, but Julliard had been made aware of Blaine’s unique situation early on in the application process. If he was accepted, they had even agreed that he would be allowed to live out of dorms, something freshmen weren’t normally allowed to do.

If he was accepted… “Stop it,” Kurt murmured fondly as Blaine’s nerves danced between them, “Just be yourself. You know those two scores off by heart. They’re a piece of you. Talking about how and why you wrote them with a bunch of other music geeks for an hour is going to be a cake walk. And I will be waiting right outside the whole time. I told you, I don’t have classes on Mondays.”

“Music geeks,” Blaine repeated flatly. “Kurt, the people in there are some of the most musically savvy and talented in the world!

“And they will love you,” Kurt cut Blaine off before he could start panicking himself, and Blaine sighed, leaning into his boyfriend’s touch to soak up Kurt’s belief.

Their weekend had been so amazing, as Kurt showed Blaine the lights of New York, his hand a constant within Blaine’s. Blaine had nearly let go of all his interview nerves as he just enjoyed being back with Kurt, in a city he had never thought he would see, let alone possibly live in.

The door opened with a rasping creak, and another prospective student hurried out, their emotions scattered with a stress that didn’t quite take root in Blaine, Kurt still squeezing his hand and keeping him stable.

“Blaine Anderson,” a sharp, professional voice floated through the open door, notes of discordant intrigue and curiosity to meet the next candidate threading neatly into the call.

Blaine took a steadying breath, and Kurt dropped a good luck kiss on his cheek in a burst of confidence, “Knock them dead.”

MARCH

Kurt wasn’t sure what was worse. Was it the way the crowds parted like the red sea when he walked down a crowded sidewalk? Was it the bordering on fearful looks that came from classmates taken by surprise? Or perhaps was it the knowing look of his lecturers, those who remembered him from that sensational news story nearly two years ago?

You would think a lifetime of school hallways in Ohio would have prepared him for the feeling of complete freakishness, but the horrible realisation still hooked in the back of his throat.

He hadn’t told Blaine, however many times Rachel and Santana encouraged him to. There was really no point worrying him, and besides, what was he supposed to say? At this point, the idea of moving to New York, of finally grasping the possibility of a future that didn’t involve drugs and a slow descent into sense control deterioration… it was the most important dream Blaine had.

Rachel and Santana tried to help as much as they could, both describing how out of place they had felt when they first arrived in the city. And they made an effort to reach out, little touches, here and there. While Kurt had never thought he would see the day, he had really started to rely on Santana, despite his reservations when she moved herself in soon after Blaine’s audition at Julliard.

Not only were they good at keeping each other distracted, Santana was also better than Rachel at being around Kurt, her control over her Sensitivity honed from her relationship with Brittany. Often she would just flop down on the sofa next to Kurt, watching junk TV with snide comments, her elbow grazing his.

And as the loneliness and stress of people being generally sucky began to get to Kurt more and more, the girls kept him sane.

New York City was supposed to be the city of dreams. The city where anyone could fit in and be accepted…

“Do I need to call Rachel? Because seriously if you’re about to get weepy on me, I’m tagging out,” Santana cut into his thoughts, her voice surprisingly gentle for words so apparently uncaring. It was late, and they were hanging out after Santana’s long shift at the Spotlight Diner while Kurt listlessly scrolled through eBay with the vague hope of finding inspiration and potential bargains.

Kurt shook himself, “No, no I’m fine. Just thinking.”

“Don’t exhaust yourself.” When Kurt didn’t bite back, Santana sighed, “They’re just jealous, you know.”

Kurt blinked, taken aback by the random comment, “What? Who are?”

“All those assholes in your classes. I mean, sure, the general New York crowds and tourists, they’re just being ignorant and think you’re a freak, but who gives a crap about them? You never have before and, bonus, you’re way less likely to be followed home by the crazies on our block. The ones at your gay runway school though? They’re just massively intimidated, and it’s made even worse by how they have no freaking clue what’s going on behind your fashionably forward layering choices. I should know, I’ve been there,” Santana shrugged.

Kurt stared at his friend’s blunt delivery. “I’m sorry, let me get this straight. Are you telling me that Santana Lopez, the self-professed Lima Heights head bitch of McKinley, used to be jealous and intimidated by me?

“Don’t go on about it,” Santana sniped, folding her arms defensively. “I mean, I don’t know why you’re surprised. You were easily one of New Directions’ strongest members, and that was all without the obnoxious projecting that Rachel used to do before she became more controlled. And no one knew what you were thinking. You were the only person in that hellhole who wasn’t drowning in teen angst and had a completely put together life.”

Kurt laughed incredulously, “I did not have anything together.”

“Well, sure I know that now. No one sane would have pulled what you pulled with Blaine at Dalton. But before that, you just seemed to know exactly what you were doing, and not only that you were good at it. So sure, I was jealous,” Santana smiled in a rare moment of heartfelt honesty.

“I don’t know what to say…” Kurt said quietly, eyes searching his friend’s face.

Santana rolled her eyes, nudging his thigh with her foot, “Don’t get sappy on me, Hummel. Just promise me that when you’ve kicked all those ignorants to the curb and are running some ridiculous fashion house years from now, that you’ll give me all the freebies.”

Kurt smiled, “Deal.”

APRIL

With the first, his breath was stolen.

With the second, his muscles seized.

Gunshots don’t sound like they do on TV. They sound fake. Because why would there be a gun?

If it hadn’t been for Sam, he probably wouldn’t have moved. He would have just sat there.

Blaine had never felt anything like it.

Crowd projection was something he had grown used to, and with Kurt’s help even learnt to acknowledge while still keeping his sense of self.

But that was at Show Choir competitions, where everyone is having fun. That was in cities, where there were loads of people but the impact was diffused by everyone experiencing different thoughts and feelings.

This time… there is something entirely alien and invasive when a whole school full of hundreds of students and teachers is shocked through with utter, heart stopping panic. It crashed over him, wave upon wave upon wave, building and building and feeding in a crescendo of terror that hit Blaine with such a force that he hadn’t had a hope, because he was already feeling the exact same thing.

His feet tangled and stumbled, Sam’s hand scrunched tight in the scruff of Blaine’s shirt as he dragged him across the room. Someone had moved the piano, gotten Artie out of his chair. Someone had turned off the lights, locked the doors, someone knew what to do.

Blaine’s legs folded, the world skipping as he squeezed his eyes shut, curling into a ball as if making himself smaller might stop the onslaught of hysteria.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

The metronome picked a steady rhythm, echoing. Blaine grasped onto the sound like a lifeline, desperately trying to block out everything else.

He wished Kurt was here, but was also overwhelmingly grateful that his boyfriend wasn’t anywhere near this nightmare.

Kurt…

Blaine tried to pull his phone from his pocket, but his hands were shaking too badly. He dropped it with the sound of an explosion.

“Brittany’s not here,” Sam’s voice croaked, harsh in the quiet, punching a desolate hole in Blaine’s chest. “And I haven’t seen Tina since lunch.”

Blaine’s body jerked involuntarily, a violent spasm of primal fight or flight rushing through him as lone footsteps pounded in the hall, shaking at the door handle to the choir room. He desperately wanted to unstick his tongue, plead for someone to let the terrified student in.

He couldn’t.

He was starting to feel lightheaded, a blurring static building at the base of his skull. If someone touched him now, he would be lost. He curled tighter.

Sam’s restlessness crawled like ants under his skin, and Blaine really needed his friend to get away from him now, but he couldn’t form the words to beg.

A scream that wasn’t his own bubbled in Blaine’s throat, and he bit down hard on his tongue, clapping both hands over his mouth in a desperate attempt to keep quiet, to keep it together. He desperately tried to picture Kurt’s ocean of calm and silence and safety, but it was so far out of his grasp, trickling away.

Sam was on his feet, Sam was yelling, Sam was struggling and crying and petrified and lost, wrapped in the arms of Mr Schue. Their paired terror mingled, teacher and student locked together, and Blaine felt Sam fall off the edge.

Tick, tick, tock.

“Blaine?” It was Artie. Blaine couldn’t raise his head, he had to keep in the scream. His stomach muscles contracted, dry heaves seizing his body, tears burning his eyes. “Coach Beiste, Blaine, he’s…”

Somewhere, floating, far away in the part of his mind that was still his own, Blaine found a bitter irony that after all he had been through, after all he and Kurt had overcome, this is what was going to be the thing to-

Something sharp stabbed into Blaine’s upper arm, a flooding pressure, and somehow Blaine raised his head enough to see Coach Beiste kneeling in front of him, her eyes a horrible mix of fear, guilt and determination.

Tick, tock… tock…

Blaine’s hands fell away from his mouth, his muscles loosened, and he slipped sideways into a beckoning darkness.

00000

Blaine awoke lying on his side in a dimly lit room, in an all too familiar hospital bed. But this time, there was a warm body at his back. There were arms solid around his waist, and it was quiet.

Soft lips pressed a kiss to the nape of his neck, and a voice murmured into his skin, “I’m here, you’re okay.”

Blaine’s body folded, hands clawing at Kurt’s arms, wrecked sobs taking over his exhausted body as he was finally able to experience his own shock and terror without the weight of everyone else’s suffocating him.

Kurt just held him.

When Blaine had cried himself out, Kurt gently filled in the gaps. The shooting had been an accident, no one was hurt by the gun, but in the confusion twenty eight students including Blaine, Sam and Brittany had been hospitalised with empathic shock. The only reason Blaine hadn’t spiralled completely into a full episode was because Coach Beiste had used Blaine’s emergency injector pen to knock him out. It had been a condition insisted on by Dr Nordstrom once Kurt had left for New York, and despite Blaine’s ample protests at the time, he found himself eternally grateful.

Kurt told Blaine about how he had got the call from Blaine’s mom while the school was still in lockdown, and how it had been the worst moment of his life. The Andersons had paid for Kurt’s plane ticket, and he’d been on the next flight to Ohio. He’d come straight to the hospital.

Once Kurt was there, the doctors had agreed it would be safe to let Blaine wake up under controlled conditions.

Kurt stroked his thumb over the back of Blaine’s hand, “I promised I’d hit the call button when you woke up. Are you ready?”

Blaine swallowed tightly, “Mom and Dad?”

“They’re just outside,” Kurt reassured.

“Thank you for being here with me,” Blaine mumbled. “I know you have classes.”

Kurt’s arms tightened around Blaine, a breathy laugh brushed Blaine’s neck with a tickle of fond exasperation, “There is nowhere I would rather be, Blaine. Do you think you can sit up?”

Blaine nodded, letting Kurt help his watery limbs move into an upright position as Kurt pressed the call button.

Nearly immediately, Dr Monroe opened the door, her expression professional but stricken. Her shoulders relaxed slightly as she quickly assessed Blaine with her eyes, but Blaine could already see a lot of needles and blood samples in his future before she was going to let him go anywhere.

And behind her… Blaine’s throat closed, and he found his hands shaking all over again as soon as he saw his parents.

Blaine squeezed Kurt’s hands, focussing to take comfort in the silence for a moment longer, shoring up his senses. Kurt didn’t need him to ask, offering Blaine his strength freely before letting go.

He had barely swung his legs off the bed before his mom wrapped him in her arms, her relief and love crackling warmly between them. Blaine clung on just as tightly, finally letting go of the last remnants of lingering animosity he had been holding against her, as he let his mother simply hold him. And then his dad’s large arms encompassed them both, infusing Blaine with a complete feeling of safety, a powerful wind swirling around him with a desperate relief and need to protect.

And Blaine was finally able to breathe again.

Blaine would never forget the terror of that afternoon. He would have nightmares, Sam would jump at the sound of a locker slamming, Brittany wouldn’t go to the bathroom without another Glee member, and Tina stuck to her friends like glue for the next few weeks.

But that didn’t mean they would let it define them. They had futures to live, and they’d be damned if they would be stopped. So when Kurt went tearily back to New York that weekend, Blaine was able to smile, knowing it wouldn’t be long before he followed his boyfriend to the future he was determined to have.

MAY

“Dude, he loves you, you love him, and that’s great and all but we really need to get on the bus now or we’re gonna miss our own Regionals.” Sam’s sandy blond head poked into the tiny screen, not quite touching Blaine but still comfortably encroaching on his best friend’s personal space.

Blaine scrunched his nose and rolled his eyes, “Alright, alright, I’ll be there in a second! Help Brittany find her shoe.”

Kurt raised an eyebrow at his boyfriend’s pixelated face as Sam disappeared again, “What happened to Brittany’s shoe?”

“Long story,” Blaine said exasperatedly, the screen skipping as he juggled his phone to his other hand. “But he’s right, I have to go…”

Kurt pouted, “I just wish I could be there with you guys.” It would be the first time he had missed a New Directions competition since he had joined in his sophomore year. Before today he had either been on stage or watched from the wings as he had done for this season’s Sectionals.

“I know,” Blaine said softly, and Kurt would never get sick of that smile. “But we agreed you can’t miss anymore school for me, and you’ve got your summer design piece to finish.”

“Blaine Anderson, get your cute butt on this bus now!”

Blaine winced, and Kurt laughed, “Say hi to Tina for me. Text me as soon as you’ve performed, and good luck!”

“I will, love you!” Blaine nodded, practically glowing with excitement.

“Love you too,” Kurt replied, letting Blaine end the video call, exhaling as he slumped down further into their couch.

Not only would this be the first competition he’d have ever missed, it would also be the first one since Blaine had joined the New Directions as a performer that Kurt wouldn’t be anywhere nearby. Sure, Blaine’s parents would be there, and however horrific Kurt’s reasons for going back to Ohio in April had been, it had given them a chance to refocus Blaine and settle his worn senses. But Kurt couldn’t help but worry.

He cast his gaze listlessly to the half finished dress coat draped over his tailor’s mannequin. He really should work on it, but knew he’d only make mistakes and get frustrated as his thoughts drifted to Blaine performing without him.

“Okay, I am literally getting blotchy with all these pathetic vibes you’re giving off,” Santana snapped, her heels clicking on their hard wood floors as she moved directly into Kurt’s line of sight, hands on hips.

Kurt glared up at her, unimpressed, “I don’t project, Santana.”

“With those sad eyes, you totally don’t need to,” Rachel sing-songed from the kitchen.

“Since when did you two start ganging up on me?” Kurt demanded, throwing his hands up.

“Since your grandpa act started bringing me out in hives,” Santana said, and Kurt was immediately ready to bolt because he had seen that look in her eyes before and it never boded well. “Get up, we’re going out.”

“No.”

“You don’t even know what my plan is yet!”

“I don’t need to know, Santana. I went to high school with you, and now I live with you. I’ve learnt self-preservation.”

“Come on Kurt…” Rachel dangled herself over the back of the couch, “Let us distract you? You’ve been working so hard on your project, and when you’ve not been worrying about school, you’ve been worrying about Blaine. We’re in New York. Let’s have some fun!”

“I thought you had your Funny Girl audition to prepare for?” Kurt asked, but he felt a smile creeping onto his face.

“And what better way to do that than a day in Manhattan with my two favourite New Yorkers?” Rachel grinned.

Kurt hated it when the girls won. Even more when he had to begrudgingly admit that they ended up dragging him on one of the best days he’d had since he moved to the city.

And it got even better with the all-caps text he received from Blaine while he, Santana and Rachel were fighting over pastries in Chelsea Market.

WE WON!!! NATIONALS HERE WE COME! :D LOVE YOU XXX

This then turned their great day into a long distance evening celebration, with Rachel insisting they get dressed up and head to the favourite NYADA haunt, Callbacks.

It was so nice just to let loose and enjoy the moment, and he may not have been drinking but somehow he still found the giddy courage to get up on the stage with Rachel and Santana to sing a kick-ass version of Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop The Beat, throwing back to their senior year when they had performed it in the McKinley Auditorium with all their friends.

He wished they’d asked someone to film it so they could have sent it to everyone.

As cheers and applause followed their performance, and Rachel was distracted by a couple of her NYADA friends, Kurt went to the bar to grab them all another round of drinks.

“That was incredible.”

Kurt turned to the compliment, smiling at the guy leaning casually on the bar, “Thanks! My roommate, the ridiculously short one? She’s a freshman at NYADA.”

The guy’s smile widened, eyes sparkling, his every movement exuding confidence, “Yeah, she was good, but you’re the one with the killer hips and melting voice. I’m Liam, junior at NYADA.”

Kurt choked on air, staring at the guy in utter disbelief. It took his brain a good minute to compute that he was being hit on by a hot – if rather arrogant – guy. Despite everything, he couldn’t help but feel warm and flattered. Even though he was completely not interested, it was still pretty awesome to be noticed. His manners pushed a response, “I’m Kurt, freshman fashion design major at Parsons. And thanks for your compliment, but I have a boyfriend.”

He went to pick up the drinks, but stopped when Liam rested a hand on his wrist, not quite holding him back but equally enough to stop Kurt from pulling away. And Liam wasn’t flinching at Kurt’s low ES.

“Oh yeah? And where is this elusive boyfriend of yours?” Suddenly Liam was a lot closer than he had been before, and Kurt’s heart thumped wildly in his chest. “Let me guess: innocent high school romance, brush of the fingertips, working on the long distance? Same story everywhere, babe.”

Kurt ground his teeth, but kept his tone measured. “You don’t know me, or my boyfriend. Please let go of me. I’m going back to my friends now.”

Liam scoffed, clearly not used to being rebuffed, leaning so close that his lips were dangerously close to Kurt’s ear. “Come on, do you really want to miss out on all this? Someone like you can’t get many offers, and trust me when I say I could give you the night of your life.

That was the final straw to kick Kurt into action, and he shoved Liam back. Hard. “What the hell do you mean, someone like me?” A few people were staring, and Santana and Rachel had finally noticed his predicament, but Kurt was seeing red. “So what, you think you get points because you’re willing to screw guys a bit lower on the scale? Think we’re desperate for your charity? Get over yourself, because not in your wildest dreams could you get me to scream like my boyfriend can.”

Liam seemed stunned into silence, his face reddening as he realised a good few NYADA students were watching them. Kurt felt Santana sidle up to his elbow, slipping her hand to subtly rest against his back as he stood there, breathing hard. “Wanky. You heard him ass hat, what are you even still doing here?”

Liam scowled, his mouth thin as he sneered at them, “Whatever.”

The crowd parted to let him go, and nearly immediately the bar’s buzz returned, Kurt’s altercation barely a blip on their usual night out drama. His shoulders slumped, adrenaline still tense within him.

Rachel joined them, her face worried, “You okay?”

Kurt shook himself, “I think I want to punch a wall, but I’m good. That guy was just… urgh. Sorry if I embarrassed you in front of your NYADA friends, Rachel.”

Rachel scoffed, “Are you kidding? These people live for drama. Though, I’ll be honest, I could have done without the extra detail on your and Blaine’s sex life.”

Kurt’s face flushed beetroot red, and Santana made an exaggerated gagging noise, “Yeah, remind me to buy earplugs before he moves here. I’m not dealing with that.”

“I hate you both,” Kurt deadpanned, but he let himself be pulled back to their seats with a smile, refusing to let one asshole guy ruin his brilliant day. He pulled out his phone as Rachel took to the stage once more for a solo.

Love you so much :) Can’t wait for our Skype date tomorrow. Want to hear all about regionals. And tell you about my day with the girls! Xxx

Love you too! Though do I want to know why Santana just sent me a text to remind me your loft doesn’t have sound proofing? Xxx

I’m going to kill her. As my boyfriend it’s your job to help me hide the body.

JUNE

“I think you’ve officially wiped the Lima Bean out of vanilla syrup,” Wes said with a grin, setting Blaine’s coffee in front of him as he sat down.

Blaine rolled his eyes, enjoying his friend’s fascinated disgust as he took a sip. He had missed this. Despite Blaine’s less that pleasant time at Dalton, and his determination to never set foot near the place again, Wes had become one of Blaine’s closest friends. Throughout Blaine’s junior year, while Wes was finishing off his preparation year at Dalton, they had met up frequently. Sometimes David and Nick came along too, even Jeff on his good days. He had never been as high up the scale as Blaine, and was allowed to leave campus as long as he was with Nick. And even if Blaine felt guilty for what he had with Kurt whenever he saw Jeff, his friend was quick to remind him that he was simply happy Kurt had been there for Blaine when he had.

Besides, if it hadn’t been for Blaine, there would have been no way that Dalton would have enrolled in what was promising to be an incredibly successful sense therapy trial, spearheaded by Dr Nordstrom as part of his tenure in Columbus.

Dalton was a lot more pet friendly nowadays.

“You just wish you had my metabolism,” Blaine grinned cheekily, and Wes shook his head with a smile, his precise conduction of humour, fondness, and contentment carefully flowing around Blaine’s senses. Wes had always been good at controlling his emotions without turning himself into the unreadable quiet of most sense professionals, but now he was brilliant at it. “So…”

Wes raised an eyebrow at Blaine, “So?”

“Are you going to tell me about Cornell or not?” Blaine exclaimed, knowing Wes was enjoying stringing him along.

Wes had just got back from the end of his freshman year at Cornell University, having finally begun his long medical school journey to reach his goal to specialise in Empathic Sensitivity. Blaine had been able to see his friend briefly at Christmas, but Wes hadn’t been back since as the university put its new students through a gruelling first year of training.

Wes gave up his pretence, a crescendo of achievement and excitement accompanying his reply, “It’s amazing, Blaine. I mean – don’t get me wrong – parts of it are hell on earth, and I didn’t even know it was possible to be that tired, but… I’m finally on my way, you know? And everyone in my class is great. Well, there’s this one guy who I’m like 90% sure is sleeping with our neurology professor, but…”

Blaine nearly spat out his coffee at Wes’ blasé delivery, asking in wonderment, “Aren’t you in a school full of baby sense doctors? How does he think he’ll get away with something like that?”

“Sheer faith and determination?” Wes offered.

“Anyone you sleeping with?” Blaine asked slyly, enjoying the brief forte of blind panic, incredulity and exasperation from Wes before he regained control.

“What is it with you and David?” Wes moaned, “I remember a time when me simply mentioning Kurt would make you blush so red you looked like you’d stayed out in the sun too long, and now you’re coming out with stuff like that? Where is the justice? You’re supposed to be an innocent high school student!”

Blaine simply smirked, enjoying seeing his usually composed friend so flustered.

“Fine. Her name is Teresa, she’s from Massachusetts, I met her in my second week of classes, and I’m spending a week this summer staying with her on an official meet the parents visit. And that’s all you’re getting from me,” Wes folded his arms stubbornly, but there was a warmth in his voice that made Blaine smile. “Maybe if you’re nice, I’ll bring her with me on one of my visits to you in New York.”

Blaine’s smile dropped, but he still said sincerely, “I’m really happy for you, Wes.”

Wes frowned, a diminuendo of concern dampening their playful conversation. He asked softly, “Still no news from Julliard?”

Blaine shrugged, “Letters went out late last week. Kurt keeps reminding me what I was telling him when he was waiting for his Parsons letter.”

“No news is good news?” Wes said wryly.

Blaine groaned, “I’m surprised he didn’t lock me in a closet to get me to shut up. It’s officially the worst saying ever. Can we talk about something else?”

Wes looked like he was going to say something, but instead let it slide, and the two friends spent the next couple of hours catching up on everything, from the upcoming Nationals competition and Blaine’s graduation, to Kurt’s imminent return home for the summer and the latest news from their friends still at Dalton.

They were kicked out at closing, and Wes drove Blaine home with a promise to wrangle the other Dalton guys for a proper reunion that weekend.

“I’m home- argh, Molly!” Blaine tripped over his own feet and cat in a tangle as he came in the front door, catching himself on the sideboard. Molly was unapologetic, as usual, so Blaine dumped his bag on the floor and scooped her up for a cuddle. Her purring rumbled into Blaine’s chest, and despite how far he had come in the last two years, he still relished her ability to wash away the complexities of the outside world and calm his tired senses.

When Kurt had left for New York, Blaine had relied heavily on his parents, Molly, and his friends. Throughout Kurt’s senior year, and for the beginning of Blaine’s, the boys had worked incredibly hard to get to a place where Blaine could keep himself stable and together without the need of Kurt’s immediate touch. It had been difficult and often demoralising, but Blaine had been proud to watch his boyfriend leave for New York knowing everything that they had achieved. Of course there were still bad days, and sometimes the idea of following Kurt to New York downright terrified Blaine, but he was determined to have the future he dreamed of, ES 4.8 be damned.

“Good time with Wes?” His dad came into the hallway, followed by his mom, and they were both just standing there being really weird, giving off a strange anticipation.

Blaine frowned, “Yeah, it was great to see him and catch up. What’s going on?”

Molly twitched and wriggled in Blaine’s arms, shifting herself to sit half over Blaine’s shoulder, and then he noticed the envelope in his mom’s hands.

“This came for you,” Mom smiled, unable to contain sparks of excitement as she held out a sealed envelope, carefully stamped with Julliard’s crest.

Blaine stared at the envelope in her hand, and now that it had arrived, he suddenly didn’t want to open it. Molly had other ideas, clambered up his shirt to balance precariously on his shoulders, freeing up his hands.

“Open it Blaine,” Dad prompted softly. “Whatever it says, the fact remains that you defied the odds, went to New York City, and had an audition with one of the top music schools in the country. And we are so, so proud of you.”

Shakily, Blaine took the envelope, carefully tearing it open and removing the neatly folded paper. He took a breath, part of him wondering if he should be doing this somewhere more auspicious than his hallway.

Dear Blaine,

Congratulations! It gives me tremendous pleasure to inform you-

Blaine’s heart stopped, “I got in… Oh my god, I got in!

Molly leapt to the floor just in time as his dad rushed forwards and crushed Blaine into his arms with a shout and burst of pride. His mom was crying, but she was also laughing, sweeping Blaine up the moment his dad released him, her emotions all over the place as she sparked with shock, pride, and overwhelming hope for the future she never thought her youngest son would have.

Blaine wasn’t sure if he was cry laughing because he felt like it or because of his parents, but just this once he didn’t care to try and work it out.

JULY

The summer was Kurt’s favourite time of year.

This was a new development of course. If you had asked him when he was five, you would have got every kid’s answer – Christmas, duh. And if you’d asked him when he was a round-faced freshman in high school, he would had to have said the fall, because who didn’t enjoy a season that offered the perfect balance of fashionable layers without making you look like an overstuffed marshmallow?

Before, summer had simply meant being at constant risk of sunburn, always feeling sweaty and gross, and helping out at his dad’s shop once in a while.

But now, summer meant being able to come back to Lima for a couple of weeks. Summer meant Blaine. And summer meant having Kurt’s house to themselves during the day without the constant paranoia of parents that had plagued them for the long months at the beginning of Blaine’s senior year.

So sure, he still felt sweaty and gross, but now? Not only did he have a healthy new appreciation for it, he was also starting to think that layers were considerably overrated.

A meagre breeze twitched the curtains, pulled mostly closed over the open window. Baking afternoon sun filled the room with a deep red filtered against the curtain fabric, and Kurt stretched languidly, kicking his feet free of the rumpled sheet.

Kurt shifted onto his side, leaning back into a pillow as he propped himself up on his elbow. Blaine sighed softly, but didn’t wake from where he dozed. His beautiful boyfriend was sprawled out naked on his stomach, head resting on his arms, sheet draped almost artfully across the back of his thighs.

Gently, Kurt began delicately tracing the line of Blaine’s spine with a fingertip, never getting bored of their little reality where this was what they got to have.

Stars shivered at Kurt’s feather-light touch, and Blaine made a noise in his throat before mumbling pathetically, “It’s too hot.”

Kurt arched an eyebrow, “That wasn’t what you were saying an hour ago. I seem to recall I was the voice of reason, but you were too horny to listen.”

“And now we’re all gross and I don’t want to move but we have to because otherwise in a few hours I’ll never be able to look your dad in the face again… Why didn’t you make me listen?” Blaine blinked adorably up at Kurt, exaggeratedly pouting. He rolled slightly onto his side, reaching to rest his palm loosely against Kurt’s chest, fingertips lightly stroking Kurt’s overheated skin.

Kurt laughed, moving his hand up to tangle into Blaine’s curls, still sticky with the remnant of that morning’s hair gel, “Because however excited I am for you to join me in New York, while we’re in Lima I’m going to take advantage of our freedom as much as possible, without worrying about unpredictable roommates who lack boundaries.”

Blaine gasped, “Kurt Hummel, I can’t believe you would so brazenly admit to taking advantage of me! The big city has changed you.”

Leaning down to steal an unhurried kiss, Kurt smiled against Blaine’s lips, their bodies pliant in the afternoon heat, sinuous strands of leisurely want and arousal flickering between them. “Don’t worry. I’ve still got a thing for my small town sweetheart.”

Kurt let his lips trace down the column of Blaine’s throat, part of him still marvelling at how comfortable they both could be with each other, as his boyfriend sighed staccato, too-warm hands finding purchase in sparks against Kurt’s skin.

Kurt let his forehead drop to Blaine’s shoulder with a soft groan, “You’re right. It’s too hot.”

Blaine whined, actually whined. His boyfriend was ridiculous. “Seriously, Kurt?”

“Seriously. I need a shower – there is only so much of this heat I can take.” Kurt pulled back to drink in Blaine’s expression, eyes hazed and emotions strung out. Impulsively, Kurt nipped at Blaine’s shoulder as he moved to get up, before looking back at his boyfriend expectantly. “Well? Are you going to join me?”

Summer was definitely Kurt’s favourite time of year.

AUGUST

“Okay, how is this door acceptable security? Seriously, are you guys paying Santana to be your live-in bodyguard or something, because that’s literally the only explanation I have right now.”

Blaine looked up from where he lay across the sofa, Molly curled up heavy on his chest. Molly’s ear twitched, and she let out a disgruntled meow at Cooper, who was still examining the industrial door critically. Cooper turned around, raising an eyebrow at the picture that Blaine and Molly presented. “Wow. Hello to you too, princess. Blaine, your cat needs an attitude adjustment. I thought Dad said she’d been cool with the move last week?”

This was the first time Cooper had been able to make it round to the Bushwick apartment since Blaine had moved in with Kurt and Santana a week ago, just before the start of Julliard orientation at the end of the month.

After some discussion, and following the drama of Santana’s fleeting casting as Rachel’s understudy in Funny Girl, Rachel had moved into a small place not far away in Bed-Stuy. Sam would be moving in with her next week when he came up to New York to start pursuing his dream of male modelling, with Artie following shortly after to start film school. And while Rachel and Santana’s friendship still felt a little bit like walking on broken glass, it was getting better, and everyone seemed to be settling into the idea of the new extended New York living arrangement.

Blaine let his head fall back on the sofa cushion, fingers still buried in Molly’s fur as he tried to settle the tight knot of anxiety that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in his stomach since he’d moved to New York.

Thursday had been Mom and Dad.

Friday had been Kurt.

Saturday and Sunday had been Kurt and Santana.

Monday had been Rachel.

Today was Cooper.

Blaine wanted to scream.

He sat up, holding Molly in his arms for a moment longer, pressing his nose into her soft fur before putting her down. “Molly’s fine. Let me just get my bag.”

A dark splodge of confusion and worry marred the bright canvas, and Blaine could feel his brother’s eyes on him. “Hey, what’s going on? Everything okay? Do you want to skip?”

Blaine gritted his teeth, keeping his back to his brother as he tried to keep himself contained. Because in the back of his mind, he knew he should be grateful, grateful that he had been able to make it this far. What gave him the right to want more, when so many other people like him didn’t have that luxury?

Of course he didn’t want to skip. He wanted to go to class like a regular freshman. He wanted to make a good impression on his supervisor, he wanted to get lost on the subway on his way home, he wanted to go to get coffee with the bubbly girl he’d met in Music Theory yesterday, and god he just wanted for once to be able to shake hands with one of the many new people he was introducing himself to.

But he couldn’t say any of that. Not to Cooper, not to his parents, and definitely not to Kurt. Everyone had sacrificed so much to help Blaine get to where he was now, and he refused to throw that back in their faces. Logically, he knew the schedule was for his own good. He understood that he couldn’t be allowed to wander out into Manhattan by himself, and he knew that he should be incredibly grateful that the people in his life cared so much to make sure he got to class with his sanity intact.

He just had to ignore how it made him feel like inconvenient baggage being passed from one set of hands to another. The feeling would pass, he would get over it, he wouldn’t let this get to him.

The feeling of being trapped, of suffocating, of the walls closing in-

No.

Blaine plastered a smile on his face, and focused on the positive. Today was his first Composition Lab, and he was determined to enjoy it. He brought those emotions to the surface, using the techniques he had been practicing for two years with Kurt and his doctors to push away the darker undertones.

“Don’t be over-dramatic Coop, I’m fine. Come on, let’s go!”

00000

Blaine managed to keep up his determined state of forced positivity until Friday night.

He wasn’t even sure what had been the final tipping point. Maybe the late summer storm had cast a mood over the apartment. Maybe with Santana working a shift and not there to balance them out, things had escalated further than they would have. Maybe their combined exhaustion from the first week of classes had hit Kurt and Blaine harder than they had expected.

“If you’d told me you didn’t like chickpeas, I would have used something different so they didn’t go to waste,” Kurt said.

It was such an innocent comment, and honestly, Blaine knew Kurt hadn’t meant anything by it. But that hadn’t stopped his mouth, “Well I didn’t ask you to cook for me.”

Kurt’s eyes snapped up, and Blaine felt the sucking receding of Kurt as his boyfriend reined in any stray emotions that might cloud the situation. Blaine hated that Kurt had that ability, when Blaine had no such luxury. At least Kurt wasn’t touching him right now, so he couldn’t feel the poison festering under Blaine’s skin. “I’m sorry, what’s that supposed to mean?”

Blaine slumped back in his chair, dropping his fork onto his plate with a clatter, appetite gone, “Nothing.”

Kurt’s mouth was set in a thin line, his eyes dark and unreadable, “It’s clearly not, or you wouldn’t have said anything.”

Blaine shrugged, fully aware that he was bordering on petulant, but not having the energy to care anymore. “Maybe I thought I’d be moving in with my boyfriend, not just another parent!”

“What are you talking about?” Kurt snapped, his voice rising to match Blaine’s.

“You seriously don’t see it? You’ve cooked for me every night this week-”

“I enjoy cooking-”

“You’re constantly asking me how my classes are going, if I’m okay, are you okay, how are you feeling-”

“Well I’m sorry for caring!”

“Had any meltdowns on the subway yet, Blaine, hey Blaine I’ve arranged with Santana to babysit you while I’m out, no you don’t need to buy groceries Blaine, we’ll go in an hour when I’m free, I don’t want you walking round the goddamn block by yourself-”

“Bushwick isn’t Lima! And you make me sound like some sort of jailer!”

Aren’t you?” Blaine screamed, dimly aware that he was on his feet, and Kurt was too.

Kurt had frozen in place, and he honestly looked like Blaine had slapped him. “Blaine…”

Blaine couldn’t breathe, he didn’t want to find out what Kurt was feeling, he was too busy drowning in his own anxiety as the weight of the last week pressed down on him and he just needed to get away.

He was nearly at the door when a wave of utter terror and panic hit him so hard that Blaine stumbled, catching himself on the back of the door before he fell. The wave withdrew nearly immediately, and because it was Kurt’s, nothing was left behind in Blaine besides a strange hollow feeling.

Kurt gasped, “Oh god, Blaine, I’m so sorry!”

Blaine didn’t turn, stomach twisting as he began to regret his anger-fuelled words. Finally he spoke into the leaden silence, “I’m fine. You know you can’t hurt me like that. You just took me by surprise.”

Kurt’s footsteps came tentatively closer behind him, but not close enough to touch. “I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but you know you can’t go outside right now, not when you’re this upset,” Kurt said quietly. “I think we need to talk, but if you want some space, I can go stay round Rachel’s tonight if you like?”

“I’m so stupid…” Blaine muttered bitterly, spitting out the words that had been a lump in his throat since he had arrived in New York.

“What?” Kurt asked, his voice so calm and patient that it only made Blaine feel even worse.

Blaine finally turned, leaning back against the metal of the door, sliding down to sit on the floor. Kurt crouched in front of him, keeping them eye level but still not touching.

And then it all came spilling out.

“I thought I could do this, I actually started to believe I was getting better. When you left, and I stayed in Lima, I was okay. It was hard, but I was doing more than coping and it was like… I was a real teenager. But since I got here, it’s like all the progress I made has been wiped out in a week, and I’m back to square one – a complete train wreck who can’t be left alone for five minutes without being at risk of a full meltdown…” Blaine buried his fingers in his hair, uncaring of the gel, propping his elbows on his knees as he tried not to cry. “I just… I want to be normal. I don’t want to be the reason you can’t go out with your friends after class, I don’t want Cooper to let his understudy perform on Tuesdays, I don’t want Santana to take Thursday graveyard shifts so she’s free on Friday mornings. I just want one day where I can be a college freshman without this thing hanging over me.”

Finally, he looked back up at his boyfriend. Kurt was kneeling with a devastated look on his face, silent tears staining his cheeks, and Blaine’s heart broke even more. Why did he always do this to them? Why was he always the cause of their pain?

“Can I sit with you?” Kurt asked softly. Blaine nodded, throat too tight as Kurt scooted over to settle next to Blaine against the door. There was a brief hesitation, but then Kurt wrapped his arm around Blaine’s shoulders and pulled him into his side. Blaine felt his muscles relax with the touch as a quiet, sorrowful love ebbed between them. “I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with this all week. I wish you’d felt like you could talk to me sooner.”

“I just want this to work so badly,” Blaine mumbled. “I’m so sorry I said those things to you, Kurt, I didn’t mean them, I just…”

“You felt trapped, and I was the closest target when it all came bursting out,” Kurt finished for him. “It’s okay to feel overwhelmed Blaine. Do you think I didn’t freak out when I first moved here? And you know all about Rachel’s meltdown. It’s normal. Okay, sure, you’ve got a lot more to deal with than the average freshman, but you’ve overcome a lot worse. You just need to adjust, and that’s what we’re all here for – our friends, your brother, and me. But you need to talk to us, please don’t keep it all bottled up.”

Blaine felt a wry tickle of fondness from Kurt, and he couldn’t help but smile weakly, “Baby steps?”

“Baby steps,” Kurt confirmed, taking Blaine’s hand softly to press a warm kiss to his knuckles.

SEPTEMBER

DEFCON 1 THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!!

Kurt stared at his phone for a good few minutes, resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. Sometimes, he was convinced that only Blaine was able to decipher the mystery that was Sam Evans’ brain.

But then Artie sent a message to their group New York chat.

ABORT SAVE YOURSELF

And Tina, who okay wasn’t actually in New York but had been added to the chat group because the younger boys had been missing her, sent:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shortly followed by a recipe for chicken broth.

And, seriously, now Kurt was getting the feeling he was missing something important.

He tapped out a quick message as he walked to the subway, too drained from a long day of prep design work to deal with the bizarre antics of his friends.

 Are you all high? What are you talking about?!

Santana filled him in.

 Sam is freaking out because your boyfriend mentioned he’s starting to get a sore throat. Who knew trouty was such a germophobe?

Rachel popped into the chat.

Sam you’d better make sure to wash your hands as soon as you get home, I’m not getting sick this close to opening night!

Sam ignored Rachel in favour of replying to Santana.

YOU WEREN’T THERE SANTANA, YOU DON’T KNOW

…You guys are aware that I’m in this group too, right? Blaine finally weighed into the chat.

Kurt sighed, finally catching up to Sam's melodrama. He dropped his phone into his bag as he went underground to start his journey home, already making a mental list of a few things he’d need to pick up from the drugstore.

Colds and flu were typical experiences for any college student moving to a new town, entering a festering pot of germs and bacteria. It was practically a freshman rite of passage.

Except, Kurt could really do with Blaine missing out on that, and if that meant buying his boyfriend as much preventive cold medicine as possible, that was precisely what he was going to do.

Not long into Blaine’s senior year, he had picked up a nasty cold. His parents had pulled him out of school after barely one day, but that had been ample time for absolute bedlam to break out in the choir room and McKinley. Kurt had moved into the Anderson’s home for a week, much to the relief of Blaine’s mom. It had actually been a blessing in disguise, as it had given Kurt time to bond with Emily Anderson following their rocky start earlier that year.

But that didn’t mean Kurt wanted to repeat the experience.

Unfortunately, by the time he got home it was clear that the inevitable was coming.

“Hello?” Kurt called as he slid the door closed behind him, immediately seeing Santana sitting at the kitchen table. She looked incredibly pale, her mouth pressed in a thin line as she rubbed at her temples. “Wow, Santana. You look like crap.”

“Sam left as soon as he sent the first message,” she said shortly. “Blaine’s in your room.”

Kurt nodded sympathetically, “Don’t take this the wrong way Santana, but you might want to stay with Rachel, Sam and Artie until this blows over.”

Santana shook her head incredulously, “This is ridiculous. He’s barely sniffling, but I feel nervous and woozy, and he’s starting to worry that it’s not just a cold, because then he’ll have to go to hospital, and god I can’t think straight and it’s like I’m sick but I’m not sick and who the hell projects this bad?”

“Blaine does,” Kurt shrugged, already resigning himself to damage control as he dumped his purchases on the table. “Have you seen Molly?”

“Hiding in my laundry basket last I saw her, I don’t think she’s feeling that hot either,” Santana groaned, resting her head in her arms.

Kurt sighed. Yep, Blaine was sick. It was the only time Molly avoided him. He was tempted to ask Santana to take the cat with her, but knew Molly wouldn’t allow it, however uncomfortable Blaine’s projection got for her. “Okay, get up, pack a bag. Even if Rachel kicks up a fuss, Sam and Artie will force her to respect the quarantine. They’ve dealt with this before.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll be fine, he doesn’t affect me like he does everyone else. On the bright side, at least this’ll keep our crazy neighbours away.”

Leaving Santana to her sluggish packing, Kurt walked over to the curtained off ‘bedroom’ that he shared with Blaine. His boyfriend was sitting fully clothed in bed reading one of his course books, making notes. He looked up when Kurt came in, smiling wanly as he greeted Kurt, “Santana fill you in?”

Blaine already sounded slightly too nasally. He was definitely on his way to a lovely little head cold.

Kurt nodded, sitting down on the bed, “She didn’t have to – I just took one look at her. You’re already starting to project.”

Blaine groaned dramatically, head thudding back against the wall, “I don’t even feel that bad. I could easily go to classes.”

“That’s what you said last time,” Kurt pointed out, struggling to keep a straight face. “Want me to make some tea? And I’ve got some extra strength cold medicine. I know how you feel about drugs, but maybe if we let that knock you out for a few days you’ll be able to get back to class by Thursday.”

Blaine grimaced, and Kurt could already tell his boyfriend was resigned to a week of quarantine.

00000

Kurt was jerked out of sleep by a bolt of alien fear, followed quickly by a solid kick to his shin, and only just moved his hand up to block a flailing arm before Blaine hit him square in the face. Immediately, Kurt scrambled to sit up, “Blaine! Blaine wake up!”

Blaine struggled in the tangle of sheets, and Kurt somehow managed to get a hold around Blaine’s middle, pinning his arms. Blaine was mumbling, caught in sleep, too lost to wake up. Focusing, Kurt pulled Blaine closer to him. Calm, quiet, silence, calm, quiet, silence…

Slowly, Blaine struggles ceased as he began to relax in Kurt’s arms, and he felt his boyfriend start to wake up. “K’rt? What time ‘s it?”

Blaine’s voice was scratchy, and he sounded exhausted. Kurt rubbed his hands up and down Blaine’s arms, soothing, “A little past 2am. You have a nightmare?”

As well as losing control on his emotional projections, Blaine was also more vulnerable to other people when he was sick, particularly when asleep. Normally the dubious neighbours and nightlife of Bushwick didn’t even register on Blaine’s senses, but at the moment he was raw and over-sensitive.

“People are loud…” Blaine complained miserably.

Kurt smiled fondly, brushing a sweaty curl away from Blaine’s forehead. “I know, honey. Do you think you can get back to sleep?”

Blaine coughed, but let Kurt pull him back to lie back down, snuggling into Kurt’s arms. The whole while, Kurt kept a careful focus on keeping Blaine in their little ocean of calm and quiet. It seemed to sooth Blaine, and definitely helped calm Kurt after his adrenaline-fuelled wakeup call.

“Thanks for loving me even when I’m disgusting and sick…” Blaine mumbled against Kurt’s chest.

Kurt laughed softly, “Always.”

OCTOBER

“Woah.”

Blaine turned towards the voice, already recognising the fond exasperation before he saw who had arrived. “Wes! You’re early!”

Wes nodded, surveying the clothes explosion that was Blaine and Kurt’s bedroom with a look of mild terror, “Your brother let me in. Now I think I understand why he’s hiding in the kitchen… Blaine, what are you doing?”

Blaine blushed, embarrassed. “It’s not as bad as it looks…”

Wesley’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline, “Please at least tell me that all this is yours. Because I know Kurt loves you, but if any of these piles contain his clothes he will murder you, and I’m not going to protect you.”

Blaine groaned, sitting down forlornly on the bed, “I need help.”

“We already knew that!” Cooper’s voice hollered from beyond the curtain, a drift of amusement following the shout.

“Love you too Coop!” Blaine yelled back, before looking beseechingly at his friend. If anyone could help solve this, it was Wes. He sighed, “I just want it to be perfect…”

Wes smiled, shucking off his designer jacket and draping it carefully over the back of a chair. “Kurt will just be thrilled that you came. You could turn up butt naked and he’d still be ecstatic. Hey, maybe that’s an idea?” Wes teased, flutes of humour tickling at Blaine, making him smile.

Wes!” Blaine whined, “Be serious! Please. There are already so many things that are probably going to go wrong, and I just want this one thing to be okay! Kurt’s going to be surrounded by all these important people, and the last thing he needs is his boyfriend to turn up looking like some backwater trash from Ohio who lacks any sense of style!”

Wes walked forwards, carefully sitting next to Blaine. As ever, his simple, quiet presence was a balm against Blaine’s senses, although unlike when they had been at Dalton, Wes now leaned his shoulder carefully to brush Blaine’s. Wes’ sense control was refined enough that his touch was now very much like that of Blaine’s family, and it was something Blaine’s truly valued about their friendship.

“Blaine,” Wes said. “Are you sure this is about the outfit? I just want to check, because if you’re in any way not one hundred percent sure about this, then we don’t have to go. Kurt thinks you’re not coming anyway, so he won’t be disappointed, and the last thing he’d want is for you to make yourself sick.”

Blaine fidgeted. Cooper had asked exactly the same thing when he arrived a couple of hours ago, and at the time Blaine had brushed him off. He needed to do this.

Tonight was the Parsons Fall Fashion Showcase, and Kurt had been the only freshman to have had his work selected to feature on the runway. It was a huge deal, and Blaine was so unbelievably proud of his boyfriend. But it also meant that Kurt had been flat out for the last few weeks preparing, and would be backstage for the show itself, with plenty of demand for his full focus. As soon as Kurt had been selected, they had sat down to discuss it, and Blaine had felt awful when they finally agreed that it would be best if Blaine didn’t come.

Kurt had hidden his disappointment well, because he knew it was the right decision, but Blaine had felt like an utter failure and an awful boyfriend. Kurt had reassured him, saying there would be plenty more opportunities, and he would have their friends in the audience to support him. They could even take plenty of pictures to show Blaine later.

But Blaine knew there would only be one first show.

And so he had made a plan. Kurt’s show fell on the one night of the week when Cooper’s play was dark, and Blaine had reached out to Wes to ask him a huge favour. Cooper had been thrilled with the invite, and Wes had actually managed to get the trip signed off as field experience. Blaine had felt really weird about that, but he supposed he should get used to the idea that all Wes’ teachers knew his story. All that remained was for Blaine to give Sam the money to get three extra seats, and the surprise was set.

With Cooper and Wes to support him, Blaine was confident that he could keep control without anything going horrifically wrong.

But there was always going to be a niggling what if, and that was what was sucking Blaine under now. He couldn’t bear the idea of ruining Kurt’s big night because everything got to be too much for his senses.

“This is something I need to do, Wes. Not just for Kurt, but for me as well,” Blaine said honestly.

Wes looked at Blaine for a moment longer, and Blaine knew that if his friend decided Blaine was out of his depth, they wouldn’t be going anywhere tonight however much Blaine protested.

But then Wes nodded, standing up. He placed his hands on his hips, surveying Blaine analytically. “Alright then, let’s work out what to do with you. Can’t have Kurt Hummel’s arm candy looking like he got dressed in the dark.”

“Hey!”

00000

Blaine slumped down in his seat, letting out a tense breath. Crowd events like this were always so much harder than just going to class, or even glee competitions. The layers of expectations and relationships mixed with a healthy volume of alcohol, all compacted in an enclosed space of glitz and glamour made Blaine’s head swim.

Cooper had secured Blaine’s shoulders with a comforting arm for the whole subway ride, keeping Blaine tight to his side as Wes stayed close, and that formation hadn’t changed when they arrived. Cooper was now a pretty recognisable stage actor, and used to dealing with these kind of events. He was effervescent and charming, but also polite in declining any attention in favour of keeping Blaine distracted.

Wes sat down on Blaine’s left, squeezing his knee briefly with an infusion of courage, “You’re doing great, you know you are. Stop over-thinking and enjoy yourself for once. Just picture Kurt’s face when he finds out you’re here.”

Blaine nodded tightly, letting himself relax as Rachel and Santana joined them in seats in front, Artie rolling his way to the wheelchair space in front of Wes. Sam was backstage – Kurt had insisted on using him as one of his models for the evening.

Wes was right. He was okay. He was excited, and nervous, and a little overwhelmed, but he felt in control. He felt safe. And most importantly, he couldn’t wait for the show to start.

“Hey, Coop?”

Cooper turned away from where he had been craning to see if he recognised anyone famous, “Yeah?”

“I just thought, well…not that I want to speak too soon or anything, but this evening seems to be going pretty well so far, and I…” Blaine smiled shyly, suddenly irrationally nervous, “I wondered if maybe next month I could come and see your play?”

Cooper stared at Blaine for a second in surprise, but then his big brother lit up like the sun, infectious excitement and hope blooming between them. “Seriously? You want to?”

Blaine laughed at Cooper’s frenetic mix of emotions, “Of course I want to! I’ve always wanted to see you on a real stage.”

“Okay, yes definitely! I… yes! I’ll sort you a pair for you and Kurt,” Cooper said, practically bouncing.

Music swelled and light flashed, putting a pause on any further conversation, but Blaine enjoyed the feeling of utter happiness exuding from his brother for the whole show.

Of course, Kurt’s pieces were some of the best in show – even Wes and Santana said so – and Sam had been brilliantly confident as he took control of the runway. But the best part by far was when all the designers came out at the end, accompanying their models, and Blaine was able to jump to his feet to cheer and applaud as loudly as possible.

Kurt’s face was priceless.

After the show they were ushered backstage by Sam, and Blaine finally left the safety of Cooper and Wes to sweep up his amazing boyfriend in a hug, before handing him a carefully selected bouquet of flowers, “Congratulations!”

“I can’t believe you came!” Kurt was practically glowing, still on a high from the rush of the show, overwhelmed by how many people had come to support him.

“I couldn’t miss your debut,” Blaine grinned, kissing Kurt soundly.

“Save it for later!” Santana called. “I was promised an after party, and as the self-appointed publicist of this merry band of misfits, Hummel and White Chocolate need to get networking.”

Kurt looked at Blaine uncertainly, but Blaine just hooked his arm into the crook of Kurt’s elbow, “Come on, I want to stand next to you all night and listen to these fancy fashion gurus as fawn over you.”

NOVEMBER

Kurt sighed softly, leaning back against the counter as he took in the scene in the loft. A football game was on the TV, and the tangle of limbs on the sofa was shouting unintelligibly at the screen, Blaine half clambering over Cooper, as John Anderson and Burt Hummel engaged in a heated debate. Finn’s ridiculously large frame had been ousted to sit on the floor, but he seemed pretty content with his bowl of chips.

Stretched out on warm floorboards, the fourth resident of the loft snoozed in a patch of weak winter sunlight, Molly’s fluffy grey tail twitching every so often when Blaine got too excited, but otherwise oblivious to the chaos around her.

Behind Kurt in the kitchen, Rachel was demonstrating to a patient Carole the best way to present tofurky for a celebration meal, while giving a blow by blow account of her latest Funny Girl reviews. Carole listened patiently as she prepared the main turkey, every so often twisting the conversation to excitedly talk about all the typical New York landmarks she and Burt planned to visit on their trip. Burt, Carole and Finn would be going to see her show tomorrow evening.

Finn had already seen it four times.

While all their other friends had returned to Lima for the holidays, Rachel’s show had meant she needed to stay in New York. Cooper had been in much the same situation. And so in a loft in Bushwick, the very first Anderson-Berry-Hudson-Hummel Thanksgiving had been born.

“Sometimes I think it would be easier if I really tried to like football, but then every Thanksgiving I watch the men in my family descend into this,” Emily Anderson gestured fondly as Cooper bodily lifted Blaine off the sofa and tried to throw him over his shoulder despite Blaine’s squawking, “And I remember why I prefer to leave them to it.”

Kurt grinned, “Dad and I used to have an arrangement on the holidays. We’d watch the game together, which he would recognise meant me sitting on the sofa reading Vogue while he yelled at the TV. It worked pretty well, but then Finn came along, and Carole and I rescued each other.”

“And now Blaine tells me you have an internship at Vogue?” Emily prompted, her eyes warm.

“Vogue Runway, next summer,” Kurt said, unable to keep the pride from his voice. “Apparently if I make a good enough impression, there’s an opportunity to intern for them during New York Fashion Week next fall, but that’s a long way off. I need to get them to like me first.”

Emily laughed, resting a hand on Kurt’s shoulder. She always reminded Kurt of Blaine when she laughed. It was never something he had seen the woman do, back when Kurt had been living in Lima. Then, her eyes were sad, and every smile or laugh had been tainted by a constant exhausted fear. She had been a hard person to get to know, and despite how much Kurt knew Blaine loved his mom, Kurt had always found the woman hard to equate with the warm memory of Kurt’s own mother, or the kind presence of Carole.

Now, Emily Anderson was so much more like her sons; quick to laugh, free with little touches and contact. Blaine once told Kurt that to him, his mother was like fireworks bright against a night sky, and Kurt now understood why. He was honestly glad he had gotten to know this version of Blaine’s mom.

 “I really don’t think you’ll have a problem Kurt, if my sons are to be believed,” Emily said kindly. “And there is nothing wrong with looking ahead. I used to think there was, but Blaine introduced me to a very forceful young man who showed me differently.”

Kurt blushed, admitting quietly, “Sometimes I have to pinch myself to prove that this is real. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up in my bedroom in Lima, and Blaine, New York, our life together… it will just have been a dream.”

“An impossible dream that you both deserve,” Emily smiled, her eyes bright, and then Kurt found himself drawn into a warm hug as she whispered, “I will forever be thankful for what you have given my family, and look forward to the day you officially become part of it.”

Kurt blinked rapidly, throat tight as Blaine’s mother hugged him for a moment longer before releasing him.

The moment was broken as Emily’s attention was caught by the antics of her sons, and she proved that she had an impressive set of lungs. “Cooper Jay Anderson, if you break your brother I swear I don’t care how successful an actor you are, I will still find a way to ground you!

And then Blaine and Cooper toppled into Molly, and all hell broke loose.

It was still the best Thanksgiving Kurt had ever had.

DECEMBER

Blaine’s feet were stuck at the bottom of the steps. He couldn’t walk up them. He just…

This was so unreal.

Kurt’s hand was warm in his, the soft skin of his palm snug with Blaine’s despite most people around them bundled up in gloves against the bite of a New York winter.

“We don’t have to go in. We could just find a coffee shop and enjoy our last day in New York before we go back to Lima for Christmas…” Kurt said, and Blaine knew that his boyfriend was as jittery nervous as he was.

“What if everyone stares?” Blaine asked, voicing one of his biggest fears.

“No one even knows we’re going to be here,” Kurt said with false confidence. “To everyone in there, we’re just names and numbers on paper, so unless they’ve got a great memory of a one week news story from a couple of years ago, we’re just going to be two strangers.”

“I hate to break it to you Kurt, but when you walk into a room full of sense professionals, I think they’re going to figure out who you are the moment they don’t sense you,” Blaine said flatly, and an eddy of exasperation flowed from Kurt.

“Alright. Let’s just do this. It’s not like we’re going to stay for the whole thing, but we promised Dr Monroe and Dr Nordstrom that we’d be here for the opening keynote. We’ll just stand at the back.” Kurt nodded with a sense of certainty, and started up the steps that would lead them to the Annual Empathic Sensitivity Medical Symposium. Both Kurt and Blaine had been invited to sit in on the conference. Apparently the research their doctors had been doing had finally reached the point where it was going to be presented to the wider medical community, and there was a lot of excitement.

Blaine was irrationally nervous. Kurt wasn’t much better.

They didn’t deserve the attention. They were just two kids who had been stupidly lucky to find each other, and too stupidly stubborn to let go when they did.

Kurt turned, now two steps above Blaine, still holding on to Blaine’s fingertips, “Are you coming?”

Nearly three years since he had first accidentally brushed those same fingertips, kneeling in the hallway of McKinley High School, and Kurt still never failed to take Blaine’s breath away.

Hair perfectly coiffed, bundled up in a designer coat and stylish scarf, cheeks rosy from the cold, standing there in central Manhattan… Kurt was just as perfect as the pale, graceful teenager Blaine had fallen in love with, the one too big for Lima to contain.

Blaine tugged lightly on Kurt’s fingers, stretching up on his tiptoes to draw Kurt down for a kiss, the extra height between them letting Kurt wrap his arms comfortably over Blaine’s shoulders.

And despite the frozen morning air, the warmth of Kurt infused Blaine, the hustle of New York fading into a quiet where the two boys could simply exist.

Their breath mingled, curling in icy tendrils as they reluctantly broke apart.

“Ready?” Kurt asked.

Blaine nodded, shored up by Kurt, letting his senses stretch out to settle in his boyfriend’s steady presence. He pushed his love to spark softly at Kurt, and felt a wash of warmth and safety in return. “Ready.”

00000

This is the story of the boy who could not feel. Of the boy who was drowning in so many people’s emotions that he was never certain anything he felt was his own.

This is the story of the boy who felt too much. Of the boy who had so much to give, but was left unable to share, too many feelings bottled tight, isolated by something as simple as random biology.

But this is also the story of Blaine and Kurt. It is the story of the stars and the ocean, of the symphony and the silence. Of a refusal to accept fate, and an ability to catch hold of the impossible.

And this is the story of how they lit up the world.

FIN