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Love Yourself

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“Alright, Glee Club! I don’t have to tell you because you know what is coming up. That’s right, I’m talking about…Regionals!”

Cheering broke out in the choir room.

“Settle down, everyone, settle down. Now, I’ve just been informed that my petition for travel funds has been, predictably, denied, which means that we need to get serious about fundraising yesterday. Who has ideas?”

Mr. Schuester eagerly surveyed the rows of teenagers before him, but no one raised their hand.

“B-Bake sale?” Blaine whispered to Kurt. His choir had hosted a fairly successful bake sale last year. It seemed like such an obvious suggestion that Blaine was reluctant to suggest it more publicly.

Kurt shook his head vigorously and whispered back, “Oh, honey, no. We tried that last year and Puck spiked the cupcakes with weed.”

How are there still more outrageous stories from last year that I don’t know about? And why do so many of them involve drugs?

“We should have a kissing booth,” Puck suggested. “What McKinley girl could resist paying a dollar to get a piece of The Puckmeister?”

Tina, Mercedes, and Quinn all raised their hands in unison. Finn turned to Rachel, whose hand was decidedly not raised, and in an offended tone asked, “Really Rachel? You’re seriously telling me you cannot resist Puckerman?”

“Well, technically I have already failed to resist Noah so it wouldn’t feel truthful to endorse that sentiment.” 

Finn frowned at the reminder of that fact but said nothing.

“Not anymore! You have nothing to worry about, Finn.” She patted his hand affectionately.

“I might even draw in a few dudes.” Puck glanced over at Kurt and Blaine. 

Blaine could feel Kurt shudder at the thought. “Try to kiss me and I will bite your lips off, Puckerman,” Kurt spat.

Oddly enough, it was Santana who finally shut down this suggestion. “This idea would never work. No one is going to pay for something they can get for free. Trust me, I would know.”

Blaine was relieved when Mr. Schuester agreed with her. “While I appreciate your, uh, willingness to donate your time to the cause, Noah, perhaps there are fundraising ideas that everyone would feel comfortable participating in and are less likely to result in a public health crisis. It is flu season after all.”

“Mr. Schuester, what if we did singing telegrams for Valentine’s Day?” suggested Tina.

Mercedes added, “We could sell carnations too! $1 to send a flower to your boo, $5 for a song. The cheerleaders used to raise hundreds of dollars in junior high doing a carnation sale.”

Santana smirked, “At McKinley the Cheerios don’t bother with small potatoes like a carnation sale when we can raise thousands of dollars from a single car wash.”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “If you want to freeze your tits off washing cars in January, be my guest. As for me, hard pass.”

Mr. Schuester cleared his throat to regain control of the group. “So, what I’m hearing is that there’s an opening! I think it’s a great idea. Next time, come ready to nominate the ultimate love songs for our fundraiser. That’s a wrap for today, everyone. Drive safely!”

Blaine grabbed his book bag and then waited for Kurt, so they could walk together to the parking lot. He watched as Kurt exchanged a few friendly words with Rachel and then jogged over to where he was waiting.

“So, what sssong deserves to be on our V-day l-list?” Blaine asked, playfully.

“That’s a trick question because I already know what the most romantic song is but I’m not suggesting it for the list.”

“Oh yeah? Wh-which one?”

“‘You’re All I Need to Get By,’ obviously. It’s the song you sang to me to admit your feelings which makes it my new favorite love song. But it’s our song and I don’t want to share it with anyone else so I’m not going to suggest it in Glee.”

Blaine glanced up and down the McKinley hallway, but he didn't see anyone around besides a few stray members of the Glee Club. He grabbed Kurt’s hand and pulled him into an alcove next to the bay of lockers that provided a modicum of privacy.

“That,” he said, reaching out to touch Kurt’s lips with his fingertip, “was v-v-very sweet to say.” Kurt gave him a warm smile and then Blaine could not resist leaning forward to press a kiss onto his soft lips.

“We got some PDA in ‘da house over here,” called out Puck. 

Kurt pulled back just long enough to raise his middle finger at Puck and then went back to kissing Blaine.

“Respect,” Puck replied and continued down the hallway. Blaine giggled against Kurt’s lips.

After a few seconds of warm lips and soft touches, Blaine reluctantly pulled back. He took Kurt’s hand in his and continued walking towards the parking lot. 

“So, if I already sang you the m-m-m-m-most, uh, uh —romantic song, what am I going to sing to you on V-day?” Blaine asked.

“You’re going to sing to me on Valentine’s Day?” Kurt asked with excitement.

“Well I had thought about it, —but now…I don’t know,” Blaine teased.

“Don’t be like that. Anything you sing for me will be romantic. Please! I love when you sing to me.” Kurt pouted his lower lip and gave Blaine some truly dangerous puppy dog eyes. I would say yes to literally anything if he asked me with that face.

“If y-you insssist.” 

“I do! I’m a very high-maintenance boyfriend and I insist on being serenaded. Get used to it.” He stuck out his tongue at Blaine. He is so goddamn adorable when he gets like this. Completely unfair advantage. 

“So, any ideas for —telegram songs for V-day?” he asked.

“You know…you’re the first person I’ve met who calls it V-day,” Kurt commented.

“It’s…it’s, uh, well, hard to say,” Blaine admitted awkwardly.

“Oh, wow, of course. I’m sorry for being obtuse. I didn’t even think…” Kurt trailed off as he began to get flustered with embarrassment.

Even that is adorable.

“Aw, you’re p-p-p-pink for V-day! Ssso festive.” Blaine couldn’t resist teasing Kurt, who of course turned an even brighter shade of pink.

“I hate you,” said Kurt in faux outrage, giving Blaine’s shoulder a shove.

Blaine wrapped both arms around Kurt, pinning his arms to his sides. “And I-I-I love you.”

“I love you too, weirdo.”

They kissed goodnight and then Blaine drove home, humming Motown to himself and dreaming up ideas for the perfect Valentine’s Day serenade.

As Valentine’s Day approached, Blaine could feel the excitement—but also the pressure—building. It was his first time having a boyfriend for Valentine’s Day and he wanted to make sure that it was special, which meant finding the perfect gift. When he asked his dad, he got generic suggestions. But Kurt had such specific tastes that it wasn’t easy to know what to get him. It didn't seem like the traditional flowers or chocolate would do the trick; Kurt wasn't really a traditional kind of guy. 

He had tried asking Kurt, but that had gotten him nowhere. “I’ll love anything you get me for Valentine’s Day because it will be from you.” The sentiment was sweet but ultimately unhelpful. 

He tried asking Cooper for advice but his response had included links to sex toys. ‘I hear gay guys love these’ he had written. Blaine had deleted the email in a panic, incredibly grateful that Kurt wasn't around when he had opened it. He could just imagine Kurt’s horrified reaction at seeing that particular website pop up on Blaine’s computer. Blaine would have been beyond mortified and the small degree of comfort Kurt had developed around discussing physical intimacy would have evaporated in an instant. Note to self: never ask Cooper for advice about romance ever again. 

He thought about asking Finn, but Kurt’s stepbrother seemed very preoccupied with his own Valentine’s Day plans. Blaine couldn’t understand why he was so nervous, since it wasn’t even his first Valentine’s Day being in a couple with Rachel. He just kept shooting these odd, worried glances over at Santana. 

Santana had been in quite a mood since Valentine’s Day came up in Glee Club. Kurt had explained that it was because she was resentful about being single. Apparently she had even tried to convince Puck to be her date but he had turned her down because he “wanted to keep his options open.”  

In weight lifting class, Finn vented to Blaine about how bitchy Santana was being this week. “She keeps talking about how disgusted she is by my body and usually I’m able to ignore her venom, but that's something I’m actually kind of insecure about. I don’t know, man, it’s starting to get me down.” 

“R-r-r-r-really?” Blaine was surprised to hear this confession from the star quarterback. Even if Finn’s social status had hit a bit of a recession, from what he understood Finn had once been one of the most popular guys in school. Apparently even that level of acclaim didn’t make one immune to teenage self-esteem issues. Blaine found it strangely comforting.

“So, only a few more days until Valentine’s Day. What would you say to opening ‘part one’ of your gift a little early?” Kurt’s eyes twinkled mischievously at him.

“There’s m-more than one par-par-part?”

“Your gift for me at Christmas had two parts so now it’s my turn. No one outdoes Kurt Hummel.”

What is he up to?

Kurt presented him with a box, wrapped in red paper and tied with a perfect white bow. Blaine eagerly tore open the wrapping paper. Something neon and spandex emerged. 

Blaine gasped in delight. “Oh my god, did-did-did-did you—you didn’t—did you…?” 

He unfolded the cloth to reveal the most 80s-tastic outfit he had ever had the pleasure of owning. “You did!” He kept pulling out more pieces of fabric, until he realized there were two of everything. Bouncing on his heels in excitement, he threw his arms around Kurt and thanked him profusely.

“The clothes were cheap. The real present is that I’m agreeing to wear matching outfits to the roller disco even though I think matching outfits are cheesy and awful. But I knew that you would love it and I love you so, hence…matching outfits.”

Blaine squealed and pulled Kurt in for another hug, pressing his face into Kurt’s neck. As he breathed in he thought that he could never tire of the scent that filled his nostrils. He lifted his face and whispered in Kurt’s ear, “It’s p-perfect!” 

Kurt pressed a kiss into his hair. “I’m glad you like it."

February 14th began cold and bright. Blaine had his singing telegram schedule in his pocket. They had assigned groups of two or three students to each song so that they could cover more ground.

Blaine sang “Love Me Do” with Quinn and Tina to several cheerleaders during first period. He sang “With a Little Help From my Friends” to a group of sophomore boys in the A.V. Club. He was pleased that people had chosen to send telegrams to friends in addition to romantic partners or crushes. It reminded him why Valentine’s Day was his favorite holiday; it was a celebration of love in all its many forms. Blaine still gave his parents Valentine’s Day cards every year, even though Cooper always teased him about it. 

He was the most excited about singing to Kurt, however. It was possible—nay probable—that he had gone a bit overboard with his plans, but Blaine really couldn’t help himself. Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse for a bombastic and campy musical display of emotion and Blaine was going to take full advantage.

Artie had been his primary co-conspirator. He had been only too happy to take advantage of his band and A.V. club connections. Blaine was thrilled because it was really going to take the number to the next level.

The closer Blaine got to the appointed time, the more his excitement built. He was practically vibrating with it, over-energized but too joyful to bother trying to contain himself. This was going to be fun .

When the bell rang for lunch, Blaine launched out of his chair like a rocket. It’s go time.  

Blaine shot off a series of texts to make sure that all the wheels were in motion for his big plan. 

Between Blaine’s lifelong obsession with Valentine’s Day and his more recent penchant for public stunts of theatricality, this really was a peak moment for him. He had once tried to convince The Warblers to re-enact this particular movie scene at Bath High, but Wesley had argued that without an appropriate romantic target to serenade, the performance would lack the necessary weight.

Blaine sat out of sight with his cordless microphone, lying in wait until he got the go ahead from Artie. His phone buzzed and Blaine switched on the mic. They had agreed he would sing the beginning without musical backing, just like in the movie. Wesley would be proud of my commitment to authenticity. Blaine’s voice rang out over the school sound system as he sang ,

You're just too good to be true
I can't take my eyes off you
You'd be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much

Blaine emerged from behind the corner and wrapped his legs around a metal pole, sliding smoothly down it, fireman style. He landed at the top of the large, greek-theater-esque staircase in the McKinley courtyard.

At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I'm alive
You're just too good to be true
Can't take my eyes off you

A whistle blew and from just out of sight at the top of the stairs, the McKinley High Marching Band began to play and march down the steps behind Blaine. 

I love you baby
And if it's quite all right
I need you baby
To warm the lonely nights

Blaine could see Kurt standing with Rachel at the bottom of the steps cackling with laughter as Puck and Finn arrived dressed as security guards. They chased Blaine and when they caught him, began to frogmarch him off of the steps. Blaine winked at Kurt and then slipped out from between them by stepping backwards, jogging as fast as he could away from them with exaggerated hand motions.

I love you baby
Trust in me when I say
Oh pretty baby
Don't bring me down I pray
Oh pretty baby
Now that I've found you stay
And let me love you, baby
Let me love you

“Happy V-day, baby!” Blaine announced over the microphone. He managed to hand the microphone off to Finn just in time to have both hands free when Kurt jumped into his arms. Blaine lifted him off of his feet and swing him around in a circle.

“That was amazing!” Kurt whispered breathlessly in his ear and Blaine felt the now familiar tug at his heart, his feelings made manifest into physical sensation. I love him so much.

Hand in hand, they walked across the courtyard to the table where their friends were waving at them.

Suddenly, time slowed down as Blaine’s entire face was slapped with a wave of ice that quickly spread to his chest and shoulders. 

“Agh!” he cried out, throwing his hands up in front of his face ineffectively. Survival instinct kept his eyes clamped shut against the icy substance coating his face. He braced himself for a second impact that never came. This time there was no fist, no fall, no boots. Just burning cold everywhere.

Blaine sputtered as something sickeningly sweet dripped into his mouth. Finally, it hit him. I’ve been slushied. It was so much worse than he had imagined from Kurt’s description, and Kurt had made it sound pretty bad. 

He felt Kurt’s soft fingers were gently brushing chunks of ice from Blaine’s cheekbones.

“What the fuck was that about, Azimio?” Kurt demanded angrily.

“No one wants to see that shit. I almost lost my lunch.”

“Come on, man. Bowtie is fruity enough without you helping out,” Dave Karofsky cajoled his friend. I thought he had sworn off bullying, or was that deal only good for Kurt? I do not trust that guy. Fuck, this is really starting to burn my eyes.

Kurt had produced a small hand towel from somewhere and began to mop up the sticky sweetness from Blaine’s face and neck.

Meanwhile, Santana took control of the situation. “Well I did throw up watching you try to seduce Cherise at the post-game party last week but tragically the rules of society are not governed by anyone’s gag reflex. Blaine doesn’t need your approval to express himself and as the Queen—yes I did get them to make that my official title—of the Bully Whips, I look forward to having a heartfelt conversation with Principal Figgins about this incident.”

Damn, she really is serious about that club. If his fingers weren’t wet and half numb, Blaine might have even snapped like a poetry slam audience member.

“You’re such a fucking bitch, Santana,” Azimio spat out.

“That’s head bitch in charge and proud of it. Now lumber off before I lose my commitment to non-violence.”

Then Kurt’s soothing voice from somewhere nearby said, “I’m going to walk you to the locker room so you can clean up. Try not to open your eyes, sweetheart.”

Blaine nodded and allowed himself to be steered away from the heated conversation. He made it to the locker room without further incident. 

“Arms up,” Kurt instructed. Blaine lifted his arms obediently and felt his sticky shirt being peeled from his body. Then he felt Kurt pulling off his shoes. “Um, what do you want to do about your pants?” Kurt asked awkwardly. They still had not progressed beyond the shirts-off stage of their physical relationship, so of course Kurt was uncomfortable with the idea of undoing his pants.

“Oh, um, I-I-I got it, thanks honey.” Blaine undid his belt, button, and zipper by feel. Left in just his boxers, Kurt led him to the shower. He hung up a clean towel and left Blaine to his privacy. Well that wasn’t what I pictured the first time he saw me in my underwear would be like. 

The hot water felt amazing on his chilled skin. Blaine thrust his face up into the stream of water, letting it wash away the sticky residue clinging to his eyelashes and finally, tentatively he opened his eyes. 

Crimson rivulets of water flowed across the white tiles and down the drain. “Good lord, this looks like a m-mur-murder scene,” Blaine commented to himself. He sighed. This was not how he had hoped to spend Valentine’s day. At least he picked a festive color of slushy. 

Once the water began to run clear, Blaine toweled off and dressed in a clean pair of gym clothes that Kurt had found for him. Blaine checked his reflection in the mirror to assess the damage. He looked as if he had acquired a mild sunburn and his hair was terribly frizzy. Wordlessly, Kurt handed him a canister of mousse. Bless him, that boy has secret stashes of hair care products everywhere. 

As Blaine tried to coax his hair into submission, Kurt wrapped his arms around Blaine’s middle from behind. Blaine felt some of the tension melt from his shoulders as he soaked in the comfort of his boyfriend’s touch. 

“Happy fucking Valentine’s Day,” Kurt said dryly. Blaine snorted in response. “In all seriousness, though. This has still been the best Valentine’s Day of my life. I can’t believe you re-created Heath Ledger’s legendary serenade from '10 Things I Hate About You.’ I loved it so much!” 

“Y-Yeah?” 

“Are you kidding me? It was outstanding. You shone like the star that you are and I felt like the luckiest guy in the world knowing that it was for me.” Blaine could see Kurt’s eyes shining with sincerity in the mirror. Blaine’s dye-stained skin masked the blush he felt rise to his cheeks.

Blaine spun around quickly to face Kurt, surprising him with a rather passionate kiss. “I’m lucky to-to-to-to have ssssomeone as sp-special as you to sing to.”

“Never stop being this sappy. I may never admit it in public but I seriously love it.”

“Oh, you know what might ch-ch-cheer us up? —Presents!”

Kurt clapped his hands in excitement. Thankfully, Blaine’s gift for Kurt had been securely stowed in his book bag and spared the icy shower that had ruined his clothes.

Blaine suddenly felt shy, wondering if he should have gone for something more traditional. “I hope this i-i-i-is okay.”

Kurt ripped open the paper to reveal the booklet Blaine had artfully constructed from various patterns of craft paper. As he flipped through the pages, his eyes got brighter and brighter. “One free massage, Wardrobe veto power, Coffee delivery for a week…See Blaine Anderson naked?!” Kurt practically yelped out the last one, whacking Blaine playfully with the booklet. 

“T-T-Too much? I wonder-der-dered if it—I don’t know, if it might be easier than saying it out loud. Sorry, it’s —probably st-st-stupid. I can take that one b-back.”

“No way! I can’t risk this getting into the wrong hands,” Kurt said with a wink. Sobering up, he added, “It’s a good idea, really; maybe it will help me tell you when I’m ready.”

“You’ve a-a-always let me communicate through writing when I-I-I-I n-needed to. Happy to return the fffavor.” 

Kurt beamed at him and Blaine felt a swell of pride that he had gotten it right.

“Well, now my gift is going to seem very boring in comparison to this incredibly thoughtful and personal gift.”

But you already gave me the gift of roller disco in matching outfits! What more could I want? 

Kurt handed him another neatly wrapped package. Blaine opened it to find a very lovely red and navy plaid scarf in soft cashmere. “This is —beautiful Kurt, thank you!”

“Since you keep forgetting to wear them,” Kurt explained. “I’ve got to keep my fella warm this winter.”

Blaine was overwhelmed by a sudden flood of colors and flashing lights when he opened the door to the roller rink. ‘Come on Eileen blasted over the speaker-system while the music video played on multiple screens scattered around the room. 

Kurt smirked in response to his child-like glee. He could just make out Kurt muttering, “…kid in a candy store, honestly…” before he took Blaine’s hand and yanked him towards the skate rental desk. Blaine allowed himself to be led but his eyes kept flitting around the room and he almost tripped over Kurt when he finally stopped.

“Honestly, I think you might have been less distracted if I’d brought you to a strip club,” Kurt quipped.

“It’s just so…c-c-c-color-f-ful,” he said dreamily. He stared longingly at the technicolor lights tracing magical patterns across the floor while Kurt traded in his shoes for skates.

“Shoe size?” asked the clerk, startling Blaine.

“—” Blaine felt himself block. It took him by surprise, because so far he had been having a pretty good speech day. 

He tried out a mindfulness technique that Ms. Shine had introduced him to, which was to just acknowledge and observe his disfluency without judgement, then to use positive self-talk. I’m blocking right now. That happens sometimes, but I know that I can still talk. My heart is beating faster because I’m nervous. I’ll take a deep breath to relax then I will try to do easy stuttering on the word ‘ten.’ 

Blaine exhaled slowly and calmly. “ T-t-t-t en.” That went pretty well.

“You okay, man?” the clerk asked. Ugh. 

I-I-I- I am fine. I st-st-st-st- stutter.”

The man seemed to relax and handed over a pair of skates. “Oh, cool. Sorry for asking, you just made this face like you were in pain and I got worried. I’ve never met anyone who stutters before.”

Blaine wasn’t sure what to say to that so he nodded awkwardly and picked up his skates. Nice and smoothly, he said, “No worries.”

Blaine joined Kurt on a bench near some lockers. Kurt had already finished lacing up his skates and was tapping his hand in time with the music against his lycra-clad knee. Blaine slipped out of his boots and started pulling on the skates. “I di-di-disclosed my stuttering to-to that guy back there.” Not even a setback with my fluency after that big block. 

“Oh, nice. How did it go?”

“Fine. He seemed…re-relieved to know. I think-I think people are more afraid of the unknown. I bl-bl-blocked when I tried to give him my shoe size b-b-but I didn’t freak out.”

“That’s awesome, baby! I’m so proud of you.” Kurt grinned.

“This is de-de-de-definitely stupid but I…I got so mmmad when I went up a shoe size. ‘Nine’ is ssso much easier because you can ssstretch the ’n’ or use an easy onset. ‘Ten’ starts with a stop consonant and I’m s-s-so much more likely to block on those.”

“Wow, I did not understand half of what you just said. You know, you always say that you’re bad at talking but seriously Blaine you are kind of a talking expert. You know so much more about how people talk at sixteen than most people will ever know in their entire lives.”

“Huh, I-I-I-I never thought about th-that. Maybe I really will know e-e-enough to be my own sp-sp-speech therapi-pi-pist someday. That’s what Ms. Shine says the-the-the goal is.”

“You know, I bet you could be a wonderful speech therapist for real if you wanted to. Who better to help other people who stutter than someone who really knows what it’s like?”

“Oh n-n-no! A whole job that is all-all-all about t-talking? What a night-night-nightmare!”

“Well, certainly not with that attitude! You should ask Ms. Shine if she knows of any speech therapists who stutter. You are such a compassionate and smart person, Blaine, that I truly believe you could do it if you wanted to. You’d just have to believe it too.”

Blaine’s heart fluttered. “I love you,” he said softly.

“Maybe you can tell me more about stop sign consonants or whatever you said later in private. It’s kind of sexy when you talk science like that,” Kurt said with a wink. Duly noted. Maybe I can show him where his alveolar ridge is. Blaine felt his cheeks starting to flush and he hoped it wouldn’t be too noticeable under the technicolor lighting.

Blaine took Kurt’s hand and together they wobbled over to the rink. The next song came on and Blaine quickly recognized it as I Think We’re Alone Now. Kurt grinned and began to sing along.

Children behave, 
that's what they say when we're together
And watch how you play
They don't understand
And so we’re

Blaine squeezed Kurt’s hand and then took off as fast as he could, skating in long strides across the rink with Kurt. Kurt’s eyes sparkled like magic under the rainbow of lights that fluttered across his face as they moved.

Running just as fast as we can, 
holding on to one another hands
Trying to get away into the night 
and then you put your arms around me
And we tumble to the ground and then you say

I think we're alone now,
There doesn't seem to be anyone around
I think we're alone now,
The beating of our hearts is the only sound

Blaine thumped his hand against his heart along with the heartbeat sounds in the music and was rewarded for his antics with a goofy smile from Kurt. Blaine loved being silly like this and he loved the way it broke through Kurt’s usually reserved demeanor. I just want to keep making him laugh forever. 

Look at the way we gotta hide what we're doin'
'Cause what would they say
If they ever knew
And so we’re

Running just as fast as we can, holding on to one another hands
Trying to get away into the night and then you put your arms around me
And we tumble to the ground and then you say

“It is just now occurring to me that this song is obviously about a gay romance. I mean, right? ‘We gotta hide what we’re doing’? If that isn’t about a closeted relationship then I don’t know what is.” Kurt declared this theory with serious intensity but Blaine could see the humor sparkling from behind his eyes.

“Holy shit, you’re right!”

“Always with the tone of surprise,” Kurt said, shaking his head slowly. 

Blaine stuck out his tongue in response.

“Hot,” said Kurt with an eye roll.

Blaine leaned forward and tried to lick Kurt’s face, but was rebuffed by a hand to the face.

“Oh my god, you are so gross! Why do I put up with you?”

“Be-be-be-because you love me,” Blaine said with a satisfied grin.

“Oh yeah, that’s definitely it.”

Kurt dropped Blaine’s hands and did a rather impressive spin on his skates. Blaine leaned against the wall and watched Kurt hungrily. He was definitely appreciating the way the lycra tights clung to his thigh muscles while Kurt sang along to Kiss , putting special emphasis on one of the lines.

Women, not girls, rule my world
I said they rule my world
Act your age, mama 
Not your shoe size
Maybe we could do the twirl
You don't have to watch Dynasty
To have an attitude, uh
You just leave it all up to me
My love will be your food
Yeah

Two can play at this game.

Blaine glided over to Kurt and took over the song. He dropped dramatically to his knees in a pleading pose for the final lines.

You don't have to be rich
To be my girl
You don't have to be cool
To rule my world
Ain't no particular sign
I'm more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your

Kiss

“Kiss! Kiss!” someone chanted from behind him. Blaine’s head whipped around to see that they had attracted a small audience with their antics. The showboat within him preened at the attention, but he was also painfully aware of still being in Backwardsville, Ohio. I guess if anywhere is going to be queer-friendly it’s a roller disco on 80’s night. 

I hope I don’t end up regretting this. Otherwise we’re really going to have to do that running just as fast as we can thing.

Blaine hopped to his feet and took Kurt in his arms. He dipped him low and planted a rather passionate kiss on his lips. There was a muffled yelp of surprise before Kurt melted into the kiss.

When they surfaced for air, their little audience was clapping. Blaine couldn’t help but notice a few uncomfortable looks from across the room. He squeezed Kurt’s hand, suddenly feeling protective.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Blaine.” Kurt stared deeply into his eyes and Blaine felt his knees turn to jelly as he got lost in them. It wasn’t just that Kurt’s eyes were beautiful—although of course they were—but when he looked directly into them, and Kurt was looking right back, he felt this indescribable connectedness that he had never experienced before meeting Kurt.

He wrapped an arm around Kurt’s waist both to steady himself and just to be close. “You take my b-b-b-breath away,” he whispered in Kurt’s ear. Kurt kissed his cheek in response and took his hands, bopping his head along to the beat.

Dancing on roller skates was even harder than Blaine had anticipated, but together they managed not to fall down. Kurt even managed to spin him in sync with the lyrics without any casualties. Together they laughed and sang along to Knock on Wood .

I don't want to lose you, this good thing
That I got 'cause if I do
I will surely
Surely lose a lot
'Cause your love is better
Than any love I know

It's like thunder, lightning
The way you love me is frightening
You better knock, knock on wood, baby

Baby
I'm not superstitious about ya
But I can't take no chance
You got me spinnin', baby
You know I'm in a trance
'Cause your love is better
Than any love I know

When Kurt and Blaine were thoroughly danced out, they finally made their way back to the car. Blaine started up the engine while Kurt pulled out his phone so they could use GPS to get home. 

“Shit,” Kurt muttered when he looked at his phone.

“What’s wrong?” Blaine asked with concern.

“Oh, it’s just…I have like four missed calls.”

“From your d-d-d-dad?” Blaine was confused, because they had checked in with Burt before leaving and they had plenty of time before curfew. He wouldn’t call unless something serious was going on. Blaine’s pulse quickened at that thought.

“No. From…Dave Karofsky.”

What the fuck is Dave Karofsky doing calling my boyfriend four times on Valentine’s Day? 

Chapter Text

“—Karofsky?” Blaine asked in a tone of disbelief.

“Uh, yeah.”

Kurt considered his options for a moment. 

He could ignore the calls. After all, why ruin such a perfect evening? On the other hand, Dave had called four times! Why would he call that many times unless it was something urgent? I’m pretty sure I would call back an unknown number after that many missed calls in a row. Blaine will understand. Right?

“Do you mind if I, um, call him back?” Kurt asked hesitantly. “I’m sorry, I know it’s bad form on a date, I just...I’m very concerned.” 

“Of course nnnnot, Kurt.” Blaine started the car and pulled out of his parking spot as Kurt started the call. Kurt glanced over to gauge Blaine’s reaction; his lips were pressed together into a hard line, his hands gripping the steering wheel tighter than usual. He totally minds.  

Blaine, polite to a fault as usual, had even shut off the radio so Kurt would not be disturbed on the phone. As the phone rang, Kurt glanced over at Blaine but his eyes were straight ahead on the road, his expression impossible to read in profile.

The phone rang five times before Dave finally picked up. “What?”

“Uh, it’s Kurt. You called? So I just…I mean, are you okay?”

“‘m fine. Anything else?”

Huh?

“But…you called me earlier, like, a bunch of times. I figured it must be some kind of emergency. Look, I’m sorry if you’re mad I didn’t pick up. We were somewhere loud and I didn’t exactly hear my phone going off.”

“We…right, of course, it’s Valentine’s Day. You’re with him,” he said flatly. 

“Well, he is my boyfriend,” Kurt reminded him, starting to lose patience. 

Blaine looked over at him rather suddenly and Kurt regretted his choice of words. Great, now Blaine is wondering what Dave said about him. I’m just making this worse.

“Well, nothing’s going on, okay?”

“Uh, sure…that’s convincing,” Kurt had said sarcastically.

“I said it was nothing . I’ll see you at school tomorrow. Or not. Whatever.” The phone clicked off before Kurt was even able to say goodbye. Well, that was weird.

“So?” Blaine prompted. There was a very slight edge to his voice. 

Kurt sighed. “I don’t know. He said it was nothing but he got all defensive and weird. like he was lying or hiding something.”

“Just… b-be careful, Kurt. P-p-promise me?”

Oh Blaine, lovably overprotective as usual. 

“Blaine, seriously, he’s not a threat anymore. You have to get over it.”

“Oh, I have to, do I?” Blaine asked snippily.

The overprotectiveness is officially no longer lovable.

“Can we please not fight? This has been such a perfect, romantic evening and I would really prefer to allow it to stay untarnished in my memory if it’s all the same to you.”

Blaine’s voice softened. “Yes. Yes, of c-c-c-course. It really was—has been a v-very lovely night. Thank you, again, for the —idea and the—and the—and the—and the matching outfits.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I think I need to break up with Rachel.”

Kurt nearly fell off his kitchen bar stool in surprise. “What? Why?”

“She cheated on me,” Finn explained in a somber tone.

“She what ? How did I not know about this?” Kurt was flabbergasted by the news. “I’m supposed to be her best friend.”

“Yes, I can see how Rachel cheating on me would be hard for you , Kurt.” Kurt gulped. I deserved that.

“Sorry, sorry, you’re right. This is so not about me right now. I promise my ego is back in it’s cage. So you were saying…wow, she really cheated on you? That fucking sucks, Finn. I’m so sorry.”

“You’ll never guess who she cheated with,” Finn said with a wry smile.

“No…she didn’t…did she?” Surely Puckerman learned his lesson after the first time. 

“Yup. Two for two. Traitorous bastard of a best friend. I’m such an idiot for forgiving him after the first time.” 

“What happened? I just—I mean, you two seemed so happy. It’s hard to believe that Rachel would just cheat on you all of a sudden.” Half to himself, he added, “Maybe if there was a solo in it for her or something…” Kurt trailed off, realizing this was probably not helping.

Finn let out a dry laugh. “She-she found out that I really did lose my virginity to Santana last year and…in her twisted little brain this makes it fair or something. Which is just totally crazy!” He slammed his fist down on the granite countertop in anger.

“Wait, so she seriously cheated on you out of spite? Damn, that's cold.” Kurt shook his head in disbelief. Rachel, you idiot, what were you thinking?

“I don’t know who I’m angrier with: Rachel or Santana. Santana just had to stir shit up because she was fucking bored or something. Or like our happiness offended her. But, hey, Santana never tried to hide the fact that she’s a selfish bitch. Rachel, on the other hand…Rachel loved me and betrayed me anyways. This is such bullshit. I love her so much but I…I can’t trust her anymore, you know?”

Kurt stopped to consider Finn’s words. It was hard to imagine himself in that position.

“I don’t know, to be honest. It’s hard to imagine wanting to break up with someone I was still in love with. You don’t think it would be worth it to try to work through it?” Rachel will be heartbroken.

“I talked to my mom about it and she said that there were lots of times she was in love but a relationship just wasn’t working for other reasons. She dated this one guy who she really cared about but she was miserable dating him. She finally realized that loving someone wasn’t supposed to be quite that hard and that she deserved better. Then she met my dad, and it was.”

“Wow, look at Carole with the sage mom wisdom! That’s so sweet, Finn. Dad has never really talked about girlfriends before Mom. At the risk of making this about me again, I have to say that being with Blaine is like that. Things feel sort of organic and easy. I’m not saying we don’t fight or have stuff to work through, but our relationship just makes me happy most of the time.” Kurt couldn’t help the smile that broke across his face when he talked about Blaine. I look like a lovesick fool. 

“No, it’s okay. It’s…nice to hear, actually. Being with Rachel…well, it’s not like that. There have been times…briefly, when things felt easy. But most of the time it’s just one drama after the next. Now this…I dunno, man.” Finn shook his head sadly. 

Kurt’s heart ached for his stepbrother. He tried not to let his mind wander to Rachel—who he knew would be devastated—because he could only support one half of this couple at a time. I wish there was something I could do to cheer Finn up.

“This calls for a fresh-baked batch of my chocolate-chip lavender cookies. I think I still have some cookie dough in the freezer. It’ll just take 20 minutes or so to have them ready. Can I tempt you?”

“That sounds perfect. You know…if someone had asked me what having you as a brother would be like…well, no, actually lavender cookies is probably exactly what I’d have guessed but…well, I would never have imagined…this.” Finn gestured vaguely to Kurt and himself, which he understood to mean the heart-to-heart they had shared. “Thanks for listening, bro.”

Kurt smiled. “Any time, bro.” I think Finn is the only person I could feel pleased about calling me ‘bro.’

Finn jumped in surprise when someone knocked on the front door.

“Shit, I…that will be Blaine. I can—do you want me to send him home? I know we were kind of having a moment…I just didn’t know this was going to happen.”

“No, man, don’t be stupid. I can’t eat all of those cookies by myself. Besides, I need all the help I can get figuring out how to break up with the world’s biggest drama queen with all my limbs intact.”

Kurt kissed Blaine hello and quickly got him up to speed on what was going on. Hand in hand, they walked into the kitchen.

Blaine crossed his arms and smiled sadly at Finn. “I heard you need some advice about br-br-br-breaking up with the girl who-who has been known to sssend her enemies to crack houses. I hu-humbly offer my advice in song f-form. Kurt, feel free to join in.”

Kurt raised his eyebrows, eager to see what Blaine had in mind. Kurt knew how to cheer people up by listening to them or plying them with baked goods, but Blaine was the king of distracting someone or shaking them out of a bad mood with humor. 

The problem is all inside your head she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

She said it's really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued
But I'll repeat myself at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Kurt was pleased to see Finn laughing by the end. “Thanks, Blaine. But seriously, I need help dudes.” 

“Are you going to try to work it out? Maybe you should talk things over before you make a final decision.” 

Finn just shook his head sadly. “It’s over, Kurt. There’s nothing to talk about.” Wow, this is really happening.

“My only advice to make it quick and don’t give her an audience. You know how dramatic Rachel can be. See if you can leave things on good enough terms not to tear the whole Glee Club apart, at least.”

“J-j-just do it somewhere in-in-in private, where she can l-l-leave quickly after,” Blaine suggested, somewhat more practically.

Finn clapped Blaine on the shoulder and Kurt felt his stomach flood with warmth at seeing the people he loved all getting along.

No amount of planning can prevent the hurt that comes with a break-up, but Finn and Kurt tried their best. Finn arranged to meet Rachel in the auditorium after school, where they could speak in private.

Kurt waited just outside the door, ready to console his friend as best he could. They had debated whether Blaine should be there too, but Kurt decided that Rachel might not want to be reminded of their happy relationship when her own had just fallen apart. So Kurt waited alone, leaning up against the wall, an overnight bag at his feet. He had packed it the night before, in preparation for the inevitable Rachel Berry Emergency Sleepover. 

The waiting was agony, not knowing when she would arrive, just knowing that she would be devastated when she did.  It was strange to know someone was going to hurt his friend but there was nothing he could or should do to stop it.

Suddenly, the heavy door to the auditorium was flung open and a tearful Rachel emerged. “Kurt!” she cried out when she saw him, flinging herself into his arms.

Kurt wrapped his arms around her, rubbing circles into her back. It always soothed him when Blaine did that for him. 

She sobbed for a while before she was able to catch her breath enough to explain what had happened. With one hand, Kurt grasped Rachel's and with the other he swung his overnight bag over his shoulder. 

“I’m going to drive you home now, Rachel.”

“Will you stay with me?”

“Of course.”

When they made it to Rachel’s horribly pink bedroom, Kurt was suddenly unsure of what to do. I should have brought Blaine. He’s so much better at this sort of thing.

“Do you, um, want to talk?” he asked awkwardly. 

Rachel nodded and then, to Kurt’s alarm, a fresh wave of tears began to flow. Kurt patted her head awkwardly, which Rachel took as invitation to bury her face in his lap, her tears soaking through his pants. Why didn’t I think to bring a change of clothes? 

“He didn't even let me explain, Kurt!” she wailed. “I love him and he loves me; we should be together.”

“Oh, honey, I know. But maybe sometimes love isn't enough,” Kurt said in what he hoped was a soothing voice, remembering what Finn had said.

“Not enough? Of course, it’s enough! He’s just punishing me right now, but he’ll take me back once he has time to calm down.” Rachel seemed comforted by her own words, even managing to sit up and blow her nose.

How can she get over this if she thinks this is only temporary? “Rachel, I think Finn was serious.”

“Why? Did he tell you something? What did he say?” Rachel asked, her voice desperate and pleading.  

“Um...I don’t know, Rachel. He seemed pretty sure of his decision.”

“Really?” she asked, the panic rising in her voice. 

“Yeah, but…I mean really who knows. Maybe he will change his mind after spending some time apart and realizing how much he misses you,” Kurt suggested in the hopes of cheering Rachel up.

“Oh, Kurt, do you really think so? Did he say that? Hmm…do you think it will be more affecting if I’m cool and composed or would a total emotional breakdown to show the depth of my pain be more convincing? Maybe you could poke around for me this weekend and take the temperature of the room, so to speak.”

“I dunno, Rachel, that seems like a violation of the brotherly bond.”

“Oh come on, Kurt. He’s only your step brother. It barely counts.” Rachel's words were biting.

“Hey! Rude, much? If you think that’s the way to get me to help you, well you don't know me at all.”

Rachel gasped in realization. “Oh my god! Of course! It's the ultimate heartbreak song. He won't be able to hold his resolve, not in the face of this!”

“Uh…what are you plotting there, Dr. Evil?” Kurt asked in trepidation.

“Oh, you’ll see.”

Kurt’s butt had barely hit the chair in the choir room before Rachel’s hand shot up into the air, demanding the floor.

“Mr. Schuester, I am distraught. As an artist, it is my solemn responsibility to create great art from my grief. Finn, I hope you will consider how deeply our sorrowful parting has affected me. I stand before you humbled and heartbroken, hoping that against all odds you will take me back.”

Wait…she’s not going to…is she? Oh shit, she’s a genius! Phil Collins is the ultimate trump card.

How can I just let you walk away
Just let you leave without a trace?
When I stand here taking every breath with you, ooh ooh
You're the only one who really knew me at all

How can you just walk away from me
When all I can do is watch you leave?
'Cause we've shared the laughter and the pain
And even shared the tears
You're the only one who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now
Well there's just an empty space
And there's nothing left here to remind me
Just the memory of your face

Ooh, take a look at me now
Well there's just an empty space
And you coming back to me is against the odds
And that's what I've got to face

If there was one thing Rachel Berry excelled at, it was emoting through song. Her usually refined voice was raw with just the right amount of desperation to channel Phil Collins’ emotional performance style. By the time she reached the bridge, tears were gushing down her face. By the time the song finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. 

Finn let out a single, strangled sob and then ran out of the room.

Kurt found him moping in the locker rooms. Why do angry boys always end up in the locker rooms?

“I just don’t understand why she would do something like that?” Finn groaned

“Because she’s addicted to drama?” Kurt suggested.

“Yeah, true, but still. Why would she beg me to take her back so soon after the break-up? I thought I would have at least a week before she realized I was serious and pulled some stunt like this.”

Uh-oh.

“Wait…did you not want her to know that you meant it?” Kurt asked guiltily.

“Kurt! What did you do?” Finn shook off the lethargy of his depression, starting to vibrate with anger.

“Uh…I may have…mentioned something about it. She asked and…honestly I thought it would help her move on if she wasn't holding out false hope.” 

Finn just shook his head in disbelief.

“I can’t believe you told her what we talked about! That was private, Kurt.”

“I’m sorry Finn. You didn’t say not to tell her, so…”

“I shouldn’t have to say not to tell her, Kurt! Why would it ever be okay to tell my ex what I said about her at home? In what universe does that sound like something anyone would be okay with? Damn it, Kurt!” Finn looked furious.

Guilt twisted like a knife in his gut. He gasped out an apology, “I’m s-sorry, Finn!”

“I should have known you would choose her over me!”

“What? No! That’s not…”

“Just go away, Kurt!”

Later that night, Kurt decided to bring Finn a mug of warm milk as a peace offering. He hoped it would give him an excuse to talk just the two of them. He knocked gently on Finn’s door.

“Give me a minute,” his voice called out, sounding odd and strained. When the door opened, Finn’s eyes were red-rimmed. Was he crying? 

“Hey, big guy, I brought you some warm milk. I know how much it helps you relax before bed. I also wanted to apologize for telling tales out of school; it is clear to me now how wrong that was and I promise it won't happen again.”

“Thanks,” he said gruffly. Finn sat silently on the edge of his bed, sipping at the milk while Kurt stood awkwardly in front of him, not sure if he was invited to stay or not. Finally, Finn patted the bed next to him and Kurt sat down. Kurt still automatically left a cushion of space between them, leftover from the days when Finn was made uncomfortable by Kurt’s presence. He wasn’t really sure where they stood on that front. Did being brothers mean that Kurt didn’t have to be as concerned about giving Finn an extra-large personal space bubble? 

“I’m still new at this whole being family thing, but I do want to be a good stepbrother to you. I just…I can’t abandon Rachel, either. You understand that, right? She’s been there for me through a lot of shit, even if she can be a complete witch sometimes I still love her.”

Finn nodded.

“So…do you want to talk about it?” Kurt asked.

“I dunno, maybe? I’m not…you know, guys don’t talk about this stuff the way girls do. I’m just not…used to it.”

“Whatever you want, Finn. But it’s just us here, and I think you know that I’m not exactly a big follower of rules about what guys ‘should’ do. And if you want to know what I think, my opinion is that talking about your feelings is healthy for everyone. Society really kind of fucks us all up as kids by telling us that girls are like this and boys are like that. It’s not good for any of us. Being a human being is hard enough without all these extra rules that don’t help us be better people.”

Finn nodded in thoughtful contemplation, taking another few sips of his milk.

“I’m just really fucking sad. I miss her and then I hate myself for missing her, because she betrayed me, and I’m also mad as hell. I feel split between hating her and loving her. I thought my feelings would just…go away, but they haven’t. It’s like my brain knows that she did something awful to me but my heart didn’t get the memo. I’m the one who decided to end things so every time I’m miserable I remember that I did this to myself. If I wanted to be with her, I could be.”

“Do you?” asked Kurt.

“No, at least I don’t think so. I’m too angry with her. Like sometimes I imagine picking up that tiny woman and throwing her across the room. Not that I would—obviously—but…I’m just so full of rage.”

“I think you should just let yourself feel sad and angry for a little while. Try not to beat yourself up about it. You had a big break-up, you are allowed to feel sad and angry. Just feel those feelings, you know.” 

“Uh, thanks, Kurt. I think that actually did help.”

“Good, because I just remembered this completely weird song that my mom used to love and I am definitely going to sing it to you. You do not get a say in the matter.”

“I never thought having a brother would involve this many spontaneous musical performances.”

“Well, that is exactly what I imagined having a brother would be like. Apparently, that’s pretty much what having Cooper for a brother is like for Blaine. Maybe this is just a thing everyone knows about having brothers but no one talks about it.”

“Hah, I doubt it.”

Kurt scrolled through on his phone, quickly pulling up the lyrics in case he forgot some. Then he started the song playing.

Baby the day that you left me
my anger was so intense
that I hoped you would fall from a fifth floor window
and land…on a picket fence

But after a week by my lonesome
I realized that was dumb
Better your scarf
should get snagged
on the bumper of a passing taxi cab
and drag you to kingdom come

Oh I’m entitled to my feelings
they’re my feelings, so they’re okay
They can’t lock you up for what you’re feeling
So feel your feelings all the way

They can’t lock you up for what you’re feeling
No matter how gross or unappealing
So let those emotions hit the ceiling
Feel your feelings all the way!

Finn was in stitches of laughter by the time Kurt finished the song. Maybe I have learned a thing or two from Blaine about how to cheer someone up with silliness and distraction.

“Weren’t you only eight when your mom died? How old were you when you sang this together?”

Kurt chuckled, “Six or seven, maybe. Now that you mention it, it is pretty violent for a little kid. I think she liked the message of the chorus so much that she overlooked it.” Kurt shrugged, not sure how else to explain it. His mom had been a very unique woman.

“Now if only you had the perfect song I can sing to convince Rachel that it really is over,” Finn said with a sigh.

“Well if it was me, I would sing the shit out of Nancy Sinatra but I don’t know if that’s really your style.”

“No, that’s perfect! Kurt, if anyone knows how to speak Rachel Berry’s language, it’s you. I think it might be exactly what I need for her to finally believe me that it’s over.”

“If nothing else, it will probably be cathartic to sing some of that anger out.”

“I’m going to bed. If I have weird-ass dreams, though, I am blaming you. That song was bananas.” Seems fair.

“Goodnight, Finn.”

“Goodnight, bro.”

Kurt gently closed the door and smiled to himself. This is exactly what I hoped being brothers would be like.

Chapter Text

By Thursday, Finn had really hit his stride in the moping department. He lay fully horizontal on the couch, already wearing his pajamas when it was barely 4pm. He was making quick work of a large bag of barbecue flavored potato chips as he stared blankly at the football game on the television. 

Doesn't he have any friends to come over and cheer him up?  

About to carry the latest issue of Vogue up to his room to peruse in peaceful silence, Kurt switched directions and settled himself in an armchair in the living room instead. Finn grunted to acknowledge his presence then glued his eyes back to the football game he was watching. 

“Finn, isn’t there anyone who could come over and cheer you up, or I don’t know, at least motivate you to put on clothes?” 

“Well normally I would hang out with Puck, but…” Kurt realized that Finn had lost not only his girlfriend but also his best friend in the course of this breakup.  

“Right. Maybe it’s time to start strengthening some other relationships.” 

Finn considered his words for a few minutes. “Have you met that new kid, Sam?” 

“Sam? No, it doesn’t ring a bell, sorry.” 

“Oh. His family moved here last month and he’s QB2 on the team.” I love how he says QB2 like he thinks I have any idea what that means. “He seems cool so far. Like he’s into music and video games…and football, obviously.” 

“You should invite him over,” Kurt suggested. “He probably doesn’t know that many people yet and would appreciate you reaching out. And you could probably use a new friend who isn’t involved in all this Rachel drama.”

“Yeah, okay, that’s a good idea actually. Thanks, Kurt.” 

“You’re welcome,” Kurt said, pleased that he had finally been able to say something helpful.  

An hour later, a boy with shaggy, platinum blonde hair showed up with a big bag of wings from the local barbecue joint. The first thing that Kurt noticed was that his eyebrows did not match his hair. Bottle blonde; gotcha!  

He extended his hand and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Kurt Hummel, Finn’s stepbrother. It’s nice to meet you.” 

“The name is Evans. Sam Evans.” Was that supposed to be Sean Connery?  

Kurt left them alone to murder zombies on the xbox. When he came down to start cooking dinner, Finn was smiling for the first time since the break-up. Sam was doing an imprecise but still entertaining impression of a young Justin Timberlake. 

You told me you love me
Why did you leave me all alone
Now you tell me you need me
When you call me on the phone
Girl, I refuse
You must have me confused with some other guy
The bridges were burned
Now it's your turn, to cry
Cry me a river

He must have told Sam about the Phil Collins debacle.

“Oh, hey, Kurt,” said Sam with a friendly wave, dropping the act.

“You can sing?”

“Oh, yeah, I guess.”

“No, not I guess. Trust me, you can sing. I would tell you if you couldn’t. You should join Glee Club. Finn and I are both in it!”

“I’ll have to think on that.” 

Kurt was about to head into the kitchen when Finn called out to him. 

“Hey, Kurt? So I’ve been trying to be better about like inviting you to guy stuff ‘cause like I get that you’re still a dude, even if you’re into a lot of girly stuff.” Finn cleared his throat awkwardly.

Kurt plastered what he hoped was a reassuring smile on his face and waited patiently for him to work through whatever it was he was trying to say. Finn was clearly trying to be considerate—even if it was coming out incredibly awkwardly— and he didn’t want to discourage whatever this was. 

“Anyways, so um, I’m pretty fucking bummed about the breakup with Rachel, obviously, and hanging out with Sam is really cheering me up. I was thinking maybe this weekend I could do like a full-on guys night. Maybe a night of shooting shit in Call of Duty would be a good distraction, or whatever. I wasn’t sure if I should, like, invite you though, because I know that’s not really your thing. But my mom said I shouldn’t assume you don’t want to do like guy stuff and you might at least appreciate being asked. So…I’m asking. I was gonna ask if Mike and Artie wanted to come over to play video games and eat pizza. Do you want to join us?” 

There were so many things Kurt could have said to object to the whole concept of “guy stuff” but he decided this was not the time, not when Finn was trying so hard to be more inclusive of Kurt. 

“Wow, Finn…I, uh, I’m really touched by your invitation. Way to go, Carole, with the good advice. You’re right that it isn’t really my thing but I also might have felt left out if I wasn’t invited. As it stands, I actually already agreed to go hang out with Rachel tomorrow night. She’s also seeking the company of friends to comfort her in this difficult time. But…thank you, seriously.”

Finn looked up and smiled at him. Kurt felt a surge of affection towards his stepbrother.  

“Okay, cool. I’m glad it was the right call to ask. So, uh, you’re really going over to Rachel’s? Wow, I didn’t even really think about how close you two are. Is this going to get…weird?”

“I hope not.” 

— 

In Glee Club on Tuesday, Finn surprised everyone by announcing that he had something to sing. Mr. Schuester seemed too exhausted to even register his protests to the increasingly flagrant disregard his students had for the lesson plan. Finn stood in the middle of the choir room in a pair of cowboy boots, flanked on either side by Kurt and Sam.  

You keep saying you got something for me
Something you call love but confess
You've been a'messin' where you shouldn't've been a'messin'
And now someone else is getting all your best

Finn pointed an accusing finger at Puck, practically spitting out the words. Kurt was downright proud of how well he was bringing the drama. My little grasshopper has grown so much.

These boots are made for walking
And that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

This time he pointed straight at Rachel, whose jaw dropped in shock and anger.

You keep lyin' when you oughta be truthin'
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin' when you oughta be a'changin'
Now what's right is right but you ain't been right yet 

These boots are made for walking
And that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you 

You keep playing where you shouldn't be playing
And you keep thinking that you'll never get burnt (HAH)
I just found me a brand new box of matches (YEAH)
And what he knows you ain't had time to learn
These boots are made for walking,
And that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

Are you ready, boots? Start walkin’

Kurt was pleased with how well the choreography had turned out. Nevertheless, the applause was muted given the awkward social dynamics at play.  

“Thank you, boys, for that…passionate performance. Please take a seat so we can review our setlist for Regionals.”

Rachel glared at him darkly for the rest of Glee club rehearsal. 

Lunchtime had been bad enough when Finn and Rachel were sitting at opposite sides of the usual Glee Club table in the cafeteria, aggressively pretending the other one didn't exist.  

But when Kurt entered the cafeteria that Friday, he quickly realized that things had gone horribly downhill. Kurt spotted Finn first and waved. Finn called out, “Hey, broseph!” 

Then, from a few tables over, a different voice called his name. “Kurt! Come sit with us!” This time it was Mercedes calling him to join her at a table with Rachel. 

Kurt stopped in his tracks, looking back and forth between the two tables with a growing feeling of panic. He turned to Blaine. “Oh no! Glee club is having its first schism. Also, remind me to tell Finn in no uncertain terms never to call me that again.” 

“So…wh-wh-wh-where do we sit, K-Kurt?” asked Blaine. 

Rachel sat at one table with Tina and Mercedes, while Finn had a separate table started with Sam and Artie. Both looked up at him expectantly, clearly convinced that he would choose them. 

“Well, Rachel looks like might actually murder me right now so I vote Finn.” 

Kurt could have sworn he could feel Rachel’s eyes boring hatefully into the back of his head for the entirety of lunch, but he was too scared to actually turn around to check. 

Kurt wondered if he was even still invited to Rachel’s sleepover that night, but she hadn’t uninvited him and he didn’t dare risk incurring further wrath by standing her up. 

“Brutus!” Rachel screamed at him, pointing an accusing finger in his direction as soon as he walked in the door. “How could you abandon me in my time of need?” 

“I know you have a vivid fantasy life, Rachel, but you do know you rule a middling Glee Club not the fucking Roman empire, right?” 

Rachel crossed her arms and glared.

“Look, Rach, I’m sorry! Finn was so mad when he found out I told you what he said. I was trying to patch things up with him; I do live with the guy after all. Look, you know I love you hon, but I love him too.” 

“He was mad? How mad? What did he say?” Rachel fired questions at him one after another. 

Kurt clapped a hand over his mouth, realizing what he had done. 

“No! Rachel, I promised him I wouldn’t share things he says with you anymore. Just call me Belinda Carlisle because my lips are sealed.” 

“If we didn’t have Regionals coming up so soon I would totally be scream-singing to ‘The Go-Gos’ until I passed out from exhaustion right now.” 

“Well, next time Nick gets an away pass from Dalton then we are definitely taking you out for a night of karaoke.”

“Deal. In the meantime, can we just watch ‘The Notebook’ until I cry myself to sleep?”

“Only if I’m allowed to text Blaine during the sad parts.”

“Where is he, anyways? I meant it when I said to invite him.” 

“Yeah, I don’t think his parents were too thrilled with the idea of him having a sleepover with his boyfriend. They’re a little more traditional than Hiram and Leroy. He was pretty disappointed since he’s still kind of obsessed with them but I’m mostly relieved because I’m still scared they are going to show me that powerpoint.” 

“Oh my god! You know what would really cheer me up?” Rachel’s lips curled into a wide smile and there was a maniacal glint in her eye. 

“I don’t like where this is going. What?” 

“You’re my best friend Kurt, you owe me, and I am in grief right now which means you have to do anything I say will make me feel better. Those are the rules of the friendship contract you signed.” 

“I knew I should have listened to Blaine’s dad about not signing things without reading them all the way through. Ugh, fine…but this is no genie situation. You get one wish Aladdin and that’s it.” 

“Fine! My wish is…to get to watch the awkwardness of my parents giving you the gay sex talk. It will be hilarious and honestly you kind of need to have it and I know you’re never going to agree to it otherwise.” 

“Agh…I can’t believe I’m saying this but fine.”  

Rachel clapped and for the first time that night, she was smiling. Maybe this really will be worth it. While she scurried upstairs to get her fathers, Kurt took a minute to text Blaine about his plight. 

Kurt: I have somehow been tricked into agreeing to let The Berrys give me a sex ed lesson. Help! This is not a drill! 

Blaine: Tricked? 

Kurt: I’m not good at resisting the pleas of a woman in tears.  

Blaine: Let me know if you learn anything good ;)

Kurt: All right, laugh it up. You’ll be sorry when I lay dying of humiliation in the hospital. It will be the first documented case. At least I’ll be famous. 

Blaine: And we were worried about Rachel being a drama queen?  

— 

“Now, kid, it’s easy to think there are no repercussions from sex when you can’t get anyone pregnant but you couldn’t be more wrong. No glove, no love…of any kind! I don’t care if you both say that you are virgins. 1 in 5 people will cheat in a relationship but 99% of people think it can’t possibly be their partner. Be smart and protect yourself. HIV isn’t the death sentence that it once was but your risks are still higher than the average straight person. You should also know that whoever bottoms is at a much higher risk of contracting an STD…” 

Kurt tried to drown out the onslaught of information by taking Rachel’s suggestion and scream-singing The Go-Gos in his mind. 

“Been running so long, I’ve nearly lost all track of time.
In every direction I couldn’t see the warning signs
I must be losin’ it ‘cause my mind plays tricks on me
It looked so easy, but you know looks sometimes deceive”

“Now you may think that anal sex is always done from behind but there are actually many ways to engage in this activity that allow for face-to-face contact. Some couples find this more intimate while others prefer the ease of movement allowed by the traditional position. Now there are some tricks to making this work.”

Oh god oh god are they going to start acting it out?

Kurt watched on in horror as Hiram and Leroy talked about where to put legs and hands. Kurt tried to get back to his happy place.

“Been running so fast right from the starting line 
No more connections I don’t need any more advice 
One hand’s just reaching out and one’s just hangin’ on
It seems my weaknesses just keep going strong”

Rachel was in a fit of giggles and covered her eyes. “Gross, dads, I don’t want to see that.” 

“It’s perfectly natural, Rachel. Now, Kurt, the other thing to know is that there is a wide-range of sex acts that make up the gay experience from mutual masturbation all the way up to anal sex and you get to choose which ones are enjoyable for you and your partner. There is no rule that says you even need to have anal sex; there are couples that don’t enjoy it and have healthy and fun sex lives without it.” 

Kurt’s face was starting to hurt from cringing, but suddenly he felt strangely relieved by this nugget of information. It wasn’t that he necessarily didn’t want to ever…do that, but it took some of the pressure off knowing that he didn’t have to if he didn’t want to. That it wasn’t somehow required in order to have a fully realized adult relationship. 

“Head over heels, where should I go?
Can’t stop myself, outta control
Head over heels, no time to think
Looks like the whole world’s out of sync”

“Now, let’s talk about enthusiastic consent! You should never ever do anything intimate with a partner who is anything less than an enthusiastic participant. That means that you should treat ‘maybe’ or ‘I don’t know’ as a negative response. Someone who really wants to have sex with you and won’t regret it the next day will respond enthusiastically. Wait for that ‘hell yes!’ reply.” 

“Oh my god, do you seriously think I’m going to rape someone? Jesus Christ!” Kurt shouted, horrified.

Hiram sat next to Kurt and patted his knee. “Of course not. But as men, the whole of society is sending us a message that we must pursue that which we want, that if we are turned down then we just have to try harder. It’s the message of every single romantic comedy, unfortunately. We are also taught that it’s not sexy to ask permission. You should both just know or something, but that’s poppycock. It’s critical to ask and communicate before, during, and after. Talk about what you want before, check-in to see if both parties are enjoying themselves during, and afterwards talk about what you both liked and didn’t like so you can be even better the next time.” 

Kurt thought back to Blaine’s insistence that they talk about intimacy, despite his resistance. Hiram’s words made him appreciate all over again how mature Blaine had been to approach it that way. To know that they needed to actually talk about it. I think we are going to be okay. I think we can do that. Again, he felt a sense of relief knowing that communication was the key to navigating physical intimacy and that Blaine and he had already opened a dialogue there. They could keep figuring out how to talk through things, no matter how embarrassing. Kurt was filled with the familiar feeling of warmth and safety when he thought about Blaine, even if there was  still anxiety and nerves about sex. 

"Been running so hard when what I need is to unwind
The voice of reason is one I left so far behind
I waited so long so long to play this part
And just remembered that I'd forgotten about my heart” 

— 

Of course, making up with Rachel meant that navigating the cafeteria was even more complicated the following Monday.

“I don’t know! Rachel’s one of my best friends and Finn is my stepbrother. I’m not sure who I owe my loyalty to. Ugh, it’s so unfair of them to make me choose.” 

“Then let’s g-g-g-get our own ta-table. We-we-we don’t have to pl-play their game.”  

“You are full of wisdom for one so young.” Kurt walked over to Rachel and then Finn, giving them the same message. “I love you both and I refuse to choose between you so Blaine and I will be finding somewhere else to eat until the two of you can find a more mature way to deal with this. I am officially declaring myself Switzerland in this dispute.” 

Finn crossed his arms and Rachel gave him a look of deep disapproval. They’ll get over it eventually. Right?  

Once Kurt had declared himself to be a neutral party, he had hoped that other Glee Club members would join him. But in the end, it was just Mike and Tina. Mike was better friends with Finn and Tina was better friends with Rachel, so rather than sit apart as a couple or choose a single allegiance, they chose to eat with Kurt and Blaine. 

Kurt found it to be an unexpected opportunity to get to know Mike better. He had always been one of the quieter members of New Directions and if he was completely honest with himself, Kurt had never really paid that much attention to Mike. 

But in this smaller setting, Kurt found him to be a sensitive young man who felt restricted by society’s expectations of masculinity, just like Kurt. “I’m just so sick of the other guys on the football team giving me shit about being a dancer. If they had any idea the amount of athleticism and discipline required…they just have no respect for what I do,” Mike vented to their burgeoning new lunch group. 

“You’re just more evolved than them, Mike,” Kurt explained. “It all goes back to misogyny. They think women are weak and less than so they are constantly trying to prove that they are nothing like women. Anything feminine that a man does, takes away from his elite status from being male.” 

Tina nodded emphatically and Mike blinked at him in surprise. “Woah, Kurt. That was…deep. I didn’t know you were such a philosopher.” 

Kurt laughed at Mike’s tone of awe. “Yeah, well, being gay really makes you confront a lot of fucked up shit in a way that straight men don’t really have to. After the hundredth time someone calls you a ‘girl’ like it’s the worst possible thing you could be, you kind of have to stop and think about why that’s even an insult. And like, most of my friends are girls. What’s wrong with being a girl? Girls are fucking awesome!”

“Here, here,” said Tina. Then she looked lovingly over at Mike. “He really is one of the good ones, isn’t he?” she cooed.

“D-d-d-definitely,” agreed Blaine. 

— 

Hoping to do some extra Regionals practice at home, Kurt dropped by the choir room after school to gather supplies. Instead, he found Finn and Rachel in the midst of a very loud argument. 

“He is my brother! Family always comes first, Rachel!” Finn sounded furious. 

“Puh-lease. Last year you and Puck were throwing him in the dumpster. You were never a friend to him until your parents started dating and you had to be. You will never understand him the way that I do. I bet you don’t even know what musical that song you sang together was featured in. We were friends first and you can’t have him!” Rachel shouted back. 

“He’s my brother!” Finn yelled. “You can’t take away my family! That’s not how it works. You always stick by family.” Finn’s face was flushed and Kurt started to wonder if this argument had started to be about something else. Rachel could never understand the way that losing a parent young can make family feel like a fragile concept that must be held onto tightly. 

Rachel stamped her foot angrily. 

Kurt gulped and both Rachel and Finn jumped in surprise as they finally noticed his presence. Rachel grabbed Kurt’s hand and pulled him towards her. “Kurt is my best friend! He would never abandon me.” 

“I, uh…” Kurt was flustered and unsure what to say. 

“Kurt is my brother,” Finn declared, grabbing Kurt’s other arm.  

“Ouch,” Kurt complained, as he was yanked back and forth like a rag doll. 

“St-st-st-st-stop it!” called out Blaine, angrily. “No more tug-o-K-Kurt.” 

Rachel and Finn both let go. “What the-the-the-the hell, guys?” Blaine demanded. “Is this the j-j-judgement of Solomon? D-Do I need to sssuggest cutting K-Kurt in half to see who re-really loves him? You are —both going to lose him if you keep this up. St-st-stop putting him in the m-m-middle of this.” 

Rachel and Finn, to their credit, both managed to look ashamed of themselves. Blaine wrapped a strong, comforting arm around Kurt and steered him out of the choir room, where he had stumbled upon the fighting exes. 

“Thanks, Blaine. That was getting so out of hand. I just…I hate feeling split in two like this. Why can’t they just understand that I love them both? They’re acting like children! God, if we ever broke up we would be so much classier about it.” 

“You think…you th-think we’re g-g-going to break up?” Blaine asked, suddenly looking small and sad. Kurt’s heart sank. 

“Oh, no, baby, of course not! I didn’t mean anything like that. It just…well, I guess it made me think, actually. I really thought those two would be together forever…it shakes your confidence a little bit, I guess. Not…not that I’m doubting us, not for a second.” Blaine’s face still fell and Kurt realized with alarm that his words were having the opposite of the desired effect.

“I guess…I mean…p-p-people have secrets. Wh-what if there was some secret I was —keeping from you?” Blaine asked, his voice thick with emotion. 

Wait what? 

“I—what? What secret?” Kurt felt himself starting to panic. 

“No! I’m not s-s-saying there is one. I’m just saying what if?” 

“Well, it’s a great way to make me worried that you have a big relationship-ending secret, so that’s an awesome turn for this conversation to have taken,” Kurt said bitterly. 

Blaine looked stricken. “I…I don’t even—h-h-how did this turn into a fight?” 

“I don’t know! I think maybe we are both a little more shaken by the break-up than we realized.” Kurt reached out to take Blaine’s hand, gently rubbing his thumb across his knuckles the way he knew Blaine found soothing. “So let’s imagine. What if one of us did have a big secret from before we were together? Do you really think we would betray the other out of vengeance? Because I think we have a pretty good track record of talking things out. Not perfect, mind you, but we always get there in the end, right?” 

Blaine looked up at him with love in his eyes. “Yeah, we do. And we-we-we-we’ve improved with t-time.”

“So let’s just…keep doing that. Keep communicating with each other, even when things get hard. Especially when things get hard. We’re not them, okay?” 

Blaine nodded and then pressed his lips to Kurt for a very necessary, very affirming kiss.

Chapter Text

Sam Evans was...unexpected. 

It had been a fairly normal afternoon in Weight Lifting class. Blaine was reassuring Finn, whose insecurity had only heightened in light of his recent break-up with Rachel. 

“Ugh, maybe if I had abs Quinn would take me back,” Finn suggested.

“Uh, I really don’t think that’s the, uh, uh d-d-deciding factor.” Besides, why would you want her to take you back? She cheated on you just like Rachel did, except she actually slept with Puck. 

A voice from somewhere behind Blaine broke in with, “Not everyone has what it takes to be this ‘abulous. I can put my shirt back on if that would help.”

Blaine whipped his head around to see a boy with white blonde hair and well-defined muscles lifting a rather impressive-sized free-weight. Blaine had noticed him before—how could he not?—but they had never spoken. Blaine thought he might be on the football team with Finn because he vaguely remembered seeing a jersey in his locker. The boy had joined their class last month at the start of second semester and Blaine had been a little surprised that he hadn’t noticed someone that good-looking before now.

“Really, there’s no need Sam. Your abs aren’t the ones comparing me to water animals of increasing size and roundness. I had to google a picture of a manatee but trust me you do not want to have your body described that way. Santana’s the problem, not you.”

“Which one is that again? Is she the hot one?” Sam asked. You’d have to be more specific than that. All the girls in Glee Club are beautiful. 

Finn, on the other hand, seemed to know exactly who Sam was referring to. “Yeah, man. She’s the hot one. Actually…if you wanted to ask her out this might be the perfect time. She’s seemed a little desperate since Valentine’s Day so I think her standards are at an all-time low.”

Blaine punched Finn in the shoulder. “Dude! That was offensive to —both Santana and S-S-S-S-Sam.” 

“Whatever, thanks for the tip, Finn. Good lookin’ out.” 

Blaine tried to find an opportunity to introduce himself, but somehow the moment never presented itself. The conversation organically fell to silence and then Sam wandered off to rack his weights. 

“Who-who was th-that?” Blaine asked.

“The boy you were drooling all over? That was Sam Evans. He transferred to McKinley this semester from like Kentucky or something—maybe it was Tennessee?— and now he’s QB2 on the football team. I’ve actually been trying to recruit him for Glee Club; maybe you can help me.”

“I w-w-was not —drooling!” Blaine insisted defensively.

“Sure, dude. Whatever you say,” Finn said, voice dripping with sarcasm. Blaine glared at him in silence for the rest of the class.

“Attention, please!” Finn called out, standing in the middle of the choir room. “I want everyone to put your hands together for the newest member of The New Directions…Sam Evans!”

Blaine applauded politely and watched as a lanky teenage boy with shaggy, platinum blond hair walked into the choir room and gave a friendly wave.

Finn continued, “Sam transferred to McKinley last month and he is QB2 on the football team. As soon as I found out he could sing, I convinced him to join Glee.”

“Hey! I helped,” Kurt added. Kurt knows Sam?

“And Kurt helped,” Finn agreed.

“Welcome!” Mr. Shue said enthusiastically. “I hope you are prepared to put in some hard work because Regionals is in less than a month. I’m instituting ‘Booty Camp’ again to help Sam get caught up with the choreography and I think a lot of you would benefit from the extra practice.”

Kurt leaned over and whispered in his ear, “So he’s obviously not a natural blond, I mean look how brown those brows are. I call team gay? What do you think Blaine?”

Blaine shrugged. This didn’t feel like a safe topic of conversation. 

He couldn’t help but notice how tight Sam’s clothes were, but it could easily be a straight boy wanting to show off his fit body. And Blaine also couldn’t help but notice how fit that body was. The sleeves of his t-shirt were tight on his biceps and hinted at the abs Blaine already knew were hiding underneath. He let out a small sigh. Stop ogling before Kurt notices. Remember, Kurt. Your perfect, loving boyfriend who is also very hot.

Blaine glanced over at Kurt, trying to gauge if he had noticed anything. Thankfully, Kurt seemed distracted by considering the correlation between hair dye and sexual orientation. 

The team argued about the set list for a full hour. Rachel was operating at maximum levels of post-breakup narcissism which made for an especially bitter fight over solos. In the end, it looked like she would have lead on two out of the three songs, which all in all Blaine considered a victory.

It was only a few days later, when Blaine ran into Sam in the locker room. One thing straight people don’t have to deal with: awkward locker room encounters. At least he wasn’t in the middle of changing; that would have been unbearable.

Blaine was deep into a boxing workout when he heard an over-the-top Italian accent. “Yo’, Adrian.” It was a pretty good Sylvester Stallone impression. Blaine paused and turned to see who it was. He gasped slightly when he realized it was Sam Evans looking positively edible in loose gym shorts and a cotton tank top with oversized sleeve holes. 

“Oh, uh, h-h-h-hi S-Sam,” he stuttered out, too surprised to use his strategies. 

“What was your name again, Rocky?”

“B-B-B-B-B…shit…—Blaine.” He felt himself blush with embarrassment. He hadn’t been that bad getting his name out in a while. But he hadn’t had to introduce himself in a while either. “I, uh, I…I have a st-st-st-st-stutter, so…yeah.”

“Oh!” Sam looked strangely excited. His voice switched over to a British accent as a string of profanities came out of his mouth, “Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, and fuck! Fuck, fuck and bugger!”

Blaine had no idea what was going on. Does he think that is what stuttering is? Is he going for a Tourette’s thing? Wow, this is really offensive.

“What on earth was th-that?” he demanded angrily.

“King George? ‘The King’s Speech ?” Sam’s tone indicated that he thought this information should have been obvious.

Blaine just stared at him blankly.

“Dude! It’s a movie about King George and his stutter, how have you not seen it?” Sam asked.

Blaine let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, I-I-I guess I hadn’t h-h-heard of it. We d-d-don’t get all the In-Indie movies here; it’s too s-s-small. Was it any good?”

“I’m not the biggest fan of historical dramas but even I thought it was pretty chill. I’m kind of a huge movie buff, in case you can’t tell.”

“Good to know. Yeah, K-Kurt’s intro-introduced me to some cool fffilms.” 

Sam gave him a knowing look. “So is he your…”

“—boyfriend? Yup!” Blaine felt strangely relieved to have explicitly acknowledged Kurt to the target of this…crush? Attraction? Somehow it helped make the whole thing feel a little more harmless.

“Cool, you guys seem cute together.”

“Thanks. Are you…” Blaine started to ask and then realized he was probably being too forward. Damn, Kurt, getting it in his head.

“Gay?” Sam laughed. “Nah, I’m all about the ladies. But compliment taken.” Sam winked at him.

“Wha—I wasn’t—I d-d-d-didn’t…” Blaine buried his face in his hands.

“When you’ve been hot as long as I have, you tend to notice people checking you out. Don’t worry about it, though, man seriously. I work out this much because I want people to notice my body and I’m not picky about who notices. I’d be kind of offended if you didn’t, to be honest. What, is Kurt such an uptight jealous bitch that you aren’t even allowed to look at other guys? Because that’s a little crazy. Everyone has little crushes sometimes, it doesn’t have to mean anything.” 

Blaine was shocked by Sam’s relaxed attitude. He would have felt so embarrassed if the roles were reversed.

“I-I-I…” Blaine took a deep breath, focusing on smoothing out his sounds before he continued, “I have no idea how K-Kurt would feel. I guess I always, uh, uh, assumed that be-be-being in a relationship meant n-n-never looking at anyone else. I feel kind of awful, actually. I mean I love him so much, you know, I would never—I don’t want anyone else. Oh my god, d-d-does that mean he’s b-b-been checking out guys too?”

Sam laughed. “Um, probably, dude! Have you seriously not been until now? How long have you two been dating, like a week?”

Blaine felt strangely like a child in this conversation. “Almost three mmmonths. And, uh, I g-g-guess I tried not to.”

“Well, I’m impressed you lasted as long as you did.”

Of course, after that conversation with Sam, every time he was with Kurt, Blaine started wondering who he might be checking out. He found himself watching him, trying to see where his gaze landed. 

Kurt was starting to get weirded out by all of his staring. Blaine covered by saying, “You’re just looking especially beautiful today, honey.” Kurt preened and Blaine felt a stab of guilt. Is this still heebie jeebies from Finn and Rachel breaking up? Am I freaking out about Kurt and I for no reason? 

It didn’t help his confidence when Kurt cancelled their standing Wednesday coffee date that week.

“Oh, hey, I can’t make it to Lima Bean this afternoon.”

“Oh, okay. Why?” Blaine tried to hide his pang of disappointment.

“Dave’s coming over, actually.”

Blaine felt his brows knit together. “Dave as in Dave Karofsky? Is coming over to your house? Alone?”

Kurt quirked an eyebrow in response. “Yes, that Dave. Coming to terms with his sexuality has been really hard on him. I’m kind of the only person he can talk to about this stuff.” 

“Well, c-c-can I come hang with you-you guys?” Blaine felt slightly pathetic for begging. He didn’t want to leave Kurt alone with Dave, though. He couldn’t help feeling protective. Am I worried he is going to hurt Kurt or that he is going to flirt with Kurt? Agh, weird feelings, go away. 

“Um, I don’t think that would be a good idea, sweetheart. He kind of knows you don’t like him so I don’t think he’s ready to have a big gay kiki quite yet. He’s really private about all of this. Sorry, babe, maybe another time.”

Blaine hated the stab of…was it jealousy? Feeling left out? Well, whatever it was…it felt like a knife in the gut. You’re being ridiculous. Kurt is just helping out a friend.

Blaine: How’s it going?

Kurt : Fine. Can’t really talk right now.

Blaine frowned at his phone. He told you he would be busy, why are you disappointed? You have other friends besides Kurt, text one of them.

He pulled up Sam’s number, wondering briefly if there was anything wrong with texting the boy he had a tiny harmless crush on. He decided it was probably fine.

Blaine: Did anyone warn you not to get in the middle of the Finchel Schism? Because I would hate for you to get murdered your first week in Glee.

Sam: I have no idea what most of those words meant, so let’s assume not.

Blaine : That would be the epic breakup of Finn and Rachel that has torn the glee club asunder. There are those on Team Finn, those on Team Rachel, and those of us, like myself, who are on Team Switzerland.

Sam : Woah, good looking out. Wait…Rachel is single? She’s kind of hot, right?

Sam : Wait nvm, forgot who I was asking.

Blaine : It was super recent so you should probably give things a little time to cool down. Finn is also pretty sensitive about friends stealing his girlfriends, so just…play it carefully, okay?

Blaine: Also, I’m gay, not blind. Yes, she’s hot.

Sam: Fine, I guess I can be patient.

Sam : Dude, do you like Avatar?

Blaine: I’m guessing not as much as you do?

Sam: IT’S THE BEST. THEY CAN TALK TO TREES. I WANT TO TALK TO TREES!

Blaine: Well, if you show me that King’s Speech movie then I’ll watch Avatar with you? Deal?

Sam: Heck yes! It will be the weirdest movie marathon ever!

Once he got used to how attractive Sam was, Blaine found that he really enjoyed hanging out with him. They had a lot in common, once he got to know Sam better, and he felt like Sam filled a different niche in his life than Kurt or really any of his other friends. With Sam, Blaine could obsess about comics and Doctor Who both of which Kurt tolerated but wasn’t actually that interested in. 

Sam had flipped out over the photos of Wesley and Elaine dressed as the doctor and Rose, although it had led to a heated debate over which was the best doctor. Blaine was fully committed to Matt Smith—“You have to love a man in a bowtie!”—but Sam insisted that David Tennant was superior. In the end, they concluded that only a rewatch of seasons two through seven could resolve the issue.

It was strange to realize that Sam was his first friend at McKinley that truly felt like his friend, rather than a friend of Kurt’s that had also become his friend. Kurt had been his first and closest friend at McKinley, and Blaine had never really thought about how much McKinley had always felt like Kurt’s world that Blaine had stepped into. 

It wasn’t until Blaine had plans with Sam for the third time in a row that Kurt wanted to go out that he began to get resentful. “Why don’t you let me know when you’re available, Mr. Popular,” Kurt had finally said, in his most biting tone. Blaine felt the sting of his words. Kurt just does this when he’s feeling insecure. You should reassure him.

But it was like someone took over his body and before he knew what was happening, he was doing the exact opposite of that. “Well, I’m sorry that I finally have friends other than-other than-other than you , Kurt, but you d-d-d-don’t have to be such a bitch about it.”

Kurt’s eyes flashed. Blaine gasped, realizing what he had said and clapped his hands over his mouth. Kurt turned around on his heels and stomped away from him. Blaine tried calling out after him but he got no response. Finally, he kicked the wall in frustration. Great, now he’s really pissed at me. 

Blaine cut the engine to his car and took a deep breath. He felt a pang of anxiety as he looked at the front door to the Hudson-Hummel house. Another deep breath and he was filled with resolve; he needed to talk to Kurt.

The snow crunched under his feet as he stepped out from the car. He heard a creaking sound and looked up to see Kurt standing in the doorway to his house, one hand on the open front door. His eyes met Blaine’s and an expression of surprise overtook him.

Blaine jogged up the walk until he was just a few feet away from Kurt, who was still gaping at him in confusion. “I was just…I was just about to drive over to your house,” he finally explained.

Blaine chuckled. “Great minds, I su-suppose.” Kurt smiled back at him. “So…c-c-can we talk?”

“I would like that. Come inside. I’ll make us some tea and then we can go talk in my room.”

Blaine was grateful for the steaming mug of mint tea. It gave him something to do while he was trying to collect his thoughts. 

“I’m sorry I was so petty about you hanging out with Sam. I don’t want you to think that I don’t want you having other friends.”

“Well, I sh-sh-shouldn’t have snapped b-back. You’re not-not a —bitch.”

“I mean, I kind of was being a bitch, so point taken. But I’d also appreciate you not calling me names.”

“Can you—can you tell me why, uh, uh you were up-upset?”

Now it was Kurt’s turn to blow on his tea in thoughtful silence.

“It’s…it’s really stupid. I’m embarrassed to say.” Kurt buried his face in his hands, blue eyes peeking through splayed fingers.

Blaine whined in response.

“Fine! I guess…you’ve just changed a lot since I met you. In good ways! Really good ways. You would barely speak to anyone when I first met you and now you’re so much friendlier and open to new people. You’re so much less shy about people hearing you stutter. Most importantly, I can see that all of these changes have made you happier. I don’t want this to sound like I think any of that is bad. But…well, I guess maybe in my darkest moments of insecurity, I wonder if you’re outgrowing me.”

“Kurt,” Blaine said, his voice breaking with emotion. “That’s a-a-a-absurd.”

“I know! See, I told you it was stupid. But it’s how I’m feeling, so…”

“So you’re en—titled to your feelings. But, honey, p-please know that you are no less sp-special to me just because my sssocial circle is getting wider. Don’t worry about me not…not needing you be-because I’ll always want you, okay?”

Realizing he had lost eye contact—something he was still working on—Blaine looked up to see Kurt’s blue eyes swimming in tears. He nodded solemnly and Blaine reached out to cup his cheeks, carefully brushing away the single tear that spilled over and began to run down his cheek. As always, Kurt’s skin was impossibly soft against his finger tips.

“I l-l-lo-love you,” Blaine declared, being sure to look straight into Kurt’s eyes as he said it. “So f-f-f-fucking much, you have to-to-to know that. I’ll ne-ne-never outgrow you. Let’s just both keep growing to-together, okay?”

Kurt nodded and gave Blaine a weak smile. “Yeah, okay. That sounds pretty good. I’m sorry for getting all weird and insecure. I just…you’re so amazing, Blaine. I don’t know if you see it because you’ve spent so long kind of hiding from people, but you’re so talented and charismatic and seriously drop-dead gorgeous. Like seriously, I feel like you could have any guy that you wanted now that you’re more confident. Like Sam. He is really hot and I know you must have noticed and now you guys are friends and everything. He is like, too hot for me, someone like that would never be with me but he’s not too hot for you. You’re both that hot.”

Blaine was a bit stunned by Kurt’s rambling confession. He wasn’t quite sure where to start. He wanted to reassure Kurt as emphatically as possible but he was slightly thrown by Kurt bringing Sam into this conversation. Because, of course, he was attracted to Sam. Not that anything would ever happen with Sam. Not that Blaine even wanted anything to happen because he didn’t. He just didn’t want his tiny little meaningless crush to mar the authenticity of what he was about to say.

“Sweetheart. K-Kurt. I ch-ch-ch-chose you. Not because no one else would have me. Be-be-because I think you’re amazing too. You are ssso talented. You are so god damn clever and funny. You are d-d-d-drop-dead gorgeous.”

Kurt let out a heavy sigh. “Right, sure…yes. Gorgeous. Okay. I’m gorgeous. I’m pretty. I’m beautiful. But hot? Sexy? That’s just never going to be me. I know that. I’ve come to terms with that for the most part. You like me for my personality and that’s fine. I like that you’re not superficial, really.”

What on earth is he talking about?

“I…b-b-but…huh? I li-li-literally have no clue what this is. Of course, you’re hot!”

Kurt shook his head.

“You are, though.”

Kurt shook his head more vigorously, blushed, and then buried his face in his hands.

“Sweetie,” Blaine said with a pleading whine. “Why d-d-don’t you think you’re hot?”

“I…I just…I’m just…I’m not, okay. I don’t want to talk about it. Forget I said anything. In fact, maybe just leave me here to wallow in my humiliation for a little while.”

“Well, as —tempting as that sounds, no, we are go-going to talk about this. I ne-need you to look at me when I s-say this so you be-believe me.”

Kurt did not move. Blaine reached out and pried his hands off of his face, like barnacles.

“I think you are so-so-so in-incredibly sexy. On the inside, sure, b-but also on the out-outside. I used to st-stare at your ass long be-before we were dating.”

“Wait, what? Really?”

“Yeah, you idiot! I ju-just didn’t want you to n-n-notice. I’m g-g-good at being patient with waiting but you have no idea how m-m-much I just want to rip your clothes off and make you feel s-s-so fucking good.” Blaine leaned forward to whisper in his ear, “I get so t-t-turned on just thinking about it. And yes, it’s exciting be-be-because I love you but also b-b-b-beause you are sexy as all get out.”

Kurt made the most delicious moaning sound in response to Blaine’s whispered confession. “Holy shit,” he sputtered out. “You have been holding out on me, Blaine Anderson.”

“I d-d-didn’t want you to feel any —pressure,” he explained defensively. Then he dropped his head as the next thought occurred to him. “Oh my god, have I f-f-fallen ill to the age-old Madonna-whore complex? Have I b-b-been trying too hard not to-to-to ob-objectify you? Shit, I’m sorry.” 

“Well, I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about but I definitely don’t object to being objectified from time to time. It…it’s nice to know that you feel that way about me.” Kurt was still blushing, but this time it was accompanied by a very sweet smile.

“Duly noted,” Blaine said with a solemn nod. I solemnly swear that I will tell you how incredibly sexy you are so you never have cause to doubt it again. “Oh, and the Madonna-whore complex is when a man se-se-separates the idea of lust from love, so he s-s-sees his wife as pure like the virgin Mary and o-o-other women can be se-sexual beings, or ‘whores’…agh, sorry I hate s-s-saying that word. It’s a re-really t-t-toxic mindset that re-re-reduces women to one di-dimension.”

“Wow…I really need to get you to tell me what websites to read because you always know so much more about all this social politics stuff. That makes a lot of sense, though, as an idea. I don’t know if you were fully doing that but I’m glad you know that I’m not just one or the other of those things. Maybe you just needed a little reminder.”

“So are we —done?” Blaine asked. He didn’t have anything else he wanted to say but he didn’t want to assume that Kurt didn’t have to discuss.

Kurt nodded. He smiled sheepishly at Blaine before asking, “Can I have a hug? I feel a little…raw from all of this.”

“Of course!” He pulled Kurt in close and wrapped his arms tightly around him. As Kurt’s arms squeezed him firmly, Blaine felt a cathartic release of emotion that took him by surprise. I guess I needed a hug too.  

“Mmm, that felt…like really good. I mean hugging you always feels good but it was, like, very comforting. Can we always end arguments like this?”

Blaine nodded. “I f-f-felt it too.”

“Can we also have, um, make-up make-outs?” Kurt blushed slightly as he posed this request.

Blaine nodded enthusiastically and flopped down on Kurt’s bed, pulling his boyfriend on top of him. Kurt’s lips were warm and passionate against his and Blaine shivered with how good he felt. How could I ever want someone else when I have you? 

Kurt was bolder than usual, his hands quickly sliding up under Blaine’s shirt and caressing the sensitive skin of his stomach. When Kurt’s thumbs brushed over his hip bone, Blaine couldn’t help but let out a moan. In response, Kurt wrapped his fingers around Blaine’s hip and pulled him closer. Their hips were pressed together now and Blaine became very aware of just how much he could feel, and of how much Kurt must be able to feel.

Pulling back slightly, Blaine whispered up at him, “Is this okay? Be-be-be-because god you are s-s-s-so hot right now but…we didn’t t-t-talk first and…” Blaine trailed off, looking questioningly up at Kurt. 

Kurt stared straight back, his eyes unusually dark. “Thank you for checking. You are so, so good about that.” Kurt reached up to stroke Blaine’s cheek and he shivered at the softness of the touch. “But I…this feels really good and not scary at all. Knowing that you think I’m sexy…well, it makes me feel sexy and…I don’t know, you’re right it’s magic because it’s us.”

Blaine felt his heart start to race as his brain caught up to what was going on. We are really doing this. Oh my god, we are really doing this. Fuck. Filled with a surge of desire, Blaine rolled them over so he was on top of Kurt and resumed their heated making out. He stopped only long enough for Kurt to pull his shirt off over his head. They both laughed when it briefly got stuck around Blaine’s ears. Then Blaine made quick work of Kurt’s top before hungrily pressing their tongues together. 

Then the most wonderful sensation passed through his body as Kurt’s hands slid down his back, lower, lower still until they were gliding over the curve of his butt. No one had ever touched Blaine there and it felt profoundly intimate. It also provided a rather perfect handhold for Kurt to pull Blaine’s hips down against his own. 

Even through several layers of clothing, just knowing that Kurt’s erection was on the other side was thrilling when he felt it press up against his thigh. But that wasn’t where Blaine wanted him so he shifted positions until they were pressed up against each other. He let out a gasp and Kurt let out the most beautiful little moan of pleasure. 

“Fuck,” Blaine whispered breathlessly. “Did I mention how fucking sexy you are?”

“Keep saying it like that and I might start to believe you,” Kurt said with a mischievous grin. Blaine retaliated by kissing the grin right off of his face. Then they both started giggling and had to pull away for a few seconds.

“Do you think everyone laughs this much when they’re getting their sexy on?” Kurt said, still laughing quietly.

“No, only the-the-the re-really cool —people. See, look, we’re still us. Goofy and sappy and sweet. Oh and sexy, definitely sexy.”

Kurt beamed up at him with eyes full of love and Blaine felt like his heart might stop or melt into a useless pile of bloody goo. The mood shifted back to hot and heavy after that.

Blaine learned a lot of things about Kurt that night. He learned how insecure he was, despite his usual withering disdain for the opinions of others. He learned that Kurt’s perfect hair got deliciously rumpled after rolling around for a while. And he learned how Kurt’s face contorted when he was close to climaxing and how his head dropped back when he finally did. 

Kurt’s breathing was rough and heavy as he came down from the excitement. Blaine felt a pang of worry that Kurt might regret his decision once the hormones faded. This seemed like the moment when doubts would hit, if doubts were to be had. Blaine was overcome with realizing how much trust he had just been given by his boyfriend. It was the ultimate act of vulnerability and Kurt deserved nothing less than to feel completely safe and cherished. 

Blaine laid on his back and scooped Kurt up in his arms, letting him lay his head on Blaine’s chest like a pillow. He pressed kisses over and over again into his hairline and whispered declarations of love. He trailed his fingertips up and down Kurt’s arm and let him sit in the quiet. Maybe he needed to think. Maybe he was still regaining his mental faculties. Don’t congratulate yourself too much there, Blaine.  

After several more minutes passed, Blaine was overtaken by the uncertainty of it all. He had to ask. “Sweetheart, are you-you okay? Tell me what you need.”

Kurt’s head lifted from his chest and Blaine saw the blissed out expression on his face. “Oh, no I’m great,” he said with an enormous grin on his face. “Sorry, I was just…enjoying laying here with you.”

“Good. I’ll go b-b-back to enjoying it too then. I ju-ju-just wwwanted to check.” Blaine settled Kurt’s head back on his chest and traced patterns into his arms and back. He thought he could easily fall asleep like this, but forced himself to stay awake since his parents would be furious if he missed his curfew.

“My dad gave me this big speech about sex a while ago. It was…horribly awkward but he said something that…I don’t know, seemed sort of profound. He said that sex does something to you. It does something to your heart. At the time, I thought he was just telling me not to be a slut but now I’m realizing he was trying to tell me how good it can feel. Because—oh god now I’m going to be the sappy one—I just…I feel…I feel so close to you right now. I didn’t…I mean I knew it was supposed to feel good physically…but I…it stirred up all these emotions too. It did do something to my heart: it made me fall even deeper in love with you. Which is wonderful, because that’s what I want us to have.”

By the time Kurt was done with his speech, Blaine could feel tears stinging at his eyes. “Sorry, that was just…wow, I’m so lucky to be with you. I’m so…honored that you feel that way.”

“It definitely makes me want to return the favor,” Kurt said with a wink. Then he frowned. “I might need to get out of these clothes, though, because yikes do I feel sticky and weird now.” He hopped up and skipped off to the en suite bathroom. Blaine sighed to himself in contentment. When he could put it off no longer, he glanced over at the clock. It confirmed his fears that he should really be getting home if he wanted to make curfew. 

Kurt pouted at him when he came out and saw that Blaine had pulled his polo shirt back over his head and was starting to do up the buttons on his cardigan. “As te-te-tempting as that offer was, it’s going to—it’s going to—it’s going to have to keep for another —time because it’s already 9:30.”

“Oh wow, so it is! Fine, be responsible then.” He was doing some first class fake Kurt grumbling that made Blaine feel a wave of fondness for his adorable boyfriend.

Blaine kissed him goodbye and then whistled quietly to himself as he walked down the stairs. He was suddenly nervous when he saw Burt sitting in his favorite armchair in the living room. He’s going to be able to tell somehow with voodoo dad powers. Maybe if I don’t make eye contact he won’t know. That’s how they see into your soul, right? 

“Drive home safe, son.” When Blaine looked over, Burt was already back to his historical book about World War II. Phew, I made it. 

Chapter Text

“See Blaine Anderson naked.” 

Kurt was grinning to himself in a state of joyful disbelief about what had happened in his bedroom that night. Too excited to go to bed, he found himself sitting on the rug in his bedroom, flipping through the memorabilia in his hope chest. 

He paused when he got to the book of coupons from Blaine. Reading that particular coupon reminded him of the cheeky expression on Blaine’s face when Kurt had read it aloud on Valentine’s Day. While he had appreciated the thought behind it, it had seemed like such an abstract concept at the time. It was a “someday” activity. He wanted to do it someday, but it felt safely far away. 

But now… something had changed between them. They had crossed a line of sorts, one that could not be uncrossed. 

These things had a progression to them and once you started you were supposed to proceed along some vaguely linear path, each step a greater degree of intimacy until you had reached some end point. 

Kurt dropped the coupon, suddenly struck with a fit of nerves.

But how fast is too fast? How do I know when I’m ready? Do I just…know, or is there like some protocol here?

Loathe though he was to admit it, the sex talk from Rachel’s dads had actually been of some use to him. But they hadn’t exactly covered this. He tried to remember exactly what they had said… something about enthusiasm? If he thought too hard about it, all he heard was Belinda Carlisle.

Constant enthusiasm? No…that’s not right. Enthusiastic concentration? No…oh wait, was it enthusiastic consent? That sounds right. What did that mean again? Making sure both people feel…enthusiastic before they do...stuff. But how do you know if you’re “enthusiastic” when you feel excited and desperately nervous at the same time?

Kurt’s brain was spiraling into a tangled mess. Conceding that he wasn’t going to figure any of this out tonight, he closed the chest and slid it back underneath his bed. It was getting late and now that his bubble of joy had been slightly deflated by reality, he suddenly felt the day catching up with him.

After carefully washing and moisturizing his face, Kurt checked his phone. Blaine!

Blaine: I think I’m supposed to say that I’m on cloud 9 but honestly I think I need a  higher scale. Cloud 10? Cloud 11? I need one that goes up to 11, like that guy in Spinal Tap.

Kurt’s chest felt warm and tender, even as he chuckled.

Kurt: I’ll take whatever cloud you’re on, please.

Blaine: Deal :)

Blaine: So…how do you feel?

He seriously has some kind of boyfriend sixth sense. Kurt bit his lip, unsure how to respond. He didn’t want to give Blaine the impression that he regretted anything, because he didn’t, not in the slightest. But he did feel…sort of weird. It was just…a lot to take in. And he felt unsure of what would happen next. But was that the sort of thing he should be honest with Blaine about? Maybe there were some things he should keep to himself, not because he was hiding them from Blaine exactly but rather to protect his feelings. 

Kurt’s thoughts were interrupted when his phone started vibrating. “Blaine Anderson Calling.”  

“I took too long to answer your text, huh?” he guessed.

There was silence on the other end, so Kurt waited patiently, knowing that Blaine was working through his response.

Y-y- yeah, b-b-b- basically. So wh-what’s going through that —gorgeous head of yours?”

“I’m a little overwhelmed.”

“Oh.” 

“But! That doesn't mean I regret anything, because I really don’t. It was…well, it was perfect.”

“Okay, g-g-g- good.” Kurt could hear the smile in his voice.

“That’s why I didn’t respond right away. I was just trying to figure out how to explain without worrying you unnecessarily.”

“So…what-what-what…uh, uh, wh-what has you over-overwhelmed exactly?”

Kurt was glad they weren’t talking over video chat because he could feel how pink his cheeks were getting.

“I guess I’m just…nervous about everything that comes…later and the, um, the pace—I guess that’s the word I’m looking for—of how things go in the future.”

“I wwwould never —pressure you, —Kurt,” Blaine said with a sigh.

“No, no, of course not. I know that, Blaine. I’m not worried about you, I’m worried about me!”

“Huh?”

“I’m worried that I…that I won’t know when I’m—when I’m ready for the next…step, I guess. Gah, this is hard to talk about.”

“Well, then I’m-I’m-I’m-I’m really —proud of you for-for t-talking about it.”

“Oh, well, um thanks.”

“Look…I-I-I-I know how, um, um, a-a-awkward this can be to-to-to-to —talk a-about, —but…well…we can figure…this stuff out…together…if you want. If you…don’t know…if you’re ready…then-then-then…” 

Blaine paused and Kurt could hear him breathing over the phone. He waited since Blaine clearly wasn’t done. It had been a while since Blaine had gone full ERASM; the conversation must be getting hard for him.

“…then, well, I mean…if you want you can…you know…talk about it w-w-with me. If that, um, I mean I-I-I —don’t know if-if-if-if that would, like, um….help but…I want you to-to…to know that it’s…an option.”

How did I get this lucky?

“Thank you, Blaine. That means a lot to me. I do feel a little less…alone in figuring all of this out. Thanks for reminding me that we are always a team.”

“My ffffavorite team.”

“Okay, you big flirt. I really do have to go to bed now.”

“I wouldn’t want to —disturb your —beauty rest. G-g-g-g-good night, sweetheart. I-I-I love you.”

“Damn straight; no one messes with my beauty rest. I love you too. Sweet dreams.”

Kurt did not enjoy keeping secrets. 

It was one of the reasons coming out of the closet had been such a relief. Not that he was bad at it, not at all. He was nowhere near as gossipy as Rachel, who was known for being incapable of keeping anything a secret for more than 12 hours. It was just that he valued honesty and keeping secrets from those he cared about felt like a betrayal of his own core beliefs.

And yet, somehow, he found himself keeping a secret from one of the people he cared about most in the world: Blaine. 

It had all started on Valentine’s Day, with the four missed calls from Dave Karofsky. After denying that anything was wrong, Dave ducked his phone calls for nearly a week.

Blaine seemed grumpy when Kurt complained about it. “Why won’t he talk to me?” 

Blaine’s expression was inscrutable but Kurt suspected he was still displeased. He sighed in annoyance. I forgave him, so why can’t Blaine? 

“Don’t be like that. I’m seriously worried about him.”

Blaine remained impassive. “Okay. Well, if he wants—if he wants your help, then he’s g-g-going to have to let you know, right?”

“I suppose,” Kurt reluctantly agreed. “Still, I think I’ll try to find him after school today before football practice starts.”

“Alone?”

“It’s perfectly safe, Blaine.”

“Fine.” Blaine bit his lip.

“Dave?” Kurt called out hesitantly into the locker room. He had never felt particularly comfortable or welcome in this space, but he knew it was the most likely place to find Dave before practice started.

“What?” he asked, gruffly. Kurt rounded the corner, following his voice. Dave’s uniform was laid out on the bench and he was halfway through peeling off his thermal shirt when Kurt spotted him. 

Karofsky stood across from him in a white, short-sleeved undershirt. Kurt gasped at the deep purple bruises edged in greenish-yellow that ran down his left arm. 

“What the hell happened to you, Dave?” Kurt demanded angrily.

Karofsky looked startled, as if Kurt had walked in on him naked. He grabbed his jersey and roughly pulled it on, covering up the bruises. Are those handprints?  

He grunted wordlessly and pushed past Kurt, breaking out into a jog, and took off through the exit that led directly to the football field. Kurt stared after him for several long seconds. Well, shit. Now what? 

Kurt thought about when he had been at his lowest point, pushing everyone away, ignoring the offers of help. It hadn’t been until Blaine had beat down his door and demanded that he talk to him that things had finally turned around for Kurt. Is this the part where I go to his house and demand to talk to him? 

But things had been so different with Blaine. He and Blaine were already close at that point; they were best friends. Kurt didn’t really even consider Dave a friend, let alone a close one. More of a tolerable acquaintance with whom he shared a strange history. They were pulled together by shared unfortunate circumstances, that was all. Should I tell Ms. Pillsbury? She’s a professional so she should know what to do. 

In the end, he asked the wisest person he knew: Burt Hummel.

“What do you do when someone needs your help but won’t accept it?” he asked his dad.

“Well, kiddo, you can’t force someone to open up. You can push, sure, but in the end it’s still up to him. Some people…well, they need space to feel safe. Maybe you need to back off for a little while and let him come to you. Just keep showing him that you are supportive and trustworthy without pressuring him.”

“How?”

“Keep being a reliably friendly presence in his life. Even if you get nothing in return, just treat each day as if it’s a reset and try again. Check-in on him without prying so he knows you care. After that, the rest is up to him.”

Kurt pondered his dad’s advice. He didn’t feel any more in control of the situation but he felt slightly reassured that he was doing everything he could. Ultimately, it just wasn’t a situation he could have control over. He took a few deep breaths to calm the antsy feeling building in the pit of his stomach.

Kurt tried to follow his dad’s advice. Every time he saw Dave, he gave him a friendly wave or an encouraging smile. Sometimes Dave would acknowledge his efforts and other times not so much.

Kurt found it easier not to take his rebuffs personally than Blaine did. 

“Why do you —put up with him? He may not be bullying you anymore but are you really okay with him being so r-r-r-rude?” Blaine questioned in a tone of annoyance.

“He’s not being rude. He’s just…in a bad mood today, I think. It’s not personal.”

“Hmm,” said Blaine, unconvinced. Kurt let out a sigh but dropped the subject.

Kurt was just starting to wonder if should give up when Dave finally decided to talk to him. It happened out of the blue one afternoon when Dave found him after school, asking if they could talk in private.

So Kurt found himself inviting his former bully over to his house for the second time.

Kurt made them each a mug of green tea and then invited Dave into his bedroom, where they wouldn’t be interrupted. He wasn’t keeping Dave a secret from his dad, Carole, or Finn per say but it would certainly be less complicated if they never noticed that he had been there.

“So what’s been going on?” Kurt asked, hoping that an open-ended question would draw Dave out without putting pressure on him to share more than he was ready for.

“It’s my dad. He’s…well, he isn’t adjusting to my coming out the way I had hoped.”

“Is that how you got those bruises? The ones on your arm.”

Dave nodded.

“Fuck. I’m so sorry, that’s awful. What happened?”

“I don’t think he meant to hurt me, he just grabbed me too hard. He was yelling and I tried to leave the room and he just…he grabbed me, just to get me to stay and listen, you know?”

“Dave…that’s still awful.”

“Well, it’s my own fault for being stupid enough to come out to him before I moved out. I knew he might react like this and somehow I still thought it was a good idea. What a joke!”

“Look Dave, it’s not your fault.” 

“Sure feels like it. Maybe I should try to walk it back. Tell him that I was confused but now I know that I’m straight. I could probably find a chick to date for a little while to sell it. Do you think he’d believe me?”

The desperation in his voice was heartbreaking. 

“Well, having never met your father it’s really hard to say. It’s certainly an option, something you could try. I think maybe if he wants it to be true badly enough then he might believe you. Are you really willing to do that, though? You already know how bad it will feel, lying again about who you are. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back into the closet.”

“You know what, I take it back. This is your fault! You and your perfect little boyfriend looking all happy together with your perfect dad who accepts you just the way you are. I should have known I wouldn’t get to have any of that.”

Kurt’s first response was a flare of anger, followed by the sinking fear that maybe Dave was right. Oh my god, did I do this? Did I push him into a dangerous situation? Kurt felt his heart start to race and his breathing quicken. I don’t know what I’m doing! Why is anyone listening to my advice? 

Kurt took a few deep breaths. He started to feel a bit calmer.

“Well, I—I’m sorry, Dave, I was just trying to help. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. What about your mom? Where is she in all of this?”

Dave sighed. “It’s hard to tell. Dad is very much the man of the house; he’s in charge of things and his opinion comes first. She wasn’t home when he grabbed me that time, when he gave me those bruises. I didn’t…I didn’t tell her and I doubt he did.”

“Would it change anything if you did?”

“I don’t know. Probably not. He doesn’t really…listen to her.”

“What a fucked up situation, jeez. So your dad…I mean was he abusive before this, or…?”

“He’s not abusive,” Dave growled defensively.

“But…he hurt you.”

“He got angry and lost control. That doesn’t mean he’s abusive.”

I’m pretty sure it does, actually but… Kurt debated whether or not to continue this line of discussion. Maybe another time.

“Okay, whatever you say,” Kurt relented. “Is there anything I can do to help? Besides just listening?”

Dave shrugged.

“Do you…do you think he might kick you out or get violent again?”

Dave shrugged a second time. Fuck.  

“Okay, well for now I’m going to just say this, because I think you might need to be reminded: There is nothing wrong or unnatural about you. You’re not broken or bad. Small-minded people may say these things but they are not true. There are bigger places with bigger-minded people and some day you will make it to one of them and things will get better. It does get better, David, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. You just have to tolerate this time before things get better. And you’re not alone. If you ever feel like you don’t have anyone else, just…remember that you have me, okay? If things get bad, just…you can always call me. I mean that. If you need a place to stay, you can stay here. I’ll figure out something to tell my dad”

By the end of Kurt’s speech, he and David were both blinking back tears.

“Thanks, Kurt. I’m sorry I said it was your fault before. That wasn’t fair.”

“No, it wasn’t. I let it slide because you’re clearly upset but don’t let it happen again. There are limits to my generosity Dave and my patience for being insulted by you is hanging by a thread.”

“I’ll try. Thanks for, uh, listening,” he muttered. “I…I should get home before they start to miss me.”

Kurt walked him outside and waved from the porch, watching as Dave walked down the drive. 

“Isn’t that your Dad?” Kurt asked, pointing to the car pulled up in front of his house with its headlights on. Dave was walking in the opposite direction.

Dave shook his head no. “As if I could have my Dad pick me up here, that’s a good one. No, I’m going to walk home. It’s not that far.”

“Okay, well text me when you get home I guess. Just so I know you made it safely.”

“Whatever.”

Dave took off. After a minute, the engine on the white sedan roared to life and drove away too.

After that, Dave was a bit friendlier towards Kurt at school. At the very least, he always said “Hi” back when Kurt greeted him in the halls.

“So you g-g-guys are what, friends now?” Blaine asked grumpily.

Kurt shrugged. “Sort of? It’s complicated.”

“Oh is that your re-re-relationship status on f-facebook?” Blaine retorted. Why is he being so weird about this?

“What? No! Wait…are you…jealous, Blaine?”

Blaine’s jaw dropped. “No! Of…of c-course not,” he insisted. 

“Good! Because trust me, we may have put the past behind us but I’m still revolted by the very idea.”

Blaine smiled. “Well that’s…something. I j-j-just—it’s just—well, I think you’re g-g-giving him a free pass j-just because he’s gay too. That d-doesn’t automatically make him a safe person, Kurt. We have abusers in our c-community just like everywhere else. I wish we lived in-in-in Kumbaya happy rainbow land where the children are free and the gays are full of peace and love, but…it’s a f-fantasy.”

Kurt let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes, Blaine I know. He’s not…he’s not like that, okay. You just have to trust me. I’ve talked to him and…he has his own struggles, okay. That doesn’t…it doesn’t make him an abuser. It’s the furthest thing from the truth, if only you knew…”

“If only I knew wh-what, Kurt?” Blaine asked sharply.

Shit. “Nothing. Just…nothing.”

Blaine quirked an eyebrow at him, giving him a penetrating look. “Since when d-d-do we keep secrets from each other? Didn’t we promise we w-w-wouldn’t do this, Kurt? After Rachel and Finn split up?”

Kurt felt a strange tightness in his chest, like his ribcage might crack in two, and he gasped with the shock of it. No, no, no, no, no! Blaine, no, please don’t think that. It’s not that kind of secret! It can’t be that kind of secret. I won’t let Dave ruin what we have.

Lost for words, he grasped at Blaine’s hands desperately, grabbing on as if Blaine might float away if left unanchored. 

“Please just...please don’t be thinking like that, Blaine. This is nothing to do with us . Do you hear me, nothing! But if you start...I can’t...I’m going to lose it if you start thinking that, Blaine. I hate keeping secrets from you but you need to trust me that this is not the kind of secret that is going to get between us, okay? I won’t let it as long as you just please trust me. Just give me a little more time and remember I love you...so damn much, okay?”

Blaine’s dark eyelashes blinked rapidly and he gave Kurt a blazing look before pulling him in tight. In the safety of Blaine’s arms, Kurt let out a single sob. I can’t lose you. Please, stay with me, Blaine. Please don’t take him away. Kurt didn’t know who he was asking…the universe perhaps.

Blaine let out a sigh and pressed soft kisses into his hairline. “I love you too. And I…I t-t-trust you.”

Chapter Text

“So how is speech therapy going, Blaine? We haven’t heard much about it lately?”

“Oh, well, it’s fine. I guess we’re just p-p-p-practicing techniques that I-that I already know, so there’s not like, much to-to-to-to-to tell. But I—I mean, I do think it’s helping still. I’m gl-gl-glad I went back. My strategies are so much easier to use and I’m...feeling more comfortable with my own sp-sp-speech, if that makes any sense.”

“That’s great to hear, son.” Blaine looked up to see a warm smile on his father’s face. Then his expression shifted; he seemed to be looking past Blaine out of the window and into the front yard.

“Honey, did the Cohens get a new car?” his father asked.

“No, I don’t think so, dear. Sarah seemed pretty happy with her Audi and it’s only a couple years old. Why?”

“Oh, I’ve just noticed an unfamiliar car in the neighborhood lately.” His lips were pressed together into a tight line.

“So? Maybe someone has a guest in town. There are a million reasons for a new car to show up. I know your brain is jumping ahead to the worst case scenario but please try to be realistic.”

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you’re not being followed,” his father said gruffly. It was one of his favorite sayings.

Blaine rolled his eyes and began to sing with the express purpose of annoying his father and amusing his mother.

All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify

Can you help me occupy my brain?
Oh yeah

I need someone to show me the things in life that I can't find
I can't see the things that make true happiness, I must be blind

“Blaine,” his father said in a tone of warning that he chose to disregard. The next verse was really too perfect to stop now. Blaine added air drumming for some extra pizzazz.

Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry
Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal

And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state
I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it's too late

“Oh hush, I do too know how to enjoy life! I just have the ill-fortune of doing so fully informed of all the ways in which mankind can be evil or awful.”

Blaine’s mother thus far had kept her laughter in check, for the most part. “You say practical, I say paranoid, let’s call the whole thing off.”

Blaine offered her a high-five for the lyrical reference. His father crossed his arms. “I don’t like it when the two of you gang up on me.”

“Seriously? Another seven-ten split? I’m officially convinced that this ball is cursed. Wes, babe, let me try yours.”

Elaine was famously talented at coming up with any possible excuse for her bowling performance other than sheer lack of ability. Blaine and Nick both snickered as Wesley graciously handed her his green bowling ball and then flashed them a look that clearly said, “Shut up!”

“E, instead of lining up your body with the center of the lane, try lining up the ball,” Wesley suggested gently. Oh no, buddy, don’t you know better than that?

“Don’t patronize me, Wesley!” she scolded. 

Head hung in defeat, Wesley joined Blaine and Nick on the benches, watching helplessly as his girlfriend sent her bowling ball careening tragically into the gutter. 

“Has she always been like this?” Wesley asked.

Blaine thought back to six-year-old Elaine needing stitches on her face because she had refused a boost from Blaine when climbing some rocks in the forest preserve. “Yeah, pr-pr-pretty much.”

Elaine huffed loudly as she joined them. “Did you scorn a witch or something Wesley? That was even worse than mine!”

Wesley shrugged and then shrewdly changed the subject. “So, Nicholas Nickleby old boy, how are the prep school boys treating you?” 

Nick’s face fell. 

“Wh-wh-what?” asked Blaine. If that shitbird Yates did something I’m going to…

“Oh, I’m probably just being paranoid. Honestly, nothing’s really happened...not exactly,” Nick said in a mollifying tone.

“You can trust us, Nick,” Elaine encouraged.

Nick sighed. “Well...I just...weird things keep happening. Like, I came back to my room after a full day of classes and my laptop was warm, like someone had just been using it. I lost my homework last week, but I swear I remember putting it in my backpack. I feel like I’m going crazy. This is stupid, I’m sure it’s just stress fucking with my short-term memory.”

“Hmm...but don’t you have a roommate, Nick? I mean if things aren’t where you left them, maybe he moved them or something,” Elaine suggested.

“Yeah, maybe.” But he didn't sound convinced.

“Have you tr-tried asking David about it?” Blaine asked.

“No, I don’t want to accuse the only person at that school I actually like of something when I have no proof. I’m just being paranoid, it’s probably nothing. I shouldn’t have even brought it up, guys, honestly. Blaine, your turn.”

Blaine wanted to offer words of reassurance to his friend, but clearly Nick had decided the conversation was over, so he said nothing. 

You’re just being paranoid.  

Blaine looked at his phone and let out another sigh. He had been waiting for Kurt at The Lima Bean for twenty minutes now and still, he had heard nothing from his boyfriend to explain the delay. 

Visions sprang into his mind, unbidden, of Kurt’s Navigator wrapped around a tree. Kurt being assaulted by Karofsky again. Kurt deciding he was fed up with dating him, sitting in his room trying to figure out how to break it to Blaine.

You’re just being paranoid. 

Once it had been a full thirty minutes and Blaine’s call once again went to voicemail, he finally decided to call it. He’s not coming. 

Disappointment and rejection settled heavy in his stomach as he finished his coffee and starting doing up the buttons of his coat. He felt like something was squeezing his heart too tight and at the same time he felt ridiculous for feeling upset. 

It is just a missed coffee date. I’m sure Kurt will have a perfectly reasonable explanation. 

Blaine started the car. He sighed wistfully when one of his favorite Motown songs came on the radio. Motown always reminded him of Kurt now. 

But he’s never missed a coffee date without telling me ahead of time. We do it every week. It’s not like he could have forgotten. 

Blaine had hoped that he would have a text or a voicemail from Kurt waiting for him when he woke up Thursday morning, but there was nothing.

At breakfast, he was scolded by his mother for parking in front of the neighbor’s house. Apparently they had called to complain. Exasperated, Blaine explained that there hadn’t been any room in front of their house. 

“Well, it’s wide open now. No wonder Mrs. Cohen called.”

“Wait, what color was the car?” his father asked suddenly, looking up from his paper.

“Huh?”

“What color was the car? The one in front of our house.”

Blaine struggled to remember. “Gray? Or maybe beige? S-something light.”

“Could it have been white?”

“I guess.” Why does it matter?

“That’s the car! The one I keep seeing.”

“Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify,” Blaine sang, taunting his father again. His father grumbled something unintelligible under his breath.

“Good morning, sweetheart!” Kurt greeted him cheerfully, as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

Once the flood of relief faded, Blaine felt a stab of resentment. Oh my god, he really did forget! What the hell?

“Oh, uh, hi K-Kurt. How w-w-was your evening?” Blaine asked, hoping to jog his memory.

Kurt just shrugged. “Fine, I guess.”

“Busy?” Blaine prompted.

“Yeah, kind of.” Kurt yawned. Stayed up late? 

Noticing Blaine’s probing gaze, Kurt asked, “What? Is there something on my face?”

“No, Kurt. Your face is p-p-perfect, as always,” he replied snippily. 

“What crawled up your ass and died? Why are you in such a pissy mood this morning?”

“Because you st-st-st-stood me up!”

Kurt’s eyes grew wide. “I…oh no, I did, didn’t I? Shit, Blaine, I’m so sorry. Something came up and I…I wasn’t even thinking about my schedule I just…got swept up, I guess, and forgot. Please forgive me.”

“S-s-something came up? That’s all you c-c-can say?”

“I…it’s kind of…private, Blaine, I’m sorry. Look, it’s not my secret to tell, okay?”

Secret? Wow, so much for just being paranoid. “Whatever. Just, d-don’t do it again, please.” The school bell rang. “I have to g-g-go.” Blaine hurried off to class without so much as a backwards glance, leaving Kurt standing alone by the lockers, looking miserable.

“Can you at-at-at least tell me whose secret it is?” Blaine whispered to Kurt over a beaker of vile smelling solution in Chemistry class.

Kurt groaned. “No, Blaine, I can’t. Please just drop it.”

“I just…I thought w-w-we could tell each other anything.” God I sound pitiful.

“And we can , Blaine! I do tell you everything…about me. This really doesn’t have anything to do with me or you or us. Look, I’m sorry I skipped out on coffee. I’ll happily apologize for that, but please don’t get angry with me for trying to be a good friend.”

Blaine sighed. Of course he didn’t want to be mad at Kurt for being a good friend. But he still felt…strange about the whole thing. He couldn’t think of a way to explain it to Kurt that wouldn’t sound completely unreasonable, so he decided to do as Kurt had asked and drop it.

Things were changing. Kurt seemed to busy a lot more these days and when they did spend time together, Kurt for often sullen or irritable. He had more or less admitted that there was something he was keeping secret from Blaine. So Blaine threw himself into his other friendships to stave off the loneliness that crept in when Kurt wasn’t around. It also helped keep the creeping doubts at bay, the ones that were given voice late at night. Kurt is keeping something from you. Kurt doesn’t trust you.  

In the light of day, Blaine knew that his fears were irrational and he forcefully told them to get lost. He prided himself on being mature and he was trying so hard to live up to that. He knew that the mature thing to do was to give Kurt the time and space he was asking for to deal with whatever was going on and trust that he would fill Blaine in when he was able to. But, damn, sometimes it was hard to be mature! Some days, all he wanted was to interrogate Kurt or Finn or Dave Karofsky—whoever knew something—until he caught them in a lie or they spilled everything. But that wasn’t the mature thing to do. That’s not what good boyfriends did. Good boyfriends were trusting and secure. Questioning Kurt’s intentions would only serve to push him away. He knew these things intellectually…but emotionally, well it was not exactly the same story.

At his weaker moments, Blaine wondered if he should try to find out what was going on so that he could help Kurt. He needs me; he’s just too proud to ask for help. But if I figure it out on my own then I could support him. 

It never took long for him to recognize the mental gymnastics for what they were: a veiled attempt to justify bad actions with good intentions. Kurt is strong. You just want to know. Stop lying to yourself.

Sometimes the frustration simmered in his belly so long that it began to boil, and then he tramped downstairs to the basement and vented it all into the heavy bag until he had nothing left inside himself but placid calmness.

Glee practice was a bit of a blur until Mr. Schuester called for their weekly “open mic.” Having gotten tired of rehearsals always being interrupted by impromptu musical numbers, he had dedicated the last 5 minutes of rehearsal for such performances in the desperate hope that he could contain them. 

Almost without realizing it, Blaine stuck his hand in the air. Kurt looked at him in surprise. 

Blaine walked up to the piano and sat down. Without introduction he began to play ‘ Alone Again Or ,’ trying not to cry.

Yeah, I said it's all right
I won't forget
All the times I waited patiently for you
I think you'll do (just what) you choose to do
And I will be alone again tonight my dear

Yeah, I heard a funny thing
Somebody said to me
You know that I could be in love, with almost everyone
I think that people are the greatest fun
And I will be alone again tonight, my dear

If Blaine had looked up, he would have seen tears in Kurt’s eyes too, but he stared resolutely at the ivory keys before him. 

Chapter Text

“Are you sure I can’t tell Blaine what’s going on?” Kurt asked, hoping that maybe Dave would change his mind.

“Yes, I’m sure! You can’t!” Dave looked frightened.

“I just…he’s very respectful of people’s privacy. Honestly, I’m a much worse gossip than he is. I know you don’t really know him but he really is very trustworthy.”

“No offense, Kurt, but you’re not exactly unbiased when it comes to Blaine. Of course you trust him; he’s your boyfriend. But I don’t know him, I have no reason to trust him, and Tiny Tim is still holding a grudge against me.”

Kurt was immediately furious. Is this really the kind of person I’m compromising my relationship for right now? Why do I even try?

“Well, maybe don’t call him fucking ableist names like that and he’ll drop it. Christ, Dave, where do you get off thinking that’s an acceptable thing to say about anyone let alone the boyfriend of the guy who is trying to help you right now?”

Dave looked appropriately humbled. “‘m sorry, Kurt,” he mumbled. 

“Damn right, you’re sorry. Don’t let it happen again or I’m out.” Kurt let out an angry huff and then focused on calming himself. His fury was slightly muted only because he could tell how rough of a time Dave was having and he could understand that perhaps he was used to venting his feelings through being awful to those around him. 

“So what happened this time?” Kurt asked, his voice finally calm.

“Well, he didn’t hurt me, so that was something.” Dave’s eyes cast down to the floor. For such an enormous guy, he suddenly looked very small. 

“What did he do?” 

“He invited our priest over.”

“Yikes. That can’t have gone well.”

“No. No, it wasn’t. He always seemed like a nice man but…I dunno, it’s like he’s trying to scare me straight or something…but not the kind with criminals, like actually straight. He kept telling me all these stories about hell, going on and on about how God still loves me if I don’t act on my sinful thoughts.”

“‘Jesus is love’. What a bunch of bullshit,” Kurt spat. 

“Do you think he’s right? Can I be okay if I just don’t act on my thoughts? Dad wants to send me to conversion therapy but Mom doesn’t think it’s a good idea. She said she’s heard bad things about it. But maybe I should. I mean if it really worked…it would be such a relief.”

“Are you serious? First of all, you definitely can’t let him send you to conversion therapy! I’ve heard horror stories, Dave. Just…please, you can’t! Second of all, no, of course he’s not right! It’s all a bunch of bullshit. Bigots trying to control you with their imaginary friend in the sky. You will be miserable if you don’t ‘act’ on your feelings. If you want love and affection, Dave, you can’t go your whole life without it. It’s going to poison you even more than all the denial did.”

“But I don’t want to go to hell…what am I supposed to do?”

Kurt tried to control the intensity of his reaction. It was all so clear to him that religion was nonsense to be ignored. It means something to him. He can’t dismiss it as easily as I can

“Maybe…maybe we can try to find an LGBT-friendly priest or church. I bet PFLAG has a list or something. I’ll call them and find out. I…I’m sorry, I’m not the right person for this…I don’t understand what it means to be religious. I think they would be better equipped to give you some perspective on it.”

Dave nodded silently.

“I can go with you, if you want. Or…I mean he’s not that religious but, um, well my dad still goes to church sometimes. He doesn’t have—he’s fine with me. Would you want to ask him about it?” The suggestion felt foolish coming out of his mouth. What teenage boy wanted to talk to their classmate’s dad?

Dave shrugged. “I dunno. I’d rather he didn’t know what’s going on.”

“So how mad was your dad when you left tonight?”

“Uh…he was starting to get loud so I just snuck out.”

“On a scale from 1 to 10?”

“Hmm…like a 6. I guess.”

“That’s pretty high. Would you—you can stay here tonight if you want. This place is so much nicer than our old house; we even have a guest room!”

Kurt looked up. The surreal quality to his current situation suddenly hit him. Never in a million years would he have imagined freely offering his guest room to David Freaking Karofsky, McKinley’s most savage bully. These are strange times indeed. 

“Let me call my mom, get a read on the situation.” Dave reached into his pocket, scrunched his face in confusion, and then started checking all of his pockets. “Fuck, where’s my phone?”

“How should I know? Could you have left it at home?”

“Shit! I must have.” Dave kicked the ground in frustration.

“No need to take it out on the hardwoods, Dave. Take mine.” He handed over his cell phone.

Dave smiled back sheepishly. “Sorry about that. Thanks, Kurt.” That’s more like it.

Dave’s end of the conversation was mostly monosyllabic responses, but towards the end Kurt could hear another voice yelling in the background. Finally Mrs. Karofsky said, “Perhaps it would be best if you gave him the night to cool off. As long as your friend’s parents don’t mind.” Kurt nodded to assure him it was okay. Dave hung up quickly after that.

“Thanks, man. You’re really doing me a solid. It’s more than I deserve after the shit I put you through.”

“It is,” he stated simply. “But it’s the right thing to do.”

Karofsky fidgeted with Kurt’s phone case in his hands for a moment. “Can I, uh, hold on to this? Just…in case, well, my mom she might…I mean she won’t but, if she needs me…”

If she needs you to come rescue her from your asshole abusive father you mean? 

“Sure, hang on to it.” 

Dave gave him a solemn nod and left Kurt’s bedroom to go wash up.

Things just got worse from there. Realizing the next morning that he had missed coffee with Blaine—and worse still that it hadn’t even occurred to him until Blaine mentioned it—felt like a punch in the gut. Blaine had looked so hurt and knowing that he had caused that hurt felt awful.

He wanted to explain, somehow, that there were extenuating circumstances…that this didn’t mean anything. That he wasn’t that kind of boyfriend. And for now, he knew that their relationship was strong enough to weather the current storm. But he feared just how much of a beating it could sustain before the foundations began to crack. Something awful twisted in the pit of his stomach and for a moment he could hardly breathe.

Please don’t let me lose him.

Kurt was scared for Karofsky and overwhelmed by the responsibility of being his only confidante. If Kurt abandoned him now, then he would have no one. He had spent one particularly low night reading the suicide-prevention page on the PFLAG website, which only solidified his commitment to standing by Dave, no matter how hard it was. 

What was a little stress if it could save someone’s life? Kurt had been okay because he had a support system, he had friends and family who loved and accepted him. Dave had no one. He wasn’t even talking to Ms. Pillsbury anymore. Their mandated sessions had ended and he was too scared to go back, convinced she would be legally required to call his parents or the police.

“Would it really be so bad if she called the police? Maybe you would be safer?”

“Are you fucking with me, Hummel? Do you know what they do with boys whose daddies hit them? They put them in a group home. What do you think the odds a place like that is any more accepting than the one I’ve got now? More likely than not it would be worse. You can’t tell her, Kurt, please!”

Dave’s eyes had been swimming with tears by the end, so Kurt had relented. He was on his own. If only he could confide in Blaine, he thought maybe he could handle the pressure, but he was too scared that if Dave found out he would clam up again and then he’d have no one.

That night he lay awake in bed, staring up at the ceiling in the dark, the weight of the world pressing down on his chest. He felt exhausted and yet, at the same time, tingling with nervous energy. He felt terrified and lost, not knowing how to help Dave, not knowing how to keep his relationship from imploding. What if I make the wrong choice? I can’t make the wrong choice! The stakes are too high.

Then the rumors started. The fucking rumors. Gossiping busybodies who couldn’t mind their god damn business. Kurt wanted to strangle them all.

By the time Glee Club rehearsal swung around, the whispering had gotten completely out of hand. Finn Hudson sat in the back row with a big, guilty, constipated look on his face, refusing to make eye contact with Kurt.

What did you do?” Kurt hissed.

“I-I…I’m sorry, Kurt, okay but…I mean when I practically tripped over Dave Karofsky on my way to the shower, well, I had to tell someone!” Finn rambled. 

Oh no, no.

“No, Finn, you really did not. You could have spoken to me before you told the entire Glee Club!” Kurt was practically shouting by the end. Too late, he realized that he was only drawing more attention. He spotted Blaine on the other side of the room, arms crossed protectively over his chest, Rachel leaning over to whisper in his ear. Need to get this back under control.

Alarmed, Kurt marched over to them. “What are you telling him?” Kurt demanded to know.

Blaine and Rachel both looked up at him. Rachel looked guilty and Blaine looked confused.

“What are you telling him?” he repeated.

“I…Kurt…I just…he has a right to know,” Rachel explained in a mollifying tone.

“He has a right to know what ?” Kurt demanded. “There’s nothing to know! So if you think there’s something to know, well, you’re wrong!” I sound guilty even to me. Shit, how did everything get so far out of hand? 

Finn walked over and pulled him aside. “Look, Kurt, I’m sorry but I know from personal experience how painful it is and I just…I couldn’t let that happen to someone else.”

“Personal experience?” Kurt’s eyebrows shot up a mile into his forehead.

“Well yeah, I mean…you know…”

“That someone hit you? No, I definitely don’t know that, Finn.”

“Wait, hit me? I was talking about Rachel. Being cheated on hurts worse than almost anything and…I couldn’t keep it to myself.”

“Cheated on?” Kurt asked in confusion. “Wait, you think I’m cheating on Blaine?” 

He burst into a poorly timed fit of nervous laughter. 

“Well, aren't you?” Rachel asked pointedly. Kurt glanced over at Blaine, still wrapped up in himself, not saying anything.

“No! Of course I’m not cheating on Blaine, did you stick your face in ice water so many times it finally froze all of your brain cells, Rachel?!”

“I…no, but…it seemed like…” she fumbled for words.

“It seemed like none of your damn business is what it seemed like. I was handling everything just fine on my own until you all stuck your grubby meddling fingers into it and made a big fucking mess. Has anyone talked about this with anyone outside of this room?”

They all shook their heads, no one making eye contact with him. 

“Good. It better fucking stay that way.” Kurt wrung his hands for a moment, trying to collect himself. It wasn’t enough.

Mr. Schuester arrived in the choir room, oblivious to the yelling that had just ensued. “All right, Glee Club, who is ready to talk about New Wave?”

Kurt held up his hand to Mr. Schuester. “Not today, Mr. Schue. I have something vitally important that needs to be sung and it must be sung right this instant. Brad, Go-Gos on my mark. Rachel, Tina, if you ever want to be forgiven you’d better get your asses up here and back me up pronto! Hit it !”

Mr. Schuester started to protest and then let out a very put-upon sigh, muttering, “just once I’d like to actually do the lesson I prepared,” as he walked to take a seat.

Can you hear them?
They talk about us
Telling lies
Well, that's no surprise

Rachel and Tina scrambled up to join Kurt. Rachel only tried to fight him for the lead a few times, which showed great restraint on her part.

Can you see them?
See right through them
They have no shield
No secrets to reveal

It doesn't matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
Our lips are sealed

Kurt ran over to Blaine, pulling him up onto the stage and setting him up in a chair in the middle of the stage. He took his hands, singing right to him. 

Hush, my darling
Don't you cry
Quiet, angel
Forget their lies

Can you hear them?
They talk about us
Telling lies
Well, that's no surprise

Can you see them?
See right through them
They have no shield
No secrets to reveal

It doesn't matter what they say
In the jealous games people play
Our lips are sealed
Pay no mind to what they say
It doesn't matter anyway

Kurt decided it was high time he blew off Karofsky to spend time with Blaine, rather than the other way around, so they agreed to meet at the Anderson’s after school. 

Some people should not be allowed to park. Kurt grunted in annoyance as he squeezed into his car; there was barely enough space for him to open the door wide enough to fit. You’re on my shit list, whoever drives this extremely ordinary white car. 

Kurt pulled up in front of Blaine’s house, noticing that he was the first to arrive. The only car in front of the house was Mr. Anderson’s silver BMW. Kurt hoped one day to be allowed to drive it, but he hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask yet. 

He walked up the walkway and knocked on the front door. There was no response, so he tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. 

“Mr. Anderson?” he called out, questioning as he opened the door. 

“Who's there?” Mr. Anderson called back, forcefully.

“It’s just Kurt.” Kurt hung up his coat, slipped out of his shoes, and walked into the living room. Mr. Anderson was just coming down the stairs to investigate. “Hello, Mr. Anderson. Blaine should be here in a few minutes. The door was unlocked; I hope it’s alright that I let myself in. I did knock.”

“Huh? Oh yes, that’s fine,” he said distractedly. “You haven’t been over much recently. How is your family doing?”

“Oh, yes I suppose I haven’t,” Kurt said, feeling another stab of guilt. “I’ve just been…busy. My dad and Carole are fine, thanks for asking.”

“That’s a…unique look you’ve gone for today.” For the life of him Kurt could not figure out if this was a compliment so he figured he might as well decide to take it that way.

“Thank you, sir. Some of the fashion blogs I follow are convinced that military boots are going to be the next trend so I’m trying to get ahead of the curve.”

“Mmm.” Well that was a conversational dead-end.

“So how does the BMW handle in the snow?” Kurt asked, hoping for better luck with a new topic. Mr. Anderson brightened up.

“Handles like a dream, let me tell you. Why the other day I swear she was the only car on the road not fishtailing. You remember two weeks ago when we had all that ice?”

“Hello?” Blaine’s voice called out from the foyer. Finally! Cars are really the beginning and the end of my list of emergency conversation topics.

“In here,” Kurt called back. 

“Hi, Dad!” Blaine greeted him cheerfully. He leaned over to kiss Kurt on the cheek. “Sorry, I hhhhit some, uh, uh, un-unexpected traffic. Do you want to come up to my room?”

Kurt nodded. “Nice to see you Mr. Anderson.”

“Oh, yes, you too, Kurt. Will you be joining us for dinner?”

Kurt silently consulted Blaine. “If you can stay, I’d l-l-l-love that.” 

“Sounds like a yes, then, Mr. Anderson. Thank you for the invitation.”

The boys headed upstairs.

“I still can’t believe your dad lets you close the door when I’m over,” Kurt commented.

Blaine shrugged and then grinned conspiratorially. Kurt settled himself onto Blaine’s bed, leaning back against the headboard. “Come here,” he said, holding his arms open as an invitation. Blaine leaned back against his chest and Kurt wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. Blaine leaned his head back into the space above Kurt’s shoulder. Kurt inhaled deeply, getting a glorious whiff of Blaine’s shampoo mixed with an undercurrent of his natural musk.

Kurt pressed a few kisses onto his cheekbone. After a few minutes, the skin was suddenly wet. “Blaine?”

“I have —been feeling sort of, well, um, um, sort of-of far away from you, lately. I…I’m t-trying really hard, Kurt, I am, I-I promise but it’s hard—I’m t-trying not to let it get to me. I know you’re, like, helping Dave or s-s-something, and I don’t want to be-to be too n-needy but…I miss you.”

If the guilt had been stabbing before then, now it felt like a gunshot. Kurt adjusted himself so he could look Blaine in the eyes. As he did so, he caught another tear rolling down Blaine’s cheek. Blaine quickly reached a hand up to wipe it away, blushing with embarrassment.

For a moment, Kurt was speechless. Seeing his beautiful, precious boyfriend looking so fragile was gutting. “I…I’m really sorry, Blaine. You have been so patient with me and I’ve just been…I don’t know, taking you for granted, putting other people first…fucking it all up, no doubt. I don’t…you’re not needy, or if you are then I’m okay being needed, in fact I think I like being needed by you very much. And I…I need you too Blaine, but like you said before, I want you and I love you and…fuck, I’m just really sorry, okay.”

Kurt reached out to cup Blaine’s cheeks with his hands, wiping away another tear as he did. “You know that I’m not cheating on you with Dave Karofksy, right? Because I swear on my mother’s grave that is not what is going on. I can understand why you might feel worried, I’m not mad if you’re worried, I just…I really want you to believe that because it upsets me even to think that you might think that. I would never , okay, never.”

Blaine stared back, eyes blazing intensely into his own for a moment. Kurt tried to fill his gaze with all the love and trust he had for Blaine. Blaine nodded, “Yeah, I…I b-believe you, Kurt. Honestly, I’m m-more worried that he’s still n-not a safe per-person to be around. I mean, for god’s sake, he-he assaulted you. And then you said something about hitting today. I just…I know it’s not my b-b-business but I feel protective of you.”

Kurt’s heart was warmed thinking about how sweetly protective Blaine was over him. He felt the same way about his boyfriend.

“If you can believe it, this time Dave is the one in an unsafe situation, okay, Blaine? I’m trying to help out, because yeah I know what it’s like to feel unsafe, and I don’t want anyone to feel that way…not even the person who put me in that position. I understand why you might feel hesitant, because you haven’t had the conversations I’ve had with him, but…his bad behavior before, it came out of a place of deep self-loathing from being closeted. But then he came out to himself, and that really did make all of the difference.”

“But wasn’t he…I mean when I got —slushied, it sounded like he w-w-was involved. He called me…’fruity’ didn’t he?”

“Oh, no, honey, no. He was trying to get Azimio to lay off of you, actually. I mean in a gruff, hyper-masc way, but that’s probably the only logic Azimio knows how to understand anyways. Misguided but well-intentioned.”

“Oh.” 

This has gone far enough.

“You know what, I’m done with this.”

“With wh-what?” Blaine asked with alarm.

“With the two of you not trusting each other. It’s really making my life an unpleasant pile of stress these days and I’m over it. I’m setting up a dinner date for the three of us and you two will make pleasant conversation and see if you can both get over whatever the beef here is so that hopefully I don’t have to keep secrets anymore.”

“I like the s-s-sound of that last part.”

“Me too.”

Chapter Text

Blaine nervously adjusted his bow-tie as he waited for Kurt to arrive at Breadstix with Karofsky. Relax. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. 

Finally, he spotted Kurt at the hostess stand. Smiling to himself, he stood and waved. Kurt walked over to join him with Dave in tow. Kurt kissed him hello on the cheek and then took a seat between Blaine and Dave.

“All right, boys. I want to thank you both for joining me here today. My hope is that Blaine can see that Dave has really changed and that Dave can see that Blaine is trustworthy. Dave, I really want to help you but it’s gotten to the point where I need someone else I can process all of this with and Blaine has put up with being out of the loop for long enough. If we can’t move past this dislike you two have for one another, then I’m sorry Dave but I’m going to have to step back.” Kurt finished his speech and looked back and forth between the two boys expectantly.

Karofsky did not look pleased, and Blaine couldn’t blame him—Karofsky certainly had the worse end of the deal. It was nice to know definitively that he was Kurt’s first priority, though. The reassurance buoyed his confidence enough to make the first move.

I can do this if I use my intentional stuttering. Inhale. Hold. Exhale. I-I-I -I can start. Dave I wwwwas the first person that K-K -Kurt told after the, uh, uh, inci-ci-cident. The m-m-m -memory of him so scared, c-c-crying is hard to forget. If you are not a —bad person, then how could you do something like that?” Blaine had meant to be composed but his voice broke at the memory of Kurt, sobbing in his arms. Kurt’s hand found his knee under the table and gave it a squeeze.

An expression Blaine had never seen on his face before came over Karofsky. It was shame. “I...look, there’s no excuse because what I did was really bad. All I can say is...I was in a very bad place then. I hated myself so much; I prayed so hard to just wake up normal but it never happened. And then there was Kurt, just being himself as if there were no consequences. So I hated him. And I...I wanted him to feel as miserable as I was.”

“That doesn’t mmmake it okay.”

“I know! I...I agree with you, alright. But I...I’ve changed, I’m trying so hard to change. I even came out to my parents! I stopped picking on kids at school, just like I promised Kurt.”

“It’s true. He has kept his word on that,” Kurt affirmed. Well, I suppose that’s something.

“You don’t have to forgive me, Blaine. I don’t know that Kurt has forgiven me, not really. But I mean it when I say that it will never happen again.”

Blaine let out a deep breath. “Did Kurt ever, uh, t-tell you what ha-happened to me?”

Kurt shook his head. “It’s not my place to tell your story, Blaine.”

“What happened?” asked Dave.

“I, uh, I got thrashed pr-pr-pretty good by the bullies at my old-old- old school. That’s wh-why I transferred to McKinley, be-because I wasn’t safe there anymore. So if I seem...overly c-cautious, that is why.”

“Damn! When you say thrashed…?”

“They p-put me in the hospital, Dave.”

“What happened to them?”

Blaine clenched his teeth. It had gotten easier, but this was still a hard topic for him to talk about. He looked pleadingly at Kurt.

“Do you want me to…?” Kurt asked, hesitantly, always so careful not to overstep. Blaine nodded gratefully.

So Kurt explained about Blaine’s memory loss, about Nick’s lie, and about how it was only recently that Blaine had found out the identity of his attacker.

“You mean that asshole is still out there, Blaine? Look, if you need someone to fuck him up, let me know.”

Blaine laughed. “N-n-n-no, thanks.”

Kurt cleared his throat. “Alright, Dave, so Blaine has shared his difficult past with you. I think that showed a lot of trust on his part and hopefully now you can understand why he can be a tad overprotective about my safety.”

Dave nodded. He took a deep breath, and then the dam broke loose and the whole story came tumbling out. Blaine sat in horrified silence as Dave described the ordeal of the past few weeks. It really put his own coming out woes into stark perspective.

“Y-y-y-you need to call the po-po-police,” Blaine said sternly. Why am I always the only one thinks we should go to the authorities? It was like Kurt all over again. 

“No, absolutely not!” Dave insisted, his eyes wide with panic.

“I tried telling him that already, honey.” I guess I’m rubbing off on him. The thought made him smile.

“Well, then at the—at the—at the very least you need to have an-an ironclad, uh, uh, emergency plan. You n-n-need to put away money somewhere you’re parents c-c-can’t access. You need to —document everything. From now on, you g-g-get bruises, we take pictures. Something happens, you write it in a d-d-dated log. Any voicemails, e-mails, text messages, doctor’s bills...anything like that, you save it somewhere safe. M-m-maybe at Kurt’s house, where it-it-it will be safe.”

Kurt and Dave both stared at him, looking impressed.

“How on earth do you know all of that?” Dave asked.

“My father once wwwworked a domestic abuse case. He use-used it as an opportunity to-to educate the whole family about the t-t-topic. Seems similar enough to this ssssituation.”

“Just some light dinner table conversation to help the roast chicken go down,” Kurt joked awkwardly. 

So together the three of them made a plan. There would be regular check-ins. If Dave was absent from school without alerting Kurt, one of them would be by the house to check on him. He filled a gym bag with essentials such as a few changes of clothes and an extra toothbrush. Kurt tucked it under the bed in the guest room, ready for Dave if he should need somewhere to crash for a few days. 

Blaine insisted on pressing one of his father’s business cards into Dave’s hands, just in case he needed a lawyer at some point in the future. They even decided how they would explain the situation to Burt without him wanting to call the police.

“I th-th-think he’ll understand if we j-just say that they’re homophobic.”

“Knowing that you’re gay is also the best way to convince my dad that you’re not a threat anymore. And he would never out you, Dave.”

“What about Finn?” Dave asked.

“I think you should tell him,” said Kurt.

“Are you sure he w-w-wouldn’t tell the other Glee kids? I mean look at what happened when he sssaw Dave at your house the first time?” Blaine was dubious.

“All the more reason to tell him! Otherwise he is going to draw his own conclusions, and as we’ve seen already, they are likely to be worse than the truth. Besides, at least there’s no risk of him telling Rachel anymore. Those two are barely speaking these days.”

“Fine,” Dave agreed, reluctantly.

Blaine sighed with relief, finally knowing that Kurt’s secret wasn’t hanging over their heads like a sword of Damocles. Kurt was still busier than usual, but his absences were much less distressing now that he had no reason to worry when Kurt was gone.

He also didn’t mind the time apart from Kurt as much because Rachel had dragged him into her rather intensive rehearsal schedule in the final stretch before Regionals; they were going to be co-leads on one of the numbers. 

That was how Blaine found himself sitting at Rachel’s desk, transposing sheet music, when she asked him an entirely inappropriate question.

“So, did that talk from my parents help you get lucky?” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively. Blaine wished he could just disappear, thank you very much.

“I am —not discussing my ssssex life with you, Rachel!” he sputtered.

“Ah, ha! So you’re admitting that you have one!” she said, triumphantly. Oh crap.

“B-b-b-b—no, that’s not what I-I...agh, Rachel !” Flustered, he found it difficult to string his words together coherently.

It only got worse when they went upstairs for dinner. Blaine had jumped on the opportunity when Rachel had invited him to stay for dinner so they could rehearse later into the evening; he couldn’t pass up the chance to hang out with her dads again. But he was starting to regret his decision.

H-h-h -hello, misters B-B- Berry and B-Berry.”

“Please, call us Hiram and Leroy.”

“Mister Berry was my father.”

“No, he was my father.”

“It’s an expression!”

“Dads!” Rachel yelled, successfully ending their spat. “Not in front of company, please!”

“Sit down, sit down, young Blaine!” Hiram said in a sing-song tone, gesturing towards the seat across from Rachel.

“I hope you like tofu curry!” Rachel said, cheerfully passing out plates and opening take-out containers.

Leroy leaned over and whispered, “Don’t worry, kid. We always secretly order some with meat in it too. I’ll sneak you some when she isn’t looking.” 

Blaine nodded in appreciation. The beef curry was, indeed, excellent. He still thought it was a little crazy to go to such lengths not to upset your offspring, but who was he to judge.

It didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop. Blaine hadn’t even gotten to ask them about Stonewall yet when Rachel casually said, “By the way, Blaine wanted to say ‘thank you’ for giving his boyfriend the sex ed lesson.”

Blaine was sure his face must be as red as the curry on his plate. “I-I-I-I —did not !”

Hiram made a face of deep concern. “Oh dear, wasn’t able to perform in the bedroom, was he? Well, you can’t judge someone by their first time.”

Please Doctor, you can show up anytime now and whisk me away in your magical blue box. Any alien planet would be better than here!

“—N—N—n-no, I-I…” Blaine stopped to take a few deep breaths, glaring meaningfully at Rachel. Fix this!  

“I was just teasing Blaine, Dad. Give him a break.” 

“Well, while we’re on the topic, did you want us to show you some of the positions we told Kurt about? It really does help to have a visual, don’t you think, dearest?”

“Oh, yes, absolutely, sugar plum. Words just can’t do it justice.”

They showed him...positions! To his embarrassment, Blaine couldn’t help but start to picture himself and Kurt in various...positions. He loosened his bow-tie and cleared his throat. Think about something else! Anything else! Those sad abused animals from the commercials at Christmas. 

He managed to get his hormones under control, at least for a little while.

After what felt like forever, Blaine finally managed to escape the Berry residence. He drove straight to Kurt’s house, dragging his slightly confused boyfriend up the stairs into his bedroom just as soon as he’d hung up his coat.

“Not that I’m complaining, but what’s gotten into you?” Kurt asked, his breath hitching a few times as Blaine kissed up and down the side of his neck.

“I’m just...r-r-really horny t-tonight,” he admitted, flashing an idiotic grin at Kurt. 

“Well, then. I’m sure we can do something about that. I do believe it’s your turn, mister.”

Blaine gulped, remembering Kurt’s promise after the last time. He let out a groan and crashed his lips into Kurt’s. His fingers fumbled with the buttons on Kurt’s shirt, which were not easy to operate in his current condition. Then he felt Kurt’s fingers join his, helping, speeding up the process. If there was one thing sexier than taking off Kurt’s clothes, it was Kurt helping him do it.

Finally! The last button released and Blaine parted his shirt, feeling victorious. He let his hands roam over the skin of Kurt’s chest and stomach, gently stroking up his sides. He was rewarded with the most delicious little sounds.

Kurt shifted his weight to flip Blaine over onto his back. God he’s so sexy when he takes charge. Kurt shimmied his arms out of his sleeves and then made quick work of Blaine’s rather less complicated sweater.

Then Kurt’s lips were back on his, fingers carding up into his hair. There was something indescribably delicious about feeling the full weight of his boyfriend settle onto his body, especially with so much skin to skin contact. Blaine kissed whatever pieces of milky skin he could find, shoulders, neck, arms. They were all equally soft and imbued with the smell of Kurt, which he inhaled like a drug.

His hands found Kurt’s hips and pressed their bodies together. He searched for Kurt’s lips but they were suddenly not there. Blaine opened his eyes to find Kurt hovering above him, crooked smile on his lips. Blaine raised a questioning eyebrow at him. “Everything, o-o-o-okay? Do you wwwant to st-stop? We can stop.”

Kurt just smiled wider. “Actually, quite the opposite.”

Bline felt his eyes go wide and his pulse quicken. “You’re g-g-going to have to be-be-be more specific, but...whatever it is, the answer is yes.”

Kurt’s laughter tinkled like a bell. “I am so tempted to take advantage of the carte blanche you just handed me but lucky for you I have morals. I could have asked for anything Blaine!”

Blaine shrugged, hoping Kurt would answer his question soon because he was desperately curious. He looked up at Kurt expectantly. His poor boyfriend immediately turned very pink.

“Aw, sweetie, d-d-don’t be embarrassed. Sh-sh-should I give you a mmmultiple choice like Ms. Shine used to do in sp-sp-speech.”

Kurt swatted him playfully in the chest. “You’re terrible.”

“Terribly cute?”

“Terribly annoying!”

“Well...I su-su-suppose if I’m n-not getting lllucky tonight then I should just go-go-go home,” Blaine teased, starting to roll Kurt off of him.

“Hey!” he protested. “Get back here!”

“Oh, d-d-did you want something?” he asked, affecting innocence. 

“I...I want to touch you!” Hell yes!

“See, now was that re-re-really so hard? All you hhhhad to do was use your words, K-K-Kurt. It’s ju-ju-just like kindergarten.”

Kurt scrunched up his face and wrinkled his nose at Blaine in a childish display of annoyance. Blaine burst out laughing and peppered his crinkled skin in gentle kisses.

“You are t-t-too much fun to t-tease for your own good, K-K-Kurt. Now will you p-p-please shush so my in-in-incredibly sexy b-b-boyfriend can go back to kissing me?”

“He must be a lucky guy, this boyfriend you speak of.”

No, I’m definitely the lucky one.

Chapter Text

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town
Chicago, Chicago, I'll show you around
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues in Chicago

Kurt had spent the first couple hours of the bus ride up to ‘The Windy City’ curled up with Blaine, listening to yet another perfectly constructed themed playlist. This time Blaine came prepared with a headphone splitter, so both boys were able to enjoy both halves of the audio tracks. But as the bus got closer, Blaine had gotten increasingly excited and began singing along with the music. Before long, half of Glee Club was belting out the Blues Brothers.

As soon as he spotted the first tall buildings in the distance, Kurt was transfixed and he spent the rest of the ride with his nose pressed up against the window. Blaine tried to tease him about it but Kurt was too enraptured to even bother snapping back. 

They exited I-90 in Chinatown and drove north. Kurt was amazed to see rows of restaurants and buildings without a word of English in site. As they drove north, the buildings grew taller and taller. There was something magical about the elevated train tracks , high above them, supported by rusty steel trestle. It felt so…urban, almost industrial. As the bus crawled through downtown traffic, Kurt caught a glimpse of Lake Michigan, sparkling in the sunshine peeking through the gap between buildings.

Then rather suddenly, the bus went down a ramp and they were underground. “Where the hell are we?” Kurt asked no one in particular. Sam leaned over and explained, “We’re on Lower Wacker Drive . Isn’t it cool? Chicago is famous for being a city of layers.” Kurt stifled a giggle when Blaine winked at him at the mention of layers. “Blaine, bro, they filmed a scene from The Dark Knight down here somewhere!”

“Really? Which one?” Blaine asked with excitement. Kurt leaned his head against Blaine’s shoulder, only half listening. Who wants to watch a movie where they actually managed to make Heath Ledger look unattractive?

“The underground chase scene! With the batmobile!”

“Wacker Drive is up top and underneath us is yet another street called Lower Lower Wacker Drive, isn’t that wild? I was telling Blaine earlier about the Pedway . It’s this elaborate system of walking tunnels that runs under the city. It’s so complicated that no one has ever made a complete map of them. There are all these myths about whole lost sections of tunnel that no one can find anymore. The blogosphere is full of theories!”

Blaine was eagerly nodding along to Sam’s explanation, clearly sharing his enthusiasm. 

“Hmm, that sounds nice. Personally, I’m more interested in visiting The Art Institute. They have a lovely exhibit on the history of fashion that I’m dying to see.”

Blaine looked torn. Kurt sighed. “Go ahead, honey. Have fun exploring with Sam. Just please don’t get lost or eaten by a sewer alligator or something.”

Blaine stuck out his tongue. 

He’s lucky he’s cute.

Mr. Schuester seemed daunted by the task of assigning roommates for the hotel. They had five rooms booked in total, two for the boys, two for the girls, and one for the grown-ups. Mr. Schuester insisted that Kurt and Blaine were not allowed to be in the same room, for obvious reasons. But that quickly escalated into Rachel and Kurt both complaining that gender-based rooming assignments were outdated and heteronormative. 

“Personally, I would feel more comfortable platonically sharing a bed with a girl than with a boy,” Kurt pointed out. “And I’m pretty sure most of the guys here would be uncomfortable with the prospect of sharing a bed with me.”

“I w-w-wouldn’t,” Blaine said saucily. Mr. Schuester let out an exasperated sigh. 

“I wouldn’t either,” said Sam. Finn and Puck both glanced over at him with a questioning look. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“How very evolved of you,” said Kurt, a little icily. 

“So let’s see, if Kurt bunks with Rachel and Mercedes then Finn can bunk with Puck and Sam—” Mr. Schuester listed off names, trying to make it work.

“No way in hell am I sharing a room with that backstabbing asshole,” Finn spat out.

“Woah, Finn, watch your language,” Mr. Schuester scolded. Then he turned to Kurt. “What about Finn? You two are stepbrothers, would you mind sharing a bed with him?”

Kurt and Finn both shrugged. Kurt glanced over at Blaine, trying to read his expression but it was impossible. Would Blaine feel weird since he knows I used to have a crush on Finn? It’s never seemed to bother him before, but the last thing I need right now is for him to have another reason to be jealous. Mr. Schuester threw up his hands in frustration.

“Fine! I’m going to get us checked in. If you can all figure out a room arrangement that everyone is happy with before I get back, then we will go with that. Otherwise, I’m dictating room assignments and there will be no arguing.”

There was a mad rush to grab the hands of friends and a lot of arguing. In the end, they ended up with gender-divided rooms after it became clear that Finn refused to room with Puck and absolutely none of the girls were willing to share with Puck either. So Kurt ended up with Finn and Sam while Blaine would be with Puck and Mike. As for the girls, Rachel, Tina, and Mercedes would be in one room while Quinn, Santana, and Brittany took the other.

Mr. Schuester was pleased that they had resolved the issue but seemed exasperated that after all of that, they had gone with boys and girls separate after all. They were sent upstairs with strict instructions that they had 30 minutes to unpack and unwind before they had to meet in one of the hotel conference rooms for rehearsal.

Kurt woke up early the morning of Regionals and quietly slipped into the bathroom to grab the first shower. He dressed quickly and padded downstairs to the hotel restaurant for the complimentary continental breakfast.

He scanned the tables until he spotted a few familiar faces. Blaine, Rachel, and Quinn sat together at a table. The others must not be awake yet. He gave Blaine a quick peck before sitting down next to Quinn.

Kurt was surprised by Quinn’s usually tired expression. “Are you okay, Quinn?”

“I didn’t sleep very well last night. My roommates were a little…loud.”

“Loud?” Blaine asked with confusion.

Quinn cleared her throat and dropped her voice. “I think they were having sex in the other bed.” 

Rachel’s eyes grew wide with the excitement of hearing juicy gossip. 

“Rachel,” Kurt warned. “Leave it alone. It’s none of your business.”

“But…” she protested.

“But neither of them has officially come out so gossiping about their relationship would constitute outing. Surely you know better than that, after being raised by two dads.”

Rachel seemed humbled. “Of course, I would never out someone. I’ll keep it to myself. But…I just have to wonder. Why do you think they are hiding it? Do they really think any of us would care?”

“Look, Rach, it’s…c-c-c-c-compli-complicated. You have to —come out to yourself first, and that can —be hard,” Blaine tried to explain. 

Rachel nodded but Kurt suspected she didn’t truly understand. 

She did at least try desperately to act normal when Santana and Brittany joined them for breakfast. Quinn glared at them but said nothing. They seemed to be mid-argument when they sat down at the table.

“Come on Santana, why won’t you wear it?” Brittany was holding up a white shirt that said ‘ Lebanese’ in black block letters. It was clearly for the ‘Born This Way’ number, but Kurt was surprised that she was still figuring out her costume. His had been printed weeks ago.

Santana shrieked and grabbed the shirt from Brittany, quickly stuffing it away in her purse. “Because I don’t want everyone to see !” Santana hissed.

“I thought you were Mexican,” Rachel mused.

“I am. It’s just…well, you know how Brittany gets confused about things.” 

“I’m not con—” Brittany was cut off by an elbow in the ribs from Santana.

“Enough! I’m wearing the shirt that says ‘Bitch’ just like in rehearsal.”

Brittany let out a defeated sigh. “Fine, but I just think that everyone is missing out by not getting to see the real you.”

Blaine leaned over and whispered in his ear, “I don’t get it.”

Kurt whispered back, “Brittany’s a terrible speller. I think it’s supposed to say ‘lesbian.’” 

Blaine silently mouthed, “Oh!” and his eyes widened.

“Blaine Anderson, as I live and breathe.” 

Kurt looked up to see a tall brunette boy standing next to their table. Kurt didn’t recognize him but clearly Blaine did.

Kurt noticed Blaine taking a minute to prepare himself. “Sebas-bas-bastian Smythe.” Blaine visibly winced when—despite his best efforts—he still stuttered on the boy’s name.

“And how do we know Sebastian?” Kurt inquired.

“Oh, j-j-just the show choir bl-blogs. He’s the lead sing-singer for Oral Inten-ten-tensity so we have been t-t-talking about how New —Directions is going to destroy them.”

“I can see why you talk so much shit online, Blaine. Compensating for something?”

“Um, no? Are you re-re- referring to my s-s-s- stutter? Because that has no —effect on how much shit I can-I can-I can talk in real life.” Blaine held his head high and Kurt’s heart swelled with pride at how Blaine even managed not to break eye contact once during this declaration.

Sebastian folded his arms across his chest and smirked. “So I can see. Perhaps after you lose to us I’ll let you cry into my well-muscled shoulder.”

Kurt snickered at how absurd the line sounded that he almost forgot to feel jealous that someone was hitting on his boyfriend right in front of him. Easy enough to fix.

Kurt wrapped his arms possessively around Blaine’s waist and leaned in close. “Such a kind offer, Sebastian, but I’ve got it covered. Right, babe?”

Blaine shivered. “Mmhmm,” he said with a nod, starting to blush.

Kurt reveled in the change to Sebastian’s facial expression when the information sunk in. My work here is done. 

Or so he thought.

Kurt rapped his knuckles gently against room 407 and waited, hoping he was doing the right thing. The door opened to reveal Santana, hair wrapped up in a towel, hand on her hip.

“What do you want, Lady Face?”

Kurt glanced around the room, confirming that Brittany and Quinn were not there. “I was wondering if…you wanted to talk. Can I come in?”

“Why would I want to talk to you?” she asked acerbically, but she stood aside to make room for Kurt to enter the room. He stepped inside and they sat across from one another on the edges of the two beds.

“It seems—I mean perhaps—I don’t want to presume, but…I was wondering if you were struggling with your, um, identity? With your sexual orientation, that is?”

“Not as much as you’re struggling with talking at the moment. Seriously, you make Blaine look downright silver-tongued in comparison.”

Kurt had to take a deep breath and remind himself to ignore the barb, knowing that it was just her defense mechanisms kicking in. “I just wanted to remind you that you’re not alone. That you have friends who have been through this and would be happy to listen to you, free of judgement. The first step is always coming out to yourself, and that takes a lot of courage. But I promise you’ll feel so much better once you do. Even if you don’t tell anyone else, at least try to be honest with yourself. It really helps with the self-hatred, in my personal experience.” 

Santana crossed her arms and glared at him silently.

“Just know that Glee Club is a safe space for you to be yourself. You were born this way baby and we love you, no matter who you are.”

A muscle twitched on her face and then suddenly the facade cracked. Her face screwed up and she quickly buried it in her hands, shoulders heaving.

For a moment, Kurt was frozen, unsure what to do. Then he leapt to his feet and took a seat next to Santana. Awkwardly, he began to pat her back. It felt a little bit like patting a porcupine; he was afraid he would get poked at any moment. 

“I just can’t be gay!” she finally said. “Do you even know how many guys I’ve slept with, Kurt? Because I don’t! But I know it’s a lot.”

“I don’t think it works like that, honey. Maybe you’re bi?”

Santana shook her head quietly. “No. I wish, but no.”

“Do you want to say it out loud? Just to me? It might feel…good.” 

“I…I-I-I—fuck why is this so hard?—I’m gay. I’m a fucking lesbian, fuck, fuck, fuck my fucking life.”

“I’m really proud of you, Santana.”

“That was…surreal. I keep thinking it will go away if I just don’t think about it. But it doesn’t work that way, does it?”

“Afraid not.”

“Fuck.” 

“So what shirt are you going to wear today?”

“I mean—it’s not like either of them actually say anything about my…thing. Wearing the ‘Lebanese’ shirt would be a meaningless gesture that would make Brittany happy and deeply confuse my parents when they watch the video of our performance. I think I’ll stick with ‘Bitch.’ At least that one is true.”

“Whatever you feel comfortable in, Chica.” 

Rachel opened with a stunning solo of ‘Go Your Own Way,’ that was clearly directed at Finn. He spent the entire number muttering under his breath. Kurt breathed a sigh of relief when Finn plastered his best show face on and marched out with the rest of the group. Blaine and Rachel had a shared lead for the next group number: ‘Raise Your Glass.’ 

Kurt was bouncing on his toes when it was his turn to sing the opening lines for ‘Born This Way.’ It was very much a shared lead, with almost every member of the choir getting to sing lead for a line or two. But Kurt had more than that, and besides… he was singing Lady fucking Gaga on stage in front of hundreds of people. 

It doesn't matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up 'cause you were born this way, baby

Being the first one out also meant he got the enjoy the gasp of surprise when he pulled off his tearaway top to reveal the white t-shirt underneath that proudly proclaimed, “ Likes Boys.”

"There's nothing wrong with loving who you are"
She said, "'Cause he made you perfect, babe"
"So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
Listen to me when I say”

I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way

Kurt glanced over at Blaine, proudly wearing his shirt that said, “ I St-St-Stutter.” Kurt gave what he hoped was a blazing look that conveyed how he was feeling. Blaine had come so far since the last time they had slapped words on shirts and sang in public. Back then, the word ‘stutter’ was barely two inches tall and almost certainly visible to no one in the audience. But Blaine knowing it was there had been huge. Now it was emblazoned across his front in huge letters. Blaine danced across the stage, unafraid to show his truth.

Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way

‘On the right track’ sounded about right. They were by no means done growing and changing, but Kurt felt like he was moving in the right direction. He just needed to keep following his passions, taking risks, and being honest about his feelings with Blaine. If he could stick to those three things, he was pretty sure he would be okay. He hoped that maybe Santana and even Dave Karofsky were on the right track now too. When did I become a gay sherpa, guiding the youth out of the closet? 

Oh there ain't no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Oh there ain't no other way
Baby I was born this way
Right track baby I was born this way

Kurt’s attention snapped back to performing as he got to say his favorite line from the song.

Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Don't be don't be don't be

Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I'm on the right track baby
I was born to survive

Kurt panted, out of breath, as the audience erupted into roaring applause that quickly became a standing ovation. The New Directions all grasped hands and took a bow. The curtains dropped and suddenly Kurt was flying through the air, yelping with surprise.

“We did it, we did it! Oh wow, that w-w-w-w-was so good!”

“Put me down , Blaine!” he insisted. Reluctantly, Blaine placed him back on the ground. Kurt adjusted his now rumpled shirt and frowned. But he was unable to resist Blaine’s infectious post-performance enthusiasm. He had forgotten just how energized Blaine had been after Sectionals. Kurt found performing exciting but to Blaine it was almost like a drug. He’s like a hyper little kid who has eaten too much sugar.  

But Blaine’s excitement after their performance was nothing compared to the shrieks of joy that erupted from his mouth when the judges announced that they had won. Kurt couldn’t find it within him to care. Instead, he whisked Blaine backstage and planted a very passionate kiss on to his lips. Then Kurt really couldn’t complain because Blaine suddenly focused all that wild energy into pressing Kurt up against the wall and touching any part of his body he could reach. They emerged a number of minutes later looking rather conspicuously rumpled and sporting identical shit-eating grins.

Sam and Blaine feigned exhaustion from the long day of performing in order to sneak off to explore the "underworld" of Chicago. Kurt chose to attend one of the chaperoned activities and spent the afternoon exploring The Art Institute. 

It was more magnificent than he could possibly have imagined. Around every corner it seemed that Kurt found yet another incredibly famous work of art that he recognized. His jaw dropped again and again as he wandered through the Impressionist Gallery at the top of a flight of gorgeous marble stairs . The paintings were simply enormous and vibrant with color and life.

Rachel dragged him down to the basement where they discovered the Thorne Miniature Rooms . Kurt was fascinated by the tiny, perfect recreations of rooms from across the world and across history. Rachel cooed with him over the meticulously carved wooden furniture and the luxurious textiles. “See that? That’s the exact wallpaper I want in my living room someday.” Kurt pointed eagerly and Rachel nodded her approval. 

“You should take a picture,” she suggested.

“Ooh, good idea!”

Kurt almost forgot about the fashion exhibit, so enraptured was he by the endless rooms of fine art. He imagined it would take many days to see the whole museum, especially when Rachel mentioned The Modern Wing, which they hadn’t even visited yet. It was a whole second building that had been added more recently.

They stopped for paper cups of hot chocolate before moseying over to Millennium Park. It was like no park he had ever seen before. 

When Kurt heard the word park, it conjured images of grass, trees, and perhaps a swing set or a basketball hoop. This park contained large works of sculpture, an outdoor performance venue with a swooping metal roof, an ice skating rink, and a strange silver protuberance in the middle of a square. Rachel grabbed his hand and ran over to it. Kurt thought it looked a bit like a kidney bean made out of mercury. As they got closer, Kurt realized that the surface created a perfect mirror, reflecting the full Chicago skyline as well as the faces of the tourists who crowded around it.

“What is this?” Kurt asked. Rachel shrugged. “I have no idea but it’s cool, right? We should take a picture with it.”

A young woman standing a few feet away piped up to explain. “It’s a sculpture called Cloudgate, but everyone just calls it ‘The Bean’ because of the shape. You should try walking underneath; that’s the best part.”

“Oh, thank you, ma’am.”

They waited for the crowd to thin and then together they walked underneath the sculpture. Rachel looked up and then gasped. When Kurt looked up, he was mesmerized by the hundreds of reflections of himself. The internal curvature of the sculpture was somehow constructed so that he saw himself over and over again. Finally, a mirror that truly lets me see myself from every angle.

That evening, Blaine and Sam finally appeared with flushed cheeks but unharmed. To Kurt’s consternation, they had Sebastian in tow. 

Sam insisted that they had been terribly lost but Blaine privately reassured Kurt that he had been following their progress on a map he had printed from the internet. “I let him th-th-think we were on an e-e-epic adventure, but I wasn’t actually going to wwwander off with no guide. Besides, most of it was full of commuters. Parts of it were a —bit shabby but some areas were downright swanky. There’s e-e-even an underground mall.” Blaine’s gushing was downright adorable. 

“I take it you found chipmunk-face in one of the shabbier corners?”

Sebastian rolled his eyes and assumed a patronizing tone. “Hilarious. I spent the afternoon shopping on the Magnificent Mile. Coming to Chicago without shopping is a sin.”

“I could say the same about The Art Institute,” Kurt shot back. “Maybe only if you’re cultured enough to appreciate it.”

Sebastian’s eyes flashed. “I lived in Paris for a year my little bumpkin. Don’t talk to me about culture, you’re going to embarrass yourself.”

“Hey guys!” Rachel rushed up and linked arms with Kurt and Blaine. “I know what we have to do tonight!”

“What?” Kurt asked with trepidation.

“Visit Boystown!” she said emphatically, clearly expecting that to mean something to them.

Kurt and Blaine stared at her blankly, but Sebastian seemed to know what she was talking about. “Oh excellent, I was planning to head there myself.”

Rachel sighed dramatically and then explained. “Boystown is only Chicago’s gay neighborhood. I want you to see it! When my dads went on tour with their show, they spent all of their off-nights hanging out in Boystown.”

“How did I not know that there was an entire gay neighborhood?” Kurt asked.

“How indeed?” drawled Sebastian. “Honestly, you two are the worst homosexuals I’ve ever seen.”

“We-we-we have to go!” Blaine declared. Then his face fell. “Oh no! I d-d-didn’t pack my rainbow bow tie.”

“If you’re that disappointed then you can wear my ‘Likes Boys’ shirt,” Kurt offered.

“R-r-really?” Blaine asked, the light coming back into his eyes.

“Sure, why not. As long as you don’t mind that it’s a bit sweaty.”

“As long as it’s your sweat, I def-def-definitely don’t mind.” Blaine waggled his eyebrows playfully.

“Oh get a room,” Rachel huffed. Sebastian’s oily smile faltered slightly.

Sam and Tina decided to join them and the group walked down the dirty, stone steps that led to the underground portion of the train system. Sebastian took the lead and Kurt was privately grateful because he was sure he would have been hopelessly lost trying to figure out the trains on his own. How on earth were you supposed to know if you wanted “95th/Dan Ryan” or “Howard”? I know that we’re going North, shouldn’t that be enough? How does anyone figure this out? 

Sebastian confidently led them to the “Howard” platform and they waited only five minutes before the metal train shuddered to a stop in front of them. Once they made it out of downtown, the train emerged from the subway and continued along elevated tracks. 

“Doors will open on the left at…Belmont” a recording came out over the PA system. 

“That’s us,” Sebastian declared confidently. Kurt jogged to make sure he didn’t lose him in the crowd, checking to make sure that Blaine was following close behind. They emerged onto the sidewalk and Kurt was amazed to see rainbow pride flags flying from window after window as they walked down the block. 

He had never felt so comfortable taking Blaine’s hand in public before. Blaine squeezed him tightly when another gay couple walked by, chatting pleasantly about their grocery list. 

“See,” Rachel said proudly. “I told you it was worth visiting!”

“I feel like I’m on an alien planet,” said Kurt. “I just…I’ve never seen this many gay people in one place. It’s almost dizzying.”

“It’s a-a-awesome!” Blaine declared excitedly. 

“You two are like children,” Sebastian commented.

Tina blushed as she began to point out the sex shops that seemed to grace every corner. The neighborhood was full of funky thrift shops, loud bars, coffee shops, and nightclubs.

“What do you think the odds are that any of these places don’t card?” Sam asked longingly.

“Slim to none,” Rachel declared. “Chicago was the birthplace of prohibition—well, Evanston, but close enough. They have seriously strict liquor laws. Maybe if it wasn’t a Saturday.” 

“Lucky for you, I happen to run a lucrative side-business in fake IDs. Let me see if I can find anything to resemble you all close enough to get by.” Sebastian started rifling through his satchel. Why would he bring all of those with him unless this was his plan all along?

Kurt was satisfied just to soak in the atmosphere, but clearly Sebastian had other ideas. While Sebastian searched through his bag, the group paused outside one of the clubs for a few minutes just to watch the patrons wandering in and out. Men of all shapes, sizes, and colors walked in full of excitement and emerged drunkenly leaning on one another. He was shocked to see a couple making out just a few feet away, leaning against a lamp post.

“I don’t think we have to worry about PDA here,” Kurt said.

“No kidding,” Blaine said, gesturing to the couple who were now full-on grinding.

“I bet I would be popular in a gay club,” said Sam.

“Only until they realize that you’re straight,” Rachel scolded. “Gay men don’t usually prefer unavailable men, Sam, and you might even be seen as an intruder in their safe space.”

“No fair! I just want to dance and be adored.”

“That’s what literally every other club is for, Sam. Gay clubs are for gay men to have fun without fear of prejudice and for straight girls to have fun without being constantly hit on. I don’t make the rules, that’s just how it is.”

Sebastian re-appeared, fanning out fake-IDs in his hand. Kurt felt like he was at a kids’ magic show all of a sudden. He had to suppress a giggle as he imagined Sebastian in an ostentatious magician’s hat. 

A rather drunk twenty-something had his arm slung around Sebastian and whispered something into his ear that led them both to laughing. Doesn’t he know Sebastian is underage?

The older man proceeded to insert himself into their conversation. 

“This chick is correct. Gay bars are not for you, straight boy. We don’t mind the straight girls, although, I am going to start throwing shit if another fucking bachelorette party shows up.”

“Why?” Rachel asked innocently.

“Really? You don’t see the cruel irony of shoving your marital bliss in our faces when we aren’t fucking allowed to? It’s exploitative and I’m so over that shit. I heard ‘ Spin ’ is thinking of banning them and I say good riddance.”

“Wow, I never thought of it that way.” Rachel nodded thoughtfully. Rachel usually got defensive when her opinions were questioned and Kurt was pleasantly surprised at how quickly she adapted.

“Enjoying your straight privilege? Not having to think about that, huh?” The man leaned in closer to Rachel, looming over her petite frame.

Sam assumed a protective stance, clearly uncomfortable with how close the man was getting. Sebastian is the one who brought him over. He should really be doing something.

“Hey, man, we’re not trying to cause any trouble. Rachel’s dads are gay so she seriously does sympathize with ya’ll's plight.”

“Cute,” he said in a simpering tone.

“Sorry if our ignorance offends you but we’re from a small town in Ohio and sixteen, so maybe you could cut us some slack,” said Kurt, trying for a different angle. He reached for Blaine’s hand, hoping to draw strength. For the first time in his life, he realized that being visibly gay was going to help him rather than hurt him.

“Oh shit, sorry girl.” He glanced over at Sebastian, eyes wide. “You’re sixteen? Back off, jailbait.” Sebastian glared darkly at Kurt, who shrugged apologetically.

The man turned to his friend and gestured him over. “Look, Sharik, it’s baby gays from Ohio! Aren’t they adorable?” His friend grinned and nodded, swaying slightly to keep his balance. Then he pointed at Kurt and Blaine’s clasped hands. “Oh my god, were you like the only two gay kids at your school? How precious!”

“Yeah, it was really p-p-p-precious when they were beating the-the-the-the shit out of me,” Blaine said darkly. “Being a ‘baby gay’ in Ohio isn’t as cute as you-you-you think.”

Sharik shoved his friend and shook his head disapprovingly. “Sorry about her, she’s just completely wasted. I’m really sorry to hear that happened to you. I grew up in a small town too and everything got so much better as soon as I moved to Chicago. These urban fuckers have no idea how good they have it. Just…keep your hopes up. It really does get better.” 

He smiled at them and then led his friend off towards the train, supporting his weight so he wouldn’t fall over.

“Well, now I can say I learned a new term. ‘Baby gay,’ that’s a fun one.”

“I think it’s m-m-meant to be affectionate. Like they’re no-no-nostalgic for that t-t-time in their life.”

“Somewhere between affectionate and condescending would be more accurate,” Sebastian explained authoritatively. “Who is ready to go dancing, bitches?”

Rachel squealed and clapped with excitement but the reaction from the rest of the group was rather more muted. While there was something thrilling about the idea of seeing the inside of a gay club, Kurt was also overwhelmed by the idea. He had already felt out of his depth just with those two men on the street. Besides, his father might actually kill him if he got arrested.

He glanced over at Blaine to get a read on his boyfriend’s level of interest. Blaine’s eyes were bright with excitement. Well, that settled it. If Blaine was going than so was Kurt. He certainly wasn’t going to leave him alone to be groped by that slippery Sebastian guy. Kurt was willing to tolerate his presence for now because he seemed to know so much more about LGBT culture in big cities but he was going to keep a close eye on him. Something about that guy just rubbed Kurt the wrong way, and it wasn’t only that he had been their competition.

Kurt waited until a few other fake IDs had successfully gotten his friends into the club before he was brave enough to try. He held Blaine’s hand tightly, suddenly filled with nerves. He tried to look sophisticated and bored as he handed over the ID, hoping to give off the impression that he did this all the time. Thankfully, the club was so crowded that the bouncer seemed to be giving IDs only a cursory glance. Kurt and Blaine both made it through.

Once inside, Kurt’s senses were assaulted by seizure-inducing flashing lights, bass that thrummed inside of his chest, and the overwhelming smell of sweaty bodies. Kurt immediately felt overheated in his thick wool socks, heavy winter coat, and thick hat. He peeled off as many layers as he could, stuffing his gloves, hat, and scarf into one of the sleeves of his coat and hanging it off of his arm. 

The other patrons of the club seemed to have dressed more strategically wearing t-shirts and tank-tops, their coats cast aside on various surfaces and hooks. Kurt was surprised by the number of women in mini-skirts, given that it was about 38 degrees outside. How did they make it here without contracting hypothermia?

Kurt looked around and realized he had lost sight of Blaine. His pulse quickened. Sebastian wasn’t around either. He grabbed Rachel’s hand tightly, not wanting to lose her too. “Where’s Blaine?” he half-shouted to be heard over the pulsing music.

“I think Sebastian took him to get drinks,” she shouted back.

“Isn’t that pushing our luck just a bit with the IDs?”

Rachel just shrugged. “I think we deserve to celebrate. We won Regionals, after all!”

Sebastian and Blaine re-appeared, carrying a tray of shots. “Drink up, bitches!” Sebastian shouted. Kurt hesitated for a moment before he grabbed one of the tiny glasses. He had never done a shot before but he thought he knew the basic idea. 

He clinked glasses with Blaine, brought the glass to his lips, and tilted it back. He tried to chug down the liquid but it burned his throat like fire. This was nothing like the last time he had tried drinking. This tastes the way that rubbing alcohol smells. Choking and sputtering, Kurt had to stop after only a few sips.

Sebastian laughed cruelly. “Aww, baby gay doesn’t know how to drink either.” Kurt could feel his nostrils flaring with anger and embarrassment. He glanced over at Blaine who looked surprised but was saying nothing. Wow, thanks for sticking up for me. 

Kurt defiantly choked down the rest of the alcohol, making a mental note never to do a shot again. The effect of the alcohol was shockingly immediate. Within seconds he felt fire coursing through his veins. It seemed to be having an even stronger effect on Blaine, who was shouting shrilly when the next song came on.

“Oh my god, I love this song !” Sebastian announced, grabbing Blaine’s hand and dragging him to the dance floor.

I'm still hot
I hooked up with yo best friend
I've stole your girlfriend,
I stood you up again,

Guess what I'm still hot

“Oh close your mouth before something flies in,” Rachel scolded him. Kurt realized his mouth was agape. 

“But he…he just…he just took Blaine!” Kurt sputtered.

“He’s not your property, Kurt.”

“Of course not, but he is my boyfriend. And Sebastian just…whisked him away.”

“Don’t you trust him?”

“Well, sure, but…I don’t trust that weasel Sebastian.”

“So, then let’s go get them.”

Rachel grabbed Kurt’s hand and dragged him off toward the dance floor, her knees bopping along to the techno backbeat of the song. 

I'm still hot
I'm crazy, I'm off the wall
I never check, never call,
I got you by the shiny disco ball
I won't remember your name the next day
But tonight I'll rock your world like a DJ

When they got to the dance floor, Rachel pulled Kurt towards her and began to dance with him as they wove through the crowd. Kurt had never been this close to this many men—well, really to this many people before. Everywhere he looked were muscled biceps and ass-hugging jeans. He felt a little dizzy with how sexually charged everything around them was. He clung to Rachel like a lifeline.

Finally he spotted Sebastian’s stupid face bopping above the crowd. Blaine was too short to see but Kurt assumed he was there too. He better not be grinding with that chipmunk when I get there.

Kurt let out a sigh of relief when Blaine was flailing his arms around in the air at a healthy distance from Sebastian. The gel had melted out of his hair and his curls were bouncing with every shake of his head.

Kurt had never heard this song before but Sebastian seemed to know all of the words. As he sang along, he locked eyes with Kurt.

And guess what I'm still hot
I always come up on top,
I keep on going, don't drop,

Kurt swallowed uncomfortably as Sebastian leaned in towards Blaine for the next few lines. Blaine, at least, seemed thoroughly unaware of Sebastian’s hungry gaze.

I like my jimmies in my beatbox, beatbox
I won't remember your name the next day
But tonight I'll rock your world like a DJ

I don't need your glamour
I don't need your glamour
I can do whatever

Having safely deposited Kurt with Blaine, Rachel turned to grab Sam and started dancing with him. That’s one way to get over Finn. You go girl.

Kurt’s jaw was set with determination as he marched over to Blaine and tapped him on the shoulder. He was rewarded with an excited grin when Blaine saw him. Kurt wound his hands around Blaine’s neck and then Blaine’s hands were on his hips, guiding them to move with his own in time with the beat. 

Kurt barely registered Sebastian’s annoyed look before he lost himself in the music and Blaine’s touch. The music was so loud that Kurt felt like his heartbeat was syncing with the music as it vibrated deep in his bones. The alcohol he had downed earlier left his limbs loose and his mind uninhibited. He rubbed circles into the back of Blaine’s neck, not even minding how sweaty it was. In fact…it was actually quite sexy.

Blaine’s breath was hot against his ear and Kurt felt it deep in the pit of his stomach. “I’m going to go find the bathroom. You good here?” Kurt glanced over to see that Sebastian, Rachel, Tina, and Sam were all dancing nearby. He nodded.

Then Blaine was weaving his way through the crowd and Kurt lost sight of him almost immediately. 

“Wow, you must be really insecure if you have to mark your territory like that,” Sebastian drawled.

“Fuck off,” Kurt retorted.

“Oh, she’s got a mouth on her.”

“I’m not a girl.”

“Oh my god, get over yourself. It’s a gay thing.”

“Well, it’s not a Kurt thing so stop.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Just enjoy it while it lasts. Your little stuttering boyfriend over there has no idea how far out of your league he is. You should never have brought him here. The second he realizes what a hot commodity he is, he’s going to leave your tragically gay face.”

“Blaine loves me. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You show up for five minutes and think you know us? Please, you’re talking out of your flat ass.”

Sebastian narrowed his eyes. “Well, at least mine’s not pear-shaped,” he spat.

“Stay away from Blaine!” Kurt replied, angrily.

“Or what? You’ll tear me down with your vicious vicious words? Puh-lease, you can’t touch me.”

“Well, you can’t touch what we have!”

“You keep telling yourself that.” Then Sebastian danced away from him, pressing up against the first man he found, then moving on to the next until he disappeared into the crowd.

Kurt took a few deep breaths, trying to calm the anger and fear that had stirred up inside of him.

Hands grasped at his hips, and for a moment Kurt thought that Blaine was back. But they felt…wrong. They were bigger than Blaine’s and they pulled at him more roughly than Blaine's ever would. Again, Kurt felt himself gaping wordlessly like a fish. He wanted to move but he felt frozen in place. The mystery hands pulled him closer and when he felt the hard press of an erection against him, Kurt felt panic rise higher and higher within him. Suddenly, he couldn’t breathe. 

He shrieked, grabbing at the intruding hands and pushing until they were finally off of him. He turned around but the man was already gone. Rachel suddenly seemed very far away and she was so engrossed dancing with Sam that she hadn’t even looked over when Kurt screamed. The only person who seemed to have noticed was Sebastian, who rolled his eyes condescendingly, as if to say, “See, what a baby!”

Kurt’s breathing grew faster as he gasped for oxygen. But the hot room was so humid with sweat that he didn’t seem to be getting any. Why can’t I breathe? He could hear himself breathing faster and faster until he was practically panting, yet still he felt suffocated. He began to feel dizzy and disconnected from the people around him. Too many people. Can’t breathe. 

To his utter humiliation, tears sprung unbidden to his eyes as his rapid, panicked breathing continued. What’s happening to me? Something is wrong . Am I having a heart attack? Why can’t I breathe? Am I dying?

The panic just grew bigger and bigger. Kurt felt a bizarre tingling sensation begin in his fingertips and lips. Am I going to pass out?

“Kurt?” Blaine! Help me, Blaine!

“Oh my god, Kurt what’s wrong?”

Kurt tried to speak but it was hard to get words out between his gasping breaths. “I—I—can’t….*gasp* can’t br— *gasp* breathe.” 

Blaine’s eyes were as big as saucers. “Okay, um, let’s get you outside for some fresh air.” Outside. Yes, outside has more air. Kurt nodded, trying to control the trembling that began to take over his entire body. Blaine looked terrified, which did not help Kurt relax. 

Gently but firmly, Blaine grasped his hand and led Kurt over to the rest of their friends. Rachel at least had the decency to look concerned when she saw the state Kurt was in. “Oh, no! What’s wrong? We’ll come with you!”

Kurt could barely keep track of the words they were saying as Blaine steered him towards the exit. When they finally burst out into the cold, winter night air, Kurt sucked it in like a thirsty man in the desert. He felt a brief moment of relief before realizing that he still couldn’t breathe. Worst of all, the pins and needles tingling in his fingertips and lips had spread until practically his entire face, hands, and forearms were half numb with the sensation. 

“Kurt, please try to slow down your breathing for me.” It was Sam’s soft voice this time giving him directions.

He took in as slow a breath as he could manage but it came out in stuttering exhalations followed by a quick breath in and then back out. The tears just keep streaming uncontrollably from his eyes. He felt simultaneously like a fish out of water and like he was drowning.

“Really good, Kurt, just keep trying. Does anyone happen to have a paper bag?”

“Does that really work?” Tina asked.

“Yes! If someone is hyperventilating it absolutely does work.”

Hyperventilating? Is that what I’m doing? What does that even mean?

No one seemed to have a paper bag, unsurprisingly. Blaine tried to take his hand but Kurt felt incredibly claustrophobic and pushed him away.

“I know you’re all concerned about Kurt but I think he needs some space right now. A crowd is just going to make it worse. Blaine do you want to stay with him?”

“Yes, but you seem to be the only one who knows what to do right now, Sam. You should stay with him.” 

Kurt felt himself being settled onto a bench around the corner from the club, where there was less of a crowd. 

Sam kept talking to him, counting off each breath in and each breath out. Slowly—painfully slowly—Kurt was finally able to match his breathing to Sam’s counting and the tingling began to subside. After a few more minutes, he no longer felt like he was drowning in the air. He could breathe.

He felt absolutely exhausted, like he had just run a marathon or stayed up for three days straight. But he could breathe. Now if his hands would just stop shaking. 

Then Blaine was there again, tentatively reaching for his hands, kneeling in front of him. This time Kurt didn’t push him away, feeling the comfort of his hands. As long as Blaine didn’t try to get any closer, he appreciated his touch. He just didn’t want anything near his chest or neck, anything that might crowd his ability to breathe. 

“You’re okay. I’m so glad that you’re okay, sweetheart.”

“Me too. That was…really scary.”

Blaine nodded solemnly. “For me too.”

“What…what happened? I don’t understand what happened. A stranger tried to dance with me and I guess I kind of freaked out but then something went all wrong with my body and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to suffocate.” 

Blaine’s eyebrows scrunched together. “Sam said…he thinks—well, he said it looked like-like-like-like a p-p-p-panic attack. Has this ever happened —to you before, K-Kurt?”

He shook his head. A panic attack. But I couldn’t breathe! I was panicking because I couldn’t breathe, not the other way around. He doesn’t understand.

“No, I don’t think that’s right. Maybe I have asthma or something.”

“Hmmm, maybe,” Blaine replied, looking unconvinced. “Let’s get you back to the hotel, Kurt.”

Hotel. Warm bed. Want to sleep for a million years. 

“Yeah, okay. I just want to go to bed.”

Chapter Text

Blaine had hoped to talk to Kurt about what happened at the nightclub during the long bus ride back to Ohio, but Kurt insisted that he was exhausted and spent most of the ride napping. 

On Monday, Blaine drove Kurt to school. He decided to break the ice. “So, are you worried about-t-t having another-having another —panic attack?”

“I didn’t have a panic attack,” Kurt insisted flatly. 

“What? B-b-b-but how can you —be sure you didn’t?” Blaine pressed.

“Because I didn’t! It was just like…a breathing problem. I just felt like I couldn’t breathe, that’s what it felt like. I should probably get tested for asthma or something.”

“Kurt,” Blaine scolded, “it did not s-s-sound like asthma. You w-w-weren’t wheezing, you were like-like-like-like —breathing fast and shallow.”

“What do you know about asthma, anyways?” he asked petulantly.

“I r-r-read things and it d-d-d-didn’t sound like an a-a-asthma attack, that’s all I’m-I’m-I’m saying, Kurt. Why won’t you llllisten to me?”

“Because you got your M.D. on the internet, Blaine! And you’re the one not listening?” Kurt was really starting to sound angry and Blaine felt his frustration mounting. Why is he always so stubborn?

“F-f-f-fine, I’m not a doctor, I know th-th-th-that. It just seems like you don’t think-don’t think—like you don’t think it was a p-panic attack because you don’t want it to be a p-p-panic attack rather than be-because you really d-d-d-don’t think it was.”

Blaine pulled up in front of McKinley and he heard Kurt mutter, “Oh, thank god,” under his breath. Kurt practically leapt out of Blaine’s car as soon as he cut the engine. 

This is going to be harder than I thought.

Kurt was stubborn, but Blaine knew how to be persistent. He had even been praised for his persistence when Kurt was hiding at home from Karofsky. That had been a good reminder that sometimes he needed to stick to his guns when things were important. That’s why Blaine was so surprised when it all blew up in his face by the end of the day.

He had hoped that maybe Sam could help Kurt see reason. After all, Sam had been the one to recognize it as a panic attack in the first place. Blaine tried again over lunch.

“Sam, I was so im-im-impressed with how you-you-you knew what to do when Kurt had that p-p-p-panic attack in Chicago. How did you know wh-wh-what to look for?” Blaine used his most charming voice, trying to frame the conversation as being about Sam rather than about Kurt.

Kurt, of course, saw right through this charade. “For the umpteenth time, it wasn’t a panic attack,” he grumbled.

“Oh, um, thanks Blaine. My, uh, my mom gets them sometimes. She hyperventilates when she gets them too and she explained it to us so we weren’t scared when it happens.”

“That must be hard for her,” Kurt replied. “Thankfully that’s not my situation.” I’ve never seen him in denial about something like this before. What is going on? 

“Oh, okay, Kurt. I didn’t realize. I guess it could be something else…it just reminded me a lot of when my mom gets them. My bad.”

“Kurt’s just in d-d-d-denial, Sam. Don’t m-m-mind him.”

Kurt’s eyes grew wide. “Excuse me? Don’t mind me ? I’m the one it fucking happened to Blaine, God!” 

“I-I-I-I-I-I-I” he had to stop to take a deep breath, so flummoxed was he by Kurt’s icy stare. It gave Blaine a moment to take in Kurt’s facial expression, his body posture, and the tone in his voice. He looks absolutely furious. I need to take a step back and re-evaluate this situation before I say something I regret. Blaine played the words back over in his head but he still didn’t understand why Kurt was so upset.

Poor Sam was caught in the middle. “Hey, Kurt, I’m sorry dude. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Kurt sighed. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Sam. This is between Blaine and myself.”

Sam looked relieved. “Phew. So…maybe I’ll just…go, so you two can figure this out.” He grabbed his tray and his backpack and left without bothering to wait for a reply.

“I…I see now that you’re m-m-m-mad at me but I-I-I-I d-don’t under-understand why, so can you…explain?”

“I just…I wish you would stop calling it a panic attack.”

“Okay, but why though?”

“Because you don’t know that! You don’t, okay, you’re guessing. Sam even admitted that he couldn’t really say for sure.”

“Well, sure, of course he c-c-c-can’t be sure, but, well, but-but-but-but…Sam has experience, so, why won’t you listen to him?”

“Well maybe I would listen if you weren’t being so pushy about it, Blaine.”

“I’m j-j-just being —pushy because I care about you and I’m w-w-worried! Something happened and you’re not…you’re not getting any help or t-t-trying to figure it out!”

Kurt sighed. “I don’t think I’m explaining it very well. It’s not just that you’re being pushy about it, it’s…I don’t know it feels like…it feels like you’re telling me what happened instead of letting me tell you what happened. You’re…you’re acting like you know more about my own experiences than I do, Blaine, and it’s…I don’t know, it just feels really uncomfortable. I don’t know if I can even explain why exactly, but I feel like I have the right to interpret my own experiences, does that make sense?”

Blaine’s heart sank because yes , it finally did make sense. And with that realization came a wave of guilt. “Oh, wow…Kurt, I…I’m re-really sorry. I definitely don’t w-w-want you to feel that way, so I’m sorry that’s what I did.”

“Well, thank you for apologizing. I guess I shouldn’t have expected you to know how I was feeling when I didn’t really have it figured out until just now myself.” He offered Blaine a tentative half-smile. Blaine reached across to find Kurt’s hand under the lunch table and gave it a squeeze.

“I d-d-do want to listen, sweetheart, I re-really do. I want to hear what happened from you, how you saw it. I w-w-want to be there for you to be comforting and-and sup-supportive. I…I shouldn’t have j-jumped into problem solving mode so f-fast. I guess…when you didn’t want to talk--didn’t want to talk on the, uh, the bus, I assumed…well, that you didn’t want to talk at-at-at all.”

“Oh, no, Blaine I was honestly just exhausted. It was, like, bizarrely draining and I was kind of still recovering. Maybe…after school, today? If you want to come over, we can get cozy with some blankets and I’ll tell you about it.”

“That s-sounds p-perfect.”

Just as Kurt had suggested, the boys curled up in the living room with an afghan over their laps and Blaine’s arms around Kurt. Before, the harder Blaine had pushed the stronger Kurt had resisted. Now that Blaine was taking a step back and listening, the dynamic was completely different. Kurt was opening up and sharing how he was feeling, without being afraid of how Blaine would use it to convince Kurt that he was right.

“You know what it felt like, actually? It felt like when you get the wind knocked out of you, like when you’re playing sports. It was like that!”

“Oh, I g-g-get it now.” Blaine chuckled. “I keep forgetting you were on the f-f-f-football team last year.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Blaine wrapped his arms tighter around Kurt, drawing him in closer and pressing a kiss to his temple. Kurt hummed in contentment and burrowed deeper into his chest. 

The key turned in the lock and Burt walked in. “Woah, keep it PG in there boys!”

“We’re just cuddling, Dad!” Kurt said defensively.

“As long as that’s all it is, Kiddo.”

“I promise, Mr. —Hummel!” Blaine added. 

They stayed in one another’s arms until Blaine was finally forced to extricate himself in order to head home for dinner. Since their plans to spend time together that night had been rather last minute, Blaine’s parents had insisted that he come home for dinner.

“So Sebastian’s going to-going to-going to-going to be in t-t-town this weekend. He was as-as-asking if we w-wanted to hang out. What do you think?”

“Are you serious?” Kurt asked in disbelief.

“I, uh, uh, uh, I mean—I was but I’m sensing that’s the-the-the wrong answer. So why d-d-don’t you tell me what you’re thhhhinking.” 

“I just—I mean why ?”

“Well, he asked,” Blaine said with a shrug, feeling like maybe he hadn’t understood the question.

“But why do you want to? It defies comprehension. What do you even like about him?” 

“Oh, I mean—well he’s into-into-into-into show —choir and, well, he’s, um, he’s gay like us, so there’s that.” 

“Well gay and likes show choir seems like a pretty thin basis for a friendship.”

“I just…can’t I be allowed to just l-l-like getting to know n-n-new people and making new friends?”

“Of course you’re allowed to , Blaine, jeez I’m not your mother. I wasn’t trying to tell you who to be friends with. I’m just trying to understand,” Kurt said huffily. 

“I d-d-don’t see what there is to under-understand, but okay. We hung out in Chicago, he wants to-to-to hang out again. Why would I s-s-say no?”

“Well, for starters maybe because he spent half the weekend trying to get into your pants.”

Um, what?

“That’s n-n-not true!”

“Isn’t it? He was dancing all up on you at the nightclub. And you didn’t hear what he said to me when you left to go to the bathroom.”

“Wait, what? Oh my god, is that why you had-why you had-why you-why you had a p-p-panic attack? What did he sssay?” Blaine was suddenly filled with worry.

“Oh my god , Blaine, enough with the panic attack. This isn’t about that.” 

“Okay, okay, s-s-sorry! If it’s not that, then…it j-j-just sounds like you’re jealous.”

“I’m not jealous! Or maybe I am, a little bit, but…look I didn’t love watching someone flirting and pawing all over my boyfriend all night.”

“Come on, Kurt, you know how cl-cl-clueless I am about this-this sort of thing. Was he really flirting?”

“Wow, yes, Blaine, he was really flirting.”

“Well…I’m s-s-sorry I didn’t notice. It’s a little hard to p-p-pay attention when I’ve got you all sexy on the-on the dance floor.” A little flirting to remind him he has nothing to be jealous about can’t hurt.  

Kurt blushed and adjusted his collar. “It’s really unfair that you’re so good at flirting and yet so oblivious when you’re on the receiving end.”

“Hey!” Blaine protested. “I n-notice when you flirt with me! N-No one else m-matters.”

“Well this is just downright unfair. How can I stay annoyed with you when you’re being so cute?”

Blaine shrugged, grinning.

“Anyways, it’s not just the flirting. He’s rude, he thinks he’s better than us, and it feels like he’s trying to, like, steal you away from me or something. Sorry, I know that sounds ridiculous. I know you’re not a thing that can be owned or stolen, but…that’s the only way I can explain how I’m feeling, I guess.”

No one could ever steal me away from you. Never. I wish you would just believe that as strongly as I do. 

“You have n-nothing to worry about. You’re just b-b-being —paranoid.”

Sebastian: So is the Goblin King joining us for Karaoke?

Goblin King? Like David Bowie in Labyrinth? Who is that supposed to…does he mean Kurt? He must. 

Blaine: Yes. My friend Nick is hoping we can meet him up by his school. Apparently there’s an all-ages place he likes. 

Sebastian: Lost your ID already?

Blaine: No, but I’d rather not use it if there’s another option.

Sebastian: Fine. I suppose we can be law-abiding citizens for one night but next time we’re going somewhere actually fun. 

Hey! This place is going to be fun! I’ll just have to prove him wrong. Considering how seriously Nick took his karaoke, Blaine felt confident that he would.

Blaine: He’s more of a Freddie than a Bowie.

Sebastian: I’m not seeing it.

Blaine pulled up the photo album on his phone and scrolled through until he found one of Kurt and him dressed up as different eras of Freddie Mercury from last Halloween. He texted it to Sebastian. See! We’re fun!

Sebastian: I’m impressed. But you’re clearly the Freddie in the relationship. Your boy’s got the Bowie stick-up hair. Nice arms, Killer Queen ;)

Blaine blasted one of his “pump up” playlists for the ride to the karaoke bar so by the time he pulled into the parking lot, he was already riding an energy high. Sam and Rachel singing along loudly in the back was almost enough to distract Blaine from Kurt's loud sighs. He had said that he was fine with them all going to karaoke with Sebastian but now that the day had arrived his displeasure—though silent—was palpable.

“Remind me who all is coming tonight,” Rachel requested as they made their way towards a large table. 

“Well, us o-o-obviously. Nick is b-b-bringing his roommate David, who I met briefly the last time I was out there and he seems p-pretty cool. Then Se-Se-Sebastian is coming…I don’t think he’s bringing anyone but he m-might be so I got an extra seat.”

“So I’m the only girl?” Rachel asked with a pout.

“Oh…I-I suppose you are, R-Rach. Is that…is that okay?” Blaine was so used to Rachel hanging out with mostly guys that it hadn’t even occurred to him that she might feel the odd one out. 

“That depends on your answer to the next two questions. First, is David cute. And second, does he play for your team or mine?”

Blaine laughed. “Yes, he’s c-c-cute and as far as I know, he’s st-st-straight.”

“Oooh, does this mean we can play matchmaker? This night is already looking up.” Kurt clapped his hands with excitement. 

“As long as no one sings ‘Fiddler,’” Rachel warned.

In flagrant disregard for her request, Kurt immediately began to sing, “Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch…” He interlocked his fingers underneath his chin and spread his elbows wide. In the midst of Kurt’s crooning, Sebastian arrived. Kurt stopped mid-lyric.

“Oh don’t stop on my account, Yente.”

Kurt’s ears turned pink and he muttered under his breath, Blaine only catching some of his words “…not even who sings…not that…even matters.”

Blaine hopped up to say hello. You never stay seated when a guest arrives, his mother’s voice echoed in his head. Sebastian smiled broadly and leaned in for a hug—or at least Blaine assumed it was a hug. Suddenly their left cheeks were pressed together and Sebastian kissed the air right next to Blaine’s ear. Blaine pulled back as soon as he could without seeming rude, had just enough time to catch Kurt’s gobsmacked expression, and then was being pulled in and the process was repeated on the other side. 

Blaine laughed nervously. 

“Is that how they say hello in Cincinnati?” Kurt asked, glaring daggers at Sebastian. 

“As if! No, babe, it’s how they say hello in Paris. It’s much more civilized, don’t you think?”

“More like a violation of personal space,” Kurt muttered audibly under his breath.

Blaine reached out to take Kurt’s hand in an effort to soothe his jealousy. I’m yours, sweetheart, don’t fret. Kurt met his eyes and gave him a warm smile and a gentle squeeze. Some of the tension melted away. 

“So, Rachel, I do think you might be the youngest hag I’ve ever met.”

Kurt raised his eyebrows at Blaine as if to say, “This is what I was talking about, see? He’s rude.” Blaine just patted his hand in what he hoped was a soothing gesture.

“Uh, excuse me?” Rachel asked.

“A hag is—” Sebastian started to explain but Rachel cut him off.

“Do not gaysplain the word ‘hag’ to me. And…well, I suppose present company does give credence to your theory.” Rachel gestured at the three gay boys she was currently sharing a plate of fries with. “In my defense, I was raised by gay men so of course I enjoy their company; it feels like being with family.”

“Aww,” cooed Kurt, throwing an arm around her shoulder and pulling her in for a side-hug. 

“Blaine!” His name carried over the hubbub from across the room. He turned around and was delighted to see Nick and David. Everyone is here! 

Blaine greeted them all with hugs, his enthusiasm escalating as the group of friends grew in size. 

“Well, now that everyone is here, who is ready for some music!” Nick asked energetically. 

Rachel shot her hand up remarkably fast. “I already have my first song picked out. I’m going to go sign up. I will, naturally, be singing the incomparable Ms. Barbra Streisand. Talk amongst yourselves to determine who is most suited to complement my vocals.”

Blaine chuckled at Kurt’s exaggerated eye roll. “Do you w-w-want me to go g-g-g-get those for you? Because I think your eyes rolled under that-that table in the far corner?”

“Such a dear,” Kurt said fondly. Blaine felt relieved that they were back to their usual banter. Maybe with the right song I can reassure Kurt that Sebastian isn’t a threat.

“Does she actually expect us to fight over who gets to sing with her?” David asked, hesitantly.

“Oh, that’s just Rachel being Rachel,” Kurt explained. Kurt! We’re supposed to be her wingmen. Blaine elbowed Kurt and gave him a significant look. “Which is to say…that Rachel has a charmingly dramatic personality. She really is outrageously talented. Which you’ll see in a few minutes.”

“I suppose she has some talent,” Sebastian said with a smirk, “but I think I could give her a run for her money. I’ll sing with polly pocket princess.”

The current performer finished up and then Rachel’s name was called. Together, Rachel and Sebastian performed a lovely duet of ‘People’ from ‘Funny Girl.’ Halfway through, Blaine had a spark of inspiration. He ran up to put their names on the list, making it back to their seats just in time to applaud as the song ended. Rachel ran over to preen under the praise of her friends, but Sebastian stopped to sign up on the list.

A few more acts went up before they called Blaine's name. He reached his hand out for Kurt. “C-c-come on, I want to s-s-sing this with you.”

Kurt smiled brightly. Finally, I’m doing something right. Kurt popped up from his seat, leaned over to give Blaine an unexpectedly passionate kiss before heading towards the stage. 

“Your boy’s a little heavy on the PDA tonight, Killer. You should tell him to tone it down. We’re not in Chicago anymore.”

Blaine looked around and then shrugged. “I don’t see anyone glaring. I think we’re fine.”

Once on stage, he grabbed the mic and twirled it in his hand before saying, “This song is for my guy .” 

Nothing you could say
Can tear me away from my guy
Nothing you could do
'Cause I'm stuck like glue to my guy

I'm stickin' to my guy
Like a stamp to a letter
Like the birds of a feather
We stick together
I'm tellin' you from the start
I can't be torn apart from my guy

Kurt was smiling brilliantly at him. Through an exchange of minute facial expressions, Blaine signaled that they would take the next stanza together.

Nothing you can do
Could make me untrue to my guy
Nothing you could buy
Could make me tell a lie to my guy

I gave my guy my word of honor
To be faithful and I'm gonna
You best be believing
I won't be deceiving my guy

As a matter of opinion I think he's tops
My opinion is he's the cream of the crop
As a matter of taste to be exact
He's my ideal as a matter of fact

No muscle bound man
Could take my hand from my guy
No handsome face
Could ever take the place of my guy
He may not be a movie star
But when it comes to being happy we are
There's not a man today
Who could take me away from my guy

Blaine grabbed Kurt’s hand and bowed while they received their applause. “Thank you,” Kurt leaned over and whispered in his ear. Blaine slung his arm over Kurt’s shoulders as they walked back to their table. “I m-m-meant every word.”

“Technically well sung but I would have thought the royal gays had something a little less basic up their sleeves,” Sebastian commented.

It’s not basic, it’s classic.

“Oh shush,” said Rachel. “It was very romantic!” Then a sad look fell over her face. “I used to sing romantic duets before I blew up my relationship.” She began to sniffle.

“Oh, no, Rachel don’t cry. You deserve someone who can keep up with you vocally and as much as I love my brother, Finn was never going to be that person.” Kurt reached out and rubbed her back soothingly.

“Wait, let me get this straight. Rachel used to date Goblin’s brother? Exactly how incestuous is this Glee Club of yours?” Sebastian sounded intrigued.

“There have been a lot of different romantic configurations within Glee Club, but Finn was dating Rachel before he became my stepbrother,” Kurt explained.

“Huh? So who did you used to date, Killer? Was it blondie over here with the fuckable lips?”

Kurt made a sudden choking sound and began to cough. Sam turned red and looked away.

“Uh, n-n-no Kurt’s my first boyfriend actually.”

“And just for the record, I’m straight,” added Sam.

Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “For now.”

Sam gulped.

Kurt let out a forced laugh, as if Sebastian was telling a hilarious joke. “Ahahaha, good one Sebastian. What a funny joke to lampshade the stereotypes about gay men being predatory. Hahaha.”

Sebastian seemed to study Kurt for a moment as if he were an object of intellectual curiosity. “And you say he’s your first boyfriend? Yeah, that seems about right. We all have to start somewhere.”

Blaine opened his mouth to object, but at that moment the announcer called out, “Sebastian Smythe. Brass in Pocket ."

“Oh, there’s my cue! Now this is how you sing a love song at karaoke, boys. Watch closely. Especially you, Killer.” Sebastian lifted Blaine’s chin with his fingertip.

“Do you see how he keeps putting me down, Blaine?” Kurt's just being paranoid.

“He’s probably n-n-never even had a b-boyfriend and he’s jealous of what we have. Come on, I want to-to-to-to hear him sing. I don’t think I-I know this song.”

“You really know how to make excuses for him. And I’m pretty sure you’ll recognize it once he starts singing. It’s just one of those songs no one remembers the name of.”

Got brass in pocket
Got bottle I'm gonna use it
Intention I feel inventive
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice

Oh, wait, it’s that song! Okay, yeah I do know that song.

Got motion restrained emotion
Been driving Detroit leaning
No reason just seems so pleasing

Sebastian really got into the lyrics, getting down on his knees and pretending to beg, then crawling lasciviously forwards.

Gonna make you, make you, make you notice
Gonna use my arms
Gonna use my legs
Gonna use my style
Gonna use my sidestep
Gonna use my fingers
Gonna use my, my, my imagination

'Cause I gonna make you see
There's nobody else here
No one like me
I'm special, so special
I gotta have some of your attention give it to me

“Is he pointing at you?” Kurt asked. “Oh my god, Blaine, he is seriously pointing at you. He’s singing the whole damn song to you.” He isn’t, is he? 

Got rhythm I can't miss a beat
Got new skank it's so reet
Got something I'm winking at you
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice

Sebastian sure did wink in his general direction. “Uh…m-m-maybe he’s j-just singing to the group, since we’re the ones he knows. Always helps to sing to a f-friendly face.” 

“Straws, meet grasping,” Kurt huffed. 

Gonna use my arms
Gonna use my legs
Gonna use my style
Gonna use my sidestep
Gonna use my fingers
Gonna use my, my, my imagination

'Cause I gonna make you see
There's nobody else here
No one like me
I'm special, so special
I gotta have some of your attention
Give it to me

 

It was getting harder and harder to convince himself that Kurt was just being paranoid.

Chapter Text

Kurt was nearly apoplectic by the time Sebastian finished his thinly veiled attempt at seducing his boyfriend. He glared darkly at the weasel-faced boy when he returned to their table, smirking cockily. 

“So,” he drawled, addressing the group but looking right at Blaine, “how did I do?”

Kurt’s jaw was clenched too tight to for a quick retort, but thankfully someone else piped up first. 

“Hmm, well the vocals were adequate, but you lost points on showmanship. The only way to sing The Pretenders at Karaoke is to lean in to the Scarlet Johansson of it all and wear a pink wig. As for emotional resonance, I was revolted rather than affected.” I could kiss you right now, Rachel Berry.

Sebastian’s smirk uncurled. “Revolted? How dare you?” he protested.

Rachel shrugged. “Perhaps your other friends are made of sterner stuff but I felt deeply uncomfortable watching you sing a song of seduction to a taken man, and in front of his boyfriend no less. Really, sir, how dare you?”

Kurt suppressed the desire to clap as Sebastian sputtered under Rachel’s penetrating stare. She might be tiny, but she had an intimidating gaze when she put her mind to it. Kurt had been on the receiving end enough times to know just how powerful it was.

Glancing over at Blaine, Kurt saw him watching the exchange with wide-eyes and a furrowed brow. Kurt found his hand under the table and was comforted when Blaine immediately interlaced their fingers and gave his hand a firm squeeze.

“Is that—was that-that-that what you were t-t-trying to do, Sebastian?” Blaine finally asked in disbelief.

“N-no!” Sebastian insisted. 

Rachel raised a skeptical eyebrow in response. 

“Ugh, fine! I mean come on, you’re too good for him, Blaine! Am I the only one that sees it? You and me, we’re Alpha gays. We float in whatever circles we want, accepted because we fit in. But him—he will never fit in, Blaine! He will always be on the fringes. Is that really what you want for yourself? Why would you choose him when you could have me?”

Kurt’s heart raced in anger and—much deeper down—the irrational fear, that maybe Sebastian was right.

“I-I-I-I—” Poor Blaine was so flustered he could barely get any words out. His hand gripped Kurt’s tightly, damp with sweat. Kurt rubbed his thumb soothingly over his knuckles, but otherwise he wasn’t sure what to do. Part of him wanted to hear Blaine stand up and defend their relationship, defend him. But he was clearly under so much stress that mostly Kurt just wanted to whisk him away somewhere safe and relaxing. He could probably think of some more children’s songs to sing him.

“See, he’s not even denying it!” Sebastian crowed, victoriously. 

Blaine’s hand squeezed his so hard that it was actually starting to become painful. Kurt could see Rachel, Sam, and Nick all ready to jump in to defend his boyfriend, but he beat them to it.

“How dare you!” he roared. “How dare you use his stuttering against him like that, you horrible slimy worm!” It was with surprise that Kurt realized he had leapt to his feet somewhere in the midst of his outburst, Blaine still clinging to his hand. “No one gets to take his words away from him like that, especially not you! He’s not speaking because you’ve put him in such a state of distress that he can’t. These are things I understand because I actually know Blaine, unlike you.”

Kurt finally stopped to catch his breath. He glanced over at Blaine to see his eyes shining brightly back at him, a little tearful but full of love. He leaned over to kiss Kurt on the cheek, and then he ran off to the other side of the club.

“Is he seriously signing up for karaoke right now?” Sam asked, bemused. “Like, in the middle of a fight?

“I think this is his way of speaking his mind right now,” Kurt explained. “Music is one of his best forms of expression. Just listen and you’ll know what he was trying to say.” The words were just as much for himself as they were for his friends.

And sure enough, when the Kurt heard the sultry opening notes of “ I Only Have Eyes For You ,” he knew that Blaine was speaking loud and clear.

My love must be a kind of blind love
I can't see anyone but you

Forgoing his usual over the top dancing, Blaine’s performance was simple. He clutched the microphone and swayed gently, his eyes never leaving Kurt’s. Rachel leaned over and whispered, “Oh my god, Kurt, this is the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen!” 

Are the stars out tonight
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
I only have eyes for you dear

The moon may be high
But I can't see a thing in the sky
I only have eyes for you

Kurt found himself blinking back tears as he watched Blaine’s heartfelt performance. It didn’t matter that Blaine hadn’t uttered a word to dispute Sebastian’s insulting claims; his song was the ultimate refutation. 

Until now, Kurt had been bewildered by Blaine’s utter lack of concern regarding Sebastian’s advances. Suddenly, here, listening to this song, it all finally made sense for Kurt. He could suddenly see things the way Blaine saw them, and in Blaine’s world other men throwing themselves at him barely even registered. Fireworks went off in his chest as he realized just how strong Blaine’s feelings were.

You are here
And so am I

Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you

By the time the song ended, the feeling was more than mutual. Later, Kurt would wonder how Sebastian had reacted to Blaine’s musical declaration of devotion, but he would find that he hadn’t the faintest idea because in that moment he only had eyes for Blaine. 

Breathless and misty-eyed, Kurt found his way into Blaine’s arms. He tucked his face into Blaine’s shoulder and clung to him, whispering in his ear, “I’m sorry for being jealous. I was being stupid. I love you so much, Blaine. So much.”

Blaine said nothing, but rubbed soothing circles into the back of Kurt’s neck, his other arm wrapped tightly around his waist. Kurt was surrounded by love and it was the safest most perfect place to be in the world. 

“Hey, Dad?”

“What’s up, kiddo?” 

Kurt sank into the couch across from his dad, unsure how to start.

“There’s something I need to tell you.”

His dad’s brow furrowed but otherwise he remained calm.

“Okay, I’m listening.” He leaned forward, giving Kurt his full attention.

“I had...well I don’t really know for sure, but...I maybe had a panic attack. In, um, in Chicago.”

“You’re going to have to explain what that means, kiddo.”

“Oh, right, sure. I mean, I don’t exactly know myself but I guess it’s when you like have a big freak-out or something, like you feel...well, panic. One of our friends, uh, Sam thought that’s what it was. It just, well, it felt like I couldn’t breathe or something. I thought I was going to pass out, but I didn’t.” 

Embarrassingly, his eyes began to sting with tears. This is ridiculous. It wasn’t even that bad. I just...I hated feeling so out of control. He took a few deep breaths, wiping his cheeks as subtly as possible. Not subtle enough, though.

“Hey, Kurt, this really scared you, huh?”

He nodded, feeling very small. He gratefully allowed himself to be wrapped up in the flannel clad arms of his father, warm and comforting as always. 

“Okay, well, do you know what we’re supposed to do about this? Like, should I call the pediatrician, or…?”

Kurt shrugged. “I’m not really sure, Dad. I guess she might be able to tell us who we should be calling, so it’s probably a good first step. It might be a, uh, a...therapist, though, that they want me to see. Is that...I mean, what do you think about that?” Kurt was suddenly unsure of how his dad would react to his son needing therapy.

His dad took off his hat and crushed the bill between his hands. “Kurt, son, I think that we should do whatever you need to be healthy and happy. You know, I saw a grief counselor for a while after we lost your mother. Really helped me cope with...everything.”

“I didn’t know that, actually. You did?”

“Yeah, kiddo, I did. I thought about taking you with me, actually, but...I dunno. I asked your teacher and she thought you were handling things okay. Maybe I made the wrong call.”

“I had you. That was enough.”

Kurt sat down across from Ms. Pillsbury in the guidance counselor’s office. 

“It’s lovely to see you again, Kurt. I’m so glad that your dad called to set this appointment up for us. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?”

“I, um, I think I—I’m pretty sure that I hyperventilated. And I was wondering if...if it was a panic attack.”

Kurt’s heart pounded furiously as he described in detail what had happened. The woozy, light-headed feeling, the sensation of drowning, and the strange tingling numbness in his fingers and lips.

“It does sound like a panic attack, Kurt. They can be quite frightening, but I do have some techniques I can try to teach you. If that isn’t enough, you’ll have to talk with your doctor about getting medication you can take if it happens again.”

“Medication?”

“Yes, anti-anxiety medication. Ativan, Xanax, something like that.”

I think I’m going to need one of those by the end of this conversation.

“So, apparently now I’m supposed to keep a paper bag in my backpack in case I have a panic attack at school!” Kurt complained at lunchtime. “A paper bag! It’s the twenty-first century but the best that medical science has to offer is the same technology you bring your lunch to school in every day?” He gestured wildly toward Blaine’s half-eaten sandwich, like it had personally offended him.

“D-d-d-does it work?” Blaine asked patiently.

“Supposedly. Something about blood pH levels and rebreathing. Apparently, when you hyperventilate you actually have too much oxygen . How ironic is that? I feel like I can’t breathe because I have too much oxygen! So the bag makes me like have more carbon dioxide, I guess? To even things out.”

“Did she sssay anything else?” 

“We practiced some controlled breathing and she wants me to see her every two weeks for a while, so we can talk about my stress levels or something.” Kurt shrugged. It was hard to know if any of this was going to help but if felt good to be doing something concrete.

“If you e-e-ever want to meditate with me, let me know,” Blaine offered.

“You meditate?”

“Sometimes. Not as m-m-much these days, but...it hhhhelps me relax when I’m h-h-having a bad speech day. I am also —practiced in the art of controlled breathing exercises, you know, if you ever want to practice or anything.”

“Hmm...I’d rather practice getting your breathing uncontrolled, if it’s all the same to you,” Kurt flirted, smirking at Blaine’s expression of surprise and then desire.

“Oh y-y-yeah that wwwould also be fine.”

“Did I tell you that Cooper was thinking of coming into town for your birthday, Blaine?” asked Mrs. Anderson as she expertly disassembled and served a roast chicken.

Blaine perked up. “No, you d-didn’t. That’s cool. Did he say for-for how long?”

“Oh, you know your brother. He’ll probably change his mind half a dozen times and then it will be a coin toss whether or not he cancels at the last minute because an unmissable audition opportunity appeared. I’ll try to persuade him to stay for at least a few days. White meat or dark, Kurt?”

“White, please. Thank you, Mrs. Anderson.”

Kurt’s mouth watered as he surveyed his plate. As much as he loved cooking, it was nice to enjoy a meal someone else had prepared for a change. I should ask Jasmine how she gets the skin so crispy.

Blaine’s dad seemed distracted; he kept glancing over his shoulder.

“What’s got your goat?” Mrs. Anderson finally asked him in a light, teasing tone.

Mr. Anderson grunted, glancing yet again over his shoulder. “For crying out loud, again?” he muttered, perhaps only to himself. Abruptly, he pushed back his seat and stood up from the table.

“Patrick?” Mrs. Anderson looked slightly scandalized by his odd behavior but he did not respond. Patrick Anderson marched out of the dining room and Kurt could faintly hear the lock turning on the front door.

“Where is he going?” Kurt whispered to Blaine but Blaine just shrugged.

“I haven’t the f-foggiest.”

Mrs. Anderson huffed and then stood up as well. Kurt wondered if she was going to follow him, but instead she pressed her face against the window, peering out into the darkness.

“Oh for the love of...really, this has gotten out of hand, the man is obsessed.”

Kurt and Blaine exchanged confused looks.

A minute later, Kurt heard the front door open. Their curiosity outweighing their manners, Kurt, Blaine, and Mrs. Anderson all abandoned their uneaten dinner to investigate just how far off the deep end Blaine’s dad had gone.

They rounded the corner and Kurt’s jaw dropped in surprise. Mr. Anderson was not alone. He had dragged someone in—seemingly against their will—by the scruff of their shirt collar.

“Blaine Devon Anderson. Do you know this person?”

Eyes wide as dinner plates, Blaine gulped and nodded.

Chapter Text

Previously on “Love Yourself” :

They rounded the corner and Kurt’s jaw dropped in surprise. Mr. Anderson was not alone. He had dragged someone in—seemingly against their will—by the scruff of their shirt collar.

“Blaine Devon Anderson. Do you know this person?”

Eyes wide as dinner plates, Blaine gulped and nodded.

~~~~~

Blaine is 15 years old 

*knock knock*

The hospital door creaked open slowly. “Blaine?” a hesitant voice called out from behind the door. 

“—Nick?” Please be okay, please be okay.

The door opened the rest of the way and Blaine let out a sigh of relief when he saw that it was, indeed, Nick. His lips were pressed together into a tight line of worry, his face was pale and bruised, but he looked to be in one piece.

His parents hadn’t had any information about Nick’s well-being yesterday when Blaine had asked. They had been, understandably, more focused on the state of their own son’s health.

Hesitantly, Nick approached the bed. Blaine gestured to the chair, an invitation for his friend to sit down. He pushed the button to elevate the head of his hospital bed and winced when the movement disturbed his injured ribs.

“You look like shit, Blaine. No offense.”

“Well I ffffeel like shit. How, uh, uh, are you? Did they—I mean—what even—what ha-happend after I blacked out? They didn’t get you... t-too bad, did they?”

“Nah, the girls Volleyball team passed by close enough to notice something was going on. They shouted over and must’ve spooked them; they ran off pretty soon after you went down. I called for help and they called 9-1-1. I’m getting discharged in a few hours, I think. Nothing broken, thankfully. What’s your damage?”

Blaine chuckled, thinking of ‘Heathers,’ and then winced as another sharp pain lit up his side.

“Br-br-br-broken ribs, lacerated ffface, plenty of bruises, and —probably a concussion.”

Nick’s eyes widened at the list of injuries and he reached out to take Blaine’s hand, giving it a comforting squeeze and fumbled through his expression of appreciation. 

“Shit, that’s…wow, man. I…fuck…I got off so much easier. You…you really saved my ass out there. You defended me and…well, just…just thank you, man.”

Blaine felt awkward and unsure what to say. He didn’t feel like he had done anything praiseworthy. Of course he hadn’t stood by and watched his friend get attacked. It was what anyone would have done.

“I’m, uh, uh, uh, I’m just glad…that you’re…okay.”

The door to the hospital room swung open again and Blaine’s father strode in, looking purposeful.

“Oh, uh, hello there, Nicholas.” He seemed surprised by Nick’s presence but quickly covered with politeness. His father’s eyes flicked down to their joined hands and Blaine reflexively pulled his hand away from Nick, blushing with discomfort. 

He continued. “I suppose it’s good you’re here, actually. There’s a detective outside asking to interview you boys about what happened. Nick, you’ll need your parents permission to be interviewed but I hope you decide to speak with them. Just tell them everything you remember, no detail is too small to leave out. It sounds like the district attorney has already taken an interest in the case so there’s a good chance he’ll want to prosecute the culprits.

“Oh…I guess I should talk to my mom about it. But honestly, Mr. Anderson, I just want to go home. I don’t want to talk to the police. I just want to forget this whole thing happened and move on.”

“But it’s your civic duty, Nicholas! Do you want blood on your hands if whoever did this strikes again? How will you feel knowing that you could have prevented it?” His father’s dark eyes flashed intensely and he didn’t seem to notice Nick’s growing unease.

“Dad! E-e-enough.”

“I should…go,” Nick said softly. Then he shot out the door.

“Dad,” Blaine groaned. “Way to scare him!”

“He should be scared. It was a very scary thing that happened. He needs to understand how serious it was.”

“He was there. I...really think he d-d-does.”

“Are you up for talking to the detective now or should I ask him to come back later?”

Blaine couldn’t help but notice that he was not being presented with the option of not speaking to the police at all. Might as well get this over with

“Now’s f-fine.”

His father left the room and returned a few minutes later with a detective. He shook Blaine’s hand and then went straight to business asking Blaine to describe in detail what had happened. 

Blaine tried his best, but his memories felt wobbly and the more he concentrated on certain details the more they seemed to slip further into darkness. As he talked, he felt more and more nervous about whether he was describing things accurately and completely. 

The detective looked disappointed when he explained that he didn’t know who they were, that he couldn’t even describe his attacker’s face to a sketch artist. His fluency was in the toilet and Blaine felt like surely there must be something else he could tell them, some clue he didn’t realize was important. That was always how it worked on TV. So he pushed himself to keep going, to answer every question they posed.

“Did you hear their voices? Could you tell if they were male or female? Old or young?”

“Oh, um…yyyyes I —did hear one. He…I-I-I-I-I-I think it was a he anyways, well he, uh, uh, yeah he sssaid some ru-ru-rude things. I think it was —probably another st-student but I g-guess I can’t —be sure.”

The detective frowned slightly and scratched a few more lines into his notepad.

“Now, Blaine, the district attorney is hoping that this case could be tried as a hate crime. So I need to ask you some questions specifically relevant to that.”

Blaine nodded, his heart racing at this point.

“So, just for the record, you’re gay, right?”

He nodded again.

“And the other boy?”

Nod.

“Can you be sure the perpetrators were aware of your sexuality?” he asked in a matter of fact tone.

Nod. “We, uh, uh, well, um, were, uh, you know…ki-ki-kissing. Ju-just before. So…yeah, they knew.”

“Kissing?” his father yelped. This is really not how I was planning on dropping that particular bomb.

“Right, yes, that would seem to be pretty clear-cut. Was there anything else they did or said that would prove the attack was motivated by homophobic sentiments?”

Nod. “He, uh, uh, well, he ssaid I was dis-dis-disgusting.” His father made a strange, strangled sound. “That’s, uh, well, that’s —it.” Blaine shrugged, not sure if that was specific enough.

“Hmmm,” was all the detective said, his frown deepening. Blaine was overcome with the feeling that he had failed.

“I’m s-s-s-sorry, sir. I, uh, I…I’m st-stilll recover-r-r-ring. Maybe…maybe I’ll rememb-b-ber more later.”

“Perhaps,” he said, his tone making it clear that he thought that outcome was unlikely. “Let’s hope the other boy remembers more.” 

The detective left and Blaine could not meet his father’s eyes. 

~~~~~~

Blaine’s heart pounded in his chest so loudly that surely Kurt and his parents could hear every frantic beat.

“Well?” his father demanded.

Shit, shit, shit.

“That’s, um, um, that’s—well, he’s, uh, uh…”

“Spit it out, Blaine.”

Anger flooded his stomach and for a moment he glared in silent fury at his father. How dare he say that to me? He glanced over at Kurt, who had let out a small gasp in response to his father’s taboo words; Kurt somehow managed to look even paler than usual.

“As I was ssssaying ….that is-is-is Rick. The, uh, the—well, the boy who-who-who-who-who beat me and Nick up llllast year.”

Oh, god, he’s going to be so mad.

“The boy who—are you telling me—Blaine you knew ? You said you couldn’t remember! What the hell is going on?” The situation was having the opposite effect on his father than it was on Kurt; while Kurt was ghost-white his father’s face was beginning to resemble a boiled lobster.

Rick was a large, hulking teenage boy but even he was shrinking in the face of Mr. Anderson’s fiery gaze.

“Can I…go?” he asked hesitantly.

His father rounded on Rick. “No you may not go you bottom-feeding miscreant. Not until you tell me why you have been stalking my house for weeks.” 

“What? No, that’s not—I haven’t been.” Rick stumbled over his words as he denied his father’s accusations.

Blaine was still speechless with shock. He glanced from Rick to his father to Kurt.

Kurt finally started to get his color back. He gaped and then pointed at Rick. “You…you were at my house! And at my school! You…you followed us around? I don’t even know you, you psycho-stalker!”

“...just making sure…” was all Blaine could make out as Rick  muttered under his breath, hands nervously rubbing his ill-fitting jeans.

“Just making sure of what ?” his father demanded. “Making sure you’d beaten the gay out of him? Because guess what, you didn’t.” Blaine watched in horror as the pieces clicked into place in his father’s head. “Oh! I see! Yes, of course, I see. You had to make sure he wasn’t going to make trouble for you.” His father paced back and forth, a glint in his eye of delight and perhaps a dash of mania; it was a look Blaine had seen on his face when he had a witness right where he wanted them on cross-examination.

Rick looked like a cornered alley-cat. “I was just k-keeping an eye on things, just—but whatever, I’ll stop, okay? No more drive-bys, okay, you have my word...scout’s honor? So, uh, I think that’s settled so I’ll just…”

His dad crossed his arms and laughed smugly. “Oh, you idiot. For some moronic reason I have yet to uncover, my son was going to let this all go without even telling me. But thanks to your paranoia, his criminal prosecutor of a father knows about you and there is no force in heaven or hell that will stop me from slapping you with anything that will stick. Now GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

Rick didn’t need to be told twice.

What followed had to have been one of the most uncomfortable dinners ever to occur under that roof. After several tense minutes of silence, his father finally broke the silence.

“Why wouldn’t you tell me something like this, Blaine? I just…I don’t understand you at all right now.”

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time you didn't understand me Mister “Oh, we’ll rebuild this car together, Blaine. It will be so fun, Blaine. This has nothing at all to do with butching you up, Blaine.”

“Be-be-be-because I just—I just wanted to move on, Dad. And…I mean, —clearly you were never g-going to let me do that.”

“Because it’s absurd. How can you move on without justice, Blaine? Kurt, can’t you talk some sense into him? Don’t you want that awful boy to be punished?”

“All due respect, Mr. Anderson, but please don’t drag me into the middle of this,” Kurt pleaded. Learned his lesson from Finn and Rachel, I see.

If he hadn’t been so angry, Blaine might have found it sweet how his father was looking to Kurt for backup. 

Kurt began eating his chicken with renewed enthusiasm and Blaine began to wonder if Kurt was going to bolt as soon as his plate was clear. He couldn’t really blame him. He would bolt too if it was an option. Maybe I can convince Kurt to take me with him.

“—Trials take f-f-forever, Dad. I would have to re-re-relive everything and-and t-t-testify…I mean, do I really have to spell this ou-ou-out for you?” 

“I really think you do, Blaine.”

“Fine! Talking is-is-is hard enough on a good day for me, Dad. —Picture what would ha-happen under interro-erro-errogation! I’d-I’d-I’d fall to-to pieces, Dad. It wwwould be awful! Be-be-besides, I don’t remember him anyways. If you want to help Nick pr-pr-press charges, be my—be my guest but leave me out of it.”

“Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, son. I thought I taught you better than that.”

Blaine felt a mixture of shame and rage. His fingernails bit into the palms of his hands, his teeth clenched tight.

“Hard? Try im-im-im-impossible, Dad! You d-d-don’t know what it’s like for me, Dad, so don’t llllecture like you do.” Wiping away a tear, Blaine pushed his chair back roughly. 

His mother winced as the chair legs screeched against the floor, but she said nothing. 

“Kurt and I are going up-up-upstairs right now,” Blaine boldly declared, not bothering to phrase it as a question. Kurt wordlessly followed closely behind him.

“Am I b-b-b-being selfish?” he asked Kurt, breaking the silence.

“I think you’re allowed to take care of yourself, Blaine. You’re allowed to prioritize your own well-being. A trial would be long, you would have to engage with these painful memories for as long as it drags on instead of moving on, it would be a really challenging speaking situation, and in the end Rick might still walk free.”

“That was a-a-a good summary. Why —can’t my dad sssee things the way you do?”

“Do you want the thoughtful answer or the good-boyfriend-who-is-blindly-taking-your-side answer? I’m happy to provide either at this point.”

That managed to get a chuckle from Blaine.

“I would have sssaid the-the-the thoughtful one, —but now I’m—now I’m—now I’m c-c-curious what the other one is.”

“Oh, that’s easy! Because he’s an asshole who doesn’t understand you. Next question?”

“And the, uh, uh, the-the-the thoughtful one?”

Kurt sighed. “I don’t know exactly, of course, but my guess is it has something to do with the fact that as your parent he considers your safety to be one of his top priorities, especially after your stay in the hospital last year. He thinks this will keep you safe and he’s unwilling to consider that the potential downsides could possibly outweigh the benefits of keeping you safe.”

Blaine stared at him, impressed.

“I…I l-liked the-the-the first answer —better,” Blaine admitted.

“Then we’ll go with that one.”

Blaine flopped back on to the bed. He looked exhausted. Suddenly shy, Blaine asked, “Will you, um, um, sssing to me?”

“Of, course.”

Kurt plumped Blaine’s pillow and encouraged him to get comfortable. Then he took one of Blaine’s hands in his and rubbed firmly into the palm of his hand, while he sang

There's nothing more I like to do
Than sit for hours next to you
Hold your hand, sing a song
Just be lovin'
All day long

These are the times we love
The wind on the water
The sun in my eyes
Like an old familiar friend
I watch the clouds roll by
Slip over my shoulder
I let go of my life
And come alive again

When I feel my life unravel
I'm scattered at loose ends
I just need to take a moment
To find myself again

Chapter Text

“What’s wrong with him?” Santana asked, gesturing towards Blaine. “Did someone steal the hobbit’s ring or something?”

Kurt rolled his eyes. 

Santana did have a point. Blaine had been uncharacteristically withdrawn in Glee club that week. Apparently, he hadn’t spoken to his father since that fateful evening when he had dragged Rick by the shirt collar into their house and in doing so dragged Blaine’s secret out into the light. 

“He’s got a lot on his mind,” Kurt explained vaguely. 

Santana frowned and bit her lip. “Well, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

“I—” Kurt blinked in surprise. “Th-thank you.”

“Oh you don’t have to look so shocked. I am capable of being a decent human being, you know, when I feel like it. And sue me, but I’ve grown rather fond of Curly Joe.”

Kurt strode across the choir room floor and settled himself in the chair next to his boyfriend. He reached out tentatively to take his hand, not sure if Blaine wanted comfort or space right now (it had been sort of a coin toss the past few days). His cool, soft skin felt soothing as it slipped under his fingers. Blaine squeezed his hand but his smile didn’t reach his eyes.

“Hey, honey, how was Speech today?”

Blaine shrugged, not meeting Kurt's eyes. “—Hard, I-I-I guess, um…my sp-sp-speech has been shit this we-e-e-ek so…well…it was m-m-mostly —pos—positive self-t-t-talk.” 

Poor guy.

“I hope it helped. I, um, we don’t have to talk about this now but I have, well, been wondering something.”

Blaine met his eyes and managed a half smile. Kurt took that as the signal to proceed.

He rubbed his hands together nervously. Blaine had been in a rather fragile state the past few days and Kurt was having mixed success steering through the emotional minefield strewn around his boyfriend at present.

“It's just, well…it’s Nick.”

Blaine’s eyebrows rose and his lips pursed together into a silent, “oh.”

“Have you told him? About the…the car? That he was—you know—stalking you guys?”

Blaine’s lips were pressed together in a thin line and he rubbed the back of his neck; a habit Kurt had noticed Blaine only did when he didn't want to talk about something. The rest of Kurt's thoughts came out in a horrible rush of word vomit that expanded to fill too much silence.

“It's just…I can understand why you wouldn’t want to but I just think that he really deserves to know, you know, because, like, it affects him too. I mean, it happened to both of you after all and for all we know Rick was following him around too and…”

“—St-st-stop!” Blaine finally burst in with. “I know all that, o-o-okay? I just...I will…when I’m, uh, uh, uh, when I'm r-r-ready.” Blaine let out a huff and crossed his arms over his chest. 

Kurt felt his cheeks burning pink with embarrassment. I pushed too far. God, people need to cut me off sooner when I start to ramble like that. 

Looking over at Blaine he thought to himself, But how long until he is ready? Kurt didn't want to outright interfere, but he figured reaching out to Nick to chat was well within his rights. They were kind of friends now.

Kurt: How are things at Dalton Young Republican’s Club?

Nick: Lame. What’s new in Lima?

Shit, now I have to either lie or tell him when it’s not my place. 

Kurt: Things have been busy. So when are we all doing karaoke again?

Nick: I was worried Sebastian would have put you off karaoke for life. 

Kurt: I’m made of sterner stuff than that. Besides, I refuse to let that ferret-faced idiot ruin something as fun as karaoke for me.

Nick: I probably won’t have time for karaoke but my parents have been bugging me to come down for the weekend. I put my name down for this weekend actually but they still haven't approved it yet. I’ll let you guys know if I make it out! We should get the whole Scooby gang together!

Kurt: Excellent. 

Kurt: You know you’re Shaggy, right?

Nick: *sigh* Yeah.

Kurt was relieved to hear that Nick’s pass had been approved at the last minute. Now he just needed to convince Blaine to talk to him when they were together. 

“So, I, uh, uh…I finally talked to my, um, um, my d-d-dad,” Blaine announced. They were sprawled out on the couch at Kurt’s house after Friday night family dinner. Finn, Blaine, and his dad had all been watching a football game or a basketball game or something else boring. It was just the two of them now but the game was still on so Blaine could see the end. Kurt had settled himself comfortably with his head cradled in Blaine’s lap and his nose buried in the latest edition of Vogue . With his magazine and Blaine’s fingers working their way through his hair, it made football—or was it basketball—almost tolerable. 

Kurt placed the open magazine on his chest and looked up at Blaine; he was biting his lip nervously.

“How did it go?”

“He still, um, wants me to, um, t-t-testify but I guess he-he-he listened a bit more this time to-to-to-to me, so that was…something. I hate t-t-talking to him when he’s heated so it was—it was better this time…he was c-c-calmer.”

“I’m glad you guys talked it out a bit more. Are you considering it?”

“I just—it’s a…it’s a lot to-to-to think about. I st-st-still don’t want to, but-but-but maybe that’s selfish. Maybe my dad…was right…and I should…face the-the hard stuff. I…I do want to be—to be b-b-brave but maybe I’m…maybe I’m just not as —brave as I—as I want to be. Sara Bareilles would be…ashamed.”

“Hey,” Kurt said softly, finding Blaine’s hand and giving it a squeeze. “You’re the bravest person I know, okay? This isn't just about being brave. It’s about making the right decision for you.”

Blaine stroked his hair thoughtfully for a while; Kurt could practically see the gears turning in his head.

“K-Kurt?”

“Yeah, babe?”

“You’ve been…awfully, um, q-quiet about this whole thing.”

“I’m trying to be a good listener.”

Kurt caught a smile out of the corner of his eye; most of his attention was on looking for the highway exit. 

“You are, b-b-but you’re also—you’re the—you’re one of the most opinion-n-nated people I know. So how is it that you —don’t have an opinion about this?”

Kurt paused for a moment, choosing his words carefully. “I never said I didn’t have an opinion. But you haven’t asked for my opinion and I…” he trailed off, not sure exactly why he hadn’t spoken up. He just kept remembering Blaine’s face when he had argued with his father over the dinner table. “I, um, I guess it seemed like you had enough people telling you what to do and I…I didn’t want to pile on.”

“Oh…well that’s…wow, it’s j-j-just…have I m-mentioned that I love you r-recently?”

“Not since I let you have my fries and that was over an hour ago so it’s really anyone’s guess when the withdrawal symptoms were going to start kicking in. That was a close one.”

“You’re ri-ri-ridiculous! But…well, now I’m, um, I’m asking. What do-do-do-do you think I should do?”

“Honestly, my motivations are no less ‘selfish’ than yours. I just want you to do whatever will keep you safe and happy. If you think testifying will do that, then you should testify. If not testifying will do that, then don’t.”

“And you think?”

“I think your attacker was stalking you, which is seriously creepy. I thought he had moved on but now…now it doesn’t really seem like it. I…agh, I really really don’t want you to do anything because I said so. I really do want you to do whatever feels right for you and I’m…I’m not you, so what’s right for me might not be what’s right for you…” stop rambling! “…but I guess if you’re asking what I would do in your position, I would probably testify. I would want justice.”

Kurt realized he was holding his breath and he exhaled suddenly. He rolled his shoulders back, trying to loosen the muscles. Why is this so nerve-racking? He asked for my opinion!

Blaine let Kurt’s words sink in for a few long moments and then all he said was, “Thank you for telling me.”

I hope that was the right thing to say. Maybe I should have lied? Or refused to answer the question. What if he testifies because of what I said and then something happens? Then it really will be my fault. Oh no, oh no.

“—Kurt? Honey, are you alright? You sound out of breath?”

Blaine’s question pulled him out of his spiraling thoughts.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m…fine. Um…what’s the score anyways?”

Blaine gave him a strange look as if to say, “Since when do you care?” but all he said was, “Fifteen to twelve.”

After wandering around the Lima Mall for a couple of hours, the “Scooby gang” was starting to lose steam. They collapsed in a heap on a pair of benches to consider their options.

“May I volunteer my house as a rally point? The parents are not expected to be home at this hour and they recently upgraded the speakers so we can watch movies in crisp surround sound.” 

Kurt didn’t quite get Wesley. Who talks like that? But he seemed to have a good heart and that was enough for Kurt. That and Blaine loved him. And Kurt loved Blaine.

Wesley’s house was…interesting. The living room was decked out in an eclectic mix of furniture styles. There were carved wooden statues on the fireplace mantle and several painted African masks hanging on the wall. This is an insane number of bookshelves . This was the room of someone who was perpetually running out of shelf space and acquiring new bookcases to house an ever-expanding collection.

“What do your parents…do exactly?”

Kurt briefly worried that his question had been impolite but Wesley gave him a relaxed smile and a chuckle. "The parental units are both professors of Anthropology. They have to teach during the week so weekends are the only time they can visit excavation sites for their research. I’m very independent so they’ve trusted me to be here on my own since I was nine.”

There was a pause in the conversation and Kurt made meaningful eye contact with Blaine. This is your opportunity!

Before Blaine had a chance to broach the subject, something else happened.

Elaine asked Nick about school and before Kurt knew what was happening Nick was curling into himself like a pillbug, not saying anything.

Voice filled with concern, Wesley sat atop the glass coffee table across from Nick and put one hand on his shoulder, looking into his eyes. “Nicholas Nickelby, what has happened to cause you such sadness?” 

“I don’t want to go back,” Nick whispered. “Can I just stay here, Wes?” he pleaded. Elaine’s eyes turned soft with concern and she took Nick’s hand. 

“Now we will engage in the ritual of the group hug,” Wesley declared. Nick rolled his eyes but he did not rebuff them when they all wrapped their arms around him. Kurt noticed Nick wiping away a tear when he drew back. Blaine is lucky to have such supportive friends. We both are.

“What’s been going on?” Elaine asked, her voice gentle but insistent.

“I thought things were st-st-starting to get better,” Blaine added. “Did David, uh, uh, uh not turn out to be—to be a good roommate?”

“N-No, it’s not David. He’s been great. But…he can’t stop them.”

“Who?”

“I don’t know! That’s the problem. it wasn’t so bad before I just…I thought maybe someone was sneaking into my room but it was little things. My stuff wasn’t where I thought I left it…but I could dismiss that as paranoia. But now…well, I keep finding these messages, all over the place. They’re a lot harder to dismiss.”

“Messages? Like notes? What kind of messages? What do they say, Nick?” Kurt asked, filled with worry.

Nick reached into his school-bag and pulled out several sheets of paper. His hand shook slightly, as he passed it to Wesley, who read them aloud.

Go home, Lima Loser.

Stay out of the locker rooms.

Everyone knows.

No fairies allowed.

“Where did you find these?” Kurt demanded angrily.

“That last one was, um, it was in my backpack last week. That’s the part that really bothered me, you know, that they got it in there somehow. Did they break into our room? I don’t think I left it lying around anywhere.”

Kurt glanced over at Blaine, who looked about ready to blow. His hands were clenched so tightly that Kurt wondered if he might draw blood. 

“Is it th-th-that shithead, Yates?” Blaine asked furiously.

“Maybe. I told you, I don’t know.” Nick shrugged helplessly.

Elaine reached out and slowly pried Blaines fingers up from where they were digging into the palms of his hands with the ease of someone who had years of experience. Blaine gave her a grateful smile.

“Please t-t-t-tell me you showed this to your —principal,” Blaine pleaded.

Nick let out a dry chuckle. “Our headmaster, you mean? Yeah, I showed him. But there’s nothing he can do without knowing who did it. I thought I would be safe there, you know? I guess I still am, but…I don’t feel safe.”

“So why not come back?” Elaine asked.

Nick sighed with resignation. “At this point, I would come back in a heartbeat but I don’t think my parents would go for it. Not with him still out there.”

Kurt gave Blaine a meaningful glance. It’s time.

Blaine cleared his throat. Kurt took his hand, letting him draw strength from their connection.

“I—uh—sp-sp-speaking of him ...s-s-s-something ha-happened this week.  I just—there was this car and... well, he…it turns out—we learned that, um, he has sort of been…around.”

“Around?” asked Nick, confused.

“Like-like-like at my—like hanging around out-out-outside my house and…and at school and even, once, at-at-at Kurt’s house.”

“What?!” Nick yelped. “Oh my god, oh my god, what? What the actual fuck? He’s been—so he’s just been stalking you? Oh my god, Blaine what if he had done something? What if he’s here right now?”

“No, my, uh, uh, ffffather caught him…lurking outside-outside our house and, uh, uh I haven’t seen Rick sssince. I think Dad put the fffear of God into him or ssssomething.”

“Classic Mr. Anderson,” Wesley said with a slight chuckle.

“Hang on, Wes.” Kurt could see the gears turning in Elaine’s head; her eyes slowly expanding to the size of dinner plates as she processed Nick’s words. “Did you just say Rick ? What on earth is going on?” 

“Yeah, he’s the…oh, wait I guess I never told you.” Nick ran a hand through his hair and looked uncomfortable.

“Never told me what ?” Elaine asked through gritted teeth. 

“That, uh, that Rick is the one who attacked Blaine and I last year. I, uh, I…I lied about it. I was scared! And Blaine’s forgiven me so could you please do me a favor and just let this one go and not give me crap about it? I don't think I can take it, not right now.” 

Elaine glanced at the pile of hateful notes, still sitting on the floor next to Nick and quietly responded, “Of course.”

“That information is…revelatory, to say the least.” Wesley squinted at them and then continued, “In light of this recent development, we have something we need to tell you.” 

Kurt, Blaine, and Nick looked to Elaine and Wesley expectantly. 

“How is there still more bad news?” Nick asked morosely.

Elaine explained nervously. “Okay, so…something, um, happened at Bath High a few days ago but I only heard the full story yesterday. Or…at least it’s what people are saying happened. Anyways, um, the girls volleyball team found this poor freshman boy in the girls’ locker room after practice the other day. He had two broken ribs and…Blaine he…he…I can’t say it but they wrote something on-on-on his face…it was…and they said it was some football jocks who did it and…”

Girls locker room. A word she doesn’t want to say. Something clicked in Kurt’s brain and he jumped in, hoping he was wrong. “He’s gay, isn’t he? The freshman boy who got beat up?”

“Y-yeah, Kurt, he is. I don’t think he was really out but…well, I guess someone figured it out and…I wish this wasn’t true but, well, everyone’s saying it was him. They’re saying it was Rick.”

Nick clutched his stomach as if he might be sick. “Fuck…fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Blaine was up on his feet, pacing furiously across the room, muttering something too quickly and quietly for Kurt to interpret. Blaine walked over to an armchair and, without warning, slammed his fist into the cushions. 

“Keep it together, Anderson," warned Wesley. 

“What’s his name? The kid?” Kurt asked, his brain flipping into action mode.

“Trent,” Elaine said, just above a whisper. “He just joined the drama club and he’s really sweet. He has this adorably round baby-face, he looks even younger than a freshman.”

“Is he—is he still in the hospital?” Kurt asked.

“Y-yeah, I think so. Lima Memorial, I’m pretty sure.”

“That horrible excuse for a human being,” Nick spat out furiously.

“This is—is-is-is all my fault ,” Blaine declared morosely.

“No, Blaine, it’s my fault! I’m the one who lied in the first place.”

“But-but-but my dad—my dad t-t-told me to go to the—to the police just days before Trent was hurt. If I had—if only I-I-I had just fucking listened to him I-I-I could have—could have prevented this. He knew something like this would ha-ha-happen! He knew it! He t-t-told me I was b-b-being selfish and he was right . My fu-fucking dad was right!”

Kurt fumbled desperately for the right words. “You couldn’t have known this would happen, Blaine.”

Through gritted teeth, Blaine rebuffed his meager attempt at reassurance. “I —couldn’t have known that a-a-a-a violent homophobe loose on the—on the—on the streets would-would c-c-continue to c-c-c—to be violent? Really, Kurt? Are you ssssure I c-couldn’t possibly have known that? Be-be-because it all seems a lit-lit-little p-painfully obvious at the—at the moment.”

Blaine’s words felt like a slap in the face and Kurt was struck speechless. He crossed his arms protectively across the front of his body and looked away. I said the wrong thing. Of course, I said the wrong thing. I always say the wrong thing. His heart beat furiously in his chest.

“Hey, man, don’t take it out on Kurt. None of this is his fault and he’s just trying to make you feel better.”

“I d-d-d-don’t deserve to feel better.” Blaine’s voice was barely above a whisper. Kurt felt himself soften immediately at those words. Oh, Blaine.

“Woah, Blaine, lighten up man. You can’t be so hard on yourself; it’s not healthy. Look, we made a mistake; we made a mistake, both of us. So we can sit around feeling sorry for ourselves or we can do something to try to make it right. Which would you rather do?”

Kurt regarded Nick with a new level of respect. Those were the right words. 

“So what do we-we-we do first?”

Kurt’s whole body hummed with nervous energy. Blaine—tolerant as ever—didn’t make a peep about Kurt’s too-tight grasp on his hand. He was incredibly grateful to have Blaine solid and reassuring by his side. God damn hospitals.

“—Hhhhello, um, we’re fr-fr-fr-friends of Trent’s from school. E-E-Elaine mentioned he was, um, that he was in the—in the—in the hospital and we were, well, we were, um, wwwwondering if-if-if he was awake?” 

Who knew there would come a time where I was so nervous that Blaine would handle all of the talking?  

Kurt silently held out the bouquet of flowers in his hands as evidence of their innocent intentions.

The boy’s mother—Kurt realized he didn’t even know Trent’s last name—regarded the boys with suspicion. “I don’t recognize either of you. Have you been over before?”

“N-n-no, ma’am. We’re, um, a few years older but we’re-we’re in —drama club with T-Trent.” Nice memory, Blaine!

“Oh, lovely! Yes, Trent simply loves drama club. He really looks up to Elaine; she’s a nice girl. Can you believe I thought he had a crush on her? Well, obviously…” she gestured awkwardly as she trailed off. “He’s tired but I’m sure he would appreciate a friendly face. He hasn’t had any visitors yet besides family.”

Kurt cleared his throat awkwardly before following the woman into the room. For a moment, he wondered how they would get rid of her but she left only moments later, saying something about visiting the cafeteria.

Lying on the hospital bed was a teenage boy with a wide, round face who looked up at them in confusion. 

“Trent?” Kurt asked, hesitantly.

“You seem to have me at a disadvantage gentleman. You know my name but I haven’t the faintest idea who any of you are.” The boy’s voice was soft and gentle, despite being slightly hoarse at the moment. He pushed a button on the side of his bed and the hospital bed motors began to whir, pulling him into a more upright position. 

Blaine held both hands out in front of him, as if to show that he was unarmed. “Hi, I’m, um, —B—B—Blaine and, um, yyyyou don’t know me but we, um, we have more in-in-in-in —common than you’d think. I, um, I’m ffffriends with Elaine, she can, um, v-v-vouch for us if that’s n-necessary. I also, have a—have a st-st-stutter…obviously. So, sssorrry about all this.” Blaine smiled in that charmingly awkward way that he had as he paused to take a few breaths.

“Hi, I’m Nick. Blaine and I used to to Bath High School with Elaine and Wesley.”

Trent was starting to look slightly more relaxed, but he clearly still had his guard up.

“I’m Kurt. Kurt Hummel,” he said, reaching out to shake the boy’s hand. “This one’s boyfriend,” he added. Trent’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“Boyfriend? You mean…”

Kurt grinned, remembering a time not so long ago when he would have had a similar reaction to encountering another member of the species.

“Yes, we’re gay too.”

“I’m not…” the boy started, clearly on instinct. “Well, no, you’re right. I am. Heck, I even had it in sharpie on my face. The nurse’s had something magical that took it right off, if you can believe it. Still, I wish they’d gotten to it before my mother arrived. Anyways…so what are you guys…doing here?”

Blaine leaned in slightly, one of his many tells that he wanted to talk so Kurt looked over at him, giving him the floor. We may never be the couple that finishes one another’s sentences—because Blaine would hate that with a fiery passion—but there’s hope yet that we turn into one of those disgustingly cute couples that communicates without exchanging a single word. I could be very okay with that.

“Do you, um, do you re-re-re-remember who…did this to you?” Blaine asked.

Trent’s hand went to his ribs, clutching protectively at the bandages.

“Why do you want to know?” he asked cautiously, eyes cast down towards the floor.

“Be-be-because someone—be-be-because the same thing ha-ha-happened to me last year, and, um, um, I’m wwwondering if the same —person is responsible.”

“You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine,” Trent replied, chin jutting defiantly up.

“Fair e-enough. It was, um, Rick. Rick Holtz.”

Trent gasped, which seemed to be all the confirmation that Blaine needed.

“That’s what I wwwas afraid of.”

“He’s…he’s done this before?” Trent asked in confusion. “Then how…how does he still go there?”

Blaine bit his lip and a pained expression fell over his face. “I—I—I…I…fuck…I…” Blaine looked at Kurt in panicked desperation. I hope I’m doing this whole couple-y mind-reading trick right.

“He needs a minute. It’s hard for Blaine to talk sometimes when he gets really emotional. He really does want to answer you, and he will, but he might need some time or he might need to write it out instead. Or I can…I can try to explain, honey, if you want?”

Blaine shook his head, teeth clenched tight in determination. He pulled out his phone and started tapping rapidly on the buttons.

Trent seemed confused but he waited patiently, watching Blaine’s flying thumbs with curiosity. 

Then Blaine spoke. Or rather, his phone spoke for him. A tinny, computerized voice came from his phone, saying, “Because we never went to the police. We were scared and selfish and I’m so sorry Trent. This should never have happened to you and I don’t expect you to forgive me but if there is anything I can do to make it right, then I want to help.” Nick nodded his agreement to Blaine’s words.

Did Blaine just decide to testify?

“Wow, I…I don’t know what to say.”

“Are you planning on reporting the incident to the police, Trent?” asked Kurt, turning the conversation to practicalities.

“I already did, actually. But no one saw what happened so it’s my word against his. Our school doesn’t have security cameras in the locker rooms—obviously—for privacy reasons so nothing is on tape. They’re investigating but they didn’t seem optimistic.”

Blaine’s thumbs began typing again. “What if you had two other people who could testify that the same person attacked them in a similar way? Would that make the case stronger?”

Trent perked up. “Yeah! I think it might! Would you do that? Both of you?” he asked, looking hopefully at Kurt and Blaine.

Kurt shook his head, quickly trying to clear up the misunderstanding. “Oh, no, I’m not—the other person was Nick. I’m just here for…moral support, I guess.”

Blaine flashed him one of those private smiles he knew was just for him. He was pretty sure it meant “ you are and you’re doing a great job.”  

“I’m in,” declared Nick. “This needs to stop and maybe if we get this sucker I can finally come home. What about you Blaine?”

Blaine’s eyes grew wide and he looked from Nick to Trent to Kurt and then back to Trent. 

“Do you want to think about it, Honey?” Kurt asked quietly. Blaine hates being put on the spot .

There was a moment of silence and then Blaine’s face scrunched up in determination. “He’s going —down.”

Blaine was unusually quiet in the car as Kurt drove them back to his house. It had been a long day and both boys were worn out. 

Blaine fiddled with the radio, stopping at an Indigo Girls song that was familiar to Kurt but after their ordeal of a day he listened to the lyrics with a new perspective.

I'm tryin' to tell you somethin' 'bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It's only life after all, yeah

Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety 'til I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores

Kurt glanced over at Blaine, who sang along under his breath, voice thick with emotion. He considered how easy it was to wrap yourself up in fear until you self-destructed. 

Right and wrong had always seemed so definite to Kurt, even when so often he felt helpless to enact them. But maybe it was all so much more of a fuzzy mess than that. Perhaps the real trap was thinking that there was one right answer to anything or even one right place to seek out those answers. 

Blaine was so convinced that he had done it wrong, but surely it wasn’t so simple. Perhaps both choices had their own “rightness” and Blaine had to find his answers not from one place—like his father—but from considering many sources and perspectives.

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There's more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine

Kurt reached a hand across the gearshift and threaded his fingers through Blaine’s. Maybe I don’t need to find the right words to make it all better right away. Maybe all I can hope is that things just keep getting closer to fine.

Chapter Text

“Well, that’s a new one!”

Ms. Shine arched an eyebrow at Blaine from across Ms. Pillsbury’s desk.

He shrugged in response.

“They prepared us for a lot of different situations in graduate school but I can honestly say that one of my students testifying in court was not one of them. I’m fairly confident that under the ADA you are entitled to reasonable accommodations but I’ll have to do some research as far as the procedures for securing them. It should help that you have a current IEP, though, so that’s a plus.”

This is so not in her job description.

“I-I-I-I can ask the, um, p-p-prosecutor. I don’t want you to—you don’t need to-to go to the, um, the t-t-trouble.”

“That’s very thoughtful of you to say, Blaine, but I wouldn’t have offered if I minded. Honestly, curling up with a hot mug of tea and my laptop to do some light internet research sounds like as good a way as any to spend my evening. Besides, now that you’ve brought it up I’m so curious I would probably look into it regardless.”

She paused, looking thoughtful, and then opened one of the pockets in the large messenger bag she used to carry her materials from school to school on her travel days. “Ah-ha! Here it is. Blaine, this is a Release of Information form you can have your parents sign. Once that’s done, I can communicate with the authorities to help coordinate everything and give him or her the information they need to get everything squared away. Only if you’re comfortable with that, obviously.”

Blaine glanced at the form before carefully tucking it into his binder. It looked long and decidedly bureaucratic. His father would read it at least twice before signing which was good enough for Blaine.

“Thank you. I think, um, I think that will help.”

“You’re very welcome. Now, what else can I do to support you during this process. Let’s think about the different challenging speaking situations that are coming up so we can develop a plan for how to tackle them.”

Blaine looked up at her, hazel eyes glinting under the buzz of fluorescent lights. He felt his breathing slow down and some of the tension in his shoulders ease. There was a solidness in her calm energy that soothed him. She was strong in a quiet way, like the foundation of a house. He felt a little bit braver knowing that she was on the team of people who had his back.

His face cracked into a grin. “That, um, um, would be-be great.”

Blaine slid his letter across the table where the prosecutor sat. Her name was Billie and his father knew her through work, of course.

Despite his nerves, Blaine tried to configure his facial features into a friendly, nonthreatening smile while he silently waited for her to read the brief paragraph that explained the essentials of his stuttering. It had been Ms. Shine’s idea to take some of the pressure of disclosure off of him during the various pre-trial meetings.

The letter simply explained that he stuttered, it had a few basic requests such as waiting patiently if he grew silent, and it informed her that he might resort to writing or need a break if he became severely disfluent. 

He was filled with relief as it sunk in that he could start the conversation without having to worry about being interrupted or rushed.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Blaine. I wanted us to have a chance to speak before the arraignment so I can answer any questions that you may have. I find that people are more comfortable working with me when we’ve gotten the chance to get to know each other a bit.”

“Billie’s very good and she has experience working on cases involving minors,” his father added.

Blaine nodded. 

“What are the, uh, uh, uh, the, well—how likely is it that I’ll, you know, have to, um, t-t-testify on the wit-wit-witness stand? That’s the —part I’m most nervous about.” He blushed slightly at the confession. His father reached over to squeeze his shoulder reassuringly.

“Excellent question, Blaine. As you may know from your father’s work, most criminal cases do not go to trial these days; it’s the vast majority to be honest, around ninety percent. However, the odds are a bit higher in this case due to the fact that we’re dealing with a repeat offender. Plus, the district attorney ran on a platform of cracking down on hate crimes so he may push for a trial so he can make an example of this…Mr. Holtz. A plea deal is still the most likely outcome…maybe 70-30 odds against having to testify.”

That’s not so bad. Maybe I can do the right thing and avoid the worst of it.

“Sign this,” his father asserted, sliding an official looking document across the dinner table towards Blaine, who has currently inhaling a plate of lasagna. He had been too nervous to eat lunch before meeting with the prosecturo and now he was ravenous.

Blaine absentmindedly picked up the paper with his left hand, still shoveling cheesy noodles into his mouth with his right. I have so much homework to catch up on. It took a moment before he processed what he was holding. “Order of Protection.” Huh?

“Dad is this a…a-a-a restraining order?” 

“Obviously. You were being stalked; it’s simply the logical next step.”

Blaine stared at the page; somehow it didn’t look real. He glanced from the paper to his father, who was quietly reading the paper as if he had just handed Blaine a summer-camp sign-up sheet and not a serious legal document that victims of crimes demanded through tears on cable television.

He signed the form in a daze; his mind whirring with half-formed thoughts. He handed the paper back to his father wordlessly and wandered out to the car.

My life is turning into an episode of Law and Order.

Meeting with the prosecutor had been alright but Blaine was still nervous about speaking with the detective. Blaine had been so exhausted from the whole ordeal the first time around that he hadn’t had any energy left to get stressed by the interview. Also, there had been no anticipation time. The detective had just showed up in his hospital room and it was all over so quickly, like pulling off a band-aid.

Having the appointment looming over him for an entire week had been awful. Twice he almost begged his father to move it up just so it could be done with faster but he chickened out both times. Consequently, he had been so distracted that he was sure he had bombed his U.S. History midterm and he had snapped at Kurt for no reason during Wednesday afternoon coffee.

The morning of the interview, Blaine texted Kurt in a panic.

Blaine: What is the dress code for a police questioning?

Kurt: Black tie optional. Definitely.

Blaine erupted into a fit of laughter. When his eyes stopped watering from laughing so hard, he saw that Kurt had given him a serious answer as well.

Kurt: I think your regular school clothes would be appropriate but choose something in a dark tone or a neutral. Try that navy sweater or the black button up.

Blaine: You’re the best!

Kurt: You know, sometimes I wonder if you’re just using me for my fashion advice.

Blaine snorted as he read that one. He wondered how Kurt always seemed to know when he needed him to be sincere and when he just needed someone to make him laugh so he could get out of his own head. Killer boyfriend instincts?  

Setting aside his phone, Blaine perused his closet in search of Kurt’s recommended items. He just hoped they weren’t in the wash.

“Blaine?” his mother’s voice called out from downstairs. “Are you almost ready?”

Shit. Doubling his pace, he sorted through a few more hangers before finally spotting the black button-up shirt he was looking for. Victory! He pulled it on in such a mad dash that he did up the buttons wrong the first time and had to start over.

He took a few deep breaths before launching himself down the stairs.

“Walk please,” his father scolded.

Agh, I’m running late but I’m not allowed to run. What do you people want? 

“R-r-r-r-running late,—Dad!” he said in exasperation, his heart sinking at how terrible his speech sounded. That last block had felt like slamming into a brick wall. “Great! N-n-n-n-now I-I-I—now I c-c-c-c-c-c-can’t even fucking —talk! St-st-st-stop rushing me!”

The frustration was hot under his skin and he suddenly felt a sheen of sweat on his forehead.

“Blaine Devon Anderson there is no reason for such language at the breakfast table.” His father only used his full name when he was being scolded.

His mother’s eyebrows furrowed in concern as she watched his outburst. “Sweetie-Pie, are you feeling alright?”

Blaine collapsed into his chair at the kitchen table and pressed the heels of his palms against his closed eyes, seeking some escape or relief. He counted his breaths until he was able to regain some sense of calm.

“I’m just… st-st-st-st- stressed about the-the inter-interview and-and all of this ru-ru-rushing is just making it worse and then—and then—and then now my sp-speech is acting up like-like cr-cr-cr-crazy and…” he trailed off, suddenly needing to catch his breath. 

His parents exchanged a silent but meaningful glance.

I wish Kurt was going to be there. Of course, he had been too proud to ask because he wanted to be able to do this on his own. He didn't want to need Kurt, even if Kurt probably would agree in a heartbeat, even if Kurt wouldn’t judge him. He would judge himself enough for the both of them. 

Somehow having his parents there felt different. His father would have laughed him out of the room if he had asked him to sit out and anyways he wasn’t even sure if he was allowed to do it without them.

I could still ask him. No, that’s ridiculous he has school. I can see him right after; that will have to be enough.

Blaine managed to get down most of a slice of toast. He had no appetite and his mouth was so dry from the nerves that it tasted like sand going down. 

Blaine had never been to a police station before and it was nothing like he had imagined. The precinct looked more like an office than anything else and the shabby conference room where they brought him for his interview looked nothing like the dimly lit interrogation rooms he saw on TV. There was even a window letting some sunshine in.

The detective offered him a bottle of water, which Blaine gratefully accepted. He sipped at it eagerly both to quench his thirst and to stall for time while he gathered himself. Shit, my letter! In his rush to leave on time that morning, Blaine had left the letter in his bookbag which was tucked neatly under his desk in his bedroom.

Detective Lyons offered him a faint smile as she adjusted her papers and opened up a manila folder. “First, we’re going to review some basic information and then I’m going to ask you to tell me everything you remember. I might ask you some questions to help you think of any other details that might help our case. Another detective is interviewing Mr. Duval in another room so we’ll put the information together and go from there.”

“Name?”

“—” It wasn’t the start he was hoping for. He gestured that he needed a minute. In two, three, four. Hold, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four. 

B-B-B- Blaine Devon Anderson.” Yes!

“Date of birth?”

A-A- April t wenty- th ird…ni-ni-ninet-teen ninet-t-ty… th ree.” Blaine let out a sigh of relief that his strategies were at least working, even he was relying more heavily than he was used to these days. He alternated between Easy Stuttering, Easy Onsets, and Pausing and Phrasing. 

Still, this is only the easy stuff.

Blaine glanced up to see how the detective was reacting to his speech. To her credit, she seemed completely unaffected by it. She probably sees much weirder stuff that my stuttering ass . He ended up coughing in order to suppress the giggle that nearly escaped at that thought.

“Thank you, Mr. Anderson. Now let’s turn to the day of the incident…”

Blaine described the events—the ones he remembered at least—in as much detail as he could, not wanting to overlook anything. The corner of Detective Lyons’ mouth curled down ever so slightly when Blaine got to the parts that were missing. It was hard to talk about but he had at least been over it a few times between explaining what happened to the police the first time around to sharing it with Kurt back when they were just friends. His parents handed over copies of his medical records from the hospital stay which corroborated Blaine’s account that he couldn’t remember because he was concussed rather than because he was lying. Blaine had been taken aback when the detective brought that up but his father thanked her for being thorough and that was the end of it.

“Now, tell me about your other encounters with Mr. Holtz.” He had to actually take a break at one point to get through it all. Detective Lyons opened up a small porch overlooking the alley so he could get some fresh air. But he made it through.

Blaine melted into Kurt’s arms when he finally made it to the Hummel-Hudson house. The day had gone better than he’d expected, really, but he was thoroughly exhausted after speaking with the police detective. Feeling the warm weight of his boyfriend’s arms wrapped around him was sweet relief.

“Long day?” Kurt asked.

“The longest. I think I only got through the-the-the-the last hour by pic-pic-picturing myself right here, with you.” Blaine nuzzled his face into the crook of Kurt’s shoulder and breathed in, comforted by the familiar smell.

“Aww, I’m very happy to see you too. It was kind of torture knowing you were going through that all day and having no idea how it was going. I had to stop myself from texting you approximately thirty times. Rachel may have confiscated my phone during lunch.”

Blaine grinned, feeling quite foolish at how pleased he felt at that.

“Upstairs?” he asked, half pleading. All he wanted was to be curled up with Kurt somewhere warm where they wouldn’t be interrupted.

“Alright,” said Kurt, quirking an eyebrow playfully in response.

Does he think I meant…? Blaine blushed as he took Kurt’s hand and followed him to Kurt’s bedroom.

He eyed Kurt’s bed wistfully. I just want to be in those soft sheets.  

Blaine began to pull back the covers, ready to dive in when Kurt suddenly threw himself between Blaine and some divinely high thread count Egyptian cotton. Blaine pouted.

“Woah, hey now. You can’t just get in there with your…your outside clothes on. This bed has rules , Blaine!”

He smirked. Of course Kurt’s bed has rules.

Kurt’s eyes grew wide when he realized that Blaine was undoing the buttons of his shirt. When he got to the button on his pants Kurt’s jaw dropped. 

“Blaine!” he hissed. “What are you doing?”

“Following the r-r-r-rules, of course,” he replied cheekily. Then he turned serious for a moment. “Am I m-m-making you un-un-uncomfortable? I can st-stop I just—I’m so tired and all I want right now is to cuddle in bed with-with you. Clothes off is a-a-a huge bonus but by no means re-re-re-required.”

“Oh! No…I, um, I guess I was just a little surprised. I’ll, um, I guess I’ll join you then.” Kurt was turning a delicious shade of pink as Blaine pushed his jeans off of his hips and shimmied his legs out of them. Then he dived under the covers and let out delighted sigh. So soft.

He watched in sleepy amusement as Kurt shucked off his clothes, layer by layer, carefully folding each garment and setting them aside until he was left in just his underwear. Blaine was tired but he wasn’t so far gone that he didn’t feel a bubble of excitement at seeing Kurt without pants on. Without meaning to, Blaine let out an audible sigh and Kurt began to blush furiously. 

Embarrassed, Kurt faced away from Blaine and then slipped under the covers, shivering as he scooted his body closer to Blaine’s. Kurt’s arms encircled him, gently pulling at him until his weight shifted and he was resting the side of his face on Kurt’s chest. Warm hands gently brushed the skin of his back and his upper arm. Blaine experimentally hooked one of his legs over Kurt’s and delighted in the brand new sensation of warm skin pressed up against him, of the tickle of Kurt’s leg hair on his knee. 

Blaine pressed his cheek into Kurt’s chest and heard the thump thump of his heartbeat.  The tension in his muscles ebbed away until Blaine felt like a pile of loose noodles; loose, very relaxed noodles. As he settled further into his calm state, his breathing slowed down, and then he noticed that the thump thump of Kurt’s heart was slowing down too. The spaces between the beats got ever so slightly further apart and then Blaine noticed the muscles of Kurt’s arms were loosening as well. Did he just get calm because I got calm? Is that a thing now? Blaine practiced his deep, slow breathing to test his new theory. Sure enough, Kurt’s heartbeat and breathing slowed down a little bit more to match his. 

It had been a long, stressful day but lying here wrapped up in the cocoon of his boyfriend’s arms, Blaine felt utterly safe and at peace. Perfection.

The call came the next day. 

“They arrested that degenerate,” his father announced victoriously over dinner.

“Wonderful!” said his mother.

They both looked to him expectantly. I’m supposed to say something. What am I supposed to say?

“I…oh…that’s, um, um, g-g-good to hear.” Blaine forced a smile to pacify his parents.

He really had thought that he would feel happy or at least relieved to hear that Rick had been arrested but all he felt was wrung out and tired. Nothing was even close to being resolved. The arrest meant that all of the hard stuff would begin. Arraignments and pretrial hearings. Jury selection and testimony if it went to trial and plea deal negotiations if it didn’t. Closer to fine. I’m just getting closer to fine and one day I’ll be there and things will feel better.

It wasn’t until three days later, when Blaine was fixing his hair in the mirror at his locker, that the full effects of Rick’s arrest finally became clear.

His pocket buzzed and he glanced down to check his phone.

Nick: What do I have in common with a boomerang?

Blaine snorted. Nick was into riddles now, apparently.

Blaine: I don't know. What?

“I always come back!”

What? Nick?

Blaine turned on his heels, just barely keeping ahold of his phone. And there he was. Nick Duval, in the flesh, grinning from ear to ear.

“What are you…wh-wh-what?” he asked inelegantly.

“I’ve been begging my mom to let me transfer and now that Rick is finally behind bars, she finally agreed!”

Transferred. But that would mean…

“You go here?”

Nick nodded enthusiastically. Suddenly, the reality of the arrest hit Blaine like a solar flare. He grinned widely and pulled Nick into a tight hug. Embarrassingly, a few tears even pricked at his eyes. He just couldn’t believe that he was finally reunited with his dear friend after Rick had quite literally ripped them apart.

“Nick?”

Blaine and Nick sprang apart. “Hey Kurt! Guess who has two thumbs and is the newest McKinley Wildcat?”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s you.”

“Ding, ding, ding!” crowed Nick, bouncing up and down with excitement. 

Blaine was beyond thrilled to have Nick at his school. It also served as a well-needed distraction from everything that was going on outside the doors of McKinley right now. Fortuitously, Nick had several of the same classes as Blaine including English Literature, Weight Lifting, and Chemistry.

With the addition of Nick to the class, one of the lab partner groups would have to expand to a trio. Blaine immediately raised his hand to volunteer and just like that he had two of his very favorite people with him. Kurt didn’t look nearly as excited as he felt but then again, Kurt never really looked excited about Chemistry.

Nick sat with the “Switzerland” group during lunch; it took most of the lunch period just to get Nick caught up on why there was a Switzerland table to begin with. 

“So when are we starting this GSA club, Blaine?” Nick asked.

“Huh?” Blaine asked in confusion with a mouth full of pizza.

“I believe I was promised that if I came to McKinley we would have enough students to start a GSA club.”

Blaine gave him a blank stare.

“You really don’t remember? Come on, man, you promised !” he whined dramatically.

“I, uh, maybe when all the—all the —trial stuff ssssettles down...it’s just...I mean, we have a-a-a lot going on right now.”

“I can look into the requirements to start a new club in the meantime,” Kurt offered.

“Thanks, man! I suppose you’re right, Blaine. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about the other big thing coming up either: the big one seven. How do you want to celebrate this year? Movie marathon? Laser tag? Dance party in my basement?”

Blaine had nearly forgotten that his birthday was right around the corner. He had no idea what he wanted to do. It’s my first birthday with Kurt! Are birthdays different when you have a boyfriend? Note to self: look into this later.

“I d-d-dunno but, uh, —Cooper’s supposed to be here so, uh, I should check with him if there’s anything that-that-that he wants to do.”

“Why would you ask Cooper?” Kurt asked, sounding surprised. “It’s your birthday; shouldn’t you do what you want to do?”

Kurt doesn’t understand. He’s flying all this way special to see me and I hardly ever see him anymore. I don’t want him to get bored at some lame babyish kid party. I need to make sure he has a good time.

“My —birthday should be-be-be fun for e-everyone, right?”

Kurt shrugged, looking unconvinced. “I guess.”

Nick begged Blaine to help him prepare his audition for The New Directions. Kurt had frowned when Blaine wasn’t able to come over but Blaine knew that he understood that helping Nick was important. Besides, he always hung out with Kurt and it had been so long since he could spend time with Nick regularly.

They settled down in Blaine’s living room to pore over song possibilities. Blaine pulled out the list he and Kurt had brainstormed back when they were working on their duets assignment. That, of course, had him lost in a fog of nostalgia until Nick whacked him over the head with his rolled up notebook. “Trips down memory lane are for closers, Blaine! We need to find a song that fits my range and no offense to Kurt but these are so not my style.”

Decidedly alert and back in the moment, Blaine set aside their old list and began to ask Nick questions. 

“Well, is there a, uh, uh, st-st-st-statement you want to make? Or a ge-ge-genre?”

Nick sat in thoughtful silence for a moment. “You said that you have someone who plays the drums, right?”

Blaine nodded.

“Honestly, I’d love to sing some classic rock.”

That sparked something for Blaine. Grinning, he presented Nick with his idea. 

“I’ve a-a-a-always wanted to sing this, uh, uh, to perform this song but...I never seem to-to-to find the right time. You ha-ha-have to t-t-tell me if it’s not right, though. This is yyyour audition; not mine.”

“No, it’s perfect, man. You’re a genius!”

“Please give a warm welcome to Mr. Nicholas Duval, who we are very pleased to have auditioning to join Glee Club. Nick, I need to warn you that The New Directions is a well-oiled machine at this point and it is very late in the competition season to be adding a new member. However, we have always opened our doors to anyone who wants to audition. If you make it in, you’re going to have to work hard if you want to travel with the team to New York, alright?”

Nick looked a little pale but he spoke with confidence when he introduced himself. “Hi, everyone, for those of you who didn’t make it to my epic Halloween party, I’m Nick—like Mr. Shooser said—and I’ve been friends with Blaine since freshman year. I don’t have much performing experience but I really love to sing and I’m, like, obsessed with karaoke. Oh, and I’m gay and hopefully we’re going to start a GSA chapter so you should all join...if you want to.” Realizing that he was rambling, Nick cleared his throat. “Anyways, Blaine’s going to help me out with the vocals on this one and Finn has kindly agreed to accompany me on the drums.” 

Blaine jumped up to join him, flashing Nick an encouraging grin to calm his nerves. “You a-a-a-all know how I d-d-don’t stutter when I sing? Well, —get ready for that to-to-to all change be-be-because this is my generation !”

People try to put us d-down (talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around (talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (talkin' 'bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

The song was pure, light-hearted fun and Blaine couldn’t help but dance all over the choir room floor. He even grabbed Nick and twirled him a few times. He felt free and powerful singing this song. He had the passing thought that this was the most people he had stuttered on purpose in front of. Ms. Shine is going to love this

Why don't you all f-fade away (talkin' 'bout my generation)
Don't try to dig what we all s-s-s-say (talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to 'cause a big s-s-sensation (talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation (talkin' 'bout my generation)

My generation
This is my generation, baby

...and I’m going to make it a good one!