Blaine held onto his box of things taken from his locker with a death grip, his knuckles turning white as he tried not to feel like an awful person. It was unlikely to happen. Blaine had been feeling like the lowest of the low for weeks. And now that he was walking out of the school, running away again, Blaine wondered if was doing the wrong thing.
But no. Sam had tried to convince him but he’d been wrong. Blaine exiling himself to Dalton? No. He’d exiled himself to McKinley. When Dalton had been his home, he’d thrown it all away, thrown his friendships away so he could come to McKinley for Kurt’s senior year. And Kurt hadn’t even waited until officially moving before letting New York become everything he was about.
Sure, he cared for the people at McKinley and he felt horrible that Sam had watched him walk away, down the long school hallway, but were the New Directions really such a family? Blaine hadn’t talked to Rachel, Quinn, Puck, Mike, any of them since they’d graduated except when they came back to the school.
Some of the Warblers still texted him asking about things.
Blaine just hoped he and Sam could still be friends. He knew Sam had done a lot to try to make him comfortable at McKinley, had won the student election with him, but Blaine had needed to do this.
Dalton was his home. Because Kurt couldn’t be anymore.
Blaine put the box in his backseat, sniffling as he got into the driver’s seat and pulled his seatbelt over his chest. He would be starting classes day after tomorrow and he would be moving into the dorms tomorrow. Blaine thought it was supposed to feel like a big change in his life but it really felt like he’d been waiting for this ever since he’d transferred to McKinley. Ever since a piano had been set on fire during Blaine’s performance and he’d been blamed for it.
Pulling out his phone, Blaine ran his thumb along his home picture. It was one of him and Cooper the last time his brother had been in town, finally changed just the previous day from a picture of him and Kurt. It still made him melancholy.
Blaine pulled up his text message thread to Kurt, looking at the texts he’d sent the other boy for so long before Kurt had finally asked him to stop.
I just want you to know that I love you. I know that I made a mistake but I’m going to work to prove you can trust me again. I just want to be with you.
Blaine looked at the blinking cursor, wondering what Kurt could even respond to it. The same thing he had every other time Blaine had texted him this exact sentiment.
Blaine deleted the text message before sending it, turning on his car and backing out of the parking space. Kurt likely wasn’t going to be happy about Blaine going back to Dalton. It would be nice if Blaine could pretend he didn’t know why but he did. Kurt had never been happy at Dalton, not the way Blaine had been. Kurt didn’t like Blaine being friends with them after everything that had happened during Michael week. And Kurt really didn’t like Blaine being friends with Sebastian, even before his eye surgery.
Blaine knew he was potentially being naïve going back to Dalton. Even though the Warblers had been his friends for so long, they’d still rallied around Sebastian to throw a rock-salt slushie. The fact that it hadn’t been aimed for him wasn’t the point. The New Directions hadn’t ever tried to physically assault another team because they wanted a setlist.
And now Blaine was trying to defend the New Directions in his mind and was worried about going to the Warblers. Blaine just needed to think positively. That was all. Everything would work out in the end, right?
Blaine could try to pretend, at least.
When he got home, he headed into his house, ready to go to bed and wallow for at least a little while. Once he got to Dalton, he was determined to make the best of things, to enjoy being around his former classmates. So, if he was going to be sad, he’d have to do it now.
Camille Anderson was standing at the oven when he came in and he wiped his eyes quickly, not wanting his mother to se that he’d been crying. He should’ve known it was pointless. His mother knew him better than that, even though he avoided her eyes as he put the box on the table.
“Going to miss your friends?” Camille asked, wiping her hands on a dish towel and stepping forward to touch his cheek gently.
Blaine shrugged, feigning nonchalance. He loved his parents and he knew they loved him but they’d never been close. While he knew his mother wouldn’t judge him, he still hadn’t told her the real reason he and Kurt had broken up. And he wouldn’t.
“Sam promised he’d stay in contact but isn’t that what everybody says before they never talk again?” Blaine knew how cynical he sounded and he hated it. But Blaine knew how close it was to the truth.
His mother seemed surprised by his words and Blaine lowered his eyes, taking a deep breath. “Sometimes. But that just means you’re not meant to be friends. I know it’s hard to believe, but you might not be friends with everybody from high school for the rest of your life and that’s okay. There’s a whole world out there for you to explore.”
Blaine knew the words were probably true but they still hurt. A whole world for him to explore and he was going back to Dalton. But Dalton had always been his safe place. “I’m going to go pack,” Blaine said quietly, smiling and hugging her back when Camille stepped forward to hug him. He was going to miss her. While she wasn’t around a lot, he had spent more time with her when he wasn’t boarding at Dalton.
“We’ll leave whenever you’re ready in the morning,” Camille told him, patting his back gently before letting him go.
Blaine nodded, unable to talk with the lump in his throat. He grabbed his box again, heading upstairs and resisting the urge to collapse onto his bed. If he laid down, he wasn’t getting back up and he had to pack. It was easy enough considering he’d already attended for a year and a half. And everything he didn’t take would still be right here in his bedroom for when he came back.
The harder parts were knowing he had to say goodbye to Kurt again here. He still had pictures of them around his room, a scarf Kurt had left sitting on a shelf on his desk. Blaine knew he had to give Kurt his things back but there just hadn’t been a chance. He had a good cry as he thought about what he was giving up, what he’d thrown away when he’d gone to Eli’s house, and finally laid down.
His mother brought a plate of food up but Blaine couldn’t even think of eating. Nerves were starting to set in as he wondered how different Dalton was going to be. At least he knew what to expect with the New Directions, constant drama, and honestly, he had known what to expect with Sebastian. Hunter was a brand-new element. One he wasn’t sure about.
No use dwelling. Tomorrow was going to come soon enough. Before he went to bed, he checked his messages. No new texts, not that he was necessarily surprised.
He pulled the blanket over his head, groaning. He had a long day tomorrow.
“Looks just like last year,” Camille said with a smile, putting the bags she was carrying on the empty bed and looking at the wall above his dormmate’s bed.
Blaine tilted his head to the side, trying to determine who it might be. His name was Brandon and he was on the Lacrosse team which Blaine thought was ironic. He’d been tempted to text Sebastian to ask but, while he’d texted him to let him know he’d be transferring, they hadn’t conversed past that. Blaine hadn’t been sure what to say.
“It feels like I’m back home,” Blaine admitted, looking over at his mother apologetically as he hoped she didn’t take it the wrong way.
It seemed she knew what he meant, moving forward to hug him tight. She held onto his shoulders as she pushed him away enough to look at him. “If you need anything, you can call me. I’ll answer day or night.”
Blaine nodded, leaning in to kiss her cheek. “Thank you, Mom. I know,” he said quietly, hugging her again.
They made quick work of unpacking his things although Blaine knew he’d take the opportunity this weekend to further personalize his half of the room. He wanted to get to know his roommate before he fully decorated, not wanting to alienate him before he knew whether he’d get upset over some of the things Blaine would put on the wall.
When Blaine was sufficiently organized, as much as he could be right then, he stepped back, taking a deep breath and leaning against his mom as Camille wrapped an arm around her waist.
“Let me know if you’ll be coming home next weekend,” Camille said, kissing his forehead before giving him another hug.
Blaine walked her down to her car, breathing an emotional sigh when he watched her car drive away. He felt a mix of emotions, not sure if he was relieved or stressed or worried. There was so much warring in him that he wrapped an arm around himself, just standing for a moment.
Then he checked his watch, seeing that it was after classes and likely time for Warblers practice. Well, he knew just what to do then.
Blaine headed towards the choir room, looking around and smiling as he realized this was his school again. This was his home for the next few months. And he loved McKinley but he loved being able to walk through the halls of Dalton without a care in the world. No stupid jocks walking around with slushies, no crazy cheerleading coach who assaulted students on a regular basis. No memories of Kurt around every corner, not really.
When he reached the room, he stayed in the doorway, leaning against the frame and watching the Warblers. Sebastian was singing a One Direction song as the others danced, harmonizing behind him. Blaine was watching Sebastian when the other boy turned, their eyes meeting and Blaine was brought straight back to the first time they met. He was surprised by the wave of nostalgia.
This time, Sebastian let him stay in the doorway, finishing the song with a flourish.
“So, this is your triumphant return, right?” Trent asked once the song was over and Blaine laughed, nodding as he stepped forward into the room.
At once, the rest of the Warblers were converging on him, all of them trying to talk at once, ask him questions, hug him. The only ones who stayed back were Hunter and Sebastian, the former watching the rest of them, the latter not looking away from Blaine. Blaine hugged back, answering over and over that he was back for good, starting classes the next day, he’d already moved back into the dorm.
“Alright, alright. We’re not through with practice,” Hunter said, calling the rest of them to order. The Warblers all sat down again around Hunter at the front of the room and Blaine joined them, sitting on the arm of the couch. “We can assume with your return to Dalton, you’ll be rejoining the Warblers?”
“If you’ll take me,” Blaine said with a nod. He hadn’t even considered not joining them although he knew it was a risk to accept a new member just a week before Sectionals. It was the type of thing that could make or break a competition and Blaine knew he’d have to practice his heart out, especially having to get used to Dalton’s curriculum again.
Hunter nodded once. “Very well. At Sectionals, Sebastian and I have a solo each. The rest of the members, and I, have chosen to give you the remaining solo.”
Blaine’s face paled, glancing around at the rest of them but none of them held an ounce of resentment. (He thought of Kurt, telling him he sang too much, that Blaine shouldn’t take the spotlight.) “I can’t. It’s only a week away. I wouldn’t have been surprised if you had asked me to sit out of the competition.”
“I became captain of the Warblers to help the Warblers win, after I took my last team to Nationals,” Hunter said matter-of-factly, his hands behind his back. “We all want to win. That’s why you should have one of the solos.”
Looking around, Blaine chewed on his lower lip. The rest of them looked hopeful, the ones who knew him were nodding, but it was Sebastian who convinced him. Sebastian who was looking at him completely calm, as if there was nothing else that would happen. Of course, Blaine would get the solo, his expression seemed to say.
Blaine smiled and nodded. “Dark Side, then?” he asked, knowing they had plenty of options but that song seemed appropriate at the moment. And it was the type of song the Warblers would sing at competition.
“If that’s your choice. Alright, everybody up. We only have a week before competition so we need to get Blaine up to speed on what we’ve learned for Whistle and Live While We’re Young and clean up the choreography for Dark Side,” Hunter said, gesturing for the Warblers to stand up.
Blaine’s lips twitched into a smile as he stood, already feeling like he was part of the Warblers again because he was.
It wasn’t going to be easy but the Warblers’ choreography had always been based around certain moves. While one practice wasn’t enough to learn the dance moves, Blaine had a feeling they’d make some great progress over the week. They might even have the potential to win. Especially since he knew the New Directions hadn’t actually started rehearsing yet either.
By the end of practice, he was sweating hard enough that his hair was starting to come out of the gel and he was starting to remember the reasons he used less when he was at Dalton.
Blaine was panting, accepting a spare water bottle and nodding as he listened to Trent talking about how glad the Warblers were that he was back. “I’m glad to be back,” Blaine said with a smile.
He was flattered but borderline embarrassed by the excitement the rest of the Warblers had over him coming back. Slowly but surely, the rest of the Warblers did lose interest, going their separate ways. Eventually, it was just Hunter and Sebastian left.
Hunter stepped forward, clapping Blaine on the shoulder. “Looks like you’re back where you belong,” Hunter said with a grin, looking over at Sebastian before leaving the room.
And now Sebastian finally approached Blaine, a warm smile on his lips as Blaine tilted his head to the side. “I’m glad you’re back. I wasn’t sure if you’d really decide to.”
Blaine let out a breath, looking around and he felt like he could actually be somewhat honest with him. Blaine been nothing but enthusiastic with the rest, talking about how excited he was. But with Sebastian, the other boy knew him better than that.
“It’s weird to be back,” Blaine admitted, shoving his hands into his pockets. He really was a completely different person than when he’d been here for the first time. While he had known Kurt, he hadn’t dated him for long when they’d both been Dalton students. And Kurt hadn’t been happy here.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Sebastian asked, obviously recognizing that Blaine’s mind was a mile away.
Blaine shrugged his shoulders and he had so much he could say. Then he glanced down. “Coffee and I’ll give you some of my thoughts,” Blaine responded.
Sebastian’s lips twitched before he looked down at his watch. “I’ve got a few minutes before practice.”
It was the obvious choice, to get coffee together again. They’d done this the first time they met and Blaine had been so sorely tempted by him. He’d never admitted to Kurt just how attracted he was to Sebastian but he knew Kurt had noticed. There were no feelings, not really which was how Blaine had justified not cutting off his contact with Sebastian. But they’d been friends.
“So, Hunter really is the new captain, hmm?” Blaine asked once they were settled.
Sebastian nodded and he didn’t look as bothered as Blaine had thought he would be. “Mm-hmm. It’s not… as bad as I thought it would be. I’m lacrosse captain instead. And there is actually less drama than there was in show choir if you’ll believe that.”
“After being in the New Directions, I do believe it, actually,” Blaine responded with a laugh. He let out a breath, tracing the lid of his cup with his finger as he considered the other boy. Surprisingly enough, Sebastian looked calmer than he had last year and he wondered whether it had to do with Sebastian’s vow to be nicer.
Sebastian tilted his head to the side in acknowledgement over that. “Fair,” Sebastian responded. “Hunter’s not a bad captain. He’s got… ideas but he’s talented. He’s done the Warblers good. He got you back.”
“He didn’t get me back. He didn’t have anything to do with it,” Blaine said quietly because that wasn’t fair. It was Blaine who had chosen to come back for a dozen reasons. But Hunter wasn’t one of them. Blaine shrugged one shoulder, taking a sip of his coffee. “It was like the Warblers knew I needed them. That’s why I came back.”
Uncharacteristically hesitant, Sebastian stared at him for a moment. It made Blaine squirm, knowing what was coming. It was the conversation he didn’t want to have but he knew was going to happen. He just wished it could wait. “I saw on Facebook that you’re single.”
Blaine pressed his lips together, wondering if he could lie. It wasn’t like he wasn’t planning on at least trying to win Kurt back. But… he knew how unlikely it was now that he’d chosen to return to Dalton, to do something for himself. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he finally said, knowing Sebastian would realize it wasn’t a denial.
This time Sebastian didn’t hesitate. “Okay. Then what kind of intel do you have for me on the New Directions? Got a setlist? Anything helps.” Blaine whipped his head up to look at him and Sebastian grinned. “I’m kidding. We’ve got you back. How could we lose?”
Blaine flushed, playing with the lid of his cup as he remembered just how much Sebastian’s compliments made him feel. While he knew Sebastian wasn’t innocent by any means, the praise had never felt like it was just for that reason. Sebastian complimented him like it was factual. As if Blaine just was desirable and talented. It had never been something he had doubted before.
“Back at Dalton and still blushing,” Sebastian murmured, looking at Blaine with clear want in his eyes.
It made Blaine lower his gaze. He knew that he wasn’t with Kurt anymore but he couldn’t just… let anything happen with Sebastian. Not when he still wanted Kurt, still loved him. Kurt would never forgive him if he gave into his attraction with Sebastian. “You’re incorrigible.”
Sebastian just nodded, not looking reprimanded in the slightest. “Yeah, I am.”
“So, my dormmate is apparently on the lacrosse team. Brandon?” Blaine asked, seeing the spark of recognition in Sebastian’s eyes and tilting his head to the side.
“Brandon’s nice,” Sebastian responded easily, sitting back in his chair. “He’s been on the team since last year. You’ll get along with him… Although, is there anybody you’ve ever not gotten along with?”
Blaine rolled his eyes although he had to smile, wondering if Sebastian could see how relieved he was knowing Sebastian hadn’t told him Brandon was awful. Although, he had a feeling Sebastian wouldn’t have worried him even if Brandon was a horrible roommate. “There are plenty of people I don’t get along with. Just because you’ve never seen my temper doesn’t mean I don’t have one.”
Lips twitching to keep from smiling, Sebastian crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m pretty sure I saw the temper you supposedly had when Bad was sung.”
“Oh, are we talking about that?” Blaine asked, making sure there was just the right bite in his words. He wasn’t angry at it but he wanted Sebastian to know he wasn’t always so nice. He didn’t want to be put on some pedestal by Sebastian.
Not when Blaine would obviously be destined to fall.
“No, you’re right,” Sebastian said and he sounded too amused for Blaine’s peace of mind. That was just how Sebastian was, though. Always casual. Blaine wondered when he’d be able to see genuine emotion from Sebastian that didn’t involve Sebastian feeling like he had to apologize. “I’ve got to go to lacrosse practice but I heard the Warblers are going to try to convince you to have a midweek movie night so I might see you later.”
“I’ll see you later, then,” Blaine said. He stayed where he was as Sebastian picked up his bag and walked away. All he could think about was their first meeting, everything they’d gone through in the meantime. The rock-salt slushie that Blaine had forgiven him for when everything had happened with Karofsky and Sebastian had actually apologized. The fight he’d had with Kurt about Chandler, letting Blaine see how much Kurt had really been hurt by his friendship with the other boy.
And finally realizing just how close he was to losing Kurt for good and taking a step back from his friendship before he did something stupid.
(like cheating – god, Blaine hated himself)
He didn’t want to think about that, though, so he headed back to his room.
When he met his dormmate later, Brandon was just as nice as Sebastian had said.