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Blaine Anderson meets his best friend when he's in Kindergarten. He doesn't know it yet but it's also when he meets the love of his life.

 

Kindergarten: Jingle Bells: (what fun it is to laugh and sing)

Blaine hates the stupid Christmas Program. He hates singing and smiling and being in front of everyone's parents and being under the hot stage lights and wearing those stupid black dress shoes. He is in kindergarten. He can't handle that kind of pressure yet.

He sighs to himself from his spot on the risers in the auditorium because he knows he's nothing but a liar. He actually hates these recitals because they always arrange the students by height and Blaine is so … short. So short. He hates being next to all of the girls and the kid in the wheelchair. He likes those people -- he just wants to be a little bit taller. Is that too much to ask? He considers sending that request in his letter to Santa but ultimately decides against it because man, he really could use some more Legos. He has resigned himself to a lifetime of shortness. He will be short forever.

He watches some of his classmates run around the stage until their teacher calls them to order. She physically moves them to their assigned spots and Blaine is unamused to find himself front and center yet again in between Rachel and Quinn. All the boys get to be in the back row but no, Blaine gets to be one of the kids that stands on the stage in front of the risers. In front. He doesn't even get to stand on the risers. Life is so unfair.

Plus, ugh, they're stuck singing Jingle Bells and all the second graders get to sing Rudolph. Even more unfair.

He's dwelling on his misfortune when he hears the other class make their way into the auditorium, watching the kids from Class A warily. Blaine doesn't hang out with the kids in Class B much. They see each other during lunch and recess, sure, but typically they all hang with their own. He's surprised, then, when his teacher moves one of the boys from Class B in between Blaine and Rachel. Blaine looks over curiously because he's pretty sure that this is the boy that lives right across the street.

The boy is staring back.

“I'm Blaine,” he says brightly. He holds his hand out because that's what he sees his dad do to all of the old guys he hangs out with.

The boy stares at him and cocks his head.

“This is neat,” Blaine continues, undeterred, as he moves to touch the boy's sweater. It looks furry and soft.

The boy shifts his arm away. “This has to be dry cleaned.”

Blaine blinks. “I … don't know what that means.”

The boy ducks his head and smiles before looking back up to meet his eyes. “It means you have to be careful.”

“I'll be careful,” Blaine says very seriously, eyes wide. “I promise to be careful with you.”

The boy smiles.

Blaine decides to try again. “I'm Blaine,” he says.

The boy turns to face him. “Kurt,” he says back.

Blaine grins. “You're short like me.”

“Yes,” he replies, raising one eyebrow.

They watch each other for a few moments until the teacher from Class A yells at them for being loud.

“Want to be my friend?” Blaine whispers, trying not to get yelled at.

Kurt ducks his head again and Blaine can't see his face. “Yes,” he answers. “I do.”

: : :

It's the last day of school before Christmas break and Blaine slowly makes his way back from recess, not bothering to try to hide his sadness. Kurt never even showed up. It's the last day they'll get to see each other and Kurt never even showed up. He brightens immediately, though, when he gets back to his desk. Sitting there, right on top of his spelling worksheet, is a piece of construction paper with a glitter tree. He sits at his desk and stares at it, a tree drawn with straight lines and a piece of brown construction paper glued to the bottom as the tree trunk. It's got glitter ornaments and a shiny gold star sticker sitting on top. It's lovely and Blaine can't stop smiling until he remembers the paper he gave Mike to put on Kurt's desk. He's immediately ashamed because his was drawn with some crappy crayons and definitely lacking the strategically placed glitter.

He accepts the fact that Kurt is a better gift giver and hides his drawing in his desk until it's time to leave, lest the elements or Sam's dirty post-kickball hands destroy Kurt's perfect tree.

Blaine's mom helps him hang it in his room when he gets home and it stays there until January when she takes down their tree in the living room. He watches her closely as she carefully removes it from the wall and gently places it in the box with all of the Christmas ornaments. She smiles and tells him she'll hang it again next Christmas.

: : :

Grade One: Frosty the Snowman: (let's run and we'll have some fun)

Snowmen are basically the most awesome thing ever, second only to the zoo.

His mom kisses his forehead as she rings the doorbell at the Hummel's front door. “Mom,” Blaine admonishes, gently pushing her. “Go away.” First graders can't get kissed by their mom, oh my god that is so embarrassing.

She gives him an indulgent smile as she totally and blatantly ignores his direction. “I'll be back in a few hours,” she tells Kurt's mom when she opens the door. “Let me know if you need anything. Or if you need me to take the boys for a few hours.”

His mom sounds concerned and weirdly sad but Blaine mostly doesn't care because all he wants to do is get inside and run up the stairs to Kurt's room so that they can watch Frosty for the umpteenth time. He stares at them both, hoping his impatience is obvious.

“Fine, fine,” his mom says, “Go on in.”

He hears both of their moms laugh as he books it upstairs.

“Did you start it without me?” he asks breathlessly as he pushes the door to Kurt's room open.

“What?” Kurt says back, eyebrows furrowed. He gives him a disapproving look from his spot on the bed. He's gluing something to something else but Blaine doesn't concern himself with the details. “Of course not.”

Blaine grins and presses the play button on the VCR before lying down on Kurt's floor. It's only a few minutes before Kurt settles next to him, sides pressed against each other as they lie on their stomachs.

“I hate this part,” Kurt whispers a little later as they watch Frosty start to melt.

“I know you do,” Blaine whispers back. He presses himself a little closer to Kurt even though he doesn't know what good that'll do.

He watches the rest of the movie, riveted, and when the credits start to roll he stands abruptly and grabs Kurt's arm to tug him along.

“Let's go outside,” he tells Kurt.

“What? Why?” he asks, looking confused. He lets Blaine pull him up and out of his room.

“Because,” Blaine says, “we need to build our own Frosty. That way we can make sure he doesn't melt.”

Kurt's quiet for a moment. “Oh,” he says. “Okay.”

After they make their way into the living room, they wait patiently while Kurt's mom ties up their boots and buttons up their jackets and finds two pairs of mittens. Then they're outside and it's just the two of them for hours. They make snow angels and Blaine tries to throw a few snow balls (but Kurt hides behind the bush on the side of the house which is worse than cheating) and then they decide it's time to make their own Frosty. They work tirelessly until Kurt runs inside to steal buttons from his mom's sewing basket and a hat that he tells Blaine is last season, whatever that means.

They're admiring their work when they hear the front door across the street open and close loudly.

“It's my mom,” Blaine sighs. “I bet she's coming to pick me up.”

They both watch sadly as she crosses the street and heads towards the Hummel front yard. Blaine's shoulders slump but his mom just smiles and gestures to their very own Frosty.

“That's lovely, boys,” she says. “It looks like you worked very hard.”

“We're not done,” he says, even though they totally are. “Can you come back later?”

She gives him a knowing smile but ignores him. “How do you feel about sugar cookies, Kurt?” she asks.

Blaine can feel Kurt shift next to him and sees his face light up out of the corner of his eye. “I like them plenty,” he answers.

She smiles again. “That's good. You two run inside and get cleaned up. I'll go and tell your mom that you're coming over for cookies.”

Kurt moves towards the front door but then hesitates. “Can I request the sprinkles? The last time you let Blaine pour them, he dumped them on the floor and the cookies were ruined.”

Blaine scoffs. “They weren't ruined. They just had more icing and less--”

“They were ruined,” Kurt repeats.

Blaine rolls his eyes because whatever, sprinkles are not the be all end all of Christmas cookies. He concedes, though, and Kurt gives him a bright smile in response. Blaine smiles back because how can he not?

So between Frosty and sprinkle cookies, it's pretty much the best day ever.

: : :

It's the last day before Christmas break and Blaine shuffles back inside after recess, Kurt missing yet again. But just like last year, Blaine nears his desk and grins immediately when he sees the present that's been left on top. It's a Christmas ornament, the one they've been working on for two weeks in their art class, the one they were supposed to make for their family. Blaine runs his fingers over it as he takes his seat, taking time to appreciate the gems Kurt glued to the top and the thin ribbon he tied all around. His smile falters briefly when he remembers that the ornament he gave Mike to lay on Kurt's desk was covered with rubber glue and glitter that kept falling off when Blaine so much as breathed in its general direction.

Blaine hands his new ornament carefully to his mom when he gets home and she puts it towards the top of the tree so that it can't accidentally fall off and shatter on the hardwood floor. In January, she places it on top of Kurt's glitter tree in the box of Christmas decorations.

: : :

Grade Two: Where Are You Christmas?: (my world is changing; I'm rearranging)

Second grade is hard. Not just because the spelling words get way worse but because everything is harder. Blaine's dad stops going to work and starts talking about how they need to save money and they don't go out to eat much anymore. Blaine's not totally positive what “lay offs” mean but he knows it isn't good. Plus, things start getting bad at Kurt's house, too, because his mom stops going to work and then stops doing pretty much everything else. She's in bed a lot and Kurt's dad always looks tired and unhappy and sad. Neither Kurt or Blaine feel much like sending Santa any Christmas wish lists.

But the worst part is Kurt. He's sad and doesn't laugh as much and doesn't even get the best grades in class any more. When he comes over to Blaine's house to watch Christmas movies, he's distracted and unfocused and Blaine feels helpless. He feels like a terrible friend. He spends most of Christmas break trying to think of ways to make his friend smile.

Two weeks before Christmas, his mom sits down next to him as he tries to play some video games in the den. “Blaine,” she says quietly. He looks up and wonders why her eyes are so red. He hopes it's not because she's been crying. It's Christmas; no one should be crying. “We have to talk about your allowance, honey,” she says.

“Okay,” Blaine says, pausing the game and putting down the control.

She swallows. “We're going to change it a little,” she whispers.

“Okay,” he says again.

“It's not because you're not doing a great job, sweetheart,” she tells him, grabbing his hands in her own. “Because you really are. But now that Daddy's -- we just need to make some little changes here and there.”

“Okay,” he repeats. “You don't have to give me an allowance at all after Christmas.”

She gives him a quizzical look. “What?”

He shrugs. “I've been saving my allowance for a Christmas present,” he answers, looking up at her. “After that, you can keep it all.”

She watches him carefully. “Is that right,” she replies.

Blaine nods then pulls her upstairs to his room and shows her the nineteen dollars he's saved up for the past two months. He hides the money in his underwear drawer because surely that's the last place a robber would look. He hopes she can't do the math about how much money he has after only two months because he made a few of those dollars by selling his Fruit Roll-Ups to Artie for the past three weeks.

“It's for a scarf,” he explains to his mother. “A really nice one.”

She blinks. “You want a scarf.”

“No,” he laughs. “Come on, Mom.”

“Okay,” she says slowly. “You want to buy Kurt a scarf?” she tries.

He stares up at her. “I want to buy one for Kurt's mom,” he clarifies.

She looks sad for a moment then looks away.

“But don't tell Kurt,” he warns. “It's a surprise.”

She nods. “Okay, sweetheart,” she says. Her voice sounds sad and she still won't look at him.

Just then, the doorbell rings and Blaine grins. He bolts out of his room and flies down the stairs until he's throwing the front door open. “Hey,” he says before he even sees who's on the other side. There's only one person it could be, only one person he wants it to be.

“Hey,” Kurt says back. He smiles and it's almost as bright as it used to be. “I could use some hot chocolate right now.”

Blaine returns the smile. “Me too. Let's see if my mom--”

But before he can continue, his mom is at the front door and ushering Kurt inside. “You two watch the rest of the Grinch and I'll warm up the milk.”

Kurt thanks her but keeps his eyes on Blaine's. They head to the living room and sit on the couch very close to each other, way closer than he sits to Mike when they play video games. His mom eventually brings them hot chocolate and a blanket and that's how Blaine spends his Saturday.

: : :

The day before Christmas, Blaine carefully crosses the street to Kurt's house as his mother watches from the kitchen window. When he knocks on the Hummel's door, it takes a few minutes before anyone answers. When Kurt finally pulls open the door, he looks tired as he offers Blaine a small, weak smile.

“Here,” Blaine tells him as he holds out the carefully wrapped package that he'll completely take credit for but actually, it's his mom that did both the wrapping and the taping. And applying the bow. And adhering the sticker. And tying the ribbon. But Blaine totally signed his own name.

Kurt looks crestfallen. “I didn't get you --”

“You didn't need to get me anything,” Blaine rushes to say. “Really.”

Kurt still looks sad but reaches out to take the box and admires the handiwork. “It's beautiful, Blaine.”

He momentarily feels terrible for doing none of the wrapping. “I did all of the wrapping,” he says.

And for the first time in a long time, Kurt laughs. “No, you didn't.”

Blaine shrugs.

“Should I open it now?” Kurt asks as he watches Blaine carefully.

He nods and Kurt gestures him inside.

“No,” Blaine declines. “You should be with your family. I just wanted to give you this in case I don't see you.”

Kurt nods then carefully opens the wrapping paper from where he stands in the front doorway. He lets out a sharp intake of breath when he pulls out the scarf. “Blaine,” he says. “It's--”

“I want her to have something pretty to wear when she's at home,” Blaine explains quietly.

Kurt drops the box and rushes into Blaine's arms. “Thank you,” he whispers as he clings tightly. “I don't have anything to give you. But thank you.”

Blaine clings back. “A hug works fine,” he responds. “I like hugs.”

He can feel Kurt nod and hear him sniffle.

Blaine knows next Christmas will be better.

: : :

Grade Three: Silent Night: (sleep in heavenly peace)

Next Christmas is not better. Third grade is worse.

Things are better at the Anderson household. His dad goes back to work in the mornings. His mom starts buying the good cereals again, not the kinds that come in a bag. They get a bigger and better tree than the one they had the year before and under it, the presents start piling up from grandparents and uncles and godparents.

But the Hummel household is not better. The Hummels don't even buy a tree at all. Kurt doesn't come over and he doesn't ask Blaine to come over, either. It's a lonely Christmas. All he wants to do is make cookies with Kurt and he wants to cry when he thinks about how much worse it must be for Kurt who probably just wants to make cookies with his mom. Blaine knows that he'll see Kurt at school, though, and Kurt won't ever see his mom again.

He doesn't understand the dying thing. He's eight so obviously he gets the idea and what it means and how it happens. He just doesn't get the why. He hears plenty about God during his Sunday school classes and he spends time staring out his bedroom window at Kurt's house thinking about it. Why would God take away someone's mom? How come that happens?

Blaine gets frustrated when he can't figure out any answers and it's not much of a relief when he finds out the adults can't give him a good answer either.

So he stares out of his window a lot over Christmas break and wonders when he'll get to see Kurt. He thinks about it even when he's not staring out the window. He thinks about it when he should be trying to help Mike beat King Koopa.

“Blaine,” he sighs. “You suck at this. You just died again.”

“Oh,” he says, snapping to attention. “Sorry.”

Mike lets out another sigh and shrugs. “It's fine, you have an extra life.”

“Right,” Blaine says, straightening up a little on the couch. “Let's start over.” But after a few minutes, his mind starts to wander and he ends up thinking about Kurt again. He still hasn't found a good gift but he doesn't even know if --

“Blaine, you just died,” Mike groans. “Again.”

Blaine drops his controller in his lap and can't help his irritated sigh. “Maybe I just don't want to play video games, okay?”

Mike puts down his controller and turns to face him. “Are you still sad about Kurt?”

He stares at Mike. “What?”

“It's only been like, two months since his mom died, Blaine. He can't hang out with you all the time yet.”

Blaine leans back into the couch. “I know,” he says finally.

“Stop freaking out. You two are best friends,” Mike tells him, eyes already back on the TV screen as he presses a few buttons on his controller to get back to the main menu.

Blaine's eyebrows furrow. “I thought you were my best friend,” he argues.

“No, you didn't,” Mike says casually. “Hit the start button and don't die this time.”

They go back to playing and Blaine starts thinking again. Kurt's always hanging out with that girl in his class, the Mercedes girl with the bright pants. And the pretty Asian girl with a stutter. He sometimes hangs out with Rachel, too. Blaine's suddenly intent on finding out who Kurt's best friend is.

“God, Blaine,” Mike sighs when Blaine dies again.

: : :

On Christmas day, Blaine braves the snow and walks over to Kurt's house. He stands on their front steps for a few moments before knocking. He's nervous for some reason, probably because he hasn't seen Kurt in almost a week and a half. It feels like forever.

Mr. Hummel answers the door and looks sadder than Blaine has seen anyone look ever.

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Hummel,” he says softly.

He tries to give Blaine a smile. “Merry Christmas to you, too, Blaine.”

They watch each other. This is usually the part where he tells Blaine to go upstairs because Kurt is waiting for him or the part where he calls out for Kurt to let him know he has a visitor. But he doesn't do either of those things.

“Is -- is Kurt here?” he asks, voice unsure.

Mr. Hummel sighs. “He is, buddy, but he doesn't feel much like hanging out today --”

“I haven't seen him in a week,” Blaine interrupts. “Friends always make bad stuff better; can you tell him that?”

He gives Blaine a quick nod. “Yeah, I'll tell him that.”

“Okay,” he answers, somewhat appeased. “And will you give him this?” He holds up a small envelope.

Mr. Hummel reaches down to take it from Blaine's hand. “Sure I will,” he answers.

Blaine nods and gives him a quick goodbye before heading back across the street.

Three hours later, right before Blaine's about to take his seat for Christmas lunch, the doorbell rings. He opens it to find Kurt with a tentative smile. He hands Blaine's envelope back to him.

“Thank you,” Kurt says quietly. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” Blaine echoes, tightly grabbing the envelope. “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too,” he replies, still smiling. “Maybe we can watch a movie tomorrow?”

“Yeah, maybe,” Blaine answers, grinning. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Kurt says back. They stare at each other for a few minutes and Blaine glances across the street to see Mr. Hummel standing in the front doorway of Kurt's house. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

When Kurt's safely back inside and Mr. Hummel closes the door behind them, Blaine rips the envelope open. He looks down at his own unsteady handwriting: Want to be best friends?

And below it, in Kurt's swooping penmanship: Yes, I do.

Blaine sticks it safely in his top left desk drawer instead of in the Christmas box with his paper tree and decorative ornament.

: : :

Grade Four: Santa Claus is Coming to Town: (gonna find out who's naughty and nice)

Christmas is changed forever in fourth grade. Forever.

They're having a slumber party at Blaine's house the week before Christmas but “party” usually means Kurt comes over and they hang out in his bedroom until his dad comes up and tells them to shut off the lights and pretends not to see the empty candy bar wrappers that his mother explicitly told him not to take to his room.

It's not even nine o'clock and their parents are downstairs for some party Blaine's mom threw basically just so that she could wear the new green dress she bought. There's lots of wine and tiny food and horrible old people music but it means the boys have free rein of the entire upstairs. Unsupervised.

“It has to be in my mom's closet,” Blaine is whispering, grabbing Kurt's hand to tug him along. “We've looked everywhere else!”

Kurt pulls his hand back. “Blaine, your mom is not hiding a puppy in her closet! A puppy, are you crazy?”

Blaine turns and gives Kurt a serious look. “Coop wouldn't lie about that, Kurt.”

He rolls his eyes. “He lies to you all the time!”

Blaine huffs out a response then grabs Kurt's hand again. “Let's go look in her closet then I'll let it go, cross my heart and hope to die.”

Kurt allows himself to be tugged along as they sneak into his parents' room. “This is dumb, Blaine,” he says finally.

Blaine shushes him and quietly opens his mom's closet door. He pulls Kurt inside with him and closes the door softly. When he pulls the chain to turn on the light, he's surprised to see how close he and Kurt are, faces only a few inches away from each other. It reminds him of all those sappy scenes in his mom's gross romantic movies. He laughs, embarrassed for some reason, and Kurt does the same as they each take a few steps back.

“See?” Kurt says, gesturing around to break the weird tension. “No puppy.”

Blaine lets out a defeated sigh. “Cooper sucks.”

Kurt cocks his head and points to something behind Blaine. “What's that?”

His face lights up as he whips around. “A puppy? I knew --”

“It's not a puppy!” Kurt hisses. “Keep quiet or your mom will hear us!”

Blaine doesn't bother finishing his sentence, just follows Kurt's line of vision to a pile of boxes. Wrapped boxes, all done up with shiny Christmas paper and topped with bows. “Presents!” Blaine says excitedly. “We totally found my Christmas presents!”

As they kneel down to rifle through them, they're both suddenly quiet. “Santa,” they say in unison.

Kurt's eyes narrow. “Why do all of these presents say From Santa, Blaine?”

“I don't know,” he answers, hushed. “It can't mean ... that.”

“Mean what?”

“Mean … you know. That.”

Kurt glares. “I don't know, no. What doesn't it mean?”

Blaine sighs and shifts from his knees until he's sitting Indian-style on the carpeted floor. “I sort of heard Puck talking about it awhile back but I didn't think it could be true.”

“What?” Kurt asks, eyes wide, still kneeling.

He remembers what he told Kurt a few years ago, a promise to always be careful with him. He feels like this is a moment when it's important to keep that promise.

He swallows and reaches for Kurt's hand. Cautiously, he says, “That maybe he -- Kurt, what if our parents are Santa?”

Kurt lets out a gasp. “What? No.”

Blaine gives him a wary look. “You don't think so?”

Kurt lets out a deep breath and moves to sit Indian-style across from Blaine. “I don't know,” he says sadly. “Maybe I just don't want to believe it.”

He frowns. “Yeah, me either.”

They both cast a long, sad glance to the box of presents beside them. “This is the worst day ever,” Kurt says. “My life is ruined.”

Blaine squeezes his hand. “Yeah, mine too.”

They smile at each other. Suddenly, they hear a noisy crash downstairs and all the grownups start laughing. Kurt meets Blaine's eyes and laughs, “Come on, we have to get out of here before your mom comes finds us and makes us go downstairs.”

“Okay,” Blaine agrees, letting Kurt tug him along.

They flop onto Blaine's bed after they successfully make their way down the hall unnoticed. “Well, if my life has to be ruined forever, I'm glad you were there for it,” Kurt tells him, turning on his side.

For some reason, it makes him smile. It makes him feel warm and important and needed. “Me too,” Blaine replies. “If we're with each other every time our lives are being ruined, maybe it won't be so bad.”

Kurt mulls it over and Blaine waits for him to realize that yeah, that's sound logic.

“Deal?” Blaine asks, holding his hand out for an official handshake. Before Kurt can answer, though, they hear Blaine's parents call out for them from down the stairs.

“Fix your hair,” Kurt says, reaching out to pat down a few stray curls right at the same time Blaine says, “Your tie is crooked,” and reaches out to pull it tight and center it.

They both laugh awkwardly again and Blaine feels his face heat up which makes no sense at all.

“Come on,” Kurt says, breaking the tension again. “They're waiting for us.”

They spend the next hour with all the old people downstairs and he catches Kurt's eyes when his aunt asks him if he's been good enough this year for Santa to drop off a few gifts.

“Santa,” Blaine says to Kurt, laughing. “Sure, I'm sure Santa will totally stop by. To both of our houses, right?”

“Right,” Kurt repeats as he laughs with him. “Santa.

His aunt gives them a funny look and leaves them alone to enjoy their little inside joke. They head to the kitchen to find some of the mini hotdogs then sit in the hallway to eat, still laughing. After Blaine lets Kurt eat the last one (because he's an awesome best friend), he looks up to see the mistletoe hanging from the doorframe. His smile drops. “Oh,” he says.

Kurt follows his gaze and freezes. “Oh. We don't --”

“I know --” Blaine interrupts.

“It's for grownups,” Kurt rushes to add.

“Right, totally,” he says.

They both stare at each other for a minute and before he knows what's happening, Kurt leans forward and gives him a swift peck on the cheek. He swallows as they watch each other again. “Deal,” Kurt says finally. Blaine blinks.

His mom breaks the moment as she half-stumbles into the hallway, Kurt's dad right behind her. “Alright boys,” she says, laughing. “You're allowed to go back upstairs now.”

Blaine watches as she shares a significant look with Mr. Hummel but he doesn't know why.

So yeah, Christmas is changed forever.

: : :

On Christmas Eve, they decide to do their gift exchange in Kurt's bedroom, sitting on the floor across from each other. Kurt holds a small box and looks nervous.

Blaine grins as he grabs it and only takes a few seconds to admire the pretty bow Kurt tied on top. He hurries to open it and takes the top of the box off to reveal a handkerchief. He pulls it out of the box very carefully.

“You always talk about your dad's,” Kurt hurries to explain. “And how you can't wait to be a grownup so you can have grownup things like handkerchiefs and a wallet. And money to put in the wallet.”

Blaine looks up with wide eyes and says, “Thank you. It's perfect.”

“I didn't make the handkerchief,” he apologizes. “I just sewed the letters.”

He looks down to see the B-D-A sewn into the bottom corner in bright green thread.

“You can sew?” he asks, impressed.

Kurt shrugs. “Not yet. That was my first foray.”

Blaine has no idea what foray means.

They're both quiet until Blaine reaches behind him to give his gift to Kurt. “I didn't make it or anything.”

Kurt ignores him and leans forward to take it from his hands. Blaine's suddenly terribly self-conscious. What a dumb gift compared to Kurt's.

“I wrapped it for real this time,” Blaine tells him.

Kurt's not really paying attention, though, when he says, “No, you didn't.” He's too focused on not tearing the corners of Mrs. Anderson's lovely handiwork. When he opens the box, he peers inside then pulls out Henry.

He meets Blaine's eyes, confused. “You're giving me Henry?”

Blaine shrugs and keeps his gaze on the teddy bear in Kurt's hands, the one he's had since he was four. “You need him more than I do.”

Kurt doesn't say anything and Blaine can tell he's still watching him.

“We don't talk about your mom ever,” he says quietly. “I know you're still sad. I know you get sad about it all the time.”

He looks up in time to see Kurt swallow thickly.

“And I want Henry to be with you when you feel like no one else is.”

Kurt's eyes well up and he squeezes the teddy bear tightly.

“Merry Christmas, Kurt,” Blaine says, voice still soft.

He nods then replies, “You're my best friend.”

They smile at each other.

When Blaine heads home later that night, he shows his parents the gift and his mom's eyes get very wide. “Blaine, that's -- you need to be very careful with that, okay?”

He nods because duh.

She kneels down to look him in the eye. “That used to belong to Kurt's mom, sweetie. Keep it somewhere safe.”

He places it in his top left desk drawer with the note from the year before.

: : :

Grade Five: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: (they used to laugh and call him names)

They take a class field trip to the local community theater to see the Nutcracker the Friday before winter break. Blaine's excited but only because the whole grade is going, not just his class, so they'll get to spend all day with the fifth graders in Class B.

Translation: Blaine is spending the entire day with his best friend.

(Also, they're going to McDonalds.)

As he gets ready to board the bus, he searches for Kurt in the swarm of kids so that he can wave him over to make sure they sit next to each other. He finally sees him leave the school building, face slightly flushed and jaw tight. Blaine watches him curiously.

“Hey!” he says brightly when Kurt stops next to him.

“Hi,” Kurt says, trying to sound as bright but completely failing.

Blaine watches him for a minute. “Are you okay?”

“I'm fine,” Kurt sighs, throwing an annoyed glance over his shoulder where Dave and Sebastian are standing.

Blaine frowns then shrugs it off. Kurt would tell him if it was important. He grabs Kurt's wrist to tug him towards the bus door but Kurt immediately shakes Blaine off and snatches his arm back.

“Don't,” he hisses. “Not here.”

Blaine stares at him, stunned. “What?”

Kurt looks away. “Nothing.” Then he meets Blaine's eyes again and offers a small smile. “Come on, let's get on the bus.”

“But -- what was --”

“Blaine,” Kurt says sternly as he looks over at some of the guys from his class. “Let's get on the bus.”

As he makes his way up the steps, Blaine stares after him, still totally confused. “Okay.”

When they take their seats, he finally takes a good look at Kurt. “What is … that?” he asks, gesturing to his shirt.

Kurt raises an eyebrow. “It's a shirt, Blaine.”

Blaine's eyebrows furrow. “Whose?”

He looks away and stares at the seat in front of them. “Mine.”

“Yours?” he asks. “It's so … white.”

Kurt doesn't say anything but the tips of his ears turn pink.

“Like, totally white. Where are the stripes or the polka dots? What happened to your vest? Did you not wear a tie? How come there aren't any colors --”

“It's just a shirt!” he interrupts.

Blaine reels back, stung. “Sorry.”

Kurt sighs and his face is red again. He opens his mouth to say something but right then, a crumpled piece of paper hits him in the cheek. They hear a few kids from Kurt's class laugh loudly.

Blaine peers over the back of their seat, confused “What was --”

Kurt tugs him down. “Don't,” he warns. “If you give them attention, it makes it worse.”

“Makes what worse?” he asks. He feels so lost and has no idea what's going on.

The engine turns on and the bus jolts as they head out of the parking lot. “Nothing, Blaine,” Kurt says, voice shaky. “Can we stop talking about it now?”

Blaine stares at his profile as Kurt slumps in his seat. He whispers, “Sure.”

The play ends up being not awesome at all. Kurt leans away from him almost the whole time and stands far away during intermission. When they go to McDonalds, he won't even let Blaine try some of his milkshake which is so stupid because whenever their parents take them, Kurt always gets strawberry and Blaine always gets chocolate and they always share and it's how they've always done it and why is Kurt suddenly not okay with that? And then -- and then -- he tells Blaine that he's going to sit with Tina on his way home and suggests Blaine find Mike or sit with Artie in the front by the handicapped spot.

“Fine, whatever,” Blaine says, angry.

Kurt gives him a sad look but then walks away.

And just … whatever.

They don't sit next to each other on the bus ride home from school, either, and when the bus stops on their street, Blaine immediately turns to his house, not even saying goodbye. When he gets to his front door, even madder than he was earlier, he turns to see Kurt standing in his own front yard, staring at Blaine looking sad and dejected. But Blaine turns away and slams his front door after he gets inside then storms up the stairs.

His mom comes up a few minutes later and knocks on his door cautiously. He tries not to cry when he tells her the story because he's ten and ten year olds aren't supposed to cry anymore. She hugs him and pats his hair before asking him to come downstairs for some hot chocolate. He sniffles and nods before following her into the kitchen.

She surprises him by bringing two mugs to the table. “I get two?” he says hopefully.

“No,” his mom laughs and nudges one closer to him. “Bring this one to Kurt.”

He scowls. Figures Kurt gets the one with more marshmallows.

Blaine's dad walks him across the street and stands with him while they wait for someone to open the door. When Mr. Hummel opens the door, he nods towards the stairs which Blaine takes as his cue to go up to Kurt's room.

“Careful with the mugs, buddy!” his dad calls out but he's already ignoring him in favor of getting up the stairs as fast as humanly possible. He hears his dad sigh and offer to pay for any casualties, whatever that means.

Blaine steels himself as he waits outside of Kurt's door, holding a mug in either hand. “Kurt?” he asks tentatively.

He hears some shuffling before Kurt opens the door, eyes red. Blaine isn't sure what to say so he holds out the mug.

Kurt blinks then carefully takes it from his hand.

“Do you not want to be my friend anymore?” Blaine blurts out.

Kurt's eyes widen. “What?”

“Because I'm really sorry,” Blaine apologizes.

He cocks his head. “For what?”

“For -- I don't know, for whatever I did.”

Kurt sighs and turns to make his way back in his room. Blaine follows him and shuts the door.

“You didn't do anything, Blaine.”

Blaine sits and says, “Well then what?” He pauses. “Because I still want to be friends.”

“It's --”

Best friends,” he clarifies.

Kurt follows suit and sits across from him. “I want to be best friends, too.”

They're quiet and when it becomes obvious that Kurt won't be the one to break the silence, Blaine asks, “Why won't you tell me? Is it some secret?” Blaine hates when people have secrets without him and he's irritated that Kurt probably has a secret with someone else. Probably Rachel.

Blaine hates Rachel.

“It's not a secret,” Kurt sighs.

Okay, so maybe Blaine doesn't hate Rachel.

“But I was scared you wouldn't be my friend when you heard the things the other boys say.”

Blaine looks at him quizzically. “What boys? What do they say?”

He shrugs. “Dave and Sebastian. Sometimes Puck. Sometimes Finn.”

“What do they do?” he asks, hands tightly clenched around his forgotten mug of hot chocolate.

He shrugs again and won't meet Blaine's eyes. “They throw stuff. Sometimes they steal things from my desk. They make fun of my clothes. They call me names. Mean names.”

Blaine's eyebrows raise. “What? Why didn't you ever tell me?”

Kurt takes a sip from his mug. “This is good. Tell your mom thank you for the extra marshmallows.”

“Kurt, why didn't you ever tell me?” he repeats, not falling for the deflection.

“Because I didn't want you to know,” he whispers. “I don't want you to see me the way they see me.”

Blaine swallows around a lump in his throat. “I could never.”

Kurt nods, still not looking at Blaine.

“I couldn't,” he says. “I never would.”

Kurt looks up cautiously. “Okay.”

He sighs. “I wish you told me things. All things.”

“I do,” Kurt argues.

“Not everything,” Blaine counters.

Kurt doesn't say anything in response.

“Or I wish maybe you knew sign language so you could peek out your window at night and sign me stuff when you get upset.”

Kurt finally glances up and looks at him him curiously. “Do you know sign language? Would you even know what I was saying?”

“I could learn it, too,” he says defensively.

They both laugh and Blaine spills a little hot chocolate on Kurt's white carpet.

Kurt stops laughing and glares at him. “I lied, I don't want to be friends anymore.”

: : :

The Hummels come over for Christmas lunch and as soon as they get there, Kurt follows Blaine upstairs for their gift exchange. “You first,” Kurt says excitedly, cheeks still pink from the cold December snow.

Blaine grabs the heavy box and tears open the wrapping paper.

“Walkie Talkies!” Kurt tells him before he's even finished opening it.

Blaine lights up. “We have batteries downstairs! We can try them out before you go home!”

“Okay!” Kurt replies then gives him a small smile. “This way we don't have to learn sign language,” he says quietly.

Blaine beams at him then gestures to Kurt's present on the bed. “Your turn.”

He reaches his for his gift then stares at its contents once he's opened it. “Blaine,” he says, eyebrow arched. “What is this?”

“A hat!” Blaine explains, enthusiasm undeterred.

“Oh,” he says with a teasing grin. “Of course. I can see that now, a hat.” He pulls at the fabric and stretches it like maybe he's trying to figure out how it's possibly a hat.

Blaine watches him and gets another one of those warm feelings.

“Oh,” Kurt says, oblivious. “And you got me two, neat.”

“No, one's for me,” Blaine says, reaching forward and grabbing one. “We'll match.”

Kurt drops his hands and his look turns serious. “Blaine, they'll make fun of me even more.”

“They'll make fun of us,” he counters, putting it on. “I want them to see you the way I see you.”

Kurt shakes his head and laughs to himself. “Merry Christmas, Blaine.”

“Merry Christmas, Kurt,” he responds. The warm feeling sticks around for awhile.

Blaine wears the hat a few times but come springtime, he sticks the handkerchief and note inside. Then he steals the ornament and glitter tree from their box of Christmas decorations and wraps them inside, too. He gently places it in his top left desk drawer right next to his new Walkie Talkie.

: : :

Grade Six: Blue Christmas: (won't be the same if you're not here with me)

Blaine spends the next winter vacation at a ski resort. It's so very boring.

“This is so boring,” he whines to Kurt over the phone. “There's nothing to do and I want to go home.”

Kurt is quiet.

“There is nothing to do,” Blaine repeats. Just in case he did not fully understand the severity of having nothing to do the first time around.

“I'm sure that's not true,” Kurt replies and he does not sound concerned like, at all.

“It is true,” he argues. He flops down on the bed in the room he's sharing with Cooper. Cooper, who is currently being yelled at by their parents. Blaine is enjoying the alone time while he can.

Kurt sighs. “It's a ski resort. Go skiing.”

Blaine stares at the ceiling. “I did that already.”

“Okay. Then go ice skating.”

“I did that, too.”

Blaine can't see it but he assumes Kurt is rolling his eyes. “Don't they have those -- what are they called, the things that--”

“Inner tubes,” Blaine fills in.

“Those,” Kurt says. “Go tube … ing.”

“I did that, Kurt. All of those things.” He stares at the ceiling again. He is so bored.

“There has to be something, Blaine. Maybe go to the lodge --”

“I'm not going to sit in front of the fire and read, Kurt.”

Kurt lets out an exasperated sigh and doesn't say anything.

“Dad says I should go to one of those girls that massages --”

“A masseuse,” Kurt interrupts.

“Whatever,” Blaine says. It's his turn to roll his eyes. “But I'm in sixth grade. What sixth grader would want a massage?”

He hears Kurt let out a sigh. “I would.”

“Fine,” he replies, sitting up and scooting back against the head board. The ceiling has failed to bring any excitement into his life. “If we ever come back here then you have to promise to come with us so I won't be so bored. You can do the lame stuff like reading and I'll do the cool stuff like snowboarding and then afterward we can hang out.”

Kurt's about to agree (or so Blaine assumes because only a terrible friend would not make that promise) but then the shouting gets even louder. “What was that?” Kurt asks.

“Cooper,” Blaine sighs. “Mom and Dad walked in on him with some girl. We came back after supper and he was on the couch with one of those girls that massages -- a masseuse,” he corrects. Because he is a quick learner. “And she wasn't wearing a shirt.”

“Oh,” Kurt says after a long pause. “What … what did it look like?”

Blaine shrugs even though Kurt can't see him. “I don't know. Plain, I guess. White with blue buttons. It was short sleeved, though, which I thought --”

“Not the shirt,” Kurt interrupts. “I mean seeing a girl without a shirt.”

Blaine blinks and pauses. “Oh. I didn't really pay attention. Is that -- is that weird?”

Kurt's quiet. “I don't know. Maybe. I don't know.”

But the more he thinks about it, it probably is a little weird. “Would you have paid attention?”

He's quiet again. “I don't know.”

“Oh,” Blaine says again. It definitely might be weird and he actually might leave that part out if he tells the story to Artie or Sam. He shrugs to himself, though, because even if he is weird, so is his best friend. It's comforting.

They don't say anything for a few moments.

“How was the school dance?” Blaine asks finally. Surely Kurt must have some awesome gossip. All kinds of cool stuff happens at school dances or so the movies tell him.

“I don't know,” Kurt answers. Blaine hears some shuffling in the background and he wonders what Kurt's doing. It makes him feel lonely.

“You didn't go?” he replies skeptically. “Kurt, it's our very first middle school dance and you didn't go?”

“Who would I have gone with, Blaine?” he asks, almost sounding irritable.

“I would have gone with you,” he tells him. “If I was there.”

He huffs out a laugh. “That's not what I meant. I meant who would I go with, Blaine. Like who would go to the dance with me.”

Blaine's confused because yeah, that's exactly what he meant but whatever. “Well how about Mercedes? Or Tina? I bet they both would.”

“Tina had a date,” Kurt says. “Plus, I don't like her like that.”

Blaine thinks for a moment and lies back down on the bed. Maybe the ceiling will be a bit more interesting this time around. “But you two hang out all the time.”

“I know,” he says quietly. “But not like that. Is that -- do you think that's weird?”

Blaine shrugs and stares above. “I don't know.” And for some reason, he doesn't want to know the answer to the next question but asks it anyway. He whispers, “Do you like anyone that way?”

Kurt doesn't answer. “Do you?”

Blaine frowns and considers the question. “I don't think so.” Then he thinks about how much Artie talks about boobs and girls and how much Sam talks about Quinn and he realizes that maybe he and Kurt are weird. It makes him feel even lonelier still. “I can't wait to come home,” he sighs.

There's more shuffling on the other end and Blaine vaguely wonders if Kurt's also lying on his bed staring at the ceiling. “Me, too.”

Blaine clenches his jaw and hopes that this is the last Christmas they have to spend apart. (It is.)

: : :

The first thing Blaine does when he gets home is throw his duffel bag in his room and the second is run across the street to Kurt's house, clutching the present he bought for his best friend. Before he even gets there, Kurt throws the door open and offers Blaine a huge grin. “You're back!”

“I know!” he replies, returning the smile.

As soon as Blaine gets inside and the door is shut, Kurt turns and gives him a fierce hug. They hold on tightly until he sees Mr. Hummel out of the corner of his eye.

“Hey there, kiddo,” he says with an awkward wave. “Glad to see you're back.”

“Me, too,” Blaine agrees, still grinning.

Mr. Hummel watches them for a few moments and Blaine isn't sure what to make of it but before he can waste much time on it, Kurt grabs his wrist and pulls him upstairs.

They quickly settle on the floor facing each other and Kurt opens his gift barely sparing the wrapping a second glance like he usually does. “God, it's heavy, Blaine, what did you even get?” he mutters before pulling the snow globe out of the box. He stares at it, eyes wide.

“It's weird, I know!” Blaine apologizes. “But don't you think that they--”

“Those houses look like our houses,” Kurt says aloud.

“I know!” he says, excited. “They're facing each other and the doors are both red!”

Kurt looks up to meet his eyes and he's giving Blaine a soft smile. “It's lovely, thank you.”

“It's a little weird, I know --”

“I'm keeping it up all year,” Kurt tells him, still smiling. “Your turn.”

Blaine doesn't need to be told twice to open a gift. He tears through the paper to find a framed picture of the two of them standing on either side of a snowman. “This is awesome, Kurt! I remember those blue mittens!”

Kurt smiles harder. “It's a few years old. I had to ask your mom for the picture.”

“It's great,” he says, meeting Kurt's eyes. “And I'll put it up as soon as I get back. It'll be nice since the only picture I have in my room is that Glamor Shot photo Cooper gave me of himself.”

Kurt's smile softens again. “That's a good photo. You're lucky.”

Blaine narrows his eyes and his smile fades. “Stop liking my brother more than me.”

Kurt laughs and doesn't respond. “How is he, anyway? Is he grounded?”

He puts the frame down carefully and leans back on his elbows. “Yeah. Mom says he's on babysitting duty for a month which is so dumb since I am eleven and no one my age needs babysitters anymore.”

Kurt frowns. “That's stupid, you're right.”

“And then,” Blaine continues, “he complained that it wasn't fair and Mom told him that what would be fair is to make out with Dad right in front of him.”

They both grimace.

“Gross,” Kurt says.

“I know,” Blaine agrees.

They're both quiet for a few moments.

“Puck got in trouble at the dance for making out,” Kurt says to break the silence. “Tina told me the teachers found him behind the bleachers with an eighth grader.”

Blaine grimaces some more.

“And a bunch of cheerleaders were caught, too,” Kurt adds, looking away.

Blaine rolls his eyes. “Why is everyone so obsessed with making out now?” He thinks for a few seconds. “Are you?

Kurt looks at him, wide eyed. “No! I think it sounds gross.”

“You do?”

He shrugs. “It doesn't seem sanitary. I have my own germs; I don't need someone else's, too.”

Blaine mulls that over and agrees. “Are you nervous for your first kiss?”

Kurt shrugs again. “I don't know. Are you?”

Blaine mulls that over, too. “I don't know.” He doesn't really think much about his first kiss. There's no one he likes enough to start worrying about it. He starts think about Kurt's first kiss, though, and that actually does make him think. He wonders if it'll be Mercedes or maybe Tina or ew, even Rachel. A weird feeling settles in the pit of his stomach. He doesn't want Kurt to have a first kiss with Rachel. With any of them.

“Maybe we should do it,” Blaine suggests, not sure where the thought comes from.

Kurt chokes out a response. “What?”

“That way we know what we're doing,” Blaine explains. “When we have our actual first kiss.”

“Oh,” Kurt says, side-eyeing him.

“We'll be better at it and we won't be as nervous, right?”

“Right,” Kurt agrees slowly.

Blaine swallows and his hands are suddenly sweaty. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Kurt echoes. Neither of them move.

They watch each other for what seems like an hour. Finally Blaine slowly leans forward and Kurt eventually meets him halfway.

“Ready?” Blaine whispers.

Kurt gives a small, barely-there nod.

And Blaine closes the distance. It's quick, just his mouth pressed up against Kurt's. Neither of them move for a few moments. They pull back slightly and he sees Kurt's eyes are just as wide as his, cheeks just as pink. They watch each other.

“Ready again?” he says softly.

Kurt nods again.

They lean back in and this time, Blaine opens his mouth just a little and Kurt gasps, suddenly pulling away. He scoots away until his back is pressed against his bed.

“See?” Blaine says nervously. “A real kiss. Now we know what to expect for our actual first kiss.”

Kurt nods, face flushed, as he draws his legs to his chest.

Blaine stares at him and tries to figure out if what they just did was weird. It doesn't feel weird but he knows he wouldn't kiss Sam like that. He wouldn't kiss Sam at all, actually. And he really desperately hopes Kurt wouldn't kiss any of his other friends like that, either. But despite all of those things, it doesn't feel weird.

“Are you okay?” Blaine whispers.

Kurt nods, still silent.

“Are you going to tell anyone?” he asks, still whispering.

Kurt swallows and looks away. “Do you not want me to?”

“I don't know,” he answers.

“Are you embarrassed?” he asks, still not meeting his eyes.

Blaine frowns. “No,” he answers honestly, voice soft. “But I like having secrets with you. I always like secrets better with you.”

He looks at Blaine and smiles. “Okay. Our secret,” he says quietly. Blaine smiles back, cheeks still flushed.

Later, he puts the picture of the two of them up on his desk and every time he sees it, a warm happy feeling settles in his stomach and his heart momentarily beats just a little faster.

: : :

Grade Seven: White Christmas: (may all your Christmases be white)

“I love snow days,” Blaine says as he makes his way into Kurt's room and throws himself across the bed. It's the very first one of seventh grade and he intends to make it count.

Kurt startles from where he's looking out the window. “What?”

“Snow days,” Blaine repeats. “I love them.”

“Oh,” he answers, looking back out the window and sounding distracted. “Right.”

Blaine sits up and gives him a quizzical look. “What's out there?” Because when he came over, there was nothing outside except for Finn playing Frisbee with Puck in the front yard and -- oh. “You're watching Finn?” he asks irritably, flopping back down.

“What? No,” Kurt answers sharply. “Why would I do that?”

Because you're always watching him, Blaine thinks, rolling his eyes. Instead, he says, “Is he going to be here all day?”

Kurt shrugs and Blaine can tell he's forcing himself to not look out the window. “I have no idea.”

Blaine internally groans. Now that their parents have started dating, Finn is at the house like, all of the time. He probably wouldn't mind it as much if Kurt didn't treat him like he walked on water.

“Come on,” he says, trying to distract Kurt. “Let's watch Home Alone. I haven't seen it yet this year.”

He hums a response and glances out the window again.

“Kurt,” he says a little more forcefully. “Let's go make hot chocolate.”

He hums again, not even bothering to pretend he's paying attention.

“Kurt,” Blaine grits out. “Stop.”

He must hear something in the tone of Blaine's voice because he looks up right then, eyes wide.

“What is your deal with him, anyways?” he asks. “Do you --” But he doesn't know how to finish the question.

Kurt swallows and takes a deep breath. “Do I what?”

Blaine refuses to break eye contact. This is important. “Do you -- you know -- do you like him?”

Kurt stares back at him and straightens up. “And what if I do?” he asks.

Blaine scrunches his face in distaste. “Then ew, Kurt.”

He flinches and stares at his hands. “You think it's gross.”

“Yes,” he laughs humorlessly. “He doesn't brush his teeth on weekends. And remember when he wore the same boxers for three weeks because he thought it would be good luck for that stupid science test?” The one he failed anyway, Blaine doesn't add.

Kurt looks up cautiously.

“And Kurt, there are things growing -- legitimately growing, okay -- in both his actual locker and his gym locker,” Blaine continues. Ugh, he cannot even describe how gross he find this.

Kurt blinks. “So you think I'm gross for liking Finn or I'm gross for liking … a boy?”

Blaine stares at him and has an overwhelming urge to hug him. Kurt's closed off right now, though, and he knows him well enough to hold off for awhile. “I don't think you're gross.”

“No?” he asks, tentative.

“No,” Blaine reassures him. He hesitates then: “But Kurt, come on, aim higher.”

Kurt ducks his head and Blaine can't see his face. It feels eerily familiar and he's reminded of that moment years ago with two boys standing on a stage in front of a row of risers.

They're both quiet until he looks up and meets Blaine's eyes. His eyes are wet. “Blaine,” he whispers. “I think that I like boys.”

He watches Kurt carefully. “Okay,” he whispers back.

Kurt visibly relaxes. “That's okay?”

Blaine nods. “Of course it is. You're my best friend.”

He ducks his head again and laughs. “Okay.”

“But I mean it,” Blaine continues after a long pause, “Aim higher.” He's joking mostly but something about it bothers him. He can't put his finger on it but he hates that Kurt likes Finn of all people. Finn.

Kurt chokes out a laugh.

Because ew, Finn. He could have at least chosen Mike because he looks like one of those dancers on TV and Blaine knows he'll be one of those guys with abs and biceps when they get older. Or Sam even, because he has good hair and good arms. Or hell, even Artie, who has really good teeth and rocks the whole nerdy glasses thing --

And it all snaps into place.

“Oh,” he says. “Me, too.”

“What?” Kurt asks, confused.

“Me, too,” Blaine repeats, slightly dazed. “I knew there was something but I didn't know what and then you said that and I started thinking and then I realized ...”

“You like Finn?” Kurt says, giving him a skeptical look.

“Boys,” Blaine clarifies. “I like boys.” He smiles, relieved. It feels good to think, to say, to know.

“You do?” he asks, hushed.

“I do,” Blaine answers, grinning. He thinks about it for a moment. “Does anyone else know?”

Kurt shakes his head. “Just you,” he replies.

Blaine keeps on grinning. “I like when you just tell me stuff.”

Kurt cocks his head. “So I can talk to you about Finn? Stuff no one else knows?”

His smile falters. “I really wished you liked someone other than Finn.”

Kurt glares. “Blaine.”

“What?” he asks, exasperated, falling back onto the bed. “Why him?”

“Blaine,” he says again.

“What?” he repeats. “It's Finn.”

Kurt shakes his head. “I hate you.”

Blaine looks over to meet his eyes then smiles. “You don't.”

He laughs and gets up from his spot to lie down next to Blaine on the bed. “You're right; I don't.”

Blaine turns on his side to look at him and then Kurt shifts to turn and look at Blaine. They watch each other and for some reason, his face heats up. “You can always tell me stuff,” he reminds Kurt. “All stuff.”

Kurt smiles softly. “I know.”

They watch each other for awhile. “Do you think about it?” Blaine finally asks. “Kissing him?”

Kurt laughs nervously then looks away. “Blaine. I don't know.”

“You do,” he realizes. His stomach feels funny.

Kurt laughs nervously again but doesn't say anything. Blaine watches him.

“Have you kissed anyone yet?” he asks, even though he knows the answer. Kurt would have told him immediately.

Kurt looks back at him and gives a shy smile. “Just once.”

Blaine swallows. “That wasn't a real kiss.”

Kurt sits up and looks down at him. “You said that it was last year.”

“Yeah,” Blaine says, sitting up to maintain eye contact. “But we're older now.”

Kurt watches him expectantly.

“And they -- there's open mouthed kissing now,” he explains.

He inhales sharply.

“Do you want to do it? Just once?” he asks.

Kurt doesn't say anything.

“That way you'll know what to do if Finn ever wants to kiss you.” For some reason, it feels like manipulation and Blaine feels uncomfortable about it but whatever, he's still following through.

Kurt contemplates it then gives him a small nod. “Okay,” he whispers.

“Okay?” Blaine repeats, surprised.

“Okay,” he says, even quieter than the first time.

Blaine scrambles up so that he's facing Kurt as they sit only a few inches from each other on the bed. For some reason, his hands are a little shaky.

Kurt waits for Blaine to make the first move, eyes wide. They're both intensely quiet, the ticking of the wall clock serving as the only noise in the room.

“On the count of three,” Blaine says.

“I don't know what to do,” Kurt admits as Blaine starts to lean forward. “I don't know where my hands go.”

“Oh,” he replies as he glances down to see Kurt's hands resting uselessly on his lap. And then he realizes he's looking at Kurt's lap as they talk about kissing each other right after they told each other that they like boys. His eyes dart back up and his cheeks start to burn.

They watch each other for a few more seconds and Kurt swallows.

“Well,” Blaine starts, voice a little strained. “I remember Cooper had his hand on her face.”

Kurt's eyebrows furrow together.

“Like, on her cheek,” he tries to explain. He shifts forward and slowly, tentatively cups Kurt's jaw. Kurt blinks rapidly in response. And then he quickly whispers, “One two three.”

They both lean in and Blaine watches as Kurt squeezes his eyes shut before he decides to close his own. At first, it's just like the kiss from last year, lips pressed up against each other, unmoving. After a few moments, Blaine slowly parts his lips and waits a few more seconds for Kurt to do the same. His heart is pounding which makes no sense since they're best friends and do all kinds of stuff together and it's not like they're boyfriends or whatever. Kurt's breathing turns a little shallow and Blaine takes that as his cue to go that last step. He moves his tongue just fractionally but it touches Kurt's and immediately they both gasp and jump away from each other. Kurt startles so much that he almost falls off the bed and Blaine has to reach out and grab him. They stare at each other and Blaine can feel his face on fire.

Suddenly they hear a yell from outside followed by loud laughter. Blaine rolls his eyes because Finn and Puck are the worst friends to each other ever since clearly someone just got hurt playing snow Frisbee and the other laughed at his misfortune. What a strange friendship. He thinks about how he and Kurt just open-mouthed kissed each other, though, and realizes that maybe they're a little strange, too.

As their eyes meet again, Kurt cracks a smile and Blaine struggles to hold back a laugh. Within a few moments, they're both giggling. He's not sure if they're laughing away the tension from their first open-mouthed kiss or if they're laughing at the ridiculousness of Finn and Puck's deranged idea of fun, or if they're laughing because they have another secret, just the two of them, but either way they're laughing and Blaine feels warm and giddy.

He certainly makes the snow day count. He's vaguely aware that no other snow day will measure up ever.

: : :

Their gift giving is a little unorthodox that year. They decide to have a Secret Santa. It's truly horrible.

They're sitting in Rachel's basement in a circle around a small pile of gifts. Artie goes first and tears open his small package (which Blaine can tell is from Kurt because he knows these things after eight years of friendship) and his expectant grin falls completely off his face as he sees what's inside.

“These are … gloves,” he says, face basically devoid of all emotion.

“They're stylish gloves,” Kurt interjects, eyebrow raised.

“Right,” Artie says slowly.

“Well you were saying you needed new ones,” Sam adds helpfully, gesturing to the brown battered pair he's currently got on.

“Uh huh,” he replies. He glances up at Kurt. “These are … rad. Thanks.”

Kurt doesn't say anything but he leans in close to Blaine and says, “That leather took me about three hours to bedazzle.”

Blaine laughs and ducks his head. “They look fantastic.”

It's Mike's turn and he opens Blaine's gift, a pair of simple, classic, red suspenders. “Thanks!” he says to Blaine. He smiles in response. Suspenders are universal. Everyone needs more suspenders in their life.

“I wrapped it,” he whispers to Kurt.

Kurt side-eyes him. “Stop saying that every year.”

He grins at him then leans forward to grab the box in the middle with his name and quickly rips open wrapping paper to reveal … a pair of suspenders. “Thanks!” he says back to Mike. “Everyone needs more suspenders in their life.”

“So true,” he replies.

As Sam opens his gift from someone, Blaine watches Kurt stare covetously at his new suspenders. They're blue with polka dots and Kurt would undeniably rock them. He ignores both Sam and Rachel's gifts in favor of contemplating what type of shirt Kurt would wear under the suspenders. And what kind of shoes. And if he would maybe wear a hat.

He's jarred from his thoughts as Kurt leans forward to grab his present. It's small and thin and looks suspiciously like a DVD. He's careful about the wrapping paper just like he is every year. He stares at it for a moment before holding it up. “Call of Duty 4,” he informs everyone.

Blaine chokes back a laugh because that has to be from Artie and oh my god seriously.

“I -- don't actually know what to say,” he says. He must come to the same conclusion Blaine has because he looks over at Artie and continues, “Thank you. Truly ... rad.

Artie shrugs. “I know it's Blaine's favorite and I figured you two must play it all the time.”

Kurt blinks. “What kind of logic were you using?”

“You two are alone in his room all the time, right?” Artie explains. “So what else could you possibly be doing?”

Blaine feels Kurt stiffen next to him. “Oh,” he chokes out. “Right.”

He feels his cheeks get red as Kurt thanks Artie again.

Later that night after Kurt's dad picks them both up, they have an impromptu gift exchange in Blaine's bedroom, just the two of them. “Here's the game,” Kurt says, handing Call of Duty 4 over. “You'll get more use out of it than I will.”

“Thanks,” Blaine says, reaching out to accept it. “And take these suspenders.”

“What? No, those are --”

“Take them,” he says, holding them out further. “They'll look better on you anyways.”

He smiles at Blaine and his cheeks get a little pink. “Okay. Thank you.”

Their hands brush for a moment as he passes them to Kurt. Blaine's stomach does some weird swoopy thing.

For some reason, Blaine thinks of that snow day every time he plays Call of Duty 4.

: : :

Grade Eight: Winter Wonderland: (a beautiful sight; we're happy tonight)

“We don't need babysitters. We're teenagers now,” Blaine grumbles to Kurt as they walk downtown. Supervised by Cooper.

Kurt smiles. “It's not all that bad.”

He rolls his eyes. “We've talked about this, remember? You're not allowed to like him more than you like me.”

“I don't!” Kurt argues. But he doesn't present a counter-argument or provide a lengthy explanation as to why he's following Cooper around in a dreamy trance.

It's supposed be a fun night as they walk around downtown to look at the light display the city puts on the weekend before Christmas. There's a huge decorated tree in the middle of the town square and all of the shops and houses are decorated with icicle lights and flashing lawn figurines. There are vendors selling hot chocolate and apple cider and Blaine's old enough to know that it'll be something really romantic to do when he gets older, maybe in high school or sometime he's not there with his brother and his best friend.

His best friend who is still mooney-eyed over his brother, ugh.

Blaine tries to join the conversation but it's basically one-sided like it usually is. Cooper's talking about the new part he landed in his high school's production of Midsummer's Night Dream (and god, it's not even a speaking part but Blaine isn't enough of a jerk to point that out) and Kurt is trailing behind, attention rapt. “So what was your audition piece?” Kurt asks, voice dreamy. Gross.

“It's not even a speaking part!” Blaine says accidentally.

But Cooper lets it slide and Kurt's barely paying attention to him anyway.

So Cooper and Kurt go back to talking about Cooper.

After about five minutes of sheer boredom on Blaine's part, they pause at a crosswalk and wait for the light to turn green. He looks to his left to see a hot chocolate vendor and elbows Kurt. “Want some hot chocolate?”

Cooper stops talking long enough for Kurt to remember that Blaine is still right next to him and he smiles. “Sure,” he answers.

So Blaine buys them both a styrofoam cup of hot chocolate but leaves Cooper to pay for his own. As Blaine hands over Kurt's cup, Cooper eyes them curiously. “What?” Blaine asks, defensive.

He shrugs and for once in his life, doesn't say anything.

When they cross the street, they join the crowd that's paused outside of the library to admire its elaborate display of a well-timed light show and Blaine turns to watch Kurt. “This is nice,” he whispers.

Kurt turns his head and they stare at each for a few seconds. Blaine swallows thickly and feels his hands get clammy when Kurt gives him a smile. He reaches his hand out slightly and pulls Kurt's gloved hand into his own. They've held hands a million times before but for some reason it seems different this time. Maybe it's because they're in eighth grade and eighth graders don't really hold hands anymore. Kurt doesn't act weird, though, so Blaine thinks maybe it's all in his head and not that different at all.

They watch the rest of the light show just like that and Blaine doesn't let go of his hand until he sees Cooper giving him that same curious look.

“Oh, there's Rachel,” Kurt says, pointing across the street. She's walking down the sidewalk with Finn, hand in hand.

“With Finn,” Blaine observes.

He nods. “They're going out now, I think.”

“Oh,” Blaine replies with a smile. “Guess she's over that crush on you then.”

Kurt rolls his eyes and gives Blaine a gentle shove. “She did not have a crush on me.”

Blaine laughs. “Kurt, she was always asking you to do things with her. Didn't you see RENT with her a few weeks ago?” It's not really a question, though, because Blaine knows the answer. Yes, Kurt did go to the theater with her because he did that instead of movie night at Blaine's house with Sam and Artie. Not that Blaine's keeping track or whatever. Because he totally isn't.

Kurt shoves him a little again and Blaine's about to cite another example of when he chose Rachel over him but stops when he sees Cooper giving them yet another strange look. “What?” he asks irritably.

Cooper shrugs again. “I didn't say anything.”

“Your eyes said plenty,” Blaine mutters. “And they were your judgey eyes.”

They continue walking through town and when they stop to admire the Twelve Days of Christmas light display out in front of the park, Blaine almost reaches for Kurt's hand again. But doesn't.

He does give him a goodbye hug when they get back to Kurt's house, though, and for some reason, holds on for a moment longer than normal before letting go. Kurt's cheeks are a little pink but maybe it's just from the wind.

They turn to cross the street towards their own house and Cooper clears his throat. Blaine rolls his eyes in anticipation for whatever crap Cooper's about to say.

“A little jealous of that Rachel girl, don't you think?” he asks.

He shakes his head to himself. “Whatever, Coop. You don't know anything.”

“I know you sounded like you don't want to share your best friend.” He turns to look at Blaine and great, there are the judgey eyes all over again.

“I can share,” Blaine argues. “We share all the time.”

Cooper ignores him for a moment as he unlocks the front door and makes his way into the kitchen. Blaine follows him but isn't sure why.

“You know you'll have to share someday, right, Squirt?”

“Don't call me that,” he replies, moving towards the the cupboard for a glass. “And I told you, I already share now.”

Cooper leans against the counter and watches Blaine move around the kitchen. “You share,” he says after awhile.

“What?” Blaine asks, equal parts annoyed and confused. He takes his water into the living room and this time, it's Cooper that does the following.

You share him with other people,” Cooper explains. “Someday someone else will be the one doing the sharing.”

“You're not even making sense,” he tells him, now more annoyed than confused. He takes a seat on the couch and grabs the remote.

Cooper does a hop/skip/jump thing over the back of the couch and lands next to Blaine because he apparently can't walk around it like a normal human being.

“Someday someone will be sharing him with you,” Cooper finishes.

Blaine's quiet and turns on the TV.

“Someday he'll get some fancy boyfriend with dashing good looks and a winning personality, someone that sweeps him off his feet and buys him --”

“Okay,” Blaine interrupts. “I get the point.”

Cooper leans back and props his feet atop the coffee table. “And he'll be the one sharing his boyfriend with you.”

Blaine glares at the TV even though the TV didn't really do anything wrong. And then suddenly, Cooper's words hit him like a brick. Boyfriend. His eyes widen because he's never told anyone what Kurt told him last year. Never.

“How did you -- I didn't say -- who did --” he asks, frantic.

“Whoa whoa,” Cooper says, grabbing the remote from Blaine's hands. Normally he hates that but there's a more pressing issue at the moment. “Let's just say I had a hunch.”

Blaine still feels panicky. “Are you -- you're not going to tell anyone are you?”

Cooper gives him a skeptical look. “What? No.”

They're quiet for a few minutes. “It doesn't -- bother you?” Blaine asks finally.

“I'm in show biz,” Cooper says by way of an answer. “It's like being a chef that hates food.”

Blaine furrows his eyebrows together trying to figure out what the heck that means.

Cooper's quiet for a long time like maybe he's waiting for Blaine to say something.

“I --” Blaine starts.

Cooper turns to him expectantly and waits.

“I think maybe --” he tries again.

Cooper waits some more.

He looks down at his lap and plays with his hands. “Me, too, Coop. I'm like Kurt. It's -- I like boys, too.”

Cooper nods and gives him a crooked smile. “Thanks for telling me, little brother.”

Blaine goes to return the smile but then Cooper reaches over and pushes Blaine's hair all around and totally messes it up and god his brother sucks.

He huffs and pushes him away then turns back towards the TV. Cooper watches something lame but Blaine gets lost in his thoughts and doesn't complain.

Because he's right, as much as Blaine hates admitting his brother is right. Kurt will meet someone someday. Someone that sweeps him off his feet and holds his hand at romantic light displays and kisses him and has meaningful gift exchanges every Christmas. Blaine's stomach is suddenly very unsettled and he wonders what was in that hot chocolate to make him feel so sick.

And he's sort of hung up on the kissing thing. Someone will want to kiss Kurt all the time. Under the mistletoe, on New Year's Eve, on his bed. Someday Kurt will have sex. Blaine's face heats up and the hot chocolate makes him feel even sicker.

And Kurt will only have sex with someone he's in love with, Blaine knows that. So the logical conclusion is that someday Kurt will be in love with someone.

Blaine sits very still on the couch as that thought runs around his brain. That happy warm feeling he usually gets when he thinks about Kurt is nowhere to be found.

: : :

They do their gift exchange in Kurt's room, both still wearing their pajamas.

Blaine opens his first. His eyes light up when he pulls out a pale green bowtie. “Kurt,” he says on an exhale. “It's perfect.” He's always wanted a real bowtie, not one of those kiddie clip-ons.

“We start high school next year,” Kurt says. “We'll have an opportunity to re-invent ourselves.”

Blaine gives him a quizzical look. “I don't want you to re-invent yourself,” he tells him. “I want you just the way you are.”

Kurt laughs it off. “Fine, we can revamp our wardrobe, does that sound better?”

He thinks about it for a moment then grins. “I like it.”

Kurt returns the grin. “I think you'll look great in bowties.”

“Yeah?” he asks, suddenly self-conscious. “You do?”

“Of course,” Kurt says. “You'll look like some kind of 1950s iconic legend and everyone will fall in love with you.”

He's teasing but Blaine basks in the flattery anyway.

“Well then I'll wear them all the time if you think I'll look that good.”

Kurt rolls his eyes fondly then holds his hand out expectantly. Blaine hands the box over, already nervous. “I even wrap--” he starts.

“Don't,” Kurt warns. He peels off the wrapping carefully and pulls out a mug. It's one of those weird mugs that a kiosk in the mall makes, the ones that take a picture and laser a copy onto the white porcelain, the kind that some kid buys that says Number One Grandpa! or whatever. Not the kind of mug a thirteen year old should buy for his best friend.

So Blaine cringes.

Kurt laughs when he looks at it.

And Blaine cringes some more.

“What are we even wearing? And what's wrong with your hair?” Kurt laughs. It takes Blaine a minute to figure out that Kurt's laughing at the picture on the mug, not the mug itself.

Blaine grins. “I found it in a box of my mom's old pictures. It was after that spelling bee in second grade, don't you remember?”

“I remember,” Kurt murmurs, still turning the mug over in his hands.

“And it was the year I wouldn't let my mom cut my hair.”

“I remember that, too,” Kurt says, eyebrow raised.

He watches him for a few moments until Kurt looks up to meet his eyes. “So,” Blaine asks tentatively. “You like it?”

“Blaine,” he says softly. “I love it.”

“I know it's dumb --”

“It's not. I said I love it --”

“-- But I want you to have something in your house that reminds you of me.”

Kurt falters. “Are you … going somewhere?”

“No,” Blaine rushes to say. “But someday you might not live across the street from me and you might -- live with someone else.” He stumbles over his words but tries to play it off.

Kurt cocks his head. “I don't need a mug to remember you.”

“I know,” he says, rueful. “I know you don't.”

“Okay,” Kurt says slowly.

Blaine doesn't tell him that he partially got the mug so that someday, some guy will know that once upon a time, Blaine was the most important person in Kurt's life, not him, whoever he may be. More than ever, he feels like the epitome of a petulant, selfish teenager.

“Let's watch Rudolph or something,” Blaine suggests suddenly. Kurt eyes him but agrees and they lie on his floor staring up at the TV, sides pressed against each other. Just like old times.

Blaine loves his new bowtie and eventually gets so so many more to jump start his wardrobe but he knows that the first one will always be his favorite. He only wears it on special -- very special -- occasions and when he's not wearing it, he doesn't keep it in his closet with the rest of them. He ties it around the Walkie Talkie that he keeps in his top left desk drawer.

: : :

Grade Nine: All I Want For Christmas Is You: (just want you for my own)

Blaine Anderson is in love.

“I am in love,” he tells Kurt as he breezes into the room where Kurt's already waiting on Blaine's bed.

“Oh?” Kurt asks with a shy smile.

“I'm only a freshman and I'm already in love,” he says again, throwing himself onto his bed. He stares at the ceiling with a grin.

“Anyone I know?” Kurt asks, kicking his smile up a notch. He's fidgety.

Blaine thinks for a minute. “I don't know. He's a junior. Do you remember him? Jeremiah?”

Kurt stills suddenly and his smile falters. “What?”

“We're lab partners in Bio, Kurt,” he says, still grinning up at the ceiling. “How romantic is that?”

“Earthworm dissection, ” Kurt mutters. “The very definition of romance.”

But Blaine doesn't pay him much attention. “Jeremiah. What a cool name.”

Kurt wrinkles his nose in distaste. “Jeremiah -- the one with the hair?”

“He has hair, yes,” Blaine answers, defensive. Sure, his hair isn't as nice and shiny and perfect as Kurt's is but it's still … okay.

“He's a junior in a class full of freshman,” Kurt reminds him.

“I know,” Blaine says, still defensive. He's well aware that Jeremiah's academic level isn't quite where Kurt's is but whatever, no one's totally perfect.

“So what's the allure then?” he asks, irritable.

Blaine shrugs and grins up at the ceiling again. Love needs no explanation or justification. “I am in love,” he says again.

Kurt lets out an annoyed sigh. “You can stop repeating yourself anytime now. I get it.”

“Sorry,” Blaine says, looking over to meet Kurt's eyes. “But don't worry; you'll meet someone and fall madly in love, too. I just know it.”

Kurt blinks then looks away and breaks the gaze. “I'm not worried about that,” he says.

Blaine watches him for a few seconds, not sure why Kurt looks so sad. He sees the clock out of the corner of his eye, though, and immediately sits up. “Oh my god, I'm going to be late!” He scrambles off the bed and heads to his closet to find a better bowtie than the lame pink one he has on. Jeremiah's already seen that one.

“For what?” Kurt asks, confused. “Dinner doesn't start until six.”

“Oh. I can't go to Friday dinner tonight,” Blaine says over his shoulder.

Kurt is quiet. “Why?”

“We're meeting up for coffee. A date, Kurt, my very first date!” he says excitedly. He turns briefly to face Kurt who does not seem to share Blaine's enthusiasm. He shrugs it off and goes back to finding the perfect tie.

“You're skipping Friday dinner for a coffee date with some guy in your science class.”

Blaine pauses, aware of how upset he sounds. “Tell your dad and Carole I'm really sorry,” he says with an apologetic frown. “I really am, Kurt.”

Kurt blinks a few times. “Fine. Enjoy your date.” He stands and heads towards the doorway but stops a few feet short. “Your present is over by the desk. We were supposed to do our gift exchange tonight so I brought it over.”

“Crap, I totally forgot,” Blaine says and immediately regrets it when he sees Kurt flinch. “But here, I have yours, too.”

He grabs the gift card off the desk and hands it to him. “It's to the Lima Bean,” he says.

Kurt takes the card from him and stares at it. He's frozen.

“You know, since we've been going there after school lately. I know you love their hot chocolate.”

He stares at it for a few more moments and Blaine wishes he could see his face. Kurt finally looks up and his eyes are a little wet. Not the good kind of teary, though, Blaine can tell. “Thank you,” he says softly.

Blaine nods. He feels terrible but can't quite place why.

They stare at each other and Kurt watches him like he's waiting for something. When nothing happens, he says good night and leaves the room.

Blaine stares at the empty doorway for a moment before snapping out of it and getting back to the business at hand. He needs a bowtie. He needs a bowtie urgently. Because this date will be the best date ever

… except for the part where it apparently wasn't actually a date. Or so Jeremiah told him pretty much two minutes after they sat down. It was coffee between lab partners, he had clarified. They talked about Biology. And their upcoming lab assignment. And the subsequent paper. And about how Jeremiah would basically be cool with Blaine doing like, everything, if he were so inclined.

Blaine calls Kurt as soon as he's back in his bedroom and he answers the phone just as Blaine's dropping dejectedly onto his mattress. He recounts the sad miserable tragedy of his not-date while Kurt listens patiently and he remembers all over again how lucky he is to have a best friend like Kurt.

“So,” Blaine sighs. “Dinner still at six? I'll head over in a few minutes.”

There's silence on the other end.

“Kurt?”

He's still quiet. “We're not there,” he says finally. “Dad and Carole decided to go out on a date night.”

“Oh,” he replies. “Well we can still hang out, right?” He waits for Kurt to agree.

“Finn and I are going to a movie,” Kurt says instead.

“Oh,” he says again. “What movie?”

“The Zac Efron one.”

Blaine raises his eyebrows. Finn agreed to see that movie? What the hell? “I said I'd see that with you. It looks really good.” And really good is probably an overstatement but still, they said they'd see it together.

Kurt's quiet again. “Sorry, it was sort of last minute.”

Blaine sits up and waits for Kurt to invite him. Which he totally doesn't.

“Okay,” Blaine says slowly.

“I'll call you later, Blaine,” he says quickly. “We're about to head into the theater -- god, Finn, did you seriously think you needed that much butter? No, stop, get away from me. You'll be sitting two seats over, I swear to god.”

Blaine swallows thickly. “Okay,” he says again. “I'll -- talk to you later I guess.”

“Talk to you later,” he echoes and then the line is dead.

Blaine lies back down and stares at his ceiling. His eyes sting.

Finn? He's spending a Friday night at a movie with his step-brother? Finn?

He stares some more.

His phone beeps with a text message and he looks down to where it's still clutched in his left hand but it's just Artie so he ignores it. Then he ignores two texts from Sam. And another one from Artie. Finally, Mike calls.

“Hello,” Blaine sighs.

Mike pauses before answering. “You okay?”

“Fine,” he answers.

“Okay,” Mike says. “We need a fourth player. Come over after your date.”

He sighs again. “No date. It's already over. My non-date is over.”

Mike's quiet.

“Basically he wants me to do our science homework for the rest of the semester. And needed to tell me that over hot chocolate.”

“That sucks, man.”

Blaine shrugs.

Mike clears his throat. “Well, okay. Then come over after dinner at Kurt's.”

“No dinner, either,” Blaine tells him. “He went to a movie. With Finn.

“Uh. Okay,” he says, sounding a little awkward.

Blaine sighs, exasperated. “I hate today.”

He hears some shuffling on the phone and suddenly Sam's voice is in his ear. “Are you moping? Stop moping.”

“I'm not moping,” he argues, defensive. “I'm just bummed, okay. I've never been blown off like that before.”

Sam sighs. “Dude, relax. There's other fish in the sea. Or more fish in the sea. Whatever.”

“More fish?” he asks and yeah, he's well aware of how high pitched his voice suddenly becomes. “Seriously? We've been best friends since we were five. I don't need other fish.”

Sam pauses. “Wait. Are we talking about Jeremiah here? Or Kurt?”

Kurt,” Blaine says, annoyed.

“Uh, okay,” he says, sounding confused. “So Jeremiah totally ruined your non-date then told you to do his schoolwork and Kurt's the one you're moping about?”

Blaine clenches his jaw and sits up on the bed. “I told you, I'm not moping.”

Sam ignores him. “Don't you think that's weird?”

“Of course it's weird,” he huffs. “That's what I'm telling you. He's never blown me off like that before and--”

“No,” he interrupts. “I mean weird that you had a crappy date with some guy you couldn't shut up about all day today and it's Kurt that you're--”

Before he can finish, there's more scuffling and Mike is back on the line. “Come play. Artie is terrible at this game.”

There's some indignant shouting in the background.

“Invite some girls over,” Blaine suggests. “Artie always plays better when there are girls to impress.”

“Blaine. Just come over--”

“Good night, Mike.”

So Blaine goes back to not-moping and alternates between staring at the ceiling and at his window.

“I hate today,” he says to no one in particular.

: : :

It's not until noon the next day when Blaine remembers the gift exchange. He's downstairs reading a magazine and waiting for Kurt to call when he suddenly thinks of the package sitting upstairs on his desk chair. He books it to his room and sits on the floor as he hastily tears at the wrapping paper.

He opens the box to find a scrapbook and it's stunning. He opens the cover and stares at the first page for two minutes straight, a picture of them standing side-by-side at the kindergarten Christmas Program, grainy and unfocused. Blaine's never seen it before so it must have been one that Kurt found while going through his mom's old pictures.

He spends the next twenty minutes soaking in each page. Kurt's found old photos and movie stubs, the Playbill from when their parents took them to New York a few summers ago. He's immortalized everything.

It's a breathtaking summary of the past decade.

And Blaine got Kurt a gift card.

The shame bubbles up so intensely and so quickly and Blaine doesn't realize he's left his room until he's standing at the Hummel front door. He's not even wearing a jacket.

Mr. Hummel answers the door and nods his head as soon as he sees Blaine, saying, “They're upstairs. Tell them to keep down the singing, will you?”

Blaine doesn't move. They?

Mr. Hummel stares at him for a few seconds until Blaine snaps out of it and steps inside. “Yes, sir.”

As he makes his way upstairs, he hears several voices coming from Kurt's room. He's not sure why but he feels even queasier than he did five minutes ago.

He knocks on the door and suddenly the room quiets. He only waits for a few seconds before Rachel answers the door. He gives her a weak smile as he looks over her shoulder to see Mercedes and Tina sitting on either side of Kurt on his floor. They're all wearing pajamas and Kurt's staring at him.

His stomach drops. Kurt is having a party and Blaine wasn't invited. His eyes sting again.

He tries to speak but his voice doesn't come out quite right so he clears his throat and tries a second time. “Can I talk to you for a second, Kurt?” he says quietly.

Kurt stares for a few more minutes then exchanges a meaningful look with Tina and what the hell. Since when is Kurt sharing meaningful looks with anyone other than Blaine?

Blaine swallows down his indignation when he realizes that Tina probably didn't give Kurt a gift card for Christmas.

Kurt nods then slowly stands and follows Blaine out into the hallway. He closes the door gently behind him.

“I got your scrapbook,” he rushes to say, turning to face him. Kurt leans his back against the wall and watches Blaine carefully. When Kurt doesn't say anything, he continues, “And it's amazing, Kurt. Perfect. Incredible. I love it.”

Kurt finally offers him a small smile. “I'm glad. It --”

“I call a do-over,” Blaine interrupts.

Kurt pauses. “What?”

“A gift do-over,” he tells him. “I'm calling one.”

He side-eyes him. “What does that even mean, Blaine?”

He sighs. “It means my gift sucks and I'm going to make it up to you.”

Kurt arches an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Tomorrow,” he says. “I'll take you to that park Dad used to take us to when we were kids. We'll build a snowman --”

“I'm not building a snowman--”

“--and learn to ice skate and spend the whole day by ourselves, just the two of us.”

Kurt hesitates.

“Please?” Blaine asks, eyes wide. “I'll do everything. I'll get my dad to take us and I'll buy all the hot chocolate and I'll make sure nobody comes near you with a snowball. I'll even go through your Dad's garage to find our old sleds.”

Kurt still doesn't say anything and Blaine's stomach drops at the realization that he's practically begging his best friend to hang out with him.

“I feel like I'm losing my best friend,” he says sadly.

Kurt's sighs. “You're not losing me, Blaine.”

“Then what?” he asks. He takes a deep breath and tries not to let his frustration show. “Is it -- do you have plans already? With Rachel or … or Finn?”

Kurt looks taken aback and Blaine doesn't blame him. His tone is borderline bitter and he's not too great at disguising it.

“I'm sorry,” Blaine says. “It's just -- your scrapbook was perfect and you captured all these memories from when we were kids and I want to -- I don't know. I guess I want to try to re-create them for you. It's not as good as a scrapbook but it's something, you know?”

Finally, Kurt starts to smile. “Re-create them?”

Blaine shrugs.

Kurt watches him for a few moments and tilts his head. “You're just perfect sometimes, Blaine Anderson,” he says quietly, so quiet that maybe he didn't even mean to say it out loud. He's got a soft smile and bright eyes and Blaine gets that warm happy feeling that he always gets whenever Kurt gives him that look.

He grins back.

Kurt pushes himself away from the wall. “Well, I've got both James Marsden and Patrick Dempsey waiting for me in my room so if you'll excuse me.”

“Oh my god, Enchanted again, Kurt?”

He shrugs, already turning to head back to his room. “Tall, dark and handsome Prince Charming, Blaine. Two of them. Why wouldn't I watch it every week?”

Blaine rolls his eyes. “Why do they always have to be tall? Can't Prince Charmings be of medium build every once in awhile?”

Kurt ignores him. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

Blaine's face lights up. “Yeah? Okay, be ready. Early.”

He looks over his shoulder and gives Blaine an unamused stare. “If by early you mean eleven.”

“No,” he says. “I mean like eight.”

“Um, no. Not happening.”

“Eight,” he repeats as he heads quickly down the stairs and towards the front door. “That's what time we got up when we were kids, Kurt!” he calls out over his shoulder. He's already outside before Kurt has a chance to protest anymore, which was totally Blaine's intention.

So he spends his entire Saturday afternoon and evening trying to come up with the perfect itinerary and no pressure or anything. He texts Tina to super secretly turn Kurt's Walkie-Talkie on before she leaves then he walks to the store to buy some pancake mix and milk. Then he has to promise his dad that he'll clean the garage by the end of the year (which ugh, is like ten days away) in exchange for a ride to Columbus the following day. He goes to bed feeling satisfied and accomplished and basically thrumming with excitement.

He starts the day promptly at seven a.m. by blaring some Mariah Carey Christmas music over the Walkie Talkie which was basically his favorite thing to do when they were eleven. It has the same effect now as it did then: Kurt answers with a groggy threat of bodily harm then pointedly turns off the power. It's a success, though, because Kurt's standing in the Anderson kitchen by eight a.m.

What isn't a success are the pancakes that Blaine's attempting to make as Kurt walks through the door. He thought maybe he could cook a few perfectly goldeny-brown pancakes to reference the almost-housefire he caused when they were nine but instead, he just ends up causing another almost-housefire. His mom is sort of yelling about being irresponsible and don't you remember what happened last time and he gets defensive and tells her that god that was five years ago and I'm smarter now and know what settings to use on the stove and she throws her hands up and shakes her head and says obviously not, okay, and sometimes people can't cook no matter how old they are, just learn to accept it and stop ruining my non-stick pans and Blaine's dad walks in holding the unhooked fire alarm and complains that this thing only goes off when he's near the stove, why is he near the stove? Kurt just laughs and laughs and thanks Blaine for re-creating that particular memory because it's even better this time around.

Then they head to the Lima Bean and get some hot chocolate but he doesn't order their typical non-fat, sugar-free ones this time around. No, this time he makes Kurt drink a regular hot chocolate with all kinds of fat and sugar and he gets whipped cream and extra chocolate shavings on the top. It's what they got when they were twelve, the very first time his mom took them both to the Lima Bean after a long day of Christmas shopping. He gets them both an extra large and decides to worry about their inevitable sugar comas later.

Then they walk to the old dilapidated theater that Blaine absolutely cannot believe is still in business and has them seated just in time for the eleven a.m. showing of A Muppet Christmas Carol. They watched it three times over Christmas break when they were seven and tried fruitlessly to convince Mr. Hummel to take them again but he told them to wait until next year. He told him it would be special if they looked forward to it just once a year.

Then Blaine's dad comes to pick them up and drop them off at the mall in Columbus. He lets them walk around alone and tells them to meet him back at the main entrance. Kurt gives Blaine a skeptical look and reminds him that he hates when Kurt makes him come every single year and that all he does is whine. Blaine argues that no way, there are totally things that he loves doing during their annual pre-Christmas mall shopping. (Although yeah, he usually does whine because Kurt takes forever.) So they do the boring things like try on clothes and find stuff for their parents and then they do the cool stuff like visit the puppies at the pet store in the back corner of the mall and eat at the really terrible Chinese place in the food court that Kurt complains about every year. Then they make their way into the Macy store and Kurt does the same thing he's done since they were ten where he picks out a bowtie and says oh this bowtie is so you, Blaine, it really brings out your eyes and this year, Blaine actually buys it. And then they do Blaine's favorite mall thing ever which is to ride the escalator a few [dozen] times, something they've also done since they were ten.

They have dinner at Breadstix and because Blaine's dad is awesome, he lets them sit at their own booth while he reads the paper in the back corner. Blaine tries to convince Kurt to throw food across the table and into his mouth because he is totally convinced he could catch it but Kurt says no, just like he has since the very first time their parents took them there when they were six. Blaine is determined to one day break him.

They head to the huge decorated Christmas tree in the middle of the city. Kurt's mom took him every year since before he could remember. His dad started taking him when he was eight and a few years after that, they invited Blaine along, too.

They end the evening at the huge ice skating rink in the park in the middle of town.

“This is not re-creating a memory, Blaine,” Kurt tells him as they stare at the ice skaters. “Do you know the last time we ice skated?”

Blaine ignores him and stands in line to rent some skates.

“Never,” he continues. “We have never ice skated. I would like to remind you of this.”

Blaine tugs Kurt into line with him. “It's new. It's a new memory.”

Kurt huffs and begrudgingly stands with him in the line.

A few minutes later, Blaine understands Kurt's trepidation. He's shaky on the skates and never really manages to make it too far from the railing of the rink. It takes Blaine about forty minutes to finally coax him away from the wall by grabbing Kurt's left hand and carefully tugging him closer.

“Blaine!” he admonishes, trying to steady himself. “Don't pull me!”

Blaine grins and ignores him as he steers them forward. “I've got you,” he says. “I'll be careful.”

Kurt mutters something in response then stumbles again. His hand tightens in Blaine's as he tries to right himself and Blaine's grin turns up a notch. It's a good feeling, being needed like this, he thinks. Being needed by Kurt.

Every time he stumbles, he squeezes Blaine's hand and every time that happens, something tightens in Blaine's chest. After another hour, Kurt's gained a little more confidence but Blaine steadfastly refuses to let their hands unclasp.

After they're exhausted and hungry, they buy some of the really crappy hot chocolate from the vendor right outside the rink and then find a patch of snow to sit on.

“This was a fun day, right?” Blaine asks after a few minutes of silence.

“Definitely,” Kurt answers as he cups his hands around the hot chocolate for a bit of heat.

“Here,” Blaine says, shifting closer until they're pressed up against each other. “Body heat. We'll keep each other warmer that way.”

Kurt doesn't say anything, just stiffly nods. They sit there in a peaceful silence for a few moments. Blaine's vaguely aware that his dad is somewhere in the park and that there's probably hundreds of people around them, skating and building snowmen and sledding but it doesn't feel like it. It feels like it's just the two of them. It feels like when they were younger and oblivious to anyone that wasn't them.

“It's like when we were kids,” Blaine says quietly. “Don't you think?”

“Playing in the snow?” Kurt asks, an eyebrow raised.

“No,” Blaine says, staring at the skaters still in the rink. “Well, yeah, I guess. It's just … there are so many people here but it just feels like you and me. It was like that when we were younger. Wherever we were or whoever was with us or whatever we were doing, it always felt like you and me.”

Kurt looks down at his cup and clutches it tighter.

“I don't want to lose that,” Blaine continues. “I want it to always be that way. I want us always to be like that.”

Kurt nods faintly. “I know. But we grow up, we change, Blaine.”

Blaine turns to look at him and suddenly their faces are only inches from each other. “Some things can always stay the same,” he says quietly. He almost reminds Kurt of the time they were nine and Blaine's dad brought them both to this exact same park to go sledding and get hot chocolate from the exact same vendor. He wants to show him that all of those things, that all of the things they've done today, are exactly the same as they are now but he stops himself because it's not true. Things have changed. Things are more intense, things mean more now.

“I know,” Kurt says sadly, watching the skaters and not meeting Blaine's eyes. “Don't worry, Blaine. We'll always be best friends.”

Blaine nods and doesn't know how to respond, confused by Kurt's tone and faraway expression.

So they sit in silence again. Kurt watches the people around them and Blaine just sort of watches … Kurt. Kurt stares at the couples as they hold hands and kiss and laugh and skate together and huddle close for body heat. Blaine's heart aches as he sees how badly Kurt wants for each and every one of those things. He reaches down and laces their fingers again.

“This is what a date should be like,” he says.

“Like what?” Kurt asks, voice soft. He looks back down to his hot chocolate.

Blaine shrugs as he thinks about how lame his first date could have been if it actually had been a date: twenty minutes at a coffee shop with a high school lab partner. “Like this,” is all he can think of to say. “Spending time with someone you really care about. Not wanting the day to end. Desperately hoping they're as happy as you are.”

Kurt swallows then looks up to offer Blaine a smile. “I'm happy.”

He doesn't look happy, though. He looks sad and resigned and disappointed and Blaine can't help but feel like a failure. He feels like the whole day has been a failure.

“You don't look happy,” he mutters.

Kurt's smile falters and he gives him a quizzical look. “Of course I am. You're always my favorite part of Christmas, Blaine,” he whispers. “Don't you know that?”

Blaine's breath catches. “No,” he whispers back. “I didn't.”

For some reason his heart rate picks up for a second and his stomach does that weird swoop thing and his hands get a little clammy in his gloves.

They watch each other for a few seconds until a rogue snowball lands a few inches from where they sit. Kurt breaks the gaze and a few moments later, Blaine's dad is standing beside them. Before they leave, though, his dad takes a picture of the two of them, arms draped over each other's shoulders and heads titled together, just like the one he took when they were nine.

Blaine prints the picture and puts it in his scrapbook along with the ticket stub and the Lima Bean receipt. He writes above it: My Favorite Part of Christmas.

: : :

Grade Ten: Baby, It's Cold Outside: (how can you do this thing to me?)

“God I am so ready for Christmas break,” Blaine tells Kurt as he follows him into his room.

Kurt hums his agreement.

“I want to do nothing but sleep for the next two weeks. Being a sophomore sucks. I might go home and sleep right now, actually.”

He rolls his eyes. “Your mom's party is tonight, Blaine. You can hold out for a few more hours.”

He groans and throws himself across Kurt's bed. “And I said we'd stop by Rachel's holiday party, too.”

“She's Jewish,” Kurt mutters as he takes a seat at his desk. “Why is she even having a party?”

“That's why she's calling it a holiday party,” Blaine points out. He rolls over onto his side to face Kurt then sees a small box sitting on his nightstand with a tiny plastic silver bow stuck on the top, completely off-center. “Is this mine?” he asks, sitting up. “We said Christmas Day this year but I'll totally run across and grab mine if you want to do it today.”

Kurt looks over his shoulder to follow Blaine's line of vision. “Oh. No, that's from Sam. Yours is in my desk drawer. And you can wait until Christmas to open, just like we agreed.” He turns to mess with a small notebook. “I swear, you're like a hyperactive child sometimes, Blaine.”

Blaine stares at the back of Kurt's head and blinks rapidly. “Sam got you a gift?” His stomach feels unsettled and oh my god why, it's just a dumb present.

“He did,” Kurt answers. He pulls out his phone and Blaine can't do anything but continue to stare at the back of his head.

“Why?”

He shrugs. “Probably for the tutoring. I told you about that.”

Blaine blinks. Yeah, he knew that and it was annoying as hell because it seemed like they were always together even if rationally he knows it wasn't true. He totally sucked it up because he thought it was a temporary thing. He didn't know it devolved into gift giving. “Did you give him anything?” he asks, voice a little weird. He can't figure out why he's dwelling on something so stupid.

Kurt huffs. “I did, yes. I gave him a B+ in Biology, a B- in Geometry, and an A in English Comp.”

Blaine nods to himself. And then he tenses again. “Did he … come here?”

Kurt finally turns in his chair to face him. “What?”

He's quiet for a moment. “You know, to give it to you.”

Kurt stares at him and Blaine stares right back. “It was a gift card, Blaine.”

He waits. Kurt watches him and seems totally confused.

Blaine swallows. “You didn't answer the question.”

He lets out an exasperated sigh. “Okay, what? Why does this even matter?”

“Because it's our thing, Kurt,” he answers hotly. “And I want it to stay our thing!”

Kurt watches him and clenches his jaw. He doesn't seem even remotely surprised at Blaine's random outburst. “It is our thing, Blaine,” he bites out. “Everything is our thing. And I'm allowed to have things with other people.”

“I know,” Blaine argues, leaning forward on Kurt's bed. He doesn't understand why he's so worked up and seriously, are they actually fighting about this? “But this one can be ours, okay? That's all I'm asking.”

Kurt rolls his eyes. “I give you everything you ask for, okay, Blaine? Don't try to turn this around on me. You ask for everything and I give it to you. Every time. Always.” He looks away but not before Blaine notices that his eyes are a little wet.

He leans back. “I --” But he doesn't know how to finish.

“Why?” Kurt asks finally, voice so so quiet, staring at his hands. “Why do you need everything, Blaine?”

Which is the dumbest question ever. Because I'm love with you, Kurt, don't be stupid, he almost says.

Blaine snaps his jaw shut.

Kurt looks up like maybe it wasn't rhetorical and like he actually wants an answer.

Blaine chokes out a noise and stares at him, eyes wide. Oh my god, he thinks. Oh.My.God.

Kurt cocks an eyebrow. “Are you okay?” he asks slowly.

He can't move. He's totally frozen.

He is in love with Kurt. He is in love with his best friend.

“Blaine?” Kurt asks cautiously. He sounds less frustrated and more concerned.

He wants to say that no, no he is not okay. In any sense of the word, he is definitely not okay. Suddenly everything shifts, everything comes into perfect focus. Everything is clear, everything makes sense.

Blaine Anderson is in love with the boy he met when he was five years old. Totally, ridiculously in love.

After what seems like an hour, he finally says, “I have to go.”

Kurt raises his eyebrow. “Seriously?”

“I need -- I have to go,” he says again, struggling to climb off Kurt's bed because none of his limbs are doing anything he wants them to because his brain is too preoccupied with being in love with Kurt Hummel, oh my god to worry about things like basic motor control or eye/hand coordination.

“Wait, are you for real right now?” Kurt asks, skeptical. “Blaine it was a gift card. You told me yourself last year, it's a lame gift.”

He shakes his head to try and clear his thoughts but nothing is working because he's just being bombarded with images of Kurt, kissing him when they were eleven, painstakingly writing him a note when he was seven, crying to his mother about him when they were eight, sitting with him under the mistletoe when they were nine. Images from the past ten years flash in front of him and he can barely stand up straight, can hardly catch his breath. Every time his heart fluttered, every time his stomach made that dramatic swoop, every time his chest tightened … it all makes perfect, crystal-clear sense now. “I have to go,” he says one last time. He runs out of the room, down the stairs, out the door. Then, because he can't think of anything else, he keeps running and finally makes it to the other end of the development until he's standing in front of the Chang duplex. He's hunched over and trying to take deep, calming breaths as he rings the doorbell. He desperately tries to think of what to say before Mike opens the door.

“Sam bought Kurt a Christmas present!” is what he blurts as soon as the door opens.

Mike stares at him, unmoved. “Okay.”

“Who does that?” Blaine says, wide eyed and still hunched over.

“Uh. I do? And so do you?”

Blaine shakes his head because oh my god, he is totally missing the point. “Sam, though. Since when does he do that?”

Mike gives him a wary look and seems to come to the conclusion that he's talking to a crazy person. “What's this actually about, Blaine?”

“Kurt!” he says, exasperated. He's finally able to catch his breath and stand, though. It's a small victory.

“Yeah,” Mike says. “Care to elaborate?”

“Sam gave him a gift,” Blaine repeats. “A Christmas gift. I am stressing so much about this, Mike. I get that it's totally ridiculous but --”

Mike pushes the front door open a little further to reveal Sam, holding a chip to his mouth and looking totally baffled.

“It's just ten bucks, man,” Sam says. “To Subway. Does he even like Subway? I only got it because I knew you liked it. And I saw some cardboard cutout of a guy in a Speedo chilling by the front door and thought, yeah, it's probably an awesome idea if a naked guy is their spokesperson.”

Mike side-eyes him. “Michael Phelps is a decorated Olympic athlete, Sam. Don't call him 'a naked guy'.”

Guys,” Blaine interrupts. “You are not helping right now.”

They both stare at him. “What are we supposed to be helping you with again?” Mike asks.

Blaine takes a deep breath and steels himself. He is about to blow their minds with this realization. “I -- I'm in love with Kurt,” he says cautiously.

Mike continues to stare. Sam finally eats his chip. They do not look like their minds have been blown at all.

“It's about damn time,” Artie says as he rolls up to the front door.

Blaine's mouth drops. “You knew?”

Artie gives him a skeptical look. “Blaine.”

“What?” he asks, eyes wide because what is going on.

“Everyone sort of knows,” Sam explains. “We almost started a betting pool but Rachel talked us all out of it.”

Blaine's mind is blown. “What -- why -- how did you know? Why did no one tell me?”

“You made him a glitter tree when we were five,” Mike says, eyebrow raised. “No one needed to tell you.”

“We were five, kids do that when they're five,” he says, indignant. Then he pauses and quietly adds, “Plus, he made the glitter tree. Mine was the crappy crayon one.” He doesn't feel right taking credit for Kurt's superior artistic skills.

Artie shakes his head. “I can't watch this. I'm going to play some more Grand Theft.” And he wheels away.

“You gave him your childhood teddy bear, Blaine,” Mike continues.

Blaine narrows his eyes. “I told you that in confidence.

He looks over but Sam doesn't look surprised or even all that particularly interested in the conversation. He's still eating chips.

“And don't even try to tell me he wasn't your first kiss when you guys were like, ten or something.”

“Eleven,” he corrects. And then: “How did you even know that? What's happening right now?”

Mike shakes his head and Sam leans up against the door jamb and suddenly Blaine realizes that he is having a nervous breakdown on his friend's front porch while they look totally disinterested. And they are eating.

“I'm having a panic attack,” Blaine tells them. “Is this what a panic attack looks like?”

Mike takes a deep breath. “Okay, first? Calm down. This is a good thing, Blaine.”

He blinks and calmly says, “Uh, wrong, this is the worst day of my life actually.”

Sam gives him a quizzical look. “Why? Now you can do all kinds of fun dating stuff. Like go to the movies and sit way too close, share milkshakes.” He pauses. “So okay, basically everything you two already do now but with added naked kissing.”

Blaine stares at them both and tries not to freak the hell out but it's not working at all. “So I'm just supposed to hide all of this? The way I feel?” he asks. “He's my best friend; he'll see right through me. I don't know how to pretend I don't feel the things I feel.”

Mike gives him a funny look. “Hide them? You know Kurt's in love with you, too, right?”

Blaine pauses. “What?” When neither of them answer, he says, “How do you know?”

They both roll their eyes. “Really?” Mike asks. “We really need to explain this?”

He waits.

“You spent Valentine's Day together,” Sam points out.

“As friends,” Blaine defends. “We were both single so we decided to hang out just the two of us. Single people can do that, you know. It's what everybody does.”

“No,” Sam argues. “What everybody does is go to Breadstix and sit as a huge group at one of their big tables. Because that's what I did this year. Along with half our friends. You two were weirdly absent.”

“Okay, but--”

“And,” Sam continues, waving a chip around. “You hold hands sometimes.”

“What?” Blaine scoffs. “Practically never.”

“Fireworks over the summer,” Sam says.

“Roller skating over Spring Break,” Mike adds.

Blaine's eyes widen. “Doesn't count! He almost fell; I was trying to --”

Sam eats another chip. “Every year at the Christmas light show downtown.”

“That horror movie last month,” Mike continues.

His eyes are still wide. “That doesn't count either! He was clutching my arm! He doesn't like scary movies, okay? All of these--”

“Blaine,” Mike says patiently, cutting him off.

He lets out an irritated sigh. “What.”

Mike stares for a moment before holding out his left hand. Then he holds his right towards Sam. They both eye him warily. “Grab my hand, Blaine,” he says.

He doesn't move.

“Come on,” he insists. “Let's all hold hands.”

“Uh,” Blaine says.

Mike keeps his eyes trained firmly on Blaine's but cocks his head to call over his shoulder. “Artie,” he calls. “Come outside; we're all holding hands.”

Artie yells something unintelligible from the living room.

Blaine stares at it where it's still hovering in front of him. “No,” he tells him. “That's -- it's weird.”

“Yeah,” Mike says with a pointed look. “I know.”

“He's in love with you, dude,” Sam interjects. “Everyone knows it.”

Suddenly Blaine is hyper-aware that they're discussing this out in the open on Mike's front porch and god, Santana lives right next door and if she hears this, holy hell everyone in school will know by lunchtime tomorrow and Blaine feels like maybe Kurt should hear this from him and not the lunch lady or whatever.

“Keep your voices down!” he says in a hushed voice.

Sam stops chewing. “Why are we whispering?” he asks quietly.

“This is private,” Blaine whispers. “I don't need for Santana to broadcast it at a Cheerio's practice tomorrow.”

“Blaine,” Mike groans. “Everyone knows already. It's not a secret.”

“Okay, not everyone,” Blaine says with an eyeroll. “I think you're exaggerating.”

Sam shakes his head. “No, not really. Why do you think Mr. Schue gave you guys that Baby, It's Cold Outside duet at the winter showcase?”

Blaine frowns. He just thought that was a lucky happenstance.

“And why do you think your mom took a zillion pictures of you two before the Sadie Hawkins dance?”

Blaine's mouth drops. “My mom? My mom knows?”

“Everybody knows,” Artie adds as he wheels to the front door and reaches for the chips. “Except maybe Kurt. Give me the damn bag, Sam. You do this every time.”

And Blaine is so so confused. “Wait. Kurt doesn't know I'm in love with him? Or that he's in love with me?”

“No, Kurt's not as clueless as you are Blaine,” Artie answers. “He got his shit together over the summer.”

“Yeah, last summer,” Sam clarifies, pointing an accusing chip at Blaine.

Great, now he feels like an ass for taking a year and a half to catch up.

“Tina said he about had a meltdown when he figured it out,” Mike tells them. “Poor guy.”

“Poor me,” Blaine argues. “I'm the one having the meltdown right now.

Artie lunges for the chips and then does a pretty kickass spin before making his way back into the living room. Blaine stares after him. No one even cares about his mental breakdown, what terrible friends.

“So what am I supposed to do now?” he says, resigned.

“Well, there's the obvious answer of tell him,” Mike points out.

He stares blankly. “And how am I supposed to do that?”

Sam shrugs. “During your gift exchange that you guys always do? Just be like, hey Merry Christmas, I love you. Blah blah blah naked kissing.”

Mike side-eyes Sam. “Or.”

“Yes? Or?” Blaine prompts.

“Or give him whatever inappropriate gift you're planning to give --”

“Hey, what? My gifts aren't inappropriate!”

Mike arches an eyebrow. “I don't know what you're getting him but I'm willing to bet that it's not something a normal person would get for a normal friend.”

Blaine freezes when he thinks about it because oh my god, no. His gift is totally something you'd get the love of your life, not your childhood best friend. And his dad is actually letting him give it to Kurt which, dammit, that means Blaine's dad totally knows, too, so yeah seriously, everyone knows.

Well, not everyone.

“I have to go,” he says. “I need to talk to him.”

He's already running back home before they have a chance to respond.

: : :

Blaine spends the next thirty minutes trying to wrap a present. When he's done, he clutches it carefully and heads downstairs, making sure to give plenty of smiles to the people already at his house for the yearly Anderson party. Just because he's in the middle of a full-blown meltdown doesn't mean he can't be polite.

He runs across the street to Kurt's house but doesn't even bother knocking on the front door.

“Kurt,” he says breathlessly after he climbs the stairs and steps into his room.

Kurt slowly turns around from his desk to face him. “Blaine?”

“I -- can we talk?” he asks.

“Sure,” he says slowly. “Is this still about the gift card?”

Blaine gives him a quizzical look. “The -- oh. No. No, who cares about that. This is actually important.”

Kurt's still staring, looking confused.

“I know we said Christmas but I really think we should do our gift exchange tonight. Right now.” He holds out the poorly wrapped box. “I actually seriously wrapped it this time.”

Kurt reaches for it and gives him a lopsided smile. “I actually seriously believe you this time.” But before he unwraps it, he grabs his present from his desk and hands it to Blaine.

Blaine stares at it, dumbfounded. Even though it's wrapped, he can totally tell what it is. He opens it slowly and sure enough, it's a CD. A CD. Not even a mixed one. Just a plain normal CD from a plain normal music store.

“Brian Ferry,” Kurt says, unnecessarily. It's right there on the CD; Blaine can read it.

He meets Kurt's eyes and tries to swallow. His eyes sting and his stomach feels sick and he briefly wonders if this is what heartbreak feels like. He takes a moment to feel crushed but then realizes what's happening. After the gift card debacle of last year, Kurt's keeping his heart a littler closer. He's holding back. It actually makes Blaine feel even worse.

“Thank you,” he says quietly then gestures towards the box. “Your turn.”

Kurt watches him for a few moments before unwrapping the paper and opening the box. He pulls out an old silver pocketwatch.

“Blaine,” he gasps. “You can't give me this.”

He shrugs and takes a step closer. “Sure I can.”

“It's a family heirloom,” Kurt reminds him, eyes wide.

“And you're family,” he says, taking another step closer.

“Blaine,” he says again, shaking his head. “I can't accept this.”

“You've loved that for years, Kurt. Of course you can.”

“But -- this is supposed to be yours,” he says.

He shrugs again and takes one more step. “I still have the gold one. I want you to have this one.”

They watch each other for a few long moments.

“Blaine--” he starts, barely audible.

But he's interrupted by Mr. Hummel. “Boys!” he calls from downstairs. “Time to head across to the party. Carole and Finn already went over.”

Kurt looks away.

“What?” Blaine asks quickly, voice just as quiet. “You were going to say something. What?”

“Nothing,” he answers. He gives himself a once-over in the mirror and Blaine can't help but get distracted as he gives Kurt a once-over, too.

“Wait, there's something else in here,” Blaine tries to say but Kurt's already down the stairs so he grabs the note and follows Kurt and his dad across the street.

He sticks close to Kurt's side during the party, which isn't unusual, but Kurt's sort of distant and that is unusual.

They're sitting on the Anderson couch, the same one they used to sit on to watch Christmas movies when they were kids, and Blaine keeps shifting a little closer. “Can we talk please?”

Kurt glances over. “Now?” He almost seems irritated.

“Yes,” Blaine answers, eyes serious. “Now.”

“About what?”

“Just -- please?”

He sighs. “We're in the middle of your mom's party, Blaine,” he reminds him. “It can wait.”

“It can't, though,” he argues, reaching to grab Kurt's hand into his own.

Kurt stills and stares at their hands. After a few moments, he pulls away. “Excuse me, I'm going to see what kind of fruitcake your aunt brought this year. Always a highlight for me.”

Blaine watches him walk towards the kitchen then moves to follow.

“Two minutes, Kurt,” he says, reaching out to grab his wrist. “Please, I just really want to talk to you.”

He hesitates.

“It's really important.”

Kurt arches an eyebrow. “So important that it can't wait until we're literally not surrounded by your entire family and half the block?”

“Yes,” he says earnestly. “That important.”

Kurt's look softens. “Okay. What's wrong?”

“Nothing,” he answers, heart beating rapidfire. “Nothing's wrong, that's exactly my point. Actually --”

“Hey there you guys are,” Finn says, rounding the corner and throwing a causal arm over Kurt's shoulder.

Kurt makes a face. “Why do you smell like processed cheese?”

He nods his head toward the kitchen. “Just had a bag of some Cool Ranch Doritos, that's why.”

“Like a whole bag?” he asks, grimacing. “Actually, don't answer. I can just pretend not to know.”

Finn ignores him and Blaine gives them both a fond smile. Finn's one of the few people Kurt inadvertently allows into his personal space though neither of them probably realize it. Finn's a good guy. He likes Finn.

“So hey, I'm just gonna walk over to Rachel's with you guys, okay?”

Ugh, Blaine cannot stand Finn. “Actually, I need to talk to Kurt. It's important. And private.”

Finn rolls his eyes. “Whatever, everything you two do is important and private.”

Which is how Blaine winds up walking behind Kurt and Finn for a full ten minutes as they make their way across the development to Rachel's dads' townhouse. He tries to get Kurt to stay outside for a moment but he's too busy arguing with Finn about what he bought his mom for Christmas.

The karaoke machine is set up in Rachel's basement but everyone's too preoccupied. A few of the guys are playing video games in the corner, Puck's already got two beers in hand, and a few of the girls are sitting on the couch taking some kind of Cosmo quiz. With each second that passes, Blaine gets more and more tense. He feels the panic attack coming back on.

Kurt's talking to Sugar about something but Blaine's too impatient to wait for a lull in the conversation so he tries to interrupt as politely as possible. “Please?” he says to Kurt. “Please talk to me?”

Kurt blinks at him then excuses himself from Sugar. “What is going on with you right now?” he hisses quietly.

Blaine pulls him by the elbow under the doorway that leads to the laundry room. “That's what I'm trying to tell you,” he says by way of an answer. “If you let me explain.”

“Explain what?” Kurt asks, eyes narrowed. “Why you bolted from my room earlier? Why you get so mad when you think that for one brief second you're not the center of my whole world? Why you give me things like antique family pocket watches?”

Blaine's momentarily taken back by Kurt's tone, by the sad resignation in his eyes.

“I think that if you knew how everyone sees us, how confusing you are, then you wouldn't do those things anymore,” he continues. “If you knew how I felt--”

“If you knew how I felt, I think that you'd give me two minutes,” Blaine interrupts, frustrated. “Two.”

Kurt lets out a sigh then crosses his arms. “Fine. Two minutes.”

Blaine blinks, suddenly frozen, and Kurt stares expectantly. He thinks that maybe he should build up to it, give some background, an explanation. But no. Instead:

“I'm in love with you.”

Kurt blanches.

They stare at each other.

“What?” he whispers.

“I'm in love with you,” Blaine repeats. “I don't know how long, they tried to tell me it had to do with the glitter tree and the scary movies and then they said the Valentine's Day thing is weird. But as soon as I figured it out, everything made sense with -- you know, the way I see you and how I feel when I see you and Cooper's thing with the sharing is more obvious now and the way my mom gets before school dances and -- I don't know.” He keeps his eyes trained on Kurt's but he has no idea what he's even talking about anymore. “We've been friends for so long and I don't know when this all happened. Or what even happened. Or how it happened. Or why it-- okay, no I know why it happened; that part's easy. Just look at you, Kurt. You're funny and sweet and loyal and your hair is so -- and just like, your arms and -- and when you wear that one green shirt with the white buttons. And you smell like -- I don't know what it's called but it's amazing. And your laugh is maybe my favorite thing to hear and you have this one smile --”

“Blaine,” he says quietly, gently placing a hand on Blaine's bicep.

He takes a deep breath and suddenly feels grounded.

“Here,” Blaine says, holding out the small piece of paper he grabbed from the bottom of Kurt's gift. “This was under the watch. You didn't see it.”

Kurt watches him carefully then opens the small card to see a written note. I'm in love with you. Please say you love me back?

“It's cheesy, I know,” he says nervously. “But I feel just like I did when we were eight, Kurt. All I've been able to think about is how much I want you to say that you like me best.”

Kurt swallows then glances to his left and for one panicky moment, Blaine thinks that he's looking for some kind of writing instrument. “No no,” he rushes to add. “This isn't like last time. I don't need a written response. A verbal answer will do just fine.”

Kurt ducks his head briefly then looks back up, eyes a little wet. “Yes,” he says. “I do. Of course I do.”

Blaine beams at him then leans forward slightly. “Are you ready?”

Kurt smiles and nods and Blaine whispers, “One two three.”

And then they're kissing, like actual real kissing. He's pulling Kurt closer, tugging at his shoulder, and Kurt's hand is tightly gripping the back of Blaine's neck and it is awesome.

They pull away after a few moments, a little breathless. “Was that okay?” Kurt asks, eyes wide. “We can -- I don't know -- practice at it?”

“Definitely, yeah, sure,” Blaine says, not listening at all to anything Kurt's saying, too focused on staring at Kurt's mouth and remembering that a few minutes ago, it was totally attached to his own. He leans in to kiss him again but jerks back when the entire room breaks into applause. There's even a random catcall.

Kurt freezes.

“I forgot there were other people in this room,” Blaine admits quietly.

“Me, too,” he replies.

“Quit hogging the mistletoe!” someone shouts.

They both glance up and Kurt raises an eyebrow. “Did you plan that?”

And dammit that would have been so romantic, to maneuver Kurt under the mistletoe for his dramatic declaration of love and their first real kiss. “No,” he admits. “But can I take credit for it anyway?”

Kurt gives him a quiet laugh but before he can answer, Blaine is tugging him towards the back door. “Mistletoe is all yours. We'll be out back if anyone needs us.”

There's no mistletoe on the back porch and it's cold and dark. They're alone, though, and that trumps everything else. “Merry Christmas, Kurt,” he says softly in between kisses nine and ten.

“Merry Christmas,” Kurt replies, breathless.

It's his favorite Christmas yet. And because he's awesome, Kurt totally does give him a written response. He writes out Yes, I do on the card then signs and dates it and even leaves a small heart. He tells Blaine that here, this is so you can put it with the other card because I know you still have it somewhere and Blaine pretends not to know what he's talking about because why would I keep that, Kurt, that would be so weird. So they laugh about it which somehow leads to kissing. Lately, everything leads to more kissing.

And when Kurt leaves for the night, Blaine takes the card and puts it with the card from third grade, just like Kurt knew he would.

: : :

Grade Eleven: Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow: (but as long as you love me so; let it snow)

Alone time is not something they're privileged with all that often so when the opportunity arises, they make the most of it. It's late morning on the Saturday before Christmas and the Anderson household is blissfully empty. Blaine's sitting on the couch, feet propped up on the coffee table, while Kurt is nestled into his side, head resting on Blaine's chest. They're under a blanket and watching animated Christmas movies and it's basically the best morning Blaine's had in ever.

“I wish I could go back to ten year old Blaine and tell him to enjoy his alone time with his best friend while he can. I'd warn him that someday, our parents will put an end to our sleepovers. Put an end to us being alone at all, really,” he says.

Kurt lets out a quiet laugh. “That's what you'd do with time travel?”

Blaine grins in response and puts his arm around Kurt, pulling him even closer still. Kurt doesn't seem to mind. They sit in silence for awhile. Blaine can't stop smiling and thinks about how he never wants this feeling to end, the amazing sensation of being young and in love with his best friend. It's a perfect moment. And then:

“Hand check!” Cooper calls out, striding into the room. Kurt stiffens and tries to untangle himself from under Blaine's arm. It's too late, though, because Blaine's dad trails in only a few steps behind Cooper. His dad eyes the two of them warily.

Kurt looks mortified and has his hands neatly clasped in his lap on top of the blanket lest Cooper try to really enforce the hand check thing.

“You two should be getting ready,” his dad says, leaving the room to head upstairs. “Go get ready.”

Neither of them move. Cooper sits in the recliner and watches the two of them, smiling like maybe he's actually happy that he walked in and ruined a perfect moment.

“How was your flight?” Kurt asks.

Blaine slumps back into the couch and waits for it. It's that time of year for Cooper to unintentionally (or intentionally, who even knows) flirt with Blaine's boyfriend in front of Blaine while Blaine's boyfriend laughs and laughs like Cooper is god's gift to the entire world.

But miracle of miracles, that's actually not what happens. The unintentional/intentional flirting thing still happens, sure, but Kurt just offers Cooper polite responses and harmless questions. Blaine internally celebrates that after just shy of a decade, Kurt's crush on Cooper is finally finally no more.

Just as Blaine's about to bribe his brother to go the hell away, his mom comes in the room holding a few grocery bags. “Cooper, help me unload the car. Blaine, Kurt, you two should be getting ready. Go get ready.”

They make their way upstairs but instead of doing as they're told, Blaine takes a seat on his bed while Kurt sits in the chair so that they can talk and stare and smile and make sappy heart eyes at each other. After a few minutes, Blaine's dad nudges the bedroom door open and gives them a suspicious look. He stops in front of the bed and finishes tying his tie. “So what's the plan for tonight?”

Blaine groans and rolls his eyes. “We've been over this, Dad.”

“Humor me.”

He sighs. “Mr. Hummel is driving the four of you up to Cleveland so you guys can see the matinee showing of The Nutcracker at the Playhouse then you'll go to dinner. I'm driving Kurt and Finn up later tonight. Finn's driving their parents home then I'm driving you and Mom over to Aunt Margaret's house for the holiday party to which Kurt has graciously agreed to be my date. The end.” He grins at Kurt and Kurt returns the smile. He's going to introduce him to every single person there as Kurt My Boyfriend and it is going to be awesome. Most of his family will probably be too drunk to pay attention but whatever.

Blaine's dad nods, apparently satisfied. He buttons his cufflinks and gives Blaine a meaningful look as he heads out. “Door open. You know your mother's rule.”

When he's out of earshot, Kurt gives him a quizzical look. “Why is it specifically your mom's rule?”

Blaine shrugs and feels his face get a little warm. “It's just -- Dad made it pretty clear where he stands on the whole thing during his -- the sex talk.”

Kurt's eyes widen a little. “He gave you the sex talk?”

He shrugs again. “Sort of. He basically just said that he remembers what it feels like to be sixteen and in love and he's not naïve enough to think we're not going to -- that we won't ever -- you know.”

Kurt doesn't say anything.

“He told me to make sure we didn't do anything anywhere public enough to get us arrested. And then told me I wasn't allowed to tell my mom anything he just told me. Apparently she is naïve enough to think that you and I won't -- that we're too young to -- that -- you know. That.”

Kurt gives him a small nod. Blaine tries to keep himself from turning any redder because they're juniors in high school and they've been dating a whole year and have known each other practically their whole lives so talking about sex shouldn't be this nerve wracking, even though they've never really talked about it before.

“My dad gave me one, too,” Kurt says finally.

“Oh?”

“He said that I should wait until I'm thirty. Or married.”

Blaine's jaw drops. “He wants us to wait until we get married? Who knows how long that could even be, Kurt! Years. A decade, maybe! Well okay, probably not a decade but still, how could he possible think that's reasonable? Or practical?”

Kurt's eyes are wide.

Blaine retraces his words and realizes that crap, he totally just told his boyfriend of only a year that they'd be getting married some day in the very near future and dammit, isn't that just embarrassing.

“I only meant -- not that I was telling you that you have to -- I was just trying --” he sputters.

Kurt ducks his head but Blaine can still see his smile.

“Alright boys, we're leaving,” his mom says as she stops in the doorway and smooths down her dress. “Kurt, honey, your dad wants you to head on over to your house until you're ready to drive up to Cleveland.”

Blaine rolls his eyes. Translation: Kurt and Blaine are not to be left unsupervised together ever until the end of time.

“Blaine, dear, give yourself enough time,” she says, putting on her earrings. “It's still snowing so I'm sure the highways will be awful. And you know how terrible traffic is in Cleveland.”

“Yes, Mom,” he says.

She gives them one last glance before heading downstairs. They hear the door open and close then hear Mr. Hummel's car drive away.

They stare at each other. “I should probably head home,” Kurt frowns.

“Or,” Blaine argues, “You could stay for a bit. I think Cooper's meeting some girl so it'll just be the two of us here.” He leaves it at that because hello, they are alone and in love and really, Kurt shouldn't need any convincing.

Kurt's face lights up. “Or I could stay for a bit. We don't have to get ready just yet.”

Alone in his bedroom still seems a little overwhelming so they head back downstairs and reclaim their spot on the couch under a blanket and resume watching whatever Christmas movie is showing on ABC Family. Every once in awhile, Kurt nuzzles at Blaine's neck, his breath giving Blaine goosebumps and speeding up his heart rate a little. They kiss sometimes during the commercials but nothing with too much intent behind it.

Until a little later when yeah, it definitely starts to have intent.

And then there's a soft knocking at the door. Knocking that won't stop. Blaine tears himself away from the couch, from the blanket, from Kurt, to answer it and it's Finn, eyes wide with his finger up to his mouth like he's preemptively shushing him. He's holding the cordless house phone.

Blaine gives him a quizzical look but Finn gestures for Kurt. When he shows up alongside Blaine, Finn says, “Okay, Burt, he just got out of the shower. Here he is.”

He hands the phone to Kurt who stares at it before putting it up to his ear. “Dad?”

While he has a conversation with his dad, Finn narrows his eyes at Blaine and whispers, “He's doing random checks, Blaine. He's making sure Kurt's at our house and not at your house.”

Blaine blinks. “Oh.”

“But guess what? He is at your house.”

“Right,” Blaine says slowly.

“So you two owe me.”

Blaine resists the urge to point out the ten million times Kurt's covered for him or done him favors or when Blaine did his Spanish homework for a month. “Noted,” he says instead.

Kurt ends the call and hands the phone back to Finn. “Thanks,” he says, gratitude radiating from every fiber of his being.

Finn shakes his head. “You owe me. You don't even know how much you owe me right now.” Then he turns and makes his way across the street again.

They settle back on the couch and start watching the next movie but within fifteen minutes, they're sitting a little more horizontally than they were at the beginning and somewhere along the way, Blaine lost his cardigan.

Then Kurt's phone rings. And two seconds later, so does Blaine's. It's his dad and he answers cautiously, trying to prepare himself in case he needs to lie about Kurt's whereabouts.

“Hey, Blaine,” he starts off. “I'm assuming Kurt's there with you?”

“Uh, what?” he stammers. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” his dads says slowly, “It's about time you three left to head on up here, right?”

“Oh, right,” Blaine sighs. “Totally. We were just getting ready to leave.”

Kurt shoots him a skeptical look but continues whatever conversation he's having with his own dad.

“I'm actually calling to tell you not to leave,” his dad says. “They declared it a level three emergency. Cars aren't supposed to be on the road.”

“What? Seriously?” he asks, making his way to the window.

“I'm sure Kurt could have told you how bad it is seeing as that he's been at his own house this entire time and would have just walked across the street a few minutes ago.”

“Right,” Blaine says, trying to make his voice sound as least sketchy as possible. “Yes. That. That's -- what happened. Just now.”

His dad hums in response. Blaine knows he's not buying it but he hopes against hope that he doesn't rat them out to Mr. Hummel.

“Look,” his dad says eventually. “We're getting a hotel room after the show. There's no way you can make it here and there's no way we're making it to your aunt's house for the party.”

“Oh,” Blaine replies, not sure what else to say. Is he seriously going to be able to spend a night together with Kurt unsupervised? Is this real life?

“Be safe,” his dad sighs. “In every way. I'm trusting the two of you to make good decisions tonight, Blaine. I know you're sixteen and I know you'll be alone all night with your boyfriend so be careful.” He pauses. “And please don't go near the stove.”

“Yes,” Blaine agrees breathlessly. “I won't, I promise. Or I mean -- I will. I'll be careful.”

His dad's quiet for a few moments. “We'll call after the show to check in on you, make sure you're doing okay. Your mother and I love you. Talk to you later.”

“Love you, too,” he says.

After a long pause: “I really mean it about the stove, Blaine.”

“Fine, whatever, Dad,” he says, annoyed. “Go finish the play.”

Kurt ends his call at the same time and he looks to Blaine with wide eyes. “Dad's not coming home. None of them are coming home.”

“I know,” Blaine smiles. “We have all night to just be together.”

Kurt returns the smile but only briefly. “My dad was pretty serious about me staying at my house tonight. And you staying at yours.”

Blaine's face falls a little. “Right,” he says. “Sure.”

Kurt gives him a look that Blaine can't quite figure out. “So we need to be really careful that he never finds out I'm here. Like ever.”

“Yeah?” Blaine asks hopefully. “You'll stay?”

Kurt huffs out a quiet laugh. “Of course, Blaine. Like I'd rather be anywhere else.”

They settle back on the couch but the air suddenly seems a little thicker, the mood a little heavier. Making out in the living room takes on a completely different tone now knowing that no one could possibly interrupt them, knowing that without a shadow of a doubt they will be completely totally left to themselves.

“Hi,” Blaine whispers after they sit and watch each other for a few minutes, ignoring whatever movie is on in the background.

“Hi,” Kurt whispers back. His eyes keep darting down to Blaine's torso which is only covered by a thin t-shirt now that his cardigan is balled up somewhere on the floor. He seems fixated on Blaine's arms.

Blaine smiles to himself at the knowledge that his boyfriend is staring at him. Like, staring at him. He never knew how awesome it would be to feel ogled. He shifts a little closer to get rid of some of the space between them.

Kurt looks away nervously.

“You can look at me,” Blaine says quietly. “I like when you do.”

Kurt meets his eyes. “You do?”

He gives Kurt an embarrassed smile. “I look at you all the time.”

Kurt cocks his head.

“Like, all the time, Kurt,” he continues. “Sometimes I feel creepy but then I remind myself that you're my boyfriend and I love you and that you're the one person in the world I'm allowed to look at all the time.”

He gives Blaine a slow, small smile. “I look at you all of the time, too.”

Blaine gets a warm feeling that spreads through his chest. “Do you want to go upstairs?” he asks quietly.

Kurt's smile briefly falls. “I -- I don't know.”

“We don't have to do anything,” Blaine rushes to reassure him. “But we won't get too many opportunities to just be together on my bed, nice and warm under my comforter.”

After a long moment, Kurt gives a small nod. “Okay.”

Blaine grabs his hand to lead him upstairs, heart thumping in his chest, when there's a knock on the door again.

And again, it's Finn holding the cordless phone. His face is red and he has thick black gloves on. He hands the phone to Kurt.

“Hey, Dad!” Kurt says cheerfully.

As they talk, Finn gives Blaine an unimpressed look. “This sucks. Do you know how hard it was to walk over here?”

Blaine glances behind Finn and oh my god, there's so much snow coming down so heavily that he can't even make out Kurt's house across the street. It's like the damn tundra.

“Yeah,” Finn says, noticing Blaine's shock. “It sucks.”

“I -- wow.” And even though it pains him to say it, he says, “You can stay here if you want, Finn. Instead of walking back.”

Finn glances between Kurt's mussed hair and Blaine's half naked torso and blinks. “I would rather be stranded out there in the middle of the road.”

Blaine shrugs. “Suit yourself.”

Kurt's off the phone a few moments later so they say a quick goodbye to Finn then continue to make their way upstairs. It's not long until they're both huddled under the thick comforter, faces only a few inches from each other with matching shy smiles. After a few moments of quiet, Kurt whispers, “I want it to be you, you know.”

Blaine doesn't need to ask him what he's talking about. “Me, too,” he says. “You've had all my firsts, Kurt. I want you to have that one, too.”

Kurt doesn't respond right away. “Do you ever think about it?”

His eyes widen with skepticism and he lets out a small laugh. “Sex? Do I ever think about sex?”

He shrugs and looks defensive.

“Kurt,” Blaine says with a laugh. “Of course I do. I'm sixteen with a hot boyfriend. How could I not?”

Kurt looks away for a moment. “You never said.”

“I think it's a given,” Blaine tells him, shifting even closer on the bed. “Why? Don't you?”

He shrugs again. “I do. I just -- I wasn't ready.”

“I know,” Blaine says soothingly. “And I will never ever be that guy that pushes you to do anything you don't feel comfortable doing. I hope you know that.”

He nods. “I do.”

Blaine gives him a small smile but then replays what Kurt just said and notices that he was totally using past tense, holy shit. “Uh, you said you weren't ready. You didn't say you aren't ready.”

Kurt eyes him.

Blaine's heart is beating rapidfire again. “You used the past tense,” he points out. “Is that -- is there a reason you didn't use present tense?”

Kurt blinks. “Yes.”

He swallows thickly. “Are you saying...?” he trails off before taking a deep breath. “What are you saying?”

“I'm saying that I'm ready, Blaine,” he answers quietly.

“Oh,” he says dumbly.

“Are you?” Kurt asks. There's no mistaking the nervousness in his voice.

“What?” Blaine replies, more than a little stunned. This is so not the direction he thought this night would go. “Yeah. I mean -- yes. Yes, Kurt, yes. I've -- yes. Yes definitely.”

Kurt grins and quietly laughs. “So that's a yes.”

“It's an emphatic heart-felt yes,” he agrees. He stops laughing, though, and gives Kurt a serious look. “I love you, you know.”

“I know,” he whispers back. “I love you, too.”

It starts out slow and sweet like it usually does and it's obvious how nervous Kurt still is. Blaine forces himself to not let his hands travel too far south because he knows the only way he'll be comfortable is if he lets Kurt set the pace. He doesn't have to wait long, though, because after a few minutes, Kurt shifts and rolls on top of him in one swift move. Blaine can't do anything but stare up at him, suddenly breathless with anticipation, on edge about what happens next, what's happening right now.

“You're okay with all of this, right?” Blaine asks. He can hear how shallow his breathing has become.

“Yes,” Kurt answers quietly, no hesitation.

They stare at each other for a few moments, Kurt somehow managing to look both shy and determined. He pulls his shirt up over his head and Blaine briefly looks away out of habit. He tries to calm his nerves and reminds himself that he's allowed to look, that it's sort of the whole point. He glances back and meets Kurt's eyes again. Kurt leans down to gently tug Blaine's shirt off, too, and he sits up to make it easier. After it's discarded at the foot of the bed, Blaine leans in to give him a light barely-there kiss, just something to bring him back the moment, something to ground him.

It's not long until it's more heated, a little hurried and uncontrolled, and it's really not like anything Blaine thought it would be.

He thought it would be sort of gentle and soft and that they'd take their time but it's obvious very early on that it's not going to happen that way, not this time.

He thought he'd be ready for what it would feel like, how he'd feel. The physical part, yeah that's basically everything he'd dreamed it would be but the emotional part -- he's totally caught off-guard. He's always been closer to Kurt than to anyone else he's ever met but this -- it's more powerful, more intense, more emotional. Just … more.

And he thought that it would be some huge poignant experience, they'd maybe feel reverent and serious about it. It's not, though, because there's laughter when Blaine elbows Kurt right in the cheekbone and more when Kurt spends like, four whole minutes just trying to take off his own pants.

But it's good. Really good. He at least got that part right.

“This is my favorite part,” Kurt says quietly afterward, limbs tangled together and so close that they're sharing inhales and exhales.

Blaine rolls his eyes. “Then I must be doing something seriously wrong.”

He laughs. “No, I mean how close I feel to you right now. Like there's a new connection we never had before.”

Blaine nods and presses a kiss to Kurt's temple. “I know,” he agrees quietly.

“I never want to move,” Kurt says after a few minutes of silence.

“Then don't,” he replies. “We can just stay in here forever.”

They're both quiet for awhile and Blaine can feel himself drifting off to sleep as he listens to Kurt's steady breathing.

And then there's the damn knocking again. “Don't go,” Blaine pleads, suddenly wide awake, pulling Kurt close to him.

He laughs. “I don't have a choice, Blaine. You know it's probably Finn with the phone.”

“Don't,” he says again but Kurt's already off the bed and putting on a shirt and sweats and dear god those are totally Blaine's pants and shirt and he's sort of speechless at how awesome that is.

“Blaine,” he warns but he's still grinning. “He can't know I'm here.”

“Who cares?” Blaine says, eyes wide. Kurt shoots him a look. “I'm serious, I'll take full responsibility for you being here when we get caught. Total and utter blame.”

He pauses and raises an eyebrow. “Oh? And how do you intend to pull that off?”

Blaine sits up. “I will tell him that I dragged you over here against your own will. Forcibly. At gun point.”

Kurt ducks his head and shakes it. “Right, that's totally believable. And after that, I'm sure my dad will be thrilled to let his son spend time with his gun-toting, thieving kidnapper of a boyfriend.”

Blaine gives him a defeated sigh and flops down back on the bed as Kurt walks down the stairs. He stares at the ceiling and hears Kurt answer the door and start talking to someone, Finn or Burt or whoever. It's lonely in his bed and it seems empty now, too big. He wonders if it'll always feel like that now that he knows what it feels like to have Kurt under the covers beside him. He sighs and gets dressed before heading downstairs. He sees Kurt talking on the cordless while Finn stands in the doorway letting cold air and snow inside but Kurt finishes his conversation and ends the call before Blaine can say anything.

Kurt winces. “So that was my dad. And he knows I'm not at the house.”

Blaine gives him a sympathetic look even though he knows he's probably going to be in as much trouble as Kurt tomorrow.

“I'd like to say that the oh-so-believable excuse of, and I quote, Kurt is taking a number two right now in the bathroom is what gave it away,” he says, giving Finn an irritated sigh, “but he's not dumb. Plus, he said the snow plow in the background was sort of a telltale sign.”

As if on cue, there's a loud beeping and scraping a few feet away and they all startle. Blaine looks over Finn's shoulder and stares wide-eyed at the snowplow's aftermath while Finn starts to full on panic.

Because there is no way he is crossing the street now.

Blaine's jaw drops and Kurt peers out the window to see what they're both gaping at. “Oh,” he says. “Well then.”

Blaine's eyes dart up to Finn's. “I guess -- you're staying here then?”

Finn's still panicking. “What? No! I can still make it back over!”

Kurt gives him a skeptical look. “Seriously, Finn? That snow pile must be ten feet. And I can't even see our house from here.”

Blaine sighs, resigned.

“That plow guy should be fired!” Finn says, still worked up. “Who piles all of the snow in front of a house? And on the sidewalk? There's no way I could get around that! He should be fired!”

“We have Hot Pockets?” Blaine tries.

Finn pauses. “Sausage? Or one of the lame chicken ones?”

“I -- sausage maybe. I don't know,” he answers. “Just come in and shut the door.”

He looks over to Kurt and they share a meaningful look before Kurt mouths an apology.

Finn shifts but doesn't fully turn away from the door. He's still staring longingly outside.

“And I think my dad has some Die Hard movies,” Blaine tries again. “Come on.”

So it's not exactly the ideal way to enjoy the afterglow but whatever, he'll take it. Kurt makes a few sandwiches and heats up the Hot Pockets and they sit around the kitchen table in silence. Halfway through the meal, Finn groans quietly and says, “That's actually my leg, Blaine.”

And then the power goes out. Finn swears under his breath. “Still my leg, Blaine!”

There's some rustling before Kurt lights two candles and places them in the center of the table. He grins across the table because it's basically like an impromptu romantic candlelit dinner and that is the ideal way to enjoy the afterglow.

Finn sighs and mutters something under his breath. “I'm going in the living room.”

“There's no light,” Kurt reminds him carefully.

Finn gives him a blank look. “Dude, if my options are sitting between you two trying to play footsie while Kurt wears Blaine's clothes -- yeah I'm not dumb enough to not notice Kurt wearing an OSU t-shirt, guys -- or sitting alone in the dark, I'll take the pitch black living room.”

Kurt stares at him, silent.

“Well at least take a candle then,” Blaine says. He slides the red one across.

“I hate apple, give me the pumpkin flavored one,” he says, reaching in front of Kurt to grab the brown candle instead.

As he walks away, Blaine frowns and resists the urge to point out that candles are scented and not flavored because he assumes Finn knows not to like, eat a candle.

It's just the two of them again and they smile across the table.

“Want to go back upstairs?” Blaine asks, giving him an exaggerated eyebrow waggle.

Kurt shakes his head and laughs quietly. “Lead the way.”

They head upstairs with the candle and lie on the bed, whispering about college and high school gossip and the latest Britney scandal. After an hour, they hear some movement in the hallway on the other side of the closed door.

“I'm walking down the hallway,” Finn calls out. “Just going to the bathroom.”

A few more minutes pass.

“Walking back down the hallway,” he says. “Going back downstairs.”

“What's with the narration?” Blaine asks Kurt quietly.

He shrugs. “We heard our parents being … intimate last month. Then he walked in on Sam doing something -- he still won't tell me what and I can't say that I'm in a hurry to find out -- and before that he had to stay in the same room as Puck after that Halloween party who apparently had two dates which means there were four people and one bunk bed.”

Blaine grimaces.

“So he's pretty traumatized,” Kurt continues, “and now this.”

He thinks about having to stay alone in a pitch-black, silent house with Cooper and some girl and suddenly, Blaine feels super bad for Finn. He heads downstairs and sets him up with a fully charged laptop (with noise cancelling headphones) and a copy of Casino Royale. He shows him where the chips and cookies and soda are kept even though he probably knows already.

Then he goes back upstairs, stares at Kurt wearing his OSU t-shirt because yeah, still totally awesome, and climbs in bed to think about how everything will be different now, about how they're different now. He's happy and warm and comfortable and so grateful for how perfect his life is. Blaine might not believe in Santa anymore but falls asleep thanking him anyway.

: : :

They're up early the next morning because they both know there's a difference between their parents assuming they're in the same bed together and their parents actually seeing them in the same bed together. Kurt gives him a chaste kiss on the cheek before getting out of bed and carefully folding his clothes, still wearing Blaine's pajamas. He reminds Blaine about their gift exchange that afternoon and gives him a shy smile from the doorway before heading downstairs to grab Finn and go home.

When his parents pull into the driveway, Blaine is still in bed staring at his ceiling, unable to stop smiling.

A few hours later, he braves the blizzard-like conditions to make his way across the street. He knocks on the Hummel door and tries to ease his nerves but isn't too successful. He can't stop picturing what it'll be like when Kurt opens the door, how they'll smile at each other, how they'll look at each other differently now, how things will be a little more intense --

But it's not Kurt who opens the door. It's Mr. Hummel. Blaine swallows and tries to keep his face neutral. He knows that shifty eyes and flushed cheeks in front of your boyfriend's dad basically screams yeah I totally had sex with your son last night!

Mr. Hummel doesn't say much, though. They watch each other for a few seconds before he claps his hand over Blaine's shoulder and directs him inside towards the living room. There's a football game on and Finn's already in the recliner watching intensely.

“Second half just started,” Mr Hummel says.

“Oh,” Blaine says weakly. “Actually, Kurt -- we were going to do our gift exchange.”

He looks over at Blaine with an unreadable expression. “Well he's taking a shower right now so the way I see it, you've got yourself a free half hour.” He's quiet for a moment. “You can take your gloves off, kid.”

Blaine nods and takes off his hat and his gloves but leaves the scarf in place. Mr. Hummel notices but doesn't say anything.

They all sit in silence for awhile and Blaine focuses on listening for the bathroom door upstairs to open. A few minutes before the end of the third quarter, Burt says, “Huntsman is their second-string running back.”

Blaine glances towards him, unsure what to say. “Oh?”

But Mr. Hummel's eyes are still trained on the TV. “Rogers was carried off the field ten minutes into the first quarter.”

“Oh,” he says again, not sure where this is going.

They're all quiet again until Huntsman scores a touchdown. “He knows what it feels like now,” Burt says, finally looking over towards Blaine. “He knows what it's like to score a touchdown, that adrenaline rush. He'll never be able to go back.”

Blaine's eyes widen. Mr. Hummel is giving him a sex talk using a football metaphor oh god.

“And these football players, it's easy to get hurt,” Burt continues. “If they don't know what they're doing, if they don't communicate with each other out there on the field, if they don't protect themselves--”

Blaine clears his throat and feels his face on fire. “If it's Huntsman's first college game ever, I'm sure he -- I'm sure he was smart enough to wear protection, Mr. Hummel.”

He gives Blaine a considering look and looks like he's about to say something else when Kurt suddenly appears in the hallway. “I didn't know you were here,” he tells Blaine, voice bright.

He turns to face Kurt and smiles. “I brought your gift.”

They stare at each other for a long moment. “Are you going to stay down here and watch football or...?” he trails off.

Blaine turns back to Mr. Hummel. “Were you -- was that everything?” he asks cautiously. “It's okay to go upstairs now?”

Mr. Hummel nods and turns back to the TV.

“What was that about?” Kurt whispers as he leads Blaine up the stairs.

“Your dad just gave me a sex talk,” Blaine answers. “It was a football metaphor.”

Kurt doesn't seem too scandalized. “He gave me one this morning, too,” Kurt says. “He compared me to an understudy on Broadway who can never go back to the way things were after he receives his first standing ovation.”

Blaine's eyebrows shoot up as they make themselves comfortable on Kurt's bedroom floor. “He used the words standing ovation in a sex metaphor?”

“It was horrible,” Kurt answers but he doesn't seem too concerned.

“I guess I should be relieved he didn't compare me to a tight end or wide receiver?”

Kurt laughs but then falters when he sees Blaine is still wearing his winter scarf. He gives him an irritated look. “Really, Blaine? You kept your scarf on? Way to act subtle in front of my dad! Why would you do that?”

“Why?” Blaine asks, mouth falling open. “Why?”

Kurt doesn't say anything, just gives him another annoyed glare.

“This is why,” Blaine tells him as he unwraps the scarf from his neck to reveal two decent sized dark hickeys.

Kurt immediately shifts from annoyed to contrite. “Blaine, oh my god, I don't even remember doing that!”

Blaine slowly grins. “I do.”

Kurt lets out an embarrassed laugh and looks down at his lap. Blaine nudges Kurt's leg with his foot.

“Hey, you're okay, right? With last night? We're okay?”

Kurt looks up and meets his eyes. “Of course,” he says softly.

“You don't regret anything?” he asks.

He shakes his head emphatically. “No. I think it was perfect, Blaine.”

“Good,” he says with a smile. “Me, too.”

They stare at each other until Kurt breaks the gaze to reach under his bed to grab a wrapped gift. “Here,” he says. “You first.”

Blaine opens it to find the cardigan he's been wanting for months. The cardigan Kurt steadfastly refused to let him buy. “You got me this?” he asks, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice. “But you hate this cardigan!”

Kurt rolls his eyes. “I don't hate it. I never said that.”

Blaine looks at him skeptically. “I beg to differ. You loathed it.”

“You're exaggerating,” he answers.

(And really, he's not. When Blaine had originally held it up in front of him and showed it to Kurt, his response had been a disdainful No thanks, Blaine, pass. And Blaine had explained that no, he didn't mean for Kurt, he meant he wanted the cardigan for himself. Kurt had raised an unimpressed eyebrow and said Still no, Blaine, pass.)

Blaine thinks about arguing some more but decides it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

“You really liked it,” Kurt says finally. “So it doesn't matter if I know it's sub-par.”

He rolls his eyes.

“I'll support you,” he continues quietly. “For better or for worse.”

Blaine swallows thickly. “For better or for worse,” he echoes.

Kurt watches him carefully then gestures to the sweater. “Go on, I know you want to try it on.”

He hesitates. “I do,” he sighs. “But it won't exactly fit over my hoodie.”

“So?” Kurt says, confused. “Take it off.”

Blaine gives him a sheepish look. “I would but I didn't wear a shirt under it.”

“Oh,” he says, voice breathy. “Well that's okay.”

He nods but still hesitates, unsure. After a few moments, though, he tugs his arms out of the sleeves and as he's about to pull it over his head, he hears someone pause in the doorway and clear their throat.

Blaine turns to look behind him, eyes wide.

“I'm assuming you're both about to tell me this isn't what it looks like,” Mr. Hummel says, eyebrows raised. Before either of them can get any words out, he continues. “And I'm assuming that it actually isn't what it looks like. I'm assuming there's more to it than just my son's boyfriend undressing himself in my son's room.”

“Trying on a cardigan,” Blaine rushes to explain, holding it up for him to see.

“Well how about you hurry up and try it on then. And then you can keep it on.”

“Yes, sure,” he says quickly, pulling it over his head with no grace or finesse at all. Mr. Hummel is gone by the time Blaine looks back to the doorway. “This is so embarrassing,” he laments.

Kurt's smiling and doesn't seem too worked up at all. “My turn.”

“Okay,” he says nervously. “I didn't know what to give you this year so--”

“Don't say your virginity,” Kurt interrupts, unamused. “Don't say that's what you're giving me.”

Blaine mulls that over. “Well it's true.”

“Yes,” Kurt agrees. “And it's sweet. But I like when you give me actual tangible gifts, too.”

He falters. “Kurt. This isn't -- I didn't spend a lot of money.”

“When you give me gifts,” Kurt repeats softly. “I didn't say when you buy me gifts.”

Blaine takes a deep breath then pulls out the small box from his pocket.

“Yes, I will,” Kurt says instantly.

Blaine gives him a quizzical look before realizing what Kurt means. “Just open the box,” he tells him, shaking his head with a smile. But he files Kurt's immediate response away in the Really Good Things to Know for Future Reference folder, along with how sensitive Kurt is on that certain spot right below his collarbone, a discovery Blaine just made last night.

Kurt opens the box and stares at it for a few moments before meeting Blaine's eyes. “Blaine,” he says on an exhale. “This is--”

“It's a promise ring,” Blaine interrupts. “I made it out of gum wrappers.”

He can see the wheels turning in Kurt's head, thinking about how it takes Blaine hours just to wrap a few Christmas presents and about how long it must have taken him to fold and intertwine dozens and dozens of gum wrappers.

“I love it,” he says, voice still quiet.

“It's a promise to always be in love with you,” Blaine adds. There's a whole speech he has planned about all of the promises it entails. Promises to always support him, to always take his side, promises to always be his best friend and to never ever shut him out, a promise to try to spend the rest of his life being the best thing in Kurt's. None of the speech comes to him, though, and all he can think of is to say that he'll be in love with him always and hopes that encompasses all of the rest.

“Me, too,” Kurt agrees, clutching the box tightly with both hands. “I promise.”

After a few minutes, Blaine gives him a grin. “So which present do you like better? My promise to love you forever or my virginity?”

He's teasing but Kurt looks serious when he meets Blaine's eyes. “They sort of go hand-in-hand, don't you think?”

He nods and feels his heart beat a little faster. “Yes,” he agrees.

“How about you?” Kurt asks with a smile. “My virginity or your plebeian cardigan?”

“Oh the cardigan,” Blaine answers immediately. “Definitely the plebeian cardigan.”

They spend the next few hours lying on the floor watching a movie. Mr. Hummel is right, Blaine knows, because he can't ever go back to the way things were before. He's never felt closer to anyone than he does with Kurt, especially now. He can't ever imagine, nor would he want to, a place or a time when they don't share this connection.

“This my favorite Christmas yet,” he leans in to whisper to Kurt.

“I know,” he whispers back.

He pauses. “Not because of the cardigan,” he clarifies.

Kurt shifts a little closer, still propped up on his elbows, then entwines Blaine's hand with his own. “I know.”

“Well, partially because of the cardigan.”

Kurt rolls his eyes and ignores him.

Definitely his favorite Christmas yet.

: : :

Grade Twelve: (Christmas) Baby, Please Come Home: (you should be here with me)

Senior year, Blaine has plans. It's their last year in Lima and he's going to make it count. Sure, they'll still be home for Christmas break once they're in college but it won't be the same. So for their last year, there are plans. They're making sure to visit every single childhood spot: the Muppets theater, the ice skating rink in Columbus, a concert up in Cleveland, hot chocolate from like everywhere, and (as a newer addition) dinner at a few romantic restaurants that he can totally afford thanks to some sweet birthday checks from his grandparents. So yeah, there are plans. Good plans.

And then Blaine basically loses his shit.

It's the week before Christmas break starts and Blaine logs on to Facebook to check his new messages. He assumes there'll be a new one from Harold, his NYADA roommate for next year, and Blaine dutifully sends him a response every time. He doesn't need to start his freshman year at college off on a bad foot so he tries as hard as humanly possible to establish some kind of rapport with his roommate but seriously. This guy. He seems nice as hell but … oh my god. He wrote an entire message about his label makers. Plural because he has three. He even went into great detail about the difference of functionality and capability between each model. But whatever, he seems nice. He'll probably fit in well with all the other weird screenwriters there.

The most Kurt has said, though, is that his roommate seems okay, I suppose, nothing alarming. So Blaine decides to take a few minutes and check him out. With the amount of time Blaine assumes he'll be spending in his boyfriend's room, it seems like a justified curiosity. So Blaine clicks his name to learn a little more about Vaughn. Yeah, his name is Vaughn.

And Vaughn is alarming.

Very alarming.

Hence Blaine losing his shit.

He calls Kurt immediately, not able to drag his eyes away from Mr. Adonis.

“Hi,” Kurt says as soon as he answers, voice coy and sweet but Blaine does not have any time for flirty pleasantries at the moment.

“Vaughn?” he asks. “You didn't mention his name was Vaughn.”

Kurt is quiet. “Who?” And after a few moments: “Oh, my roommate?”

“Yes, your roommate,” Blaine says. “The one you said, and I quote, 'seems vanilla'.”

He's quiet again. “I did say that, yes.”

Blaine clenches his jaw. “How is this guy vanilla, Kurt?”

Kurt is silent.

But Blaine is undeterred. “Is it his perfectly coiffed blond hair? His six foot one build? His seemingly perfect muscle tone? The pearly white smile? His jawline?”

Kurt is still quiet for a few moments. “You seem rather taken with him.”

“Taken?” he asks, voice borderline unrecognizable. “Taken?

Kurt sighs.

“Or wait,” Blaine continues. “Maybe it's the part that says Interested In Men on his page. Or the part where he left a status update about being 'really really excited for all the possibilities of dorm life'?

“So you're angry?” Kurt deduces. “You're angry with me about random room assignments?”

Blaine raises his eyebrows, momentarily stunned. “He will be sharing a room with you, Kurt! It'll be your bed and then a few feet and then his bed. We saw the dorm rooms! We know how small they are!”

He sighs again.

“Seriously? You're okay with this?”

“With what, Blaine? Having a roommate?”

“A gay roommate,” Blaine clarifies. “That looks like he maybe stepped off a page in a Greek mythology textbook.”

“It's a performing arts school,” Kurt reminds him. “I'm guessing a good portion of the male population is gay.”

“Yeah but a good portion of the population is not rooming with you, Kurt. Mr. Greek Adonis is rooming with you.”

“So … what?” he asks after a long pause. “What is it that you want from me?”

“I want you to request a room transfer,” he says before the crazy part of his brain has time to catch up with the less-crazy parts that typically serve as a pretty good verbal filter.

“You .. what?” he asks, thrown. “You're not serious.”

“Incredibly serious,” Blaine says, sitting up a little straighter in his desk chair. “You have no idea how serious.”

Kurt is quiet for a few moments and when he speaks again, he sounds less confused and more frustrated. “So this is about trust.”

“Yes,” Blaine agrees. “I don't trust that guy.”

“You don't trust me,” Kurt clarifies. “You think that the second I'm exposed to a gay classmate that isn't you, I'll lose all inhibitions and throw myself at the first person glancing my way.”

“No,” he argues. “I'm saying that as your boyfriend, I'm a little uncomfortable with you spending every single night mere feet away from some gay Greek Adonis.”

“You're saying that as a boyfriend, you don't trust me,” he reiterates.

“I do trust you,” he says. “It's--”

“You don't, though,” he interrupts. “You actually want me to put in a transfer. Do you get how crazy that sounds?”

Blaine wants to see reason, he really does, but all he can picture is the two of them during a cold winter night, Vaughn the Greek Adonis saying we should push our twin beds together and huddle close for body warmth, Kurt. “It doesn't sound crazy at all, actually.”

There's silence on the other end.

“What does it matter?” Blaine says after a few moments. “It shouldn't be a big deal to put in a transfer request if you don't care about Adonis one way or the other.”

“Stop calling him Adonis,” Kurt says, voice irritated.

And then. To top the whole argument off with a little insanity and a lot of delusion, Blaine takes it one step further:

“As your boyfriend, I'm saying you need to, Kurt.”

He lets out a little surprised gasp. “Are you serious right now?

Blaine takes a moment of sane clarity to retrace what he just said. “Well, I just mean -- it's not like I'm asking you to -- look, Kurt, I'm only saying --”

“Are you putting your foot down, Blaine? Is that what you're doing?” he asks, his voice like acid.

Blaine flinches at the tone. “No, it's just -- what's the big deal?”

Kurt lets out an irritated sigh. “I'm wondering the same thing.”

“Okay you're sharing a room with a gay Greek god, are you not seeing that?”

“Clearly not,” he says, sounding more and more offended by the moment. “So … what, I'm just with you out of convenience, Blaine?”

“What? No, I just --”

“And the second we're apart in a city that's not Lima, Ohio, I'm abandoning you for some underwear model?”

His eyes widen. “He's an underwear model?”

“Blaine --”

“I didn't even know that part! Kurt, no way you're rooming with this guy!”

There's silence. “Are you legitimately telling me what I can and can't do?”

Which is such an un-Blaine move but seriously, this guy is blond and chiseled and built and apparently an underwear model and Blaine's sanity and reason have taken a momentary vacation. “In this particular instance, yes,” he says.

More silence.

“Kurt?” he tries after a few moments.

“You're actually serious. I can't believe this.”

… and the fight goes on from there for another ten minutes. It's not pretty and it ends even messier than it started. Basically Blaine is horrible for trying to be all territorial and Kurt is insensitive for not taking his boyfriend's feelings into into consideration and blah blah blah, by the time they end the call, they're not on speaking terms.

So yeah, not their best conversation.

Monday doesn't go well. It's third period before any of their friends even realize they're not speaking. Lunchtime is awkward. Kurt sits at one end of their usual table and Blaine sits at the other. Everyone else eyes the two of them warily before taking their seat and what follows is maybe the most tense lunch period in the history of cafeterias. They only make eye contact twice and Blaine is not relieved to see that Kurt looks as miserable as Blaine feels.

Tuesday is no better. Their friends have already lost interest in the fight so when Kurt sits in the left back corner for glee and Blaine sits in the right front corner, everyone else sits somewhere in the middle and pays them no attention. At three o'clock when the bell rings, Blaine slumps in his chair as he watches Kurt walk out of the classroom. Tuesday is the night that Carole has the late shift so it's pretty much the only window they get for any semblance of alone time but this Tuesday is clearly the exception. Kurt gets a ride home from Finn and Blaine sits in the library to study for an hour, no hurry to get home. His bedroom is full of reminders: their junior prom photo on the wall, Kurt's senior class picture on his nightstand, the desk lamp Kurt bought him at some antique store, the unfinished quilt Kurt started when he was eleven, their halfway-completed French assignment sitting on top of his desk. He actually could not be in any less of a hurry to get home. And when he does finally make his way to his room, he lies on his bed and stares towards the window, wonders if Kurt's doing the same.

Wednesday is, unsurprisingly, also awful. When the last bell rings, Sam forcibly grabs him by the arm and drags him to Mike's house for some after-school video games. Blaine tries to play but his heart's not in it and Mike's living room is sort of empty without Tina and Kurt. He shoots Sam a mournful stare. “It's not the same,” Blaine says. “The game sort of loses some appeal without Kurt's commentary.”

Sam stares at him in disbelief. “No, it doesn't.”

“It does,” Blaine argues with a sigh, handing his controller over to Artie. “Because this part here,” he gestures vaguely to the TV screen, “this is the part where he criticizes the realism.”

Everyone stares at him in silence.

“Do something,” Sam says under his breath, nudging Finn.

He gives him a confused look. “What am I supposed to do?”

“You're his brother, you live with him,” Sam answers. “Tell Blaine how to fix this.”

Finn meets Blaine's eyes and gives an awkward shrug. “I don't know, man. Just apologize. When he's pissed at me, that's all I do. Even when I don't know what I did.”

“Apologize,” Blaine scoffs. “He's the one that should apologize.”

Mike looks hesitant but asks anyway. “What did you even do, Blaine?”

“What did I do?” he echoes, eyes wide. “Nothing! I did nothing. I merely tried to address the fact that my boyfriend will essentially be living with another guy next year. Kurt didn't appreciate my observation.”

Mike eyes him like maybe he knows Blaine is bullshitting this whole thing. “That?” he asks. “That's what this is all about? Some random roommate? If so, this has been blown incredibly out of proportion.”

“No,” Sam says, shaking his head. “I've seen this guy. I'd be flipping out, too.”

Blaine's mouth falls open a little. This conversation is not helping his paranoia.

“Truth,” Artie agrees. “If I had a thing for guys, I'd have a thing for this guy.”

Blaine stares wide-eyed.

“Who wouldn't?” Finn adds. “Did you know he was All-State in Soccer, Basketball and Volleyball?”

“Really?” Sam says. “There's not too many guys--”

“Stop!” Blaine calls out. “Do you think any of this is helping?”

They're all silent and stare at him.

“Probably not,” Sam says after awhile.

“No, not really,” Artie admits.

Blaine sulks for the next half hour and wallows in his misery. He alternates between picturing Kurt and Vaughn ice skating under the moonlight and picturing them sharing a hot chocolate with two straws. They're both horrible images to focus on as he falls asleep.

Thursday he finally starts to break. He sort of stops caring about who's right or about how much Kurt hurt his feelings because god, he's lonely. They haven't talked to each other or even texted and it's starting to weigh on him. This is the worst it's ever been, the longest they've ever gone. He stresses about it all throughout dinner and by the time he's done doing the dishes, he's finished writing the apology speech he started in his head hours ago. The walk across the street to the Hummel house seems endless and Blaine barely even waves hello to Mr. Hummel when he walks through their living room and heads towards the stairs. When he reaches the top of the staircase, Blaine sees Finn coming out of Kurt's room, carefully shutting the door behind.

“Blaine?” he says. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Blaine replies. They stare at each other.

“So what are you doing here?” Finn asks.

He shrugs. “I came to talk to Kurt. To apologize, really.”

Finn lets out a sigh of relief. “Awesome. This whole fight has sucked, Blaine.”

He nods. “I know. And I just -- he's right. I was being dumb.”

Finn gives him a sympathetic smile. “Yeah, and he's really not all that bad. Once you meet him, I'm sure you'll like him plenty.”

“Who?” Blaine asks, looking confused.

“Vaughn,” Finn answers, gesturing to Kurt's room behind him. “Just met him.”

Blaine's heart stops. “He's -- is Vaughn in his room?”

Finn shoots him a dubious look but Blaine's too close to having a nervous breakdown to care. “They're talking over Skype.”

Blaine blinks and feels his heartbeat resume to its normal speed but has no idea what to say, genuinely speechless.

“You okay?” Finn asks after a few long moments of silence.

And what kind of question is that? No, of course he isn't okay. How could things possibly be okay?

Finn stares at him warily when Blaine still doesn't respond and suddenly, he knows he needs to leave. Before Kurt hears them out in the hall, before Blaine has to see Vaughn on Kurt's computer monitor, before anything could possibly happen, he needs to leave.

“This was a mistake,” he mutters as he turns to head back down the stairs.

“Blaine?” Finn asks, confused. Blaine ignores him and is almost to the front door when he hears Kurt's door open.

“Blaine?” Kurt asks. “Where are you going? Why are you -- wait, don't leave!”

But he ignores Kurt, too, and shuts the door behind him before running back to his own house. Kurt calls him twice but Blaine ignores both and throws himself on his bed, clutching his phone in his hand. Kurt then sends him a text: Why did you leave? Blaine clenches his jaw and types back: I shouldn't have even been there. It was a mistake.

His phone rings again and even though he wants to ignore it, his energy and anger and frustration are too pent up. “Hi, Kurt,” he grits out.

“A mistake?” Kurt says. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that I was being dumb, Kurt. I went over there thinking an apology would fix everything but then I found out you two have been Skyping each other and I remembered that this is not my fault! None of it. I don't have anything to apologize for!”

“Once!” Kurt argues. “We talked one time, Blaine! You're still blowing this whole thing out of proportion.”

And Blaine is so angry that he's shaking. He sits up on his bed and tries to regulate his breathing. “You knew how upset I've been,” he tells him. “You knew how I felt and how -- how insecure I was about this guy and how stressed I was about next year so in the midst of us not speaking, you decide to have like, a virtual date with him? Do--”

“A date?” Kurt hisses. “Vaughn and I live two thousand miles away from each other, Blaine. We talked over Skype for maybe fifteen minutes while he did some homework and I stared out the window at my boyfriend's house. Call me crazy but that doesn't sound like a date to me.”

“It doesn't matter,” Blaine replies, voice steady. “None of that matters. What matters is that your boyfriend was upset about something. He was upset and worried and stressed and when the moment came, you intentionally made it worse instead of trying to make it better.”

Kurt lets out an exasperated sigh. “I didn't intentionally do anything, Blaine. I had a dumb conversation with Vaughn and that doesn't have anything to do with our relationship.”

“That's where you're wrong,” Blaine says softly. “We're together, Kurt. We love each other. It has everything to do with our relationship.”

Kurt's quiet.

“This is why I left,” Blaine explains. “Because you still can't see how insensitive you're being.”

“Insensitive?” Kurt repeats, irritated. “Or maybe it's because you still can't see how irrational you're being.”

“Whatever,” Blaine mutters. “Hope you have a good rest of the night, Kurt. Give Vaughn a big fat kiss goodnight for me.”

“Blaine --” he starts then falters. “Fine. Goodnight.”

He ends the call and subtly tries to wipe at his eyes even though no one is around to see. He falls asleep dreading having to see Kurt face-to-face during glee the next day.

So yeah, Friday, that doesn't go so well either. They continue on with their mutual silent treatment then end the day with a stereotypical glee practice wherein one couple awkwardly airs (via song) their relationship woes. Blaine sings Last Christmas in front of the whole class, loudly and passionately, making sure to direct all the truly heartfelt sentiments directly towards Kurt. I gave you my heart, he sings, but the very next day you gave it away. Kurt rolls his eyes and shifts in his chair but Blaine only gives it a few more moments until he's right in front of his chair again, staring at him as he sings, Now I know what I fool I've been, I thought you were someone to rely on, But you tore me apart.

Kurt lets out an irritated sigh as he leaves the classroom after the bell rings but Blaine doesn't fail to notice how sad he looks, how he's worn the same shirt twice this week.

And then it's the weekend. His friends refuse to let him out of their sight like maybe they think left unsupervised, Blaine will end up in the fetal position crying under his covers until Monday morning. (In their defense, it's sort of tempting.) On Saturday, they have a movie marathon in Artie's basement. They finish the night with Star Trek because it's the only movie they all agree on: Artie likes the cinematography, Sam's into the sci-fi of it all, Mike's never seen it, and Blaine's … well, it's got Chris Pine, so. Eventually, though, not even Chris Pine can distract Blaine from dwelling on the fight he and his boyfriend are in. He starts to get fidgety and says, “Let's do something, guys. It's almost Christmas. Let's so something Christmas-y.”

No one says anything.

“Like ice skating, maybe,” Blaine suggests.

“No,” Sam says immediately. “The last time we went, I fell down and slid across like, ten feet of ice on my stomach. You assholes laughed at me and Kurt was the only one who helped me up.” He frowns like maybe he's reliving the moment all over again. “My abs hurt for weeks,” he mourns quietly to himself.

“Fine,” Blaine says. “Let's drive to Columbus. They have the lights up. We can go shopping because I know for a fact that none of you have gotten anything for your girlfriends yet.”

“No,” Artie says, rolling his eyes. “Going up and down that damn escalator isn't as fun for everyone as it is for you, Blaine. Some of us are relegated to the elevator.”

He sighs. “Okay, the theater then. There's another showing of the Muppet movie in an hour.”

“Those spirits creep me out,” Mike says immediately, not taking his eyes off the screen. “They weirded me out when I was a kid and they still weird me out now.” He cocks his head to the side. “When do the Borg come in? And the guy with the squished up forehead?”

“Wrong series,” Sam says.

“Wrong decade,” Artie adds.

Blaine settles back into the sofa, defeated, and tries to tune them out.

On Sunday, they drag him to the Lima Bean even though he can't think of too many places he'd less like to be.

“Small soy sugar free vanilla latte,” Mike says when he gets to the counter.

“Large mint mocha chip frappuccino, extra chocolate whipped cream,” Sam says.

“Medium marble mocha, white chocolate, a shot and a half of raspberry raspberry syrup,” Artie says.

They move aside for Blaine.

“Just a plain hot chocolate, please,” he tells the barista.

The three of them stare at him.

“What?” he asks defensively.

Mike shrugs.

“Are you ten?” Artie asks.

“We always get hot chocolate during Christmas time,” he answers sadly. He stares longingly at the table he and Kurt always sit at -- their table -- but lets them direct him towards a big table by the couches.

“I bet Vaughn only drinks gourmet coffee,” Blaine says after a few moments of silence.

“Dammit, we're still on this,” Artie groans.

“And he'll fly Kurt down to like, Costa Rica for some extravagant coffee tour and they'll spend the weekend together," Blaine continues. "Then on their flight back, there's a layover in Vancouver and the flight to Columbus is canceled and as they ride the shuttle to the hotel, they see some chapel and at the spur of the moment they decide to elope.”

Vancover? Sam mouths to Mike with a confused look.

“How familiar are you with basic geography?” Mike asks. “I doubt the flight from Costa Rica to Ohio flies through British Columbia.”

“Or maybe it's a wine tour instead,” Blaine continues, ignoring the interruption. “Some bus and/or ferry tour that criss-crosses all through the Maritime provinces and they stay at some quaint bed and breakfast and the owner just happens to perform marriage ceremonies and next thing you know, they're spending the rest of the wine tour traveling through Nova Scotia as Mr. and Mr. Vaughn the Greek Adonis.”

Mike shakes his head. “Are you getting that every scenario you've told today ends with your boyfriend eloping in Canada? Tell me you're seeing that.”

“Not true,” Artie points out. “There was the one where Vaughn became an internationally famous underwear model and they flew to Portugal for some fashion runway show. In that one they eloped in Rio de Janeiro.”

“Yeah and the one where Vaughn splurges on the Egyptian themed wedding package. That one was Vegas,” Sam adds.

Blaine lets out a sad sigh and he looks up just in time to see Artie and Sam's eyes widen at something over Blaine's shoulder.

“Okay, don't lose your shit but --” Artie says.

“Hey, you,” he hears Tina says to Mike.

Tina. Which means --

He shifts in his seat and sure enough, there's Kurt only a few feet away.

“Hello,” he says softly, standing a little straighter.

“Hi,” Blaine says back. They watch each other and everyone is quiet.

“Can we talk for a minute?” Kurt asks, voice still quiet.

Blaine practically falls out of his chair in his rush to follow him. They stand a few feet away from one of the back doors and Blaine takes a good look at him and god, Kurt looks awful.

“I really hate this,” Kurt says.

“Me, too,” Blaine agrees.

“So can't we be done with it? I hate not speaking to you, Blaine.”

He nods and takes a small step towards. “I know. I do, too.”

“Good,” Kurt sighs. “Then let's be done with it. I don't even care about an apology anymore. I don't need one. I just want to be with you again.”

Blaine blinks. “An apology?”

“For the irrational angry thing,” he answers, gesturing around vaguely. “Because you're not irrational and angry anymore, right?”

“You still think I owe you the apology?” he asks, skeptical.

Kurt falters then lets out a deep sigh. “So that's a no, then.”

“I'm not being irrational,” he argues (although, yeah maybe a little). “You're the one being insensitive and selfish.”

Kurt eyes are wide. “Selfish? How am I selfish?”

“You didn't even think about my feelings, Kurt! You didn't spend two seconds to consider how I felt.”

“Because I know how you felt,” he says, voice raising slightly. “You felt irrational and angry!”

“I felt insecure,” Blaine argues, voice rising to match Kurt's. “But why should you care about that? I mean we've only been dating for two years. And known each other our whole lives. Why should you possibly care about my feelings?”

“This isn't about that,” Kurt bites back, eyes narrowing. “This is about you being upset that you're not the center of attention, that I'm doing something -- that I know someone -- that isn't all about you. You're the selfish one, Blaine.”

Blaine takes a startled step back. “What?” he asks a little stunned.

Kurt still looks angry. “I'm not making decisions based on how you feel, what you want. You need everything to always be you, you, you.”

He gives Kurt a hurt look. “What have I ever done since you've known me that would make you think that?”

His look softens slightly and he almost looks regretful for his choice of words, for his tone. “I--”

“Come on, Kurt,” Rachel says, grabbing him by the elbow. “We'll be late for the movie.”

Most of them ignore Blaine on their way out except for Tina who just looks like she feels sorry for him. He vaguely wonders what Mike's been telling her.

Blaine only stands there for a moment before making his way back to the table.

“So, uh,” Sam says.

“Looks like it went well,” Artie adds.

Blaine ignores them both and stares sadly at his hands. The rest of the weekend drags on.

Monday just manages to get worse. They're all in the locker room after gym class and Blaine fails miserably at trying to avoid staring at Kurt. He sneaks a few furtive glances every couple of minutes and sort of feels like a skeevy perv but holy god, he is seventeen and has had no physical contact with his boyfriend in a week, his boyfriend who is currently half-dressed and doing that endearing moisturizing thing. After Kurt finally leaves, Blaine takes his time getting dressed and packing up his bag, still in no hurry to get home. When he gets to the hallway, though, Kurt is waiting outside of the door. The hallway is empty, everyone else probably gone for the day.

“Are you breaking up with me?” Kurt asks simply, face unreadable.

“What?” Blaine asks, jaw dropping and eyes wide.

“Or -- or did you already break up with me?”

“It's a fight, Kurt,” Blaine chokes out. “No, this is not a breakup. A fight.”

Kurt stares at him for a few long moments and opens his mouth to say something when the door next to him slams and Finn walks out.

“Hey,” he says, eying them both warily.

“Hi,” Blaine says, dropping his gaze to the floor.

“Let's go,” Finn tells Kurt. “My mom said we can't go to Breadstix until the dishes are done and I'm starving .”

Blaine listens to them walk down the hall towards the double doors but can't make his feet move. He just stands there and leans up against the lockers behind him, wondering what the hell he's doing. He startles when the door slams again and then Puck is standing in front of him.

“I thought you were supposed to be smart,” he tells Blaine.

“What?” he asks, looking up.

“A breakup is a breakup, you know. It doesn't matter what shit went down, who started what. A breakup is a fucking breakup.”

Blaine blinks. “We didn't break up.”

Puck gives him a look. “Dude, silent treatment for a week. You two are well on your way.”

With that, he's gone and Blaine stares after him. He swallows and can't stop feeling unnerved by the fact that even Puck thinks this has gone on too long.

An hour later he gets a text from Kurt that says We need to talk tomorrow.

His stomach drops as he reads it and sends back a simple Okay. Kurt is breaking up with him, holy shit.

So he goes home, calls Quinn, and comes up with a plan.

“These aren't supposed to be singing grams,” she tells him before school on Tuesday.

Blaine shrugs.

“That's not how the Santa-gram fundraiser works,” she continues. “You give the Cheerios three dollars and we deliver them a candy cane during class. That's it.”

“Well, here's ten,” he says, handing over the cash. “Keep the seven and let me deliver it myself.”

So during his fourth period study hall, he accompanies a few of the JV cheerleaders into Kurt's French class holding an oversized candy cane, followed by Sam and his guitar.

Baby please come home, he sings quietly as he walks through the doorway, eyes fixed on Kurt.

His head pops up at the sound of the guitar and he stares wide-eyed at Blaine.

I remember when you were here, he continues, and all the fun we had last year.

He watches as Kurt's mouth slowly turns into a smile and he cocks his head to give Blaine that look, the one that never fails to make Blaine's heart flutter a little.

You should be here with me; baby please come home, he finishes, trailing off as he stops in front of Kurt's desk.

The whole room breaks into applause but neither of them pay much attention.

“This is for you,” he says quietly, kneeling in front of Kurt and handing him the candy cane. “I'm so sorry for everything.”

“Thank you,” Kurt replies, voice hushed.

“You're right. I was being irrational and we'll figure it all out, okay?”

Kurt nods.

“So, does this change anything?” Blaine asks cautiously. “About what we need to talk about?”

He nods again. “Yes.”

Blaine lets out a sigh and gives Kurt a small, sad smile. It's a relief to hear but it also means he was right. Kurt was actually going to break up with him.

“Lunch,” Kurt whispers. “We can finish this at lunch.”

“Okay,” he whispers back. He can feel the entire classroom watching them so he gives Kurt one last smile then heads back to study hall.

During lunch period, their friends all squeeze together at one end of the table in the cafeteria giving Kurt and Blaine an entire end to themselves.

“That was amazing,” Kurt tells him. “A public serenade.”

Blaine gives him a grin but then his face falls, remembering. “So it's true then. You were going to break up with me?”

Kurt blanches. “What?”

“You said we had to talk,” Blaine explains. “And then I apologized and you said we didn't need to talk anymore.”

Kurt blinks. “Oh. That's not what I meant.”

Blaine waits.

“Blaine. It doesn't matter anymore.”

“Okay, well tell me what you did mean then.”

“Like I said, it doesn't matter.”

“It matters to me,” Blaine insists.

Kurt looks resigned as he reaches down to his bag and takes out a manila folder. “This is what I meant,” he says, sliding it across the table. “But it doesn't matter anymore. You already said we'd be fine.”

Blaine gives him a quizzical look and tugs the folder from under his hands. He opens it to find a few forms, the first one titled Room Transfer Request Form. He looks up at Kurt, mouth falling open a little.

“I told you,” Kurt rushes to add. “We don't have to talk about it anymore.”

Blaine blinks. “You were -- you thought about it? You were actually going to do it?”

“No,” Kurt answers. “We were going to discuss it. I didn't want this to turn into something where you tell me what to do and I do it. That's not how this works. How we work. But ...”

“But what?” Blaine asks after Kurt trails off.

“But -- I've never seen you like that before. I've never seen you that upset. I figured that if it was something that was bothering you as much as it seemed to be then it should be an option maybe put on the table.”

He isn't sure what to say in response. He gives Kurt a hopeful smile.

“Don't,” Kurt warns. “You look like you've moved past whatever issues you were having. We don't need to pursue this.”

“I have but --”

“No, Blaine, no buts. All of the housing that's left is terrible and in the back corner of the campus. And there's a huge fee to change.”

Blaine shrugs. “I'll totally pay,” he offers. He's mostly teasing, though. The fact that Kurt even considered it -- that's enough.

Kurt gives him an unimpressed eyebrow.

“I'm kidding,” he says, reaching across to place his hand on top of Kurt's. "Unless you'd actually do it and then I'm totally not."

The lunch bell rings and Blaine squeezes his hand, not ready yet to go their separate ways.

“Hot chocolate tonight?” Kurt suggests hopefully. “It's a Wonderful Life is on TV.”

“Definitely,” he says, grinning.

“And my dad won't be home until late ...” he trails off.

“Oh?” Blaine asks, not daring to get his hopes up.

“I'm sure Finn could be convinced to spend some time at Rachel's.”

“Oh thank god,” he groans. “This past week has been torture.”

Kurt smiles and squeezes Blaine's hand. “Make sure you work that into the plans you have for us over Christmas break. Alone time, I mean.”

Blaine nods. “I can do that. Easy.”

And suddenly his plans are ten times better than they were a week ago.

: : :

They have their gift exchange on Christmas Eve, both sitting on Blaine's bed with a wrapped box between their legs.

“Nothing's going to be different next year, you know,” Kurt tells him. “Instead of across the street, you'll just live down the hall. We'll still have the same classes together. We'll probably hang out in the same circle of friends.”

“Yeah except instead of living with Finn you'll be living with a chiseled underwear model,” Blaine argues, rolling his eyes. “So I'd say a bit different.”

“You know, the more you talk about him, the more smitten you sound,” Kurt says, eyebrow raised.

Blaine scoffs. “I have a very specific type,” he replies. “It's called Kurt Hummel.”

Kurt smiles. “So do I. Prince Charmings of medium build with a penchant for bowties, hair gel, and cardigans that cover up his fantastically toned arms.”

He huffs out an embarrassed laugh.

“When you find someone like that, you don't let go.”

Blaine looks up to see Kurt's serious expression.

“And you talk about the future and how excited you are to makes plans,” Kurt continues. “About growing up and making new memories.”

“New memories,” Blaine echoes. “I like that. And speaking of which.” He holds out his present for Kurt.

He unwraps it to see a basket with a few different items. He pulls out a gift card first.

“To that coffee shop we found when we went out there to visit the school. Remember that?” Blaine asks.

Kurt blinks at it and nods, not saying much. Next he pulls out a knit scarf with NYADA stitched in by the fringes at the ends of both sides.

“So you have something to wear when we go out in the city,” Blaine explains, a little unsure now that Kurt's acting so weird about it. “Something that shows the whole city how amazing you are, how talented.”

Then it's a pair of black yoga pants, again with NYADA written on one of the pant legs. “I know you brought a copy of the calendar home after our visit. The one that lists all of the classes they offer in the gym. I figured another pair wouldn't hurt.” And Jesus Kurt looks good in yoga pants. He's not going to tell him that, though, that he bought those pants basically for selfish reasons. He went to a yoga class with Kurt exactly one time despite all of the invites and it was definitely one of the worst decisions he'd ever made. He spent the whole class with eyes roaming over every inch of Kurt's body instead of paying attention to the instructor which means he accidentally bent his body in ways it shouldn't have been bending.

But Kurt doesn't seem to be thinking about any of that because all he does is blink again then reach back in to pull out a Playbill.

“Tickets,” Blaine says weakly. This is not the reaction he was expecting at all. “Cooper picked up tickets to a few shows for me but they're in the mail right now so I couldn't put them in your New York gift basket yet.”

Kurt looks up and stares at Blaine.

“You don't like it,” Blaine says, trying to keep the disappointment out of his voice.

“I -- no, that's not it at all,” he replies. “It's perfect, Blaine. I just --” He cuts off and hands Blaine his present.

Blaine takes it and opens it slowly, trying not to feel so hurt by Kurt's lack of enthusiasm.

“It's just that I was so proud of my gift to you,” Kurt explains. “That's all.”

Blaine nods and peers in to see a basket. He pulls out a gift card to the coffee shop.

“To that coffee shop,” Kurt tells him unnecessarily. “You know, the one you were just talking about.”

Then Blaine pulls out a hoodie emblazoned across the front with NYADA.

“So people would know how talented you are for getting into such a prestigious school,” Kurt continues. “And so they would know that you'll be a star someday.”

And then oh god it's a pair of navy yoga pants which hell no, he cannot wear at all. Those pants are unforgiving, hiding nothing, and it'll be a dangerous decision if he actually does accompany Kurt for a class or two. The combination of watching Kurt's body make those crazy bendy positions and wearing thin snug pants that will clearly showcase just how much Blaine enjoys watching those crazy bendy positions -- just, no.

“I know you like seeing mine,” Kurt says with a slightly teasing note to his voice. “And maybe I should get to experience those same perks.”

Blaine ducks his head to try to hide the blush coloring his cheeks and reaches in to find an envelope with a few sets of Broadway tickets.

“And tickets,” Kurt finishes. “We can't live in New York and not see shows together.”

Blaine looks up and starts to smile. “The last time we got each other the same gift --”

“All the way back in first grade, I know,” Kurt says, returning the smile.

Blaine laughs softly. “I still have that ornament.”

“Me, too,” he replies. He pauses and then: “See, you have nothing to worry about. We're still on the same page, just like when we were kids, just like we've almost always been. We've been making memories here since longer than I can remember, Blaine. Now we're just growing up and making new memories in a new city. It will be just the same, I promise.”

“Okay,” Blaine says. “Maybe not the same but close enough.”

“Right,” Kurt agrees. “It'll still be you and me.”

“You and me,” he echoes.

So they make plans. They make good plans.

: : :

College: Auld Lang Syne

During their final year of college, their families decide to spend the holidays in New York. Both Kurt and Blaine are justifiably nervous because they share a one-bedroom apartment and fitting an extra four parents and two brothers will be no small feat.

Christmas dinner goes off without a hitch, though, and lack of space really isn't too much of an issue despite the fact that everyone is constantly in everyone else's personal space. Burt and Carole are in the bedroom while Blaine's parents take the pull-out couch in the living room and both Finn and Cooper make do with the blow-up air mattresses on the dining room floor while Kurt and Blaine share a few sleeping bags in the back hallway. It has every potential to be a huge disaster but actually … it's pretty nice.

On the morning of New Year's Eve, Blaine pauses in the hallway and smiles as he watches their families. Kurt comes up a few moments later and they just stand there for a few moments and take in the scene before them. The remnants of the Sunday morning paper lay on the kitchen table but there's not much left: Burt's sitting on the couch with the Sports section, Cooper next to him reading Entertainment. His dad is on the recliner reading the Business section while Carole sits at the kitchen table with Health & Wellness, his mom next to her going through the coupons.

So yeah, it's actually pretty nice.

: : :

It's seven minutes to midnight when Blaine finally gathers enough courage. He whispers to Kurt to follow him outside because he wants to be alone for this even though everyone inside probably already knows what's about to happen. They move outside to the small balcony and leave the rest of them in the living room to spend the rest of the night with Ryan Seacrest.

“Here,” Blaine says on an exhale. He hands him a small red box.

Kurt raises an eyebrow and smiles. “Gum wrapper cuff links, I hope? I'd love a matching set.”

When Blaine doesn't laugh, Kurt gives him a quizzical look and finally opens it to see a note inside.

“Oh, one of your notes,” he says softly. “I've missed these.”

He unfolds it and Blaine's heart jumps into his throat. He can barely breath.

Kurt's eyes widen as he reads Do you want to marry me?

Blaine knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that time freezes. Everything in the world stands still, he's sure of it.

“Yes,” Kurt rushes to say on an exhale, no hesitation. “Yes, I do.”

Blaine lets out a sigh of relief and beams as he pulls him in close. There's kissing and then fireworks in the distance and then yelling and clanking champagne flutes from inside and … well, who even cares about anything else.

A half hour later, they're sitting side by side on the couch while the women put food away and the men finish off their drinks.

“Do you remember meeting me?” Blaine asks after a few moments, playing absently with Kurt's ring finger. “Before the recital, I mean?”

Kurt huffs out a skeptical laugh. “Of course. It's one of my earliest memories.”

“Yeah?” Blaine says, pleasantly surprised. “I wonder if I knew. You know, if I knew back then how much you'd change my life.”

“I did,” Kurt says, matter-of-fact.

“What?” Blaine laughs. “You did not.”

“I did,” Kurt argues. “It was my five-year-old intuition.”

“That's not a real thing,” Blaine says, still laughing. “You made it up.”

Kurt shrugs then shifts on the couch to face him. “I knew something,” he says. “I don't know what and I don't know how to explain it but I do remember knowing that you meant something.” He pauses. “Do you know what I mean?”

Blaine gives him a small smile. “Yes,” he answers. “I do.”