Six months later…

Kurt stared down at the glowing screen of his phone, watching it do absolutely nothing – and of course it was doing absolutely nothing, despite the half of his heart that was silently willing it to ring. He hadn't really expected it to ring in the first place, really – because he was pretty sure that the person he was thinking of didn't have his new cell phone number.

Also, it was three in the morning.

And I've still got his number, though…

Kurt scrolled through his contacts – not far – until he found the name that, for some strange reason, filled his mind tonight like it hadn't in weeks. That was not to say that he didn't still think of him, on a nearly daily basis. It was just that finally, thinking of him didn't send Kurt spiraling into a funk that would last hours while Finn or Mercedes or whoever else happened to be around at the moment struggled to pull him out of it and get his mind on something else.

Finally, Kurt was starting to feel happy again.

But that didn't mean he'd forgotten.

If he'd forgotten, he wouldn't have entered Blaine's number into his new phone only a few minutes after he'd gotten it.

Not so I can call him, he'd told himself. Just so I'll know if he does get my number again, and tries to call me…

But Blaine hadn't called him – and Kurt hadn't called Blaine.

He knew he'd made the right choice that night, even if he hadn't known he was going to make it until a few moments before he actually did. He knew that if he'd gotten into his car with Blaine and driven off to talk somewhere, Blaine wouldn't have hurt him – not that night, anyway. He would have explained and apologized some more and made tearful, heartfelt promises that he meant with every fiber of his being – and that he was no more capable of keeping than he was of turning himself straight.

With each day that passed finding Kurt feeling stronger, more confident, more like the self he'd known before everything that had happened with Karofsky, and then with Blaine, Kurt was more sure than ever that he'd made the right choice.

But… he still loved Blaine.

I miss him. Is that so wrong? I haven't seen him or talked to him since that night, and… and I just want to know that he's okay…

Kurt rose from his bed and stepped out into the hall, glancing up and down it, his phone tucked behind him – then stifled a laugh at his own ridiculous paranoia before ducking back into his room and closing and locking the door. Even on the off chance that any of his family might still be awake at this hour, it was next to impossible that they might hear him through his closed and locked bedroom door.

He settled back down, cross-legged on his mattress, staring at the phone for another minute or so. He took a few deep but shaky breaths, willing himself once more to make a decision, either way – and once again, he had no idea which choice he would take until he had already hit the call button and raised the phone to his ear.

It didn't ring, and a moment later Kurt heard that painfully sweet, familiar voice in his ear. He closed his eyes, swallowing back the knot in his throat at the sound, and waited until Blaine's recorded voicemail message had ended. He jumped a little at the sound of the beep, drawing in one last breath before forcing himself to speak.

"Hey. It's me. Kurt. Um… I don't even know why I'm doing this, but… well, yes I do. I – I think I'm ready to talk about it. What happened. And – if you want to talk about it, then – meet me at the Lima Bean tomorrow afternoon at five. I'll be there… probably. I – I want to be there. I think I do. I may change my mind. Again. But – but this is probably the only shot we'll have at any – I don't know, closure or whatever. So – yeah. Maybe I'll see you there."

Blaine arrived at the Lima Bean at four o'clock – and by the time he got there, he'd long since memorized the rambling, somewhat confusing message he'd found on his phone that morning. The first couple of times he'd listened to it, the words had barely registered at all – just the sweet sound of Kurt's voice, the one voice he'd thought he'd never hear again.

He was nervous and trembling when he made his coffee order – and two cups later, with fifteen minutes yet to go before Kurt was supposed to show up, Blaine wasn't feeling any less jittery and uncertain. Blaine's mouth was dry and his heart was racing, his stomach lurching as he glanced down at his watch and saw that he was only minutes away from – whatever was going to happen whenever Kurt got there.

If he gets here… he said he might not…

Blaine ran an anxious hand through his hair – then winced, wondering how badly he'd just messed it up. He considered getting up and making a quick visit by the men's room mirror – but then he froze.

Kurt was standing at the counter, smiling as he gave his order to the young woman behind it. He said something that made her laugh, and he laughed with her as he accepted his change and turned toward Blaine's table.

Suddenly, Blaine really wished he'd had time for that one last once-over – because Kurt looked positively magnificent. It wasn't so much his outfit – though of course, that was impeccable as always – but something about the way he carried himself… poised and confident in a way that Blaine had rarely seen him, calm and together and almost regal as he closed the distance between them and primly took the seat across from Blaine.

Neither spoke for a long moment. They only made eye contact for just an instant before Blaine found himself staring down at his coffee, cupped between his hands. He opened his mouth to say something, anything – but couldn't seem to find the words.

Kurt found them first.

"How are you?"

Blaine glanced up at him again, uncertain – and stunned by the brief flash of soft vulnerability, the utter sincerity he saw in Kurt's crystal blue eyes. Blaine's heart was suddenly in his throat, and his eyes burned as he stared down at the table again.

"I… I… better," he finally managed. "A lot better, I think."

When Kurt didn't say anything further, Blaine went on, desperate to fill the silence, not just with meaningless words, but with all the things he'd wished he could say for the past few months.

"I… I talked to my mom about it. About us." He hesitated before looking up to meet Kurt's eyes and clarifying softly, "About… what I did."

Kurt raised a single eyebrow in surprise, his expression inscrutable, but still he said nothing.

"She paid for me to go to therapy. Anger management and… and communication and relationship skills. She's been… amazing, really. Really supportive…"

"And… what does your dad say about all this?"

Kurt finally spoke up, his voice quiet and cautious, but without accusation or judgment. When Blaine looked up at him again, he saw genuine curiosity and concern in his gaze – and maybe just the slightest trace of hope.

The question, however, gave Blaine pause.

It wasn't one he particularly wanted to answer.

But… you owe him the truth, at this point. You owe him a lot more than that, but it's the least you can give…

"I… I don't think he even knows about it, to be honest," Blaine began, hating the tremor in his voice as he found himself once again staring down at the table. "I know I… I talked a lot about my dad, before, and… and how hard things were between us… but… what I didn't tell you was… he doesn't actually live with us anymore. Hasn't, actually, for… for several years now."

When Blaine managed to look up again, Kurt's eyes were wide with surprise, as if for a moment he'd forgotten to keep his cool composure in place. "Why not?" he asked, shaking his head slightly in confusion. "I mean… I'm sorry, that's rude. It's just… you never said…"

"I know," Blaine admitted with a heavy sigh. "And I'm sorry, Kurt. It's just – well – my family's been through a lot in the past few years, and… and I just wasn't ever really sure how to tell you. My dad…" He drew in a deep breath, forcing the words out in a rush. "… he used to hit my mom. Not… not just hit her, really. He'd – he'd beat her, Kurt."

He looked up again, and somehow, the stricken expression of sadness and sympathy on Kurt's face made it easier, not harder, to go on.

"I didn't mean to do it," he blurted out, not trying to fight the tears that slipped down his face as his voice began to rise with the emotions bubbling up inside him, pouring out in his words. "I mean… I never thought I'd end up being… that guy. I hated him for what he'd done, and… and I swore I'd never… but… but then I did, and… and then I did it again… and again, and… and I was so scared of losing you, Kurt. I was scared to tell you the truth because I was afraid that you'd leave me if you knew… and I was scared, so… so I said things to make you think it was you and not me, that it was your fault, because I knew that if for one second you realized how fucked up and wrong I was, then… then you'd leave me, but… but it wasn't. It wasn't ever your fault. I know that. I – I always knew that… but I couldn't stop, and… and then that 'one second' happened, and…"

"And here we are."

Blaine flinched slightly, finally hearing in Kurt's voice the first trace of the disgust that he'd feared – disgust mingled with the pain of his memories, and for a moment, Blaine was transported back to that dark, ugly time when he'd deliberately preyed on the vulnerability and insecurity he could hear in Kurt's words now.

"You… you deliberately made me feel like… like I deserved it. Like I brought it on myself."

Blaine closed his eyes against his tears, shaking his head as his heart sank with despair.

"I did," he confessed simply, his voice quiet and small. "I did – and I know it was sick, and so wrong, Kurt, trying to make you feel that way. That's just how – how twisted and fucked up my thought processes were then. And I know that being afraid of losing you doesn't make it okay. It's no excuse because – I wasn't letting you be you, you know? And… and I'm trying to own up to it now. I'm trying to make it right. And… the therapy is helping, Kurt."

Blaine sought Kurt's gaze, desperate to make him understand.

"Talking to my mom – that's helping, too. Hearing what it was like from her side. I – I never want to hurt you, or anyone – like she was hurt. Like you were hurt. Not ever again. I know that doesn't… doesn't necessarily mean anything to you right now. It doesn't really matter, and it probably doesn't change anything, but – but I just need you to know how sorry I am." Blaine swallowed hard, struggling to rein in his emotions, before looking up to meet Kurt's eyes again and adding softly, "Thank you. For – for giving me the chance to tell you that."

Kurt nodded slowly, staring down at his hands, folded carefully on the table. After a moment, he spoke, his words soft and measured, though his voice trembled slightly with the emotion he was fighting to hold back.

"Thank you for… for your apology." He hesitated, still not looking at Blaine. "I… I accept it… and I'm glad you're doing better." Finally, Kurt looked up to meet Blaine's eyes, and his heart ached at the tears he could see shining there. "I miss you, Blaine," Kurt admitted in a voice barely over a whisper. "And… I still love you. But… I can't be with you."

It hurt.

Blaine swallowed hard, blinking back fresh tears as he forced himself to nod in acceptance.

"Not now," Kurt went on softly. "Maybe not ever. Not until – not unless I trust myself enough to know that if it ever did happen again – I could walk away again. I – I almost couldn't the last time, and – and if I let you in again…" Kurt shook his head sadly. "I'm just not there yet," he concluded. "But… thank you. For seeing me, and… and for getting help. That – that means a lot."

Kurt rose to his feet, and Blaine fought back the feeling of panic he felt at the knowledge that once again, Kurt was about to walk out of his life. He reached out before he knew what he was doing, trembling fingers catching with Kurt's – and Kurt froze, staring down at their barely joined hands for a long moment.

"Not there yet," Blaine echoed in a hoarse whisper. "But… but you might get there?"

Kurt's expression softened, and his fingers shifted around Blaine's, gently squeezing his hand. "I'm working on it," he replied. "Working on me."

Blaine smiled bravely up at Kurt through the tears that blinded him, nodding. "I'm working on me, too."

"Good," Kurt replied softly, hesitating a moment before gently disentangling his fingers from Blaine's. "Goodbye, Blaine."

And even as Kurt walked away, Blaine felt a sense of hope rising up within him – because he was getting better, he knew it, with each passing day. He was learning to rein in his anger when he needed to, learning to say the right things at the right moments. He was getting so much better at giving people – his mom, his therapist, Kurt – exactly what they needed to hear when they needed to hear it.

Yeah… therapy's been really good for me…

They hadn't actually said goodbye, six months ago – but somehow that had felt so much more final than this. This didn't feel like forever. This felt as if he still had a chance to get Kurt back, if he just waited it out and played his cards right.

And this time… I won't screw it up…

"Goodbye, Kurt," Blaine whispered, long after Kurt was too far away to hear, a soft smile forming on his lips as he pressed his still-tingling fingertips against them. "But not for long."