I don't even know what to say about this.

I'm really sorry for how long it took, though. Also, polls are on my author page, my tumblr name remains jesski10, and Jim's is still jimethan. Talk to us there. :D

After Dalton, McKinley was a walk in the park. When it came to schoolwork, at least.And, surprisingly, the Bully Whips (...right, let's just not even comment on the name) were doing what they'd promised- -he hadn't been slushied once since his return. The problem (aside from missing Blaine, though they did what they could to assuage that with frequent texting and skype dates) was the glee clubbers. He had actually dared to hope that maybe they'd all keep getting along.

Should've known better.

"What the hell is this, dude?" Finn raged, storming into the choir room and heading straight for Sam, hand clenched tightly around a copy of the Muckraker. "'What blondie former cheerleader is having a secret moonlight motel rendezvous with another big-lipped blondie?'"

Sam looked bewildered, and faintly alarmed. "What is- -where does it say that?"

"Right here on the front page of the school newspaper!"

"You don't seriously believe this, do you?" Quinn demanded, arching one perfectly shaped eyebrow disapprovingly.

"Well, why shouldn't I? Why wouldn't he do the same thing that I did to him?"

"Because it's gossip, Finn," she snapped, holding his gaze.

It was almost a relief when Santana strode in, shaking the same paper and yelling at Brittany about some ridiculous thing that she'd said on Fondue for Two (Kurt found himself deeply grateful he'd never gotten around to watching it). Almost. If nothing else, it gave the other three something else to focus on for a few seconds, and Kurt enough time to process what the hell was going on (and make a mental note to have a little chat with Finn later). But that didn't last long, and next thing Kurt knew, Finn was lunging at Sam, shoving him.

"I swear, I'm gonna punch your face off!"

"Hey, you got a lotta nerve accusing me of cheating when you're the one who slunk in and stole my girl!"

Quinn tried to shove her way between them, and Kurt was on the verge of getting up to help (this was so not his style, but he was not going to have it on his conscience if she ended up getting hit by a wayward punch or something) when, finally, Mr. Schue came hurrying through the door. "Hey, hey!" he hollered, forcing them apart. Immediately, Finn turned on his heel and stalked toward the door. "Hey, Finn, where you goin'? We've got rehearsal!"

"Not today," Finn growled, slamming the door behind him.

Well. That was sufficiently melodramatic for one day, Kurt thought wearily, shaking his head. Santana glared at Brittany and flounced away, leaving Brittany to hurry after her. But Kurt stayed, watching the room slowly empty out until the only other person left inside was Sam, who was staring blankly at the door as if he couldn't quite believe what had just happened.

And he wasn't sure how he knew it, but suddenly, Kurt was unequivocally certain that something was genuinely wrong. "Is everything okay, Sam?" he ventured quietly.

He looked around, tried to smile. "I didn't know you were still- -yeah. Fine."

"I don't want to push you, but it might help to talk to someone. And you know I, of all people, won't say anything if you don't want me to." Sam bit his lip and stared at the floor again, and Kurt hurried on. "You don't have to."

"No, wait," he blurted out. "You and Quinn, you're the only ones who kind of know what's going on, and I...I'm just not used to...to having people to talk to about this stuff, I guess." Kurt sat quietly on the piano bench and waited patiently; Sam buried his face in his hands. "Okay. So...so you know how when I delivered that pizza to you, I told you I just got a job because we were having a little money trouble? It's not...not just a little. We- -we lost our house." He broke off, avoiding Kurt's eyes, and Kurt's chest tightened. But he forced himself to keep quiet and let Sam talk. "We sold most of our stuff to try to head it off, but..." he shook his head, "we had to move." His voice trembled when he continued. "That's...that's where those pictures came from. That motel is where we live now."

Kurt put a hesitant hand on his shoulder. "I am so sorry. For what happened, and for how everyone's treating you."

"It's not your fault."

"That doesn't matter." He bit his lip. "Look, I know how hard it can be. If you ever need someone to talk to or anything, I'm here for you, okay?"

"Yeah. Thanks." He managed a tight-lipped grin and got to his feet. "I gotta go. I'll see ya."

He wanted to tell Sam how much it meant to him, that out of everyone, he'd been one of the few Sam'd confided in. But he couldn't find the right words, so he just smiled back. "See ya."

Sam's situation was the only thing about his return to McKinley that Kurt kept from Blaine. Not that there was anything to hide, because no, absolutely not. But when he visited (carrying a massive box of his less flamboyant clothing for Sam), Sam had made him promise not to mention anything. And even though he knew Blaine would never say anything, he wanted to keep that promise. Still, because this was McKinley High, and not a normal school where people didn't create extremely detailed rumors designed to ruin people's lives for fun, that resolution went out the window the very next day.

"Stop it."

Convinced this was yet more of Rachel's ridiculous melodrama, Kurt didn't even glance up from his textbook. "Stop what?"

"I'm begging you, Sam is cute, but he's not worth losing Blaine over!" she exclaimed, and he lifted his head slowly.

Wait, seriously? "...oh, how I've missed your insanity," he said sarcastically, glaring at her.

"He's wearing your jacket, Kurt! I remember that jacket, you wore it April of last year! You said it was your Earth Day jacket because it was made out of recycled hemp." She drew a deep breath and rambled on. "I know how these things work. I remember when Finn and I used to date, sometimes he would leave his letterman jacket at my house and I would wear it to school the next day- -"

No, no, fucking no. There was no way she was actually standing here accusing him, genuinely believing the crap she was spouting. Would they all believe it? Did they think that little of him? "Okay, you need to bone up on your Fleetwood Mac-ology," he cut in, working to keep his voice calm. "When they made Rumours, they weren't speaking to each other. Not even 'pass the non-dairy creamer.' They only spoke about the music. And it was that focus thatallowed them to make their masterpiece."

"You're deflecting," she accused lowly.

"No, I'm being a team player," he snapped. "And any minute spent on this vicious, hateful and hurtful gossip is a minute taking away from preparing for Nationals." And he stalked angrily away.

When he saw Mercedes several yards away, standing at her locker, he let out a relieved breath. "Cedes, you will never believe what Rachel just said to me."

She shut her locker with a clang and whirled to face him. "Does it involve Sam?"

That brought him up short. "Well, yeah. How did you- -"

"It's all over the Muckraker. With pictures." She arched an eyebrow. "A motel, Kurt? Really?"

"Wait, you don't actually believe it, do you?"

"You have to admit, it looks pretty sketchy."

"Mercedes, it only looks 'sketchy' if you are searching for some stupid scandal!"

"So what were you guys doing there, then?"

"Are you even- -I'm not going to tell you that." He wished he had some of the composure he'd managed to cling to when he was talking to Rachel, but it was all but gone. This was Mercedes. This was his best friend, and she wouldn't even listen to him.

"Why not? I'm your best friend!"

The anger rose white-hot within him, but he forced it back. "Which is exactly why you shouldn't have to ask." And, again, he walked away and left her alone.

None of his other friends were quite as forward as Mercedes had been, but it was clear by the strange looks he was getting that they believed it. Especially Finn. He looked...wounded or something. As though Kurt was cheating on him, which was possibly the most ridiculous thing ever. He texted Blaine from glee rehearsal, desperate for some sanity. Please tell me you're not busy later.

The answer came almost immediately. I'm not. Are you okay?

He debated, and decided it wasn't worth getting into over text message. Just want to see you. :)

In that case, sounds awesome. :D

The promise of seeing his boyfriend in a few short hours made everything infinitely easier to bear, and before long, he was walking up to Blaine's door. "I was just conveniently on my way out!" Jim exclaimed, opening the door for him and breezing past; Blaine laughed, clearly exasperated.

"I missed you," he murmured, once Kurt was safely inside, kissing him soundly on the lips.

"God, I missed you too."

They perched on the edge of Blaine's bed, and Kurt settled quickly back into the routine. He'd forgotten how much he'd loved this- -sitting together and sharing stories about their days. But with each casual anecdote, the thing that mattered pressed more and more heavily on him, and finally blurted out, "They think I'm cheating on you." What if Blaine reacted like Mercedes had? What if he- -

Blaine did a double-take. "Who thinks that?"

"Everyone. The whole damn glee club." He looked down, toying with the cuff of Blaine's long-sleeved t-shirt. "Except Quinn and Sam."

"Why do they think that?" he asked calmly, flipping his hand over and intertwining their fingers.

"Because." Looking tormented, Kurt leaned over, pressing his forehead against Blaine's shoulder. "You have to promise you won't say anything. I promised I wouldn't tell."

"Of course I won't. Hey." He gently nuzzled the top of Kurt's head. "I trust you, you know. And you can trust me."

When Kurt looked at him, his eyes were rimmed with red. "Thank you."

"Did you really think I'd believe them over you, hon?" The endearment slipped out, but it made Kurt smile, so Blaine didn't particularly mind.

"Not really. But I didn't expect all my friends to believe it, either. I mean, Sam's not even gay." He shook his head hard. "Besides, why would they think I'd do that, even if he was? That's the part that's killing me."

Blaine spluttered. "Wait. Sam? They think you're- -with Sam?"

"Yeah." The realization that Blaine wasn't going to turn against him like the others was even more comforting than he'd thought it would have been. "They're convinced he's screwing me and Quinn when actually, we're just trying to help him."

"Is he okay?" Blaine asked worriedly, now rubbing his thumb soothingly over the side of Kurt's palm.

"Remember how we got pizza a few days before I left, and I told you Sam was the delivery guy?"

"Yeah..."

"Well, I didn't think too much of it until the other day in glee club when Finn started accusing Sam of going behind his back with Quinn at some motel. He seemed really upset, so I hung back to talk to him, and he told me that he and his family lost their house, because his father let go. They've been living at that motel, and Quinn's been going by to babysit and stuff."

"Oh my God," Blaine breathed, "that's awful."

"So I went by the other day, too, to bring him some clothes and stuff. I guess somebody saw him walking me out and decided it would be fun to start that rumor, too."

"It shouldn't matter what other people say!" Blaine burst out angrily. "God, Kurt, I'm sorry, because know they're your friends, but sometimes they can be so catty. I can't believe they'd just...believe some random reporter over you guys!"

Kurt squirmed slightly; it felt amazing to be vindicated, and he knew Blaine was speaking the truth, but...well, still. They were his friends, no matter how obnoxious they were being at the moment. "Can we change the subject?"

Blaine opened his mouth to object, but one look at his boyfriend was enough to change his mind. Kurt looked pale, and his hands were shaking slightly- -this was clearly getting to him. "Of course," he agreed instead. "Everything else is okay?"

"More than. I haven't gotten slushied once, and they barely even look at me now."

"Good," he whispered, and slid down so that he was lying flat on his bed. "I guess they've finally learned to act like human beings."

"Looks that way." He grinned. "I try not to be too optimistic about it, though."

Blaine didn't say anything; wasn't really sure what to say. So instead, he patted the space next to him, looking up at Kurt through his eyelashes. "Lay with me?"

Kurt's heart thundered wildly as he complied, rolling onto his side so he could look at Blaine. "Hi," he whispered, pushing the ungelled hair off his forehead.

"Hi there," Blaine murmured, playfully bumping his nose against Kurt's.

"I like when you wear your hair like this." He scooted closer still, a soft smile curving his lips.

"Why d'you think I did it?" Blaine murmured, and closed the miniscule distance between them.

"Because you're the best," Kurt managed breathlessly when they'd broken apart, and nipped Blaine's lower lip teasingly.

"Damn right," he grinned, eyes sparkling.

"I'm coming in," Jim yelled suddenly, from just outside. "I repeat, I am coming in."

"We get it, thanks," Blaine called dryly. "You go right ahead and do that."

Blushing, Kurt rolled onto his back, effectively throwing off Blaine's arm. He knew Jim was still going to know what they'd been doing, but it was instinct.

"Sorry. Forgot my phone," Jim announced, pointedly not looking toward Blaine's side of the room.

"It's okay," Kurt offered, because he figured someone should say something.

"Kay-bye-use-protection!" he blurted out, all in one breath, and made a break for the door.

Blaine grabbed a hoodie off the footboard and hurled it after him; he just laughed and slammed the door. "Hey, you wanna go get some food?"

Kurt was feeling kind of warm and sleepy and more content than he had all week, but he had also forgotten to eat. "Kay," he yawned, and then ruined it by snuggling up with his head on Blaine's shoulder.

Blaine chuckled quietly, running his fingers through Kurt's hair (a feat which would have earned anyone else a monster glare). "Hey, sleepy, I'm not carrying you."

"How would you, anyway? I'm taller than you," Kurt pointed out playfully.

"Oh, that is it, Hummel," he growled, climbing over him and getting off the bed.

Kurt's eyes popped open in alarmed amusement. "What? No, where are you going?"

"I am proving a point," he sniffed haughtily. "Bend your knees." Kurt obeyed, blushing (Santana and Puck could make anything dirty) and laughing.

"Are you insane?"

"No, for your information, I am extremely manly."

Kurt just snickered and allowed his boyfriend to wrap Kurt's arms around his neck. "This isn't going to work, you know." (If he'd been thinking about it, he'd have realized that this was yet another first that Blaine had become for him: the first person he trusted enough to do this without a second thought- -because Cheerios so didn't count.)

"Shush, you," Blaine ordered good-naturedly, carefully bracing Kurt's upper back and sweeping the other arm up under his knees. "Prepare to be swept off your feet in three...two..." And he promptly heaved Kurt into his arms. Letting out an embarrassingly high squeak, Kurt tightened his grip.

"I was not expecting that."

"You have no faith in me." Pouting, he trailed little kisses over Kurt's forehead and down his nose. "I'm offended."

"If you react this way every time you're offended, I may have to do it more often." Blaine dipped him playfully, and he yelped. "Never mind, I'm sorry! I will never again question your masculinity!"

"You better not." He smirked, then looked at the door. "...you're gonna have to open that."

He ended up carrying Kurt all the way out to the car, where he deposited him rather gracelessly into the passenger seat. "Okay, where are we going?"

"Wherever you want," Kurt replied, still grinning as he attempted to straighten his clothes.

No question, it was the best evening he'd had all week.


By the next day, he was trying to remind himself of why he'd come back to McKinley. With the lingering backlash from Jacob's stupid Sam article, the fact that Sam wasn't even in school (which he understood, but which only fueled the gossip mill), and all the tension amidst his friends, being here wasn't exactly a ball of laughs. He slunk to glee that afternoon wondering if it was at all conceivable for him to go visit Blaine two evenings in a row- -somehow, he was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to pull it off.

He was pulled from his musings by Quinn leaping to her feet and announcing, "Finn and I put something together," and all but dragging him to the middle of the room. They both looked angry, and their rendition of 'I Don't Wanna Know' only underscored the obvious tension between them.

"Okay...terrific job, guys. Um...might wanna try to smile a little more, is all," Schue commented awkwardly, trying to smile. Quinn complied, and Kurt let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. Maybe if no one else has anything to sing I'll be able to get out of here early...

"Yeah, it was lovely, but...I prefer Quinn's duet performance of 'Lucky' with Sam better," Rachel put in, and then, with the slightest of smug edges to her voice, "Since you and Sam have become a lot closer lately, maybe you guys should do duets together more often."

...or maybe I won't.

"Where is Sam? Quinn and Kurt are both here today, so we know he's not doing the dirty," Artie added matter-of-factly. Everyone ignored him, and Kurt couldn't help but be grateful when Quinn steamrolled on.

"I know what you're doing. You want Finn and I to stop singing together so that you can start singing with him again."

"Frankly, yes..."

The argument continued; Kurt slipped his phone out of his pocket and covertly texted Blaine. Quinn and Rachel are at it again. Make it stoooop.

"Quinn. I don't think you can mandate who pairs up for Nationals, alright? Vocal Adrenaline doesn't need any help from us."

Ah, no, are they really? I'm sorry. :( At least you've got me to distract you? ;D

Thank God. I wish you were here...this would all be kind of laughable if you were.

I wish I were, too. And the rest of this week's going to be kind of crazy. Want to do something this weekend?

...do I ever tell you no?

Hey, I'm just checking! I'll call you later.

Looking forward to it.

He slid his phone away, carefully maintaining his poker face, just in time to see the Fuinn argument reach its conclusion.

"I love being here, and I wanna win. But my relationship comes first. I'm sorry, but Finn...if you wanna be with me, no more songs with her."

Finn stared at her, clearly astonished. "...what?"

She just raised her eyebrows, then stalked away.


"Blaine, hi," Kurt breathed, flopping onto his bed with a relieved sigh.

"Hey, you." He grinned widely. "I missed hearing your voice."

"Cheesy," Kurt teased, even though it was true on his end, too. "I just talked to you yesterday."

"So you didn't miss me, then?"

"Of course I did," Kurt backpedaled, his grin so wide that it was actually hurting his cheeks. "Also, you're sane. I miss your sanity, too."

"Mmm." He sucked in a sympathetic breath. "It hasn't gotten any better?"

"I...that kind of depends on your definition of better," Kurt muttered. "Now there's even more drama with Rachel and Finn, so that's taking people's minds off the whole Sam situation somewhat." Artie's words echoed in his mind, and he winced reflexively. "Not enough, though."

"Do you want to talk about it, or shall I distract you?"

"Oh, by all means, distract me. Please."

"Hmm, how?"

"Oh, God, I don't know. Tell me about your life?"

"Nothing interesting's happening, really. I told you most of it yester- -oh! I gave Jeff my solos for that nursing home show."

Kurt nearly choked on his own tongue. "You did what? Why?"

"I don't feel much like singing," Blaine sighed. "Besides, it's like you used to say, when you went here. He tries so hard, and we've never really let him solo."

He grinned. Blaine really was perfect for him. It was still kind of hard to believe that this was even real most of the time. But... "What do you mean, you don't feel like singing? Are you okay?"

But Blaine hadn't meant to admit as much, and the last thing he wanted was for Kurt to know that since he'd transferred, he'd taken a lot of the life out of Dalton for Blaine, too. When he had first transferred, the zero-tolerance bullying policy had been such a relief to him that he hadn't even thought about whether the school was really a good fit for his personality- -and maybe back then, it was perfect. But now...now that Kurt had burst into his life, all light and confidence and unashamed joie de vivre...maybe it wasn't. But he didn't know what to do about it. Public school wasn't an option either- -he'd avoided it this long, and the idea of going back was positively terrifying.

"Blaine? Are you there?"

"I'm here, sorry. I...thought Wes was knocking," he improvised.

"...so everything's okay?" Kurt continued skeptically.

"Yeah, yeah, fine. I've just got a lot of stuff to do, and I feel like headlining the entire program would be a little too much." It was the first time he'd ever lied to Kurt, and he knew it wasn't particularly convincing. But Kurt didn't call him on it; he just sat there, quietly, waiting for Blaine to say something else. "I'll sing to you, though. If you want me to."

"What, now?"

"Yeah."

And though Kurt was kind of tempted to press Blaine further, and find out what was really going on, he was fairly certain he didn't have the energy that it would take to wheedle the truth out of him. "Sure."

They ended up staying up all hours of the night, singing random songs to each other; and even though Kurt knew he'd regret the near all-nighter when he was forced to confront the madness of McKinley again, he couldn't bring himself to care.

Even glee club seemed infinitely brighter at the beginning, though whether that was because he had the memory of singing 'A Whole New World' with Blaine at three in the morning to keep him sane, or because things seemed to be calming down slightly, he wasn't sure. Either way, it allowed him to truly enjoy Rachel's performance of 'Go Your Own Way,' and he could even ignore how very obviously dedicated to Finn said performance was. He clapped enthusiastically with the others when she had finished, smiling widely; and then Quinn cleared her throat.

"Don't you think it's a little inappropriate that you chose to sing a love song to my guy?" she demanded, and the cheeriness in the atmosphere died immediately.

But Rachel, clearly, was past the point of caring. "You're such a hypocrite, you little miss perfect prom queen- -you're a cheater who cheats in cheap motels with Sam," she shrieked, stabbing her finger accusingly at Quinn.

"Nothing is going on between Sam and I!"

"Enough, guys." Schuester snapped, sounding exhausted; but for all the attention everyone paid to him, he may as well not have spoken.

"You know, I blame Sam for all of this," Santana put in. "Rachel, too. I blame her."

"What did I do?"

"I'm sure you did something."

"See, I'm with Santana. I mean, why doesn't Sam have anything to say about this?" Lauren put in, nodding impressively.

And there went the contentment that had been hanging around all day. Kurt clenched his teeth, trying to force back his frustration. Was it so hard for these people to consider anyone other than themselves? Maybe because he knows how we all are when we latch onto things. Maybe because he's ashamed, or he's afraid that talking about it will make it more real. It's not as though we can't understand having something in our lives that we don't want to talk about.

"Guilt."

"Seriously, dude, what you're doing is not cool. They both have boyfriends!" Puck added (which, really, would have been sort of humorous, given the whole Finn/Quinn/Puck debacle from the previous year, if it wasn't so frustrating).

"Shut up!" Sam bellowed, before Kurt could decide whether it would help or hurt for him to get involved in the conversation. "Look, I'm not messing around with Quinn, or Kurt, or any one of those guys. They're just helping me!" Except oh. He was actually going to admit...Kurt leaned forward and opened his mouth, his thoughts only half articulated. All he knew was that it wasn't fair to Sam, what was happening. And he shouldn't have to reveal his secret this way.

But before he could speak, Mercedes interjected, "Oh, is that what we're calling it now?"

"Come on!" Will snapped, silencing the rest at last. "How are they helping you out?"

Sam's eyes fluttered briefly closed, and he muttered, "Kurt was bringing me some clothes, and Quinn was helping me babysit my little brother and sister."

"Then why were you in that motel?" Finn demanded skeptically.

"Because that's where I live now! My dad lost his job a few months ago, and then we lost our house, so now we live in a motel, in one room." He leapt to his feet, pain written all over his face. "Are you all happy? The truth's finally out."

A stunned silence fell over the room as Sam hurried from the room. Quinn glared around at everyone for a moment, then jogged after him.

Kurt slumped down in his seat, already reflexively reaching for his phone to fill Blaine in; but before he could free it from his pocket, Mercedes had turned and put a gentle hand on his knee. "Baby, I'm so sorry," she murmured. "We should've believed you."

He was half tempted to freeze her out, but it was tiring being angry all the time. Besides, he missed her. "I'm fine," he muttered back. "I'm more worried about Sam than myself, personally."

"I was just thinking about that," Rachel said, voice small. "What if we...we did something for him? To apologize?"

"Like what?"

"Well...well I was actually thinking maybe you could help with that. Because you've been spending a lot of time with him, right? So you kind of...know what he's been going through?"

"Since it's not me going through it, I don't try to convince myself I know how it feels," he replied coolly, and she flinched.

"I- -I just meant..." But whatever she meant, she couldn't find the words to express it properly, and she faltered and shook her head.

"We fucked up," Puck piped in. "And we want to fix it. We're just not sure how."

"Right." He sighed. "Well, I don't know how much we can do, really. It's not like we can buy his house back for him."

"Oh!" Puck's eyes widened suddenly. "Maybe we can't do that, but...I don't know, maybe it's stupid, but, like, music makes us all feel better, right?"

"Yeah, of course." Rachel furrowed her brow. "So what? He probably doesn't want to come back, after how we treated him."

"Right, but...okay, so the other day I was just jammin' with Artie, right? And he passed by, so we asked him if he wanted to join in, but he said he didn't have his guitar..."

"...and we didn't think of it, but maybe he had to sell it!" Artie exclaimed. "Jeez, I'd be wrecked if I had to sell his guitar."

"What if we pooled a bunch of money and bought it back for him?" Finn added excitedly, and Puck nodded.

"That's kinda what I was getting at, dude."

And as his friends burst into a frenzy of planning around him, Kurt allowed himself to smile. As self absorbed as they could sometimes be...God, they were amazing.

CHEESY.

I AM SO SORRY.