A/N: Written for the angst meme. The prompt was: "things are going good for Klaine, but then the unthinkable happens, it's revealed they are related (swapped at birth, half siblings, whatev.). They struggle with the issue, Kurt wants to continue the relationship but Blaine calls it off because he wants to have a real family relationship with Burt." Note the content of the prompt - this fic includes incest and a less than happy ending.


Kurt had always thought his and Blaine's romance would be a great love story like his parents' relationship.

Kurt had realised when he was quite young that his birth date and the date of his parents' marriage implied that he was the result of certain premarital indiscretions. He also knew that meant that he was almost certainly unplanned. That didn't change his picture of their relationship. The stories of breakups and hook-ups that he'd managed to coax from his father once had given him an image of an olden day Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd. Even though he hadn't been told anything of the sort, in Kurt's imagination his father had proposed in an empty paddock surrounded by carefully laid out lines of candles.

He'd felt secretly superior when he and Blaine had swapped their stories. Blaine's mother was a daughter of a wealthy family who'd had a one night stand. He'd never met his biological father. While Blaine thought of his stepfather as 'Dad' and his parents seemed sweet enough together, it lacked the grandeur of Kurt's image of his childhood. He'd told Blaine that and Blaine had elbowed him and they'd fallen back on Kurt's bed together, laughing.

It was only a small thing, but Kurt had added the fact that neither of them were planned to the mental list of evidence that they were meant to be together, like Meredith and Derek or his mum and dad. When he told Blaine that, Blaine laughed, kissed him and told him they were meant to be together for far better reasons.

"Such as?" Kurt asked.

Blaine waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Well, we are quite compatible in other ways," he said.

He shoved Kurt back on the bed and started kissing him, to show him what other ways he meant. Kurt laughed and wrapped his hands around Blaine's arms and kissed him back just as strongly. It wasn't long before they were reaching for shirt buttons and belt buckles, hurrying to take their clothes off as fast as possible.

Later, they were lying on Kurt's bed, basking in the afterglow, when Kurt heard the sound of a car in the driveway.

"Shit, Dad wasn't supposed to be home for hours," Kurt said. He looked at Blaine in wide-eyed panic.

Kurt reached for his pants, shoving Blaine's in his direction at the same time. They both scrambled to get dressed before Burt came upstairs to say hello and to make sure that the door was kept open and do all that other stuff that parents had to pretend to care about when they were around. Kurt was surprised to hear the doorbell instead of the sound of a key in the lock. He looked at Blaine who shrugged.

Kurt went downstairs to answer the door. Blaine trailed behind him, still doing up his buttons. Kurt hoped that it wasn't his father – someone who didn't know his high standards of personal attire might not realise that he usually wouldn't deign to wear clothes this wrinkled, but Dad certainly would and Kurt couldn't stand sitting through that talk again. It had been painful enough the first time.

It wasn't Kurt's dad. It was Blaine's mom, standing awkwardly with a phone in her hand.

"Blaine forgot his cell," she explained, "And I was in town anyway, looking into Blaine's plans to transfer to McKinley High." She pouted slightly at Kurt but a softness in her eyes took the sting out of the expression. "Anyway, I was hoping to meet the wonderful father you've been talking about."

Blaine stepped forward and reclaimed his phone. "Thanks, mom," he said. He was blushing slightly, which Kurt thought was adorable, even though the blush alone might be enough to give them away.

"My dad isn't here," Kurt said, "though you're welcome to come in and wait."

"He's not due back for an hour," Blaine added quickly, probably thinking of the rumpled sheets and hastily discarded condom in Kurt's room. Hopefully they'd get a chance to go back and clean up before Kurt's dad got home.

"So you're here alone?" said Mrs Anderson. Her eyes fixated on Blaine's hair which had been pulled from its usual gelled style.

"My brother only just went out to get some cookies for afternoon tea," Kurt lied smoothly. "He's due back any minute, if he didn't get distracted by a text from his girlfriend. We were just about to put on a coffee for him, actually. Do you want one?"

Blaine glared at Kurt behind Mrs Anderson's back as she walked inside. Kurt gave a what did you want me to do? shrug. He could hardly have left her standing on the doorstep – that would just have made her more suspicious and Blaine's mother, for obvious reasons, was even more uncomfortable with the idea of her son having sex than Kurt's parents were. Hopefully Kurt's lie was believable enough that Kurt could expand upon it when Finn failed to arrive home – it wouldn't be much of a lie to say that Finn had probably gone over Rachel's, when Kurt knew for a fact that that was where Finn was.

Kurt sat her and Blaine in the living room while he went to the kitchen to put the kettle on. She seemed more relaxed now, as though Kurt's friendliness had convinced her that the teenagers hadn't been up to anything inappropriate. Well, Kurt was hoping, anyway, because Blaine's cheeks were still slightly pink. As Kurt walked out of the room, Blaine turned on the television and part of Kurt rejoiced that he and Blaine were close enough for Blaine to feel comfortable fiddling with Dad's widescreen. It was almost as though they were family.

Kurt checked back on them while he waiting for the water to boil. The scene was somehow simultaneously the same and subtly different. Blaine was still watching TV, but Blaine's mother was holding the photo that had been on the coffee table. It was one from when Kurt was young, of him and Mom and Dad when they'd gone to the theatre for Kurt's fourth birthday. It was a happy photo, but Mrs Anderson didn't look pleased – her back was ramrod straight and her eyes were boring into the picture as though it was a black hole and her eyes were caught in its gravity.

He took a step closer and Mrs Anderson's eyes shifted to focus on him. "Who is—is this your father?" she asked.

Kurt nodded.

"What's his name?" she asked him.

"Burt," Kurt said, confused by this strange turn in conversation.

"His profession?" she asked.

"He works as a mechanic – he owns his own shop." Kurt looked to Blaine for help. He hadn't thought Blaine's mother was the sort of snob that would care about his dad's profession, but was starting to worry that that might be the case.

"Oh," said Blaine's mother. She closed her eyes for a long moment and wrung her hands in a gesture that reminded Kurt of Blaine when he was nervous. She stood abruptly. "I'm sorry, I don't think I can—I've got to go. Can I have your dad's number?"

Kurt and Blaine shared a look. Blaine looked mildly panicked. Maybe she had seen through them after all and was about to tell Kurt's father that Kurt was a bad influence on her son.

Mrs Anderson caught the look and tried to smile and Blaine. "Don't worry. You're not in trouble. I'd just like to talk to him." Something in her smile was sad.

Kurt nodded slowly and entered his father's number into her cell. Blaine was watching carefully as though trying to piece together clues as to what was happening. Kurt was glad that he wasn't the only one feeling bewildered.

Mrs Anderson stopped halfway out the door and said, "Please, don't...I mean, I know that you're young and dating and everything, but today, please don't...don't do anything that I wouldn't want to know about, okay? Not today."

Kurt and Blaine looked at each other after she'd driven away.

"What was that?" Kurt asked.

Blaine shrugged and shook his head. "Don't ask me. It was as though – maybe she knows your dad or something?"

"How?" Kurt asked. "I doubt they'd have run in the same circles."

Blaine shrugged again helplessly. "I don't know."

They put on a movie. After Blaine's mom's request they couldn't quite bring themselves to return to making out, though they trekked back upstairs to tidy Kurt's room so that his dad would be none the wiser about their earlier escapades. They sat on the couch together, leaning against each other, Kurt's arm around Blaine's shoulder, their legs tangled. The rest of Kurt's family had arrived home by the time the movie finished. While Carole went into the kitchen to start dinner and Finn went upstairs to his room to finish his homework, Dad sat on the couch with them until the credits started rolling.

"You should probably start heading back," said Dad to Blaine, "unless you're planning on staying for dinner."

"No, sir," said Blaine. "I'll get going."

"Kurt will see you out," said Dad.

Blaine jumped up as Kurt stretched lazily on the couch. He offered Kurt an arm up. Kurt didn't let go of his hand as they walked to the front door. They kept their goodbye kisses short, wary of the fact that Kurt's family was only a wall away. When Blaine drove off, Kurt leant against the doorframe, watching until he was out of sight and smiling dreamily at the thought of his amazing boyfriend.

They were eating dinner when Dad's phone rang. He looked at it and frowned – Kurt peeked over his shoulder and noted the unfamiliar number.

"Hello?" said Dad. "Who's—oh, Mrs Anderson. Is everything okay?" He looked at Kurt and smiled at him, nodding to assure him that Mrs Anderson was saying that Blaine had arrived home safe and sound. "This isn't really the best t—we're just sitting down to dinner," he said after a moment, then stopped to listen again. "Okay. Sure, I'll just—" Dad nodded at them and winked as he stood and left the table.

"Any reason Blaine's mom is calling your dad?" Finn asked.

Kurt shrugged. "I don't know. She came by this afternoon – maybe she just just wants to scope out the terrai." Kurt tried to pretend that he was interested in his food when his first impulse was to jump up and position himself to eavesdrop on his father's conversation.

It was several minutes before his father returned. They'd all finished eating. Dad had a serious expression on his face as he sat down and returned to his meal.

"What did she say?" Kurt asked. He did his best to keep his voice calm, even though inwardly he was starting to panic. If it was some classist bullshit about him not being good enough for her son, Dad would look larger than himself, like he wanted to smash in heads for Kurt, not smaller and quieter.

"Give me a sec," Burt said. "Just—let me finish my dinner and then we'll talk."

Kurt nodded and sat there in silence. Carole and Finn, both concerned, tried to make small talk to relieve the tension. Kurt watched his father's face, trying to read for clues but couldn't find any. After Dad had finished, he laid his knife and fork beside the plate and stood up.

"Do you mind—" he said, looking at Carole and Finn, "Is it okay if me and Kurt go up to his room to talk about something? I know that we're meant to all help with the dishes..."

"It's fine, honey," said Carole. She looked from Dad to Kurt, worried.

Dad nodded. Kurt felt a tightness in his chest as he followed Dad upstairs. Surely if something bad was happening – if Blaine was being forced to break up with him – Blaine would have called and done it himself. Blaine had too much class to let his mother do it on his behalf, not that Kurt thought she would. If Blaine had been in an accident, Dad would have said something right away. This couldn't be as bad as Dad's face was making out.

They walked into Kurt's room. Dad shut the door behind them and sat on Kurt's bed, patting next to him on the mattress to indicate that Kurt should sit down.

"I, uh..." Dad sounded momentarily awkward as though trying to find the words for what he wanted to say. "There's something I need to talk to you about."

"I got that," Kurt said.

"Okay, yeah." He took Kurt's hand in his. "Now, you know that your mom and I were on and off before we had you."

Kurt frowned. "I do, but what does that have to do with Blaine?"

"Just...let me finish," said Dad. "Now, once we knew we were having you, we stayed together, but a couple of months before... before you were conceived, your mom and I were on an off period. I went to a bar and got drunk and had a one night stand."

"I still don't see what this has to do with Blaine," Kurt said, mind racing.

"The one night stand was with Blaine's mother," said Dad.

Kurt tried to figure out what this might mean. "So, what, she doesn't like you because you two had sex once?"

"No, it's not..." Dad stopped for a moment and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, they were wet. Kurt swallowed, knowing that whatever Dad was about to say was going to screw up his life in a big way, though he still wasn't sure how. "How much older than you is Blaine?" he asked.

Kurt frowned slightly, confused by the non sequitur. "Two months, why?"

"Our one night stand was two months before your mom and I made you," said Burt gently.

Kurt tried to put those two facts together, but couldn't quite understand and then suddenly he could. "What, you're saying...but you can't know for sure, right? I mean, there must be lots of... You'll need to get DNA tests to confirm..."

Dad was shaking his head. "It was me, Kurt. I'm Blaine's biological father, which means that you and Blaine are half-brothers."

Kurt felt something inside him break. He dimly registered his own voice asking his father to leave so that he could be alone for a moment. Dad put his hand on his shoulder for a moment before walking out. He knew Kurt well enough to close the door behind him so that Kurt could break down in privacy.

Kurt's hands were shaking. He needed to talk to Blaine. His phone was in his pocket. He pulled it out and flicked through his contacts list for Blaine's number. Blaine answered after three rings.

"Hey, Kurt," he said, sounding so happy and loving that Kurt knew that he hadn't been told, yet.

"Blaine," said Kurt.

"You wanting to chat about the latest Idol spoilers, because I've been reading and—"

"It's not that," Kurt said, cutting him off. "Has your mother said anything?"

"No," said Blaine sounding slightly confused. "She and Dad have been holed up in their room, talking about something, but it sounds too serious to be about us. I think maybe we misread things this afternoon. I guess they'll tell me when they think it's right to."

There was a shrug in Blaine's voice that made Kurt want to kick him, even though he knew it was unfair. It wasn't Kurt's fault that Blaine didn't know.

"Is everything okay?" Blaine asked after a moment. He sounded concerned.

"I—" Kurt wasn't sure what to do – should he hang up and wait for Blaine's mom to tell him? The thing was, he really needed to talk to Blaine about this. He couldn't wait until she got around to it, not if she hadn't already. "I need to talk to you about something."

"Okay," said Blaine, sounding worried.

"Not over the phone," said Kurt. "Maybe we can meet up somewhere, if your parents let you? If not, I'll come by your place."

"I'll just ask them," said Blaine. There was a moment's silence and Kurt pictured Blaine walking down the hall to his parents' room. A murmured discussion, and then Kurt could hear Blaine breathing into the phone again. "They said it's fine, just let them know where I am. I'm kinda worried to leave, though – she looks upset about something."

"I think I know what," said Kurt. "I'll tell you, just...come, okay? Remember that park we met at that time – the one halfway between our houses? I'll see you there."

Kurt hung up before Blaine could say anything more. He knew that Dad saw him walking out of the house, but Dad didn't say anything. He probably didn't know what to say. Well, that made two of them.

Blaine arrived before Kurt, which wasn't surprising. Kurt had driven slowly to delay this discussion and when he'd arrived, he'd driven around the block three times before parking. Blaine was sitting on the bench they'd occupied on the date for their one month anniversary. It took all Kurt's courage to walk up and sit down beside him.

"Hey," said Blaine. He sounded worried. He took Kurt's hand in his and drew little circles on it with his thumb. Kurt leaned in towards him slightly, enjoying the warmth and closeness even though he knew that he shouldn't be. "Look," said Blaine. "If you're about to break up with me can you, uh...can you make it gentle. Please?"

Kurt realised what their discussion over the phone had sounded like. He opened his mouth to reassure Blaine and then realised that he couldn't. This was going to be a breakup talk, whether he wanted it to be or not. He realised that he had to launch straight into it.

"My dad..." Kurt started. "Your mom called him during dinner tonight."

He felt Blaine sit up slightly as though startled. "She didn't say anything to me," Blaine said.

"I know," said Kurt. God, this was hard. He hated that he had to be the one to do this, but he hated the thought of Blaine having this discussion with anyone else even more. "It was about...about who your biological father is."

"What? But why did she talk to your dad about it before talking to me?" Blaine sounded hurt.

Kurt looked to the ground. He swallowed once and took a deep breath before speaking. "It's because my dad is your biological father."

Blaine pulled away from Kurt sharply. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that we're half-brothers, Blaine." Kurt forced himself to look at Blaine's face. Blaine looked as though he was about to throw up. He stared at Kurt's face, probably looking for any sign that Kurt was joking or having him on. When he didn't find any, he held his head in his hands.

"God," said Blaine. "This is fucked up."

"It is," said Kurt quietly.

"So what does—I guess this means that we can't be...we can't be boyfriends any more, can we?"

"I guess not." Kurt felt his heart breaking. He knew that this was what was going to happen – what had to happen – but he'd hoped that Blaine of all people would find a way that what they had could still work.

"I need to go," said Blaine. "I'm really sorry Kurt, but I need... I need to clear my head, I need to think, I need... I'll talk to you later, okay?" He jumped up and was gone before Kurt could say anything.

It was a long time before Kurt could coax himself to stand up. He hobbled over to his car like an old man and leant on the steering wheel as he cried. When he was sure that the tears had stopped, he reached for the box of tissues he kept in the centre console and dried his eyes, looking in the mirror to make sure he was presentable before he drove home.

Dad was sitting on the couch. He nodded at Kurt as he walked in. Kurt nodded back and ran upstairs before they could have a conversation over what had happened. Finn's door was open. He waved at Kurt as he walked past, gesturing for him to come in.

"Is everything okay?" he asked.

Kurt was about to automatically say yes when he thought better of it. "No, Finn, it's not." Kurt was proud that his voice remained steady even though his insides were like jelly.

"What happened?" Finn asked. "Did something happen to Blaine?"

"No, nothing," said Kurt. He sat down on Finn's bed. "Well, being born, but I don't think either of us can regret that one."

"I'm not following," Finn said.

Kurt held his hands out helplessly. "Apparently we're half-brothers."

"Shit," said Finn. After a moment, he said it again, this time adding, "That has to suck."

"It really does," said Kurt, wavering slightly. He took a deep breath and reigned in his emotion. "It does suck."

"So, what now?" asked Finn.

"I don't know," said Kurt. "We haven't talked about it."

"You need to," said Finn.

"I know," said Kurt. "I tried, just...Blaine needed space, which is fair enough because this is a fairly big bomb for him – I'm not the one who just discovered the identity of my father."

"I guess, give him time?" Finn looked as helpless as Kurt felt. "And, shit, does this mean I have two stepbrothers, then?"

Kurt nodded.

"Right, wow. I'm sorry, that's so far from the point, but...wow." Finn was shaking his head, like it was a can that just needed have the last of its contents shaken free.

There was the sound of a doorbell. Kurt went into the hall and peered down the stairs to see who it was. Dad was opened the door to reveal Blaine standing on the doorstep.

"Hi, Mr—Hi," said Blaine awkwardly.

"Hello, Blaine," said Dad. He was aiming for warm but it just came out as awkward.

"I, uh—" Blaine looked at the floor. "I came to see Kurt."

Kurt hurried down the stairs. "Hey, Blaine."

Blaine smiled awkwardly. "Hey, Kurt."

"Do you two..." Dad cleared his throat slightly. "Do you want to go up to Kurt's room to talk?"

Blaine nodded.

"I'll be back down here if you want to talk to me after," said Dad.

Blaine started up the stairs.

"You can close the door if you want, Kurt," said Dad. That, more than anything, showed how things had changed in just a couple of hours. In the past, Dad had always insisted that they keep the door open.

When they got to Kurt's room, Kurt sat down on the bed and expected Blaine to sit next to him. Instead, Blaine leant against the opposite wall.

"So, uh, I've been thinking," said Blaine quickly, before Kurt could say anything. "I know that we can't be...that, you know, but I'd hate it if we couldn't still be friends."

"Friends?" Kurt asked. Blaine made it sound easy, like they could just switch off what they felt, when the truth was that having Blaine alone in his room made Kurt want to grab him and kiss him and lay him down on the bed and either fuck him or be fucked by him, depending on the mood of the day. Blaine's presence, without anything else, was making Kurt slightly aroused, like a Pavlovian dog trained to respond to a bell, except in this case, the bell was Blaine's presence.

He loved Blaine as a friend, he really did, but he also loved him. He loved that husky sound his voice got when they were having it on. He loved that cool, polished voice Blaine used when people were listening and that goofy voice when it was just the two of them. He loved it when they held hands and he loved it when they walked side by side, almost-but-not-quite touching because they were somewhere where holding hands wasn't advisable.

He loved it when they kissed and he loved it when they made love. He loved blowing and being blown by Blaine. He loved that slight tension in the air between them, when there was someone else around and they were trying to keep their discussions G-rated. He loved it when they were alone and their discussions were G-rated by choice, because they shared a whole bundle of interests as well as physical attraction.

It made Kurt sick to think of what they'd done (incest, a voice in the back of his mind whispered) but it also thrilled a part of him, which made him feel even sicker, like there was something wrong with him for liking it. Going back to being just friends after everything else felt like settling for a life in monochrome after seeing a world in colour for the first time. They'd been friends first and above everything else – Kurt had tried to train himself to see the rest as a bonus, because it really had been too good to be true – but the thought of never being able to touch Blaine like that again just killed him.

"I'm not sure if I want to be just friends," Kurt admitted for the first time. He wasn't sure if he was admitting it to Blaine or to himself.

"What choice do we have?" Blaine moved from the wall to sit on the bed. Even so, he'd positioned himself so that there was more than a foot between him and Kurt.

Kurt remembered earlier, when they were lying here, tangled up in each other. From the slight blush on Blaine's cheeks, Blaine was thinking of the same thing.

"We have a choice," said Kurt. "Don't pretend that we don't."

"What, so you want to go back to..." committing incest were the words that Blaine didn't say but Kurt could hear as though he had.

Kurt shrugged. "I don't know." He thought about it for a moment. "You know, the reaction we're having now – this gut it's immoral reaction is the same reaction some people have against gay couples."

"No it's not," said Blaine, "Because this one's actually rational. I mean, in terms of genetics, incest can have pretty screwed up consequences for the kids."

"We're both guys, Blaine," said Kurt. "We're not having kids, at least not kids of the two of us. Beyond that, what's the reason?" Kurt wasn't sure why he was pushing this so hard – God knew, he wasn't comfortable with the idea himself – but he couldn't let it go. If there was one defining trait to Kurt's character, one thing that he'd inherited from his father, it was his complete inability to give up on something even when it seemed crazy or hopeless.

"The reason is, I can't," said Blaine. He stood up. "I'm sorry Kurt, I really am, but I just... I can't."

Kurt closed his eyes. "I know. I just had to say..."

"I want this, Kurt," Blaine said and Kurt knew that he wasn't talking about their relationship. Although his face was sad, there was a fire in his eyes that hadn't been there this morning. "I mean, I never thought I'd get to meet my biological father. Now I get a chance. I don't think—I can't throw that away."

"Of course not," said Kurt. "Just...while you're playing with your shiny new dad, who also happens to be my dad, make sure you spare a thought for me, okay? Because you might feel like getting a father is compensation for all this, but I've just lost my boyfriend, so just...try not to be too happy about it in front of me."

Kurt hadn't meant to sound bitter, but he was. Blaine must have heard it, too, because he looked hurt – Kurt wasn't sure if it was because Kurt had accused him of being happy about this or because Kurt hadn't been able to be happy for him. Kurt didn't get the chance to find out because Blaine walked out of the room without saying another word.

Kurt lay back for several minutes, trying to think of what he'd say, because getting up to follow. Eventually, he managed to prepare a whole speech about how their friendship was what mattered and about how Kurt would prefer to be friends with Blaine than lose him all together and that maybe they could make this brothers thing work.

All that was forgotten when Kurt peeked down from the top of the stairs to see Dad and Blaine, sitting in the living room and chatting. Blaine had a slight smile on his face. Kurt couldn't interrupt that. He retreated back to his room and closed the door behind him. When Blaine knocked, Kurt lay there silent, pretending to be asleep, until Blaine left.

The next morning, Kurt was meant to go for coffee with Mercedes, Rachel and Blaine. While Blaine almost certainly wasn't going to show, the other two would, which meant that Kurt would either have to get up and get ready or call to cancel. The latter seemed too hard – like it was admitting that breaking up with the boy he loved had broken something inside him – so he dressed himself carefully in sombre greys and walked out the door. He still hadn't spoken to his father since the night before and he wasn't sure if he was ready to.

He arrived five minutes early, to find Mercedes and Rachel already sitting at their usual table. He went towards them and put his stuff down.

"Do you want me to go order?" he asked them.

"Shouldn't we wait for Blaine?" Rachel asked.

Kurt looked towards the door. It was sunny outside – a sunny Sunday, like everything was happy and warm and normal and he was about to have a coffee with his two best friends and his amazing, fantastic boyfriend. "I don't think he's coming," Kurt said.

"I'll get the coffee," Rachel said quickly, giving Mercedes a meaningful look.

Mercedes took Kurt's hand. Kurt shook his head slightly, to tell her he wasn't going to cry or break down or any of the things that she was worried about. She gave him a compassionate smile and squeezed it tighter.

Rachel arrived back a moment later with a number. She took her seat and waited expectantly for Kurt to start talking. When Kurt didn't say anything, she looked pointedly at Mercedes, inclining her head to Kurt.

"What happened, sweetie?" Mercedes asked.

Kurt opened his mouth to talk and then closed it again. He didn't trust his voice not to crack on him and he wasn't going to collapse in tears in the middle of a coffee shop.

"Did you break up?" Rachel asked.

Kurt forced himself to answer. "Yes, or we're broken up at least – I'm not sure that either of us did the breaking." He forestalled the next question by saying, "I don't really want to talk about it, if it's all the same to you. There was too much talking about it last night, without anyone saying anything, because there's really nothing to say."

Mercedes and Rachel looked at each other again. They seemed to understand and turned the discussion to random small talk – television, movies, music on the radio – and Kurt felt a momentary surge of gratitude as he let himself sit back and rest under the warm shower of words.

Kurt's phone rang several times. It was Blaine. Kurt ignored each call. After the third time, Rachel took Kurt's free hand under the table without saying anything.

It was good to have friends.

That afternoon, Kurt avoided Dad again and went upstairs to his room. He pulled out his Grey's Anatomy DVDs and watched them on his computer. It was one of his favourite comfort shows – not too serious, not too mentally demanding, but also not so warm and fuzzy and optimistic that it made him feel worse by comparison.

He ignored another call from Blaine. A moment later, he got a notification from Facebook telling him that Blaine had changed his status to single. Kurt turned off his computer and lay down in his bed with his iPod and tried unsuccessfully to sleep.

The next day, everyone was sympathetic in just such a way that Kurt knew that Rachel had pried some details out of Finn. Kurt was grateful for that – after being told about it all by his father and then being the one to tell Blaine and Finn, Kurt wasn't sure if he could go through that discussion again. Everyone was careful to tell Kurt how sorry they were and how the world was fucked up (but that Kurt wasn't) while not forcing Kurt to discuss it further, which was exactly what Kurt needed.

Blaine kept trying to call. Kurt eventually turned his phone off. A month ago, Blaine had changed his name in Kurt's phone memory to read Blaine (totally awesome and awesomely hot boyfriend) and it stung to see that flash across the screen, but Kurt couldn't bring himself to change it just yet.

Blaine was sitting on Kurt's doorstep when he got home. Kurt walked past him without saying anything. He wasn't sure if he was hoping that Blaine would try to follow and pound at the door until Kurt agreed to talk with him or if he wanted Blaine to go away. When he heard Blaine's car leave a moment later, he felt subtly disappointed, although he told himself that it was for the best.

When he got upstairs to his computer, he found that he had a private message waiting for him on Facebook. He clicked on it, wondering if it was a message of condolence from friends or an attempt to mend bridges from Blaine. He stopped and stared when he saw the name Dave Karofsky staring at him.

Karofsky had transferred last year, after he'd finally accepted his sexuality. Good riddance, as far as Kurt was concerned – the others had seemed too quick to forgive and forget and invite Karofsky to join glee club. With Karofsky gone, Kurt had been able to return to McKinley and feel safe.

Kurt clicked on the message. Hey, Kurt, it said, which was probably one of the most polite openings Karofsky had ever gone for – usually Kurt was 'fag' or 'ladyface'. I heard you broke up with your preppy boyfriend. I was wondering – you interested in going on a date tonight?

It was a terrible idea and it made Kurt feel sick in the stomach, but for an entirely different reason than he had been for the last two days. It made such a welcome change that Kurt let himself type, Yes, without actually thinking about it.

It was only a moment before Karofsky sent back a time and place. When the time came to leave, Kurt snuck out without telling his father where he was going.

It was a seedy restaurant in Lima Heights. Kurt looked around nervously before getting out and locking his car. There were only a couple of other cars in the parking lot and Kurt recognised Karofsky's wagon, which meant that he was already waiting inside. Kurt made sure to hold his key between his first two fingers like Dad had taught him, so he had a makeshift knuckle duster in case he got jumped.

Karofsky smiled when Kurt approached.

"Hi," he said.

"Hey," said Kurt. He sat down quickly, before Karofsky could pull the seat out for him. Blaine knew that he hated being treated like a girl, but Karofsky wouldn't have reason to.

They talked about inconsequential stuff during the meal – how Karofsky (Kurt still couldn't bring himself to think of him as Dave, despite the fact that they were on a date) was finding his new school, how the McKinley football team was doing this year, how Karofsky was trying to start a glee club at his new school and had gotten involved in musical theatre.

After they'd finished eating, Kurt let Karofsky pay. They walked out together and ended up making out in the back of Karofsky's wagon. When Karofsky started on Kurt's fly, Kurt pulled back slightly.

"Not yet," he said.

Karofsky shrugged. "Fine. Let me know when you're ready." Kurt noted that the underlying assumption was that he would be ready sometime soon, but he didn't have the energy to disagree.

By the time Kurt went home, his lips were swollen and he was pretty sure he had a hickey. His arms were sore and he knew that he was going to have bruises from where Karofsky had held him. It had been rougher than what Kurt was used to, but it had helped make Kurt's mind numb, which convinced him that it was worth it.

Kurt was able to avoid Dad, but Finn had looked out from his room. Kurt tried to walk past, but Finn got up and followed Kurt into Kurt's room.

"What's this?" Finn asked, gesturing from Kurt's messy hair to his lips to the hickey on his neck. "Don't tell me that you and Blaine are... that you're still doing stuff or anything, because that would be screwed up, man."

"Don't worry, Finn," Kurt said, sitting on his bed to take off his shoes. They were a new pair that he hadn't broken in yet, so his feet were aching. "I haven't spoken to Blaine since Saturday. I didn't just go out to get it on with my brother." The last word hurt Kurt to say, but he had to let go or at least he had to convince himself that he needed to let go.

"Then, who...?" Finn asked.

"It's none of your business," Kurt said.

Finn frowned as he left the room and Kurt knew that this discussion wasn't over. He forced himself to forget about it, though and lay back on his bed and remembered making out with Karofsky in an attempt to drive out other memories.

He received a text from Karofsky halfway through the next day, inviting him to another date that evening. Finn looked at Kurt suspiciously as he left but didn't say anything. Kurt arrived at the same restaurant and made the same small talk with Karofsky as they both tried to while away the time until it was appropriate for them to go and make out again.

They asked for the check and then walked back to the cars. This time, the parking lot wasn't empty. Sitting on the hood of Karofsky's car was Blaine.

"Hello Dave," he said. "I'd like to talk to Kurt if that's okay. Would you mind giving us a little privacy?"

Karofsky crossed his arms. "I thought you two were broken up."

"We are," said Kurt, frowning.

Blaine smiled sadly. "We are," he agreed, "but that doesn't mean that I've stopped caring for him. I'm not going to sit back and let you convince him to let you use him while he's on the rebound, not after everything that happened last year."

Karofsky's muscles tightened and then relaxed. "Fine, Anderson. Have it your way. I'll see you around, Kurt."

Blaine moved to let him drive off, leaving Blaine and Kurt standing alone in the parking lot.

"How did you know where I was?" Kurt asked.

Blaine pulled an iPhone out of his pocket and handed it to Kurt. Kurt felt his pocket and found it empty and took the phone from Blaine gingerly.

"Finn swiped it," Blaine explained. "He was worried and I think he was right to be if you think that dating Karofsky is a good idea. When he found Karofsky's message he called me to help him hack your Facebook to see where you'd gone – I didn't think you'd have changed your password, so that wasn't hard."

"Karofsky hasn't hurt me," Kurt said, arms crossed.

Blaine laughed. "Right, Kurt. He hasn't hurt you – like he hadn't hurt you when you were so scared of him you changed schools, remember? Tell me that you're not scared that he's going to try something."

"I don't think you get to be jealous, after walking out on me, twice, both times I tried to talk to you," Kurt said.

"That's not answering my question," said Blaine. He took Kurt's silence as an agreement. "We need to talk, Kurt," he said.

Kurt sighed, but didn't argue. Blaine walked over to his car and unlocked it and invited Kurt to sit in the backseat. Kurt hesitated and then joined him.

"Are you really so ready to forget what we had?" Blaine asked. He sounded surprisingly bitter. "I mean, you won't answer my calls, you walked past me when I was waiting on the doorstep, you're dating David Karofsky. I thought what we had meant more than that." His hand shifted slightly and Kurt knew that he was fighting the urge to reach out and take Kurt's hand.

"So did I," said Kurt. He was getting annoyed now. "Except you seemed so eager to forget it, what with the smiles about your chance to meet your biological father and the sitting there, chatting happily, while I was sitting alone upstairs feeling like my world was ending."

"Forgive me for trying to see an upside," Blaine muttered.

"An upside?" Kurt was really pissed now. "You're saying that this has an upside?"

Blaine looked at Kurt. He was wearing an expression that Kurt had only seen once, when the lady at the little icecreamery across the road from the mall in Westerville had refused to serve them because they'd been holding hands. A moment later, Blaine had started ranting at her about homophobia and prejudice and bigotry, making such a scene that Kurt hadn't wanted to eat there any more, even after the girl's manager had come out and apologised to them personally and offered them free icecream.

"Yes, Kurt, an upside," said Blaine, "because this is far, far too fucked up not to have one – if it doesn't, then what's the point of everything when I don't get to be with you? I had dreams, you know. I mean, we're a high school romance, so I shouldn't be thinking that far ahead, but I had dreams.

"I pictured our wedding – the awesome wedding that we'd have, because you'd plan it and I know that you're amazing at that after seeing the photos of what you threw together in a week for your dad and Carole. I imagined what it would feel like to walk down the aisle with you or however you'd want to do it and then stand up in front of everyone and say that I want to be with this man for the rest of my life, in sickness and in health, until death do we part.

"I pictured the house that we'd buy, probably in New York since that's where you want to go and I'm ultimately lovesick enough to follow you anywhere you wanted to be, and how we'd decorate it together and argue about paint colours. I pictured the garden that I'd potter around in and the recording studio we'd set up for ourselves in the spare room because we'd never stop singing.

"I pictured the kids we'd have – little yous and little mes, or maybe little kids that we adopted, since I'm not sure what your stance is on surrogacy. I figured that I'd probably be the one to stay home with them, since you're going to be the one to have the big awesome career, though if you wanted to stay home too we could work around that. I imagined how proud we'd be of whatever they were good at – it was always singing in my head, because any kids of yours would have amazing voices and I know that I don't sound too shabby myself, but it could be anything.

"I imagined the awesome sex life we'd have and how we'd snigger when Rachel or Mercedes called to complain that theirs was going downhill, because we'd be going at it until the day we die, even if we need Viagra or whatever to get it up. You know that we would have.

"I imagined us with grandkids – doting on them, spoiling them rotten, much to our children's dismay, and being wicked grandparents. I imaged the road trips back to Lima and Westerville, to see family, and imagined what sort of car you might choose to fit us all. I imagined us growing old and grey together. I imagined us dying together in our sleep at age one hundred and five, lying side by side, because any other option was too fucked up to imagine.

"So, yeah I needed to see an upside, because I dreamed of things, even if it was stupid to, and if we both had to let that go for nothing, even though neither of us wanted to, I wasn't sure if life was worth living." Blaine was crying, now.

Kurt was crying, too. He reached out and took Blaine's hand and was glad that this time Blaine didn't pull away. "I had dreams, too," Kurt said. "It wasn't stupid. It sounded fantastic."

"I know," said Blaine. He leaned in against Kurt. "I don't want to lose this, but, I mean... I don't think I can pretend that we're not related."

"Then we won't," said Kurt. "We're going to have to become the most fantastic brothers in existence. We'll... we'll threaten each other's boyfriends and always think that they're not quite good enough and when one of us gets married, the other one will be best man and we'll smile and we'll still love each other even if we're not in love with each other."

"I think I'd like that," said Blaine. "We can be godfathers to each other's children and can be the uncle who spoils them rotten, since from my experience that's what uncles do."

"I'd be a pretty poor godfather, what with being an atheist," Kurt said.

Blaine shrugged. "I don't think that's what's important," he said.

Kurt smiled at him. "Our kids will be some of those appallingly cute cousins who do everything together and try to trick their teachers into thinking that they're not related so that they can be in the same classes."

"If we ever get into fights with our husbands, which we will, knowing us, we can call each other for advice, because I know that I trust you enough to tell me when I'm being an idiot. And then I'll probably scream at you a bit, but you'll know that I'm just taking out my frustration and it's not about you, so you'll let me and in the process save my marriage."

"We can go to Broadway shows together and I'll call you up after each episode of Idol so we can share conspiracy theories and talk about who we think is going to be eliminated and how heartbreaking it'll be to see our favourite go home."

"We can discuss politics and bore our friends to death by chatting about gay rights until they imagine pink purses coming out of our mouths."

Kurt quirked a smile. "We can be so close that even our husbands notice it, although they'll never discover why."

Blaine laughed sadly and nodded in agreement. "Right." He looked down at their interlinked hands.

"You know," said Kurt, "brothers can hold hands. I mean, Finn and I don't, but I saw Puck holding his sister's hand and that seems more representative of a real sibling relationship. We can't do the other stuff, but we can, you know, hug and hold hands."

Blaine's grip tightened. "We can."

"How come our father's so tall and we've both come out so short?" Kurt asked Blaine.

"Actually," Blaine said, "I was wondering about how such a manly man managed to come out with two gay sons."

They both cracked up laughing at that point – they needed to – which relieved some of the tension. When they finally parted, it was with smiles and a chaste, brotherly hug and a promise to see each other soon.

That wasn't a promise that they kept. Blaine was still at Dalton and working hard to get the marks he needed to get into top colleges. Kurt threw himself into glee and schoolwork and rejoined the Cheerios to keep himself busy. Kurt and his father slowly started talking again and Kurt knew that Blaine was talking to him too, though Kurt always contrived to be out when that happened.

Sometimes, Blaine came over for family dinners, with his stepfather's blessing. Everything seemed cosy on the surface, but Kurt still felt uncomfortable and didn't say much. He wasn't sure if anyone noticed.

Kurt sat in the audience at Blaine's graduation and Blaine sat in the audience at Kurt's. The parties afterwards were big, group affairs so they didn't need to have a proper conversation.

They enrolled in colleges on opposite sides of the country – Kurt in New York and Blaine in LA. They had each other's phone numbers and promised to Skype, but Kurt somehow doubted that they'd talk more than they had in Ohio.

It was at college that Kurt started dating again. His first boyfriend was a guy two inches shorter than him with curly black hair. His second was a legacy student who reeked of old money, with gelled back hair and old-fashioned manners. His third was a guy he met at a Katy Perry concert who had an obsession with singing gender-reversed pop songs. It wasn't until his fourth – an enthusiastic sophomore who hid bundles of nervous energy under his confident exterior – that he realised what he was doing.

He apologised to the guy and broke up with him on the spot and then hurried to make it back to his dorm room before he started to cry. He put on Brothers & Sisters DVDs, hoping that Kevin and Scotty's cuteness would be soothing, before giving up three episodes in. He'd pulled out his phone and was dialling before he had a chance to think it through.

"Kurt?" Blaine didn't sound that different at all.

"Hi, Blaine," Kurt said.

"I wasn't—is anything wrong?" Blaine asked.

"I just missed you," Kurt admitted.

"I missed you, too," said Blaine. "I've been wanting to call, I just...I guess I didn't have the courage to make the first move."

"Me neither," Kurt admitted.

"So, uh, is there anything you want to talk about?" Blaine asked.

"Nothing in particular," Kurt said, feeling like an idiot.

There was a moment's silence before Blaine responded. "You know, I—I was wondering what you thought of this year's top 12 on Idol. I've been watching and I quite like the blonde girl – that little one with the big voice?"

"I like her, too," said Kurt, "though I can't help but think that that guy who was in the car accident is kind of hot."

"He is," Blaine agreed, "Though he's less my style of music."

"Oh, no, my liking of him is completely superficial," Kurt said.

They settled into a comfortable conversation that lasted for four hours, until Kurt's cell ran out of credit. Kurt quickly logged onto Skype and he and Blaine continued their discussion until Kurt's roommate threatened to kill Kurt if Kurt didn't let him get some sleep. Kurt and Blaine said their goodbyes and then spoke again early the next morning.

Kurt wasn't sure if he ever entirely moved on, but he and Blaine were quickly rediscovering their friendship and figuring out the boundaries of their new brotherhood. Whenever Kurt had news, Blaine was the first person Kurt called, and the converse was also true. Five years later, when Kurt eventually asked his boyfriend of two years – a man with blond hair, a sweet smile, a medicine degree and a love of Gaga that rivalled Kurt's own – to marry him, there was no doubt that Blaine would be Kurt's best man.

At the wedding, Blaine stood slightly behind Kurt as he received the vows from the man he was going to marry. when Kurt turned to Blaine for the ring so that he could give his vows in turn, Blaine smiled sadly at him. Kurt knew that he was thinking of the dreams they'd had when they were teenagers. Kurt smiled sadly back and wondered if they'd ever be able to forget how much they'd wished that their lives had gone a different path and that they'd be the ones to end up together, like in all those great love stories.

Blaine blinked and looked away, handing Kurt the ring. Kurt turned away from Blaine, but as he gave his vows he was still aware of Blaine's presence behind him.