Kurt's never been really great with receiving gifts. He supposes a large part of it is that he just barely trusts anyone else to shop for him, and past experience has pretty much proved that fear to be realistic. But if he's honest with himself, Kurt also doesn't do very well with generosity. Having to be tough-as-nails fierce just to get by from day to day probably messes with that part of your head.

So he doesn't really talk very much about his birthday. If people ask when it is he'll tell them, but it's not information he offers up freely, and he never makes a big deal out of it. Kurt finds it way easier, somehow, to plan and celebrate for other people. Doing all the work on a day that's supposed to be for him and about him just seems kind of unfair. (And if he doesn't trust people gift-shopping, he definitely doesn't trust anyone else to do that part of it.)

He does come home from Dalton for the weekend, though. Carole bakes an amazing cake, something weird and low-carb for his dad but with all sorts of fancy crystallized fruit on the top, and she also gives him a gift card to Macy's. (Smart woman.) Finn gets him this bizarro teddy bear from one of those customizable places, and it's got a football helmet and a cheerleader skirt and a smart peacoat on it all at once, which is kind of a disaster, but at least he's trying. It brings a bit of a smile to Kurt's face. He also brings home from school Kurt's gift from Mercedes, which is a scarf he'd been eyeing the last couple of times they went shopping together. (Kurt doesn't have the heart to tell her he ended up buying it for himself a week or two ago, but hey, at least now he's got it in two different colors.)

His dad's present is in a small box wrapped with shiny green paper, and he opens it to find a slim and rather pricy digital camera.

"Wow, Dad," he says, because well, wow, but he still doesn't quite understand why.

"This thing comes with a condition, okay kid?" says Burt. "I know you – you usually like to be in the pictures, instead of taking them." He laughs a little. "But here's the thing, it's just that we miss you when you're off in Westerville at school. I feel like..." He trails off, staring more at the camera, as Kurt flips it over and over in his hands, than at Kurt himself. "I feel like we're missing out on parts of your life that I'd kinda like to see, you know? So I'm giving you this, but you gotta promise that you'll – document your life for us a little, okay? I wanna know what you get up to out there, and I want you to show me, not some creepy kid on Facebook."

Kurt looks down at the camera, too, its smooth teal-tinted metal surface and the wide viewfinder screen on the back. He's barely got any school left this year, but he can see what his dad's getting at. He's missed his family pretty fiercely while he's been away boarding, and if it weren't for some of the photos that Carole had posted online, he'd be clueless sometimes. The least he can do is return the favor.

"Yeah," he says. "Absolutely."

"Cool," says Finn suddenly. "We miss you, bro. Happy birthday."

And see, that "we" carries the weight of New Directions on it too, and that stings at his heart even more. There's no way he'd let any of them down now.


"Hey Kurt, wait up!"

Since the shouting is clearly from behind him, Kurt slows down, and allows a small tight grin to creep across his face. It's the last day of school and everyone is moving out, and he was worried he was going to have to embarrass himself by being the one that sought him out. But here he is, running up behind Kurt, looking for him.


(Kurt can still barely even think his name without swooning a little, and that's getting to be a problem.)

"Hey," Blaine says again, much softer, from right behind him. Kurt turns to face him and has to take a step back to make enough space between them for the big box of clothes he's carrying.

"Hey," says Kurt, trying not to smile too obviously, wishing his bangs weren't falling into his face a little.

"So explain to me why Facebook had to tell me it was your birthday last week?" he says, laughing a little, breathless from running (in his uniform, in June, seriously what is wrong with him).

Kurt flicks his eyes away, his bottom lip catching a little between his teeth. "Eh, I'm not a big birthday person, is all. Just reminds us that we're getting older!"

"That's a shame," says Blaine. "If I'd known, I would've gotten you something."

"Oh, don't be silly, you don't need to – " But Kurt catches Blaine's eyes again and they are suddenly very serious, even squinting like they are in the bright sunlight. Something about it makes him pause. He's used to the stupid flirting, the dancing around each other, the blatantly leaving things unsaid. They've been doing that for months. But he isn't used to this.

"This might have to count double, then," he says. "And I think it's pretty cocky of me to count this as a gift, anyway. But there's just...something I really need to say." Without breaking eye contact, Blaine takes the box from Kurt's arms and sets it gently down beside them. Then he fills the space the box was occupying, stepping right into Kurt's personal bubble, their toes almost touching on the ground. Slowly, half-nervous but half-righteously sure, Blaine lifts up first one hand and then the other to curve around Kurt's face, holding him there, just – touching him. His right thumb skims a little across the left corner of Kurt's mouth. Between this and the heat, Kurt's pretty amazed that he isn't melting straight into the lawn.

"Kurt," says Blaine, "I really, really like you."

"Damnit," says Kurt, "Blaine..." He leans his face into the curve of Blaine's hand, trying to nuzzle at it without looking like a complete dork, and kind of failing, but he can't help it. Skin-on-skin contact with Blaine is electrifying.

"And I – I want to be with you. I should have told you this a long time ago, really."

"I know," says Kurt. "I – I knew. But hearing you say it, it's – "

"I just – I was going to wait and let you make the first move, you know? Because I figured – "

Kurt shakes his head, and brings his arms up around Blaine's neck. "No," he says, "you'd have been waiting forever, I – I can't make the first move. I tried that, once, and...well, one heart-shattering rejection was enough."

"Oh, Kurt," says Blaine, his intense eyes going softer, "how could I ever reject you?"

It's like something out of a freaking movie. Kurt's heart is beating a mile a minute and he doesn't even care that Blaine is kind of sweating on him (although ew) because he slips his arms down from where he's cradling Kurt's face and up under Kurt's arms instead, locking around him across his back and burying his face in Kurt's shoulder. Kurt can feel his warm breath smooth across his neck as they clutch tighter and tighter, and no he is not going to cry, he refuses, even if this is the most intimate embrace he's ever been part of, the hot and surprisingly solid lines of Blaine's arms pressing him closer, closer, to the boy he's been pretty much in love with since the first time he sang the words you brought me to life to him. He takes a long, shuddering inhale instead, and he can't stop just whispering his name against his ear, Blaine, oh Blaine, Blaine.

And Blaine says, "Mmmm, Kurt."

And his dad says, "Hey, Kurt!"

They pull apart slow and reluctant, smiling at each other, more with their eyes than anything. "I guess I've gotta go," says Kurt, and he bends to get the box but Blaine's already picking it up and handing it back to him.

"Yeah," he says, "me too. We've both got long drives ahead of us. But look, I'm gonna make this work, and I'm gonna do it right." He grins, and rests his hand back on Kurt's shoulder, something he's done so many times before but now is just somehow all the more wonderful. "Real dates. Real everything. Because you deserve it."

"I'll miss you," Kurt says, because it's so, so true.

"I'll miss you too," says Blaine.

Their eyes stay locked for a few more seconds, and Kurt's very skin thrills, because this is it. Blaine's face has shifted from its wonder-soft intensity from earlier to a look Kurt can readily identify as his "sexual tension" face, and he is totally going to kiss him. He practically can't remember a time where he wasn't waiting for this moment, where he wasn't dreaming that their lingering glances at Warblers practice or their casually brushing feet under the table at lunch would drive him to this, and he'd have those amazing lips all to himself.

But Blaine just gives his shoulder a soft lingering squeeze, and then starts to back away, still smiling, refusing to turn and walk forward for a good long while.

And as amazing as all that was, as he heads toward his dad's truck with the last of the boxes, Kurt lets out a disappointed little groan.

(But it was still kind of the best birthday present ever.)


It's another week before their first real date. (The concept is kind of funny to Kurt. He thinks about everything they've done together, sectionals, regionals, that production of Rent, dinners at Breadstix, coffee and poetry readings, the local fashion expo in Columbus – how is it that they've never "really" been on a date, exactly?) Kurt spends his first week of vacation developing a solid schedule for his summer job part-time in his dad's garage and trying to get used to the new house. His bedroom is upstairs instead of downstairs, which is weird, and it's a little smaller and squarer than his old one. He appreciates the effort they went through to at least paint it the same color as the before, though, and he has to admit he kind of likes the carpet better here. If only he had a bigger closet.

Saturday morning it's nearly noon and Kurt is just stirring, enjoying the luxury he has of sleeping in on weekends now that he doesn't have a clumsy sports-playing roommate, when his phone buzzes on his bedside table with a text message from Blaine.

hope you dont have plans for tonight! dinner reservations and then movie tickets. its the new pixar one, hope thats alright

Kurt laughs against his pillow and texts back. Dinner and a movie! How...traditional. That's kind of hot.

you know it ;) comes his quick response. pick you up at 5:30 or so, be ready. gosh, ive been waiting for this.

Kurt snuggles back into his blankets and realizes that he has, too. But here it is, at long last. He's going on an honest-to-cheesus date. With Blaine.

Suddenly he bolts back upright and throws the blankets off. What is he going to wear?

What he's going to wear, it turns out after much deliberation, is his ultra-soft floppy black sweater, with the big draping sleeves that go down to about his elbows, and what are possibly the tightest jeans he owns. As he's tugging them up so they finally actually reach his waist, Kurt eyes himself in the mirror, hair styled flawlessly after the trim he got three days ago, face moisturized with that cream that paints him with just the subtlest little bit of shimmer, and, well, he looks good. Damn good. He smirks at himself in the mirror – with any luck, Blaine's not going to know what hit him. As he's tucking himself in at the front and doing up the button and zipper, he has a sudden flash of fantasy that his hands are Blaine's hands, and that they're going through the same motions...in reverse. It's enough to send a flush up the back of his neck and he grins, and takes a couple steadying breaths before collecting his things into his tote and heading downstairs.

"Wow, Kurt, hot date tonight?" teases Carole when she spots him from the kitchen.

And Kurt is so happy he almost wants to laugh, because finally, he gets to say, "Yes."

"I thought I caught you with an extra spring in your step lately," she says. "Who's the lucky guy, hmmm?"

"Ohh, just this guy," he says with a sigh, grinning to himself, "you know, thin, dark hair, a little shorter than me, drives this really cool car, voice like an absolute dream – "

"I knew it!" crows Carole. "Ohh, honey, I'm so happy for you." She puts down the vegetable peeler and skips over to the sofa to hug him, and he doesn't even care that she's getting potato juice on his sweater, not really anyway. "Took him long enough, didn't it? You better show him exactly what he's been missing, maybe that'll snap some sense into him."

Kurt thinks about that lingering touch on the last day of school, about his wandering thoughts in front of his mirror. "Oh, I plan to," he assures her.

The doorbell rings.

"Knock him dead, kid!" she says with a wink. "And be back before your curfew or your dad'll ground both of us!"

Kurt smiles at her as she lets him stand up and ducks back to the kitchen. He gives himself a once-over, brushing invisible lint and imaginary wrinkles out of his long sweater, sweeping his bangs back with his thumb more out of nervousness than anything, and slowly crosses to the front door.

His nerves evaporate a little along with his giggles when Blaine rings the bell again before he even makes it there.

"Impatient, aren't we?" Kurt chuckles as he opens the door, and – oh. Ohhhh wow.

Somehow, caught up in his own wardrobe panic, so set on wowing the goody-goody romantic straight out of Blaine, it hadn't really occurred to Kurt to ever think about what Blaine might be wearing. Kurt has really only seen Blaine in two states of dress: school uniform and comfort-only casual, pajamas or sweatpants or whatever he's worn to late-night movie marathons or when he's been on rounds as the dorm monitor. Even when they've been off-campus, out together, it's kind of been a blazer-and-tie sort of thing and he's looked remarkably similar to the standard Dalton fare. But here in front of him, Blaine's wearing a deep purple shirt with a Henley collar and the sleeves pushed up to his elbows, the material hanging just loose enough that it slips tantalizingly around the curves and angles of his torso rather than looking baggy and unflattering. His slacks are pretty generic but they're doing wonderful things for every area between waist and mid-thigh, and his hair has about ten percent of its usual product in it if past experience is anything to go by because it's – it's so curly. It's so curly that Kurt kind of really wants to touch it.

"Good evening, monsieur," says Blaine, grinning up at him. Kurt descends the two steps toward him, shutting the door slowly behind him, and gives into his urge. Blaine's hair is soft and dense under his hand.

"Hey there, easy!" says Blaine. "It takes a while to get it to look this good. You of all people should appreciate that."

"Sorry," says Kurt faintly, even though he's not, really, because it's incredible. He retracts his hand and looks down at their shoes. "I just – I really wanted to – "

"It's okay," says Blaine, tilting his chin back up with a soft press of his fingers, and god Kurt could just kiss him right now. It would be so easy. "This is weird, I get it."

"It is weird," says Kurt. "We're just – kind of – "

"Doing it backward?" says Blaine with a chuckle. "Yeah, I know. But I promised you, I'm gonna do this the right way. I am making this a perfect first date whether you like it or not."

"So we're gonna do everything people do after they've known each other for three weeks even though we've known each other for six months," says Kurt.

"Yeah," Blaine says, his grin turning sheepish. "Something like that. Now come on, we'll be late for our reservations."

He takes Kurt by the hand and tugs him to the car, where he opens the passenger-side door for Kurt and lets him climb in before heading around to his own seat. Kurt's checking his hair in the mirror on the flip-down sun visor by the time Blaine's starting the car.

"Your hair looks fine," he assures him.

"Yes, well, that's what anyone would say on the first date," says Kurt. He shoots him a sidelong glare, reveling in the way Blaine sputters a little, and then they're driving off, and Blaine's telling him about the little Thai diner where the reservations are, and how they make like seven different kinds of curry, and it's all basically to die for.


But see, the problem is, it doesn't get much better as the date goes on.

They sit across from each other at this tiny table in the restaurant and every so often Kurt can feel their knees knocking together under the table. The material of Blaine's slacks is pretty thin and his own jeans are so tight that they're practically skin-to-skin, and combined with the way Blaine keeps having to drop his mouth open or suck on the straw to his ice-water-with-lemon like it's a freaking lifeline because of how spicy his food is, Kurt is kind of resenting this whole start-from-the-beginning thing, no matter how romantic it is.

(But then Blaine will laugh with the utmost sincerity at some joke Kurt makes, or clasp Kurt's hand across the table when he gets really excited about some story he's telling, or just kind of...look at him, all half-smiles and deep soulful eyes, and Kurt thinks it might not be so bad.)

(The movie theater is another story.)

Kurt hates getting so close to the screen that he has to turn his head to watch, so they sit kind of near the back, and the theater is mostly empty at a screening that's kind of late for a movie targeted at kids. Neither of them get snacks, since they just had dinner, so there's no need to tug down the adjustable armrest between their two seats except for use as an actual armrest. Which Blaine does. Which is kind of, like, infuriating. Sure, he lets their hands and forearms tangle together on the armrest, and after a while Blaine's stroking his thumb in slow, easy circles across the web of skin between Kurt's thumb and forefinger, which is pretty incredible. But Kurt has a harder and harder time paying attention to the comic perils of the animated characters on the screen when he thinks about how he could be nestled in with Blaine, hip-to-hip, nuzzled against his shoulder. And finally he gives up.

"Hey," he whispers, and Blaine shifts a little to look at him, and Kurt very carefully extracts his arm from Blaine's and raises the armrest up to its vertical position.

"Kurt – "

"Shhh," says Kurt, and at long last he snuggles closer. Blaine's hovering arm finally comes to rest across Kurt's back, hand curving around his upper arm, and Kurt smiles, and lays his hand on Blaine's thigh (Blaine's thigh, his hand is on his boyfriend's thigh), and keeps watching the movie.

The movie's feel-good ending has them strolling out of the theater laughing, and Kurt's glad it's gotten a little cooler outside since they went in because he was not looking forward to sweating any more in his sweater than he had to. Blaine's face stretched in honest laughter, his hair curling around his ears, is just a little too hot for him to handle.

"God, imagine what it must be like to do the voices for characters like that?" he says, talking wildly with his hands. "How fun would that be? But then how hard – like, you can't do any of the acting yourself, with your face or whatever, it all has to come through with your voice – geez, I've always been a better singer than an actor, that's why I just gave up."

"I don't think I could do it," says Kurt. "Have it just be my voice, I mean. If I'm going to be in a movie I'm gonna need people to see my face." He poses dramatically, trying to keep that grin on Blaine's face, and it works. "I'm too pretty to hide behind some wacky talking animal hijinks."

"You can say that again," Blaine breathes. He grabs him at the waist and Kurt tenses happily, but then he seems to realize what he's doing. "Sorry."

"Don't apologize," says Kurt, rolling his eyes. They're standing right in front of the poster for the movie they just saw, kind of mimicking the positions of the two leads, and Kurt worms out of his grasp and presses himself up against it, copying the pose entirely. Blaine laughs a little more and scrubs a hand through his hair.

"No, no, this one," says Kurt, flitting down to the next one, a stupid romantic comedy that you'd have to pay him to see. He stands right in front of Matthew McConaughey and makes the same dumb face that he's making and Blaine laughs even harder.

"Gosh, I would pay for a picture of this," he says.

A picture. Kurt's mind flashes suddenly to his little teal camera, which he's pretty sure is sitting at the bottom of his tote. "Oh, wait, hang on!" he says, and he digs around for it, turning it on and passing it to Blaine. "As long as you fully understand that this is never going on Facebook, ever, this is probably the worst face I have ever made in a picture in my life – "

"Just hold still!" says Blaine, and the flash flickers through the summer dusk. Kurt drops the face and the pose as soon as possible and then reaches out for the camera again.

"Okay, you next," he says, gesturing to the next poster down the line. There's three in a row, actually, all for the last Harry Potter film that's coming out next month. Blaine looks them over before selecting the one of Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, holding up an imaginary wand and fixing Kurt with a withering stare.

"You are too good at that," says Kurt, and he snaps the photo.

"You expected anything less?" says Blaine in a pretty atrocious British accent, and then he reaches out for Kurt, tugging him closer. Way closer. Closer than Blaine's let them get all night. Kurt can't help it – his gaze flickers faintly to Blaine's lips, breath huffing out a little too fast from the sudden movement and all the laughter.

"So," he says, "are you the kind of guy that kisses on the first date?"

"...No," says Blaine, and Kurt groans.

"Come on."

"You come on, just let me finish my sentence!" says Blaine. He starts over – "No, but I've been strongly encouraging myself to make an exception all night. I seem to remember saying something along the lines of gosh your lips look delicious back around Christmas time and my opinions haven't really changed - "

"Been thinking about me and my lips that long, hmm?" says Kurt, narrowing his eyes, running his tongue across his bottom lip just because he can.

"You have no idea," says Blaine, and then he finally, finally presses their mouths together, hot and unsteady and absolutely amazing. All first kisses should be like this, Kurt thinks. They should all involve a perfectly charming boyfriend burying his hands into the back of your sweater, rocking up ever-so-slightly on his tiptoes to get at the best angle, while you cling low, low across his waist and try not to forget how to breathe. Blaine's tongue slips lightly across his lips and Kurt doesn't even think about it, he just opens up to let it in, and geez, how long has he been waiting for Blaine's tongue to just be in his mouth? Because this is pretty incredible. He lifts one hand up to fist into Blaine's beautiful curly hair and press their faces even tighter together, tilting his head a little more to the right so they fit better, pushing their tongues back into Blaine's mouth now, tasting absolutely every part of him, this amazing wet twist and pull and just when Kurt thinks he might start moaning softly into his boyfriend's mouth, Blaine pulls away, and presses their foreheads together instead.

"You are amazing," he says.

"Ooh, your lips are delicious," says Kurt, and Blaine swats him on the shoulder before taking his hand and walking them back to the car.


Kurt holds it together through the car ride home, and their awkward refusal to say goodbye at the front door (it was almost as bad as a long distance phone call – "you hang up first." "No you first!" oh for crying out loud), and the interesting stares his father and stepmother fix him with as he finally comes inside and up the stairs. But when he's alone in his new bedroom with the door shut and his shoes kicked off and his tote hung on the back of his chair, he finally lets it out.

He falls backward onto his bed, clutching his arms to his chest, and squeals like a little girl.

Finally. Finally! As cockblockingly frustrating as huge portions of his night were, Kurt is finally actually dating Blaine Anderson, in the almost-missing-curfew kissing-under-the-stars kind of way. It's kind of freaking amazing. He replays all the best moments of the night back over in his head, especially the glorious kiss, all smooth tongues and clutching hands, and he remembers distinctly Blaine's hip hitching toward him ever-so-slightly so he must have done something right. (He's going to go ahead and thank his impossibly tight jeans, which he worms out of along with his sweater in favor of his feather-light summer pajamas.)

He tumbles back onto his bed, on his stomach this time, to look through the pictures on his camera. There's the one of him as McConaughey. That face is truly atrocious. And then Blaine as Snape, two because the first one came out blurry, and Kurt honestly doesn't believe he could take a bad picture if he tried, no matter how silly his trying-to-be-serious face looks.

Thinking on it, Kurt's eyes dart over to the Dalton school portrait of Blaine and his snipped out Courage message he'd put under it, leftover from his locker at McKinley and now adorning the side of his bookshelf next to his desk. Kurt's always kind of liked the way it looks, been a little proud of it, even, that he'd managed to make something for himself out of something that Blaine had pretty much given to him, his empowering totem words woven together with Kurt's desperation and letters torn from a magazine or two. He ought to put it somewhere safer, preserve it –

Kurt looks back down at the camera.

He remembers a hot-pink marbled composition notebook he's got sitting empty in his stack of school supplies, that he never ended up using at school last year.

He gets a pretty fabulous idea.

Suddenly he's armed with June's Vogue and May's Glamour and some scissors and an extra strength gluestick, filtering through, finding all the best ads and articles to piece together what he wants. The last piece he has to collect up is the photos off his camera, and he loads them onto his computer, adjusting some color levels so they'll print better. On a whim he gets on Facebook to snag a couple more – there's a particularly good one of him and Blaine locked fierce in a hug at regionals, crying on each other half out of defeat when they didn't pass through and half out of just how awesome it was for Kurt to finally have a solo – and notices he has a little alert floating on the top left, from Blaine E Anderson.

It's a relationship request.

Kurt Hummel is in a relationship with Blaine Anderson.

He feels the grin on his face sweep down through his whole self, and decides maybe he will put the McConaughey picture up, after all.


Kurt slides back out from underneath the car, looks up at his dad and shakes his head. Burt sighs and turns to the poor little woman standing next to him, wringing at her hands.

"Okay, Mrs. C., I dunno what you did to this poor thing, but as soon as we figure it out we'll fix it and we'll get right back to you. Don't worry, we may not be all that prompt sometimes but we've got a one-hundred-percent success rate. You're not goin' on any big trips any time soon, are you?" She shakes her head, but she's still frowning at the car and Kurt, lying on his back on the floor. "All right then. Take care." He claps her on the shoulder, and once she's left he reaches down a hand to help Kurt up. "Geez. I thought it was just my eyesight goin'..."

"No," says Kurt, "this thing's a disaster. I'm amazed she was even able to drive it here to us."

"It's really nice havin' another pair of eyes and ears and hands around the shop, kid," says Burt, smiling at him. "I'm impressed with how quick you've caught on to some of this stuff. Thanks."

"Any time, Dad," says Kurt, as his dad heads back into the supply room. He wipes some of the grease on his hands off on the flimsy heather-grey t-shirt he wears under his coveralls, which he's worn rolled down to his waist the past few days. The summer heat is beginning to evolve to the "ridiculous" level and the shop, being open-fronted, doesn't exactly have air conditioning. Trusting that his shoulders at least are probably oil-free he rolls his head around and digs his face into his sleeve to wipe off some of the sweat, and when he looks up at the shop again two new people are there.

"Hey, Mom said to come by and make you guys come home for lun-oh, uh, hey," says Finn, as he and Blaine nearly walk into each other.

"Hello," Blaine says, all friendly smiles and curling hair. He only comes up to about the middle of Finn's chest and it's so funny that Kurt can't help but laugh a little.

"Hey now," Blaine starts, but Burt's coming back into the main workroom and suddenly the four of them are all just kind of...standing there. It's painfully awkward, and finally Kurt just has to say something.

"This is Blaine," he stammers, coming to stand next to him but careful not to lean on him for fear of wrecking his clothes (a T-shirt for some band Kurt doesn't know, deliciously snug across his chest and shoulders, goddamn; the shorts are a little less forgivable). He does slip the cleaner of his two hands into Blaine's, holding tight.

"...Yeah," says Burt, "we've met Blaine before. How's it going, kid?"

"Pretty good, sir," says Blaine, still just smiling like he hasn't a care in the world.

"Sorry for –almost like – stepping on you there, dude," says Finn, not really making things any better.

"No worries, you get used to it when you're the little guy. Not that you'd know," adds Blaine, and then too late seems to think better of it, and claps his mouth shut a little too hard.


"Wait," says Kurt, frustrated, because he's kind of been looking forward to this, "I know you've met, but I wanted to – this is my boyfriend, Blaine." They've only gone on the one true date so far, although Blaine did bring a pint of low-fat ice cream and the DVD of Dream Girls to Mercedes's place to hang out with the two of them last week, and this is kind of the big reveal. Not Blaine-this-guy-I-like but Blaine-whom-I'm-actually-dating. For real.

But Burt's deadpan expression just kind of stays in place. "Yeah, son," he says after a minute, "we know."

And Kurt would be kind of pissed if it didn't make him so damn happy.

"Whatever," says Finn, "just come home for lunch, Mom basically demands it."

"Ah," says Blaine, "I hope that – I mean, can Kurt be an exception to these demands, possibly? It's just that I was kind of hoping we could go out this afternoon. This is your morning-day in here, right?"

"Yeah," says Kurt, smiling. "That's all right, right Dad?"

"Sure, sure," he says. "Just make sure to take your phone and don't do anything stupid, you know the rules."

"Absolutely. Come on, let's get back so I can clean up real quick."

Blaine rolls his eyes. "'Real quick' for you is like a snail's pace for anyone else when it comes to getting ready. Promise you'll go fast?"

"I promise!" Blaine just laughs, and gives him a simple quick kiss on the lips.

"You've got motor oil on your forehead," he whispers, and Kurt swears softly.

By the time they get back to his house the grease on Kurt's clothes is driving him insane. It's one thing to be slimy and disgusting in the shop, where a lot of things are slimy and disgusting. It's another thing entirely to be slimy and disgusting while sitting next to your really hot boyfriend in your really hot boyfriend's really nice car. When it's 90 degrees outside. Ew.

They've barely made it in the door before Kurt is stumbling to the downstairs bathroom and shooing Blaine upstairs to his bedroom to wait for him. "It's on the left," he says, reaching down to the hem of his t-shirt to twist it off because he can't really take it any more.

"First left or second left?"

"Second!" he mumbles into his shirt, and then it's off, thank you, and then – oh. Blaine still hasn't really gone up the stairs yet. Blaine's still kind of standing there looking at Kurt and Kurt is kind of shirtless.

That's new.

"Okay," Blaine breathes, his eyes fixed to Kurt's chest in a way that makes Kurt feel seriously embarrassed and kind of awesomely powerful at the same time. He smirks a little to himself, knowing it'll go unnoticed because Blaine's gone kind of google-eyed. As a test, he shifts his stance a little, popping out one hip and leaning his torso closer in Blaine's direction, and he's rewarded with Blaine swallowing thickly. Yeah, okay, that kind of rocks.

He breaks the tension by throwing the grimy shirt right in his boyfriend's face. "Throw that in a plastic bag or something, will you? They're behind my trashcan, next to the dresser."

"Mmm, sure," says Blaine, holding the shirt a bit too fondly. He shoots Kurt a last lingering look, lips curling a little sideways into a smirk of his own, and then trots the rest of the way up the stairs.

Kurt dumps his coveralls just inside the bathroom door, along with his underwear, and then sets the shower temperature several degrees colder than he'd usually prefer.


"So which bowling alley are we going to again?" asks Kurt over his shoulder, fighting with his stuffed-full closet in search of...something. Something he doesn't quite know he's looking for but he'll know it when he sees it...

"Uh, the one downtown?"

"Which one downtown? Is it the AMC or the local place?"

"Do you have a preference?" Blaine says, mock-scathing.

Kurt surfaces and frowns at him. "The AMC has orange in their shoes and the local place has green in their shoes," he says. "I'm just trying to coordinate."

Blaine blinks at him, and then chuckles and shakes his head. "I don't know – wear blue. Won't that kind of go with either?"

Kurt tugs at the hem of his snug black undershirt and ponders. Depending on the shade of blue, Blaine could be right.

"Plus," he adds, "I like it when you wear blue...it really brings out your eyes, I think. Yeah?"

Kurt flushes. "Why, what a wonderful sappy romantic boyfriendly thing for you to say, Blaine," he says.

"I thought it sounded pretty good, yeah," says Blaine, and they exchange a grin before Kurt dives back into the closet. He knows just the thing. But now he's going to have to find that bowtie, too.

"I'll have you know," he says to Blaine in the car, half an hour and two failed hairstylings later (third time, thankfully, was the charm, because Kurt's getting kind of hungry), "I bowl pretty damn well. Just as a warning."

"Your reputation preceeds you," says Blaine. "Mercedes mentioned horror stories of bitter defeat. I told her I thought I could handle it."

"Maybe," says Kurt. "Probably not, but you know."

"Maybe you should be the good boyfriend and let me win to make me feel better."

"Right," says Kurt, shooting him a glare. "Sure."

Blaine reaches over to pat him on the knee, and his hand just kind of...stays there. Kurt flushes a little, and puts his own hand overtop, holding it in place on his thigh, and it stays that way the rest of the way to the bowling alley. They're actually pretty reluctant to separate when they get out of the car, and Blaine kind of falls back into Kurt's arms as soon as they can.

"Hi," he says, smiling brilliantly.

"Hi," says Kurt.

"I like the way this is going, I think," he says, smoothing his hand up and down the small of Kurt's back. "A lot."

"Yeah," says Kurt. "Me too."

And thinking about earlier, how they seem to be going so easily from sexual tension to friendly casual intimacy and back again, testing the waters, pushing each other's buttons, just kind of – being with each other, better than they ever could at school, when Blaine was still hesitant and Kurt was still delicate – Kurt really, really does.

Even if, as it turns out, Blaine is a really sore loser.

"Oh come on, seriously? You barely even did anything! There is no way you got a spare by just kind of rolling the ball down the lane." Blaine scowls up at the electronic scorekeeper and Kurt tries not to laugh.

"Blaine? That's kind of how you play the game. By just rolling the ball down the lane. You know that, right?"

"You're a jerk."

"You're whiny! You definitely didn't complain this much when we lost at regionals, what's your problem?"

"I don't have a problem! I just – "

"Sure, sure. Come on, crybaby, it's your turn."

"Not yet." He shoots out a vicegrip arm and yanks Kurt into his lap, where he's sitting in one of the awkward plastic seats, their half-eaten pizza and fries forgotten behind them. Kurt falls on top of him rather gracelessly but then suddenly realizes that he's sitting on his boyfriend in the middle of a bowling alley and that is kind of awesome.

"You suck," says Blaine, but he's grinning, and kind of staring at Kurt's mouth. Kurt kisses him, hard, shifting a little in his lap to get the best angle, and – to prove a point – sucks slow and tender and kind of vicious on his lower lip before pulling away.

"Maybe," says Kurt boldly.

"Kurt," groans Blaine, and it's probably meant to sound like an admonition but it comes out half-scolding and half-really turned on. At least that's what Kurt is assuming the whoa hi sexy quality in his voice indicates, and wow, if Kurt gets the chance he's probably going to do his best to bring that back, because um. Wow.

But, you know, only if he gets the chance. Because he actually really likes where they are right now, too.

"Come on," he says. "There's only like three bowls left and then we can, I don't know – "

"Go back to the arcade and play air hockey so I can actually win for once?"

Kurt grins. "Sure."

When it's over, Kurt has just broken two hundred and Blaine hasn't even broken one hundred. He glares, and sucks down the entirety of Kurt's remaining Diet Coke just for spite, but lets Kurt lead him by the hand back into the arcade area. There's only a couple of people back there, some little middle schoolers watching their friend get a frighteningly high score on Dance Dance Revolution and a large, dark-haired girl with the Ms. Pac-Man joystick in one hand and a massive Snickers bar in the other.

Hey, Kurt totally recognizes her.

"Lauren?" he says tentatively, and she doesn't turn away from the screen but she does call "Yo!" back over her shoulder a little, in his direction. He gives Blaine a face that's kind of apologetic, even though he doesn't really have much to apologize for, and heads over to her, sort of hovering at her right elbow.

"What's up?" he says.

"Trying to beat Puckerman's high score," she says between bites. "If I win he owes me homemade brownies and an actual date."

"Wow," says Kurt. Lauren and Puck's relationship has always kind of fascinated him, but he figures she's probably good for him. She can knock him down to size every once in a while. And he's never really had a problem with looks so long as the other warm body is female so maybe it'll work both ways.

"Yeah, I've been here for like three days," she says. "I'm really close, though, so don't distract me."

"Right, right," says Kurt. He's prepared to drop it and head back to Blaine, but she speaks again.

"You here with that short hottie boyfriend of yours?" she says.

"Uh, yeah," he says. "How'd you know about Blaine?"

"Facebook, duh," she answers. "Plus like Mercedes and Tina and Britt all told me too. Like I'm stupid and don't get on the internet. Where do you think I get my X-rated Twilight fanfiction fix?"

"Uhh – "

"Because let me tell you, PG-13 movies just aren't cutting it."

"Right," says Kurt, thoroughly grossed out. He looks back to Blaine for help, or something, but Blaine's bent over trying to find the air hockey puck and all Kurt sees is his ass in those shorts. Which isn't exactly, uh, helpful.

Still, something Lauren says catches his attention. "You've been hanging out with Mercedes and Brittany?"

"There was a glee girls' pool party a couple weeks ago," she says. "I wasn't invited, but I crashed it with a squirt gun full of laundry soap. Quinn's hot tub was awesome." She actually reacts to his stunned silence this time. "I'm kidding, jeez. I was totally invited. I just hate wearing swimsuits so I didn't get in."

"I didn't think you were all that into glee club," says Kurt. "That's not the impression I got when I saw you at regionals, anyway."

"Yeah," she says vaguely, and then, "Yes! Puckerman can suck my power pellet!" She holds out the last bit of her candy bar to Kurt, who takes it without thinking and holds it while she enters LEZ (oh, that's unfortunate) into the high score slot just above the one that says PUK. When she's done she takes it back from him and turns to face him properly for the first time. "I guess the retarded thing about New Directions is that it kind of sucks you in and doesn't let you go. Even though glee club is stupid, somehow I got it all twisted around backward in my head that it's actually really awesome, and now it'd just be weird not to be there. Oh hey, short hottie boyfriend!" She waves at Blaine with a chocolatey hand, and he waves awkwardly back, kind of uncertain. "See you 'round, I guess. Or not, whatever. I've got a date." She swallows the last of the Snickers and turns to duck out of the arcade, more spring in her step than Kurt has ever seen,

"Wait!" says Kurt suddenly. She stops and gives him an are you serious kind of glare. "Can you...can you take a picture of us?" He pulls the camera from the front pocket on his short-sleeved hoodie and hands it to her. "Please?"

"Uh...sure." She takes it from him, and Kurt tries not to think about how thoroughly he's going to have to clean it later, just grabs Blaine's hand and tugs them shoulder-to-shoulder. Blaine puts his arm around Kurt's back, and at the last possible second before the flash goes he presses a sharp kiss to Kurt's cheek. Kurt's sure the photo will have him looking scandalized but thoroughly amused all at once.

"Thanks," he says to her, taking the camera gingerly.

"Whatever." And Lauren heads out, for good this time, but she leaves a few things behind: the sticky Snickers wrapper (ew), her impressive high score, and some thoughts whirling in Kurt's head, even with Blaine standing right next to him.

It kind of sucks you in and doesn't let you go.

A glee girls' pool party, which he totally would have been invited to regardless of his gender this time last year.

Finn's simple We miss you, bro.

"Well that was...interesting," says Blaine, snapping him back to reality.

"That was Lauren," he answers honestly. Blaine laughs a little, and hands him an air hockey paddle. The smile on his face is pretty brilliant, and a few minutes later, when Blaine is kicking his ass and Kurt's freaking out about the nail he almost broke, he doesn't really need anything more.


There's no one there when they pull into Kurt's driveway later that afternoon. His dad is still down at the shop, and will be until six or so, and if Kurt remembers correctly Finn is down taking some test to get points back on his driver's license and Carole has to be there for that. They're doing takeout for dinner. The only car there is his.

"One of these days," he says with a frown, "I'm going to pick the date and I'm going to drive you. I feel like a girl."

"Oh, come on," says Blaine. "I like spoiling you. And you like getting spoiled and you know it, don't try to argue."

Kurt sulks a little, but it's true.

"Besides," says Blaine, and ohhhhh there's that delicious voice again from earlier, and it sends goosebumps all over Kurt's skin, "I don't think you...feel like a girl at all." The word feel is punctuated with Blaine's coarse, square hand sliding up and down his thigh, just once or twice, but it's definitely enough. Kurt is suddenly very glad no one else is home.

But when he doesn't say anything right away, Blaine pulls back. "Sorry. Was that weird? It's just weird. Because you're one of my best friends and we've been friends for such a long while now but you're also so hot – "

Kurt grabs Blaine by the back of the neck, tangling his fingers in the curls of Blaine's hair there ("It always gets a little long in the summer," he said, "since I sweat too much for the gel to stay too well but it looks better without it when it's kinda shaggy"), and kisses him. It's kind of a continuation of what happened at the bowling alley, except this time with way more reciprocation, because Blaine's less stunned-and-trying-not-to-be-horny and way more just plain horny. His hand falls back down to stroking Kurt's thigh, heavy firm pressure, up and down, and it's doing wonderful things for Kurt, to the point that he's almost worried he's not doing enough for Blaine. One slow, solid scrape of his blunt fingernails against Blaine's scalp and he is instantly proven wrong.

"Nnnguh," Blaine says oh-so-articulately into the kiss. "Jesus, Kurt."

"Are we really going to sit and make out in your car when I know for a fact my house is empty?" he says, kissing at the corners of Blaine's mouth, along his jaw, up to his ear.

"I don't know, maybe?" says Blaine. He catches Kurt's mouth with his again, kisses him deeply, then nips gently at his bottom lip, over and over, little tingles hitting him straight in the gut (and lower) every time. "It's kind of hotter this way if you ask me." He pulls back a little to look Kurt straight in the eye, and his gaze is thick and dark with lust as he leans down to scrape his teeth along Kurt's throat. "Plus then we don't really have to move."

Kurt shivers. He can't really argue with that.


It's a while before they can manage to stop kissing, and even longer before Kurt can talk himself into leaving Blaine's grasp and going up into the house. He turns back to look at Blaine as he's rummaging for his house key in his tote and sees him shift and adjust in his seat, and yeah, Kurt's pretty much there too, half-hard in his snug crop trousers, and at the same time kind of the emotional version of aroused, this deep intangible longing in the pit of his chest. No one but Blaine has ever made him feel like this, a person-to-person expansion of the tense, heartbreakingly wonderful joy he feels when he splurges on a flawless new coat or nails a note in a solo he didn't think he could reach. It's so incredible that Kurt can't put a label on it – or rather, he can, but he really probably shouldn't, because the label Kurt's starting to think goes on it is a seriously scary one when you've only just barely turned seventeen.

He goes inside and heads up the stairs, thinking he might do some yoga or something until dinner to calm down and to work off a little bit of his junk-food lunch. The house is silent except for the loud white noise of the refrigerator, and then Kurt hears Blaine finally start his car back up and pull out of the driveway, and he gives a small private grin. When he hangs his tote back over his chair Kurt's eye catches on something on his desk, a post-it note he'd been doodling on the last time he was on the phone with Blaine, just his boyfriend's name and a bunch of dopey hearts and swirls – but at the bottom edge of it is something new, something Kurt definitely didn't put there. It's a black, greasy fingerprint, from someone with much blunter fingers than himself. Blaine.

He remembers holding Blaine's hand in the auto shop, and how his left hand was definitely cleaner than his right but it still wasn't very clean at all. He must have smeared some of the oil onto Blaine, and Blaine must have gotten curious about the note, and now here it is, one whorled reminder that his boyfriend has seen him in all sorts of elements and hasn't minded at all (in fact, as he'd mentioned during their hour or so of quality time in the car, Kurt getting all greased up apparently really does it for him). It's like the shop is in his blood – and it is, really, because it's just a huge extension of his dad more than anything – and so Kurt has a piece of what's in his blood, stamped in perfect precision with something that's a part of his boyfriend's very DNA.

Yeah, that's going in the scrapbook.

He prints off the picture Lauren took of them, pressed so flush-close, and adds with it the post-it note and a couple of the tickets they won at Skee-Ball. He has to use the bathroom, he realizes – he refused to go in the disgusting public restrooms at the bowling alley, and he kind of forgot about most of his bodily urges other than the very obvious ones in the car with Blaine – so he shuts the notebook carefully, slips it back into his desk drawer, and heads down the hallway.

Kurt catches sight of himself in the mirror above the sink and is immediately drawn to a thick, dark-red splotch that Blaine has left against the milk-pale skin of his neck.



That night, Kurt has a dream.

In the dream Blaine is a vampire, and he can't go out in the sunlight or he will die. The rest of the Dalton boys are vampires, too, slinking around in the hallways of their fine academy, Wes and David and Nick and the other Warblers, or Tommy and Ricardo and the other guys that live on his floor. Even the professors are vampires.

Blaine wants to suck his blood, but he also really wants to be just a normal guy, and the way Kurt can somehow fix this is by giving him these gaudy-as-hell hot-pink wayfarer sunglasses, which Kurt would never allow anyone to wear in real life, and apparently they block the sun from Blaine and he can step out into the light of day. They go everywhere together, the ocean, the mountains, the heart of a busy bustling city. Blaine wants to sing to him but he has trouble doing it around his fangs, so it comes out a little funny, and Kurt just laughs.

But then Finn is a werewolf. And Mercedes and Tina and Santana are werewolves. And suddenly Kurt feels like he's maybe a werewolf too, and that's no good because Blaine is a vampire, and aren't they not supposed to be together or something?

But god, he wants to be with Blaine. And they fixed Blaine, look, with the sunglasses.

And Pavarotti chirps out both alike in dignity! but they're not in Verona, they really really aren't!

And Kurt kind of loves the taste of his own blood in his mouth when Blaine kisses him.

Except he doesn't, because that's gross, and that's enough to wake him up.

It's a little after three am, and Kurt groans and rolls over, digging back into his blankets and scratching at his hickey and letting the stupidity of his dream float away until he can barely remember any of it. Never again will he let Lauren Zizes say the word Twilight in his presence.


Carole smiles at him over breakfast one morning, as he's mixing his granola and pomegranate seeds into his yogurt. Carole smiles a lot, really, but it's rare that she just sits and looks at him like this, so he looks back, and says, "What?"

"You just look so happy all the time," she says, prodding her spoon aimlessly into her cereal. "Do you always get like this in the summer, is it just because you like being out of school? Or is this something new?"

Kurt can't really answer her, since he doesn't really know – his own happiness isn't something he usually make an effort to observe. Kurt has a hard enough time dealing with the emotions as they come, he can't exactly document them. "It is nice to be on vacation," he says finally.

"Mmm, I bet. Private school does kind of seem all stuffy to me." She actually takes a bite this time, though it's mostly just a big slice of banana. "But I think – I think this is coming from somewhere else. Someone else, maybe."

Kurt flushes. Yeah, okay, she's probably right.

"It's so wonderful to have someone that loves you, isn't it?"

"I – " And Kurt stammers, because they haven't really. That word. It's just not. "I've got Dad, and you, and Finn too I guess," he says, though his argument is faint.

"Yeah, but you know what I mean," says Carole. Her face is bright and a little wistful, and Kurt realizes just how much she probably does understand – about not having someone like that, and then suddenly having them, there for you, caring with all they've got.

(And okay wow, he totally just compared his boyfriend to his dad, and it's a little too early in the morning for that.)

He takes a big bite of his yogurt and tries not to think about it too much, but that's really kind of hard. He's still thinking about it, even as he suits up to head to the shop (in his blue slob shirt, his grey one must still be in the wash), even as he digs around in Mrs. Crescitelli's engine with his dad, even as they sit and eat the sandwiches that Carole sent along with them for lunch. He thinks about Blaine, and he thinks about being happy, and yeah, Kurt thinks about love.


"And between the two of you I expect this house to not be razed to the ground when we get back, you hear?"

"Yes, Dad, okay – "

"'Cause we just got this house!"

"Burt, it's gonna be fine, now go or you're gonna miss your flight." Finn shoots Kurt a look that Kurt returns with his own version of the same face and they finally, finally force their parents into the car and get them on the road to the airport. Kurt especially is smiling as they drive away: after months and months of saving, they've finally been able to get back what they lost paying for his Dalton tuition, and they're going on their honeymoon whether they like it or not.

Having the house to themselves until Monday afternoon? That's just a perk.

"This is like the worst weekend for the house to be empty, though," says Finn with a sigh. "Rachel's extended family is all in town for some picnic for her dads' anniversary and she said she has to stay there to run crowd control or her grandmothers are gonna kill each other."

"Yeesh," says Kurt, as they head back inside. "Well, if it makes you feel any better, I don't really have any big plans either. Some swingin' bachelors we are."

Finn laughs a little, probably at the image of Kurt as a swingin' bachelor because he catches himself a moment later and stops. "Yeah," he says. "You wanna...make some nachos?"


Kurt's being truthful – there are no big plans. He's already seen the new Harry Potter (not that he'd had to, really – Blaine called him at four in the morning after going to the midnight showing at the theater where David's girlfriend works and told him everything) and without his dad around the shop is closed. It's that sick, annoying pit of summer where suddenly everything that's awesome about summer – no school, going swimming, loads of free time to do whatever – is starting to stagnate in the sweltering heat and motionless air. There's no way they can throw a party because Carole will notice something out-of-place in an instant and Burt will rain down on them like the lightning bolts of Zeus. Kurt thinks the most exciting thing he'll probably do while his parents are gone is redecorate his room free from their annoyance at his music being played too loud.

Kurt chops up some green onion to put on the nachos and he and Finn just kind of talk about stuff. Someone brings up the Spider-Man musical, which they never have a problem laughing at; Kurt's always amazed that they managed to make Spider-Man a musical, and Finn's always amazed that they managed to make Spider-Man a musical. Kurt still kind of wants to see it just to goggle over how absurd the whole thing is. Finn's just glad the show they saw when they went to nationals was the one Rachel wanted to see or they'd never have heard the end of it.

When the nachos are ready they decide maybe they'll watch a movie, the quintessential low-key Friday evening. Kurt's flipping through all their DVDs trying to find something he and Finn can mostly agree on when Finn turns on the TV. From the sounds of it Carole left it on the local news station.

" – but on a happier note, who doesn't love a good whirligig ride? Setting up camp in the West Lima Shopping Mall parking lot is the Cross-Country Funwagon, kind of like a little miniature traveling carnival that's now making its third annual appearance in the area. Their official bill says there will be funnel cakes, games with prizes and several fully-functional rides including a carousel. The Cross-Country Funwagon opens officially for business on Sunday, so load up your car with the little ones and have some good old-fashioned fun. Regular mall patrons should just remember that their standard parking options will be limited for the next three weeks."

"Gosh," says Finn, as Kurt slips in Sherlock Holmes, "doesn't it make you kind of wish you were a little kid again? I almost want to go with Rachel but I know she's terrified of clowns."

Kurt, meanwhile, has a smile on his face and a little light burning inside his chest.

Maybe he does have plans this weekend.


Kurt spends Sunday morning sending cryptic texts that he knows Blaine won't get until later because he's in church, and Sunday afternoon fighting with his GPS until it gets him where he needs to go. The end result is Kurt and his Navigator sitting in front of a nice, stylish house, not enormous but bigger than his even when he knows Blaine is an only child, and trying to work up the courage to ring the doorbell. Then he thinks the word Courage, and laughs, and wonders what he's so afraid of.

The woman who answers the door is petite and ethnic and very well put-together. Kurt doesn't know what to make of her for a split-second, because he was definitely expecting Blaine's parents, but then he notices – the very specific way she carries herself, especially about the arms and shoulders, the dark curl to her hair, her eyebrows – and it all clicks into place, if somewhat unexpectedly. "Hello, Mrs. Anderson? Um, Blaine's home, right?"

"It's Mrs. Taylor," she says, voice unreadable. "I'm remarried. And who are you?"

"Kurt Hummel, ma'am," he says, resisting the heavy temptation to duck his head down and put his hands in his pockets. For someone who can't be more than five-foot-two she's extraordinarily intimidating. "I'm, ah – I mean – Blaine's my boyfriend."

"I see," she says. "One moment." She clacks on her heels back inside, leaving the door cracked just slightly open, and Kurt can hear her calling for Blaine back into the house but before they return a tall, thin man with greying hair opens the door to look at him.

"Hello, sir, are you Mr. Taylor?"

"Yes," he says. "And you are?"

Kurt's getting a little irritated, but he feels like it would be the worst idea in the world right now to be anything less than completely polite, so he opens his mouth to introduce himself yet again when suddenly Blaine's mother is back.

"This is Kurt, he's a friend of Blaine's." She opens the door wider so she and her husband can both stand there, and Kurt finally catches sight of Blaine, sort of hovering behind them and looking absolutely miserable (well, to Kurt he looks miserable – Kurt supposes to a regular person he'd look all right, but this is someone whose every emotion and expression he practically has memorized). Kurt also doesn't miss how Mrs. Taylor has demoted him from significant other to just-a-friend in a matter of seconds.

"Oh, from school?" says Mr. Taylor, and he seems to be addressing Blaine but he's still looking right at Kurt, studying him up and down.

"Yes," says Blaine. "Kurt's in the Warblers with me. He had a solo at our regionals competition, do you remember?"

"Oh, yes," he says. "You have a very – distinct voice. It's hard to forget."

"Thank you, sir," says Kurt, even though he's pretty sure it wasn't meant to be a compliment.

"I suppose you're going out now then, Blaine?" says his mother, shooting him a glance.

"Yes," he says, "if that's all right."

"Very well," she says. "I hope you and your friend have fun." She steps aside just barely enough for Blaine to squeeze past her and he joins Kurt on the porch, very deliberately slipping their hands together and gripping Kurt as tight as he can. His parents definitely see it, but if they have any reaction to it, they keep it altogether hidden. And then the door is closed.

They cross back to Kurt's car in silence, which gives Kurt a chance to take in all of Blaine's insanely good-looking ensemble for the evening (a red button-up shirt, pre-distressed so that parts of it look almost pink, long sleeves rolled to the elbows and the collar left unbuttoned a little so Kurt can see a slim exposed triangle of his chest; nice dress-cut shorts, and he's even got a belt on, good for him) but also a chance to think about how horribly that interaction just went. He can't collect his thoughts well enough to say something until they're in the car, and even then he just kind of blurts it out.

"Why didn't you ever tell me your parents were so...awful?" he says, and if he's a little rude, well, they were a little rude to him too.

"Why do you think I always wanted to pick you up at your house?" says Blaine, sounding nothing but miserably defeated. "Why do you think I like boarding school so much?"

"Are they...always like this?" says Kurt. He hasn't even started the car yet.

"They're not so bad," Blaine says. "They don't really care what I do, they just – they just pretend it doesn't exist." Kurt doesn't have to ask what it is. "It's easier for them this way, is all. It's better than if they were hateful and nasty about it. Look, can we just go?"

"Sure," says Kurt, "sure."

But before he pulls out of the driveway, he leans across the front seat and gives Blaine a kiss, long and slow and impossibly deep. He tries to make it feel like an apology, not for anything that's been done but for the sheer fact that he's got such wonderful parents and Blaine just doesn't, and when Blaine is smiling when he pulls back, Kurt's pretty sure he's succeeded.

"You look amazing tonight, by the way," says Kurt. "I couldn't have dressed you better."

"Wow," says Blaine, sticking out his tongue. "You look – pretty incredible yourself. This is more of you than I usually get to see." He slides his hand up and down Kurt's bare upper arm, the edge of his finger skimming against Kurt's shoulder and the three or four multi-colored straps of his layered tank tops. Kurt flushes a little at the contact and keeps driving.

"So where exactly is it that we're going?" says Blaine after a little while. "It looks like we're heading all the way back to Lima, I could have just met you there."

"Nope," says Kurt. "I wanted to do this. You are my date tonight, not the other way around."

"I don't see how that's any different, but okay."

But Kurt's still kind of smiling about it. Because especially after what just happened, he's pretty sure that Blaine needs nothing more right now than to just be a happy, carefree little kid again.

The sun has gone down by the time they finally make it there, and it makes things even more wonderful, the bright garish neon lights illuminating everything, including the smile on Blaine's face. "I was wondering why you asked if I was afraid of clowns."

"It's basically the stupidest fear I've ever heard of, you would have lost a lot of points if you actually were," says Kurt. "You should only ever be afraid of clowns if they're coming at you with butcher knives, and really, I'd be scared of anyone coming at me with a butcher knife."

"Touché," says Blaine. Then he takes a deep breath in through his nose, and pivots immediately to the left. "Do I smell funnel cake?"

They wander down the big lane between the snacks and game booths and the side with all the rides until they find the funnel cake stand. Kurt pays for one for them to split, refusing Blaine's money, and they order it covered in powdered sugar with syrupy strawberries piled onto Blaine's half. He makes a show of eating it in the filthiest way possible, a drop of sticky red leaking slow down his lips, so Kurt twists off a strand of his own and slips it all the way into his mouth without biting it, even catching his fingertips against his mouth a little. Blaine's eyes go wide and then he takes the last little bit and shoves it in Kurt's face. Kurt leans in to kiss him and Blaine gets powdered sugar on his nose; Kurt kind of wants to leave it there, but he also really wants to lick it off, so he does.

They find a booth where the prizes are these weird lizard things that Kurt knows Tina collects, so they blow an obscene amount of money trying to win one by sinking a too-small basketball into a too-small hoop. They have to make three shots total to win something. Blaine finally manages one, and then Kurt, humming little strains of Beyonce to himself in his head, makes two more. "I don't think she has the black and orange one yet, can we get that, please?" he tells the man working there, and he hands it to Kurt, but Kurt makes Blaine carry it because it clashes too much with his outfit.

"You are something else," says Blaine, shaking his head.

"Naturally," says Kurt.

They make it a mission to go on every ride, except for that weird thing with the harnesses and the bungee cords ("Jumping around on mattresses in a commercial was enough for me, thanks," says Kurt, steering them away). It's late, and most of the stuff is really built for younger kids, so they're slowly but surely becoming the only people there. By the time they get on the carousel, they're alone.

Blaine sits on a white horse with a glittery red saddle, shifting around a little to try to get comfortable on a seat designed for someone half his age. Kurt sits behind him on a grey one, the saddle bright blue, the paint on its eyes kind of flaking off. High quality this place is not. Slowly but surely the ride spins to life, and Kurt can see Blaine's smile in his reflection off the mirrored center column. He's laughing, and Kurt laughs too.

About halfway through the ride Blaine shifts and turns around backward on the saddle to look at him. "This is so awesome," he says. "I'm getting a plastic-horse-induced wedgie and I'm still having the time of my life."

"TMI," Kurt says with a melodramatic groan, but he smiles back at him. "But yeah. It's pretty great."

"You're pretty great," he says to Kurt. "You look – god, I can't even – man." His eyes are shining with the bright yellows and greens of the carnival, and they suddenly look impossibly deep, like Kurt could fall right into them, or maybe like he already has. "Hey, gimme your camera, I know you've got it."

"No, wait, you first!" says Kurt. He digs into his pockets and pulls his camera out, and takes a picture of Blaine, clinging to the central post of the carousel horse to make sure he doesn't fall off, slim solid arms clenched tight, hair as wild and curly as ever, his whole face just kind of glowing. It's beautiful. Then he reaches out across the divide between them and hands the camera off, and Blaine jokes like he's about to drop it but totally has a grip on it. Kurt leans forward onto the little handlebars sticking out from the sides of his horse's face and smiles up at Blaine through his bangs, and Blaine keeps staring at him long after the flash has gone off. Kurt feels for a moment like there's an actual tangible string of emotion, hope and astonishment and that stupid L-word, stretching between Blaine's eyes and his. It's a moment he could probably hang onto forever, just like this. Everything is right.

But when they're on the back of the circle away from the ride attendant, Blaine does something you're definitely not supposed to do, and gets up off his horse while the ride is still in motion. Like a sailor searching for his sea legs, he wobbles toward Kurt, and then climbs onto the horse behind him, hitched up a little because he has to sit partially on its molded-solid tail because there's not enough room. It puts him at just the right height to press soft, hungry-hot kisses all across the back of Kurt's neck. A little noise leaves Kurt's lips before he can help himself and his whole body shivers.

"You are so hot right now, you know that?" Blaine whispers in his ear. He slides forward a little into Kurt, till his chest is flush to Kurt's back, and leans his arms around to brace against Kurt's own as his hands curl over Kurt's on the horse handlebars. His arms are a little bit too short to parallel Kurt's exactly and it only means he has to shift even closer with his chin and chest and hips. "Your skin just kind of glowing in all these neon lights...I can't handle it."

Blaine rolls his hips just once against the spot where they sit just below the small of Kurt's back and Kurt feels him ohmigod, Blaine is hard behind him, and he threads his fingers up through Blaine's and clenches to them as tight as he can.

"Can I tell you a secret?" says Blaine in that voice, low and hot right on his skin, as the ride starts to slow to its finish. "I've kind of wanted to do this..." He thrusts forward against Kurt a couple more times, and Kurt genuinely has to struggle to catch his breath. "Kind of since you first transferred to Dalton. You have no idea."

Kurt does have an idea, actually. Kurt's been kind of on the same page since even before he transferred to Dalton, smitten evolving into crushing evolving into quality time with his own hand in the shower. And since they started dating it's only gotten worse, obviously, with Blaine trying to be Mr. Perfect Gentleman Who Does This The Right Way when Kurt has just wanted to jump his bones since the very first time they kissed. And now here, tonight, when Kurt was finally okay to just be on a date with him, smiling and laughing, as innocent as children, this is when Blaine decides to climb behind him on a horse meant for one much smaller person and roll his hard cock against Kurt's ass.

And that is pretty funny, so Kurt starts to laugh.

"Hey," Blaine protests faintly, but the ride has stopped and Kurt just slides out from under him and climbs off the horse and then kisses him, hot and wet and thick and right at this really perfect sexy angle because the horse has stopped high enough that Kurt has to lean up to Blaine's mouth, for once. He slips his hand into the back pocket of Blaine's shorts and keeps the other trapped in his thick dark hair, and doesn't let up until the ride attendant kind of coughs awkwardly at them. And then he just laughs some more.

"Blaine," he says very deliberately, trying and almost succeeding to keep his voice steady as they just sort of breathe against each other. "My parents are out of town tonight, and won't be back until tomorrow afternoon."

They bustle past the girl working the ride, all bright and innocent smiles, and get to Kurt's car as fast as they possibly can, holding hands and stealing grasps of each other's skin.


Kurt can't help himself –as soon as it's in park in his driveway and he and Blaine have managed to scramble out, he grabs his boyfriend hard by the collar of his shirt and shoves him against the side of his car and kisses him breathless. Frankly, he's pretty glad he's a regular shopper, or he wouldn't have been able to go on enough autopilot to get them from the mall to his house in the first place. Blaine's hands instantly curve around his ass and he grinds their hips together, deep, delicious, while Kurt slips his thumb back and forth across the slim spot of skin exposed at Blaine's collar and gets his tongue as far into Blaine's mouth as it'll go, and then some. A little thread of saliva still stretches between their lips when they pull apart and Kurt laughs a little awkwardly and wipes it away.

"Okay, I think Finn's here," he says. "So just – give me a minute to get him – not here."

"Can't he just, I don't know, stay downstairs or something – "

"He's going to know, and that's going to weird him out," says Kurt. "It's easier if he's just – oh just give me a second."

Kurt heads up to the door and, plan only kind of half-formulated in his head, rings his own doorbell. Finn answers, of course, but he makes kind of a face when he realizes it's just Kurt and Blaine.

"Did you forget your key or something?" he says.

"No," says Kurt, standing kind of close to the potted plant, holding his tote around the front of his hips instead of off to the side. "I – look, Finn, you remember when you broke up with Rachel for like the eighth time and I was almost-kind of-not really about to date Dylan and we both decided that there was no way either of us was ever going to manage to get any if – "

"If the other person was in the house, yeah," says Finn. "Um, and actually that was only the third time I broke up with Rachel, okay – "

"I don't care if you're keeping count, Finn!" snaps Kurt, fidgeting with the strap on his bag. "Can you just get out?"

Kurt sees it, the moment the realization lands on Finn's face – his eyes flick to Blaine, then down lower on Kurt's body than normal, and he snatches his car keys from the rack just inside the door. "I'm gonna go to Puck's I think," he says a little too loudly.

"Good idea." Finn shoulders past him, wary of making bodily contact, and heads out to the street where his car is parked. By the time his engine is roaring to life, Blaine has made it up the stoop and into the house and has Kurt pinned to the back of the door, his mouth all over Kurt's throat until Kurt is making noises that are kind of embarrassing.

"Stairs, Blaine," he says. "Stairs and then my bedroom, please."

"Second door on the left," says Blaine with a grin, and they grab and tease and fumble their way to Kurt's room, shutting the door and locking it behind them even though no one else is around. Somehow Kurt is on his back on his bed, propped up on his elbows, looking up at Blaine who's standing just off to the side looking down at him like a man starved and wow okay they are about to have sex. That's. Wow.

Blaine must notice him freezing up, and he comes to sit next to him on the bed, hip-to-hip. "Relax, okay?" he says. "It's your number one, I know, but it's only my number two. I want this," he assures him, with a long sucking kiss up under his jaw, "and you want this," and the kiss travels down to the dip of his collarbone, "and everything is going to be amazing. Trust me."

And that's what seals it for Kurt, because Kurt does trust him. Kurt has come to realize in the past couple of hot summer months that he pretty much trusts Blaine with his life. He curves his hand soft and slow around the back of Blaine's neck, and tugs him till he's on top of Kurt, one knee pressing into the mattress high on either side of Kurt's left thigh. They kiss languidly, a beautiful sweet tangle of lips and tongues and hot funnel-cake breath, their mouths sliding together in time with the slow roll of their hips against one another. Every point of contact Kurt has with Blaine kind of feels like it's on fire, but in a good way. He's torn between wanting to do this forever and really, really wanting to have sex with him.

As if he's reading Kurt's mind, Blaine slides up, sitting back on his heels, and starts to unbutton his shirt. That won't do.

"No, me," says Kurt, and he lifts his arms up to do it for him, tugging the bottom edge out of the waistband of his shorts, starting at the top and undoing each button neatly and precisely, staring open-mouthed at Blaine's skin as more and more of it becomes accessible. When it's down far enough that Kurt can easily push the fabric aside and reach Blaine's nipple, he does, craning his neck up to latch his lips against it and tease it with his tongue. Blaine sighs and clutches his head closer, and Kurt snags it in his teeth. Yeah, this was a pretty good idea.

He files that away for later and finishes taking off Blaine's shirt, sliding it down off his (mmm, yeah, thicker and stronger than they look with his clothes on) shoulders, and then shifting a little underneath Blaine so he can half-sit up propped on his pillows, wanting better access. It's the first time he's really had a boy at his disposal like this, so much bare skin, and Kurt kind of wants to just touch him all over. So he does, skimming fingers across his hard arms and shoulders, smoothing across the solid plane of his back, nuzzling into the faint dark hair across the top of his chest – hell yes, thinks Kurt, this is why he's gay, because boys are amazing.

Blaine's tugging on the bottom hem of his own layers now, and Kurt reluctantly lifts his hands away from Blaine's skin to hold his arms over his head so Blaine can twist them all off, the white one, the blue one, the bright yellow one all the way underneath. With his own chest exposed Kurt feels too too much like a little boy, his skin pale and smooth and hairless, only the leanest of muscle underneath, but Blaine just breathes out a huge gasping sigh, and presses his mouth to the center of Kurt's chest, and holds him there, just tasting, for longer than Kurt thought was possible.

"Blaine," says Kurt, clutching at his shoulders, and he feels Blaine's hot breath laughing against his skin, as Blaine presses him back horizontal again, and kisses down further and further and further until suddenly his tongue is swirling in Kurt's bellybutton (and wow, that should be kind of awkward but it feels pretty incredible) and his chin is bumping up against the waistband of Kurt's jeans. Oh. Oh that's where this is going.

"Can I?" says Blaine softly, his hands hovering at either side of Kurt's fly.

And Kurt can't help himself. "I don't know, can you?" he says, crooking one eyebrow upward. The soft longing in Blaine's eyes quickly fires up to a bright fierce light, and he's unbuttoning and unzipping Kurt's pants before Kurt knows it, letting out his hard erection still kind of trapped in his dark red boxer briefs. Blaine nuzzles his cheek against it for a second or two before licking a bold, solid stripe against it, through the fabric.

"Oh," breathes Kurt, his whole body kind of spasming forward, and Blaine does it again, and again, until Kurt can't do anything but tremble against him and his underwear is pretty much soaked. Then Blaine's hands are on his hips, a wordless request, and Kurt shifts up away from the mattress so Blaine can tug his jeans and underwear down off the curve of his ass, and then pull everything further down in the front, to expose Kurt's cock to the open air, and to his hot gaze and hotter tongue.

"It's good, right?" he asks, breathing against the crease between Kurt's hip and thigh.

"It's so good, please, Blaine just get on with itohmygod." Blaine's got laughter in his eyes as he slips his lips down over Kurt's cock, his whole mouth soft but pressing firmly as he swallows Kurt down, inching closer and closer to the small thatch of Kurt's hair, nothing but wet heat and swirling tongue and how, how can he get that much in there?

Soon most of what Kurt can see is the messy mop of Blaine's hair, and he can't help but sink his hands down into it, shifting Blaine's head against him as he sucks and bobs, encouraging him in the right direction when he does something particularly mindblowing. Blaine's tongue catches right up under the ridge of the head, sliding back and forth, teasing perfect, and it's so amazingly good it kind of makes Kurt want to cry. Nothing in his life has every been this hot. Kurt rakes his nails all through Blaine's hair across his scalp, scraping at the roots, and soon Blaine's humming out distant little moans straight against Kurt's erection and the sounds rumble up through him in ways he didn't think were possible and that is it, Kurt comes hard down Blaine's throat with a yelp and a full-body spasm, hands tensing into Blaine's hair as Blaine swallows most of it but loses a little bit out through his lips on Kurt's softening shaft as he pulls away, making just enough of a mess that Kurt thinks distantly that he'll be upset when this is all over. Instead, he's finding it pretty hard to be upset about anything, when they both sit up and Blaine slides up to kiss him and Kurt can taste his own come in another boy's mouth. Shouldn't be hot. But it is.

"What about you," says Kurt between hungry soft fleeting kisses, "I can – I want – "

"Will you just touch me?" says Blaine, shifting his hips toward Kurt's hand where it sits between them. "I don't want you to do anything you're not – "

"I am, though," says Kurt. "I'm just as much of a teenage boy as you are."

"Touch me," says Blaine against his neck, "please." His voice is weak and broken with lust, and it thrills hard in Kurt's blood. Well, if he puts it that way.

Together they unfasten Blaine's belt and tug off his shorts and his underwear, and Kurt's stuff too, until they're totally naked against each other and Kurt can feel Blaine's too-hot skin absolutely everywhere. He curves his hand loose around Blaine's cock, shifting up and down, and then curling tighter as he figures out what Blaine likes, swiping his thumb across the leaking head every third pass or so, and kissing him everywhere he can reach. He sucks hard on Blaine's nipple again and has to struggle not to grin when Blaine shouts out his name. (A boy is shouting my name.)

He keeps his hand firm around Blaine's cock but drags his mouth lower, lower, licking up the trail of hair below his navel the wrong way so Blaine squirms, and then bending down just far enough to taste him, precome smearing across his lips, tongue darting out tentatively, his hand still stroking the rest of Blaine as he adjusts to the taste (and oh, Kurt could get used to this). Blaine's only warning that he's close is a tight squeeze to Kurt's shoulder and another breathy cry of his name, and Kurt shifts quickly back up to shove his tongue in Blaine's mouth and twists his wrist just so and swallows up all Blaine's moans as he shoots off, come all over Kurt's hand and his own stomach and thighs. They keep kissing as Blaine comes down from it, mouths pressing slower and slower as he runs out of steam, and then they pull apart and Blaine rests his forehead against Kurt's and they are both, for some reason, grinning like idiots.

"Okay, that rocked," says Blaine, stroking at the back of Kurt's hair.

"Pretty much," says Kurt. "Sex. Wow."


They have a hard time not just touching each other, but eventually they have to get up, and Kurt swaps out the comforter they just made a mess on for a clean one he has stashed under his bed. Blaine gets them a damp towel from the bathroom to wipe themselves up with, and when they're clean and lying next to one another Kurt just kind of studies on him, naked and flush-faced and absolutely gorgeous. He's trying to figure out what he did to get such a perfect boyfriend.

"Geez," says Blaine, "what the hell did I do to get such a perfect boyfriend?"

Oh. Well maybe it's that.

"Stay the night," Kurt says suddenly, almost without thinking about it.

Blaine makes a sort of face at him. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," says Kurt, because wow, he kind of is. "My parents won't be back, and you said yourself your folks don't care what you do. I want you to sleep beside me. I – "

Say it, Kurt. Just say it. You both know it's true.

"I love you."

Blaine's whole body just kind of goes limp. The smile on his face is the widest and most sincere Kurt has ever seen, and suddenly Blaine is kissing him soft and passionate right on the lips, huddling closer to him on the bed and humming softly against his mouth.

"I love you so much, Kurt," he says when they pull apart. "Of course I'll stay."

So they throw on some pajama pants, for Finn's sake, and crawl under the covers together. Blaine nestles down in against Kurt's chest and Kurt wraps his arms around him, breathing in the soft smell of his wild hair. And they fall asleep, just like that.


If the sunlight dipping into his room is anything to go by, it's already pretty late in the morning by the time Kurt stirs awake the next day. He closes his eyes against it and rolls his face into his pillow, letting his mind and his body remember everything about the night before, and a slow easy smile stretches across his face. He reaches his arm out to the other side of the bed for Blaine and gets a good handful of –

Nothing. Blaine isn't there.

"Are you kidding me?" he groans, forcing himself to sit up, limbs heavy and eyelids heavier as he blinks around his bedroom. But suddenly, there he is, buttoning his shirt back up and trying to be as silent as possible, and when he realizes Kurt's awake he crosses over and presses a sloppy kiss to his temple.

"Hey, ssshhh, sorry," he says. "But I think I'd better go."

"You were just gonna leave?" snaps Kurt, pretty pissed off about it.

"Of course not," he says, "I was writing you a note and I was gonna text you too. I just – I'm not feeling so fresh after last night and I have kind of a thing about using other people's showers. Plus you said your parents would be here this afternoon and it's already almost afternoon – "

"Mmm, but I want you to stay," Kurt says, well aware that he's whining, and he throws his arms around Blaine's waist.

Blaine laughs a little. "I want to stay, too, but this isn't the time for that. Go back to sleep. Love you."

Kurt's skin tingles happily with that. "Love you too."

"Gosh," says Blaine, "I can't believe it's August already. Summer goes by fast, doesn't it?"

"I wish it could last forever," says Kurt, face buried in Blaine's stomach.

"Nah, it's fine for a while but not forever," says Blaine. "It's too hot. And don't you miss Dalton? And the Warblers?"

"Who needs Dalton, I've got you," says Kurt.

That declaration hits them both a little funny, and Kurt leans back to look Blaine in the eye. But the moment passes almost as quickly as it's begun, and Blaine ruffles his already sleep-mussed hair and then slips his shoes back on.

"I'll call later, okay? There's only a week or so until I get dragged on our annual family vacation, we should make the most of it."

"Okay," says Kurt, yawning.

Blaine kisses him hard, then, even though they've both got hideous morning breath, and then he tells him he loves him again, and slips out his door and down the stairs.

He reappears two minutes later. Kurt tries not to sound too smug.

"You forgot we came in my car, didn't you."



When his parents get home Kurt is in the middle of compulsively redecorating. He had planned to redo his room, of course. He wants to move the bed so the sunlight doesn't hit him right in the face on clear mornings, and try to make it a little easier to open the closet doors. But he's also definitely washing his sheets. And maybe kind of freaking out a little. Because he can't get it out of his head that somehow his father is going to take one look at him and just know.

He's so glad no one has mindreading powers in his house. His brain is stuck on a constant stream of I had sex. I totally had sex. It was amazing. But I had sex. With my boyfriend. In this house.

So yeah, it's stressing him out a little.

He's really glad to see his dad, though. His cheeks and the top of his head are bright red with sunburn and he looks amazingly happy. The change of environment seems to have refreshed his health a little, too, and he breathes a little easier when his dad engulfs him in a big hug, murmuring "I missed you, kiddo" into his hair, showing no signs of having seen flashing neon lights that scream NOT A VIRGIN ANY MORE floating over his son's head. That, and his sheets finishing in the laundry, and Finn's unexpected skill at being casually mum about the whole thing, leave him pretty reassured.

For a few days, then, it becomes like this awesome little secret, that he can hold down near to his heart and cherish and think about whenever anything sets him on edge. It's like the world's most intimate of inside jokes, just between Kurt and his super-hot boyfriend, and nobody can take it away from him. The thrill of the secret can only carry him through those few days, though, and despite knowing that it's the biggest mistake, because telling his best friend is pretty much equivalent to telling the whole world, Kurt finally has to text Mercedes. He uses the very elaborate secret code they established freshman year for precisely this occasion, no matter who lost it first:

I. Did. It.

He barely has time to slide his phone back into his pocket before it's buzzing like crazy. OHMYGODD! reads the first one, and then immediately after, u need to tell me E-VER-Y-THIN. in person. smoothy smoothies in a half hr?

Kurt checks himself in his vanity mirror. Half an hour might be pushing it. Still haven't done my hair to go out today. Order for me if you get there first? Lowfat guava-peach? He runs a hand through his bangs, trying to get them to sit right, thoughts racing in his head, and then sends off another text. Actually, screw it. I'll wear a hat. See you soon! :)

The pinstripes on his new newsboy don't quite match the ones on his shorts, but this is serious BFF business he's attending to, and time is of the essence. Besides, he spent last Sunday night having seriously awesome sexual relations with his seriously amazing boyfriend. He's got no one to impress.

Smoothy-Smoothies is possibly the crappiest little place to get smoothies that exists on the planet, or at least in Lima and the surrounding areas. But they're dirt-cheap, and the cooling fan that runs in the summer is so damn loud that no one can overhear anyone else's conversations. Kurt figures that's probably a good thing, considering he's talking about oral sex.

"Wow," says Mercedes, sipping on some gross-looking chocolate and banana concoction. "Wow. And boy, I been close enough to your junk to know it's not exactly bite-sized."

"I know!" says Kurt, trying not to think too hard about that statement. "It's still kind of frighteningly awesome every time I remember that it actually happened. And I mean, we didn't...do a whole lot, like we didn't go all the way – "

"Let's go all the way tonight," sings Mercedes, with a toothy teasing grin.

"Shut up," he says. "...But it just felt so right. I couldn't have asked for it to go better. Gosh, I kind of wish I could just – take how magical it was, and give it to you for when you get your groove on. It's almost not fair."

"Don't worry, I feel like I'm gonna be pretty groove-free for a while yet," she says, frowning into the dregs of her smoothie. "There were maybe two guys left at school that were actually cute who weren't total a-holes, and I think they both graduated. Unless Parker failed back a year, and if that's the case, I'm not interested in him either."

"Ugh, seriously," says Kurt. "Wow, that's kind of weird for me to think about people we know already graduating. I mean, Wes and David graduated, but I never knew them in any context other than as seniors, you know?" And even that's weird, when he thinks about it, a Dalton without Wes tapping his pencil against his notebook, bored out of his skull in the evening tutoring lounge waiting for kids to come in needing chemistry help, or David running through the halls in nothing but a towel because someone locked him out of his room while he was in the shower, again.

"Yeah, glee is gonna be super-weird without Mike," says Mercedes. "I'm just glad he and Tina finally ended it, or I don't think I could handle her waterworks."

"Mmmm," says Kurt around his straw.

"The football team is gonna get hit the hardest, though," she continues. "Damn. They sucked already, even with our glee homeboys and Beiste, but they're losing their fastest guy and two of their biggest guys all at the same time. We better get some good new freshmen or they're totally outta luck."

Kurt stiffens, and slowly draws his mouth away from the straw to look Mercedes in the eye. He knows who the three biggest guys on McKinley's team are, and one of them is Finn. "Karofsky...graduated?"

"Yeah," she says, "hard to believe, I know. They thought he was gonna have to do twelfth grade over because of the days he missed and how his record got messed up when you got him expelled. But I guess he got his ass in gear enough to make some kinda passing grade – or maybe everyone's just anxious to get rid of him. I sure won't miss him."

"Yeah," says Kurt, his head suddenly reeling. "Me neither."


Kurt's phone says about to get on this stupid airplane. miss you already. :(

He wipes his hands thoroughly on the fresh rag in his pocket and types back I miss you too. I miss your face. :P

miss your smile says Blaine.

Miss your hair.

miss your skin

Miss your co-oh crap here comes my dad.

HEY thats not fair! buzzes Blaine, but Kurt is already tucking his phone back into his other pocket, grinning a little to himself as his dad crosses to him from the back room in the shop.

"You get those tires realigned?"

"Yeah, Dad," he says. "Ugh, was I this stupid when I first got my car?"

"Of course not," says Burt, "you learned from the best." He claps his hand against Kurt's shoulder and leaves a nice solid handprint, right overtop of three or four just like it, from the same action repeated over and over. With his other hand he gestures vaguely down at Kurt's pocket. "Who're you texting that's so important you'll do it even in here, huh?"

"Blaine," Kurt says instantly, and Burt says it right along with him, answering his own question too.

"I knew it. God I like that kid. I like what he does for you, Kurt."

"Mm-hmm," says Kurt, noncommittal.

"You two've been awful close lately."

"Yes, Dad, he's my boyfriend."

"How close?"


"I'm just sayin', anything you do, I want it to be because you want to do it, okay? I'm not gonna act like I didn't punch that V-card right around your age – "

Kurt throws his hands up to stop him. "Oh my god, Dad, why would you even – "

" – hey, hey, I just wanna hear from the source that this is all going good. I like that kid a lot, but all of that can go away in a friggin' heartbeat if I find out he's takin' advantage of you at all, you hear?"

Kurt rolls his eyes and cocks his hip. "Okay, seriously? Here we are in your macho car shop having guy bonding time and you're still gonna treat me like a little princess?"

"Kurt – "

"How come it's him you're worried about taking advantage of me, huh? What if I'm the one taking advantage? Would you be having this same conversation with Finn right now?"

"No, Kurt, because he ain't my son," says his dad, looking him hard in the eye. "That's Carole's place to do, not mine." He pauses, slowing down a little. "And I know you, Kurt," he says. "And you would never."

Kurt sighs, and realizes he's being stupid, and pulls his dad into a sort of half-hug, wary of the fact that he's about three times more grimy than Kurt is. "No advantage being taken, on anyone's part," he says. "I promise."

"All right, well good," says Burt, and he kisses him lightly on the forehead, and then the moment's over. Thankfully.

Kurt's rummaging in the toolbox at his feet when a thought kind of occurs to him. "Hey Dad, have you seen my other shop t-shirt?" he says. "I feel like I've been wearing this blue one for ages, I keep having to wash it and go right back to using it. My grey one's missing."

"No idea, kiddo," says Burt from inside the hood of Mrs. Crescitelli's poor sedan. "Ask your stepmom, she does laundry waaaay more than I do."

"Yeah," says Kurt, "okay."

The garage falls silent, except for the sounds of their tinkering, and Kurt takes a moment to text Blaine back, even though he's probably on the plane by now and won't be able to answer.

Sorry. I miss your coffee. It's so much better than what my dad makes because our machine is on the fritz.

He grins to himself. He can practically see the look on Blaine's face when he gets the message, hours from now on some layover, his expectations shattered.

But of course Blaine has to get the last laugh.

screw you. oh, wait. ;)


Most of his friends find out while Blaine's still gone. They mostly have the prudence to keep it off Facebook (although Santana leaves a message on his wall consisting of solely the totally-made-up word "wanky" and a little winky-face) but he does get a giddy phonecall from Tina, a flurry of texts from Artie that are basically high-fives represented in words, and one sweet text from Brittany wishing for his sake that Blaine tasted better than the other boys she's made out with. Puck's the worst, making some heinous comment about how many more times Kurt would have to get it on to beat his summer high score, which he hopes to all that is sacred in his world is not an allusion to his relationship with Lauren. Finn, thankfully, stays totally out of it.

"Word travels fast with you guys," Blaine says with a laugh and an amused crook of his eyebrow, over Skype three nights before he's due back in Ohio.

"Yeah, well, everything at McKinley is kind of fast-paced," says Kurt. "You just have to adjust to it. It comes almost second-nature after a while. And it's like riding a bike, you don't forget it."

"Sounds kinda crazy."

"So what are you up to?"

"Well my mom and Derrick are out with my aunt and uncle and...pretty much everyone else at this gross bar they go to every year," he says, picking at a thread on the bedspread he's laying on top of. "I'm the only one down here at the beach house who's still too young to drink, so I've just been kind of hanging out. Watching some YouTube videos, reading my summer homework book, nothing too serious."

"Sounds thrilling."

"Nah, it's nice to get a break from all the family insanity. Plus this way I get to talk to you." His face lights up with a grin that's almost too cheesy to be real, and Kurt rolls his eyes.

"Okay, I love you, but you are the biggest dork sometimes."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

"Suit yourself."

"Seriously, though, I miss you," he says, and it tugs a little at Kurt's heart. "This is weird, knowing that I can't just hop in my car and drive out to see you if I want to. I'm glad I'm coming back soon."

"I miss you too," says Kurt. He puts his hand up against the screen, wanting so badly to just touch.

"Wow, okay, now who's the dork."

"Bite me."

"I wish," says Blaine, and it's that voice back again, lower lip rolling between his teeth, and it is just not fair how Blaine can get to him like this from thousands of miles away. Kurt swallows thickly, and clicks into his iTunes, starting up a loud, heavy playlist.

"And you say you're alone in this fabulous beach house of yours?"

"Will be for a couple hours, yeah," says Blaine. "Hey, where are you going?"

"To lock the door," Kurt calls over his shoulder back toward the computer. He does, and then shifts his laptop to the foot of his bed, taking his time to sprawl out a little and tilting the screen and camera back so Blaine can see him.

Because the first song on the playlist is Lady Gaga's Teeth, and Kurt wants to show Blaine everything.


The night Blaine's flight is due back into Columbus, Kurt has another weird-as-hell dream.

Mercedes the werewolf is back, and she's chewing on something that sometimes looks like chocolate and sometimes looks like blood. Santana the werewolf is back and she snarls at him if he turns his back but keeps her mouth shut and her paws down if he's looking straight at her, like one of those annoying ghosts from Super Mario. Blaine is still a vampire, still wearing the sunglasses only this time they're bright yellow, he says he had to get a new pair while he was on vacation because his stepdad broke his old ones. Kurt's kind of upset because he gave Blaine those sunglasses. Blaine tells him not to worry about it.

Rachel Berry is there dressed like Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a stake in her hand, even though she says she's not supposed to have stakes because she's a vegan. She's going to try to kill Blaine. She won't call him Blaine, though, she keeps calling him Jesse and saying he's a demon, and Kurt says no, he's just a vampire, don't kill him and Blaine says he doesn't want to be a vampire, I just want to be a dumb human, like you!

Kurt tries to tell him that he isn't human, that he's a werewolf, but suddenly he realizes maybe he isn't a werewolf after all. And if he's just a regular human boy he isn't strong enough to overcome the Slayer and save Blaine from Rachel and she's going to take his heart, that boy is a monster, and then Rachel is Lady Gaga and please, don't hurt my boyfriend, all I want is your autograph!

If only you were still a werewolf, says Brittany. She always gives autographs to werewolves.

In the end he and Blaine just have to run.

And when Kurt wakes up, he decides he's tired of running.


Kurt's making a chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat when the doorbell rings, and before he can stop him Finn yells "I'll get it!"

"It's probably Blaine!" Kurt shouts back instead, and sure enough, his boyfriend is standing in the kitchen beside him a few moments later, rocking an amazing tan and looking somehow more gorgeous than ever. Kurt suddenly needs to be kissing him, so he does, just once or twice, and then takes a big bite out of his sandwich.

"Glad to see I'm not intruding on any kind of big fancy family dinner," says Blaine, leaning down to bite into the sandwich, too, even though it's still in Kurt's mouth. "Mmm, 'a's gud."

Kurt at least has the decency to swallow before speaking. "Yeah, Carole has her book club with her little girlfriends on Wednesdays, so it's just us guys on our own for dinner. And it is way too hot to actually cook anything." He grins a little. "Which you're not really helping with, by the by."

"Oh?" says Blaine, grinning. "Well I can try to be a little cooler if you need me to. I brought shades."

"If you wear sunglasses indoors you will be so uncool that I think my bread will toast."

"Yeah, that's fair. Speaking of what I brought, I've got something for you." He does, it turns out, have a little paper bag in his hand, and he hands it to Kurt, who sets down the sandwich and takes it from him. Inside is a big, mottled orange scallop shell, with two little feathers whisking out dramatically from the bottom, and when Kurt turns it over it turns out to be a huge lapel brooch.

"I'm kind of lousy at gift-shopping, but I thought this was reasonably beachy and still within your style boundaries. Yeah?"

"Yeah," says Kurt, "no, absolutely, this is really cool. Thanks."

"Of course, babe."

Kurt's eyes flick back to his boyfriend away from the brooch at the term of endearment; Blaine looks like he hadn't quite meant to say it, like it's just sort of slipped out. He makes a nervous, questioning face, and Kurt sets down the seashell and takes his hand instead, stroking his thumb across the back of it, until Blaine's smiling again. (Because it turns out Kurt kind of likes it.)

"But yeah, I know how much you like to dress up the school blazer, I figured the more of these things you've got the better. Variety, and all."

The mention of Dalton makes Kurt press his lips together. His hand stills against Blaine's, and that's when Blaine notices.


He takes a deep breath.

"What if I...hypothetically, what if I didn't come back to Dalton?"

"Wh-why wouldn't you?" says Blaine, looking utterly confused.

And Kurt has so many answers to that question. They range from the utterly logical – they don't really have the tuition money just lying around, Karofsky's graduated so the worst of his problems is gone, his dad really hates that he's away all the time – to the totally nonsensical – I just want to be a werewolf again. But nothing will really come out of his mouth right, so he just squeezes Blaine's hand, tighter and tighter, like his throat is constricting tighter and tighter, and oh damnit he better not cry. This is going to be hard enough as it is.

"They need me," he finally says, and his voice is small and pitiful.

Blaine takes Kurt's chin in his hand, and tilts his face up until he's looking Blaine in the eye. "But I need you," he says.

"Blaine," says Kurt, and he steps around the counter to throw himself into his boyfriend's arms, sobbing against his shoulder, clutching as tight as he can to his shirt and the warmth of his skin. Blaine strokes slow circles across his back, presses soft little nothing-kisses to his temples, and Kurt just lets it all go, Lauren and Mercedes and the football team and his vampire nightmares. He knows their love is strong enough to weather this if he goes, he knows it in his head. But to his heart it's sounding kind of awful.

"You're doing great at Dalton, you know," Blaine tells him, after they've both managed to calm down and they're sitting side by side up on the kitchen counter. "Better than anyone thought you would, I think, even me. You're quick, and smart, and the Warblers love you. Nothing but good things to come back to."

"I know," says Kurt softly, still kind of coming down from it.

"But..." Blaine trails off, and Kurt can hear it in his voice that it's hard for him to say. "But I know it doesn't always work for you. I know how loud you want to be, and how quiet Dalton makes you. I know you missed your glee friends, especially when New Directions went to nationals and we didn't. And I know you still miss them." He sighs, and bumps his shoulder into Kurt's a little. "Choice is yours, babe."

"And what would you have me do?" says Kurt, turning to look at him, really look at him. "Because you know I can't resist you, Blaine. If you ask me to stay...I will."

Slowly, and just slightly, Blaine shakes his head. "I can't do that, Kurt. You know I can't. But just...know that I want to, okay? Because I really, really do."

He kisses Kurt, slow and light, and Kurt can still kind of taste salt from where they'd both been crying, even Blaine, just a little. (He's that guy that can't help but cry if someone else is doing it.) After a while, Kurt reaches behind them and finishes eating the chicken salad sandwich, and he pours them both some cranberry-pomegranate juice, and tries to make what is possibly the hardest decision of his life.


Of course, they haven't seen each other face-to-face in over a week, and they are still Kurt and Blaine, after all, so it isn't too long before they've made it up to Kurt's bedroom and Kurt's half on top of Blaine on his bed, kissing the living daylights out of him.

"We are so good at this," Blaine murmurs against his lips. "Like, we could win medals."

"We've had a good amount of practice," says Kurt, mouthing hot across his neck and the angle of his jaw. "Mmmm, Blaine."

"You so cannot say my name like that unless this is actually going somewhere," says Blaine, pushing a little at his shoulders. "Either slow it down or lock the door."

Kurt fuses their mouths back together, sucking hot at Blaine's tongue until he's practically panting, but he winds them steadily down, and eventually climbs off and pulls back entirely, sitting upright and letting Blaine do the same, licking his lips slowly when he knows Blaine is watching. Blaine gives a sharp pinch to his side in return and he squirms.

"Ahh, hey!"

"Freaking tease," says Blaine. He sighs and falls back against the bed with a solid audible flop. "You know I like the new layout up here, it makes the whole thing more open."

"Yeah, my dad doesn't exactly have the best feng shui." Kurt's about to flop next to him but then Blaine gets up, strolling around the room, taking it all in. He runs his hand lightly over some of the stuff on top of Kurt's dresser, cautious, careful, does a cute little three-sixty in the middle of the carpet, and then makes a face over in the direction of his desk. "Hey, what's this?"

Kurt looks, and lets out a frightened gasp. "Hey," he yelps, "that's private!" Because there, sticking out of his desk drawer, not put away properly, is his hot-pink composition notebook scrapbook, and that is exactly what Blaine's reaching hand is headed for.

"Oooh, is this all your dirty little secrets?" Blaine croons, picking it up and hopping just out of Kurt's range – if he wants to get him he'll have to actually get off the bed. And by then it'll be too late, because Blaine's already flipping to the first page. Kurt groans and really does fall into the mattress this time, face-down in the pillows to spare himself the humiliation. He braces for Blaine's wry, disbelieving laughter.

He isn't ready for what actually happens. "Oh, wow, Kurt..."

When he resurfaces, Blaine is sitting next to him on the bed, staring down at the page in front of him - the original Courage locker propaganda, Blaine's photograph on one side of the binding and the letters themselves on the other, tilted at an angle so they'd actually fit – with something kind of like reverence. He flips and sees them at regionals, a copy of the program taped in on the other side, ransom-note letters spelling out Win or Lose. The next page is just the lyrics to Teenage Dream copied out in purple pen. The one after that is their first date, the movie theater pictures and Kurt's ticket stub and a big thick cut-out headline that says Superstar. Slowly but surely, Blaine pages through their life together. Here and there his hands trace against the pages, at arcade tickets or crayon doodles of hearts and stars and little yellow birds, and Kurt's pretty sure he's never blushed this hard in his life, but at least Blaine seems to like it.

The last page is lyrics again, not to a song Blaine or Kurt have ever sung anywhere near each other but to one that Kurt keeps coming back to lately, when he thinks about Dalton or Blaine's parents or this kind of amazing thing they've got going here. Blaine flips again, making sure there's nothing more, but then comes back to it. "You know this song?"

"It's on their greatest hits album," says Kurt, shrugging.

Blaine snaps the book shut and takes Kurt by the hand. "Come with me to my car for a second, okay?"

Kurt nods, a little dumbstruck, and lets Blaine lead him down the stairs and out the door, into the cooling dark of the August twilight. They stop not at the driver door to Blaine's car but at the trunk, where he clicks his keychain and pops it open to reveal the beat-up case to his guitar.

"It's been in here all summer, I haven't played much since we left school," says Blaine. "So forgive me, if I'm a bit rusty." He tunes at it for a few minutes, and Kurt stares transfixed at the casual grace of his fingers across the strings and frets, until he strums out a few chords and finds the right one and then starts. It's pitched up a couple steps from the original, and Blaine's voice slides through it better that way.

"When I was born
They looked at me and said
What a good boy
What a smart boy
What a strong boy...

He shuffles awkwardly through the necessary pronoun switch of the next part, but that's to be expected, guys like the two of them have to do it often enough. He sings afraid of change, and Kurt picks up the next line, afraid of staying the same, and the glance that passes between them says it all. By the time Blaine's singing about Kurt's brown hair, and to just bear with him, bear with me, be with me tonight, Kurt decides he doesn't mind that Blaine saw into his extraordinarily personal scrapbook diary, because this seems pretty damn personal too.

"I know that it isn't right," sings Kurt softly.

Blaine smiles, and shakes his head a little. "Be with me tonight."

They're standing in the middle of the street, fireflies are winking around in the neighboring yards, and Kurt is in love.


They stand together just outside the school's front door. Kurt smooths out the sharp collar of Blaine's shirt; Blaine reaches over and straightens Kurt's tie.

"And you're absolutely sure about this?"


Kurt grins, and they slip their hands tight together, and then Santana Lopez and Brittany Pierce bustle straight down the middle and knock them apart again.

"Come on, Burt and Ernie, you dopey muppets just gonna stand there and block the door or you gonna move so I can get to class on time?"

Kurt shakes out his arm – she hit it kind of hard – and yells back. "Since when do you care about being tardy or not, Xena and Gabrielle?"

She turns around, walking backward for a few steps, and gives him a hateful, withering look. "Aww, you been sittin' on that one all summer?" But then she links pinkies with Brittany, and the look morphs into a small little smile, and she adds, "Not bad."

"We should probably go inside," says Blaine, and he reaches out and holds the door open for Kurt, stepping in after him. They're immediately bombarded again, this time from the left.

"Heyyy, short hottie boyfriend!"

"Hello, Lauren," says Kurt.

"God, you're looking even hotter with the hair." The face she's making is getting creepier and creepier.

Blaine shoots a look between her and Kurt, and Kurt just kind of shrugs and mouths go with it. "Uhh..."

"Best jewfro ever. It's like freakishly sexy AU Jacob Ben Israel."

"Go to class, Lauren." She stalks away, making grabby monster claws in Blaine's direction. Kurt puts himself very solidly between the two of them and grabs Blaine's hand again.

"So where's your locker?"

"A-224," says Blaine, reading off a card he tugs out of the front pocket of his shirt. "Wherever that is."

"Ugh, that's so far away from mine," Kurt whines.

"Did you really get your same locker back?"

"Hey, that locker and my face have had a lot of quality time together, I'm not letting them tear us apart."

"Yeah, well, you should tell your locker that it's time the two of you start seeing other people." Blaine loops his arm around Kurt's waist and tugs them together, and they're oh so close, they're right in the middle of William McKinley freaking High School and Kurt's still so close that he can practically count Blaine's eyelashes, or the threads in his heather grey undershirt that's sticking out at the collar of his –

"Hey!" Kurt yelps suddenly, pulling away and tugging at Blaine's button-up. "That's my shirt!"

Blaine blinks at him for a couple seconds and then bursts out laughing. Kurt doesn't think it's very funny. "How long have you had that? I was looking for it all summer!" He unbuttons the top couple of buttons to get a better look, and sure enough, there's streaks of black all across the fabric near the top, and Kurt's own handprints, he knows, down near the hem.

"I took it when you threw it at my face that one time," says Blaine. "I just wanted to have something of yours, you know, in my house. For when my parents were being jerks and I missed you."

And okay, that's incredibly sweet and kind of heartwrenching, but – "Eugh, did you at least wash it?"

"Only with the same kind of detergent you use?" Blaine admits, smiling kind of sheepishly. "It still sort of smells like you."

Kurt makes a very serious face at him. "Okay, who are you, crazy stalker, and what have you done with my boyfriend."

"Hey," says Blaine, "I got your boyfriend right here." He leans in and kisses Kurt full on, and Kurt suddenly doesn't care whose locker he's getting up close and personal with, as long as it's because his boyfriend – his amazing, beautiful, goddamn courageous public school boyfriend – is pressing him into it and kissing him for all the world to see. Kurt smiles against Blaine's lips a little and finishes unbuttoning the shirt, wanting to get his hands exactly over the handprints against Blaine's hard stomach.

"...Okay," he says when they pull apart. "There is overwhelming evidence in your favor."

"Not guilty!" Blaine cries, grinning.

"Yo!" shouts a voice, one Kurt doesn't specifically recognize but he already doesn't like the sound of. "I didn't pay for no homo strip show!" He leans around past Blaine to look, and sure enough, it's some big doofus in a letterman jacket, even though it's still like a million degrees outside.

Blaine turns to look, too, remarkably contrite. "Oh, I'm sorry," he says, painfully genuine, and Kurt wonders what the hell he thinks he's doing, but then – "you actually think you could afford this? Because I was under the impression you worked at Burger King."

Kurt beams.

"You're the first on my slushie list, new kid," says the jock, keeping his eyes trained on them even as he walks away.

"Grape's my favorite!" Blaine calls after him.

"Hey, take a picture, it'll last longer!" Kurt shouts.

"Hey," says Blaine. "That's a great idea."

Without even asking, he flips open Kurt's messenger bag and digs around inside for the little camera, shoving his cheek to Kurt's and holding it out backward at arm's length. "First day of school! Look fierce!"

Kurt does a serious America's Next Top Model face; Blaine bares his teeth like a tiger or something. The flash goes and then Blaine hands it back, smiling a secret little smile, because only he and Kurt know exactly where that picture's going.

"So when will I see you? Lunch? First lunch?"

"No, I have second lunch," says Kurt, frowning. "Fifth period French?"

"I have it sixth period," says Blaine.

Kurt sighs. "Glee club then."

"Totally." Blaine grins, and leans in to kiss Kurt on the cheek, only letting go of his hand at the last possible second as he steps away. "Love you, babe," he mouths as he disappears into the crowd.

Kurt reaches his thumb up to straighten his bangs, and follows Blaine's path with his eyes until he can't any more before turning and heading to his locker.

(A week later, the first day of school picture is in his locker, too.

In the scrapbook Kurt lets Blaine scrawl in the word LOVE in thick black marker.

In his locker, the magazine cutout letters just say Bear With Me.)