Their first kiss is a lot really, even though it doesn't seem like much; it was a smile and a touch on the shoulder and the meeting of lips, chapped and damp from winter's air. Blaine's got a crick in his neck from how he'd slept last night (uncomfortably, in the library slumped over his Chemistry books as he studied for finals) and Kurt's hands are ice cold against his jaw.

Snow's falling, despite it being mid-March, and there's ink on his fingers and he's not wearing his jacket and in the distance a church bell's signaling 6PM.

For once, Blaine's utterly speechless.


Blaine Anderson's childhood went something like this:

Horseback riding lessons, music lessons, skinned knees, babysitters, summer and winter trips. He's known how to speak Spanish, fluently, since he was seven, Tagalog since he could talk, and was eerily great at the piano. He grows up in the shadows of New York City, along the Sound, three blocks from a twenty-minute bus ride, to a ten-minute subway ride, into the towering buildings beyond. The city, to Blaine, held remarkable promise; so much potential and growth and protection. It's in the idle upper-class suburbs he'd grown up in that felt cold, isolated, hidden in the darkness beyond the vibrant echo of the world's most brilliant city.

Andrew, aptly called Drew by mostly everyone but their mother, was an enigma from day one. While Blaine was carefully parting his hair on the side and was learning to tie ties, Andrew was tagging buildings in town with art disguised as graffiti. By the time he's 16 and Blaine's 12, he's been picked up by the cops twice and had to stay overnight in county jail once and he's Blaine's absolute total favorite person ever.

"It goes something like this," Drew says, laying out sheets of silk-screened paper in their vast backyard. Maylor, the family golden retriever and Blaine's best friend since birth, is curled up on the far side of the giant poster Drew's designed, creasing the material irreparably. Blaine tried to shoo him nearly an hour ago but Drew shrugs it off; he thinks it adds character.

What Drew sees when he's looking at these images is the future of art; the telltale symbolism of culture and artistic integrity, what's beautiful and incredible and intense about society. What Blaine sees is a giant piece of paper with a cartoon of a person on it, with a silly dramatic quote beside it. He doesn't get it like Drew does, and he never will, but he'll always want to.

It's Drew who asks Blaine if he's gay, and he does it abruptly, without prompt, and without any sort of tone, accusing or otherwise. Suddenly it's just there, out in the open, and Blaine's speechless for a moment.

They're in the backyard, Blaine's thirteen and on his spring break during his first year at St. Ignatius Boys' Day High School and Drew's spray painting an old wooden office chair they'd found in a dumpster three towns away. They're both wearing paint masks and Blaine's covered in dirt and no one from school would recognize him now, no sir.


Blaine's face is on fire. His throat is closed up. The sun, which had felt warm and comforting a few minutes ago, feels burning and painful. The blades of grass under his palm are prickly and no longer tickling his hand.

If anyone's known Blaine the best, it's Drew, who, despite his free spirit and artistic tendencies, accepts his brother for his cheesy sense of style and baleful humor. It's Drew, who's stopped painting, pulled his mask off, and looked over at the thirteen-year-old boy he knows has been bullied as of late, who's now avoiding his eyes in fear.

"Listen, bud, I don't give a shit, you know that, so quit avoiding the question," Drew says, sucking his lip. It's a habit both he and Blaine had gotten from their never-present father.

"If you don't give a shit, why does it matter?" Blaine finally replies, in a tone that only a kid can get away with. His fingers pick idly at the bit of red paint that had somehow made it's way into Maylor's fur (probably from when Drew had patted his side earlier) and he finally looks up.

Drew laughs at this; his full belly laugh, the kind he uses when he means it and when he gets caught by the cops for tagging a building; the kind that reminds Blaine of memories lost.

"You got me there, I guess." He shrugs, replaces his mask, and picks up the spray paint can again, shaking it. The sound of the metal mixing ball in the can rattles Blaine's thoughts, and for a moment, he sits there, mouth gaping.

They sit in silence for a few moments – one, two. Drew's moved on; he's staring at the canvas in front of him for inspiration, toes curled into the drop cloth under his feet. He's got the can pointed in front of him.

"Yeah. I am." Blaine finally says, and for the first time, he realizes his hands are shaking. He buries them in the thick fur under Maylor's neck, and the dog inches ever closer to him as if sensing his hesitance. Drew looks over at him and nods, before pointing at the canvas in front of him.

"Cool. Hey, do you think if I wrapped your arms in plastic bags and you wore gloves, you'd let me use your body as a stencil?"

Blaine can only laugh.

Blaine's fifteen when the article in the Arts section of the New York Times comes out. The headline reads, "Street Art Personifies Modern Culture As We Know It" and the photo beneath is a stencil that Drew had tagged in the subway station at 14th Street. It names him as 'District Attorney', a play on Drew's initials, and it directs readers to a second page further in the issue for more photos of "D.A.'s" 'unique and powerful political and cultural statements'. In one sentence, he's both compared to Banksy and a socio-political terrorist, both applauding his efforts and insisting they don't condone 'vandalizing' in the same breath. Blaine knows it's both the beginning and the end of something then, although he won't find out what until much, much later.

Blaine had been there when he'd done that first picture, hoodie pulled over his face and backpack stuffed with glue and rolls of paper. When they'd gotten home the next morning, his mother had grounded Blaine for two weeks. It'd all been worth it, though, meeting Drew's artist friends, busking on the subway platform on his grandfather's old guitar while Drew recorded it all on his camera. It'd been the first time Drew had invited him on one of his adventures.

Despite the warnings from Mom about being locked in the house, Blaine spends the summer between his freshman and sophomore years tagging along with Drew long into the night, spending half the night climbing fire escapes, shellacking canvas onto buildings and staining his fingernails with spray paint. The other half is wearing down his guitar strings until they break, writing fun little folk songs that are about anything and everything. Blaine, Drew and his handful of friends sprint through alleys and jump turnstiles and he grows out his hair, stops putting gel in it to tame his natural curls. By August, he can't get the glue out from under his fingernails and there's a boy, suddenly, a boy named Laker who's Drew's best friend's younger brother. He's sixteen and goes to the School of the Performing Arts for violin. He joins their group one night on a damp Friday, playing his violin against Blaine's guitar and Anthony's ukulele. Later, when he's got Blaine pressed against the doors of the 'F' train, ignoring their friends' catcalls, giving him his very first kiss, and Blaine suddenly sees life for what it is; what it can be.

When the summer sun hides and fall rolls around, though, it's back to reality. It's back to homework and school and real life. Drew's escaped to Los Angeles, to stretch his running skills in a very different city, and Laker, who'd he spent the remainder of the summer making Grand Plans with, gets sucked back into his rigorous school schedule.

The bullying starts then, because Blaine is not only friendless and alone, but also bizarre, artsy and unkempt. His hair makes him stand out like a sore thumb, and his lack of interest in much of anything school wise beyond his studies leant to whispers. When the homophobic slurs start, he doesn't deny the accusations, and when the back of his head connects with a locker for the first time, he lets his attacker get the best of him.

And then it doesn't stop.

Blaine's sixteen and he's transferred to Dalton Academy in Westerville Ohio and he's never felt so alone in his life. On his bulletin board in his new dorm room, three pictures: two of Maylor, one of he and Drew, covered in paint. On his desk, there's an open package; his first since starting three weeks ago. Inside, a 10x16 color photo of a piece Drew had tagged on the side of a building on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

It's a gorgeous stencil of Blaine himself surrounded by disgustingly perfect swirls of color and powerful words. Highlighted, amongst all of it, is the word 'COURAGE' in script, painted in a vibrant blue. The stencil was modeled after a photo Drew had taken of him the summer before, wearing a pair of bright yellow Ray-Bans his mother had bought him for his birthday. The sun highlighted his smile and he'd worn a deep purple v-neck tee.

Underneath the painting, four words:

Love. Life. Happiness. (Survival)

The photo of the piece becomes basis of his collage, then.

Carefully tucked in Westerville, life moves slowly, steadily. Predictable things happen with the occasional moment of surprise. He finds his footing in the tolerance of the school; becomes the front man for the Warblers, settles into the niche of being Mr. Dapper. He likes who he is at Dalton, and he doesn't look back, not really. Sure, he conforms. He cuts his hair and buries his art supplies in the back of his closet and his guitar stays in its' stand more often than not, these days, and he's friends with boys who have pride in their last names and propriety. He fits this mold, somehow, just as much as he'd fitted that one that Drew had helped ease him into on the streets of New York, and as his brother gains more and more notoriety as D.A., Blaine finds himself more and more silent about it. He bookmarks the articles, saves the news clippings, downloads the clips from local news online, but he keeps it carefully filed away. By the time he meets Kurt – quiet, eager, delicate yet vigorously strong Kurt, Blaine is the antithesis of who he'd been a year earlier.

"Hello?" Blaine says, heart racing in his chest as he presses himself into an alcove in the hallway, phone pressed to his ear. Drew hasn't called in months, and he's come to expect hearing from his brother as possible bad news.

"Blaine, buddy," Drew says in his ear, as happily and jubilant as Blaine's ever heard him, "I'm outside."

"Outside?" Blaine's brain feels heavy for a moment; he does really truly not comprehend Drew's words, "Outside where?"

There's a laugh, then a soft sigh, "Outside Dalton, asshat. Bagel and I were passing through Cincinnati trying to see what trouble we could get into so I figured we should stop by."

"Bagel?" Blaine repeats, ducking farther into the alcove when he sees Mr. Chavez walk jauntily down the corridor, "Like the artist Bagel?"

Another laugh, this time fond, charmed, like Blaine is a sweet puppy that does not understand simple commands.

"Yeah, dude. Bagel. Are you coming out or what?"

"I have to go to class, Drew. I do that here. Go to class."

The sigh that meets his ear this time isn't quite as charmed, but more resolved.

"When'd you become such a stick in the mud? Fine. Can you come out after classes are over? It's almost 2, you have to be done for the day soon."

Blaine mentally racks over his plans for the afternoon – American History is his last class, then he normally does his homework, then he goes to Warbler practice at 7.

"Uh, I guess. I get out at 2:45. Come over to the far side of campus, Reiner Hall, that's my dorm – and I can sign you and 'Bagel' in."

"You got it, bud. See you in a tizzy."

There's a click, and Blaine's left in the darkness of the alcove, what must be a pretty hilarious expression on his face. When he finally steps out, he's surprised to see Kurt there, eyebrow raised and curious look on his face.

"I thought that was your voice I was hearing," Kurt smirks, eyeing Blaine's phone as he slips it back into his blazer pocket, "Talking to the Secret Service? Your childhood nanny? Another secret admirer?"

It's a light-hearted jab, Blaine knows, a poke at the fact that Blaine keeps mum about his past and his family (partly because he doesn't know where to begin, partly because he likes having something to himself, partly because, besides Drew, there's nothing remotely interesting to the life he'd led before he'd attended Dalton), and Blaine doesn't begrudge him for it. In fact, he's ridiculously charmed by how easily Kurt can show his interest in his life without actually saying it, especially since Kurt himself is an open book.

"My brother, actually," He vocalizes with a sigh, taking Kurt's proffered arm and allowing the taller boy to lead the way. When Kurt's eyebrow just peaks higher in thinly veiled interest, he continues.

"Looks like you're going to get that lesson about my past in the messiest crash course possible this afternoon, Hummel."

Kurt's face breaks into a smile.


Bagel turns out to be a slip of a girl, no bigger than 4'10", who wears combat boots and her hair in a bleached, pixie cut. What she lacks in stature she makes up for in personality, though, because as soon as Drew introduces her, she's launched herself in his arms and noogied his hair right out of the gel shell he'd carefully put it in this morning. Blaine has trouble connecting this little girl with the intense, borderline offensive images versus pretty pictures she's known for, though.

"Hey little man," Drew punches his arm, and then draws him into a hug that knocks the wind right out of Blaine. When he's done smothering him, Drew holds Blaine at arms' length.

"Looks like you haven't grown all that much, stellar." He teases, "But dude, this get-up is stifling. Ugh, I've never watched to destroy something with hideously vulgar graffiti in my life."

Drew's wearing paint-stained jeans and a plaid shirt and his hands are rough with calluses and he's unshaven. He's pretty much exactly how Blaine remembers him, except he seems softer now, less intense. It's possibly due to the financial and commercial success he's reached with his art (although he'd never, ever admit that), but Blaine thinks it might more have to do with Bagel, who's staring adoringly up at him.


Blaine's forgotten Kurt had insisted on tagging along, but his expression finally brings Blaine crashing back to reality. At his friend's word, Blaine turns suddenly to see Kurt's wide eyes and genuine smile. He's surprised at first, expecting Kurt to give both newcomers a stink-eye for their fashion faux-pas and general lack of personal hygiene, but he's also not surprised to see the genuine interest in Kurt's eyes.

"Kurt, this is my brother Drew," He gestures, and watches the two shake hands, "And this – is Bagel."

"Bagel?" Kurt says, laughing when the girl hugs him too. Luckily Kurt's too tall to get a noogy but he lets her wrinkle the shit out of his blazer with her fists with her intense hug, anyway. When they step away from one another, Kurt looks curiously at the pair.

"Like the street artist?"

Blaine's eyes must be as wide as saucers, because he's completely speechless. If anything, Kurt never ceases to surprise him with vast knowledge of anything and everything.

"Oh, just like the street artist." Bagel laughs, high-pitched. She links arms with Kurt and lets him lead her through the dorm building's entrance. Kurt peers over his shoulder at Blaine with the famous raised eyebrow and doesn't even need to say out loud, "You have a lot of explaining to do, mister."

Somewhere in between this and that:

Blaine makes a huge mistake kissing Rachel, and then dating Rachel, and then kissing Rachel again. If he's learned anything by being around Kurt Hummel, it's that the boy trusts and loves fiercely. He has a tendency to put everyone and anything he loves (from his father to THE Barbra) on the highest pedestal imaginable and he is absolutely devastated when that person tumbles off of it. Blaine knows he's on a pedestal, and he has a love/hate relationship with it. It means that he gets to see Kurt look at him with that sweet expression of fondness more often than not, but at the same time, it means the fallout from just being himself is a lot more painful. It stings Blaine to see Kurt disappointed in him, but he can't be on all the time, especially since there are many a time when Blaine opens his mouth and says something before thinking about it.

That, of course, leads to the "sexy faces" tutorial in Kurt's room, Kurt's safe space, and as he's ousted, Blaine feels ashamed, maybe more than when he'd taken the brief dive into bisexuality.

He forgets sometimes, that Kurt has a thing for him. He forgets what it feels like to be wanted, to be coveted and daydreamed about. In fact, he's not sure he's ever known what it's like to be wanted, coveted or daydreamed about. His only romantic tryst had been with Laker, who hadn't known him three hours before he'd groped Blaine on the F train. Blaine himself had never really "liked" anyone, either – while he'd been attracted to people in school prior to Dalton, he'd been too afraid to let the attraction known. During Dalton there was Jeremiah, but he thinks that was more hero worship of an older, more experienced guy if anything.

And for a while – for a while he thought that's what Kurt saw in him, too. He thought Kurt was attracted to him, and because he was the first (and only) gay male to ever befriend him, had twisted it into what he thought was more. Then Rachel happened, then the "sexy faces debacle" happened – and then Blaine saw the way Kurt looked at him, truly. He saw how Kurt's expression softened when he saw him enter the room. He saw how Kurt glanced small smiles at him, how he laughed at Blaine's lame jokes, how he didn't care that Blaine didn't make his bed every morning or that he tended to have disgusting road rage, or that he'd only break out the Top 40's Pop when he was in the car with Kurt and pretended to only like obscure bands in front of others.

It was unnerving the adoration Kurt had for him – unnerving and comforting. Sweet and sour. He loves the way it feels, but is consistently worried about hurting his friend. He doesn't know where to draw the line, doesn't know how to talk to Kurt about it. Instead, he contemplates breaking their friendship. He contemplates what it'd be like to fall in love with Kurt the way Kurt was in love with him. He contemplates life with and without Kurt and he doesn't know how to live with either.

Instead, he apologizes continually, trying to erase the sadness in Kurt's eyes. He oversteps boundaries and gets himself in more of a rut. He wonders if he's ever known love the way Kurt's known love, and despite his close relationship with Drew, he's realized very very sadly that he hasn't, and wouldn't know what to do with it if he had.

And then:

Blaine digs the second hand art supplies he'd stolen from Drew over the years out from under his bed that day, the day he'd visited Burt in the shop. He pulls it all out and he lays it across his bed. It's mainly crusted over dried spray paint cans, scraps of silkscreen and Drew's hand-drawn doodles, but in a small snap-case is a set of really beautiful oil colored pencils that Drew had used once and then tossed in the bottom of his trunk. Blaine had stolen them when he wasn't looking, enamored with the color pallet it displayed, unsure if it'd ever be missed.

It never was.

Blaine touches the pencils reverently now, not caring when the ink smears on his fingertips. He's no artist. He didn't inherit the quick fingers Drew has, and his hands are too clumsy to be able to draw a single thing. He'd tried, of course, under Drew's watchful eye, but what he envisioned in his head never translated to paper and he'd always been embarrassed by the ugly, child-like drawings he'd made. Drew, sometimes stinging but always honest, had said, "Well bro, guess you can't be good at everything," and had presented Blaine with a second guitar for his following birthday.

He'd always felt guilty for taking the pencils, even though Drew had never used them, because he felt they were wasted on him, on his talentless fingers. Now, as he stares down at the set, he quickly picks two – no – three of the colors and brushes them against a fresh page in his notebook to see the vibrancy come to life.

It's not until he's scribbled two of the pencils down to a nub that he's realized he'd been trying to re-create the color of Kurt's eyes.

"Have you heard from Dad?" Blaine asks, phone tucked under his chin as he flicks through the Vogue in front of him. It's 4 o'clock on a Sunday and he's had to call Drew, like he always has to call Drew, because the older boy is always, always, always moving. This time, Drew's in New Orleans, and he's clearly on Bourbon Street, and Blaine can barely hear him over the din of the drunken voices.

Drew scoffs at the question, like he always scoffs at inquiries about hearing about their parents.

"Right, stupid question." Blaine says, trying not to seem put out. Even hundreds of miles away, though, Drew sees right through him.

"Why?" Drew responds, and it's quieter for a moment, like Drew had ducked inside somewhere.

"I don't know. I went to talk to Kurt's dad the other day – my friend Kurt, remember?" He places a post-it in a page he wants to point out to Kurt later, carefully making sure he doesn't crease the page.

"Kurt. Yeah. The kid you always talk about? Yeah, how can I forget?" Drew's tone is fond, teasing, and there's a sound like he's being jostled for a moment. There's a clatter and Blaine's sure he's dropped the call, when, "Jay, dude, cut that shit out, alright? I'm on the phone with my brother. Blaine, hold on a sec, let me get the fuck away from these assholes so I can hear you."

There's the sound of Drew ascending steps, and then a click of a door closing behind him. It's infinitely infinitely quieter now, almost eerily so.

"Go ahead. What about Kurt's dad?"

Blaine sighs and suddenly feels a little put out, like perhaps this conversation is best not to have. There's a weight to it now, now that Drew had left his friends behind, even momentarily, to give his full attention. When Drew makes an effort to be on the receiving end of a conversation, he's there until you spit it out.

"Well, uh, I spoke to him the other day, about Kurt. What was said doesn't really matter," He continues, sitting up and leaving the Vogue behind, as Drew scoffs on the far end. He fiddles with the hem of his tee shirt and imagines the look on Drew's face, one of idle curiosity and soft humor, and closes his eyes.

"I'm sure," He replies sarcastically, but he doesn't press for more.

"Anyway, it's just that Kurt has this incredible relationship with his Dad. Like, insanely incredible. He's so supportive of him."

Drew doesn't say anything, because he knows what this is about. It's about their father, who's more absent more than anything, who hands his boys cash and pretty toys to make up for not being around. It's about their father, who half-heartedly attempted to rebuild a car with Blaine two summers ago, who had been so excited he'd called Drew about it the minute he found out. He also had called Drew crying, two weeks later, when their dad's true intentions were realized. It was about their dad, and in turn, their mother, who have two boys, both of which are complete opposites from one another, who had raised one another with pretty much only the financial support from their parents. It had been Drew who had helped Blaine find Dalton, it'd been Drew who'd forged their father's signature to get the transfer through. By the time their parents had figured out what was happening, it was very nearly too late, and in the end, they hadn't even fought him about it. He'd been devastated that they'd so easily given him up that it was Drew, again, who'd had to pick up the pieces.

And while there were weeks, sometimes, when Blaine didn't hear from Drew, he would answer the phone whenever Blaine called, always. He could be on the top of a building, the back of a squad car, in the midst of a mosh pit, but he'd answer Blaine's call.

"It must be really serious between you two if you're talking to Kurt's dad," Drew finally says, easily trying to change the subject, acting as if Blaine hasn't told him a ZILLION times he wasn't dating Kurt. Blaine sighs at this, knowing Drew's dodging the topic, in a way. While he's always Blaine's rock, he's not always the best person to have heartfelt conversations with. He understands too much and has dealt with too many things to just talk things out; he has his art for that. While Blaine is sometimes in awe that he has a world-renowned famous street artist brother, he sometimes wishes he doesn't, in moments like this, because he's more likely to see Drew's feelings about their family plastered on the side of a building a week from now on an art website than he's likely to hear straight from the horse's mouth.

He doesn't reply, and he can hear Drew light up a cigarette all the way in New Orleans. He thinks about scolding him again, as he does every time he hears Drew light up, but decides it's a moot point and an argument for another day.

"Listen, Blaine," Drew finally says, as Blaine hears him exhale the smoke right into the phone, "Kurt's something special. I don't even need to meet the kid to know that. Stop being so fucking scared and do something about it."

It's the first time Drew calls him out on it, really calls him out on it, not just teases him about how much time he's spent with Kurt. Blaine feels unsettled by it, that his normally wayward brother is even noticing his conflict with his feelings (or, unfortunately, what he isn't feeling.)

"I'm not scared," Blaine says defensively, standing to peer out the window. Dalton's courtyard is still icy, but there's a daring couple of boys out there, running and sliding on the ice. He thinks one of them might be Aaron, the youngest Warbler in their group, and hopes Wes or David doesn't catch sight of it because he'd be in for a lecture about not needing members with broken legs.

"Maybe I'm just not attracted to him in that way," He continues, turning away. He kicks Nick's shoes over to his side of the room, haphazardly pulls his comforter up, and tries to find something to do with his fingers.

"Not to sound like a bad WB drama or anything but, please, it's not all about that and you know it."

"It's the CW now." Blaine replies quickly, as if that's the most important thing in Drew's statement.

"What? Never mind that, dude. Fuck that. Who cares? The point is that you need to start figuring out what the hell you're doing. Life isn't hard. It's not even been all that hard for us, if you think about it. Sure, we had shitty parents, but did they beat the shit out of us? No. Yeah, Dad was a half-hearted prick about you liking dudes, but did he cut you off? Nah. They turn a blind eye to us but our bank accounts always have money if we want it. Yeah, it sucks that most likely after you graduate college you'll never see them again, but you have a lot of power here, Blaine. You've got a lot of potential. Live, dude! Where's the kid that used to play guitar on the 'A' train and jump on fire escapes with me? He seems to be hiding in that fancy schmancy school of his, looks like – and the only time I get a glimpse of him anymore is when he's talking about this kid Kurt Hummel. Okay, maybe he's not super hot, or not your type, whatever that is, but he seems to like you, dude, right? He seems to make you YOU when you're around him."

Blaine's speechless when Drew's done ranting, because as usual, his brother's right. So right, in fact, that Blaine feels sick to his stomach. He feels like the air's been sucked from his lungs. Who is he? A scared little boy that preaches to the choir and doesn't take his own advice. While he's been telling Kurt to have courage, he's the one who's been hiding in a uniform. In fact, it was Drew who had encouraged him to find himself the first time, telling him it was okay to be whom he was, to find passion in music and not care what other people think. Now, it's Kurt, who encourages his love for theater, who likes his cheesy jokes, who, despite sometimes being disappointed in Blaine always comes back for more – because he likes him. He wonders if Kurt would still like him if he'd known Blaine's preferred haircut is not having one at all, that he likes the dirtiness of New York City, that sometimes he likes ripped jeans that come by their rips honestly. He feels like a fraud, suddenly, like he knows everything about Kurt and Kurt knows nothing about him. He's speechless.

"You still there?" Drew finally says, "Did I confuse the fuck out of you?"

"Just a bit." Blaine replies, quickly.

"Listen, no one says you have to figure this out right now. If Kurt isn't the dude for you, that's cool, too. What the fuck do I know? I just think you need to stop living in your head and steamrolling the shit out of opportunities and be a little more reckless, is all. I haven't heard you mentioned someone like you talk about Kurt. It has to mean something. What it is, I dunno."

Blaine had called Drew to talk shit about their parents, and instead he's getting a Life Lesson by Andrew Anderson, of the notorious ability to avoid topics at all cost. Blaine's a little annoyed by it, actually, but he's not about to say it.

"Yeah." He replies instead, digging his nails into his own thigh in frustration. There's more silence, and he hears Drew sigh.

"Don't be annoyed at me. Think about it and call me this weekend or something, okay?"


More silence. More awkwardness. He practically hears Drew roll his eyes, hears the heel of Drew's boot as he crushes the cigarette.

"I have to go, but – I love you, B – you know that, right?"

It's not the first time Drew's told him he loves him, but it's the first time since Blaine's been old enough to comprehend how truly hard it is for Drew to say it. Their family wasn't exactly the epitome of the warm and fuzzies. He can't remember the last time he'd received a hug or a kiss from his parents, and could count on one hand how many times Drew has embraced him. Sometimes Blaine feels like he's so touched starved he craves the easiness in which Kurt accepts his hands on him, and that makes him feel even more guilty about it.

"I know. I love you too, D." He responds, "Later."

And back to the beginning:

It's the snow that does it, for him, and suddenly Blaine feels like he has no choice anymore. Kurt's there, next to him, hands stuffed in his pocket, scarf tied up neat. His hair is perfect, as per usual, and he's got this pretty smile on his face, no teeth but up-turned corner of his lips. He blinks and his eyes stay closed for a moment, eyelashes fanned over his cheeks, and he just looks so so beautiful. It's a sweet expression, and Blaine created that expression. He created that blissful smile, that content look.

He can't help but lean in and chase it, searching to taste it.

His lips touch Kurt's and there's a moment of shock; Kurt very nearly steps back and his eyes open and he gasps a little against Blaine's mouth, but Blaine's persistent. Now that he takes the leap, he needs to follow through with this. He needs to jump in head first, and he moves with Kurt, follows him back until he feels Kurt relax against him. Blaine touches Kurt's arm and suddenly Kurt sighs a little against him, a little noise escaping into Blaine's lips, and he's kissing Blaine back, softly, tentatively.

Blaine separates for half a second to get some oxygen into his lungs and smiles against Kurt's lips when he chases him back, quickly re-capturing Kurt's own smile. His heart is pounding in his chest, thrumming wildly and almost painfully, and he deepens the kiss, eager to take as much as Kurt will give him. He has to tilt his head up just a little to properly kiss Kurt, has to fist his fingers in Kurt's coat sleeve to keep himself from metaphorically floating away.

It's Kurt's gloved fingers that bring him back to reality, touching his jaw and bodily separating them. His other hand is tightening on Blaine's back, and he leans against Blaine for support that Blaine's not too sure his legs can provide. Blaine clutches Kurt back, in fear what could happen next – he's just grateful that Kurt's first response wasn't to punch him, which would've been Blaine's own response if Kurt had been treating him the way he'd been treating Kurt the past few months. He feels Kurt's lips brush a little against his cheek, and then feels him kiss the spot under his ear where his jaw meets it and moans a little unintentionally. The shiver that wracks through Kurt's body at that is certainly not from the cold, Blaine at least knows that.

"Took you long enough," Kurt whispers, breath tickling against his ear. Blaine just growls a little under his breath and guides Kurt's lips back to his.

He'd never truly made up his mind, he knows. There was never a true decision about his feelings, never a moment that signaled that his happiness lied in the boy before him. Drew's conversation certainly rang true, certainly made sense, but Blaine knows that Kurt doesn't know a lot about him. In fact, he may know less about about him than he thinks he does. However, it seems like Blaine never really needed to make a decision, because everything about the moment he's in makes sense to him. It feels right. He kisses Kurt back with fervor and knows that he wants to wake up in the morning with this boy, wants to make plans with this boy, wants to introduce Drew to this boy as his boyfriend.

In the end, he has to hope Kurt loves him enough to understand his past, understand who he really is. Love. What a crazy word.

Later, Kurt's sits on the end of his bed, patented eyebrow of doom, lips swollen and delicious looking, and Blaine's freaking out.

"What do you mean, I don't know you?" He asks, eyes following Blaine's rug-ruining path back and forth across the room.

"It's just that –" He pauses for a moment, and Kurt takes the opportunity to reach out and grab his arm.

"Stop pacing. It's making me nauseous." He gestures with his head to the side a bit, and Blaine takes the hint, sitting next to Kurt on his bed, pressing into his personal space and taking the liberty of taking Kurt's hand. Kurt lets him, even lets him tangle one of his own legs with Kurt's, even leans into the touch- even lets Blaine sigh dramatically for nearly two minutes.

"It's just that –" Blaine starts up again, "My family isn't yours, Kurt."

Kurt ducks his head to catch Blaine's eyes.

"Is this about what you told my Dad?" He asks, reaching out to touch Blaine's jaw. Blaine leans into the touch, kissing the pad of Kurt's thumb when it brushes over his bottom lip, "Because if it is, I already know, and that's hardly a reason to think I don't know you. I'm sorry about it, yes, but it's not hiding anything about what I know about you."

Blaine leans in a little, presses his forehead against Kurt's temple. They breathe one another in for a bit, and he can't just get over how he can do this now. How the feelings that have his heart pounding are a result of a boy he'd met in Dalton's hallway only a few months ago. It's maddening.

"No, that's not totally it." He admits, letting Kurt turn his head and press his forehead against his own.

"Are you some sort of serial killer?" Kurt says softly, teasingly. Blaine giggles a little, helplessly.

"Are you secretly a spy? Do you have an underground harem of helpless teenage boys buried under Dalton? What is it, Blaine, because I don't even think those things could make me think any less of you, truthfully."

Blaine giggles a bit more, captures Kurt's lips with his own for a moment, then pulls away slightly, when Kurt goes to deepen the kiss.

"It's none of that, I promise." He strokes Kurt's fingers with his own, "But I'm not sure I can explain right now."

It's Kurt's turn to pull away a bit.

"It's not something dangerous, right? Or illegal? Or life-threatening?"

Blaine takes a moment to consider 'illegal', because arguably, what Drew does isn't particularly legal. In the end, though, he knows his own days of following Drew around the city is pretty much over, so –


"Then don't worry so much about it right now, Blaine. You'll tell me eventually, right?"

Blaine leans in again, hugging Kurt close to him, not trusting himself to speak. He's getting oddly choked up, oddly moved by this boy, suddenly. He feels like the tables have turned abruptly and now Kurt knows the truth; that it wasn't Blaine who had been the strong one the whole time at all. Blaine feels vulnerable, and he nods against Kurt's chest, trying to hide the tears that are welling up in his eyes.

"I'm not sure what's going on, Blaine, but I want to figure it out with you. You have to trust me."

Blaine kisses him again, this time not as a distraction, but to agree very strongly with Kurt's words.

And then there's meeting Bagel and Drew and all that it means:

In Blaine's room, Drew touches everything that's not nailed down. Kurt's cross-legged on Blaine's bed, Bagel's sitting at Blaine's desk chair, Drew is messing up all of Blaine's desk, and Blaine himself is standing wide-eyed in the doorway, watching his two worlds collide in a way he'd never thought. Kurt knows of Drew's existence and that's about it, giving Blaine the leeway to give and take personal information as he sees fit. Blaine knows it must be frustrating as hell to pretty much nothing about your boyfriend's family, but if Kurt's learned anything from being the dogged, forgotten gay boy in an unaccepting high school, it's that patience is key.

"Babe, you're making this awkward," Kurt finally says, after a few minutes of sitting in silence. None of the guests in the room are particularly quiet people, and the silence feels bogged down and heavy.

"Babe?" Drew looks up, a twinkle in his eye. He grabs Blaine's side and messes his hair up further, "Does that mean somebody realized somebody is perfect for them, huh B?"

Blaine flushes, the heat rising on his neck, and he knows he must be bright red. He shoves Drew off of him and ignores Kurt's chuckle and Bagel's gleeful clapping. He doesn't know if he should be embarrassed or grateful that he has something to be embarrassed about, but he collapses on the bed next to Kurt and lets the other boy attempt to fix the rat's nest on his head.

The ice is broken, then, and it feels like a breath of fresh air.

"So, if you're the Bagel," Kurt finally says, giving up on Blaine's hair, "Then I assume part of what Blaine's been so secretive about has to do with that? Maybe?"

There's another silence for a moment, and then Blaine recoils as a pen goes flying past his face.

"Douchebag move Blaine – you haven't told him anything?"

"No! I thought you said to keep my mouth shut, anyway," He replies weakly. Drew sighs dramatically as Bagel starts going through Blaine's desk, finally emerging with a pencil. Blaine watches her as she doodles on his desk calendar, not sure if he should be offended that this stranger is defacing his belongings or sigh in contentment that his brother's spirited companions are back in his life.

"Long story short," Drew says, hopping up to sit on Blaine's desk, "I'm a street artist- if you know anything about Bagel, then you might've heard of me. I go by the name D.A."

He pauses for a moment, expecting some sort of visceral reaction, but Blaine knows the only time Kurt gives visceral reactions is when they're criticizing his taste in fashion. Instead, Kurt's eyebrow goes up.

"D.A.? Stencils of shadows, D.A.? Continuously compared to a socio-political terrorist, D.A.?"

Bagel, who's known for her eerie images where she hand-paints childhood toys back to back with dark, bloody corpses, doesn't even look up from what she's doodling, "Ding ding ding ding!"

"That would be it. Pleased to meet you, sorry my brother is a moron, etcetera, etcetera. Moving on, I guess if he hasn't told you I am a world-renowned street artist –"

"Baby, you're so modest!" Bagel chirps, as Blaine scoffs. Drew continues as if he hasn't been interrupted.

"—then what he's probably been in fear of telling you is that before he came to Dalton, Blaine here was a part of my little crew. When I was first starting out, he'd come with me to plaster the pieces on the buildings, he'd play music with my friends in the subway, he stopped shaving and GASP, OH MY – stopped cutting his hair. He was a mess. Like me. And he liked it. So, dear Kurt Hummel of the perfect hair and style, as so I've been told, I think he's in fear you'd not like him anymore knowing he'd broken a few laws and gotten his hands dirty."

When Drew stops talking, his brain seems to catch up with him. There's a literal moment Drew can sense that perhaps he's stuck his foot in his mouth, because Kurt is still not saying anything, and Blaine is hiding his face. Even Bagel, who's all about saying things she probably shouldn't, keeps her mouth shut. But if Drew is anything, he's stubborn (and this is where Blaine has most likely gotten it from), because he pushes forward.

"And if all of that is a deal breaker, then I guess you're not worthy of my brother, dude. You seem like a cool guy, but things are things."

Blaine mimes zippering up his mouth at Drew, who quickly gets the picture and snaps his mouth shut. When he finally looks at Kurt, he's expecting a blank, cool expression – the kind Kurt gets when he's mulling over a lot of information that's just been thrown at him. What he's surprised to see, though, is Kurt valiantly trying to keep from laughing, fingers gripped in Blaine's bedspread and eyes screwed shut. He finally can't help it and a squeak peeps out of him. The two Andersons and Bagel watch him wide-eyed for a moment before joining in. Blaine's never felt so relieved in his life, and while he knows to always take Kurt's initial reactions with a grain of salt, he also knows (what he really always knew) that Kurt wouldn't leave him because he's brother is a street artist, or because Blaine used to wear his hair long.

Kurt leans into him a bit, and Blaine leans back. Suddenly, Kurt's mouth is by his ear.

"Long hair, huh?" He whispers, "Kinda hot."

Blaine contemplates re-growing it out, then.

In the end, Drew ends up quitting smoking the same summer he invites both Kurt and Blaine to spend their summer break in Los Angeles, his home away from home. Blaine grows his hair out a bit and stops being so neat, and Kurt only side-eyes him for it sometimes- mainly when they're going to a nice stage performance or someplace other than the Mexican food place on the corner. They sing loud 90's pop while sitting on the 101 in rush hour traffic and drive the get away car after Drew tags the side of a building on Hollywood and Highland. They get coffee at upscale snobby hipster coffee shops in Silver Lake and Kurt may or may not try out for American Idol (and doesn't get it) and then LA production of Spring Awakening (and does). Blaine busks on his guitar on Sunset Boulevard and on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, sometimes alone and sometimes with Kurt or one of Drew's many musically inclined friends, and they live a life that's oddly simple and bohemian. They make out on the stoop of the bungalow Drew's renting, palms pressed against one another's and sun pressing down on their heads. They're seventeen and they have a year of high school left and nothing will ever stop them, ever. Kurt's still Kurt, even if his wardrobe has morphed into a bit more hipster chic than he'll ever admit, and Blaine's still Blaine, which means he still has impeccable taste in music (top 40's or not) but doesn't shave as often.

Drew marries Bagel in August, two weeks before the boys have to go back to Ohio to join McKinley High. It's not a real ceremony and it's not recognized by the state because in sweet, misplaced solidarity, Drew decides they won't until Blaine and Kurt can get married ("To each other or to someone else – chill out, dudes, your faces are priceless!"), but it's something they do for one another, to honor each other. Finn comes, Mercedes and Quinn and Santana, too, even if the rest of their crew can't be there, and Drew lets them sing a Top 40 song at the reception. Carole's and Burt's there, too, even if he's grumpy about it – but he smiles when Drew hugs him and calls him "Pops".

In the end, the very end, they'll go back to Ohio and they'll go back changed. For now, though – Blaine takes Kurt's hand as they walk down Sunset, the Hollywood sign smiling down at them. His guitar is strung along his back and they sing out loud in harmony to a random song Bagel's been playing over and over in her car all week and they don't even get any odd glances, not even a frown at two boys holding hands.

For once, Blaine's got everything he needs – Kurt Hummel, music, and art, and it all makes sense once again.