Once upon a time, Kurt Hummel was boy with wishful thinking.

It all changed with an unexpected moment with a curly-haired boy in a fancy sitting room in a school he couldn't afford while he was gluing rhinestones onto a box that was to become a casket for a canary that was given to him by the a capella boys' group he joined after he was driven out of his own school by a homophobic/in-the-closet bully who threatened to kill him.

Nothing ever came to Kurt Hummel easily, that's for sure.

They don't tell anyone, not at first. There's just this light in Blaine's eyes now, this look of soft fondness he gets when he looks over at Kurt, and Kurt, he seems more outgoing, more alive. More himself then he'd ever felt, quick retorts and snappy comments slipping out of his mouth more than usual, perhaps, ones that make Blaine laugh with a wide, bright smile. One that slips out of his natural, cool façade and makes him giggle in a way none of the other Warblers have ever heard before.

It's a secret because Kurt's never had this. He's always wished; he's always dreamed, but he's never had a boy want to kiss him the way Blaine always wants to, never had a boy moan into his mouth and whisper sweet words into his ear. It's a similar feeling to when he'd kept Blaine a secret initially from his friends, right when they'd become friends, but this time it's stronger, more powerful. He'd been irrationally afraid of his real life tainting the budding friendship he had with Blaine, his father's over-protectiveness and the sheer overpowering nature of his friends in New Directions making Blaine less his and more theirs.

He had been right to worry a bit, if he thought about it, in the end – what happened when Blaine had eventually crossed paths with his family and friends? He got his father's stern talking to about sharing a bed with his (then) platonic friend, creating Burt's hesitatingly wary feeling about the other boy, and Blaine had (sort of-kind of-not really-okay it was close) nearly gotten stolen by Rachel (who had already stolen enough of Kurt's light, okay?). He had been right to be wary but it happened and they persevered and arguably if they hadn't hit those roadblocks they wouldn't have ended up where they were now.

And where they were now is probably the best place Kurt feels like he could be – curled up on his bed, tucked under Blaine's arm as they talked quietly to one another about the weekend ahead. He's got one arm stretched out under Blaine's waist, their legs tangled together, and their socked feet brushing with every movement. Blaine's talking more into Kurt's hair than he is to his face but Kurt's warm and can feel Blaine's voice reverberating through his chest and it's so so nice. It's only been two weeks but Kurt feels happy; content. His family is scattered for the afternoon; Finn at glee, his dad at the shop until 7, Carole at her job until almost 8. It's 3:30 and for once Kurt and Blaine don't need to be at Warbler practice, don't have any studying to do. It's a Friday and there's a weekend ahead of them and it seems perfect.

"You're pretty quiet down there," Blaine says softly, and Kurt can feel Blaine's lips on his head, "What are you thinking about?"

"You, as usual," Kurt replies, trying to make it seem sarcastic, and yet it comes out more heartbrokenly sincere than he wanted it to. Blaine doesn't respond verbally, just closes his arm around Kurt's shoulder tighter and entwines his fingers with his.

Once, not that long ago, Kurt Hummel was alone.

All right, not completely, but it sure felt like it. He sat by himself a lot, lived in his head a lot, wished way too often. He cried himself to sleep and was at a loss to who he was and who he wanted to be and then suddenly there was a Glee club.

That year was tumultuous and painful and Kurt still wishes a lot of it had happened differently, but he fancies himself a pretty realistic person and knows if he hadn't gone through what he did he wouldn't be so content now.

But as a fifteen-year-old gay outcast, you don't see the future. You see the smallest picture imaginable because high school is a big deal really only when you're in it.

Their relationship remains undefined but Blaine uses a lot of sweet nicknames that makes Kurt blush so he can't imagine Blaine doesn't think of him as anything but "boyfriend".

"Babe, can I borrow your Chem notes?" Blaine asks the next day, as they study in the very same lounge at the very same seats they had their first kiss at. Kurt can feel himself flush a bit but he hands over the notes, but he looks at Blaine out of the corner of his eye. Blaine's still looking down, seemingly invested in whatever he's looking at or reading, but Kurt can swear the corner of his mouth is twitching up in a small smile.

Even months ago;

"Eat shit, faggot," Is all he hears before he's literally body checked into the lockers, tossed into the open door of his own, feeling the sharp metal corner bite into his flesh. Pain blossoms through him, the kind that spreads down his arm and cramps his hand.

He's not sure, at first, what hurts more – his pride, for Azimio et. al for continuously abusing him for who he is, or his arm for the numerous bruises it's obtained.

"Hey Azimio!" He hears suddenly, and he turns to watch Puck stalk after the other football player menacingly, "Do you wanna say that to MY face, fucktard?"

The look on Azimio's face clearly shows he hadn't expected Puck to be a witness to that – even Kurt hadn't seen him or where'd he come from. Puck's after the other boy, a scowl on his face, moments later. The two disappear around the corner further down the hall and Kurt winces when there's raised voices.

The boys do what they can, and Kurt's grateful for it, even if there's a mantra going through his head as of late: this isn't how you should live, this isn't how you should have to live, this isn't how you should have to live!

Later, Kurt's feeling quiet and despondent and completely unlike himself during glee when Puck comes in and heads in his direction. Just Artie and Brittany are there, whispering sweet nothings in one another's ears across the room, and despite the fact that he trusts Puck these days, he still feels a little wary as he stops in front of him, looking down. Puck's face goes soft, and he sticks his fist out in front of him.

"Pound." He says with his standard authority, and Kurt tentatively presses his own fist to Puck's.

"I got your back when I can," Puck continues, looking oddly vulnerable. Kurt has to swallow thickly to avoid tearing up and he nods, hoping he conveys his gratitude through the simple gesture. Puck doesn't seem to mind either way; he just continues past Kurt and settles in the back row.

In the end, it doesn't make much of a difference because a week later, Puck's sent to juvie. After that, Karofsky happens, the death threat happens, and amidst it all, Blaine happens.

The decision to go back to McKinley is a million times harder to make than anything else Kurt has ever had to do in his life. The expression on Blaine's face when he tells him makes it even worse, and he prepares for Blaine to be disappointed in him, to be angry and hurt and defensive. What he doesn't expect is the wide, broken stare he gets; Blaine looking utterly destroyed and vulnerable.

"Is it something I did?" He asks, and Blaine reaches across the table to clutch almost desperately at his hands, "Please tell me. I'm sorry. Kurt –"

Kurt's in shock at the words coming out of Blaine's mouth, at the assumptions Blaine is making that HE was the cause for Kurt's return. Despite the fact that Kurt has learned that Blaine is indeed not perfect (despite his original tendency to put Blaine on a pedestal), Kurt hasn't ever seen Blaine seem so heartbroken and unsure of himself. Even when Blaine broke down and admitted his feelings he did it without a thought that Kurt might possibly be over him, that he didn't return his feelings anymore. He knows if it had been him in that position that moment would have never happened, not once – Kurt still doesn't believe that this boy is all his and that he's wanted by him, sometimes.

"No no no," He knows he's manic about it, about the way he presses his hands back into Blaine's, about how he leans over to press the word against Blaine's lips in between reassuring kisses. His free hand slides up to cup Blaine's jaw and he can feel Blaine's pulse pounding under his pinky. They press their foreheads together for a moment. Kurt can feel Blaine's hand on his knee, brushing his thumb over his leg there.

Kurt feels swept away. He's never been and never thought he'd ever be so vulnerable in front of another person before. Blaine's changed him through and through, and he needs McKinley to see that change; with or without Karofsky still haunting the corridors. He wants Blaine, he needs Blaine. If it were up to him, he'd take Blaine with him – but it's not even a fair thing to ask his boyfriend – because Blaine would pretty much do anything to make Kurt happy, even if it means giving up his friends and his life at Dalton.

"I need to do this. You gave me the strength to do this," He says, mumbling desperately against Blaine's lips, "I need to use that courage to go back and show them that they didn't get the best of me."

Blaine makes this huffing noise, low in his throat that Kurt reads as an aborted sigh.

"If you can go back there and have the courage to face them, Kurt, then you need to do it. You know I believe in you."

That's the Blaine Kurt's come to know – resolute and matter of fact and sincere. Kurt's unsure if this is a defense mechanism, or if Blaine suddenly realizes the importance of this, but Kurt's grateful for Blaine resuming his calm façade, because in a half second Kurt was going to just say fuck it and stay at Dalton so he could stay safe forever.

"I believe in you, too." He says suddenly, unsure of what even he is trying to say. Blaine seems to get it, though, because he smiles sweetly, so sweetly, and leans in for a kiss.

"I'm gonna need that if I'm going to have to live without seeing you everyday."

Blaine Anderson grew up in a house with seven bedrooms for five people. He was handed a brand new Audi when he turned 16, had a brother that lived in Washington that he'd never met and his sister was Miss Ohio three years in a row. Blaine, he remembers sitting on her bed, tugging on his socks and biting his lip as he watched her get ready in the mirror at her vanity, fingers and brushes and pads shellacking colorful makeup on her face. She'd sing with him as she got ready, her voice clear and high and so sweet, their voices harmonizing to old classics and top 40's hits. She'd let him brush her hair sometimes, the brush smoothing through her long locks as he used careful fingers to make sure the tines didn't get snagged on any knots.

Later, when she was up on stage, spine straight and smile plastered on, Blaine would watch with wide wide eyes, thinking that while she was so so beautiful, she was even more lovely without all the goop on her face, when her smile was natural.

He had been young then, nearly ten years her junior during those memories. These days she was living in Westerville only fifteen minutes from his school, married to the first boy she'd met in college before she'd dropped out. She has two little girls, both with a shock of curly hair, and he knows Marina loves them more than anything, but he also knows she has big regrets. He doesn't see her much anymore, never sees her sing, and her smile never ever reaches her eyes.

Sometimes he cries for her, when he's feeling particularly vulnerable, but unfortunately and truthfully, he doesn't think about her all that much. It's funny how life is, sometimes.

They find something in one another that they'd never known. Blaine feels destroyed sometimes, when he looks at Kurt – he sees a future he's not sure he's ready to know. He sees a life he wasn't sure he'd ever get to have.

Burt Hummel is a strong presence and a strong personality and he loves Kurt very, very much. Blaine knows he's being scrutinized as he sits next to Kurt at the table the following Friday at the Hummel-Hudsons' weekly Friday night dinner. Blaine had spent nearly two hours trying to figure out what to wear, knowing this is when the big "reveal" was going to happen; that Kurt was going to introduce him as the boyfriend this time.

When he'd arrived, though, Kurt's eyes are wide and oh, it's very apparent he's chickening out. Blaine is passed around his small family and there's no introduction of "boyfriend" anywhere, even though Burt and Carole look sufficiently suspicious of his inclusion. Blaine feels like a stranger, like he's the awkward visitor that no one wants, even after Carole hands him the bowl of pasta from across the table and asks him questions about Dalton with a genuinely interested expression.

Blaine's very aware how important this is, this moment he's in. He's Kurt Hummel's first boyfriend, this is the family he might be adopting as his own someday, and everything's changed now. Everything is different and they need to figure all of this out before Kurt transfers back to McKinley in a couple of weeks.

He eats his pasta silently for a bit, aware that Finn is talking about New Directions to his parents and Kurt. Whatever he must be saying must be witty, if not stupidly charming (like Finn tends to be), because Kurt laughs, his real laugh, and he's got this grin on his face that Blaine's captivated by. He catches Kurt's eye and smiles back at him, as if he'd heard and thought it was funny, too. The conversation has ended but he's still looking at Kurt, and he can sense Burt's eyes on them, scrutinizing curiously.

He sees Kurt take a deep breath before he turns to his father.

"This is silly; I've never been afraid to tell you things so I'm not going to start now." He says, and Burt and Carole's eyes widen. Blaine can see Finn fidget a bit next to him.

"Dad, when you asked why Blaine was coming tonight I chickened out. I said it was because he was my friend and that he had no plans because he's lame-"

"Hey!" Blaine sputters a little indignantly, half-heartedly. Kurt rolls his eyes fondly back at him but keeps going.

"He's here because he's my boyfriend now and I wanted my boyfriend to have dinner with my family. That's why he's here."

Blaine has the urge to do something cheesy, like reach over and take Kurt's hand or touch his shoulder or move a little closer but he doesn't, because this situation is silly and cheesy enough. Blaine knows that Kurt's father loves him. He knows he accepts him, and he's not going to throw them out of his house for being together. It's just that this is so important to Kurt, that his father approves of him, that Blaine is terrified, simply terrified that Burt will look back on all of the asinine things Blaine's done so far (breaking Kurt's heart, kissing Rachel, getting drunk, sleeping in his son's bed, breaking Kurt's heart, leading him on, overstepping his boundaries, breaking Kurt's heart) that he's practically shaking in his seat.

Burt's silent and stoic, though, but Carole's definitely, definitely trying not to laugh. She's hiding her face with her hands, ducking her head, and Blaine's eyes must be wide as saucers because when she finally looks up at him, she can't hold it in anymore and is basically hysterically laughing.

"Oh hun," She waves, "Oh hun I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at you – at you and Blaine I swear."

Finn's laughing awkwardly too, not sure what to do, obviously, but it's sort of hard not to smile when Carole just looks so happy. Burt's cracking a smile, too, much to everyone's relief, and it's Kurt that reaches over and takes his hand. Blaine threads his own through Kurt's with a sigh and lets himself smile too, even though he's still not sure what he's smiling about, really.

"You both just looked so scared. Of Burt!" She continues, and suddenly, she's out of her chair and rounding the tables, yanking them both into an awkward upside down hug. She kisses both of them on the cheek and Blaine's face is so red, he knows it.

"Bud, I've known for awhile – not to ruin this moment for you or anything. You two weren't exactly good at hiding it. Besides, kid, I've known you your whole life, don't you think I'd be able to tell when my kid was seeing someone?"

Kurt's smile fades, then, a little, and he nods, obviously relieved.

"I just wanna know, though – " Burt continues. Carole's still standing behind the two of them, one hand on each of their shoulders, and Blaine reaches up to cover hers with his own free hand, grateful for her motherly touch, for her support, when he doesn't really get any of his own. Kurt's eyes are trained on his dad, as he sort of struggles to continue.

"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Burt finally concludes, looking heartbreakingly sincere and sad. Kurt crumbles then and Blaine goes to reach for him but Carole's hand reminds him that this isn't a moment Kurt needs to be comforted, not really. He watches as Kurt launches himself into his father's arms, hugging him tightly, and he sort of has to look away to keep from welling up himself. Finn's still there, sort of in his line of sight, looking a bit lost, a bit uncomfortable, and very much like what he's come to know of Finn from his own interactions with the boy and from what Kurt's told him of him. When he accidentally catches Finn's eyes, Finn does this sort of half smile half shrug and Blaine smiles back, knowing that it's Finn's way of reaching out to him, even slightly.

The rest of dinner is lighter, freer; Blaine doesn't think he's seen Kurt smile the way he has, perhaps, ever. Blaine's not let off the hook completely, getting a sort of teasing finger pointed at him and a semi-joking remark from Burt about not hurting Kurt, but even though Blaine knows the older man means it, he also knows it's his way of saying he's fine with Blaine being with his son.

They eat and talk and tell jokes and it's awkward at times, not perfect, but to Blaine it's incredible. He hasn't eaten with a family since he was nine, and even then, it wasn't even his own family he'd eaten with. He feels desperate, clinging to the people sitting around him at this table – the boy who he knows somehow is the love of his life and that boy's family. He's moved by it, and heartbroken, and feels so so grateful.

When he finally leaves Kurt's that night, after kissing chastely on the porch knowing watchful eyes are always abound, he sits in his car and calls Marina, asking her, when she picks up, if she'd sing for him. She's baffled, confused and a little put out, but under it all, she's still his big sister. She still is moved to indulge him in his whimsies even if they're bizarre and out of nowhere, and he sits there for awhile as she hums, and then sings, and she's out of tune and out of practice but Blaine loves it.

He sits out there until she's done, and they stumble through awkward "how's life?" and in the end he doesn't tell her about Kurt because he's afraid for some reason. He's afraid because his family isn't like Kurt's, even if his sister knows he's gay and loves him anyway. He just doesn't feel the closeness Kurt has to his Dad and even Carole and Finn and telling Marina about Kurt almost feels like telling a stranger, and he's not ready to share Kurt with just anyone. He's not sure he will ever be ready, to be honest.

Kurt was six when his mother died, and he remembers the days that follow her death clearly, like they were yesterday. He can't remember finding out, but he can remember the color of the dress he and his father had picked out for her, and the smell of the flowers during the wake. He remembers sitting quietly next to his dad as well wishers gathered around them. He remembers people looking at him sadly, even though he wasn't quite sure why, because he loved the suit he was wearing, and the bowtie. His daddy had let him pick it out himself and it was this really pretty blue color with silver stars. His hair was immaculate and he liked his new shoes and he was too young to understand what death really meant.

It wouldn't be until later, very much later, that he would be cleaning out the back of his closet and he'd find that bowtie. He'd pick it up and feel silly, and be a little ashamed of himself for being so proud of that outfit even though objectively he knows he was too young to really get it. He'll push the bowtie in a memory box and he'll seal it shut and he'll tuck it back in his closet.

It'll stay there until Kurt moves out of his house officially at 22, after being away at college, and then it'll make the big move to Los Angeles with him, to his next new beginning.

Not many people know this about him, but Blaine's ability to draw is almost superior to his ability to sing and play piano and guitar, which, if you think long and hard about it, is totally insane.

Blaine spends most of his time these days laying belly down on Kurt's bed, sketch pad in hand and colored pencils laid out neatly on a towel ("Don't you get those colors on my bedspread, Blaine Anderson – don't do it!") as he mindlessly draws whatever comes to mind. Sometimes they're of objects – of random items in Kurt's room or of things in the Dalton classrooms he sits by every day, but more recently they're of Kurt. He's got pages and pages of drawings of Kurt – quick sketches, full blown pieces colored and shaded, cartoons and once even a short little animation penciled out in the corner of his math notebook. Kurt doesn't like it, even though he's obviously flattered, even though he's in awe of Blaine's talent, because he still doesn't see himself the way Blaine sees him – tall, confident, scarily beautiful and remarkably charming. Blaine likes drawing Kurt's long angles, the crease of his pants and the length of his legs. He likes spending forever on the small details of Kurt's eyes and making sure he captures Kurt's hands perfectly, the dexterity and strength of them.

Kurt's at his vanity, staring intently at the calendar on the wall beside the mirror as Blaine watches as he leans up to cross off today, Friday. Marked clearly one week from then there's a bright red circle surrounding "BACK TO MCKINLEY!". Blaine puts down his colored pencil and watches Kurt look at the calendar for a moment before his boyfriend flips to the next month, red pen hovering by the 12th. He makes a big red heart around the day and in his pointy handwriting writes, "One Month Anniversary w/ Blaine".

Blaine feels the smile build on his face slowly, and then his eyes are connecting with Kurt's in the mirror. They both grin stupidly at one another for a while until Finn interrupts, standing in the open bedroom door to ask Kurt if he can borrow one of his movies.

In ninth grade, in his all-Catholic private high school, one that's much closer to his house, Blaine was pushed around in the hallway so much that finally one day his bruised torso was hit hard enough against the metal of the corner of one of the lockers that the scrape sliced his skin open. It was low on his stomach, above his hip, and it bled so much that when Blaine finally made it to the nurse's office, he looked like a crazed stab victim the way the blood had soaked through his button-down shirt and soaked his hands. It had lead to six stitches and an uproar amongst the students, many of them thinking Blaine as a drama queen and who had clearly been overreacting.

It also led to his father looking sadly down at him the next morning, a look of pity in his eyes.

"Well maybe if you weren't –" He starts to say, as if it pains him. Blaine's throat feels like it's closing a little, waiting for him to continue.

"If you followed the word of the Lord, Blaine – maybe if you changed," He continues, and the implication has Blaine's head swimming. Their family wasn't even religious; Blaine had only gone through communion and confirmation as a perfunctory requirement to attend school at St. Thomas'. His parents didn't pray; they didn't thank God at meals.

Blaine's always grown up with religion as a safe constant – he attended religion classes in school and was sure there was a God, at least he thought so, who knows? But he didn't pray either, didn't think all about it this much. He also didn't ever have it thrown in his face this way; like it was Blaine's fault that he'd been brutally shoved into sharp metal until he bled.

These days the mark is a faint scar, one that Kurt's currently tracing gently with his thumb. His eyes are on Blaine's, eyes wide and sad and Blaine can't stand to see them that way so he flips them over, lays his head on Kurt's bare chest, their make-out session put on the back-burner for now, forgotten for the story about the scar Kurt had discovered.

"Sometimes I feel like I don't even know you," Kurt says suddenly, and Blaine pushes himself up so his head is on the pillow beside Kurt's. His eyes are wide, he knows, and he feels a bit rough around the edges.

"You know me." He insists, swallowing thickly and wrapping an arm around Kurt's waist and brushing his thumb over Kurt's hip, "You know me better than anyone else in the world."

Kurt's quick to correct himself, pressing his hands to Blaine's five o'clock shadowed cheeks and kissing Blaine's frown away.

"I didn't mean it in a bad way, Blaine. You just aren't as quick to say everything – that includes your past – like I am. It's not bad. I know you, yes. I just feel like I could know you better."

So they talk. And talk. And talk – Blaine tells Kurt about his sweet sister Marina and his brother Gregory from his Dad's first marriage that he's never met. Kurt tells Blaine about the bowtie and the flower smell and his first crush – on Finn, no less – and they kiss a little, but mostly they talk. It gets dark outside and they shrug their shirts back on and cuddle together on Kurt's bed and they continue talking, until dinner, when they join Finn downstairs for pizza. They eventually retreat back up to Kurt's room and to continue talking, and even though Burt's not too happy to see them wrapped up in one another when he gets home, he's not too vexed because the door had been left open and they were just pressed together side by side on Kurt's bed on their bellies going through Blaine's sketch book.

In the end, he lets Blaine spend the night, ("If he sleeps on the floor or the couch downstairs, Kurt."), but pretends he didn't catch them back in bed together, curled up tight, later that night. He lets them get away with it just this once.

"We're going to see Blaine's sister, Marina," Blaine overhears the next morning, when he wakes up to an empty bed. He's creeping down the stairs, following the smell of coffee when he hears Kurt's voice.

"Uh huh," He hears Burt respond. There's a sound of rustling, of newspapers. Blaine remembers Burt likes to read the sports section in the morning. He knows Kurt must be sitting with Burt at the island, sipping his own coffee reading the Arts in return, as he knows that's their weekly Sunday morning tradition.

"Listen, Kurt –" Burt continues, "I dunno if it's my place to ask about this – but Blaine's parents. His family. What do you know about them?"

There's silence for a moment and Blaine slides down the wall to sit on the steps.

"They're – careful." Kurt finally responds. Blaine's face is contorting into something pained, he knows, but he can't begrudge Kurt for sharing this information with his father. Kurt trusts his dad; they share things, and Kurt's right in his assessment of Blaine's family.

"They don't talk all that much. Blaine's dad isn't all that comfortable with him being gay. He has a brother he hasn't met. His sister was his light growing up but she's married with kids now."

And so so sad, all the time, He doesn't add, but he can feel it in Kurt's inflection.

"Dad." He can hear Kurt take a deep breath and the sound of his mug hitting the countertop, "I love him. I always thought I was the one that needed him, but it turns out it might be the other way around. I'm sort of – his family, now, and I guess that makes him an extension of ours. I don't think that's going to change, either – at least not for awhile."

Kurt doesn't tell his father that he thinks Blaine is it for him. He doesn't tell him that he's planning on spending the rest of his life with this boy, because common sense (which most adults like to think they have a handle on) says they will likely grow up and apart at some point. But Blaine knows, and Kurt knows, how they feel. They'd felt it and they'd whispered it to one another hesitatingly the night before, visibly frightened by their own realizations. Kurt doesn't tell his father because Kurt and Blaine are frightened enough about what that means that they're not ready to scare someone else with the weight of their feelings.

"He's always welcome here, bud." Burt replies, "Let him know that, will you?"

He's straining a bit to hear Kurt's response when the sound of footsteps falling behind him on the stairs causes him to scramble up. In his haste he knocks his head against the banister with a resounding 'whack' and he yelps a bit, looking up through squinted eyes to see Finn standing above him in sleep pants and a tee shirt, looking wide eyed and confused.

"What are you doing, dude?" He asks, and Blaine knows he's been caught when Kurt appears at the foot of the stairs.

"I banged my head," He whines pitifully, and Kurt clucks at him, reaching for him to inspect the damage.

The drive to Marina's is longer than expected because there's an accident on the freeway, so they listen to This American Life and sing along to the soundtrack of Next to Normal and Spring Awakening. Kurt thinks Blaine would make a fabulous Melchior, but Blaine likes Moritz better.

"There's something so sad about him, you know?" Blaine says, as "Totally Fucked" winds down, "Sometimes you want to just be sad. He's my sad character."

Kurt doesn't say that he never wants Blaine to be sad, ever, because it's sort of an unrealistic goal, but he thinks it anyway.

"You'd make a good Moritz." He says instead, and returns Blaine's beaming smile.

Marina's house is big, and opulent, and it's all because Marina's husband Leonard works in pharmaceuticals. She explains his job to Kurt like she doesn't really understand what he does either, so Kurt doesn't feel bad that he doesn't quite get it. She's tall, taller than Blaine ("She got that from my Dad's side.") but she looks like Blaine in some ways – with soft curls and a great smile and dark eyes and hair against pale skin. She has a bit more of the Filipino in her, though, than Blaine looks like he does, so she's strikingly exotic looking.

Something's missing in her eyes, though, that Kurt notices immediately.

It's a quiet lunch, filled with grilled chicken and vegetable sandwiches and homemade potato salad and fresh brewed iced tea. For dessert, a fresh fruit salad. The house is quiet, Blaine's nieces out at a play date. It all feels very forced, even if Marina looks at Blaine with compassion and love, unlike his parents, who seem cold and aloof. She has a great laugh when they get her to, and she's absolutely obsessed with Kurt's outfit.

"You two are adorable," She says after they finish recounting Wes and Thad's latest insanity. She seems torn a little, like she wants to say something but feels unsure of whether or not she should. Kurt's not used to that – he's used to his father and Carole and even Finn just blurting out whatever they want to say, damn the consequences, so he's anxious.

She looks at them for a long while, and then reaches out to touch Blaine's cheek.

"You're so handsome, God." She laughs, and then looks at Kurt, "He used to spend hours just following me around like a cute puppy and I loved the attention. Really, I did. You were so sweet and honest, I always felt so bad that I'd left you behind in that house, Blaine."

She keeps her hand pressed to Blaine's face for a bit, and Kurt sees Blaine close his eyes and lean into it. She looks over at Kurt then with a wan smile.

"Be good to each other. Be careful with one another. Don't rush. Look out for yourselves while looking out for one another. Pursue everything you've ever wanted. That goes for the both of you."

They can hear the subtext in her words: Don't end up like me. Don't be unhappy.

They both nod at her words and help her wrap the leftovers and Kurt helps Blaine take a picture of the three of them with his iPhone. When she finally walks them to the door she kisses the two of them on their cheeks and holds them tight. Blaine clings to her longer than Kurt and after a moment, he excuses himself to let brother and sister have a moment together.

When Blaine returns to his car his eyes are wet.

"She's scared for us." He says, starting his Volvo. He doesn't have to say anything else, because Kurt gets it.

During Kurt's last day at Dalton they aren't left alone for more than half a minute. He's consistently surrounded by Warblers and classmates and well wishers and Blaine's content to let him have the spotlight, even if it means giving up time with Kurt on his last day. They have the weekend, and they have the future, and they'll have to do with bigger things than Kurt going to different school than Blaine. In the future they may go to different colleges, they may live in different states. It's best to start now, to understand the separation now.

It doesn't stop Blaine from already feeling lonely without Kurt, even though his boyfriend is only across the room.

When Blaine gets home that afternoon, to change before he heads out to get dinner with Kurt and Mercedes and maybe a handful of other New Directions members, his father is standing in the cold rarely used marble kitchen, Blaine's laptop open in front of him. Blaine feels shocked and jolted, unsure of what the fuck it means – he doesn't lock his computer because his parents don't care enough to look, and while yes, he does have a folder of semi-illicit bookmarks, there's nothing remotely scandalous there.

But it's Blaine's desktop wallpaper he points to when he turns the computer around for Blaine to look – and Blaine's heart stops. There was a photo of him and Kurt, cuddled close on Kurt's bed. They're both in tee shirts and sweats for once and Kurt's hair is mussed and they're swaddled in blankets, and it's one of Blaine's favorite moments because they both look so happy and Kurt's not looking at the camera but at him with this wonderful charmed expression on his face. It was hardly a scandalous photo, no one's hands were roaming and they weren't even cuddled together that closely but it's obvious that they're a couple. Literally anyone could tell they were a couple by that photo.

He's unsure of what his father's expression is and what all this silence means and he's not in any rush to find out. He just hopes that whatever happens doesn't taint his happy memory of that photo because he just loves it so so much.

"Who's this, Blaine?" His father finally says, pushing his glasses up on his nose. Blaine is trying to read the expression in his dad's eyes or the inflection in his voice but he can't – years of not really communicating beyond the attempts his dad made to "bond" with him (unsuccessfully) hasn't made him an expert at it.

"Uh. That's my boyfriend, Kurt." He finally replies, and his bag feels heavy on his shoulder, his heart tight in his chest. Blaine's felt like a grownup so long (even though he never ever really knew what he's doing) that being faced with an adult that has actual authority of his life (if he wanted to, that is) is terrifying.

"Kurt." His father echoes, turning the laptop back to him to look back at the photo, "Boyfriend. How long?"

"About a month, sir." Blaine continues. He feels his phone buzz in his pocket; undoubtedly a text from Kurt wondering if he'd changed and gotten back on the road yet. They'd been planning on going through Kurt's clothes to pick an outfit for Monday when he went back to McKinley with the help of Mercedes before they went out for dinner. He would've already been out the door, he knows – it only takes him ten minutes or so to switch out his uniform for comfortable jeans and a new shirt.

But Blaine's father is holding this all up, still standing and looking at Blaine's computer with this odd expression on his face. Blaine wants to rip the computer from his father's gaze, wants to protect his relationship with Kurt – this man has no right to scrutinize him and his boyfriend – he'd given up that right years ago. He wants to be on his way to spend time with Kurt and his new friends, not in this bizarre limbo. This moment can and most likely change his life forever.

Blaine's father closes the laptop with a soft click and pushes it towards Blaine on the countertop. Blaine watches it, and as it's pushed into his reach, presses his hand over it. His father looks up at him finally.

"Are you happy?" He asks, and it's so random that Blaine knows he must be gaping a bit. He doesn't specify being happy with what – Kurt? Life? The Warblers? Dalton?

"Yes," He responds, and he is, even if he sometimes wishes he had a stronger support system at home, even if he wishes he could've told his dad, or even just his mom, about Kurt long ago. He's happy because he has a boyfriend that loves him and makes him laugh and there's ups and downs but he feels like a real person with real responsibilities and people relying on him, now, not just someone playing grown-up.

Blaine's father nods, looks away.

"As long as you're happy." He says, and it's something, even if it's not much. Blaine has so many questions – what does that mean? Why was he looking on Blaine's laptop anyway? Where do they go from here? But this is the Andersons and they Andersons don't communicate like the Hummels or the Hudsons. They say things in silence.

"We should catch a Buckeyes' game this coming season," His father continues, as he exits the room. Blaine clutches his laptop to his chest and nods.

"Yeah. Of course. I'd like that."

His father pauses in the doorway, avoiding his son's eyes.

"Maybe – maybe you can invite Kurt." He finally says, and then leaves. There's so much soaked in those words, his father silently saying, I'm trying and I want to be a part of your life, and Maybe we can figure something out. Blaine's speechless and he's left standing in the kitchen that he's never cooked nor eaten a meal with his family at, all alone, for awhile.

When he finally makes it on the road, 45 minutes later than he'd wanted to, he calls Kurt and just doesn't say anything for a while. Kurt can tell without Blaine saying anything that something's happened, but he doesn't press him. They listen to one another breathe for a bit; Blaine can hear the hustle of the Hummels' house behind him – the TV on, Finn's voice as he speaks to Carole. He listens and he's thankful and he'll tell Kurt what happened later on as they curl up together, but for now this is enough and Blaine's so so grateful.

On the Sunday before Kurt goes back to McKinley they curl up on the Hummel/Hudson couch and daydream out loud about what it would've been like if they knew each other when they were younger; if they'd met as kids. It's fun, talking about how Blaine would've protected Kurt's sandcastles in the sandbox (before accidentally stepping in them himself), how they would've been the boys who held hands in the daily line-up, even if they didn't understand what it meant, how they would've taken over middle school Drama Club. It's also a little sad because although they can make up as many happy memories that they want, and make as many great ones, it'll never change their past.

Eventually Finn ambles in and interrupts without a bat of an eye, begging for them to play Rock Band with him and they do, even though it's their last afternoon together before they most likely won't see one another for a week. They don't even protest when Puck shows up, and then Sam, and then Artie and Brittany and almost everyone else, because they're laughing and it's a great time, especially since Blaine is heinous at playing the guitar in the game because he's too used to playing a real guitar. Kurt's awesome at it, though, and by the end of the afternoon he's won the betting pool and they all owe him thirty bucks. It's not much but it builds his pride a bit.

No one says anything, no one looks away, and no one cringes when Blaine kisses him quickly after he wins, either, and they both know they've come a long way.

Someday, they'll go to college together in Los Angeles, even though they didn't plan it that way. They'd actually planned on going to different colleges, planned on learning to live with out one another in fear of stifling each other but it doesn't happen. Blaine's gotten into the art and animation program he'd always dreamed of and Kurt's gotten into the producing and development track he'd wanted (with a minor in vocal performance) and it just works out that way.

They meet new people, new friends. They spend time in similar circles and not; the art students are strangely secular and close-knit and Blaine fits in with them painfully well, while Kurt deals with the drama of Drama, but they are still together and still return to one another. There are difficult months and easy months and months where they get in fights that lead to not speaking for days and months where they won't get out of bed because they don't want to leave the feeling of their skin pressed together.

Even later they'll move to an apartment in Silver Lake, a little pricier than they should go for, but the neighborhood's so cute that they can't not do it. They'll drink expensive coffees at hipster coffee shops and Blaine will get a job at Paramount and Kurt will get an agent and they'll be on a tight budget for a while, but that's okay.

In the end, it's as close to 'as happily ever after' as they'll get.

But today:

Kurt gets out of his Navigator with gusto and false bravado the next morning. It's still semi-dark out, winter fading into spring, and he watches the press of the students he hadn't gone to school with in months as they make their way into the front doors. His bag feels heavy on his hip, and even though his outfit is immaculate, he feels stiff and oddly uncomfortable without his Dalton uniform.

He keeps his head high as he walks to the front door, but stops in his tracks when he sees Blaine, standing on the top step of the school, wearing cuffed jeans, really nice boots and the bulky cardigan sweater Kurt had bought for him over a v-neck tee. He looks like he's stepped out of a James Dean movie, stoic and beautiful and dark and handsome, and Kurt's frozen in place.

"Hey there stranger." Blaine calls down to him, meeting him half way. He laughs at Kurt's expression.

Kurt has so many questions – what? Why? How? He's afraid, and he's anxious. He's unsure of what Blaine being there means, he's also terrified of what he thinks it means.

"Oh don't give me that face, babe." Blaine just stretches out his hand for Kurt to take and he goes willingly, threading his fingers through Blaine's, not even caring a bit if there's people looking at them, "Just lead the way. I'm pretty sure we have the same homeroom."

Kurt has so many things to say, so many thinks to protest, so many things to worry about, but at this moment, all he can think to do is grin stupidly at his boyfriend, a smile he's unsure McKinley High has ever seen out of him. It may be the worst idea Blaine's ever had (it won't) and they may regret it (they won't), and they'll probably be knocked around and slushied, but that's a worry for another time. For now, Kurt just leads Blaine into McKinley High, head held high, holding hands with the boy he likes loves, just like every other teenager in the world has the opportunity to do, and he won't ever apologize for it.