AN 1: This is a fic of many firsts. My first Glee fic, my first slash pairing (though it is canon slash, so does that count?), my first fanfiction written in over a year (I work mostly on original stuff now days). Hope you enjoy.

AN 2: This is an AU story, although it starts before Glee season 1. The timelines in Glee are not quite clear, but I assumed that the Pilot episode started a little ways into the beginning of the school year, I am starting before then.

AN 3: Although the focus is supposed to be on Kurt and Burt, Blaine kind of just took over this chapter.


Chapter Title: The One Where Kurt Met Blaine Earlier

Characters: Kurt, Blaine, Burt

Pairings: Klaine

Warnings: a few instances of swearing

Timeline: Pre-Glee/ the beginning of sophomore year pre-pilot

The One Where Kurt Met Blaine Earlier

Kurt had hoped—hoped— that maybe his sophomore year at McKinley would be better than his first. He was only through the first week and he had already been dumpster-tossed thrice and slushied four times. It was like the bullies were trying to make up for all the lost time over the summer. Kurt knew it was cruel to wish that torment on someone else, but he had thought maybe some freshman would be the new target of the bullies, but no such luck so far. He was just stuck out too much.

So Kurt was wallowing not with a pint of ice cream, because he did not want to see that go to his hips, but by shopping, which only hurt his wallet. Mostly his dad's wallet. Kurt had expected his father to protest when he requested use of the credit card to go shopping this weekend. He had only went on a much pleaded for shopping spree two weeks ago, before the school year began. "But I need to get new school clothes," he had argued. Four of those new outfits had been slushified. It was his fault, really, wearing them the first week without testing the waters first. He had just wanted to look fabulous, but no.

Dad had handed over his credit card pretty easily this time. He was pretty stoic, like always, but there was a flash of something else on his face as well. Pity, Kurt might of thought. They never talked about it, but it was pretty obvious when all Kurt did was go to school, come home, occasionally work at the shop, and then use weekend time for solo trips to the mall to shop or see a movie. He didn't have any friends. Kurt thinks that is why his Dad gave him the Navigator for his sweet sixteen over the summer, maybe, after he had asked during a stunted dinner conversation— they didn't have much in common to talk about—if Kurt had wanted a party. Kurt just bit his lip, stared at his plate, and wanted to cry but didn't. Because the truth was that yes he had wanted a party. All he could think of was all the great different parties he could have planned: a garden party in the back yard with wonderful finger foods and twinkle lights swung between the branches of the trees; or a formal dinner party where everyone dressed in their finest and drank sparkling cider out of wineglasses and pretended to be sophisticated adults; or an all night musical movie marathon with plenty of pizza and gossip and makeovers included… "No," was all Kurt could mutter, his hands in tight fists on his legs under the table. There was no one to invite.

This all resulted in him having a very expensive car he could drive himself to the mall in and him standing at a rack for a good five minutes, fondling a purple and black checkered scarf as he was lost in thought.

"I would go with the teal one, personally."

Kurt dropped the scarf from his fingers and turned suddenly on spot. He expected to see a sales associate, someone in the stores uniform with one of the headsets in one ear like the store was really that important that all the employees needed to be in constant contact, like they weren't in a mall in the middle of Ohio. But rather there was a boy about Kurt's age, more surprisingly about Kurt's height—he was still waiting for that growth spurt that would give him at least a few more inches. This boy was wearing carpenter jeans and button-down brown shirt, which was simple yet somehow still amazing, and had a head full of unruly black curls.

Kurt wasn't used to guys his own age talking to him without it being an insult. He had been pegged pretty early on as different, as queer, and guys didn't want that reputation rubbing off on them. So Kurt went into super-bitch mode, which was his default setting for the majority of his human interactions at this point.

"That's clearly turquoise. Teal is more green based… and really, this," he pinched the turquoise scarf that had been hanging next to his preferred purple one between his pointer and thumb and held it up in disgust, "is better than the color of royalty?"

This amount of attitude was usually enough to send innocent bystanders running and any bullies pretending to be friends for some kind of jokes into revealing themselves. This guy didn't do either. Rather, he chuckled, and not in the "I am totally going to throw you in a dumpster right now" way.

He closed the space between them and then was standing beside Kurt, playing with his beloved turquoise scarf on the rack. "I like it," he said, tilting his head and not looking at Kurt for a moment. "It's nice and bright." Then he turned to Kurt "Plus, it would bring out your eyes."

Kurt opened his mouth and then closed it. Was that flirting? That sounded an awful lot like flirting. What was he supposed to do? Kurt didn't know how to flirt. He never flirted in his life. All he did know how to do was stare at that Finn-character at school he had a crush on, but he had never said more than two words to him.

Luckily, whoever this guy was, decided to fill in the blank. "I'm Blaine."

"Kurt."

Blaine dropped the scarf he had been playing with. "You really like the purple better?" he asked with raised eyebrows, which Kurt was now staring at. They were strangely…triangular. Kurt would plucked and shaped the crap out of them if they were on his head, but on Blaine they looked good.

He gave a one-shouldered shrug. "Well, I'm not totally sold on checkers as a pattern. As a board game, sure, but a pattern…"

Blaine was chuckling again and Kurt was left pondering if he was really that funny. Was that who he was, a funny guy? He never really got to try out his caustic wit on situations where he was not verbally berating people who were like pushing lockers or such bullshittery.

"Well, if you're not," Blaine said and he tugged the purple scarf off its rack and tossed it around his shoulders, a wicked grin on his face. It looked awkward, with the plastic ring it was knotted around as a hanger and the price tag sticking out.

Kurt gasped. "You just stole my fashion advice."

"You weren't going to use it."

Kurt didn't know how it happened, but he ended up grappling with Blaine over the scarf, although always conscious not to rip it, because if he didn't respect clothes than he didn't know who he was as a human being. Somehow he ended up behind Blaine and one of his arms was twisted behind his back and one of Kurt's was over his shoulder at an odd angle.

Someone cleared their throat. Kurt and Blaine paused and looked to their left. This time it was a sales associate. It was a slim woman in her mid-twenties. She had her arms crossed over her chest. The two untangled their limbs. Blaine released his grip on the scarf. Kurt hung it up on the rack.

"Leave the store, leave the store," Blaine muttered under his breath as the two scurried quickly out of the store without making eye contact them with anyone.

"Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap," Kurt was whispering to himself as they walked away from the store.

"Yeah, sorry," said Blaine sheepishly. "You might want to avoid going in there for a few…months."

But that was not the only thing Kurt was holy crap-ing about. He was holy crap-ing over the fact that he had basically just gotten in a wrestling match with a boy – a really cute boy, Kurt really should have mentioned that first and foremost— that he didn't even know beyond a name and color preferences. The worst part is that Kurt didn't really know what that meant.

But this guy was still walking with him, apologizing about ruining his shopping trip but not seeming all that upset about it.

"You're not from Lima, are you?" Kurt asked suddenly, inadvertently cutting off Blaine. Kurt hadn't noticed him at McKinley before, but he could be a freshman or a transfer student. Only a week into a school year, Kurt couldn't have learned all the new faces yet, even if they were people he probably wouldn't ever converse with. If Blaine did go to McKinley he would know, or be quick to learn, that Kurt was at the bottom of the social heap and hanging out with him would only drag him down. And when he said bottom, he meant bottom. Down there with snakes like Jacob Ben Israel, although his gossip-mongering blog was gaining him notoriety, if not likeability.

Blaine shook his head. "I'm from Westerville. My mom drove here to meet up with some friends. They are eating at some restaurant in here. She brought me along to wonder around a mall in a teenage haze… actually, I'm supposed to be buying new gym shoes…"

Then Blaine was offering to buy Kurt a smoothie to make up for ruining his shopping trip, which sounded awful date-like to Kurt, but that couldn't be what was happening. Cute boys with curly hair and bright eyes just didn't smile like that at Kurt. He discreetly pinched himself on his side. So he wasn't dreaming, but he wasn't quite sure that this wasn't cruel prank or that this guy was going to run away soon as his senses caught up with him and ran way when he realized Kurt was…different. But things like this didn't happened to Kurt Hummel and he will be damned if he runs away from whatever this is even if he was risking giving up his hopes.

"Okay," Kurt said, and it came out a lot more vulnerable than he wanted. Everything he said was usually said behind a shield. He was half-tempted to follow up with a snarky, "It's the least you can do," with his nose turned up in the air, but then Blaine was beaming, positively beaming at him and all those words got caught somewhere in Kurt's chest.

"Let's go," Blaine said then he reached out and grabbed Kurt's hand and started pulling him along, weaving him through the crowd and the pathways and even down a flight of stairs to the smoothie kiosk. At first Kurt blanches, because he knows what he is even if he has never told anyone and this sort of PDA was something he would be destroyed for in school. But after that sudden surge of fear passed he realized that this was very, very nice…holding hands with a boy.

Blaine insisted on paying for the smoothies even as Kurt put up a mild, half-hearted protest. Kurt mentioned offhand that the girl working the smoothie kiosk looked like a young Kristen Chenoweth and doesn't expect anything from it. He doesn't really have a lot of friends at school. He gets along with that Mercedes girl who was in a couple of his classes, but she was more into R&B than Broadway and if he said something like that to his dad he would get nothing but a confused look in return.

But Blaine said: "Oh my God, I love her." And then started their giant discussion about musicals as they sipped their smoothies and wandered the mall. After they were done and ditched their foam cups in a trash bin, Kurt helped Blaine pick out new sneakers in a Footlocker, although Kurt, great taste in shoes he could brag about, wasn't the best at picking out practical shoes for a gym class.

Kurt was smiling and laughing so much his face hurt. He couldn't remember the last time he laughed or smiled like this. Then Blaine started humming along to some pop song that was being played over the store's radio system and Kurt's falling, oh goodness he is, because he never did emotions lightly.

A ring tone chimed and Blaine slipped a phone out of his jeans pocket. He read something on the screen and said, "Oh, my mom is ready to go. She's pulling up the car. I need to meet her at the main entrance…" He glanced up under his eyelashes at Kurt. Kurt sucked his lips into his mouth. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and looked at the time for an excuse not to look at Blaine. It had been an hour and a half since they had met. Now his day dream was about to end.

"I'll walk you to the door," Kurt said, because he wanted those last moments and Blaine had made all the moves today and he wanted to reciprocate.

Blaine paid for his shoes at the cash register. They walked out of the store, being next to each other, but a reasonable distance apart. Kurt wished that Blaine would grab his hand again. As they neared the front door, Blaine looked at him out of the corner of his eyes and said, "I had a nice time today. It was nice meeting you."

"Yeah, me too."

The large, glass front doors were just a few yards away when he stopped walking and turned to Kurt. For the first time Blaine, in all his charming glory for the last hour and a half, seemed uncertain. "Do you want to maybe…exchange numbers, so, y'know," Blaine stared at the floor and shuffled his feet and Kurt just fell a little farther. He didn't think anyone had ever been nervous to ask him for something before. "We could talk about musicals and appropriate scarf colors again," Blaine finished off before glancing back up.

Kurt did an uneven nod. He really couldn't talk.

Blaine motioned at a narrow hallway that lead to the lesser used bathrooms of the mall, compared to the ones at the food court. Kurt followed just into the mouth of it. He wasn't sure why they were there, maybe to get out of the walk way. They exchanged phones and typed in their names and numbers. They gave their phones back and each tucked them in their jeans pockets. They stood their awkwardly for a moment. Kurt was about to initiate goodbyes when Blaine leaned forward and kissed him. It was nothing crazy, no wandering hands or tongue, just lips pressed against lips, but Kurt's brain still went fuzzy.

A moment later Blaine had pulled back and Kurt was kind of gapping, like a fish, and it probably wasn't very attractive, but, hell, he just got kissed and…

"What?" Kurt managed to stuttered out.

Blaine looked uncertain again, and even more, a little scared. "You—I mean, I thought…you're gay, right?"

Kurt gulped and his hands curled into fists at his sides, his nails cutting into his palms. He glanced to either side, lowered his voice, he said, "I've never told anyone before."

"Oh," Blaine said and he looked like he wanted to say more, but then his phone rang again. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and glanced at the screen. He looked back up at Kurt. "My mom is wondering where I am." He looked apologetic as he said it.

"Okay," Kurt said in a breathy voice. Why couldn't he breathe properly at the moment?

"I wasn't lying before. I do want to talk to you again."

"I hope you do," Kurt said and he didn't know where that came from, because, yeah, he meant it, but he wasn't really forming coherent thoughts at the moment. He could feel himself smiling.

Blaine was smiling too and Kurt's hearting was banging in his chest.

"Cool… I'll call you tonight, but," he glanced off to the side, "but I really do have to go now."

Kurt nodded. They said some awkward goodbyes and Kurt watched after Blaine as he walked out the front entrance, slumped against the wall. He stayed there for about five minutes after Blaine was gone, body feeling like jelly.

Kurt didn't want to do any more shopping. This was surprising for Kurt. He loved shopping and hadn't even bought anything today. But, of course, he remembered he had come out shopping to make himself feel better and he had never felt better than right now. He had been kissed, by a really cute boy who liked musicals and who liked him. He had sort of come out to someone for the first time. He hadn't actually said the words "I'm gay," but he had answered affirmative to the question.

Kurt suddenly felt like squee-ing and jumping up and down, but he was in public, so that really wouldn't work. Next thing he knew he was in his car and starting on his ride home. He was about halfway home when he had to pull over to the side of the road. Once he had set his parking break, he screamed in the pure joy and did a little dance in his seat as best he could. After he was supplicated, he finished his drive home.

When he walked in the front door, his dad was on the couch watching some football game on the television.

"How was your trip?" he asked absently.

"Fine," Kurt said. He slipped his dad's unused credit card on the endtable without a word and went down to his basement bedroom.

Blaine called around 9:30. Kurt was already in his pajamas because he had no plans after his dinner with his father. So all he did was curl up on his bed and hold his cell phone to his ear and smile until it felt like his face was ready to crack off. They ended up talking about music and singing and how Blaine could play like five instruments…and oh my god, could this guy be any more perfect except for the liking Katy Perry more than Lady Gaga, but he could deal with that.

They made plans to meet up next weekend and shot texts back and forth throughout the week. Kurt was walking on clouds. It was enough to get him through another miserable week of dumpster tosses, locker shoves, no friends, and not being quite sure how to talk to his father.

"It's like," Blaine said, pressing his hands to his chest and then lifting them up to a touchdown position.

Kurt nodded, leaning forward slightly over the table. It seemed weird to be having this conversation in the middle of the food court in the mall, but they were tucked away in a two person table in the corner and no one was near them. It was still fairly early and there weren't many lunch-goers yet.

"I mean, I have only come out to my brother, my mom, and this friend at school who's also gay, but coming out is amazing. Just to say it out loud, just to tell someone… and I know once it gets out at school there are going to be some people who are jerks about and my dad is kind of old-fashioned, so he is probably going to take it a little hard, but…" Blaine shrugged. "I don't know. I just can't not be who I am."

"That's amazing," Kurt said and he meant it. He would love to be able to be out and proud. To tell his dad. But Kurt didn't have a little brother or a mom. He just had is dad, and if he didn't accept Kurt, it would be all over. It would break him. He was just too scared.

"So what about you?" asked Blaine, cocking his head to the side. "Am I really the only person you've told?"

Kurt took a sip of his coffee and nodded.

"So, are you thinking of…never mind. I don't want to sound like I am pressuring you, I know it is really hard and personal."

"No," Kurt said suddenly, "It's fine… I guess I think about it every day. I've just never been able to work up the nerve." His voice waivered at the end there and he stared at the table, because Kurt didn't like looking weak in front of other people. It was why he was ready with sarcastic comments for the bullies at school. But it really wasn't too bad now, when it ended with Blaine reaching across the table to grab his.

"It's okay," Blaine said. Kurt looked up and their eyes met. He couldn't look away and neither of them did for a good minute.

Kurt finally broke the moment looking away. "What is this?"

"What's what?"

Kurt stared pointedly at their conjoined hands on the table top and Blaine seemed to get it. Kurt added anyway, "And last week, you kissed me… What does that mean?"

"I like you." Kurt shifted in his seat, but Blaine continued on without hesitation, "I've just come out. I'm finally allowing myself to like boys, hold hands with boys, to kiss boys… to date boys."

Kurt's head jerked up at that. "Are you serious?"

Blaine's face was tinged pink now and Kurt was glad that he wasn't the only person navigating the waters of, well, high school romance, for the first time and rather awkwardly. "If you want to…"

"Sounds good," Kurt responded, and both of their faces were red and neither of them could look at each other, but they didn't pull their hands apart.

There was a sign-up sheet for Glee Club on the bulletin board. That creep Mr. Ryerson got fired, so Kurt thought that it may be a decent club to get involved in now and he liked singing, so he signed up. It was taught by Mr. Schue, and other than his questionable taste in sweater vests and his obliviousness of walking past dumpstering, he seemed to be a pretty decent guy. There were only five members at first. Artie, who was in Kurt's science and history classes. They weren't really friends, but they got paired up a lot for group projects and got along amicably. There was also Tina, who Kurt had previously labeled in his head as the goth Asian chick. He had never heard her talk before so when she opened her mouth and stuttered, Kurt was a little surprised and a little not. Mercedes was another who he wasn't close to but got along with in classes. She had some real potential when it came to clothes, but Kurt would have help her with refining her taste. Lastly was Rachel Berry, who everyone in the school, including him, knew whether they wanted to or not. She very loud, a walking fashion disaster, a total diva, and damn talented. They were all talented, to Kurt's pleasant surprise. He had always gotten an Aretha vibe from Mercedes and had heard Rachel before in the previous failed incarnations of the glee club, but quiet Tina and nerdie Artie were out of nowhere.

Then, later that week, something sort of impossible happened and Finn Hudson, quarterback of the football team, had joined glee. He was a good singer, still very cute, if a bit dunce, and Kurt realized that in another lifetime, one where Blaine hadn't magically appeared the first weekend into the school year, this probably would have been something Kurt was really excited about… to have his crush so close. They only shared one class, in which Finn sat surrounded by other football players that Kurt wouldn't go anywhere near. Kurt was in mostly accelerated classes and Finn, well, wasn't. It was a good thing on many levels, because now that he was not blinded by infatuation he could see how straight Finn was. It had also taught him not to through around the word love lightly. What he had for Finn was never love, just infatuation. But with Blaine…Kurt thinks he might just be falling in love.

He talked to Blaine about glee club, which was slowly turning out to be cooler and more fun than he thought it would be. And suddenly there are cheerleaders and football players joining left and right, which was weird, but okay. He really liked it though. He was making friends. People he could sit with at lunch and hang out with after school sometimes. Mercedes was all kinds of awesome…except for that time she had a crush on him. She ended up being the only other person he told he was gay. Good thing, because she looked about ready to break his windshield. He hadn't told her about Blaine though. He was Kurt's secret.

"I wish there was something like that I my school," Blaine lamented. Blaine's school was showchoir free. He was in band though. It was not the first time that Kurt heard Blaine say something like that, but there was currently a certain edge to is voice that is off.

"Is everything okay?" he asked Blaine, clutching his phone closer to his ear like that could somehow bring him closer to his boyfriend. Squee…boyfriend. After dating for a few weeks they had decided on that label.

Blaine sighed into the phone and it came across as a bunch of static. "You know my whole…gay thing…got out and is now common knowledge among the student population…"

"Yeah, those things tend to travel…"

"I just— I just didn't think people would be this bad. This is supposed to be the twenty-first century, y'know?" He sounded too sad and Kurt wanted nothing more than to hug him, but unfortunately he was a two hour drive away.

"I know. I'm sorry," Kurt said, exuding as much sympathy as he could with just his voice. He did know, to some extent. He wasn't out, but he was different and most people assumed he was anyway that he got a lot of similar bullying treatment. Blaine knew that. They had talked about the unfairness of high school life not long ago.

"Knowing I'm going to be seeing you this weekend is the only thing getting me through this week," Blaine said and Kurt couldn't fight the grin that crept onto his face. It was hard with Blaine living so far away. But at least he always had weekend plans, otherwise he would probably being planning how to remake Beyonce music videos. He had peculiar ideas when he was bored. Actually, that wasn't a peculiar idea at all. He could wear sequins. And maybe ask a couple of the girls from glee if they wanted to be his back up dancers... Kurt shook his head. It would have been a great Saturday activity if it wasn't for Blaine. And damn, Kurt was glad about Blaine.

It was Thursday night, meaning Kurt only had to suffer through one more day of school before he got to see Blaine again, and he lounged on the couch watching Project Runway. Dad came in. He was in his pajama pants and a t-shirt, which meant he probably just got out of the shower. He sat down on the opposite side of the couch and didn't try to reach for the remote. The father and son basically had nothing on television that they both enjoyed watching so they got used to trying not to complain and working around each other's schedules. This way Burt got to see his football and baseball games as well as the Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers and Kurt got his award shows, primetime television dramas, Project Runway, and America's Next Top Model.

Burt waited for a commercial before speaking up. "You going out again this weekend?" he asked.

"Yeah," said Kurt, glancing from the screen to his dad. "Is that a problem?"

"No, no," Burt said quickly. "It's nice to see you hanging out with friends. "

Kurt felt a twinge of guilt at that. He had been lying to his father about his weekend outings. He was always with Blaine, but said he was hanging out with Mercedes or Tina. He did hang out with them, and even Brittany once, which was weird, because he hadn't invited her. She was a rather odd girl, but Kurt was surprised to learn that she wasn't mean. She just hung out with a bunch of mean Cheerios. Get her away from Quinn and Santana and she was rather sweet if incredibly dim. Regardless, he never hung out with any of them on Saturday. That was his day with Blaine. And Kurt just told Mercedes and Tina, and sometimes Brittany, that Saturday was his family dad with his dad and it all worked out.

"Yeah," Kurt said.

"And with that, ahhh, singing club at school you seem…happier."

Kurt nodded. Something was stuck in his throat. Glee club was great, but that was not the only reason Kurt was happier nowadays.

Burt shifted in his seat, glanced at the television screen to make sure the commercials were still rolling, and continued after clearing his throat. "You can really, y'know, be yourself."

His dad had emphasized that last part oddly and then paused afterwards in a way Kurt thought he was supposed to interpret as significant, but for the life of him he didn't know what the man was trying to be significant about.

The supposedly significant silence continued.

"O-kay," Kurt said slowly.

Burt shifted on the cushion again and left out an exasperated sigh through his nose. Instead of looking at Kurt, he stared at a spot on the carpet halfway across the floor. "Look, what I am trying to say is that you're in high school now. You're growing up. Things start changing and…stuff. So, I'm saying…I'm saying that you can talk to me."

Kurt was staring, wide-eyed, at the side of his dad's head. This was the most meaningful conversation they had in a while, even if one-sided and Kurt was still clueless to what brought it on and what it was all about. Burt stood and walked around the back of the couch. As he passed Kurt, he ruffled his hair. Kurt would usually complain about anyone touching his hair. That one time Brittany was over she had wanted to braid it and Mercedes and Tina thought that just because he was allowed to style their hair in makeovers that they were allowed to style his, that was, until he set them straight. But the motion had been so absently affectionate that Kurt kept his lips sealed.

It was after his and his dad's Friday Night Dinner, around eight when Blaine called. Kurt had been expecting him to call, but he hadn't been expecting him to be near tears. Apparently Blaine had been using his mother's car – Blaine did not have his own despite coming from a wealthy family, it was supposed to be character building to save up money to buy his own or something— to run some errands for her and it had been vandalized with spray-painted gay slurs and four slashed tires. That was horrible enough. Before this the bullying hadn't really left school grounds and hadn't affected his family's life.

But worse was Blaine's dad. "He's such an ass," Blaine said. He sounded angry, but Kurt also heard him sniffling. "He's acting like it is my fault. My fault for being his fag son."

Blaine spat out that word like venom and Kurt flinched, even over the phone, even though it was not directed at him.

"Don't say that," Kurt said first and then a sense of horror dawned over him. "He didn't say that did he?"

"No…he didn't have to."

Then Blaine was choking up again. And it is horrible because Blaine had been Kurt's rock, an inspiration, all out and proud and amazing. Now he is crying over the phone about his un-accepting father, the cruelty of his peers and of the world, and how now, with a car down and his stubborn father, that he wouldn't even be able to come and see Kurt tomorrow. "And, God, I really need to see you right now."

Kurt didn't even need to think about what he said next. He knew he would be breaking about five different rules and his dad's trust. But he needed to do this. Sometimes the right thing was against the rules. "I can come to you."

"Tomorrow?"

"No, now."

"Kurt, it's like a two hour drive and already late."

"But you need me."

"…I do."

"Then I'll be there."

Kurt crept out silently out of his basement bedroom, keys already tucked into his jeans pocket in order to keep them from jingling. Dad was asleep on the couch. It was only nine-thirty, but he worked hard all week and tended to fall asleep early. He would wake up a few hours later and if Kurt turned out his light and closed the door, he wouldn't disturb him. He went out the backdoor, where it would be easier to close and lock the door without waking up his father, although he slept like the dead. He would have to if Kurt was to get away with starting his giant Navigator right by the side of the house.

When it was one and half hours later, Kurt pulled onto one of the side roads of the park where the two had agreed to meet. He made the drive faster than expected for the low traffic and high urgency. Blaine was standing there, alone, in the dark, arms crossed defensively over his chest and shoulders shrugged up. He looked shrunken. Kurt hopped out of his seat and didn't bother to close the car door after himself. He was too concerned with closing the distance between him and his boyfriend.

Next thing he knew, Blaine was latched onto him, arms tightly cinched around him in a hug, chin resting on his shoulder. Kurt wrapped his arms around him back and squeezed him tightly. He didn't even realize when he started mumbling "It's okay" and "it's going to be alright" over and over again in a litany that didn't really mean anything, because it definitely wasn't okay and he had no way of knowing or promising that the course of events would turn out alright. But he said because he wanted it to be true and Blaine needed to hear it and wasn't that what people were supposed to say in circumstances like this.

After the very long moment of them clinging together, Blaine eased up his hold and Kurt took his clue. He stepped back, but not far. Blaine's hands were still on Kurt's upper arms and somehow Kurt's hands were resting on Blaine's waist.

"Thanks for coming," Blaine said. His voice was hoarse. Kurt realized it was probably from crying.

Kurt nodded. "It's cold. Let's get in the car."

The two got into the back seat of Kurt's car where they could be closer on the bench seat than in the front. They sat hip-to-hip and were holding hands, fingers intertwined, and they talked some more. They whispered, even though no one was around. After a while, there were no more words.

Blaine leaned forward, closing the few inches of space between them, and pressed his lips against Kurt's. Kurt pretended he didn't taste Blaine's tears.

Kissing wasn't new, but this type of kiss was. It was desperate and heavy and passionate, and not quite so sweet or chaste as the others shared had been. They were both only sophomores in high school and neither had dated before and they were used to the world telling them that what they felt was wrong. They had been taking slow. This wasn't slow; this was charged.

The kiss became open-mouthed and tongue was involved. It was sloppy and awkward, because this was new, but neither paused. Their hands began to wander, nowhere dangerous and completely over clothes, but more than they ever had before. Over chests, up arms, down backs, and fingers racking through hair. They shifted in position and Kurt was sitting leaned back against the side door with Blaine's hand cupped around the back of his neck.

He kissed Kurt on the mouth, then the corner of his mouth, then his jaw, then his neck. This was definitely new. There were even teeth involved and Kurt gasped when he felt them, but it wasn't a bad gasp.

After a moment Blaine stopped and collapsed against Kurt, his forehead in the nook of Kurt's neck. Kurt could feel Blaine's warm breath on his skin and feel his heart beating in his chest. They stayed there, like that, just breathing together, and somehow this was more intimate than anything they had just done.

"Thank you for coming, Kurt," Blaine said for about the dozen-th time that night. Kurt nodded. There was a silence and then Blaine continued. "I'm so glad I met you. I can't imagine going through this alone."

It was well after three in the morning by the time Kurt was back in Lima and parking in his driveway. He was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. It was weird, though, even with how bad things were, Blaine being bullied and Kurt in the closet, Kurt had realized something on the way home. He loved Blaine. He loved him and he wanted him to be happy more than anything. It was a bittersweet realization, because for how genuine Kurt s feelings were, he had very little ability to help Blaine in his current situation, except to be a shoulder to cry on.

Kurt was careful to unlock the door quietly, even if he did expect that his dad would already be upstairs, in bed, asleep, very much where Kurt wanted to be. He was too tired and too placated to really think it weird that the lights in the living room where still obviously on through the front windows when dad always turned them off before going up to bed.

Kurt took care to lock the front door behind him even as his eyelids were dropping. He sighed and dropped his forehead against the wood of the door.
A throat was cleared behind him and then a voice said, "Kurt."

He jolted in shock and turned around swiftly to see his dad standing there, looking none too pleased. Kurt gulped.

"Dad," he said, being tired now the last thing on his mind.

Neither said anything for a while.

"I can't believe you, Kurt," Burt finally said. He wasn't yelling, but he didn't have to be for Kurt to have his heart beating so haggardly and nervously. "It's almost four in the morning! You snuck out to do God knows what. Without a note or answering your cell phone, so I didn't even know if you were alive."

At that Kurt patted his pants pockets, realizing that his cell phone must have fallen out of his pocket in his car sometime during the trip. He always almost left it on vibrate, a habit of not getting caught with it at school. He couldn't imagine what it must have been like for his dad to wake up with his son missing, his son's car missing, and his son not answering his cell. He felt guilty.

"Plus, you're still on your provisional license. You're not allowed to drive after midnight. You broke the law!"

"I'm sorry, Dad," Kurt said. He felt like he was ready to cry, although he forced himself to hold back. Blaine's life was a mess at the moment and now Burt was upset with him and Kurt couldn't even tell him the truth. Or at least, not most of it. "I'm really, really sorry, but…" He bit his lip before considering saying the next part. If his dad questioned for specifics Kurt would be forced to lie or tell the whole truth, and Kurt didn't want to do either. "I had a friend who was having a crisis and they needed me for emotional support."

"Who?" Dad asked first, crossing his arms, "That Mercedes girl? And why couldn't wake me up to tell me that? Do you think I wouldn't have understood?"

Kurt looked at his feet because he couldn't stand looking at his father then. He picked at the hem of his jacket. He wasn't ready for this conversation yet. "Not Mercedes. And I wasn't thinking."

"You right you weren't thinking," his dad supplied. It was such a parent-y thing to say. "Because the Kurt I know would have never pulled a stunt like this."

"I'm sorry," Kurt said again and it came out in a whisper.

Burt sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. "Okay, um, let's go to bed now. We'll continue this conversation once we've both had some sleep and it's daylight out."

Kurt nodded, it was a temporary reprieve at best, but one he would take advantage. He turned towards the coat racket and shrugged off his jacket. Then dad said,

"Is that a hickey?"

Kurt's eyes widened in horror as he slapped his hand over the place on his neck were Blaine had been… Oh, Gaga, his first hickey. Under any circumstances it would have been embarrassing and awkward for his father to see it, but in these circumstances it was more like mildly horrifying.

"Ummm," was all Kurt could manage to stutter out.

"Wait, wait, wait," said Burt, starting to pace, busying his hands with adjusting his cap, by the bill, on his head. "You were out getting…hickeys, and you just lied to me about what you were doing."

"It wasn't a lie. My friend really needed help, and I had to go all the way to Westerville—"

"You drove all the way to Westerville and back this late at night! I thought you were in town at least— "

Kurt winced. He had just added one more tick mark to the list of his deviances tonight by supplying that little detail.

"But that's not the point," Burt said, continuing his rant and his pacing. "The point is that you snuck out, drove to Westerville," it seems he really wasn't over that detail, "To go, I don't know, see some guy," he waved a hand distractedly in the air, "and then didn't get back until four in the morning, and then lied about it."

"I'm not lying!" Kurt yelled back, and then paused and rewound what his dad just said. His dad just said something about him seeing a guy. His mind went from hickey to a boy causing them. And he didn't seem to care. It had been said so offhand amongst Kurt's other offenses.

Kurt must have looked stunned or been wearing some odd expression, because his dad noticed, stopped pacing and asked, "Wha—" and realization dawned on him as recalled his words, and said, "Oh."

"You—you know?"

Burt shrugged. "Since you were three. For your birthday you asked for sensible heals."

Kurt nodded. This is not how he had expected his conversation to go. He had expected more shouting or name-calling or being thrown out of the house. He had severely underestimated his father.

"And," Kurt said, testing the water, "You're okay with…it?" He decided that it wasn't strong enough and clarified, "With me…being gay?"

"It's my job to love you no matter what, Kurt. I don't understand it. It's not what I expected when you born, but if it's who you are, it doesn't matter. You're still my kid."

Kurt nodded and bit his bottom lip to try and keep from crying. "Really?"

"Yeah. What else I am supposed to do."

Kurt really should have done something, like hugged his dad. Neither made a move, even as this profound moment in their relationship just occurred, they still stood on opposite sides of the room.

Burt hmmed and looked at his wristwatch. "I really don't think either of us is going to get a good night's sleep tonight. Now, Kurt, you say you weren't lying, so I want you to give you this chance to tell me the truth of what happened."

"Okay."

"Why don't we sit down," Burt said with a nod towards the couches. They took seats on opposite ends of a couch.

"I really was helping a friend," Kurt paused, "My boyfriend."

"He's not like nineteen and rides a motorcycle?" asked Burt.

Kurt almost smiled at the odd concern. "No, he's my age."

Burt gave him a look.

"And he doesn't ride a motorcycle."

Kurt explained what happened. How his boyfriend had called him, upset over the vandalism and his distant father – Burt's fist tightened on the armrest at that. How Kurt had been the one to suggest the late night trip. And how things— and both of their faces were red with embarrassment – had gotten a little heated, but they weren't doing anything more than kissing, and they wouldn't be for a long time, so "Dad, please can we not have that conversation right now."

"So, this boy…"

"Blaine," Kurt supplied.

"Blaine," Burt said, testing it out, "he's good to you?"

"He's amazing, dad. A complete gentleman, I swear."

"You know I'm going to have to meet him, right?" Burt said.

Kurt hadn't thought about that honestly. Of course, he was so used to hiding Blaine from his dad that it wasn't really he had considered before, but it was normal, really, for a boyfriend to meet your parents.

"We could have him over for our next Friday night dinner, that is, if I'm not grounded…" It was a coy, leading question.

Burt responded: "We'll talk about it after we sleep." Kurt knew that meant he was getting off easy, and that was a cue for it being time for them to go to bed.

Both stood, Kurt making the way towards the door to his basement bedroom and Burt towards the steps that when upstairs.

"Kurt," Burt called to him and the boy stopped with his hand on the doorknob and twisted halfway around. "One more question… how long?"

"I met him after my first week of school."

"And you didn't tell me…?" It could have been statement but for the look on Burt's face.

"That's two questions, Dad."

"Kurt."

"… I was scared."

"Kurt, you never have to be scared to come to me about anything. You know that, right? "

"I do now."