A/N: Sorry for the delay guys! My beta was having excellent Swiss adventures with her family for a bit and couldn't get the internet on her laptop to work until she got home. But never fear, Chapter 20 is here!

The next one should actually be a lot faster since I finished this one around the 25-26th and have been writing 21 off and on since then!

Look for more soon ish! Enjoy!


Go Your Own Way

Chapter 20

Never before had Kurt been nervous to go upstairs into his kitchen for breakfast. He straightened his outfit one final time, checked his hair in his mirror, and grabbed his backpack. From the bathroom he heard the shower turn on, and for one crazy moment he wanted to rush inside and join Blaine. But he knew he couldn't. Finn was already suspicious because of the noises he had heard earlier, although he had seemed too tired to think much about it, and with Kurt's luck his father or Carole would come down to see what was taking them so long.

Sighing sadly, he left Blaine to take his shower alone and ascended the stairs slowly, dreading what his father might say after last night. He hadn't even realized anyone had been standing there watching them until Carole had moved forward to take Blaine's pocket knife, and then he'd had other things to worry about besides his father's potentially volatile reaction to a few soft, comforting kisses. It wasn't as though his father wasn't aware of their relationship, but he wasn't aware of the extent of their physical intimacy. Kurt was sure he'd get some sort of lecture about last night following his father's realization about just how close they actually were. When he entered the kitchen Finn was already stuffing his face, Burt was glaring at his own healthy meal and eyeing the growing stack of pancakes longingly, and Carole was pouring the last of the batter into the pan.

"Good morning, honey," Carole greeted cheerfully, shooting him a small smile as she tended to the last pancake.

"Morning," Kurt replied, making his voice sound much brighter than normal as he tried to hide his nerves. Burt looked up from his bowl as Kurt squeezed his shoulder and dropped his bag by his own chair.

Burt grunted sleepily in acknowledgement and glanced past Kurt. His eyebrows knitted together in confusion as Kurt took his seat and grabbed some toast. "That boy's not still sleeping is he?"

Startled, Kurt paused in buttering his toast and had to replay his father's words in his head in order to figure out who he was talking about. "Oh, no," he said quickly, feeling a slight blush spread across his cheeks at the mention of Blaine, or more specifically the thoughts of what he'd just been doing with the other boy. "I convinced him to take a shower here instead of going to his apartment for one."

"Good, that's good," Burt nodded, eyeing Kurt across the table as he shoved a spoonful of porridge into his mouth. His face twisted comically, and he gagged as the bland food hit his taste buds. Finn snorted around his mouthful of chocolate chip pancake as Burt grabbed a napkin and spit the mush into it. Under Burt's harsh glare Finn quieted instantly, but Kurt couldn't stop the grin that pulled his lips back.

"It wouldn't hurt to add some cinnamon to that, I suppose," Kurt conceded, abandoning his food and getting up to grab some from the spice rack. Carole turned the stove off and dropped the last pancake on top of the mountain on the table. When Kurt returned Burt made a move to snatch the cinnamon from him, but Kurt jerked his hand out of reach and glared accusingly at his father. "Absolutely not, you'll drown it in this."

Kurt dribbled a few pinches of the brown powder into his father's bowl and closed the cap. "Stir!" he commanded, placing the bottle back in the spice rack and taking his seat again.

Burt grumbled under his breath mutinously as he mixed it into his porridge. Kurt caught Carole's eye, but she just rolled her eyes and gave him an exasperated look. It was going to take some time and a lot of guidance for his father to get used to his new eating schedule. His father directed another sour look at his bowl before hesitantly spooning some into his mouth.

"Better?" Kurt laughed as Burt eagerly dug back into his bowl. His father didn't even nod in answer as he joined Finn in wolfing down his meal. Carole smiled affectionately at the pair of them and placed a pancake onto her plate.

"How did he sleep?" she asked Kurt. Kurt froze, and chanced a quick glance in his father's direction. Even though his father had casually mentioned Blaine a few minutes ago, he was still scared about what his father might say or do. Burt had stopped eating as well, and the concerned flicker of his eyes towards the hallway made the fear in Kurt's chest ease. It was okay, his father was a man of his word, he'd let Blaine into his house and down to his room without Kurt's convincing. He would do what he could to keep Blaine safe even if it was for his, Kurt's, sake.

"He was fine except for what you saw," Kurt informed her. He glanced in his father's direction before adding, "I don't think he sleeps well unless I'm with him."

"How so?" Burt asked cautiously. Kurt couldn't entirely read the expression on his face, but he thought his father would at least try to understand what he was about to say.

"He always looks exhausted," Kurt answered quietly. "Even more so lately, but when... when we're together he's out all night. It's like he feels... safe enough to let himself really sleep," Kurt decided finally.

He took a bite of toast and avoided looking in his father's direction. At this point he had no idea what to expect from Burt. He'd always been an incredible father to him – had always done what was in his best interests and supported him – but this, this was such a complex situation. What his father probably thought was best for him would be the exact opposite of what was best for Blaine. Because Kurt knew he was his father's first concern, and it broke his heart to think that nobody would prioritize Blaine except from Kurt himself.

Burt sighed heavily and let his spoon sink down into his bowl. Kurt gulped nervously. He was absolutely dreading what he thought was about to happen.

"He's had one hell of a life until he met you," Burt started. And that was the last thing Kurt had expected his father to say. Something along the lines of "I don't want you around him" or "You're too attached to him. You're going to get hurt if you stay with him" were words he'd been steeling himself for all morning. But not concern for his boyfriend – where they boyfriends now ?– not a fatherly approach to the boy who Burt remembered for calling Kurt a whore.

Not trusting himself to speak, Kurt simply nodded and bit his lip, waiting for the axe to fall. But it didn't. If anything, his father only surprised him even more.

"You make sure he knows he's always welcome here," Burt said solemnly. "I'd tell him myself, but I doubt he'll believe me."

"I think it might help," Kurt cut in softly. Blaine might unfortunately not trust Burt or even like him, but just Kurt's word that his father wanted him there wouldn't assure him enough for him to stay.

He was surprised when Finn actually nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I'd be scared to death to come over here if you didn't say it was okay."

Kurt flashed Finn a grateful smile and watched his father nod in understanding. This was more than he'd hoped for after last night. He had figured it would take several weeks for Burt to want to welcome Blaine into their home on a regular basis, but for whatever reason last night seemed to have convinced him that the sooner Blaine was here and safe the better off they would all be.

"Thanks, Dad, "Kurt mumbled standing up and hugging his father tightly where he was still sitting.

Burt patted his shoulder a few times and said, "The sooner he's out of that hell hole the sounder I'll sleep at night knowing you aren't visiting him in a place like that."

Kurt pulled back, and took a shaky breath as he tried to rein in his emotions. Knowing that his father trusted his judgement enough to trust Blaine meant more to him than anything else in the world.

"You two just... be– be good to each other, all right?" Burt's mouth twisted somewhere between a frown and a grimace. "Be... be safe."

Heat shot up his neck and flared across his cheeks. He knew what his father was referring to and while there was absolutely no way he would admit that they needed to be, he wanted to reassure his father just the same.

"Don't worry about us," he said simply. "We mean everything to each other. I'm always safe with Blaine."

"I hope you're right, Kurt," Burt said tiredly. "He needs you a lot right now."

"He needs all of us," Kurt corrected, looking around at Carole and Finn. Carole nodded in agreement, but Finn looked like a deer caught in headlights.

The squeak of a shoe on the hardwood in the hallway made him whip his head around. Blaine shuffled into view, bag slung over his shoulder and hair still dripping wet. His eyes had been downcast, but he looked up quickly at the sudden hush and stares. The hazel- green eyes flickered over each face before settling on Kurt, and the uncertainty and fear there was overwhelming. It was obvious that Blaine had absolutely no idea what to do, that based on their sudden silence he thought he'd done something wrong. The reflexive step backwards was predictable for Kurt, but he still hated that Blaine felt the need to close himself off so quickly.

"I should get going, babe," Blaine told him gruffly, making to spin around and bolt from the house, but Kurt rushed over quickly, smiling despite of how uncomfortable Blaine looked. He slid his arms around Blaine's waist and pulled him in for tight hug. If they'd been alone he wouldn't have hesitated to kiss Blaine until he relaxed, but they weren't and he really wanted to ease his father into this relationship instead of dousing him in it like a slushy facial.

He felt Blaine relax at his touch, and clung to him tighter until Blaine returned the gesture. He dipped his chin into the crook of Blaine's neck and pressed a soft kiss against the slightly damp skin that now smelled like his body wash. Just the thought of Blaine in his shower, using his shower gel, made him want to forget that they had school or that there were three other people in the room. Blaine captured his face in his hands when Kurt made to pull away. A firm pair of lips pressed insistently against his and Kurt returned the pressure as Blaine's thumb gently stroked his cheek. He tried to say without words that he was there for Blaine, that they were in this together and Blaine was completely safe where he was. It hurt to think that Blaine didn't even feel safe in an eased and relaxed environment such as was his kitchen at breakfast.

When Kurt finally pulled away he felt bashful and giddy. Blaine gave him a soft, slightly shy smile in return.

"Good morning," Kurt said brightly, bouncing slightly on his feet and beaming uncontrollably as he tried to reassure Blaine as much as possible that this was a good place to be. "There's a bunch of pancakes if you want some. And toast and orange juice and other things."

Blaine nodded slightly, looking stunned at how welcoming the scene he'd walked in on was, or more importantly, that it was directed at him. Kurt twisted one of Blaine's curls around his finger for a moment and then slid his hand into Blaine's. "Come on," he said. "You can sit next to me."

He felt Blaine's body tense in apparent protest, but Blaine didn't say anything as he was forced into the empty spot next to Kurt. He kept a firm hold on Blaine's hand as he dropped into his own seat and settled their hands on his thigh, brushing his thumb over Blaine's knuckles soothingly.

Carole pulled four huge pancakes off the stack and dropped them onto Blaine's plate. "Here you go, sweetheart, " Blaine's hand twitched in his and his grip tightened painfully, "I made sure I made twice as many so you and Finn wouldn't fight over them."

"It would have been an all out war," Finn told him, cutting off another piece and stuffing it in his mouth. "I 'ake muh 'an'akes vur 'er'ously."

"I take swallowing before speaking very seriously," Blaine retorted, eyebrows raised slightly. "Just ask Kurt."

Burt's spoon clattered to the table, and Kurt felt his entire face burning. He'd expected a lewd comment at some point during the meal because it seemed to be some sort of impulsive defense mechanism for Blaine, but he hadn't thought it would be because of Finn talking about pancakes.

"Blaine," he hissed warningly, and much to his surprise Blaine looked ashamed for the first time in his memory.

"Um, s- sorry?" Blaine told him uncertainly. And then the cocky smirk fell into place like a shield when Blaine spotted Burt's expression. Kurt almost smacked his hand over Blaine's mouth, but he wasn't fast enough. "You'll have to forgive my proper blowjob etiquette."

Blaine's eyes were trained on Burt's face as though he was challenging him or even daring him to prove himself to be everything Blaine seemed to expect from a fatherly figure. It was almost as though he wanted Burt to throw him out, just to prove to himself how cruel the world was or – and Kurt hated himself for thinking it – to remind himself of how worthless he thought he was. For a terrible moment, Kurt thought Burt was going to do just what Blaine wanted him to do. But his father surprised him once again, and seemed to have realized what Kurt had. It was probably the brief flash of regret Blaine had shown that had done it.

"What you and my son do in your own time is none of my business, unless you make it my business. I suggest you don't." Burt paused and held out the jug of orange juice to Blaine. "Juice, Blaine?"

Kurt watched Blaine nervously. He knew how much effort that had taken Burt, and he also knew that Blaine was not going to make this easy. He expected Burt to hate him after their first encounter in the parking lot. Blaine only made an effort long enough to get people to give up or hate him, and while he'd let both Kurt and Carole in to an extent, it was going to be much tougher with Burt considering he was not only Kurt's father but the fact that he was a father figure at all.

Blaine looked confused at the reaction he'd gotten, but when he spotted Kurt's glare his cockiness faded away.

"Um, yeah, s- sure," Blaine mumbled, taking the jug and pouring himself a glass.

Breakfast was mostly quiet after that. Finn kept staring at Blaine, somewhere between impressed and angry at how he'd spoken to Burt. Carole asked them each about their classes and smiled encouraging at Kurt throughout the meal, though he wasn't sure what the encouragement was for. Should he try and start a conversation between his father and Blaine? He'd much rather let them co- exist peacefully in the same room for now, and maybe try a short conversation tonight. Or tomorrow. Or maybe even next week.

"You guys should get going," Burt told them as they cleared the dishes half an hour later.

"I'll finish cleaning up," Carole assured Kurt, who had started to protest. There was a quick round of goodbyes and hugs between the Hudsons and Hummels, and Kurt felt like he'd been kicked in the stomach as he spotted Blaine standing off by the hall, fiddling with his backpack and looking horribly awkward.

"Do you want to stop by and change your clothes and pick some of your stuff up?" Kurt asked him as they were all herded towards the hallway.

"Pick some stuff up for what?" Blaine asked in bemusement.

Kurt felt his heart sink at the words, but he really hadn't expected one night to convince Blaine to make Kurt's home his own. Instead of answering the question, he said exasperatedly, "Then at least change your clothes. You can't wear the same outfit two days in a row."

Blaine rolled his eyes as they stopped in the entry way for their coats and Finn's sneakers. Kurt could feel Carole and his father listening in on their conversation closely.

"Why not? It's not like anybody will notice if I do, "Blaine told him with a tiny sneer. He saw Carole flinch a bit at the harsh words, but his father's face remained solemn. "You on the other hand would probably cause the apocalypse if you wore the same thing two days running."

"I'd notice," Kurt said forcefully, but Blaine rolled his eyes again as though he had anticipated that answer. Not that Kurt could blame him. He noticed everything when it came to clothing, but the thought that Blaine was right – that nobody would notice, and if they did, they wouldn't care – made him feel like someone had clamped his windpipe shut.

"We'll see you boys tonight," Carole told them, and then she did something that surprised all of them. She pulled Blaine into a tight, warm embrace and kissed him on the cheek. It was brief, but Blaine's entire body tensed and he just stared down at her as she raked her fingers through his curls. "Have a good day, sweetheart. Are you coming back tonight?"

"Uh,... "Blaine glanced to Kurt and then to Burt. Something about his father seemed to make the decision for Blaine. "Probably not."

"You're more than welcome if you decide to come," Burt said suddenly, and Blaine actually jumped at the sound of his voice, looking startled by the tone and the words. "Anytime you need a place to stay you're more than welcome here, okay?"

Burt clapped him on the shoulder, and Blaine nodded jerkily. There was something like hope shining in Blaine's eyes when he turned back around and linked his arm through Kurt's. Kurt smiled at him again, and slid his hand into the pocket of Blaine's leather jacket. He had the entire day to convince Blaine to come over again tonight. Hell, he'd spend every day ignoring his teachers and not doing assignments so that he could convince Blaine to stay with them.

But Blaine proved impossible to convince throughout the day. It definitely didn't help that they only had two classes together and that he then also had Glee after school. Blaine stayed long enough to walk him to Glee Club. But after a few passionate kisses, which got interrupted by Santana, he rolled away down the hall on his skateboard and disappeared.

By the time Finn and Kurt left it was already dark, and he didn't feel like fighting Finn in whether stopping by Blaine's was a good idea or not. He'd probably do more harm than good by showing up at this hour and presenting a target to the homophobes that frequented the parking lot. As much as Kurt hated it, he drove them home, wishing with all his heart that Blaine would be there waiting with his father. But he wasn't.

The next two days followed the same pattern. Blaine shrugged off any mentions of dinner at Kurt's place or questions about whether or not he wanted to bring a change of clothes over that night. Kurt tried not to push him or make direct demands, but it was hard, even harder than it had been to tell Blaine no when they'd been alone in that bathroom a few weeks ago. Every day the strength Blaine seemed to have gained from the relaxing night at Kurt's ebbed away more. Kurt just wanted to throw the other boy over his shoulder and force him to come back to his house. The only improvement in his life was the steady progress his father was making in regaining his physical stamina.

On Friday morning Kurt was running late and barely made it in time to catch Mercedes and Tina before they left their lockers.

"Hey," he greeted as he skid to a halt in front of them.

Mercedes pulled him into a tight hug, and Tina asked, "Is your dad still doing okay?"

"Yeah, he's doing really great, actually," Kurt told her as they linked arms and headed down the hall towards English class. He kept an eye out for Blaine the entire way there. By now Blaine was usually arm in arm with him – had even let Mercedes latch onto his other arm yesterday morning – but he didn't see him. They made it inside the room just as the bell chimed and the sight at the back of the room made them all freeze.

Blaine was soundly asleep at his desk, drooling slightly as his arms swayed at his sides. Kurt's chest constricted at how exhausted Blaine looked after only a few days back at his apartment without him there to ease the loneliness. The skin around his eye was still a dark purple, but the swelling had gone down and the gash through his eyebrow had scabbed over.

They shuffled over to their seats in the row in front of Blaine and watched him as he snuffled a bit and pressed his cheek more firmly against the desktop, his lips parting so that his breath fogged up the surface.

"He looks terrible," Mercedes whispered sadly, dropping into her seat and immediately spinning around to look at Blaine.

"I don't get it," Tina added, looking at Kurt as the morning announcements started over the loud speaker. "He was fine on Tuesday, except from that black eye, and now he looks like he's about to drop dead. What's up?"

"He– "Kurt paused, draped his hands over the back of his chair, and dropped his chin on top of them. The unruly curls were inches away from his face and he could just make out the tip of Blaine's nose. Blaine could really use a haircut. Maybe he'd be able to talk him into one this weekend, or at least get him over for dinner tonight. "He's got a lot going on right now," Kurt finished softly, leaving out the details for now. It wasn't his place to tell them anything about Blaine's life.

Kurt reached out and brushed back some of Blaine's curls. The other boy groaned a little and nuzzled his face against the desk.

"You really like him, don't you?" Mercedes asked quietly, squeezing Kurt's shoulder gently.

"I love him," Kurt amended, turning and giving her a hesitant smile. Out of all of his friends only Finn was aware of the extent of his relationship with Blaine or Blaine's living situation. Finally admitting it to Tina and Mercedes was a huge weight off his chest, especially now that he was certain that him and Blaine were something serious.

A bright smile greeted his words and Tina's head dropped onto his other shoulder. "I told you he was totally your type," Mercedes mumbled, turning back to the front as Kurt shot her a pseudo- glare.

"Oh, shut up," he snapped playfully as he reached out and gave Blaine's shoulder a light shake. He hated waking him up, but Mr. Robertson was the only teacher who made a point of noticing Blaine's presence. If Kurt didn't wake Blaine up then Mr. Robertson definitely would, most likely by dropping something heavy right next to Blaine's ear. The last thing Blaine needed was to be startled awake and instinctively pull his pocket- knife on their teacher.

Blaine grumbled weakly in protest and Kurt pulled his desk back until his chair hit the edge of Blaine's desktop. He pressed a soft kiss to Blaine's forehead. "Wake up, Blaine. Class is starting."

"Hmmm?" Blaine murmured and raised his head a few inches, his eyes cracking open as he blinked slowly at Kurt. A dull ache throbbed in Kurt's chest at the dark bags under Blaine's eyes, or more correctly under the one eye. The other was just a giant black circle and almost looked like someone had taken a permanent marker to it. He cupped Blaine's face and brushed his thumb over his cheek.

"Class is starting," Kurt reiterated softly. "Do you want something to eat or drink? Carole had me bring some hot chocolate and soup for you."

Blaine's head drooped back down, his forehead smacking against the hardwood. He yawned loudly and slurred, "Cocoa?"

Kurt couldn't hold back the adoring smile that spread across his face. "Yeah," he fumbled with his bag and pulled out the warm thermos. "She even added some marshmallows."

Blaine perked up at his words and took the offered container, holding it between his hands and pressing his cheek against it. He sighed softly at the warmth seeping into his skin and Kurt felt his smile falter as Blaine shivered a little. He knew how unreliable Blaine's heating unit was, and could easily imagine Blaine having to bundle up in several layers of clothing just to stay warm for the night when it was working. He couldn't imagine how cold Blaine's room got when it refused to work. Winter was already settling in quite comfortably around them even though it was only late October. Just this morning the weather man had mentioned a chance of snow over the weekend. His eyes fell on Blaine's wrist and he took in the two shirt sleeves he saw under the jacket's worn, dirty cuff. Blaine's only t- shirt was probably buried under that as well.

"What time did you get here?" Kurt asked him quietly.

Blaine shrugged a little, and unscrewed the thermos cap. He sniffed and then held his face over the top as steam poured out. "Dunno, it was dark when I got here." He yawned loudly again and took a sip of hot chocolate. "Doors were still locked. Janitor let me in when he got here."

"Blaine," Kurt started, half- scolding, half- exasperated. "Why don't you just stay at my house?" At Blaine's alarmed expression, Kurt hastened to add, "Even if it's just every other night. Or school nights or just something. You can't keep doing this to yourself."

"I– "Blaine began, but then stopped because he clearly had no idea how to respond to Kurt's words. He swallowed another gulp of hot chocolate instead, and stared silently at his desk.

"Blaine, what– "

"Mr. Hummel, class is beginning. Turn around and pay attention," Mr. Robertson called from the front.

Regretfully, Kurt did as he was told, but not before giving Blaine a look that told him this conversation wasn't over. He'd been slacking off over the last few days – been giving Blaine a chance to come to them again – but he couldn't stand to watch Blaine suffer without doing something about it. Every few minutes he glanced back at Blaine to make sure he was still awake. For the most part the hot chocolate seemed to be helping by giving Blaine something to focus on. But once it was gone twenty minutes later, Kurt had to keep spinning around and tap him awake when Mr. Robertson's back was turned. It was a relief when the novel analysis was assigned for their next book and they spent the last ten minutes in discussion with their partners.

"Blaine," Kurt said sharply as the boy's head started to droop towards his desktop. Perhaps coffee would have been a better choice than hot chocolate. Now that Blaine was full of all that warmth, on top of his exhaustion, all he wanted to do was sleep.

"What?" Blaine snapped in annoyance. He rubbed his bruised eye unconsciously and then winced loudly.

Kurt watched him gingerly poke at the sore skin for a moment before speaking. "I'd really like it if you came over for the night tonight," he said quietly. "My dad and Carole both keep asking about you. I know Carole's been dropping off food on her way to work, the food is much nicer when its fresh and warm."

Kurt wasn't entirely proud of himself for that last part, but appealing to Blaine's stomach might actually work to his advantage right now.

"I– I don't... I don't know, all right?" Blaine muttered, glaring at the empty thermos on his desk. The bell rang and much to Kurt's surprise Blaine was quick to get to his feet and move towards the door. He was so shocked by the sudden, swift movements that he didn't even manage to grab his bag before Blaine disappeared.

Mercedes called something out after him, but Kurt didn't spare her a glance as he raced out after Blaine. But Blaine was already gone, had disappeared into the crowd before Kurt had a chance to spot him. He arrived at their history class a few minutes later, and took his usual seat. Blaine shuffled in right with the bell, and try as Kurt might to talk to him through notes and whispers, Blaine just shrugged and let his head drop down onto his desk. As much as Kurt wanted answers to why Blaine was so hesitant to come back over he could see how much Blaine needed the rest so he dropped the matter. The same thing happened in Environmental Science and Kurt left him alone until the bell for lunch rang. Once again Blaine darted out of the room to avoid his questions.

It was only luck that he spotted Blaine's jacket whip through the door to the boys bathroom. He slowed down to a walk and hesitated before entering. Honestly, he didn't know what to expect to find on the other side of the bathroom door. Kurt realized that all of this was a huge adjustment for Blaine, and that everything else in his life was slowly tearing him to pieces, but most of the time he just didn't know what sort of reaction to expect from Blaine.

Blaine was leaning on the sink when he entered, splashing his face with water and attempting to wake himself up, by the looks of it. Kurt dug quickly into his bag and pulled out the towel he kept there for whenever someone decided to throw a slushy in his face.

"Come here," Kurt said gently, dropping his bag next to Blaine's and turning Blaine to face him. He pressed the soft cotton against Blaine's forehead and softly dried the other boy's face off, being particularly careful around the black eye. When he pulled back to drop the damp towel onto the sink he was prepared for the look of amazement that always appeared on Blaine's face at any type of kindness directed at him, but he wasn't ready for the tears pooling in his eyes.

"It's all j- just too good to be true," Blaine told him, sucking in a shuttering breath and shaking his head at his own words. "I figured I'd end up in prison and spend the rest of my life rotting there if the other inmates didn't kill me, and then you came along. I never imagined anything like this," Blaine added quietly. "And you've got a family that wants to– wants to... I don't even know what."

Kurt shushed him, and pulled him into his arms, rubbing his hand up and down Blaine's spine and softly running his fingers through Blaine's curls. He blinked a few times to hold back his own tears, and kissed Blaine's curls. He'd known all of this had to be overwhelming for Blaine after the past ten years of his life, but just how little he seemed to think of himself made Kurt feel like he'd put his heart in a freezer and then taken a chisel to it.

"We're done for the day," Kurt whispered, turning the faucet off and nudging Blaine's bag out from under the sink with his foot. "I'm taking you home, okay? No arguments. You need sleep, rest, and warm food."

"Sneaking us out for a nooner, Hummel?" Blaine yawned as Kurt directed him towards the hallway.

"If you're lucky," Kurt retorted, pecking Blaine on the cheek and following him out into the hallway. Part of him expected a cocky reply to his words, but Blaine blinked sleepily at him and took the lead as they entered the hallway. He let Blaine take the lead as they darted down the halls and around the corners since he knew how to avoid the teachers on patrol. By the time they reached the student parking lot, Kurt had his arm around Blaine's waist and ended up hoisting the boy into the passenger seat of his Navigator. When he climbed into the driver seat Blaine was already sound asleep, cheek pressed against the window. He reached over and buckled him in, sent Finn a quick text telling him where he'd gone, and another to Carole telling her he'd be home soon with Blaine. His father would probably ground him well into his college years for skipping school again, but as he glanced over at Blaine curled up in the passenger seat he knew it was worth it. Blaine would always be worth it. He only had to convince his father of the same thing.


Burt hated being poked and prodded by doctors. But it was Friday, the day for his first check- up since he'd been released from the hospital, and with a nurse as his girlfriend he wasn't given much choice in whether or not he went. He grumbled miserably throughout the appointment as they poked him, checked his vitals, and readjusted his diet for the hundredth time. Carole insisted that the exam should be very thorough and made them run a dozen blood tests he didn't understand at all. They were sitting in one of the examination rooms waiting for the results when Carole's phone buzzed loudly.

Burt didn't think much of it until Carole stood up and moved to his side on the examination table, which made him be thankful they hadn't forced him into one of those ridiculous hospital gowns although he knew that as a nurse she had seen it all. She was still his girlfriend.

"Kurt's on his way home," Carole told him evenly.

Burt tensed at her words and glanced at the clock on the far wall. Half past noon. Two hours before school let out. He mentally braced himself for whatever she was about to tell him. "Why? What happened?"

"Nothing bad," Carole quickly reassured him. "He's got Blaine with him. The poor boy's exhausted again," Carole added sadly. "I wish there was more we could do to convince him to stay."

"It's going to have to be up to him," Burt remarked. "He's stubborn." And an excellent match for Kurt because of it, he silently added to himself. Anyone who dated Kurt would have to be stubborn or he'd get walked all over. Nevertheless, it was still difficult for Burt to equate the boy from the parking lot and his breakfast table to what Kurt and Carole had told him and the little he'd seen that time he'd been over. There was a huge part of Blaine he was still missing, and he realized that, given Blaine's history with fatherly figures, he'd have his work cut out the most to get to Blaine in a positive way. He had no idea how to go about getting Blaine to trust him so he'd at least stay over and minimised everyone's stress, either. He knew that getting Blaine to see he as trustworthy enough would be key in getting Blaine to stay. He'd never been good at puzzles, and Blaine Anderson was the biggest puzzle he'd ever met.

"They don't have school tomorrow," Carole said absentmindedly as she rubbed a few soothing circles into his back. "This weekend could be a good chance to make him want to stay."

Burt grunted in acknowledgement, and shifted on the tissue on the bed. It crinkled up and he grimaced at the noise, making Carole laughed. "You're never going to be comfortable in a hospital, are you?"

"Maybe if I come visit you enough," Burt relented, shifting again and letting Carole wrap her arms around him.

For the next few hours Carole whispered a bunch of ideas to try with Blaine into Burt's ear. It was mid- afternoon by the time they got the results for his blood work. Everything checked out normal, much to their relief, though his doctor still insisted on him returning at the same time next week to okay him to start easing back into work at the shop. They made a quick stop at Carole's work station to check her schedule for the coming week and then headed back home. As much as he hated admitting it, he was already tired from the few hours of walking around at the hospital. He didn't even fight Carole when she put an arm around his shoulders, helped him up the front porch, and through the doorway.

He'd almost forgotten about Kurt and Blaine being there until they walked into the living room and saw them curled up on the couch together. The television was on, playing some sort of fashion show that Kurt loved to watch. Blaine was sound asleep on Kurt's chest, snoring lightly as Kurt's fingers played with his curls. It was such a contrast to the boy Blaine kept presenting to him, even a huge difference from the terrified boy that had pulled out a knife the other night. He just didn't know what to make of it all.

Kurt's eyes, which had been closed, blinked open when Carole shuffled over and brushed his hair back.

"What'd the doctor say?" Kurt asked anxiously. The worry in his voice broke Burt's heart. He hated making Kurt worry even more than he hated going to the doctor. It wasn't Kurt's job to worry about him. It should be the other way around, if at all. He was the father, he should be worried about his son. His son shouldn't have to be terrified that he was going to collapse.

"I checked out fine, buddy," Burt assured him, stepping over to stand next to Carole.

"Do you two want a blanket?" Carole asked Kurt quietly, bending down to take a look at Blaine's black eye.

"If you don't mind," Kurt mumbled. Burt tugged one off the blanket rack in the corner and helped Carole drape it over the two boys. Blaine grumbled in his sleep and shifted off of Kurt's chest, rolling backwards towards the edge of the couch.

"Whoa, kiddo," Burt said, pushing Blaine's back and making him roll onto his side so that he was face to face with Kurt. Kurt quickly wrapped Blaine up in his arms and pulled him close, shifting back and further into the couch.

His son stared up at him quietly for a moment, rubbing his hands up and down Blaine's back and pressing his cheek against the mass of curls. "You've got a name for him," Kurt remarked, pulling the blanket up a little higher and allowing Blaine's fingers to curl into the material of his sweater. He smiled down at Blaine for a moment and then his eyes went back to Burt.

"Huh?" Burt grunted as he grabbed the remote and dropped into his favorite chair. It was a deflection of his part and he knew it, but it was very bizarre for him to think he was comfortable enough with Blaine to give him a nickname like he'd done with Finn and Kurt. He didn't even know this kid.

"Kiddo," Kurt replied. "You called him kiddo. Just like you call me buddy and Finn bud or sport."

Carole was smiling at him, a big, beautiful, toothy smile, and he shifted and busied himself with surfing through the channels, trying to brush off the obvious. Yes, he cared about the boy. It was hard not to after everything he'd heard and just the little bit he'd seen. Especially when it was so obvious that his son was in love with the kid. In that regard he couldn't help but care in some way. His son's happiness was directly tied to Blaine, and more than anything else in the world he wanted Kurt to be happy. He deserved that – they both did – after the childhoods they'd had.

"Are we waiting for Finn to have dinner?" he asked instead of commenting on Kurt's observation.

"I suppose so," Carole said, still smiling at him. She bent down and pecked him on the cheek. "It is family dinner night, and Blaine could do with a few more hours of sleep." She smiled affectionately over at Kurt and Blaine. "I'm going to take a shower and then start dinner, okay?"

"Let me know when you want to start it so I can help you," Kurt told her.

Burt smiled fondly at them as Carole shuffled off towards the hallway. It was so nice to see them getting along so well, to know that even if Kurt may never see Carole as his mother that he could still see her as a close friend to put his trust in. It was more than Burt had ever hoped for when Kurt had started pushing him back into the dating scene.

One of Blaine's legs kicked out and he started to roll in his sleep again. Exasperated, Kurt tugged him back into his arms. " God, you're really squirmy when you're not on a bed, huh?"

Burt tried to hide the way he blanked the comment because he absolutely hated thinking about those two in a bed together. Sure, he'd seen it himself, and it had been innocent, but he wasn't stupid. There was no doubt in his mind that his son had done things with Blaine that he never wanted to know about. Blaine settled back down into Kurt's arms, and Burt heard Kurt sigh softly as he decided on a sports channel to watch. Burt sunk back into his chair and let his mind wander. Carole returned and when she looked over the back of the couch and saw that both boys were now asleep she left to make dinner alone.

Every few minutes Burt couldn't stop himself from glancing over at them snuggled up together on the couch. He couldn't see Blaine's face because it was buried in Kurt's shoulder, but the smile on his son's face made his insides feel like melted butter. He'd missed that smile. He had rarely seen it since Elizabeth's passing.

A few hours later Finn stumbled through the front door, sweaty and still in his practice jersey. He spotted Blaine and Kurt on the couch and looked like he was refraining from rolling his eyes and smiling all at once.

"I told Beiste why he missed class," he said simply as he set down his gear and bag. "Like, not everything, but that he was, like, having a lot of trouble at home."

Burt stared at him in surprise He wouldn't have guessed that they'd shared a class together, nor that Finn would even think to do something like that and make an effort to help Blaine in any way.

"You two have a class together?" he asked as Finn stood awkwardly next to him because there was nowhere for him to sit.

He shrugged a little and said, "Yeah, weight lifting. He's like crazy strong, too." He was silent for a moment as he stared over at the couch. "I think she got it," he said quietly. "Beiste, I mean," he clarified at Burt's look. "She's pretty good at picking up on when he's tired and hasn't gotten on him for absences and stuff."

Burt sighed a little and looked at the couch, too. "That's good," he replied. "He needs someone to give him a break."

Carole appeared in the doorway, and smiled when she saw her son. "How was practice?" she asked him.

"Muddy," Finn told her. "I'm gonna shower before I eat."

"Okay, it'll be ready when you come back up."

Finn disappeared down to Kurt's room, and Carole moved around to the front of the couch to nudge Kurt gently.

"Wake up, honey, dinner's almost ready."

Kurt mumbled something Burt couldn't understand and sat up a little bit, rubbing his eyes as Blaine latched onto him tighter. Carole moved to help Burt up and over to the kitchen. He stopped in the doorway, and at a curious look from Carole jerked his head back towards the couch where Kurt had slouched back down and fallen asleep again.

"I'll get them up," he told her, kissing her on the cheek and shuffling back over to the couch. He leaned down over the back and shook Kurt more forcefully than Carole had.

"Kurt, dinner's ready. Come on."

"Hmmm?" Kurt murmured, blinking slowly up at him and holding Blaine closer.

"Dinner," Burt repeated. "I bet Blaine's more than ready for a good meal."

At Blaine's name Kurt rubbed his eyes again and struggled a bit under Blaine's weigh as he sat up. Burt made a move to shake Blaine awake as well, but Kurt's hand caught his wrist and stopped him.

"I don't want to startle him or anything," Kurt said apologetically. He yawned loudly and rubbed his eyes again. Burt frowned a little at Kurt's words, but he understood. He was nothing if not understanding. He headed back into the kitchen, but paused in the doorway again when he heard Kurt's voice rousing Blaine awake.

"It's time to wake up, baby," Kurt whispered. Blaine groaned and slurred out a string of unintelligible words and Kurt laughed. "I know you want to sleep, Blaine, but I bet your stomach wants to eat something."

Blaine's head shot up, his curls just visible over the back of the couch from where Burt was standing.

"I love food," he said seriously as Kurt sat up and kissed him softly on the lips. Blaine hummed a little and nuzzled his face against Kurt's. "I might love kissing you more, though. Can we do that instead?"

Kurt's joyful laughter echoed around the room and Burt felt his heart swell in his chest. God, they were so happy together, so in love it made his chest ache just to watch them. How could the world or anyone ever think what he was watching was something horrific and abominable?

"Maybe later. I'm hungry, too," Kurt told him. He leaned in and kissed Blaine again, longer this time and more deeply. Blaine sighed as they broke away and sat up a little, so that Burt could see him press his forehead against Kurt's. When his eyes flickered open there was a look of amazement and wonder there that tore right into Burt's heart. It was like Blaine had never imagine anything as incredible as what he was experiencing, like he had never expected anyone to care about him ever again until Kurt had popped up and opened him up to a whole world of possibilities.

He couldn't see Kurt's face now, but Blaine was smiling wider and brighter than he'd thought was possible for the boy. It was the first time he'd seen Blaine truly smile – a smile that lit up his eyes and made him actually look like the seventeen year old boy he was. For a moment Burt could see the little boy in that old photograph Carole had shown him – the unsure, scared young man that Kurt was so desperate to give his heart to.

Blaine was safe at his house for tonight – maybe even for the weekend – but he didn't doubt the boy would return to his apartment again. It was his break from the awkward situation that existed between all the different dynamics present in their house. But, somehow, he would make it safe for Blaine to go back there whenever he wanted to. He had to make the first move for this to ever work and he had the perfect idea for how to do that.