A/N: Written at the last minute for Kummer Summer, so the ending is a bit rushed. Ah well. I'd rather get back to Tautology than polish this one, so. Hope you enjoy it anyway!

"It'll be quick, I promise. One day," he pleads into his phone.

"Kurt," Blaine's voice replies, "I told you, I'd love to, but Wes is taking us to—"

"The Swiss Alps, I know, and you'll have an amazing time, and you just can't miss the opportunity, and you'd of course try to finagle me onto the trip but you wouldn't want to impose, and it's only a week after all, never mind that we've been apart for almost the entire summer, and you wish you could fly in a day later but then you'd miss the flight with your pals, God forbid the Warblers should be without their head clucker for twenty-four hours, and it'll be so great to see you when you get back," Kurt barks angrily, and in a Seinfeldian dilemma struggles to hang up his touch phone in a satisfyingly forceful way. He opts for swinging his arm as if to throw it, though of course he doesn't, because expenses aside he's just cleaned Finn's clumsy fingerprints from the screen and the only cloth he has that would remove dirt or plant oils without smudging is the diaphanous scarf wrapped twice around his neck, and it doesn't need to be said that that is not going to happen.

As he cools in the hot sun he acknowledges that he is probably being unfair, but this is a time of need, damn it, and he feels shunted, and therefore cross, and therefore apathetic to his current levels of melodrama. Furthermore there are students around, laughing and generally sounding as though they are having a wonderful time, which pisses him off. Kurt makes these local college visits purely to humor his father, who insists he have a back-up plan, in case he is rejected by his dream NYC schools, which Kurt supposes is possible, assuming his evaluators are tone-deaf or a B-movie megamonster attacks the city during his audition.

He is sitting on a half-shaded bench by a man-made pond near the campus chapel and for no reason other than general disgruntledness he considers flipping off the stained-glass Jesus smiling down at him. Instead he sighs and taps out Finn's number. He listens to two digitized rings.

"Kurt, perfect, do you know what time it is?" Finn's voice interrupts.

"—what, like, the time of day?" Kurt asks, caught off guard by the question.


"Doesn't your phone have a clock on it?"

"Oh yeah. Genius dude, thanks."

"Finn—" Kurt begins, but his stepbrother has already hung up. He grumbles to himself and gives a death glare to a friendly-looking bird that settles on the ground nearby. It ignores him and he redials. "Finn—" he begins again.

"Oh, no, it's cool dude, I got it, it's two forty—"

"Great," Kurt snaps. "Finn, I need to ask you a favor."

"Oh. K. What's up?"

Kurt uncrosses his legs and scowls at his thighs, which have audaciously gathered sweat beneath his jeans. "The community theater is having a Broadway cabaret, and I need a male partner so that I can properly remind the bumpkins that inhabit our fair town that quality musicals have been written since the 1970s. I have nothing against the classics, but from their song selection you'd think the locals believed it was all Grease and Guys and Dolls out there."

"Uhuh. Why don't you ask Blaine?"

Kurt lets a silence bury itself in the phone's receiver, and his exhale is the aural equivalent of glaring daggers. "I did," he eventually says.

"Oh," Finn replies meekly.

As it happens the universe has conspired to shoo Finn from the area on the desired date a week from now, on a mother-son bonding trip with Carole that Kurt was somehow never told about. His third choice, Artie, is banned from the theater in question on account of spending several productions of Thoroughly Modern Millie he'd been hired to film with the camera focused squarely on the buxom tap dancers' wardrobe-malfunction-prone blouses. Puck has work and will almost certainly be unavailable; he has become bizarrely dedicated to his summer job at the animal shelter, and has spent the entire month of July pushing an exhausting supply of adorable mammals onto his friends. Reformed Puck scares Kurt almost as much as Tormentor Puck did. Maybe if Kurt agrees to adopt that pair of calicos with the missing tails...

Kurt hangs up his phone and stands, stuffing the device awkwardly into the tight pocket of his jeans. This, he concludes, is wonderful. Stupendous. Just fantastic, really. He is tempted to risk scuffing his shoes by kicking at an offensive-looking stone huddled on the narrow asphalt path by his feet. Ultimately he settles for making disparaging comments about the sheer unoriginality and, in a few cases, outright repulsiveness of his would-be peers' fashion selections under his breath, and decides that he had better eat something before he gets grouchy.

His mind shuffles out of reality to fume and to consider his dilemma, and he is nearly to the dining hall when the answer to his problem hits him over the head. With a guitar case.

A throb of pain migrates through his nerves and as he returns to Earth he hisses at his assailant. "Would you watch where you're going, you clumsy excuse-for-a-human-be-e-oh-hi Sam," he finishes meekly.

"Oh man—I didn't see—I'm so sorry, I was turning and—wait, Kurt?" Sam says over Kurt's response, so that they say each other's name simultaneously, and the sound of the two words together stirs up question marks in Kurt's stomach, an anonymous feeling that resonates with the fading pulse of discomfort running down from his skull.

Sam is sporting a backpack barely intact and a bemused expression no more sturdy, one hand inches from the future site of the inevitable nascent lump on Kurt's forehead. For a moment it feels as though the heat encircling his injury is emanating not from Kurt's own startled blood but out through Sam's palm. Kurt doesn't know why, but the idea appeals to him. He breathes deep. Sam's other hand grips his guitar case, held straight up, parallel to his torso, probably frozen in the midst of maneuvering it past passers-by.

"Hi," Kurt repeats, when he realizes that the silence is growing awkward.

"Hi," Sam responds bashfully. "I really am sorry, I was just coming from the one of the tours and—"

"It's fine," Kurt interrupts, and resists the urge to paw at his forehead. "Serendipitous, actually," he says, straightening his posture. He feels slightly guilty that Sam never entered his mind during his mental duet search, but to his credit he has heard Sam solo only four times: "Lucky," not a happy memory by any means—not only had the crushing of his artistic and, yes, fine, romantic hopes been flaunted publicly during the number, but his former partner had beaten him in the competition; their Bieste boys mash-up, during which he'd been too terrified and too giddy at the prospect of two new homosexuals in his life to focus on anything beyond his fabulous dance moves; sectionals, when Sam singing well had been a bad thing; and "Friday," which was "Friday," for goodness sake.

Sam pulls back his free arm and has trouble deciding what to do with it. Finally it settles at his side. "Serendipitous. Like the movie?"

Kurt cocks his head to the side as his brain exhumes its back catalog of mediocre chick flicks from the past two decades. "That was—you mean with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale?"

Sam frowns in concentration, and then says, "'You don't have to understand. You just have to have faith.'"

"That's Serendipity, first of all, and second of all, why do know that movie well enough to quote from it?"

Sam shrugs and colors slightly. "Mom watched it a couple times. I just remember stuff. —Uh, sorry, you were probably going somewhere, I can—let you get to it or whatever."

"No! No," Kurt interjects, and puts a comradely hand on Sam's shoulder. "Here," he adds, and scoops the guitar from Sam's grip. Flashback to "Don't Stop"—five times. He knew he'd forgotten one. "Where are you off to?"

Sam glances over his shoulder, and as his hair swerves his roots are briefly exposed. Kurt feels as though he's been flashed and has the nonsensical urge to close his eyes. He takes momentary revenge on his absent boyfriend by thinking casually that there are other parts of Sam he would not be so bashful to observe, and immediately regrets the notion, partially out of guilt and partially because he knows all too well he gets manipulative, usually in a bad way, when he's aroused.

"Nowhere, really. I was going to see if any of the practice rooms in the music building were open, maybe jam a little." Kurt's finely honed social senses detect a half-truth in Sam's words, but before he can inquire further Sam asks, "What are you doing here, dude? I would've never thought this place would even be on your radar screen."

Kurt makes a little noise of disgust. "Please. Have you seen the productions they perform at this place? No, you haven't, because they don't have a theater program." He lifts his wrist dismissively, and watches Sam watch the stretch of his forearm uncomfortably. "Besides, their academic standards are atrocious, and it's in the middle of nowhere, and the food smells like something out of a sewage plant, and don't get me started on the dorms, and then there's—"

"Yes!" Sam interrupts forcefully. "Yes. I get it, thanks. The school sucks." He turns his head away and starts walking toward the music building.

For a moment Kurt feels taken aback, wounded by the outburst, and then ashamed, as it clicks that Sam was probably not forced to tour this college as a safety school. "Hey," he calls out, hurrying to catch up. He stumbles a little, unable to compensate fully for the weight of the guitar. "Sam—"

His feet slip out from under him, and he feels the immediately future as though with a weather-sense, can estimate how the gales of momentum will carry him down and predict a 70% chance of thundering head collision with the ground.

Probability, though, is a fickle mistress. An arm catches his and he manages to keep upright, and without sufficient cause he flushes at the feel of Sam's grasp on his bicep, enjoys the feeling of being pulled.

He does not enjoy it long. Sam swears to himself and lets go, reaching for his guitar case, which Kurt now realizes he has dropped. He considers rolling his eyes—second fiddle to a guitar, how wonderful—but supposes Sam did catch him first, when in all likelihood he could have saved his instrument instead. Simple human decency, Kurt supposes, but it makes him feel good anyway. "Thanks," he says quietly as Sam brushes dirt off the case.

Sam shrugs one shoulder without looking up.

After flirting with the idea of letting the issue drop, Kurt speaks again. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. About the school. It's a fine institution. It's just not what I, personally, am—"

"It's a shit school, you're right," Sam agrees. "All the schools I can afford are shit schools." Somehow Sam keeps any malice from his voice, and its absence rings in some hollow part of Kurt's chest. Resignation, is the word for it.

Kurt considers a treatise on how collegiate education is normalizing, anyway, how "good" schools aren't ireally/i much better than your average college, how they're all about name and reputation and research, how for undergraduate he's better off somewhere small, anyway, individual attention and all that. But it sounds condescending even in his head. "Well. I'm still sorry," he says instead. "Let me make it up to you."

A half-smile peeks out from the corner of Sam's lips. "You know last time you said that to me, you didn't. Make it up to me."

Kurt frowns. "What? What do you mean?"

Sam shrugs and stands up, guitar in hand. New scratches accessorize its sticker-laden hull. "For the duets competition. You said the same thing." Kurt's eyebrow forms a question. "'Let me make it up to you.' 'cause of my hair. You don't remember?"

Kurt does remember, the situation if not the words; he is surprised that Sam does, too, and well enough to quote. He nods. "Of course I do."

"And then you broke it off." Sam shrugs yet again—Kurt feels the urge to clamp his shoulders down. "Just saying."

"Well," Kurt says, faux-affronted, "then prepare for more nostalgia, because I am going to ask you to sing with me."

"What?" Sam asks, almost as though startled. Kurt had hoped for a more pleased response, but he will take what he can for now.

"A week from tonight, for Lima Theater Guild's Broadway cabaret."

Sam hesitates and then starts walking again. "Why me?"

Kurt scrambles for a lie. "Because—because we didn't get to sing together, last time."

"So you mean everyone else is busy." Kurt reddens again and opens his mouth to counter him, but Sam doesn't let him. "It's cool, dude. Whatever. Just you don't have to lie, ok? I promise, any harsh realities you throw at me are gonna pale in comparison to... other harsh realities."

Kurt manages somehow to scowl meekly, and decides he deserves accolades for his new expression, and perhaps a 20-year patent. He "hmph"s a little, and then walks after Sam, muttering quietly, "And yet you believed Quinn's gumball story for a week and a half."

"It's different when you love someone," Sam says immediately, catching Kurt off guard. This Serious Sam depresses him, confuses and intrigues him. He decides, however, that he will snap him out of it, dammit, because a) he needs a project and more importantly b) he needs a duet partner.

"Are you saying you don't love me?" Kurt says with an exaggerated pout.

A smile flashes across Sam's face and vanishes almost instantly. "Not blindly."

Kurt's brain forms an ellipsis as he attempts to understand Sam's response. It's a joke—right? He's missing some subtle pun. There's a hidden play on words somewhere. "Ha ha ha," he chuckles awkwardly.

Silence rules for a moment. Then Kurt says, "So—will you do it?"

Sam sighs. "I don't know. What's the song?"

"Well—I'm not 100 percent sure yet. I was thinking something from Rent. Or maybe Next to Normal. We can see what would work with your voice..."

But Sam is already shaking his head. "Uh—sorry dude, I don't know any songs from those."

"That's fine!" Kurt assures him. "I've got sheet music for everything. You should see my—what is it?"

Sam is still shaking his head, averting his eyes. "It's no good, man."

They are at the entrance to the building, now, and Sam pushes weakly against the smudged glass doors. Kurt is ready to fume—he is almost positive this can't have anything to do with his sexuality, with singing up in front of a crowd with the town gay, because this is Sam, but his defenses leap to the ready anyway. "Why? Sam I'm sure you're busy, but you're wonderful, you'd learn whatever song we pick in a flash, I'm sure of it, you'd..." He trails off because the sun catches Sam's eyes in such a way that the sheen of tears saturating a wall over his irises is suddenly visible.

"It's no good." Sam swallows. "I can't—I can't read music, dude."

Kurt has grabbed the door handle and is holding the door open for Sam, feels conditioned air make known the rivers of sweat on his body like a black light revealing invisible ink. "What—come on, Sam, let's go inside," he says quietly. Sam is about to lose it, and that means Kurt is probably about to lose it, because tears are like yawning to him, fully contagious.

Sam nods in slow-motion and enters, turning left down an empty corridor through which their footsteps echo sharply. The first practice room they find is cramped but unoccupied, and they sit close on an off-kilter piano bench, hips touching slightly. Sam's knuckles are white where his fingers cling to his guitar case.

Kurt speaks first. "Sam, it's ok if you can't read music. There are plenty of things—"

"No, it's not ok," Sam snaps. "God Kurt, don't you get it? You're so talented, and—" He shakes his head. "I mean, it's easy for you. And I'm glad, and I don't resent you for it, at all, really, I'm so happy for you." He puts a hand on Kurt's knee, gently, as though afraid he will scare him away. A single saline pearl slides down the crease of his nose as he collects his thoughts.

Sam stands suddenly and Kurt remembers to breathe. "I know—I know I can't be a musician, not for a career, but it's my one sort-of gift, and if I've got any shot at getting into a half-decent college it's got to be on a music scholarship, because my grades aren't worth shit, and I just can't afford to be completely fucked over by loans for the rest of my life, not without any kind of—support network, or whatever, I just can't, but to get the money there's auditions, and for every audition there's sight-singing, or playing—" His guitar rebounds off the wall with a loud thud as he gestures angrily. "—and I am so sick of being punished for having problems with symbols, with Goddamn math because I can do the operations in my head, I get the concepts, I really do, but it's got to be on paper because you can't remember everything, and with reading, having to get all my favorite books from the audio section in the library unless I want to spend for-fucking-ever on—do you know what I came in here for? Huh?"

Kurt, eyes wide, shakes his head.

"Sight-singing practice." He sets down his guitar case ungracefully and snaps it open. "Here it is." He thrusts an untitled sheet of musical staffs, half-filled, into Kurt's hands. "Do you know what that is?"

Kurt swallows. "It's—" he starts, but his voice catches. He clears his throat. "It's Mary Had a Little Lamb."

"Mary Had a Fucking Little Lamb," Sam agrees. "That's where I'm at, Kurt. And I'm supposed to be good enough to read who knows what." He kicks his guitar case, though not with full force. "I can't—I can't write, Kurt," he says, and starts to cry, gently, "I've got stories in my head, I've got notes to send to my grandfather in Nashville, I've got confessions that expired years ago, essays and song lyrics and love letters..."

Sam leans against the wall and sniffs loudly, and Kurt feels like a ghost as he sits, ancillary, on the piano bench, still as the pause before the conductor's baton first falls. He sets down the paper and on ghost legs he rises and takes the small step necessary to put himself beside Sam.

When Sam kisses him suddenly, his fingers pressing into Kurt's temples, Kurt's neurons fire with hundreds of conflicting aches of emotion, opposing forces so powerful that he can't help but have no reaction at all. It is one kiss only, but his eyes have plenty of time to drift leisurely closed. He feels moisture against his cheekbone. Sam's chest rises and falls against him like the slow rocking of a boat in a twilit ocean.

When they break they open their eyes. Sam's are red and startled, as though he is not sure what he has done and is waiting to find out. Kurt takes a single breath and then presses his hands against Sam's chest, gently but firmly pushing, and turns around twice, seating himself. He clears his throat, sniffs once. "How did you learn songs for Glee club?"

Sam stares at him, confused, and when it looks as though he finally understands Kurt's reaction his eyes remember what his mouth has just done and grow more confused still. "Um," he says, licking his lips nervously, "by ear, I guess. It's—it's like with movie quotes. Good memory." He puts his hands in his pockets.

Kurt leans back and starts as the piano chirps out high notes; his elbows have brushed the keys. "What about guitar?"

"Same," Sam says, and licks his lips again, warily stepping forward to take back his seat next to Kurt. "Mostly. I can read tab better than regular notes, though—it's more like a picture of the guitar strings, so it's easier to, uh. To translate."

Kurt nods, and is silent a moment.

"It's not really that bad," Sam says shyly, touching his shoulder against Kurt's in a strange little apology. "I mean I'm not usually such a... a teenager about it. It's a pain but it's not really..." He trails off.

Kurt smiles a little, and dares to look sideways at him, comfortingly. "I know." He hesitates and then pulls his phone from his pocket. "Here," he says, tapping a few keys. A song issues weakly through the device's speaker. A falling star / fell from your heart / and landed in my eyes...

"Do you know the song?" Kurt asks, and Sam shakes his head. Kurt nods. "Show me how you learn by ear."

They listen together for a few minutes, trading swallowing sounds. The cramped room warms with their heat even as vents overhead protest vigorously. Eventually Sam fetches his guitar and sits again, so that the neck crosses Kurt's chest. He remembers watching Quinn in this position, fingers on frets, and feels an urge to do the same. He feels young and glowing. He does not let the kiss sink in, or sink him. Kiss? What kiss? his mind insists.

A harp drags the song through its closing, and Kurt taps his phone. "You didn't do anything," he observes. "Play it again?"

Sam shakes his head. "What's the first words?"

"A falling—"

"Thanks," Sam says, eyes focused on the body of the guitar. "F, C, A minor." His first pickless strum rolls down the strings in a way that reminds Kurt of a little boy running the tip of a stick over the links in a chain fence. "A fall – ing star," Sam sings, softly as though embarrassed.

As he continues Kurt smiles, and then frowns, and then lets his mouth hang open slightly. Because Sam plays the whole song. Arranged differently, by necessity, but rhythmically identical, note-perfect (barring a few intonation problems as Sam's voice crawls shyly into falsetto), and requiring only two or three lyrical prompts. Sam's singing becomes more confident, and by the last No dawn / No day, goosebumps threaten Kurt's complexion, and before the last chorus ends he finds his hand rising to join Sam's left on the fretboard, inadvertently bringing the song to a halt. Sam looks at him questioningly.

"Show me how?" Kurt asks, free hand lightly stroking his scarf.

Sam licks his lips. "Yeah." With a slightly shaking hand he places Kurt's fingers and presses them firmly down. The wire strings are warm from Sam's touch, and jammed tightly enough against him that he briefly fears potential callousing (from one try, Kurt? Please), but as Sam strikes the last chord and he feels the vibrations shiver through him he feels, of all things, proud, somehow, or maybe that's not quite right; lifted, perhaps, whatever that means, or raised. He discovers to his distress that such wording is entirely apropos as Sam's arm accidentally slips against his groin as it retracts from the guitar neck. Kurt quickly crosses his legs, and feels his skin simmer.

If Sam has noticed he doesn't show it. He shrugs and says, "Yeah."

"Sam," Kurt says. "That was incredible."

"What?" Sam says, almost laughing. "Kurt the song is three chords. Over and over."

"Three chords you identified having heard it once and without any guesswork. Not to mention the words, the vocal melody..."

Sam looks bashful again and lets his arms hang over his guitar. "I can't always do that. But simple songs..."

"I am officially jealous, Sam Evans," Kurt announces with a smile, and when Sam smiles back he smiles wider still.

"Well. Thanks," Sam says. "But it doesn't really help the sight reading problem."

"Mm," Kurt agrees. He taps his chin and tugs on the page of sheet music Sam is currently sitting on, doing his damnedest to avoid succumbing to temptation and 'accidentally' touching Sam's ass. Once it's free he spins around and sets it on the piano and flattens a few creases from its edges. He considers, a moment. "Would you rather read bottom to top or right to left?"

"Um," Sam says, and sets his guitar down so that he too can turn. "I guess right to left? Like manga. Why?"

Kurt nods and rotates the sheet ninety degrees clockwise. "You said tab was easier because it was like a picture." He taps a piano key. "I just thought... looking at it this way, maybe you can think of it as a picture of the piano. Not exactly—you'd have to count both lines and spaces, of course, and I'm not really sure if it would be any help with keys with lots of sharps or flats, but—"

Kurt is better prepared, this time, and has successfully stifled his fear response, so when Sam kisses him he catches it as though with a baseball mitt, wraps it securely between his palms, considers, briefly, even tossing it toward first base. Sam's hands are less content than before; Kurt swats them away from his hair but lets them hold his sides steady, toy with his earlobe, loosen his scarf. It takes every ounce of willpower he possesses to refuse Sam's invitation to open their mouths. Instead he pulls back again.

"Sam," he says bittersweetly and with a dazed smile, neck arched back to dodge Sam's lips. "You have to stop doing that."

"Why?" Sam asks, breathing heavily and fiery-eyed.

Kurt's libido moans at his restraint, but his restraint triumphs. He does not give Sam a verbal response, but his look admonishes: You know very well why.

Sam lets out a frustrated breath. "Yeah." He taps his fingers on low notes, and stares at black keys. "I'm –I'm sorry. It's just that—"

Kurt puts a finger to Sam's lips. "Shh," he whispers, and then in a fit of embarrassment pulls his finger back. "You—we clearly have... things to talk about. But not now, ok? —Soon," he assures. "But. Not now."

Sam looks despondent but eventually nods.

Kurt nods, too. "Good." He dry-washes his hands. "...you'll be my duet partner, though?"

Sam smiles a little. "As long as you don't ditch me again."

"Scout's honor."


The week passes quickly. They meet once, at Kurt's, to go over song selection, and after a few hours spent with Kurt's soundtrack collection Sam approves "What You Own," to Kurt's initial chagrin ("But there's no girl parts." "Well, there's no girls." "But what will I sing?" "Uh. One of the guy parts?" "...interesting."). They only have the evening to practice—Sam's work schedule is hell, and Pip Pip doesn't write itself—but Sam's ear doesn't let them down. Sam behaves, but Kurt doesn't think he is flattering himself when he spots Sam undressing him with his eyes, and sitting so close to his bed doesn't help Kurt's thoughts stay clean. Blaine, it seems, is giving him the silent treatment; they do not speak for several days.

So when Blaine shows up for the cabaret, flowers in hand, as Kurt holds the theater door for Sam, he doesn't know how to feel.

"Surprise!" is all Blaine has to say.

"What—what are—" Kurt says, without looking at Sam, because he can't.

"I'm here for our big duet. Am I the best boyfriend or what?" He smiles a cheeky smile.

Kurt smooths his shirt self-consciously. "I thought. Weren't you...?"

"Eh, what's one day," Blaine says dismissively. "I'll catch up with them in Vienna. We're going to visit the Von Trapp house."

"You're kidding," Kurt exclaims excitedly, and is almost distracted from the situation at hand when he feels the door pull itself out of his hand—Sam pushing it further open.

"Oh—hey Sam. What's up?" Blaine asks, chummy.

Kurt doesn't let Sam answer. "It's just that—I wish you'd told me, because—"

"Because Kurt was worried he wouldn't get to sing," Sam interjects. "But hey, guess he has a partner after all. That's great. Good to see you, Blaine," he says, and moves to push past Kurt, back out of the theater.


"Hey where you going?" Blaine asks. "You're not gonna support your friends?" he adds lightly.

Sam stops, and turns. Kurt can't read his expression and is scared to try to decipher it. "What the hell, why not. I'm here."

"That's the spirit," Blaine agrees. "So what are we singing?"


He finds Sam in the crowd the second they step on stage. He's sitting in the third row, face blank, neutral, gray. Kurt's heart sinks as the music rises and Blaine tears into his verse. Objectively he kills it, performs with his usual flair. But the wide-mouthed expressions and mime-worthy dances Kurt normally finds so charming leave him cold. His skin feels coated with clay, stiff and cracked, the antithesis of his kind of dirty—car grease and motor oil, fluid and slick.

Then he is singing, automatic, and his words carry a rare bite, tremble with the buried trauma of the song. "Just tighten those shoulders," he insists to himself.

"Just clench your jaw til you frown," asserts Blaine.

Together they remind Kurt: "Just don't let go or you may drown."

Their pitch is exact, but their harmonies don't interlock; they exist around one another, bonded ionically, independent despite their interaction. One gives and the other takes. And he remembers the feel of clutching half of Sam's guitar, their covalent connection. Organic.

And he finds himself against his better judgment breaking eye contact with Blaine, finding the gray face of Sam in the crowd and telling him through another's words: "What was it about that night? Connection in an isolating age... For once, the shadows gave way to light; for once, I didn't disengage."

The song is over before he realizes that he has made a decision. But there is something off in the way he hears Blaine sing "I'm not alone" as he belts the same to Sam, and later it makes him suspect that Blaine knew before he did.


"Sam," he says, grabbing his arm through the throng of people leaving the theater.

"Again, huh," Sam replies. But there is a dim sparkle in his eyes, golden grains of hope in a muddy river.

Kurt pulls him aside, eyes glued to the spot where his hand holds Sam's wrist. "I'm sorry."

"Where's Blaine?"

Kurt's thumb rubs Sam's palm gently. "I told him to go," he says quietly.

Sam's mouth opens slightly, and then he asks, "What do you mean?"

"I mean," Kurt says, raising his eyes to meet Sam's, "I told him to go."

Kurt forgets, on purpose, that there is a crowd of Lima denizens pushing past them on one side, and lifts his lips daintily to touch Sam's. The touch of a feather settling gently on a still pond.

"I'm ready to talk now," he whispers.

The theater hums around them and nighttime comes.