33/33. Yup.

I have, quite literally, no more words left. Thank you for sticking with me on this one, whether you've been here the whole time, or for a whole three days; it's been a hell of a year.

Fall was beginning.

The sky was grey and bleak, and the damp winds blowing off of the water were cooling rapidly, gusting a little chillier each morning. The autumn leaves were turning; the birds were flying south in their graceful v-formations, and up in the mountains, thick layers of ice were beginning to grow in patterns long-familiar. Kurt could see his breath in the evenings, forming quickly-dissipating crystalline fog with every exhalation.

Soon, the cool bite in the air would darken to an icy chill, and Kurt would bring his favorite classic peacoat and scarf out of storage and stand outside, letting the wind tear at him the way he remembered his mother doing when he was little.

The first Monday in September, however, found Kurt standing on the shoreline of Lake Erie, a light jacket keeping him warm despite the overcast skies and breezy morning air.

He and his dad, who hadn't found the time over the busy summer to plan a more substantial vacation, had taken the four-day holiday weekend off from the garage and had rented a cabin on the lake, which Kurt had cleaned thoroughly for just over two hours before declaring it livable.

"Spring Break, Kiddo," Burt had promised over dinner the first night—a chicken they'd barbequed over a roasting pit in the yard (accumulating a layer of charcoal dust on their skin and clothing in the process, much to Kurt's simultaneous amusement and displeasure). "We're looking at colleges on whatever coast you want."

Kurt had brightened at the prospect. "New York?" he'd asked hopefully. "Or L.A., so I can spend a couple of days with Sasha and Jesse, too?"

Burt had ruffled Kurt's hair, earning A Look in exchange. "Go through all of that college mail that's started pouring in, and pick a city," he'd instructed with a smile. "I'll book plane tickets early, and we can go on another set of college tours next summer. Unless you're too busy saving the whales or something."

Kurt had rolled his eyes, swallowing a mouthful of chicken. "There aren't any whales at the zoo, so I think my duties are complete," he'd retorted dryly. "But we'll have to go at the beginning or the end of the summer, if that's okay with you—I'm auditioning for The Academy again, and any other summer program that Kenneth and Shelby recommend, just in case."

His dad's grin had been immediate. "I was counting on that," he'd told Kurt. "Don't think for a second that I was going to let you give up another opportunity like that—you're going next year, whether I'm healthy, or in traction and peeing in a bag."

The meal had ended soon after that, due to Kurt's loss of appetite at the ensuing horrifying visual.

The whole weekend had been…peaceful, really, and when his dad had begun packing the car to drive back to Lima that morning, Kurt—a self-professed hater of beaches—was almost sad to leave, especially with the prospect of school beginning the next day, and had walked down the lawn to spend a few more minutes by the water before they had to go home.

The wind was picking up and the waves were hitting the rocky shore with more ferocity than the day before, leaving the beach nearly devoid of people. A few elderly beachwalkers were determinedly making their way against the breeze, however, and about fifty yards down the shoreline, a pair of children and their young mother were playing in bathing suits and sunhats, constructing a sloppy sandcastle with brightly-colored shovels and pails.

The wind snatched the hat off of the little boy's head, revealing a mop of unruly brown curls. Yowling at the theft, he ran after the hat on tan, chubby legs, catching up with it right before it tumbled into the water. Kurt watched with misting eyes as the boy carried his prize back to his mother, who firmly settled it back onto his head, affectionately rubbing his little back through his patterned swim shirt as he plopped back into the sand and began refilling his bucket.

Kurt chewed on his bottom lip. The little boy easily could have been Blaine at three years old, and Kurt's heart clenched as he watched him play with his big sister.

Despite the multitude of photos he had of Blaine—on his camera, phone, computer; there was even one in his wallet that someone had taken on New Year's Eve that Blaine didn't know about—he had somehow gone their entire friendship, relationship, and long-distance hiatus without ever seeing a picture of Blaine as a child; nothing that had been taken before the 6th or 7th grade. It wasn't something that he had ever thought about before (and it wasn't as though he'd seen baby pictures of any of his other friends, either), but the omission suddenly felt glaring, and Kurt found himself unexpectedly yearning to see them; to know Blaine better, know him entirely—what he looked like as a child, who his first crush was in junior high, what he thought about in the middle of the night when he couldn't sleep, what his children would look like, whether he would cry from happiness when they were born (although the answer to that one, Kurt was sure, was a resounding yes).

In so many ways, it was like before, when he and Blaine had first met and Kurt had fallen for him hard and fast.

Only, he thought slowly, arms folded over his jacket and hands grasping his elbows as he turned away from the little boy and looked back out over the lake, now it's real.

Now, it's real.

Kurt swallowed painfully. If they ever got back together, he was going to plead and nudge and needle with his best puppy-dog eyes until Blaine dug out all of his childhood photo albums. It wouldn't be everything, but it would be a start.

And if they didn't…

Almost as soon as Blaine had returned from the Frozen Land of the Northern Tundra ("It's not nearly that bad in the spring and summer," Blaine had insisted, the first time he'd heard Kurt's description) he'd been whisked away again, this time to visit his mom's parents in rural Pennsylvania, where technology went to die ("That one is about as bad as you think it is," Blaine had admitted gloomily) before the start of the new school year.

Despite the quick turnaround, however, Blaine had managed to visit him once before leaving him again, one afternoon after work:

Kurt was driving home, sweaty and tired and beyond ready for a shower, when he spotted the familiar Honda in front of his house. Wide-eyed and hardly daring to believe it, he turned into his driveway a little faster than was strictly safe, barely shifting the car into park before ripping his keys from the ignition and shoving open the door:

Blaine was standing on his front porch, waiting for him.

Heart pounding in his chest, Kurt practically flew down the path, forgetting to shut and lock the car door in his haste. "Blaine!" he blurted out stupidly as he bounded up to the steps in front of the porch, smiling goofily and uncontrollably. "Why didn't you—when did you get back; I would have taken the day off if I'd…"

Kurt trailed off as he really looked at Blaine, noticing with growing unease that Blaine was trembling, his skin paler and clammier-looking than was usual or healthy; a sharp contrast to the pinkish tinge around his eyes that made Kurt realize with dread that he'd probably been crying recently. "Blaine…" Kurt began helplessly, pausing when he couldn't figure out what to ask.

Blaine took Kurt's obvious concern as his cue. "It was you, wasn't it," he managed to state rather than ask, his voice thick and raspy with tears or exhaustion—or perhaps some complicated mix of the two. "You're the one who started the fundraiser at the zoo, and did all of that work to keep Rafiki here. For me."

His eyes were glistening, and Kurt felt his mouth dry suddenly. He had never intended to tell Blaine who was behind the project; it was enough that someone had done it, and that Blaine was happy.

But far, far worse than admitting the truth would be lying to Blaine again, especially with their history. "It was," he confessed nervously, unsure whether Blaine would be happy that Kurt had helped save his lion or disappointed in Kurt for keeping the scope of his involvement in the project from him.

And for a moment, it seemed as if the answer would be both—tears threatening, Blaine shook his head, smiling sadly and ruefully. "I should have known," he chastised himself quietly, gazing at Kurt. "Nobody loves the lions like I do; nobody else would have put in that much time and effort and—"

He broke off, swallowing.

Kurt watched him, hypnotically.

Blaine noticed and dabbed at his eyes with the sleeve of his cardigan. "But nobody loves me like you do," he admitted softly, his breath hitching in his throat. "Kurt, I—thank you." He held out his hand, tugging Kurt up the porch steps and into a hug, burying his face in the crook of Kurt's neck and holding onto him like a lifeline.

Kurt, still reeling from the knowledge that Blaine had somehow found him out, wrapped his arms around him carefully, not entirely trusting the good fortune that he was so desperate to have. "You're not upset with me that I didn't tell you?" he murmured gently into Blaine's hair, breathing in the familiar but nearly-forgotten scent of Blaine's shampoo and conditioning serum and cologne; a heady mixture that made his limbs shake with want.

Blaine shook his head slightly, not moving from Kurt's arms. "How could I be?" he replied honestly, his breath warm on Kurt's shirt. "It's—what you did is the most wonderful thing that anyone has ever done for me, Kurt. I could never be upset about that, ever. What you did for—I could spend the rest of my life trying to deserve something like that and never get there. I just…thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

His arms tightened around Kurt's ribcage, and Kurt surrendered.

Blaine was warm and solid against him; his body, encircled by Kurt's, still fitting as if the two of them were made to piece together, despite the fact that they'd each grown a little taller over the summer, filled out a little more. Everything was heat and tension and right, and Kurt knew that the second he let go, the absence of Blaine would pain him again; the familiar ache in his bones that he'd been living with for months but had never quite learned to accept; a feeling that had never quite faded in its sharp intensity to something that would, or could, be ignored.

So he didn't let go.

Neither did Blaine.

Kurt pulled his jacket tighter against his body.

No decisions about the future had been made that day. Kurt already knew what he'd known since the day before his father had nearly died—that he wanted, needed Blaine in his life as someone more than his best friend, and that he wouldn't back down unless Blaine specifically told him to. But the invisible barrier that had restrained Kurt from tugging Blaine further into his arms and kissing him, showing him wordlessly what he was too afraid to say, lest his hopes be shut down for good, was still there, and Kurt knew in his heart, that as much as he wanted to leap over it and be done with all the insecurities and doubts and hopes and ruminations, that they both had to want to throw out all the mistakes they had made before in order to start again; start again and do it right this time.

He already knew where he stood, and after the revelation that Kurt had been the one behind the efforts at the zoo—as grand and dramatic a gesture for the ages as there ever was—he knew that Blaine knew it, too.

Which meant that Blaine had to be the one to bridge the space between them.

Behind Kurt, familiar footsteps crunched over the gravely path and onto the rough sand. A big, warm hand gently clapped him on the shoulder. "Ready to go, Buddy?" Burt asked.

Kurt turned his head to look at him, his hair getting tousled by the wind blowing at them off of the lake. Burt had left his baseball cap in the car, wary of losing it in the breeze, but he otherwise looked like he always did, wearing jeans and a flannel shirt that Kurt had patched and mended the elbows of long before, when Burt had refused to part with it.

To Kurt, already nostalgic after a weekend alone with his father and a morning spent thinking about Blaine, he looked like home.

Something of what he was thinking must have shown on his face, because Burt stepped in and wrapped his arm around Kurt's shoulders. "I love you too, Kiddo," he promised solemnly, shaking Kurt affectionately and pulling him into his side. "Stay and watch the waves for another minute or two?"

His head tucked against Burt's shoulder, Kurt nodded serenely.

Nodding back, Burt tightened his grip on his son, and the two of them stood there, facing the water together. Kurt relaxed into his dad's arm, feeling more at peace than he had in a long, long time.

It had been a rough number of years for them. His mother had died too suddenly and too young, and nothing could ever make up for that, or bring her back and give the three of them the life that they should have had. And it wasn't something that either Kurt or Burt would ever entirely get over, no matter how many years continued to pass.

But the two of them were going to be fine.

That night, Burt watched as Kurt packed all of his new school supplies into his slightly-worn-but-still-sturdy bookbag at the kitchen table, hands working with precise deliberation.

"Are you nervous?" he wanted to know.

Kurt briefly considered lying, but decided against it—even if he could look past the whole "being honest with my friends and family" tack he was trying to stick with, the stiffness of his movements had likely already given him away. "Yes," he admitted, buckling the two straps that held the bag closed and nodding at it, satisfied.

Burt looked on sympathetically. "There's still time to change your mind, if you want to," he reminded Kurt. "Smart kid like you; we could probably get you in just about anywhere."

Kurt shook his head. "No—I can handle it," he assured Burt thinly.

Burt was unimpressed. "I know you can handle it," he stressed. "You've got so much steel running through your backbone, they could drop an anvil on your head, and you could handle it. I'm just reminding you that you don't have to."

Kurt smiled briefly at the imagery, before taking a deep breath and blowing it back out. "I want to," he said with conviction, looking his dad in the eye. "I'm ready for this."

Burt watched him searchingly for a moment, then nodded. "Okay then," he said simply. "Whatever you think is best for you, I'll back you up all the way; you know that. And hey," he added, "even if the drive's a little further than Carmel, at least they gave you that fancy jacket to wear, right?"

Kurt glanced over at the door leading downstairs to his basement room.

Hanging from the doorframe, in a heavy plaid garment bag, was his very own Dalton Academy blazer.

Late that night, far later than he had any desire to be awake, Kurt lay stretched out on his bed in a boneless, frustrated heap, wishing that the idea of taking a low dose of sleeping pills had occurred to him before 1:00am. Rolling over on his side, he glared, exhausted, at the glowing numbers on the digital clock.

If they noticed his annoyance, they gave no indication of it.

Rolling his eyes and flopping back on his pillow with a sigh, Kurt cast his mind way back, remembering his first first day of school ever. His mother had held his hand tightly all the way up the path from the car to St. Luke's preschool, his dad walking backward in front of them with the video camera, grinning and peppering the pair of them with questions.

The camera had died a sudden and inglorious death seven years later, when Burt had accidentally sent the box it was in tumbling down the stepladder leading up to the attic. Kurt didn't miss it.

He still sort of wished that his mother was there to hold his hand, though. Especially after the thought occurred to him that, in only a few days, he'd be seventeen years old, and have officially lived more of his life without his mom than with her.

Untangling himself from his bedsheets and padding over to the dresser, Kurt picked up the picture of himself and his parents than Blaine had given him for Christmas, moving it over to his nightstand where he could see it better. Once he was settled back into bed, he reached out and traced a finger over his mother's hair.

"I miss you," he whispered quietly. "I wish you were here."

Suddenly much more drained than before, Kurt closed his eyes and slowly, finally, drifted off.

The grand staircase in Dalton Academy's main academic building was sprawling and ornate, with intricate, wrought iron siding that spiraled up to the second and third floors underneath an equally impressive glass-domed ceiling. The effect was both visually interesting and architecturally classy, and Kurt, sitting on the third step above the richly-furnished main hall, felt a little small and out of place.

Nervously, he glanced at his watch and tugged at the slightly-too-long sleeves of his navy blazer (he had decided against hemming his uniform until after his growth spurt finished), listening carefully for approaching footsteps. It was still early in the morning, almost an hour before classes were scheduled to begin, and Kurt had only seen one other student in the ten minutes he'd been waiting; a yawning, blazer-less boy with a crooked tie and an inhumanly large styrofoam cup of coffee.

Which was fine by Kurt, given that he was three minutes away from a conversation which would have some fairly substantial repercussions, one way or another. And that type of conversation was one of the few things that Kurt really didn't want an audience for.

If Wes had been pleased to hear from Kurt the week before, it was nothing compared to his reaction when Kurt had mentioned that he was planning on transferring to Dalton for the new school year. His excitement—while still dignified and slightly formal, in the manner that Kurt had come to expect from him—was palpable over the phone, and it had taken Kurt several minutes to extract a promise from him that he wouldn't immediately email every Warbler that he had ever met, past and present, and inform them that Dalton Academy would soon be in possession of its first countertenor in 47 years.

"I'm not even certain that I'm planning on auditioning yet, to tell you the truth," Kurt had admitted, to Wes's sputtering horror. "I want to, but…it's complicated. And if it's not too much to ask, I could really use your help with something."

Wes had quickly and solemnly pledged his assistance upon hearing Kurt's request, and had even redoubled his vow of absolute secrecy—"Excepting the other two members of the Warbler's Council, of course," he'd cautioned. "You can be assured of their silence as well, but it would be unbefitting of my role as Senior Councilmember if I were to proceed without their approval."

Kurt had agreed—and fortunately, so had David and Thad, the other members of the Warbler's three-man leadership. Kurt was given a time and a place to wait; all he could do after that was hope that Wes followed through.

And at exactly 7:15am, Kurt was startled out of his simmering, nervous reverie by the sound of a large wooden door opening down the hall. He quickly wiped his sweating palms on the back of his pants and fixed his hair, as two slightly muffled voices drifted down the hall toward him:

"…usually the Council that approves or denies potential auditioners, to be voted on by the Warblers at large, but your opinion was specifically solicited as well," Wes was saying, no hint of the early morning hour discernible in his voice. "What's more, he's also requested a blind hearing, meaning that if one of the four of us votes against him—and he's consequently not selected for a formal audition—he's not permitted to find out who, or how many, failed to vote in his favor."

"Yes, but why?" Blaine asked, sounding tired, and Kurt's pulse began to race at the sound of the familiar voice. "I don't know any of the new students yet; why would anyone care whether or not I wanted him to join, and go out of his way to make it so that I could vote against him and not get—"

Blaine and Wes turned the corner, coming face to face with Kurt, where he was still seated on the grand staircase.

"Hi," Kurt said quietly, suddenly more self-conscious than he'd been in…years, possibly.

"…blamed," Blaine finished finally, staring at Kurt like he couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. "Kurt, what are—"

He paused, realization dawning in his eyes. "You're wearing a uniform," he said breathlessly. "Does that mean…"

Wes clapped Blaine on the shoulder. "Oh, you two already know each other, then," he said mildly, winking conspiratorially at Kurt behind Blaine's back. "Blaine, Kurt Hummel is one of our new transfer students this year. I was hoping to introduce you two, to give you a chance to get to know him before the Council votes on his application, but since you're already acquainted, maybe I'll give the pair of you a chance to catch up, instead."

He patted a still-stunned Blaine on the shoulder again, before nodding at Kurt. "Welcome to Dalton, Kurt," he said politely, smiling in an overly-innocent manner that almost reminded Kurt a little of Jesse.

With a final nod at Blaine, Wes turned away and walked out the door he had come in, leaving Kurt and Blaine alone in the main hall.

Kurt broke the silence.

"So…I kind of hope that you meant it, when you told me that I should come to Dalton," he said with a slight grimace, hardly daring to meet Blaine's eyes.

Blaine, who clearly hadn't heard a word that Kurt had said, and was shaking his head disbelievingly. "You're here," he replied instead, starting to smile. "I can't—you're really here."

Encouraged, Kurt returned the smile shyly. "It wasn't easy, he admitted, glancing down at his shoes before looking back at Blaine. "They had capped their new student registration by the time I called, so I had to pull out all the stops—grades, athletics, a letter of commendation from the zoo staff, citing my 'outstanding community service experience and natural leadership ability'."

He rolled his eyes self-deprecatingly as he air-quoted. "I think it was the call from my math teacher that sealed the deal, though," he added, giving Blaine a wry, knowing look. "It seems that there was still a substantial amount of scholarship money left for a junior who's mathematically competent enough to tutor calculus in the Homework Resource Center one afternoon a week until graduation. Not enough to cover room and board, of course, but I would have lived at home anyway."

Blaine rubbed the back of his neck, still shaking his head a little. "I'm surprised that they didn't offer you a music scholarship," he replied, his eyes trained on Kurt as though he thought Kurt might disappear if he looked away. "Something like two-thirds of the Warblers have at least part of their tuition paid for by an endowment."

Kurt closed his eyes. "I didn't ask for one," he admitted.

Blaine raised an eyebrow, confused, and Kurt shook his head quickly. "I—the Warblers are yours," he continued, before Blaine could say anything. "I couldn't—coming to school here is already so much; joining the Warblers without even asking you first would have been…"

Kurt shook his head again, sighing at his lack of eloquence. "Anyway, I'll be taking voice lessons twice a week, still," he added, "so I have that. And now that Dad and Carole are officially dating, Rachel's convinced herself that I'm part of the family, and she wants me to join the Gay Men's Chorus that her dads are in. I wasn't sure about that one, but I listened to them on their website, and they're actually really good, so…"

He shrugged listlessly. "It's enough to keep me improving, if you don't want me to audition. I'll miss it, but—"

"Stop," Blaine interrupted, quietly but so abruptly that Kurt obeyed without even thinking about it.

He held out his hand and Kurt took it, only to be pulled to his feet and down the last few steps of the staircase.

"We're finding Wes," Blaine insisted as he began to lead Kurt down the hall, still gripping his hand tightly. "We're going to tell the Council that you're auditioning."

He looked back at Kurt, who was trailing half a step behind him, and Kurt was surprised to see something like calm determination on his face, making him look older and more beautiful than ever.

"You're auditioning," Blaine informed him, their pace down the hall slowing without either of them really noticing. "And you're going to blow them away, because that's what you do. And next month, when you're a full member, you're going to fight me for every single solo that fits your voice. Every solo, Kurt, the same way that you would if anyone but me was the lead singer," he insisted, staring powerfully into Kurt's eyes. "I mean it, Kurt; don't you dare—you can't hold yourself back because of me. I…can't be the one who does that to you."

Kurt's vision began to swim, either from inconveniently-timed tears or oxygen deprivation, and he took a couple of deep breaths, blinking rapidly. "You really—do you mean that?" he asked, biting his bottom lip and feeling his cheeks heat up slightly as they flushed a light pink. "You want me to…"

Blaine nodded, squeezing Kurt's hand. "Yes," he stressed, "I do. I just—God, Kurt," he sighed, finally tearing his eyes away from Kurt and looking down the hall. "You were the lead singer in Vocal Adrenaline, the best show choir in the country. I know it didn't turn out to be what you expected, but I really thought that it was what you wanted." He looked back at Kurt questioningly.

It was a question that Kurt could answer, absolutely and definitively.

"I wanted you more," he said simply.

Blaine continued to stare at him with something like awe creeping into his expression, and Kurt felt his blush deepening as he looked self-consciously at the ground. "But please don't feel like—Dalton's a great school, and even with the commute every day I'll still have more time to spend with my dad than I did at Carmel, and—"

Kurt was abruptly cut off as Blaine's mouth closed decisively over his.

The kiss was everything that Kurt had been missing for so long—warmth and light and closeness and the solidity, the certainty, of Blaine's heart beating sharp and fast and young against his own. Kurt grasped the lapels of Blaine's blazer, pulling him in closer as Blaine gently wound a hand into his hair, kissing him deeply and reverently and tilting his head at just the right angle, making Kurt's limbs shake and his heart skip a beat and race on, faster and fuller; wanting to gasp for air and being totally, completely unable.

When they finally broke apart, Blaine kept a hand on the back of his neck and leaned his forehead on Kurt's, breathing heavy and eyes glittering.

"I missed you so much," he murmured quietly, reaching up with his other hand to stroke Kurt's cheek. "I'm so glad we made it here."

Kurt straightened Blaine's lapel and ran his hand down Blaine's arm, lacing his fingers through Blaine's against his cheek when he reached his hand.

"I'm so glad," he replied in the same quiet tone, "that you were such a terrible spy that day."

Blaine blinked for a moment, confused, before scoffing. "I wasn't spying," he pointed out indignantly, clearly not even trying to hold back his smile. "I had a hall pass, and I think we firmly established that—"

Stepping forward, Kurt cut Blaine off mid-sentence with another searing, overdue kiss.

Blaine would just have to remind him what they'd 'firmly established' some other time.

At 3:30 that afternoon, Kurt auditioned for the Dalton Academy Warblers.

The room was filled with boys in blazers, excited and chattering and greeting each other and horsing around. Some of them looked familiar to Kurt, from the few times he'd seen the Warblers in action that summer; others were strangers, not even familiar from his first day of classes. All of them were quick to sit down when Wes whacked a wooden gavel onto a large, official-looking desk and called the meeting to order. And all of them smiled encouragingly at him as Wes introduced him to the choir as their newest auditioner, a hush of whispers traveling around the room when it was mentioned that he'd recently transferred from Carmel High School.

In the middle of everyone was Blaine, watching him with clear eyes and a hint of a smile.

Kurt looked back at him as the Warbler at the piano gave him his opening pitch; as he took a deep breath, let it out, and inhaled again; as he began to sing.

"When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now,

Will you still be sending me a Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?"

The tempo was slow, far slower than the original track, but Kurt saw the spark of recognition on Blaine's face when he realized what song Kurt had chosen, noticed the murmurs of interest from the other boys out of the corner of his eye as they heard his voice for the first time, as beautiful as it had ever been, and more—because now, as Shelby had said, he was ready to sing with his heart.

"If I'd been out 'til quarter to three, would you lock the door?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too, and if you say the word, I could stay with you."

It was nothing like the first time that he had sung alone in front of Vocal Adrenaline. Back then, Kurt hadn't been nervous simply because the temperature of the room had been decided before he'd even opened his mouth: some were going to approve of him, others would grudgingly respect his performance, and others—out of jealousy or personality clash or merely general contrariness—wouldn't be won over no matter what he did. And while Kurt didn't know what his eventual relationship with the Warblers would be –although he was hoping for the best, there was always the chance that the environment could devolve into the same mess, toxic and past its prime, that VA had—he couldn't help but smile as he soared through the bridge, noticing a few of the more spirited students on the couch behind the Council dancing in their seats along with his voice (quietly, of course, so that Wes wouldn't catch them).

Somehow, he didn't see them turning into the Vocal Adrenaline Machine anytime soon.

And then, there was Blaine. Fluttering his eyelashes and smiling self-consciously at the ground for a second, Kurt took a final deep breath and met Blaine's gentle eyes for the last verse:

"Send me a postcard, drop me a line stating point of view,

Indicate precisely what you mean to say,

Yours sincerely, wasting away.

Give me your answer, fill in a form: mine forevermore,

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

When I'm sixty-four?"

The applause was thunderous, half of the choir leaping to their feet to give Kurt a standing ovation. Hands were clapping him on the back; people were smiling and laughing and congratulating him, marveling at how high his voice could go, peppering him with questions about his range and his training and his teachers.

Still on the couch, tears dripping down his face and smiling beautifully, was Blaine.

Meeting Kurt's gaze, he carefully dried his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt.

And nodded.


Kurt smiled back, his heart beginning to soar all over again.

The End.