Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: 2×12, and a quick mention of something we learned in Sexy
Warnings: bad nicknames, ranting, and enough introspection to fill a Kurt Vonnegut novel
Summary: Blaine is never hanging out with Kurt's friends again.
Author's Note: So, this was my first fic post in the history of my life. A voice started speaking this in my head and I had to write it down, then I posted it, and then I got a lot of good feedback and became hooked on writing fic. Enjoy: this is the one that started it all!

Blaine is never hanging out with Kurt's friends again.

Not because they're bad people. He's sure that if he met them under different circumstances, he'd get along with some of them fine. Blaine isn't one to immediately assume the worst in people, and in truth, he doesn't have a problem with any of the members of McKinley's glee club individually; they all seem to be a little self-involved, but Blaine can't really fault them for that when he knows he can be a little oblivious in his own personal relationships (Valentine's Day brought that to his attention quite suddenly). But no, Blaine's repulsion to the thought of seeing these people again has less to do with any personal faults they might have, and more to do with the lecture A Midsummer Night's Mohawk is currently whispering to him underneath his breath in the kitchen.

"Kurt's my boy, you know," the teen looms over Blaine threateningly. From the stories Kurt has told Blaine about this merry wanderer of the night's affinity for dumpsters, he seriously doubts the validity of his statement. "You seem like a pretty chill dude, man, so I mean… I just wanted to let you know. And the girls wouldn't stop making those faces at me until I did this, so. I guess that's it." He gives Blaine a last parting threat and, shrugging, grabs a can of soda and walks back into the pounding bass emanating from the living room.

Blaine isn't sure whether he wants to throw something or scream. He does neither. Instead, he decides to stay for a while in the kitchen, for reasons entirely not related to avoiding another talk like the one the shrewd and knavish sprite has just subjected him to (and okay, passive-aggressive name-calling is beneath you, Blaine, stop being childish).

Six people have taken him aside tonight and told him to 'get his act together' and start dating Kurt. The first time, in his confusion, Blaine had calmly assured Mercedes that he and Kurt had already discussed the possibility and had decided to remain friends for now. Mercedes all but bit his head off, and Blaine held his hands up in surrender as he was subjected to a long rant listing his defects. He had felt never so insecure about his height before. He hadn't made the mistake of trying to talk since.

Finn was after Mercedes, and while the BFG was much more awkward about it all, after Blaine asked for clarification on a few points he realized that Kurt's step-brother had a very similar view of the situation. He promptly shut up and listened quietly to the stumbling speech. Then he thanked Finn for his opinion and asked if he was allowed to enter the bathroom now.

The Asian girl was a lot less confrontational about it, and at the time Blaine was starting to find it slightly amusing that Kurt's friends were so insistent on Blaine asking Kurt out, so he bore her talk with a grace he had lacked when dealing with the other two. He was thus granted a much shorter journey to the end of it, and was actually able to be sincere when he thanked her. But the blonde Barbie doll had been vicious, and Rachel was typically herself about it, and so by the time Puckerman cornered him in the kitchen Blaine had pretty much had enough.

They're concerned about Kurt, Blaine tells himself. He's sure Kurt has only talked to one or two of them about the situation, and they've taken everything and multiplied and twisted it to fit into their rumor mill. He doubts they're acting this way because Kurt told them to.

But that doesn't make Blaine any more okay with this than he was five minutes ago.

And he gets it. He does. There are times when Blaine catches a look Kurt throws his way, or watches Kurt's lips form around a certain word, or gets a little lost in those whatever-the-hell-color eyes and he thinks fuck it, let's just go out (Blaine only curses when he thinks about Kurt, and if that's not a sign of a potentially abusive future relationship, he doesn't know what is).

But he can't. Because he cannot ruin this.

He needs Kurt's unconditional acceptance like he needs to breathe and if they date, Blaine knows conditions will be added; both of them might change into jealous, distrustful people and they'll fight and break up and maybe even kill each other before it breaks and Blaine washes away into so many pieces, and he can't risk that yet. He wishes with all of his heart that he could, that he could stop needing their friendship so much and simplify all of this. Like an equation, I like Kurt + Kurt likes me = boyfriends yay! But he's not a Prince Charming, or a gay Yoda, or anything else Kurt's inscribed on the pedestal he built for his first. Blaine doesn't fit up there. And Kurt's not any of those things either, Kurt doesn't deserve an unfair pedestal for Blaine to put him on. They'll both have to deal with each other just being each other, and it's so much easier to do that when they don't have a million expectations to confront and shatter. He's too short to reach the top of a pedestal, anyway. (…bitterness, really, Blaine? If you start hating Mercedes, Kurt will never talk to you again. Don't take it so personally, you're like 5'9".)

Blaine sometimes wishes he could just transform into the person he pretends to be. That person wouldn't need acceptance so badly and would just ask Kurt out like Kurt wants him to. Instead, Blaine's a sixteen-year-old gay teenager who has serious self-hatred issues that probably stem from some kind of Freudian wish to be attracted to his mother, and envies his best friend for his confidence and his knowledge of himself and—most terrible of all—his relationship with his father.

And maybe he'll find that he really can't keep doing this, that this unconditional friendship is nothing compared to what they might be as boyfriends. That maybe one day, just staring at Kurt's lips won't be enough, he'll have to touch them. He'll have to have some form of ownership over those too-pretty eyes, or forfeit possession of himself to the boy he trusts more than he trusts himself. He'll change the rules and say "let's date!" and Kurt will wear that huge smile he wears when he's unashamedly happy and they'll sing a love medley on an elephant that ends with kiss. But not yet. He simply, honestly, does not want to. He doesn't think he can handle it. Not yet.

But God, these people! Please please, just leave him alone! Why can't he just cherish the one personal relationship in his life that isn't messed up without someone deciding he needs to throw it away for something else?

It's not fair. It's like it's his responsibility to fall in love with Kurt at this precise moment. Right now, figure it out right now, because if you don't then it'll be too late and it'll be all your fault. And if he finds someone else by the time you figure it out, well, you deserve to have to watch him be happy with someone who isn't you. Because you took too long, because you didn't want to break his heart, and rush into things, and lead him on, and ruin this amazing, honest, truthful friendship you have. (As if watching him be happy with someone else is the worst thing that could possibly happen to Blaine, as if that's a bad thing)

By the end of the night, Blaine's tempted to stay just friends with Kurt forever. Just to spite them.

He's sitting cross-legged on the floor of the kitchen when the unending source of his confusion comes in.

"Hello stranger," Kurt says with the charm of a 1954 Judy Garland, and Blaine can't stop the smile that comes to his lips. "I haven't seen you much this evening."

Kurt won't sit on the floor and ruin his carefully-planned outfit (it's either Alexander McQueen or Marc Jacobs, because Kurt only wears his favorites to parties)—instead, he sits on the kitchen counter across from Blaine. Blaine rests his temple on his fist and looks at Kurt sideways. Kurt studies him with a cocked head and a carefully-raised eyebrow. This is one of those really cute moments Blaine likes to remember when he's feeling particularly low, the kind where they just look at each other and see how long they can go without talking. Then Kurt ruins the moment.

"Mercedes said you were looking for your pot of gold. I didn't think she was serious."

Blaine narrows his eyes in what he hopes is an intimidating glare. His allotted tolerance for short jokes has been spent for the night. Kurt sends him a cheeky smirk.

Blaine decides to let it pass because it's Kurt and he doesn't mean it the way Mercedes did.

"Just taking stock of the tiles on your kitchen floor," he says instead, with proper solemnity. "You can tell a lot about a person by the tiles on their floor."

"Oh?" Kurt cocks his head, playing along like he only ever does with Blaine. "Such as?"

"Well, for one," Blaine starts wickedly, "the person living in this house has a severe case of the Overprotective Friends. You can see it in these little black tiles here." Blaine points out the area as Kurt grimaces.

"Oh no, what did they do?"

"They were excessively forceful in their belief that I should 'tap that before he comes to his senses and dumps you for someone better'." Kurt pales to a color Blaine didn't know was physically possible. Blaine looks up thoughtfully. "I think that was the phrasing… I might have mixed it up a bit. There was quite a lot of variation on the theme."

"I'm going to strangle them," Kurt says matter-of-factly.

Blaine's laugh is only a little forced. "They're just trying to help."

"They're just trying to stick their noses in business that isn't theirs."

"That, too."

Kurt is an odd mixture of white and red, and Blaine stares at him. His heart feels like it's jumped into his throat all of a sudden. He swallows past it thickly.

"Look, Kurt," he starts. Kurt looks at him, suspicion in his eyes (they look bright blue tonight next to the brash red of his outfit). Blaine draws in a breath he didn't know he was lacking. "You know I love you, right?" Kurt's eyes widen and Blaine continues before this means something he doesn't intend it to mean. "Not like I'm in love—I mean, I don't want to put a label on the kind of love it is, but—not that I don't—!" Blaine blows out a sigh. Slow down. "I really, really care about you," he says softly, making sure to be as clear as possible. "I'm fond of you. You mean a lot to me. I love you. That's what I mean."

Kurt is looking at him with the kind of heartbreaking vulnerability that makes Blaine give his cell number and school photo to a boy he barely knows. "Why are you saying this?" he asks quietly.

Blaine cannot get up from the floor. A weight has been tied to his thighs—everything is heavier than it was two minutes ago. He wants to get up and hug the life out of his best friend right now, but he can't. He looks up at Kurt and tries to transmit all of the sincerity he's feeling through the space between them, tries to form words out of the clouds of thought that have thunder-stormed through his head all night: "I love you. I love seeing you happy. And if you find someone that makes you happy, you should go for it; no matter what else I might feel for you. It might take forever for me to be okay with changing what we have… I don't want you to feel like you have to wait for me."

Kurt has a look on his face Blaine has never seen him wear before. It's a combination surprised/wistful/sad/tender/warm that makes Blaine feel like he's the only person in Lima. Blaine forgets that breathing is an option.

Fuck it, let's just go out.

Kurt huffs out a breathy laugh, and for one terrifying second Blaine is afraid he's said that out loud. Then Kurt shakes his head and says, "You have to stop opening your mouth when you get in these moods, Blaine, or you're going to ruin every boy in Ohio for me."

Blaine grants Kurt a small smile for that. "So?" he asks quietly.

Kurt blinks at him. "You make me happy," he says. "I'll let you know if that changes."

Blaine smiles for real this time and stands up, dusting the weights off his thighs. "Shall we flaunt our unchanged friendship to your adoring public?" he asks, offering Kurt his hand. Kurt uses it to hop off the table and folds their arms together.

"Yes, let's," he says airily.

They parade out the kitchen door: Kurt with his chin raised defiantly, and Blaine failing miserably at hiding his grin.