Am I the only one who realized it is Klaine's 6 month anniversary today?

Anyway, in honor of that, this is a sort of companion piece to my story "Right". Part of the flashback scene (a very small part) is lifted from my other story, "Of Finding Courage and Finding Yourself". A more extensive ( and less single topic oriented) version of the scene can be found in chapter 2 of that story, if you're interested.

Song lyrics, characters, and recognizable Glee plot do not belong to me.

I would love it if you would leave a review when you finish. :) Emily

"Free"

Blaine feels oddly exhilarated right now, that sort of high he only ever felt when he had just finished a song and the audience was bursting into applause. But today is different. Absent today are the stage, the audience, and the performance.

Here instead is a short conversation in a little coffee shop that solidified his new outlook on life. Here instead is Blaine, sitting by himself after his boyfriend's departure, in this modest cafe called the Lima Bean, perhaps at once the most mundane and cherished of all the places in his life.

He doesn't need the performance high, anymore, to feel as though every part of him is vibrant with color and life. He doesn't need to be confident in the audience's reaction or comforted by the sort of personal anonymity that comes with stage performance.

He used to love knowing that those people in the audience didn't, most likely, know much at all about him, or, for that matter, care. He used to love that he only had to worry about how people would react to his true self for the well-defined time of the performance. He used to love that he could go and sing his heart out while knowing he wouldn't see most of them ever again.

That anonymity freed him from the pressure of fitting in, allowed him to be himself in a way he hadn't in a long time.

He doesn't love those things anymore.

He loves other, more important things.

Kurt was in about the tenth minute straight of describing the New Direction's escapades in New York.

Blaine was listening to all of it. Really, he was. He had even contributed a little to the conversation. But mostly, he was staring at his boyfriend, who was beautiful and adorable and excited, his eyes glistening as he rattled off story after story that he had been longing to share in person.

Blaine had forgotten just how much he had been missing in the last week, and it had sort of hit him hard when Kurt had walked into the Lima Bean. Apparently, that had been mutual, because when Kurt had sat down, they had simply stared at each other for a few seconds before they started talking. Being in each other's presence had been enough.

Blaine hadn't really wanted to give that feeling up, so he was both listening and staring. He was fairly certain he could do both without arousing suspicion at his strange behavior. But even if it was suspicious, he didn't care, because he wasn't going to stop.

The attention he had been paying to the conversation only faltered when he started to think about Kurt, too. He was thinking about how happy he was and how much happier he was now than he had been at the beginning of this year. He was also thinking about how freeing this whole thing had been, being with Kurt.

It was entirely true, what he said at the end of this musing. And it didn't come as out of the blue to him as it seemed to to Kurt. He was thinking about it, just then, and so he said it. Because why wait? Blaine didn't wait to say things like that. Dalton robot Blaine did. But Blaine didn't.

"I love you."

Kurt nearly choked on his coffee, his eyebrows shooting up as Blaine felt what he knew to be a ridiculously dopey smile appear, unprompted, across his face.

Kurt swallowed his drink carefully, searching Blaine's expression, and replied, "I love you, too," his eyes sparkling significantly more than they had been just a few seconds earlier, their depths almost playful in their fire and warmth.

Blaine's heart jumped at the phrase and most especially at the effortless way in which Kurt had delivered it.

They smiled at each other for a few seconds.

"You know," Kurt said, a cheeky smile on his face, "when you stop and think about it," he glanced back up at Blaine from the side, "Kurt Hummel has had a pret-ty good year." He lifted his eyebrows for emphasis, the lively smile still firmly affixed to his face.

Blaine's sense of happiness expanded even more at how at ease they were with each other. That moment was monumental, but it wasn't huge. It just was, just existed, in the same way that their friendship had formed: strong, comfortable, effortless.

Blaine Anderson has had a pretty good year, too, he thought.

That relationship is the reason he doesn't need the safe emotional highs of performance anymore.

Kurt has taught him to risk being himself all the time, to forget about what people will think and live.

When they first met, he was this impersonal ideal for Kurt, the out and proud gay kid at the prestigious private school with all the solos in the school choir. He was the perfect mentor with the tragic past that he had overcome.

The early days of their friendship felt exactly like that, exactly like Blaine bestowing his (legitimate) knowledge of their situation to Kurt and (more significantly) providing him with a sunny little window in a dark hall. He didn't know what he was doing either, but he could be that fragile piece of glass that still let some light in.

As much as Kurt thinks the learning between them was a one-way street, it really wasn't. Blaine learned, as time went on, as much about himself and life as Kurt learned from Blaine.

When Blaine explained to Kurt what Dalton was like after the boy's Don't Cry for Me Argentina solo attempt, he was that robot mentor. When Blaine watched Kurt attempt to fit in on stage at Sectional's, that mentor recognized his influence. When they sang Baby, It's Cold Outside, Blaine saw the old performing Kurt, and lamented its loss. Kurt's performance (and his own) had taught him something about performance—nothing beats genuine emotion. After that day, he tried to encourage that in Kurt, but more importantly in himself.

And perhaps serenading Jeremiah and dating Rachel were products of that new idea—that it was not only okay, but right and desirable and freeing to be himself. He felt safe faltering because he had Kurt to fall back on. He felt safe faltering because someone else would understand why he had, why he had put himself out there when he might get hurt.

That boy, his best friend, who cried when he was sad and when he was happy, when he was overwhelmed and when he was at peace, inspired him to try to be open all the time, to aspire to be free with himself and let the world react as it would.

Together, they had produced raw emotion in song, raw emotion that Kurt had opened Blaine up to.

Blackbird, for one, had opened Blaine's eyes to the feelings he had probably felt for a long time.

Candles, then, had been the (hastily rehearsed) song that hadn't been a performance at all. When he sang "And someday, you will get back everything you gave me," he had really meant it, and Kurt had, too.

Blaine had been Kurt's hope when he had really needed it. Kurt had been Blaine's liberator from the monotony of hiding and fitting in.

A buzz from his phone brings Blaine out of his mind and back into the coffee shop. He glances down at his phone and notices that there's a new text message on the screen. Miss you already, it reads, Love you. Blaine smiles, very excited but not in the least bit nervous that they get to exchange these words whenever they want. He thinks for a second before tapping out, Been thinking about you since you left. You're amazing, you know that? And I love you, too.

The response is almost instantaneous. Blaine, you're not allowed to say things like that when I'm not going to see you for twenty-four hours. I can't even say that you're amazing, too, in person, or thank you for showing me so much this year.

Blaine smiles softly. You taught me so much more this year than I ever taught you. I would still be Dalton robot Blaine.

Yeah, comes Kurt's reply, but Dalton robot Blaine is still fairly charming. I think I'll keep both of you. Pocket watch, hair gel, and all. As much as the second one kills me.

Mm, okay. :) Generous of you.

I have a big heart. Okay, I should really go. Dad wants me to stop texting and start attending to the conversation ;)

Blaine smiles at the first line, because it's so true, and at the wink, his favorite feature of Kurt's texts because he can picture the look so easily on his boyfriend's face. Okay. See you tomorrow. Love you.

Love you, too.

Blaine sits at the table for a second more, rereading their conversation so he can replay it over and over in his mind as he drives home.

That jittery feeling—the one he used to get from performing—is still there as he stands. It's still there as he walks to the door and deposits his phone in his pocket. It's still there as he walks to the car, "I love you, too," running through his mind on repeat.

It's there when he takes out his phone to read their last exchange one more time before he leaves. It's there when he gets home and the fire in Kurt's eyes as they spoke plays before his eyes.

It will be there when he goes to bed and when he wakes up in the morning.

And it will be there the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that.

He used to hide himself, to shy away from emotion and expression. He used to shelter himself from the negatives of unguarded interaction with others, depriving himself of the positives of vulnerability along the way. He used to let himself forget what it was like to freely be who he is.

All he had needed was Kurt to open his eyes.

All he needs is Kurt, and he's free.