Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.

"Can I ask you a question?"

Ms. Pillsbury looked up, surprised, as Blaine tapped on the doorjamb, a slight, startled smile on her face. "Absolutely, no problem, come in," she urged, clearing some of the folders off her desk in one fell swoop. She hurriedly adjusted her pencil holder, carefully pulling out one of the pens and laying it beside a clean sheaf of paper, folding her hands on the desk. "What can I do for you?"

"I need some advice, actually," Blaine said, sliding into one of the chairs and resting his satchel on his knees.

"Okay, well, you've come to the right place," Ms. Pillsbury said, smiling. "How can I help?"

"I have . . . sort of a rocky relationship with my parents," Blaine began. He'd spent hours contemplating the easiest way to phrase it without making it sound like he had abusive or negligent parents, eventually settling on the simplest terms that he could. "We've tried reaching out to each other in the past, but we usually end up in our separate corners regardless of what we do." He shrugged, spreading his hands in an ambivalent gesture. "I got accepted into Tisch – "

"Congratulations," Ms. Pillsbury said, beaming.

Blaine offered a small smile. "Thank you. I got accepted and now I'm worried that if I leave for New York, we won't talk to each other." More quietly, he added, "I'm lucky enough that I have both my parents and they're willing to reach out to me, but we keep hitting a stumbling block and it just feels like we never make any progress."

"Have you tried talking to them about it?"

"Repeatedly," Blaine said. Then, concessionary: "We haven't talked that much about it, but we've brought it up more than once."

"Okay. Okay, well, it sounds like you three are on the right track. When did you notice that you stopped speaking in the first place?"

Blaine bit his lip. "At my old school – before I went to Dalton – there was a dance and it ended badly. They didn't take it very well."

Ms. Pillsbury nodded once. Blaine didn't need to ask if she had heard about the information circulated about his old Sadie Hawkins' dance long ago, courtesy of Jacob Ben Israel's blog: it didn't matter. "Okay. What made you notice the change?"

"The silence," Blaine said at once. "My parents have never been the most outspoken people about anything, but . . . after that, it was like I didn't exist." He offered a light, self-deprecating shrug. "I didn't really care once I found my niche at Dalton, but lately it's been harder to ignore."

"And why is that?" Ms. Pillsbury prompted gently.

Blaine was quiet for a time, considering that. He didn't know why it bothered him so much: his parents had never been exceptionally outgoing individuals. They had always kept their distance, preferring to witness his growth from afar and offer candid comments at opportune moments rather than lengthy conversations. Enrolled as he was in summer camps and extracurriculars, he didn't notice the void left by a lack of activities, an emptiness meant to be filled with unconditional parental support.

"At Dalton, I trusted the Warblers," Blaine said at last. "I thought that they would never hurt me. I was wrong, and they tried to hurt Kurt. And as much as I love the Glee club here at McKinley, they're going to be graduating soon, and we probably won't see each other for years once the summer's over." Shrugging, he finished softly, "Kurt and his family have been . . . beyond generous, but I don't feel comfortable knowing that the only people that will support me if something goes wrong are directly related to my boyfriend. If something were to happen between Kurt and I. . . ."

Ms. Pillsbury nodded. "You don't want to be abandoned."

"I don't want to put Kurt in a position where he feels obligated to care for me even if we're in the middle of a fight," Blaine amended. "And, yes, I don't want to be left on my own if something bad happens. If we . . . break up."

"Have you and Kurt talked that over?"

Blaine pursed his lips. "We've discussed the possibility of a break up, yes," he said quietly. "We don't want to, but we've talked about it. We can't avoid living the same apartment – it's too expensive to rent out separate lofts – but Rachel's going to stay with us and hopefully she'll keep things from getting explosive. If nothing else, we'll have classes and hopefully jobs or internships to keep us busy."

"It's good that you two understand that that's a possibility," Ms. Pillsbury said. "Realistic is good. Which is why it's also good that you want to mend your relationship with your parents. Parents can – parents can be a tough subject, because sometimes what they want for their children isn't the best for them, and other times . . . well, other times they just need to take a more active role. I think it's very encouraging that yours have already expressed an interest in becoming a more active part of your life."

She leaned over and pulled open a file cabinet under her desk, rifling through a drawer and pulling out a pamphlet, sliding it across the desk top carefully. "'Communication is key,'" she read. "As often as teenagers and adults alike apply that term to romantic relationships, it's really the golden rule for any relationship. If you don't have communication, then you don't have a relationship. It's really that simple."

Blaine picked up the pamphlet carefully, staring at the cartoon diagram on the cover of two stick figures with their arms crossed facing away from each other. He browsed through it, noting tactful drawings of the same unhappy stick figures placed next to each bullet. Be honest and respect each other were two of the highlights; Blaine didn't know what to make of take risks.

"You need to tell them how you really feel," Ms. Pillsbury said as he paused on express your emotions. "You're already at a point where they're willing to listen. If you can show them that you're concerned about the future of your relationship, then you can start talking about ways to mend it. Whether you're angry or upset or frustrated or just unhappy, you need to let them know if you want to bridge the gap between you."

"And if they don't listen?"

"If they don't listen, then they're not ready," Ms. Pillsbury replied, her voice taking on an almost gentle quality as she leaned forward, clearly trying to emphasize how willing and receptive she was to his thoughts and concerns. It was nice, in a way: Blaine couldn't remember the last time outside of Kurt's family someone had expressed such genuine concern for him. Except for the time when his mother had looked at him like a prodigal's son when he returned for a brief visit, hope and wonder and a hint of fear in her eyes as she looked at him. Blaine carefully shut those thoughts out, focusing on the present instead as Ms. Pillsbury finished with, ". . . once they're ready, they'll listen."

Nodding in acceptance, Blaine pocketed the pamphlet, shouldered his satchel, and stood up. "Thank you for your time," he said simply.

"It was my pleasure," Ms. Pillsbury assured. "Good luck. If you need any more advice, feel free to stop by. I'm here for the rest of the week." She smiled.

Blaine nodded again as he stepped out of the office, his chest constricting a little as he realized that she meant it: one more week and everything would change. The seniors would graduate while the rest of the students braced themselves for another year. Clubs would be disbanded and reopened for auditions mid-summer, leading roles usurped and reclaimed as fresh blood arose to the challenge. It was especially strange to the think that the choir room, doubling temporarily as a storage room in the absence of the New Directions, would soon enough be filled with a dozen fresh new faces eager to tackle their first competition.

Heart in his throat, he pushed his way through the doors to the boys' locker rooms, deciding that a good boxing session wouldn't hurt. He needed to clear his thoughts, and Kurt was out at lunch with Mercedes and Tina, anyway. Blaine had been lucky to catch Ms. Pillsbury at an off time; most teachers took lunch breaks alongside their students, but he'd chanced the possibility that she might have been busy in the last few days of school and lucked out.

Walking slowly through the motions of stripping down to his undershirt and tugging on a pair of boxing gloves, he sank his fist into the punching bag, savoring the way it thudded on impact. He punched it several more times in rapid succession, quickly building up a rhythm that had him grunting with each blow. It made it easy to tune out the rest of the world, focused entirely as he was on the red column in front of him. Each hit landed with a satisfying thud, packed with enough force to sway the bag but not so much that it rebounded back painfully. Time passed in a blur, his chest heaving with exertion by the time a hand fell on his shoulder, giving it a single hard squeeze.

"Blaine," Kurt said, sounding half-fond, half-exasperated as he tugged him away from the bag, still swinging from his final punch. Blaine sank heavily back onto the bench that Kurt guided him towards, offering a sheepish grin up at him. "How long have you been down here?" he asked, reaching out and picking up Blaine's left glove, carefully prying it off. "Hm? I tried calling you like, five times." He pulled off his right glove, dropping them next to Blaine's bag. "Did something happen?" he asked, more gently, as he started unraveling the protective bandages. When they were both gone Blaine flexed his hands, a breathy sigh of relief escaping him. "Blaine?"

"I just needed a break," Blaine assured, reaching out to pet Kurt's arm once soothingly. He would have squeezed it, but his hands were still cramping a little from being trapped inside the gloves so long and a quick, gentle stroke was the best he could manage. "Besides, I won't be able to box during the summer. I should fit in as much as I can now."

Kurt huffed a little, picking up his boxing gear and dumping it into his duffle bag, zipping it up when he was done. He pulled out the spare clothes Blaine had in his locker, tossing them on the bench beside him before grabbing the corners of Blaine's sweaty undershirt and unceremoniously pulling it over his head.

"Hey," Blaine grumbled, reaching up to smooth down his doubtless hideously ruffled hair.

"Go shower," Kurt urged, handing him the clothes and tugging him to his feet, giving him a firm nudge towards the showers.

Blaine rolled his eyes, leaning forward for a quick peck and a murmured, "I love you, too," as he sauntered off.

He was at least eighty percent sure that Kurt totally ogled his ass the entire walk, and would have continued to do so had the shower's privacy partition not existed.

Still, the shower was good, even with Kurt staring at his torso in an entirely distracting way. It let his heart rate come down and the flush drain from his face and upper body, easing tense muscles until he felt almost boneless with relief under the water. He'd definitely have to find another sport to invest his time in, he realized, once boxing wasn't an option. Tisch doubtless had athletic programs, but finding one that suited him and didn't require two hundred percent effort was critical. He didn't want his entire life to revolve around sports, but he needed to be active – it cleared his head and brought him back to earth. Even the task of talking to his parents didn't seem quite so daunting as he languished under the hot water. As long as his mother was willing to speak with him and his father tentatively so, they could do this.

They didn't hate him, he knew.

They just didn't understand him.

"You're going to prune," Kurt warned dryly, breaking into his reverie as he idly pretended to scroll through his texts, seated cross-legged on one of the benches. Blaine hummed, turning off the shower head and toweling himself dry, wrapping it around his waist when he was finished. "Besides, I thought you were going to help me pick out an outfit for graduation."

Blaine paused, cocking his head at Kurt as he shimmied into a pair of jeans. "Kurt, the gown covers everything," he pointed out, aiming for gentle but unable to help a grin from crossing his face. He could picture it perfectly, too: a swarm of red-and-white gowned McKinley seniors evenly arranged in rows with a single dazzling figure in their midst.

"I know," Kurt assured, undeterred, as he elaborated, "I have to have something to wear afterward; those gowns are stifling."

Shaking his head in amusement, Blaine finished pulling on his pants, shrugging on the clean undershirt and cardigan Kurt had left him. He padded over to the bench and plopped down beside Kurt, playfully nudging his shoulder before leaning down to tug on and tie his shoes. "If it'll make you happy, we can look for an outfit," he assured, leaning over to peck his cheek.

Kurt smiled, tucking his cheek against Blaine's shoulder. "Thank you."

Blaine kissed him once on the nose. "You're welcome."

And even if it meant arguing about the suitability of no less than fifteen of Kurt's finest outfits, then at least Kurt let him watch Downton Abbey as he played with his hair later.

Brian Anderson hadn't changed much. He was still quiet and reserved when Blaine approached his table, offering only a single startled, "Blaine," before regaining his composure. Laying his newspaper aside and folding his hands, he watched Blaine intently as he settled into the chair across from him, a medium drip in his hands. Blaine had chosen the Cornerstone as a courtesy: the coffee shop served as a fairly neutral location that didn't have the same unfortunate undertones that his house did. Taking a long, fortifying gulp from his coffee, he set it aside, leaning back in his chair a little as he looked at his father.

"I know you wanted to talk about Tisch," Brian began promptly, referring to the email Blaine had sent him in regards to the location and time of their meeting. "Between your living situation and your tuition costs, we've worked out the financial costs for the next four years." Reaching around and pulling a manila folder out of his briefcase, Brian calmly explained the numbers, charting out his path for the next four years mathematically. Blaine watched without interrupting, leaning forward intently and nodding along whenever Brian glanced up for affirmation.

At first, he didn't look up at all, engrossed in the calculations. With an almost visible start, he looked up at Blaine, an almost guilty expression on his face as his mouth turned down briefly before he focused back on the technicalities. As Blaine offered nothing but nods and unwavering attention, Brian seemed to relax, his posture remaining rigid but his hand movements freer, his speech less formal.

"I understand you have some living arrangements already picked out?" Brian asked, pausing to take a sip from his own coffee as Blaine nodded and pulled out the folder he'd compiled, pictures and statistics alike. He wordlessly passed the folder over to Brian's scrutiny, watching as he nodded slightly, brow furrowing in contemplation as he looked it over. Once, Blaine realized, he would have been offended by Brian's utter lack of responsiveness, mulling over his thoughts silently with rarely a word offered in either criticism or praise. It had always amazed Blaine that his mother, usually gentler and infinitesimally more outspoken, had ever ended up with him, but he could see the quiet, fortified intelligence behind those intense hazel eyes.

When Brian opened the discussion with a simple, "Are you sure you want to live with Kurt?" Blaine knew his opportunity had arisen.

"I already live with him and his family," he said quietly, watching Brian's face.

Brian nodded once, stiffly. "You do," he agreed. "If I recall correctly, you were never banished from our house." He eyed Blaine, curiosity and challenge mingling.

"They've made me feel more at home over the past six months than you ever have," Blaine retorted quietly.

Silence. Brian said nothing as he stared at the papers, feigning interest in the descriptions themselves. Blaine knew that he had already read them; he could tell by the tension in his jaw. At last, Brian looked up, his gaze unreadable as he said, "We want the best for you. You chose to stay with them, and they extended their hospitality to you. We felt it was not our place to intervene."

"I know this is hard for you to understand, but Burt Hummel isn't my father – you are," Blaine retorted. "Carole isn't my mother, either. I love them and I'm so grateful that I have them to support me, but they're not my parents. You are. And I don't want to stop being your son."

It hurt, admitting that, knowing that Brian could easily turn it against him with a cool response that Blaine was still their son. Brian knew – he had to – that that wasn't what Blaine meant. They didn't share the same love and affection that Burt and Kurt shared, unconditional and irrevocable, and Blaine ached for that, needed it in some small, guilty center of his being.

And he didn't just want it from Burt. He wanted it from Brian.

"I don't know how you want me to treat you, Blaine," Brian responded at last, and it was the most honest thing he had said to him in a very long time.

"I want you to treat me like a human being," Blaine said, leaning forward, deliberately shrinking the distance between them. Brian didn't shy away or stiffen; buoyed by the lack of opposition, Blaine went on. "I want you to look at me with the same respect that you give your clients. I want you to listen to me. I want you to hear me out and weigh my opinion carefully. I want you to support me."

He could almost see the wheels turning in Brian's mind, drawing connections between Blaine's statements and his own actions. Relief and confusion mingled in his expression as he realized that he had already fulfilled that portion of Blaine's demands; Blaine didn't let the encouragement linger long before he continued.

"I want you to be there for me when I'm hurt or upset or disappointed," he went on, almost seeing the shadows creeping in once more, doubt and trepidation. He didn't let them deter him, needing to speak out at last. "I want you to accept that I'm not the perfect son. I want you to be there for me when I fail and succeed."

Then, looking up at Brian, he said quietly, "I want you to love me. I want you to love me even though I'm gay. I want you to love me even though I'm into musical theater and performance. I want you to love me even though we're different and we don't always know what to say to each other. I want you to love me even though I'm going to hurt and upset and disappoint you. I want you to love me no matter what, because I need you."

There were no tears, no dramatic outbursts or sudden cries of dismay. There was no spilled coffee or scattered coffee, no shouts of outrage or joy. There wasn't even a choked apology, a raspy plea for forgiveness.

One moment Brian could have been carved from stone, unmoving and implacable.

In the next, he closed the gap between them and gave Blaine's hand a single gentle squeeze. It was different from when Kurt did it – Kurt intertwined their fingers, bringing to life the puzzle piece metaphor again and again – but Brian closed his fingers over Blaine's, covering them. Protective. Gentle. Understanding.

"I do love you," he said quietly, his voice meant for Blaine's ears alone. "I know that I haven't acted accordingly in the past, but I love you." He let the words hang between them, giving Blaine's hand another squeeze as he added, "You are my son. I'm not going to lose you again." Looking right at Blaine, he corrected, "You're not going to lose me again."

Blaine nodded once, feeling relief unfurl in his chest. "That's all I ask," he answered quietly.

Brian echoed his nod, saying nothing for a time. At last, he pulled his hand away, gathering up all the papers together and gently slotting them back into his briefcase. He clicked it shut, turning towards Blaine and glancing at his coffee. Without a word, he stood, gathering both of their empty cups and depositing them in the trash.

Returning a moment later with fresh coffees, he eased himself back into his chair, sliding Blaine's across the table and saying simply, "Tell me what I've missed."

Blaine breathed out slowly, taking a long sip of his coffee, and began.

"Two years ago, Kurt and I met at Dalton. . . ."

"Welcome, friends, parents, benefactors, and alumni of William McKinley High School to the 2012 graduation ceremony."

Kurt tapped his foot anxiously against the linoleum floor as he listened to Principal Figgins' speech, glancing around at the hundred of students lining the hallways on either side. The buzz in the room was palpable as the seniors awaited their shining moment to walk across the stage and receive their high school diploma. For some, it was the end of the road; job opportunities in the real world awaited. For others, it was only one more series of trials completed, another, even more incredible experience looming ahead. Community and local colleges would snatch up the majority of those who did pursue a secondary education; only a few brave souls would venture beyond Ohio's borders in search of greater pursuits.

Kurt's heart raced as he listened to Figgins' droning talk cease, a polite smattering of applause echoing within the auditorium itself. Hundreds of parents had crammed into the room, lining the walls where seating was not available. The new graduates would be seated in the front rows once they had accepted their diplomas; specially honored students were given seats on the stage itself. Fortunately for the students and adults in attendance, Sue Sylvester had taken charge of the actual commencement, disclaiming Figgins' dull speech as soon as the applause died down.

With barely a pause to give Kurt time to process the fact that their graduation was actually happening, Sue Sylvester launched into a spirited mispronunciation of the first dozen students' names.

Mr. Schuester bustled on stage after the first three names or so, interceding with a hurried correction for the next five seniors before sighing and disappearing into the background. Kurt was so caught up in listening to his former cheerleading coach announce the graduates that he didn't notice someone sneak up behind him until Blaine threaded his arms around his waist.

"Hey, you," he murmured, a broad smile on his face as he squeezed Kurt's waist once lightly. "You gonna be okay?" He reached up and gave Kurt's hand a squeeze, adding, "You look like you're going to pass out."

"I'm not going to pass out," Kurt protested faintly, his head buzzing. Blaine frowned, pulling him aside momentarily and cupping his cheeks. "I'm not," Kurt insisted in a murmur.

Blaine pressed a handkerchief in his hand and Kurt sniffed, staring at it in disbelief. "What – " Lifting it to Kurt's cheek and dabbing it once, Blaine let go of Kurt's hand, pressing the handkerchief against Kurt's palm. "I don't need it," Kurt protested, sniffing again.

"Keep it," Blaine replied, leaning forward to kiss his cheek. He guided him back in line a moment later, apologizing for him to the seniors he had to dislodge to do so. They grumbled a little before quieting, moving forward with the rest of the line. Blaine disappeared, and Kurt heard his name what felt like seconds later, a smattering of applause greeting his arrival before the next graduate moved in.

It seemed to take hours before they reached the Hs, Kurt trembling finely by the time he stood in the wings, ready to take the final walk across the stage. At long last, Sue Sylvester barked, "Kurt Porcelain Hummel," and Kurt strode out from the shadows.

His steps were slow and measured, his smile broad and beaming as he accepted his diploma, looking out at the crowd and immediately spotting his dad, out of his seat and pointing energetically at Kurt, shouting, "Attaboy, Kurt!" to anyone who would listen. Choking on laughter and hurrying to take his seat before Sue made any other comments about him, he gratefully blew into the handkerchief as he fell into his seat, barely aware of the rest of the seniors around him. Even the final ceremonies passed in a blur, standing as one and waiting for Figgins' cue to move their tassels.

Time seemed to stand still for a moment, Kurt hyper-aware of the hush around him. He could almost pick out the New Directions seated throughout the crowd, most in gown and cap, a handful in normal attire. He spotted the back of Blaine's head two rows to his left, back straight and entire posture beaming with pride.

And when the time came to turn the tassel, Kurt felt a rush of relief wash over him as Figgins announced them graduates and the auditorium erupted into cheers.

We made it, he realized, letting Blaine scoop him up into a hug and holding him back just as tightly. We made it.

Blaine's parents were there, Kurt discovered later when Blaine told him about his brief encounter with them amidst the festivities. His expression was jubilant, his eyes shining as he explained that in spite of everything, he'd actually convinced his parents to attend his high school graduation. Kurt had just smiled at him and pulled him down for a kiss, lazily enjoying the few moments that they had to themselves. It wasn't long before they had to hurry home to change out of their formal wear into the outfits Kurt had picked out days before in order to celebrate Sugar's graduation party at the 'Sugar Shack.'

Once they arrived, they were absorbed into the atmosphere, smiling and laughing along. There were hugs and karaoke and questionably legal beverages all around. Kurt thoroughly partook in the latter, drowning out his emotions in punch that was most likely one-third juice, two-thirds alcohol. It was okay, though, because Blaine smiled at all his jokes and let him lean against him and only started taking away his drinks after the fourth or fifth Dixie cup (Kurt still managed to sneak two more past his notice – not that Blaine needed to know that).

They sang and danced and even played truth or dare for a time, dissolving into strip poker once Santana and Puck entered the game. Blaine had steered Kurt away from it (at the time, Kurt had loudly protested that he would kick everyone's ass), to Kurt's eternal gratitude. He didn't want to think about what sort of pictures could have surfaced from that debacle. Thankfully, the evening had started to wind down, enough that Kurt and Blaine could excuse themselves with Blaine mostly steering Kurt around the bar to say his goodbyes. He'd hiccuped his way through half of them, slurring out promises that even Blaine had trouble keeping track of.

It helped that Blaine was there to drive him home – Finn was preoccupied with Rachel – and bundle him up into bed without attracting undue attention from either of the parents. Of course, when Kurt leaped out of bed and made a surprisingly agile dash for his private bath at three in the morning, Blaine was quick to follow, rubbing his back soothingly as he hacked up at least a third of his intestines, sleepily insisting that he wasn't drunk between heaves. Blaine somehow managed to get him back in bed, tucking him in with a waste basket by his side, kissing his forehead once and curling up next to him.

When Kurt asked why he had let him drink at all the next morning, Blaine had apologetically explained that he hadn't realized that Puck had spiked the punch until it was too late (the first batch had been clean, he elaborated, in order to entice the crowd into a false sense of security). Kurt had assured him that Puck and he would have words (they never did, but Blaine had nodded seriously, all the same).

The weekend passed in a blur. Kurt spent most of his time trying to keep track of all the incoming text messages, mostly from Rachel, a mixture of promises and demands to meet up over the summer. He made arrangements to be at other graduation parties and even finished organizing his wardrobe. All in all, he was feeling pretty good about himself, accomplished and flushed with victory.

As he sat in the Lima Bean late that Sunday night with a coffee in his hands and the prospect an entire summer ahead of him, he couldn't help the broad smile that curled his lips as he intertwined his fingers with Blaine's on top of the table, giving his hand a light squeeze.

"I can't believe we actually made it," he said softly, running his thumb over the back of Blaine's hand, coffee abandoned.

Blaine cocked his head at him, curious.

"I mean, I knew we'd graduate," Kurt amended. "It just . . . seems so surreal. With all that's happened. That we're here." He gave Blaine's hand an emphatic squeeze.

Blaine smiled. "I know," he answered, amused. "Was it as magical as you thought it would be?"

Kurt paused, staring down at their intertwined hands for a long time, saying nothing.

At last, a soft smile on his face, he said simply, "I think it was."

Blaine smiled back.

Three months later.

"Kurt, if you don't hurry up, Finn's not going to help you carry your luggage!" Rachel singsonged, all but dancing with glee as she flitted about their new loft. Blaine grunted as he dropped one of the suitcases on the floor, breathing out heavily in relief. He'd already single-handedly carried half their total baggage in before Finn had arrived (Rachel was too busy crying and Kurt admiring the view to do much).

"Finn's carrying the mini-fridge," Blaine piped in, puffing as he went out to retrieve more bags.

"Blaine, darling, don't forget the one in the front!" Rachel called after him, picking up two of the bags by the door and carting them over to 'her' side of the room.

Kurt could already see how they would partition it out, with a kitchen and a living room and a general area for sleeping. The loft itself was immense, huge for a New York apartment, but they'd bargained it out among the three of them and decided that, so long as they were willing to take the risk of being mugged if they went out late at night or broken in to during the day, they would enjoy it. Rachel certainly seemed thrilled at the prospect of not one but two room mates – people she knew, nonetheless. Kurt worried about what it would be like after a week or so of nonstop Berry: never mind a month or semester. Still, he was hopeful, and Blaine's enthusiasm had helped bolster his own when he felt low.

As long as they were all willing to try coexisting, then they could make it work. Somehow. Some way.

As Finn heaved the mini-fridge into the loft, Kurt stepped outside to where Carole and his dad were idling with the Berrys, chatting amicably about the weather. They looked like proud parents: beaming and bright-eyed and fooling no one with their lack of tears. It was a hard moment, and Kurt could feel, amidst his excitement, creeping trepidation at the thought of leaving them. At least they were going out to dinner tonight as one big family: he wouldn't have to actually worry about being abandoned until then.

Hurrying back inside when he heard a crashing noise, he sighed when he noticed that Finn had accidentally dropped the mini-fridge on its side, instructing him on the proper way to instill it while Leroy Berry supervised, Hiram offering pointers from outside the room. At last, they had all the luggage in and could properly admire the place, cluttered and unorganized though it was.

Dinner was a similarly cluttered and unorganized affair, the Berrys largely providing guidance around the big city. Kurt stayed close to Blaine's side, one arm tucked around his as they walked briskly along, enjoying the warm late summer air. When they arrived at a suitable restaurant, the battle appeared only half won, the Berrys once more interceding on everyone's behalf by ordering their table and offering everyone refreshments. The meals came in fair time and Kurt ended up picking more off Blaine's plate than his own, ignoring the way that Blaine playfully batted his fork away (Blaine stole from his plate, anyway).

Dessert was a tumultuous affair, with the Berrys arguing energetically over the best option while the Hudson-Hummels picked out their fares without much adieu about anything. At last, everyone had placed an order, Kurt and Blaine sharing a slice of mousse cake while Leroy and Hiram criticized the merits of each other's selections.

It was all so domestic and normal and easygoing that Kurt let himself drift, resting his cheek against Blaine's shoulder while the adults – plus Finn and Rachel – chatted. He blinked awake when Blaine nudged him, smiling apologetically at him as they shuffled out of their seats and made their way back into the cold.

It was a more solemn affair once they arrived at the apartment, the adults bidding them goodbye with hugs all around and promises to see them off in the morning before they left. Finn stayed the night by request, and Kurt and Blaine simply made room by sharing a bed.

As Kurt curled up on the bed, his cheek resting against Blaine's chest as he snored softly, he couldn't help but think that somehow, they had succeeded. They were trials yet to be had – college, for one, and work after that – and separation to cope with. But knowing that he had Blaine at his side was comforting, warm and lulling and familiar. He loved that they had been able to spend so much of the summer together, focusing their attentions on preparing for college and enjoying their final 'carefree' days. Blaine had even rekindled his relationship with his parents somewhat, staying at their house three days at a time before spending time at the Hudson-Hummels. He looked . . . happier, somehow, each time he did show up at Kurt's door, smiling at him. Less troubled.

When he'd carried his laptop around the loft, Skype on and commentary rolling off his tongue, Kurt couldn't help but think that maybe Blaine would manage it. They weren't perfect – the Andersons hadn't shown up for the send off, even though Blaine had spent almost a week at their place prior to the departure – but they were growing. Learning to accept each other in new ways.

Listening to him breathe, slow and even, Kurt closed his own eyes, curling his fingers in the fabric of Blaine's shirt.

They weren't perfect, either.

But they would make it.

Author's Notes: Hello, everyone.

I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to every person that has every read this story. Regardless of whether you made it to this point or were here with me from the beginning, I treasure every since person that has shared this journey with me in some way. It has been extraordinary, and I'm still in shock that it's over.

I have loved writing this story. I cannot emphasize that enough. I love this story.

The fact that there is anyone, anywhere that loves it to means the world to me.

This story is flawed. It isn't perfect. It needs a lot of editing. It probably needs some more trimming, too.

But I love it and it's mine, and I'm so, so happy that I get to share it with you.

This is the end, my friends. This is it.

I never thought this story would reach this magnitude, but I am so happy it did.

Thank you for your support, your love, your generosity.

Thank you.

I love you.

Sincerely yours,


PS - review?