Summary: It's Blaine's senior year at McKinley-sans Kurt. He's got a lot of shoes to fill, with half of New Directions graduated, and his own penchant for trying to please everybody at once, trying to make it through his senior year without having his best friend and love of his life at his side may prove more difficult than Blaine ever expected.
Author's Notes:
The following is my headcanon for Blaine's senior year next year. None of this will, of course, occur but I figured it best to get it out into the ether prior to the beginning of the next season. The entire fic will be told from Blaine's POV-meaning that often other characters will do and say things that will be interpreted by Blaine. You will not always understand why things are said and done until the characters decide to explain themselves to Blaine.

There are OC's in this because ND needs members. Also, some characters we have previously been introduced to will appear as well.

Currently, this fic is slated for about 10 chapters (each chapter covers a specific month and the highlights of that month). As this fic is Blaine-centric, please be aware that there will be potential for Blaine/? pairings. Not to worry-everything is truly Klaine and will have a happy ending because I can't give them anything less. (Or can I?)

Special thanks to my betas.

September 2012
McKinley High
Lima, Ohio

"I'm just saying that the role of Nathan seems to comfortably fit my range more than Rory's. He'd make a far better Sky."

"As the director of this production, I'm going to have to politely disagree with that statement." Artie rolls up next to Blaine, the right wheel of his chair bumping against the lockers with a slight clang. He pushes his glasses up to the bridge of his nose with an index finger. "Forgive me for saying so, but I think you're confusing the movie production with the stage production. Your voice was made for My Time of Day. Rory isn't up to the task of playing Sky Masterson at this point in time. You," Artie pauses and squints up at Blaine as if choosing his words carefully, "exude a metrosexual charm the same way that Sky should. Rory, on the other hand, is… cute. Adorable in that 'I just want to pinch his cheeks' kind of way, which could be perfect for Nathan—if for no other reason than to explain why Adelaide didn't just dump his ass years ago."

Blaine laughs at that as he deposits two text books from his messenger bag into his locker.

"If Kurt was here, he'd say the same, you know."

Blaine's laughter abruptly ends as his gaze flickers to the photos decorating the inside of the door. His eyes linger over the one of Kurt in his cap and gown, arms wrapped tightly around Blaine's shoulder, lips pressed to his cheek in a happy kiss while Blaine laughs. Wincing slightly, he slams the door shut, shifting the strap of his bag over his shoulder, and spins on his heel.

"Yes, well, he isn'there, is he?"

Artie rolls up beside Blaine as they make their way down the mostly empty hallway. "Oh, Isee."

At the tone of Artie's voice, Blaine glances down at him with a frown. "What?"

"I thought your attitude all day seemed a little weird." Artie has to stop a moment as two cheerleaders pass by without giving him much room. "Tina and I talked about it in English. You were snappy during lunch, and that's totally notyou—"

"I can be snappy," Blaine protests.

"And then there's this whole musical thing with you insisting on only being Nathan. Also, totally notyou. Other than just the role, I mean." Artie rolls in front of Blaine and stops, blocking his path. "Did something happen with Kurt?"

Did something happen with Kurt? Blaine feels like he's been waiting to hear that question for… well, from the moment Kurt had said his dream was to go to New York for college, to get out of Ohio, and that moment is well past a year now, and the question is just as scary to hear as it has been to contemplate.

Blaine takes a deep breath. "I don't know," he rushes out, side-stepping Artie's chair and continuing down the hall. When Artie is once more beside him, Blaine tells him, "I haven't heard from him in two days. Two. No texts. No emails. I logged on to Skype Monday night for our nightly chat and he never appeared."

"Maybe something happened—"Artie's voice sounds concerned.

Blaine's mouth tightens for a moment. "Burt talked to him yesterday morning. He's fine."


They continue on in silence until they reached the end of the hall, and Blaine pushes the door open, stepping inside and holding it to allow Artie to follow him into the locker room. Practice doesn't begin for another thirty minutes, and there are only a few boys milling about; Manuel is texting, and Dean and Matt are thumb wrestling. They glance up at Blaine and Artie, giving them silent nods of greeting before returning to their activities. Blaine opens his locker, removing his practice jersey and pants, and shoving his bag into their place as Artie rolls up beside him, waiting quietly for him to continue.

Blaine drops onto the bench to pull off his boat shoes as he glances at his friend. "We didn't have a fight or anything. He didn't give any indication that he wouldn't be around and I just—" He sighs, curling his bare toes against the cold tile beneath them. "I have an active imagination."

Artie snorts beside him as he reaches out to pat Blaine's shoulder. "This I know. But seriously, what can you worry about when it comes to Kurt? The two of you are so married I keep wondering when you're going to hyphenate your name. One day we'll be sitting in class and Mrs. Brisby will call out 'Blaine Hummel-Anderson', and I'll be all, knew it!"

"Anderson-Hummel," Blaine corrects quietly, and at Artie's expression, he adds, "Kurt's choice, actually."

Artie shakes his head, wheeling around the bench toward his locker to get ready for practice. "See? Nothing to worry about."

Blaine sighs and glances up as more of the team enters the locker room to get ready for practice.

This—football—wasn't supposed to happen. As much as Blaine loves the sport, loves football season, dragged Kurt to every Titans game the year before, he never once considered joining the team when he transferred. Dreams of football glory were extinguished for Blaine right around the end of Pee Wee league—when all of the other boys kept growing and he just… stayed there for a while. Perpetually waiting for the day when he'd be able to board the big kid rides at amusement parks, and by the time that happened, football had become a hobby, and was going to remain a hobby, while dreams of playing for the Patriots remained lodged firmly within Blaine's own list of "if only"s.

The thing was, three of the Titan's top players graduated last June, not to mention about ten other team members, and in the midst of Coach Beiste's panic over losing star players, Mike had apparently suggested she recruit Blaine. At first, Blaine had thought it was a joke—weekends of playing flag football with the guys from New Directions in the park in no way merited a spot on a high school football team. When the coach had asked him to try out last spring, Blaine had very politely refused. He's fairly certain that shortly thereafter either Coach Beiste or Mike had gone to Kurt for assistance in convincing him to change his mind. Kurt, knowing Blaine as well as he did, made a stunning move; not by attempting to convince Blaine that he should just give it a shot. Oh no, Kurt is far more clever when it comes to making people do what he wants. He bid his time until he was over at the Anderson's for dinner one night, sitting around the table, passing the bowl of salad and "Oh, did Blaine tell you, Mr. Anderson? Coach Beiste wants him to try out for the football team."

And that had pretty much been that. Blaine's father had been so excited at the prospect of Blaine having the chance to play football again that his excitement had kind of carried over to his son. It's one thing when your father attempts to bond with you over something you really have little interest in; it's quite another when you're offered something you very much love, and know it's one of the few things both you and your father share.

So a few weeks before Kurt's graduation day, Blaine made his way out onto the field where the coach had gathered a bunch of the team, and he did his very best not to let the many people who seemed to have a lot more faith in Blaine than he himself did, down. After quickly spinning and dancing his way to the end zone numerous times with the snapped ball, Coach Beiste declared him the Titan's new running back. Blaine thinks the Titan's new quarterback, Aaron Ford said it best when he told Blaine after his try out, "You may be tiny, dude, but you're quicker than shit."

Coach Beiste has referred to him as "a greased pig in a cannon factory" more than once. (Blaine still has no idea what it means, exactly.) He likes it. It's not only to do with the fact that he's made a few more friends at McKinley now, or that he and his father have something more to talk about over dinner every night, but the chance to get some aggression out on occasion as well has proven to be far more necessary than Blaine ever expected.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Blaine had been fine with Kurt going off to New York for college, fine with the knowledge that he wouldn't be joining him for another year. Fine because it isn't as if New York is on the other side of the country—they'd see one another plenty throughout the school year. And then, once graduation hits, they'll begin their new life together, in New York City, at NYADA, and they'll never have to worry about separation again.

Except, it's harder than Blaine expected. Kurt's been such an integral part of his life over the last two years, and even though they've talked daily since Kurt left Lima three weeks earlier, it just isn't the same. Blaine still finds himself turning to Kurt's empty chair in the choir room, or waits for some comment about the cheeseburger and plate full of fries he has at lunch and it never comes. He has friends—Artie and Tina and Brittany have been godsends so far—so it isn't like he's lonely, per se. Between glee and football and the musical soon, he's busy. He's occupied. It's just… he misses Kurt. Misses Kurt more than he thought possible.

And the fact that Kurt has gone for two days without a word—the longest they've gone without even a text since the very day they met—has Blaine terrified.

"Anderson! You planning on joining us this afternoon?"

Blaine looks up at Coach Beiste's voice, having not realized he'd been standing there staring at the front of his locker for who knows how long. Beside her, hovering in the doorway, Artie is watching him with sympathetic eyes.

"Yeah. Sorry, coach," Blaine says quietly, bending over to tie the laces on his cleats before grabbing his helmet and hurrying out the door.

Waving off offers to join some of his teammates for coffee at the Lima Bean by claiming he has a lot of homework to get done, Blaine gets home after practice, surprised to find his mother in the kitchen, glancing through the refrigerator.

"I thought you were gone until tomorrow," he says, setting his bag down on the table before grabbing a glass from the cupboard for his usual glass of milk. The cookie jar is depressingly empty, so he just nurses the milk quietly as he watches his mother sigh and close the refrigerator door.

"I was but the conference was cancelled when a fire broke out in the main meeting hall—"

"Are you all right?"

Chesa waves a hand as she opens the pantry and peers into it. "I was in the kitchen at the time, discussing the six hundred lunches that had been prepared with the catering staff. They ended up moving the meeting over to the Hilton. I guarantee at least one person will be losing their job over this—that conference was worth a lot of money."

"They can't like, move back to the Marriott tomorrow or something? Or was the damage really bad?"

"The only thing damaged was a set of curtains." His mother pulls out a boxed dinner of chicken and rice, frowns at it, and sets it back in the pantry. "Unfortunately, there's water damage and it smells awful. I tried talking the client into postponing the conference to next week but they wouldn't budge. The Hilton was only too willing to oblige. The client promised they'd come back to us next year—nothing looks good for dinner. Would you be terribly upset if I ordered pizza?"

"Oh, terribly. Mom, you know how I feel about pizza. I can't believe you're doing this to me. Worst parenting ever, really. You should be ashamed," Blaine deadpans as he moves over to the sink to wash his empty glass out.

Chesa sighs dramatically as she pulls her cell phone from her purse. "I thought as much. Don't tell your father. He'll divorce me."

Blaine laughs, stepping over to place a kiss to her cheek. "Extra pepperoni and extra cheese, white sauce, pan crust—"

"Green peppers?"

"Don't press your luck, lady," he says in a tone reminiscent of James Cagney, grinning as his mom rolls her eyes at him.

"Half the pizza, then," she calls after him as Blaine grabs his bag and heads out of the kitchen toward the stairs.

"As long as they don't touch my side—tell them not to let those things touch my side of the pizza," Blaine yells back halfway up the steps, past the dozens of family photos lining the staircase wall, his older brother in every color of football jersey, smiling wide and bright beside trophies. The latest photo is hung dead center on the wall; Blake smiling and proud in his OSU jersey.

There are a few of Blaine from Pee Wee league near the bottom of the steps—pictures that caused Kurt to stop and point and babble in wonder over the curls Blaine now hides beneath layers of product. There's one halfway up of Blaine poised in fencing garb that his mother took two years ago at a tournament; three more near the top of Blaine standing beside or sitting on Black Jack, his polo pony at Dalton. He's never told anyone, but sometimes Blaine drives out to Dalton just to sneak an apple to Black Jack, and talk to him for a bit.

Setting his messenger bag down in his chair, Blaine glances through the playlists on his iPod, looking for something to both get him through his homework and keep his mind off of Kurt for the next couple of hours before finally deciding on a mix of his favorite female artists. He sits on his bed and opens his laptop, immediately logging in to Skype, on the off-chance that Kurt might be there even though it's only five-thirty and their Skype dates don't start until seven, but he only notices his brother online. Blaine considers talking to him for about 2.5 seconds before changing his mind and digging his chemistry book out of his bag to start on homework. The last time he'd gotten on Skype with his brother, Blake had spent the entire chat literally crying in a beer over Sara breaking up with him. Blaine loves his older brother to death but the relationship ended over three months ago, and besides, Sara turned out to not be as nice as she seemed. Blake could do better.

Forty-five minutes later, his paltry bit of homework is done (all right, so he had completely lied to his teammates to get out of coffee); Blaine has a half-eaten slice of pizza in his hand as he jumps on his bed, belting out Kate Nash. "I just want your kiss boy, kiss boy, kiss boy—I just want your kiss!" He hops to the edge of the mattress along to the music as he takes another bite of his pizza, quickly swallowing as he bounces back to the center and continues along with her, "I just want your kiss boy, kiss boy, kiss boy—I just want your kiss!

"The lights are on and someone's home, but I'm not sure if they're alone. There's someone else inside my head—"


Kate Nash continues on without him as Blaine stares back guiltily at his mother, who's leaning against the doorway, pizza box in one hand, the other reached out, leveling a finger down to the floor. Blinking, Blaine flashes an apologetic smile as he jumps off the bed and quickly sits down, like maybe he could convince her he's been there all along.

"Sorry, Mom."

Shaking her head, Chesa walks over, holding the box out to him. "I thought maybe you'd want the last few slices since I didn't order the peppers." She smiles as he nods, taking it from her hands to set it on his lap and flip the lid open. Three slices left! Score!

"Is your homework done?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"So you thought you'd reward yourself by jumping on furniture?" She asks, amusement coloring her tone as she moves to grab his shoes from the floor and carry them to his closet. "I swear, Blaine Anderson, sometimes I think a rock climber impregnated me instead of your father."

"Oh, god, Mom!" Blaine drops his slice of pizza to cover his ears in horror. "Can you refrain from putting such images in my head? Forever?"

"Don't worry. It's not like it was all that exciting or naughty or anything. It was just your father—"

"Mom!" Blaine squeaks and falls back on his bed, covering his face with the pizza box, which he bangs against his forehead repeatedly in the hopes of expelling all thoughts of his parents engaged in sex.

"What? Twice I've walked in to find your boyfriend with his tongue down your throat," his mother comments, patting his knee as she returns next to him, lifting the box from his hands to place it on his desk. "I think you're due for a little payback."

Blaine leans up on his elbows, scrunching his face as he looks at her. "Right, because that time over the summer when you asked Kurt if we were being careful and using condoms wasn't enough."

Chesa grins as she leans over to press a kiss to his forehead. "A mother can't want her boy to be safe?"

"Not at the expense of his dignity, no," Blaine says emphatically.

"Speaking of," she glances toward his laptop, "it's almost time for your nightly chat, isn't it?"

Sighing, Blaine nods and follows her gaze, heart sinking a little as he imagines another night without seeing Kurt's face. "Yeah. I guess."

"You guess? Did Kurt have to cancel?"

Blaine shrugs as he sits up fully. "I don't know. He hasn't been on the last two nights. I… I haven't heard from him at all."

Chesa is silent for a long moment before her hand rests against his shoulder and she gives it a light squeeze. "I'm sure he's just been busy with school. And Rachel. You did say they're living together, right? That girl's a handful. I'm sure living with her is a daily three-ring circus. I wouldn't worry too much." She tucks a stray curl behind his ear. "There's ice cream downstairs later if you want some. It's strawberry. I successfully hid it from your father in the back of the freezer."

"Thanks, Mom." Blaine watches silently as she leaves the room before he wriggles back on his bed to lean against the headboard, picking up another slice of pizza as he stares at the screen of his laptop besides him. He hums along with Avril Lavigne and waits for seven o'clock.

Blaine is staring at the time on his laptop as it hits seven o'clock. His eyes flicker to his address book on Skype, but Kurt isn't online yet. He takes a breath, trying not to let his heart fall from his chest, and reaches out for another piece of pizza only to realize the box is empty. Sighing, he tosses it to the floor and glances at the clock again. Seven oh one. And back to the list. Still no Kurt.

Picking up his pencil, Blaine begins tapping in rhythm to Maria Mena against his leg, trying not to watch the clock, and failing miserably. Without even realizing he's doing it, Blaine starts singing along, "Oh I'm in love, again, again. And you may call me tomorrow my friend, yes. You may kiss me again and again. I'll hold on tight. I climbed up on his shoulders and laughed until I cried. The view and I collide, to see this through his eyes." He frowns as the lyrics hit him, and slumps against his pillows eyes downcast as he tries very, very hard not to let all of the fears and hurt over Kurt's silence engulf him.

It isn't supposed to be like this. It's only been a few weeks. They can't last that long without seeing one another before it all just ends? No! Blaine isn't going to stand for that. Sitting up, he reaches for his phone on his nightstand, determined to get Kurt to talk to him and, if he doesn't answer then he'll just leave one ridiculously long and pleading message after another.

Just as he's about to hit dial, Blaine spies Kurt's name light up on the screen, and he tries really, really hard not to cry as he connects to see his boyfriend's beautiful face appear before him.

"Kurt!" Blaine's sure his voice cracks just a little, and he doesn't care. "I didn't—I'm so glad you're here! I've missed you so much, and I was so worried but your dad said he talked to you and—"

"Sorry," Kurt interrupts quickly. He looks tired, smiling just a little at Blaine, shoulders lower than usual. "I've just—school's been really busy and I've got an internship down at Hirschfeld, and I know I should have emailed or texted or something but every time I thought I'd have a moment to do that—"

"No! It's okay," Blaine says, cutting him off because he feels ridiculously guilty for thinking it was anything other than really important reasons that Kurt hasn't been around. "Please, don't apologize. I know you're busy, and everything is new and… I'm just glad you're here now."

Blaine can't stop staring. Not seeing Kurt regularly means when he does get the chance, Blaine just drinks in the sight of him–the flawless complexion, impossible to describe eyes, lips that Blaine misses kissing beyond imagination. Lips that he misses the feel of moving over his skin and—

Okay. He needs to stop there before he has to excuse himself for a few minutes. The last time he and Kurt had attempted a Skype sex session, Rachel had interrupted, just breezing into Kurt's room. Luckily it had happened before they'd really started anything. While Kurt is apparently now locking his door, he still hasn't been convinced to take any more chances just yet. Blaine glances at the countdown he has on his desktop. Just less than three weeks to go until Kurt has a four day weekend—one he plans on spending in Lima. Blaine can certainly make it until then.

"Oh! Mr. Schue wanted me to say hi for him," Blaine tells Kurt with a smile. "He said the choir room just isn't the same without you in it, and while I tend to agree with that, I'm admittedly a little biased, so it was really nice to hear him mentioning the same sentiment. You should have been there Monday—Brittany brought Lord Tubbington to class."

Kurt blinks at that, eyes widening a little. "What? Why?"

Blaine laughs, flailing his hands a little in front of him as he explains, "She says he wanted to learn French. I don't—" Blaine broke off, giggling. "Seriously, Kurt, I'm beginning to think that all the things she says about him are actually true. At this point in time, if I were to see that cat smoking and hanging out with a bad crowd reading Brittany's diary aloud in French, I wouldn't even be surprised." He shakes his head with another laugh. "So many people think Brittany's dumb, but I'm starting to think she's actually from another dimension and is just able to see things the rest of us can't."

"Please tell me you don't honestly believe that?"

Smile faltering, Blaine stares at the screen a moment. Kurt's tone and the set of his expression clearly say he's annoyed about something. Blaine runs through the past few moments in his mind, wondering if he'd said something wrong, but there's nothing that he can recall to make Kurt behave this way. He struggles for a moment with how to respond, before finally saying quietly, "No. But it's a nice thought, isn't it?"

Kurt shrugs and pulls a book in front of him, flipping it open.

Shifting uncomfortably on his bed, Blaine finds he can't get past the sense that Kurt honestly doesn't want to be there. That… this entire conversation is a chore or something. It's ridiculous, of course; their Skype session Sunday night had been just about perfect. They'd gazed into their cameras for a good two hours, talking about how much they'd missed one another, and adding together the hours until they would see one another again.

"So." Blaine lets the word hang there a moment before asking, "What's been going on the last couple of days?"

"School," Kurt says shortly. "I'm just really busy, you know?"

Blaine nods, eyes sweeping over Kurt's image as Kurt barely seems to acknowledge that Blaine's even there. "Not too busy to enjoy and get to know your new city, I hope?"

Kurt shrugs, but says nothing.

Blaine takes a breath, searching for something that might involve Kurt in the conversation with him more. He smiles suddenly, perking up as he straightens against the headboard.

"I've been dying to talk to you about the school musical," Blaine begins, relieved that he can finally get Kurt's opinion in it all. No one's matters more than his opinion in Blaine's world, and Artie was right—it's precisely why he's been so on edge over the whole matter. "You know how we're doing Guys and Dolls, right? Well, I think Nathan Detroit would be a better fit for me. I mean, they're both great parts, but Sky just seems like such an independent, suave, kind of dashing man, you know? And Nathan… well, you have to admit, the guy is kind of made of fail and I think we both know I could write the book on that personality trait!" Blaine smiles.

Kurt glances up at the screen momentarily, lips compressed tightly, before dropping his gaze to his book once more.

Blaine worries his lower lip for a few seconds, before continuing, "Anyway, Artie disagrees. He wants me to play Sky, and Rory to play Nathan. I'm not going to argue with what I get, honestly—just the fact that he wants me for another lead is enough for me. I don't know. I'd just be more comfortable with Nathan, I guess. Plus, I really think Tina is going to get the role of Sergeant Sarah Brown, and the idea of singing love songs and kissing someone who's like a sister to me?" He visibly shudders and laughs. "I can't imagine we wouldn't end up giggling the entire time. I don't know… what do you think?"

Kurt flips a page, and shrugs.

To say Kurt's lack of any sort of interest in what Blaine is asking him about stings a little bit is an understatement. Even last year, when they had been competing for the same role, Kurt had still been open and willing to talk to him about West Side Story and the role of Tony. He'd encouraged Blaine, and supported him, even when Blaine could see how much it was hurting Kurt that he hadn't even been considered for the role. Now, it is as if Kurt could care less.

"Kurt," Blaine says quietly. "I was hoping that maybe you would give me your opinion? You're… I don't understand why you're acting like you just don't… care."

Kurt looks up at that, but his eyes barely hold Blaine's for a fraction of a second before he drops them back to his book. "I'm sorry, Blaine, but I have more important things to worry about than high school musicals."

That hurts. Blaine sucks in a breath and responds in the only way his injured pride will allow him to do. "My apologies if the things that matter to me are such an annoyance to you."

Kurt rolls his eyes. Actually rolls his eyes at Blaine. "Stop being so childish."

Blaine logs off Skype without another word.

It takes him approximately a minute to realize what he's just done—that he just hung up on his boyfriend without even a warning—and quickly logs back in, heart racing.

Kurt's no longer there.

"Why?" Blaine says it aloud to the screen, voice breaking slightly as his brain catches up to the painful ache in his heart. Kurt knows him well enough to understand that sometimes Blaine just reacts to situations, following what he's feeling, and not necessarily thinking it over beforehand. He should know that Blaine would log back in once coming to his senses; he should have waited for him.

Caught between anger and hurt, Blaine continues to sit there the next few minutes, staring at the panel, waiting for Kurt's name to light up and indicate that he is back online, but the minutes continue to tick by, and Kurt doesn't reappear. Blaine blows out a shaky breath, eyes stinging as tears gather because Kurt's never behaved this way to him before. Even when Kurt's been angry with Blaine, even when he's been frustrated, he's never shown annoyance, never once indicated that there were things in his life far more important to him than the boy he professes to love.

Blaine isn't even certain of what he's supposed to be feeling in that moment.

Come What May begins playing from his phone and Blaine reaches for it, hesitating a moment, staring at the caller ID with Kurt's name flashing. He goes to pick it up, and the song stops. He can't remember if he had it forwarded for any reason. So he waits, because maybe it was, and Kurt is leaving a message. Or if it isn't, maybe something came up and Kurt had to stop the call and would soon be calling back. Maybe he'll text instead; something short and quick like Get on Skype.

Blaine sits and waits, staring at his phone for a full five minutes before it becomes too much, before he realizes that Kurt is not, in fact, going to call back or text or anything. The anger and hurt building inside of him becoming overwhelming and Blaine shouts at his phone, "You really wanted to talk to me, didn't you?" before throwing it across the room. It hits the wall hard, leaving a mark before dropping to the carpet.

By the time his mother walks into the room only a minute or so later, Blaine is kneeling on the floor, checking his phone to see if he broke it, to see if maybe Kurt is trying to call him.

"Blaine? Honey, is something wrong? I thought I heard you shouting."

Dropping to a cross-legged position, Blaine stares blankly at the phone in his hand before looking up at his mother as she walks over beside him. Seeing the expression of concern on her face makes everything hurt suddenly, and the first tears finally fall. "Kurt and I had a fight… I think." Because he doesn't know. They didn't yell, or anything. They just… nothing.

"Oh," she says quietly, reaching her hand out to touch his hair. "What about?"

Blaine shakes his head; he doesn't even know how to answer that. "It was like he didn't even want to talk to me, Mom. He just… he called me childish."

Chesa purses her lips, saying nothing for a moment as her fingers brush against his scalp. "I'm sure he didn't mean it. Kurt loves you very much, honey. I've seen the way he looks at you." She cups his chin and gives him a smile. "Why don't I make you some hot chocolate? We still have some marshmallows left over. Would you like that?"

How can he drink hot chocolate and eat marshmallows when it feels like his entire world is ending? Kurt is annoyed with him, and doesn't care, and Blaine has absolutely no idea what he's done to make Kurt feel this way.

"Maybe I should call him," Blaine says, not answering her question as he drops his gaze to his phone, more tears falling. His breath shudders as he breathes in. "Or text? Maybe I should—I don't know what I did."

His mother sighs and she kneels down next to him, brushing at some lint on her skirt. "Sometimes we let things get to us in life, and we take it out on the people we love the most because they're there, and because we know they'll forgive us." She slides an arm around Blaine and pulls him close, pressing a kiss to his forehead as he allows himself to softly cry against her shoulder. "Give him time to get past whatever is bothering him. It's more than likely Kurt didn't even realize he was hurting you. Wait until morning. Things will be okay, I promise." She gives him another kiss. "Why don't you get washed up and ready for bed, and I'll bring you that hot chocolate, okay?"

Blaine nods quietly as his mother pulls away and stands, leaving him alone. He wipes his tears away, and thinks about texting Kurt anyway, but if his mother is right, he doesn't want to annoy him further. Clutching his phone in his hand, Blaine climbs up on to his bed, pulling his pillow against his chest as he stares at the dark screen, and waits.

Blaine wakes to the sound of a familiar voice calling out to him.

"—promised me coffee this morning, Boo. We're going to be late at this rate."

Tina crawls up on to his bed as Blaine blinks his eyes open, wondering why they hurt so much and feel gummy. Tina's on her hands and knees, leaning over him, brow furrowing as she looks down at him. She reaches out to touch his forehead. "Are you sick? You look like shit." She sits back on her heels, the skirt of her blue polka dot dress fanning out over the duvet. "Your dad said there was drama."

"M'dad's home?" Blaine asks; his throat feels slightly sore. Is he getting sick?

Drama? Oh, wait.

Kurt. The memories of what transpired last night hit Blaine like an unexpected wave, the water choking him as it sweeps into his mouth and throat, causing his eyes to sting and his chest to ache. He thinks this has to be a little of what dying is like as he curls into himself.

"Yeah, looks like he just got in because a suit case was sitting in the hallway—oh my god, Blaine, are you crying? Blaine, what—oh my god, stop!"

Blaine tries to draw in a breath and do exactly what Tina has asked—stop crying—but it turns into a sob instead. When he feels her throw her arms around him, hands rubbing over his back soothingly, the tears become even more difficult to control. He hasn't cried like this in a while; has never cried like this because of Kurt.

"Blaine, seriously, what—did someone die?"


"Oh my god! Kurt died?" Tina pulls back, eyes wide with shock.

Blaine shakes his head and dashes at his tears with the back of his hands. He hates crying. He especially hates crying in front of others because then they try to comfort him, and he always feels awkward, like he doesn't know what to say or that he doesn't deserve their sympathy or something. He knows it's just a lie, but being strong and being happy, those are traits that please people. It's all Blaine's ever wanted, continues to ever want—to make people smile, to make people glad to be around him. Tears are frightening and unsettling, and so very inconvenient.

"No," he gets out quickly before Tina joins him in his tears because the girl can cry at the drop of a hat, and she doesn't need to be crying over something that is not even true. "Kurt and I, we… I think we broke up."

Oh god. He just said that, didn't he? Blaine presses the heels of his hands hard against his eyes as the tears begin falling again.

"What? That's insane." Tina leans over and wraps her arms around him once more, shushing him softly as she pets his head. "Blaine and Kurt do not break up. That'd be like… yin without yang, comedy without tragedy… Panic without the disco." She presses a kiss to his cheek. "Sorry, bad joke. But you get what I mean? Tell me what happened. Come here. Sit up. You're going to choke on your own snot or something."

Blaine surprises himself with a little laugh at that as he allows her to help him into a sitting position before he kind of slumps against the headboard. Tina digs through the purse strapped across her shoulders and he looks down at the phone still clutched in his hand. No messages. No calls. Just like the night before.

"Now tell me exactly what happened," she instructs, pulling a tissue from a portable pack and reaching over to wipe his tears away. She holds it over his nose. "Blow."

Pulling a face at her, Blaine takes the tissue from her fingers while she shrugs and sits back on her heels once more, patting his thigh as he blows his nose. He wipes at his eyes again while she quietly waits, strands of hair falling out of her ponytail from when she hugged him.

"I hadn't heard from him the last two days—"

"Artie told me about that last night."

"Well, he got on Skype last night," Blaine says softly, staring down at the tissue between his hands. "And he was so… it was like he didn't want to talk to me. Like I was… boring him or annoying him or something. And I tried to tell him about the musical but he said he had more important things to worry about than school musicals and then… then he told me to stop being childish."

Tina frowns as she pulls out another tissue and leans forward to dab at his eyes again. "That doesn't sound like Kurt at all. Did you ask him why he was acting that way?"

Blaine looks away. "I, ummm… logged off."

"Huh." Tina sits back once more. "Gay. Straight. Men are dumb."

"Thanks, Tina."

"Just being honest. Did you call him, at least?"

"Mom said I should wait until today." Blaine sniffs and looks at his phone again. "In case he had stuff he needed to sort out."

"Hmm. True. I mean, Kurt's always been one of those "need their space" kind of people," she says, watching him with real sympathy in her eyes until he can't take it anymore and looks away. "Boo, you've gotta stop. The two of you have had problems before, and you've always gotten past it. Aren't you the one who told me last spring that every time you fight, it just makes your bond stronger?"

"I lied."

He hadn't, though. It's true, and something both he and Kurt have discussed at length. How the few fights they have had were important and necessary, and have always, always assisted them in working through something vital and scary, and at the very end of those terrifying minuteshoursdays, they've always been stronger, better, more in tune with the thoughts and feelings of each other.

"Oh yes, that's you. Blaine Anderson, the big ol' liar." Tina rolls her eyes and grabs hold of his hand. "C'mon. Get up. We're gonna be late for school.

Blaine tugs his hand back, and glares at her in what he hopes is an effective enough manner to get her to leave him alone. He just wants to crawl back under the covers and wait for Kurt to get past whatever it is that's causing him to need space.

Unfortunately, Tina just rolls her eyes and grabs his hand once more as she begins to scoot off of his bed. "Get up, take a quick shower. I'll pick out something brilliant for you to wear—"

"Tina, no offense, but the last time you dressed me, I looked like Mike."

"Admittedly not my best moment," she says with a wave of her hand as she walks over to his closet. "Flannel just doesn't work on you. I promise I'll stick to the basic '50's package."

"I don't dress like the '50's," Blaine mutters, sniffing again as he swings his legs over the bed and gets up, still clinging to his phone. He glances at the screen once more, just in case he missed something.

"Right. And I've never impersonated a vampire before."

"What?" He stares at her, his beautiful Tina who doesn't look anything like a vampire and everything like a very happy teenage girl with a bright smile and a wardrobe Blaine probably would have chosen for himself if he had been born female.

"Nothing. Get showered, Boo. Make yourself gorgeous. Sugar's auditioning for the musical today, and I need moral support."

"I think Sugar is the last person you need to worry about, Tina," Blaine says, pulling a pair of underwear from his dresser and nudging Tina out of the doorway to his closet so he can grab his robe. "She's a sweet girl but I think Artie would willingly lock himself in a Port-A-Pottie before he cast her as Sarah."

Tina snorts and reaches up to pat Blaine's cheek. "You're too nice for your own good, Blaine Anderson. Now, go." She shoves at his shoulders, guiding him toward the hallway. "Your face is all blotchy and unattractive, and if we want to mount an assault against Kurt to make him feel guilty for making you cry, then we need to have you looking sad, but also pretty. Very, very pretty."

Tina wasn't lying about the assault thing. She starts snapping pictures of him on the drive to school, quickly uploading them to both her Facebook and her Tumblr, which she assures him Kurt regularly checks. Blaine knows it really isn't worth arguing with her about; when Tina gets an idea in her head, there's no stopping her. She's incredibly tenacious, a trait which Blaine thinks not many people associate with her. It's likely because she's such a good-hearted and sweet person—her tenacity only goes so far. She would never hurt someone else to get what she wants, but she tends to have trouble letting go of things as well.

She drags him from class to class, showing up outside his classroom door for the classes they don't have together, snapping pictures that she immediately posts ("You're really getting the whole oh my god my world is ending vibe across, Boo.") to her accounts. It's apparent to Blaine by second period that she's mounted her own kind of assault against himwhen Brittany tackles him in the hallway, calling him her dolphin (Kurt's her unicorn, Blaine her dolphin—there's some inter-species thing going on there that Blaine tries not to think about too hard), placing a bubblegum scented kiss on his cheek and tucking a daisy behind his ear. Blaine leaves the daisy there until one of the hockey players passes him in the hall and smacks it away. The contact with his ear hurts, but Blaine just levels a glare in his direction as he bends to pick up the mangled flower and slips it between the pages of his textbook.

In Calculus, Artie keeps up a running stream on all of his plans for Guys and Dolls. Blaine doodles in his notebook, writing out Kurt's name over and over again as his eyes continue to flicker toward his phone set close beside him. He picks it up three times, prepared to text Kurt, only to set it back down. It's beginning to wear on him, the idea that Kurt hasn't texted or called or anything. Yes, Blaine was the one who ended their Skype session, but surely Kurt realized he was being an ass, right? He'd give Kurt the rest of the day, and the benefit of the doubt that maybe he's busy with something, and then he'll send him the most amazingly passive aggressive text in the history of texting.

Lunch this year is different than when Blaine had Kurt there; different than having all of the New Direction's seniors around. Last year Blaine had spent most of his lunches tucked up beside Kurt, occasionally sharing off of one another's plates as they listened to conversations that usually devolved into several members of the glee club attempt to win the award for loudest at the table. Typically, Rachel ended up the winner of the contest, but sometimes Santana or Mercedes would step in to show her what true vocal power was all about. By March, Kurt and Blaine had developed a game together that when the conversation became too loud, they'd start singing. The others had quickly caught on and joined in, until that one fateful lunch period when the student body had apparently had enough, and they'd all ended up wearing slushies for their trouble.

This year, lunch is proving to be less chaotic. Blaine is usually the first into the cafeteria, followed shortly by Artie and Tina who have class together, and then Rory and Sugar will soon follow, all gathering around Blaine, asking him how his morning was, and what he has planned after school. Brittany usually ends up leaving the Cheerio table about halfway through lunch to join them, sometimes sitting between Artie and Tina, and other times squeezing in next to Blaine, where she inevitably cuddles against him and wonders aloud why she has to spend five years at school when everyone else only has to do four. Blaine's answer is always the same: "Because you're more important than the rest of us, Britt. And besides, New Directions wouldn't be the same without you."

Today's lunch passes with forced conversation that Blaine is fairly certain has everything to do with him. He spends much of his time glaring in Tina's direction while she carefully avoids his gaze at all cost—he knows information passes around the glee club faster than Doctor Whospoilers on Tumblr, but that doesn't mean he has to like it, especially when it's about him.

"So what are you doing for this week's assignment, Blaine?" Rory asks, looking over at him as he licks some of the salt from the fry between his fingers before eating it.

Assignment… crap. Blaine's been so wrapped up in everything happening with Kurt and the musical that he'd completely spaced Mr. Schuester's request that they each find a song that reminded them of their childhood to sing. He fidgets slightly in the plastic chair beneath him as everyone at the table collectively looks in his direction.

There was something to be said for the council of the Warblers choosing most of his songs for him.

"I… haven't really given it much thought," he admits, brow furrowing as he notices everyone around him flashing expressions of sympathy. As if it's completely understandable that he's totally forgotten an assignment due to boyfriend trouble. Blaine focuses on Rory. "What about you?"

"I think I'm going to sing Don't Stop Me Nowby Queen," he says, accent lilting slightly on Queen. By the time Rory was set to return to Ireland at the end of the last school year, he'd picked up enough Americanisms that his accent was barely noticeable to Blaine. A few short weeks back, and Blaine sometimes forgets that Rory's an exchange student, except when that lilt in his voice returns. "It was my mum's favorite when I was little. She played it all the time. Do you think that's what Mr. Schue wants? Or should I go with something else?"

Heads all swivel back to Blaine once more. He still remembers standing there in the choir room in May during their last week of school, as Finn had settled his hand on Blaine's shoulder and announced him as the new captain of New Directions. Rachel had clapped her hands enthusiastically while Kurt had beamed at him from the front row and Tina had bounced excitedly in her chair. Blaine had tried to hand the position off to Artie but had quickly been out-voted by pretty much everyone in the group.

Except Sugar. She'd explained that she would make a far better, and far sexier captain than Blaine would.

"I think that's a perfect choice," Blaine says with a nod as his friends around him all immediately erupt into separate conversations about what they plan to sing for the assignment. Blaine shuts most of it out until Brittany lays her head on his shoulder.

"My dolphin's sad," she says quietly, entwining her arms around his arm beside her, and squeezing. "Didn't my flower cheer you up?"

"It did, Britt. Thanks."

"Kurt would never mean to hurt you. I bet if he saw the way you look right now, he'd come right here and tell you how sorry he was."

Blaine smiles a little at that and leans his head against hers. "I know he would."

"Blaaainnneee." Sugar stretches herself across the table to reach him, the tips of her fingers patting his hand as she pointedly ignores the look of annoyance Tina, who has to pull her tray out of the way, is flashing in her direction. "I think I have some ideas on how to recruit more members."

"Does it require any form of bondage or other forceful coercion?" Blaine finds himself asking.

Tina begins choking on the sip of Diet Coke she's just taken.

Sugar seems to consider his question seriously for a moment before shaking her head. "No. But one of the options does include bribery."

"Which is something we may have to resort to," Artie says, tapping an unopened straw against his finger thoughtfully. "Bondage could come in handy, too." He catches the wide-eyed looks of the others and quickly adds, "I mean, not for recruitment purposes."

"And on that note…" Blaine pats Brittany's arm before standing to grab his tray and tells his friends that he'll see them in glee club that afternoon.

Tina catches up with him at his locker, pushing the door open wider to check her hair in his mirror as he switches books. "Lima Bean after glee? I've got a chemistry exam I have to cram for tonight."

"Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?"

"Something like that." She spins around to lean her back against the lockers behind her and lowers her voice to say, "Besides, I heard Ana say that her cousin's best friend's brother saw Quinn and Puck at the Dairy Queen last night. I want to know what that's all about."

Blaine grins. "Surely friends are allowed to go to the Dairy Queen together without it being some huge deal."

"They're so on-again, off-again lately, I feel like I need to download an app to keep track of them." Tina grows quiet, watching Blaine as he pauses in his text book swapping to stare at the photo of him and Kurt at Senior Prom. "You okay, Boo?"

Blaine shrugs and shuts his locker. "You know me."

"Yes, I do. Which is why I'm asking." She reaches out for his arm as they start down the hall. "Have you thought about texting Kurt?"

"Not in the last two minutes or so."

Tina nods. "Mike says he thinks Kurt's just really stressed out with the internship right now."

"Wait. You've already talked to Mike about this?"

"We've been texting." Tina gives him a look that clearly says she's wondering why he didn't expect that. "He and Kurt went out for coffee the other day. He said Kurt was kind of distracted—"

"Distracted with figuring out how to break up with me—Ow!"

Tina frowns at him after she punches him in the arm. "Unless you left out something in the retelling of your story, Kurt said no such thing to you. Personally I think you're both just behaving like boys, and Mike agrees."

"Well, I can't see what the problem is here other than the fact that Kurt and Iare boys—Ow!"

"Don't be contrary," she says, rubbing his arm where she hit him. "You know what I mean. There's a good way to behave like boys, and a bad way. And right now I think you're behaving in the bad way."

Blaine shakes his head. "I love you, T. But just now, I didn't understand a single word you said."

Tina purses her lips and rolls her eyes. "You're both being stupid. Does that break it down enough for you? Or should I try moronic? Idiotic? Stubborn? Ridiculous?—"

"All right! All right!" Blaine laughs a little, holding his hands up in surrender. "I get it. Do you think I should call him or text him or what? Since you're apparently a master at this relationship stuff."

Tina stops abruptly and raises an eyebrow at Blaine as she holds a finger up in his face. "Mike and I have been together for more than two years now, true?"

"Umm, true."

"We've had the occasional fights, yes, but have we ever once split up?"

Blaine shakes his head.

"And now, here he is, off in New York following his dreams at Alvin Ailey, and we're both perfectly content and more in love than ever, yes?"

Blaine nods, eyes widening as Tina settles both of her hands on her hips.

"Name another couple in this crazy ass, backwards institution that has pulled that off?"


"Exactly. Now name one that will follow in our rather perfect example?"

Blaine blinks, and cautiously says, "Me and Kurt…?"

"You and Kurt." Tina reaches over and pats his cheek. "You love Kurt, Blaine. You're head over heels crazy about him, and you always have been. Do what you feel you should do in this situation, okay? Go with your heart." She stabs her finger against his chest. "It's the place you seem to work best from."

Blaine draws in a breath and smiles as he leans over to press a kiss to Tina's cheek. "What would I do without you, T?"

"Be miserable and angsty and not at all the Blaine Anderson we all know and love," she replies with a smile. "See you in glee, Boo."

"You've reached future Broadway star, Kurt Elizabeth Hummel. I can't take your call right now, but if you leave a message, I'll get back to you as soon as I have a chance."

"….Hi. It's me. I know you're busy with everything but I just wanted to leave a message to say I'm sorry for coming off as a brat last night or… well, I'm sorry for just ending our chat the way I did. And that I didn't answer your call right away. I just… I miss you. And I know that's not an excuse or anything for behaving like an ass but, I don't really know how else to explain it. Anyway, I have to run to glee but I just wanted to call and let you know…. If you're too busy to call back, I understand. I… I love you, Kurt."

"You absolutely pulled that song out of your ass, Anderson, and don't deny it," Rose Wilson says, flashing a look over her shoulder at him before yanking the door to the Lima Bean open. "My superpower is observance, and I totally observed your eyes popping out of your head in panic when Schue called on you first."

"You have superpowers?" Brittany stares at her fellow cheerleader as she follows her inside.

"It was rambling around in the back of my mind," Blaine replies, waving his hands around his head. "I never just pull things out of my ass—" He stops himself abruptly at the expression on the Cheerio's face as she stares at him.

Rose holds up her hand a moment between them and then shakes her head. "No, that one's too easy. I'm gonna let it go because you're cute, and you're one hell of a running back."

Blaine lets out a quick breath of relief. "Thank you."

Brittany leans between them and whispers, "Why are we talking about Blaine's ass?"

"Well, it's not as if it's a bad thing to talk about," Rose says, leaning back slightly to take a look at Blaine's backside.

Blaine feels his face flush under her scrutiny, and it only grows worse when Brittany follows her lead. "Okay. Enough with embarrassing Blaine. Time for a new topic—"

"What new topic?" Tina asks, moving up behind them as she gazes at her cell phone a moment before tucking it into her messenger bag.

"We were talking about Blaine's ass," Brittany informs her with a smile.

"Oh, good topic."

"Right?" Rose spreads her hands wide as she raises her eyebrows in Blaine's direction.

"Oh my god." Blaine pushes ahead of them with a sigh to get in line. "You guys go grab a booth. I'll get our drinks."

"Such a fine assed gentleman," Rose purrs as she walks away with Brittany and Tina, the three of them erupting into giggles.

Rolling his eyes, Blaine pulls out his phone to text Kurt in order to ask how he has always handled hanging out with girls, and stops himself just before he can begin typing. Oh. Right. He hasn't heard back from Kurt yet. And he knows in his message he'd said Kurt could take his time to respond but… well, Blaine has kind of been hoping Kurt would have tried to get back to him as soon as possible. He rubs the pad of his thumb over his screen, the picture of him and Kurt laughing together staring back at him, before slipping it back into his pocket and stepping up to the counter.

"Well, hello there, stranger," Quinn greets with a smile as she looks over at him. "I see you brought your harem with you."

Blaine glances over his shoulder toward the corner booth where the three girls have huddled together, looking at something on Rose's phone. "Rory made plans with some friend from his math class, and Aaron doesn't drink coffee. I practically pleaded with Artie but he said he had decisions to make regarding casting."

"Well, you look like you're in hell."

"I spent two years at an all-boy's school, Quinn." Blaine smiles across the counter at her. "Conversations rarely ever centered on my ass… Well, there was that one time, but Thad had too much to drink."

Quinn's eyes sparkle in amusement. "I'm sure." She turns her attention to the register. "The usual?"

"Please. And a skinny vanilla latte, and two non-fat caramel lattes."

Quinn's gaze swings to the display before returning to Blaine. "Is that all?"

Hesitating only a moment, Blaine leans over to peer through the glass, eyes sweeping across the various pastries before he presses a finger against the display toward a tray on the second row. "And one of those chocolate chocolate chip cookies."

Quinn waits.

"Okay, two." He hands over some money, waiting as she returns his change to him. "How are classes going?"

"Good. I think I made the right decision hitting JC this year while I try to decide what I'm really interested in." She shrugs as she closes the register drawer. "Almost daily I find myself changing my mind. Who knows where I'll end up? Go on and sit down. We're not very busy so I'll bring it all over when it's ready."

"Thanks, Quinn." Blaine gives her a quick smile before making his way through the coffee shop.

"You're just in time, B," Rose calls out as Blaine slides into the booth beside Tina.

"Why am I terrified?"

"Aaron. Yay or nay?" She asks, ignoring his question.

Blaine blinks at her, glancing at Tina and Brittany who are both watching him intently. "Yay or nay what?"

"Do you consider him a hottie? Totally doable? Like, if you were available, and he were gay—"

"I don't thinkyou're trying to be offensive, but I could be wrong," Blaine interrupts, scowling at her.

Rose rolls her eyes at him. "Don't get your panties in a twist. He's the current topic of conversation, and if you don't want to participate, then fine. Boring, but fine. Whatevs."

Feeling a little like he might have disappointed them, Blaine glances from one face to the other before looking over at Tina. "What was the consensus?" he asks quietly.

"Total hottie."

"And you agree?"

It's Tina's turn to roll her eyes. "Duh. I may love Mike, Blaine, but I'm not dead."

Blaine fidgets as he finds the girls looking at him expectantly again. "He, uh, isn't really my type, honestly," he says to the apparent dismay of his friends.

"Are you crazy?"

"You can tell us the truth, Blaine. We won't share."

"Are we still talking about Blaine's ass?"

"What about Blaine's ass?" Quinn asks Brittany as she steps up to the table and sets down their order.

Blaine is two seconds from slamming his forehead against the tabletop as he grabs his medium drip and cookies and proceeds to glare at Quinn as she settles on the edge of the seat beside Brittany on the other side of the table. "Don't encourage them." He bites into a cookie.

"Speaking of asses," Tina begins as Blaine groans. She leans across the table, tapping a finger at Quinn. "What's up with you and Puck at the Diary Queen?"

"Ugh. We're just friends, Tina."

Blaine tunes out the majority of the resulting conversation, worried that if he seems too intent on what's happening with the latest gossip between Quinn and Puck, they'll decide to ask him if he thinks Puck's a hottie, and he is definitely not getting drawn into that debate. Those conversations were restricted to late night chats with Kurt, which inevitably always ended in tears of laughter as they'd tease one another over their differing tastes in men.

God, he misses Kurt. More than he could have thought possible. Not just Kurt hisboyfriend, but Kurt his best friend, the one person in Blaine's life who has the uncanny ability to be everything to Blaine that he needs. Kurt gets that while Blaine has never been entirely comfortable sitting around gossiping with the girls and discussing who's hot among the student body males, he can spend hours at a time wandering through Brooks Brothers and trying on dozens of combinations of outfits. Kurt gets that sometimes Blaine just needs to spend hours blowing things up in video games (and the day that Blaine discovered Kurt was the biggest badass at Halo he had ever met will forever live in Blaine's mind as one of the greatest days ever—even if he isn't allowed to tell anyone), and that he'd rather hang out with Finn and Puck watching the game than giving one another facials with Rachel and Mercedes.

Blaine supposes that's why he and Kurt have always clicked so well. They're different, there's no denying that, but they share enough of the same interests and understanding to make it work. Blaine loves that Kurt is one of the most amazing cooks he's ever met—because Blaine loves to eat. He loves the fact that while he's a little more trendy when it comes to fashion, Kurt is far more individualized, and will tell Blaine when he needs to add a touch here or there to make an outfit more personal. Blaine loves that Kurt introduced him to proper skin care, something which Blaine never forgets now, even when they don't have the chance to do it together. And he loves that while he may know a few things about cars from what he learned while working on the Chevy with his father, Kurt knows everything about cars, and behaves like its nothing; like he's merely commenting on the weather when he tells you it sounds like you're timing belt is going, and you really ought to get a new one.

More than anything though, Blaine loves the contradictions of Kurt, and the fact that he's never been able to second-guess him, never been able to anticipate what he'll do or say. He meant it last year when he'd told Kurt he loves that he tends to zig when Blaine expects him to zag, and Blaine doubts that will ever change. Even now when Blaine simply cannot bring himself to understand why Kurt has been so silent, as if he's purposely withdrawing from Blaine. If there is one thing Blaine does understand about Kurt, it's the blanket of defensiveness he wraps around himself. A self-imposed layer of protection borne from years of pain and rejection. From the moment they met, Blaine has been one of the few people Kurt has allowed past that, though there are times when he has to fight a little—never pushing, always just reaching out—until Kurt drops the veneer of remoteness enough to let Blaine in, and he hopes that this is one of those times. Those are always the best moments because deep inside, Kurt is soft and warm like fleece, and more often than not the only thing Blaine wants in the world is to wrap himself up in that, and hide away from the rest of the world forever.

The truth is, Blaine often finds himself wondering what it is that Kurt sees in him, why in the world Kurt Hummel would choose to be with Blaine Anderson, when there's really nothing all that spectacular or interesting about him. And it's thoughts like that one that have made the week unbearable; that have his stomach churning with queasiness even as he tries to force down what's usually his favorite cookie. It's the thought that maybe, just maybe, Kurt has finally come to the realization that Blaine isn't good enough, or interesting enough, or worth waiting for, and that's why they fought, that's why Kurt seems so disinterested in anything to do with Blaine anymore.

The hurt those thoughts cause is something Blaine tries very hard to ignore, to push toward the back of his mind where he hides similar insecurities regarding how his own father feels about him. They're the same fears that sometimes make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. They aren't always there; more often than not, Blaine considers himself to be one of the least angst-filled teenagers he knows. It's not as if he sits in a dark room listening to Evanescence while writing poetry about the pain life inflicts on him. Whenever he does complain, he instantly feels guilty because honestly, so many people are worse off than him, and so what if his father has a habit of making him feel like the worst thing he's ever done in life was making the decision to be himself? He still has a home. A roof over his head. A mother who, while mostly absent, has never hidden her love for him. A boyfriend who—

Blaine draws a breath and allows himself to rejoin the conversation at the table; Tina is recounting last year's competition performances for Rose. He focuses on her words for a moment, because he doesn't want to think about Kurt right now. Doesn't want to think about the fact that he is counting each passing minute by the fact that he hasn't heard back from him yet, and Blaine knows that's the reason for his continuing spiral into teenage ridden angst this week. He can't be happy because one of his main forms of happiness over the past two years seems to be abandoning him.

"You okay?"

Blaine lifts his head to find Quinn scooting into the seat beside him, her hand lying gently over his arm. He finds a smile. "Yeah. Just… " When he realizes she's waiting for him to continue, he can only bring himself to admit, "Kurt and I. There was a… thing last night, and I'm just worried."

Quinn's brow furrows for a moment before she leans over and presses a kiss to his cheek. "If there is one thing I have never worried about, it's you and Kurt." Her fingers curl around his wrist in a light squeeze. "But if you need to talk, you know where to find me."

Friday morning dawns the same as the other mornings that week. Blaine is staring at his phone when the alarm goes off; as if the longer and harder he stares, the bigger the possibility that Kurt will magically text or call through sheer force of Blaine's will. Disappointment floods him, and he yanks the covers over his head, turning his face into his pillow, and screams. He feels a little better once it's out—a little less like throwing his phone on the floor and stomping on it until only tiny pieces of it is left. The overwhelming frustration passes as swiftly as it hit, and he sits up, running a hand through his hair as he glances toward his messenger bag. It's the Titans bye week, which means no game tonight. Which also means if Kurt doesn't call today, Blaine has the entire evening to mope.


Standing in the shower, face upturned into the warm water, Blaine imagines multiple scenarios leading to resolution between whatever is going on between him and Kurt. Three of them end rather badly, and he doesn't want to be that guy, the pessimistic one who drowns himself in Dashboard Confessional every time his boyfriend forgets to say gesundheit. Scenario number four has Blaine using his father's credit card to buy a flight to New York, dropping in on Rachel and Kurt's doorstop, and begging—on his knees—for Kurt to forgive him for being a childish brat and never, ever make him feel this worried again. The fifth scenario is ridiculously sunny and optimistic, and the least likely of all four, involving red roses and candy from Kurt along with a flowery and poetic apology written in Kurt's looping, and sometimes difficult to read, script. It would be waiting for Blaine when he got home that afternoon, along with a promise to spend the entire night on Skype repeating I love you to one another until they passed out from exhaustion.

When Blaine dreams, he dreams big.

There are two messages from Tina when he wanders back into his bedroom, rubbing a towel over his curls while scratching at an itch just about the waistband of his boxer briefs.

From: T (1/2)
Dress choice: yellow or pink?

From: T (2/2)
Do u think we should bring Artie donuts or something this am?

Grinning, Blaine texts back quickly as he moves over to his closet.

To: T
You were wearing yellow on Monday. Besides, you're pretty in pink. Don't think bribery works w/Artie. & he doesn't like donuts.

He's debating between the black or red polo when he receives her response.

From: T (1/1)
Now I have that song stuck in my head. You know I hate the '80's!

To: T
Bite your tongue!

By the time Blaine makes it downstairs he and Tina have discussed their own choices for the cast list, what the mystery meat will be in the cafeteria that day, whether or not they could pull off Trick or Treating next month, and who has the biggest dick—Chris Hemsworth or Chris Evans. He texts that he'll see her in English as he reaches the bottom step before tucking his phone into his pocket and lifting his head, sniffing the air with a small frown.

Coffee. Ridiculously strong with two too many scoops. The familiar tightness settles in his stomach and Blaine draws in a breath as he rounds the corner into the kitchen, forcing a cheerful smile to his face.

"Morning!" He calls out to his father, who's sitting at the breakfast bar with gaze trained on a copy of the New York Times. Blaine hears a brief grunt in return as he pulls the refrigerator open, glancing over the shelves before grabbing the carton of milk.

There's silence as he pulls a glass from the cupboard and pours himself a glass before returning the milk to the refrigerator. Blaine takes a small sip, gaze flickering toward his father as he searches for something to say. It wasn't always like this, of course, not before. Not when Blaine had simply been Robert Anderson's youngest son, when they used to toss a football or grill hamburgers in the backyard, and plan camping trips that inevitably ended with Blaine or Blake, or sometimes both of them covered in hives from poison ivy.

Until one day when it all just… stopped.

Blaine's mother says he's imagining things; that he's making it out to be worse than it really is, and he just needs to give his father more time. Except it's been over four years now, and his father still can't seem to look him in the eye for more than a second at a time, and rarely have they ever had conversation that lasted for more than a few minutes.

"Mom at work?" he finally asks, licking the milk from the top of his lip before setting his glass down in search of Pop Tarts.

"Mmm. Meeting in Pittsburgh. She'll be back Sunday."

Blaine chews on the inside of his cheek as he stares at the Pop Tarts warming inside the toaster. He knows his father well enough to realize he likely won't be around much, either. His work as legal counsel for Kaiser Permanente takes him away a lot, not only in Ohio but to other locations in the country as well. And sometimes, Blaine's fairly certain, Robert Anderson makes up excuses to be out of the house.

"Game tonight?"

Blaine looks up quickly at the question. "No. Ummm, bye week." As his father drops his gaze back to the paper, Blaine adds, "Home game next week, though. Will you, uh, think you'll be able to attend?"

"Probably. How's the team doing?" His father lays the paper back down and reaches out for his coffee as he glances over at Blaine.

"Three and one," Blaine says with a smile, ignoring his Pop Tarts to step closer to the breakfast bar, leaning forward on the counter with his elbows. "The Indians lucked out on a bad call from the refs. Coach Beiste said he was apparently the brother-in-law to their coach or something?" He shrugs and rolls his eyes a bit.

"You doing okay out there?"

Blaine's a little surprised at the question; touched, if he were perfectly honest with himself. A little voice warns him his father's only asking such a thing in case Blaine's high school football career is destined to be a very short one. "Yeah. I'm good. I mean, it's not like I'm out there trying to get tackled. The point is to make it to the end zone before that happens, right?" He smiles.

Blaine's father shrugs as he sips at his coffee and glances toward the paper again. "You haven't exactly been involved in many contact sports in the last few years, Blaine."

It's difficult not the wince at that. When the toaster dings, Blaine turns away from his father to grab the heated pastries, wrapping them in a paper towel to eat on the way to school. He knows he should let his father's comment go, but he spins back around and replies, "Polo wasn't exactly knitting, Dad. Nor was fencing. Or self-defense class or—you know what? Forget it. Whatever. My week's been crappy enough as it is without getting into this debate with you again."

"No one was debating anything, Blaine. I was simply pointing out a fact." His father snapped the paper shut before sliding off the stool. "You're the one who enjoys twisting my words to make yourself out to be the victim."

Blaine stares, silent and a bit regretful as his father carries his coffee cup over to the sink to wash it out, and then leaves without another word.

To: Rachel
I left Kurt a message last night but haven't heard back. I don't know if you're up to date but… could you let me know if he's okay?

From: Rachel (1/1)
I think he just needs time. You know Kurt. I'm very certain you'll hear from him soon! I promise! 333 ~RB

Had Blaine spent his summer taking courses at the local community college, he honestly could have been graduating come December. The discussion had actually taken place both with his parents, and with Kurt. In the end, the cons outweighed the pros, and both he and Kurt had acknowledged that the only reason they'd seriously discussed it was in order to be together that much sooner. It wasn't necessary to kill himself with summer courses and sneaking in SAT's and ACT's when he could, just to try to get accepted into NYADA for the spring semester. His parents had point blanked asked him if this was just to be with his boyfriend, and Blaine had felt awful for lying and saying "no", when actually the answer had been "yes", and his guilt had been one more reason listed beneath the ever-growing column of cons.

The other reason, honestly, had been New Directions. From the moment Finn had passed the baton of captain to him for the upcoming school year, Blaine has struggled under a responsibility not only to the few members left in the group, but to Mr. Schuester as well. Like Coach Beiste losing her star players from the Titans, the star members of New Directions graduated en masse—the ones who built the club up from the ground, guiding it every painful step of the way toward victory last year at Nationals—leaving the club ridiculously barren and in need of rebuilding. Blaine couldn't wrap his mind around abandoning them when it really wasn't necessary, so abandoning New Directions had also ended up listed among the column of cons. (When he'd checked the list a few weeks later, he'd been amused to find those words scratched out, and Kurt's somewhat sloppy handwriting had rewritten giving up on taking your place as rightful star among New Directions and leading them to another victory at Nationals.)

With very few credits actually needed this semester and next in order to graduate, Blaine fills one of his classes each week as TA to Mr. Schuester for his Spanish classes. Even though Blaine hasn't taken a day of Spanish in his life, it works out because they both know he's not actually there to grade papers—he's there to work on glee club. It's actually a perfect arrangement since it offers Blaine the opportunity to assist in choosing assignments each week, and steer his teacher away from his penchant for Easy Listening. While Blaine loves music from all eras, even he has grown a little tired of singing songs from a genre that disappeared along with feathered hair and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

Of course, first things first. Sectionals are two months away, and even with the win at Nationals, the glee club doesn't exactly have students beating down its doors, begging to be a part of it all. They currently have a total of eight members—not bad considering how they'd started off the year before with half the club defecting to a new group. With six of the members left over from last year, plus Rose, who Brittany had coerced over from the Cheerios, and Aaron, a surprising addition who had approached Blaine his first day on the Titans, asking if they wouldn't mind a not half-bad quarterback signing backup, they have a solid foundation. If they need to drag the band members into the group again, they will, but Blaine keeps coming back to the understanding that some of their strongest singers—Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes, Santana—are no longer with them. They can't win Nationals again, or hell, even Regionals, with band members mouthing "watermelon" behind them.

"I know they haven't been enormously successful in the past, but I keep coming back to a pep rally performance," Blaine offers, tapping the end of his pen against his lips as he stares across the room at the white board where Mr. Schuester is writing out that afternoon's assignment for Spanish II. "Something big, though, where the student body is really into it. Maybe… the Homecoming pep rally?"

Mr. Schuester pauses in his scribbles, sounding out the words of what he's just written as if he isn't entirely certain it's correct, before nodding slightly as he finishes the sentence on the board. "Just no Britney, or you'll have Sue setting off fire alarms."

Blaine crosses Britney Spears off his list of music ideas, having had forgotten about that story. "We could gear up and start plastering the halls in flyers, maybe with photos from last year's Nationals performance," Blaine is writing quickly across the paper in front of him as the ideas come to him, "and we could always ask Figgins to pipe our performance into the cafeteria over lunch a couple of days." He stops and looks up, frowning a little. "Although, that has the potential to end badly. While Azimio and Karofsky appear to be relics of the past around here, I can't imagine Kurt and I singing Come What May over the speakers through the halls of McKinley wouldn't end in a slushie bath for yours truly." He crosses offPipe Nationals performance over speakers.

"Speaking of Kurt, how's he doing?" Mr. Schuester turns from the white board, apparently missing the way Blaine's face falls at the question. "Has he taken New York by storm, yet?"

Blaine forces a smile to his face, tone far more light-hearted than he feels. "Oh, you know Kurt. It's now a race to see whose name will be up in lights first—his or Rachel's."

"And soon you'll be added to that race," Schuester tells him with a smile as he rounds his, desk to lean against the front, crossing his arms over his chest as he regards Blaine for a moment. "The three of you there in the big city, sweeping the Tony's one day."

Blaine flushes and shakes his head with a laugh. "I hardly think you can put me in the same category as them, Mr. Schue. They're stars. I just," he searches for the right words, "have fun. Don't get me wrong, it's what I wantto do. It's what I love to do. But, I'm pretty content with the thought of paying my dues in chorus."

Mr. Schuester is giving him one of those looks that Blaine has become rather familiar with over the last year or so. The one where the glee director is disappointed in what's just been said; disappointed and thoughtful to the extent where Blaine grows uncomfortable with the intent stare and drops his eyes back to the paper in front of him to write out a few more ideas for glee club promotion.

"Blaine." His teacher pauses until Blaine gives in and looks up at him. "You're just as worthy of one day having your name up in lights as either of them, and in some ways, more so. While one couldn't possibly deny Kurt's talent and determination, the sad fact is that roles for him will always be slightly limited until someone like him forces a change. As for Rachel," Schuester smiles with the fondness of a teacher who's guided their student through some of their less-than-complimentary behavior, "you carry with you an almost crippling humility. It makes you likable. Makes people respond to you positively. Even if it also has a tendency to make you sell yourself short."

"Was that a carefully placed short joke, Mr. Schue?" Blaine says with an uncomfortable laugh as he attempts to steer the conversation in another direction.


"I'll present my ideas in glee next week, and maybe we can get to work on recruiting those last four members," Blaine continues as he gets up, noting that the bell is going to ring in a few minutes anyway. "I still think the pep rally is a possibility, with the right song choice."

Mr. Schuester is still eying him far too closely, like he's trying to figure something about Blaine out. Blaine hates it when people try to read him. The only person who's ever correctly learned to assess his moods and thoughts is Kurt, and it feels like a gaping wound every single time Kurt has ever peeled back another layer and discovered another part of him. Blaine had grown so comfortable during his time at Dalton hiding behind the blazer and the tie, looking like one of dozens of other boys, and if not for Kurt, he'd still be there, comfortable in his disguise. Kurt is still one of the few people in Blaine's life that he feels entirely at ease with seeing the real Blaine Anderson—fears and faults and insecurities all wrapped up in a pretty bow—and it's instinctual for Blaine to immediately slip behind his comfortable mask of geniality when someone starts to push.

"Blaine, is something wrong?"

So much for hiding it, but Blaine doesn't want to stand there and discuss his relationship woes with his teacher. He doesn't want to admit that his biggest fear of Kurt leaving him behind in Lima while he took off to New York has always been that in the end, Blaine wouldn't be enough for Kurt. Not bright enough, not amazing enough, not ever capable of possessing that extra special sparklingsomethingthat Kurt has, and deserves to have in his partner. Admissions like that are followed up by platitudes that people like teachers and parents, and even close friends, are forced to offer up like "don't talk like that", "you're far more special than you know", and other things that Blaine has trouble accepting when his boyfriend thinks he's childish, and not worth calling or texting or pretending he exists.

"Not at all, Mr. Schue." Blaine smiles and tucks his notes into his binder, backing toward the door just as the bell sounds. "Just nervous because the cast list goes up today, I guess. Have a good weekend."

"I feel like I'm gonna throw up," Tina bemoans beside Blaine before dropping her forehead against his shoulder and whimpering.

They're leaning against the row of lockers just down the hall and facing the bulletin board where Artie will be posting the cast list any moment now. Twice, Blaine has been tempted to just ignore it, pack up his things and head home for the weekend; wait for the inevitable text from Tina. She'd begged him to stay with her though, for moral support, and within minutes of securing their position in the hall, they'd been joined by Sugar, Rory, Rose and Brittany. The halls were steadily growing more deserted as the last classes of the day ended, and the small group received one or two odd looks from passing students until Rose began threatening them with physical violence if they kept staring so hard.

"What's taking him so long?" Sugar asks as she leans her head on Blaine's other shoulder with a loud sigh.

"Well, I can't say it's going to be the easiest show to cast," Blaine replies. "Artie doesn't know half the people who auditioned, and if it weren't for Coach Beiste and Coach Sylvester convincing some of the athletes to audition, I'm not entirely certain he could fill out the cast at all."

Coach Sylvester's agreement to assist in gathering students to audition had been pleasantly surprising. Artie had told Blaine he was insane for even asking, but for as much as the majority of what came out of Sue Sylvester's mouth continually confused the hell out of Blaine, she didn't scare him the way she seemed to scare so many others. He'd just wandered into her office, smiled at her as she referred to him by a variety of nicknames that he found far more complimentary than insulting (he's pretty certain the Muppet comparison was supposed to be an insult due to his eyebrows, but Blaine loved the Muppets, so he had no problem with it), and then point blank asked if she could help them get some students to the audition. Coach Sylvester had agreed, but on one condition: when she needed a favor in return, Blaine couldn't say no. Blaine's still mildly horrified as to when, and exactly whatthe favor may turn out to be, but at least he'd succeeded in providing plenty of students for Artie to fill out the cast for the musical.

"Oh! Here he comes!" Sugar exclaims, straightening to clutch to Blaine's right arm even as Tina grabs his left.

They all grow silent as they watch Artie roll up to the bulletin board, a piece of paper on his lap. He glances over his shoulder at them, nodding once, a hint of amusement quickly replaced by a stern mask of professionalism as he grabs a lone tack from the board and reaches up, posting the list above him. Blaine winces as he feels Sugar's nails digging into his arm; the entire group leans forward slightly as one, poised to race toward the board the moment Artie leaves. Their friend lingers though, for just a moment, pretending to glance over the other notices tacked around the list.

Rose sighs loudly and pushes away from the lockers. "Oh for god's sake, let's just get this over with already!" She announces, leading the group toward Artie as they peel away to follow her, one by one, Blaine and Tina lagging slightly behind the rest.

"Who's Laverne?" Rose calls out as Artie pulls back from the group, pressing his fingers together beneath his chin as he watches them. She's looking back at Blaine because he's apparently the only one who knows anything about Guys and Dolls.

"She's a friend of Adelaide," he tells her. "Kind of a bitch. Hates Nathan."

"Awesome." Rose swings away from the board happily.

"Adelaide's a good part, right?" Brittany glances over at him as Blaine hangs back while Tina fights her way through the small crowd toward the front.

"She's one of the leads, Britt," Blaine says, leaning up on the balls of his feet slightly to see over the heads in front of him. "She has a few dance numbers, too."

Blaine's gaze isn't on the list so much as it's on Tina as he watches her successfully make it up to the board, eyes widening as a smile beams across her face.

"Is that the cast list?"

Blaine looks over his shoulder to see Aaron walking up behind him, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans, a couple of the other football players milling behind him. "Yeah. Artie just—"

"I got Sarah!" Tina interrupts, throwing her arms around Blaine's neck. "I'm playing Sergeant Sarah Brown! Oh, and you're Sky, of course. As if any of us had a doubt." She looks over at Aaron, pointing a finger at him. "And you, sir, are Nathan Detroit. Which I really thought Rory would get, but I suppose it makes sense."

"Wait. Rory didn't get Nathan?" Blaine asks confused as he glances toward Artie across the hall, then back toward the bulletin board where Rory is lingering, staring at the paper. "Did Rory—?"

"He's playing Nicely Nicely," Tina informs him, and Blaine finds himself nodding as Artie rolls his chair over to join them.

"He'll also be taking the lines for Benny Southstreet," Artie says. "It's easier to combine the two roles. Rory's voice is strong enough to carry the songs, while I think you and Aaron would be far more interesting contrasts in the main roles."

Blaine and Aaron look at one another.

"A black Nathan Detroit and a gay Pinoy Sky Masterson," Aaron says with a laugh as he claps Artie on the shoulder, moving around his chair. "Artie, my friend, I'm not sure if you're a genius or totally out of your mind. See you guys next week."

Blaine laughs.

"Why am I a general?"

Sugar stands with her hands on her hips, glaring down at Artie.

"General Cartwright is the leader of the Salvation Army," Artie tells his girlfriend, reaching out to give her hand a squeeze. "It's a good role for you."

"Oh. Well." She smiles and preens before settling comfortably on his lap and pressing a kiss to his cheek.

"When do rehearsals begin?" Tina asks, bouncing lightly on her feet as she takes hold of Blaine's arm. "Oh, I can't wait to call Mike!"

Blaine tunes out of the conversation as Artie begins discussing the rehearsal schedule with the small group. He knows that like last year, he and Coach Beiste had worked out the rehearsal and football schedules so that they won't conflict with one another. Blaine's looking forward to the busy schedule, if he's perfectly honest with himself. With his schedule full, he's left with less time to sit around and think about how he'd spent his afternoons last year, almost always in Kurt's company, studying, hanging out at the North Hills mall, gazing at one another over coffee at the Lima Bean, taking every opportunity for privacy to further explore and memorize every inch of one another's bodies.

"—to celebrate?"

Blinking, Blaine looks over at Tina, just catching that she was talking to him. "I'm sorry. What?"

"I asked if you want to head to the Lima Bean to grab some coffee to celebrate? It's on me!"

"No. I mean," he grabs the strap of his bag and drops his gaze to the floor, "I'm not very good company right now. I think I'd rather just go home."

Tina offers him a sympathetic look. She leans up to press a kiss to his cheek. "He'll call," she whispers, and gives his arm a squeeze. "I know he will."

Blaine wishes he could have her faith, but so far, nothing this week has worked out the way he'd been hoping.

A familiar Navigator is sitting parked in front of the Anderson home when Blaine turns the corner. He's so shocked at the sight of it that he almost drives right past. It can't possibly be Kurt because Kurt is in New York, and not scheduled to come back to Lima until the second weekend in October when he has four days off, and Rachel certainly couldn't have responded to him earlier that day without telling him… could she? Oh god, it is Kurt because Blaine sees him through the window as he drives by and pulls into the driveway.

Putting his Camaro in park, Blaine just sits there, terrified of opening the door, of stepping out, because there can only be one reason Kurt is there, and he doesn't want to hear it. He can't hear it. For a moment, he wonders if maybe that's the problem—he hasn't told Kurt enough just how much his life revolves around him. How much Blaine doesn't think he can live without him. How difficult just these few short weeks have been. Maybe if he'd said something, Kurt wouldn't be here now, likely to collect the DVD's and CD's and clothes of Kurt's that Blaine has scattered around his room. The over-sized Rick Owen's black cashmere sweater that kind of looks ridiculous on Blaine, and comes down past his knees, but he still loves to wrap himself in it at night after homework, curling up on his bed to watch TV and just smell and feel his boyfriend all around him. The little notepad of Kurt's that he'd carried with him his entire time at Dalton, and in between the drawings of Pavarotti and sketches of outfits are doodles of his name, and Kurt's name, and hearts, and Kurt's name with his hyphenated and I love Blaine and so many other things that when Blaine had accidentally found it last year, it had brought him to tears. He keeps it by his bedside, and flips through it sometimes, smiling because Kurt had waited for him, had thought he was worth waiting for.

Finally gathering enough courage to open his door, Blaine takes his time reaching in for his messenger bag, pretending like he's looking for something. He hears the Navigator door close, and soon the sound of footfalls coming up behind him. Swallowing, Blaine takes a breath and hooks his bag over his shoulder before turning around, quietly closing his door behind him.

Kurt looks… tired. There are dark circles under his eyes—something he's always very careful about not letting happen—and his skin isn't quite as vibrant and glowing as Blaine is used to seeing. Worse still, he's dressed in skinny jeans, motorcycle boots and Blaine's Dalton sweatshirt.

Wait. His sweatshirt?

Blinking, Blaine meets Kurt's gaze, a little confused but lifting his chin bravely. "If… if you drove all of the way here just to get y-your things, I c-could've mailed them to you."

Kurt's head moves slightly to the side and his brow furrows. He seems to catch Blaine's meaning when his eyes widen slightly. "Blaine," he begins softly—

And god, Blaine actually misses the simple sound of his voice—

"Do you want to break up?"

"No!" Blaine drops his head and takes a breath, realizing he probably just made a complete fool of himself answering that so quickly, so vehemently. His eyes sting as he feels tears gathering in them, and he tries so, so hard to hold them back. Kurt doesn't need to see him crying over this. Not when he's already accused him of behaving childishly.

"Blaine, look at me."

For a moment, he resists, wishing that Kurt would just get this over with so Blaine could curl up in bed, in Kurt's sweater, and try to get over the love he knows he'll never actually get over. But then Kurt's fingers are pressing against Blaine's chin, bringing his head up, and Kurt's right there, in his space, and Blaine's missed him so much that having him so near is making it difficult to breathe. His chest aches and his throat is tight, and he sucks in a sharp breath as Kurt's hands settle on his cheeks, cupping his face gently.

"I'm so sorry," he begins softly. "I didn't—I'm not sure what came over me. This has been so much more difficult than I thought, you know? I miss you so much that I have trouble not thinking about you. I have trouble concentrating, and even when I think I'm having fun, I'm really not because you're not there with me. Every single day I worry that you're going to forget about me, and sometimes… god, Blaine, sometimes I find myself regretting going to away, wondering if I should have stayed here in Ohio." He drops his gaze, shaking his head just a bit. "Those thoughts terrify me because I don't want to do something stupid… something I might blame you for later."

Swallowing, Blaine looks away quickly, nodding just a little in response to Kurt's words. This is it, he thinks. Kurt's going to end it now because it's not as easy as we thought it would be. It hurts too much, and Blaine gets that, but he can't help but think it will hurt even worse knowing he and Kurt are no longer together. Blaine loves him too much, needs him too much to just… let him go.

"I… I understand," he lies, refusing to look back at Kurt because he knows he won't be able control his emotions.

"No, you don't." There's a small note of amusement in Kurt's tone, enough to bring Blaine's gaze back to him. Kurt's hands press slightly against his cheeks. "The reason I disappeared for a few days was because I thought, stupidly, that if I could just ignore you from time to time, it'd be easier to be away from you. But it wasn't. It was torture. And the other night, when we got on Skype, I just… I guess I was expecting you to look and act as miserable as I felt. But you weren't. You were your usual cheerful, wonderful self and I thought… " Kurt sighs and shrugs. "I thought maybe you didn't miss me as much as I missed you, and it upset me even more."

Blaine's eyes widen as Kurt explains, and he shakes his head wildly at the end. "I was terrified, Kurt. I thought maybe you decided you didn't want to wait for me anymore or found someone else, and when you logged on, I was just so happy. I wanted to tell you how worried I was, but I didn't want to annoy you, or burden you with my silly fears when you seemed to have so much going on with school."

Kurt half-laughs and leans forward, pressing their foreheads together. "We were much, much better at this when there wasn't six hundred miles between us."

Blaine blinks back the moisture he still feels in his eyes as he gazes up at the ones staring down at him. "If you think we can't do this—"

"No." Kurt kisses him briefly, chaste, and it's enough to cause Blaine to inhale deeply, and just want more as Kurt pulls back just a little. "No. That's not what I'm saying. That's not why I drove out here the moment I could—I would have been here yesterday but I had my first exam. I came as soon as I possibly could because I needed to see you, and I know we both needed this to talk face to face, not on Skype, not over the phone, but here, where we can hold each other and feel each other and I just—god, Blaine, I love you so much and I need you to remember that. We both need to remember that if we're going to do this, okay?"

Blaine clings to him then, just wraps his arms around Kurt's waist and holds on because Kurt has notdriven over eight hours that day to say goodbye forever to him. Quite the contrary, he's there to say that they are going to make it work, and to assure Blaine that he loves him, and that everything is going to be all right. He draws in a shaky breath and presses his face to Kurt's shoulder, and his arms maybe tighten just a bit around Kurt's waist until his boyfriend huffs out a laugh, pushing gently at Blaine's shoulders.

"The last time I had this much trouble breathing, I was wearing a corset."

"Sorry," Blaine murmurs and pulls back a little, not enough to let go but to loosely loop his arms around Kurt's waist. "It's just, I thought—"

"I know."

Kurt's sucking on his bottom lip as he gazes at Blaine, and there's something shining in his eyes, something he wants to say but either hasn't put together the words or the courage to say it yet. So Blaine just waits, and holds him because he's missed this—them just holding one another, looking at one another, sharing the same space, the same air. Blaine's thumbs move in tiny circles against the back of his old sweatshirt, and he kind of loves that Kurt needed that, to wear something of Blaine's just to have him close when they were both aching and uncertain. Blaine does it all the time; he knows he's needy, he knows Kurt is vital to him. It's just sometimes it's nice to be reminded that maybe he's a little bit vital to Kurt, too.

"There's something—" Kurt begins and stops himself, brow furrowing in apparent annoyance. He gives a small shake of his head and brings his gaze back to Blaine's, searching silently for a long moment, and Blaine can't help but wonder what he's looking for.

Honestly, he's a little stunned by the look in Kurt's eyes—it's too intent, too filled with certainty and uncertainty, and a passion Blaine's only glimpsed from him during competitions and Black Fridays. It scares Blaine, to see Kurt look at him like that because he knows that whatever it is Kurt is seeing inside of him, Blaine can't possibly live up to ever.

Kurt shakes his head again and looks away for a moment before bringing his eyes back to Blaine's. Reaching up, he cups Blaine's face between his hands, staying silent for a long moment before saying quietly, "It isn't easy, being there without you. Sometimes I want to reach for your hand as I'm walking down the street, but you're not there to reach for. I'll see a display in a store window and you're the first person I want to talk to about it. Having Rachel there is nice because it means I'm not alone but she's not you and—" Kurt breaks off, closing his eyes.

Taking in a sharp breath, Blaine's hold on Kurt tightens. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I'm sorry I can't be there. I should have taken night courses and tried—"

"No." Kurt interrupts him with a brief, soft kiss. He's smiling again when he opens his eyes. "We talked about that and this isn't your fault. Things are how they are and," Kurt shrugs, "we're strong enough to deal with that. I get sad, and I know you do too, and I think maybe we just need to start focusing on the good things? Talk less about how much we miss each other and more about what we're going to do over Fall break and Thanksgiving and Christmas." Kurt slides his hands down Blaine's arms, curling their fingers together as he pulls Blaine's hands from his waist. "And I fully expect you to give me up-to-the-minute updates on Guys and Dolls. Rachel texted me that you got the part of Sky."

Blaine laughs. "How—"

"Tina texted Mike who's out with Rachel for coffee this afternoon." Kurt rolls his eyes a little. "Even six hundred miles apart, news travels fast among friends. Congratulations, though. I agree with Artie. You're going to make an amazing Sky."

Blaine flushes at Kurt's praise, and his fingers tighten in Kurt's. "Thank you." He glances toward his house, pleased for the moment that it looks empty, and that his boyfriend is here. "How long can you stay?"

"I'll head back Sunday morning. My dad has no idea I'm here." Kurt scrunches his nose up slightly at Blaine's reproachful expression. "What he doesn't know won't hurt him. Besides, he and Rachel are the ones who insisted I take the Navigator with me specifically so I can get back here when necessary. And this, in my opinion, was very necessary."

Blaine cannot argue with that. He doesn't want to imagine what it would have been like to have tried to get through this over the phone or Skype, not when just touching Kurt seems to ground him; when the scent of Kurt's cologne and the flickering colors in his eyes as he smiles causes the vise around Blaine's heart to ease. A conversation hundreds of miles apart would have left Blaine with questions, with far too many fears. Having Kurt there with him said everything to Blaine that words never could have.

"I'm glad you're here, Kurt," Blaine admits, drawing in a still shaky breath. "I just… I'm glad we're okay."

Smiling at his words, Kurt leans his forehead against Blaine's, bringing their hands up between them, and pressing them over Blaine's heart. "I told you before I'd never say goodbye, Blaine, and I meant it."

Deep down, Blaine still wants to ask why Kurt didn't offer him a single indication over the last few days that things would be okay. He doesn't understand how Kurt could have willingly ignored how much that silence was hurting him. He knows that Kurt was hurting too, and he knows that when that happens, Kurt tends to shut down, and close people off. That's what scares Blaine most, because while he may understand Kurt's reasons for reacting to hurt the way he does, he knows the distance between them can only be made worse by shutting one another out.

"Kurt," Blaine says quietly, pausing as Kurt leans back, eyes intent on Blaine as he listens. "Promise me you won't shut me out again? Promise me that… I mean, if this is going to work, we have to talk to each other. No matter how much it hurts."

Kurt's silent for a long moment. His chest rises and falls as he draws in a deep breath and finally nods. "I promise."

Blaine knows it won't be easy. He trusts that Kurt will try because that's all they really can do right now is trust and believe in one another enough to make this work.