Author's Notes: This chapter took a while to get finished because a) it's almost 27K, and b) for some reason I suffered severe writer's block for more than a month. Could barely get my name written! Luckily, this entire fic is outlined, and I'm hoping my writer's block is gone for a while and I can get the next chapter up far, far sooner. Though, it'll likely be just as long. Enjoy!

Chapter Two

Blaine knows something's wrong the moment he hits the ground. There's been a cold snap through the last week of September, and the soil is a little frozen, ridiculously hard, and Blaine feels all of the wind knocked out of him from the truck that is currently pounding him relentlessly into the cold earth beneath him. Okay, so maybe number thirty-six isn't exactly a truck, but Blaine figures getting hit by one would feel the same as this. The boy has to be on steroids; there's no other way to explain his unfathomable proportions.

As if the initial slam to the ground isn't enough, number thirty-six seems determined that Blaine doesn't get up again—and really, Blaine gets it, the visiting team is down by twenty-one points, and the Titans have been running the ball the whole game—he lifts himself up slightly and throws his weight back down against Blaine once again. He says something too, but Blaine can't make out the words because of the sudden pain shooting through his left shoulder, white hot and numbing his entire arm, and oh, he's felt that before, lying in a parking lot after the Sadie Hawkins dance. Admittedly the least severe of his injuries that night, but that doesn't mean it hurt any less.

Knowing his shoulder is most likely dislocated, Blaine just lays there and waits. When he opens his eyes, he can't even focus clearly, and his stomach is roiling with nausea in response to the pain. It feels like minutes when surely its only seconds before Aaron finally appears in his field of vision, hovering over him, eyes narrowed through the mask of his helmet.

"Dude, you okay?"

"No," Blaine tries to murmur but it comes out as more of a whine. He winces slightly when Aaron shouts over him, "Hey, Coach! Anderson's injured!"

Blaine takes deep, slow breaths in through his nose as he lays there, immobile, waiting for Coach Beiste and the local volunteer medical team. Aaron is still hovering beside him, watching him with a frown.

Blaine asks, "Did I get in, at least?" He vaguely remembers cheering as he hit the grass beneath him, but he has somehow refrained from turning his head to see where he is from the white line. For all he knows, the cheering could have come from the opposing team.

"Of course you made it," Aaron responds, as if he's stupid for asking. "I think that guarantees you game ball right there."

"I'll give it to you if you could make my shoulder stop hurting," Blaine gasps as he shifts slightly, just in time for Beiste and the medics to arrive.

"What's going on, kid?" Beiste asks in a motherly and concerned voice that's so opposite of what she usually uses with the team that it takes Blaine a moment to catch what it was she asked.

"My shoulder," Blaine gets out just as they carefully roll him over. He inhales sharply at the movement, the ball rolling away from beneath him caught out of the corner of his eye. "Feels like the last time it was dislocated." He huffs out a loud breath, trying not to throw up.

Taking his right hand in hers, Beiste slides her arm beneath his back and helps him into a sitting position while one of the medics cradles his left arm so as not to jostle it too much. Blaine's vision swims slightly, only somewhat better when he feels someone snap open the chin strap and slip his helmet off.

"Two options for ya, son," the medic holding his arm says. "We can get you to the locker room, get this gear off of you, slip your shoulder back into place, and let your parents get you to the ER for an exam. Or, we can throw you in a sling and send you directly to the ER."

Blaine doesn't want to even begin to imagine the pain of having his shoulder reduced into place without any kind of pain killer on hand. The mere thought makes him even queasier. He's pretty good at gritting his teeth and dealing with pain—after all, he's suffered far worse—but he doesn't relish the idea of breaking down into tears in front of his football coach. Kurt would probably tell him his stupid pride needed to be bitch-slapped.

Kurt would be right for telling him such things.

"I'd prefer the ER," he says, and the medics nod, and Blaine is on his feet before he realizes what is happening, between Beiste supporting him on one side, and a medic on the other.

Blaine allows them to lead him off the field, staring up in wonder at the people in the stands who are on their feet cheering for him. He glances over to the benches where his team is likewise applauding, shouting out to him, the cheerleaders all jumping up and down and whistling. Rose and Brittany are near Artie, all three of them giving him six thumbs up. Blaine's gaze shifts back to the stands where he finds Finn and Burt—Finn's on his phone, looking back at Blaine, nodding slightly. Burt just looks worried. Blaine flashes him a smile, even if it might be somewhat wobbly. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees his father making his way down the steps, frowning.

The pain and nausea are forgotten as Blaine realizes how disappointed he knows his father will be.

Blaine's short-lived football career is over.

The visit to the ER isn't as bad as Blaine knows it could have been. Carole is working her shift that night, and at first he supposes she uses those maternal superpowers she seems to have to find him, but she ends up explaining that Burt called to let her know Blaine was on his way there. He welcomes her company because his dad hasn't said much to him since the medics helped him into his dad's car; there was some comment about number thirty-six being way too big not to be on steroids, and Blaine had appreciated the sentiment behind the comment. Other than that though, his father had stayed at the desk to fill out the paperwork once they'd arrived, and Blaine found himself sitting alone on the bed in the ER until Carole had arrived.

She holds his hand as the attending physician injects Lidocaine into his shoulder to anesthetize some of the pain, and then begins carefully rotating his shoulder outwards. Blaine tries not to tense, but it still hurts, and worse than that Blaine can imagine how much it would hurt without the medication, and he's squeezing Carole's hand tighter than he probably should as the doctor continues moving his arm. He tries to focus on the gentle slide of her thumb over the back of his hand instead of counting down the minutes that the relocation could end up taking.

He really wishes Kurt were there.

"Are you coming over to watch the games this Sunday?" Carole asks, obviously doing her best to distract him. "I was thinking of making nachos."

"Burt would cry," Blaine replies, his voice a little higher than he would have liked as the pain grows more intense. "I think I'd feel too much guilt eating those in front of hi—" He cuts himself off, squeezing his eyes shut at the pain.

Carole's hand tightens over his. "I'll get him baked chips and soy cheese. He won't know the difference."

Blaine almost, but not quite, laughs. "That sounds d-disgusting—Ow!"

"Relax, Blaine," the doctor tells him, still rotating his arm and Blaine really wishes he'd just stop. "We're almost there…"

"Do you and Kurt have big plans for Fall break?" Carole reaches up, plucking at his hair. "You've got some grass stuck, and a little bit of mud." She smiles as she rubs at a spot over his eyebrow.

Lots of sex, he thinks, and then feels his cheeks warm, the pain in his shoulder forgotten as he realizes how bad it could have been to have said that out loud. "No. Nothing specific. It'll be enough just to have him here."

"I understand. The house just isn't the same without him around," Carole says with a sigh, reaching up to rub at Blaine's good shoulder as she glances at the physician. "He tends to be the only one I can ever get a decent conversation out of… especially when the TV is on."

Blaine smiles for just a moment at that, and then his eyes widen as he feels it—a quick spasm before he feels his shoulder slide back into place. His vision actually swims in front of him, and he grips Carole's hand again as the nausea passes, and the pain subsides.

"All better?"

"Yeah." Blaine breathes out, returning Carole's smile as the doctor continues his examination and tells her they need to get some x-rays. His father arrives just in time to be told they're calling in a pain prescription to the pharmacy on file, and that Blaine will need to undergo physical therapy as well. Nothing they haven't been through before.

It's another two hours before Blaine is fitted in a sling, handed his prescription and sent on his way with a caution that it will be a good twelve-fourteen weeks before his shoulder is fully healed. No contact sports, etc, etc, and father and son are silent as they slide into the car and head home. Blaine busies himself by pulling his phone out of his messenger bag and turning it on. Moments later it lights up with message after message, and he smiles as he glances through them.

From: Tina (1/5)
Holy crap! Are you ok?

From: Tina (2/5)
I mean, obviously not but tell me you're ok when you get this… ok?

From: Finn
I called Kurt… JSYK

From: Tina (3/5)
That guy was HUGE. You looked so tiny!

From: Tina (4/5)
I mean not in a bad way. Kinda like David and Goliath.

From: Kurt 333 (1/10)

From: Tina (5/5)
Just message me when you can!

From: Kurt 333 (2/10)
Why aren't you answering your phone?

From: Kurt 333 (3/10)
Oh god! You're at the hospital, aren't you?

From: Kurt 333 (4/10)
Please tell me you're okay…

From: Artie (1/2)
I've got your game ball

From: Kurt 333 (5/10)
I'm sorry but I'm freaking out a little…

From: Artie (2/2)
BTW, we won. Figured you knew but… hope you're ok, dude!

From: Kurt 333 (6/10)
Finn said some guy smashed you.

From: Kurt 333 (7/10)
I swear to god I am going to kill my stepbrother

From: Rose
Got vid. Totally looks like the dudes trying 2 hump u into the ground LOL Hope ur ok, babe! Luv ya!

From: Kurt 333 (8/10)
I'm sorry if you have a lot of voicemails… but I'm going to keep calling until you answer!

From: Kurt 333 (9/10)
I wish I were there right now, dammit

From: Kurt 333 (10/10)
I love you so much. Just be okay, okay?

When Blaine checks his voicemail, it says he's missed fifteen calls. He bites back a smile, fingers gripping his phone tightly as he considers calling Kurt back. He knows he can't though, not with his father sitting right there, so he leaves his phone on silent and slips it back into his bag. They're almost home, and he can call Kurt once he's in his room.

They make a quick stop by the pharmacy where his father goes in to get the prescription for a muscle relaxant and pain killers. Blaine fingers the sling around his arm, thinking briefly about the pep rally performance they were planning for Homecoming. It was a week away, and the physician in the ER had said he wanted to keep Blaine in the sling for ten days. He certainly isn't going to perform in a sling, and finds himself hoping that removing it for just a short while that day won't be horrible. He figures he can just work with Brittany to minimalize the dance routine from too much use of his arms. Mr. Schuester will probably argue with him, but Blaine's fairly certain he can convince his teacher to see reason.

When they get home, Chesa meets them in the hall, and while she directs her questions about his injury to his father, it's Blaine she's fussing over, helping him remove his scarf, coat and gloves before sending him upstairs to rest while she brings him something to take his medication. He reaches the top of the stairs where he pauses for a moment, listening as his parents whisper furiously to one another in the hall.

"...never should have let him play!"

"So we just stop telling him to do the things he wants to do?"

"He only did it to impress you, and you damn well know it!"

Not wishing to hear anymore, Blaine enters his bedroom, shutting his door behind him as he sets his messenger bag on the floor. He slips his phone out of his pocket as he climbs up on to his bed, scrolling through his contacts to Kurt's name and hitting call. He doesn't even get out a greeting before his boyfriend's voice is coming over the other end of the line.

"It's about time you called! Do you have any idea how worried I've been? Ever since Finn called me from the game I've wanted to talk to you! Why didn't you answer? Are you all right? God, Blaine, I should be there right now! One of these days, I'm going to get injured instead of you, and you'll know what I feel like right now."

Blaine laughs softly, carefully leaning back against his pillows stacked against the headboard. "Kurt, calm down. I'm fine. I couldn't call because my phone has been off since before the game. And it's just a dislocated shoulder. It's not like number thirty-six broke my neck or anything."

"This is me not laughing at your attempt to be funny or dismissive or whatever the hell that last comment was about."

"Sorry." Blaine swallows back further laughter at Kurt's overdone concern. "I'm fine, Kurt. Really. Carole was working her shift when I got there, so I received extra special treatment. I even got a lollipop for not crying."

"God, you're such an idiot," Kurt tells him, tone filled with affection. "I do wish I were there, though. You're not supposed to get hurt when I'm not there to look after you."

"I'll keep that in mind the next time a truck tries to pulverize me into sawdust," Blaine says with a smile, shifting on the bed in an attempt to get comfortable. He glances toward his bedroom door as it opens and his mom enters with a glass of milk and the prescriptions from the pharmacy. "Not that there would be much for you to do other than pamper me into oblivion."

Blaine watches as she sets the glass on his nightstand as she works to open the bottle, finally holding the medication out to him. He takes it, tossing it into his mouth and following it up with a few swallows of milk before flashing his mom a smile.

Chesa reaches out and brushes her fingers through his hair. "Is that Kurt? Hi, Kurt."

"My mom says hi."

"Hi, Mrs. Anderson!"

"Kurt says hi back," he tells her, looking back up as she waggles a finger in front of his face.

"Don't stay up too late talking," she warns. "You need your rest after tonight."

"Yes, ma'am." Blaine waits until she's exited the room, closing the door behind her. "What were we talking about… Oh, yeah. You pampering me."

"You like being pampered."

"Only if it involves sponge baths. Yeah." Blaine smiles as he sinks back further into the pillows behind him, sighing at the thought of wet sponges and Kurt's hands. "You could definitely pamper me with those."

Kurt snorts rather rudely. "I think that would lead to activities far too strenuous for your injury, quite honestly."

"I could just… lie there… while you do your thing."

"While I do my—" Kurt sighs loudly. "Remember when you were romantic?"


"Yeah, me neither."

Blaine barks with surprised laughter, falling backward slightly and immediately regretting the movement as pain shoots through him. "Ow! Damn."

"Does it hurt?" Kurt asks quickly, clearly concerned.

Blaine's already hating himself as he begins to respond, "Only," and Kurt joins him, "when I laugh."

They both erupt into giggles, and Blaine whines and winces his way through his mirth, smiling so big at the cherished sound of his Kurt's musical laugh that his face actually hurts. Only Kurt would jump in to help him finish a sentence on something so clichéd.

Sighing, Blaine attempts to shuffle further down on his bed and into his pillows, but doesn't get very far. Honestly, the drugs they gave him for the relocation make him feel as if he's wrapped up in cotton. Giving up, he simply tugs a blanket over his legs. The skin on his neck is already feeling irritated from the rubbing of the sling around it, and Blaine hates feeling confined like this—it reminds him of the weeks and months of casts and slings and bed rest after the attack. He'd take it off if he didn't have to worry about being fully healed in time for Sectionals. Football might be over for the season, but New Directions still needed him.

"I miss you," he says out of nowhere, and immediately knows it's the wrong thing to say. They're not supposed to talk about that—they discussed it at length when Kurt had appeared in his driveway last month after that week of silence. This separation is difficult for both of them, and constantly reminding one another of that didn't make it any easier. Blaine feels guilty for saying it, and follows up with, "I'm sorry. It just came out."

"No, it's… I miss you, too," Kurt replies softly. "And I mean it when I say I wish I could be there right now. I feel bad because I'm the one who kind of pushed you into joining the team in the first place."

Blaine rolls his eyes. "Please. You knew I wanted to do it. Besides, it's been good, you know? It's—it's given me and my dad something to talk about. Well, at least until tonight."

"He didn't say anything, did he?"

Blaine takes a breath and finds himself changing the subject. "Too bad your Fall break isn't a week earlier. You could come see our performance for the Homecoming Pep Rally. Artie, Aaron and I have been working on it. It's going to be fantastic, I think."

"Blaine Anderson, I'm only letting you change the subject because I'm not there to kiss your pain away," Kurt says with a sigh. "And I'm sure it will be amazing. Your performances always are."

"Stop. You're making me blush." It's that or the muscle relaxer, Blaine isn't certain which. He closes his eyes for a moment. "Tell me about your day. I mean, before Finn called."

Blaine loves these moments of their nightly conversations, be it by Skype or phone, when Kurt fills him in on the more mundane aspects of his day, and Blaine can just close his eyes and imagine he's there with him. Kurt is wonderful about never leaving the small details out-he describes what his route to school is like, the people he sees, each and every classmate and instructor description down to the hideous clothing choices they choose to make on a daily basis. He tells him about the ridiculous things they're forced to do in acting class, and Kurt will never get over the day he was forced to spend thirty minutes pretending he was a tree. More than once he's complained that all he wants to do is be on stage and sing heart-wrenching Broadway tunes, and trees don't sing, trees on Broadway certainly don't sing, so why on earth is he being forced to pretend to be one?

As Kurt begins describing to him the experimental vegan dish Rachel chose to prepare for them that night, and how she'd caught one of the potholders on fire ("You know, the ones I bought in July with the latticed pattern in the dusky brown hues that I knew would be perfect for the new kitchen-those ones!"), Blaine covers his mouth when he feels a yawn coming on.

"You're falling asleep on me, aren't you?"

"Mmmm, only a little," Blaine admits, blinking his eyes rapidly a few times to keep them open. It doesn't work, and this time he yawns loudly instead. "Sorry. It's the meds."

"Oh, yes. I remember very well how you are on medication," Kurt laughs. "Ridiculously adorable." He pauses and Blaine lets his eyes shut for just a few seconds as he listens to Kurt breathe into the phone. "Is there anything else I can do to make you feel better, even though I'm not there to fluff your pillows and pet your hair?"

Blaine thinks. "Sing to me?"

There's a long silence, and Blaine figures Kurt is debating what song would be perfect for the occasion of your boyfriend getting pulverized by a mack truck. Blaine doesn't think it matters what Kurt chooses; he could sing the alphabet, and it would still be beautiful because no one's voice is quite like Kurt's. Only Kurt can reduce him to tears when he performs.

Except the song Kurt chooses to sing is what Blaine can only label as highly inappropriate. "Every night in my dreams, I see you, I feel you—"


Kurt pauses. "Yes?" His tone indicates that he's not entirely pleased with being interrupted.

"Don't you think that's a little inappropriate?"

"It's Celine. There's no such thing as an inappropriate Celine Dion song."

"There is when she's singing about her dead first love." Blaine makes a face, turning his head slightly to stare up at the ceiling.

"I think it fits," Kurt tells him. "Near, far, wherever you are—"

Blaine can't help it; he laughs, feet tucking beneath the covers only half-successfully. "You'd totally let go, wouldn't you?"

"Well, of course. I wouldn't want some frozen dead guy clinging to me for hours. Seriously, find your own damn piece of wreckage."

Blaine turns his face into the pillow beneath him, he's laughing so hard, and tears are stinging the corners of his eyes, and he listens happily to Kurt's resounding laughter on the other end of the line. They can do this because he's honestly lost count of the amount of times they've clung to one another, sobbing through the end of iTitanic/i as Leo's gorgeous face disappeared into the cold, dark water. One day when the Hummel household had been empty, they'd removed the door from Kurt's bedroom and laid on it, just to test their theories that the wreckage Rose laid unfrozen on was bigger than a door, and they could easily share a door. They had both fit just fine, with room to spare, especially when they snuggled close for body heat. Unfortunately, they'd fallen asleep like that, and then had the delightful opportunity to explain to Burt and Carole just why they'd felt the need to remove Kurt's bedroom door.

Burt still occasionally asks him if he's there to remove more doors when he stops by to visit.

"You know I would have given you the door," Kurt says once their laughter has died down.

Blaine smiles, eyes closed as he breathes, "And you know I wouldn't have taken it."

"And then we both would have died."

"Because we're smart like that."

Kurt giggles. "I love you."

"I love you, too, but I'm still waiting for my song."

"Okay. Close your eyes. Are you comfortable? Let's see…"

Kurt hums softly for a couple of seconds before he starts to sing and Blaine smiles, remembering a moment when his world had become brighter and warmer, when everything had suddenly made sense. He drifts off to sleep, the sound of his boyfriend singing about a blackbird keeping him company in his dreams.

"Mr. Schue seems to be in a good mood," Tina whispers beside Blaine before reaching over to tug on the corner of his blue polka dot bowtie, straightening it slightly. Blue for Monday because, well… it's Monday, and the colors don't clash with the sling around his shoulder.

Blaine nods, watching their director hums softly to himself as he writes across the whiteboard. There's the date of Sectionals, the date for Regionals, Nationals—which is taking place back in New York City this year, and Blaine can't wait because Kurt, Rachel and Mike have all promised to attend—and then two foreboding numbers at the bottom: eight, the number of members currently in New Directions, and twelve, the number they need in order to qualify for competition.

Mr. Schuester spins around from the board and smiles at them. "As you can see, we currently remain four members away from the total number needed for competition. While we know we have the support of our wonderful band," he waves toward the band members, all of whom appear to force smiles in return, "if we want to make it back to Nationals this year, we're going to need a dozen powerhouse voices on that stage at Regionals to bring down the house."

"I still say a performance during the Homecoming Pep Rally is our best option for drawing in some new voices this year, Mr. Schuester," Blaine offers.

"And we need to start preparing for that, Blaine," Mr. Schuester agrees, pointing his dry erase marker toward Blaine for emphasis. "But, for now, I am pleased to announce that this number," he points toward the eight and crosses it out, "has now become this number!" He quickly scrawls a number nine. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our newest member to New Directions, Ms. Harmony Mason."

Harmony sweeps into a room with a smile with a smile wider and brighter than a model for a toothpaste commercial. Her entrance is impressively dramatic, arms out swept as if she's ready to burst into "The Hills are Alive", and honestly, Blaine wouldn't be entirely surprised if she did. Beside him, Tina sucks in a sharp breath, and her hand lands on his thigh, nails gripping hard.

"That isn't—"

"Yes, yes it is."

She groans. "Well, there goes any chance I had for solos this year."

Blaine pats her hand, sympathizing, knowing Mr. Schuester far too well to offer up any platitudes that might not come true. On the one hand, they should all be happy—having Harmony's talent added to the mix will certainly give them an edge over the competition. On the other hand, none of them are clueless enough not to miss the assessing look in Harmony's eyes as her gaze sweeps over them, clearly judging and quickly dismissing each out of hand as lacking in the kind of talent she possesses. Her eyes linger on Blaine for just a moment, and he stares back at her, torn between wanting to be polite and welcome her to the club, and wanting to make damn certain Tina doesn't lose her chance to shine this year.

"Hello everyone!" Harmony greets them, tone confident and words somewhat rushed, as if she has more to say than she could possibly fit into a lifetime. "I am so happy to be a part of your delightful show choir! As you all should remember, we competed in Sectionals last year, and while you did beat us, I am certain none of you could have possibly discounted my obvious talent—"

"So what are you doing here?" Artie asks from the front row. "I thought you'd be preparing to win first place this year, seeing as how you're so talented and all."

Harmony's smile falters for only a moment before it brightens once more as she focuses her attention on Artie. "While I had every intention of leading the Unitards on to victory this year, our director was, sadly, in a devastating accident two weeks ago, and won't be returning for the year. Instead of taking the chance of having a PE instructor put in charge of the club, I requested a transfer to a winning choir." Her gaze sweeps over them again as she continues to smile. She holds her arms out once more. "I look forward to our victory at Nationals!"

There's a smattering of applause from Mr. Schuester, Rory, Aaron, Brittany and Sugar. Harmony curtsey's before them as Tina leans close to Blaine's ear. "I think she may be worse than Rachel at her most obnoxious."

"I think you may be right," Blaine replies, smiling-because it would be rude not to-as Harmony pushes her way through the chairs to the row in front of him.

She reaches out a hand. "Hi, I'm Harmony. You're the one who sang "Come What May" with Kurt during Nationals. I watched it on YouTube. Brilliant performance. I imagine we'll sound amazing together."

"Blaine Anderson," he says, shaking her hand as Tina sighs beside him. "And thank you." He's not quite certain what he should say to her comment about them sounding "amazing" together, so he lets it go.

"I hear both Kurt and Rachel made it into NYADA," she continues, sitting down and twisting in the chair to face him. "Two students from the same school in the same year making it into NYADA is practically unheard of." Harmony pauses, glancing around at the members of New Directions once more before smiling back up at him. "I'm sure you'll be on your way this year, hmmm? And me next year, of course."

"Of course," Blaine murmurs with a smile as Tina elbows him in the side. "Oh, uh, Harmony this is Tina. Tina, Harmony."

"Pleasure," Harmony says, smiling as she shakes Tina's hand.

"Okay, Blaine," Mr. Schuester calls out. "You want to walk us through the pep rally number?"


Grinning as Tina, Sugar and Rose give him a little round of applause, Blaine takes position at the front of the room and begins to explain the masterful idea he and Artie had come up with the other day while running lines for iGuys and Dolls/i. He knows that performances in front of the student body at McKinley haven't always worked out—either they were less than interested, retaliated in apparent annoyance or some other factor reared its ugly head to ruin the show, i.e. fire alarms. Luckily-and this is a consensus they'd all come to during the first few weeks of school-attitudes seem slightly different this year. The glee club members have actually received a few congratulations from classmates. The Nationals trophy is proudly displayed in the glass case near the front entrance, and there hasn't been a single slushy incident. While that doesn't mean potential members are knocking down their door to join up, it at least means they have a little more effectiveness when it comes to recruitment attempts.

Everyone seems excited about the song choice, except for Harmony, but Rose ends up telling her with far less polite words than Blaine would have used that she should just sit back and let the pros handle it. Once they begin working on choreography with Brittany leading them through a routine that thankfully requires minimal shoulder moves from Blaine, he tries to include Harmony in as much of it as possible, but she ends up making a comment that perhaps she should just let the "pros perform this number". Blaine can't help but feel that their newest glee club member is going to be less than a team player.

From: Artie (1/)
I got trapped in the hall by Harmony. She gave me a 10 min speech as to why she should be allowed to audition for G&D.

To: Artie
What did you tell her?

From: Artie (1/2)
It wouldn't be fair and she could try out next year.

From: Artie (2/2)
Thank Joss Whedon I won't be here…

Like with any high school, Homecoming at McKinley is an important event, not only to the student but to the surrounding community as well. There's the pep rally Friday morning that New Directions is preparing to perform during, followed by the parade that afternoon, and the game Friday evening, which includes the coronation of the Homecoming King and Queen. The dance will be held on Saturday evening, and Tina keeps dropping less than subtle hints that they should attend. Blaine knows he'll eventually give in and say yes because he'd be the worst kind of friend if he refused. After all, it's an opportunity for fashion, and Blaine's fairly positive that if he doesn't say yes soon, Tina will drop a hint on Tumblr that Kurt will see, and then Blaine will never hear the end of it.

The classes have already begun choosing their themes, and designing and building their floats. The overall theme involved some long explanation from Figgins about partnering with the library, and Blaine had been excited when he'd first heard of it-excited right up until the point when the classes made their individual choices. When announced, he'd honestly been embarrassed to be a senior because, in someone's infinite wisdom (and he just discovered this morning that someone had been Sugar), Twilight had been chosen. Blaine had almost cried when he found out the sophomores when with the Hunger Games-Rose said it had been her suggestion, and her love of the books had garnered her extra brownies points from Blaine. The juniors grabbed Harry Potter, and the freshmen went with Eragon.

Blaine is not entirely certain he will ever find it in his heart to forgive Sugar. He'd texted Kurt, of course, because he knew his boyfriend would appreciate the irony of the situation. Kurt had quickly responded that it was almost enough to make him wish he was still at McKinley, if only to see Blaine's face. Of course, he'd followed that up with a comment as to what a horrible choice it actually was, since they were basing the floats off of the books and not the movies. Blaine had simply responded that even if they had based them off the movies, Taylor Lautner did not attend McKinley High.

The last week involved nominations for the Homecoming court. Blaine's interest in filling out the nomination form last week only extended so far in that he thought Aaron and Brittany would make an excellent King and Queen.

"I'm still upset that I won't be playing in the game," Blaine laments as he flicks a paper football through the goal posts Aaron has created with his fingers. Punching a fist of celebration in the air as it neatly sails between them, Blaine sighs and leans his chin on his hand.

"Don't sweat it, dude," Aaron replies, grabbing the makeshift football from where it landed on his seat. "You've done more than your share for the team this season. Coach says we wouldn't have the standing that we do if not for your mad skills on the ground. Score!" He quietly exclaims as the football pings Blaine on the tip of his nose. "Sorry."

Blaine laughs and shakes his head a little, glancing toward the front of the classroom before bending to grab the paper from the floor. They have a substitute in Physics that day, and while Blaine had initially attempted to keep up with the lesson plan, he'd finally given up right around the time Mr. Allen had realized only three of the twenty-five students in class were paying attention. Now Mr. Allen is sitting up front, discussing Marvel with three of the students. Blaine can remember when he used to miss the rigidity of Dalton last year; now he finds himself appreciating the ease his senior year appears to be affording him.

"Still, I'd like to be there to give the Indians a lesson in how to play a fair game." Blaine reaches over his shoulder to scratch at his neck where the material from the sling is irritating his skin. "I still can't believe those calls from the refs. Could they have been any more blatant in their bias?"

Aaron snorts.


"'Blatant in their bias'," the quarterback repeats in what Blaine figures is supposed to be a rather poor imitation of him. "I wonder what century you're from, man."

Blaine aims the football, flicking it a bit harder than necessary into the middle of Aaron's forehead. "You were saying?"

"An awesome aim doesn't change the fact that you're the weirdest teenager I've ever met."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

Aaron shrugs. "Didn't mean it as insult, so why the hell not?"

Blaine catches the football before it flies past his shoulder when Aaron overshoots his mark. "You know, we should probably be running lines, or something. You had some issues with the diner conversation during rehearsal yesterday."

"Well, who the hell talks like that?" Aaron mutters, reaching in to grab the iGuys and Dolls/i script from his backpack and waving it in Blaine's face. "I mean, besides you."

"Oh, ha."

"Attention students," Figgins voice crackles over the loud speaker, and some of the conversations die down in the classroom, but not all. Blaine tries to pay attention but Aaron flicks the football into his cheek. "We have the nominees for this year's Homecoming." A few more conversations dissipate, and even Aaron suddenly appears interested. Blaine feels his phone vibrate in his pocket and slips it out to see a message from Tina:

From: Tina
Our last high school Homecoming! The LAST one, B.

Blaine shakes his head, smiling a little as Figgins begins running through the list of nominees for the freshman class, none of whom Blaine recognizes the names. He's hoping to get to know a few after the pep rally, if only one or two would show interest in glee club. When Figgins begins naming the sophomore nominees, both Blaine and Aaron are pleased to hear Rose's name included.

"That girl's gonna be wearing tiaras the rest of her time at McKinley," Aaron whispers, and Blaine nods in agreement. Even though she has the tendency not to censor the things she says to people, Blaine has yet to meet anyone who genuinely doesn't like the girl. Her red hair and hyper active personality cause her to stand out as well. She's pretty too, which Blaine figures assists in the ladder of high school hierarchy.

When Figgins finally begins announcing the senior nominations, the classroom around him grows quiet. Everyone in the Physics class is a senior, and these are the only names that really matter. Blaine smiles when he hear Brittany's name listed among a couple of other cheerleaders, a girl named Alice who's on the debate team, and Lucie Walters, who's not only their star swimmer but is also known for speaking four languages fluently. She also makes a mean cupcake-Blaine had accepted one from her last spring, and had complimented her so much that a school week hasn't gone by since where she hasn't shown up with one or two, in a variety of flavors, to offer him. His friends' tease him that she has a crush but Blaine's fairly certain that is not the case. She just appreciates that he enjoys her baking skills, and without Kurt around, there's no one else to make him cupcakes anyway.

Blaine is not the least bit surprised when Aaron is announced as a nominee for Homecoming King. He turns to offer his classmate a polite golf clap, and receives the salute of Aaron's middle finger in return. Grinning, Blaine reaches out for the paper football, ready to flick it back in Aaron's direction when he hears:

"-and Blaine Anderson. And that concludes this year's nominees for the Homecoming Court. Congratulations, students. And good luck."

Blaine blinks, opening his mouth to ask Aaron what it was he'd just heard, but he receives confirmation by the way Aaron is grinning at him, and poking him in the arm. Wide-eyed, Blaine turns to look around the classroom, and most of the students are staring-some are smiling, giving him a thumbs up, a couple of the girls are saying "Congratulations!", but there are others, too. The ones openly frowning, turning to whisper to friends as they roll their eyes. Blaine feels something he hasn't felt in a very long time-the overwhelming need to just curl in on himself and disappear.

Swinging his head back around to Aaron, Blaine whispers, "I don't understand. How did this even happen?"

Aaron's watching him, as if just beginning to realize Blaine doesn't seem to want this. "The team, glee... we all thought if anyone deserves it, it's you. You've got a whole lot of school spirit for someone who transferred in, and I don't know, between football and glee, you've done a lot for the school." Aaron frowns. "I'm sorry. We just thought-"

"No, it's okay." Blaine waves his apologies away. He's focusing on the bad, when it's obvious there are just as many people who are fine with the nomination. And maybe, everything will be all right.

Still, he'd feel better if Kurt were there.

"Thanks, by the way," he remembers to add, just before the bell rings. He smiles at Aaron. "It's really... thoughtful."

To: Kurt 333
... I've been nominated for Homecoming King...

From: Kurt 333 (1/2)

From: Kurt 333 (2/2)

To: Kurt 333
Oh shut up.

From: Kurt 3333
But no, I'm proud of you. Really. 3

To: Kurt 333
I'm scared.

From: Kurt 333 (1/2)
Don't be, bb. Things are better, you know that. You'll be fine.

From: Kurt 333 (2/2)
Call me after school, k? I love you!

To: Kurt 333
Ok. Love you, too.

"Are you sure about this?"

Blaine glances up at Mr. Schuester, who is hesitating at assisting him in removing the sling. His teacher is regarding him with one of those overly concerned expressions, like he's ready to pull Blaine from the performance completely, and that's not happening because it's been far too long since Blaine's performed in front of an audience. Sure, there was the summer show at Six Flags, but that ended more than a month ago, and this song is perfect, and a healing shoulder certainly is not going to be the thing that keeps Blaine from going out there.

"I'm fine, Mr. Schue," Blaine says, removing the sling without his help as Schuester stands there, still looking as if he's going to say something. "The sling comes off Monday, anyway. I've been in it for a week already. And I'm just taking it off for this because I'd look silly wearing it." He looks up at his teacher, eyes beseeching. "I'll put it back on right after. I promise. Besides, the choreography Brittany came up with doesn't require me to move it much at all. It's mostly footwork. Lots of spins. I've been doing more in rehearsals for the show this week."

Mr. Schuester sighs, reaching up to assist Blaine at the last minute, and pulling the sling away, still watching him like he might break or something. "All right. I'm trusting you on this, Blaine. But just remember, we need you for Sectionals. I know you won't be one hundred percent by then, but I'd rather you not participate today so we can count on you next month."

"Rock salt in my eye couldn't prevent me from participating in Sectionals, Mr. Schue."

Blaine glances up with a smile to see Mr. Schuester giving him another one of those looks that clearly says his quip was not in the least bit funny, and now his teacher is all worried again. Kurt has warned Blaine time and again that his sense of humor sometimes needed a little work. This is apparently one of those times.

Luckily, Tina appears at his side, interrupting whatever Mr. Schuester might have said as she bounces slightly in the Titan's jersey Blaine knew belonged to Mike. They're all dressed with McKinley pride for the performance; Blaine, Aaron and Artie in their Letterman jackets, Brittany and Rose in their Cheerios uniforms, the rest in McKinley colors. They'd debated for a long time on exactly what they should wear. They'd even had Sugar present some design ideas for costumes. In the end, though, Aaron suggested that maybe since it's Homecoming, they should just stick to demonstrating some Titan's pride; it would assist with emphasizing the fact that even though most of the athletes at the school had very little interest in the glee club, the opposite could be said for the members of New Directions.

"Ready?" Tina asks as Artie rolls over, and they hear Figgins making the announcement of their performance through the gym speaker system.

"Let's do this!" Aaron slaps Blaine on the shoulder a little harder than necessary as he jogs past him and Mr. Schuester lets out a sigh of resignation as Blaine follows the others to the stage.

There's a smattering of applause as the lights come up and the music kicks in. Blaine can't hide his grin as he begins moving to the beat with the others because there are only two things in the world that make him truly happy-performing and Kurt. Artie takes center stage to begin singing:

"So we back in the club, with our bodies rockin' from side to side, si-side to side. Thank God the week is done, I feel like a zombie gone back to life, ba-back to life."

Blaine glances over at Tina, dancing between Brittany and Rose, and she flashes him a big smile before he returns his attention to their audience, attempting to gauge their reactions. He can see movement from some; after all, it is Usher, and the only reason to not be dancing is because you have something against it.

Just as Artie is about to finish the first verse, Blaine twirls to center stage and takes up the chorus. "Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again! Yeah, baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again." Artie and the others back up him as he continues, focusing on hip and foot movement across the stage, "So dance, dance, like it's the last, last night of your life, life. Go on, get you right. Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again!"

Blaine moves back in line with the others, and they continue their way through the song similarly-Artie taking the verses, Blaine through the chorus. When he glances out to the bleachers, Blaine can see more students getting to their feet, dancing, singing along. Tina nudges him at one part in the song, giving him a wink. So far, so good. No fire alarms. The next time Blaine steps out for the chorus, there are a few cat calls and whistles from girls, causing Blaine to blush and grin all at the same time, and maybe he plays a little on that because performing is performing, no matter who it is you're performing for.

When they reach the rap section, Aaron steps up to take over while the rest dance in sync behind him, and there are actual cheers now, from the football team, from the cheerleaders. Aaron's really well-liked for having just moved to Lima from California. It works that he's comfortable in the spotlight, that he's talented, that he loves to sing as much as he loves playing football. The only bad part is that like Blaine, Aaron's a senior, and New Directions will be scrambling to replace him next year as well.

"Bada bing bada boom, Mr. Worldwide as I step in the room. I'm a hustler baby, but that you knew, and tonight it's just me and you!"

As Blaine twirls up for the last chorus, Artie and Aaron join him on it, their voices harmonizing well together, and Blaine finds himself slightly disappointed that they chose not to save this song for Sectionals. It would have been a spectacular performance in full costumes.

When they finish and take their bows, the gymnasium is thunderous with applause. Blaine glances down the line at his fellow glee club members to see them all beaming with pride as they take their bows, even Harmony, who simply appears pleased to be performing. She'd still been against the song, but at the eleventh hour had changed her mind about participating, in a last-minute decision that would have made Rachel plaid with envy at the drama of it.

"Fantastic performance, you guys!" Mr. Schuester calls out as they head behind the curtain. He immediately waves Blaine over to return the sling to his arm. "They loved it! And, we made it through without any unfortunate emergencies. I call that a win, even if we don't get any new members."

"The point was new members, though," Blaine says, glancing back toward the curtain as he hears Coach Bieste's voice echoing across the gym, talking about tonight's game, and crushing their opponents and Blaine sighs in disappointment. He hadn't realized how much he enjoyed playing until now, when he can no longer do so.

"I'm not too worried." Mr. Schuester gives Blaine's good shoulder a light squeeze. "This glee club's come a long way, and I have no doubt we'll be bringing home another Nationals trophy this year. By the way, congratulations on the Homecoming nomination. I bet Kurt wishes he were here to see it!"

Blaine rolls his eyes. "He hasn't stopped giving me crap about it since I told him. He finds it ridiculously hilarious that I'm going to be stuck on a float today, surrounded by a Twilighttheme-which I hate, by the way."

Schuester laughs. "Well, I think it's great, Blaine. I think McKinley has come a long way."

Unwilling to argue with a faculty member when it comes to the merits of just 'how far' the school has come in relation to its treatment of out gay kids-population one-Blaine just forces a smile and slips away to join Tina and Sugar as they make their way out to the bleachers to sit down and watch the rest of the pep rally.

From: Rachel (1/2)
Kurt just showed me your pep rally performance. Looking good, Blaine! Miss singing with you! ~ RB

From: Rachel (2/2)

From: Kurt 333

To: Kurt 333 & Rachel
Oh, by the way, guys. Harmony transferred to McKinley and joined ND... Miss you!

Coach Beiste gave Blaine the option of not attending the games, but Blaine is still a member of the Titans, whether or not he can play, so he chooses rather to support his team as opposed to sitting at home, moping over the fact that he can't play anymore. Besides, it's a perfect excuse to get away from the house without constantly calling Tina to do something with him.

With his sling still in place, she tells him not to bother putting on his uniform either, so Blaine is still in the grey suit jacket and slacks he'd worn earlier in the parade. What a horror that had been. There'd been plenty of jeers and laughter at the senior float, and Sugar couldn't understand why the sophomore float had won when she thought she'd made such a sexy vampire. Brittany had enjoyed the sparkles, and made the decision to wear plenty of sparkles on her skin for the dance tomorrow night.

Blaine had never been so happy for a parade to end in his life, and he has spent his life loving parades.

"Hey there, bud!"

Blaine glances up at the familiar voice, flashing a smile as Burt Hummel, Finn following behind him, makes his way down the bleacher steps to where Blaine is leaning against the railing. He steps up to accept the hug Burt always gives him, noting how careful the man is not to put too much pressure on his left shoulder.

"How are you, Mr. Hummel?"

Burt gives him the same eye roll he has for the last year, when he had finally given up on trying to convince Blaine to address him simply as Burt. "Doin' good." He digs into his pocket, pulling out his wallet and handing some money over his shoulder to Finn. "Why don't you grab us some hot dogs? Maybe an order of nachos, too."

"All right!" Finn grabs the money, peering over Burt's shoulder a moment. "Hey, Blaine! S'up?"

"Hi, Finn," Blaine greets just before Finn spins around and hurries back up the steps. Raising an eyebrow at Burt, Blaine says, "Hot dogs and nachos, Mr. Hummel?"

"And you won't be saying a thing to my son about it," Burt replies, poking Blaine once in his good shoulder. "I still own a shot gun, you know."

Blaine just grins and shakes his head a little. "I promised Kurt I'd keep an eye on your eating habits, Mr. Hummel, and I'm pretty certain the hot dogs and nachos served around here are not in the least bit healthy."

"You eat 'em."

"Yes, and your son gives me crap about it every single time." Blaine glances toward the field, watching the Titans warm up. He turns his phone over in his pocket, considering whether or not he should text Kurt to alert him to his dad's dinner choices for the evening, and then decides to give Burt this one night to have a little fun.

"Your old man here?" Burt asks, looking up through the stands.

Blaine follows his gaze. "No. He, uh, he had work things he had to take care of tonight." Blaine doesn't meet Burt's gaze when it shifts back to him. He's grown used to the sympathy he usually finds reflected in Burt's eyes, but he really doesn't want to focus on that tonight.

"How's your shoulder?"

Blaine brings his gaze back to Burt before looking down at his sling. "It's definitely better. I get to take the sling off on Monday, and then it's just physical therapy appointments for forever."

Burt laughs and reaches out to give his right shoulder a squeeze. "It only feels like forever. It'll be over before you know it. You comin' over for the games on Sunday? We missed you last weekend. Carole made... soy nachos."

Blaine tries, unsuccessfully, to stifle his giggles. "Absolutely. Kurt sent me a recipe for a veggie dip that actually sounds like it may have some flavor to it, so I might bring that with me."

It may seem odd to others, but even with Kurt off in New York, Burt, Finn and Carole have insisted on Blaine stopping by to visit. He's spent most of his Sundays watching football with them, and Burt has mentioned a few times that once the Titan's season is over, Blaine should start attending family dinners with them again on Fridays. Blaine can't decide if this is something Kurt has put his family up to, or if they really do want to spend time with him on their own. He hasn't bothered asking.

"Well, I don't know about the veggie dip," Burt says, brow furrowing slightly at the very thought of healthy football food. "But Carole's gonna make lasagna for us. She has to work."

"Veggie lasagna?" Blaine can't help but ask with a smile.

Burt just waggles a finger at him.

The first half of the game doesn't go very well for the Titans. Blaine sits on the bench, wincing each time one of his teammates is tackled or Aaron gets sacked. Manuel wheels Artie in for a touchdown at one point, but that's the only score they put up on the board. The Indians score two touchdowns and a field goal by halftime. Blaine shifts to glance over his shoulder at the stands where the Titan's fans are sitting, mostly showing disinterest in the game by this point; phones are out, texts and tweets being sent. Blaine catches Burt's gaze and they shrug at one another; beside Burt, Finn has his ear buds in, watching something on his phone.

The announcement of the Homecoming court is just as exciting as Blaine expects it to be, which is to say, not at all. He stands on the field between the other nominees for king; Aaron sweating and slightly out of breath in his uniform on Blaine's left side, Jon, the hockey team's star player and also hand's down one of the biggest jerks at McKinley in Blaine's opinion, and Adam on the end, the senior class clown, who even now is wearing a pair of Stewie Griffin boxers over his jeans and making lewd gestures at the crowd. Blaine can't help but wonder how he got lumped into this group.

Aaron wins, of course, and Blaine can't help but feel momentary relief over that fact as Figgins moves on to announce the Homecoming Queen. His words are lost though, as Jon mutters, "As if McKinley would have had a fag for a king anyway," and Blaine chooses to ignore him, but Aaron reaches behind Blaine to shove Jon hard into Adam. They both fall to the ground, and then Jon is on his feet, shouting at Aaron, charging at him, and Blaine tries to break up the fight with one arm before Beiste and half the football team get involved.

Blaine wishes the turn of events surprised him as he looks toward the stands to see Burt on his feet, looking out at him with concern. He just shakes his head, turning his gaze back to the fray where Figgins is escorting Jon and Adam off the field, and Beiste is yelling in Aaron's face even as he's yelling back and waving his arms toward Blaine. As all eyes shift toward him, Blaine sighs, and Beiste stops yelling and tells the team to get ready for second half.

"That was monumentally stupid of you," Blaine murmurs to Aaron as he walks beside him toward the bench.

"You're my boy. I'm not going to let some dickhead get away with saying shit like that."

Blaine draws in a breath and steps in front of Aaron, stopping him. "A, I don't need you looking after me. If I'd felt that comment needed a response, I would have given it. And B, all you did was create a scene and alert the entire team to the problem, when if you'd just let it go, it would have been said and done with and ignored."

"Well, maybe that's something that shouldn't be ignored, Anderson," Aaron replies, shoving past him. He turns back around, and adds, "And maybe that's the problem with you glee kids. You rant and rave behind closed doors about being treated fairly, but never have the balls to stand up for yourselves. You're not going to sing and dance your way to equality, you know. The world doesn't fucking work like that."

Blaine opens his mouth as Aaron stalks away from him, but realizes he has nothing to say in response.

"Well, that was a waste of two hours," Tina mumbles, twirling her coffee cup between her hands. "I'm pretty certain that was the worst dance in McKinley history."

Blaine nudges her with his elbow. "You look fantastic, though."

His friend lifts her head, beams at him, a few tendrils loose from the bun fixed on top of her head escaping around her face.

"What about me?"

Blaine turns to Brittany, seated beside him, looking gorgeous in hot pink and black. "I had the two most beautiful dates there," he tells her, slipping his arm over her shoulders, and then behind Tina's, hugging them both close. "And, I got to escort the Homecoming Queen, so that's awesome in and of itself."

Brittany gives him a smile. "I wish you could have been my Homecoming King, Blaine."

"Hey! Since when do I not count?" Aaron asks from the other side of the table where he's squished between Rory and Rose on one side, and Sugar on the other. Why the four of them insisted on trying to fit into the booth is beyond Blaine's understanding. "I think I make a pretty good Homecoming King."

"I completely agree." Blaine nods as he squeezes Brittany's shoulders affectionately. "Besides, the crown would have messed up my hair."

"God knows we can't have that happening," Rose says with a roll of her eyes.

"I'm surprised Harmony didn't attend." Artie moves his chair up to the end of the table, setting his coffee down before holding out the cinnamon for Blaine, and a plate with two cookies on it for Sugar. She squeals and leans over to press a quick kiss to his cheek.

Blaine murmurs his thanks, sprinkling some cinnamon over his coffee, and stirring it in as Rory says, "I tried asking her. Thought it would be the nice thing to do, since she's the new girl and all. I didn't entirely understand her response, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't complementary."

"Have you heard her set list idea for Sectionals?" Artie asks, reaching out to snap off a piece of Sugar's peanut butter cookie. "She was pitching it to Schue yesterday. All Broadway tunes. All with her in lead. Schue seemed to try to let her down easy, but you know that gleam he gets in his eyes when a talented performer starts crying crocodile tears."

"I'm not denying that she has a gorgeous voice," Tina says. "But I'd just kind of found myself hoping that this year might be different? I had so much fun at Sectionals last year. I'd never really considered myself as the lead on anything, but I loved the chance to do it."

"I think as long Harmony has a say, we'd all best get used to being backup singers," Rose adds, before glancing across the table. "Well, except for Blaine. Harmony seems sweet on you."

"Guys, don't give up hope yet, okay?" Blaine holds his hands out in an attempt to calm the others. "I really think Schue understands the value of the team, and yes, Harmony is a stunning singer but I think as long as we all continue to remind him that everyone here is just as good as she is, then we'll all have our chance. I think we just need to figure out how to deal with her, too."

"What do you mean?" Aaron asks, stealing Sugar's second cookie and ignoring her protest.

"I mean, maybe doing nothing but Broadway tunes for Sectionals isn't such a bad idea?" Blaine suggests, gauging the reactions of the others as he looks around the table. "There are plenty of group numbers we could incorporate. We could include Harmony in a duet, so she at least feels she has the spotlight for some of the competition, and divide up the rest as equally as possible."

"As much as I'm completely against a set list of show tunes," Rose says with a sigh. "I have to admit, it's a good idea."

Blaine smiles as the others around the table all nod in agreement, his mind already filling with ideas for songs they could possibly do. Of course, he'd ask Rachel and Kurt for their opinions as well, knowing they'd have invaluable input, and just as if Kurt knows he's thinking about him, Come What Maybegins playing from Blaine's phone. He pulls his arm from Brittany's shoulder, sliding his hand into his suit jacket pocket, smiling instantly when he sees Kurt's picture on the screen before holding it up to his ear.

"Hey, babe."

"So how was the dance? Did you enjoy looking like a stud with a girl on each arm?"

Blaine giggles, about to respond when Tina leans over him to say into the phone, "Hey, Kurt. Brittany and I have decided we're not letting you have Blaine back-he's far too good of a dancer, and he opens doors for us. Like, everywhere. So, you know, your loss. By the way, I miss your face!"

Kurt's laughing as Tina pulls away, and Blaine rolls his eyes at her. "They do realize they don't have the necessary equipment it takes to make you happy, right?"

"Well, Tina does," Blaine says quietly, ignoring his friend as she begins poking him in the ribs, asking him "I do, what?". He taps Brittany on the shoulder, waving her out of the booth so he can slide out and attempt to get some privacy. "I'll be back, guys," he whispers, ignoring their whistles and innuendos as he pushes his way through the Lima Bean door outside to the parking lot.

"Alone at last," he tells Kurt, making his way over to his car to lean against the hood. "I really missed you tonight."

"I'm going to tell myself it's because you missed my company and not just because you needed someone to snark with over tacky Macy's juniors section Homecoming dresses."

Blaine laughs, and kicks at the asphalt with his wingtips. "Well, maybe some of both."

"Band or DJ?"


Kurt's silent for a few seconds on the other end of the line before prompting, "And... ? Don't even try to convince me you didn't take over the mic at some point."

"God, you know me so well," Blaine says with another laugh, face flushing. "Okay, so I might have sang one or two songs. But, the guys all joined me on Party Rock Anthem, and Tina practically begged me to sing Ready to Go. I only gave in because she and Rose started comparing me and Brendon Urie, and then they started talking about him and me-well, I didn't want to hear the rest of the conversation. It's bad enough Rose has a fascination with my ass."

"This Rose and I are going to have to have a talk, I think." Kurt says, clucking his tongue for emphasis.

"She's sweet. Just... she has no filter. Like, at all." Blaine lifts his head as he hears the door to the coffee shop open, a couple walking out, arms linked as they're laughing together, making their way through the parking lot.

"Otherwise, things were okay?"

Blaine knows what he's asking, and smiles at the worry in Kurt's voice that he is unsuccessfully attempting to hide. "Yeah. I felt a little smothered, actually. Between Tina and Brittany clinging to me most of the couple of hours we were there-other than Brittany disappearing to dance with random students. And the rest of the glee club, hovering." Blaine chews on the inside of his cheek for a moment. "Kurt, you didn't, uh, say anything-"

"I promised that I never would, Blaine," Kurt points out before Blaine can finish. "I know you don't like people knowing about that night, and I'd never share anything about it without your knowledge. You should know that."

"I'm sorry," Blaine says quickly. "It's just... they were so clingy and protective."

"Probably just because I wasn't there. You're not the best at masking your emotions, Blaine. You probably had the whole cow-eye thing going."

"I don't have cow eyes!"

Kurt's giggles and Blaine realizes he's being teased, and ducks his head, laughing softly. "I'm sorry you didn't win, though. You would have made a fabulous king, if I do say so myself."

"It's for the best," Blaine says, thinking about the comment from Jon at the game.

"Well, you'll always be a king to me, honey."

Blaine smiles.

"By marriage only, of course. I'm the only one with royal blood in this relationship."

"Oh, of course." Blaine's smile grows as he listens to Kurt laugh. "I wish you were here, Kurt."

"In one week I will be, and then you won't have to wish for it."

"At least until you leave again."

"Shhhh. We made a promise, remember?" Kurt scolds quietly.

Blaine knows Kurt is right, and he quickly pushes the knowledge that he only gets Kurt for a few days aside. He should be happy that he gets to see Kurt at all; that Kurt still wants to do this and still be KurtandBlaineeven though he's in New York and going to college, and Blaine is still stuck in Lima, and he can't help but wonder if Kurt even tells his new friends that his boyfriend is in high school. He's never asked, though. He's afraid to ask.

Instead, Blaine smiles, and thinks of the future, and how it won't be too long before he's in New York, too. "The best is yet to come," he says, immediately crinkling his nose in self-disgust because, wow, that was quite possibly the cheesiest thing he's ever said.

In fact, the sound of Kurt rolling his eyes is so loud; Blaine imagines he can hear it through the phone just before Kurt erupts into laughter. The laughter is better, and Blaine can't wait to hear it again in person.

"Sit for a minute. Relax. Talk. Or maybe you're in a hurry."

"My daddy always said there's only one time a man should be in a hurry. When the cops are comin' up the stairs." Blaine smiles as he slides into the booth across from Aaron.

"How about a coffee? Maybe a piece of cheesecake?" Aaron offers.

Blaine shakes his head in the negative. "Thanks. I'm pleased to hear things go well with you, Nathan. From communiqués received in Las Vegas, we understood that Brannigan was corkin' up the town."

"Who's worried about Branigan-"

"Cut!" Artie shouts from the front of the stage.

Aaron pulls a face as he looks over at him. "Now what?"

"It's 'who worries about Branigan' not 'who's worried'."

"Okay, nobody in the world talks like this," Aaron says, pauses and waves a hand toward Blaine. "Except maybe grandpa over here."

Blaine sticks his tongue out at Aaron.

"Try it again," Artie says. "From 'who's worries about Branigan?'."

"Who worries about Branigan? How was Vegas?"

"Paradise for two weeks." Blaine leans back in the booth, setting his fedora on the table. He loves the suits he gets to wear in this show. "I gambled in green pastures, the dice were my cousins and the dolls were agreeable with nice teeth and no last names."

He can tell Aaron is fighting not to laugh. That line always gets him. "You are sure I cannot offer you cheesecake or strudel?"

"No, thanks. I just ate."

"How long you gonna be in town?"

"Only tonight. Tomorrow I fly to Havana."

"Sky, don't think I am a pest, but do yourself a favour - eat this last little bite of cheesecake. You will thank me." Aaron pushes the plate of cheesecake closer to Blaine.

The worst part of the show so far is every day, they use real cheesecake. And Blaine never gets to take a bite of it. "Honestly, I couldn't swallow a mouthful. How is Adelaide?"


"I suppose one of these days you'll get married."

"We all gotta go sometime."

"But, Nathan, we can fight it. The companionship of a doll is pleasant even for a period running into months. But for a close relationship that can last through our life, no doll can take the place of aces back to back."

"Still, you will admit that Mindy's cheesecake is the greatest alive." Aaron immediately turns to Artie, breaking character. "No, seriously this guy is like a drug pusher. A pusher of cheesecake."

"Also a fairly addictive substance," Blaine says, reaching out to swipe his finger in the cheesecake and suck it off the tip.

Artie drums his fingers on the armrest of his wheelchair. "The commentary is a lot of fun, Aaron. Really. And it's also going to keep us here longer. Do you mind continuing?"

"No, but seriously, this Nathan is a loon," Aaron says quietly to Blaine before slipping back into character. "Still, you will admit that Mindy's cheesecake is the greatest alive."
"Gladly. Furthermore, I am quite partial to Mindy's cheesecake." Or any cheesecake really, Blaine thinks.

"And yet, although you might disagree, many people prefer Mindy's strudel. Do you disagree?"

"It is my understanding that the Constitution allows everybody the free choice between cheesecake and strudel." Blaine's mouth twitches on that line. He loves Sky Masterson.

"I would be interested to hear. Offhand, would you say that Mindy sells more cheesecake or more strudel?" Aaron leans forward.

"Going strictly by my personal preference, I'd say more cheesecake than strudel." Actually, Kurt makes an amazing strudel. Blaine hasn't had it in forever, but maybe he could convince Kurt to make it this weekend while he's visiting...

"For how much?"


"For how much?" Aaron leans forward even further, excitedly.

"Why, Nathan! I never knew you to lay money on the line. You always take your bite off the top."

"A thousand bucks says that yesterday Mindy sold more strudel than cheesecake."

Blaine nods slightly and gets to his feet, moving over to the other side of the booth to slide in beside Aaron. "Nathan, let me tell you a story."

"Have we got a bet?"

"On the day I left home to make my way in the world, my daddy took me to one side. "Son," my daddy says to me, "I am sorry I am not able to bankroll you to a large start, but not having the necessary lettuce to get you rolling, instead, I'm going to stake you to some very valuable advice. One of these days, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, you do not accept this bet because, as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider." Now, Nathan, I do not suggest that you have been clocking Mindy's cheesecake."

Aaron spreads his hands wide. "Would I do such a thing?"

"However, if you are looking for action," Blaine places his hand quickly over the rather wonderful bow tie-it's one of his own, actually-that Aaron is wearing, "I will bet you the same that you cannot name the color tie you have on. Have we got a bet?"

Aaron tries to angle his head down to see the tie, but it's fairly obvious he can't. He sinks slightly in his seat, face taking on an expression akin to motion sickness. "No bet."

With a smile, Blaine pulls his hand away, leaning back as Aaron tugs the knot loose quickly, glancing at his tie before sighing loudly. "Polka dots. In the whole world, nobody but Nathan Detroit could blow a thousand bucks on polka dots."

Rory enters from stage left, wandering over to the table with a smile as Blaine gets to his feet. "Hi, Sky. Nice to see you. How goes it?"

"Healthy. And with you, Nicely?"

"Nicely-nicely, thanks. Nathan?" Rory leans in worriedly. "What's the matter, Nathan? You look sick."

Blaine reaches out for his fedora, saying, "The cheesecake backed up on him."

"Maybe that's why they told me they sell more strudel," Rory offers helpfully.

Aaron drops his face into his hands with a groan.

Ignoring his obvious plight, Rory continues, "Adelaide gave me a message for you. Be sure and pick her up after the show. And don't be late!"

"Yes, dear," Aaron says automatically behind his hands. "I mean, okay."

"Yes, dear?" Blaine looks down at him, blinking. "This is husband talk if I ever heard it. You are trapped because Adelaide is a doll that is most difficult to unload."

Aaron drops his hands and looks up. "I don't want to unload her. I love her. A guy without a doll... If a guy does not have a doll, who would holler at him-"

"Cut. It's 'who would holler onhim'."

"That doesn't even make sense, grammatically speaking," Aaron says.

Blaine grins. "I like how they talk."

"You would."

"Aaron," Artie says. "Please continue."

"If a guy does not have a doll, who would holler onhim. A doll is a necessity."

"I am not putting the knock on dolls. But they are something to have only when they come in handy... like cough drops." Artie giggles at the line, giving Blaine the indication that his delivery was timed correctly. "And the proof that I am right is that dolls are available as far as the eye can see."

"Not dolls like Adelaide."

"Nathan, nothing personal and no offense, but, weight for age, all dolls are the same."

"All dolls are the same, huh?"

"As far as the eye can see." Blaine waves the fedora in front of him widely.

"It seems to me the one place a doll would come in handy would be in Havana." Aaron gets up from the booth, sliding his hands into his pockets. "So how come you ain't got one? How come you are going alone, without a doll?"

"A matter of choice. I choose to travel alone, but if I wish to take a doll, the supply is more than Woolworths has got beads." Blaine has argued that they should update that line to make sense to people today. Artie wants to leave it as is because it sets the right tone for the era.

"Not high-class dolls."

"There's only one class: indivisible and interchangeable. A doll is a doll. All dolls, any doll. You name her."

"Any doll? Will you bet on that?" Aaron says slyly. "Will you bet a thousand bucks that if I name a doll, you can take the same doll to Havana with you tomorrow?"

Blaine grins and pokes Aaron in the chest. "You've got yourself a bet."

Slipping his hand behind Blaine's back, Aaron guides him toward stage left where Tina enters, dressed in her Salvation Army uniform, a few of the band members following, playing a horrible march. Aaron waves a hand forward.

"I name her!"

"Her?" Blaine asks, affecting the same look of motion sickness Aaron had earlier.

"Sergeant Sarah Brown," Aaron announces with a broad smile.

Turning away, Blaine wanders back toward stage right, away from Aaron and Rory, both of whom look entirely too pleased with themselves. Blaine leans against the booth and looks upward. "Daddy," he says beseechingly. "I got cider in my ear!"

"And... scene!" Artie calls out, clapping. "Very good. Let's move on. I'd like to get out of here before I have to head back to class in the morning..."

They continue on with only a few major interruptions. Brittany changes the choreography for "Havana" halfway through the dance number, and part of the scenery falls over during Blaine and Tina's performance of "I've Never Been in Love Before". Act Two flies by with far fewer interruptions, and before Blaine knows it, he's belting out "Lucky Be a Lady" while the majority of the football team dances around him in brightly colored zoot suits and fedoras. Blaine loves the number; he loves the song, the choreography that Brittany put together, the costuming and the set. Slipping into the role of the charming, high stakes gambler has proven far easier than Blaine had expected. He hates to admit that Artie was right but... well, he was right.

At the end of the number, as the company pauses in place for applause, Blaine hears more than Artie's clapping from the front of the stage. He glances out into the house to see a very familiar and welcome individual applauding from the aisle.


It's not the most professional behavior in the world, but Artie has stopped the rehearsal, so Blaine sees nothing wrong with jumping down from the stage to hurry up the steps to where Kurt is standing, waiting for him with a smile. He doesn't exactly throw himself into Kurt's arms-other than the fact that Kurt is standing there with his arms open waiting for him, and they do kind of stumble back a little bit when Blaine's body collides into his-but it's not so much throwing as jumping, really.

The moment he feels Kurt's arms wrap around his shoulders, embracing him tightly, Blaine releases a breath he hadn't realized he's been holding-holding for maybe the last month, actually-and he closes his eyes and presses his face into Kurt's neck, and just forgets about everything but the boy in his arms. He smiles as he feels Kurt's arms tighten over him a moment, and then the feel of Kurt's fingers curling into the hairs at the nape of his neck. It's as if they're each remembering that yes, this is how it feelsbecause even though Blaine hasn't forgotten, it's still nice to know he'd been right.

"What are you doing here?" Blaine finally pulls his head back, stares into glasz eyes that he's lost himself in more times than he can count. "I thought I wouldn't see you until tonight."

"I asked my dad to drop me off on the way back from the airport." Kurt shrugs a little, his hands sliding down Blaine's arms to wrap around his wrists. "I'll see my family plenty while you're at school tomorrow. I wanted to see you in rehearsal, and say hi to everyone."

His words remind Blaine that they have an audience, and he glances over his shoulder to see everyone milling around the stage, talking quietly amongst themselves, waiting for some kind of acknowledgment. Blaine's face flushes because he knows they're being rude, not just on a professional level but to their friends as well. He takes Kurt's hand in his and tugs him down the steps.

"Come on. I'm sure Artie will be fine with you saying hi to everyone before we wrap up," he says quietly.

The moment they reach the stage, Tina and Brittany tackle Kurt with hugs, telling him how much they've missed him and complimenting his outfit. Blaine hangs back, watching as old friends reacquaint themselves and Aaron and Rose step up to introduce themselves. He laughs and shakes his head when Kurt warns Rose to stop ogling his boyfriend's ass, but she's quick to respond.

"Well, while you're here, I'll just ogle yours instead."

Kurt lifts an eyebrow in appreciation as Blaine slips over and nudges him toward the front of the stage and the chair next to Artie. "We're almost done with rehearsal. Then we can head back to my place?"

"Perfect!" Kurt brushes a kiss to his cheek before walking away to join Artie.

Blaine doesn't have to tell Kurt his parents are not home; it was understood fairly quickly when they first became friends. Kurt had only remarked on it a few times before realizing Blaine was not entirely comfortable with discussing it, and the matter was dropped. There have only been a couple of times since they've begun dating that Blaine has ever had to say "My parents are home." Usually, this little fact has a way of bothering Blaine.

But not today.

Blaine's heart beat is just resuming it's normal speed when he feels Kurt pull away from him, rolling to the side of the bed to dispose of the condom. His eyes flicker open, and he notices that at some point in time the lighting in the room has faded from dusk to darkness. Kurt apparently realizes this as well because he reaches over to switch on the lamp beside the bed before he returns to Blaine's side, snuggling up against him, hand sliding over Blaine's stomach, fingers mapping out his ribs.

"How's your shoulder?" Kurt asks softly, lips pressing against the bicep of Blaine's right arm.

"It's fine." Blaine smiles and lifts the arm Kurt is kissing, wrapping it around Kurt's shoulders as he moves closer, and lays his cheek against Blaine's chest. Blaine thinks maybe he's missed this even more than the sex; just being close like this, holding one another. Smirking slightly, he adds, "You were almost too gentle."

"And yet, you still had a good time." Kurt pokes a finger into Blaine's abdomen.

"Your mouth was on my dick, Kurt. Of course I had a good time."

Squeaking with apparent outrage, Kurt shoves against Blaine's side-not hard because he's been treating Blaine like glass since he arrived in the auditorium that afternoon-but it's enough to tickle a little bit, and Blaine tries to wiggle out of his reach. Kurt pulls him right back though, arms wrapped tightly around his waist so Blaine can't get away, and Kurt hooks a leg over Blaine's before nestling his head back against his chest. Content with not moving anymore, Blaine sighs and closes his eyes, his hand drifting up to slide his fingers through Kurt's hair, clutching lightly.

They both lie there silently for the next few minutes, and Blaine feels himself beginning to drift, everything muted and a little hazy, imagination taking over reality as he thinks of life a few years from now. Laying in bed with Kurt, in a tiny apartment in New York, no worries about parents coming home early or keeping bedroom doors shut. They'd discuss having a dinner party with friends later that week, disagreeing on the menu and piecing together an entire playlist of songs to entertain their guests with. To make up for arguing over the menu, Blaine would let Kurt coordinate their outfits for the evening, and maybe at the last moment they'd call the whole thing off, texting their friends that one of them was sick, and spending the rest of the evening feeding one another straight out of the pots on the stove while dancing around the kitchen singing "I'll Cover You" at the top of their lungs.

"...this the most."

Blaine's eyes blink open at the sound of Kurt's voice. He must have drifted off over the last few moments. "Hmmm?" He asks, shifting slightly, arm tightening around Kurt.

"You fell asleep on me." Kurt's tone is affectionate.

"N'didn't," Blaine tries to argue but gives up. "M'be just a few moments." He's more awake now. "What did you say?"

"I said I miss this the most." Kurt lifts his head, turning it to look up at Blaine and resting his chin on Blaine's chest. "Just being with you like this, hearing the sound of your heart beat, feeling your fingers in my hair. New York is... amazing. But it will be even more so once you're there with me."

Blaine smiles, caressing the back of Kurt's head for a moment before slipping his hand down to his neck where his skin is warm and still slightly damp from previous exertions. "You like it, though? It's everything you imagined it would be?"

Kurt shrugs and drops his gaze, his finger tracing light patterns over the outline of Blaine's ribs. "There are moments for Rachel and I when our insecurities get the best of us, and then it's tears and ice cream Smashmarathons, and once I'm absolutely certain I'm not the most talentless hack in the entire world, I call you. Rachel, though, she doesn't really have anyone to turn to, other than me." Kurt's eyes flicker back up to Blaine. "I feel bad for her. Sometimes I see her just sitting on her bed in her room, clutching the teddy bear Finn won for her at the school carnival last spring."

"Does she ever talk about Finn?"

"She tries not to, but sometimes his name slips. And she tries to deflect it, you know, launching in to how it's important for her to focus on her career, and it's good that she doesn't have any distractions but his decision really hurt her."

"I'm not entirely certain Finn is all that pleased with his choice, either." Blaine trails his fingers upwards, brushing through the hair over Kurt's ear.

"Oh? Has he opened up to you about it? He clams up when I try to talk to him."

"That's because you live with Rachel," Blaine says with a smile. "He hasn't said much but occasionally he'll pose a question or get this look in his eyes when I talk about heading to New York next year and I can just see the wheels turning. Like maybe he's reconsidering."

Kurt appears surprised at this. His eyes widen for a moment, before his forehead creases into a frown. Blaine can't help but reach up with his fingertips to smooth the creases away. "Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't have fought so hard against their marriage. Maybe they'd both be happier-"

"Hey." Blaine pressed a finger to Kurt's lips to silence him. "You know what that would have achieved? Finn being miserable and having no direction in New York while he watched the two of you following your dreams, the possibility of Rachel losing focus on hers, and you being stuck in a tiny apartment with them."

"You have a point." Kurt bends his head, pressing the tip of his nose into Blaine's stomach, his lips puckering to place repeated soft kisses against the skin beneath them. He smiles when Blaine giggles because it tickles just a bit. Sighing softly, warm breath spreading over Blaine's belly, Kurt turns his head to press his cheek against him, gazing up into his eyes. "I can't wait until you're there with me, you know."

Blaine catches Kurt's hand and brings it to his mouth, pressing light kisses over the tips of his fingers. "Same. Sometimes all I can think about is how we'll be like this every night, waking up beside each other every morning-"

"Walking down the street holding hands, finding a favorite place to eat or just spend time together... "

Kurt trails off and suddenly moves, crawling back up beside Blaine to lean down and press their lips together, sucking Blaine's lower lip between his and cupping his face in his hands, a little too tight, a little to desperate. Sensing there's something wrong, Blaine wraps his arms around Kurt's waist, tugging him close as they kiss, the momentary intensity from Kurt gentling to something simple, slow, lips simply clinging to one another before Kurt breaks it. Their foreheads rest together, and Blaine gazes up at Kurt; his eyes are closed, mouth slightly open, soft breaths fanning over Blaine's lips. He rubs his hands over Kurt's lower back for a silent moment.

"Want to tell me what that was about?" he finally asks.

Kurt's eyes slip open, and he doesn't respond at first, just gazes back down at Blaine. They're so close that their eyelashes occasionally catch against one another. Blaine thinks Kurt's eyes look like supernovas at this proximity.

"It's a school night for you, so I should probably go," he whispers, giving Blaine another brief kiss before pulling up and away.

The question is obviously being ignored but Blaine knows better than to push. If there's something bothering Kurt, he'll share it in his own time. Instead, Blaine lets out a slightly pathetic whine as he rolls over, attempting to catch Kurt before he can slide out of the bed. Unfortunately, he's not fast enough. "I don't want you to go," he pouts, leaning his chin on his forearm as he rests at the edge of the bed, watching Kurt as he searches for his clothes scattered around the room.

They'd been in a bit of a rush when they'd gotten back to his place.

"Dad wants me home for my first night back," Kurt tells him as he finds his underwear and pants, and slips them on before sitting on the bed beside Blaine. "And I figure it's best to keep him happy if you're staying over tomorrow night, right?"

"I guess," Blaine murmurs, still pouting because Kurt had covered his ass entirely too quickly. He manages a smile when he feels his boyfriend place a kiss on the top of his head.

"Didn't your mother ever tell you if you keep making that face it's going to freeze that way?" Kurt teases, reaching out to flick the tip of Blaine's nose.

"Yes, actually. Throughout most of my childhood, in fact."

"Why does this not surprise me?" Kurt tugs his shirt on over his head, following it up with his vest and jacket.

Blaine rolls on to his back and looks up at him. "So many layers. Such a shame." He grins when Kurt sticks his tongue out at him. "Tease. Do you want me to walk you out?" He asks, starting to get up.

"I know my way." Kurt leans over to give him a quick kiss. "Besides, I'd prefer this image of you to fall asleep to tonight," he says with a wink, squeaking slightly when Blaine wraps a quick hand around the back of his neck and pulls him down for another kiss. He laughs against Blaine's lips and kisses him back before finally pulling away. "Do your homework, honey, and get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow for dinner. Love you!"

Blaine leans back against the headboard, grabbing the extra pillow and hugging it to his chest. "I love you more!"

Laughing, Kurt rolls his eyes and tosses a wave over his shoulder as he exits Blaine's room.

Still smiling, Blaine leans his chin on the pillow, staring at the doorway Kurt had just vacated. It's obvious there's something bothering his boyfriend, and while Blaine will not push to find out what that is, he does find himself hoping Kurt will choose to tell him sooner rather than later. The miles between them has made the chances to open up to one another far fewer than before. They should still be able to talk to one another, the same as always, but Blaine knows it is not as easy as that. It's more difficult to know what the other is thinking when they are no longer together as much as they were.

Blaine's not worried about them growing apart. But he is a little afraid of what it might mean for them to be growing up.

"So should I even ask what you were up to last night?"

Blaine glances up at Tina as she sets her tray down on the table and slides onto the bench beside him. He tries to hide his smirk, but fails spectacularly as he reaches over to snatch a cherry tomato from her salad. "Why, Tina Cohen-Chang, whatever are you referring to?" He asks, popping the tomato into his mouth and smirking as she smacks his arm.

"You've got that look about you," she says, opening her can of diet Dr. Pepper. "The one that says you've been well fucked."

Blaine chokes slightly as he swallows the stolen tomato, eyes wide and cheeks slightly warm as he stares at his friend. She just smiles as she lifts up the burger on her tray to take a bite.

"I need details!" Sugar practically shouts in Blaine's ear as she leans over from behind to hug him tight before taking the empty spot on the other side of him. "You and Kurt looked so adorable when you left the auditorium last night-you couldn't let go of each other!"

"Well and truly fucked," Tina reiterates in a whisper, stabbing at her small salad with a fork.

Blaine opens his mouth to respond but Sugar is hugging him again. "No wonder you can't stop smiling! What're the two of you doing this weekend? I mean, besides the obvious." She grins at him. "Want to go to the mall? There's a ton of sales going on, and I want to hit them all. My dad even filled up my credit card for me." Sugar peers around Blaine's shoulders. "Tina? Do you wanna come, too?"

"Absolutely. I wouldn't want to miss out on shopping with Kurt."

"I haven't said yet that Kurt and I plan on going shopping," Blaine points out as he grabs a fry from his plate, dipping it into a glob of mayonnaise. "You do recall that Kurt lives in New York now, right? Why on earth would he want to shop in Ohio?"

"Ummm, because we're dragging his rather attractive boyfriend along with us, so he really has no choice?" Tina replies as Sugar giggles in agreement.

Blaine smirks as he grabs another fry. "I think Kurt might have something to say about that."

"Fine. He can tell me tomorrow at the mall." Tina leans past Blaine. "Is tomorrow good for you, Sugar?"


"What's perfect?" Artie asks, rolling up to the table as Rory grabs the seat across from Blaine.

"Sugar and I are kidnapping Kurt and Blaine for a shopping expedition tomorrow."

"Damn, I forgot about Kurt," Artie says, shaking his head.

Blaine raises an eyebrow. "How, exactly, does one forget about Kurt?"

"No, I mean, I'm putting together a Madden tournament tomorrow at my place. My mom's even springing for pizza. Everyone's coming over-Finn, Puck, Aaron, Rory," he nods his head to the side and Rory grins, mouth full of cheeseburger, "I meant to tell you about it this morning. Forgot about Kurt being home, though. Doubt he'd wanna stop by."

"Very doubtful." Blaine smiles and reaches over to steal another tomato, only to get smacked on the back of his hand by Tina's fork. "Ow! But I'll ask, all the same. Maybe we could stop by after the mall."


"Hello, fellow glee clubbers!" Harmony appears behind Tina's shoulder, smiling brightly at all of them before focusing her gaze on Blaine. She immediately wedges her way into between him and Tina, ignoring Tina's protests as she pushes her out of the way and sets her tray down. "I thought we could talk about Regionals. We have less than three weeks to prepare, you know."

"That's just about three weeks too many," Artie says, squinting at his plate as he pulls a long blonde hair from the mac 'n' cheese with a queasy expression.

"Have you given any more thought to my suggestion of show tunes?" Harmony asks Blaine, ignoring Artie's remark. "You have to admit that you and I would sound positively gorgeous on "As Long As You're Mine", Blaine."

Blaine doesn't have to look up from his fries to know everyone at the table is staring at him, waiting for his response with baited breath. He smiles and glances over at Harmony, knowing that keeping her happiness balanced with the rest of the group isn't going to be an easy feat. On the whole, Blaine thinks Harmony's a good person-she's just a little full of her own self-importance to really be a team player at the moment. She's talented, though, and they could really use that. New Directions will continue to need strong singers, especially with more of them graduating this year.

"I like the show tunes idea, Harmony," Blaine begins, glancing around the table at the others. "As I believe we all do. And a song from Wicked is an absolute must. Although," and his gaze shifts back to Harmony as he focuses his full attention on her, "I thought maybe you and Tina could share a duet-"

"What?" Tina peers around Harmony to glare at Blaine.

"Your voices would sound quite clever together on-wait for it." Blaine holds up his hand as Harmony arches a well-shaped eyebrow at him. ""What is This Feeling?""

"That's kind of brilliant, actually," Artie says, tone filled with quiet awe as he stares across the table.

"Harmony? Tina? What do you both think?"

The girls glance at one another, and Blaine knows quite well there's no love lost there. Tina has tried repeatedly for the last couple of weeks to be as nice as possible to Harmony, and received little concession in return. Blaine thinks its because Harmony sees her as competition for the spotlight, but Tina laughed that off. It bothers him that his friend doesn't really see what a beautiful voice she has.

"I suppose that's acceptable," Harmony finally says with a nod, reaching out to stab rather pointedly at the salad on her plate.

"Sure." Tina shrugs. "Why not?"

Blaine releases a short breath he didn't realized he'd been holding, glancing across the table at Rory who gives him a thumbs up.

"What other songs are we going to sing?" Sugar asks, entwining an arm around his as she leans against him and steals a fry.

"I haven't really thought much beyond that one."

""Seasons of Love" could be a great group number."

"Artie!" Blaine says in surprise. "I didn't realize you were a Rentfan."

"I like to keep a little mystery." He waves his fork in the air before picking at some tater tots.

Pushing what's left of his fries over to Sugar (she kisses his cheek in thanks), Blaine gets to his feet and grabs his tray. "I'll let you guys mull over other ideas for our third song, and we can present them to Mr. Schuester next week." He glances between Sugar and Tina. "What time are we meeting tomorrow?"

They look at each other and Tina shrugs. "I'll text you in the morning, Boo."

"Sounds good. I'm off to see the library about a book on the Fall of Rome. See you guys later!"

To: Kurt 333
Tina and Sugar have demanded our presence at the mall tomorrow.

From: Kurt 333
Is Sugar bringing her credit card?

To: Kurt 333

From: Kurt 333
Sound like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. ;)

"So how's that shoulder of yours doin'?"

"It's better," Blaine says, glancing toward the head of the table where Burt is frowning briefly at the salad in front of him before he returns his attention to Blaine. "I mean, I won't be doing any handstands soon but other than that, it's just a little sore sometimes."

"I remember when I dislocated my shoulder during a game in the eighth grade," Finn says as he scoops another pile of mashed potatoes onto his plate. "Dude, that sucked. The worst part was, the doc wouldn't even let me play drums for like two months."

"And this is exactly why I am a big proponent of the fact that sports are dangerous and should be outlawed." Kurt takes a sip of his iced tea as he reaches over to rub at Blaine's shoulder gently.

"No, you just think they're boring," Burt points out.

"That, too."

Blaine smiles as he slices off a piece of the chicken breast on his plate, leaning ever so slightly into the comforting touch of Kurt's hand. "Dinner's really great, Mrs. H. I don't think I've ever had chicken this moist."

"Suck up," Finn mutters into his glass of Coke.

Carole reaches out to playfully smack her son's arm. "Thank you, Blaine. Kurt gave me the recipe," she says, giving Kurt a smile. "But I told him if I couldn't successfully pull it off on my own tonight, I might have to force him to move back home."

Kurt lifts his chin slightly and whispers to Blaine, "I may have snuck into the kitchen a few times to make certain that doesn't happen."

Blaine grins, returning his attention to his meal as Kurt starts talking about some of his favorite restaurants in New York so far. Not wanting to focus on all of the things Kurt is experiencing for the first time without him, Blaine instead thinks about how nice this is, to have Kurt there for the Friday night family dinner again. While he's gotten used to joining the Hummel-Hudson's most weeks, it just hasn't been the same without Kurt's snarky humor or the occasional touch of his hand against Blaine's thigh or wrist. No matter how much Burt and Carole and even Finn go out of their way to make him feel welcome, Blaine cannot help but feel as if he's intruding instead. Kurt's presence alleviates that feeling somewhat.

After dinner, Kurt and Blaine offer to clean up in the kitchen-Kurt washes and Blaine dries-and they don't say much other than the occasional comment about dinner or the conversation had during. From the living room they can hear the television playing, and Finn and Burt talking over the commentary, either agreeing or arguing with the sportscaster. Whenever Kurt hands Blaine a dish, their fingers brush over one another they share a brief smile, and sometimes Blaine leans in to bump their shoulders together. He's been a little worried, honestly, that their time apart might have made things different between them, a little less comfortable but that certainly isn't proving to be the case. They can still share plenty without ever saying a word.

They spend a little time with the family, though there are general disagreements about what to watch on TV. Blaine sits on the floor between Kurt's legs, eyes drifting closed as his boyfriend's fingers move gently over his shoulders. It's more of a caress than a massage, and it's working at putting him to sleep. Between rehearsals and homework and studying for SATs and ACTs and everything else, Blaine knows he can more than fall asleep easily beneath Kurt's touch.

That is until Carole brings out her amazing sweet potato pie.

"Sometimes I think if you had to choose between me and food, you'd have trouble making the decision," Kurt teases, toeing Blaine's hip with his boot.

Blaine shakes his head as he swallows the bite he just took and turns to look at Kurt over his shoulder. "Only if I haven't eaten in a while, babe. Otherwise, no contest."

Kurt laughs and pushes at his shoulders playfully.

In fact, Blaine has two slices of pie, and half of Finn's third slice that he can't finish, and Finn pouts for a few minutes because Blaine has proven more than once that he can eat as much as he can. Finn finally excuses himself to head up to his room and play video games the moment Burt begins snoring from the recliner. Resting his arms on Kurt's thigh, chin tucked over them, Blaine listens as Kurt and Carole discuss some color ideas for the kitchen. Carole wants to redecorate but cannot decide if she wants to go for something bright and sunny or a little more subdued. He jumps into the conversation the moment Carole brings up the idea of a chicken motif, and he and Kurt spend every second of the next five minutes offering reason after reason as to why that's a bad idea. They have all finally agreed on a soft yellow with cornflower blue accents before Kurt is getting to his feet, and tugging Blaine to his, and they're saying goodnight to Carole before heading up to Kurt's room.

"Chickens," Kurt mutters as they reach his room and he opens a drawer to pull out his pajamas. "I feel as if we barely escaped an apocalyptic disaster just now."

"I may have to come over and help her paint, just to make certain she doesn't change her mind at the last moment." Blaine opens his duffel bag and pulls out his own set of pajamas that match Kurt's in color if not pattern. The first time they'd been caught wearing them in front of Kurt's family, Finn had spent a good ten minutes doubled over in laughter. Carole said they were adorable, and Burt had wondered aloud if they were going to begin wearing matching sweaters at Christmas.

They take their turns using the bathroom down the hall to wash up and get ready for bed. Once in his pajamas, Blaine crawls on to Kurt's bed and switches on the small flat screen tucked into the bookshelves while Kurt sits at his vanity to moisturize. He holds out one of the jars toward Blaine in question, but Blaine shakes his head no and glances back at the television, finally settling on the Food Network. Feeling the mattress shift, he looks over to find Kurt scooting over to him, jar of moisturizer in hand. Blaine doesn't even have time to open his mouth in protest before Kurt slaps a glob of the cool cream on his cheek and begins spreading it over his face.

"I knew the moment I left for New York, you'd forget all about proper skin care."

Blaine closes his eyes as Kurt's fingers gently and deftly move around them, patting the moisturizer carefully into his skin. "It's not a conscious effort. Usually I'm in bed when I remember, and then I don't want to get up."

"You have beautiful skin, Blaine. It would be a waste to watch it age prematurely."

Not having a response to that, Blaine just sighs softly through his nose, tilting his head at all the right angles as Kurt's fingers move across his face. He leans his head back a little when Kurt taps his chin, and then the cream is lathered over his neck. The scent is light, and reminds him of Kurt, so Blaine doesn't mind it much. Plus, any excuse to have Kurt touching him is a win in Blaine's way of thinking.

When he's certain all of the moisturizer has been rubbed in, Kurt's fingers still linger; a thumb sliding along Blaine's jaw, fingertips caressing his cheekbones. Blaine opens his eyes and Kurt is right there, just gazing at him, a soft smile curving his mouth. He meets Blaine's gaze and his smile broadens.

"I miss the rough feel of your stubble against my fingers. Isn't that silly?"

Blaine shakes his head because it's not silly in the least, and he leans across the few inches separating them to brush his lips, loose and dry, against Kurt's chin, letting them drag and catch as he continues down Kurt's neck, ending with a kiss over his Adam's Apple.

"I've missed it, too."

He hovers there a moment, breathing in the scent of soap and moisturizer, laundry detergent from the collar of Kurt's pajamas, and finally leans back. Kurt captures his lips in a quick kiss before he can go too far and when Blaine tries to deepen it, he laughs and pushes Blaine away.

"I haven't finished my routine yet," he reminds him, climbing off the bed and returning to his vanity.

Sighing loudly, Blaine pouts into the mirror over Kurt's shoulder as his boyfriend smirks at him, before settling back against the headboard and flipping through channels once more. In the end, he returns to the Food Network to watch Iron Chef Americaby the time Kurt is climbing back onto the bed and leaning against the headboard beside Blaine. Knowing that they're about to settle down for the night, Blaine tosses the remote next to Kurt and turns, curling up against his boyfriend's side and laying his head against his chest as he wraps his arm across Kurt's stomach.

"I take it someone wants to cuddle?" Kurt's tone is one of amusement as he presses a kiss against the top of Blaine's head.

Blaine closes his eyes and smiles. "Got a problem with that?"

"No. But I would argue that Iron Chef Americaisn't exactly cuddle material."

"Alton Brown seems cuddly."


"There's nothing else on," Blaine protests weakly before snuggling closer until his position is just perfect, head firmly pressed against the center of Kurt's chest, leg lifted and tucked between both of Kurt's. He draws in a slow breath and relaxes as he listens while Kurt begins flipping through channels to locate that ever-elusive cuddle-perfect TV show.

When Kurt's chest begins shaking with barely suppressed mirth beneath Blaine's head, Blaine shifts his attention to the TV, trying to make out what it is Kurt's watching without opening his eyes. He listens carefully to the laugh track, certain he's heard it before. Kurt continues to shake, pressing his face into Blaine's hair, puffs of air warming his scalp with each giggle. The laugh track continues, and Blaine finally gives in, peering one eye open only to smirk and close it once more when he recognizes Lucy crushing grapes in her bare feet.

"Thisis cuddle material?" He murmurs.

"I love this episode. This, and the one where she and Ethel try to steal John Wayne's footprints."

Blaine's the one giggling now. "You and Rachel are soLucy and Ethel." He squeaks as Kurt pinches his side.

"Stop." A pause. "Well, okay, as long as she's Ethel."

Blaine settles again, relaxing and tuning out the sound of the television to lose himself in the feeling of having Kurt so close once more. He focuses on the sound of the heart beating beneath his ear, a steady thrum only interrupted on occasion by the rumble of quiet laughter. There's a gurgle from Kurt's stomach every now and again, something that used to embarrass the hell out of Kurt when they'd first started dating. Back when everything was supposed to be spotless and shiny, more like the perfect 1940's romance, and less like real life. Blaine had never minded either, really, but he very much loved the realness they had between them now-stomach gurgles and sticky messes after sex and hurt feelings-and he wouldn't give that up for anything.

"Remember, Kurt, door stays open," Blaine hears Burt say, somewhat from a distance, the fog of sleep already clouding his mind.

"I know, Dad," comes Kurt's reply, short and obviously annoyed.

"Night, boys."

"Night, Dad." Blaine thinks he mumbles a goodnight as well, but that also could have just been in his mind. He does hear Kurt say something about needing to get under the covers if he's going to go to sleep, and then he doesn't remember anything.

"...pretty pretty please, if you ever ever feel like you're nothing, you are perfect, to meeeeeeee!" Blaine holds his last note a little higher and more ridiculously at the end than normal, and it sends Kurt into peals of laughter as Blaine pulls his car into a parking space not too far from the entrance to the mall.

Kurt slumps in the passenger seat for a moment, smiling over at Blaine, cheeks high with color and eyes shining as he reaches over for Blaine's hand. "Now, ithat/i I miss. I can't just ever sing for pleasure or fun with Rachel. It always ends up turning into a contest to see who can hit the higher note or hold it for longer." He threads their fingers together and tugs slightly until they're both leaning across the console, lips brushing together. Kurt whispers, "I miss how we sound together. Perfect."

Blaine smiles against his mouth. "Dork."

Kurt laughs and they kiss again, and Blaine's fine if they just sit there like this, for the rest of their Saturday, and never pull their lips apart. Unfortunately, the sound of a text arriving on his phone spoils that, and Blaine pulls it from his pocket to shake his head at the message from Tina. He holds it up to show Kurt.

From: Tina (1/1)
Stop making out in the car. We're here to SHOP.

"Oh, how much I want to point out to her the hours I spent waiting on the sidewalk while she and Mike made out in the car," Kurt says with a sigh as he gives Blaine one last quick kiss and unbuckles his seat belt to slide out of the car.

"That would be cruel, though, seeing as how Mike hasn't had as many opportunities to come home as you," Blaine points out, locking the doors as he moves up beside Kurt and they head toward the mall entrance. "Sounds like Alvin Ailey is running him ragged."

Kurt nods, moving to take Blaine's hand in his. "The last time we grabbed coffee together he said he'd never considered dancing a chore until recently."



Tina and Sugar are waiting for them just inside the doors. After the requisite hugs between them, they set off on a mission to conquer "every sale in the vicinity" according to Sugar. Blaine's surprised when Kurt doesn't let go of his hand as they begin making their way through the mall. They've always been careful when out and about in Lima, knowing that catching the attention of the wrong person, even when friends are with them, can lead to trouble. So the fact that Kurt is holding on to Blaine's hand, not even bothering to hide it as he occasionally steps out of pace to look into a window, tugging Blaine along at the last second, causes Blaine's chest to seize up in fear every now and again. He realizes there are likely two reasons for Kurt's behavior: one, they've been apart long enough that any excuse to touch one another is reason enough, and two, Kurt's been allowed to be himself in New York; he expects to be able to do the same here with his boyfriend.

Except Ohio isn't New York, and Blaine wonders if Kurt's forgotten that.

He tries to just enjoy it as he follows Kurt, Tina and Sugar into Claire's, where they all go a little crazy with accessories between hats and brooches and earrings and head bands. Blaine finds a brooch that reminds him both of the mockingjay in "The Hunger Games", and Pavarotti, and when he pins it on the scarf Kurt has artfully wound around his neck, his boyfriend rolls his eyes just a bit before smiling and catching Blaine's hand to press a quick kiss to his fingers. The brooch is purchased, along with several other items including the tackiest leopard print boa Blaine has ever seen, but somehow Sugar makes it work, and they're on their way to the shoe store next door. Kurt turns his nose up at the merchandise, but the girls are happy, so Blaine finds himself helping them pick out a variety of sandals and boots to try on. He assists them both with trying on every pair of shoes, until at one point a sales associate walks by and asks him if he would like a job. Blaine flushes as Tina and Sugar tease him about what a wonderful shoe salesman he'd make. When he looks over his shoulder, he finds Kurt with his mouth covered, tears of laughter shining in his eyes.

Between two different shoe stores, Blaine stops to buy two chocolate chip cookies and a large Coke Zero, using the need to devour his snack as an excuse not to follow the girls into the second store. He sits on the small ledge of the window display just outside, and Kurt lingers beside him, occasionally reaching down to snap a tiny bite off of a cookie or lift the soda from Blaine's hand to take a sip.

"At this rate, Sugar's going to max out her card before we get through a quarter of the shops," Kurt points out, leaning into the entrance to watch as Tina and Sugar both stagger up to the counter, arms laden with boxes of shoes.

"She'll probably just call her dad to have him add more to it." Blaine licks the lingering chocolate from his fingertips before taking a sip of his soda.

"Must be nice." Kurt looks down at Blaine and smiles. "You should bring her to New York with you next month. Imagine Black Friday with Sugar at the helm?"

Blaine's eyes widen, and he laughs. "Honestly? The thought of the two of you together on Black Friday is a little terrifying, so I'm going to go with no."

Kurt sticks his lower lip out in a pout.

By the time lunch rolls around, Blaine and Kurt are both carrying bags that don't even belong to them because Tina and Sugar have gone a little crazy. Not to say the boys haven't made a few purchases of their own, but a couple of ties, some socks, two hats and a cardigan are minor compared to the bags of shoes, accessories, skirts and blouses. They find an empty table in the food court, and Blaine offers to sit with the purchases while the others scatter to find food.

"Any preferences?" Kurt asks as Tina heads off toward pizza and Sugar the sub shop.

Blaine glances around for a moment before shaking his head and looking back up at Kurt with a smile. "Surprise me."

"Sounds good." Kurt leans over to kiss the top of Blaine's head before moving off.

"Pretty certain my eyes are bigger than my stomach," Tina says as she sits down across from Blaine a few minutes later with two slices of pepperoni and a couple of breadsticks. "You're going to help me with this, right?"

"Always," Blaine says, reaching over to tug a piece of pepperoni from one of the slices. It's crispy. He loves crispy pepperoni.

" then I tell Artie, he just wasn't fulfilling me emotionally, you know?" Sugar is explaining her recent break up with Artie to Kurt as they return to the table. Kurt has a Greek wrap on the tray he's carrying, and a plate of General Tso's chicken and crab rangoon. Blaine bounces slightly in his seat happily as Kurt sets the plate in front of him, and Sugar continues, "He's far too wrapped up in his video games, and I need more "me" time. Anyway, it feels good to be an independent woman again."

Blaine and Kurt glance at one another, and Kurt gives a small smile and little shake of his head, as if to say it's nice to know things haven't changed in the choir room. As Sugar and Tina begin discussing their mutual ex-boyfriend, Artie, Blaine quickly shuts out their conversation-there's only so much you want to hear about a friend of yours, especially when it comes to exes discussing them-and focuses on the meal in front of him. He tears apart one of the crab rangoon, licking at the cream cheese filling inside before glancing to his side to find Kurt staring at him.

Licking off his lips self-consciously, Blaine offers his boyfriend a smile. "What?"

Kurt leans close to whisper into his ear, "Do you really expect me to make it through the rest of this shopping trip without tearing your clothes off if you don't stop displaying your tongue like that?"

Blaine almost licks his lips again at Kurt's words, but just barely stops himself as their gazes meet, Kurt's eyes sparkling at him mischievously. Rolling his eyes instead, Blaine pops the rest of the fried finger food into his mouth, and shrugs slightly. "Maybe you should follow me into the dressing room at Brooks Brothers."

"Maybe I just might."

Doubting very much that Kurt will actually do that-not when Tina and Sugar would inevitably follow to hover outside the door and listen-Blaine spears a couple of pieces of the crispy chicken to eat, smiling as Kurt reaches over to steal a piece of broccoli.

"What're you two up to?" Tina asks as she leans across the table to steal a crab rangoon.

"Hey!" Blaine protests as Kurt responds, "Clandestine meetings. Are the two of you done disparaging our friend?"

"We weren't disparaging, Artie." Sugar rolls her eyes. "We were comparing notes."

"Notes I'd rather not have too many details on," Blaine says rather pointedly, and both girls grin back at him.

They finish their lunch with conversations about the musical and Sectionals, and how Kurt is adapting to life in New York. Tina clears the table for them as Kurt takes Blaine's hand again, and Blaine has to fight the urge to look over his shoulder to see if anyone is watching. It's odd seeing this new Kurt, and Blaine wonders at the changes in him in so little time. Before, when out in public, they were typically careful in how much affection they'd display. Yes, they'd clasp hands in the places they felt most comfortable-the Lima Bean where people knew them (a barista Blaine shortly after they began dating that they'd been placing bets as to when he and Kurt would get together); the theater where they would go see something they weren't really interested in and sit in the back row paying far more attention to each other than what was happening on the screen; the McKinley hallways late in the day or on weekends when only the glee club was hanging around. Never places like the mall, though, where there were huge groups of people-people they don't know and can't place. Kurt knows that Blaine still tenses when walking through parking lots at night; how he clings to Kurt's hand and glances furtively all around until they're safe inside the car, doors locked. That's why he finds this strange, how Kurt has repeatedly taken his hand today, holding it close, fingers entwined, thumb caressing Blaine's palm.

When they leave the food court, there is finally agreement to let Blaine venture into Brooks Brothers, his favorite store. Kurt has promised to hold him to buying only that which he absolutely needs, though they both laugh at the thought because when it comes to clothes, there's always need for everything. On the way, they come across Rose and her older sister, and after repeatedly calling all of them 'bitches' for not inviting her along, she ditches her sister to join them.

Kurt appears amused by Rose, especially as she repeatedly refers to him as Blaine's boytoy, and at one point slaps Kurt's ass when she moves past him. Blaine can do little more than shrug in response because Rose has this way of claiming everything and everyone as absolutely hers the moment she decides she likes them. He whispers to Kurt that he should be pleased Rose likes him shortly before the girls, arms loaded with outfits they've decided the boys have to try on, drag them back to the dressing rooms.

By the time they are making their way back through the mall over an hour later, toward the doors they came in, Blaine is exhausted. For a good thirty minutes, the girls had decided it would be fun to dress Blaine up as Kurt, and Kurt as Blaine, before finally allowing them to both pick through the piles of clothes for the things they liked. Kurt had finished the excursion off with a silver and black vest he loved, and Blaine finally decided on a sweater vest, cardigan and a new pair of beige chinos.

They're just moving past the pizza place, and Blaine's considering asking if anyone wants to grab something to eat again when he feels Kurt take his free hand into his own. Kurt doesn't seem to be paying much attention, his gaze focused on Rose as they talk nonstop, bonding over a shared love of scarves, so Blaine thinks it must be that he doesn't notice the four boys, around their age, who pass them on the right. They're staring at their hands, and then at Kurt, and then over at Blaine, who gets caught watching them, and his jaw tightens as his heart races, and he snatches his hand away from Kurt's rather quickly, shoving it into his pocket.

Too quickly.

It's enough to cause Kurt to stop his conversation with Rose and look over at him, and then look around, like he knows Blaine's sudden action had been precipitated by something. Blaine chews on his lip, watching out of the corner of his eye as Kurt's shoulders tense slightly, and he sighs, slowly returning to his quiet discussion with Rose.

Blaine doesn't know why, but he can't help but feel that Kurt is more upset with him than he is with the boys Blaine can still feel watching them as they exit the mall.

Blaine's dreaming about New York. He and Kurt are walking in Central Park, holding hands, smiling at one another. Blaine isn't certain how they got there or why; he only knows that the sun is a little too bright, causing him to squint, and Kurt's hand is warm in his, almost too warm, and Blaine thinks of letting go, if only to wipe the sweat from his palm. He doesn't want to let go, though, because the day is perfect, and that would ruin it, so he clings a little harder...

His first realization that he's no longer dreaming is that the air has significantly cooled. Blaine curls his fingers, looking for the hand he'd been holding, only to find that they're wrapped in a pillow instead. It's when he feels warm, dry lips moving over the shell of his ear, and a hand flat and sliding over his back that Blaine's eyes drift open and a smile curves his lips. It's dark, the house silent except for the soft press of Kurt's lips against his neck, and the creak of the bed as Kurt shifts, moving closer to Blaine's side.

"What're you doin'?" He murmurs, still half-asleep but the feel of his pajama top being pushed upward, and Kurt's light kisses against his back, cause him to stretch languidly, something like a purr issuing from his throat.

"I had a dream about you," Kurt says quietly, pressing his cheek against Blaine's skin. "I woke up and stared at you for a while. Sometimes it shocks me, how beautiful you are, and that you're mine. So I decided a dream wasn't good enough, and I shut the door." He lifts his head and Blaine feels the wet swipe of his tongue along his spine. "Hope you don't mind?"

"Mmmmm, I never mind," Blaine says sleepily, burrowing his face just a bit further into the pillow beneath him as he smiles. He's done the same-woken up and just stared at Kurt, marveling at how perfect he was. "But your family might."

"Then you'll have to be extra quiet," Kurt whispers, a smile in his words as he mouths his way between Blaine's shoulder blades, lingering to suck over the spot where Blaine knows his birthmark is located. It's just an irregular patch of darker skin, but Kurt loves it for some reason. Licks and sucks over it until it turns red and purple; no longer a birthmark but a 'Kurt mark' as Kurt has taken to calling it proudly.

"You make that hard-"

"Hmmm. That's my hope, anyway."

Blaine presses his face back into the pillow, stifling his giggle, feeling Kurt shake with his own suppressed laughter over him before there's another press of lips against the back of his neck. Turning his head to lay his cheek against the pillow, Blaine's eyes flutter closed at the feel of Kurt's fingers trailing down his back. He shifts slightly as he feels a finger slide beneath his pajama bottoms, and further between the cleft of his ass, teasing and barely touching, and he doesn't think that's very nice. He murmurs as much, but all his words do is elicit a soft laugh from Kurt, and that's just about all Blaine can take as he flips onto his back suddenly, capturing Kurt beneath his arms and dragging him upward, pressing their lips together. Kurt laughs into the kiss for a moment before sighing contentedly, elbows pressing into the pillow above Blaine's shoulders as he leans into the kiss.

Moments later, and they scramble to rid one another of their pajamas, tossing them out of the way and to the floor. Shifting, Blaine slides his legs open in silent invitation, one that Kurt accepts instantly, slipping between them, mouths opening against one another in soft gasps as their cocks press together. They could do more but sometimes, the most simple things are the best. Blaine's still sleepy, and too impatient for teasing and waiting for preparation, and this-bodies lined up, grinding against one another-is still everything that makes them perfect and together. Simplicity has always been a major component of who they are, be it holding hands, staring into one another's eyes, or this... the slow slide of their bodies against one another, heart's beating in sync, eyes barely shuttered, gazing, watching as skin flushes and mouths fall open breathlessly.

Blaine loves it when Kurt is pressing inside of him, and he loves moving inside of Kurt. Giving Kurt a blow job might be one of his favorite things in all the world, and then there's the curious exploration of fingers, the sure, twisting grip of Kurt's hand around his cock, and so, so many things Blaine has imagined and dreamed. Things he wants to do someday, with Kurt; things he knows they're both not quite ready to explore just yet. They have the rest of their lives, Blaine knows, as surely as he knows the sun will come up in the morning , and in a little over twenty-four hours, Kurt will be heading back to New York, and soon, not too long now, Blaine will follow him.

So maybe that's why moving together like this, murmuring so softly how good it feels, and "just a little harder", and "god right there", and "I love you so much" during barely-there kisses means more to Blaine, often, than the quick and hard and stupidly wonderful feel of fucking. He knows they'll have all the time in the world to explore at their own pace, and when he wraps his legs around Kurt's hips, it is not to say go faster I need more but rather I just need you closer, I wish this would last all night. And Kurt knows that as he dips his head to Blaine's neck, sucking the skin between his teeth, laving it with his tongue as he continues to rock down against Blaine, shifting slightly to realign their bodies.

The build is slow, cherished, fingers entwining, mouths meeting, foreheads pressed together as whispers of forever are exchanged. And still, it's over too quickly for Blaine's liking as he feels the heat and blood pooling in his groin, urging his hips instinctively to thrust upward faster, harder, cock sliding almost desperately against Kurt's, even though he doesn't want this feeling to end at the very same time his body says otherwise. Too soon, Kurt is raising himself up slightly, balanced on his hands, pressing his hips down, faster, needier, forehead pressed to Blaine's as he moans softly, breathless. Blaine's hands slide down his back, cup his ass, pulling him closer, mindless with the need to simply feel until-

"Oh god, Kurt," Blaine keens softly as he comes, turning his face away to press it into the pillow, ever-mindful of being too loud, of being heard. He moves through his orgasm, still clutching Kurt close until he feels his boyfriend tense above him, and then the heated pulse of wet warmth between them.

Kurt's face nuzzles into Blaine's neck, body resting against his as they both breathe, fingers tracing lightly over skin as if just assuring themselves that the other is still there, heart beats slowing. When Blaine brings his head back up, Kurt's lips are there to greet him, and their smiles melt together for a moment as they kiss, slow and sated until the cooling stickiness between them becomes too uncomfortable to ignore.

Whispering for Blaine to stay there, Kurt slides from the bed to tiptoe over to the door, opening it just a hair, before moving back and snatching the box of tissues from his dresser. He kneels beside Blaine, cleaning them both off and goes to reach for their discarded pajamas but Blaine tugs him back down into another kiss.

"Stop!" Kurt protests after a moment, laughing softly and swatting at Blaine's shoulder as he pulls away. "Pajamas before we fall asleep or we'll have another embarrassing morning like that one time."

"At least Carole knows better than to come wake us up for breakfast now," Blaine whispers, grinning in the darkness until his pajama pants slap him in the face. "Oof!"

"Yes, but now I think my dad looks forward to waking us with the anticipation of tossing you out the window wearing nothing but a smile." The bed wiggles for a moment as Kurt slips back into his nightclothes.

Blaine makes a face as he lifts up his hips, sliding the loose pants over them. "He would never do that. Your dad likes me." He considers putting the top back on, then decides against it, tossing it to the floor. "Although, he would never let me live it down. Ever."

As he lays back against his pillow, Kurt snuggles against his side with a soft sigh as he slides his arm over Blaine's waist. "I love you," he says, pressing a kiss to his neck, nose nuzzling after before he settles.

Blaine pulls him close, arm resting around his shoulders, fingers playing through the hair over Kurt's ear. He smiles as Kurt moves into the touch like a cat, and Blaine turns his head to brush his lips against his forehead. They grow silent, but Blaine doesn't feel ready to go back to sleep just yet, and Kurt's fingers are tracing in a light pattern just above his belly button. Blaine lets his mind drift for a bit, enjoying the gentle dance of Kurt's fingers over his skin, wondering what nights like this will be like when their together in New York. Everything will be different. Better.

Frowning a little at the thought of the here and now, Blaine whispers, "I'm sorry about earlier."

Kurt lifts his head, brow furrowed in confusion as he settles his chin over Blaine's left breast.

"At the mall," Blaine clarifies quietly. "When I wouldn't hold your hand. I didn't mean-"

Blaine is silenced when Kurt leans forward quickly to kiss him.

"Shhhh. It's okay. I understand. I mean-" Kurt cuts himself off and settles back against Blaine once more, still gazing at him. He appears to be considering his words for a moment before finally saying, "I've missed it, I guess. Just holding your hand. I should have known better. This is Ohio, not New York but... At school, I see couples holding hands on campus all the time. Guys, girls. There's this couple in my Costume History class, Stephen and Robbie. They-well, they need to learn that not everyone really wants to witness their extreme PDA, but still. I can't help but be a little jealous. I want that, you know? I wish you were there so-"

"So we could stick our tongues down each other's throats while everyone watches?"

Kurt pokes him in the ribs while Blaine giggles. "No, brat. But, to at least hold hands. I just," he sighs and lays his cheek against Blaine's shoulder, "want to hold hands with you while we walk down the street to the coffee shop together. Or across the campus to the library. And I... I hate that I can't. Not yet."

"I'm sorry." And Blaine is. Ever since it hit them both that they would be separated for the year that Blaine had to finish high school, Blaine has blamed himself for not being able to leave with Kurt. Not circumstances or facts. Just himself.

"It's not your fault," Kurt murmurs, his hand moving to slide across Blaine's belly in a soothing caress. "Kyle says this separation is probably good for us. The heart growing fonder and all of that."

Blaine nods in agreement before Kurt's words sink in. "Kyle? Who's that?"

"Huh? Oh. I haven't told you about Kyle?" Kurt lifts his head again to look at Blaine, frowning a little as he shakes his head in negation. "He's a sophomore in the program. Rachel met him on our first day, and he ended up giving us a tour of the campus and stuff. He's nice. I think I've told him everything about you."

"I hope not everything. That would be a little embarrassing when I meet him next year."

Kurt rolls his eyes and beats his forehead against Blaine's shoulder playfully. "Shut up. And go to sleep. If I have to sit through football games for you tomorrow," Kurt yawns then for effect, Blaine figures, "then I'm going to need my rest."

"You're the one who woke me up," Blaine mutters, turning so that they're facing one another, legs automatically tangling together, foreheads so close they're almost touching.

Kurt smiles and closes his eyes, reaching for Blaine's hand to tangle their fingers together, holding them between their chests. "I wanted you to hold my hand," he finishes quietly.

Returning his smile, even though Kurt cannot see it, Blaine brings their entwined hands up, pressing a kiss to Kurt's fingers before laying them on the mattress between them once more. No longer sleepy, he simply gazes at Kurt in the darkness, watching as the boy/man he loves more than anything in the world drifts back to sleep, features settling peacefully.

"Not too long now," Blaine whispers softly to him, voice breaking slightly because it is long, and they both know that, and they're strong yes, but that doesn't make this easy. "Not too long, and I'll be right there with you, and nothing, nothingwill ever keep us apart again. I promise."

Blaine grabs the last book to shove into his messenger bag before his eyes drift up to the picture of him and Kurt affixed to the inside of his locker door. It had been taken by Rachel on July 4th at the Hummel-Hudson's barbecue celebration. There'd been a ton of food and music and swimming, and Kurt had refused to get into the pool until Blaine had grabbed him from behind and threw them in together. The picture had been taken shortly after they'd climbed out an hour later, having spent most of that time dunking one another under the water, and never once letting go of the other. In the photo, they're wet and laughing, Blaine with his chin on Kurt's shoulder, hugging him from behind, Kurt's head turned, looking at Blaine, laughing, with so much love in his eyes.

Kurt had only headed back to New York this morning, and already Blaine misses him terribly. Kurt had surprised Blaine by showing up at his house last night, just after Blaine had finished up his homework. He'd somehow convinced his dad that he and Blaine should be allowed to spend the last night together before he went back to school, and Burt had apparently relented. Of course, Kurt had shown up thinking Blaine had the house to himself, only to find out his mother was home. There had been only a few moments of awkwardness between them before Chesa had wished them both a good night, and headed up to bed. Blaine and Kurt had both been a bit groggy from a lack of sleep when he'd dropped Kurt off at the Hummel-Hudson residence on the way to school that morning, but it had all been worth it.

Closing his locker door, Blaine jumps slightly to find a boy standing on the other side of it, leaning against the lockers as if waiting for Blaine to acknowledge him. He has dark, curly, slightly mussed hair that's a little too long and a pale complexion with eyes a little too large, staring back at Blaine. He's wearing a black hoodie with a little logo in the corner of the right side. Blaine squints slightly in recognition, smiling a little when he realizes it's the Horde symbol from World of Warcraft.

"Hi," he greets, continuing to smile. "Is there something you need?"

"You're in glee club, right? You're like the leader or whatever."

Blaine shrugs. "I guess I'm captain, yeah. Why?"

"Saw your performance at the stupid pep rally." The boy rolls his eyes. "Anyway, my parents are giving me a lot of shit about extracurriculars and stuff for college." He pulls a face.

Blaine tries not to smile again. "So, you're interested in joining glee club?"

The boy shrugs.

Blaine holds out his hand. "I'm Blaine."

"Chandler," comes the reply as Chandler takes his hand and shakes it.

He can't help himself. "Oooh, were your parents Friendsfans?" Chandler's silence and glare are all the answer Blaine needs. He allows a smile this time. "Do you enjoy music?"

"Who doesn't?" Chandler says with another shrug. "My friend had a band I played in for a while."

"Oh? You play an instrument?"


Nodding, Blaine lays a hand on Chandler's shoulder and guides him around to walk with him down the hall toward the choir room. "And you sing?"

"Mostly in the shower. And Guitar Hero. I play a lot of Guitar Hero."

"Who doesn't?" Blaine glances over at him and grins. "Looks like you play some Warcraft, too."

"My obsession with music is only matched by my obsession with video games," Chandler admits. "RPG's mostly. I wanna be a video game programmer, hence the extracurriculars talk. My grades are okay but my parents claim I'm too anti-social." Another roll of the eyes. "You couldn't pay me to play a stupid fucking sport."

"I take it there's no Madden in your game collection."

"My uncle gave me a copy last Christmas. I use it for a coaster in my room."

Blaine laughs and gives Chandler's shoulder a pat. "I won't hold that against you."

"Wait." Chandler stops and gives Blaine the once-over. "You like sports games? Aren't you... gay?"

Blaine crosses his arms over his chest and gives Chandler the same look. "Shouldn't you be overweight and living in your parent's basement?"

"Touché." Chandler gives Blaine a brief bow of concession.

Laughing once more, Blaine continues leading Chandler toward the choir room, warning him that he'll need to give them a performance so that they know he can sing. Chandler seems to be fine with that, though he warns Blaine that he's kind of attached to the classics. Blaine can't help but be stupidly excited over what he might mean by that.

When they enter the classroom, Mr. Schuester is already talking about that week's assignment, which is to begin focusing on building their set list for Sectionals in three weeks. Blaine pauses beside the piano with Chandler beside him, catching Tina's questioning look and returning it with a grin and a slight shrug of his shoulders. Schuester apparently sees the other glee kids looking behind him because he stops mid-sentence to glance over his shoulder, brow creasing slightly in curiosity.

"Blaine," he greets with a smile, gaze shifting over to Chandler. "Who's this?"

"This," Blaine says, placing his hands on Chandler's shoulders and guiding him forward to the center of the room. "Is our newest glee club member, Chandler. Chandler, say hi to the group."

Chandler gives a brief lift of his chin and waves. "Hi, group."

"Can you sing, Chandler?" Harmony asks from where she's sitting in the front row.

Blaine gives their newest member another quick pat on the shoulder before stepping up the risers to grab his seat between Tina and Sugar, while Mr. Schuester moves out of the way to sit down in the front.

"I'm okay, I think," Chandler says, setting down his back pack and wandering over to the band members to converse with them about whatever song he plans to sing.

"Where'd you find him?" Tina asks, leaning over into Blaine's space.

"He found me, actually. Looks like our performance at the pep rally didn't go completely unnoticed."

Tina bumps his shoulder with her own. "I knew you wouldn't let us down. Oh! By the way, I think I've come up with the perfect costumes for us for Halloween. I've also convinced my aunt and uncle to let us borrow my cousin so we can her door-to-door."

Blaine raises an eyebrow, glancing at Tina as the band begins playing Genesis' "That's All". "Do I even want to know?" he whispers.

Halloween is one of Blaine's favorite times of the year. Blaine has a particular fondness for being frightened. He loves the adrenaline rush of a well-told horror movie-haunted houses and zombies being a particular favorite. And while Kurt has abhorrence for all things scary, Blaine quickly discovered a way for his boyfriend's dislike of such things to be to his advantage. That is, with the right amount of coaxing, he can convince Kurt to sit through some of his favorite scary movies and TV shows, which means an hour or two of his boyfriend cuddled close, face pressed into his shoulder, and lots of comforting afterwards. Without Kurt around this year, though, Blaine and Tina have bonded over a fondness for dressing up for the holiday, and heading over to Sugar's for a Halloween party afterward.

Tina is beaming at him as she responds, "Raggedy Ann and Andy zombies!"

Blaine's hands quickly fly to cover his face as he swallows back his laughter, and the threat of a squeal, because the idea is actually perfect, and he knows they'll look fantastic, and is a little thankful Kurt won't be there to see if because his boyfriend handles zombies about as well as he handles vampires. There will still have to be plenty of pictures taken, though.

Once he regains his composure, Blaine leans over to whisper into Tina's ear, "I don't think I could love you more, T."

"Just remember that when I ask you for your share of the candy."