Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Glee; it all belongs to 20th Century Fox, Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, et al. I write these stories purely for enjoyment; no copyright infringement is intended. The songs, of course, are not mine either, and all due credit goes to the wonderful writers and performers of those songs.

Author's Note: I apologize to all of my readers for the hiatus this story has been on. I can only say that RL has been awful, that I have been sleepless and stressed and well beyond my considerable capacity for work, and hope that you all will forgive me and continue to love this little AU of mine. As always, thanks to my lovely friend WickedForGood13 for the beta and the constant encouragement. One more chapter to go after this, lovelies.

A Warblers' Reunion – Chapter Four

As the pair of them left the stage to tremendous applause, Kurt caught sight of someone in the wings, and his happy smile became even brighter. He tugged on Blaine's hand, still in his own from the end of their performance, and Blaine made a soft noise of surprise as Kurt pulled him aside into the heavy curtains lining the stage.

"Kurt, what's going on?" Blaine asked with a little laugh, looking at Kurt's dancing eyes.

Kurt reached out for Blaine's other hand and clasped both of his partner's hands in his own. "All of our planning for this reunion has been about surprises – mostly surprising Wes and David," Kurt acknowledged with a grin, "but not just surprises for them. I have a surprise for you, too."

Blaine lifted his eyebrows inquiringly, and Kurt could see the curiosity and excitement in them. "What did you do?"

Kurt turned and beckoned to the shadowy figure he had seen, and as the person stepped into the dim light, Blaine's heart leapt into his throat.

"Cooper!" he cried, flinging himself into his brother's arms. Cooper laughed and caught him, spinning Blaine around in a hug before setting him down.

"Coop, what are you doing here?" Blaine exclaimed. "You're supposed to be in California – you're supposed to be in the middle of filming!"

"I was," Cooper said mischievously, "but I used my natural charm and persuaded them to give us a day off. I wasn't about to miss this."

Blaine laughed again, joy radiating from his expression. "I can't believe it," he said incredulously. He looked over at Kurt, who was smiling fondly at the brothers' interaction. "How did you make this happen?"

"I knew you would want him to be here for this," Kurt said quietly, beaming at Cooper. "I called and told him about our plans, and he pulled a million strings to actually get here."

Blaine's eyes filled with tears, and he reached up to hug Cooper again. "Thank you. I'm so glad you're here," he murmured.

Cooper hugged Blaine closely in return. "I promised you, didn't I? I meant that promise, Blaine."

Blaine nodded against his shoulder. "I know."

Blaine hugged Cooper tightly as they stood in the security line at Port Columbus International Airport. Even though Cooper had lost his audition for the Michael Bay film, he had commitments in Los Angeles that he had to keep. He had booked a flight that would get him back to California the same morning he had to be back, just so that he could stay with Blaine as long as possible.

"I'm going to hold you to what you said in the auditorium," Blaine said, his voice muffled against Cooper's shoulder.

"What, about teaching you proper technique so you can be a star?" Cooper said teasingly, ruffling Blaine's hair.

"No, idiot," Blaine grumbled, halfheartedly shoving at Cooper's shoulder even though he didn't loosen his other arm, which was around Cooper's waist. He raised his head to look at Cooper, and Cooper's heart twisted at the vulnerability in his brother's eyes.

"Friends, right?" Blaine asked softly, hesitating over the words. "I don't – I don't want to lose you again, Coop."

For once, Cooper thought, he had to do this right. He swallowed down his usual impulses to deflect and make light of serious moments, and he took Blaine by the shoulders.

"Listen to me, B," he said solemnly. "It doesn't matter where I am, or where you are; we are always brothers and always friends. I haven't been there for you the way I should have been, but that stops right now. I will be there when you graduate next year. I will be there for as many holidays as we can manage. I will be there when you marry that gorgeous, adorable boyfriend of yours – don't bother to deny it," he grinned as Blaine blushed, smiling shyly and ducking his head. "I see how you look at him. I want to be there for all of it, B, for the good and the bad, and I will be, I promise. Anytime you need me, just call, okay?"

"Okay," Blaine nodded, hugging his brother again. "I'm going to miss you, Coop. I'm glad you came back."

"I'm glad I did too," Cooper said quietly, kissing the top of Blaine's head just as the boarding call for his flight came over the speakers.

"Besides," Cooper added, pulling back from their hug just a bit to grin at his brother, "I am a Dalton alumni and a former Warbler as well, even though I might not be the most famous Anderson to graduate from this institution. I'll just say I decided to crash the party."

"Don't be ridiculous; of course you are the most famous," Blaine said, rolling his eyes. "How many people watch your show every week?"

"Oh, a few million," Cooper said casually. "But I'm only on the small screen, baby bro; I can't claim to be either in Hollywood dramas or Broadway revivals."

"Not yet," Blaine said thoughtfully. "Maybe we need to work on that."

Cooper's eyebrows went up. "I'm all ears."

"Can you two be all ears with each other after the Warblers' number?" Kurt asked in fond exasperation. He took Blaine by the arm and tugged him toward the stage. "You. Singing. Sophomore choir. Go."

Blaine laughed, walking toward the Warbler alums who were starting to assemble on the stage and blowing a kiss at Kurt before straightening his blazer.

"Totally worth it," Cooper murmured.

"You knew it would be," Kurt said, smiling at him. "Come on. We'll have a better view from our table."

Kurt led the way down into the auditorium, navigating his way through the chairs until he was back where Rachel, Mercedes, Sebastian, and Colin were sitting. Wes and David were up on stage with Blaine, as were Jeff and Nick, so it was only the six of them for the moment.

Colin whistled when he caught sight of Cooper. "Kurt, who is this Adonis you have brought among us?"

"Oh, my God, don't feed his ego," Kurt moaned, burying his face in his hands. "He doesn't need it to be any larger, believe me."

"Cooper!" the girls cried, and before Cooper knew what was happening, he found himself surrounded by Rachel and Mercedes.

"Whoa, whoa, ladies, easy," he chuckled, wrapping an arm around each woman and bringing them close. "I missed you, too."

Rachel and Mercedes had both developed strong attachments to Cooper once he reappeared in Blaine's life. What had initially been schoolgirl crushes had turned into sincere sisterly affection, though Cooper knew that they were both right behind Kurt when it came to defending Blaine. Each of them had called him up to talk some blunt sense into him more than once, and while they occasionally drove him crazy, he wouldn't trade their love and scolding for the world.

"Kurt got you to come, didn't he?" Rachel demanded, turning around and swatting the arm of her best friend. "You didn't say a word!"

Kurt shrugged, unrepentant and grinning. "Surprises are better."

"Blaine had to be over the moon when he saw you!" Mercedes exclaimed, glancing up at the stage to Blaine's bright smile in the Warblers' chorus.

Cooper laughed. "That's one way of putting it."

Seeing the complete confusion on the faces of Colin and Sebastian, Cooper took pity on them and stretched out a hand. "Cooper Anderson. Dalton alum, actor, and original shining star of the Anderson family."

Colin's eyes went wide. "Cooper! You're Blaine's brother Cooper?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Cooper said wickedly. "Little guy never leaves me alone."

"Behave!" Kurt reprimanded him, but he couldn't help smiling.

"Colin Campbell," Colin introduced himself, and he and Cooper shook hands. "I was one of Blaine's flatmates at RADA."

"Oh, you're that Colin," Cooper said with a grin. "I'm glad to finally meet you. Blaine used to tell me hilarious stories about you."

Colin laughed. "I work very hard to entertain. Oh, Cooper, this is my boyfriend Sebastian Smythe," he said, introducing Sebastian.

Sebastian smiled, and Kurt saw a glimpse of the old Sebastian from high school, though the smile was much more flirtatious and much less predatory. "Pleasure to meet you," he said admiringly. "What is it with the Anderson family genes?"

"Just lucky, I guess," Cooper chuckled. "I have my dad's coloring, and Blaine looks more like Mom, but we both got the smiles and facial structure."

"I'll say," Sebastian murmured, and Colin nudged him, grinning.

"Easy, darlin'," he said. "I don't think Cooper plays for our team."

Cooper shrugged, smirking. "My loss."

Kurt shook his head. "Be thankful Blaine is up there and not down here to be a witness to this," he said. "He would be mortified."

"It's all in good fun, Kurt," Cooper laughed. "Besides, embarrassing Blaine is one of my favorite pastimes. I'm missing a golden opportunity here."

"You're hopeless," Kurt said affectionately. "Make yourself useful and come help me carry some drinks, would you?"

"Sure," Cooper said easily, and he followed Kurt in the direction of the bar. Kurt stopped them, however, just before they reached the long lines in front of the bartenders, and put his hand on Cooper's forearm.

"Cooper, I'm only telling you this so that no one shocks you with it later and you react badly," Kurt said seriously. "Doesn't the name Sebastian ring a bell with you?"

Cooper's brows knitted as he thought. "Sebastian," he murmured. His eyes suddenly shot open to stare at Kurt, and Kurt saw his jaw tighten. "Not that Sebastian!? The one that tried to blind Blaine your senior year?"

"That's him, but –" Kurt started, reaching out a placating hand.

"That little punk!" Cooper seethed. "He was flirting with me! I'm going to go show him what happens when people hurt my brother, I swear –"

"No, you're not," Kurt said firmly, taking him firmly by the arm and dragging him to an alcove. "You listen to me, Cooper Anderson. Sebastian is different now; he just had a very heartfelt talk with your brother and with me that was clearly difficult for him. He came here to apologize and try to be friends, and considering everything that happened between all of us, and everything that he's been through to even get to this point, that was an incredibly brave thing for him to do. You are not going out there and undoing all of that good for something that happened ten years ago and is water under the bridge."

Cooper glared at Kurt for a long minute before he sighed, unclenching his jaw and gently extracting his arm from Kurt's grip. "I'm okay. It's a good thing you told me, though."

"I can't imagine what made me think you would react badly if someone sprang it on you," Kurt said, his voice heavy with sarcasm.

"No idea," Cooper said, attempting to adopt his usual breezy tone, but not quite managing it.

"You're really okay?" Kurt questioned. "I'm not going to have to hold you back from throwing our drinks in Sebastian's face?"

"Darn, you saw through my master plan," Cooper joked halfheartedly. "It would have had such a nice, vindictive symmetry, too."

Kurt poked him in the upper arm. "Sebastian is a better person now. Be nice."

"You think he's a better person," Cooper muttered.

"Yes, I think he is, and he deserves that chance. He's dating one of Blaine's good friends from London; are you really going to risk Blaine's wrath by hurting Colin's boyfriend? And just for the record, Blaine would be equally as upset if he wasn't Colin's boyfriend."

"Would you?" Cooper said keenly.

Kurt sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Look, when I remember the boy that he was – I was so angry about what he did to Blaine, and I thought of all kinds of ways to get back at him for it. Even then, I couldn't do it. I had spent half my life being bullied, Cooper, and I couldn't bring myself to do anything physical or vengeful to the boy who had almost irreparably damaged the love of my life. I don't know if that makes me a good person. I just knew, somewhere in my heart, that it wasn't right to repay violence with more violence. And as it turns out, our non-violent intervention with the Warblers was what got Sebastian to see where his life was going. I couldn't have predicted that, but – I don't want to see anything bad happen to him. I might have been able to do it, then. I was certainly angry enough. I didn't, though – and Sebastian seems to genuinely have changed. He cares about Colin, and Colin cares about him. Anyone can see that. Sebastian came here and apologized to us. Isn't being friends with him, after all this time, so much better and more beautiful than revenge?"

Cooper was silent for a minute. "You are a good person, Kurt," he said quietly. "More than most of us, I sometimes think. I wouldn't have my brother back if it wasn't for you, and I never forget that."

"Thank you," Kurt said solemnly. "But you give me too much credit. You would have mended things, eventually. I just gave you a shove."

"A much-needed shove," Cooper retorted. "We could have been stymied for another decade if it had been totally left up to us. Blaine internalizes too much, and I was too self-absorbed – and too ashamed."

"I can't possibly compare to Blaine," Kurt said softly, looking up at the stage where the current group of Warblers, including Blaine, were taking their bows. "He's the kindest, most compassionate person I've ever known. He always has been."

"Me too," Cooper said, giving Kurt a one-armed hug and a smile. "But he's a stronger, more confident person for loving you and being loved by you, Kurt. Don't ever doubt that. I see it every time I see you two together."

Kurt nodded, and Cooper gave his bicep a squeeze. "Come on," the elder Anderson said. "Let's get those drinks, and we'll be just in time to catch the banter between Blaine and Colin. Plus, my adorable female fan club is waiting for me."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Rachel and Mercedes don't let you get away with anything, Cooper," he said emphatically. "And thank goodness for that. As if you needed anyone else fawning over you."

"They're both refreshingly direct and critical, it's true," Cooper chuckled. "Part of why I love them – not that I would ever tell them that," he added hastily, and Kurt chuckled.

"You'd get an overdose of direct and critical if you did – and I know how that would wound your fragile ego," Kurt needled him. Cooper just grinned, and the two of them stepped in line, waiting patiently until they could obtain drinks for the table. They used trays to carry back all of the glasses, working their way through the crowd, and when they came back to the others, all the rest of the former Warblers had returned from the stage.

Kurt slid an arm over Blaine's shoulders as he handed Blaine his tall glass of water, and Blaine beamed at him.

"Thank you, love. It will help since I'm supposed to solo next," he said, and Kurt nodded and placed a kiss on his hair.

"I know," he said with a smile. "We don't want you to be dehydrated."

Blaine smiled back and kissed him, and Colin made obvious gagging noises from his place at the table.

"Really, could you two be any more saccharine?" he said, but the sarcasm was colored with fondness, and Blaine merely rolled his eyes.

"You two are welcome to be just as annoying," he said, shooting a saucy grin at Colin and Sebastian. "No one is stopping you."

Sebastian snorted. "Not everyone can pull off adorable the way you two can. Though I'd be willing to try for scandalously hot," he said suggestively, aiming his comment at Colin.

"Aaand there's the Sebastian we know," Kurt drawled, but without any heat behind it. Sebastian just smirked at him, and Colin leaned over to give him a heated kiss.

"Later, darlin'," he said, his voice low. "I'll be sure to take you up on that. However, somehow I have a feeling we want to stick around for this," he said, sitting back and giving Blaine and Kurt a questioning stare.

Kurt shrugged with feigned innocence, and Blaine smiled. "Wait and see," he said. He stood up, taking one more long drink of water as he did so, and pulled his tuxedo jacket from the back of his chair. Wordlessly, he held out a hand to Kurt, and Kurt took it with a soft smile, the two of them clearly having an entire conversation in the space of a few seconds.

"How do they do that?" Sebastian wondered aloud, watching them go.

Nick laughed at him gently, giving him a genuine smile. "Being with someone for over ten years can do that to you. Jeff and I can do it, too, though we're not usually quite so obvious about it."

"What Kurt and Blaine have is special, though," Jeff added solemnly. "You're not imagining that. Nick and I were together before they were, and we saw them falling for each other, but even we were surprised by how . . . intense things were between them, right from the beginning."

Colin reached out and took his boyfriend's hand. "It's like they need each other to breathe," he observed, his voice quiet and almost reverential, Sebastian thought. "I was there when Blaine found out Kurt was sick, right before his year at RADA ended, and I've never . . . I don't ever want to see someone look that shattered, ever again."

Sebastian looked from his boyfriend to Cooper to Rachel, his entire face posing a question and a surprisingly painful feeling tugging at his heart. "Kurt was sick? What happened?"

He watched as the expressions of everyone at the table darkened. It was Cooper who finally spoke.

"I've never been so frightened for anyone in my entire life," he whispered. "I am so, so thankful that Kurt was strong enough to come back to Blaine. I don't know what would have happened if he hadn't."

As Kurt and Blaine walked toward the stage hand in hand, Kurt leaned over and planted a kiss on Blaine's cheek.

"Do you want me down on the floor or in the wings?" he asked, and Blaine squeezed his hand gratefully.

"In the wings, please," he requested. "I'll be able to see you better."

"You wish is my command," Kurt said lightly, but Blaine could hear the profound tenderness in his voice and simply squeezed his hand again.

The two of them made their way to the wings, only to find that David had somehow slipped away and reached the stage ahead of them. He smiled at the pair and gave Blaine a thumbs up.

"Are you ready to do this?" he asked, and Blaine nodded.

"As I'll ever be," he answered. David patted his shoulder encouragingly, knowing that it wasn't like Blaine to be nervous, and went out to the stage to introduce him. Suddenly Kurt was in front of him, framing Blaine's face in his hands.

"I'm here, and I love you," he murmured. "Just remember that. I'm here. I'm fine."

Blaine reached forward and pulled Kurt into his arms, kissing him deeply and twining his hands in Kurt's hair. Kurt responded in kind, pulling him close and returning the kiss until they were both breathless and dizzy.

"I know you are," Blaine whispered. "I'm grateful for it every day. I love you so much."

"I love you too," Kurt whispered, giving him another quick kiss. "Here," he said, handing Blaine a bottle of water that he found nearby. "Take another sip of that."

Blaine took a couple of long swallows, straightened his jacket, and then gave Kurt a smile as clapping started from the audience and David re-appeared, motioning for him to go on. He strode out to the stage confidently and took a deep breath as he sat down at the piano. He could feel Kurt's eyes on him from the wings of the stage, and he focused on the feeling of that loving gaze and on the black and white keys in front of him. He struck the opening chords.

When it rains it pours and opens doors
That flood the floors we thought would always keep us safe and dry
And in the midst of sailing ships we sink our lips into the ones we love
That have to say goodbye

And as I float along this ocean
I can feel you like a notion that won't seem to let me go

He had chosen this song for a reason; it expressed one of the most wonderful and most terrible times of his life simultaneously, following as they had one on top of the other. The spring he and Kurt had finished at NYADA, Blaine had been accepted to a year-long residence program at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. It was a goal he had pursued with absolute single-mindedness; he wanted the training in dramatic acting as well as musical theater, and there was no better place for that than RADA, with its British theater traditions that were centuries old. Kurt had supported him from the beginning, encouraging him to apply and to follow his dreams, but once the acceptance became a reality, the knowledge that they would have to be apart for a solid year was tremendously difficult for both of them. Blaine had adored London from the moment he had stepped off the plane in Heathrow, but the ache of missing Kurt was with him every day, and he knew Kurt had felt the same way. There had been endless e-mails between the two of them, and Skype chats at all hours as they negotiated both the time difference and their busy schedules.

'Cause when I look to the sky something tells me you're here with me
And you make everything all right
When I feel like I'm lost something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here

They had both worked tremendously hard that late summer and fall, Blaine in classes and two major productions, Kurt in several small roles and as a costuming assistant for several other shows. Blaine had been challenged more than he had ever imagined and loved every minute of it, but there were days when he had been plagued with fatigue and doubt, longing for home and familiar places and Kurt. Kurt was his strength on those days, even when he wasn't physically present; all Blaine had to do was remember the faith that he saw in Kurt's eyes every day when they were together, and he would attack the work with a new determination. On the overscheduled days when they couldn't talk to each other, Blaine could hear Kurt's voice in his head, encouraging him, pushing him, offering suggestions, and he cherished the feeling of having Kurt with him, even though he was across an ocean, over three thousand miles away.

And every word I didn't say caught up in some busy day
And every dance on the kitchen floor we didn't have before
And every sunset that we'll miss I'll wrap them all up in a kiss
And pick you up in all of this when I sail away

And while I float upon this ocean
I can feel you like a notion that I hope will never leave

Kurt had contrived to come to London for Christmas, surprising Blaine. They had tried to make up for every missed kiss, every night spent without each other, in seven days that were filled to the brim with holiday sightseeing, lovemaking, and coffee dates. Blaine took Kurt to all of his favorite spots in the city – Notes Music and Coffee in Covent Garden; The Dog and Duck Pub in Soho, which was always crowded but full of friendly people; the top of St. Paul's Cathedral, full of breathtaking views; Hampstead Heath with its beautiful meadows, stunning even in winter; the Westminster Abbey Poet's Corner, with monuments to some of the most beloved authors in English; and Dress Circle, which Blaine had brought Kurt to as a particular surprise. The music shop had been in business for thirty years and specialized in London and Broadway musical theater and memorabilia. Kurt had adored it, carefully picking out CDs of Broadway and London casts to round out his already extensive collection.

Despite everything they had done, however, they both cherished most the opportunity just to be together and re-memorize each other, storing up touches, kisses, tender words, and joyful smiles. They knew they had another six months to get through before they would be together again permanently – and neither of them could have anticipated the wrenching homecoming that Blaine had experienced. That one beautiful, magical week had, it seemed to Blaine, given them strength for what was to come.

The spring term had been even busier – Blaine had landed the leading role of Claudio in RADA's production of Much Ado About Nothing, and Kurt had been part of a revival production of A Chorus Line. Their Skype sessions grew harder to schedule, and both of them were progressively more exhausted as the semester wore on. For the opening night of Much Ado, Kurt had sent Blaine a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, though he had not been able to leave his own show to come to Blaine's performances. He insisted on seeing the video of the production as soon as Blaine could get it to him. The first time they managed to talk after Much Ado closed, a drained but triumphant Blaine had sat in front of his computer to greet his boyfriend, only to be shocked by how haggard Kurt had looked.

"Blaine, I'm fine. I'm just tired; the show has been grueling."

"You're not fine, Kurt; you look like you could keel over any minute, and you haven't been eating. I can tell that you've lost weight; you look like a stick."

"I eat when I have time; I just don't have time," Kurt said tiredly. "The dance rehearsals have been endless; you know how much dancing happens in A Chorus Line. There are days that I've been at the theater for twelve solid hours, then gone back and done it all over again the next day. We were doing that for weeks before we opened. Eight shows a week is almost a relief."

"Please try to sleep and eat," Blaine begged. "You look terrible. I'm going to be home in six weeks, and I will take care of you then, I promise, but please try to take care of yourself in the meantime."

"I'll try," Kurt said with a wan smile. "I love you. Tell me about the closing, and the cast party, and everything."

Four weeks after that conversation had come the phone call that had turned Blaine's world upside down. Burt had called him at the flat he shared with Colin and two other RADA classmates, and when one of his flatmates had come to get him, his heart had dropped through the floor.

"Blaine," Sophie said, coming into the living room of their flat where he was chatting with Philip. Her pretty face was anxious, her lips turned down in a worried frown. "Kurt's father is on the phone."

"Burt?" Blaine said in surprise. He stood up abruptly, all the blood draining from his face as he looked at Sophie. "Soph, what's wrong?"

"I don't know," she whispered. "He just asked me to get you, luv, but he doesn't sound good."

Blaine ran down the short flight of stairs into the kitchen, seizing the phone from where it lay on the counter.

"Burt?" he said worriedly into the receiver. "Burt, what's happened? I'm so sorry I didn't have my phone on; it was out of battery. Please tell me Kurt's okay, please tell me nothing's happened, I've been so worried about him –"

"Breathe, Blaine," Burt said firmly, and Blaine stopped talking, gripping the countertop until his knuckles were white and taking slow breaths. Sophie appeared at his elbow, rubbing his back, while Colin and Philip hovered uncertainly in the doorway.

"Kurt's fine for now, but he's in the hospital here in New York," Burt continued slowly, once he was sure Blaine was calm enough to take the news. "He fainted during rehearsal yesterday, and it's – it's not good, kiddo."

Blaine felt his eyes fill with tears, and he tightened his lips, trying to control the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm him. The conditional "for now" terrified him, and Burt sounded absolutely exhausted.

By the time he was done talking with Burt, Blaine could only remember the key words of the conversation.

Kurt. Hospital. Bacterial meningitis. Exhaustion. Serious fever. Delirium.

He was dimly aware that Sophie's soothing touch on his back hadn't stopped, but he could barely hear Sophie's gentle inquiry through the roaring in his ears.

"Blaine, luv, what's happened?" she said worriedly. "What's wrong with Kurt?"

"He's in the hospital," Blaine choked out. "He has bacterial meningitis. It's – it's really serious, Soph. I have to go home, they – they don't know if he'll – Oh, God. Kurt."

Sophie gave a small cry of dismay at the news, and suddenly Blaine's legs gave from underneath him. Colin was there, catching him under the arms, before Blaine even realized he was falling; the Scotsman's long legs had made it across the room in two strides. Blaine sank to the floor with Colin supporting him, tears sliding down his cheeks as he tried to process what was happening. Kurt. His Kurt. His Kurt was in the hospital, so ill that they didn't know whether or not he would live.

Sophie regained her composure almost instantly when she saw how distressed he was, shifting into caretaker mode. She knelt next to him, clasping his hands, and Blaine realized he was still gripping the phone receiver in a death grip. Sophie took it from him gently and looked over his shoulder at Philip, who disappeared for a moment and returned with Blaine's cell phone, which had been charging in the living room. Colin settled on the floor next to him, keeping an arm around his shoulders.

"Blaine, sweetheart, who do you need? Who can we call for you?" Sophie said coaxingly. Blaine knew she was trying to get him to focus, and somewhere in his mind he recognized that he was on the verge of panicking. That wouldn't help Kurt. He had to be able to function long enough to get home.

He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then did it again. When he finally spoke, he hardly recognized his own voice. He sounded hoarse and terrified and young.

"Cooper," he said desperately, reaching out and taking his phone from Colin. "I need Cooper."

Cooper had dropped everything to come to New York and be with Blaine, wheedling and arguing and calling in favors to give himself eight days away from L. A. Luckily, Blaine had only had two weeks left at RADA, and given the seriousness of Kurt's condition, his professors were willing to arrange for his final, evaluative interviews to be done over the phone. Sophie, Philip, and Colin had been invaluable, booking flights for him, promising to pack up and ship his possessions that couldn't go on the plane, and making sure he ate and drank over the two days that it took to arrange his departure. Sleep was almost impossible. Carole and Cooper had both met him at LaGuardia, and they took him directly to the hospital, knowing that it would be fruitless to try and persuade him to do anything else. Blaine sat at Kurt's bedside for days on end, praying to any powers in the universe that the man he loved with all his heart would come back to him.

'Cause when I look to the sky something tells me you're here with me
And you make everything all right
And when I feel like I'm lost something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way

Whether I am up or down or in or out or just plain overhead instead
It feels like it's impossible to fly
But with you I can spread my wings
To see me over everything that life may send me
When I'm hoping it won't pass me by

When I feel like there's no one that will ever know me
There you are to show me

If Blaine had needed any more certainty about how much he loved Kurt and how much he truly wanted to spend the rest of his life with him, he found it in the two weeks that it had taken Kurt to return to consciousness, in every moment that he spent memorizing the contours of Kurt's face, the exact coloring and softness of his fair skin, and the feel of Kurt's hand in his. Every moment that Kurt wasn't with him only made Blaine realize anew how much he had to lose.

Kurt was his touchstone, his other half, the one person who knew him inside and out and loved him for everything he was. Kurt knew his failings, his weak points, and his fears, and not only didn't blame him for them, but never exploited them, never used them against him. Blaine cherished every quirk, every small, odd, unconventional, and beautiful thing that made Kurt uniquely Kurt, and he couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like to try and live without the person who had become such an integral part of his being. He would have been utterly lost.

Kurt's eventual recovery had been slow, but nevertheless steady, and they had been overwhelmed with offers of help and support. Rachel spent every spare minute she had at Kurt's bedside, Carole stayed on even after Burt had to go back to Washington, their friends from NYADA had taken turns coming in to entertain Kurt and give Blaine time to eat and shower, and even Finn and Jennifer had shown up for an extended vacation of sorts. Since it was still summer, they both had some time to come to New York, and Kurt and Blaine had been grateful for their generally cheerful demeanors and willing caretaking.

After a great deal of persuasion by Kurt, Blaine had gradually started auditioning again, but not for anything that started immediately – he scoured the casting calls for shows that were starting two or three months in the future, and came home every night to make dinner and curl up with Kurt, taking comfort in simply hearing Kurt's heartbeat next to his ear. They created their own cocoon of safe space during those weeks, being gentle and considerate of each other to a degree that was unusual even for them, and rediscovering the myriad reasons they had fallen in love to begin with. They had dusted off their hopes and dreams, remembering why they had chosen their respective paths and the things they wanted to accomplish together. After the agonizing weeks at the hospital, Blaine felt as though he had been given a doubly precious gift – not only was Kurt alive and recovering, but also they had been given the chance to refocus, reprioritize, and strengthen their life together and their love for each other.

They made love again the night after Kurt went for his final check-up and was pronounced perfectly well and able to resume a normal schedule and normal physical activity; the doctor only cautioned him against sleep deprivation in order to prevent a relapse. They went to their favorite Italian restaurant to celebrate, and the owner had greeted them both with hugs and smiles, bringing them to their favorite table in the back corner and insisting on treating them to a bottle of wine. They indulged in everything over the two hours that followed, letting the wine warm their cheeks, letting their touches linger, permitting themselves the cannoli they both loved but almost never ordered, feeding each other bites and laughing as the filling left small traces on their fingers and lips.

On the walk to the subway and during the train ride home, they were pressed close together, hands twined together and arms wound around shoulders and hips, silent promises made with the tightening of fingers and the brush of soft kisses to temples and necks. Once they made it home and were safely ensconced in their bedroom, they removed each other's layers in nearly complete silence, aside from the occasional soft gasp or moan, a need for air or a touch to a sensitive spot. They spoke mostly with their eyes, and every inch of skin was re-explored, relearned, worshipped anew with a reverence that was almost painful, as they both tried to communicate their love and thankfulness for what had been saved, as well as the haunting awareness of what might have been lost.

As Blaine moved into the final chorus of the song, he struggled against the tears in his eyes, concentrating on the piano and the lyrics with renewed emotion as the memory of that night came back to him, overwhelming him with gratitude and love.

When I look to the sky something tells me you're here with me
And you make everything all right
And when I feel like I'm lost something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here.

When I look to the sky something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here.
And when I feel like I'm lost something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here.

He struck the final chords and bowed to deafening applause, smiling appreciatively and trying not to let his tears fall, but every bit of his sensory awareness was focused on Kurt, waiting in the wings for him, on the invisible cord that bound them together, that he could always feel pulling them back to each other.

When the applause lessened and Blaine could make his escape, he was in Kurt's arms in a few quick steps, breathing in Kurt's scent and holding him tightly, his face buried into the juncture between Kurt's neck and shoulder.

"No matter what else happens to us," he whispered, his voice breaking over the tightness in his throat, "I love you, Kurt Hummel. I've always loved you. I always will love you. Please don't leave me again."

"Not if I have anything to say about it," Kurt murmured back. He rested a hand on the back of Blaine's head and kissed the hair near his temple. "I'm yours forever, Blaine Anderson. You couldn't get rid of me if you tried."