Blaine woke up on the floor groggy and sore, with vague recollections of Simon crashing his and Kurt's impromptu date night.

Simon was still sleeping on the couch, but Kurt was nowhere to be seen. Blaine hauled himself off the floor and went in search for his boyfriend, stretching his arms up over his head as he walked.

He found Kurt sitting on the bed, his hair slightly damp from showering. Blaine smiled at him.

'Hey, babe,' he greeted him, and Kurt gave him a fleeting smile, 'are you feeling better today?'

Kurt nodded, but it wasn't very convincing, so Blaine wrapped his arms around him and held him tightly for a few moments. Eventually, he felt Kurt's arms circle around his waist and his head lean against his chest. Blaine laced his fingers into the damp hair, twirling it around his fingers.

'I'm okay.' Kurt spoke up after a while, and smiled up at Blaine, who kissed his forehead.

'Good. I'm going to have a shower, and you should wake Simon up, because if we're late to shooting it'll be our heads, alright?'

After kissing him on the cheek lightly, Kurt wandered out of the room to wake Simon, and Blaine headed to the bathroom.

The scalding water did wonders for the knots in his back, but he still felt somewhat horrible. Kurt looked so sad, and he didn't know how to cheer him up. He wasn't sure whether talking would help him, or if Kurt even wanted to talk. He just wanted to see Kurt smile; a genuine smile. He was learning to tell the difference between Kurt's fake smiles and his real ones. He missed seeing his eyes light up.

Ugh, he thought, rinsing the shampoo from his hair, I'm such a sentimental bastard lately. But I do need to cheer Kurt up. Pronto.

Honestly, he still had a lot to learn about Kurt. He knew the basics; his family, his favourite designer, his favourite flavour of ice cream. But not the important things. They were still developing that stage of their relationship.

He needed someone who would be able to cheer Kurt up in ways he couldn't.

And then it hit him.

He turned the tap off and rubbed at his hands and face with a towel quickly, before poking half his body out of the shower to reach for his phone. After a few taps, he raised the phone to his ear.

'Hello? Rachel? It's Blaine. I – no – I'm in the shower. Not like that! I need a favour.'

If anyone could cheer Kurt up, it was Rachel Berry, who apparently could clear her schedule in a heartbeat to be flown up to New York to surprise her best friend.

Of course, Blaine hadn't exactly cleared it with Simon first; he had sort of stolen his frequent flyer points to buy Rachel the first available flight to New York and ordered that she be driven to the set when she arrived. It would take around two and a half hours all up, and then Blaine would be able to see Kurt smile again.

He was jittery on set, more excited than anything else. Kurt was primarily shooting, and since his courtroom scene he seemed to act with a new vigor; with the talent both Blaine and Simon had sworn up and down that he had.

At around eleven o'clock, he received a text message from Rachel, who had apparently just pulled up on set. They were on coffee break, with Kurt trying to peek at Blaine's phone screen, when Blaine kissed him on the head and excused himself.

'This'll only take a minute,' he promised, 'apparently they accidentally tore some of my costume or something, I'll be right back.'

Kurt didn't question the excuse, though he didn't seem so convinced, and Blaine smiled at him quickly before heading to the entrance of the set where the car park was. He was excited to see Rachel himself – her personality and attitude was infectious.

She stood next to the car, waiting, her smile threatening to break her face in half. She looked more at home in New York than Blaine had ever seen her back in Lima, and he had only seen her for a few seconds. She spotted him and her smile grew wider, something Blaine didn't think possible, before she ran up to him and threw his arms around him tightly.

'Blaine, how are you?' she asked, squeezing Blaine briefly before drawing back to observe him, 'you look great!'

'You too, Rachel,' Blaine replied, his hands still holding her by the waist. He smiled brightly at her, 'I'm really glad you're here.'

'I've missed Kurt.' Rachel told him, and her eyes softened, 'I'm so sad to hear he's having trouble here. This was both of our dreams; it's hard to think that he isn't enjoying himself.'

'Maybe he just needs his best friend back.' Blaine remarked, and Rachel's smile returned, along with another tight hug. He held her tight, glad she was there now, before he spotted a flash in front of him, and his heart sunk.


He groaned internally, and drew away from Rachel.

'Let's go inside, yeah?' he suggested, letting go of her and taking her hand instead, 'I'm sure you're dying to see Kurt.'

'Of course!'

He led the way back inside, only half listening to Rachel prattling along. He hadn't even thought about paparazzi; of course there was going to be all sorts of rumors circulating about the two of them. He suppressed a sigh; what would that mean for him and Kurt, if everyone thought he was with his best friend?

He could only hope that nothing came of the pictures.

He reached the room where he and Kurt had been sitting, and he stopped Rachel.

'Wait a little bit, okay?'

Rachel nodded and bounced on the balls of her feet, obviously excited. Blaine slipped back into the room, where Kurt was still drinking his coffee.

'You took a while.' he remarked, and Blaine kissed him apologetically.

'I'm sorry, honey. I had to stop and get you something.'

'Get me something?' Kurt repeated, sounding interested and looking Blaine over to see if he was hiding something, 'get me what?'

'I left it in the hall,' Blaine replied, and Kurt frowned, confused, 'hang on, wait right here and close your eyes.'

Kurt reluctantly covered his eyes with his hands, his brow furrowed. Blaine grinned and slipped back into the hall, taking Rachel's hand again and motioning for her to be quiet. He popped his head back into the room to make sure Kurt still had his eyes covered.

'Hurry up, Blaine,' Kurt whined.

He led Rachel into the room, making sure that she was careful to tread quietly. She grinned at the sight of Kurt, even in his sickly makeup, looking as though she would explode at any given moment.

'Okay, open your eyes!' Blaine told Kurt cheerfully, and Kurt's hands fell away from his eyes. As soon as he spotted Rachel, the two shrieked in unison and Kurt was up in an instant, beaming and throwing his arms around Rachel.

'What are you doing here?' he cried, looking Rachel up and down, 'this is… amazing!'

'Blaine's idea.' Rachel replied, grinning, 'he thought you could use some cheering up!'

'Blaine, this was your idea?' Kurt asked, looking over Rachel's shoulder at Blaine, who was hanging back, watching the scene before him fondly. He nodded in answer to the question, and not even a moment later he felt Kurt's lips crash against his, the force of Kurt's body slamming into him almost knocking over.

'Um, Kurt?' Rachel squeaked, and Blaine remembered that Rachel didn't know about their relationship. Kurt turned to her sheepishly, his cheeks bright pink.

'Oh yeah, we're dating.' he told her, and Rachel's mouth dropped open.

'And you didn't tell me?' she shrieked. Kurt bit his lip.

'I'm sorry; we're keeping it a secret.' he replied, 'so you have to keep it quiet too, okay?'

Rachel opened her mouth to reply, but simply raised her eyebrow and closed her mouth, looking vaguely amused and very suspicious.

'Okay, I'll tell you everything!' Kurt relented, and he all but bounced back to her side so they could have an excited whispered discussion.

As this was happening, Blaine's phone vibrated in his pocket and he opened a text message from Simon, which contained a link to a popular gossip blog along with the message '?'.

He opened the link and after the page loaded, he squeezed his eyes shut and willed himself to not throw his phone. There was a photo of him and Rachel, barely fifteen minutes old, embracing, grinning at each other. To those who didn't know what was going on, it almost looked as though they were in an intimate embrace. Accompanying the picture was a short article about new love interests and the identity of the 'small, pretty girl'.

'Honey, what's wrong?' Kurt asked suddenly. Blaine's annoyance must have shown on his face, but he forced a smile and shook his head.

'Nothing.' he assured him, tucking his phone back into his pocket, 'you two catch up. I'm going to go find Simon. Kurt, I'll come get you when you need to shoot again.'

He knew he wouldn't be missed, because Rachel and Kurt had a lot to talk about, which gave him plenty of time to talk to Simon.

'Cory, where's Simon?' he shouted at the nearest crew member who he actually knew. Cory pointed him in the direction of bathrooms.

Simon was washing his hands when Blaine entered, and he looked at him disdainfully through the mirror.

'What's with the photo, Blaine?' he asked, raising an eyebrow, 'is that Rachel? What's she doing in New York?'

'Ugh, I flew her in to surprise Kurt because he wasn't feeling well,' Blaine explained, 'and we hugged and I guess people are speculating.'

Simon sighed and rolled his eyes, drying his hands with a paper towel.

'At least this takes the heat off of me and Kurt?' Blaine remarked, determined to see the bright side of the situation. Simon turned to face him, surprised.

'And you really want that?' he asked, 'do you want to be Kurt's boyfriend, Blaine, or Rachel's?'

'Kurt's.' Blaine replied automatically, confused, 'I don't get it. I thought it would be bad publicity.'

'To hell with publicity.' Simon grumbled, 'it's about time we reached a point where we can be open about who we love.'

'Things not going well with Monika?' Blaine asked gently, remembering the couple's fight the previous night. Simon ran a hand through his shaggy hair and exhaled sharply.

'I just wish she'd… settle.' he admitted, shaking his head, 'but whatever. Get Kurt, we have to finish the scenes. You can all catch up with Rachel later.'

After shooting had wrapped up for the day, Blaine and Kurt decided to take Rachel out for the afternoon, showing her the best parts of the city. Her eyes were wide and childlike; she gazed around at the buildings and lights and people in absolute awe. Rachel Berry was in her element, Blaine realized, in this big city. She belonged here.

But Rachel couldn't stay for too long; it would interfere with her studies and her grades couldn't afford to suffer if she were to apply for college at the end of the year. Even so, Kurt was radiant with his best friend on his arm.

A few more articles had popped up about Blaine and Rachel, which he made sure to keep away from both of them, but after a few comments from readers and other reporters, who had seen the three of them around the city that afternoon, the buzz around 'Blaine's new love interest' seemed to die down after its very short span in the limelight. He was glad; he and Kurt didn't need the drama so early in their relationship.

He let Rachel and Kurt walk ahead of him a little. They were holding hands and talking animatedly about the film and the script and Broadway and their glee club and about whatever else came up in conversation. Blaine watched them fondly. He could see a little spring in Kurt's step as he walked, fingers laced with Rachel's. He knew that going to a big city and being forced to film under stress and not knowing many people and having to deal with the stress of seeing his face all over magazines and online blogs was harrowing, and despite it all, Kurt didn't even know Blaine properly yet. Blaine didn't know how to help Kurt out of his slump; but Rachel did, and he was glad to have the brunette around, even if she could cheer Kurt up in an instant and Blaine couldn't in days. He would have to ask her for help later.

After dinner, and Rachel pining over not having enough time to see something on Broadway, they headed back to the hotel, not having much to do other than rug up and watch some movies and eat leftovers from the restaurant they had eaten at. Kurt and Rachel cuddled up together on one side of the couch, and Blaine slumped on the other, only half paying attention to the movie on screen.

'Jeremy Renner is completely delicious.' Rachel commented, 'especially dressed as Hawkeye.'

'He almost rivals Tom Hiddleston.' Kurt replied, and the two of them giggled amongst themselves. Blaine rolled his eyes at the two, only mildly annoyed that his boyfriend was perving on other men in front of him. He was right though. The cast of the Avengers were all delicious as Rachel put it.

'What do you think, Blaine?' Rachel asked, peering over Kurt's shoulder at him, grinning, 'who do you think is the most attractive Avenger?'

'Scarlett Johansson in leather is always a plus in my books.' Blaine replied easily, glancing at the screen.

Rachel laughed, saying something about a 'girl crush', but Kurt just looked uncomfortable at Blaine's comment. He cleared his throat and got off the couch.

'I'm going to go to the bathroom.' He announced, but his voice was too quiet to be anything close to okay. Blaine and Rachel stared after him. They heard the bedroom door shut.

'You're gay, right Blaine?' Rachel asked after a moment, giving him a hard look. Blaine squirmed under her glare. Was he gay? Scarlett Johansson in leather still made his heart race a little too fast, shouldn't that give an indication? He still found women attractive. But then again, why did he need to stamp 'gay' across his forehead? He liked Kurt. He was attracted to Kurt. What more did they want. So he said just that.

'I like Kurt, Rachel. Whether I'm exclusively 'gay' or not is something I have neither figured out yet nor find particularly important anymore.' He informed her, a tone of finality, 'I can find women attractive and I can find Kurt attractive.'

'So is it just Kurt?' Rachel persisted, sounding awfully suspicious, 'is it because he can be considered more feminine than other guys, Blaine? Is that it? Kurt is not just some sort of… of man-woman, get it?'

'I amperfectly aware that Kurt is a man.' Blaine retorted, 'that's the reason I had so much trouble accepting my feelings in the first place. Look, this is between me and Kurt, alright? I really care about him, and no offence, but whether I'm gay or not is hardly your concern.'

'I swear, Blaine, he is my best friend and if you hurt him I –'

'– Wouldn't dream of it, Rachel, honestly.' Blaine assured her. 'I'm going to go talk to him, okay? Just… please sit here and don't intrude.'

Rachel huffed and crossed her arms over her chest, but turned back to the screen regardless. Blaine hoisted himself off the couch and padded over to the bedroom, knocking lightly.

'Kurt?' he called, 'can I come in?'

He heard a murmur of affirmation from the other side of the door and opened it slowly. Kurt was sitting on the bed, his eyes, nose and cheeks slightly pink. Blaine felt his stomach churn guiltily – he didn't want Kurt to cry over something like this.

'Honey, do you wanna come and watch the rest of the movie?' he asked tentatively. Kurt shrugged one shoulder, and Blaine sighed, sitting down heavily next to him. 'What's the matter?'

'You're not actually gay, are you?' Kurt asked quietly, not looking at Blaine, 'because if you're not I –'

'Kurt, it doesn't matter if I'm gay or not. I might never be sure. I haven't found myself attracted to many boys outside you and –'

'Exactly, Blaine. What if this is just a phase for you? This –' he turned to look at Blaine, eyes wet and serious, 'this isn't a phase for me. You're not a phase.'

Blaine brought his hand up and stroked Kurt's cheek with his thumb. He was glad to see his boyfriend lean into the touch slightly. It encouraged him.

'I'd know if this was a phase, Kurt.' He assured him. 'I'm – I'm risking everything because I want to try this. If I didn't want to be with you, I wouldn't. It's that simple.'

Kurt didn't look completely convinced, and Blaine felt slightly annoyed at the fact. He stood up and started pacing.

'I don't know what else you want me to do, Kurt.' He admitted, his tone a little abrasive, 'do you want me to write to the magazines and tell them? Do you want me to say it in every interview? Because if that's what you really want me to do, I'll – I'll do it. Alright? I'll just throw everything out and I'll admit it all. Do you want that from me?'

'I – no.' Kurt replied guiltily, shaking his head. 'I wouldn't want you to throw your career away for me.'

Blaine fell to his knees in front of Kurt, and took Kurt's hands in his own.

'Then what more can I do for you, Kurt? I'm giving myself to you. What more can I do?' he asked, his voice breaking slightly. 'I am so – I am so in like with you, okay? I just – you mean so much.'

Kurt chuckled then, and Blaine felt as though a weight was lifted from his shoulders. Kurt couldn't be too mad at him if he was laughing, could he?

'In like.' Kurt mused, his eyes sparkling, 'I like that.'

'I like you.' Blaine told him, rising and pressing a kiss to his lips, 'please come and finish the movie? I promise you can drool all over the guys as much as you want and I won't say a word.'

Kurt giggled and pressed another kiss to Blaine's lips, lingering there for a moment, before taking his hand and leading him wordlessly to the living room. Rachel spotted Kurt's smile, and a smile graced her own lips. Perhaps Blaine wasn't as clueless as she'd thought.

They resumed watching the film, but this time instead of cuddling up to Rachel, Kurt didn't budge from Blaine's arms for the rest of the film.

Saying goodbye to Rachel the next day was an obvious bummer for Kurt, but her brief visit had put him in such a good mood that their filming had gone almost without a hitch. It was coming along quite nicely. Blaine and Kurt loved feeding each other lines and rehearsing and being behind the camera. Kurt was really starting to enjoy the whole process. Perhaps talking with Rachel had helped him focus on what an amazing opportunity he had.

His focus helped Simon's mood, at least, which was still foul because of his failing relationship. He was ruthless with his takes; now if there was one thing even slightly off, he made them redo the entire scene. So even though Kurt and Blaine were completely in the zone, there were far too many reshoots of perfectly normal scenes. Blaine's little paparazzi scandal didn't help Simon's mood, either. Overnight bigger, more interesting things had cropped up for the press to eat up, so Blaine was in the clear for now. But that didn't stop Simon from lecturing him on being more careful about 'who he made love to on the pavement' in future.

And of course, there was the odd whisper that he and Kurt were secretly seeing each other, but they both blew that off as best they could. They made sure to act strictly platonic when they were around the set or generally in public. It was exposure Blaine was definitely not ready for. Kurt, already openly gay, wasn't fussed by the rumors, but for Blaine, they were only causing trouble.

After they'd wrapped up shooting for the day, and Blaine was scrubbing the makeup from his face, he saw Simon approaching in the mirror, holding his phone and biting his lip. He looked concerned, and it unnerved Blaine.

'What's wrong, Simon?' he asked, practically scouring his cheeks with a makeup wipe. He frowned at the tan smear left on it. He hated wearing makeup.

'Um… I just got off the phone.' Simon started, still staring at Blaine from the mirror. 'To your parents.'

Blaine dropped the makeup wipe and turned to Simon, frowning. His stomach churned uncomfortably at the mention of his parents. They were something he definitely didn't want to be dealing with.

'They want to see you.' Simon told him flatly, and Blaine shook his head.

'Well, good luck to them.' He said scathingly, turning back to the mirror and picking up the makeup wipe, scrubbing at his face with a new vigor. Simon sighed.

'They've been reading things about you and… and Kurt. They want to talk to you about it.'

'Damn it, Simon, you know it's never talking with my parents.' Blaine snapped, throwing the makeup wipe down again, half his face clean and half still stained with makeup, 'I don't want a thing to do with either of them, so you can call them back and tell them that Blaine said to kindly fuck off.'

'Blaine…' Simon sighed again and sat down in a chair at the end of a table. He dropped his phone onto the table and ran his hands through his hair. 'When did this all get so complicated?'

'When Kurt waltzed into my life.' Blaine muttered bitterly, surprising even himself. Simon lifted his head to stare at Blaine.

'Do you resent dating him, Blaine?' he asked.

Blaine… didn't. He cared for Kurt very much, but he couldn't deny that he was sick of the onslaught of problems his new relationship was bringing.

'No. But it's just trouble with him.' He admitted, bracing himself against the makeup counter and exhaling slowly, 'as if I didn't have enough problems with my parents before now.'

'You can always just deny it, you know.' Simon told him, 'I mean, why should your parents even have to know?'

'Why can't they just be proud of me?' Blaine sighed, his voice small. 'Nothing I do is good. Nothing.'

Simon heaved himself out of his chair and crossed the room, placing his hand on Blaine's shoulder.

'Look, talk to your parents. Tell them… tell them what you want to tell them, okay?' Simon advised. 'But Blaine; family isn't limited to blood, okay? Remember that.'

'Of course.' Blaine replied, grinning despite himself, 'that's your excuse for bothering me for all this time, isn't it? We're family, right?'

'Definitely my favourite, kiddo.' Simon replied, pulling Blaine in for a hug and ruffling his hair. 'You'll be okay. You'll see. Things have a funny way of working out. And if you want, I'll come and see your parents with you. I'll throw your dad into the ocean if he so much as raises a hand against you.'

Blaine thanked him, grateful for the support, and Simon left the room. He finished scrubbing his face, a dread mixing in his stomach. He didn't want to see his parents. Nothing ever good came from seeing them.

But he supposed he would just have to see what happened. If he could get them off his back, it would give him one less thing to worry about, at least.

AN: I'm not even going to make excuses for why I haven't updated in so long. I went to write this chapter, but found it already half finished amongst my files so at least I had a head start, but guys, I am so sorry! These last few months have been hectic. There's been so much drama and problems and exams and graduation and all these things have happened but I'm here now and I feel like I've updated a new chapter in my own life. And I got into university! Despite everything, I've gotten into university and I am heading down a good path and I am so excited.

So I love you guys so much, and I hope you still love me too and haven't given up too much on this story!

Also, I changed my Tumblr url to barrels-out-of-bond so if you guys want to follow me or talk to me or just anything at all, please feel free; I love meeting readers. As always thank you so much for your support and I have not forgotten any of you, and I love you all so very much.