No matter how much crap is going on in my life, no matter how long between updates, I will never abandon this story. That said, I am so sorry for making you guys wait so long.

~.~.~.~

I couldn't remember the last time I'd slept so well. The combination of the cloud-bed, Kurt's arms, and the lullaby had tired me out so much that I wasn't even sure if I dreamt that night. Unconsciously, my fingers fisted around warm, silky fabric.

I opened my eyes a bit and saw the dark blue of Kurt's button-up pajama shirt, rising and falling with his breathing. Squinting against the morning sun, I shifted my head from the crook of his neck to look up at him, vaguely wondering if last night was real or if my father really had killed me and this was the afterlife.

Kurt was already awake, his eyes sparkling and offering a small smile. I became suddenly aware that his arms were still around me, making me fidget until he loosened them. My whole body was aching, sore from all the walking, and my face felt kind of swollen from getting punched so many times.

"Sorry about last night," I said with a yawn, scrubbing my eyes with the back of my hand. "I didn't mean to get so clingy, I just..."

"It's fine," Kurt said quickly. "I understand. Shared emotions, remember?"

"Right."

There was an awkward pause, and I decided not to fool myself any longer. It was time to leave this little bit of peace I had found and face the real world.

"I, um...thank you," I stammered. "For persuading your dad to let me stay. I'll just get dressed and head out."

My muscles strained as I tried to get up, and even more so when Kurt gripped my arm and forced me back down.

"Where do you think you're going?" he demanded.

"I...back to my house," I said with confusion. "Where else would I go?"

"Wait, isn't your dad the one that did this to you?"

"Well...yes, but-"

"But nothing!" Kurt snapped. "I'm not letting you sleep at my house for a night so you can go back there and let him beat you up some more, that's not how friendship works."

"And where do you propose I go?" I asked incredulously.

"Stay here," Kurt instantly proposed, like he didn't even have to think about it. Maybe he had been planning this since last night. "I know I can talk my dad into it-"

"Kurt, I can't," I said firmly, tugging my arm away and starting to get up.

"Why not?"

I had to think for a moment, knowing Kurt would never understand if I tried to explain myself. He would just think I was crazy.

"Because...I don't think your dad would allow it, he doesn't like me very much," I invented. It was probably true, anyway.

"That's not the reason and you know it," Kurt said in a quiet, dangerous voice that told me he wasn't taking no for an answer. "I can feel it when you lie to me."

Shit, I thought, having forgotten. For a moment I debated refusing to answer at all - it wasn't like Kurt was entitled to know. My father had never gone this far, maybe he was feeling guilty, and when I went back to him he'd apologize and try to be a better dad.

But I knew that would never happen. It never did, and I wasn't fooling anyone.

"What is it?" Kurt prompted, obviously reading the distress on my face.

"Well...my dad used to be an okay guy," I said quietly. It was about time I told him why I never wanted him to call the cops, or hadn't made a move before last night to leave. Kurt said nothing, waiting for me to continue, but I couldn't meet his eye. "Before he started drinking, he was like a real father. Then my mom left when I was seven and he became an alcoholic..." Oh god, the floodgates were open. There was no stopping now. "He makes me steal stuff for him. Mostly beer and cigarettes. That's why I went to juvie the first time. And the second. It toughened me up so I could defend myself when they found out I was gay in high school."

I timidly looked up to Kurt's face, watching him slowly working through my words. There was no judgement in his expression.

"Why don't you defend yourself against your father, then?" he asked, truly confused, not accusatory.

"I try to," I admitted, holding back the tears threatening in my throat. "But all I can think about when he's coming after me is how we used to go on fishing trips together, or how he'd take me to the park every weekend, or watch cartoons on Saturday mornings while we tried to catch Cheerios in our mouths…"

There really were tears in my eyes now, my voice shaking as I let myself really think about what I'd struggled with and kept secret for so many years. I was being pulled into Kurt's embrace within moments, relaxing against his chest as he sat up against the headboard. We were both quiet for a long time, Kurt absently rubbing my back while I steadied my breathing.

"What did he do to you?" Kurt asked unsteadily. "What did he do to you, Blaine, that was bad enough to make you come here last night?"

I really didn't want to think about it, pressing my face to Kurt's chest so I could hear his heartbeat.

"He tried to kill me," I said quietly, monotonously. "He's threatened to so many times before, but this time he got out a kitchen knife and tried to stab me."

I remembered a section in the Wikipedia article on Connections (if the life or relative well-being of one Connected person is threatened, an uncontrollable, very strong protective instinct will overcome their soul mate) a split second after I said it.

I could feel the onset of emotion through our Connection, it was so potent, Kurt's eyes going wide. I hadn't expected it to be that strong, but rage and horror and possessiveness pulsed through me secondhand, making my head spin and heart pound.

"Whoa," I said breathlessly, grasping his shirt and feeling his arms tighten around me almost unconsciously.

"S-sorry," Kurt stammered when the emotions had faded a bit. "I think what you said triggered something."

"Yeah, I can feel that," I said a bit sarcastically.

"I just...I just can't let him hurt you," Kurt said exasperatedly, a bit frantic. "I don't see why he would hurt you; it's so unfair, Blaine, what the hell did you ever do to him-?"

"Hey," I cut in, interrupting his rant. He was working himself into a panic, me trying to calm him down.

"Sorry," he muttered once he had relaxed a bit. "I know it's weird for me to be all protective, but we're going to be in each other's lives for a long time, and frankly you need protecting."

"I understand," I said quietly, still thinking on the fact that he was willing to stay with me for a long time.

Maybe this was like a fairytale. Maybe Kurt was my Prince Charming, rescuing me from my tower or dungeon or whatever, so pure of heart he could see past my flaws. It sounded way too childish and unrealistic, but I wanted it, and maybe Kurt did too.

After a moment of deliberation, I reached up to wrap my arms around Kurt's neck, holding him closer because it felt right. Kurt's face pressed against my hair and I sighed quietly, completely relaxed.

"What are we, Kurt?" I murmured against his chest when my curiosity got the better of me. "What is this, I mean...what are we?"

"You mean besides Connected?" he clarified, and I nodded.

"I don't really think we need anymore labels," he decided after a moment. "I'm not sure any exist for this kind of situation anyway. How about we just be Kurt and Blaine?"

I couldn't hold back my grin, hiding it in Kurt's nightshirt. So many labels had been pinned to me - faggot, bad boy, delinquent, whore - by so many people, and at first, Kurt had been no exception. For the first time in a long time, he was making me feel like a person.

"I'd like that," I said gratefully.

~.~.~.~

Kurt convinced me to come upstairs with him, despite my preference to stay in his room. I wasn't looking forward to being around other people and leaving the comfortable bubble we'd created, but I was hungry. His dad and stepmom were already awake, sitting at the table with newspapers and coffee, but Kurt's step-brother - Finn, I remembered - was still asleep on the couch.

"Hey Dad," Kurt said, and I wondered if I should say hello too, but decided against it.

Mr. Hummel looked us over once, his eyes scrutinizing.

"Morning kiddo," he grunted, and I wondered if he was upset with me or just wasn't a morning person.

"Morning boys. What do you want for breakfast?" Carole said with a smile as she stood, taking her plate to the sink.

Kurt almost instantly rattled off what kind of cereal we both liked, and I realized he had widened our Connection to pick my brain. It was a weird experience. Kurt gestured to the chair across from his father and I sat down with some reluctance.

I almost forgot about our Connection being wider than normal until I heard a dull thud, pain flaring up in my foot as Kurt stubbed his toe. We swore at the same time and Kurt quickly apologized, our Connection constraining to normal levels.

Kurt's dad didn't say anything to me, for which I was grateful, but the silence was pretty awkward. I almost felt like he was watching me through the newspaper as Kurt and Carole talked quietly in the kitchen. I stared at the wood grain of the table, trying not to pay attention to the fact that they were talking about me.

"Thank you," I said quietly when the food was brought out, Carole leaving the room as we ate. I was finished by the time Mr. Hummel laid his paper aside, my heart thumping when his gaze rounded on me.

"So, Blaine. What's the deal here? Do you have a gameplan?" he asked expectantly. He didn't sound upset, but I could tell he didn't approve of me yet. I glanced at Kurt helplessly. "Look, kid, I'm gonna need to know your living situation so I know if it's safe for you to go back there or if I need to step in," he added when we said nothing.

He was trying to be nice, trying to help me, but the fact was Mr. Hummel still didn't think I was worthy of being his son's soul mate. I didn't either, but I couldn't trust him yet, and if I tried to explain everything to him he wouldn't understand. Not like Kurt had. I froze up, unable to look at Kurt's father.

"Why don't you go take a shower, Blaine?" Kurt suggested, saving me. I literally jumped up at the opportunity, walking quickly back down into Kurt's bedroom, leaving Mr. Hummel's indignant, "Hey wait, I gotta talk to you!" behind me.

I didn't let myself panic any further, opting to douse myself in hot water, first grabbing my clothes from the dryer. For the short time I was in the shower, I could feel a range of Kurt's emotions, from aggravation, to desperation, then gratitude. Honestly I was more afraid of Mr. Hummel having my dad arrested than anything, even though I knew I shouldn't be. I just couldn't imagine him locked up, all on his own. His whole life had fallen apart when his wife left, and maybe some sick part of me wished he would be devastated without his son too.

I heard Kurt's feet on the stairs as I was rinsing out my hair, shutting off the water and toweling off. When I came out, dressed in my old clothes, he was selecting an outfit and laying it ever so carefully on his bed. He scrutinized it carefully, not noticing me yet, and the way he was assembling the absolute perfect outfit was inexplicably endearing.

"Did it go well?" I asked a bit nervously.

"He hasn't made up his mind yet, but I know he won't turn you out," Kurt sighed, turning away from his clothes to look at me. "He just has to decide whether or not to call the police, but I think I convinced him not to."

"Really?" I said, shocked. I hadn't expected Kurt to ensure my father's freedom, feeling as if he'd already done way too much for me. The fact that he cared enough about what I wanted to fight his father on the subject made me want to hug him, and after a moment of deliberation, I did.

He seemed surprised by it at first, but then he hugged back, and I realized I truly had him on my side.

"Thank you," I said quietly. "Thank you so much, Kurt, you don't know what this means to me-"

"Well, if you think about it, I kind of do," he reminded me with a small laugh. He didn't quite understand why I didn't want my father in jail, I knew, but he still fought for me.

"When I was in court for stealing and they were asking me all those questions...I just couldn't turn my dad in, you know?" I muttered. "I mean, it won't take him long to get caught now that he has to steal his own booze, but that's his choice."

I felt Kurt nod and the gentle weight of his head dropped onto my shoulder, resting there comfortingly. We just stayed there, holding each other for a minute, and it was quite nice until I heard heavy footsteps on the stairs. I quickly extracted myself from Kurt's arms just as his father came into view, looking between us suspiciously.

"Just getting some laundry," he said flatly, and I could tell he knew he'd interrupted something. The thought occurred to me that I should probably thank him or something, but I couldn't even look at him properly. "Blaine, you'll be rooming with Kurt if you decide to stay here, but I don't want any funny business."

Blushing madly, I noticed that Mr. Hummel worded his sentence as if it were my choice. It didn't really feel like it at the moment, my only options being living with my insane father and a man who probably thought I would try to make a move on his son while he slept.

"Yes, sir," I said instead of thank you.

"Call me Burt."

When he left I relaxed slightly, feeling Kurt at my shoulder but not looking up.

"He's not as intimidating as he seems," he said softly.

"He doesn't like me," I contradicted.

"He doesn't know you."

"Kurt, look at me," I snapped suddenly, surprising myself but too upset to stop. "Do I really look like the kind of person he would want as his son's soul mate?"

I could tell that threw him for a minute. He looked at me, piercings and scars and all, biting his lip. I hated that I could make him look at me like that, because I knew he saw exactly what I did when I looked at myself. I looked hideous and dangerous and everything I didn't want to be, nonetheless what everyone else didn't want me to be.

"Dad trusts me, and I trust you," he said carefully after a few moments. "Just let him get to know you, he'll come around."

Kurt trusted me. Okay, that was news. What the heck did he even trust me with? I didn't have or know anything of value to him. But I had still been an ass, and of course he was courteous as always.

"Sorry," I said a bit grudgingly.

"It's okay." Awkward pause. "Do you even want to stay here, Blaine?"

I looked up at him and cocked my head, meeting his worried gaze. It was as if he didn't think this place was good enough for me or something, which was just ridiculous.

"I don't know," I said with an indifferent shrug. "I mean, your dad and Finn kind of scare me, but Carole seems alright, and obviously I'm okay with you. Besides, it's not like I have anywhere else to go-"

"But do you want to stay here?" he repeated, trying to get me to understand. "If you had somewhere else you could go, would you want to stay here?"

"Well...yeah," I muttered, because it was sort of apparent. He was my fucking soul mate, for god's sake. "I mean, you're here, so...that makes this the best place."

I didn't miss the way he smiled at that, despite his attempts to hide it.

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