A/N: Thanks to all of you for taking this journey with me. This story has been in the works since October, when the prompt first tugged at me. I wrote the first 50K during NaNoWriMo in November, and the last 20K was written in the past 35 days. I really appreciate all the comments and time you guys have given to the reading of this.


Part VII: November and Everything After

Wednesday November 1, 2012

Blaine's eyes were gritty when he rolled out of bed half an hour before his first class. He didn't even bother fighting with his contacts, so his glasses drew strange looks from his classmates as he took his seat in English. They were doing peer reviews of their papers, and his hands trembled when he took his required copies out of his backpack and set them in front of him on the table.

"You okay, Blaine?" Justin, who rowed with him on crew team asked cautiously.

"Oh, yeah," Blaine replied absently. "I was up late finishing a college app that had to be in today." It wasn't entirely a lie.

"Where are you applying? I decided not to bother with any early apps, my first one doesn't have to be in until January."

"UVA," Blaine said, ran his finger along the thick edge of the paper in front of him.

"Cool," Justin smiled. "What do you think you're gonna major in? My mom thinks I should do business or something like that because I'm good at math, but I think I really want to do sociology or psychology."

Blaine took a breath, held it for a moment, and let it out. "I'm going to be a kindergarten teacher."

"Oh." Justin paused. "Okay. That's , um. Different."

Blaine's heart sunk a little at Justin's reaction. He knew his aspirations weren't typical for an Andover kid, or at least they weren't ones that most people would admit to, but he was just so tired of lying and pretending.

The paper in front of him was proof of that, as was the email he'd sent right before he'd gone to bed, seven words to Dev, who do you know at the Times?

Mr. Buonano strode into the room then, set his briefcase onto his desk with a thud. "Okay," he began, "who wants to go first?"

Blaine raised his hand. "I'd like to, please," he said, calm and polite.

Mr. Buonano nodded at him. "Blaine. What's the topic of your paper?"

Blaine handed his stack of papers to Justin, to his right. "The ways that passing gives our secrets power over us, and whether we can be freed by telling the truth."

"In relation to what?" Mr. Buonano asked.

"Sexual orientation and gender identity," Blaine answered, and he was stunned that the words didn't get stuck in his throat.

"What texts did you evaluate?"

Blaine tapped his fingers on the table. "Contemporary movies and novels with gay and lesbian content. Most of the books were young adult novels: Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden, Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Keeping you a Secret and Luna, both by Julie Anne Peters, and Parrotfish by Ellen Whittlinger. I also referenced Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, because it deals with many of the same themes as Boys Don't Cry. As far as other media is concerned, Milk, Latter Days, Brokeback Mountain, Saved!, and two different story arcs on Queer as Folk, one surrounding disclosure of HIV status and the other about homophobia and being closeted in professional sports. I know it's a little unorthodox, but my paper also contains some personal narrative. It's . . . well. Let's call it relevant."

Mr. Buonano nodded. "Your recent, ahem. Situation."

"Yes."

"Okay." Mr. Buonano waited while everyone took a copy of Blaine's paper, and he took one for himself as the stack made its way around the table. "Does anyone have any questions for Blaine before we move on?"

Sasha raised her hand tentatively. "I saw all the news, with those pictures. And last year, you went to an Alliance meeting once, but you never said. Are you- are you gay, Blaine?"

Mr. Buonano put his hand up. "I think that's a little inappropriate, Sasha."

Blaine pulled his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose. "No, it's okay. I mean, I bring it up in my paper and I opened the door on my own." He put his glasses back on and looked around the table. "Did any of you see Kurt Hummel's interview on Rachel Maddow a couple of weeks ago?"

About half the class nodded. Blaine set his mouth in a line and nodded back at them. "Then you heard what he was saying about privacy and choices. Please, I need you all to respect my privacy. To answer Sasha's question, yes. I'm gay, but that isn't for public discussion. Not yet."

"Oh, my god," Lucas groaned from across the table. "You're asking us to keep your secret so it doesn't impact the election. That's pretty hypocritical, don't you think?"

Blaine smacked his palms hard on the table and felt the vibration up his arms and into his head. "Way to jump to conclusions, Lucas. It's got nothing to do with the election and everything to do with the fact that this isn't just my secret. There are other people affected by what I say and when I say it, and there are things I need to say to them before this goes beyond the fifteen of us." He pushed his chair away from the table and grabbed his backpack from the floor. "Maybe this was a mistake."

He started toward the door. "I can't— I need to go."

"Blaine, wait." Mr. Buonano was on his feet too, following Blaine out of the classroom and into the hall.

Blaine got three classrooms away before he stopped and sort of staggered against the wall, let it take his weight. "I'm sorry." He waved his hand in the air. "It's just all kind of a lot, you know."

"I do." Mr. Buonano nodded. "I'll talk to them."

"Thank you." Blaine really did appreciate it.

"Are you okay? This is a really brave thing you're doing. Do you have a support system in place?"

Blaine thought about Tara, Callie, and Trina. About Dev, and about what Kurt would think, whether he'd still want to be there if Blaine needed him. "I do," he nodded, and he realized that for the first time in his life he really did have a support system. "I do," he said again, and the world didn't feel quite so enormous and he didn't feel quite so adrift.

"Good." Mr. Buonano smiled at him. "I'll excuse you from class for the rest of the period, but make sure you're ready to discuss your paper tomorrow, once everyone has had a chance to read it. I'll put your copies of everyone else's in your box in the lounge by lunchtime."

"Thank you," Blaine said. "Just— thank you."

He stood there, against the wall, until Mr. Buonano had retreated back to the classroom, and then he pulled his phone out of his pocket. Please, he pleaded silently. Please, Dev, give me something.

He did have an email from Dev, there in his inbox between one from his mother and one from Tara.

He clicked on Dev's first. There was nothing but a name and contact information. Bill Reed, 781-555-4944; wreed .

Blaine stared at his phone and tried to calm his breathing and his frantic, terrified heart. He needed to make the call now, before he lost all of his nerve. There wasn't enough time to walk back to his dorm, not if he was going to make it to Psych on time, so he found a secluded bench outside the main building, huddled into his coat against the cool air, and dialed with shaking hands.

"Bill Reed," a man answered after two rings.

"Mr. Reed," Blaine began, "my name is Blaine Anderson."

"Mmm," Mr. Reed made an affirmative noise in his throat. "Devin said you might be in touch. What can I do for you?"

"I-" Blaine stammered. "Um. I need to come clean about some things before the election. I'd prefer to do an interview as soon as possible, and I'd really like it to be with the New York Times."

"Why?"

"Why what? Why the interview, or why the Times?"

"Both. Either." Blaine could hear computer keys clacking in the background.

"The interview, because it's time and there are no obstacles in my way now. The Times because when the pictures came out your paper didn't fall into the gossip the way the rest of the press did." God, Blaine hoped he was saying the right things. He really didn't want to have to try the Washington Post or the Chicago Tribune.

"Are you able to get down here for an interview?"

Blaine shook his head even though Mr. Reed couldn't see him, which made him chuckle lightly to himself. "Sorry. I can't, I have school; I've missed a lot already this year."

"Okay. Hold on." The line went silent for a long minute before Mr. Reed was back. "I can come to you. You're in . . . Boston, right?"

"I go to Andover."

"Andover. How's Saturday, around lunchtime?"

Blaine ran through his schedule in his head. He had a meeting for his psych class at 9, and he wanted to swim laps before lunch. "I could meet you around 12:30 at Good Day Café." He was suddenly very happy that water polo was done for the season, or else he would have been tied down to a match on Saturday.

"That sounds perfect. I look forward to hearing what you have to say, Blaine."

"Thank you, Mr. Reed," Blaine let out in a rush. "I really appreciate it."

"Please, call me Bill."

"Bill. Thank you."

Mr. Reed – Bill – laughed. "Go back to class, Blaine," he scolded, and Blaine felt himself blush.

"Yes, sir. See you Saturday." He hung up, and shouldered his backpack. He'd expected to feel a little frantic at the idea of telling all his secrets, but he just felt sweet relief.

He looked at his phone as he pocketed it; if he hurried, he'd be able to get a cup of coffee in the senior lounge before Psych.

He took off across campus with a little bounce in his step.


Kurt leaned against the window of the car and closed his eyes. He didn't need to see the details. All the highways looked the same, anymore, and it almost didn't matter whether they were in Pittsburgh, Norfolk, Cleveland, Miami, or Denver. The words were the same, the crowds felt the same, and Kurt was equally exhausted no matter the time zone.

They were so close he could almost taste it, and all he wanted in the world was his own bed and a bowl of Carole's chili with too much cheese, green onions, and sour cream.

"Are we ever going to go home again, Dad?" he whispered into the space between them in the back seat.

"We'll be home in five days, buddy. Can you hang on until then?" His dad's voice was hoarse, and even though Kurt hadn't opened his eyes he could feel his dad rubbing at his hand, which was stiff and sore from all the hand-shaking.

"You'll ice that when we get to the hotel, right?"

"Yeah."

His dad sounded as weary as Kurt felt. "Do you need to work tonight?" he asked tentatively.

"Nah," his dad said, a little too quick and a little too confident.

"I know when you're lying," Kurt called him out.

"I'm not lying. I really don't have to work tonight. There haven't been any changes to the speech, and I think the rest of them are as tired as we are. Why?"

"Pizza and a movie?"

"Sure. My room or yours?"

Kurt wished he knew why he was feeling so damn lonely. "Actually," he said, tentatively, "would it be okay if we shared a room this time?"

"Missing your old man, huh?" His dad's words were light, almost teasing, but they caught Kurt right in the middle of his chest. Before he knew what was happening he was crying, deep and hard.

"Yes," he gasped. He tried to curl into himself, to protect the tired and upset and alone parts of his heart, but he never had been able to hide from his father.

"Okay, kiddo. C'mere." His dad's hands were busy unbuckling Kurt's seatbelt and tugging him across the length of the seat. He pulled Kurt into his chest as well as he could in the cramped space of the car. His hand was warm and soothing against Kurt's back. "I know you're having a rough patch. Do you want to go home?"

"No," Kurt said, defensive and rushed in a way that was to convince himself as much as he wanted to convince his dad. "No," he said again. "You and I have come this far together, I want to finish it."

"Can I do anything to help?"

"I don't think so," Kurt shook his head against his dad's dress shirt. "I think I just need to be sad for a little bit."

"Okay," his dad said, and kept rubbing Kurt's back. "Sounds like a plan to me."

The trees and the buildings looked distorted from the angle Kurt's head was at, and even though he was sure he'd seen it all before their surroundings somehow seemed foreign.

"Where are we?" he asked finally when he couldn't stand it anymore.

"I gotta tell you, Kurt, I have no idea," his dad admitted, and his chest shook with laughter.

Kurt snorted and struggled to sit up, found his face wet with tears again, but they were good tears and he didn't feel quite so bad in that moment.

Friday November 2, 2012

Kurt and his dad were in State College, PA, as it turned out.

They'd shared a half pepperoni and pineapple/half mushroom and pepper pizza, and Kurt had fallen asleep in his clothes not even halfway through The Hurt Locker on HBO. When he woke the next morning, his dad was gone and Kurt's phone was ringing.

Kurt scrambled to grab it and knocked it and his glasses off the nightstand. "Fuck," he swore, even though there was nobody there to hear him. He climbed out of bed and snatched his phone off the floor. "Hello?"

"Check your email," Dev ordered.

"What?" Kurt blinked, rubbed at his eyes. His computer hadn't even made it out of his bag the night before.

"Check your email. Read it, and then call me back." Dev hung up abruptly.

Kurt sighed and stumbled over to his bag, fumbled with zipper and clasp, and wrestled his laptop out of the snug padded sleeve. He put his glasses on while it booted up, and started the room's tiny coffeepot with a single-serve packet of dark roast. He clicked thorough to find and access the hotel's wifi, and opened his email. There were too many, since he hadn't checked since before their flight the previous morning, but the one at the top was surely what Dev wanted him to read.

From: banderson13 at andover dot edu

To: kurt _e at hummel dot net , devin_j at hummel dot net

Subject: Things are changing

Attachment: paper dot docx

Kurt and Dev-

I'm giving an interview tomorrow that should run on Sunday.

Attached is a copy of the paper I'm writing for my English class.

I know it might be too little, much too late, but I'm doing what I need to for myself.

I'm so sorry, Kurt, for everything. I hope someday you'll forgive me, and that we can be friends again. I miss you.

Dev, thank you for your help.

-Blaine

Kurt clicked to open the attachment and got up to fix his coffee while the paper downloaded, and then he settled back against his pillows, laptop on his knees and mug in his hands, to read.

When he finished, he dialed Dev back. "He's going to come out," Kurt said in lieu of any greeting, "if he hasn't already."

"Kid's got balls, I'll give him that. My friend Bill, he won't go easy on him in the interview."

"You knew?"

"Not really," Dev deflected. "He emailed yesterday asking if I knew anyone at the Times. I suspected, but I didn't know."

"Wow." Kurt didn't know what to say. He was proud of Blaine, hoped he was happy, hoped he was making the right choice for the right reasons, but all of that was useless to Dev; the only one who needed to hear those things was Blaine.

"You need to be prepared, Kurt. Just like with the pictures, this could turn into a big deal for you, too. I know the past few weeks have been hard, just- take care of yourself, okay? And no matter what comes out in that interview, don't take it personally."

"I'll try not to," he sighed. He tried not to take anything Blaine did personally, but he was just so exhausted that he couldn't make any promises.

"Hey." Dev's voice was gentle. "You okay?"

"No. Yes." Kurt sighed heavily. "I have no idea."

"What's wrong?"

Kurt set his computer aside and burrowed down under the blankets. "Nothing. Everything. Just tired and ready to go home, mostly." And he missed Blaine, missed his friendship and his sense of humor and his kindness, missed what it felt like to hold a piece of Blaine's heart so carefully, what it felt like knowing Blaine held a piece of his.

"Just a few more days. We're almost at the finish line. Look, why don't you take today off? Catch up on some of the sleep you've been missing."

"I can't," Kurt argued. "I've got a GSA this afternoon, and if nobody else gets to take a day off then I don't either."

"If you're sure." Dev sounded doubtful.

"I'm sure."

"In that case, I'm hungry. Meet me downstairs in half an hour and I'll buy you pancakes."

Kurt tossed the covers aside and rolled out of bed with heavy sigh. Four more days. He could do this. "Chocolate chip pancakes and extra crispy bacon and you've got a deal."


Blaine holed up in his room after dinner on the pretense of getting ahead in his schoolwork, since he was going to be missing at least two days of school the following week. The first thing he did was check his email for the hundredth time that day, in anticipation of an email from Kurt that he was sure was never going to come.

Then he sat straight and still at his desk and stared at his phone. He needed to tell his mother. He needed to warn her, needed her approval, needed to know he was making the right choice.

He dialed with shaking hands, and his mother answered after three rings.

"Blaine? What's wrong?"

"Mom." Blaine's heart was racing in his chest. "Everything's fine. I just- I need to tell you something."


Elaine ended the call and walked back through the suite into the bedroom. John was still fussing with his cufflinks, but she didn't offer to help him. She stood in front of the dresser, in front of her open and entirely inadequate purse, and removed her compact and lipstick, the tiny bottle of ibuprofen, her driver's license and her spare pantyhose. She frowned at all of it, left the pantyhose and the compact on the dresser and returned the ibuprofen, her license, and her lipstick to the purse. She shoved her phone in and tugged the tiny zipper closed.

"We're going to be late," she said, wheeling to face John and frowning at him; his cuffs were still undone.

"Are these the only cufflinks I have?"

Elaine strode toward the door. "I don't know," she snapped. "I've been a little busy, John. I don't really have time to keep track of your accessories, I can hardly keep track of my own. I'm going down, I'll meet you in the car."

"Lainey," he called out when she was three steps into the living room. "Is Blaine okay?"

Elaine felt a small smile tug at her lips as she turned to face him. "Yes, I think he finally is."

"Finally? What do you mean by finally?"

"For Christ's sake, John. I don't think Blaine has been okay in years, and we've both been blind to it."

"Is this about his gay thing again?"

"Seriously? His gay thing? Blaine is gay, and we can't change that. He's tried to. He's tried to keep it a secret for us, for my career, but it's been hurting him."

John stared at her. "What the hell is going on? He's not going to come out, is he? Not now, not when the election is so close. We're almost there, Lainey. We almost have everything we've ever wanted, you can't let him do that."

Elaine shrugged. "He's already made the arrangements, he was just calling to tell me what he was going to do."

"You talked him out of it, I'm sure."

"No, John." She shook her head. "Blaine is his own man. I told him weeks ago that he was capable of choosing for himself, and that if he decided to come out then I'd support him because he's my son and I love him."

"He's going to ruin this for us."

"No he's not. And even if he did, what does it matter? What does any of it matter? We could have lost him any number of times since that beating. What matters now is that he's learning how to be happy, and he's learning how to make his own choices."

"What did you tell him?"

Elaine let her purse fall from her shoulder. She grabbed the skinny strap in her hand, twisted it between her fingers. "I told him that I love him, that he's so brave, and that I am incredibly proud of him. I'm going to stand up for him, John. You can make your own choice about that."

"I can't give him that," John said. He jiggled his cufflinks in his hand and set them carefully on the bedspread next to him. "I can't."

Elaine nodded. She'd expected as much. "I think I should go to this dinner alone."

John nodded carefully. "If that's what you think is best."

"I do." She was a little surprised that he wasn't fighting her harder about the dinner, but he was a man who cared too much about appearances and they both knew there was no way they were going to be able to hide their disagreement, not when it was so fresh.

"Have fun," he told her as she walked away.

Elaine frowned. The dinner wasn't going to be fun. The attention surrounding Blaine's interview wasn't going to be fun, and the fallout from this fight with John most definitely wasn't going to be fun.

She was just ready for it all to be over.

Four more days. Four more days and it would all be over.

Saturday November 3, 2012

Bill Reed worked the Saturday crossword in pen while he waited for Blaine Anderson. He'd already set out his notepad and his micro recorder, but he didn't want to order until the boy got there, in case he was hungry. He figured he owed Blaine a meal, at least, since he was giving Bill the biggest interview of his young career.

He'd just filled in 7 down, in the midst of, 6 letters when the bell over the door jingled and Blaine rushed in. His cheeks were pink from the cool air and he had a dark green knit hat pulled down over his hair. Bill waved, and Blaine nodded, made his way across the room.

"I'm sorry I'm late. My study group ran late, and then I wanted to swim my laps." He tugged his hat off, revealing damp and wild curls that were very unlike what Bill was used to seeing when Blaine had been out at campaign events.

"It's fine," Bill said. "Are you hungry? I haven't eaten yet, I wanted to wait to order."

Blaine settled back into his chair, tugged his Andover Crew hoodie over his head and then stuffed it under the table with his backpack. "I'm always hungry," he smiled, and Bill was almost instantly charmed. This boy, here at the table, was so different from the Blaine Anderson he thought he knew from the media.

"I take it you've eaten here before." At Blaine's nod, Bill continued. "What's good?"

"The chicken salad is awesome. The Pilgrim, the Bullfinch, the Club." He cocked his head at Bill. "Sometimes my inner five year old likes the Nutella with bananas."

"What do you want? My treat."

Blaine chewed a little on his bottom lip, bopped his head from side to side in thought. "The Pilgrim, a bag of salt and vinegar chips, and a Coke, please."

"You got it."

Bill put in their order, and watched out of the corner of his eye as Blaine turned the folded crossword around and picked up the pen. He worked carefully, pausing to think, and when Bill returned to the table with their sandwiches Blaine had filled in five more clues.

"Sorry," he told Bill, pushing the paper and pen aside. "I can't resist a crossword."

"No worries," Bill reassured him.

"My dad and I—" Blaine started, and paused. "My dad always did them, when I was a kid. I wanted to make him happy and be close to him, so I learned how to do them, too."

Bill hadn't known what to expect from Blaine. He'd assumed that the boy would be the same buttoned-up, stoic, silent figure that had been almost invisible behind his parents all summer, but he'd hoped that he'd share a hint of the boy who'd been so gentle and playful with Connor Halstead at the convention. What he was seeing here was something else entirely. This Blaine Anderson was loose and casual and open, and Bill wondered aloud how many people got to see that.

Blaine opened his chips and crunched one thoughtfully. "One," he answered after a moment. "Only one person has ever seen this me, and I let him go because I was too scared."

"Him." Bill stared at Blaine. "So you are gay?"

"Yes." Blaine's voice was strong, but his hands betrayed his nerves, shaking around his can of soda.

"Okay." Bill nodded. "May I?" he gestured to his recorder.

"Please," Blaine said.

Bill clicked the record button and they began.

Four hours later, Bill raced through South Station and out onto the platform. If he hadn't been on a deadline, he would have stayed, would have talked more with Blaine Anderson, but he had to make the 4:35 if he was going to get the interview into the morning's paper. The finer details of their conversation were running on a constant loop in his brain, and he couldn't wait to transcribe the recording.

Thank god for the 4 hour trip back to the city.

He opened his laptop on the tray table, plugged his ear buds into his recorder, and got to work.

Sunday November 4th, 2012

New York Times Politics Section B

The Prince of the Party

Bill Reed, Staff Writer

Blaine Anderson has been the subject of much attention recently, from his sudden emergence onto the national stage at the Republican Convention and the gossip surrounding his alleged presence at a Boston gay club in September. Behind all of that media perception is a complex young man who is struggling to balance a public persona with the same trials facing most 18 year olds.

I met Blaine at a café in Andover, MA, where he's a senior at Phillips Academy Andover. He was late to our meeting after a busy morning of a study group and his daily swimming routine. He was relaxed and affable, and much more giving of information about himself than I had anticipated. In short, the boy I spent better than three hours with was nothing like I expected, based on what I'd seen of him in the political arena.

BR: Why did you decide to give this interview?

BA: I'm tired of hiding. I'm tired of being scared all the time. I'm tired of living every day trying to meet everyone else's expectations of who I should be and how I should think and act.

BR: So this is an act of deficance?

BA: No. No, it's not. This is me finally standing up and telling my truth.

BR: You have lots of public faces. Until the convention, you seemed very composed and closed off, but your behavior with Connor Halstead showed the world a different side of you. Talk to me about that.

BA: I spent a lot of time with the Halstead boys that week. Those events, with all the delegates . . . it's hard, because the candidate's whole family is expected to be there, but those aren't events for little kids, and the Halsteads don't have a nanny or a babysitter. I like kids a lot, and I've been pretty much not involved in my mother's career until recently, so those meet and greet things are really weird for me. It was so much easier to play with the kids. As for the night of my mother's speech, we'd all been "on" for hours. It was late, way past Connor's bedtime, and he was getting really antsy.

BR: What were you two doing?

BA: We were doing this little finger-play one of my old nannies used to play with me, "Five Little Ducks."

BR: It was pretty sweet.

BA: (blushing and ducking his head) Thank you.

BR: People have made a big deal over comparing you with Kurt Hummel, because you're the same age and are both, obviously, children of candidates. Do you think it's a fair comparison?

BA: No, it's not a fair comparison. Kurt and I are very different people. Other than both being 18, seniors in high school, and having parents running for President, we're really nothing alike.

That doesn't mean that I don't respect and admire Kurt, because I think he's amazing. He's smart and funny and creative and so incredibly brave, to live his life openly and honestly in the public eye.

It's just, anyone who bothers to dig beneath the superficial similarities will find out that Kurt and I have had drastically different upbringings, and that has influenced who we both are today.

BR: You're friends with Kurt Hummel, correct?

BA: Yes. We met a year ago at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. He's been a good friend to me.

BR: Tell me about your childhood, about the things that make you different from Kurt.

BA: I think everyone knows his story by now, so I won't rehash that. My story is pretty different. My mom was elected to her first local office when I was a toddler. I was raised by two awesome nannies, Isobel and Sarah, until I got to middle school. Then I was old enough to be home alone after school, so I raised myself the rest of the way. I came to Andover when I was 15.

BR: You're a year older than the rest of your classmates, correct?

BA: Yes.

BR: Why is that?

BA: My Freshman year, I was at the public high school back home, and there was an incident at a school dance. A friend and I were attacked outside the gym, and I ended up with some fractured ribs and a concussion. (Blaine curled and flexed his hand, and frowned at it) They busted my hand up pretty good, too. I had to have surgery, and physical therapy, and I had these headaches from the concussion. It was just better to take the year off and start fresh.

BR: Why were you attacked at the dance?

BA: Because I brought a male date.

BR: So you're gay?

BA: Yes.

BR: Why did you keep it a secret?

BA: I didn't feel safe to come out. The reaction I got from my family after the attack made me feel like being gay was something I needed to be ashamed of. I mean, I knew it wasn't, but I didn't want to disappoint anyone else.

BR: And the pictures?

BA: Yeah. That was, well. I think everyone can agree that I was epically stupid. But making that decision, going to that club, there was so much else going on. At the beginning of September I broke up with my boyfriend. We'd been together 9 months, and I was feeling pressure.

BR: Because of the campaign?

BA: Yes and no. Because we were keeping our relationship a secret, and there was so much at stake if it got out. Not just because I was closeted, but because of things happening in his life, too. At the time, it seemed like the kindest thing to do for both of us, even though it hurt like crazy.

It still hurts like crazy. I know I made a mistake, breaking up with him. Going to that club, being in a position to have those pictures taken.

And I can't tell you how badly I feel, lying about it. But I want people to understand that I never lied because I was ashamed. I lied to protect the people who matter to me. For me, coming out isn't just about me because my decision affects my mother, affects her campaign, affects the way the people out there see me and my family.

BR: Why did you decide to come out now?

BA: I'm taking this English class on passing in literature and film. I realized that by denying who I am, I'm effectively passing, and that gives my secrets power over me. I'm just tired of being afraid, tired of hiding, trying to be someone I'm not.

I was also waiting until my mother and I had a chance to talk about it. She told me a while ago that I'm my own man, I can make my own decisions, but in this case I needed her to know what I was doing because this decision affects her as well.

BR: What was your mother's response?

BA: I called her last night, to tell her I was doing this. She told me she loves me, that I'm so brave, and that she's proud of me.

BR: That seems quite different from what you said her reaction was after you were attacked.

BA: It is. My mom has come a long way in the past year. I don't know if it matters, but I'm proud of her, too.

BR: Do you worry that this will be seen as a political move?

BA: A little bit. But it's really not.

I know there are people who are going to read this and think I'm doing this to get attention, or to influence my mother's campaign one way or another. I know lots of people aren't going to believe me when I say that I'm honestly only doing this for myself, but it's true.

Back in October, Kurt did an interview with Rachel Maddow.

BR: I saw it.

BA: Yeah. So, in that interview he talked about how there are a lot of factors that go into deciding if, or even when, to come out. This isn't a decision I made lightly. This is something I've been working toward for over a year, but it's taken me this long to finally gather the last bit of courage I needed.

BR: What tipped the scales for you?

BA: It was a lot of things. Kurt's interview, the support of some friends. Finding the courage to chase my dream.

The night before I contacted you, I finished a paper for that English class and I sent off my application to my first choice college. I just decided that it was time to start living my own life for me. I know it's not going to be easy. There's a lot I don't know about how to do that, but I won't learn unless I try, right?

BR: Right. So you're applying to college. Where do you want to go, and what are you planning on studying?

BA: I don't want to talk about where I'm applying, though I'm sure anyone in my classes could tell you if they wanted to. I'm hoping to major in either early childhood or elementary education.

BR: Is there anything else you want to tell anyone?

BA: I want to thank Tara, Callie, and Trina for being my support system through everything; my mom for being patient and loving me; Daniel, for being the first person I told; and Kurt, for being my friend and protecting me, and for still being there for me despite all my stupidity.


Elaine read the interview over a cup of tea and a muffin in the hotel coffee shop in Canton.

When she finished, she dabbed at her eyes with one of the napkins. "Oh, Blaine," she whispered . "You don't need to be proud of me."


Kurt sat cross-legged on his bed in the hotel in Pittsburgh and read the interview aloud to his dad and Dev.

"Your boy really stepped up," Dev said.

"He hasn't stopped loving you, you know," his dad told him.

"I know," Kurt said. "I just don't know what I'm supposed to do now."

"Let him know you heard him, and then you wait." His dad patted his knee and smiled. "I don't think you'll be waiting long."


Trina read the interview once she'd fed the boys breakfast and gotten them settled in front of some Bob the Builder on the room's obscenely large flat screen. Matt was racing around trying to get ready for his rally.

"You sure you can't come with?" he asked. "The hotel has that day care, I'm sure the boys would be happy."

Trina shook her head. "I told you I wasn't going to abandon them for this campaign. I promised the boys we'd take the T to the Science Museum." She really just wanted Matt to leave so she could finish reading in peace.

"We're still on for dinner, right?"

"Yeah," Trina nodded, and kept on reading. She'd just finished when Matt leaned over to kiss her goodbye. He drew away and frowned at her.

"You okay?" he asked. "You're crying."

"I'm fine," she reassured him. "It's just- god, Matt, I hope that someday our boys are as strong and brave as Blaine."


In Jackson, Mississippi, 15 year old Natalie Jansen followed a link off her tumblr dash and read the article with her bedroom door closed and locked. She printed the article off when she finished, folded the paper carefully and set it into the little locked box she kept in the top corner of her closet with her old board games and a box of mangled Barbie dolls.

She wasn't ready, not yet, but every time someone else was ready it gave her courage, too.


In Berkeley, California, Daniel Morey grabbed the Sunday Times on a whim when he stopped for a coffee between his dorm and his job at the library. He didn't get to page through it until he took his lunch break, leaving Cora to deal with the irate engineering student whose classmates were apparently hogging the reserve materials he needed to complete his assignment.

He munched on his granola bar and flipped past the first section. He really just wanted the book reviews, but he stopped and gasped when a picture of Blaine Anderson stared up at him from the first page of the Politics section.

He'd spent years trying not to think about Blaine, or about the way he'd put his life on the line to protect Daniel that night when they were still practically babies. He'd spent two years in therapy talking about the attack, about the guilt he felt for putting Blaine in that position of needing to protect him, about the guilt that dogged him every day for not being able to change who he was.

He'd wondered, often, whether Blaine remembered him, if Blaine ever thought about him or wondered where he was and what he was doing.

He took a deep breath and opened the paper.

Cora found him there, staring at the end of the interview and dripping tears all over the newsprint well past the time he was due back from his break.

She asked him what was wrong, and even though it felt strange, Daniel smiled. "He remembered," was all he could say.

Monday, November 5th 2012

Transcript of NBC Nightly News

Brian Williams: I'm here with NBC political director Chuck Todd, who's going to talk about this last set of polling data. Chuck, on Friday the polls showed the race as a dead heat. Is that still the case?

Chuck Todd: Yes, Brian. I was anxious to see what, if any, repercussions the Anderson campaign was going to face from the tell-all interview Blaine Anderson gave to the New York Times, but at least in our polling the interview hasn't hurt Elaine Anderson at all.

Brian Williams: So what does the map look like tonight?

Chuck Todd: Honestly, no different than it did on Friday. There are still multiple paths to 270 for each candidate. If Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia get called early, they'll probably go to Burt Hummel, in which case it will be a very good night for him. If they remain too close to call well into the night, that might mean good things for Elaine Anderson. Polls close in Colorado at 9 pm Eastern, so if those three East Coast swing states haven't been called by then, we'll have all eyes on the Rocky Mountains.

Brian Williams: Is there still a chance that the electoral college could split and give us a tie?

Chuck Todd: It's possible, but that would mean a lot of unusual results tomorrow night, and I just don't see that happening.

Brian Williams: What can we expect from the campaigns tomorrow?

Chuck Todd: The Hummel camp is headed back to Ohio tonight after a day spent in Colorado and New Mexico. It's expected that they'll have a family day before being joined by Vice Presidential candidate Rita Montero and her family for a gathering in Columbus tomorrow night. The Andersons, including their son Blaine, are at home in Kennebunk, Maine tonight. Matt and Trina Halstead and their boys will meet the Andersons for their party in Portland.

Brian Williams: Thanks, Chuck. Chuck will be back with us tomorrow night beginning at 6 pm Eastern. We'll be on the air all night tomorrow night, and we look forward to seeing you then.

Tuesday, November 6th 2012

Kurt slept in on Election morning. He and his dad hadn't gotten home until after 1 am, and god, his bed felt so good he never wanted to get out of it.

The house was quiet when he woke. Finn had classes at OSU all day, and was going to meet them at the Marriott late in the afternoon. Carole was working. She'd had several coworkers offer to trade shifts with her, but she'd told Kurt that she wanted to stay busy as a distraction.

His dad was at the kitchen table with a plate of toast and a cup of coffee when Kurt finally stumbled downstairs a little before 11 am. He snagged a mug out of the cabinet and poured his own coffee before settling into the chair across from his dad.

"Toast?" His dad pushed the plate over to him, and Kurt took a piece and nibbled on the edges.

"Thanks." The house felt oddly unfamiliar, and that in itself made Kurt uncomfortable. They'd been on the road so long, he'd forgotten what it felt like to have roots anywhere. "It's so weird, being here."

"I know," his dad nodded. "This morning I had to ask Carole which drawer the spoons were in. I felt so silly."

"So it's not strange that this doesn't feel like home anymore?"

His dad downed the last of his coffee and shook his head. "I dunno, Kurt. I don't think I'm one to talk. I have no idea what we're even supposed to do today. I haven't had a day that wasn't planned down to what I ate and when in months. Do you think things will ever be normal again?"

"What's normal?" Kurt asked around a mouthful of toast, and his dad laughed.

"Good point. I do know one thing we need to do today. It's your first election, kiddo, and I need to vote too. How 'bout we go do that and then I'll take you to lunch?"

Kurt nodded. "As long as I don't have to dress up."

"Hell, I'm wearing my rattiest flannel shirt and my work boots. You could wear a paper bag and I think it would be fine today."

He didn't wear a paper bag, just the only clean pair of jeans he had and one of Finn's too-large McKinley Football hoodies. His dad wanted to drive, but the agents refused , so they rode the three blocks to the volunteer fire station that his dad had been voting at since his first election. Kurt was a little embarrassed, getting out of the car and having to wait while the agents cleared the polling place. It felt like such a production, too much of a show for Lima.

Kurt had always felt different there, but at least he'd known he was still a part of the town. Now he didn't feel like part of anything, he just felt sort of lost.

When Carole got home from work, they got back into the car and caravanned to Columbus. Dev was already there, had spent the previous night at the hotel and was working with the volunteers to get ready for the party. They'd booked the ballroom, and John Mellencamp was going to perform. Win or lose, Kurt knew it was going to be a hell of a party.

He really just hoped they would win.


Blaine was unexpectedly on edge all day long. He knew, rationally, that there wasn't going to be any decent election coverage until early evening, but he couldn't help flipping between CNN and MSNBC all day long. His father passed through the living room once around noon, frowned at Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, and retreated into his office with a stack of long-neglected medical journals. His mother joined him for half an hour while she ate her lunch.

"I hope my interview doesn't hurt you," Blaine told her once her sandwich was reduced to crumbs and he'd eaten half her chips.

"It doesn't matter," she said.

"Of course it does!" Blaine argued.

"No," she said with a shake of her head. "It really doesn't. What matters is that you're healthy and learning how to be happy, and that you and I are starting to know each other again. If I win the election, fine. If I don't, I've already won because I have you back."

Blaine rested his head against the back of the couch. "He hasn't called or emailed," he said, giving voice to the fear that had plagued him since Sunday. "I thought I'd hear from him. Maybe he doesn't believe that I'm sorry. Maybe he doesn't . . ." he trailed off.

"Maybe he doesn't love you?" his mother asked.

"Yeah. Maybe he doesn't love me."

"You love him, right?"

"Yeah," Blaine said softly. "I do."

"Have you wondered if he's waiting for you to go to him? You called most of the shots in the relationship. He played it your way, so maybe he wants you to be ready."

"What if I'm ready and he's changed his mind?" Because Blaine knew he'd gotten so much stronger, but he really didn't think he'd be able to handle that rejection.

"That's a chance you have to take if you really do love him."

"So what do I do now?"

His mother smiled at him, a little sparkle in his eye. "The campaign isn't over yet. There's still a plane."


Two hours from Portland to Columbus, and Blaine was on the edge of panic for every minute.

He hated his mother for convincing him it was a good idea.

He hated Trina for siding with his mother.

He hated himself, honestly, for being so scared and unsure that he'd let Kurt go in the first place.

"I can't do this," he mumbled to Max as the plane began to descend, the lights of Columbus glittering in the early darkness.

"Of course you can," Max encouraged him. "You'll be fine, trust me."

Blaine just felt like he was going to be sick, and he was pretty sure it wasn't from motion sickness.


Kurt sat on the floor of their suite next to Rita Montero's 12 year old daughter Debbie and carefully painted her nails red, white, and blue while they waited for something more exciting than the predictable returns out of the Northeast. MSNBC was running the same graphics over again, and Kurt sort of wanted to close his eyes until more polls closed at the top of the hour, but he was interrupted by Dev tapping his shoulder.

Kurt tightened the lid of the blue polish and turned to look at Dev. "You're interrupting manicure time," he teased.

"We ordered pizza, do you think you can go down to the lobby and get it?"

Kurt didn't understand. "Why do we need pizza? There's so much food already."

Dev shrugged. "Talk to your brother. Please just go get it?"

Kurt sighed and rose to his feet. He smiled at Debbie. "When I come back I'll put a clear coat of the glitter polish on top, okay?"

Debbie beamed up at him. "Thanks, Kurt," she said.

It took almost 10 minutes to get down to the lobby, once Ty and one of Finn's agents cleared the elevator and then made sure there was nobody suspicious waiting in the lobby. Kurt looked around and didn't see a pizza guy. The only people down there were the two desk clerks, a businessman talking loudly into his phone, and a teenage boy staring at one of the terrible paintings on the wall. He had curly black hair, a backpack over one shoulder, and his hands stuffed into the pocket of a –

Oh.

Oh.

Kurt knew that hoodie.

Kurt knew that hoodie and those curls and that boy.

He didn't even realize he was moving until he was there, next to Blaine.

"Hey," he said softly.

"Hey." Blaine said back, turning to look at Kurt. Kurt's heart almost broke. Blaine looked tired and pale, and his eyes were bloodshot.

"Don't take this wrong," Kurt said lightly, "but you look like shit."

"So do you," Blaine said.

"I know." Kurt paused. He didn't know what to do or say, and he hadn't even really hoped too hard that something like this might happen. He'd worried that his distance and silence would keep Blaine away. "You came," he said finally.

Blaine smirked at him. "My mother made me, I think she was tired of me moping around."

"I'm sorry I didn't call, after your interview. I didn't know what to say, and I wanted you to be ready. I couldn't- I couldn't give you my heart again, not until you were sure."

"I'm sure," Blaine said, low and soft. "I'm sure and I'm ready and I'm not ashamed of you. I've never been ashamed of you," he insisted. "I was just scared, and I didn't want everything to explode around us."

Kurt reached out and took Blaine's hand. It was cold, and it trembled in his own. "Come up with me, watch the returns. It's going to get exciting soon."

"I'd love that," Blaine said, and he followed Kurt into the elevator. "I love you," he added once the doors closed.

Kurt closed his eyes, pretended that there weren't two agents in the elevator with them. He leaned in and kissed Blaine soft and so so sweet. He felt like something that had been adrift inside of him settled, and he sighed with the relief of it. He pulled away, rested his forehead on Blaine's shoulder. "I love you, too."

Epilogue

January 21-22, 2013

Kurt smoothed the lapels of his tuxedo jacket and gave his bowtie one last tug. He twirled, and grinned at the way the wide pleats of his kilt flared around his knees. "You don't think it's too much, do you?"

Blaine shook his head. "I think you look amazing. I hope you warned Carole, though. I bet more people are going to be talking about your outfit than they are her dress."

Kurt shook his head. "Her dress is incredible. Have you seen it? All those beads, and the way the silk drapes?"

"She was still getting ready when Ty brought me through. How many of these things do we have to go to, anyway?"

"Dad and Carole have to go to all of them. We're going to the Ohio ball, the Commander-in-Chief's ball, and the Triangle Ball." Kurt was really looking forward to the Triangle Ball. "Dad even dropped my curfew for the night, so we can stay out dancing as late as we want." He bounced on his toes a little, turned to his nightstand and retrieved two skinny flutes of sparkling cider, and handed one to Blaine.

"What's the special occasion?" Blaine eyed him warily.

"Besides the fact that my dad was inaugurated today? Well. A little birdie told me that someone got accepted to UVA, and I got some good news myself on Friday."

"Oh!" Blaine exclaimed. "You got into American?"

Kurt grinned and nodded. "I did." He held his glass up for a toast. "To new beginnings."

"New beginnings," Blaine repeated. "To love."

"Love," Kurt echoed. He downed his cider in three gulps, and then tugged Blaine against him for a deep kiss.

They were interrupted by Kurt's dad coughing in the doorway. "Um, boys?"

Kurt broke away and glowered at his father. "Dad."

"You guys ready? We've got a tight schedule."

Kurt held Blaine's gaze, waited for his nod and his smile. "Mr. Anderson," he said, offering Blaine his elbow. "Our limo awaits."

Kurt and Blaine followed his dad and Carole through the residence and out to the waiting car. The city was alive and energized, and Kurt could feel it in every heartbeat.

Everything felt rich and new, and Kurt never wanted to lose the feeling of wonder he had at that moment, his boyfriend and family with him and Washington lit up and welcoming.

He was finally home.

"Today we reaffirm that the battles we've fought these last four years were not in vain. Today we stand together in the shadow of history and declare that we did not give up when times were dark. We did not abandon our brothers and sisters when they were far from home. We did not turn our backs on our neighbors when they needed lifting up, and we did not rest until all of our children were viewed as equal citizens worthy of safe schools and communities, and the ability to build their own brilliant lives with whomever they love."

-Burt Hummel, 2nd Inaugural Address, January 20, 2017