Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit. Maroon 5 and Co. own "One More Night."
It starts when they're talking about Kurt by Blaine's locker and Sam puts a hand on his back, and suddenly Blaine looks up and he's there, and -
Backtrack. Pause. Delete, delete, delete.
It starts when he asks Sam to stay after school to help plan for McKinley's semi-annual food drive and he offers Sam a ride home afterward -
Control A. Delete.
It starts when Sam asks him out to dinner to apologize - no, wait, Tina and Sugar were there -
Pause. Control A, C, V, S. Delete.
It starts when Sam asks him out to dinner.
It starts when Sam asks him out to dinner. It worsens when Blaine accepts.
It starts when Sam asks him out to dinner. It worsens when Blaine accepts. It becomes real when Blaine wonders what it would be like to kiss him.
Pause. Delete. Control Z.
It starts when Sam asks him out to dinner. It worsens when Blaine accepts. It becomes real when Blaine wonders what it would be like to kiss him. It becomes an obsession when he can't stop thinking about it. It becomes a nightmare when he can't stop dreaming about it. It becomes a reality when he asks him out again.
Blaine feels drained and hyperaware, suspended between two realities.
One is so crippingly aware of Kurt's absence that he feels on the verge of a meltdown. He wants to call Kurt, text him, anything that will grab his attention, and apologize until Kurt forgives him. Restraint comes at a cost; he can't sleep at night, so anxious is he to not miss a phone call that won't come. Thankfully, he's acquired the singularly unique habit of high school seniors of being able to convincingly sleep with his eyes open, and he spends a good third of his daylight hours compensating for those lost at night.
Still, the waking dreams are fuzzy, caught between two worlds: one where Mike, Mercedes, Finn, Rachel, Quinn, Puck, Santana, even Rory are all still present, waiting impatiently for his arrival in the choir room (once in his half-awake delirium he actually stood up and walked out of his English class without a word; his teacher didn't even give him a warning for the blatant disregard of his teachings), another where reality twists inward, thrusts itself to the forefront of his thoughts until it's all he can think about. Reality which means empty seats and crowded, nameless hallways. Reality which means he's expected to hold up the fort, to be a foundation for the few remaining veterans, to build anew as he's done so many times before.
Reality without Kurt.
It's a miracle, he reflects, that he hasn't gone insane yet. Sometimes he wonders if his visit to New York was the sole reason that he has retained any hold on his sanity. (Kurt's phone call before their last competition simultaneously grounded him in the present and took him away from the moment, making all of it seem so damn irrelevant. Nothing matters without Kurt, nothing matters without future and dreams and freedom, and sectionals was merely one more obstacle standing between them.)
In its own strange way, it's liberating, the acute focus he has on Kurt's absence. He seeks out new, extraordinary ways to distract himself, and finds new, extraordinary things along the way. He becomes the new Rachel, class president, student council president, founder of no less than eight new clubs, and president or vice-president of the remaining groups within his reach. He's busy twenty-four seven, and he likes it. He likes not having any time to think or stop or breathe.
Because when he finally does stop and take a deep breath, it hurts. Knowing that everything he does is compensation, everything is only one more way to stop thinking about Kurt.
Passion does extraordinary things, he thinks. Passion warps, corrupts, burns. Passion strives and conquers and lives.
He lacks passion.
Until he starts crushing on Sam.
It hits him so hard he's dizzied by it, breathless and terrified. He feels like he's dangling over the edge of a cliff, grasping as grass roots that keep slipping between his fingers. He offers the same smiles, the same looks, the same careful combination of partial and full attention that distinguishes friends from crushes. He keeps his retorts sharp when they banter. He swallows unnecessary compliments, careful not to let a misplaced word, a wandering hand land at the wrong moment. He lives and breathes and does his best not to change, because change means starry eyes and grasping hands and breathless remarks.
Change terrifies him.
He knows that Sam's straight, and that's what makes it worse.
It's dangerous. Unwanted. Unwelcome. Uncalled for. Sinister. Conniving. Corrupt.
He labels it, demeans it, degrades it at every opportunity.
He makes it worse than it is, warning himself that if he gives so much as a single indication that his feelings aren't utterly platonic, Sam will hate him. He'll resent that he ruined their friendship by turning it into something it isn't. He'll resent that everything Sam does makes Blaine want more. Every passing touch, every fleeting remark, every stupid word, every damn impression. He'll look at Blaine and see what people mean when they accuse someone of being a predatory gay.
He doesn't want that. He wants to look at Sam and feel nothing more than a brotherly sort of affection. He wants to be able to hug him or pat his shoulder or even just stand near him without feeling a little burst of electricity sear through him. He wants to be them again.
He can't help it.
He stares. He stares at Sam in the hallways, hurriedly finding reasons to look away the times he's caught at it. He worries and frets between classes about the unwanted witnesses, Marley and Jake and Artie and even Sugar, but none of them say a word about it. It takes him the better part of a week to realize that his own painful awareness of everything isn't reflected in the outer world. They don't care.
They don't know.
That's the difference. That's the thread that he walks between reality and unreality. As long as no one else knows, the blame stays internal, the secret unspoken.
It's a horrible gift, he realizes, to be utterly, completely ignored for the sake of polity.
Because no one thinks of him that way. No one thinks that Blaine would actually, seriously, holy-fuck-you're-not-kidding crush on his straight best friend.
No, no. Blaine is utterly blameless, guilt-free, saint-like.
It crushes him, to know that they still don't know the full details of his and Kurt's break up. It kills him to think that someday he'll have to tell them, have to let it out for all to bear witness, have to wait for their judgment.
He hates it. He hates it more than he ever hated the Jeremiah disaster (because, really, he deserved that one), the Rachel debacle (he's still apologizing internally for that one, grateful that he didn't continue to date her any longer than he needed to), the Sebastian crisis (which slowly morphed into something even more sinister than he considered the other man capable of). No, he hates it, because he has no one to really blame for this one but himself.
Blaine lets out a slow, shuddering sigh, resting his forehead against his hands. He's been sitting in the choir room for the better part of an hour, and he still hasn't come anywhere near contriving a solution. It seems simple: stop liking Sam. Stop looking at him that way. Stop imagining what could be, what might have been, what never was. Stop hoping for a change. Stop loving him.
He doesn't love him. He loves the way that Sam makes him feel included, wanted, important. He loves the way he makes Blaine smile. He loves the way he makes Blaine laugh. He loves the way that he makes Blaine feel loved and protected and safe under an arm, pressed closer to his side than strictly necessary. He loves the way he makes Blaine feel alive again, like he has some purpose, some meaning in the immediate present and the future beyond. He even loves the way that Sam looks at him like he's not a bad person.
He loves it, but he doesn't love Sam. He has to remind himself at every turn, because every time he sees Sam, he questions it. He wonders. He berates. He continues to stare.
And he hates himself.
"Dude, what are you doing here?" Sam asks, nudging the door to the choir room open a little more.
Blaine blinks, looking up and staring at him. "Hey," is all he says, his mouth suddenly far drier than he wants. He clears his throat in a vain attempt to help. "Hi."
"Hi," Sam echoes, brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you doing here?" he repeats. "The dance ended hours ago."
Blaine shrugs, picking at the cuff of his shirt. "I was thinking about regionals," he lies.
Sam grins. Blaine's chest constricts a little. "Yeah?" Sam's smile fades after a moment, replaced by a pensive frown. "It's no guarantee. Finn's right. We still have to convince the judges." Walking over to him, he puts a hand on Blaine's shoulder - kiss me, hug me, love me, please, please, please - and gives it a single gentle squeeze. "Thanks for supporting me back there. I appreciate it."
Blaine swallows once, twice, his throat clicking dryly. His vision blurs, but he still manages to say in a relatively normal voice, "Any time."
Sam nods, giving his shoulder another squeeze before backing off, holding out a hand invitingly. "Want a lift? Lauren's driving."
Blaine wrinkles his nose at the thought, mindlessly accepting the hand-up, trying to keep his cringe entirely internal when he realizes how clammy his own hands are. Sam doesn't seem to notice, leading the way out of the door, and Blaine has to force himself not to be disappointed when he lets go of Blaine's hand at once.
He doesn't remember the walk aside from pointedly not-staring at Sam's ass. He does remember squeezing inside Puck's pick-up between Sam and Sugar. Sugar immediately squeals and latches onto his arm, apparently pleased at the prospect of having someone to lend an eager ear to her chatty monologue about her rousing night with Joe. (None of which Blaine, admittedly, wants to hear, but he doesn't have the heart to interrupt her.)
A gentle hand nudges him awake between one blink and the next, and he stares owlishly out the window. "Dude?" Sam asks, sounding concerned, while Blaine jerks upright fast enough his neck cracks. He winces.
"I'm sorry, I just - "
"No, it's okay," Sam assures, holding up his hand and patting Blaine's knee in a conciliatory gesture. "Don't worry about it. Is this your place?"
Blaine looks out the window, nods, and climbs out of the truck, stumbling a little as soon as his feet touch the ground. "Thanks," he blurts to Lauren, who throws him a jaunty salute before wheeling off, taking the rest of their crew with her.
Feeling more exhausted than ever, Blaine disappears inside his home, collapsing face-first on his bed as soon as he reaches it, not even bothering toe off his shoes.
His parents are already asleep, but he doesn't care. He stays up for hours, trying to think of a gentle way to just tell him, to tell Sam that he's madly in love with him and it's driving him crazy in more ways than one.
He doesn't know when he finally falls asleep.
He does know Kurt's accusatory, unyielding frown where he stares at him from the corner of the choir room. Sam's horrified, shocked expression from the doorway seems to make a small piece of Blaine's heart break away, but he only registers it peripherally, his gaze trained on Kurt.
"Kurt," he rasps. "Kurt, please."
"I don't trust you."
"I'm not - it's not - "
"It's nothing?" Kurt finishes, scathing and dismissive at once. "Jeremiah was nothing. Rachel was nothing. Sebastian was nothing."
Blaine's stomach twists with each repetition, Sam staring in tense-jawed disapproval from his stance by the door. Try as he might, Blaine can't meet his gaze, forced instead to watch Kurt, to see Kurt, his heart aching so strongly he wonders for a moment if it's possible to go into cardiac arrest from sheer emotional overload.
Kurt's face remains firm and unyielding, though, his entire stance rigid.
"I love you," Blaine whispers, desperate, imploring, as he leaps to his feet. "I love you, Kurt."
Kurt laughs, long, hard.
"Why didn't you trust me?" Kurt asks, his laughter tapering off. "Why didn't you trust me not to abandon you, Blaine? Why didn't you trust me to stay faithful to you, to still love you when a year was over?"
"I - I did - "
"You didn't," Kurt cuts off. "You slept with him."
Blaine opens his mouth to say something and closes it a moment later. "I love you," he whispers. "I love you, I love you, I love you." Propelled by some irresistible force, he covers the distance between them, staggering back when Kurt's face dissolves and Sam's appears in its place.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Sam asks, right there, right there. Blaine's entire world zeroes in, narrows down, and suddenly he doesn't see Sam's blue-green eyes.
He's sees Kurt's.
"Do you?" Kurt asks quietly, for one moment appearing in Sam's place, reaching out to squeeze Blaine's hand, and it's so familiar and simple and them that Blaine can't breathe. "Do you love me? Or do you love him?"
Blaine leans forward wordlessly to kiss him, eyes sliding shut so he doesn't have to see, doesn't have to decide, doesn't have to watch his subconscious betray him.
Because he knows that it's Kurt. It's always been Kurt.
It's Sam who lurches back from him a moment later, Sam who dissolves when he wakes, Sam's voice that greets him when he musters a sleepy, "H'lo?" in response. "K? What's up?"
"Oh. Uh. Hey, Blaine. It's me. Sam."
Blaine closes his eyes, and wills himself not to break down.
"Hey, Sam," he responds quietly, sitting up. "What's wrong? Did something happen? Are you okay?" Panic curls tight in his chest at the thought. Why else would Sam call him? Already planning how he can sneak out of his house at three AM without raising interest, he almost misses Sam's response.
"Everything's fine, dude. Y'okay?"
Blaine deflates. "Yeah, Sam, I'm . . . " He sighs. "Everything's fine." It's not, not even close, but it's better than admitting the truth.
"That's good." A pause. "Listen, you know that . . . you can tell me anything, right? That we're friends?"
Blaine feels the knife twisting deeper in his gut, trying to come up with a coherent response that isn't, "I love Kurt" or, worse, "I love you." At last, he manages, "I know." And then: "I know. Thank you." He means it, in some rational, honest corner of his mind. He means it with the portion of his heart that still manages to divide the lines between friendship and love properly.
Blaine misses Sam's response, startling when Sam asks if he wants him to leave. "No," he blurts, stupidly, instantly berating himself for it. "No, no, I don't . . . I don't mind," he says, attempting to remedy the situation. He could almost feel Kurt's eyes boring into him from behind, staring him down.
"Okay," is all Sam says, and there's something immensely calming about the affirmation. In spite of himself, Blaine relaxes a little, wondering if maybe, somehow, maybe things would be okay if he just . . . accepted it. He had a crush on Sam. Maybe it was even - dare he say it - real.
Maybe he should tell him. Not to apologize, either.
Kurt's a phantom. Kurt's a possibility at the edge of the realm of feasibility.
Sam's . . . Sam's right here. Sam would understand. Sam would -
". . . Kurt loves you, right? Like . . . really loves you."
Sam's not Kurt.
Blaine chuckles because he can't help it. It's laugh or cry, and he doesn't want to cry anymore.
"I know," he repeats, trying to put some strength behind the words when all he wants to shout are the opposite.
"You're not a bad guy," Sam continues. Blaine closes his eyes, trying to meet Kurt's gaze even as reality quickly reasserts itself - Kurt isn't here, Sam is. "Whatever anyone else says . . . you're not. And what you did for Tina was . . . it was really nice of you."
Would you react the same way about me? If you knew?
Blaine swallows, closes his eyes, tries not to look between the two of them, tries desperately to separate them. He doesn't want to look at a Sam with Kurt's face, Kurt's eyes.
He doesn't know how he manages a response.
He can almost hear the smile in Sam's voice when he says, "Me, too. Whatever happens with the whole . . . Warblers' thing. Okay?"
"Okay," Blaine says, a barely there whisper.
"I'm gonna go now, okay?"
Blaine swallows soundlessly. "Okay."
"You gonna be all right?"
"I think so."
He can almost picture Sam nodding. "If you don't . . . call me first."
I can't. "Will do."
Sam smiles. Blaine doesn't need to be able to see it. "Thank you."
Blaine breathes out, very slowly. "You're welcome," he says, hanging up.
Choose, Kurt beckons.
Blaine laughs, burying his face in his pillow. You're not real. You're not real.
He falls asleep with Kurt's specter slowly walking off, disappearing at the edge of his horizon.
. o .
Blaine feels haggard.
"You okay?" Tina asks, sliding onto the bench next to him.
Blaine tenses his jaw and says nothing.
"You haven't eaten anything," Tina prompts, giving him a little nudge.
Blaine wordlessly stands up, taking his full lunch tray with him, and dumps it in the trash, walking back over to his seat and resting his head on his hands.
Tina plucks the apple off her own tray and sets it in front of him. "Eat," she orders.
Blaine peels it mechanically with his plastic knife before setting it back on her tray.
"Stop being a zombie."
Blaine says nothing.
Tina frowns. Then, before he can respond, she picks up his untouched water bottle, uncaps it, and upends the entirety of its contents over his head.
Blaine sputters, offering an indignant, "Tina!" in response.
"Oh, so you do remember my name," she says, sounding distinctly peeved. "What the hell, Blaine?"
Blaine sighs, using a napkin to dab the worst of the water off his face. "What?" he asks, his voice coming out a little sharper than he intends. "What do you want me to say?"
"Why are you acting like this?"
"You know why," Blaine retorts.
Tina stares at him for exactly thirty seconds before sighing and grabbing his arm, dragging him away from the table. He doesn't protest, following her out into the hallway and pulling his arm away once the door closes behind them. "You have to tell him," she says at last, firmly.
Blaine stiffens. "I can't," he says, one hand sliding to grip his satchel strap firmly.
Tina intercepts his hand, intertwining their fingers and giving Blaine's a firm squeeze. "Blaine. You can."
"I'm gay. He's straight. It doesn't work that way - "
"Who's straight?" Sam asks, ambling up beside them.
Blaine's grip turns white-knuckled. "No one," he blurts, and before Tina can grab his satchel and hold him in place, he bolts.
It doesn't happen the way he expects it to. He expects to wake up one morning and stare at his bedroom ceiling and feel . . . nothing. No conflicted feelings, no scathing rebukes, no angry responses. Nothing.
It doesn't happen that way.
Slowly, he approaches Kurt, his mouth dry. "Hi," he says softly, unable to believe that Kurt's here, Kurt's here. He's barely conscious of Sam's presence somewhere in the opposite room, separated by a wall. Seconds ago, he could have pinpointed Sam's presence merely by the sound of his voice. Now, he's not certain if there's even a world beyond this empty hallway and Kurt.
"Hi," Kurt responds, a little uncertain, a little hopeful, as he offers a tiny smile. "You look amazing."
Blaine glances down at himself reflexively. He's decked out in a suit and bow tie, nothing extraordinary for a wedding. He stops breathing once Kurt enters his narrow field of vision, wordlessly adjusting his bow tie against his collar.
"You look amazing," Kurt repeats quietly.
"You, too," Blaine manages, forcing himself not to move, not to simply lurch forward and kiss him breathless.
Kurt does it for him.
It's not until later - much later - that he learns about Adam. That he realizes how far Kurt has moved on, how much he has receded into the realm of unattainable. But it's not Adam that Kurt stands beside for the entirety of the wedding. It's not Adam that Kurt pulls quietly away after a time. It's not Adam that Kurt tugs into the hotel room.
They're both wary, hesitating to do more than the other offers. Yet it's - it's so much more than Blaine thought they could ever have again, and all thoughts of Sam recede when he pulls Kurt on top of him, kissing him slow and deep.
He doesn't know why they do it, why they ignore the bigger questions and just listen. Not a word passes between them, hours passing in quiet, gentle, comforting loneliness.
They're not lonely, Blaine reflects a time later. They've been lonely.
The loneliness is over.
And all at once, Blaine feels at peace.
It takes another week for Blaine to muster the courage to tell Sam.
Sam doesn't blame him. Sam doesn't yell at him. Sam doesn't even laugh, even though he half-expected, half-dreaded it.
"I know," is all Sam says, reaching out to give his shoulder a gentle squeeze.
Blaine exhales, slowly, and feels the last of the tension dissolve within him.
"Thank you," he says, softly, unable to help himself. "For not . . . " He can't bring himself to say it, to bring the accusations into reality.
Sam doesn't make him. "No matter what, we're friends. I know that . . . what you were feeling wasn't me."
"It wasn't you," Blaine agrees, stepping back and looking around the choir room. "I'm sorry that . . . I didn't tell you sooner."
"Hey." Sam's voice draws his attention, and he offers Blaine a slight smile. "It's okay, dude. I get it. I don't think I would have told me if I was in your place, either." He pause, then adds, "Not that I'm attracted to dudes. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally cool with the whole gay thing, but - "
"It's not for you," Blaine finishes.
Sam nods. "Right."
Blaine shakes his head, amused, relieved. "Kurt and I . . . we . . . we need to focus on us for a bit. And I think that . . . I got so caught up not focusing on him, that I kind of forget how . . . really amazing he was. And how you're . . . you're amazing, Sam, don't get me wrong - "
"But I'm not him," Sam finishes.
It's Blaine's turn to nod.
"Don't let him go," Sam says, stern and gentle in his own way, arms folded across his chest. "You two . . . you need to give it a better chance before you do. You can't quit on each other. Not without a fight."
Blaine nods again. "We won't," he assures.
It's a promise that he knows he'll keep.
Author's Notes: So, why "One More Night"?
Sam is Blaine's last hurrah before Kurt. Sam is Blaine's last crush, his last misplaced affection before he finds his soul mate, once and for all.
One More Night can be interpreted (and often is) as a one night stand. Sam is like that for Blaine, minus the sexual implications. He's a fling that Blaine has because he can't have something else, something infinitely better.
Because Sam is, ultimately, nothing more than a reflection of what Blaine loves in Kurt.
He's the last flaw in the equation. Adam is Kurt's.
Adam and Kurt's situation isn't a perfect mirror image of Blaine's and Sam's (how could it be?). However, I do believe that the similarities are there, and I hope that, without delving into a much lengthier story, it was implied heavily enough to understand that Blaine and Kurt got together again not because Kurt suddenly forgave Blaine for cheating on him (I still think that will take a very, very long time to mend from), but because Kurt realized that Blaine was the one for him.
Just as Kurt is the one for Blaine.
I will say it again: this is not a story about Blam. It's not a story about Kadam.
It's a story about Klaine.
Thank you for reading. I love you all.