"You okay, little brother?" Cooper asked cautiously when Blaine finally wandered into the kitchen.

Blaine knew Cooper was worried when he didn't call him 'squirt' to annoy him. "I guess you heard the argument," he said.

Cooper nodded. "Was that Sebastian that stormed out of here?"

"Yeah," Blaine admitted with a sigh. "How much did you hear?"

"Lots of loud voices, but couldn't make out what either of you were saying," Cooper said. "Sounded like you were getting along just fine before that though."

Blaine closed his eyes in embarrassment. He'd been afraid that Cooper would overhear that. "Yeah, well, sex doesn't solve everything."

"Way you two were going at it, you should have been too tired to start an argument," Cooper said with a hint of a teasing smile.

"You won't have to worry about that again," Blaine said. He opened the fridge to find something for breakfast, but then closed it again when nothing looked appealing.

"So what were you arguing about?" Cooper asked, leaning forward slightly.

Blaine shrugged. "Nothing that matters."

"Yeah, it sounded like two people discussing something that didn't matter," Cooper said.

"I'm going out for breakfast," Blaine announced. He just wanted to put last night's mistake behind him. "I'm working today, so I won't be back until this evening."

"We doing Karaoke tonight?" Cooper asked as Blaine slipped his shoes on.

"Yeah, sure," Blaine said before leaving.

Blaine managed to push the argument with Sebastian out of his mind while working, but as soon as he put aside his Aladdin persona, the argument began to nag at him again. He couldn't help but wonder if he was letting his father's influence override his own judgment. Even if he would rather stay here, could he afford to throw away a sure thing (the NYADA scholarship) in the hopes that something better might come along later?

His thoughts were still running in pointless circles when he stepped out of the shower and started to pull his street clothes back on. He briefly considered skipping Karaoke, but he had already told Cooper he'd be there. Besides, all he'd do if he went home was overthink things and make himself sick with worry. Damn Sebastian for getting under his skin this way.

Jeff watched Blaine toss back another shot of something that was far too strong for a light-weight like Blaine to be drinking. Even Nick seemed to be getting a little concerned.

"At least his brother is here and can make sure he gets home okay," Nick said, leaning close so that only Jeff could hear him.

"I thought he'd be in a better mood after last night," Jeff said. Blaine hadn't said anything about what had happened after he left with Sebastian, but if the amount of alcohol Blaine was consuming was an indication, 'it hadn't gone well' would be an understatement.

"I'll see if Cooper knows what happened," Nick suggested. "You make sure our friend here doesn't end up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning."

Nothing Jeff tried would distract Blaine from his apparent intention to get drunk as skunk. Even Blaine's friends from work were throwing worried looks his way.

"I hope you found something out," Jeff said to Nick when he returned. He was beginning to feel a bit desperate. At least it was getting busier, so Blaine wasn't able to get refills as quickly.

Nick relayed what little Cooper knew about the night before. "He doesn't have a clue what they were arguing about though. Sebastian stormed out this morning and Blaine wouldn't talk about it."

"We have to do something," Jeff said as the waitress arrived with another round.

"I think this is your department," Nick said with a wary look at Blaine who was ignoring the concerned glances of everyone around him.

"Since when are drunks my department?" Jeff protested.

"I'm no good with the relationship stuff," Nick said. "If I hadn't pushed Sebastian into going to the club last night, we wouldn't be watching Blaine drown his sorrows now."

"It's not your fault," Jeff said with a sigh. "I thought it was a good idea too, once you explained it to me."

Blaine slammed his glass down on the table and began looking for a way out of the semi-circular booth he was trapped in. He seemed to decide that Nick and Jeff's side was the least crowded. "I'm singing," he announced and made a shooing motion to get them out his way.

Nick exchanged a panicked look with Jeff as they slid out of the way. "You need a couple of backup singers?" Jeff asked, hoping they could run interference in case Blaine was about to embarrass himself.

"Yeah, sure," Blaine replied offhandedly. He didn't wait for them before stumbling a few steps towards the stage. Nick started to reach out to steady him, but Blaine seemed to gather himself and walked forward a little more cautiously without any obvious listing.

"This is going to be a train wreck," Nick muttered to Jeff.

The DJ running Karaoke was familiar with Blaine and let him go next without regards for the list.

"Are we singing?" Cooper asked as he joined them. He sounded just a little concerned as he walked towards his brother. "This isn't going to be some 'my dog died, crying in my drink' song, is it?"

Blaine ignored Cooper as he made his selection with a triumphant grin. "Where are my backup singers?" Blaine asked. He looked around until he found Nick and Jeff standing nervously beside the stage. "You can't sing from there."

"Uh, Blaine, what are we singing?" Nick asked cautiously as they joined him on stage.

"This is the song Sebastian and I sang together at Prom," Blaine announced. "It was our song."

Jeff threw a panicked look at Nick, who just shrugged. "Don't look at me. I wasn't at their prom."

Jeff finally caught the name of the song on the Karaoke prompter. "That's not a love song."

"That's a 'screw all of you' song," Cooper said, almost in appreciation.

Jeff took a deep breath and hoped that this didn't go as badly as he feared. The first words of the song made it obvious what Blaine was feeling though.

*This ain't a song for the broken-hearted,* Blaine sang. He even managed the slightly gravely tone of Jon Bon Jovi. *No silent prayer for faith departed. And I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd, you're gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud.*

Blaine always put on an excellent performances but he was putting everything he had into this song.

*It's my life, it's now or never. I ain't gonna live forever. I just want to live while I'm alive.*

*It's my life. My heart is like the open highway. Like Frankie said, I did it my way. I just wanna live while I'm alive.*

*It's my life.*

Jeff tried to keep up with the chorus, but was glad that Nick and Cooper were there to carry it. The song sounded like something Sebastian would sing, but how on earth did it become 'their song'? It sounded more like something you'd sing to someone when you were breaking up.

*This is for the ones who stood their ground. For Tommy and Gina who never backed down.*

*Tomorrow's getting harder, make no mistake. Luck, it ain't enough, you've got to make your own breaks.*

Blaine sounded defiant, almost angry.

*Better stand tall when they're calling you out. Don't bend, don't break, baby, don't back down.*

Blaine let his 'backup singers' take over the remaining chorus. He stood, hanging onto the mike like it was a lifeline. Jeff was afraid the alcohol had finally caught up to him and was wondering if they were going to have to help him off the stage.

The song finally came to an end and Blaine finally looked up as the patrons broke into a thunderous applause. It had probably been the best performance this place had seen all year.

Blaine gave a nod of appreciation for the audience and then walked out of the bar. It took a minute for Jeff and the others to catch up with him.

"Where are we heading, little brother?" Cooper asked, throwing an arm over Blaine's shoulder. Jeff trailed behind with Nick.

"I need you to help me make a video," Blaine replied. Jeff wasn't sure if Blaine was answering Cooper's question or not.

"Sure thing. You auditioning for something?" Cooper asked.

Blaine shook his head but didn't offer an explanation. He turned his head to look back at his friends. "I could use your help too."

"You're making a video tonight?" Jeff asked in surprise. Just how drunk was Blaine?

"I know what I want," Blaine said with determination. "I'm not backing down this time."

Sebastian hadn't received an email from Blaine all summer, but here one sat in his inbox, staring at him as if judging him for all his past sins. After the argument they'd had the other night, he fully expected recriminations if not outright denunciation. Staring at the title line wasn't giving any clues as to the contents. He might as well just get it over with.

# # #

To: Sebastian Smyth

From: Blaine Anderson

Subject: Lonely No More

Maybe I do tend to listen to others more than myself, but you have no right to try to keep information from me just because you're afraid it might influence me. You have all had your say, but I have made my decision. Regardless of what happens next, I'm not backing down. The link at the bottom tells you exactly where I stand.

Blaine

# # #

Sebastian hesitated with his cursor over the youtube link at the bottom of the email. Blaine's email was rather cryptic, but it wasn't the rejection he'd expected. It didn't tell him what Blaine's decision was concerning or what the answer was either. He couldn't not watch the video though.

It seemed to take forever for the video to load. Sebastian had to remind himself to breathe while he waited. Finally, the video showed Blaine in the foreground with Niff standing behind him, fidgeting as if they were nervous. He didn't recognize the music at first. Even after the lyrics started he wasn't sure what the song was about, but Blaine had an intensity about him that drew Sebastian in and held him.

*Now it seems to me that you know just what to say, but words are only words. Can you show me something else?*

*Can you swear to me that you'll always be this way? Show me how you feel, more than ever, baby.*

Sebastian took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Blaine was magnificent.

*I don't wanna be lonely no more. I don't wanna have to pay for this. I don't want to know the lover at my door is just another heartache on my list.*

*I don't wanna be angry no more. You know I could never stand for this, so when you tell me that you love me know for sure. I don't want to be lonely anymore.*

If Blaine were there in person, Sebastian wouldn't have been able to deny him anything at that point and the song was only half through.

*Now it's hard for me with my heart still on the mend. Open up to me, like you do your girlfriends. And you sing to me and it's harmony. Boy, what you do to me is everything. Make me say anything; just to get you back again. Why can't we just try?*

Sebastian had no idea that Blaine could move like that. 'Sex on a stick' didn't half cover it.

*What if I was good to you? What if you were good to me? What if I could hold you till I feel you move inside of me? What if it was paradise? What if we were symphonies? What if I gave all my life to find some way to stand beside you?*

"Who is that?" Ana asked from over Sebastian's shoulder. "He's good."

"Blaine," Sebastian whispered, almost reverently. It didn't really register with him that someone had spoken to him; he answered out of reflex.

"Aladdin? Wow, he's hot," Ana said.

Sebastian finally realized that he wasn't alone and closed the laptop. "Is there something you want?" he asked archly.

"Just heard the music, but it didn't sound like Rob Thomas singing so I got curious," Ana said. She motioned towards the laptop. "What was that all about? I thought you two were finished?"

"Apparently, I've being given another chance," Sebastian said.

"He's staying in LA?" Ana asked in surprise.

"He didn't say," Sebastian admitted.

Ana gave him a long, searching look that made him a little uncomfortable. "Maybe it doesn't matter," she finally said. "You're miserable without him and for some strange reason, he seems to want you too."

Sebastian ran a hand through his hair as he frowned.

"You're overthinking it," Ana said. "Let yourself just feel for once."

"I make a lousy boyfriend," Sebastian said in exasperation. "I don't know why he doesn't just give up on me as a lost cause."

"Neither do I, but neither of us is Blaine aka Aladdin," Ana replied with a fond smile. "Apparently, he sees something he likes and he's not afraid to go after it. I wouldn't throw that away without giving it my best effort."

Sebastian stared at her for a long moment while his brain and his heart battled it out. "What do I do?"

Ana tapped the laptop. "I expect he'll be waiting for an answer."

Sebastian shook his head. "I wish I knew what to tell him."

"You know what to tell him," Ana replied with a smile. "You just have to bite the bullet and do it."

"Come on, Blaine. Just a little longer?" Jeff begged. "One of the guys you work with said he'd be by in a bit and we could do a group number."

Blaine sighed dispiritedly, but nodded. It had been three days since he'd sent his email to Sebastian and it was obvious that silence was the only answer he was going to get. He really didn't feel like Karaoke tonight, but Jeff and Cooper had ganged up on him, so here he was. He'd vowed that he wasn't going to drink more than a couple of beers tonight though. Hangovers were a bitch.

"I'm going to the restroom," Blaine said and stood without waiting for a response. He was surprised when Jeff let him go by himself. He and Nick both seemed to be afraid that he was going to try to slip off, even though they were his ride home.

The guy that was singing wasn't bad, but his choice of song was romantic and sappy and was grating on Blaine's nerves. Maybe he should have tried something like that on Sebastian instead of a song that was basically a challenge. Blaine shook his head at his reflection in the restroom mirror as he washed his hands. Sappy and romantic was his style, not Sebastian's. Maybe Sebastian just wasn't interested.

The sappy singer was just finishing when Blaine walked back into the bar area. He took an empty seat at the end of the bar and ordered another beer. He could use a few minutes away from his well-meaning, if overbearing, friends.

The DJ announced the next singer, "We have a new face tonight, though he prefers not to incriminate himself before learning your reaction to his song."

There were a few laughs from the regulars. Blaine didn't bother to see if he knew who the new singer was. All his friends had been up there at one time or another already.

"I was supposed to sing this song at my boyfriend's prom," a familiar voice said into the mike. "We, uh, kind of got side-tracked and left a little early though."

There were more laughs as Blaine turned towards the stage in surprise. He had never seen Sebastian look nervous before, but he kept shifting his weight from foot to foot as he waited for the song to queue up. Their gazes met briefly just before the music started.

*When I was younger, I saw my daddy cry and curse at the wind. He broke his own heart and I watched as he tried to reassemble it.*

*And my momma swore that she would never let herself forget. And that was the day that I promised I'd never sing of love if it does not exist.*

*But darling, you are the only exception. You are the only exception.*

Tears welled in Blaine's eyes as he realized that this was the answer he'd been waiting for.

*Maybe I know somewhere deep in my soul that love never lasts. And we've got to find other ways to make it alone or keep a straight face.*

*And I've always lived like this; keeping a comfortable distance.*

*And up until now I had sworn to myself that I'm content with loneliness because none of it was ever worth the risk.*

*But you are the only exception. You are the only exception.*

Blaine had to swallow the lump that formed in his throat. He'd been so sure that Sebastian was going to walk away. He'd never expected anything like this. It was beautiful.

*I've got a tight grip on reality but I can't let go of what's in front of me here. I know you're leaving in the morning when you wake up.*

*Leave me with some kind of proof it's not a dream.*

As the song began repeating the chorus, Blaine walked towards the stage as if it was a dream. Sebastian hopped down and grabbed the hand Blaine offered as he finished the last line.

* You are the only exception and I'm on my way to believing.*