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.
Some days, the sun shines.
It's difficult to measure happiness by any standard forms of derivation, because it is nothing more than a series of happy accidents: good coffee, timely transportation, a pat on the shoulder at the most necessary of times. A positive word, an extended deadline, a completed project. A new friend. An old one returned.
It's good living. It's joyful, fruitful living.
As Blaine loops his bow tie around his neck and smiles in the mirror, he thinks that today might be one of those good days.
His right shoulder is still tender, but he doesn't mind, flexing it a little as he pulls his gray cardigan more snugly over his arm. Sliding his satchel over his left arm and pocketing his phone - Cooper's already texted him twice, first to let him know that he had an audition that morning for a tentative comedy pilot, secondly to apologize for texting at two in the morning - he runs one hand self-consciously over his hair before stepping out the door.
It's warm outside, and he smiles before he even sees Tina standing outside her car door, brow scrunched in worry. Both of her eyebrows lift in surprise when he steps outside, padding over to the car and sliding into the passenger's seat without a word.
They don't talk much - Glee club rehearsals, graduation, summer - but Blaine doesn't need to say anything. She darts the occasional stunned glance at him as though she half-expects him to collapse and plunge them back into a new world of pain and chaos and fear.
He turns up the radio, leans back, and says nothing. Eventually, she relaxes.
They pull up in the McKinley parking lot and Blaine lets her open his door, smiling a little in amusement as he steps out of the car. "Thanks, Tina," he says, reaching over to squeeze her hand once briefly.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" she asks, eyeing him skeptically.
"Come on," he insists, grabbing her hand and linking their fingers together firmly as he tows her along. It's a little different, left-handed, but it works and she doesn't protest, opening the door for him without a word.
The hallways are quieter, but he's used to it by now. It's only six more weeks until graduation, and with classes in full finals' lock down mode, Blaine isn't surprised that most conversations are centered around academics conflicting with personal desires. (Then again, he thinks, the vast majority of hallway conversations relate to academic conflicts interfering with personal desires.)
He's already arranged with Ms. Pillsbury to meet after school for the next four weeks or so to fulfill his requirements for graduation. It's intensive - he still has to keep up with his regular classwork, and he's only sketchy at best left-handed - but it's worthwhile to know that his summer won't be plagued with thoughts of ensuring he graduates in time to enroll in the fall term. He's already lost a year courtesy of the first Sadie Hawkins' dance he ever went to; he isn't about to lose another.
It's a short walk to his locker, Tina quietly slipping off to stop by her own. Blaine appreciates her concern, but he also likes that she knows when to step back and let him have some breathing room. Everyone's been a little edgy since his return - not that he blames them - but it's nice to be reminded that he's still . . . him. To them.
He's still Blaine.
"Hey, you," Marley says, appearing in his field of vision as he shuts his locker door. Her own eyebrows arch in surprise when she looks him over, asking, "You're not - ?"
"Not anymore," he assures, sliding one hand to grip his satchel a little more tightly. He offers a smile of his own as he adds, "I'm . . . I'm ready for this."
She stares at him for another long moment before nodding once. "If you're sure," is all she says.
They walk in companionable silence to the choir room. Blaine doesn't miss the way that she lingers by his right arm, a human shield, alert and steady.
The New Directions don't notice it, at first. Marley and he slip into the room largely unseen and unnoticed, Sam in the midst of an engaging argument with Artie and Unique about set list challenges. It was hard not to be present at their regionals' competition, but he was there to savor the heady feeling of victory, nonetheless, and just being around them is . . . it's enough. It's enough to make him feel like this was something that was worth sacrificing his old life at Dalton for.
Sliding into his usual seat in the front row, he watches as Sam and Unique toss ideas back and forth, at last settling on an agreement to disagree when Sam's eyes flicker up and meet Blaine's and he halts mid-conversation.
The others quickly notice, too, if the silence of the room is anything to go by.
"We don't have to have solos," Blaine pipes in, aiming for nonchalance. "Vocal Adrenaline was at its strongest when it worked as one cohesive unit."
No one responds. Blaine isn't expecting it, but he can feel the tension ratcheting upward in the room, fearful of the unknown.
"You're not wearing a sling," Sam says slowly, breaking the silence. For a moment, Blaine thinks that Sam expects him to keel over at the realization, as though he'd somehow forgotten it in the morning rush and needed it to survive.
It's a good feeling to be able to say, "I know," and mean it.
Sam nods, then, and a palpable tension in the room eases.
It isn't until after everyone else has left for their next classes that Blaine approaches Sam, holding out his left fist and waiting.
Sam looks up from where he's still sitting, scrutinizing him in an instant, before reaching forward and bumping it back.
As soon as his fingers flare out before he clasps Blaine's hand in their most basic Blam handshake, Blaine knows that he's okay.
"It's good to have you back, dude," Sam says, and Blaine knows that he means more than his physical presence, that the removal of the sling was something more, a final breaking down of walls and barriers and echoes of the past.
Without it, he knows that he's vulnerable to attack - that the unspoken verdict that no one touch him no longer exists with the disappearance of his final crutch - but it's okay.
He still has Sam and Marley and the Glee club, and that's all that really matters to him.
"It's good to be back," he echoes.
Sam nods and pulls himself to his feet, walking beside Blaine to their next class.
And for the first time in four weeks, Blaine feels like things might actually be normal again.
It's new and different and imperfect, but it's theirs.
. o .
He isn't expecting Kurt to show up to nationals.
Even coming in fourth place doesn't disappoint; they're thrilled to have made it in the top five. For the seniors, it's a satisfying claim, a respectable title to walk away from. It might not be first, but coming in first is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Blaine finds it sweeter, in a way, that it remains unchallenged. Somehow, he knows the others do as well.
Still, wrapped up in euphoria and mounting discomfort in his shoulder, he slips away from the main group and settles into a chair in the green room, pulling out his phone to text Kurt.
"Hey," Kurt says.
He drops his phone.
"What are you doing here?" he asks, looking up at him in undisguised amazement as he gets to his feet. He's smiling so much it makes his cheeks hurt, but he can't stop, and the urge to pull him into a hug and tell him how good it is to see him in person again is overwhelming. He's learned how to manage the separation - dwelling on it in small, manageable amounts, admitting but not submitting to it - but seeing Kurt again in the flesh is dazzling.
"Did you really think I would miss your nationals' competition?" Kurt asks, an almost wry hint to his tone as he closes the gap between them, wrapping his own arms around Blaine's waist. Blaine relaxes, gently curling his own around Kurt's, ignoring the red hot plume slowly encompassing his shoulder. He can ice it later - their choreography wasn't intense; he isn't too worried about permanent damage - and he doesn't want to lose this, to forget this, holding Kurt in his arms again.
"Not intentionally," Blaine admits.
Kurt scrunches up his nose a little and pulls back, expression soft. "I would never do that," he assures. Then, after a moment's pause, he asks carefully, "How mad do you think Mr. Schuester would be if I let you stay at my loft tonight?"
"Not at all," Blaine says at once, leaning forward to kiss him. "I'll grab my bag."
Kurt smiles, his cheeks a little pink when Blaine turns back to him, bag in hand.
They don't actually see Mr. Schue himself, so Blaine sends off a quick text once they're outside in the refreshingly warm city air before pocketing his phone and lacing his fingers with Kurt's instead.
"So, how does it feel to know that it's over?" Kurt asks after a time, looking over at him briefly. He has Blaine's bag slung over his opposite shoulder - his insistence, and Blaine wasn't about to argue much, anyway - and a smile on his face, his gaze directed skyward at the stars.
"It's not over yet," Blaine reminds gently, squeezing his hand. "There's still graduation."
"Mm." Kurt darts another quick look at him, unreadable, before asking quietly, "Are we . . . okay, now? As - friends, as - as boyfriends."
Blaine pauses, turning to look at Kurt incredulously. It's impossible to know what he's thinking, but Blaine doesn't think it's bad. He hopes not. "Why are you asking me?" he quips at last, softly.
Kurt seems to think for a long time, walking again for a few steps before stopping and turning to face him, saying seriously, "Because there is a moment when you say to yourself, 'Oh, there you are. I've been looking for you forever.'" Quietly, he adds, "I wasn't ready to . . . let you back into my life, before. Not . . . not completely. I didn't trust you anymore, because I thought . . . I thought you'd hurt me. Because knowing that you'd - that that had happened - " His voice gets choked, then, and Blaine wonders if he'll be able to continue before he finishes, "- it crushed me."
Blaine is fairly certain being shot again would be less painful than listening to Kurt speak, then, but he doesn't stop him, because - he can't. He needs to hear it, almost as much as he thinks Kurt needs to say it, so he doesn't interrupt.
"It took a long time for me to realize that I wasn't angry at you," Kurt continues. "And then I realized that . . . you have changed."
Blaine doesn't know what to say to that - if it's good, if it's bad, if it's not of the above - and so he says nothing, waiting, listening.
"We've both changed," he amends. He looks at their hands for a moment, still clasped, and adds softly, "I also realized that . . . I really wanted you back in my life. And no matter what I did to replace you, it never worked." Stepping closer, he asks, "Would you be my boyfriend again?"
Blaine reaches for him, already saying, "Kurt, of course I would, I love you so much, I would - " but then Kurt's kissing him and it doesn't matter that it's a crowded New York street.
They fall apart together, and Blaine isn't sure how they end up back in Kurt's loft, tucked into each other and breathing deeply. He isn't sure how someone as amazing and wonderful and extraordinary as Kurt can let him back into his life, but he knows that he won't let him go again. He won't lose this.
And as Kurt curls his fingers in Blaine's shirt, old wounds healing but not forgotten, Blaine knows that he feels the same.
. o .
Cooper sends him a text three days later.
How did it go?
Blaine smiles and writes, We came in fourth, but I think it went pretty well.
Blaine is about to respond when Kurt reaches over and casually pries it from his fingers, writing, Because his gorgeous, perfect, wonderful boyfriend came back, and hands it back.
A long pause. Blaine almost thinks Cooper won't respond at all, until his phone vibrates and a picture message appears:
Cooper, beaming, with both thumbs up. Attaboy, Blainey. And Kurt, don't let him do anything stupid while I'm gone, all right?
Will do, Kurt responds, humming as he gets up and wanders off to the kitchen to scavenge for breakfast. Blaine smiles after him, looking down at his phone when it vibrates again.
You did good, Blaine.
Love you, squirt.
Love you, too, Coop, is all Blaine writes, getting up and rejoining Kurt.
Author's Notes: Thank you, everyone.
You have truly made this story better than I ever thought it would be.
Much love, and until next time,