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.

"I can't do this."

"Kurt - "

"I can't do this. I'm going to throw up." Kurt paced anxiously back and forth, staring at the music sheets in front of him with wide, terrified eyes. "What if I forget my lines? Or pass out? Rachel said that they don't let you re-audition. Oh, God, I'm going to - "

"Honey," Blaine said, stepping up behind Kurt and wrapping his arms around his waist, resting his cheek against his shoulder. "Why don't we take a break, okay? You've been practicing for hours."

"It'sthis Friday," Kurt hissed, pulling away and tangling a hand in his hair anxiously. Blaine let him, grateful that Rachel was out with Brody, leaving them alone in the loft. Kurt's hair was already a mess from repeated tugs, and he knew that it would only increase his self-consciousness if Rachel saw it. Her unsubtle tendency to loudly comment on anything out of the ordinary didn't help.

"And I haven't even figured out what outfit I'm going to wear, and if I need to bring a resume, or a headshot, or - "

"It's a thirty second monologue - "

"That could change the fate of my acting career."

Blaine sighed, stepping around Kurt and gently tugging the music sheets out of his hands. They were trembling, and as Blaine stepped closer and wrapped his own fingers around them, he could feel how cool they were, clammy with nerves. "Come on," he said, squeezing his fingers, gently rubbing warmth into them as he guided Kurt towards the opposite end of the loft. "We can practice more tonight, but you need to eat and we need to take a break."

Letting go of Kurt's hands, he padded over to the coat rack, plucking the warmest one off the top and holding it out to Kurt. He eyed it, grudgingly stepping forward and looping his arms through the sleeves after a moment, relaxing when Blaine kissed his cheek once approvingly. "We'll get lunch and window shop for a few hours, okay?"

Kurt bit his lip. "I can't mess up this audition."

"You won't," Blaine assured calmly, intertwining their fingers and tugging Kurt through the doorway. He went easily enough, letting Blaine lead the way out into the brisk New York air. It was still warm enough for late August, but quickly cooling, with the hint of rain already heavy on the air. With traffic and other pedestrians largely filling the air, they didn't need to talk, letting a comfortable quiet pass between them.

They ended up at one of the local delis, Kurt scrunching up his nose at the decor even as he eagerly dug into his sandwich, making it through six bites before he started rambling on about Rachel. Blaine let him talk, sipping from his own water as he nodded along, occasionally interjecting a comment in Rachel's favor (Kurt tended to be a little one-sided once he gathered steam, and Blaine didn't want him working himself up to an argument). Letting Kurt sample his own sandwich once he was finished, Blaine smiled as he listened, grateful for the reprieve.

It wasn't that he didn't like listening to Kurt practice; he loved them. Kurt's performances were always captivating. Granted, he was biased - he would watch Kurt eat breakfast for three hours if it meant being able to be with him, uninterrupted - but he knew that Kurt could pull focus like no one else.

Except this audition was the first big one of the year, a lead in one of NYADA's more prestigious fall revivals. Nearly every eligible candidate would audition, crowding Carmen Tibideaux's desk in the slim hope that she would permit a private audience for a practice session or, even better, offer constructive critique on a pre-recorded video. It was a double-edged sword - there were no gentle words in Miss Tibideaux's vocabulary, not for the unrefined - but students still clamored for the opportunity, craving anything that would put them ahead of their peers. Dozens of casual spectators and prospective talent searchers alike made their second home at NYADA's performances, seeking out the best of the best to offer exclusive invitations to select performances.

It was all about opening doors, and the higher one climbed, the more likely one was to succeed. Blaine understood Kurt's passion for it - landing a role in any musical this early on in his NYADA career would put him well ahead of his peers in both real experience and a credible good reputation - but he also knew that Kurt's passion often translated into stress.

At first, it wasn't anything noticeable: a few more hours awake at night reading over sheet music before turning off the light and curling up in bed next to Blaine (they'd tried sleeping apart and managed exactly three nights before Kurt started sleepwalking; after that, they gave up). Then Kurt started waking up earlier, too, and spending more time at NYADA trying to perfect - everything. He tested the limits of his range, running scales and practicing until, for one terrifying two-day spell, he lost his voice.

Looking across the small round table at him now, Blaine couldn't help but think that he looked a little calmer, at least, pulled away from the loft. He hadn't spent much time outside of Vogue's headquarters, NYADA's halls, and their loft in two weeks. If nothing else, being away from it for a few hours couldn't hurt.

"Are you okay?" Kurt asked, giving him an unsubtle elbow nudge when he noticed that Blaine wasn't listening.

"Sorry," Blaine said, smiling sheepishly as he popped a kettle chip in his mouth.

Kurt rolled his eyes, a fond smile quirking the corners of his lips as he said, "You know, for someone trying to distract me, you're not doing a very good job."

Blaine pouted, opening his mouth to protest when Kurt said loftily, "If you wanted to do a good job, you'd let me buy you a new scarf."

"I already have four," Blaine protested, letting Kurt tug him to his feet with one hand, gathering up the remnants of their food on one plate.

"Two of which are falling apart at the seams," Kurt retorted, buttoning up his own coat once more.

"You can pick it out, but I'll buy it," Blaine conceded, dumping the trash in the bin and setting the tray on top. "Fair enough?"

"We'll see," was all Kurt said, leading the way.

At least he didn't mention NYADA or the fall revival once during their impromptu shopping trip, Blaine mused, letting Kurt card through rack after rack of scarves. Brow furrowed in concentration, he took his time, occasionally draping more favorable options around Blaine's neck to compare more accurately.

He blinked as something soft was tugged down over his head, briefly covering his eyes before he pushed up the edge. "I thought you hated beanies," Blaine mused, plucking the hat off his head and handing it back to him, reaching up to smooth his hair down. He still put gel in it, but Kurt had fought - and eventually won - the argument about how much he should put in. The more natural look was even starting to grow on Blaine.

"I don't hate them," Kurt said, taking it out of his hands and stuffing it back on his hair. "I just think they're cheesy."

"You want me to look cheesy?"

Rolling his eyes, Kurt leaned forward and kissed him. "You look adorable," he corrected, pulling it off and setting it aside as he searched the racks for scarves once more.

Blaine couldn't help but grin as he did so, accepting the red scarf he eventually picked out without complaint.

They spent several hours just window-shopping, then, arms linked as Kurt pointed out the more exciting and horrifying candidates while Blaine offered more mainstream contributions to the mix. It was nice, even if Kurt knew more words to describe a sweater than Blaine knew existed. Eventually the weather caught up with them and a light rain soaked them by the time they reached their apartment.

"Gross," Blaine murmured, reaching up to run his hands through his hair and wrinkling his nose.

"Go wash it out; I'll start some tea," Kurt suggested, stepping close so he could kiss him again. Blaine smiled, reaching out to loop his arms around Kurt's waist, but he danced lightly out of reach before he could do so, humming as he walked off towards the 'kitchen.'

Retreating to the bathroom to wash out his gel, Blaine dried his hair carefully with a towel, wrinkling his nose at his appearance and debating putting more gel in before noticing that the gel container he usually left in the medicine cabinet was gone. Padding out of the bathroom and tossing the towel in the laundry hamper, he frowned when he saw Kurt sitting at the table, staring at his sheet music while the tea boiled.

"Kurt," he chided gently, approaching and kissing the top of his head, rubbing his shoulders. "You'll be fine."

"I want it to be perfect," Kurt insisted, flipping to the next page and scanning the lines. With a sigh, he pushed his chair back, Blaine stepping aside so he could get up and turn off the stove as the tea whistled. A slight smile curled his lips as he looked up at Blaine's hair.

"I know it was you," Blaine huffed, resisting the urge to reach up and smooth it down.

"What was me?" Kurt countered lightly, pouring out two mugs and setting the rest aside, handing one cup to Blaine. "Hmm?"

Blaine sighed, shaking his head as he padded over to the couch, patting the space next to him. "I thought we agreed that a little gel is fine?" he said, relaxing when Kurt settled next to him, leaning forward to pick up the remote.

"It is," he concurred, flipping through the settings before leaning back against Blaine's side comfortably, sipping his tea and tucking his feet under his legs. "I just didn't want to put temptation before you."

"Mmhm," Blaine hummed, draping his free arm around Kurt's side.

With the rain pattering lightly outside, it was nice, being able to relax with him and let his warmth and closeness chase away any chill. Pausing mid-sip when he noticed Kurt's movie choice, he set his mug next to Kurt's on the coffee table and just watched for a time, fingers tracing tiny, absentminded circles against Kurt's side.

It wasn't until a soft snore startled him out of his reverie that he realized Kurt was asleep, his legs stretched partially out on the rest of the couch. Shifting carefully so that he was reclining against the arm of the couch, Blaine moved Kurt gently until he was resting against his chest, a soft mumble of protest escaping him at the movement.

"S'gon' on?"

"Shh." Blaine kissed the top of his head, wrapping his arms more snugly around his back, saying, "Go back to sleep."

Kurt obliged, lips smacking a little before he nuzzled his cheek against Blaine's chest, breath puffing out slowly.

And as Blaine listened to Satine and Christian declare their undying love for each other, he couldn't take his eyes off Kurt.

He gave him a single light squeeze, holding him that much closer, willing him to understand that no matter what happened, no matter how terribly or wonderfully the year went -

He would be there for him.

And he was never going to let him go.