Hello our beautiful readers.
After being away for so long we believe we owe you an explanation if not an apology. The truth is M is finishing college as we speak and as you're reading this she's revising for the last exam of her college career.
In the meantime A is a working girl who is also a captain of her netball team and they have games and competitions and she works really hard on that.
Given all those things we have talked it out and decided that until our lives get back to a slower pace writing will take a backseat.
Not because we don't care for this story or the people who love it.

Exactly the opposite. We love it and you guys too much to hand you a half assed, sort of okay, chapter. We have tried to keep this story on a high level with well thought of chapters and we hope we can manage to live up to that now that we're finally back.

Thank you for being patient and for being here for us with constant words of encouragement and interest for us and for this little creation of ours. That's what makes you the best readers ever.

If you haven't so far, please check out our tumblr account, run by our amazing Caroline, where you can find lots of fun stuff and also leave us your own ID cards so we can get to know you all better.

For more info visit keepmyheartcaptive tumblr account and have fun.
Love A&M

New Year's Day...

The first thing Blaine noticed upon waking, of course, was Kurt.

It was like his entire being was now hardwired into his subs; wants and desires, his moods and happiness, the feel of his skin and scent of his hair. So it wasn't too surprising that the delay on his hangover came until he'd pulled his boy closer and sluggishly pried his fused lashes open.

He regretted that choice immediately.

"Oh fuuu…" he groaned, slamming his eyes back shut and his hand over his face, as bright, blinding sunlight stung his eyes and drilled sharply into his skull.

Closing the curtains last night hadn't exactly been high on his priority list. His memory was considerably fuzzy, not exactly a huge surprise, but midnight onwards was just a blur of wanting naked skin, greedy gasping mouths and the expensive, somewhat dry now, aftertaste of champagne.

A sudden flash of golden liquid drenching the enticing, decadent dip of Kurt's navel shot before his eyes and despite the way his head was pounding out its own rhythm and dance, he smiled.

He flopped his arm back down and risked his eyes open again to squint down at the heavy weight on his chest and dead other arm. What he saw made his heart swell stupidly. Kurt was not just simply sleeping. Nope. He was officially passed the hell out; mouth open, drooling, with heavy, snuffling breathes across his bare chest and hair plastered in a million different directions.

Blaine was so in love it hurt.

He reclosed his eyes and shuffled a little to try and get a more comfortable position and resume circulation to his right arm so he could possibly doze back off, but he quickly found that wasn't going to happen. The room was far too bright, his head hurt far too much and Kurt was dead weight in the jut between his shoulder and chest, the little puddle under the corner of his mouth hitting just above his nipple.

It should have been disgusting. Or annoying. Or something other than how adorable he found it but Blaine couldn't help it. Smiling wider he dragged his free arm over from where it was sprawled across the bed and wrapped it around Kurt's bare waist, shifting his bare legs which was weird because he couldn't remember having taken them off and… oh.

That's a lot of naked.

He peeked down and raised his brows appreciatively at the swell of Kurt's ass barely covered by a scrap of white sheet, the rest of him completely open to his gaze, smears of glitter dotted here and there across the pale expanse in the shape of fingers.

His fingers.

Little Blaine decided he liked that mark of clear possession very much and twitched to try and gain attention and he was pretty impressed at his ability to get it up when he felt so god damned awful. He took another long glance down his subs body and decided that maybe all the credit shouldn't go to him at all.

There was a clamoring from beyond the door that he suddenly picked up on, redirecting his attention, and signaling that he wasn't the only one awake. A quick glance at the clock on the bedside table told him that it was approaching close to midday.

Not surprising.

"Ryan? Sweetie? Do you feel better?" Thad's distinctively bright tone came distantly from beyond the door and the answering, pained moan was pitiful in response.

"I'm dying, tiny. And I'm taking Trent with me 'cause it's his damn fault!" Ryan shouted for the benefit of the whole penthouse before there was a clear retch with an undertone of Thad's cooing.

Blaine chuckled quietly and Kurt jerked, kicking his legs out from within their snaked tangle with his own before settling back down with a very displeased noise.

"Oh baby, you're going to hate waking up," he whispered to him, rough like gravel, drawing sleepy designs on his waist with his forefinger as his eyes drooped.

"Ryan Moore. Shut. The. Fuck. Up!" Sebastian growled, voice rising and falling in volume as the sub walked passed their door. He was the worst for hangovers, they accentuated every bad quality Sebastian was capable of by like a zillion.

He could only sigh as what could only be Dave's heavy footfalls followed the sub. No one else voluntarily went near him when he was like this for fear of either getting the nearest inanimate object shoved up their ass, or giving in to the desire of finding the nearest window to push him out of.

"It's not my fault," Ryan whined back. "It's Trent's!"

"Hey! How the hell was I supposed to know Kurt was fucking awesome at beer pong? Jesus." Trent tried to dodge, his own voice muffled by the door and the fact that he was just as hung-over as everyone else.

Blaine gritted his teeth against the rising noise and activity in the penthouse. What had been convenient and awesome in a room so close to where everything was happening was now totally the worst thing ever!

Knowing he wasn't going to be able to go back to sleep, and envying Kurt's ability to sleep through anything when plastered the night before, Blaine began to talk himself into getting up.

He needed to get him and Kurt some water and pain killers to start and then their overnight bag from the trunk of the car. In retrospect he should have carried it up last night but hindsight was a bitch and a half. Cursing up a streak in his head he untangled his legs from his subs octopus limbs, then eased Kurt back to the pillow, sitting up after. His boy kicked up a little fuss of course, brow puckering cutely and more little noises escaping the back of his throat, but he soon fell back into his comatose.

Ignoring the uncomfortable sensation of blood rushing back into his arm, he leant over and laid a kiss to Kurt's brow before glancing around the room for his clothes. He spotted the squashed up bundle of his jeans and boxers at the foot of the bed, confirming his suspicions that he really did just drunkenly shuffle and kick them off before passing out.

Reluctant and painfully, he eased off of the mattress; muscles aching and head spinning for a second or two until he managed to find some form of equilibrium. Shuffling towards the window he yanked the curtains shut and sighed in relief at the dimness.

At least Kurt wouldn't wake up to having his eyeballs burnt out.

Back at the bed he grabbed only his jeans, knowing that the dried mess inside his boxers left much to be desired, he scanned the floor for his top and grimaced when he spotted it… in a puddle of stale champagne from the tipped over bottle he'd carelessly dropped to the floor.

"Fucking genius move, Anderson," he muttered and now that he'd realized it, the smell of the alcohol was pungent in the air making his stomach turn. Seb was going to kill him.

He scanned again and spotted his cardigan hanging half off the dresser in the corner where Kurt had tossed it.

Now that made him smile. The thought of Kurt relaxed and needy enough to just take what he wanted, to just act with no boundaries or questions.

He'd loved it.

He grabbed the cardigan and with one last lingering look at his slumbering sub he exited the room and ran straight into a tired looking Thad.

"Oh sorry, Blaine," the sub apologized skating around him on his way back to the still suffering Ryan from the sounds of the dry heaving.

"I got you some water, Ry." Blaine heard him say gently and he smiled at how well attuned to each other they were.

The large Dom groaned and spit before he complained, "I just got finished getting rid of all the liquid in me, I don't wanna put more in!"

"I know, but being dehydrated will make you feel even worse so please take a few sips. For me?" Thad said sweetly, coercing his Dom into cooperation.

"Fine. But only 'cause it's for you," Ryan slurred and gulped a few sips of water.

Blaine grimaced again and hurried off before he had to shove Ryan over for a spot at the altar of the porcelain gods.

"And he shows his face," Dave grinned, dressed in clean jeans and a fresh black tee, as Blaine stepped tentatively into the ruined living area.

In the light of day it looked worse than the chaos of last night and Jon was acting like a new piece of furniture, passed out in the corner hugging a pathetically deflated elephant.

"Jesus. We really outdid ourselves didn't we?" he asked tired, but impressed, stepping over a slice of cold pizza covered in silver confetti.

What the hell.

Dave put his large hands on his hips and looked around, far too wide eyed for someone who should have a hangover.


"It was definitely… different," Dave laughed and gave him an amused, knowing glance.

Blaine felt like he should blush under it, but either his blood was feeling too terrible to make the trip to the surface of his face, or he really just was that unabashed.

"Don't act like you didn't have Seb pushed into a wall half the night," he pointed out, nudging a solo cup with his toe as he pulled his cardigan on. He couldn't actually explicitly remember seeing it, but from past experience it was a safe assumption.

"But I wasn't as, ah… loud?" the football captain smirked.

Blaine froze with his arm halfway in the sleeve. "Bullshit. There was music playing!"

"Yeah. There was," Dave chuckled, eyes dancing.

"Fuck," Blaine breathed. Kurt was gonna kill him. He didn't much care about anyone hearing him. But the idea that other people, other Doms, had been listening to Kurt at his most vulnerable; the sighs and gasps and moans that were supposed to be only his? Well that made him damn right surly.

He fought the urge to go back to the room and barricade them in for the rest of eternity and instead headed for the door. "I'm gonna go grab mine and Kurt's stuff."

Dave waved him off, going back to clearing away the rubbish, not pushing it further like some people might have. Maybe he recognized the look on his face from where he'd flown off the handle before? Who knew? Blaine was just grateful he had quit while he was ahead.

The elevator ride down was enough to cool his heels, even if that old woman had looked at his bare feet and what you could see of his bare chest and neck covered in love bites, disapprovingly.

Back in the penthouse he tossed the bag down and headed for the kitchen, noticing that Sebastian was out on the balcony, swaddled in a blanket up to his ears and attempting to sleep on one of the chairs out there.

Blaine made sure he didn't draw any unnecessary attention to himself as he edged passed. Pissing a hung-over Sebastian off was something only Dave could get out of alive.

The damage was more limited in the kitchen, though there was a questionable orange stain on the wall, and Miriam was bustling around washing dishes while Wes manned the frying pan.

Blaine took a deep drag of the smell of bacon and sighed in relief.

Miriam spotted him first; hair gathered up into a messy bun on top of her head, no make-up, dressed in comfortable sweats and Wes' Warbler tee, with soap bubbles all up her forearms. She smiled at him welcomingly.

"Pain killers are on the side and I put a few bottles of water in the fridge to chill," she said nodding towards the items helpfully.

"I love you," Blaine groaned and headed that way like a moth to a flame.

"None of that. You've got your own now," Wes told him, giving him a look over his shoulder. Miriam just snorted at the Dominant posturing and went back to the dishes.

"Don't get jealous, babycakes," Blaine grinned, ignoring the voice that was shouting, you hypocritical shit! "You give me some of that bacon and I'll love you too."

Wes rolled his eyes and went back flipping the spitting meat and Blaine downed two pills before grabbing a water to wash them down blessing the medicinal gods as he did so. He put aside two more and another bottle for Kurt while finishing up his, then leaned his elbows on the island in the middle of the room and put his face in his hands.

"I feel so shit," he mumbled.

"Not surprised," Wes laughed. "That was some hardcore drinking last night, B. Even for you… and Kurt? Where the hell did he put it all?!"

"I think he drank me under the table," Blaine admitted pulling his hands away to rest his chin in them and the couple laughed at him, Miriam turning as she put the last glass down on the draining board and wiped her hands on the dish towel.

"Has he ever drank before?" she asked curiously, blowing a stray bit of hair away from her eyes.

"No," Blaine said, shaking his head fondly.

"Good luck with his hangover," Wes smirked, plating up what was in the pan, then putting more in and gesturing with his spatula, "Just hope he isn't like Satan out there on the balcony."

"He's cute when he's passed out," Blaine mused out loud, thinking of his drooling sub with a besotted smile.

"Hope you're not talking about, Seb," Wes deadpanned, looking around for Dave.

"No! Kurt's the only person who's adorable when they're passed out. He's like a sleepy kitty," he explained, dopey smile growing wider.

Dave came walking in with a full bag of rubbish and shook his head at hearing the last line. "You're so weird."

"He's in love," Miriam corrected with a winsome smile of her own and Blaine snapped his spine straight, heart picking up speed as he stared at her wide eyed.

Was he that freaking obvious? Fuck. Did Kurt know? Was it written across his forehead?

Half the time he felt like it was, like he was broadcasting it like a neon sign!

The three in the room stared at him in shock.

"Please don't tell me this is news to you?" Wes asked slowly, a look of total exasperation on his face.

"No! It isn't... I just… I mean… is it that obvious?" he finished lamely, looking out at them behind what he knew to be pathetic puppy dog eyes.

"Well... yeah," Dave admitted rubbing along the back of his neck, perplexed. "You haven't told him yet?"

"I don't wanna scare him off! Things are going so well between us now," he told them, raking a shaky hand through his seriously out of control hair. Jesus, that woman in the elevator might have had a point.

"Blaine… that boy loves you back. Anyone could see it," Miriam smiled at him reassuringly, lecturing like only the best moms could. "You should tell him. He's probably waiting for you to."

"You think?" he asked unsurely, brows drawing low.

"The decisions yours, B," Wes said shrugging his shoulders, going back to his breakfast at midday making. "But my opinion? Man up, buttercup. You tell me you love me for bacon."

Blaine rolled his eyes, but really, they'd given him a lot to think about... not that those three little words hadn't been on his mind and on his tongue, about ready to fall out on their own through impatience, for what felt like from the first second he laid eyes on Kurt.

"I'm gonna go check on him," he murmured, grabbing the pills and water, then made his way back through the obstacle course to grab their overnight bag.

Inside their darkened room Kurt was in the exact same position he left him in.

He shuffled over to the side of the bed, avoiding the sopping champagne, clothes puddle, and placed everything on and by the side of the bedside table before settling back onto the bed, propping his head on his hand. He reached over and combed his fingers softly through Kurt's tangled locks, thumb rubbing against his temple up to the ridge of his eyebrow then back down over and over.

His mind immediately cast to his friends words.

'He's in love.'

"I…" he took a deep breath and scanned Kurt's beautiful features. The long lashes smeared with glitter, the elegant arch of his cheekbones, the cute tip of his nose, his full wide mouth and the pureness of his soul under the lovely exterior.

'He's probably waiting for you to.'

'Man up, buttercup.'

"I love you."

It was a whisper but it was heavy in his mouth, weighted in the air and Blaine felt so much lighter for having finally said it out loud. The rush of it surging in his blood. The importance of it carving into his heart for eternity.

He didn't know how long he lay there on his side just staring at his sub in awe, but after a while Kurt made a distressed noise in his throat, eyes fluttering and mouth pursing tight as he began to wake.

"Lovely?" Blaine asked softly, knowing his boy was going to be delicate as a new-born right now.

Kurt gave a groan of pain and buried his face into the pillow. "Go'way."

Blaine smiled and sat up properly, turning so he could grab the supplies he'd brought in. "You need to drink some water and take some pills and then you can go back to sleep, baby."


He chuckled incredulously. "Come again?"

Kurt shifted his head to reveal a slither of his face so he could open one bleary eye and glare at him. "Someone ran me over."

Blaine sucked his lips into his mouth to keep from laughing. He cleared his throat and got himself under control. "Pretty sure that wasn't it. This was more self-inflicted, lovely."

"Stop laughing at me!" Kurt whined and turned back into the pillow again. "UhhhI'mgondie."

Blaine was able to work that one out.

"You're not going to die, baby. C'mon. Take these, you'll feel better I promise." He let a hint of command seep into his voice and Kurt flopped over forlornly, staring up at him with sad, blue doe eyes. Blaine just wanted to snuggle him and pamper him and make everything alright.

"Sit up," he encouraged and it seemed like the commands were helping rather than wearing on him which made Blaine stupidly happy, his own hangover fading into the background.

Kurt propped up on his elbows and opened his mouth for the pills. Blaine appeased him, placing them on his tongue then uncapped and eased some of the water into his mouth, making sure not to choke him with a rush of it.

Kurt swallowed then let himself sink back into the bed, curling on his side closer to Blaine's warmth like a kitten. See! He was a kitten! The Dom cooed and lay next to him, gathering him closer in his arms and laying his lips to his forehead repeatedly in gentle pecks. Kurt sighed out, the hot exhale hitting his neck and chest.

"I never want to drink again," he mumbled.

Blaine smiled against his skin and ran his hands soothingly over his bare spine. "But drunk me and drunk you got on so well," he teased suggestively.

He practically felt the heat of Kurt's blush and felt smug satisfaction well up.

"Oh god…" he shifted his legs then froze. "And I'm naked!"

"Mm, I noticed," he grinned.

Kurt pulled back from him to look him the eye, face completely flushed with embarrassment. "And sticky."

Even Blaine choked at that, his cock twitching fully in interest now that he was feeling more human. "You don't remember the champagne bottle?"

Kurt furrowed his brows then realization dawned across his features and they unknotted. He shoved at Blaine's chest. "This is all your fault!"

Blaine leaned in and kissed him, cupping the back of his head. "Says the champagne fiend."

There was a soft knock on the door. "Blaine? Did you want some of this breakfast… well… lunch?" Miriam asked.

Kurt groaned at the mention of food and not in the good way. "Yes please. Kurt doesn't want anything though."

"Oh. He up?"

"Unfortunately," Kurt called and she laughed.

"I'll fix you a plate, Blaine."

"You're a star!" he sing songed to the door.

"Pay more attention to me," Kurt complained sleepily, pawing at his face to turn it back around. "This is your fault after all."

Blaine laughed, surprised and charmed by Kurt's childish petulance. He was in such trouble with this ethereal creature in his arms. He kissed his nose. "Oh I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you, lovely."

"That sounds nice," he purred and Blaine couldn't help the shiver that raked his body at the sound.

"If you get dressed we can snuggle on the coach," he suggested.

"We're snuggling right now. I like it in here," Kurt said curling his arms further into his chest, and it was clear from the way he was dragging his words out that he was falling back to sleep.

"But I'm starving," he whined. He needed his food. Grease. Meat.

Kurt was torn between wanting to stay exactly where he was, the dull ache in his limbs and head fading out, or appeasing his Dom's needs.

Eventually the last, more important won out. "Dress me."

Blaine grinned and pulled away to grab their bag. He changed himself, letting Kurt doze for a while longer as he pulled on new boxers, a pair of navy Fred Perry sweats and a red plain tee. He grabbed underwear and a different pair of sweats, light grey and also his because he was a possessive asshole, and the exact same Warbler tee Miriam had on for his Kurt. Because he was an overly possessive asshole.

Kurt was pliant as a doll as Blaine helped him dress, then he was letting himself be hoisted into Blaine's arms and carried. The Dom left the cover, stained with god knows what, where it was and headed for the living area.

Dave had cleared a fair bit by now, black bin liners filled with rubbish lined up by the door, and it made the room more habitable. He headed straight for the free couch he saw earlier and double checked it for more sparkle pizza or something similarly weird before laying Kurt down.

"Stay here, lovely. I'll just grab you a new cover and some breakfast and then we can snuggle the rest of the day away until it's safer for me to drive," Blaine told him. Because hell yes he was so far over the limit right now it wasn't even funny.

"Unless you're moving me I'm not going anywhere," Kurt stated dryly, his eyes still closed. Blaine shook his head amusedly then gave him a peck on the lips before heading off for the kitchen. He ran into Dave coming back in from the balcony, probably checking on Sata- uh- Seb.

"Have you got a spare comforter anywhere?" he asked.

Dave raised a suspicious brow. "Why?"

"I'd rather not say."

Dave rolled his eyes. "There's a few spare sets in the closet in our room. Top shelf."

He clapped him on the shoulder just as Miriam peeked out. "Can you see if anyone else is awake and wanting food please? Yours is ready when you are."

Blaine's stomach growled. "Sure thing."

He hurried off, poking his head first into the main bathroom. Ryan was leaning his forehead on the rim of the toilet and Thad was on his knees behind him, rubbing the massive expanse of his bare back.

"Hey, you guys want food?" he asked not realizing that might be a bad idea with how bad Ryan was feeling.

Ryan heaved on instinct and Thad cooed at him and glared at Blaine. "Nice."

He winced. "Yeah. Sorry man."

Ryan waved him off.

"I'll have something later," Thad told him with a wry smile and Blaine nodded heading for the next door.

A knock yielded nothing so he peeked inside and nearly had his retinas burnt out. He slammed the door closed again. "Fuck me."

He didn't need to see that much of Thompson's bare ass. Ever.

Trent headed straight for the food, coming out of his hiding space and Blaine couldn't find Nick or Jeff anywhere on his travels to the main bedroom. He grabbed the comforter, then his food from the kitchen before heading back to Kurt, slouching up against the arm rest with Kurt laid out long ways on the inside, head pillowed on his stomach and covers up to his neck.

"Give me a sec and I'll help clear up," Blaine told Dave through a mouthful of toast and eggs and sausage and bacon and every damn thing he could fit in there, as the football player continued to bustle about the trashed room.

Dave smiled at him, then down at Kurt. "No worries, man I've got it. And it looks like you've got your hands full."

"I'm not a handful," Kurt sassed tiredly.

Blaine and Dave shared a look and a silent laugh.

"Don't think I don't know you're laughing at me. You guys are awful!" he complained, slitting his eyes open and pouting.

"Aw baby," Blaine soothed. "You can't help it."

Kurt huffed. "Where's, Jeff? Jeff'll be nice to me."

"They headed out a little after midnight," Wes said walking into the room with a few dishes. He swept the table Kurt and Corrine had been shaking their stuff on with his foot to clear the rest of the junk and laid them down. Miriam followed with Trent at her heels, trying to steal things off the plates.

"I don't know how sanitary eating off a stripper platform is, but oh well," Wes laughed, giving Kurt a pointed look.

Kurt pulled the cover over his blushing head. "Kill me now."

They all laughed.

"You were something last night, honey," Miriam teased lightly.

"It wasn't my fault. I was led astray," came muffled from under the comforter.

And speak of the devil, Corrine came stumbling around the corner dressed in only David's top from last night. It reached mid-thigh because of how tiny she was and her make-up and hair was all over the place. She yawned big and loud, rubbing at her eye before surveying her audience.


They all rolled their eyes at her.

"Oh. Sausages!" she cheered and flopped down Indian style next to the table, digging in. "So last night was fun," she grinned, around a mouthful, manners gone completely out the window.

"Kurt doesn't think so," Trent joked.

"That boy is a legend!" she exclaimed. "Wouldn't have been half as fun without him."

"He's hiding under the covers of shame."

Blaine felt Kurt tense against him. He finished his plate and set it down on the floor before sinking into the couch with his sub and burrowing under.

"Don't be embarrassed, baby. Right as we speak Jon is in the corner doing unspeakable things to a blow up elephant. You're not the only one and I'll happily tell you drunk stories about each and every one of these guys if it'll make you feel better," he whispered to him, holding him close.

Kurt sighed and began drawing patterns on Blaine's top, not meeting his eye. "I know they're just teasing, sir."

"Good boy. I can get them to stop if you want though, lovely?"

He shook his head and mumbled, "Everything's just grating on me. I just want to snuggle you and sleep."

"That's fine." He kissed his forehead. "You sleep."

He poked his head back over the covers. "Kurt's not feeling too good so he's gonna try and get some more sleep," he said casually, not making a big deal about it and they all nodded easily, changing the subject.

He felt Kurt relax and lay a kiss to his sternum in thanks and Blaine began a soothing run of fingers through his hair for him, feeling more than content.

This, he thought.

With his friends all around him, his sub in his arms, his parents at home preparing for their New Year's lunch with Kurt's family.

This was how it was supposed to be.

New Year's Day...

Golden fringe hung over wide blown eyes, and white teeth worried plump, pink lips until they turned cherry red and swollen. Pale fingers shook as they plated piles and piles of food and arranged it carefully on the tray lying next to the stove.

He turned back to the counter and proceeded to whisk eggs, fry bacon, squeeze oranges and toast bread, his body trembling all the while with silent anguish.

He had woken up this morning, New Year's Day, the time of fresh starts, shivering and painfully aware of his new status. He was a claimed sub now. The arms around his waist that were warm and non-threatening still scared him because of power they had over him.

He had given up the last shreds of his tattered control once more into someone else's keeping and he was coming to terms with what that meant.

He had duties again. Obligations. There were expectations to be met and he was almost nauseous from the feeling that he would fail once again.

He'd eased out of bed, careful not to wake his sleeping Dom and headed straight for the kitchen in their wing of Nick's parent's house anxious to get started. Start proving himself.

He had a list as long as his arm of things he knew were expected of him but an even longer list of things he didn't know about Nick, information he needed to complete these tasks and all of it was spinning round and round his head getting him more worked up by the second.

For starters he didn't know when Nick usually woke up. Did he have a usual wake up time? He didn't know what he liked to eat or drink in the morning. Did he put sugar in his coffee, or milk... did he even drink coffee? Maybe he drank tea… what if he drank tea! Did he like fruit flavors, or something else. With sugar? Without it?

He swallowed and tugged at his hair in agitation, so sharply he actually winced in pain, but it did nothing to pull him out of his black hole of panic.

Nick's dad was French. What if they had completely different breakfast habits and he passed them on to Nick and Jeff didn't know about them and Nick would wake up in a few moments and he wouldn't like any of the things he had prepared for him… he wanted to be a good sub but he would fail again…

He piled new mountains of food on top of the already existing ones on the tray but there was a lingering feeling that he was missing something as he picked it up. Always missing something.

The cups clattered against each other when another horrified shiver wrecked through him and a choked off gasp ripped from his lips when the little jug containing milk tipped over the edge of his tray and hurled towards the floor.

The crash and clatter of the light blue jug shattering on the floor echoed loud enough to wake up half the state and Jeff knew he had moments, seconds before someone came to reprimand him.

He watched in silent desperation as a white puddle spread over the dark brown wooden flooring as if in slow motion, as if it was teasing him… trying to make him believe he could fix the mess before anyone saw it but he knew he had no time.

A faraway creak of the door proved him right and he startled into action, lowering the tray on the counter with another clatter and grabbing a clean dish rag from its nearby hook as he fell to his knees in front of the puddle and started soaking the white liquid as quickly as he could.

The cloth picked up the milk fairly quickly but the scattered porcelain around him was more of a problem for him as he piled piece after piece into his hand, not caring about the sting the sharp edges left when they pierced his skin or the specks of red that began to appear. It was like he was on autopilot. Numb to everything else but the need to make this mess, this failure, disappear.

He just had to clean the mess before Nick saw it.

He had to make sure everything was spotless before someone saw how much of a lost cause he really was. He tried to be good for Nick. He wanted to be good for the kind Dom so badly but it wasn't even a few weeks of them being bonded and he was already letting him down.

Steps echoed behind him, making his entire body shake with fear as he started picking up the glass faster, reckless, ignorant of the pain.

The steps were louder now… closer… he could hear the person yawning and their clothes rustling.

He was out of time, he knew it when the shuffling sound stopped and the person approaching came to a halt behind him.

He failed again.

It was so frustrating. Why couldn't he do this right? Why did things always fall apart when he was starting to believe they could work out?

He felt salty tears brush against his lips as they slid down his cheeks and he gasped when a tiny droplet hit a cut on his palm and stung him. His hand flinched and the tinkling sound of porcelain in it felt so out of place with how playful and happy it reverberated through the silence.

"Jeff…" a voice came from behind his back and he flinched violently, dropping the glass back onto the ground and watching as it scattered around in what seemed to be an even bigger mess.

Worthless sub. Why the hell did I agree to a pre-bond with you?

He flinched at the vindictive voice from his nightmares and it made him want to apologize. To kneel and bow his head and ask for another chance like he had done all that time ago, the echo of sensory memory harsh in his muscles, but he knew there was no way in hell he was worth it.

He couldn't seem to get passed this and if he couldn't then Nick was wasting his time with him.

A choked off sob left his lips at the thought of separating and he tried his best to at least appear strong and not let himself be seen crying. Doms hated subs who cried like babies, he knew that.

He bit his lip forcefully and stared down at his hands keeping himself as still and as quiet as he possibly could… waiting for the blow, for the harsh words and hurtful touch to be laid against his skin, to bruise him and ruin him further.


But like everything else with Nick it just… it never came.

Of course it never came.

"Oh my god, angel…" a painfully familiar, soft whisper broke through his panic as gentle arms wrapped themselves around his shaking body.

"Sir…" he sobbed, trying to get the apology out, but his throat seemed to be able to mutter only that one word… the one word that showed he was below Nick; submissive, weak, an object. He kept repeating it, trying to make it mean everything he couldn't say… that he was sorry, that he wanted to do good for him, that it wouldn't happen again, that he was horrible for even entertaining the thought that Nick could hurt him.

But there were soothing lips pressed against his temple, his body turned around so warm palms could cup his wet cheeks and chocolate eyes, infinitely sad, locked with his. That sunshiny smile, strained now, but no less breathtaking, forced onto a beautiful face and Jeff broke down into him, hiding his face in his chest and clutching the soft fabric of his shirt between scarcely bleeding fingers.

"Sir…so sorry, sir…" he gasped desperately.

"Shhhh, angel. It's Nick. It's just Nick… just me beautiful. Don't fear me. Everything's alright. Please Jeff just don't be afraid of me," he whispered into his hair and Jeff shivered in his arms wishing with all he had that he could just believe him straight off the bat... take his words for granted and let himself be peaceful for once. But everything was a struggle. He trusted Nick. He did. But that trust was just as shaky and fragile as he was and he'd feared he'd never stop questioning it, just like he'd never stop questioning himself.

"Sorry…so sorry…" he cried again, feeling guilty and wretched and Nick just held him closer through it.

"Why are you sorry baby? What do you have to be sorry for?" Nick asked and there was an edge to his voice… but not the kind Jeff expected. It wasn't anger… it was despair and confusion and pain.

He wanted to explain… he owed him an explanation at the very least.

"Failed…I wanted…breakfast…" was all he managed to choke out and he sighed in frustration, his fingers balling up into fists against Nick's chest.

"Just breathe. Deep breaths in an out," the Dom spoke calmly, words washing over him and Jeff actually felt the pressure ease on his chest somewhat after a few moment.

"Now… you wanted to make breakfast?" Nick asked and Jeff nodded, still.

"For you," he whispered as a fresh line of tears made its way down his cheeks and onto Nick's shirt.

Nick gasped at his words, probably having spotted the overloaded tray and kissed his crown gently, running fingers through the hair behind his ears.

"And you did, beautiful. There's enough food here to feed an army and it all looks and smells delicious so why are you sorry? Why are you so scared, angel?" he rushed it all out, rocking him back and forth where they were kneeling on the floor together next to the remains of that stupid jug Jeff could still spot out the corner of his eye.

"Broke the jug. Spilled the milk. I made a mess, sir," Jeff answered quietly pressing his head harder into Nick's chest, wishing he could just disappear into him, safe and warm and happy. His bottom lip trembled.

"Nick, Jeff. You never have to call me sir if you don't want it," the Dom reminded him gently. "And so you broke the jug. So what. I brake at least a dozen of those and more cups, plates and glasses besides because I wave my hands like an idiot when I talk. We have another one here somewhere I bet and even if we didn't have one Jeff it doesn't matter," Nick said holding the distressed sub closer and rubbing his hands over his back soothingly.

He had an idea what this was about; the lack of structure, the questions marks left in their relationship, Jeff's past. But there was no way to be sure about it unless Jeff talked to him.

"You won't punish me?" came his subs tiny voice after moments of silence and Nick felt like someone had punched him in the chest. He closed his eyes resolutely against the idea that he had been punished for so little, the images of a hurt Jeff that flashed in his mind.

"For what? For getting up at the crack of dawn and not getting enough sleep so you could make a feast just for me? I don't think so," Nick said trying to ease up the tension, not rage and get into how much he wanted to kill the other Dom, but the lithe body in his embrace wasn't relaxing one bit.

"I messed up," he whispered.

"No… you broke a jug. That happens to everyone. My mom burned down the kitchen the first time she tried to cook for my dad and has since been banned from it forever after that. She's only allowed to eat the food now. My dad cooks," Nick chuckled, reaching under and raising his chin so their eyes could meet finally, but there was a weight to his voice that Jeff didn't like.

It was his fault too… and he knew it.

He wanted to do better. He wanted to be able to do simple things like this. He wanted to please Nick desperately. Make him happy and not regret that he'd chosen him.

"You should eat. I'll clean this up," he said, voice tight and barely audible. Eyes still avoiding his Doms.

Nick just chuckled cutely and shook his head, wiping his thumbs over Jeff's cheeks to rub away the moisture there.

"I have a better idea," he murmured, staring from one eye to the other. "I'll clean this up since you're the one that cooked, and then we'll enjoy this delicious breakfast together."

He didn't wait for an answer, instead rose to his feet and pulled Jeff up after him, still snuggled in his arms, a firm frown on his pretty, splotchy face.

"But… that's not…" he stared and shook his head in confusion. That wasn't how it worked. He was supposed to fix his own mess and wait until Nick was finished with his meal before taking food for himself. It was what was polite, well-mannered subs did.

"That's not what beautiful?" Nick asked him and Jeff raised his eyes carefully and shrugged trying to make himself disappear.

"It's not how… how he…" he started but cut himself off when Nick's arms around him clenched and tightened.

"I'll stop you right there. I'm not Kevin, angel. I'll never be him. What he did to you…" he grit his teeth and took a calming breath before continuing. "What he did to you, although I feel like I don't know half of it just yet, was wrong. And I want you to forget about all of that and let me show you what you're supposed to be treated like. Let me show you how precious you are," Nick pleaded, Jeff's shaking hands gripped tightly in his own as he tried to show him he was nothing to be afraid of.

"I'm not…" Jeff started, ready to deny the compliment but Nick shook his head.

"You are. Precious, and priceless, and worthy and beautiful and sweet and you are safe, Jeff. You're safe with me."

He placed a hand underneath his chin again to lift the still slightly tear streaked face to his own. Jeff breathed out in shock but his eyes found Nick's as if on pure instinct and there was nothing but warmth and care in them.

It floored him to the ground once again. How amazingly safe and right he felt in Nick's arms. How easy it was to believe him. How insignificant his past seemed when his future looked to be bright and happy with Nick.

He knew he was a long way from being okay, from being whole and healed. This passed episode right here was evidence enough of that. But Nick made him believe, over and over again, that he would be there for him every step of the way and it made the journey seem easier, shorter.

Nick was his Dom now and outside of his flashbacks Jeff knew he wouldn't be hurt again.

Not by Nick.

"Sir…" Jeff breathed when the thought, the feeling that he truly wanted to belong to Nick washed over him.

"Only if you want to call me that, angel," Nick amended once again, lifting his hand to brush his fringe away from his face, that sunshiny smile of his warming Jeff from the inside out.

"I…I want to…" Jeff said timidly, locking eyes with his Dom whose face lit up and his hand came to cup Jeff's cheeks as his eyes watered.

"God, beautiful. You have no idea how much of an honor that is. To earn that title from you… just thank you," he whispered, awe and wonder in his voice and Jeff smiled in response, hand coming up to cover Nick's on his cheek.

"Y-you deserve so much more than I can give you. But… but I'll try…" he started but Nick stopped him with a gentle kiss on his lips that left him tingling and breathless.

"I just want you. You safe and happy and smiling at me and this…" he said looking down to where they were entwined, shards scattered around them but neither of them paying it attention with Jeff's breath tickling Nick's lips and Nick's hands cupping his wet cheeks.

Jeff lowered his eyes and bit his lip, but despite that his mouth curved into a shy smile and his heart jumped in excitement for the first time in so long. He nuzzled Nick hand and, hands shaking, he turned his head to place a small kiss into the center of Nick's palm.

"I love you," Nick breathed and Jeff felt the back of his neck tingle again, sharp and prickly and sort of uncomfortable but not too much.

He powered through, refusing to let Nick see there was something going on. He wasn't going to make a big deal out of nothing and cause Nick even more pain.

His decision was final as they got up and in the end cleaned the mess and ate their breakfast together.

Five days to go until Charity Night…

The rest of the holidays passed too quickly for Kurt, he saw a lot of his dad and made a tonne of once in a lifetime memories, but soon enough he was back at Dalton with all his friends and reality.

It's not that he didn't like it at school.

Yes it was still challenging because of how far behind he had been but he was thankfully catching up with the help everyone seemed eager to provide. It was just that everything seemed to be catching up with him at once.

His schoolwork alone took up a large amount of his time. Add that to planning his Presenting Ceremony and this Charity Night? He was up to his eyeballs in swatches and colour schemes and headaches over seating. As the days passed he found the Ceremony planning took more and more of a backseat which was disheartening and the Charity Night that he was initially so excited for was approaching faster than he could prepare no matter how hard he tried, how many hours he spent at it.

He had taken to carrying around the massive binder he had filled up with everything from numbers for designers he'd gotten from Dana to double check on their donations, the floor plan for the art club to show off their work, the numbers and times for the Warbler arrangements, the florist orders. Anything and everything under the sun you could think of and Kurt probably had a hastily scribbled, colour coded copy of in that massive pain in the ass folder.

And this is how Kurt found himself, with five days to go until The Night, pulling his hair out in a quiet corner of the library as he scanned over his own sketches for his evening gown. He'd started making it weeks ago and it was practically finished, just needing a few more sequins sewed on, sitting on its mannequin in the work space Dana had at home and let him borrow. He had one here as well that Hikaru had put aside for him and he often shuffled it between the two spaces.

But he was having second thoughts.

He scanned the list of designers Dana had got on board, along with Dana herself and chewed anxiously at his thumbnail. Could he auction off his own design next to something from Red? Would anyone actually bid or would it stay woefully silent as the poor girl he'd chosen to model it walked down the runway?

It was a sobering thought.

Dana might like he sketches on paper but he hadn't let her see his work in reality. What if it was awful?

He looked back down at the paper in front of him. He loved his design. It was one of the best things he'd ever come up with yet… but could he execute it? He thought back to the finished product at home and scrunched his brows. He liked it. It was exactly what he envisioned on paper… better even. When he'd had the opportunity to head to a proper fabric store and choose out what he wanted he'd been like a kid in a candy store and seeing something he thought up come to life was beyond amazing.

"What'cha scribbling, Hummel?"

Kurt's spine stiffened as the distinctive voice of one Brad the Asshole made an appearance.

"Clearly I need to stop coming to the library," he sighed, trying to ignore him as he began putting his things back in his behemoth folder. He didn't need another Brad headache on top of the headache he already had thank you.

Lately all Brad seemed to be doing is following around behind him making snide comments, telling him he was doing everything wrong, the first to jump on him and kick him when he was down when things didn't go to plan.

Brad rounded the table, fingers fiddling vainly with the already perfect knot on his tie. "It wouldn't happen to be the disaster of a design you're going to be putting into fashion show would it?" he asked sweetly.

Don't listen, don't listen, he chanted to himself.

"It wouldn't happen to be any of your business," Kurt threw back in the same tone. He didn't bother wondering how he knew, it wasn't exactly a secret and news travelled fast around here. Besides, Brad had a way of finding things out anyway. "Don't you have better things to do?"

"Then bandy words with my favourite charity case?" Brad asked, holding a hand to his heart as if offended, green eyes flashing. "Certainly not."

"You're pathetic," Kurt snapped and stood up, chair screeching behind him as it was forced back to accommodate.

"Last time I checked I was still good looking, rich and higher class than you. I know your lower education wasn't much but at least know the meaning of words before you say them," Brad said, flashing him a vindictive smile that was all shiny white teeth.

"And last time I checked I was still bonded to Blaine and you had no one, so I don't think I need to check the meaning of my words at all, sweetie," Kurt smirked back closing the binder with a resounding thump.

He was thrilled to see he struck a nerve by the way Brad's eyes narrowed and his mouth pursed and he was about to flounce away when…

"Bonded to him for now."

Kurt furrowed his brow but didn't speak.

Brad reached into his messenger bag and pulled out a glossy magazine and Kurt felt his stomach drop as de ja vu swept over him.

Leave. You don't need to read something like that again. Just go.

"Word on the street is that you haven't even set a date for your Presenting Ceremony. Haven't called any of the known vendors, haven't sent out invitations," he pouted, as if sad for him and dropped the tabloid onto the table.

Is Blaine Having Second Thoughts? Was the headline.

He refused to let it get to him. They had discussed their Presenting Ceremony. Blaine was letting him plan it. They were both just busy right now.

Apparently he said all of that out loud.

"Doesn't sound like he's bothered at all," Brad laughed harshly. "Well… he was obviously bothered about the sex if he brought it up and then didn't set a date. And let me guess? You've been giving it away ever since he mentioned it? The promise of sealing the bond unlocking those thighs."

No… that wasn't why. It wasn't.

He wasn't letting Brad poison his relationship with his lies. Kurt knew the truth, knew that Blaine wouldn't do that to him. He had purposely brought up the subject because he wanted to make sure Kurt was comfortable and aware of where their bond was heading and since then he hadn't pushed for more than Kurt wanted to give. If anything, Kurt was the one making more sexual advances than his Dom was lately.

But what if he was having second thoughts? The small insecure part of him piped up. He hasn't really asked or mentioned the Presenting Ceremony lately.

He hasn't even told you he loves you yet.

Kurt felt like he was drowning all of a sudden.

"I don't have to listen to this. You're just lonely and bitter and horrible and I feel sorry for you," Kurt ranted shakily, feeling overwhelmed and suffocated by the depth of hate and contempt Brad clearly had for him.

He went to walk away but was grabbed forcefully by the arm. He cried out in shock, dropping his binder and found himself pushed back against one of the bookshelves.

Brad let go and dusted himself off as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. "See you around, Hummel. And make sure to read up."

He flashed another awful, Hollywood smile and strutted away leaving Kurt feeling shaken and hurt, cradling his arm to his chest. It wasn't that it was painful, it was the shock that another sub had laid hands on him. Gotten so violent.

He stooped down and picked up his folder with numb fingers, cursing and feeling his eyes stupidly water as he saw some of the papers inside were bent out of shape.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid," he chastised himself as he rose, refusing to give in and cry.

His eyes inevitably strayed to the table… and he walked out of the library with the magazine tucked inside his folder at the very back like a dirty secret.

"Stupid," he choked to himself once more.

Four days to go until Charity Night…

"Jeeeff, I have so much to do," Kurt complained as his best friend dragged him from shop to shop.

Normally shopping would have been the perfect distraction, but looking at racks of clothes and the mannequins modelling them just continued to reinforce what had been stressing him out for the last… well what seemed like forever now.

"You need this break, Kurt. You're driving yourself crazy," the blonde informed him for the millionth time. He was seriously getting worried. All Kurt seemed to do was work himself harder with every passing day, like he had someone whipping him to go faster and do better.

"What I need is to finish hemming-"

"Ah, ah, ah!" Jeff cut him off sternly. "No hemming. No measuring. No 'should I have gone for a red colour scheme'," he rolled his eyes. "Relax."

"How can I relax when everything here reminds me of what I should be doing?" Kurt huffed, brow puckering as he looked at the various window displays.

Jeff pursed his lips. He had a point after all. He then tugged on his hand. "C'mon. I've gotta pick up some more food for Poncho. No clothes there but doggy vests."

"Which are hideous ninety nine percent of the time," Kurt shuddered… though he could totally make something that would be totally cute if he just had- Shit. Turn off brain! Taking a breath he refocused and instead smirked. "And I still can't believe you named him that."

Jeff refused to blush… but the heat on his face said otherwise. "It suits him."

"The name Poncho doesn't even suit the item of clothing it's named for, so how does it suit a dwarf rabbit?" Kurt asked teasingly and his friend blushed like crazy.

"Oh look, there's the shop!" Jeff exclaimed and hurried inside, ducking his head and evading the question. He knew the name was because of Nick and his crazy poncho stunt but he didn't want to make Jeff uncomfortable so he just trailed after him into Petco with a smile.

The staff was made up of a team of happy subs that greeted them as they entered, the job and most jobs involving animals; such as veterinarians, zoo keepers, animal trainers, was largely made up from the submissive side, it was a big lure to their natures because it largely involved nurturing animals most of the time.

The store smelled like clean animals and sawdust, everything at the front your usual cleaning and feeding supplies, along with toys and accessories that were more for the owner than the pet it seemed.

Jeff grabbed the bag of rabbit food he needed easily enough but then he was heading deeper into the store and Kurt followed behind him bemused.

That turned out to be a mistake.

Back there was where they actually kept the animals. It was spacious with glass cages, fish tanks, pens and various areas where you could sit and get to know the animal you picked out. Jeff headed straight for the girl next to the rabbit hutches, dressed in the employee green with her short brown hair pulled back off her face with a headband.

"Hey there," she smiled at them and Kurt read her name tag that proclaimed her 'Amy' and that she was 'Happy to help'. "Can I help you?"

His best friend was chronically shy with newcomers, this was already a fact, but it seemed like he'd swallowed that down suddenly as he opened his mouth. "Yeah. My Dom just got me a dwarf rabbit and my friend wanted to look at some."

Hold. Up. Who wanted to look at a rabbit? Him? What?

"Sure thing! We had some cuties this time around that's for sure, they've been selling like crazy so I'm not surprised," she laughed, rich and genuine, before she began leading them into a pen that was colourful; red posts with mesh all the way around so nothing could escape and a big huge sign that proclaimed it 'Bunny Corner', and before he could get too horrified at that he was sitting on a green beanbag of all things, trying to look graceful and to fold his legs carefully as to not wrinkle his pants. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no way to sit on a beanbag and look graceful so he sighed and looked after Amy.

She left again to get the rabbits and Kurt leaned over to hiss at his friend, "What the hell? I'm not interested in getting a rabbit."

Jeff shrugged innocently, shifting in his seat, the insides sifting to fit him. "I just thought we could pet them for a bit, get your mind off things. You liked 'Cho after all and you don't have to really buy one."

That mollified Kurt a little. He was touched by his friend's thoughtfulness actually, so he sucked it up and sank lower into his own seat. Because Jeff was right after all. Once he got past the potential shedding on his clothes aspect, he had happily cradled Poncho in his lap and fussed over him… not as much as Blaine had of course, but his Dom was unnaturally drawn to pets. He'd coo over a goldfish till the sun went down if he could and Kurt would to his shame, still find it stupidly endearing and love him the more for it.

"We've got three dwarf's left, they're hugely popular like I said before," the assistant said stepping into the pen again and pulling them out of the box she used to transfer them, placing them down on the floor one by one. "These three are all boys."

There was a classic black and white, a tan coloured with slightly floppier ears and a single pure white cotton ball of a thing, smaller than the other two with huge dark eyes that Kurt couldn't take his own off.

"Would you like to hold one?" she asked.

"No, no I'm fine," Kurt denied but Jeff gently grasped the exact one he couldn't take his eyes off and was placing it in his arms before he could escape. "No… Jeff!"

"There… not so bad is it?" the blonde grinned at him guilelessly, brown eyes so soft and cheerful that Kurt couldn't deny them. Damn it.

He switched his attention back to the rabbit before his best friend got him to do something else with those puppy eyes and then it hit him.

He had a baby rabbit in his hands.

"Oh my god," Kurt breathed looking down to where he had that pure white fluff ball in his hands, against his chest, hiding it's scared, twitchy little face. "He's so adorable."

Jeff grinned back at him and leaned forward to stroke his back with his forefinger. "You have to get him."

Kurt gave him a look. What happened to just petting huh, you little… "I can't just get a rabbit!" he said instead.

The assistant laughed. "I'll just leave you to get acquainted and decide." Then she was stepping outside of the pen easy as you please.

"She has no shame," Kurt grumbled. "Do they get commission here? She doesn't even have to earn it herself! This is like… baby bunny labour! Getting them to suck people in with their fluffy tails and twitchy noses."

Jeff was biting his lips to hold in his laugh, but his cheeks were twitching and his eyes were filled with repressed humour.

"I don't know why you're looking at me like that," Kurt huffed, readjusting his grip on his little bundle gently so he didn't spook, fitting him into one palm so he could free the other hand up to stroke his silky soft fur.

"Oh give it up. You loved 'Cho. You want one."

Kurt shrugged, then grinned as a thought occurred. "Blaine would die over this one here… well anything with fluff. But this one's extra cute."

Jeff raised a brow, hand absently petting the tan bunny that had gotten curious and hopped over to him. "Just Blaine?"

Choosing silence and nuzzling the baby in his hands on that particular- maybe accurate- assessment they sat for a few more minutes, just basking in the relaxation that animals could bring them.

"I can't believe I'm sitting in Bunny Corner," he finally said out loud.

His best friend laughed and Kurt lit up like he always did when he heard it. It was far too rare, but lately it was getting more frequent and Kurt couldn't thank Nick and Dalton enough.

"What are you gonna call him?" the blonde asked.

"I'm not getting him!" he stated firmly but then he glanced down at those big eyes that screamed; name me, adopt me, love me.


"Well I think he looks like a… Snowflake."

Kurt held the bunny closer at the offending suggestion. "He's not a Husky."

"I don't see you coming up with anything," Jeff challenged back.

He hummed and held the precious fluff up to his face, careful to keep a tight hold just in case he squirmed or kicked out. But the dwarf was perfectly content to be manhandled and just let his back legs hang.

"What's your name huh angel?" Kurt cooed at him, titling his head as if that would held shake an idea loose.

His attention caught however when Jeff coughed- well, more like choked. He brought the rabbit back to his chest and looked at his friend and saw red cheeks. "What's up?"

Jeff contemplated playing it off but... he kinda wanted to talk to Kurt about it. He was his best friend, the one person in the world that knew the most about him. "Nick… he calls me that."

Kurt smiled. No. Beamed, wide and delighted, his voice drawling teasingly. "Does he now?"

"Shut up." Jeff pouted, regretting his decision to give his friend teasing material.

"But Jeeeff-" Kurt whined childishly.

"Kuuuurt!" the blonde complained back in the same tone but there was an uncontrollable smile on his face.

"He thinks we don't know," Kurt whispered to the bunny seriously. The bunny twitched his nose and ears in agreement.

Jeff scoffed at them and ran his fingers through his fringe to hide the fact that he was still smiling. "You're the worst."

"But you love me anyway," he sing songed back.

"Mm," the blonde hummed, indulging him, but they both knew it was true.

"And you," Kurt said to the bunny in a baby voice. "Are you gonna make Papa love Daddy?" He bounced him a little. "Huh, little cupid?"

Another nose and ear combo twitch that he took as a yes.

Jeff started a little, a frown beginning to form because there was something else, something much more serious under that ridiculous put on voice. "Blaine doesn't tell you he loves you?"

It blurted out before he could stop it.

Kurt froze stiff, eyes shuttering over the flash of deep hurt and fear Jeff glimpsed. "No. He hasn't said it," his friend eventually revealed, voice cold and detached on the surface but Jeff knew his too well to buy it.

And this confused the hell out of Jeff because even he; cynical, fearful, jaded person that he was, could see that Blaine worshipped the ground his best friend walked on. There was no one more in love with someone than Blaine was with Kurt. It defied logic.

"Even when you say it to him?"

He had to check.

Kurt licked his lips and glanced away to the other two sleeping bunnies that had curled up together in the corner, perfectly content to just snooze the day away. "I haven't said it to him either."

That struck a chord. And so did the fear behind it.

"I haven't said it to, Nick," he confessed, almost inaudibly. "He says it to me all the time and I just… say nothing."

"Sweetie," Kurt sympathised. "You'll say it when you're ready. You don't have to if you don't feel it yet."

"But I don't know how I feel," Jeff worried, drawing his knees up and wrapping his arms around them protectively. "Nick makes me feel… more. More than anything I've ever felt but I don't know what it is. I don't know if this is the way love is supposed to feel. It scares me," he finished in a small voice.

"It scares me too," Kurt nodded, petting his little cupid bunny and drawing comfort from the little breaths he took and the little brushes of his whiskers along wrist palm as he nuzzled around. "Not in the same way as you. I think it's different for everyone. I don't think it would be love if it was so easy. But you don't have to worry about Nick. He's not expecting you to say it back when he tells you that, he just wants you to know you're loved."

Jeff soaked that in, feeling calmer and more settled just like he always did when Kurt sat and broke things down with him. There was no judgments or pressure or expectations with Kurt so it was easier to push through his feelings and find stable ground.

"Why are you scared? Blaine loves you Kurt, I know he does," Jeff told him with conviction.

Kurt eyes got a little wet with hurt and frustration. "But why doesn't he say it?"

Jeff didn't really have an answer. Blaine was so confident and outgoing and said pretty much whatever was on his mind, no filter involved. So why hadn't he told Kurt those three words?

"And I can't say it first," he shook his head. "We're not in the same situation as you two. And what if he doesn't? There's got to be a reason why he hasn't yet right? And what if that's it?"

"Kurt no-" Jeff said, shocked by the words his friend was saying and not wanting to listen to them because he knew they weren't true.

"What if he's having second thoughts about us?" Kurt finally asked, the articles Brad gave him flashing before his eyes, the cruel, bolded words of rejection, of failure that he just couldn't help but wonder if they were true.

That statement rang in between them like a gong. Loud and brash and reverberating. Jeff gasped and cupped the hand Kurt lowered to his side as his other cupped the bunny to his chest.

"I think you're scared and that there are things making you doubt, Blaine. But I also think that if you calmed down and looked deep inside yourself you'd find that you trust him and that you know you're his forever," Jeff said and Kurt blinked a lone tear away as warmth washed over him.

Because yes, when he dug deep enough he always found the silver of conviction that he was Blaine's for good.

"How are we doing over here?" the assistants chirpy voice broke into the moment and Kurt pulled himself together, tucking away all his insecurities back into that box in the back of his head and heart, and covered them up with that thin silver of hope he carried deep down.

God, what was he doing repeating those stupid magazines?!

"I think my Dom is going to kill me for the amount of money I'm probably going to spend," he replied, faking a smile and he could feel Jeff's eyes boring holes into the side of his head.

"You can't put a price on love," she grinned and Kurt felt that like a knife in the chest.

If only. Some of us would like to know what we're up against.

"So am I boxing him up for you?" she asked.

"Yes please. I'll need everything else as well," he managed to get out.

"Super!" she chirped and rang up the mountain of things bunnies apparently needed to have.

Soon enough Kurt was being dropped off at his house by Nick's family's driver, now Jeff's as well, though he seemed as awkward as Kurt had been about that when he'd seen the Anderson's one. He was helped to the door with all his stuff- and there was a lot- setting most of it down just inside to be taken up later and then he hugged Jeff goodbye tightly, both subs nuzzling each other's necks a little in that old familiar way of theirs. He knew his friend wanted to say something else, talk out that last ringing statement more with him, but he was tired and emotionally drained so the blonde left him be for now.

And this trip really had been a stress reliever and exactly what he didn't know he needed… even with the shaky ending to it. He resoled to put that from his mind however and be optimistic. If giving Blaine a baby rabbit as cute as this one didn't get the Dom to love him then he didn't know what would!

Cradling the carrier with his little cupid in, he shut the door with his foot and listened out for signs of life. Dana and Jared were supposed to be gone most of the day for their weekly date together, which Kurt found totally cute that they still upheld a tradition they'd had since first bonding, but he couldn't hear Blaine anywhere.

He knew he was doing work at the studio this morning, leaving shortly before Jeff had arrived to pick him up, but his Dom had said he was just checking on things. Surely he'd be back by now? He'd been at least two hours.

"Blaine?" he called.


Humming he took to the stairs heading for their bedroom and peeked inside the door. What he saw made him smile and shake his head in exasperation simultaneously. Blaine had decided to attempt to change their bedding.

Attempt being the correct word choice. Fail would be appropriate also.

He was currently trapped inside the cover for the duvet, frantically trying to find the corners and keep his balance at the same time, concentrating so fiercely that he obviously hadn't heard him call. Kurt had to bite his lips to keep from laughing out loud. The way he was stumbling about with his arms outstretched made him look like a ghost on drugs or something.

"Hi honey, I'm home," he cooed sweetly and Blaine jumped, knees knocking into the bed frame and causing him to curse loud and colourfully.


"Behind you, sir," Kurt snickered and Blaine twisted the right way, tangling his legs up dangerously.

"Why is this so hard?!" he whined from inside his cloth prison.

Kurt finally giggled loudly and felt the bunny in his box startle and shift his weight to another corner at the vibration from his chest. "You're twenty two and you don't know how to replace the sheets?"

"No one can! This is impossible!" the Blaine shape blob huffed, flailing his arms again and titling to the side.

He rolled his eyes indulgently. "You're hopeless."

"I'm not!"

He was pouting under that cover. Kurt knew it.

Placing the carrier carefully on the nearest flat surface, which happened to be the dresser, he walked over and began to untangle his Dom, tugging the sheet from over his head.

Blaine gasped in air like coming up from underwater, his face red and a little sweaty and his curls out of control from the static. He was bare chested, all muscle and hair in the right places, in just a pair of sweats that were riding sinfully low on his hips.

Kurt tried not to gape or get any ideas.

"How long were you in there?" Kurt asked instead to switch his mental track, shaking the sheet out.

"Too long, lovely. Much too long," Blaine said sadly, flopping down on the bare mattress exhaustedly. "Now come snuggle me. I'm traumatized."

He laughed and realized that he thought it was impossible to fit any more love in his heart for this man but he was constantly being proved wrong. He was just so god damned endearing and charming and gorgeous.

"I've got something better than snuggles," he announced getting back on track.

Blaine raised a skeptical brow. "Nothing's better than snuggling you…" he paused and thought about it, a wicked light lighting up the gold of his eyes and a decidedly naughty smirk working its way onto his full mouth. "Well except maybe when we're suck-"

"You don't need to finish that sentence!" Kurt cut in with a blush.

"You're so cute," Blaine cooed reaching out for him with grabby hands. "Come over here, lovely. I've missed you all morning. The only reason I decided to get swallowed by that evil monster sheet was because I was bored waiting for you to come home."

Kurt heard the gentle command and resisted it just long enough to grab the carrier before he was hurrying over to perch on the bed next to his Dom who came up on his elbows and stared at the box curiously.

"And what have you done now, beautiful boy?" he asked with a smile.

Kurt shrugged feeling anticipation coil in his stomach, settling it in the space between them, glad that the carrier didn't have any distinctive logo's or pictures on. It was just a plain brown. "Got you a present."

"Why is it that every time you go shopping you come back with something for me instead of you?" Blaine asked exasperatedly.

"Is this you complaining?" Kurt questioned back archly, ready to take his presents right back but Blaine was sitting up and leaning across to kiss him stupid in a matter of seconds.

"Not a bit," he pulled back to say after a sufficient amount of time spent reacquainting himself with Kurt's lips and unique taste.

Kurt hummed languidly, licking his lower lip lightly. "Good. Now open it please, sir."

"Well, since you asked so nicely, lovely," Blaine grinned and then eagerly popped the lid and froze staring straight into the dark box.

"Is that…?"

"I knew you wanted one when we visited Nick and Jeff," Kurt explained, studying his face intently for any signs of deeper feelings, any glimpse that this had sparked something.

Blaine reached into the box and after a bit of maneuvering, finally got the scuttling bunny into his hands and up and out, settling him on his lap in awe. The shock of white was a lovely contrast to the natural tan of Blaine's skin. "Oh my… he's so soft and fluffy and…" he looked up at him with something so frustratingly undefinable on his face. "You got me a rabbit."

"I did," Kurt agreed cocking his head with a little smile, trying with all his might to just work this man out. "He's a boy."

"This is the best thing ever!" Blaine exclaimed like a happy five year old, petting the shaking bunny.

Kurt smiled wider, the submissive in him exceedingly pleased with himself and preening under the praise. "Jeff and I were discussing names in the store… I thought I'd let you name him… as long as it isn't stupid," he tacked on. He wasn't having his baby named something ridiculous.

Blaine met his eye and then glanced back down at their new pet considering. "Name, name, name… uhhh, okay I've got it! I hereby officially and forever more dub thee…. Marshmallow... the third."

Kurt's jaw dropped in horror. And he thought Snowflake was bad! "No. No way. You can't name him that! Also did you actually have Marshmallow the first and the second?"

Blaine raised his brows innocently and ran his fingers along the bunny's ears. "Well... no... but he looks like one. And besides, I said officially and forever more. No take backs."

Kurt reached across and rescued his baby from his derange Papa and cradled him to his sternum, just under his chin so he could lay soothing kisses to his tiny head and glare at Blaine at the same time. "I forbid it. I said I had veto rights so, no."

"But Kurt," Blaine laughed. "He's mine."

"He's ours. I'm his Daddy and you're his Papa and as his Daddy I'm not letting him get even more of a complex about being eaten than he already has instinctively."

"But it's cute."

"But I don't care," he shot back with a smirk.

Blaine huffed thought there was nothing much in it but amusement… then something dawned. "Did you just call yourself Daddy, lovely?"

Kurt coloured considerably and buried his face in the rabbit. "Maybe."

"And I'm Papa?"

"Shut up."

"We're bunny daddies!" Blaine crowed, the Dominant side of him getting a feeling of deep satisfaction at the idea. Practically eating it up.

"I hate you so much you dork," Kurt complained. I love you so much you dork, he shouted internally.

Blaine laughed delighted and scooted closer to him, pecking him on the temple then nuzzling into his cheek, mindful of their adopted bunny child.

"I adore you, lovely," he whispered and even thought the words were warm, full of affection and sent a thrill down Kurt's spine, they weren't the three words he longed and ached to hear.

Disappointment put a lump in his throat that he couldn't speak around for a moment.

Blaine for once, didn't seem to notice, too enthralled with the latest addition to their family. "So what do you wanna name him then?"

Kurt looked down at the pure white bunny. There was a name in his head that just stuck for him. "I was thinking… Cupid?"

Blaine smiled and kissed his cheek. "Cupid Marshmallow Hummel-Anderson the third. Perfect."

Kurt rolled his eyes but leaned his head on Blaine's shoulder, soaking in his light and warmth. Maybe it would take a little more time for Blaine to tell him he loved him. Or maybe fall in love with him. He could wait. He could.

He hated that it was getting harder to believe that each time he said it.

One day to go until Charity Night…

A gentle knock on the door disturbed his manic pacing up and down his sewing room. The charity fashion show was tomorrow...TOMORROW... and one of the girls wearing one of the three spectacular dresses they had lined up had called in sick and wouldn't be able to be in the show.

He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown of epic proportions and the last thing he needed was someone coming in to find him falling apart. He could almost see Brad's smug face when the entire event fell through and his chest tightened with the thoughts flashing in his mind.

"I'm really sorry, Kurt. I just... I haven't been feeling well for days now so my Dom insists that I get a checkup and the only time the doctor can take me is tomorrow and they said I might need to stay at the hospital overnight and..."

"Whoa, Chelsea, Chels... calm down, sweetie. You getting better is way more important than the show," he interrupted, trying his best to sound honest and reassuring but inside he was breaking apart and he had no idea how to pull himself back together.

"I know but I feel awful leaving you one person short a day before the show. I just..." she said, tears in her eyes and bottom lip shaking.

"I'll be okay," he smiled, trying to be upbeat. "The show will be okay. I'll find someone else or if not that I'll pull one dress out of the lineup," he told her pushing her towards Charlie, her Dom, who stood anxiously by his car waiting for her.

"I'm sorry," she sniffled once again and he hugged her tightly. She was a real sweetheart and she knew her fashion well enough for Kurt to consider shopping with her and that said a lot.

"Stop that. Just focus on getting better. Let me know what the doctor says?" he asked, glancing at Charlie who nodded, a grateful expression on his face as he helped her in the car and pulled out of the parking lot, leaving Kurt alone with his thoughts that rang loud enough to tune out the noise of cars coming in and out around him.

He was close to a breakdown and he just wanted to sit down and close his eyes and pretend like he didn't even exist because there was no way he would ever be able to make everything right by tomorrow night.

He would let Dana down, and Hikaru, and the models and the Warblers, but most of all, he would let Blaine down.

He would finally prove what the press had been saying since the moment he stepped into the picture; that he was stupid and incompetent and pitiful and just a huge failure and he was wondering why the hell did he sign up to do this whole thing in the first place.

"Well, well, well..." a dreaded voice snickered from his right side and with a frustrated sigh he turned to see Brad, leaning against his bright orange Porsche and smirking in spiteful glee.

"Brad... just what I needed," Kurt rolled his eyes sarcastically as he attempted to get into the school, their last encounter ringing in his ears loud and clear, as well as the light bruise his fingers left on his forearm.

However the taller sub jumped into step with him easily, the smile on his face looking friendly and interested to anyone who passed by. But Kurt could see his eyes, and the chill in them made that smile look sinister.

"What is it that I hear? Trouble with the show? I can't tell you how incredibly surprised I was to find out that you were fucking things up," he said with that trademark, evilly bored tone of voice.

"I don't know what you've heard, but everything is under control. I think your ego is starting to affect your senses. You should get that checked," he answered but the shakiness in his voice just didn't deliver the insult as well as he had wanted to.

"Sooo... I'm wrong and Chelsea didn't just back out and you didn't just lose a model a day before the show. My bad," he said with a chuckle that sounded like it was coming straight from the deepest pits of hell to Kurt.

"I've got alternate solutions. You just mind your own business," he tried to dodge him to enter his workroom, but he cut his way by putting his hand against the doorframe.

"I hope one of them is pulling that god awful thing you call a dress out of the auction. That way, Blaine can see how incompetent you are but not how deluded about your own talent you are. Maybe, just maybe, you'll manage to cling to him for another week or so like that," he laughed. "Think about it, Virgin Princess," he called out over his shoulder as he sauntered away with joy in his eyes so rotten and corrupt it made Kurt's stomach rise and his skin prickle.

He knew he was far passed the point where he was supposed to tell his Dom about what was going on; with the name calling, the taunts, the magazines and the latest bruise he had on his arm. He'd promised him. But he didn't want to be a burden, a casualty...

He wanted Blaine to be proud, but it was staring to dawn on him that it just might not happen.

Now, an hour after the last encounter with Brad he was still thinking of Blaine.

Blaine… sad and disappointed and ashamed of his failure of a sub.

His hand ran into his hair without him noticing and he pulled tightly, trying to use physical pain to wrench himself out of his own head.

Another knock reverberated against the walls and he walked towards the door on shaking legs and lips pressed tightly together to keep the desperate tears in.

He laid an open palm on the smooth wood and called out quietly.

"Who is it?"

"Kurt… its Miriam," the gentle voice answered back and some of the tension left his body. He knew she wouldn't judge or make fun of him.

He turned the key and pulled the knob towards himself revealing a small, worried face and fingers clasped tightly together as her eyes darted all over the place, seemingly refusing to look at him.

She seemed uncomfortable and scared and he didn't like that look on the gentle book warm a single bit.

He opened the door wider and invited her in before locking them both away from the rest of the world.

"Is everything okay?" he asked after she settled into the soft armchair and the silence around them stretched an uncomfortable amount of time.

She jumped at the sound of his voice and offered a timid smile as she nodded softly. "I should ask you the same thing!" she said gently and he frowned.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked her and she shrugged in a silent apology.

"I was going home and I accidently overheard you and Brad. He was making fun of you," she ventured tentatively and he looked down to his feet, sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Yeah. He's been on my case about this Charity event for a while now. But today he actually hit a nerve because Chelsea backed out and I'm officially in deep shit about it all so..."

She nodded in understanding. "I know I heard it. That's why I'm here actually. I wanted to talk to you about something. And it's… it's a bit embarrassing so I'm nervous."

She chuckled awkwardly and he walked to her, perching himself onto the armrest of her chair and taking her hand in his.

"Miriam, I've grown to see you as one of my closest friends. If there's something I can do for you…. anything… just let me know okay?" he asked with what he hoped was a reassuring smile and she smiled back, this time the stretch of her lips wider and more confident.

"I… okay... Um… can I start with an explanation first?" she asked and he chuckled.

"You can start with whatever you like. I'm here to listen," he told her easily and she took a deep breath, standing up and wrapping her hands around her middle as she walked past a huge mirror.

"Wes and I met ages ago. At a science camp no less. We were always workaholics the both of us. If you ask him about how we met and how he came to a decision to claim me he'll tell you the same thing every time: he loves my brain, my drive, my intellect. I love that about him too. And I love that he respects the traits I value over other things," she explained and Kurt frowned trying to make sense of where this was leading.

"But?" he prompted and she turned towards the mirror, twirling a lock of hair around her finger.

"But sometimes I think there wasn't a moment when he stood in a room full of people and thought to himself that he has the best looking sub of all," she said and the younger sub gasped in surprise.

"Miriam," he tried but she lifted her hand.

"No it's… it's not what you think. I'm not convinced I'm ugly or repulsive or something like that. I don't have a complex. I'm okay looking and I know Wes loves me. But there are times I see the way David gapes when Corrine enters the room, or the way Ryan nearly drools over Thad... and… I wish… I wish I could have a moment like that. Where he won't be rationally attracted to the deep and meaningful things about me. I wish there was a moment where he looked at me and lost his mind for a moment. I wish I could give him a chance to brag the way Blaine does about you. And I figured… you're missing a model and Chelsea and I are the same size so fitting shouldn't give you too much trouble. So um… what do you think?" she locked eyes with him through the mirror and he blinked in disbelief.

"You want to be in the show? Wear the dress?" his eyes lit up with glee and she smiled softly at him.

"I want you to turn me into someone beautiful for him. Just for one night before I go back to being sweet, smart Miriam," she answered and somewhere deep down Kurt could understand where she was coming from. "And after what I just heard it'll help you too."

She wanted to make her Dom proud. He could so relate. She was wrong about one thing though.

"We can definitely do that. But Miriam?" he said and she cocked an eyebrow at him.


"Every time you walk into the room Wes lights up. He loves you. And he is proud of you all the time," he said and she smiled teary at him as he stood up and picked up a garment bag to hand her the dress.

They had a lot of work to do.

Charity Night…

"What do you mean the flowers are not here yet?" Kurt hissed into the tiny little microphone attached to the phone set on his head.

He had originally pitched a fit for having to wear it because it was sooo not working with his outfit and it was messing up his hair completely- hair and clothes it took him many sleepless nights trying to sort out- but then he realized how much easier it was to bark orders at people while still having your hands free to fix the table cloths and straighten the wrinkles on the clothes set to be worn that night.

Multitasking was seriously underrated.

"I don't know, Kurt. I called them an hour ago and they said they were on their way." Thad who was, for the lack of better word, his assistant for the day, said in a rush, biting the skin around his thumb nervously.

He wanted to help but he was way too small for any of the donated clothes and also, he wanted to ogle Ryan on the catwalk so he volunteered to help with the preparations. Besides he knew all about stage lighting and all that fun stuff so he was a great coordinator for the drama clubs efforts. In reality though, they needed about seventy of both him and Kurt with the amount of work still left to be done.

"The flower shop is five minutes from here," Kurt ranted pulling his phone out to check the time, then replacing it again. "They should have been here by now. The show starts in a few hours." The tone was more than a little desperate and Thad nodded trying to appear somewhat outwardly calm, but there was a scared glint in his eyes that showed he understood what kind of trouble they were in.

"What do you want to do?" he asked him and Kurt sighed, clutching the clipboard closer to his chest with one hand and rubbing the bridge of his nose with pinched fingers of the other.

A few of the bigger donators demanded the flowers and the food to be ordered from the 'good part of the city' and as much as Kurt tried to argue that it defeated the purpose of the charity, he couldn't argue with them. He ordered the flowers from the posh, but utterly tacky, flower shop down the street, doing his best to describe what he wanted the arrangements to look like.

They eyed him like he was out of his mind when he went for the less expensive but beautiful centrepiece for the front of the catwalk and picked matching, smaller pieces to scatter around the tables.

He was happy with what he had chosen in the end and he couldn't wait for them to deliver it so he could complete the decorations for the night. But now they left him hanging and he had an ugly feeling they did it on purpose. To make the poor, pathetic, gold digging sub from Lima look incompetent in front of his Dom and his new family.

And now he had absolutely no idea what to do… unless…

"Kurt?" Thad called him timidly and he snapped out of his own head, giving him a reassuring smile.

"I have an idea. It might piss some people off but it's our only option," he said and Thad eyed him with a small frown on his face.

"You think they're doing it on purpose, don't you?" he said knowingly and Kurt shrugged.

"Do you have another explanation?" he asked, raising his eyebrow and Thad tilted his head contemplatively.

"It does make sense now that I think about it. They were way too adamant about ordering the flowers from them and now they failed to deliver on such a big social event? They wouldn't do that unless it was on purpose. But you have an idea?" Thad asked and Kurt nodded, taking his phone and dialling a number.

"Just pray to God this works," he said as he waited for the person on the other side to pick up, a smile lighting up his face when he heard a familiar voice.


"Mae… Hi… it's Kurt. I really need your help," he greeted her and Thad listened to their conversation, admiring the ease with which Kurt handled stress. He might have been collapsing on the inside for all Thad knew but on the outside he was collected, calm and organized to perfection.

Tonight would be amazing and it would show to all the haters what an amazing person Kurt was, Thad thought to himself as he made himself busy again, determined to make things as smoother as possible for his friend. After participating in theatre for so long, he wasn't a stranger to last minute disasters.

About an hour later the hair and makeup crew showed up, arms laden with cases and bags of supplies as they set up their beauty studio backstage. Just a few minutes after them the models arrived and Kurt pointed them all to their garment bags that had little tags hanging off of them.

The tag contained the description of the outfit, the designer that made it, the name of the model, and Kurt's instructions on what type of hair and makeup he wanted to complete the look.

With that level of organization things backstage ran smoothly from the first moment and Kurt was free to leave them to their work as he went to point the artists to their assigned areas where they could place their art work for sale.

As the final artist placed his sculpture onto its assigned stand Kurt ticked the artist's name on his clipboard and sighed in relief.

"Everything okay?" he heard a voice coming from behind him and smiled when he saw Sebastian in his clothes for the catwalk.

He looked stunning.

Black leather pants hugged his long, toned legs perfectly, making them look twice as long, and a dark green, cashmere sweater made his eyes pop and sparkle. His hair was an artful mess on top of his head and his eyes were framed with a tiny bit of eyeliner, making the 'preppy boy next door' look take on a note of decadence and sin.

"Wow. You look amazing," Kurt said, pleased with his choice of clothes for the snarky sub. The outfit suited him like a second skin, completed of course with his perpetually condescending smirk.

"Don't I always?" Sebastian asked with a wink and Kurt rolled his eyes playfully.

"I would say yes but I don't think we have enough room for your ego in here," Kurt bit back and Seb threw his head back and laughed merrily.

"Dave was right. Kitty does have claws," he smirked and Kurt lifted his chin proudly.

"Yup. And I'm not afraid to use them. Speaking of Dave… has he seen you looking like that?" he asked curiously.

"No, not yet. I'm trying to be good because I have a feeling these won't stay on me long if he sees me," he said confidently and Kurt faked a shudder.

"Too much information. Just keep yourself presentable until you walk off the catwalk. After that I don't care what you do. I have enough problems without my models being ravaged thank you very much," he sniped at him, glancing at the clock and realizing he was an hour and a half away from the beginning and there were still no flowers.


"Thad told me about the flowers. Did you manage to fix the mess?" And all of a sudden the cold, snarky Sebastian was gone and replaced by the true friend Kurt had found in him.

"I hope so. I called my old boss and told her what happened. She said she'll do her best to help me out so the only thing I can do is wait," he said tiredly and Seb nodded. "She does the order for the Showing every year. She would have been my first choice if I wasn't told explicitly to go to elsewhere. And look how well that turned out!"

"Some people are pathetic, Kurt. The only thing you can do is be better than them and hey," he looked around. "Looks like you're succeeding to me, with or without flowers."

"It wasn't supposed to be without though. It shouldn't have to be," Kurt frowned, trying not to let it get to him. If he did he knew he'd crawl into a dark corner and not get out again ever, because it did hurt. Hurt that people thought so little of him, tried to hurt him over and over for something so petty as where he came from.

"I know. But look, if she manages to make it on time, great… your vision is fulfilled, but if not… you still did a kickass job and everything looks absolutely amazing. Everybody will have too good of a time ogling us in sexy clothes to worry about the flowers. Trust me," he said, clamping a hand on his shoulder and Kurt smiled at him ruefully.

"Your form of cheering up is very strange. Half of it is mockery," Kurt told him frankly.

Seb shrugged, lips tagging upwards. "You work with what you've got."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Well I suppose I should say thanks?"

He inclined his head regally. "Insults and pity don't come free you know."

Kurt smothered an amused laugh. "Thank you, Seb."

A large frame over the taller teens shoulder caught his eye.

"Okay I think I see Dave looking for you. Go and hide and whatever you do, do not, I repeat, do not have sex until the pretty clothes are sold and taken away from you, okay?" he lectured pushing him towards the heavy curtains and away from his Dom's searching eyes.

He and the rest of the jocks had just finished playing their charity game, against a competitive school that Hikaru had managed to get on board, and gotten showered in time for those who were in the show to hurry backstage to be dressed from the looks of all the letterman jackets disappearing on the other side of the stage.

Sebastian allowed himself to he pushed but the snark kept up full force. "I make no promises. Besides, when Dave sees me in this he'll buy these clothes himself just so I can model them for him, and him alone. Private shows are always the best," he winked and scurried away from Kurt's threatening glare, chuckling like a mad man.

"Idiot," Kurt huffed, but it was affectionate and warm as he turned towards the main entrance and his face split into a huge grin.

"Mae!" he squealed and rushed towards her, taking the heavy flowers off her hands. "Oh my god you are a life saver. Thank you so, so, so much for this."

The lines etched into her face fell into an indulgent, happy expression. "Don't you worry about a thing, dear. It was my pleasure to help you out and show those rich assholes what true class is. No more making horrendous arrangements for once," she grinned, hugging him awkwardly over the mountain of flowers between them.

Kurt released her after a moment and looked at the arrangements in his hands. They were perfect. Youthful, discrete enough not to drawn too much focus, but lovely and playful explosions of colour to lift up the spirits and show that the event was organized by the young people, for the young people.

"You truly outdid yourself this time," he praised her happily as he walked towards the empty spaces on the tables and deposited the smaller bouquets there, before carrying the main piece onto the end of the catwalk, brightening the stage and rounding off the look of it perfectly.

Kurt had a brief jolt of nostalgia as he was setting everything down in their proper places. He hadn't worked in the shop since he was claimed and he kind of missed it. The floral, fresh smell, the camaraderie he found there in Mae's little shop, the way it always made him feel closer to his mother.

"I only followed your instructions. You always had the perfect taste," she complimented right back, eyeing the room approvingly with her experienced eye.

It lacked the usual tackiness and exaggeration she hated. Instead it was sophisticated and happy without being childish or over the top.

The main entrance was decorated in fairy lights and balloons in black and white, following the main theme for the entire room. Black tablecloths with a trim, white plates and glasses, heavy, black drapes separating the backstage area and providing contrast for the beautifully sparkly, white and silver catwalk.

The only thing standing out were the flowers Kurt had requested, without a hint of black or white, just pure joy, the arrangements looking like fireworks among the monochromatic surroundings.

"Thank you so much, Mae. I couldn't have done this without you. And I have your payment right here," he said running to his folder and grabbing the cheque he'd wrote out earlier that had one zero more than they agreed on.

"Kurt, dear, this is far too much! I can't accept this," she exclaimed, a little out of sorts when she saw the number.

Kurt waved her off firmly, stepping back when she tried to force the cheque back to him. "I talked it out with my Dom and his family. They are among those financing this event and I have a pretty big budget to work with. Since I didn't go over the top like they usually do I managed to save a lot of it. Consider it my thank you for tonight and for taking a chance on me when nobody else would." He swallowed and gave her a warm smile. "Sometimes the money you gave me meant not going to bed hungry for me and my family. It's the least I can do."

There were tears in his eyes that he blinked hastily away and she hugged him again, proud of the young man she had watched grow up from just a boy.

"Your mom would be proud of you, sweetie. I know she would," she whispered to him sincerely and he let out a small sob into her neck before pulling himself together again.

"Thank you so much. Are you staying for the event?" he asked and she shook her head apologetically.

"I would love to dear, but I'm afraid I have more work to do for a wedding tomorrow so I'll have to go back home, make sure Alisa isn't putting lilies where carnations should be," she grinned and Kurt shared it.

"She still getting them mixed up huh?" he laughed.

"I don't know how, bless her heart," Mae giggled. "She's determined to get it right though so I can't fault her too much."

"Tell her I said hi?" he asked and Mae nodded then pointed at him sternly.

"You try to have some fun in between stressing over this whole thing you hear?" She kissed his cheek warmly and then was swooping her long, flowy cardigan out the main door, leaving Kurt smiling after the trace of his old life that was still a part of him.

He knew he would always be a part of Lima, a part of the poor, ruined town with good, hardworking people in it. Housing kids with dreams tucked safely under their pillows with no chance of coming true and air thickened with a mixture of despair and resignation.

He may be living in this new, flashy and rich world, but he was still just a boy from Lima and as he looked over at the flowers and realized how much work Mae had put into helping him out, he had never been more proud of where he came from.

Because as small and poor and neglected the people of Lima were, they still had his back.

Ticking the last box on his clipboard he made his way over to the security team and ushers they'd hired for the occasion and they opened the gate, letting the awaiting guests in as he approached Thad who was directing them towards the buffets and the art work that was for sale.

He looked amazing in dark gray suit pants and a gray and red checkered blazer Kurt had picked out for him, playing to his nerdy side while still managing to make him look sexy if Ryan drooling from behind the stage was anything to go by.

Kurt winked at the huge Dom teasingly and took Thad's hand, leading him away to make the last round to see if everything was in place before the show began and there would officially be nothing more they could do.

Jeff was already here, sitting in his reserved seat in the front row next to his parents and chatting quietly. He had wanted to help more, had continually asked if there was something he could do but there was too many people, unknown people, backstage and it was chaos and shouting orders everywhere else and Kurt didn't want to put stress on his friend when he didn't have to. He'd rather have him safe and content and spending time with his family. They both didn't get to see them as often as they were used to now that they were here, so it was extra special when they could merge the two.

Burt and Carole were coming tonight as well and had seats in between the Sterling's and Andersons. Their presence was going to no doubt cause a stir but Kurt couldn't care less what the stuffy 'upper class' thought about them being there. They had just as much right as anyone else. The only thing he was anxious about though was if they made them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, he didn't want his family in that sort of situation. The same situation he'd found himself in ever since he'd been claimed.

Kurt slipped backstage after checking on the school band to make sure they were all set up to start when the show started. He spotted his Dom getting his curls pulled and combed through, his face the picture of discontent at the heavy handed touch of the guy over him. Blaine loved people playing with his hair, but this guy was clearly going for efficiency which left no room for a scalp massage.

Kurt couldn't help but be secretly pleased about that. He didn't really want anyone playing with Blaine's hair like that but him.

"Kurt!" he called when he spotted him and he headed that way.

So far he'd been avoiding his Dom most of the day, other than to give him instructions before he had to stop to start getting ready for the show. Blaine was just too big of a distraction for him on the best of days, let alone when he was having what he had privately took to calling the; I Love You, Do You Love Me Crisis.

Everything was as done as it was going to get now though so he headed for him, feeling relief sweep over him with every step, tension uncoiling in his limbs.

"There's my working boy," he beamed at him, offering out his hand.

Kurt smiled back and took it, linking their fingers.

"Did Mae show up? Seb let me know what was going on," Blaine asked concerned.

"Yeah. The arrangements she brought were actually better than the originals so, panic over!" he half smiled, watching the stylist run moose through the midnight curls to tame the frizz better.

Blaine was still frowning though. "There shouldn't have been a panic in the first place. I'm going to phone them first thing tomorrow and make them apologise to you… probably with expensive flowers."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "You don't have to do that, sir."

"Lovely, you've been worrying yourself sick over this for weeks. Not sleeping, not eating right, crying-"

"That was once," Kurt cut in lamely.

Blaine gave him a quelling look and he knew he was busted. "If I didn't know how important this was to you then I would have pulled the plug well before now," he told him sternly. "But it is so I've let you keep at it. But I'm still looking out for your best interest's baby."

Kurt thought back to the last few weeks. The little snacks Blaine had started carrying and leaving around for him so he'd eat more. The patience he had when Kurt was snapping at him left and right. The stern commands that brought him back from the edge when he felt like he was going to collapse from exhaustion.

"Thank you, sir. I know I've been… difficult lately," he managed.

"You know I'm here for you, lovely. Thick and thin. Tantrums or no tantrums," he smirked. "You can tell me anything."

I know, but I just can't seem to say it, he thought miserably.

"I've gotta go check on a few more things, but I'll be back to watch you do your thing up there," he chirped, changing the subject. He leant down and gave him a peck on the lips. "Don't fall off the stage."

"If I did I would still look fierce!" Blaine called after him.

Despite the fact that he had convinced himself he would not enjoy the night, Wes had to admit Kurt did an amazing job with the Charity event. The auditorium looked even more stunning than it did on the night of the Winter Formal. Food and drinks were flowing, the people invited were all having fun… and the models… well…

Kurt outdid himself for sure in that department.

Sure he had enlisted several Dalton's guys and girls to do the hair and makeup for the models, as well as a few seasoned hairdressers and make-up artists that had offered their time free of charge, mainly drawn in by the opportunity to style alongside some of the biggest fashion names. But he had personally picked the styles for them to match the clothes they would wear and as far as Wes could tell he hadn't made a single mistake so far.

The clothes being modeled were all donated by noted famous fashion names in the industry and the crown jewels of the collection were Red's designs that Dana donated for the occasion.

He was anxious to see Miriam wearing one of the dresses. He could hardly believe when she asked him what he thought about it when one of the girls had to drop out of the show. She wanted to help Kurt out because the two of them got along perfectly, had done since they first met, but she wanted his opinion on it first.

He told her what he always answered when she would ask something like that. That he was okay with her doing whatever made her happy.

And so there he was, sitting by the side of the catwalk, giving discrete thumbs up to his fellow Warblers and classmates on their walks and poses as he waited for his beautiful sub to step out and walk the stage.

"Now the next dress is really interesting… it was both designed and hand made by our very own organizer of this event, Kurt Hummel. The model wearing it originally dropped out of the show at the last moment but never one to panic and lose his cool, Kurt fitted the dress for a substitute model in no time at all and let me tell you… the results are to die for," the commentator for this event, a perky guy from the drama department, hammed it up. "Ladies and gentleman prepare your wallets because I assure you, you don't want to miss the chance to add this beauty to your wardrobe. In an original, dark green, Kurt Hummel design, please welcome, Miriam Sanders!"

The announcer made a 'ta-dah' gesture with his hand as the beat changed and soft, instrumental music started to play.

The curtains were pulled back revealing a lone figure standing at the beginning of the catwalk, head bowed and shadows playing on her pale skin. She stepped forward, the silver straps of her high heels catching the twinkling lights and casting playful specks onto the green mesh flowing around her long legs.

The bottom half of the dress was see through, dark green and fluttering around her, specks of the glittery silver and dark green leafy, swirly pattern climbing up the backs of her legs and covering her thighs and hips, playing peek-a-boo with her skin.

Her tiny waist was hugged by a strip of green and from there it just got more mesmerizing as the upper half of the dress crisscrossed over her chest and crated a sinfully deep vee on her torso. The sleeves of the dress were a bit puffed out on her fragile shoulders and strands of her long, curled hair were touching them teasingly.

But her hair looked different.

Wes could hear the collective gasp when she stepped fully into the spotlight and she became more confident and secure in her steps on the stage.

She was magnificent.

Her hair was died an electric orange, cascading down her back in rich, voluminous curls, bringing out the beauty of her brown-green eyes, framed with eyeliner and thick eyelashes, the blush on her face doing nothing to hide the cheekiness of her freckles, and there was a shy smile pulling at her plump pink lips.

Her usually tiny and wiry body was somehow hugged by the sexy, see through dress making her look like a goddess and even though to Wes she had always been that, the difference between his old sub and this new luminous creature on stage was accentuated by the catcalls and whistles from the audience as she twirled in front of them.

His blood boiled and every possessive instinct he had ever had soared to life, compelling him to jump onto the stage and whisk her away so she could continue being only his beautiful sub, only for his eyes to rake over and his hands to touch and his mind to picture her in throws of passion, needy and desperate for him and him alone.

Somewhere in the distance he heard the announcer opening the bidding on the dress, the price starting at two hundred dollars but skyrocketing quickly to over a thousand as hungry eyes feasted on his sub, wanting her, seeing everything he saw in her a long time ago and he was growing crazy with jealousy and the need to shield her from them.

He glanced up and saw her finishing her twirl before she locked eyes with him, the look on her face questioning and uncertain, like she didn't even care that everyone else in the room wanted her, craved her, admired her… like his was the only opinion that mattered to her.

She placed a hand on her hip, jutting it out a bit, the dress swirling around her and hands around him shot in the air, bidding on the item of clothing she was wearing.

All of a sudden his hormones flared up, his chest tightened as a thought entered his mind. Had he been composed and balanced he would laugh at himself for being crazy and acting that way but he couldn't help it.

People around him were shouting and offering money to buy the dress she was wearing, looking like something from a fantasy movie; a fairy, an angel, like magic itself.

And people wanted that dress, her dress.

The dress that touched her skin, wrapped around her like a summer breeze and caressed her body the way only he was allowed too. And if they won someone else would touch the dress that touched what was his and to him, in his lust and jealousy ridden mind, it sounded like someone else would touch her.

She did another graceful twirl, camera's clicking away and her curls bounced, revealing the mark on her neck, a dark, almost black, purple, barely distinguishable from the black frame of his possession but he knew it was there… the outline on the heart she bore on her neck that made her his.

She turned back to him, her face closed off and careful as she waited for him to react and he didn't even control it when his hand shot up in the air, the auction paddle flashing bright green as he spoke up over the voices shouting their offers.

"Eight thousand dollars!"

There was a moment of stunned silence.

The announcer gaped at him, the guests stared in shock and Miriam was frozen on stage, looking at him wide eyed and uncertain as she took a step back to follow the protocol and walk off the stage to change and put the dress onto the hanger to be taken to the buyer.

"Well…um…eight thousand dollars going once… going twice… sold to Dom Wes Montgomery. Thank you, Miriam," he finished, forcing a casual smile and she bowed gently, making a hasty exit off the stage.

Her disappearance behind the curtain snapped Wes out of his numbness and he jumped into action, rising from his seat and pushing through the crowd towards the backstage area.

He found Thad keeping guard on the entrance to the backstage but the petite sub said nothing as he watched him charge towards him. He just stepped aside, pushing the curtain for him to duck under it.

Wes fought his way through a few racks of clothes and before he could realize it he was face to face with his sub… green eyes wide, bottom lip between pearly teeth, long hair catching light and blazing like fire and that sinful green dress still dancing around her.

God she was beautiful.

"Sir…" she started, fingers twined painfully in front of her and her voice small. "Sir, I'm sorry."

The words hit him like a slap in the face and he took a good look at her, shocked as he realized she didn't see the admiration and the fierce urge to protect her in his eyes. She was insecure and vulnerable and his Miriam was never like that. She was strong and independent and sure of her own value.

She wasn't this… this timid person he was looking at and he feared he was the one that made her act that way.

"Miriam, there's no need to be sorry. Why would you apologize?" he asked, fighting to keep his hormones in check as he approached her and pulled her to sit next to him on a plush sofa away from the ruckus of the improvised changing room.

"I… I don't know really… I just…the look on your face wasn't a happy one… so… I thought…" she started, her sentences jumbled and rushed as she tried to get a read on him.

"I was surprised sweetie that's all," he assured her gently and she nodded, hands pulled from his and placed delicately onto her green and silver covered lap. "You didn't tell me you'd change your look so I was shocked."

"I just… I did it for you… sort of…" she admitted, taking a deep breath and looking up at him, a spark of bravery and her usual fierceness coming back slowly.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, frowning in confusion at her words.

"I just… I feel stupid now to be honest," she said ruefully, huffing a self-depreciating laugh and he cupped her cheek gently.

"There's no need for that. I just don't understand what you meant by saying you did it for me?" he questioned and she nuzzled his hand for a second before realizing she would just have to explain like she did to Kurt.

"Okay… um… just hear me out and don't interrupt please. Okay?" she asked biting her lip again and he nodded, scooting closer to her and closing his eyes at the whiff of her perfume that she, luckily, didn't change for this.

"I know you love me. You make it so painfully obvious and there's absolutely no way for me to not be aware of it. I also know you find me good looking and um… desirable is the right word I guess. But… I… I don't even know how to say it…" she chuckled and he allowed her a moment to compose herself before she continued.

"Okay, it's like this. A lot of your friends have subs that are absolutely gorgeous. Like David who has Corrine and let's be honest she's the prettiest girl in Dalton. Dave has Sebastian and he's hot as hell. Blaine chose Kurt who, on the worst of days, looks like an angel, and Nick has Jeff now and don't get me started on that blondie."

Wes inclined his head to concede the point and show he was following her train of thought. It was true enough he supposed.

She continued. "And sometimes I look at them when they walk with them and I can see that, like, David is proud of how envious people are of him for being bonded to Corrine, and then I know some guys who have talked about how Nick got so lucky and Nick beamed at that… and I just… you've never had that. I know you find me good looking, but I also know you're biased. I'm not ugly but I'm not… I'm not someone who turns heads and draws attention and I guess I wanted… I wanted to give you one night where people would envy you and you could be proud because you'd know I only ever wanted you. So I went to Kurt and this happened," she gestured to herself with an embarrassed smile and he couldn't believe what she was saying.

How could she not know he was envied openly by people whenever he walked by holding her hand. How was she not aware of what her smile did to Doms and how much attention her fragile body combined with her intelligence and strength drew?

"Miriam…" he said on an exhale and she stood up, trying not to step on the hem of the dress.

"I know it was stupid okay. I'm going back to being just Miriam in an hour and we can forget this ever happened," she said quietly and he stood up too, standing behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist.

"You look beautiful, love. And people saw it and they were jealous of me. But I want you to know one thing." He kissed her shoulder. "You look beautiful every day of your life. When you want to look cute and you wear makeup, when you exhaust yourself with work and you fall asleep at your desk, glasses askew and drooling, when you wake up in the morning with pillow wrinkled tattooed on your cheeks…every moment of every day you look amazing to me. And every time I hold your hand in public I feel like a smug little caveman because it's me who gets to hold you, and it's me who wears your color on my neck. I love you. And I'm proud to be with you. Tonight when you look like everyone's fantasy and every other night when you are my fantasy," he told her, turning her in his arms and kissing her cheeks, her nose, her lips.

"So should I keep the hair color and the contacts?" she asked him with a gentle, carefully proud smile.

"I like the hair and I love the dress. But I do miss the glasses. You're very sexy with them. So can we keep the dress, the hair and the glasses?" he asked her bumping their noses together.

"We can keep anything you want," she said wrapping her hands around her neck and he kissed her lips again.

"Just you," he whispered when he lifted her off the ground and twirled her around once, making her giggle and he fell in love with her all over again.

Kurt was frantic backstage, checking and double checking people before they went down the runway, making last minute alterations and spraying hair with hairspray or glitter to catch the lighting.

He was so involved in fact, he hardly noticed that it was Miriam and his dress that was suddenly standing in front of him for last touches.

Kurt gaped at the power of her transformation even though he was the one to sit down with her and plan it out. "You look stunning."

She ducked her head modestly and smoothed her hands gently over her hips. "Thank you. This dress is certainly more than half the reason why. It really is amazing, Kurt."

Kurt forced himself to focus, using a critical eye to spot anything amiss. It was hard to be objective though. He was really proud of himself but still totally scared shitless that people weren't going to respond to it like the well-known names.

"I think I might pass out," he confided to her feeling faint.

She grimaced and joked, "Fill me with confidence why don't you."

He blew out a deep breath and bent to fiddle needlessly with some of the lace. "You're right. You're gonna be amazing and the dress is gonna be amazing and everything will be amazing."

"Keep repeating that I think I may start to believe you," Miriam smiled weakly, looking straight ahead and breathing deep herself.

"Miriam, you're up!" someone called.

"Oh god," she whimpered, composure falling completely away. "What if I fall on my face? This was the most stupid thing I ever signed myself up for and I was in the stamp collectors club as a kid."

Kurt had to laugh at that as he moved up with her to the darkened entrance and exit of the catwalk. The music was louder here, the thump, thump slamming into their chests. "You'll be fine. You won't fall. Just concentrate on Wes. He's on the left side, tenth chair down okay?"

She nodded shakily. "Okay. Okay. I've got this."

And then she was walking out just as Ryan came back from his walk, grinning big and wide and rushing off to change for his next outfit.

Kurt nervously watched her walk, saw the reaction from the crowd, the uproar and almost died from a heart attack because people loved it. Were actually looking at what he had made with admiration and yearning and interest and-

Eight thousand dollars?! Wes must have been out of his ever loving mind!

He wasn't proud enough to deny that he nearly fell the hell over.

He was running on an adrenaline high for the rest of the night; his memory hazing through the rest of the fashion show, the congratulations and praise he received as he walked out on the catwalk himself under the glare of the lights and the flash of the camera's and Blaine ran out with a bouquet of flowers, Hikaru shaking his hand and thanking him the speech he prepared.

There was no time to rest and bask however because next were the Warblers performances as they sang quirky renditions of One Direction's, Best Song Ever, Destiny Child's, Bills Bills Bills and a few classics from Sam Cook and Stevie Wonder to entertain the crowds as they mingled and drank and loosened their pockets even further.

Every last piece of clothing was sold, just like the art pieces and the Valentine's Day album the Warblers have recorded a few months earlier.

Nothing had earned more money than Kurt's dress though and he was oddly proud of himself as he walked through the room and shook hands left and right, accepting compliments and praise for the work well done both on the show and the dress.

Finally though, the chaos and drama came to an end, everyone filtering out to head home and Kurt was hugging his proud and happy farther tightly.

"You did good, kid. Real good," Burt grinned down at him, patting him on the back.

"Thank you," he murmured into his chest knowing that his dad's opinion would forever be the most important one in his life… right up there with Blaine's.

"And your dress!" Carole exclaimed when he finally pulled away. "It was so beautiful, honey."

"It was certainly that," Dana agreed wholeheartedly, eyes twinkling. "I think I have some very serious competition in the fashion world."

"I'd be careful if I were you, Dana. He just might steal your throne with designs like that," a voice came from behind them and they all turned to see Tara and Hikaru making way towards them, happy smiles on their faces.

"I wouldn't mind being overthrown by someone as talented as Kurt, to be honest," Dana said gracefully, but Kurt smiled shyly and clasped her hand, shaking his head.

"I don't think there's anyone in the industry who could overthrow you. Trust me," he demurred, because she was still one of his fashion idols at the end of the day, and she smiled indulgently as she leaned over and kissed his cheek, catching Burt's proud gaze and giving him a small nod.

"Kurt, you did an outstanding job on the event tonight. I'm very proud of the positive light this will shed on Dalton and it's all thanks to you," Hikaru complimented with a bright grin and Kurt ducked his head as his family's hands found their way to his back and shoulders in silent pride and approval.

They all laughed at his sudden modesty when earlier he was barking orders left and right to anyone and everyone. Kurt coloured a lovely shade of puce at the praise, happy when Blaine pulled him into his side.

"I'm so proud of you, lovely you don't even know," Blaine whispered into his ear and Kurt turned into the sound and words and touch, seeking and searching for more, more, more. Feeling drugged from the endorphins the compliments had wrought in him.

"I think it's time to head home guys. I've got an early job tomorrow at Schuester's house," Burt announced offering his arm to Carole who took it with a smile of gratitude.

"I'll call the driver and make sure he's ready for you," Jared said pulling his phone out.

"Let's go collect our coats," Dana suggested leading them off.

"Oh crap," Kurt said suddenly, stopping in his tracks and trying to pull himself away from Blaine.

"What's up?" Blaine asked, tightening his hand on his waist.

"I think I left my folder backstage on one of the tables," he frowned, eyes shooting to his dad and Carole who were pulling their coats on to leave, laughing at something Dana was gesturing. He was torn because apart from the New Year's lunch he hadn't really had the time to visit or talk to them and tonight they were there and he still couldn't spare the time to be with them.

His Dom, however, knew him better than anyone and he realized the inner struggle he was going through.

"Go see them off. I'll grab it for you and meet you back here," Blaine offered, pecking him on the cheek.

When Kurt beamed at him Blaine knew he had said the right thing.

He got an enthusiastic kiss on the lips that made the tiny detour worth it a thousand times over and hurried off, wanting to get back for hopefully more of the same. In the distance he could hear Kurt joking with his parents and he felt a smile tug at his lips when he turned around and saw him leaning into his dad content, smiling and beautiful.

The backstage area was like a ghost town compared to what it was like earlier, discarded items and rubbish strewn all over. He felt sorry for the cleaners.

Glancing about he saw what he wanted, that huge red folder with bits and pieces sticking out of it at all angles. He was surprised Kurt could carry it around it looked so heavy, or that it hadn't fell apart yet it was so overused already!

Striding over he grabbed it… only to have severely underestimated the weight. Jesus! What the hell, Kurt!

The thing went toppling to the ground, narrowly avoiding crushing his toes, papers flying everywhere and Blaine winced and sighed, "Great."

He knelt down and began gathering everything back up, hardly paying attention to what he was stuffing back into the folder until his hand brushed something glossy and smooth. Frowning he looked properly at what was hiding under a spreadsheet of some kind and picked it up, flipping it to face him.

The headline; Is Blaine Having Second Thoughts? screamed out at him with an old picture of himself on the front cover in a beanie and sunglasses, looking glum and haggard.

At first he thought it was an old magazine. It was an old picture after all, he hadn't worn that beanie in about a year now, but it was dated to last week.

Why did Kurt have this?

Feeling something nagging at him he looked back to the open folder and began thumbing through the pages. Most of it was hastily scribbles notes, sketches or purchase orders but then he got to the back and his stomach dropped at what he found.

There was two more magazine with equally awful headlines questioning and belittling his decision to be with Kurt and a bunch of clipped out, highlighted paragraphs from articles online, blogs, newspapers tearing into Kurt, citing his mother had lost her mind and ability as a Dom, heavily insulting Lima and the people there. On the back of every single one was Kurt's name scrawled in the same handwriting and the creases in them told him that they were definitely passed to him as notes, not Kurt gathering them up himself.

They all seemed smoothed out and re-read hundreds of times and he could feel his blood starting to boil under his skin, his heart picking up speed as a mixture of adrenaline and testosterone filled his system.


The cretin that was always hanging around, causing problems for his fellow subs. Nick had told him that he caught him giving Jeff a hard time and he was constantly hearing from Seb how much he hated having the guy in his classes. Classes that Kurt shared with him too.

He knew it was him. And that he was picking on his sub? Hurting him with false words and false information? He was furious enough to want to immediately go and find him and destroy his pathetic ass for doing what he had been doing for a while now, submissive or not.

But there was a deeper, more pressing rage he found simmering inside of him, fueled by the sting of betrayal.

It was the rage of a fooled Dom. The rage of a Dom whose sub deliberately hid things from him, made false promises and effectively put himself in danger willfully.

Oh he was going to deal with Brad, he thought darkly as he got up from his knees and clutched the binder inside his arms, the article clippings tucked safely between dark red covers. But first, he would make sure his sub never disobeyed him like that again and put himself in that kind of danger.

He strode out of the backstage area, whipping the curtain aside forcefully in time to see Kurt waving to his parents and he had never felt more grateful for amazing timing as he did in that moment.

Hands shaking from the thunderstorm inside him and the binder threatening to just break apart under the barely restrained weight of it, he approached his sub who turned at the sound of his steps.

The smile on his face wilted instantly at the sight of the anger and disappointment he knew was plainly written across his tight features and the binder in his hand.

Blue eyes flickered with fear and recognition and the visual conformation of his assumptions was maddening.

"Sir..." Kurt started, voice thin and wary. It was clear he was painfully aware of what was about to happen, but for the first time since he had seen him at the Showing, Blaine didn't feel floored to the ground by those sad blue eyes and that plump, trembling bottom lip.

He felt insane with fear and worry, the emotions twisting his insides into knots as thoughts of what else Kurt had been keeping a secret stormed through his mind, and everything else just fell second to that suffocating panic.

"Don't 'sir' me, Kurt. What is this?" he said pushing the binder in front of his face, the tone in his voice making the sub shiver.

"It's... it's my binder..." he tried lamely but Blaine scoffed angrily at the stalling.

"I can see that. I also dropped it by accident and saw what you've been hiding inside. Is this your way of 'handling things', Kurt?" he waved the binder and Kurt flinched visibly at the reminder of their conversation when this all started.

"I was… I am…" he shook his head trying to clear out the haze that wouldn't let him form a sentence.

"Funny. Because hiding problems in the back of a folder doesn't seem like handling it to me at all," Blaine snapped. "Why didn't you tell me? Why, Kurt?"

The accusation in that hurt. Actually physically made his heart slam against the walls of his chest, making it hard to draw in breath.

No. No. He had his reasons, he just needed to get them out. Blaine just needed to listen.

"I… I wanted to do it on my own... not to bother you..." he tried to explain but Blaine's raised voice and the rage in his eyes made him take a few steps back, feeling very small and young right now.

It was easy to sometimes forget with Blaine because he acted so carefree and childish most of the time, but there was a four year age gap between them and it was never more apparent then now.

He didn't fear Blaine. Not in that sense of fearing getting hurt. But the look in his eyes was scary in itself, the power radiating off of him in heavy waves making him want to kneel and bare his neck and beg for forgiveness.

That reaction sparked his own flame of anger that his physiology was made to bow down to appease Blaine's biologically no matter the situation. He knew Blaine never used it against him on purpose but anger felt like his only shield right now when he felt so open and exposed.

Blaine silently watched Kurt's internal struggle for a few moments while trying to find a thread of calm. He felt like he was burning up.

"What else haven't you told me about, Kurt? What else have you been lying about?" Blaine gritted out after taking a deep breath.

"I haven't been lying!" Kurt yelled back at him, voice shaking and weak, arms curling around his torso protectively. He wasn't lying. He wasn't.

"Keeping this a secret when you told me you'd say if it got out of hand is lying to me. Telling me you were okay every time I asked even though you knew you weren't is lying!" Blaine stressed loudly, on the verge of losing it and shouting. He couldn't remember ever being so out of control.

Kurt opened his mouth but words wouldn't come out as the weight of Blaine's sunk into his skin.

"What else did he do?" Blaine demanded stepping closer.

He could hardly breathe. Black spots were starting to creep into his vision.

"He's been bullying you for a while now. Sending those notes. Harassing you… did he hit you?" Every question was followed by a step forward towards him, bridging the space he had put between them.

"What?! No!" he choked.

"Kurt," his Dom growled.

He swallowed hard, feeling the ghost of fingers on his arm once more, the solid press of the bookshelf behind him. "He shoved me. That's it. I wasn't hurt," he said hastily.

Blaine cursed. "Jesus, Kurt! What happened to trusting me, huh? What happened to promising me that you'd come to me if it got out of hand?"

The guilt was building up brick by brick into a castle built on the foundation of his wrongdoings and they made his excuses seem like pitiful ruins in comparison.

He shook his head in denial. No. No. No. "I had it under contr-"

"This!" He pulled out the crumpled notes and magazines and threw them on the floor between them disgustedly, closely followed by the whole folder. "Is not the definition of under control. Not on any planet, Kurt. Fuck!"

He kicked at the mess on the floor and Kurt felt the hot sting of tears welling in his eyes.

He'd done this, he realized with a sick feeling in his gut. He had reduced this happy, kind, generous Dom to this angry, shell of a person.

"Blaine, honey, is everything okay?" Dana peeked through the door, breaking into the tense atmosphere, but Blaine raised a hand to stop her.

"Not now, mom. You and dad can go. I'll take Kurt in my car," he ground out and she realized it wasn't her place to meddle so she gave Kurt an encouraging, fortifying nod and slipped through the door.

"Get your coat on, we're going home," Blaine commanded when she was out of earshot and Kurt jumped at the order, pulling his coat on, sniffing back his tears and trailing after Blaine in silence that seemed to weigh a tonne on his shoulders as they got in, fastened their seatbelts and peeled off the parking lot.

The car ride was complete and stifling silence, reminding Kurt very much of how he felt the first time he'd ever gotten in a car with Blaine. Devastated, fearful, inconsolable. All for different reasons now of course but still the same bleak, ragged spectrum of emotions cutting him up inside.

From the side of him Blaine fumed and the pheromones rolling off of his skin threatened to choke him with their power in that confined space.

He welcomed the fresh air when they finally got home but he knew his relief would be short lived when Blaine slammed the door after them shut and led him up the stairs, passed their bedroom and into his study.

"Sit down," he ordered tersely and Kurt folded himself into the leather chair as if mowed down. This was excruciating, he felt like a single touch would shatter him with how tense he was sitting.

"I told you it would be a worse punishment if you lied to me again, Kurt," Blaine said, in the same hated calm voice. No inflection. Just command.

He slapped a notepad on the desk and a pen and Kurt flinched, swallowing hard passed the heart in his throat.

"One hundred lines. No talking. No stopping. I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again. Start now," he said, pushing the pen towards him and turning towards the second chair in the room to settle and wait.

"Blaine-" Kurt started but he knew it was futile.

"One hundred and ten lines," Blaine interrupted.

"But..." he tried again for reasons he himself didn't know. He just wanted this cold, unforgiving creature gone and replaced with his loving Dom again; warm and comforting and safe.

"One hundred and twenty, Kurt, don't make this harder on yourself," Blaine cut back and Kurt started at him for a moment, tears welling again as he wished those eyes to twinkle and those laugh lines to hug them, but his Blaine was gone for the moment and he knew he was the one to blame for it.

Maybe that was the hardest thing to swallow about the whole situation.

He looked searchingly at his Dom's face for a moment more desperate to find something familiar on that blank, pinched profile but he found none. Blaine was sitting on the chair in the corner, eyes shuttered and distant, face hard and his hands flipping the pages of a random book Kurt knew he wasn't actually reading. His shoulders were tense and drawn up and the posture of his body gave away just how angry and affected by it all he still really was.

"I can't hear you writing, Kurt. Ten more sentences and start now," his voice rang, icy and biting into the chasm separating them and Kurt winced, fingers closing around the metal pen on instinct as he pushed it across the paper and wrote the line for the first time.

I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.

He didn't lie.

He just withheld certain information because he wanted to be strong for himself. There wasn't anything wrong with wanting that. He didn't want to be the scared little boy who cried himself into a panic attack when he was claimed. Who freaked when his Dom was gone for more than five minutes. He didn't want to be the sub who clung to his Dom for protection from everything on this Earth.

He didn't want to be every nasty thing people were saying about him.

The richest thing Kurt had ever owned back in Lima was his identity and he felt like people were constantly trying to box him up. Make assumptions. He was a gold digger. He was Lima trash. He was a prissy virgin, a whore, a con artist. The list went on and on and he just wanted to prove them wrong.

He was so used to standing up for himself alone. Of retreating back behind his walls to protect himself when he was being attacked like that.

I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.

He pressed the pen harder into the paper, grinding his back teeth.

And who was Blaine to get so angry at him anyway when he was the one that said he loved his fierceness? That he admired his strength and the fact that he refused to just roll over and be stepped on? He was such a hypocrite! But thinking that didn't ring true and made him feel even worse for being so willfully spiteful.

I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.

He stared at the last words of that sentence, finally, truly reading it instead of just following the orders set down automatically.

He understood where Blaine was coming from. Sure Blaine could help him if he were in real danger, but this thing with Brad was something he was sure he could handle on his own.

I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.
I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.
I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.

The lines kept going, one after the other, reinforcing each word and branding it in him.

Denial was a fickle friend.

He did lie.

It slammed into him like a blow to the head and made him dizzy.

Maybe it was omitting, hiding instead of outright lying to his face but Blaine was right. He'd knew what he was doing when he had hid those magazine for god knows what reason. He'd known what he was doing when he failed to mention every single instance Brad stepped over the line.

He did say he would tell Blaine if it got out of hand and... well... words turned into very real bruises on his skin and that sure looked like getting out of hand.

So maybe he didn't need Blaine's protection all the time but he did promise he would tell and he broke that promise...

So maybe... maybe he did deserve the cold stare and the harsh words.

The tears finally fell, hot and fast down his cheeks and he bit his lips to keep from making a sound and kept writing.

I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.
I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.
I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.

His hand started cramping a bit as he filled line after line on the paper with the same words that slowly started sinking in... into his mind, into his skin, into his heart...

The bruise on his upper arm started stinging purely because he thought about it and he slowly began to understand that he shouldn't have gotten bruised in the first place. He shouldn't have been brought to the verge of tears time and time again.

He shouldn't have been forced to doubt the love of the man who sat in the corner stiffly, so hurt and betrayed by his actions. As he concentrated Kurt could still feel the thrum of his pheromones in the air... possessive, protective, nurturing.

Blaine only wanted the best for him. That's all he ever wanted and Kurt had snubbed all of that. Taken it for granted.

He shouldn't have been hurt.

He shouldn't have been scared.

And he wouldn't be any of those things if he hadn't broken his promise to Blaine.

I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.
I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.
I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.
I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.

I will not lie to my Dom and get myself hurt again.

The lines bore into his mind like a beacon, scaring and burning his skin and he felt his eyes glass over. Tiny droplets fell onto the paper and smudged the lines he had managed to finish and he pulled the sleeve of his shirt down to soak them in before he had to start over.

He continued like that getting more and more remorseful with every shaky press of ink, miserable with guilt as everything came into focus for him. He wasn't alone anymore, he was part of a partnership and he'd just cut Blaine out and broke their contract and trust all in one fell swoop just because he was stubborn and blinded by his insecurities- one's that were still very much plaguing him even now.

He didn't even know how to start saying sorry.

One hundred and thirty lines.

He had counted them twice to make sure he didn't make another mistake but the tears made it so hard to focus and he kept miscounting, having to back again and again and again to make sure he did everything as Blaine said. The submissive in him, now very much in control of his instincts and amplifying his raw emotions, was demanding perfection from him.

He wanted to do good.

He wanted so, so badly to do good this time around. Make Blaine happy again.

God, it was no wonder Blaine didn't love him when he failed at everything he did. He wasn't a good sub and he wasn't a good person and he just wanted to apologize and promise he'd do better.

He lowered the pen back onto the table and resisted the urge to stretch his fingers and relieve the tension in them. He didn't deserve the relief it would bring so he kept them flexed and aching, balled into a tight fist.

He chanced a glance up and found Blaine staring intently at the book in his lap, the distant look on his face telling him that his Dom was somewhere else entirely in his mind and he hoped against hope that he wasn't trying to think of ways to leave him. Deciding that this was too much for him.

Panic was making him crazy.

Please don't go. I love you. I love you.

He stood up as quietly as he could manage, crossing the short distance between them carefully, tears slipping down his cheeks as the pull towards his Dom strengthened as he approached.

He got within reach of him in mere seconds but to him each and every one of them felt a year long as he reached out to touch him. In a moment of fear he clutched the hand back to his chest shaking his head and blinking away the wetness.

Was he allowed to touch him again? Was he forgiven? Would he ever be forgiven and held and kissed by Blaine again?

The sub in him had him whimpering at the thought. He felt shivers rake through his body and in the surge of that submissiveness that was riding him his knees gave out and he fell to the floor in front of him, head bowed and eyes stinging.

"Sir," he choked out and immediately the huge book was closed, those amber eyes were on him and they were warm again... caring again... hands were cupping his wet cheeks... his scent was wrapping around him as if he were worthy of it.

He was there again.

"My beautiful boy. Don't cry. I never want to see you cry," Blaine's voice sounded from a distance but he felt it as it tickled his skin and he shivered, shuffling closer involuntarily, wanting, no needing, it.

"Sir I'm sorry. I... I made a mistake and I'm so sorry..." he choked through his sobs and the next thing he knew arms were wrapping around his waist and he was hauled off the floor and into his Dom's lap where he instinctively curled up, starved for Blaine and the safety and affection he provided.

"I know you are," Blaine whispered, kissing his temple repeatedly. "I know, lovely."

"I didn't mean to lie, I swear," he pleaded with him to understand, clutching at his dress shirt collar and burying his face under Blaine's chin to reach the soothing space underneath, desperate for it. "Please."

Blaine petted his hair. "Shh," he hushed him. "You don't have to apologize anymore, baby. You understood what you did right? Why I punished you?"

Kurt nodded frantically, his tears wetting both their skin. "I b-broke our contract and our agreement," he whispered brokenly. "I lied to you and got myself hurt, sir. I r-really didn't mean to. I'm sorry-"

"Hey, hey," he hushed him again, holder him closer and tighter. "That's why the punishment was there, lovely. It's over now. We move on from this," Blaine told him but Kurt still felt wretched. There was no wave of cleansing. No peace to find in the tangled thorns of his mind.

"Do we...do we move on t-together?" he whispered his fears and felt Blaine flinch under him at the question.

"Kurt... lovely oh my god...of course we move on together. You're mine baby. Always mine. Tell me you know that?" he pleaded into his hair, voice desperate and hurting. He hated that they were back to this when they'd come so far.

"I... I just...he said you didn't... they all say…" he started but he couldn't say it. Didn't want to admit to the foolish weakness of letting what other people said dictate how he acted. Admit that he had unconsciously or consciously been seeking that sort of validation.

How could he say that Brad and all those anonymous writers made him believe he wasn't wanted or loved by his own Dom when everything inside him screamed the truth he feared to accept?

"He said what?" Blaine asked, seeing and cutting to the heart of the matter. Brad was the instigator in all this. Brad was the 'he' that had brought all the 'they'.

Kurt looked down into his lap knowing he had to answer, his fingers stressing and pulling agitatedly at Blaine's shirt still.

"He said you'd grow tired of me and t-the fact that I don't... um... p-put out. Said you d-don't really want me..." he hiccupped the words out, finally calming down now that he was in his Dom's arms but not quite there yet, feeling Blaine tense more and more as he went on.

He lifted his eyes at the gasp coming from Blaine, pulling back from his safe little nook to meet his amber gaze.

Blaine held it unrelenting and fierce as he span the words in his head, trying to find a way to reassure his sub without showing how absolutely ready he was to murder that little shit.

He was filling Kurt's head with stupid ideas, making him doubt himself and what they were working towards together, he made him insecure and scared and questioning everything that was supposed to be obvious for him.

But... somewhere deep down, Blaine knew that it was his fault Kurt had room to doubt. There was a space in him that he had failed to fill with the words that hung heavy and silent between them and instead, words more sinister than his own filled that space.

"Did you believe what he said to you?" he asked sadly and Kurt flushed and tried to talk his way out of it.

"No sir...no I...I know you're not like that and that you care and want to keep me safe and I believe that in my heart... just..." Kurt ranted, freaked out and sorry he had made Blaine sad.

"Just what, lovely?" Blaine asked gently eyes widening when Kurt picked up his rant like he never stopped talking, words rushed and twining around each other, fast and explosive and desperate to find their way out now that they saw an opportunity.

"Sometimes... sometimes words hit too close to home," he said quietly averting his eyes to stare at Blaine's chin instead. "You're an, Anderson. Powerful, desired, gorgeous... and I'm... I'm the exact opposite of that and people see that and the words hurt me. They make me wonder and, sir... deep down I know you're mine and I'm yours and that you have no interest in ditching me and that maybe someday you'll maybe even start loving me but then-"

"I already do!" Blaine said cutting into his frantic ramble and Kurt clapped his mouth shut, eyes bugged out and shocked, heart stuttering to a stall.

He felt the world tip on its axis and fall into the sun.

"What?" he stammered and Blaine took his hand into his own knowing he wouldn't get a moment more perfect than this to say what he had wanted to say. Yes it could have been more romantic. Yes it could have been better. But it was never more important.

He braced himself and looked at his sub who sat there, gaping like a cute, flustered little goldfish.

"I do love you. I have loved you since the moment I saw you," he said sincerely, his whole heart in his words and he hoped to god it showed and silence fell over them for minutes that ticked by... loud and painfully slow as Blaine waited for a reaction. Any reaction other than shock.

"Y-you... um... you l-love me?" Kurt finally stuttered out, eyes blown wide and hopeful and Blaine wanted to kick himself in the throat for not telling him sooner.

"I do, lovely. I've loved you since the moment I first laid eyes on you and I'll love you until the very last one," he said passionately, thumbing his cheekbones gently and watching as his skin grew pinker and warmer, his eyes glinted and his smile, that beautiful, beautiful smile, stretched his perfect lips.

"Sir," he breathed out hand shaking where he pressed his trembling fingers over his lips in surprise. "Sir I... I love you too."

Blaine couldn't stop himself from diving into a frantic, urgent kiss and he felt like everything they had been, everything they had the potential to become was all wrapped up in that one perfect meeting of lips.

They still had a lot to sort through, but Blaine felt like they were invincible in that moment as he stood up, their lips still locked, and carried Kurt into their bedroom.

And there we are!
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