Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or any of its characters; Ryan Murphy and Co. hold that honor. I'm simply writing this for fun, not profit.

5x04 reaction fic. Klaine fluff. What-you-missed plot filler. Discussions of Klaine's plans in New York and general coziness a la Skype. Enjoy!

"I don't know, he just seems a little over the top," Kurt explains, making a frustrated gesture with a hand as he carries the laptop around in one arm. Blaine purses his lips thoughtfully at him, still scrubbing industriously at one blonde eyebrow with a towel before Kurt points out acerbically, "You really shouldn't dye your hair; you'll ruin the roots."

"It's Gaga week," Blaine explains with a put-upon sigh. "Participation is mandatory and I'd look more stupid not to."

Somehow Kurt doubts it, but Blaine is already setting his towel aside and asking, "So, tell me more about this 'Starstruck' guy –"

"Starchild," Kurt corrects automatically, carrying the laptop back to his room.

At least he's managed to convince the girls not to use it as a second lounge anymore. Between the locks and carefully placed delicates designed to deter spontaneous visits, he's managed to convince them to stay away.

Setting his laptop on the bed, he flits around the room, skirting the piles of possible outfits that he's arranged for the next week on the floor and focusing instead on keeping Blaine in eyesight.

He only partially succeeds, a forlorn "Kurt?" greeting him as he riffles silently through one of his drawers.

"Sorry!" He shimmies out of his shirt and tosses it to the side, pulling on a downy gray one in its place and returning back into view. "He just comes across as a little too theatrical, you know?"

Blaine nods in understanding, frowning intently as he scrubs at one blonde-tinted brow. "Uh huh," he agrees. "Edgy can be good, but it's also a risk."

"Exactly." Kurt wishes he could make a more emphatic gesture via Skype to stress how important it is that he doesn't fall into the trap of misfit-choir again, but he settles for a hand wave instead as he shuffles around looking for a comfier part of pants. Glee club was fun and he won't deny that being a part of the New Directions was one of the defining experiences of his life, but it wasn't all positive and he can't afford to let his adult life – his career – succumb to the pitfalls of small-town ambitions.

Edgy could be good, but it could also mean ostracism and further abandonment in the long term. Exotic that never caught was mere taboo; the last thing he wanted was to run a haphazard collection of rejects.

It's just a band, he reminds himself, even as Blaine makes a slightly alarmed noise behind him before letting out a quiet, frustrated, "Dammit."

"Here," he says, reflexively approaching the screen as though he can reach through it and take the cloth from Blaine's scrubbing fingers. He pauses, realizing with an ache that he can't ignore in his gut that they're still apart, and he meets Blaine's supplicatory gaze with an encouraging smile. "Just . . . let me show you," he insists, holding up his hands in a universally accepted hold on gesture before darting over to his vanity and returning with some mutually compatible hair-washing products.

"Just dab some on it – you don't need to soak it," he explains patiently, even though Blaine is giving him that disgruntled, Kurt Sue put cement in my hairgel and it isn't coming out look before obliging with a new hand cloth. "Rub in circles," he adds, swiping over his own eyebrows.

Blaine watches him dubiously for a few moments before reaching up and mimicking the gesture. The blonde dye proves unrelenting at first, resisting him even when he scrubs harder. "Blaine," Kurt warns, gentling his hand without moving an inch as Blaine slows the motions, working through the hairs quietly.

"You know, if he's too edgy, you don't have to let him in," Blaine points out a time later, left eyebrow mostly hazelnut again. If possible, he looks even more comical, hair mostly loose and eyebrows ranging from dusty brown to full blown blonde. "It's your band."

"I'm taking lessons about what's 'too edgy' from the same man that thought it would be a good idea to dye his eyebrows blonde," Kurt reminds.

Blaine grunts. "It was Sam's idea."

Kurt closes his eyes, still folded in a lotus position on the bed. "Whoever's idea it was, you should have consulted me first. God forbid you ever do something permanent."

"It's Gaga week," Blaine retorts, wounded, as he looks at Kurt with sad eyes. "And, let's face it: if we don't have Katy and Gaga, we don't have anything."

"What does that even mean?" Kurt asks, partially out of genuine interest, partially just to humor him.

Blaine, however – being Blaine – takes it in full stride, settling back in his chair in front of the vanity and saying slowly, "We need something to band to. Gaga versus Katy week is . . . just like that. A way to bond. Not everything about high school has to be about our future," he says, returning to his right eyebrow intently.

"Not everything," Kurt concedes evenly, keeping his tone non-confrontational. The implication in his words can't be missed, however, and he watches from the corner of his eye as Blaine pointedly keeps his attention focused on his eyebrows and not the camera itself. "Have you heard back from anywhere yet?" he asks.

Blaine doesn't say anything for a time, still working on his eyebrows. "I didn't get into Tisch," he says.

Kurt nods, both to express his non-surprise and sympathy. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Blaine sighs, a certain forlorn, aching note in his voice resonating with Kurt.

If I don't get into a school in New York, then . . .

He would never say it, but Kurt knew it was there, an open threat. I won't go to college. Not if it keeps me away from you.

He has a million and one alternative plans, including but not limited to joining Kurt's band and living in the loft with them on his parent's generosity until he has enough cumulative wages to contribute his own rent. Or get a job at any number of places and work odd hours to keep up with the demands of New York. There's always something, and Kurt knows that Blaine won't let anything detract from his ultimate goal.

I have to be with you.

It's sweet, really, but Kurt's terrified of the implication. They broke up because they couldn't stand to be apart; the idea that Blaine's future might rest on Kurt's residence in New York was both a stomach-flutteringly good thing and an incredibly intimidating one.

All Kurt wanted was for him to be happy. If his happiness coincided with living in New York and putting off college for a year – a couple years, even – then Kurt wouldn't be the one to deter him.

But he couldn't, in good conscience, support it, either.

"Have you heard back from NYU yet?" he asks, hoping to take away from that familiarly thoughtful look on Blaine's face that speaks too closely of melancholy for Kurt's comfort. "You know they're fairly late to respond."

"I know," Blaine says, suspiciously unresponsive as he continues to dab at his eyebrows, at last setting the cotton cloth aside and meeting Kurt's gaze directly. Even pixelated, it's powerful: Kurt finds himself sitting on the edge of the bed again to look at him, waiting for an explanation.

"You know I'm . . . happy if I don't get in anywhere, right?" Blaine begins, almost as if he needs to reassure Kurt that, inevitably, he won't be accepted into any of the nine colleges he applied to. At least, none within New York itself – a far more possible reality, Kurt has to concede, with only four of those on the market and one out of the running already. But he wants to see Blaine get into the college of his dreams – even if it has been modified slightly to include the perimeters Kurt has been unmoving on (I have to go to New York. I have to go to New York).

Blaine smiles at him, almost as if he can read Kurt's thoughts, and even dressed up in his dorky, unbelievably ridiculous Lady Gaga outfit, he still manages to be charming. Kurt finds himself smiling helplessly back as Blaine adds, "I think I might actually make it into NYU. But NYADA's still . . . a tossup."

Which is code for extremely unlikely to happen, because Kurt knows that auditions are closing and, to his surprise, Blaine isn't particularly invested in booking one. He knows that he'll have to compile an even more detailed portfolio to have any chance against the generational applicants, but it seems more like a vague proposition rather than a pressing reality. For someone so organized, it's an inexplicable lapse of attention: Kurt can't help but wonder if NYADA was never his intention at all.

"I want to go to New York," Blaine assured him, half a dozen times, when he asked if he was really pursuing what he wanted and not merely following Kurt to New York because he wanted to be with Kurt (back when they were young and foolish and in love in a way that spring birds will be until winter comes and suddenly it's much harder to adapt and the whole world just seems like a cold and big and lonely place until spring comes again).

They'll have to adjust. There won't be any room for uncompromising attitudes, even with Rachel around. Even she's been oddly subdued lately, refusing to bicker or lose her temper half as often, and Kurt can't help but attribute it to Finn's passing.

It aches in him, a gut-deep, soul-splintering pain of a whole suddenly, overwhelmingly fractured. It doesn't take much to break the world down, when push comes to shove: all it needs is an ice-breaker, something to change the tone of normalcy, and the whole world will fall to its knees.

"You okay?" Blaine asks, drawing his attention back to the present.

Kurt shakes his head, offering a faint smile as he says, "Fine." Then, folding himself more comfortably on the bed, finally attired in a pair of black yoga pants, he asks, "So, tell me more about this Gaga versus Katy thing."

To his credit, Blaine doesn't even blush. "It was Mr. Schuester's idea to begin with," he starts, but it's immediately apparent to Kurt that Schuester isn't even the half of it. There's Jake who's trying to impress Marley and Sam trying to impress some new nurse named Penny and Becky who's been acting surprisingly bitchy lately and Sue Sylvester about to knock heads together and, of course, Artie and Tina just trying to make things work without having a meltdown.

He can honestly sympathize with the exasperation bleeding into Blaine's tone as he slowly rubs a cleansing cream over his face, mostly to get rid of the awful powdery make up caked onto it for the Gaga number. Everything about his obscene getup was for the Gaga number which he (perhaps wisely) refused to talk about beforehand.

Kurt had taken a deep breath before accepting Blaine's call via Skype that night, knowing that he would have his first look at the monstrosity.

The damage had somehow exceeded his expectations and placated his fears. Important assets were still covered (although Kurt had reservations that Blaine's ass wasn't on full display in those pants), and overall, while it was flashy, it was somehow less flamboyant than he had nervously been anticipating. It was different, and it wasn't something he would ever personally nudge Blaine to wear, but it fit the theme and he couldn't criticize it any more than Blaine already had.

"At least it's just one week," he'd remarked, already setting into divesting himself of the wig so he looked a little more like Blaine, seated in the chair in his radiantly green vest.

". . . and it sort of all just snowballed from there," he finishes, clearly unconcerned with Kurt's lack of attention as he smiles at the screen a little. Kurt offers a smile in return and waits, letting him speak. "We're on suspension for a week –"

"You're what?"

"Principal Sue," Blaine sighs, sounding irritated but not inspired as he usually does. Kurt frowns, wondering why Blaine isn't presenting a fifty-point list of reasons why it is illegal for Coach – Principal Sylvester to put the Glee club members on suspension. Instead, he looks miffed but resigned, settling back in the chair with a nod. "She says our 'attire' violates school dress codes and we're not allowed to wear anything like this again." He makes an airy gesture at himself.

Kurt frowns, folding his legs more comfortably underneath himself. "She can't do that."

"We were violating the dress code," Blaine points out, nodding in an I know you're right but this isn't my battle sort of way.

And that's the difference, really. Before, all Blaine could talk about were his plans for the future, the clubs that he was involved in, his resume, his career. As much as Kurt rambled on and on about New York, Blaine answered questions promptly about his own plans, eager to share.

To see him suddenly, overwhelmingly disinterested surprises Kurt. As he watches Blaine stand and step out of the frame, he can hear him shimmying out of the silver pants and resists the temptation to tell him that he doesn't need to step out of the frame to do so. He still does: it's a vulnerability that resonates, a privacy that resists change.

Maybe someday they'll be comfortable enough to walk around their apartment bare-ass naked with each other, but the analogy reminds Kurt far too much of the Brody days, and he shudders at the thought.

"I can't be that hideous," Blaine puffs as he returns into view moments later, decked out in his usual checkered pajamas and flopping into the seat with a pout.

"You don't," Kurt assures, struggling not to stare at his hair because it always surprises him when Blaine lets him see it in any state of un-gelled any more. "Are you okay?" he asks, suddenly, and Blaine – stills, a quietness descending over him that Kurt might not have noticed before but notices now. He feels his heart sink until Blaine licks his lips and, instead of dismissing it, speaks slowly.

"It's hard. Being away from you. I'm looking forward to graduation every day at this point," he admits, looking down at his hands. "I want to . . . be in New York. To be a part of that." His throat thickens with it and Kurt can't help but reach out, instinctively, for keys instead of fingertips, the disappointment heavy in his heart. He misses Blaine's fingers, warm and soft underneath his own, so easily caressed and kissed and held.

"I guess I'm just – not as into McKinley as I used to be," Blaine admits, leaning back in his chair and looking at Kurt with such an open, honest expression that Kurt can't help but lean back against the headboard of his own bed, adjusting his legs and resting his laptop on top of them.

"I know what you mean," he says, and he can see the slightly wry, slightly pained smile that crosses Blaine's lips, then. They were so young, then, and it surprises Kurt how old he feels, already more than halfway through his first semester at NYADA while Blaine is still just a senior in high school.

Once, Blaine felt like the most knowledgeable person in the world, charming, articulate, good-natured. Kurt has seen the other sides to him, since, but it's still the same earnestness as before.

Santana calls them heart-eyes. Kurt can't exactly disagree.

"You'll be here soon," he promises, and he says it without reservations, knowing that Rachel and Santana will have to adjust but they'll adjust, nonetheless. Until Blaine and he are able to find an affordable apartment of their own – a tall order in New York, even in the most contagiously criminal neighborhoods on the market – then they'll just have to learn to live with each other.

It'll disrupt their order, sure, and he can see the remorse in Blaine's eyes already, the shine that tells him that he doesn't want to overturn anyone's routine, but Kurt just smiles back, in that reassuring, we all have to make compromises way that doesn't allow for doubt.

Slowly, Blaine's smile returns in full, a watery edge to it as he looks aside and applies a final layer of moisturizing cream to his skin. "You never told me," he remarks, lathering his cheeks in rhythmic circles, "why you wanted to start a band."

"I wanted to do something different," Kurt says simply, and it's true. Ever since he saw Adam's success with the Apples, he's wanted his own group, his own people that he can call on and draw on for support. NYADA is too cutthroat to feel a musical camaraderie with its residents; it doesn't surprise him that most of the extra-curriculars involve some form of performance. It takes the edge off, providing a circle of closely-knit companions that, while perhaps ambivalent or even hostile on the surface, can grow to benefit from and even enjoy each other's company.

Mostly he's just wanted friends outside of Rachel and Santana, and while he won't admit that he's disappointed that only one applicant showed up, he isn't shy to say, "I'm just not sure about his vibe."

"Starchild's?" Blaine prompts, and Kurt nods in response, letting out his breath slowly as he leans back a little more.

"I know it's petty –"

"It's not."

"To worry about being overshadowed in my own band," Kurt continues, smoothing over Blaine's assurances easily. "But he's just . . . amazing, Blaine. We're not compatible," he adds, very quietly, and he sees something cross Blaine's face, then, something unreadable, something unspoken.

They've always wondered how their careers would play out. While Blaine wonders if he'll even get into one of New York's theatrical colleges, Kurt doesn't know if his own entrance into NYADA will have any long term effects. Rachel's audition for Fanny Bryce in Funny Girl turned out unexpectedly positive; Kurt doesn't anticipate his own first formal audition will end half as well. Dozens of auditions, perhaps, may pass before he's accepted as an understudy to a minor character, a living prop for a scene.

He shudders to think of being in his late twenties and still adrift, late thirties.

The band is a safety net – a small one, but an investment, at least, something in his control – and Starchild can't take that away from him.

He can't.

But Starchild can belt and fill a room, whereas Kurt can barely make himself heard in a small choir room among the awkward, unseasoned voices of a handful of tenors. It's a painful reality that he didn't want to face, and he knows Santana doesn't buy into his lies (he's just not our type).

He's edgy. But edgy's the excuse. He could be trained, tamed, modified however Kurt wants, he suspects. The gleam of desire in his eyes had been genuine; there was no mistaking that Starchild really wanted to be a part of Kurt's band, for whatever reason, and he wasn't unwilling to compromise to do it. Far from it.

"I just want everything to work out," he says at last, simply, and Blaine nods in understanding, rubbing the cream lightly against his skin.

"I know what you mean," he echoes, and reaches up with a fresh towel to rub off his face, picking up his laptop gingerly when he's done and carrying it over to the bed with him. It takes a few moments for him to get comfortable but then he's mirroring Kurt's posture almost exactly, smiling down at him wryly for a moment before sobering. "It's your choice, Kurt."

"I know." Kurt lets out a soft sigh and shuffles under the blankets as he hears the soft, hushing noise of rain on the walls beyond, a steady drizzle. "I just want to make the right choice for a change."

"You always do," Blaine assures, again mimicking his movements as he, too, crawls under the blankets. "Are you happy with everything else?"

Kurt laughs, a soft, squeaky sound that bubbles out of his chest against his will. He doesn't mean to laugh because he knows it's a serious question, but somehow the implication that everything could be well in his life is absurd.

Nothing will ever be perfect, Blaine.

But, calming down, he realizes that Blaine didn't ask about his state of well-ness at all. He asked about his happiness.

He ponders it for a moment, giving it the serious consideration that it deserves, before nodding slowly. "I bought a new scarf the other day that matches perfectly with this leather jacket I've been dying to use," he elaborates, and it's Blaine's turn to laugh, equally soft but full.

"I love you so much," he breathes, once the silence has settled between them a little more, the hushing echo of rain only audible on Kurt's side. Kurt wonders what quiet noises keep Blaine awake at night, belatedly amending that it's probably the silence more than the noise. Ohio is quiet – always visibly motionless after a certain hour, lights dimmed and homes filled – but New York moves with a constant, irrepressible energy. The difference is stark but comforting: Kurt enjoys the contrast, a firm reminder that his life has changed and, he hopes, dramatically for the better.

"I love you, too," he says, because he does, and he indulges himself by kissing his fingertips and pressing them to the screen, smiling uncontrollably when Blaine mimics the gesture on the other side.

"I could just stay up with you all night," Blaine remarks, a lusty, airy tone that bespeaks the freedom of a person whom the world has been kind to. Maybe not perfectly so, but kind enough; they have each other and that's enough for both of them. It seems amazing to Kurt that he can be valued so much by one person that he's seen as the catch. He wasn't kidding when he told Rachel that he didn't feel that way, through gestures and silences rather than petty, flimsy words.

Blaine sees right through that, though, and doesn't judge him, just like Kurt sees underneath the crazy array of Gaga hair and Katy Perry makeup to see Blaine underneath it all.

He's still the same person that invited him to coffee and then insisted on picking up the bill while Kurt stared, star-struck. He's still the same person that would twirl him and hug him and kiss him over the course of six months of pure ecstatic joy, a honeymoon phase in their relationship that Kurt doesn't think he'll ever forget. And he's ultimately the same person who worked to regain Kurt's trust, pushing gently but not forcing Kurt's hand, baring his soul and holding back nothing in the pursuit of their lost love, in the passionate forging of something new, something different and imperfect and somehow, inexplicably, better.

Looking at him, seeing the tiny smile on his lips, Kurt can almost see him across the bed asleep, back to him, trusting and vulnerable, caught in the throes of his own exhaustion briefly while Kurt succumbs to his own desire to just breathe and hold on and not let his thoughts overwhelm him. That had been a confusing time for both of them: Kurt never knowing where to draw the line and Blaine dancing around him, so careful, so careful not to cross it, wherever Kurt aligned it. He struggled and stammered and almost mis-stepped, but he never pushed, and that was what made Kurt hold him, that night, while Schuester's botched wedding reception carried on obliviously below.

"You look tired," he croons, then, as he looks at the screen intently, Blaine's head drooping a little on his hand, threatening to tip his chin onto his chest. "You should sleep, honey."

Blaine nods agreeably, shuffling a little lower under the blankets, careful to keep the laptop with him, hugging it a little as though it can reveal its secrets that way. "You're not . . . weirded out?"

"No," Kurt says, truthfully, because he's seen Blaine vulnerable and open and his, and he knows the difference between that person – the one he fell in love with, ultimately – and show Blaine. One dresses to impress every morning, arriving immaculate at school and providing a helpful sound board for everyone that approaches, refusing to be selfish if he can help it and instead sending out his talents to help as many people as possible. That Blaine that lives and thrives on performance occasionally overworks himself, spreading himself too thin over too many causes, retreating back to his staples to recover.

But this Blaine is different, soft and tender. He lets Kurt see him with his hair gel-free and his cheek pressed sleepily to a pillow, eyes closed. He lets Kurt watch him as he gives up the fight against consciousness and falls asleep, snoring softly, the exhaustion lines relaxing in his face.

It takes every ounce of will power Kurt has to say, "Honey. Blaine. Wake up, sweetheart."

Blaine obliges, slowly, as though he can't quite understand why Kurt would want to wake him when the alternative is so much lovelier, but comprehension dons on him quickly enough and he hastens to apologize, voice already throatier than before. "I'm so sorry, Kurt, I didn't even –"

"It's okay," Kurt reassures, amused, and offers him another soft smile. "Go back to sleep. We'll talk in the morning."

Blaine smiles at that, almost like it is their joke, and adds, "Love you."

"Love you," Kurt echoes, telling him, "Don't forget to close the window, B."

It takes Blaine a moment, sleep-hazed brain struggling to make connections it isn't conscious enough to give before he hums and adds, "Good night," before gently pressing the end call button.

"Good night," Kurt replies, doing the same and setting his laptop down, breathing out for a moment and closing his eyes.

It takes longer for him to summon the will power to move, finishing routines and turning off lights before crawling under the covers again. All he wants is for everything to work out, but he knows it isn't that easy, and any of a dozen possibilities could go wrong.

But he also knows that something must have worked out very right if Blaine and he are still together. Even as he presses his thumb against the engagement ring still resting snugly over his left ring finger, he can't help but smile to himself at the dazzling nature of it.

I'm engaged, he thinks, thoughts running together as he adds, In less than a year, Blaine will be here with me. We'll be living in New York together.

He drifts off to sleep with fond thoughts of Blaine warm in his arms flooding his mind, his subconscious sparing little note for the perpetual oddities of Starchild's interest in his band or Schuester's obsession with strange assignments.

In the long run, none of that matters, he muses.

His last thought before consciousness slips away completely is simple, Because I have him.