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.

It was easier to process what the Warblers had done to Blaine when Kurt didn't think about Blaine himself.

Given the circumstances, it was almost impossible to divorce the two: Blaine's involvement and Kurt's present dilemma were inherently inter-connected. If Kurt had been slushied, then he might have been able to forgive the Warblers more easily, but Kurt had barely seen the Big Quench cup before Blaine had shoved him aside and shielded him from it. Kurt had been helpless to stop the Warblers because he hadn't known what they had been planning, and the awareness that the Warblers must have premeditated the act made Kurt's blood boil.

Worse, they hadn't had a change of heart once they had realized that their plan had backfired. They hadn't come to Blaine's aid and, with the exception of Nick, they hadn't even looked back once they had turned and walked away, close on Sebastian's heels.

As far as Kurt was concerned, they were all equally responsible. Sebastian stood out as the instigator, but the Warblers' betrayal of Blaine's trust went deeper than merely allowing the act to happen.

Kurt might have forgiven them if they had stayed and helped him. He might have forgiven him if someone, anyone, had stopped Sebastian.

But he couldn't forgive them from walking away from Blaine when Blaine had needed them most.

So he didn't focus on Blaine. He focused on the slushy and Sebastian and what options were left to him.

Vengeance appealed to him in more ways than one. Sebastian deserved to be punished, and one punch didn't carry the same weight as a rock-salt laced slushy, regardless of how satisfying it had been to watch Sebastian reel for a change. More importantly, Blaine deserved to be avenged: the stress of missing almost two weeks of school was already catching up to him, and the eye surgery and emergency room visits alone constituted at least a formal trial for Sebastian. If nothing else, Kurt wanted the Warblers to understand how much pain that they had put Blaine through and how much he hated them as a result.

Blaine had always spoken highly of the Warblers, and Kurt had known that the Warblers had been a close-knit family, ready to defend and protect each other if need be. They had learned from each other and formed close friendships over the years. At a time, they had been almost inseparable: Kurt had struggled initially to find Blaine at times without a small pack of Warblers sprawled on couches or seated around the same table as he was, smiling invitingly at Kurt every time, even if he had needed to pull up a chair to make room. Yet even Blaine's endless praise about his friends had quieted after half a dozen of the seniors had graduated at their previous year's end. Blaine had been hopeful about their replacements and Kurt hadn't known enough about Sebastian's nature until they met at the Lima Bean to worry.

Until the Jackson-off, the Warblers had become a part of their past. Blaine had been acclimating to the New Directions, and Kurt had been doing his best to keep Sebastian from flirting with his boyfriend. In spite of his evident guilt that he had unintentionally tipped the Warblers off to the New Directions' plans to sing Michael Jackson at regionals, Blaine had proposed the sing-off and followed through magnificently. Kurt had been so distracted with the way Blaine's, Artie's, and Santana's voices danced around each other that he hadn't been warier about the Warblers' troubled, even grim expressions.

And then it had been too late.

Drawing in a deep breath, Kurt focused his thoughts on the immediate present, tucking his emotions aside.

The Anderson house was quiet, but Kurt was used to the silence, and often it was a nice contrast to the chaos of his own home. With Blaine asleep at his side, his thoughts wandered freely, his fingers brushing over the soft fabric covering Blaine's shoulder blades. Blaine had his cheek pressed against Kurt's stomach, his arms wrapped around his waist and his fingers curled loosely in Kurt's red button-down. The warmth that swelled in Kurt's chest at the sight of him, relaxed and comfortable, made his heart beat seem louder, a more regular staccato that seemed to fill the silence.

Mine, mine, mine, it sang as Blaine shimmied closer. Mine, mine, mine.

He felt hyper-aware of his own existence and how fundamentally important it was that he keep Blaine safe. Blaine had been hurt because of him, and even though Kurt knew in some rational corner of his mind that Blaine would never, never blame him for being defenseless in that split-second, he couldn't help but blame himself.

Vying for a more productive use of his time than dwelling on that, Kurt focused on what he needed to do to put his grief, his anger, and his guilt at rest. Spending the afternoon at Blaine's left him with ample time to think about what he had done, and regret was already threatening to crowd out his initial certainty that he had to forgive the Warblers in order to breathe again.

He had already texted Trent to tell him that if he wanted to prove where the Warblers' true loyalty lied, then he should meet him at three-thirty on Wednesday in McKinley's auditorium. Any Warblers that wanted to express the same sentiment should also be in attendance. Sebastian could come, too, but he wasn't required. Kurt had already said everything that he had wanted to say to Sebastian; everything else was merely supplementary.

You have to press charges, a small voice insisted. He quieted it by running his fingers through Blaine's hair, over and over, a soothing, mindless rhythm that almost put him to sleep, too. But he didn't sleep because he couldn't avoid reality forever, pleasant though dreams could be. Someone had to take charge of the situation, and Blaine wasn't coherent enough to.

What would you do? Kurt mused, and it struck him then that maybe he wasn't acting in the way that Blaine would want him to. Blaine had admitted that he still felt guilty about running from his problems back at his old public school. Was Kurt running from his problems? Was he accepting defeat because it was easier and less painful than pressing charges like Santana wanted him to, like the Glee club wanted him to?

They hadn't been thrilled when he'd explained his plan. He couldn't say that he blamed them. It was crazy: singing couldn't solve all their problems, contrary to Mr. Schuester's beliefs, yet that was exactly what Kurt had proposed during Glee club rehearsal that morning while Mr. Schuester was away at a board meeting. The Warblers had controlled the Bad sing-off, from start to finish. If the New Directions could show the Warblers that they weren't intimidated by what they had done, then maybe they could move past what had happened that night and learn how to stifle their anger instead of feeding it.

They could let it go.

Kurt's left hand clenched into a fist at the thought, his right hand resting against the back of Blaine's neck. As if in response to his stillness, Blaine shuffled closer to him in his sleep, trying unconsciously to protect him. Not wanting to wake him - he couldn't bear to wake him, not when he knew that he had resigned himself to all but forgiving the Warblers - Kurt brushed his fingers over his shoulder slowly to placate him and Blaine settled, going limp at his side once more.

He wasn't forgiving the Warblers. He was choosing to ignore what they had done to Blaine and giving the New Directions permission to move forward instead of dwelling on their rage. He was telling everyone to let it go.

Yet it felt like forgiveness, and forgiveness ignited the rage in him, the restless desire to grab each of them by the shoulders and shake them until they understood that what they had done was wrong.

Slushying Blaine was wrong. Tampering with a slushy so that it almost blinded him was even worse. And walking away from Blaine when he was screaming in pain because of what they had done?

That was unforgivable.

But Kurt didn't know what else he could do. The police weren't interested in getting involved without evidence, and the last pieces of evidence from the slushy had been washed down the drain at the hospital. The emergency room staff hadn't known to collect any samples at the time, nor had they been particularly interested in doing so when their primary objective had been to irrigate Blaine's eyes. Kurt hadn't known to test the slushy mix, either, crippled by his worry for Blaine and his horror at the turn of events. Even so, Kurt couldn't blame them for the unwitting mistake, not for one moment, because he would gladly have given up everything rather than leave Blaine in pain for any longer than he had to be.

Which left the only other evidence that they had: the recording.

"How did you get this?" Kurt asked softly, dazed, amazed, leaning back against the closest desk and staring at Santana.

"I taped it to my underboob," Santana replied -

- as if it wasn't the most damning thing that she could have said to him.

The police wouldn't care about illegally confiscated evidence. And from what little Kurt knew of the legal system, he knew that privately recorded conversations against a person's will - without a person's explicit permission - were illegal.

The tape was useless.

They had nothing. Eye witnesses, certainly, but Kurt knew how well pressing charges on good faith alone went: the police would see what they wanted to see. None of the New Directions had actually seen Sebastian put rock salt into the slushy. Only Sebastian's admission in private verified what they had all known: the slushy had been tampered with. No normal slushy could cause that much damage.

But circumstantial evidence - no normal slushy could cause that much damage - could be twisted. Slushies hurt. They burned, and it was entirely possible that a normal slushy could cause some damage. Not a scratched cornea, perhaps, but damage.

The police would see what they wanted to see. And if Dalton's headmaster had chosen to ignore the Warblers' actions off school grounds and beyond normal school hours, then Kurt doubted that the police would be any more useful.

It was a dead end.

And Kurt hated it with every fiber of his being.

He wanted Sebastian to stand trial, to suffer the consequences, to finally understand that bullying was not okay, in any capacity. He wanted Sebastian far, far away from Blaine. He wanted Sebastian expelled, locked up, forced to struggle in a world that didn't cater to his every whim for a change.

You can't let it go, the same small voice whispered. You can't let him get away with this.

He wouldn't. He would never forgive Sebastian because Sebastian had meant to hurt him, and instead he had hurt Blaine. He could never forgive him.

But he would have to let him go or risk his sanity in the pursuit of an unlikely outcome.

This isn't what Blaine would want.

Kurt closed his eyes because he knew that Blaine wouldn't be happy about it. Kurt was letting the Warblers off the hook; he was letting Blaine's friends off the hook.

Former friends.

Kurt didn't know how Blaine felt about them anymore, but Kurt knew that he was dreading being in the same auditorium with them, sickened by the thought of having to look at them and not scream.

Blaine wouldn't let this go, Kurt knew, stroking over Blaine's shoulder. Not if he knew.

Another emotion threatened to overwhelm his anxiety, frustration, and anger: fear. How would Blaine react once he learned that the New Directions had opted for the most passive form of vengeance possible?

We've got your back, dude.

Kurt closed his eyes and tried to remember how to breathe evenly because he didn't want to disturb Blaine's sleep, but he could barely contain the surge of guilt that flooded him. Above all, he wanted to do the right thing. He wanted Blaine to feel safe and protected with the New Directions. He didn't want him to feel like the New Directions were powerless to help him, yet that was exactly how Kurt felt.

They were powerless.

They were completely and utterly powerless.


They couldn't fight Sebastian the way that Kurt wanted to, but they could refuse to be bested by him.

Kurt would get up on that stage and he wouldn't run from them. He wouldn't scream at them, but he wouldn't turn his back on them, either.

He would show them that he wasn't afraid, that he didn't care, and maybe then he could begin to move on.

He couldn't forgive. He couldn't forget either. But maybe he could move on. Maybe he could let it go.

Running his fingers gently down Blaine's side, Kurt held him close and willed the world away for a while.

He didn't know when he slipped into sleep, only that it came upon him gently, a merciful relief from his thoughts.

. o .

"Thank you."

Two words, and suddenly Kurt was more tense than he had been for the entire performance. Turning away from Trent, shoulders tense and arms folded across his chest, he said quietly, "This isn't me forgiving you." He was grateful that his voice didn't shake. He wasn't sure how he would have responded if it had.

"Kurt - " Nick began, stepping forward, and Kurt remembered standing outside the Warbler's hall with Jeff and him barely a year ago and he saw red because these were supposed to be Blaine's friends, his rage and sorrow reaching a new peak.

Swallowing, he struggled to come up with an appropriate response, back turned to both of them. At last, not moving an inch, he deadpanned, "I have absolutely nothing to say to you."

It took a moment, their breaths held, before they melted away into the shadows, leaving Kurt alone.

Kurt waited a moment before letting out his breath heavily, slumping with barely contained relief.

It was over. It was over.

He never needed to see the Warblers again, if he didn't want to; at competitions, perhaps, but not in person, not personally. He'd paid his dues.

It was over.

Sensing his change in mood - and it had been easy for Kurt, surprisingly so, to forget his ire and just sing, to throw everything that Sebastian had used to hurt him back in his face - Finn approached him cautiously, resting a hand on his shoulder and giving it a squeeze. "Are you okay?" he asked.

Kurt swallowed again and forced himself to nod, ignoring the emotions clumping in his throat. "I'm fine, Finn," he dismissed calmly, sweeping out from under his hand.

Thankfully, Sebastian was already gone, as were most of the New Directions, so he didn't have to face them, too, as he exited the auditorium.

Maybe it was easier to forget their animosity in song, but the real rift between them was still impossible to discuss openly, and most of the Warblers had disappeared as soon as the number was over.

Only a few stragglers had remained. Nick, Trent. A pair of Warblers Kurt didn't recognize, and another, lingering near the shadows, uncertain where his trust could be placed.

Kurt felt sick with the responsibility of it all. He didn't want to have to forgive them. He didn't want to have to act like they hadn't hurt him, like he should somehow be responsible for their guilt and lessening it.

They hadn't cared about Blaine's pain. They hadn't tried to lessen it.

Kurt clenched his fingers into fists at his sides and forced himself to keep walking.

When he reached his Navigator in the parking lot, he sank into the driver's seat, locked the doors, and pressed his fists to his eyes.

Sometimes taking the high road was really, really hard.

And sometimes it was almost impossible.

But he had done it - and it struck him with a wonder that resembled agony because he had done it - and slowly, he was able to breathe again.

. o .

"You seem thoughtful," Blaine acknowledged, sipping from his medium drip and nudging Kurt's foot with his own as

"Hm?" Kurt glanced up at him, distracted, not missing the way that Blaine smiled as he took another sip from his coffee as if to say, See? This is what I mean.

Kurt shrugged apologetically. He hadn't meant to let his thoughts wander, but it had almost become a habit whenever Blaine greeted him with, "We should totally sing a duet about socks."

Thankfully, Kurt's exposure to Brittany for years had accustomed him to bizarre conversational leaps (and equally interesting transitional omissions), which meant that he was ready for such curve balls as a passionate discussion about how Godzilla was the best dinosaur monster ever or how Kurt should totally sing Grace Kelly sometime. (Kurt wasn't even opposed to the latter, but the lack of obvious transition made him wonder vaguely if he was being compared to a giant man-eating dinosaur, in which case, he couldn't tell if it was a compliment or an unintended insult.)

Still, Blaine seemed a little more lucid this afternoon, and Kurt almost felt bad for losing track of the conversation. They were seated across from each other on Blaine's bed, Kurt cross-legged and Blaine with one leg angled and the other resting comfortably so that his foot was pressed against Kurt's hip. It was nice to be so close to him, even if the guilt pressing down on Kurt felt even more oppressive when it would have been so easy to tell him the truth.

"Kurt?" Blaine asked, worry seeping into his tone and making his smile fade a little as he reached out to rest a hand over Kurt's on the bed. "You know you can tell me anything, right?"

"Even when you're high on medication?" Kurt asked wryly. He was grateful that it sounded light, as though nothing were bothering him, even if the truth couldn't be farther from it. I didn't fight for you. I didn't make Sebastian answer for his crime. I let it go, Blaine, and I don't think I should have.

But he still couldn't see an alternative, and it was suffocating, trying to keep all of his emotions locked neatly away from Blaine. He didn't want to upset him, but hiding from him felt almost unbearable.

He wanted to tell Blaine what was wrong, but he couldn't, not when Blaine already had enough stress on his plate - Kurt could see the growing pile of papers in the corner that were undoubtedly assignments that he had been working on for school during his more sober moments - without the added complications of trying to forgive Kurt for what he'd done while Blaine had been helpless to stop him.

Scrunching up his nose indignantly, nonplussed by Kurt's silence, Blaine tapped his hip with his foot lightly. "I'm not high. Tell me what's bothering you," he insisted, shuffling around so he could sit cross-legged across from Kurt.

Kurt sighed, staring at their hands instead of Blaine's face. "I don't want to upset you," he said honestly. Even that little bit of honesty stung.

"You won't." The immediate, utter certainty in Blaine's voice made Kurt's chest tighten because he knew that it wasn't true and betraying Blaine's trust hurt. He was supposed to make things better and he hadn't. If anything, he had made them worse. Things couldn't get better. Sebastian wouldn't be punished, the Warblers wouldn't change, and everything would stay the same. The New Directions would eventually simmer down and move on (they never championed any particular cause for long since a new disaster was liable to strike at any time), but Kurt wouldn't.

And Blaine wouldn't, either.

Burdening Blaine with that knowledge seemed unnecessarily cruel while he was still recovering from eye surgery, and so Kurt shook his head and squeezed Blaine's hand gently instead. "It's nothing," he assured. "I'm just having a bad day."

Blaine frowned, tugging on his hand until Kurt looked up and met his gaze - a one-eyed, earnest stare that almost made Kurt give in. Blaine would understand. He always understood. He wouldn't be mad if Kurt explained it, if he just said the right thing, explained it the right way -

"I wish I could kiss it better," Blaine admitted, pouting.

Kurt was about to sigh and tell him that kisses couldn't solve everything, but he checked himself, focusing his attention fully on Blaine for the first time all afternoon. Blaine's shoulders were slumped against the headboard in a way that Kurt knew had nothing to do with fatigue even if his fingers curled laxly in the blanket. He looked - exhausted, somehow, but earnest, so earnest, and Kurt knew then that he wanted to be able to help, he wanted to be able to let Kurt vent as he needed to and explain everything and unwind, but he was also struggling to keep focused long enough on the conversation to do more than commiserate.

Uncrossing his legs, Kurt shuffled over to him and leaned close enough to kiss, holding back just enough to savor the way Blaine's eye widened with surprise. "Who says you can't?" he asked, leaning in the rest of the way to kiss him.

Blaine relaxed into the kiss and Kurt did the same, eyelids sliding shut as he cupped Blaine's cheek, holding him steady. Warm hands latched onto the back of his shirt and Kurt smiled a little as he pulled back, Blaine making a soft, needy noise against his mouth as he tugged on his shirt.

"No, no, don't go," he begged, sitting up so he could kiss him again, meeting him halfway. Kurt let him, too pleased to resist, and eased him back against the headboard after a moment. On the cusp of a whine, Blaine relaxed when Kurt kissed him again, fingers twisting in his shirt when Kurt trailed kisses along his jaw, savoring him, comforting him and needing comfort from him and taking a warm, easy pleasure from the way Blaine melted underneath him.

"Your kisses taste like coffee," Blaine mused a time later, his good eye was closed, head bobbing in a thoughtful nod as he licked his lips and smiled. "Definitely coffee."

"You're rambling, honey," Kurt reminded. Unworried, Blaine nestled closer to him and Kurt kissed his temple, his own heart rate slow and even.

Mine, mine, mine, he thought.

"I miss getting coffee with you," Blaine said, voice slurring around the edges.

"I miss getting coffee with you, too," Kurt admitted, and it felt better, at least, to say that much. "It's lonelier without you."

Blaine yawned. "How embarrassed would you be to be seen with me in public with an eye patch?" he asked thickly, voice heavy with sleep.

"Not at all," Kurt said. It was true. He wanted to get back to their routine, and his snappishness in Glee club hadn't been entirely due to Sebastian and the Warblers. He missed Blaine. He missed having a boyfriend that he could hold hands with during Glee club and kiss between classes and sneakily hug back stage while they waited for Rachel to wrap up one of her showstoppers. He missed having someone to sit with at lunch, to sing with during Glee club rehearsal, to help him organize college applications after school.

He missed Blaine.

But, in another week or so, Blaine could experiment without the eye patch on. And soon he would be back in classes and catching up on all his schoolwork and available for all of their normal routines.


Blaine hummed, and it surprised Kurt that he was still awake, his breathing already even and soft. "I promise to take you out to coffee as much as you want," he murmured, the sincerity in his voice making Kurt smile.

"I still have your promise ring, you know," Kurt reminded him softly, and he could feel Blaine's smile against his side. "I'll hold you to it."

"Good," was all Blaine said, drifting back to sleep.

Kurt didn't move at first, intertwining his fingers with Blaine's and rubbing his thumb slowly over his knuckles, back and forth, wondering what it would be like if Blaine had a ring, too, someday.

He smiled at the thought, and when he got home that night the first thing he did was dig out the promise ring that Blaine had given him.

Maybe Blaine wouldn't be happy when Kurt told him, but he wouldn't hate him, either.

I had to, he thought, and it became a mantra, because it was all he had.

I had to, I had to, I had to -

. o .

"Kurt. Kurt. Kurt."

Kurt snapped out of his daze at Rachel's words, frowning when she rolled her eyes at him from farther down the counter. "What?" he asked, dumping a packet of sugar into his coffee and tearing open a second. An insistent Rachel Berry was the last person that he was prepared to deal with early on a Thursday morning, and despite his good mood after seeing Blaine, he'd still fallen into a restless sleep and gotten far few hours than he'd wanted. Coffee was his one and only godsend that morning, it seemed; at least it didn't judge or nag him.

"Rachel, not now," he said, reaching for a third packet of sugar before she stopped him. Which, admittedly, was probably a good idea.

He didn't even know why she had accompanied him for coffee, except -

"What's this?" he asked, frowning when she passed a small paper bag across the table to him.

"It's for you," she explained, failing to hide a smile as she added, "from your secret admirer."

Kurt eyed her as he unrolled the bag and plucked a handwritten note from the top.

All it said was: What's mine is yours. :)

Underneath it was a single heart-shaped cookie.

At first Kurt didn't know what to make of it before the gears in his brain slowly started turning again and he recalled the heart-shaped cookie that he had given Blaine barely a week ago.

Which meant that Valentine's day was less than a week away.

He couldn't stop the smile from forming on his lips as he re-read the note and glanced back at the cookie.

"Thank you," he told Rachel, and he meant it as he looked across the table at Rachel who beamed back at him, her job done. "This is - " So sweet, incredibly thoughtful, just what I needed - "perfect," he settled on.

"It was his idea," Rachel confided, and Kurt couldn't stop smiling as he pulled the cookie out of the bag.

What's mine is yours.

"Thank you," he repeated, and Rachel leaned over to pat his arm before standing up.

"I have to meet Finn," she said apologetically, but Kurt merely waved a hand in acquiescence. He didn't mind it when she left, leaving him and his heart-shaped cookie alone.

Scooping it into his bag, he lingered for a moment, torn between staying and possibly getting some work done and visiting his so-called secret admirer.

In the end, the choice was easy.

. o .

"Skipping class again?" Blaine teased as soon as he saw Kurt enter. Blaine had migrated to the couch downstairs for a change of scenery; since he could stand to be off the painkillers for a few hours, he wasn't as drowsy, and he perked up when Kurt looked over at him, smiling.

Kurt looked better; less anxious, maybe. That was good. He seemed surprised to find Blaine, but his expression remained neutral as he approached.

"Mr. Schue's out of town at a meeting for the weekend; Glee club practice was cancelled," Kurt dismissed, setting his bag beside the couch and looking at Blaine sternly. "You lied to me," he said, folding his arms over his chest.

Blaine opened his mouth to respond, immediately running through the most recent things that he'd said to Kurt that could be misconstrued as lies.

At last, he said tentatively, "I'm sorry?"

"You told me you were terrible at romance," Kurt reminded.

Blaine blinked stupidly at him for a moment, about to ask him what he meant by that before Kurt held up a note and it clicked. Smiling shyly, he looked down at his own feet, twisting them a little as he said, "Terrible is a strong word."

Kurt hummed, sitting down on his legs and leaning over to give him a kiss. "How are you feeling?" he asked, reaching up to brush his thumb over his cheek. "You look better."

"I feel better," Blaine said, grinning at him. "So you . . . liked it?" he asked, reaching over to run his fingers up and down Kurt's sides lightly.

Kurt hummed, deliberately drawing it out until Blaine said, "Kurt."

"I loved it," Kurt assured, climbing off his legs and smiling at him. "That was very thoughtful of you. How'd you get Rachel to play along?"

Blaine shrugged. "She was surprisingly easy to persuade," he said. Then, tilting his head to look at Kurt, he added, "You didn't think I'd forget, did you?"

"Of course not," Kurt said, leveling him a look that clearly said, You're crazy if you think I thought you would remember.

Blaine pouted.

"I wouldn't forget Valentine's Day," he insisted.

"Uh huuuh."

"Sugar texted me," Blaine added before Kurt could argue further. One of Kurt's eyebrows arched as he sat back down, occupying the space beside Blaine and looking at him inquisitively. "She invited me to her Valentine's day party."

"Hopefully not as her date," Kurt said, and Blaine could hear the slightly higher pitch of his voice that expressed how affronted he would be if Blaine had even thought about it.

"I told her that I'd think about it," Blaine explained quickly, eliciting a thoughtful hm from Kurt. "Did she send you an invite?"

Kurt nodded, waving a hand. "I don't know if I'll go, though," he admitted. "I don't want to be the only single there on Valentine's day."

Blaine hummed, understanding that. Then, connecting the dots, he added, "Is that why you've been so worried this week?"

"Worried about what?" Kurt asked, frowning.

"You've just been . . . " Blaine struggled to put it into words. "Different," he settled on. "Quiet. Ever since the surgery."

Kurt stayed silent for a moment, and Blaine recognized the shift in his expression that meant that he was bracing for a lengthy, perhaps even witty explanation as to why he had been moodier lately. But, softly, he interrupted, "Please don't lie to me."

Kurt deflated.

"Hey," Blaine said, shuffling over so he could sit next to him instead of adjacently. "It's okay. Whatever it is, I won't be mad."

Kurt bit his lip before letting out a slow sigh and saying, "It's kind of a long story."

"I've got time," Blaine reminded him.

"Sebastian . . . put rock salt in the slushy," Kurt began, very slowly, and Blaine blinked once, reaching up to rub at his eye patch a little before dropping his hand.

He reached up again, then, and his fingers were shaking, and Kurt's arms were around him without hesitation, a soft shh, shh, somewhere between them.

"Oh," he said. He could almost feel his eye burning with the phantom pain, except that was real and he just didn't notice it because he took the medications, he did, but all they did was suppress it. "I'm - sorry, I - "

"It's okay," Kurt assured, rubbing his back slowly. "It's okay. I'd freak out, too. I mean, I did freak out. I'm pretty sure Santana was the only thing keeping me from dragging Sebastian's sorry ass to a tattoo parlor for a tramp stamp."

A startled laugh escaped Blaine at the thought, even though it was a little muffled by Kurt's shoulder. "What?"

"It's kind of a long story," Kurt said again, apologetically, before delving into it.

Blaine listened, unable to keep from wincing when Kurt explained that he'd given Sebastian back the tape. He swallowed back his initial, Kurt, because it wasn't Kurt's fault, it wasn't Kurt's fault. Kurt hadn't thrown the slushy at him. Kurt hadn't orchestrated that night. Kurt hadn't chosen Santana's means for collecting evidence, if it could even be called that when Kurt himself hadn't known what Santana was planning.

It wasn't Kurt's fault. It was different.

I'm sorry, Mr. Anderson, but there's nothing we can do.

There were no eye witnesses. Your own account indicates that you don't know who it was that attacked you.

We can't expel them without conclusive evidence.

Blaine felt sick. God, he felt sick, but Kurt's arms were still around him, and he wasn't speaking any more, which was good, because Blaine needed a moment to process what he'd even said after I gave him back the tape.

At last, slowly, he nodded, not lifting his head from Kurt's shoulder. "I believe you," he said, and it hurt, but Kurt was there and he could feel the tension easing out of Kurt's shoulders as he said it, which made him feel better. Kurt needed to say it, and he needed to hear it, even if it hurt. "I - I don't understand it all yet," he admitted, an understatement, and a rather drastic one, because the Warblers were his friends and maybe Kurt had just been too panicked to notice them trying to help out or yelling at Sebastian. Maybe Kurt hadn't noticed. That was possible, wasn't it?

"I'm sorry," Kurt said softly.

Blaine squeezed his good eye shut and shook his head. "It's okay," he insisted. "It's okay."

Kurt held onto him long after the initial wave of surprise and fear and horror had passed, rocking them gently, patient and soothing. He held onto him long after Blaine knew his classes had started back at McKinley, his breath soft and even overhead.

He held onto him until at last Blaine was able to lift his head and say, "You were worth it."

Kurt's mouth twisted into a frown, but Blaine insisted, "You were worth it, Kurt. You are worth it." Pulling away so he could look at him properly, he said simply, "You're okay. That's all that matters to me."

And it was. Blaine was surprised at just how little Sebastian, the Warblers - any of it mattered by comparison. Kurt was okay. He'd kept Kurt from harm, and that was good enough for him.

"I wish you were," Kurt said softly, reaching up to brush his cheek underneath his eye patch.

Blaine tilted his head to kiss his fingertips, murmuring, "I would feel much better if you agreed to stay with me and cuddle."

Kurt smiled a little at that, his relief palpable. "I can do that," he agreed softly, and it was the simplest thing in the world, then, to settle into Kurt's arms, knowing that whatever happened, he would be safe.

They both would.

Sebastian doesn't mean anything to me.

Blaine wrapped his arms around Kurt's waist, then, and held him back just as tightly.

"I love you," he said simply.

"I love you, too," Kurt replied, kissing the top of his head.

It's okay, Blaine thought, both eyes closed. It's okay. It's -

. o .

This is a disaster.

Kurt had been hopeful about going to Sugar's party - mostly because his secret admirer had been sending him cute things all week - only to find out that his supposed cutie was not his cutie at all.

He felt bad for hurting David's feeling, but he also felt off-kilter, as though he couldn't tell where he was going or what he was supposed to do next. Blaine wasn't at Sugar's party, and Kurt had lived to see his nightmare come true: yet again, he was single on Valentine's day.

Well. Not really, but it was still difficult to watch Santana and Brittany cozying up to each other, Finn and Rachel doing the same in another corner, knowing that Blaine was probably alone at home asleep.

He pulled his phone out to text him, hesitating before deleting the message without sending it. He wanted to see Blaine, but he also knew that Blaine needed to take care of himself. Blaine had stopped wearing the eye patch two days ago, and while his eye had still looked red and painful the first day, he'd already looked more like himself by the end of the second. Still, it was hopelessly optimistic to think that Blaine would actually be at Sugar's party - he'd already apologetically told Kurt that he wasn't sure about it, and Kurt had assumed that that was that until his secret admirer asked to meet him at the party.

Pocketing his phone again and shifting so he could slide out of the chair to leave, he was about to get up when Sugar took the mic. Waiting until she made her announcement - the last thing he wanted was to draw attention to himself - he frowned at the words, "Cute and compact as ever!"

Last he knew, Sugar was dating Artie, who was hardly cute and compact, and it was in that moment that Kurt looked at the far end of the room and saw a very familiar silhouette emerge from the shadows -

. o .

- and Blaine was absolutely positive that it was Kurt's smile and Kurt's smile alone that lit up the entire room.

"Happy Valentine's day, everyone," he greeted, addressing every word to Kurt as he tore off the heart-shaped eye patch. "This one's to all the lovers in the room."

. o .

There would always be bullies in the world, and there would always be Sebastians, but that night was all theirs, and Blaine never once let Kurt out of his sight.

"I don't know how I feel about them," Blaine admitted as they sat beside each other in one of the booths, when Kurt asked him how he was handling it all a time later. He had been quiet, and Kurt knew that it wasn't all completely resolved. Blaine still seemed uncertain about letting the charges drop, and even less sure how to react to his friends' betrayal, but he had trusted Kurt, and that made a difference in his overall outlook. "But," he added, leaning forward so he could whisper it in Kurt's ear, "I know exactly how I feel about you."

Kurt grinned and let his arms loop around Blaine's neck as he leaned in for a kiss, because kisses couldn't solve every problem, but sometimes, they didn't need to.