Blaine paused at the doorstep of Burt and Carole’s house, curling his gloved fingers tightly around the edges of his mother’s third-best casserole dish — the one with the flowers that she wouldn't care if she ever saw again — and drawing in a lungful of cold air. This was weird. It was weird, wasn’t it? Because he certainly couldn't say that he wanted to be there, but he did want to make sure that Burt was okay, and what was more, he’d made a promise, one that he wasn’t going to break just because things were different. Again.
He rang the bell.
It was a relief when Carole answered, with her bright smile and her seemingly effortless ability to make his ruffled feathers feel a bit smoother. She exclaimed over the casserole, asked him cheerfully about school, and pointed him in the direction of the living room. “He’ll be so glad to see you, honey,” she added, giving his shoulder a squeeze.
He found Burt, as usual, propped up in his recliner, watching a sports talk show. It was refreshingly normal, especially considering that the last time Blaine had seen Burt was when he was still in the hospital recovering from the surgery to remove his prostate. Kurt had been there too, giving Blaine a strained but sincere smile from the other side of the bed.
Now, it was just Burt. The knit afghan over his lap seemed out of place, but other than that, he looked no worse for the wear. And, just as Carole had predicted, his face lit up when he saw Blaine. “Hey! How are ya, kid? Have a seat. They’re gonna talk about the Buckeyes game soon.”
“I’m fine,” Blaine replied, perching uneasily on the edge of the couch, still in his jacket. “But what about you? You look well.”
Burt huffed out a little laugh. “I’ll spare you the gritty details, but I’m gonna be just fine. Still on track to be back in Washington in a couplea weeks.”
“I’m happy to hear it,” Blaine said, his smile small but real, because he was.
Just then, the sportscasters started talking about OSU, and Burt ticked the volume up a notch or two. He didn’t just listen — he nodded when he agreed, snorted when he didn’t, and shot commentary at Blaine: wouldn't know good defense if it bit 'em in the ass and would ya listen to these clowns? Blaine tried to follow along, but the effort was feeble. He spent most of his energy keeping his eyes from flicking to the places in the room where he knew there were pictures of Kurt — above the television, the shelves in the corner, the side table.
When the segment ended, Burt lowered the volume again and turned to face him. “All right, kid, what’s eatin’ ya?” he asked bluntly.
Blaine startled. “What? Oh, nothing. I just — have a really busy day, and I should probably —”
“Don’t give me that,” Burt interrupted. “You look like someone just ran over your dog.”
“It’s nothing,” Blaine said, dropping his eyes again and twisting his lips into an approximation of a smile. “I’ll be fine.”
“Is it school?”
Burt’s voice took on a gentler tone when he asked “Kurt?” and Blaine got the distinct impression that he’d known all along.
He sighed and blurted it out: “Tina told me that he’s seeing someone new.”
Even though he’d already known, Blaine’s heart sank a little further. “I know I don’t have any right to be upset,” he said. “I know that. We’re not together, and we haven’t been for months. I’m not angry. I guess it still just… stings.”
There was a little silence, long enough for Blaine to realize just how foolish he was being. He and Kurt had just barely started talking to each other again; it was ridiculous to have any expectations about waiting for a far-distant future. And now he was crying to his ex-boyfriend’s father about his ex-boyfriend’s new boyfriend? When Burt was probably glad that Kurt was happy again? He should just —
“I bet he doesn’t last two months,” Burt said, his voice cutting across Blaine’s panicky thoughts.
“Adam. The new guy. Kurt told me all about him, and I bet he doesn’t last two months.” Burt solemnly extended his hand.
Blaine eyed it mistrustfully. “But… he’s older. And he’s… there.”
Burt shrugged. “If you’re too scared to put your money where your mouth is, you can just say so. Or maybe you’re just tired of losing.”
Blaine’s eyebrows knitted. They didn’t bet about things like this. Their bets were frivolous — which brooch would Kurt pick and how long would it take him to choose, and would he even know whether it was football or baseball season. It had all started innocently enough on a hot June morning during that first glorious summer, when everything was new and exciting, vibrant in the sunlight and close under the stars at night. Blaine had stopped in early one afternoon to pick Kurt up, and while he’d waited, he’d made an offhand comment that the weather was so warm that it might finally force Kurt to wear a pair of shorts. Burt had just chuckled wryly and said, “I bet he’s still wearing a scarf.”
And he’d been right. It had been a thin scarf, and it wasn’t wrapped tightly around Kurt’s neck, but it was there.
After that, it was just a game they played every now and again. It clearly wasn’t Kurt’s favorite, but he went along with an eyeroll and a purse of his lips because he understood without having to be told that bonding with Burt warmed some of the cold corners in Blaine’s heart. But Kurt had always been there. He’d always known. And it had never been about something serious.
Blaine looked up into Burt’s face, which was open and concerned and showed a hint of a challenge. Maybe Burt was just trying to make him feel better, he reasoned, and the last thing he wanted was to be rude and petulant in rejecting his kindness. “Ten dollars says it’ll be more than two months,” he said slowly, giving Burt’s hand a tentative shake.
“Okay,” Burt said.
“Okay,” Blaine returned, feeling some of the tension drain out of his shoulders.
“You’re wrong, but okay.”
“Pay up, Anderson.”
The words — familiar though they may have been — made Blaine jump in surprise and straighten up from where he’d been trying to reshuffle his books in his satchel. “Burt! What are you doing here? I thought you were back in Washington.”
“Constituent work week,” Burt replied, rocking back on his heels and tilting the brim of his cap up slightly.
“What’s that?” Blaine asked, pinning a polite smile onto his face and turning to shove his math textbook into the bag, determined not to give away how rattled he was. He'd pulled himself together as quickly as he could after the last time he'd seen Burt, throwing himself hard into school and the Cheerios and time with his friends until, suddenly, he'd realized that he was actually forgetting himself and having fun. Unfortunately, it hadn't been as easy to do the same since Valentine's Day, and seeing Kurt's father only brought the memories right back to the forefront.
“A fancy Congress word for taking a week off to go home.” Burt grinned. “But we do have meetings and talk to people about what’s goin’ on.”
Blaine shouldered his bookbag. “But what are you doing here?” he asked, glancing around the backstage area of McKinley’s auditorium, where the members of New Directions were packing up and trundling into jackets after a long rehearsal. They’d been reinstated into the Regionals competition the previous week, which left them barely a month to get ready — and thankfully, unlike some previous choir directors, Finn was determined to be prepared ahead of time.
“I’m just droppin’ off the keys for Finn’s car. He’s been havin’ radiator trouble so I had it in the shop today.”
“Ah,” Blaine said, untwisting the strap of his satchel.
“And then I saw you over here, and I thought it would probably be a good time to collect my debts.”
Blaine quirked an eyebrow up. “Your debts?”
Burt nodded, looking entirely too pleased with himself. “The last time I was home, I seem to recall making a little wager about a certain new guy in New York. Who is now old news.”
Blaine’s heart did a funny little flip in his chest, but he tamped the feeling down at once. “They broke up?”
“Mmhmm. Kurt didn’t tell you?”
“I, uh — I guess I haven’t talked to him much lately. Just some text messages,” he admitted. “I overheard Tina on the phone with him a few days ago, and I thought maybe… but I wasn’t sure.”
“Well, be sure. Seems like Kurt had a change of heart… starting a coupela weeks ago?” Burt gave Blaine a penetrating look, and Blaine squirmed, thinking of Mr. Schuester’s wedding — of a slow dance and a fight and a hairs breadth of a kiss, over before it started. He remembered Kurt striding away from him purposefully (again), and he wondered, not for the first time, just how much Burt knew.
“Well, be that as it may, he didn’t tell me about it,” Blaine said, setting his jaw as the realization hit home: regardless of what had happened on Valentine's Day, Kurt hadn’t seen any good reason to let Blaine know that he was unattached again. Apparently, it was all just a mistake.
Burt was still watching him. “I bet you’ll hear from him sooner than you think.”
“Oh, you bet?” Blaine asked, forcing a chuckle.
“Double or nothing?”
“I just heard from him yesterday,” Blaine pointed out. It was the third short, perfunctory text message he'd gotten since the wedding: Finn told me you got a solo for Regionals. Congrats. It only served to confuse Blaine more. It meant that Kurt wasn’t not talking to him, but it didn’t mean that Kurt was talking to him either. At the very least, he wasn’t talking to him any differently than he would talk to Brittany or Artie.
Burt snorted. “You know what I mean.”
Blaine did, but this time, he wasn't at all sure that Burt was right. Moreover, he wasn't sure if he wanted Burt to be right. Logically, he had to admit that it might be the right time for both of them to just move on — but deep in his heart, he knew that he'd always want to hear from Kurt. “Okay, okay. Well, I think that maybe Kurt and I might start talking again this summer, if he’s at home at all. Which he probably won’t be, so maybe next year? When I’m there?”
With a chuckle, Burt extended his hand. “You make this too easy, kid.”
“I guess we’ll see,” Blaine said, shaking it firmly.
“So, I hear you’ve got your NYADA audition coming up soon,” Burt commented.
Blaine sucked in a deep breath through his nose, his smile straining even further. He’d been close to canceling the audition altogether more than once since January. His dreams of a future at NYADA were too tangled up with his dreams of a future with Kurt, and he was having a terrible time unpicking the knots to figure out if it was something that he wanted for himself. In the end, he’d decided to keep the appointment, at least in the spirit of leaving his options as open as possible. “Yes. Next week,” he said.
“Finn told me that you’re singing… Pink Floyd?” Burt asked skeptically, eying him.
Blaine sighed. “No. I’m singing a song called Wish You Were Here. It’s in a musical from 1952 with the same title. It’s not the Pink Floyd song.” Not that it had been easy to convince Finn of that. Or Sam, for that matter, who had complemented him on his “ballsy choice, dude.”
Burt chuckled. “I thought it sounded… unlikely. Well, break a leg. I’m sure it’ll be awesome.”
“Thanks,” Blaine said with a thin smile.
“Oh, hey, there’s Finn. Really, good luck. Let us know how it goes!”
Blaine gritted his teeth. If his choices were to do well or disappoint Burt and Carole, he was going to have to do well.
The evening after his audition, Blaine found himself sprawled on his bed, staring at the ceiling, the silence of the empty house spread out all around him.
It hadn’t been anything like he’d expected.
He’d started his search for an audition song as soon as he’d gotten back from his Christmas in New York, when it had suddenly seemed like the most important thing in the world to find the perfect piece. Because Kurt hadn’t been opposed to the idea of having him there, and he thought that maybe when he got there…
When he’d discovered on Wish You Were Here, he’d been drawn to it at once — he could play it like a charm song, Something’s Coming but with a melancholy twist. He’d started rehearsing just after New Year’s, perfecting each nuance, doing his best to infuse the words with a kind of longing optimism (maybe, maybe, maybe), and he'd enlisted Tina to help him practice.
Finding out that Kurt was seeing someone else had sucked the all wind out of his sails, and he’d started putting off rehearsals with Tina, claiming that he needed extra time to work on a history project, which wasn’t entirely a lie. He'd all but ignored the audition until it was suddenly ten days away, and there wasn't enough time to prepare anything else. When he'd run through the song with Tina again, she'd been forced to tell him that it was flat and uninspired. He rehearsed it until he could fake it well enough to earn her enthusiasm back.
Then he’d stepped on stage in front of Carmen Thibideaux. Things had started out just fine, exactly as he’d practiced. He knew, though, that she would need to see more than fine, and as soon as he'd loosened his hold on his emotions, the song had started slipping from his grasp, and he was bleeding all over the stage. It was too raw, skimming the edge of anger, tapping into a wellspring of sadness that he'd thought was empty. It was all wrong. He’d finished the number panting, coming back to himself exhausted, with a strange weight in his chest and no choice but to wait for Ms. Thibideaux with a brave face.
And all she’d said was that he’d be perfect for a Rodgers and Hammerstein revival. Blaine was trying hard to find a compliment in it, but he was pretty sure that she just meant that he was old-fashioned.
So he probably wasn't going to make it, and that was that. He’d just focus on one of his backup schools — UCLA maybe, or Ohio State if everything else fell through.
His phone rang shrilly, startling him out of his thoughts. He flopped a hand out to look at the screen, and there was no controlling the mutinous stutter of his heart when he saw who was calling.
He answered. “…Kurt?”
“Hi,” Kurt said hesitantly.
Blaine cast around for something else to say but came up empty. “So, um —”
“Oh, yeah. I did. It was —”
“It was amazing.”
Blaine blinked. “How do you…?”
“Oh.” Kurt’s voice went even quieter. “I… sort of asked Tina to record it for me.”
“Oh,” Blaine echoed.
A brief silence loomed up between them, broken when Kurt asked, “Did you mean it?”
“Did I mean what?”
The lyrics echoed back in his head: And the mornings don’t seem as new, brand-new as they did with you, wish you were here, wish you were here, wish you were here. “They’re feelings that I’m not entirely unfamiliar with after the past few months,” he said carefully, guarding the whole truth close to his heart.
“Yeah.” Kurt paused. “Same here.”
“Oh,” Blaine said. “Really?” He wanted to ask more — maybe ask Kurt why, why any of this — but his tongue felt like it was glued to the roof of his mouth.
“Yes, really,” Kurt said, quiet still but with an air of you shouldn't even have to ask and Blaine felt something unknot inside of him. “So,” Kurt continued, and suddenly his voice sounded just like it always had, “Finn told me that there was a good catfight at Glee this week? Just like old times?”
Blaine snorted. “Oh god. I think it might have all the old catfights beat.”
“I find that hard to believe, especially since Santana lives here now.”
With a real laugh, Blaine pulled himself up against the pillows to get more comfortable. He felt a sudden wash of relief like a stone dropped into water, cool and refreshing. “Well, none of it would have happened if Kitty hadn't — no, you know what, it really started before that. I guess it’s kind of a long story.”
“I’ve got time.”
It was Regionals, and Kurt was there.
Not there there, in the choir room where they were clustered and getting ready to take the competition by storm, but Finn had greeted them with the happy announcement that Kurt was in the auditorium, back from New York for a surprise. It had sent an excited murmur through the group and the first real twinge of nervousness through Blaine's stomach. Since the phone call after Blaine's audition, they had talked on most days, and three times, long into the night. It was something familiar and new all at once, as delicate in Blaine's grasp as moth's wings or blown glass. It felt like he could still say something wrong enough to send the whole thing crashing down again. He probably could.
As soon as he had the opportunity, Blaine slipped into the hallway, trying to find a place to catch a few breaths away from the noise and the fuss of his teammates. It wasn't that he didn't want to see Kurt (because, oh god, did he want to see Kurt), but the lack of advance notice made him anxious right when his teammates needed him to be at the top of his game. He headed down the hallway, mostly deserted since the competition had started, and ducked around a corner, toward the bathrooms
Blaine tried to calm himself with a few sips of water from the fountain and retreated back down the hall to lean back against the lockers. Just forget it for now, he told himself. You can worry about all of this as soon as you're done singing. They're counting on you.
He got so caught up in pep talking himself that he barely registered a door opening several feet away, only jerking his head up when someone called his name.
When he saw Burt Hummel emerging from the men's room, and all of the hard work of the last few minutes was instantly undone.
“Hi,” he said, straightening up courteously.
“You meditatin' or something?” Burt asked, coming a little closer.
“Just... getting ready to go out there. I've got a solo, so I wanted to clear my head for a minute.”
“So I hear. Congratulations, kid. It's gonna be great.”
Blaine ducked his head a little, warming under the praise despite everything else he was feeling. “Thanks.”
“You know Kurt's here?”
“Yeah,” Blaine said, keeping his head down. “Finn mentioned that he came to see us.”
Burt snorted. “You mean you.”
“Me?” Blaine asked, glancing up to search Burt's face.
“Yeah. He's here to see you.”
“Did he say that?”
“No,” Burt said with a shrug, “but that doesn't matter. He likes the rest of 'em just fine, but he wouldn't come all the way from New York just for that. In fact, I'd bet on it.”
Blaine huffed out a sharp breath. “I just gave you twenty dollars a few days ago.”
“I'd give it back, if you want to hand it over again.”
Before Blaine could say anything else, Tina appeared suddenly from around the corner, almost colliding with Kurt's father in her haste. “Oh, hi, Mr. Hummel! Thanks for coming. Blaine, we need you. We're on in five.”
“Coming,” he said, stepping away from the wall. He flashed a tight smile at Burt. “I'll see you out there.”
“Break a leg, kid.”
Chaos reigned in the choir room after their win was announced, but Blaine felt it all slide into the background when Kurt came through the door. He looked for Blaine immediately, but he was swarmed just as quickly by Brittany, Sam, Artie, and Sugar, and even members of the choir who barely knew him at all. Blaine approached, but hung near the back of the crowd as Kurt gave a little hug and words of congratulations to everyone between them.
Then, finally, they were face to face. “Hi,” Blaine said, locking eyes with Kurt.
“Hi,” Kurt replied, staring right back. “Congratulations.”
Blaine felt the corner of his mouth tug up. “Thanks.”
Kurt broke the spell first, glancing at the others, who, although they were all suddenly occupied with other things, were still close and awfully quiet. “Can I talk to you? Um, somewhere else?”
“Sure,” Blaine said. “Follow me.”
He led Kurt to the same deserted section of hallway where he'd run into Burt earlier. They paused awkwardly, leaving a buffer of several feet of lockers and tile.
It was Kurt who broke the silence. “Congratulations. Again. You were amazing,” he said quietly. He looked different. Or maybe, Blaine thought, he looked exactly the same as he used to — his shoulders relaxed and his face soft.
Blaine gave him a quirk of a smile. “Thanks. It’s amazing how the group can come together when we have more than a few days to prepare.”
Kurt’s gaze was steady. “They were good too. But I was talking about you.”
“Kurt…” Blaine trailed off, already feeling a lump in his throat.
“Blaine,” Kurt said, his eyes bright under the fluorescent lights. “Someone once told me that… there’s a moment…” Blaine heart stuttered into his throat as Kurt took a shaky half step forward. “I didn’t have that.”
As quickly as he'd started to soar, Blaine crashed, his entire body freezing up.
It didn't escape Kurt's notice. “No, Blaine. I had… a thousand little moments. For three years. Even now. Even… even then.”
Blaine slowly let out his breath, which escaped carrying Kurt's name again. He shuffled a little closer.
“Like last week, you knew exactly what to say when I had that horrible audition. And all I wanted to do after it was over was talk to you, because I knew you would. You know me.” Kurt took a step that time, and he was close enough to touch, but he didn’t reach out. “I love you.”
“I love you.” Blaine’s voice was quiet, but strong. “I never stopped.”
“Me neither. And believe me, I tried.” Kurt's lips twisted up into a wry smile, but Blaine just pressed his together and looked down. “Blaine,” Kurt said. “I never stopped.” He lifted a hand like he was going to touch Blaine’s arm, but he let it drop, and Blaine followed the movement with his eyes.
“I want to start over,” Kurt blurted out into the tense silence. “I want to try again. Now, or in the fall, or… whenever you’re ready. I want another thousand moments. With you.” He gulped. “Unless that’s not what you want! Or if you decided to go to school somewhere else. I don’t want to assume —”
Blaine reached out then, lightly brushing the backs of his fingers over the smooth skin of Kurt’s hand. “Kurt.”
“Yes?” The tiny shake in Kurt's voice was unmistakable.
“If I get into NYADA, I’m going there. But not because of you,” Blaine said, holding Kurt’s gaze, begging Kurt with his eyes to understand. “I want it to be for me. And… for us. Because if you do… I want all of that too. I want to try again. And I know there are no guarantees, but if we get the chance, I don’t want to stop at a thousand moments,” he finished with a watery smile.
Kurt started at him for a moment, his eyes bright, and then he said, “that was the first one,” and grabbed Blaine to pull him forward.
They collided hard, and Kurt wrapped his arms tightly around Blaine’s back. Blaine managed to get one of his around Kurt and grab a fistful of Kurt’s shirt with the hand that was caught in between. He burrowed his face into Kurt’s neck, taking shaky, sweet-smelling breaths there. “That was the second one,” he whispered into Kurt’s collar, and Kurt was pushing him back again.
But not far. Only far enough to bring his hands up to Blaine’s jaw and run a thumb gently over one of his damp cheekbones. “Number three?” he asked quietly, his face wet and hopeful.
“Number three —” Blaine echoed, but the second word was barely out when Kurt’s lips landed on his, not quite in the right place at first, like they’d forgotten, but as perfect as they’d ever been just the same.