[FIC] Carry Your Shame 16/25

Rating: NC-17

Beta: Laura aka- gottriplets <3

Warnings: First time sex, blow jobs, exhibitionism, sexting, gay sex all around- the usual :) 

Summary: Kurt’s spent his entire life being pushed around and ignored. He’s never had a single friend until he met Blaine Anderson, a swimmer for the National Team and McKinley’s Golden Boy. When the boys fall for each other, Kurt has to learn the hard way that there are some things even love can’t fix—like the fact that his step-brother and boyfriend are mortal enemies. Will Blaine be willing to give up everything to be with Kurt or will they crumble under the pressure to become what everyone else is trying to turn them into? 

This was written for this GKM prompt, so go check it out and possibly leave me some love <3

Part 1//Part 2//Part 3//(Blaine interlude)//Part 4//Part 5//Part 6//Part 7//Part 8//Part 9//(Blaine Interlude 2)//Chapter 10//Chapter 11//Part 12//Part 13//(Blaine Interlude 3)//Part 14//Part 15

Carry Your Shame Playlist (organized by chapter)

*Side note- anyone looking to track this, it will always be tagged as “Fic: Carry Your Shame”

AN- I apologize for the long delay. Vacation mixed with a rather difficult chapter made for a rough time getting this one out. I hope you all enjoy it since you’ve had to wait so much longer than I expected!

****

It was the second week of March when the weather finally turned from freezing to a bearable cool. The frenzy of upcoming spring had all of Dalton in an excited buzz and practically everyone was eating lunch outside on the front lawn. The lacrosse team was throwing a football back and forth, two of the gymnastics team boys were trying to perfect David’s backflip, and several of the boys were lying in the grass and basking in the sun like they were at a beach in Mexico. Evan was off tutoring a freshman in Algebra, otherwise Kurt would have been behind the building sneaking kisses with him like always. Instead, he was sitting on the front steps finishing up his sandwich and quizzing Jeff for their upcoming test on the Spanish Inquisition when he heard a guitar start. 

It didn’t catch his attention right away. He was used to Harry playing his guitar through the halls during passing period and it only seemed right that he would be playing it happily outside on the first warm day. Most of Dalton ignored Harry’s constant strumming by this point. It wasn’t until he heard somebody start singing that he got curious. The only students who sang on a regular basis were the Warblers, usually through very well practiced performances. Kurt would know, he was now a member of the group and could say they definitely had not practiced for any lunchtime performance. Even if they had, almost all of the Warblers were sitting beside him looking just as confused as he was.

He scanned the crowd but didn’t see the source of the song at first. The voice sounded familiar though. It was a voice he still heard in his dreams on occasion. It was a voice that forced him to remember even though he had tried very hard to forget everything. It wasn’t possible though. Blaine didn’t sing in public and even if he did, he wouldn’t be here. They hadn’t talked in almost two months. It just didn’t make sense that he would show up at Dalton and start singing…

He was though. Kurt spotted him walking closer, wearing an adorable button up cardigan and ridiculous pink bow tie—one he’d once told Kurt he loved but felt was too ‘obvious’ to wear to school. Puck was behind him strumming the guitar as Mike and Sam provided backup vocals. Blaine was here. He was singing to Kurt. He only vaguely recognized the song. It wasn’t something Kurt and he had listened to and discussed in detail like so many other songs. It was something he’d heard in passing though. Perhaps from a familiar album, a track they’d skipped past in favor of something better—a track Blaine had been more passionate about most likely. 

That didn’t seem to be the case anymore. To say Blaine felt passionate about this song was an understatement. Kurt could feel Blaine’s words in his bones. They were raw and heartfelt and the most vulnerable he probably ever heard him sound as he stood at the bottom of the stairs belting his heart out, putting his entire self behind every word. 

“Look at me, I’m made of wonderful, it’s terrible. I’m all easy come and easy go as far as you know,” he sang to him. There was no questioning who Blaine was directing the song at. The entire school was gazing between him and Blaine questioningly. Kurt was so obviously Evan’s boyfriend. He’d been Evan’s boyfriend pretty much since his first day at Dalton. For another boy to show up and serenade him, Kurt didn’t even want to hear the things the student body was going to say about this. 

Kurt couldn’t worry about that right now, though. Right now he had to worry about himself because his heart was doing that twisty-crushing thing that it did whenever he thought about Blaine. Currently, he was blinking frustrated tears away before anybody could notice. 

Why now? There had been so many opportunities for Blaine to contact him. There had been so many nights when Kurt would have welcomed this but he was happier now. He’d moved on. Why did he have to come back just as Kurt had started to forget? 

“Wait, I think I feel like hell. No, I can’t be myself and I can’t be nobody else, but if I could would you love me then?” he sang. 

Kurt tried to remind himself that he was upset with Blaine as the song continued and his friends danced behind him but it was hard. Blaine had always been so hesitant to show this side of himself to anyone else, yet here he was near tears and belting out an emotional song to an entire lawn full of people. Here he was singing about how everyone always expected him to be somebody else. He was professing how torn he felt, knowing that if he were to change himself, if he dropped the persona, nobody would love him. 

Sure, it wasn’t a love song. Blaine wasn’t singing Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ like Kurt had once daydreamed about while sitting through countless swim meets and lusting after a boy he never thought he could have. Not once during this whole song did Blaine sing about loving Kurt. It wasn’t one of the traditionally romantic moments that he’d grown used to with Evan. It was intimate though. It was raw and real and so help him, Kurt could feel Blaine pulling at a thread and he knew that everything was about to come unraveled thanks to one crazy serenade. 

This was all he’d ever wanted from Blaine, for him to be honest. He’d always known that Blaine cared for him, even if Blaine was too scared to admit it sometimes. What Kurt had needed was for Blaine to be brave enough to allow his vulnerability to show, which was exactly what Blaine was doing. 

“If I lose my place and I don’t know just where I’m supposed to go or if you’ll be there when I wake—Would you love me then?” he belted, almost angrily, though Kurt could see there was more frustration there than anything else. “When I come home tired and I come home late, everybody wants me so I give it away. I’m a wanted man, I’m a wanted man, I’m a wanted man, I’m a wanted man…” 

The song began to die out as Blaine lost his voice yet Sam and Mike kept singing the last line, “Would you love me then?” 

“Hey,” Blaine said with a somewhat hopeful smile though his eyes were still wet. He was oddly shuffling back and forth and kicking at cracks in the sidewalk. Kurt realized it looked so strange because Blaine almost always carried himself with confidence, overly self-assured. 

“Hey,” Kurt responded, unable to think of anything better to say. Now that the song had finished, reality had caught back up with Kurt. While the song had moved Kurt, no question, he couldn’t just forget about the last two months of silence or anything that had happened before they stopped talking. Everything was confusing at the moment which made Kurt’s mind go blank whenever he tried to come up with something better to say. 

“Can we talk?” Blaine asked, almost like he was afraid of the answer. 

Kurt had two months to practice and perfect this speech—the one where he told Blaine that he didn’t need him. The one where he told him he was happy at Dalton and had more friends and love here than Blaine could ever have provided him. He would call Blaine out on his cowardice and tell him that he didn’t deserve Kurt, not after he took his virginity without at least having the decency to be honest about his feelings. Two long months to perfect every last insult and make sure he said everything he wanted to say. What he hadn’t realized though, was how the happiness he’d found here at Dalton had started to melt at the ice around his heart. Suddenly he wasn’t fighting back with words to guard himself from pain, now there was only pity and regret. 

It had been two months without his best friend and maybe that was too long. If Blaine was willing to lay himself so open for Kurt, then couldn’t Kurt at least talk to him? 

“Yeah,” Kurt found himself agreeing with a nod of his head. 

The relieved smile he saw on Blaine’s face was enough to tell Kurt that he was making the right decision. That was the smile he’d fallen in love with, the private smile that was only for Kurt. 

“Hey sweetheart,” Evan said, walking up behind Kurt and putting an arm around his waist. “What’s going on?” 

The light stroke of a thumb finding its way under his sweater brought Kurt fully back to reality. He’d lost track of himself, forgot about anything that wasn’t Blaine and those painfully hopeful hazel eyes. He’d somehow forgotten he was in the front lawn of Dalton with most of the student body watching him closely. Of course somebody had gone to get his boyfriend, there was another boy serenading him publicly. 

Kurt felt guilty for allowing himself to forget about Evan so quickly, even if it was just a moment. “Oh… um… this is Blaine,” Kurt fumbled through an introduction. 

Evan held out his hand, introducing himself as Kurt’s boyfriend confidently. Kurt could swear he saw a hurt look cross over Blaine’s face but it was quickly covered up by his signature cocky smile. 

“So how do you two know each other?” Evan asked sweetly, pulling Kurt closer to his side—closer than he usually held him in public. 

“We’re friends,” Kurt said quickly when he noticed Blaine’s dangerous smirk. He had seen the darker side of Blaine. He knew how quickly he could wound with words when he was hurt and he didn’t want to see that happen here with Evan. He wasn’t stupid. The hurt look Blaine had shown for a moment said it all, he’d been hoping to get Kurt back as a boyfriend, not just a friend. 

“That was quite a display for a boy you’re only friends with,” Evan said with an ever present smile that Kurt was starting to realize was forced for both boys. They were both jealous. They looked ready to have some disgustingly masculine pissing contest over him. It was crazy, since when was Kurt anything special? 

“Yeah, well Kurt and I are very close,” Blaine said condescendingly.

“Funny, he’s never mentioned you—” Evan countered as the boys began to talk over each other. 

“We share a very special bond—”

“Yet I’m the one he’s been dating for two months—”

“Stop it,” Kurt said, cutting them both off. Thankfully, they both obeyed. 

“We’re going to be late for fifth period,” Evan said, pulling at his arm to try and get him to walk back up the stairs and through the door, away from Blaine. Kurt glared at his boyfriend for being so rude. 

“Sorry, Sugar,” Evan apologized. 

“Sugar?” Blaine snorted, earning his own glare from Kurt. The last thing he needed was for Blaine to tell Evan he hated pet names. 

“You know we can’t be late to class again,” Evan explained trying to usher a stock still Kurt inside. “Ms. Echols will give you detention and we’ve got that date planned tonight. It was nice to meet you, Blaze.” 

“Blaine,” Kurt corrected him and pulled his wrist out of Evan’s hold. Evan looked completely betrayed and Kurt knew he’d have to deal with a major argument later, but he wasn’t about to let Blaine walk out of his life again. He no longer had Blaine’s number to call him and he didn’t know if they’d ever see each other again after this. 

“I won’t be late, I swear,” Kurt promised Evan. “Just give me a minute to say goodbye.” 

Evan sighed and stalked off with several of the Warblers at his heel. Kurt rolled his eyes at the angry look they each gave him for pissing off their friend and prayed Blaine was going to make all the upcoming drama on that end worth it. 

“Boyfriend, huh” Blaine said, stuffing his hand in his pockets. 

“Really?” Kurt asked unimpressed. “I thought you were here to apologize not belittle my life choices.” 

“I did,” Blaine said quickly, holding his hands up in surrender. “It’s just; I told you that you’d have boys all over you.” 

“It’s one boy,” Kurt challenged. “And he’s my boyfriend so I’d appreciate it if you could avoid getting into some testosterone fueled battle on the front lawn of my school.”

“I’m sorry, that was out of line,” Blaine apologized sounding sincere enough. 

“I have class in one minute, say whatever it is you came here to say,” Kurt said thinking back to the promise he’d made to Evan. He couldn’t afford to get detention, not when Evan had specifically bought tickets for them to go and see a community theatre production of Les Miz tonight. 

“There’s just so much I need to talk to you about,” Blaine said, looking around frantically like his brain was trying to work too hard. “Meet me at Angeli’s after school?”

“So you can continue to make me your dirty little secret?” Kurt asked, giving him a pitiful glare. He still didn’t understand, did he? Kurt started walking backwards up the stairs, ready to turn on his heel and run to class at any moment. Blaine followed after him looking desperate. 

“Fine,” Blaine said, sounding frustrated. “Anywhere you want to go, in front of anybody. I just need to talk to you.” 

“I don’t know if—” Kurt had been about to say that he didn’t think that was a good idea. Though Blaine’s performance had been moving, the appearance of Evan was making Kurt question whether or not rekindling his friendship with Blaine was a good idea. The two of them had never really been just friends. They’d always been two boys lusting after each other and the second they realized that they’d fallen into bed together. Kurt had a boyfriend now. 

He had a boyfriend whom he genuinely cared for. One that had yet to break his heart like Blaine had. 

“Kurt, please,” Blaine said, reaching out his hand and grasping at air, tears in his eyes, forcing Kurt to see the dark circles that had formed there. 

He could see Puck, Sam and Mike in the background looking at each other, worried and ready to jump in. They had all ditched school to help Blaine apologize. Mike had been willing to miss classes. Puck and Sam had been willing to serenade a boy they’d never shown any affection for before. Obviously they thought Blaine needed this; that was the only reason they would have come all this way. There was something Kurt was missing, a critical part of the story that he could only find out if he agreed to meet with Blaine. It was the least he could do for the boy who had been his first real friend. 

“Meet me at the Lima Bean tomorrow at five,” Kurt said. “Don’t be late. I’ve got a paper to write.” 

“Thank you,” Blaine said sincerely, a gentle smile on his face and a more relaxed set to his shoulders. 

Kurt had to practically run to make it to fifth period on time, but he managed it. Evan would have been livid if he’d messed up their plans tonight. The only reason he’d bought the tickets were because Kurt had wanted to see the show, Evan didn’t enjoy musicals. Kurt was positive he’d be complaining halfway through the first act, but he was willing to put up with it for Kurt. 

That’s what boyfriends did; they made sacrifices for each other. Kurt had to continue to remind himself of that all day as he kept hearing Blaine’s voice in his head singing to him. When had Blaine ever sacrificed anything for him? 

“Are we going to talk about how another man sang you a love song at lunch today?” Evan asked him at their lockers after school that day. They were leaving straight from Dalton to make the drive out to New Albany for an early dinner and the show. It was going to be a long evening for them if Kurt couldn’t stop this conversation before it got started. 

“It wasn’t a love song, it was Rob Thomas.” Kurt rolled his eyes and grabbed his jacket and backpack before closing his locker. 

He’d taken the time to Google the song earlier—‘Wonderful’ off of the Cradlesong album. It explained why Kurt had recognized it. Blaine had loved playing ‘Someday’ for him. He’d go on and on about how beautiful the melody was and how he loved the message of finally finding a way to live life without pain. Songs weren’t just songs for Blaine; they always had a careful message that applied to his life. ‘Wonderful’ wasn’t romantic, but Evan never listened to anything close enough to hear true meanings in lyrics. 

“You told me you never had a boyfriend,” Evan challenged, still helping Kurt into his jacket despite his anger—ever the gentleman. 

“And I haven’t,” Kurt said with a raised eyebrow, daring Evan to call him a liar. Evan smartly kept his mouth shut but stared dejectedly at the ground making a guilty knot form in Kurt’s stomach. Evan was his boyfriend; he shouldn’t be upset with him over this. Kurt knew how it felt to think the person you cared for was with somebody else, he shouldn’t be this upset. 

“Listen, I’m sorry,” he apologized, taking a calming breath. “Blaine and I are just friends. We went to McKinley together but had a really big fight when I transferred. He was just here to apologize.” 

“With a song,” Evan mumbled like he didn’t believe him. 

“Evan,” he said, already tired of this argument even though it had barely begun. 

“No,” Evan said. “I know you don’t think it’s a big deal and I want to trust you that it wasn’t anything, but the whole school is asking me if you’re cheating on me and I don’t even understand what’s going on enough to say one way or the other—”

“You honestly think I’m cheating on you?” Kurt asked growing upset. Evan ignored him and continued talking. 

“—I think as your boyfriend I have a right to know about this best friend you mysteriously have never talked about.” 

“Fine,” Kurt said with a huff. 

“Great.” 

“Great,” Kurt repeated bitterly, stalking off towards Evan’s car. 

Tonight was going to be a long night for both of them and was going to completely ruin Les Miz. He walked as fast as he could, not wanting to stop and chat with any of his friends for fear they would ask him about Blaine as well. It wasn’t that he couldn’t see where Evan was coming from, he deserved to know. Kurt just didn’t know what to tell him when he didn’t exactly understand his relationship with Blaine anymore. It took a few minutes for Evan to catch up to him at his car and by that time he was looking apologetic and Kurt had a moment to calm down again. 

“I’m sorry, okay?” Evan said. “I don’t want to fight. The reason we’re so good together is because we trust each other and never fight, right?” 

“Of course,” Kurt said. “I’m sorry, too. I just don’t understand; you’ve never had a problem with me having male friends before. Why now?” 

A dark look crossed Evan’s face but it was quickly gone. Evan shrugged and replaced his frown with a smile. “I guess I just have a hard time believing somebody as attractive as you has never had a boyfriend before. But if you say I’m your first, then I believe you.” 

“You are,” Kurt said carefully. He wasn’t lying, Blaine and he had never dated. Trying to explain all the complications of their friendship would just be a hassle and Evan would only get hurt. He didn’t need to know. It wasn’t like Kurt was going to let himself kiss Blaine ever again, let alone sleep with him. 

“I’m so glad you’re mine, baby,” Evan said giving Kurt a lingering kiss, reminding them both who Kurt belonged to. He was Evan’s just like Kurt wanted. He was happy here. He had everything he ever wanted. He loved the feeling of belonging to another person. So why, for a split second, had that made him feel so claustrophobic? Like a prison?

“Me, too,” Kurt said, giving him a quick peck on the lips before climbing into the car so they could get on the road before rush hour started. 

****

Kurt’s stomach was a nervous mess the entire next day as he made his way through classes and tried not to think about his upcoming coffee with Blaine. Realistically, he knew it shouldn’t be so nerve wracking. It was just coffee. If at any point in time things got too complicated or awkward, he could get up and leave. It was a simple conversation between two people who had talked about almost everything. There was no reason to be this scared. 

Still, Kurt had felt like he was going to throw up all day. 

“Will you stop fidgeting,” Nick said, poking him playfully in the side with his pen as they worked on their chemistry experiment together. Well, Nick worked on it. Kurt was too distracted to be much of a help. 

“Sorry,” Kurt said, but didn’t stop clicking his pen. 

“Is this about the boy at lunch yesterday?” he asked, taking the pen out of Kurt’s hands so he would stop playing with it. 

“No,” Kurt answered. 

“Liar,” he said with an easy laugh. He didn’t sound that put out considering half of the Warblers had already come up to him to give him the third degree. 

“He’s just a friend,” Kurt quickly answered before Nick could start in on him like everyone else had done today. He was frankly sick of talking about Blaine to people who didn’t care to believe anything he’d say about the matter. Perhaps that was the real reason he was so nervous about meeting with Blaine, because everyone else seemed to think it was a bad idea. 

“And has this mystery boy always been just a friend?” Nick asked. 

“Just say whatever it is you’re going to say,” Kurt challenged him, eager for Nick to just spit it out so they could get back to their experiment. 

“You’re my friend,” he said earnestly. “And as your friend, I just thought I would tell you that no matter who this guy is, no matter what happens, I’m still your friend.” 

“Okay,” Kurt said, confused about what Nick was trying to get at. 

“Can I give you some non-judgmental advice?” he asked.

Kurt nodded and Nick continued, talking while he mixed the chemicals for their lab. 

“Over the summer, Jeff moved back home to Pittsburgh and I had to go back to Cincinnati,” Nick explained. Kurt wasn’t sure where this was going, but he stayed quiet and listened. “It was five hours away and just long enough that we could only see each other every other weekend.” 

“That must have been rough,” he said, thinking about how the two boys were always glued to each other’s side. Nick just shrugged. 

“We managed,” he said. “I worked hard to keep up our Skype dates and put together a schedule for semi-regular visits that worked around vacation schedules. Jeff had a harder time keeping up with it though.”

“Mr. Duval,” the teacher said, sending them both a warning glare. Nick nodded, going back to their experiment but he continued the story in a whisper. 

“See I ran from Cincinnati because I didn’t have anyone there I cared about. It wasn’t the same for Jeff; he left behind a lot of people when he transferred here. He left behind a boy.” 

Kurt’s eyes widened, sure he’d heard Nick wrong. He had never pictured his two friends, the school’s most stable couple, with anyone else. It just seemed wrong somehow. 

“He never told me about him, I think it hurt too much to talk about,” Nick explained. “Either way, he started spending time with this boy again, just as friends.” 

“But the two of you were still together, right?” Kurt asked quietly so they wouldn’t get in trouble with the teacher. 

“Of course,” Nick said with a smile. “But one day I guess the distance between us got to be too hard and this boy was there with all this history between the two of them… Jeff kissed him.” 

“What?” Kurt exclaimed loudly, earning them another glare and threat of detention. 

“I don’t understand, you and Jeff are still together,” Kurt said with a questioning tone. How could Nick have forgiven Jeff for cheating on him? 

“We love each other and I know Jeff regrets it every day we’re together,” Nick said. “There’s a lot more to the story that I won’t get into because it involves Jeff’s past and that’s really his story to tell. But yes, he cheated on me and it almost broke us up.”

“That’s not exactly advice,” Kurt said.

“The advice is don’t screw up something perfect because of a memory of the past,” Nick said. “I know Jeff really liked that guy and at the time they were good for each other, but now they aren’t. Now Jeff’s got me and he’s happier than he ever was before.” 

“Blaine was never my boyfriend,” Kurt explained carefully. 

“You’re a good guy Kurt,” Nick said. “I know whatever is going on; you’ll figure it out in the end. Just be honest with your feelings, don’t lie to anyone. Evan is a good guy.” 

“Why are you telling me this?” Kurt asked. 

“Because that boy looked at you the way Jeff looks at me,” Nick said. “They same way Evan looks at you. You can’t have them both.” 

After their conversation, Kurt felt even more anxious about his decision to go and see Blaine. Several times today he’d tried to get out of it, picking up his phone to text an excuse before realizing he no longer had Blaine’s number. 

Was Nick right? Was this really going to come down to him choosing between Blaine and Evan? Couldn’t he have them both? Blaine could just be his friend. Blaine was going to be his friend. He wasn’t about to cheat on his boyfriend. He was better than that. 

By the time school got out, Kurt had an hour and a half drive to himself to really think about what he would say to Blaine. There was so much to talk about. He wanted to ask why Blaine had gone out of his way to make it clear he cared about Kurt only to lie about his feelings in the end. He wanted to ask what it was about Christmas that had made Blaine finally brave enough to decide to be his boyfriend, only to lose that bravery and dump him on New Year’s. He wanted to confess that the only reason he’d allowed himself to go that far was because he was desperate to keep Blaine in his life and he didn’t know how to do that without sex. 

All of those questions would lead to answers—answers that could potentially repair what had been broken. That would lead to confessions though. It would lead to Kurt saying those magical three words again, praying for them to be repeated back. None of those questions would lead them back to friendship. 

So when he walked into the Lima Bean fifteen minutes late and saw Blaine sitting in a corner, staring at his phone sadly, he said the only words he’d decided were safe.  

“Hey.” 

“I was starting to think you weren’t coming,” Blaine sad with a pathetic smile. 

“I’m still not sure why I did,” Kurt confessed. Honesty. There was no point in pretending the past didn’t happen, in pretending everything could be perfect again if they just ignored it. Pretending things were okay had never done them any favors before. 

“Well, I’m glad you did,” he said as an awkward pause feel between them. Kurt still hadn’t moved to sit down and he could tell that was making Blaine anxious. 

“I don’t really know what to say here,” Blaine said. “I know I messed up.” 

“Which time?” Kurt said with a bitter snort. 

No, no, you are not going to do this, he reminded himself. Friends, they were friends. Friends didn’t need heartfelt confessions of love and every wrongdoing to be righted again. 

“All of it?” Blaine said, unsure of his answer. 

Kurt could agree, but then that would be a lie. It would be saying that every time they’d laughed together, every date they’d ever been on sitting by fireplaces, shopping in quaint downtown boutiques, eating at delicious Italian restaurants that could only be found outside of Lima… all of that would be a mistake as well. Kurt didn’t want to erase all of that too. It hadn’t all been bad. 

Kurt gestured towards the counter and they went up to get their coffees. Kurt refused to let Blaine pay for Kurt’s coffee even when Blaine said it was a peace offering. Buying coffees for each other felt too close to date territory and this was definitely not a date. 

“I’m sorry for showing up at Dalton,” Blaine said. “I should have called you first. I should have tried to reach out in a different way. I didn’t think you’d pick up my calls after blocking me on Facebook. I thought you’d appreciate the gesture. I thought I was going to rescue you from big bad Dalton and I’d take you back to McKinely where you belong. I didn’t realize you’d have a boyfriend. Of course you’d have a boyfriend. I just missed you so much. I needed to see you and I didn’t think about anything, but of course you would have moved on. You—”

“Blaine,” Kurt said, cutting off Blaine’s rambling. Kurt could feel his heart getting pulled in two different directions, it was painful. He wrapped his arms around his chest and squeezed tightly, trying to keep his insides from spilling out of his body like it felt they might. 

“I’m sorry,” he said, looking up at Kurt with watering eyes. “I never should have let you go.” 

“Blaine, please,” Kurt begged, closing his eyes so he wouldn’t have to see Blaine’s miserable expression. “Stop talking.” 

Kurt took several steadying breaths and forced himself to picture Evan. To see the two of them sitting side by side in a cozy booth at the French restaurant they’d eaten at last night. He tried to feel the sweet, gentle lips on his cheek as Evan told him he looked gorgeous in the candlelight from the table. Never pressuring him for more, always taking only what was given like a true boyfriend should. 

He forced himself to remember the cold running through is veins, freezing his heart, as his teeth chattered from being in his car too long after Blaine had broken up with him, drowning himself with tears. What Blaine and he shared was passionate, sure, but it was also volatile. How quickly Blaine had turned on him the second they’d slept together. He forced himself to remember the voicemail of Blaine about to hook up with another man. He remembered Blaine’s harsh words over the phone telling him that all he’d wanted was Kurt’s virginity. Even though Kurt knew they’d been lies, it still hurt. He’d still cried. 

Kurt’s heart might still belong to Blaine, if the way it was tearing itself apart was any indication, but it belonged to Evan, too. Evan, the boy who had never made him cry; not once. If Kurt was going to have to choose, he thought it was obvious who he had to pick. 

Kurt opened his eyes again to see Blaine fiddling with the lid on his cup, busying his hands with his task and gluing his eyes to the table. Kurt took a big, long sip of his coffee while he chose his next words carefully. 

“Let’s just slow down,” Kurt said. “I think this is all too much to process at once.” 

“Right, sorry,” Blaine said, falling silent once again, allowing Kurt some time to muddle through his confusing thoughts. 

“I’m not mad,” Kurt said. He’d said the words to himself before, but now that they were said aloud, he realized they were completely true. Any feelings of malice or rage had been washed away over time. 

“Okay,” he responded, slightly hopeful. 

“Now I’m just sad,” Kurt admitted.

“Me, too,” Blaine agreed. 

“When it was just the two of us, it was really good,” he said, picking his words very cautiously. He wanted to make up with Blaine, but he didn’t want him to get the wrong impression either. Kurt didn’t want to lose Evan.

“You still think so, even now?” Blaine asked. 

“It was never how you were when you were with me that was the issue,” Kurt said. “It was everyone else.”  

“I was so scared what happened to me was going to happen to you,” he said. “When Jackson and those guys came after us on New Year’s Eve, I was terrified.” 

“So was I,” Kurt said. “But we were okay. Everything turned out fine.” 

Blaine shook his head, like Kurt was missing something.

“That fear you had,” Blaine started, wearing a far off look, not quite looking at Kurt. It was like he was looking through him, lost in a far off memory. “Did all the adrenaline run through your body? Did you want to run but you couldn’t remember how, when you tried to push them away but they wouldn’t let you—did your heart plummet to the ground? Did you honestly wonder if you were going to make it out alive?” 

“Yes,” he whispered. 

“I feel like that every single day,” Blaine admitted. 

“Blaine,” Kurt reached out his hand to clasp it in Blaine’s, letting him know that he wasn’t alone. 

“I have really good friends now,” he said. “I have people like Puck, who I’m positive would kill somebody for me if he needed to. I have swimming, which makes me popular enough that the majority of students leave me alone. I have a future, I can go to any university I want and never look back. It makes it easier.” 

“Okay?” Kurt said, unsure of where this was going. Blaine was fine now, he was the golden boy. Kurt knew he was still scared, but he’d never really needed to be. He’d just listed every reason why Jackson and his friends could never actually hurt him that badly. 

“It never makes it okay,” Blaine said. “You could never understand that kind of fear before. You understood bullying, you had a death threat, but you’d never been two seconds from death before. You’d never had to look it in the eye. It’s never okay again.” 

“It’s okay to still be scared,” Kurt said. “That doesn’t mean you have to run.”

“I can’t stop,” Blaine said with a whispered confession. 

“All that love and friendship, the hope for a future, that can be enough to fight for,” Kurt said, squeezing Blaine’s hand with both of his own tightly, knowing Blaine needed it. “Try.” 

“I really wanted to be your boyfriend,” Blaine said with a shaky smile, pulling his hand away from Kurt’s to wipe the tears away from his eyes. 

Something about that simple phrasing struck a chord with Kurt. It was strange, Blaine wasn’t saying he wanted Kurt like he was some prize. He wanted to be Kurt’s boyfriend. He wanted to belong to Kurt, not the other way around. It was a slight turn of phrase and he was most definitely reading too much into it, but it felt right. It felt more natural this way. 

“You weren’t ready for that,” Kurt said carefully, biting the inside of his cheek and reminding himself of all the reasons they couldn’t work out. 

“I know, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want it all the same,” he said wistfully. “That was the problem, wasn’t it? I took what I wanted when I knew I wasn’t ready and ended up breaking the most important thing in the world to me.” 

“Blaine,” Kurt said, breathless. This was too much, he couldn’t handle it. 

“You think you’re ready now?” Kurt wasn’t sure what made him ask it. The words just fell out of him and he couldn’t take them back. It was a dangerous question. No matter what the answer was, it was sure to shatter him in pieces. 

“Does it matter? You’ve got a boyfriend,” Blaine said, bitterly. He turned away and looked into the distance. Kurt could see him sitting up straighter and composing himself.  He was closing himself off, putting up a wall, a well practiced persona. 

“You’ll always matter,” Kurt said, giving him a sad look. Blaine shouldn’t have to wear that wall with him. Kurt wasn’t sure if the fact he had put it up was his fault or Blaine’s. 

“You’ve always been able to make me feel special for more than just a national medal,” Blaine paused, looking at him then closing his eyes tightly, unable to stop a single tear from falling. 

“You were the first person to every befriend me,” Kurt confessed. “You’ll always be special. You’ll always be my friend.”

“I’m going to tell you something I shouldn’t,” Blaine said, eyes still shut. 

“You can always tell me anything,” he said, honestly.

Blaine shook his head and opened his eyes, giving him a pitying look. 

“Not if we’re only going to be friends,” he reasoned. “There’s something I have to tell you. Something I really need to say, then we can forget it happened and go back to being friends.”

“Okay,” Kurt said, nervously.

“I love you,” Blaine said, causing Kurt to gasp and practically knock their entire table over. His eyes went wide and terrified. He was not expected those three little words. 

“I know I’m really terrible at showing it, but I do,” Blaine continued quickly before he lost his nerve or Kurt could force him to stop talking again. “I’m sure your boyfriend is great. I’m sure he treats you way better than I ever did because you look so happy and healthy now—but I promise you I love you more. I don’t expect you to do anything with this. I don’t deserve you after what I’ve done, but I thought you should know.” 

“Why?” Kurt asked with a shake of his head, unable to help the tears from forming in his eyes. 

“Because one day you’re going to break up with him. Something is going to happen, I don’t know what or when, but it will. One day you’re going to realize that what we have together is a forever kind of thing.” 

“You can’t know that,” Kurt said, trembling. 

“I can,” Blaine said with a miserable smile. 

“We’re in high school, nobody talks about forever in high school,” Kurt said frantically, feeling his chest start to swell, like his lungs were going to explode. He couldn’t hear this right now. 

“That’s because not everyone meets somebody like you in high school,” Blaine confessed. 

“This is crazy,” Kurt said, shaking his head, willing himself not to jump into Blaine’s arms like he wanted to. They couldn’t work; they’d already proven that they didn’t work together. Why was Blaine saying all of these things to him? “I have a boyfriend.”

“And I can wait,” Blaine said, immediately changing the topic before Kurt could argue any further. “Now, how far have you gotten in Doctor Who? Are you on the eleventh doctor yet?” 

This was absurd. Blaine couldn’t just tell him all of that and then expect him to ignore it. It was impossible. They needed to talk about this. 

“You can’t just wait for me to break up with Evan. Do you hear yourself? This is insane,” Kurt said, looking at him like he’d lost his mind. Did he honestly expect him to just start chatting about some TV show they’d started watching together before Christmas after a comment like that?

“Nope,” Blaine said with a shake of his finger. “That’s going into the box of things we can’t talk about. We’re just friends now. You have a boyfriend.” 

“Is this some kind of game?” Kurt argued. “You play with my emotions and think it’s going to suddenly make me break it off with my boyfriend and come running back to you?” 

“No, of course not,” Blaine said reaching out and squeezing his hand reassuringly before letting it go. “This is me knowing that I’ve already lost the boy I’ve fallen in love with but being unable to lose my best friend, too.” 

“Then why did you tell me that?” Kurt asked, teetering between feeling touched by Blaine’s words and infuriated by them at the same time. 

“Because it had to be said,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders. “I should have said it before. I should have said it back when you first did. I should have told you at Christmas because that was when I knew, the moment you gave me your Christmas present, but I didn’t. I made a mistake, several mistakes, and I’m paying the consequences of them. I don’t deserve you now but maybe one day I will. Either way, you’re with somebody else and that’s fine. I understand and I’m happy for you. I am trying to be happy for you, but I need my friend back at least.” 

Kurt opened his mouth several times but found words were failing him. The truth was Kurt needed his friend back as well. If that meant they had to have a secret box where they put half their hearts and locked them away so friendship could work, then he’d do it. It had to be done, because life without Blaine would be wrong. 

Kurt nodded, agreeing to Blaine’s plan to be friends. “If this is going to work, you can’t tell me you love me. It hurts too much.” 

“We can’t bring up the times we’ve had sex, it’s too intimate,” Blaine added. 

“We’re friends and as far as anyone is concerned we’ve never been anything more,” Kurt agreed. 

“So this conversation never happened. So you never told me what episode you’re on,” Blaine said, changing the topic again as they both tried to forget about their past and move forward in a tentative friendship that could break with the simplest mention of their complicated history.

“Can we not talk about Doctor Who?” Kurt whined. “Because Rose just got pulled into the other dimension and I can’t bring myself to watch anymore.” 

“You haven’t even met the Ponds yet!” Blaine giggled, it sounded false to both of their ears but Kurt hoped over time they wouldn’t have to force these casual moments.  

“No,” he demanded. “Something else.” 

“Fine. How do you like Dalton?” Blaine asked. 

“It’s good,” Kurt said. “A little too strict, but good.” 

“I bet the commute sucks,” Blaine mused. 

“It does, but I’m going to start boarding there next month. Some kid dropped out to go to rehab so there’s an empty room,” Kurt explained. 

“That doesn’t sound temporary,” Blaine said with a frown. “Are you ever coming back to McKinley?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “The school’s not really interested in making things better for the effeminate gay kid who likes to sing.” 

“Then I’ll never see you,” Blaine whined. 

Kurt just shrugged. “There aren’t a lot of options for me.” 

“Yes, but it’s so stupid,” Blaine said. “The school can’t just let this happen.” 

“They don’t really care about anything if it’s not happening to their precious star athletes,” he explained bitterly. “It’s fine. Dalton’s a good school.” 

“They aren’t doing anything to protect me either,” Blaine said defensively. 

“You haven’t complained or threatened to leave the school, have you?” Kurt fired back. “You think they’d wish you luck and be glad to see you go like they were for me?”

“What are you suggesting?” Blaine asked. “McKinley has the best swim program in the state; my dad would never let me transfer again.” 

“I’m not suggesting anything,” Kurt said honestly. “I’m just stating my reasons for leaving. We can still see each other on weekends. It’s not like we ever saw each other at school anyway.” 

“Ouch,” Blaine said, wincing. “Guess I deserved that.” 

“Why does it matter to you where I go to school?” Kurt asked, genuinely wanting to know, not trying to be mean. 

“I guess I don’t like feeling alone,” Blaine confessed. “I hate knowing if I needed you, that you wouldn’t be there.” 

“Oh, Blaine,” Kurt said, grabbing onto his hand. “I’ll always be there. But you don’t need me, you never have. You’re surrounded by people that love you at that school. You said yourself Puck would kill somebody for you.” 

“That’s not true, I’ll always need you,” Blaine said, incredibly hurt. 

“Well I’m here,” he said. “I’ll always be here whenever you need me, that won’t change just because I’m at Dalton.”

“So you’ll answer my calls?” Blaine asked. 

“Of course,” Kurt said.

“And unblock me on Facebook and Skype?” Blaine asked, this time with a slight teasing tone to his voice, the serious mood somehow gone again. 

“Just shut up and walk me to my car,” Kurt laughed. “I have an English paper to write.” 

Blaine laughed along and they stood up to throw their empty coffee cups into the trash. Kurt felt much lighter now than he had before walking into the Lima Bean. As happy as he was before with the Warblers, Dalton and Evan, now everything was perfect. He had his best friend back and he’d always have somebody to text about the latest copy of Vogue and somebody to send him new music recommendations when his playlists got too boring. Life would be perfect for once. 

“I missed you,” Blaine said once they got to his car, pulling him into a hug. 

“I missed you, too,” Kurt said, squeezing him extra tight, taking in the scent of raspberry hair gel that would always be connected to Blaine. The hug lingered a little long, with Kurt burying his face into Blaine’s neck where the faintest hint of chlorine would always linger. He closed his eyes and let himself enjoy the familiar, strictly friendly, arms around him. 

This friendship thing might not be as hard as Kurt originally thought. They seemed to be handling it rather maturely, Kurt mused as Blaine pulled back and gave him a kiss on the cheek. 

“I’ll talk to you later,” Blaine said with a giddy smile before turning on his heel and walking towards his own car. 

No, not hard indeed. If he was checking out Blaine’s ass as he walked away, well that was only because he’d obviously gotten a new pair of jeans and Kurt always appreciated a man with a good fashion sense. 

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