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December 2016



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Hunting the Unicorn (T, Kurt/Blaine) - Chapters 1-4

Title: Hunting the Unicorn
Fandoms: Glee, heavily influenced by The Last Unicorn
Author: crossoverqueen
Pairings: Kurt/Blaine, the Warblers, and ND. Started out Kurt-centric, now it's fully Klaine-centric.
Rating: T
Word Count: 9,328 (for chapters 1-4).
Warnings: Swearing (mostly because they're teens), implied depression, implied PTSD, implied fears of sexual assault, and don't count on there not being actual assault later on (physical or sexual). Also, Kurt and Blaine desperately need therapy and hugs.
Spoilers: Spoilers for Prom Queen and New York.
Summary: "Here is there, and high is low; all may be undone. What is true, no two men know; what is gone is gone." Fairy-tale romances are harder to live through than you'd think.
Author's Note: Where to begin with this? Here's the short version: I was reading The Last Unicorn and thinking of how unsatisfying RIB's handling Blaine was--not that it's all bad, but there's so much more that they could do with him. Add in the (understandable) accusations of people calling Blaine a flat character who only exists for Kurt, the plot-hole of Kurt's sudden characterization switch between "Never Been Kissed" and "Sexy," and OH LOOK KLAINE, HERE'S ANOTHER FAIRY-TALE ROMANCE.

I originally started this as a straightforward character study that would have been three-ish parts, but now it's turned into this huge monster of a work that refuses to end yet.

You don't need to have read The Last Unicorn to understand this; if you know about fairy tales, you'll be fine.

There are a bunch more of my authors' notes on FanFiction.Net, but I left them out here. If, for some reason, you DO want to read them, go here.

Chapters 5-6
Chapters 7-8
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapters 16-17
Chapters 18-19
Chapters 20-21


The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone.

Kurt hates Karofsky for so many reasons lately.

Before the Incident (he refuses to call it anything else, because then he starts to feel dangerously teary and that is bad for his complexion because he gets all red and stuffy), he was as close to normal as an openly gay kid in Lima could be. He's had crushes, he daydreamed about celebrities, and once in a while those other dreams would sneak up on him like a sledgehammer. A wet, sexy sledgehammer with messy hair and... okay, that's not the best metaphor.

Kurt almost wishes that Karofsky was tossing him in the dumpster again and giving him slushies to the face, because those things were Before The Incident. Those things he's spent years dealing with, so he can deal with them for two more years before he finally gets out of Lima. But now Kurt can feel Karofsky tracking him in the hallways, staring at him with laser-vision through the crowds and making weird, not-homophobic-enough comments that feel like a twisted version of flirting.

He sticks with Finn or the other Glee members as much as possible, but even they can't help with the shudder that trickles down his spine when he spots Karofsky. It doesn't matter how far away the jock is - three feet away, on the other side of campus, driving off in his car - it is all the same and Kurt can't imagine how he can keep walking when his stomach is either shaking itself to pieces or an icy lump.

Sometimes he gets a "courage" text from Blaine right on cue, or he remembers one from earlier, and sometimes it helps. But other times it doesn't, and it's then that he feels utterly, terribly alone.

From the first time she imagined leaving her forest, she could not stand in one place without wanting to be somewhere else. [...] She said no, and yes, and no again, day and night, and for the first time she began to feel the minutes crawling over her like worms.

He really can't focus on English or the assignment they've been given today - he'll just ask Rachel or Mercedes later. Mercedes always has his back, and Rachel is as dedicated about the rest of school (neurotic, more like) as she is about glee.

Come lunch, he plunks his bag down by his seat and takes his phone out to dial Blaine's number. Six rings later, just when Kurt is about to give up and try again later: "Yeah, sorry about that, Kurt - I just put my iPhone on shuffle, so I only realized I was getting a call when it stopped after the first verse."
Kurt smiles in spite of himself. "Were you singing along?"

"It's physically impossible for me to not sing along to New Radicals." For someone who has the top-forty chart memorized, Blaine's taste in music is all over the place. "So, what's up?"

"Oh... nothing much." Mercedes is too busy talking with Tina to catch the too-casual tone in Kurt's voice, but it doesn't fool Blaine. Kurt is pretty sure Blaine can see him bite his lip in uncertainty.

"Karofsky at his old tricks again?"
"I wish." And he does, and his voice is caught between bitterness and fear as he gets up. "Mercedes, can you watch my stuff? I'm heading to the bathroom for a minute."
Mercedes nods and tugs his bag over to hers.

"So what's he up to now?" Blaine asks as Kurt heaves open the bathroom door and lets it close behind him. "You're not getting hurt, are you? Kurt, just because I told you to tough it out doesn't mean you shouldn't get help -"

"No, no, I'm fine!" He assures, and winces at how false it sounds. "Don't worry. It's just..."

He is one creepy phone call away from stalking me. Sometimes he tries to flirt, dear god, and I don't know which is worse so now I can't even look at him without panicking. These things rush through his head in a stampede; he quashes them with a deep, if shaky breath, then shakes his head even though Blaine can't see. "Okay, I'm not hurt. But... I'm not fine, either."

"You want me to come over this weekend?"

It is out before he can stop it, his cracked voice echoing in the deserted bathroom, and he feels something hot run down his face. Oh, this isn't happening... He rips a sheet of paper towel from the dispenser as fast as he can while gripping the phone like a vice, but just like that word, the pent-up tears of frustration and loneliness escape him with a fury; he cannot rein them in anymore. He leans against the stall door for support, and wishes for a moment that it was Blaine.

"Holy fuck, Kurt - are you okay?" It takes one hell of a shock for Blaine to forget his composure enough to curse, and an even bigger one for him to ask a stupid question like "are you okay?" after hearing someone start crying over the phone. If Kurt wasn't having an emotional breakdown, he would be filing this away for blackmail so fast.

"No!" It is misery that escapes into his voice now. As much as it hurts to confirm everything that's been happening over the past few weeks with just one word, he's also relieved because he can finally say some form of what's been raging in his head. "No, Blaine - I am not okay!"

I'm being all but stalked by a self-hating, closeted bigot who can't decide whether he hates my existence or has repressed feelings for me and no one, no one notices! Why not, pray tell? Because Karofsky said he'd kill me and I really don't want to take my chances! Or worse - I might lose the few people who make my life bearable instead, and if that happens I might just take a nap in my car with the engine on!
Blaine is very, very quiet - did Kurt say everything out loud? - before clearing his throat and talking again. "I'm coming today. Where do you want to meet up?"

He wants to say that he'll go to Dalton instead. That they'll meet at the Lima Bean, Breadstix, Starbucks, some place where he can huddle over a drink to pretend his watery eyes and shaky voice are from drinking too-hot coffee. And again he is too spent to stop himself from saying, "Come to McKinley - I'll tell you how to get to my place."

"I'll be there when your classes end. Hold up, all right?"

Kurt's phone reads 12:28 PM, changing to 12:29 as he hangs up. Three hours and thirty-one more minutes till Blaine comes. Lunch is over in thirty-one minutes, but he feels even less like eating than he did before -

"Catch you at practice later!"

Kurt hears his voice through the door and bolts into the stall, the dropped paper towels blending perfectly in with the overflowing trashcan's contents. He locks it for a semblance of security and impulsively, despite the inherent danger to his fifty-three-dollar boots, steps onto the toilet rim to further conceal himself. He braces his arms against the flimsy gray walls, hoping desperately that they don't give way or shake and reveal his presence. Also that he doesn't fall into the toilet; even though it's one of the cleaner ones, it would be really bad for his boots.

But Karofsky is in and out after forty-two seconds, not even stopping to wash his hands (ewwww). Kurt steps down with immense gratitude when the door swings shut a second time.

Then he realizes he's acting like someone in a horror movie, and he feels like crying again.

"What took you so long, Kurt?" Mercedes is smirking as he sits down and about to mention Blaine, but the joke dies as she catches sight of reddened eyes and slightly blotchy skin. "What's up?"

"I had to spend fifteen minutes waiting in line to use a school bathroom, Mercedes. What do you think?"

She doesn't really buy it, of course, but she goes along with a "we'll talk later" expression to show it. "Ugh, no wonder. Hope you didn't have to wait inside."

"Unfortunately, I did." He gets lunch out - a ham sandwich and organic pomegranate juice - and takes a bite. It takes far too much effort to chew, and he chokes half of it down under Mercedes' concerned gaze.

It feels like ash in his mouth.


"Still I have read, or heard it sung,
That unicorns when time was young,

Could tell the difference 'twixt the two -
The false shining and the true,

The lips' laugh and the heart's rue."

Kurt spends a few minutes in Glee Club before leaving, because as much as he wants to go home with Blaine he doesn't like the thought of missing all his time with the twelve people who actually care about him. Then he gives the excuse that he got a call from his dad earlier about a car he needs help with; Mr. Schue nods and waves him off, and Mercedes gives him her "you will call me today, or I will cut you" expression. Typically, they are the only two who even notice he's leaving.

Aside from Brittany, but everyone's too confused after her story about a notebook and her cat (she'd misheard something Schue said) to notice when she starts talking to him. "So Kurt, I went to the bathroom at lunch and I think I saw you in there."


Okay, he really doesn't blame himself for getting blindsided by the fact that Brittany may have forgotten how to read the "BOYS" and "GIRLS" signs on the doors. And knowing Brittany "Lost A Wheelchair" Pierce, she has.

"Britt-Britt, we've been through this before: The boys' bathroom has a boy in pants on the door, and the girls' bathroom has a girl in a dress on the door. But just because you're wearing pants doesn't mean you can use the boys' bathroom," Santana tells her patiently, and Kurt takes a glance at the blonde - Brittany is indeed wearing periwinkle-blue skinny jeans.

"Really?" Only Brittany could be genuinely shocked at such a revelation. Or need that revelation at all, really. "But what about Kurt? He's an honorary girl."

"Honorary. His plumbing's still different."

"Oh." Her blue eyes narrow in concentration as she stores the information away, then she turns back to Kurt. "I hope you stop sleeping in your car. And remember to keep the engine off, because it's bad for the environment."

Wait, she heard him? "...Sorry, what?"

"I only caught the last part, but you said you were going to take a nap in your car with the engine running - does that mean you drive while you're sleeping to save time?" Brittany asks.

He can't do anything but laugh at how ridiculous this conversation must sound, and he feels a smile crack through his face like a new plant pushing through snow. "Brittany, I can't drive while I'm asleep. That's kind of impossible." He doesn't bother trying to explain sleepwalking, falling asleep at the wheel, or all the weird medical disorders that technically render sleep-driving possible. One, that would take too much time; two, this is Brittany; and three, he really wants to go home and talk to Blaine.

"That explains why you're so sad lately," she muses, and his tentative smile withers instantly, as much from confusion as the startling flash of insight. "Normally you say that everything's possible, and it's only listening to other people that holds you back. You'll manage it in the end, though! You always do."

His spring smile slowly grows back from the roots, and even the snow of his skin starts thawing. "Okay, Britt, I need to go now. Dad needs help at the shop."

"Bye, Kurt!" She waves as enthusiastically as a little kid.

Kurt waves back with an icy hand. He knows Brittany's completely misinterpreted his rant, and nobody will understand enough to ask her for details (except maybe Santana). But he knows that she knows how bad things are getting, deep in that big childlike heart of hers, and that is more terrifying than if she'd recorded every miserable word he'd screamed into his phone.

Of all people who noticed something so important, it's the one who needs reminders about which bathroom to use.

For an instant the icy wings hung silent in the air, like clouds, and the harpy's old yellow eyes sank into the unicorn's heart and drew her close. "I will kill you if you set me free," the eyes said. "Set me free."

Kurt is walking in the deserted hallways when Karofsky's voice shatters the silence. "Hey there, queer. Where's the rest of your loser friends?"

Kurt allows himself to stop, but like hell if he's going to show fear. "They're in glee. Aren't you supposed to be in football practice getting your daily concussion?" It is a miracle how his voice doesn't crack under the strain of his panic, because his insides are an inferno and his skin is so cold it burns. Stay away, stay away -

"Nice one." Karofsky sneers at him, and when Kurt is done blinking very hard (he is not shutting his eyes and hoping he'll wake up from this horrible dream) he finds Karofsky's shadow falling across his face. "Didn't see you till half past lunch - where were you, sucking off that boyfriend of yours?"

"He's not my boyfriend, and he lives two hours away. How would I get there and back in thirty minutes?" Kurt answers. His panic is replaced by anger because Karofsky sounds almost jealous right now, and who the hell is he to be jealous of Blaine - someone who doesn't throw Kurt into dumpsters or call him names all the time? "You know, even a Neanderthal like you can't believe I'm the only gay person in Lima. In fact, I met a guy last month called Dave -"

"Shut up!"

Kurt is slammed into the nearest locker, and for a moment he cannot think with his vision all gray, but it is worth it to see that flicker of fear on Karofsky's face before the tough-guy facade returns.

"I warned you," he spits like a cobra, venomous words sizzling with hate. "I warned you what I'd do if you told, faggot. You think talking like that'll stop me?"

"There's no one here to tell!" Kurt laughs dizzily, cold iron singing a descant in his ears, and scrabbles against the wall to regain his balance. "Oh wait, the lockers! They can't keep a secret for shit, can they -"

Karofsky actually lifts Kurt by his shirt this time; he feels his feet scrape futilely against the floor, and goes as quiet as a mouse. Karofsky's gray-green eyes have gone as dark and menacing as stormclouds, fingers digging viciously into Kurt's shoulders as he drags him closer, and this sets off so many alarm bells that Kurt forgets his pride and lets a scared breath slip from his mouth.

Nonononono please don't, please -

Karofsky's smile cuts him deep, and it isn't until Kurt screws his eyes and mouth shut that he realizes he's actually said it aloud. "You think of telling anyone else, and you'll be wearing red."

Kurt nods, and when he is dropped to the ground he closes his eyes again.

When he opens them, he is still in the hallway and his head still hurts.

At least Karofsky is gone.

Kurt is still a little dazed as he wanders out of the school entrance, where Blaine waits on the steps. Blaine waves, saying something about being right on time, then blinks and runs over. "What happened?"

"Talk later. Where's your car?" His voice limps out on its last legs, buckling under its own weight. He is too exhausted to care.

"It's right over there..." Blaine motions halfheartedly, eyes still on Kurt. "Are you okay?"

There is another question that darkens Blaine's hazel eyes, turning them the gentle shade of a summer forest, but he puts a hand on the countertenor's shoulder instead. Kurt flinches - not from pain, but Blaine thinks that's why and he withdraws immediately. "Sorry -"

"No, it's just... I'm a little jumpy today. Not sure why."

And Blaine knows that it is not the truth, but he nods anyway. "Come on."

They walk. Blaine is staying next to him and Kurt can feel the boy stealing glances at him. His eyes are concerned and completely understandable, and Kurt wishes there was something else besides the stupid, obvious, normal fact that Kurt had a nervous breakdown a few hours ago and that he can't walk straight.

Blaine opens the passenger door first and makes sure Kurt swings it shut before stepping inside himself.

"You may come with me if you like, though I wish you had asked me for some other reward."

Schmendrick smiled sadly. "I thought about it." He looked at his fingers, and the unicorn saw the half-moon marks where the bars had bitten him. "But you
could never have granted my true wish."

Kurt fiddles with the seat-belt strap as he dictates the way home. He knows this route like the back of his hand, whether he's barely awake, hopped up on caffeine, or almost-concussed. Blaine is unusually cautious when stopping and starting at the streetlights, likely due to that last fact. The silence is tense, but not uncomfortable; Kurt's head is pounding and Blaine is still unsure of whether to speak, even as he pulls into the driveway.

"And we're here in one piece!" He declares gratefully, unsnapping his seat-belt and taking the keys out of the ignition.

"Is Lima so much worse than Westerville?" Kurt asks, and his laugh is weak but sincere. "You are incorrigibly sheltered if it is."

Blaine makes a feeble noise of protest and smiles disarmingly, but they both know that he is not worried about the driving.

In the house, Kurt flops onto the couch with relief (which is genuine, even if hitting the armrest sends shooting pain through his temples). He really wants to go to his mom's room for an hour or five, like he does when the day's been particularly vicious and he doesn't want his dad to see the bruises, but then he might start crying again. It was a horrible experience when Blaine was just a voice on the phone, and he doesn't know what will happen with Blaine physically here.

"Kurt." And Blaine is looking at him with that soft, sad, understanding expression. Kurt can't bring himself to lash out at him like when others look at him like that, because Blaine really does know how he feels, and why he feels it. Blaine has felt that sad-angry-lonely-why frothing under his skin, and Blaine has been stuck in a hick town that wants to break him. Blaine has already broken, and he thinks Kurt is close to breaking, too.

He staggers up like he's gotten smashed into the lockers again. "Oh, where are my manners? You want any -"

"I'm fine."

There goes his stalling attempt. He gives a strangled laugh, fights the tears back, and he wins over them by the skin of his teeth. "You want to sit down, then?"

"So you kind of... lost it at lunch." Blaine sits down as gingerly as a puppy learning its first command, cautious eyes and worried mouth. "Is there something you aren't telling me?"

I nearly got concussed by the self-hating Neanderthal. He all but said he'd shank me if I told anyone he was gay, and then he got really close so I sort of panicked because I thought he might kiss me again. Or do something else. My head hurts and I can't think straight and I want my mom and I'm sort of in love with you.


What the hell, voice? He thinks irritably. The one time you don't start making noise without my consent!

Okay, this is getting to be Rachel-Berry levels of crazy, so he stops berating his own voice and clears his throat. The noise comes out like a sob - oh god, not again. "I..."

Focus, Kurt, focus, he tells himself. Just metaphorically vomit every tiny thing that went through your head a few seconds ago - Blaine knows your brain-pan is slightly broken, so this is the perfect time to state your feelings without making things unbearably awkward. "I'm sort of..."

Maybe if he tries to laugh it'll be easier to get the rest out. He feels his diaphragm contract and expand at rapid-fire speed, but he says the wrong words and he makes the wrong sounds, and he curls into himself because the tears are coming down. "Can you stay here for a while?"

Please stay here, please. He must have said it out loud this time, because Blaine puts an arm around him and lets Kurt put his head on his chest, and he doesn't say a word about the hot tears soaking into his collar.

Even though he can feel the warm, whispering pulse in Blaine's neck, and even though Blaine does not leave until well after Kurt has nothing left to say or shed, this is not what Kurt wants.


"Now I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so must I be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes."

Before Kurt came to Dalton, there were only three things that distinguished Blaine from everyone else.

"Blaine the Warbler" is pretty obvious.

"Gay Blaine" is in response to the question "Wait - are we talking about gay Blaine, Muslim Blaine, or soccer Blaine?" All three of them were pretty active in school functions, but outsiders' confusion paled in comparison to when they had to talk to each other. Without using "gay/Muslim/soccer" or last names, because according to the dean, the first was "dreadfully unprofessional" and the second sounded antagonistic.

"Harry Freakin' Potter" is from his complete collection of Harry Potter books, the posters lining his side of the room, almost-complete collection of the movies (he is waiting for the moment Deathly Hallows 2 comes out), and his tendency to dress up like the eponymous wizard for costume parties. Wes started the whole thing after
one person too many asked who Blaine was going to be. "Harry freaking Potter! Who else?"

Wes' mother had trained him not to swear outside of home, and sometimes Wes winces after cursing as if she'd magically appear for the sole purpose of smacking him upside the head. When Wes' older sister has a video chat with him on Fridays, it's eerie to see them both look over their shoulders at the same time when one of them says anything stronger than 'damn.'

"Mom's Filipino," Wes explains one day, and Blaine empathizes because everything makes sense now. His own mother is Filipino, and though she's not as opposed to cursing as Wes' mom, she's adamant that being gay does not excuse him from being a "good" boy. Meaning of course, being polite, gracious, and selfless to the point of chivalry. "Your mom's traditional, isn't she?" Wes asks sympathetically.

Blaine's mom keeps asking when he's going to stop with the Warblers and start studying medicine or law. Not that he isn't a great singer, of course, but he can't expect music to pay the bills. Or in her words: "I was sixteen, I know how young people think, but you have to get ready for a real job soon. You're smart! Why do you waste so much time on singing?"

And Blaine tries to explain that just because he can study medicine or law doesn't mean he wants to, and it circles back into the youth-versus-age argument (and a hint of culture clash) with Mom's "Ay, Dios - always thinking of what you want! But you'll remember what I said when you're broke and starving, and then you'll wish you listened to me!" Then she storms off to her and Dad's room, sounding more like a six-foot-seven soldier than a five-foot-one dentist, and Blaine twists his hands futilely in her wake.

"You know how paranoid she is," his dad reassures him, coming out of the kitchen now that the danger has passed. Blaine knows that his dad will never be happy about him being gay, and they will never be as close as they used to, but it has gotten better over the two years Blaine's been out. "She just doesn't want anything to happen to you."

They have both heard his mother's rants countless times before: Living just outside Manila with three younger brothers and both parents working on unpredictable pay, she grew up hard and fast and escaped to America. One career, a husband, and three kids later, her youngest boy - the one with nearly everything - seems determined to throw all it away on a wild-goose chase and choose the life she fought so hard to get out of.

And maybe this is the different culture, different experiences, different life that's talking - but it hurts so much more when his mother is fed up
with his singing because she always, always acts like it's his fault.

"I knew it would come to this," he muttered. "I dreamed it differently, but I knew." He brought out a ring from which dangled several rusty keys. "You deserve the services of a great wizard," he said to the unicorn, "but I'm afraid you'll have to be glad of the aid of a second-rate pickpocket."

So the whole "confront Karofsky and stand up for yourself" thing... It didn't go as well as Blaine hoped. Over the month that he gets to know Kurt better, the countertenor becomes brittle and withdrawn. He puts up a very good front, admittedly, but nobody is better at appearances than Blaine.

He gets a call from Kurt one Thursday at lunch, where things fall apart after Blaine asks "You want me to come over this weekend?"

"Yes!" Kurt's voice cracks into pieces and if anyone has ever literally burst into tears, it is Kurt. He sounds like he's been keeping them in for so long that he just can't stop now.

Blaine has no idea how to deal with someone crying, at least not on the phone where he can't do anything to help. And he almost doesn't notice that the other Warblers have been slowly getting quieter as the conversation worsens from "I am a music-loving dork" to "Homophobic bullying sucks" to Blaine forgetting that he's in the Warblers' practice room and shrieking, "Holy fuck, Kurt - are you okay?"

And it's a stupid question, he knows, but Blaine can't trust himself to say anything else.

Blaine is pretty sure that everyone in a fifty-mile radius can hear when Kurt lists every single reason why he isn't okay. Starting from closeted-homosexual-and-almost-stalker Karofsky who has threatened several times to kill him if he tells someone what happened.

He is pretty sure randomly kissing someone out of the blue counts as sexual harassment, and even if it doesn't there's some sort of legal term for threatening to kill someone you've constantly been bullying. And his suspicions of why none of Kurt's friends notice what's right in front of them are confirmed when Kurt spills that he's not afraid of them, or what they'll think; he's afraid for them, and what heartwarming actions they'll take in his defense that will send Karofsky after them, which might be enough for Kurt to... take a nap? In his car, with the engine on -

Oh god.

Oh god, what does he do? What does he do, what the hell does anyone say to that? Blaine sends a pleading look towards David, who is on his way to becoming a psychologist, and he fights the urge to punch the older student as he shakes his head helplessly.

He should have known that David would feel too involved, because Kurt's contact on his phone has the name "Horrible Spy" instead of Kurt Hummel, which is a sign that
David considers him a friend. For example, "Wins Every Bet by Losing His Soul" is Wes Kahale, "I Fucked Up Again, Please Help" is Blaine Anderson, and "I am Offended at a Completely Harmless Thing You Said" is Thad Green.

Kurt is crying in that stifled way that means he's either calming down or he's regaining enough composure to make people think he's calming down, so Blaine clears his throat. "I'm coming today. Where do you want to meet up?"

"Come to McKinley - I'll tell you how to get to my place."

At Kurt's response there is a spark of happiness flashing through Blaine's head that should not be, at least not in the ecstatic "I am going to Kurt's house!" way that sounds like a thirteen-year-old going to her first date. He pretends it's a shorter version of "Kurt isn't quite suicidal yet, and he's letting me come to his house to prove that this wasn't a freaky-accurate tape recording before he gassed himself in his garage like a Holocaust victim!"

"I'll be there when your classes end. Hold up, all right?"

"Bye." Kurt's voice is still raw and shaky, but at least the life is starting to get back into it.

"Bye." He hangs up to see the others staring at him uneasily, and he gives them a valiant attempt at a smile. "Uh, guys... I don't think I'll be at rehearsal today."

"Blaine, Lima is two hours away." Wes points out.


Wes sighs. "You'd have to leave now if you want to get there at three. Otherwise you'll be caught in traffic and the commute is going to double in time at the least."

"I only have English and Algebra, so maybe..." Crap, they have a paper due in English, right? Lucky him, because Wes is in Stahl's class, too.

"Wes, give my essay to Mr. Stahl, please?" He digs it out of his back and hands it over, pausing at how utterly stunned Wes looks. (For anyone else, raised eyebrows would only denote mild surprise, but on Wes it's a huge deal.) "What? This isn't the first time you've had to turn things in for me."

"I didn't think you'd actually go," Wes admits.

That should have been clear already, but Blaine lets it go. "Well, this is... it's kind of important."

"How important?"

He balks at the question as he rubs at the back of his neck, because a not-quite-suicidal friend is a really touchy subject and Kurt wouldn't appreciate others knowing that much. "I'm not entirely sure that this isn't life-or-death," is the only thing he feels comfortable admitting.

"God, just fucking go!" David practically shoves him out of the room. "We're Warblers, Blaine, we'll cover for you."

"I'm not entirely sure that this isn't life or death," Thad repeats after Blaine sprints out to the parking lot. "Who called I'm uncertain if this is a life-or-death matter for the 'what Blaine would finally say because of Kurt' bet?"

Wes raises his hand, though he does not look happy and he pushes the various five-dollar-bills away as they are held out. "I forfeit, though."

"Dude, you just kept a piece of your soul by forfeiting that," Nick congratulates him. "How's it feel?"

"Terrible." Wes sighs.

David takes out a notebook and crosses the phrase out from where it's written. "All right, since the bet is still valid," he announces, "the current stakes are on I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you - not to be discouraging, Martin, but even Blaine's not that sappy. Next is I want to fuck you into the mattress - Trent, you might as well give us your money now because this is Blaine. Last one is I've been waiting for you all my life. Jeff, you're probably going to win this one."


Thad shoots up from his seat in outrage. "We all agreed that the likelihood of certain bets will not be remarked upon -"

"Well, compared to Dirty Dancing quotes and Blaine being uncharacteristically direct, I've been waiting for you all my life is practically guaranteed."

"By that logic, Council Member Wes -"

"Wes doesn't count because he sells bits of his soul to the devil every time he makes a bet."

The other Warblers nodded in agreement.

"I was looking for my people," the unicorn said. "Have you seen them, magician? They are wild and sea-white, like me."

Schmendrick shook his head gravely. "I have never seen anyone like you, not while I was awake."

Lying in bed at night after having drove two hours back to Dalton, Blaine remembers three things: The smell of Kurt's shampoo, that weird half-focused look in his eyes, and how this all is happening because he told Kurt to stand up for himself. He watches his phone as it charges on the bedside table, trying desperately to find a way out of
this mess he's gotten Kurt in. Eventually he gives it up as impossible: The resilient, fashionable, amazingly talented countertenor who is almost too good to be true is slowly breaking under reality, and this is all his fault.

He is standing in a creaking wooden boat that he knows is actually Kurt's, and looks down to see green kelp forests lurking under the ocean's surface. The unending water spreads out to the horizon under stony clouds. When the boat scrapes something, Blaine nearly falls out and when he regains his balance, he is soaked. The water is cold and salty and oh god, it's already up to his ankles.

He grabs a bucket and starts bailing the boat out as fast as he can. When he looks beside him to see Kurt, who is quite unfazed even on his slowly-sinking boat, he is further annoyed because why the hell isn't Kurt wet? "Kurt, this is your boat! I am SO sorry, holy fuck -"

"This is how you lost yours, you know," Kurt chastises him, and when he steps closer the Dalton student skitters away.

"You know what'll happen if you get too close." The water reaches their shins in spite of Blaine's efforts.

"If you'd just stop panicking -"

"I'm sorry if I don't want us to drown!" And he panics even more because this might actually happen, having escaped from his head like a fleeing bird, and this won't make a whit of sense when he's awake, will it? "I especially don't want you to drown! Not because of me!"

"I can swim, doofus."

He really wants to dump the bucket on Kurt since he won't let anything affect him. "We're a week away from the shore!"

"You only think that's a lot because you'd try to go it alone."

He takes a deep breath to calm down, and also to keep himself from screaming because Kurt isn't getting that they're in way over their heads. Or maybe he does, and he just doesn't care, and Blaine is terrified because he's supposed to stay calm in the face of everything. "Why are you so calm about it?"

And now it's fucking raining, and he's crying so hard for so many reasons that he can't finish talking. He expects ice to start caking on his skin right here and now, and the rain will not stop and everything is his fault -

All of a sudden Kurt is next to him. So very, very close that Blaine sees spring-green leaves and the summer sky and gray stormclouds in his eyes. When he puts his arms around Blaine's neck, a heartbeat booms through the rain. It must be Kurt's heart, because Blaine tries to make sure nobody can hear his. Kurt becomes as drenched as if he'd plunged into the sea, yet he's so warm that Blaine can't stop himself from returning the hug.

Kurt says something that he can't quite hear, his breath searing over Blaine's jaw, and Blaine can smell the saltwater on his skin.

At 5:42 AM, he wakes up with half his blanket on the floor. He drags the blanket back onto the bed, curls up under it, and wishes he was back on the sinking boat with Kurt.

When his alarm sounds at 6:15, he dries off his face and pretends it was never wet.


"They see what you have forgotten how to see."
The Warblers have run through their longest bet in the last four months, which is "Kurt and Blaine will hook up within the next decade, it's just a matter of what will finally do it."

Brandon goes the classic route and bets five on Blaine serenading Kurt in the mall or outside his window or something, because Blaine is romantic like that. It's a false alarm, and everyone's mad at Blaine the moment he says "He works at The Gap." Even Kurt's mad at Blaine once he stops looking like a wibbly little Dachshund puppy who got kicked by the biggest douche ever.

"We're about to serenade a complete fucking stranger," Brandon fumes after practice once Kurt and Blaine leave the room. Granted, Gap Dude is only a stranger to them and not Blaine, but who's splitting hairs? "Has Blaine gotten permanent brain damage from his daily gallon of hair-gel?"

"Maybe Kurt secretly works at the Gap to fund his wardrobe?" David asks hopefully, and Wes rolls his eyes.

"Yes, Kurt's heartbroken look denotes utter shame at the awful truth Blaine's discovered - Kurt works at The Gap."

It turns out that Blaine accidentally got Gap Dude fired, and that he wasn't quite out of the closet yet, and that he feels uncomfortable about dating an underage guy (but they all know what Gap Dude means by "dating" - Blaine turned seventeen in November, and that makes him a whopping one year above the legal age). This ends in not one, but two heartbroken Warblers.

They decide to go easy on Blaine instead of ignoring him as planned, because dude.

David bets five dollars on a Christmas party and a diabetes-inducing song. Thanks to David giving Kurt a lion-shaped pin as a Christmas-present-slash-camera-trigger, they end up watching Blaine and Kurt sing a duet that could send an elephant into a sexually-frustrated sugar coma. ...And then Blaine leaves right afterward, leaving Kurt to
tell his former choir director how he feels about Blaine.

"- with him and he's actually gay. I call that progress," Kurt tells the man.

"...This explains a lot." David says slowly. "Wes and I'll be back in a few minutes, guys."

"The usual?" Wes asks, and David nods. Before the two of them head to the practice room, David takes a huge gulp of "non-alcoholic" cider.

"Hi guys, what's -"

"Kurt! Awesome!" David's movement is far too sloppy for one gulp of cider, and he latches onto Kurt with a scary-accurate version of his hazy, drunk-as-sin laugh.

"Is there a reason David just walked up and surgically attached himself to my neck?"

Wes is as calm as usual, considering David is several inches taller than Kurt and neither of the two look very comfortable. "Sorry, Kurt, I think someone spiked the drinks at the seniors' party."

Backpacks are unzipped and paper rustles as the seniors of the group scribble down a reminder to text the other seniors about the "Christmas party with spiked drinks" in case Kurt or Blaine runs into them next Monday.

"No, it's okay. Just startled me." The countertenor shifts in resignation. "At least he's not throwing up on anyone."

David wobbles impressively after letting go, a face-cracking grin plastered on his face. "Holy fuck, Kurt, you're actually wearing it!"

"What? Oh, you mean the pin! Yeah, thanks, it's really nice - grk!" David's grip has visibly tightened, and Wes shoots him a dirty look.

"David, get off our countertenor before he suffocates or gets his voice box crushed. We need him and his voice in Regionals."

"Actually, can I get another ten seconds?" Kurt asks tentatively. "I'm not feeling a lot of Christmas cheer right now."

"Of course you wouldn't after getting the mother of all cock-blocks from Blaine!" Nick tells the screen.

"Homesick?" Wes asks.

"...And another kind of metaphorical sickness," Kurt admits.

"Okay, that's just depressing," Martin remarks.

When David gets back, he receives half the ante as compensation since while Blaine's idiocy was well-known, they'd completely underestimated how stupid Kurt could get when he was in love. "It feels wrong to make money on someone's misery," he says. (Which doesn't stop him from taking it.)

Twelve of the Warblers match the bet on a normal party and/or a fuckload of alcohol. The win is another false alarm since Blaine and Kurt's post-party awkwardness turns out to be actual awkwardness, as opposed to "I just slept with my best friend who's been in love with me the minute I sang Teenage Dream to him, but we'll sort it out in a few days."

"So, Blaine, do anything interesting at the party?" David asks at breakfast with a grin.

"Uh, kind of."

"Sweet lord, you answered instead of politely backing out!" He gives Blaine a high-five, then notices that his blazer's sleeve is open. "Shit, my cuff-link's loose -
one minute."

"Sure, man." Blaine takes a sip of pomegranate juice.

David takes a second look at it - doesn't Kurt like pomegranate juice? - then turns on his cuff-link camera switch under the guise of adjusting his blazer. The Warblers snap to attention at the screen flickering on.

"- singing "Don't You Want Me" with Rachel, and then a few scenes are missing... aaaand I woke up in Kurt's bed with a hangover."

"Fuck yeah, get some!" Nick punches the air. "And I am getting some money -"

"- avoid you last week? You didn't do something wrong, did you?"

"What? No! Actually, I was... I was completely clothed and so was Kurt." Blaine chuckles nervously. "It's a long story."


"No." Nick states. "No, Blaine: That story better have ninjas crashing the party, we're-about-to-die sex and we-beat-some-fucking-ninjas sex with Kurt, dressing up again afterward to keep your parents from discovering the wounds, and a declaration in front of the fucking school that you and Kurt finally did it. And that you two are now gay ninjas, so bitches better not mess with you again."

The story has a distinct lack of ninjas, peril, and sex. Neither does Blaine confess his love for Kurt (or their new status as gay ninjas) in front of the entire school. In fact, the story involves a drunk Blaine making out with Rachel Berry, mistaking drunk-and-horny feelings for feelings-feelings (which means Blaine's obviously never had alcohol before, not that anyone's surprised), and Kurt getting mad because not only was Blaine being an idiot, Rachel once said that she'd always have a better chance at winning guys than Kurt because most guys are straight and she's a girl.

Wes raises an eyebrow at that. "Kurt went to her party?"

"- feel like an idiot when he told me that." Blaine finishes off his toast.

"And he's friends with her?"

"Apparently she's a lot better since Kurt's not competition for solos anymore." Beat. "Anyway, we sorted that out and... yeah, everything's good."

"It's NOT fucking good!" Nick insists, and Jeff grabs him out of habit as he tries to head for the door - no doubt to kill Blaine for being stupid. "Goddamn you, Blaine - I will lock you and Kurt in a room until you hook up!"

"Order!" Wes pounds his gavel. Everyone freezes for a minute - it's a long story, but Wes trained everyone like dogs to instantly respond to the sound of a gavel. Nick reluctantly sits back down while the council member takes out the notebook and crosses out "drunk sex during/after a party" with a sigh.

Only Blaine could have an actual story behind getting drunk, blacking out, and waking up in someone's bed.

Wes ups the ante to ten dollars on a duet at Regionals that wins them first place. "I really don't care about Regionals anymore - it's not like we're hanging by a thread like the New Directions." No one could have predicted that Pavarotti's untimely death would doom them to second-place. Or that there'd be a nun and an ultra-conservative on the judges' panel, which means they're lucky not to be so far down the list that they can't see daylight.

While Kurt sings a lovely rendition of Blackbird by the Beatles, there is a look of epiphany on Blaine's face halfway through that cannot be anything but love. Only a few of them are able to notice, with the shock of Pavarotti's departure uniting them in kickass harmony, but David is on it without a second thought.

"Did anyone else see Blaine's face?" He asks after Kurt leaves to find a coffin for Pavarotti.

"Let's hope this doesn't turn out like the Gap Attack," Wes cautions them. "For all we know, Blaine's been dating yet another non-Kurt person who has some tenuous connection to The Beatles."

"You are not ruining this for us." David declares. "I know my expressions of epiphany, man-there's "Oh god" epiphanies, "I'm in love" epiphanies, and "Oh god, I'm in love" epiphanies. Blaine was definitely the third."

The day gets better when Blaine says that he wants to sing a duet. Wes is still skeptical and everyone's still a little worried that Blaine will spring the existence of a Beatles-loving non-Kurt duet partner on them (which would mean one of the Warblers has fucking betrayed their own!), but then Blaine says there will be no auditions because he wants to sing with Kurt.

Sweet holy shit, this is actually happening. If someone walked in right now and saw all the identical smirks on their faces, they would be considered some sort of hive mind.

"All in favor of Kurt and Blaine singing lead at Regionals?" Everyone raises their hands immediately because it's finally happening, and even Wes is grinning like crazy because while they will only place second due to Pavarotti's death, he will still win two hundred dollars.

But the men had not yet reached the pasture gate when the white mare jumped the fence and was gone into the night like a falling star. The two men stood where they were for a time, not heeding the Mayor's commands to come back; and neither ever said, even to the other, why he stared after the magician's mare so long.

Since Kurt is adorable and wears David's pin to every Warbler meeting, David and Wes are now privy to the entire conversation that Kurt and Blaine have after rehearsal. Of course, it takes them a full three hours of camera-monitoring to actually get to that point because it would suck if Blaine and Kurt decided to resolve their epic sexual tension with not a soul to witness them. Within reason, of course - they're just going to get enough evidence to prove that Dalton's most obvious (recent) couple finally hooked up.

Not since Gary Renault and Paul Zhang got together has there been a such a stupid couple at Dalton Academy. The art students and the Warblers suffered through a straight year of phone calls, mopey sighs, painting/song trades, and "Gary's grief over his grandma's death gives me license to be a pussy and pretend that a relationship is the last thing he needs, even if the only change is admitting we even have one." Paul's incredible feat of denial has disturbing similarities to Blaine's idea that totally platonic friends go on twice-weekly coffee dates, get up in each other's personal space, and (before Kurt came to Dalton)
constantly text or call each other during passing periods and lunch.

When the betting pool for how Paul and Gary would get together started, Wes made an offhand remark that "I bet the only way they'd admit anything is if one of them nearly dies." The following October, Paul got a cold and had a freak reaction to his meds. It resulted in Paul blacking out in the library, Ms. Irons calling the ambulance, and a full forty people witnessing Gary's anguished declaration of love. (Also the revelation that they have said "I love you" before, as made evident by "No no no, I mean it this time - I love you!")

One week after Paul got back from the hospital, Wes was handed fifty dollars despite never placing a formal bet on account of "that is fucking scary, dude."

Yes, this is where the "sells his soul" jokes come from. And he is totally not paranoid about what he says; he just makes sure he doesn't say anything that could threaten a Warbler's safety again. Paul was one of the Warbler's basses. If countertenors are like VIP passes that vastly expand their song choices, basses are like the RSVP seats that need to be bought months in advance but mean they will never deal with annoying people - like that person who comments every thirty seconds. Or dear god, the parents who bring entirely-too-young children to shows like Avenue Q or Sweeney Todd, then act like they're the victims when their kids start crying in terror or asking uncomfortable questions.

...Something may have been lost in translation.

The third hour draws to a close, and the two of them have finished the first drafts of their Psych and History essays. (They may be obsessed, but they are not morons.)

"What's that?"

BLAINE IS IN THE SAME ROOM AS KURT, SWEET JESUS. The only thing that keeps Wes from jerking in shock and messing up his paper is the fact that he's more of a freeze-to-the-spot guy. The muttered "Shit!" from David says otherwise.

"I'm decorating Pavarotti's casket."

"Well, finish up - I have the perfect song for our number and we should practice."

"Do tell."

"Candles, by Hey Monday."

Wes rolls his eyes. "Blaine, that is not the perfect song for you and your imminent boyfriend."

"What's it about?" David asks.

"Person breaks up with abusive boyfriend and realizes how shitty he is. The tune's disturbingly romantic for a breakup song." At that, David rolls his eyes. For a great singer and a generally intelligent guy, Blaine has a habit of missing the point a lot. (Hint: KURT.)

"- something a little more... emotional."

That gets their attention. They move closer around the screen and David adjusts the controls to get rid of the static.

"Why did you pick me to sing that song with?"

"Because he's in love with you." David says in all seriousness, during a long pause that gets them a little worried.

"Kurt, there is a moment when you say to yourself... Oh, there you are! I've been looking for you forever."

"Looks like Jeff did win the sub-bet," David remarks.

And then Blaine catches bad logorrhea and starts talking. There are lots of pauses and the expression that looks like he's thinking before he says something this time. Normally people pick their words as carefully as he is because they don't want to sound like a chick flick, but this is Blaine and Kurt - they're practically a Lifetime movie couple, with Blaine being a talented half-Asian perfectionist and Kurt being adorable, blue-eyed, and miserable as fuck half the time.

If they were any more of a Lifetime couple, Blaine would be a lot more broody and he'd have had at least three attempts on his life. (There was that incident after a Sadie Hawkins dance that he doesn't talk about much, but getting the shit beat out of you isn't necessarily deadly.) Kurt would have been sexually harassed on top of the homophobic bullying. (David isn't sure if that didn't happen because when people look at Kurt too long, even just Blaine, there's this barely-noticeable cringe that he covers up with an imperious ahem and a glare that could freeze lava.)

"Watching you do Blackbird - that was a moment for me..." For one fleeting, terrible moment, they wonder if Blaine will fuck up again at the brink of success (it doesn't help that Kurt looks as skeptical as they feel), but then Blaine adds "about you" and they relax. His mouth works for a few moments before he can make sound come out again.

"You move me, Kurt." The way he says it sounds like he really, really, really wants to say "I love you" and chickens out at the last minute. Kurt can hear it, too, David can tell because of the tiny slip of a change in Kurt's expression, and it's a little heartbreaking that for once he's decided to listen to what's coming of Blaine's mouth instead of what Blaine's trying to say.

"Not everyone's a shrink in training like you, David," Wes reminds him when he spots the disappointment on David's face.

Kurt and Blaine don't have the best track record with love and courage, not when the other is involved, so Wes looks at David with the silent question of Should we save the blackmail for after Regionals?

Duh, David responds.

And as if this almost-confession isn't good enough, Blaine does what everyone's been expecting him to do since Teenage Dream (maybe a little before that) and kisses Kurt. For a moment they stare in complete disbelief - David actually makes Wes hit him to see if he wakes up.

"NO MORE UNRESOLVED SEXUAL TENSION!" David crows. Wes just turns off the monitor, but he does allow himself another smirk at the two-hundred dollars about to come his way.

Their faces were as beautiful as though they had never known fear.

When it's time for Candles, Kurt starts out a little shaky. It's really not that surprising, considering that all of the Warblers have watched the tape. ("This duet is just an excuse to spend more time with you" - bad at romance, their collective asses.) It sounds a lot better than they'd expected with the acoustics of the stage, and if you don't pay attention to the lyrics it's absurdly romantic.

Judging by how every female in the audience practically melts in their seat, they're fine on the "not paying attention" front.

As the song goes on, the room lights up with the warm yellow glow of every single person waving an electric candle. They'd really only given those out as a joke and didn't expect such a unanimous reaction, but it is really, really good.

Because something changes in Kurt and Blaine, lights them up from the depths of their bones. Their voices fill the room like a flood, and suddenly nobody cares that Kurt is too sharp or that Blaine's just barely off-tempo during his solos. Wes curls his hands into fists to keep them from shaking too hard, and he sees people in the audience crying.

The Warblers have made people cry before, but never like this. Some are moved to tears as usual, while others smile through them, while still others look like they really need a hug, while yet more actually leave the room because they can't control their emotions. Even a couple of Warblers take a second to wipe their eyes, because this is an entirely different level from rehearsal - no embarrassed laughs breaking the mood, no frazzled apologies for missing their cues, no holding back.

Because this is love, right in front of them.