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As he walked towards the ice-skating rink, Kurt’s mind was racing in every direction imaginable. How could this have all gone so wrong so spectacularly? His father’s first real visit to New York since he’d moved there had started off so well. For the first time in what felt like forever, Kurt felt that his life was finally moving in positive direction. He had delighted in showing off his new life to his father, wanting Burt to see that despite the shaky start he’d had, he was doing well in New York. Kurt had been looking forward to showing off the loft that had been transformed into a comfortable living space for Rachel and himself, and that he had stable employment as well as starting classes in the spring. He’d been so proud, wanting to show his father that he was not just surviving, but thriving.

Burt had seemed thrilled that his son was finally taking concrete steps towards the career that he’d been dreaming of since he was old enough to articulate his desires. In a few short months, Kurt had managed to navigate his way through what had been a crushing disappointment and showing that he should never be counted out. Kurt was so proud, feeling like he finally had accomplishments that he could boast about.

Then everything seemed to spin out of control when they were sitting at the café counter and his father dropped the bomb in his lap. Cancer. The same thing that had taken Kurt’s mother from him when he was a small child. After finally being able to let go of the fear he’d been harboring over his father’s health since the nearly fatal heart attack three years earlier, there was a new threat to their newfound security. Despite his father’s instance that the cancer was caught early and had a good chance for treatment, Kurt’s fears weren’t eased. That was what they told him about the abnormal blood tests revealed during her last physical.

Burt had seen the clear distress in his son’s countenance, realizing that his efforts to calm Kurt’s understandable fears were backfiring badly and that a distraction might be in order. Sending him off to the rink for his surprise present, he’d clearly thought, would hopefully shake his son’s mood and give him something to put a smile on his face.

Kurt wondered what his father had in mind. He’d hoped that it was a surprise visit from Finn, as they hadn’t seen one another since both of their romantic relationships exploded in their faces. And to be honest, after the news he’d just gotten Kurt needed his “big brother”. They could support one another, because if he was feeling so distraught, Kurt could only imagine that Finn was also upset. Both of them knew the pain of losing a parent, and Kurt couldn’t imagine anyone else that he could talk to about the emotions coiling in his belly. He was torn between wanting to throw up and jumping up to the heavens to punch whatever god thought to have yet another chuckle at his expense.

His father had instructed him to put on a pair of skates and his gift would be on the ice. Lacing up the rented skates, Kurt hoped that Finn was hanging out by the wall while waiting for him because his brother wasn’t the most coordinated person under the best of circumstances. And he was tall, so a fall on the ice could really hurt him. This was such a stupid idea, Kurt mused as he stepped onto the sheet of smooth ice and glided around the rink to look about. He would have been more than happy to just have Finn arrive with his father at the loft, though waiting until Rachel had left for her holiday trip wasn’t a bad idea.

“Kurt!”

Kurt felt himself freeze in place as the familiar and unwelcome voice reached his ears. Dreading what he was about to find, he turned and saw Blaine skating up to him through the crowd of other skaters with a bright smile on his face. Kurt felt his throat tighten and his eyes were stinging. Suddenly, the weeks since they last saw one another vanished and despite his words of forgiveness, the hurt that came with Blaine’s admission came roaring back. The wound on his heart that he’d thought was healing was torn open anew.

The smile on Blaine’s face stiffened when he saw Kurt’s instinctive reaction to his presence. He inched closer and seemed surprised when Kurt all but scrambled back to keep a distance between them, his blades scraping against the ice.

“What are you doing here?” Kurt demanded, looking about frantically. This couldn’t be what his father had intended to be his “gift”.

Blaine smiled more openly, as if the answer was obvious. “Your dad brought me,” he explained, confirming Kurt’s worst suspicious. “He thought that you would want to see me because he had some big news for you. You know… for support.”

Kurt felt himself shaking his head, not quite believing what was happening. “He said that this was a gift,” he said confusedly, his mind not able to grasp just what was happening. He hadn’t wanted this. He’d never told his father that he wanted this. What the hell had his father been thinking?

Blaine raised both his hands, as if trying to reassure a skittish animal and Kurt felt his anger starting to kindle. How dare Blaine act like he needed to be managed?

“It’s okay,” Blaine assured his ex, using that placating tone that Kurt had grown to hate. “We talked and he thought that you’d want someone here for you right now. I missed you so much and wanted to be here for you.”

The loudspeakers began to play a cheerful Christmas song and Blaine’s expression lit up. “Hey, remember when we sang together for Christmas?” he asked. “Come on… this can be fun.”

Fun? Kurt couldn’t remember ever wanting less to have fun in his life. He realized that Blaine was expecting Kurt to sing with him and skate around like he didn’t have a care in the world.  It would be cheesy and juvenile, but they’d laugh and then he’d kiss Blaine because that was what always happened when they sang together.

This had to be some kind of a sick joke, he thought as anger began to replace the shock that had sent him reeling. And he needed to get away and try to make sense of what was going on before he punched his ex. There was no way that his father would have thought that surprising him with his ex-boyfriend would have been a good idea by any stretch of the imagination. And if he did, then they were going to have a serious talk about boundaries and Burt assuming what was best for his son.

Blaine had to have seen the conflict of emotions in Kurt’s face, the shock and anger warring for control with anger starting to win out. He smiled in the way that he had done in the past when trying to appease Kurt, but that smile faded when he saw that Kurt was very upset with his presence and didn’t appreciate being taken by surprise. Whatever tentative steps they might have made over the past few weeks brief phone calls and texts evaporated under Blaine’s presumptiveness that Kurt would want him there. Especially at that moment.

Kurt felt himself rushing off the ice, because if he stayed there, he very well might punch out his ex and he had no desire to spend the night in jail. His blades struck awkwardly on the solid ground as he looked about for a place to sit so he could undo the laces. He tore at them, trying to get out the knot so he could get his shoes on and get the hell away from this insanity. He was breathing hard and if he didn’t get these damn skates off, he was going to have a full-blown panic attack. Now where the fuck were his shoes?

By the time he’d retrieved his shoes from the rental booth and got them back on his feet, Kurt retained his composure and considered his options. Going home and locking the door sounds like a fantastic idea. Moving to Singapore sounded like an even better one. Anything to get away from his ex who was trying to get himself out of his skates quickly enough to pursue him.

Kurt yelped with a strong hand gripped his arm and he looked up in alarm to see his father looking down at him with an expression of clear concern. Burt moved to sooth his son, trying to calm his obvious panic.

“Hey, it’s okay,” he said pacifyingly, letting Kurt know that he was safe. “What brought this on? You’re acting like you saw a ghost.”

He did, Kurt thought to himself. One that he wasn’t ready to deal with. Between Blaine suddenly appearing and what his father had told him earlier, it wasn’t too much of a surprise that his nerves had been frayed to the breaking point. Kurt clenched his hands, his fingernails biting into his palms and finding some grounding through the pain.

“What the fuck is he doing here?” he demanded, not bothering to even try to hide just how upset he was. He never cursed in front of his father and that alone should have warned Burt that something was very screwed up. “Why did you bring him here?”

Burt held his son’s arm gently but firmly, as if worried that Kurt was just going to just take off on him. “Can we talk?” he asked, surprised by the anger he saw radiating from Kurt. “I mean, I’m getting worried about you. I know that the news hit you hard…”

“We broke up,” Kurt reminded him, the tone on his voice coming out harshly. “I broke up with him and you brought him here. Why?”

It seemed to dawn on his father that there was a lot more going on than he understood. “Give me a minute to handle this,” he requested, keeping his grip on his son to keep Kurt from running back to Brooklyn without him. “Promise me that you’ll wait?”

Kurt inhaled sharply but nodded. He didn’t think he could actually run with the way the world was spinning around him. Dimly through the haze of anger, he recognized that he was having a panic attack and he’d left his meds at the loft. It had been so long since he needed them.

He watched warily as his father caught up with Blaine, heading him off before the younger man was able to get near Kurt. They were talking, Blaine obviously trying to argue with Burt but his father firmly making his instructions clear. Kurt watched Blaine’s shoulder’s slump when he realized that he was being sent away, his head bowed as he retreated back into the crowd.

Burt returned to his side, his expression calm as he tried to keep from further agitating his son. “All right, he’s gone,” Burt assured him, but Kurt couldn’t help from eyeing his father suspiciously. After all, Burt had brought Blaine there and the mistrust was apparent in his eyes.

“Where is he going?” Kurt demanded, wanting to make sure that there was no chance of Blaine coming back. There were just too many times when Blaine ignored what others asked of him, doing what he wanted regardless of who it hurt.

“I sent him to get a hotel room for the night,” Burt insisted calmly, knowing that trying to reason with Kurt when he was in this state was pretty pointless. He would have to wait until Kurt had calmed down enough to talk.

“I don’t want to see him,” Kurt snapped again, wanting to make sure that there was no question about his desires.

Burt nodded quietly, recognizing just how serious Kurt was. “If you don’t want to, I won’t force you to,” he assured his son calmly. “We’re just going to talk and if you don’t want to see him, I’ll make sure he goes home tomorrow.”

Kurt absorbed what his father was saying, carefully appraising his assurances before nodding his acceptance, his movements sharp and jerky. He knew that he was obviously still very much on edge and was glad that his father was aware that he needed space and a bit of gentle handling. He felt too much like a bomb, ready to go off at the least provocation.

Burt smiled softly, maintaining an air of calm that Kurt recognized him adopting whenever Kurt was upset. It usually succeeded in soothing his anger, or at least not instigating him further. Kurt knew that it had been quite some time since he had seen Kurt in this state, but he knew Kurt well enough to recognize what needed to be done. “Come on. Let’s go walk a little bit,” he offered. “You can show me around some more.”

Kurt wasn’t in the mood to play tour guide, but he recognized that his father was trying to give him room to calm down and distract himself. Burt was careful not to invade his son’s personal space, staying by his side but not crowding him. He kept his tone calm and casual, asking questions about any trivial thing that came to mind as they took in the Christmas lights and store decorations. Over the course of the next hour, Kurt’s replies began to evolve from monosyllabic responses to actual sentences. By the time Burt saw the tension in Kurt’s body finally start to ease, Kurt seemed more or less back to his old self.

“Hey, you want to head back to your place?” Burt asked, keeping an eye on his son’s reactions. “It’s getting late and I’m kind of tired. It’s been a long day.”

Kurt nodded. He was getting tired too. Between the unpleasant news his father had revealed and the unexpected confrontation with his ex-boyfriend, he was drained mentally and physically and all he wanted at the moment was to go back to his safe place and forget that this evening ever happened. He wanted to ignore the fact that his ex was in New York, waiting to confront him and just upend whatever peace that he’d managed to scrape together for himself. It was shocking at how everything that Kurt had managed to accomplish for himself was so precariously balanced and the least effort by Blaine could knock it all asunder.

They arrived back at the loft and if his father thought it was odd that Kurt immediately locked the door the instant they were inside, he didn’t say anything. He could feel his father’s eyes on him as he walked about the loft, as if to assure himself that his territory was secure and taking a few moments to recenter himself. Kurt knew that his father had to be burning with curiosity about his reaction to seeing Blaine, and he knew that this was going to be a painful but long overdue discussion. He just… he needed a moment before he was ready to delve into that can of worms.

Kurt went to the kitchen to put on a kettle to make some tea, considering if he needed to take his Xanax but decided against it. He was calm enough, and he wanted to have his wits about him when he spoke with his father. Once he had their tea ready and sweetened with enough honey to certainly cause a cavity, he rejoined his father in the living room area.

“You okay, sport?” Burt asked, not bothering to hide his concern. “That was quite a reaction that I wasn’t expecting.”

Kurt sighed and nodded. “Sorry about that,” he said sincerely. “I think that I just got overwhelmed. You know… first with the news that you dropped on me and then Blaine… My brain just short circuited there.”

Burt nodded, his gazed softening. “And that was my fault,” he admitted regretfully, recognizing what had triggered Kurt’s outburst. “I shouldn’t have just dumped it on you like that. But Kurt… I’m serious. The doctors are sure that they caught it early. They said that I’m strong and I’m going to be starting treatment very soon. I’m going to be here a good long time.”

Kurt’s expression slipped into a tense smile, trying to find comfort in his father’s assurances. He very much needed it. “That’s good,” he said softly.

Burt reached out to gently touch his son’s hair; the first time he tried to even reach out to Kurt physically since that mistake in the park. “I’m sorry that I told you the way I did,” he insisted. “I know that after everything, there’s no good way to tell you but I didn’t want to just tell you over the phone. I knew that you wouldn’t take the news well and I wanted to be there when you found out.”

Kurt nodded evenly, accepting that his father really did have his best intentions about this whole mess. That did leave one point that Kurt wasn’t as inclined to overlook.

“And Blaine?” he demanded. “Did he know about this before you brought him here?”

The very idea that his father might have told Blaine about his diagnosis before Kurt just rekindled the anger within him again. “Did he know why you were bringing him?” he demanded sharply. “Did you tell him about your diagnosis before you told me?”

“No! Of course, I didn’t,” Burt insisted, seemingly offended that Kurt would even entertain such a notion. “Kurt, I might not be the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but I’m not that dense. I just told him that I had something serious that I needed to discuss with you and that you would probably need his support afterwards. He was happy to come along to help.”

“Yeah, I’m sure he was,” Kurt noted sourly. “I’d been trying to avoid him coming to New York since we broke up. You did remember that I told you that we weren’t a couple anymore, right?”

“Yes, I remembered that,” Burt responded with a trace of the dry Hummel sarcasm. “You know, bud, I’m starting to get the impression that there was a lot more about this…”

“Blaine cheated on me,” Kurt interrupted bluntly. He’d been avoiding telling his father, but there was no putting that admission off any longer.

His father just stared at him, his jaw practically in his lap. “What?”

Kurt pursed his lips and nodded tightly. “I was in New York for a just a few weeks and I guess he didn’t like not having my undivided attention every waking moment. You know, in between working and paying rent and putting food on the table. I was too distracted to help him choose his bow ties for the day or worry about him not getting the focus with New Directions that he felt he deserved.

“So instead of talking to me that he was feeling neglected or that he wanted to break up because our relationship was no longer working for him, he finds himself a random to screw around with and then comes to New York and acts like nothing’s wrong. Until he started blubbering during a performance and I confronted him,” Kurt explained, his tone sharp and biting with anger that he’d been pressing down for far too long.

He knew that his father believed him, because he would never admit to anything like this if it weren’t the truth. Kurt rarely would speak about his troubles, so when he did actually admit to something, his father would know that he was serious.

“Aw, shit… why the hell didn’t you tell me?” Burt asked, but then the answer became obvious. “Forget that… the day you actually say that something is wrong when it happens…”

Kurt offered a small smile of contrition. “I’m sorry, Dad. But I was so hurt and embarrassed and…” He handwaved away his excused. “I should have told you much earlier.”

“Yeah, you should have,” Burt agreed gruffly. “Kurt, I’ve got to be honest here… you not telling me things makes it very difficult for me to do right by you. I would never have brought Blaine if I’d known he did that to you.”

Kurt nodded, having to grant his father that point. He did have an old and deeply seated habit of keeping things to himself and often only revealing them to his father when the situation went totally out of control. And knowing that Blaine would never tell the truth about why they’d broken up, Kurt recognized that he’d set his father up to do just something like this.

He looked to his father, his gaze turning flinty as he contemplated his eyes. “What did Blaine tell you?” he demanded. “Because I know that he would have tried to paint our breakup in a way that wouldn’t make him look like a complete asshole.”

Burt huffed a bit, not liking being put on the spot but owing his son a proper explanation. “It’s not like I saw him all that much,” he insisted. “I wasn’t going out of my way to see him, but he’d stop by the shop once in awhile when I was in Lima. He’d ask about you and how you were doing. I kept it very casual since you two weren’t together anymore.”

“And he didn’t try to tell you anything about we broke up?”

“Not really,” Burt explained. “I did ask what happened and he said that it was a distance thing. It seemed like a reasonable answer so I didn’t push.

“And to be honest, I did think that maybe putting you two together might help you talk through whatever difficulties you’d had,” Burt acknowledged. “I’ll admit it… it was not my best idea. I made an assumption that I shouldn’t have.”

To be fair to his father, it was easy to see how he would have bought Blaine’s story, Kurt considered. It was a very sanitized, plausible explanation and just close enough to the truth that it allowed his ex to avoid any judgement on his behavior. Distance surely had been a factor, but it was more about Blaine not liking his favorite cheerleader being so far away and not being in the position to give him undivided attention. Looking back on what had been a clearly unhealthy dynamic, Kurt thought that it was probably inevitable that their relationship was going to fall apart once they were no longer living in one another’s back pockets.

His big mistake, though, was not telling his father right away just why he’d broken up with Blaine. Because that left just enough of an opportunity for Blaine to take advantage of. In the end, he couldn’t blame his father. Sighing to himself, Kurt recognized that he had to start getting over his tendency to hide his misfortunes from his father. He knew that Blaine would never have gotten a chance to wheedle his way into his father’s trust if he’d told his

“Bringing my ex was a terrible idea. Regardless of why we broke up,” Kurt pointed out, taking a sip of his cooling tea.

Burt sighed, running his hand over his hair. “Yeah, I get that,” he acknowledged. “The only thing I was thinking of is that you’d need some kind of support when I told you about this and Blaine insisted that he could help you. Maybe I should have done a little more digging about what happened but he’d always seemed to make you so happy. I would never have asked him to come of I’d known that he was stepping out on you.”

Kurt chuckled ruefully, shaking his head. “And you couldn’t bring Finn?” he asked. “We could have helped each other, because if I took the news badly, I don’t want to think about how he’s handling it.”

“We’ll call him a little later,” Burt promised, knowing that Kurt would want to talk to his brother. “He took the news better than I thought he would, but I think you both would feel better if you talked.”

Kurt nodded, the clench in his gut that had settled there since they’d sat in the café finally started to ease.

Burt reached out to grasp his son’s hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “But you’ve also got to promise me that you’re going to start talking to me,” he insisted. “Not just about the easy stuff. I’m getting tired of having things blow up on my face because I don’t know what’s really going on in your life. All it ends up doing is hurting both of us.”

Kurt huffed, knowing that his father was right. His habit of hiding his problems often came back to bite him. One would think by now that he would have gotten it through his skull that it just didn’t work. And he wasn’t being fair to his father. While he still thought that bringing someone’s ex to surprise them was never a good idea, he couldn’t honestly blame his father’s train of thought.

Burt offered his son a gentle smile. “It’s going to be all right,” he assured Kurt.

Kurt wanted to believe him. It was hard, given all of the disappointments he’d faced over the past few years but he very much wanted to hope that when he woke up, the day would be a better one.

* * *

One thing that Kurt had very much grown to love since he arrived in New York was a proper bagel. The first time he’d gotten to enjoy one, he couldn’t help from marveling at how different it was from the soft, pasty white-bread circles that were found in Lima. And while they might be empty carbs, he enjoyed them so much that once a week, he allowed himself the indulgence.

While his father was showering, Kurt ran down to the shop a few blocks from the loft to pick up a few, along with fresh cream cheese and some lox. It would make a perfect easy breakfast and he was happy to indulge his father a little bit with a treat.

When he opened the door, his father was already dressed and in the living room talking on his phone. Kurt grinned and held up his bag of treats, getting a smile from his father before Burt returned to his call.

“No, that’s not a good idea,” Burt warned. “He hasn’t changed his mind and to be honest, I’m not exactly thrilled that you didn’t tell me just what happened between the two of you.”

Realizing that his father was talking to Blaine, Kurt sighed and carried his bags into the kitchen. He wasn’t at all surprised that Blaine was inquiring if Kurt had changed his mind about seeing him, but he was glad that his father had his back. He was angry enough with Blaine refusing to take any responsibility for how their relationship broke down, but having Blaine taking advantage of his father was enough to inspire a nearly murderous rage.

“Yeah, it would have been nice to know why Kurt broke up with you because I sure as hell wouldn’t have asked you to come along,” Burt snapped. “He doesn’t want to see you so the best thing is for you to go home. Kurt will be in touch when and if he wants to talk to you.”

Burt listened to Blaine was saying and judging from the vein starting to bulge on his forehead, Blaine was trying to badger Burt into letting him come over.

“Yeah, that’s not going to happen,” Burt responded, his tone growing sharp. “Now this what you’re going to do… You’re going to go to the airport and get onto the first flight back to Ohio. And if on the off chance Kurt decides that he wants to talk to you, he’ll be in touch.”

He hung up the phone and looked apologetically to his son. “Sorry about that,” he said with a rueful smile. “I didn’t realize what a manipulative little shit he could be.”

“It’s his greatest talent,” Kurt quipped offhandedly. Not wanting his ex to spoil the remainder of his father’s visit, Kurt turned their attention to more pressing matters. “Everything bagel with lox?”

Burt nodded. “Sounds good.”

The remainder of the morning was pleasant, with the pair of them enjoying their breakfast and discussing Kurt’s classes for the upcoming semester. Burt listened patiently to Kurt’s excited explanation of the courses he was signed up for but couldn’t help from frowning at just how heavy a course load he would be taking.

“Don’t you think that’s a bit much?” he couldn’t help from asking. “Between school and work, you’re not leaving yourself a whole lot of time for anything else, and I don’t want you to burn yourself out.”

“I’m a semester behind,” Kurt reminded him with a patient smile. “And it’s really not that bad. My advisor is pretty confident that with this semester and a couple of summer courses, I can be completely caught up by the end of the fall semester.”

“Just so you don’t overdue it,” Burt advised calmly. Kurt was a grown man now and would need to manage his own life, but his father couldn’t help from worrying.

“I won’t,” Kurt assured him. “I’ve going to get my dance requirements out of the way before I take on too many other physical courses like stage combat. And I’ve got my group class and private voice lessons, so that should get me up to speed pretty quickly.”

It would have been easier if he had gotten admitted for the past semester, Kurt mused. But he couldn’t change the past. He could only adapt and move forward. And to be totally honest, he was looking forward to the work awaiting him. Unlike Rachel, who seemed to take any criticism as a personal attack, no matter how constructive, Kurt genuinely wanted to grow as a performer. He needed to develop proper technique if he intended to have a lasting career and if pushing himself hard for a few months was the way to make it happen, he’d find some way to endure. After everything he’d been through in life, this was going to be a piece of cake.

They were cleaning up from breakfast when a tentative knock at the door caught their attention. Burt looked over to his son and asked, “You weren’t expecting anyone, were you?”

“No, but it might be the landlord,” Kurt surmised. “He’s supposed to check the radiator in the bathroom. It’s been leaking a bit.”

While Burt dried the dishes, Kurt went to the door and upon opening it, was mightily annoyed to see his ex standing there with a bouquet of red roses.

“Blaine, what are you doing here?” he demanded, not letting the other young man inside.

“We need to talk,” Blaine insisted, his eyes taking on that pleading expression he employed when he believed that someone was being unreasonable. He held out the flowers that he’d brought. “I bought these for you. They’re your favorites.”

Kurt crossed his arms over his chest, refusing to take the flowers. “I thought that Dad and I made it pretty clear that I didn’t want to talk to you,” he stated firmly.

“Kurt, if you just…”

“No, we’re not doing that,” Kurt insisted with calm finality.

Burt heard their voice and hurried over to help repel the interloper. “Blaine, I told you to go home,” he reminded angrily. “I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to pull, but…”

“Dad, I’ve got this,” Kurt said calmly, not wanting his father to get worked up. “Let me handle this. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Burt looked dubious, but the glare in Kurt’s gaze left no room for argument. He didn’t need his father to protect him from his ex-boyfriend. He just didn’t need his father inadvertently opening doors for Blaine to weasel his way back into Kurt’s life. Kurt knew that he needed to set the ground rules at that instant for any relationship he and Blaine might have at that moment and in the future. And he needed it to be on his terms.

“Come with me,” Kurt ordered, closing the door behind him and not looking back to make sure that Blaine was following. He knew that his ex would go along, eager for any opportunity to argue his way back into Kurt’s life. Without another word, Kurt lead him to the landing on the stairwell where they should be able to talk without being interrupted. Kurt didn’t want an audience for what he was about to do.

He was really doing this, he realized. Because Blaine was not going to leave him any options. Blaine would never allow Kurt the freedom to decide what he might want out of their relationship going forward. He would connive and badger his way past any defenses Kurt might impose, and he clearly didn’t seem to care who he used to get what he wanted.

Once they were alone and hidden away from any inadvertent observers, Kurt turned to face his ex with a steely expression. “This ends now,” he stated with calm finality.

“Kurt, please listen to me,” Blaine all but pleaded. “I…”

“No! No more!” Kurt snapped. He refused to listen to whatever arguments Blaine might come up with. “You really have a set of balls, using my father to try to get to me. After I made it clear that I wasn’t ready to decide what I wanted to happen between us.

“Well congratulations,” Kurt said mockingly. “You made sure that the decision was going to be very easy for me. Because whatever misgivings I might have had about ending things between us permanently are over.”

“No!,” Blaine exclaimed, all but trying to thrust the roses into Kurt’s hands. “Kurt, you have to understand! This was the only way I could be sure that you would see me! I wasn’t intending to use you’re your father. He asked for my help and…”

“And you neglected to mention that the reason that you and I aren’t together anymore is because you cheated on me,” Kurt reminded him. “The reason I didn’t tell him myself is because I wanted the space to decide what I wanted and not to have his opinion of your changed if we did happen to get back together. Not to mention avoid the humiliation to having him know that my boyfriend couldn’t last for a month after I arrived in New York before screwing around on me.

“Not that I would have expected you to take ownership of your behavior,” Kurt granted. “Because it’s so much easier to blame me for daring to focus on my own life for a change. You could blame me for not being around instead of acknowledge that you are a weak, faithless child!”

Blaine’s eyes began to glimmer with tears, as if the realization that he’d finally pushed Kurt too far had sunk in. That he had finally crossed the Rubicon and there was no going back.

Kurt leaned in, his gaze burning like molten iron and pinning Blaine fast. “This is what’s going to happen,” Kurt instructed, his tone leaving absolutely no room for Blaine to try to argue his way out the mess that he’d made. “You are going to go home now. You will not call me, or text me or try to contact me in any way. You will not send me any gifts or try to reach me through Rachel.

“You will not go to my father’s shop and harass him. And you will treat my brother with respect. Because if I find out that you’ve been mouthing off to him, I will be telling him how you manipulated our father . And if you think that I’m angry with you, then you have no idea what is waiting for you when Finn finds out.”

Blaine made a small whimpering sob but nodded, finally accepting that Kurt was done with him.

“And before you get any stupid ideas, like applying to NYADA or any school in New York, it will do you absolutely no good in getting me back,” Kurt said with granite-firm finality. “We are done. Maybe we could have been friends, but you made it clear that I could never trust you ever again.”

Without a single word of farewell, or waiting to see if Blaine would leave, Kurt turned and returned to the loft where he found his father waiting for him. Burt was sitting on the couch, nursing a cup of coffee and had a decidedly worried expression on his face.

“Everything go okay?” he asked carefully.

Kurt turned an absolutely beatific smile to his father, the tension that had gripped him only seconds ago completely faded from his body. He sat down and leaned in to rest his head against his father’s shoulder, enjoying the closeness and the feel of his father’s strong body next to his. Burt chuckled and craned his head around to kiss the top of Kurt’s head.

Making that final cut from Blaine felt freeing in a way that Kurt had never dared consider before, and now understood that he’d been so foolish to cling to the ghost of something that should have been seen it its grave long ago. Maybe their breakup was inevitable. Maybe had hadn’t seen the faults in their relationship before, or just hadn’t wanted to. But making this final break gave Kurt a lightness of spirit that he hadn’t felt in… well, forever, it seemed.

He would start school in a few weeks with a totally blank slate, Kurt considered. Well, there was Rachel, but she was usually so absorbed in her own life that he would have the liberty to navigate his own path. No longer would he hold himself back, or pass up opportunities for the benefit of a partner who would only accept it as their due. He would find a new path forward.

Sometimes one had to turn towards a new direction, Kurt considered. It had been precarious at first, but he had emerged on the other side on his own two feet. And he was ready to face whatever the future held for him without an anchor holding him back.