Jesse wasn't sure when he'd turned into someone who actually cared about something as petty as someone else's high school romance.

All he knew was that he was home on break, Westerville wasn't that far away, and that a certain Blaine Anderson had never been one to deal with disappointment in a way that most sane people consider healthy. So when Jesse had done his bi-monthly facebook log-in – the only purpose of which was to check and update his fanpage – and saw that Blaine's status read, 'I suppose all good things do come to an end,' he heaved a rather impressive sigh and clicked on the link to Blaine's profile, determined to see what had the boy down this time.

Jesse remembered with almost painful clarity the first time he had led Vocal Adrenaline to victory. Just a sophomore and already lead singer, he had crushed Dalton's Warblers without leaving anyone thinking otherwise. And the third group they'd been competing against? So insignificant that Jesse didn't even remember their name. But one thing that stood out that day was the look on the tiniest Warbler's face, as if someone had just taken a baby dolphin and snapped its spine in front of him.

That tiny Warbler? Blaine Anderson as a freshman. Apart from that heart-shattering expression of disappointment – which hadn't rattled Jesse at all, so stop looking at him like that – there was nothing to set him apart from all the other uniform-clad boys. Except for the message and friend request Jesse had received on facebook the next day.

Hi Jesse,

I didn't get a chance to say congratulations in person, so… Congratulations! You and your club were fantastic at Sectionals. Too bad we didn't at least tie so I could come watch your club again, haha. I was hoping that maybe you could pass along some VA wisdom, actually. You're an amazing lead singer and I want to be a soloist too, so if you could spare a few minutes I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!

Blaine Anderson

The message had been so embarrassing that Jesse had considered deleting it and blocking the poor child. Surely it would be better for the poor kid to forget about his foolish message or the even more foolish friend request rather than have a patronizing answer stuck in his messages until he wised up enough to delete it. After all, the kid was only fourteen, and from Jesse's experience, most kids don't know how to write a proper piece of fan mail until they're at least sixteen. It comes along with the whole, "Holy shit I can drive now!" mentality.

Luckily for Blaine, his social ineptitude extended to his privacy settings on facebook, so Jesse was able to poke around a little to see why on earth this kid wouldn't just go to one of the Warblers for advice. Sure, he was Jesse St. James, but he was still "the enemy," and even most fourteen year olds are smart enough to understand the concept of boundaries.

It was almost too easy to figure it out. Blaine had "Kent Middle School" listed as his previous schools and Akron as his hometown. Obviously he would have gone to Carmel if he hadn't been shipped off to Westerville. Jesse even pulled out his eighth grade yearbook, flipping back to look at the black-and-white photos of the seventh graders, quickly locating Blaine's picture, since his name was alphabetically first out of the whole grade.

It took Jesse about four minutes of straight thinking about middle school to remember Blaine. But when he did, he burst out laughing. So this was the kid he'd just gotten a message from. Oh, Lordy, was this going to be a problem. He barely remembered Blaine, but what stood out was the kid who dressed like his mother had picked out his clothes, glasses and braces and acne all at the same time, walking around with his head bowed as if hoping the bullies would back off if he didn't acknowledge their existence. They had been in choir together, Jesse knew, but he never remembered Blaine's performance as anything special, unless that time he'd played the ukulele for one of Jesse's solos counted.

Oh, wait, it all made sense now. Jesse knew a thing or two about kids that got picked on, having been somewhat of a bully before he'd realized that it would come back to haunt him once he was big and famous, and he knew that they latched onto the first person who was nice to them. They idolized anyone who showed them kindness, no matter if that act of kindness was just a pat on the arm and a hurried, "You're a really good uke player," after choir practice one day.

Jesse flipped to the back of his yearbook, smiling when he recognized the loopy signature and the silly cartoon of a smiling ukulele. Yep, Blaine had definitely latched onto him.

So Jesse took pity on the poor child, accepting his friend request and typing out a quick response to his message. He got quite the "thank you so much!" message in return, and Jesse was actually impressed with how Blaine handled himself from then on. Sure, he 'liked' Jesse's statuses a bit too consistently and he clearly didn't understand that Jesse's default answer of "I'm busy," every time he popped up on facebook chat translated to "Go away," but really, Jesse couldn't complain. And once Blaine started growing into himself and realizing that he wasn't the little kid who got picked on anymore, they were able to form a relationship of almost-equals. Because Jesse is always superior.

But if there was one thing Jesse had learned about Blaine through their online interaction, it was that he was overly dramatic. The kid could look all calm and put-together on the outside, but then he'd write a facebook note about something really depressing and his status would be a quote from some emo rock band. There was almost always a hidden meaning, and Jesse probably wouldn't have given the kid a second glance if he hadn't known what he'd been put through during middle school. Blaine had obviously transferred to Dalton for a reason.

Their friendship offline started to form a while later. Blaine turned up to Vocal Adrenaline's invitationals and Jesse was kind enough to invite him out to coffee afterward. Even though they'd both gotten caffeinated drinks, there had been something calming about sitting together drinking lattes, and both of them had been relaxed enough to actually open up a little and get to know one another.

It turned into a monthly thing. The first weekend of every month, Jesse would drive out to Westerville for a latte and some soul-baring. He watched Blaine go from an awkward little freshman into a confident and rather dapper junior, with a smile that attracted way too much attention for his own good and a voice that even Jesse would admit was good.

And when Blaine's facebook status was anything less than happy? Jesse would comment with a default, "Don't make me drive out there to dump a latte on your head," and Blaine would, of course, delete the status immediately and either tell Jesse it was no big deal or call him up and tell him what was the matter.

Which is why Jesse still cares enough about the now-senior to stalk his facebook profile to see what the problem is. He and Blaine had drifted apart since he graduated, though Jesse suspected that the fact that he'd egged Rachel Berry had played a part as well. Which was completely unfair, because Blaine had been the only person he'd been honest with through that whole ordeal.

Jesse scrolled through Blaine's profile, frowning when he saw posts from the members of New Directions, all telling him – some more eloquently than others – that he was a jerk. Jesse spied a little heart icon, next to which the caption read, 'Blaine Anderson is now single.'

He couldn't help but laugh. Blaine would be the type to make a big deal out of a breakup. He knew full well that high school relationships are almost always doomed, so why should his be any different? Jesse had quite literally proved that time and time again, most of his relationships lasting for a week, if the girl was lucky.

But Blaine had always been the romantic of the two. Jesse had actually picked up a few tips from him when it came time to "befriend" Rachel, not really knowing how to properly charm a girl into a relationship that wasn't about sex. And even then he'd been hasty and still wanted the sex part, although he was smart enough to stop pushing the matter when Rachel made it clear she wasn't ready. It was after that, after he'd known he had no chance of going that far with her, when he'd put some genuine effort into their relationship, finding that it was actually quite nice.

Shit, now he felt guilty for laughing. He couldn't even bring himself to leave his default comment on Blaine's status, because he remembered just how hard Blaine had taken his last breakup. The boy had spiraled into a pit of despair, and that was putting it lightly.

So Jesse closed his laptop, not even bothering to update his fanpage or answer any of the sixteen messages he had, and gave Blaine a call.

"What?" was the answer he received after the seventh ring.

"Hello to you too," Jesse said through a smirk. "Lattes? Four-thirty?"

"Go away, Jesse," Blaine's voice sounded muffled, and Jesse suspected that he was trying to smother himself with a blanket. Again.

"I'm not even in Westerville, you idiot," Jesse said patiently. "And I don't have to come out. It'd save me quite the drive. But you're moping and have depressing shit on your facebook and you'll just embarrass yourself if I don't come shake you out of it."

"Fine," Blaine agreed. "Four-thirty. Dalton's rec room. I'll put in a visitor's notice for you so they let you in."

"Good boy," Jesse smirked again. "But you know I don't drink the crap they serve in the rec room. We're going out, so I expect you to look presentable. You're not getting away with your Warblers T-shirt and Dalton sweats."

"I hate you."

"Love you too. Now, smarten up. It'll be four-thirty before you know it."

It really went to show just how well Jesse had come to know Blaine that he was able to narrate the rest of Blaine's day from that point on. At noon, when Jesse sat down to look over the homework he had to get done, he decided that Blaine was only just getting himself out of bed. One o'clock, when Jesse decided homework was beneath him and not worth any more than an hour of his precious time, Blaine would finally force himself to go into the shower and get cleaned up.

Jesse left at two, giving himself plenty of time to make the drive to Westerville, knowing that Blaine would just now be finishing trying to drown himself in the shower and getting out. While Jesse drove for the next two hours, he imagined Blaine staring woefully at his closet full of uniforms, debating whether to go with the blazer or the sweater. He always chose the blazer, and everyone knew he would choose the blazer, but it would take him about ten minutes to actually come to that conclusion today.

By the time Jesse pulled into the visitors' parking lot, he knew that Blaine would be running around his room, frantically combing his hair back and making it stay put with a layer of gel, wondering how on earth it had taken him so long to get ready. Jesse walked slowly to the recreation center on purpose, knowing that if he timed it right, he'd be walking through the door just as Blaine came flying out of his dorm building.

Success was his when he put his hand on the doorknob and looked over at Blaine's dorm, seeing the other boy tearing across the green towards him, blazer unbuttoned and flapping behind him.

"I am Blaine, king of the blazers," Jesse sang under his breath, spoofing the song from SPAMalot.

"Sorry," Blaine said breathlessly, coming to a halt at Jesse's side.

"There you go, got your adrenaline pumping?" Jesse gave his arm a pat, then took hold of it, steering him over to where he had parked. "Come on, let's go. It's time for me to laugh at your troubles."

"Shut up," Blaine shrugged him off, suddenly somber.

"Oh please, you know me and you know you," Jesse shook his head. "You're a chronic moper whereas I choose to laugh at others' misfortunes."

"But only if they're your friends," Blaien continued, knowing Jesse's mini-speech by heart, "because laughing at the fate of strangers gives you bad karma."

"Exactly," Jesse grinned at him, unlocking his car and getting into the driver's seat. "So, Starbucks? Or are there any new cute little indie cafes around here that need our money more?"

"Starbucks," Blaine answered, buckling his seatbelt. "I'm not in the mood for anything unique or different or artsy. Give me something over-priced and over-commercialized with whipped cream on top."

"Okay, it must be really bad, because you never go for Starbucks over the indie places," Jesse commented as he backed out of his parking spot, visitor parking pass hanging from his rear-view mirror. "Was the ex-boyfriend into indie bands or something?"

"Please, like you don't know who the ex-boyfriend is," Blaine rested his elbow on his armrest, chin on his hand and staring out the window.

"No, actually, I don't," Jesse reminded him. "A certain someone decided not to talk to me after I egged Rachel Berry, which, I must remind him, is completely unfair seeing how he was the only person who knew how I truly felt through that whole ordeal." Jesse sniffed, turning off campus and adding, "Besides, I didn't even buy the eggs."

"You're a dick," Blaine told him, as if stating a fact.

"And you're projecting," Jesse countered. "I'm not ex-boyfriend number two. I'm Jesse St. James, who you idolize and want to be like when you grow up."

"Shut up," Blaine gave him a shove, but at least now he was smiling.

"Ooh, Jesse, tell me your secrets," Jesse said in a high-pitched, mocking voice. "I want to be just like you. Tell me all about being a star."

"Shut up," Blaine repeated, but Jesse knew by his tone that he was fighting back a laugh.

But Jesse heeded his words, playing his "Jesse's favorite showstoppers" CD instead of talking. He knew how much Blaine liked singing along to the big Broadway numbers whenever he was upset.

That seemed to work, too, with them singing along to classics like If I Were a Rich Man, Wilkommen, Let the Sunshine In, and Send in the Clowns. But when Don't Cry for Me Argentina came on, Blaine reached over and switched it off.

"You're right," Jesse said without thinking that maybe this song actually meant something to Blaine, "the rest of this CD is rather cluttered with Webber, and I'm not thinking too kindly of him at the moment. Why he thinks sequel shows are a good idea when clearly it's going to fail abysmally is beyond me."

"Shut up," Blaine repeated his words from before, but this time speaking quietly, turned towards the window again, and Jesse knew something was up. Rather than let it lie, he jumped on the conversation.

"So the ex was a Broadway boy too, huh?" he asked, pulling into a parking spot in front of Starbucks. "Which one of you sang that song, then?"

"Can we have this conversation after I have my artificially flavored drink?" Blaine asked the window.

"Of course," Jesse put the car in park and hopped out of his side, racing over to the passenger side and opening Blaine's door for him. "After you, my good sir." He added a little bow, hoping to make Blaine laugh. It didn't work. All he got was a shrug and a quiet, "Whatever."

Ouch. Obviously the song was a touchy subject, touchier than Jesse had anticipated. So he just bounded ahead of Blaine into the shop, already ordering for the pair of them by the time Blaine walked through the door.

"Here you go, honey," Jesse presented Blaine with his latte, attracting the looks of some of the other patrons. "Why don't we go sit outside on the terrace?"

"Jesse," Blaine's voice came out as a pleading groan. "Don't do this."

"Do what?" Jesse asked brightly, holding the door open for Blaine and grinning at him as they walked back outside. He let Blaine choose from the two free tables, not missing how Blaine picked the one furthest from the shop's entrance and closest to the road. How un-Blaine like. He was normally one to sit right in the middle of things, relaxed and engaging strangers in conversation.

"Don't do the whole fake chivalry thing," Blaine said dismissively, taking a sip of his latte.

"Why must you offend me with such accusations?" Jesse put his free hand on his heart, fixing a look of shock on his face. "How dare you accuse my chivalry as being anything but genuine!"

"Then at least tone it down," Blaine slumped back in his chair, body language suggesting that it was more out of tiredness than relaxation. "For instance, this is not a terrace; it's a fucking sidewalk."

"Language," Jesse's tone was patronizing and he smirked before taking a sip of his latte.

"Shut the fuck up," Blaine challenged. "And stop calling me 'honey,' when we go places. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I want people thinking I'm getting some. I don't exactly want a reputation to match yours back at Carmel."

Jesse counted to five. Blaine was projecting. He always ended up projecting onto Jesse whenever he was upset. Call it one of his bad habits, because he knows that no matter what he says, Jesse will still be there for him. So Jesse bit back his retort by taking another sip of his drink.

"So, who broke your heart?" Jesse managed with difficulty not to add 'this time,' to the end of that question.

"I don't want to talk about it," Blaine said evasively, looking at the door to the shop. His hand closed around his cup, gripping it tightly but not picking it up. Jesse noticed the tension in his hand and followed that tension all the way up Blaine's arm, into Blaine's neck, down his back. His entire body was stiff, though to a passerby he looked as if he was just lounging outside.

"At least tell me a name," Jesse all but pleaded.

"If you actually checked your facebook once in a while, you'd know," Blaine's tone was accusatory. Still projecting, still projecting. Jesse took another sip of his drink, knowing that at this rate he'd burn his throat if Blaine didn't stop the nonsense.

"I was at Regionals, you know," Jesse's finger started tracing the pattern on the edge of the table as he spoke, not meeting Blaine's eye. "I watched all four groups perform, and while I'd love to say that my loyalty to you as a friend extends to my show choir judgment, that would be a complete lie. Your club had nowhere near the originality as New Directions brought to the table. Rachel's solo was glorious."

And oh, yes it most definitely had been. Jesse hadn't made a big fuss out of being back for a visit, just popping in to visit Shelby and see his family before going back out to California. But he had made sure to go to Regionals, to see his best friend, his ex-girlfriend, and his old glee club compete against each other and a new group Jesse had never heard of before.

Jesse St. James is not the type of man who sheds tears easily, but when it comes to Rachel Berry leading her glee club and pouring her entire being into a performance… Well, there hadn't exactly been a dry eye in the house, so it wasn't like it was just him or anything.

"They still lost," Blaine reminded him bitterly.

"Well, Vocal Adrenaline puts in more work in one afternoon than both your clubs do all week. Combined," Jesse pointed out fairly.

"Except for you robots eight at night is still considered to be in the afternoon."

Was that a smile? Progress!

"What can I say? I got used to living off four hours of sleep on a good day and just drinking Red Bull in-between classes. It's a sacrifice which must be made, Blaine," Jesse looked at him seriously over the top of his coffee cup, then wiggling his eyebrows and gaining himself another small smile.

"You should try it sometime," Jesse continued. "Honestly, the constant adrenaline rush probably took about ten years off my life, but it's the best high you'll ever feel in your entire life. Performing onstage and being so damn jittery that you end up skipping every time you want to walk somewhere? It's better than drugs. Makes for an awesome lay, too. Going to McKinley was like culture shock. Except it affected my heart rate instead of my brain. Well, probably my brain too, but you get what I'm saying."

And that was when Blaine chose to shout.

"It's all your fault, you dick!" His posture straightened and he leaned over the table, not bothering to keep his voice down. "It' all your fault! Why'd you have to go to that stupid school in the first place? Why'd you have to be such a complete asshole and ruin my life?"

Well, then. Apparently the projecting wasn't over.

"Care to explain your sudden resentment towards your best friend?" Jesse asked calmly, taking another sip of his latte. "I believe an explanation is in order, especially seeing how you were the one person I was completely honest with throughout that whole ordeal." He sniffed, setting his latte down on the table and saying, "You're being completely unfair."

"No, it's all your fault!" Blaine repeated. "It's your fault my boyfriend hates me!" Then he paused, as if shocked by his own words. "No, it's your fault that Kurt's not my boyfriend anymore! I can't even call him my boyfriend because he hates me too much!"

"Well, that makes sense," Jesse shrugged, completely nonplussed by this new information. "I should have realized that you and Kurt were together. All those looks you two exchanged at Regionals certainly said enough to make that obvious. And although I appreciated the sentimentality and the added meaning this gave your songs, you may want to tone it down next year. Sure, in a more progressive society that would have given you bonus points, but we are still in Ohio, here."

"Excuse me?"

"Hey, I'm just being honest," Jesse held up his hands.

"Why can't you be a normal human being and sympathize with my romantic woes?" Blaine looked at his latte as if it had personally offended him.

"Because I'd rather get an explanation for why it's my fault before I even think about sympathizing with you."

"It's your fault because you're a dick who throws eggs at people," Blaine's justification made absolutely no sense, but the boy looked as if Jesse should be able to figure it all out on his own.

"Again, not my idea and I never even bought the eggs," Jesse ticked these pieces of information off his fingers as he spoke. "Elaborate further, m'dear."

Blaine scowled at the term of endearment. Jesse just winked.

"Why did you have to end up transferring back to Carmel right before Regionals and breaking Rachel's heart?" Blaine asked him, eyebrows furrowed together in a deep frown. "Do you have any idea the sort of emotional effect that's had on the entire group, not just Rachel?"

"Well, I assume they all have some rather serious trust issues," Jesse spoke as if commenting on the mildness of the weather. "Maybe added in a little paranoia when it comes to competitions and the people that are their competition, but that's nothing that can't be fixed over time. By the time they're seniors they'll have forgotten all about me, I'm sure."

"Is that why you never apologized?" Blaine pressed the issue. "You've been back in Ohio for every break you've had, even coming to Regionals. Why didn't you find Rachel and apologize?"

"Because it's easier to love from afar then jeopardize the already shattered emotions of the one woman who will ever be worthy of my eternal love," Jesse's airy tone certainly did not match what he had just said. "Why not let her continue to loathe me in silence, while I take it as my penance to waste away, never loving another for no other will ever live up to the perfection that is Rachel Berry?"

Blaine stared at him, gaping and silent, for a whole ten seconds.

"That makes absolutely no sense," he finally decided. "And besides, you don't get to rationalize stupid decisions. You're still a dick who ruined my life. By accident."

"Ex-plain," Jesse enunciated each syllable.

"I can't transfer to McKinley because everyone will think I'm you!" Blaine slammed a fist down on the table. "Except nicer and with better hair and shorter and gay. But still!" The other fist slammed down as well. "They'll think I'm your mini, gay clone!"

This time it was Jesse who stared across the table, gaping and silent.

"Now that makes no sense," he decided, nodding once as if that settled the matter.

"Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense. You're just not keeping up."

"Did you just say that in a British accent?" Jesse raised an eyebrow.

"No," Blaine denied it a bit too quickly, picking up his latte and taking a sip. Jesse stared at him again, trying to work out what Blaine had just said before it clicked. Then he reached across the table and smacked Blaine on the side of the head. After he had lowered his drink from his lips, obviously.

"Don't quote Doctor Who at me, Blaine Anderson," Jesse pointed an accusing finger at the boy. "Just because you carry a pocket watch does not give you the right to use the Doctor's words in everyday conversation like that. Speaking of which, what time is it?"

Blaine reached into his pocket, making quite the show out of opening the heavy, golden pocket watch, a smirk flitting across his face. He looked smugly up at Jesse, adopting an accent again and saying, "It is about quarter past the fifth hour."

"Don't get all snotty with me; I still think your argument makes no sense," Jesse reminded him. "And I shall now prove your argument invalid and why you need to fess up and take responsibility for your own mistakes, rather than blaming poor me for all your woes.

"One," he held up a finger, "you and Kurt already had an established relationship at Dalton, proving to everyone that you are not taking advantage of him in any way. Two; you both lost Regionals. You're no longer competing against each other, so there is no reason for you to transfer to spy on them. Three; giving up Dalton's academics and guaranteed college admission would probably be the stupidest move for you, as a senior, to make. Four; clearly you and Kurt broke up for a reason other than your sudden desire to be the epitome of a clingy boyfriend, so transferring to McKinley where all you have is an angry ex? Not exactly the best idea."

He held up both arms, exclaiming, "Therefore: not my fault!"

"It's still your fault Kurt told me not to," Blaine looked absolutely miserable. "The moment I suggested it, he laughed and told me he didn't want me to 'pull a Jesse,' because that wouldn't do anyone any good."

"I didn't know my name was a noun now," Jesse nodded appreciatively. "I'll have to add that to my fanpage when I get home."

"But I wasn't doing it just for him!" Blaine insisted, choosing to ignore Jesse's comment. "Yes, I will admit that being with my boyfriend was the deciding factor for wanting to transfer schools, but I also need to face my fears and deal with my own regrets before I go off to college and lose that opportunity forever. I need to confront anyone who judges me because of my sexuality and tell them why they're wrong. I need to confront what I ran away from!"

"So go to a Christian college for a semester," Jesse suggested.

"I'm serious!"

"I am, too!"

"No you're not!" Blaine glared at him. "Come on, Jesse, you know how things were at Carmel. I ran from all that when I should have stayed and tried to educate people, tell them why they were wrong."

"So you want to give up a Dalton graduation, which would look absolutely incredible on any application for any internship or study abroad program you'll ever want, and go to a sub-standard public high school just so you can get slammed into lockers in-between classes?"

"Pretty much," Blaine nodded.

"And you expect me to believe that your boyfriend dumped you because you have some serious issues letting the past go?"

Blaine squirmed in his seat.

"Well, we sort of… fought about it. A little," he admitted.

"On a scale of 'your face is stupid' to 'I never should have dated you in the first place,' how bad are we talking?"

The guilty look on Blaine's face answered the question.

"I said some really stupid things," he told the table. "And I think I really hurt his feelings. But I didn't mean to, honest! It was an accident and I've been apologizing ever since."

"How long ago did this happen?"

"Three days ago."

Jesse couldn't help but laugh. Blaine's expression went from complete devastation to utter horror, which made Jesse laugh even harder. Hand over his heart, he managed to calm down, choking out, "Three days ago? You're expecting things to go back to normal after only three days?"

"I've called him to apologize every day," Blaine informed him, "but he hasn't answered."

"Well of course he hasn't," Jesse shook his head. "He's pissed at you and right now he wants to stay pissed at you because you hurt his feelings, you dolt! Come on, even you aren't dense enough to expect a running-through-a-field-of-flowers-to-reunite-with-your-estranged-lover scene after three days."

Blaine continued to look devastated, so Jesse pushed his chair out and slapped both hands down on his lap.

"Come over here."

"I am not sitting on your lap in public, Jesse," Blaine grumbled. "I'd like the people of Westerville to not think I hop on any guy who shows the slightest bit of interest, thanks."

"Please," Jesse waved this away, "every person in that coffee shop things we're dating, so you might as well get over here."

Blaine hesitated, then got up from his seat, sitting down carefully on Jesse's lap. Both of Jesse's arms went around Blaine's waist, holding him in place, and Blaine's head fell almost automatically to rest on Jesse's shoulder.

"How long has it been since you've had physical contact with another human being?" Jesse found himself asking, because normally it took a lot more wheedling to get Blaine to actually relax.

"Four days," Blaine mumbled, breath tickling Jesse's neck.

"No wonder you're depressed. You get worse than me when nobody's around to hold you and make it all better."

"Stop treating me like a five year old girl," Blaine's tone suggested that he was just that, but he didn't straighten up. In fact, he snuggled in closer.

That's when Blaine's phone started buzzing. Blaine fished in his pocket, grabbing it and checking the caller ID. Jesse knew who it was by the way his face paled and his eyes widened, and just how calm and careful his tone was when he answered and said, "Hello?"

"Blaine?" Jesse could just barely hear voice on the other end, and it definitely wasn't Kurt.

"Oh, hi Mercedes," Blaine forced a smile. That was when the phone exploded, Mercedes clearly ranting, though Jesse and Blaine were too caught off-guard by her sudden outburst to actually listen to what she was saying. Jesse held out one hand, gesturing for Blaine to pass the phone to him. He did so without a word.

"Hi, Mercedes," Jesse said when she stopped to take a breath.

"Who is this?" she demanded.

"It's Jesse St. James. Now, look, I –"

"Oh, I bet you two think you're clever, don't you?" Mercedes was off again. "I bet you two are sitting laughing about how you've both sufficiently screwed over our glee club and messed with my friends' hearts two too many times, aren't you? I should have known you were behind all this; it just smells like evil and that's just what you are, Jesse: evil. Good bye, and do not try to contact any of us again."

The line went dead. Jesse gaped at Blaine, who gaped right back, before collapsing back onto Jesse's shoulder.

"I had no idea she was gonna go all batshit on me," Jesse promised. "Here." He handed the phone back. "I really think we just need to let them all cool off for a while. Then you can try calling."

"This time it really was your fault," Blaine reminded him. "I hate you."

"No you don't," Jesse insisted. "You're just upset and you get melodramatic when you're upset." He paused, then grinned, saying, "So I'm gonna get you drunk."

"What?" Blaine was up and out of Jesse's lap faster than Jesse had thought was possible. He only stopped moving when he was certain that the table was securely between them. "Why would you do something that stupid?"

"Because it's fun?" Jesse shrugged. "Come on, I did it all the time in college. It's a great way to just have fun for a while."

"How will temporarily solving my problems and waking up with a hangover do me any good?" Blaine countered.

"Well, we won't get you drunk, exactly," Jesse remedied. "Just tipsy enough to loosen your inhibitions. That way we avoid the hangover problem and you don't suffer from major depression from too much alcohol. What do you say?"

"I know you're used to a big city and everything, but Westerville isn't that large. And Dalton's kind of a big deal here, so people know me, Jesse. They know I'm only seventeen and they would never serve a minor alcohol. Especially one they've come to respect. I worked hard for that reputation, Jesse. Do you have any idea how hard it is for an openly gay teen to get conservatives to like him?"

"Who said anything about staying here? You're coming with me to Akron."

Blaine looked like he wanted to protest, but Jesse just pointed at his latte, saying, "That thing cost me three dollars, and if I'm buying you more drinks later, you better appreciate this one and drink it all. Right now."

He watched while Blaine somehow managed to choke down his lukewarm latte with a smirk on his face. That smirk stayed in place for the rest of the day, remaining prominent on his face when they successfully got into a quiet little bar two streets away from Carmel High, one that Jesse claimed to have come to before.

"They never check for ID," he had shrugged, giving Blaine an encouraging pat on the back as they approached the door. "And even so, I'm Jesse St. James. I'm the guy who made it out of Akron. They love me here."

Indeed they did, for the bouncer at the door just gave Jesse a smile and ushered him inside, not even bothering to ask what he was doing or why he was here when he was so painfully obviously not twenty-one. The bartender even gave both boys a shot without being asked, grinning when Jesse slipped her a twenty and winked.

It took Jesse five whole minutes to convince Blaine to actually down the shot, already feeling his own working through his body. He flagged down the bartender and asked for another, holding it between himself and Blaine and saying, "Together, okay?"

Reluctantly, Blaine picked up his shot glass, meeting Jesse's confident stare with his own worried expression. But he nodded, and the two boys downed the shots in unison, Blaine wincing and coughing and asking hoarsely, "Is it supposed to burn?"

Jesse just slammed his shot glass down with a loud chink, waving for another.

"I thought you said you wanted to take me dancing," Blaine said, confused, after downing the next shot. "This place isn't exactly very lively."

"We start slow," Jesse informed him, turning Blaine's stool so he could look out at the rest of the bar, slinging an arm around his shoulders. "This place is quiet and dark and calm, the perfect place to start out with. Then we'll go to the gay club so you can get your fine ass noticed by some hot guys."

Blaine just stared at him. Jesse scoffed and laughed.

"Please, like you don't want to," he waved his hand airily. Blaine didn't deny it, and Jesse's smirk was back.

They stayed at the quiet bar for about an hour, listening to the songs people picked out from the jukebox in the corner, peering around the darkened room at the couples cuddling and kissing in the booths and the man standing in the corner, eyes closed and swaying back and forth in time to the music. Jesse paid a dollar to pick out a song, choosing Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody for reasons that were apparent from the nostalgia painted all over his face.

Then they left, heading further into town, stopping at a gay bar that Jesse admitted to frequenting quite a bit during his senior year, not to get drunk or even drink at all, but to pick up all the straight girls that got dragged along by their gay best friends.

It was a surprisingly relaxed place, the music only playing softly and the lights flickering between muted tones of blues and purples instead of yellows and reds. Jesse pulled Blaine up to the counter, ordering a beer and a coke, giving the beer to Blaine and keeping the coke for himself.

"Why do I have to drink the alcohol?" Blaine sounded almost whiney as he looked at the size of the glass he'd been given. "Why do you get coke?"

"Do you want a rum and coke instead?" Jesse raised his arm halfway in the air, beginning to flag down the bartender, but Blaine grabbed his arm and lowered it quickly.

"No, I just don't understand why you're not drinking but I am."

"Somebody's got to keep a level head and make sure you don't end up losing your virginity in a public restroom," Jesse said with a wink, taking a sip of his coke. "Plus this beer will probably be enough for you to loosen up and either dance with that guy who's been eyeing you since we walked in or spill your soul to one of the lonely lesbians sitting in the booths." He slipped an arm around Blaine's shoulders again, pulling him in close and whispering in his ear, "And always spill your soul to the lesbians, because they don't have ulterior motives." Then he winked, hopping off his stool.

"Where are you going?" Blaine sounded panicky.

"There are two straight girls over there," Jesse jerked his head over his shoulder. "They look sad and lost and it's my job to assure them that there are boys in here who will compliment their ass and not the jeans that make their asses look fabulous."

Blaine looked confused and a little bit lost himself, but Jesse just gave him a pat on the shoulder and crossed to the other side of the room. Smirk in place and running his fingers through his hair, he came to a halt in front of the two lost-looking girls, saying, "Hey there. I'm Jesse."

They giggled. He gave them both a none-too-subtle once-over, slipping in between them and putting an arm around the shorter one's shoulders and the taller one's waist. "So tell me, what are you two doing in a place like this?"

"They wanted to come," the girls said in unison, raising their arms and pointing to two boys who were shamelessly flirting with each other at one of the tables.

"We're their designated drivers," the shorter of the two explained.

"Why do you ask?" the taller one leaned closer into Jesse's touch. "Won't your boyfriend get lonely over there?"

"He's not my boyfriend," Jesse looked back over at Blaine, who was currently staring right at him, expression blank. "He's just a friend who really needed a night out. Unfortunately for him, he's terrified to death of alcohol or something."

"Poor baby," the shorter one's arm went around Jesse's waist. "Maybe you'll just have to show him how nights out are supposed to go."

He grinned at the pair of them.

"I couldn't agree more."

Even though he'd only had two shots, the advantage of being in a bar was that nobody else knew how much you'd had to drink. Jesse could pretend to be hammered and for all anyone would know, he was. So even though he knew exactly what he was doing and both of these girls apparently knew exactly what they were doing, all three of them let themselves go. Jesse began twirling them around in time to the music, switching back and forth between them and sometimes sandwiching himself between them, dancing with both at once.

The rest of the crowd seemed to follow their lead, latching onto a partner and dancing to the music that had started growing steadily louder and faster. Jesse could feel one girl's hands on his waist from behind, pressing her body against him and moving in time with him as he moved his hips against the other girl, barely remembering which one was which or that they hadn't told him their names. The one in front of him turned in his arms, his fingers brushing against her bare midriff as she locked her arms around his neck.

"This is fun," her voice was breathy in Jesse's ear, and he heard a murmur of agreement from the girl behind him in his other ear. He felt hands being removed from around his waist and fastening instead on his forearms, guiding his hands along the curve of the other girl's back, down along her waist and into the back pockets of her jeans. Her body pressed into his, lips finding the spot behind his ear and sucking a mark into his skin.

He felt laughter behind him, jerking him out of the moment and making him turn his head to see just what was so funny. The lips left his skin with a pop as he and the first girl turned to see what the other one was laughing at.

"I think your boyfriend misses you, Jesse," the girl behind him said as the girl in front of him started laughing as well, moving herself from Jesse's grasp. His hands suddenly felt cold, and the girl behind him turned his shoulders and gave him a shove. Stumbling from the sudden disorientation that came from the loss of that wonderful physical contact, Jesse's eyes finally focused on Blaine, who was coming toward him, eyes hazed over.

"How many more did you have?" Jesse asked him when they were within hearing range, but Blaine didn't answer. His arms went around Jesse's torso and he clung there, head resting on Jesse's shoulder again. Jesse lifted Blaine's face so he could look him in the eye, repeating, "How many more did you have?"

"Just the one," Blaine's words weren't slurred, and he seemed in control of his words and his body, even though the look in his eye begged to differ.

"Then you're not going to make any stupid decisions," Jesse decided. "Go on, find that guy who was ogling you and dance with him."

"Don't wanna," Blaine's arms tightened around Jesse. "I wanna dance with you."

"Jealous of my skills?" Jesse laughed. "Or are you jealous of all the attention I was giving those lovely ladies?" He looked over his shoulder. "Who seem to have vanished."

"They're not worthy," Blaine told him, pointedly making eye contact. "They're not Rachel Berry-level perfection."

"Of course not," Jesse agreed. "But that doesn't mean we can't have a bit of fun."

"Have a bit of fun with me," Blaine demanded, letting go of Jesse momentarily in order to slip his arms around his waist instead. "Let me touch you like you touched them." Jesse felt Blaine's hands slipping lower and knew where this was going, stopping the hands before they passed his waistband.

"Whoa, buddy," Jesse forced Blaine to let go of him, holding him at a distance. "I think you've had too much to drink. Let's get you home."

"I don't wanna," Blaine insisted, trying to get his arms around Jesse again. "Dance with me, please? You're the only person I like here."

"I'm the only person you know here," Jesse corrected him. "Come on." He managed to grab on of Blaine's hands, lacing their fingers together so he couldn't slip out of his grasp as easily. "Let's go." He pulled Blaine towards the door, not missing the reluctance showing in Blaine's posture and how – more than once – Jesse was full-on pulling Blaine to get out of the building.

Blaine crashed into Jesse once they were outside, his head resting on Jesse's shoulder from behind that time. Jesse steered him over to a bench outside the bar, sitting him down and trying to ignore just how awkward it now felt when Blaine curled up in his lap. He knew why Blaine was doing it, knew the alcohol had gone to Blaine's head a bit more than they had both anticipated, but his words from before about wanting to touch Jesse were ringing through his head, sending him into a panic.

Blaine's breathing evened out, until it was heavy and slow. Jesse leaned his head against the back of the bench, one thumb brushing absently against Blaine's waist. He wasn't tired and his alcohol consumption had done more to wake him up than knock him out, but soon his breathing matched Blaine's, exhaling on every inhale and vice versa. He let his eyes fall shut, feeling the thudding of the music still inside, strangely calming here outside with the night air crisp on his face.

Blaine shifted in Jesse's lap, nuzzling to get closer. Jesse felt Blaine's lips brush over his collarbone but marked it off as a coincidence. Then Blaine did it again. Jesse's breath hitched.

"What are you doing?" he asked quietly, slowly lifting his head back up, eyes adjusting quickly to the scarce illumination.

He didn't get an answer, but this time he felt Blaine press a deliberate kiss right above his collarbone. His breath hitched again, mouth open and coming out as a tiny gasp. Blaine seemed to curl into him, his arms encircling Jesse's waist, wandering fingers slipping under his shirt to touch his skin. He kissed the spot on Jesse's neck again, lips parted further this time, touching the tip of his tongue briefly to the skin before pulling back.

"Blaine," Jesse's tone was warning, but he didn't move. Blaine ignored him, drumming his fingers on Jesse's waist in time with the music still thudding inside, dragging his lips up Jesse's neck, humming softly as he did so. He shifted in Jesse's lap again, kneeling above him, when he reached Jesse's mouth and pressed a kiss to the corner of his lips. Their eyes met, and Jesse saw that same hazed look that Blaine had worn inside.

"You want me," Blaine told him, almost matter-of-factly. "Your pupils are dilated." Then he kissed him, actually kissed him this time, open mouth pressed to Jesse's and moving against it sloppily, before instinct took over and Jesse angled himself to reciprocate. He was gentle, fingers brushing across Blaine's face and his hairline, brain still playing catch-up with the rest of his body, stuck somewhere back around when Blaine had first nuzzled against him.

But Blaine was having nothing of the gentle, hands squeezing and mouth forceful, the alcohol clearly making him bolder and more aggressive. Jesse felt Blaine's body shaking above him, trembling as a clumsy tongue tried to make its way into his mouth. The other boy was making these whining, needy noises, and then suddenly Blaine wasn't above him anymore but sitting across his lap, straddling him and grinding against him, and Jesse wondered how it had taken him nineteen years to find out what it feels to have another boy's arousal pressed to his, moving against him in ways that made coherent thoughts impossible. All he knew was that this felt wonderful and that he'd definitely have to re-evaluate his own sexuality after this was over.

His relaxed posture stiffened as he began to move as well, touches no longer gentle and fleeting but hard and lingering. Their lips parted with a wet smacking noise, and Jesse continued down Blaine's neck this time, feeding off of every breathy little whine the boy made. He let himself use his teeth, scraping them against soft skin, and Blaine moaned out his name, already scrabbling fingers seemingly more frantic to keep touching.

"Jesse," he repeated, and the tone of absolute bliss that fell off Blaine's lips, accompanied by Jesse's name, was what made Jesse stop. This wasn't how things were supposed to happen. Blaine wasn't supposed to end up rutting against his best friend, moaning his name while said best friend – who was more in control of his wits – led him on. It just wasn't fair.

"Blaine," his tone was commanding, hands leaving their place in Blaine's back pockets – when had that even happened? – and pushing him away. "Blaine!"

The boy seemed too far gone to understand that Jesse wanted to stop, still moving against him and not noticing the change in behavior or the absence of Jesse's mouth on his neck. So Jesse did the only thing that made sense; he shoved Blaine onto the ground. He landed with a thud and Jesse winced, knowing that his tailbone was going to be bruised, but that seemed to shock him back to the world of the living, the world of the sane, the world where two best friends had just crossed some unspoken relationship boundary.

"What the fuck?" Blaine picked himself up, wincing. Jesse's cheeks were burning while he felt his heart throbbing in his groin, standing and wordlessly seizing Blaine by his forearm and dragging him back to his car.

"No, Jesse," Blaine pulled out of his grasp. "No, we're not just going to drive back to your place and pretend that nothing happened or blame it all on the alcohol. You can't run away from me like you did with Rachel."

Something in Jesse snapped, and he turned to face Blaine, arm swinging out before he could stop himself and punching Blaine square in the nose. Blaine staggered back, bleeding and clutching at his face, and Jesse regretted it instantly.

"I'm sorry," he surged forward, but Blaine held out an arm and took a step back, holding Jesse at bay.

"No you're not," he said thickly. "You're never sorry. You're not sorry that you broke Rachel's heart and you're not sorry that you betrayed twelve people who didn't deserve it and you're not sorry that you punched the one person who's always loved you no matter what, because it's easier to lash out than to admit to yourself that maybe you are wrong and maybe you are having a sexual identity crisis and maybe you can't just blow me off like you do every other problem in your entire life!"

"I swear to God, Blaine, I will leave you here if you don't shut the fuck up." Jesse's hands balled into fists again. "Get in the car and we'll fix your nose."

"No, I think I like it this way," Blaine was ranting now, the blood dripping down his face and making him look positively terrifying. "Because if it is broken and I don't get it fixed, at least I'll have proof that once upon a time the great Jesse St. James did acknowledge my existence before he ran away to California for good."

"Get in the car!" Jesse shouted, running his fingers through his hair and locking them there, beginning to panic.

"Make me!" Blaine shot back. "Oh, wait, you've already broken my fucking nose, so wouldn't want to add a broken arm to that or I could probably charge you with assault and get you put in jail. And while we're at it, how about providing a minor with alcohol? And all I have to do is make up some sob story about big, bad Jesse St. James touching me right where I didn't want it and you're labeled as a sexual predator for the rest of your life." He smirked in a way that was so like Jesse's that it was almost eerie, the blood making him look maniacal. "Thanks for buffing up in California. Anyone would say you could easily overpower a sexually frustrated teen like me."

"Shut up," Jesse hissed. "You wouldn't do that to me."

"Try me," Blaine challenged.

They stared at each other, Blaine's nose still dripping and Jesse's hands still curled into fists, breathing hard. The silence seemed to be alive with the tension, with the resentment, with the things still left unsaid until finally, Jesse broke it.

"Tell me what to do, then."

"Get me something to stop the bleeding with, first of all, you ass," Blaine demanded, and Jesse took that as his cue to unlock his car, ducking into the backseat to see if he had a box of tissues. Finding one, he made to get out of the car, but suddenly he was lying face-down across his backseat, Blaine lying on top of him, blood dripping onto the back of Jesse's neck. His body was suddenly hyper-sensitive, feeling each drop of blood pounding on his skin, feeling Blaine pressing him down with his hips, still hard, as an echo of what had already happened.

"You listen to me," Blaine's voice was soft, but still threatening. "I love you, Jesse. And I'm not just saying that as your friend, I actually mean it. I've loved you since middle school, idolized you and wanted to be just like you, and you never, never saw it. Why should you? I was just some stupid kid with a dick instead of a vagina, so what was I to the great Jesse St. James? But you know something? That stopped the minute you told me about what Shelby asked you to do, and that was the greatest and most freeing moment of my life. I finally had a reason to doubt you, and look where that's brought us."

Jesse tried to get up, to leave the car, but Blaine remained stubbornly on top of him, pinning him down. He punctuated this with a roll of his hips, wordlessly telling Jesse that he still wanted him.

"No excuses. I know I have Kurt and you have Rachel, current issues with both notwithstanding, but can you honestly tell me that everything that happened tonight was a mistake?"

"Yes," Jesse breathed, though his body ached for him to say no. The pressure on his shoulders from where Blaine was holding him tightened, the pressure further down achingly pleasant and making it hard to concentrate.

"Say it again."

"Yes," Jesse's voice came out more confidently that time, a harsh sound against Blaine's beautiful, rapid breaths and the way their heartbeats seemed to echo in the small space. A strangled little sob escaped from the boy pinning him down, a sob that went straight to Jesse's conscience, making him want to whisper, "no," over and over until the word lost its meaning, holding Blaine close and making him understand that it was okay.

"You don't mean that," Blaine insisted, lowering himself so that his head rested on Jesse's shoulder again. "You can't mean that. I love you."

"It was a mistake," Jesse argued. "I got excited dancing with those girls, and you were there. That's all it was." It was a ready-made excuse, one that dirtied Jesse's mouth with just how false it was. Those girls had meant nothing, barely getting a twitch of interest out of him, Blaine being the one to get his body to respond, just as it was now, no matter how much he willed it to stop.

"I don't want to lose you," Blaine's voice sounded so pitiful, so broken compared to how threatening and angry he had before, and Jesse willed the beautiful boy away before he was forced to hurt him even more. His pulse still throbbing in his groin, Jesse's hips moved on their own, pushing into the seat of the car, away from Blaine, in an unmistakable desire for friction.

"I don't understand," came Blaine's shaky voice in his ear, no doubt confused by the conflicting words and body language.

"Tomorrow," Jesse's voice came out in a low growl, "none of this happened. We were never friends, and I never did any of this."

With a show of strength that surprised them both, Jesse flipped their position, slamming Blaine into the back of the seat roughly, sitting up momentarily to close the still-open car door. Then hips found hips and moved together, frantic hands removing clothing and paying no heed to the fogging windows. The coppery tang of blood mixed with sweat when they kissed, leaving an unpleasant taste in both mouths, moans of pain and pleasure escaping Blaine's mouth when Jesse bumped his nose.

The car rocked when they moved together, the slick leather seats groaning in protest when they pushed against it. Neither knew what they were doing, one being completely inexperienced while the other only knew how to properly pleasure a woman, but the uninhibited pleading that fell from both lips was guide enough. Jesse catalogued every sound that Blaine made, every whispered confession, storing it away and memorizing where Blaine liked to be touched, fooling himself into thinking that it was for Blaine's benefit. He sent Blaine into complete sensory overload, worshipping his body until the boy was completely spent, hovering somewhere between bliss and exhaustion.

Only then did Jesse stop, his head resting on Blaine's chest and listening to his heart rate slow. It took the boy virtually no time at all to fall asleep, completely passed out and completely naked, lying in a pool of mixed bodily fluids and bearing a broken nose, in the back of Jesse's car.

Jesse didn't even bother wiping himself up; he went straight to work on Blaine and his car, talking quietly to himself to stave off his own exhaustion. He put his clothes back on, not caring about just how gritty and nasty he felt, dressing Blaine and then wiping down the windows, putting the car into gear and driving the sleeping boy all the way back to Westerville in the middle of the night.

Jesse hadn't planned on having sex with Blaine, just like he hadn't planned on falling in love with his best friend. He had always hated those movies, hated how everything worked out in the end because both characters loved each other enough to stay.

He wasn't running away. He was just electing to let them both go, so they could continue to loathe him in silence, taking it as his penance to waste away, never loving another, for no other will ever live up to the boy and girl who were perfect for Jesse St. James.