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Star By Star

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Oliver's first days with the Hummels was busy. He was surprised by it and entirely unused to being included in so many things. At the Center in Buffalo, he'd done his best to go unnoticed, but here it was impossible. It was an impossible he thought he might actually like.

Each morning he woke up on his own, in a bed that was still lined with plain sheets and bedding, but thankfully dry and soft. Evan tended to snore when he flopped over on his back, but it didn't bother Oliver. He'd shared a room with half a dozen boys his entire life. Snoring and strange groans were something he'd grown used to.

At breakfast, Kurt and Blaine let him eat as much as he wanted and he got to spend his first few days doing what he wanted. They left him on his own as much as he needed and Oliver was glad. It was always weird being in someone's house and being expected to live there, but the Hummels were understanding so far. They let him ease into the atmosphere and tried to make sure Evan wasn't too much at once.

Evan was one of Oliver's favorite things about his stint at the Hummels. It was bizarre and fantastic to have another boy his age around that was actually eager to be friends. That wasn't something that had happened to him before. Evan was friendly and talkative and Oliver had found himself slipping up more and more when they were hanging out in their bedroom and trying to find common interests. He still didn't talk much in front of Kurt and Blaine, but Evan was different. Evan was like him.

Overall, Oliver felt pretty comfortable at the Hummels. He knew where the snacks where and when dinner was. Laundry went in the blue, cloth-net hamper in the closet and the door to the left of their bedroom was their bathroom. It was a lot to take in so quickly, but the Hummels were all cheerful about it. They accepted his long silences and confused fumbling when he didn't know where the spoons went or where the pool noodles were kept.

Evan was gone when Oliver was gently shaken awake on Saturday. Kurt was sitting on the edge of his bed, smiling kindly and still in his pajamas.

"Good morning, sweetheart, are you ready for breakfast?" Kurt asked as Oliver sat up and rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Evan's already inhaled most of it, so Blaine's making more."

"Waffles?" Oliver mumbled hopefully as he stretched his legs out, then curled and uncurled his toes.

"Yup," Kurt said brightly, picking up Oliver's glasses from his night-stand and handing them to him. Oliver took them gratefully, rubbed at his eyes once more and then slid them on. Kurt's face became sharper and the rest of the room came into focus. "Pancakes was last Saturday. We try to rotate between the two unless we're all craving something particular."

Oliver nodded and stared down at his lap. He still wasn't comfortable with talking a lot. With Evan he was getting more vocal, but Kurt and Blaine were different. He was too scared about them hearing him, learning who he was, and not liking what they'd brought home. It was too frightening right now to contemplate letting himself really go.

"Get dressed and I'll drag Evan away from your plate," Kurt told him, patting his knee and standing up. "We're going to go shopping for all your stuff today," Kurt reminded him. "Bedding and clothes and shoes, and whatever toys or things you want... "

Oh. Oliver had forgotten about that. The very thought of it made him uncomfortable. This wasn't going to be a permanent home, even if he was really starting to like it here. They'd eventually realize he wasn't the second son they wanted and when two years were up, he'd be back at the Center.

"I- I don't need anything," Oliver said quickly, quietly.

If Kurt was surprised to hear him talk or by what he said, he didn't show it. Maybe Evan had said the same thing when they'd first done this with him a few years ago. Evan was different, though. He was their son in every way that mattered. Oliver was just a foster kid until his two years were up. They'd never want to adopt him. Oliver wasn't even sure if he'd want them to if they offered.

"Of course you do," Kurt said simply. "These sheets are old and worn and don't suit your skin tone or personality at all."

Kurt stepped away from the bed, still smiling encouragingly and shut the door on his way out. Oliver watched the closed door for a moment. They were all so nice, all three of them. It was so weird for him to get used to. Nowhere else had ever been like this. No other family had ever acted like they truly wanted him around instead of just a babysitter.

Oliver dressed quickly in the last shirt and jeans he had in his drawer. He pulled his socks on from the day before, and then went to brush his teeth. His toothbrush was the same one from the Center, dark blue, the handle cracked and worn. The bristles were frayed and smooshed down so much that half of them were missing. The Center was supposed to issue them new ones at least once a year, but the other boys had always stolen Oliver's and used it to keep their sneakers clean of mud.

When he arrived downstairs, Evan was patting his stomach and leaning back in his bar stool. Oliver hopped up onto the empty one beside him as a chorus of "Good morning" echoed around from Blaine and Evan.

"Hey, dude, the blueberry one's are– "Evan burped loudly and groaned as he massaged his stomach. "They're epic, Ollie. Eat them, eat them all. Oh... "

"I told you not to eat that much," Blaine reprimanded him as he spun towards them with a stack of waffles. Behind him the waffle iron sizzled and a little bit of batter oozed from between the two halves. "I've got strawberry, blueberry, and banana," he informed Oliver as Evan slid down in his chair and onto the floor with a dramatic groan. "I suggest the strawberry since they're pretty and pink."

Oliver eyed the stack for a moment, before selecting a banana one and then a strawberry one. The delighted look on Blaine's face was difficult to ignore. It was weird that Kurt and Blaine kept looking at him like that. With wide open smiles, and happiness, and almost adoringly. Oliver didn't understand it at all. He was starting to think they just looked at everyone like that. Evan, himself, each other, Blaine's sister with the beach ball belly that's name changed every other sentence. It was a lot to keep track of.

Breakfast went quickly after Blaine sat down across from him and Evan crawled over to the sofa and collapsed with a pitiful whine. Kurt rolled his eyes as he leaned his elbows onto the counter and watched the two of them eat.

"He'll never going to learn to stop at seven, is he?"

"Give it another month," Blaine mumbled with a rueful smile. "He'll start growing like a weed and then he'll be up to ten in one go."

"Our son is a pig," Kurt said bluntly. "Even you couldn't eat seven waffles when we were teenagers– "

"I'd already had my growth spurt by then," Blaine reminded him as Oliver took a tentatively bite of the strawberry waffle on his plate. It wasn't chunky or grainy like he'd feared. Blaine must have pureed the strawberries first or something. "And I'd barely been eating anything for most of the summer, too. When I was thirteen, though? I ate everything in the house, then stole money from my dad's wallet to go buy more."

With a frown, Oliver continued eating while they discussed Evan's appetite. From what Oliver had figured out over the past several days, it was a very sudden change. Oliver had seen it with the other boys at the Center and knew it meant Evan's voice would be cracking before long and then he'd tower over him, too. He hoped the height didn't turn him mean.

Twenty minutes later, the four of them were piling into the Range Rover, Evan still massaging his stomach and groaning every few minutes. Kurt and Blaine took the front seats, and Oliver claimed the one he had on Tuesday. It was strange to find himself in the car with them again so soon. Usually once he got to a new foster home, he didn't leave until he had to take the bus or walk to whatever school he was attending.

"Now we can go to the fabric store and pick a bunch of stuff out for clothes and your bedding if you don't find anything you like, Oliver," Kurt told him from the front. "There's no rush on anything, and I can totally make stuff for you because I do the same for Evan- "

"Even though I just wanna run around in soccer shorts," Evan grumbled from Oliver's right. "He's a bit over the top with clothes stuff. Don't ever agree to be his mannequin, either. You'll lose a whole Saturday to it."

"Evan," Blaine warned from the front. "Your dad takes time out of his work to sit down and make you– "

"I know, I know, they're great, but just... don't do the model thing," Evan insisted. "I kept getting poked with pins and stuff because I was ticking all over the place– "

"That's not my fault, Evan Michael," Kurt said loftily from the front. "I told you more than once you could go out and play with your friends after I took your measurements."

Evan's face flushed and Oliver did his best not to grin. It was clear Evan loved his dads. No doubt he'd stayed because he loved spending time with Kurt, and probably secretly liked the clothes, even though he wouldn't admit it. He was a teenager now, after all.

They pulled into the mall parking lot a short time later. It was overwhelming for Oliver when he saw the crowds of people bustling about, some with their own small children, others just packs of high schoolers enjoying a Saturday. He'd never been to a mall before and this one was a huge, towering, three story building with people chattering and running rampant.

"It's cool, huh?" Evan said, nudging him with his elbow as they followed after Kurt and Blaine. "There's this, like, mega-ultra sports store upstairs and lots of clothing places that they're gonna drag us to– oh, and a bookstore! You'll like that one."

Oliver nodded as the Hummels steered him down to the far left side of the mall and then up to the third floor. He was surprised to find Kurt leading them into a commercial store instead of some fancy fashion boutique. It didn't seem his style, but then they weren't shopping for Kurt either. Blaine grabbed a cart as Kurt gently laid his arm around Oliver's shoulders.

"So we can shop in whichever section you want," he told him. "Just, the right sized stuff obviously, okay? Whatever you want to wear is totally fine with us."

Surprised by the thoughtfulness, but not really sure why he'd want to wear anything on the rack of sundresses in the bright pink section to their left, Oliver started towards the section labeled boys. There were simple shorts and shirts and tank tops. That was more what he was used to. Whatever was easy to pull on and fit was fine with him.

It ended up being easier and quicker than Oliver had thought. He picked out a few things he liked, trying a little of each on to see what his size was, then let Kurt do the rest. Kurt pulled things from rack after rack, asking if he liked it and which colors he preferred. It was really simple in the end. Oliver had more clothes than he'd ever seen in his entire life and all of them were just for hot weather. He couldn't even imagine how many more he'd have if he was still with the Hummels when it got cold.

Evan dragged them to the sports store next and insisted on them buying Oliver at least one pair of soccer shorts because they're "breezy and awesome". Next was a scarf outlet that Kurt literally squealed at, then a music store where Blaine bought a stack of blank sheet music for his lessons, and then the bookstore. That was Oliver's favorite stop by far. It was the only store they entered where he took off immediately and started searching.

There were mysteries, adventures, worlds, and people on all of the shelves around him. Maybe they weren't living and breathing beside him, but they still existed in their own ways and he loved that. Oliver loved the imagination and creation of a book and the dreams of the authors and the characters they opened up to the world.

By the time the Hummels found him again, he was curled up on a big plushy monkey chair with a stack of books beside him and one, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, open on his lap. It was one of his favorites. A few years ago he'd checked it out from the library and then before he'd made it to the end, the other boys had torn it up. He wasn't allowed to check things out after that.

"I see we found your store," Blaine remarked as he squatted down next to Oliver's chair and picked through his stack of books. "Oh, Star Wars! Always a good choice."

"Wait," Evan hollered, popping out from behind a shelf and looking amazed. "There are Star Wars books? "

Oliver's jaw dropped. "Are you serious? How do you not know that?"

The other three looked at him in surprise. That was the most he'd said in front of Blaine or Kurt since he'd arrived. Even Evan looked a little thrown by his words, but he shrugged and scooped up one of the books next to Oliver.

"Dunno, I'm more television and movies than sitting down and reading for hours," Evan answered sheepishly. He let out a little whistling tic and flipped the book over to read the back cover. "Who the heck is Jacen Solo?"

"I– we're having a serious talk when we get home," Blaine deadpanned. Then he hoisted up the stack of books and dropped them in the basket Kurt was carrying. "These good for now? Cause there's so many other series to read. And then there's superhero comics and graphic novels and Star Trek, too– have you watched any of that or is it too old school now?"

But Oliver was only half listening. There was easily over a hundred dollars worth of books in that basket. He couldn't let the Hummels buy all of that just for him. Not when they'd be disappointed with him in another few months and return him.

"I– you– " He didn't know how to say it. The words were like toffee cementing his teeth together. How was he supposed to tell them not buy all of that if he didn't even like to talk around them?

"Do you want a few more?" Kurt asked curiously as Oliver bit his lip. "I know Blaine's got a whole bookcase of books at home that look like they'd be right up your alley, but there's always room for more– "

"You don't havetobuythose," Oliver rushed out, his words stringing together.

"What? Sweetheart, you want them and love to read, so we'll definitely buy them– "

"But– "

"It's okay, kiddo," Blaine said quietly. "Really, I know they're expensive to you, but they're something you want and seem to love, okay? Kurt and I are absolutely fine with this. We just want you to do what you love to do, no matter what it is."

"I– okay," Oliver whispered. He and Evan watched the two men head back to the front of the store to pay for the stack of books.

"It's cool, dude, really," Evan added once his dads were done. "They really do mean it and, well, if it makes you feel better, I was the same way when I made the school soccer team and a travel team. That was a lot more expensive than some books. It was like, five hundred dollars just for all the fees and uniforms and stuff, and then there was gas and driving after that."

That made Oliver feel a little better. He still didn't like the idea of them spending all of this money on him. The clothes were one thing, since it was summer and hot and his old ones barely fit anymore. It was expected that the Hummels, as his foster parents, would buy him clothes, even though most of Oliver's experience in the foster care system had proven otherwise. The Hummels were very different from those other families. Books weren't something he needed. They weren't a necessity, just a hobby he enjoyed, and he felt guilty that they were spending their money on that.

"Come on, you can tell me who this Jacen Solo guy is," Evan said abruptly, tugging Oliver to his feet. "And we can go to the space store! You're going to love that one more than this place!"

Evan ended up being right. He bugged his dads as soon as they found them at the check-out counter. The next thing Oliver knew, he was back downstairs and Evan was yanking him along at a run towards a side row of shops that ended in what looked like the universe. It was stunning to see compared to the brightly lit walls and floors of the mall around it. The shop was amazing. Oliver felt like he'd found some sort of crazy tunnel straight into space as soon as they entered. The walls were dark and speckled with glowing lights that twinkled like real stars. The ceiling had shooting stars zooming across it and the solar system slowly orbiting on it. It had to be some sort of screen or projection, but to Oliver, it was the coolest thing.

"And you've gotta see these!" Evan gushed, stampeding back to Oliver's side and tugging the awestruck boy towards the back wall. "Look! We could decorate our whole room with stars and planets and meteors and space stuff that glows!"

Kurt and Blaine found them at the back, Evan dumping packet after packet into Oliver's arms. He was too surprised by the awesome suggestion to try to stop the other boy and before he knew it, the glowing decorations had been purchased, too.

They went out to lunch after that, hit the fabric store for Kurt, and then went to a bedding store across town. Oliver was really hesitant about this one. Despite what Kurt had said this morning, he thought the other sheets were fine. They might be a little frayed and white and have a few random stains, but they were much better than anything else anyone had ever given him.

"There's lots to pick from," Blaine told him. "I mean a lot. And if you don't really like any of it, Kurt can totally make something."

"Look, there's baseball ones," Evan added, pointing him towards the kids section of the bedding. "And like, Disney princesses and stuff, too, and– "

"Star Wars!" Oliver said in delight, skipping past Evan and pulling out the packet of sheets. There were Death Stars and X-Wings and the logo all over the bright blue sheets. Then beside it– "Galaxies, too!"

The next set was covered in shooting stars, swirling galaxies and a handful of different stars. There were even little labels on them that said what kind of stars they were.

"Looks like we've got a winner," Kurt said with a smile. "Gosh, you're so much easier to shop for than Blaine or Evan."

Kurt and Blaine still gave him a chance to look over the rest, but the galaxy set won easily. After that, they headed back to the Hummels' house. Evan helped him carry everything upstairs while Blaine helped Kurt with his rolls of fabric and the huge back of bedding stuff. Once they were in their room, Evan dumped the bag of books onto Oliver's bed and started reading off the titles.

"What the heck is a Gatsby?" Evan demanded. "Is that, like, another name for the apocalypse? It sounds painful." Evan's brow furrowed as Oliver plucked it from his hands and carefully arranged it on the empty bookshelf on his side of the room.

"It's the main character's last name," he told him as Evan started handing him more of the books. Eventually he had them all arranged of a few shelves and had peeked Evan's interest in at least half of them with all of the questions he answered.

"Huh," Evan said, eyeing the last book, Lord of the Flies, instead of handing it to Oliver. "Is it cool if I borrow this one? I mean, I dunno if I'll ever finish it, but I think I wanna try."

"Sure, I haven't read that one all the way through," Oliver told him with a shrug. If he was perfectly honest, he hadn't read most of them all the way through. The other boys had always made that impossible for any number of reasons.

"Neat, so do you wanna hang the stars and stuff before dinner?" Evan asked, setting the book down on his side of the huge built-in desk at the window. "We could probably even put one of the shooting stars on the ceiling fan."

Oliver's eyes grew huge at the idea of a little star with a huge trailing tail of orange flame spinning above his head. They both scrambled for the bag of glowing decorations, dumping it out on the floor and then tearing through the packages. Before long they had several heaping piles scattered around them: one for normal stars, one for planets and moons, another for shooting stars, and then a final one for galaxies and other random cosmic entities. There was quite a selection.

"We could put some on the wall around the T.V.," Evan said slowly, eyeing their biggest pile. "That's a lot for just the ceiling."

Oliver nodded in agreement, then glanced up at the biggest obstacle they faced. "So how are we gonna get these up there exactly?" he asked. "I mean, even your dads would need a ladder."

Evan looked around, too. There weren't a lot of options. They would only be able to reach so much from the beds or the desk. The rest of the room was wide open, though.

"How good is your balance?" Evan asked after a moment, eyeing his curiously. "I could probably support your weight. You're, what? Seventy pounds?"

"Dunno," Oliver answered, a little alarmed at the idea. "Let's get the spots over the beds first," he decided.

They both scooped up a handful from each pile and a wad of putty to stick them up with. It was a lot more fun than Oliver had thought it would be. Even with the added height of the bed, they both still too short to reach and ended up bouncing and jumping about to stick the stars up.

"Ouch– that's my face your elbow's hitting!"

"That's my foot you just landed on– "


Feet and arms tangled, they toppled off the bed and onto the piles of stars and planets. The little pieces scattered everywhere as they both groaned and tried to sit up. A thunderous stampede of footsteps echoed up the stairs as they grunted and pulled their legs apart. Then the door burst open and Kurt and Blaine were there, looking worried and frantic. Too late, Oliver realized their fall must have sounded a lot worse from the kitchen below them.

Evan whistled shrilly as he finally got his arms back from under Oliver.

"Oh my god, what happened?" Kurt demanded fearfully.

"Guys, are you all right?" Blaine added, ducking in and dropping down next to them. His eyes fell on the scattered pile of stars, then the ones on the bed and overhead. "Ah, that makes sense."

"What– " Then Kurt looked up, too. "Oh," he said in exasperation. "Boys, we have ladders right downstairs and we were completely willing to help."

"We– ouch– wanted to do it ourselves," Evan said, wincing as Blaine helped him to his feet. He rubbed his backside uncomfortably. "You're really boney," he told Oliver.

"You're really heavy," Oliver countered as Blaine hoisted him to his feet, too. "I think my lungs are in a coma now."

Blaine and Kurt laughed as they each looked him and Evan over. It was weird to have an adult so concerned about his well-being. Evan kept trying to brush Kurt's hands away in exasperation, but Oliver let Blaine check his knees and elbows out.

"No worse for the wear, kiddo," Blaine told him. "You might smell a little bit more like a dirty teenager though– "


"Both of you should just ignore him," Kurt informed them. "I did for weeks when we first met and it worked out quite well."

"I pinned you against a chalkboard as I recall," Blaine said with a wicked grin. "We should relive that some time actually. I do have a classroom and office of my own now... "

"Don't tempt me," Kurt returned evenly, but Oliver caught the flirty grin he gave Blaine. He looked away in embarrassment while Evan made retching noises behind them.

"I'm old enough to understand this stuff now," Evan said loudly. "Please, don't speak of it when I'm present!"

Evan ducked as Blaine took a playful swipe at him. "Yeah, yeah, get back on that bed," Blaine grumbled, "and get ready to climb."

Evan looked confused, but did as Blaine said, hopping up onto the bed and then accepting Blaine's motions to climb onto his back. It was an awkward struggle for several minutes. Finally, Evan was settled, Blaine's hands supporting his legs on either side of Blaine's chest as Evan fumbled with the stars he'd grabbed.

"Neat! I can totally reach the whole ceiling now!"

Oliver and Kurt watched them slowly wander around Evan's side of the room, sticking up stars and half moons and planets as they went.

"Hey, watch it! You're dropping some," Blaine hollered as one slid through his curls and onto the floor. "Oh, it's a pretty purple one!"

Kurt smiled at the sight and Oliver looked away. These men, this family, was so amazing. Even if he was just here for a short time, going back was going to be painful when he had moments like this to remember what he'd never have.

"You need a boost, too, Oliver?"

His head shot up. Kurt was still standing beside him, gaze no longer on his husband and son, but on Oliver. He didn't know what to say to the suggestion. Of course he wanted to join in on the fun, but he didn't expect Kurt or Blaine or any of them to make that possible.

"Um... "

"Come on, we can't let them do the whole ceiling," Kurt decided, bending down so that Oliver could climb onto his back. "At least one side of this room shouldn't be chaos."

"I prefer organized clutter," Evan retorted as Blaine carried him towards the doorway. "It was a lot worse a few months ago."

"If it ever gets that bad again, we're letting Oliver have the entire room," Blaine told him.

Evan growled playfully and messed up Blaine's curls as Kurt waved Oliver forward.

"Come on, you're not heavy enough to break me, I promise."

For a moment, Oliver still hesitated. Kurt's smile was so warm and genuine as he watched Oliver over his shoulder. It was the same smile he gave Evan when he said goodnight to him and when he leaned in for a kiss with Blaine. Heart in his throat, Oliver slowly stood up on his bed and leaned his chest down against Kurt's broad back. The press of Kurt's body made him feel so tiny in comparison. Much younger than he'd ever felt before. As Kurt hoisting him up by his thighs and kept him in place, Oliver bit his lip. It was eerie and painful to interact with someone like this, to feel like he had a group of people that really cared for him.


Oliver nodded mutely and then the bed under his feet disappeared. He was suddenly really high up, his head almost brushing the ceiling as Kurt adjusted his grip. Across the room, Blaine was letting Evan down to get more stars and to give his back a break.

"Christ, you're getting heavy," Blaine panted, stretching his arms over his head. He bent down to pick on the star Evan had dropped earlier. It was a giant purple one. "This star is totally me, don't you think?"

"Brings out the color of your eyes," Evan teased, creating a little pit with the bottom of his shirt so that he could grab the rest. He grabbed the last of the ones from his bed and a few from the floor before handing a bunch up to Oliver. "Here! Your side is still empty!"

Blaine lifted Evan back up a few minutes later as Oliver fumbled with his shirt-pit of stars and tacky. It took a while for them to cover the rest of the ceiling, but Oliver could never remember having so much fun. Kurt kept bouncing him up and down and jogging back and forth to get all the different spots Evan kept saying needed more stars, or a moon, or comet. By the time there were only a dozen plastic pieces left, the ceiling was littered in cosmic shapes in various colors.

Evan was dumped unceremoniously onto his bed with a indignant yelp, but Kurt set Oliver down gently. He definitely preferred that method. Blaine was still checking out the big purple star he'd scooped up earlier and Evan was looking through the last few that were left.

"I wanna be the green one," he declared importantly.

Kurt hummed and peered over his son's shoulder. "I think I'll be this big yellow-white one."

Uncertain about what was going on, Oliver took his last few and set them down with the ones Evan was flipping about.

"Which one are you gonna be?" he asked impatiently. "We've gotta be smaller than theirs."

Confused, Oliver just stared at him until Evan sighed in annoyance and picked out the medium-sized stars and pushed them over for Oliver to look at.

"We're gonna hang up a family of stars," Evan explained and Oliver was stunned. It was the last thing that would have crossed his mind and not just because nobody had spoken it aloud until that moment. They wanted him to be a part of this, an addition to their family of three.

Throat tight, Oliver looked down at the ones Evan's had pushed towards him. Orange, pink, green, and blue.

"T- the blue one," he decided after a minute, plucking it up as Blaine ripped off little pieces of tacky for each of them.

Oliver took his time pressing the tacky onto the flat back of his star. His fingers were trembling a little as Evan tried to pick the perfect spot, which ended up being on the wall above the television stand.

Blaine hung his first, smacking it to the wall with his palm and pressing against it roughly. Kurt followed quickly, but much more gently. He took his time arranging his beside Blaine's until one point of his star was touching one of Blaine's, almost as though the two stars were holding hands. Evan took no time hopping forward and slapping his up beneath theirs.

"Come on, Oliver! You can be next to me!"

Oliver swallowed thickly as Kurt's hand squeezed his shoulder. It was almost as if he knew what Oliver had been thinking since Evan had said what they were doing. Maybe Blaine and Kurt had figured it out. They were both really smart from what Oliver could tell. They got things even if they didn't say so. Slowly, Oliver stepped forward, looking at the little trio on the wall over his head. They were a nice little unit, Evan's star a little off to the left under Kurt's, but still a neat little group. If he added his, it might make it look awkward or lopsided. What if–

"Go ahead, sweetheart," Kurt said gently. "You can stick it wherever you want."

Anywhere he wanted. That could mean a lot of different things. He thought they expected him to place it right with theirs, but the thought scared him. Being part of something so special as this family terrified him. Even if it only last for a few years, what if he wasn't good enough for them? What if he got too attached and they didn't? Oliver could already feel it happening in a way it never had before. None of the other families he'd lived with had been worth getting attached to. They'd never treated him like one of their own or even decently. He'd just been a little breathing dollar sign they got to add to their bank accounts once a month.

"You don't have to if you don't wanna," Evan said softly and the sadness in his voice make Oliver's chest ache. He really liked Evan. Out of the three of them, Evan was something he'd longed for and never encountered. A friend wasn't something he'd ever had before, but he thought Evan was that. "I mean, whenever you wanna or even if you just wanna, like, hang it on the window."

"No," Oliver said firmly. His voice was so strong, he even caught himself off guard. He took a step forward and then another, his legs a little shaky, but his hand wasn't trembling anymore when he reached forward and pressed his star against the wall. After a moment, he stepped back and looked at it, getting ready to bite down a wince at how terrible it had made the little trio look. But it didn't. It was just another star among the dozens all around the room, but special because it was grouped with those three. It wasn't random or scattered or lost somewhere on the ceiling fan or in the corner over the door to the hall. His star had a place. It had a home, just like he did. A little family, built and growing, star by star.

"It looks great," Blaine said happily, patting him on the shoulder. "The whole room does. I can't wait to see it when you guys go to bed tonight. I bet its gonna be boss."

Kurt snorted as Evan rolled his eyes and made a whiny noise in his throat.

"Boss? Really, Blaine?"

"Well it is," Blaine said indignantly. "Just because you don't like my outdated slang doesn't mean– "

"Honey, shh," Kurt soothed, leaning in to peck the next words from Blaine's lips. "I know, I know. It's okay."

"You're making fun of me," Blaine pouted. "I take back my chalkboard offer from earlier. You aren't even allowed to visit."

The two slowly left the bedroom, bickering playfully and with their hands linked between their sides. They always did little things like that that reminded Oliver of how much love was in this house. Nowhere else he'd ever been had been like that.

"Pretty cool, huh?" Evan asked, letting out a little whistle at the end.

Oliver glanced over at him and was surprised to see Evan looked a little unsure of himself, even nervous.

"I mean, you've still gotta wait for your sheets and stuff to be washed and all your clothes, too, but... you like it all, right?"

It hit Oliver hard that Evan actually seemed to care so much about how he was doing. It hadn't even been a week yet, but the other boy was already dead set on making sure he was doing well and liked it here. Evan was definitely unlike any boy Oliver had ever met, but he was also really great. He cared and for Oliver that meant everything.

"It's great," he finally said. For a moment, he hesitated to say what he really wanted to say to Evan.

It's even better if I get a brother like you.

"Awesome," Evan said, visibly slouching in relief. "I wasn't sure if the star thing was too much or– I dunno. You're really cool and even if you don't wanna stay, I just want you to be comfortable and happy."

"I am happy," Oliver admitted. "Or at least, I think I am. It's kind of weird. Like there's this big balloon in my chest that keeps getting bigger and shocking me if I rub my foot on the carpet too much."

Evan's face crinkled up and he laughed. "It's pretty cool having a little brother," Evan added uncertainly.

"I'm almost as tall as you, so I'm not that little," Oliver reminded him. But he didn't deny what Evan had said. If he was honest with himself, he didn't want to.

"Liar," Evan protested, raising himself up on his toes. "I'm much taller than you."

"Boys, what do you want for dinner?" Blaine hollered up the stairs at them. "And the soccer game is about to start, Evan! You better hurry and claim the TV before Kurt flips it to the channel that's been playing The Notebook all week!"

Evan gasped in horror, grabbed a hat from the rack over the head of his bed, stuffed it on Oliver's head and shoved him towards the door.

"Hurry, hurry! You don't want to see him cry over that movie yet," Evan said seriously. "He sobs for days after that one."

Still confused by the hat on his head, Oliver followed after Evan, down the stairs and towards the family room off the kitchen. They both settled down on the big bean bags set up in front of the television as Kurt sighed in dismay and flipped it over to a soccer game between two teams Oliver had never even heard of. Evan started prattling off names and cities and stats so quickly Oliver couldn't keep up with it, but it didn't matter to him. Evan was talking to him, being friendly and treating him like other boys never had. That was enough.

"It's starting," Evan whispered in excitement, his feet kicking out spastically as Kurt set a bowl of popcorn down between them and joined Blaine in the kitchen.

Oliver watched the teams line up for the National Anthem and glanced over his shoulder to make sure Kurt and Blaine were busy.

"Hey, Evan?"


"I really like having a brother, too."