Pairing: Kurt Hummel/Blaine Anderson
Word Count: 4,800
Chapter: 4 (of 7)
Warnings: This chapter mentions canonical character death.
Summary: The evolution of Kurt and Blaine, from the back seat of a car at Mr. Schue’s wedding, to Bushwick, to I am a work in progress. (Or, the one where Kurt Hummel becomes Kurt Hummel-Anderson, a decade earlier than planned.)
(Read previous chapters: 1, 2, 3 )
Also posted to AO3
When Rachel moves out, and Blaine moves back in, at first, it’s as if everything has been filtered through a lens of hope, of starting over, of this is where we belong, where we’re meant to be. It feels good – like they’re finally back on track, like they’ve finally arrived.
They incorporate some of Blaine’s ideas for interior design – which aren’t all horrible – and for the first time, it starts to feel like their apartment, not Kurt’s apartment, or Kurt-and-Rachel’s apartment, but theirs.
They go to the farmer’s market at Fort Green and buy fresh cut flowers, and organic vegetables, and homemade soap. They talk about painting the bathroom, just for fun. There’s not much to work with, with so much exposed brick, but Blaine comes up with some fairly ingenious ideas about fabric that might work for curtains, and then they could paint the trim to match, at least.
They watch art films at the Nighthawk, and go to plays, off Broadway and off-off Broadway, whatever they can afford and still manage to pay the rent on time. Sometimes they go dancing at the Pyramid Club, usually on 80’s night.
They try new restaurants – it’s much easier to get a reservation now that it’s just the two of them, and when Kurt works evening shifts at the diner, some nights Blaine takes a table at the back, alone, or with June in tow, until Kurt clocks out. On the subway, they hold hands and share one set of earbuds to block out the crazy homeless guy who won’t stop shouting, or the bible-thumpers handing out pamphlets and quoting scripture.
But there’s also a wedding to plan, and for it to happen by the beginning of September, there’s a lot that needs to be done in not a lot of time. The whole idea that this wedding really is happening, and happening soon, becomes much more solid, more real, as the days start to lengthen, and spring turns into summer.
For his part, Kurt spends a lot of time thinking about weddings in general, and not that much time thinking about their wedding, the one that’s staring both of them in the face, demanding time and attention and money. Instead, Kurt finds himself thinking about his dad and Carole – how they didn’t waste any time at all getting married after they met, and how perfect that had been for them.
He thinks about Rachel and Finn, too, remembers how fiercely opposed to their plan he’d been – not because he didn’t believe that they loved each other, or didn’t think they were right for each other, but because they were so young, because it felt like they were rushing into something because they couldn’t bear to let go.
He had felt so strongly about it at the time, can still feel the sting of it in his chest, sitting there at City Hall, waiting, wondering if he should be the speak now or forever hold your peace protestor, and knowing that in the end, he just couldn’t do that to Finn, or to Rachel.
He feels less strongly about it, now knowing that there hadn’t been another chance for them.
Kurt finds himself lost in nostalgic thought, sometimes, remembers watching Blaine lead the Warblers with such confidence and swagger, feeling proud and jealous, but mostly proud, that he’d somehow managed to get this boy’s attention and keep it. He remembers walking back to his car with Blaine, his heart jumping in his chest at the prospect of a few minutes pressed against the door with Blaine’s lips against his; remembers the thrill of holding hands with Blaine at the Lima Mall, giddy (and maybe a little anxious, too – this was Ohio, after all) at the thought of people seeing them together. He remembers the way Blaine used to call out to him over cups of coffee at the Lima Bean, so intent and focused, as if he didn’t stand out to Kurt like a bright, shining star already, as if it was even possible for Blaine to be in the same general vicinity as Kurt, and Kurt not notice.
And Kurt still feels all of those things for Blaine, but… It’s different, now. They’re engaged. There’s an endless list of things tied to that that need to happen - most of them should have been done, well, yesterday. They need to secure a venue for their wedding, so that they can send out invitations, so that the people they love can actually have enough time to plan a trip, so they can come and bear witness to their vows, to their love.
This is bigger than just the two of them, now. It’s jarring, thinking of it that way, knowing that this is actually happening – that they’re letting people in to see this, to witness this thing between them. It makes Kurt feel exposed in a way that he hasn’t been, up until now.
There’s something frantic in the way Blaine talks about the wedding, too, as if the event itself is the really important accomplishment here – getting to it, making it happen, making it perfect. And of course it has to be perfect – it’s their wedding, but he can’t shake the feeling that maybe it feels frantic because it is, because that’s what happens when you try to skip ahead, when all you allow yourself to see is the finish line.
Sometimes he wishes they could slow down, not necessarily to delay what’s inevitable for them, but to appreciate where they are right now.
It's late on a Friday night, and outside the club the air is almost cool. The night is inky black, no moon at all up in the sky, and of course there are no stars, because they’re in the middle of the city. Kurt is relaxed and happy, his limbs feather-light, free.
Under Kurt’s discerning eye, Blaine is profoundly beautiful in the glow of the streetlights. His cheeks are glowing, and his hair has long since escaped its gel-related confines. He’s confident and sexy and Kurt is overcome for a moment with pride. This man is his. Will be for a long, long time to come.
“We should go on a date,” Kurt says, apropos of nothing, draping his arm over Blaine’s shoulder, and breathing in deeply.
Blaine still smells good, even after two sweaty hours in a club where they’d danced and danced until Blaine had whispered in his ear that it was getting late, and shouldn’t they be getting back if they wanted to wake up at a reasonable time tomorrow morning. Kurt always complained about sleeping in, and tomorrow they had yoga at nine; he’d signed them up a week ago. Blaine had been right; it was getting late. And so they’d left – another couple of blocks and they’d be home.
“What do you mean, Kurt? A date with who?”
“With you,” Kurt says. He’d thought that was obvious, but he also doesn’t remember how many vodka tonics he’s had, which is to say, he’s a little drunk. This is probably not a thing he should bring up to Blaine when he’s drunk. “I’m talking about us.”
“Okay, well now you’ve got my attention,” Blaine says, and Kurt realizes he said most of that out loud.
“I was just thinking,” Kurt says. His mind feels fuzzy, and a little dangerous. “About dating. We haven’t really done that. Recently. Not for very long, at least.”
“I’m not following.”
“Never mind,” Kurt says, and ignores the confused, curious look on Blaine’s face, because to be honest, he’s not following either. His thoughts are all over the place, and he’s not sure he even wants to pin them down. Not when he could choose to just enjoy the rest of the evening, instead. The days have been warm lately, and the night air now is breezy and comfortable against his skin.
Before he knows it, they’re climbing the stairs to the loft. Blaine’s hand is warm and firm against the small of his back. Kurt doesn’t need help climbing the stairs – he’s not that far gone, but it’s nice, knowing that there’d be someone there to catch him anyway, if he lost his footing. When they get to the top of the landing, Blaine moves around him, unlocking the door, sliding it open, and closing it behind them.
The air upstairs in the loft is warm, it rolls over Kurt in waves, makes him unsteady on his feet, just for a second.
Blaine leads him to the bedroom, to the edge of the bed. Hangs up his jacket for him. He disappears into the kitchen and appears a second later with a glass of water. Kurt drinks it, and watches Blaine strip down to his boxers and socks. The light from the bedside lamp flickers over Blaine’s skin, as he pulls one of his soft sleep shirts on over his head. It’s grey, and well-worn, and makes Kurt think of countless nights spent curled up next to Blaine in bed, or on the couch, or on the floor, next to the couch, sometimes. Blaine looks perfect, and with no warning whatsoever, Kurt’s eyes fill with tears.
He’s too surprised to properly panic. He feels betrayed by his own thoughts, can feel them working their way to his lips. Everything feels jumbled up in his head. Rachel and Finn, sitting there at the courthouse, and Kurt, knowing they were wrong, knowing they were rushing when there was no reason to rush, except that maybe there was, because now Finn is gone. But at the time Kurt had looked at them and thought what’s wrong with dating, what’s wrong with enjoying each other and not pressuring yourself and risking all of it for a piece of paper and now that’s exactly what—
“Blaine,” Kurt says, and Blaine is right there, eyes wide, concern dancing across his features.
“Kurt, what’s wrong?”
“Do you think we should have dated?” Kurt asks. “For longer, I mean… Before...” Kurt makes a sweeping gesture with his hand. He means this room, New York, the past year. He means before we decided to get married.
“Kurt,” Blaine says, as he sits down next to him on the bed. “What are you talking about?”
Blaine’s face appears unguarded, tilted towards Kurt’s like this – as if he’s ready for anything.
Kurt doesn’t think he is – he thinks Blaine wants the same thing that he wants, which is to protect this, to protect them. He also thinks that Blaine knows exactly what he’s talking about.
He thinks Blaine knows that he’s thinking about last spring, about getting back together on a blindingly bright spring day at McKinley. About how quickly they’d gotten engaged and how there was nothing in between, no time or space or anything, even though Blaine had still been in high school. He wonders if Blaine knows that he’s been thinking about it for a while, has been thinking about how having this ring on his finger and going out, to a movie, or a play, or going dancing in a crowded club where they can press against each other in the darkness – it’s just not the same as dating.
It’s not the same as that feeling of coming alive in someone’s company, feeling electricity in their touch, in the sound of their voice, in the soft press of their skin. There’s something simple about dating, or at least that’s how he remembers it – something intimate and private, and not-stressful. Not like it is now, when every time they argue, every time Blaine looks at him, and he’s not achingly, uncomplicatedly happy, Kurt wonders if maybe they’ve made a mistake. It feels awful, having to think like that about the person you love most in the entire world.
He can’t say this to Blaine.
Kurt stares into Blaine’s face, into his eyes. He concentrates on them, on their steady permanence, even as the bed tilts and the room spins a little. He can’t tell Blaine that he thinks sometimes that maybe things would be better if they were just dating, or maybe even if they were engaged, but engaged as a sort of long term thing, not engaged, and planning a Labor Day wedding. He wonders if they’ve missed out on something big, something important, doing things the way they have.
Blaine’s eyes are worried. His hand is on Kurt’s knee. He brings his fingers up to touch Kurt’s cheek.
“Tell me what you’re thinking,” Blaine says.
“No,” Kurt says, and he’s leaning down, fumbling with his too-big fingers to untie his shoes.
“What did you mean about dating?”
Kurt’s heart is pounding in his chest. He doesn’t want to cry. Not right now, when he’s not sure when he’ll be able to stop, if he starts.
“I…” It’s no use. The tears start slowly. Blaine’s face makes everything worse – he looks so worried, and maybe a little scared.
Kurt thinks he knows and is surprised to find that he actually sort of believes it, believes that Blaine knows everything in his head, that he’s somehow become transparent, that everything he’s feeling is just written across his face, maybe.
“Kurt,” Blaine says, and his voice sounds broken, confused. “Just tell me what to do,” he says, as if there’s some physical action that can fix this.
Kurt stares at him. There’s nothing, he realizes, nothing Blaine can do, nothing Kurt can do either. They passed the point of no return a long time ago. He feels nostalgic for the choir room at McKinley, for the many-blazered halls of Dalton, for simpler times.
He tugs Blaine down with him on the bed, kisses him, deep, and a little messy. Alcohol always makes his tongue feel big and sloppy in Blaine’s mouth, but Kurt doesn’t really mind. He loves Blaine’s mouth, loves filling it up like this. He tastes him, probes his tongue deeper, waits for arousal to flood his veins.
“Kurt,” Blaine is saying, pulling away, trying to look at him. “Don’t you think you should tell me what’s going on?”
“Nothing’s going on, I just… I’m sorry. I’m drunk and I’m being an idiot.”
“We can go on more dates if you want to go on more dates,” Blaine says quickly, the words spilling out over Kurt’s lips. “Going on dates with you is not a problem.”
Kurt smiles. “I know.”
“We can do anything you want, as many times as you want,” Blaine says, and then his face darkens. “But I wonder if there’s more to it than that.”
Kurt shakes his head. He doesn’t trust his voice.
Blaine’s face is closed off now, and it’s not an unfamiliar look, Kurt realizes. Blaine is protecting something, too. We’re the same, then, Kurt thinks, and the realization surges in his chest, like it’s a good thing.
“Okay, fine,” Blaine says finally, and buries his face in Kurt’s neck.
And then Blaine kisses him, and Kurt thinks it’s a dirty trick, how he can make the world turn upside down like this with his lips, and his fingers in Kurt hair, and his leg hooked over Kurt’s thighs, and then he moves, and Kurt thinks thank god because this is a thing he’s good at, even when he’s half-drunk and his words are dangerous, this isn’t. This is perfect.
This is Blaine removing every article of his clothing carefully, not pulling too hard on his vest because he knows it’s vintage and the third button is a little loose. This is Blaine sliding slim-fit, self-tailored denim down his legs slowly, and Kurt kicking them to the floor impatiently, as Blaine chuckles deep in his throat, and runs his palm over Kurt’s chest because he knows it will call every hair on Kurt’s body to attention. And that’s what Blaine wants, maybe – Kurt’s attention. You have it, Kurt thinks, but there’s a part of him that’s distracted, there’s a part of him that’s thinking of weddings and promises and choices and trust; there’s a part of him that’s scared.
Blaine is locked in on Labor Day for the wedding, and despite the long hours of sunlight and blazing-concrete heat, the days pass quickly. The loft is stuffy at night, and even worse during the day, no matter how long they run the window a/c unit at full blast.
Without really talking about it, Blaine becomes the Wedding Planner in full force, with appointments, and tasting menus, and well-researched opinions on everything from centerpieces to appetizer ingredients, and Kurt becomes…something else. He goes to the gym every morning, and picks up extra shifts at the diner, and doesn’t usually bring up Labor Day or the wedding unless Blaine does, first.
It’s Kurt’s second summer in New York, and this time around, there are no group dinners, no movie nights with Sam and Mercedes, or meeting friends for drinks after one of Rachel's shows. There’s no one crowding their space in the loft, no one vying for the right to camp out on their couch. There are other people they could hang out with – and they do, sometimes - but nothing really seems to stick, friendship-wise. There’s no one to share the sort of easy camaraderie that they had with their friends from Lima – everything takes more effort, requires more planning.
This time around, it’s just Kurt and Blaine, and it’s supposed to be perfect.
When the dates for NYADA’s fall placement auditions are announced, all the sudden it doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to rehearse, to commute back and forth from work, to think about a wedding at all. Over the past year, Kurt has come to realize that he’s not very good at managing stress, he knows that he takes it out on the people around him, can see it in Blaine’s face when he snaps at him over breakfast, or at the end of the day, when Blaine makes an offhand comment about the number of text messages he’s sent that have gone unanswered.
This time around, Rachel isn’t there to tell Kurt he’s being an idiot when he’s being an idiot – he has to figure it out for himself, and sometimes it takes him days, and by then, Blaine has moved on, has forgotten about whatever stupid thing Kurt had said, or hadn’t said. It all starts to add up, this invisible tally of things so small he can’t apologize for, but so big that he can’t forget them.
Their lives start to feel very separate, and Kurt starts to feel a bit like he's been abandoned here, which is ridiculous, of course, because, Blaine is right here with him, so if he’s been abandoned, then they both have, and it should be okay because he shouldn’t need anyone else, he’s never needed anything other than Blaine. They’re supposed to be in this together.
“And you wonder why we don’t have any friends…” Kurt says one morning, leaning over Blaine’s shoulder in the bathroom, as he gently folds the towel over the towel rack. He can’t straighten it to his liking, because Blaine is in the way. He’ll do it later, he tells himself, and glances at Blaine’s reflection in the mirror.
In the end, they’d decided against painting, and they’d never gotten around to making curtains; the dark brick theme of the bathroom remains unchanged.
“What’s that supposed to mean, Kurt?”
Blaine’s expression has gone from confused to very nearly wounded, and Kurt rolls his eyes.
“Are you saying I should have said yes?”
Kurt narrows his eyes. “That’s not what I said.”
“Okay, because I thought we were both in agreement that date night was sacred. I already made reservations.”
“We were… We are.” Kurt wonders when Blaine started to sound so much like his dad.
Blaine sighs. “But?”
“I don’t know, never mind.”
“Just say what you were going to say, Kurt.”
“It’s just that since Rachel and everyone left, it just feels a little…lonely, you know? I was just thinking that maybe we should take advantage of opportunities like this when they come along – try to expand our social circle a little more.”
Blaine’s expression goes slack for a moment. He doesn’t say anything for a long moment, they’re both just standing there, frozen. It’s starting to make Kurt feel uncomfortable. He’s already starting to regret saying anything at all.
“It’s fine though,” Kurt says. “It’s not like this is the only time they’re going to have extra tickets.”
Blaine is quiet, and it’s starting to really irritate Kurt. He’s tired of feeling like they can’t even so much as have a difference of opinion anymore that doesn’t turn into a flight.
“Can you please stop looking at me like that. I said it’s fine.”
“You just said that you’re lonely.”
“Because I am!” Kurt has no idea why he’s raising his voice – he’s not even angry, he’s just tired of tiptoeing around Blaine, maybe. “Of course I’m lonely. My best friend and pretty much everyone we ever hung out with has moved out of the city. We’re marooned out here in Bushwick like—like orphans or something.”
Kurt can feel his face warming. He’s not really sure where that came from.
“Well, I’m here,” Blaine says, and pushes past him without meeting his eyes. “For whatever that’s worth.”
“Blaine, I didn’t mean--” Kurt says, trailing after Blaine, but when he starts to follow him into the bedroom, Blaine stops him.
“Can you please just give me a minute,” Blaine says, and his voice is steady, but Kurt can tell by the look on his face, by the way his eyes dart around him, looking anywhere but at his face that he’s hurt. Of course he is. Kurt doesn’t really blame him.
Kurt sits on the couch and idly pokes at his phone, listening to Blaine puttering around in the bedroom, listening to the street sounds from outside as they bleed in through the open window, par for the course on a weekday morning. A horn blares, and Kurt closes his eyes, trying to calm himself down. There’s no reason to be embarrassed about being honest. This is Blaine. He glances at the clock, just as Blaine appears in the living room.
“I thought you were meeting June for brunch?”
Blaine ignores the question, sits down next to Kurt with a serious look on his face.
“I didn’t mean to react like that.”
“It’s fine – you don’t have to apologize.”
“I’m not apologizing, I’m just-- Hearing you say that, it made me realize that I’ve been kind of lonely, too.”
Blaine is looking at him, his face wide open with emotion, and feeling. He wants to talk, of course he does, and Kurt just…doesn’t, he realizes. There is no part of him that wants to discuss his, or anyone else’s loneliness right now. He feels tense, and uptight, uncomfortable in his skin in a way that he hasn’t felt in forever. It’s not Blaine’s fault, but he also finds himself resenting the way Blaine is looking at him, resenting the fact that he’s looking at him at all.
“Okay, you know,” Kurt starts, hoping he can end this quickly. “I really didn’t mean to--“
“Kurt, I’m trying to say that I get it. You’re here,” Blaine says. “And that’s obviously great, but I miss our friends too. Of course I do.”
Kurt sighs, looks at Blaine. “I really wasn’t trying to pick a fight, Blaine.”
Blaine looks confused. “Are we fighting?”
“I don’t know, are we?”
“I thought we were just talking.”
Kurt lets out a tense breath. “Okay, if you say so.”
Blaine draws up his shoulders defensively. He looks hurt, again, and Kurt has to look away. He stares past Blaine, into the bathroom, where the curtains should be bringing out the color of the baseboard trim.
“I don’t understand why we can’t just have a conversation about this, Kurt. Can you at least look at me?”
Kurt glances quickly at Blaine. “I am looking at you, Blaine. I’m sitting right here, looking at you.”
“You’re not, you’re— never mind.” Blaine throws up his hands in an exaggerated show of exasperation that kind of makes Kurt want to scream. “I don’t even understand what we’re talking about anymore.”
“Then maybe you should just go meet June already.”
“Yeah,” Blaine says, shaking his head. “Fine. You’re right – I’m already late.”
“I’m sure she’s used to it,” Kurt says, gritting his teeth, ignoring the look Blaine gives him, which is pointed and dark.
He doesn’t say anything else, turns his attention back to his phone, and in another minute Blaine is gone. The door slides shut behind him, and the street sounds come back: traffic, and someone shouting something in a language Kurt pegs as Spanish, but is may be some more nuanced dialect from another place he’s never visited… Of course all that white noise had been there the whole time, though, Kurt thinks, he just hadn’t been listening.
Kurt feels awful for the rest of the day. He waits around for as long as he can for Blaine to get back from brunch, but eventually he has to leave for his shift at the diner. He texts Blaine on his way out, apologizes, citing general grumpiness, and stress, and gets a curt (no pun intended) reply back.
It’s fine Blaine says. Apology accepted.
It doesn’t feel much like acceptance though. It feels like Blaine has just given up, or at least, that he’s given up on the version of Kurt that’s incapable of having a conversation about the various shades of loneliness that this great city they live in seems so good at drawing out of them.
Kurt spends his time on the subway on the way to the diner feeling guilty, avoiding eye contact with anyone, because lately, he kind of feels like he’s walking around with the word asshole tattooed on his face.
He knows Blaine had been right to be angry. He’s not willing to have a conversation about this, or anything lately. It’s as if all the sudden, he can’t relate to Blaine, even about something like this, which is the exact sort of thing he’d normally trust Blaine to help him figure out. They should be able to be lonely and miss their friends in this huge city together.
It scares him - losing his temper, not being able to see eye to eye on small things, or big things, it all feels the same, lately. He doesn’t know how to make this right, because isn’t sure where the common ground is anymore. He’s afraid to look too closely, maybe.
It’s the wedding, he thinks. It makes every fight they have feel noteworthy, makes every disagreement feel like another tick in some column somewhere, reminding him that they’re not perfect – that maybe they’re not even compatible as roommates, let alone anything else.
Everything feels bigger and more important when the phrase trial run looms on the periphery. Blaine is late meeting him for coffee, twice in a row, and it feels like a referendum on their entire relationship. Petty arguments in the apartment, tripping over Blaine’s shoes in the dark because he refuses to use the shoe rack, again - everything starts to feel like one, big, stupid metaphor highlighting how utterly different Blaine is from Kurt, and vice versa.
Kurt feels so far away from Blaine, sometimes, even when they’re in the same room together. He feels detached, stuck in his own head, and he’s sure there’s a way to snap back, to just feel the things he feels for Blaine, to go back to that, and to put everything in perspective, but he can’t seem to get there, it always feels just slightly out of reach. If anything, he feels like he’s losing perspective, that the distance between them is growing as the summer stretches on.
Nothing is going according to plan, and Kurt honestly has no idea anymore – if they’ve arrived, if this is actually where they’re meant to be. He loves Blaine, but this is hard and he can list off all the excuses in the world to explain why – but none of them make it any easier.
They’re getting married, and Kurt should be in his element, should be at his absolute best. He knows that he needs to be, that Blaine deserves nothing less, but lately, he can’t help but feel like he’s failing. And Kurt can’t be at his best when he feels like he’s failing, he knows he can’t.
By the time he arrives at the diner for his shift, he’s come to a conclusion - something has to change, and soon. He just wishes he knew where to start.