Spoilers (if any): None.
Warnings (if any): Discussion of anti-gay slurs.
Word Count: ~3,700
Summary: It's sophomore year now. Kurt used to have a problem with no. Lately, he has a problem with yes.
This continues from:
Following Home | These Thousand Names for Gratitude | All the Honesty of Politics | Circles as the Dark Winds Down | The Distance Between Ohio and Boston | All the Pretty Little Horses
Kurt wonders what's wrong with him that, in response to being unhappy despite having everything he's ever wanted, he feels the need to call Rachel Berry.
“Seriously, I don't know why I'm even calling you, since you probably don't care and will just tell me that your life is better than mine anyway, but I'm sort of freaking out,” he says in a rush, lest he not get the chance later because it is Rachel, after all.
“Sometimes I hate it here,” she says, her voice small.
It's so abrupt that Kurt is shocked and actually stops walking to lean against a building in order to fully absorb the impact of whatever she's going to say next.
“Why?” he asks coyly and it's almost like flirting. It's something strange and unspoken that's always existed in their interactions, some need to seduce that has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with talent.
“I've been in New York a year now, and it's like the only thing I have to look forward to is failing.”
“You know what?” Kurt says, levering himself off from the building and walking again. “I could kiss you right now.”
“What? Wait. Please don't tell me you were all dramatic about Blaine kissing me because you're the one who likes girls. Because I remember when you declared your love for me at Thanksgiving, and –”
“You don't understand, Kurt, this place is making me crazy. I'm in all these classes with people who are like famous people's kids, and I can try to be their friends or date them or whatever, but then my success would be tainted, and it's just so hard, and they don't even like me anyway, and everyone keeps saying I should get a nose job and you just don't understand because you've always been so different from everybody else anyway, it's not like people can point at you and just say, 'oh, this one stupid thing is why you're going to be a failure.' I mean, you're just gay. Whatever. Truthfully, it probably gives you an advantage and if I were a straight man instead of a straight woman, it would probably piss me off, but really, Kurt, you don't know how good you have it.”
Kurt takes a deep breath. He is not going to get sucked into Rachel Berry's Universe starring Rachel Berry, especially when she's already sort of analyzed his problem without him getting around to actually explaining it.
'“You're not going to fail. You're going to drive people crazy, but you're not going to fail.”
“You're probably right. So what's the trouble in paradise?”
“I think I'm bad with yes,” Kurt says.
“Wow. Really? You were always so bad with no in school.”
“Thanks,” he says tersely. It's not like he ever benefited from that, and Kurt's annoyed she's rubbing it in his face as if he did.
“I think that's what high school is for,” she adds cheerfully, as if she's got any more of a clue about anything than him.
“I blew the note,” he blurts.
“'Defying Gravity.' I blew the note.”
“Oh, Kurt, it's okay that you --”
“No. People kept calling my dad and telling him I was a fag, Rachel, and I blew the note on purpose. I told him it was because I didn't think he knew how to deal with what would happen if I got that damn song. But no one would have cared. Or noticed. Other than you.”
“I wouldn't have called your dad and told him you were a fag,” Rachel says very earnestly.
“I know that.”
“You know, I feel really terrible that you felt you needed to tell me this when you know I'm already struggling.”
“Sorry,” Kurt says, sullenly, because, oh my god, lack of perspective, although suddenly, it hits him like a brick what it must be like to be Rachel, surrounded by him and Blaine and Finn and suddenly it's all so obvious. “I'm sorry people are always using you to figure stuff out, because they think you can take it.”
He can practically hear her shrug, older and smaller, down the other end of the line. “But that's what happens to people who fight for what they deserve, Kurt.”
“I fought for Blaine,” he says.
“Gently,” Rachel says. “You fought gently.”
When he gets home, Kurt's still unsettled by the conversation with Rachel. He doesn't feel better for it, and, possibly, he even feels a little guilty at having called her instead of Mercedes.
He also doesn't know what to say to Blaine, although, increasingly, he thinks he should say something, even if he can't figure out what, or why, that is.
But when he unlocks the door to their apartment, there's Blaine, quietly playing their piano, and his heart swells. He wishes they were older. Or had any idea how to do anything.
“Hey,” Blaine says, looking up from what he's doing.
“Hey,” Kurt says softly, before putting his things down and sliding onto the bench next to Blaine.
“You okay?” Blaine asks, and Kurt knows it's a bit like when they have serious conversations in the car, unable to look at each other because of the concerns of the road.
“I love coming home to you playing this thing,” Kurt says, voice full and rich.
“But I think I'm going a little crazy.”
“Is this a stop playing so we can have a terrible conversation conversation?” Blaine asks, and Kurt can see the way the muscles in his fingers are tensing, hear the way the song is becoming slightly less fluid.
“No. No, it's nothing like that. I'm just... unhappy.”
Blaine stops playing then. “With....”
“Not us,” Kurt says quickly, “I just... I called Rachel today and while she was talking about herself she said something that.... She said that now that she's been in New York for a while, she feels like the only thing she can do is fail.”
“Is that what you feel like?”
“Where's up from here, Blaine? I've spent my whole life just wanting one good thing, and I don't know how to do this when I have things I want all around me and they're not threatening to leave.”
“Was I threatening to leave?”
“Did I say that?”
“You might have implied it.”
“You might have just admitted to it.”
“Kurt,” Blaine says, weary and laughing, “What are we arguing about?”
“We're not arguing! I'm just... freaking out.”
“I got that. What about?”
“Happily ever after only happens when someone dies before the breakup.”
“Kurt... that is --”
“Well, no. Just. Dark,” Blaine says, wryly.
“My mother died when I was eight.”
“And your dad fell in love again,” he says, even as it feels stupid and wrong and unfair coming out of his mouth, despite it being entirely true.
“Are you telling me I should stop waiting for terrible things to happen because I'll survive them if they do?”
“You understand that's entirely simple and sane, and I am not sane right now, Blaine?” Kurt almost sounds amused.
“If you really want me to yell at you about it, I can probably get it up for that, but if disaster is immanent, I'd rather enjoy the time we have and strongly, strongly -- Kurt, do you hear me? -- prefer that we not be the architects of our own disaster.”
“So, what? I just stop being miserable and then we have domestic bliss.”
“Pretty much, although I know you can't turn on a dime, and I still have to do the dishes.”
“You're so calm I may need to start throwing things,” he teases, although he's not sure it's not also something of a threat.
“Kurt, you've been itchy like this for months. And you're not the only one who calls people on their way home from school.”
“So you've just been waiting --”
“For you to realize that you're freaking out? Yeah. Kinda. Look, you didn't throw my ass out when I was being depressed and angry and uncommunicative about my father, so I can probably wait out whatever's going on with you.”
Kurt makes a disgruntled noise.
Blaine takes his hand and kisses it. “Did you want piano time?”
Kurt shakes his head. “Not tonight. Keep playing though? It helps.”
What finally saves Kurt is his Italian course. Blaine has no idea why and assumes Kurt has no idea why either, but they're both perfectly happy to not expend any effort trying to understand it. Kurt loves it, babbles about it, obsesses on it the way he obsesses on music and clothes, and it makes Kurt fall in love with cooking again, after a summer of insisting it was too hot to go anywhere near a stove, even with the air conditioner in their bedroom running full blast and the doors open.
Blaine feels a bit spoiled and a bit guilty, getting home at ten or later after rehearsals or study sessions and finding Kurt at the stove finishing a sauce or insisting there's just one more thing to saute and then slipping into what Italian he has for it before Blaine kisses him quiet. Over dinner, they sit studying side-by-side, sneaking glances at each other as they eat better than any college students really should.
Blaine thinks about how many of their friends would call Kurt the wife over this and sighs. Blaine suspects he finds the cracks about Kurt's supposed girlishness far more tiring than Kurt does. Kurt's just coy when he's happy. And playful. It's got nothing to do with gender, not remotely; it's just one more of those things that Kurt's sneaky about, and Blaine knows that it's hard to understand if you aren't really, really – like having as much sex as possible – close to him.
“I made cheesecake,” Kurt says somewhat nervously, hovering right by the front door when Blaine walks in after a fairly terrible, intensely weird day (an 80 on an econ test? Someone bursting into tears in stats? A delay on the T because of a body in the tracks? That, he thinks, is possibly too creepy to even mention to Kurt).
Blaine smiles, although it's weary. “Why do you sound so nervous about that?”
“I only made cheesecake.”
“We can order in. Don't get me wrong, I love this coming home to dinner thing, but seriously, seriously not necessary.”
“Can we not have the conversation where you feel guilty for being a man even though I'm one too and actually cook, not to cater to your whims, but because it relaxes me? The fact that you like my food? Side benefit only, Blaine.”
“So much consideration,” Blaine says and kisses him.
“So what's with the cheesecake?”
“It was challenging.”
As he's dragged over to their table and pushed into one of the chairs, Blaine has to resist the urge to tell Kurt he's adorable. The cheesecake, however, does, admittedly, look grim.
“Why is it...?”
“I was going to say sunken.”
“It's made with ricotta.”
“As an explanation, I can't say cheese is really comforting.”
“It's actually pretty good,” Kurt says, grabbing a bite sized piece off the plate from where the thing is continuing to crumble and popping it in his mouth.
Blaine makes a dubious face at him.
Kurt sits on his lap, breaks another somewhat messy piece off the cake and pushes it against Blaine's lips until he opens his mouth to it.
Blaine moans, not because it's delicious, although it is. And not even because his incredibly hot and somewhat bizarre boyfriend is feeding him, but because this has just been the longest, weirdest day ever and now Kurt is somewhat sweetly getting cake all over his face and it reminds him of a cousin's wedding he went to at thirteen. Kurt kisses him then, and it doesn't do anything at all to silence that thought process.
“I love you,” Blaine says, breathless and small, when the kiss breaks, and that's all he's going to let himself say about that as he wraps his arms tightly around Kurt's waist.
They don't order in, but wind up eating half the cheesecake with their fingers, before Kurt starts unbuttoning Blaine's shirt.
“Bedroom?” Blaine asks.
They wind up in the bedroom anyway, Blaine sitting up against the headboard and Kurt, eyes squeezed shut against the bedroom light, slowly lowering himself onto Blaine's cock. His thighs are trembling, and Blaine can't help but wonder when he's going to freak out. This is sometimes, often, still hard for Kurt, and the secret, of course, is that they both like it that way; there's a certain release in the struggle of this thing they don't do all that often and most times don't even care about.
It's not that Kurt doesn't love it; it's that it's entirely overwhelming for him. But Kurt is also a control freak, and this, with Blaine stroking his thigh softly and praising him while he runs the show, is exactly, exactly what he needs. He's almost embarrassed they haven't thought of it sooner.
When Kurt finally manages to sink down all the way and starts to move, when Blaine wraps his hand around his cock, Kurt opens his eyes and Blaine realizes it's the first time they've ever had sex with the lights on.
Kurt's breath catches as he looks at Blaine's face, awash in relief, like he's been waiting for this for years.
“Kurt, stop,” Blaine says, placing a hand over Kurt's nervously drumming fingers. “What's going on?”
“I want to go to Italy for a semester,” he says in such a rush it's almost a single, horrifically polysyllabic word.
“Study abroad? That's great,” Blaine says, his response automatic and entirely sincere. He's known he's going to have to broach that very topic himself next year for a while now, and Kurt going first? Huge relief.
“Really? You aren't..? I mean. Do you want me to go?”
“I want you to do what you need to do. Us being together is never supposed to stop that. I'm glad you want this, and I will miss you like crazy. And I'll probably completely panic the week before you leave. Our bed will be cold and the whole thing will be fucking terrifying, but my incredible boyfriend will be in Italy getting ogled by cute priests and sending me brilliant postcards and picking up incredible recipes and studying things he loves and making me wish I was there, and I think it's exactly what we need,” he says in a rush.
“I feel like I'm supposed to be offended... but!”
“Don't be. Italy, Kurt. Italy!”
“So, vague idea or have you already sort of been deep in the process and freaking out about how to tell me?”
“Um, yes? All the research, none of the paperwork. Figured out the dollars, talked to my Dad and Carole ... so, uh, yeah; I should have said something sooner.”
Blaine waves it off. Now is a much, much less dangerous topic than then. “Okay. So, paperwork. Let's get it done,” Blaine says clapping his hands together.
“You know I can do the paperwork without you, right?”
“Yeah, but what are you going to wear in your passport photo?”
“I cannot believe you are going to leave that beautiful man of yours,” Mercedes says.
“I am not leaving Blaine. I'm going to another country for twelve weeks while he waits at home and pines exquisitely for me. If I'm very lucky, I'll get some pornographic Skype time and a bunch of faintly terrible erotic poetry out of it.”
“Aren't you worried someone's going to snatch him away from you?”
“Oh, they've already tried. And failed,” Kurt says, dramatically, before sobering. “No, I'm not worried. Not the rational part of me anyway.”
“But what about you... Italy. I mean, can you really go to another country and not find out what it feels like to kiss someone from the other side of the world?”
“Mercedes. It's only Europe. It's not that far. And yes, I can. Because Blaine and I are faithful, and I love him and I don't want anyone else.”
“Kurt, you are beautiful and are going to be surrounded, surrounded, by hot Italian men who will tell you exactly how beautiful you are in a language you've decided to love even more than French.”
“Mercedes, who's an ice queen? I am an ice queen. Resistance isn't just easy; it's fun.”
Kurt buys a ring, a cheap, gold-plated ring from some site on the Internet. It looks like a wedding ring because it is a wedding ring. And he's going to wear it the entire time he's in Italy in hopes that it will tell people hands off before he has to tell people hands off, and he's never, ever going to tell Blaine about it, because awkward.
So, of course Blaine comes home early one day when Kurt's wearing the ring to get used to it and, having succeeded, has entirely forgotten that it's sitting on his hand blinking married in gaudy 14 karat lights.
“What's this?” Blaine asks, grabbing his hand. The question's amused, but very, very intense.
“A ring. I wear lots of rings.”
“It's not a hint, okay. Don't freak out. I just... we're going to be away from each other for twelve weeks and Mercedes keeps calling to talk to me about how hot Italian men are going to want me, and I thought discouraging interest from afar might be a good plan.”
“I feel incredibly uncomfortable with this,” he says.
“I know. I'm sorry. You weren't even ever supposed to know --”
Blaine shakes his head. “No, you're not getting it. If you're going to wear a ring on that finger, I'm giving it to you.”
“This wasn't a hint!”
“I'm not proposing!”
“Wait, what? I mean, okay, good. But... huh?” Kurt asks, just incredibly confused at this point.
“Look, it's just a piece of jewelry. You can tell people whatever you want to tell them about it in Rome. But it's still something that kind of matters, so let it be something I buy you, okay?”
“Try okay. Less awkward,” Blaine says.
They both laugh full of fond, embarrassed amusement and the tension only breaks when Kurt puts his head on Blaine's shoulder.
“Sorry I'm an idiot,” Kurt says.
“Not an idiot,” Blaine says even as he's at a loss for an adequate replacement noun in this particular moment.
“Kurt,” Blaine says, snagging Kurt hand in his and temporarily stopping Kurt's packing progress.
“This is all so --”
“Yes. It's hard. But there will be more fabulous clothes in Italy, and anything that stays here you can think about coming home to as eagerly as you think about coming home to me.”
Kurt gives a little huff of laughter and smiles. His eyes are watery, and although his face is so much more mature now, Blaine can't help but see in him the boy he was the first time they met.
“So, kept my promise, or threat, I guess,” he says and digs into the front pocket of his jeans to pull out a ring.
He hands it to Kurt with as much casual awkwardness as he can muster, wanting to avoid a hundred little symbols – ring boxes and slipping it on his finger for him and all of that. None of that, however, makes the gesture feel any less terrifying.
“Oh. Gosh,” Kurt says, taking it. “This. Wow. I still feel so awkward about this whole --”
Blaine shushes him. “There's an inscription. You should read it.”
Kurt makes a face at him. An inscription strikes him as going entirely too far if this isn't that, but what can he do but do as Blaine asks?
“'May you always find your way home. - B,'” Kurt says softly.
“Do you get it?” Blaine asks.
“Explain it to me,” Kurt says dryly.
“It's not about us. It's about you. Whether home is Rome. Or here. With me or with someone else, I want you to have it.”
“That's... that feels like a bigger promise than all the things this isn't.” Kurt says, through tears.
“Exactly. But goddamn, Kurt, I hope you keep choosing me.”
Kurt manages to calmly and seriously slip the ring onto his finger before throwing himself into Blaine's arms, all his fears about the next twelve weeks tumbling out.
The airport is hardest on Blaine. Because Kurt is excited now; he can't wait to go, more of the world he'd thought he'd never get looming before him as he whispers to Blaine about opera in Rome and pasta in Rome and everything in Rome, as Blaine wonders how the hell he's going to stand being in their bed alone for so long.
At security, it's him, not Kurt who cries, although Kurt turns back, over and over to wave from before the metal detector and after it; both of them having to go up on their toes to even see each other over everyone else leaving someone behind for somewhere else.
Blaine texts him, over and over, I love you and Call me from New York and I hope you get a window seat and You have no idea how much I miss you already and doesn't even leave the airport until he's seen on the notice board that Kurt's plane has taken off.
He calls Wes from his car in the parking lot and melts down.
“This is the hardest thing I've ever done,” he says.
“No, it's not.”
“Loving him is not the hardest thing you've ever done.”
Blaine takes a deep breath and lets it out. Sometimes he hates Wes for always being right.
Next: Fauna and Flora