Title: And I Have Heard You Speaking
Word Count: ~3,700
Summary: Holding on.
The series so far:
Boston: 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 | Languages You Don't Even Know | Fauna and Flora | Where Water Doesn't Speak | Under Glass We Are Expected to Blossom | You Were Someone Else Before We Came Here
D.C.: Strategies and Tactics | The Many Shades of Sugar | When Sea Levels Rise | The History of Sand | Tales of Minor Gods | A Little Bit Ruined | The Numbers Held by Ghosts | Weights and Measures | Anamnesis | Hello, I Must Be Going
Kurt waits to call Blaine for longer than he perhaps should that first night, but he's exhausted, and Wes's apartment is small and drafty.
Soon Wes will marry, and he and Pris will find a place together, leaving someone else to move in to the three-hundred square feet where Kurt and Blaine argued about condoms as they leaned against the kitchen counter eating bagels.
So Kurt drifts around the apartment like a ghost, touching everything, the pads of his fingers like spies.
He's still randomly touching Wes's things when he calls Blaine.
“Don't be nervous already,” Kurt says with a shy laugh. “I've hardly been gone.”
“How is it?”
“You at Wes's?”
“Yeah. How's it there?”
“Weird. Am I coming up this weekend?”
Kurt wants to say yes, but it's been a long time since he's had any chance at caution.
“Can I tell you Wednesday?” he asks.
“Yeah, that's fine,” Blaine says.
The acquiescence unsettles him, but he doesn't press it.
Instead he tells Blaine about feeling challenged and up to it for the first time in his life.
“Everything aches already,” he moans.
“Everything?” Blaine teases.
“Well, no, not everything,” he fires back, coy. But it's close enough; he'll spend a year pretending that the ache in his arms, the trembling in his thighs, means he spent night before fucking Blaine.
Kurt's uncertainty about Blaine visiting is not, actually, fine.
Because for Blaine, nothing is fine, which is sort of ridiculous, because it's not like anything is actually wrong.
He's fine, the apartment's fine, and, most importantly, Kurt is fine.
But, it's only been 24 hours, and he already can't stand it.
On Tuesday, Kurt, while stuffing a salad into his face during a break, finally has a chance to talk to the man he's understudying for. He's worried they won't like each other.
Jay is older than him and nothing that won't always, absolutely, look like a boy from the audience. He is thirty-two and this is, he tells Kurt, his fourth tour.
“I did two, back to back, younger than you, and another about four years ago, and I swore that was going to be it,” he says, waving a hand about airily. “But this part.”
“I know,” Kurt says, although he doesn't quite. He would have been happy never to have a role that requires an excuse for his voice.
“I just think it's so delicious....”
“I can't believe his father tells him his testicles were eaten by a pig.”
“Right??!?!?, but I love it, I love that this is the guy lecturing everyone else on desire.”
Kurt nods, attentive but silent. This show completely freaks him out, and he cannot talk about it yet, even if it's his job.
“So you have to tell me,” Jay continues, and Kurt gets the feeling he never shuts up, “if there's anywhere you need to impress someone, because I do a very convincing 24 flu.”
“Blaine,” Kurt sighs into the phone that night.
“You're all breathy,” he teases.
“Can I talk to you about this show?”
“Yeah,” Blaine says, puzzled.
“No, I mean... remember when we saw it, and I couldn't talk about it?”
“So now I'm in it. And I still can't talk about it.”
“Are you really freaked out?”
“What can I do?”
“Just... prod me through it?” Kurt says, and Blaine thinks he sounds both relieved and timid.
“Okay. I'm probably going to piss you off though.”
“I know. But I need --”
“Is it the castrato thing?”
“No. Not really. Why are you even asking that? I bitch about that all the time.”
Blaine snorts as Kurt continues to rant.
“They didn't even sound like what people think they sounded like,” Kurt points out. “They didn't sound like me.”
“Right. I know. Okay, so –”
“Simon? He's magical, right?” Kurt says, cutting him off.
“Well,” Blaine says, feeling faintly ridiculous.“He is a vampire.”
“Whatever. He's the only character who keeps dispensing something resembling wisdom, right?”
“And he's able to do that because of the choices he's had taken away from him. He never wanted to be castrated, and he told the vampires no.”
Blaine resists the urge to point out just how little he's actually participating in this conversation. If it helps, it helps. “He's the most otherworldly thing in an otherworldly show. It's what you do.”
Kurt gives an annoyed huff. “It's just so adolescent. No one's special because terrible things happen to them.”
“Maybe he would have been special anyway,” Blaine says. “Maybe he would have been even more special. Maybe that's the tragedy.”
“Not what happened, but what didn't?” Kurt asks.
“I wish you were here right now,” Kurt says.
The conversation sits with him the whole of the next day, and has he sings his scales, he tries to imagine Simon's other life, the one, despite the fact that he doesn't exist at all, he never got to have.
“Yes,” Kurt says without preamble when he calls Blaine during a break from learning some choreography, somewhat heedless of whatever is going on in his boyfriend's schedule.
“Yes, what?” Blaine asks carefully, murmuring it really, as he excuses himself from a briefing.
“This weekend,” Kurt says a little breathless, half worried Blaine's going to make him beg.
“I'm actually really happy, you know,” Kurt says. “But you should be here with me.”
It's that night that Kurt realizes that while he has already left home, the bulk of the touring cast has not. They live in Brooklyn or Hoboken or Jersey City, and return each evening to lovers and roommates, packing and negotiations. There is a solidarity of excitement amongst them, and despair, that Kurt and Blaine have already done and done alone.
But it is easier, Kurt finds, to feel like he is ahead, instead of behind, for a change, and it leaves him his evenings to puzzle over the creature he is increasingly unsettled at having to play, at least, on occasion.
Despite his discomfort, which is, at times, nearly dysphoric, Kurt suspects that he and his castrato vampire might well be friends had they the opportunity to socialize. After all, both their lives are stories made from loss.
“Hey, can I ask you something?” Kurt asks, skipping any sort of greeting, when he finally calls Rachel too late in the evening to be considered polite and less than twenty-four hours before he'll have Blaine back in his arms.
“And hello to you too, Kurt. How's New York? What's it like being a Broadway star? How does it feel to ignore your friends?”
“Oh no. You can call me self-absorbed, but you of all people, Miss Rachel fucking Berry, do not get to criticize me for it.”
“But we're in the same city,” she whines.
“I know. I'm sorry. It's been hard. I saw Wes to get his keys and that's been it. Next week?”
“Fine. Now what did you want to ask me?”
“What do you think I'd be like if high school hadn't sucked?”
“There was no way high school wasn't going to suck,” she says, quick and forceful.
“Right, but, pretend. What would have happened to me?”
“Why are you asking this?”
The wariness in her voice brings him up short. “Blaine says that maybe Simon's tragedy isn't that suffering's made him wise and remarkable, but that he would have been even moreso without it.”
Rachel sighs. “You're going to think this is all about me, but it isn't, or that I still hate your stupid show, which I do, but you're on a national tour and practically married to a guy who is ridiculously good stuff. So why give a shit what high school's taken from you? Especially now?”
“I just keep thinking – look, I never told you this okay –“
“Okay,” she says, clearly baffled.
“I keep thinking Blaine was talking about himself. Or us. Like terrible things happened to me and they made me more, but terrible things happened to him, and they made him less. And I just... that scares me.”
“I don't want to leave him behind,” he says softly.
The best thing about the rehearsals, and everyone assures Kurt the whole of the tour will be like this too, is that he doesn't have to throw himself into his work in order to put the rest of his life aside for a few hours; the show takes him up and runs away with him daily. Like Simon, like Persephone, like all the strange flowers he's played, Kurt has very little choice in what compels him.
But when the day is over and everyone is sweaty and discouraged because they've reached that part of the process where everything is clearly going to get much worse before it gets better and no one is sure they'll be ready for opening (god, Schenectady, who even cares?), Kurt can't help bouncing excitedly on his toes, because Blaine.
“Husband coming up?” Jay asks, clearly amused.
“Oh god, we're not even engaged,” Kurt says looking down at his ring. “It's so stupid.”
“Long story you'll tell me somewhere in transit?”
“Yeah,” Kurt says, laughing at himself more than anything. “Yeah, totally.”
“Piece of advice?” Jay offers.
Kurt gestures for him to go ahead, even if he's a little annoyed by the presumption.
“Tell him what he needs to hear right now.”
Kurt thinks about arguing or explaining or even asking for clarification, but instead he just nods, because, frankly, Jay is right. “I will. Thanks.”
“Hey,” Kurt says, when he takes Blaine's bag and drops it on the ground so he can pull him into his arms.
“You didn't clean up for me.”
“I thought you liked me sweaty,” he flirts, even though the truth is that he just didn't have time to go back to the apartment – not home, he reminds himself, not home – first.
“God, I really do,” he says, and Kurt can tell by the way his fingers are digging into his back that it's taking some effort for him not to grab his ass instead.
Kurt chuckles. “Where do you want to go for dinner?” he asks, pulling away just a bit.
Blaine groans. “Can't we do food later?”
“I'm going to take such good care of you tonight,” he murmurs into his ear, angling close enough to palm at his boyfriend's crotch for a moment without, he hopes, anyone noticing.
“Breathe through it,” Kurt says, voice soft and a bit chiding, as he squeezes before taking his hand away, “because I'm going to die if I don't eat soon.”
“What?” Kurt asks. Blaine is watching him eat.
“You. Devouring carbs.”
“Yeah, well, you try rehearsing ten hours a day and then going home to work on it for another four.”
Blaine puts his fork down for a moment and rests his chin in his hand to just gaze at Kurt. “I hate missing a second of this,” he says, but it's entirely fond.
Kurt blushes slightly and drops his eyes because Blaine looks exactly the way he did the first time he told him he loved him. They were seventeen, and it seems like lifetimes ago.
“Was that too much?” Blaine asks.
Kurt laughs. “You watching me eat?”
“No,” Kurt echoes and then sighs. “I don't want you to be missing a second of this either.”
The walk back to Wes's hand in hand, leisurely and quiet.
It is, Kurt knows, a respite from what the rest of the weekend will be – checking the clock constantly to see how many more hours, how many more meals, how many more touches and sleeps until they're apart again. But walking is just walking because they've never counted steps.
“I like this,” Blaine says, squeezing his hand.
“Me too.” Kurt doesn't know why they don't do it at home; it's safe enough, mostly.
“God, this is weird,” Blaine says, dragging a hand back through his hair once they're upstairs.
“I know, right?” Kurt says laughing.
“Did Wes give you grief about it?” Blaine asks.
Blaine shoots him a dark look.
“That implies Wes knows things!”
Blaine flushes immediately, and Kurt eyes widen.
“You gossip with Wes about sex,” he says. It's not a question.
Kurt shakes his head, laughing to himself. “Seriously?”
“How does that even work?” Kurt exclaims.
“What do you mean?”
“Wes is uptight, I have a dick, I assume you don't want to hear about Pris's tits.... oh my god, Blaine, I am never going to be able to look him in the eye again.”
“Sorry?” Blaine offers. He's clearly not sorry at all.
Kurt waves it off. “Come here,” he murmurs, reaching out to Blaine and reeling him in.
“Yeah?” Blaine says, just before they kiss.
“Let me take care of you.”
It's a long night, and Kurt is happy to keep Blaine on a nearly miserable edge for most of it.
“Why are you doing this?” Blaine gasps when Kurt squeezes his balls just a little too hard.
He is still for a moment, watching him, afraid for half a second that none of this has been okay. “Because I'm going to need you to do it to me tomorrow.”
Blaine wakes up in the middle of the night to find Kurt staring at him.
“Hey,” he tries, but he's dry and it comes out as a croak.
Kurt twists to snag a glass of water off the bedside table and hand it to Blaine.
“Thanks,” he says, once he's taken a long swallow.
Kurt smiles softly and takes the glass back. “Hey, yourself,” he says, once he's settled back in bed.
“If I ever take you for granted,” Blaine starts.
“I just... this feels very precious to me right now.”
“Don't,” Kurt says, brushing his fingers over his face. “Don't count, don't clutch. Just... be here.”
“I know,” Kurt says. “So am I.”
They spend Saturday morning at the Met, Kurt insisting they go to a corner of the museum filled with some of the most hideous furniture Blaine has ever seen in his life.
“It's 18th century,” Kurt says. “German.”
“I know.” Blaine can, after all, read the sign.
“Jay says no one ever comes here.”
“Are you trying to tell me that even the historical context for your vampire is lonely?” Blaine asks.
Kurt snorts. “Apparently.”
“Come on,” Blaine says, tugging at his hand, “let's go look at the beds.”
At lunch, as Kurt picks at an open-faced gravlox sandwich served on brown bread, Blaine watches his eyes dart around the room.
“Who're you looking for?” he teases.
“Me, I think.”
“Really,” he says.
“This will sound terrible.”
“Sometimes that's your best stuff.”
Kurt laughs, but it's rueful. He leans across the table to get closer to Blaine. “I keep expecting people to know. Like when I came out, or when we started having sex.”
“This goes on the Why You're Friends with Rachel list,” Blaine says, not unkindly.
“I know,” Kurt hisses in a whisper. “She, by the way, is really mad at me.”
“For leap-frogging her path to stardom?”
“No, actually. I mean, yeah, probably. But I haven't had a chance to see her yet, and I called her pretty late for some advice the other day.”
“How did that go?”
“I don't know yet.”
That night they take Wes and Pris to dinner because they have to. It's not that they aren't both glad to see them, it's just that it's hard to be around other people.
“So have you set a date yet?” Blaine asks early into the meal, when normal people would still be talking about the weather.
Wes shakes his head.
“Next fall? The following summer? We're not sure, but not 'til Kurt is home,” Pris says, smiling at him instead of Blaine.
Kurt arches an eyebrow. “I think I'm feeling a bit like an undue burden,” he says a little breathlessly.
“Come on,” West says, “We weren't going to wait until you guys could and then not have you at ours.”
“Plus, we really didn't think it would happen so soon,” Pris adds.
“So wait a second,” Blaine says with a laugh, squeezing Kurt's knee under the table, “your impassioned and emotional speech at Thanksgiving was actually about you guys not being ready yet?”
“That was never supposed to happen like that,” Wes fires back, but it's not a denial.
“Welcome to the rest of our lives,” Kurt says, smirking at Pris and nodding towards their boys.
“Did you mean it?” Blaine asks, as they wander through Central Park, fingers faintly linked.
“Which?” Kurt asks, turning back to look at him.
“Last night,” Blaine says. “You know.”
“Yes,” Kurt says, and while he's surprised that Blaine's asking about the sex and not what he'd said to Pris, he's glad he remembers.
It has to be, Blaine knows, as they walk through the park, a seduction. Kurt is not like him, and where he is wont to drown, Kurt has always fought for air.
So Blaine is nervous, because this is a gift, but he's not sure he can actually take Kurt where he wants to go.
He considers confessing it, but pushes him up against a tree instead.
Kurt looks shocked, and Blaine wonders suddenly if this was just a dare.
It's not, but Blaine's not certain of it until they're back at Wes's and Kurt is moaning into his mouth.
“Is this good?” he asks, as he yanks Kurt's belt open, hands too sure to be called frantic.
“Don't ask,” Kurt pants, the words distorted by the push of his tongue into Blaine's mouth.
They wind up the floor, first because Blaine wants to blow him, and then because Kurt needs to kiss him, and it becomes easier somehow to scramble out of their clothes where they are.
Kurt winds up crawling, laughing and naked, across Wes's fake, and extraodinarily scratchy, Afghan rug, a replacement for the one in his parents still won't let him relocate from Westerville.
Before Kurt can climb up on the bed, Blaine grabs him by the hips and pulls him down into his lap. He jerks him then, nails of his other hand scratching over Kurt's chest, until he is whimpering and crying in Blaine's lap, his head dropped back against Blaine's shoulder.
“That's it, baby,” he says, but he's sure Kurt doesn't hear him. “Why don't you come for me so I can put you back together again?”
After, Blaine is relieved when Kurt eventually clambers onto the bed himself. He'd been getting cold and was worried he was going to have to carry Kurt and that, that, in turn, would become a thing.
“Fuck,” Kurt says, flopping onto his side and faintly reaching for Blaine once he's managed to pull the covers part way up.
“What you needed?” Blaine asks as he stands to stretch, his legs stiff from the way he had crossed them to keep Kurt, bucking and writhing, close to him on the floor.
Kurt nods. “Not how I expected to get there,” he says.
“Me either,” Blaine says with a shrug, as he climbs into bed. “Do you want to tell me what that was about?”
“Before we go for round two?” Kurt tries to deflect, but Blaine just takes it, as easy as ever.
“Before we go for round two.”
“Before you met me,” Kurt says as he plays with Blaine's fingers, “I wasn't a very nice person.”
“You were fifteen and bullied.”
“I would have been unpleasant anyway,” Kurt says. “I thought it was cool. That words were different. And you know me. I still do.”
Blaine nods, even as he smiles. Nothing Kurt is saying is untrue, but really none of it matters either, not to him.
“The tragedy of my life, whatever it may turn out to be, is not that I would have been a better person without slushies and dumpsters and Dave fucking Karofsky.” It's said without venom. In fact, Kurt's nearly sounds fond.
“So you are not like Simon,” Blaine says simply, playing with Kurt's fingers in return, now that he can see where at least part of this is going.
“No,” he says. “But sometimes I worry you are.”
It's like being hit. It is, Blaine realizes as he takes a deep, shuddering breath, about being hit.
“Do you want me to answer?” he asks. “Or do you want to tell me how you feel about that?”
“I think you probably know how I feel about that.”
“I wish I could tell you you were wrong,” Blaine says after a long time, “but the thing about my wounds is that they heal and my ambitions are what has come out of the other side of their toll. I'm not ready for them yet, but when the time comes, I will be.”
“My wounds don't heal,” Kurt says. It is ever so slightly a question, but it is also an apology.
“I know,” Blaine says, fond. “You've grown around them, and always will, I imagine. I don't want to be one of those things.”
“I don't want to leave you behind,” Kurt says, his tears quick and disturbingly absent of artifice.
There is no round two. Instead, they fall asleep holding hands, and in the morning, Blaine wakes to Kurt flipping through their calendars, both kept oddly, anachronistically, on paper, in matching leather-bound books designed to fit into suit pockets and gifted to them by Blaine's parents for Christmas.
“My dreams have never had other people in them,” Kurt says without looking at him, back bent over the notes his is making as he compares their schedules. “And this would be easier to do on my own, but I finally get what you're scared of, and I'm not going to let it happen.” He looks back at Blaine who is staring at him, sleepy, stunned, and swathed in Wes's crisp white sheets.
“I want you to come visit me as often as you can stand, and I want you to ask me whatever you need to,” Kurt continues pointedly. “I won't say no.”