Word Count: ~3,750
Summary: Things change, confessions happen.
Warnings: Non-specific discussion of past suicidal ideation
Song notes: The musical Wes takes them to see is made up. Sadly, Dance of the Vampires is not. The song Kurt sings at the bar is an unaccompanied version of This Mortal Coil's arrangement of "I Come and Stand At Every Door" which is actually Nâzım Hikmet's poem "Kız Çocuğu" set to music.
Author's notes: This story has always been intended as a fairytale, where hard, realistic work pays off with things more wonderful and terrible than you can imagine. This is that moment. I have, as such, taken some liberties with how some things work and my own hopes for the future, but I hope they will be largely invisible to most readers.
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
Late in the afternoon, three days after they go back to Ohio, Blaine's parents call just to say hello. Kurt smiles, more gently than perhaps he should, as Blaine refuses to believe that nothing is wrong and that no one has died. They just want to say hello, and thank him – and Kurt – for their hospitality.
“This may take some getting used to,” Blaine says with a nervous laugh after he hangs up the phone.
Kurt says nothing, because it wouldn't feel right, encouraging Blaine to trust them, when he had just wanted to be done. If he lets himself think about it, he knows he invited them to Christmas so that they would fail conspicuously in the face of his efforts.
Except they didn't.
So instead, he takes Blaine's hand, and they go to bed without supper, just as the sun is setting.
They skip out on New Year's Eve, but later, from bed, remember to text well wishes to their friends. It is, Kurt thinks, a little embarrassing; they'd been expected at more than one party, but the sex is very, very good.
“It is going to be an extraordinary year,” Blaine says at 2am when he realizes that he and Kurt, naked and filthy (there is come streaked across Kurt's thighs), are celebrating the holiday by companionably riffling through their refrigerator in search of a snack.
“Totally,” Kurt says absently. “Hey, will you kick me out of bed if I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”
“Oh my god,” Blaine says. “That sounds amazing.”
By mid-January Blaine tells Kurt that he thinks this term is going to kill him, and Kurt has to stop himself from reminding Blaine that their current detour and any potential misery caused by it is totally of his own making.
Except they're not miserable. They have a nice apartment and good friends, and if Kurt doesn't love moody drunks and sticky glasses and filthy napkins, he's still singing, actually singing, for his supper. And Blaine is... happy. Sometimes Kurt can hardly believe it.
For Valentine's Day Kurt takes it upon himself to organize a musical review at the bar.
It's a resume filler, but it's also the hope that a cover charge will make the lovelorn a little less frighteningly inebriated.
It doesn't work, but Blaine shows up to the late show with a bouquet of three dozen roses for him and when he presents them to Kurt between songs the audience thinks it's part of the show.
One of the waitresses hollers at him to propose.
In March, Rachel gets offered another children's theater tour and says no. She calls Kurt every day for a week and asks him if he thinks she's a diva.
Wes calls and invites them to New York for a weekend. Blaine tries to demur, this semester really is trying to kill him, but Wes interrupts.
“You don't understand,” he says. “I saw this show last night, and you and Kurt need to see it.”
“It's a musical about vampires,” Kurt says tartly as he and Blaine curl in their seats facing each other. He's splurged on Amtrak for them; Kurt knows what it is in memory of and thinks it sweet.
“Wes said --”
“Wes is many things. A possessor of unimpeachable taste is not one of them,” Kurt says.
Blaine raises an eyebrow, surprised.
Kurt giggles. “Wait, wait, wait, are you under the impression that he let you get away with all those appalling song choices because they weren't actually appalling? No, Blaine. You and Wes share a disease.”
He gives Kurt a soft smile. “Wes said --”
“I know, I know, Wes said he saw it and thought, this is Kurt's chance. And I say, it's a show about vampires – that never ends well; have you watched Dance of the Vampires on YouTube? Have you? – and what am I going to do, really? Go up on stage and mug someone for a role?”
He tries not to sound bitter, but he is. He's not Equity, he has to rely on open calls, and there are just too many variables in play for him not to feel more than a little annoyed.
But then Blaine is kissing him sweetly, not caring who sees, and they tangle their legs as the train rumbles past Baltimore.
Leaving the theater, Kurt knows that Blaine and Wes and Pris are waiting for him to say something, but he doesn't want to be around anyone right now and the show is... it's not perfect. There's a lot of it, in fact, that he doesn't care for at all, and he can already hear the arguments that he and Rachel will have about it once she gets to it.
But that doesn't matter, because there is one song, one perfect song in it that he, more than anyone who has ever lived, is meant to sing.
“I... it's hard to have anything comfortable to say about it,” he says softly, glad when Blaine takes his hand, because Blaine knows in a way Wes can't, how angry it makes him that a perfect Broadway role does exist for him, and it's a castrato who sings, lecturingly, about desire.
Blaine squeezes his hand.
“It is an absence,” Kurt sings under his breath, coy, then, a second time, wrathful, before he trails off into the melody.
In another life, it would have saved his life. And even now, never and ever to be as essential and easy as Blaine is about sex, he is grateful for it.
He hums again. “My desire has many names,” he whispers into the melody.
It's simple, maybe even trite, but it's something that anyone with an absence knows. And that's the fundamental difference between him and Blaine; Blaine wants to be made whole, and Kurt just wants.
Rachel sees the show two months later and hates it. She and Kurt have a screaming match about it on the phone, and that's when he realizes, she's like Blaine. It's unsettling, and something he keeps to himself.
He begins to sing differently at the bar, trying his songs as different characters, instead of as himself. People notice and treat him like a star.
He calls Rachel and asks, “Do you ever think the people you aren't are better than the people you are?”
She doesn't understand the question.
As the term ends Blaine melts down. Twice.
The first time is about a group project, and Kurt tries not to smile as Blaine paces back and forth across their living room yelling about how they are treating him like a girl and expecting him to be conscientious enough to do the whole presentation himself and slap their names on it when they can't be bothered to contribute.
“Two things,” Kurt says. “First. It's your body language. Second, fuck them.”
“What?” Blaine is genuinely startled.
“The way you sit. It's naughty secretary sexy, but it's not going to make the recalcitrant children you go to school with obey.”
“Okay,” Blaine says; he hasn't the time for all the reactions he has to that.
Kurt hums. “Anyway, play chicken with them. You'll probably win. And if you don't? Remember that your presentation is a performance, and you are a better performer than they are.”
“That sounds too simple.”
“It's not a solution Blaine. It's just the truth. Work with it.”
The second time Blaine melts down is about where he should intern over the summer.
“There's what I want to do, and... well, what I want to do, if that makes sense?”
“Not really,” Kurt says, having learned that cold is what Blaine wants from him when he's freaking out in this particular way; it makes him focus.
“Okay. There's what I want now, and there's what will be useful later.”
Kurt bites his lip. “What does your gut tell you?”
“That I want it all.”
Kurt chuckles. “No you don't, baby. Just two. Call Useful and offer them four days a week; call Desired and offer your Fridays.”
“But that's not...”
“How it's done? What do you care?” Kurt asks, not actually as baffled as he sounds, and turns his attention back to the magazine he'd been reading before the pacing and the ranting had started.
“Sometimes I wonder if I'm equipped for this,” Blaine says, sinking onto the couch beside him.
“Equipped for what?” Kurt asks, scribbling in the margins with a pencil.
Kurt laughs brightly. “Now he tells me.”
“Seriously,” Blaine says.
“Seriously,” Kurt says looking up at him, smiling playfully. “I'm not an idiot. You're doing a public policy MBA program and interning at lobbyist firms. I'm perfectly aware of your think tank political consultancy future.”
“Um....” Blaine bites his lip.
“I think, maybe, I'm going to need the consultants. That's my hope, anyway.”
“If you want to run for office, stop making things questions that aren't questions,” he says, snapping the magazine shut.
Kurt calls into sick to his shift that night, and winds up lying on Seanna's floor, ranting about Blaine's abysmal communication skills and how this is not what he wants.
“Why not?” she asks.
“Seriously?” he asks, tilting his hips to push the small of his back to the floor and then lifting his left leg and circling it open to the side and then closed, before repeating the motion with the right.
“Because Blaine doesn't do rejection well, and when he loses elections, it's going to be because of me.” He sighs, puts his leg down and sits up. “Also? This is not the public life I signed up for.”
“Well, it's a long way away, maybe he'll change his mind,” she says.
Kurt rolls his eyes. “It's Blaine. He's probably been dreaming of this since he was five and just never told anyone.”
“Okay,” Kurt says as he flings open their front door. “Announcement time. One, we are still moving to New York as soon as you are done with your damn degree. Two, I will never decline a role because of its impact on your public image. And three, you will never tell me what to wear, unless I ask you to, which, let's be frank, probably isn't going to happen any time soon.”
Blaine chuckles, but Kurt can tell he's exhausted and tense.
“I cut work tonight,” Kurt adds, finally closing the door behind him.
“I know. Seanna called while you were on your way over there.”
“And I hate this thing where you don't tell me things. Still.”
“How was I supposed to tell you?”
“Just... tell me?”
“Really?” Blaine snorts. “It doesn't sound stupid to you? Hey Kurt, I have this wacky idea that I'm going to be a Congressman when I grow up in like ten years maybe. It'll be totally awesome and completely disrupt our lives. Maybe we can have a sex scandal!”
Kurt sighs. “You're an idiot. One day, I'm going to be on Broadway, even though I'm just some gay kid with a strange voice from a shitty town. And that's gonna disrupt the hell out of our lives too.”
“But it's going to happen, isn't it?”
Kurt nods. He feels it, pricking at his skin, sometimes lately.
“For someone who wants to run for office, I cannot believe how many times you've blown me in this parking lot,” Kurt says, his voice high and tight as Blaine unzips his pants. It's 1:30am on a Tuesday morning in late June, and he has a bus to catch.
Blaine laughs and then leans forward to sink his mouth over Kurt's dick.
Kurt's not surprised by it anymore, and they've had a rough month, so he cards his fingers gently through Blaine's hair as he works. It feels good, of course it does, but they both know this particular ritual is more for Blaine than for himself.
When he gets on the bus he chooses a seat that looks out at the parking lot, so that he can wave to Blaine through tinted glass.
Then he unfolds the printout of an email that he's shoved in his back pocket, the one that says what it shouldn't – he's not Equity; he can't really be invited to an audition – from the man who always gives him all the the best types of no.
If you're not going to be at this call, let us know. We'd really like to see you for this. -Paul
He hasn't told anyone about it. Not Blaine, not Rachel, not Alex nor Henry. He's already deleted and purged the email from his inbox, and thinks he may eat this printout when the whole thing is over.
For the first time in a long time, he feels scared.
He digs his phone out of his pocket and shuts it off.
When he walks into the room after getting through the first rounds, which are really just a formality for him at this point, Paul of the Email of Inappropriate Hope is there. He introduces Kurt to the other auditors.
But Kurt's still in the middle of an empty room and they're still behind a table, so he doesn't run up to them to shake their hands.
As he watches their eyes flick over his resume, he's not sure if it's the right choice.
“You've been doing a lot,” Paul says, and Kurt sees the call and response of it immediately.
“Everything I can.”
“Tell us about yourself,” Paul says, and Kurt understands, I want these people to get you.
“I live in Washington DC with my partner. He's finishing grad school, and, help us all, has just announced he wants to be a politician. We're moving to New York, but I'm from Ohio. It sucked. Kids used to throw me into dumpsters. I had a crush on a dude who wound up becoming my step-brother. All my friends were divas,” he says, and then remembers something else. “Except one of them. She moved to California, and I don't know if she'll ever come back to visit, but she used to tell me I was like the moon.”
“Why's that?” one of the other men behind the table asks.
He looks up at the ceiling and takes a deep breath. “Because I watch,” he says, refocusing. “And circle and wait. She's not like other people. That's why we were friends.”
After that they ask him to sing, not once, but twice and then the first song a second time with a different intention, and Paul asks him to stick around in the hall for a moment.
The intern sitting in a chair guarding the door tells him he's shaking.
“I know that,” Kurt hisses conspiratorially.
Thirty minutes later he's in a cab racing across town for the dance audition.
He manages to catch the three o'clock back. He dozes lightly, head lolling against the bus window, but mostly he feels sick and shaky and overwhelmed. He wants to call someone but doesn't; he's not going to let himself fall apart on a bus, after all.
When he gets home he fumbles with his keys, struggling to get them out of his bag, then dropping them, and then struggling again to get them into the lock.
Blaine opens the door before he can manage it.
It's clear he's been crying.
“What's wrong?” Kurt asks.
“Did you turn your phone off?”
“Yeah... what's....?” He fumbles for his phone, as if turning it on will tell him what's happening faster than Blaine can.
“Jesus christ,” Blaine says.
“This is ridiculous,” Blaine says, shaking his head incredulously.
“Is my dad okay?” Kurt's just this side of hysterical.
“Your dad's fine, although he's probably left you a hundred messages by now.” Blaine stands aside so Kurt can finally enter the apartment.
The television is on, loudly, and Kurt drifts towards it, watching people celebrating in the street in front of the building with the too small apartment he had wanted to live in when he and Blaine first moved here.
He sits down on the floor, stunned.
“They actually did it,” he breathes.
“We actually did it,” Blaine confirms.
Marriage inequality, struck down by the Supreme Court, and Kurt flings himself at Blaine. Because one day, one day, they really are going to get married now.
“We have to go to the bar,” Kurt says, when he pulls back and is capable of making words.
It's so mobbed that they only get in because Kurt works there, and he has to grip Blaine's hand tight as they weave through the crowd, drunk, loud, and clearly having sung every ridiculous song about marriage ever written since sometime that afternoon.
“Holy shit,” Blaine murmurs, when they finally get up towards the front and Kurt presses them back against the service bar because it's not like there's anywhere else for them to stand. Tonight, they'll be forgiven.
Over and over, people hug Kurt. On this one night, between the worlds, he thinks, where no permission is needed.
They're more careful with Blaine; he is less a known thing, but a wink, a thumbs up, a high-five, over and over again, happens anyway.
Kurt turns to him, sly. “We're still not engaged.”
“I know,” Blaine says lightly. “Are you going to sing?”
Kurt thinks about it for a moment, and then nods. “Yes,” he says, “Yes, I am.”
“Hi,” Kurt says, his voice shy and small but for the mic, when he's finally able to make his way up to the piano and indicate that he will be cutting in.
“Hi, Kurt!” The audience who knows him roars back.
“So I was on a bus all day, and had my phone off, and I came home to my boyfriend crying, which was sort of terrifying until I found out it was about this, and I am so happy. But all I can think about is the people who didn't get here with us, and this is the least appropriate song ever, but I don't know what else to do."
He shakes his head at the piano player when she looks at him quizzically, and then begins to sing, his posture stick straight as he stares straight ahead. He doesn't even tap a hand against his thigh for the beat of it.
He doesn't need to.
This song is in him, just as every terrible thing that has ever happened to him and his kind is in him. Now that the world is changing this might be the last time he ever gets to talk about it.
At his very first notes, the room quiets almost immediately.
The woman behind the bar, old enough to remember when this was something of a protest song, mutters Oh my god under her breath.
But Blaine knows it as a poem, "The Little Girl." His mother read it to him when he was learning about World War II in 5th grade.
He has never heard it sung, and he does not know when or where Kurt learned it or learned to do this with it. He merely knows that listening to Kurt sing, I ask for nothing for myself, is the hardest thing he's ever done.
By the end of it, Kurt's crying, hard, but his posture remains unaltered.
Blaine marvels at the vocal control it's clearly taken Kurt to get through it, as he hums the melody line and then opens his mouth to sing it wordlessly, before stepping back from the mic.
Blaine bolts from where he's pressed against the service bar and shoves through the crowd, as he realizes, that without the song, Kurt has nothing to hold him up.
When Blaine gets to him, Kurt crumples into him immediately in a fit of sobs.
The applause is significant and clearly moved, but Kurt is lost to it. Blaine's not even sure he's really aware of him, even as he rubs his back and makes soothing noises, eventually getting him to sit down on a crate that's half behind the bar.
Blaine crouches in front of him.
“It seems stupid to ask if you're okay,” he says.
Kurt shakes his head and swipes at his face.
“Do you want me to get you some water.”
Kurt shakes his head again and reaches out for Blaine, grabbing hard onto his wrist.
“Just try to calm down,” Blaine says, rubbing his back again, feeling like an asshole, but Kurt's, frankly, freaking him out by his complete inability to catch his breath.
“I'm sorry... I …,” but he trails off, into another seemingly ineffectual and shuddering breath.
“I know, I know,” Blaine says.
“You don't,” Kurt snaps.
“All right. Do you want to tell me?”
Kurt nods, then shakes his head, and the crying and gasping gets worse for a minute.
“Does he have asthma?” the bartender asks, leaning over the bar to look at them.
“No,” Blaine says, “I mean, I don't think so.”
“No,” Kurt croaks out, giving her a thumbs up. “Panic attack. Bonus tears.”
Blaine chuckles and Kurt manages a watery smile, but he's still shaking, and he still can't breathe right, and it's just not good.
“This happen before?” Blaine asks.
Kurt snorts. “Not in front of anyone.”
“Jesus.” He swipes a hand through his hair.
“No, it's not.”
“I'm here,” Kurt says. “It's okay.”
“I don't understand,” Blaine says slowly.
Kurt raises his head and looks at him like he's stupid. “Pay attention, then. I never thought I'd see this,” he says with a sneer.
Blaine feels like he's been punched in the gut.
“Yeah,” Kurt says, confirming what he's thinking.
“Did you ever –?”
“No. But I had plans.”
Blaine starts to say something, but Kurt waves it off.
“It's not important,” he says.
“Of course, it's –”
“It's not important,” Kurt repeats, the force required cutting through his tears. “But I... I have to tell you something. Something else. I have to tell you what happened today.”
“What happened today?” Blaine asks, apprehensive.
“We're moving to New York, in a year, right?”
“Promise,” Kurt says.
“I promise. What's....”
“It is an absence,” Kurt quotes sadly.
Kurt sighs and swipes at his face again. “I got a yes.”