A/N: Based on the Kurtoberfest prompt 'magic/spells', and inspired by a prompt that I got long ago for a story where Kurt goes back in time as The Doctor to talk himself out of meeting Blaine.
Kurt takes a deep breath in. It shudders, carrying with it the threat of tears, so he holds it, then lets it out slowly. He's supposed to be clearing his mind, releasing negative energy and taking in positive energy. A good cry might actually help in the whole releasing negative energy thing, but he doesn't want to risk it. In the course of crying, he'll remember the reasons he has to cry, and his cleared mind, which is actually more of a mildly translucent mind, will get muddied up again. So he lets himself think about little things, innocuous things, easily forgettable things – the draft from the window behind him that never closes all the way and gets stuck open in the frame during the summer; the hum of life outside in the form of cars driving by, honking their horns, people talking and laughing, walking home from the bar down the street; the cold wood floor beneath him, leeching the heat from his body; his hands resting on the bent knees of his crisscrossed legs, palms facing up and open, welcoming the energy of the universe. He considers these things as he takes another breath, trying to become one with it all, but he feels lost, disconnected. His next breath out is more of a sigh.
Trick-or-Treaters stopped coming to his door over an hour ago. Kurt has seen lights go out in apartment windows up and down his block, so he doesn't anticipate any more.
Blaine hasn't come home yet. He decided last minute to head to a Halloween party down in the Village with Sam. It's supposed to be one of the biggest in the city. Kurt opted for this one year to spend a quiet night at home handing out candy, since he was still recovering from the worst case of the flu he'd ever had in his life. Halloween being his favorite holiday, Blaine wasn't thrilled about missing out, so Kurt offered him, in exchange, a candlelit dinner, a movie marathon, and a lap dance while dressed in the skimpy supervillain costume of Blaine's choice (a fetish Blaine had recently developed since his Nightbird costume resurfaced during a clean-out of their storage unit), as a way of saying thank you for skipping this once.
But apparently, Blaine got a better offer.
The message Blaine left on Kurt's phone (with an accompaniment of partygoers yelling and laughing in the background) went something like, "I know we were going to hang at home this year, but Sam surprised me with these tickets, and they're super hard to get. He got one for you, but I knew you weren't feeling up to it, so we scalped it. Rain check on dinner? You're the best! I can't wait to see you in your supervillain outfit (suggestive growl)! Talk to you later. Have fun handing out candy. Love ya!"
That's been happening a lot lately - Blaine showing up late for their weekly dinner date, showing up late for pretty much every date they make together, not coming home after school until after hours because Sam decided to he wanted to go bowling/to the arcade/dancing, and invited Blaine to go with him.
Kurt is happy that Blaine has Sam to hang out with. They're best friends, and Kurt knows how important Sam's friendship in particular has been to Blaine. Kurt couldn't have made it through high school without his own friends, which is why it breaks Kurt's heart that that door doesn't seem to swing both ways. Every friend Kurt had from high school is off living their own lives, but the friends he made in New York he didn't end up keeping, because in one way or another, Blaine saw them as a threat, and eventually, they just kind of went away.
Kurt wipes a tear off his cheek, searching around him for a tissue. He didn't bring one with him when he started this, sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor inside a sloppily made circle of iodized salt. He would have used sea salt, but there wasn't enough. Should he have used kosher salt? Or rock salt? The creepy book he bought at the thrift shop – the one with the pentagram and the closed eye on the cover – didn't specify, nor did it emphasize the magical properties of one salt variety over another. He simply chose what he had on hand.
And he feels like an idiot.
How did he get here? How did he come to this point? This wasn't the way things were supposed to pan out.
Prince Charming wasn't supposed to be a self-absorbed jerk. He wasn't supposed to wear Kurt down. He wasn't supposed to demand a sacrifice at every turn of Kurt's social life, his loyalty, his self-esteem.
He wasn't supposed to be a cheater, either.
Kurt looks at the book spread open in front of him, yellowed pages curling at the edges, turning brown from the passage of time, though some of them look like they've been set on fire. He reads the scrawled words (Latin maybe?) slanting across the paper and curling into the margins. He sounds out a few to see if they feel powerful, if they make anything happen. But they don't. No sparks appear, nothing floats, nothing gets conjured out of thin air.
He knows this is asinine. There's no way this supposed spell is going to work. There's no such thing as magic and potions, but really, what does he have to lose? The way he sees it, things can't get much worse. What's making a fool out of himself in private going to do? At the most, he's going to end up drunk, smelling like turpentine, and wake up with the headache to end all headaches.
But that'll get him through tonight.
Maybe he'll end up with some closure. That's really the best he can hope for.
He hears the clock in the other room chime the time – 10:00 p.m.
He thought about waiting till midnight, since that's what they do in the movies, but oh well. He'd best get started. He'd rather not have to explain this to Blaine if he comes home any time soon.
Which he won't.
Kurt re-reads the instructions on the pages, making sure he knows exactly what he's doing before he begins. (Actually, the instructions are written in Sanskrit or something, but whoever had this book before him was nice enough to write the translations over most of the words. The rest he figured out using Google translate.) Preparation for the spell requires him to do some traditional spell-casting stuff. He slathers the candles he bought for the romantic dinner he had planned in a mixture of sage, basil, witch hazel, and cardamom. He sets them into candleholders at several points around the circle of salt, and lights them. He pulls the petals off a few roses, and sprinkles them around. According to the book, the aroma of the spices will help him focus and the candles will light his path, while the rose petals sweeten the journey. The book says that the spell requires an offering, the spirit of a creature that will keep him safe, and recommends a dove.
Kurt finds a spider racing across the floor, and "offers" that instead.
There's no way he's killing a bird. Besides, how's a bird supposed to keep him safe? He'd rather have an eight-legged beast to guide his way.
At least, he thinks he squashed it. He threw a shoe at it from across the room. Spiders give him the creeps.
Then he takes a drink from a glass of red wine.
That isn't part of the instructions. He just doesn't want to sulk sober.
He feels a little more relaxed with alcohol in his system. The air around him smells like an Italian restaurant, like Breadstix did way back when, and it reminds him that he'd skipped out on dinner after Blaine canceled, but he feels much more calm and at peace. He remembers Breadstix, and Lima, and McKinley. He remembers what his life was like when all of those things were relevant to him – before he met Blaine. He remembers being bullied, remembers feeling scared, remembers what a relief going to Dalton was for him, the solution he thought it was. He decides on a time he'd like to return to, a time where he thinks he could change things for himself, and starts whispering the words. He pictures Dalton Academy, on that day when he went to Westerville to spy on the Warblers. He sees himself walking through the doors in his black suede patchwork jacket and black boots, lost in a sea of blue blazers and sensible loafers, herding toward the spiral staircase.
He imagines he's there, intercepting himself before he can make it all the way down.
His eyes drift close. The words from the book start speaking themselves. He feels himself stand, feels himself walk, even though he knows he's still sitting in his circle. He's walking down the staircase, surrounded by students on all sides, none of whom seem to see him. He's focused, chasing down a familiar head of brown hair, one he hasn't seen in years. He smiles, then he frowns.
Is that what his hair looked like from the back all those years? Why didn't anyone tell him?
He sees the boy he was taking off his sunglasses, preparing to ask for help, and Kurt swoops in, pushing through the crowd and jumping down a step, sliding in front of himself just in time,
"I'll help you," he says, taking a step up and backing his younger self up a step.
"What the…what the heck?" Kurt's teenaged counterpart glares at him, then takes a good, long look and goes white, looking very much like he's about to puke. "Oh my…oh my God! You look like…are you a teacher here? Do I know you?"
"Yes," Kurt says, praying that if this is actually himself and not some crazy hallucination brought on by those stinking candles he's burning, his younger self will believe him. "I'm you…"
That comment gets him a gasp.
"…from the future."
That comment gets him a scoff.
"Uh, no…no you're not," younger Kurt says. "You're some deranged stalker. Or a vagrant. I mean, are you wearing pajamas?"
His younger self tries to push past him, but Kurt blocks his path, grabbing him by the elbow when he attempts to run back up the stairs.
"Let go of me!"
"I can't," Kurt says with urgency. "I need to tell you something, and I don't have a lot of time."
"Fine," his ex-self says with far too much sass, and Kurt doesn't know if he'll be able to get through to him. "If you're me from the future, prove it."
Kurt thinks quick. He's devout in his atheism, but he really wishes some higher power would pick today to prove him wrong and lend a helping hand.
"Well, first of all, doesn't it seem strange to you that no one else sees me talking to you here?"
"I guess," teenaged Kurt says, blithely unconvinced. "Maybe they're choosing to ignore you so you'll put on some clothes or go away."
"Okay…" Kurt looks around for something else, anything else. He finds it staring him straight in the face. "How about the fact that time has stopped?"
Younger Kurt laughs. "You're crazy. It hasn't…" he turns to the side, searching for an escape, and sees what the older man who looks like him saw – a Dalton student, frozen in place, not a foot away. Both Kurts turn to look at the entire student body, standing stiff like statues, including (future Kurt notices) Blaine.
"Uh, okay. This is the freakiest thing I've ever seen," past Kurt says, "but that doesn't prove anything. This could be some kind a drill, or a mass hallucination, or maybe…you know what? Maybe, I'm asleep."
Teenaged Kurt looks frantic, backing away like he might bolt, but older Kurt holds on tighter to his arm.
"No, no, no, you have to listen to me," Kurt says, dragging the boy up the staircase since he's going that way already. "Do you see that boy down there?" Kurt points out a familiar (to him, at least) head of way too gelled hair at the foot of the stairs.
"Wow," his younger self says, staring with a slowly-burning smile at the boy that was Blaine Anderson. Kurt sees the expression on his younger self's face. He remembers making that face. He remembers seeing Blaine for the first time and thinking that he'd found what he'd been looking for at last.
As far as he can remember, he's only made that face one other time, for one other man - the man he should have kept.
"Yeah, you think that now," Kurt says, turning the boy's attention away to stare into his eyes. "But in the future, in our future, he turns out to be a disaster."
"He's kind of got that Prince Charming vibe about him, though," his younger self says, glancing past older Kurt with a dreamy smile.
"I know," Kurt says. "Believe me, I know. And he is charming, for a little while. But it doesn't last, and when it ends, it blows up in our faces."
Younger Kurt, with a goofy grin occupying his lips, pulls his eyes away from Blaine to look at his older self.
"Wh-what do you mean, it blows up in our faces?"
"Well" – Kurt bites his lower lip as he prepares his argument – "he changes schools to be with us…" Kurt winces, knowing that the first step in his anti-Blaine campaign is not exactly on the strongest footing. Younger Kurt's eyes light up.
"That doesn't sound too bad."
"But it is, actually," Kurt explains. "It starts with little things, and it gets worse from there. He gets the part in the musical that you want. He pretty much ends up with all the solos in Glee Club. He starts texting this guy that you'll hate, a guy who wants to take Blaine away from you. Then, when you make a friend who texts cute things to you, he'll drag your issues out in front of everyone, and it'll force you to apologize…"
"Ah! Rude," his younger self says.
"I know," Kurt agrees, his eyes becoming sadder as he goes on. "He encourages us to follow our dream, to move to New York, and the moment he feels the least bit ignored, he cheats."
"Oh." His younger self gazes sorrowfully from himself to the boy at the foot of the stairs. "That's…that's awful."
"Yeah," Kurt says, recalling the memories. "He'll apologize a hundred times. He'll plead and he'll beg. He'll send you flowers at work, and gifts that you'll return. Eventually, though, he'll win you back. He'll propose, right here, as a matter of fact." Kurt puts a hand on the bannister, eying the staircase up and down as he remembers that day – his friends from Glee Club singing, his father watching, different show choirs performing together, the rose petals, much like the ones he's smelling with every inhale, fluttering down from the landing above. "He'll make a big deal out of it, and you'll think it's because he loves you. And maybe he does, but…" Kurt's sentence comes to a halt when his voice cracks.
"But?" his younger self asks, caught up in the bitter sweetness of the memory that's not his yet, and how the man he'll become tells it, with so much heartbreak.
"There's manipulation, betrayal," Kurt says, using vague adjectives, deciding not to go into too much detail, afraid that he's already said too much. Aren't there rules about tampering with the past? The book didn't say. Oh, well. It's too late for him to back out now. "You'll get stronger, more confident. You'll grow into your body…"
"Really?" His younger self seems relieved, the way his older self would have been if someone had told him that at this age.
"Yeah," Kurt says, "and he'll try to take that away from you, too."
Younger Kurt's face drops. "Oh…" He glances down the staircase at the handsome boy, frozen in place while rummaging through his book bag, smiling at another boy patting him on the shoulder.
"The worst part of all is the next time you guys break up, he's going to end up in Lima" - Kurt stops. He takes a long pause. He's on the fence about revealing this one. He swallows to buy himself time. He started this. He might as well finish it - "he moves in with Dave Karofsky."
His younger self looks startled, but then he laughs, shaking his head.
"No, no, no," he says, waving a hand in front of his face, "now you're just joking. You can't be…"
Kurt looks at himself, at his older self, the lines around his eyes, his stern expression, and he knows he's not lying.
"Oh my God," he says in disbelief. "You're…you're not joking."
"No," Kurt says. "No, I'm not."
"Well, what happens after?" Kurt asks, anxious for the happily ever after. "We leave him, right? We find someone else. Someone better? Please tell me that's how this ends."
Older Kurt shakes his head.
"If it did," he says. "I wouldn't be here."
Teenaged Kurt becomes immediately horrified.
"No," he says. "We don't…"
"Yes. You marry him," Kurt says. "In a kind of last minute wedding in a barn, along with Brittany and Santana."
"Wow," Kurt's younger counterpart says, completely baffled.
"Then…why?" young Kurt asks. "Why did you go through with it?"
"I don't know," Kurt says, becoming emotional – his own feelings along with those of his younger self building up inside his chest. "It all played out like a poorly written sitcom. I mean, I guess I knew better, on some level, but I was afraid. I thought that no one else was ever going to love me, but I didn't give me time to love myself."
"And, there wasn't anyone? No one else who liked us?" Kurt sees his younger self's face blanch, feels his despair brewing in his chest at the thought that aside from this one boy, who turns out to be a disaster apparently, Kurt didn't find love anywhere.
"Actually, there was," Kurt says, seeing his chance to truly change things. "There was one guy, and…I guess I could say that if I hadn't gone through all the crap I went through with Blaine then I might not have met him, but that can't be true. I met him on my own, following my own dream, so in essence, we were meant to meet. Looking back at things, I think we were meant to be together."
Kurt feels a tingling in his fingertips, the skin going numb, and warning bells sound in his head. When he looks down, he can see himself start to disappear. Whatever time he had here, it's almost spent.
"Listen to me," Kurt says. "Listen carefully. You're going to audition for a school in New York called NYADA…"
"But…I'm going to Julliard," his younger self objects.
"You can't," Kurt says. "Don't worry. Ms. Pillsbury will explain it all later. Anyway, the first time you audition for NYADA, you're not going to get in. But the second time you audition, you will. Now, this is important. When you get to NYADA, you're going to meet a guy – an incredible guy named Adam."
"Okay," his younger self says, nodding blankly, not yet settled enough with everything he's been told so far to receive this new information.
"Give him a chance," Kurt says, lifting his hands in front of his eyes and watching them slowly disappear - fingertips first, then knuckles, then wrists. "Give him more than a chance. When he asks you out, don't think twice. Just say yes."
"O-okay," younger Kurt says, staring open-mouthed as his older self dissolves into the atmosphere. "Alan?"
"Adam!" Kurt's voice echoes in his ears. "Adam Crawford! Do you understand?"
"I…" but before he can finish his sentence, before he can reassure himself that he'll remember, the specter of his older self has completely disappeared. The silence around him, a quiet he hadn't noticed, dissipates, and the murmur of boys talking to one another and walking down the steps takes over.
Kurt nods to himself, stunned. That couldn't have happened…could it? He didn't just talk to an older version of himself, who advised him not to go after the hottest boy he's ever seen on two legs? It seems unbelievable, more than unbelievable, but he has no explanation for it other than it happened. No lack of sleep, or stress, or…or anything is going to explain this away.
But if he's not going to trust himself, his own eyes, than who is he going to trust?
That boy down there, who looks like a dream, but apparently turns out to be a nightmare?
Besides, he kind of likes the idea that he grows up to be some tenth level wizard who can punch a hole in time to tell him about his future.
Kurt had been taking the staircase down as he thought, walking through the spot where his future self had been, wondering if anything of him remained – a spirit, a cold chill, a lingering voice. Without knowing it, he finds himself on the stair right above the boy with the gorgeous amber eyes – the boy who supposedly ruins his life in five or so years.
"Can I help you?" the boy asks, looking Kurt up and down with stars in his eyes and a tempting twist to his plump lips, and as hard as he is to resist, Kurt's going to have to.
He made a promise to himself, and he's going to keep it, even if he spends the next three weeks cursing at himself over it, and eating way too much cheesecake, while he consoles himself that there's something better out there for him, someone he'll meet later that he's meant to be with.
And his name is Adam.
"You know what" - Kurt takes a step back up the staircase, trying not to get lured back by the boy pouting at his retreat - "uh…no. Never mind."
Kurt feels himself start to re-materialize, bit by bit, hands to arms to shoulders, down his chest, and the rest of his body, legs and head returning at the same time, cascading together and coming back to color and life. The last thing he sees of his old self is him sprinting back up the staircase, leaving a befuddled Blaine behind, and Kurt, fully deposited on the floor of his bedroom, smiles.
He yawns. He opens his eyes. He's exhausted, and he's back where he started, sitting cross-legged in a circle of salt on his wood floor. He yawns again, his eyes heavy, raising his bowed head. One last yawn makes him feel aware, like he's coming back to himself, waking up from an intense dream, and as much as he wishes it could have been real, he knows that it wasn't. It couldn't be. He doesn't believe in magic. He doesn't believe in fairytales and fantasy. He was upset and hurt, and a bit buzzed from the wine and the strong smell of the candles. He must have been so out of it that he fell asleep. He hears the clock chime eleven o'clock. An hour's worth of over-exaggerated wishful thinking, but it was wonderful nonetheless. And he got what he wanted. He got closure. Just enough of it that no matter what happens from here on out, he can say that he had it in him to walk away. Had he known how things would have turned out, the boy that he was in high school - bullied, lacking confidence, and a bit unsure - would have walked away. Learning that he was once a boy with that kind of strength might make him remember that he's a man with the ability to do the same thing.
He raises a hand to his face, to wipe what's left of a few happy/melancholy tears, when he notices something odd. He's comfortably warm. There's no draft coming from the window behind him that won't close. He turns around to look at it and finds that he's actually not in his bedroom. Unless his eyes are blurry from the smell, but he doesn't think so. He's sitting on a similar wood floor, but instead of a bed to his left, and a white privacy curtain in front of him, he sees furniture – an antique cutting table, a vintage sewing machine, a Victorian inspired sofa, and is that…a piano? Not the second-hand spinet he bought for Blaine, but an honest-to-God upright, gleaming in polished cherry wood.
"What the…" He sniffles the last of his gloom away as confusion takes over. "Where the hell…" He looks at the circle of salt he had made on the floor. The candles have burnt down to stumps, but after only an hour? The rose petals have scattered away, and the book…
There's no book.
It had been sitting in front of him, open, but now it's not there. Not a page, not a trace of it. Even the bulge in the circle where he had spilt the salt around it wasn't there anymore.
"Sweetheart?" a voice from another room calls out to him. It's a voice he hasn't heard in so long that he was afraid when he heard it again he might not remember it. But it's been there in his mind the whole time, locked away with his dreams, hoping that someday he'd find a way back to it. But he doesn't know how, or why, unless...but it can't be. It just can't be. But, what if it is? "You have rehearsals early tomorrow. Aren't you coming to bed?"
"T-to bed?" Kurt stammers, mostly to himself, but the person outside the door hears.
"Yes, darling. To bed," the person says. "You know, that place where we talk, and sleep, and eat breakfast on Sunday mornings, but mostly where we have wild, passionate sex that frightens the dogs?"
Kurt smiles. He smiles so hard that he begins to shake. Then he laughs…and then he starts to cry.
"A-Adam?" Kurt calls out, hoping it's him and not some bizarre practical joke.
"Yes, Kurt?" Kurt turns completely, staring at the door behind him. A head peeks in. A body follows, and there he is, dressed in pajama pants and nothing else, blue eyes smiling, blond hair wet, cheeks flushed pink from having showered. Adam. "Can I help you with something?"
"Yes," Kurt says. He grabs at his left hand. His heart sinks when he feels a ring, but when he looks down at it, it's different. Instead of a plain silver band, it's burnished gold, woven like a braid. He laughs out a sob. It's not Blaine's ring. He's not married to Blaine. "No, I mean…yes. I mean…I'm…" Kurt leaps into the man's arms, and Adam holds him, concerned as to why his husband is crying and trembling, and why he's been sitting on the floor in a circle of…is that sugar? But Adam loves having Kurt in his arms, so he simply holds him, figuring explanations will come later.
"Oh, Adam," Kurt cries. "I…I missed you so much."
"I'm sorry," Adam laughs, "but after you left the shower I realized I hadn't brushed my teeth. I apologize if I took too long."
Kurt chuckles. He forgot that whatever happened between then and now is much different than the life he remembered. He refuses to let go of Adam, even when Adam makes to, to see if Kurt's okay, but then he relents and holds him longer, picking him up to carry him back to their bedroom.
"Do you know what this reminds me of?" Adam asks.
Kurt doesn't look up from the crook of Adam's neck when he asks, "What?"
"The first day I met you."
That makes Kurt look up.
"Tell me about that?" he asks casually, his stomach flip-flopping to know how his past self pulled this off.
"I'll never forget it," Adam laughs. "There I was, putting up fliers for Adam's Apples sign-ups. All I remember is someone calling out my name, and then there you were, running up out of nowhere, asking me out for coffee. You looked like…"
Kurt is impressed. He didn't expect that. He asked Adam out? "Looked like?"
Adam looks at Kurt and smiles, kissing him on the nose.
"You looked like you'd been waiting for me forever. You were so darn adorable, I couldn't say no."
Kurt can't imagine what happened between that day on the staircase and the day that he and Adam met. Did he go to Dalton? Or did he stay at McKinley? Did he ever meet Blaine at all? What happened to him? By altering his past, so much of his future must have changed. At the moment, he doesn't have any of those memories, but he can't wait to learn them.
He has a second chance, something he never thought would happen. Something he never believed in. He's in Adam's arms, heading to their bedroom, and Kurt can't wait to get there. (Didn't Adam mention something about wild, passionate sex, and scaring dogs?)
The past is just going to have to wait.