A/N: A late entry for Kadam Week prompt 'library/bookstore'. Dedicated to my good friend, lovejoybliss.
"Uh…excuse, me. I'm sorry," Kurt says, creeping up on the man draped entirely over the single bookcase dedicated to musical theater at Unnameable Books – the section Kurt is currently trying to get to. Kurt had something less polite in mind to say considering the man is blocking the entirety of a 5' x 5' section of shelving. Even if he is gorgeous and built like a brick wall, that doesn't excuse the fact that he's keeping Kurt from the book he's not just trying to buy, but that he's been searching high and low for for months, and impatiently since he's already running late. Unnameable Books might be only a train ride away from his loft in Bushwick, but it's three trains and a bus away from NYADA. So Kurt really is in a rush, and this man's presence is an extreme inconvenience.
Kurt was more than ready to say so, that is, until Kurt sees the book the man is reading.
Devouring is actually a better term for it.
"I don't mean to interrupt, but…are you thinking of buying that book?" Kurt asks, hoping that the man is simply thumbing through it, window shopping for something to read, and that Kurt's question will force him to admit that he's not and return the book to its shelf.
The man flicks sky blue eyes up at Kurt, a slow smile burning on his face.
"Well, I was considering it," he says, the hint of an accent adding a mellifluous quality to his smooth voice. "Have you read it?"
"Read it?" Kurt chuckles, tactfully attempting to segue from indignant to, 'Why don't we discuss it over coffee?' without sounding too obvious. "I've committed passages to memory."
"You liked it that much, huh?"
"Oh yeah," Kurt replies, taking a spot at the bookcase. "In fact, I'm in here trying to buy myself a copy."
"You've read it enough to memorize it, and you don't even own a copy?" The man tsks.
"The one I have I'm currently holding captive from my college library," Kurt explains, feeling the need. "It's a mess – pages taped down, notes written in the margins. It doesn't even have the dust jacket anymore. I think I owe about $50 in fines on it. So, I figured if I'm going to spend that much money on a book, I might as well own it."
"Makes sense," the man agrees. He motions with the book locked in his grip. "But it looks like this might be the only copy in here." The man looks at it and sighs dramatically. "And I was really looking forward to getting one for myself. I think it might actually be the last copy in the city."
"It is," Kurt says, disappointed that he might have to give up his conquest, and after he came so close. "Amazon's been backordered forever, and no one seems to want to give theirs up on eBay for less than $100 bucks."
"From what I've heard, they're all personally signed by the author." The man opens the book to check. "The man must be a huge egotist."
"Oh, I don't believe that," Kurt says, watching the man flip through the pages, praying he doesn't crack the spine. Kurt wouldn't forgive him for that, for no amount of bulging biceps or his soothing, velvety inflections. "I think the author's just trying to make sure that everyone who buys his book gets something special for the money they've spent…something more. Not that he has to. This is his life story. He's already put himself into it. Everyone who buys one gets a small piece of his soul."
Kurt doesn't see the man watching him as Kurt gazes dreamily at the book in his hands – hands that look incredibly strong, like maybe he plays the piano, or paints; with nails that are manicured, but not excessively. He seems to have healthy cuticles. Kurt can appreciate that.
"Okay," the man says. "Now I'm intrigued. Plead your case."
Kurt's eyes pop from the man's hands to his face. "What do you mean, plead my case?"
"You want to buy this book. I would like to buy this book. There's only one available, and it seems like I'm poised to get it."
Kurt deflates. He glances at the time on the watch wrapped around the man's wrist. He's officially late. If he doesn't get this book, his day is going to suck ten times over. "It definitely seems that way."
"So, tell me why you deserve it more than me? What did you like about it?"
Kurt leans his hip against the book case. He might as well get comfortable. "Well, the author's whole narrative – this man, with a dream he's longing to make real in any way he can, moves to a new place, completely unfamiliar surroundings, where he knows no one, with just a few hundred dollars in his pocket. He's trying to make a name for himself, prove to himself that he can succeed on his own – that really resonates with me. Aside from that, his struggle as a young gay man in an unforgiving small town, losing a parent at a young age, almost losing his identity because of someone he loves…I mean, it might have been written about me."
The man's smile, which has been teasingly arrogant their entire encounter, falls into an expression of surprise at Kurt's answer. "Really?"
"Yeah," Kurt says, gaze dropping self-consciously back to the book, tracing the script along the cover with his eyes. "For so long, I've been trying to find people I can relate to. I've run into people all my life who I have things in common with, but on a ten point scale, we maybe have three things we can bond over, and those were mostly superficial things. Not the deeper issues. Not the things that really count. But this man, it's almost like we're two pieces of the same puzzle. His experiences, even though he came from the other side of the world, are so similar to mine. It makes me feel…I don't know…a little less alone on this planet." Kurt feels the weight of the man's inquisitive eyes watching him, and he shrugs to lift the heaviness from his shoulders. "That's why I like it. When I read it, I feel like I'm talking to a friend."
"Well, that's…that's very moving," the man says, ducking his face and quickly brushing a finger beneath his eye. It takes him a moment to look back up, but when he recovers, the smile on his face reaches his watery eyes. "I'm definitely convinced. The book's yours."
"Really?" Kurt's eyes light up, his day essentially saved. "Thank you! Thank you so much!"
"But I do have to ask, if you don't mind," the man says, humble all of a sudden, "I would really like to talk with you again. Find out what other things resonate with you."
"Other things about the book?"
"About the book, about life…anything and everything."
Kurt bites his lip. This is more than worth being late, even if it means fifty push-ups on the hard, dance room floor, with Cassie July's pointed heel digging into his shoulder. "That…that would be great."
"Here" – The man reaches into his pocket for a pen – "let me give you my number."
Kurt bounces excitedly on his feet, but his heart stops dead when he sees the man open the book, preparing to vandalize the inner cover.
Yes, he's gorgeous and witty and interesting, but Kurt's not sure he wants him sullying his precious book. What if this goes south? Kurt will be stuck with a constant reminder of this day scarring his favorite tome.
But, if everything goes right, he'll have a hand-written souvenir from today written on the cover of the one book he's sure he wants to be laid to rest with.
"I…I don't think they let you write in the books," Kurt remarks.
"That's ok. I know the owner. And don't worry" – The man winks – "this one's on me."
Kurt blushes immediately. "Oh…I couldn't."
"I insist," the man says, moving on from his number and writing an inscription. "Makes a better impression than flowers. Won't die as quickly."
"Seeing how long this book's been number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list, I don't think it will die ever."
"I think that glowing review is worth more than what is written on this cover." The man closes the book and hands it over to its new owner. Kurt goes to open it, but the man puts a hand over his to keep it shut.
"Uh, why don't you read that a little later on?" the man suggests. "No reason for you to read it if I'm standing right here, right?"
"I guess," Kurt says suspiciously, but he doesn't see the harm. It'll be nice to have something to look forward to, on the train a half-an-hour from now, while he's giggling to himself over this.
"Thank you. And by the way, I don't believe I got your name." The man holds out his hand for Kurt to shake.
"Kurt," Kurt says, taking the man's hand – the man's warm, soft, amazingly strong hand, the way Kurt had imagined.
"My name's Adam," the man says.
"Just like the book," Kurt says, vying for another few seconds holding on to Adam's hand.
"That's right," Adam says. "Just like the book."
"That's…quite a coincidence," Kurt continues, praying this doesn't get awkward before he's had his fill of this handshake.
"Not as much as you may think." Adam lets go of Kurt's hand first, but in stages, brushing Kurt's palm with his fingertips before releasing him entirely. "It's a fairly common name, even here in the states. It was very nice to meet you, Kurt. I hope to hear from you…very soon."
"You will," Kurt promises, holding tight to his book.
Adam gives Kurt a final smile before he heads off towards the door. Kurt turns to watch, following with his eyes. Before Adam leaves, he stops by the front counter, where a man wearing thin glasses and a beige cardigan carefully applies price stickers to a stack of clearance paperbacks.
"Just so you know, Carl," Kurt hears Adam say, "I gave that handsome young man in the stunning plum Vivienne Westwood suit a copy of my book. Can you put it on my tab, please?"
Kurt quirks an eyebrow at his odd comment. A copy of his book?
"Sure thing, Mr. Crawford," Carl says with a huge smile. "Not a problem."
Kurt's eyes become saucers as they take a last look at the man turning at the door to wave good-bye. Kurt watches him leave, stunned expression becoming a permanent resident as he tries to make sense of what was said. His book? Mr….Crawford? Kurt flips the book over, searching the dust jacket for a picture of the author - Adam Crawford.
When he finds it, he lets out an audible gasp.
Thank goodness it's a color photograph. That way Kurt can be sure that the man who signed his book has the same blue eyes, the same flirty smile, the same sunny blond hair.
Kurt opens the book to the inside cover where Adam wrote his name…right above the signature pre-printed there. The two signatures are identical – the height of the capital A at the beginning of Adam, the curve of the letters as they flow one into the other, the embellish he puts on the 'f' as it divides his last name. The two signatures, one on top of the other, look like they could have been written at the same time. Below his signature, along with his phone number, he wrote a short message:
Yes. I'm that Adam Crawford.
Kurt's jaw drops. He raises his eyes to see Carl staring at him from behind the counter, nodding approvingly, giving him a thumbs up.
Kurt swallows hard. "Oh…my…" He closes the book and hugs it to his chest, laughing to himself, because until he sees the man again, until he hears his voice and talks to him, he'll never believe it – not in a million years.
Did he just promise to make a date with bestselling author Adam Crawford?