(AN: So I'm well aware that parts of this could never actually happen IRL – please suspend your disbelief. I just can't get over how hilarious this Darren Criss/Buckeyes thing is to me, so forgive my slight StarKid self-indulgence. XD)
"Game day!" cries Kurt's roommate for about the seventh time, and Kurt just rolls his eyes. He's known plenty of sports nuts in his life – hell, he's related to a couple of them – but Paul can be somewhat of a...fanatic. To the point that he's currently got war paint striping across both sides of his face. And luck would have it that he'd end up rooming with Kurt, who was once on a football team and still can't quite muster up the energy to be more than vaguely interested.
Then again, with what Kurt has seen so far at the University of Michigan, Paul seems maybe closer to the norm than he is.
They mill into the Big House with a couple of their other friends, Reed and Sarah and somebody's girlfriend, Kurt can't keep track in the thick press of blue and maize that's crowding around them. Someone steps on Kurt's foot – these are new boots, thank you very little! – and he wonders how he let Paul talk him into all of this, anyway. Well, no, that's a lie. Once they're in the stadium, he really doesn't mind. Kurt may not come for the football, but he comes for the socializing for sure. Kurt loves his new college friends, and he loves spending time with them almost as much as he loves hours of Skype with Tina, or his twice-monthly lunch dates with Mercedes. Kurt loves UMich, the bright sprawling campus nestled into Ann Arbor that is close enough (but not too close) to home and his father and stepfamily, and he loves, as far as he's experienced, the musical theater department. With the possible exception of a little more money or a less football-crazed roommate, Kurt has pretty much everything he could ask for.
Well. Except. Maybe.
As they all file into a row they've finally found enough seats in, Kurt looks kind of sidelong at Matt and his girlfriend, maneuvering through it all hand-in-hand, and okay, maybe he's a little jealous. Kurt hasn't dated since high school, not with any seriousness anyway. Knee-deep in the musical theater crowd there have definitely been a couple guys who've been interested, but there's this spark, this deep-rooted something that Kurt knows any boyfriend of his has got to have, and no matter where he looks he has yet to find it. He knows what it looks like, he's seen it once before – well. But that was high school.
"Damn," says Paul, "I should've gotten some snacks before we sat all the way down."
"Don't eat now," says Matt's girlfriend bitingly, "you'll just shit yourself from excitement." (Oh, Kurt decides he likes her.)
"Anyway," says Sarah, "we're going to trounce these Fuckeyes pretty pathetically hard, so even if you do have to get up later you probably won't miss much."
"Or I'll go, later," says Kurt. "No great loss for me." As long as no one steps on my boots again, he adds silently.
"Good lookin' out, Hummel," says Paul. He slings an exuberant arm around Kurt's shoulders, setting askew Kurt's already fashionably-askew blue-and-maize patterned scarf, and just as Kurt's about to open his mouth to scold him, the stadium loudspeakers pierce the air with an earsplitting whine of microphone feedback.
"Ladies and gentlemen," begins the smooth commentator voice, and that's when they get a little confused, because the field is still empty.
"Wait, where's the band?" says Paul.
"Don't they have a competition, or something?" says Sarah. "I thought – "
But Kurt isn't listening. Kurt can't hear them, because the field is not empty, the field in fact contains one very specific person. Kurt hears "Ohio State University sophomore and choral department student executive member Blaine Walgreen," and all other sound drops out of his ears entirely.
He's standing in OSU's endzone; he's so small, so far away, that Kurt can barely see him. Dark hair. Dark jacket. Just him. There is something unmistakable about the way he moves, though, as he bobs and shuffles with the microphone, and once he opens his mouth to sing there is of course no doubt. Kurt's pretty sure the national anthem is one of the most boring songs that can possibly be sung, but carried on Blaine's thick, crystal-clear voice – somehow even more sharply refined, shockingly pure, than the last time Kurt heard it, which shouldn't be possible – Kurt thinks he could listen to it for years.
You could have listened to it for years, a cruel voice in the back of his head says, as he stands enraptured even after all his friends have sat back down, through the flyover and everything. It could have been yours.
It could have. He could have.
But he wasn't.
"Blaine..." "Kurt, what "I know." A pause. "I know." "So then what's up?" "I just...I wonder if..." "If "If we've thought about this. If – if we're sure we want "Kurt – " " – and if we're not just two lonely queers in the buttcrack of Ohio grasping at the one and only good thing we've kind of got – " "Damnit, Kurt – " " – and look, Blaine, if we just keep doing what we're doing, no matter how good it feels like it is, we'll never "Is this – are you breaking up with me?" "Not – not in so many words – " "No, in exactly as many words. That's so what this is." "I'm not breaking up." A hot tear, rolling down slowly. "I'm just...letting go."
"Kurt, whatis it? You've been like this for nearly a week now, you know – "
"I know." A pause. "I know."
"So then what's up?"
"I just...I wonder if..."
"Ifwhat, Kurt?" A soft chuckle, damn near impossible to resist. "You gonna finish a sentence sometime soon?"
"If we've thought about this. If – if we're sure we wantthis, a-and it's not just that we want something – "
"Kurt – "
" – and if we're not just two lonely queers in the buttcrack of Ohio grasping at the one and only good thing we've kind of got – "
"Damnit, Kurt – "
" – and look, Blaine, if we just keep doing what we're doing, no matter how good it feels like it is, we'll neverknow, you know?"
"Is this – are you breaking up with me?"
"Not – not in so many words – "
"No, in exactly as many words. That's so what this is."
"I'm not breaking up." A hot tear, rolling down slowly. "I'm just...letting go."
"Uh...Kurt?" says Matt, and Kurt kind of snaps out of it. He realizes that at some point he must have sat down, and that he's missed the kickoff, and has no idea what's really going on any more, except that he's been staring at the one little spot of Buckeye endzone where Blaine had stood, and that he very suddenly needs way more air than his crowded row of the Big House is offering up to him.
"You guys want those snacks?" he manages, and when Reed and Paul cheer him with a resounding hell yeah Kurt gets up and picks his way through the rest of the row to an exit as quickly as possible.
The line at the concession stand is heinously long, but Kurt files in and waits, wasting his time by trying to come up with what exactly it is that everyone's going to want – fully-loaded hot dogs for Paul and Reed, definitely, and as stupid as it is to give Paul any more caffeine he'll probably want a Cherry Coke too. Matt likes popcorn, and Kurt bets he'll share with his girlfriend because that's just the kind of annoying-cute couple they are, and now Kurt is thinking about couples again, and now Kurt feels like shit, and now he must be hallucinating because he's pretty sure the person four places ahead of him in line just called his name in a terrifyingly familiar voice and no. No.
"Kurt Hummel?" the voice repeats, and Kurt cranes his head slowly around the people standing between them to look, and there he is, still those couple inches shorter than Kurt, and still with an absolute killer smile. His hair's a little longer than he wore it in high school, kind of shaggy around his eyes, and he looks...good. And just like that, Kurt is a puddle on the floor.
(Thankfully not in a literal sense.)
"Blaine," he says, with some weird tone in his voice that he's definitely not doing on purpose. "Wow. Hey."
"You're like, legit the last person I ever thought I'd see here," says Blaine, and his speech is just affected enough that Kurt can't tell if he's joking or not. "What are you doing here?"
Kurt tugs at his scarf. "I'm a Wolverine, naturally," he says, gaining a little bit more control back over himself as he does so, and letting his eyes scan across Blaine's cheeks where someone (with very nice craftsmanship too) has makeup'd the scrawling scarlet letters OSU on both sides. Even with the facepaint Kurt can still see a bright excited flush underneath.
Blaine laughs and makes a hissing-at-the-villain sort of noise. "Traitor, man!"
"I love it here," he says, honestly.
"I'm glad," says Blaine. They fall into a strained, awkward silence, like they're a couple of freaking teenagers (well, Kurt's still eighteen, Blaine's probably still nineteen, so technically they are, he figures, but still), and during the lull Blaine shuffles back to Kurt through the line and lets the people between them cut ahead. They are suddenly very, very close, and those little bits of control Kurt's managed to regain in the past thirty seconds threaten to fly away again.
"So, what are you doing here?" Kurt finally manages to say. "How'd you get a gig this crazy, singing like that?"
Blaine's face lights up like it always does when he's excited to talk about something. (Kurt wonders what it means that he still knows and recognizes that about him.) "It was really lucky of me, actually, I can't believe it worked out as well as it did. Both schools knew about the band thing, and they were looking for someone to do it, and so Jaden just kind of told the coach about me and I guess the coach told some of the higher-up people because next thing I knew I was standing there for an audition, and I got it in like two seconds, which is insane."
It is pretty insane, but Kurt's stuck on one word of the story, a few clauses back. "Jaden?"
"Oh. Yeah. He's on the team," Blaine explains, explaining basically nothing because Kurt got that, thanks. "And I guess it kind of pays to have dated someone on the team."
"Oh," says Kurt.
"That was before he made the team though," says Blaine. "We're just, we're still friends, and stuff."
"Right." And it's suddenly really awkward. Why is it awkward? It's been two years, Blaine is allowed to have dated, just because Kurt hasn't –
Maybe that's it.
Because see, Kurt gets a good look into Blaine's eyes right then, and he gets kind of...stuck in them. And that's definitely awkward, more than the high-schooler stilted silence, more than the concept of Blaine having dated in college, because what happens then is that Kurt kind of realizes that he's still in love with him. That maybe he was always in love with him. That breaking up and letting go back at Dalton was maybe the stupidest thing he ever did, and that coming to this football game even though he doesn't really like football and going to get concessions even though he doesn't really like waiting in line has been, well, pretty damn smart.
"Right," he says again, as if that's going to fix things, as if it's going to hide the giant grin that's doing its best to creep across his face at the mere concept of Blaine standing right next to him, looking amazing, smelling amazing, oh holy Ginger Spice.
"Hey, look, we're next," says Blaine, as they hit the front of the line, "what are you getting?"
"I am getting," says Kurt, "the fuck out of here." He digs his fingers into the wool of Blaine's coat around his bicep, thrilling a little at the contact, and drags him away from the line, out through the catacombs of the Big House, straight to the outside of the stadium. Blaine trails after him, confused, but doesn't for even a moment seem to resist, and as Kurt notices that the thrill inside him swells a little, and thrums a little harder, along with his thudding feet, and his pounding heart. There are crowds everywhere that he has to press through but Kurt doesn't even care about his boots any more because as soon as they've gotten to a place that he finally deems acceptable in some weird subconscious part of his head, Kurt swivels Blaine around and just kisses him hard on the mouth. Their lips slot together like Blaine's a piece of himself that Kurt never knew he was missing, and Blaine groans a little through his nose and huffs his shoulders up in shock and delight and tries to figure out where to put his hands, settling for curving them around the sides of Kurt's face, freezing cold, a sharp beautiful sensation that just fits somehow. The kiss goes deeper and deeper and they cling tigher and tighter and just when Kurt thinks that he might do something really embarrassing like starting to cry, Blaine pulls off his mouth and just leans their foreheads hard together, his puffs of breath swirling with Kurt's as they breathe each other's air.
"Jesus, Kurt," he whispers. "Fuck."
"I cannot believe that I am such an idiot," says Kurt, and there's a hot trickle slipping between his cheek and Blaine's hand, and oh what fresh hell he is crying. "I – I missed this."
"Me too," Blaine assures him, wiping his tears away with a sweet, soothing thumb, and even this is something Kurt remembers about them. It's so easy to forget that Blaine has seen him like this before – that Blaine has seen him in pretty much every possible emotional state before, and has never once judged, or flinched away. Has actually more frequently gone over the top in the other direction, which sometimes got pretty annoying and coddling but is right now exactly perfect. Because Blaine isn't perfect. (He's a Buckeye, for one thing.) But he's probably perfect for Kurt.
They kiss again, softer, slower, half as long, and then pull away entirely, though they stay close, shuffling against each other on the sidewalk. "We're missing the game," Kurt says weakly.
"We can miss the game," Blaine says, and then slips his hand into Kurt's and starts pulling him along this time. "Come on, I've got a better idea."
Blaine's better idea is his car in the parking lot, with the back hatch dropped down so they can lay side-by-side and stare up at the sky, swirling clouds fading into streaking colors and then twinkling stars as the sun sets on frosty Michigan. Sometimes they talk, trying to catch up on the years they so stupidly threw away. (Blaine's a music major with a minor in business, and his sister recently had a baby; Kurt graduated salutatorian at McKinley and just got cast as Jimmy in The Gingerbread Lady.) Sometimes they kiss, and touch, snuggled into one another, trying to keep warm. Sometimes they just lie there content in each other's presence, and Kurt thinks that's probably the most awesome part about it, that they can even do that. They're older and smarter and so much more calm about it, but amazingly, brilliantly, no less in love, and that is kind of perfect.
(Kurt gets a couple of angry texts from Reed about the absence of their snacks and totally ignores them. They can get food when the game's over. This can't wait.)
"I have a confession to make," Blaine mumbles into Kurt's neck after a time, ruffling the fringe on his scarf with his hot breath.
"And what is that, exactly?"
"I may have...totally known you were a Wolverine."
"I may have stalked you through your stepbrother's Facebook," he continues, smushing soft smiling kisses against Kurt's skin to hold off his ire. "And I may have kind of pulled a ridiculous number of strings to make sure I was singing at this game today, because I didn't know how else to get your attention, after all this time. Because I may kind of be in love with you."
He can't imagine what kind of craziness that must have taken, and is kind of mindbogglingly impressed and flattered and touched at the knowledge that Blaine would go through all of that, just for him. Kurt grins, but only because he knows Blaine can't see it, and twines his fingers into Blaine's thick hair.
"If it weren't for that last part," he says fondly, "I'd be furious."
There's an almost palpable change in the air around them when the game lets out. The exuberant screaming gets louder now that it's not quite so far away, and everything in the Ann Arbor twilight seems a little bit more alive as people start milling out to their cars, abuzz with victory or agitated with defeat.
"I should...probably go find my friends," says Kurt, reluctant, as he disentangles himself from the warmth of Blaine's body and sits up to stretch out.
"I'll walk you back," says Blaine, rising with him.
Kurt pulls a face and adjusts his scarf. "That's funny, I didn't think I still looked like the new lost lamb at Dalton Academy - "
"Shut up," Blaine laughs. "After two years of being a bonehead in the bad way, at least let me have one moment of being a bonehead in the good way."
"If I have to." And it's okay, thinks Kurt, because he isn't quite sure he could have exactly found his way back from way Blaine is parked, considering how little attention he was paying to anything but Blaine on the way there. It somehow seems to take less time on the return path, probably because Kurt isn't so eager for the destination. They make it back to the edge of the stadium and from there on out Kurt can get properly oriented and find the entrance that he went into with Paul and Reed and everyone earlier in the afternoon, in what seems to Kurt, at this point, a totally different life. But a life, he remembers, that he's absolutely happy with, because he loves his college friends, almost as much as his high school friends. And he loves the University of Michigan, close but not too close to home, and he loves the musical theater department, and he loves Blaine, and maybe he does kind of finally have everything he could possibly ask for, after all.
In yet another freakishly lucky turn of events, they've barely been standing by the exit (trying awkwardly to make themselves say the goodbyes they don't really want to say) for about twenty seconds before Matt, his girlfriend (Kurt really needs to learn her name) and Reed come thundering out of it.
They don't look happy. "Guess we lost," Kurt hisses to Blaine, trying to stay inconspicuous.
"Of course you did," he says with a grin.
"Kurt!" shouts Reed, noticing him first. "Where the fuck were you?"
Kurt bites his lip and feels his face flush a little. "C – catching up. With an old friend."
"Your cheeks are red," says Matt's girlfriend with a frown.
He scowls at them. "Oh, shut up. You guys have been disgustingly couply all day, give me a moment."
"No," says Matt, "your cheeks are like, actually red." He glances from Kurt to Blaine and Kurt sees a little wash of realization splash over his face. "Are you...?"
The realization hits Kurt too, and he turns slowly to look back at Blaine, who, sure enough, has only smears of scarlet where the crisp detailed writing on his face used to be. Belatedly it occurs to Kurt that making out with him all afternoon has probably transferred some of the facepaint over onto his own face, and that he has now been branded with OSU colors, which is practically a fate punishable by death. Frantic, he reaches up to wipe it off before –
Before Paul and Sarah show up. Oh, shit.
"Unacceptable!" Reed shouts.
"What, what?" Sarah demands. "Did you find Kurt?"
"Yeah we found him, and his Ohio State boyfriend!" says Matt.
"What what what?" screams Paul, stumbling into the group of them. "What is this Kurt Hummel OSU bullshit I'm hearing?"
"Look at him!" Reed says, pointing. "This Fuckeye got red all over his face!"
"Guys – " Kurt says, making an apologetic face at Blaine, but Blaine's just laughing right on with them.
"Oh, whatever, Bitchigan," he shouts back. "What's the score here?" He takes out his phone and scrolls through an app or two before landing on something. "Seventeen to forty-five? And you're trying to talk?"
"Buck the Fuckeyes!" Reed screams into the night, and the others rally around him. Kurt shakes his head and noses into the line of Blaine's jaw, smearing the red across their faces even more.
"And these are the people I choose to call my friends," he murmurs into Blaine's ears.
"They look great," says Blaine. "You look great. Are you gonna call me, or what?"
"I will...text you, six times a day for five weeks," says Kurt, "before awkwardly asking you out via song in the middle of a crowded hallway."
Blaine laughs. "I knew that one would come back to bite me in the ass."
Kurt kisses him, soft and thick and pretty wonderful, all things considered, the warmth from Blaine curling all through him and down to his toes in the chilly evening air.
"Traitor!" says Sarah.
"Shame on you!" says Reed.
As they slowly break apart, Kurt lets his hands stray, and then quick as lightning reaches up, whips off his blue-and-maize scarf and flips it around Blaine's neck instead of his own. Before he can protest, Kurt's running off away from him, back into the thick of his friends, who are all suddenly laughing and clapping him on the back for sticking steadfastly-OSU Blaine with their own colors.
"Don't get cocky!" says Paul.
"We'll get you next time!"
Next time, Kurt mouths to Blaine, with a wink and a sidelong grin. Blaine ties the scarf tighter, and heads back to his car, and Kurt's friends spirit him away back to campus. They'll go out and party and drink and lament their defeat, but Kurt will curl up in his own bed, with a book and a smile, trying to figure out how long he can go without washing the Ohio scarlet off his face.