Author's Note: This is born of how utterly adorable I find the whole Kurt/Blaine interaction after they confront Karofsky. Adorable, and heartwrenching, and just beautiful. So I wanted to expand on it, and apparently, they agreed with me. Because this got a lot longer than I intended it to be. I hope you like it!
Oh, and just so you know, at at least one point, this references my other Glee fic, but you don't have to have read it to understand. (I mean, if you want to check it out, though, I'm certainly not going to stop you. :))
"Well, he's not coming out anytime soon," Blaine joked lightly, eyebrows shooting up as he watched the retreating form of Kurt's main tormentor, one Dave Karofsky. But Kurt, instead of laughing, let out a quiet sigh and sagged onto the cold cement as though he couldn't bear to hold himself up any longer. "What's going on?" he asked gently, concerned by the other boy's reaction. Kurt just lowered his head, looking so small and scared that Blaine wondered if it was possible for your heart to break for someone you'd only known for two days. "Why're you so upset?" he pressed, crossing over to Kurt quickly and joining him on the step.
Kurt took a deep breath, steeling himself. "...because up until yesterday, I had never been kissed." To his horror, his voice cracked just a little, and he swallowed hard against the lump that threatened to take over his throat. "Or at least...one that counted." It didn't make him feel much better to admit it out loud, and he sniffed deeply and glanced toward the sky, the better to avoid Blaine's penetrating, pitying gaze. Because if he had to look at him now, he was going to lose it even more.
Blaine, meanwhile, was attempting to reconcile himself to the fact that Kurt-bright, vibrant, confident Kurt-had actually gone so long without someone realizing how wonderful he was, and kissing him. And the fact that that oaf had been the one to take that moment away...he breathed in deeply and shook his head, pressing his lips together. Freaking out was not going to help the situation. And as much as he regretted it...there was nothing he could do about it now. It was his stupid advice that had gotten Kurt into this situation, and he was going to do whatever he damn well could to make it up to him. "Come on." Blaine nudged Kurt's shoulder lightly, smiling as brightly as he could in the hopes that doing so would cheer him up. "I'll buy you lunch."
Kurt's lips twitched up in the corners just a little, and he pulled himself to his feet to follow Blaine's lead. They had barely traveled a few feet, though, before he spoke. "Where are you going? The cafeteria's inside the school, remember?" Blaine laughed, relieved by Kurt's weak display of sarcasm.
"We're not eating in the cafeteria. After all your comments about your school food, I don't want to put you through it if it's not absolutely necessary." The corners of his eyes crinkled as he fought a smile. "I'm taking you somewhere real. Any preferences?"
Kurt's eyes were round, his too-pale face finally starting to regain a bit of its usual color. "You are?"
"Unless you don't want to," he amended hastily, sending a silent prayer to whoever may have been listening that that wouldn't be the case.
"No, no, I want to," Kurt blurted out, before he could even worry about sounding too eager; Blaine graced him with a charming smile that made his heart skip a beat.
"I'm parked this way," he said, placing his hand ever-so-lightly on the small of Kurt's back to guide him.
Kurt's breath caught at the contact, simple though it was. Maybe because of how simple it was. He couldn't remember the last time a guy had touched him so casually. Of course, Mercedes hugged him all the time, and Brittany would hold hands and cuddle with pretty much anyone. But with guys...it just never happened. Finn lived with him, for Christ's sake (or whatever), and he could count the number of times they'd come into any kind of physical contact in the past month on one hand. But Blaine...Blaine was different. Warmer.
If he noticed Kurt's preoccupation, he was too polite to say anything more than, "Hey, this is me," as they reached his car.
Kurt halted, jaw dropping. "Blaine, this is a Ferrari."
He blushed and dropped his gaze, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. "Um. Yes. Yes it is."
"Holy crap," Kurt breathed unthinkingly. "I'm kind of afraid to touch it."
Blaine's head snapped up so quickly he gave himself a head rush. Uncomfortable!Kurt was something he wanted to avoid at all costs. The boy felt out of place at his own school. The last thing Blaine wanted was to make him feel bad because his parents happened to have enough money to give their son a Ferrari when he got his license. (His desperation to make Kurt feel safe with him, of course, meant that he was starting to overthink everything. He could see Wes and David's matching disapproving frowns in his mind's eye. It was actually rather frightening.) "No, please," he exclaimed. "Don't be." Inspiration struck in a flash, and he smirked. "Besides, you'll have to touch it. If you don't, I'm going to come over there and do it for you." True, he hadn't known Kurt long at all, but he'd seen enough to know that the boy was fiercely independent, and that this, therefore, was probably not going to be an attractive prospect.
Color flooded Kurt's cheeks, and he let out an absolutely adorable half-laugh. "I'm almost tempted to test you on that," he joked, but got into the car of his own volition anyway. "You'd be the one example of chivalry left in Ohio."
"I'd have done it and you know it," Blaine shot back, grinning. "Oh, and you can plug your iPod in if you want, or pick a station or whatever." He fussed with his seat unnecessarily, just for something to do. For some reason or another (the combined Wes/David voice that lived in his head cackled mischievously), he was actually feeling kind of nervous. Which, really, was just ridiculous. This was nothing. He just...wanted to make Kurt feel better. Wanted to be a good friend, especially considering that this was partly his fault. That was all. (Shut up, Wevid.)
"Are you sure?" Kurt was asking uncertainly, twisting the cord of his headphones around his fingers so tightly that the tips were turning purple. "I mean, I don't want to break anything."
Blaine reached over and gently untangled the wire, trying not to think about how veryveryclose this brought him to Kurt; trying not to read nonexistent meaning into Kurt's shallow, slightly rapid breathing; tryingtryingtryingfailing. "Careful," he murmured, gathering the courage (God, how ironic) to squeeze Kurt's hand lightly as he freed the iPod from his grasp. "Circulation's a good thing."
"Noted," Kurt managed, hoping he didn't sound as breathless as he felt.
"You sure you don't care where we go?" Now that he was busily plugging in the iPod, having correctly guessed that no matter what he said, the other boy had no intention of doing so, Blaine was able to actually think clearly enough to articulate his thoughts.
Patti LuPone's voice flooded the car, and Blaine watched with a combination of amusement and wonder as Kurt visibly relaxed at the familiar sound. "Nope, no preference."
"We probably shouldn't go far, though, huh?" Blaine mused, pulling out of the parking lot. "What do you have after lunch?"
"I have a free period," Kurt offered, sounding almost hopeful and grinning shyly.
"Oh! Awesome!" Blaine fairly beamed. "David says there's a really good place about twenty minutes from here, if you don't mind the drive." Not, y'know, that he'd desperately grilled everyone for restaurant ideas the night before or anything.
"I don't mind at all. That sounds great." It'll keep me away from McKinley for a few extra minutes if nothing else. Not to mention...well, no. He wasn't even going to let himself go there in his mind. He did let himself sneak another peek at Blaine, who was smiling slightly as he drove.
They hadn't been driving long before the opening strains of "Teenage Dream" piped through the speakers. Blaine turned his head just enough to notice Kurt quickly turn to stare studiously out the window so that Blaine couldn't see his face. Blaine's own cheeks burned as he remembered Wes and David's obnoxious comments (on a public forum, no less) about the only reason Blaine liked the song (which, okay, may or may not have had a lot/everything to do with having met Kurt that day). The other boy seemed just as embarrassed as he felt, if not more so, so Blaine decided the best thing to do to dispel the awkwardness would be to pretend it didn't exist. Instead, he opened his mouth and began to sing along, ironically picking up right where the Warblers' arrangement that Kurt had heard the other day had started. "Before you met me, I was alright, but things were kinda heavy. You brought me to life. Now every February, you'll be my Valentine."
Kurt grinned despite himself, raised his head and chimed in, soft but audible, weaving a descant over Blaine's melody that the older boy was fairly sure was his new favorite sound. "You're amazing," he admitted sincerely when the song had ended. "The others would kill me for saying this, but you're a better countertenor than ours. I'm kind of jealous."
Kurt laughed outright, and Blaine realized (as his heart sputtered hyperactively at the sound) that he'd never heard it before. "Oh, please, stop with the flattery. You barely heard me."
"So sing something else," Blaine challenged, lifting an eyebrow. "I guarantee you I won't change my mind."
"Is that a dare, Mr. Anderson?" There was a chuckle in Kurt's voice, but his eyes were serious.
"And what if it is?" His heart was still beating a little too fast, and he couldn't shake the feeling that if he didn't tread very carefully, he would say something stupid and send this new, happier Kurt running for cover.
Instead, an absolutely wicked grin bloomed on the other boy's face. "The Rachel Berry that occasionally forces her way into my head is screaming at me about spies and telling me this is a terrible idea. Which is exactly why I'm going to do it."
He laughed. "Rachel Berry?"
He'd known, of course. Mr. Matthews had found the New Directions' youtube channel as soon as he'd gotten the information about sectionals, and the petite brunette's name was all over it. But admitting to that level of stalkage, teacher-approved or no, would have been outright creepy.
"Eh, whatever," Kurt continued, wrinkling his nose. "I typically avoid doing anything I think Rachel would do. Also, I trust you, so..."
He didn't even know how to respond to that. So instead, he filed it away for later analysis, waited until the song started to play, and then blinked, surprised. "Defying Gravity?"
"It's my favorite," Kurt shrugged blithely.
It took less than a minute for Blaine's opinion to be confirmed. The boy had the voice of an angel. Simple fact. And then...oh, God, and then he got to the end, and Blaine forgot how to breathe. The high F floated, bell-like, clear, and absolutely ethereal, through the car, somehow seeming to go on forever and not nearly long enough at the same time.
And when it was over...thankfully, Blaine had somehow managed to pull into the parking lot of the restaurant and successfully park while Kurt had been singing, so he could just collapse against his seat, wide-eyed, and breathe, "My God, Kurt."
His eyes (bluer today than Blaine remembered them being) were impossibly wide. "So...yeah."
"You..." Bemused, Blaine shook his head wet-dog style, trying to regain the ability to think coherently. "Did you actually think that would change my mind?"
The tiniest of smirks crossed the other's lips. "Not really."
"Explain to me why you don't sing more solos?" Or, well, any, Blaine's ever-helpful mind pointed out.
Kurt blinked as though surprised by the question and climbed out of the car. (Right. Duh. Can't just sit in the parking lot all day.) "Because that's not the way Mr. Shue does things." He made a face. "He rarely chooses anything that really fits my voice. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't mean to complain. I love glee club, but...you know."
"I would think he would be showcasing your talent," Blaine protested hotly, instinctively holding the restaurant door open for Kurt. "Countertenors as good as you are rare, especially in the high school circuit."
"Thanks." He brushed his hair off his forehead unconsciously.
"Two, please?" Blaine added, flashing the hostess with a grin that almost made her fall over, and she hurried to get them their menus.
When they had been seated (in a deliciously cozy corner booth-really must remember to thank David later), the conversation resumed. "I did audition for the 'Defying Gravity' solo," Kurt admitted, fiddling with his menu, "back when we thought we were doing it for sectionals last year. But I didn't get it."
"I doubt she was better than you." Blaine spoke without thinking, and at Kurt's surprised grin, simply shrugged. "That wasn't really supposed to come out. But it is true."
When Kurt's eyes lit up, Blaine couldn't help but wonder how often the boy got complimented. Certainly not as often as he deserved. "Well, she wasn't, really. But...I threw the competition. I cracked the F."
"What?" Blaine's eyebrows shot up. "Why? I mean, you don't have to tell me if you don't want-"
"It's okay," Kurt interrupted, taking a tiny sip from his water glass. "It was-"
"What can I get you?" a petite redhead paused at their table, pad and pen at the ready and utterly oblivious to the conversation she'd just interrupted. "Drinks, maybe an appetizer to start?"
Blaine glanced at Kurt, silently inviting him to go first. "Water's fine."
"Same," Blaine confirmed. "Kurt, did you see any appetizers you wanted or anything?"
"Ah...not unless you want one?" Truthfully, he hadn't even started to look at his menu. It sat open in front of him, otherwise untouched, because he'd been so wrapped up in talking to Blaine that he'd completely forgotten about its existence. Oh, well.
"I think we're alright for now, thank you," Blaine told the woman smoothly, and she beamed at him.
"Okay. Well, just give me a holler if either of you needs anything. My name's Marianne, by the way."
"You were saying?"
"Oh, right." Kurt bit his lip, tracing random patterns in the tablecloth and avoiding Blaine's eyes. "It was, um. Mr. Shue was just going to give the solo to Rachel, because that's what usually happens, but like I said, 'Defying Gravity' is one of my favorite songs, so I got kind of...frustrated. And long story short, my dad ended up coming to school to yell at Mr. Shue for, well...discriminating. Which it wasn't, exactly. But I was upset, and I'd kind of made it sound that way."
"But it wasn't fair, either," Blaine pointed out gently, because Kurt seemed to regret the whole situation, and it really did sound like the New Directions director had been behaving entirely unreasonably.
"So I got to audition," Kurt continued, apparently ignoring Blaine's interjection. "We were going to have a diva-off, and I was really excited about it, because I knew I had a chance. A lot of people hate that Rachel gets all the leads, and I knew I could sing it just as well as she could. Or better." He was speaking on autopilot now, just letting the words pour out because it was such a relief to be able to say all this to someone who would understand what it had been like for him. Someone who would be able to relate to the choice he'd made, who would know why he'd had to make it.
"And then my dad got a phone call. I was absolutely giddy because I'd been practicing, and I knew I had all the notes. So I ran in, obliviously babbling away, and he was trying really hard to look like he cared, and like he was happy for me. But...he's terrible at hiding his feelings, especially from me. I've been taking care of my dad for years, Blaine. I knew something was bothering him, even though he tried not to tell me what it was at first."
The waitress reappeared then, and Blaine, who was waiting with bated breath for the rest of the story, managed to send her away as politely as possible. "What happened, Kurt?"
"Someone called him while he was working at the garage, said, 'Your son's a fag' and hung up." Kurt shook his head. Even now, so many months later, the memory of his father's hurt, angry face cut just as deeply as it had the first time. He lifted his eyes from their contemplation of the table and met Blaine's steady, compassionate gaze. "I don't care if people say it to me. I'm used to it. I can deal with it. But my dad...he can't. It killed him inside, Blaine. And I knew...if I went through with the audition and I got the solo, it would only make things worse. So...I threw it."
His hands were trembling slightly, and Blaine instinctively covered them with his own. Kurt was used to abuse of that magnitude? How? For the love of God, how had things gotten so bad? Was no one paying any attention to what went on at that school?
But he drew a deep breath and pushed back his anger, because he could tell it wasn't what Kurt needed to see right now. "You know," he began carefully, not releasing the other boy's hands, "I knew you were strong from the first day I met you. And what you just told me...it proves it. You are...amazing, Kurt. You're inspiring." It was cheesy, maybe, but it was all Blaine could think of that would even begin to cover his emotions.
But Kurt shook his head. "I'm not. Not really. It's just a way to survive, Blaine. If I wasn't like this, I never would have made it this far."
"Don't talk like that. Don't downplay what you've been able to do." He allowed himself to smile, just a little. "Do you realize...God, I wish I had had a fraction of your fortitude. If I were in your situation...I'd never have lasted as long as you have. I didn't."
"No one should have to."
"You're right," he murmured, still regarding Kurt sympathetically.
"Have you made your decision?" Marianne's smile was still firmly in place as she bounced back over.
Kurt tore his eyes free and chose the first thing he saw on the menu. "I'll have the croque madame, please."
"I'd love the quiche Lorraine." Blaine smiled pleasantly.
When she had scurried off, clutching the menus, silence fell again. He wondered uncertainly if he should continue to pursue the conversation or if it would be better to change the subject, but as it turned out, he didn't have to worry about making that decision. "Can we stop dissecting my problems?" Kurt asked sheepishly. "I feel like every time I see you, it's all we end up doing because I'm always in the middle of some huge personal crisis."
"Of course! I'm sorry, I-"
"No, no!" Kurt blanched. "God, I didn't mean it that way. I meant..." he laughed self-deprecatingly, "It's just so good to be able to talk to somebody who gets it. I guess I get sort of carried away."
"I hope you don't think you've been any trouble," Blaine replied sternly. "Because it is absolutely not a big deal. I like talking to you."
"I like talking to you, too." He laughed nervously, twisting his napkin compulsively around his fingers. "So we should talk about you."
"Oh. Um. What did you want to know?"
"Anything. Anything you want to tell."
Blaine chuckled slightly, hesitantly. "I don't know. I'm really not that interesting."
"You are to me," Kurt confessed, trying to ignore his thudding heart. He lowered his eyes, cheeks pink.
"Hm. Well, I'm Blaine Anderson, and I enjoy irritating the hell out of my roommates with incessant guitar playing, the feel of wet sand between my toes, and classic literature. I'm allergic to cats (and I'm more of a dog person anyway). And...I'm really, incredibly, painfully bad at French." He beamed proudly, and Kurt promptly burst out laughing.
He doubled over, for once not bothering to care about what his hair looked like, or worry about what he'd have to face when he got back to McKinley. For now, it was more than enough to lose himself in the outright joy of this moment. He was still hysterical when the waitress arrived with their food, and he made a valiant effort to control himself, but it only resulted in him laughing even harder. She shot him an odd look and hurried away, which, of course, made Blaine crack up as well. When their mirth had finally subsided, Kurt dabbed lightly at his streaming eyes, wondering if his current case of perma-smile was ever going to go away, then deciding he didn't give a damn. "Whoo, I haven't laughed like that in a long time."
"Glad to be of service," Blaine quipped, trying a bite of his quiche. "Oh my God. I think David is my new favorite person."
Kurt daintily cut off a piece of his sandwich (something that David always taunted Blaine mercilessly for doing whenever he got that particular dish) and stuck it in his mouth. Blaine watched, spellbound, as the younger boy's eyes fluttered closed and he hummed delightedly. "Oh, wow. He's definitely toward the top of my list."
"Want to try mine?" Turning his plate so that Kurt could get to a piece that his mouth hadn't touched, Blaine pushed the food over (Kurt tried not to be disappointed).
"Mmm. Yeah, David's definitely in my top 20 favorite people list for telling you about this place." The corners of his eyes crinkled as he smirked mischievously. "It amuses me endlessly that you like French cuisine, yet claim to be terrible at the language itself."
"I don't think you understand. There is no claiming, and terrible does not even begin to cover it. Wes takes it, too, and he spends insane amounts of hours trying to drill it into my head. And I'm still hopeless."
"I'd help you, if I were closer."
"Do you speak French?"
"I may or may not be fluent," Kurt admitted, offering Blaine a bite of his sandwich, which he accepted, and then proceeded to almost choke on as Kurt's words sunk in.
"Are you serious?"
Blaine smiled as enchantingly as possible (Kurt promptly forgot how to move). "Would you happen to have a skype, Kurt?"
"I would. I can't imagine why you would be wondering such a thing, Blaine."
"Certainly not because Wes has taken to refusing to help me lately and I fear for my French grade. Also, it absolutely has nothing to do with wanting to talk to you more often." And wanting to be able to see your face, and hear your voice
"Certainly not," Kurt echoed, giggling. An actual giggle. Blaine was pretty sure his heart almost exploded at the sheer adorableness of the sound. "But I may find you on there later. You know. Just because."
"I might accept you," Blaine responded, grinning uncontrollably. "Maybe."
"And I might be willing to help tutor you. If you ask nicely." Kurt was kind of stunned by his own daring, particularly considering the day's events, but what the hell.
Blaine's jaw went a little slack. Be careful. Becarefulbecarefulbecareful. "I think I'm capable of that," he answered finally.
"I'm sure you are," Kurt mumbled, almost inaudibly. He couldn't help wondering whether the other boy had meant for him to hear it. "Hey, do you have another eHarmony-esque mini-bio to give me? I still feel cheated."
"Kurt Hummel, I'm pretty sure you're the one who's cheating. I really don't know much about you. I know what you've been through, but I don't know you."
"Yes you do," the other boy protested, gesticulating wildly. "You know I'm fluent in French and am obsessed with food of that culture-well done on that, by the way. You know I'm obsessed with Patti LuPone and Wicked, that I'm pretty much the most epic bargain shopper ever."
"And that you're a terrible spy," Blaine teased.
"Kurt, you were literally the only person in the entire school who wasn't wearing the Dalton blazer. It was kind of obvious."
"You suck," Kurt pouted, but his eyes were twinkling. "Whatever. I'm not going to win this one, am I?"
"No you are not," Blaine answered promptly, beaming. "Perhaps we should just agree that neither of us knows nearly enough about the other, and that we should work on that?"
"I like that idea."
The conversation lapsed into comfortable silence, and before long the waitress was returning with the check. Kurt managed to sneak a peek before Blaine grabbed it, and reached reflexively for his wallet.
"Excuse you. What are you doing?"
Kurt froze, hand half in his pocket. "Getting my wallet?"
Blaine furrowed his brow. "Why?"
"To...pay for my food?"
"You are doing no such thing." He narrowed his eyes, playfully angry. "Unless I am very much mistaken, what I said was, 'I'll buy you lunch.' Which means that your wallet has no purpose at this table."
"Kurt," he stressed, now switching to his most irresistible pout. (Kurt choked on nothing at all.) "Please let me buy you lunch? Pretty please?"
"Nguh," the other managed. "Um."
"I'll take that as a yes!" Cheerfully, Blaine stuck a fifty into the flap and flagged the waitress. "No change."
Her eyes widened. "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely." He glanced at his watch. "Shoot. Kurt, you ready?"
"You cheated!" Kurt accused suddenly, folding his arms stubbornly and refusing to stand.
"If it's that important to you, I'll let you get me next time." He fluttered his lashes exaggeratedly, privately thinking that if he was lucky enough for there to be a next time, he sure as hell wasn't going to let Kurt pay.
Next time? Kurt's mind seized those two words like a drowning man grabs a life raft. "S-sure," he stammered, wondering if it was possible that this whole afternoon had actually been a bizarrely vivid, unbelievably fantastic dream.
"Great. Now c'mon. I don't want to get you in trouble."
"I don't care," he blurted out, and Blaine laughed.
"I do. I'd like your friends not to hate me for stealing you."
They'd never hate you. They know how happy you make me.
The entire ride home was spent with Kurt's iPod cranked, singing at the top of their lungs, and way too soon, Blaine was pulling back into the McKinley parking lot and both boys were regretfully getting out of the car.
"Thank you so much for lunch. And...everything else." Suddenly feeling bashful again, Kurt smiled at Blaine and clutched the strap of his bag. "I really, really appreciate it."
"It was my pleasure," Blaine assured him. "I mean, I know how hard it was for you to confront Karofsky, and of course I'd have preferred for that not to have been necessary, but I have to admit...I was glad to have the chance to spend more time with you."
"Me too." Kurt's smile lit his whole face, and Blaine couldn't resist temptation any longer.
He opened his arms, grinning hopefully. "Can I have a hug?"
Definitely a dream. There was no way someone as completely perfect as Blaine was actually grinning dopily at him, arms outstretched and eyes shining. And dammit, dream or not, Kurt was going to take advantage of this moment. "Of course." He sighed quietly, relaxing in the other boy's embrace. Being in Blaine's arms was...warm. Comfortable. It felt...right. Can I just stay here forever?
Blaine laughed quietly, and ohmyGod Kurt could feel his breath on the back of his neck and his heart beating up against his own chest and really, was this a hug or was it heaven? "Unfortunately, I think you should probably go to class. Not that I'd mind if we stayed like this for a while." Crap. Too much?
Kurt pulled away slightly, eyes huge and panicked. "I said that out loud, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did," Blaine smiled again. Kurt just seemed to have that effect on him-he didn't remember the last time he had smiled so much in only a few short hours. And with Wes and David as his best friends, that was saying something.
"Oh my GaGa, I'm so sorry." His face was going to burst into flame. Because there was absolutely no way he could survive humiliation like this with Blaine, dapper, beautiful, perfect Blaine, of all people.
"Don't worry about it. I don't mind."
"Well. Um. Thank you. Again." Because what else could he possibly say that wouldn't end up making this even worse?
"Like I said-any time. Also, for the record, I do intend to skype you sometime soon. Just so you know."
"I'd be disappointed if you didn't," Kurt replied, hitching his bag higher up on his shoulder and jumping slightly as the bell rang, shrill and obnoxious, across the parking lot. Dammit. "I think I have to go."
"I'll talk to you soon, Kurt."
The ending's a bit abrupt for my taste, but anything else I tried to come up with felt too forced. Aside from that, how'd I do? :)