Silver Lake Sort of Summer - This is a companion piece to my fic: "It's Sunset and Vine", so please read that first! (On my main fic page)
In the grand scheme of things, nothing's ever going to be easy for Blaine Anderson and Kurt Hummel, but that's life as gay men in a society that isn't wholly accepting. In the grand scheme of things, they'll fight for their right to love for most of their life. If they're lucky something will change someday, but they can't count on it, not when there's so much living to do in the meantime.
In the grand scheme of things they're lucky, because they have one another. It's a luxury some other gay kids stuck in other small-town mid-western states don't get.
In the grand scheme of things; despite the slushies and the shoving and the slurs and even the death threats they're special and lucky and they have friends and support from their families (Kurt's more than Blaine's, but they're not bad people, just reluctant to understand). They can hold hands and they can snuggle and they can sing duets.
They're lucky, they know, so so lucky.
The summer between junior and senior year they go to Los Angeles to spend the summer with Blaine's older brother Drew, who is world renowned street artist 'D.A.' They spend the first three days curled together on Drew and Bagel's ratty old couch, springs pressing uncomfortably into their backs. In the morning they're stuck together head to toe because it has to be eighty-something degrees in the bungalow and there's no air conditioning and sweat happens.
Kurt gives up on caring what his hair looks like a week in and Blaine stops gelling his two days before that. Drew finally finds them a cheap box-spring mattress and from that point forward they sleep under the big bay window in the screened in porch, under the night sky.
Kurt knows if anyone could see him they'd be shocked; almost appalled. He doesn't certainly have the reputation for being the lowest maintenance person, but this is a different world than home; this is a chance to try something different. Bagel gives up half of her pretty small closet so he could hang up the clothes he'd packed carefully when they'd left Ohio, but in the end, they remain mostly untouched. Instead, Kurt takes a page from Blaine and Drew's handbook and soon has colored tee shirts in every shade imaginable. He accessorizes, of course - he isn't a totally different person, but accessories combined from what he'd brought are also collected from vintage shops and second hand stores; sometimes places Kurt would've never found himself months prior.
Blaine's hair is unruly by the second week, growing longer. He wears a five o'clock shadow that gives Kurt beard burn, but he's happy to have it, especially if it means Blaine's lips are kissing his. In fact, he loves it - loves that he can touch his sensitive cheek an hour later and feel the soreness on his own skin, on his neck.
At the end of the summer, Kurt will have bought a pair of vintage Dior sunglasses in a dinky vintage shop downtown that didn't recognize the designer label and he'd only spent $10 on them. (They're worth at least $300, and he feels sort of guilty about it until Blaine presses up behind him and whispers, "Oh hello Mr. Movie Star - any chance I can fuck you wearing those?") Later, they drink wine at the bistro down the street (that doesn't card) at a table next to Zachary Quinto and whoever he's fucking this month, and they take bets on what their friends are going to say when they get back to Lima for senior year, looking like California hipster rejects.
Kurt knows the two of them can be insufferable at times; Kurt is all to aware of his own intelligence and Blaine's just confident up the wazoo, so having spent three months in Los Angeles with artists and musicians while their friends did odd jobs in their hometown (he's pretty sure Rachel is scooping ice cream this summer, and he knows Finn's helping his dad at the shop) will only make their pretentiousness even that more obnoxious, but as they sit there, pretending they're more worldly than they actually are, he can't really seem to care.
Bagel is tiny and has energy unlike anyone's every seen and she picks Kurt as her favorite of the two not even a moment after they arrive. In fact, that night they stepped off the plane that she has Kurt, jet-lagged and exhausted, running through the streets of downtown Los Angeles as she takes photos of random landmarks.
"For research," She explains, standing in the middle of a four-lane expressway as cars dart past her. She doesn't even flinch when a Volvo presses the horn at them, but Kurt certainly does - he jumps three feet in the air and he'll swear that his life flashed in front of his eyes.
Kurt abandons her there to find solace on the other side of the freeway, on a sidewalk. He was raised right and he can practically hear his father telling him that it isn't gentlemanly to leave a lady by herself at 2AM in the middle of the street, but he can only do so much, really. He watches her, against the backdrop of the city, moonlit and sort of stunning, and has an out of body experience.
He's in Los Angeles. He's in Los Angeles with his boyfriend - his boyfriend and his boyfriend's brother and his boyfriend's brother's fiance, both of whom happen to be world-renowned street artists.
Bagel's at his side a few moments later, staring up at him with a curious look and her pixie haircut dragged every which way by her fingers. She reaches up and puts a pointer finger on his nose and giggles at him.
"Dearest," She says, pressing his nose a bit, "I think you're going to be my muse."
Blaine's curls are longer now and he's started wearing suspenders and mismatched socks and sometimes Kurt stares at him and wonders where the boy from Dalton Academy has gone. He's got his guitar strapped across his chest and he's riffing with one of Drew's friends around the bonfire at someone's party somewhere in Santa Monica. It's cool and he's wearing a long-sleeved gray Henley - one of Blaine's - and the coolest fucking boots he'd ever seen that he'd found in a shop on Melrose and one of his favorite scarves and a fedora. Bagel's curled up against him, toes pressing into his calf- he'd told her not to wear sandals but she hadn't listened and she was now trying to hijack his warmth because Drew is drunkenly dancing to the random music Blaine and Gabe are producing.
Blaine's fingers pick up the pace and he starts plucking at his guitar strings with increasing fervor, and then he's singing, loudly and happily, over the sound of the fire. Kurt closes his eyes against the sound of Blaine's strong, emotion filled voice, and then allows himself to be tugged from his perch to dance with Drew and Bagel and the other random people gathered with them.
Blaine drifts into an impromptu version of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's "Janglin'", although it's a bit faster than the original and off a few notes but everyone sings along with the chorus, together and off-key a little but Kurt's enamored by the expression of sheer joy on Blaine's face that he simply doesn't care.
A month ago he hadn't even known who Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's even were but now he can sing along with it, partly because he'd taken an interest in the band himself, partly because Bagel was obsessed with them and played the album at decibels that should be illegal while sitting in traffic on the 405. Either way, Kurt wonders if Kurt Hummel of a month ago would recognize Kurt Hummel of right now.
He's not sure he would.
There's another side to Hollywood they don't see that often, which is silly because it's the side of Hollywood everyone sees most often. It's the side with the plastic people and the money and the fancy cars. Sometimes Kurt forgets that side exists at all, even though he'd visited Rodeo Drive when they'd first arrived and they drive through Beverly Hills enough to get to West Hollywood. It's just easier down in Silver Lake; a different kind of Los Angeles. Still pretentious on most days, but the sort of pretentious that is approachable. The kind of pretentious that wants to be normal but isn't quite succeeding, because half of the vintage looking outfits that don the streets in their neighborhood don't come by their frays naturally or through time.
But Kurt's grateful, honestly, for this back-entry into the world of the young and famous, even as slight as his is. Entering through the art world is vastly different than entering through the acting world. What Drew and Bagel do is a little bit illegal, a little bit illicit and seems darker than it really is. They are symbols of what society is trying to quelch (once Blaine compares the plight of gay rights to the messages Bagel and Drew were trying to convey and it sort of made sense.) They do their jobs at night, under the darkness of sun being down and only with the light of belt-clipped flashlights while on the run. The next day, when it's plastered all over the arts section of the Los Angeles Times, and then, the New York Times, they can't own up to their messages, and they can't take claim on their work. Kurt decides it's the most selfish selfless form of celebrity ever after being immersed in it for two weeks.
He doesn't understand the point, sometimes, and doesn't get it as much as he wants to.
He tries talking to Drew about it one night, after Blaine's gone to bed. Drew's in the kitchen, illuminated by the oven's overheard light, and he's stuffing glue and rolls of silkscreen into his bag. He's wearing all black like some creepy burglar, and he looks up at Kurt's entrance with a small smile.
Kurt's still unsure how to act around Drew; the other man is Blaine's absolute hero, and that makes him very very important to impress, but Drew is the basic antithesis to Blaine in almost every way, even when Blaine decides to emulate him, so he never knows what to do, not really. He'll find out later that Drew likes Kurt, and has since day one, since he'd barged into Blaine's dorm at Dalton, and Kurt had nothing to worry about the whole time, but he doesn't know that now. So he watches Drew shove these items into a backpack and then watches him flip through a sketch book.
"Bagel is obsessed with you," Drew finally says, looking up as he zips his bag and shoulders it. Kurt blushes and then blanches, because Bagel is Drew's fiance and gay or not, no guy wants his fiance to be obsessed with another guy. Kurt's about to apologize when Drew laughs, loudly and totally inappropriately for nearly two in the morning. Kurt listens after the laugh, for a hitch in Blaine's light snore, to make sure his boyfriend doesn't wake up, but he keeps on rolling.
"Don't get freaked, dude, no big deal. She thinks you look like a classic movie star crossed with some sort of angel and she digs it. Something about your aesthetic gets her going, is all. You should be flattered when she finally shows you some of the stuff she's been working on inspired by you; it's pretty incredible and it's a million years away from her past stuff."
Kurt doesn't know what to say, what to think. He's grateful that he's inspiring Bagel, and even a little relieved that her work is different from her past creations because she's known for drawing a lot of blood and it's always frightened him a little, but he's still unsure what to say to Drew.
"Thanks," He finally says, even though that's not what he wanted to say at all. Drew just touches his shoulder as he walks by with a soft smile on his face.
Drew drives an old Jeep Wrangler with the top off pretty much every day, even if it's raining. It has to be be pouring for him to consider putting the effort in to replace the canvas material top, and even then he does it only when there's enough whining.
On their way from the airport to the bungalow on their first day, it's dusk and warm and Kurt's hair is a disaster. Riding in a Wrangler is sort of like taking a roller coaster ride, the shocks suck and it's cramped and the bench in the backseat is uncomfortable and your knees are pressed up into your chest. Drew drives quickly and takes corners sharply and they take the long way back, over the canyons, so it's even scarier, but Blaine's face is so so open and sweet that Kurt keeps his biting opinions to himself.
Drew's playing some sort of odd indie music at a level which makes it impossible to hold any conversation, but whatever it is, despite not being Kurt's taste, is the perfect soundtrack to the beginning of this adventure they're setting out on. Blaine's hand reaches out and clasps with his and his eyes connect with his own and he just seems so so happy that even Kurt's tight hold with his other hand on the roll cage bar loosens a little. He watches Blaine's profile for awhile, illuminated against the dying sunlight, curls flying ever which way, sunglasses slightly askew as he takes in the view of the hills and mountains as they wind through them and he's struck by the beauty of it all, by the content feeling that curls into his chest.
He looks away to catch Bagel looking at him with a soft expression on her face. She doesn't look away right away, not at all bashful about being caught. Instead she winks and then reaches across the stick shift to clasp her own hand with Drew's free one before singing along with the music loudly.
When they finally pull up outside the bungalow, Drew cuts the engine before turning around to look at them.
"So dudes, here we are, hipster heaven. Listen, I'm not anyone's parents so I'm not going to act like I am and also I don't want to be because that's a super buzz kill but I do have a couple of house rules because as much as I'll pretty much let you do whatever the fuck you want you are still technically illegal, so, whatever.
One: No curfews or any of that shit but always let someone know where you are- I don't care if it's me or Bagel or any of the other bums that will float through our place this summer or even each other if one of you is going out without the other, but someone needs to know where you are because if you disappear I gotta go find you. So don'tdisappear.
Two: You're not, like, twelve, and you've also been dating one another for a bit so you'll be sharing a bed because we don't have all that much room but you'll see that your "room" is sort of communal public space so if you're gonna fuck try to be respectful about it; not because of the gay thing but because of the brother thing and the general respect thing. Just be cool. Otherwise have fun because I don't think our parents, right, Blaine? Or even yours Kurt, would've ever let you sleep together willingly and even provide a bed for it, so have at it. Also don't tell your Dad I said that Kurt because I may have insinuated that you would have separate sleeping areas when you two started this campaign to stay here.
Finally, three: Okay, drink if you want, I'm sure you'll even be at some things wherein we'll be providing booze; fine whatever, but don't be a moron about it. The first time I have to babysit either of you it's done. Same goes with weed; not sure if either of you are into it or want to try it; to each his own, really, I don't care, but this is California and it's partially legal here so it happens, so do it if you want, but if I even get a slight inclination that you're doing anything more serious than pot I will kill both of you painfully. That's for real."
Kurt and Blaine have been silent and stock still for the entirety of this little lecture, and Kurt knows when Drew looks over at them his face must be aflame. Bagel's laughing, a little, into her hands, not hiding her mirth very well and Blaine looks a little punch-drunk. Drew, on the other hand, looks like he's swallowed something particularly nasty.
"Ugh, God, I feel like a Dad this is gross, that's it. I meant it all, but God I don't want to repeat any of that ever, let's get the fuck out of here."
He gets out of the car and pushes his seat forward. Kurt nearly faceplants trying to climb out but Bagel steadies him with a hand on his elbow and when he looks at her, she's hysterically laughing.
"Oh your face. So cute. You're a cute little nymph I'm going to put you in my pocket and keep you forever."
Kurt feels like he should be offended because she's something like five-foot nothing but can't be, not when he's never felt so uncomfortable and content simultaneously in his life.
The first day Blaine goes to busk on the 3rd Street Promenade he leaves super early on a Sunday to catch the crowd coming in for the farmer's market, too. Kurt and Bagel and Drew follow late morning, stopping to pick fresh fruit and veggies before wandering on the more commercial Third Street Promenade itself. Kurt's only slightly distracted by the stores lining the closed off street, but when they finally stumble upon Blaine, who's got a fairly decent amount of people watching him, all distractions melt away.
Blaine's in a tee and tight cuffed jeans and untied Chucks. His hair is ungelled and he's scruffy and he's wearing lime green sunglasses and he's stupidly attractive even though the Blaine standing in front of him is a far cry from the one he'd met on the staircase that day; at least - on the outside, he is. He's playing a little Top 40, the hottest song of the summer and he's making it his own and Kurt wants to tell everyone within a two block radius that this boy was his boyfriend - especially those girls fawning and giggling over him on the other side of the semi-circle that's formed around Blaine. He's not jealous, really, but he'd never thought he'd have the opportunity to have a boy that other people (not even just other boys! other boys and other girls!) were so openly interested in. It makes him feel sort of proud, actually, in a completely shallow way.
Blaine spots him and there's the cute little wink that sometimes annoys Kurt and sometimes makes him melt (it makes him melt this morning). Blaine eventually drags Kurt up with him and they duet to an even bigger crowd, and it's Drew who puts the first handful of singles into Blaine's guitar case. In the end they only make thirty dollars after four hours, but it's worth it to see Blaine's smile and hear his voice and see how it impacts total strangers that aren't there because they specifically wanted to be. It's exhilarating.
He starts going nearly every Sunday, sometimes Kurt joins him, sometimes he doesn't, but by the third week he has an official/unofficial spot and by the end of the summer his tips have increased. By the very last weekend he's made almost $200 in the same four hours and he has a clipboard with email addresses of people interested in an album he may or may not make eventually.
The third week Kurt starts going out with Bagel Wednesday nights to do whatever she does. Sometimes she destroys sides of buildings and turns them into something beautiful, sometimes she sits in a park and sketches. By the end of June she's incorporating Kurt's profile into her work, and he blushes so ferociously when he sees her paint it on the side of a building in Hollywood that he skips the next Wednesday. It's prolific, what she's doing, or so says the Arts section of the New York Times.
He gets a call from his Dad the following week.
"Kurt, am I seeing your face on a wall in Los Angeles? What the heck is going on down there?" He sounds confused, a little bitter, kind of awkward. He hadn't understood, really, when Kurt had explained Bagel and Drew's professions initially. He doesn't really know how to explain it further, now.
"You're being silly, Dad." He brushes it off, "You're seeing things. Why would I be painted on a wall?"
There's a pause and he knows his father is thinking long and hard about it. He's also not sure his dad will allow him this one - Burt Hummel, as simple as he claims to be, is hardly stupid, and he knows his kid. He lets things go, sometimes, because it's easier.
"Right. I must've been mistaken, kid." He huffs into the phone, and Kurt swears he can hear Finn's voice in the background, "I miss you, Kurt."
Kurt, who's sitting on the front stoop of the bungalow watching Drew and Blaine spray paint large sections of a rolled canvas a strange neon green color, has a pang of homesickness. It's hot and he's sweaty and if he was at home he'd be in air conditioning probably planning an outing to the mall this coming weekend with Mercedes. Instead, he's half dressed and sticky and he's sure he smells and he wouldn't recognize himself if he looked in the mirror. It's exhilarating and exhausting.
"I miss you too, Dad."
So their little screened in porch bedroom is truly privacy lacking, but it's nice. It's cooler out there than inside the bungalow and there's little to no humidity so when it's dropped to 60's at night they can comfortably curl together under a light blanket. They stick to Drew's rules and keep the heavy petting to the early mornings and afternoons when Bagel and Drew are still sleeping off their late-night art-making sessions.
Sex is something they hadn't had a lot of time to explore at home; parents and school and nosey step-siblings usually interrupted any sort of progress they'd made on that front, so they're still pretty much virgins upon stepping foot in California. When Bagel and Drew go away for a weekend to San Diego for a friend's gallery opening they take the time to explore one another the way they'd always wanted to for the first time. Kurt's never felt so close to another person until he's had Blaine's lips around his cock, Blaine's fingers in his ass. He'd always considered them intimate because they'd always always been honest, but it's another thing to wake up next to someone who's literally been inside you and seen and heard you in every position imaginable. He hates to sound cliche but he wakes up feeling so so differently the next morning, wakes up feeling like a grown up. He's grateful, though, as he pets Blaine's hair away from his face and nuzzles his nose into Blaine's clavicle, that they'd waited; that he'd found the right person in Blaine. He couldn't imagine having had this sort of experience with the wrong person. It must be horrifying.
When Blaine wakes up they throw on sweats and tees and sandals and head down to the coffee shop with the hot waiter on Sunset to order breakfast. They sit in silence as they drink, just staring at one another. Blaine's foot slides across the concrete and settles against Kurt's and there's a small smile on his lips.
"Can we do that again?" He says with a teasing smirk, watching Kurt's tongue as it darts out to lick his lips.
"Right away would be preferable." Kurt teases back, and even though he was sort of kidding, they race one another back to the bungalow, crashing through the front door and tearing clothes off as they go before tumbling back into bed. Looking back, it's in Kurt's top three moments of his experiences in Los Angeles. Much much later, he'll admit it was his absolute favorite.
Kurt's in Los Angeles for more reasons than to follow around Bagel and listen to Blaine busk for extra cash. He'd always pictured himself either in Los Angeles or New York in the future and this was the opportunity to see how the West Coast fit. In the end, he'll admit he wasn't sure by the time he'd left California, mostly because he had so many incredible memories made in Los Angeles.
So, he's there to find himself too, so he attempts to. He and Blaine sit on line for two days to try out for American Idol (well, for Kurt to try out for American Idol), and he doesn't make it. In the end, Kurt's actually grateful he's turned away, because if he's learned anything from the trip, it's that he's not made to be a pop star.
He also auditions for a small theater company's production of Spring Awakening and he gets it. For two weeks he rehearses, and for two weeks he plays Ernst to a modest crowd. Blaine's there for eight of the fourteen performances and spends an entire two weeks of his busking money to buy Kurt an insane bouquet of roses after his last night.
Kurt's proud of himself, in the end.
So Bagel and Drew get married in the backyard, but not legally because both of them don't feel they should until Kurt and Blaine can, too. Kurt is embarrassingly charmed by it, Blaine just blushes and Drew laughs, loudly and inappropriately, saying that he doesn't necessarily mean "to each other, you morons, but if that happens, that's cool too".
They both feel it's an unnecessary gesture but they let both of them think they're doing them a favor and they're touched by it, as misplaced as it is. In the end it's really really wonderful, because there are home friends and there are new friends and there's dancing barefoot in the grass and Kurt gets to slow dance with Blaine again and there's no way he'd ever turn that down.
Kurt feels like such a grown-up, that evening, as he sways tucked close to Blaine's chest as his father dances with Carole a few feet away. It's the first time he ever thinks, I can do this and This can be my future and This is what real happiness is. He kisses the side of Blaine's neck lightly and then kisses his smile away and they stand under the straining starlight and listen keep on going and going and going.
Later, Brittany and Santana and Sam and Finn and Mercedes and Puck, who are the friends that have made it out to California for the event, take two cars down to the beach. They drink and maybe there's a little pot and there's a bonfire. By the end of the night they curl up tight as a group into one large mass of teenagers to stay warm and talk as the fire dies.
It's so so wonderful.
The first day back at McKinley is a huge slap in the face because it's McKinley and it's home and although Kurt feels so far away from this place while breathing in it's familiar halls, it's still home. Blaine joins him, even though he'd had no reason other than him to leave Dalton, and they walk through the halls feeling very much like different people than when Kurt had left them last Spring. He looks different, sure - a little taller, a little leaner from walking a lot; and Blaine looks more like his old self- he's shaved the beard and tamed the curls a little; not much Dalton-like but neater; but it's inside that's the most different.
The actual realization that there's a whole world out there that isn't Lima, Ohio, that he can live in it and be happy - it's all like a reassuring steel set into his bones. While he can't hold Blaine's hand in some public places and he definitely won't ever tuck his hand into Blaine's back pocket like he'd taken to doing when walking through West Hollywood with him, he knows that there's somewhere that he can. He knows that it's possible, even if it's not perfect.
Behind closed doors they do all that and more; they hold hands, they kiss, they make love. Even if the public isn't accepting of them, yet, they are accepting of themselves.
So he wears his $300 Dior sunglasses (that he got for $10) and he walks side by side with Blaine. He returns to McKinley with his head held high. He doesn't let the slurs get him down, doesn't flinch when he's bumped too hard in the hallway. Instead when he's feeling particularly shaken he'll call Bagel, or simply open his locker to where he's taped photos of their summer up, or he'll even just find Blaine.
Next year they'll go to school in New York - Blaine at NYU and Kurt at the New School, but they'll move to LA after they graduate. They love both cities but Bagel and Drew are in Los Angeles and they're family and they take care of one another.
In 2012 gay marriage is once again legalized in California and in 2015, in the coffee shop they'd gone to after they'd had sex together for the first time, Kurt proposes to Blaine.
It's cheesy, but they'd never have it any other way.
But a few years ago, Kurt Hummel never knew Blaine Anderson or even Andrew Anderson and certainly not Emma 'Bagel' Warren. Two years ago, Kurt Hummel sat with his father on a Sunday and read the New York Times Arts section as Burt read the sports. He reads an article that day. The headline read:
"Street Art Personifies Modern Culture As We Know It"
There's a stencil etched onto the wall of the 14th Street Subway station in New York and it's of the profile of a young guy with swirls of color. The artist's name is 'D.A.' and he's apparently the future of street art.
Kurt will forget that article until he meets Drew Anderson in person, one day. Until then, he'll wait for his life to change. He doesn't know it yet, but it will.
It very much will.