[A/N: This is the (not exactly long anticipated) sequel to Scribbles, Spies, and Little White Lies, in that it takes place ten years after the events of that story. If you haven't read that, some very minor plot points in this may confuse you, but it isn't insurmountable. Basically, Kurt and Blaine got together with Kurt while he was still at McKinley, but they both graduated from Dalton. Wes and David take complete credit for getting them together, because they came up with a nefarious scheme.
This is rated T, but I'm going to warn that the characters use what could be considered mature language. It is infrequent, but it does occur, so if that offends you then... there you have it.
This is different to its prequel both in tone (very, very different) and in the fact that it is, as of this moment, completely written. This fact, in addition to this story's existence as more than a few pages languishing on my hard drive, is due to the encouragement of my fabulous beta for this story, Kat (psychopiratess). She also deserves credit for suggesting a song that became central to a scene that appears later in the story. But more on that later.
Additional eternal thanks goes to Ali (of-a-crescendo), whose "serious-business" notes vastly improved both the flow of the story and my grasp on it.
There will be songs/lyrics used, and I highly recommend that once one comes up you listen to it - not only because the song is emotionally relevant (often to the plot), but it is a major part of it. That is, of course, your choice. I will be uploading a link to the playlist for this story to my profile once it becomes relevant.
Apologies for the lengthly introduction - I hope you enjoy this story, as it is one of the more emotional pieces I think I've written on here, and I hope you'll let me know what you think.
Finally - bear with them, dear readers. I think they're worth it.]
Blaine threw the tea-towel over his shoulder, tasted a little of the sauce off the end of the spoon he was holding, and added more tomato and basil to the simmering pan. He was chatting over his shoulder casually as he did so. "And how is Amanda doing?"
The voice came from the laptop on the dining room table.
"Amanda was, like, a month ago, man," Wes complained from Seattle, "for about four seconds. She was a little clingy."
A dry voice interrupted him from Chicago. "Wes, expecting to see you more than once is not clingy."
"Shut up, David."
"You shut up."
Blaine rolled his eyes as he stirred the pasta and then wiped his damp hands on his jeans. "Guys, stop it. Wes, I'm sorry, we haven't talked in a while so I don't know the name of the girl du jour."
"Did he just speak French, David?"
"I think he spoke French."
"Clearly New York City has changed you, Blaine."
"I almost don't recognize you anymore."
"You can't see me, geniuses."
"That's what makes it so sad."
"Wes, just tell me about the new girlfriend."
"Her name is Autumn."
"Hey! Sticking with the same letter of the alphabet. For you that's almost commitment."
"David, be nice." How was it they were all in their mid-twenties and Blaine still felt like the parent? He grabbed cutlery from a drawer and put it out. Then he flopped into a dining room chair and rested his elbows on the table.
"So, Blaine, what's changed with you in the last month? Lawyery-stuff funner than ever?"
Blaine shrugged, and then realized they couldn't see him. "It's fine."
"How about Kurt? I don't hear him. Can we say hi?"
Damn, thought Blaine. That was fast. I'm gonna have to tell them. They're gonna freak th-
"Kuuuurt! We miss yoooou! Don't tell Blaine, but -"
"Hi Kuuuurt! It's David! I really think that -"
"He's not here," Blaine interrupted.
"Well, tell him we say hi. I left him a voicemail last week. And I'm hurt he hasn't texted me."
"Tell him I say hi more."
"Tell him I think of him-"
"I'm not telling him anything." Blaine decided that it would be best to give it to them straight. He took a deep breath and said the words he didn't think he'd ever get used to, or want to, for that matter. "We broke up."
There was stunned silence for so long that Blaine thought they might have lost the connection. Then:
He put his head in his hands tiredly. "Wes -"
All the humor was gone from the voice. "No. I'm calling bullshit. Bull. Shit. Hamilton. When did this happen?"
"Three weeks ago." Two weeks, three days, twenty one hours and fifteen minutes. But who was counting?
"Is this one of those stupid things where you told him his hair looked weird, or he said he didn't like The Little Mermaid? Because man, I'm telling you -"
"Wes, stop. It wasn't like that. We had a fight. We decided it was over. We broke up. He's gone... it happens." If he said it enough maybe he'd believe it.
David interjected. "In fairness, Blaine, this is kind of big. I mean, you guys've been together for what, ten years?"
Nine years, 11 months, twenty three days. That's what it would be today. But who was counting?
"Listen, guys, I really don't want to talk about this. Keep it to yourselves, though, 'cause we're not telling people until we work it– our families... not until everything's been finalized...with the apartment and stuff. You two and Mercedes are the only people that know."
"Of course. But, dude," David said reasonably, "this is... I mean... this is a big deal. Are you sure you're okay?"
Blaine took a deep breath, pulled his bare feet onto the chair with him and hugged his knees, letting his chin rest on the black denim. Then he opened his mouth and reassured his friends with one of the biggest lies he'd ever told.
"I'm fine. We both just knew it was time." He closed his eyes to will emotion back in, forcing his voice to stay level. "It's for the best, really."
He realized the pasta was ready and drained it. Then he put some on his plate, added sauce, and turned back to the table, listening to David, who had mercifully changed the subject and was talking about his weird doctoral advisor. He stopped dead when he saw the table.
He'd done it again. He'd set the table for two without even thinking about it.
It hurt to look at it. I mean, it wasn't really that big a deal, really... but ten year habits die hard. And Blaine was beginning to realize how much of his life revolved around those habits. Sleeping (or not), eating, work, texting, studying cases, talking on the phone, going home to visit... they were all parts of his life that had been shared for a long time now. It was things like that – setting the table, making two cups of coffee, cooking enough pasta for two, picking up his phone out of habit to text Kurt and tell him he was running late, or laugh about that girl who worked in accounts, the one who always wore miniskirts, even when it was freezing outside. Those were the things that hurt. He'd be typing out the text, entering the number, pouring the coffee when he remembered. Salt on the wound.
And as he ate a forkful of pasta that was actually delicious, but tasted to him like sand, and tried to cheerfully respond to whatever Wes was saying, Blaine wished that he hadn't been so happy in a relationship for almost a decade. It made being suddenly alone suck a lot more.
Twenty minutes of random unrelated chatter later, and having exchanged goodbyes and promises to talk again soon, Wes snapped his laptop closed. He grabbed his pillow, the nearest object to him, and tossed it at the wall angrily. "Dammit!"
He reached for his cell phone and speed dialed two – David. Annoyed to get sent to voicemail, he almost didn't notice that his call waiting was beeping. David was calling him. Great minds still thought alike.
"What. The. Fuck." Wes collapsed back onto his couch.
"We have to find out what happened. This is -"
"I know. But are you sure we should -"
"David. They're our best friends. They've been in love for over a decade. They've been broken up for three weeks and haven't told anyone. Something is going on, and I suspect it's stubbornness."
There was a sigh. "Fine. I'll call Kurt, you call Blaine."
"Um – I think you'd better take Blaine. He always seems a bit suspicious of my motives."
"I wonder why."
Wes smiled at that. "Shut up. Go find out what happened. I'll call Kurt, then call you back."
"Wes," David warned, "don't make it about you."
Wes scoffed. "When have you ever known me to do that?"
Kurt was still at work at 8pm on a Thursday night. That wasn't unusual for him, but usually if he worked late, especially if it was on or near a weekend, Blaine would sweep in to save him, date in hand. There would be chinese food, and wine and they'd chat and eat while Kurt sketched. Some of his best memories of their relationship came from them sitting on his desk at 2am, giggling and making out like they were in high school again.
He looked at the limp salad sitting on his desk and threw it into the trash with disgust.
He should probably go home. Home to Mercedes', he reminded himself. And then he felt empty again.
He liked staying with Mercedes. He loved her, after all. But the problem with having a tight-knit group of friends was that all of their homes held memories of their relationships – especially since the relationship he was trying not to think about had been going for just under a decade. Every room of every building in his life was full of Blaine. They were in Mercedes' living room toasting the new year, or tipsily making out like teenagers in the elevator of Kurt's work building after the Christmas party last December, or walking to their favorite pizza place, laughing (hand in hand) at whatever email they had gotten that day from Brittany, or Quinn, or Rachel. They were everywhere, and Kurt concluded, not for the first time, that New York – to him, at least - was forever going to be their city. A monument to an almost 10 year relationship that had ended with such speed, such finality, it was like a bad first date. It was just...over. Nothing but silence, without even the promise of a phone call.
Ironically, his phone rang then and he looked at the caller ID. Wes.
He didn't know about them yet. No one did, except Mercedes. Blaine had wanted to wait until after they'd both cooled down, and they'd worked out how to talk to one another rationally...tell their families and friends. Kurt sighed. He really didn't want to have a conversation pretending that everything was fine. He should really let it go to voicemail.
He picked up anyway.
"Were you ever going to tell us, Hummel, or were you going to just let David and I keep putting money away to buy you that unicorn for your wedding?" Wes' voice wasn't unkind, and there was that characteristic edge of humor, but it was definitely hurt.
"I'm sorry, Wes, I -"
"Hang on a second Kurt, I'm not done. You're going to have to indulge me for a moment. I did, after all, just find out that two of my best friends, who have been sickeningly in love with each other for over a decade, by the way, apparently decided that they didn't really like each other that much after all. And having been there to witness large swathes of that decade, let me tell you, Kurt, that it wasn't always easy. Do you have any idea how many times I heard the song Teenage Dream? My god, I had nightmares for months that Katy Perry was coming after me with a giant lollipop shaped like a hammer. And there was the strumming. My god, the strumming. So David and I risked our lives to get you two together. And it worked – even though you didn't tell me about it for a month, which was ridiculously mean. And then there was the making out! The only thing worse than having a roommate bring people back to your room all the time is having your two best friends living together next door. I saw WAY MORE than I needed to see, believe me." He didn't pause but his voice softened. "But I didn't mind – no one at Dalton did. Because it was so blindingly obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that you two were the freakin' love story. The genuine article. I mean, the two of you were the goddamn Romeo and Juliet of Dalton Academy."
"They both died," Kurt pointed out reasonably, trying to focus on the minute details of Wes' speech rather than the sentiment, so that he didn't cry.
"Maybe, but they were fucking epic first."
There was a pause.
Wes added, "And neither of them ever considered the idea that they should be apart."
"Let it go, please, Wes."
"He didn't tell you?"
"We're talking about Blaine. I believe the words 'Wes, this is none of your business and if you start nosing around I will end you' featured heavily in the subtext of the brief conversation."
"Maybe you should listen."
"Because that's always been my specialty."
"Wes, I have to go."
"Why, got a hot date?"
Even though the quip was without any malice, Kurt felt his temper escape his iron grip of control. He went a little bit insane. "Is that why you called, Wesley? To see if I was sleeping with someone new? Were you really concerned about me, or did you just want to tell me how the end of the best thing that ever happened to me is inconvenient in the scheme of your grand plan? Do you want to hear that I've moved on? Fine. Assume I'm sleeping with every guy in New York. And – why not? - some girls too. Make sure to tell Blaine that I'm whoring it up – maybe that'll make it easier for us both to move on. But what am I saying? – I'm being so selfish about the end of my ten year relationship. What can I do for you, Wes? How can I make this easier for you?"
There was a pause.
"I'm sorry," Wes said slowly after a moment. "That was thoughtless of me to say, and I apologize. And I'm sorry if you feel like I'm making this about me. It isn't. I know that. But I love you, and I love Blaine, and...I just... I don't see how it didn't work out. There was just... never any way that it wouldn't work out." Those last words had an edge of desperation to them, and Kurt felt like he was the father of a teenage boy trying to understand why his parents were splitting up.
"Yeah, well, it didn't. And that's that."
"I'm sorry. Really, though, do you want to talk about it? Other than to yell at me, I mean."
"You can yell at me some more if you want. That usually makes you feel better."
"I'm good," he lied. He took a deep breath and forced a smile in to his voice. "But enough of my drama – how many inches of water is Seattle under right now?"
"So, where are you guys? Like, has he moved out, or..." David trailed off.
Blaine sighed into the phone again. He seemed to spend a lot of time doing that recently. "He isn't living here. But we haven't talked, so his stuff is all still around. 'Cedes has a key, and she comes by and grabs stuff occasionally. I don't think he's been here, but I probably wouldn't know..." Blaine decided not to mention that he hadn't moved any of Kurt's stuff from where it had been left, and that he'd taken to sleeping in some of his boyf – ex-boyfriend's shirts. And it was probably best not to confess that he'd been sleeping on the couch or in the guest room because he couldn't stand to look at their empty bed, or the balcony where -enough. There was no need to seem pathetic, after all.
"What happened, man?"
"I – he – it just got bad. And then... we were done."
"You guys have fought before."
"Yes, we had. But not like that. It's too late."
"Why, what the hell did you say?"
"I really don't want to discuss it." He forced the memory of angry, hurtful words from his mind, and made his tone cheerful. "Anyway. Tell me more about that music theory class..."
"Blaine called," Mercedes mentioned casually as he walked in the front door later that night.
Kurt tried very hard not to care. "Really? I didn't get any missed calls."
Her voice was gentle. "I know. He said... he wasn't sure if you'd want to talk to him. So he called me."
"Oh." There was a lot of weight behind that word.
"He wanted me to warn you that Wes and David found out, so you'll probably be hearing from them pretty soon. He told me to tell you to forgive them, 'for they know not what they do'."
Kurt smiled despite himself, and Mercedes saw his eyes come alive for the first time in weeks. Then... the spark was gone. "Thanks. Wes called me already."
Mercedes couldn't stand the look on her best friend's face. "Oh, boo." She pulled him down next to her on the couch and gave him a big hug. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"It wasn't that bad. I shouted at him and then we chatted for a bit. I kind of miss him."
"No...Wes." A pause. "I do miss him, though." He unconsciously put a hand to his chest. "It just... it hurts, you know?"
"I know, baby. Why don't you call him, and you two can talk?"
"I can't. It was too – we're done. I can't – it's too much."
Mercedes saw the panic on his face at the thought, a mirror of the look that had appeared on Blaine's when she'd asked him the same question, and wondered for the thousandth time what they could have said to each other to make them both this unwilling to talk. She put on a huge, fake smile.
"Then there is only one question left to ask."
"Rocky road, or mint chocolate chip?"
Blaine sat in front of the baby grand piano late the next night with a pencil between his teeth. He hadn't been writing as much music as he used to, and he'd missed it. He missed singing, writing, and knowing when the perfect combination of notes to capture his mood had finally been found. A couple of days after Kurt had left – those words still sounded foreign in his mind, but he told himself he'd have to get used to them – he'd pulled out his old sheet music and lyric scribbles, years worth of ideas and chords in folders and notebooks. They were scattered all over the coffee table and piano, and he'd been sorting through them to find something he liked. Shortly into the process he'd come across the lyrics to a song that had made every muscle in his body tense up – it was one he'd written after a huge fight that he and Kurt had had during sophomore year of college.
It had really looked like the end for them for a short while– there had been screaming, and name calling, and they'd each said some truly terrible things. It was, until a few weeks ago, the worst fight that Blaine had ever had with anyone, and he was suddenly reminded of the way that long ago fight had started, with a simple comment about studying late, and a harmless quip back along the lines of 'If I were going to cheat on you, Blaine, I'd be a lot more subtle than that'.
He'd been kidding, and they'd both known it. But that hadn't stopped Blaine from pointing out that the way Kurt had flirted with the guy in his Literature class when they ran into him at the library last week hadn't exactly been subtle.
So Kurt had made it clear that Blaine was one to talk, because the way he flirted with the TA in his Criminology class was practically obscene.
Blaine had told him he was being ridiculous, and anyway, Michael was straight.
Kurt had yelled (they were at that point) that it was interesting he made that distinction, as it shouldn't matter whether Michael was straight or not if they were really in a relationship.
Blaine had (rather idiotically) waspishly responded that the term relationship was clearly subjective, as having a screaming match in the middle of Central Park was not his idea of a healthy date, and anyway, Kurt had spent the last week very determinedly telling him that he thought he should switch majors, without actually listening anything he said on the subject, which was also not a mark of an especially robust partnership.
Kurt had told Blaine that he was one to talk, he'd let himself get talked into downgrading his major from international law to something so ridiculously unimportant, that he actually hated, and if he was going to be such a hypocrite and coward than maybe it was time for them to stop pretending about a lot of other things too. Also, that guy at the restaurant the previous week had asked him for his number, and Kurt was beginning to seriously regret not giving it to him.
It was at that point that it had gotten ugly.
Twenty minutes later Blaine had fumed his way back to his dorm room and picked up his guitar, furious with Kurt and with anyone who had ever told them they would be, or were, a great couple. He'd snapped several strings that night, as he viciously plucked, trying to find the right chords to convey unadulterated rage. Blaine had been convinced, in the way that teenagers often are, that it was the end of the world, and he would never be happy again. Love's young dream was done. The end. Finito. All he had was his guitar. And that was fine. That was all he needed.
And then Kurt had shown up at his dorm room door at midnight. With an olive branch. An actual, real, goddamn olive branch. In New York. In the middle of winter. And the song had been left unfinished, tossed aside as all of the anger had seeped from his body in an instant.
Blaine looked at the lyrics his angry teenage self had scribbled and decided that, while they needed some work, he was definitely in a place where he could connect with them. He played a few notes experimentally on the piano, shook his head, and went to go find his guitar.
Sometimes you couldn't mess with the classics. And angsty teenage songs on a beat-up acoustic guitar were a classic.
An hour later the song was done, and the finished lyrics were lying on the coffee table, along with three weeks worth of newspapers and some fashion magazines that Blaine couldn't quite bring himself to look at just yet. He took a sip of the coffee he'd made himself and stared at the lyrics. He'd forgotten how cathartic writing could be.
He was interrupted in his thoughts by an insistent knock at the door. Blaine opened it and stared out in confusion.
"Are you going to stand there looking at me like I'm the ghost of hairgels past or are you going to let us in?" Wes demanded this with a grin, shoving both his and David's suitcases into Blaine's limp, astounded arms.
24 hours earlier:
"What are you doing tomorrow?"
David frowned at his phone. "Hello to you too, Wes. We really need to work on your mann-"
"Hello. What are you doing tomorrow?
"I have class in the evening. Why?"
"Tell them you won't be there."
"...No. I mean... what are you talking about?"
"Drastic action must be taken, my friend."
David did not like the way this was going at all. "Uh, Wes, I really don't think that whatever you are -"
"Yeah, I get it. You think I'm wrong. Thing is, I don't care. I'm getting into Chicago tomorrow at 5:30. Then you and I are getting on a flight to JFK."
David attempted to be reasonable. It was doomed from the start. "Listen, Wes, I can't just uproot my life for however long to run to New York and – what are we doing in New York, anyway?"
"We're going to fix this. Because I just talked to Mercedes and it is clear that our dear, darling friends need our help. And so you are going to go back to your apartment, pack enough clothing for a week, and tell school you are going to help your sick friend. As a medical professional – well, almost – it is my opinion that Blaine sounded a little ill on the phone. I'm worried. It is necessary for you to meet me at 5:30 at the airport, and not complain the entire way to New York that I am insane. It worked last time we did this, didn't it?"
"You mean the time when you tried to convince Blaine that Kurt wanted to go to the -"
"No, not that."
"Good, because as I recall, that ended with you almost getting arrested, and Blaine swearing he'd leave you there to rot."
"Jesus, everyone's a fucking encyclopedia of Wes' slight errors in judgment. But have you forgotten that it was us (mostly me) who got them together in the first place? At great personal risk, I might add."
"And they were so mad at you they didn't tell you it worked."
There was a pause. "Well, yeah, but I worked it out eventually."
"Once Austin told you he'd seen them making out in the auditorium."
"You know what? That is beside the point. The point is... you talked to Blaine. Does he sound happy?"
"Of course not."
"Well, Kurt yelled at me and told me he'd lost the best thing that had ever happened to him. And Mercedes is really upset. So I'm guessing he isn't doing so well either."
"That's to be expected. They just went through a terrible break up of a long relationship."
Wes was getting tired of this. "Listen... David. I am not going to drag you to New York against your will -"
"And that's an indication that you're growing as a person, I think -"
"But I am going to ask you one question, and I want you to think about it before you answer. And if you have your answer and you still don't want to come with me, I'll go by myself. But I'd like you there. He needs us. They need us."
"What's the question?"
"Do you honestly think that Blaine and Kurt don't belong together?"
There was a pregnant pause. Wes crossed his fingers.
David swore. "I'll see you at 5:30," he muttered before hanging up.
"Jesus Christ, Hamilton, who'd you have to do to get this place?" Wes whistled as he walked into the living room, taking in the piano and minimalist furniture.
Blaine raised an eyebrow. "Silly me, I've been paying by cheque. I should've researched the alternatives."
The apartment was gorgeous. It wasn't as expensive as it looked, but it was definitely more than a young lawyer (no matter how promising) and a struggling fashion designer would have been able to afford without a generous subsidy from Blaine's trust fund. They'd been living in a tiny apartment in the village until about eight months ago, when Blaine and Kurt had decided (well, Blaine had convinced Kurt) that there was no use in having an untapped supply of money if it couldn't buy them space for a piano and cut down their commute. So they'd moved to Tribeca, enjoying the benefits of more space, better neighbors, and a great chinese restaurant down the street. And then – enough. Wes and David were both looking at the sheet music scattered around the room, and Wes had taken a sheet of it and put it on the piano. He played a few notes out experimentally and Blaine stiffened, recognizing the introduction. Luckily, although Wes hadn't noticed, he stopped playing. "I haven't sight-read in ages. This one's old, isn't it?"
Blaine glanced at the title as he crossed to throw the suitcases in the corner, pretending he didn't know exactly which of his songs was sitting there. "Yeah. That's an old one."His and Kurt's song.
Wes waved the sheet around as he talked. "I liked it though. It's good. I assume this" - he gestured to the mess of papers - "means you're still playing...?"
"I hadn't been as much, but... yeah."
"We should totally jam, just like old times. It'd be so fun. What're you looking at, David?"
Blaine turned to see David sitting on the couch, studying a piece of paper intently. He looked at Blaine with interest. "When did you write this?"
"What?" Blaine asked, but he already knew what David had picked up. He'd left it lying there when he went to get the door. He glanced at it, buying time. "Oh, I rewrote most of it recently" - try just now - "but a few years ago? I don't know. Do you guys want a drink?"
Wes brightened at this idea, but David continued to look at Blaine thoughtfully, clearly impressed. "I'd like to hear you play it sometime. It looks good, man. But then again, you were always one hell of a songwriter."
Blaine opened his mouth to respond that the song wasn't finished (lie) so he couldn't play it (lie) but Wes interrupted. "I hate to ruin this bromance moment the two of you have going on, but I'm unbelievably jealous and I heard mention of a drink. So, putting Blaine's undeniable genius aside for a moment, can someone point me in the direction of some glasses and a bottle of scotch?"
When Wes finally surfaced on Saturday morning, Blaine and David were sitting on the couch with mugs of coffee, discussing the best chord progression for a something if you wanted to convey a something else. Wes hadn't used those terms in a while, so the specifics were kind of white noise to him.
"Is it lunchtime?" he asked David, who was in the middle of a sentence. His friend finished before turning to him with a scowl.
"We really do need to work on your manners. And yes, it is lunchtime."
"Excellent. Where are we going?"
Blaine rolled his eyes. "I do have food, you know."
"Yeah, but we're on vacation! We should live a little. Although if your cooking is still as good as it was -"
"It is, but you raise an interesting question." Blaine was thoughtful. "You're on vacation in the middle of March?"
"David's spring break -"
" -is next month. Why are you here?"
"Trying to get rid of us already?" David deflected with a grin. Wes was so proud.
Blaine looked slightly flustered, and immediately sounded apologetic. "You know that's not – you know I'm glad you guys came. I'm just – it's a little... unexpected. I mean, I tell you that Ku- what happened, and the next night you show up on my doorstep? I just don't want you guys to get... involved. I know it's... different, but I just – please don't try to do anything. Don't try to fix it. Please?"
Wes looked injured. "Why, Blaine, can't two best friends just fly across the country on a moment's notice when their other best friend is upset without there being some kind of ulterior motive?"
Blaine narrowed his eyes suspiciously, then seemed to give up and almost smiled. "Fine. Thanks, then, guys. I missed you two. I really did."
David went to hug him, then changed direction and stole the muffin that was sitting in front of his friend on the coffee table. "Good."
"So, lunch?" Wes asked hopefully, eyeing the muffin and coffee lustfully.
"There's a sandwich place that's pretty close. Or pizza. Or we could go uptown if you wanted to -"
"Did I see a chinese place down the street when we were arriving last night? Because fried rice sounds really good right now."
Blaine hesitated. "Yeah, but -"
"Bad food?" David surmised with a frown.
"No, it's good, but..."
"It's nothing. It's fine. It's just..." Blaine took a deep breath. " it's just...Kurt and I used to order in from there a lot." His voice got so quiet when he said Kurt's name that both David and Wes thought their hearts might break.
"I don't feel like chinese." Wes announced immediately. "I want pizza. Grease, and cheese -"
"No, guys, it's alright. I'm going to have to go there eventually. We might as well -"
"Pizza," David agreed quickly, ignoring Blaine's interjection entirely, "sounds good. Wes, where did you put my phone charger?"
"Exactly the same place I told you it was last night, if you paid even the slightest bit of attention -"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have imagined the way that you-"
Blaine stopped the pair right then. "Guys! Pizza?"
They all went to grab coats, and Blaine yelled from the hall. "And tonight, if you guys want, I can take you to this great bar in the village. There's usually a band playing, and they have really great -" he stopped as he walked back into the living room and saw them exchanging glances. "What is it?"
"It's – er – nothing," David hedged. "It's just... we... um... kinda made plans for dinner already."
Blaine shrugged. "Ok, no problem. We can go another time." He turned towards the front door, then something occurred to him, and he turned back, curious. "Who are you two meeting, though? I mean, how many people to you know in New -" His eyes got really big as he put two and two together - "...Oh."
"We can cancel," Wes offered, uncharacteristically unsure of himself, "if it makes you uncomfortable."
"Mercedes had texted me yesterday," David explained, "when she found out that we knew, and so when we decided to come -"
"But if it makes you feel awkward -"
Blaine forced another smile. He was doing that a lot more too. "Don't be stupid. You guys are friends with – it's fine." Blaine thought that if he ever used the word fine again, it would be too soon. "Tell 'Cedes I say hi. And tell – give K- give them my best." He turned away to grab his scarf and Wes raised an eyebrow at David, who shrugged. "Let's go get lunch."
Walking back to Blaine and – no, just Blaine's now- apartment after dinner that night, David and Wes had a conference of sorts. Seeing their friends apart had been tough, especially since they were both so anxious to avoid the subjects of both the break-up (most of all the reasons behind it), and the fact of the relationship in the first place.
When they'd first seen Blaine they'd been impressed by the way he seemed to be holding it together. Aside from the apartment being unusually messy for him, all appeared well, outwardly at least. And then they'd noticed that whenever Kurt's name came up in conversation (as it was bound to when so many of their shared memories contained the two as a pair), it seemed to take physical effort for him to either hear, or get the syllable out – as though the wound was still too raw to even say it. The first time, over a drink the night they'd arrived, David had unthinkingly slipped, and mentioned a duet the two had done shortly after Kurt transferred, before they were even a couple. It had been flirty, joyful, and had left every single person watching in awe of the electricity that came from their sexual tension. They'd felt like they were watching something private and intimate.
Blaine had looked like he'd been kicked in the stomach – but only for an instant, and then his face was back to smiling and laughing again. He'd always been a good actor. And while after that both Wes and David had consciously tried not to ambush him with memories from their time together... they'd been together for ten years. It hadn't been Blaine's life and Kurt's life for a long time. It had been theirs. In their city. With their memories. It was difficult to catch up with your best friend when ten years of his life was suddenly off-limits.
It was even tougher with Kurt at dinner, and while Mercedes (who they loved) was really good at coaxing laughter out of their friend, there was a perpetual air of sadness to him that they recognized. He would try to mention Blaine casually, but the effort seemed to cost him. Whatever differences Blaine and Kurt had, they were clearly both suffering.
"The silence is the problem." Wes asserted, adjusting his scarf. "If they talked, then everything would be fine."
"But they won't. They're still too mad at each other for whatever it was they said."
"Are they? Or are they mad for whatever the other made them say?"
"I hate it when you say things that make no sense, but I actually kind of understand. It makes me feel like we're equally crazy."
"What could they have said that was that bad?"
"I don't know. But Blaine seems to think it's unforgivable."
"Yeah, well, Blaine's an idiot."
"He's many things, but an idiot isn't one of them."
Wes relented. "Maybe not. But that doesn't change the fact that this stubbornness is absurd."
David hesitated. "Are you sure we should be interfering? I mean, it was a good idea to visit, but... what if we're wrong? What if the right thing to do is to let them suffer and move on?"
Wes opened his mouth to make a flippant retort, then shrugged. "I don't think that's the case. But if something happens that makes me believe that's true... then I guess we'll just have to deal."
"Really?" David's voice was doubtful.
Wes looked a little hurt. He stopped walking and turned to his friend.
"I'm not a monster, David. I'm not trying to get Kurt and Blaine back together for the sake of it. I think they belong together. Always have. But they're also stubborn as hell. It took them an absurdly long time to get together, so we had to help. And now for some reason they're broken - so broken that neither of them want to talk about it. I can't force them to get back together – and, before you ask, no, I wouldn't if I could. But they need to see each other and they need to talk. Because they'd never forgive themselves if the last words they spoke to each other were the ones they flung out in anger as one of them walked out the door."
Wes wasn't nakedly sincere that often, so when he was it always took David a moment to adjust. He looked kind of impressed. "So...they need to see each other. How're we gonna make that happen?"
Wes' trademark grin returned. "Well. I do happen to have a few brilliant ideas..."
The next night they went to the bar Blaine had suggested, and played a drinking game where Wes had to take a shot every time he commented on how hot a girl was. Mostly-sober Blaine, who only had to drink whenever he said he was "fine" (apparently they'd picked up on that too), and David, who had to drink whenever he called Wes an idiot, were enjoying the game immensely.
After about an hour Blaine had been tapped on the shoulder and a guy, the guitarist for the band that had been playing, had offered to buy him a drink, saying he'd seen him around there before. Wes and David tried very hard not to stare daggers, knowing deep down that they'd both back off of plan help-Kurt-and-Blaine-help-themselves (Wes was still working on the codename) if it looked like Blaine really was looking to move on (even though to their minds it was a bit soon – but then, ever would be a bit soon),
After a long pause, Blaine smiled and shook his head.
"I'm good. But thanks, really. Your guys' set was great." The guy (who was admittedly pretty good looking) nodded and left, and Wes and David glanced at each other, letting out small simultaneous sighs of relief.
"That was really bad manners," Wes complained after a moment. Blaine raised an eyebrow at him, and he explained. "You could have been here with one of us!"
Blaine snorted. "He probably thought the two of you were a couple."
"I thought gay guys were supposed to have a radar for that kind of thing?"
Blaine looked pointedly at Wes' arm, which was bracing his body (to avoid falling off the barstool as he leaned to talk to Blaine) by gripping David's bicep. Wes shrugged.
"If they don't understand our bromance that's their problem. David and I are special. But I still think he shouldn't have hit on you."
Blaine looked uncomfortable, and started back up the conversation they had been having earlier, the light in his eyes just as dim as before, and his two friends silently promised themselves that they'd do whatever it took to make that smile genuine again.
It took Wes and David four days to convince Blaine that his need to sing in public with his two oldest friends was something that could not be denied. Wes began the assault on Monday morning, when his friend was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, reading the New York Times. Blaine objected that he hadn't sung in public for ages, he didn't really like karaoke, and he wasn't really in the mood. Wes had replied that he had flown from Seattle to make sure Blaine had some fun, and he was not only going to go, he was going to like it. His friend was less than impressed with this argument, and went off to work insisting that he'd rather do something else. He suggested bathing in battery acid.
Tuesday's assault was more of the same, except this time Wes tried to play the I've-put-up-with-a-lot-of-crap-from-you-over-the-years-and-I-think-you-owe-me-this card. This only resulted in a half hour list of all the crap Blaine had had to deal with over the last eleven years. So, that didn't go entirely to plan.
On Wednesday Wes and David spent the day (while Blaine was working) scouting New York for ideas. Well, Wes went to scout. David went to supervise. When they returned at around 7, they let themselves in and immediately picked out the music floating down the hallway. Wes took a step forward, but David stopped him, recognizing the chords as those he'd asked Blaine about on their first night in New York. They listened to their friend sing the last few wrenching words of his song, and David looked at Wes with determination. "Kurt," he said, "needs to hear that. That, if nothing else, will get them talking."
"A goal..." Wes mused. "Challenge accepted."
Early on Thursday, at least as far as Wes was concerned, his phone rang. He reached groggily over for the phone from his sprawled position on the couch in the master bedroom (David had won the coin toss to see who got the bed. But Wes was pretty sure he had cheated). The one thing that neither Blaine nor David could ever fault him on was that when he said "Call me if you need me, my phone is always on," he really meant it. His phone was always on, and he would always pick up. But that didn't mean he had to be nice about it.
"Fuck off, 'Cedes, it's early..." he mumbled incoherently, having glanced at the caller ID.
"Boy, as I need your help I am going to generously ignore that."
"Whassat? Whatcha need?"
"Kurt is... not doing well."
He was awake immediately.
"What do you mean?" He demanded. On the other side of the room David stirred and put a pillow over his head. "What does 'not doing well' mean?"
"Oh, no – not, you know, I mean, not suicidal or anything... he's just – he... last night we were watching TV, and this movie channel was playing Christmas movies in March, for some reason I don't entirely understand. I mean, it's nine months until December. Where do they get off -"
"'Cedes. Focus." Wes was fairly certain he knew where this was going. Kurt and Blaine had always been slightly Christmas obsessed, and it all stemmed from...
"They sang Baby, It's Cold Outside. In the movie, I mean. And when he heard them... Wes, I thought he might just die right there. He got so pale and quiet, and then he went to bed, and -"
"It was one of their songs, Mercedes. They sang it together, before they were dating. It was their version of foreplay."
" I know... but they sang together a lot, Wes. Ten years. That's a lot of music. It's not going to be possible for them to avoid hearing every song they ever heard or sang."
"They won't have to, remember? I have a plan!"
"Oh, not this again."
"I'm telling you Mercedes, I -"
"Wesley, you know I love you, but you are an interfering little creep sometimes – and not in the good way."
"That was in no way logical."
"I knew I should have called David. Anyway, I love my boys, you know I do. Blaine's a wonderful guy, and a good friend, and I love him...but more importantly, he's always completely adored my best friend to the point of insane self-sacrifice. And I don't know what exactly happened to make them both think that they could never forgive each other, but I need to know something definitively before I decide what to do. And I want you to answer this question in one word. One word, Wes, or I won't help you with your ridiculous harebrained scheme. And despite my better judgement, I do want to help you, because I know you genuinely do mean well, despite all appearances to the contrary. So, in one word, Wes: As one of his oldest friends, do you think Blaine is still in love with Kurt – and I mean in the I-wish-he'd-never-left-sense, not the I-kind-of-miss-a-warm-body sense?"
"Oh, for -"
" Th -Yes."
"Alright. So they need to at least talk. Now, genius, I know that you're only here 'til Saturday, so meet me for lunch today – bring the intelligent twin too – and we'll chat. And by chat, I mean I will tell you how absurd your plan is, and then David and I will come up with a better one. I'll text you the address."
Wes blinked into his phone as it disconnected, and then threw a pillow at David, who groaned.
"Get up, idiot. We have plotting to do."
That night David started his own attack. "You know, we're leaving on Saturday."
Blaine didn't look up from the book he was reading. "I know. I'm taking you to the airport."
"I think we should go out tomorrow night."
"Sure. We can go to that place on -"
"I was thinking we should go to karaoke."
Blaine's eyes narrowed. "Wes?"
"No, I think we should go. It will be good for you – it'll be fun. Like old times. And I heard about this place earlier that has kind of an open mic night/karaoke thing, so you could play something of yours, and then we could sing something else..." he saw Blaine's skeptical face and cursed Wes' idiocy for about the ten millionth time in his life. This would be so much easier if Wes possessed more than the tact of a cabbage. "I just thought it might be fun – and it would help get Wes' confidence back for... you know... singing in public."
Blaine fixed him with a look that clearly said he wasn't buying it. "Wes has confidence issues? We are talking about the same person, right? Since when?"
David improvised. "Well, I think all that school and – you, know... partying and stuff has kind of been a cover for... missing the Dalton atmosphere. You know, brotherhood and all that. I mean, he had us, and the Warblers...and..." -he made a mental note to tell Wes of his psychological issues - "he told me on the way here that he really misses that. It upsets him a lot"
Blaine still looked entirely unconvinced. "He said that?"
David crossed his fingers behind his back. "Yep. So, how 'bout it? You can play me that new song!"
Blaine studied his face for signs of deception for a moment, then seemed to reach a decision. "You mean the old one. And no, it... isn't ready. But I'll go. And I'll play something."
David grinned. "Fantastic. It'll be great! And I still think you should play that song. Now, what should the three of us sing? All those in favor of Backstreet Boys?"
Kurt did not want to go out. He did not really want to go out ever, but he especially did not want to go out anytime soon. He did not want to dance, he did not want to smile... what he wanted to do was wallow. He wanted to watch lifetime movies and complain to Mercedes that the hero was unrealistic, because people in real life never did things like save someone's great-great-great grandmother's house from demolition by using his money (earned being a misunderstood CEO) to buy the land, so they could live there happily forever. And people in real life never rented out entire ice rinks to – okay, maybe that was within the realm of possibility. But nobody looked that good in the snow. And the snow in New York never looked that white or perfect. So there.
He knew he was being cynical and annoying, but he was finding it difficult to care.
You see, he'd had one of those horrible, perfect dreams the previous night where you wake up, and you would swear blind that it was real. He'd been with Blaine, and they'd been in high school, on Blaine's bed, giggling and kissing, and then they'd been in their apartment, watching something on TV, laughing at the way someone dressed, arguing about who was the better actor in whatever show they were watching, holding hands, and then leaning in for a quick peck on the cheek. Then they were in their bed, late at night, and Blaine's tongue was tracing lazy, delicious circles on his skin, and his hands were buried in his boyfriend's hair, and there was nothing better than this - oh god, just a little bit more – nothing hotter, nothing more special, nothing moreright. But it wasn't just sex, because by now they knew each others bodies better than they knew their own – where to touch, where to kiss, and exactly where and what would drive him crazy. And so they went a little crazy together.
And the room, the sheets, they smelled like them – like great sex, cologne, the spicy gum that Kurt was obsessed with, and the mint of Blaine's shower gel. And then they were waking up next to each other on a sunny morning, like the first time, but so much better because this was all theirs, this room, this morning, these lives. Every kiss was a thousand times better because it would never be the last, there was always more time, more coffee, more laughter, more of them...
And then Kurt had woken up. And he was alone, in a bed that wasn't theirs, in an apartment that wasn't home.
And he actually felt his heart break in two all over again.
The club was dimly lit, but it was, Blaine had to admit, one of the classier karaoke places he'd seen in the city. It was definitely not a dive bar, but it had the kind of casual atmosphere you couldn't really find anywhere with a wine list. There was a piano on the stage (clearly there was the option of live accompaniment) and a woman - who looked like she was probably a music graduate student somewhere in the city - was tinkering with the keys while she waited. Wes bounded over to a booth near the stage, where they'd have a perfect view of proceedings. He waved his friends over, and they settled down to look at the small crowd gathered. There looked to be about twenty other people spread out across the room – ten of those women were in a group, clearly on the prowl. They'd started eyeing the trio as soon as they came in sight, and Blaine realized quickly that it was going to be a long night. When David walked over to the emcee to give their names and the songs they'd chosen, and one of the women slapped him on the ass, Blaine amended his previous thought. It was going to be a really long night.
The first couple of songs did nothing to dissuade him of this notion.
Two of the slightly drunk women who had been ogling David stumbled through a rendition of 'Man, I feel Like a Woman' that made Blaine and Wes each order a drink. This was quickly followed by a shy girl, obviously forced to sing by her friend, who whispered the words to 'I Will Survive' like she was trying to convince herself more than them. Wes was up next though, and had become determined to 'bring the party up in here'. He took to the stage and with an energy Blaine had never quite been able to understand the source of, led the room in a rousing rendition ofWe Will Rock You, and Blaine leaned over to David mid-chorus with a sarcastic smile.
"Oh, yeah. The guy is clearly anxious in front of a crowd."
David shrugged and continued singing along. Blaine sipped his drink, smiling despite himself. He really loved his friends, and he did appreciate their obvious attempts to cheer him up.
Wes got a standing ovation, naturally, and bowed until the next singer pushed him offstage. He bounded back over to the table and clapped Blaine on the shoulder.
"Well, I was fantastic. You're up soon, friend! Got your first song ready?"
"You should know, you're the one who insisted I do it when I casually mentioned the possibility."
"C'mon. It's great. It's so... you."
"I'm not sure how to feel about that."
"You know what I mean – it's totally a look-at-me-I'm-deep song you'd write for -" Wes stopped. "It's, um, a song you'd write."
He really wasn't sure about the song. It wasn't a song he necessarily associated with... um... anyone in particular, but it would be easy to apply to... anyone. But it was fine. It was a good song. He couldn't avoid every love song for the rest of his life – um, until he got over this last relationship. That's what he'd meant. Until he got over it.
He was spared any further mental awkwardness, however, by a truly horrific wailing noise. Another of David's fans had gone up, and was attempting to belt the opening of Christina Aguilera's Beautiful. Blaine couldn't help the first thought that crossed his mind, entirely unbidden.
Kurt could sing that – god, he'd be great.
And then he wished he hadn't thought it. He wished that he had never heard that song. He especially wished he wasn't listening to the worst performance of it in human history. He wished that he wished he'd never heard Kurt's voice, but even hurting as much as he was he couldn't quite make himself.
Thankfully, the woman eventually stumbled off the stage – to the relief of everyone involved.
The next guy that got up was clearly with his coworkers, and although shy at first, did a pretty decent cover of My Girl.
Then Blaine was up. Wes (who had been responding to text messages with increasing regularity) and David pushed him out of the booth as though he was trying to get out of performing (which he hadn't – he was, despite the occasional horror or mental slip, enjoying himself), and David whispered to him as he made his way to the stage. "Just so you know, I really think you should try out that new song."
Blaine just gave him a look to indicate his determination to the contrary, and went up to the stage. He approached the accompanist and smiled.
"Do you know if there's an acoustic guitar around here, by any chance?"
She smiled – Blaine was the first singer all night who had showed any kind of respect for her as a person rather than a human stereo system. "There should be one over there. There's always some around on open mic nights."
"You're welcome." She wondered if this cute, nice guy was single, then quickly dismissed the thought and went to go watch, paying attention for a change.
He found a guitar and stool, brought them to the mic, and grinned at the audience. He'd missed this. "Hi, I'm Blaine. I'm going to be singing Secret Smile, by Semisonic, and -"
He stopped breathing. He was fairly certain (even though at this point nothing felt certain at all) that his heart had stopped beating.
He was going to murder Wes and David.
Actually, literally murder them.
They'd been so understanding when he casually suggested that they take the master bedroom, as one of them could take the couch in there and it would be more convenient. He'd take the guest bedroom. They'd not even blinked whenever he found Kurt's name at the end of a sentence he was completing and abruptly changed the subject. He'd been grateful. Grateful. But he'd forgotten that this was Wes and David. And they were interfering, conniving little shits.
And he was going to kill them.
Because his eyes had drifted over to the door and he'd suddenly realized why Wes had been texting, and why his two best friends had been so insistent about going out to this particular club. And it had nothing to do with Wes' confidence, or their need to spend time together before they left.
The evil, sadistic, interfering bastards.
Kurt and Mercedes were standing by the door.
And at almost the moment he'd seen Kurt, Kurt had seen him.
And seeing Kurt's face react in the way that it did to seeing him, Blaine, was even worse than missing, or hoping, or sleeping alone.
He'd probably spent a total of months just looking into those blue eyes over the years, and he had never seen that look before. It was anger and resentment, sadness and memory, fear and the instinct to run away and never look back (Don't ever look back... oh, fuck).
Blaine knew this because he was fairly certain his own eyes were saying the same thing. The fear was the worst part to see. Because now they knew what they could say – what they'd – he'd –
He was angry. He was angry with Kurt, angry with himself, and angry with every single person he had ever met, because they had all contributed to get him to this place and time. He was blindingly furious with Wes and David, and when he reluctantly broke his torturous, mesmerizing eye contact with Kurt after a few seconds, he flicked his eyes over to their table. David was watching him very carefully, like he was trying to read his mind. Wes was looking back and forth between Blaine and Kurt like there was some kind of invisible tennis match going on.
Like it was a game.
Wes thought this was a fucking game, and David saw him as an experiment. He'd known they were interfering, but he'd never doubted for a second that they loved him and, in their odd way, wanted the best.
But this... this was something else.
And as he placed all of his concentration on not yelling, breaking down, or putting on a display of violence that would put drunken brawlers everywhere to shame, he knew exactly what he was going to do. He was going to sing. He didn't want to, but the anger coursing through him wasn't giving him a choice. He needed to.
It just sucked that David would get to hear that song after all.
Kurt hated Mercedes. Mercedes was an evil bitch.
When he'd walked into the club he'd been in a good mood – or as close to a good mood as he felt he was capable of these days. It was Friday night, he didn't have to work, and she had finally convinced him that they needed to blow off some steam – and she knew exactly the place.
He'd walked into the room and looked around at the seats, admiring the layout of the gradually filling club. He'd been thinking about his song choices, and whether he should do something a little more upbeat. It would probably be better to -
"Hi, I'm Blaine. I'm -"
At the sound of that name (well, really that first syllable, he'd known before he heard the name) all of the blood rushed from everywhere in his body to his chest.
And then hazel eyes were on his, like they'd been magnetically drawn there somehow, and Kurt was trying so very hard not to remember. And in his efforts not to remember he landed on one, coherent, almost safe thought.
He hated Mercedes. Mercedes was an evil bitch.
And then Blaine started to sing and no thought was safe anymore.