One, two, three - step and sway
Title: One, two, three – step and sway
Spoilers: None whatsoever. I started this after 'A Very Glee Christmas' and by the time it got finished most of it (everything) got jossed – so I would say it's an AU?
Word Count: ~ 15,000
Summary: Kurt needs this to work more than anything, so he tries a new approach. A slow, careful, nerve-wracking and exhausting approach. Snippets from the daily life of Kurt and Blaine at Dalton and how they're trying to balance on the fine line between friends and something more.
A/N: This is the story that would never die, seriously. I had the general idea for it back when I was busy with my exams and when I finally sat down to write a quick draft, it just didn't want to stop. Of course RL got in the way and I couldn't finish it before the hiatus – you know, the first one – and Glee went in a completely different direction. So, lets say that this is my take on how things could have turned out for our boys.
A/N2: Expect panicky!Kurt, sick!Blaine, stupid teenage hormones, lots of nerdy references and dubious amounts of snow – I know how to time things, you know; just when everyone's forgotten about winter - ha. Also I still firmly believe that Dalton is a boarding school – or at least that Kurt was boarding during the week and went home for the weekends. Makes more sense to me, than driving four hours a day from Lima to Westerville and back. Just. Roll with me here.
Sometimes Kurt wonders when it became this easy to just be around Blaine all the time.
He tries to pinpoint the exact moment they fell into this rhythm, this simple ease of living, that makes Kurt's inner cynic scratch its head in dismay. It's nothing like he's ever encountered before – at least, not with a boy – and that makes him hyperaware of the little things. There are things he knows wouldn't matter much to anyone else, but that leave him with a funny feeling in his stomach that he can't quite label just yet: waiting for each other at breakfast; sharing notes after Chemistry; singing side by side at Warblers practice; watching movies way past curfew. Kurt knows these things should be simple; after all, he's seen Finn and Rachel share sickeningly cute meals together, seen the way Quinn leans into Sam's side when they're sitting next to each other – hell, he'd even noticed Brittany and Santana holding hands when they thought nobody was looking. It's effortless and easy, but not something that happens to him.
He knows it's partly his fault; he messed it up before, wanted too much too soon, and blindly overlooked every sign that screamed at him to stop. Finn offered him his friendship and Kurt pushed desperately until Finn broke, unintentionally breaking Kurt a little, too. He pushed Karofsky to get a reaction, to get it over with one way or another, and it had backfired in the worst and most clichéd way possible. 'Courage,' apparently, has nothing to do with being reckless and everything with not knowing when to stop.
Then there's Blaine. Blaine, who offers him the last croissant at breakfast, fingers lingering just a second too long on Kurt's hand; Blaine, who draws obscene stick figures on his Chemistry notes of Mrs. Green's hairy legs and "the little gnomes that live inside them, I swear, Kurt"; Blaine, who buys him coffee after practice when Kurt just wants to kick Wes for making them sing Jason Mraz for the tenth time in a week; Blaine, who listens when Kurt breaks down every now and then during their movie nights because he just misses his friends, and his old life, so much, and who doesn't say a word about the wet patches Kurt leaves on his pillow.
Blaine, who somehow makes his life easier without even trying.
It dawns on him pretty quickly that he can't let this – whatever this is – go up in flames like everything he's touched had before. He can't risk losing Blaine's friendship over something that he could easily be imagining anyway, and especially not because of some stupid teenage hormones that may or may not be right. There'll be no more elaborate plans, no daydreaming about possibilities, and no thinking about hidden meanings; those all led to complete and utter disasters in the past, and the consequences were enough of a slap in the face that Kurt knew to be more careful about using them again. Kurt wants comfortable, easy and nice too much, if only to see whether he is actually capable of these at all.
So, after their little duet together, Kurt decides to just wait it out. He genuinely doesn't know what the right move would be in a situation like this, anyway. He's never had guys singing with (or for) him before, and looking at him and touching him without fear that he's going to jump them at any moment. If – and this is the most hypothetical if there is – this is going somewhere, he will leave it up to Blaine.
(Even if it means that he has to hide the way his hands begin to shake when Blaine stands just a tad bit too closely behind him, the way his heart seems to skip a beat every time Blaine accidentally brushes his hand against his legs; and okay, maybe Kurt messes up that damn two-step dance because Blaine smiles at him – but Kurt's not going to rush it.)
The last evening of Christmas break finds Kurt in the dining hall back at Dalton. He drove back early to prepare for classes; there's no way he's going to mess up his Calculus test again, and he really needs his beauty sleep before he can face the Warblers for another round of So You Want To Be In A Boys A Cappella Group 101. These are the reasons he tells himself, but really, if he had to spend one more second with mopey Finn and his 'but I AM right, right? We weren't going out at the time and why did it have to be Puck?' rants at home, he was going to strangle him with his stupid XBox cables.
Kurt thought he handled the situation quite well, all things considered. They were still new to this being brothers stuff, but he'd offered what advice he could. He'd listened: once, twice, for the umpteenth time, about how Rachel just can't take a hint, that Finn needed more time to think, that he just loved her so much, you know. Then – after Finn had a little too much leftover eggnog after Christmas and definitely too much champagne at Artie's New Year's party,– 'loved' quickly turned into 'I love her so much, I'm just gonna call her and apologize,' which then almost immediately switched into 'I'm gonna beat Puck into a pile of– oh, you're here? Never mind, where are my car keys?' after which he mostly just passed out, snoring and drooling on a couch. Kurt then switched on his own phone and told a desperate Rachel to maybe wait one more day with the 'I'm still sorry' cookies.
It was tiring as hell, but at least he didn't have time to dwell on what Blaine might be doing at every given moment – not that he didn't already know. Blaine called him every other night, even if he was half-dead from too many smelly aunt hugs and screaming cousins, or half-drunk at his brother's New Year's party. Kurt had also managed to resist the urge to just drive to King's Island and – to put it mildly – stalk him. That wouldn't go well with his newfound resolution – new and improved Kurt is a good friend, after all.
And apparently he's a bit hopeful, too, because he's been sitting at a table near the entrance of the dining hall for what feels like hours. At first he really is just waiting for Blaine to show up like he'd texted earlier that day, only half-heartedly glancing over his Calculus notes, but after Kurt runs into a few guys from his class, he very quickly comes to the horrifying realization that he's nowhere near as prepared for test as he'd hoped. Suddenly, his 'perfectly fine' notes start to make no sense at all, whatsoever. He starts to get little worried.
So naturally, by the time Blaine flops down in a chair across from him, Kurt is too freaked out to be able to behave like a normal human being. He glances up and sighs, gesturing helplessly at the stacks of paper around him.
"I'm a moron," he announces, and Blaine blinks at him for a moment before breaking into a smile.
"Well, hello to you too, Kurt. I had a lovely Christmas, thanks for asking." Blaine is still grinning at him, and Kurt forgets how to breathe for a second. He has to get used to being around Blaine once again, and not let stupid, unnecessarily overcomplicating Kurt take over.
Right. "I'm sorry. How was–"
"I was kidding," Blaine says, grinning. "Besides, we talked about it, remember? Uncle Henry throwing up on my sister's new dollhouse will be one of our family's most cherished stories." Blaine tries to wiggle his way out of his coat while simultaneously glancing at the notes sprawled around Kurt.
"More like you are going to fail so hard Kurt Hummel–ulus," he mutters as he gently lays his throbbing head on the table. He hears a slight chuckle and then papers rustling as Blaine picks his notes up and hums over them for a minute.
"Have you eaten anything?" Blaine asks. Kurt just groans and turns his head to the side, glancing at Dalton's 'Welcome Back' dessert special. He distinctly remembers taking it from its tray with the intention of never ever touching it again. It appears to be some kind of buttery pastry stuffed with an enormous amount of gooey chocolate substitute, and there is really no way he's eating this; he feels his pores protesting with just a lookat the thing.
"Oh, I see you've met Monsieur Chocolate Overkill," Blaine says, and Kurt has to smile at the horrible French accent. He lifts his head slowly and really looks at Blaine for the first time since he arrived. And if his weary mind admires the way Blaine's hair – which appears to have less product in it than usual – falls across his forehead, or the fact that his nose and ears are bright red from the cold outside – well, he can't really help it.
"Hi," Kurt says as he finally returns Blaine's smile, feeling a bit more like himself and less like an utter basketcase.
"Hi back," Blaine says, leaning back against his chair, smile never leaving his face. "So now that I've got your attention– what's going on?"
"It's nothing," Kurt sighs as he starts to clean up the mess around him. "I just made the mistake of actually talking to people before a test, and I tend to forget that this is not Idiot Town, where I get an A-plus if I can put numbers together. But don't worry about it," Kurt hastens to add. "Minor nervous breakdowns are my speciality."
Then, to his absolute bewilderment, his stomach churns, loudly. Twice "Oh, for the love of– "
"And I stand by my earlier question: have you eaten anything?" Blaine asks, looking at him now with more concern than bemusement, his brows knitting together.
"You really shouldn't do that; it's going to make your face get premature wrinkles." Blaine rolls his eyes and Kurt shrugs. "I wanted ice cream, but, as it turns out Dalton is not fond of frozen stuff when it's already freezing outside, so – where are you going?"
"We are getting ice cream," Blaine says matter-of-factly, and he's already shrugging his coat back on, gesturing at Kurt to do the same. "I'm not sure it's the appropriate meal choice for dinner, but, with your impending doom in Calculus tomorrow, we're living on the edge."
Kurt is still gaping at him, so he stops for a moment and adds carefully, "Besides, there's something awesome I wanted to show you. Come on."
Kurt really should be worried about the fact that it's way past curfew, or that he's starting to forget about his imminent test-failure, but he really can't give a damn because Blaine takes his hand and practically drags him through the dining hall and out the door. Kurt is too befuddled to comprehend the way Blaine charms their way out of the school in a matter of seconds – although he does remember words along the lines of 'I left something in my car '– but who is he to question Blaine Anderson's magical persuasion powers, when he himself can't seem to stop himself from falling under Blaine's spell.
As soon as they're outside, Blaine beams back at him with 'I told you so'written all over his face (still not letting go of his hand), but before Kurt has time to roll his eyes, he feels his shoes slip on the icy surface. He tries to warn Blaine, but the other boy seems to be having some difficulty standing upright as well; Kurt feels them losing their footing before Blaine even has the time to squeak a strangled "Wha– "
And of course they end up flat on their asses, blinking at each other.
'Well, that was graceful," Kurt groans, simultaneously attempting to check his lower half for possible bruises and saving his jeans from total destruction. He tries to glare at Blaine for more dramatic effect, but Blaine is laughing now – hysterically, tears in his eyes as he leans into Kurt's side in an attempt to pull himself and Kurt up off the ground.
"Sorry, so– sorry!"
"Why– Stop laughi–I had these jeans cleaned yesterday!"
Kurt is failing miserably at being annoyed; and Blaine's laugh is clearly contagious, because Kurt soon feels a stupid, goofy smile tugging at the edge of his lips when he finally takes Blaine's offered hand and stands up, wobbling just a bit. Blaine is all sparkly, bundled-up energy and bubbling laughter in front of him, and Kurt has to remind himself for a second that this is the same boy he met not three months ago.
"I'm not going anywhere with you ever again, period," Kurt adds just for good measure, although he's already tugging Blaine along, grinning like a lunatic. At least now he has an excuse for this sudden need for physical contact, seeing as they can't walk straight without clinging to each other – from the slippery road or from the way they just can't stop laughing, he's not entirely sure. Blaine's holding his hand a bit more tightly than before, anyway.
"I swear it wasn't this bad when I got here," Blaine manages in between giggles.
"I hope this was the only awesome thing you had planned for us tonight, because we should go back for helmets or something to avoid possible concussions otherwise," Kurt states.
Blaine shakes his head slightly, looking up at the sky wearily as Kurt maneuvers them over a lump of snow. "I'm pretty sure it's too late for that."
They make – slide, tumble and trip, really – their way a few blocks down the road to a 7-Eleven with a grumpy-looking, twenty-something girl inside who has a very veryunfortunate haircut. "No, honey, not everyone can pull off the Cleopatra look and the two blonde streaks in the front don't really help either," Kurt whispers to Blaine.
The other boy hides his grin in his scarf.
It's Blaine who pulls himself together enough to ask as nicely as he can if they could maybe, please, get some ice cream. The girl, (Hi, my name's Shannon,) chews her gum at them for a moment, probably taking in the sight before her – Blaine visibly shaking from repressed laughter, Kurt still half-hanging off of him and practically gaping at that hair – and finally she points at the freezer behind them. Her blonde streaks bounce forward, and Kurt dies a little inside.
He must have made some kind of a noise, because Blaine is hastily throwing money on the counter and turning them around, thankfully – well, maybe not for her – which stops Kurt from saying anything. He leans in close, soclose to Kurt's ear and whispers, "I think it's better if she believes we're mental patients rather than robbers," and Kurt feels kind of lightheaded and silly-happy all at the same time, because this night is just surreal enough to not be actually happening. Then he feels something cold in his left hand, and there are Blaine's fingers around his right again as they step outside into the frozen January air.
Kurt's pretty sure there are things about this whole situation that should leave him self-conscious and perplexed; things that are not going according to his plan of playing it cool. He should be more aware of the fact that Blaine doesn't seem to be able to let go of his hand, or that he wants the road back to school to loop forever so they can stay like this even for a minute longer, and 'my God, have you seen her hair?' when suddenly Blaine stops dead in his tracks, looking over Kurt's shoulder as his face lights up even more.
"Turn around," Blaine murmurs as he slowly releases Kurt's hand, and Kurt pretends that it isn't painfully obvious how his own fingers automatically reach back of their own accord. Instead, he lets Blaine spin him around, and follows his hand pointing up, up, and right at a nearby house's second floor balcony. There, amidst a million blinking Christmas lights stands a very confused-looking snowman – a snowman that got its hands on a Mastercard apparently, if the a crimson silk scarf wrapped around its neck and the matching, ridiculously expensive looking hat on its head are any indication.
Kurt has about two seconds to wonder how the hell it even got up there in the first place before Blaine steps in closer behind him and the question gets stuck in his throat; Kurt feels Blaine's words vibrate on the back of his neck before he even hears them.
"Thought you might like it," he says, and Kurt's eyes flutter closed; he can't pretend to ignore Blaine's hot breath against his skin. He sucks in a shaky breath and tries not to think about leaning back against the warm weight of Blaine's body.
"What a waste." His voice comes out more steadily than he'd expected, even though he feels lightyears away from it. "I can rock the "Winter Wonderland" look better than him."
There's a last puff of breath against his hair, a smile he can almost feel, before Blaine is moving away a bit and stepping next to him. Kurt counts to five before he opens his eyes again.
He waits for the inevitable awkwardness to descend on them, on him, but it never comes. They just stand there side by side looking up at this uncanny creature, so out of place on the small balcony, its scarf swaying in the cold winter breeze.
"I don't usually take people snowman-watching," Blaine says as he bumps their shoulders gently together to get them moving again. Kurt falls into step beside him. "In case you were wondering."
"Should I feel special then?"
Blaine nods his head in almost-believable seriousness. "You really should. It was either this or watching an empty plastic bag floating around in the wind, and that is so 1999." There's a slow smile lingering in the corner of his mouth that does unbearably pleasant things to the fluttery feeling in Kurt's stomach. He's also certain that his careful plans are all going to hell now, because he never wants the feeling to go away.
"You have to admit, though," Blaine says as they reach the gates of Dalton, a goofy grin creeping back onto his face. "This was kind of awesome."
Kurt lets the forgotten ice cream melt in its container after they finally get back to their rooms and wave their goodbyes. He dreams about tangled scarves and a disarray of Christmas lights blinking around two frozen figures as it gradually gets warmer and warmer until they melt away.
When he wakes up in the middle of the night, sweating under heavy blankets, he can't recall for a moment why he wanted 'easy' so much to begin with, since he's been clearly doomed from the start.
Kurt's not a big fan of self-deprecation and insincere modesty. He just thinks it's plain stupid to not appreciate the little things that make him who he is, the things that make him unique, especially after he's spent so much time figuring them out and taking so much flak from people who think he's worse for being different.
Therefore, he knows he's good at a lot of things. He can take the most unfortunate outfit and turn it into something that looks like it just popped out of Vogue Italia. He can cook killer soups out of ingredients that normally wouldn't work well together. He can sing like a guy, like a girl, like an angel or the devil himself. Really, he can do somany things.
What he can't do, though, is figure out what the hell to do with Blaine after their incredible impromptu night out that left Kurt with too much hope for his own good. How he can come out of this situation with his sanity (mostly) intact is beyond him, and he hasn't yet seen a pamphlet designed around 'almost dates.'
He knows what he would like to do of course, but jumping Blaine in the middle of a rehearsal would be pushing his luck, so he keeps quiet and just observes. They've been at this weird little dance for almost two weeks now; Kurt keeps track of the times Blaine saves him a chair at lunch, drapes an arm around his shoulder when they're walking side by side, flashes him a smile over a joke that no one else catches. If he's honest, it's really not that different from before – and why should it be, when nothing happened to suggest otherwise?
Except that it did, because Blaine took him out freaking snowman-watching, of all things, and how is this not different, again?
This train of thought usually leads to something resembling a panic attack, so Kurt tells himself over and over again to get himself together and stick to the plan; the plan that makes sense and is reasonable enough to actually work. The 'freaking out' part definitely won't.
This resolution finds Kurt in front of his computer on a Thursday afternoon, scanning through pages and pages of Star Wars forums with increasing unease for his state of mind.
It started innocently enough. They'd been studying for a History exam in Blaine's room, silently taking notes and grunting in unison when they got to something particularly boring or just plain disgusting, because really – Kurt doesn't want to know all the little details of the 1348 bubonic plague, and he would be grateful if the book wouldn't go into further details about how the sufferers' skin would blacken due to subepidermal hemorrhages and the extremities would darken with gangrene and ew.
"I don't get this," Kurt sighs, scrunching up his nose in disgust. "Did the author have some kind of strange fascination with horribly painful deaths? I honestly can't imagine how this helps me understand the mechanics of the economic and monetary reforms of the fourteenth century. Oh, come on–" he snaps as his pen slips from his book and rolls under Blaine's bed. He slides off of it and searches for the pen blindly, cursing under his breath when his fingers encounter dust bunnies.
"Maybe his career as an epidemiologist derailed, and he decided that it would be wise to introduce the ignorant youth to a whole new level of gross," Blaine suggests. He's sitting at his desk, balancing his copy of the Horrifying History of the Medieval Times on his lap. He laughs shakily. "Did you know that, and I quote, 'as the disease progresses, your sputum becomes free-flowing and bright red'? I'm so happy to be informed about all these little details."
"And I'm so glad you were thoughtful enough to share it with me," Kurt says, glaring at Blaine as his hand still gropes after his pen. "You should be given an award for the amount of dust you manage to keep in here. I'm surprised you haven't caught some vile disease yourself from all this mess." Beat. "–Blaine?"
"What is this?" Kurt pulls out the tiny, oddly shaped object his fingers closed upon under one layer of dust. It looks kind of like two grey parasols mating; he holds it out in one hand, blowing the dust off carefully. Blaine stares at the thing for a moment, puzzled, but then the look on his face slowly changes to something akin to joy and he makes a sound that Kurt would not like to define as a squeal, because no, Blaine Anderson does not squeal. Blaine drops his book on the floor and scoots over to where Kurt's kneeling, his expression now bewildered. What?
"I thought I'd lost it!" Blaine takes the thing from Kurt's palm cautiously, turning it around in his hands, fascination clear on his face. Kurt tilts his head to the side a bit and raises an eyebrow.
"Care to enlighten me?" he asks, because he's definitely in need of some explanation as to why a piece of plastic deserves this much attention. Blaine looks at him with big doe eyes, shock written all over his face.
"You don't know–?" Blaine starts, unsure, lifting it up so that Kurt can get a better look at it; when Kurt only gives him a shrug he adds: "Star Wars?"
"Okay," Kurt says slowly. "I think I'm going to need a little more than that."
"TIE-Fight– I mean, spaceships?" A pause and then, "Don't tell me you've never seen Star Wars!"
His voice goes a bit wobbly in the end; Kurt can't decide if Blaine is upset or just surprised, and he thinks it's better because the confusion means he has no reason to feel stupid and bite back a bitchy retort about floating spacejunk movies.
"Well, I wouldn't say never – I sort-of watched it with Finn when he and Carole moved in." It comes out more like a question, because by 'sort-of' he means Finn watched it while Kurt bitched about Finn's stuff lying all over the floor 'and would you at least try to put your shirts in a drawer?'
"And you don't remember these?"
Kurt wracks his brain for possible snippets of information, but he finds almost nothing useful. He recalls Harrison Ford looking freakishly young and that Carrie Fisher's hair resembled two absurd-looking shells plastered to the sides of her head. He assumes these aren't the things Blaine is looking for and shrugs again.
"I don't know– I mean, I remember the little wrinkly dwarf thingy getting the ship out of the swamp?" Kurt tries, wincing at the sight of Blaine gaping back at him.
"The little– oh, you're in for a treat. Thursday afternoon; you, me and dwarf thingy." Blaine shakes his head in disbelief and walks back to his desk, picking up his book from the floor.
"Hey, I'm not the one keeping toy spaceships under my bed," Kurt calls after him, diving back under Blaine's bed and finallygetting hold of his missing pen.
"'It's a TIE-Fighter and it's not a toy, it's a collector's item," Blaine mumbles, and when Kurt turns back to him, he's blushing furiously.
"Nothing," Blaine says to his book, flipping the page with a little more force than necessary. Kurt smiles smugly and flops back down on Blaine's bed, opening his book once again.
"Took me three hours to assemble," Blaine mutters after a while, more to himself than to Kurt, but there's something off in his tone and Kurt feels terrible for a second, because who is he to judge what Blaine likes? He spent a great deal of his childhood playing with Power Rangers and My Little Ponies, after all, and he'd still be upset if someone were to throw them out without notice. But, before he can say anything, Blaine's roommate comes in mentioning something about the ridiculously disturbing images in their books and the conversation quickly turns lighter.
Nevertheless, Kurt is determined to make things right.
So, by Thursday, he's read a dozen articles about the impact Star Wars had on moviemaking technology, scanned through page after page of adoration for the music, wrote down the names of every major character, made a list of the more frequently-mentioned quotes, and came across forums bashing the first three movies. Because there are six of them, apparently, and he really doesn't know which ones Blaine was talking about, but, judging from the comments, he hopes it was the original trilogy.
When Blaine knocks on his door to ask if he's ready to start, he has ten pages of Star Wars stuff scribbled all over his notebooks and only two pages for his English assignment that's due on Friday, because he totally didn't go overboard with this, not at all.
He ends up lying on his stomach on Blaine's bed, head propped up on his hands, while Blaine sits on the floor with his notebook in his lap so he can pause the movie and explain stuff every now and then, which happens more often than not.
This would have driven Kurt nuts if he hadn't been otherwise preoccupied with his own problems.
Concentrating on a movie he doesn't really understand would have been hard even if the boy he really likes hadn't been sitting only a few inches in front of him, (who smells really nice) and even if he hadn't done such meticulous research, he would be in so much trouble. The first ten minutes slip from his mind entirely; instead, he spends this time admiring the way Blaine's hair brushes against the nape of his neck and the way his glasses reflect the blues and greens of the screen, and how his muscles flex on his arm when he reaches back to snag the Diet Coke from Kurt's hand. Hey.
Blaine seems oblivious to Kurt's inner turmoil. He gets into the movie from the opening credits like he's seeing it for the very first time. When he chimes in with the characters' names every now and then, he does so in a hushed tone, as if they were actually sitting in a movie theater rather than alone in his dorm room.
Kurt finds himself suppressing a smile. Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all.
This side of Blaine intrigues him more than he'd like to admit; comfortable and carefree, focused but entirely relaxed at the same time. He's seen him like this only a few times before, albeit briefly: it happens sometimes when Blaine sings, or doodles notes on a piece of paper, humming along absentmindedly. He makes a mental note that Star Wars seems to have the same effect on him, as Blaine recites the dialogue between Luke and Obi-Wan before it actually happens.
They're about an hour in when they get to the Death Star scene, and they watch Darth Vader kill Obi-Wan. Kurt frowns and leans forward a bit, not wanting to bother Blaine, but he's suddenly curious.
"So, is this the part where Wrinkly Thingy takes over Luke's training, right?" Kurt asks.
"Please stop calling Yoda 'Wrinkly Thingy,'" Blaine says, hanging his head in defeat. "And no; he first appears in The Empire Strikes Back."
"Wait, Wrinkly Thi– Yoda? You mean he isn't even inthis movie?"
"No. What's your fascination with him, anyway?"
"I don't have– he talks funny..."
"Talk like him then, maybe I should," Blaine says in all seriousness, and Kurt gapes back at him, astonished.
"How the hell did you do that?"
"Much practice it takes. Help you survive high school, it will not. For sure that is."
"Ouch," Kurt adds, as the image of fourteen-year-old Blaine on his first day of high school pops up in his head – tinier, with crazy hair and glasses, talking like an alien.
"Ouch, indeed," Blaine agrees, but doesn't seem too upset about it. "Let's just say that not everyone appreciates it if you talk like you've been dropped on your head one too many times." He shrugs. "Figures."
"Their loss, it is," Kurt tries, and Blaine smiles a little. Kurt doesn't push it further and they fall back to easy silence, broken only by Blaine's narrative every once in a while.
They're at the scene where Han is packing his reward in his ship, planning to leave the Rebels behind. Luke, clearly disappointed by his friend's departure, dismisses Han's offer to leave with him. Luke starts to walk away and Han calls after him: 'Hey, Luke... may the Force be with you!'
As they watch Luke disappear, the quote clicks into place in Kurt's mind, and he suddenly remembers something he's read on one of the weirder forums. He decides that it's time to put his research to good use; he leans forward a bit and says quietly against Blaine's left ear, "Sit vis vobiscum."
There's a moment of stunned silence while Blaine does the math – and Kurt really hopes that two years of studying Latin on Blaine's part might help him figure out what he just said – and then Blaine turns around so fast that the notebook almost falls from his grip and Kurt has to duck his head a bit so they don't crash together. Kurt pulls a face, nervously, "I think?" he adds, as Blaine continues to stare at him wide-eyed.
"That's. Fucking. Brilliant," Blaine says, pressing every word, and he smiles at Kurt, bright and beautiful, and if Kurt had known that it only took a stupid phrase from an old movie in Latin to make Blaine smile like that, he would have memorized the whole script in a heartbeat. Kurt doesn't have time to give himself a mental pat on the back, though, because Blaine is still looking at him, and he's still so close that Kurt could count the little brown specks in his irises. Blaine's gaze flickers down and Kurt licks his lips unconsciously.
The door bursts open and Kurt jumps, startled; he shoots a decidedly murderous glare at Blaine's roommate standing at the foot of the bed. Jason doesn't seem perturbed by it; he just takes a look at the screen in front of them and groans exasperatedly.
"Not this movie again. Dude, we agreed – you keep Dark Whatshisface to a minimum, and I won't put up that third Jessica Alba poster."
Kurt rolls his eyes and turns back to Blaine, but he's facing the other way already and the moment is gone anyway. Crap.
They finish the movie with Jason complaining about the inconsistencies in the last battle, ('Why would you even design a giant planet destroyer with an obvious selfdestruct button? Like really, why not just put up a sign that says: shoot here, dumbass?') and Blaine retorting that Jessica Alba hasn't been the same ever since Rise of the Silver Surfer, ('and it's called the 'Death Star') while Kurt tries to clear his brain from its previous haze.
Blaine offers to accompany Kurt back to his room, claiming that he can't take Jason's lack of interest in movie history anymore. Kurt wants to add that hecan't take Jason's lack of interest in his nonexistent love life, but he keeps his inner crazy at bay. They're climbing the stairs leading up to Kurt's floor when Blaine turns to him again.
"So... you're quoting Star Wars in Latin now," Blaine says, eyeing him curiously, and Kurt lets out a little laugh. At least he didn't screw that up.
"You have to admit that my Latin is impeccable. Two more months and I'll be reciting the whole thing back at you. Flawlessly." Kurt shrugs, smiling. "Of course, it won't help when I fail my test on second conjugation verbs, but who needs that, anyway?"
"You could always dazzle your teacher with your exquisite knowledge of sci-fi pick-up lines."
Kurt cocks his head. "I doubt that will hide the fact that I still can't conjugate 'to see' properly, but it's worth a shot."
They're just about to turn the corner to his room when Blaine slows down, looking uncharacteristically fidgety; he lowers his voice, although the hallway is empty.
"You know, at first I thought that this was going to be a disaster. Jason can be an ass, but he's sort of right; this really is not your type of movie. Or anyone's above the age of ten, really."
"Come on, it wasn't that bad," Kurt says and he means it. Really, if he squints slightly, he can see why people like these movies so much– even without the added bonus of watching it with Blaine. "I admit that it hasn't made my top five list, but it was okay. I'm sure the next part will be even better, you know, with my Yoda fetish. And with great company–" Kurt starts to say but when he glances over at Blaine, he notices that the other boy has stopped completely. Blaine just stands there a few steps behind Kurt, chewing on his lower lip and looking disturbingly un-Blaine-like; his arms go up to circle around his body, only to flop down restlessly against his side moments later.
"I just–" Blaine says quietly, shaking his head, snapping out of it. "I'm sorry – it's nothing," he adds with a quick smile, trying to move past him, but Kurt stops him with a gentle hand against Blaine's chest.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Kurt asks, trying not to panic because Blaine suddenly can't seem to meet his eyes; in fact, he looks downright scared, like he's been caught breaking rules and he wants nothing more than the earth to swallow him whole.
"It's nothing," Blaine insists.
"Let me decide that," Kurt says – pleads, really – frowning when Blaine looks past his shoulders in search of a way out. It's anything but nothing,and Kurt mentally kicks himself for whatever he's said or done to make Blaine this desperate to get away from him. Blaine breathes in, hard and sharp against his hand, and steps back a bit, leaning back up against the wall.
"Did I say something–?"
Blaine shakes his head violently. Kurt almost doesn't catch it when he speaks, voice strained and unnaturally low.
"It was perfect, Kurt. That's the problem."
"I haven't watched these movies since I came here – not with anyone else, I mean. It just never felt right."
"Why not?" Blaine shrugs, but Kurt can't let it go. "Blaine. Why not?"
"I used to watch them all the time when I was still at home... with my dad. Every time I got sick, had a horrible day, or just when we didn't want to talk about what was wrong. It was our thing; my brother hated it, and my sister was too young to understand – no one did, really."
"What happened?" Kurt asks, but Blaine's grave smile speaks volumes.
"Bullying happened," Blaine says simply. "And then coming out happened, and acceptance didn't quite– happen." Blaine's voice cracks slightly at the end.
"Then Dalton happened," Kurt says hesitantly. Blaine nods once and sighs, clearly trying his best to collect himself.
"And then it just stopped. Working, I mean. It didn't solve our problems anymore, and I was stuck watching it alone like an idiot. And when you mentioned watching the next part, it just-" Blaine stops, breathes out heavily, and tries again.
"I know it's just a stupid movie and it shouldn't be that big of a deal. Just sit down and watch it with anyone. I tried. And it felt all wrong – like, I'd lose the last thing that connects me to him if I actually enjoy it." Blaine's eyes lock onto his suddenly, begging Kurt to understand.
"Finding that thing the other day… it just brought all of it back. Made me, I don't know – protective of a stupid little plastic toy. Stupid little–" Blaine stops himself shaking his head once – too lost in memories, it seems. He looks back at Kurt and smiles weakly. "And then, for some reason, it made me want to watch the movie with you."
"I thought you would hate it." Blaine continues quietly. "I hoped you'd say that it's the most horribly written and overrated piece of crap you've ever seen, and that it would make everything all right. And maybe you do think that anyway. But then you looked up a shitty quote for me, in Latin, and I'm terrified because – just for a second– I didn't feel guilty anymore."
"Please, don't say that I shouldn't." Blaine squeezes his eyes shut, one hand coming up to pinch hard at the bridge of his nose, making his glasses go askew. "I'm fine. It doesn't matter. I'm sorry for freaking out on you." Please, let it go.
"I'm sorry for making fun of the model earlier," Kurt says instead, carefully; he steps in closer and catches Blaine's arms before they can go up to circle around his chest again. He slides his palms along Blaine's arms, down to where his hands are fisted in a tight ball, and lays his fingers tentatively over the almost white knuckles. "Should've known it was important."
"Yes, it is." He waits for Blaine to pull away and when he doesn't, when he actually lets his hands grasp back for Kurt's, it feels like a bittersweet victory.
It's fucked up beyond belief.
"Kurt, I–" Blaine trails off, eyes shiny with angry tears. Make it right, make it go away,Kurt's mind commands.
"Just listen, okay? I was thinking – it's not a toy, right? It's a collector's item." Blaine looks at him a little confused, but he nods hesitantly anyway. Good.
"So, it's special. It's probably worth a lot more now than it was a few years ago. Someone might actually like it better now; a little dustier and less perfect." He winces slightly because, yes, this has got to be the world's lamest metaphor, but coming up with something clever and witty is not that easy when Blaine is falling apart right in front him. Kurt would love to say, that yes, you are special, and if your ignorant fuck of a father doesn't want to realize that, than he should go and stick a lightsaber up his ass. But he knows it wouldn't help and that it wouldn't make Blaine feel less like shit, because there are no magic words to make this all right, much less perfect analogy. So instead he cups Blaine's face with his hand, brushing lightly over the soft skin beneath his fingers, and looks into his eyes, willing him to understand what he needs Blaine to hear. "It's worth more than you could imagine. Okay?"
Blaine stares back at him for a brief moment before he nods, slowly, bowing his head, and Kurt lets go of him when he hears his breath hitch. Blaine wipes at his face messily and Kurt looks away for a second. A beat, and then:
"Since when are you so well-versed in the prices of Star Wars memorabilia?" Blaine asks, voice a little thick and shaky. He looks back at Kurt with red-rimmed eyes, but smiles weakly and somehow, that makes things a little less horrible.
Kurt lets the two of them fall back into normalcy with that. "Might have looked up a few things online."
"A few. As in, if you needed an essay on the subject, I might be able to help you out – just saying," Kurt tosses off as nonchalantly as he can. Blaine snorts
"I guess I just wanted to say – I'm sorry, if I made you feel pressured to watch it with me."
"Now, that's just plain– you sat through Bridget Jones's Diarywith me! It can't get much more embarrassing than that."
Blaine barks out a laugh and shakes his head, morphing back into something more familiar and less lost and vulnerable. "True. And there was a sequel, too, if I remember correctly. So we're almost even."
"Don't push it," Kurt warns jokingly, and then there's rustling from a nearby room and they move away quickly, turning the corner for Kurt's room. There's deafening rock music blaring from behind the door, Kyle obviously enjoying himself way too much in Kurt's absence. Blaine hovers just for a moment before he looks up at Kurt again.
"I had a great time, Kurt," he says, smiling nervously. "Even with the whole – meltdown at the end."
Kurt nods. "Happens to the best of us. I can go from zero to crazy in less than five seconds."
"Lightspeed, Mr. Spock."
"That's Star Trek."
That's when Kurt's consciousness stops cooperating with his foolproof non-crazy plans. Kiss him, Kurt's mind screams, louder than AC/DC does from behind his door, loud enough that he fears – hopes – Blaine might actually hear him. He takes just a second too long to move; the music changes, and that seems to snap Blaine out of his reverie. He takes a step back.
Kurt wants to throw something, preferably against his own head.
"So – second part next week?" and Kurt has to actively force himself to understand what Blaine means.
"Sure," he croaks, as he watches Blaine round the corner. "If I haven't completely cracked by then," he adds quietly, leaning back against the doorframe. He bangs his head against it to the rhythm of the music, while Bon Scott belts out from behind him:
– Gettin' had,
I tell you folks
It's harder than it looks.
It's a long way to the top
If you wanna rock 'n' roll.
So many things he's good at, indeed. Patience might not be one of them, after all.
Blaine falls sick the next week; not bad enough to go home, but enough to be excused from classes. Kurt doesn't even know about it until the news reaches the Warblers' table at breakfast on Tuesday morning. He marvels at the way Wes puffs up spectacularly, and a few scattered here we go again-s are muttered, until Wes gives everyone a death glare and says something about Regionals being just around the corner, and how Blaine should know better than to run around school like it was freaking June.
"And if I catch someone without a scarf, there will be severe consequences – stop grinning Nick, or I swear to God, you won't get to wear anything but the scarf. This is serious, people–"
Kurt tunes him out after that, because really – Blaine could take the stage half-dead and still win the whole crowd over. He should check, though, just in case, so he fishes his phone out of his pocket and types in a quick message.
Wes just threatened you with bodily harm if you don't get better, like, yesterday. Thoughts?
He only has to wait a few seconds before his screen lights up.
Amfine,justa cold, reads the reply, and Kurt lets out an exasperated sigh. 'Apparently the cold ate your spacebar' he wants to type back, but he hears Wes clear his throat next to him. Kurt snaps his head up and blushes furiously when he sees that all the others are staring at him. Although, aside from Wes – who still looks like his head is about to explode – the others are looking back at him a little gratefully; they've been released from Wes's persistent inquiry about their daily tea drinking and vitamin-popping schedules now that the older boy's attention is completely devoted to Kurt. The others are smirking a bit, too. Bastards.
"Anything interesting to add, Kurt?"
"Umm – it's Blaine?" he says, gesturing a little helplessly at his phone. Wes's face is a picture, really; sadly, not a sympathetic or understanding one. "I just wanted to check if he was okay." He decides that honesty is the best policy here, since the vein on Wes' temple has started throbbing. He's beginning to look remarkably like Rachel on one of her worst outbursts, and that's saying something.
"He is fine, we are all fine, we are going to come in last and that will be just fine!" Wes throws his hands up in the air and then sinks in his chair a little, hands coming down to massage at his temple. Yes, definitely a little bit of Rachel, there. David pats him on the back reassuringly as he turns to Kurt.
"You should have seen him during last years swine flu craze."
"Don't remind me," Wes mutters, giving a full body shudder.
"You did go a bit overboard that time."
"I just wanted to make sure everyone stayed healthy!" Wes exclaims, clearly hurt by the way the others are nodding in agreement.
"By locking us in the auditorium?" David asks incredulously.
"It was just for a day!"
"And yet you were the only one who got sick," David deadpans.
"Because all of you drove me crazy!"
Kurt's phone buzzes again and Wes sighs heavily, motioning for Kurt to take it. "It's not like it can get worse, is it? Oh, God, what if he has laryngitis–?" Kurt looks down at the screen once again.
wes stillpissed?, the message reads, and Kurt smiles. Wes seems to have calmed down a little from his previous meltdown, only now he's throwing scarves at the passing Warblers with a 'wear it or I'll make you wear it' look on his face.
Just worried. He still believes your cold will cause the Warblers' downfall, but he's handling it pretty well, considering.
dramaqueen thats whathe is, Blaine's reply informs him. Kurt doesn't dare laugh, because Wes has added another layer of clothing to his next victim, and he can't risk suffering the same fate – that hat just won't go well with his complexion, even if it's a Dalton regulation. He replies instead.
I'll drop by after classes. With disinfectant. Need anything?
oxygen through mynose, comes the instant reply. So Blaine can't find the space button, but he can still spell oxygen correctly. Figures. He hits reply again.
I'll see if I can arrange that. Try to get some rest, I'm going to pick up a few things for you.
He slips his phone back in his pocket, letting Wes strangle him a little with his own scarf when the other boy wraps it around his neck one too many times. Kurt smiles at him, trying to aim for something reassuring. "He's okay."
"He'd better be," Wes huffs, and then asks incidentally, "You're gonna visit him, right?"
"I thought I'd drop by. I have this fantastic cough medicine; it's organic and it does wonders to–" Kurt stops, because Wes is looking at him funny; not disapproving and not annoyed – which is new – but still strange. "What?"
"Just – make sure that I don't lose one of my countertenors to this flu thing, too, okay? So – no funny business," he says – and then he winks, actually fucking winks at Kurt. Kurt gapes back at him, because – did he just say that, and also, what? Did he just miss something?
He must have, because Wes holds up his hands defensively, a smile lingering at the corner of his mouth. "I'm just saying."
Wes picks up his stuff from the table, and almost as an afterthought he turns back and adds, "And I'll know if you take off that scarf until you get in the shower at night. Have a nice day." He flashes Kurt a smile and walks away, leaving Kurt standing by the empty table with his mouth opened slightly to speak and gawping like a fish out of water.
Well, that was unexpected and – awkward.
His phone buzzes in his pocket, reminding him that classes will start in a minute even if he's determined to just stand there all day, in an attempt to grasp this recent piece of information. Kurt snatches his things from his chair and hurries out the door and up to the second floor, barely making it to English Literature in time.
Of course, he can't concentrate on anything that bears a relation to actual studying. He worries his lower lip instead, absentmindedly twirling his phone between his fingers while he tries to avoid making eye contact with their teacher, because he's so not ready to discuss the tragic, titular hero of Hamlet.
Kurt starts to reach a whole new level of silent panic, his thoughts coming to the same conclusion over and over again: if Wes assumes that he and Blaine are an item now, then so do the rest of the Warblers, which could very well mean that Blaine might be aware that Kurt is currently crushing on him with the force of a thousand hearts. Kurt thought that he was playing it cool, acting mature and collected, but, in reality, he was probably about as subtle as an earthquake – which wouldn't be a first, but it would be the only time he'd made an honest effort to act otherwise.
But if Blaine knows and hasn't run away yet, or made excuses to politely brush him off, then that had to mean something.Kurt can't possibly be imagining all of the wrong things this time; these last few weeks can't have just been a product of his delirious mind.
And maybe – just maybe – he could fit this something with Blaine into his nice, easy dream box without the world coming to end.
This idea gets stuck in his mind, makes his head spin, and when he's done pretending not to care, it abruptly transforms into something familiar and – if his past experiences are any indication – something dangerous.
Kurt might have thought that being patient and cautious was hard, but being hit in the face with this renewed, unexpected emotion feels like someone is sitting on his chest and forcing all the air out of his lungs.
He looks down at his phone, desperate for an answer, and when the screen lights up with a new message, he very nearly jumps out of his skin. Kurt looks around quickly but, thankfully, no one seems to have noticed anything, so he chances a glance at the screen once again.
ok I lied. am notokay,please killme now
How appropriate. Breathe, Kurt.
One step at a time; he might have just had some sort of epic revelation – which, if he really thinks about it, is not that epic or even that much of a revelation – but there's no reason to smother Blaine with his full-blown insanity all at once.
By the end of his classes, Kurt manages to calm himself down to an acceptable degree. He picks up a few things from his room, and, when he reaches Blaine's door he trusts himself enough to knock without his hands shaking uncontrollably.
Kurt takes a step back when Jason comes storming out, balancing a small army of books in his arms.
"Next time, don't sneeze in my face, bro and we'll see about the tea!" he yells back to the room. An angry grunt comes from behind him before the door shuts. Jason turns around to look at Kurt with an expression that can only be described as relieved.
"Thank God you're here. He's been whining for two hours now, and I swear I'm gonna murder him if I catch that damn flu right before my History exam!" The second part comes out louder, clearly directed at Blaine, and there's a rude reply muffled a bit by the door and Blaine's obvious inability to yell back without coughing violently.
"I think I'll just leave him here with you. He's such a delight to be around right now."
"I heard that!"
Jason rolls his eyes and looks pleadingly at Kurt, lowering his voice.
"Please, tell me you can take care of him for a few hours. I'd do it in spite of everything, really, but I have to study and he's not making it easy. The nurse was already here, so you'd only have to check that he keeps breathing and doesn't drown in his own snot." He pauses. "And, you know – tolerate his obnoxiously sick self while doing it."
"Go," Kurt says with a smile. For some odd reason, he feels a bit more confident about holding himself together once he sees Blaine. He might not be able to deal with overconfident, bright and collected Blaine right now, but he can presumably take on sick, petulant, and probably still annoyingly-charming Blaine "I think, I'll manage."
Jason mouths a silent "Thank you" and thumps loudly on the door just for good measure.
"Hear that? Don't be a jerk to Kurt while I'm gone, Snotking!"
"Go away, Jason," Blaine croaks, and Jason smirks at Kurt.
"See? So much fun." Kurt shakes his head and gently pushes Jason to get him going; the other boy waves his free hand at Kurt and quickly disappears around the corner.
Well, here goes nothing.
Kurt pushes open the door, half-leaning against the frame to take a look inside. To say it's chaotic in there is a definite understatement. Blaine's not the tidiest person on a normal day, but sickness seems to have doubled his ability to generate mess. Kurt steps over a box of Kleenex as he makes his way inside.
"You still alive in there?" he tries.
"Nnnnrgh," groans Blaine, sprawled out like an upside-down starfish on the bed, limbs hanging over the sides. He's wearing a pair of faded blue sweatpants and a heinously bright green T-shirt. It's clearly too small and put on backwards, but it Kurt thinks it's kind of adorable. (No. Not going there, Kurt.) The three blankets scrunched up at Blaine's feet are mostly on the floor, with the exception of one that's halfway up his legs; Blaine kicks at them weakly and makes the hideous T-shirt hitch up a bit in the process, exposing a generous amount of skin with the movement. Kurt blinks, fast. (Not going there, either.)
"Come again?" Kurt asks instead as he silently closes the door behind him. Blaine makes an effort of pulling his face away from his pillow, only to rest his forehead on the back of his hands.
"I can't exactly breathe right now. Give me a moment and I'll get back to you on that." His voice sounds horrible, all nasally and hoarse, and Kurt can almost visualize Wes ripping his hair out upon hearing Blaine's rendition of Jason Mraz's 'I'm Yours' while he's simultaneously coughing and blowing his nose and spinning all over the stage – and not in a good, Warblers kind of way. (A small part of Kurt's brain supplies that Wes would deserve that after this morning's freak attack.)
Blaine's head falls back onto the pillow, blocking all air passages with it. Kurt waits for a few seconds and then asks, tentatively,
"Maybe if you tried breathing without the pillow?" Blaine turns around at that with a moan, flopping onto his back, hands coming up to massage at his temples.
"I thought that if I tried breathing through the pillow, and then without it, the 'without it' part would feel a bit different."
"Turns out it's just about the same."
"What gave you this brilliant idea?" Kurt drawls.
"My genius kicks in sometimes, when I'm high on Advil."
"I can see that." Kurt edges his way closer to Blaine's bed, carefully avoiding the used tissues, discarded blankets, and pillows surrounding it. "You've built yourself a nice little cocoon."
"A cocoon made out of my tears and agony."
"You're holding up splendidly."
"Thanks; I try my best." Blaine returns in between two coughs.
"It looks like you've been abandoned, by the way. I think Jason stapled a Quarantine sign to your door."
"Traitors, all of them. I catch a little harmless–" Cough. Cough."–cold and they scatter, like I've got rabies or something." Blaine groans and sits up slowly, holding his head in place.
It's not just his voice that's awful, Kurt ponders. He looks too pale and kind of shaky, his hair sticking out every which way; his nose is an angry red and his skin looks blotchy. When he seems to be steady again, he looks up at Kurt warily, eyes shining feverishly. That damn smile's on his face, though, the one that he can seemingly produce even when he's too sick to think straight – and that doesn't help the flitting, excitable feeling in Kurt's stomach.
But there's also a little snot bubble appearing in his nostril, and wow, that's surprisingly helpful in getting Kurt back to the present.
Blaine's right hand flies up to his face, and he dabs a tissue at his nose quickly. "Oh, shit, sorry–"He doesn't look up for a while, but Kurt can see his neck getting a little red above the collar of his T-shirt. "That thing my nose just did?"
"I'd like you to forget it – please?"
"Kurt?" Blaine peers out from behind his fingers and looks up at him pleadingly.
"Sorry, I was just saving my new phone background. It's titled, Blaine Anderson: Prince of Snotnia."
"You people with your snot-jokes are all evil and taking advantage of my delicate state of – is that tea?" Blaine lights up suddenly when he sees the mug Kurt's been nursing in his hands.
"Oh," Blaine deflates like a balloon and sags back against the wall. "I really need tea. Jason promised he'd bring me some, but he freaked out and left after I accidentally sneezed in his face."
"Guess he doesn't respond too well to mucus being spit all over his face–" Blaine gives Kurt a sad 'but I'm sick' stare and Kurt lets go of the subject "– and, as I was saying, it's not exactly tea, but it'll make you feel better. I promise."
"I don't need more medicine; I could open up my own pharmacy with the amount of pills and syrups the nurse supplied me with." Blaine motions at his desk, where Kurt can see a disarray of medicine boxes and pill bottles. "But I'll strangle this cold with my bare hands anyway. So much better, see?"
He coughs. He sneezes. His eyes tear up. "Any moment now," Blaine mumbles resolutely.
"Slide over, Health Guru."
Kurt sits down next to him and holds out the mug for Blaine to take. Blaine reaches out and Kurt adds a quick, "Careful, it's hot."
"Thanks, Mom," Blaine huffs with a little smile and Kurt flushes, leaning back against the wall next to him. Blaine blows at the drink for a few seconds as Kurt tries to get comfortable on the crumpled sheets, avoiding the tissues that are scattered around the bed like landmines. As soon as he's settled somewhat comfortably next to Blaine, he feels the other boy's skin practically radiating heat, even with the layers of clothing separating them.
"Are you sure I shouldn't call the nurse back?" Kurt lifts up his right hand on instinct to touch it against Blaine's forehead and when he feels his burning skin, it's Blaine who winces slightly.
"Yes, I really should–" Kurt nods to himself, but Blaine catches his hand before Kurt can stand up and shakes his head slightly.
"It's okay, don't worry." There's no smart-ass comment this time; Blaine just smiles at him weakly. "Really; it always goes down like this. When I get sick, I feel like shit for twenty-four hours, but I'm perfectly fine the next day." He tries a reassuring smile, although it's anything but comforting for Kurt. "My immune system is perfect. Most days."
"I'd argue with that–" Kurt starts, but Blaine is giving him his kicked puppy eyes again, and Kurt gives up with a sigh. "Okay, fine – no nurse, but only if you take another Tylenol. I feel like I'm sitting next to a radiator.
"Maybe if you'd take off the scarf?" Blaine looks at him quizzically, fingers tangling in the heavy material of Kurt's long-forgotten anti-flu scarf.
"Why?" Blaine presses, and Kurt gives a noncommittal grunt. He really doesn't want to go into the details right now, because that would mean he'd actually have to talkabout what happened at breakfast and what happened to him after that. Since Blaine is in no state to comprehend his rambling right now, he opts for the easy way out.
"Wes," he says simply, because at least it's not a lie.
"Enough said," Blaine croaks.
They sit in silence for a while, Blaine coughing every now and then until Kurt notices that Blaine's suspiciously avoiding looking at the cup in his hands and scrunches up his face when he sniffs at it.
"Well – aren't you going to drink it?"
"I don't, it's just–" a sigh, and then, "It's got bits in it," Blaine says, poking at the herbal flecks that slipped into the cup even after Kurt strained it as best as he could.
"Oh, don't be a baby, Blaine. It's not poisonous– I got this from a little Chinese herbal shop in Lima, and it does wonders to my voice when I get sore throat. I put honey in it, too so stop complaining."
"It must be tasty," Blaine mumbles with a little frown, and sips carefully. "No, it's really not," he adds, disappointed.
"Okay, okay! Drinking – see?" He makes faces anyway, but Kurt can't really blame him for it. He knows how it tastes from his own experience with the drink: sour and bitter, even with enormous amounts of honey. Blaine gulps down the rest of it quickly.
"Well, I hope it does some damage to the cold after it's done burning away my taste buds."
"Oh, for the love of–" Kurt mutters, because sick Blaine is worse than his dad and Finn combined, and this was really notwhat he had in mind when he got here; Blaine is doing a very fine job distracting him. Kurt rummages through his bag and holds up a small thermos in surrender. "I give up. Here's your 'real' tea."
Blaine lets out a long-suffering, snot-filled sigh. "Thank you."
"But you'll deal with Wes if your voice turns out like Tom Waits's by tomorrow."
"Is it really that bad?" Blaine tries to clear his throat, but only ends up in a coughing fit.
" All due respect to the man, but not everyone can pull off that 'too raspy for the human ear to process' tone," Kurt remarks, and Blaine shakes his head in surrender.
"So – I guess you have more of that vile concoction."
"If you ask for it politely."
"You are way too good at this." Blaine mumbles warily.
"And you like me anyway."
It comes out playful and light but when it sinks in a moment later, Kurt feels himself flush all over. As much as he would like to get it out of his system, it might not be the best idea to discuss… possibilities with Blaine while he can barely stay upright. Not now, and not like this.
Blaine looks at him with calm, shining eyes and Kurt is about to open his mouth to say something inane to change the subject, but he doesn't have to. Blaine takes care of the momentary silence by scrunching up his nose and sneezing violently – and thankfully – into a tissue. Blaine takes a moment to recover, squeezing his eyes shut.
"Yeah, okay well, I think I've just sneezed my brains out. So I'm just gonna sit here and drool on you if you don't mind."
They're still sitting shoulder to shoulder, but Blaine's leaning into Kurt's side a bit now and Kurt scoots down lower on the bed to support his weight. He snags the comforter scrunched up at their feet and drapes it over Blaine. Blaine hums softly, and Kurt fights off the urge to reach out and touch the damp curls that threaten to fall across his forehead. He should be given a medal for his self-restraint.
"So, how was your day?" Blaine asks out of the blue and Kurt let's out a little laugh in disbelief.
"Of course. I've been deprived of human interaction all day, Kurt. No one was willing to talk to me without a makeshift mask. It was kind of depressing."
"How was your day?" Kurt counters incredulously, looking down at Blaine, who still has his eyes closed. He's shifted a bit, though; his head is still propped up against the wall, but it's only inches away from Kurt's shoulder.
"It got better after I texted you this morning – or, at least that's what I thought. Then I tried to stand up and it very quickly got horrible, and it's been pretty consistently nauseating from that moment on. At least the room's stopped spinning now, so I can count that as good thing, I guess. Your turn."
"It started out awful," – confusing, and frightening and even more confusing,– "but it's getting better."
"So my suffering cheers you up?"
"Glad to be of service, then."
At some point, Blaine's head ends up on Kurt's shoulder after all, a light weight pressing down on him. Kurt doesn't know if the move is conscious or not, but either way he's definitely welcoming it. They sit in a silence for awhile that's broken only by Blaine's wheezing breaths and the occasional bout of coughing. Kurt snags the mostly empty cup out of Blaine's hands before he has a chance to spill it all over himself, and when Blaine makes a questioning noise, Kurt says,
"Wouldn't want to ruin your T-shirt." Kurt motions at the inside-out green mess Blaine chose to wear; he can just about make out the name of an unidentifiable band crisscrossing over the fabric.
Blaine doesn't miss Kurt's disdain. "Don't mock the shirt. It's not its fault that I can't dress myself when faced with potentially life-threatening illnesses."
"Still not overreacting, I see?" Kurt asks, nudging Blaine's shoulder gently.
"I think I have a right to do that today."
"At least the color matches your–"
"If you mention my snot in there somewhere," Blaine says warningly "I can't be held responsible for my actions."
Kurt bites off the remark that threatens to escape and props his head up against the wall instead.
There must be something really wrong with his head, Kurt decides. He spent the whole day freaking out over Blaine, but when he has Blaine flush against his side, head lolling on Kurt's shoulder, Kurt feels more relaxed then he has all day.
Blaine shifts against him, and Kurt lifts up his arm on autopilot to accommodate him. Blaine murmurs a nearly inaudible "Thank you" into the fabric of Kurt's shirt as Kurt lets his right hand settle on Blaine's shoulder.
Blaine's breathing starts to even out eventually, his body relaxing into Kurt's side more and more, and his head gets heavier on Kurt's shoulder as he begins to slip into unconsciousness. All the tension in his body slowly dissipates with his sleepiness, and Kurt can tell that Blaine is barely straddling the line between awake and asleep. Blaine's voice comes out thick and heavy, when he speaks up again.
"Thanks… for being here."
"You'd have done the same for me," Kurt whispers back, not sure if Blaine still hears him through the haze of sickness and exhaustion. Blaine doesn't answer, but his head falls forward just a bit, resting on Kurt's chest, his breaths warming Kurt's skin through his shirt. He's asleep, and Kurt's mind makes one last-ditch effort to offer him a chance to save himself before he's ultimately overcome by a feeling way more dangerous and threatening than just simple hope.
Kurt looks down at Blaine's messy, dark head pressed against him, mouth slightly open, and suddenly, everything he hasn't dared to name before comes crushing back to him. Kurt runs out of all the excuses and all the reasons he came up with to make his plans work, because fuck that – he's not going to sit back and hope for some unnamable thing to happen anymore. He doesn't just want to kiss the living hell out of the boy in his arms; he's in love. He has inadvertently, undeniably, and irrevocably fallen for the boy who took his hand on a staircase not three months ago and pulled him into something stunning and surreal just by being himself.
Kurt is painfully aware of the fact that he's currently stomping on his simple, easy dreams with a substantial pair of mental combat boots, because what he's feeling right now is definitely not simple and he could be very wrong again and wouldn't it be just great to go down that road and why the hell does the voice that singsongs "You're screwed!" in his head sound remarkably like Brittany's–?
"I think we may have a problem here," Kurt says matter-of-factly to the unhelpfully silent room, "And I could really use your input on the situation, you know?"
Blaine snores noncommittally against his shirt, and Kurt has to agree. He feels his own eyelids getting heavier with each passing second, Blaine's warmth somehow numbing his senses, and he closes his eyes, momentarily blocking out the harsh light coming from the bedside lamp.
Kurt stirs awake to the sound of Jason's voice, the other boy gently shaking him back into awareness and thankfully not mentioning the way Blaine is practically half resting in his lap. Kurt slips out of the room, claiming curfew and studying and he's morethan glad that Jason doesn't engage him in an awkward conversation about his unusual healing methods.
Once outside, Kurt leans back against the door for a moment and stares ahead into the flickering lights of the hallway.
God, he is officially, completely screwed.
*Step and Sway*
By the end of February, Kurt knows a few things for certain.
The first is that putting a nice label on his feelings doesn't help him act upon them anymore than he did before his 'epiphany'.
The second is that obviously no one has informed Blaine that Kurt is quite ready to be in love with him now, thank you very much. Although the Warblers keep smirking at them wickedly, none of them are willing to smack Blaine upside the head and put Kurt out of his misery.
The third, is that – although not strictly part of the aforementioned problems, and even though it's embarrassing and lame to even admit it, it's so there that Kurt has no chance but to include it on his list, so yeah, third– is that Blaine has picked up the strangely exciting habit of showing up to their movie nights in tight-fitting jeans and even more tight-fitting, oddly colored T-shirts. Consequently, Kurt has had to spend more time in the bathroom than watching the actual movie.
Things were quickly getting out of hand (no pun intended).
And there's a fourth item slowly but surely formulating in his mind, one that's more of an advice for the future and less of a fact: dress more weather-appropriate when going out for a 'chill-the-fuck-out' walk around the school in knee-deep snow and a below freezing temperature.
Maybe he should just put that one on the top of his list, Kurt muses as he very nearly trips over his own legs because he can't feel his right little toe anymore – and isn't it supposed to be spring already, anyway? The only thing that's blossoming is his ever-present obsession with stupid Blaine's stupid jeans, and his stupid smile on his stupid face.
Kurt kicks at the heap of snow rapidly piling up in front of him; a numbed pain shoots through his right leg along with the motion. He's usually not the type to go out and frolic in strange weather anomalies or hop around in the snow like a bunny on crack, but special circumstances had led to this new and somewhat disturbing event in his life.
Dalton is snowed in, and he is stuck here almost completely alone because he was thoughtful enough to drive back early to avoid the freaking blizzard that was ripping through town, only to be rewarded with the announcement that classes had been canceled for Monday. But hey, he can always stay there anyway. The dorms are mostly empty; the only other students Kurt bumped into were a couple of seniors who always stayed at Dalton for the whole weekend.
Kurt had considered driving back to Lima at first, but by the time he got back out to his car, it had been covered in more snow than he was willing to dig his way through. Even if he had, he couldn't imagine a safe way to navigate when he couldn't even see more than a few feet in front of him. So he'd reluctantly called his dad and spent forty agonizing minutes convincing him that no, there really was no need for him to drive all the way to Westerville to pick Kurt up, and yes, Dalton had working heating and no, he was not going to starve to death in one night.
But, as it'd turned out, sitting alone in a dorm room surrounded by deafening silence and too many teenage hormones had driven him a little bit crazy, and he'd developed this sudden urge to just go outin the snow and keep on not thinking about Blaine there.
So that's where he is now.
He doesn't know exactly how long he's been out here, but, judging from the fact that he's started to feel remarkably close to a snowman in body temperature, he suspects it must have been a while. He contemplates heading inside while hopping around on one leg like an idiot to get some feeling back in his limbs. He should, but it would mean that he would be alone in his room again, with his feelings, and since he seems to have a lot of those lately, that's really not an option.
Bone-numbing cold is good, perfect even, and with the wind relentlessly blowing icy snowflakes in his face, Kurt is more preoccupied with keeping his eyes open than thinking about Blaine.
Because he is definitely not thinking about him.
Kurt is not thinking about Blaine and his stupid smile the day after Blaine gets better from his cold and spends the next day perched on the edge of Kurt's bed while Kurt suffers through his own share of – inevitable – sickness. Kurt is not thinking about Blaine and his stupid offer to watch Casablanca on Valentine's Day, when Kurt was too miserable to even consider going home to face the annual New Directions Coupling Season he's sure is taking place at McKinley. And Kurt is most certainly not thinking about the way Blaine lingered in his doorway afterwards, looking too stupidly adorable for his own good and saying something about Valentine's Day not being such a let down after all, and, after subtly staring at Kurt's lips for five seconds – not that Kurt was counting or anything –, went on his merry way like nothing remotely interesting had happened, leaving Kurt dumbfounded once again.
Kurt sighs into his scarf, the thin material barely giving him any protection against the sharp wind.
It's not very often that this happens, but Kurt kind of wishes he was fifteen again. When he was fifteen – and God, it feelslike that was ages ago –, he imagined that, once he got around to the point in his life when he met a nice guy who actually likes him, he'd want things to be slow. He imagined longing stares, poems and singing and all the stuff that everybody else found cheesy and clichéd, but Kurt wanted them anyway because they seemed so unattainable at the time. After all, how could something be a cliché if it never actually happened to you?
Now that Kurt is sixteen and actually has a guy who maybe-hopefully likes him, and Kurt has the chance for slow and romantic, all he wants is for Blaine to march up to him and kiss him silly in the middle of whatever the hell it is that Kurt is doing in a snowstorm at that precise moment. Which, Kurt guesses, is also sort of a cliché, but once again: never happened to him and he'd like an opportunity to decide it for himself. Like, really soon, because if this goes on any further, his head might just explode from the confusing mess that's currently occupying his every waking moment.
His phone buzzes in his coat and it takes Kurt a minute to peel the gloves off his frozen hands to take a look,
freaking snow, it reads, Blaine's name flashing in blue on his screen and there are some other words written on there, but Kurt can't quite process them, because something just snapped in his brain and okay.
In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to ask Blaine what he actually meant, because at that moment, Kurt – with his half frozen fingers and drenched jeans and utterly hazy mind – kind of took it as a cue to start acting like he was fifteen again: rash, impulsive, and so freaking determined all of a sudden, and he presses the call button before he has a chance to chicken out. Blaine picks up after the first ring.
"Why the hell haven't you kissed me yet?" Kurt yells into his phone, and Blaine inhales sharply over the line. Kurt doesn't meanto shout, but he has to talk over the wind and he really wants to get his point across. He finds that he can't stop blabbering, now that he's started. "Because I really need to know, you know, so, you know, I can get over it and drown myself in ice cream and sappy music and go back and try to ignore the way you make me happy and relaxed and in love all the time!"
"Kurt, wait, where are–"
"I don't do subtle, Blaine!" he shouts again, over the wind, over sensible Blaine and his own remaining sanity. "I do screaming, I do diva, I do head-over-heels in love, but I don't do subtle! I tried and failed spectacularly, see? I can't–"
He yelps, flails, and lands ass down in the snow, phone flying out of his hand and ow,, he has got to stop doing that. Maybe it's the sudden change of perspective, or the way the melting snow is slowly seeping into his jeans, but he feels the beginning of the familiar hysteria rapidly bubbling up inside him.
"Oh, shit. Oh, no. Nonono!" He scrambles for his phone, but the thing is hidden somewhere under miles of snow and he really has no time for this. He breaks into a run as soon as he feels somewhat steady on his legs again, slipping every other step, and he really has to consider taking up running in the snow as an extracurricular, because his thighs are burning more with the effort of trying to move so quickly than they ever did during Coach Sylvester's vigorous exercise routines.
He reaches the dorms and smiles weakly at a passing terrified senior. Kurt would be terrified too, if he was greeted by someone who looked like he'd been hiking in Siberia. Kurt breaks for the staircase, taking two steps at a time as he formulates his Skype message to Blaine, and how Blaine should take into consideration that Kurt's brain might have been a little muddled at the time and that he was actually attacked by rabid bunnies that had turned him into a scrambled mess of frozen horror.
He reaches his door, close to tears, now; his hands are burning and angry red and he can't seem to catch his breath. He tries to slip the key into the hole, but it falls from his grip once, twice, and when it does slide in, the thing just won't turn–
The door bursts open, and Kurt blinks at the sudden burst of light and oh–
"Wrong door," he pants pathetically.
"Wrong floor," Blaine adds, but he's pulling Kurt inside by the sleeve of his coat and Kurt follows numbly, unable to do anything but pant helplessly and bury his icy fingers in the warmth of Blaine's sweater. Blaine grabs hold of his arms, looks him over with slightly manic eyes, and then unceremoniously pushes him down on his bed.
Kurt doesn't even dare to squeak or move, because Blaine looks angry, furious, so Kurt sits there and waits for the inevitable, unable to stop his teeth from chattering. Blaine can't stop pacing across his room, and Kurt starts to feel dizzy from it.
"A-are yo-you a-angry?" Kurt stutters, but shuts up immediately, when Blaine whirls on him.
"Of course, I'm fucking angry, Kurt!"
Kurt flinches and opens his mouth to explain, shout, cry, or something, but he can't form the words and Blaine isn't finished anyway.
"You scared the shit out of me!" He seems genuinely terrified, even though he's still shouting and that's definitely not right.
"What–?" Kurt whispers brokenly but Blaine just drops down on his knees in front of him, not looking him in the eye, and starts to unlace and then yank off Kurt's shoes with more force than is probably necessary. Blaine then barks out an order for Kurt to take off his coat, and Kurt tries to obey, too stunned to even think about turning on his bitch-mode, but his hands won't cooperate and he keeps missing the buttons until Blaine reaches up and does it for him, sliding the coat down over his shivering shoulders and then he's suddenly enveloped in a warm comforter from head to toe.
What follows is silence, one of the uncomfortable ones, with Kurt still shuddering violently under the blankets and Blaine still crouched down in front of him. Kurt is slowly becoming aware of Blaine's hands resting on his knees, his fingers flexing over them every now and then. Kurt reaches out hesitantly, barely touching their fingers together; Blaine tenses up and Kurt waits.
"You scared the shit out of me," Blaine repeats, but the anger is gone from his voice. It's replaced by something that makes Kurt's eyes sting from more than just the cold.
"Blaine, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to just drop this on you–" he starts, but he can't finish, because Blaine is leaning in and he's pressing their foreheads together and Kurt momentarily forgets how to breathe.
"It's not that," Blaine says and the words reverberate against Kurt's lips, making them tingle even more. Blaine tangles his fingers in Kurt's hair on the back of his head and leans back just a bit, so he can look Kurt in the eyes. He's smiling nervously, apologetically. "I thought the worst."
"I was going to call you because of school and tell you not to come and then when you called – I thought you were driving or something, it was so loud, and you were screaming at me and then you freaking yelled,and the line went dead and then you didn't pick up. I assumed–"
"That I wasn't just out in the snow and fell on my ass?"
"– and not trapped under an avalanche somewhere on the way to school?" Blaine barely cracks a smile. "No; your version wasn't very high on my freak out list."
"I don't think there are that many avalanches in Ohio," Kurt says, a smile tugging at his lips and Blaine huffs out a breath and slips his hand lower on Kurt's neck. He still hasn't pulled away completely and Kurt lets himself warm to his touch, closing his eyes.
"About the other thing, though," Blaine says, his voice a bit scratchy and it sounding suddenly very close again and Kurt doesn't even have time to open his eyes. Then he just doesn't want to, because Blaine's lips are on his, and he hums softly against him.
It's tentative and still a bit shaky, and Kurt knows his lips are chapped and cold, but Blaine doesn't seem to mind. Kurt is starting to move past warm and into steamywhen Blaine shifts back a bit, putting a little distance between them.
"I think this answers my question," Kurt says, blinking his eyes open and unconsciously licking his lips. He doesn't miss the way Blaine's eyes follow the motion.
"Near death situations tend to call out my inner courage," Blaine admits, brushing his thumbs over Kurt's cheek.
"I don't think my general clumsiness counts as 'near death'."
"Are you complaining?"
"Oh God, no," Kurt says immediately, smiling back at Blaine, and wow – that's how love should feel like, after all. It's not easy or simple, but it's pretty damn amazing.
This time, it's Kurt who leans in for more, and they don't surface for quite a while. Blaine plays with the edge of the comforter when they finally pull away.
"I guess I just wanted to say – I'm sorry for screwing with your head for so long. At first, I though you needed time, and then I kind of realized that Ineeded some time, too, and then it just sort of – got out of hand."
"You don't say." Kurt says, rolling his eyes affectionately. "Perhaps I should have given you more hints,"
"Wes was kind enough to remind me every single time I didn't make a move, thank you very much."
"How thoughtful of him," Kurt says, then frowns a little. "Also, a little creepy."
"He just knows stuff. And he likes to make you aware that he knows it better than you."
"I noticed," Kurt snorts as they sink back against the pillows. Blaine just barely avoids elbowing him in the groin and then they're laughing, because that just would ruin it now, wouldn't it?
Later, they make their way out to the school yard – Blaine calling Kurt's phone while Kurt leans over piles of snow, trying to hear it buzzing somewhere. Blaine has other ideas when nothing comes of it, though, and after a while there's more kissing and less looking, but Kurt is the last person to complain about that.
Kurt's plans might not have been flawless, but Blaine's hadn't been either – and that it still worked out in the end? Made everything so worth it.