Everyone is born with the name of their soul-mate upon their hands. No one knows exactly when this started to crop up, there have been mentions of it in ancient Roman texts, which makes historians wonder if it's been there for as long as humans have lived, and more importantly, have loved. Scientists ponder over the strings of DNA, trying to find out the meaning in the endless lists of numbers and letters, but to no avail, it's just there.
Sometimes it's written in curling, flowing script, other times etched with a heavy hand. There's no pattern, only that the person you're matched up with inevitably will have the same handwriting. It's scripted just on the tender part of your palm, where the fine bones of the thumb flexes and shifts under pink skin, down along the line which palmists have nicknamed the life line, but really, everyone knows it's the line that delineates the fragile lining of your heart.
No one can see the name written on your palm, not even your soul-mate, until...
When people fall in love, there's always that moment, that special moment which they'll remember forever. They hold their hands together, and there's a - sort of purity, sort of magic in that moment, where the names connect together – and in that moment, you'll know that their name is your name, and vice versa.
There's a moment of fire, a spark that travels through their veins, hot and liquid, a fire that can only be named as love.
When they part, there are two names there; you and your lover, you and your soul-mate, entwined, and impossibly beautiful, and there's that solid certainty that yes – this is who you're meant to be with.
The vein that leads from that vulnerable part of your palm, all the way up your arm, through the gentle nook of your elbow and across your chest, to pulse right into your heart is slightly darkened – not enough to be noticeable across a room, but just enough, just enough to know that – hey, this is someone who's loved, and loved in return.
Of course, there are those who resent this, this fatality of life.
Kurt Hummel is one of them.
It's the autumn break of 2011, and the weather is frosting over at the edges, the leaves dropping off trees, landing softly onto the grass that's browning at the tips. It's very early in the morning, and Kurt's working on a particularly stubborn car that keeps leaking grease all over his hands.
There are those who are completely in love with the romanticism of this tie of fate.
Blaine Anderson is one of them.
It's the autumn break of 2011, and the skies are a clear blue, and the trees arch right up to the sky. The road stretches on, seemingly to forever, and Blaine Anderson is driving right out of Westerville, Ohio, driving right out of the state itself, seeking a new future if only for a few weeks, the melody of a song on his lips, the shimmer of freedom in his hazel eyes.
Of course, his car breaks down.
What else would happen?
Of course, Hummel Tires and Lube is the closest garage.
What did you expect?
Kurt Hummel is surprised to hear the tinny ringing of the phone echo through the workshop. He crosses the floor, wiping his fingers off onto his pants, and picks up the phone with a few fingers, careful not to get it dirty.
This is where the story starts. It would be a love story – but let's face it, it's not.
The simple fact is here.
On Kurt's hand, it's written Andrew Langford.
On Blaine's hand, it's written Geoffrey Chan.
"My car is broken down, it's two streets away from this shop, I think – well, I looked it up on Google Maps but the address is –"
Kurt cuts him off.
"Let me take your name first."
He'll never admit it – but Kurt had wondered in that cold autumn air if this mysterious stranger could be Andrew. Even though he hates the idea of a foretold love story – sometimes, there's just too much loneliness for one person to bear.
Blaine stands on the edge of the road, his scuffed old sneakers etching a pattern in the dirt. Moments later, a tow-truck drives up beside him. Blaine doesn't know who he's expecting, someone perhaps a little older, dressed in flannel, anyone but Kurt.
He's beautiful in the morning light, the sun touching down gently on his hair, lighting up his features and those few freckles he frets endlessly about. His loose shirt hangs around his slender shoulders, and the beautiful lines of his collarbone are absurdly graceful. What strikes Blaine the most, though, are his eyes, wide and gorgeous, the colour of the autumn sky, the colour of the faded grass on the side of the long road.
"Let's take a look, shall we?"
It turns out the car is irreparable, something about driving on petrol watered down and mixed with other substances at a filthy gas station in the middle of nowhere, compounded with about a million other issues.
"Can you try to fix it, please?"
There's desperation in his voice that makes Kurt look up from where he's buried within the hood of the car.
Years later, Kurt will maintain that agreeing to that was the best and worst decision of his life.
"So, where were you headed to?"
Kurt selects a wrench, holds it up to the light to critically examine it for size, then loses himself in the hood of the car again. His voice is muffled in the dim lighting of the garage.
"I didn't really know," Blaine confesses, "Anywhere, really. I just needed to get out, out of Ohio and somewhere better, brighter – I don't know. I know it's stupid."
"Looking to find your soul-mate?"
Kurt's voice twists on the last word, bitter and curdled.
"I'm sorry," he amends, his voice softening, "That was cruel of me."
"Don't believe in true love?"
"Not exactly," Kurt answers, tasting each word carefully, "More like…I don't particularly believe in being conscripted to love. It seems a little ancient, too much arranged marriage for me."
"But…this has been around since humanity has existed, it's kind of part of our DNA," Blaine says a little defensively, and his voice heats up a little.
Kurt grips the sides of the car, and looks up, his eyes bright and defenceless.
"Don't you ever think," he says softly, his voice tumbling gently into the space between them, "That's there's more to life than that? That we have a sort of choice? Maybe these names, they're just a way to ensure that humankind doesn't die out, that it's all scientific and it's ensuring the most diversity within our species? I don't hear any mention of love in that."
He looks down, clears his throat.
"I…." he begins again, "Just, don't you think love is a little more complex than these two words, letters, really, they mean nothing to someone in the Middle East, or someone in the heat of Africa, because they don't even read English."
Blaine can't answer, the words are caught in his throat, thrumming above his Adam's apple.
Kurt leans over the car again, brushing back his hair. His hand trembles.
It's just past midday the next day, and the sun is hanging in the clear sky, faint rays of heat penetrating the cold. Blaine's sitting in an old plastic chair, going on the internet with his phone, simply because he has nowhere else to be. The motel he's staying in is substandard, and he's afraid that simply by inhaling the dusty air he'll give himself a virus.
Kurt is quiet, for the most part, and Blaine notices this quiet stillness about him, in his movements, the way he reaches over and takes a sip of water, the long column of his neck incredibly graceful, his throat shifting subtly under his pale skin, or how the fine bones of his wrist twist as he tightens something with a wrench.
"So," Blaine begins, his voice a little unclear from lack of use; there's usually the note of a song, or the whisper of a word still upon his lips all the time, "Do you know anyone whose connected yet?"
Kurt looks up, from where he's studying the condensation forming in tiny rivulets on the side of his glass near his hand.
"There are a few who are in denial about it," he says, "Santana was having a lot of trouble with it last year."
Kurt smiles a little, as if there's a joke only he can understand, and isn't that the very truth of this moment?
"It was a girl's name," he says, and there's an edge of laughter that's slightly unkind to his voice, "Heavens forbid it could be someone of the same sex."
There's a dark bitterness that clouds his eyes when he looks up.
Of course, there are those who believe that if the name on your hand is of the same sex, or really, anything but strictly the opposite sex, that you're abnormal. A freak of nature. There are those in denial about it, who know that the name on their hand is without doubt male, but still hope that there's some girl with an unfortunate name. David Karofsky is one of them.
"What about you?" Kurt says, turning the conversation around, "Why so desperate to get out of Ohio?"
"I…" he begins, "There's not much to tell, and I don't – it's not something that I would, well, just life."
"I can understand that," he says, and goes back to work.
A while later on the day after that, a young woman enters the shop, clutching tightly onto her purse, her eyes rimmed red. Her dress is neatly ironed, cardigan hanging just so on her slim shoulders.
"Quinn," Kurt says, and his voice softens, "How are you?"
She tries to smile, but it falters. With a trembling hand she tucks her perfectly curled hair behind her ear.
"I'm okay," she answers, "I'm here to pick up –"
She shakes on the words, as if she doesn't trust her own voice.
"Your mother's BMW?" Kurt says, and nods, heading over to a drawer which he unlocks and retrieves a key. He walks over to her, and presses it into her palm, but he lingers a little too long, the touch of his fingers against hers, his eyes meeting hers for a little too long.
She looks down, and twists the strap of her bag around her fingers, hard enough that her skin whitens, and red welts stripe her delicate hands.
She looks up, and there incredible pain in her eyes, so much that Blaine feels intrusive just standing there, he turns away.
There are those who find their soul-mate in textbooks, old history books weighted down with age and musk of libraries.
Quinn Fabray, looking in the old records of jazz singers down in New Orleans, came across a figure a few days ago that struck her, wouldn't leave her mind, until she hunted down his records, found his diaries, his sometimes violent, sometimes heart-broken poet-ramblings, long and broken across the yellowing pages, her name scrawled over and over again, Quinn Fabray, Quinn Fabray, and every time she had read her name, it was a pulse in her heart, a weighted down heartbeat, a crack in her heart.
She drives out of the garage, and when she hopes no one can see, she lets go of a shuddering breath, closes her eyes for just a moment, tightens her grip on the wheel and carries on.
Over the tinny speakers in her car, the slow blues leak through.
Kurt closes his eyes, and his heart aches, the faint strains of the music dripping from the cracks in the car's windows trailing with the wind past the garage.
"Is she okay?" Blaine asks.
"Leave it," Kurt snaps, his voice harsh.
Blaine opens his mouth to apologize, closes it again.
That night, the sky is incredibly blue and it's getting cold. The leaves on the trees outside shudder, and drift to the hardened floor, patterning the ground with incredible shades of scarlet and gold, incongruously bright against the darkness that winter brings.
The voice comes from a backdoor.
An older man eventually emerges, his flannel shirt worn and faded, eyes tired and crinkled around the edges.
"Hey, Dad," Kurt says, and Blaine is surprised – this is his dad? There couldn't be more polar to each other, the epitome of the all American dad who drives a truck, and then – Kurt, beautiful and elegant, with graceful cheekbones and porcelain skin, Kurt who moved around the garage with almost uneasy silence, whose voice was like rain dripping down windows in summer, refracted and brilliantly scattered by the sun.
The man's eyes rove briefly over Blaine, before returning to Kurt.
"Come in soon, it's getting late, alright? Don't work too hard," the man says, and walks back inside, his shoulders hunched a little as if he's carrying an impossible burden.
"I'm sorry," Kurt apologizes, when he's gone, "He's not usually so abrupt to people he doesn't know."
"It's alright, honestly," Blaine assures Kurt, but Kurt still looks worried, biting onto the edge of his lip.
"You have to understand," he says, all in a rush, "He hasn't been the same ever since my mother died, he's remarried, but they're married only through law. They don't have each other's names written on their hands and it's been very hard on him – he's not always like this, and recently –"
He cuts himself off.
"I've said far too much," Kurt whispers.
There are those, who are never the same after their soul-mate has passed away. Burt Hummel is one of them.
"Kurt," Blaine says quietly, "I know I barely know you, but it's okay. I know how it feels."
"How what feels?" Kurt answers, shaking his head slowly and unsurely.
"How it feels…to not know exactly why you do things. Maybe you do it just on a whim. For the heck of it. Then immediately after you regret it, wish you had never done it, but then, there's something worth getting out of it in the end always, anyway."
His eyes are fixed on Kurt's, burning bright.
Kurt looks away, down at the car, at the crumpled dollar notes stashed below the dashboard, crinkled and undoubtedly unable to add up to more than one hundred dollars, the empty boot and spare change of a single shirt.
"Thanks," Kurt says, in the end, voice edged with something heavy and a little sad.
The next morning, Blaine walks in, and drops off a cup of coffee onto the desk where Kurt's sitting, pen in hand, thumbing through endless sheets of paper and typing onto a computer. The sound startles him.
"Oh – thank you," he says, a little breathless, as if the words caught onto just the end of his last breath.
"No problem," Blaine answers, smiling a little, "By the look of your trashcan I kind of guessed that you run entirely on caffeine, too little sleep and your own crazy determination."
Kurt raises an amused eyebrow.
"So tell me, Blaine Anderson," he says, leaning forward and placing down his pen, "Tell me about you. What do you like to do?"
There's something a little defensive about him now, the way the words fall from his lips a little forcefully, as if he's trying to get back ground on Blaine, to know as much about him as he knows about Kurt.
"I like to sing," he starts off, "I like to read, listen to music, watch old films….all the usual stuff."
"Sing?" Kurt asks, and his eyes light up, "I love to sing."
They talk a while about Glee Club, and Kurt tells Blaine about their director, who seems like he means well but is generally hopeless but on the few rare occasions, about Rachel Berry, the insecure girl with the killer voice. Blaine tells him about the Council, and talking out of turn, and eight part harmony's and singing in front of a large crowd.
Their conversation shifts to other things, trivial matters, stuff that makes them laugh, bold and bright in the autumn air, the leaves rusting at the edges, and at some point Kurt forgets all about inventories and keeping track of parts and what have you, and instead focuses on Blaine, his bright hazel eyes and the way he talks with his hands, how he bobs a little up and down on his feet when he's telling a story.
"I'm thirsty," Kurt says after a while, trailing off the edge of yet another story involving Finn, Quinn and weirdly enough, Lauren Zizes.
"Actually, I am too," Blaine says, in such a tone of puzzled delight it makes them look at each other for a split second, then laugh again.
"Seriously" Kurt manages to say through laughter, as he heads across to the tap, where he fills two glasses messily, the water spilling over the sides, "What was that? Ac-tually, I am too!"
He parodies Blaine, exaggerating the high arch of his surprise in his voice, and Blaine, taking the glass of water, mock-sprays a little in his face as revenge.
They're acting like children, but it's wonderful and beautiful, and the best part (and the worst) is that they both know it won't last for long, so they laugh a little harder, a little longer, smile a little brighter and just – just breathe in the fresh autumn air, right through their lungs, deep in their chests, cold and crisp.
"I was getting away from my family," confesses Blaine the day later, out of the blue, "They keep trying to make me someone I'm not – and isn't that such a stupid, painful cliché?"
Kurt smiles softly.
"Not at all."
"So – whose name do you have, anyway?" Kurt asks, another day, the sky hidden behind grey clouds rolling in from the south.
"Geoffrey Chan," Blaine says, pretending to read it off his hand, as if he hasn't memorized it years before now, like every child does, as soon as they know what it means, repeat the name over and over to themselves every night before they sleep, the name safe in their mouth, wrapped up with love for someone they don't know.
Blaine shakes his head, and Kurt tilts his head and nods, smiling in agreement – me too.
"Mr Tall, Dark and Very Mysterious," Blaine jokes, leaning back on his chair, idly playing with a screw that he twirls around in his fingers.
"I see," says Kurt a little archly, but playfully.
"It'll be a few days before the final part arrives," he says after a while, "And then, we'll be done."
"So – Kurt Hummel," Blaine says, while swinging around the structural support for the swing at the park, "Why did you choose to fix the car? I don't actually have enough money, you know that."
Kurt pauses, dragging his feet in the leaves that have collected below the swing, scratching away at the layers until the earthy brown appears.
"There was something about you," he says evasively in the end.
"Sounds like a love story," Blaine jokes, and they both laugh shortly.
"No," Kurt finally says, "Kind of because you looked lost. I – well, I wouldn't say I felt sorry for you, but I did. To be brutally honest."
He looks up, eyes bright like the sky above.
"No – I get that," Blaine says, and untangles himself from the pole, "Want me to give your swing a push?"
A dark evening later, they're returning from a small diner in the corner of Lima, when Kurt realizes he has absolutely no idea where Blaine's staying. He's fast asleep beside him, and Kurt can't bear to wake him up.
Under the yellow fluorescent light of the streetlights, he's absolutely beautiful, his dusky lashes brushing his cheeks, his full lips slightly parted, his curls loose. He's incredibly peaceful, and Kurt, brushing back a stray curl, wishes he could be like that too – so serene and at ease. His shirt is untucked from his pants, and there's the slightest strip of skin exposed, and Kurt can see the hard angle of his hip. He blushes, looks away.
He pulls into his driveway, and tugs a little at Blaine's arm, but he pushes Kurt away blearily.
Kurt looks at Blaine for a moment.
Then, with a sigh, he reclines his chair, curls up on the seat and waits for morning.
The next morning, they both look terrible.
"You should have woken me," yawns Blaine, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
"Mmm, I should have," Kurt agrees, stretching as he steps outside the car, wincing as just about every bone in his body cracks.
They walk inside, get cleaned up, and then spend the rest of the day sleeping on Kurt's bed, they're that tired.
They spend the next few days waiting for the car part to arrive doing nothing and everything. They talk, their voices growing hoarse and rubbing abrasively against the air, until they quieten, tired of noise and longing for silence. They watch films; The Piano, and Kurt winces at the horror but Blaine swears its genius, then Disney, and Avatar, everything from here to kingdom come.
They're lying down in the dark one night in Kurt's bed, somehow they've made the subconscious shift that Blaine's no longer to stay in the seedy motel, they've never mentioned it, or talked about it, it just happened.
"What's wrong?" Kurt whispers into the dark, there's a stifling tension that's tangible.
"You can tell, huh?" Blaine smiles, but it twists on his face.
"What's your worst fear?" Blaine asks
Kurt takes a deep breath, looks away. His hands tremble on the sheets, and he tightens his grip, so that it's punishingly tight.
"To…fall short. Not be as good as I need to be, I suppose," he says, and his voice is quiet and picked up by the wind.
"What if," Blaine whispers, "What if I'm not good for anything at all? Not even good enough, just at all? Kurt – I – I'm never the one. That's why I hang on so hard to this – Geoffrey Chan, whoever he is, because that will be the only time in my life that I'm not fucking second, or heck, in the running at all. I – I need him, Kurt. I need it."
He turns his head on the pillow.
"Oh – Blaine," Kurt whispers, and his throat fills, and his eyes burn with tears, "You're wonderful, and anyone who can't see that is a complete idiot."
They're quiet, but Kurt pulls Blaine over so that he's sort of half-hugging him, and his tears are wet against Kurt's cheek.
They stay like that, until they fall asleep and the sun rises.
"Someday, I'd like to hear you sing," Blaine says, the afternoon after.
"Someday you will," Kurt promises.
Later, Kurt will remember this moment and laugh a little at it – because he knows what Blaine would say, that the someday would be in another time, another place, another space – another world and that's what he meant in the first place.
They're hanging out in the garage later, Kurt's working on some other cars, when the doorbell rings. Kurt darts out to the front gate.
When he returns, he's holding a large package and smiling.
"This is it," Kurt says, with an air of finality, "Then we'll be finished with your car, and it will be as good as new!"
Blaine can't bring himself to smile back.
The afternoon the next day, Kurt's fiddling with something unknown, and his father's in the back of the shop, working on something else that grumbles noisily. Blaine's cleaning up tools, trying to do the best he can to help, but avoiding doing anything harder than putting tools back into the box and wiping grease off surfaces.
They work in companionable silence, and at one point, Burt disappears into the conjoined office, and Kurt, following, exits with a massive stack of papers which almost engulfs his entire torso, tottering over to the desk.
"Sure you can manage that?" Blaine asks, laughing because the answer is so obviously no.
"Screw you," Kurt bites back, voice muffled, then manages to drop about half of it.
"Shit," he exclaims, and setting down the other half, glares at Blaine, but he can't hold his anger for long.
They laugh, bright and breathless and somehow Blaine tumbles backward into the stack of papers and they go flying everywhere, they tangle together, crushing all the sheets, and Kurt doesn't even care.
"I love you," Kurt says, and the words tumble out of his mouth one by one, he doesn't even know where they come from, he's never even thought of the words before in his life in relation with Blaine, never even saw him as anything but a friend – but heck, as soon as they slip from his mouth, as soon as they're lying in the small silence between them he realizes it's true – he fucking loves Blaine.
He loves how stupid and impulsive he is, how his eyes are bright and dark, the way they're polar opposites but fit together so well, how no one can make him laugh the same way, but oh, if only he could take back those words – fuck, fuck, fuck.
There is no way he can love Blaine Anderson.
The realization is as shocking as it is horrifying, because there's actually no way they could be together – but Kurt reminds himself, since when did he put stock into a few words scrawled messily just above the line of his palm? Since when did that matter? Still – it matters to Blaine, and the slow shock of that sets in, cold and icy up his spine.
Blaine draws back.
The silence is terrible.
Kurt's insides shrivel with black tar, coating his arteries and veins, making it hard for him to breathe, for his blood to pump, and he wishes desperately that he could turn back time, but Blaine's eyes are shifting right in front of him; from shock to sorrow to hope to something akin to guilt.
"No –" Kurt breathes, trying to draw back what he's already said, "I didn't –"
Blaine runs his fingers through his hair, knotting and tangling his curls around his fingers, and his hand trembles.
"Kurt –" he begins, but he's cut off.
"Don't – just forget it, alright?"
Kurt gets up, brushing paper from where it's caught up in his clothing, turns on his heel and walks away.
That night, Kurt can't sleep.
He can almost sense – almost fucking feel Blaine's presence just outside the door, his slow and steady pulse, the warmth of his skin and messy hair.
He sits upright in bed, his eyes dry and head impossibly tight, it aches, and there's so much pressure just above the base of his neck, right above where his spine arches down his body, tiny little knobs jutting just slightly below his skin, like the way his ribs shift against the thin cotton of his shirt, with his every breath and heart beat, pulsing Blaine Anderson though his veins again and again.
He supposes his heart hurts, a dull ache he can't specify to any one location but the general area of his chest, but most of all, there's this tightness about him, as if his skin is a shade too small, constricting and suffocating.
A few hours later, Blaine's presence is still painfully tangible, and sleep is a dream a few shores too far away.
The night is cold.
He closes his eyes.
He loves Blaine, but Blaine needs someone who can promise him eternity – someone who has the solid seal of forever written across his palm, and Kurt can't offer that.
Kurt doesn't need Blaine, like Geoffrey Chan undoubtedly does. He wants him.
Kurt's working in the garage, his hair messed up, his eyes tired and hooded.
His movements are mechanical, devoid of his usual grace and life, almost eerie in the way he shifts from one part to the next, wiping his hands methodically on his pants, reaching up once in a while to swipe his hair out of his face.
Blaine slips through the door.
At the sound, Kurt looks up, then back down.
"Almost done," Kurt says, voice flat and there's a clunk, "There. Finished."
"I'm sorry, you know," Blaine whispers, pressing his fingers down against the edge of the table, "I didn't mean what I said –"
"Forget it," Kurt says, but it isn't cruel or harsh – terribly gentle and soft, so much that it hurts.
"I just…I can't ignore this, this is my fate," Blaine says, and his voice is harsh and he flexes his hand, almost as if it's his cross to bear, and isn't it really?
"Just tell me one thing," Kurt says, setting down the wrench and shutting the hood of the car, "If…"
He pauses, looks down at his own hand.
"If the name here, if it said Blaine Anderson, what would you say to me?"
There's a silence.
"I…." Blaine begins, but there's a flash of light from the window as the sun angles in, and they both are momentarily blinded by the brightness.
They'll never be sure what exactly happens in this moment.
Whatever happens, if it is real or a creation from their imagination, just a trick of the light or a sort of vision, whether it is false, or true, they'll ever know, but they'll remember it.
They'll also know: this moment is as true as their love.
In the setting light of the sun, there's a spark of fire, a thread of liquid light, burning between them.
Blaine comes forward, the gentle glowing link between them burning brighter and fiercer, incandescent in the dying light that leaks through the windows of the garage, and he stops just short of Kurt, and takes his hand, pressed just above his heart, where the steady thrumming is the beat to silent music.
"What's going on?" Kurt asks, small and scared.
"You're beautiful," Blaine whispers, the words falling from his lips hanging in the air between them. It's not really an answer, but Kurt isn't looking for one anyway.
"No," Kurt says quietly, and backs away, but his fingers still tangle with Blaine's, "No – I – you don't love me."
Words tremble on his lip.
"Do you?" he breathes out, so softly that Blaine barely hears him.
Blaine looks down.
"Look at this," he murmurs, "This fire – as if we were meant for each other, as if at any moment now we'd part, and I'd see our names together and everything would be alright, I would be with you – forever - and we'd grow old and I wouldn't have to care about this stranger written across my palm and foretold in my heart but – "
He presses their fingers closer together, willing the laws of nature to tilt on its axis, to feel Kurt's slender fingers even closer, and the bright gold entwines itself around their hands, linking up and over their fingers, through each gap, bright, beautiful, the air about it shimmering and fading.
"Maybe," Blaine continues, more to himself than anyone else, "Maybe if life wasn't like this, if we were born with nothing written on our hands, if there wasn't – maybe you and me, you and I, Kurt…"
"Fuck, Blaine," Kurt breathes, "What does it matter whose name you've got written on your hand?"
Blaine looks to answer, but he closes his mouth, shakes his head.
Then – so quickly Kurt didn't have time to react, Blaine holds Kurt against him, and kisses him, full and sweet on his lips.
The golden light dazzles, twisting around their bodies, closer and closer, so tiny and fragile they look like a trick of the light, almost invisible, but their hands, still clasped together look like sunlight is wrapped around them, liquid and flowing like water, tendrils fizzling out gently, curling in on themselves and fading away.
Their hands burn, just where the names are written, it feels inherently wrong, but it can't be, nothing this beautiful and perfect could be wrong, yet they know it is, there's no connection, nothing between them but two people, a little lost and scared in the world, searching for each other and holding on too tightly, just their heartbeats and the silence of the world around them.
It's a fiery flame, flickering and illuminated by the last burst of light, beautiful, strong – and in a single split second where time seems to stop, two things happen.
The sun sets, and as the light dies, the links around their wrists burn brighter, brighter – brighter – until in a great flash, the threads disappear.
Then there's nothing but the quiet night and the terrible darkness.
Kurt breathes in, short and fast, and closes his eyes.
"Stay with me," he whispers, and they both know what he means.
It's in that little garage, in Lima, Ohio, where they make love, and they both don't know what they're doing, not really, not at first and it takes a little while to figure it out and it's messy and awkward but incredibly beautiful.
There's something in the way they hold each other, a little too tightly, a little too fiercely, as if they're afraid reality will tear this moment away, afraid that this isn't real, that there's nothing but the cold darkness and the scent of petrol winding through the ice of almost winter.
There's no sudden realization, no epiphany, the names on their palms haven't been inscribed and changed, it's still the same, Matthew and Geoffrey, no matter how much they would wish it to be Blaine-and-Kurt, it's not. There's only the heat of their breaths, the slide of their hands, the sudden angles, and gentle curves, sensitive skin and kisses that bruise with anger and a little sadness, then round so gently across skin it's barely there, a whisper, a dream.
The floor is cold and a little gritty, it's far from comfortable and when it's over, they get up, unable to sleep there, sore and their bones aching all over, and there's a moment where they look at each other, and infinity seems to pass between them.
Blaine looks up at him, and he's beautiful, so fucking beautiful in that moment, vulnerable and lost, lonely and confused, but strong and graceful and sarcastic, just so Kurt….and so not for him.
Kurt looks at Blaine, trembling and uncertain, fumbling and sort of clumsy and tripping over words he's not even speaking but Kurt's sure are tumbling through his mind in an endless string of thoughts, and he's so full of life, music thrumming through his veins, his skin hot and flushed, eyes bright and steady and…absolutely, definitely perfect, but not ever, ever perfect for him.
In the end, Kurt gathers his clothes, and slips through the backdoor, the night cold and solemn above.
He closes the door with the gentlest click.
Everyone is born with the name of their soul-mate on their hands.
No one knows who coined the term "soul-mate" in the first place. If it were up to Kurt Hummel, he would have probably got rid of the "soul". Blaine would have kept it. Well – maybe, maybe not.
The car is ready to go.
They're standing across from each other.
The unspoken words between them fade away.
"I won't see you again, will I?"
The question is a plea, a prayer for a rebuttal, a wish for an insistence that Kurt's wrong, that they will see each other again, that there's something beyond looping letters on a palm, something that transcends love itself.
Blaine looks up, bites his lip.
His voice is soft and it catches on the words, dragging from each vowel to the next.
"No, I don't think so."
"I guess…." Kurt says, voice quiet and dry, "Goodbye, I suppose. It was nice meeting you."
He hates how insufficient those words are. "It was nice". "Goodbye."
"I won't forget you," he whispers, "I won't forget this garage, the scent of oil and grease, the sky, the autumn leaves and cold air, and the way you smile, I won't forget you, and your eyes and…"
His own eyes are bright with tears.
"I won't forget you either," Kurt says quietly, and the admission is the smallest, most precious gift he could give to Blaine.
In the end, he gets into the car.
He looks in the rear window, at the receding garage.
Kurt's nowhere to be seen.
So he drives out of Ohio, way into the future, the tears blurring his vision and his heart breaking.
Five miles down the road he pulls over.
When Kurt is absolutely certain Blaine is gone, he breaks.
Tears run down his cheeks, hot and burning, and his voice cracks over terrible sobs, his ribs shaking, and shoulders breaking, and he curls in on himself, one trembling hand across his heart, trying to stem this pain, this heart-break, this fucking heart-break, and the other hand, his left hand, clutched tightly onto the rim of an old rusting table, and the exposed metal cuts his hand, the scarlet blood leaks down, through his slender fingers, hot as his tears, bright as his breaking heart.
Who would imagine, that only moments before, they were standing there, lit up by the early morning light that pools through the windows of the garage, across tool boxes, cars and tables?
He fucking hates Blaine, so fucking afraid and shit-scared of what could happen if they didn't do what they were meant to, follow those stupid letters on your hand, as if something that tiny can dictate your entire fucking life.
Hates that people they didn't even know could control their lives.
Most of all, he hates Blaine, hates him with every sob that tears from his chest, breaking his heart.
Who knew pain would hurt so much? That it would pulse right through his veins, through the network of blood and flesh that keeps him alive, that heart-break would be a physical pain, just as physical as the cut on his hand, the blood fading into the gritty concrete below his feet, where it will stain brown, where Kurt will spend hours scrubbing with bleach, to no avail.
It will scar later, right across his palm, cutting across the little letters across his hand.
Later, he will find a tiny yellow Post-It note, stuck onto his bedside table.
I love you.
But not in this world.
In the years to come, they will think of each other, but never for too long.
Kurt will never throw out that Post-It note.
Blaine will drive that car until it breaks, and then keep it in the recesses of his garage.
They will marry, fall in love, because it's right, meant to be, written in the skies, preordained by fate. Whatever.
No, this was never meant to be a love story. It couldn't have been. Though – wasn't it beautiful while it lasted?
Sooner or later, Kurt Hummel realized that for himself.
The real tragedy – he knew it all along.
This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang, but with a whimper.