Blaine Anderson goes to Dalton Academy Reform School for Boys twenty five minutes away from Lima in Westerville Ohio. He's stuck boarding there during the week but is granted weekend privileges if he behaves the week before.
He meets Kurt Hummel because he wasn't good the week before - not at all. In fact, he meets Kurt Hummel with a black eye and a cracked lip and blood gushing down his face. His tee-shirt is stained, his head hurts. Through his swollen right eye he sees this tall, lithe boy enter, eyes wide and painfully painfully innocent. He looks like an angel dropped into hell, really, all stiff posture and clear nerves.
Across the room David and Jeff are still being held back by guards. They're screaming and yelling the place down, insults flying, words harsh and biting. Blaine watches in bemusement as Jeff spits on David and the guard grappling with David's arms ends up having to tackle David down to the ground to stop him from breaking free.
This new boy, probably some do-gooder from a nearby school - he's standing with Marie, the kindly elderly secretary from the main office that no one, not even the toughest of guys in Dalton, can be mean to. She's got that disappointed pout on her face as she places a gentle hand on the boy's elbow to guide him out.
"Not a good day, I suppose," Blaine hears her say as they retreat down the hallway, the locks on the doors clicking shut as they go.
His name is Kurt and he's there to tutor Blaine and a couple of others in French. From across the table Blaine's even more painfully aware of the blueness of Kurt's eyes, how tense he is under Blaine's scrutiny.
"Are you listening to anything I'm saying?" Kurt scowls a little, his pretty mouth twisting up in a frown so not-intimidating it just makes Blaine smile.
"Not really," Blaine replies, leaning back in the library's uncomfortable wooden chair, stretching his legs out. When his foot accidentally brushes Kurt's the other boy visibly flinches and pushes his chair away a bit. Blaine feels a little offended but can't blame Kurt - not at all.
"Well if you're not going to learn anything, why am I here?" Kurt replies angrily, shutting the textbook in front of him with a dull thump. It grabs the attention of the guard sitting on the far side of the room and Blaine doesn't want to invite him into their conversation. He leans forward in his chair a bit.
"I don't know - why are you?" He asks, eyeing Kurt's expressions. He's only been sitting with him for forty minutes but Kurt's really not that hard to figure out - he wears this aloof expression like a mask but underneath the emotions ripple quite clearly if you know what you're looking for. Right now he's pretending to be indifferent when he's clearly quite shaken.
Blaine's not known for his gentleness - that'd been beaten out of him years ago, really - but he's not ruthless or cold, either. He uses that as his own personal mask, actually.
Kurt Hummel's not the only one who can put up a front.
"I have to do community service," Kurt admits, sitting as far back in his chair as possible. He tries to avoid Blaine's gaze but then gives up, locking eyes with Blaine, "I'm no better than you, you know. I'm here because I did something wrong. I'm here because it's here or maybe something like this for me. I'm just not where you're sitting because I have always been the good boy - something just went wrong this time."
Blaine can tell just by Kurt's expression that he's not going to find anything else out about this right now even though his curiosity's piqued. He also knows that there's no way that this boy, this boy who looks so heartbroken just sitting there admitting he'd done wrong is anything like him or the other boys at Dalton.
"Whatever happened," Blaine says, leaning forward so Kurt has to look into his eyes again, "You're not like me, Kurt."
Kurt shakes his head, "You don't know me."
"I know enough."
It takes Blaine four study sessions with Kurt to fall in love.
Kurt's got this steady gaze; this easy grace. He holds his head high, even when he's jeered at by the other boys in Dalton, he walks with confidence and wears what he wants and is just spectacularly like no one Blaine's ever met, never ever.
Blaine works hard to make Kurt smile, because it's such a rare spontaneous occurrence. He takes joy in the unexpected happiness that dawns on Kurt's face when he realizes Blaine can sing - and well, too.
Their study sessions - they start perfunctory and then run longer and longer. They begin with conjugating verbs and translating easy text and devolve into talking about life, music, movies and happiness.
Blaine likes Kurt's laugh, loves his style. He looks forward to their twice a week meetings and can't believe when Kurt actually offers his phone number to him one day - ("In case you have any questions on your work," He blushes.). He holds the small piece of paper in his hand for hours that night while lying in his bunk waiting for lights out. Jeff is already snoring in the bunk below him but Blaine barely hears him; all he can hear is Kurt's voice in his ears.
Blaine works really hard the next week to earn his weekend privileges and he feels so so light when he walks out of Dalton Friday evening with an overnight bag and the sun setting beyond the dark gray slate of the school.
Outside leaning on his car is Kurt, a small smile playing on his lips. Blaine takes a moment to watch the sunset illuminate around Kurt like a halo, like the fallen angel he is, and allows himself a brief moment of daydreaming where he's running into Kurt's arms, kissing the taller boy breathless under the guise of freedom.
Instead, he walks slowly until he's standing in front of Kurt.
"How does it feel?" Kurt asks, teasingly, "All this freedom out here in Ohio?"
Blaine can't help but reach for Kurt, pulling him into his arms and hugging him tight. He feels Kurt tense for a moment; but he holds tight until the tension drains out of Kurt and the other boy's holding him just as strongly.
It's the first time Blaine has touched Kurt - really touched Kurt. It's just as amazing as he'd ever imagined it.
Ice cream is a treat the boys at Dalton aren't afforded very often so their first stop is the small homemade ice cream parlor on the border of Westerville and Lima that has a line halfway down the block and the very best chocolate mint chip ice cream Blaine's ever had.
"I think you're not really as much of a bad boy as you seem at first," Kurt admits, pointing his spoon at Blaine with a gentle little grin.
Blaine smirks at Kurt, "You're lucky it's you that's saying that to me - anyone else would've gotten a crack in the mouth."
Kurt just rolls his eyes, "You don't scare me."
Blaine's grin fades a little at Kurt's mirth. When Kurt looks over at him with a confused glance he just peers down at his rapidly melting ice cream.
Blaine hasn't smoked a cigarette in months but when he's dropped off "home" by Kurt that evening after their rendezvous and he's perfunctorily welcomed into the house by his wary parents he finds a half-finished pack in his sock drawer and can't help it.
He was given his cell back upon leaving for the weekend and it buzzes in his pocket as he leans out his window and blows out the last of the smoke from the cigarette.
i'm still not scared of you.
He stares at it for a moment. A moment later, another message comes through.
Saturday finds him in Kurt's car on the way to the mall. They're not off to a good start - Blaine had tried to light up another cigarette in the car and Kurt nearly drove them off the road in anger.
"I still can't believe you - smoking," Kurt spits, vibrating with annoyance. If Blaine wasn't just as upset by his holier-than-thou attitude than he would have thought it charming Kurt's so ticked about a little tobacco smoke.
"I've done worse." Blaine scowls, his heart pounding, the remaining cigarette from the pack getting crushed and useless in his hand.
"Stop it, Blaine. Stop bringing up things you'd once done to justify things you're doing now."
"You don't know what I've done!"
"Then tell me !"
"No." Blaine insists. Kurt's car comes to a halting stop, enough to pull the seatbelt tight across Blaine's chest and knocking the breath out of him. They're suddenly on the side of the road and Blaine can feel Kurt's piercing gaze and he feels trapped, so trapped.
"I feel sick," Kurt says, and Blaine looks over to watch as the other boy unbuckles himself and pushes his seat back, chest heaving as he tries not to cry.
"I don't know what I'm doing here," Kurt says, looking out the window at the streets beyond, "What am I doing here with a boy I met in a reform school? I don't even know what you did to get yourself there and you don't even trust me to know."
Blaine's hurt then, swiftly, and it pierces his heart. He has to look away from Kurt, from the obvious fear in his eyes.
"You don't know me." Blaine says softly. Kurt looks over at him.
"No, I guess I don't."
They drive back in permeating, deep silence. Kurt's eyes are watery; Blaine can see them even from where he's sitting, rolling the crushed cigarette into pulp between his hands. He looks at it sadly, wishing suddenly for the deep calm that smoking brought him sometimes.
"I pushed someone down the stairs," Kurt says suddenly, unexpectedly, "That's why I have to do mandatory community service."
Blaine knows his expression must be one of utter shock because Kurt hurries to continue.
"He's fine – the boy. I pushed. He's fine. He broke his arm and wounded his pride, I'm sure, being pushed by the fairy of the school, but he's fine. Unfortunately, though, a teacher saw it. Even more unfortunately, they didn't see that the boy had pushed me up against the wall and was leering in my face."
A chill courses through Blaine's body and he shivers.
"His name is Karofsky. Dave Karofsky. He's been bullying me for months. The one time I decide to fight back he accidentally tumbles down the steps when I shoved him back. No one's ever noticed him pushing me – torturing me – but they saw me push him. They saw him fall. His parents decided to press charges. I'm lucky to have only gotten community service. They considered it aggravated assault."
Kurt's crying now, outright. Blaine feels his chest tighten.
"Pull over, Kurt." He says, voice raspy and uncontrolled. Kurt does so without further prompting and doesn't protest when Blaine clambers out of the car, comes around, and then drags Kurt out the driver's side to pull him into a hug.
This hug is nothing like their first one; it's desperate. Kurt clings to him and cries messily into his shoulder.
"It's so unfair. So, so unfair."
Blaine spends his free Sunday looking up 'Karofsky' in the phone book and slashing every car in the driveway's tires at the house the address is listed at. Then for shits and giggles, runs the tip of the switchblade over the paint of all three new cars, damaging them beyond repair.
He makes sure Kurt's home with his parents so it can't, for some reason, get pinned on him, and tosses the knife in a dumpster on his walk home.
That night Kurt picks him up to bring him back to Dalton.
"Someone keyed the Karofsky's cars – and slashed their tires."
Blaine's not sure of Kurt's tone. It sounds vaguely accusatory but he can't tell in which way so he pointedly avoids Kurt's gaze.
"Is that so?" He says with a light expression, willing Kurt to not be angry with him.
The last thing he's expecting is Kurt's arms to come around him and to be kissed within an inch of his life.
Kurt tastes wonderful; is the best kisser Blaine's ever had the pleasure of kissing. He knows his stuff, clearly, and Blaine's intoxicated. So, so lost.
"Thank you," Kurt says, finally, when they break apart. Blaine's heart is going a mile a minute and he can't really reply – instead choosing to kiss Kurt back just as intensely as Kurt had kissed him, hoping to take his breath away.
Their "study sessions" devolve then into illicit make out sessions in darkened library corners, dodging out of sight of the guards lurking just around the bend. In between they talk in hushed whispers, smiling and learning one another just like any young couple would.
However – Blaine Anderson and Kurt Hummel aren't any other young couple.
Kurt's still free to come and go as he chooses – attends McKinley High School during the day, comes to visit three times a week under the guise of tutoring. Blaine works hard during the weekdays when Kurt's not around to follow all rules. He daydreams of weekend adventures in Kurt's truck – seeing movies and holding hands, singing to bad Top 40's and mussing up Kurt's angelic little image.
He's doing great until Wes says something as Kurt's leaving that Wednesday. Blaine's very much been ogling the other boy as he turns to leave Dalton behind for the afternoon and it's then that Wes speaks up – loud enough for the common room and Kurt to hear alike.
"Blaine, how's that sweet tight little ass of Hummel's?" He sneers, "I know you cocksuckers like the girly types but he's pretty remarkable. How does he feel when he's on his knees for you, Anderson?"
The red-hot anger that overtakes him is quick and powerful. He doesn't know how but suddenly he's on top of Wes and there's a sick 'crack' as his fist collides with Wes' jaw. Guards descend out of nowhere and scramble to pull him off as he continuously grapples for Wes.
"Take that back, you fucker. Take it back!" He's screaming, irrationally and angrily. As he's finally yanked off of Wes, he's suddenly drawn to the slack-jawed Kurt still standing feet away from the door. His eyes are wide, frightened, and this moment is eerily reminiscent of the first time Blaine saw Kurt, all those weeks ago. This time, however, that fear is directed at him, and suddenly everything is just dark, so dark.
"I can't see you anymore," Kurt says that weekend, tinny over the landline phone the Dalton boys are allowed to use once a day during the weekend, "My parents don't think it's a good idea. I'm nearly done with my community service anyway and Marie said I can finish it out with her in the office."
Blaine can't help it; his breath hitches and he chokes down a sob. Kurt feels so far away, suddenly, so so far away. It's like his freedom is being drawn away from him and it's a million times worse than when he'd first been forced into this place, because Kurt was a tangible freedom. He looked at Blaine like he was worth it; like he wasn't just some reckless lost teenager stuck in a rut. He saw Blaine. He grounded Blaine.
This time it's all Blaine's fault – he'd frightened Kurt. Truly frightened him. He'd never wanted Kurt to be scared of him – not ever.
"Kurt," Blaine tries, "Kurt, please."
"Good luck, Blaine."
There's a dial tone then. Marie, who was overseeing the calls that afternoon, guides him gently back to his room and gets him warm milk.
"Sometimes you need to lose something to truly grow," She says, and then leaves him be, all alone.
I owe you a million apologies, but mostly I owe you an explanation. I realize I never explained what got me here and I realize that's not fair because you trusted me. You trusted me with your story; with your tale.
The problem, though, is that I'm a coward. My story wasn't like yours – not at all. Yours is a tale of self-defense gone wrong – of you trying to find your footing and unfortunate circumstances leading you to an accident that you shouldn't have been blamed for in the first place.
Everything I ever did, Kurt – and there's a lot of things – were acts of cowardice – using my big bad anger and fists to speak my mind instead of my words. In that way I was no better than that guy Karofsky – while no, I never laid my hand on someone that wasn't either antagonizing a fight or obviously looking for one – I did use the same form of communication- violence.
I was a scrawny middle schooler who had a big mouth. I spoke my mind, wanted to be who I wanted to be. I flaunted my sexuality and challenged the bullies who wanted to take me down for it. I gained friends in a crowd who respected me for the way I pushed others around. I smoked, I drank, I got piercings and there's a tattoo on my hip you very nearly saw that one time but didn't. I keyed cars and stole cars and wormed my way into bars. I hung out with people doing all sorts of drugs and I've had a knife in my hand, waved out in front of me, to warn others not to mess with me. I've even held a gun, even pointed one. Never pulled a trigger, but came damn close.
I put this mask up; this persona, because I felt like this was the only way. Sometimes I still feel like it's the only way. When something I love, something I cherish, is being threatened, I act before thinking. I haven't felt that way about anything in a long time, Kurt – not until you came into my life, and this time the same fierceness to protect cost me you.
What ultimately landed me in here was auto grand theft and driving without a license. Now I'm stuck without seeing your face, without hearing your voice. I truly don't even deserve the time I had with you, but I'm grateful for it, anyway. You changed me, Kurt Hummel.
Blaine Anderson gets out of Dalton Academy when he's 18 on release. He's on probation for two years after.
He still smokes, sometimes, when his anger feels like it's boiling up in his chest, but instead of letting it consume him he throws himself into his music, playing guitar in dingy corner bars and saving to buy himself the motorcycle he always wanted.
He's 22 when he sees Kurt Hummel again, looking impeccable in perfectly tailored dress pants and a jacket that accentuates how narrow his waist is. He looks like he's just stepped out of GQ, standing there in front of the coffee shop Blaine had just pulled up in front of on his bike, hair coiffed and cell phone to his ear. Blaine hides behind his helmet for a few minutes and just watches him until Kurt feels his eyes on him and looks over.
It takes a moment for the recognition to dawn, but when it does, Kurt hangs up and doesn't hesitate to walk straight over, fearless as ever.
"Blaine Anderson?" Kurt asks, taking off his sunglasses. Blaine pulls his helmet off and shakes out his longer curls and smiles at him, leaning back against the bike.
"Kurt Hummel," Blaine smiles, and is warmed by the grin that curls over Kurt's lips.
"Still a badass I see," Kurt teases, eyeing the leather jacket and ripped jeans and the motorcycle.
"More like a poser, these days," Blaine admits, shrugging, "Riding a motorcycle is as badass as I get."
Kurt eyes him, glances him up and down and Blaine realizes he notices the tattoo the same moment Blaine tries to hide it. Kurt's hand, warm against his forearm, stops him, though, and he eyes the date tattooed in the inside of Blaine's arm with a small smile.
"Tattoos, though, too, huh?" He says, fingertips trailing over the carefully tracing the numbers,
"11/5/2010. What does that mean?"
Blaine hesitates and he realizes Kurt gets it a moment later. He says it out loud, though, because he's been waiting to say it to someone for years. He never thought it'd actually be Kurt, though, he'd be saying it to.
"It's the date I met you," He admits. Their eyes lock and he sees Kurt take a deep, shuddery breath. They just exist in one another's space for a moment, breathe in tandem, look at one another like they were seeing one another for the first time all over again.
Finally, Blaine looks away, grappling for his forgotten helmet and holding it out to Kurt.
"Want to go for a ride?" He asks, hopefully. He doesn't expect Kurt to say yes, not at all, but then those long fingers are brushing his as the helmet is taken from his hands.
"You never really scared me, you know," Kurt says, leaning in, "It's the idea of you that scared me."
Blaine's not too sure what that means, but he knows it can only mean good. Then Kurt's settling in behind him on the bike and there are long, warm arms wrapping around his waist. Kurt's sweet scent surrounds him like a forgotten and yet welcome memory.
"I've got you," Blaine replies, touching Kurt's hands where they were clasped around his waist.
Blaine Anderson – he met Kurt Hummel because of so many mistakes he'd made. He'd also lost Kurt Hummel because of those same mistakes.
As they pull away from the curb, Blaine Anderson shifts so Kurt's warmth is close against his back.
He's not going to lose him again – not for one single stupid mistake, not for many.