Title: I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends
Author: aspiringtoeloquence (mybriefeternity)
Word Count: ~5,000
A/N: With thanks to both Caitlin (Keitorin Asthore), for her generous loan of Mollie Hummel (and for letting me plot this out to her one night with lots of run on sentences), and Caroline (CarolineShea), for the wonderful, fast, and helpful beta ( and for holding my hand and guiding me through the lj comm posting experience). Title from the White Stripes song of the same name.
There was only one box left to go. Blaine had taken Kurt's request that he be there to help him go through some of the old boxes from his childhood that were still packed up, left over from the move, for what it was – a gesture of love and trust. He knew that a part of Kurt hadn't expected him to say yes – the part that was still getting used to the newness of their intimacy; the difference a best friend and the best friend who wanted to be – and now was – so much more.
Blaine couldn't think of anywhere he'd rather be.
They'd sorted through clothes and photographs, and Kurt was dividing things into piles to keep, store in the attic, check with his father, and, in the case of obvious trash, throw away.
Blaine was technically helping, but most of all he was there to listen and watch.
He loved the way Kurt's tongue stuck out slightly as he considered each sweater ("See? Even as a child was fabulous. Although perhaps not the paisley.") He loved listening to the stories behind the photographs in the dusty albums they rifled through ("You know that picture on the wall in the kitchen? This was done the same day. Mom was teaching an art class, and I sat in... I was six. Obviously I had a keen sense of color, though.")
Blaine felt like this might be a gift for both of them. It seemed like Kurt needed to share this with him as much as Blaine valued learning it all.
"Just one box left," Kurt said, placing it on his bed and sitting down next to it, brushing his bangs pack into place with his fingers."You up for it? We can go to dinner -"
"I'm good." Blaine crossed to wrap his arms around his boyfriend's shoulders. "We can eat after we finish." He picked up papers from the top of the box. "Spelling tests?"
Kurt took them. "From Mrs. Peters' class. Second grade." He smirked. "I always got gold stars."
"I'm impressed. My teacher only ever gave us silver."
A sigh. "I always suspected that I was dating below me."
"Well, I am mostly dating you for the free homework help...and, of course, your hair."
Kurt snorted, nudging him, then pulled out a notebook and flipped it open to a neatly written list of words that had been carefully copied several times in a child's careful print. "My mom helped me with spelling," he said. "We got our first test back near the end of first grade, and I'd only gotten a six out of ten. I made my mom spend that whole summer testing me."
"And then the gold stars," Blaine smiled. "Your mom was a good teacher."
"And a good mom," Kurt replied quietly.
"Kurt, are you sure you want to -"
Kurt looked up. "Yes. I mean, I like – I like you being... I like you being here with me, getting to know her. If you want." He angled his body slightly towards him. "She'd like you."
"I'm glad. I know I love her."
Kurt squeezed his hand briefly. "Maybe sometime you can come... visit her with me."
He squeezed back, then lifted Kurt's hand to place a quick kiss on his knuckles. "I'd be honored."
Kurt's lips twitched at the formal language, then he seemed to remember the box and cleared his throat, blushing. "Anyway..." he stood to put the papers in a pile. "Can you pull more stuff out of there? God, some of this stuff hasn't been gone through in years..."
Blaine smiled at him again. "Sure."
He knelt over the box, sifting through the papers, until his hand touched something solid. "Hey," he said, pulling it out, "did you make -"
And then he tilted his head, and he was seven years old all over again.
Blaine hadn't wanted to go to Casey McKay's party. She wasn't very nice, but her mother had made her invite everyone in their class, and when Blaine's mom had asked him if he'd like to go he hadn't been able to think of a polite reason not to. Which is why he found himself at Clay-tivity (which wasn't, Blaine suspected, a real word) on Saturday afternoon, sitting off to the side while Casey and her friends painted flowers on their plates and Jeremy Masters (Casey's boyfriend – they had held hands during recess on Friday) and the rest of the boys flicked paint all over each other's aprons.
It wasn't that he didn't like the kids in his class. He just didn't have a best friend in there. He got on with most of them, and played with a few at recess sometimes (he was pretty good at soccer, so when they played he always got picked), but there wasn't a real group he belonged to. Erin Reynolds had asked him one day if he'd like to be her boyfriend, and if they could eat lunch together, but he'd told her he didn't feel like he was ready for a commitment like that, because he didn't really want a girlfriend, but her braids were really neat, and his mom had given him an extra fruit roll-up, if she'd like to share. Would it be okay if they were just friends? So he sometimes ate with her. Or Alan and Ricky from Miss Hanson's class. Alan had a snoopy lunchbox that was pretty cool.
But he didn't particularly feel like painting flowers just then, especially not with that group, and he definitely didn't want to flick paint all over his nice blue apron. He was wearing his favorite sweater under it. And he didn't know what to paint on the vase he'd been given. It was just staring up at him in its complete and utter brown-ness.
He looked around. At the next table over were Casey and most of the girls, but past them, over in the corner, at a smaller table, sat a boy. But this boy was different from the boys in his class, who were at that moment being scolded by one of the chaperones for making a mess. This boy was holding a paintbrush over his small vase, head tilted thoughtfully, his pink tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he chose his next color. He was sitting by himself, but he looked content. Blaine looked back at his vase, over at the rest of the birthday party, then back at the boy.
After a moment he picked up his vase and brush, stood up awkwardly, and made his way over to the corner table. When the boy didn't notice him, intent on his work, he coughed politely, just like he'd seen his father do.
The boy turned to look at him. He had very blue eyes, Blaine noticed.
"Hello," the boy said politely. "Do you have a cold? There's a box of tissues over there."
"Hi, I was just... I just wondered if there was anyone..." Blaine took a deep breath and let the rest of the sentence rush out. "I was wondering if anyone was sitting here..."
The boy blinked at him. "Weren't you at the party?"
Blaine bit his lip. "Yes."
"Won't they miss you?"
He took a step back. "If you want to be by yourself then I -"
"No," he said quickly, scooting his stool over. "It's fine. I'm just – I'm Kurt. You can sit there." He pointed at the stool next to him. "I made purple, if you want some. And orange." He gestured to the paint pots.
Blaine grinned. "Cool." He put his vase on the table. "My name's Blaine."
"Blaine," Kurt repeated to himself, passing him the yellow. "That's a nice name."
"It's with an 'i'," Blaine offered. "And thanks. Your name is nice too."
Kurt made a noise of approval as he dipped the brush in the blue paint. "So the girl, your friend whose birthday it is -"
"Casey," Blaine provided with little enthusiasm.
"Is she having fun?"
Blaine shrugged towards the giggling girls. "I suppose." He looked around. "Are you here for a party too?"
The boy – Kurt, Blaine reminded himself with a smile – had his tongue out again as he traced a blue line around the rim of his vase. "No."
Blaine frowned. "You're here by yourself? Where's your chap-rone? Isn't your mommy here?"
Kurt rolled his eyes as he turned back, just like Blaine had seen adults do. "Of course she is, Blaine." He pointed to the open double doors, just a few feet away, that led to the other part of the store. Blaine could see people sitting at tables in there while a pretty lady showed them how to make things. "My mom is an art teacher."
"She works here?" Blaine exclaimed. "That must be cool!"
Kurt shook his head. "Not all the time. Mostly she works at schools, but her friend works here and she has the flu, so my mom and I drove over to help. It took a long time to drive here."
"How long?" Blaine asked. His aunt lived in Tennessee and it took ages to drive to visit her. Maybe Kurt lived there too.
"Two plays of my Little Mermaid tape," Kurt said seriously. "The story with the underwater garden."
That sounded like a long time. "Wow," Blaine said, suitably impressed.
"Yeah," Kurt agreed, then frowned. "You aren't painting."
He fidgeted nervously. "I don't really know how..."
"How to paint?" Kurt asked, looking at him funny.
"No! I mean, obviously I can..." Blaine squirmed a bit more. "I don't know which colors to pick."
"What's your favorite?"
"Blue," He replied truthfully, which was interesting, because until that day he'd always thought it was red.
Kurt handed him the blue pot. "Now, what would you like to be on it?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. Yours is cool."
"I know it is. But what do you want to paint?"
Blaine thought about it. He tilted his head to the side and stuck his tongue out – that seemed to have worked for Kurt. "Waves might be cool," he eventually suggested. When Kurt smiled he internally congratulated himself.
"Oooh, waves would be good! Maybe here... or here... try them."
A few minutes later Blaine's vase had clumsy waves lapping at the bottom. "You should be an art teacher," he told Kurt, "like your mom."
Kurt turned pink, looked down shyly, and dipped his yellow coated paintbrush in the blue paint. Blaine decided not to mention it, because Kurt looked nice when he smiled. "I'm only seven."
"I'm seven too!" Blaine offered, because he and Kurt had something in common. Maybe they could be friends.
"My mom is a good teacher, but I think I'm better at de-signing – picking stuff out."
Blaine was confused. "Like what?"
"Like, clothes, and colors and stuff," Kurt elaborated. Blaine noticed that under his pristine apron he wore a green checked shirt with a white bow tie – just like they wore in the old movies. It was kinda neat. Oh, Kurt was talking again. "But I really want to be -" he bit his lip. "Never mind."
Now Blaine wanted to know. "No, tell me. I want to know. Please!"
Kurt was pink again. "I haven't told anyone except my mommy."
"Not even your best friend?"
Kurt looked down. "I don't really have a best friend," he admitted.
"Oh." Blaine tried not to smile at this information. He was really lucky, and surprised. Kurt was awesome.
There was a pause as Kurt went back to his own vase and Blaine decided to try to add some white to his waves to make them more swirly. And maybe some green, so they were more like the grey color, a little mysterious. (Mysterious was a word Blaine had just learnt from his daddy, because it had been in the book he was reading at bedtime. He didn't know how to spell it, but he'd gotten a star sticker from Ms. Friedman for using it correctly in a sentence.) He forced himself to be mysterious for a minute before speaking.
"You know," he said casually, "we could be best friends."
Kurt looked at him. "You – you'd want that?"
"Yeah!" said Blaine, temporarily forgetting that he was mysterious. "I mean, if you want to. And then you can tell me your secret, and I'll tell you one of mine."
Kurt kept looking at him. "Why?"
"Why do you want to be best friends?"
This was not a question that Blaine had expected. This best friend thing was more difficult than he had thought it would be. "Because... you're really nice. And you're good at art, and you didn't make fun of me when I didn't know what to paint, and you helped me, and because I like you. And you have a nice name." He paused. "And I like your bow-tie."
Kurt blinked some more, and Blaine wondered if that had been the wrong answer, even though his parent said to always tell the truth. Then Kurt smiled again.
"Okay," he said happily. "We can be best friends."
Blaine wasn't sure of the etiquette. "Should I give you something? Is that what best friends do?"
"I thought we were telling each other secrets."
"We are. I meant something we can see."
"Oh." He thought about this.
"I know!" Blaine exclaimed. "I'll give you my vase. Then it can remind you of me."
"But aren't you going to give that to your mommy or daddy?"
"I made them cups," Blaine said. "I finished earlier, while the boys were fighting. That's why I got my vase. I want you to have it when I'm done."
Kurt turned pink again. "Okay." He hesitated. "This vase is for my mommy, but I made a bowl earlier, if you'd like." He reached across the table to where a small bowl sat and handed it to Blaine. It was dry and glazed already, simply decorated so that the white and yellow made it look like the sun shone out of it. "My mom helped me," Kurt admitted, " but I did most of it by myself." He pointed to a small 'K' on the bottom. "See?"
"Woah," Blaine said. "That is so cool."
"Thanks." Kurt frowned. "But I didn't make it especially for you. I'll have to make you something else, so we're proper best friends."
"No you don't," Blaine argued. "This is awesome."
"Give me your hand," Kurt ordered.
Blaine frowned back. "Why?"
A click of his tongue. "Give me your hand."
Kurt rolled his eyes. "Please, Blaine with an 'i', give me your hand."
Blaine grinned and held out his arm. "Okay." Kurt took his hand and Blaine noticed that his skin was really soft.
"My mommy has special lotion," Kurt explained. "It smells like apples."
Blaine sniffed appreciatively as Kurt dipped his brush in the red paint and touched it to his friend's palm.
Blaine giggled. "That tickles!"
"Stay still," he instructed.
He did his best, and a few brushstrokes later Kurt pulled away, his tongue sticking out again, and nodded. "There."
Blaine looked down at the red heart carefully outlined on his palm.
"Now we're best friends," Kurt said happily. He noticed his mother waving from where she could see him throughout her class. "Hi, Mommy!" He waved back. Blaine decided to wave too (with his unpainted hand. He didn't want to mess up his present).
"Yes," he agreed, picking up his brush, "best friends. So now you can tell me your secret."
Kurt paused, then leaned in. "Well, if you promise you won't tell."
"I promise," Blaine said solemnly.
"Well, I really like... I really like to sing."
Blaine lit up. "Me too!" He made a face. "Why is that a secret?"
"Because," Kurt explained patiently, painting a green line on his paper placemat absently, "sometimes the other kids at school make fun of me, because they say it's stupid and girly. But my mom says that they're just jealous, because I sound like an angel." His chest puffed out a little before he tilted his head curiously. "Do you really like singing too?"
"Yeah, I like singing with movies and stuff. And my mom says I can start piano lessons when I turn eight." He thought for a second. "I don't think singing is girly. I don't think you're stupid... or girly. I think you're really smart and nice. And a boy," he added as an afterthought.
"You're nice and smart too," Kurt said quietly. "What's your favorite song?"
"To sing along with in the movies. What's your favorite?"
Blaine considered this. "Have you seen Beauty and the Beast?"
It was Kurt's turn to light up. "Yeah," he breathed.
"Well, the candle is my favorite."
"Lumière?" Kurt pronounced it carefully.
"Yeah, him. But I also like the song at the beginning, about Belle."
"I know that one!" Kurt exclaimed.
"What's your favorite movie song?"
Blaine started absently glazing his vase as Kurt responded.
"Well, I really like Ariel's song," he quietly confessed.
"From The Little Mermaid?"
"Will you sing some for me?"
Kurt turned pink again. "Right now?"
"Yeah! Please? I don't know all the words to that one, but I'll sing with you."
"People will see."
Blaine shrugged. "So?" He took a deep breath. "Look at that stuff! Isn't it neat? Nanana think nanananana 'plete!"
"It's 'my collection's complete'", Kurt informed him, looking anxiously around.
"Come on, you have to sing with me. You're my best friend." He held up his hand to show the heart, which had dried. "See?"
Kurt crossed his arms. "You made that rule up," he accused.
"But who cares! No big deal! I want mooooooooore," Blaine chirped, earning indulgent looks from the adults in the room, curious ones from the other children, and a smile from Kurt's mother, who had stopped by the door to listen.
"Fine," Kurt hissed. "Fine, I'll sing if you'll be quieter."
Blaine sat himself more comfortably on the stool, and after a deep breath Kurt began to sing quietly.
"I want to be where the people are... I want to see, want to see them dancing. Walking around on those, what do you call 'em?"
"Feet," Blaine provided after a moment.
"I know," said Kurt. "I was acting."
"Oh," Blaine responded, kind of distracted by how pretty Kurt's voice was.
"I'm going to skip to the chorus now," Kurt warned.
"Out where they walk, out where they run, out where they stay all day in the sun... wandering free, wish I could be, part of your world..."
"Wow," Blaine breathed. "You're really good at singing."
Kurt smiled at him, pink again. "Thank you. So are you."
There was another pause.
"My favorite part is where the prince and Ariel live happily ever after," Blaine offered. "Or Sebastian. He's cool. I ate a crab once, but I don't think it was Sebastian."
"I'd like that to happen to me," Kurt said.
"No... have a handsome prince save me."
Blaine scratched his head. "Don't you have to do the saving?"
"My mommy says that anyone can save anyone. I asked her, and she said that love is love."
Blaine processed this new information. "Hey, Kurt?"
Kurt was finishing his vase. "Mmmhm?"
"I could save you from an evil sea witch. If, you know, you wanted."
Kurt looked over. "Really?"
"Yeah, I mean... if you would save me too."
Kurt considered this. "Deal," he nodded.
Blaine was adding a few finishing touches to his vase as Kurt's mommy came over.
"Alright, baby, we should get home to see Daddy." She smiled at Blaine, who noticed that she looked quite pale. "Hello."
"This is Blaine," Kurt informed her. "He's my best friend and he made me a vase and I made him a bowl."
Her smile widened. Kurt looked a lot like his mommy when he smiled. "That's wonderful." Blaine made sure the glaze on the vase was dry before handing it to Kurt, who showed it off.
"Blaine is seven too, Mommy."
"Well, that's a coincidence! Kurt, baby, I'm afraid we really do have to get going. It was so nice to meet you, Blaine, and that you saw each other – you two looked like you were having fun over here."
"We were," Kurt said as he slid off his apron. "Blaine is fun."
"It was nice to meet you, m'am," Blaine said in his best grown-up voice.
"My students all call me Ms. Mollie, Blaine, but don't you have lovely manners? Kurt, say goodbye for now, and I'm sure you'll see each other at school -"
Blaine was about to say that they didn't go to school together, but it would be really fun if they did, when someone called Ms. Mollie's name and she turned.
"Oh, Kurt, I have to go talk to Miss Monica, can you say goodbye and meet me over by the door?" When he nodded she waved across the table. "Bye, Blaine!"
"By Ms. Mollie," he replied. "Your mom is really nice. I wish I had her as an art teacher. She's really pretty too."
Kurt frowned slightly. "Pretty?"
"Yeah, she looks like you."
Kurt blushed again, then giggled. "She thought that you go to my school."
Blaine looked over towards his classmates. "I wish I did."
Kurt scooted closer and squeezed his hand. "Me too. So I'll see you soon?"
"Yeah..." Blaine was kind of confused on the details, but Kurt seemed to want to stay best friends, and that was enough for him. "We can watch The Little Mermaid."
"And Beauty and the Beast," Kurt offered generously. "Thank you for my vase." He picked it up carefully.
"Thank you for my bowl." Blaine toed the carpet shyly. "I really like us being friends."
There was a moment of silence and then Blaine was flung back a step, and he realized that Kurt had thrown himself at him, his arms wrapped around his shoulders. Kurt was only a little bit shorter than him. He wrapped his arms around Kurt's waist and squeezed.
After a long moment they both pulled away.
"Bye Blaine," Kurt chirped as he hurried off to take his mother's hand, vase carefully and securely cradled to his side.
Blaine watched as Kurt and his mom left the store, then jumped as Erin and Jackson came over to borrow the purple. He spent the rest of the party excited to tell his mom about his new friend, glancing at the heart on his palm whenever he got the chance, tracing it with his index finger. He realized that he didn't know when he was supposed to see Kurt again.
Maybe his mom would know.
"Blaine, can you pass me the -" Kurt turned from his closet and let out a breath. "Oh my god, I haven't thought about that in ages! It used to be on my mom's desk before – which is funny, because I didn't actually make it. My mom was teaching a class at one of those tacky ceramics shops, and I ran into this little boy and he painted it for me. It was just at the beginning of second grade, I think, and the kids had just started to notice that I was different, you know. Anyway, I met this boy, and I had a total crush on him, though I didn't know it at the time. But he was really nice. I never knew his last name, though, so I never saw him again. I was so upset. I couldn't watch Beauty and the Beast for -" he tilted his head. "Actually, now that I think about it, his name was -" He froze.
"Blaine," his best friend offered, not moving. "His name was Blaine."
They stared at each for a minute.
"No way," Kurt said. "There's no way -"
"Clearly there is," he pointed out. "You sang Part of Your World and we promised we'd be best friends forever."
"This is statistically improbable," Kurt argued, looking around as though an explanation might appear.
"And yet here we are."
There was another silence.
"You didn't try to find me," Kurt said, trying not to make it sound like an accusation.
"Do you realize how many Kurts there are in Ohio?" Blaine countered. "You didn't find me either."
"I cried myself to sleep for a week," Kurt bit out.
"I dragged my mother to the mall every Saturday for two months. They wouldn't give us your information, and I never saw your mom there."
Kurt paused, then sat down on the bed next to the box. "She died that winter," he said. "She didn't teach much after that day..."
"Oh." Blaine looked up and met his boyfriend's eyes. "I didn't wash my hand for a week."
"That's very unhygienic," Kurt offered, but he was smiling a little. "But don't think I didn't notice that you didn't give me a heart."
"Yes I did."
Kurt gave him a look. "I'd remember that Blaine. You didn't."
Blaine gestured to the vase on the bed between them. "Look at the base."
Kurt glanced at him cautiously before he grabbed it and turned it over to find a clumsily painted heart sandwiched between a sloppy 'B' and 'K'.
"Oh," he said.
"I was seven," Blaine defended. "I wasn't good at romance."
"I like that you use the past tense."
Blaine nudged him then noticed a folded piece of paper on the bed. "This fell out."
"I didn't keep anything in there, and it's been in that box since..."
Blaine shrugged and handed it to him. Kurt unfolded it.
"It's a list," he frowned. "Jefferson, Vista Heights, Minnow's Lane..."
"Schools," Blaine realized. "They're elementary schools."
"Several are checked off. This is my mom's handwriting."
"She was looking for something?"
Kurt closed his eyes after a pause. "She was looking for you."
"Your name is at the bottom of the page," he said quietly. "She saw me crying and she – she was trying to find you. But she didn't. Because she got sick."
Blaine watched his blue eyes fill and reached for his hand at the same time he spoke. "Maybe she did."
"I'm here, aren't I?"
Kurt stiffened slightly. "You know I don't believe -"
"I know. But I do. In something bigger, anyway. I do."
He sniffed, but let their fingers intertwine. "This is all highly improbable."
Blaine smiled. "And yet here we are. Your bowl is still in my room, you know. On my bookshelf."
"I didn't notice it."
"Well, most of our time in there is pretty busy," Blaine pointed out, and they both blushed. He reached behind him to the open back of permanent markers they had been using to label boxes.
"Give me your other hand."
"Why?" Kurt asked as he immediately obliged, a smile forming on his lips.
"Because it's my turn." He uncapped the red sharpie and drew a careful heart on his boyfriend's palm.
"That's quite a commitment, Blaine," Kurt smiled. "Are you sure?"
"Always was," he grinned.
Kurt rolled his eyes and muttered something about the GAP, which Blaine decided to ignore (they had so had that conversation).
"I'm hungry," Kurt announced. "Want to go downstairs?"
"Don't I get one?" Blaine pouted.
"You got one already," he pointed out. "...fine." He took the sharpie and inked a matching one on Blaine's hand (tongue sticking out) before he pressed their palms together. "There. Happy?"
"I am," he confirmed. "You?"
"Yeah, I think so. Let's go. Movie and dinner until people get home?"
"The Little Mermaid?"
"I was thinking Beauty and the Beast." Kurt took the paper and slipped it back in the case, then set it on his dresser.
"Are you going to leave that there?" Blaine asked. "It doesn't exactly match the décor."
"It's the first present you gave me." He smiled softly, tugging on his hand. "C'mon, you get grumpy when I don't feed you."
Blaine let himself be pulled downstairs, glancing back from the door to the waves he had painted long ago, attempting to capture a special shade, and sent a brief thank you to whoever was listening.
Especially if it was Mollie.
When Kurt went to bed that night his eyes were drawn to the vase – a standout in his immaculately coordinated bedroom. After he hung up the phone, and feeling absurd, he uttered a quick "thanks, mom" into the darkness. He immediately felt ridiculous, but he let himself, just for a minute, wrap himself in the complexities of life, luck, and whatever else might be.
And then Kurt Hummel went to sleep and dreamed about his boyfriend, who had been his best friend for longer than either of them had realized.
The Mollie in his dreams smiled with them.