This is my first multi-chapter Klaine fic, inspired by the acoustic version of John Mayer's "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room". I was drawn to the atmosphere and the raw emotion of this version of the song, which can be found at www [dot] youtube [dot] com/watch?v=g-1OieJ9HK0. Most of all, this is a dialogue driven, relationship exploring, character building fic. However, don't despair - I was only inspired by certain lyrics in the song, definitely not all of them! There will be happy Klaine to be found - as the story has developed, it has been moulded by many songs. This is canon up to Silly Love Songs, which it picks up after - though some things will still stay the same as in later canon, like the songs sung by New Directions at Regionals. I hope you enjoy it!
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
Kurt Hummel was not one who could just tell his feelings to give up, any more than he could magically wake up one morning and decide not to be gay.
After the Valentine's Day Confession in the Lima Bean, and the blessed relief of easy friendship that reappeared while singing "Silly Love Songs", he had honestly tried to put aside his feelings for Blaine. An outright rejection should be enough to keep you down, he told them sternly, trying to lock them away behind a wall of a cappella arrangements and Vogue covers in his mind. But they refused to go, continually sneaking tendrils through cracks and over ledges where Kurt had not built the walls solidly or high enough.
And at times like this, when Blaine's coffee-warmed hand grabbed his over the table, Kurt's feelings gleefully exploded and flooded through his body.
'Yes? Sorry, Blaine. You have my full attention.' Kurt yanked himself back to reality and looked at Blaine expectantly, alert, ignoring the skim of a palm over his knuckles.
Blaine shot him a fond smile. 'I need a favour,' he said. 'Dalton's sister school, Crawford Country Day, throws this big charity night every year - you know, performances, dinner, auctions. The Warblers do a number, which we'll be rehearsing this week, but my friend Sarah's on the organising committee, and she asked me to do another song...'
'And let me guess - you know my voice would be just perfect to fill out the top of the "doo doo doos" being sung in the background,' Kurt said dryly.
Blaine chuckled. 'Nah, I already recruited three sophomores for that. I was kinda hoping that maybe you'd do a duet with me.'
Kurt only had to flash back for a second to a room, fire-lit and warm in spite of the Christmas chill... Blaine's smooth voice following him around the room, coaxing him to stay...
'I'd be happy to,' Kurt said, leaning back from the table and hiding his eagerness behind his coffee cup.
'Tell me again why, of all the music in the world, we're doing an Alexander Rybak song for the Crawford charity night? He can't even sing,' Kurt said derisively, as Warblers rehearsal came to an end.
Blaine rolled his eyes at Wes as he answered. 'Our esteemed Councilman decided that it was nauseatingly sappy enough to win over the hearts and phone numbers of every girl in the audience.'
Wes sat down on the leather sofa on the other side of Blaine, squishing him across and into Kurt. Kurt forced himself not to map the join of their bodies, shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm, thigh to thigh, all burning with warmth.
'What Blaine is failing to mention is that the only reason any of us know any Alexander Rybak son- mmph.' Wes was momentarily cut off as Blaine slapped a hand over the older boy's mouth. Wes pushed it away with a smirk, and continued, 'Blaine had a crush on him last year. Watched every video on Youtube that he could find. About twelve times.'
Blaine flushed slightly as Kurt laughed, and dug his elbow into Wes's ribs in retaliation. 'Wes, can we use the choir room now? Kurt and I need to practice our number.'
Wes pulled himself off the couch, shaking his head. 'Sorry, Blaine. Liam beat you to it.'
Blaine flopped back against the sofa for a moment, frowning, before his face brightened and he grabbed Kurt's hand, pulling him up and snagging his guitar from a nearby wall. 'You still up for practice now?' he asked, already halfway across the room with Kurt in tow.
'Sure!' Kurt replied, a little breathless. 'But where are we going?'
'You'll see,' Blaine said with a grin. 'You have to promise not to complain, because it's one of my favourite places in the whole school.'
That didn't sound promising. Kurt faltered slightly, looking at Blaine suspiciously; but Blaine just laughed at him, still pulling him by the hand, up flights of stairs and down corridors until they were on the top floor, at the very edge of the school. Then, with a flourish, Blaine tugged a dangling cord, and a ladder appeared from the ceiling. Dust particles floated out of the opening, catching in the afternoon light.
Kurt stopped. 'No. Blaine Anderson, I am not going to practice in an attic. I can see the inches of dust caking everything from here!'
'Kurt, it's just your uniform. It'll wash.'
'I'll ignore what you just said in favour of pointing out that not only will clothes be ruined, but also hair, and skin, and with that much dust, probably vocal chords! Do you want to explain to Wes why our vocal chords end up fossilised less than two weeks before Regionals?'
Blaine chose not to buy into Kurt's growing semi-hysteria, instead stepping behind him and pushing him firmly towards the ladder as Kurt whimpered slightly. When Kurt didn't start climbing, Blaine stepped closer, his chest almost pressing against Kurt's back. Leaning forward, Blaine said quietly, 'Please? Kurt, you promised.'
Blaine's warm breath was sweeping across Kurt's neck and caressing his ear. Kurt didn't know what words were being uttered, too transfixed by the sheer bliss of sensation. When Blaine's hands caught him under the arms, gently urging him upwards, Kurt climbed the ladder without a second thought. It wasn't until he was standing in the dim, stuffy attic, broken free from Blaine's hands, that he realised he'd been manipulated; and, as the back of his neck tingled slightly, that he didn't care.
Blaine hoisted himself up a moment later, guitar in hand once more, and pulled the ladder up behind him, plunging the room back into darkness. With surprising accuracy he then darted for the wall, and fumbling with what sounded like a latch, opened the shutters on a fair sized window opening into the slanting roof. The sunlight outside streamed through, catching the dust that Blaine had thrown up. Kurt's breath caught as Blaine turned to look at him - with the sunlight and dust swirling behind him, it looked like he was haloed by dancing particles of gold.
Below the window was a battered leather bench, easily wide enough for two and surprisingly dust free. Blaine casually settled himself on it, resting his guitar on his knee.
Kurt raised an eyebrow. 'Come here often?'
'Often enough. It's quiet here, a lot more private than the choir room, and...' he paused, looking slightly sheepish. 'Well, it always feels a little brighter and warmer up here, since we're closer to the sun.'
And with such an endearing, innocent admission like that, how could Kurt be mad about the filth already clinging to his shoes?
'Right,' Blaine said after a pause, sitting up straighter. 'Shall we get started? You should know the song - but here's the sheet music.' After pulling some paper out of his backpack and handing it to Kurt, Blaine began to strum a simple tune that Kurt recognised immediately.
The dawn is breaking
A light shining through
You're barely waking
And I'm tangled up in you
I'm open, you're closed
Where I follow, you'll go
I worry I won't see your face
Light up again
Kurt almost missed his cue to start the chorus. His mind was flying in a million directions - the smooth slide of Blaine's voice in the air, pulling his spirit in close - the achingly beautiful image that the first verse conjured, one that he wanted so badly - and a wild hope that the lyrics could mean something, anything. He had to fiercely remind himself that Blaine was possibly the most clueless gay boy to ever grace the planet, and he would be selecting songs for the audience, not the performers. He pulled himself together to sing:
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find
You and I collide
They both paused for the brief point where the sophomores would be singing. Kurt sat next to Blaine on the bench, but turned his face away. He knew what was coming next.
I'm quiet you know
You make a first impression
I've found I'm scared to know
I'm always on your mind
Even despite telling himself Blaine was clueless, that line was like a physical blow, coming from Blaine's mouth. I'm sorry! Kurt's mind shouted. He was trying, he really was. He just couldn't help it. Their voices joined together for the chorus, but still Kurt looked away.
'Don't stop here,' Kurt sang.
'I lost my place,' Blaine returned, before his and Kurt's voices joined together again.
I'm close behind
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
You finally find
You and I collide
'You finally find, you and I collide,' Kurt sang, almost whispering.
'You finally find, you and I collide.' Blaine's final note was a conclusion and an agreement and a rejection all at once.
Clueless, Kurt reminded himself a final time, and couldn't keep in a sigh. He still hadn't turned to look at Blaine, and jumped when he felt something heavy land on his shoulder. He turned to see Blaine's face near his own, the tanned cheek resting against Kurt's shoulder.
'That was great,' Blaine said, both his voice and smile very soft. 'We're going to be great.'
They stayed in the attic for awhile, soaking up the sunlight on their backs and talking quietly. Kurt had to admit to himself, it did almost feel warmer up here than it had in the sun on any of the lower levels. He barely noticed when Blaine's arm twined around his waist, he was so sated by the sunbeams and quiet, easy chatter with his best friend.
Kurt and Blaine rehearsed often over the next few days, sometimes in the choir room with the sophomores, who sang their "doo doo doos" without complaint; but more often than not they were in the attic, blazers off, singing quietly together in the golden mix of dust, light and music. One day, they arrived together at Warblers practice with grime still all over their shoes and blazers. (Blaine had thoughtlessly tossed the garments off the bench and onto the floor so he could sit down, and not even Kurt's thorough beating had been able to get the grey, sticky powder off.) David asked where they'd been that they could get so dirty, and Kurt realised that Blaine had never taken anyone else into his hiding spot.
Friday came, and Wes ran through the halls in a blind panic; he grabbed every Warbler in sight, and even some boys who just looked like Warblers, and demanded to know if they'd realised Regionals was a week away from today. He almost tried to pull the entire choir out of the Crawford Country Day charity night, before David gently led him off into their dorm, replacing the phone in Wes's hand with a gavel and muttering soothing noises.
That night, Blaine and Kurt performed "Collide" to a room packed full of teenage girls, their parents, and alumni of the school. He supposed Wes's brief for song selection of "get girls' phone numbers" had been filled when, to his surprise, he found three in his hand after the show.
He tried not to smirk when Blaine moved to his side, wrapped his hand around Kurt's elbow, and said, 'Sorry, ladies, but he plays for my team.' Unfortunately, instead of smirking, Kurt blushed instead.
On Monday morning, Blaine burst into the study hall and started an impromptu performance of "Misery" that soon had all the Warblers, and many others, singing and dancing in the corridor like loons. Kurt tried to swallow his jealousy and sing along, but found that it started to choke him when Blaine announced that the song was to be their opening number for Regionals. When Blaine asked Kurt what he thought of the song afterwards, he almost made a snide comment about "Blaine and the Pips", until something in Blaine's face stopped him. There, hidden just in the corners of his eyes, was a vulnerability that Kurt hadn't seen before - and just as he recognised the vulnerability, he recognised with a slight shock that he could easily exploit it. Blaine actually cared about what Kurt had to say. The wrong words could hurt both Blaine's feelings and confidence.
So instead, Kurt just told Blaine that he was great, as always. Blaine grinned at him, squeezed his fingers, and told Kurt to keep Thursday night free.
Kurt spent the rest of the morning with Pavarotti, but didn't try to make the bird sing.