The reality check, the energy
Strangely, the withdrawal from the constant spotlight that the Warblers gave him was refreshing. He finds that he actually likes hanging behind and watching- it's different in such a nice way. With the Warblers, their rehearsals were clean and neat and well-choreographed. With New Directions, they let it all go and just sing. Everyone is constantly interacting- Kurt pulls Blaine close and then into a twirl, Santana shimmies up against his back, Mike drums on his shoulders. Blaine's taken aback by the differences that come with the shedding of a navy blazer. There's a pulsing energy, an intensity that the organized doo-wopping of the Warblers never brought.
They're singing Grease one day, a vibrant rendition of "We Go Together", and Kurt comes up behind Blaine, wraps his arms over Blaine's shoulders and sways him along to the music. He gets close up to Blaine's ear and sings out "A womp bop a looma…A WOMP BAM BOOM!" He grabs Blaine's hand with one of his during the instrumental, puts the other hand on Blaine's waist and holds out their arms in a dramatic tango of a dance. He dips Blaine, waltzes him around the room, throws his arms around Blaine's neck with a beam on his lips when the song ends.
Oddly enough, Kurt couldn't have done that at Dalton. But Blaine really, really likes it.
The infrequent, but well-deserved kisses
They had about a month as a couple at Dalton. It afforded them little kisses after Blaine handed Kurt a piece of sheet music at Warbler practice, not-very-little kisses when Kurt walked Blaine back to his dorm room 5 minutes before curfew. They were fantastic, they were perfect, they were everything that made Blaine wake up in the morning, but still. It was only a month. But McKinley's different than Dalton. At McKinley, there's no sea of well-mannered boys in blue and red blazers who gave soft smiles whenever they saw Kurt and Blaine kiss. At McKinley, there are swarms of football players who give limp wrists when they walk past Blaine as he brushes Kurt's hand on his way to French class. They sure as hell can't kiss in the hallways like they could at Dalton (briefly and within reason, of course, because Kurt had a fairly strict PDA policy).
But it's become a sort of sinfully exciting game to find covert places to indulge themselves in the other- because seriously, they're going to the same school now, they're going to make this happen as much as possible. Backstage in the auditorium, when New Directions had filed out after group numbers, they could tuck themselves behind the heavy velvet curtains and redden and raw their lips, skate their hands along the other's back. They scout out abandoned classrooms, rather creepy janitor's closets- once they even both skipped out on an all-school assembly so they could have the hallways to themselves (it wasn't actually the best idea; they both kept jerking away to survey the surroundings every other second). Being confined to less accepting walls is infuriating, but also made it all the better when they could finally put their hands on each other- sweeter, more valuable.
It meant even more, though, when they could have the rare kiss in front of New Directions- when the timing was just right. Like when Blaine finished his first solo in front of all of them in the actual choir room and had uncomfortably shuffled back to his seat next to Kurt in the back corner of the room, and Kurt had just slipped his hand up Blaine's jawline to cup his cheek and pressed a fragile kiss to his lips. It was a quiet kiss, and nobody seemed to notice- and if they did, nobody cared. The slow smiles that spread across their lips after they pulled away were just the same as anyone else's.
The passing of notes
Kurt, I'm finding it difficult to concentrate. Can you possibly guess why?
Because the Spanish-American War isn't terribly intriguing?
Nope (I'll have you know that I'm actually rather fascinated with the explosion of the USS Maine). I will give you a hint. He's wearing a rather dashing purple silk bow tie.
Oh, damn. Puckerman is looking quite handsome today.
HA. HA. HA.
Oh wait, did you mean me?
You're hysterical, Kurt Hummel. Really.
I can't help it. But I have to focus, Blaine. Back to work, back to work! Allons-y!
Speak French more, please.
Tu as complètement ridicule. Mais je t'aime.
I love you, too.
The lack of blazer did take some getting used to, yes, but Blaine likes the freedom of wearing what he wants. But more than that, he loves Kurt in his clothes. It's not like he hasn't seen them before, of course, but it's always something new. It's an adventure just to see what he would put on every day.
Blaine spends entire class periods tracking the cashmere swoop of his sweater that drags down to show a little bit of dipping expanses of pale collarbone, the sharp neatness of the juts of his bowties, the silk-wound lines of waistcoats that curve around his chest. He watches, mesmerized, as Kurt sometimes traces his finger around his own collar or dips into the hollow of his throat, like he knows Blaine's watching, like he knows he's driving him crazy.
Clothes had never meant what they now meant before Kurt came along. Before Kurt, clothes were a nondescript white t-shirt that he prayed made him look like every other boy in his eighth-grade class and a dust-covered dinner jacket with angry rips on the sleeves and a destroyed boutonniere on the lapel. He hid behind them. But after Kurt, clothes were bright red pants and patterned bowties that Kurt meticulously selects for him. They're thick woolen scarves whose ends Kurt pulls towards himself for a kiss after he's wrapped it carefully around Blaine's neck. They're colors and fabrics and patterns and everything that Blaine was trying to hide. But this boy, this beautiful steadfast of a boy, isn't going to let him hide this time.
They all took a while to warm up to him- after Finn called him out for the piano-bonfire he had absolutely no part in, the New Directions boys sort of tiptoed around Blaine. And it was weird, because Blaine had spent the better part of his summer in the Hummel-Hudson house, piled on the couch playing Halo with Finn while Kurt perched on the side toying with Blaine's hair with his left hand and scribbling verses of Pip Pip Hooray with his right. So it was confusing when the same guy who he engaged in many an extreme water fight over the summer with was now giving him the cold shoulder. But then they talked, Blaine convincing Finn that he wasn't actually a solo-addicted monster sought on usurping the New Directions. And then it was fine. And then he found some of the best friends he had ever had. Kurt was his best friend, of course, and that's what was so perfect about their relationship, but Blaine thought, for his own sanity, it would be nice to find another best friend- one who he didn't want to kiss all the time, because it gets exhausting just not being able to.
After Blaine's talk with Finn, Mike's the first guy to acknowledge that Blaine actually isn't an arsonist and is, in fact, quite a nice person. Puck starts warming up to him quickly afterwards with a muffled apology as Blaine's leaving the choir room one day. And then Artie's inquiring to Blaine about his rap abilities for future collaborations and Brittany's asking if the Warblers have found a replacement Pavarotti yet (evidently Kurt had wept about the little guy to the girls after his death) because Lord Tubbington was looking for a companion.
And he finally feels like it's right- like he doesn't have to prove anything to any upperclassman leading the Warblers, like he finally has a group where he can just be Blaine and not Warbler-Blaine. Nobody's expecting anything from him- no authoritative leadership, no propriety that it was sometimes hard for a sixteen year old boy to harness- except friendship.
Yes, he's had his fair share of female cousins- Caroline, who was five years older and taught him how to woo third-grade girls when he was nine (long before she figured out that that wasn't really what Blaine was in the market to do), and Madeleine, who idolized him from the time she was four years old, and Charlotte, who he always kind of hated but didn't quite know why. He didn't make many friends, girl or boy, at his school pre-Dalton, and he understandably chose to spend his years at Dalton trying his hardest to not embarrass himself in front of the Warblers rather than seducing the Crawford Country Day girls.
But at McKinley, he's with girls all the time, observing them all the time, and realizing just how much work that can actually be.
Santana's his favorite. He had gotten to know her well during the frequent New-Directions-plus-Blaine pool parties over the summer, when she would lay sprawled on the end of the chaise that Kurt and Blaine were curled up in together. When she was with them, she was quiet, positively un-Santana. Her head would rest on Kurt's legs while she stared up at Kurt and Blaine. Blaine watched her stare, raw and unguarded, at Brittany, and it tore him apart. Santana didn't want to admit anything, but Blaine and Kurt had deduced as much about how she feels about Brittany. It's all over her face, written into the earnest concentration in her eyes. Blaine looks at Kurt like that, and he knows firsthand that not being able to act on that look could drive a guy up the wall.
He taps her shoulder one day after Brittany and Mike do a dance number together. He couldn't help but notice that she has on her perfected blend of pissed-off and completely-in-love. The pissed-off part is what he wants to alleviate- he can't help but try to help sometimes, even if it explodes in his face afterwards.
"What do you need, dwarf?" Santana snaps.
"Come on, Santana. Don't be like that. Will you talk to me?" Blaine drags her by the forearm to sit on the chair next to him. She tugs her arm away, shooting abashed glances to both sides.
"'Bout what?" she mumbles into her own fist.
"You know about what. Can you sit? Please?" Blaine continues pulling at her elbow until she breaks and sits down.
"Alright, why don't you start runnin' your pretty little prep school mouth." Santana begins to examine her fingernails.
"You're in love with her."
"Am I really that fucking obvious?" she says, her head still bowed as she picks at her cuticles. She's so rarely insecure- it's a twisted warp of Santana that's a little unnerving.
"I'm pretty sure the entire club knows." With that, Santana bites her bottom lip, squeezes her eyes closed to try to fight back tears.
"Fucking fabulous!" she exclaims brightly, flashing a sarcastically enthusiastic smile.
"But do you see how…okay they are? They don't care. They don't care that I'm in love with Kurt, they don't care that you're in love with Brittany." Blaine says, putting a hand on her shoulder. She glares at it disgustedly and Blaine quickly retracts it.
"It's not the club I'm worried about. It's this school. I'm absolutely fucking terrified." Her voice breaks on the last word.
"I know you are. I was too, when I came here. But Santana, you are quite literally the most confident girl I know, and if you can't do it, I don't know if anybody can. But I know you can. And just know that I'll be here for you, and Kurt will be here for you, and Brittany will sure as hell be here for you."
"Blanderson, I'm literally going to vomit all over your cardigan if you keep talking." Pressing red-manicured fingers to her temples, she closes her eyes and inhales deeply. Blaine presses his lips together to muffle his laugh, and then stands up out of his chair. There's a pause, where Blaine's just standing there in front of her while she's rubbing her head, and then she opens her eyes and doesn't quite let herself smile.
"Thank you, though." she all but mutters.
"It's all the truth. Really." He says, brushing his hand over her arm.
"Seriously, touch me again and I'll have your head."
The football games
Blaine drags Kurt to every single one of the Titans' games. Kurt protests, because they're loud and cold and Finn always turns into a douchebag when they actually do well and Kurt doesn't want to see him rip off his football pads and run around the field beating his chest if they win a game ("I've seen it happen, okay? He has the ability to turn into some kind of savage.").
But Blaine loves the games. Because there's the undeniable energy pulsing through the field and the stands, there's Santana cheerleading- in her element, happy, and there's Kurt snuggled up against his side with his head resting on Blaine's shoulder while he watches the game.
"So if they get the ball over the white line, that's a good thing, right?" Kurt says, muffled into Blaine's jacket. Blaine considers elaborating, but just whispers "Right." into Kurt's ear and kisses him quickly on the forehead. Blaine nestles closer to Kurt, curling the arm around Kurt's waist tighter.
"I'm cold…" Blaine whines. Kurt blinks up at him from his own shoulder and smirks.
"I told you that you wouldn't be warm enough in that jacket. I told you. And you were all, 'No, I'll be fine, I have a high tolerance for cold!' and I knew I was right because I'm always right, isn't that right?" Kurt's rambling now, his head still on Blaine's shoulder and his arm wrapped around Blaine's back.
"Yes, you were right." Blaine groans, grabbing Kurt's hand and rubs it up and down his own arm to warm it up. Kurt rolls his eyes, untwining his scarf from his neck and wrapping it around Blaine.
"There you go. Now watch the game."
"Just when I thought I couldn't love you any more." Blaine can feel his heart-eyes kicking in as he wraps Kurt up in his arms.
"You know, I used to be a cheerleader." Kurt whispers right into his ear.
"Alright, scratch that." Blaine kisses him and times it with the rumbling cheers that come from McKinley's first touchdown. Everyone's too excited to notice.
The lockers, his locker partner
Blaine requests a locker next to Kurt's, partly because he's terrified of getting one next to Azimio or any number of sweaty football players and partly because why wouldn't he want a locker next to his boyfriend?
On Blaine's first day of school, Kurt fiddles with the combination and opens his locker. The inside of the door is already decorated- when Kurt found the time, Blaine doesn't know.
"What's this?" Blaine runs his fingers over the picture frame of his own school portrait hanging on the door.
"That's you, Blaine." Kurt says, smiling as he pulls out his AP European History textbook. Blaine rolls his eyes.
"I deduced that much, believe it or not." says Blaine, pulling out his wallet from his back pocket.
"I've had it in there since like, the day after we met." Kurt says, leaning against the edge of Blaine's locker door. There's a sensation of security when he meets Kurt's eyes, an oasis where he can just go and be safe and never leave.
"Really? Well, I guess I have to get one too." Blaine declares, slipping a photo out of his wallet. It was taken over the summer by Blaine himself, a little bit of his extended arm making its way into the photo. In it, Blaine is positively beaming and Kurt is mid-laugh, nestled into Blaine's chest with his hand over his mouth. Blaine flips it around to show Kurt.
"What about this one?" Blaine asks with a quirk of his eyebrow. Kurt presses his lips together, trying to fight a bigger smile than was already there. He nods rapidly, and Blaine swipes a piece of tape from Kurt's copious amount of school supplies and sticks it up on his door.
"I really want to kiss you right now." Kurt whispers, still leaning on the door and swaying a little bit.
"I really want to kiss you all the time. But especially right now." Blaine looks sadly at Kurt.
"I have you booked for kissing the second school gets out. Or the next time we see somewhere empty, whichever comes first." Kurt says, authoritative. Blaine nods.
"I'm going to hold you to that."
"Trust me, it's going to happen. What's your first class?" Kurt says, and Blaine glances down at his schedule.
"Alright, I'll come and meet you there after my class, okay? Good luck." Screw it, Kurt thinks, and wraps his arms around Blaine's neck, and Blaine's arms wrap around Kurt's waist, and they hold each other. Blaine will be just fine.
On Fridays, the carpool consists of Kurt, Blaine, and Finn. Finn does not drive, because he usually has a half-eaten everything bagel dangling out of his mouth and he tends to drum on the steering wheel in a dangerous fashion while listening to The Doors albums. Everyone just generally feels safer when Kurt drives.
Blaine and Finn have an ongoing shotgun battle. Whoever shouts it first within view of McKinley, they get the front seat for the next day. Blaine's been getting extraordinarily lucky with it the past few days, due to a couple of ill-timed early morning phone calls from Rachel regarding duet song choice emergencies that occupied Finn and took his attention off of his surroundings for a while. So he's gotten to sit in the front with Kurt for the past three Fridays (thank you, Rachel). And he just watches Kurt while he drives. He's extraordinarily concentrated, but always sings along to whatever music is playing. Between Blaine and Kurt, they can both agree on Gaga, but Finn sits in the back unimpressed, eyebrows furrowed in apathy. So Kurt's singing along to "Government Hooker" and Blaine's tapping his hand on his knee and staring at Kurt, trying not to think of certain things that the lyrics bring to mind because why, why this song?
"Dude…" Finn mutters from the back to Blaine through a mouthful of bagel.
"What?" Blaine snaps defensively as Kurt finishes up put your hands on me, John F. Kennedy, I'll make you squeal baby, as long as you pay me.
"Do you want to like, do Kurt right now? Because you totally have the bedroom eyes going on. And like, the bedroom open-mouth." Finn says matter-of-factly. Sputtering from shock, Blaine realizes that yeah, his mouth is kind of gaping open because his boyfriend is kind of putting really-inappropriate-for-7:45-a.m thoughts in his head and yeah, that's kind of embarrassing. Kurt's eyes go unnaturally wide.
"What? No! I don't want to do Ku- not that I don't want- I do, I just- wait- no! No!" Blaine stammers, glancing frantically around the car for someone to tell him what to say.
"STOP TALKING, BLAINE. STOP. STOP." Kurt hollers, his knuckles turning white from his grip on the steering wheel. In the backseat, Finn looks appropriately terrified.
"…I'm sorry." Blaine says under his breath, hanging his head and cursing his tongue. Kurt laughs, turning his head into his shoulder to muffle it. He puts his hand over Blaine's and traces a finger around his wrist.
"It's all right. Just…go over your words in your head before you say them. Same goes to you, actually." says Kurt, glaring at Finn in the backseat, who just holds his hands up in defeat.
Kurt holds Blaine's hand for the rest of the drive, fingers skating over his knuckles and rubbing contented circles. Blaine's had some not-so-shining moments in the front seat of the Navigator, but these ones certainly compensate for them- just Kurt's hand in his, just the shy smiles that he gives Blaine like when they first started dating, just the feeling that this boy is, and always will be, a constant.
But of course, he loves the boy most of all, because without the boy, he wouldn't have faced his demons. He wouldn't have gotten to prove to himself the courage he preached to others. He wouldn't have felt the most love he's felt for anyone in his whole life. He never actually thought he could love a boy this much, so much that it made his chest swell up and hurt sometimes, so much that his stomach still twisted up when Kurt kissed him, so much that he wanted to scream it out from the tops of the bleachers and over the PA system.
You saved me, Blaine wants to have the right time to say, because it's true. Nobody has taught him so much, loved him so fiercely, fixed for him everything that used to be so miserable about being who he was and just made it beautiful.
And at McKinley, he gets to spend every single day with the boy who saved him. There's never a minute spent apart- it's always them tucked closely at glee rehearsal together or them shuffling down the lunch line together or them finishing homework on the courtyard steps together, Blaine pointedly brushing Kurt's hand when he reached for his calculator or an extra eraser.
Kurt drives Blaine home one night after a late rehearsal for West Side Story, pulls up in the circular driveway and stops the car to just look at Blaine. His eyes rake over Blaine's face, over his throat and chest and hands. He clambers only slightly awkwardly over the center console to the passenger seat and kisses the breath out of Blaine, getting him dizzy and scatterbrained.
"Thank you so, so much." Blaine whispers onto Kurt's lips.
"I appreciate the manners, but you really don't have to thank me for kissing you, Blaine." Kurt says, hushed, while his thumb works circles onto Blaine's jaw.
"Not for the kiss. Well actually yeah for the kiss, but…but for McKinley. Thank you for McKinley."
"Yeah, it's a dream, isn't it?" Kurt drawls sarcastically. Blaine nods slowly, softly. Kurt lets a little smile break and he curls his arms around Blaine's neck, pulling him closer and tighter and inhaling in Blaine-scent and breathing rapidly up-and-down against his chest.
God, it really is a dream.