DISCLAIMER: I do not own Glee, Fox does. And Ryan Murphy. Title from "Some Boy" by Lillian Lorraine.
Warnings are: none for this chapter. The rating will be hovering around K-T for awhile, but it will eventually go up to M.
Reviewers, I hope you like this one :)
I am a huge, huuuuuuuge Titanic junkie, and quite frankly there are not near enough Titanic Klaine fics out there. And before you begin to wonder, no, this fic is not based on the movie. I love Jim, I adore the movie, but I want Kurt and Blaine to create their own adventure for this one. Some elements have remained the same to retain the whole romantic aspect of lovers aboard a doomed ship (first-third class romance), but mostly I tried to come up with my own things using the internet, my collection of books, and my gained knowledge.
TUMBLR IS THAT WAY
endofadream [.] tumblr [.] com
In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.
"Father, are you really still reading that issue of The Shipbuilder?" Kurt Hummel asks over breakfast, setting down his china mug daintily into the saucer, the taste of strong Earl Gray, no sugar or milk, still on his lips as he swallows. They haven't been in London long, but Kurt picks up habits quick and now, a few months into their stay, he almost like tea more than coffee. Almost.
His father, Burt Hummel, snorts a laugh and snaps the magazine in question closed, setting it down on the highly-polished dark oak table with a pointed stare at his son. "Now I'm not."
Kurt allows his lips to turn up at the corners in a small grin, glad that for once his father is feeling well. After the heart attack a few months ago they'd gone on a vacation of sorts to Britain, hoping to take some of the stress off of Burt and make him forget about work for once and just relax, and somewhere along the line of buying two first-class tickets for the White Star liner Olympic Burt had fallen in love. The Shipbuilder had just come out with a souvenir edition extolling the virtues of the Olympic and her brand-new sister ship, the Titanic, which was due to set sail in a few days. They'd gotten tickets as soon as possible.
Around them in the restaurant there are the dulled mutterings about the ship's upcoming maiden voyage as Kurt sees that more than one patron has their stylish face buried in The Shipbuilder. He allows himself a rare moment to look around and slip back into his old self, the one with starry eyes when it comes to the wealthy.
The ladies are, of course, overly trussed up in their heavy gowns and covered from neck to toe in thick, expensive cloth, their backs straight in their chairs as they eat and drink. The men are all talking what Kurt assumes is politics and, of course, the ship. They're all dressed similar to Kurt and Burt, with dark, casual (and Kurt still wonders how such a thing could be attached to a suit) three-piece suits.
Kurt, for all his fine-tailored shirts and pants and suits, his stylish top hats and coats and highly-polished wingtips, does not enjoy the upper echelons of society all that much. Everything is too rigid, too formal, too impersonal. He often misses the freedom of his middle-class life, when he didn't have to dress to the nines every day simply because everyone's eyes would be on him. He didn't have a reputation to uphold. A family honor.
He was just Kurt Hummel, and he was different.
"I don't see what's so special about this ship," Kurt confesses, putting down his fork carefully. He's still getting used to proper etiquette and he doesn't want to repeat the disaster that had happened the first time he'd gone out after they'd acquired the money and the semi-fame. "If it's identical to the Olympic it won't be any different from our voyage here."
"There are so many differences, Kurt," Burt says excitedly. Kurt would roll his eyes, but it's been so long since he's seen his father so genuinely excited about something. "She's practically unsinkable."
"Well, I should hope so. I'm not entrusting my life to a hulk of steel and wood across the ocean for nothing." He doesn't much care for sea travel; it's, quite frankly, too long and tedious and there's only so much one can do aboard a ship no matter the luxuries offered. Not to mention he's heard all about ships sinking and losing all their passengers at sea, and somehow he doubts making this new wonder ship "practically unsinkable" is going to make it any different than any other vessel that's sailed out at sea. The thought sends a tremor through him, icy in its grip, and he gulps what remains of his tea to lessen the effect.
"First-class tickets, Kurt," Burt tells him, and it would be amusing in any other situation, to see his father so excited and childlike about something, but it does nothing to allay his nerves about taking another trip across the ocean. The first time had been rough enough even with him repeating it's for him, it's for my dad and his health and nothing bad could possibly happen, anyway. "I heard the accommodations on the Titanic are a hundred times better than any liner out there today. Even better than the Olympic."
Kurt sighs and pushes away his plate and saucer. Immediately a waiter is there to clear the table of the dishes, and Kurt's once again struck with a pang of longing. He misses being middle class, and sure, he'd had a fascination with the upper class from Guggenheim to Astor, all the way to popular ladies like the Countess of Rothes and the large scandal surrounding Astor's newest wife Madeleine, but it had all been in good fun.
He'd gossiped with his girl friends and laughed at the ridiculous fashion trends that went around the higher end of society, but he never in a million years thought he'd be right up there with them, forking out over eighteen-hundred pounds apiece for two staterooms aboard a ship and eating caviar on a Tuesday afternoon.
And it does make him happy, he won't deny that. Being stared at, watched, gossiped about, it's everything he's dreamed of since he was a young boy. He still has free reign to do whatever he wants with his life unlike the other wealthy boys he's met over the months. Burt's content with the business, and if anything should happen that they lose all their money, well, it was a good run and he's sure that with his fascination with automobiles and their sudden demand he could make another living doing something with that.
Kurt takes his cream-colored cloth napkin off his lap and places it gently on the table, pushing back his chair to stand up. "Let's go. We still have some packing to do and I never got to see Trafalgar Square."
Burt stands as well, straightening out his jacket and grabbing his top hat from the chair it had been resting on. Kurt puts his own black silk top hat on, mindful of his hair, and runs loving hands down the arms of his jacket to make sure it's free of any lint or possible crumbs.
They leave a tip and head out the door, bell jingling jauntily in their wake.
Blaine Anderson has gotten used to being poor. He's always had no use for money, anyway, and living off the streets has at least made him a little wiser and craftier. He knows where to go, where to avoid, and more than once he's made it down to the docks to watch the workers doing the last of the fitting out on the Titanic, and he can't help but agree with the general public that she is nothing short of a sight to behold and anyone who was going to partake in her maiden voyage was, without a doubt, one of the luckiest people on Earth.
He'd originally sailed to London via Cunard in the hopes that he could make a living with music here: maybe they could have more use for a singer/pianist than Ohio or the general Midwest could. He'd gotten hooked up with a few gigs over the four months he's been here, but none that ever paid enough to cover rent on a flat and none big enough to really get his name out there as a bookable entertainer, which he liked to think he was—or was trying to be.
Alleyways are okay, though, if you know where to go. Same for doorframes. Food is always his major issue, but luckily the greater London area is rife with restaurants and diners where the perpetually wealthy—sometimes even the perpetually middle-class—think it perfectly okay to finish half of a meal and then leave it to be thrown out.
It's through one of his last performances at a seedy pub in the middle of a cold, dreary February that he meets Nick Duval, a handsome young man with dark hair and one of the few cameras Blaine has ever seen with his own eyes. In the smoke-hazy air of the pub that night a bright flash and loud pop momentarily startle Blaine, making him jump from his spot on the piano bench, but he still luckily maintains enough composure to continue playing without missing a beat or a note, the only thing betraying him being the slight waver in his voice as he stretches to hit a particularly difficult note.
When he steps off the stage to a light, polite smattering of applause, he heads straight for the bar, intent on ordering a shot of straight whiskey to celebrate a few extra pounds for food. He's halfway there when someone stops him.
"Sorry about earlier, mate," the stranger says apologetically, holding what Blaine now recognizes as a camera in his hand. He must have been the one to take the photo, and god, he's gorgeous with his dark hair and warm smile and eyes that sparkle with life and excitement. "I sometimes forget that the flash on this bugger is so bright."
"Oh, I, uh—it's okay," Blaine finally says, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. He stares at first the camera, which smaller than Blaine would have thought, but still bulky, then briefly up at the stranger's face, taking in nose and cheekbones and the fan of lashes against those cheekbones as he blinks. "That's the first camera I've ever seen," he admits.
The stranger laughs, a wide smile brightening his face. He folds the camera back up and latches it, grabbing onto the handle of the case. Blaine feels his stomach flutter and tighten and his body temperature spike against his will; he shouldn't be thinking this, especially not about a guy that he's just met, a guy who likes girls, for all Blaine knows, because all guys like girls except for him. "Thanks. It was practically a whole month's pay, but it was worth it in the end."
He holds out his hand, switching the camera easily to his other hand, and the smile is smaller now, more intimate and genuine. "Nick Duval, wannabe university student."
Blaine half-grins, laughs a little, taking Nick's hand and shaking it. "Blaine Anderson, wannabe performer and name in lights."
"You're very talented, Blaine," Nick praises, giving his hand a firm shake.
Blaine flushes and clears his throat, looking away, then back. He lets his hand fall back to his side once Nick releases it, flexing his fingers. "I—thank you, Nick."
"No, really, Blaine," Nick insists. "London's no place for you. I swear, this is where hopes and dreams come to die. You need to be back across the pond in New York or whatever other big cities are over there."
Blaine sighs and takes a seat in the nearest barstool, suddenly feeling more defeated than he has in weeks. Nick follows seconds later, gently setting his camera on the bar. Blaine signals for the tender and orders a straight whiskey, tipping it back the moment it arrives. He winces, hissing at the burn as the alcohol slides down his throat, warming him up as it goes.
Nick raises an eyebrow and asks for a pint of beer, nursing his more slowly than Blaine did when it arrives. "Something wrong?"
Blaine shakes his head then sighs, deciding that since he's already told Nick a lot about him there's no harm in going a little bit further. "I came from America to see if I could make a living here."
"And it didn't work out?" Nick looks genuinely curious, focused and turned toward Blaine in the way that only those paying the utmost attention would be. The next act has taken the stage now, a young girl with a smoky voice and a lithe body; she fades to the background as Blaine struggles to force down every bad memory that always tries to resurface in times like these.
He raises an eyebrow and gestures down to his ratty black pinstripe trousers and once-white button-up, at the frays in his black suspenders and the irremovable scuffs on his shoes. "Does it look like it did?"
Nick's quiet for a few minutes as he sips on his beer. Blaine drains his whiskey and is about to order another when Nick's hand on his stops him. The point where their skin is touching tingles, shortens Blaine's breath, and he tries not to think about it too much when he turns to look at Nick questioningly.
"What would you say to going back?" Nick asks excitedly.
"I have no money," Blaine sighs. "Maybe enough for a third-class ticket, but . . . ."
"No, no buts," Nick says, smiling now. "The Titanic, mate. She's sailing in a week and tickets are still available and pretty cheap, from what I've heard."
Blaine blinks, thought his spirits do lift slightly. He's been paying so little attention to the world around him as of late that he's failed to remember that the newest wonder ship was set to sail despite his previous short-lived preoccupation with it. "I hardly know you," he protests, though he has a feeling that getting to know Nick isn't going to be hard at all.
"That's what the voyage is for," Nick says. "C'mon, it'll be fun! I've been dying to get to America for years now to see all those huge cities of yours but I've never had an excuse to do it besides adventurism."
Blaine steals Nick's pint and downs the little bit that's left, licking his lips when he's done. He contemplates, wondering if getting back to America is what he really needs. As long as you stay away from Ohio, his mind supplies, reminding him of family and shame, and fine, he'll go. Replace bad memories with good: out with the old and in with the new, his grandmother used to say.
"To America it is," he tells Nick with a nod of his head and a smile.
"To America!" Nick whoops, attracting the stares of a few customers. Blaine can't help but laugh.
"There she is," Burt breathes, looking wide-eyed at the ship docked at port, framed by thick gray clouds. "The ship of dreams."
Kurt laughs and squints at the Titanic's four massive smokestacks, billowy gray-black clouds spewing out of all but the last one. "You act like we're immigrants headed for a better life." In a way, he rationalizes, they sort of are. Being wealthy is still shockingly new, and he knows he's gone through this idea a million times over in his head, but he's not sure how long it will take him to get used to it.
From their spot on the first class gangplank they're allowed a bird's-eye view of the commotion going on down at the dock as the third and second class all line up and people gather in the streets to ogle White Star's newest creation before she sets off. It's loud and busy and Kurt loves it, loves the atmosphere and the way the people from below stare up at them, mouths agape, as they cross over and into the gangway door. He feels like a celebrity, like a symbol, and it's shallow and vain but a hundred percent the truth.
"Good afternoon," a steward says with a smile as Kurt steps foot into the interior of the ship, "and welcome to Titanic."
"Thank you," Kurt replies politely, tipping his head as his father steps into the ship behind him and echoes his words as the steward repeats the same sentence. Despise his disdain for all this sea travel, Kurt can't help but be slightly breathless at the sight of the interior.
The smell of fresh paint still hangs stagnant over everything, faint but there. The walls and ceilings are done in opulence—Jacobean—if Kurt recalls correctly, and all around him mill the women and men of society dressed in their finest. Everything shines golden and cream and dark polished mahogany and Kurt looks at every single detail as they pass it on their way to their staterooms, trying to commit it all to memory.
"Oh, goodness," he breathes excitedly, nearly stopping dead in his tracks. "It's the Countess of Rothes." In the First Class Lounge, despite the large groups of people, Kurt spots the Countess immediately, feeling a little giddy as he does so. It's not like he has any preoccupation with her—he's doesn't, really—it's just fascinating that he's now in the same class as these people, and she is stunningly gorgeous in her glamorous gown and wide feathered hat.
"Let's keep going," Burt says, amused. "Your stateroom is B52, right?"
"Yes." Kurt nods. "And yours is B54. We're connected."
They make their way to their staterooms—and private promenade deck—and for once, Kurt doesn't regret having this money at all. As he unpacks his clothes that had already been delivered by their assigned steward and hangs them up in the wardrobe by the door leading out into the hall, he looks out the windows at the sea, wondering how long it will be before she sails. The ticket had said noon, but as Kurt looks at the clock on the mantle above the fireplace, he sees it's a little past that now. He busies his time unpacking and strolling around the room, looking at the decor, unable to keep the wide smile off his face.
He could maybe enjoy this trip after all.
"Hurry up!" Blaine shouts, shouldering past spectators as they ooh and ahh at the Titanic's great berth and glossy black hull. "Nick, you slow lump, get a move on or we're gonna miss it!" He narrowly avoids slamming into a father and daughter that stand side-by-side and stare up at the great hulking side of the ship.
A few feet behind Blaine, Nick struggles with their satchels, hoisting them up further on his shoulders. "We're not going to miss anything, Blaine. Relax."
Blaine finally slows and waits for Nick, bouncing impatiently on his feet. "I'm sorry," he says, giving his new friend the best apologetic look he can manage and taking his own satchel back. "It's just exciting to finally be able to go back."
He holds his third-class ticket carefully in his hand, making sure not to crinkle it. He feels like he's been awarded a new opportunity, another chance to try things out and make old wrongs right, to get rid of all the ghosts that have been haunting him since he left.
Nick claps him on the shoulder and grins, forgiving Blaine's impatience without words. Before them they can see the line to get through the inspection queue, and if Blaine wants to be honest it's not fair that he and Nick have to go through it—or, really, anyone for that matter—but it's such a marginal problem that he tries not to dwell on it too much.
The day is blustery, overcast and cool for April. The dark waves lap at the side of the ship, crashing up around the wood of the dock. Seagulls cry out around them and the smell of salt and the general dirtiness of the Southampton streets washes over them.
Once they've passed inspection and shown their tickets to the officer standing by the door, they step inside.
The interior is muted greens and maroons and creams, nothing too opulent, but Blaine still feels like he's won the lottery. It gives off a homely air and immediately he feels comfortable. The other passengers walk around and talk to different groups, and every once in awhile a loud laugh will break out over the din.
"Let's go find our rooms," Nick says. It's a maze down here through the corridors, their only help being the occasional sign on the wall that states what floor they're on ("D Deck," it reads). The doors are all the same white as the walls and labeled with small numbers. D16 happens to be their room, and when they open it they find their roommates, two young German boys with heavy accents but enough English to communicate with.
They seem nice, and as Blaine claims top bunk on his and Nick's side of the small cabin, swinging his satchel up behind climbing to the top, his heart leaps and he wiggles his toes excitedly inside his shoes.
He's going home.