Title: The Tops of Buildings (I Can See Them Too)
Summary: On an evening where late spring ticks over into early summer, Kurt meets Blaine, the boy next door who loves books.
A/N: I saw a picture on Tumblr (http:/ jellyfilledcondoms . tumblr . com /post/20208881591/doctor-john-the-cosmic-life-i-bet-that-if) and this story ended up coming out. There's shameless adoration of books in general and books mentioned that I recommend to everyone to read. Title stolen from Mansard Roof by Vampire Weekend.
The Tops of Buildings (I Can See Them Too)
There's a small alcove in Kurt's lounge where one of the windows is, providing a seat should he wish to sit there and read when it's raining, seeing the words through the shadows of raindrops racing over the pages. It's his favourite place inside the house because it's small and cozy with almost perfect light no matter the season.
What he loves most about it is the slope of roof (big enough to sit two people on side by side) it creates outside his bedroom window. Kurt's bedroom has two windows: one looking over the back garden, and while the view is nice and the light ample, his desk is situated in front of it and it feels too much like a chore or homework when he sits there to read, and the other is on the adjacent wall that is one side of the house. There's no view from this one, just the side of the house next door but as the window is above Kurt's favourite seat downstairs, he can climb through and sit on the roof to look out onto the street and peer through the gaps in the houses across the road until he has to squint to make anything out.
It's the place he sits in early spring, wearing a jacket against the winter chill that still lingers, and smiles when a breeze drifts through, making the corners of his pages flutter. He keeps sitting there through summer when the air feels clean and fresh and the smell of the barbecue across the street makes his stomach rumble and he's forced to leave his spot in search of food.
He's looking forward to that time now. It's late evening, around 10pm, on the last day of May and he's sat cross-legged on the roof, back against the window frame, book in his lap illuminated by the street lamp at the front of the house. His neck is starting to hurt a little from looking down for at least an hour but he can't bring himself to move or tear his eyes away from the pages that are telling him about Harry's struggle to be the boy everyone expects him to be: smart, strong and unafraid. Kurt can relate, and he feels at home inside a book that doesn't judge him, with characters that feel like friends, so he carries on reading, rolling his shoulders in an attempt to ease the ache in his bones, and waits for late spring to tick over into early summer.
It's half an hour or so later when he checks his watch and briefly glances up at the night sky, smiling at the few stars he can see that haven't been dimmed by light pollution, that he realizes he's not alone. He startles and bumps his back into the window frame as he catches glimpse of someone out of the corner of his eye and looks over to his right to see a boy sat on his own piece of roof (much the same as Kurt's) protruding from his house, with a worried look on his face and a hand held out like he wants to pat Kurt on the knee. There's very little space between the two places they sit, just enough for a person walking below to sidle through the gap between where the corners of the walls almost touch and Kurt's suddenly struck by how close that really is as the boys hand hovers mere centimeters from his leg.
"Are you okay?" the boy says and Kurt blinks at him, taking in the boys wide, earnest eyes, and nods slowly. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"You didn't," Kurt immediately says, relaxing his posture and sliding his bookmark into place, the book falling shut silently in his lap. He rests his hands over its cover and curls in on himself a little, eyeing the boy, who's now grinning (teeth and all), curiously.
"That's good then." The boy looks down at Kurt's lap and frowns. "I interrupted you didn't I?"
"Yes," Kurt says honestly and the boy looks genuinely sad, "but it's okay." The boy perks up again and Kurt feels like he's getting whiplash with the speed at which his emotions change. "I've read it before."
"Oh, good," the boy says, sounding relieved. "I hate interrupting someone with a new book." Kurt's fingers curl around the top of his book as the boy continues, his eyes shining in the faint light. "They should be left alone for as long as they want to soak up the new adventure. That's how I like it anyway."
"You read?" Kurt asks, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth.
"Of course I read," the boy answers, as if doing anything else is outrageous. "There's a million different worlds inside a million different books. What's more fun than spending an afternoon getting lost in them?"
Kurt's gripping onto his book tightly now, and if he was more aware of anything other than his heart pounding in his chest and his urge to talk to this boy for hours, learn his favourite books, his favourite authors, he'd chastise himself about fingermarks on the cover and page bending. The boy is smiling at Kurt, his head tilted a little to the side and Kurt has so many questions for this stranger (Who are you? Why have I never seen you before? What's your opinion on the classics versus more modern literature?) with the dark hair, curls styled neatly a top his head, and the passion Kurt's never seen in anyone in Lima, besides himself. "You're perfect," is what he says instead, clapping a hand over his mouth the instant it's left his mouth.
The boy looks taken aback before he laughs lightly and dips his gaze away from Kurt for the first time since they started talking. "No one's ever complimented me on my love of books."
Kurt thinks the boy is simply thinking out loud, commenting casually, but there's a hint of sadness to his voice, just a touch of something Kurt feels in himself: the feeling that nobody understands, nobody gets why he loves his books, the stories, the people, the dreams. "I'm sorry," Kurt mumbles into his hand, dropping it away from his mouth and sighing irritably at himself when the boy looks confused. "I mean I'm not sorry about the compliment, just the way I said it." The boy gives him a lopsided smile and Kurt rubs the back of his neck, a blush creeping into his cheeks, thankful for the low light that he hopes is covering it. "Not that you're not… perfect, but I don't know you and I'm sure you're-" Kurt cuts himself off mid ramble and takes a deep breath before saying, "I love books too."
The boy's grin is wide and bright as he holds out a hand and Kurt's sure he can see him bouncing a little. "I'm Blaine."
Kurt eyes the boy's – Blaine's – hand warily and reaches out to shake it, noting how warm and firm Blaine's hand is in his own. "Kurt."
"Well, Kurt," Blaine says as their hands disconnect, "what are you reading?"
Kurt keeps a hand splayed over the cover of his book and shrugs, mumbling, "Nothing really." He's not embarrassed to be reading Harry Potter but Blaine asking reminds him of fifth grade when his pristine copy of the first book was forcefully taken from him and thrown into a puddle to be stamped on and left to soak up the dirty water as a group of sixth graders laughed and walked away, shouting "Readings for losers" as they went.
"Kurrrrrrt," Blaine drawls, poking Kurt once in the knee and pouting at him. Kurt smiles and ducks his head, curling the hand over his book into a fist and tilting the cover up into the light for Blaine to see. He watches Blaine lean forward, eyes running over the title, then nod approvingly. "Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite, personally."
Kurt has to stop himself squealing, biting his lip until it hurts. He wonders where this boy has been for sixteen years of his life, if he's always lived in the house next door and if they could have been sharing books all this time. He slams his hand over his mouth again when he says, "Where have you been all my life?" in a rush of breath.
Blaine simply shrugs one shoulder, smiles, almost looking shy, and blinks slowly as he looks as Kurt. "I could ask you the same thing."
Kurt can't pinpoint the moment Blaine became his best friend. Since the first night on their roofs, they'd sat out together every evening, both with a book in their laps, occasionally glancing up and exchanging smiles. They'd stay on their own roof for the most part, only venturing far enough to stretch a leg out on to the others, neither quite brave enough to suggest they sit next to each other and talk or read.
Kurt thinks it might have happened the first time Blaine gave him a book. They'd been spending the evenings together for three weeks and Kurt had gone out onto his roof earlier than usual, soaking up what was left of the sunlight, and had been reading the sixth Harry Potter when he heard Blaine's window slide open and the telltale shuffling of Blaine getting comfortable. He hadn't looked up from his book, used to the noise now and content that he or Blaine would speak when ready, letting the other enjoy the quiet and the company for a while, so hadn't expected Blaine to reach out and tap his knee, biting his lip.
Kurt had slid his book shut and placed it aside, taking the new one Blaine offered him as soon as he looked up. "The Eyre Affair," Kurt had read, looking at the gaudy, multicolored car on the cover before flipping the book over and scanning the blurb.
Blaine had spoken before he could comment. "I was recommended it by one of my teachers and I wasn't really sure about it at first, but I've grown to love the series." Kurt had nodded, swiping his thumb over the corner of the cover where it was slightly turned up from a lot use (Kurt enjoyed the sight of a well-loved book. It meant it had a good home), while Blaine shrugged. "I thought you might like to try it?"
The question and tinge of nerves in Blaine's voice had been evident and Kurt had taken a moment to reply, his heart swelling, his hand itching to reach out and grasp Blaine's. "No one's ever given me a book before," Kurt had said, glancing up at Blaine and seeing the same look he had on the first night, when Kurt had asked where Blaine had been all his life: eyes bright and happy, the corners of his mouth turned up just a little.
"I'm glad I could be the first."
Kurt's smile had almost split his face and he had whispered his thanks and returned to reading his book, clutching Blaine's book tightly to his chest when he'd gone back inside that night, delighted he had a friend like Blaine who thought about him enough to recommend him books.
Kurt smiles now at the memory, looking across his room at the third in the series, which he had asked for the moment he'd finished the second one, climbing onto Blaine's piece of roof and knocking on his window, despite the fact it was nine in the morning on a Saturday.
Although Kurt can't pinpoint the exact moment Blaine became his best friend, he remembers the time and the smell of the air (summer, grass and strawberry ice cream) during the moment he fell in love with Blaine.
Kurt sometimes thinks he's ridiculous for being in love with a boy he's only known a month and a half, but he also thinks Blaine's been becoming his everything since he startled Kurt on the night they met. He doesn't know if Blaine's gay, doesn't know if Blaine has a girlfriend, or boyfriend, but it didn't stop Kurt falling, didn't stop his feet twitching every evening as he thought about getting up and sitting beside Blaine instead of across from him, just to feel the warmth by his side.
He'd fallen completely when Blaine had taken that step instead and whispered, "Fuck it," under his breath two nights ago, the air still and the time close to midnight, and shuffled across the gap between their roofs and placed himself next to Kurt, their arms touching and their knees brushing. Blaine had said nothing for a long time, neither had Kurt, both choosing to continue reading instead of discussing this change in dynamic, until Blaine had moved just a little closer and rested his head on Kurt's shoulder, sighing as he settled. "I've never met anyone like you."
Kurt was sure Blaine had heard his hitch in breath and seen his hand drop mid page turn, narrowly avoiding bending the page in half. Kurt had swallowed heavily, shifting minutely and trying to steady his breathing as their knees knocked together and Blaine started tracing idle patterns on the back of Kurt's palm where it held his book open. "Me neither," Kurt had said in reply and he'd felt Blaine's jaw move against his shoulder, meaning he was smiling, and the stutter of Kurt's heart told him everything he needed to know: he's in love with this boy and his books.
"Why did you start reading?"
It's about a week away from the end of July and since Blaine had sat by Kurt's side, they've been alternating between sitting on each other's roofs, depending on the light and time of day. Tonight they're on Blaine's roof, books placed aside as they look up at the sky, making shapes out of the few clouds and Blaine making up names of new constellations he draws with his finger.
"To escape," Kurt replies honestly, not answering with his usual, "Because I wanted to," that he parrots off to distant family members or nosy classmates at school.
"Me too," Blaine says and Kurt looks down from the sky, not quite expecting that reply, and eyes Blaine's profile. His face is neutral and he's staring blankly ahead until he clears his throat and glances briefly at Kurt. "Books don't judge me."
Kurt feels like he's having a conversation with himself, discussing his own thoughts and he hums his agreement, letting his shoulder brush against Blaine's. "I don't judge you," he says.
Blaine chuckles and shakes his head. "Sometimes I think you've walked right out of one of my books." He looks back up at the sky, a smile ghosting across his face. "You're the friend I've always wanted: kind, funny, doesn't judge me and loves to read just as much as I do."
"We are a rare find," Kurt says, brushing at his jeans haughtily and Blaine snorts, turning to nudge his forehead against Kurt's shoulder.
"I'm serious." He looks up at Kurt through his lashes. "I told you I've never met anyone like you."
Kurt shudders on an exhale as he's reminded how much he loves this boy and he brings his knees up to his chest, folding his arms around his legs and resting his chin on one knee, head titled slightly to look at Blaine. "What're you escaping from?" he asks quietly, going back to their earlier conversation, not sure if he's allowed to ask because while Kurt would tell Blaine anything, he doesn't think Blaine's on the exactly same page, maybe a few behind.
Blaine doesn't answer straight away. He stretches his legs out in front of him and twiddles his thumbs in his lap. "Do you know Dalton Academy?"
"The private school in Westerville?"
Blaine nods. "That's where I go to school." Kurt's always known Blaine was smart and wondered why he's never seen him around much, but he never considered Dalton because it's far away and Blaine doesn't seem like a private school kid, even though he's well mannered. "I transferred there after freshman year because I was being bullied… a lot." Kurt stays silent, saving his own stories of torment for later and letting Blaine speak. "Before I moved, books were all I had. I would come home after a day of insults and locker shoves and sit in my room for hours, reading as much as I could, being part of worlds where it didn't matter that I liked to sing, didn't matter that sports aren't my favourite and didn't matter that I don't like girls."
Kurt holds himself tighter at that admission because while he's suspected for a while that Blaine's like him, the confirmation is nice and his heart feels a little lighter, racing a little faster.
"Dalton's amazing and no one judges but books helped me through the worst of it and gave me somewhere to go. I don't really need them as an escape anymore, but I want them," Blaine finishes, rolling his head to look at Kurt. "I'm whoever I want to be when I'm reading and it's-"
"Wonderful," Kurt says immediately, having felt what Blaine's said so many times.
"You too?" Blaine says, a sad look in his eye, and Kurt nods.
"It's nice to spend a day in a place where the word 'fag' isn't, and will never be, part of the vocabulary." Kurt rarely gets angry, only when he speaks about the Neanderthals at school, and it calms him, stops him digging his nails into his arms, when Blaine scoots closer and rests on his shoulder. They sit in silence for a while, Kurt resisting the temptation to lift his head and plant a kiss in Blaine's hair, hold him close until the early hours of the morning when one of them realizes they should have parted long ago and gone to bed.
Blaine eventually lifts his book from beside him and flicks through until he finds his page and asks with a hopeful tone, "Do you want to read with me?"
"You're halfway through the book," Kurt points out and Blaine shrugs one shoulder and says nothing, waiting for Kurt's answer. Kurt lifts his head and lets his legs go, stretching them out alongside Blaine's and biting the inside of his cheek as he rests his head against the top of Blaine's and nods. "I'd love to."
In way of reply, Blaine holds his book open with one hand and moves the arm closest to Kurt, takes Kurt's hand and laces their fingers together so they rest in the dip between their legs. Kurt blinks down at their joined hands, pale skin against tan, and nods again when Blaine tenses and asks if it's okay. Blaine relaxes and starts to read, "The Society fell silent as they mused upon the possibility that the Riffraff had immunity from the Rot," his voice smooth and although Kurt doesn't know what's going on, he listens and slips his eyes closed, squeezing Blaine's hand when Blaine starts to swipe his thumb back and forth across his skin.
Kurt blinks himself awake at what he thinks is half an hour or so since Blaine started reading but when he opens his eyes, the sky is sunrise orange and Blaine's head is resting on his chest, his eyes closed and his mouth open just a little as he breathes steadily and clings to Kurt's shirt. Their hands are still joined and Kurt's sure Blaine's arm must be twisted at an uncomfortable angle but Kurt knows moving would wake him up and he can't quite bring himself to lose the contact they have.
Kurt does move a little to retrieve Blaine's book, which is now shut and lying on its spine between Blaine's knee and Kurt's thigh, but he leans a little too far forward and Blaine jolts awake, turning his head further into Kurt's chest, groaning at the light and curling his fingers further into the fabric of Kurt's shirt. "Why is it cold?" Blaine mumbles, his breath warm in the morning chill as he speaks against Kurt's chest and huddles closer, though Kurt's not sure he's realised where he's lying.
"We're outside," Kurt says, putting Blaine's book down on top of his own, still next to him on the roof and Blaine lifts his head, squinting, then hums and looks down at himself, flushing when he sees that he's half on top of Kurt.
"Sorry," he says, letting go of Kurt's shirt and shuffling away so there's a small gap between them. Kurt can't help but smile when Blaine doesn't disconnect their hands and leaves them resting on his thigh. "I cling when I sleep. To books a lot of the time," Blaine adds with a small chuckle and Kurt gives him a curious look. "I fall asleep reading and I've often woken up curled up in a ball, clutching the book to my chest," Blaine explains.
"I guess I was your substitute for a book," Kurt says, smoothing out his shirt where Blaine had been holding it and feeling the phantom touch of Blaine pressed to his side, solid and warm.
"You're certainly comfier," Blaine says, "and warmer."
Kurt rubs his thumb over Blaine's knuckle, considering Blaine's words. "Books make you warm on the inside."
Without hesitation, Blaine says, "You do that too," and Kurt inhales sharply through his nose, blinking at Blaine with wide eyes when he turns his head and one corner of his mouth twitches, like he's afraid to smile, not knowing what Kurt's going to say.
Kurt doesn't know what to say.
Instead, he raises his free hand to Blaine's cheek and traces his knuckles over an indent in Blaine's skin from a crease in the fabric of Kurt's shirt where he'd slept.
Blaine leans into the touch and at the same time Kurt goes to speak, Blaine says, "Do you think falling in love is like it is in books?" Kurt's hand stills and he drops it and blinks dumbly, opening his mouth to answer but not quite sure if any sounds going to come out and silently wondering how Blaine can render him speechless with the simplest of sentences. "Because in some books it's a slow burn, a growing feeling, like you have to know a person years before they can be your everything, but sometimes it's fast and happens just like that," Blaine pauses and looks over Kurt's face with earnest eyes, "and it's so beautiful. The person is so happy, like their dreams have come true and…" Kurt waits for the next words patiently, his body still and calm in wake of the rapid thumpingin his chest, "and that's what I'm feeling, have been feeling," Blaine corrects himself, wide, frantic eyes trained on Kurt, "but no one said it would be terrifying as well and I'm scared that it's all to fast and maybe you don't-"
Blaine squeaks and his eyes flutter closed as Kurt cuts him off with a kiss, just pressing their lips together, barely moving. Kurt couldn't bear to let Blaine continue, let him voice his doubts that Kurt's been feeling any different and Kurt's the first to pull away, his breath heavy, his heart pounding as he focuses in on Blaine looking at him with the same big, shining eyes he'd had the night they met. "I'm scared too," Kurt says and Blaine grins a little, laughing like he can't believe Kurt's real, like he really has stepped out of a book and Blaine's dreams.
"Yeah," Kurt breathes, nodding and closing his eyes, resting his forehead against Blaine's. "I love you and I'm terrified."
"I love you too," is all Blaine says before kissing him again and in the second his tongue traces Kurt's bottom lip, Kurt decides that even the best of books, and the most talented of authors can't describe, create or drag him into world that's better than this one with Blaine and his books.
Thank you for reading - and seriously, The Eyre Affair... go read it. I was actually recommended it by a teacher (like Blaine said) and Jasper Fforde is wonderful.