The Life and Times of Author B.A. Dalton
"Sometimes, nothing ever works out at all." - Mediocrity, B.A. Dalton
"There's something about the enigma of B.A. Dalton, the faceless author that pens these softly spoken novels. No one quite knows who he is, where he comes from, but there's thinly veiled sense of curiosity that surrounds those who pick up his books and read them. Much like a lot of contemporary writers B.A. has a distinct style and voice. His characters are always lost and usually never quite find their way, and he balances such heavy-hitting emotional content with quick wit and sharp dialogue. Any fan of Dalton's will accuse the author to being the root of many a sleepless night and tears, because while he's one of many new writers emerging out of the twenty-first century, he is, without a doubt, one of the most resonating.
Most will tote that Mediocrity might be Dalton's best work, but as a faithful reader, fan and penultimate critic, I choose to believe that he's just getting started, and the best is only to come." - Blake Miller, Huffington Post
There once was an idiot named Blaine Anderson who forgot how to write, completely and utterly forgot. He stared at his computer endlessly as writer with writer's block would do and he listens to music and instead - instead he writes about himself because what else can he do, as a writer who's forgotten how to write?
In an office that's not really not an office but really just a closed in patio with an old desk and PC that barely can run anything more than a word processor, twenty five year old Blaine Anderson hits the backspace key until his fingers hurt. Outside the dirt and fingerprint stained windows, the sun sets on another 70 degree Los Angeles day. Inside the house he can hear his brother Cooper whistling to himself; can hear the click click click of his husky, Ramona's, paws on the cheap linoleum floor.
He sits back in his chair and watches the cursor blink at him ominously. He thinks about days when words used to pour from his fingertips with ease, down and out and playing themselves like music on the page. He'd once found solace in both those expressions. Now it's only music that allows him to express himself. He feels cold all over. He feels frozen.
There's a notebook buried under discarded dirty coffee mugs and various post-its. Inside lay what once was what he thought was his greatest work. Now it's wrinkled and forgotten, because Blaine's not sure what's so great about anything anymore.
Once upon a time, Blaine Anderson was a slight boy in a blazer with perfectly styled side-parted hair and a penchant for trying to make everyone happy. The perfect hair and blazer are long gone now but he's never been any good at trying to only make himself happy and to not worry about anyone else. Cooper calls it his ultimate downfall, his kryptonite. Blaine thinks Cooper should stop comparing real life to super heroes and fictional experiences.
Once upon a time Blaine had the innocence beaten out of him, and then not much later, the romance he'd always longed for torn away by a boy with nothing but lust and hunger in his eyes. It's left him sort of hollow, he must admit, empty where he can store bad memories and dark thoughts. It's what makes him the writer he is, he knows - these things hurt. He needs to hurt to make his words paint pictures. He wonders if it's like this for everyone who writes. He doesn't think it can be that way for JK Rowling but probably is for Chuck Palaniuk, who's descriptions and characters terrify Blaine and draw him in all the same.
Once upon a time Blaine Anderson became a writer and left those starry-eyed dreams of standing on a stage behind. He resides in a bungalow in a terribly tragically hipster neighborhood in Los Angeles. He drinks way too much coffee and forgets to shave and eats way too many dishes from trendy over-priced cafes. He can count on one hand how many times he's ever felt truly happy. He's never been in love. He feels old. He thinks he's a sad sap. (So does Cooper)
Once upon a time Blaine Anderson had big big dreams. These days there's a husky dog named Ramona and she's his best friend.
Sometimes he sleeps on the tattered old couch out on the closed in patio. He used to do it because he'd sometimes get inspired in the middle of the night. Now he does because he's just too tired to go inside to his bed. He rarely ever has a blanket but it's okay - Ramona keeps him warm.
Blaine is a real writer (said sarcastically because ALL writers are real writers), the kind that actually gets paid to put words on a page. He's not a great one, and he's not just saying that because he's being self-loathing - it's also because his novels (One aptly named Mediocrity, ironically enough, and the other titled Subject) haven't really sold much, haven't really gotten anywhere near the best sellers' list. Both are tremendously depressing. Both of them are terribly close to Blaine's heart. He goes by the moniker 'B.A. Dalton' after his initials and the high school he'd spent his better years at because he thought it was charming and mysterious as a fresh-faced writer high on confidence. Now it feels cheap and silly, but there's really nothing to be done about that.
Blaine was nineteen when he'd penned Mediocrity, still drunk on college creative writing classes and over-confidence in himself. It painted a picture of a middle American family, the kind that would be featured on any sort of hour long drama on ABC, who has to cope with an horrendous tragedy. Blaine wrote those characters until they were destroyed, broken down into nothing but loose souls trying to scrape themselves back together.
Subject was about Cooper, but Cooper doesn't know it because he's the sort to never really get when someone's talking about him right in front of his face. He'd read it quickly, handed it back and said, "B, that protagonist or whatever was such a tool. To be honest, he didn't even seem that realistic." Blaine's mother had called him after she'd gotten done with it and scolded him with her quiet, stark disapproval sort of way, telling him that he shouldn't mock his sibling, shouldn't shame the Anderson name. He hadn't even had to tell her that the character was Cooper - she'd just known. (That's how clueless Cooper is, really.)
Cooper deserves a description in this story because he's a character in the novel that's Blaine's sad little life. Sometimes Blaine thinks he might be the protagonist because he's vastly more interesting. Sometimes Blaine thinks he's the antagonist because he certainly can be Blaine's worst enemy sometimes (but usually that title goes to himself). If Blaine were to write a picture perfect sibling it wouldn't be Cooper because Cooper was selfish growing up and he uses Blaine in only the way that family can. He sleeps in the spare room and doesn't pay rent, doesn't pay utilities, doesn't do any housework. He eats all the food. He criticizes Blaine's everything (his clothes, his life choices, his face). He's incredibly handsome and full of himself and Blaine wishes he was Cooper sometimes; wishes he could float on in obliviousness and treat the world like it revolves around him. Cooper's an actor in the way that most people in Los Angeles are actors - he's got an agent, he's got the attitude, he's got the look. He's missing the talent, however, or the ability to feign that he has the talent enough to get the break. At 33 Cooper's played more dead bodies and brutal murderers on every serial cop show on television and he hates it. He thinks he's better than it.
Blaine knows Cooper's just as unhappy as he is but he IS the greatest actor when it comes to masking his own feelings. He knows Cooper is never going to achieve the dreams he never really speaks about. He knows Cooper's so much like him sometimes, just encased in different skin. They have the same blood, though, and sometimes that's enough.
But Blaine - he lucked out. He'd written and written and written in college and it led somewhere, it led to a book deal and a 3 book guarantee and enough money to live off of, even if that money wasn't exactly filled with a lot of zeros and times get tough sometimes. He's got one more, one more on his deal and he needs to prove himself this time around, prove that he's worth signing another deal, worth handing another chance.
It's a shame that he needs at least 250 pages to show his publisher in three months and he has less than nothing. He has a blinking cursor and his own thoughts and a notebook full of what he once thought was his brightest ideas.
"Go play guitar in front of Intelligentsia," Cooper suggests one afternoon, munching on burnt toast and day-old coffee. Blaine hasn't been sleeping. There's a crick in his neck. Ramona is obviously annoyed at them both for failing to take her on a lengthy walk; she's parked at the door, looking out of the glass with a forlorn expression on her face. Blaine feels stale. He's not sure when the last time he took a shower was. He's pretty sure he smells.
Cooper's latest conquest is sitting on the counter staring at Blaine like he's a science project, all big wide eyes and vacant expression. He's come to know her as The Girl with the Pink Streaks because it's the only defining physical characteristic he can connect her with. He won't bother to learn her name - he never bothers to learn their names, because they're always gone before he can learn them properly anyway. Sometimes when Blaine's feeling light-hearted and silly he'll pretend they're living in a bad Fox sitcom and these girls are the quirky guest stars that serve as consistently reminding the audience that Cooper is the Irresponsible Slutty One who's just waiting for The Girl Who'll Change Everything. Usually he just frowns and knows it's just another way in which Cooper is unhealthily unable to commit to a single thing in his life. Sometimes he's surprised Cooper still sticks around him. He wouldn't blame him if he didn't.
"Go grocery shopping. Buy some new shoes. Take Ramona for a walk." At the sound of her name Ramona looks back at them with an expression that's scarily human like. It conveys, in short, "Yeah, why don't you, asshole?"
Blaine's not in the mood for any of these things, though, isn't in the mood to placate Cooper just so he can look like the hero for The Girl With The Pink Streaks. He contemplates how much bad tv he has collected on the DVR and wonders if it's possible to become one with the couch if he parks his ass there for a long enough time. He likes to tape everything he can think of, every bad crime drama and family comedy and game show, store them for months and then marathon it all at once. It's never anything good, nothing that's rife with Emmy nominations and award winning actors. It's low-rated comedies and reality television, stuff that causes him to think about absolutely zilch.
He leaves his half-finished coffee and runny eggs and retreats into the living room to do just that.
"You'll die on that couch, you know! The rate you're going you'll suffocate amongst the polyester plaid blend. It'll be ugly!"
He hears Girl with Pink Streaks giggle at Cooper at this as he sinks down onto said couch, followed by the sounds of obnoxiously loud kissing. Cooper's always been an obnoxiously loud kisser and it's never failed to gross Blaine out.
He settles on Jersey Shore and ignores Ramona, who's left her perch at the door to forlornly stare at him, instead.
"Not you too," He sighs, and then does his best to ignore her.
A long time ago Blaine Anderson had to transfer schools because he was literally kicked to the curb after he had the nerve to bring another boy to a school dance. Two weeks in the hospital, a black eye and two phone calls from Cooper who was already in Los Angeles later, Blaine was patched up physically by the doctors and haphazardly emotionally from his mother and father, who both never really quite knew what to do with the children they'd brought into the world. Tie perfectly in place and hair slicked back he'd held his head high and became Blaine Anderson of Dalton Academy and the Anderson name, son of a private school teacher and high-profile lawyer. He was his parent's last hope for having a son that'd do them proud. Cooper's lackadaisical crazy dreams never sat well with Mom and Dad, not when they were kids, not now.
Blaine spent his four years at Dalton trying to be everything and nothing all at once. Then there was Sebastian, handsome and worldly, and he crushed Blaine's spirit just as quickly as he'd stolen his virginity - and ultimately, his heart.
When Cooper rolled up in front of their childhood home the day after Blaine's graduation promising a road trip and a future he'd never really thought of for himself, he went. He went and he never looked back.
Eventually Cooper leaves and takes the Girl with him because he has an audition for Criminal Minds. Blaine knows he probably won't be back for hours, if not days. Cooper will drown himself in the Girl with Pink Streaks and then come back when it's soured for one reason or another. Wash, rinse, repeat.
He watches most of the old American Idol episodes he has taped, then ventures over to The Voice. By the time the sun's set he's settled in on a marathon of Law and Order: SVU. Ramona's given up being angry at him and is curled up against him on the couch. At some point he eats again, and then splashes some water on his face, and then stands in the doorway leading to his porch office to contemplate all the work he hasn't done. Ultimately he ends back up on the couch, finishing up his night with 27 Dresses on Starz.
He goes to bed at 10PM because he has nothing else to do, really, and because he's tired and he wrote a total of five words and that's just enough.
It's midnight when he's suddenly woken up by hands gripping him by the shoulders, hands manhandling him out of bed, hands pushing him into a vaguely standing position. He's half asleep and shocked right out of slumber and Ramona is barking and he doesn't even realize it's Cooper until he feels a shirt and a clean pair of jeans being pressed into his arms.
"We're going out," Cooper declares, "Because you act like you're a 70 year old man and I can't watch you do that to yourself. It's fucking stupid."
Blaine's still not quite sure he's hearing Cooper correctly, honestly.
"Wha? Wait - did I just hear you say we're going out? Says who? And who's we? Because if we includes me than you're wrong, asshole." It's still stupidly dark in his room and Cooper's standing in the shadows wearing all black like some common stereotypical house thief and he's honestly lucky that Blaine has zero reflexes when he's jolted awake or he would have probably gotten clocked in the face by a rogue punch. Blaine wonders if he could still punch Cooper and blame it on his half-awake state.
"Yes, we're going out. Listen, you go out with me tonight, right now, I will leave you alone for at least a month. I'll even sleep in my bedroom and I won't bring over any girlfriends -"
"Oh how considerate of you," Blaine says sarcastically and he wonders when he's become Sarcastic Asshole because he feels like all of his interactions with Cooper as of late have had this ridiculous attitude. He knows he sounds like he's a flat undeveloped character in a bad sitcom - the Sarcastic Asshole character who has a stick up his ass.
"Just - please?" Cooper continues, and it's borderline pleading. Fortunately for Cooper, Blaine's never really been able to say no to his brother, not when he seems so desperate, so pleading, so wanting. He shrugs and pushes Cooper out of his bedroom.
"I need 10 minutes."
They go to this piano bar turned dance club in Hollywood that has far too many tourists for it to have really any clout or class. The drinks are over priced and there are way too many girls who are obviously from the Midwest who are hoping to see a celebrity. It's exactly the sort of place Blaine had learned about and had given up a year after he'd moved to Los Angeles and he's annoyed that THIS is what Cooper had dragged him out of bed for.
"Really?" He leans into Cooper to say in his ear as they edge through the crowd. Cooper just shoots a fake stupid smile at him over his shoulder, the kind that means he's pretending he can't hear Blaine, and it's only moments later that he sees why they're there. Girl with Pink Streaks is one of the bartenders of course, and Blaine punches his brother's shoulder for being the ultimate douche. Cooper shakes it off and throws a playful grin to Blaine before wedging himself between the patrons at the bar and leans over to speak to her. Blaine feels two obviously-tourist girls eyeing him from somewhere near his elbow and he gives them a bitch face because he's feeling petty. When Cooper finally turns back around he's got two shot glasses in his hands and a shit-eating grin on his face.
"Drink up, baby," He says, and Blaine doesn't even put up a fight because he's out, why not, and he's going to have to be trashed to survive this bar. He holds his nose and knocks it back and winces because it's some heinous flavored vodka. When Cooper hands the second one to him without a word he knocks that one back, too. Why not?
An hour and a few drinks later Blaine's feeling pleasantly warm and fuzzy and he's over watching Cooper make kissy faces at the Girl and has wandered over to the dance floor. There's some terrible remix playing but Blaine doesn't know the song because he can't - won't - listen to the radio. He's dancing with a guy who didn't even ask if he could dance with him but he's shorter than Blaine by a couple of inches and has this shock of blond hair that's startling but Blaine's so touch starved that he doesn't hesitate when the boy wraps his arms up and over his shoulders and gets closer - closer even - closer still.
The song changes and they're being fairly daring for being in a straight club because he doesn't hesitate when the guy leans in to kiss him. Blaine's drunk, so drunk that he's sure it's the grossest make out session he's ever shared with another person, but it feels good because being touched feels good and kissing feels good and he's, God - he's forgotten all that. His drunkenness is not conducive to any of these efforts though, because they sway to the beat of the music as they kiss and suddenly Blaine's world spins and he's dizzy enough that he needs to stop and step back. The boy (all large dark eyes, small shoulders, nose piercing) doesn't seem pleased, not a bit.
"I just need to get some water," Blaine yells and leans over to kiss his frown away in hopes he'll be there when he returns, "I'll be back - do you want anything?"
The Nosering Boy shakes his head and winks at him as he backs into the crowd to find the bar he finally makes it Cooper's nowhere to be found but his latest lady is so he cuts off an impatient customer and asks her for a glass of water. She looks at him with a mock-suspicious glance for a moment but pushes it over to him anyway.
The crowd is thick, thicker now despite the late hour, and people are drunk and gross. It smells in there and Blaine sips his water contemplatively, unsure if it's even worth searching out who he'd been talking to in the throng of sweaty, messy crowd. He's still drunk, embarrassingly so, but he's not dizzy anymore and he feels steady on his feet. His buzz makes him warm all the way down to his toes; makes everything seem so pretty. This club, this hole in the wall with tourists who wear way too little clothing, with the girls with painted on makeup and fake hair, the guys with too much cologne and tee-shirts with horrendous logos on them - it all suddenly doesn't seem so bad.
He turns quickly, with intent to find The Boy with the Nose Ring when he walks straight into what at first he thinks is a wall but ends up being a living breathing human being who now has the contents of Blaine's ice water all down his very pretty button-down. Blaine, he freezes because he's mortified, and the boy, tall with the most ridiculously perfect chestnut hair just laughs then, suddenly, and Blaine is surprised, surprised enough to drop the empty glass on the floor. It shatters of course, because generally a glass shatters when hitting a concrete floor, and suddenly Blaine's not only soaked this handsome guy through he's also created a very real safety hazard. Before he knows what he's doing he drops to the floor to reach for the shards, intent, stupidly, to pick them up. There are people bumping into him, nearly stepping on his hands. There are girls with sandals and he's afraid of what he's done so he continues, collecting sharp pieces of glass in his cupped palm until suddenly there are strong arms hauling him from the floor.
"Whoa, slow down there." A soft voice says to him and he can't help but slump back into the body behind him. It's the Boy Covered in Blaine's Water of course, arm tightening around his waist as he uses his free hand to cup Blaine's hand - the one with the shards of glass in it.
"I'm seriously wondering what kind of person you are right now," The Boy says, and he's borderline sarcastic which makes Blaine cringe, "Because that was a very stupid idea."
The Boy Covered in Blaine's Water must have signalled the bartender because then there's two bar backs coming out of nowhere, dispersing the crowd immediately around the spill and cleaning up quickly and efficiently. He's led to the bar where The Girl With The Pink Streaks looks unimpressed to have to hold out a sturdy plastic bag for the glass Blaine had in his hand. He's lucky he didn't cut himself, he knows, because drunk and sloppy and crawling all over the dirty floor of a club in Hollywood is basically asking for injuries and possible diseases.
"I made a mess," He says, and wow, isn't that the most pitiful thing ever. The Boy's grip on his elbow tightens and he can hear a laugh as he's led away from the bar and Blaine follows blindly because he's tired and drunk and there's something about him, this boy with the perfect hair and really really tight pants. They're outside then, right on Santa Monica Boulevard and even though it's nearly 2AM there are cars and smokers and Hollywood never completely goes to sleep, really. Blaine takes a deep breath as they break away far enough from the smokers to have clean air and then suddenly the world is sharper, clearer. He's standing outside on a dirty street drunk off his ass with a strange boy who doesn't look like he belongs anywhere like this place. He's carefully and artfully put together, dress shoes and all. If there wasn't a wet spot on his shirt Blaine would think he'd walked right out of some catalog or runway, with the way he stands with his nose in the air looking at Blaine curiously. Under the poor street lights Blaine can finally see his face, his lips, his eyes - wow, his eyes.
"You have really nice eyes," He says before he can stop himself, and then immediately scoffs out loud at his own ridiculousness. There's a chuckle from the Boy, who's really not a boy at all, now that Blaine can see him properly. He's got a youthful face but his eyes tell Blaine that while he could probably pass for late teens or early twenties, he's probably around Blaine's age.
"You didn't make a mess, you are a mess," He says stepping away from Blaine only when he's obviously sure Blaine can stand on his own.
"I can't remember the last time I was this drunk," Blaine admits, slumping against a light pole and patting around his pockets for his phone, "Last April? I think? Maybe? No - yeah, last April, because Cooper was turning 33 and he hated that so he got really drunk and so did I but we were just at our place -"
"My brother, my brother Cooper who's a dick because he abandoned me, I have no idea where he is, he's probably fucking the Girl with Pink Streaks in the storage closet somewhere, whatever," He babbles and even as more words come out of his own mouth he just gets continuously more embarrassed for himself because here he is, standing in front of probably the most beautiful guy he'd seen in a long time and he's not only spilled stuff on him but is essentially talking out of his ass.
"I'm a little embarrassed for you too, honestly," And Blaine groans because he must have been saying all of that out loud, "But I'm flattered. Honestly though, if that had been anything other than water I wouldn't be quite so nice. This shirt cost more than that entire bar's worth twice over."
Blaine chuckles a little and looks up at him, lets himself just gaze. The boy, he buckles a little under the stare after a moment - ducks his head and looks away with a sheepish grin. It's tremendously endearing and Blaine's already trying to remember what his arms had felt like holding him up, keeping him upright. He hasn't had someone support him - figuratively and physically - like that in a long time.
"I'm Kurt Hummel, by the way," He finally gets over being embarrassed and puts his hand out to shake Blaine's. Blaine stares at it for a moment, then looks back at Kurt, then back at his hand. He reaches out and fits his hand into Kurt's, his fingers long and his hand larger than Blaine's own. His skin is soft and Blaine can't help but brush his thumb over the inside of Kurt's wrist before pulling away. Kurt's blushing a little and it's just so so pretty.
"Blaine," He replies, and suddenly standing out there on Santa Monica Boulevard with Kurt Hummel Blaine feels more sober and focused than he has in months.
They walk a few blocks until they come upon Kitchen 24 and Blaine's on a downward hill towards being sober and suddenly starving so they go in. Kurt orders a tea and slice of apple pie and Blaine can't help but go for an omelet with everything he can think of inside. Their walk had been strange and slightly silent but neither had been willing to say goodbye and go their separate ways. He learns as they walk awkwardly close to one another for two relative strangers that Kurt's visiting from New York, where he's a stylist's apprentice for a fancy woman with a difficult name who dresses celebrities. He's here for two weeks, visiting shops Blaine's never even heard of, to pick up pieces for his boss for the summer season. It's the first time she's entrusted him with a task of this magnitude, he explains, and even though Blaine has no idea what any of it means in the grand scheme of things he can tell Kurt's honored and touched and really really serious about his job.
"This can be it," He says as he stirs a splash of skim milk into his tea, "This can be what makes or breaks my career."
Blaine tries to wonder what it must be like to be that passionate about his job and fails. He was once really serious about writing but that feels like lifetimes ago now because the words seem to have just slipped from his fingers, melted into nothing but muddled thoughts and hapless ideas. He's lucky, he knows, to be making money writing - knows that it's sort of a cheat for someone like him, who's not as passionate about it as some people are. He knows this, he tries to be grateful.
He knows the next beat of this conversation is going to stray to him, to his career, his life. Blaine - he's not interested in any of that, not with Kurt sitting in front of him, seeming so interesting and challenging and stunning. Blaine watches the way he holds his teacup with great care, how he subconsciously presses his fingertips to his hairline to ensure there's not a strand out of place. If Blaine was a different kind of writer he could write odes to those fingers, to the lilt of his voice, to the quiet bow of his lips. Blaine's half in love with him already, he knows, and he knows zilch about Kurt Hummel other than the fact that he's going to be taken away from him in two weeks so why bother, really.
"Do you like New York?" He asks, because he wants to hear Kurt talk forever, doesn't want to talk about himself. Kurt takes the bait and Blaine wonders if he's allowed this, if he has someone, or someone(s) in his life to listen to him. He lights up; sits up straight, cracks a vibrant smile, and begins to talk and talk and talk about New York, about the people and the skyline and the beauty of it. How he likes to read on the subways on his commute to work, how the rumble of the train under his feet soothes him after a long day. He talks about walking in Central Park and attending Fashion Week in Bryant Park and getting coffee at the place around the corner from his apartment with his best friend Rachel, a Broadway starlet who's name is just familiar enough to Blaine that he's sure he's seen her on the Tony's before. He talks about how he has not enough room for his clothes and he doesn't make nearly enough money for his taste but he also talks about how he wouldn't change it for anything, how content he is.
Blaine aches as he listens, gives up on his omelet just to watch Kurt's expressions and gesticulations as he keeps going, on and on and on. He's so incredibly happy for Kurt, so incredibly jealous of Kurt - he's never felt this way about a relative stranger before, about a guy he's never met before an hour ago. He's enamored. It's bound to be a problem.
"Why were you at that bar, anyway?" Kurt asks, and Blaine can't help but watch him with wide eyes as he licks the last bit of the apple pie off of his fork.
"I could ask you the same thing," Blaine teases, leaving his plate half full, "You are way too classy for that hole."
"It's within walking distance to my hotel," Kurt admits with a shrug, "I'm not much of a club-goer but I figured why not. It was a poor choice, I guess, judging by the clientele - especially the asshole who spilled his water all over my outfit."
"What a dick !" Blaine feigns indigence and can't help but smile when Kurt laughs, high and unabashed. It's so fucking cute.
"But it definitely doesn't explain why you were there - seems like exactly the sort of place native Los Angelenos avoid like the plague."
"My brother dragged me out. He's dating the bartender. I've been woefully boring as of late and he insisted I go out with him. I didn't know this was our destination or I would've fought harder to remain in my bed."
There's a pause where Kurt looks like he wants to say something, so Blaine waits it out, watches Kurt's face flush red. He can't help but laugh a little at it.
"Well," Kurt says, looking anywhere but Blaine's face, "I'm pretty sure I sort of owe your brother a thank you."
Blaine's heart picks up speed and it's the first time in a very very long time he's felt that way about anyone. He can't let Kurt get off that easy though.
Kurt huffs an annoyed breath and rolls his eyes, "Fine. Because I wouldn't have met you, that's why."
Blaine can't help the bright smile that crosses his face, "Just wanted to hear you say it."
By the time they leave Kitchen 24 it's nearly 4:30AM and Blaine realizes they'd been in there for over two hours, just talking. It scares him a little. They walk slowly back towards where the bar is as Blaine tries - unsuccessfully - to get hold of Cooper. His phone goes straight to voicemail and he doesn't answer texts and if Blaine wasn't so happy to be with Kurt he'd be livid.
"Of course he doesn't answer," He growls, then immediately goes to look up a cab service when Kurt pipes up.
"I can drive you to your place," He shrugs, "I have a rental car."
Blaine looks at him for a moment, then pockets his phone, "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it's not a problem - I didn't end up drinking at the bar anyway - some moron spilled water on me before I could even get my first cocktail so I'm all good."
"God, that asshole again - ruining nights and outfits. Who is he, anyway?"
Kurt laughs a little, walks a little closer to Blaine, bumps shoulders with him.
"I'm not quite sure but I'm hoping to find out."
The ride to Blaine and Cooper's place in Silver Lake takes fifteen minutes and it's done to the soundtrack of 90's pop music in Kurt's little Corolla rental.
"The drivers in this town are criminal," Kurt tuts, shutting off the music as they glide onto Blaine's street at his direction,"I've never seen so many people collectively decide not to use their turn signals."
"It's a requirement to live here, didn't you know? You have to be one of the worst drivers in the country."
Kurt laughs and Blaine loves making Kurt laugh, loves that he's making someone happy. It's a heady feeling.
They pull up to the front of the bungalow he shares with Cooper and he doesn't want to go, doesn't want the night to end. It's nearly 5AM and the sun is starting to come up and Kurt Hummel's eyes are tired but so blue. He wants to kiss him and hold onto him and hear him talk forever. They sit in silence for a few moments, Blaine watches Kurt take deep breaths, watches him have an internal battle. He can tell by the way his hand tightens on the steering wheel that Kurt's not ready to go yet, either.
"Come inside," He says, and it's just out there, blurted out like word vomit and Blaine can watch Kurt tense a little, take a deep breath, "Please. Please come inside."
Kurt laughs nervously, looks over at him with a soft, teasing grin.
"What kind of boy do you think I am, Mr. Blaine?" He replies, and the 'Mr. Blaine' of it confuses Blaine for a moment until he realizes he never even gave Kurt his last name. No wonder he is not rushing out to go into a stranger's house at 5AM in a city he doesn't know.
"Anderson," He continues, and on Kurt's confused expression, "My last name is Anderson. And - I'm not expecting anything. I just - I can't - I just don't want to say goodnight yet."
Kurt looks at him and Blaine knows his face is on fire. He hasn't talked about his feelings like this in a long time. He feels vulnerable, cold. There's a moment of silence, a moment Blaine recognizes as The Turning Point. He waits and he waits and he's about to tell Kurt never mind when he hears a sharp intake of breath.
"Yes. Sure, I'll come in." He sighs and Blaine lets out the breath he knows he'd been holding. He reaches for the door handle when suddenly there's a hand on his arm and he turns back to look at Kurt.
"I'm sorry - I don't mean to sound like I don't trust you, or that I'm afraid or - I just, I don't do this. I don't meet strange boys at bars and spend hours with them in a strange city. It's not me."
Blaine smiles, resists the urge to lean over and kiss the frown from Kurt's soft mouth.
"Don't ever apologize for who you are, Kurt. I wouldn't have blamed you if you had turned around and never wanted to talk to me again. I'm still trying to figure out why you're still here, why you're giving me the time of day. You're just - you're everything I never thought I'd meet."
Kurt blinks at him for a moment and Blaine's sure there's tears in his eyes. It makes Blaine's heart ache, but Kurt shakes his head and reaches to get out of the car.
Cooper's unsurprisingly sleeping on the couch when they enter the bungalow. Blaine can't help but sigh and roll his eyes, laughing a little when Kurt giggles.
"Cooper I assume?" He asks as they navigate through the dark house. His voice is soft and he's whispering but Blaine knows about Cooper so he doesn't even bother.
"Yep. Am I surprised? Nope," He flicks the lights on as they go, because he can and because Kurt's not used to navigating his place in the dark as he is, "Don't worry about being quiet - we could literally throw a dance party in here with a DJ and two hundred people and he wouldn't wake up."
He gives Kurt the tour which takes about five minutes in total - "Living room, kitchen, bathroom, spare bedroom that is technically Coop's but as you can see he doesn't sleep there often, my room, porch."
Ramona appears out of Cooper's bedroom with a tail wag and Blaine introduces her with a fond smile which grows when Kurt coos at her and lets her wind around his legs, successfully coating his lovely black pants with white fur.
"She likes you," He says, and he's not just saying that, because Ramona is a friendly dog but is usually indifferent unless it's Cooper or Blaine.
"I like her too. She's beautiful - aren't you pretty lady?" Kurt continues scratching behind her ears. She leans into his hand and looks up at him with a bright open-mouthed doggy grin and because Blaine generally likes Ramona more than most human beings he can't help but swoon a little.
They end up in Blaine's room and Kurt doesn't even blink at the invitation to lie on the bed. They curl up next to one another and talk, Ramona jumping up to squeeze between them and settle. Kurt grins, Blaine grins, they stare sleepily across the bed from one another with slow blinks. Kurt tells him about Rachel and New York and his job some more, talks about Ohio and Blaine nearly falls off the bed when he hears he's from Lima and had gone to McKinley.
There's something so sad in his voice, in his eyes that Blaine can't help but reach across and press his thumb to the inside of Kurt's wrist where it lies on the pillow above his head. He feels the goosebumps rise under his fingertips and smiles softly at Kurt.
"It's funny how things work out, isn't it?" Blaine asks, and Kurt nods, brushes a stray tear from his eye. Blaine wants to ask why, wants to know what caused such a reaction in Kurt, but this isn't the time for it - not at 6AM on a Sunday morning as the sun rises high in the sky and both of them are working on zero sleep. He presses his thumb into the soft skin of Kurt's wrist, feels his pulse under his fingertips and watches Kurt's eyes flutter closed in sleep. He realizes as he's drifted off that he hadn't told Kurt he and Cooper were from Ohio, too - from Westerville.
Sad things are for another time.
He's not sure what time it is but at some point Ramona's decision to jump off the bed jolts Blaine awake. He wakes up to see Kurt looking at him curiously, eyes woozy with sleep. They'd migrated a bit closer to one another at some point and he can't help but slide his hand further to grasp Kurt's. Kurt looks at their clasped hands and sighs a little, softly, happily.
"I'm so terrified," He whispers, and Blaine doesn't even have to ask why because he knows exactly what Kurt means. He sees it in his eyes. There's this boy laying in his bed like he belongs there, like he should always be there. They haven't even known one another for 24 hours. They haven't even kissed. They don't know one another's quirks or habits. They know so little - and yet, yet - it feels like enough to feel like forever.
"I am too." Blaine admits and wipes away a tear that crawls slowly down Kurt's cheek. He scoots over closer, lets Kurt burrow his face in his shirt. He holds him close because he doesn't know what else to do.
They wake up again and the clock says 1:30PM and that's just plain ridiculous, really. When Blaine extracts himself from Kurt's grasp to wipe the sleep from his eyes he looks up to see Cooper eating cereal in his doorway with his eyebrows raised. He glares, hoping that will deter him, but Cooper just smirks and munches obnoxiously loud, causing Kurt to stir.
"Get lost," Blaine says through his teeth to Cooper, who's still standing in the doorway like they're some live-action spectacle for his amusement. He doesn't even acknowledge him. Kurt turns when he sees Blaine sitting up and Blaine knows exactly when he notices Cooper's presence because he flushes all the way down to the vee of his button-down shirt.
"You must be Cooper," He says, voice still sleep stressed and a little rough.
Cooper shovels the last of his cereal in his mouth.
"The one and only."
Blaine makes him and Kurt pancakes and refuses any for Cooper no matter how much he pleads. Kurt thinks the entire exchange is hilarious and doesn't stop laughing, which makes Blaine warm all over. Kurt's quick to best Cooper, quick quip to quip, poking fun at him like they'd known one another forever rather than less than an hour. Cooper's impressed by Kurt, Blaine can tell, because he neither gets too arrogant and doesn't talk about himself as much as he tends to when he feels the company he's with is below him. He looks at the two of them curiously and Blaine can tell he's about to jump out of his skin in wonder but even he doesn't have the balls to come out and confront them about what's going on.
Honestly, Blaine's grateful, because he isn't sure either, and having the discussion in front of a nosy older brother isn't the place.
Kurt has the guts, though, to confront and tisk at Cooper for leaving Blaine behind and he's touched Kurt cares so much; that he's offended on his behalf.
After breakfast and Blaine's signature bad coffee he walks Kurt to his car because this is just ridiculous now and they need to be alone to collect their own thoughts.
They stand outside the Corolla awkwardly and Blaine feels like he's sixteen again on his first date with the boy he's been doodling hearts over in his math notebook. He feels disassembled, feels like he's been broken down into these tiny little pieces and then haphazardly put back together in a semblance of himself. He remembers Kurt knows very little about him because he hadn't wanted to talk about himself the night before and he's suddenly regretful of it because he's not sure where they're going to go from here.
Blaine's had one night stands, had awkward hook ups. This isn't that, this has never been that. This was on a totally different plane than every other interaction Blaine's ever had with a guy he's felt something for and but it's magnified times 100. He feels more raw, more broken then any other experience he's ever had.
They look at one another, stand by the car door. Numbers have been exchanged at least, even though Kurt cautions that during the week he's running around all over town. Blaine carefully saves it in his phone and then checks it at least three times to make sure it's right.
It's time to let him go, to let him get into the car, but he can't, won't. He watches as emotions flicker over Kurt's face like a wave. His eyes are darker in the afternoon California sun.
"Oh fuck it," Kurt says and then suddenly he's being kissed and oh god, it's just so good. He makes an embarrassing sound into Kurt's mouth as he presses deeper, as he cups Kurt's jaw with shaking fingers. It rattles him down to his bones and by the time Kurt pulls away (oh how he wishes he wouldn't ever, though) he's trembling a bit.
Kurt gets in the car, leaving Blaine standing in the road agape and shaken. Kurt's trembling too, Blaine can see it as he struggles to get the key in the ignition and Blaine's about to step in and tell him to not drive in such a state (if he can get his mouth to connect to his brain) when he finally starts the car. Just as he's about to pull away, Kurt presses his fingertips to the window. Blaine can't help but press back.
He's gone then, leaving him alone right there. Everything's changed now. Everything's different.
In Mediocrity, B.A. Dalton (aka Blaine Anderson) told a story about an upper middle class family in the mid-west (Ohio) who's son, 45 pages in, is struck by a car and killed. It's the deconstruction of a family, the crumbling of a dynamic that's only formed by a combination of natural and forced love. The parents, who had doted on the deceased son, are utterly destroyed. Their elder son, the one that's always felt a sort of neglect because he was never quite favored by his family, falls into disrepair and in a sadness that only a sixteen year old that's lost his brother (literally) and parents (figuratively) can. The novel follows his failures after that day, how his brother constantly haunts him, how he's always left in the wake of sadness and unhappiness in his pursuit to change himself and his path.
Even though Mediocrity didn't sell millions of copies, it was critically acclaimed by enough book critics for Blaine to be proud of it, despite how drained and dark it had led him.
"There's something haunting, tragically defining, about Dalton's words," said Jason Ellis of the New York Times in the smallest blurb review Blaine's ever seen, "He can truly transport you into his character's hearts and souls. You're suddenly there, living their tragedy. It's difficult. Transcendent. Faintly magical."
Of course, it's not without it's critiques, too -
"But where Dalton takes you on this journey kicking and screaming, it's difficult not to drown - to drown in the sadness, drown in the intense, dark flavor of the novel. It becomes tedious after awhile, becomes a chore to come back to. Why reach for this book when you know it'll travel you to your deepest recesses? That's ultimately the problem. Sincerely the problem."
Blaine keeps his reviews in smooth plastic binders by date, not to feed his ego, but to be a reminder that he's gotten somewhere, that he's accomplished something - and that he has a long way to go.
Later, there's a text.
tomorrow, coffee? y/y? (please say yes.)
Blaine says yes.
Kurt Hummel is stunning in the way that Blaine wants to stare at him forever, can talk about the lilt of his voice and the sly eyebrow that goes up whenever he's trying to tease Blaine. They meet at Intelligentsia the very next day, sit across from one another in the bright California sun with Ramona at their feet. He watches Kurt's mouth form words as he speaks, watches him grasp the coffee mug in front of him with careful fingers. He's perfectly dressed, not a crease or wrinkle on him anywhere, hair brushed up and out of his face, eyes sharp and seeing. He doesn't look away from Blaine once, not to glance at his phone when it buzzes on the table, not to glance at the abundant interesting people that scoot past them in pursuit of a table. Blaine feels taken apart by Kurt, by his observant stare. Kurt laughs at every stupid joke, sincerely. He pokes fun at him when he thinks Blaine's being too cheesy. He takes the fact that Blaine's being dodgy about what he does for a living in stride, doesn't even make a crack about hoping he's not a drug or arms dealer. He frowns only when Blaine gets a little serious. He doesn't hesitate to reach across the table to hold Blaine's hand.
He's exactly everything Blaine has ever hoped he'd find. He's funny, he's smart.
He lives in New York and is leaving in 2 weeks.
Blaine can't shake it; it sits at the back of his mind during the whole conversation, during their second and third coffees. He can't get it out of his mind when he's wondering if Kurt will kiss him again, or what the curve of his neck will taste like. He thinks about it when Kurt's baby-talking to Ramona, petting her fondly and not caring when she leans against his leg and rubs her fur all over his perfectly pressed skinny jeans. It doesn't go away when he's painfully away how much of a mess he must look like compared to Kurt - unshaven and wash-faded purple tee.
It won't even stop when they're walking down West Sunset towards wherever and Kurt stops him with a hand on his elbow.
"Stop thinking about it," He says, and Blaine is confused, honestly, because is he that transparent? "Whatever it is. You're a loud loud thinker."
Blaine, he blushes, like a schoolboy with a crush - which is what he is essentially, despite his age. Kurt's just so amazing and he wants to just be with him forever and ever.
"We have two weeks." Kurt says, and it's the first time Blaine can see the reflection of eagerness, of sadness, of anticipation in Kurt's eyes, "I'm not normally this guy but California is reckless. Let's make the best of them."
This is the first time Blaine Anderson (aka B. A. Dalton) will realize he'll never be able to say no to Kurt Hummel. He nods and gets lost in Kurt's gaze.
Kurt kisses him again, is apparently destined to drag Blaine into giving in forever and ever. They're on the corner of Sunset and Hyperion and there is a cafe behind them, a vintage store two doors down, and they're surrounded by twenty-something hipsters. Blaine's never felt so free in his life, even after Ramona circles them in impatience and essentially ties them together with her leash. Kurt's laughter is what finally pulls them apart. Ramona just stares up at them, unamused.
Blaine takes Kurt to Hollywood and Highland to properly see the Hollywood sign.
"It's beautiful," Kurt says, and he's got tears in his eyes. Blaine's not sure why, but is grateful when Kurt lets him hug him tightly, lets him take a shaky, one-handed photo of the two of them from the overlook. They only get the 'Hollyw' in the background but it's still his favorite picture, perhaps ever.
Later, Kurt presses his hands in Judy Garland's hand print in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre and mugs for the camera when Blaine offers to take a picture for him.
When they finally get back into the car, Kurt leans over and kisses him silent, interrupting his story about Cooper and his time on the Modern Family set.
"I don't know what I'm doing," Kurt says when he's successfully taken Blaine's breath away.
"I don't either," Blaine replies honestly, and then leans in to take Kurt's breath away, this time.
Blaine was twenty two when he wrote Subject, high on living the LA life and spending five years living in close contact with Cooper, the man before he'd moved to LA that was his brother more in name than in practice. They were nearly ten years apart, they'd essentially lived in two different households growing up. Cooper had known a Mom and Dad who were young and fresh with hope and happiness; who struggled with finances but strove to make their little boy happy. He knew a family where they'd drive to the Lakes and have a camping weekend, where Dad rode on roller coasters and gave him piggy back rides and sang along with the radio. By the time Blaine was born, laughter was infrequent in their home; Dad had a high profile job and no time for his youngest. Blaine had watched the camaraderie Cooper had with their father with only an envy that a kid can muster - the kind that burned a little in his heart, made him cry a little at night. Cooper waved goodbye when he graduated high school without a look back. Blaine had never really knew his older brother Coop.
In LA they were sort of meeting for the first time, Blaine and Cooper Anderson. They were peers suddenly, on the same wavelength. Blaine grew to alternately love and loathe his brother, suddenly had the realization how much they were actually extremely and completely not alike. It scared him, sometimes, when he'd see Cooper make a gesture Blaine knew he made all the time, freaked him out when they stood side by side at the bathroom mirror and they suddenly looked eerily similar. Cooper was egotistical in the way an actor can only be, because if Blaine's learned anything about living in LA, it's what an actor is. They take their craft and themselves so so seriously and Blaine's come to understand that if they truly realized how pointless and ridiculous their pursuits were that the world would come to a halt. Acting and the pursuit of a celebrity is what makes the world go 'round, really - because human beings are so inherently curious about everyone else's lives. Actors just get to portray those lives we're all curious about; be the careful and safe gateway into a world we would otherwise never want to stop into as ourselves.
Cooper was like all the rest, talking about his "art" and his "goals" and what the "craft" of acting meant to him. Blaine got used to the random scene readings in the living room, the boasting to anyone who would listen, the careful way Cooper was so proud of himself. Blaine came to love it as much as it made him roll his eyes because while Blaine had difficulty taking himself seriously, Cooper was the exact opposite. He never let his faults weigh him down. He ran, quickly and swiftly towards his goals and doesn't care if he came up short. He'll never be truly happy as he stands but he never gives up. Blaine just isn't wired that way.
So when it came to sketching, then outlining, a new protagonist for his novel, Cooper was embodied in Zach Irving almost effortlessly. Charming and handsome and painfully unaware, Zach pursued his goals of being a famous artist relentlessly, pulling and pushing anyone down in his path in the process. He was a lost soul, forever lonely but never alone, leaving strings of broken hearts and blank faces behind. He was Cooper through and through.
"Zach Irving is the kind of character that you hope doesn't exist," Said Brady Miller of the NY Times, "Because he's just so foolish and fool-hearted."
Little did they know - Zach Irving did exist, and not only that, he did so as Blaine Anderson's older brother.
Kurt and Blaine, they stand side by side at the front door to the lobby of Kurt's hotel in silence, both aware of the time, aware that the day's over, but unwilling to say goodbye. Kurt's tired, Blaine can tell - his eyes aren't as bright, he lists slightly to his right. He holds Blaine's hands tightly though, looks boyishly unsure and tremendously charming. Blaine can't help but sway into Kurt's personal space, can't help but press his forehead onto the side of Kurt's chin, exhaling deeply onto Kurt's neck and sending a series of goosebumps up his arms. Kurt holds him close, and Blaine's forgotten that they're practically strangers. He forgets as quickly as he's forgotten that he should be wary of this, because Kurt's leaving and soon he'll be a stranger again.
"Who are you?" Kurt whispers against his cheek, thumbing his chin with his free hand, the tips of his fingers tickling Blaine's face. Blaine just huffs a slight laugh.
"I'm not sure myself sometimes."
They can't part but Kurt's wary and Blaine's not ready to push so they lay on Kurt's fully-made hotel bed and stare up at the white-washed ceiling, looking for answers neither of them have.
Kurt talks; Blaine learns his father's a Congressman, that he still owns a tire shop in Lima, that he has a stepmother named Carole and a stepbrother named Finn. He describes his best friend Rachel with vigor, complete with an impression that makes Blaine snort. He learns Kurt went to school to be on the Broadway stage but gave up shortly after graduation, finding happiness in fashion instead. He makes Kurt sing for him, a popular Broadway song of the moment, his brilliant counter tenor making Blaine tremble. The acoustics of the room are horrid but Kurt lets him curl up and put his head on his chest so he can hear the notes straight from his chest; his throat.
They fall asleep as Blaine tells him about Cooper, about Ramona and how he'd rescued her from one of the valley shelters when she was about to be put down.
When he wakes up the next morning, Kurt is gone but there's a note in his place.
had to do a few work things this morning. didn't want to wake you up; you looked so peaceful. i will be back early afternoon, feel free to stay or if you don't, call me later ! xk
Blaine has to go back to the bungalow, has to get the words in his hands, in his fingertips, down onto the page. By the time 1PM rolls around he's completed another ten pages of material that he feels is at least workable and least salvageable. He lets Ramona out into the backyard and stands into the bright California sun, feeling like he's seeing again for the first time in a very very long time.
He doesn't even get a chance to call Kurt later because suddenly he's in their kitchen, unloading bags and bags of groceries as if he belongs there, as if showing up and unloading groceries in a home that's not your own isn't strange at all. Cooper's standing at the island leaning against the counter eating cereal and watching Kurt curiously. When he notices Blaine standing confusedly in the pathway between the kitchen the the bedrooms he shrugs.
"I let him in," He says, as Kurt distractedly reaches down to pet Ramona's head where she's nudging at his hip, tail wagging a mile a minute. He must find what he's looking for (a medium sized glass bowl) when he sees Blaine. His smile jolts the surprise right out of his bones and he doesn't even hesitate when Kurt leans over and pecks a kiss to his lips.
"I hope it's okay I just showed up," He says, resuming his unloading of groceries. Blaine can see an array of different meal options being spread before him as Kurt finishes up - there's milk and eggs and pasta and the freshly made french bread from the little bakery two blocks over that Blaine loves. Tomatoes and peppers and all sorts of cheeses and Blaine's not sure they've ever had so many options of different sorts of food in their kitchen before - neither of them were particularly handy with recipes or meal concoctions.
"It's fine," Blaine replies, because it is, because he's actually not terrified by the fact that the guy he's spent the last two nights with NOT having sex is inviting himself into his home, he's just baffled really, and a really really touched by the gesture.
"I thought I'd make dinner for you? And Cooper?" He asks, finally looking up at Blaine since he'd leaned across the counter to kiss him quickly, and Blaine can see his cheeks are pink and his eyes are uncertain and he wonders how hard it must have been for Kurt to just take this leap of faith. He didn't know Blaine, not really, not yet - and he could have been rejected. He could have thought the fact that Blaine hadn't called or texted him yet today was rejection. Instead, he spent what most likely is at least $100 worth of groceries and hauled them over to Blaine's house in hopes he'd be okay with him turning up unannounced offering to make dinner.
"That sounds incredible," He says honestly, and reaches across the counter top to squeeze Kurt's hand for a moment, brushing his thumb across Kurt's knuckles, watching in delight as his cheeks pinked further.
"Sounds totally fucking fantastic honestly," Cooper continues, honestly excited, honestly amped, not at all curious or outwardly nosey about what the hell is going on with Kurt and Blaine (something Blaine is grateful for, really). He dumps the rest of his cereal into the garbage disposal and wiggles a little in place, "What are you making?"
They pour wine liberally and Cooper invites over the Girl with the Pink Streaks (her name is Rose, he finally learns) and by the time Kurt's incredible pasta dish and garlic bread is gone, they're all a little tipsy. Rose, she's smart - smarter than Blaine had given her credit for- and she's got a great laugh and an insane sense of humor that clashes and compliments Kurt's at the same time. By the time they finish up the second bottle Blaine's not sure how either of them had landed either of these people; the Anderson's always take themselves too seriously, take everything to heart, have a hard time looking for the bright side.
Blaine immediately regrets his original attitude to Rose, mostly because of how warmly Kurt treats her when they're first formally introduced; how he immediately compliments her boots and asks her about herself. It makes Blaine feel like an asshole, a recluse - ignorant and full of himself. He'd never given her a chance, never had given any of Cooper's girlfriends a chance, had always written them off before they'd even spoken. Now, several glasses of wine in and conversation over dinner over, Blaine knows she's an artist, the real kind, who has work in galleries and went to CalArts and is actually fairly well known. She bar tends for extra cash and to find inspiration, because "only the most colorful and colorless people come into my bar". She isn't afraid to poke fun at Cooper, to roll her eyes when he's getting a bit ridiculous. Blaine immediately wonders if any of the rest of them had ever done that or if she's special, because she seems pretty special.
By the way Cooper's looking at her he obviously thinks she's a little special too.
She and Cooper offer to wash the dishes as the night winds down (well she offers, Cooper goes along with it out of chivalry or something, most likely) and Kurt and Blaine are left to themselves. Blaine leads them to the front stoop, concrete and cold, even on the warm spring Los Angeles evening, and Ramona curls up on the step below them, her head pillowed on Kurt's ankle. She's dreaming - her legs are twitching in her sleep and she's shaking a little and Blaine remembers suddenly the first time he'd seen her do that - the night he'd brought her home from the shelter. He hadn't ever owned a dog before; was terrified of being in charge of another living thing's life. He ended up calling the emergency vet twice, and then not sleeping all night despite their insistence that she wasn't having any sort of seizure.
Kurt leans down and gently rubs at the scruff under her neck and she sighs, stills into a deeper sleep. Blaine is enamored.
"You know," Kurt says, keeping his voice low, throaty - it sends shivers down Blaine's spine, "I know absolutely nothing about you."
Blaine knows this is true, because he's carefully arranged it that way - arranged it so that Kurt keeps talking; telling. When Blaine doesn't speak up, Kurt continues.
"Well, that's not completely right because I know you have an older brother, and you have Ramona and you live in LA - specifically Silver Lake - and you take your coffee black with one sweetener. I know you sing and play guitar because I saw it and I've heard you hum under your breath - too well for the average hummer - and don't you take that in the dirty sense, Blaine Anderson. I know you don't like talking about yourself. I know you are just as baffled about what's going on with us as I am. I know you're just as scared."
There's silence for a few moments with the exception of the crickets and the random car passing by. LA is so beautiful at night, sometimes - Blaine's forgotten that. He's forgotten most things until he'd met Kurt.
"I'm from Ohio, like you," He admits, and doesn't miss the sharp intake of breath that Kurt gives. It feels like betrayal, telling Kurt this now, after he'd shared the night before what it'd been like to grow up in Ohio as a gay teenager, alone in many many respects, "Not that far from where you grew up, either - Westerville?"
"That's a couple of hours away." Kurt says, and they both take a moment to watch as Ramona rolls onto her back in her sleep, panting mouth drooling on the cuff of Kurt's pants. He just smiles down at her, unbothered.
"I went to Dalton Academy," He starts, and then the entire story spills - how he'd been bullied in his first high school, nearly beaten into a coma, how he'd escaped to Dalton with very little hope. He'd joined the Warblers ("We must have competed against one another," Kurt interrupts solemnly) and made friends and then there was Sebastian - the first boy who wanted him; that promised him things. He'd given everything to Sebastian - his first real kiss, his virginity, his love. They made plans; they talked big - The Future sort of stuff, the kind of things that teenagers don't bother themselves with. He'd been mistaken in believing they'd be together forever - his daydream and haze only abruptly cleared when he found Sebastian literally in bed with another, older, college guy. They'd been together for three years.
It's tough talking about Sebastian, because Blaine's insanely aware of the fact that it was him that makes the Blaine now so wary, so unsure, so distrusting of anyone with a kind face and plenty of promises. It's why even now, after so many hours sitting, talking, eating, kissing and sleeping next to Kurt he's afraid. Sebastian ruined him in some ways. There are figurative scars everywhere. It's embarrassing.
Kurt doesn't offer condolences when his story is over, doesn't offer sympathy or hateful words for Sebastian. He just lets it soak out there in the California evening air, let's it get lost among the distance sirens and Ramona's soft snoring.
"What would you and I had been like if we'd met in high school?" Kurt finally asks, as if it's pained him to do so. Blaine thinks about the terrible things Kurt had told him had happened to him in his first three years at McKinley, thinks about how, to Kurt, that idea would be tremendously bittersweet. He lets himself imagine, briefly - thinks about what a younger Kurt would have looked like, how he might have been a tad shorter and little bit rounder in the cheeks, how much easier he must have blushed back then- Kurt is certainly someone who probably unfurled and blossomed as he got older. The way he carries himself now tells stories about how he'd gained that courage and that it took awhile for it to be natural to him.
He imagines introducing himself to Kurt dressed as Dapper Blaine did back in his Dalton days; all slicked back hair and blazer. He wonders if Kurt would have seen through the facade, reached beyond the glossy exterior. He wonders if Sebastian would had ever been his boyfriend, his first, his everything.
He can't let himself think about it too long, though, because it's all too lovely, too perfect, too simple to think about. There are days when Blaine wants to hit rewind and take himself back; do things over. Right now, though, he's got Kurt right beside him, in the now.
"It's too scary to think about," He admits, because that's very very true. Going down the path of 'what ifs' and regrets is only a slippery slope.
When he looks back at Kurt he can tell the other is blinking back tears. Blaine scoots over a little, presses his shoulder into Kurt's.
"It really is."
Kurt doesn't leave because Blaine doesn't want him to and Kurt doesn't obviously want to, either. It feels different, this time, when they retreat into Blaine's bedroom. This will be the third time they've shared a bed, the third time they've curled up together. Blaine's been obsessed with Kurt's lips all night, distracted by the way he speaks, by the way he presses his fingers to his lower lip when he pauses. They've kissed and they've held one another close but Blaine's desperate for it, desperate to have Kurt in his bed to make him fall apart under his hands.
But he's not that guy - he's not the guy that will push to get what he wants. He wants Kurt to be comfortable, wants him to trust him, doesn't want to scare him away.
There's something different for Kurt, too, though this time, because when the door closes behind him Blaine's not prepared to be pressed up against it, to be kissed like he's the very oxygen that Kurt needs to survive. Kurt's needy with his touches, with his kisses and Blaine knows it's different this time. Feels it in the intent of Kurt's fingers, in the breathy way he says Blaine's name.
So Blaine, he crumbles, drops his shields and inhibitions completely and lets go - gives Kurt all that he's giving back, kisses him with passion he's not sure he's ever had and makes sure to worship every bit of exposed flesh as he sheds Kurt's clothes. He learns Kurt makes the loveliest pleased noises, that he has an incredible body (long long legs) and that he literally shudders when Blaine presses him into the bed with intent to pleasure him. They kiss endlessly, always separating to find one another again. By the time Blaine's inside Kurt he feels raw in a way he hasn't in a long while, feels exposed, feels turned inside out.
Later, naked and unabashed, Kurt giggles listlessly into Blaine's shoulder, pressing his thumbs into the grooves of Blaine's hips, kissing under his chin as Blaine holds him close.
"That was disgustingly good," Kurt says with a little bit of a teasing bite in his voice, "I haven't had sex that good - god, I don't know how long. Maybe ever."
Blaine does flush a little, lets himself preen under Kurt's praises, but he's really not that arrogant, "Well it must be you because I'd say I'm adequate at best."
Kurt scoffs, bites Blaine's throat gently in retaliation, "Hmmm, maybe it's both of us. Maybe we're just good at sex. Together."
"Probably." Blaine agrees and then surreptitiously, because he can't help himself, squeezes Kurt's ass. Kurt yelps a little pinches his side, throwing a leg over Blaine's hip when he tries to roll away. He presses an unbelievably charmingly chaste kiss to Blaine's nose.
Blaine wakes up to Kurt sitting up against the headboard of his bed, sheets pooled at his waist, profile highlighted by the bright California morning sunshine. He's got one hand on Blaine's shoulder blade, thumbing the birthmark he's always had a love/hate relationship with, and the other is a copy of Mediocrity - Blaine's publisher's copy, in fact - cracked open and leaned up against a bent knee. He feels his heart stop momentarily, feels his chest tighten and everything's cold all over.
From the looks of it, Kurt's been up for quite a bit of time because he's nearly halfway through it's 400 pages already.
Kurt looks up when he feels him stir and he smiles, sweet and gentle. He looks sated, emotionally and physically, and just a little bit sad, raw at the edges.
"I love this book," He says softly, sighing to himself, "Sorry - I saw it on your shelf when I was coming back from the bathroom and I couldn't not pick it up. It's so upsetting but it's so so good. I can't even remember how many times I've read it."
Blaine feels like he's frozen, like the time/space continuum has rewound and then frozen and then started back up. There's a boy in his bed, a boy whom Blaine feels more strongly for than any other guy he's ever had in his bed, and he's reading his freshman novel with tears in his eyes, citing that it's one of his favorite books.
Even worse - Kurt doesn't know he's the writer, thanks to his childish decision to have a pen name. He doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to break the silence, because proclaiming authorship of said novel suddenly would seem arrogant and douchetastic and prove exactly why Blaine didn't tell Kurt in the first place - because how does one tell someone they're a professional writer without sounding arrogant and douche-tastic? (The answer? You can't.) Proclaiming ownership to the world Kurt holds in his hands now would seem like a betrayal, seem foolish and ridiculous. Blaine can't do that.
"Oh, don't read that right now, it's depressing," He says, reaching over and carefully taking the book from Kurt's hands, because it's true - it is depressing, and Blaine just wants to roll around in bed with Kurt some more, wants to taste his skin in the California daylight. It's not a lie, per say- it's just not the whole truth.
Kurt has to leave an hour later, despite Blaine's puppy-faced protests and many attempts to cajole Kurt into staying in bed. He has some work thing to do (which is a painful reminder that Kurt has an actual reason for being in LA, that he has a goal in his two weeks, that despite his hours with Blaine he needs to get things done and he's not willing to sacrifice them for a boy who needs to shave and his bizarro family) so he dresses in the same clothes from the night before slowly, obviously not excited about leaving the warmth of Blaine's bed.
"Come back here after," Blaine suddenly blurts. He has the copy of Mediocrity pressed between his hands, fingertips red under the pressure he's putting on the hard cover. Kurt stills from where he's putting on his shoes and looks over, eyebrows up.
"Come back here after and bring your stuff," Blaine continues, because he's obviously not capable to control his mouth, "Stay with me for the rest of your trip. Please."
Kurt is sitting there, on the edge of his bed, half-dressed and luminous. He's everything, suddenly - everything Blaine never knew he wanted. He feels desperate, choked even at the thought that Kurt had to be gone for the afternoon. He's not going to pretend that he doesn't want him in his bed every night until he has to go. He can't.
Kurt's eyes search his for a few moments, bright and unsure. Blaine's not sure what he's looking for but he must find it because he smiles then, soft and happy, and something thumps painfully in Blaine's chest. He thinks it may be his heart or something.
Kurt's gone for four hours and during those four hours Blaine sits in his office and writes until his wrists and fingers hurt, writes to stop his brain from thinking, to keep himself alive and awake in Kurt's absence. Cooper brings him coffee and runs commentary on the state of Silver Lake today in between pages; doesn't ask about Kurt and doesn't talk about Rose. They co-exist for the afternoon, for the first time in a long time, Blaine typing and unseeing except for the words unfolding on the page and Cooper reading scripts. Ramona snores peacefully on the floor between them.
By the time he hears a tentative knock on the front door presenting Kurt on his return Blaine feels hollowed out; exposed by everything he's gotten down on the page. He rereads the last sentence he'd written once more and rubs his aching wrists before getting up to let Kurt in; knowing that Kurt will soothe his pains, fill up the emptiness.
Kurt shows up with his rolling suitcase and his carry-on and tells him that he's checked out of his hotel and that he hopes that was what Blaine meant earlier this morning. Blaine just responds by kissing him deep, causing Kurt's bag to drop, forgotten, in their entryway as they wrap themselves in one another.
Later they take a shower together, Cooper safely out of the house meeting Rose, and they make an event of it - stripping one another slowly, making out leisurely under the hot spray.
As they walk back to Blaine's bedroom the calendar catches Blaine's eye. His gaze settles on the 14th, Kurt's last day - and realizes they're already well into the two weeks.
There's really only ten days left.
They have sex, a lot, and Blaine thinks it might be the most sex he's ever had. He can't get enough of Kurt's skin, of the way he kisses, of how adorable he looks sleep-rumpled and fucked out in the mornings. They get sloppy with it; stop caring if Cooper can hear them, make more hickeys than age appropriate, really. In the mornings they walk the two blocks to Intelligentsia and drink over-priced coffee amongst the hipster clientele, feet pressed together under the table. He learns quickly that Kurt laughs with unabandon and that he's relentless with his teasing if he feels someone needs to be teased and he's critical of Blaine's wardrobe choices but admits he sort of loves the beard burn he gets from Blaine's stubble. They make out like teenagers wherever they can really get away with it, including a booth at Intelligentsia until they get cat-called by the hot blond barista who winks lasciviously at them from his perch behind the espresso machine.
Blaine - he learns to talk and admit and explain and let go and suddenly Kurt Hummel knows more things about him than most of Blaine's lifelong friends do - knows about the Sadie's Hawkins dance and Sebastian and how listless he's been lately, until Kurt had come into his life. He tells him about his childhood in Ohio; living in a household with cold, distant parents, not understanding them and their choices, about being a product of a interracial relationship that must have been based in some sort of love at one time. He talks about college in LA and getting to know Cooper and how much of a ridiculous of a human being he's been lately - how he puts people into boxes and how that's not fair and how Blaine feels like it's his weakest and grossest quality.
He talks and Kurt listens and then Kurt talks and Blaine listens but somehow Blaine doesn't talk about being B.A. Dalton and his works and how Kurt is rapidly becoming his muse, because he doesn't know how to start, not anymore.
Blaine remembers mostly Ohio winters, but can't really remember what cold feels like, what it truly is like when it gets down into your bones. California does that; it skews your perspective on cold, on sun. It's easy to get spoiled with the sunlight, with the warm days, with the comfort of just a light jacket and a frivolous scarf to ward off wind chill. It's spring, which means even more sun, even more bright days without rain to chase it away. Kurt is stunning in the sunlight, all pale lines and raised eyebrows as he carefully eats his frozen yogurt. From where he's sitting, Blaine can hear the waves hitting the beach. He can see Los Angeles alive around them. He's forgotten what it's like to be so aware of the things around you, to truly appreciate the happy and the warmth and the beautiful that your world has to offer. Sure, Los Angeles is also smog and traffic and horrible horrible drivers, but it also has beaches and beautiful days and palm trees.
Lately, though, it also has Kurt. Los Angeles has never been brighter.
Blaine accompanies Kurt to the cute little vintage shops off Melrose one afternoon, watches as Kurt comes alive in a way he's never seen. He's at work in this mode - picking pieces that could serve as inspiration for the designer he apprentices for, separating the garbage from the gold. He finds beauty in the strangest things - a broken brooch, a pair of men's shoes from the 50's with no laces. He uses Blaine as a sounding board without really expecting any sort of reply, gives him a look, smirks at him over his shoulder, holds up a shirt to his chest in a yay or nay. To Blaine, the store (cute, hipster, retro), is nothing more than another of the hundreds of vintage stores in LA. To Kurt, it's an opportunity to change his world, to find color in a dull place. He touches everything with reverence and knows more about stitching and fabrics and the color wheel then Blaine probably knows about music and writing combined. He leans in close to Blaine and uses a scrutinizing eye to size him up, pressing pants and button down shirts and bow ties to his form with a sly smile.
The shop's sole employee, an woman in her sixties with the most wonderful hat Blaine's ever seen is in love with Kurt with his first compliment of her outfit. By the time Blaine's found himself in the dressing room trying out clothes he probably never would have on his own, he can hear her telling Kurt about her "glory days", about working in Hollywood in the sixties, how she worked on the Paramount lot as a wardrobe girl during the heyday of the studio system. Kurt's laugh is clear, perfect, even through the muffled velvet drapes that serve as a doorway for the dressing room, and Blaine stops for a moment to listen, take it in, wonder how he'd gotten here, in this moment. He peeks through the crack between the curtains and he can see Kurt leaning over the counter peering at brooches with Gloria, her eyes bright and fond as she reaches over to pinch his cheek.
Inside the dressing room, Blaine peers in the musty mirror at the reflection of a boy he's fairly familiar with. He barely recognizes him, wearing close fitted tuxedo pants and a faded UCLA tee. He barely recognizes him. He doesn't recognize him at all.
Blaine sits sometimes during the afternoon, while Kurt lounges on the worn couch in their little home on his laptop, or on his phone, or sketching long lines of beautiful dresses with fancy colored pencils, and just looks at the clock and the calendar and watches the time slip away. Two weeks is no time at all, especially when two weeks is now nine days and then eight and then seven.
When he thinks he can't think about it anymore he steals Kurt's attention; closes the laptop, hangs up the phone, takes the sketchbook away. He concentrates then, on Kurt, because time - it's slipping so so far away.
Blaine writes when Kurt's asleep or when he's off doing the work he came to LA for and when he's gone, Blaine misses him so fiercely the words just seemingly pour out of his fingertips and his heart just pounds and he's not quite sure what he has in front of him but it makes him feel good, feel whole.
Blaine Anderson, he's always felt tethered to life, to the future, to the present. Kurt's cut those tethers just by existing and Blaine's never felt quite so much like he's falling - literally - in his life. He feels hopeless and re-invigorated and warm and cold all over.
It's Night Six when Kurt appears in the doorway to the porch-turned-office and, sleep rumpled and wearing nothing but boxer briefs. Blaine doesn't even notice him until Ramona jolts awake from her perch on the worn couch pressed up against the length of the closed in porch, her collar jingling loudly in the silence. The soft "whoosh whoosh" of her tail starting up, wagging in a frenzy at Kurt's presence is what finally does it, and he looks up to see Kurt leaning against the door frame, a confused smile on his face.
"What are you doing out here?" He asks, and the way the moonlight hits his torso Blaine can see the goosebumps flaring up. He feels exposed a little, caught in a lie that's not a lie, that is sort of a lie because they're very nearly halfway through and he hasn't told Kurt anything. Every word, every single comment and character and bit of dialogue on the desktop in front of him is all because of Kurt. Kurt's the only reason any of it exists.
It's the first time Kurt's been in this area, in his "office", and as Blaine watches Kurt cross the porch and settle on the couch, and as he pulls the worn quilt from the back of it over his body, he feels a little bit nervous, frozen. Ramona crawls her way between Kurt and the back of the couch, nuzzling her head happily on his chest and yawning, loudly and ridiculously, in Kurt's face. Kurt laughs a little, scratches behind her ears and then buries his fingers into the fur at the nape of her neck. He looks over at Blaine with a fond glance, with an unassuming smile.
"Mr. Secrets, hm?" He says, and Blaine realizes his fingers are still hovering uselessly over the keys, stuck in place. On the screen, the cursor is blinking ominously where he stopped mid sentence. At the bottom it reads '175 pages'.
"You're allowed your secrets, Blaine," Kurt says softly, "We're both allowed our secrets. Go back to whatever you were doing - writing in a blog, trolling reddit, looking for recipes, reblogging on tumblr, writing fanfiction."
Kurt's voice is soft, lilting, teasing. He winks at Blaine.
"I like the typing, it's soothing to me."
So Blaine does, he continues to write, only after a moment's hesitation, because the words are still at the tips of his fingertips and with Kurt closer it's seemingly easier. It feels easier, it is easier. Blaine, he writes through the night, and when the sun starts to rise he saves his work, closes it out and then joins Kurt and Ramona on the sofa. If it's a little cramped for two men and an 100 pound husky dog, that's okay, because Blaine's never felt so comfortable in his life.
So as the clock ticks down, and down, and even further, Blaine doesn't want Kurt too far away for too long because he seems the time slipping away and he's not ready to go yet. They drive, through Silver Lake and then Hollywood and West Hollywood and they take the canyon roads up and over the hills into the valley to eat the best crepes ever, keep going until it's dark and they get stuck on the 405 in rush hour traffic on the way home. With the windows rolled down and Kurt's favorite play list on at full blast Blaine's never been so in love with this city and the people in it, even as they crawl the distance back to the bungalow.
"Do you like it here?" He asks Kurt in between songs, because he's honestly curious. He's been to New York and he's loved it - loved the tall tall buildings and the smell of the fall time in the city and the rush of the train under his feet. He's imagined once or twice what it would be like to live there, to see Broadway shows and eat downtown and cross the Brooklyn Bridge holding a boy's hand. Sometimes between words and the very little sleep he's getting these days he allows himself to indulge what it'd be like to be there with Kurt, to walk hand in hand down West 4th and get a little brownstone in Brooklyn with enough yard for Ramona. Those daydreams are fleeting though, small little indulgences he'd never speak aloud.
But he can't tell what Kurt thinks of LA because he's calm and he's happy and he smiles so so much that he seems grateful to be anywhere, really.
"It's a beautiful city," Kurt says, his fingers tightening around Blaine's where they sit over the gear shift.
"So is a lot of cities," Blaine continues, because he's in that sort of mood. He can feel Kurt's eyes on him as they inch forward.
"You can say that about everything, you know. There's always something more beautiful than something else. You can't do that you know."
Blaine thinks about it but doesn't reply. A John Mayer song comes on shuffle, one written about New York, of course.
"My skin doesn't love this city," Kurt follows, his voice taking on that now-familiar teasing lilt, "Just too sensitive. This much sun is just plain nuts."
Blaine laughs a little, brings their joined hands up to his lips to kiss Kurt's knuckles. The song continues, talking about rain and memories and music.
He can barely hear it when Kurt says, "But it could learn to love it. All of me can."
His tone is wistful. Blaine's sure his heart stops in his chest.
Blaine busks on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica for fun, because it's the only thing that guarantees him some sort of an audience these days, even if said audience is parents dragging along small children by the hand as they look for new clothes. There's teenagers, too, a plethora of them, and Blaine's pretty popular with the 13-16 year old girls, probably because he's not a bad singer and he exudes the air of being perfectly harmless and friendly. He takes Kurt on day nine and Blaine plays for his gaggle of fans, sings with a little tiny horrible amp that never sounds exactly right and his acoustic guitar. Ramona, who usually sits at his feet during his performance, opts to sit under the bench at Kurt's, her head tucked on his foot as she dozes in the shade. Blaine's pretty sure his dog is even more in love with Kurt than he is.
He sings one, two, three - five, six songs, some covers, some really bad originals he'd penned years ago in front of a piano in college. He makes a few bucks and he has fun but the whole day is made by the soft kiss Kurt presses to his lips when he comes over after the set, his voice breathless as he sings praises to Blaine that he doesn't really think he deserves.
Later they go to the pier and stand at the very end of Route 66 out into the Pacific Ocean stretched out before them. Under his breath, Kurt starts humming.
"While arguably the weaker of Dalton's works, there is something to say about Subject, a novel about an artist that is so difficult to swallow he's almost hated throughout. Irving is dark, mean, and ambitious but his work doesn't reflect his attitude about his talent. He's not the most easy character to root for and there were times when I wanted to put the novel down and leave it be, citing it as a failure. But if you persevere, push through, you realize this story isn't really about Irving's arrogance and attitude but about his failures, his weaknesses, his difficulties. He's alone in a sea of so many other more famous, flashy, talented people. The more and more you get to know him the more and more you realize - we all know someone like him - he's the asshole in your college lecture, the douchebag in your office who boasts and brags, the lonely bitter old man living alone down the street- the old man the kids in the neighborhood is sure is some sort of warlock. He's sad and lonely. He's weak and hanging onto the only words he has left - his own.
You leave the novel disgusted and antagonized, but you also leave it feeling dejected and just sorry enough that you realize Dalton's intent all along - that he's a person too, and you hope he indeed finds happiness some day, if any." - Maryanne Jacobson, The Great Ones (Featured Novel Blog, New York Times, 2013)
It's Night Eleven when they drink a lot of wine again and sit on the stoop. It feels full circle, even if they haven't truly gotten to that point yet, because they still have three days. The thing is that Kurt's been on the phone a lot more lately, has been caught staring at the calendar. Their time is dwindling and they both know it.
They've talked a lot, during their days and nights together, and what they haven't learned by talking they learned by touching and tasting and making one another happy. Blaine knows how sensitive behind Kurt's right ear is, how he's ticklish at the backs of his thighs, that when he sings along with the radio he sings slightly off-key purposely to hide his remarkable voice (although Blaine could never understand why), that he loathes the fur that gets caught on all his clothes because of Ramona but adores her fiercely. He knows Kurt was a lonely kid, that his father is still his rock, that he has a handful of high school friends he meets up with every year to catch up. He knows Kurt's first long-term relationship was a boy in college named Chandler and that they loved one another fiercely until they just grew too apart. He also knows he hadn't anything serious since, that his heart is fragile, and the more he knows Kurt the more he knows he wasn't lying that first day when he insisted he'd never done anything like what he did with Blaine - leap without thinking.
He knows when Kurt's smiling genuinely and when he's faking it, knows the he's very picky about his skin routine and loves to stay active. He loves food though, loves the fancy restaurants and the frozen yogurts and delicious dessert options. He knows he has a tendency to be impatient with wait staff and can be a bit stuck up sometimes.
He also knows Kurt's one of the most genuine, kind-hearted people he's ever met.
"There was a time I wasn't like that," Kurt says on night six, as they lay nose-to-nose in Blaine's big bed, spent and sated, sweat still cooling on their skin, "There was a time, when I was a sophomore, right before I joined Glee club, that I was angry a lot more often, I was angry and bitter and I wasn't the nicest of people."
He admits it with such an ashamed sigh Blaine's heart beats painfully in his chest.
"Something had to change."
So he knows that a silly high school Glee club changed his life (and Kurt knows, ironically, that his own silly Glee club saved his own), and that Kurt's come a long way to being the person he's been spending time with now.
He wonders, fleetingly, what a younger Kurt Hummel must have been like. Blaine Anderson at sixteen was a tad cocky, over exuberant, eager to please. He's not sure if they would've fit then, even if he likes to hope they would have.
So it's night eleven and they drink a lot of wine and they're on the stoop and it's sort of full circle because time is coming to a close.
Kurt peers up at him from lowered lashes, Adam's apple bobbing with some sort of emotion.
"Tell me your secrets," He says.
During Night Six Blaine wakes up to an empty bed and the sight of Ramona standing in the doorway, ears up and tail wagging. He wanders out, looking for Kurt, and he's in the living room on his cell phone, talking in hushed tones.
"I know, Dad," He says, and it takes a moment for Blaine to realize Kurt's crying, little hitching sobs that break his heart, "I know it's crazy but I've never, ever ever felt this way and I don't know what to do? This isn't me, Dad, I usually don't do this but he's - he's everything? You know?"
Blaine listens to Kurt cry a little longer, fingers aching to reach out, but this isn't a moment for him, no matter how much it makes his heart pound. Instead he turns back and heads back into the bedroom and waits for Kurt so he can pull him close and feel his pounding heart against his own.
Blaine's been asked what it's like to be a writer before; it's an inevitability when you fill out bank forms or start small talk at the doctor's office or go to lease a car. People want to know - what do you write? You write novels? What kind of novels? What's it like to be able to make your own hours? Are you any good? You must be good! It's hardly surprising when the questions pour out in waves, because it's just glamorous and rare enough that people are intrigued.
Blaine's only been asked once, though, why he is a writer, and it was asked by a five year old at the grocery line at Ralph's as her mother piled things on the conveyor belt for purchase. Blaine, sleep-ragged and unshaven, was clutching a box of his favorite cereal when a little girl with the most adorable red hair looks up from her perch in the cart from the doll she's got gripped in her hands.
"I like your hair," She says loudly, and Blaine actually blushes because the curls have always been a point of contention and it wasn't until he was halfway through college that he gained enough confidence not to shellack it down to his head with an indeterminate amount of gel. The mother looks up from arranging frozen goods and gives her daughter a gently pointed look.
"Kate, remember what I said about minding your own business."
Blaine smiles then, because he doesn't like a world where children can't be curious and friendly, "It's okay. Thank you."
Kate smiles then, a bright, colorful kid-like grin that makes Blaine laugh a little.
"What's your job mister?" Kate asks, clearly encouraged now that Blaine's given his permission to be her friend.
"I'm a writer," He admits, after a moment. Kate's mom looks up at him and smiles, politely, a grin that says 'let's not encourage too much' so Blaine's prepared to curb whatever's next out of Kate's mouth.
"Why?" She continues, looking straight up at him with big bright eyes. Blaine doesn't need to curb then because Kate's derailed the conversation on her own, really. He can't really stop what comes out of his mouth next.
"I don't know."
Kate blinks owlishly up at him before giggling.
"I'm a writer," He says to Kurt on Night Eleven on the stoop just a little tipsy, voice hushed like he's telling him one of those super secrets, "I'm a writer. I write books. I wrote that book, the one you like, the one by B.A. Dalton. I wrote that."
Kurt looks at him for a moment and Blaine feels like there should be a weight off his shoulders or a deep foreboding sense of dread but there's none of that, none of it at all. There's just California night air and a half-empty bottle of cheap wine at his feet and Kurt Hummel sitting across from him. Kurt's serious expression melts away and he cracks a smile, a bright smile, one of his super rare ones that show his teeth ("I don't smile with my teeth because I look like a twelve year old," Kurt had admitted on Day Three, and so Blaine also knows that about him), and then he leans over and kisses Blaine, quick and fleeting. He pulls away before Blaine can really get it together and kiss back.
"You're ridiculous," He teases, "You're ridiculous for keeping that a secret."
"I had a fleeting moment where I thought you were some sort of ex-con or drug mule," He teases, and Blaine knows he's really just totally teasing because as much as Blaine knows Kurt Kurt knows Blaine, "But now I kind of want to fanboy over you. Will you sign my book?"
Blaine blushes, ducks his head when Kurt tries to kiss his cheek. It lands on his temple instead.
"So why?" Kurt says, and it stuns Blaine just as much as it did when little Kate had asked, "Why writing?"
And Blaine, he doesn't really have an answer - he didn't then, and he didn't now - but there's something in the way that Kurt's looking at him that makes him realize he's not asking out of curiosity but necessity, to learn the one part of Blaine he doesn't know, one that really defines him more than he'd like to admit.
But how do you explain it? How do you explain having to use words and create characters as catharsis, to make people live and breathe in your head, your fingers itching to to their stories. Blaine's a writer because he's good at it, he's lucky in that he gets paid for it, but it's his voice. It's the way he tells how he feels, it's how he emotes without fear, how he's able to mold and hide a bit of his own truth into the stories he's telling. There's a little bit of Blaine Anderson in every novel he's gotten published, in every short story he wrote for class, in every fairytale he'd pen at the back of his notebooks during high school. Without writing, Blaine loses himself. Without Kurt, at least lately, there's been no writing.
"Because I've never known my life without it," He says, finally, "Because I wouldn't know how to live without it. It's the only thing I'm truly truly good at and that I am confident in - even over music. Writing's everything."
He doesn't have to say it, but he can tell Kurt can see it in his eyes.
You are everything.
He lets Kurt read what he's written thusfar on Day Twelve, curled up on the desk chair with a cup of tea and the quilt wrapped around his shoulders. He looks unbelievably adorable in his glasses. Blaine pets Ramona until she gets tired of him and escapes into the kitchen where Cooper's making breakfast and singing along to the Best of the 70's radio. He feels raw.
"Wow," Kurt says, when he finally finishes, eyes impossibly wide and blue blue blue behind his glasses, "You are - it's remarkable. You're so special. I hope you know that."
Blaine's never really given it much thought, but he can't help but sort of believe it now.
They try to pretend Day Fourteen isn't right around the corner, but of course it sneaks up on them.
When the sun rises, Blaine wakes up to Kurt crying. He's not sure what to do. He feels tender and exposed and so so sad.
Kurt's plane leaves at 4PM.
He barely makes it.
Blaine wishes he didn't.
He sits in the 'no parking' zone at LAX until the airport traffic control bangs on his windshield and tells him he needs to move on. As he's pulling away from the curb, there's a text from Kurt.
i know we said we couldn't do this to one another but i don't know how i can live my life without you. xo
Blaine pulls away from the curb, tears blurring his vision. He narrowly misses an airport shuttle as his return text goes through.
i love you, too.
Blaine wishes sometimes that he lived in a romance novel, the kind that he reads sparingly because he just can't help it, but read he does. He imagines what it would've been like to hop out of his car on Day Fourteen and rush through the airport yelling for Kurt at the top of his lungs, pushing past weary travelers until they meet at the middle of Terminal C, arms tight around one another, exploding declarations of love. Life's not like that, it's not a novel. It's not even one of Blaine's, which tend to be on the darker, more bittersweet side - even his have a neat, compacted and definitive ending, even if they're not always happy. Life sort of always goes on. There's odds and ends and lingering emotions and things that can't be left open-ended. He thinks long and hard, they'd thought long and hard- about their options, the possibility of their future. It's not as easy as one moving to the opposite coast. It never is.
So Blaine - he writes, because it serves as a reminder of who he was with Kurt, how he'd made him feel. How he gave him his voice again, brought him back to life. He mopes a little, sure, and one night he gets so drunk that he ends up cuddling with Cooper and Rose in Cooper's bed one night, sobbing pitifully into the duvet while they both soothe him, but he keeps going because there's no where to go but forward.
Even without Kurt in his bed, in his arms, life goes on.
New York is the sort of place that seems like it should only exist in storybooks, in places of imagination. There's the most beautiful buildings the most colorful of people and the most exquisite art. Blaine Anderson drives one day from Los Angeles to New York in his lame slate gray Prius with his dog in the back and finds a life there, on the East Coast amongst the craziest backdrop.
He hadn't given Kurt Hummel a warning, you see. Once upon a time, Blaine Anderson and Kurt Hummel- they had a thing, a crazy two week romance that only exists in subtle romantic comedies by Wes Anderson and they'd let one another go, because life - it's not those romance novels. But Blaine, he'd forgotten that he could write his own story; that his words and emotions and actions did not need to be restricted to the words he wrote on the page. He'd forgotten that he was the protagonist in his own world, and he could go for it - he could go for happiness and it could happen (or it might not).
So he drives with his husky dog Ramona across the country to land in a state he's only just visited once. He gets lost on the subway a lot those first days, and once in Central Park. He falls asleep on the bus downtown and gets pick pocketed, of course, and he also forgets that it gets cold in New York City, that it's not Los Angeles, not in any way.
But he's there, and Kurt's there (somewhere) and it's only been six months but he's fearful he's forgotten who Kurt is, that Kurt's forgotten him, that life moves too quickly and because it's NOT that romcom or romance novel, he might be too late. In his darkest nights, laying awake in an unfamiliar brownstone in Park Slope with it's unfamiliar sounds he worries maybe Kurt was just a figment of his imagination - his greatest character ever developed, the perfect guy just for him written by his overzealous imagination. (The same one, that as a kid, had given him such vivid dreamworlds of exciting adventures he used to cry when waking.) That first week he settles in (tries to) and gets over his fear (tries to) and in week two he goes out with Kurt in pursuit; an address and a phone number at his disposal. They weren't completely not in touch - there's always a random text there, and an instragramed photo here, but they don't do much talking. Blaine alternately fears it's because Kurt's moving forward and hopes it's because it just hurts too much to talk to him.
In the end, he shows up the address with a rose and a hopeful smile. In the end, the door opens and Kurt's there, eyes wide, shocked, then elated.
In the end, their story continues, even if it will eventually end (it won't). In the end, Blaine Anderson gets that stupid happy ending.
"B.A. Dalton Shreds Anonymity; Emerges with Stunning New Work
If I was told that the same guy who'd written such tragedies (great tragedies, moving tragedies) as Mediocrity and Subject was the very same who penned Looking Glass, I would call your bluff. Where both freshman and sophomore novels were unrepentantly sad, written to drag you down and leave you with your own lonely thoughts (while marinating in the novel's), Looking Glass does the opposite, starting quiet and leaving with you with feelings of elation and the kind of giddiness that comes with reading something truly inspiring.
Telling the story of a lonely gay teenager in middle-American Ohio, Blaine Anderson's (fka as B.A. Dalton) junior novel takes you through the journey of self-discovery and finding love in an unlikely place, in a world that's not the most accepting one. And while yes, this book is remarkably lighter than Anderson's past work, it does hold the grace of his prior pieces. Like Mediocrity and Subject, Looking Glass does feature a protagonist that's led a terribly lonely life. There's something so remarkably sad about Mark, the boy of a million locker shoves and petty, undeserved insults. He stands tall even when he's so clearly screaming for help. He is all of us, gay or straight, who'd felt helpless during those most formative years.
And while ultimately Mark is given a light in another person (who's equally as lost and complex, despite his seemingly put-together exterior), nothing is given easily to them. It reads so much like the average, unremarkable love story that you leave wondering why it's so powerful, but know that it's really quite stunning in it's own way.
In the end, some might say Anderson's tone has changed, that his spirits are brighter, and that his work has become more mature. I say, however, that nothing's really changed. Anderson is still writing dynamic, tragically moving characters, and just like the writer himself, they have just found their footing. This is a read for anyone who's a fan of characters, of relationships, of life and moving forward and learning, and while some critics and bookstores might shove it simply into the LQBT-works section, it's beyond orientation and beliefs. It's about two people, and that's that." - Leslie Hunter, New York Times.
And on the very last page of Looking Glass:
About the Author:
Blaine Anderson (fka B.A. Dalton) likes to write these days at a little coffee shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, outside in the New York sunlight with his dog, Ramona, at his feet (weather permitting). If not at Java Jim's he's usually stuck in the little corner office of the home he shares with his husband, Kurt Hummel, whining (always teasingly so) about missing the sunny days of California. One day Kurt will actually believe him. (Probably not.) They are expecting their first child.
He wishes to thank said husband for getting him to stop hiding behind the Dalton moniker, and even more so for loving him so fiercely, and supporting him so strongly. Without him, he's sure this one would've been the hottest mess there ever was.