My, it's been a while, hasn't it? Well, here I am with another new story to add to the cork board. I haven't lost hope for Live and Die, though I'm sure all of you have... I promise it will be finished eventually, but I just don't have the inspiration to do it now. I hope you all understand, and I hope that this multi-chaptered multitude of fluff will tide you over in the mean time.
As per usual I currently have three chapters of this done, so if I post updates once a week it should theoretically be enough to stay on top of things. And as if that weren't enough, I have an amazing beta who's my right hand man on this story and also manages to inspire me to actually keep on writing. So here's a blatant shout out to Lonnie, a.k.a. queertastique on Tumblr.
Another shout out goes to my best friend Makenna (flirtykurty on Tumblr/ffnet) who originally came up with the idea when she saw the trailer for Ruby Sparks while I was busy getting popcorn in the lobby. In another dimension this would have been the collaboration we wrote together while lounging in a scented bath, but at the time it seemed too dark to pursue. Hopefully I've lightened it up enough for her (and everyone's) enjoyment.
Sorry long A/N is long but lastly thank you EVERYONE who continues to review on all my stories, I wish I could respond to every one of you but time is a fickle thing so I love you all and without further ado,
Read, review, and enjoy! :)
"Once upon a time..."
"The year was 2019 and..."
"Long ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
Blaine slammed his laptop shut with a dissatisfying click and huffed a frustrated sigh, frowning at the teal and red betta fish lazily floating in its bowl as if this was all the fish's fault. Blaine opened his laptop again.
"Once, there was a fish named Roxy. He did nothing but swim around all day. The end."
"You and I are one and the same, buddy," Blaine muttered to his fish. Roxy blinked back unconcernedly.
"You could at least try to make yourself better company," Blaine said resentfully, "Considering I'm the one keeping you alive and all."
Roxy shook his fins a little, flashing them as if they were all he could offer.
Blaine shook his head and leaned back in his chair, scrubbing his face with his hands. You know you need to get out of the house when you start having conversations with your brainless fish, he thought.
Blaine closed the Word Document window ("No, I don't want to save," he growled), and slumped out of the office, leaving Roxy and a distinct lack of inspiration behind.
He padded down the short hallway and into the living room of his tiny beach apartment, walked to the sliding doors that lead out to a fun-sized balcony, and slid the drapes open. It was a gorgeous late afternoon in Pismo Beach — the California sun had burned through the foggy morning marine layer and bathed the tiny town in bright light. In the distance, the ocean glittered invitingly.
Blaine wasn't in the mood for the beach today — living so close to it for two years tended to have that effect — but since staying cooped up inside his tiny nest didn't seem to be doing anything for his creative juices, he figured a little fresh air might do him some good.
He grabbed his keys from a small bowl on the kitchen counter, picked a cardigan from the coat closet, and left his apartment, locking the door behind him.
But no sooner had he made his way through the enclosed courtyard and out the gate onto the street than his phone started to sing Leslie Gore.
It had only managed to squeeze in "Sunshine, lollipops and — " when Blaine interrupted his ringtone with the press of a button. "Hello?"
"Hi Blainey," Cooper sing-songed, in the exact way he always did when he wanted something from Blaine.
"What do you want, Coop?" Blaine responded appropriately.
"Can't I call my baby brother every once in a while just to say hello?" Cooper asked, a little too defensively.
Blaine didn't grace this with an answer, hoping his brother could hear the way his eyebrows raised on the other line. He waved at the elderly shopkeeper of Quiltin' Cousins as he walked by.
"Okay so Nick didn't tell me he had to go home early today because of his and Jeff's anniversary — "
"Coop, come on!" Blaine whined pressing the button for the crosswalk, "It's my day off!"
"But Blainey, PizMo Café needs you!" Cooper said dramatically. "I need you."
"And I need days off so I can disappear into my cave and reemerge with a brilliant, best-selling novel," Blaine countered as he crossed the street.
"Bullshit," Cooper declared, "You're not hibernating, you're crossing the street right now, right in broad daylight!"
Panicking, Blaine snapped his head up and realized he was now on the corner of Pomeroy and Cabrillo, right in front of the Italian restaurant itself.
"You must be mistaken," Blaine said hurriedly, ducking around the corner and out of his brother's sight. "I'm at home. In the dark. Except for my laptop screen, which is open. Because I'm writing. At home."
"I didn't realize you lived at PizMo," came Cooper's voice from the open window beside Blaine's head as he leaned out to address his brother in person.
Blaine gave out a small shout of surprise, clutching his chest as he reluctantly pocketed his phone.
"Ah-ha!" Cooper declared, pointing dramatically at Blaine. "Caught red-handed!"
"Just because I'm out and about doesn't mean I'm willing to be your slave for the rest of the night," Blaine huffed.
"Come on Blainey, you're already here! You're out of the house anyway, why not pick up a couple of hours? I know you could use the extra money."
Blaine's heart sank guiltily, but he didn't relent.
"It's my day off," he said firmly, standing up a little taller.
Cooper shook his head as if supremely disappointed in his brother. "I'm just trying to help you out, little bro. I thought you'd appreciate me giving you this shift when I could have given it to anyone else."
Blaine didn't fall for Cooper's pseudo-theatrics, not anymore. "And I'm sure anyone else will appreciate it more than me," he said finally, and picked up his walk down the street once more.
"You'll regret this!" Cooper hollered after him, and Blaine only waved genially over his shoulder.
He couldn't help but feel bad for not picking up the few hours' extra money, especially when his brother slipped him more than his fair share of tips whenever he was manager for the night. Blaine knew he probably would regret not having the extra money when he had to pay his share of the rent at the end of the month, which was still a teensy bit steep even though his parents already paid for most of it.
That was what he felt the worst about — the fact that his parents paid for his write-and-work-on-the-beach lifestyle. They insisted that it was the least they could do for their son, and that they wanted to aid his creative career in whatever way they could, but Blaine couldn't help but long for independence from his wacky, albeit doting, family.
One day, he thought, one day I'll write the book of the century, and I'll be able to pay my own rent.
That was, if he could even manage to come up with an idea for the book of the century.
Blaine sighed, absentmindedly fingering the fabric of a dress on display as he passed. He didn't realize that following his passion would be so difficult.
You'd think that getting perfect grades on all his school papers would guarantee Blaine an easy ride to becoming a successful novelist, but it turned out inspiration was harder to catch than the clam who'd eaten Mr. Krabs' millionth dollar.
Blaine frowned, wondering if maybe he watched too many morning cartoons, and looked around, wondering where exactly he was aimlessly wandering to.
Without really realizing it he had been meandering in the direction of his favorite stationary shop, Pen on Paper. Figuring this was as good a place as any to hang around when he was lacking in inspiration, he crossed to the other side of the street and walked into the shop.
The tinkling of bells signaling his arrival never failed to bring a smile to his face; he'd been to all of the shops along the main street of Pismo Beach at least ten times each but this place was special to him, and the only shop he visited on a near-daily basis. The nearest thing Blaine could compare it to was being a kid in a candy store.
The store was blissfully empty, save for the clerk at the cash register in the back.
"Hey Burt," Blaine called, weaving through stacks of books and shelves of various notebooks, cards, and writing utensils on his way to the counter.
"Hey kiddo," Burt smiled, his eyes crinkling warmly. "How's the novel coming along?"
Blaine gave him a withered look. "Same as it was yesterday."
Burt smiled grimly, patting a sympathetic hand on Blaine's shoulder. "It'll happen soon."
"I hope so," Blaine laughed humorlessly. "I can't pay for my rent by serving pizza my whole life. I swear it takes hours to scrub the layer of pepperoni fumes off my skin every night."
Burt shrugged in understanding. "You know I'd let you work here if I could afford it," he offered, for what had to be the twentieth time.
No matter how many times he said it though, Blaine appreciated the gesture. "Thanks, Mr. Hummel."
Burt stared him down and Blaine realized his mistake. "Sorry!" he laughed, "I keep forgetting, Burt. Burt, Burt, Burt."
The shopkeeper laughed out loud and made a vague gesture with his hand. "Go look around, kid, I know you're dying to. We've got some new calligraphy pens up front."
Blaine bid him a temporary goodbye and began to wander around, picking up sketchbooks and flipping through, reveling in the smell of fresh, blank paper; he tested out the new calligraphy pens, thumbed through the small bin of old paperback books in the corner, and was about to return to the counter with a small notebook Burt would convince him to buy when something nestled on a desk between two bookshelves caught his attention.
He set the notebook aside and beelined toward the rickety old typewriter that he had never seen in his two years of visiting the shop, reaching his hand out to hover but not daring to touch it.
"Hey Burt," he said into the quiet of the shop, "Is this... new?" The word definitely didn't seem to fit as a description of the almost ancient relic.
Burt came to join Blaine at his side, gazing at the machine for a long while before taking a deep breath.
"No," he finally said, "But it's for sale."
Blaine wrenched his eyes from the typewriter to study Burt. He was looking down at it with a kind of reverence, as if he wished it weren't on the sales floor at all.
"Are you sure?" Blaine said hesitantly.
His voice seemed to bring Burt back to the present, and he smiled hollowly at Blaine. "Yeah. I uh — I've just had it for a while. Never used it. Time to let it go. It was my wife's," he trailed off.
Blaine's chest clenched painfully, remembering the night he and Burt had first gotten to talking. Small talk had easily evolved into a more personal discussion, and in response to being regaled by Blaine's description of his eccentric family, Burt had unveiled his bittersweet past.
He had met a beautiful woman named Elizabeth when she came into his car shop to get her Volkswagon fixed. He picked her up for their first date at the stationary shop she owned — the very one Blaine and Burt stood in now — and the rest was history.
They married after a year together and had a baby boy on the way when Elizabeth was killed in a car accident.
Blaine had left the shop that night two hours after closing time with a heavy heart and his first friend in a new town.
"It's been twenty-five years," Burt said thickly, and his voice brought Blaine back to the present. "And I can still see her with her nose buried in it, typing into the night and keeping me up. It's like the little guy we never had," he chuckled sadly.
Blaine grasped Burt's arm comfortingly.
"You don't have to sell it," he reasoned.
"I want to," Burt said softly.
"But if it still means so much to you it would be a shame for it to go into the wrong hands, or get broken. It's a beautiful typewriter, Burt. It deserves to be someplace where it'll matter."
His eyes fell upon the machine, which really was beautiful in its own way with its strange magnetic pull of attention, and felt Burt's gaze on him.
"I want you to have it," he said, startling Blaine.
"What? No, I — " Blaine stuttered helplessly, "M-Mr. Hummel, I couldn't — I can't. You need to keep it."
"I don't need it anymore, bud'," Burt said, shaking his head, "But I think you do."
"This?" Blaine laughed incredulously. "I don't need this, what would I do with it?" As he said it, though, he felt an almost gravitational pull, as though the instrument was trying to prove him wrong. He really wanted the typewriter.
"Maybe you do," Burt ventured. "Maybe it's what you need to kick-start that bestselling novel you keep talking about."
Yes, Blaine thought, it's exactly what I need. He scrutinized the typewriter longingly, still hesitant.
"It's what Elizabeth would have wanted," Burt reassured him, placing a hand on his back and then adding, almost inaudibly, "It's what Kurt would have wanted."
"Kurt?" Blaine wondered, sending a quizzical look Burt's way.
Burt's smile was small and sad as he said, "We were going to name him Kurt."
Blaine felt his heart fissure. "I can't," he whispered.
But Burt's smile spread into a large, genuine one, and he heaved the typewriter off the desk, carrying it to the cash register. "You can," he insisted.
"I won't," Blaine protested, jogging behind to keep up.
"You will," Burt said, taking out a sturdy flattened box from under the counter and folding it into shape.
"But it's got to be worth hundreds," Blaine tried, "I can't possibly afford it."
Burt carefully wrapped the typewriter in bubble wrap and lowered it into the box. "I'll give it to you for a hundred; I know you can afford that."
Blaine felt as though he were about to faint. He mouthed wordlessly at Burt, who threw in a few packs of typewriter paper and ink.
"Think of it as an investment in your bestseller-to-be," Burt said jovially, snatching Blaine's wallet from his hand, expertly picking out the credit card Blaine used every time he paid at the register.
Blaine squeaked in protest as Burt handed him back the wallet and thrust the box into his arms. "This thing is going to solve all your problems, kid."
"H-how could you possibly say that?" Blaine finally stuttered.
"I just know," Burt replied cryptically with a wink. "Now scram, I gotta close up soon."
Blaine didn't seem capable of moving, so Burt steered him to the front of the shop and pushed him out of the door in the direction of his apartment.
"Have fun!" Burt called, his voice echoing in the sunset-stained air.
Still not quite sure what had just happened, Blaine lugged the "solution to all his problems" up the sloping street to his apartment, collapsing onto the couch when he finally managed to unlock his door one-handed.
Once his chest had stopped heaving, he got to his feet and procured a take out box of last night's Thai food from the fridge. As his makeshift dinner heated up on a plate in the microwave, he strolled to the table where he'd dumped the typewriter.
Maybe a change of medium was what he needed. The light of the laptop screen was a bit grating at times, and the internet was an ever-present distraction on a computer. Maybe there was some truth in what Burt had said...
He started as the microwave beeped loudly, proudly announcing that its job was done. Blaine grabbed the plate and a clean fork, placed them off to the side on his office desk, then went back out to the living room to retrieve the typewriter, too.
He cast aside his laptop onto the loveseat in the office, the typewriter replacing it with an unceremonious thump and startling Roxy out of stillness in his bowl. Blaine studied the machine for a while, chewing on his food contemplatively, before putting his plate aside and deciding to at least set it up with the paper and ink Burt had provided.
What Blaine had failed to remember however, was that he didn't have the slightest idea how a typewriter worked.
After half an hour of fumbling back and forth between bites of food, the eHow instructions on his laptop, and the various buttons and covers and knobs and margins, the typewriter was ready to go.
Pulse thrumming excitedly, Blaine pulled his chair in closer, took another bite of beef satay, and poised his fingers on the keys.
Immediately his mind flew to his version of Elizabeth Hummel (long brown hair, maybe, slender, long fingers, rosy skin), hunched over this very machine and typing her thoughts, or a story, or memoirs, or lists of preparations for baby Kurt; Burt trying to read over her shoulder, and Elizabeth swatting him away playfully.
When Blaine's fingers finally began to move it was as if the keys themselves were pulling his fingers down, rhythmically, clumsily, but certain and steadily flowing.
At four in the morning, as if surfacing from underwater, Blaine let out a gust of breath and ripped his fingers away from the keys, gazing at the mess of cast-aside, ink-stained paper all around him. These were nothing but mere brainstorms; from what he could see there were descriptions and brainwaves, little snippets here and there like "tall, 5'10"," "passions: music, singing? yes. fashion, cooking," "heavenly voice, angelic looks," "fluent in French," "sarcastic and snappy at worst, fiercely loyal and courageous at best."
In the typewriter, however, was the final result of six hours' work; nothing more than a few sentences, but they were the words that would change everything.
"Kurt Hummel is an extraordinary man.
"Born under unusual and death-defying circumstances, he was brought up by his kind-hearted father and without the mother who'd birthed him with her last breaths.
"I've known him all my life, yet know nothing about him. For all I know we're just two people who share the same house, roommates and nothing more.
"But Kurt Hummel is too extraordinary not to be known inside and out. In a few hours I will wake up with the sole goal of getting to know him, and in a few days I will fall in love with him but I won't tell him until a few weeks after that. After a month I'll know everything about him, everything down to his set jaw, his toothy smile, his long fingers and thick, impeccably coiffed hair, his porcelain skin and fathomless, just-this-shade-of-blue-green-grey eyes. It'll take me an endless amount of time to memorize everything there is to know about Kurt yet somehow he'll know everything about me with just a glance, because I wear my heart on my sleeve and because he's known me for what seems like forever and that's just how he is.
"But for now I'll keep you in suspense with pretentious first-person, present-tense narrative.
"This is the story of how I met, loved, and learned the extraordinary Kurt Hummel."
Satisfied for the first time in two long years, Blaine pushed away from the desk, fell onto the loveseat, and was asleep before his head hit the couch cushions.