Chapter Two

2020 ~ Kurt

Kurt falls in love by accident. He has three cocktails on an empty stomach and both Bec and Tracy have been dancing with him ridiculously for half an hour. Out of nowhere the rug is pulled out from under him. The rug-puller's name is Nicolas and he has an arm looped seductively around Kurt's waist and is whispering in Kurt's ear before Kurt even sees his face.

"I've been watching you for hours and oh my god that sounded creepy!" Then there is a blushing man in front of him, grinning and blinking at him with big brown doe eyes under chocolate-colored curls. "Let me try again?"

They are jostled by other people dancing and Bec's hip knocks Kurt forward into the other man's arms for an instant before he's righted.

"I'm Nicolas." He grins that same sweet grin and offers his hand.

Kurt kisses him and takes him home well before he can sober up enough to realize who Nicolas reminds him of.

It isn't the sex. It's the morning after. Nicolas stays over which isn't unheard of. And then Nicolas takes him out for breakfast which, again, isn't unheard of. A few months of casual interaction might be nice and that gets Kurt thinking about just how many boyfriends he has had in the last year and how many one night stands there have been, and with a start he realizes that there really haven't been that many at all. Not when he compares it to five years ago. Maybe he is getting too old for this.

There's a niggling thought, one he hasn't had since he was a teenager, that says maybe he wants to start thinking about settling down.

So, he watches Nicolas across the table and they end up ordering a second and then a third coffee as they talk about anything and everything. Kurt realizes with a start that he's already imagining sharing an apartment with this stranger. A dog. Kids. And he wonders when the fuck that happened.

It isn't until much later that he recognises the imagined apartment, the imagined pet, the Sunday mornings and late nights and all the domesticity. It isn't until much, much later that Kurt realizes he's dredging up almost decade-old immature, indulgent fantasies. He hates himself for it.

He still starts seeing Nicolas—musician/actor/waiter Nic—on a semi-regular basis.

"I think we should probably quit while we're ahead." It's not really a break up line and they're not out at dinner or cuddling on the couch. They're lying in bed, naked, and still panting, staring at the ceiling.

Kurt doesn't expect it at all and that is what Nic thought. Kurt has never had need for the phrase, "You're breaking up with me," but he says it now and feels his eyes already stinging.

Nic laughs and touches his cheek. "There's nothing to break up. We were casual. I said that and you said that and then you ignored it."

Musician/actor/waiter Nic, this random stranger who Kurt had shared his bed with for only a few months and who he seemed, inexplicably, to be in love with, was gone ten minutes late. Kurt never saw him again.

2021 Blaine

Blaine is finally happy. Years of law school that should have left him feeling harrowed and miserable have worked out. His father isn't pleased, but he seems resigned: Blaine is going into criminal law. He is going to be a public prosecutor. He has decided and no half-hearted argument by his father is going to change his mind

And he has the grades, the connections, the charm to get his foot in the door. On top of that, he has the tenacity and the intelligence to keep him there. He worked his ass off over the summer between his second and third years, interning in New York at the DA's office with only Patrick's late night phone calls to get him through. He had loved it, though. He had slipped right into the role and had been good at it.

He graduates Stanford, scoring better than he expects and then he works even harder, prepping for the Bar exam. Ben brings him coffee, and forces him to stop for lunch, and very occasionally drags him into the shower to wash his hair and distract him for an hour or two. Blaine walks out of the Bar exam breathing easily and grinning. The job waiting for him in New York is guaranteed.

He doesn't want to have to talk to Ben about it, he doesn't want to have to consider what kind of negotiations will take place now that he needs to move to the East Coast and Ben doesn't.

Except Ben laughs at him and says he will go anywhere with him. As simply as that Blaine is moving to New York with Ben and starting as a research attorney with the D.A.'s office at the end of the month.

Blaine loves Ben like he doesn't think he has ever loved anyone. Almost a year together at university and Ben is thinking about another degree or spending some time writing—he says he has a novel in him though he will never tell Blaine what it's about—but for now, he'll follow Blaine to New York.

They're in the city, looking at apartments and arguing about money when Blaine stops suddenly in the street. He's frozen and his hand in Ben's drags him back laughing and looking around to see what has caught his attention.

On the opposite corner of the intersection stands, unmistakably, Kurt Hummel. It's been five years, Blaine thinks. Three years after he graduated, Blaine met up with some Warblers at the Lima Mall over Christmas and Kurt must have been in town visiting his dad. So as fate would have it… five years.

And now here he is, natural habitat and all. Billowing coat, immaculately tailored and pressed, oversized folio, shoulder bag, and sunglasses perched high on his head. He's on the phone and he's just gotten out of a cab and he's smiling.

"What?" Ben asks, staring in the right direction but not so easily picking Kurt out of the bustling crowd of New Yorkers.

Blaine goes to answer but his voice cracks. He swallows and tries again. "That's my ex." His teeth clack because he's not sure he's ever called Kurt that. "I mean, from way, way back. High school."

Ben laughs and looks from one to the other. "You dated in high school?" Because Ben met Blaine through a mutual friend in college and remembers with sharp acuity the lack of dating history available through gossip. There was one very vague rumour about Blaine having an affair with a tutor and a few short-lived failed relationships during his undergrad years, but that was it. Ben never would have pegged Blaine as someone to date in high school, especially since he was gay and in Ohio.

Looking harder across the intersection, Ben works out who Blaine is talking about and can't stop himself from looking his boyfriend's ex up and down.

Blaine thinks he must be intimidated a little: who wouldn't be?

Except then Ben is dragging Blaine across the street, weaving in and out of traffic and jay-walking the intersection in a way that earns them honking horns and one car's tires screeching to a halt.

Kurt sees them before they get there. The honk of a taxi close by makes him look up lazily from where he's riffling through his bag, but his eyes widen when he sees Blaine being tugged by the hand towards him. They're blue in the sunshine and exactly like they were when they were young. But everything else is different.

Blaine notices in an instant that Kurt's skin is darker by just a shade. His hair has highlights and is shorter, spiked and ruffled. The clothes are stunning, just like Blaine remembers, tight and flattering, fashionable but with a practicality about them that's new and Blaine wonders if Kurt's doing what he set out to do.

Kurt keeps staring back at him and for a split second, Blaine thinks he looks terrified and lost and younger than ever. And then he's grinning, flashing his teeth and placing his folio and bag at his feet.

There are a couple of missed beats. Both of them just looking, both of them very, very aware that Ben is standing there, looking back and forth between them and slowly sliding from thinking he is about to hear hilarious anecdotes about teenaged Blaine to realizing there is so much more here.

"Blaine Anderson," Kurt eventually says, sounding pleasantly surprised. "Finally made it back to New York City."

Blaine laughs, awkwardly, blushing even though he doesn't know why. Ben is watching. "Kurt Hummel," he returns, "Exactly where I left you."

He regrets it the second it's out. But all three of them laugh anyway.

They get coffee at a little café just around the corner. Kurt seems to know the man behind the register and speaks quickly to him, securing them a table out in the sun. They order their coffees and Blaine declines when Ben offers to split a slice of chocolate cake with him.

Blaine can't stop staring at Kurt, waiting for it to punch him in the gut and leaving him sobbing. He half expects it to, in some cliché way. He remembers having his heart broken when he was barely eighteen years old and he remembers how many months it took for him to stop crying at night. He expects it to come back but instead he just feels awkward, sitting there between his ex-high school sweetheart and the man he's about to move to New York with.

Picking up on at least some of what is transpiring, Ben laughs and introduces himself, talks for both of them and answers Kurt's polite questions about what they're doing in New York.

Eventually, inevitably, Kurt is sipping his latte and turning his eyes to Blaine. "I thought you were going to work at your dad's firm?"

Blaine smiles and thinks Kurt would be so proud to hear the full story, to see how far Blaine has come. "It wasn't for me. All the suits and the multi-billion dollar cases and the nameless corporations as clients." Blaine shrugs. "I'm too much of a people person. Working for the state makes more sense. It's what I want."

Kurt's smile grows almost wistful and his fingers flex against the table. "You sound so sure."

"I interned with them last summer so I kind of am."

Speaking suddenly and a little too loudly, Ben hears the surprise in Kurt's voice: "You were here last summer?"

"And the summer before to intern at Whitney & Tomlins," Ben provides and he watches Kurt's face and sees the disappointment there.

"You should have told me," Kurt says, not looking away from Blaine for even a moment.

And now this is even more awkward than stories of teenage love and stupidity. Blaine takes a long mouthful of coffee and shrugs. Then lies, "I wasn't even sure you were still in New York."

There isn't very much to say to that and Ben is there, changing the subject and directing the conversation until they've drunk their coffees and Kurt starts to look at his watch.

They say goodbye and Ben watches as they don't exchange numbers.