A/N: I got dozens of questions about it after the previous chapter, so I will answer here as well: I have never written Kurtbastian, Seblaine or Seklaine. I'm not planning to change it anytime soon. This is a Klaine story. Please trust me :)
On a different note: I will have a sweet little bonus for you in the next day or two. I won't be able to upload it here, so come see it on tumblr if you want to – either on my blog (anxioussquirrel) or searching through the tag "etched into my skin".
I'm not sure if I need to warn for this, but there's Finn in this chapter.
The house was silent when Kurt let himself in just before nine in the morning. He left his shoes by the door, eager to get to his room and enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted solitude before Finn woke up or their parents arrived, whichever came first.
Even after an hour in the car, he still felt like he was floating. Last night hadn't gone like he'd thought it would, but the crucial elements were there, making it perfect even in its imperfections: the love and trust that had turned what initially felt like a failure into one of the most intimate, honest moments of their relationship. Sleeping in Blaine's arms all night and waking up pressed against his warm, naked skin. Making love in the morning, the easy coming together of their bodies that felt more natural and more intense than Kurt could have ever imagined.
Thank god his parents weren't home yet. He was pretty sure the way he was vibrating with happiness first thing Sunday morning would be hard to explain to them.
Finn's voice from behind almost made Kurt trip on the bottom step. He steadied himself and turned back, incredulous.
Finn was sitting at the kitchen table, hunched over a steaming cup. He looked like crap – and not the kind of crap that might result from getting up impossibly early by his weekend standards. His hair was sticking out at weird angles and his eyes were bloodshot with dark circles underneath. There was a large stain of what looked like tomato sauce on the front of his wrinkled shirt.
"Coffee?" Finn asked. "It's pretty awful. I'm not sure if I messed it up or if it's supposed to taste like this."
The fact that his stepbrother, the coffee virgin, chose this morning to break his lifelong aversion to the drink of gods was enough of a shock to shake Kurt into action. Leaving his bag on the stairs, he marched into the kitchen and poured himself a cup. He took a sip and cringed in disgust.
"Ew. No wonder it's awful. It's decaf, and you used maybe half of what you're supposed to. Let me make some decent coffee," he said, pouring the swill down the drain and reaching for the right can. "What happened that made you decide to try it at last?"
"I think I have a hangover." Finn pushed his cup away with visible relief. "Puck said I need to drink lots of coffee if I want to make myself presentable before our parents come home."
Once the coffeemaker was gurgling happily, Kurt reached for a pan and a carton of eggs. "You went out drinking with Puck last night?" he asked, keeping his tone light even as worry rose like a red flag. This wasn't like Finn at all.
"We didn't really go out," Finn mumbled, his forehead cradled in his hands. "Just sat in his room and drank tequila. I think I passed out at some point; I barely managed to crawl home in the morning. Puck looked just fine though and I'm pretty sure he drank twice as much as I did. Not fair."
"That will teach you not to drink with Puck." Kurt put a few strips of bacon on the sizzling pan. "Why did you, anyway?"
The smell of frying meat was quickly filling the kitchen and Finn moaned, dropping his head to the table.
"Dude, do you have to cook right now? I think I'm gonna be sick."
"It will make you feel better if you eat something." Kurt put two slices of bread in the toaster. The coffee was ready, so he took Finn's cup, dumped the rest of the decaf and refilled it. He put it in front of his brother. "And I suggest trying some cream and sugar with your coffee first."
"I don't think I can eat anything," Finn forced out through gritted teeth.
"Try at least," Kurt said, adding eggs to the pan. "It should settle your stomach. In the worst case scenario you'll throw up, which may make you feel better too."
"How do you even know anything about hangovers?" Finn eyed him suspiciously, the side of his face smooshed into his folded arms on the tabletop.
Kurt smirked. "Well there was that one time sophomore year. Remember when April Rhodes came to Glee the first time? She tried to show me the benefits of wine. Dad was a little shocked when he had to pick me up from school because I was drunk. But he was a bit amused too by the time we got home. Said it served me right for trying something that was not for kids, but then he made me greasy food and it actually helped. So, here you go. Eat up." He put the plate on front of Finn, adding a slice of toast. The second one he left for himself. He'd had no time to eat anything at Blaine's.
Finn reluctantly picked at the food. After a few forkfuls he must have decided it wouldn't kill him after all because he dug in in earnest. Kurt waited patiently, leaning against the counter and nibbling at his toast as Finn emptied the plate and drank the coffee. Finally, when it was all gone and Finn looked a little less green, Kurt asked again.
"So why did you need to drink yourself unconscious?"
"Remember when I said the recruiter from Ohio State was coming to look for a new quarterback? And that I may have a chance at a scholarship?"
Shit. He totally forgot. He'd been too focused on Finn's mean behavior towards Blaine these last few weeks. Still, he nodded, his face a careful mask of interest.
"So he came yesterday. The coach called us in for a special practice so he could observe."
"Did you get it?" Kurt asked, despite the sinking feeling that he already knew the answer.
Finn shook his head, his face blank. "No. He chose Shane. I went to talk to him to ask for prompters or some advice, you know? And he said high school football is it for me, that I've reached my ceiling. There's no way I will ever play professionally, or even on a college team, I'm just not good enough."
Kurt winced. "Finn, he's just one guy, it was just one practice, it doesn't mean anything yet–"
"It means that I don't get the scholarship. And Kurt, he knows this stuff. He knows what he's talking about. If he says I'm done, then I'm done."
Finn shoved his chair away from the table and got to his feet. "Kurt, I know that you want to help, but this isn't working, okay? I need to accept the fact that football isn't my future. And now I don't really know what my future is. That's why I got drunk. To forget I'm just a loser who has no idea what to do with his life." He took his cup and plate to the sink, putting them in with too much force.
"You're not a loser," Kurt said emphatically. Finn just shrugged.
They were silent for a moment, just standing there in the sun-filled kitchen, before Kurt asked cautiously, "So what do you want to do?"
Finn shrugged. "Right now? I mostly want to go sleep it off."
"I meant… after graduation."
Finn sighed. "I really don't know. It was always going to be football. That was the one thing I was sure about. Rachel used to tell me that I'm meant to be a performer. She thought I should have bigger dreams."
"What do you think?"
Finn sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Frankly, I don't see it. I'm not as talented as the three of you. I can't imagine myself on stage ten years from now. And I'm not a big city guy. I'm fine here in Ohio."
"So maybe a local college then? You can do that without the scholarship, too."
"Doing what?" Finn asked. "No man, I'm not even sure if college is for me. I don't like studying all that much, why would I want four more years of it if I can't even play football? I don't know, maybe I should join the military. Or take your dad up on his offer."
"What offer?" Kurt frowned, and Finn's eyes widened in alarm.
"Oh crap, I didn't mean to– Has he talked about it to you at all?"
"I don't know, you'd have to tell me what he was supposed to talk to me about," Kurt quipped, some remnants of an old insecurity flaring.
"Oh, right. I meant the garage. He said that if he gets into Congress, he will need help with the garage, and that I could maybe run it for him if I wanted to. He said I have a good head for it, that maybe in time he would name me a partner and–" He looked Kurt in the eye, his face a picture of sincerity. "But I would never accept it if you aren't okay with it. He's your father, I'm not trying to take your place or anything man, I swear."
Kurt laughed, relieved. "Oh, no, please, knock yourself out. I'm not going to be much help running the business from New York, am I? And I may look fabulous in overalls, but being a mechanic is not what I want to do in my future. I'm sure dad could use your help, and that you'd be great at it. Go for it, if that's what you want."
Finn shot him a shy, lopsided smile. "I don't know for sure, but I am good at it. And I like working with my hands, you know? It wouldn't be a bad life." He paused to yawn widely. "Okay, too much thinking for Sunday morning. I'll go get a nap, try to feel human again before they arrive. And thanks." He motioned to the plate in the sink. "It really helped."
Somehow Kurt had a feeling he didn't just mean breakfast.
With Finn back in his room, Kurt quickly cleaned up after breakfast and then climbed upstairs, too. He needed to change into fresh, comfortable clothes that didn't shout "I was just out spending the night at my boyfriend's". His dad may not know much about fashion, but after living with Kurt for so many years he could definitely tell a "Sunday at home" outfit from anything Kurt would wear outside.
He couldn't resist standing in front of the tall mirror in nothing but the navy boxer briefs, the flush high on his cheeks as he regarded his reflection. Nothing had really changed in the last 12 hours, and yet he felt like it had. He could feel it in his muscles, in the thrumming under his skin, the slight discomfort left after their attempt last night attempt. But more than that, he felt it in his heart. This morning, with their bodies joined so completely, he felt it more than ever before: they were one. Two parts of a whole, two halves of one soul that miraculously found each other, never to be alone again. Their connection was forever, no matter what life threw at them.
It felt like an anchor, a safe place to always come back to, no matter what. The marks on their skin were a seal. A promise.
Forever had never felt so certain before.
Blaine texted him two hours later and Kurt frowned at his phone, rereading the message.
need 2 see u asap, be there soon
This was quite unlike Blaine who always took pride in his grammatically correct texting. And did soon mean–
A doorbell rang.
Oh. That kind of soon then. Where had he been that he managed to get here in under five minutes?
Finn was in the kitchen, looking half-conscious and trying to resuscitate himself with the newly discovered miracle of coffee when Kurt ran downstairs to open the door. He squinted at Kurt over the cup.
"I was just going to get that, I swear."
"It's okay, Finn. It's for me anyway."
Blaine wasn't smiling when Kurt opened the door. He didn't even lean in to kiss Kurt like he always did, and okay, they had seen each other mere hours ago, but something was clearly wrong with that. Kurt could immediately feel how jittery Blaine was. Did it have something to do with last night? Had Blaine's parents learned they had sex? Did Blaine regret it for some reason? What was going on that left him so shaken?
"I need to talk to you."
That was all he got before Blaine ran up to his room without so much as acknowledging Finn's presence. When Kurt caught up with him in the bedroom, Blaine's shirt was already in a crumpled heap on the floor and he was pushing down his pants and underwear in one go. Kurt quickly shut the door, his eyes widening.
"Whoa, hey, Finn's downstairs and our parents will be here any minute, what are you doing?"
Blaine didn't pause in sliding off his socks until he stood naked in front of Kurt. "I need you to look me over."
"I've looked you over pretty thoroughly this morning, you know," Kurt teased, but it was half-hearted at best.
Blaine didn't even smile. "No, I mean, really look me over. My skin, everywhere. See if there isn't anything different."
"Different how? Blaine, what's wrong?" Kurt frowned but started to carefully scan Blaine's body, the well-known expanses of olive skin perfect as ever. "What am I looking for?"
Blaine was fidgeting, turning this way and that in front of Kurt's big mirror. He was breathing fast and Kurt didn't need his increased empathy to feel how anxious he was.
"A mark," Blaine said finally. Then, when Kurt arched his eyebrows and looked pointedly at his hipbone, he added, "Not your mark, just… I need to make sure there isn't another somewhere on me."
Kurt frowned. "Another? What are you talking about?"
"Kurt, please, just–" Blaine whimpered, trying to see every bit of his skin all at once. His hands were shaking, his movements jerky and increasingly fervent. Growing panic echoed through Kurt's mind.
This was clearly not the time to ask questions. Blaine needed him calm. He could ask later.
"Okay, stand still. Let me see."
Forcing his breathing into a slow, controlled rhythm, he pushed the feeling of calm gently towards Blaine's mind as he busied himself examining the skin he'd spent so long covering with kisses just last night. With gentle, soothing hands, he stroked the planes of Blaine's back and stomach, the curves of his ass and the strong, compact muscles of his legs and arms. He looked into every fold of skin, every crevice. Urged by Blaine, he checked the soles of his feet, the insides of his thighs. He blushed hard when Blaine lay on the bed and simply spread his legs, his cock flaccid over his soft balls and his hole still pink and tender-looking after this morning. The mood couldn't be more different from when they parted, even though it was only four hours ago.
There were no marks there, either.
After one last look over Blaine's scalp, Kurt pulled him to the bed and opened his arms. Blaine immediately fell into his embrace.
"There's nothing, honey," Kurt said, and Blaine sobbed, slumping with relief, naked against his fully-clothed chest. He was still shaking. "There's just my mark, nothing else. As it should be, because you're mine, and I'm yours. You know that. What's going on?"
Blaine just breathed for a moment before peeling away and reaching for his briefs.
"Just let me–" It took a moment before he was fully dressed, but then he settled on the bed by Kurt's side and took his hand. "There's something I need to tell you."
Kurt nodded encouragingly. "You know you can tell me everything."
Blaine took a deep, slow breath and whispered, "Sebastian has my name."
The world froze, and then moved again at rapid speed as Kurt shook his head fervently.
"No. No no no. He must be lying."
"I saw it."
"You met him? Today? Right after–" The words stuck in Kurt's throat in an outraged swell.
Blaine had the decency to look embarrassed. "I didn't want to, I told him to leave me alone when he called. But he said he had something important that he really needed to tell me, so I agreed to give him five minutes. That was the something. The new mark on his hand."
Kurt shook his head again. He felt like stomping his feet too, but resisted the childish impulse to throw a tantrum. "No, that's impossible. He must have faked it. Tattooed it maybe. It wouldn't be above him."
"Kurt, it wasn't a tattoo. It looked just like yours, no redness, no swelling, nothing. Just the mark. And he didn't have it two days ago, at the bar. Besides–" Blaine broke to chew on his lip.
Kurt frowned. "Besides?" he prompted.
"I don't think he's lying about how he got it," Blaine said quietly.
"What do you mean? How can you know, Blaine? It can't be real."
The idea that anyone else could have this connection to Blaine – his Blaine – was unbearable. And Sebastian, of all people!
Blaine shrugged. He looked utterly miserable. "He reacted to me when he touched my hand," he said. Kurt bristled. "You remember how it was at the beginning, what a shock it was the first time. I saw that shock in his eyes."
"That doesn't mean anything," Kurt said defiantly. "Everyone knows the symptoms now, they're discussed all over the internet. He probably just read up on them and acted to make you believe his fake mark."
"It's not a fake!" Blaine exclaimed and Kurt dropped his hand, startled. Blaine squeezed his eyes shut and took a calming breath, massaging his temples. "I'm sorry, I'm just trying to explain. Do you think that I want that? That it's easy for me? I'm so freaked out I can barely breathe, Kurt, but denial won't make it disappear."
He was right. Kurt touched his hand, relieved when Blaine immediately intertwined their fingers again.
"No, I'm sorry. I'm just in shock, I think. Please tell me why you're so sure that it's real. I promise not to interrupt this time."
Blaine hesitated. "Okay, in order to do that I need to tell you something about my mark appearing, and I'm a little afraid you're going to run away when I do."
"Honey, it's a little too late to run away now. Spill."
"Okay. So… um." Blaine paused and thought for a moment. "Do you remember what you were doing before your mark appeared?"
Kurt frowned. "Sleeping."
Blaine blushed for some reason. "But were you thinking about me at all?"
Oh. "Um. A little? Or maybe… a little more than usual. It was after Baby It's Cold Outside. You were dreamy. I couldn't help it."
A slow grin spread on Blaine's face, the comforting normalcy of sitting in Kurt's room and talking clearly soothing his nerves.
"Oh was I? And were you just thinking or–" He arched an eyebrow, teasing.
"Or what?" Kurt asked, but even as he was saying it, he understood. His eyes widened. "Oh my god, no! Of course I was only thinking, Blaine. Who do you think I am, some creeper?"
He saw by the way Blaine's face fell in mortification that it was a wrong thing to say. His eyes grew even wider when he connected the dots.
"Blaine Anderson, are you saying you were doing more than just thinking about me before your mark appeared?" He aimed for stern, but was unable to suppress the amusement in his voice. Blaine's revelation might have freaked him out a little if he'd heard it when they had only just began dating. Now, not so much.
Blaine looked up at him with his best puppy expression. "I swear it was the first time."
"The first of many, as we both know." Kurt smirked.
Blaine groaned. "Like you said, it was after the duet. And you were hot."
"Believe me. So you don't think I'm a creeper?"
Kurt pretended to deliberate. "Well, maybe a little. But you're my creeper, so I think I'm going to keep you." Blaine laughed softly, relieved, and Kurt continued, "But what does it have to do with Sebastian's mark?" He scrunched his nose just saying that name.
Blaine grew serious again. "Well, that's how his mark appeared, too."
"After jerking off?" Ugh. He never planned to think about the meerkat doing that.
"Yes. And thinking, apparently. About me." To his credit, Blaine looked faintly nauseated too.
"Wait a minute. And he just told you that? Hey, I was just getting off thinking about you when this thing popped up on my hand?"
"Yeah, pretty much," Blaine said.
"Classy. Still, how is it any proof of the mark being real?"
Blaine frowned. "Can't you see? It's exactly the same!"
"So it's not something you can easily find on the internet. You have no idea how long I had to search through the forums to find other people with similar connections. If he was going to fake it, I doubt he would use that circumstance."
Kurt made a face, still unconvinced. "Maybe he learned somewhere what it was like to you–"
"That's the thing, he couldn't," Blaine stressed. "I never told anyone. Not even you. I didn't write about it anywhere on the net, either, not when it made me feel like a pervert for months."
"Yeah. I was convinced the marks were just some sexual thing and the minute you learned about it, you'd run away screaming," Blaine admitted.
"And yet, here I am." Kurt stroked the top of Blaine's hand with his thumb.
"Yes." Blaine looked at him, suddenly unsure. "Though now, in the light of all that, I wonder if maybe it is sexual after all. I mean, there's no way Sebastian is my soulmate, too."
Kurt shook his head. "No. You don't have his mark. Maybe, if it even is real–"
"It's real, I'm sure of it," Blaine said.
"Fine, if you say so. So maybe you are his soulmate, but not the other way around. But I despise you saying that what's between us is just sexual."
"No, I mean–"
"You know it's not." Kurt was on a roll now, his outrage giving way to defiance. "You've heard all the stories of the matched couples. Some of them have nothing to do with sex. The marks can't be just about that. No, you're my soulmate. And Sebastian… Sebastian is just some weird fluke."
"What if I get his mark too?" Blaine asked in a small voice. Kurt hated seeing the fear in his eyes.
"You won't," he said with all the certainty he could muster.
"But you can't know that! What if I do?" Blaine's breathing was picking up again, his anxiety rising. Kurt squeezed his hand.
"Then we will worry about it then. But I can't see it happening. You don't want him, right?"
"I don't, I swear."
"I know." And he did. He could read Blaine like an open book now – so close, so honest. He got to his feet and pulled Blaine to his desk. "Come on, let's do some research. Maybe someone had something like this happen, too."
An hour later Kurt closed his laptop with a defeated sigh. It was useless. They found mentions of people having more than one name on their skin – which made Blaine's hands tremble again – but the only case they saw concerning similar marks on two people turned out to involve two different women with the same, common name. Kurt very much doubted there was another Blaine Anderson with exactly the same handwriting somewhere out there.
"So what do we do now?" Blaine asked in a small voice. Kurt got up from the chair and led him to the bed again. They curled up on top of the sheets, despite Kurt's parents being home now, audible through the half-open door.
"We do nothing," Kurt said. "We live like we have so far. It doesn't change anything for you, Blaine, or for us. You're not responsible for it in any way."
"But what if –"
Kurt interrupted. "You won't get his mark. You won't. You're my soulmate and I refuse to share. I'm very selfish that way."
He spoke with more conviction than he felt, but he achieved his goal – Blaine smiled at him feebly.
"You're mine," Kurt repeated, for himself as much as for Blaine. "Nothing can change that."