disclaimer: without prejudice. the names of all characters contained here-in are the property of FOX and Ryan Murphy. no infringments of these copyrights are intended, and are used here without permission.
author's notes: written for Seblaine Sunday, prompt: in the library. dedicated to watchingstarsdie :)
Section D, Second Row;;
Sebastian sighs, dragging the scanner over the library card and subsequent barcodes on the books slid over to him on the counter. His eyes trace down the screen, but the books were all brought back in time, so he hands the card back to yet another faceless visitor, conjuring some modicum of a smile, before he sinks his face back down on his fists, quickly relocating the last line he read in his book.
Somewhere the dials of a clock rhythmically tick off second after second, someone coughs, heels tap steady on hardwood floors until they hit carpet and die out in dull thuds.
He doesn't dare check his watch, knowing full well he only started work about an hour ago and he still has another seven to go.
"Excuse me," a voice calls behind the counter, "Could you tell me where I could find historical fiction?"
He sighs, making a mental note that he did this to himself and he'd rather not get fired for being unfriendly to the visitors, so he tries to muster some enthusiasm. "Section D," he recalls from memory, "Second–" He looks up, "–row," he adds in a breath, momentarily stunned by the picture perfect image in front of him.
They haven't gotten a whole lot of college students so far, it's the start of summer and most people his age acted wisely and took a vacation before starting any summer jobs, so it's a surprise to see a guy–he can't be over twenty-one–staring at him wide-eyed behind thick black-rimmed glasses, jet black curls modestly tamed. Cute, he catches himself thinking.
"In the back." He points over his shoulder. "The signs are pretty self-explanatory."
A blush creeps to the boy's cheeks in harmony with the smile that slides to a corner of his mouth; he drums his fingers on the counter, adding, "Thanks," before he makes his way to the back of the library.
He huffs a smile and shakes his head–he's not going to start picking up guys where he works.
He's not that desperate for a distraction.
When the add caught his eye on the bulletin board at campus he'd already applied for three other jobs, but the library was the only place that accepted his application.
The administrator had showed him the ins and outs of the library, browsed through every section and subsection before teaching him how to use the computer system. And it wasn't exactly rocket science, he had the floor plans and sections memorized by the end of his second day and the computers stopped being a challenge after his first week.
It was easy money, a lot of money for a job that was so fucking mind numbing. But it was money he needed if he planned on going head-to-head with his friends, who somehow managed to find a more expensive nightclub every week. And as long as his parents refused to pay for anything besides his tuition, well, a summer job was his only viable option.
Most days he minds the reception on the ground floor, situated in the dead center of the hall–he checks books in an out with little regard for who he's doing it for, prints out new membership cards, sorts books per section and he gets the chance to stretch his legs by replacing the books on the shelves.
By his third week he was resigned to bring books from home to pass the time, assigned reading for the next fall semester or something more leisurely, and even though all his friends are straight A students like him, they'd make fun of him if they found out he spent his days reading. He likes to read, but he usually prefers to do so when he's home and a quiet relaxing night in with a good book sounds like a nice change of pace.
But the pace has been slow and steady for three weeks straight and some days he feels like he'll go out his mind if he has to do this for another two months.
Section D boy returns the day after, walking right past his desk this time around and he gives his eyes license to follow him across the room. It's hot out, yet the boy's dressed in red chinos that don't quite cover his ankles, his feet are sockless, the ensemble completed by a checkered shirt underneath a black sweater. There's a strap of a shoulder bag running diagonally from his right shoulder to his hip, but it fails to disguise the rounded shape of one seriously fine ass.
So no, he won't pick up guys at the library.
But that doesn't mean he can't look for any distraction to keep him on his toes.
He doesn't pay that much attention, he usually sees the boy arrive, but he guesses he leaves whenever he's busy because he never catches him walk back out the door.
Some days pass slowly.
Others, luckily, provide enough visitors to break the routine, and at times he'll even have to accompany a visitor to the proper subsection before a book is located. As far as excitement goes he'll be the first to admit that sitting home alone had more potential than this, but he needs the money, and at least he's not waiting tables.
"Here you go, ma'am," he says, grabbing a thick volume about World War Two from the top shelf.
"Thank you, dear," the elderly woman replies, the book shaking between her hands. She toddles back to one of the reading tables, where she has five more books splayed open on different pages, her notebook filled with barely legible handwriting.
"Don't hurt yourself now, Mrs Ettinger," he says, earning him both a smile and a dismissive wave. "I'll be at the front desk if you need me."
He walks past three shelves before something catches his eye, a pair of legs stretched across one of the aisles. He stops at one end of the aisle, peering towards the middle, where the boy sits lounged back against one of the shelves, legs out in front of him, book in hand, reading with a concentration he hasn't seen very often before.
This section is one of the oldest in the library, still waiting to be renovated, the shelves are all a dark oak wood and the lighting isn't all it should be, but it seems to be cozy enough for his frequent visitor.
He keeps staring, though he's not sure why, watching the boy get comfortable in a new position, crossing his legs. He takes a look around and sees only Mrs Ettinger at one of the tables, all the others free for use. Yet here that boy sits, warm and snug, surrounded by a fictional past.
And he doesn't look up. Not once.
He devotes his Friday morning to sifting through random shelves in search of books that might've been misplaced. After only an hour the labels all start blurring together and he goes cross-eyed. It's mornings like these he wishes the library allowed food and drinks inside–he would kill for a coffee right about now.
But in lieu of getting that coffee he decides to head out to the back of the library, maybe peruse the historical fiction section for any misplaced titles.
And sure enough, he finds the boy in Section D, Row 2, sitting back cross-legged against the same bookshelf he assumes is his usual spot, adorable as ever.
He starts at the back-end of the row, checking every label on the spines of the books, picking out one or two titles that don't belong and rearranging the order on others. He looks over his shoulder every now and then, but all he catches the boy doing is flip page after page, leaving him to wonder if he's actually reading the book, or searching the pages for something specific.
"You know there's empty tables you can use, right?" he asks, the words past his lips before he's decided to bring it up.
The boy's head snaps up, his eyes find his and it seems to take a few seconds for his words to sink in. "Do I–" The boy swallows. "Would you like me to move?" he asks politely.
"No–" He shrugs. "I figured it'd be more comfortable, that's all."
"I'm fine here," the boy says, a small twitch in his mouth, his face expressionless before he delves back in his book.
He finishes up the rest of the row, opposite the side the boy occupies, and even though he has to be blocking at least some of his light at one point, the boy doesn't move, doesn't stir. Doesn't make a single sound.
He leaves the other side for what it is. It leaves him an excuse to come back some other time.
He breaks for lunch–it seems to be the only time the boy leaves too–but by the time he makes it back, he catches a glimpse of a yellow pair of chinos making their way inside the library.
It's truly a testament to how terrible Fridays are, but there are only one or two visitors and he finishes A Clash of Kings faster than he anticipated–and he decides to finish the task he started this morning, though he hovers around Row 2 as if it's a sacred place not to be disturbed.
And it's a weird comfort to know he's not completely alone. The rest of the library might be empty and they might not actually communicate, but he's there, the boy's there, both living next to each other in the same shared space. And it's nice. Just being.
By five he's finishing up at reception, and the boy walks past on his way out.
"Have a nice weekend," he calls, confident they're the only two people still there.
The boy stops in his tracks as if struck by lightning. "I–Yeah, thanks," he stutters, and turns around.
He takes a single step and turns around again, raising his hand halfway in what he assumes was meant to be a wave, but the boy grimaces, eyes close for half a second like he's berating himself and adds a hasty, "You too," before he turns around one last time and leaves.
He leans back in his chair, oddly enamored, and spends the remainder of his shift staring at the door.
On Saturday he helps Santana move in with her girlfriend under a constant cover of insults and commands, soothed by the sweet nonsense Brittany throws around.
Later that night Nick drags him to a friend's party, and considering Nick's the only one of his friends who remained in the city for the summer he figures he might as well tag along. The party's a bust, a heap of people he doesn't know in some apartment downtown, getting drunk, shouting and pushing each other around. Nick leaves him in favor of attaching his lips to Jeff's, some guy he's been crushing on for ages, and suddenly it becomes clear why he needed a wingman.
He decides to get as wasted as everyone else.
He dedicates most of his Sunday to nursing his hangover, eating greasy food and drinking a lot of water, starting A Storm of Swords, because as much as he abhors Adam's general taste in things, the boy knows his literature.
His entire Monday passes by in a blur of photocopies, running about the library in search of books, and bringing up specific titles from the archives in the basement for some art student writing a thesis about the Flemish Primitives.
He smuggles in a cup of coffee because his head still hurts and he didn't get nearly enough sleep, and in the few moments he does get to himself he buries his face in his hands and swears to God he's never drinking again.
He sees Section D come and go, but he feels too lousy to pay much attention.
Mrs Ettinger demands most of his time on Tuesday, but it allows him to... up until now he's hesitated to apply the word 'spy' whenever he checks on Section D because that sounds too creepy, but considering the lack of reciprocation he's definitely venturing into spy territory.
The boy just never moves. He reads, and he reads, and he reads, cute as a button, never moving, hardly stirring. He's left to wonder if his interest stems from honest curiosity, or if his boredom has reached such alarming levels that he's taken to spying on some guy he wouldn't even notice if he crossed him on the street.
He can't figure out what would inspire a young good looking guy to sit in a library day after day when he could be out exploring the city, shop, walk around Central Park, hell, check books out and read in Central Park.
But he's been a fixture for two weeks now and he hasn't checked out a single book.
It takes him until Thursday to see it: the boy's reading a different book every time. He's read, or at the very least leafed through, four books in four days and he keeps coming back for more.
So on Friday, when he's outside having a smoke, and Section D wanders past him on his way home, he can't help but ask, "You really read all of those?", causing the boy to stop awkward in front of him, and he's surprised when he finds him shorter than he thought he'd be. Not that he's been wondering.
The boy blinks. "What?"
He picks the cigarette from between his lips. "All the books you leaf through," he says, puffing out some smoke. "You really read them?"
"I uh–" The boy shuffles a step back and adjusts his glasses, avoiding his eyes while his nose crunches in a way that he shouldn't find absolutely adorable. "I read really fast."
"Two hundred words per minute."
He smiles, more impressed by the second. "So you're some kind of genius."
The boy giggles, and drags his thumb underneath the strap of his bag running across his chest. "No, I just–" His smile's as picture perfect as the rest of him and he realizes there and then he's breaking his own rule: he's flirting with a guy he met at work. "I just read really fast."
He takes a drag from his cigarette, holding the smoke before letting it escape between his teeth, contemplating the cute boy who is still determined not to make eye contact.
"Well uhm," the boy says, staring down at his feet. "Have a–great weekend," he says, taking off down the sidewalk.
"You too," he answers, but he's not sure the boy catches it.
Saturday morning he shoots some hoops with Nick and a bunch of Jeff's friends, and they brunch at some new place he's sure to return to sometime. Nick talks him into another party, and really, what else does he have to do? He already reads so much at work that he welcomes Nick's strange ideas of having fun, even at the risk of another terrible hangover.
That night they end up somewhere in Bushwick, Brooklyn and he's seriously worried someone tried to have a go at Nick by sending him to the middle of nowhere or maybe they're about to get robbed, but as they're ascending the stairs in an industrial-style apartment complex, he hears music wafting down the steps, accompanied by exciteful voices.
Soon they enter a large loft filled with an acceptable amount of people, all around their age. People actually seem to be talking to each other and not shouting, whoever hosted the party is serving wine, beer and a variety of cocktails, and it looks all around more fun than any party he's ever been to.
"Rachel!" Nick calls, drawing the attention of a petite brunette across the room with a wide smile vaguely reminiscent of another smile. Nick runs over to talk to the girl, leaving him on his own at a party where he knows absolutely no one. Nick's one stand up guy, really.
"You can drop your coat in the other room," a voice calls behind him, and he turns towards it with an air of recognition.
And who should it be but him, the boy he was just reminded of, the same one who's been on his mind for the past three weeks; he's wearing a purple button down, tight around his chest because he's buttoned it all the way up, and a pair of dark dress pants.
He looks amazing.
The boys eyes go wide for a moment and it's the first time he sees them properly, big and brown, though the description doesn't do them justice.
He smiles. "Section D."
The boy's head shakes with a stutter. "Excuse me?"
He shrugs. "I had to call you something."
The boy turns his head with a smile, shy and blushing and he finds himself mesmerized–he's met boys like this before, too shy to talk to anyone unless spoken to, not too comfortable in social situations, and it's the first time one of them has managed to grab his attention for longer than a few minutes. Maybe he hasn't been giving them enough credit.
Because this boy is quite something.
"Blaineeey," the girl Nick had called out to earlier skips over, reaching an arm around Blaine's–his name's Blaine–waist. Had he read this wrong? Was Section D straight? His radar's not usually this far off.
"Who's your friend?" Rachel asks.
Blaine looks momentarily panicked, so he offers, "Sebastian."
Rachel smiles up at him, pushing her body up against Blaine's. "And how do we know Sebastian?"
And while Blaine definitely seems at ease around Rachel, he's still nervous when he answers, "From the–library."
Rachel reaches for the buttons on Blaine's shirt and pops two of them, perturbed when Blaine pulls back and he decides, no, these two are not dating.
"The cute one you told me about," Rachel says pointedly, eyes primed on Blaine while he feels his eyebrows pull up–so he has been noticed.
"Rachel," Blaine hisses, but Rachel simply shrugs and leaves them alone again.
He likes this girl.
"Don't mind her," Blaine laughs nervously. "She's hosting, so she's a little–" he searches for the word, but when it doesn't come he raises his drink to his lips and takes a big sip.
His eyes narrow on Blaine. "So you don't think I'm cute?" he asks, and for a second it seems like Blaine might choke on his drink, but he catches himself in time. He has to be careful what he says around this guy... but he's more than up for a challenge.
"Rachel's your–sister?" he asks, hoping that a different topic will get Blaine out of panic mode. A sister could explain the resemblance between them, and the ease they have around each other–the motherly care Rachel showed also seemed to point that way.
Blaine nods, pushing his glasses back up his nose. "We live here together."
He lets his eyes wander all over the loft, a big place for two people, and it's curious how he can tell both Blaine and Rachel had some say in the decoration. He doesn't know Blaine, but if his outfits are any indication he imagines he's particular about cleanliness, which shows in the book cases–DVDs and books arranged alphabetically, and even though the loft is filled with people the kitchen's clean and organized, labeled boxes showing through the glass of the cabinets.
Before he can take the conversation any further Blaine's eyes catch somewhere over his shoulder and he turns fidgety again. He dares a glance behind him and catches sight of a guy in the doorway, waving at Blaine.
"Boyfriend?" he asks before he's fully facing Blaine again, and when he does Blaine's staring down at his feet, one hand in a pocket and he can tell he's lost Blaine completely. Not a boyfriend, then.
"We went out a few times," Blaine says, setting his drink aside. "Excuse me," he mutters, and shoots past him before he can react.
Blaine walks over to the guy, who kisses him on the cheek even though Blaine flinches. They exchange a few words, and go their separate ways.
"They're not together," Rachel's by his side with her singsong voice and offers him a glass of red wine. "Nick said you're a wine drinker," she explains quickly, before picking up her initial comment again. "They went on a few dates, but Hunter–"
Rachel looks up at him and he can't tell if she's trying to ascertain his level of interest or if she's testing him. Either way he's cornered.
"Wanted too much too fast?" he asks.
Rachel beams. "He's right. You are cute."
And then she disappears again, weaving through the people in the room, talking to her guests, as if she never spoke to him at all. He doesn't have any siblings, but he's pretty sure a sister like Rachel would drive him crazy.
He doesn't talk to Blaine again. The few people he does talk to help him figure out most of them are in Nick's theatre group, all of them in the performing arts–apparently Rachel's one of their leading ladies.
His eyes do find Blaine in the crowd every now and then; he keeps to himself, making sure all their guests have enough drinks and snacks and by the end of the night he's content simply watching Blaine, while sober of all things.
He puts entirely too much thought into Blaine all weekend–he's just a guy who frequents the library he happens to work, and every time they talked he's the one who made the first move. Even if Blaine told Rachel he was cute, that didn't mean he was interested. And God, it's not like he's after this guy.
But he does find Blaine interesting.
Maybe he's only adverse to the idea of liking Blaine because a library isn't a place where he traditionally finds a date, that kind of thing is reserved for young adult fiction where boys and girls who enjoy reading are depicted as precious and rare things. That's not his story, and it's not Blaine's story.
And yet come Monday Blaine walks through those doors again, casts him a shy smile and buries his hands in his pockets while he passes the front desk, and he finds himself drawn towards the back of the library beyond his control.
He gives it half an hour, tapping his foot as he checks his watch every three minutes–he doesn't want to seem too eager or come on too strong. He draws a hand over his face and laughs. What's happening to him?
When the thirty minutes are up he shoots out of his chair and grabs the few books that need to be shelved in Section D–he tries not to seem in too much of a hurry, but there's an odd trip to his step he doesn't quite understand. He tells himself he does it for the distraction, but he suspects it's more than that.
Blaine sits huddled in his usual spot, and once again it's his mouth that speaks first. "Why don't you ever check anything out?"
Blaine looks up at him with a, "Hmm?" like he's pulling him away from some faraway land full of knights and damsels in distress.
He takes a few steps into the aisle. "You're here reading every day," he says. "You could check some books out and read at home. Your place seemed nice. You wouldn't even have to leave for lunch."
Blaine smiles and closes his book, pulling his legs up to his chest. "I don't like being home alone," he says. "Rachel's in rehearsals for an off-Broadway show and she comes home pretty late."
It's the most words he's heard come out of Blaine's mouth in all their conversation combined and he's drawn closer; he sits down on the floor and crosses his legs, sitting close to Blaine, but not too close for anyone to start questioning his motives.
"Besides," Blaine adds, "there's something romantic about libraries."
Blaine nods, picking at the seams of his pants. "It's quiet, but you're never completely alone," he says, torn between looking him in the eye and looking away. "People all come here for the same reason. Most people anyway."
"And you like books," he says.
"So do you." Blaine blinks. "I mean, why else would you take a job here?"
"It's good money." He shrugs. "But I prefer to read where there's coffee nearby."
Blaine smiles. "Libraries do woefully lack on the coffee front."
He doesn't know what possesses him to do it, but two days later he risks his job smuggling two coffees and a muffin into the library. He locates Blaine in his usual spot and places a coffee and the muffin next to Blaine on the carpet–considering how neat Blaine is he figures he can risk it.
Blaine blinks up at him with his big brown eyes.
He puts a finger to his own lips. "You did not get this from me." He smiles down at Blaine but doesn't join him–he wants to get some actual work done too.
"T-Thanks," Blaine's voice sounds uncertain behind him.
The next day he's caught off guard by the tentative, "H-Hi", and he looks up to the same picture perfect image he was faced with the first time he ever saw Blaine. It still takes his breath away, how effortlessly good looking this boy is, and he probably doesn't even realize it.
"Is it happening?" He raises his eyebrows. "Are you actually checking out a book?"
"No." Blaine laughs, and shakes his head, scratching behind his ear before making eye contact. "I was wondering if you'd like to grab lunch with me later?" –somewhere halfway Blaine's request veers into a question, his voice a higher pitch towards the end.
And he's momentarily stunned that it's Blaine and not him initiating a conversation.
"Unless you have plans," Blaine rushes out, "I can–"
He gets up from his chair, cutting Blaine short. "I'd love to have lunch with you."
Blaine releases a breath, hands wringing around the strap of his bag. "Great." He nods. "I'll–I'll see you later."
He grins. "Later, killer."
Blaine dashes past reception, back to his private little corner, and he plops back down in his chair. He checks his watch: four hours until lunch.
He doesn't go and find Blaine, he doesn't want to give Blaine any reason to change his mind, but that leaves him stuck with work or a book to read and he can't focus on either. He goes out of his mind questioning Blaine's motives: maybe he wanted to return the favor by buying him lunch, maybe that's the kind of guy he was.
But did that really matter? He's not actively pursuing Blaine, so why would this lunch make him so nervous? He knows the answer to that though. He wants to impress Blaine, and he can't for the life of him figure out why. Blaine's turned him upside down without doing much more than blush and smile.
After what he's convinced are actual eons the clock finally strikes twelve and Blaine's by his side.
They head out to a small café around the corner where he usually eats, and they both order a light lunch. Blaine doesn't offer to pay and he relaxes; he's been making this out to be a bigger deal than it actually is–he'd be more than happy if he and Blaine became friends, if only to break his routine with some honest and warm human contact.
They eat in silence until Blaine asks him what he's been reading–he tells him about his roommate Adam, back to merry Old England for the summer, and how he'd recommended the Song of Fire and Ice series. Blaine's eyes light up and soon they're talking about their favorite books, which tumbles into them talking about their favorite movies.
He finds out Blaine's an art major at NYU and that he often visits museums during weekends, whenever Rachel doesn't demand his attention that is, and somewhere near the end of their lunch hour he catches himself thinking none of the other goobers he's ever dated would hold up to Blaine–Blaine's smart and funny and wickedly sharp, his shyness simply disguises it too well.
It's only when he settles back down in his chair at reception that he realizes he's thinking about dating Blaine.
He's so incredibly screwed.
They have lunch together the rest of the week and they talk about everything. He divulges he's an English major at Columbia, disappointing his father because he'd hoped he'd become a lawyer like him and his grandfather–but he'd decided long ago he'd follow his own dreams and not appease his parents.
Turns out Blaine's in much the same position: his father's a doctor and he was expected to step into the family business–luckily his mother was a big believer in listening to her heart. That's how Blaine had ended up in New York with Rachel, who's a senior at the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts.
Blaine loosens up around him and it's an absolute delight. Despite his will to impress Blaine he can't figure out why he thought he had to in the first place–he can be himself with Blaine without there being any demands or expectations and the more Blaine relaxes around him the more he accepts that it's enough to simply enjoy each other's company.
He's never had that with anyone.
Days pass, another week, and their lunches become routine.
And he thinks that Blaine is fast becoming the closest thing he's ever had to a best friend.
"Need any help?" Blaine's voice sounds one July afternoon. He's wheeling around a cart with books that need to go back on the shelves and there doesn't seem to be an end to it today.
Blaine walks over and traces his fingers over all the spines, and by now he knows Blaine well enough to realize he reads every title in a matter of seconds before meeting his eyes.
"That's okay," he says. "I don't want to keep you from your peasants or cathedrals."
But Blaine grabs a book from the cart and puts it in the right spot.
"I finished my book," Blaine says, eyes big and innocent when he looks at him again, and he's left to wonder if he'll ever be able to deny Blaine anything if he keeps using those puppy eyes on him. "Unless you want me to–"
The sentence dangles in the space between them and for a moment or two he lets it–he likes how Blaine's slowly coming out of his shell, it's a marvel to see more sides to him revealed, little by little. Blaine's not only smart and funny, he's ambitious and driven and sympathetic. More than anything he loves how big a dreamer Blaine is, maybe even more than Rachel. Half the time Blaine lives in his own make-belief world, and it's flattering to think he's the one pulling him out of it now.
He grabs a book and holds it out to Blaine.
"Don't worry," he hushes and winks, "If my boss asks I'll tell her you're trying to seduce me."
Blaine turns away with a smile and that rosy blush in his cheeks, but he doesn't deny it either.
It becomes a habit of Blaine's to help him out every now and then–he claims it's only when he finishes a book and there's no use to start a new one, but he's started questioning the truth of Blaine's excuses. He doesn't say anything though, he secretly likes the idea that Blaine wants to spend time with him, whatever the reason.
Sometimes Blaine gets lost in one of the books they're meant to be stacking–one second he'll be skimming the back cover and then he'll be reading the first page, sinking down to the floor moments later to read the rest of it. He'll come look for Blaine some time later, but leave him to his reading, immersed in a new world in another section. Blaine's at his most unguarded like this, all his defenses down, and he feels privileged to be witness to it.
Blaine still devotes most of his time to reading historical fiction, but now he'll sit at reception, sometimes inside the booth, while he does his work there.
No one complains because Blaine was a fixture before, and he's not doing any harm.
Rachel makes Blaine invite him to another party, hosted by her boyfriend Jesse, which means Rachel's co-hosting and she enlisted Blaine for the preparations.
Blaine drifts his way this time around, two glasses of red wine in hand, and they fall into a conversation about Rachel and Jesse and their projects, about the show they're putting together right now and how he should come check it out when it premiers.
They're only interrupted once or twice by people greeting Blaine, but for the most part it's the two of them in a corner of the living room.
The alcohol loosens Blaine up and he smiles easier, a warm glow in his cheeks and he wonders who he's trying to fool–he likes Blaine, a lot, and while he's not the guy to overstep the boundaries of friendship, he has to start accepting that he wants something more with Blaine. And he's most definitely not the guy who keeps these kinds of feelings locked away until he explodes with them.
"Question," he says, tapping his index finger to Blaine's shoulder. "Does Rachel pick out your outfits for these parties?"
"Why?" Blaine's face falls and he looks down at his outfit. "What's wrong with it?"
"Nothing." He chuckles. "You look–" He tries to find a milder word than the one he had in mind, but one more look at Blaine's outfit, a grey henley with all the buttons down yet somehow snug around his chest, has him spewing the word, "Hot," before he manages to tone it down.
But Blaine laughs a lovely smile and takes off his glasses. "She's been trying to get me to wear contacts too," he squints.
And leave it to him to object to anything Rachel puts her brother through in the name of fashion–while Blaine looks amazing even without his glasses, he's gotten so used to seeing him with them that they've become part of him.
He grabs the glasses from Blaine and puts them back on. "No, I like your glasses," he confesses, closer to Blaine that he's ever been, and he lets himself get lost in Blaine's eyes–Blaine holds his gaze and he thinks that look tells him everything he needs to know, he feels it playing between them, that exciting tension before they're fully certain of each other's intentions.
His eyes fall down to Blaine's lips and that's what does it: Blaine flinches back a little and takes a sip from his drink, and he's sure his disappointment's riddled all over his face.
"Blaine!" Rachel's boyfriend calls and Blaine excuses himself, giving him leave to sag back against the wall and emptying his glass while he wallows in the cruel cold of rejection. And maybe it's not rejection per se, but he won't get anywhere if he doesn't get Blaine to lower his guard, stop him thinking and get him feeling if only for a few moments.
"You really like him," Rachel sneaks up on him again, replacing his drink.
He straightens his shoulders. "You expected me to love him and leave him?"
"Not at all." Rachel crosses her arms and shrugs. "I just know my brother."
He really does like Rachel, he admires the way she takes care of Blaine and looks out of him, even if it means creeping up on him out of nowhere. It's almost a pity he's reluctant to ask for her help winning Blaine over–he wants to do this on his own. Maybe, eventually, when he's out of options, he'll ask Rachel to nudge Blaine in his direction.
"You're really hanging in there," Rachel says.
He raises an eyebrow; it's not like he's suffering here. Holding back or not, Blaine's a great guy to hang out with.
"Trust me," Rachel adds. "He's worth it."
He smiles and spots Blaine across the room, talking to Nick and Jess and he thinks, yes, this boy's definitely worth it.
"They take turns hosting parties every two weeks," Blaine says, picking another misplaced title off the shelf–they're working on opposite sides of the aisle, but Blaine reads the labels twice as fast as he does and he's made a lot more progress.
"And let me guess," he says. "Rachel finds a way to involve herself every time."
Blaine laughs, which he takes as a positive answer.
He's happy his move at Jesse's party hasn't scared Blaine away–Blaine knows he was thinking about kissing him and he's smart enough to realize those feelings won't disappear. Blaine's clearly sticking around for a reason.
"Why historical fiction?" he asks.
"What do you mean?"
"You've been reading historical fiction all summer. Why not change it up?"
"I'm going through a phase."
He turns around and watches Blaine skip through label after label, not missing a beat. "A phase?" he asks, leaning back against the shelves.
"That's what Rachel calls them," Blaine answers: he has his back to him and he doubts Blaine's even noticed he's given up on work for at least a few minutes in favor of learning more about him. "After Christmas I read a lot of sci-fi, in March I started on non-fiction."
"Now I'm–" Blaine shrugs, "–into historical novels."
"You're really something," he says, and it's not a mistake, he doesn't regret saying it. He wants Blaine to know how he's slowly weaseled his way into his heart, intentional or not, but that makes Blaine someone special. And he's more than the books he reads or the walls he hides behind, Blaine is a genius as far as he's concerned.
Blaine turns to face him, smiling. "I'm a nerd."
"You say that like it's a bad thing." He takes a step closer, pushing into Blaine's personal space. He has to do it, he likes having Blaine as a friend, but he can't stand this uncertainty.
Blaine's eyes go wide and a little desperate as if he's trying to tell him something wordlessly. "Sebastian, I'm not–" he starts, but loses his nerve again, averting his eyes and shuffling where he stands.
"I'm sorry." He casts down his eyes. Sometimes he honestly can't make heads or tails of Blaine, he can't read him like he can other people–it's one of the things that attracted him in the first place, but it makes situations like these a lot more difficult. "I thought you wanted this."
"I d-do," Blaine stutters. "I really really do." He looks up into Blaine's big brown eyes; he's nervous all over and picking at his nails, but he toughs through. "I'm just terrible at–" he swallows, "expressing myself."
He draws another step closer, Blaine's arms drop to his sides and he takes in a shuddery breath. Blaine likes him, Blaine really likes him or he wouldn't go to through the trouble of maintaining eye contact or saying all the things he said.
"I can think of an expression or two," he says.
Blaine blinks a few times, his eyes skip to his lips, whispers, "I'm–"
"Deep breaths," he says, drowning in Blaine's eyes once they find his again, hoping beyond all hope this won't scare Blaine off. Maybe all he needs to do is get past this initial stage and they can actually be something.
"Don't think about it," he whispers, his heart hammering in his chest, all he feels is the body in front of him, the beautiful boy in front of him.
He leans in, enough to tease but not to spook Blaine, waiting patiently for Blaine to decide what he wants.
Blaine's breathing deepens and when one of them finally moves it's Blaine–he pushes himself up on his toes and next his lips are on his and the world dissolves around him. There's him, there's Blaine, and he nips at Blaine's lips a few times, relishing his small gasps and the barely-there moan, the way his hands don't quite know where to settle.
He moves in even closer, his hands reach up for Blaine's face, thumbs stroking short lines over his cheekbones. He doesn't take the kiss much further, too aware of his own skin once Blaine's hands come to rest on his chest, sliding down to his sides, livewires against him.
Blaine breaks the kiss but doesn't move. "That was nice," he breathes a smile.
He pulls back because he's in no hurry, he has his answer now, and he bumps his nose against Blaine's, hands still on his face. "But does it beg repeating?" he asks, his own answer pulsing through him like a beacon.
Blaine licks his lips and nods, but it's so imperceptible that he has to wait for Blaine to say something more before he's certain. "You have work first," Blaine's voice dips low and it travels straight below his waist.
He takes a deep breath, realizing his focus will be off all day, but he doesn't want to push for too much too soon. He runs his hands down Blaine's shoulders. "Good thing I have you to keep me in line."
They share a second, similar, kiss at the end of his shift; Blaine's going to the movies with some friends and he's meeting his parents for dinner, and as they're saying their see you laters he can't help himself. He leans in and pushes his lips to Blaine's, the kiss immediately reciprocated by the added pressure of Blaine's mouth.
"See you later," he repeats in a whisper, frustrated that he can't cancel on his parents because he'd never hear the end of it. Not that he believes Blaine would cancel his plans for him.
"Later," Blaine whispers, similarly reluctant to part ways.
He invites Blaine for dinner at his place the next day and he's even more awkward than before: he keeps at a distance while he works in the kitchen and avoids eye contact as much as he can. Part of him fears Blaine's changed his mind about them and is too scared to admit it, but they're talking art and literature the same as always and he can't put his finger on what's wrong. Did something happen? Does Blaine not want this after all?
"Are you okay?" he asks at long last as they're settling on the couch, after a dinner filled with broken sentences and awkward silences.
"I know I'm being weird." Blaine sighs. "I'm sorry."
He doesn't move an inch, glued to his seat out of fear of unbalancing their entire dynamic. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Blaine takes off his glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose. "It's just–" His hands drop to his lap. "I haven't been with a lot of people and–" Blaine looks at him carefully, as if saying the wrong word will set him off. "I don't know how to do this."
He relaxes on the spot, Blaine's anxiety real and tangible and more than understandable. He doesn't know how to do this either, every relationship starts off on shaky ground while you scope the other's wants and needs–it won't be any different for them. "There's no rules, Blaine," he says. "You just take it as it comes."
"And how does it–" Blaine shakes his head, "–come?"
"I don't know." He shrugs. "What do you want?"
Blaine puts on his glasses and turns his body towards him, pulling his legs closer until his knees are touching his thighs, sitting closer in the crook of his body. "You," Blaine confesses, absentmindedly reaching out to hook a finger inside the collar of his V-neck.
"Well then," he can't help but smile. "That's definitely a start."
Blaine comes closer and their lips meet, their bodies sinking back in the sofa as they exchange the same lazy kisses as before, only now they have nowhere else to be, so they kiss, and they kiss, and they kiss.
They take things slow. They go about their daily lives without much changing, but at night, barring any other obligations, they come to his place for dinner. After he finishes his books they start watching Game of Thrones together and comment on all the things different from the books, they judge casting choices, but mostly they spend time together.
His roommates bought one of those big lounge couches that could easily serve as a bed, so after dinner Blaine curls up close to his body, one arm stretched across his chest while his lies around Blaine's shoulders. Sometimes Blaine nuzzles his neck and he'll kiss his forehead, and more often than not they'll lose themselves in kissing, small short kisses laced with whispers and laughter, or deep hot ones where their hands roam down each other's bodies, feeling, exploring, learning.
Blaine still visits the library every day, seemingly set on reading every historical novel Section D has to offer by the end of the summer. He still helps out, they still have lunch, but both make it a point to take time apart as well. He really doesn't want to get fired because his boss catches him making out with one of their frequent visitors.
Sometimes they can't help but give in to temptation though. One minute they'll be re-shelving books and talking casually, until that talk turns into banter and then turns into flirting and before they know it they'll be lip locked, he'll have Blaine pressed up against one of the shelves, losing his breath while his tongue works against Blaine's, dick half hard because Blaine drives him crazy.
"You have to stop coming here," he pants to Blaine's lips, fingers tangled in his curls.
Blaine pulls back, still occasionally seized by insecurity. "What? Why?"
He smiles and presses a kiss to Blaine's lips. "You're too much of a distraction," he whispers, feeling Blaine relax instantly. "How am I supposed to focus when I know you're sitting here? Showing off your pretty ankles in Section D."
Blaine laughs, a hiccup that travels right down the aisle and echoes out further into the library.
"Shh-hh," he laughs, realizing he needs to get back to work before this gets completely out of hand. He pulls at Blaine's curls a little and Blaine hums, but pushes gently at his chest at the same time.
"I should–stop distracting you," Blaine says, pulling himself away.
He kisses Blaine again, while his hands fall to his side. "Tell Tolstoy I said hi."
Even though communicating with Blaine hasn't always been easy, this thing they started becomes surprisingly simple, or maybe he perceives it that way because he's never had this with anyone. Blaine doesn't ask for anything, he lets him be when he needs to be, and he's off on his own when he wants to be alone.
At parties they hardly touch besides their hands brushing together. Blaine's not big on public displays of affection, much to Rachel's frustration, because she still creeps up on him whenever he's alone. For some reason she needs proof that they're actually dating, even though Blaine has explicitly told her so, and she must have noticed his growing absence.
So she starts going out of her way to get to know him. She invites him to the loft for dinner, and despite Jesse being there too Rachel focuses most of her attention on him, asking him detailed questions about his life Blaine already knows the answer to.
Blaine spends most of the night with a hand covering his face.
When Rachel veers into ex-boyfriend territory, Jesse jumps up from his chair, claps his hands together and says, "How about dessert?" which makes Blaine spring into action alongside him.
He and Rachel are left alone at the table and she sits with her arms crossed, lips pressed tight together, and somewhere, deep down, he actually feels kind of sorry for her. She's only looking out for Blaine, after all.
"You were right," he says, and Rachel blinks up at him, the same big shiners as Blaine staring at him wide-eyed and questioning. "He was worth the wait," he adds.
Rachel smiles slowly, but doesn't say anything, making sure everyone's included in conversation once Blaine and Jesse return with dessert.
They're well into week three of their as-yet-undefined relationship when he feels Blaine pulling back. He doesn't catch on at first, he figures Blaine gets lost in his books so much that he wants to finish them, but one day their lunches are quiet, and Blaine stays secluded to Section D, and then even their dinners turns silent.
He doesn't say anything the first few days, maybe Blaine needs to come to him on his own or maybe it'll blow over, but when five days pass and there's not so much as a peep from Blaine, he decides they need to face this silent treatment head on.
Blaine's in his arms, curled up cozy against his hoodie and he's dragging a hand through his thick curls when he notices Blaine's not paying attention to the television at all.
He kisses Blaine's forehead. "You've been quiet."
Blaine releases a breath and stirs in his arms, pausing the DVD in the middle of a scene neither of them were watching. Blaine looks up at him, but his eyes don't settle anywhere.
He strokes a hand down Blaine's back. "What's wrong?"
"Is this–" Blaine starts. "Is this a summer fling?"
He frowns, so caught off guard by the question that his brain short-circuits for any answer.
"I mean, it's fine–if it is," Blaine says. "I'm glad we met, and I really like you. But I'd–" Blaine shakes his head and his shoulders as if to rid himself of the discomfort the question brings with it. "I'd just–like to know."
And Blaine has a point, he's been living in a pretty small world since summer started; his roommates are all gone, he doesn't have school to worry about and he has a 9 to 5 job that keeps him stuck in a very tight routine. They're spending a lot of time together now because of that job, but once the summer ends they'll be attending classes in different campuses across the city, there'll be homework and essays and friends to take up their time as well.
He hears Blaine clearer than he ever has, and now he can't help but ask the same question. Are they having a summer fling? Does this only work because they're not tied to other obligations? But they're lives aren't in different cities, they share some of the same friends and if they tried he'd like to believe they can run in the same circles while also making time for each other.
If it is a summer fling, it's not a typical one.
He sits up a little straighter, the need to give Blaine as clear an answer as possible aching inside him. "I can't predict the future, Blaine," he says, hoping he chooses the right words. "I like you a lot. And I like your friends. And I'd like to still see you after the summer."
He's not sure what else he can say, he can't confess to things he's not sure of yet and he doesn't want to give Blaine false hope. He has feelings for Blaine and he wants to see their relationship to the next level, but Blaine's the one who's been setting the pace.
"Okay," Blaine breathes.
Blaine's eyes soften, and he nods. "I just needed to hear it."
"Come here," he whispers and pulls Blaine into a hug, making a mental note that Blaine's silent treatments are something they really need to talk about later.
Rachel would say Blaine's not allowed to have alcohol because it turns him into the most irresponsible young adult she has ever seen, but this is one other point they disagree on. Alcohol strips Blaine of some of his defenses, breaks down his walls until all that's left is the core of that beautiful boy–an unabashed smile and eyes that spark gold if the light hits them right, he gets more generous with his touches in public and maybe even grows a little more confident.
And as much as he loves Blaine when he's sober, he cherishes those rare occasions where he does have a little too much to drink–one night it leads them to the dance floor and Blaine holds him close, his lips vibrating against his neck as he hums along to the music, and they make out in the hallway where Nick catches them red handed.
At Rachel's birthday party she instructs Blaine to behave, but Jesse amends that with a wink, "Don't worry about her. I'll make sure she steers clear."
They talk about art and museums in Hitchcock movies and Blaine keeps inching closer, pulls his hand into his lap and holds it, and suddenly 'I like you' spins into, "I'm in love with you."
His heart skips a beat; he's seen Blaine drunk enough times to know that while impaired he's one hundred percent behind everything he says, and he thinks he really needed Blaine to say it first. Blaine's eyes are bigger than he's ever seen them and it spills out of him like water breaking a dam, "I'm in love with you too," he says, and nothing has ever sounded more right.
Blaine surges forward while pulling him closer, and he giggles against Blaine's lips when he hears Rachel squeal behind them.
They'll never hear the end of this.
His last day of work goes off without a hitch. Blaine keeps mostly to the back of the library while he shows the ropes to a new employee, and he feels oddly nostalgic about leaving this place. He can barely recall his first week, how boredom had almost driven him out of his mind, because somewhere along the way this job had become worth the effort.
"Excuse me," Blaine's voice sounds behind the counter by the end of his shift, and he smiles to himself before looking up. Who knew when he started this job he'd be walking away with a boyfriend? He can't predict the future and their daily routine will be different from now on, but he's determined to try and make it work.
Blaine's eyes are sparkling behind his glasses and he fails to contain a smile when he asks, "Do you know where I can find a cute librarian?"
He stands up and grabs his coat. "I'm afraid I don't work here anymore."
Blaine's bottom lip juts out in a pout. "Then what am I supposed to do?"
He steps out of the booth and walks over to Blaine. "We'll do what everyone else does," he says, pushing a chaste kiss to Blaine's lips. "We'll read at home."
"We?" Blaine blinks. "You'd do that for me?"
They push through the doors, out onto the street. "Of course," he says, taking hold of Blaine's hand and lacing their fingers together. "We'll have to once school starts."
Blaine smiles up at him, and he's so happy to see he can still make him blush; he hopes he never stops doing that. They walk down the street, hand in hand, while he narrates the story of them reading together.
"We'll sit on opposites side of the couch, yours or mine," he says, "and pretend not to catch each other's eye every few seconds. You'll move an ankle just to tease."
Blaine bumps shoulders with him. "That sounds nice."
He grins, tightening his hold on Blaine's hand. "Don't worry, Section D. We'll work it out."
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