Title: Journeys End
Fandom/Pairing: Glee, Kurt/Blaine
Rating: NC-17 for m/m sex
Word Count: 9,008
Summary: Post-TBU Fixit-fic.
Author’s notes: I was grappling with feels. This happened.
Gratitudes: To Andie for her kindness, and continued indulgence of my foibles. To Sam, for his compassion and wisdom and generosity. And to Cass, for the purity and ferocity of her love.
The number on his phone wasn’t familiar, but it was area code 419, so he answered it anyway. “Hello?”
A familiar voice—familiar, but stressed. Uncomfortable. Which was what helped him recognize it. “Mr. Anderson?”
“I’m… I’m very sorry to bother you, but I wanted to ask you if you’d heard from Blaine lately.”
Kurt took a sharp, involuntary breath. “If I’ve heard from—I’m sorry, Mr. Anderson, but Blaine… um. We broke up.”
“I know—of course, Kurt, I know that. It’s just… Blaine seems to be missing, and I’m not sure he… I thought he might have called you. He hasn’t?”
Kurt sat down abruptly, almost missing the edge of the couch. “Missing? Blaine’s… no, he hasn’t called me; he finally stopped calling me… how long has he been missing?” His throat was suddenly dry, the afternoon sunshine suddenly too bright.
“Oh, it’s been… only a few days—”
“A few days? Have you… are the police looking for him?”
“Of course, of course they are—it’s just that, under the circumstances, they pretty much put him down as a runaway, and I don’t think they’re looking too hard—”
“Under what circumstances?”
Mr. Anderson cleared his throat. “I don’t think… well, you know. Blaine and I… we didn’t always see eye to eye on everything.”
It was one of those things, those weird moments, when he knew something—knew it—without having the faintest idea how he knew. “You fought with him.”
A terse sigh. “We did not fight. We had… a discussion.”
A second revelation hard on the heels of the first, rock-solid conviction from out of nowhere—but nevertheless, known—and Kurt had to close his eyes and swallow, hard. “Because we broke up.”
Another uncomfortable throat-clearing. “It simply seemed abundantly clear to me that the lifestyle my son chose was not making him happy,” Mr. Anderson finally said in a rush, his voice cold and defensive. “I didn’t fight with him—I just. I appealed to his reason—” Mr. Anderson cut off abruptly, and when he spoke again, his words were calm, controlled. “Never mind that. Just—I would appreciate it, if you hear from Blaine, if you would let me know.”
Kurt’s stomach folded in on itself—frustration and outrage and worry and sorrow all at once. “I… yeah, okay.” He hesitated, then pushed himself, reminding himself that he was his father’s son. “I’m sorry this is happening to you, Mr. Anderson.” He took a breath. “And I hope Blaine comes back home soon.”
He heard Mr. Anderson swallow on the other end of the line. “Thank you, Kurt.”
He reached out on Facebook, first—and as he’d suspected, nobody knew that Blaine had run away, just that he hadn’t been at school for three days and wasn’t answering his phone. But within an hour all of the McKinley kids and all of the Warblers were on the lookout for him, and Kurt had plenty of company to worry along with him—small comfort, but at least it was something.
That night, he was IMing with Sam when his phone rang—another unknown number. He answered it. “Hello?”
“Tell my father I’m fine.” A quiet murmur, a subtle, echoing roar in the background.
Kurt felt like his hair was standing on end, and his heart lurched suddenly in his chest. “Blaine? Blaine—oh, thank God. Where are you—where have you been? Where are you? Everyone’s looking for you; your dad thinks you ran away—”
“I did,” Blaine interrupted, quiet again, expressionless. He sounded very far away, his voice drifting through a tumult of echoes. “I saw the Facebook riot, Kurt; I know my father must have called you. I don’t want to talk to him, but I… it’s my mom, I don’t want her to worry. Would you please tell her I’m all right? Would… Could you do that for me?”
“Blaine.” He had one hand out in the air, as if trying to gentle a frightened animal. “Blaine, wait; please, just talk to me—”
“I’m sorry, Kurt,” Blaine said, and then the line went dead. When Kurt pulled up the last call and dialed back, he was informed that number was no longer in service.
He was still reeling, pacing the living room, his nerves prickling with useless, urgent impulses to do… something, anything, when he made the call. Mrs. Anderson answered the phone.
“Hello?” Just that one word—but before it had always been ‘Anderson residence’ when she answered the house line, her cool, brittle contralto as lovely as it was distant—but not now. Hello. Shaking. Shaken. “Hello?”
Kurt twitched. “Mrs. Anderson? It’s Kurt. Uh, Hummel. Blaine just called me, just now, he told me to tell you—he said he’s fine, and he doesn’t want you to worry. He—”
A huff of air, like she’d just had the wind knocked out of her. “What… Kurt? He called… is it true? It was him? You’re sure?” Light, fast breathing, almost hyperventilation.
“It’s… yeah, yes; I asked him where he was, I tried to keep him on the line, but… I’m sorry, he hung up.” Kurt licked his dry lips. “But he asked me to tell you that… he says he’s fine, and he doesn’t… he said he doesn’t want to talk to his father right now, but he asked me to call you, he said he doesn’t want you to worry—”
He left off there because he thought something was wrong with the line, some sort of interference—but no, that was her, she was crying; softly but intensely, and Kurt was shocked and then embarrassed and then his heart squeezed itself sideways and he was suddenly crying himself, sour bitterness backing up in his throat and his eyes stinging. He stopped moving, stopped everything, and let his head drop.
“I’m sorry,” Mrs. Anderson husked eventually. Kurt shook his head, forgetting for the moment that she couldn’t see him. “I’ve just been… so worried, and I didn’t know if he was—”
“It’s okay,” he managed, and yes, it was one of the weirder experiences of his life, crying quietly on the phone with Blaine’s mom, but he couldn’t seem to stop. “I’m…” He stopped, sniffed, and swallowed the quaver out of his voice. “Look, I have all of his friends looking for him, and I promise I’ll call you if he gets in touch with any of us, Mrs. Anderson.”
“Carmela,” she said quietly, sniffling. “Please, Kurt—call me Carmela.”
Kurt shook his head, wiping tears away with his free hand. “Okay. Carmela.” Another weird moment, weirdly adult, and normally he enjoyed those, but this one just… hurt. “I hope he comes home soon.”
She didn’t really say goodbye; she was crying too hard. Kurt ended the call once the line went dead.
And then he looked around his apartment, and for the first time wished that he was back in Ohio.
Three weeks went by, and it was fall and it was cold and it was New York, glitter and gutter, the splendid and miraculous jewel of the city sparking through new facets of amber and russet. It was time to start making plans for Thanksgiving and start thinking about Christmas, it was time for scarves and wools and suedes and leather—and it would have been time for Blaine to start fading into the background of things (that had been Kurt’s plan, his own getting-over-Blaine plan: that as soon as Christmas came, Blaine would have faded enough for it to hurt less). Only Blaine couldn’t even start fading into the background because Blaine couldn’t be found anywhere, and he hadn’t called or texted anyone, which meant Blaine was gone at the same time that Blaine was right there, always right there, at the front of everything.
Kurt could get used to a lot of things. He could get used to fall in New York—beautiful, and the first fall he’d been through that was entirely devoid of that Midwestern bleakness that oddly meant home and family at the same time as it made him feel incredibly alone. He could get used to his own rapidly-changing sense of self, the development and honing of his abilities and talents, the work of winning a place for his feet to stand. He could get used to Korean food and subways and working until he was bleary-eyed and using caffeine like a gateway drug and being yelled at by the crazy lady down the street who always seemed to think Kurt was her mother. He could even get used to Rachel’s emergency 2 a.m. wake-up-Kurt-what-if-I’m-not-good-enough freak-outs.
But he couldn’t get used to the feeling of powerlessness, the way Blaine was omnipresently not-present—not calling and not calling until Kurt was angry enough that he really needed to yell—only there was nobody to yell at, because you couldn’t yell at gone people, and he was powerless all over again.
He couldn’t get used to the way the pain of it kept sneaking up on him in unexpected ways. The first really chilly night in New York, he broke out his heavy goose down duvet at bedtime and snuggled into it gladly, relishing the warmth—only what if Blaine, wherever he was, was cold, cold and without anything (or anyone) to warm him? And all at once Kurt was wide-eyed and sleepless and huddled in a tiny pocket of warmth, not knowing and hating not knowing and feeling like the world outside was a large, terrifying, cold and dangerous place, and Blaine was just… lost in it somewhere.
He couldn’t let go. He couldn’t move on. He couldn’t stop hurting.
And he couldn’t do anything about it.
He was in the Monday morning staff meeting when he got the call, and when he saw ‘Carmela Anderson’ flashing on the screen he got to his feet and walked out without anything more than a quick look back at Isabelle, whose face tightened just the tiniest bit with understanding, nodding at him.
“Hello? Carmela? Is he home? Is he okay?”
“No, he’s not… he didn’t come home. But I know where he is.” Her voice was soft, shaky, and Kurt stopped in the middle of the hallway and leaned against the wall, blood pounding through his head, his heart; a hammer beat in his marrow. “I… I hired a private detective.” She inhaled sharply. “Blaine’s in New England; a town called Boothbay Harbor, in Maine—”
Kurt closed his eyes. “Have you… did you talk to him, or—”
“No. Almost. I… almost, but I’m afraid he might not… I didn’t tell his father I found him, and I didn’t call him or… Kurt.” A shaky exhalation. “Would you go? I’m afraid he won’t see me, but I thought he might… if you… could you go? Would you go?”
People passing in the hallway were staring, so he ducked around the corner into the smaller conference room, currently empty. “I… of course, of course I’ll go, but—I don’t know if he’ll talk to me, or if I can do anything to get him to—”
“If he’s going to talk to anybody, Kurt, it will be you.”
She sounded sure, absolutely certain, as if it were a simple statement of fact, and Kurt had to squeeze his eyes tight shut against a sudden wave of pain. He swallowed before he spoke. “I hope you’re right.”
It was the Monday of Thanksgiving week, and after a quick check of immediate available flights (there weren’t any), Kurt found himself on the road with a seven-hour drive ahead of him—only the holiday traffic had already started, so it looked a lot more like an eight or nine-hour drive by the time he got out of the city, white-knuckled and cursing his decision not to take the train. But he had to admit that it gave him something to do other than think, which was probably a good thing.
He re-read the file Carmela had forwarded to him while he was filling the tank in Wiscasset some eight hours later, blinking gritty, road-blurred eyes. Blaine had sold his car, and was relying on a battered-looking bicycle for transportation (Kurt might not have believed it, but there were pictures). He appeared to be the only resident of a motel which—like most businesses in Boothbay Harbor—had closed for the season after Labor Day weekend. During the day, he could be seen doing various handyman jobs at the motel; installing storm windows, painting, reshingling the roof—and at night he waited tables at The Yardarm, a pub-and-grub old enough to have fed and watered whalers, not just whale-watchers. Apparent associates: none. Blaine had presumably met the person he sold his car to, the owner of the motel, and the owner of the restaurant he worked at. That was it.
Despite the details, despite the pictures, it seemed… ridiculous, absurd, entirely far-fetched and outside of the realm of the possible. It seemed that way right up until Kurt parked in front of the Yardarm and got out of the car, pulled his collar up against the slap of the salty, frigid wind coming in off the ocean and walked inside with his legs still hellishly stiff from driving. He plunked himself down in a dark, wooden booth in a dark, wooden room, with a bar along one side populated by guys who all looked like a shoo-in for the lead if they ever made a musical out of The Old Man and the Sea, and a bartender who eyed Kurt with a certain level of amused disdain before he turned towards some double doors standing open at the end of the room and shouted: “Blaine! Customer, table six!”
Blaine had a white shirt and a maroon apron and a matching bow-tie and minimal gel in his hair, and he was busy, obviously distracted, moving fast and re-tying his apron around his waist at the front, detouring sideways for a menu and then rifling his pockets for his pad, his pen without ever looking up—and he was so fucking beautiful, Kurt tried to swallow and couldn’t quite make it, tried to look elsewhere and couldn’t do that either. Blaine was so beautiful.
“What can I get you?” Blaine asked, pen and pad at the ready, finally looking up. “Oh.”
“Hi, Blaine.” To his own amazement, he sounded normal. He sounded calm. That was good. “What do you recommend?”
Blaine looked away, his lips pursed, an expression on his face like he was maybe almost smiling and maybe almost crying and also possibly getting ready to yell, and he shook his head twice before he turned back to Kurt with his cheeks flushed red and his eyes over-bright. “For you? Sole with lemon and almonds. Vegetable gratin on the side.”
“Sounds good,” Kurt said, even though eating sounded about as appealing right now as having a root canal. “I’ll have that, and some hot tea, if you—”
“Did my father send you?”
“Your mother, actually,” Kurt said softly, pushing his unopened menu towards Blaine. “She hired a private detective, but she hasn’t told your father where you are. She asked me to come see you.” He hesitated, then said the rest. “She thought you might talk to me.”
Blaine snorted softly, nodding, staring somewhere into the middle of nowhere above Kurt’s shoulder with that same expression on his face. “Hot tea, you said?”
And then Blaine took the menu and walked away, through the double doors and out of sight, and of course he might be running out the back door and Kurt ought to go stop him, only Kurt was kind of busy having a moment, being terribly sad and also furious and also staggeringly conflicted by everything about this, everything about Blaine—what used to be so simple and straightforward and pure now turned into what felt like a ball of wrestling snakes sunk into his belly. He closed his eyes and let his head drop, and didn’t even realize Blaine had come back until he was suddenly right there, setting out a cup and a small pot with an assortment of packets.
“The orange-spice is good,” Blaine said quietly. “Very warming. You look… cold. And tired.”
“Blaine,” he said, and that was just helpless—and what he meant by it was why are you trying to take care of me and I am so angry at you and why are you here and why did you why did you why?
“I’m sorry,” Blaine said, and he was crying, fuck, they were both crying. “I’m so sorry, Kurt—about everything. I can’t stand the way I hurt you, I can’t—”
“Blaine!” From the kitchen, a woman in chef’s whites was leaning out into the room through the double doors, a scrap of paper in her hand. “Either you’ve had so much coffee you’re having motor-control problems again, or you wrote this in some other language—what the hell does this say?”
Blaine’s head dropped and his shoulders slumped, and despite everything, Kurt almost laughed out loud. He wiped his eyes instead, watched Blaine retreat into the kitchen, and made himself some tea.
It was very warming.
He had no plans to actually eat, but when the food came it smelled good, and it seemed rude to let it sit there without having so much as a token bite—and when he looked down again he’d somehow cleared his plate.
“I’m glad you liked it,” Blaine murmured when he brought another pot of hot water. “Dessert? There’s cheesecake.”
“Blaine.” He swallowed. “I don’t want to play games with you. What’s it going to take?”
Blaine frowned. “For what?”
“For… to get you to stop this. To get you to go home.”
“Oh.” Blaine smiled very faintly, and he looked tired—more tired than Kurt had ever seen him. “Um. I sold my car. So… a ride?”
Kurt blinked. “Seriously? That’s it?”
Blaine shook his head. “I left because… I had to go, Kurt. And I thought what I was doing was running away from my father, but—that wasn’t it, not really.” Blaine’s eyes were brimming again, and his throat worked visibly as he swallowed. “It turns out there’s some things that you just can’t run away from.”
Kurt folded his napkin carefully, and set it to one side of his empty plate. It was probably an adult thing, this wild mix of stuff that didn’t even go together, like pity and anger and sadness and frustration and the need to help and not-help all at the same time—and maybe if he’d been informed that this was part of the whole deal, he might have actually listened to all those people who told him not to be in such a hurry to grow up. “Blaine.”
“I… would like some cheesecake.”
Blaine smiled, although his eyes were still wet. “Good.”
It was foggy, icy-cold, the air salt and raw and somehow denser than he was used to, and the Seagrass Motor Court was just a low-looming shape in the night, dark except for one lantern-shaped light at the end. “Joanne told me to stay in the family unit,” Blaine said, moving sure-footed through the blackness over slat-wood paths laid on the dunes. “It’s the biggest, and it has a kitchenette.”
“She owns the place. Her arthritis is getting bad, so she wanted some help with the post-season maintenance—and I needed a place to stay, so. It worked out.” The light marked the doorway of the end unit—presumably Blaine’s, as he was standing in front of the door and picking through his keys. “Okay—look out for Rags.”
“What rags?” Sudden light—mellow golden-bronze light, somehow an odd fit for what was undoubtedly a cheap and deeply tacky large-sized motel room awash with tasteless and emphatically nautical things. There was a sudden, shrill, piercing noise, not immediately identifiable—until he saw Blaine scoop up a tiny tabby cat, who was shrieking for his attention. “Oh.”
“My first night at the Yardarm, when I took the trash out after closing—it was pouring rain, and in the alley there was something on the ground—I thought it was just a pile of rags. But it turned out to be her.” The kitten was yelling in Blaine’s face as he held her up. “Dinner, and I was gone forever. I know.” He nodded, and shrugged at Kurt. “She has separation anxiety.”
Kurt closed the door behind him, and sat down on one of the anchor-emblazoned plastic chairs grouped around the countertop that served as a table. “Seriously?”
“Yes.” Blaine kept the kitten close to his chest while he got a small bowl and a fork from a cupboard, a can of food from the tiny refrigerator. “She just doesn’t seem to understand when I go away that I’ll always come back; that I’ll always come back to her, no matter what.” The look he gave Kurt was quick, half-pained, half-amused. “It took me almost a week to realize the irony.”
Blaine put Rags on the floor along with her food, and Kurt watched Blaine watch her eat. He was smiling softly, and for the first time he didn’t look exhausted, or frantic, or sad. “It was touch and go with her for a while—she’s just a baby, and she was pretty sick. That’s why I sold my car—to take care of her vet bill. But she’s fine now.”
Kurt swallowed. “I take it you’re bringing her home with you?”
Blaine nodded, then looked up. “Oh—of course, you probably don’t want a cat in your car, that’s fine, we can find another—”
“No,” Kurt interrupted, shaking his head firmly. “I’m going to see both of you safely home—you and your cat. I promised Carmela.”
Blaine’s mouth quirked. “You’re on a first-name basis with my mom?”
Kurt crossed his legs. “We were oddly united by our shared sense of crazed worry over not knowing where you were,” he said dryly, and Blaine dropped his head, his cheeks faintly pink.
Rags finished her food, then walked towards Kurt. She regarded him solemnly with a very serious, very tiny face, and then meowed loudly at him.
“I’m not feeding you,” Kurt said peevishly.
Blaine snorted. “You’re apparently on a first-name basis with my cat as well. Good to know.”
Blaine collected bedding, linens, and towels, and quickly made up one of the stripped mattresses in the motel room next to his own before he excused himself. Kurt got ready for bed, slow-moving with his head full of… so many things, feeling oddly heavy and light at the same time, exhausted and restless, grappling with the need to go forward, the need to go back. He wasn’t quite sure what impulse drove him back into his peacoat and boots (really quite the signature look with his pajama bottoms and thermal shirt), but he obeyed it.
Blaine was out there, standing on the sand between two dunes, looking over the last of the land at the black, crashing ocean. Kurt shivered and huddled deeper into his coat, breathing icy-damp air heavy with the smell of seaweed and driftwood, salt and slight decay. He hesitated only for a moment before he made his way over.
A sliver of moon had come out from behind the clouds. It gave the sand underfoot a faint, pitted glow, and Blaine looked otherworldly, more than human and yet exactly human, a beautiful, wounded, flawed being who might easily have been part of the night itself. “It’s like the end of the world out here,” Blaine said softly, barely audible over the constant, echoing roar of the waves. “When I left, I just wanted to drive until the land ran out. I didn’t care where, just… to the end. This is the end.”
He turned towards Kurt. A sudden, subtle movement at his chest—Rags stuck her head out of the open V of Blaine’s coat, blinked sleepily at Kurt, then ducked back out of sight, her curiosity apparently satisfied. “Kurt. I… I really am. So. Sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“I know.” Kurt held his gaze, both of them swaying slightly in the fierce wind. He could feel every inch of the distance between them, everything that linked them to each other, everything that held them apart. “I know, Blaine.”
He turned to look out at the ocean, and let his eyes water from the wind and the salt and the unconquerable space. “It’s at least sixteen hours from here to Lima. More with holiday traffic. We should try to start early.”
Blaine was up long before Kurt was, tying up loose ends, but it was still midmorning by the time they got on the road. Kurt stopped where Blaine told him to for an extra-shot mocha and a medium drip, but despite that Blaine couldn’t seem to stop yawning.
“Sorry,” Blaine said, shaking himself a little in the passenger seat. Rags mumbled balefully from his lap, curled herself in the other direction, and went back to sleep. “I haven’t been sleeping much lately.”
“Take a nap, if you can—I’ll wake you up when it’s your turn. Or when your cat starts looking for a good spot to pee in.”
With Blaine asleep, there was just the road. And his brain. And tiredness wasn’t a problem, loneliness wasn’t a problem—the problem was Blaine, right there, sleeping next to him, looking so young and vulnerable and still faintly haunted, his hands curled protectively around the cat on his lap. It was hard to resist the lure of fantasy—he and Blaine had driven all over Lima together, of course, but they’d never done a long road-trip, and it was all too easy to imagine the two of them (and their cat, he supposed) going off together for a weekend getaway—something where they would indulge in romantic walks and romantic dinners and local color and way too much chocolate, where they would make sure to get stupid souvenir shirts and crappy coffee mugs and badly-taken cameraphone pictures of the two of them laughing so they would always remember, where there would be stolen kisses in public and lazy, marathon morning sex in private—it was all too easy to imagine.
Easy. But not smart. Kurt swirled the last third of his mocha vigorously, chugged it, put the empty cup back into the holder, and stared resolutely at the road, the whole road, and nothing but the road.
Rags woke up before Blaine did. She uncurled herself from her nestled spot on Blaine’s lap, stretched, arching and yawning, and then sat back down, staring at Kurt with her earnest, wide-eyed look. She meowed softly, and Kurt signaled a lane change, heading towards the rest stop at the next exit. “Bathroom, Your Ladyship?” he asked quietly.
“That’s exactly what she said,” Blaine mumbled, stretching and scratching his chin. “Thanks.”
Blaine offered to drive, but Kurt demurred, and the day wore away while they drove through slices of New Hampshire and Massachusetts and Connecticut and New York State, and on into Pennsylvania before Blaine came back from taking Rags to the rest stop bushes with his hand extended. “Enough, Kurt—let me take a turn.”
That would leave him with too much time to think, too much time and not enough claims on his attention, but the traffic had thickened and the pace was slow, and after staring at him speculatively Rags made a tentative foray onto his lap, cautious and careful with her little face somehow expressing all the solemnity of her existence, and there was a tentative ear-scratch, followed by a chin scratch, and before he knew it she was a curled-up ball of radiating warmth on his lap, and five incredulous minutes later, he was sound asleep.
Heavy. Drifting. Warm. The road spooling on, west and west and west, into the sunset and into the night—only that wasn’t quite right because there were bright lights, harsh and irritating even through his eyelids until he turned his head—and he blinked his eyes and Blaine was there, right there, bending over him and so close—and he almost did it, almost lifted his arms to sinuously wind around Blaine’s neck and pull him the rest of the way in, craving the remembered taste of Blaine’s mouth—
“Sorry,” Blaine said. “I left my wallet over here when you were driving, and we’re almost out of gas so I had to stop, I have to—aha, here it is—” and Blaine got his wallet from under Kurt’s feet and pulled away—and Kurt didn’t kiss him. He closed his eyes, listened to the sound of Blaine whistling softly while filling the tank, then unbuckled his seatbelt with barely-restrained ferocity and got out of the car.
“Going to the bathroom,” he said curtly, and saw Blaine’s brows dip. “When I get back, I’ll drive.”
“Okay,” Blaine said quietly, and when Kurt got back from the bathroom Blaine was in the passenger seat and was silent, and the tank was full, and all of that was good, so Kurt put the car in gear, and drove on.
They made it as far as DuBois, Pennsylvania before they had to quit. Kurt was woozy and road-dazed, and it was getting harder to shut Blaine down every time he offered to drive.
In a roadside diner, over something that technically probably counted as dinner, Blaine sighed. “Kurt. What’s wrong?”
None of your business was the first, snippy answer that rose to his lips—but that was petty, and stupid, and even if petty and stupid seemed pretty appealing right now, that wasn’t how—or who—he wanted to be. “Just tired. I… I’ve done a lot of driving over the past two days.” And because he needed to forestall yet another offer from Blaine to drive, he put down his fork and leaned across the table. “We’re going to have to stop soon and do the rest tomorrow, which means we need to strategize—I don’t think we’re going to find anywhere with the pets policy of the Seagrass Motor Court.”
“I’m used to smuggling her around,” Blaine said, and proved it by nonchalantly putting a crumb of cheese inside his coat, where it promptly disappeared. “I think we should be fine.”
But they hadn’t counted on the number of holiday travelers on the road, and the relative paucity of places without the ‘NO’ lit up before ‘Vacancy’ on their sign. They spent an hour looking, and were lucky to get the last two rooms at the Dusty Rose Motel, a nightmare rattletrap construction of clashing shades of pink with a proprietor dressed to match, an elderly woman who sat outside her office in a fuchsia rocker, from whence she kept a suspicious and disapproving eye on every single one of her guests, coming or going.
Even then it probably would have been fine, only apparently Rags thought it was one of those breaks where she got to go take care of her business—which led to Blaine twisting around and clutching his coat and making some shocked, high-pitched nonverbal noises once he stepped out of the car. “Um—he’s fine, he just… has a condition,” Kurt said quickly to the scowling proprietor, taking Blaine by the elbow and steering him towards Room 5, trying the wrong key of the two she gave him, and then finally working the door open. “He’ll be—he just needs his pills.” He shoved Blaine ahead of him, stumbled into the room, and slammed the door just before an outraged cat vaulted out of Blaine’s coat with a very put-upon meow, landed on the bed, and then sat down, lifted a leg and started licking herself.
Kurt made it through three hitching breaths before he burst out laughing. “That wasn’t funny,” Blaine hissed, sounding scandalized, and oh, God, that only made him laugh harder, leaning against the door and clutching his stomach, helplessly watching Blaine get angrier and angrier before the corner of his mouth twitched, then again, and then they were both laughing like crazy, laughing and leaning against each other and every time Kurt looked over at Rags doing her superior-aloof butt-licking routine he just snorted—until Blaine put a hand over his mouth. Kurt pried it away, knocked it away and then grabbed Blaine by the face and kissed him, hard.
Nobody was laughing. Kurt pulled back fast, only not fast enough, not with his heart doing triple-time in his chest and his mouth flooding wet and a rush of shocked, low panic in the pit of his stomach.
Blaine looked like he’d been slapped. “Kurt…”
“I… sorry, Blaine.” He found the door blindly, groping, went out into the dark and ran the five steps to his own room and used the key and went through the door and locked it behind him and then stood with his back pressed against it, his palms pressed against it, breathing so fast he was dizzy.
A hot shower helped, and the Dusty Rose turned out to have the world’s most hideous orchid-colored bathroom and the world’s most indifferent water pressure—but at least it was hot. He stayed under for as long as he could, swaying, and behind his closed eyes there was the road, unspooling, and taillights ahead, the broken yellow line and the sunset sky and lips, shocked open, and—no. He was better off with the road, mile after mile after mile after mile of it.
He dried off slowly, his head hanging down and his wet hair in his face, moving as if in a stupor. He pulled his pajamas on while sitting on the edge of the ridiculously frilly dusty rose bedspread, waiting for the tumult in his head and the buzz in his bones to die down, waiting for the hammer to fall that would bludgeon him into sleep.
A soft knock at the door pulled him upright, blinking, and got him onto his feet. He opened the door and Blaine was there, his eyes enormous and luminous and scared, his mouth trembling just a bit. His hands were open, then closed, then open again—but stuck, obviously stuck where they were, hanging by his sides.
There were things to say. Rational things to say. Things that were important—vital—to say; things that needed to be said.
Kurt didn’t say them. He reached out instead, one hand twisted into Blaine’s smooth shirtfront, and yanked him into the room.
Kissing like drowning, and no words, and that hideous outrage of a bedspread flung across the room, cheap, scratchy sheets against his back. Blaine’s hands were on him, all over him, shaking to touch him, like he might burn.
He was hard, and he usually fought the immediacy of that but this time he didn’t, taking Blaine’s head in his hands and kissing him wetly, deeply, then pushing him downwards. He barely waited for Blaine to yank his pants and boxer-briefs to his knees before he thrust up, aiming for Blaine’s mouth, for the back of his throat, none of his usual moans but just—panting, rapid and light and breathy.
Blaine moaned instead, sucking and swallowing him with his fever-hot mouth, choking and pushing past choking—and that was some of what hadn’t been said, contrition and penance and the craving for redemption, and that soured in his blood but all it made him do was slow down, grip the hair at the back of Blaine’s head tight in his fist while everything in him went cool, measured, patient, and he worked himself in Blaine’s mouth like he’d never really done before, all the way in and all the way out, giving nothing, focused only on what felt good.
Blaine was shaking, he was not. He was smooth and light and his hips twisted mechanically, an oiled swivel, like a machine, and when his head wanted to press back hard into the pillows he let it, and when his balls throbbed and ached and urged him to go faster he did, and Blaine had one hand pressed against the curve of his waist and the other splayed across the tender inside of his spread thigh—just a brush of thumb in the crease there and Kurt came, bucking a little, hammering into Blaine’s mouth and riding it, his locked muscles glowing against his bones while his heart thundered.
When he came back to himself Blaine was kissing him, salt-bitter and wet and gentle, and he groped for Blaine’s crotch and found him spent, soft heat and spreading dampness on his jeans. It was a knell of disappointment, and when Blaine fell away from him and lay next to him on the bed, face-up and panting, there seemed to be nothing to say.
A muted, mournful yowl floated through the thin wall. Blaine sighed. “I’ve got to get back to her.”
Kurt blinked. “Okay.”
Blaine sat up slowly, and Kurt had him in profile, the dark fan of his lashes and the curve of his cheek, the lush plumpness of his lips—exquisite, and more out of reach than ever, and for a moment all Kurt wanted to do was go back, go back in time to when it was safe for him to look and be moved by looking, back to when it was safe to let himself be broken open by the beauty of Blaine’s face.
Blaine flipped off the lights before he pulled the door closed. Kurt put his arm over his eyes, listened to Blaine’s retreating footsteps, and finally, quietly, let himself cry.
In the morning, Blaine didn’t quite meet his eyes. “Do you want me to drive?”
“No,” Kurt said, and that was the sum total of conversation, except for discussions of when to stop for bathroom breaks. And that was fine, just fine, and Kurt felt just fine about it until he finally made the turn onto Blaine’s street, with Blaine’s house three blocks away, and he heard Blaine’s breathing ratchet up. And up.
He pulled over to the curb. “Blaine.”
“It’s okay,” Blaine said, sounding like it was very much not okay, and Kurt didn’t even realize he had reached out until Blaine recoiled from him, pressing himself against the passenger-side door. “Don’t—please don’t touch me. Please don’t.”
Kurt put his hands on the wheel, stared out the windshield, and waited for the sharp spike of pain in his heart to go away. It didn’t.
“Okay,” Blaine said finally, his voice husky. He was holding Rags against his chest like a talisman. “Ready when you are. Sorry.”
It was another one of those moments—there were things that needed to be said, things that needed to be talked about—but talking about them would mean talking about all of it, all of everything they very carefully hadn’t talked about, and that… no.
So Kurt drove on.
Carmela was outside when they pulled into the driveway, standing in a sea of grocery bags on the front stoop, digging through her purse. She knocked over some of the bags and hurdled the rest heading for them while Blaine scrambled out of the car, and when Kurt saw them meet halfway he felt something tense and knotted in his stomach smooth itself out.
He got out the car and offloaded Blaine’s few items of luggage—a duffel bag and a backpack—and he was about to get back behind the wheel when suddenly Carmela was right there, tear-stained and flushed with her hair awry, miles away from the cool, reserved woman he remembered, tugging his head down and kissing him on the forehead. “Thank you so much,” she said, already crying again, her hands smooth and cool on his hot cheeks. “Thank you for bringing him home.”
She wrapped him up tight and he hugged her back, and Blaine was staring at them—staring at Kurt, a searing moment of connection, the first time today they were eye-to-eye. Kurt’s heart careened in his chest and he opened his mouth—to say what? What could he possibly say right here and right now?
“You’re welcome,” was what came out, and Carmela gave him one last squeeze, and let him go.
Carole hugged him fiercely and then sent him to the market, and the rest of the day passed in a haze of measuring and tasting and judging and baking and poring over Epicurious online and having arguments about beets, and a total of three more emergency trips to the market and saying hi to his dad and getting flour all over his dad when he hugged him, chopping and grating and failed experiments and successful experiments and a deep discussion of deep-dish pies, and he really thought he was doing okay until Carole took the cup of coffee he’d made for her out of his hand, and stopped him with a warm touch on his shoulder.
“What’s wrong, honey?” She kept her voice low, far too quiet to be heard over the enthusiastic appreciation of punkin chunkin going on in the living room. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“I—” her calmness, her kindness was almost enough to undo him, and his throat worked a little before he swallowed, hard. “I… don’t think so. Not yet. But don’t worry, okay?” he leaned in and kissed her cheek. “I’ll be fine. Really.”
He was determined not to be lying about that.
He was tired. So tired. His vision was grainy and everything in his head seemed to be happening in slow motion—but the cooking was done for the day, and he was clean and warm and tucked between fresh sheets in his own bed, with gentle rain falling against the window to lull him to sleep—unsuccessfully, which seemed ridiculous and also cruelly unfair, to be so tired he felt vaguely sick, and not be able to—
The sudden, violent patter against his window was either hail, or rocks. He felt his joints creak getting out of bed, then opened the window and looked down. Blaine was there—completely drenched, huddled in a slick, black coat and staring up at him, his wet face a pale blur in the night—and already climbing. Kurt got a spare towel, then two, and spread one on the floor at the base of his window—and that was all he had time for because Blaine was there, climbing in quietly and carefully, taking the towel and scrubbing himself with it, then opening his coat, bringing out a perfectly dry but extremely rumpled cat.
“I couldn’t… I’m sorry, she would have raised the house, if I’d left her—”
“Blaine.” He took the towel out of Blaine’s hands and tossed it, took Rags and set her gently down on the floor, then put both hands on Blaine’s shoulders. “Are you ever, ever going to cheat on me again?”
Blaine’s eyes were already full, bloodshot and brimming. “I… never. No. God, no.”
His fingers sank in. “Say it again.”
“No.” A tear rolled down Blaine’s cheek. “Never.”
“Okay,” Kurt said, and believed him, and then he was crying himself. “Okay, Blaine. Okay.”
“I love you,” like something breaking, Blaine was trembling, holding him close—clinging to him, crying quietly and holding on like he couldn’t let go. “I love you so much, Kurt.”
Blaine said it to his lips, and Kurt opened his mouth and breathed it in and it zigzagged through him like fire, and he couldn’t stop himself from moaning just a little—quietly, because the whole house was asleep except for them, and he was dizzy and could feel his heartbeat in his fingertips and his lips were tingling, and it was like the words brought to life everything that they touched.
Blaine laid him down slowly, gently, and everything was thick and heady between them, humid, precious and irreplaceable and fragile—hushed, Blaine’s hands on him reverent and patient, holding his face and kissing him, just kissing him over and over, and it was enough, it was perfect and it was enough, and then it wasn’t. He yanked on Blaine’s sweater, and Blaine rose up on his knees and stripped off his coat, sweater, shirt and undershirt, and Kurt was so hot, hot and flushed and unable to stop touching, stroking shoulders to chest to ribs to waist and down to tug at the low-slung jeans around Blaine’s hips, then cupping the slight flare out from the indention of his waist and oh, God he was so hard, aching all over. “I want you to fuck me, Blaine.”
“I missed you so much,” Blaine said, like that was an answer, then, “Can you stay quiet?” and he wasn’t sure Blaine was tracking but then Blaine stripped him out of his pants in one smooth, slow pull, stripped him naked from the waist down and pushed his knees up and out, sinking down and licking his ass with slow, tender deliberation. Kurt bit the back of his wrist to keep silent, rolling and languidly thrashing as Blaine’s tongue teased and tasted him, circling and flickering and making his hips jerk sharply, then relax, over and over until he felt like he was balanced on a knife edge, his cock throbbing rhythmically and his hole twitching, gasping as quietly as he could and fighting not to come.
Blaine took his time, and Kurt was sweating and twisting on the sheets, working himself on Blaine’s tongue in a way that was—almost—enough but not quite. Exquisite torture, his nipples were hard, thorny-tender points and his balls were drawn up tight and his left calf was cramping up but the pain just made everything better and he was—so far gone—
“Shh,” Blaine husked to him, rising up to kiss him quiet, kissing him and shimmying out of his own pants, then patiently working Kurt out of his nightshirt—and oh, naked, Kurt’s eyes were wet again, they were naked and clinging to each other and Blaine’s face was right there, eyes with his, breath with his, his face an open wound of love. “God. Kurt.”
Condom and lube from underneath the issues of Vogue in his bedside table drawer, and his hands were shaking so badly that he handed everything to Blaine—only his hands were worse, so the two of them tried to manage it together, both of them slippery and shaking and he was half-sitting up until he and Blaine each slid a finger inside him and then he flopped back bonelessly, spreading his thighs and working his hips and Blaine kissed his open mouth before he could groan, swallowed it and took it and pulled out to squeeze his spread thighs and nudge—heat—pressure—and then slid inside him just the tiniest bit.
Things slowed down, everything slowed down, because Blaine was in him, working deeper in gradual increments, rocking into him a half-inch at a time until he had it all, that hot-rush-full-stretch feeling that made Kurt’s pores open and his heart pound, helpless heat pooling low in his belly, in his balls, surrendered to something so much larger than himself. Blaine was shaking and Kurt held him, slid one calf slowly up the back of Blaine’s leg, slid one hand up Blaine’s neck and into silky-wet hair, his breath catching, his eyes fluttering, opening. “Ohh. Fuck me.”
Just a whisper, and Blaine’s face looked pained, agonized, working in him slowly, and they couldn’t be loud or fast, and it was so good Kurt’s teeth ached, slowness and sex and Blaine around and inside him, making him fall apart, one patient minute after another.
He closed his eyes and drifted with it, endless kisses so that neither one of them made too much noise, shared breath and panting and soft, throaty, helpless sounds that he couldn’t stop—but it wasn’t him, it was Blaine, so more kissing and tight flex and flutter of muscle and oh ohh oh God he couldn’t kiss anymore, had to push his head back hard into the pillows and arch his spine and bite his lip because he couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t not-come any longer—
“Fuck,” Blaine sobbed softly against his neck, then just one hard thrust—a sparkling sudden shock to Kurt’s nerves that made him come immediately, shooting wet all over both of them while Blaine came in him, muffling his groan in Kurt’s pillow and grinding deep inside him until they both collapsed.
More kissing in the aftermath, gentle and indulgent, deeply affecting, comforting, close. As close as they could be.
“Love you, Kurt.”
Kurt opened his eyes. “I love you too, Blaine.”
Rags suddenly appeared on the pillow next to them, and meowed softly. Kurt smiled and tried to give her an ear-scratch, but his fingers didn’t work quite right.
Blaine pulled slowly out of his body and laid down next to him, disposing of the condom before snuggling close. Kurt let his eyes drift closed again, found Blaine’s lips by feel and kissed him, then let his muscles go lax.
“I shouldn’t fall asleep here,” Blaine said thickly.
Kurt made a faint noise of assent. “No. Shouldn’t. Scandalous,” he agreed, then Rags came over and laid down in the dip between their bodies, turning around several times before curling up into a circular, purring ball. “Rags, don’t fall asleep.”
It was the last thing he remembered before darkness claimed him.
There was a very earnest-looking cat staring into his face. Which he could clearly see. Because the sun was up on Thanksgiving day, and he could hear what sounded like the whole household up and active downstairs, and when he turned his head Blaine was asleep on the pillow next to him, gorgeous and undone and open-mouthed and messy and so beautiful-sexy-loved that Kurt had to take one personal and private moment for gratitude—for the blessings that were his.
“Oh my God I fell asleep,” Blaine mumbled, flailing lightly, then his eyes came open wide, and he turned towards Kurt. “Oh my God—that happened.”
Kurt swallowed. “It did.”
“It did…” Blaine bit his lip, eyes wide and roaming over his face like they couldn’t get enough of him. “It really did.” Blaine kissed him, no regard for morning breath or anything else, kissed him hard and deep until Rags meowed in their ears.
“She probably has to go to the bathroom; I didn’t mean to stay,” Blaine said, sitting up, then turned back to look at Kurt over his shoulder—and oh dear God, he was unfairly, ridiculously handsome in the morning. “Think I can sneak out?”
“I think you shouldn’t,” Kurt said, tracing two fingers down Blaine’s spine. “I think I’m an adult, and I should be able to have my boyfriend stay with me when I come home for a visit.”
“Boyfriend,” Blaine said with apparent solemn bliss, and kissed him again.
“Yes. And my boyfriend’s cat.”
Blaine kissed him one more time. “Say it again.”
Kurt grinned and rolled his eyes. “I think my boyfriend and his cat should come downstairs with me and join my family for our traditional Thanksgiving breakfast—I’m making pumpkin-pecan pancakes.”
Blaine flopped back on the bed, sighing languidly. “That is altogether the sexiest thing you’ve ever said.”
Kurt went from grinning to giggling. He couldn’t help it. “You are so weird, Blaine.”
Blaine’s eyes were huge. Bright. Happy. “Well, I’m desperately in love with you, so I kind of hoped you’d let that slide.”
Kurt kissed him, and Rags stuck her face between them and yelled, and Carole knocked briskly on Kurt’s door before stopping abruptly. “…Kurt?”
“Just a minute—be right there,” he said, scrambling for his pajamas, waving Blaine towards his scattered clothes, and scooping Rags up so as to make sure Carole received the full force effect of his declaration of adult autonomy. He brushed a hand through his rat’s nest of hair, smoothed a cowlick on Rags’ stripy head, and grabbed Blaine by the sweater front and hauled him in for a quick kiss. “Happy Thanksgiving, Blaine.”
“Happy Thanksgiving, Kurt.”
Kurt opened the door.
Author’s Endnotes: The title is from Twelfth Night, of course. My idea for a fixit-fic got all smushed together with what would have been this year’s Thanksgiving story—and what I finally ended up with is this strange, fragile, scattered tale about growing up, and what happens when adult complexities reshape the simpler topography of first love. Plus Blaine with a kitten (I had a very specific kitten in mind and was going to go out and hunt down photo references, but then the lovely Lizzy reblogged this tiny wonder, and I was spared the labor—that’s Rags, right there, absolutely). Oh, and: pancake recipe is here, and they are so good…
I always enjoy the work of writing, and I often have tremendous fun (or tremendous frustration, or both) in the act of creation, but I don’t always end up with a finished product that I enjoy reading and losing myself in—but this is one of those stories where I did enjoy reading it, very much. I hope you do too.
Thanks to all of you for reading and bearing with me; your kindness and encouragement have kept me going through some steep challenges, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your thoughtful readership and generous support.
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