When Blaine turned fourteen, his father opened him a bank account. For the next eleven months, his allowance, instead of coming in crisp new bills every Monday morning, was simply deposited into the account on the first one every month. His father handed him a debit card and told him to use it however he wanted.
“Your school clothes come out of that,” Anthony Anderson reminded him. “If you spend it all, nobody’s going to come and bail you out.”
His mother had anyway, that July, when he went way over-budget on the new guitar he wanted and couldn’t afford a present for his grandmother’s birthday. When his dad found out, he charged ten percent interest on the loan and took it out of the next three months’ allowance in installments.
November was his first month of having full allowance privileges back. He spent more than he should have on clothes for the Sadie Hawkins dance. Especially considering they had to cut the shirt off of him in the hospital, and he was never going to wear those pants again.
He started up at Dalton in January, only there were no new clothes to buy, not with the uniform, only the usual personal expenditures on CDs and Starbucks. He logged on to check his bank account balance on the first Monday of the month, no longer too clumsy using the mouse left-handed. His eyes went wide at all the zeros.
His mother was still in DC, but his dad hadn’t left for Seattle just yet; Blaine found him in the living room, feet up on the ottoman, reading glasses on and perusing the Wall Street Journal like it was a cheap dime store paperback thriller. He glanced up as Blaine thundered down the stairs.
“It’s not an obstacle course,” he said mildly.
“Dad, my allowance...” Blaine said, not really sure how to go on.
“You’re fifteen now, Blaine, it’s time you learned to handle your own personal finances. That should cover your full tuition for the semester, with enough left over to last you until June. There’s a list of dates you need to watch out for in your student handbook.” He flipped a page of his newspaper. “You’ll want to keep an eye on those, you won’t like the late fees. It’ll be good for you. You wanted more responsibility this year, right? New Year’s resolution?”
“Yeah,” said Blaine, still a little stunned. Sure, his dad had trusted him to remember to buy notebooks and new jeans, but this was way bigger than that. “Thanks, Dad.”
Looking back, his parents had pretty much brought it on themselves.
Blaine is either the worst teenage runaway in history, or the best. He’s definitely not starving out on the streets, but he’s not living it up in fine Disney movie Plaza Hotel-style luxury, either. He takes the subway half an hour to school every morning. He still goes to private school, even.
He comes home every night to his live-in college boyfriend and their quirky diva of a roommate, which makes it sound more like something out of a cable network sitcom, every night as his classmates split off and go home to their parents. Blaine hasn’t seen his parents in two months. He’s pretty sure they both still think he lives in Ohio.
He’s not sure if it’s a mark for the ‘best’ or ‘worst runaway’ prize, that only two people in all of Ohio even know he’s gone.
It was Kurt’s idea. He wouldn’t admit it, not really, but there it was.
They’d managed to put off thinking about it all the way until the first of April, when half of Kurt’s paperwork was due. NYU apparently wanted a towering mountain of paperwork. Blaine wasn’t looking forward to filling his own applications out. Next year.
It was Sunday afternoon; they’d spent most of it up in Kurt’s bedroom, doing homework, curling ankles around each other and dangling the fingers of their free hands to touch a knee or the small of a back or brush pinkies together. The door had been closed since Finn’s Sunday Drumming Hour, part of an elaborate series of negotiations that had Burt and Carole finding reasons to go out most Sunday afternoons and meant nobody really cared whose bedroom doors were open or closed when. The light was fading, long-angled streaks of gold through Kurt’s south-facing windows, brushing glimmer through the shadows that lengthened every ten minutes they forwent a lamp.
The paper was mostly shoved off the bed, math worksheets shoved haphazardly under a history book, to make room for some truly epic cuddling. Kurt’s lap was warm. His chest was warm, under the slick fabric of his shirt, the thinnest of layers between his skin and Blaine’s cheek, resting close enough to feel Kurt’s heartbeat rather than just hear it.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do without you next year,” Blaine admitted, heavily and finally, and,
“You’ll be fine,” said Kurt, even though his left hand tightened on Blaine’s shoulder. “You and Artie and Tina will keep Mr. Schuester humble.”
“Yeah,” sighed Blaine. His left hand was trapped somewhere under Kurt’s shoulders, pressed flat against the bed. If he moved two inches to the left and down a little, all he’d have to do is thrust against Kurt’s thigh, positioned so close to perfectly, and the calm quiet mood would evaporate in the smoke of a smoldering fire. It would be hot and messy and so very good, and Kurt would probably let him, even if half of his family was downstairs, but...they’d lose this. The warm close stillness. Blaine wiggled his arm a little tighter around Kurt, and left his hips where they were.
“My mom asked if I wanted to transfer back to Dalton next year,” he said to Kurt’s shoulder. It was far easier than saying it to his face.
“Do you?” Kurt asked. Blaine sighed again.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Dalton was...” Safe. Quiet. Colorless. Precise. Good for him, at the time. “Almost all of my friends were upper-classmen, they’re graduating now if they haven’t already. The Warblers mostly won’t even know me any more.”
“There’s more to Dalton than just the Warblers,” Kurt pointed out.
“Not really.” The academics, yes, but Blaine was a conscientious student and let’s face it, a 5 on the AP test was a 5 anywhere. The safety. He’d missed that, this year. McKinley was a cyclone of chaos, sweeping everything up in its path, realer and more alive than anything Blaine could ever remember, and also completely terrifying and exhausting and potentially deadly. He didn’t even know how Kurt survived there for so long alone.
“I don’t want to do this without you,” Blaine admitted, and tried to burrow in closer to Kurt’s chest. It didn’t really work. “I don’t know how anybody gets through high school without” a boyfriend? A companion? A port in the storm? “An anchor.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to get through moving to New York without you, either,” said Kurt. “I wish I could just take you with me.”
Blaine smiled against the fabric of Kurt’s shirt. “I bet my parents wouldn’t even notice.”
“Then you should definitely do it then. Run away with me, Blaine Ex-Warbler?”
“Any time you want,” Blaine promised. And meant it.
It was easy. It shouldn’t have been easy. No seventeen-year-old should have been able to do this, because this is crazy and irresponsible and the kind of thing that parents are supposed to prevent. If it hadn’t been easy...if it hadn’t been easy, then Blaine wouldn’t have had to in the first place.
Blaine’s parents each have a personal assistant. His dad’s is named Lauren. She graduated top of her class from some not-quite-famous-enough business school in Chicago a few years ago, and his dad took her on as a charity project. His mom’s, Penny, is stocky and wire-haired, stricter with a schedule than a German train station, of some indeterminable age between forty and seventy, and completely terrifying.
Blaine hasn’t talked to either of them too much. Their main function, as far as he can tell, is to make sure that his parents are never in the same state for more than four hours at a time without Anthony and Lea Anderson ever having to speak to each other to coordinate it. His mother makes her circuit, Atlanta to DC to Chicago, talking about immigration reform and social welfare and heavy books about the culture war that Blaine’s never managed to understand. His dad goes Houston to Portland to LA, buying and selling commodities like oil and lumber and movie stars in slick business deals that Blaine never wants to understand. They share New York, which means that neither one goes there any more often than they absolutely have to. Just like Ohio.
They aren’t divorced. Divorce is messy. It would mean months of his dad’s business partners giving him sympathetic slaps on the back and diverting him away from all the most major projects. It would make his mom the talk of all her circles, how her commitment to work destroyed her family, little whispers not quite quiet enough behind her back. It would mean court cases, splitting up all their possessions one by one instead of this well-oiled time share.
The last time Blaine’s entire family sat in the same room together, it was three days after the Sadie Hawkins dance, when Mom cut her book tour short to fly home and tie his shoes without giving a fuck where her husband was. They’re not bad parents. Not really. They both make it a point to talk to Blaine at least twice a week on the phone, no matter which state or country they’re in.
They trust him. Yeah, maybe there are cracks in the parental system, but Blaine is the one deliberately navigating his way through them.
He decided to give this a try, this crazy plan that’s somehow actually working, a week or so before the start of May. That was the day he realized he’d gone three full weeks without seeing either one of his parents, before Santana’s mom, Kurt’s dad, and Jeff’s parents all realized around the same time that Blaine had been crashing on their couch maybe a little too much lately. Mr. Hummel sent him home the next day, a Saturday morning; he spent the rest of the weekend doing homework by himself before he finally saw his mother for dinner Monday night.
It was just Blaine’s family, the way it’s been for years, since he started high school and the nanny went away. He just couldn’t shake the little voice in the back of his head, the one that said that there shouldn’t be cracks this navigable, that Burt Hummel would notice if he went without seeing Kurt, or even Finn, for so much as one day. That was when he swallowed his guilt and went to talk to his boyfriend.
He found Kurt in the choir room with Rachel, practicing scales with the fervor of true artists. Blaine stood in the doorway for a minute, just to smile. Then he knocked twice on the door jamb to interrupt.
“Hey,” he said, a little hesitantly, as both heads turned to look at him. “I need you guys’ help on something.”
“Anything, Blaine, you know that,” Kurt said instantly. Blaine swallowed.
“I want to move to New York with you in the fall,” he said. “I don’t want to be the only Warbler left alone in Lima, Ohio. I can finish out my last year of high school there, and apply to colleges right in the area.”
Kurt was already frowning; Rachel just looked confused. “What did your parents say about that?” Kurt asked. Blaine felt his face smile, wry irony.
“They aren’t going to know,” he said.
“Blaine, I think your parents are going to notice if you just move to another state without notifying them,” said Rachel.
“No,” said Blaine. “I’m pretty sure they aren’t.”
The tiny apartment on the lower East side is only a shoebox if you’re looking at very small children’s shoes. Blaine helped pick it out, in June, when he told his mother he was going with Kurt and his dad to look at schools in New York. She’d looked surprised for a moment, then mumbled something about the early bird and booked the tickets herself.
He hadn’t even lied. Kurt and Rachel took their fathers on tours of their respective campuses. Blaine, after half an hour trying to make sense of a New York subway map, sat through three prospective student interviews at private high schools whose reputations would make Dalton shrink back in shame and misery. Nobody told Burt or Mr. Berry exactly where he was slipping off to; it was probably for the best.
Kurt had said, when they sat down to plan this, “if you’re running away to New York you are not going to any public school in the kind of neighborhoods where we’re going to afford to live. At least at McKinley nobody ever gets critically wounded over drugs.”
“I’m actually pretty sure New York has some really good public schools in the system--” Blaine started, but Kurt was already waving a hand.
“Not if you haven’t been training to get into them since kindergarten,” Kurt declared, and then moved the plate of half-eaten biscotti to make room for a stack of printouts. “All right. Here are your options.”
Each interview went better than the last, as his lies got smoother and cleaner. Blaine’s always been good at charming people. The third school--the one he goes to now, the one that’s 45 minutes away on the subway at rush hour--has a fantastic theater program. Kurt and Rachel have both promised to come to his first performance. Of course, it’s always been understood that Blaine will be sitting front row center for each and every one of either of theirs.
Blaine has a system for calling his parents: at 4:30 in the afternoon, whichever one of them is supposed to be on a business trip first, and only every couple of days. He’s sleeping over at Kurt’s again tonight, to work on a big project for History. It’s easy. It’s not even a lie. Nobody asks any questions.
He hangs up the phone and tucks it away into his pocket, then stares at his history book. Kurt, humming something out of Next to Normal, taps Blaine’s ankle with the toe of one boot as he maneuvers around the tiny kitchen table that takes up most of their even tinier kitchen, and a good chunk of their entryway if they ever want it to fold it out to seat more than two, to find the bottle of cooking wine they bought with Santana’s fake ID last time she visited.
“What time did Rachel say she’d be home?” Blaine asks. The Goths remained in Dacia until 376, when one of their leaders, Fritigern, appealed to the Roman emperor Valens to be allowed to settle with his people on the south bank of the Danube. Here, they hoped to find refuge from the Huns. The kitchen smells like caramelizing onions and garlic. Blaine’s stomach is going to start growling any minute now.
“Any time after 5:30, I thought? Dinner isn’t going to be ready until a quarter to six anyway, don’t you start,” scolds Kurt.
“I’m just asking!” Blaine says, holding up his hands. “What do you know about Visigoths?”
“Nothing I didn’t learn at Dalton and immediately forget when I transferred back to McKinley,” says Kurt. Then he stops speaking for a moment to fill a pot with water. The pipes under the kitchen sink clang a little. It’s hard to be heard over the noise. “I still don’t understand why you’re in that class anyway, isn’t senior year supposed to be US history?”
“I need to make up some credits to compensate for my junior year transcript,” says Blaine. He glances up; Kurt’s face is turned towards the cabinets, but Blaine catches the wince in his shoulders.
“It’s not your fault,” he says, for probably the six hundreth time.
This is the fourth school he’s been to in four years. Blaine doesn’t know about his classmates, but he is so ready to be done with high school by now.
Finn is the last of the New Directions--the Old Directions, Puck called them after graduation, when Blaine and Artie and Tina and the new kids all lined up to sing them goodbye--to find out about Blaine. It takes him until the second week of October.
Fall break day and Finn’s no-class-Fridays schedule combine to give him a four and a half day weekend. Somehow, this and his frequent weekend trips home to make Carole do his laundry combine in the form of Burt tossing him a road atlas and telling him to, “Drive up to New York for a couple of days and see how your brother’s doing, okay?”
Blaine blames Kurt and Rachel. Kurt, because unlike Finn or Rachel he’s a fantastic liar, unless his father is involved. He’s been terse enough on the phone these past two months that Burt has plenty of reason to send someone to make sure that Kurt’s actually just as fine as he says he is. Rachel, because she and Finn are the most awkward Facebook friends and friendly exes ever, and both of them have been tentatively asking Kurt to find out whether the other one is dating yet without letting on why he wants to know since basically August. He doesn’t really blame Finn, who hasn’t actually been told of any reason why he shouldn’t just drive up to see his step-brother and his ex-girlfriend one Thursday evening, unannounced, because his cell phone is dead and he left his charger back in Dayton and really, wasn’t Burt going to call Kurt about all this anyway?
Hmm. On second thought, Blaine blames Finn a little too.
Kurt and Rachel both have late rehearsals on Thursday night, so Blaine’s home alone his math homework and the reheated lentil stew from yesterday. It’s almost like every other Thursday night alone in his life, except that he’d found homemade cookies on top of the toaster, labeled with his name in Rachel’s handwriting inside a post-it-note heart, and here, it’s worth waiting up past The Daily Show for something.
He doesn’t think anything of answering the intercom when the buzzer rings, and then it’s too late. Kurt would probably kill him for copying their across-the-hall neighbor’s thick Iranian accent and leaving Finn stranded on a New York City sidewalk until he or Rachel get home.
“Hold on, Finn, I’ll buzz you up,” Blaine sighs, and waits by the door for the thundering sneakers of his inevitable doom.
Nobody was really supposed to know about the plan at all, at first.
Unfortunately, Blaine’s never been able to lie to Santana for anything. It out to Quinn and Brittany and Puck before graduation even hit, and Kurt insisted on telling Mercedes after they all took the trip out to New York last summer. Artie and Tina had wanted to know whether or not they were going to be the only seniors in the club this year. Mr. Schuester, as far as Blaine’s aware, doesn’t have a clue. Neither do Kurt’s parents. That part’s important.
It’s one thing for a pack of eighteen-year-olds to go aiding and abetting one of their friends in this kind of juvenile delinquency, especially when it’s these eighteen-year-olds. Santana’s father is home about as often as Blaine’s dad, just in shorter spurts a little more frequently, with more liaisons he doesn’t bother to keep secret in between. She and Brittany have collectively slept with every guy to play a varsity sport at McKinley between 2008 and 2011. Lauren broke into the school and hacked confidential files just to help her run for prom queen; her dad is the one who advised her to do it. The members of New Directions have locked people into port-a-potties, thrown more slushies than the whole of ND has had to drink in four years, been slushied at least ten to twenty times more often than that, and not a parent or a faculty member ever even blinked over it. Rachel once sent her competition to a known crackhouse. Nobody ever stopped Puck from doing a thing, Kurt told Blaine, ages ago, until he drove a car through a plate glass window, and then tried to drag the ATM away with him. As far as getting away with things goes, between them they know every trick in the books.
The real adults would have to think about things like legal consequences, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and kidnapping charges, probably. Maybe Mr. Schuester wouldn’t do anything, but maybe he would. You could never really tell, with him. And Burt...
Someday, when Blaine flies someplace for Thanksgiving, it’s going to be the Hummel-Hudson household. Someday his kids are going to call Burt ‘Grandpa’. Blaine’s not actually sure they’re going to call his own father anything.
Burt would do the right thing, one hundred percent certainty, whatever the right thing was. It’s just that Blaine’s pretty sure ‘the right thing’, in this case, means a half-empty house with weekly grocery deliveries and the pizza place on speed dial, and the rest of his senior year stranded in the wasteland that is Ohio, all but alone.
The right thing isn’t always easy. Blaine’s okay with that, most of the time. But he’s gone to sleep every night for the past three months nestled back into the spoon of Kurt’s body, right hands resting along Blaine’s hip, fingers entwined, and he wakes up to an apartment full of vocal scales and snatches of song. Sometimes the right thing is just too hard.
That’s why Kurt and Rachel decided they were keeping things a secret from Finn for as long as possible. Rachel is a terrible liar, but she’s practiced enough at dramatic misdirection that nobody ever really manages to pin her down about anything anyway. Finn just plain can’t keep a secret if the fate of the world was at stake.
“So,” Finn says awkwardly. Blaine made him take his shoes off before he put his feet up on the coffee table. He’s eaten about half of Blaine’s Rachel-cookies. “I kinda thought you were back with the Warblers this year.”
“Yeah, that didn’t really work out,” says Blaine. He should really be working on his calculus right now. Or at least, some time tonight.
“Dude, E!” Finn orders the TV, completely ignoring the fact that the guy just got a $5,000 spin and probably doesn’t want to buy a vowel just now. “There’s always an E. Oh come on...” He takes another bite of cookie. “So you’re like, still going to McKinley, then? I thought Artie said--”
“No, I go to a different school now,” Blaine says. He wonders how long it’s going to take Finn to realize that at least half the men’s shoes left by the doorway are way too scuffed for Kurt to ever admit to owning. The other half are Blaine’s, too--Kurt would never keep his shoes anywhere but his own, matchbox-sized closet--but they’re at least within the range of what his boyfriend calls “acceptable public attire”. The lady from North Dakota guesses S and half the puzzle fills in. “Jackson, Mississippi”, Blaine says.
“Dude, you’re awesome at this,” Finn says as the lady from North Dakota guesses the same thing a moment later. “So how long are you visiting for?”
Okay, this is getting embarrassing. “I kind of live here, Finn,” says Blaine.
“You...what?” Finn blinks. “Does Kurt know?” Blaine resists the urge to headdesk right onto the coffee table.
“Well, it’s only a two-bedroom apartment, so yeah, it probably would’ve been kind of hard to miss,” he says.
“Wait, but does Burt know?” Finn frowns. “How long have you been here?”
“Since August and no, and we’re trying to keep it that way,” Blaine tells him. “At least for a while.”
Finn’s brow wrinkles as he ponders this. “Dude, your birthday’s in, like, December, right? I remember because we had that whole combined birthday-party-Christmas-grab bag thing before school let out last year. Aren’t you like seventeen?”
“Yeah,” says Blaine. “I ran away from home to go live with my older boyfriend in New York. I’m a Lifetime Original movie.” The commercial break ends, slides right into the final Wheel round. Blaine glances at the clock; Kurt and Rachel should be home within the next hour and a half, and he’s never going to get anything done then. “Do you want the remote? I really need to finish my calculus homework.”
Finn takes it, still eyeing him suspiciously. “Wait, you live here?” he asks one more time. “This is where you come home every day.”
“Yes, Finn,” Blaine sighs, and reaches for his books.
“Are your parents paying rent? ‘Cause I know Burt was, like, all worried about the prices in New York City...”
“I take a couple of utilities and most of the grocery bill. I have a job.”
“Oh. Uh...” Most of Finn’s confusion, as far as Blaine can tell, is about not being sure if he’s supposed to be mad about this or why. Blaine reaches over to pat him on the knee.
“Kurt will be home in like an hour,” he promises. “You can talk to him about it then.”
Rachel makes it home first, actually, something about the director and the second female lead getting into a screaming argument and one of them stomping out in the middle of rehearsal, said with great enthusiasm for her chances of moving up in the production’s rankings before she’s even finished walking in the door. By the time Kurt makes it home twenty minutes later, she and Finn are having some kind of high-volume discussion in the middle of the living room, while Blaine puts the finishing touches on his chem lab write-up.
Kurt takes in the scene, then meets Blaine’s eyes over the back of the couch and raises his eyebrows. Blaine pulls a bemused, helpless sort of face, hits SAVE, and sets his laptop down.
“He’s been here for like four hours,” Blaine murmurs when Kurt comes closer, quiet enough not to interrupt the oh-so-obviously friendly dispute taking place in front of them. “How was your day?”
“Long,” says Kurt, slipping one hand around the back of Blaine’s neck. The back of the couch is still between them--kneeling on the cushions, Blaine’s actually taller than Kurt, for once--but their foreheads touch together, gentle, like home. “This choreographer is almost as bad as the one we tried to hire for glee club our sophomore year. Yours?”
“Pretty good. I finished that lab report.” He smiles, half an inch from Kurt’s nose. “Finn ate all my Rachel cookies.”
“How dare he,” murmurs Kurt.
“I think I’m going to take a shower and start getting ready for bed,” Blaine says. “Before Finn notices you’re home and starts asking questions all over again.”
“Oh, I’m going to pry these two off of each other with a fire hose if I have to. I’ll be in in about half an hour.”
“Great,” says Blaine. He eyes the path around the couch to the hall--sliding between Finn and Rachel, the coffee table, and the TV--then makes an informed decision, swings one leg up to balance on the back of the couch, and vaults it. Finn and Rachel both look over at the thud when he hits the floor.
“Finn, so nice of you to visit without bothering to call,” Kurt says behind him as he slips away to the bathroom. “How’s Carole?
Blaine likes his school. It’s co-ed, but otherwise remarkably like a slightly less uptight version of Dalton with a way better arts curriculum. His uniform blazer here is black with red piping, but otherwise things are kind of the same.
The students are just the same, Blaine knows that, but sometimes they just seem so young. His five-person Chemistry study group meets in the libraries at lunch on Monday and Fridays and after school until six whichever day all their other practices leave free. They’re all high school seniors; Derek’s been eighteen since before school started. But he and Seth are talking with awe and more than a little excitement about a post-Christmas ski weekend in Colorado like it’ll be the first time either of them have been away from home without parental supervision before. Maybe it is.
Marisol huffs and taps her textbook impatiently, for all the world like a taller, visibly biracial Rachel Berry denied control of a situation she ought to rule, before a year of tough competition just to get in led to endless rehearsals, understudy casting, and a whole school full of people who might just be better than her at something. Blaine lays his hand on the textbook cover next to hers and smiles encouragingly.
“So how’s Model UN going?” he asks her.
“Okay, I’m here, I had to run out to my car for my notes from last week and then Mr. Sanchez wanted to talk to me, but I’m here, we can start.” A few strands of Justine’s bottle-red hair are slipping lose from her bun, and Blaine thinks he sees the corner of a shirttail poking out from her sweater. Marisol’s glaring daggers.
“Okay, combustion reactions,” says Blaine, heading off that argument before it can start. “Did you guys all understand the diagram on page 254, because I--”
Blaine’s cell phone rings.
He winces and fumbles for his pocket. Marisol now looks about ready to drown them all; Derek and Seth high-five under the table. Blaine fumbles it open before “Blackbird singin’ in the dead of--” can go any further.
“Hey, I’m in study group right now, what’s up?” he asks, a little tightly, but he can’t help a little smile. He can’t, when he talks to Kurt.
“Oh, shoot, you told me that was tonight, didn’t you?” Kurt says. “Okay, I won’t put on the date-night music just yet. Rachel’s out tonight, it’s just us. How long are you going to be?”
“Um, this shouldn’t take more than an hour, hour and a half?” Blaine guesses, glancing around at the faces of his groupmates. Derek and Justine both nod vehemently. Marisol rolls her eyes and taps her nails against her book cover again. “Right. I should be home before six, okay?”
“Excellent, that’ll give me the chicken time to finish thawing. Pick up a loaf of bread from that bakery on your way home?”
“Okay,” Blaine promises. “Look, I’ve got to go, I’ll be home in a couple of hours. Love you.”
“Love you too,” Kurt says, already sounding distracted, either over tonight’s menu or whatever creative conundrum cooking dinner tonight is somehow going to help him solve. Blaine thinks best while his feet are moving. He doesn’t question Kurt’s process.
“If you’re done checking in with your mom, can we talk about combustion, or....?” Marisol leaves the question open-ended. Blaine ducks his head a little as he puts his phone back in his pocket.
“Not my mom, actually,” he can’t help but correct, even though he really should know better by now. “So okay, page 254--”
“Right, don’t you live with your boyfriend or something?” Seth asks, and that is something Blaine will never stop thanking private school for, or New York, how easily ‘boyfriend’ rolls off his tongue. “Emma-Beth Dwyer was saying something about that in Polisci like last week.”
“Wait, seriously?” says Justine. “My parents would freak if I tried to move in with my boyfriend.” She looks like she’s seriously considering it.
“Yeah, I am, and it’s actually kind of a long story, but I think Marisol’s going to explode if we don’t talk about making things explode soon, and I kind of just promised Kurt I’d be home for dinner. Seriously guys, that chart?”
Blaine is seventeen, he knows that, but sometimes he looks at them. He looks back at his life and feels about a thousand years old. This is his fourth high school in four years, and part of him just doesn’t understand why he isn’t done already. Part of him already is.
He doesn’t know where the rest of his class is going to end up next year. Derek’s parents are fighting over his competing legacies at Princeton and Yale, Seth’s got his eyes locked on a handful of conservatory programs up and down the East coast, and Justine’s apparently been talking about Berkley for years. Leila, who’s playing Berthe in Pippin not-quite-opposite Blaine’s Leading Player, wants Oxford, Max who plays Pippin is debating NYU against Chicago, Jason who’s playing Charles is thinking about Duke and Texas and Chapel Hill. He’s spent like eight different homeroom periods telling Emma-Beth Dwyer all about Santana’s experiences at Smith. They’re all perched on the edge, waiting to grow up. Blaine doesn’t know where they’re going to end up yet. He just knows where he belongs.
This is the city. Kurt is the man, and New York is the city, and this is the life that Blaine is meant to grow up into having, in that apartment, in that bedroom, that bed. He won’t be moving anywhere. Blaine’s found his place, he knows what’s right, what’s next.
It’s why he’s spent three months lying. It’s why everything. Even as much as he loves parents, and god knows, Blaine Anderson does love his parents, its why everything. Ohio is a desert, and Blaine’s been living off whatever tiny oases he could find for years, taking what he can, draining them and watching them dry up around him. Somewhere back there, there’s Artie and Tina, and the few Warblers that haven’t graduated yet, his parents’ occasional, well-staggered presence, and it’s enough, a thin trickle of water in the sand, enough to keep him alive until the end of the year. But there’s nothing left there to grow on.
At the end of an hour and a half, most of a chapter argued over and five pages each of homework to show for it, Blaine’s groupmates go home to their mothers and fathers. He gathers together his backpack, stops at that little bakery on his way to the subway, and goes home to the rest of his life.
Thanksgiving is awkward. Less than it should be, really. But still awkward.
His dad is spending the holiday doing business in Tokyo. His mom is spending it going to political events in DC. Blaine gets both of those calls about a day apart from each other.
Blaine actually makes it a point to call his parents, these days, at least three times per parent per week, when he knows he’s not going to be interrupted by the sounds of the New York City subway system or an apartment full of the musically-inclined. There’s really no telling what time they’d end up talking if he left it to his parents to call, and usually, when it’s him, they answer. Penny and Lauren email him copies of their schedules every Monday, so he knows when they can answer.
“It looks like mom’s buying me a ticket to DC for Thanksgiving this year,” he tells his roommates one lazy Saturday afternoon, leaning backwards in the kitchen chair to look at them both upside-down in the living room. “Remind me to make sure whatever flight I book is also listed as a connection from somewhere in Ohio.”
“Make sure you do that for the flight back, too,” Kurt points out. “They’re just as likely to notice then.”
Blaine actually ends up booking the entire round-trip ticket, service from Columbus Ohio into Dulles International, one brief layover in JFK International Airport, and calls the airline the night before he leaves to make sure he can still get on the second leg of his trip if he doesn’t show up for the first. He has a whole story about how his flight went ready in his mind by the time he touches down and goes to meet Penny in baggage claim. His mother never really asks him to tell it, but he has it.
Penny drives him to his mom’s hotel suite, where she’s putting on the kind of ‘evening-out’ makeup that makes Blaine wish he’d taken Kurt’s advice and packed more than one suit. She abandons her eyeshadow at the vanity and throws her arms tight around him as soon as he walks in the door anyway.
“Hi, baby,” she says to his shoulder. Blaine got a couple of inches taller than his mother somewhere during freshman year of high school, but it’s still always a shock to realize just how much height he has on her now. “I missed seeing you. We keep passing right on by each other. You’re so busy now.”
“Yeah, it’s been a couple of weeks,” Blaine says, mentally crossing his fingers. It’s been almost sixteen weeks, but he knows how memory goes. They’ve talked enough in between that, beyond ‘I didn’t see Blaine last week, or the week before that,’ everything fuzzes over with the assumption that she’d notice if, say, they didn’t actually run into each other for three straight months.
Some part of him is still amazed that he’s managed to pull this off for so long. Some part of him is just incredibly depressed. He hugs his mother harder.
They spend the first part of Thanksgiving Day standing outside in coats in the November air, listening to speeches made by important people and fidgeting in the cold. Dinner is a five-course meal served in a restaurant that Blaine can’t even pronounce the name of, just the two of them.
Blaine’s mother asks questions, and he talks. He talks about Kurt, about not seeing him anywhere near often enough even though it’s (almost, he says) every day. He talks about Pippin, and his mother promises to try to find time to come opening weekend, though Blaine’s not worried. He talks about his chemistry class, his college applications, his plans for next year, his hopes for living in New York. He just elides, here and there, just a little at all times.
Then he asks questions and she talks, about the new book she’s writing, her most recent public speaking tour, the careers and voting records of three or four different senators Blaine gets the uncomfortable feeling she might be having or contemplating affairs with, all the reasons he should go to Princeton for college rather than trying to make his way in New York City itself. He still doesn’t understand half her politics, but he thinks he’s starting to.
They don’t mention his father, or his uncle and grandmother on his mom’s side, or anything at all that’s happened more than six months ago. It should make the lying harder, having to do so much more of it, but it’s almost the opposite. There’s not enough real memory between the two of them to remind him why he shouldn’t lie.
He doesn’t fly back home until Saturday afternoon. He spends Friday tailing his mother to a series of casual meetings, breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee, cocktails, dinner, getting introduced around to lobbyists and political staffers and at least one reporter for the Washington Post.
The first time Blaine gets asked about a girlfriend, head still groggy with sleep, one hand curled possessively around the handle of a mug of coffee still too hot to drink, Blaine corrects him on automatic five seconds before the pointed toe of his mother’s conservative black pumps impacts his anklebone. The second time, he hesitates just long enough for his mom to slide in with a wide smile and a list of Kurt’s praises. By the fourth or fifth meeting--Blaine honestly isn’t sure which, they may have had lunch twice, and he still doesn’t have any idea what at least half of them were about--he’s given up trying to understand his mother’s reasoning or wanting to. He keeps his most charming smile right through dinner, and mentions Kurt every time he gets asked about his life, even questions that don’t pertain to romance at all. His ankle is slightly bruised, but his mother gives up on that after the second time, too.
Kurt is spending his Black Friday hitting up every single high-end store within an hour’s driving distance of Lima, Ohio. No ‘probably’ about it; they’d talked, last night, early and briefly before Kurt had put himself to bed in expectation of a 4 AM venture, and Blaine’s expecting all kinds of new clothes and housewares to clutter up the apartment when he gets back. Blaine hopes Kurt remembers that they need a new blender to replace the one Santana broke a few weeks back when she came up to visit. (Somehow, Santana’s visits always have lasting consequences involving alcohol. This really isn’t surprising.)
“So what were we trying to accomplish today?” Blaine finally lets himself ask when they get back to the hotel suite, tired, confused, and extremely full. “Was that work, or...”
“Networking, Blaine, it’s all about networking.” His mom tweaks his ear on her way past, like she’s been doing since Blaine first discovered the wonderful world of hair gel and she couldn’t tousle it any more. “Benny, he was the one we had coffee with, he’s got connections to one of the immigration reform lobbies that I might be doing some work with after I finish this book, and Carole...” Her voice is muffled as she wanders off into her bedroom to slip out of her dress, the third thing she’s worn today.
Blaine mostly can’t help but think about his--about Kurt’s Carole, soft and steady and probably content to spend the day cleaning up, cooking dinner, and glad her boys were home. He’s pretty sure the Carole his mom is talking about is the brunch lady. Or maybe she was the second person they had lunch with, he doesn’t remember any more.
Blaine flops down on the bed in his own room, wide, clean-sheeted, and utterly empty, and slides his cell phone out of his pants pocket. He’d kept it on silent the whole time, even the incoming text messages, and only checked it when he and his mom came back to the hotel room for her to change. There are at least ten new messages from Kurt since they left for cocktail hour, including three new picture messages of things Blaine’s sure he’s going to see in person within the next two days.
Rather than open them, he just hits speed dial 1 and waits for it to ring through. Kurt picks up on the second ring.
“Tell me what you bought today,” Blaine groans.
“Really? Not that I’m not dying to tell you, oh, I got the cutest set of tablecloths on dirt cheap today, remind me when we get home to cut two of them down to make window treatments for the living room, but you sound terrible, and as we both know once I get started I can go on for a while.” Kurt clearly hasn’t come down from his shopping adrenaline yet, although Blaine’s pretty sure he’s been up at this point for a good 20 or 21 hours straight. Blaine smiles into his pillow.
“I’m exhausted,” he says. “Remind me never to try to run for office. Or go into politics. Or anything remotely like that.”
“I could have told you that last year after my dad’s campaign. You’re both too earnest for your own good,” Kurt says. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Honestly? I really just want to lie here and listen to your voice,” Blaine admits freely. Never mind that it’s pathetic, that they’ll be slipping into the same bed together in just two more nights. “What did you buy today?”
“Well, I remembered the lecture I got before I left about concentrating on housewares over wardrobe this year, so after the tablecloths, Mercedes and I split off and I met Rachel by the appliances, and don’t think leaving Mercedes to face the hordes in womens’ handbags wasn’t a sacrifice...” Kurt rambles on, happy and familiar in Blaine’s ear, and Blaine just smiles into the starched white linen of the hotel pillowcase and lets himself drift.
Fifteen or so hours a week at eight bucks an hour isn’t close to covering Blaine’s share of the rent he isn’t paying, but it helps stem the hemorrhage of money from what’s left of two years of savings and unpaid Dalton tuition.
His dad never charged him back interest on the fall tuition money from the year Blaine transferred to McKinley, just dropped January’s spring-semester allowance down to approximately the amount of extra he always threw in for personal purchases. There was a reason Blaine had intentionally convinced his father he’d gone ahead and transferred back to Dalton after all. There’ll be enough money cobbled together in savings to cover second semester tuition at his school in New York, if his dad doesn’t find out where he’s living and cut off January’s deposit entirely.
It’s wrong to only need or want your parents for money. It’s wrong to lie so much, and it’s wrong to be able to get away with it by saying so little. It’s right that he’s here, sharing a cramped little bathroom and half a bedroom the size of his mother’s closet, in this apartment that somehow always smells like violets or cinnamon unless Kurt is in the process of cooking something right that minute, no matter what the hallway smells like today. It’s wrong that he forges the signatures on all his school paperwork, good enough to fool a government official.
It’s wrong that Blaine’s eighteenth birthday falls on a Thursday in the middle of tech week, when he has rehearsal until nine and neither Kurt nor Rachel can make it home until after eleven. It’s probably wrong that he rushes off-campus at lunch to meet Kurt in the middle of his giant midday gap for paninis and cupcakes, and dawdles so long that he ends up skipping music theory before he gets back. The stage manager bullied two of the sound techs into bringing cookies; there’s one rousing round of ‘Happy Birthday’, five minutes of snacking, and another three hours of work after that.
It should be wrong, maybe, but mostly it just feels good. Blaine twirls and slides across the stage, spot on every mark, belting out ‘Magic to Do’ like the only thing in the world that matters. The stage loves him, and this city, and Blaine loves them back with giddy, overtired performer’s joy. The hot shower warming life back into him when he finally gets home out of the freezing drizzle of rain, the hot cocoa out of a packet that he and Rachel had teamed up against Kurt to allow in the house while he finishes his reading for English, the warm quilt of the bed he crawls into around ten or ten thirty when the space heater just isn’t enough, the warm body that slides in beside him an hour later, just as Blaine’s begun to doze off.
“Happy Birthday,” Kurt whispers in his ear as he tugs Blaine’s body more comfortably up alongside his own, and Blaine murmurs his thanks before he drops off to sleep.
It’s definitely wrong of him to sleep through his alarm the next morning, but he wakes to the first faint glimmers of light around the edges of Kurt’s handmade window treatments, Rachel’s morning vocal warmups in the living room, the clanging of the pipes that mean Kurt’s in the shower, and the shrill ringing of his cell phone that badly wants answering. Blaine gropes out for it on the windowsill next to his side of the bed and answers it without extending more than that one arm out from the warm cave under the covers.
“Hello?” he asks groggily, and Anthony Anderson’s low chuckle sounds familiarly in his ear.
“Happy birthday, champ,” he says. “Out too late partying last night?”
“Something like that.” Blaine rubs at his eyes with the back of his wrist; he can’t actually see the clock on the phone while he’s talking, but if Kurt’s already up and showering Blaine’s probably got to be out the door for school in something like half an hour. “What’s up, dad?”
“Well, I know you were out with your friends yesterday on the day itself, but I’m flying home from New Orleans this afternoon and I wanted to make sure we had time this weekend to sit down and have a nice birthday dinner, just the two of us,” his dad invites congenially. “What do you say, you, me, 7:00 tomorrow, the back room at Firenze? Lauren’s making reservations.”
“Uh, Dad, I can’t,” Blaine says, giving up the fight against gravity and slumping back down against his pillow. “I promised Rachel we’d go to this thing tomorrow, it’s her vocal showcase, it’s kind of important.”
“Can you cancel? Or push it back an hour?” his father asks, with only nominally more concern than he’d ask a colleague to reschedule a competing business meeting. He is asking Blaine himself instead of getting Lauren to do it for him.
“No, Dad, it doesn’t work that way. Kurt and I promised her.”
“Honestly, Blaine, this is family we’re talking about here. All right, 7:00 tonight then, I’ll have them switch the booking.”
And this is one of the stupider, maybe even the stupidest thing Blaine’s ever done, but half his brain is still asleep and every piece if him is comfortable except for his right elbow, sticking out from underneath the covers, and the cold fingertips on his left hand. He’s been exhausted into peaceability.
He’s eighteen. Besides money, there’s nothing his parents can do to him any more.
“No, dad, I’m saying I don’t have time to fly back to Ohio for dinner this weekend. We’ve got Friday night dinner tonight, and Rachel’s thing tomorrow, and the play’s in dress starting Monday.”
“What are you talking about, where are you?” his dad asks irritably.
Blaine yawns, and says, “New York,” then yawns again.
“What in the name of St. Pete are you doing there?”
“I’ve been here,” says Blaine. “That’s why you haven’t seen me in months. Kurt and Rachel came out here for school when they graduated.”
“It hasn’t been months, I just saw you that...two or three weeks ago, we had dinner, you told me all about that play of yours. Are you telling me you’ve been flying off to New York to see your boyfriend every other weekend since school started?”
“Dad, that was a phone conversation,” says Blaine.
“No it wasn’t, we were sitting right--”
“Dad, I know it was a phone conversation, because I haven’t been back to Ohio since August when I moved in with my boyfriend in New York City,” says Blaine. “The only time I’ve seen either of you guys in the past four months is Mom for Thanksgiving. The post office has been forwarding my mail since the end of July.”
There’s silence for a very long moment on the other end of the line. “You eloped to New York in August,” his father says, very very flatly.
“What? No, we’re not married.” Kurt chooses that moment to walk back in the room, hair wet, bundled up to the chin in his fluffy blue robe; he raises an eyebrow and Blaine waves him off, one-handed. “We’re just living together. Besides, until yesterday that wouldn’t even be legal.” Kurt, carefully combing his hair in the skinny little full-length mirror they’d gotten at Sheets ‘n’ Things, rolls his eyes.
“Legal my ass, do you have any idea what kind of legal trouble you could be in? Let alone your friends. Crossing state lines--transporting a minor across state lines--”
“Dad, Dad, it’s fine,” Blaine interrupts, rolling over onto his back and pushing himself into a more-or-less sitting position. Kurt has frozen in front of the mirror. Slowly he turns to stare at Blaine, eyes wide, comb still dangling above his head. “I’m not a minor any more. Everything’s okay.”
“Like hell it is,” his father starts. He’s not shouting. Yet.
Blaine tunes him out for a minute to wave Kurt off. What follows is a complicated series of entirely silent hand gestures that end in Kurt checking the time on his own cell phone, then stalking over to the tiny indent in the wall they call a closet, shooting suspicious looks back over his shoulder the whole time.
“--all the time this family’s put in to raising you with good standards, and a solid education, I swear, Blaine Emery Anderson--” his father continues.
Blaine misses first period.
Kurt and Rachel both have to leave for class before Blaine gets off the phone. The director takes pity on them after a week of late nights and lets them out at 7.
He can hear the music halfway down the hall--somebody’s going to have to write an apology note and bake I’m Sorry cookies for Mr. Kriegermeir again. It’s ironic Katy Perry, but Blaine doubts he’ll appreciate the difference.
The apartment smells of three things when Blaine opens the door: cinnamon-apple pie, sizzling Italian sausage for that pasta thing with the canneloni beans that Kurt makes that is so good, and crushed mint.
“Hi, Santana,” he says, carefully toeing off his shoes before he tracks any of the mud, damp, or general guck of the subway onto one of the throw rugs. “How was your drive down?”
“Boring as fuck. Here, have a mojito, birthday boy.” Santana shoves one into his hand basically as soon as he gets it free of his coat, slings her spare arm around his shoulders. “Congratulations on finally being legal and crap.”
“Actually, Santana, the age of consent in New York is 17,” Blaine begins, but she’s already wandered away. He doesn’t really know why he tries.
Jacket on the coat rack, backpack dropped behind the couch out of foot traffic, and Blaine carefully rounds the kitchen table that’s been folded out to block most of the front door so it can seat all four of them tonight to slip one arm around Kurt’s waist. Kurt wiggles backwards, not unhappily, tilting his head to the side until he can see Blaine at least out of the corner of his eye.
“And a hello to you, too,” he says. “How was your day?”
“Not bad, shorter than it could have been,” says Blaine. “How about yours?”
“My Western Civ professor is hiding an addiction to terrible reality TV shows,” Kurt says. “And Santana’s taken up residence on our couch.”
“I saw. She gave me a mojito.”
“You might want to move that away from the lit stove,” Kurt recommends. Blane does it immediately. He remembers how much alcohol Santana loads into her drinks from Kurt’s birthday.
“How was your conversation with your dad this morning?” Kurt asks instead, stirring the sausage with a wooden spatula for all the world like he doesn’t care about the answer at all. Blaine smiles, and if Kurt’s not looking to the left he can’t possibly know it’s not reaching Blaine’s eyes, and says,
“We’re tabling the discussion of what to do with me until I go back to Ohio for Christmas. I’ll probably have to pick up more hours at the store to cover next semester’s tuition.”
“Will you be able to manage it?” Kurt tilts his head back to the left, worried creases around the corner of his eyes. Blaine hugs him a little tighter.
“If I come up short I can ask my grandma,” he says with a little more surety than he feels. “Heck, I can probably just tell my mother I’m going to ask my grandma, and she’ll write me a check just to make sure it doesn’t get--”
“Oh my god, Blanderson, get your ass in here so we can get you drunk,” Santana demands from the other side of the room. Rachel’s giggling so hard she’s practically cackling. Obviously, they started the party without him.
“Go, let me work,” says Kurt.
“All right, ladies.” Blaine detaches himself from Kurt and makes his way back around the table before he dares taste the drink. It’s predictably strong enough to strip paint. It’s also tasty as hell, so he swigs down another sip anyway. “What the hell is in this?”
“Aaaa little of this and a little of that,” says Rachel, leaning against Santana’s side. She’s definitely finished one or two already. Blaine leaves the couch to them and takes Rachel’s usual squishy chair. He also makes a mental note to make sure not to make out with her tonight. And to at least pretend to try to keep Santana from doing the same.
But first...“What’s in the box?” asks Blaine. “And where did you find wrapping paper with half-naked Chippendale’s dancers on it?”
“Please,” scoffs Santana. “Internet? Whatever, you can’t open it until your sugar daddy finishes up and gets his ass out here, Hummel!” She raises her voice and her glass on the last to be heard over Katy Perry.
“Thank you for buying me a gift, Santana,” says Blaine. “It’s very thoughtful of you.”
“Yeah, you should be thanking me. you and your boy over there,” Santana declares, in a tone that makes Blaine freeze for a moment.
“You got me sex toys, didn’t you,” he says.
“Sure did,” Santana agrees.
“You never bring me sex toys,” Rachel pouts. Blaine and Kurt are really going to keep an eye out for this whole budding experimental lesbian phase Santana seems to be bringing out in her.
“Please, Berry, you’ve been eighteen for like a year, you can totally get your own. Anderson here was just a dewy-eyed innocent little minor up until yesterday.”
“You do know that Kurt and I don’t just go to bed and cuddle every night,” Blaine points out, and then glances at the mostly-empty glass in his hand. Maybe he shouldn’t be drinking this fast when he hasn’t eaten since lunch. Or maybe it’s just repeated exposure to Santana.
“Hey, don’t spoil my illusions,” says Santana. “You two are like fucking Care Bears for all I know.”
“They’re not,” Rachel assures her. “Kurt is loud.”
“I am going to only hope that you’re talking about my operatic prowess and not ask any more questions,” Kurt declares, leaning past the table. “Come eat.”
Santana’s doctored mojitos don’t actually go with fusili with canneloni beans and broccoli rabe and Italian sausage, but none of them actually gives a crap. Blaine’s going to need to be at least a little drunk to open that package in public anyway, and Kurt’s definitely going to have to be on his way there to handle watching it.
Santana sleeps on the couch, which means that Kurt and Blaine fall into bed cuddling and giggling a little themselves and absolutely dead-set against any having any kind of sex with her just on the other side of some very thin walls. They both remember Mercedes’ party senior year. Not going to happen.
They sleep in the next day, which, as early as they’ve been getting up lately, means staying in bed all the way until nine. Blaine escapes the warmth of his covers to make a dash for the bathroom, and finds a note on the front door.
“Rachel took Santana out to brunch,” he says when he comes back, silverware in one hand and the cold leftover half of last night’s pie in the other. “To that place all the way on the other side of town with the fruit sushi and the really long wait and the hot waitresses.”
“Oh you’re noticing waitresses now?” Kurt mumbles into his pillow. “Should I feel threatened?”
“I’m just repeating what Rachel says every time we go there,” says Blaine. He slides the pie down onto the Kurt’s-side nightstand for later, then pulls the covers back enough to climb back into bed, half on the mattress, half on top of his boyfriend.
“Did you notice her with Santana last night? We’re going to have to moderate another bicurious sexuality freakout this spring, aren’t we,” Kurt sighs. Blaine grins, and leans down to scrape the soft skin just beneath his left earlobe with lips and teeth.
“You’re missing the point,” he says lowly.
A moment later, Blaine finds himself flat on his back, trapped between legs and arms and the looming weight of Kurt pressing down on top of him. “No, I think I’ve got it,” Kurt says, and shifts his hips meaningfully. “We’ve got the apartment to ourselves for at least another three hours, that’s what you’re saying, right?”
“That was my point, yeah,” gasps Blaine. He reaches up a hand to curl around the back of Kurt’s neck and pull him down the last three inches, closing the distance down the whole length of them from lips to hips, warm under the covers and more skin that Kurt would have let anyone see, let alone touch, even a year ago. “Go slowly,” he breathes, when Kurt pulls away to mouth at the hollow of his throat. “It’s been a week.”
“We’re getting old,” Kurt agrees, and obligingly lifts his hips until they’re just barely, tantalizingly out of reach. Blaine whines.
Kurt fills him to bursting, heart and head and lungs, like Blaine can breath him in, can swallow him down, can fill himself up with Kurt in every metaphorical way and the sheer warm quicksilver steel-strong softness of him will chase out the cold from every last empty part of Blaine’s being. The not-so-metaphorical ways follow, inevitable, leave him gasping and writhing, begging and twisting and whining for more as Kurt pants and moans so loud Mr. Kriegermeir probably deserves extra cookies. They slide together along every nerve ending, again and again and oh god Kurt, please do that again, and Blaine is lost to himself because he knows he will always be found. He is Kurt’s, a thousand times over, every time, every eternity in every lifetime, it all comes back to this. Kurt sinks in deeper, and even deeper still, slow implacable thrust that disallows all conscious thought. This is everything. This is where he belongs.
Later, when time settles back down around them, rearranging into linear order, they lay there panting under only a sheet. The rest of the apartment is probably cold, will be until May or June, but the little space heater in the corner and the rising heat of their exertions have brought the room up degree by degree and now their only point of contact is their joined hands, fallen on the mattress between them.
“We should get married,” Blaine yawns absently, mind more on the remaining apple pie than his tongue. He doesn’t even really realize he’s said something until Kurt’s fingers tighten almost-painfully around his.
“Blaine,” Kurt says, sounding way more awake than Blaine is right now. “Tell me that that’s not actually how you’re proposing to me.”
“I just mean it’s legal now, Santana’s right, we should totally think about--”
“Blaine,” says Kurt. “If you think I’m marrying you at nineteen years old, living in this mousehole of an apartment, years before either of us has our big break, when we can’t afford so much as a single ice pigeon, let alone the entire flock of doves we’ll actually be having, because of something Santana said...”
“Okay, okay,” Blaine says, forcing his head up a little so he can look over at Kurt next to him. “But you do want to, someday, right?”
“Ice doves,” says Kurt. “I’ve been putting up with everything Tyrone and Amelia say about dating a high schooler all year for you. You’d better believe I’m getting a husband out of this.”
“Okay,” says Blaine, and lets his head fall back to the pillow. It rests there for just a beat. “You know it makes the Expected Family Contribution on your FAFSA go to 0, right? Or, down to our actual combined income, which is basically 0 anyway, and--”
“Blaine.” Blaine shuts up. “If you need help paying for college we’ll find you scholarships, or you’ll take a year off and work as one of those...those singing waiters at Johnny Rockett’s. We’ll get by. But I do not want to get married on a whim, at some corner courthouse, with Rachel and Santana as witnesses, and tell my dad the details by text message later.”
“That’s not what I...” Blaine mumbles uncomfortably. Kurt sighs; the clenching fingers twined around Blaine’s relax, and Kurt’s thumb strokes soothing patterns along the back of Blaine’s hand.
“I know. But I...I’ve been wanting this for a really long time, Blaine. I deserve it. All the...the bells and whistles, and my family, and your family, and the huge wedding party and the even bigger party, and...you deserve it too. I want us to have that.”
With a truly Herculean effort, Blaine rolls over onto his side so he can look Kurt straight on. Kurt smiles, a little timid, a lot stubborn, a lot Kurt. Blaine smiles back.
“I love you,” he says, with total honesty. “I want everything. Whenever.”
“I love you, too,” Kurt promises. “I wa--” He’s caught mid-sentence by a sneak-attack of yawning. “Right now, I want a nap. Think we can get one in before the girls get back?”
“Let’s go for it,” Blaine says, and flops over on his front, half on Kurt and half off. Kurt squirms around him to pull the sheet up over their shoulders, and Blaine wiggles down, just a little. Just until he can feel Kurt’s heartbeat, right underneath his cheek.