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Reeling through the Midnight Streets

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Kurt wakes up when the setting sun slants through the front windshield, lingering on his face as he's trying to nap. He sits up, shifting his body so that the light isn't right in his eyes anymore. The AC rumbles, causing goosebumps to rise up on Kurt's bare arms.

It's one of those late summer evenings, golden and lazy and sticky and warm, that Kurt dreams about during the rest of the year. They always remind him of spending too much time at Six Flags to watch Blaine perform his 6:30 shows, eating ice cream with Mercedes after her shift at the local convenience store, spending time in the garage just working and talking with his dad.

The scenery that flies by is hilly, dotted with trees, deep greens that glow in this light. The radio is turned down low, little more than a background hum. Blaine's focused on the road, wearing his simple wire-frame sunglasses, tapping an errant beat against the steering wheel with his fingers.

Kurt has no idea where they are.

That's been happening a lot on this trip. Close your eyes in Indiana, open them again in Illinois. Fall asleep in one seedy, cheap motel and wake up in another one. The days bleed into one another, not quite distinct entities so much as this long, never ending string of events. Eat, drive, visit a local attraction, stop in a nearby city to see their parks and monuments, hunt for the next public restroom or the next place where they can rest their heads.

In New York, Kurt is used to being strict about his time, juggling his classwork and Pamela Landsbury and Vogue.com and his shifts at the diner while trying not to go insane. Out here, the idea of time is flexible, a malleable, ever-shifting thing. Sometimes, they wake up at 2pm, and sometimes they eat breakfast at 4am, and sometimes, they spend hours doing nothing more than sitting together, enjoying each other's company.

Blaine gets quieter out in the open. He's always been a ball of energy, but it mutes when he's not overwhelming himself with all the things he wants to do. He gets thoughtful and serious, still gentle and sweet as always, but a little more likely to get lost in his own head. On long road trips like this, Kurt always feels like he's been caught, suspended between two places, and it gives everything a strange sheen of unreality. It doesn't matter how many places they stop or things they do. All of it feels a step removed from him, like it's happening to someone else.

This isn't who they are when they're at home, but maybe that's okay, that they're these looser, easier versions of themselves.

"You're awake," Blaine says. The sunlight catches on the dip of his throat, and Kurt stares at the play of light and shadow on his skin.

"Yeah," Kurt says. He rolls his shoulders, trying to stretch out his back. After a year of too many other people (the loft's getting way too crowded), they decided to take a few weeks for themselves, just the two of them. Kurt had wanted to plan it out the entire trip, every stop, every attraction, but Blaine had insisted that they should just pick a direction and go.

Kurt balked at first, but now that they're on day thirteen and heading back to New York, he admits that there's a magic to this, to living moment by moment, though having a decent 4G signal and Google Maps does help. He twists the ring on his finger, and he doesn't have worry about the future, his own or theirs together or the inevitable heat death of the universe. The highway is simple as it stretches out before them. For now, they don't have to worry about anything else.

Until Kurt's stomach starts to growl, anyway. "Are we anywhere near food?" he asks.

---

They end up at a McDonald's.

At first, they refused to go anywhere near fast food, preferring to try anything else before that, but after a while, it became comforting, the same menu, the same fluorescent lights, the same heavy plastic chairs. Kurt suspects that by the time they get back, he'll end craving McDonald's french fries at the oddest times.

He tears open a ketchup packet and squeezes out as much as he can. He licks his fingers to get at the last bits of it, tasting sugar and grease and salt. Blaine takes one last bite of his Big Mac, chewing it as he wipes his face clean with a flimsy napkin. Kurt never feels more like he's from middle America than he does when they're doing this, and he finds it more of a wistful feeling than a resentful one.

"How much longer?" he asks. The sun has finished setting, and it's settling into that hazy twilight blue outside.

"Another four hours, I think," Blaine says. "I was thinking of looking for someplace to sleep." There's a dopey smile on his face that he only gets when he's really tired. It's understandable; he's been driving all day.

"No," Kurt says. "I can handle that. If you need to, you can sleep in the car." He feels refreshed after his nap, and after the amount of driving they've done over the past two weeks, another four hours is nothing.

"Okay," Blaine says. He reaches out and places his hand over Kurt's. Kurt does a quick spot-check for dirty glares and other signs of errant homophobes, but the bored teenager behind the register is chatting with the guy manning the fry-machine, and the other customers are either staring at their food or getting into arguments with one another.

Blaine's fingers brush over Kurt's knuckles. They're greasy and covered in special sauce, and his eyes are half-lidded and sleepy, and the lighting is terrible, and the decor is tacky. It's probably a little awful, how much Kurt loves Blaine right at this moment, while they're sitting in this McDonald's in the middle of nowhere. Loves him for being here, for the compulsive way he fiddles with his straws, for the way his eyebrows droop when he's tired, for loving Kurt back, for a million different things that all feel crammed into Kurt's chest right now, compressed into a tiny ball right at the center of him.

"Ready to go?" Blaine asks. His smile has only gotten dopier.

"Yeah," Kurt says, and he stands up to help clean off their table.

---

Blaine falls asleep as soon as Kurt pulls back onto the highway. The road is quiet, almost entirely devoid of other cars as it stretches out to the horizon. Kurt doesn't like the radio the way Blaine does, so he has his iPhone hooked up to the stereo system (something that took them until day three to figure out how to do) and tuned to the soothing playlist he has for long drives.

After a few hours, Kurt starts to feel the wear of it.

He's gotten used to it, the stiffness in his legs and the cramped fingers and the zen calm that seems to settle over him, but it's not exactly pleasant. It's worse when Blaine's asleep, when he doesn't have someone else to buoy his spirits.

There's something warm and bluesy playing. Blaine snuffles a bit before making a soft humming noise. They've learned a lot of new and interesting about each other during this trip (that Kurt's can be bored asleep at any kind of sports museum, that Blaine has a secret weakness for terrible gas station food, that they disagree on both the rules of punch buggy and what the name of the game even is), but Kurt's favorite is the fact that Blaine will start humming along if there's music playing while he's asleep.

A car passes by in the opposite direction. Its headlights cast long shadows through the windshield. If he squints, Kurt can pretend that he can see the bright lights of New York's skyline in the distance.

This trip has been good for them. It was the right thing to do before they get married, before they tie their lives together for good, but Kurt's also ready for it to be over. He's ready for their bed, for Rachel chattering in the mornings and Santana's bitching and moaning at night. He's ready for wedding planning and brutal NYADA teachers and busy weeknights at the diner and seeing Blaine during every free moment they have together instead of this quiet, constant reliance on one another.

Another car passes by. This one has its high beams on, and it blinds Kurt for a second before it slides past. Blaine shifts. He sits up.

"You're awake," Kurt says.

Blaine yawns. Kurt glances over at him. Blaine is watching him, eyes round and soft. "Yeah," he says. His voice is scratchy with sleep.

"Hungry?" Kurt asks. They have some trail mix somewhere in here. Blaine probably knows where it is. The backseat is crammed full of stuff, but it's not quite a disaster area yet.

"No," Blaine says. "I'm good." He leans back, turning his head towards the road.

The song switches over to "Unchained Melody", something old fashioned and sweet, and they don't say anything again for a long while.

 

FIN.