His pen has barely touched the page or Quinn sits down opposite him at their usual table, Santana following directly behind, and they sit so close together they cut off his view. He’s grateful for the distraction; he hasn’t gotten any work done since he sat down an hour ago, his coffee’s gone cold and his eyes keep wandering towards the front of the store.
“You’re going to stare holes in that boy if you’re not careful,” Quinn muses, pushing back his econ book to make room for her coffee cup.
He looks up at his two friends, both eyeing him like they caught him with his hand in the cookie jar, and he wonders how he can talk his way out of this without losing face, make it seem like he hadn’t in fact been staring, even if that was a blatant lie.
“If I’m staring at all,” –he fixes his eyes on his notes again– “it wouldn’t be any of your business.”
“Strike a nerve, Smythe?” Santana asks.
He leans back in his chair, shrugging. “What do you want me to say?”
Quinn smiles, and all too lovingly adds, “You’re hopeless,” before lacing her fingers through Santana’s on top of the table.
Indignation curls between his shoulder blades as he huffs. It’s their fault anyway; Quinn and Santana had caught the boy in question staring a few times and teased him endlessly until he dared a glance himself. From where he sat on the other side of the room he’d ascertained the boy was fairly good looking, his hair dark and eyes hidden behind thick black-rimmed glasses, and he loved wearing expensive cardigans or cozy sweaters.
And maybe Quinn has a point, maybe he’s turned hopelessly wishful, there’s only so many times two people’s eyes can meet before they’re aware they’re both staring – once he’d taken notice of the boy there was nothing that stopped him from seeing him, like somehow he’d bled into his field of perception to stay, scribbled there like marginalia, and there’s nothing that could erase him.
It wouldn’t have been a problem if it had happened once or twice, the boy wouldn’t be the first to crush on him from a distance and he wouldn’t be the last, but over the course of a week the boy became as much of a fixture at the coffee shop as he had the past year. The boy sat in the window seat, his coffee next to him on the table, writing in a book, eyes darting across the room until they eventually, inevitably, landed on him.
Since then his every thought had filled with curiosity about the curled up heap of a boy seated by the window, legs crossed at the ankles, knees hitched up so a notebook could rest across his lap.
Though judging by the way his pencil skidded rapidly over the page, he guessed it was a sketchbook rather than a notebook.
The small bell above the door raises the anticipation in the room an infinitesimal few degrees, enough to make him dig his nails into his cup, the heat of the coffee sinking into his skin. For some reason he’s nervous, even though he does this all the time, talk to boys, chat them up, flirt until they blush. But this one might yet prove his undoing.
He approaches the boy on a Tuesday morning before class, hastily packing his things together and slamming back what’s left of his coffee as if it were alcohol that would burn courage down his throat.
“You better not be drawing me in any compromising positions.”
The boy startles and blinks up at him, two perfect hazel eyes shining behind his dark-rimmed glasses.
A smile escapes to the corners of his mouth. “Because I think you owe me dinner first.”
His fingers tighten around the strap of his shoulder bag, his palms sweaty, a pleasant panic making his heart beat erratically; as much as he’s caught the boy staring at him this past week he’d chosen to color the boy in between the lines, make assumptions about how this conversation would go and he’s glad, so glad, that none of those had predicted the beautiful pink blush that sinks into the boy’s cheeks.
“I’m– no.” The boy shakes his head, eyes skipping over his face, fingers deftly wiring around the corners of his notebook. “I’m not drawing you na– at all. Really. I’m just sketching.”
He looks at the empty cup on the table. “Still lifes?”
“No, I mean–” The boy stutters, averting his eyes in an effort to find his words. “I’m just–”
He pulls out a chair and sits down, utterly endeared by this shy boy. “I’m Sebastian.”
The boy blushes. “Blaine.”
“Just out of curiosity, Blaine. What are you drawing? Because if it’s coffee mugs you must be pretty damn good at it by now.”
A awkward smile quirks in Blaine’s lips and he sits up, adjusting his glasses while he closes his notebook. “I come here to draw people,” Blaine says. “I like watching them without–”
“Interference?” he offers, and the smile that breaks out across Blaine’s face starts new colors, mixing together hues of light and dark, pencil lines smoothing out any hard edges he might have perceived. Maybe Blaine’s an art student, or maybe he comes here to relax, but he’s nothing like he imagined he’d be.
He holds out a hand for the sketchbook. “May I?”
For a few seconds Blaine’s nimble fingers tap at the cover, hesitant at first, but eventually something in him must be convinced it’d take a whole lot to insult him – and he wouldn’t exactly mind if he found out Blaine had drawn him naked.
But when he opens the pad, plain white pages all covered in sketches, he’s forced to revise any and all opinions he prepared for. The first few pages have random scenes; one of the storefront from the outside; the coffee shop early in the morning when it’s half empty but the line unbearable; some of the baristas working behind the counter, coffee fumes rising in steam all around them.
And then there’s one of him waiting in line, the bag slung over his shoulder creating lines in the fabric of his shirt he’s seen with his own two eyes, but he can’t fathom how anyone could give them shape on a two-dimensional surface.
“These are really good,” he says, leafing through more pages, and sees himself come to life on the paper; hunched over his books at the table, talking to Santana or Quinn, sipping coffee, staring out the window.
The deeper he delves into the sketches the more of himself he sees.
“I see you’ve chosen a research topic."
“Yeah, you’re gorgeous.”
His eyes shoot up in time to see Blaine close his. He smiles, this fresh information casting Blaine in a whole new light, and he’s dying to see every facet highlighted.
“I mean, you’re really– I’m sorry.” Blaine bites at his lip nervously. “I’ll– I’ll stop.”
“Don’t,” he says, and hands the book back. “You’re really good.”
Blaine looks up at him carefully. “You don’t think it’s creepy?”
He laughs. “I think it’s flattering.”
“Mind if I join you?” he asks on Thursday morning.
Blaine startles all over again, so much disbelief in the big brown eyes that gaze up at him it makes him self-conscious, and he can’t help but wonder what kind of dream world he keeps pulling Blaine from. “I’ll be quiet as a mouse.”
“S-sure.” Blaine sits up. “Won’t your friends mind?”
He didn’t expect either of his friends today, but he’s flattered Blaine’s been paying close enough attention to know Quinn and Santana are a part of his life. “They’ll have to do without me today.” He smiles, and settles down in a chair at Blaine’s table.
They don’t talk much, Blaine goes back to sketching and he has homework to finish.
But it’s the start of something special.
On Friday Blaine waves him over and they still don’t really talk – Blaine sketches and he studies and they both seem content to let it be for a while, maybe just to make sure they’re on the same page. He wants to get to know Blaine, but he doesn’t want to rush things. It’s oddly comforting to have Blaine by his side, his silent presence no longer distracts from his work and the minute movement he catches in the corner of his eye affirms he’s still there time and time again.
It takes exactly a week for them to start talking. He doesn’t mean to pry but Blaine leaves to go to the bathroom for a few minutes and his eyes catch on some new drawings in Blaine’s sketchbook. They’re all of him again, only now that they’re closer they’re all close-ups of his face, his eyes and lips and nose carefully contoured, his lashes and his eyebrows and a small smile pulling in his mouth. It’s his spitting image, right down to the freckles dotted under one of his eyebrows and he can’t make sense of it – how does anyone do this? He wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Blaine returns from the bathroom and blushes the same pink he did a week ago, but instead of going back to his sketches he talks about how difficult it is to draw people. There’s something about every person that makes them so particularly them, a look in their eyes, a special shade in their smile like the Mona Lisa’s, a blemish in their skin.
When he asks Blaine what his most distinctive feature is he jokes, “Your freckles”, while he questions if any artist could ever do Blaine’s eyes justice.
It’s almost magical how everything changes from then on out. Blaine opens up and he finds himself disclosing things he wouldn’t tell anyone, they talk about family and high school bullies, about school and art and the future. Blaine takes on definition and his inner shapes take form, shadows cast over the darkest parts of him, but the depth and color give them context.
Sometimes Blaine spends only half an hour sketching and he fails to get much work done. They just talk over coffee and get to know each other.
A week turns into two and then a third, and he’ll notice only months later, when Blaine’s sketches really do start including him half-naked, that Quinn and Santana gave them a wide berth of space, keeping their distance because they know him far too well.
Until one day Blaine doesn’t even open his sketchbook; they’re sitting opposite each other at the table and Blaine tugs his hands into his sleeves, avoiding eye contact.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, because he hasn’t seen Blaine this nervous since the day they met.
“Sebastian–” Blaine starts. “Would you– Would you like to have dinner with me sometime?”
He smiles softly; if Blaine had waited any longer he would’ve been the one asking. “Depends.”
Blaine blinks, a sudden panic in his eyes. “On what?”
“Whether this is for research purposes or not.”
“No, I’d like to go out with you.” Blaine tries to contain a smile. “But only if you want to, I don’t want to assume–”
“Blaine,” he cuts Blaine short. “I want to.”
They head out for dinner in the Village, a little place not too far from Washington Square Park he never would’ve chosen himself – the only source of lighting comes from colored fairy lights hanging in ropes from the ceiling, small tables scattered all around the room, and there isn’t that much privacy. But they talk like they always do, and the lights play in Blaine’s eyes as if Tinkerbell herself dances through them.
Blaine’s apartment isn’t too far from the restaurant, so they head over there to share some wine. He doesn’t want this night to end, he wants to know Blaine in all these places, pencil sketch him into every canvas, not in the margins or the background but center stage.
“Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?” he asks, wandering around Blaine’s tiny one bedroom apartment to study the art on the walls – there’s a professional photograph of a Ferris wheel hanging over the television, while the wall over Blaine’s desk has been plastered with corkboard, so he can pin sketches up. Blaine even painted the backsplash in the kitchen with the New York skyline. He wishes he could see the world the way Blaine does, be conscious of the boundaries of every animate and inanimate object around him yet still catch their charm and interpret them artfully.
“When I was eight I wanted to be an astronaut.” Blaine laughs, handing him a glass of wine.
The apartment’s dark save for a few spotlights in the kitchen, moonlight filtering in through one of two windows, but he can make out Blaine perfectly, even though half his face lies cast in shadow.
“But yeah,” Blaine says. “I always doodled and sketched. I paint too, on occasion.”
He faces Blaine, curiosity tiptoeing up his spine while the wine sinks warm into his bones. “Why me?” he asks. “I mean, my own vanity notwithstanding, there are a lot of other people you could use as a muse.”
Blaine smiles. “You have really great facial features.”
“Yeah?” He takes a step closer. “Like what?”
“Just–” Blaine swallows hard. “You have great bone structure and–” Blaine’s eyes catch on his lips but he closes his eyes, and if he’s honest he loves how nervous he can make Blaine, get under his skin when Blaine set beneath his quite some time ago. “Just a lot of great features to draw.”
Blaine opens his eyes again, more confident this time, unblinking. “Like your nose and your lips, and– your eyebrows. You have perfect eyebrows, they’re–”
“Blaine,” he interrupts easily, and brings a hand up to Blaine’s face, caressing the back of his fingers down Blaine’s cheek. Blaine’s eyes are black in this lighting, his skin warm against his own. “I’m going to kiss you now, okay?”
A breath shudders past Blaine’s lips as he licks them, and he nods, almost imperceptibly.
He leans in and brushes his mouth over Blaine’s, drawing in a breath before he goes in for the kiss, lips parting and nipping at Blaine’s while Blaine’s fingers dig into his sweater. He tries to explore Blaine the way Blaine sees him, strong and fragile lines charted with loose hands, the soft stubble rained down Blaine’s face providing texture, details he’ll never tire of.
Blaine pushes up on his toes and deepens the kiss, cross-hatching himself into his heart.
The light falling in through the curtains turns his eyelids red – he keeps his eyes closed, hugging his pillow under his head, his spine cracking as he stretches in the bed. He’s on his stomach, and his lower back is starting to hurt, but the bed’s warm and inviting, not to mention filled by another body that could grant so much more warmth.
That’s when he hears it; the delicate scratch of a charcoal tip moving across paper.
He opens one eye to look towards the foot of the bed, where his boyfriend sits cross-legged, sheets bunched up around his waist, hunched over a sketchpad. Blaine’s brow has furrowed in concentration, his curls sticking every which way, his glasses perched on the tip of his nose.
Blaine glances up at him to get another look, and stills once he sees he’s awake.
“And here I thought you liked me for my brain.”
Blaine giggles, “It’s hard to resist you like this”, adding a few additional lines to his sketch.
He turns slightly to get a better view. It’s been three months now, and he’s never felt more comfortable around anyone, not any of his friends, not any other boy he’s woken up next to. There’s something about Blaine, the way he’s learned to look past the pretenses and wide smiles, the way he sees his insecurities but chose to safeguard them rather than expose them.
“Like what?” he asks, because there’s nothing he appreciates more than Blaine’s small and calm smile blossoming into that full-on wide grin that makes the sun shine brighter.
Blaine’s fingers smooth over the page, no doubt filled with half finished sketches of him sleeping. “All your beautiful lines caught in the morning sun.”
He whistles, “He’s a poet too”, while his fingers deftly curl into the white sheets, slowly coaxing them off Blaine.
“Come here,” he says softly, Blaine blushing once the sheets slip off his naked body completely. He discards his pad and pencil next to him on the bed, his glasses on the nightstand. “I think my lines require closer study.”
Blaine smiles and settles on his side next to him, his lips find his and his fingers stain his skin charcoal grey. Their legs entwine and he wishes someone would draw these lines, thick strong lines where their skins inescapably meet, dissolve the graphite because it’s none too certain where he begins and where Blaine ends, their bodies leaving the page an indecipherable mess.
Now that would be a sight.
He guides Blaine back onto his back and kicks off the sheets.
Blaine’s sketch dwindles down to the floor.
- fin -