Kurt isn’t sure why he thought college would somehow be a magic pill gifted to him after surviving high school in Lima, Ohio. His eyes dart around the half full gym strewn with multi-colored streamers and set with tables with red plastic covers and bowls of chips. He tightens his grip on his icy coke, the condensation making sure his hands stay clammy. Great.
It’s the first Queer NYADA mixer of the year and he almost didn’t come. His music history homework is sitting on his desk unfinished and he can practically hear it beckoning to him right now. He’ll just finish up his coke and -
“Kurt! Get over here.”
Damn. Purple-haired Dani-the-dyke saw him. He’s not being cute. That’s how she introduced herself to him at the intro clubs night on Wednesday. He thinks she thought he would think it was cute. He didn’t care that much, to be honest. She’s a senior and runs this group and tonight it is her duty to make him feel welcome. Double great. He’ll just hang out over by the salt and vinegar chips with a group of lesbians four years older than him.
The whole scene isn’t so different from high school. There are groups of confident older kids, all who know each other already, all who are just meeting up here to go out somewhere more exciting later on, he’s sure. There is a group of three tight-shirt wearing, gym-bunny looking, athlete boys laughing too loudly by the DJ - sort of cute. There’s a mixed group of awkward looking girls and guys trying too hard to have a conversation. “I’m from Florida,” Kurt hears one of the girls say. And one of the guys is slightly overdressed in a bowtie and button down shirt. Those must be the freshmen.
“Hey gang,” One of the too tight white t-shirt wearing athletes comes over to his group of lesbians. “Who’s your new friend?” He motions at Kurt.
“I’m so glad you asked,” Dani beams. Oh god. “This is Kurt. He’s a freshman.” Double oh god.
“I figured,” Athlete boy says, but it’s kind. “I’m Matt.” Of course he’s Matt. Kurt extends his hand. Is this flirting? He has no game. “Are you coming to the football game tomorrow?” This is not going to go well.
“Football’s not really my thing,” Kurt apologizes, “But I’m planning to try out for the glee club - the Adam’s Apples or something like that?” He figures that’s not going to score him a lot of points. He’s right.
“They’re a super weird group, buddy,” Too tight T-shirt says. Buddy. “But you do you. Anyways, they could use some cute freshmen to spice things up. Maybe I’d even go to a show.” This is definitely flirting. And buddy winks at him. He is sure he is white as a ghost.
“Oh I probably won’t get in, anyways. Not much use for a countertenor these days, right?” He wants to dunk his head in the red punch bowl.
“A counter-what?” Matt asks. Dani laughs.
“Kurt, you’ve mistaken Matt for one of us.” Matt nods. “He just comes to our events to check out the new freshmen.” Kurt is sure he is definitely white.
“Not like that, Dani!” Matt is indignant but Kurt is already executing his escape.
“Me too, actually. Seeing as how I am one. So I’m just going to head over-” He gestures to the pleasantly awkward group now much more appealing. “See you later.”
Kurt scoots over to Florida girl and manages to insert himself into the circle without attracting attention. Three more sips of his coke, a polite nod, and he’s almost escaped to make his way back to his assignment.
“Hey wait-” There’s a tap on his shoulder. Caught again. He turns around. “You’re a freshman, right?” It’s overdressed bowtie boy. “”I think you’re in my music history class. My name’s Blaine.”
Yeah, it was totally chill where I’m from. Guys, girls whatever. We all hooked up.” Cassie-from-Portland is uber cool in black eyeliner and a black t-shirt, black jeans, and yup, black combat boots. The full uniform. So cool one might call her extra. As in she extra likes to dominate the conversation. “This one time, at senior skip day, we-” Blaine is smiling and nodding and noticing that the long legs in white skinny jeans with a fashionable purple handkerchief around his neck from his music history class has just joined their group. “I’m sure it was like that at your all boys school, right?”
All eyes are suddenly on him. All eyes except skinny jeans who seems to be glancing at the clock by the door. He’s been asked something. “I mean Dalton Academy is a total gay boy’s dream, right?” Cassie nudges him as if they’re sharing a secret. They’re not.
“No, not really, actually,” Blaine answers politely. “Westerville, Ohio is not exactly Portland.”
“So true!” Cassie laughs too loudly. “Portland queer nightlife is actually so cool. Let me tell you about-” Blaine smiles and nods and smiles and nods and is trying to find a pause in the conversation to introduce himself to skinny jeans. He is getting slightly worried that he is going to miss his chance because he’s now faced with an ass molded perfectly to those jeans and it’s walking out the door.
“Excuse me, guys.” He ducks away and skips to catch up. He hopes it’s not too forward as he taps him on the shoulder. “Hey wait-” The jeans turn around. “You’re a freshman, right? I think you’re in my music history class. My name’s Blaine.” He puts out his hand.
“Kurt.” He seems to sigh as he turns around and his hand is kind of clammy. “And yes, I’m in that music history class. In fact, I was about to leave to finish that mandatory delve into Beethoven’s personal life due on Monday.”
“I’m doing Mozart,” Blaine says. It may not be the world’s most graceful pick up line, but he’s not trying to pick up anybody anyways.
“My inspiration,” Blaine is momentarily confused. Kurt seems embarrassed. “I mean Beethoven’s inspiration, of course.” Kurt is slightly awkward. It’s a huge improvement from extra.
“Of course,” Blaine repeats. “So where’s home?” Blaine figures if this guy’s on his way out he might as well get his campus coordinates. The point of coming tonight was to meet other LBGT kids he might have something in common with. And music history and an absence of stories about senior skip day already have Kurt ahead of Cassie. Sharp blue eyes and his ability to pull off white skinny jeans aren’t Blaine’s focus. At least not tonight.
Blaine knows how to make friends. He’s great at making friends. He was head boy of Dalton Academy, lead singer of the Warblers. Smiling, friendly, gracious. He learned to bury all thoughts of sex and romance years ago and it serves him well. Everybody likes him. And even if he’s had to let a few girls from their sister school down gently over the years, at least no guys feel intimidated.
“Home? Oh, Lima, Ohio.” Blaine’s eyes light up. “Exciting, right?” Kurt almost laughs.
“I’m from Westerville.” This is an awesome coincidence. “I went to Dalton Academy.”
“Oh my god, we competed against your glee club at Nationals!” Blaine sees a flash of recognition flash across Kurt’s face. “And you’re the head-”
“Yeah, guilty as charged,” Blaine waves his hand dismissively. “Are you from-”
“The New Directions, yeah,” Kurt nods. “We beat you.”
It turns out that Blaine’s instinct was right. Thirty minutes later and they’re still standing under the clock and they’ve agreed to try out for Adam’s Apples together next week, lamented the monotonous delivery of their music history teacher, and affirmed their passion for Wicked and West Side Story. Kurt even beat his roommate in some competition, hitting that impossible high note in Defying Gravity. “That is some serious countertenor muscle.”
Kurt rolls his eyes, “You know, that guy didn’t even know what a countertenor is?” He motions at a guy in a tight white t-shirt now chatting with Blaine’s former group of freshmen.
“And he goes to NYADA?”
Kurt laughs, “He doesn’t, actually. He apparently just comes to check out the new ummm,” Kurt looks at him coyly, “merchandise.”
Blaine nods. “I see.” He looks over at white shirt. The guy is definitely hot in that Frat Boi Physicals website kind of muscle-y way. Not that he goes on there very often. But sometimes. “And he was checking you out?”
“I guess.” Kurt shrugs. But Kurt is over here talking to him and not being scouted by white shirt.
“So no?” Blaine doesn’t want to be the thing stopping Kurt from having his fun. Not everyone is just here to make friends. Blaine knows that. Obviously.
“Blaine, he doesn’t know what a countertenor is,” Kurt huffs and smiles at him. Like they’re sharing a secret. He definitely smiles back. Okay.
“You know when I asked you where home was earlier, I actually meant NYADA home. You were on your way back to Beethoven, right?”
“Oh! Oh right.” Kurt blushes. “I guess I’m still here. But I should probably-” Kurt looks unsure. Shit. Blaine thinks he’s trying to get rid of him. Maybe he thinks Blaine wants a chance with white t-shirt. Oh god.
“No. I meant I was about to make my way back to Mozart too - So if we’re going the same way?” Kurt looks relieved. And maybe happy.
“Oh yeah. Of course. I live in Sondheim house, just five minutes that way.”
“Oh great! I live next dorm over in Holzman house.” Kurt looks pink and happy. Much happier than when he was listening to Cassie’s escapades. Happier than when he first turned around on his way out. Blaine’s definitely glad he came tonight. Every gay kid from small town America needs other gay friends. And now he’s finally in New York. And it’s happening. “Shall we?”
Kurt knows this scene from every coming of age movie ever. He feels like he’s looking down on it through the lens of the camera, the director who knows where the story goes.
The walk back to their dorms is unexpectedly connected. Better than the banter in the gym about glee clubs, and certainly better than being teased by ‘big sister’ lesbians. Kurt has always loved being an only child, anyways.
“I’m sure it wasn’t intentional but the whole vibe of streamers and punch in a gym gives me high school dance déjà vu,” Blaine says and shudders.
“I know. Nothing like memories of 7-minute long hard rock ballad slow dances to make the only out gay kid in Ohio feel like a fish out of water.” Some of Kurt’s least favorite moments in high school happened at dances.
“You weren’t the only out gay kid in Ohio,” Blaine knocks his side. “There was at least one other in Westerville, slow dancing away with Julia from Crawford Country Day Academy.”
“You were out?” Kurt is pleased, if a bit intimidated. Despite Blaine’s slightly over the top but hot enough to get away with it, old school sense of traditional style, Kurt figures that Blaine could likely pass. Especially in a school with uniforms. He sees it in his easy way with people, his gentle masculinity. He might set off Kurt’s radar, but he also might set off Julia’s. But Blaine was out. At a boy’s school. Which makes Blaine proud, but also not totally green. At least not as green as Kurt. Being out and proud notwithstanding.
“Yeah. I was out,” Blaine sighs almost wistfully.
“Dalton Academy held its dances in gyms? I thought only public schools required tuxedos under basketball nets for their finest occasions.”
“I was actually at public school in freshman year. That’s when I came out. And dared to go to a Sadie Hawkins dance with the only other out gay kid in all of Ohio. Just a friend,” Blaine shrugs. “And we got beat up on our way out of the dolled up gym.” Oh shit.
“God, I’m so sorry, Blaine.”
“That’s how I ended up at Dalton.” Blaine turns to him, slowing their walk. “They were all “cool” with it,” Blaine makes air quotes. “Dalton has a serious no bullying policy that no one dared challenge. So they’d quip with me about the hottest players in the NBA or whatever natural frame of reference they were comfortable with. But that was it, really. Nobody else was out. But it was fine, I guess.” Blaine turns back forward and puts his hands in his pockets.
“I was voted Prom Queen,” Kurt blurts.
Blaine raises his eyebrows, “You mean Prom King? That’s great-”
“No.” Kurt puts his hand on Blaine’s arm, looking at him. “I mean Prom Queen. By write in ballot. A secret school wide ploy to bully the gay kid.”
“Oh my god,” Blaine is shaking his head. “Oh my god.”
“It was junior prom. I’m over it,” Kurt dismisses. But only because Blaine doesn’t.
“I’m not,” Blaine is indignant. “I’m not a vengeful guy but I’d love to plot some kind of-”
“I figure that I got into NYADA in New York City, and most of them are hamhocks filling gas in Lima,” Kurt smirks. “And when I make my broadway debut, they’re all getting front row tickets. Of course.”
“Touché.” Blaine knocks his side again but stays there as they walk in tandem. A step closer as they turn and Kurt’s dorm building looms in front of them. “Oh!” Blaine smiles at him and looks up. “This is Sondheim house - ”
“My new home,” Kurt finishes the sentence, turning to face him. Blaine’s hands are still in his pockets and he’s swinging on the balls of his feet. Kurt looks at him face to face. This guy is cute. Seriously cute. Warm hazel eyes. Jet black hair. A penchant for the dapper. And they clearly have things in common. But they just met an hour ago. The script for a successful romance always leaves you longing for more the next day.
“I should probably let you-”
“Do you want to come up to-” Kurt says overtop Blaine. He says it too quickly, too shyly, he’s looking at the ground. The bravest seven words ever spoken in the most self-evident unfinished sentence. Or the stupidest. Blaine doesn’t need to know how green he is. Just another Saturday night, right?
“Okay.” Blaine nods, surprised. “Okay.”
Blaine steps in the door to the regal Sondheim house - wood panels, red velvet couches, and a real grand piano gracing the lobby. He makes a mental note to come back another day for the piano alone. It’s so inviting but the sitting room lobby is relatively empty -only three students cozied up, paper loose around them, presumably studying for some quiz or mid-term.
“My room looks something like that,” Kurt motions at the students buried under paper. “Just warning you. I wasn’t expecting-” Kurt blushes, “Company.” Blaine blushes too but Kurt is already a step ahead of him.
This is also not what Blaine was expecting. It’s 10pm on Saturday night of the second week of school, so he wouldn’t expect to see lots of students indoors and studying. He’s sure the campus pubs and New York City clubs are brimming with NYADA’s finest. And he had heard Sondheim house was the most coveted of residences - old school charm with pianos and fireplaces, and it fits the image. He just wouldn’t expect to be here at all. With a guy he just met an hour ago.
Blaine realizes his willful blindness - obviously. He spent years closing himself off from attraction - except late at night with the occasional illicit website (but not tumblr, of course). He was more focused on being popular than being hot. Or meeting him. Hot doesn’t live in Westerville, Ohio, anyways. At least not for him. Blaine never wanted his friends to get the wrong idea. He’s not even sure they would have cared - they were good guys - but keeping any attraction to himself was better than testing the alternative. He’d see Dave in the locker room, towel around his waist, and before he would take it off while mid-sentence about their physics test, Blaine would stop the conversation, exit the locker room, talk about Dave’s girlfriend. Nothing to worry about here.
But obviously the first Queer NYADA mixer of the year is not the boys’ locker room at Dalton Academy. It was easier not to think about the reality that this is the context he’s been waiting for - New York City, queer kids, Saturday night. Though thinking of Kurt tonight and his smile and their easy conversation and Kurt’s slight blush when they left together, he wonders what he was afraid of all those years. You don’t like the guy? Don’t go up with him.
Blaine follows Kurt through the hallway and up the first set of stairs. “I’m just on the third floor, so stairs okay?”
Julia, his date from Crawford Day, told him that he’s sexy when he sings. She had blurted out the compliment in her disappointment that he plays for the other team. Sex on a stick, she said. He even kind of knows what she means (though he’d never admit it). Music opens him, gets all of him - mind, body, heart. Even if he doesn’t really know, he figures he can fake sexy when he’s performing. But there was no stage tonight and here he is, following Kurt-in-skinny-jeans up to his room. They’re awkwardly quiet as they walk up. Or maybe it isn’t awkward at all.
It’s not that he didn’t think about it at the gym mixer - He noticed Kurt in his white plastered jeans and high fashion clothes, and he noticed Kurt’s eyes, and pink smile, and his ass. But Blaine went to a school of all boys - many of them Lacrosse players - he’s seen hot people before. Attraction never meant potential. It meant the opposite - a warning to put it away in a figurative tupperware to be opened only in the privacy of his own room in front of his computer. Tonight there is Kurt’s smile, and red cheeks, and an open door. Blaine breathes out and his attraction lingers as he looks.
Kurt is hot. Definitely his type. He thinks. They are in the same program at an excellent school and love musicals and New York City and not Ohio. They are in the same music history class. Which could be a total disaster on Monday morning. But Kurt obviously worries less about this stuff than he does because here they are. Kurt’s key in the door. He may be inexperienced, but he’s not naive. He knows hook ups are no big deal. Kurt knows hook ups are no big deal. He’s wanted this for so long. A hot guy. His age. Smart.
Kurt clicks open the door to his room. “Here it is. Home sweet home.” Kurt holds open the door to let him in.
“Is there a password to enter?” Blaine quips as he steps inside.
“Countertenor,” Kurt answers coyly. The door clicks shut. “You’re in.”
Kurt steals a glance at Blaine whose eyes seem to twinkle with amusement. He is being amusing, but there is truth to it. Here he is, in his own room with Blaine. Not with Matt-the-gym-bunny who may have very well accepted an invitation. Not that he would have ever even imagined inviting him. Or anyone at all. And yet here he is entering the world from which he was always excluded.
Kurt knows nothing has to happen. He could show Blaine his view of the next building over, yawn, and call it a night. He could tell him that Beethoven calls and he better finish the assignment or risk the dry wrath of Mr. Goldstein. The possibilities are endless, really.
“Allow me to give you a tour of my cubicle?” Kurt sets down his jacket and scarf and gestures around his room.
Kurt isn’t sure that Blaine wants something to happen. He is also not sure that Blaine doesn’t want something to happen. Or what that something would look like. Not like that - He’s not completely innocent. Despite his distaste for jacked muscles and oversized penises built by testosterone pills, and for explicit content devoid of any romance, he’s still watched Queer As Folk. Three times. Best of both worlds. There was a lot of love in that little soap opera. And a lot of sex.
Kurt has no idea what the script is tonight but he wants to be here, in this moment, in his room in New York City, with a cute guy with sparkling eyes and good taste in musicals who knows how awful Ohio can be. Kurt wants this. Even if he is mildly terrified.
Blaine laughs as he twirls 360 degrees. “I think I’ve seen it all.” Twirling is inherently cute. Unfair.
“Are you mocking my luxurious single room in this historical residence?”
“Definitely not,” Blaine places his jacket on Kurt’s desk chair and sits. Kurt sits down on his bed facing him. “I envy your privacy. Though my roommate, Sam, seems like a good guy. Didn’t you say you had a roommate that beat you in a singing competition?”
“Oh Rachel? She lives next door. She insists she’s my future roommate when we move out of the dorms next year but for now, there’s at least a wall between us. Thankfully.”
“Thankfully,” Blaine repeats, smiling shyly underneath his eyelashes. There’s a quiet pause that feels loaded but before Kurt has a chance to get nervous, Blaine turns quickly to face Kurt’s decorated bulletin board and starts asking questions.
“Is that your Glee club?”
“That’s the playbill from the Lima Community Theatre production of Rent, right? I saw that!”
“Oh stage combat class first thing on Monday morning. That’s brutal.”
Thirty minutes later and Kurt feels like Blaine might be able to re-tell his life story. He doesn’t usually talk this much about himself but Blaine keeps asking and talking and wondering and apparently isn’t just trying to get him naked. At least as of right now Blaine is still sitting on his desk chair and smiling and laughing, bow tie still tied tightly around his neck. Blaine knew about Rachel Berry and the famous cracked eggs incident orchestrated by desperate Vocal Adrenaline. Blaine had also heard about the never ending rivalry between Mr. Schuester and Coach Sue, and Coach Sue’s attempts to win over the nun Judge with Christian hymns at the regionals competition. Blaine did not know, though, that Kurt had been a cheerio. Briefly.
“Oh my god, please tell me you have a picture-”
“I certainly do not,” Kurt huffs. Not a chance. “Not my finest week.”
“I bet you look hot.” Blaine bites his lower lip as soon as he says it. Kurt looks down as his heart picks up but hears Blaine breathe in like he took himself by surprise. So is this happening?
Blaine stands up and points to a photo on the shelf above Kurt’s bed. “Hummel Tires and Lube? Should I ask?”
“My dad’s tire shop,” Kurt answers, grateful for the tension break. Again.
“I guess that should have been obvious.” Blaine sits down on the bed, one leg up, facing Kurt. “And you’re probably going to tell me to get my dirty mind out of the gutter.” Blaine is blushing and shaking his head and Kurt wants to laugh because this mistaken innuendo is hardly a fatal flaw.
Blaine is sitting there, on his bed, in a fitted mustard and brown plaid button down shirt and complimentary forest green bow tie. His jeans are a perfect brown match and his hair is jet black gelled back, Cary Grant-esque. And he hasn’t stopped asking Kurt all about himself. Kurt is sure that this guy, now six inches from his face, has never even seen a gutter. Although he’s pretty sure he has seen the inside of a cute guy’s bedroom before - the move from desk to bed was notably flawless. Kurt takes a deep breath and hopes that Blaine can’t hear him shudder on the exhale. “I can appreciate a sharp mind temporarily in the gutter.” Kurt hopes his acting classes are helping him pass off the false flirty confidence. Well, genuine flirty but false confidence.
Blaine’s eyes have that surprised amusement again. “Really?” Blaine pauses. The tension is crackling again. Kurt sits with it and wills himself not to break it with talk of car engines and summer jobs. “So it’s okay if-?” The question lingers and Kurt nods his head just slightly, trying to keep eye contact. Blaine doesn’t deflect this time.
“Yeah.” Kurt answers. “Yes.”
He closes his eyes and Blaine kisses him. Once. On the mouth. Tentatively. “Yes?” Blaine repeats but it’s a question.