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The Arrangement

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Blaine touches his bow tie to verify it still rests straight, runs one hand over his hair, and checks his reflection in the smeared glass panes of the door. Then he presses the buzzer near the building's entrance. It's a turn of the previous century brick warehouse with wide arched windows, cleaned up and converted into loft apartments—not the sort of place Blaine would normally consider within his rental budget. In his pocket is the clipping with the ad that caught his attention:

25yo SGM creative professional seeking interpersonally compatible SGM for unique roommate arrangement in spacious sunny Brooklyn loft near the Navy Yard. Rent highly negotiable. Must be DDF. Serious inquires only to itsgotbette.kh@gmail.com.

'Unique arrangement' and 'highly negotiable' had caught Blaine's attention. His quest for an affordable summer rental in New York both larger and better appointed than a rat-infested breadbox had him widening his search to include the long shots, no matter how far outside his budget they might initially seem.

He'd e-mailed a brief inquiry, including his budget and—if his budget were workable within the bounds of negotiable—a request for more information about the unique arrangement. Blaine gave a brief description of himself too: 21, heading into his third year as a musical theater student at NYADA. He wants to spend the summer in the city preparing for his classes in the fall instead of heading back to Ohio.

The response he got, from a man named Kurt Hummel, detailing the arrangement, was not remotely what Blaine expected. Instead of a greater share of household chores or cooking, Blaine received candid details of a very specific, very personal service in exchange for nominal rent. Blaine read Kurt's email ten times—along with some linked websites explaining the reasons for the requirements Kurt has due to a rare anxiety-related disorder that benefits from regular, intimate hands-on management.

The end of Kurt's email read, "My work is in fashion and fashion journalism and I've loved musical theater my whole life, so I think we could be a good fit as roommates. I keep a well-ordered clean space, and I'm very particular about keeping it that way. My neighbors are quiet, and my building doesn't allow pets. Will the latter be an issue? Probably not if you've been living in the NYADA dorms. Unless you have a goldfish, which I could probably accommodate.

"But I'm getting ahead of myself, I want to be clear that this is not an arrangement for casual recreational sex, but for reliable service in managing my condition. If you're not alarmed by the content of this email, please reply with a recent photograph and a little more about yourself. I've attached a photo of me taken last week so you can see I'm not a hideous troll."

There was a note after Kurt's signature: "P.S. I'm from Ohio too!"

It left Blaine smiling, and when Blaine finally summoned the gumption to open Kurt's photograph he found, no, Kurt was not a hideous troll.

Blaine then had sat on the bed in his dorm room with his laptop propped on his bent legs. He looked at Kurt’s e-mail side-by-side with his photograph for a few hours, caught between the strangeness of the situation and a surfacing of his own curiosity. And as he considered it, he found his curiosity morphing into desire. It settled a warm beckoning in his belly, and Blaine decided—impulsively, but not recklessly, he hoped—to indulge it. He wrote back to Kurt that evening, expressing his tentative interest in Kurt’s proposal. He attached a photo from his phone, one Sam had taken of him before his Spring showcase performance.

Less than an hour later, Blaine had a reply: a complimentary comment from Kurt on his photograph, including appreciation of his Brooks Brothers blazer and bow tie, and an invitation to come by, see the apartment, and meet in person the coming Sunday afternoon. Blaine wrote back promptly and said yes.

And now, here he is. The door buzzes and clicks unlocked. Blaine goes inside, walks past the bank of mail boxes and the caged door of the freight elevator to take the stairs. Sam's waiting for him at a nearby cafe. He's promised to text Blaine in twenty minutes to check in. Kurt seemed nice enough in email, but Blaine figures it's always wise to be safe. He and Sam are going to have lunch and check out the sights of the Navy Yard after.

When Blaine knocks, Kurt answers promptly, and—oh.

Blaine stands up straighter, and his heart skips its next beat. Kurt's photo is a poor representation of reality. He's more immediately striking in person, long-legged and slender with a sharp jaw and pretty features. His eyes are blue like sunlit ocean, his skin fair but for a faint scatter of freckles across his nose, and his thick chestnut hair is swept up in a glamorously disheveled pompadour. Blaine could write a sonnet.

That Kurt works in fashion is evident. He’s dressed in narrow trousers with a bold gray and white chevron pattern and a high collared short-sleeved shirt in sky blue pin-stripe. A colorful neckerchief is knotted snug at the base of his throat. It’s a polished look for a summer Sunday, and Blaine’s glad that he’s not the only one who may’ve dressed up.

And Blaine should be saying something, not simply standing there blinking in pleasure at the sight. At least, judging by the slow spread of Kurt's smile and the rise of his lovely eyebrows, Kurt's pleased by what he sees too.

"Hi!" Blaine extends his hand. "I'm Blaine."

"Kurt." Kurt takes Blaine's hand into a warm grip. "Obviously." His smile kinks flirtatiously, and his gaze flicks down the length of Blaine and back up to his face. "Come in, Blaine, please."

It's blessedly cooler in Kurt's apartment. Wide wooden Venetian blinds span the broad old warehouse windows; they’re angled to let in the light but keep the direct afternoon sun out. Ceiling fans spin lazily, suspended from the high angled ceiling. Exposed brick and steel i-beams are softened by a distressed wooden floor under a glossy layer of thick varnish. Kurt's decorated the airy living space in an eclectic mix of 1930's deco accented by exotic pieces of international traveler flare. On the dining table rests a shiny apple green sewing machine and an open laptop along with bolts of fabric and stacks of magazines, folios, and sketchbooks.

They make polite chitchat about Blaine's journey from Manhattan. Kurt gestures toward the seating area while he heads back toward the open kitchen. Blaine sets his satchel on the floor, slips his phone from his breast pocket to make sure the volume is on but low, and takes a seat on an elegant birch sofa. The lines of it, with its champagne velvet upholstery, look like something straight out of old Hollywood. The Persian rug spread at an angle on the wood floor is an intricately patterned maroon, ivory, and gold. Upon it, what appears to be a vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunk serves as a coffee table. It's either genuine or an excellent reproduction. Living here would certainly be an upgrade from the NYADA dorms.

"I should tell you, I've never actually tried something like this before," Kurt says from the kitchen. In contrast to the rest of the living area, it’s entirely modern. The counters and the appliances are stainless steel, the cabinets sleek bamboo, and the backsplash a mosaic of glass tiles in soft blues and greens. A quintet of potted herbs squat on the wide island separating the cooking area from the living room. Kurt brings two cobalt blue bottles of chilled water back from the fridge. "Mostly, I've had boyfriends, and between boyfriends, a few generous friends and, uh—" Kurt grimaces before continuing, "willing strangers? Which is not ideal for me. I've been between boyfriends for a while now, so I'm trying something new." Kurt passes Blaine one of the bottles and sits in a leather armchair on the other side of the trunk.

"Thank you," Blaine says and he uncaps the water.

"Anyway," Kurt says, "my hope is to find an arrangement that's more reliable, less stressful, and mutually beneficial. My insurance doesn't cover hands-on sex therapy."

"It definitely sounds like a challenge," Blaine says, smiling politely. What might Kurt be thinking of him? What kind of person must he be to respond to such a proposition? "Um, for what it's worth," Blaine says, "I've never done anything like this before either. I've only had one serious boyfriend that ended in a painful break up. I went through a rough patch after that, some really unfortunate rebounds and other bad decisions. I put dating and romance on the back burner to focus on myself and my studies. I haven't really been with anyone for several months."

"Oh? No hook ups?"

"There were a few, through, uh, Grindr? A while ago now, but it's... none of them were encounters I'd care to repeat. It wasn't really my thing, not nearly as exciting as what I'd made up in my head."

Kurt nods and his smile turns sympathetic. "Yeah, I am definitely familiar with those small heartbreaks," he says. "Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I prefer—even with my issues—someone I'll still want to spend time with afterward. And someone who won't call me Kent or Carl during." Kurt's smile slants into a wry grin and there's a glint of humor in his eyes.

Blaine laughs. "Well, if you decide to offer me your spare room, I promise to remember your name, and I'll do my best to be worth spending time with after," he says, and then he closes his mouth, because that was maybe too much to say so soon. He's just got here. He shouldn't assume.

But Kurt is unfazed—seems pleased even. "So you are interested then?"

"Yeah, I think so? Your apartment is gorgeous, Kurt, and so are— That is, uh, I don't know how to say I find you attractive without it sounding creepy and opportunistic. Am I being creepy?"

"No, god, no, believe me, I've had enough experience that my creep-o-meter is a highly sensitive instrument. You, Blaine, are definitely not a creep, and I also find you attractive. You seem sweet. Some of the guys who answered my ad were demonstrably none of those things."

"Good to know. I can add that to my CV. Attractive and not a creep. Possibly sweet?"

Now Kurt laughs. "Did you want to see the room before you consider making any rash decisions?"

"I'd love to," Blaine says, and he winces at his own enthusiasm. He sets his water bottle on a sandstone coaster and stands with Kurt. Fortunately, Kurt still seems charmed as he leads Blaine back to where one end of the loft has been partitioned into two generously sized bedrooms and a single shared bathroom at the end of the hall. Kurt leads him into one of the bedrooms.

It's sparsely furnished, just a double bed made up with a gray striped bedspread, a small 3-drawer night stand, and a free standing clothes rack, which is half full of bagged clothing. Nothing adorns the walls and the tall arched window is dressed with plain calico curtains that filter the light into softness.

"Do you have much furniture of your own?" Kurt asks.

"Oh, not much, mostly just a chair and a keyboard," Blaine says. "I can get my parents to send my desk and dresser from home."

"Sure," Kurt says. "There's obviously room here for you to add your own touches. I have a spare floor lamp you could use, and maybe a bookshelf too? I know all the good flea markets in the city and the best antique shops upstate for good deals. I can help you find some good pieces if you want to shop for anything."

"That sounds like fun." Blaine says, and his phone dings. "Oh," he says, reaching into his pocket for it. Twenty minutes went quickly. "Excuse me, I need to check this, I'm meant to be meeting a friend for lunch."

Kurt nods and waits while Blaine replies to Sam. "He's nice and the apt is amazing," Blaine types. "Not sure how much longer, I'll text when I'm omw. If you don't hear from me in 40, pls call back."

"Sorry about that," Blaine says to Kurt.

"Don't be," Kurt says. "Do you have any other questions before you go? Personal or logistical?"

"Actually I was wondering about a couple things," Blaine says. "But I'm not sure what might be too personal?"

"If it's about sex, it's on the table, Blaine. This is a very personal arrangement, after all. Ask me anything."

Blaine chuckles and nods. "So, um, I'm guessing that masturbation doesn't work for you?"

"Ah," Kurt says, and he gestures for Blaine to precede him back into the hallway. "It helps sometimes? God knows I've relied on it enough in the past, but it rarely satisfies for long? It can aggravate the compulsion over time, so, I prefer sex with a partner rather than flying solo."

"Okay," Blaine says. "That, yeah, that makes sense to me." They head back to the living room. He presses his lips together and considers his next question. They pause to stand at the end of the hall, surveying the open space, and Blaine imagines himself living here. It feels good to imagine it. He also tries to imagine sex with Kurt, which his brain offers up as a sweaty breathless montage of unspecific naked writhing that makes him flush hot. He turns back to face to Kurt, and hopes his face isn't as red as it feels. "Can I ask you, uh, how often you need it to manage your, um—?"

Kurt leans against the corner of the white plastered wall. "How many times a day do I need sex?"

"Yes," Blaine says.

"Usually, at least four—including overnight. I haven't been able to sleep an uninterrupted eight hours since I was fifteen. Ideally, I try to keep a schedule, but it's not always that predictable—or practical. And sometimes I need to come more than once to get any relief. I don't have much of a refractory period." Kurt glances down at the end of it. It doesn't look like discomfort, but Blaine's got little frame of reference for this sort of conversation. Maybe Kurt's just waiting for Blaine, letting him decide.

"Okay," Blaine says slowly. Four times a day, including providing multiple orgasms on occasion is a lot, but not outside the realm of what he's capable of. He's young, has a healthy sex drive of his own. There was that weekend back during his senior year when he was with Sebastian. They must've gotten each other off a dozen times or more over the two days his parents were out of town. Kurt's sexy enough, Blaine can't imagine his own attraction or interest being a barrier. "I could keep up with that."

"Not that I'd expect you to come every time I need to," Kurt says. "Sometimes a hand job will do."

"Right," Blaine says, and his heart thumps harder at the thought of it. Specific words for what Kurt may want from him: the reason why he's here, ultimately. Potentially. To have sex with Kurt several times a day, and that includes—at the very least—giving him a hand job. It's not an unappealing thought.

Kurt smiles and tilts his head, peering at Blaine curiously. "So is this too weird yet?"

"No, it's—surprisingly enough—not too weird," Blaine reassures. "It's maybe exactly the right amount of weird for me." Blaine smiles. "I appreciate your frankness."

"Oh," Kurt says. "That reminds me, I have my most recent STD test results for you. I'm clean."

"I brought mine, as you asked. All clean here, too."

"Great," Kurt says, and their eyes catch and hold for a long moment. Heat grows in Kurt's gaze, and, as Blaine looks, he sees more: Kurt's sincere politeness fractured by a well-contained desperation. There's nothing threatening though, rather it tugs at Blaine, tempts him, makes him want to know it, find out how to ease it.

At least four times a day, Kurt said. Since he was fifteen. Blaine doesn't know how long it's been since Kurt's last orgasm, but he's willing to bet that whatever urge Kurt has to satisfy, it's present now and growing, because what they've been talking about isn't something abstract. Plus, it's been a while since Blaine's been intimate with anyone. Alluring as Kurt is, Blaine has to know if he can do this before he commits to anything. He moistens his lips before he speaks. "Would you like me to... do anything for you now? I could... audition?"

Kurt's mouth comes open with a sharp intake of breath. He blinks. "Are you saying you want to? Now?"

"I do," Blaine says. "I mean, if you do. I don't want to make a decision about this until I know we're compatible. Sexually. I need to know if I can give you what you need."

"Oh, god. Of course, Blaine. I should have thought of that. But I didn't want to presume or end up being a creep myself. I was going to take care of it after you left. But, um, that's... smart. Actually. So, yes, please. If you like." Kurt steps back into the hall, heading back toward the open door to the other bedroom.

Blaine follows, keeping his attention on Kurt. In the stifled low light of Kurt's room, Blaine can't make out much detail beyond dim furniture shapes and art on the walls. The window here is draped in black-out curtains to keep the heat of the sun out. There’s only a razor thin break between their hang. It strikes a bright broken blade across the bed and floor. But there's enough light coming in from the hall to illuminate Kurt clearly as he moves back and pauses to stand by the end of the bed. He pulls the hem of his shirt free of his waistband. His smile for Blaine is encouraging, but pinched with nervousness. His hands tremble.

Which makes it hard not to think about how many times Kurt's had to ask others for this, not just boyfriends, but friends and strangers. He wonders how many people would have taken advantage of him or been unkind. Blaine's unsure what he counts as. A friendly stranger? Some kind of personal sexual attendant? Certainly the latter if he does this right. He wants to do this right. For however it ends up, Blaine doesn't want to make any of it awkward for Kurt, and he definitely hopes to give him the satisfaction he needs. So Blaine rallies more confidence than he's strictly feeling. He moves in close enough to touch Kurt's upper arm with querying fingertips. "Tell me what you'd like me to do?"

"Right now," Kurt says as his fingers work shakily down his button placket and his biceps flex beneath Blaine's hand, "Anything that'll get the job done, so whatever you're most comfortable with will be fine."

"Okay," Blaine says. Kurt shrugs off his shirt, leaving him in just a thin white cotton tee that clings to his slim torso, his hands go to his belt, unfastening it with enough urgency, that Blaine makes his decision quickly. He drops to his knees, and gently slips his hands under Kurt's to take over unbuttoning the fly of Kurt's trousers. "Do you want to sit down or lie down?"

"No," Kurt says with a ragged exhale, "this works for me. May I touch your head?"

"Yeah," Blaine says, "Go ahead."

Without mussing it, Kurt smooths over his hair with both hands, and his fingertips come to rest, fanned across the back of Blaine's skull and neck. It feels nice—tantalizing—but Blaine keeps his attention on opening Kurt's pants and reaching into his underwear to draw out his cock. It’s just as lovely as the rest of him, and it’s so hot, already pulsing steel hard within the curl of Blaine’s hand. Blaine keeps breathing through his nervous arousal, tries to take care with himself and his reaction lest he be inappropriate in his enthusiasm. It has been a while, and the desire to put his mouth on Kurt is a restless hunger twisting up in his chest.

The sex scent of Kurt, so naked and close, intoxicates; inexorably it draws Blaine in to drag his nose and parted lips up the length of Kurt's cock, over the silky skin up to the head; he breathes out a soft moan and slips his tongue over as he kisses, catches a salty bead of precome. Kurt shivers and sighs and keeps petting carefully over his hair.

Still, Blaine has to remind himself, they're not making love. This is a service for Kurt. Blaine may enjoy himself, but the focus is Kurt's getting off. Blaine closes his lips around the smooth head of Kurt's cock and slips and curls his tongue along the underside.

Kurt's hands spasm against his scalp, and Blaine tugs his pants open wider and works them down Kurt's hips while he sucks Kurt's dick farther into his mouth. Steadily, he sinks down around the thick weight of it, opening his throat as best he can to take Kurt in deep, before reversing and sliding back up, with his tongue pressing and lingering where it's most sensitive, then sinking down again, exhaling with a moan as he goes. The twinge in his jaw reminds him that he's out of practice, but his body remembers how to do this.

"Oh, holy hell," Kurt says, and his whole body shudders gorgeously. "You’re good at this."

Kurt’s praise is a thrill. Blaine slides his hands around to Kurt's ass and up farther to the small of his back, flexing his fingers to encourage Kurt to move if he wants to. But Kurt's a perfect gentleman; he strokes only light encouragement over Blaine's hair, and keeps his hips still. The only demand he makes is a soft verbal request: "Faster, please?"

Blaine complies, and beneath his hands, the tension in Kurt's muscles builds rapidly; Kurt's breath rasps frantically. It's not long before Kurt's fingers are twitching in his hair and Kurt's gritting out, "I'm so close, oh— You don't have to swallow."

But Blaine just sucks harder and speeds up, digs his fingers into the top curve of Kurt's ass, and holds him deep and firm as his body seizes up and he comes.

Breathless, Blaine withdraws carefully and swallows. He makes sure to catch any lingering bursts of semen as he eases off, makes sure he leaves Kurt clean and shining.

"God," Kurt sighs. "Blaine, that was... god."

It takes a moment for Blaine to tamp down his own arousal and blink his head clear. He keeps his gaze lowered. The way his heartbeat hammers in his chest and aches at his groin, it hasn't been this hot for him for a while, just blowing another guy. Doing this for someone who's really into what he's doing, not just using him as a convenient and willing orifice? Which, to be fair, may be exactly what this is for Kurt, but the way Kurt's hands are still on him, petting and soothing, it feels like genuine appreciation and gratitude. Blaine's forgotten how good that feels.

Kurt laughs softly, drawing Blaine's attention up. "Thank you. That was amazing, the best blow job I've had in—let's just say, a while," Kurt says. He offers Blaine a hand up. "How about you, do you need anything?"

"I'll be fine, Kurt," Blaine says, smoothing his slacks down his thighs. He wants to reassure Kurt that he understands this isn't about his own pleasure. He's not simply using this meeting as an opportunity to get himself off. "Unless there's something more I can do for you?"

Kurt's bottom lip catches between his teeth and the look he gives Blaine is both intrigued and eager. "Then," he says, "If you're comfortable with it, I'd like to see your body, if I may?"

"Yeah, sure, of course," Blaine says, and he returns Kurt's smile. The request is absolutely reasonable, and Blaine's not modest enough to decline on principle. He even feels a little bit like showing off. Kurt's praise has him high with more than sexual arousal. It's been too long since anyone's looked at him like this. Blaine unknots his tie and unbuttons his shirt while Kurt sits on the edge of the bed and watches him with wide eyes and flushed cheeks. His pants are still open, and Blaine can't help but notice his erection has not diminished at all.

Blaine slips off his shirt and pulls his undershirt over his head. Kurt scoots back onto the bed and stretches a hand out to flick on the bedside lamp. Then he turns his attention back to Blaine as Blaine unbuttons his pants.

"Do you like anal?" Kurt asks, quietly and a little breathless, with his gaze ticking down to Blaine's cock as it bounces free of Blaine's underwear, flushed dark, blood heavy and thick. Kurt's lips part.

"I do," Blaine says, and he wraps a loose fist around his shaft, slides down to show himself to Kurt.

"Preference?" Kurt asks, unblinking as he stares at Blaine's dick.

"I like it both ways," Blaine says, and he lets go of himself before he ends up stroking himself in indulgence of his own vanity. This shouldn't be as hot as it is; it should be a little weird, right? But the way Kurt's looking at him, like Blaine might just be the solution to all his problems, is mind-numbingly compelling. And the question itself summons up such wonderful possibilities.

Kurt exhales a relieved sound. "Versatile, good. Me too. It helps to have options, I find." Then he glances back up to Blaine's face. "May I see your ass?"

"Yes," Blaine says. Slowly he turns his back to Kurt, but looks over his shoulder at him.

"Um, may I please touch you?" Kurt asks; he slides across the bed and stands.

"Yes," Blaine says, and he watches Kurt approach him, the intention in Kurt's gaze simmers under Blaine's skin.

When Kurt gets close enough to touch he looks down, and then both of his hands are reverent on Blaine's backside. It's more intimate than Blaine was expecting—or more sooner, he amends—but certainly welcome. He shivers as Kurt's thumbs slide inward to gently tug his cheeks apart. Kurt's breath stirs the fine hairs on the side of Blaine's neck. "Would you bend over for me, please, Blaine?" he asks, low and hot and sweet.

The words and the confident desire with which Kurt says them send another shiver up Blaine's spine. "Oh god, yes, okay," Blaine whispers, because he’s pretty sure he knows where this is headed. Then he turns forward, takes a step, and bends over, finding a hand hold on the back of the chair at Kurt's vanity. He doesn't look up to catch his reflection in its mirror. Instead he closes his eyes and breathes. Kurt's hands hold him open and Blaine can feel the weight of his attention, knows exactly where it's focused. He steps his feet apart and dips his spine down to push his ass up. "Do you want to fuck me now, Kurt?" he asks, soft enough that it's both invitation and plea. Wants Kurt to know he’s both willing and wanting. "Show me what it'll be like? Find out if I'll be good for you?"

A long pause follows wherein Kurt alternates the motion of his thumbs, stroking the tender skin between Blaine's buttocks. "May I?"

"Yes," Blaine says, and part of him is aware that, even if this doesn't result in him coming to live with Kurt, this may well remain one of the most erotic moments of his life. He wants it so badly. He hopes Kurt does too. "I really want you to."

"I definitely want to," Kurt says, and he lets go of Blaine. "Please, stay... just like that?"

Kurt rummages in his nightstand behind Blaine, and Blaine doesn't look, just holds himself patient and ready for Kurt. His skin prickles for want of contact, and he imagines he can feel the eddies in the room's air billow and compress with Kurt's proximity to him. And then blessedly, Kurt is back, touching his sacrum with a light hand.

Prep is thorough. Kurt works into him with two skillful fingers and plenty of lube, and when Blaine's about ready to pass out from the unfulfilled craving for more, and his throat is scratchy from gasping out harsh needful whimpers, Kurt pulls his fingers free and replaces them with his latex covered cock.

Kurt presses in, three easy pushes that stretch Blaine's body right to the perfect verge of too much. It has him lifting up to his toes, calves straining. "Jesus," Blaine says as the sensation ripples up his nerves and scatters over his skin. It's been so long, and the fit and fill of Kurt's cock is glorious. Better than any memory he has of previous lovers.

"Okay?" Kurt asks between panting breaths, not moving except to rub up Blaine's spine with one hand while securing his hip with the other. "It's not too much?"

"Mmm, no," Blaine says; his body trembles with eager welcome. "You feel fantastic. It's perfect."

"I think I like you," Kurt says, "Blaine." And he pulls back, pushes in, nice even strokes, not too fast, and the friction sizzles along Blaine's nerves right up to his scalp. "I want to make this good for you, too," Kurt says, "as often as I can." He works his cock in and out of Blaine's ass with the attentive concentration of someone who's familiar with being on the other end of the transaction. His thrusts shorten and tighten, and Blaine’s pleasure grows.

"You are... making it good," Blaine says. "You feel so good." Blaine shivers at the precise heavy press of Kurt's cock, how each drive in rouses such gorgeous twinges of electricity to climb his spine and make heat wind up deliciously tight in his belly. "Kurt," Blaine says. "It's so good."

"Can you come?" Kurt asks. "Like this?"

"Yes," Blaine says, "God, yes."

And he does, eventually, ecstatically, with Kurt's hands brutally tight on his hips and Kurt's cock grinding out a deep push-pulling rhythm in his ass.

"Still okay?" Kurt asks when the last of Blaine's climax shakes through him, and Kurt's ridden it out without coming himself.

"Yeah," Blaine says. "You can—just take whatever else you need."

"Fuck," Kurt says, "Just... hold on." His fingers flex over Blaine's hipbones; Kurt pulls back and then drives in hard, picking up with long, fast strokes that rock Blaine forward, nearly buckling his knees. Blaine grips the back of the chair in aching fists, grits his teeth, and shoves back to meet Kurt.

Kurt makes an ungodly sound when he comes, and he slumps, folding over Blaine's back, sweaty and gasping, his hips jerking and thrusting weakly through the aftershocks. "Oh my god," he mumbles against Blaine's spine. And then he laughs, equal parts relieved and happy. "You are most welcome to that room."

##

"Hey," Blaine says and he gives Sam a little wave as he enters the sun-washed cafe. He sits down opposite him at the tile topped table by the window. His iron chair has a leg out of alignment; it wobbles when he sits. He crosses his legs and shifts upon the hard seat to take the direct pressure of his ass. He’s not sore, but he still feels tender with how thoroughly Kurt worked him over.

"I was just about to call you when I got your text," Sam says.

"Sorry about that," Blaine says. "I kind of lost track of the time." Blaine pulls his bag over his head and puts it at his feet and then reaches for the carafe of water on the table to fill his glass.

He flicks his attention back to Sam, who's now staring at him with a tiny smile tugging the corner of his lips. "You had sex with him," Sam says.

"What?" Blaine asks, too loudly, then he runs a hand over his hair, verifies it's still neat, and leans forward to ask more quietly, "Do I smell of it or something?"

"I knew it." Sam nods with a smug smile. "I owe myself five bucks."

"Sam." Blaine laughs.

"Tell me I'm wrong."

"I can't," Blaine says, and a waitress brings them menus and takes away Sam's empty glass. Once she's gone, Blaine asks, "How can you tell?"

"I don't know, man, you just get this glow." Sam spreads and waggles the fingers of both hands either side of his head to illustrate. Bizarro jazz hands.

Blaine raises an eyebrow. "I get a glow?"

Sam nods again.

"Whatever you say," Blaine says, and he scans the menu. Decides on a pear, walnut, and gorgonzola salad.

"He didn't make you or anything though, right?" Sam asks.

"No, of course not. It was my idea actually. I wanted to be sure I could, you know? That I'd enjoy it with him. It wouldn't be fair otherwise."

"And judging by your glow." Sam makes the hand gesture again, and Blaine rolls his eyes. "You did enjoy it."

"Yes, I did," Blaine says, unfolding his napkin and smoothing it over his lap; he can't stop the grin stealing over his lips. "Quite a lot."

"I don't need details," Sam says, returning his grin. "So does this mean you'll be doing it? Moving in with this guy and doing the do to pay your rent?"

"You make it sound so seedy. It's really not like that."

"Okay, what's it like then?"

"He's not some pervert trying to take advantage of me. He's a nice, interesting and intelligent—and, yes, very attractive—guy who happens to have some unusual health requirements. And an amazing apartment. He said he got it the first year he was in the city, like six years ago? It was before the area really took off, and he's still got the place for the same lease agreement. He's done a lot of the renovations himself."

"And you like him too, right, not just the apartment?"

"I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't," Blaine says, and Sam seems to accept it.

"When do you move in?"

"This coming Saturday," Blaine says. "Kurt suggested we start with a trial rent-free first week, before my time at the dorms has expired."

"I'll give you a hand with the moving," Sam says. "I really want to meet this guy. He must be something special to have you smiling like that."

"Thanks, Sam," Blaine says. "This seems like it could maybe be a good thing?"

Chapter Text

That same evening, Blaine starts packing. Even though he’s not moving in with Kurt until the end of the week, there’s no sense not getting a head start on what he can. He’s wrapping up his old dressage trophies in the Sunday morning comics when, from where it rests on his desk, his phone screen lights up and the soft heartbeat drumming of his ringtone starts.

Blaine reaches over and grabs his phone, stares at the number of an unknown caller just as Freddie Mercury sings, ”Flash! Aa~ah. Ah!” Blaine answers, “Hello?”

“Hi, Blaine?” The voice is new on the end of his phone, but instantly familiar.

“Oh, hey, Kurt,” Blaine says. He shoves the stack of newspapers to the side and sits on his bed. Frowns a little though. Why would Kurt be calling him after nine? Hopes it’s not because Kurt’s changed his mind. “What’s up?”

“Um, I wanted to invite you to dinner on Friday,” Kurt says—and before Blaine can reply, he continues, “It’s a regular thing, a potluck with some friends at my place. There’s usually five or six of us, and I wondered if maybe you’d like to join us on the eve of your moving in? Meet everyone? You can bring a friend if you like.”

“Oh,” Blaine says, pleasantly surprised. “That sounds... really nice. Yes, I’d love to come.”

“Great! If you can, bring a dish—my friend Rachel is vegan, so if you accommodate that you’ll get extra credit, though there’s always more than enough for her to eat, so don’t stress over it. And it’s BYO, so bring whatever you like to drink.”

“Yeah, sure,” Blaine says. “I’m sure I can come up with something. Thank you for the invitation.”

“Great!” Kurt says again, “I’ll see you Friday then, 7:30ish?”

“I’ll look forward to it,” Blaine says, and then he immediately calls Sam to invite him too—and also ask if he can use the kitchen at the condo Sam shares with some other models in his agency. After that, Blaine goes online, scrolls through vegan recipe blogs to find a suitable summery dish to bring. He decides on a quinoa, black bean, and mango salad that’s not much more complicated than putting a bunch of stuff in a bowl.

It turns out to be as pretty as the photograph on the site where he found the recipe. Blaine makes Sam taste test it, and gets two thumbs up. On their way, Sam picks up a peach pie from a local bakery, and they go halves on a six pack of imported cider.

They arrive at Kurt’s closer to eight than 7:30, but Kurt invites them in warmly, clasping Sam’s hand with a smile and introducing himself.

The open space of Kurt’s loft is vibrant. The open windows let in a cooling breeze along with the wash of sodium orange sunset. Conversation and music coalesce into a welcoming jumble.

His friends are louder and more energetic than Blaine expected—or some of them are. Kurt introduces Sam and Blaine to everyone: Mercedes (working on her second studio album with an indy label), Artie (a film student at Brooklyn), Elliott and Dani (members of Kurt’s old Madonna cover band—which Blaine is sure must be a story), and finally—

“Rachel Berry,” she says extending a hand to Blaine. She’s smaller than Blaine expected her to be, but just as pretty as her photographs. He takes her hand and blinks in astonishment.

“Rachel Berry,” he repeats. “I’ve heard of you.”

She doesn’t seem surprised. “Oh, are you a fan, Blaine? Would you like an autograph?” she asks. “I wouldn’t usually on a night off like this, but I’m happy to make an exception for someone as charming as you are.”

“No, it’s fine, thank you,” Blaine says with a self-conscious chuckle, and he explains, “It’s just that, I’m a student at NYADA. You’re kind of...” Blaine doesn’t want to say notorious. Notorious for dropping out to play Fanny Brice for the past five years on Broadway? As if that’s a bad thing? “The best known not-quite-an-alum there.”

Rachel beams at him. “It’s a pleasure to meet a fellow aspiring thespian,” she says, and then she leans in and speaks comic-conspiratorially to him from the side of her mouth. “Is Carmen Tibideaux still a total hard ass?”

With a laugh, Blaine answers a definitive, “Yes, absolutely.”

They make small talk about the school, about its culture and its challenges. Blaine sees Sam has settled in the living room with Dani and Elliott, who’s pulled out a guitar. Artie mutes the stereo, and Elliott strums the energetic opening to George Michael’s “Faith” and Dani sings, ”Well I guess it would be nice, if I could touch your body!” while Sam nods along and drums on his thighs to add some percussion accompaniment.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen Mercedes lays out food, plates, and cutlery on the island while Kurt carries chairs from the dining room over to supplement the stools at the island.

“Excuse me,” Blaine says to Rachel and he goes to the kitchen to help.

Kurt’s smile for him is bright when Blaine joins him in moving the chairs. Seeing Kurt in motion, Blaine takes the opportunity to admire how good Kurt looks tonight in slim white jeans and a clingy turquoise t-shirt sporting a silhouette of a pole-dancing skeleton. Their eye contact sticks for a heartbeat too long. Blaine returns Kurt’s smile and glances away with a self-conscious flush. Behind them Elliott and Dani are harmonizing on, ”But I’ve got to think twice, before I give my heart away.”

After the song and a round of applause, everyone gathers in the kitchen to serve themselves and sit on the stools and chairs scattered around the island while they eat. Blaine perches between Rachel and Sam, listens and watches everyone else. He relaxes into the easy energy and rapport. Sam does a ridiculously over-dramatic impression of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men that gets everyone in hysterics. Blaine sees the way Mercedes looks at Sam, more restrained in her laughter but even more charmed in her regard—and Blaine notes the way Sam looks back and hams up his take on Tom Cruise in response.

It’s an atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie that Blaine’s not yet found in New York, but it’s one he’s longed for since coming: a community of fellow artists and performers. NYADA is so high pressure and competitive, no one ever relaxes like this together. Opportunities and talent are guarded too fiercely. If every Friday night will be like this? Blaine's even more excited to be moving in with Kurt tomorrow.

Once the meal is finished, Blaine stays in the kitchen and loads the dishwasher while Kurt covers the leftover food. It’s just the two of them, everyone else is in the living room, writing on scraps of paper which Rachel is folding and putting in a an old velvet top hat that Artie holds in his lap. Charades, Kurt tells him, is one of the typical after dinner games. The teams shaping up are Sam, Mercedes, and Artie against Elliott, Dani, and Rachel.

“I was wondering if I might impose upon your generosity tonight,” Kurt asks while Blaine squeezes the dishwasher liquid into its dispenser. Kurt’s hand rests warm on the small of his back, and Blaine straightens, curious.

Kurt’s gaze is hot and restless, but the twist of his mouth is hesitant and his hand falls away easily.

“Oh,” Blaine says. It floods back to him in a rush, the knowledge of what he’s told Kurt he’ll be for him. Not just a roommate. Nor simply a friend among many. He’s shocked at how quickly he let it slip his mind while enjoying the evening. But he can see Kurt’s need, plain in his wide blue eyes, and Blaine cannot ignore it.

Except they’re not alone. “Um, what about—?” Blaine asks. He looks back at the living room where Artie’s mixing up the papers in the hat.

“They all know,” Kurt says and he twists his fingers together. “It’s not unusual for me to duck out for a break.”

“Okay, then,” Blaine says, and he has no idea what exactly he’s meant to be doing or saying right now. “What did you have in mind?”

“Something easy,” Kurt says, the line of his shoulders relaxes, and his smile returns a little shy. He untangles his fingers and reaches out again to touch the back of Blaine’s knuckles with his fingertips. “Just your hand on me?”

“Yeah, sure” Blaine says. And he follows Kurt to the hall. He’s certain the others will be watching them go—he expects cat calls—but when he looks back, no one is staring. Even Sam only flashes him a quick glance and smile.

Kurt leads him all the way to the end of the hall and they go into the bathroom, which Kurt didn’t actually show him earlier in the week. It’s compact but well-appointed. Slim rectangular tiles line the walls in earthy grays and taupes, timber cabinetry is glossy pale maple, and it’s gleaming white porcelain and sleek chrome for the rest. The curvy tub is deep, and the glassed in shower is generous in its proportions.

Kurt locks the door, leans back against it, and lets out a shaky stream of air. He closes his eyes and undoes his belt. The jangle of the buckle is loud in the small space.

For a moment Blaine hesitates, wonders if he should be moving in to kiss Kurt, but he decides no, because that could become confusing. Plus, he’s not getting that kind of vibe from Kurt. Blaine rips a couple tissues from the box on the vanity and approaches Kurt where he’s propped himself against the closed door. “Here, like this?” Blaine asks.

Kurt cracks open his eyes, and pushes his jeans and underwear down to the top of his thighs. He holds his cock as if offering it to Blaine. “Yeah, this is fine.”

Without any ceremony or attempts at foreplay, Blaine replaces Kurt’s hand with his own, curls his fingers around smooth skin and hard heat. He firms his grip and drags his hand up slow. Kurt tips his head back against the door with a clunk, and a relieved moan breaks from his parted lips. “Do you want me to draw it out? Or do you want—?” Blaine breaks off, uncertain.

“I just need to come,” Kurt says, his words are clipped and his lash-shuttered gaze aches with things far more obdurate than desire: resignation and weariness.

“Okay,” Blaine says, and he sets a quicker, even pace with his hand, one that works best for himself when he’s trying to get himself off fast: strong pulls that tighten over the head and drag down to nudge Kurt’s balls.

“That’ll do it,” Kurt says through a slack-mouthed attempt at a smile.

But Blaine doesn’t want to simply get the job done. The stretched out line of Kurt’s throat tempts him, and he gives in, bends his head near to lightly brush his lips across Kurt’s pulse and inhale the mellow woodsy scent of his cologne

“Oh,” Kurt sighs, and brings a hand to Blaine’s hair, tightening against the back of Blaine’s scalp.

“You smell good,” Blaine says and presses his lips to Kurt’s skin. He mouths his way up to the hollow below Kurt’s earlobe and runs the wrist of his other hand (still holding the tissues) up Kurt’s other arm. “Kurt,” he whispers, because it feels important to say his name. He can’t think of anything else to say though, and he doesn’t trust himself not to try to kiss Kurt, so he bows his head and looks down. His forehead bumps against Kurt’s shoulder with the rhythm of Blaine’s hand, and he watches his fist strip up and down Kurt’s blood-flushed cock. He makes sure to catch the beading fluid at the crown with a swipe of his thumb.

Soon enough Kurt’s trembling hot all over, radiating like a furnace, his whole body is strung taut, bowing into Blaine’s touch.

“Close?” Blaine asks, lifts his head and finds Kurt’s eyes pinched shut.

“Yeah, I’m going to—”

Instead of moving his other hand down to catch Kurt’s ejaculate in the tissues, Blaine drops to a crouch and closes his mouth over Kurt’s cock. He sucks eagerly, loose and messy over the head while stroking the shaft fast. Kurt swears, grabs a handful of Blaine’s hair, and comes over Blaine’s tongue. With a soft groan, Blaine tightens his mouth, sucking to make sure he gets everything, and swallows it all. He pulls off slowly.

“Blaine, oh,” Kurt says and his fingertips press against Blaine’s scalp as if Kurt wants to hold him there a little longer. “You’re so good, I—” Kurt breaks off with a deep sigh. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Blaine says, gratified by Kurt’s relief as much as his praise. Blaine presses his cheek to Kurt’s hip, inhales the intimate fragrance of his arousal. Closes his eyes for one slow blink before tipping his head back to look up at Kurt. He cups his hand over Kurt’s cock gently; it’s beginning to soften. “Do you feel better now?” Blaine asks. “Or will you need another?”

“I’m... “ Kurt raises his eyebrows and exhales a silent laugh. “That was exactly what I needed.” He gives Blaine a fond look and carefully smooths Blaine’s hair where he’s mussed it up. Then he wipes over Blaine’s lip with his thumb. “You just had a little...” Blaine sucks it off Kurt’s thumb and Kurt’s eyelashes flutter. “I’ll make this up to you tomorrow, I promise,” Kurt says.

To which Blaine has no easy reply, just a strange warmth unfurling in his chest. Kurt offers him a hand, and he stands.

They straighten their clothes, freshen up, and catch their breath before heading back out, and by the time they get to the end of the hall, it’s as if it didn’t even happen. Except for how much more relaxed Kurt is now in his skin, and how hard Blaine is in his pants. And Blaine knows everyone here has an idea of what he just did for Kurt, even if they don’t make comment with either word or gesture. When he sits down next to Sam to join the game of Charades, it’s a strange thrill—an unkept secret. Blaine doesn’t know how to describe the feeling. It’s like he’s stepped outside himself somehow—or maybe further into himself—and now he’s recalibrating.

He looks at Kurt, seated cross-legged on the floor on other side of the steamer trunk, and Blaine’s pulse is still heavy between his legs. Kurt looks back, knowing, relieved, and grateful. It’s all good.

##

Through his modeling agency Sam knows a guy with a van. It’s got more than enough room for Blaine’s belongings: his desk chair, electric keyboard and stand, a few framed posters, and several boxes of clothing, books, and knick-knacks. Best of all, Sam’s friend Luke accepts payment in beer, which is definitely cheaper than a taxi would be.

At Kurt’s building—soon to be his building too—Blaine leaves Sam and Luke to ferry stuff to the freight elevator while he and Kurt cart it from the elevator to the apartment.

It doesn’t take long, and Blaine doesn’t miss the way Kurt’s sending him significant looks already. Blaine's starting to be able to see the signs of Kurt’s urge growing in his body. His movements become tighter, his hands busier. His smile comes quicker but doesn’t linger. And in his eyes, there’s that fracture of desperation.

“Hey,” Blaine says to Sam, who’s just set the last box down in Blaine’s new room. Blaine pulls out his wallet to grab some cash. “Could you and Luke go to that deli on the corner and bring back some sandwiches for lunch?”

Sam glances between Blaine and Kurt, who’s occupied himself with making sure the clothes rack is running parallel to the wall. “Sure, yeah,” Sam says, and he takes the cash from Blaine’s hand.

“A Reuben for me, please,” Blaine says.

“I’ll take turkey and Baby Swiss, no onions?” Kurt adds.

Sam nods, stuffs the cash in his pocket and leaves them alone in the box strewn bedroom.

As soon as Blaine hears the bang of the front door closing, he looks at Kurt and Kurt looks at him. “So, um, do you need—?” Blaine asks.

And Kurt says, “Please.”

They have privacy now—and while there’s not a lot of time, it should be enough for what Blaine’s been thinking about all morning, how it was with Kurt last weekend. Boldly, he asks, “Do you want to fuck me again?”

The question seems to catch with a stutter in Kurt’s throat. He blinks and swallows before replying, “Yeah, I... yes.”

So Blaine turns and bends over a stack of boxes while Kurt comes around the bed to join him. While Blaine undoes his belt and fly and pushes his pants down to his knees, Kurt produces a condom and lube from his own trouser pocket.

It’s not like the first time. Kurt’s quick and rough, and while the frantic demand of Kurt’s body is fantastically hot, it’s over long before Blaine’s close to coming. Kurt withdraws, leaving Blaine half-wound up and gasping.

When Kurt’s caught his breath, “Can I do something more for you?” he asks, dragging the pad of his thumb over where he’s just left Blaine so raw and wanting.

But Blaine shakes his head, shakes off the arousal buzzing such a high hunger in his body, and pushes himself up to stand. “Um, later?” he says as gently as his dry voice can manage. He looks back at Kurt over his shoulder to reassure. “I don’t think we’ve got enough time left.” He winces as he hitches his jeans back up while his ass is still wet, his cock hard and craving, and his balls throbbing dully. He’ll need to shower after lunch. In the meantime, it’s kind of amazing, being fucked and left like this: open, used, and wanting. Waiting for later. Knowing later will come.

“I want you to know, that wasn’t my attempt at making last night up to you,” Kurt says, tugging his pants back up far enough that he can move. He’s careful of the condom still clinging to his dick “I just needed something... fast and dirty. To take the edge off before I went crazy. I took care of myself this morning, and I thought I’d be okay until after lunch, but, um, yeah. Not so much. I’m sorry if--”

“It’s okay,” Blaine says. “If anything, I’m looking forward even more to this promised making up.”

Kurt’s shoulders settle and he smiles. Then he leans forward and kisses Blaine’s cheek, rubs up Blaine’s arm. “Me too. Thank you, Blaine.” Then he turns and disappears down the hall to the bathroom.

Sam returns while Kurt’s still cleaning up. Blaine goes out to meet him, washes his hands, and helps Sam unpack lunch to the counter. He’s dazed and on edge, but he does his best to behave normally. He successfully finds the plates, and remembers which drawer holds the cutlery.

“Luke’s headed off already,” Sam says. “So I was thinking I’d take the train back after lunch?”

Blaine watches Sam unwrap a pastrami sandwich from its paper. “Sure,” he says on autopilot. “Cool.”

“You’ll be okay?” Sam asks. “I can stay if you want some help unpacking those boxes.”

The uncertainty in Sam’s tone pulls Blaine’s attention. He blinks and tries to make sense of it. “Are you worried about me?”

“No,” Sam says quickly. “No. Kurt seems nice. I’m just worried I’m being a third wheel, you know?”

Oh. Blaine frowns and puts the turkey and Baby Swiss on a plate for Kurt. “Kurt’s not my boyfriend,” Blaine says.

“I know, but it’s still, like, you guys will want some privacy, right? So I don’t want to just hang around.”

Blaine opens his mouth to respond with a reflexive reassurance when Kurt comes back out, and Blaine wonders what he might’ve overheard.

Kurt thanks Sam for getting the food, and grabs a bottle of water for them each from the fridge.

They sit around the island, and Kurt’s comfortable, smiling and laughing easily, his tension relieved. And it’s fascinating to Blaine to see the difference it makes—the difference he’s helped make. Kurt turns his attention to talk with Sam; he asks about modeling and the designers he’s worked with—commiserates over the temperamental ones. Kurt asks whether Mercedes has called him yet, and invites Sam back to to the weekly potluck, “Any Friday you’re at a loose end, consider it a standing invitation.”

By the time they’re clearing the lunch dishes, Sam seems more at ease too.

Once Sam’s gone, Kurt turns to Blaine. “You live here now too,” he says. “If your friends want to hang out, please make sure they know they’re welcome.”

“So you did overhear some of that,” Blaine says, sweeping up the crumbs on the counter into the palm of his hand.

“Yeah, most of it, I’m sorry,” Kurt says as he folds the dishcloth neatly over the sink divide. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop. But I don’t want this to be weirder than it inevitably will be. I really don’t want your friends to be uncomfortable.”

Blaine nods. “It’ll just take some time, maybe? To settle in. But Sam’s not going to be awkward about it. He just—he’s kind of sensitive sometimes?”

“He cares about you,” Kurt says.

“Yeah, well. We’ve been best friends since high school.”

“Oh? So did you two came to New York together? From Ohio?”

“Yeah,” Blaine says. “I came for NYADA, and Sam had an in with the Bichette modeling agency.”

“Seriously?” Kurt laughs delightedly. “That’s amazing. Rachel and I did almost the exact same thing! With her on her way to NYADA, and me with less certainty, but I landed a Vogue dot com internship, and—as you can see— it’s worked out pretty well.”

“Wow,” Blaine says. “I’d say we’ve done Ohio proud, then.”

“I know, right?” Kurt’s happy amusement is beautiful to see. “What are the odds?” he adds more softly, and his gaze upon Blaine is wondering.

Blaine feels his face heat. “Well, I for one, am not going to question my good luck.” He glances down. “I’m glad our paths have crossed.” Then he slips from his seat and stands. “But I really should go get those boxes taken care of.”

“Oh,” Kurt stands too. “Did you want some help unpacking? We can move that spare bookcase from my room into yours?”

“That sounds great,” Blaine says.

##

Within a small circle—or rather a cardboard henge—of Blaine’s book boxes, Kurt sits on the floor alphabetizing Blaine’s graphic novels onto the bottom shelves of the bookcase. Blaine doesn’t have the heart to say he’d prefer to arrange them by publisher, then by franchise, then by universe, and finally chronologically. “So you like comics?” Kurt asks.

“Mmhm,” Blaine says; he’s hanging his shirts, slacks, and jackets on the clothes rack, which Kurt’s cleared off for him.

“Muscular men in spandex, huh?” Kurt says as he flips through one of the books.

Blaine laughs. “That’s not all there is. It’s more of a medium than a genre. I mean, I’ve got of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales and Sherlock Holmes, and, uh—other stuff, too.”

“Uh huh,” Kurt says, and he holds up Batman: Hush, open to Jim Lee’s stunning full page drawing of Nightwing. “I certainly see the appeal,” Kurt says.

And Blaine can’t think of a single sensible thing to say to that, or to Kurt’s flirtatiously raised eyebrow, but he hears Tina’s voice in his head telling him the last thing he should do right now is pull out his phone to show Kurt the photos of him dressed as Nightbird last Halloween. “Do you really?” he manages, far too breathless to be nonchalant. It shouldn’t matter what Kurt thinks, that’s the trouble.

Kurt bites his lip and tilts his head. “Are you blushing?”

“Oh, I just... um, used to get made fun of, for liking this stuff?” Blaine turns his attention back to straightening the shoulders of a shirt on its hanger. He’s absolutely certain Kurt wasn’t making fun, just being friendly and bonding over hot guys in tights, but... It would be far too easy to slip into thinking this is something more than what it is. Not every smile is an overture Blaine reminds himself.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable,” Kurt says.

“You didn’t,” Blaine says. “That’s all on me. Really, Kurt it’s fine—and if you want to borrow any to read, I can recommend good places to start. Just let me know.”

“All right,” Kurt says, “I may take you up on that.”

They work in silence for a little while, punctuated by the swish and thump of Kurt arranging the books and the metallic scrape and clack of the coat hangers on the rail. Minute by minute it stretches into something not altogether comfortable, but Blaine isn’t sure he can pin down the exact tension well enough to relieve it. Or he could be imagining it. Maybe Kurt’s just a quiet guy.

But when Kurt speaks again, it’s soft and serious. “You should know, in the interest of full disclosure,” Kurt says, “I’ve not had a lot of luck in keeping boyfriends.”

Blaine drops the shirt he just picked up. Kurt’s not looking at him, but at the corner of the bed with two faint lines creasing the skin between his eyebrows.

“They find me... too demanding and difficult,” Kurt says. He reaches out and adjusts the hang of the bedspread. “The last one said I was selfish, among other less flattering things. I’m not what they expect when we start, and I never can live up to their expectations. They don’t understand until...” Kurt makes a vague gesture at himself and grimaces. “There’s always a honeymoon period where all this seems like fun. But it’s never lasted. They always leave me.”

Any reassurance Blaine could offer would be glib, so he says instead, lightly, “Well, then I guess it’s a good thing I’m not your boyfriend.”

“No,” Kurt says, his smile quivers. “And I like you, Blaine, but I don’t want you to be my boyfriend. I want someone I can rely on.”

“I know,” Blaine says gently, and he promises himself he’ll do his best to be that for Kurt as long as he’s here.

“Okay,” Kurt says, and he shakes his head and forces a smile for Blaine. “God, this is weird enough for me, I can’t imagine how you’re feeling right now.”

“I’m fine,” Blaine says. “I read all the information you sent me, Kurt. I know what I’m getting into.”

“I hope so,” Kurt says. “You seem like a great guy.”

“So do you,” Blaine replies.

Some of Blaine’s things—other clothes mostly and décor items—stay in their boxes, while he waits for his furniture from home. Kurt offers drawer space if he needs it, but Blaine says he’ll be fine for the week it’ll take to get his dresser and desk. Then Blaine sees the way Kurt’s fidgeting with the hem of his dusty t-shirt, and he looks at the digital clock on his nightstand. It’s after the usual dinner hour.

“So, um?” Blaine says. “Dinner or?”

“Shower first,” Kurt says, his blue eyes rake sharply up Blaine’s body. “We’re both filthy. Would you care to join me?”

“Yes,” Blaine says. It’s the only answer possible.

##

Kurt brings a bottle of silicone lubricant into the shower with them, but no condom. Blaine doesn’t ask what he intends, just shucks of his dusty, sweaty clothes and lets the heat in Kurt’s gaze reel him in to stand with him under the steaming spray of water. It’s the first time he’s seen Kurt naked, and Blaine lets his gaze take in the supple strength of his body, trim and narrow at the waist and hips, broader across his shoulders, and long in limb. The definition of his musculature is sleek, not bulky.

And again Blaine wants to reach out and cup Kurt’s jaw with his hand, draw him into a kiss. But--especially after their conversation in his room--it’s wiser to let Kurt be the one to initiate such a thing, if such a thing is to happen between them. Blaine touches Kurt’s waist with his open hand, smooths over the wet skin with his palm and gives him a smile instead of a kiss. “You’ve got a gorgeous body,” Blaine says.

Kurt’s blush is pretty on his cheeks. “Thanks,” he says. “I was a nerdy late bloomer and had to earn this the hard way.”

“Oh,” Blaine tilts his head and looks at Kurt. “That’s hard to imagine.”

“I’ll show you some photos later. Remind me.” And then Kurt’s hand is on Blaine’s shoulder and he’s pulling him close, holding his gaze and the space between them shrinks. Kurt’s erection nudges Blaine’s hip. “I really want to touch you now.”

“Yeah,” Blaine says, “I want that too. Let me just...” Blaine tips his head back into the spray of the water and rinses the gel from his hair with his fingers. He doesn’t want to get it in his eyes. Kurt’s hands are light skirting over his ribs and up to his pecs, glancing over his nipples, and then sliding down to his hip bones. It feels like a question. Blaine’s cock pulses hard between his legs.

When he tilts his head back and smooths his wet hair out of his face, Kurt smiles and skims one hand up to Blaine’s shoulder, gives a little tug and says, “Turn around?”

Blaine does so, bending forward a few degrees while bracing himself against the tile wall with his forearms. Anticipation thrums high in his throat and deep in his belly. It’s shockingly simple like this, just being present and complying with Kurt’s desire. The only thing he needs to do is listen and respond to Kurt’s requests. It’s a surprise how comfortable he feels doing so. Something about Kurt and his situation compels him, seems to connect with and inspire something within Blaine that he doesn’t entirely understand. Maybe this is what he wanted from those Grindr hook ups but never actually got.

He hears the snap of a plastic cap and waits for Kurt’s touch to come low on his ass. But instead he gets Kurt’s hands on his head, massaging shampoo into his wet hair, from the nape of his neck up to his crown. Kurt’s fingers are strong and agile, and it sends a hot frisson down Blaine’s spine. He hums his pleasure and closes his eyes. “Feels nice,” he says.

“Good,” Kurt replies, and he takes similar care washing and rinsing the rest of Blaine’s body, until Blaine’s clean and Kurt’s angling the shower head off to the side and taking Blaine’s rigid cock into a loose hand, his fingers and palm oily slick with the silicone lube. He strokes light and slow, and the fine build of sensation is irresistible. Blaine could drown in it. Kurt’s voice vibrates near Blaine’s ear. “I was wondering something,” Kurt says.

“What’s that?”

“Do you enjoy being teased?”

“Oh,” Blaine says. The delicate play of Kurt’s fingertips over his cockhead suggests an easy answer. As does the timbre of Kurt’s voice. Still, Blaine’s not sure about committing himself to an answer without knowing what it will lead to. “I don’t... uh... know.”

“It seemed to me earlier,” Kurt says, and though his tone is confident, there’s a note of sincere query too. “Maybe you enjoyed being left wanting? Did you?”

It’s just Kurt’s thumb and forefinger now, gliding and pinching gently over his glans. Blaine can’t remember how to put words in order. He makes a garbled moan and forces his hips still though he longs to push into Kurt’s hand more forcefully. “Yes,” he gasps. “I liked that.”

Kurt moves closer until the length of his cock settles against the cleft of Blaine’s buttocks. “Why’s that, I wonder?” Kurt presses, rocking his hips so Blaine can feel the whole hot hungry length of him.

“Oh, because you promised...” Blaine gasps.

“To make it up to you? You like the anticipation?”

“I think so, yes. I don’t know, Kurt, just... oh, please. Touch me.”

“You ask so nicely,” Kurt says, and he wraps the rest of his hand around the end of Blaine’s cock, squeezing snug and perfect as he rolls his palm over the tip, and Blaine’s thighs shake from the shock of it. Kurt’s other hand goes to his ass, tugging Blaine’s cheeks apart so he can better fit his cock between them. The crown of it nudges slick past Blaine’s tailbone as Kurt rocks his hips, rubbing and slipping up between Blaine’s buttocks. It makes Blaine want to bend over farther and ask Kurt to fuck him. But at the same time, the want of that is drowned out by how good Kurt’s hand is on him, and the enjoyment of feeling so close to getting what he wants (Kurt’s cock in his ass) without quite having it, just having the tangible idea of it: almost almost almost. But not quite. So close, yet denied, because there’s no condom.

Maybe he does like being teased. Sebastian never was a very patient or adventurous lover, and Blaine never felt relaxed enough with the various rebound guys to go far off the script he’d learned with Sebastian. Blaine groans and presses his ass back to encourage. “I like this,” he says, so Kurt will be sure.

“Good,” Kurt says. “Do you have a problem with me coming on you?” he asks. His voice is thin. He sounds close already.

“No,” Blaine says, and he drives his hips forward to meet the lengthening strokes of Kurt’s hand, shoves back to rub and press against Kurt’s dick. He feels shameless in wanting it, shameless in wanting the want. It’s fantastic. “Do it,” he says.

Kurt ruts and grinds against his skin in mindless seeking rhythm. He presses his mouth to Blaine’s neck and grits out, “You’re so fucking beautiful.” Then he tenses behind Blaine, his cock swells, and his semen gushes warm over the top of Blaine’s ass.

“Oh my god,” Blaine says, and Kurt’s hand slides down to the base of his cock and holds still.

“Wait a sec,” Kurt pants, and he releases Blaine altogether. “Please.”

“Kurt,” Blaine grits out. He looks down at his cock, flushed angrily and aching for the lost contact. He could reach down and touch himself, but Kurt said to wait. He closes his eyes and drops his head. Concentrates on the hiss of the shower and the steady drum of the hot water. Lets that be the contact he craves.

And then a wet cloth passes over his skin where Kurt’s just come. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you wanting again,” Kurt says. His fingers are at Blaine’s ass then, slipping nimbly between his buttocks and finding his hole. Pressing firmly when they do.

“All right,” Blaine says and he gasps when Kurt’s lubed slick fingertip breaches him. Slow push in, such a small thing, a finger, but he’s so ready for it, it dominates his senses. The slight stretch of it, the delicious drag within the sensitive rings of muscle.

In and out, Kurt moves slowly, working deeper with each thrust. Blaine wants to spread his legs and beg for more, faster, thicker, harder. Wants to tell Kurt he can take it. Take anything. But he doesn’t. He keeps still and takes what Kurt’s giving him, because hanging in the pleasure of this while desiring more is an exquisite and beautiful place to be.

Kurt’s other hand reaches back around to take his cock, and works back up to a good building rhythm, and then he pushes a second finger in alongside the first. “Okay?” Kurt asks him, and Blaine realizes Kurt doesn’t know how much Blaine’s wanting right now. Despite his earlier questions, this time, he’s not meaning to tease. Kurt’s touching him with the same care Blaine felt that first time. Maybe it won’t be like this every time, but he knows it’s there. It’s not something a person can fake.

It makes Blaine lightheaded. “Yes,” Blaine says, arches and pushes back. “That’s it,” he says. “I can take... more.”

“Yeah?” Kurt asks and withdraws his hand, pushes in thicker, slower with the wedge of his middle, index, and ring fingers. It’s less precise, but the fuller feeling is worth it. “Like this?”

“Yeah,” Blaine says. “God. Fuck me like that.”

Using his fingers, working quick and sure, Kurt fucks Blaine. It’s the perfect extra piece to fuse with the pleasure Kurt’s hand is rubbing into his cock. His orgasm winds up fast, and Kurt doesn’t relent until it’s wrung him out completely, fucks Blaine until Blaine’s trembling and spent.

After Kurt releases Blaine’s cock and withdraws his hand, Blaine turns around shakily, slumps against the tile wall, and they look at each other. With his hair wet and drooping over his forehead, naked and flushed and wide-eyed in the steam, Kurt looks so young. “Wow,” Blaine says.

Kurt grins and bends his head near to kiss Blaine’s cheek, more lingering this time, and he says, “It was my pleasure. Thank you.”

And Kurt's sweetness helps Blaine find a reserve of strength to rally his body. He blinks and breathes and steadies his knees, stands straighter. Then he reaches for the shampoo and says to Kurt, “Your turn?”

Chapter Text

Saturday's dinner is Friday's leftovers, accompanied by the half bottle of Bonterra chardonnay Rachel left behind. Kurt hums and smiles while he clears off one end of the dining table so they can sit across the corner of it, looking out at the fading light of the sun as it sets behind the buildings of Manhattan. Loose-limbed and with a sparkle in his eye, Kurt leans in toward Blaine. He squints and extends the arm nearest Blaine and points. "My river view," he says.

Along the line of Kurt's point, Blaine spies the tiniest sliver of gray water visible between two buildings. He laughs. "Impressive. I can't believe you didn't include that in your ad." Kurt's shoulder presses against his before Kurt steps away and they sit. While Kurt pours them each a glass of wine, Blaine cuts into the reheated spinach and potato enchiladas Mercedes brought last night and serves them both.

"So, what do you like to do with your Saturday evenings?" Kurt asks. "Is Callbacks still the NYADA hangout of choice?"

"Oh, yeah." Blaine nods and reaches for the bowl of the salad he made. "It's a great spot. You've been before?"

"Many times with Rachel, and I performed there with the band back in the day." Kurt's smile is wistful. "It's been years though. I hadn't even really thought about it until just now."

"Well, if you miss it," Blaine ventures, "we could go sometime? As a group with your friends and Sam? Pascal usually lets me play the piano, which is a great way to top up my coffee fund."

"Pascal," Kurt says, drawing out the final syllable with nostalgic affection; his gaze is unfocused staring out the window. "Wow, he's still there?" He blinks and turns his attention to Blaine, lifts his glass.

"Yeah." Blaine reaches for his glass too, takes a sip.

Kurt considers Blaine. "You must be good. He must like you."

"Yeah," Blaine says, glances down at his food. "I've been playing piano longer than I've been singing."

"Of course you're good, or you wouldn't be at NYADA," Kurt says, and the words are weighted with a warmth Blaine's not sure how to interpret.

"Yes? Seems to be the general consensus," Blaine says, more curious than pleased; he's uncertain what Kurt's praise means right now. Kurt's never seen him perform. "But I... um?" Blaine tries to get a read on Kurt, his fond smile, the quality of his attention. He's relaxed and sated like a well fed cat, but there's something more there. Is he flirting?

"Oh god, I'm sorry, I'm making you uncomfortable again," Kurt says. He moves to rest his fingertips briefly upon Blaine's forearm, and then they return to his fork. Kurt turns his knife in his other hand a few times while staring blankly at his plate.

"No, you're not," Blaine reassures. "I guess—I'm just not sure where all the lines are between us? Or even where they should be. Where you want them to be?"

"Right," Kurt says. "We haven't really talked about that too much, have we?"

"Not really, no?"

Kurt nods silently and takes a bite of the salad. He chews and swallows and takes a sip of wine. Blaine waits for him to speak. "Do you know what I'd normally be doing on a Saturday night?" Kurt asks.

It's not hard to guess, but Blaine would prefer not to make assumptions. "No," he says.

"Going around clubs, scrolling through Grindr. Looking for a willing stranger, and—" There's no humour in Kurt's huff of laughter or the twist of his lips. "Hoping for the best."

"Alone?"

Kurt lifts a shoulder. "With Elliott or Dani sometimes—they are, both of them, fantastic wingmen—but most often alone, yeah."

"I'm sorry," Blaine says, to the frown he sees on Kurt's face.

"So, I'm just really enjoying this tonight, with you, Blaine, you have no idea. Knowing that—" Kurt breaks off with a sigh and he closes his eyes, sets down his cutlery. Rests his wrists on the edge of the table. "I don't have to do that anymore, or not for a while anyway, and not tonight. It feels so damned good. Eating leftovers at home on a Saturday night in your company, knowing I'm covered? Right now? This is the best Saturday night I could imagine."

"Kurt..." Blaine says. He doesn't know what else to say, but his heart aches with sympathy. He reaches out to lay his hand on Kurt's forearm.

And Kurt's eyes open, too bright and reflecting the sunset glow. "Please forgive me if I'm too effusive or enthusiastic in my gratitude for your presence and your... care."

"No, oh, god, please don't apologize for that," Blaine says, and he squeezes Kurt's arm. "I'm glad to be here, Kurt, for you—not just your fancy river view."

Blessedly, Kurt chuckles and rolls his eyes. But there's still too much softness in his smile. "I think I actually believe you, and—wow—that's new for me. Experience has taught me I shouldn't believe people when they say things like that to me, not about this. Yet here you are, somehow convincing me."

Blaine wishes he could erase the lingering trace of sadness from Kurt's face. It's not fair that Kurt's had to navigate such a difficult path. It sounds so lonely. "That's not a bad thing is it? You told me you wanted someone to rely on. I want to be that person for you."

"While you're here," Kurt says.

"Yeah, well, um..." Blaine withdraws his hand, unsure. If Kurt's thinking about the end when it's only the beginning? He's not sure what to do with that.

"Did you want to talk about boundaries?" Kurt asks. "And how horribly I'm overstepping already? Honestly I shouldn't be dumping all of this on you like this. You just got here."

With a slow nod, Blaine shrugs and says, "People find me easy to talk to? I don't mind. I just want to better understand what you're expecting from me. I know we agreed on sex whenever you need it, but other things? Friendship, flirting, foreplay—teasing? Is that all part of it too? Is that what you want? If we're not boyfriends, but we're doing this. How does that go?"

A strange yearning settles on Kurt's face. "Ideally," he says, "I would like us to be friends. I want this arrangement to be friendly, not some kind of grudging obligation. I don't want you to feel like you're an indentured servant. I like you, you like me. If we can have fun and enjoy this together sometimes, I'd love that. Believe me, it's not always fun or convenient or... even wanted, really. When it's too much compulsion and not enough desire—sometimes I honestly hate it, Blaine. But—"

"But?"

"Sometimes it's good. It's been great with you so far, and I don't want you to hate it, or resent me."

"I don't, and I won't, Kurt. I promise."

"That's a big promise."

"As you know, I'm very good," Blaine says, and he lets the flirtation warm his voice.

More laughter from Kurt, restrained but genuine. "Though, since you asked about other things. Foreplay? For me... when I need to get off, I just want to get it done most of the time, so no more than required. But I'm happy to take more time for you, when I can. Like I said before, I want this to be good for you, as often as it can be."

"Thank you," Blaine says. "And trust me, it's all been good with you. Amazing even."

"I hope you'll still feel that way in a week," Kurt says. "And I'm open to feedback too, Blaine. If you want to do—or have me do—things a little differently, or if I ask for something you're not up to, there are options. We have options. If you need to say no to something, say no, all right?"

"All right, I will," Blaine says. The reminder's unnecessary. Kurt's made it clear from the start, in their first email exchange, that nothing here will happen without Blaine's consent, but Blaine has no intention of telling Kurt no, not without extremely good cause. This is a commitment he means to honor.

They fall into a not uneasy silence after that. Blaine tops up their glasses, and when Kurt speaks again, it's to change the subject. To ask if Blaine would want to join him in catching up on what his DVR's collected through the week, and Blaine discovers they share a bizarre fondness for the worst reality TV shows.

"The more trainwrecky the show, the more it helps me regain my perspective on my own life, you know?" Kurt says.

"Absolutely," Blaine says. "It's like the modern version of Greek tragedy. We get all that catharsis because we fear our own lives being so shallow or terrible, and then we get to turn off the TV and be grateful they're not our lives, that no matter how bad our week was, we did better."

"I don't know," Kurt says, grinning. "I've had some pretty reality-TV-worthy weeks."

Blaine laughs and helps him clear the table.

##

A dull knocking wakes Blaine. For an instant he's unsure where he is. The glowing green numbers on his clock read 1:43am.

"Blaine?" Kurt's voice is soft, and Blaine remembers everything.

He pushes himself up to his elbows and looks toward his open bedroom door. Kurt's a slim robed silhouette in the doorway. "Hey," Blaine says, his voice a soft rasp. He clears his throat. "Kurt."

The city glow filtering through his thin curtains isn't enough to illuminate Kurt's face where he stands at the threshold. "Hi," Kurt says, and his hand rises to grasp the doorjamb.

Blaine scoots up against his pillows and his heart thuds in his chest. "Come in, it's fine. I'm awake," Blaine says.

"I can see that," Kurt says with a low laugh. He steps into the room and more light falls upon him. As he opens and drops his robe, the dark material falls away from his pale skin. But he remains wrapped in dim gray scale, and his face is a blur, but Blaine can make out the tilt of his smile.

Blaine tosses his covers aside and shimmies out of his pajama pants. It's like a sex dream: a shadowy and beautiful man coming into his room in the middle of the night, dropping his robe, and—now—crawling naked onto his bed. Blaine tosses his pajama pants aside and reaches for the lube and condom on his nightstand.

"What would you like?" he asks. Kurt's close now and paused, straddling Blaine's legs; his knees brush the outside of Blaine's thighs. Blaine can feel his body heat and smell his arousal mingling warm with his cologne, can hear the urgency of his desire in the cadence of his breath. He's like some benign incubus, come to feed his hunger.

"I was planning on riding you," Kurt says.

"Oh—" Blaine says, and his head swims hot and muzzy at the thought of it. "Yeah, that sounds... uh... please do."

Kurt's hand is on his chest then, pushing him back down, and holding him there. Breathless, Blaine gazes up into the dark at Kurt's vague form. "You don't have to do anything," Kurt says. "Just lie back and enjoy yourself. Or ," he adds, wry, "feel free to doze off again, if you'd rather."

"No," Blaine says. "I want to be awake for this."

Kurt's fingertips drag down Blaine's sternum to his belly, and Kurt circles his navel with his index finger. Blood surges so hard and sharp to Blaine's groin, he gasps.

"Then I'll make sure you're good and ready for me," Kurt says. He shifts, pressing one knee between Blaine's, coaxing Blaine to part his legs. His other hand lands on Blaine's hip and Kurt lowers his head. His hair tickles Blaine's chest and then his lips press into the tender hollow of Blaine's solar plexus, soft and parted: a gust of breath, a caress of a kiss.

"Okay," Blaine says, and he shivers when Kurt's hand skims from his belly button to his cock, down the length of him to fondle his balls.

Kurt scoots back, kisses down until Blaine's cock bumps under his chin, then he lifts his head and raises Blaine's cock to his lips. Sucks him in deep with a loud rush of breath through his nose.

"Oh..." Blaine's spine bows and his fingernails scrape across his taut bottom sheet without finding purchase. The hot pull of Kurt's mouth is so strong, it's good but too much too fast. "Wait," Blaine fumbles clumsily at Kurt's hair. "Can you please... ah... ease up a little?" Blaine half gasps, half laughs. "Please?"

In response Kurt's mouth softens around him and slows. Without stopping, Kurt hums an affirmation, and Blaine feels it vibrate everywhere. The abrupt build of his arousal diffuses, floods his body with blissful anticipation. He pets over Kurt's shoulders, and when he feels ready for more he says. "Okay, I'm good."

Wordlessly, Kurt shifts up over Blaine's hips. Blaine reaches for the condom and lube. He unrolls the condom and slicks his cock while Kurt reaches behind himself. Kurt grunts softly and withdraws something (a slim plug?) from his own ass. But before Blaine has a chance to ask, Kurt's guiding Blaine's cock to his slippery hole, pressing himself down, and the sweltering grip of his body consumes Blaine. Just like that.

"Jesus," Blaine whispers.

"Couldn't sleep," Kurt mumbles, and he lets out a shuddering breath and his shoulders hitch up as he sinks down with a fantastic little roll of his hips. One hand is splayed across his belly, the other edges down for his cock. "I needed it so bad. I didn't want to have to wake you tonight, not your first night, but—" He moans as he lifts back up, working his ass around Blaine to get the angle he wants. "Oh, I knew you were just across the hall, and I—oh fuck."

"It's okay," Blaine says and he rubs up Kurt's thighs, loves the flex of the hard muscle beneath his palms. And the tight clasping heat of Kurt surrounding him is among the very best reasons to be awake at 2am. "This is what I'm here for. I'm not complaining."

"Ha," Kurt says, sighs and bows his head as he pushes down and drags back up. "But I'd hoped to ease you into it, not just— I thought I could make it through the night. Oh my god. You feel good. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been comfortable enough with someone to do this?"

“No,” Blaine says. He’s unsure what the 'this' part of this entails, but he's flattered—and oddly moved.

But Kurt doesn’t answer him, he just shudders and rolls one shoulder back, reaching back to take hold of Blaine’s thigh with his free hand, firms the grip on his cock with the other. Grinds his ass down forcefully while he jerks off, he’s not looking at Blaine, but down at his own hand moving over his cock. The fall of his hair obscures the dark blur of his eyes. Blaine can see his mouth is slack and open.

And for an instant Blaine doesn’t entirely feel like he’s present. It’s just Kurt, unselfconsciously using his body, using his dick, for his own purpose. But Blaine doesn't feel diminished by it, as he would expect to. It’s just hot. He gets to be here and witness this, watch Kurt take what he needs. Gets to give Kurt what he requires, gets to be it. He wonders how many guys have fucked Kurt and had no idea what they were doing or what kind of person Kurt is. Didn't even bother to remember his name. Blaine holds Kurt's hips and rocks up to meet him, finds the motion that makes Kurt tremble and throw his head back and moan. Blaine makes him cry out, loud. He makes him come, twice.

Kurt doesn't stay long after, just long enough to clean Blaine up, pull his sheet over his cooling body, and say thank you—with a parting kiss to Blaine's cheek. Blaine's drifted back to sleep before Kurt's even out his door.

##

Blaine wakes to the scent of coffee. He's stiff as he stretches out his limbs, but everything feels good. The filtered morning sun, the airy room, his body and mind. He pulls his pajama pants back on and grabs a t-shirt, but doesn't bother with a dressing gown.

He comes out curiously to find Kurt singing softly to himself while hulling strawberries by the sink. He's wearing dance pants and a tank top. "Good morning," Blaine says, enjoying the curve of Kurt's deltoids, the dip and swell of the line down to his biceps.

"Waffles?" he asks Blaine over his shoulder. "Unless you have any anti-waffle dietary preferences I should know about?"

"Waffles sound good," Blaine says.

"Help yourself to coffee," Kurt says, and nods toward the French press sitting near the stove.

Blaine finds a mug and gets some coffee; it's rich and strong. Blaine settles against the edge of the counter as he sips. "Do you need anything?"

"Mmm, I'll need you soon enough, but we can eat first," Kurt says, slicing the strawberries thinly and fanning them out with his fingers before arranging them on the plates. Beside him, an electric waffle iron preheats, and a large bowl of batter rests nearby. "In the ongoing quest to keep some semblance of order to my days, I have a rule: no sex between getting out of bed and breakfast."

"Okay, but I actually meant, can I help you with the food?"

"Oh!" Kurt laughs. "Sorry, god, I can be so single-minded. Um, sure, can you get the maple syrup from the pantry, please? There'll be a new bottle of grade A second shelf down, on the far left."

Kurt's pantry is exceedingly well stocked and well ordered. Labels adorn each shelf and every canister, can, bottle, and jar is arranged in neat, straight ranks and rows, both alphabetically and thematically as far as Blaine can tell. The maple syrup (organic, from New Hampshire) is exactly where Kurt said it would be, with an identical bottle behind it, Blaine pulls it forward and makes sure it's level with the other items on the shelf.

"Thank you," Kurt says.

They eat at the island and Kurt makes more coffee. The waffles are crisp and fluffy. After their plates are clear, Kurt watches Blaine take the last mouthful of his coffee and Kurt asks, "Now?"

Blaine swallows. "Yeah, if you like."

"Okay... gosh," Kurt says, pushing his chair back and standing abruptly. His hands are restless on the side seams of his pants, and his cock is a thick prominent ridge behind the black cotton over his crotch. "Your bed head's been driving me crazy. Would you blow me, please?"

"I'd love to," Blaine says.

Kurt pushes his stool aside and turns to lean back against the edge of the island counter. He unties his pants and pushes them down. His erection juts out, bare and heavy. Blaine slips from his stool to crouch down. He pins Kurt's hips to the cabinets, and with his mouth still hot from his coffee and the sweetness of the maple syrup on the back of his tongue, he sucks Kurt's cock.

"Oh..." Kurt gasps, and his fingers tangle in Blaine's hair.

##

After separate showers, Blaine dresses in comfortable clothes for a walk: navy blue slacks, a fern green and white striped tee, and a coral linen jacket in case the morning's patchy clouds thicken up. He finds Kurt at the dining table. The fabric bolts and stacks of magazines he's shifted to the chairs, and he's laid out a long piece of plain white paper, upon which he's carefully measuring and drawing lines.

"Hey," Blaine says softly, reluctant to disrupt Kurt's concentration.

Kurt looks up, his hand splayed across the L-square. He twirls his pencil once between his fingers and raises his eyebrows in query. "Going out?"

"Yeah," Blaine tucks his hands in his pockets and tilts his head toward the door. "I was going to go for a wander around the area to get myself oriented," Blaine says. "Is there anything I should pick up on the way back? Milk, bread, coffee?"

"Oh." Kurt straightens. "Would you like company? Or a guide?" Kurt asks. "Or would you prefer a solitary adventure?"

"If you're not too busy, company would be great, but if you need to work—I can use Google maps."

"I'm not working," Kurt says. "This is a for-fun project, not work. A summery cocktail dress for my stepmom. I still haven't found the right fabric." Kurt lifts his fingers off the L-square and sets down his pencil. He peers out the window where the morning breeze is picking up. "Let me get a jacket, and I'll buy you lunch?"

Along the edge of the Navy Yards Kurt leads him before turning south and heading toward Atlantic avenue where all the best grocers and bakeries and other gourmet food shops are. "The essentials," Kurt says. "We can grab some stuff for dinner." On the way, Kurt shows him the local parks, the best bodegas for 2am junk food runs, and the best options for takeout and pizza. They wend their way through the NYU's polytech campus, and eventually get to their destination. Down the bustling avenue past the old Victorian brick buildings they walk—many of the brick facades sport their original purpose (Urban Outfitters is the bottom floor of what was once John Curtin Sail Makers and Canvas Goods—circa 1859 Kurt tells him), past hand painted signage, street displays of flowers and produce, and colorful awnings.

Though the NYADA cafeteria was reliable and decent, the variety of what the grocers have on display has Blaine excited to have access to both a variety of ingredients and a kitchen in which to prepare and enjoy them. "I'll never get over the food in this city," he says. They're outside the Green Pea grocer looking at punnets of berries. Plump perfect raspberries, tiny heirloom strawberries, organic blueberries, bilberries, and huckleberries, shiny bing cherries, black currants, red currants—some other things Blaine doesn't easily recognize.

"I know, right? After growing up in the culinary wastelands of rural Ohio, it's paradise for an aspiring foodie."

Blaine laughs. "My freshman fifteen was more like a freshman twenty-five. Just the food trucks! Thank god for NYADA dance class." He picks up a punnet of blueberries for their basket. He'll make Kurt pancakes tomorrow.

Kurt snorts a laugh while he sorts through the raspberries for the best looking ones. "Then let me sabotage all your past hard work. I'm going to make ice cream tonight. Raspberry white chocolate sound okay?"

"Divine," Blaine says, and then more cheekily he bumps his shoulder against Kurt's and says, "I'm sure we'll have no trouble working it off together"

"Mr. Anderson!" Kurt says, mock scandalized and covering the perfect 'o' of his mouth with his fingertips. "How presumptuous of you," he teases. And then he winks, and sets his selection in the basket.

Blaine grins his delight, and his chest feels full with it, and as light as a helium balloon. He follows Kurt inside to the salad greens section, where Kurt frowns over bins of baby arugula and watercress like they're the most serious things in the universe. It's adorable and Kurt's beautiful and Blaine just wants to keep looking at him.

Should it be this easy? With someone like Kurt? Blaine watches Kurt and can't help but wonder where he's been all his life.

Leaving for New York just as Blaine was starting high school in truth. Which brings an unpleasant lump of nostalgia to dim Blaine's mood, but he forces his smile brighter as Kurt says, "If you think we'll need calories, then we need to hit Betty Bakery too, their lemon pound cake—oh my god, you'll love it, Blaine." He hooks his hand in the bend of Blaine's elbow and tugs him onward to a display of local cheeses.

If being with Kurt like this is easy, then Blaine knows better than to overthink it and make it complicated. They're having fun together, and that's something they both want.

For lunch they end up a few blocks away at a little cafe overlooking a small park. They sit outdoors on a mossy brick patio scattered with potted herbs. While they wait for their sandwiches, they sip iced tea. Sun and shade break over them as the clouds drift by above.

"So," Kurt says. "I've told you some of my sordid past. How is it someone like you has had bad luck in love too?"

"Oh, um," Blaine says, and his mind blanks on him. Behind Kurt's sunglasses, his gaze is inscrutable.

"Too personal?" Kurt asks with a wrinkle of his nose and a tilt of his head. "Am I overstepping again?"

"No," Blaine says. "You're not. It's just—there's not really an easy nutshell version? And I don't know if you'd want the official therapy version or the disgruntled exes' version."

"How about your version?"

"Oh." Blaine blinks.

"You know, the one where you're the hero of your story," Kurt says with an encouraging twist of his shoulders. "Or we can talk about something else, your plans for the summer or your early culinary expeditions in the city. Or the times my high school glee club made it Nationals, or we could reminisce about the paucity of culture in Cowtown, Ohio, or I could tell you about—"

"Wait. You were in show choir?"

"Mmhm, for three years of high school. It saved my life and my sanity."

"Me too," Blaine says. "With the Dalton Academy Warblers. I was their featured soloist all four years. But we never made it to Nationals. Every year Vocal Adrenaline was impossible to get past at Regionals."

"Still?" Kurt says. "Or, again, I guess I should say. We beat them those two years, and it took them a while to make their comeback, but I stopped following the show choir blogs after I got to New York."

"Wow," Blaine says. It's not hard to work out where Kurt went to high school if he was part of that choir. "You were with the New Directions?" Kurt nods and Blaine boggles quietly. Just a year or two fewer between them and they would have maybe known each other. What would it have been like to have known Kurt in high school? Of course they would have been rivals, but still.

"Yeah," Kurt says. "What are the odds? You were a Warbler. Those guys are amazing. We were up against them every year, tied at Sectionals more than once. And the years we beat them it was on a technicality. I bet you were an amazing front man."

"I loved it," Blaine says.

"I almost transferred to Dalton, my junior year," Kurt says.

"Really?" So close, and yet.

"Because of the no bullying policy?" Kurt explains, "But that's not a story I care to revisit this lovely Sunday. Too sad, and I'm long past it."

"I understand," Blaine says, and impulsively he reaches across the table to cover Kurt's hand with his own. "I'm sorry for whatever you went through back then."

"Thanks," Kurt says. He brushes the edge of Blaine's hand with his thumb and Blaine wishes he could see Kurt's eyes. Then the waiter arrives with their sandwiches, and Kurt pulls his hand back to himself to unfold his napkin.

It's more than enough time spent looking back anyway, and Blaine doesn't return to the topic of his old relationship failures, since the moment has clearly passed. Instead he tells Kurt about the musical and film score composition masterclass he's wait-listed for in the Fall. It's an elective and is only open to fifteen students, but the dean is holding a space for him while he builds up a portfolio. "I just wanted to do something a little different next year, the musical theater performance track has been feeling a little stifling."

"So that's your summer project?" Kurt asks. "Building an original music portfolio?"

"Yep," Blaine says. "It's been fun so far, and I'm looking forward to really getting stuck into working on it. We have all these stock clips available to score, but we're allowed to include original footage too. I'm just trying to decide what to focus on, to get a good variety."

"You know," Kurt says slowly. "Artie's been looking for someone to work with him on a short film he's doing for his master's thesis. Maybe you could help each other out?"

##

The return home is quicker and more direct. Over lunch, Kurt's grown tense and fidgety, leaving his napkin torn into narrow shreds and the sugar packets rearranged six times. Blaine wishes there were something he could do for Kurt now, but he suspects proposing any sort of sex in a semi-public space would just end up sounding sleazy. So he keeps up with Kurt's brisk single-minded pace and they get home just as the clouds above them are fusing together into a pale gray blanket. The humidity on the cooling breeze suggests rain.

"I think..." Kurt says as he snips the bolt in the door behind them. "I'm going to need... a lot."

"A lot?" Blaine carries the sacks of groceries over to the kitchen and sets them on the island.

Beside him, Kurt's smile is quick as mercury. "Of orgasms. Sometimes," he says, and he looks for the cream, eggs, and milk in the bags, takes them to the fridge. "I can tell, it gets really... um... big and kind of itchy feeling I guess?"

"So you're telling me you need a really good long scratch, then?"

Kurt's bark of laughter is sharp and loud. "Exactly," he says, and he takes Blaine by the hand and leads him to the bedroom. The rest of the groceries can wait.

Kurt strips off his clothes and tosses them all toward an armless green velveteen chair in the corner near his bed. He's naked by the time Blaine's barely got his jacket, shirt, and shoes off. Kurt leans back on the bed, propped up on bent elbows, one leg splayed out the side, the other bent at the knee and canted out. All long limbs, hard cock, and flushed skin, breathing heavily and staring at Blaine like he's starved, but he's laid himself out upon his quilted vermillion bedspread like he's the meal.

"What works best for you when it's like this?" Blaine asks, fumbling with the tab of his zipper and making himself slow down.

"Um," Kurt glances at the nightstand and back to Blaine. "Sometimes, uh..." He trails off looking embarrassed.

Blaine gets his pants off, doesn't bother with his briefs, and comes to Kurt, knee-walks over to him and touches his shoulder, "Please, tell me, whatever it is, I won't judge you, okay?"

Kurt takes a breath, holds it, and then lets it out slowly through pursed lips. "When I'm on my own, and I feel like this, I kind of... double team myself?" Kurt's gaze skitters off Blaine's face.

"Okay, using... toys?" Blaine raises his hand to cup Kurt's jaw, and Kurt leans into his palm with a flutter of his eyelashes.

"Yeah," Kurt says quietly. "I have a, um, fleshlight and this dildo. It's kind of... big."

"Do you want me to use either—or both—of them on you?"

Kurt's chest rises and falls quickly, he makes a soft whimper deep in his throat. His eyes are glassy and unfocused, and his attention pauses to rest somewhere on Blaine's collarbones. "Would you?"

"Yes, of course I will," Blaine says. "Just tell me what you'd prefer."

"Um, then..." Kurt blinks and looks up, meets Blaine's gaze. "Could you use your mouth on me and maybe the dildo in my ass? It's something I've fantasized about, but... I haven't actually done it with anyone before."

"Well then, we'll give it a try, all right?"

"All right," Kurt says, and the anxious line of his mouth relaxes. "Everything's in the drawer." Blaine leans over and opens it, while Kurt shifts, and lowers himself shakily into his pillows.

Kurt's got a few different lubes, condoms, and a handful of toys—plugs mostly, of various sizes, shapes, and materials—so the dildo is impossible to miss. It's not terrifyingly large, maybe seven inches long? But it's fat—roughly two inches in diameter—gunmetal gray, and shaped more like a phallic torpedo than an ersatz cock. In Blaine's hand, it's smooth, flexible, and heavy. He lifts it out along with a water based lube that claims to be thick and long lasting and designed for anal use.

"That's it," Kurt says. "If you could work me up to taking three fingers comfortably first, that'd be best."

"Yeah, well, I wasn't going to just try to ram it in," Blaine says and grins. He's relieved when Kurt returns the grin.

"Okay," Kurt says, "Can we... just do it now? I'm really, uh, starting to get uncomfortable."

"Sure, sure, of course," Blaine shifts back over and Kurt opens his legs more widely for Blaine to get between them. Blaine doesn't tease, just settles down, opening his mouth over the plush crown of Kurt's cock—which pulls a long sigh of relief from Kurt's lungs—while he squeezes some lube onto his fingers.

"Start with two, please," Kurt whispers, thrusting up into the suction of Blaine's mouth with fitful little jerks, as if he can't help it. Blaine pushes one of his thighs back finds the tense little ring between his buttocks. It softens immediately at the touch of Blaine's fingertips and he presses in with his index and middle fingers while sliding lower with each bob of his head. He rubs up Kurt's perineum with his thumb.

"That's it," Kurt sighs. "Just... mmm."

Blaine works in deeper with steady firm thrusts, he doesn't want to rush Kurt, but he doesn't want to drag this out into something unpleasant either. He fucks Kurt with two fingers until that feels easy, and then tucks in his ring finger too.

"Oh!" Kurt says, "Can you? A little rougher? I'm—oh, god."

Already? Blaine can't ask, his mouth is full, and he doesn't dare pause. His answer comes in how he can feel the tension wind up fast in Kurt's body, can hear it in his rasping breath and high-pitching cries. He slides up and down Kurt's cock quickly, heedless of the sloppy wet sound of it, and shoves into Kurt's ass as far as he can reach.

Kurt first orgasm comes hard. Kurt grabs Blaine's hair in both hands and nearly doubles over, choking on his own voice. And then breathless, still twitching through the end of it, he's begging, "Please don't stop, I need more, please, can you—"

Blaine swallows and reaches blindly for the dildo and the lube, has to slow the work of his mouth while he slicks up the thing with a generous amount of lubricant. He's making a mess he knows. Should have got a towel, but Kurt's pulling his hair hard and saying, "Please put it in."

Blaine lifts his head from Kurt's cock, and ignores Kurt's miserable groan. "Try to relax for me, sweetheart, okay?" Blaine says, and he smears more lube over Kurt's anus, works some in with his fingertips before taking the thick flared head of the dildo and pressing it to Kurt's lax hole. The logistics seem improbable outside the realm of hardcore pornography. He uses his fingers to lead it in, sliding them back as he pushes. There's enough resistance remaining that he uses only light pressure, but he keeps it steady. "Okay?" he asks. He's never used anything this large on himself.

"Yeah," Kurt gasps, I'm okay. Let me just..." He squirms a little and grinds his ass against the fat end, tight little greedy circles. The sight of it makes Blaine dizzy.

So he raises his attention to watching Kurt's face, watches how his brow creases in concentration and his eyelids slip closed, and he feels Kurt open as the dildo edges forward; its blunt head slides all the way in with a silent pop. Blaine feels too, through his grip on the base of it, as soon as Kurt's body clenches up reflexively, and he lets up on the pressure and holds everything still until Kurt's breathing evenly again and relaxing around it. Then he pushes again, gradually feeding the smooth shaft of the toy in, in, in. With his free hand, Blaine reaches for Kurt's cock, strokes to help soothe any initial discomfort of insertion. Soon enough, Kurt's opening his eyes and his ass has taken the dildo up to its flared base.

And Blaine can't help but stare down at the wide stretch of Kurt's body around the toy, "Does it feel good?" Blaine asks and he rubs circles over Kurt's cockhead with his thumb. He tries to imagine it, the ache of the stretch and the heaviness inside.

"It's fine," Kurt pants. "But I need it to feel better." He lifts his hips, rocking against the dildo and sliding his cock through Blaine's fist with a needy grunt. His whole body shudders gorgeously.

"Okay," Blaine says. "I just, I've never done this before, I don't want to hurt you."

"You're not hurting me, I promise," Kurt says. "Please, just fuck me with it."

Blaine drags the length out about half way, Kurt makes a guttural, animal sound. Blaine pushes it back in and Kurt throws his head back against his pillows, exposing the long arch of his throat. He's beautiful.

Encouraged, Blaine lowers his mouth again, pushes down to take Kurt's cock back in as deep as he's able at this angle. Lets out a pleased groan of his own at the thick weight of it in his mouth and upon his tongue, filling him up to nudge against his soft palate, but no farther. He keeps his eyes open and casts his attention up Kurt's body.

He works the dildo in tight smooth strokes and sucks and slides a complementary rhythm with his mouth. Kurt comes again swiftly, both hands still twisted up tight in Blaine's hair. And then he unclenches his fingers and moves his hands to grab the backs of both thighs and holds them back and open. "Don't stop, don't stop, don't stop," he chants. Blaine swallows and sucks, and he fucks Kurt with as much force and speed as he dares. Kurt comes again in less than a minute, a weak trickle of fluid, and a pained sounding sob that's more frustration than relief. But Blaine doesn't stop, though his jaw and neck ache, and he's struggling to get enough air into his own lungs, drawing only hasty and obscene sounding breaths around Kurt's cock. He won't stop until Kurt tells him to. He keeps his attention on Kurt, concentrates on listening to Kurt's voice and heeding the responses of Kurt's body,

Kurt twists against his bedding and his fingers dig into the backs of his thighs, and he still begs for more with a dry breathless voice. "Come on, come on, one more," he says. "Please just one more," and Blaine isn't sure if Kurt is talking to him or to his own body.

But Kurt doesn't come again as quickly this time. He rolls his head side to side with his eyes pinched shut. His whole body strains and sweats, and he groans helplessly. "A little more, please. I need—"

Blaine's never seen another person in a similar state. He pushes in harder with the dildo, tries to better angle its flexible length so that it's flared edge will give Kurt the most benefit, and he sucks hard enough to make the inside of his cheeks burn. His lips are numb with friction, and it's all rougher than seems credibly pleasurable, but Kurt cries out emphatic encouragement.

And then, "Oh, oh, yes, oh—" Kurt shivers and whimpers and his body seizes up. His cock pulses against Blaine's tongue, but the orgasm is dry. A weaker spasm wracks his body within seconds, and then he's dropping his thighs and shivering and pushing at Blaine's head. "Okay, enough, enough, please, stop now, can you... stop?"

Blaine releases Kurt from his mouth, and, as gently and as quickly as he can, eases the dildo free of Kurt's ass. It slips out leaving Kurt wet and puffy and open. It takes Blaine a moment to catch his breath. He works his jaw to ease the ache of it and sits up, dazed.

"Oh my god," Kurt mutters, but he doesn't open his eyes or move except to bring his knees back together. He lies like a marionette with its strings cut, motionless but for the slowing rise and fall of his chest.

Uncertain of what Kurt may require next, Blaine rubs down Kurt's leg to his ankle. "Better?" He asks.

Kurt's immediate response is a noncommittal grunt, but then he forces his eyes open a sliver and looks down the bed at Blaine. He shifts his weight and winces. "So much better, oh my god. You were brilliant, but... I'll be feeling that tomorrow."

A few questions come to mind, things Blaine wants to know about what they just did, but he doesn't want to ask them yet, not when Kurt's blinking so slowly with such heavy eyelids. Not when the smile stretching his lips is so satisfied and free of tension. Blaine's awareness comes more fully back to his own body: the hot ache of his own arousal, the insistent pulse of his heartbeat in his cock. But he finds today, much as he did yesterday, he's content to enjoy the pleasant burn of it unsatisfied. What he most wants is to crawl up the bed and pull Kurt into his arms. One question is simple though and he needs an answer, "That was... pretty intense," Blaine says. "Is there something else I can do for you now, anything you need?"

With a shake of his head, Kurt responds with a question in kind, "What about you? Do you need to come?" His sleepy attention drops to Blaine's crotch where his erection is clearly visible, as is the dampness of the thin blue cotton stretched over the head of it. Kurt tries to push himself up, fails, and flumps back down.

"I'm fine," Blaine says. "You just relax, okay? I'll get you something to drink and clean you up, all right?" Blaine slides back and off the bed. Bends to collect his trousers and pull them back on.

"You're the best," Kurt says. "Um, but if you want to, you can fuck me? Just give me five minutes?"

It's hard to tell if Kurt's joking. "I'd prefer to wait," Blaine says as he zips up.

First Blaine goes to the kitchen and looks in the fridge for cold drink options. Brings Kurt a glass of the cranberry-pomegranate blend he finds. Then he goes to the bathroom, takes the dildo with him to wash. Comes back with a cloth and finds Kurt half sitting against his headboard, smiling and blinking his eyes open wider as he stifles a yawn against the back of his hand. The empty glass sits on the nightstand. Blaine cleans him up and does his best with the bedspread too.

"Are you sure?" Kurt asks, dragging his fingers across Blaine's chest, catching the edge of a nipple. Making Blaine shiver pleasantly at the contact. "I can't do anything for you?"

"I'm sure," Blaine says. "You look like you need a nap."

"Hmmmm," Kurt hums and he looks at Blaine with narrowed eyes, but he's still smiling. If Blaine didn't know better, he'd think Kurt was drunk, he's gone so loose and easy in his sleepy relieved afterglow.

"Hmmmm, what?" Blaine asks. He wipes down the lube bottle and tucks it back in the drawer where he found it.

"You're really not an ordinary sort of boy are you?" Kurt weakly kicks the bedspread to the side and tries to push the top of the sheet down far enough to get his legs under it.

Blaine laughs and looks back at Kurt with a puzzled frown; he helps him with the sheet. "What do you mean?"

"I don't know," Kurt says. "But that's definitely not a bad thing, Blaine. I like you." Kurt reaches for his hand.

"I like you too," Blaine says, interlacing his fingers with Kurt's. He wonders if he should offer a cuddle after all.

"Thank you," Kurt says. "For what you just did for me, that was a lot—more than I would have expected you to want to do for me."

"I loved doing it for you," Blaine says.

And Kurt squeezes his hand, gives him a long, thoughtful look, and says, "I believe you."

Chapter Text

"Are you going to jerk off?" Kurt asks, still squeezing Blaine's fingers.

Blaine reflexively brings his other hand to his groin, the light touch makes him wince at the keenness of the contact. He hadn't thought that far ahead. He was going to tuck Kurt in and leave him to nap. Kurt's gaze is drowsy, but interested. Even after five (Five‽) orgasms.

"Would you like me to?" Blaine asks, his fingers follow the line of his cock down to the softer shape of his balls. "Right now? While you... um, watch me?"

Kurt bites into his smile and blinks slowly, but he shakes his head. "That's a very nice thought, but I'm seriously about to pass out and I'd rather not miss your orgasm. Could you save it for me, for later?"

"Oh," Blaine says, and it comes out full of air and lacking volume.

"Would you enjoy that?"

"I think..." he says, and he moves his hand off himself, glances down. "I would, yes."

"Wonderful," Kurt says, and his hold on Blaine's hand loosens, but he doesn't let go. "You're okay then? If I let myself pass out?"

Blaine looks up again, nods and smiles. "Yes, I'm okay."

##

Blaine closes Kurt's bedroom door softly, takes his armload of clothing to his room, and gets dressed. Emotion, thought, and sensation refuse to cohere, leaving his mind scattered and slippery. Nothing feels bad, just jumbled. Probably not enough blood in his brain. He grabs his tablet and heads out to the living area. Reading may help him settle.

But Blaine ends up standing motionless, staring blankly at the apartment's interior. He casts his gaze around the room, looking for some kind of cue as to what he should do next. The sense of having shifted outside himself returns. After the intensity of the past twenty-four hours with Kurt, the silence and solitude is bizarrely stifling. So he stands in a kind of unmotivated and fuzzy indecision, trying to resolve the unreal knowledge that he now lives here, that this is his life now—for at least this week. Longer he hopes. But he can't shake the persistent sense of being out of place, a houseguest.

The rain has started in fitful, fat spatters against the windows, which are still open. That finally gives Blaine the impetus to act. He drops his tablet on the sofa and goes to close them. He turns back, and his attention falls upon the sacks of fresh produce on the kitchen island. In the heat of the afternoon, the arugula and watercress will be wilting, and the berries softening.

Kurt's refrigerator is almost as orderly as his pantry, but it lacks labels. Blaine does his best to discern the pattern of organization. He's not sure he's distributed the produce among the two vegetable bins appropriately. One seems to hold sturdy items like carrots, peppers, and zucchini , the other more fragile and crushable items like asparagus, fresh herbs, and baby spinach. But he's not sure because there's a Ziploc bag of lemons next to the asparagus. The punnets of berries end up on a shelf next to a pottle of crème fraîche. The poundcake he sets on the counter next to Kurt's domed stainless steel breadbox.

Once he's put away everything and folded the cloth bags neatly, Blaine's still on edge. He sits on the sofa with his tablet, but doesn't wake it. Instead scans the spines of the DVD's on Kurt's shelf by the television. Kurt's got a lot of British TV series, comedies and dramas alike. He's got all of Sex in the City (but not the movies), The Golden Girls, Designing Women, Murder She Wrote, Gilmore Girls, some less train-wrecky reality tv shows like Project Runway and Top Chef. Romantic comedies—all the classics—and dramas, musicals, golden age Hollywood films, various other dramas—historical and political mostly, many films that have been nominated for best picture over the past decade or more. Films of classic and popular novels. A few foreign films—mostly French—Disney musicals, everything Meryl Streep has made in the past two or three decades. A collection of short films directed by Artie Abrams...

Which reminds Blaine of what Kurt said over lunch, that Artie may be interested in working with Blaine on a score for his thesis project. Would it be presumptuous to watch one of Artie's films? To get a feel for his work?

Blaine's phone gives a sharp buzz from his pocket. He pulls it out and sees it's a text. From Tina. He'd promised to call her this weekend, and it's already late Sunday afternoon.

"Why do I have to get all your news from Sam these days?" she asks in her text.

Blaine smiles and types a reply, "Because Sam's an inveterate gossip?" He sends and then quickly adds and sends another, "Wait, no, that would be you. :P"

"Haha." Tina replies, "If you'd keep in touch better, I wouldn't have to ask Sam to dish on all your dirt."

That gives Blaine pause. "Dirt, huh? So what did he tell you?"

"Only that you've moved into a posh loft with a hot guy and you're paying for your rent with sex."

Blaine stifles his grin, but not the impulse to affectionately needle Tina. "Then I guess you're all caught up with me."

Predictably, his phone rings. He answers. "Hi, Tina!"

"Blaine," Tina says flatly. "What on Earth is going on? Tell me."

"Well, I finally found an apartment for the summer, and it's amazing," Blaine says, keeping the volume of his voice low. He stands and moves to the end of the room, faces the window. "I'll take some photos for you when it's sunny again."

"And the other thing? How Sam said you're paying your rent? Are you some kind of actual literal rent boy now?"

"No," Blaine says. "It's not like that. It's more mutual. He's helping me, and I'm helping him."

"With sex."

"Yes," Blaine says. "He has a health condition that requires reliable intimate management."

"That sounds like the worst pick up line since 'nice shoes, wanna fuck?'"

Blaine laughs, insists, "It's not a pick up line. It's a serious thing, and he's... he's a really good guy."

"Oh, god, you sound smitten. Are you smitten already? I mean, from what Sam said, this guy is pretty gorgeous."

Blaine has to smile at that, but— "He's great, I like him a lot, but we're not dating. It's friendly and we're enjoying each other's company, but it's not—he's not looking for a boyfriend, and neither am I."

"You do realize this is maybe the weirdest thing you've ever done?"

Blaine closes his eyes and exhales, because maybe? Except. "The weirdest thing? Is that it doesn't feel weird at all."

"Wow," Tina says. "Okay. I just—wow, Blaine. I really worry about you sometimes, you know?" It's not unfriendly.

"This is a good thing for me," Blaine says firmly.

"Have you told your parents what you're doing?" she asks, saccharine sweet.

"Of course not, and that's not even worth talking about, Tay-tay."

Tina's sigh rustles the line. "Fine, Blainey-days," she says. "Then explain to me how this is good for you? Getting yourself attached to a guy who just wants you around for sex. Haven't you got that t-shirt already?"

"That's not—"

"And don't tell me you can do this without getting your heart involved. I know you. You've cried over too many boys who've used you up for me to see how this is going to work out well for you."

"Because it's all up front, no one's pretending this is something else. We're on the same page. That's how it's going to work—we're being open and honest with each other."

"If you say so." She still sounds skeptical, and Blaine appreciates her protectiveness most of the time, but on this, he doesn't need to be mothered.

"Look, it's nice to feel like I'm truly helping someone, making a positive difference," Blaine says, and in saying it aloud to Tina, he understands better in his own mind, how he's experienced the difference between his previous unsuccessful relationships and regrettable hook ups, and the current arrangement with Kurt. "I'm not being used, Tina, I'm being useful. I mean, he appreciates me. It's nice."

"I know how you like to feel needed. Just..." She sighs again, and continues with more gentle concern. "Remember to take care of yourself in all this too, and what you need."

"I promise, I will," Blaine says, and he means it. He's learned his lessons the hard way, and he's got few illusions left about his own heart. He likes that Kurt seems to have a clarity about himself too.

"And send me some photos, too, all right?"

"Yeah, of course," Blaine says, and there's a more comfortable beat of silence between them then. Blaine—as quietly as he's able—pulls out an empty chair from the dining table, careful not to disturb any of Kurt's sewing materials. He sits and watches the patter and slide of the rain against the window. He asks, "So, tell me what's new with you? Did you get that internship?"

##

It's close to five o'clock when Blaine hangs up from his conversation with Tina. Kurt's still asleep, and Blaine's growing hungry. He contemplates the fresh produce in the fridge and decides to make dinner. After their afternoon session, Blaine can't imagine Kurt getting up and wanting to cook, but he's sure to be hungry too. And anyway, it's as he told Tina, he's enjoying being useful. Making dinner is another way to help care for Kurt on a day when his condition has demanded so much of his energy.

So Blaine goes to the fridge and considers the contents. Finds everything he needs for a light meal: fresh linguine with crème fraîche, lemon, arugula, and chili. The rest of Kurt's kitchen is just as meticulously organized as his pantry, and he has good quality tools. Blaine takes note of where he finds everything so he can return it all after. Kurt's Japanese hybrid chef knife is so sharp, Blaine could shave with it. It makes quick work of the small amount of prep he has, and soon enough, Blaine has all his ingredients ready and waiting for a sign of life from Kurt. When he hears the click of Kurt's bedroom door, he fills a stainless steel pasta pot and puts it on the stove to boil.

Kurt doesn't emerge immediately though; Blaine hears the rush of water in the pipes, and he turns down the stove until Kurt's out of the shower. When the water shuts off he turns up the stove and hopes his timing will be right. He sets two places at the island, turns on some lights to banish the deepening gloom as the sun sets behind the rain clouds, and grabs a couple bottles of water from the fridge.

Finally, Kurt ventures out, his hair damply mussed, wearing a lightweight teal green hoodie over faded, loose jeans. His bare feet scuff a whisper over the wood floors. "Hey," he says and pauses, frowning confusedly at Blaine. He drags a hand through his hair and blinks. "What're you doing?"

Kurt's tone of voice is not what Blaine expected. He smiles anyway, "Oh, um. Making dinner?"

Kurt doesn't return the smile. Instead his frown deepens. "I didn't ask you to do that."

"No—I thought you might be hungry when you woke up. I thought it'd be a nice thing for me to do."

"Oh..." Kurt says and he comes into the kitchen, hugging himself while peering critically at the bowls of ingredients waiting to be combined with the pasta. Blaine prickles with self-consciousness, but carries on: the linguine is nearly done, so Blaine adds the arugula to the pot of boiling pasta, just long enough to wilt it.

Blaine's phone bleeps and he grabs the pot with oven mitts, takes it to the sink. Kurt's still frowning and not saying anything more. Blaine bites back a reflexive apology, but he can't stop the doubt sinking in his belly. "Was it a mistake for me to cook tonight, Kurt?" Blaine tips the pot into the wide colander, glances over his shoulder to Kurt.

"You used the arugula?" Kurt asks.

"Yes?" Blaine transfers the pasta and arugula from the colander into a glossy red serving bowl he found on top of the fridge. Tosses in the lemon and cheese and doesn't let the tremble of his hands show. It smells amazing and looks beautiful. Blaine wants to be proud of his effort.

But Kurt doesn't seem to notice. His voice is brittle when he speaks again. "That was for a lentil salad I was going to make tomorrow night. The crème fraîche was meant to go into a zucchini soup, and the linguine—" Kurt's shoulders are a rigid line. "That was for tonight, but I was going to make it with asparagus and a watercress pesto."

"I didn't realize you had plans," Blaine says, and, yes, perhaps an apology is appropriate here. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed—"

"No," Kurt says. "I really wish you hadn't. I wish you'd've asked me before you started."

"I wanted to surprise you," Blaine tries to explain, careful not to sound like he's arguing or making excuses.

Kurt nods and stares at the bowl of pasta, blinking furiously while his lips press into a thin unhappy line. He looks like he's about to cry, which is startling and not at all what Blaine's aim had been when he started. Concerned, "are you okay?" Blaine asks.

A shudder and a deep breath, and Kurt tips his head back, forces a weak smile and swallows hard. "I know it may seem to you like I'm overreacting, but..." Kurt blows a stream of air out through pursed lips and doesn't look at Blaine. "This is... challenging for me. My kitchen is my sanctuary. No matter how crazy other things get, here—at least—I'm usually in control."

Understanding comes with a pang of sympathy. "I don't know what to say," Blaine says. "I didn't mean to intrude on your space. I'll... um, I'll make sure to ask you about anything else in the future, before I make any assumptions. I'm very sorry, Kurt."

"I know," Kurt says, and casts a fleeting glance to Blaine's face. "And I appreciate your good intentions. You're very sweet, and no one's done something like this for me in a while. It's a kind gesture." But then he grimaces and his tone turns humorlessly wry. "But I guess the honeymoon is over already, huh?"

"Not for me," Blaine says to reassure, but then his confidence falters into a burst of fear. "Unless you're saying this is a deal breaker?"

"God, no," Kurt says firmly, shakes his head. He unfolds his arms and reaches out and rests his fingers lightly at the edge of the counter beside Blaine and continues more gently, "No, Blaine, not at all. But I'm, let's say, very aware of my own limitations as a human being, and how much fun I'm not sometimes."

What Kurt offers is not an apology—Blaine neither expects nor requires one—but it is, in its way, a kind of salve, though Blaine wishes he could erase the note of self-deprecation in it. He tries to assuage it anyway, wants Kurt to know this is okay—that he is. They are. "I think... it's good to know our limitations. And we're still getting to know each other. So, please be patient with me while we figure this thing out?"

"I'll do my best," Kurt says. "Please believe that."

"I do," Blaine says, and he risks reaching out to touch Kurt's arm. "Come on, do you want to sit down? I think you'll like what I've made. Plus, there'll be plenty of room for dessert if you still want to make that ice cream."

Kurt's huff of laughter and brighter smile is all Blaine needs to banish his lingering worry. "I do," Kurt says, and, "okay." And his face relaxes into cautious good humor and relief. "The pasta does look good, but you'll have to help me figure out what to do with all my mismatched ingredients this week. I can't stand to have things be orphaned or go to waste."

"I can definitely help you with that," Blaine says.

"And if you want to cook sometimes—maybe we can come up with a schedule?"

"Yeah, that sounds smart," Blaine says, "I'd like that." He watches Kurt as he settles carefully on one of the stools while Blaine serves them both. "How are you feeling anyway, after... ah, this afternoon?"

Kurt smiles and his cheeks pinken; he takes a plate of pasta from Blaine. "Aside from my unfortunate and unscheduled kitchen related anxieties, I slept well and I'm feeling pretty relaxed in the whole sex-drive department." He rolls a forkful of linguine neatly against his soup spoon. "And nothing's too sore, not yet anyway."

"Oh, good. I was afraid I'd hurt you, in the heat of everything. I'm not usually comfortable being that... rough."

Kurt shrugs and shakes his head. "I'm not hurt," he says. "And I'm sure it sounds awful to say that I'm used to it, but—I'm used to it. A little discomfort sometimes, it's just how it goes."

"I'm sorry," Blaine says.

"Don't be," Kurt says. "I don't want you to be. I just sometimes need—" He waves his laden fork in vague illustration. "For it to be too much. You did well." Then he takes a bite of the linguine, and his eyebrows rise while his eyelids flutter. He chews, savors, and then lets out a mumbled, "Oh my god, this is amazing?"

Pleased, Blaine grins. "So are my kitchen trespasses forgiven?" he asks.

Kurt rolls his eyes. "Don't push your luck," he says, but he returns the grin.

##

"All right," Kurt says, after they've finished dinner. "It's been a long day, and I've not been at my best, so... why don't you go shower—take your time—while I make dessert? I'll make up for all the drama when you get back?"

"You don't want help cleaning up?"

"No. I'll clean up later, when we're done making more mess. It'll be fine for now."

"Sure, okay," Blaine says, and he sets down his dirty plate next to the sink and heads for his bedroom to get his toiletry kit.

"Oh, and Blaine?" Kurt calls after him.

"Yes?" He looks back.

"Be thorough, hmm?" Kurt's smile is kinked with suggestion.

"Yeah," Blaine says, an eager curiosity rises to warm his blood. "Okay."

He does take his time, and he is thorough, washing himself inside and out, trimming and shaving anywhere on his body that could use the extra attention—or anywhere Kurt may wish to pay extra attention. He uses his cologne sparingly, and combs his hair back into daytime order. Anticipation has him semi-hard by the time he gets back to his bedroom. Dresses in plaid sleep shorts and a brief matching robe. Skips putting on a t-shirt, but wraps and ties his robe closed securely. Then he goes back out to see what Kurt's up to.

From the kitchen Kurt greets him. He's uncorking a slender bottle of German Riesling. The main overhead lights are off, and it's just the shaded pendant lights over the island and the floorlamps in the living room providing illumination. A gray fleece blanket drapes the couch. It's kind of (Maybe?) romantic.

Kurt's smile is quick—either nervous, or he's started to get restless; Blaine can't tell tonight. "What's all this?" Blaine asks as Kurt comes around the island with a tray. He's got plates with thick slices of lemon pound cake, and scoops of magenta-swirled ice cream in squat martini style dessert glasses. There's a pair of white wine goblets and the bottle of wine. Kurt sets it down on the steamer trunk at an angle, using its edge to push aside the covered pottery bowl that rests in the middle of the trunk.

"I really..." Kurt bends to pour the wine. He passes Blaine a glass. "I want to help you feel relaxed and at home here. I don't mean to be difficult and proprietary, and I'm grateful that you're here, Blaine. So I thought maybe we could relax on the couch with our dessert, watch a movie—your choice—and just... take things from there?" Then he casts his gaze around the room, returns his attention to Blaine, bites his lip with a wince. "Or is this too much?"

"No, no," Blaine says. After all, he realizes, he's spent innumerable similar evenings with Sam and (or) Tina: dessert, drinks, a movie. They just didn't begin with either the hope for or the promise of sex. "It sounds like a wonderful way to spend the evening."

"Great," Kurt says, smiling widely in relief. He hands Blaine a glass. "Then," he says, holding his glass up in salute. "Here's to getting through our first whole day together?"

"I can drink to that." Blaine clinks his glass against Kurt's, and they both sip their wine.

"So there's everything you can see on the shelf there," Kurt says, tipping his glass toward the shelf of DVD's. "And I have a Netflix subscription. Or anything you've brought with you would be fine too."

Nothing too heavy in theme or drama, Blaine decides. He's not sure what Kurt will be in the mood for, but he wants to keep everything comfortable and fun. Maybe a musical, something to sing along with. He scans the shelf and My Fair Lady catches his eye. Can't go wrong with a classic like that. He pulls it off the shelf, shows Kurt. "How about this?"

"Audrey Hepburn. Perfect!" Kurt says; he settles at one end of the couch and picks up the remote while Blaine puts the disc in the player.

##

Their dessert dishes and wine glasses are empty and Blaine's zoned out into a comfortable repose, when—after "On the Street Where you Live"—Kurt reaches for the remote. He pauses the movie and turns to Blaine, and Blaine rouses himself from his food and movie induced haze. He can see, in the wan illumination from the television screen, that Kurt isn't pausing for a snack break. Still, Blaine's first impulse is to speak: "I sang that for my NYADA audition," he says. "The Harry Connick Jr. arrangement on piano."

Kurt smiles—seductive and quick—and leans into Blaine's space, puts a hand on his thigh and slides up under the edge of Blaine's short robe. "I auditioned with 'Not the Boy Next Door'," Kurt says lightly, as if the information has no bearing on anything, and his hand moves from Blaine's thigh to his groin. "Didn't get in though." Kurt thumbs over the swelling pulse of Blaine's cock. Pleasure jolts sharply.

"Oh..." Blaine says dumbly, for the blood in his brain has other places to be.

Kurt makes short work of the tie to Blaine's robe, and then he's got his fingers curling into Blaine's waistband and he presses a kiss low on Blaine's belly. Then—somehow—Kurt slides from the couch to kneel on the floor without losing his grip on Blaine's shorts. He raises his head to ask Blaine, "Lift up?" and Blaine pushes up his hips, curls his spine as he settles, scooting his ass closer to the edge of the sofa. "Just relax, and let me take care of you, okay?" Kurt says. Blaine nods, and soon, with efficiency and confidence, Kurt's got Blaine's boxers slumped around his ankles and Kurt's opening his mouth around Blaine's cock: snug wet slide and clever hot tongue, and even though Blaine's head still spins with the speed of Kurt's seduction, it's such a welcome bliss.

Unhurried now, Kurt sucks and slides and plays over the head of Blaine's cock. He doesn't take Blaine deep, but instead finds a crazy repeating pattern of motion and rhythm that builds with sluggish intensity. All Blaine can do is lean back and marvel. Not only at the agility of Kurt's tongue, but also at the sight of him. Last night had been so dark, but now Blaine can see. Kurt's eyes are closed and his eyelids are unmarred by tension. He's calm, as if this is some kind of erotic meditation. His dark lashes quiver against his pale cheeks and the flushed pink of his lips alternates between sweet yielding mobility and a tight sucking grip. Blaine watches the bob and fall of his loose hair over his forehead.

"Beautiful," Blaine murmurs, and he reaches to touch Kurt's temple, pushes a lock of hair with the back of his finger. Traces over the curve of Kurt's ear with the edge of his knuckle.

At that, Kurt opens his eyes and releases Blaine from his mouth. But he doesn't leave Blaine bereft of touch for long; he takes over with loose strokes of one hand. Then he quirks both an eyebrow and a self-satisfied smile. "I want to rim you. Do you enjoy a mouth on your ass?" he asks.

"Oh, I—" In an instant, Blaine flushes dizzingly hot and has to glance away from the directness of Kurt's gaze. It's not something Blaine's done often or recently—or always with unfettered enjoyment. But this doesn't seem like previous times, how it was with Sebastian or with that one weird hook-up. Blaine trusts that Kurt's going to get him off tonight, and Kurt looks like he genuinely wants to put his mouth on Blaine's ass, and Blaine wants him to. Blaine looks back, finds some breath, "Uh... yeah," but finishes more weakly than he intends, "Sure."

"Sure?" Kurt echoes and queries, raising one eyebrow higher and lowering his parted lips to mouth softly at Blaine's balls as his fingers work lazily over his cockhead. He holds eye-contact, pins Blaine in place with the intensity of it.

"Yes," Blaine says with more volume, and Kurt cocks his head and licks, inquisitively, as if he wants more affirmation from Blaine. Blaine shivers, tries to slow his speeding lungs, and adds, clearly as he can while heat twists up fast and tight in his belly, "I do. Please, Kurt."

Kurt's tongue curls off Blaine's skin and Kurt hums approvingly. "You shaved. Smooth. I really like that." Kurt lets go of Blaine's dick, rests his hands on top of Blaine's tensing thighs. And the way Kurt looks at him...

Blaine blinks at the ache of lost contact, and his head swims in the burn of his anticipation for more and different stimulation. "Oh," he says with numbed lips. "You said to be... ah, thorough." It's like Kurt's somehow set a fire under his skin. His whole body smoulders hot. And as he waits for Kurt to move or speak again, all of his awareness draws in, focuses upon Kurt: Kurt's desire, Kurt's approval. Kurt's intentions for him. Kurt. "I just want to be good for you," Blaine whispers. A terrible confession to make so baldly and so soon, something he shouldn't say maybe—shouldn't truly let himself feel, not as deeply as he wants to—but after the near mistake of this evening, and after talking to Tina, he knows the longing in his heart for what it is.

"You are," Kurt says. Two simple words, spoken easily: they land profoundly. And Kurt shifts then, to coax Blaine's legs up, untangles his ankles from his boxers, and pushes Blaine's thighs apart. Blaine offers no resistance. "Such a good boy," Kurt says with a lopsided, knowing grin, and though it's indulgent—or perhaps because it is—Blaine responds with his whole body, tension melts from his muscles and his awareness seems to float, light and tethered only to the immediacy of this. Kurt's thumbs catch at the tender inner base of Blaine's buttocks, spreading Blaine and pulling at his skin, exposing everything, and Blaine's heart thuds. His arousal flares with fresh urgency, and a small cry snags in his throat, muffled, childlike. The heated weight of Kurt's lust fractured gaze thrills him. "Would you hold yourself open for me?"

Blaine's helpless to anything but comply. In this moment, anything Kurt might ask of him, he'd do his best. He holds himself open, and Kurt lowers his head.

It's just a light, barely-there flicker of contact at first. The ticklish brush of Kurt's nose behind his balls and then, lower, the delicate edge of Kurt's tongue, soft-slick, neither quick nor slow. A strange, heady pleasure, it makes Blaine yearn for things impossible to hold. But ephemeral sensations slip past with time, marked in heartbeats and fingertips and lips. There, perfectly, in a singular flash of beautiful pleasure, and then gone forever. On to the next moment.

And the next is gratifyingly more, the wider spread of Kurt's tongue, more pressure and contact, concentrated and certain, but no less tender. Though hungry now, increasingly so. Passing shallowly, over and over, plying Blaine's body open. Eventually pointing and probing, and then seeking more deeply, dazzlingly so. Almost too much feeling to contain inside, but not enough to break free. He's held, right on the verge.

Blaine hears his own moans like they don't even originate within him. Feels more vividly, the vibration of Kurt's needful groans, pressed and fed into his body. Kurt's restless hands beg and bruise upon his flesh, and Kurt's desperation grows as his tongue jabs in, quick and erratic now, striving and straining to satisfy his desire, but Blaine knows this can't be enough for either of them.

"Oh, god, Kurt, would you... unh... you can fuck me now." Blaine says, surprising himself, for the words are dredged from some unknown reserve of verbal coordination.

Kurt stops, turns his head and breathes hard against Blaine's sweat-damp thigh until he stops trembling. "Yeah," Kurt says straightening. He's gorgeous, all glassy-eyed and wet-mouthed. Swollen lips, red cheeks, and clumsy hands. "I really need to... do that." He hauls off his hoodie, tosses it aside, and then twists to reach for the covered bowl on the trunk. Carelessly, he bumps the lid aside to pluck out a ribbon of condoms and lube. He passes Blaine the lube. "Can you do you? While I—?"

"Yeah," Blaine says, and takes the bottle, flips the cap and drizzles slippery gel over his fingertips. Braces his heels against the edge of the sofa, and takes his hand down to himself, pressing in roughly with two fingertips and gasping as he shoves in as far and as fast as he's able.

Kurt unzips his fly, pushes down his jeans and underwear, and tears a condom off the roll. Rips open the foil, but fumbles with the latex disc as he squeezes it out. It flips between his fingers, falls. He swears and catches it, but ends up having to hold it up to the lamplight to double-check it's up the right way before rolling it on.

With his free hand, Blaine passes him the lube, and Kurt makes hasty use of it. And then he shuffles forward, one hand guiding his cock, the other heavy and hot upon Blaine's shin. And then his cock is there, nudging Blaine's fingers out of the way. And then driving in thick and uncompromising, and oh god.

##

After, but not long after. After saying Kurt's name and watching his face as he came. Coming himself, so helplessly and wonderfully. Then getting up on wobbly legs, laughing and taking turns in the bathroom, getting dressed again. After all that, Blaine's back in the kitchen with Kurt, drying dishes as Kurt washes. And his helping Kurt clean up the kitchen, Blaine understands now, is an act of trust. He's still buzzing from the sex. Doing dishes together in the afterglow is oddly, comfortably good.

"So," Kurt says, peering sidelong at Blaine as he twists the dishcloth into the bowl of a wine glass to clean it. "Did all of that work okay for you?"

"You mean the sex?"

Kurt laughs. "Yes, the sex."

"I loved it," Blaine says, smiling and feeling unexpectedly soft and shy as he says it, warming at the admission.

"Even—um." Kurt stops and lets the cloth fall into the dishwater while he rinses and then sets the glass upside down on the dish rack. "I wondered. You kind of hesitated when I asked you about being rimmed."

And the pleased warmth turns to raging heat, flooding Blaine's face. He reaches for the glass, but only manages to say, "Oh, uh."

"Given the color you just turned," Kurt says, affectionately enough, but cautious and sincere in inquiry. "Is there something I should know. I mean, was that all okay with you?"

Blaine bites his lip and concentrates on drying the glass in his hand. "Yes. It was, I promise. I've just had mixed experiences with... that."

Kurt's still looking at him curiously, so Blaine reminds himself they're being open and honest with each other. That's how this works. He continues, haltingly, because these aren't things he's ever put voice to. "My first boyfriend, he wasn't really into it? But he'd do it to get me relaxed. Um. When we started doing anal, sometimes it took a while for me to be ready for him, so that was..." Blaine frowns. "Um, nice of him? But, not really something he liked doing. More of a means to an end, I guess."

"Okay," Kurt says, unsmiling, but interested. "And other times?"

"Only one other time, really," Blaine says. "Among my more regrettable hook-ups. The guy was— He approached me on the dance floor, and the way he looked at me... I was definitely interested." Blaine sets the dry glass aside and reaches for the plate Kurt's just set on the rack. "We danced, and he wasn't shy at all. Leaned in and told me straight up," Blaine takes a breath, fortifies himself to repeat the words. Putting on a deeper drawling voice helps, "'You've got a gorgeous ass, babe, you gonna let me eat it?'"

Kurt winces and nods. "Just like that, huh? I've met a few of those guys. Gotta appreciate the directness though."

"Well, except I'm pretty sure this guy? Was the inspiration for at least one Sex and the City B-plot. I mean, I was there to get laid, and I was kind of tipsy, so my decision making might not have been the best, but he was kinda hot and into me, so I let him take me to the bathroom, and... uh."

"Not good?"

"Good to start with? He turned me around and pretty much did what he said he was going to do. And after my boyfriend's general reticence, his enthusiasm was incredibly hot. I was really turned on, and so was he, but... heh." Blaine pauses and rubs the back of his neck. "The short version? He jerked off while he was down there, came all over me and my pants, said sorry, and then? Just... left."

"Left you hanging?"

"Yeah, which is... That can be hot in the right circumstances." Blaine gives Kurt a quick smile. "But he didn't explain and he didn't come back. I waited for a while? Longer than I should have probably. Thinking maybe he was just going to get some paper towels or something to help clean up his mess, or he needed to get a condom, or... I don't know what I thought. But no. He didn't come back, and I was... I had to pull myself back together and walk out of that stall all strung out with this random guy's jizz drying all over my pants."

"Oh god," Kurt's nose is wrinkled in equal parts horror and humor. He covers his mouth with both purple-gloved hands. "Blaine, that's awful."

"It was..." Blaine huffs a long sighing laugh. "So freakin' weird, I mean, who even does that? Rim and run?"

Kurt laughs behind his hands, but then puts on a super serious, stentorian movie-voiceover-guy voice: "The Rimrunner."

Which makes Blaine laugh too. He adopts a similar theatrical voice, poses with hands on hips—mindful of the dishtowel—shoulders back: "By day he's a mild mannered barista who knows just how you like your latte, but by night, he skulks in the shadows, searching for the perfect ass to feed his obsession. His victims call him—dun dun DUN—The Rimrunner!"

"Coming this fall," Kurt deadpans, but amusement lights his eyes. "All over you."

"Oh my god," Blaine's laughter surges up hard enough he has to put down the dish towel. He gasps and clutches his belly. Leans against the counter. When he can speak again, he looks at Kurt, returns his amused and fond smile and says, more soberly, "You know, I've never told anyone that story. It's just so—" Blaine was going to say humiliating, but Kurt cuts him off.

"Amazing," Kurt says. "It's amazing, Blaine. He's like some sad, apologetic ass-vampire. You and your ass survived his depredations. Be proud of yourself."

Blaine can't catch his breath after that.

##

"Oh, hey," Blaine says to Kurt, who's standing in the hall as Blaine comes out after brushing his teeth for bed. Kurt's in short red and white striped pajamas. They make him look adorably boyish.

"Hi," Kurt says softly, as if he doesn't wish to wake someone. He gestures toward the bathroom door. "Just going to wash my face and brush my teeth too," he says.

"Right," Blaine says. "Um, since you're here, I was wondering—do you try to keep a schedule overnight? Should I set an alarm and come to you?"

Kurt shakes his head. "No. I prefer to sleep for as long as I can. After the day we've had, I'm planning to sleep like I'm dead until my dick decides to resurrect me."

Blaine laughs. "Okay, that's fair."

"You're okay with me coming in whenever?"

"Oh, yeah" Blaine says. "Last night, that was—for me—really hot."

"Yeah?"

"Mmm, old adolescent fantasy come to life, you know?"

"Oh, intriguing. You'll have to tell me about that one sometime."

"Yeah... um, so, really Kurt, it's fine. You don't even need to, uh—" Blaine's grateful for the gloom of the hall, otherwise Kurt would see his blush. "You don't even need to wake me up first. You can just come in and... get started."

"Oh," Kurt says. It comes out like a sigh of revelation. Or Blaine can easily imagine it as such. "You'd be okay with that?" Kurt asks to verify.

"If you're okay with it, then I am, absolutely." And even with the heat of embarrassment at speaking of his desires so frankly, Blaine finds it remarkably easy with Kurt to speak of them. He's never experienced this kind of comfort with someone he's slept with. He takes it as a good sign, confirmation that this is good for him. Good for them both.

"I think, yes, I could definitely be okay with that."

"Then I'll look forward to seeing you in several hours," Blaine says, feeling even more confident in the mild flirtation. He steps back toward his bedroom. The sooner he goes to bed, the sooner Kurt can come to him. "Sleep well, Kurt."

"Good night, Blaine."

Chapter Text

Warmth, pressure. Touch and increasing weight behind it. The light caress of air on bare skin. His back and thighs. Blaine lies naked on his belly.

Everything is dark and comfortably heavy, like being buried in down-filled pillows. Muffled and safe. His body feels irretrievably immobile. He could maybe move if he needed to, if he really tried. But as it is, he feels like a mold cast with cooling lead and his muscles lack the impulse to move his limbs.

Similarly, he could maybe open his eyes, but he doesn't want to. His desire is to stay as he is, sluggishly drifting with only vague flickers of consciousness seeking the surface before sinking back down. Like the glistening back of a dolphin. He comes up for a breath—gasps, shudders, and lets himself dive deeper again. The heat of a palm between his shoulder blades presses him securely into the cushion of his mattress.

The hand slides down his spine, comes to rest in the dip at the small of his back. Then, across the curve of his shoulder, passes hot breath and soft lips. Light kisses drag from there up the slope of his neck.

Weight shifts around him; he hears a rustle, a muted thud, and a sharp snap that makes his muscles jump and his awareness sharpen. Then the hand on his back is gone. He makes a noise, tenses.

"Hey, shh," whispers Kurt behind and above him. "It's me." Warm brush of skin against skin, tantalizing; it thrills and soothes. A cool wet touch at his sacrum, slipping down between his buttocks. It makes heat flare and desire catch.

"Ah..." Blaine sighs and stirs, tries to spread his thighs, but they're bracketed by Kurt's knees and he's held. So he relaxes again, relaxes into Kurt breaching his body with a fingertip. Kurt pushes in so slowly, and Blaine lets his body yield and open, to take and hold that careful rousing touch.

Of course it's Kurt, but it's simple to let youthful fantasies mingle with his sleep muddled reality, for Kurt to become the anonymous midnight lover he once dreamed up for himself when he was a lonely fifteen year old.

But then Kurt quietly asks (his fantasy lover rarely spoke and never asked), "Okay?" as he works in and out slowly, shifting the angle as he goes, circling with the base of his finger, revolving a steady massage within the gripping ring of muscle. And Blaine has to respond to reality.

"Mmm, yeah," he slurs against his pillow, feebly flexes his spine to emphasize yes.

"Good," Kurt says, and keeps going, steady and easy, and Blaine lets his belly soften, his spine and his mind sink. The twinging pleasure builds incrementally to a deep simmer in his gut. It tangles with his slide back into semi-consciousness; surreal and nonsensical images flash to accompany sensation. Nothing coheres. He just floats along with it.

He wakes fully when Kurt gently withdraws his finger. Blaine groans at the loss, but then contact returns, wet and wide: the gorgeous blunt pressure of Kurt's cockhead. A pause on the threshold to ask permission: "Still okay?"

"Please," Blaine mumbles and tips his ass up. "Yes."

After that, there's no more falling back toward sleep, there's only the hot—so hot—fat advancing drive in, in, in, until Blaine's nearly choking on the fullness of it. Then the searing pull of retreat hauls all the breath back into his body. And then Kurt's pushing in again, forcing the air from his lungs in a soft moan. Blaine keeps his eyes closed, curls his fingers into his pillow, and holds on. Lets Kurt do as he wishes and accepts the bliss that brings.

Kurt keeps it slow for some time, a deep relentless drag that seeks and finds every nerve ending, every point of delicious pressure, dredging up swells of ecstasy in feverish billows that rush him like a tempest in one moment—sending him gasping and moaning toward his orgasm—only to recede into gentler wafts, enough to keep him aloft, buoyed in a kind of stasis of pleasure. Each time, Kurt takes him higher, but not quite all the way. Blaine squirms beneath Kurt's attention, trying to take hold of that little bit more. Arches his spine, braces his elbows against the mattress, and shoves back, tries to spread himself farther open. "Please, Kurt," he says.

"Oh god," Kurt groans, and his body heat and weight come down upon Blaine's back, sweaty and kinetic. His thrusts shorten into grinding twists, screwing emphatically into Blaine's ass like he's trying to pry him even wider so he can drive in even deeper. He pants against Blaine's jaw. Scrapes a teeth-filled kiss along the edge of it. Bites gently at Blaine's earlobe. "So fucking sweet," he mumbles, nuzzles behind Blaine's ear, into his hair. Kurt grabs at Blaine's hip, holds him in a rough squeezing grip, digging in with his short nails as his movements steady and speed. Sharp, hard shoves; quick and dazzling collisions between their bodies, crimp Blaine's lower back and rock his whole body against the bed.

Blaine makes a loud noise, and it's something between a mindless animal snarl and a greedy wordless demand. With Kurt's hips ramming against his ass, Kurt's chest pressed against his shoulders, Kurt's mouth sucking and nipping at the back of his neck, and Kurt's legs trapping his own. With Kurt's cock stuffing him so fantastically full, over and over and over, he's swiftly overwhelmed, and he comes, with wrenching spasms that nearly make his calves cramp.

Kurt comes soon after with a helpless, bitten off whimper.

He stays inside Blaine, heavy and unmoving but for labored breaths that puff against Blaine's cheek. It occurs to Blaine he should say something, but his tongue and his brain don't want to coordinate anything so complex as speech. He reaches back to awkwardly skim his fingertips along Kurt's flank, grunts contentedly against his pillow, and wriggles beneath Kurt to encourage him to stay inside as long as he wants to—he's still so beautifully hard. Maybe Kurt needs to come again and he's just catching his breath between orgasms. They'll probably need a fresh condom and definitely more lube, but for now, this is nice. Blaine gets an elbow under himself, pushes up and turns his face further toward Kurt's—

Only Kurt tenses and says, "Oh, god, I'm sorry, I must be getting heavy," and he pushes up, pulls back, slips out of Blaine's body, and sighs shakily. Moves away, down and off to the side. But he pets down the sweaty line of Blaine's spine as he goes, strokes over the curve of his ass and leaves his hand resting on the back of Blaine's thigh.

"You weren't," Blaine says. He winces and flexes his feet to stretch out his legs before he attempts any more ambitious movement. Asks, "Do you need more?"

"I—uh. I don't think so? That was pretty—wow. You're all right? I was trying to go easy but then you..."

With a soft laugh, Blaine squirms and rolls over, and Kurt takes his hand back to himself. "I'm vastly better than all right," Blaine says.

He finds Kurt kneeling beside him, and in the dark, Blaine can just make out his smile and the glitter of his eyes. The cock of an eyebrow. "Vastly?" Kurt inquires.

"Vastly," Blaine confirms. He stretches an arm to Kurt, inviting Kurt's hand to his own. "That was wonderful, Kurt."

Kurt rubs his own thighs before tentatively reaching back and grasping Blaine's fingertips. "It was. But I should clean us up and let you get back to sleep."

"Should?" Blaine asks. "You don't have to go so soon."

"No, really, I'm fine now, and I've got work tomorrow, so I should, yeah. Go." Kurt withdraws his hand and tugs away a hand towel that's got its edge caught under Blaine's ass. Blaine had barely noticed it was there. He must've slept through more than he realized: Kurt undressing him, thoughtfully placing that towel, turning him over. It's a thrill to imagine it all.

Kurt grabs a wipe from the nightstand and concentrates on scrubbing Blaine's belly and thighs clean. He doesn't look up, and the vibe between them grows strange, like there's something Kurt wants to say or do that he's not saying or doing, and Blaine checks his impulse to guess. He told Kurt he wouldn't make any more assumptions. So he asks, "Are you sure you're all right?" Glances a touch along Kurt's forearm to draw his attention.

When Kurt finally does look up, his eyes are an indecipherable dark glimmer. All Blaine can tell is that Kurt's not looking directly at him. Kurt pauses, crumples the soiled wipe in his hand, sets it aside, and doesn't reply immediately.

"Kurt?" Blaine prompts, lifting himself up to his elbows.

With a little shake of his head, Kurt replies, "Yes, I am." He leans forward and kisses Blaine on the forehead. "Thank you," he says against Blaine's skin, soft and achingly sincere. He touches Blaine's cheek and lifts his head, but his gaze remains lowered, fixed somewhere close to Blaine's mouth. "You're so generous with me, I'm very grateful."

It's an odd thing to say. Words of reassurance or endearment are thick in Blaine's throat, rising up from his unguarded psyche. He traps them, unspoken. Swallows them back down and doesn't say any of them. Says instead, "I'd really like to make you pancakes in the morning. With the blueberries. May I, please?"

Kurt laughs in surprise and says, "I— Yes, okay."

After Kurt leaves but before Blaine drifts back to sleep, he sets his phone alarm, to wake him early enough to have breakfast ready for Kurt when he gets up.

##

"Oh my god," Kurt says around his first mouthful of pancakes. "These are amazing—so light. What do you do to get this texture without unpalatable amounts of baking powder?" Kurt peers at a cross-section of pancake.

"Beat the egg whites separately, and also use confectioners sugar instead of granulated. Technically it's a dessert pancake," Blaine says. "More coffee?" He reaches for the French Press and refills Kurt's proffered mug. The morning sun lights Kurt's irises like shallow tropical ocean.

"Genius," Kurt says with a lopsided pull of his lips. "Good at sex and pancakes. I don't know, Blaine, are you sure you're real?"

Blaine grins and looks down at his plate.

The morning's sex follows soon enough, while the dishes still litter the counter. In the shower, Kurt leans back against the tiled wall with his eyes closed and Blaine takes his cock in hand. Steady strokes, not too quick at first, but speeding up to honor Kurt's request for speed and efficiency. Blaine watches Kurt flush and arch and gasp and come. It takes less than five minutes, and then Kurt's reaching for this shampoo and scooting aside to let Blaine rinse his hand off in the jet of water and slip his washcloth from the rail.

"I could blow you?" Kurt says as he works up a lather in his hair. "If you like?"

Blaine lowers his facecloth and looks at Kurt. The offer is sincere, of course, but Kurt will be wanting to start work. "Rain check?" Blaine says.

There's some relief in Kurt's smile as he rinses his hair. "Save it for me for later, then?"

"I can do that," Blaine says, and then he takes his turn washing his hair while Kurt steps out and dries off. From where it rests beside the sink, Kurt's phone rings.

With a sigh, Kurt reaches first for his robe and then for the phone. "And so it begins." He leaves the bathroom, closing the door softly, before he answers.

##

Once dressed, Blaine grabs his tablet and ventures to the living room. At the dining table, Kurt's set up with his open laptop, papers and sketchbook, and bluetooth headset. He's talking to someone on the phone about (as far as Blaine can tell) an upcoming charity reception at the Guggenheim, and he doesn't look up.

Blaine sits on the couch and searches for recipes to make use of lentils, zucchini, and fresh mint. Settles on a salad with brown rice, which he saw in Kurt's pantry, and he sends the recipe's link to Kurt's personal email. Within seconds, Kurt's email notification bings from across the room. Blaine watches Kurt check it, click, scan, and then look up at him with a smile and a thumbs up.

Dishes next. Mindful of disturbing Kurt's work, Blaine takes his time to avoid a surplus of clanging and clashing. Then he heads back to his room to plug his headphones into his keyboard and log on to his NYADA student account on his tablet. He scrolls through the stock video clips the professor has uploaded for students to score, clicks on the first one that catches his interest, plays a few melodies to try to capture the mood evoked by the imagery of a wing of Canada geese taking flight from a fallow field in a sunrise lit fog. He watches the clip over and over, tinkers with the keyboard, pencils a few notes, hums a counterpoint.

And he startles when a sharp knock on his door comes. Blaine swipes his headphones from his ears and calls out, "yes?"

Kurt opens his door slowly. "Am I interrupting?" he asks.

Blaine hits pause on the video playing and shakes his head. "Nothing too serious," he says. "Just hunting for my muse this morning."

Kurt leans against the door frame and tilts his head, smiling. "Is she often elusive?"

"Still trying to find her way here from Manhattan, I expect," Blaine says.

"Give yourself some time to settle in," Kurt says, and then his gaze ticks off Blaine and his smile diminishes. His hand drifts to his belt buckle. "I'll be heading in to the office soon, so I..."

"Oh!" Blaine pushes back his chair and stands. The clock reads quarter to twelve. More time than he realized has passed. "Of course. What would be best?"

"Your mouth, please?" Kurt says, pinching at the outside seam of his trouser leg. "Can you keep it... tidy?"

"Yes," Blaine says. "Come in and sit down?"

The tension slides from Kurt's shoulders and his smile regains its strength. "Thank you," he says. He unbuckles and undoes his fly and sits on the edge of Blaine's bed. Blaine kneels and puts his hands on Kurt's knees.

He takes more time than he did in the shower, to try to keep Kurt from getting too hot and sweaty and in need of a second shower before work. He closes his eyes and concentrates on the warm weight of Kurt's hand on the back of his neck, the speed and depth of Kurt's breaths, and the tension growing in his thighs.

He swallows everything and stays down until he's sure Kurt's done. Then he goes to tuck Kurt back into his underwear but hesitates. He takes a breath for himself before he looks up. Kurt's leaning back on straight arms, his eyes are closed, and his expression is placid, his lips parted around even, deep breaths. "Another?" Blaine asks.

Kurt shakes his head and slowly opens his eyes. "Thank you, Blaine, no." Kurt stands quickly, tucking his shirt tails into his pants and zipping up. "I need to get going."

"What time should I expect you back?" Blaine asks as he follows Kurt out. He hovers a little uselessly while Kurt gathers his satchel, laptop, and other things he needs from the dining table.

"Um," Kurt says. He glances up from shuffling some loose printed pages together. "Usually, I get back close to nine. I've got a friend I get a drink with after work sometimes. But now that you're here, I should be back seven-ish? I've already cooked the lentils and rice for dinner, they're in the fridge. There's some curried chicken salad in there too, second shelf down in the green glass container—organic free range—if you want that for lunch. And help yourself to more of the pound cake, and coffee or tea or juice. Please be at home, just—"

"Don't use up your dinner ingredients. It's fine, Kurt. I'll be fine." Blaine says, and he holds the door for Kurt as he hoists the strap of his bag over his head, settles it on his shoulder, and pivots to leave.

"Thank you again," Kurt says, his smile flashes a little too bright, and then he's gone and Blaine exhales.

The taste of Kurt's semen is still upon Blaine's tongue. He goes to the fridge to get a blue bottle of water. Walks over to the window as he takes a swig. Lunch hour bustle fills the sidewalks and the street. He spots Kurt rounding the corner with his satchel bouncing against his hip; his orange and black butterfly print shirt is bright in the crowd.

A smile bends Blaine's lips and then a huff of quiet laughter parts them against the cool neck of the bottle. It's not amusement but—he laughs again, properly—happiness. "Okay," he says to himself. He's been living here for just over 48 hours, has known Kurt just over a week, has been responsible for—Blaine walks back to the kitchen and tries to catalog each one—seventeen or so of Kurt's orgasms. "Not bad," he says.

So this will be his summer. Gorgeous apartment with a gorgeous man whose company he enjoys and who values his presence and care. Good sex and friendship without the mess of mismatched expectations. Someone with whom he can be honest. It would be perhaps too cynical to wonder what the catch may be. After all, hasn't Kurt told him already? The honeymoon won't last, the demands on his time and on his body will become less enjoyable.

But not yet, not even close. For three months, Blaine's confident he can sustain this with enjoyment. Whatever reservations he had at the start, when he replied to Kurt's email, are gone. This is something he can do and he can do it well, something he can do with pleasure. And at the end of three months? Perhaps that'll be the real catch for him. But there's no point trying to time travel. For now, he has more than what he needs for his own summer plans.

But before he returns to his keyboard, he gets his phone and takes some photos of the loft to send to both Tina and his mother, to whom he owes an update. The diffuse morning light is pretty, and Blaine doesn't use any filters before he resizes the best images and attaches them to two emails. He writes his mother a brief message to go with: "Finally! I found a great apartment in Brooklyn with a great guy who had a spare room going. It's a bit farther out than I'd hoped, but the neighborhood is safe, near the Navy Yard." He closes with an inquiry about her garden club and a question about what she and Dad will be doing for their anniversary next month. Hits send and feels like he's done his filial duty.

Tina replies to his email with a single question. "Wow, nice. Are you *sure* this guy's not an ax murderer?" Blaine replies with an eyeroll emoji.

He has two texts from Sam on his phone too, leftover from this morning when he had his phone off: "got a shoot wed near ur new digs," followed by, "Shall we do lunch?" Sam's affected British accent (inspired by, Sam says, Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey) on the last sentence is easy to imagine.

"Yes, let's. I shall wear my best frock coat," Blaine replies, saying the words out loud as he types them.

He makes himself a sandwich and more coffee, eats at the island while looking through free-to-use clips on YouTube, decides he really doesn't want to score cat videos, and then rewatches the one with the geese a few more times while he hums the melody he's already composed, wondering if it'd sound better on strings than piano. After he washes his plate, he's still not had anything really spark, so he sends Kurt a brief text, "Okay if I watch your DVDs of Artie's stuff?"

"Go for it," comes Kurt's prompt reply, followed shortly by, "Just don't judge me too hard when you get to the Vogue video remake, okay?"

Interesting. "You realize I'm going to watch that one first now, right?" Blaine sends back.

It's a minute before he gets another text from Kurt: "And here I thought you'd be gentlemanly enough to say you'd skip it." He adds a winking smiley and a simple exhortation, "Enjoy!"

Smiling, Blaine grabs the remote and the disc and gets set up to watch. The "Vogue" video (featuring a Coach Sylvester as Madonna) is on the menu of the oldest disc, dated eight years ago. So Kurt and Artie were in High School together too? Blaine sits back on the sofa to watch. Mercedes is in the video as well, and a bunch of attractive dancers of both sexes who look too old to be high school kids, but Kurt is... Kurt is, even at sixteen or seventeen, beautiful.

"I thought you said you were a nerdy late bloomer?" Blaine texts with his thumb as he rewinds the disc and replays a fleeting shot of Kurt, posing glamorously in black and white, a fan ruffling his hair as he moves through his pose in slow motion with his lips forming a perfectly seductive shape on the lip synced, "Oooooh." He's younger, yes, pale and smooth and soft cheeked, but—

Blaine's phone vibrates: "Don't underestimate what a nice suit, clever camera angles, and fuzzy filters will do."

"Hey," Blaine types back. "You're adorable and very pretty and, I would even say sexy if that didn't make me sound like a total pervert now, but if we'd been at school together? I would've asked you out."

"You don't have to flatter me to get lucky. Remember, I'm a sure thing."

"Whatever :P," Blaine texts back. "You're lovely in this."

It's a while again before he gets a reply. "Thank you, Blaine."

And Blaine leaves the conversation there. Kurt's at work, and he's been pushing the bounds of propriety with flirtatious texts. So he sits and watches through the rest of the disc of Artie's early high school work. Most of it features the Glee club, and some of it is... Blaine's not sure what to make of "Run, Joey, Run". It must be satire, but a young Miss Rachel Berry delivers her performance around her three different Joey's with such intensity, Blaine can't be sure.

He gets the next disc, clips Artie used in his application to the film school, and settles in to be inspired. Ones that catch his attention he watches a few times muted. Much of the work is, in some ways, overly mannered for Blaine's taste--a bit too post modern--certainly designed to impress. But Artie's got a good eye for of proportion, light, and movement. Blaine considers one short piece in particular. It's five minutes of a wobbly hand-held camera following a scruffy dog along the shabby streets of downtown Lima as he goes about his canine business. It's got no score, just the ambient sounds of the city and the dog's claws clicking on the pavement. Blaine stops the disc, leaves it in the player, and heads back to his keyboard to pick out some threads of emotion without looking at the video directly, just to score his memory and impressions.

##

Some hours later, when his phone rings, Blaine's still sitting at his keyboard, absorbed in what he's working on: he's got a few pages of staff paper filled in. Blaine hauls his brain out of writing space and reorients himself. Notices the lack of sunlight behind his curtain as he reaches for his phone.

"Hey, Kurt."

"Hi." Kurt's voice is clipped and breathless. "I'm walking home from the subway, and I'm going to ah... need you fairly promptly when I get there, so I wanted to give you a heads up?"

"Okay, see you soon," Blaine says, and Kurt hangs up.

Blaine's not sure what exactly to expect when Kurt comes in—what he'll want. Blaine will aim to be ready for all options. It's about a fifteen minute walk from the subway, so he's got time. He heads to the bathroom to freshen up, strips his clothes off in favor of his short plaid robe, and then wonders if he'd be better off waiting in his room or Kurt's. To avoid presumption, he decides his room. Hastily, he tidies up his work space, gets the lube out, and puts a condom on the night stand. Figures Kurt will be more likely to want to fuck him than get fucked, if he's got any soreness leftover from yesterday.

Blaine leans back, opens his robe, and spreads his legs. He slicks up his fingers and starts to prep himself. It feels both self-indulgent and bold. He strokes his cock with his free hand while he pushes in with three fingers. He's rushing himself, but he knows he can take it. Kurt didn't sound like he wanted to wait.

The sound of the door comes, and then Kurt's voice, "Blaine?"

"I'm in my room," Blaine calls out.

He hears the decisive snap of the lock, the thud of Kurt dropping his bag on the floor, and the clatter of his keys in the aluminum platter on the console table near the door. The clunk of his shoes coming off follows, and then Kurt's soft footfalls approach, quick and even. "I need to wash my hands and—" Kurt leans into Blaine's doorway, one hand braced on the jamb.

His eyes widen and he sways forward. "Oh... you..."

"Hi?" Blaine says. Kurt stares wordlessly, and Blaine stops moving. He lets go of himself and eases his fingers out, brings his knees together as he reaches for a tissue. Scoots up against his pillows and wipes the lube off his fingers. "Uh, I wasn't sure—?"

"Let me just..." Kurt cuts him off and jerks his thumb in the direction of the bathroom. "I'll be right with you."

Blaine fidgets with the edges of his robe and waits for Kurt, who's stripped down to his briefs when he returns. He crawls up onto the bed, looking dazed and hungry. Gets close and hesitates to touch. He's not looking at Blaine's face, but at his midsection.

"Was that too much?" Blaine asks.

"What?" Kurt blinks and looks up.

"For me to... start without you. I didn't mean to assume—"

"No, no, not at all. I—" Kurt touches his belly, near his navel, and his lips twitch wider. "It was a wonderful way to be met."

Relieved, Blaine returns the smile. "So, um... How do you want me?" Blaine asks. He aims for seductive but it comes out too thin.

"Could I, please... have your mouth first and then your ass?"

"Oh..." Blaine's skin prickles hot. "Yeah... how shall we—"

"Can you—hands and knees?"

"Yeah... yeah." Blaine shrugs off his robe and falls forward, to all fours, facing Kurt, as Kurt kneels up and shuffles close. Blaine reaches for Kurt's hip, opens his mouth, and pulls him in, as far as he can, sucking long and hard.

"Oh god," Kurt says. He curls over Blaine, pushing down his spine to his tail bone with one hand. "That feels so good."

Blaine hums his agreement.

And then Kurt's reaching farther, down between Blaine's buttocks and his fingers find Blaine's slick hole. He rubs and presses and pushes in with one, fucking Blaine with just the tip while Blaine slides up and down his cock. It's a delicious tease of sensation. Blaine groans helplessly and his knees skid wider. He swallows around Kurt hungrily, moves faster, sucks harder—wants Kurt to come in his mouth—and soon—so he can turn around take him in his ass. He moans around Kurt's cock, tugs at Kurt's hip to encourage him to move.

"You want me to fuck your mouth?" Kurt asks.

Blaine nods, best he can and hums his affirmation.

Two fingertips hook in his ass then, fucking more roughly and with haphazard rhythm, and Kurt moves his hips with cautious force but sure rhythm. Blaine takes it, sucking noisily and hard while grinding back against Kurt's hand. Kurt uses his hold on Blaine's ass to tug, urging him forward as he thrusts into his mouth. It makes Blaine feel weirdly compressed and caught between the competing stimulation. It doesn't take long for Kurt to come.

"Oh god," Kurt says, shuddering and pulling his hand free. "Please, oh, god, I need..."

Blaine tosses the condom back to Kurt and turns around. Gets more lube on his fingers and pushes them back inside himself while Kurt gets the condom on. Then Kurt's cock is pushing in, right alongside Blaine's fingers, and he's gripping Blaine's wrist, holding his hand just there, palm flat against one ass cheek, two fingers jammed in his ass. Kurt fucks him jerkily, with his dick dragging inside and along Blaine's knuckles.

"So good," Kurt says. "So good, Blaine."

Blaine collapses to one elbow and presses his forehead into the bedding, rocks with Kurt's motions, lets Kurt make use of his body, and loves every damned second of it. His orgasm winds up deep and sort of ticklishly, just at the edge of his grasp. But no less inevitable for it. His thighs shake violently when he comes. And after he does, Kurt pulls his hand free, takes Blaine's hips in twin tight grips, and fucks him hard and quick. The forceful thrusts crumple Blaine's spine, and Kurt plows him down into the mattress until Blaine's flat on his belly, pinned and blissfully helpless and Kurt comes too.

"Blaine," Kurt says, and his teeth graze the back of Blaine's shoulder as he shivers through his aftershocks, grunting softly as he works through a final few deep churning thrusts, swiveling his hips as if seeking every last measure of release possible.

Much as he did overnight, Blaine reaches back for Kurt, gets as good a grasp as he can upon Kurt's sweaty skin. "Will you stay in me," he says. "Just for a little longer? If you can? Please?"

"Yeah," Kurt says. And like last night, he's still hard in Blaine's ass, but he's not seeking another orgasm. He works his hips languorously, just feeling and filling, and Blaine goes boneless beneath him, wallowing in the afterglow, well-used and wonderful.

Eventually, Kurt's hips still and relax, but he doesn't pull out. "Have you ever worn a plug?" Kurt asks him.

Blaine stirs and turns his head. "You had one in that first night when you came to me."

Kurt presses back into him firmly, holding deep and still; Blaine shivers and feels the stretch wonderfully. "Yes, but that's not an answer to my question," Kurt says.

"I've used them as foreplay and while, uh, jerking off."

"Okay," Kurt says. "I was wondering if you'd like to wear one to bed for me?"

"Oh... I don't know? I've never worn one that long."

"It's just that... you seem to like this," Kurt nudges his hips forward again, and Blaine's breath catches. "Being full. Being open?"

"I do," Blaine says.

"I could put one in you now. See if you like having it in while we have dinner?"

"Oh," Blaine says, and he shivers as Kurt finally pulls out of him, deliberate and slow, letting him feel every millimeter of the slide. "All right."

"Stay just as you are," Kurt says and pads off across the hall.

Blaine waits, unmoving, with gooseflesh pimpling his skin and anticipation coiling in his chest and gut. Kurt returns quickly and as he approaches the bed says, "I have three for you to choose among," he says, "unless you'd prefer that I pick one for you?"

"Your choice," Blaine says and he closes his eyes.

"Do you want to see it first?" Kurt asks.

"No," Blaine says. He folds his arms to pillow his head and smiles, keeping his eyes shut. "Just... put it in. I trust you."

"Okay," Kurt says, and he hums thoughtfully and speaks as if to himself. "Well, this one's not really for sleeping, though it's fun to wear while you're moving around. Maybe we'll save that one for another day." A clank of something hard and metallic on his nightstand. "And this one," Kurt says, "is, hrm, rather distracting in its dimensions. Probably not the best place to start." A duller thud follows. "So we'll go with the still pleasurable but somewhat less ambitious one."

"Sounds good." Blaine grins, and he hears the snap of Kurt opening the lube, the wet squirt and suck of the bottle as Kurt squeezes some out.

"It's blue," Kurt says. "If you're wondering—a kind of a shimmery baby blue."

"Sounds pretty," Blaine says, "I'm sure it'll complement my complexion."

Kurt snorts a laugh and his hand is warm on Blaine's ass, gently parting his buttocks and touching the wet rounded tip of the plug to Blaine's hole. It's soft and smooth and goes in easily—what feels like an inch of length the width of a large finger—before catching and stopping at a narrowing. It's a negligible presence, but a more promising thickness nestles against his anus. Blaine imagines a series of graduated fused beads. He wonders how many there'll be. The next, wider section slips in easily too, sending an electric shiver through him. That stretch he feels more; he's still so sensitive after being fucked.

"Good?" Kurt asks.

"Mmhm," Blaine says.

The third bead makes him gasp. It's closer to the girth of Kurt's cock, and the way it gently opens him as its widest part eases in—and then abates—sparks a delicious twinge to linger. Beneath Blaine's belly, his dick throbs its agreement.

"I like this one too," Kurt says. His smile is easy to imagine. He pushes again—one more bead, and the stretch is greater, undeniable and wonderful. "There you are," he says.

But then, instead of letting go, Kurt tugs, dragging the plug slowly back out, and that sensation—of being stretched open again, but from the inside out—makes Blaine outright groan. And then the next smaller bead slips out, and the next, and the last, until just the tip is pressed against him again and Blaine feels empty and aching. He flushes hot and squirms, barely stops himself from grinding his hardening cock into the bedding.

Then Kurt pushes them all back in—all at once—one firm shove to fill him back up, a gorgeous ripple of widening sensation, and Blaine feels the flat base of the plug flush against him, caught between his buttocks—narrow enough to rest comfortably, but he has to take a breath to calm his reflexive shuddering.

"I could fuck you with this thing," Kurt muses. "I bet you'd love it."

Panting, Blaine catches his breath and lifts his head to look over his shoulder at Kurt. "You'd win that bet."

Kurt's smile is slow and pleased. He taps the base of the plug once before taking his hands back to himself. "Maybe later. You know what?" he says, glancing from Blaine's ass to his face.

"What?"

"That color does bring out your eyes," Kurt says. He grins impishly and gives Blaine a light swat across his upturned ass.

"Ah!" Shock stalls any other verbal response. The impact ricochets along the length of both the plug and Blaine's cock.

Then Kurt stands, looks down at Blaine with warmth in his eyes, and collects the two unused plugs from Blaine's nightstand. "I'm going to shower and then I'll make dinner," Kurt says. "Would you get dressed and set the table for us, please, Blaine?"

##

It's close to nine by the time they're sitting down across the corner of the dining table to the lentil salad, accompanied by a plate of bruschetta and a bottle of a dry Pinot Grigio.

"This is nice," Blaine says. Outside the lights of the city street replace the sun. The flare of headlights waxes and wanes in the steady pulse of evening traffic. Kurt's put some music on low volume, a shuffled playlist of Broadway diva standards. Blaine takes a forkful of the salad and shifts on his chair as he chews, putting his weight more directly on the base of the plug and feeling it shift inside. It's been in for about an hour now, and while it's not been overly intrusive while he was helping Kurt with dinner, sitting makes him feel it much more vividly. Not so much in terms of overt and physical stimulation (though he could enhance that simply by grinding against the seat of his chair) as it is an increased awareness of his own body as a sexual vessel, kept now, ready for Kurt's next use. It's hard to think about much else.

"How is it?" Kurt asks.

Blaine blinks back to refocus on Kurt, who's looking at him intently. "It's good," Blaine says. "I'm getting used to it."

"Has it got too much lemon? I just eyeballed it."

"Oh—no. I mean, the food is good too. I thought you meant the, uh, the plug."

"That was going to be my next question," Kurt says. "You like it?"

"I think so," Blaine says. He swivels his hips to verify. "Yes, I do."

"Good," Kurt says.

##

One and a half glasses of wine later and a second helping of salad, Kurt's leaning his cheek into his palm, blinking slowly, and asking him, "So did you want to tell me about your old midnight sex fantasy."

The mild buzz of the alcohol, good food in his belly, and the irrefutable presence of the plug holding him in a persistent half-aroused state that has his body humming with a deep and patient kind of desire—it makes it easier to answer. "It was when I was young and lonely—virginal and hormonal with no real prospects back in Cowtown, Ohio."

"Right," Kurt says. "High school."

"I made up this man—this character, I guess, to fantasize about? He would come into my room at night and... seduce me while I slept."

One of Kurt's eyebrows rises. "Is that a politic way of saying he'd sneak in and have his wicked way with you?"

"I..." Blaine smiles through his blush and looks down. "Yes, I suppose it is."

"Were you scared of him?"

"No, never. That wasn't part of it. He made me feel safe and... desirable."

"Hmm. That sounds nice. What did he look like?" Kurt asks, tipping his glass this way and that, circling the wine in the bowl of his glass. It's smudged with fingerprints.

Blaine shrugs. "I, um, I don't know? I never saw his face and he rarely spoke except to tell me what to do. But, somehow, he always knew what I wanted, and I imagined that he kind of... fed off my pleasure? Like an incubus, I guess, but he wasn't harming me." Blaine laughs self-consciously. "And of course, I was special—no matter how much pleasure he took from me, I always had more to give him, and the more he got from me... the more satisfied he was. So he kept coming back, night after night."

Kurt gaze is dark and steady. "What sort of things did he do to you?"

"Sometimes he'd blindfold me—like when the moon was full, so I wouldn't see his face. Or he'd tie my hands or legs. Sometimes he'd paralyze me with a word and the only way I could move was if he moved me. He'd get me close to coming in different ways—to build up my arousal, so he'd have more of my pleasure to consume. He'd get me so desperate for it I'd..." Blaine trails off, heat rising under his skin at the memories, of lying in the dark at fifteen, getting himself worked up in his own mind before he'd let himself touch himself. In his ass, the plug seems bigger than ever, and his cock is uncomfortably stiff within the strict confines of his jeans.

"Would you beg for him to let you come?" Kurt asks softly.

A flush warms Blaine's cheeks. "Yes." He'd beg the darkness in fervent whispers and have his hands clenched tight into the sheets, begging himself, really—and only then would he give in.

"Mmm," Kurt says. "That's hot."

"Is it?" Blaine asks. "It's so fantastical."

"Imagining you like that? Oh, yes," Kurt says. "And aren't our fantasies where we're allowed to be fantastical? I mean, isn't that kind of the definition?" Smiling, he reaches for the wine bottle, offers Blaine more, which Blaine accepts. Then he tops his own glass up, sets the wine bottle down and sucks a dribble of wine from his forefinger. "So that was you at... sixteen or so, huh? Fantastical and inspired," he says, and then he cocks his head, a little shy, and his voice changes to something more tentative. "Did you mean what you said earlier, in that text? About how if we'd been in high school together, how you would've asked me out?"

"Oh," Blaine rubs his lips together as he nods, shy himself now, of meeting Kurt's eyes. "I probably shouldn't have said that?"

"No," Kurt says, "I mean, it's okay, I wasn't offended. And honestly, even sixteen year old me would have been happy to have known twenty-one year old you found him sexy."

"Right," Blaine says. "Because you were already..."

"Having a surplus of sexual need? Yes." Kurt shakes his head, wry. "It was a nightmare. I got my first handjob from a girl who was very kind and very generous about offering such things. It was before I was really out, and I..." Kurt blows a stream of air through pursed lips. "Yeah. That was a super fun time."

"I'm sorry," Blaine says.

Kurt snorts and rolls his eyes, "God, don't be. It's not like you had anything to do with it."

"No, but... it kind of makes me wish that I had been there? That I'd known you then, somehow."

Kurt looks at him flatly. "You would've been twelve, Blaine."

"No," Blaine says, laughs. "I mean, if we'd been the same age at the same time, you know, and I'd've asked you out."

Again, Kurt shakes his head, this time firmly. "It's a nice thought, but please don't actually wish for that," Kurt says, his amusement fades, and his eyes shimmer too bright.

"Why not?" Blaine asks softly.

"Because." Kurt swallows hard. "I was so desperate then, you have no idea. I would have fallen in love with you and clung to you so hard you would've suffocated. I would have broken your heart and mine. We'd have ruined each other—broken up and never seen or spoken to one another again," he says, and pauses for breath, staring down into his glass.

"Kurt," Blaine says, and he reaches a hand halfway across to Kurt's space and leaves it there, feeling useless and clueless. He's got the urge--the completely wrongheaded urge--to tell Kurt that, no, it wouldn't have been like that between them. It would have been good and fun. But there's no way to know, no real point to be argued. At sixteen he probably wouldn't have been brave enough to ask Kurt out anyway. He exhales heavily through his nose and reaches for his glass instead of Kurt's hand.

But then a weak smile flickers across Kurt's lips, and he looks up at Blaine, still a little sad, but sweetly sincere, "So far, I like this version a lot better."

Chapter Text

"Yeah." Blaine smiles back reflexively, but he doesn't fully feel the emotion to go with it. Instead, he feels some tissue thin boundary within himself--or between him and Kurt--that threatens to tear, and he'd be wise to leave it undisturbed for now. Tina's concern for him yesterday wasn't misplaced: too easily, he could let himself slip, fall into believing he has the ability not only to help Kurt but also to fix him. "This version is good for me too," Blaine says, but that's not quite enough either. There's still a greater truth to tell, even if he may not quite trust himself with all of it. "But growing up? It would've been nice to have had a friend like you."

Kurt's eyes widen and he opens his mouth to respond, but a frown soon mars his features and he presses his lips in a flat line. His eyes lose their focus and their warmth clouds. His gaze strays to the window and fixes there, staring at it more than out of it. With a new breath, he blinks, sets his jaw, and says, "Anyway." With his shoulders squared, he lays his hands flat on the table and surveys the dishes. "I should put the food away and clean up." He picks up Blaine's empty plate to stack with his.

"Let me help?" Blaine says. He hurries to stand, snags both wine goblets between the fingers of a hand, grabs the bottle, tucks it under his arm, and picks up the oval platter that had held the bruschetta. Follows Kurt to the kitchen, where Kurt bends to put the plates in the dishwasher. Each plate, he slots with a sharp rattle.

Gently--and slowly--Blaine sets down the platter and bottle and puts the glasses by the sink.

"Wine pump's in the second one down," Kurt says, gesturing toward a bank of drawers. He straightens, and his lips twist unhappily. He plants his hands on his hips and looks at the counter. "I'm sorry. I'm sure I've spoiled the mood for the night," Kurt says. "You can go take that plug out, if you want."

"Nothing's spoiled," Blaine says, and softly he closes the drawer. "I was looking forward to your proposed later."

With a cock of an eyebrow, Kurt's attention flicks to Blaine. "Still?" he asks, and there's more bitterness there than seems warranted. "Really, Blaine, you're off the hook. I can get by without you tonight."

"You don't have to though."

Kurt pulls his purple gloves out from under the sink along with the bottle of pink dish liquid. "I'm not unfamiliar with taking care of myself when I need to," he says crisply, "you're not my sex slave."

"I know that," Blaine says. He slips the dishtowel from its rail for lack of any better more obvious option. He's not sure what line he's crossed exactly--Kurt's the one who asked him the question.

But Kurt's frown only deepens, and his hands tremble when he picks up the dishcloth. He swallows hard and starts washing a glass. His movements are quick and jerky. Studiously, he doesn't look at Blaine. "If you have other things you'd rather be doing. Please, go do them. I'm all right." He sounds defeated.

"Have I said something to offend you?"

Emphatically, Kurt shakes his head. "No," he says. "You haven't done anything wrong."

"Then," Blaine says slowly, "I don't understand why--it seems like you're pushing me away right now? Unless you don't want my help?"

Kurt tips his head back and blinks at the ceiling. "It's not that," he says. "I just..." His breath shudders out and he glances sidelong at Blaine.

"You just what?" Blaine drops the towel to the counter. "Kurt, I'm having a really hard time figuring out what you need from me right now."

"You're so kind, Blaine. Thinking about--" He breaks off and starts over again. "It's too easy for me to look at you and... and regret. Things."

"Regret?"

"Hurting you."

"But you haven't," Blaine says.

"Not yet," Kurt says, and there's that sad trembling smile again.

So Blaine's not the only one who's been time traveling in his head. "Look, I get that other people have walked away from you, and I can't begin to imagine how that hurt you, or how frustrating this is for you now, but I'm here for you, Kurt. I agreed to this and I made you a promise."

"People break their promises to me, Blaine. I don't expect you to be different. I'm certainly not going to hold you to any promise you make me in the heat of trying to be a good person."

"That's not very fair," Blaine says carefully. "To assume I'm going to be the same as people who've left you? This is only my third day here with you."

Kurt braces his hands on the edge of the sink and bows his head. His shoulders hunch. "You're right, I'm sorry. That was unkind of me."

"You told me you wanted someone you could rely on. Give me a chance to show you that you can, please?"

Kurt shuts his eyes and nods.

"So, um, the dishes can wait," Blaine says softly, "If you need me now." Even more gently, he asks, "Do you need to come, Kurt?"

With a grimace, Kurt nods again. When he opens his eyes they're glazed bright. He turns toward Blaine and hugs himself, looks utterly miserable when he says, "I'm sorry."

"Oh, hey, no, don't apologize for that," Blaine says, and he dares to reach for Kurt, pulls him into his arms. "It's okay. Please, will you believe me?"

Kurt's arms unfold jerkily between them, and tentatively they come around Blaine and tentatively his fingers press into Blaine's back. Slowly the rigidity of his muscles eases and he tucks his face against Blaine's shoulder. He sniffs. "The problem is I do believe you, and it's so hard for me to trust that feeling."

"Yeah, okay," Blaine says, and his heart aches for Kurt. "Can you at least maybe trust me to tell you if I'm not up for it?"

"I'll try, but when I'm being such a asshole, how can you still want to?"

Blaine tips his head sideways against Kurt's. "Easy," Blaine says. "I like you."

Kurt chuckles weakly. "Are you telling me you like assholes?"

Blaine laughs and pulls back. "Seriously?"

"Fine, yeah, okay," Kurt says, hiccuping through his own laughter and rubbing over his face with his hands. "God. You don't need to answer that."

"Come on," Blaine says, stepping away and tugging Kurt's elbow. "Let's go to your bedroom and I'll take care of you?"

Kurt lets Blaine lead him from the kitchen and down the hall.

##

In Kurt's room, Kurt's trails behind Blaine and still moves stiffly. Blaine's not seen him this passive before, so instead of asking him what he wants, Blaine asks, "Would you like to lie down, and I'll undress you?"

"Okay," Kurt says placidly, and he gets on his bed, lowering himself to his back slowly, his gaze fixed at Blaine's shirt collar.

It makes Blaine wonder about times when Kurt had a boyfriend. On nights when, maybe, the mood was spoiled for the boyfriend and Kurt still needed this intimate attention. Did past boyfriends refuse him or make him feel guilty for needing them? Blaine unbuttons Kurt's shirt, smiles at him as he does. Kurt looks up at him with wide unblinking eyes. He doesn't smile back, just stares at Blaine like he's trying to memorize him.

And Blaine aims to keep his focus on Kurt. He shouldn't try to guess at the vices or failures of Kurt's previous lovers or the nature of Kurt's past relationships. Kurt's told him enough for Blaine to understand that he, in this non-boyfriend role with Kurt, needs to be consistent in his care for Kurt, so Kurt can feel safe. Blaine keeps quiet and undoes Kurt's pants, drags them and his underwear down his legs and off. Rolls Kurt's socks off his feet, and then gets to work on his own clothes.

From the living room, music still plays faintly, filtering into the space between them, alleviating what might otherwise be an uncomfortable silence. Blaine gets off the bed to remove his trousers and Kurt lifts up to reach to the nightstand, gets a condom out, lube. Blaine comes back and straddles him; the plug pulls weirdly in his ass, reminding him it's still there. "Shall I ride you?" he asks. "Would you enjoy that?" He reaches for Kurt's erection, gives it a firm stroke and circles the pad of his thumb over the shining head. "Or I can use my hand?"

"Up to you," Kurt says, shivering, but he reaches for Blaine's thigh, hesitates to touch his only half-hard cock. "But you're not... anymore."

"I'll get back there soon enough." Blaine says, and he reaches back to the base of the plug, to pull it free.

"No, wait," Kurt says. He catches hold of Blaine's arm, takes a deep breath, and his gaze turns clear and determined. "I said I was going to-- I wanted to do this for you. Would you turn around? Please, Blaine?"

"Sure," Blaine says easily, though his skin prickles with some apprehension. It's not that he doubts Kurt's intentions, only that with Kurt's mood vacillating as it is, it'd be helpful to see Kurt's face while they do this. But maybe Kurt doesn't want to be looked at.

And then Kurt's hands are on him, on his ass, and Kurt's gently tugging at the base of the plug, and Blaine forgets his concerns. The widest bead feels far too large to come back out easily, and reflexively Blaine flinches at the way his body resists the pull. Kurt rubs his skin soothingly. "We just need more lube," he says. "It'll be fine."

He rubs more slick around Blaine's hole, pushes some in alongside the neck of the plug, twists and jiggles the toy a little--which is, yes, very nice. It sends a flicker of interest up Blaine's spine and his cock pulses harder.

And then slowly Kurt starts tugging it again. "Push out a little for me, honey?" he asks, so softly, with such concentration in his voice. His fingers are right there, at Blaine's rim, spreading him a little and freshly lubricating the plug as the fattest part stretches Blaine wide. Kurt stops there and pauses with the plug's thickest part held immobile.

All Blaine can feel is that stillness and the stretch of his body around it. Blaine bows his head, breathing deeply and aching pleasantly with the unyielding width of it.

"Now relax," Kurt says, and he eases the base back in, just a nudge really. Blaine's body swallows the plug back up again. Strange relief and a frisson of heat along with it. Blaine shudders and shifts back against Kurt's hold on the plug, then rocks his hips forward, feeling the pressure change in his gut, the tempting tug against his rim.

"Feels good? You want more of that?" Kurt asks.

Blaine hums his assent--and has the wherewithal to reach down between his legs to find Kurt's cock.

"Scoot back a little for me," Kurt says, and the confidence is returning to his voice.

Blaine does.

"And don't touch your own cock--just mine?"

"Okay."

"Okay," Kurt confirms, and then he's pulling again, pulling the plug's thickest bead out and then pushing it back in. He starts slow, content to pop just the last bead in and out, and Blaine shivers at how each time, the sensation scatters fresh little sparks all through his body. He tightens his hand on Kurt's cock, strokes firmly, as evenly as he can--which is not very--and he has to use his free hand to support his own weight as he tips forward.

Kurt gradually increases the length of the pulls, dragging out each bead, one at a time. He works them deliberately, until just the smallest bead is still nestled inside. The he drives them all back in, one smooth jostling push. The friction of the plug, even generously lubricated, feels hotter than body heat, rumbling and rippling deep inside, and Blaine feels so greedy around it. Kurt's still not moving it fast; he's letting Blaine feel everything, which is both too much and not enough.

Between his legs his cock hangs heavy; and his balls, drum-head tight. Kurt rubs a slick thumb down his perineum and over his balls, his fingertips dance over the taut skin, but nothing about it soothes or distracts from the sensation gathering around the movement of the plug. Intense as it is, Kurt's giving him nothing to satisfy, just a sustained erotic torment to rouse his appetite for more and more--for something more stable, sustained, and solid.

"Pass me a condom?" Blaine says, letting go of Kurt's cock and reaching back. "Please?"

Kurt presses the flat foil square into Blaine's open palm.

Blaine's hands are steady as he gets the condom on Kurt, and Kurt pulls the plug out all the way, one marvelous judder of retreat, leaving Blaine empty and needful. He still feels wet enough that the lube on the condom should be enough. Blaine lifts up and guides Kurt's cock to his opening, sinks down fast, with a groan of relief.

Kurt's hands are on his lower back and buttocks, petting and squeezing. Blaine pulls forward and pushes back, not a long movement, but a decisive one.

"That's it," Kurt says. More of a sigh really. Grateful, pleasured. Encouraging.

Blaine braces his hands on Kurt's thighs, just above his knees and works for it, sweating and struggling to keep it even. The plug's left him aching so much, eager for more, but the angle isn't quite what he needs, nor the friction. He moves faster and only succeeds in pulling all the way off Kurt's dick. Kurt cries out--surprised and dismayed.

"S-sorry," Blaine grits out, reaching back, bringing Kurt back where he wants him, and Kurt's hands are on his waist, pulling him back and urging him to straighten as he sinks back down.

"No... oh, shh," Kurt says. "This is... great. Your ass is fantastic. You should see the view I've got, best seat in the house."

Blaine laughs, sharp and sudden. "I don't know," he says as he regains his balance, hands free, on his knees. He lifts up, and drops down. "Mine's pretty good too," he says, but it's still too slow, he can't quite catch the sensations his body craves. "I just need to..." He pulls a knee forward, determined to get one foot under himself, but Kurt's hands tighten on him.

"Come on and lean back," Kurt says, tugging at his ribs.

Blaine tips his weight back, but even with the support of Kurt's hands, he feels at risk of falling. Blindly he reaches behind himself, gets a hold on Kurt's arm, turns his head to try to see. Hesitates.

"It's okay," Kurt says, "Come all the way back and lie down against me. I won't let you fall."

Blaine catches Kurt's face in his peripheral vision. "Won't I crush you?"

"No," Kurt says. "Trust me, you'll like it."

Blaine leans back, slowly, and Kurt supports him as he goes, half-blind and trusting, until his quads are pulled tight, his upper back is against Kurt's chest, and Kurt's breath tickles the side of his neck and his nose brushes Blaine's earlobe.

"I can't move," Blaine says with a gust of laughter and a shallow, useless grind of his hips. "Not much anyway."

"Unfold your legs and brace yourself. Let me worry about the moving."

Gingerly, Blaine shifts to unbend one leg at a time, and Kurt's hands roam over his torso and chest, stroking from his solar plexus to his groin, and then skipping up over his ribs to pinch at his nipples and caress his collarbones. Blaine plants his feet on the mattress and Kurt slides his hands down, one to steady Blaine's pelvis, the other to fold around his cock.

"Are you good?" Kurt asks, and he rocks his hips a few times as if to query Blaine's approval, squeezes a slow pull up Blaine's dick. The deep slide of Kurt's cock is magnificent, an undulating pressure right where Blaine needs it, thick and full and certain.

Blaine nods and grits out, "Yes, but can you... uh, hmm... faster, please?"

"Uh huh," Kurt says, and he doesn't tease or play--he just moves smoothly into fucking Blaine with even slapping strokes of his cock, quicker than Blaine would have thought possible for their position. Blaine's laid open, spread and taken. Draped, arched and splayed across Kurt's body, like Kurt's an altar and Blaine's the sacrifice.

Kurt works over his cock and balls with his hands and relentlessly plies Blaine's ass with his dick. Blaine braces his feet against the bed, rolls his head against Kurt's shoulder, and closes his eyes. Kurt's moans buzz against Blaine's skin where his lips are mashed, open and breathless, against Blaine's shoulder--and also deeper, resonating in the hollow spaces of Blaine's ribcage. Blaine hangs on, fingers twisted up tight in the bedspread.

Beneath him, Kurt comes with a shudder and a strong heartbeat pulse in Blaine's ass. But he keeps fucking Blaine and jerking Blaine's cock into a quick driving blur. He shudders again, sucking hard at the dip of Blaine's neck. "Come on," he rasps. "Come for me, Blaine. Let me feel it."

The orgasm wadding up in Blaine's belly finally gives, blooming into the sweet crushing bliss of release. It ripples up his spine and leaves him disoriented and breathless. Wrung out and--as he comes back into himself--feeling as if he has far too much body now--too many legs and arms and weight and cumbersome joints and muscles to coordinate. Clumsily he pulls off Kurt and tips over to drop himself face down against Kurt's bedspread.

"Oh, holy hell," he whisper-groans.

Kurt shifts beside him, his warmth draws near, his skin hot against Blaine's side, and his palm heavy upon Blaine's back. "Me too," he says, and his lips bend against Blaine's shoulder. "Thank you so much." Then Kurt's warmth retreats and the mattress bounces as Kurt flops back, away from Blaine, and sighs deeply.

It soon becomes clear to Blaine that he'll not be moving any time soon. With effort, Blaine turns his head to face Kurt. Finds him stretched out on his back with his head turned, watching Blaine with a sleepy gaze. He smothers a yawn with the back of his hand and smiles.

"See?" Blaine says.

"Hmm?"

"Nothing was spoiled."

Though Kurt laughs, something serious flickers in his gaze. He glances down, strokes over his bedding, and says, "Except maybe my bedspread."

"Oh," Blaine pushes himself up on unsteady arms to survey the damage beneath him. "Geez, I'm sorry..."

"Occupational hazard," Kurt says.

Blaine flumps back down. "Are you implying I fuck like it's my job?" he asks, grinning. "I can't tell if that's a compliment or not."

Kurt's laughter sparkles. "Not you, dummy, the bedspread."

"Dummy?"

Kurt twitches a shoulder. "Well? You're nice to suck on?"

Blaine winces as he laughs, and Kurt bites into his smile.

"At any rate, it's machine washable, and I have a spare, so don't worry. Pass me the tissues?"

Blaine grabs the edge of the box and drags it over to the bed. Kurt plucks a few out and gets the condom off himself and wrapped neatly. He sets it aside, and catches Blaine watching him. "What?"

"Maybe I have found my true vocation," Blaine says, warm and teasing.

"How's that?"

"Fucking you could be it."

Kurt tries--and fails--not to smile more widely. "I bet pick up lines are not your forté."

"Not so much. I've usually been the pickee more than the picker."

"That makes you sound like some kind of nose picking fetishist."

"Is that even a thing?"

"I have no idea. Probably, for someone?"

"Takes all sorts," Blaine says.

"Fortunately for you, I've always had a soft spot for the cheesy one liners."

"What about the boys who deliver them?" The words leave his mouth so easily, and Blaine hopes it's not too brazen a flirtation given Kurt's earlier reservations.

"Depends," Kurt says.

"On what?"

"Whether I believe them." It's a kind of confession--and perhaps an affirmation too.

Emboldened, Blaine offers his own: "I like how... free you are with sex."

But at that Kurt frowns. "Free?" There's a note of caution in his voice. "What do you mean?"

"Like--you're so open, as a lover," Blaine explains. "Honest. You're not... ashamed."

Kurt's eyebrows rise. "I can't afford to be, god knows enough people have tried to make me."

"That's sad," Blaine says. "You don't deserve that."

Kurt rolls to his side and bows his head. "I know, but people, in my experience, often suck. And not in the fun way."

Between them, rests Kurt's hand, Blaine drags his arms out from where it's trapped under his chest and strokes Kurt's knuckles lightly, lingering to fit his fingertips in the soft dips between the bones. "But you must have some good experiences," Blaine says. "To be so good yourself."

"Flattery, huh?" Then Kurt's smile turns wistful. "There've been good times."

"What's the best you've had? If you don't mind telling?"

"Oh god," Kurt says, and he tips his head back and stares at the ceiling as he thinks. "Probably... god, this is horribly cheesy, but probably my first time with my first boyfriend?"

"Yeah?"

"I felt so connected and safe with him. And hopeful. I was perfectly happy in the moment. It was the first time all this didn't seem so overwhelming and complicated and impossible."

"You were in love?"

"Completely," Kurt says, but the wistfulness in his smile fades. He turns back to Blaine. "What about you? What's the best sex you've had?"

"Honestly?"

Kurt rolls his eyes. "No, Blaine, lie to me."

Blaine laughs. "You should know, I'm not saying this to kiss your ass, but--"

"Hey, I don't mind if you want to kiss my ass. I'm all for a good ass kissing."

Blaine shakes his head and grins. "No points for the obvious," he says.

"Oh, what? Are we keeping score now?" Kurt turns his hand beneath Blaine's, offering his palm.

"No," Blaine says, and he softens his voice, threads his fingers with Kurt's, sobers. "It's just that so far," he says, "the best I've had has been with you."

"Really?" Kurt blinks and flushes.

"Really."

"Oh," Kurt says. "I don't know what to say to that."

"I told you. You're good at this. You make me feel safe too."

Kurt's gaze is soft when he looks up. "Actually, that's nice to hear," he says. "I hope you'll continue to feel that way."

"Well, you're keeping me occupied well enough, you won't have any competition."

"Occupied?" Kurt says. "Speaking of occupied..." Kurt reaches across and slips his fingers between Blaine's buttocks, lightly rubs over Blaine's hole but doesn't penetrate. "Not tonight," he says. "Your ass'll be needing a break, but do you think you might be able to sleep with a plug in sometimes? Maybe not that one--but something more discreet?"

"Yes," Blaine says. "I'd like to try anyway."

"That way, I can come in and--well, how much of your old fantasy would you enjoy having translated into real life?"

"Oh..." Blaine says, and shivers with a thrill. His body is well sated for now, but just the thought of it rouses his mind's interest. "As much as inspires you," he says.

##

After they clean up and dress, Kurt returns to the kitchen to finish doing the dishes, and when Blaine offers his help Kurt says, "Honestly, Blaine, as much as I do like spending time with you, I'm accustomed to living alone, and I could use a little time to myself tonight just cleaning up and restoring order. I'll take some laundry down and tidy up here and--that helps me reset."

"All right," Blaine says. "I'll make myself scarce then?"

"Feel free to--I don't know, take a long shower or something? Or, watch something in the living room. That won't bother me."

"It's been a while since I've had access to a decent tub," Blaine says. "Do you mind if l have a bath?"

"There's bubble bath and bath oils under the sink," Kurt says, "help yourself."

"Cool," Blaine says. "Thank you."

So he draws a hot bath and lies in Kurt's generous curvy tub surrounded by rose and sandalwood scented bubbles. He's got his earbuds in and his iPod resting on a reclaimed teak stool next to the bath. Blaine listens to his relaxation playlist--currently a meditative track of Buddhist temple bells and running water courtesy of Cooper. It's his own way of resetting--or it used to be, when he was at home in Ohio and he needed the space and quiet, to withdraw himself back into his own emotional limits.

He takes his time, drifting along with the music, clearing his mind, and letting go of each tension he catalogs in his muscles. When the water's cooled from hot to warm, he drains some and turns on the hot tap to refresh it. An hour and change later, he's toweling off and slipping into a fresh set of light cotton pajamas. After the sex and more sex and the bath, he's wonderfully loose and easy and clean. His bed tempts, but he wants to say good night to Kurt first--check in with him.

He finds Kurt at the kitchen island folding dishtowels.

"Hey," Blaine says.

"Good bath?" Kurt asks, tucking the neat stack of linen towels away under the sink. The kitchen is back to sparkling and precise order.

"Yeah," Blaine says. "A perfect cap to the day," he says. "I was about to head to bed."

"Mmm," Kurt says, "Not yet."

"No?" Blaine queries. "Do you need--?"

"Cake," Kurt says quickly. "We'll have some cake, ice cream, and chamomile tea, and then we'll be done with today."

"That sounds great."

Kurt turns off the music and they watch Jimmy Fallon while they nibble their cake and ice cream and sip their tea. Kurt's curled up, content in his armchair while Blaine's on the sofa. They don't talk much, not even when Kurt fast forwards through the ads, but it's comfortable.

They say good night in the hall, and Blaine picks up his tablet, intending to read for a while, but he falls asleep before he gets through a whole page.

He wakes again around two AM thirsty and needing to relieve his bladder--the perils of tea before bed. He makes his way quietly to the bathroom and then out to the kitchen. The moon drapes a pale light upon the room. Blaine fills a glass from the tap and hears Kurt's door open.

Kurt shuffles out to the kitchen, adorably sleep rumpled and loosely tugging the sash of his robe. "There you are," he says, luminous in the silver light.

Blaine finishes his glass of water and goes to Kurt. "Here I am."

##

They lie down together on Blaine's bed and Kurt pushes his hand into Blaine's pajama pants, palms his soft cock, while he noses into the open collar of Blaine's top. "Would you fuck me, please?"

"You're not sore?"

"No," Kurt says, "I want you." And Blaine swiftly thickens in his hand. Kurt scoots down and pulls the waistband of Blaine's pants down and sucks him fully erect while Blaine unbuttons his top and reaches down to stroke through Kurt's messy hair. Kurt's mouth is good, hot and mobile, and Blaine would be content to come like this--until Kurt lifts his head, shrugs off his robe and lies down, on his side, the curve of his spine a fine dipping arc of shadow to draw Blaine's hand. "Come spoon up behind me," Kurt says over his shoulder.

Blaine moves closer behind Kurt, kisses his shoulder softly and can't resist saying, "I thought you wanted me to fork you?"

"Oh dear." Kurt snorts indelicately into the pillow.

"You were asking for that one," Blaine says, grinning as he skims his hand down Kurt's back to his sacrum and lower until he finds Kurt, open, slippery, and warm--ready for him. "Wide open for it."

Kurt's laughter turns to giggles. "God, stop. I can't breathe."

"Nope," Blaine says cheerfully. "I'm not stopping until you're satisfied." He slips a finger in to feel Kurt clench hot and tight around him.

"Oh," Kurt's giggles break into a soft, needful moan. "Please, Blaine," Kurt says and hitches a leg up to chest.

Blaine nuzzles behind Kurt's ear, exhaling softly to rouse a shiver. He kisses his neck, where Kurt's seemed most sensitive, and he's rewarded with a lovely long pleasured sigh. Blaine eases another finger into the grip of Kurt's ass, fucks in and out, feeling the glossy heat inside, anticipates burying himself in it. "You feel so good," Blaine tells him.

"Don't forget the condom," Kurt whispers. "Unless you're only going to use your hand."

"No," Blaine says. "I'm going to fuck you with my cock, I just--I wanted to feel you like this first."

"Oh," Kurt says, unreadable tone. He stiffens.

"Is it.... too much?" Blaine asks, drawing his fingers out and pushing back in.

A nod and a pause, and then Kurt says, "I don't like being teased, can you just do it?"

Get it over with, Blaine hears, unspoken in Kurt's voice, but he swallows down that disappointment and reorients himself on his proper goal of simply making Kurt come. "Yes," he says, and reaches back for the condom.

He fucks Kurt neat and even, and not, Blaine hopes, too roughly. Kurt pants and whines and praises him--and he comes twice before Blaine does. Blaine withdraws and Kurt grabs his hand, brings it to his cock, and rolls to his back. "More, please?"

"Okay," Blaine says, "yes." He strokes Kurt through a third, weaker orgasm, and Kurt's hand tightens on his wrist.

"Another?" Blaine asks.

"Sorry," Kurt says as he winces and nods.

"It's fine," Blaine says. He scoots down and sucks Kurt as he jerks him. It takes a while for Kurt to come one last time, dry and heaving.

"Finally," Kurt mutters into the darkness. It's not directed at Blaine.

Blaine rests his head on Kurt's thigh and cups his hand over Kurt's slowly softening cock. Kurt's fingers lightly rake the back of his neck. "Sorry," Kurt says again. "I don't know why I needed so much. I was feeling okay, and then--"

"You need to stop apologizing to me," Blaine says, and he nuzzles at the smooth skin of Kurt's groin, kisses lingeringly up to the jut of Kurt's hipbone before he lifts his head. "And for what it's worth. Before? I didn't mean to tease you, Kurt. I just..." He lets out a shaky gust of air and skims his fingertips over the fine hair of Kurt's upper thigh. "I wanted to make you feel really good."

Kurt's fingers twitch against the back of Blaine's neck, and then his hand is gone. He pushes himself to sit up, gently shifts his lap from under Blaine's head. "Thank you, Blaine, that's sweet. But I need to get back to bed."

"Yeah, okay, of course," Blaine says, and he sits up too, to watch Kurt leave. A cold weight settles in the pit of his stomach. "Sleep well."

##

In the morning over a modest weekday breakfast of cereal, toast, fruit, and yogurt, Blaine is quiet. Not conspicuously so, he hopes--no more quiet than first thing in the morning adequately accounts for, and certainly not quiet in a manner that may be mistaken for passive aggression. He's not in that sort of mood. And anyway, he knows to check those impulses and how to recalibrate. It's simply that he needs to fall back and regroup. Though the military metaphor isn't one he prefers, after last night, increasingly, stepping back and listening and observing--reconnaissance of a sort, but nothing covert--may be to both his and Kurt's benefit.

Perhaps the immediate, adventurous, and surprisingly validating physical intimacy has lent their interpersonal intimacy a momentum of both ease and inevitability, even within the clearly established Not Boyfriends rule. It's important to remember this isn't a romance, and Kurt isn't his best friend. Blaine's here to provide a companionable and reliable service.

More than that? He cannot, out of fairness, pursue or expect. It's been too easy--for both of them, Blaine suspects--to tumble toward a level of emotional engagement that their nascent relationship cannot bear well. Time to slow down. Kurt's fears are plain: he likes Blaine and he wants their arrangement to work, but experience has left him bruised, skittish, and doubtful. The closer they are, the more that fear manifests. So Blaine will be safe and uncomplicated. While this may not be his job in any strict sense, he can still conduct himself professionally. He won't get too comfortable or familiar. Won't push. He'll be kind, pay attention, and be available.

So, beyond the functional and friendly chitchat of the morning's necessities, he waits for Kurt to make any overtures of deeper conversation. Kurt asks him his plans for the day and gives him both Artie's cell number and the address of Artie's studio in the Navy Yard. They discuss the theme for Friday's dinner--Italian or Greek? Maybe Turkish--or Egyptian?

"A Mediterranean Medley?" Blaine suggests.

Which makes Kurt laugh and reply, "I like the sound of that!"

Then Kurt talks about finding the right fabric for the dress he's designing for his step-mother. "About all I've decided on is it should be a nice raisin purple," he says. "And nothing too heavy or unbreathably synthetic. The humidity in D.C. is vile, but a cocktail dress of linen or cotton--I don't know if I could make that work. Maybe raw silk?" he asks Blaine as if Blaine's opinion is an expert one.

"That sounds like an elegant option to me," Blaine says, and Kurt smiles, apparently satisfied.

It's both that easy and not. Regardless, it's a relief when Kurt sets the dishes in the sink and turns to Blaine to ask, "Come shower with me?"

Chapter Text

Later that morning, Blaine's sprawled face down in his bed. Kurt's left for work, and the bang of the door still hangs in Blaine's ears.

Kurt was flushed and frazzled, adjusting his scarf as he skittered out Blaine's bedroom door and pelted down the hall—all the while grousing about being in imminent danger of missing the train. The last thing Blaine heard from him was one last apology to Blaine for having to run out on him so utterly appallingly rudely.

"It's fine, I'm good, I promise!" Blaine called back, but the door had already slammed shut, and Kurt was gone.

And now Blaine is alone. His lungs release a long sigh of their own volition, and Blaine stretches tentatively. He aches this morning: not much and it's the good kind for the most part, but he notes a handful of less friendly twinges. Still, he's got no cause for complaint. The tension he'd sensed at breakfast evaporated as the morning passed. How much of it was within him and how much in Kurt, Blaine's less sure, but it's been easier since he established his intentions for himself more explicitly: clear, uncomplicated, safe.

Through his high window, the sun shines a steep beam across his bed and his body. It heats the backs of his thighs. Under his arms his t-shirt makes an uncomfortable wadded band, and in the dip of his lower back Kurt's semen pools. Blaine's buttocks hum with the memory of recent friction and grow tacky as his lube-mingled sweat dries.

Overall, it's a lovely sensual squalor in which to dwell. Blaine relishes the unsatisfied throb of his cock beneath his belly. Since Kurt hasn't asked him to save his orgasm for later, Blaine tucks a hand under his hips and cups himself with his open palm. Lazily he swivels his hips and lets his eyes close. That's good.

He replays the confidence of Kurt's hands on his body, settling him into place just how Kurt wanted him; the pressure of Kurt's fingertips boring into the flesh of his ass cheeks, spreading him before settling his cock between them. And then holding him snug around his shaft and sliding, sliding, sliding. Blaine shuddered in sympathetic satisfaction when Kurt came, long and hot and wet upon his skin. He shudders again now at the memory.

But then Kurt caught sight of the time and scrambled off the bed. "Shit. I needed to go, like five minutes ago. " He yanked his underwear and trousers on together and shrugged on his shirt. "I'm sorry, I can't—"

Blaine pushed himself up to his elbows and handed Kurt his phone. "It's all right," he said. It was.

"I'm not that guy," Kurt insisted while tottering on one leg as he yanked and wiggled a gray canvas derby over his heel. "Rutrunner? Rub-n-run?" He flashed a self-deprecating grin. "Frottage-and-flee? I don't want to be that guy."

"I know. I know, Kurt. You're not."

Kurt's smile morphed into his familiar one: relieved and grateful. And that was all Blaine required. Simple.

Thus it's Kurt's smile that fills Blaine's mind when he comes, grinding into his open hand and releasing all his pent up want into the slow shivering strain of completion.

Again, Blaine sighs all the air from his lungs and sinks into his mattress, spent and content. Nothing urgent compels him to get up. He could let himself drift off—deal with the mess later. But the fatigue in his muscles tells him he should summon the energy to stretch while he's still warm, lest he grow too stiff. His body's overtaxed, unused to this kind and frequency of use.

And really, the rational part of his mind knows he'll also regret falling asleep without cleaning up. With a sigh of less contentment, Blaine reaches for the wipes with his clean hand.

His phone vibrates, abrupt and muffled from the pocket of his jeans, which are crumpled on the floor just beyond easy reach. Kurt must've forgot something in his rush out the door. Blaine's phone buzzes an impatient two-step.

"Just a sec," Blaine mumbles as he rolls to get up. Wetness creeps down his back. He scrubs his palm and hooks a toe into a belt loop to drag his pants closer. Bends to fish out his phone. He answers warmly, "Forget something, Mr. Hump Hustler?"

"Excuse me?" says a voice that most definitely does not belong to Kurt. "Blaine? Is that you?"

Crap. "Hey... Mom. Hi! Sorry, I was expecting someone else." Blaine prays his mother didn't make out much of his greeting. Crap.

"How are you, dear?" she says. "I got your email."

"Oh, right, good! I'm fine, I just, uh..." Blaine reaches for his briefs and cranes his neck to trap the phone against his shoulder while he pulls them over his feet. He can't talk to his mom while he's naked. "I just got back from a... a run. I was about to hit the shower. Can I call you b—"

"I'll be quick," she says, though she rarely is. "I wanted to let you know our anniversary plans."

"Okay," Blaine says. He winces as he stands and pulls his underpants over his ass. Today is destined to be a laundry day.

"We're coming to spend the weekend in New York!" she says.

"Oh, that's..." Blaine's stomach knots. "...great."

"I got tickets for your father and I to see The King and I revival. The Hendersons saw it last month and can't stop raving about it. I thought we'd make some reservations at Tavern on the Green for a romantic dinner in the park and—"

"Tavern on the Green closed in 2009. I think it's a visitors' center now?"

"Oh, really? That's too bad." She pauses and Blaine awkwardly tries to wipe up the mess at the small of his back. "Where would you recommend?"

"Uh," Blaine says. "I don't know. It's not like I'm spending a lot of my evenings at New York's four star restaurants. But there's a lot of pre-theater prix fixe options around Broadway."

"No, no. We'll be attending a matinee, and I want dinner to be spectacular and unhurried afterward. Something romantic. Memorable, you understand."

"Right, romance in New York. Of course."

"Well, hey, darling, you could scout something out for us. Take a friend and put it on the American Express."

That's his card for school related expenses and emergencies only. Of all the things for her to offer to pay for—it's rarely ever been something he actually needed or especially wanted. "Can't you just look up reviews on Yelp or Grub Street or something? I'll send you some links, okay?"

"Mmm, no, I don't think so," she says. "We'll only be celebrating this milestone once. I want the night to be absolutely perfect. I'd rather get a recommendation from you than from random strangers on the internet. And really, Blaine, when was the last time you treated yourself?"

"Okay, fine. Sure." Blaine relents, for she has that tone of voice against which he's learned not to push. "I can do it."

"Oh, good heavens, Blaine, don't make it sound like a chore. I need your help."

"No, I'm not, I just—I'm tired after my run and—"

"Right, well, let me go ahead and give you our itinerary anyway. Do you have paper and pen? We'll be staying at The Beekman and flying into JFK—"

"Mom, really, I need to hit the shower and get something to eat, okay? I don't have anything to write with, can you email it to me?"

"Hmm," she says. The click of her mouse and the tap of her keyboard is audible over the line. He hopes she's not planning on typing it while on the phone.

"Just find the email from your agent and forward it to me, all right? You don't have to type it out."

"Oh, right," she says. A few more clicks and she asks, "Do you have it?"

"Yes," he says without checking. "Thanks, Mom, but I need to go."

After he's hung up, Blaine tosses his phone to the bed and says, emphatically, "Well, fuck."

##

After a shower and two curried chicken salad sandwiches, Blaine strips his sheets and takes them down to the laundry in the building's basement. Kurt assured him that the laundry is secure; he's never lost anything, so Blaine sets a timer on his phone, leaves the sheets to wash and goes back up to the apartment.

He stands and stares at his keyboard and evaluates his present level of motivation and energy for sitting down and working. It's honestly not much. Outside it's sunny and breezy with low humidity. He'd maybe feel better working in the living room with more light and air. It's surely no accident Kurt works from the dining table.

So he lugs out his keyboard and its stand. Shifts a chair to make room to set himself up facing the window with the breeze from the river wafting in to gently sway and tap the blinds against the open windows.Today he doesn't want to work from a film clip. He's got a snarl of emotion to untangle, and that should be enough to fuel a day's work. But when he sits and lays his hands upon the keys, despite his best intentions, his mind resolves into nothing more useful than paralyzed psychic static. He doesn't hear the music to accompany the creep of dread.

It's not like his life is a horror movie anyway. He doesn't want his parents to come to New York. That's the largest portion of the mental noise. New York has become his personal haven. His life here is wholly his own, unencumbered by his past—or as close as it can be. Having his family come to the city? It's an intrusion. Especially now that he's living with Kurt. If he's still living with Kurt in three weeks' time.

Regardless, he doesn't want his parents visiting him here. He doesn't want to have to explain or hide or lie to their faces. He doesn't want them looking at Kurt and looking at him and speculating. As far as Blaine's been able to tell, his mother's lived for years with the belief that all he's ever done with a boy is hold hands and share chaste kisses. And his Dad? Who knows. He just doesn't want Kurt in the same place as his parents, or his parents in the place where he lives and relaxes and smiles and... happily fucks his roommate several times a day.

His parents have a way of causing him to doubt his choices even when Blaine knows better. It's exhausting and unsettling and not even something he can rail against or address with them, because it happens in the lacunae of their conversations: the things that go unspoken, unheard, or forgotten; a detail wrongly assumed or glibly elided; a too long pause or an averted gaze; a subject changed or retelling of the past in a different hue. Just a little skew of interpretation to erase some smidgen of conflict or tension or misalignment of expectations, so that everything can be—always—perfectly, tidily fine.

Blaine stands and walks around his keyboard to be closer to the window. From his back pocket his phone chirps, just once. A text.

It's from Kurt. "I forgot to say thank you this morning. So, thank you :)"

That's a nice salve, reading the words and understanding their gratitude is meant. One person he hasn't let down. "You're welcome," he types, and then—in a little burst of rebellion against his whole upset mood—adds, "Of course, you're welcome to me anytime." It is, despite his resolution this morning, flirtatious, but only as an anodyne reassurance: a simple statement of truth. In case Kurt needs to hear it again. Still, Blaine adds a more prosaic counterpoint, to keep it lightweight and simple: "Did you catch your train?"

"I did, barely." Kurt sends back.

"I'm glad. I'll set an alarm tomorrow."

"Good idea. See you tonight. I'll text again when I'm omw."

"OK. Enjoy your afternoon!"

Fortified by Kurt's appreciation, Blaine decides he doesn't want to channel frustration into his work today after all. A phone call from his mother shouldn't have that much power. But he stills feels blocked, so an afternoon of woolgathering may be more fruitful than plinking about uselessly. He charges his phone while he checks in on his laundry and washes up his lunch dishes. He searches for nearby spots of interest: a local gym that offers Hatha yoga classes, a comic book shop, and some options to scout as potential lunch spots with Sam tomorrow. He puts from his mind both his anxiety and what his mother's tasked him with, grabs a light jacket, and heads out into the gleaming summer day.

As Blaine walks, he watches people, and lets himself absorb the energy around him. He seeks and finds the beauty in the cityscape and her inhabitants. The sun on his face and the breeze on his skin are easy companions to the rugged music of the urban landscape itself: the heartbeat pulse of the traffic and the mass transit, inhaling and exhaling people at each bus and subway stop.

The gym offers free tours, so he does that. An intimidatingly buff and spray-tanned guy in red spandex shorts shows him around. Tries to sell Blaine a personal training session, and when Blaine declines then offers him a complimentary one with a membership sign up. Blaine smiles, shakes his head, and asks, "Do you have an up-to-date schedule for the yoga classes?" He leaves equipped with a yoga schedule and a lingering, too green taste of a freebie wheat grass shot in his mouth. Wonders if it's true that it makes semen taste better, but doesn't expect he'll ask for feedback. That would probably be weird.

On his way from the gym to the comic shop, Blaine checks out diner and cafe menus. He makes notes on his phone for the ones that would appeal most to Sam. He detours past the Navy Yard and considers going in to see if he can find Artie's studio space, but he doesn't want to turn up without asking Artie in advance. So he carries on.

Squeezed in between a pharmacy and a bike repair shop, the comic shop is narrow with hand painted signage. Its brick interior is whitewashed and the newest and hottest releases are in a glossy black display. Blaine smiles at the girl behind the register. She glances up at him with a nod. Her braided hair is aubergine purple and on the side of her neck is a tattoo of an origami unicorn. Under a fuzzy crocheted cardigan, she wears a Lego Batman t-shirt. Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" plays loudly enough Blaine doesn't attempt any conversation.

As he makes his way deeper into the store, it becomes more cluttered with precarious stacks of board games, a small section selling vintage vinyl LP's, a locked case of various collectible figurines, a rack of t-shirts, a Darth Maul cardboard standee, shelves of manga, and finally the wide tables of older comics. He browses idly, but nothing really catches his eye until he spots a 1988 Graphitti edition of Watchmen gathering dust on a narrow ledge. Blaine lifts it down to check its price: a steal for eighty-five bucks. Carefully he slides the book from its faux leather slipcase. It doesn't have a signed book plate, which may explain the relatively low price. He gently opens it to admire the panels in their original colors.

He doesn't need it; his paperback edition remains in perfectly good shape. This isn't the sort of book you necessarily buy for reading anyway. Furthermore, he's not got the cash on him and god knows he's got more important things to spend his money on, but...

He slips the American Express out of his wallet and takes the book to the counter.

With the new book tucked under his arm, Blaine heads toward Cadman Plaza Park, following the directions his phone gives him. On the way he buys a scoop of pistachio gelato, and finds a bench under the shade of the London planetrees on which to sit with it. Some kids play Frisbee on the green with the World War II memorial as their backdrop. The traffic going up the ramp to the bridge sets a grumble beneath the rustle of summer leaves.

His mind strays to his parents' visit, and Blaine catches the tension in his jaw and the furrowing of his brow. He watches the people in the park and takes a deep breath, releases it. Repeats that until he's shed the tension from his body. Then he reminds himself, softly but out loud, "I'm living the life I want, and I'm proud of the person I am." It's simple enough to then list a handful of things for which he's grateful today: pistachio gelato, living in this city, making a new friend in Kurt, and looking forward to lunch with Sam tomorrow. He sets aside the empty cup and plastic spoon, verifies his hands are still clean, and slips Watchmen first from its paper bag, and then from its slipcase. He skims through, looking for the extras, and pauses to take in Dave Gibbon's early character designs.

As the sun dips westward, Blaine slides the comic back into its slipcase and paper bag and makes his way home. He makes his bed, moves his keyboard back into his bedroom, and indulges no guilt for not composing anything today.

 ##

At roughly the same time as yesterday, his phone chirps with Kurt's expected text: "Be there in 15. I’d like to find you the way I left you this morning. If I may?"

"Oh," Blaine says to himself, reads the text again, and flushes hot. He types a reply: "I'll make sure you find me wanting."

So Kurt has a plan, and Blaine's intrigued. He goes to the bathroom to tidy up and then, back in his room, he strips down to his t-shirt, unmakes his bed into a careless rumple, and arranges himself just as he was when Kurt left, although the t-shirt bunched up under his arms is fresh, and his skin is dry and clean.

Blaine closes his eyes and waits, lets the anticipation build, slow and sweet.

When Kurt comes in, he doesn't speak. The sounds are ordinary enough and expected—the rattle of keys and the clunk of Kurt's shoes coming off, his light tread down the hall, the babble of water in the bathroom—but they serve as wonderful foreplay. Lazily Blaine rubs his growing erection against his sheets.

The quality of sound and air pressure shifts when Kurt comes through his door. Blaine opens his eyes and watches Kurt, the nimble work of his fingers at the knot of his tie, then descending the buttons of his shirt, and, most tantalizingly, slipping the tongue of his belt free of the buckle. It's only when Kurt stands, naked, that he finally speaks. "Hi." Kurt's lips broaden into a smile.

"Hey," Blaine replies.

Kurt comes to the bed, and the heat in his gaze is as naked as his skin. The stroke of his hand is warm down Blaine's spine. "Close your eyes, please," Kurt says, and Blaine does.

This time when Kurt's hands settle on Blaine's backside and spread him open, it's not his cock he lays there, but his mouth.

Blaine flashes hot in an instant. It's such a shocking tease. Brutal for his nerves, even though Kurt's mouth is so soft and mild. The labile slip of his tongue, the tender press of his lips soon has Blaine gasping. "Please..."

"Hmm?" It's half-amused, and Kurt changes nothing of his present technique.

Blaine groans and squirms—which only makes Kurt tighten his hold on Blaine.

Relentlessly, he plies Blaine open with his mouth.

"Kurt... please."

A pause. "Please, what?" Kurt asks with a frayed whisper that betrays his seeming patience. But he resumes unhurried, the touch of his tongue tip now faint enough to be little more than ticklish. Less satisfaction only results in more wanting of it.

"Fuck," Blaine says. "Please, just... unh... fuck me. Fuck me."

"Oh," Kurt says, and presses a slow, maddeningly chaste (if anything about such an action could possibly be described as chaste) kiss to Blaine's hole.

"Kurt," Blaine whines.

And, ah, there! Kurt rewards him with a tiny push into his yielding center.

It's not much, but Blaine's strung so tight. "Oh god... oh, please, can you? Fuck me?"

Then Kurt's mouth is gone, replaced with a fingertip that skates down Blaine's cleft. "I can, but... you're not too sore after yesterday? I was going to get you off like this, and then ask you to blow me."

Blaine grunts and gets his knees under himself, but he keeps his eyes closed. "Don't care," he says and pushes his ass up. "Want it, want your cock in me, so bad, please?"

"Jesus," Kurt says. "You do want it, don't you?"

"Yes."

So Kurt fucks him, deep and achingly raw. And yes, Blaine's a little sore, but he can ride that brittle edge of discomfort right through to the swelling pleasure that swamps every other thought or sensation. Kurt fucks him until he's driven dumb and incoherent, and Blaine comes, sobbing and softly wailing through it.

And Kurt must've come too, because he's pulling out carefully straight away, and that's the worst part. Blaine winces at a sudden pang. His ass will need a break after this—a good twenty-four hours at least. Still, it was worth it. "Ow," he says before he cracks his eyes open and rolls over. "Thank you."

"You're thanking me for 'ow'?" Kurt asks. He's smiling, but the wrinkle of his brow is concerned. "You sure you're all right?"

"I am, I'm good, but I might need a day or two... off."

"That's not a problem. There's always options. Your ass can have a holiday."

"But Labor Day's not for months."

Kurt laughs but wrinkles his nose. "That's not even funny."

"But you're laughing, aren't you?"

"Only out of pity."

"Ouch." Blaine laughs and arches his back so he can tug his t-shirt down. Then he adjusts his pillow behind his head. Kurt's making no move to leave. Instead he's sitting and watching Blaine with an intensity that's got nothing to do with unfunny attempts at humor or overworked backsides. "What is it?" Blaine asks before he can stop himself.

Kurt presses his lips together and cocks his head, considering. When he speaks, he speaks slowly. "You do like it when I make you beg, right? It's not a fantasy only thing for you." Kurt says. His curiosity is somber and without any quality of judgment. "Because I know, sometimes, at least for me, there are things that turn out to be better in theory than in practice, and I— Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the good sort of sexy frustration and the sort that's just flat out frustrating."

"Kurt, yes," Blaine whispers. His voice is suddenly full of static; he clears his throat to speak more clearly and with more volume. "Yes. I like it."

"Good. Okay. I wanted to be sure."

A trace of hesitancy remains in the flicker of Kurt's gaze. Blaine asks, "Do you? Like when I beg for you?"

Kurt flushes and bows his head. "Actually? I really, really do." He drags a finger down Blaine's breastbone to his navel. "And I really like it when you come around my cock while I'm fucking you," Kurt says. "Like you just did."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. It's so hot." Kurt peeks at him from behind bangs long gone floppy. It's a little shy when he continues, "But I don't..." He bites his lip as he trails off, frowns.

"You don't...? You don't like something? Something I did?"

Kurt shakes his head quickly; his shoulders stiffen. "Not you, but I don't like being made to beg, myself."

"Okay," Blaine says. "You told me you don't like being teased."

"No, I don't," Kurt says. "Some people—" Kurt pauses; his jaw clenches. He huffs an exhalation through his nose and then speaks. "I had a boyfriend. Who thought it was fun. Funny even sometimes? To see me desperate. He really got off on it, and I—" Kurt's throat spasms and mutely he shakes his head.

"It wasn't fun for you," Blaine says softly. He catches Kurt's restless fingers with his own.

"No."

"I'm so sorry, Kurt."

"Please, I don't need you to be. I just wanted you to know why."

"Then thank you for telling me."

Still, there's little strength in Kurt's smiled reply, and Blaine wants to be able to ease the affliction behind it. But Kurt's made it clear that's not entirely Blaine's role here, so Blaine tamps down the impulse. When Kurt's gaze ticks away, Blaine squeezes his hand once and gently lets go. "Can I help you with dinner tonight? You need a sous chef?"

"Actually—I forgot to stop at the bakery. Would you mind running down to the corner and picking up a ciabatta? And maybe some sourdough, the pandoro? Oh—or their olive loaf. Either's amazing. Your choice. Maybe a couple cornetti for breakfast too? I'll give you some cash."

"I'd be happy to."

Sunnier now, Kurt says, "Thank you."

##

It's after dinner, and Kurt's streaming the first season of Downton Abbey on the TV—it's one of his go to comfort shows, he says. Makes for good background company. Blaine's pleased to be able to say he enjoys it too, though he has to admit, "I didn't watch past the end of season three."

Kurt nods, "Yeah, losing both Sybil and Matthew was rough."

So they chat about the show while it patters away on low volume: their most (or least) favorite characters and story arcs, the thematic tension between past and future, and how the show's narrative presents the inevitability of change while exploring how humans choose to face it. At the dining table, Kurt is back at his pattern making, and Blaine's folding laundry on the sofa.

Watching the servants do their work is the aspect of the show that most fascinates Blaine. The detail and precision and striving for perfection, the professionalism and seriousness of the servants in their vocation (for the most part, anyway), and the respect and gratitude they receive from their charges—it inspires him to take more care with his own folding, seeking symmetry and crisp folds in each t-shirt. He admires Mr. Carson's meticulous eye and Mr. Bates' stoic determination.

It's the work of the valets and ladies' maids that's especially captivating, for their intimate service—helping their lord or lady with bathing, dressing, and grooming—doesn't, to the best of Blaine's knowledge, really exist in America. Maybe it's just fond cross-cultural nostalgia, but he can't help but compare it, in some small—likely inappropriate—way, to the care he provides Kurt. Radically different, but still a personal service. It's a nice way to think about what he's doing here, to set himself alongside the dignified servants of a more sedate antique time, though he can only vainly aspire to their level of skill and excellence.

In the lull, "So how was your day?" Kurt asks.

"Oh," Blaine says. Kurt's stretched across the table with his pencil and ruler and his eyebrows raised, looking genuinely interested to hear an answer. "Um, well..." Blaine won't mention his mother's call. That's not anything he wishes to unpack with Kurt. "I went out exploring—found a gym with a good schedule of morning yoga classes, a neat little comic shop, and a great gelato spot—"

Kurt wrinkles his nose. "Yoga? Really? You do yoga?"

Blaine blinks. "Is that a problem?"

"No, just—you don't seem the type to go for the New Age fads," Kurt says.

"But it's not really New Age, it's an ancient practice."

"A spiritual one, somewhat misappropriated by soccer moms and celebrities."

"I get what you mean, but doesn't have to be like that," Blaine says. "It's good exercise, and the psychological benefits are real and rooted in neuroscience."

"Maybe. It's just not my thing, I guess?" Kurt's grin is wry. "Despite the veneer of big city sophistication, sometimes I think I'm still too much of a mechanic's son from the Midwest. But mostly I'm just not one for mysticism."

"No?"

"No. Though, I will admit—I did nearly take a yoga class at school just because the fundies were so against it, with all their 'yoga lets Satan in' hue and cry. As an atheist I felt obliged to consider anything that bothered them that much, but then... well, it involved taking one gym class more than I was legally required to take to graduate. I took advanced sewing instead."

"You're an atheist?"

"Is that a problem?" Kurt echoes, but with warmth.

"Not at all."

"Good."

"I was just surprised," Blaine says, and he can't help but add, "You don't seem the type, not being some kind of middle-aged evolutionary biologist. Isn't that the stereotype?"

"Or, you know, sexist libertarians," Kurt jokes. He sets down his ruler, and his fingers idly twirl his pencil. "Are you religious?"

"Not really? I went to an Episcopal church when I was growing up, but it wasn't something very serious for me. I liked the singing and the spectacle, but when I was old enough to opt out, I did."

Kurt bends back over the table. "Do you believe in God?"

"I'm not sure? Definitely not the interventionist judgmental sort." Blaine says. He finishes folding the last t-shirt and sets it aside with the others. "I don't believe there's some old bearded white guy sitting up there watching us masturbate."

Kurt laughs. "Just tell me you're not a young earth creationist and we'll be okay."

"Oh, god no."

"And you believe in evolution."

"Of course."

"And the Big Bang."

"Well, sure," Blaine says, and he goes to lean against the back of the sofa, facing Kurt. "But there's still some mystery there, don't you think? Like, what caused it—something had to have caused it. Causality, that's pretty fundamental to the laws of physics."

"Except the laws of physics came into existence at the same time as the universe, so no, there doesn't need to be a cause in that sense."

"What I mean is, whatever triggered the Big Bang—maybe that's all God is. Some force that just set all this in motion. Maybe the laws of physics themselves are God? Does that make me a Deist? An agnostic Deist? Is that a thing?"

"I have no idea, but God of the Gaps is the worst God," Kurt says. "And it's intellectually lazy. What's wrong with something like vacuum fluctuations?"

"Vacuum fluctuations?"

"It's a quantum physics thing—in a perfect vacuum, particles will randomly burst into and out of existence." Kurt’s eyes are bright, holding Blaine’s. "The universe could be like that. A kind of bubble that spontaneously formed and expanded, and now here we are, talking about it. It's one idea, anyway."

"Quantum physics, huh. Is that a hobby of yours?"

"Goodness no, I don’t have the right kind of brain for it, but I read."

"Well okay, so maybe that's God making those vacuum fluctuations? He's out there somewhere blowing cosmic bubbles." Blaine gestures with one hand, miming little bursts. "Each one a universe."

Kurt rolls his eyes and straightens. "No points for that one. You're not going to find a credible argument to convince me that God or any other god-like entity exists and created the universe, Blaine. You end up with the same problem: what created God?"

"Maybe God doesn't need to be created?"

"Ditto the universe. Turtles all the way down, Blaine. Not God, turtles."

Blaine laughs. "But you can't prove me wrong, can you?"

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," Kurt says tartly, but he's still grinning. He points his pencil at Blaine. "And since you're the one making an extraordinary claim, the burden of proof is on you. Prove to me there's not a teapot orbiting Jupiter."

Blaine blows a raspberry at Kurt and then tilts his head; a smile tugs the corner of his mouth. "Or, you know, maybe we're all just brains in jars and this is a pointless conversation because we're stuck in a simulation. We have no idea what reality actually entails."

"Like The Matrix?"

"Mmhm, except fewer bodies and more sense-making plot. The machine overlords have harvested our brains for bonus processing power."

"But surely whatever bonus processing they're getting from our networked brains is negated by the amount of processing power it takes to run the simulation."

"I’ll concede that point," Blaine says.

"For what it's worth, I abhor that kind of epistemological nihilism."

"Big words."

"Abhor only has five letters, it's not that big."

"But look, everything we think we know comes through our senses and gets processed by our brains. We don't perceive reality directly, right? So in a sense, even if our understanding of our own brains and bodies is correct, we pretty much are brains in jars."

"That's depressing. The idea we can’t truly know anything?"

"Yeah, it really is."

"It's horrible. But I think the idea of God is horrible too. Maybe not your agnostic notion, but the omnipresent omnipotent guy who is supposed to be all things good and virtuous, but who advocates beating children and stoning women and condemning gays? I can't accept that's anything but absurd."

"Sure, but don't confuse the specific oppressive beliefs of some humans with the metaphysical question."

"But the metaphysical question at that level—calling the Big Bang event God? Seems kind of pointless? To me, anyway. It's just using different words for the same thing, and why choose to make it a supernatural agent just because we don't have a single, clear scientific answer yet?"

"You're probably right, I just don't feel like I can claim certainty about some fundamentally unknowable things. Part of me at least wants to believe there’s some kind of benign wish or intention binding all of this together, even if I can’t prove it."

Kurt inclines his head in acceptance if not agreement.

"At any rate," Blaine says. "I do think you can have spirituality without a belief in a literal God. We're all connected to each other and to the universe by virtue of being made of it. You could come to yoga class with me and maintain your staunch atheist cred."

"Nice try. But, really, Blaine I prefer to do my Richard Simmons 'Sweatin' to the Oldies' workout in total privacy."

Blaine ducks his head as he laughs. "Right, okay, suit yourself."

"I'd say you know me well enough by now to know that I indeed will."

##

Wednesday two o'clock, Blaine waits on the street outside the little Dominican diner where he's meeting Sam for lunch. It's a triangular brick building perched on a tiny wedge of land between three streets. Its expansive plate glass windows reveal sunny yellow paint and stainless steel cafe chairs around wood topped tables. Blaine fiddles with his phone, and is in the middle of scrolling through silver service restaurant reviews when "Boo!" comes from over his shoulder.

Blaine pockets his phone and turns. "Hey, Sam."

"Hi!" Sam's grinning and out of breath. He's still in makeup from the shoot and his hair is fluffed up and styled into windswept waves. He's in his street clothes: jeans that ride low and loose around his hips and an old Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt that still bears the faded ghost of a salsa spill. Blaine remembers both the outing where Sam bought the t-shirt and the night it acquired the stain. It pricks his heart with nostalgia for those early days in the city with Sam.

"Hungry?"

"Famished."

Inside the diner, the atmosphere is heavy with the smell of slow cooked chicken, peppers, and oregano. Sam gets a bowl of spicy chunks of fried chicken and Blaine a shrimp salad. They share a plate of fried eggplant.

"So how was the shoot?"

"It was cool. First thing, they had us up on the rooftop farm? The Brooklyn Grange. Posing with beehives and stuff. 'Rustic Urban Modern.'" Sam rolls his eyes. "Once the sun was up, they took us out on this antique fire tug on the river with the Navy Yard behind us. That one was, um, Maritime Vintage Industrial? They finished up in the park by the bridge. Classic NYC. The photographer said the light today was brilliant."

"Sounds like a fun shoot."

"Yeah—and just so you know—fisherman sweaters are going to be the big thing this fall."

"I bet you looked great." It's not hard to imagine it.

"Well, you know, that's my job," Sam says with a grin. "And hey, I got you some honey, honey." Sam bends to dig in his messenger bag and pulls out a squat glass jar. Sets it on the table between them.

"Why, Sam, what a sweet gift!" Blaine amps up the sentimentality.

"Anything for you, babe," Sam says with an exaggerated wink, before he digs into his giant bowl of chicken with the enthusiasm of a starving basset hound. In advance of the shoot, Sam will have been subsisting on unsweetened chia, almond milk, and raw cocoa smoothies.

Blaine picks at his salad with more delicacy.

"So how's it going with Kurt?" Sam asks around a mouthful.

It's the inevitable question, and Blaine should have prepared an answer. But he hasn't, so he just manages a mumbly sort of, "Oh, fine, good, it's fine."

Sam stops chewing, swallows and gives Blaine a level look. He speaks more slowly. "How is it going with Kurt?"

"Really, it is fine. Better than fine. Really good even."

"Buuut?"

"I don't know?"

"Yeah you do."

"Sam—come on."

"Is he screwing you around, dude? I mean, I know the screwing is part of it, but—"

"No, nothing like that."

"Blaine."

"What?"

"Is there a problem? 'Cause, man, if you're not, like, 180 percent cool with what's going on with him, you need to get out of there."

"Chill. There's no problem beyond the hiccups of getting to know each other so fast. Too fast, probably. Mostly, if I'm worried about anything, it's that I..." Blaine takes a long blink and forces out the rest with his eyes still closed. "I care about him. More than I should."

"Oh. I see."

"People have hurt him, because of..." Blaine lowers his voice more. "Because of his condition, right? And I'm doing my best to be uncomplicated and easy so he can feel safe with me, but sometimes? I just want to..."

"You want to wrap him up in your arms and make everything all better for him, huh? Yeah, I know what that's like."

"That's... probably a lot of it. And I know I can't fix any of that stuff. I just wish we'd met... differently, so there wasn't this built-in expiration date and set limits on what's even possible... I don't know. I'm being stupid."

"Nah, but are you in love with him?"

"Love? No. I don't think—it's too soon to even think that way, isn't it?"

"Like that's ever stopped you. I'm not talking about what you're doing in your head." Sam taps the center of his chest. "But what's going on in here."

"Pot, kettle?"

"Fair point," Sam concedes. "But I'm not wrong."

"No." Blaine sighs. "The worst thing is? I think he maybe? Maybe feels the same way, like in different circumstances, he and I could have been... more."

"Parallel universe."

"Yeah." They eat in silence for a bit while Blaine thinks about all the other universes held in their cosmic bubbles, bobbing around in whatever it is that's outside spacetime.

Then Sam asks, "Are you going to stay after this week?"

"I want to, I want to so badly, but..." It's not a thought Blaine's let himself complete, even in the privacy of his own head. "But I'm worried that because I like him too much, I'm just going fuck it all up for both of us." Blaine drops his fork with a clang and reaches for his soda. "That's not what Kurt needs."

"It's not what you need either."

"Not really."

"And so you're scared of that? Caring about him."

"I'm not, but he is, I'm pretty sure. And so I guess—maybe I am too in a way, because I want this to work out. I don't want to make his life more complicated."

"Complicated isn't necessarily bad though. It's just complicated."

"But he doesn't want complicated, so I can't. I can't. It's not fair."

"To you or him?"

Blaine ignores the question. "But I think— No, I know. I know I can do this right. I can be his friend, I can be a safe person for him. Can't that be enough? If I care for him, that's what I should do, right? I can't walk away because I like him too much. That just seems ridiculous and kind of mean."

"Dude, are you forgetting yourself in all this?"

Blaine shakes his head. "I'm not. Being with Kurt is, I mean he is, uh." Blaine has to stop talking for a moment to swallow and blink.

"He's what?"

"I know it's supposed to be just sex, and it—um, sometimes it is? But other times, the way he is with me, it feels like..."

"Lo~ove?" Sam smirks.

"I didn't say love! It's more like, he gets me? Or he wants to. I've never really had that with someone before."

"Or maybe you're just stoned on oxytocin from having so much sex."

Blaine laughs. "Yeah, okay, maybe that's all it is."

"But seriously, if he's treating you right and you like him? Why not stay? Even if it's just for the summer." Then Sam puts on his Sir Patrick Stewart voice, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.'"

"Well, it's futile to argue against an impression of Captain Picard quoting Shakespeare, so I'll just give up now."

"Excellent," Sam says. "You know I'm always right."

"Uh huh, sure," Blaine says, and then asks, "So are you coming to the potluck on Friday?"

"Definitely," Sam says. "I promised Mercedes I'd be there."

"Oh? So is that a thing now?"

"Maybe? She's so great. We were up till midnight Monday talking about—get this—Star Wars. The Original Trilogy. Dude, she went trick-or-treating as Princess Leia in her Bespin get up when she was seven. How cute is that? I don't know, man, but she might just be the one."

It's hardly the first time Sam's made such a hopeful declaration. Blaine grins and raises his glass to toast their two ridiculous hearts: "To daring to love, even when we might lose."

Chapter Text

"The kid still reeked of tauntaun guts. Han couldn't do much about that. Outside their shelter the ice storm raged. Inside the narrow space, Han and Luke were crammed like wet cargo from Mon Cala--and smelled at least half as bad. Luke was delirious, squirming and moaning incoherently about Ben and the Dagobah system and something called Yoda. It promised to be a long night, but maybe Han could do something about Luke's agitation.

He pulled off his mittens with his teeth and laid a hand on Luke's cheek, as gently as he'd calm a frightened dray beast. Luke's skin was clammy and cold--and far too pale. His eyes shot open at the touch, wide and startlingly lucid. 'Han?'

Around them the walls of the shelter rippled and fluttered. "I've got you, kid. You're safe."

Wildly, Luke looked about and struggled to sit. Not enough room for it though. Han reached for him, to try to get him to lie back down, and Luke flung an arm against the flexible wall. Then he nearly elbowed Han in the face. 'What--?'

'Hey, hey,' Han soothed. He pulled Luke close, into a tight embrace to contain his flailing limbs. Luke settled and clung to Han almost instantly. Luke's hair, where it had escaped the band of Luke's cap, tickled Han's nose. This close, Luke just smelled human: a little stale and sweaty, sure, but sweet and warm otherwise. 'We're safe here until morning,' Han said, and the softness of his own voice surprised him. "Just gotta keep you warm, right? Gotta take care of you.'"

Given the story's rating, Blaine's pretty sure he knows where this one's going. The late summer afternoon has bled indistinguishably into early evening, and Blaine's stretched out on the sofa, reading some fic Sam linked him, while he waits for Kurt's text. These days it's hard to find new Luke/Han slash, and Blaine's got a fondness for blanket fic, the crucible of it. The inevitability is hot. It'll get him in the right mood for Kurt. He nestles deeper into the cushions and holds his tablet with one hand while he lets his other rest atop his thigh. He runs his thumb along the inseam of his pants and continues to read. Savors how the slow pulse of blood to his groin grows incrementally heavier.

Just as Han's trying to unfasten Luke's jacket--because of course you need skin to skin contact to warm a person--the lock on the apartment door rattles. The door swings wide and Kurt comes in; his arms are laden with bags of groceries and bolts of fabric. He peers around a rectangle of plain calico. "Hey!" Kurt says, smiling. "Sorry I didn't text--I couldn't quite reach my phone."

"Evidently," Blaine says. He tosses aside his tablet and scrambles to his feet. A bag hooked over Kurt's shoulder slips, and one of its straps falls to his elbow. The bag yawns open, threatening to spill. Kurt teeters to balance the rest of his armload. Blaine dodges the steamer trunk and gets to Kurt in time to intercept a small eggplant that's nearly slithered free. "Yikes. Let me give you a hand."

"Thanks," Kurt says; he's out of breath from his brisk walk. He catches the edge of the door with his ankle and gives it a light kick to close it. Blaine grabs the closest of the bags looped over Kurt's forearms and takes them to the kitchen while Kurt makes his way to the dining room table.

There's a lightness in Kurt's movements and a brightness in his voice as he unpacks his sewing supplies. "I found the perfect fabric for Carole's dress. I know I'd talked about raw silk, but then I found this silk charmeuse at a good price, and it's perfect. The color's more royal than raisin, but the drape of it, the way it catches the light--she's going to adore it."

Blaine gets the cold items in the fridge and goes around to the dining table. The fabric is lustrous and the color rich. "It's beautiful, Kurt."

"I'll need to make some changes to the neckline, I think? I want to get started on a mockup tonight, so I was wondering? I know it's short notice, but would you mind cooking? Or we can order in."

"I'm happy to cook. Did you have something planned?" He can't recall exactly. They've used all the orphaned ingredients. He tries to think what's left in the fridge.

"Not really. There's still a bunch of asparagus," Kurt says. "I was going to improvise something with it tonight. So aside from the stuff I just picked up for tomorrow's potluck, whatever else we've got is fair game."

"Okay," Blaine says. "I'll see what I can come up with."

"Great!" Kurt says. "Thank you, and if I may impose upon your good graces just a bit more..." Kurt reaches for Blaine's hand and brings it to his groin. His erection strains the front of his pants. "Something fast, please? I don't want a lot of fuss."

"Of course," Blaine says, "You know I'm happy to do that too."

Kurt grins and rolls his eyes. "I'm just really keen to get started on the dress and I could do without the stupid distraction." He gestures at his crotch.

"Right, well then." Blaine thumbs the hook of Kurt's pants free of its bar. "Don't mind me."

Even with a perfunctory handjob, Blaine can't help but lean in close and touch the tip of his nose to Kurt's pulse. Kurt's head lists to the side; he shivers and swears and jolts in Blaine's hand. Blaine speeds his strokes and breathes deeply, and he thinks, yes, human: sweet and warm. When Kurt mumbles a hoarse, "Close." Blaine drops to his knees to avoid a mess.

Once he's caught his breath, "Perfect," Kurt says. He pets over Blaine's hair, and his fingertips linger for a moment behind Blaine's ear. Then Kurt sighs through his smile, takes his hand back to himself, and zips up. And that's that.

Blaine doesn't mind; he truly doesn't. If reading some sexy fanfiction got him in the mood for something more connected, that isn't Kurt's fault. While Kurt turns back to his project, Blaine goes to investigate the refrigerator.

In addition to the asparagus, Blaine gets out the eggs. They've still got half a loaf of pandoro, and Kurt's herbs are growing well--Blaine can work with that.

Kurt brings an ironing board out from the hall cupboard. The clatter and screech of him unfolding it is such an unexpectedly familiar and domestic sound. Not one Blaine's heard since... Probably not since he was living at home and his mother ironed his week's worth of Dalton uniform shirts on Sunday mornings.

She'd set up the ironing board in the family room while Blaine sat with coffee and french toast. Together they watched the Sunday morning news shows together. First it was The McLaughlin Group on PBS, and then they'd switch switch over to NBC for Meet the Press. That was back when both John McLaughlin and Tim Russert were still alive. It's a good memory, though it comes with a soft note of melancholy for the permanent markers of the irretrievable past. Not that he'd want to go back, but still.

The flash of memory and mortality gives Blaine pause in this moment, standing over a carton of brown eggs, a bunch of asparagus, and the chopping board where he's about to mince some chives. One day his time with Kurt will be behind him.

He lays down his knife and looks over at Kurt, who's ironing the plain calico with sure sweeps of his steaming iron. There's a smell, too, that Blaine had forgot. Heat on cotton. It's like something old and fundamental, strangely comforting, but he can't quite articulate how.

What of this present moment will he remember the next time he smells a hot iron or hears the metallic squawk of its opening board? Will the memory be good? Will he have regrets? What pieces of what he has now will be lost? Or--for good or ill--changed beyond redemption?

Blaine stops the thought there. He doesn't want to be this moody on a Thursday night. So he turns back to his dinner plan: simple poached eggs and asparagus on grilled sourdough toast with some kind of herb and lemon sauce. A simple salad of sliced cucumber and tomato on the side. Maybe a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan to finish. Should he attempt hollandaise? Probably not. He's never made it from scratch before, and he doesn't want to risk disappointment. Stick to a cream sauce.

"Do you have tarragon?" Blaine asks.

Kurt sets the iron on its heel. "We've got some dried in the pantry."

"That'll do," Blaine says.

They eat at the island, with the calico now having taken over the dining table. The pattern pieces are pinned to it with a rainbow assortment of pearl-headed pins. Kurt unstraps the pincushion--a blue tomato--from his wrist and sets it aside. Then he uncorks an imported sauvignon blanc. Its tart fruitiness enhances the lemon in the sauce and provides a refreshing complement to the richness of the eggs and the cream.

"This is good," Kurt says. "Tarragon was a good choice."

"Maybe a bit too brunchy though?"

"Nothing wrong with brunch for a Thursday dinner."

"That sounds like the voice of experience."

"Oh, it is," Kurt says. "There's something about Thursdays."

"Yeah?"

"Mmhm. It's like your work energy is depleted, but your reserves have started to refill in anticipation of the weekend. But it's not like Friday's energy. You can't blow off too much steam. You have to manage your resources. So, comforting, nourishing food like eggs and toast or waffles--or even a good bowl of oatmeal--is extra satisfying after dark on a Thursday."

Blaine considers it. "I like that, your theory of Thursdays."

Kurt preens adorably.

"It's also the best day to go giant hunting. If you're into that sort of thing," Blaine adds lightly.

"Giant hunting?"

"Because of Thor?"

Kurt frowns quizzically and shakes his head slowly.

"Thursday? It's Thor's Day."

"Oh, right..." Kurt's still looking amusedly confused--or skeptical. It's hard to tell.

"Sorry," Blaine says. "Too much nerd talk?"

Kurt gives a careless shrug. "Which is totally what Thursdays are also for. Apparently."

"Brunch for dinner and nerdery?"

"Why not?"

"In that case," Blaine ventures. "Have you seen the movie?"

"Is there a movie about Thursdays?"

Blaine laughs. "No, Thor."

"Can't say that I have." Kurt's amusement is not at Blaine's expense, but he remains hard to read.

"We could stream it, after our dinner-brunch, in honor of the day? I promise, Chris Hemsworth will not disappoint."

Kurt tilts his head and looks at Blaine, intrigued perhaps. But then he frowns and purses his lips. "Maybe not tonight? I wanted to--"

"Get back to Carole's dress, of course." Blaine bites down on the reflex to apologize.

"Maybe this weekend? Or Thursday next?"

"Yeah, cool!" Blaine says, with more enthusiasm than is warranted. But he knows this feeling, that urge to share a thing he loves with someone he cares for, to make memories of those experiences, to intertwine more parts of himself with more parts of Kurt. Maybe his confession to Sam was ill-advised; all he's done is give himself permission to moon over Kurt. Or maybe it's just the implication that he will indeed be here this time next week.

And Kurt is talking about the dress now, "... this 1958 Dior design that's half inspiring me. Do you think a sweetheart neckline would be too cute for the DC crowd? Or would it hit the right level of nostalgia?"

"I honestly have no idea. I've been to Washington DC exactly zero times."

"But you have such a great personal style yourself, Blaine. You balance vintage and modern sensibilities while hitting the right kind of classic sophistication."

"Oh. Thank you," Blaine says and his cheeks warm. The compliment is both flattering and incisive, which shouldn't be surprising. Kurt's not the sort to offer faint praise.

"So, um, let me show you a photo of my inspiration. I'd value your opinion." Kurt shifts to pull his phone from his pocket, he taps through and swipes across a blur of photos and then angles the screen toward Blaine.

Blaine leans over to get a better look. The dress would look at home on a young Elizabeth Taylor or Audrey Hepburn. "That's very elegant. Timeless, I'd say."

"Good, that was my intention." Kurt pockets his phone.

"So," Blaine asks, because he's been wondering and this seems as good an opening as any. "What are your parents doing in Washington DC, if you grew up in Ohio?"

"The last name didn't give it away?" Kurt asks with a mild wince, as if he's embarrassed to have to explain.

Hummel. It dawns on Blaine. "Your father, is he Burt Hummel, the congressman?"

Kurt nods, "That's him."

"I voted for him."

"Thank you."

"So you're the son he used to mention during the marriage equality fight." It was a regular line in Burt's speeches, that his son dreamed of the day he could marry his high school sweetheart in the state where they grew up.

"Yep."

That's not the only thing Blaine remembers. There was tragedy too, for Burt Hummel and his family. "Oh... so, that was your brother who passed away?"

"Finn," Kurt says. "Yeah, we lost him--gosh--five years ago now."

"I'm sorry, I had no idea."

"Thank you, we still miss him." Kurt looks out the window for a long moment. The sunset ripples brilliant saffron gold across the tops of the buildings. "But anyway, my dad does his best to keep my name out of the papers and off the air. He never wants me to be a tabloid story. The press have been really great about respecting that, and I try to keep it quiet at my end, as best I can. I don't advertise the family connection. And like you, most people don't guess."

Blaine nods. "Yeah, it's good they leave you alone. I don't think I've ever seen a photo of you in the paper." It seems like something he would have noticed, seeing Kurt, even in blurry newsprint.

"Anyway, that's why I'm being fussy about this dress for Carole. Even after three re-election campaigns, she says she feels like a bumpkin alongside the other DC wives. I promised I'd make her something new and elegant for the fourth."

"In purple?"

"Yeah, well, the first thing I figured I should avoid are kitschy combos of red, white, and blue, right? But the red and blue are still present in the purple, which is her best color, and I'll have her accessorize with white. A patent leather clutch, pearls, a wedge sandal with an ankle strap--that sort of thing. I'm not sure about a hat. Or gloves."

"Yeah, hmm, the wrong hat could verge on a Churchill Downs look."

"Ha, oh god, yes, you're right." Kurt's eyebrows rise for a moment. "Okay, nixing the gloves too--that's probably too WASPy or British anyway. Hat may be weather dependent, but I'll keep any potential hat modest--for sun shading purposes only. No passive aggressive power peacocking. Carole hates that." Kurt's smile turns easy as he takes a sip of wine. His blue eyes are warm as he considers Blaine. "So what about you and your family? They still in Ohio?"

"My parents, yeah. I have a brother in LA. He's an aspiring actor, but he's kind of terrible? Just don't tell him I said that, if you're unfortunate enough to meet him. He's just finished filming a minor part in Sharknado 7."

"Wow," Kurt says. "They're making a seventh one? I didn't even know there'd been six of them."

"Yeah, well, the worst thing is? I'll be expected to watch it and then tell him what a powerhouse performance he gave as, I don't know, National Guardsman number four."

Kurt stifles a laugh.

"You think I'm kidding! He's convinced it's going to be his big break. I mean, his last credited role was a murder victim in a web series, so..."

"Well." Kurt picks up his glass. "Here's to your brother jumping the shark in only the most literal and cheap CGI sense."

Obligingly, Blaine takes a drink, and he thinks, so far, the memories made here will be fond ones.

##

The soft knock at the bathroom door comes just as Blaine is rinsing toothpaste foam down the sink drain. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and straightens. "Yes?"

"May I come in?"

"Sure."

Kurt enters the bathroom with a shadow of a smile and a sharpness in his eye. He wears his red and white striped pajamas again, and he holds up a butt plug, a blunt elongated teardrop shape in glossy black. Not too long; not too fat.

"Ah," Blaine says. Anticipation is a pleasant squeeze in his gut. "You'd like me to wear that tonight?"

"If you're feeling up to it?"

It's been two days without penetration, and if Kurt weren't offering, tonight Blaine might well be asking. He's ready for it. "Yeah," Blaine replies. "I am."

Kurt's gladness shines. "You want me to leave it for you to put in, or... would you prefer me to do it?"

"Would you, please?"

"All right, just, you know, bend forward some?"

Blaine tips forward and braces a hand either side of the sink. The porcelain is cold under his palms. He keeps his eyes up and meets Kurt's gaze in the mirror as he steps behind Blaine. They share a smile.

Kurt sets the plug and the lube on the shelf beside the sink while he draws Blaine's pajama pants down to slump about his ankles. Goosebumps scatter across Blaine's bared skin.

"Spread your legs a little?" Kurt asks.

Blaine complies. His breathing comes loud in the close space; now, he hangs his head and closes his eyes.

It's fairly clinical, Kurt slicking up his fingers and inserting them into Blaine, gently coaxing his body to relax in advance of the plug. It's clear he's not aiming for Blaine's arousal. Regardless, the entire situation kindles a heat under Blaine's skin. His heart throbs strong in his dick. He flushes hot and can't stifle a soft reedy moan.

"Feeling okay?" Kurt asks, concerned. "Too much?"

"No... I'm just, uh, doing a lot better than okay."

"Ah." Kurt's fingers change their attitude, they slow and seek, pressing and rubbing to make electricity trip along Blaine's nerves. Blaine shudders and whimpers. Kurt's breath goes quick and shallow.

"Go ahead..." Blaine says. "Go ahead and fuck me now. If you want."

"If?" Kurt huffs a laugh. He reaches, one handed, past Blaine's shoulder to open the medicine cabinet, fumbles for a condom and ends up upending the entire box into the sink.

"I didn't... um... want to ah-assume." Blaine rallies some manual dexterity and tears a condom free, passes it to Kurt, and stuffs the rest back into the box. Kurt pushes the mirrored door closed. And Blaine's gaze catches in Kurt's reflected one. He sees how darkly Kurt's eyes burn, and it's highlighted in a strange way by the mirror's reversal of Kurt's features. The way it reveals the mild asymmetry of Kurt's face lends a fresh intimacy to the fractured fire in his gaze.

"It's a safe assumption." Kurt eases his fingers free and looks down to where he gets the condom on himself. "Especially for you."

"For me?" Blaine asks faintly, just as Kurt nudges his wet cockhead up against Blaine's anus, and there's that beautiful ache as his body opens. The friction makes his skin prickle wonderfully.

"Yeah," Kurt says, all full of air and heat. He grunts softly as he pushes in, slow and smooth. It makes Blaine rise up to his toes and tighten his grip on the sink. "Nice to actually want someone," Kurt says, but he doesn't give Blaine time to reflect on his words, for he pushes in again, this time sharper: a decisive, blood-thrilling jab. It skips a shock up Blaine's spine.

God, he likes it so much, how Kurt's just that little bit taller, how taking him like this tugs at his sacrum with all the animal bliss of soothing a deep, hard to reach tickle. It reminds him of the first time Kurt fucked him.

"Oh, that's... uh... really good," Blaine mumbles. Using his grip on the sink--and trusting it to take his weight--Blaine pushes himself up to relieve the strain of his toes. At his back, Kurt is so hot, pressing closer as Blaine shifts up; Blaine's cock bumps and catches the cold edge of the sink. He winces. It requires some extra concentration to steady his wrists. Inadvertently, he tips forward, and Kurt's quick to catch him around the waist.

"Whoops, steady there," Kurt says. He pulls Blaine against his chest and props his chin upon Blaine's shoulder. "Hang on... let me just..." Kurt moves both hands to Blaine's hips and takes much of the weight of Blaine's lower body, and Blaine lets gravity settle him into Kurt's hold. His lips caress the nape of Blaine's neck, and he says, a little breathless, a lot sweet and soft, "I've got you, all right?"

Blaine head swims hot; his ass throbs full; and his heart seems to simply tip over. "... okay..." He loosens but doesn't relinquish his hold on the sink. He still needs to keep himself from mashing his face into the mirror. His toes curl against the grooves between the floor tiles. "Okay," he says again.

"Yeah?" Kurt straightens and strengthens his grasp.

"Yeah."

"You want to come now? Or wait 'til later?"

His body's been wanting it since Han took off Luke's coat. "Now, please, Kurt."

Jerky and quick, Kurt fucks him.

"Oh god..." Blaine grits out. He won't last long like this. It's building tight and bright and heavy in his belly already. His face feels numb, his body muzzy at the edges, but inside is sharp flares and sweet fizz. He tries to hold on to something more. But it's futile. Kurt has him, inside and out. "Please," he says. Doesn't even know exactly what he's asking for.

Kurt yanks him back onto his cock, hard. Blaine's heels meet the floor. "Fuck." He shoves back to meet Kurt's next thrust. It packs even more irresistible heat into his balls and the deep root of his cock.

"That's it," Kurt says. He drapes himself over Blaine's back and skims his fingers over Blaine's ribs and around to brush across his nipples and dig into his pecs. Kurt's hips beat a relentless tempo against Blaine's ass.

Blaine sets his teeth and works for more. It's a strange moment to be grateful for the endurance and coordination dance class has given him as he snaps his pelvis back to take each successive push.

Against the knob of Blaine's spine, Kurt gasps and mumbles, "Good boy. Show me how you like it."

"Like this," Blaine says. "Love it like this."

"Show me how much."

It's not hard to let an orgasm take him. And then it's just as simple to hang in its trailing, tingling lassitude, open and yielding, until Kurt finds his own satisfaction.

But before he pulls out, Kurt asks, petting down Blaine's spine soothingly, "You still want that plug tonight?"

Blaine trembles under Kurt's hand. It takes two attempts to get enough air to achieve an audible volume: "Yes, please." Blaine wants to hold onto this feeling as long as he can. Wants too, to take the plug as a place holder for Kurt, a reminder of the continuity of Kurt's desire and Blaine's fulfillment of it.

Kurt withdraws, and then comes the toy: cool silicone, wet and smooth, a gentle push. It goes in easily and settles into a comfortable presence. It's good it's not any bigger though, Blaine's nerves are stripped raw from the way Kurt's just fucked him. He shudders and relaxes.

"Good job," Kurt murmurs and he wipes the excess lube from Blaine's skin, crouches to pick up Blaine's pajamas, and then tugs them back up over his hips. "Okay?"

"Yes," Blaine says. He flexes around the plug to verify it's seated securely. He pushes up from the sink and straightens as he turns to face Kurt. "Okay."

Kurt's teeth snag his bottom lip, and he cups Blaine's jaw with his palm. His eyes still hold heat, but it's banked for now. "See you soon, then."

##

In bed, Blaine picks up his tablet. His desktop rotary fan hums on low setting from where it's perched on his windowsill. The window is open a crack to let in the cooling night air. He's still abuzz with arousal, more psychological than physical: an intangible simmer at the edge of his mind that blends recall with anticipation. Meanwhile, on Hoth, things are certainly heating up for Han and Luke:

Luke's breath comes in rapid puffs against Han's neck. "Han," he says, faint and low. He pulls himself closer, and though his bare skin where they touch is still cold, Han's sure there's heat rising beneath it. Through the tight weave of Luke's briefs it's damned obvious. With each ragged exhale, the kid's dick pulses and stirs, harder each time. "Please?"

"You're gonna be fine," Han says, awkwardly petting over Luke's tangled hair. What in this bleak icy hell is he supposed to do here? Being close like this, skin to skin, his own body's not shy about taking the cue.

Now, Han's never been all that fussy about taking opportunities for physical affection when they come to him. Galaxy knows he's taken advantage on occasion, sometimes pressed his case more than a gentleman strictly should. But he tries to never leave a person worse for the knowing of him. And if Chance sometimes has other ideas, well, he can usually convince himself he did right by himself at least. Got to look out for number one or the rest's not much use. Not the most honorable code, but it's kept him and Chewie alive this long. Can't shake the tickle of dread that it's all catching up to him though. Too many bounty hunters on his tail of late. Debts to pay. Times like this he regrets not having been a better man.

The flash of conscience will likely pass, but it's not helping much now with a mostly naked body against him that belongs to someone Han could never bear to disappoint. The kid looks at him like he's a hero sometimes. And, maybe, yeah, he is a little bit. He got a medal anyway. And maybe he likes the version of himself Luke reflects back to him. Maybe he wants to be that guy full time. Maybe--if he gets through all this--he can be.

"Please, Han... I need..." Luke's body's so pliant and inviting against his. It'd be easy to give the kid what he's asking for. Do a good job warming him up, too. But while Han doesn't want to tell Luke no, he's got to be sure he's saying yes to the right thing.

"Kid, you gotta be more specific."

At that Luke surges up to cover Han's mouth with his own. It's full of frantic hot breath and clumsy wet tongue. Even messy, unpracticed, and off center, Luke's kiss is the hottest fucking thing on the whole fucking planet. Until he wriggles a hand down between them and squeezes Han's cock, anyway. And that seems a clear enough answer.

"Okay," Han says, "okay." He rolls to his back bringing Luke over with him to lie on top. He just hopes Luke's not going to look at him too differently come sunrise. With one hand, he takes Luke's chin and guides him into a second, more controlled kiss. His other hand scoots low to peel Luke's briefs away from the luscious swell of his ass. Desperately, Luke rubs his cock against Han's hip. The hungriest whimper catches low in his throat.

Blaine lets his tablet tip backwards. He stares at the ceiling and tries to catch his breath. This is not, ultimately, going to help him get to sleep, and he does actually need to sleep. He wants to get to the early yoga class at the gym, and Kurt will be coming for him later--the promise of that rests full in his ass.

He could jerk off, but he wants to save it for Kurt. Blaine sets his reading aside, double checks his phone's alarm is set, and turns out his light. He turns his pillow over and rests his cheek against its cool surface. He thinks about kisses, the needful sort that drown you in your partner's desire. Eventually, he falls asleep with one hand curled loosely around his half-hard cock.

##

"... can't believe you slept through all that," is what wakes Blaine. The whispered words tickle his ear. Visceral craving surges in his blood.

"Mmph?" Blaine flinches and queries, and though he tries to open his eyes, his eyelashes catch against something and he sees nothing. Kurt's close—close and hot and touching him all over, around, and heavy inside. He's on his back and his ass is full, not of the plug he fell asleep with, but Kurt's cock, grinding into him with such deep, tight scintillating pressure. "Oh... oh my god."

"Awake now?" The warmth of Kurt's breath recedes and Blaine shivers at the cool that replaces it.

"Oooh, yeah," Blaine groans and twists beneath Kurt, seeking friction. His hands scramble to find Kurt's skin, his ribs, the hot silky span of his back, the dip and crest of his spine, the breadth of his shoulders. The fabric over Blaine's eyes sets faint bands of tension over the bridge of his nose and brow.

"Wait a sec... wait." Kurt squeezes Blaine's hip, holds him until he quiets.

"Okay," Blaine says. Veiled in darkness he releases his tension and breathes. In the stillness, the fog of sleep billows in his consciousness, but his arousal is burning it off fast.

"Give me your hands," Kurt says. The weight and heat and contact of Kurt's body all shift, but he stays rooted snug inside. His thighs flex under Blaine's, and Blaine's calves tighten at his waist. Kurt's grip comes strong above Blaine's elbows as he pulls Blaine's arms from their seeking embrace. Then his hands slide to pin Blaine's wrists above his head. It's entirely irresistible. "There," Kurt says and his heat comes near as he gradually puts more of his weight behind the hold of his hands, pressing Blaine down with his whole body. "Keep them there. Don't move."

"Kurt..." Blaine pleads. The immobility in his ass is maddening.

"Shh," Kurt says. "You don't need to talk either." There's the mildest hint of tentativeness there, as if Kurt's still resolving some uncertainty in this role.

So Blaine releases a voiceless sigh of surrender and nods: acceptance, encouragement, and invitation. He lets himself fall into his own old fantasy of compelled (but no less eager for the compulsion) obedience. Pretends, now, that he has no voice with which to speak, and no will to resist his lover's commands.

"All you need to do right now," Kurt voice draws even nearer, low and rough. "Is be still and take me."

Blaine nods again. His whole body says yes. Kurt's breath puffs warm across Blaine's lips. And that, more than Kurt's cock, holds Blaine's attention. Their mouths are so close; Blaine wants very much to say, "Go ahead." Except he can't. Instead he parts his lips to signal his receptivity.

But it's not Kurt's mouth he gets. Kurt's thumb drags over Blaine's bottom lip, and Blaine dares to slip his tongue tip out, to taste the salty dry pad of it.

The catch in Kurt's breath is audible, and he swears softly. He thumb passes again, slower and slick. Emboldened, Blaine strives to suck it between his lips. Kurt hums and lets Blaine have the tip of it. Blaine flicks and slides his tongue as if it were Kurt's cockhead.

"Oh..." Kurt exhales. He sounds fascinated.

Blaine moans and sucks harder, but keeps the rest of himself still. He will be a patient vessel.

"God," Kurt says, devastatingly sweet now. His hips bear his weight forward, curling Blaine's spine. "My gorgeous, greedy, perfect boy." And then Kurt pushes his thumb further in and presses Blaine's tongue down. His fingers curl under Blaine's chin and hold him that way. "You're so good for fucking." Kurt proceeds to do just that.

And Blaine very much is good for fucking, and he knows he is. He feels the truth of it in Kurt's heat, hears it in his breath, and savors it in the strength of Kurt's long, sure strokes. Kurt slips his thumb free of Blaine's mouth and sweeps the dampness across Blaine's hot cheek. It's absence leaves Blaine gasping and dry-throated. His fingers twitch, longing to reach back and pull closer. He aches to speak, but he does neither, for there's pride in the denial. When at last Kurt comes, beautifully and soundly, it's with relief in his shaking muscles and sweating skin.

But he doesn't stop. Kurt pushes deep once more, and holds hard and fast. It's no less demanding. His fist closes around Blaine's cock. "Come for me now," he growls as he tugs, a rough and rapid blur. Blaine sobs at the wrench of it, as if his orgasm were a physical thing Kurt might grasp and haul, by brute force, from the fibers of Blaine's body. He cries out, reedy and ragged, his ass gags on Kurt's cock, and his own spits hot and wet upon his belly and chest.

After, it's as though Blaine's ability to speak leaves him for good. He sinks into the bliss of his release as Kurt pulls out. He floats in the sweet succor Kurt gives him: his hands are mild now, rearranging Blaine's limbs back to comfort, cleaning him up, and rubbing along fatigued muscles. Then, back to his normal manner of voice, Kurt says, "Thank you, Blaine."

At those words, Blaine knows he should speak, should say something in exchange, to thank Kurt in kind. But he can't quite. His orgasm has stolen his strength and emotion clogs his throat. He does manage to smile, though.

For his part, Kurt plays along. He touches Blaine's temple, at the edge of the blindfold, and says, "Close your eyes and count to ten before you open them. Then you'll be free."

"One," Blaine exhales without sound beyond the airy rush of the vowel. Kurt lifts Blaine's head and undoes the knot, careful not to tangle or pull Blaine's hair.

"Two," Blaine says, hoarse but clear, and Kurt draws the fabric away from his face.

"Three," Blaine whispers through the catch in his voice, and Kurt's weight leaves the bed.

"Four," and Blaine's sheet settles light and cool over his naked body.

"Five," and by then Kurt's gone.

Blaine keeps counting, and at ten he opens his eyes.

Moonlight sifts through his curtain and casts satin silver highlights across his room; Kurt surely looked beautiful in it. Blaine rolls to his side and hugs his spare pillow like a teddy bear.

He wishes Kurt stayed longer, considers even getting up and crossing the hall--if only to say thank you. But then, that would fall outside the bounds of the fantasy. And that was, really, pretty amazing, for all the ways Kurt matched Blaine's old daydreams and for all the ways Kurt surprised him. He can still taste the salt of Kurt's thumb on his tongue. In the gloom Blaine grins and settles into the warmth of knowing Kurt cared enough to listen, cared enough to do it.

So what if the adolescent fantasy was marred by its inevitable resolving back into his reality of being alone? This isn't that: his bed may be empty, but he's not alone. Kurt sleeps in the next room, and Blaine will see him at breakfast. Tomorrow is Friday, and it will be a good day much like each day this past week has been.

Chapter Text

At 5:45AM Blaine's alarm hums from where his phone's tucked under his pillow. Blindly, he fumbles to silence it. For a long moment he lies unmoving in the dark with his eyes shut. The pull to sink back into sleep is a heavy one, but he has to get up. When he reaches to flick on his lamp, his lower back pangs and his limbs move stiffly. He squints at the unwelcome light and tamps down a groan as he sits up and plants his feet on the floor. The 6AM yoga class is going to help, and it's the one best suited to his schedule. He'll be back by breakfast, before Kurt needs him. This is a good way to start his day; god knows, his body needs it.

Robotically, he brushes his teeth and goes over his hair with a wet comb. Pulls on sweatpants, a tank top, and a light-weight hoodie to fend off the morning chill. In the kitchen he downs a glass of water from the tap, tucks a tiny pink B-12 tablet under his tongue, and, while it dissolves into saccharine nothing, stares out at the graying sky. Then he pockets his phone and keys, tucks his mat under his arm, and goes.

The quiet morning streets gleam beneath a light dew as the sun approaches the horizon. Streaky clouds grow ruddy against dawning blue. Blaine wakes as he walks. He warms and his muscles loosen, though it feels like he's carrying the whole week with him, a glorious span of new experiences and new friendship—and so much sex. That's the weight, but he remains eager to bear it. There's not a single moment with Kurt he regrets: not a touch, not a word, not a glance. And last night— The rhythm of his feet falters at the recollection. His breath comes out in a rush. The whole glossy smear of it, from the bathroom to his bedroom, sets a jitter in his blood and a delectable ache in his chest.

At the gym, he stows his keys, phone, and shoes in a locker, and finds the studio. The morning class is small and aimed at novice practitioners, which suits Blaine. He prefers the atmosphere and energy of new learners, and it's been a while since he came to a class.

The morning stretch starts slow and meditative, guided by the instructor’s patient voice. By the time it's over, some forty-five minutes later, Blaine's worked through every muscle group in his body in perfect symmetry. He's loose and light; his mind clear and centered.

On his way back, he stops at the Italian bakery just as they flip their sign to open. He'd thought to make some mini vegan cheesecakes for tonight, but he can't walk past the scents of the bakery's ovens venting onto the street. He picks up a plum torte for the potluck and a couple fresh cornetti for breakfast. He opts for the ones with cream piped between their layers. The extra calories don't seem like much of an indulgence, considering. The torte suits the theme of the potluck better anyway.

When he gets back to the apartment, Kurt's in the kitchen dropping a sliced banana into the blender. He flashes Blaine a smile, which broadens when Blaine hoists the box holding the cake and the paper bag of cornetti.

Kurt rinses his hands off and comes over to take them from him. "Oh, you're brilliant," Kurt says. "I never manage to get out the door early enough to get them this fresh. How was yoga?"

"Really good," Blaine says. "Small class, quiet. Very refreshing."

"I'm glad to hear it," Kurt says. "I was just throwing together a post-gym protein smoothie for you."

"Oh, thank you, Kurt," Blaine says. "Let me just go wash up first."

The whizz of the blender follows him down the hall.

He returns to find the corner of the dining table, where Kurt's cleared enough space, set for two. Six slices of wheat toast sit upright in Kurt's vintage toast rack. At Blaine's space is a mug of black coffee next to the smoothie—a surprisingly bright purple. A cornetti is centered on his plate with a fanned out strawberry as garnish. Near the dining table Kurt's dress form wears the basted mockup of Carole's cocktail dress. Kurt hasn't yet sat down yet; he's at the sink rinsing the blender. He asks Blaine, "Do you want eggs? Muesli?"

Blaine seats himself and tips a scant half-teaspoon of sugar into his coffee. "No thanks, the toast and this is fine."

"Cool," Kurt says and comes around to join Blaine.

Blaine considers the tidiest way to approach the cream filled pastry. Opts instead to try the smoothie first. It's nice, not too sweet. He says so.

"It's banana and blueberry," Kurt says. "I wasn't sure if you'd prefer berries or tropical fruit in a smoothie, so you get both. With yogurt and whey powder for the protein, which I figure you'll be needing, with all the demands I've been making on you."

"Ah," Blaine says and his face warms. He glances down at his plate, and his tongue tangles around his gratitude for Kurt's thoughtfulness, an insistence that his body, really, is doing just fine, and his need to express to Kurt how much he's enjoying those demands, specifically the most recent. He picks up his knife. "I, uh, about last night?" Blaine begins. He stares at his cornetti.

"Last night?" Kurt echoes. "Was it the sort of thing you wanted? Or was it... too much?"

In his periphery, Blaine sees Kurt's concerned frown. He makes himself meet it. "It wasn't too much. It was, um, amazing. That's what I wanted to say. You were... fantastic." Blaine fidgets with his knife, debating whether to reveal more detail or leave it simple. "Both times."

Kurt glances down to where he's picking apart his cornetti with his fingers; he sucks a dollop of cream off his thumb. "Thank you, so were you." And then he adds, "I do appreciate the feedback. I like to know what's working for you. Or not working. So, please, tell me if I'm too rough or say the wrong thing or, really do anything you don't like."

"I will, and you weren't," Blaine says, and finds he doesn't really want to break last night down into its components, not right now anyway. It would ruin the magic. "That was all perfect. I just hope it worked for you too?" Blaine sets down his knife and opts for Kurt's method with his pastry.

Kurt's lips quirk into asymmetry. "A lot of things work for me, Blaine," he says dryly.

"No, I mean..." Blaine bows his head again, grinning.

"I know what you mean. And yes, it did. Sex with you last night was like haute cuisine for a man who's had to rely too much on fast food and junk." The twist of Kurt's shoulders is definitely flirtatious. "I feel like I've been fine dining all week."

"That's, huh, very generous, I think?" Blaine says, flattered, though he's unsure how he feels being compared to a meal. "Thank you."

"I use a food metaphor not because I want to do anything kinky with food. Trust me, I don't. But because eating is a relatable metaphor for people who don't share my condition."

Blaine considers and nods. "Oh, yeah, I can see how that works."

"Which doesn't mean a person needs gourmet food all the time. Sometimes a granola bar as you're running out the door is all it takes. Sometimes you crave a healthy salad, other times a bit more decadence." He gestures at the mangled cornetti on his plate. "Sometimes fast food will do so long as you take time to find the best options on the menu. Other times you just get so hungry you end up making a meal of a bag of Doritos Late Night All Nighter Cheeseburger chips. Mostly you just want reliable, nourishing, and satisfying."

"Okay, that's awfully specific," Blaine says. "You realize you have to tell me what the Doritos stand for in this extended metaphor."

"Oh, god," Kurt says. "That would be the desperate rando Grindr hook ups. I don't like Doritos—I feel like garbage after eating them. Don't know if it's the pork enzymes or the artificial food dyes."

"Pork enzymes? Ew."

Kurt nods soberly. "I read an article about it."

"Well, then, we'll just need to keep you fed well enough you don't have to resort to regrettable junk food."

"Considering I deleted my Grindr profile last night, I'd say we're doing pretty well."

"Oh." Blaine blinks at his coffee and can't stop the pleased smile. He's responsible for that.

"I hope it wasn't premature? I know it hasn't technically been a full week until tomorrow afternoon."

"No, it's really not. I've been hoping— This week has been great for me, even if I haven't got much music written. I like being here for you."

Kurt gives Blaine a fond look. "I like having you here."

Blaine can't speak around the happiness that seizes in his throat.

"Um, so anyway," Kurt says. "Since I'm heading in early today, I was going to shower as soon as we're done with the literal food. Join me?"

It's becoming routine enough, it's sweet Kurt asks. "Of course," Blaine says.

##

A short time later, shower damp and in his bathrobe, Blaine sits on the edge of Kurt's bed. "Should I still make the mini cheesecakes for Rachel, do you think?"

Kurt stands in front of the mirror in his bedroom, chin up, with his fingers working nimbly at a second go wrangling his tie into an hourglass knot at his throat. It's an unforgiving knot, and Kurt said he's still learning it. He shrugs and says, "Only if you want to? I'd never say no to cheesecake, but Rachel will be fine. Sometimes she likes to cheat a little anyway, especially where dessert is concerned. Makes her feel rebellious. She'd be glad of an excuse." Kurt casts a look back toward Blaine. "So I wouldn't worry."

"No? Okay." Blaine covers a stifled yawn.

Kurt's mouth turns down. "Sorry," he says. "I know I've been disrupting your sleep. Maybe you could take the morning to nap?"

"I'm fine, really." Blaine flashes a smile for Kurt. "It's just the early start, and I stayed up too late reading. I'll get used to it."

"Well, I don't want you wearing yourself out." Kurt pulls a gray waistcoat on over his yellow shirt and turns back to the mirror as he does up the buttons. His tie—a bold pewter and gold paisley—looks great. Not many guys could pull off such an unusual tie knot, but on Kurt, it's spectacular.

"You look really nice," Blaine says.

"Thank you." Kurt twists to the side to check the line of his waistcoat as his fingers climb the button placket. The fit is trim and flattering. "I like to put on some extra polish for the morning staff meetings. I don't get to many of them."

Blaine stands and approaches Kurt from behind. Touches his shoulder and looks at his reflection. Kurt's fingers are quick on his clothes, fastening the last few tiny buttons, straightening and smoothing and checking for flaws. "Will you need something more before you go?"

"I'm good," Kurt says. He leans aside to rummage in a jewelry box on his dresser and plucks out a circular cloisonne brooch, considers it. "I have a friend at work who's kind enough to lend a hand if it becomes a problem."

"Oh..." Blaine removes his hand. The weight of his disappointment is a surprise. The idea shouldn't be unexpected. That Kurt has helpful friends is something he's been open about, so it's not shocking he has one at work. It's only--Blaine had hoped Kurt wouldn't need them now. The way he talked at breakfast, Blaine thought... Apparently Blaine thought wrong. "Right, yeah, of course."

Kurt turns to face Blaine and peers at him as he pins the brooch over his breast. "I trust that's okay? I know I explained—"

"This isn't necessarily exclusive, I remember." Blaine smiles and lifts his eyebrows, hopes it doesn't look forced. Maybe he needs to hear it though: this is about Kurt's trust.

"Okay," Kurt says. It's a little provisional—and mildly defensive. "I don't fuck around for the fun of it. You do get that, right?"

"Yes, I do understand, I'm sorry." Blaine also understands having a friend help Kurt out isn't the dire bag of Doritos option. He reaches to undo Kurt's pin. It depicts a little cluster of white blossoms against a black background, and it's pulled a pucker in the fabric. "I just... um." Want to be all you need, Blaine stops himself from saying; it's far, far too much. Too much to feel, and definitely too much to say. He smooths the wrinkle and repins the brooch. He revises the thought and raises his eyes. "I want to be sure I've done enough for you before you leave."

"You have." Kurt places his hand over Blaine's, and Blaine can feel Kurt's heartbeat beneath his palm, a little fast but steady. "And I'd rather make it home, but sometimes..." Kurt grimaces. It serves better than an unnecessary apology.

"You don't have to explain," Blaine says. "I'm glad you've got such good friends."

Kurt's smile returns and his hand falls away; he steps toward the door. "So I should be back around two?"

"I'll be here."

They say their farewells, Kurt hoists his satchel over his shoulder, and Blaine crosses the hall to get dressed. Maybe Sam's right: it's simply too much oxytocin that's got him feeling like he has some greater stake in Kurt's heart.

##

Blaine gets Kurt's text at ten minutes until two: "OMW. I'll need you when I get there." Blaine lets himself take a moment to feel both relief and anticipation. He covers the muffin pan in which he's got a dozen no-bake mini vegan cheesecakes ready to set in the freezer. Once they're in, he washes his hands, strips off his shirt, and grabs a sturdy cushion. He kneels on it near the door so he'll be the first thing Kurt sees.

The door opens, and Kurt pulls up short. "Blaine?" His eyes grow wide and he flushes. "Oh, you're..." He lets his satchel slide off his shoulder.

Blaine rises up and pushes Kurt's hips back against the door until it snaps closed. He shuffles to follow and plucks at Kurt's belt buckle. Kurt's keys fall from his hand and clash upon the floor. "I said I'd be here," Blaine says, and then he swallows Kurt's cock with an eager moan.

Whatever reply Kurt might've made is lost to breath.

Blaine sets to work, sucking long and hard, up and down, mustering as much speed and energy as he can; he's still learning what gets Kurt off fastest. With his mouth, he tries to mimic the way Kurt fucks him after Blaine's come and Kurt's focused on reaching his own climax.

"Jesus fucking cricket," Kurt says. His head thunks against the door and his hand cups the back of Blaine's skull. But soon, his fingers twitch and then grasp, breaking the hold of Blaine's product and squeezing through his hair. It's a dull, good pain, like deep muscle massage, and it feels wonderfully covetous. Blaine hums his appreciation.

"Fuck that's good," Kurt whispers. "Blaine." He hunches over as he comes, and his grip twists tight in Blaine's hair. It leaves Blaine's vision blurry.

Blaine needs a moment to compose himself before he looks up. Kurt's eyes are closed and his mouth hangs slack. Blaine tucks Kurt's softening cock back into his fly, and Kurt's eyes open. He shuts his mouth, swallows, and looks entirely too serious.

"Jesus fucking cricket?" Blaine says. "Really?"

Kurt covers his face with his hands and cracks up.

After that, they soon turn to the business of preparing for their friends' arrival. Kurt changes and gets started on making a moussaka, littering the counter with shiny eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, tightly capped brown mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. When Blaine offers to help, Kurt accepts. "Would you prefer vegetable prep or béchamel sauce making?"

"I'd like to try the vegan béchamel," Blaine says. It would add to his repertoire.

"It's pretty forgiving," Kurt says. "If you can make a classic béchamel you'll be fine."

And so Kurt picks up his knife, and Blaine peruses the recipe before he gets his ingredients out. Looks basically the same as the standard, but for minor substitutions. He and Kurt make easy conversation over the incidental and quotidian details of their days. Kurt bemoans a delay on an article due to a high maintenance photographer, and Blaine tells him about some progress he made that morning on a short piece for his music portfolio. It's comfortable enough, Blaine makes a decision that, once made, seems an obvious thing.

"Your mention of fine dining this morning reminded me—in an entirely literal way—could I ask a favor?"

"Hm? What sort?"

"My parents are coming to the city for their 35th wedding anniversary to see a matinee show and have a fancy romantic dinner after. They asked me to help find a restaurant. My mom actually wanted to go to Tavern on the Green—"

"Which closed years ago. Though they're going to reopen it as a restaurant."

"I know, so, she told me she'll pay for me to go to a couple fancy restaurants and scope them out for their suitability for their anniversary dinner."

"Nice work if you can get it," Kurt says.

"I hoped you might be able to recommend somewhere?"

"I'll ask Isabelle, my boss. She knows everyone who's anyone in this city, I swear." Kurt says. "Reservation in your name, I presume?"

"For two," Blaine says. "I'm meant to take a friend." A pause of hesitation. He could ask Sam, but he expects Kurt would appreciate the food more. "You want to come with?"

Kurt's knife stills. "Me?"

"You're helping me out, so it only seems fair."

"Well then, who am I to turn down a free dinner at a four star restaurant?"

They get the moussaka in the oven with plenty of time to spare, and once the kitchen's tidied, Kurt hauls a vacuum cleaner and a broom from the hall closet and presents them to Blaine. "I'll take care of the bathroom if you can go over the floors out here?"

So Blaine docks his iPod into Kurt's stereo, puts on his old playlist of songs The Warblers covered. From halfway down the hall Kurt yells, "Is that Katy Perry? God, the nostalgia." Blaine laughs and sets to clearing the furniture off the rug. He sings along as he works, stepping through lazy renditions of the choreography he'll likely never forget as he maneuvers the vacuum over the rug, and then the broom around the wood floors.

He's moved on to dusting the shelves by the TV when Kurt comes out, barefoot, in a water spattered faded t-shirt and athletic shorts (his cleaning ensemble, he explains). He carries a steam mop with him for the kitchen's tile floor. He gives Blaine a little wave after he plugs it in and shimmies along to the music. It's an odd combination of sexy and dorky, especially when he adds some over dramatic jazz hands.

But Blaine nearly falters in his singing when Neon Trees' "Animal" comes on, even though this playlist predates his knowing Kurt even existed. He doesn't want to be weird, so he turns back to the shelf, picks up a palm-sized iron raven figure to wipe down, and keeps singing, albeit more softly:

"Here we go again
I kinda wanna be more than friends
So take it easy on me
I'm afraid you're never satisfied"

Singing this song doesn't have to mean anything; his life is not a musical. But then, Kurt's voice joins his, light and clear, providing a rising harmony, and it almost feels like it must be.

"Here we go again
We're sick like animals
We play pretend"

Delighted and surprised, Blaine turns, and finds Kurt making the most of his steam mop as an impromptu dance partner. It's the first time Blaine's heard him sing, and it's beautiful.

"You're just a cannibal
And I'm afraid I won't get out alive
No, I won't sleep tonight"

It seems the peculiarly specific relevance of the song isn't entirely lost on Kurt, but his approach is humor. His dancing becomes increasingly comical, with him miming a snarling, clawing cat, obscenely swiveling his hips, and making some high kicks to rival a Rockette.

Which all results in Blaine laughing too much to hold enough breath to keep singing. Particularly when Kurt lewdly humps the back of a chair. He notices Blaine's amusement and shimmies over, beckoning, with arched brow and cocked finger, for Blaine to join him. "Oh oh, I want some more," Kurt sings. He snags Blaine's waistband and tugs him near.

"Do you now?" Blaine asks. He tosses the dust cloth toward the shelf.

"Oh oh, What are you waiting for?" Kurt nods and sways close. The transition from comedic to sultry is swift. Kurt rubs the heel of his hand down the line of Blaine's fly. He stops singing and says, "We have thirty minutes before anyone arrives. Come fuck me, please? Nice and quick... and just a... just a little dirty?"

"Just a little?" Blaine drags a fingertip down the side of Kurt's neck and watches him shiver as he nods again. Then he lets Kurt drag him toward his bedroom by his belt loops.

##

After the sex, they're cleaning up in the bathroom together. Blaine's rinsing semen out of his shirt and Kurt's inspecting the side of his neck and the vivid hickey Blaine gave him.

"I'm so sorry about that," Blaine says. But he's not wholly sure he is sorry. When Kurt fell to his back and pulled Blaine down over him, it brought them close in a new way, as if something in the song had in fact worked some magic. Finding himself so close to Kurt's crooked grin and darkening eyes, with Kurt's hands so urgent on his body, guiding him inside with little prep beyond lube, kissing Kurt would've been the most natural thing. Instead Blaine buried his face against Kurt's neck and kissed him there, where it made Kurt quiver. He nipped and sucked as he fucked, and that—the sucking—that really worked. Kurt came ferociously hard and helplessly sudden. And that, in turn, really worked for Blaine.

Kurt shrugs, one shouldered, and grins at Blaine in the mirror. "That orgasm was totally worth it."

Blaine's gratified to hear it; Kurt grabs a tube of concealer.

"Anyway," Kurt says as he dabs the stuff on his skin and purses his lips. One layer won't be up to the task. "This makes me feel all high schoolish again, like I'm getting away with something. It's fun."

"Yeah, I remember hiding my first hickey from my mother. It felt like such an accomplishment, just having it. Part of me wanted to show it off, but... well, not to my mom."

The doorbell rings. Someone's early.

"Dang," Kurt says. Looks at Blaine, who's still shirtless. "I'll get it."

##

It's Dani who's there when Blaine comes out. Her hair was blonde last week; today it's teal blue and pulled into a pair of braids. Kurt spots Blaine and makes a show of relief. "And now I'm going to go get a scarf."

He brushes past Blaine to go to his room.

Dani laughs—affectionately. "He's pretty proud of that love bite," she says by way of greeting.

"Ah," Blaine says. He counts the number of deli containers Dani's produced from her canvas bag and goes to the cupboard to get some serving dishes.

"He's not usually. Just so you know." From her shoulder bag, Dani produces a tall bottle of ouzo. Sets it on the island with a clunk and then sidles past Blaine to grab three highball glasses.

"Hmm?"

"He hates it if a guy he hooks up with leaves marks on him."

"Oh." Blaine frowns. He fans out the gray linen napkins next to the stack of salad plates. Is he being corrected? "Okay."

Dani cracks the top on the ouzo and pours generously into the bottom of each glass. "Get me some water from the fridge, please, babe?"

"Of course." Blaine snags a couple blue bottles and slides them across the island toward Dani.

She tops up each glass with the chilled water. "But you're not a hook up, is why I mention it. That's the point, right? I like to see him smiling like that."

Ah, all right. "Me too."

"And you?" Her grin turns sly as she pushes a glass of ouzo and water into Blaine's hand. "You look well."

"Thank you?"

"Glad to see you're holding up."

At that Blaine's cheeks heat. "Um, yes, of course." He looks toward the hall to see if Kurt's on his way back yet. How long does it take to put on a scarf?

"Blaine, relax," she says. "I'm just messing with you, but I've known Kurt for a while now. I love that boy like a brother, but I know how he can be. So I'm glad you're doing okay."

"Yeah," Blaine says and he considers the cloudy mix of water and ouzo. "I'm fine, it's been good so far—intense but good."

"Awesome." She tinks her glass against Blaine's and then lifts it in a toast. "To intense but good."

Blaine laughs and answers with a raise of his own. "I'll drink to that." The anise flavor is sweet in the cool water, but the alcohol is warm going down. It's strong stuff.

"Now, let's get this all onto plates."

Dani's brought a bunch of meze from her favorite Greek deli: a couple salads and enormous white beans in tomato sauce, hummus, a lentil-based variation on the traditional lamb balls, bite-sized spanikopita, olives, stuffed grape leaves, and small red and yellow peppers filled with goat cheese—and enough pita bread (still warm) to go with all of it.

"This is a lot of food," Blaine says.

Danie drizzles olive oil over the hummus she's artfully swirled into a spiral. "Oh yeah, I'm planning on taking leftovers home with me."

"Fair enough." Blaine looks for a small bowl to set by the olives to collect pits.

Dani makes up a plate with a little bit of everything and sets it between them. "You have to eat when you drink ouzo," she says. "Kurt says you're from Ohio too?"

Turns out Dani is from Kansas. They chat in the kitchen about music and being gay and escaping small town USA. "How are your folks with it?" she asks him.

"They're okay," Blaine says. "Okay with the abstract idea at least? They've made it pretty clear they don't really want to have to see it though, you know?"

"Yeah. That sucks," she says. "Mine? They kicked me out after they caught me making out with a girl. Just like that. No conversation, just get out. I grabbed my guitar and got a ride to the Greyhound station. Came straight here, to the city. Like a dream. I never looked back."

"That's awful. I'm sorry," Blaine says. As strained as things can be with his parents, they've always had his back. He never feared being kicked out or disowned. When his parents come, maybe he can tell them he's grateful for that. Maybe it would help. "But I'm glad you're here now—you seem okay."

"Oh yeah, life is sweet. But I'm not gonna lie, it's been tough at times. New York can be a bitch, but I was lucky. I met some good people early on, and coming here's the best decision I ever made for myself."

In the not uncomfortable silence that follows, Dani pours them each another glass of ouzo. The first one went down pretty easily—and fast. Blaine's already feeling fuzzy at the edges. Kurt comes back, wearing a completely different outfit: slim black painted jeans and a gray boatneck tee with sleeves so snug it looks like he'd tear seams if he flexed. Around his neck he's got a black kerchief neatly folded and tightly knotted. He takes the glass Dani hands him.

Maybe it's the vague ouzo haze, but the black band circling Kurt's throat only serves to draw Blaine's fascination: the contrast with Kurt's pale skin, the break in the lines of the tendons stretching from below his ears to the expanse of his exposed collarbones, the bob of his larynx as he swallows. Blaine's caught staring. Kurt winks at him over the rim of his glass and tilts his chin as if to improve the angle for Blaine's viewing.

"Oh," Dani says, looking between them and pointing a finger at them each. "Did I interrupt sex? Do you guys need to finish something?"

"No," Kurt says at the same time there's a knock at the door.

Blaine takes the obvious out: "I'll get that."

It's Elliott and Rachel. Elliott bears a hefty Webster's unabridged dictionary with a tagine balanced atop. Rachel carries flowers and a square insulated bag.

"We went with North African food," she says. "So we have a Moroccan tagine, Egyptian kushari, some brik from Tunisia—with tofu and pine nuts instead of egg—and Libyan date filled cookies. I made the cookies."

"I made the rest," Elliott says. Rachel pouts, and Elliott adds, "With Rachel's help."

"Elliott's teaching me to cook," Rachel says to Blaine. She hands Blaine her bag, which he sets on the counter, and then she goes to retrieve a trumpet-shaped Deco vase from under the kitchen sink for the flowers she brought—a simple bouquet of Siberia lilies—and gets the kitchen shears from a drawer.

Kurt takes the tagine from Elliott and brings it to the stove. Sets it on a cool burner while he sets the oven to preheat "Thirty minutes?"

"Yep, thanks." Elliott sets the dictionary on the steamer trunk and accepts a glass and plate from Dani. Rachel declines a drink as she turns to unpacking her food.

Elliott swaps Blaine's iPod for his own. "I threw together a sort of Mediterranean themed playlist—well, as close as I could get with what I had." It starts with Édith Piaf singing "Non, je ne regrette rien."

Sam turns up next with a massive tray of lasagna, a box of cannoli, and his guitar strapped over his back. "None of this is vegan," he says. "Sorry."

Shortly after that, Mercedes brings a bottle of Spanish wine and paella. "Hey, Sam," she says with a demure little sparkle. Sam sparkles right back.

Meanwhile, Dani produces another bottle of ouzo, though the first one's not quite empty.

"Kurt," Mercedes says, "You were right about the paella, my first one burned. This is less authentic, but it's good so..." She shrugs and sets it on the stove next to the tagine. "I found those fake shrimp you love, Rachel."

The kitchen's getting crowded, so Blaine takes Rachel's flowers to the console table near the door so their fragrance doesn't interfere with the food.

Artie rolls in last with a six pack of Egyptian beer, a jar of olives, and a bag of pita chips. "Sorry guys, ran out of time. But I brought To Catch a Thief which was filmed on the French Riviera."

Then it's a flurry of activity while Kurt and Sam move chairs, and Mercedes grabs condiments from the pantry. Crowded around the island, everyone serves themselves meze and drinks while the other food reheats. Dani pours Blaine more ouzo while Kurt passes him a glass of Chianti. He stares at the two glasses, all the food, and the people around. He absorbs the music, the ebb and flow of conversation, and the anticipation of games and movies yet to come. He leans against Sam's shoulder and shares his happiness via a smile that feels wide and easy and good.

Sam smiles back. "You okay, man?" Sam's voice is low, his words only for Blaine.

"Hmmm?" Blaine asks, rebalancing himself upon his stool.

"You look a little glassy."

"This is my third glass of ouzo, thanks to Dani, who keeps topping me up," he says. "And I probably don't need this." He nudges the wineglass by his plate. "But I'm great, a little buzzy and loose, you know?"

"Uh oh," Sam says. "Be careful."

A glance over at Kurt, who's chatting animatedly with Rachel, warms Blaine even more than the alcohol. "Not actually a problem here."

Sam laughs.

Later, after dinner, but with the dishes still cluttering the counters, Kurt sits with Elliott's dictionary spread across his thighs as he flips through it. After less than a minute he places his finger on a page and says, "Okay, the word is sacque. That's s-a-c-q-u-e." They're playing the dictionary game—it's the older, free, DIY version of Balderdash, and it's the third round.

Everyone sets to thinking up and scribbling down their own definitions for the word, while Blaine lags a moment to just look at Kurt, much as he's been doing on and off all evening. It's a mystery how Kurt can make reading and spelling a word so alluring. Kurt looks up from where he's bent over his paper, copying the correct definition out of the dictionary, and Blaine's caught again. But Kurt smiles at him broadly before he turns back to writing. Blaine soon becomes fascinated by the bounce of Kurt's hair and the coppery shine of it under the floor lamp's glow.

"Right," Blaine says to himself. He needs to stop staring like a lovesick teenager. He writes the word sacque on his scrap of paper. Has to close one eye to steady his vision. He prints slowly and carefully to keep his handwriting legible. Now some kind of plausible definition. That's the goal: convince others to choose your definition over the correct one and then discern the correct one for yourself. He hasn't managed to score yet, but then, he is on his fourth (or fifth?) drink. Probably not a good sign that he's lost count, but Dani's been refilling his glass before it's empty, so it's been hard to keep track. It's like she's been trying to get him drunk.

Anyway, a definition. He needs a definition. Something with some specificity might work best. He thinks a moment longer—realizes Kurt's waiting on his paper—and writes, a little messily, a small, typically rosewood spoon for serving cracked peppercorns. He folds the paper and passes it to Kurt, who gives him a quizzical tick of an eyebrow before shuffling Blaine's definition in with the others.

Kurt takes a moment to scan them all silently—winces and bites back pained laughter at one—shuffles again, and then reads the definitions out loud.

For the most part, they're plausible sounding, bar two. The worst of which has Kurt clearing his throat and fighting to keep the strain from his voice. "French slang for, uh." Kurt breaks off, presses his lips tightly together, and frowns. He rallies and starts over: "French slang for scrotum?"

The room descends into groans and laughter and Artie declaring, "For the record, that one is not mine."

The last one Kurt reads is Blaine's, and he does his best to maintain his best poker face. Worries now that he's overdone the details and won't fool anyone into picking his. Kurt goes over the definitions a second time, glares at Artie when he asks Kurt to read 'that French one' just one more time, and then they go around the room to vote.

Blaine ends up with two points for having his definition chosen, but Kurt announces, "Well, none of you guessed the right one, which was a loose fitting coat, jacket, or cape. Congrats to Mercedes for getting the most votes, and thank you, Dani dearest, so very much, for making me read the word scrotum with a straight face." He screws up her bit of paper and throws it at her. She shrieks with laughter and bats it toward Elliott, and the dictionary passes to Rachel.

The game ends in a three-way tie among Elliott, Mercedes, and Artie. Kurt gets up to make some decaf coffee and set out dessert while Dani packs up dinner's leftovers and Elliott clears the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Watching Artie set up the BluRay player and TV to play the film, Blaine sort of drowsily nestles into the corner of the sofa. Artie mutes the TV as it loops through its starting menu and then rolls about to adjust the lighting in the loft.

Probably he should get up and help with something, Blaine thinks, so he does.

Kurt's now in the dining room showing Mercedes the mock up and Blaine helps Elliott with the dishes. He's moved on to washing the tagine, so Blaine collects the rest of the emptied serving dishes and Mercede's paella pan by the sink. Dani packs rubbermaid containers into the fridge and takes her bag with her own leftovers to rest by the door. While Blaine dries whatever Elliott passes him he watches Kurt and Mercedes. Mostly he watches Kurt, whose passion for his project is evident and gorgeous. Lacking filter, Blaine ends up saying out loud to himself, "God, he's beautiful."

Elliott glances over and replies with, "Yeah. He is."

Meanwhile Sam starts fiddling with his guitar and lands on singing "Human Nature," which charms the hell out of Mercedes, who promptly abandons Kurt in the dining room to go sit in the living room. The song soon turns into a Michael Jackson medley sing-a-long. Rachel intercepts Kurt and drags him back into the dining room corner to chat. Kurt ends up opening a window high enough they can climb out to the fire escape.

Seeing them going outside for a private conversation, that kind of makes Blaine wonder about things, like what Kurt's talking about with Rachel—which is, from what he's gleaned about Rachel, probably Rachel—but there's part of him that wonders if it's maybe about him, because Dani won't be the only one in Kurt's corner who's interested to know how this has all been going for Kurt. And, huh, if Elliott agrees that Kurt's hot, and Elliott is, himself, pretty damned hot, then... Blaine's booze-emboldened just enough to ask Elliott, "You and Kurt? I mean, are you one of his helpful friends?"

"Nope," Elliott says. "It was one of our band rules. No sex or romance. He didn't want us to pull an ABBA or a Fleetwood Mac."

"Right," Blaine says.

"You have to understand how grand our hopes were for One Three Hill at the start. Even though, in the end, we didn't really last much beyond a year—for reasons no more complicated than other demands on our time. But by then, that rule had become something important for both of us to honor as friends."

"Ah."

"I offered. Once. When I believed it would get him through a rough time, but he's..."

"Stubborn?"

"Proud," Elliott says. "And also, fiercely committed to preserving an inviolable space within our friendship. I appreciate and respect that a lot."

"That—yeah, that's a really great thing to have with someone." Blaine considers Sam and how important and safe their relationship has been for him. Even—and especially—when he was half in love with Sam. There was a night Sam asked if he wanted to kiss him, because Sam was curious and in a weird place of vulnerability between the end of one terrible relationship and a confusing nonstarter of another, and his modelling career had stalled. Blaine suspected Sam was just looking for some validation, but Blaine feared the resulting confusion; he's never regretted saying no.

"I wouldn't trade what we've got for anything," Elliott says. "Even though, sometimes, I think it'd be easier on him if he didn't feel like he had to keep proving to everyone how strong he is."

"Everyone needs a safe place to be weak." Blaine agrees.

Elliott gives him a look, like he's taking his first good look at Blaine, and he smiles. "Exactly."

##

The apartment is dark and they're about half an hour into watching the movie when movement catches Blaine's attention. It's Rachel, returned from the fire escape. She's got a plate with a slice of plum torte, a mini cheesecake, and half a cannoli. Dani scoots over to make room for Rachel to sit beside her on the floor amongst a cozy nest of pillows. Blaine looks back to see if Kurt's followed Rachel in. Sees Kurt in the kitchen, quietly tidying things by the amber illumination of the under-cabinet lights.

Blaine watches him for a little while, transfixed by the highlights and shadows upon Kurt's jaw, cheek, and brow; and the way Kurt concentrates on what he's doing—and doing it slowly, like a meditation. Blaine's seen the film before. The draw to go to Kurt is strong.

If Kurt's not come over to sit, then maybe he's not in a state to rest. It's when he starts needing relief that he's least able to be idle. It was about this time last Friday that Kurt asked for Blaine's help. So Blaine slips out from under the casual drape of Sam's arm and heads over. His vision and balance are a little out of sync at first, but it's not enough to impair him. His mind, at least, feels clear even if the rest of him's still a little floaty and buzzy.

Kurt glances up at him with a quick smile. And, yeah, Blaine's not wrong. He recognizes that smile.

"Hey," Blaine says softly. He gets himself water from the fridge.

"Hi," Kurt says. He's handwashing dishes that could easily wait to go into the dishwasher.

Blaine keeps watching Kurt as he uncaps the bottle and takes a long drink. Kurt watches him right back. "I wanted to tell you how hot you look tonight," Blaine says.

Kurt sets down the bowl he's drying. His smile kinks and his eyes gleam like molten glass. "I've noticed you staring."

"Yeah," Blaine says. It's the sort of frank observation that might normally make him stammer in embarrassment or apologize, but Kurt seems, if anything, pleased. "You make a very compelling spectacle," he adds. He sets the bottle down and moves closer, puts his hand at the small of Kurt's back.

Kurt's body heat is vivid and the fabric humid. His spine curves into Blaine's touch as Kurt turns to fully face him. "Good," he says.

Over in the living room, the volume of the film is more than loud enough to cover their conversation, and no one's attention is anywhere but the screen.

"Looking at you makes me want to touch you." Blaine runs his hand up to Kurt's shoulder blade and brings his other hand to Kurt's collarbones, drawing a line along to the dip in between, glazing Kurt's skin with the damp remnants of condensation from Blaine's water bottle.

"Just touch?" Kurt's voice is a little high and faint; his eyelashes shiver and his blink comes slow.

Blaine lets his fingers stray to the kerchief knotted at Kurt's throat, where he's been aching to touch all night. He curls his fingers under the fabric to draw it down and reveal the bruise he made. "It's a place to start," Blaine says.

"And then?"

"Then..." Blaine cocks his head and pushes his fingertips up the line of Kurt's throat until his fingertips brush the hollow below his ear. Kurt's lips part and he shudders. "I'd like to take the time to find all the places that make you quiver like this."

"Blaine..."

"Not to tease," Blaine says. "I wouldn't tease you, Kurt. I'd make you come. I'd make you come as much as you need—as much as you want, until you tell me to stop, but I—" Blaine drops his hand to Kurt's groin, presses and circles his palm firmly over Kurt's erection.

"Oooh," Kurt sighs, and he sags into Blaine's embrace. "You...?"

Blaine checks again that they've not acquired an audience and then leans near to speak softly and clearly into Kurt's ear. "God, I want to savor you."

Kurt utters a shocked little sound, and his hips jerk against Blaine's hand.

Encouraged, Blaine touches his lips to Kurt's earlobe, whispers, "Have I told you how much I love sucking your cock?"

A barely audible drawn out moan from Kurt then. He grinds hard against Blaine's palm and Blaine rubs faster, rough friction. Kurt's breath rasps beneath Blaine's lips.

"I could do it right now, right here. No one would see. No one would know. I'd be so quiet and good for you."

Kurt stiffens and shudders and makes a muffled, strangled noise deep in his throat. Blaine feels the pulse of him coming. Which wasn't exactly Blaine's aim, but it's still gratifying. He's amazed as he pulls back to see Kurt's face, wants to be sure this is okay.

And they are still, blessedly, completely ignored.

"Are you—?"

"Bedroom," Kurt growls. His grip is tight around Blaine's wrist.

##

Kurt locks the door behind them. "You can't just say things like that," he says. It's half laughter, and the rest fractured, unrelieved arousal. He hauls off his t-shirt, leans back against the wall, and yanks his belt open.

"Well, I wasn't just saying anything," Blaine counters. He moves in close and unbuttons Kurt's pants. "I fully intend to put my mouth where my... wait." Blaine frowns. "How does that one go again?"

Kurt laughs. "How drunk are you?"

"Not very anymore. Not too drunk to blow your whistle." Blaine lowers himself to his knees and opens Kurt's fly.

"No no no, don't call it that, I hate that song."

"Me too," Blaine says. The damage seems contained to Kurt's underwear. He shimmies Kurt's jeans down and coaxes Kurt to lift one foot at a time so Blaine can pull off his shoes and the legs of his jeans. He sets them aside and then peels Kurt's soiled underwear away, taking care not to smear his thighs with semen as he draws them down. Kurt's cock and balls shine wet.

"Oh my god, that feels so gross," Kurt complains as he steps out of his underpants.

"Sorry," Blaine says. He uses the dry part of Kurt's briefs to dab at the edges of the mess.

"It's okay, yet another retread of adolescence—coming in my pants like I'm fifteen, geez."

"I don't know," Blaine says. He kisses, open mouthed, the tender skin of Kurt's groin at the juncture of pelvis and thigh. He sweeps his tongue to collect a smear of semen and takes hold of Kurt's erection with his hand, pinching over the slippery tip of it as he jerks even and loose. Swallows and says, "It was pretty hot."

Kurt's huff of laughter quickly turns to a relieved moan. Blaine scoots his knees apart and sinks a little lower, angles his head to get at Kurt's balls with his mouth. He sucks them softly and keeps the pull up Kurt's length steady. It's only a little awkward.

"Ugh," Kurt says, or some syllable closely approximating it. But it's an encouraging sort of sound, and Kurt parts his thighs and cants his hips. So Blaine opens more widely, sucks one of Kurt's testicles into his mouth and hums around it. Uses his tongue to maneuver the other in as well, and then his mouth is full and his head's swimming with Kurt's taste and smell: sex and sweat and semen. "Blaine... god. I'm gonna... oh god—"

Blaine hums again and speeds his hand. Feels Kurt's balls lift and spasm in his mouth, and he presses his face up as Kurt comes over his hand. But Kurt's breathing still has a frantic edge to it, so Blaine lets Kurt's balls slip from his mouth and kneels up, licks up the salty length of Kurt's cock, and swiftly sucks the crown into his mouth. He keeps moving his hand, heedless of the mess of it. He's got Kurt's come all over his chin and cheeks and fingers. It's filthy and wonderful.

"Fuck," Kurt says. And then his hand is a querying weight at the back of Blaine's head. "Would you... take it deeper? Please?"

Blaine pulls off long enough to offer a raspy, "Yeah," and then he goes down again. He opens his throat and edges down carefully until Kurt's cock has nudged past his soft palate and he's managed not to flinch. He takes the rest with more confidence until there's no more to take and his breath stops. He inhales as he draws back, and then he sinks back down and swallows around Kurt.

"That's it, honey," Kurt whispers. With both hands, he holds Blaine's head to guide the length of his strokes and his speed. As Blaine adapts to Kurt's suggested rhythm, Kurt begins to rock his hips, meeting Blaine and gradually adding force to each thrust.

But Kurt never tips over into being rough, not while he's doing this. He doesn't push too far, is mindful not to choke Blaine or make him gag. And it's that consideration that lets Blaine relax even more, until the driving pump of Kurt's hips and the deep drag of his cock become trance-like, and Kurt's doing all of the moving. Blaine closes his eyes, focuses on staying pliant and receptive. He takes it and takes it and takes it—feels like he could take this for hours.

But Kurt doesn't need hours to come again, and he does—more quietly this time, with more resolution in the deep sigh he exhales at the finish. He slows and stills and withdraws from Blaine's mouth. His hands, gently cradling Blaine's head between them, let go. Without that support, Blaine bends his neck, looks down, and breathes. Realizes, almost abstractly, that his own erection has faded. He just stopped caring about it while he was focused on Kurt.

Kurt slides down to the floor and stretches his legs out on either side of Blaine. Then he reaches for him, two fingertips under his chin to tip Blaine's face up. "Hey? Are you okay?"

"Yes." Blaine blinks the excess moisture from his eyes. He rubs his lips together to restore a sense of mobility, but can tell his attempted smile wobbles anyway. Tells himself he needs to stand up, wipe his face, straighten his clothes. Help Kurt clean up...

But he can't quite. He's caught by an unfamiliar softness to Kurt's expression: a looseness at his jaw, a roundness to his eyes and cheeks—an innocent openness. It reveals, deep in his gaze, the tenderest compassion.

"Come here," Kurt says softly, and he draws Blaine near, pulls him against his chest, wraps his arms securely around Blaine's shoulders, and holds him.

Chapter Text

Too damned bright. Blaine pinches his eyes shut and rolls away from the glare behind his eyelids. With movement, agony swoops through his head, as if his brain's gone spinning in the opposite direction of his skull. His pained groan is less than a whimper, for his tongue has cleaved to the roof of his mouth. Even the texture of his sheet is harsh and heavy on his body. His blood is a too strong throb in his chest and behind his eyes. Blaine tries to swallow the cotton wool feeling in his mouth and then opens his mouth to breathe more deeply. After a moment, he dares to unglue his eyelids a sliver. Winces through the stab of pain that follows.

He's overslept, that much the light in his room tells. The rest of him confirms a hellacious hangover. His mouth is sticky sour in that way alcohol leaves it, no matter how thoroughly he brushes his teeth or how much water he drinks the night before. He's desperately thirsty. Carefully, Blaine rolls back toward the window's light and his nightstand, hoping—ah, yes—to find a glass of water. Half-full. He props himself up and reaches for it, takes a long, sweet sip, and feels at least one percent better for it. Last night, how badly did he overdo it?

The memories are a jumble: present, but arranged like a freshly dropped pile of pick-up sticks. Carefully, he concentrates to extract one. It's still bleary—not a crisp recollection. Reminds him of sitting in the Dalton chapel, watching, through lumpy leaded glass panes, the distorted motion of students walking past in the quad. It was one place on campus Sebastian wouldn't look for him—a sanctuary for quiet thought, to consider what he was doing. Nothing wise back then, though it had seemed right and important at the time.

But Blaine doesn't need that memory welling up. The present is what matters. He tries to focus again—and to sit up. This time, his attempted motion prompts a sickening twist of his stomach and a flutter of anxiety. And a question. Did Kurt come to him last night? Blaine's in his pajamas, which indicates perhaps not? Or he didn't wake. Or— Surely he didn't black out. He remembers enough to know he wasn't that drunk at any point. Blaine relaxes against his pillow. Thinks.

Start at the beginning. Everyone arriving, Dani pouring ouzo for all, then dinner, games, dessert, movie. Kurt looking so beautiful. Approaching Kurt in the kitchen—that part of the night is vivid and flush with the heady trace of his desire and fascination. His recollection brims with flashbulb bright details: Kurt's taste and scent and voice and hands. The tenderness in Kurt's eyes, the gentleness of his touch. Kurt holding him, after, as if they both might break if he didn't.

And now, Blaine's clock reads just after ten in the morning. He grits his teeth and sits up, tries to retrace the evening after that. Remembers Kurt held him until Blaine chose to withdraw. Remembers being the one to surreptitiously venture down the hall to the bathroom to clean his face and hands and bring back a warm soapy washcloth for Kurt. They didn't speak much then. Blaine watched Kurt retreat back into himself as he dressed, his gaze everywhere but on Blaine's face. Blaine couldn't summon the courage to ask the simplest question: Are you okay? The same question Kurt had asked him.

"We should get back out there," Kurt finally said, with a lopsided smile.

The movie was wrapping up and soon after, Mercedes left with Dani and a promise to meet Sam for brunch on Sunday after church. Artie struck up a conversation with Blaine about the short film he's working on over the summer. Working title: The Hungry Ghost. Blaine frowns and dredges up Artie's description: a white Christian conservative woman failing to find peace in the afterlife and having to revisit the sundry victims of her sanctimonious bigotry to understand her sins. "Very political," Artie said. "Obviously."

Blaine recalls he said something about the people who would most benefit from a story like that wouldn't watch it, to which Artie replied, "You never know. I just want it to exist, right?" He also recalls telling Artie he'd send him samples of his work, including the short piece he wrote for Artie's dog film.

"Silence was the point with that one," Artie said. "So people would have to engage with their own emotions, not be manipulated by a soundtrack."

"Yeah, sure, I get that," Blaine agreed. "But it inspired me."

"Cool, cool." Artie at least seemed pleased at being a source of inspiration.

Then, there's a light rap on his closed bedroom door. "Yeah?" Blaine says.

Kurt opens the door wide enough to peek around it; he speaks softly, "I thought I heard a miserable groan." His smile is tentative and sympathetic. "Hi?"

Returning Kurt's smile is easy. "Hi," Blaine replies. "Come in."

In Kurt's hand is a tall glass of thick red juice, garnished with a sprig of watercress. "V8 juice with a dash of Tabasco." He explains. "The closest I could get to a virgin Bloody Mary. It should help."

The offer tweaks anticipation in Blaine's mouth, and his stomach's queasy hollowness agrees. "Thank you." Blaine says. He straightens and drags his fingers through his hair. Then he takes the glass from Kurt. Holds it with both hands and braces himself to drink it. Notices Kurt's dressed already in classic Levi's 501 jeans and a clinging black Vogue t-shirt. Classic red paisley bandanna around his neck. His hair, though, is unwashed, but brushed free of its morning tousle. Blaine's conscience pangs for having missed his morning's responsibilities.

"Aspirin?" Kurt says, producing a bottle from his pocket and tipping it with a rattle.

Blaine swallows a tangy mouthful of juice, but the guilt doesn't go with it. "Yes, please," Blaine says, and Kurt shakes a pill into the cap and offers it to Blaine.

"So... how do you prefer to spend a morning hungover? Do you need food? Quiet? Dark? Solitude?"

"Um," Blaine says. He has to think on it. It's been a while since he's had a hangover, and he's been more accustomed to hiding his state rather than indulging his misery. "Food, definitely."

"I can make you a big breakfast, whatever you want—eggs, hash browns...?"

That sounds good. "That would be amazing."

Kurt seems relieved at having something to do. "Okay, I'll go make you food—take your time getting up."

And he's gone before Blaine can summon up his own question: What about you? Don't you need me by now?

##

Once he's brushed his teeth and shaved, Blaine makes his way out, feeling at least functionally human. The wooden blinds across the windows are turned closed, and it's just the fuzzy sunlight creeping around their edges that illuminates the space. Blaine smells coffee and eggs and other savory things. His stomach growls.

"Nearly ready," Kurt says from where he stands by the stove. He gestures with his spatula. "Just have a seat."

Blaine sits at the island where there's a single place laid for him. "Have you eaten already?" He reaches for the French press, and pours himself a mug of coffee, adds extra sugar this morning.

"I had something earlier," Kurt says, and he sets to transferring things from pans onto a plate. Then he presents Blaine with a pile of herb-flecked scrambled eggs, crispy hash browns, grilled tomato halves and field mushrooms, and two slices of buttered wheat toast. It looks and smells amazing.

"Wow, thanks," Blaine says, and he picks up his fork. Looking at the food, he's hungrier than he realized. Which reminds him: "What about sex? I know I overslept, and I—"

"I'm all good for now, Blaine," Kurt says with an peculiarly forceful smile. "Please, just enjoy your breakfast and drink your coffee. There's more juice in the fridge too, if you want it. I'm going to take some laundry downstairs."

"Sure," Blaine says.

But it's not long after Kurt disappears out the door with a basket full of bathroom towels that Blaine finds himself frowning at his scrambled eggs. Which are perfectly seasoned, fluffy and moist, and doing wonders to settle his icky stomach. But Kurt—it feels like he's doing that distancing thing again. Is breakfast an attempt at softening an incoming blow?

After last night, might Kurt have second thoughts about Blaine staying on for the summer? Hadn't Blaine resolved not to push things? Some of what he said last night surely crossed a line. 'God, I want to savor you.' And then offering to blow Kurt in the kitchen with his friends right there? What was he thinking? Embarrassment burns under Blaine's skin.

Even so, the flickering bright memory of the closeness with Kurt after all of that, it still feels good and sincere. Yet, Blaine's dragged back to another unwanted memory of Sebastian. An inflection point: lying in bed, in the afterglow, feeling tender-hearted and safe, and blurting, without thought or caution, for the very first time to anyone not his immediate family: "I love you."

The response was laughter, and Sebastian's laughter always held an edge of something darker than joy. Blaine thought it made him sound so sophisticated. "What did you say?" Sebastian asked. His smile had that mocking kink to it. Once Blaine found it irresistibly sexy.

Blaine repeated himself, clear and sure of his heart, more tenderly the second time, touching Sebastian's palm with his fingertips. "I said, I love you."

"No, you don't," Sebastian said, blithely. He pulled away to reach for his undershirt. "It's just the sex making you mushy."

Blaine stared at Sebastian's back and, despite the flood of sun across Sebastian's bed and the exertion still glowing in his muscles, the warmth of Blaine's affection turned to a chill.

That was when he should have walked away, only he didn't. In his youthful idealism, he'd taken it to mean only that Sebastian needed to be convinced of the truth. He didn't recognize love because he'd never been loved, not properly. Blaine could show him.

It had taken several sessions with his therapist to untangle. 'Have you heard of co-dependency, Blaine?'

And now Blaine hears an echo of Sam's kinder and gentler, 'Maybe you're just stoned on oxytocin from too much sex.' Not that Sam meant it the same way, and that's not what happened last night.

Kurt didn't laugh and neither did Blaine. And no one said, 'I love you.' Blaine evicts Sebastian from his frontal lobe. He can't see the value in his subconscious kicking up these memories. Kurt's nothing like Sebastian. So, determined, Blaine concentrates on the flavors and textures of his food until his plate is clear. Then he fills the kettle, empties the used grounds from the coffee press, and puts his plate in the dishwasher. Finally he goes to turn the blinds a few degrees and let in more of the day's light.

Kurt comes back in. "Feeling better?" he asks.

And Blaine, though he can't stop himself from searching for it, finds no guile or dissembling in Kurt's smile or gaze. "I am, thank you. Breakfast was superb."

If anything, Kurt's smile brightens. But Blaine needs to assuage his own troubled heart. "I wanted to apologize," he says. "For last night. Sam always says I'm a slutty drunk, and I'm sorry if I was... way too much."

"Too much?" Kurt does laugh, but there's no cruelty there, just sweet incredulity. "Blaine, seriously? You seduced me and then gave me several very satisfying orgasms. None of that was a problem for me. In fact? It was refreshing."

Blaine blinks. "Refreshing?"

"Yeah," Kurt says with a demure little one-shouldered shrug. He goes to the sofa and sits down. Gestures for Blaine to join him. "I mean, for me, not having to ask for it? Having you come on to me like that, so hot and bothered? Wanting me? That was all... kind of special."

"Ah." Blaine doesn't sit, but instead goes to pour boiled water over fresh coffee grounds. He's unsure if 'kind of special' includes everything: the way Kurt looked at him after, the way Kurt held him. Except he doesn't, in this moment, feel right pushing for more explicit acknowledgment of the moment they shared in the denouement of those several orgasms.

"So really, be as forward as you want," Kurt continues. He's twisted on the sofa, one arm draped along the back of it. His chin rests on the back of his hand. "Most of the time, I'm the one worried about being too much."

Unblinking, Blaine stirs the coffee grounds, mindful not to ding the sides of the glass too forcefully with the spoon. He takes a breath and considers asking about the other, related thing that's been creeping on his nerves. Sets the lid on the press and watches the swirling flecks of coffee stain the water brown. Decides, in this case, asking is better than not asking. "Is that why you didn't come to me overnight? Or did I sleep through it?"

"No." Kurt straightens. "But Dani doesn't buy the top shelf ouzo, and knowing how much you'd had, I didn't want to disturb you." Kurt says. "I took care of myself."

"But it's why I'm here, Kurt. I wouldn't have minded."

"Maybe not? But I minded. I didn't feel right waking you."

Still Blaine can't banish his nagging disappointed in himself. Won't assume Kurt's, but offers another apology anyway, "I'm sorry."

Kurt only shakes his head. "Don't be. Despite the song, I'm not an animal, Blaine, and you're not under an obligation to stay sober on a Friday night."

Blaine nods. "Okay, but next time, I'll abstain from the ouzo." He rallies a smile.

"Consider it a sort of initiation?" Kurt says. "Dani likes to see who people are when their inhibitions are down. We had a similar night when the band was new. Worst hangover of my life, but it was an awesomely fun evening. I should apologize for not warning you. You're such a happy and affectionate drunk."

The compliment is enough to cheer Blaine. He pours his coffee and brings it over to the living room, sits carefully at the other end of the sofa with Kurt, but not carefully enough to avoid the pounding pulse of pain that flares in his head with the minor change in altitude. "I did enjoy last night," he says, grimaces, and lightly touches his temple. "But I don't need a repeat of this headache any time soon."

"I remember it well," Kurt says gravely, and then he reaches to squeeze Blaine's knee. His expressions softens with his voice. "So, look, I'm not going to make any demands on you this morning, all right? I've got a hair appointment I need to leave for soon anyway." Kurt stands up and adds, "You just rest up and be lazy, okay? And don't feel guilty. I'll do the dishes later when the noise won't hurt so much."

"Okay," Blaine says, and he watches Kurt round up his sunglasses and a denim cadet cap, his phone and his keys. He takes Carole's mock-up off the dress form, neatly wraps it in tissue paper, and tucks it into a military green canvas field bag.

Blaine notes his own contrary emotional alchemy: how within himself, Kurt's generosity and exhortation to not feel guilty strives to have the opposite effect. Makes him more acutely aware of his lapse. He's let himself down, regardless. But wallowing doesn't help; he's no good to anyone if he does that.

"I may be a few hours," Kurt says as he slings the bag across his chest and goes to the door. "I have to go to the post office too, run a few other errands downtown. Anything you need from Midtown while I'm there?"

"No, I don't think so?" Blaine says. He stands up too fast and immediately regrets it.

"Take it easy, yeah?" Kurt says with a sympathetic wince.

"Yeah."

##

The first thing Blaine does after Kurt leaves is have a long, too hot shower. He turns the jet to its thuddiest massage setting and lets it hammer at his shoulders, neck, and scalp. He comes out of the shower pink-skinned, light-headed, and slack-muscled. He towels his hair dry and slips back into bed naked. With the cool sheets soft and light upon his warm body and his belly full, he falls asleep almost instantly.

When he wakes, Kurt's still gone. Blaine pulls on his old Dalton track pants, long gone baggy around the knees, and a red and white striped t-shirt. A glance in the mirror has him regretting not having done more with his hair. It's in full on Medusa-mode rebellion on one side and comically flattened on the side upon which he slept. He takes some time wetting it and combing through enough product that he won't look like he's auditioning to play Harvey Dent.

He considers doing the dishes then, because the worst of his headache has receded. But it's Saturday, and Kurt asked him not to. Anyway, his body still protests being upright and mobile, so he lies down on the sofa with his tablet and aimlessly scrolls through his Twitter feed. Thinks about calling Tina after a visit to her Instagram.

He rejects that idea because she'd only push him for more details about the week with Kurt than he'd be comfortable sharing—and then he might end up tempted to ask for her advice. But, as much as he'd like to have someone else tell him what he should be doing or how he should be feeling about everything, this, he has to work through for himself.

Maybe the moment last night was simply what it was: a moment of human closeness when they both had the need for it. Must it be more complicated than that? Is there truly more to analyze? Perhaps attempts at digging into it will only make a mess of something that was simply good. An uncomplicated moment of shared affection shouldn't require deconstruction. His old insecurities have him wanting to pick at Kurt's motivations. But he knows that only results in picking at his own scars. He can accept Kurt cares about him. Don't overthink everything, he reminds himself.

Blaine sets his tablet aside and heads back to his room. His brain needs a stickier distraction. He unplugs his headphones from his keyboard and sets to working through some old practice pieces. He doesn't attempt anything new, just embraces the comfortable concentration that comes with following familiar patterns. He works through his favorite Chopin études, a Scarlatti sonata, and Mendelssohn's Gondellied—pieces long memorized in his repertoire but to which he's added his own sensibility over the years. As the music spirals up into the high ceiling of his room and eases the tension within him, he adjusts his posture and moves on to Bach's Sinfonias. And so his Saturday ticks sedately into afternoon.

He hears Kurt's return, and wraps up his practice. He stands, stretches, and goes out. The headache is gone.

"Hey!" Kurt says. He's got a paper bag from the corner deli in his hand. His hair is shorter at the sides and back, and his high-brushed coiffure is streaked with new shining gold highlights. His skin looks dewy and fresh, so he must've got a facial too.

"Your hair looks amazing," Blaine says.

"Why, thank you." Kurt makes an asymmetrical curtsy. He hoists the bag. "I brought lunch. Same order as last week? A Reuben for you, turkey and Swiss for me."

Blaine goes to get plates.

"You're looking better?" Kurt asks.

"I hope so," Blaine says. "I'm feeling at least eighty-five percent better. So if you need me now, I'm up for a bit of energetic jostling."

Kurt laughs. "I'm fine," he says. "Let's just have lunch."

They sit at the dining table with their sandwiches, and Blaine can't stop—though he tries to talk himself out of it—the way Kurt's declining of his offer, no matter how kindly, feels more like flat out rejection this time. It reinvigorates his worry that something is amiss and he's at fault. Even though he can't see it in Kurt. Kurt is relaxed and reassuring. Friendly.

"So I was wondering how formal you'd want to be about this summer and our arrangement?" Kurt asks as he peels open his kaiser roll to rearrange its filling. "Do you want to sign something? It wouldn't be legally binding, but I drew up a short contract back when I was first thinking about doing this."

"You want me to stay then."

Kurt's eyebrows rise. "Didn't we agree to that yesterday?"

"We did. I just, um?" Blaine takes a deep breath, tries to let it out evenly, but his anxiety shakes through it.

"What's going on?" Kurt asks. "And please don't say it's nothing."

Blaine inhales deeply again and gathers the words he needs. "You didn't come to me last night or this morning. And just now? You didn't want my help, and it's afternoon. You usually do by now, and I worried that you'd changed your mind—gone to someone else maybe—because I'm not... Because I screwed up somehow, or—"

"Blaine, it's okay, I promise. Nothing's wrong. I've taken something today. I'll be okay through this evening."

"Oh," Blaine says.

"Are you disappointed?" It's said not without humor.

"No..." The denial is reflex. "But, you took something? I thought— You told me you don't take medication for this?"

"Not usually and not regularly? But I have something for emergencies. Off label prescription."

Blaine only frowns more. "Is today an emergency?"

"Not at all. But you were bound to be under the weather, and I, sometimes, even though I don't like taking them all that much. It's nice to give myself a break, you know?"

Of course, Blaine doesn't know. Can't quite convince his doubts to rest: the fear that he's let Kurt down, and Kurt's simply too kind to tell him plainly. "Um," he says and searches Kurt's face again for any sign of—he's less sure for what—reproach or disappointment? Doesn't find any, which only leads to frustration at his own struggle to break free of his stupidly anxious maundering. "I'm fine though," Blaine insists. "You didn't need to take something you don't like just because I drank too much last night. I can still help you out." He smiles for emphasis. "I like doing it, Kurt, and it's my responsibility here, isn't it?"

"Blaine, I took it for my own sake as much as my concern for you, all right? You'll have plenty of opportunities to help me out. I just wanted today to be less..." Kurt's lips twist as he gropes for the word. "Cluttered. If only for myself."

"Cluttered?"

Kurt nods. "I used to thrive on it—having lots of hobbies and projects and ambitions to balance. Keeping busy helps, most of the time. But there's a point where I can overdo it, and it becomes a sort of self-destructive hamster wheel of busyness, and then—well, I neglect myself.

"And, worse, I neglect the people I care about. Because this?" Kurt gestures toward his crotch. "This doesn't really let me have a break. This past week's been a big change for me. A good change, so please don't worry that you're falling short in any way. It's just—I needed to catch my breath, and I wanted to be clear-headed when we talked about making this official for the summer."

"Okay," Blaine says, nods. "Okay. I should probably apologize again for..." He runs a hand over his hair. He can still feel the traces of his nap in its asymmetry. "For being weird and skittish today. I've been so worried that I fucked up massively last night. Even though you keep telling me things are fine."

A new understanding light's Kurt's eyes. He glances away for a moment, and speaks more gently when he responds. "I'm good with everything that happened between us last night. So long as you are?"

It's the way Kurt leans on the everything that steals Blaine's breath. He takes a moment to steady his voice and nods. "I am."

"Good!" Kurt says, blinking rapidly and offering a tight, but relieved, smile. "So, about signing a faux legal contract?"

"A gentlemen's agreement?"

"Yes, that sounds better." Kurt flashes a grin. "It's just one page, a straightforward exchange of accommodation, including food and utilities, your own bedroom, the furniture that's there, and use of the shared living spaces, in exchange for, uh, how much did we agree on? Two-fifty?"

"Yeah," Blaine says.

"That and sexual service as required, unless for reasons of physical separation or health—mental or physical—and that includes hangovers." Kurt looks back at Blaine with a grin. "Or if it's impossible or harmful to provide for some other reason I'm not thinking of right now. Consent will be explicit and affirmative and any given acts are subject to ongoing negotiation for both parties. Which means, um, for example, just because you asked me to blindfold you doesn't mean you can't change your mind later."

"Right." Blaine smiles. This conversation feels better. Easier.

"And same for me."

"Like when you're not comfortable waking me when I've drunk too much..."

"Exactly. Or if I ask for something you're not keen on, even if you've been keen before? I don't know, like, say, I ask you to blow me and you're not wanting to, you can decline without indulging your worry or guilt, okay? You can even say, 'Hey, Kurt, I never actually want to blow you again,' and we can work with that."

"Short of having my jaw wired shut, I can't see myself ever saying that."

"It was an example only," Kurt says. "I know what a strain this has put on previous partners, and while I want to be able to rely on you, I don't want to abuse your generosity or your highly developed sense of responsibility. Whatever we do together, I want you to be okay. That's a priority for me. I don't want to be too much for you."

Slowly, Blaine nods. Part of him wants to protest the notion of Kurt being too much for him, for didn't Mae West say it best? 'Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.' But he doesn't say anything. He needs to respect Kurt's experience and the concerns that arise from it.

"You don't actually have to sign anything," Kurt says to Blaine's silence. "I'm okay keeping this as a verbal agreement only."

But Blaine can discern a nervousness underlying Kurt's determined smiling that prompts him to ask, "Will you feel better—more secure—if we do sign it?"

The tension Blaine noted leaves Kurt's face. "I think... yes, maybe I would?"

"Then let's sign it."

"Great, thank you. Wow." Kurt gets up and goes to his room, comes back out with a single printed page and a pen.

Kurt passes Blaine the page to read. Blaine pushes his plate aside and brushes the crumbs off his fingers before looking it over.

"Anything you want to change now?" Kurt asks. "We can always amend things later."

"This is fine," Blaine says. "Pretty much what we talked about in email, right?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, so..." Blaine picks up the pen, uncaps it, and neatly signs his full name, prints it below, dates it, and slides the page and the pen toward Kurt. "There."

Kurt just stares at Blaine's signature for a long moment, fidgeting with the pen. His breath shudders and Blaine sees the the shine gathering in Kurt's eyes.

"Good?" Blaine asks. He reaches out and puts his hand on Kurt's shoulder.

Kurt nods silently and then musters a thick sounding, "Yeah. Yeah. I'm just." He sniffs and firms his grip on the pen. Signs his name, a little messily. "So grateful. You can't know." He breaks off to wipe his eyes with his wrist and sniffs again. "Sorry," he says, self-deprecating grin. "Side-effect of those pills I took. They can make me maudlin."

"Hey, no, it's perfectly fine." Blaine rubs his back. "I'm grateful too."

Kurt looks confused. "Really?"

"Of course." Blaine withdraws his hand and straightens. "So, I know you're not needing an orgasm right now, but is there anything else I can do to help out today? Help with the dishes or fold towels or...?"

"Actually," Kurt says, a little shy. "I was wondering—when I came home you were playing. It was lovely to come home to live music. Could you maybe play some more for me this afternoon?"

"Oh," Blaine says, warming with pleasure at the request. "I'd love to play for you, Kurt."

##

Kurt lies on Blaine's bed while Blaine plays. He begins with the Bach again. Where he left off. Something about the baroque patterns soothes his brain—always has. Following along the intricacy of Bach's recursion and variation is like the aural equivalent of contemplating a fractal or a Buddhist mandala.

From behind him, in a pause between pieces, Kurt mumbles drowsily, "That's beautiful—what is it?"

"Bach," Blaine says. "Practice pieces he composed for his students. He's a personal favorite."

"Really?" Kurt asks. "I would've taken you more for a Romantic, you know, Mozart or Beethoven. The evocative emotional stuff. Not that I know my classical piano all that well. I stopped lessons about the same time I gave up ballet, but... yeah. I still play a mean 'Oh, Susanna!'"

"Bach's still evocative, I think? Consider, um, for example—can anyone hear his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and not imagine some manic vampire pounding away at his keyboard in a foreboding castle?" Blaine turns and plays the opening of it with theatrical flourish.

Kurt laughs. "Good point."

"And this one... It's a violin piece, but it's fun on piano." He plays the first several measures of the Prelude to Bach's Partita #3 in E. Bright and cheerful. "Doesn't it sound like joy?" He lets his fingers go idle, and he swivels his chair to face Kurt. "Didn't Liszt say something about that? 'Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought.'"

"I'll take your word for it."

"Here," Blaine says, "Close your eyes and just listen. Old Franz can make the case for himself." He plays Liszt's Liebestraum No. 3.

"I recognize this one," Kurt murmurs.

When Blaine finishes, Kurt's quiet, and Blaine lets them stay in silence for a few heartbeats. Then, softly, he asks, "What did that feel like?"

Kurt's slow to respond, and Blaine turns his chair around again. Its creak is out of place.

Kurt's lying with his eyes closed and brow furrowed, one hand lax and fanned out across his chest. "Um," he says. "Being at a black tie event with Isabelle? Or that scene in All About Eve." Kurt grins.

"No," Blaine says, laughing, "What emotion does it feel like?"

Kurt's frown deepens with thought, but he doesn't open his eyes. "Would you play it again?"

"Sure."

And Blaine does, taking care to feed into his performance his own emotion—the sweet yearning.

When it fades to silence the second time, Kurt doesn't wait for Blaine to prompt him. "It's like... a delicate sort of happiness and wonder, at the start. For something new—newly discovered or acquired. It builds into more passion—intensity of that feeling. Fascination and excitement. Kind of like... good sex? Or... making love.

"You can hear the climax and the afterglow. And then? I don't know, it almost gets mournful? Like longing for something that's now impossible to reach again. Before it resolves into a soft note of sadness. Resignation to futility. All good things..."

"That one's Liebestraum," Blaine says. "Love Dream."

"So... it's about waking up from a really good sex dream?" Kurt asks, he pushes himself up to an elbow and faces Blaine with a glint in his eye and a quirk of his lips.

Blaine returns Kurt's amused grin. "I guess—sure, yeah."

"Who knew classical music could be so sexy?"

"Obviously you've never had sex to the "Blue Danube Waltz"." Blaine keeps a straight face, and with one hand plays its well known opening.

Kurt cracks up. "No, oh my god." Then he sobers rapidly. "Wait a minute... have you?"

"No, actually, I'm not sure I even could! But—it was a question on this purity test that went around Dalton my junior year."

"Purity test, huh? And how pure are you?"

"As the driven snow." At least he was then; for Sebastian it was an invitation—and a challenge.

Kurt snorts as he laughs. It's cute. "Well, anyway, you play beautifully," Kurt says. "I took lessons when I was younger, but never really cottoned on to the classical stuff. I liked trying to pick out my favorite songs from musicals and pop songs. Then... I'm not sure why I stopped playing, but it just sort of faded out."

"I can do pop songs and musicals too. And, well... a lot of stuff, really."

Kurt's not sitting up, he's just leaning there and blinking slowly at Blaine. "We really should go to Callbacks."

"Tonight?" Blaine asks.

Kurt shrugs and yawns. And then yawns again. "Maybe not tonight, but sometime? We could do some karaoke. You could play piano."

"Sounds fun." Blaine says.

The softness about Kurt's features is different from last night. Less raw, more calm. Still beautiful though. Blaine lets the silence come between him and he lets himself look at Kurt, and Kurt looks back without any weight. But it's still direct, and Blaine lets his gaze fall away, lest it lead him to indulge some of the feelings he oughtn't.

It's Kurt who breaks the stillness. "You know, it's so weird when I'm like this." He lowers himself back to to rest his head on the pillow, tucks his hands under his cheek, still facing Blaine.

"Because of the medicine you took?"

"Yeah, when the compulsion's gone—that constant background noise. When everything inside goes quiet and there's no urgent anything. When I'm..." He gestures toward his groin. "Just kind of inert down there."

"Inert?"

Kurt grins and shrugs a shoulder. "It's weird because it makes me think about how sex is actually kind of weird. I mean, culturally, socially, whatever. We put all this time and effort and energy into getting it, having it, trying to keep it, whatever. Like genital friction is peak human experience. And when I step back from my own muddled drive, it just seems... kinda weird. Sometimes."

"Yeah, I can see that. So much stress and effort for want of an orgasm, right?"

"Makes you wonder if human civilization is all in aid of just that. Better and more fucking."

Blaine laughs.

"More seriously though," Kurt looks down at the bedspread, picks at a bit of invisible lint. "When I was younger and this all started and—well, I told you about the girl who gave me my first hand job."

"A bit, yeah."

"Back then? Brittany was sweet and everything, and having her help—it did help. But there wasn't any real desire. No thrill. Just a transaction. It wasn't that I didn't care about her. It just... " Kurt turns his face into the pillow. "It all felt so fucking impossible. To be where I was and to even hope to have any of the things I wanted, to feel so trapped and alone..."

"It's hard enough being gay in Ohio, I can't imagine how much harder it was for you."

"Romance was what I wanted most—aside from getting out. I wanted to feel that thrill and desire for someone who felt the same thrill and desire for me. I wanted it to be mutual. I wanted sex to be about connecting with someone, not just getting off because my body was stupid.

"And then, the heavens parted." Kurt's lips pull into a wry slant. "I met my first boyfriend, and I had that mutuality and romance with him for nearly two years. Things were good. Wonderful. The future seemed so bright, then. But I learned high school romances don't survive graduation."

"I'm sorry, Kurt."

"Yeah. So, it got messy again. I was in a new city, the only friend I had was Rachel, and the compulsion was worse than it had ever been in high school, and even though I was finding partners and the occasional boyfriend, it became, a lot of the time—especially the in-between boyfriends part—this functional transaction again. And even some of the boyfriends... I put up with things I shouldn't have just for the sake of security. It's not like there weren't good times. But a lot of the time? It still wasn't... something I enjoyed or wanted. Just something I needed.

"After enough botched attempts at a relationship again, I gave up on the idea of that. Resigned myself to the transactional orgasms with guys who didn't really care about me, and without that sense of connection—or even all that much genuine pleasure on my part. Just scratching the itch to get through the day."

Blaine's unsure what more to say. He knows expressing too much sympathy, for Kurt, can seem like pity. Which is unwanted. "That's rough," he says.

When Kurt raises his gaze to meet Blaine's the softness is back. Which is why I want to say thank you again, Blaine, because it's been amazing to have sex that feels this good again. That I can feel good about. To desire someone again in that way, and to have that... reciprocated."

"Oh..." It's not a surprising thing to hear. Kurt's already expressed his enjoyment of the sex they're having, even in superlative terms. But this seems like more, like Blaine needs to be very careful. But he can't say nothing, and anything he says needs to be the truth. "I feel... not dissimilarly, Kurt. I've never had a lover like you."

"You mean horribly needy and disruptive?"

"No, generous."

"You think so?"

"Mmhm."

"Huh." Kurt looks at him like it's never occurred to him that anyone would describe him that way. A soft kind of shock. He swallows and rolls to his back. Looks straight up for a while, and doesn't say anything more.

"Didn't I already tell you? You're the best I've had."

Kurt smiles at that, but then soon sobers. "For what it's worth? I'm not... I'm not trying to make any of this into something it isn't, Blaine, but I want to be sure you know how much it means to have you here now and for the next few months." Kurt's tips his face toward Blaine, and his eyes gleam with more than his gratitude. He wipes his wrist across them and sniffs. Offers a wobbly smile. "You know, last night I told Rachel I was scared I wouldn't know how to make this work with you, and she told me—in a very rare moment of Rachelian insight into the human condition—that maybe I shouldn't be trying to make it work, I should just... let it be what it is."

"Let it be? Seems like sound advice. After all, who would argue with Paul McCartney?"

Kurt barks a laugh and pushes himself up to sit. "Damn it. I knew it was too good to be true. I'll be sure to tell her, her good advice is plagiarized." Kurt rubs his eyes with the heels of his hand.

And Blaine finds the opportunity to ask, "Are you okay?"

"I am. Didn't I mention? Those pills make me maudlin. I should probably go try to sleep it off instead inflicting more of my mushiness on you. If I can, anyway. The stupid things make me both sleepy and sleepless."

"Want me to make you some chamomile tea?"

"Thanks," Kurt says. "That might help."

While Kurt's lying down, Blaine replies—a soft yes, depending on other factors—to a text from Artie inviting him to stop by the studio tomorrow afternoon, and he emails his father to ask about having some of his furniture from home shipped. That unexpectedly feels like more of a commitment than signing Kurt's contract. His stomach flutters, light and nervous, but in a happy, anticipatory way.

His summer has properly started. He's got the stability of a place to live and the excitement of budding new friendships. And however it will be with Kurt, it is, Blaine's certain, the start of a relationship that will endure. Let it be is good advice, and taking the summer with Kurt day-by-day, without making or defining their relationship into some sort of ill-fitting shape it's not, leaves open the possibility of discovering something new. Whatever that may be, it'll be worth it. It's going to be a great summer.

##

"I was thinking?" Kurt says. Blaine looks up from where he's reading on the sofa. After his nap, Kurt's showered and now he's dressed up, wearing dark trousers with a colorful paint spattered pattern that resembles one of Hubbles' deep gazes into space and a short-sleeved periwinkle button up that's thin enough Blaine can tell Kurt's not wearing an undershirt. The shirt's stiff folded collar is high, and Kurt has forgone a scarf. It conceals most of the purpling bruise Blaine made last night, but still offers a glimpse from just the right angle.

The evening's taken on that tireless melon-hued light as the sun lazily slumps its way to the west. Kurt fairly glows in it. "Yes?" Blaine asks.

"There's a great spot for pizza just a couple blocks from here," Kurt says. He unbuttons and then buttons again the maroon button below his collar. "We could have dinner out tonight? If you're up for it? My treat?"

"Sounds good—I'll change."

Blaine goes through his shirts and slacks hanging on the rail, frowning at each. Wants to put something together to impress. He decides on Mustang red pants that flatter his ass; a navy, coral, and white plaid shirt; and a bow tie with a discreet geometric floral print to coordinate. Leaves his hair in its current looser style and grabs a light cotton blazer in case the evening breeze turns cool later.

It's a short walk to the restaurant, toward the river. Interior light glows through the grape vine motif stained glass above the door. Inside, the woodsmoke and savory scents from the pizza oven dominate. They're early enough that they're able to get a table outside on the street. Their waiter lights the candle in the center of their table; it flickers and leaps in its square, lumpy glass holder. The glass is like those Dalton chapel windows he was thinking about this morning. To banish any bitter aftertaste of that recollection, Blaine opens his menu and asks Kurt, "So what's good here?"

The murmur of other diners spills out the door when their waiter comes back with a carafe of water for their table and asks for their drink order. After last night, they stick to soft drinks: Italian soda for them both. Kurt gets lemon, and Blaine raspberry. The breeze shuffles through the leaves of some shaggy potted plant next to their table. Blaine sips his ice water.

"We could split a Grandma Pie?" Kurt says. "It's their specialty. Maybe get something to start too? The mussels are always good here."

So they share a bowl of steamed mussels in a fragrant tomato broth while they wait for their pizza. Blaine watches Kurt use the shell of one mussel to tweeze the meat from the next. Blaine sticks to using his fork. The mussels are fresh, tender and sweet with a hint of the sea. Blaine proposes a toast, lifting his glass across the center of the table. The glass is cool in his hand but the heat of the candle warms his wrist. "To the coming summer," he says.

Kurt meets him with a clink of his bottle's neck against Blaine's, and they drink.

They eat in easy silence for a while and the Saturday night energy of the street builds as the sunlight slowly turns gray.

"So, um, last Sunday over lunch?" Kurt says with a wrinkle of his brow, as if he's uncertain of something.

"Hm?" Blaine looks up. Discreetly wipes his index finger onto his napkin and reaches for a chunk of ciabatta to mop up some of the broth on his plate.

"I didn't really give you a chance to answer that question I asked. About... why someone like you hasn't had much luck in love either?"

"Oh, right..." Blaine pries another mussel from its shell. Wonders why Kurt's asking again now.

"I'm only curious, Blaine. I'm not going to judge you." Then more wryly, adds, "It's a bit late for that anyway."

"Um?" Blaine begins. He recalls giving Kurt options about which version he'd prefer—therapist or disgruntled exes. Kurt had only wanted Blaine's.

"But if it's too awkward or painful, you don't have to."

"No, it's not that—I've just been, for whatever reason, thinking about Sebastian today." Blaine touches the side of the candle holder, lets himself feel the smooth humps of the glass. Sense memory ricochets in his chest. "He was my first... well, only... serious boyfriend. Back at Dalton."

"Are they good or bad memories?"

Blaine shrugs. "Neutral overall. I mean, I've done the work and learned my lessons and forgiven him. So I think, maybe, it's just my subconscious reminding me of those lessons."

Kurt glances down but his eyebrows rise.

"Which sounds a little ominous, I know. But I'm fine, really."

"You try to always be fine, don't you?" Kurt asks, but it's more affection than challenge. A statement of new knowledge or understanding. But it still pricks Blaine uncomfortably. Kurt must notice; he continues in a gentler tone. "So what happened with him? What did you learn?"

It's not that Blaine doesn't appreciate Kurt's directness, maybe it's more that—at times—he knows he can struggle with his own, and he doesn't want to. Not here with Kurt. It's important that he not. "Well," Blaine says, and he has to pause to shift his glass and the candle holder out of the way when the waiter arrives with their pizza. He can't speak with a stranger hovering over their table anyway. It's a little awkward, shuffling things about to make room for the large pizza board. Kurt hoists the bowl of empty mussel shells and Blaine stacks their dirty plates while the waiter sets down clean ones, and then finally the pizza itself. Crisp and fragrant and steaming hot. Just charred at its edges.

"Pepper?" Kurt asks, lifting the grinder once they're alone again.

"Please," Blaine says. He watches the twist of Kurt's wrist as he turns the grinder. "So according to my therapist, I have a tendency to interpret any positive seeming attention as affirmation and affection."

Kurt nods once, slowly.

"Sebastian... he gave me a lot of attention. He was incredibly forward, and very explicit about his sexual interest in me. It was..." Blaine purses his lips. "It was overwhelming, but also so flattering. And really hot."

"Perils of the whole lonely hormonal adolescence, huh?"

Blaine laughs without much humor. "Yeah, partly that." He's uncertain he wants to delve too much into the parts that weren't that, but he can't really avoid them either. "He pursued me with persistence and intensity, and I mistook that for... more than it was. More than it could ever be. Looking back, I think I was just an easy mark for him."

"Oh dear," Kurt says.

"It sounds harsh. But I was young and full of romantic hope, and I ignored or rationalized away any warning signs. And Sebastian—he'd been around. He'd talk about how he'd lived in Europe, the guys he'd been with. He had more notches on his bedpost than seemed credible, but, somehow, it just made me feel special? That this sexy, worldy guy was after me?

"Anyway, as we got to know each other, he'd also tell me stories of his difficult childhood. Some of it was relatable, sympathetic. Other stuff? I don't know. I'd catch him in lies sometimes. So I don't know how much was true or if they were things he made up or exaggerated to rouse my sympathy."

"Jesus, Blaine."

"It was messed up. I was in love with him, and that made me a malleable source of fun for him. Whenever his ego needed feeding, I was willing to feed it. And he, in turn, knew exactly how to keep me hungry for him.

"He used up a lot of my innocence and trust, and I let him, because it felt good to have his attention. It made me feel wanted, and being wanted felt like being loved. And that was something I desperately wanted to feel."

The sympathy in Kurt's eyes, when Blaine finally looks up, halts Blaine's breath. Kurt reaches across the table, past the pizza, and offers his open hand, palm up. Blaine takes it, and Kurt squeezes his fingers. "So he chewed you up and spat you out, huh?"

"Pretty much." Blaine looks down at Kurt's fingers around his own, wishes again, pointlessly, that Kurt had been his first love. How different it would have been. "That kind of fucked me up for a while. A teacher... noticed. She made an appointment with my parents and they got me a therapist. It helped, and Sam was there for me, and he gave me a safe place to be. I learned what it was like to have someone who genuinely cared about me."

Silence settles between them, and Blaine hopes he's said enough, but not too much.

"Do you think... um," Kurt begins. He looks sad.

"What?"

Kurt bites his lip and frowns. "Do you think, on some level, you're worried I'm like that? Like him?"

Blaine shakes his head. "I know you're not."

"Yes, but—"

"I think it's just that I need to remember to take care of myself, in all my relationships."

Kurt smiles in relief. "Yes, that's important. I don't need or want a martyr, Blaine. If you ever feel like you're struggling with that, let me know and we'll make adjustments to what we're doing, all right?"

"Yes," Blaine says. Can't quite manage eye contact. "Thank you."

"You don't need to thank me. I care about you, your well being," Kurt says. "In case you doubt that."

"I... don't." Blaine says. "I don't doubt that, Kurt."

##

After dinner, which they topped of with the best tiramisu Blaine's had, they head west on Flushing Ave, to leisurely walk off the heaviness in their bellies. Kurt's yawning more frequently, but says the fresh air and movement helps. Their meandering takes them zagging north toward the river and the base of the Manhattan bridge until they end up in John Street Park.

They cross a foot bridge to pass over the tidal basin, where Kurt points out the the rusted iron footings peeking out from among the reeds, antique remnants of the previous centuries' old industrial buildings. The path they take ends in an arcing U at the river's edge. They stop and lean on a curved railing. The river murmurs and sighs over its rocky bank, and they look out below the belly of the near bridge and across the glittering water to the night-shrouded towers of the Brooklyn Bridge and the sparkling Manhattan skyline.

It's more spectacular than any postcard. Even more than Blaine anticipated when coming to New York was a dream only. "Do you ever feel like you need to pinch yourself?" Blaine asks. "Being here, in this city? Sometimes I'm convinced I'm going to wake up, back in my bed in Ohio."

"All the time," Kurt says. "No matter how familiar or routine, those moments still catch me. Like when the angle of the sun hits Manhattan just so, or walking at night and looking up and seeing... all of this." He sweeps one hand across the cityscape before them. "We're not in Kansas anymore."

"Yes, but I don't want to go home."

"No," Kurt says. "There may be no place like it, but there's no place like this either."

"No place I'd rather be," Blaine agrees and they fall into a comfortable silence for a time.

The river's ceaseless flow is calm and the night air gentle. Beside him, just as calm and gentle, is Kurt. The city lights glow on his face and gleam like stars in his wide open eyes. Kurt takes a long breath and releases it slowly. Eventually, he casts a glance at Blaine, and Blaine sees peace. "I didn't expect it would be like this when I placed my ad," Kurt says softly.

"Oh?" The steadiness of Blaine's heart falters.

A private sort of happiness dimples Kurt's cheeks as he bends his neck and pauses, seeming to search the rocks below their feet. "Though I hoped for better, at best I only let myself expect someone I would find mostly tolerable—you know, nice enough, not too stupid, and lacking in the more disgusting or obnoxious habits—who'd be able to keep up with me."

"I hope I've managed to exceed those minimal standards," Blaine teases lightly.

Kurt chuckles and rolls his eyes. "I like you, Blaine, even when we're not fucking, and the fucking is pretty great. It's not just more connected, it's more fun."

"That's kind of you to say, Kurt."

"It's not kindness. It's the truth," Kurt says.

Blaine nods and tips his head back. On the riverbank, it's easier to catch sight of the brightest stars overhead. "I'm not sure what I expected when I agreed to meet you," Blaine says. "It just felt like something I needed to... explore? Does that make sense?"

"So you're a little impulsive too, huh?"

Blaine shrugs. "Sometimes? I try not to be. But it wasn't like that, really. I was intrigued, right from that first email exchange we had. I wanted to meet you and, I don't know? I think I was at a point where I was open to something different."

"Something different," Kurt echoes. "Yeah. Me too." And he looks at Blaine then, with clarity and interest. But the warmth that flickers behind it isn't the fractured desperation of his compulsion. Instead it's something more sound and certain in its curiosity.

Blaine does his best to return it. They made a commitment to each other today.

Once more, Kurt offers Blaine his open hand. "It's getting late. We should head home." He tilts his head.

"Yes, let's," Blaine says, and he lays his palm against Kurt's. Watches their fingers curl together in unconscious synchronicity.

Hand-in-hand, they turn and make their way back along the path and up the grassy slope toward the street. The glass fronted apartment building overlooking the park reflects the view.