Word Count: ~2,700
Fic Summary: Their love story begins in the morning, on the bus to work.
A/N: I asked for prompts and ca_te gave me the following: "Blaine sees Kurt on the bus every morning, one day he gathers enough courage to speak to him." Based on that prompt, I wrote Morning, told from Blaine's POV.
This is a companion piece, telling the version of events from Kurt's POV. A sequel is in the works as well, but Kurt had a story to tell first, and this is it.
So many thanks to the wonderful ca_te for her support and for reading this over for me!
Kurt checks his outfit in the mirror twice before he heads out the door that morning. It's his first day at a new job and he's nervous – not that he particularly cares about this job, but he needs it anyway. Auditions don't pay the bills if they don't lead to actual parts.
He walks to the bus stop at a brisk pace, having left his apartment later than he'd have liked, and only has to wait about a minute before the bus pulls up to the curb. His stomach feels tight and his hands are cold. In a way, it feels like defeat, starting this job. Like he's admitting to himself that he's giving up on his dream. Like he has failed somehow.
But he schools his face into a neutral expression – he's had so much practice, he knows he's excellent at hiding his emotions – steps onto the bus, looks around for an empty seat.
That's when he sees him for the first time, the man with the dark hair and kind eyes.
He's holding a book in his hands and there's a far-away expression on his face when he looks up, like he's coming back from this fictional world in which he's immersed himself for the bus ride. But when his gaze falls on Kurt, a smile tugs at the corners of his mouth and in this city of anonymity and not caring about others, that's such a rare kindness.
It's just a fleeting contact, their eyes meeting only for a second, but there's a sparkle, a friendliness in the stranger's eyes that's soothing in a way Kurt didn't expect from someone he's never seen before.
He takes a seat one row ahead, across the aisle, and stares at his hands. He's still nervous. But he's also feeling resigned. He's on the bus. The bus that will be taking him to his job every morning until something better comes along.
Being the assistant to an assistant editor isn't really the most fun job in the world, and Kurt spends his days sorting through papers, brewing coffee, running errands for his boss – an irritable woman in her late forties who keeps forgetting his name. Today, he's Larry. Yesterday, he was Shane. It changes daily, sometimes hourly. He's getting used to it, like he's getting used to so many things he never wanted. It still hurts.
The bus ride to work is the most peaceful part of his day every day. Everything is still better in the morning; he's well rested, he hasn't had to deal with his boss yet, and there's the man, of course.
The one who looked up that very first morning, somehow noticing him in the crowd.
He looks up every day when Kurt gets on the bus, and sometimes Kurt can feel his eyes on the back of his head even throughout the bus ride.
It should be creepy, but he senses no danger from the man. Just warmth, kindness, a genuine interest in life with the way he seems to observe the world around him, so ready to smile at people he doesn't know.
Kurt doesn't understand it, but he enjoys it nonetheless. He knows that most people on this bus are there every morning, but somehow, that man is the one who sticks out. He's different. Kurt can tell. And Kurt's fascinated, captivated by the man's face that's so expressive, the face that betrays every emotion when he's reading.
The man always sits in the back, so Kurt can't watch him the way he'd like to. But, he finds, when he angles his head just so, he can make out his reflection in the window. And sometimes he does, because he's on his way to a job he doesn't love and he hasn't even had an audition in weeks and the only dates he ever has are the ones with his own TV and a carton of take out when he gets home. If the world has decided to place this beautiful stranger in front of his eyes, he will damn well look at him if he wants to.
The weather gets colder quickly and Kurt has to run errands for his boss all day every day, most of them involving venturing outside to get donuts for meetings, cigarettes for his boss, even new toilet paper for the ladies' room. He gets more and more frustrated every day and then one Friday, his feet are hurting and he's frozen down to his bones after running through the rain three times to do his boss's bidding.
By that Saturday, he's in bed with a fever, feeling sore and miserable and hopeless.
After all his dreams of the stage and the bright lights and the wonderful life he was going to have, it's not easy adjusting to this bleak and comfortless reality.
He manages to take three days off and spends them drinking tea and eating soup and staring at the ceiling, not missing his job in the least, but his thoughts occasionally straying to a pair of kind eyes and a beautiful face framed by carefully controlled dark curls.
He wonders whether the man notices he's not on the bus. He wonders if he left an impression strong enough to make his absence noted. Somehow, the thought of being missed even just by an anonymous stranger on the bus makes him sleep easier when his eyes slip shut, his tired body dragging him down into yet another fever dream.
He returns to work on a Thursday, feeling better physically but still drained emotionally.
He's at his stop early, waiting, wrapping his arms around himself to stay warm.
The man is there when he steps on, and he looks up from his book, his eyes finding Kurt right away. A smile breaks out on his face, brighter and warmer than is appropriate for strangers on a bus, and Kurt is taken aback for a moment – despite his dreaming, he had never really believed those stolen glances to be directed at him specifically.
But this, on the man's face, is almost unmistakable – he recognizes Kurt, he's pleased to see him. Or maybe, he's just the nicest person in the world.
Regardless of what it means, Kurt decides to take from it what he needs, decides to see it as a gift, a ray of sunshine in this cold and broken world he has slipped into out of necessity.
So he smiles back, shyly, tentatively, and finds a seat.
He still doesn't look forward to going back to work.
But he feels a little less lonely, a little less sad. It's funny, he thinks, how this random act of kindness from a complete stranger can do so much to brighten his day.
It definitely helps that the stranger is the most attractive man Kurt has seen in a long time.
As the weeks go on and the morning bus rides continue, Kurt contemplates speaking to him.
He's a little surprised at himself, even considering this.
But his thoughts keep returning to the man when he's having a particularly bad day, when he lies awake at night feeling the crushing weight of lost hopes and dreams pressing down on his chest until he can barely breathe.
Thinking about the man becomes his escape, picturing what it would be like to speak to him, to touch his hand, to run his fingers through that thick, curly hair. To slip an arm around his shoulders when they're walking down the street together, to stop under a streetlight in the dark, getting lost in those gentle, warm eyes, to kiss him in the cold November air, surrounded by the scent of fallen leaves and faint city noise.
He aches for a connection, anything to make this void in his life more bearable. He's so tired of being alone, now that even his future has abandoned him.
But he doesn't know what to say, is afraid that once he gets to know the man, he will never live up to the image he has built of him in his head.
So maybe, he thinks, it's better to keep dreaming. Maybe it will hurt less in the long run.
Connections can break.
But then, he reminds himself, so can dreams.
His cold fingers draw an asymmetrical pattern on the fogged up window of the bus as he sighs and prepares for another day of being no one at all.
It's a particularly cold day when he steps on the bus to see that all of the seats are taken, except for one, right next to the man.
His heart skips a beat when he notices him looking up, his face as lovely and open as ever when Kurt walks down the aisle and sits down next to him.
This is the closest they have ever been to each other and Kurt feels like his skin is humming with a feeling he has no word for – it's like a need to reach out, to close this last gap, to press his knee to the stranger's knee, take his hand in his own, rest his head on the man's shoulder. From this close, Kurt can smell the fresh scent of cold air and coffee that surrounds him and he breathes deep, a longing so sweet and powerful filling his soul he has to fight back the tears.
He knows he's using the handsome, seemingly polite stranger as a placeholder for what he really wants, what he's yearning for so deeply. But he can't help it.
His heart has always wanted to love so desperately; it's been his biggest curse for as long as he can remember.
All those silly notions of the one great love story, that epic romance he's been dreaming of all his life, they make it so much more difficult for him.
He's so lonely he's projecting it onto some guy he doesn't even know, just because he smiles beautifully and notices someone who takes the same bus every damn day.
Kurt feels lost, hurt, alone.
He wants to say something, anything, wants to give this a try, because no matter the outcome, it can't be worse than this empty shell of a life he's living right now.
But the man next to him is silent, staring at his book without ever turning the page, and Kurt doesn't find any words.
He knows the stranger's stop – of course he does – but he still waits for him to speak up, not wanting to appear as if he'd noticed him too much.
“Excuse me,” the man says, and Kurt wants to stop him, wants to lay a hand on his arm and tell him to stay, to get to know each other, to let him hear his voice for just a little bit longer, because it's soft and rich and it makes Kurt's heart flutter in his chest.
Instead, he gives him a shaky smile, gets up to let him leave, earns an answering smile in return.
He also learns that the stranger's eyes aren't as dark as he thought. They're honey-colored and gorgeous and Kurt sits back down as soon as he's gone, scoots over into the seat the man has just abandoned, and presses his forehead against the cool surface of the bus window.
His palms are sweaty and his heart is racing.
His boss starts taking him to meetings, not because she wants him to participate, but because they need someone to refill their coffee cups every now and then, to get them new pens when theirs run dry, and to otherwise hover in the background and keep his mouth shut.
They have a meeting early this morning and she calls him at home, telling him to bring jelly donuts and pick up her dry cleaning, and buy new coffee and toilet paper on his way to the office.
So Kurt leaves even earlier than usual, shops for the items she requested, except he can't get jelly donuts so he picks a wide selection of everything else. He's already steeling himself for her disapproving look, because he just can't get anything right, can he? He hates that look. Under that look, he feels sixteen again, young and out of place and judged.
He's juggling all the bags and the donut box when he gets on the bus, and a coffee for himself, because he decided he deserved one this morning.
The first empty seat he sees is in front of his stranger and he heads straight for it, dropping the bags onto it with a relieved sigh.
He's just about to sit down when the bus takes off with a jolt and he stumbles, coffee spilling onto his jacket.
“Shit,” he breathes.
Well, it fits the morning he's had. Now his boss has another reason to criticize him. On top of that, he just acted like a clumsy fool in front of the stranger, and that's just what he needed, too – completely embarrassing himself in front of the one man he really wants to impress.
He searches the bags for something to wipe his jacket dry, knowing full well there's nothing in them that will help him.
The voice is every bit as kind as he remembers, and he looks up warily, still expecting to be a source of amusement. But the stranger's eyes aren't laughing, they're caring, concerned. He's holding a small pile of napkins in his outstretched hand.
“Thank you so much!” Kurt takes them, a thrill of excitement running through him as their fingers brush. “You're a lifesaver.”
The man doesn't take his eyes off him, and there's something in his expression that warms Kurt down to his core. “No problem. Your jacket is dark enough, no one will notice.”
Kurt wipes at the stains that aren't really looking so bad, he realizes. “Oh god, I hope.” He discards the used napkins. “I have a meeting in an hour and my boss is a little particular about these things, and I didn't get the jelly donuts she wanted...” he stops, realizing he's telling all of this to a virtual stranger. “Sorry. You don't care about that.”
“No, I do!” The response is so immediate, Kurt looks up in surprise, seeing the shocked expression on the man's face. Apparently, he's surprised at his own words, too. “I mean,” he continues, “I can't even see the stain anymore. I'm sure you will be fine.”
“Thank you,” Kurt repeats. “You know. For the napkins. And the moral support.” And for all the smiles, and the dreams, and the way you made my days brighter without ever meaning to, without even knowing me or knowing that I saw you, he adds in his head.
“Any time,” the stranger says, and it sounds like a promise. One that Kurt wants to believe so badly, it almost makes him choke. And the stranger holds out his hand again, a small, insecure smile on his face. “I'm Blaine, by the way.”
Kurt feels that tug inside again, as if his soul is expanding to envelop this man as well, to make him a part of Kurt. This man who is finally no longer nameless.
Blaine. It suits him. Kurt takes the hand that is offered to him, the feeling of Blaine's warm, soft skin leaving a tingling sensation in its wake.
“Kurt,” he answers.
Blaine removes his bag from the seat next to him, his smile still nervous. “There's no room for you there with all those bags,” he says, gesturing to the empty seat by his side instead.
Kurt isn't sure how to react at first. No one has been this considerate toward him in a long, long while. Eventually, he smiles back, accepts the offer. And as he sits down next to Blaine, keeps talking to him until Blaine reaches his stop (and Kurt has to remind him he's there), he doesn't feel so lonely for the first time in months.
Kurt knows the sun has been rising the same way it always did every morning since he started his new life.
But this is the first morning in months he can actually see light on the horizon, and it's shining out of a pair of warm, golden-brown eyes.