Fic: Ad Libitum (chapter 2)
Rating: all audiences for now, but it will definitely go up later
Summary: What if Kurt and Blaine had never met in Ohio? What if Blaine, just starting his first year at NYADA, instead happens to run into him in a hallway of a performance school in New York? This is a story about how they meet, and everything that brought them there, and everything that happens from that point on.
Author's Note: Chapter 2! Here it is! I always feel like I need to use the Author's Notes to explain everything I write because I always have a hard time knowing when to let go of a chapter and let you guys read it. But, well. Here it is.
Again, so many thanks to mixed_berryjam for the beta, I wouldn't post anything without you! And ca_te, thanks for the support! I wouldn't even have written anything without you! You are both The Best! *hugs*
Kurt waits and tries not to appear too impatient as Rachel takes her time choosing between two brands of soy milk. He understands the importance of getting even those small things just exactly right, he's the same way, it's not that he's judging her. It's just that he has homework and he hasn't eaten since that insanely early lunch, and they still have to carry all their bags about five blocks and up that flight of stairs to their apartment, and he'd really like to get going. Like, five minutes ago.
“Rachel...” he warns, as she picks a carton, examines it, and puts it back for the third time.
“We're almost out of sugar and I ate the last of the cereal this morning,” she answers, picking up a carton of the other brand, turning it over in her hands as if she hasn't memorized the differences between the two months ago.
“If I go get that, will you be done here by the time I get back so we can finally go home?” Kurt asks, leaning on the shopping cart because his boots are new and they pinch. He's survived a long day in them, and he deserves to be home now to take them off, as good as they look on him.
Rachel just hums, which he interprets as agreement, and he sighs and turns, leaving her to the challenging task of deciding between ten cents cheaper versus slightly better taste.
Most days, breakfast is the only meal they really eat at home. A lot of the time, the dining hall is a lot more convenient, and then there's the fact that he doesn't trust Rachel's cooking and is usually too exhausted from his days to want to do it himself. And the food at NYADA isn't bad. There's the added bonus that it counts as having a social life to have dinner and lunch with classmates.
Somehow, college is a lot more time-consuming than he had expected. At least it is the way he does it, which is the only way he knows how – giving it everything he has, still looking for challenge in a place that already is a challenge in itself. He got in because he's talented, but also because he's worked hard, never gave up. He knows it. Being good at it is not something he has ever doubted, it is not something he has ever allowed himself to doubt. But he has been doing this long enough, knows himself well enough, to be very (sometimes painfully) aware of how unique his talent is, how unusual he still is in a place that is made of and bursting at the seams with eccentricity.
“Oh, I want orange juice,” Rachel calls after him.
“Okay.” He waves back at her, indicating he's going to get that too.
Kurt has never thought of himself as eccentric, it's not who he is. He's just a boy, one who knows his own mind and abilities, but still just a guy. It's this gift he's been given that sets him apart from all the tenors and underwear-ad leading-man frat-boy types. It seems unfair sometimes that he's still the one to stick out for all the wrong reasons when he's met people here who are downright certifiable (he's had a guy in his class who, in all seriousness, brought a friend to class to open doors for him during flu season so he didn't have to touch the door handles – apparently he was hoping for a callback for an off-Broadway production of Chicago). And no one even blinks an eye at all of their crazy, when, at the same time, his clothes and his voice and even his face are still things people feel the need to comment on.
He makes it a point not to care. He's had years of practice at it, and, really, it's nothing compared to high school. Sometimes, it still stings, because this is New York and he was supposed to just fit right in, but then deep down he's always been enough of a realist to not expect this world to offer him a place where he would just be like everybody else. And he doesn't want to be. It's not that. He just wonders what it would feel like, sometimes, to not always feel it this much, his own uniqueness.
He gets the sugar, gets the cereal he likes instead of the one that's a dollar cheaper because sometimes you have to let yourself have good things, and goes back to find Rachel. Rachel who has, thank god, finally made a decision and is waiting for him to bring back the shopping cart, loading too many cartons into it as soon as he wheels it up to her. And he just knows he's going to be the one who'll be carrying it up the stairs. He doesn't say anything, just rolls his eyes at her.
They pay and walk the few blocks home, Rachel chatting away about that guy in her dance class who she totally thinks will ask her out any day now and she doesn't even know if she's ready yet, and didn't she swear to herself that she would just focus on her career for a while, but she totally knows that Brody is dating someone else and if he can then so can she...
...And Kurt listens, nods when it's appropriate, agrees with her when she says there are more important things than boys at this point in their lives, aren't there? Because he knows that Rachel Berry will do what Rachel Berry wants, she doesn't need him to protect her. He still wants to, and he thinks it really might be the wisest choice to not just jump right into the next relationship after the Brody-disaster. But he also knows he won't be able to stop her if she does. He'll be there to pick up the pieces if it goes wrong and vacate the apartment on chosen nights if it goes right. That's what friends do. That's what he does for his friends.
They haul their bags up the stairs and Rachel unlocks the door, still going on about that boy in her class, and Kurt decides they need to go out with friends that weekend. Fun friends. The kind who don't flaunt their relationships or try to set you up all the time. Not that they have many of those, Michael being the one exception, and he's mostly harmless if you know how to bitch-glare him into silence. He'll have to start organizing tomorrow, get a small group together. Rachel needs to hang out with people who will take her mind off her ex-boyfriend, she needs to have a little fun that doesn't involve guys and relationships. Maybe Callbacks, he thinks. Because there's karaoke involved and if he can get Rachel on a stage, he knows boys will be the furthest thing from her mind. Performing, that is the one true love of her life. They have that in common. Maybe that's why they stayed friends through all of this.
Blaine finds an empty practice room again that night, but he's not really in it when he starts singing this time.
That dance class has been his first real setback since he arrived here, and it has thrown him a bit. Not because he expected to be perfect in all of his classes, but because of the way Ms July's assessment of his dance moves had felt like the floor disappearing beneath his feet, the cold shock of embarrassment disrupting the signal between brain and feet, making him trip and stumble even worse than he had before. Which, in turn, had earned him more sneers, more uncalled for comments on his size, his posture, even his hair, and he fails to see how any of that is even relevant to anything he'd been supposed to do in that class.
What throws him even more is the realization of how much it still gets to him, being singled out and ridiculed for something that is entirely beyond his control and no fault of his own.
It also hurts that she didn't even give him a chance. He knows he's not an expert at dance, but he hadn't thought he was seriously that bad. He doesn't believe that he is, but she hadn't picked on anyone else the way she'd done with him. It just … doesn't feel good. But there's nothing he can do but work hard on getting better.
Even though he's not really in the mood, he makes himself stay in that practice room for a full half hour, singing unaccompanied tonight because sitting at the piano cuts off his air. Hearing his voice without the safety of the background music, be it a piano or an all-boys choir in blue blazers, is weird at first, but it helps, because he really hears himself.
Eventually, he sits down on the piano bench anyway, just humming the interval between two notes he just doesn't manage to get quite right, feeling distracted and like he's supposed to be elsewhere. He's just too antsy tonight, he doesn't even know why. Maybe he should take up running, he thinks. He's seen some students run around campus, he's even seen the poster on the bulletin board advertising a running group. He's never thought about running as a group sport before, it seems more like a solitary activity to him. Just himself and the fresh air, headphones on and pushing himself until his legs burn and the endorphins really kick in. He could try that. Maybe he will. He's never been a runner, but it does sound fun and college is for trying new things, isn't it?
Sighing, he decides to give up the practice room for tonight. He knows he's lucky to have found an empty one two nights in a row – for the number of students there really aren't that many and he supposes people will start fighting over them once classes really pick up.
Walking back to his dorm he passes another poster someone has put up, inviting all interested students to participate in a student-run yoga group, 'just for fun, previous knowledge helpful but not required.' He stops to look at it for a minute, contemplating the idea. It has never really crossed his mind before, but … it could be fun. Maybe. They meet Thursdays at six pm and it just so happens that his last class ends at four, so he could. Check it out. If he wanted to. It might not be an entirely bad idea. Because this, what he's doing here? It's been a few days and he can already tell that it's going to be a lot. It's been days and he's still shaking with nervous excitement, everything so big and so different and so unlike everything he's used to.
He still likes it here, but … There are so many firsts. First time he's really on his own. Living … well, with a roommate, but essentially, he's responsible for himself now. First time he's chosen where he wants to be. Not running from, but toward something, and it's something he really wants. First time he feels like he's really growing up, and he expected people to expect less of him when he did, when his choices were really his choices. But now that he's here, he still feels like he needs to prove it, that he chose right. Otherwise he'd not be meeting people's expectations again. He wouldn't be meeting his own. So many firsts, and it's slightly overwhelming.
Yoga is supposed to be calming, isn't it? Well, if he still thinks it's a good idea by Thursday, he'll go. The poster says there's no need to sign up, just show up and wear something comfortable. So it's not like he has to decide right this minute.
But the more he thinks about it, the more he likes the idea. Because it does sound like fun, and the only sport he's ever done is boxing, and this seems like the exact opposite approach. New things. Yes, it really might be a good idea. So he'll think about it.
Jonas is already in the room when Blaine gets back, sitting on his bed with his laptop on his thighs.
“Did you know that there's an actual karaoke group here?” he asks, as soon as Blaine enters.
“What?” Blaine dumps his bag next to his desk, sitting down in his chair to open his own laptop.
“Yeah, they, like, meet and … I don't know, just sing karaoke. A bunch of people studying to be on stage, and in their free time they hang out on a stage together.”
Blaine shrugs. “It sounds cool.”
“Dude, it's like...” Jonas thinks about it for a second. “It's like mechanics who work on cars in their free time. Like a vet who has like a miniature zoo at home, like...”
“I guess everyone who gets in here is just really passionate about music?” Blaine says. “I think it sounds great.”
“Do you maybe wanna go check it out this weekend?” Jonas suggests, looking up.
“Weren't you just making fun of it?” Blaine grins over at him.
Jonas shrugs it off. “Doesn't mean it can't be entertaining.”
“Okay, yes, let's check it out,” Blaine agrees. It does sound like something he might enjoy. Singing for fun. So he won't forget why he's here. He loves to sing.
“Great!” Jonas turns back to his laptop and so does Blaine. He has an email from Cooper he hasn't answered yet.
It turns out that Jonas has a boyfriend, one who's at his second year at NYU, and so Thursday afternoon Blaine is asked, very politely, to maybe stay out of the room until at least ten that night.
He smiles, says it's not a problem. It isn't. He may not have someone himself right now, but he's in New York and maybe one day Jonas can repay the favor. Maybe one day Blaine will be the one to want a room to himself (and someone else) for a night, and besides, he'll find ways to entertain himself.
He texts Damian first (want to hang out tonight?) and only has to wait a few minutes for a response. (Been invited to video game night in the next room, wanna come?)
Blaine … doesn't specifically have anything against that sort of entertainment, but somehow, he's not in the mood for it tonight. So he declines, politely, and sends off a quick text to Jess, asking her if she wants to grab coffee later.
Late class today, insanely early class tomorrow, sorry, she texts back. Raincheck, tho?
Of course, Blaine replies, and sits down on his bed, rests his elbows on his knees, bumping the phone off his chin absentmindedly as he goes over the few other names he's memorized yet. He knows a few people, he likes most of them well enough, but he doesn't know if there's anyone he could find on short notice to hang out with him for an entire night. Maybe he should just go to Damian's thing...
Or, he remembers, yoga. He'd said he'd try it if he still thought it was a good idea by Thursday, and now, with his room occupied and his friends busy, it seems like an even better idea. Not only a place to spend Thursday night, but also an opportunity to meet even more new people. Yes, he could definitely do that. He thinks about it for another minute, letting the idea settle. The more he thinks about it, the more he wants to try.
So he drops the phone onto the bed and gets up to walk over to the closet, finds his sweatpants and a t-shirt and lays them out on his bed for later before he sits back down at his desk to use the rest of his afternoon to get started on his homework.
Jonas is picking his boyfriend up from the subway and he'd said they might go for some coffee first, so they have agreed he'll text Blaine when they're on their way back to let him know to get out.
It's just after 5:30 when the text comes through (on our way. Thanks, man, I owe you one.) and Blaine closes his laptop, strips off his clothes quickly to dress in sweatpants and t-shirt. He only takes his phone and a book, because he'll probably still have some time to kill after yoga before he can get back in the room, and heads out.
He's been here a few days now and he rarely gets lost anymore. He mostly knows where he's going by now, so finding his way to the room is not a problem. It's a little early by the time he gets there, so he sits down on a bench in the hallway, unlocks his phone to check if he has any new messages. There are no new texts, but Jeff has posted a picture of himself and his roommate on Facebook, and Blaine smiles. He's glad to see his friends are settling in at their new schools as well. Some days, he really misses them, all of them, and while he's sure he'll do well enough here, he doesn't know if it will ever be possible to recreate this feeling of family he had with most of The Warblers. It was special. It was exactly what he needed, and he'll be always grateful for that school, for the support from the other students he had so desperately needed back then.
More students arrive and Blaine puts his phone away, doesn't want to appear unsociable. There are a few faces that look vaguely familiar from passing them in the hallways before, but most of them he has never seen. They arrive alone or in pairs and most of them head right inside, so Blaine gets up off his bench as well to enter the room. He's strangely excited, because he really has no idea what's waiting for him. He knows some things about yoga, but not enough to have any idea of what he's really supposed to be doing.
There are soft mats already covering the floor and two girls in black yoga pants sitting cross-legged in a corner, noting things down on a clipboard. Blaine assumes they are the organizers of this little group.
“Hi,” he greets upon entering, a few faces turning and smiling at him. They are all of them still in that awkward stage of a new group meeting for the first time, everyone staying mostly close to the walls, sliding glances at each other to work out who's best to talk to. Only a small gathering of three already having found each other, talking in low voices and smiling the way people do who are in the process of making new friends.
Blaine is about to walk over to the guy a few feet away, the one who is stretching his arms while observing the room, to maybe start a conversation, when his eyes fall on the newest arrival. A boy slightly taller than him with amazing hair and soft black pants that look like they were tailored for him. He knows that boy.
“Kurt.” He has said his name before he can stop himself, doesn't even know if Kurt will remember him too. They've ran into each other twice, had no more than maybe two minutes of conversation combined, but Blaine is still excited to see him again.
“Oh. Hey.” Kurt smiles at him and actually walks over, and Blaine mentally congratulates himself for the decision to come here tonight. He did want to meet more people, and if he can maybe actually get to know Kurt, who was so nice to him that day... “Blaine, right? How are you doing?”
Blaine grins. “Fine, thank you. And hey, I found my way here all on my own.”
Kurt grins back, like Blaine's ridiculousness is amusing him. “It is confusing at first, isn't it? I got lost all the time my first year.”
“Well, I'm slowly figuring it out,” Blaine answers. “I haven't been late to a single class since Tuesday.”
“Two days to find your way around. I'm impressed.” Kurt slides his bag off his shoulder to carefully lean it against the wall. “I must admit, it took me a little longer than that.”
“Well, it's not like I don't get lost, I've just decided that making a fool out of myself by asking people is better than having my teachers glare at me all the time because I'm late,” Blaine explains. It's true, and for the most part people have been very nice about his lack of direction. No one has been as nice as Kurt, though.
“Sometimes, getting lost is the best way of getting to know a place.”
“True. I mean, if I hadn't completely lost my way yesterday, I would never have discovered that kiosk with the really amazing coffee...”
“The one by the administration office?” Kurt asks.
Blaine nods enthusiastically. “That's the one. Their coffee is just...”
“...incredible,” Kurt supplies. “Oh my god, I know, they make the best mocha in the whole of...”
“I seriously had given up any hope of getting a decent cup of coffee anywhere on this campus. I mean, that stuff they have in the dining hall isn't exactly -”
“No, I know.” Kurt shakes his head in disgust. “They shouldn't even be allowed to call it coffee, not when there's that just a few minutes away.”
“God, I love coffee,” Blaine sighs, because, well, it's the truth.
“I've never been much of a coffee drinker before I started college,” Kurt says. “I liked it, but now I need it.”
“I don't know how I'd get through most days without it,” Blaine agrees, grins. “I may have a problem.”
“Well.” Kurt smiles in that warm way again that Blaine has already decided he likes and shrugs. “That's what yoga is for, after all. Calming down after a day of drugging yourself to a state of hyperactivity.”
“Oh, I've never done yoga before,” Blaine confesses. “I hope I'll be able to keep up with all of you.”
“I'm pretty new to it too,” Kurt reassures him. “Only started last year, I heard about this group and I had always wanted to try, so...”
“That's why I'm here.” Blaine shifts on his feet so he can lean against the wall, looks up into Kurt's face which really is almost unfairly handsome. “And I have no idea what yoga even is really. So. This will probably be the second time I'm an idiot in front of you.”
Kurt laughs. “You have to stop saying that, it wasn't that big of a deal, Blaine. You're not expected to know everything on your first day here.”
The two girls on the other end of the room get up and step in front of the group and Blaine forces his eyes away from Kurt's smiling face and the sparkle in those … gray? (blue? green?) eyes, to pay attention. Even if Kurt says it's okay, and even if not being perfect at it won't stop him from having fun, he still wants to learn something and do this right.
They start slow and at first Blaine gets the impression that yoga is all about sitting and stretching. But after about twenty minutes of it he can feel the exertion, his muscles starting to … not ache, but he's just suddenly very aware that he has them and they might start hurting at some point if he keeps this up for a longer period of time.
He glances over at Kurt who's still next to him, looking not at all like someone who's only been doing this a year. He's graceful and there's a determination behind his movements that Blaine envies. It's like Kurt's in control of his own body, while Blaine feels like all he's doing is try to not tip sideways when one of the girls corrects his position into something that feels even more awkward and wrong. Yoga is weird.
And yet... And yet he kind of likes it. It's elegant. It's fun. It's something that he maybe, possibly, wants to do again. He definitely sees the appeal.
By the end of the class, he does feel kind of exhausted, but in an entirely good way. He'll definitely come back next week, because he does feel relaxed, calmer than he'd been all week.
“So?” Kurt asks, as they help the girls to roll up the mats and put them away. “What's the verdict?”
Blaine hands another mat over to Annie who is putting them away into the storage closet hidden behind the wall. “I like it.”
“I'll definitely be back.”
Kurt smiles, bends down to pick up another mat.
Blaine quickly checks his phone, sighs. “I only wish it would have gone on a little longer, now I have to find something else to entertain me for at least another three hours...”
“My roommate has his boyfriend over and I'm kind of exiled from the room tonight.”
Kurt hands off the next mat, stands up and straightens his back. “I'm sorry. I've been there.”
“I don't mind,” Blaine hurries to say, because he doesn't, he understands. “I just...”
Kurt looks at him for a second, bites his lip as if he's not sure how the next words out of his mouth will be received. “I'm headed for the kiosk with the good coffee we talked about earlier, I still have a long way home and stuff to work on tonight. If you wanted to you could … I mean, it won't take three hours, obviously, but...”
“I'd love to,” Blaine interrupts, happily excited. He'd really like to have some company for a little while longer. And any opportunity to spend more time with Kurt … he'll take it. “Coffee sounds great right now.” He knows he'll have to cut back on the caffeine sometime soon, but just one cup won't hurt. And he can talk to Kurt some more. It sounds perfect.
Kurt beams, a smile that is both shy and confident and Blaine doesn't know anyone else who can smile like that. He gets the feeling that he's been incredibly lucky to have run into someone like Kurt his first week here.
So. Apparently he's having coffee with Blaine now. Kurt is a little surprised at himself, because he doesn't do this. Not with people he doesn't know. And he really doesn't know Blaine, they've run into each other a few times and their yoga mats were next to each other, that doesn't really make them friends or anything. It just feels like the natural thing to do, offer Blaine a few more minutes of company since he can't go back to his room right now, and he's new here, he probably doesn't already have that many people he could turn to at a moment's notice. And he's so nice with his easy smile and the polite-open way he talks to people, it doesn't seem fair that he should feel alone.
Kurt chooses his friends carefully. It's taken him forever to become friends with Rachel, and even longer to really trust Finn, who is now not only his brother but also one of his best friends, even if they don't see each other that often anymore. The friends he has in college, he called them 'friends' early on because they went to karaoke together and ate together and sat together in class. But it wasn't until the end of his first semester that he started thinking of them as friends deep down. Opening himself up to someone, opening up the real him, the him that is more than the parts he lets the world see, is difficult for him, always has been. He doesn't know when it started, but he knows he's been hiding behind sarcasm and a show of strength he doesn't always feel for a long, long time. It was either that or admit how much it hurt to have people look at him the way they did all through his teenage years.
He's so used to pretending he doesn't need people that sometimes he still finds it difficult to ask for anything from anyone. It's less fear of rejection, it's more that he's told himself for so long he's better off on his own that the very idea of actively making others a part of his life seems … just a little too much.
Okay, all he's asking is if Blaine wants to walk next to him on his way to get a cup of coffee and exchange random comments about school and the weather (it is unseasonably cold for this time of year), but it still surprises him, a little. That he's asked. He just … he doesn't feel like Blaine is going to make him regret it. As much as Kurt has had to stay away from people all his life, he still feels pretty competent at reading them. Maybe because he's been an observer for so long. And Blaine, well, he has the feeling that they actually could be friends. At some point. Maybe. He doesn't need more friends, not really. He's not that lonely little boy anymore. And maybe this isn't even what Blaine wants from him. Which is why he's still guarding himself, careful about how much he gives away. But … oh god, it's just a cup of coffee.
For no other person at this school, hell, on this planet, would it be a big deal. You sit next to each other in class, you talk, you say “oh hey, let's grab a cup of coffee,” and then you go your separate ways. To most people, it doesn't mean what it means to Kurt. Which is … it is a big fucking deal and he'll freak out about it later and dissect his spur-of-the-moment decision until he's looked at it from every angle imaginable. But right now, it's not the time to behave like someone who wasn't allowed to have friends until he was eighteen.
Right now, Blaine is waiting for him by the door, perfectly gelled hair curling a little at his temples from the workout.
He holds the door open when Kurt walks over, motions for him to go through first, and it's such a silly-sweet gesture of politeness, Kurt can't help but smile at him.
Blaine smiles back. “Thank you for keeping me company.”
“You're welcome. It's nice to meet someone who appreciates a good cup of coffee.”
Blaine walks next to him, his steps as easy and light as the smile on his face. “So, when you say you have a long way home, does that mean you don't live on campus?”
Kurt shakes his head. “Oh, no, I don't. I live in Bushwick with my friend Rachel. It means having to get up earlier, but it also means more privacy, so it's worth it.”
“Does she also go to school here?”
“Yes, but I actually still know her from high school. We were in glee club together.”
“I was in glee club, too!” Blaine sounds so delighted, Kurt has to look at him, watch the way his eyes light up as he smiles. “I loved it. I think it's what made me realize I wanted to be a performer. I mean, I always liked music, but...”
“It sort of becomes clearer when you're actually doing it,” Kurt agrees. “When you get to try it and just realize...”
“...that it's exactly what you want to do with your life.”
“Yes. I think I've always known, it's why I joined glee club in the first place, but it was still important to me. It was...” he only place in that whole damn school where I ever felt like I actually belonged, he wants to say, but presses his lips together instead. It's too personal a topic for their easy conversation.
“I know what you mean,” Blaine says, and Kurt wonders if it's maybe true. He doesn't know where Blaine comes from, what his high school experience was like. From the excited way he keeps talking about it, it must have been better than his own.
“...and of course college is different, but I still think if it hadn't been for The Warblers...”
“There was a glee club we almost competed against once that was called The Warblers,” Kurt says. “I didn't know it was such a popular name for glee clubs.”
Blaine grins. “Well, mine was in Westerville, Ohio,” he says. “I don't -”
“No! No way!” Kurt stops in his tracks for a second, Blaine walking on until he realizes Kurt is no longer beside him and turns to look back, eyebrows raised in question. “You're one of those Warblers?”
“Yes?” Blaine says, confusion crossing his face before he catches on a millisecond before Kurt says it.
“I'm from Lima. McKinley. I was in the...”
“New Directions. Oh my god.” Blaine's grin is so big it almost seems to split his face. “We heard stories about you. You won Nationals that one year.”
“I almost transferred to Dalton in my junior year,” Kurt says. “We couldn't afford it, but I … oh my god.” He imagines meeting Blaine back then. Imagines, again, going to a school where he wouldn't have had to jump at the sound of a locker being shut, where he wouldn't have had to feel his way around corners, avoiding the crowd in red jackets with slushies in their hands and too much hate in their hearts. He had dreamed of it, oh god, so many sleepless nights when he just couldn't get his mind to shut up, when he already felt the rock settle in his stomach that used to weigh him down every morning when he got up with the thought of going back there, being there, being judged for things beyond his control...
“It's too bad you didn't transfer, we could have been friends all this time,” Blaine says, and the sound of it, the easy way Blaine says it like there's no question in the world that he would have just accepted Kurt into his life, no judgment, no prejudice...
His throat goes tight and it's like needles in his chest, the memory of the lonely boy he used to be. No one to ever really understand, to really get what it means, being him. His few friends had tried, but they hadn't been … they just hadn't known.
He doesn't even know if Blaine is gay. He's pretty sure, but he might be wrong. Still, whether he actually is or not, the way he talked about his roommate, the way he just vacates his room so some boy he doesn't even really know yet can have his boyfriend over … Whether Blaine is gay or not, Kurt gets the feeling that he wouldn't have treated him any differently either way. He might have had a friend who'd really seen him, for once. Who wouldn't have cared, wouldn't have thought up a new category for him, Kurt-who-is-gay instead of just Kurt. He's proud of who he is. That doesn't mean he wants to wear it like a tattoo on his forehead, doesn't mean he wants it to be used by other people to define who he is. He loves and dreams the same as everyone.
He catches up with Blaine and they keep walking, and Kurt can't help picturing Blaine in the blue blazer. He'd researched everything about that school, spent hours browsing the website and mentally inserting his own face into all those pictures of smiling boys going about their daily lives at school.
“I can't believe you're from Ohio too! But yes, I can imagine you at Dalton.”
“Is it the hair?” Blaine asks, sighing playfully. “I've been informed that I have private school hair, whatever that is.”
Kurt laughs. “No, it's … well, okay. The hair is definitely part of it.” It's more, though. It's like another piece of the Blaine puzzle fitting into place – the politeness, the seriousness, the careful but open way he treats people. He's so unlike the Neanderthals from the football team. If he weren't, Kurt would never have asked him to go for coffee. “But, I don't know, I just think you kind of fit there.”
“I loved it there.” The way Blaine says it, Kurt doesn't doubt it for a second. “It was … I loved it.”
He has the feeling that Blaine wants to say more, and he wants to hear it, he wants to hear everything. Wants to know what it is he missed out on, but he also wants to know Blaine, wants to know more about what goes on in his head. He doesn't ask. He's not ready to share his own story, and he has no right to ask for more from Blaine.
Blaine tells him about The Warblers, and Kurt tells him about that time (one of the times) they decided to do original songs and ended up writing them more or less the night before the competition. Blaine laughs at his story, so interested to hear about the way Kurt's glee club worked. From his own stories, being in The Warblers must have been so different, so much less chaos, and yet Blaine's excitement about what Kurt tells him makes Kurt see his own glee club in a new light. Because yes, given what they had to work with, they were pretty awesome.
They get their coffee, and even though Kurt knows he should head home and get started on his reading for tomorrow, he stays a few more minutes, sits down on a bench outside with Blaine to keep talking just a little more. It's been a long time since he's met someone who's just so easy to talk to. If he really thinks about it, he's never met anyone who's been that easy to talk to. Which makes it almost more complicated than it is with anyone else he's ever met, because there are times he almost has to remind himself to not let his guard down so much, to not get too carried away. He doesn't know Blaine. He wants to trust him, almost believes that he can. But … he doesn't know. He can't know.
“...and I believe that Mr Schuester really tried, but still, we once did an entire week dedicated to Journey, several actually, and that wasn't even the worst.”
“We had a council,” Blaine says. “They were responsible for song selection and everything else. I guess that's why we mostly did things we could all relate to, you know, because the people choosing it for us were actually us. Well, not all of us, but...”
“That sounds fantastic. I don't know if it would have worked for us, Rachel and Santana might have killed each other and I don't even want to know what would have happened if Puck had been in charge of song selection, but … no, well, it probably wouldn't have worked for us. I'm still kind of jealous. I'd really like it if my high school experience had never involved boys against girls competitions.”
“We definitely didn't have those. All-boys school. And it's not like we had total freedom, I wouldn't have wanted to witness anyone coming between Wes and his gavel.”
Kurt checks his phone, because he really doesn't want to go, but he does have homework and an early class tomorrow. “I should...” he starts.
“Oh, of course, don't let me keep you.” Blaine jumps up immediately, all good manners and bright smile.
“I'm sorry for leaving you like this, but...”
“No, it's no problem. I brought a book, I'll just go to the library or something. Thank you for the … Thanks for hanging out with me.”
Kurt hikes his bag over his shoulder, half-full paper cup in one hand, and the smile comes automatically as he meets Blaine's eyes. “It was nice. I guess I'll … see you around, then.”
“Oh, yes, sure.” Blaine nods. “At yoga, for sure. Or maybe I'll lose my way again and bump into you somewhere.”
Kurt feels his smile widen into a grin, takes a sip of his coffee to hide it. “You can find your way back to your dorm, right?”
Blaine looks left and right, his shoulders twisting with the movement of his head, pretending to look confused. “I'm sure it's … somewhere in this city...”
“Good night, Blaine.” Kurt has no choice but to laugh again, he's been doing that a lot tonight.
“Good night, Kurt,” Blaine answers, shoves one hand into the pocket of his sweatpants, raises the other to salute Kurt with his coffee cup. “It was nice talking to you. Thank you again.”
Kurt can feel Blaine's eyes on his back as he walks away. He's had so many eyes on his back over the years, but this time, he waits in vain for the cold shiver between his shoulder blades, the tensing of his muscles as his body expects to be slammed sideways into a locker. He knows Blaine is watching, he knows he still doesn't know Blaine, and yet there is nothing uncomfortable about the situation. A year in New York and a number of guys who have looked at him in completely unthreatening ways, and it still shocks him more to not feel threatened than the disapproving looks ever did. He wonders if it will ever stop.
For now, relaxed from yoga and pretty certain he is well on his way to making a new friend, he kind of enjoys it.