what a crazy random happenstance (alianne) wrote,
  • Mood: exhausted

Fic: Ad Libitum (chapter 6)

Title: Ad Libitum
Rating: R (overall rating)

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.

A/N: So. This one took a while. I'm sorry. But here it is. Just a few things: As always, I'd like to thank ca_te for the cheerleading and support. And mixed_berryjam, without your betaing skillz and your encouragement and patience, I wouldn't have finished this chapter, like, ever. So THANK YOU. <3 To everyone who's reading: thanks for being here, and I hope you enjoy!


**

SIX

It steadily gets colder outside with Thanksgiving fast approaching, and Blaine loves his life at NYADA and in New York a little more every day. Jess, Jonas and Damian are no longer his only breakfast/lunch/dinner companions, more often than not the three of them end up sitting with Kurt and his friends.

Michael seems to have adopted Jess anyway, but Blaine is always glad to see Janet, who's quiet and seems to have a smile and a kind word for everyone, he's always glad to see Kurt of course, Kurt who has the best sense of humor and the nicest smile, and he's slowly getting used to Rachel as well. He had been a little irritated by her at first, but Kurt seems to like her, so he's decided he's giving her a chance. He hasn't met Kurt's second on-and-off roommate Santana yet, but from what both Kurt and Rachel tell him about her, he's not entirely sure he even wants to.

“So, I'm just going to stay here instead,” Michael says. “It's the first Thanksgiving I haven't gone home, but I really have no desire to see my aunt Susie and sit through another lecture about how I just haven't met the right girl yet.”

“That really sucks,” Blaine offers. He's never really had to deal with that kind of stuff, and he's glad. His father may have needed a while to get over the initial shock, his parents don't always get him, but Blaine has always known that when it comes down to it, he has his family's support, and, what's more, their unconditional love. It seems he's really lucky that way.

“Well, yeah.” Michael shrugs from across the table they are sharing with Kurt, Rachel and Jess. “It might be fun, though, to celebrate here.”

“I'm staying too,” Kurt jumps in.

“So am I,” Rachel says. “Plane tickets are so expensive. Kurt and I are saving up for Christmas.”

“You should both come over!” Michael sits up a little straighter. “We can celebrate together! Blaine, Jess, what about you? Are you staying?”

Blaine and Jess exchange a look. “I don't know,” Blaine admits. “I was going to go home, but -”

“I'm going home,” Jess says, sounding almost sad about it. “Fuck. If I had known...”

“Blaine, you have to stay,” Michael begs. “The more the merrier. Bring Jonas and Damian.”

Blaine thinks about it. It's not like he has plane tickets. Cooper was supposed to drive up to New York for a short visit next week and take him home with him for Thanksgiving. He'll have to talk to his parents about it, maybe Cooper can reschedule his visit for the week before Christmas instead … He catches Kurt's gaze, who is smiling at him shyly. And, he thinks, fuck it. “I'll see what I can do,” he promises.

“Awesome!” Michael seems close to vibrating out of his seat with excitement. “This is going to be the best Thanksgiving of all time!”

“Please tell me you're not going to cook,” Kurt says, looking a little terrified.

Michael glares at him. “I'm perfectly capable of preparing a Thanksgiving meal for thirty or so of my closest friends!”

“Whoa, when did this get upgraded to thirty people?” Kurt asks, shocked.

“Well, I'll have to invite John, obviously. And he'll want to bring friends, and we'll have to check with Janet, and she might want to bring some people too, and Blaine? How many people do you think are going to tag along with you and Jonas? Do you think you can still talk Jess into going too?”

“I'm sitting right here,” Jess snaps, waving her hands in annoyance.

“I … don't know.” Blaine shrugs, catching the horrified look on Kurt's face. He knows Kurt isn't a fan of big parties, and while he doesn't mind, he'd prefer to spend the evening with people he knows too. “I don't think we'll bring anyone.”

“Can we limit it to maybe a dozen people?” Rachel suggests. “It'll be crazy expensive to cook for thirty people.”

“Oh.” Michael's face takes on a thoughtful expression. “I hadn't even thought about that. So, do we want the entire Turkey thing? Like, all traditional and stuff?”

“Why not?” Kurt shrugs. “Might as well do it right. Any objections?”

Everyone seems on board with the idea, and Blaine is actually starting to really look forward to it. He'll miss his family, but it does sound like a lot of fun, getting to spend the holiday with his new friends.

“We can do it at our place,” Rachel suggests. “It's easily the biggest apartment.”

Kurt nods. “That might work.”

“Really?” Michael looks touched. “That means I won't be stuck with the clean-up the next day!”

“You'll come over and help us,” Kurt decides in a voice that allows no objection.

“I'll help too, of course!” Blaine offers quickly. “I can help with the cooking too, I used to help my mom all the time.”

“Thank you.” Kurt smiles at him and Blaine's stomach flips at the sight. He lowers his head to smile into his plate of pasta instead.

“That's settled, then.” Rachel takes out her phone. “I'll ask Janet right away. Oh, Santana will be there, of course.”

“I thought she finally really made up with Hayley last night?” Kurt asks, raising an eyebrow.

“She did, but do you honestly think we'll be able to keep her away when there's free food?”

“Good point,” Kurt says, his shoulders slumping a little.

“So I'll finally get to meet the elusive third roommate.” Blaine nudges Kurt's shoulder with his own playfully. “Yay.”

“Don't say that until you've met her.” Kurt smiles at him and this time, Blaine doesn't look away when he smiles back.

**

All the classes seem to get a little harder the weeks before Thanksgiving, and Kurt is more grateful than ever he decided to pick up yoga the year before. It's the perfect outlet for when he feels like everything gets too much, and he has so much on his plate these days with school and all of his friends and the pressure he still feels from wanting to be good at what he does. He's so grateful for the chance to be here, to be able to go after his dreams, but sometimes he's just plain tired.

He's really looking forward to having a few days off. He loves his classes. He just really needs a break from them sometimes.

The night before their improvised little Thanksgiving celebration, Michael comes over to help him and Rachel with the food shopping. Blaine had offered to be there too, always helpful, but Kurt had assured him that three people were more than enough for the job. And since Blaine will already help with the cooking, he'll be there early the next day anyway.

“Are you sure you don't want my help with the cooking?” Michael asks, not sounding as if he particularly wants to help. “I could come over earlier...”

“That's okay,” Kurt assures him. “Blaine and I can manage.” He checks their list again. “So, how many people are we going to be? It's Rachel and me, Blaine, you, Damian, Janet, Santana, Hayley, John … anyone else?”

“Blaine's roommate,” Michael reminds him.

“Jonas, right.” Kurt counts quickly in his head. “Ten people. Sounds okay.”

“Who knew so many people are still going home for the holidays,” Michael sighs. “They don't know what they're missing out on.”

Kurt nods in agreement, even though he still wishes he could see his family. But he really can't afford to fly home for every holiday. He'll see his dad for Christmas. That's good enough. And even though it's still a strange thought to be celebrating this holiday away from home, he can't help but feel a little bit proud of the life he's made for himself in New York. He won't be alone. He's never really alone anymore. And that is something he's been dreaming of for so long, it feels almost unreal sometimes, to actually have it.

**

Kurt is up early the next morning and dresses casually in old jeans and a sweatshirt. He'll change before everyone arrives, of course. But he doesn't want to risk ruining any of his clothes when he'll just be cooking all day anyway. Rachel is still sleeping and Santana finally moved out again, so he has nothing to do but sit around and watch TV, which is a nice change from all the busyness of the past few weeks.

Turns out, he has kind of forgotten how to switch his brain off, though, which isn't all that surprising. He finds himself mindlessly rearranging items on the coffee table, going over the recipes in his head, flipping through a folder of sheet music to pick out his next practice piece. He's almost incredibly grateful when Blaine turns up at ten, half an hour earlier than they had agreed upon.

Blaine's face is flushed and he smiles apologetically when Kurt opens the door. “I'm sorry, I left early because I didn't know if I would find the way without problem, I hope I'm not interrupting anything?”

Kurt waves him inside. “Oh, no. I was bored, actually. Hi.”

“Hi,” Blaine replies, sliding off his jacket, which Kurt takes from him to hang up next to the door.

“So,” he says, as soon as his hands are free again, unsure of how to proceed. He doesn’t often have people over at his apartment, and this is kind of new territory.

“So,” Blaine repeats, shrugging his shoulders, a slightly nervous grin on his face. “This is where you live.”

“It is.” Kurt gestures a hand around the room. “It's … well, this is everything, actually. We don't have walls. I mean ...” he laughs. “We did our best to partition off some sections, but, yeah. That's the kitchen area over there,” he waves his hand to indicate the different spots, “and behind that curtain there is where Rachel sleeps. Like, right now. But don't worry about waking her, it's late enough for her to get up.”

Blaine grins. “Okay.”

“...and that's my 'room',” he puts finger quotes around the word, indicating his curtained off corner of the loft. “Oh, and bathroom's through there. That's everything. It's not much, but -”

“It's amazing,” Blaine says, looking around. “I always wanted to live in a loft. The dorms were just more convenient. But this is a great place.”

“Thank you.”

“Maybe I'll talk Jonas or Jess or someone into moving into our own place next year,” Blaine muses.

“Let me know if you need help moving,” Kurt offers.

Blaine smiles at him, and silence stretches once again. It's just a little awkward, and Kurt is completely unsure of what to do. He's never uncomfortable around Blaine, except for the obvious issue of finding him insanely attractive and not being able to show it. But this shouldn't really be so difficult. “Should we just … get started?” he suggests finally, wanting to break the moment.

“Sure, yes,” Blaine agrees immediately, obviously grateful for having something to do. “Let's begin.”

**

The kitchen area is littered with pots and pans and cutting boards by the time Rachel's head peeks around her curtain.

“Morning, boys.”

“Good morning,” Blaine greets her, looking up from his vigorous chopping.

Rachel blinks around sleepily as she takes a tentative step out of her corner, dressed in ridiculous pink pajamas with cupcakes printed all over them. “Do you need any help?”

“No!” Kurt says immediately, shaking his head emphatically to bring his point across.

“No, thank you, we've got it covered,” Blaine adds, not wanting to make her feel rejected.

“Fine.” She yawns, stretches her arms above her head. “I guess I'll go out for breakfast.” She observes the mess for a minute longer, then nods to herself. “Out. Definitely, yes.”

She emerges again five minutes later, fully dressed, calling out a “goodbye” to them before she pulls the heavy door open and is gone.

“So, now that we don't have to be quiet anymore, how about some music?” Kurt suggests.

“Perfect,” Blaine agrees.

Kurt wanders off in search of his laptop and a few minutes later, they're both back to cooking, only now they're singing along to a random playlist Kurt has thrown together quickly, and, Blaine thinks, this is definitely turning out to be fun.

Have you heard, it's in the stars, next July we collide with Mars,” Blaine sings right at Kurt, who laughs and dances around him to get to the fridge for more butter.

**

“ … and it's like, of course I like the music, but when I watch the movie, I actually want to hear the actors sing, you know? Ugh.”

Blaine laughs. “I like singing along to musicals.”

“Of course you do.” Kurt rolls his eyes at him in a fond gesture. “I should have known you are one of those people.”

“Hey,” Blaine protests. “It's fun!”

“Maybe you should live with Rachel, I'm sure you two would get along great.”

“No!” It comes out a little more panicky than he'd intended, and he laughs it off. “Don't even think about leaving me alone with her!”

“She kind of grows on you after a while,” Kurt says, but he bumps his shoulder against Blaine's at the counter and smiles.

**

“He actually did that?” Kurt looks shocked. “Suddenly I'm really glad I never had an older brother.”

Blaine nods. “I mean, my parents made him take me along, he wasn't too thrilled about it. I think he had meant it as a sort of romantic thing for his new girlfriend, not as a day of him and his girlfriend babysitting his baby brother. I don't even remember her name anymore,” he adds thoughtfully.

“How old were you?”

He thinks quickly. “Like, ten? Nine, maybe?”

“He left a nine-year old alone at an amusement park?”

“It wasn't that bad at first! And he left me by the Grand Carousel, which was always my favorite, but after I'd been on it like twenty times, I got … well, I got bored.”

“What did you do?”

Blaine shrugs. “I sat down somewhere and … waited?”

“Oh my god.” Kurt shakes his head in disbelief, shifting a bit closer at the counter so that Blaine can feel comforting warmth radiating from his body. “You could have been … What if someone had kidnapped you, or ...”

“Nothing happened.” Blaine laughs. “He came back eventually and he bought me ice cream to make it up to me.” He pauses. “I still hated him for a little while. For a nine-year old, it was … scary.”

“Of course it was!” Kurt looks at him, his mouth a tight line with concern for the little boy left alone at Kings Island by an irresponsible older brother.

“Like, I remember at one point this old guy came up to me and asked me where my parents were, and I just … I knew I wasn't allowed to talk to strangers, so I just ran off and hid behind a bench.” He laughs at the memory.

Kurt frowns. “What did your parents have to say about all that?”

“I never told them,” Blaine admits, shrugging. “Didn't seem like that big of a deal anymore once Cooper came back.”

“Oh Blaine!” Kurt leans into him briefly, and Blaine smiles. It's just like Kurt to be so nice about something that stopped bothering Blaine a day after it happened. He'd been a very forgiving nine-year old and Cooper had been extra nice to him the following days. It really hadn't been all that bad.

**

Rachel is back by lunchtime, and she’s carrying a bag with sandwiches in her hand. “Hungry?”

Blaine watches as Kurt snatches the bag from her hand to inspect it, then pulls her into a one-armed hug. “I forgive you for all the times you rehearsed for your Phantom audition after 10pm,” he announces cheerfully. “Thank you!”

Blaine joins them on the couch, accepts the bag after Kurt has picked out his lunch. He is hungry by now, but there had been no room to make lunch anywhere with the preparations for dinner in full swing.

“So, how’s it going?” Rachel asks around a mouthful of sandwich. “Do you need help? My offer still stands.”

“I think we’re almost done,” Blaine says, and Kurt nods.

“Everything under control. But thanks.”

Rachel seems relieved, and Blaine thinks that might have to do with the story Kurt told him about her almost setting the stove on fire the last time she tried to cook - Kurt has mentioned that she’s been somewhat afraid of the kitchen ever since.

“Oh.” Rachel swallows another bite of sandwich before going on. “Santana’s gonna be over in half an hour or so, she’s going to help set everything up.”

Kurt snorts. “You mean she’s looking for an excuse to go through our stuff again.”

“She does that?” Blaine asks. He kind of can’t wait to meet her after all the stories he’s heard.

“Frequently,” Kurt confirms.

“That’s why I have locks on all my drawers now,” Rachel says proudly.

“Yeah, she can pick those.” Kurt fishes another sandwich out of the bag, shrugging almost apologetically at the way Rachel’s face falls.

“That explains why my diary is never in the place I left it...”

“You keep a written record of the insanity in your head when you have someone like Santana around?” Kurt looks at her incredulously.

“I didn’t think she’d -”

“She’s Santana.” Kurt makes it sound like that explains everything.

“I’m not really sure whether I want to meet her now,” Blaine admits, laughing.

“Oh, she’s really not that bad,” Rachel hastens to assure him.

“No, she totally is,” Kurt says, rolling his eyes at Blaine. But Blaine thinks he can hear something like exasperated fondness in Kurt’s voice, so he decides not to worry too much.

They’re almost done eating when the door slides open and Kurt gives Rachel a sharp look. “You were supposed to get the key back from her.”

“I did, I told her -”

“So tell me there’ll be booze tonight,” a voice greets from the doorway.

Blaine can’t help but think that Santana looks nothing like he imagined and exactly like he thought she would. She’s beautiful, no doubt, but the way her eyes immediately zero in on him, squinting, head tilted to the side like she’s assessing him, he can’t deny she's making him a bit nervous.

“Where’s Hayley?” Rachel asks.

“Getting bikini waxed,” Santana answers, waving her hand like Rachel just interrupted something important.

“...didn’t need to know that,” Kurt mutters under his breath.

“Who’s the hobbit?” Santana asks.

“I’m Blaine,” he offers, assuming she’s talking about him.

“Hi Blaine, I’m Santana,” she says, her voice sounding suspiciously honey-like all of a sudden. With a few quick strides she’s over at the couch, squeezing herself in between himself and Kurt, a wide smile on her face and something mischievous glinting in her eyes. “How very nice to meet you.”

“Um, nice to meet you too?” Blaine tries, attempting to catch Kurt’s eyes around her back, but she moves with him as he leans back to do so.

“So, you’re Kurt’s friend.”

Blaine is sure he has never heard someone actually pronounce quotation marks around a word, but when Santana says friend, he can hear them.

“Santana...” Kurt’s voice sounds like a warning, but she quickly turns toward him, patting his knee.

“Relax, Babygay, I’m not going to eat him. Auntie Tana is just making small talk with the newest dwarflord in town.” And with that, she’s facing Blaine again. “So, you and Kurt have this whole Dirty Dancing thing going on, right? How’s that working out for you so far?”

“I - um, what?” Blaine blinks at her, not sure what she’s referring to at first. “Oh. If you mean ... Kurt is helping me with dance. If that’s what you’re talking about.”

“I see, so that’s what kids call it these days.”

“Okay, enough.” Kurt gets up quickly, reaches around Santana for Blaine’s hand to pull him up as well. “We don’t have time for this. And Santana? Please don’t scare off any of our friends tonight?”

“Nice talking to you,” she calls after Blaine, who hurries to follow Kurt back to the kitchen counter.

“I’m sorry about her,” Kurt murmurs as soon as they’re out of earshot. “She’s ... Well, I was gonna say she’s not always like this, but she kind of is. So. Just -”

“It’s okay.” Blaine smiles at him to show him he means it. “She’s ... interesting.”

Kurt looks back at her, shaking his head slowly. “That’s certainly one way of putting it.”

**

Rachel and Santana start cleaning and pushing back any piece of furniture that won’t be needed tonight, piling pillows and blankets around the coffee table for all those of their friends who won’t fit on the couch.

Blaine helps Kurt put the finishing touches on their dinner before they head out to the fire escape for a few minutes, cups of coffee in hand, catching their breath for a little while.

“I think I have never actually cooked for that many people,” Kurt tells him.

“Me either.” Blaine takes a sip of his coffee, leans back against the metal railing, glad to be sitting down for a while. His feet hurt a little from all the standing. “It’s a lot more work than I thought.”

“It was fun, though, right?”

“Definitely!”

They stay outside for a few more minutes until they both start shivering in the November air and Kurt suggests they go back inside to see if the girls need any help.

Between the four of them, everything is set up quickly, and Kurt excuses himself to his room to change his clothes.

Rachel’s phone rings a few seconds later, and that’s how Blaine suddenly finds himself alone with Santana.

He smiles at her, not sure what to actually say. He never has trouble starting a conversation with anyone, but then he has the feeling that he’s never met anyone quite like her.

Santana herself just leans forward in the armchair she had secured for herself, elbows propped on her knees, smiling at him in a way he can’t quite make sense of.

“So, how long have you been in New York?” he finally asks, even though he knows it’s a lame question.

She snorts, grins at him. “If that's a pickup line, I think that first, it could need some improvement, and second, I don't have the body parts you're looking for.”

Blaine stares at her, taken aback for a second. “Excuse me?”

Santana shakes her head, sighs. “Listen,” she says. “I’m sorry about earlier. You seem like a good guy.”

“Thanks?” He’s not really sure how to answer that or where she’s going with this.

“Okay, here’s the deal,” she says. “Judy and Barbra are my family, got that? And I’m loyal to my family. You hurt one of them, you hurt me. And you don’t wanna do that. All right?”

It takes him awhile to decipher her code, but then he nods, looking at her thoughtfully. “It might be more obvious to them that you care about them if you started using their actual names.”

Santana holds his gaze for a minute, then breaks into laughter. “I like you,” she says. And that seems to be the end of that conversation, but the silence is no longer awkward.

He has to admit, he kind of likes her. At least her crazy is straightforward. He thinks he can handle that.

Kurt reappears a minute later, offering Blaine his room to change in. Blaine grabs his bag with the clothes he brought and walks over to Kurt’s curtained off area of the apartment, Santana offering him an almost unthreatening smile a he walks by. He feels like he just made a new friend. A strange and somewhat intimidating friend, but a friend nonetheless.

**

People start arriving about half an hour later, and except for Hayley, who is a lot less scary than Santana, Blaine knows all of them.

There's no table big enough for everyone, so they scatter throughout the apartment, sitting on the floor mostly, plates balanced on their legs. It's improvised and a little messy and chaotic and Blaine loves every second of it. He's always liked the holiday, but he's never celebrated it quite like this. It's fun.

Michael and John brought alcohol and Blaine debates maybe having a beer later – it's been a while since he's had any, mostly just at Warbler parties and he'd felt safe there. He feels safe here too, in Rachel and Kurt's apartment surrounded by friends who are loud and exhausting and wonderful.

Once the food is cleared away, Blaine finds himself sitting on the couch between Kurt and Jonas, listening to Rachel tell the story of her Mamma Mia audition and the complete unfairness of the casting process.

“Seriously, just because she's his niece! I think it was like a done deal from the beginning, and my range is clearly so much better than hers, and, seriously, I was great that day -”

Blaine catches Kurt's gaze, exchanging a smile with him. Kurt lifts his shoulders and shakes his head in quiet amusement.

He's glad he decided to stay in New York.

**

“Well, if we do decide to do karaoke later, I claim Damian as my duet partner,” Michael announces loudly, throwing an arm around him and hugging him to his side, which is no small feat considering Damian is at least twice his size.

Damian shoots a slightly scared look in Blaine and Kurt's direction while he sits very stiffly, not really used to spontaneous hugging.

“What about me?” John, who's actually nice and not as crazy as could have been expected for someone who is Michael's boyfriend, pouts.

“Honey, no offense, but you can't sing,” Michael answers, leaning over to kiss his cheek.

“But duets are so romantic,” John insists.

“I'll sing to you. That'll be romantic too!”

“Fine,” John gives in, cuddling against Michael, sandwiching him between his own body and Damian's.

“If we're claiming duet partners, I get to have Blaine,” Rachel speaks up.

Blaine shakes his head. “I'm singing with Kurt.”

“You are?” Kurt looks at him, apparently not completely against the idea. “What are we singing?”

“I don't know.” He thinks about it. “Let's make it all for one and all for love...” he sings, and Kurt rolls his eyes.

“No.”

Blaine blinks up at him, sticking his bottom lip out. “But it's a good song!”

“Then sing it by yourself.”

“That one needs more than one person!”

“Well.” Kurt smiles. “I guess we'll have to pick something else then, won't we?”

“But, Kurt …”

“You can't actually win when he gets like that,” Rachel informs Blaine with a knowing look.

“Want me to sing to you, baby?” Santana asks Hayley, twirling a strand of Hayley's brown hair around her index finger.

“You know I love it when you sing to me,” Hayley answers, and Blaine is surprised how sweet Santana can actually be.

“And later I'll get you naked make you sing once we ditched these gay hobbits.”

… But apparently her sweet moments don't actually seem to last all that long.

**

Feeling slightly tipsy even though he hasn't even had that much to drink, Kurt slips away from his friends who are spread throughout the loft and opens the window to the fire escape. He just needs five minutes of air and a bit of quiet to clear his head.

It's cold outside, but that's why he and Rachel keep a few random blankets next to the window. He grabs one, wraps himself up as he sits down on the cold metal. He's quite proud of the way the night has gone so far – the food was excellent and he likes every single person that showed up tonight. He's having fun. He still needs just a few minutes away from it all. He's been on his feet all day, preparing and cooking, and he's tired. He's also having a fleeting moment of melancholy, missing the quiet and comfort of his family. By now his dad would probably be asleep in the armchair, Finn snoring on the floor in front of the TV, allowing Carole and him to switch channels to something they actually want to watch...

The street noise dulls the hum of voices from inside, and he shivers in the cold breeze, drawing his blanket tighter around his shoulders.

“There you are,” a voice says behind him, and he sees Blaine climb out the window, surprisingly unsteady on his feet after just one and a half beers.

“Grab a blanket,” Kurt advises, motioning inside to where they are piled on a small bench by the window.

“Oh.” Blaine turns back, picking one. “Yes. Good idea. Thanks.”

He joins Kurt on the fire escape, sitting down just a little too close, but then, it's a small space. They just sit in silence for a while, listening to the soft droning of the city they both love in the background.

“I wanted to thank you,” Blaine finally says.

Kurt looks at him, his profile basked in soft light from the street lamps and the window. “What for?”

“Inviting me,” Blaine says and looks up, a shy smile on his lips. “And … well. Everything, really. You're so nice all the time.”

Kurt shakes his head, grinning. Blaine is adorable when he's tipsy. “I'm not. And you don't have to thank me. For anything.”

“I want to.”

“But you really don't … ”

“Kurt?” Blaine interrupts him, sounding slightly amused.

“Yes?”

“Thank you,” Blaine says. “Just accept it. Please.”

Kurt sighs. “ … okay. Okay, fine. You're welcome, Blaine.” He smiles at him, unable to tear his eyes from Blaine's. They're darker in the soft light of a New York night, but no less intense than usual. A little glassy maybe, his cheeks a little flushed from alcohol and the cold night air.

“I'm really glad I met you,” Blaine says, quiet.

“I'm … Likewise,” Kurt answers. He means it. He really does. It's how much he means it that scares him. Because Blaine's beautiful face is right there next to his, and those eyes, and the smile on those ridiculously full lips … he's in so much trouble, and he's almost too tired, too happy after a wonderful day, to care.

“I had fun today,” Blaine continues, and as innocent as the statement is, it seems dangerous combined with the gentle look in Blaine's eyes.

“I'm glad,” Kurt says, voice a little shaky, his own head spinning with the few drinks he's had and the sheer proximity to the boy he's completely and helplessly crushing on. “Blaine...”

But he doesn't get any more words in before Blaine's lips are suddenly on his, wet and warm and perfect and for a second, he's too overwhelmed to even react. Before he knows what he's doing, he's kissing back, it's like he can't not. It's Blaine. He's thought about him, spent more than one sleepless night imagining what it would be like, wondered what it would feel like if he just let himself.

Now he's getting a glimpse and … it feels kind of wonderful.

It's tender and soft and tentative, just a gentle press of lips before Kurt feels the feeling return to his fingertips and he jerks back, eyes widening with the realization of what just happened.

“Blaine...” he repeats, his heart beating too fast, fear crowding his chest, coldly smothering the brief warmth of comfort and desire.

“I – Sorry,” Blaine whispers, his gaze soft but filled with insecurity. “Sorry, I – was that okay?”

“...I don't know.” It's all he can say. Because, oh god, it was more than okay. It was … amazing. But it's Blaine. And he can't do this with Blaine, he can't do any of this before he hasn't figured stuff out, he can't keep making mistakes.

It's Blaine and Blaine isn't just some handsome guy he has to push from his mind when he finds himself alone at night. Blaine is … Blaine. He's kind and sweet and he makes Kurt laugh even on his worst days, and he's ridiculous and funny and one of the best friends Kurt has ever had, even if they have known each other for no more than a few weeks and … if they do this, he'll screw it up. He can't screw this up. Not this.

“I'm sorry,” Blaine repeats.

“No.” Kurt swallows. “No, I'm sorry, I'm not … You just surprised me.” He has no idea what to do when all he really wants is to sink into Blaine's arms and kiss him until everyone goes home and the sun comes up and the weekend is over and they have to go back to class. He wants it so badly, he's almost shaking with it and this is all so fucked up, and everything's all confused and tangled in his head and he's only had a few drinks, but he never drinks and he can't think.

“Okay,” Blaine says, doesn't look away. There's a softness in his expression that Kurt has never seen before, a quiet tenderness that makes his heart melt against his better judgment.

For a moment, he thinks Blaine is going to kiss him again, but instead, he turns his head away, stares down at his knees. “I'm really sorry, it's just … I've wanted to do that for a while.”

Kurt doesn't know what's expected of him here. He can't break Blaine's heart. And, truth be told, if he were to reject Blaine now, his own heart would break as well. Not that it matters to him much right now. It has been broken so many times in his life and he'd let it break again if it meant having this for just another moment, but this isn't just about him. He can't hurt Blaine.

He doesn't know what to do, doesn't know how to act, doesn't see a way out and when did this become such a mess? Why does everything always have to be so complicated? He hopes that Blaine will just read him, understand what he's saying by not saying anything. Because he can't even make sense of it himself, and he certainly doesn't have the words to explain it to someone else.

It doesn't seem to be working, though, and he feels sick with fear as Blaine takes his hand, slowly, tentatively. Blaine's hand is warm and soft and fits so perfectly in his, and he can't breathe. He sits for a few more seconds, willing his breath to calm, fighting down the panic that's rising in his throat. It's no use.

“We should go back inside.” He jumps up, hand slipping from Blaine's, and shakes his head at the confused look on Blaine's face. He's swaying just a bit on his feet, damn alcohol, but steadies himself quickly. “They'll wonder where we are. We should -”

Blaine gets up too, nodding. “... okay. Okay, good, yes. Of course.”

The look of disappointment is unmistakable on his face, and Kurt feels his chest ache with the knowledge that once again he screwed it all up. This shouldn't be so difficult, why is this always so difficult for him. He grew up unable to trust others, and now, as he's finally growing up, growing into the person he's dreamed of being for so long, it's himself he can't trust anymore.

And that is not something he knows how to simply get over.

**

Blaine follows Kurt back inside through the window, trying to make sense of everything that just happened. He feels … unsure, his mind a little fuzzy around the edges, and he knows that's the beer. Dammit. He shouldn't have done this tonight. He can't shake the feeling that once again, he completely misinterpreted everything and fucked up on an epic level.

But Kurt had been so … so open all day. Laughing and teasing and singing, and standing close and drifting between effortless conversation and comfortable silence. There had been something there, he hasn't imagined all of it. He's sure. And Kurt had kissed him back. He can still feel Kurt's lips, taste his breath. So warm and sweet and perfect and oh god, he hadn't wanted to stop. He wants to kiss Kurt again, even if he is pretty sure right now he won't get that chance any time soon, the way Kurt had reacted.

They rejoin their friends inside the loft, who have apparently not even noticed their absence. Which is probably a good thing. This isn't really something he needs to talk about with any of them.

He really wants to blame it on the beer. He's always been a lightweight. But he knows that's not all it was – he's impulsive. He makes bad decisions and ruins things and he might have just scared Kurt off for good. He hopes not. Kurt is special. Special to him and special in general. Kurt is so amazing. Kurt is one of the best friends he's ever had, and it doesn't matter that they've known each other for barely three months.

“Blaine, Blaine!” Damian waves him over as soon as he spots him. “That Firefly episode where Jayne is a hero in this town … what's it called, the town -”

“Canton,” Blaine offers automatically.

Everyone is gathered around the coffee table, and his former spot on the couch is now occupied by Santana and Hayley who are making out furiously, apparently completely oblivious to anything going on around them.

“That's right. The hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne...” Damian sings, and Janet shakes her head.

“You will never get me to watch that.”

“Oh come on, it's awesome. Blaine, tell her!”

Blaine squeezes himself in between Damian and Janet, since Kurt has already taken a seat on the floor between Rachel and Jonas on the far side of the table. Blaine is actually glad they're not sitting next to each other right now – he knows he has to talk to Kurt about … all of this. But this isn't the right venue, it's not the right time with all these people crowding the apartment. He'll have to catch him later. Preferably when he's feeling less dizzy, but he knows he'll probably not be able to wait that long. Because it's a very real possibility that he actually upset Kurt. He doesn't like that thought. He doesn't like that thought at all.

“It's awesome,” he says dutifully, because, well, it is. He just doesn't really feel like discussing Joss Whedon's genius right now.

He chances a small glance in Kurt's direction – Kurt already appears to be deep in a conversation with Rachel, laughing at something she says. Blaine wonders if he's the only one right now who thinks that Kurt seems almost subdued. He kicks himself mentally once again. He really doesn't know what the hell he was thinking.

“You're so coming over to our next movie night,” Damian tells Janet.

“It's not even a movie, you can't watch Firefly for movie night,” Hayley jumps in, momentarily detaching her lips from Santana's, who, unable to reach her mouth, starts kissing down her neck instead, mumbling against her skin.

“I don't know how you make being a nerd so hot, baby.”

“Talent,” Hayley says, running her fingers down Santana's back.

“Mmm. You got a lot of that in other areas as well.”

“I miss Tom,” Jonas pouts, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

“I guess that means you want me out of the dorm when he gets back?” Blaine has met Jonas' boyfriend a few times by now. He's a good guy.

“Nah, probably gonna stay over at his place.”

“I think we should stay right here for the rest of the night,” Hayley sing-songs, burying her face in Santana's shoulder, who hums contentedly.

“Are they even aware there are people in the room?” Janet asks, staring openly at the girls.

“When they get like this? I think they just don't care,” Kurt answers.

“Damn right,” Santana confirms. “Make sure to watch, take notes, maybe you'll learn something.”

Hayley giggles, and that signals the end of their participation in any kind of conversation for now.

“Did we ever make an actual decision about karaoke?” Rachel asks, eager to sing as always.

“Honestly? I'm way too full to even think about singing,” Damian admits. “I'll never eat again. Or move.”

“Oh my god!” Jonas gasps, feigning shock. “Damian isn't hungry? What is happening to the world?”

“Asshole,” Damian shoots back at him.

“Anyone else?” Rachel looks around hopefully, but no one seems to want to right now.

Blaine is a karaoke enthusiast. He loves it. Seriously. Any chance he can get, he never gets tired of it. But right now... “Sorry, maybe some other time.”

“You could all come with us next Saturday,” Jonas suggests. “It's Callbacks again, you guys like that, right?”

“I could be up for that,” Janet says.

“You guys still hang out with that karaoke group?” Michael asks.

“It's fun,” Jonas tells him, and Blaine nods.

“It really is. You should totally come along next week,” he says. He tries not to look at Kurt as he says it.

“It might be fun,” Kurt says.

And Blaine has to remind his heart to stop beating so fast. Karaoke is a group activity. It's not like this means anything. But it's something. He can't have screwed up too badly if Kurt is still up for karaoke with him. Them. With them. All of them.

“I'm in!” Rachel sits up a little straighter. “In fact, we should start practicing right now! I already have the perfect idea for a -”

“No.” Kurt cuts her off. “Let it go, Rachel,” he adds a little softer.

“But I love karaoke,” she sighs, taking another sip from her … whatever it is she's drinking (it's green and looks a bit like poison). “I love singing. I'm really good at it too.”

Apparently Rachel isn't quite sober anymore either. So at least he's in good company, Blaine thinks. Even if he definitely isn't drunk. Just a little … buzzed. Pleasantly light-headed in the way he usually likes, except when it makes him kiss boys he's kind of in love with and who clearly just want to be friends with him.

He lets the conversation go on around him for a few minutes, careful to keep his focus on Damian, Janet, Michael, all of his friends except Kurt, even though he still keeps watching him out of the corner of his eyes. He has to apologize. He has to explain. He wishes he had a rule book for these things. He's not good at making it up as he goes along, but it seems that's the way his entire life is always going no matter how carefully he plans it. At some point, it kicks you in the shins, takes all of your carefully thought-out plans and runs off in the opposite direction.

He takes the opportunity when Kurt gets up to get more drinks for everyone, scrambling to his feet in a hurry and almost kicking Janet in the head in the process. “Let me help you!”

Kurt smiles at him, waits until Blaine gets to his feet and they walk the few feet across the loft together.

Blaine waits until they're out of earshot before stepping a little closer to Kurt. “Listen, about what happened ...”

“It's okay, Blaine.” Kurt doesn't look at him, busies himself with opening another bag of chips and filling them into a bowl.

Blaine grabs some peanuts, starts filling them into a smaller bowl to have something to do, to help. “ … we should probably talk about it.”

Kurt nods, glancing over quickly, still not quite meeting Blaine's eyes. “Yes. But … can we wait? Like, can you stick around after everyone leaves? Or meet me for coffee tomorrow.”

“Coffee sounds good.” Blaine regrets it the second the words are out of his mouth, but he can't take it back now. He'll have to go to sleep anxious and wondering about what this all means.

“Okay.” Kurt opens the fridge, hands Blaine a few bottles of beer before grabbing a few himself.

“So we'll talk tomorrow?” Blaine asks.

“We will. But just because … because I don't want us to – I don't want this to be weird. Us. I don't want us to be … weird.”

“I don't want that either,” Blaine confirms. “And I'm really -”

“It's okay, Blaine,” Kurt assures him. “We're okay.”

“Good.” Blaine smiles, and almost believes Kurt.
Tags: fanfiction: glee, fic: ad libitum, pairing: kurt/blaine
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