Five months later.
Blaine sits on the couch in the Hudson-Hummel’s house and lets his gaze trail over the various knick-knacks scattered throughout the room. He has always admired how seamlessly two families and all their possessions and sentimentalities can integrate into something so natural and homely. He thinks of the front room in his house, the untouched furniture and neutral artwork reserved for guest’s eyes only and almost feels sad, but then he thinks of the newly-instated pictures of himself on his father’s desk and smiles, especially when he remembers how eagerly his dad had offered to drop him off at Kurt’s this morning.
Burt had even invited his dad in for coffee, but he’d politely declined with an excuse about going over last minute investment notes. It’s only a flimsy excuse if you know him well; then you would realise that there’s no way Mr Anderson would leave such vital preparation to the day before a meeting. He’d nodded vaguely to Burt’s promise of a dinner invite soon, humming non-committedly, but not refusing either. And that’s okay with Blaine because he knows that his dad is trying. Maybe that’s all that anyone can ask of another human being in the end.
Plus, Blaine is starting to suspect that he’s not the only one who puts on a façade to hide just how exhausting interacting with others can be, especially when trying to make a good impression, or play a part perfectly. Turns out him and his father were stood on the same side of the battlefield this whole time, both firing pointlessly into an empty field. So, no, his father isn’t going to be winning any father of the year awards any time soon, but it’s amazing what a little mutual empathy can do for a relationship.
As if reading his mind, Kurt plops down on the couch next to him and says, “You and your dad seem to be getting on okay still?”
“Yeah, we are.” It feels indescribably good to be able to say that without lying through his teeth.
Kurt smiles at him, but his eyes have an oddly sad quality to them.
“Nothing.” Kurt replies automatically and then shakes his head when Blaine raises his eyebrows in disbelief. “No, really, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about how much you’re going to miss him in the fall.”
“We’re not that close…”
“He’s still your dad, though, and I bet you’re going to miss him like crazy. He’s going to miss you, too.”
Blaine shrugs. “It’ll be worth it.”
Kurt shares one of those grins with him, the mutual excitement palpable in the air between them. “Yeah, it will.”
“I still can’t quite believe it’s going to happen.”
Kurt throws a cushion at him, but it barely clips his ear much to his amusement; Kurt’s never had the best aim. “For the millionth time, of course you got into NYADA because you are crazy talented and blew your audition out of the water – I was there, remember? And you’re going to live your own incredible New York dream because you’ve worked hard and you deserve it. I don’t know anyone who deserves it more actually.”
Kurt just raises his hands in mock placation, knowing he’s won, even as Blaine squirms at his words.
People always tell Blaine that he’s too self-deprecating, that his inability to accept compliments is only endearing up to a point. It’s as if, in their minds, he does it on purpose, as if it’s an act that he puts on to seem flawless, but it’s not a conscious effort at all; there’s just something so inherently awkward about acknowledging your own strengths. If he agrees, he raises people’s expectations, acknowledging that he is actively striving towards that trait and hence letting them down when he inevitably stops displaying it. If he doesn’t agree, he automatically exposes himself as vulnerable, a person whose self-worth literally relies on the opinions of others. Either way it weakens him and for years he had dreaded compliments of any sort. He remembers the distress of those first few months of friendship with Kurt, how Kurt had complimented him in every other sentence, unaware that he was making Blaine deflate with each overstated word.
It’s different now, of course. Kurt isn’t viewing him through rose-tinted glasses and Blaine knows that there is at least some truth to his words—even if he didn’t, he trusts Kurt’s judgement of him now in a way that he couldn’t have when they’d first met; Kurt knows him—but, still, the onslaught of compliments tugs his face into the barest hint of a frown.
“Are you okay?” Kurt asks after a moment and Blaine knows he’s referring to more than the slight crease of his forehead. For the most part, Kurt has stopped treating Blaine like a vase teetering on the verge of falling, but there’s always an underlying edge to his concern. ‘Did you have a good day?’ holds a gravity behind the mundane tone and ‘Are you okay?’ refers to a deeper sort of wellbeing than his immediate mood.
Blaine shrugs, but offers Kurt a smile. “Define ‘okay’…”
Kurt picks at a barely-noticeable loose thread on his lightweight sweater.
“Point taken.” He says after a while and it feels like one of those moments that could easily descend into an argument for no apparent reason.
“I wasn’t making a point.” Blaine protests, stopping Kurt’s hand from fiddling further with his clothing.
“I know,” He’s smiling when he looks up, much to Blaine’s relief. “I’m going to go get some of my tailoring scissors to deal with this.” He gestures down at his sweater and Blaine grins at how very Kurt the obsessive need to keep his clothes pristine is.
Blaine counts his footsteps up and then back down the stairs a moment later, laying his head back against the top of the couch.
Kurt comes back into the room and sits down, noisily snipping at thin air with the scissors now clutched in his hand. He makes no move to attack the unruly thread.
“Okay doesn’t need a definition.” Kurt states suddenly and Blaine’s eyes slide up from his hands to his face. Slowly, Kurt sinks back into the couch, his shoulder against Blaine’s so that when he, too, leans his head backwards, their eyes are level.
Kurt laughs and the air puffs out over Blaine’s cheek, slightly too warm. “Good, because I was making one.”
“Aren’t you always?”
Kurt’s only answer is to lean in and kiss him slowly, mouths just a little bit dry until their tongues meet. There’s none of the urgency of two teenagers who need too much and have too little time, but there is an unspoken reverence, a knowledge that neither of them are going to take this feeling for granted ever again.
Blaine pulls back first after a moment, breathless as always, and takes the scissors which had been getting dangerously close to his stomach from Kurt’s hands, placing them carefully on the table instead.
“Ooh, I almost forgot about the cronuts!” Kurt’s sudden exclamation breaks the charged silence as he leaps off the couch.
“Well, I figured I’d introduce to a staple of the New York diet. Ge you accustomed to it and all that.”
“Cronuts as in those half-donut, half-croissant things?”
“Yep, they are heaven in a pastry.”
“Better than cheesecake?” Blaine asks sceptically, settling back into his previous position.
Kurt looks pained. “Ughhh…maybe? Yes? God, I feel like I’m being unfaithful to my cheesecake now. Hang on, you can decide for yourself.”
The words trigger a little jolt in Blaine’s chest as Kurt leaves the room in search of the pastries—he reckons they always will do—but the guilt isn’t all-consuming anymore, easily eclipsed by the new experiences waiting for Blaine. Yes, they are only pastry snacks, but as he sits there waiting, he knows his anticipation is for so much more than that. He’s excited about all the new things that Kurt is going to show him, and the things that he’ll find out for himself, in New York, the cityscape he’s dreamed of falling into since he was six years old.
As the excitement surges through him, he closes his eyes and lets his emotions float, unimpeded, through his entire body until it’s thrumming with excited energy. He feels like a balloon. He’s been drifting, always drifting, since middle school when his thoughts and feelings could no longer be compartmentalised, or defined by those around him. The weightlessness no longer scares him, though; he knows the he doesn’t need to be imperishably attached to someone to stop himself from falling. Drifting along might be daunting, but it’s the only way to keep moving, and he knows that people are right next to him, strings proffered, should he need a moment of respite, a temporary anchor while he re-inflates himself. He can’t control the wind and people are going to float into and away from him all the time, but they’re not holding his string so they can’t let go of him; if he falls, it will be under his own steam.
He has been a balloon for far too long to let it faze him; he’s proud of it. He can’t wait to float onwards, free and unencumbered, lighter and more versatile than the people down below him. He’s not completely full of air and he doesn’t have an attractive, water resistant smile drawn onto him, but he is about to have a new, busier skyline to drift through at his own messy pace and it’s going to be flawlessly perfect, just the way he likes it. He’s going to fly.
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