Stop Loss, Chapter 14

Nov 19, 2011 09:58

Pairing: Kurt/Blaine, Rachel/Jesse, mentions of Jesse/Kurt
Rating: R, with the possibility of an upgrade down the line
Spoilers: AU piece with spoilers through Season Two
Warnings: Sexuality, violence consistant with canon, mild drug/alcohol use, mental/emotional themes (depression, anxiety, etc), dysfunctional family situations
Summary: AU. Kurt Hummel never went to McKinley. Instead, his father sent him to Carmel, where he flourished as a member of Vocal Adrenaline under the watchful eye of Jesse St. James. Everything was falling into place for him, until the day that Blaine, a beautiful, damaged transfer student with his own set of issues, throws his world upside down.

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Jesse arrived three minutes after 7:00 on Saturday night, his SUV leaving tire tracks in the inch of snow that had accumulated on Kurt's driveway over the course of the day.

"I'd ask you if you've eaten yet," he called from Kurt's bathroom, where he was sampling Kurt's lotions and fixing his hair while Kurt finished getting ready, "but I've met you. Can I convince you to go out to dinner in less than thirty seconds, or should we just get snacks where we're going?"

Kurt rolled his eyes-a gesture lost on Jesse, since Kurt was sorting through his scarf collection in the back of his closet, trying to find the blue cashmere one that he'd gotten for his birthday. "You're the only one I know who can manage to sound concerned and inappropriately insensitive at the same time," he pointed out. "And where are we going, anyway?"

Jesse laughed. "Somewhere fun," he promised. "And indoors, so never mind the scarf. Let's go, before it starts snowing again."

Frowning, Kurt gave up the search, grabbing his winter-weight piano key scarf instead and shutting the closet door behind him.

The boys called goodbye to Kurt's dad before leaving, bickering over what music to listen to on the drive as they fastened their seatbelts and Jesse started the car. In the end Jesse won, playing the trump card that they both knew Kurt couldn't refuse: a recording of his (their) future competition.

"It's actually a little eerie, how much she sounds like Shelby," Kurt mentioned after a minute, listening to Jesse's homemade cd. "Younger, obviously, and with less vocal training, but still."

"I thought so as well," Jesse agreed. "She even has some of the same mannerisms, which is slightly unnerving, given that they've never met."

He smiled at Kurt, eyes glowing an eerie red-arguably confirmation that Jesse was secretly of demonic origin, but realistically probably only a reflection of the traffic light they were stopped at. "I've been talking an awful lot about myself and my relationship," he mentioned casually, as if it were in any way a typical admission on his part. "What about you? How did Blaine do on my duet yesterday?"

Kurt was far too used to Jesse's prying to be surprised by the forced segue. "Why ask me?" he wondered dryly. "Why not simply check the secret video footage you must be getting, since you're always so up to speed on what we're doing?"

Jesse gave him a pitying smile. "Kurt, please," he sighed, put upon. "You know perfectly well that security sweeps for bugs at random intervals. That would never reliably work."

That, actually, was true.

"He was incredible," Kurt informed Jesse. "Shelby hasn't said anything, but the piece has to be in contention for Regionals; she'd have to be crazy not to use it.

"Well," he amended, "Ryleigh was a little shrill. But she always is when she's nervous, and she got better towards the end of rehearsal."

Calling Blaine incredible was almost an understatement-whatever self-esteem or Daddy Issues Blaine had going on aside, Kurt couldn't fathom how he didn't see how preternaturally talented he was. But if Blaine's sweaty hands and shaking legs pre-rehearsal the day before were any indication, Blaine simply didn't realize what an incredible vocalist he was; didn't realize that while he was worried his singing wouldn't measure up, Kurt was worried that people would resent him for being too good.

In the end, both of their fears were unfounded-Blaine performed beautifully from the start, cheeks flushing with pride and embarrassment when he made it to the end of the first flawless run-through and the entire choir burst into applause. Kurt was watching carefully, and was more than a little surprised when everyone's support of Blaine seemed to be wholly genuine-not because Blaine, of all people, didn't deserve it, but because Kurt was expecting at least a few people to be catty or jealous in their praise. Apparently, he had underestimated Blaine's charm and likability.

It would have thoroughly annoyed Kurt, had it been anyone but Blaine. Instead, he had done his best to be as supportive of Blaine as Blaine had been for him, earlier in the week. They'd gone out for coffee after rehearsal, and Kurt had bought him a chocolate chip brownie and rubbed the knots out of his back while listening to Blaine recount the afternoon from his perspective.

And if Kurt wasn't as attentive a listener as he could have been, it was hardly his fault-Blaine's shirt was really too thin, and his muscles were warm and distracting under Kurt's hands.

Jesse nodded along, apparently unsurprised that Blaine had done so well. "It would be the obvious choice for a competition number," he agreed amiably, turning the car onto another main road littered with shops and restaurants. "I wonder…"

He trailed off, making Kurt look at him sharply-Jesse only left sentences unfinished to prove a point. "What?" he asked warily, his hand tightening on his seatbelt reflexively.

Jesse shrugged. "How would you react if I let Blaine keep it?" he asked, voice as thoughtful as if he had just come up with the idea.

Kurt looked at him flatly. "Is that a real question?" he asked tonelessly, forcing himself not to think about it, lest he fall into one of Jesse's mind games.

Jesse smiled, looking pleased by Kurt's anti-reaction. "Let's just say it's hypothetical, for the moment," he decided, watching Kurt's expression hungrily.

Kurt frowned. "I don't even know what you're doing," he accused, willing himself not to get upset or angry. It was harder than he thought.

Jesse's mouth twisted. "You don't have to answer right now, if it's too uncomfortable for you," he offered, patting Kurt's arm. "Anyway, let's change the subject. We're here."

Kurt jumped slightly-lost in the conversation and his own thoughts, he hadn't immediately registered that the car had stopped. He looked out the window as Jesse pulled the keys out of the ignition. "Oh, you are not serious," he muttered, staring at the neon marquee. "Really, Jesse?"

Jesse's eyes widened innocently. "Something wrong, Kurt?" he asked, making a show of sounding concerned.

Kurt leveled a glare back. "I haven't been bowling since I was nine," he grumbled.

"Then think of how much wholesome entertainment you've been missing out on all this time," Jesse pointed out with a smile. "You'll enjoy it; it's a good form of low-impact exercise."

Kurt wasn't impressed. "They make you wear plastic shoes that they spray out with Lysol," he argued unhappily.

Jesse's smile grew. "I called ahead and made sure they didn't use any of the disinfectants that you're allergic to," he promised earnestly. "I would never put your health and safety at risk like that."

Kurt stared at him, waiting for the punchline.

Jesse didn't disappoint. "And anyways," he mentioned, "I stole some antihistamines and a jar of foot cream from your bathroom, just in case." He took the tub out of his coat pocket, waving it at Kurt just long enough for him to recognize it, before putting it back again.

Kurt sighed. "And with the other hand, he taketh away," he groaned, rolling his eyes. "Fine. I hate you. Let's go."

Jesse practically dragged him into the bowling alley.

Kurt wouldn't admit it under pain of death, but once he had finally been coaxed into his bowling shoes ("I'm getting hives just thinking about these stupid things, Jesse. If I end up in the hospital over this, I'm strangling you with my IV line", "Kurt, if you don't start breathing normally, you're going to end up with so much scar tissue in your lungs that 'Happy Birthday' will be vocally challenging, and then where will you be?"), he did actually have a good time. Jesse had anticipated the distaste he'd show at having to stick his hands where hundreds of other people's sweaty, greasy fingers had been, and had come prepared with antiseptic and Q-tips. The game itself wasn't too bad, either-after a couple of embarrassingly poor throws, Kurt had gotten the hang of rolling the ball down the lane, managing to stay within a decent margin of Jesse's score.

Jesse, though fairly skilled at knocking over at least half of the pins on the first try, was clearly no closer to being a bowling prodigy than Kurt was. Kurt found that it was actually kind of nice, watching Jesse be both mediocre at something and unconcerned about it.

He decided to appreciate the moment, since it would probably never happen again.

Jesse ordered them slices of pizza in between games, while Kurt was in the restroom. When it arrived three frames later, Kurt rolled his eyes in disgust.

"Pepperoni? Really?" he asked flatly, watching Jesse take a bite. "Do you have any idea what you just put in your mouth?"

Jesse shook his head. "Nothing worse than what you've had in yours," he countered. "Besides, Rachel says that the pizza here is actually vegan. I thought that might be enough to tempt your appetite."

Kurt made a face. "Pardon me for not believing that," he quipped, taking a sip of soda. "Give me your knife." Jesse handed him the plastic utensil and watched placidly as Kurt scraped the toppings off, gingerly taking a bite of the remaining bread and sauce.

Jesse smiled. "I forgot how socially maladjusted you can be sometimes," he mentioned fondly. "It's almost sweet."

Kurt didn't bat an eyelash at the insult. "You say potato, I say 'you'll get E. coli and die and I won't'," he retorted, taking another bite of pizza crust. Which was thankfully crunchy, if nothing else.

Jesse didn't seem to notice or care, finishing his slice quickly. "Let's finish the game," he suggested, crumpling his napkin and standing up. "Loser pays for shoe rental."

Kurt ended up losing by about fifteen points or pins-he didn't know, or particularly care, which it was-and ended up forking over his money along with the ghastly shoes, while Jesse paid for the three games they had played. It was snowing outside again when they walked out to the parking lot, a fine layer of powder dusting the windows of the Range Rover.

"Are you going to be in town for the holidays?" Jesse asked, once they had brushed the snow off the car and started the engine. "Please tell me you're going to be seeing Great Aunt Mildred."

Kurt groaned. "Unfortunately, yes," he admitted with a sigh. "At least she'll be staying with us this year, though, where we can lock the liquor cabinet and hide all of the cheap Russian perfume."

Jesse clicked his tongue disapprovingly. "Kurt, is that any way to talk about your alcoholic, geriatric relatives?" he chided, eyes sparkling. "Mildred is a treasure."

Kurt scoffed. Jesse had met his great-aunt more than once, and had been so sickeningly charming to her that even Burt had been a little weirded out by him. Mildred, of course, had loved the 'precocious young man' and had insisted on him promising to visit every time she was in town.

"You come entertain her, then," Kurt suggested. "She won't spend half of her stay mistaking you for your dead mother and asking horribly inappropriate questions about your parents' marriage."

"If only I could," Jesse replied with a regretful smile. "We're going skiing in Aspen for a week and a half, and won't be coming back until after the New Year." He sighed dramatically. "It's going to be incredibly difficult, being away from Rachel for so long, but the strength of our love will see us through."

Kurt's eyes narrowed. "All right, spill it," he demanded. "What is going on with you? What are you really doing with this girl?"

Jesse looked at him, all shock and hurt. "What are you talking about?" he wanted to know. "She's my girlfriend; I love her."

Kurt remained unfazed. "Do you? She's been your girlfriend for about twelve seconds," he pointed out.

Jesse stopped at a red light. "Are you insinuating that I have an ulterior motive in this relationship?" he asked. "Kurt, I'm surprised at you; you're usually such a romantic."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "You'll have to pardon my skepticism," he said dryly. "It's just that I've met you. You're going to end up hurting this girl sooner or later, and I can't understand why Shelby is letting this happen."

Jesse's eyes were wide. "Is it so impossible to believe that maybe I've actually fallen in love?" he asked, schooling his features into something approaching a philosophical expression. "I've never felt this way before, Kurt."

Kurt had no idea where the sudden anger welling up in him had come from, but it was definitely there. "Will you stop it?" he seethed. "You don't 'feel that way'-I don't even know if you feel any way. You're so theatrical; it's like you don't even realize that other people aren't like you, that they have feelings and emotions and fall in love and get hurt. And you just toy with it, and don't even care."

Jesse looked shocked at Kurt's outburst. Ironically, at least for Kurt, the expression seemed to be genuine for once.

"Tell me something real about her," Kurt said bitterly. "Not something from the Storybook Romance in your head. Something that's real."

"You tell me something first," Jesse countered swiftly. "Has he told you yet?"

Kurt, still upset from earlier, didn't follow. "What are you talking about?" he asked tiredly.

Jesse's mouth twisted as he turned the car onto Kurt's street. "Your boyfriend," he clarified. "He hasn't told you why he transferred schools yet, has he?"

Kurt sighed, suddenly feeling too drained to get angry again. "Don't make this about me," he ordered, unable to conjure up any of the firmness he'd had before. "And leave Blaine out of it."

"I'm not trying to be mean," Jesse argued, "I'm really not. I just hate seeing you like this-you're upset and taking it out on me, don't deny it. Which is fine; it's what you do, and I can handle it. But it's clearly symptomatic of a larger problem, and it's got to sting that Blaine doesn't trust you enough to tell you about what happened that night at the dance."

Kurt's head, which had been resting in his hands, snapped up in alarm. "What are you-" he started feverishly, before forcing himself to calm down. "What do you know about that?" he demanded, his breathing a little steadier.

Jesse was watching him neutrally. "Open the glove compartment," he suggested, nodding at it without breaking eye contact. Kurt paused for a moment, unsure, before warily reaching forward and fumbling with the latch.

Inside was a thick manila envelope, Blaine's name written neatly across the center in Jesse's handwriting.

"There was an incident at Aquinas Institute, about two weeks before Blaine arrived at Carmel," Jesse explained, as Kurt stared at the envelope. "No names were reported in the papers, obviously, since all the students involved were minors, but it's pretty obvious who they're talking about. At least in retrospect."

Kurt's mouth was dry. "Sarabeth's dad?" he asked hoarsely.

Jesse laughed quietly. "Google," he replied. "Honestly, Kurt. Don't make everything harder than it needs to be."

Kurt shook his head, vaguely aware that his hands were wrinkling the envelope. "I don't want this," he said slowly, looking out the windshield at his house, porch lights twinkling. "I don't want to read them."

Out of the corner of his eye, Jesse shrugged. "I'm not saying you should," he said soothingly. "I'm just saying that you should hang onto them. There might come a point when not knowing is worse than knowing."

Leaning forward slightly, Jesse hit a tab to the left of the steering wheel, unlocking the car doors with an audible click. "Have a nice night, Kurt," he offered calmly. "Sleep well."

Later that night, Kurt sat cross-legged on his bed, hands wrapped around a mug of tea.

The envelope sat in front of him, unopened.

He didn't know what to do. The answer seemed like it ought to be obvious-don't open it-but the more Kurt thought about it, the less black and white the situation became. Arguments for each course of action-reading them, not reading them, calling Blaine and asking him what he wanted Kurt to do, calling Jesse and bitching him out for meddling in everything and putting him in this position-kept popping up in his head, making everything more and more confusing. Finally (and feeling a bit like a twelve year old girl) he carefully placed the mug on his nightstand and grabbed a notebook.

He started with the Pros.

1. If I know what happened, I can help him/avoid saying something stupid or insensitive.

That was big one. Even without knowing what had happened, Kurt made a point of not mentioning Blaine's life pre-Carmel unless Blaine brought it up first, and hadn't said anything to him about the school's Winter Ball coming up in January, even though he really wanted to see Blaine in formalwear. But walking on eggshells would be a lot easier if he could see where they were, and Kurt could only do so much to help Blaine move past everything without a better idea of what he was dealing with.

2. He won't ever have to talk about it if he doesn't want to.

While that would have been true anyway, Kurt knew himself; knew that eventually his curiosity would get the better of him, and he'd start pushing Blaine, consciously or unconsciously, for answers. And Blaine would feel pressured or guilty if he wasn't ready to give them, and the situation would be precarious and unhelpful.

3. Jesse already knows, which means that other people might already know too.

In Kurt's mind, that point related to the first two-nobody else at Carmel knew Blaine as well as he did, or would be as carefully concerned with Blaine's emotional wellbeing as he was. Someone might ask him something about Aquinas, or start talking about the dance (his or theirs), or say something upsetting without realizing how insensitive they were being. If Kurt knew what to watch out for, he'd be better able to shield Blaine from any fallout.

Kurt hesitated, contemplating the potential number 4: I just need to know.

In the end, he put it on the list-it wasn't pretty and he definitely wasn't proud of it, but it was true, and if he couldn't be honest with himself, he had bigger problems than whether or not Blaine ever told him the whole story.

Feeling slightly sick to his stomach at his own theoretical selfishness, Kurt drew a line down the center of the paper and started the Cons column:

1. Invasion of his privacy.

And it really would be, Kurt knew. Even if he read the articles Jesse had given him with the purist of intentions, it didn't change the fact that Blaine hadn't told him about leaving his old school yet. Blaine had never explicitly said to Kurt that he didn't want him to know about it, but he was also too sweet to imagine that anyone would go prying into his background-it wouldn't have even occurred to him that Kurt would actively try to find out about his past in any other way than directly asking him, even if the incident had been reported in the newspapers.

2. I might slip and say something by accident.
That wasn't likely, given how good Kurt was at keeping his mouth shut when necessary, but was still a horrible possibility worth noting-Kurt didn't even want to picture the look on Blaine's face if Kurt said something to betray the fact that he'd gone behind Blaine's back like that, let alone actually cause it.

Which brought him to number 3:

Blaine would never trust me again if I read them and didn't say anything.

And that was what it came down to-Blaine's trust. Kurt had been so scared when he thought he might have lost it over Jesse. He wasn't going to risk losing it again, not so soon, and especially not over something so deeply personal to Blaine.

Mind made up, Kurt tore the page out of his notebook, thoroughly crumpling it up before tossing it in the garbage. The envelope went unopened into his desk, placed carefully in the third drawer from the top.

When Blaine decided he was ready to talk about the incident, then and only then would Kurt read Jesse's articles. Until then, he could wait.

Burt looked disbelievingly at the defrosting packages in the sink on Sunday morning. "We're having steak?" he asked Kurt, who was picking at his soft-boiled eggs, the newspaper spread open on the table. "Did you crash the Navigator or fail a class, or something?"

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Blaine's coming over for dinner tonight," he reminded his dad.

Burt scoffed. "I've spent 16 years raising you, and I have to beg for red meat," he grumbled. "You date this kid for a month…"

Kurt flipped the page idly. "Five weeks," he corrected. "And the steak may or may not be a bribe, to ensure your good behavior this evening."

Burt sat down across from him, cutting into his own scrambled eggs. "If he's a good kid, he's got nothing to worry about," he pointed out ominously.

Kurt didn't look up from the article he was skimming. "Good to know," he replied. "And if you're a good host and don't actively try to scare away my boyfriend, you don't have to worry about me pouring all the beer down the sink, or calling the cable company to cancel the Sports network package."

If the steak was going to be ready in time for dinner, it had to go into the oven by 5:00. With that in mind, Kurt took his own car to the garage that morning, starting his shift at the same time as Burt so that he could clock out at 4:30. The car gods were smiling down on him that day-while he had plenty of repairs to keep him busy (and the shop's finances in the black), there were no horrible Jelly Donut Incidents, and he managed to make it through his entire shift without getting anything in his hair, which considerably sped up his routine once he drove home that afternoon.

Which was particularly fortunate for him, since Blaine, who was due to arrive at 6:30, ended up ringing the doorbell more than fifteen minutes early.

"I built in some extra time, in case there was a line at the bakery or the gas station," he explained, handing over a white paper box from Angelina's, the only decent bakery within 50 miles. "There wasn't."

Kurt glanced around furtively for his dad, before leaning in and kissing Blaine on the cheek. "You look handsome," he noted, eyeing Blaine's dark button-down shirt and grey slacks with approval. "I wouldn't object to seeing you in a tie more often."

Blaine smiled weakly. "I almost didn't wear it," he admitted. "I was afraid it might make it too easy for your dad to strangle me."

Kurt rolled his eyes fondly. "He's not going to strangle you," he promised, hanging Blaine's coat in the closet before leading the way into the kitchen. "Trust me-if he wanted to kill you, he'd be much more creative than that."

Kurt's offhanded comment was met with two separate choking sounds-Blaine out of distress, and Burt, who had chosen that moment to enter the kitchen from the living room, in an attempt to stifle his laughter.

"I thought the whole point was to not scare the kid," he pointed out, adjusting his baseball cap before taking a good look at Blaine. "I thought he was trying to protect you," he told Blaine. "Didn't know he was planning on doing it himself."

Blaine smiled shakily. "It might have caught me a little off guard as well, sir," he admitted frankly, gesturing at his throat.

Burt scoffed. "None of that 'sir' stuff," he told Blaine, "you coming over means I get steak for dinner. That's a good enough reason as any for me to get to know you a little better, so you might as well call me Burt."

Kurt smiled.

Despite Blaine's initial nerves, dinner went more smoothly that Kurt could have hoped. Whether mollified by the steak or merely humoring Kurt, Burt was on his best behavior-making a point to include Blaine in the conversation without asking him anything intrusive, not mentioning any of his various power tools or other potential instruments of violence, etc. Pleased by his efforts, Kurt turned a blind eye when his dad left half of his spinach salad on the plate, opting instead for a second helping of steak.

Blaine himself gave an Oscar-worthy performance, once Kurt managed to convince him that his dad had no intention of threatening his life over the dinner table. He complimented Kurt's cooking (in particular the marinade, which Kurt had mixed himself and was proud of), he discussed football and television preferences with Burt, and his conversational skill and manners were so impeccable that more than once, Kurt had to suppress the urge to ask Blaine where he'd gone to Charm School.

In fact, the only problematic moment during the meal came toward the end of the evening, after Kurt had finally let his guard down and started to relax.

The dessert Blaine had brought turned out to be a raspberry tart, and Kurt eagerly cut three generously-sized pieces and eased them onto smaller dessert plates while his dad and Blaine compared first impressions of Shelby and Dakota Stanley (Blaine laughing at his dad's earnest description of Dakota as "a freaking lunatic that's a few fries short of a Happy Meal"). Blaine told Burt a little about his first time actually meeting him, and how Jesse had warned him not to get within five feet of Dakota's platform if he valued his hearing.

Burt laughed appreciatively. "Sounds about right," he agreed. "So, did you go bowling with him last night then too, or was it just Kurt and Jesse?"

Kurt, feeling the sudden tension in the room, nearly sliced off his finger-quietly, thankfully. He quickly scooped up the plates and turned around, walking back to the dinner table as fast as he could without making it look like he was hurrying. He dropped a dessert fork on the table in front of Blaine, who was visibly struggling to come up with some sort of casual answer. "It was just us, Dad," he cut in, handing Burt his plate and sitting back down. He looked at Blaine, knowing that his boyfriend was definitely getting the wrong idea about the night before, and wanting to clear it up before Blaine started thinking the worst. "Jesse's having girl trouble, and he needed someone to talk it through with."

Burt snorted, oblivious to the way that Blaine was looking at Kurt-both grateful for the conversational save, and blindsided by the new information. "Since when are you qualified to give girl advice?" he wanted to know.

Kurt tore his eyes away from Blaine, whose gaze had dropped resolutely down to his dessert, in order to scowl at his dad. "I'm friends with plenty of girls, thank you," he quipped, stabbing into his tart with a fork. "More than you were friends with in high school-tell Blaine about the time Uncle John tried to set you up with the girl who wrote for the school paper."

The story served the dual purpose of ending the evening on a high note for Burt-it really was hilarious, and his dad loved telling it-and carrying the conversation for the remainder of the meal. Blaine nodded and reacted in all the right places, appeasing Kurt's dad despite his dull eyes and seemingly renewed insecurities, and when Burt shook his hand before shutting himself into his home office to work, it was obvious that Blaine had made the favorable second impression that Kurt had been hoping for.

"He likes you," Kurt assured Blaine, after hearing the telltale creak of the office door closing.

Blaine was leaning against the counter, utterly spent. "I'm glad," he replied quietly, rubbing a hand over his eyes tiredly. "I like him too."

They were quiet for a moment.

Kurt broke the silence. "Are we going to talk about this?" he asked, wrapping his arms around his waist nervously as he watched Blaine, whose eyes were still closed.

Blaine ignored the question, sort of. "Does he know that you and Jesse used to be…" he wanted to know, blinking slowly and still avoiding Kurt's gaze.

Kurt frowned, not exactly sure why Blaine was asking. "No, he doesn't," he answered honestly. "Does that matter?"

Blaine shook his head. "No. You're right, it shouldn't; you guys are just friends now, so."

Kurt's frown deepened.

Before he could say anything, Blaine let out a shaky laugh. "I'm being stupid, I know. I'm sorry. You obviously don't need my permission to see your friends, and Jesse is one of your friends. It's fine. Can I help with the dishes?"

Kurt was about to argue that clearly it wasn't fine, that Blaine was noticeably unnerved by the idea of him and Jesse spending time alone together, but hesitated when Blaine turned to the sink and rolled up his sleeves. It was clear that Blaine didn't really want to discuss it, and while they definitely needed to, Kurt could give him ten minutes while they cleaned up the kitchen.

He needed the time to sort through his thoughts, in any case; they were definitely torn. On the one hand, he sort of agreed with Blaine: Kurt didn't need permission, Blaine's or anyone else's, to spend time with whomever he wanted. And that while stupid probably wouldn't have been the word Kurt would have chosen, he had made it abundantly clear, more than once, that he and Jesse were over. Had been over for a long time. If Blaine was on edge about them spending time together, then at least some part of him didn't trust that Kurt was being honest-and that stung. A lot.

On the other hand, Kurt knew he had helped create some of those insecurities in the first place, by not telling Blaine about their past relationship. While he had been planning on mentioning seeing Jesse that weekend to Blaine-in a deliberately casual manner, perfectly designed to show Blaine that he wasn't keeping secrets or in any way hung up on the past-it was his own bad luck that Burt had mentioned it first.

And while part of him bristled at the idea of having to justify his behavior to anyone when he hadn't done anything wrong by going bowling with Jesse, he couldn't help but think about how he would have reacted if Blaine was the one with a handsome, manipulative ex.

Given that Kurt's response probably would have involved a flamethrower, Blaine's doubts were relatively tame and understandable.

Kurt glanced at Blaine as he passed over a freshly washed dinner plate. Blaine's forehead was wrinkled in concentration as he worked meticulously, drying each dish or utensil thoroughly before setting it carefully on the counter.

Kurt felt his own expression soften, watching Blaine work. Maybe he shouldn't have to give up any of his autonomy in order to ease Blaine's fears. But in the end, maybe it was a small price to pay in order to make Blaine happy.

Or at the very least, to avoid making him as conflicted and unhappy as he was now, even if he was pretending to be fine.

Passing over the last of the forks, Kurt turned off the water and dried his hands on a dishtowel, leaning sideways against the sink to watch Blaine more blatantly as he scrubbed the utensil dry and placed it with the others. When he was finished, Kurt took the wet towel from him and offered him the dry one he had been holding.

"Can I show you something?" he asked, smiling gently.

Blaine looked at him with surprise, but nodded. "All right," he agreed, wiping his hands on the towel and setting it on the counter with the dishes. "Where…"

"My room," Kurt answered, holding out his hand. Blaine took it without hesitation.

He laughed when he caught Blaine's confused expression, as he opened the basement door. "My room is down here," he explained, leading Blaine down the steps. "It's pretty well soundproofed, so I can practice whenever I want without bothering my dad. Plus," he confided, "I'm told I'm somewhat difficult to share a bathroom with. I prefer to think of it as having exemplary hygiene, but whatever gets me my own bathtub is fine by me."

Kurt flipped on the light switch at the bottom of the stairs, watching as Blaine looked around his room for the first time. He had straightened up his desk-the only thing in his room that ever got truly messy; natural fastidiousness was a gift-hoping that Blaine might come downstairs at some point in the evening, and he was glad he had: the curious expression on Blaine's face was rapidly turning into approval.

"This isn't what I pictured your room looking like at all," Blaine admitted, turning around slowly while he admired the space. "But it's very you. I like it."

Kurt suppressed his smile a bit, trying to hide how disproportionately pleased he was by the praise. "I've been meaning to paint for ages," he disclosed modestly, looking around at the sage green walls. "White would really maximize the natural lighting from the windows. I just never seem to have the time."

Blaine wandered over to Kurt's dresser, taking a closer look at the cluster of pictures scattered artfully across the surface. "I could help sometime, if you want," he offered, picking up a wooden frame that Kurt knew held a picture from his 16th birthday, out on the lake. Blaine would recognize most of the people in the picture, he realized-everyone at the party went to Carmel, and most of the people in that particular photo were in VA as well.

He smiled. "Don't make promises like that unless you mean it," he warned. "Because I'll conscript your services one of these days, and you won't be able to back out of it."

Blaine looked up from the picture frame with his own small smile. "I wouldn't try," he promised.

Kurt nodded. "Good," he said decisively. "Consider yourself contractually obligated, as of this moment."

They stared at each other for a moment, the space between them shifting to something more serious. Kurt paused, then nodded towards his bed. "Go ahead and sit down," he offered quietly.

When Blaine was seated, leaning against the headboard and watching Kurt with an inscrutable look on his face, Kurt sat down at his desk, a few feet away. "I said I had something to show you," he reminded Blaine, who nodded back.

Opening the second drawer and pushing a couple of folders aside, Kurt quickly found what he was looking for. Peeling them off the wood grain at the bottom of the drawer, he offered them to Blaine with a soft smile.


Blaine took the post-it notes from Kurt's outstretched hand, instantly recognizing their significance. "Are these the notes from my first week at school?" he asked, looking at them with something approaching awe.

Kurt nodded silently.

"Oh, wow," Blaine whistled softly, carefully peeling apart the notes and reading them individually. "Kurt, I…"

He shook his head. "I can't believe you saved these," he said disbelievingly.

Kurt reached over and picked up one of the notes. Those cookies at your house were incredible, by the way, Blaine's handwriting had fervently gushed. If I knew how to bake without destroying the kitchen, I'd ask for the recipe.

"Of course I did," Kurt mused absently, looking at his own reply, written in flourish-heavy script. "They were ours."

Blaine's cheeks turned slightly pink. "I know," he agreed. "I just meant that…well, we weren't dating, then. You saved them, even though we weren't even close to getting together yet."

Kurt shrugged loosely. "I had high hopes for you. I meant it, when I told you that I knew how I felt about you way before we kissed."

Blaine's cheeks darkened further.

Kurt stared at him, unblinking. "I would choose you, you know," he told Blaine, voice quiet but sure. "If you made me pick between you and one of my friends. I would choose you."

Blaine's eyes were soft and wide. "Kurt, I…" he started, before exhaling sharply, running his hands through his hair. "I wouldn't ask you to do that," he promised.

Kurt smiled sadly. "I don't want you to say that unless you really mean it," he insisted. "I saw the look on your face when Dad mentioned Jesse. I want to be able to see my friends without having to check in with you first, but I don't want you to pretend you're okay with something if you're really not."

Blaine bit his lip, and Kurt sat up straighter in his chair. "Is that something I need to do? Ask you ahead of time?" he pressed, looking directly at Blaine. "Because I need to know where you are on this."

Blaine shook his head. "No. You shouldn't have to do that," he sighed. "That's not fair to you."

Kurt frowned. "Then what do you need from me?" he wanted to know, wincing a bit when his voice came out pitchier than usual. "Because I hate making you unhappy, and I need to know what you want me to do next time so that I don't mess it up again."

Blaine's eyes widened. "No, Kurt," he protested, "you didn't do anything wrong, all right? This is me, it's…I don't know. I don't know why I reacted like that, but it's not your fault."

He reached over, grabbing Kurt's hand and holding it between both of his. "Please don't get upset," he pleaded gently. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Kurt."

It wasn't until Blaine pointed it out that Kurt realized that he actually was getting upset: an uncomfortable prickling sensation had built up behind his eyes, and his breathing was faster and shakier than normal.

He gripped Blaine's hand, taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm down. Blaine smiled hesitantly in return, holding his arms out in a silent invitation. Wordlessly, Kurt climbed up onto the bed and curled up on his side, letting Blaine stretch out on the mattress next to him and wrap him up in a hug from behind. Instinctively, he reached for Blaine's hand, lacing their fingers together and tightening Blaine's arm around his chest.

It was strange how much better being held made him feel.

Blaine nuzzled the back of his neck. "I'm sorry," he murmured into Kurt's hair, kissing him softly. "I trust you, and you don't have to do anything differently, okay? I didn't mean to upset you."

"I don't care about that," Kurt admitted. "I just want you to be happy."

"You make me happy," Blaine protested, holding Kurt even tighter.

Kurt sighed. "Except when I don't," he pointed out. "What upset you the most, tonight?"

He felt Blaine tense up behind him. Not able to reach back with either of his hands, Kurt poked Blaine's foot with his toe to get his attention. "I won't get mad," he promised. "Just tell me."

Blaine pulled their intertwined hands over Kurt's chest, holding them over his heart. "Thinking I might lose you," he admitted. "I know you told me not to, and I know nothing's going on between you and Jesse. I really do know that, Kurt. It's just…"

He exhaled sharply, breath warm on Kurt's neck. "I don't think you realize how scary the idea of you leaving really is," he finished quietly.

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Forgetting Evaluations so quickly, are we?" he quipped dryly, turning his head to the side so that his cheek brushed against Blaine's lips. Blaine took advantage of their proximity, leaning in slightly to kiss Kurt's cheek. Kurt hummed encouragingly, and felt Blaine smiling into his skin. Letting go of Kurt's hand and threading it through his hair instead, Blaine pressed another kiss to Kurt's temple, before working his way back down the side of Kurt's face.

"I'm sorry," he whispered again, mouthing gently at Kurt's neck. "I'm sorry I made you feel like that."

With extreme difficulty-Blaine's tongue felt really good, he could write novels about that tongue-Kurt rolled himself over in Blaine's arms so that they were facing each other.

"You're not going to lose me," he promised solemnly. "I'm not leaving you, okay? If I do something or say something to make you think that, you need to tell me, so I can remind you how wrong you are."

Blaine's fingers were still in his hair. "I promise," he murmured, stroking the loose strands gently before running his hand down Kurt's back. "Just say it again."

"I'm not leaving you," Kurt repeated. "I'm not letting go of you."

Eyes shining with unshed tears, Blaine surged forward, capturing Kurt's mouth with his own. It was frenzied and desperate from the start, and Kurt found himself moaning wantonly as Blaine's fingernails dug into his back. Blaine pressed further into Kurt's open mouth, rolling forward until Kurt was on his back, Blaine's torso pinning him to the bed.

Kurt wrapped his hand around the back of Blaine's neck, pulling him in as close as he could without hurting him. He fought the urge to drag Blaine completely on top of him, to line up their hips and tangle their legs together and just move until they were both completely undone. Blaine wasn't ready for that, he knew Blaine wasn't ready for that, but the thought of Blaine writhing and shuddering on top of him made him gasp in pleasure, running his hands over Blaine's back before clutching at him harder.

"I'm not going anywhere," he panted against Blaine's mouth, catching his breath before Blaine licked into him again. "You're mine."

Chapter One:

fanfiction, glee, writing, klaine, "jesse st james jesse st sucks", not on kurt hummel's bucket list

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