Near dawn, cold and foggy, the concrete jungle of a gas station, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Blaine had been awake so long that everything looked grainy, hyper-real. Santana, Quinn and Tina were all inside the mini-mart, getting coffee. Kurt was leaning against the cinderblock wall at one side of the building, his arms wrapped around himself. Something was wrong.
“Talk to me.” It felt strange, saying that to Kurt. He’d wanted to, and held himself back, so many times—but there was no need for secrets; not now, not any more. “Please.”
Kurt shook his head, staring at the ground. He didn’t say anything for a long, long time, and when he spoke, his voice was so low it was hard to hear. “I had to let you go, Blaine.”
“I had to let go of you. When I read—when I believed that letter.”
“I thought it might kill me to do it, but I had to. I… it was the only way I could go on. And I couldn’t go back.” He looked at Blaine, his face carefully set. “It was like cutting myself—cutting deep, so deep, trying to carve you out.” He shivered. “And then, later, I hoped—as soon as I saw the news, as soon as I realized it must not be true, I hoped—but I don’t think I really believed. I don’t…”
He went—didn’t think about it, he just went, and slipped his arms around Kurt, shaking. “Please. What can I do? How can I—”
“Just—I just need some time, Blaine. Just a little time. To undo… everything I had to do.”
“We can wait,” Blaine said, his voice hoarse and scratchy. “We don’t have to go to Seattle, we can go anywhere—”
Kurt’s hands curled into his shoulders. “You’re already backing out of our engagement?” His eyes were overbright, his voice sad but softly teasing. He pulled Blaine closer, slipping arms around his neck. “No, Blaine. I love you. So much. I do. And I want… this is what I want. You’re what I want—I know that, even if all this seems like some kind of crazy dream.”
“I don’t want to push you, Kurt. I never want to do that.”
Grey dawn and exhaustion thrumming in his muscles but—perfect kiss. Warm and home for him, always home. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Blaine, but I’m pretty spectacularly resistant to being pushed.” Another kiss. “So stop worrying, and just… let me catch up.” He smiled, just a little. “In the meantime, marry me—if you can.”
Santana, Quinn and Tina came out of the store, talking quietly, heading for the van. Blaine held out his hand. Kurt took it, and they walked over together.
“Okay,” Quinn said, “who’s got next shift? I can—”
“I’ll take it,” Blaine said.
“No you won’t,” Santana said. “First of all, nobody who is technically wanted by the cops is allowed to drive. Second, you haven’t slept in days, and I like my legs too much to have them mangled when you pass out and go off the road.”
Quinn drove, and Kurt slid all the way over to the end of the bench seat in the back, patting his lap. “No wonder you look like death warmed over, Blaine—come here. Lie down.”
He hesitated, debated, and then went, lying face-up with his head pillowed on Kurt’s lap. “Are you sure?”
“What, that you look like hell, or that you need to sleep? Both, yes.” Kurt’s hand tugged the cap off his head, then smoothed through his hair. “Sleep, Blaine. It’s okay. It’ll be okay.
It was the stupidest thing ever, but his eyes welled up again. “Sorry,” he whispered. “I’m just tired.”
Kurt’s hand settled on his chest, and Blaine covered it with both of his own. “Go to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up; I promise.”
Blaine closed his stinging eyes, and let himself sink.
Engine hum. Kurt, breathing. He was so tired, now that he’d given in and slept a little…
The hum guided him back down. He squeezed Kurt’s hand as he went.
Later: “Santana?” Kurt. Quietly.
A pause. “Is this going to work?
Blaine didn’t open his eyes. Santana’s voice was low. “You mean, legally?”
“Well, either it’s going to work, or it’s going to make everything into the kind of legal boondoggle—or, ‘clusterfuck’, in technical lawyer-language—that’ll draw out the whole process for years.” Under Blaine’s cheek, Kurt’s stomach muscles tightened. “But listen, Kurt—the one thing I can tell you for sure—they won’t get you again, okay? They won’t get you again.” He’d never heard her voice so soft. He hadn’t known her voice could be that soft. “I’m not kidding. This is plan A. If it doesn’t work or if it’s not what you want we also have plans B, C, and D—although I hope we don’t have to use plan D, because it involves time travel—my wife came up with that one; she’s an out-of-the-box thinker.”
“Oh.” A pause. “It’s what… I want this. If it can work.”
“I’m going to give it my best shot, small-world.”
“Sorry, you just look like you should be on strings, singing about how it’s a world of laughter and tears and shit.”
“Oh my God.”
They were facing the front of the court, staring at the bench, empty except for the nameplate: Judge Shannon Beiste. Santana was shuffling papers, over and over. “She has a reputation for being tough, but fair. And a little eccentric. But she’s not an activist judge—so they can’t challenge us on that, and most of all, she’s never been overturned. Not once. Blaine, comb your damn hair.”
Blaine blinked. “Santana, are you nervous?”
“Shut up. Of course I’m nervous. Fix your hair, say ‘Your Honor’, and don’t be a fucking twerp or I will end you.”
Kurt was staring—at the floor, at his shoes, into the abyss—his lips pressed tight together. Blaine put an arm around his shoulders, leaning close, whispering. “Do you need more time? To think about this, I mean?”
Kurt looked up. “No, I don’t need more time, Blaine.” He took Blaine’s hand. “I don’t want to run any more. I don’t want to hide any more. I want to be with you. I’m ready.”
Those eyes—calm now, meeting his levelly. “Are you sure?”
Blaine squeezed Kurt’s hand, and kissed him on the cheek. He didn’t see the Judge when she entered the room behind them—he didn’t even know she was there until she ruffled his hair on her way by. When she turned to face them, she laughed.
“Sorry, fella—you were so tiny, I thought you had to be the little squirt.” She nodded at Kurt amenably. “Hey, little squirt.”
“Hey… Your Honor.”
She nodded at the side door to the room. “How’s about you and me head back to chambers for a bit, and have ourselves a talk?” Blaine’s face was apparently up to its usual level of subtlety, because she shook her head at him. “Don’t panic, son—you’ll get him back. I’m not going to tuck him in my pocket and use him for a fishing lure.”
Fishing lure? He mouthed at Santana when Judge Beiste moved towards the door. She shook her head at him, scowling.
The oak door closed with a heavy thud behind the two of them. “It’s because he’s kind of shiny,” Santana said irritably.
It was a long wait. A long, long, long wait, and Blaine was judiciously deliberating between settling into a zenlike calm and completely freaking out, when the door swung open again.
Kurt had been crying. Blaine bit his lips, but then he realized that Judge Beiste had too—she was still sniffling. Blaine held out his hand, and Kurt took it. Kurt’s skin was cool and soft. Blaine’s stomach seemed to be doing some kind of extreme gymnastics, and his heart felt like it was up in his throat, allowing him only shallow breaths.
“Okay. Counselor, everyone else, thank you for your patience.” Beiste broke off to blow her nose, loudly enough that it sounded like a small explosion. She cleared her throat. “Ms. Lopez, I have reviewed the evidence you provided me with, and I have spoken with the concerned party. Is there anything you wanted to add to the record at this time?”
“No, Your Honor.”
“Okay then. It is the opinion of this court that the specifics in this particular case support the application for a special circumstances exemption, allowing the minor in question to legally marry.” Judge Beiste’s low, downhome voice stayed just the same, but the words were hard to follow—Blaine was still parsing when she tapped her gavel, and he jumped. “The exemption is granted.” Oh. Oh. She turned to Kurt. “Mr. Hummel.”
Kurt squeezed his hand, hard. Blaine squeezed back. “Yes, Your Honor.”
Judge Beiste smiled at him. “If you don’t want to marry the pipsqueak next to you, I’ll take you on myself—I’m divorced and you’re just as cute as a tumblebug in a windstorm.”
Kurt swayed a little on his feet, and his cheeks went pink. “Thank you, Your Honor. But… well, he did ask me first.”
“Always a day late and a dollar value menu short,” she said, shaking her head. “Okay—let’s get on with it. Ms. Lopez, you have the license?”
Santana handed it over with a flourish.
He hadn’t even combed his hair.
That thought kept circling, irritating and astounding him by turns, as everything whipped by at shocking speed. Papers signed, Santana tucking a sheaf of them into her briefcase with an expression that seemed better suited to a lioness standing over a hard-fought kill, Quinn and Tina stepping up next to them—witnesses, of course; they needed two for it to be legal.
It all happened so fast—Quinn had the rings, purchased weeks ago, everything had been planned and prepared for, and he knew it all down to the last detail—but in all the excitement and nervousness of driving into Seattle and going over the plan for the zillionth time he’d forgotten to change, so here he was in a fucking NASCAR t-shirt with his hair looking like a rat’s nest, and he hadn’t shaved in days, and he’d barely slept—
Kurt’s thumb brushed across the back of his hand—Kurt’s hands, holding his, and it caught him, the way their fingers looked laced together, tangled up in each other like they’d never come apart. Kurt right there, his lashes still wet but his eyes absolutely clear, calm and right with him, repeating vows without any pause or stutter or hesitation in his soft, sweet voice.
And then it was over. And Blaine seemed to have lost the ability to move or speak.
Blaine broke through the paralysis and kissed him, gently, but then Kurt made some sound, just one soft, choked-off little noise, and that brought everything crashing down like a wave and then Blaine couldn’t let go, his heart was galloping and Kurt’s mouth was so soft and open and beautiful, and there were cameras flashing from three different directions and he could hear Tina laughing and Kurt was kissing him, kissing him and humming a little into his mouth—
And they had done it.
He’d picked a trendy boutique hotel in the middle of Seattle, because it had a piano bar and a killer honeymoon suite and the kind of décor that he himself hated but he thought Kurt would probably love. But Kurt was quiet when they left the courtroom, quiet on the drive to the hotel, and he only shook his head when Quinn handed them their room keys and asked if they wanted to join the party in the bar—Mike and Brittany were already there.
Kurt was quiet in the elevator, in the hallway, in the room itself. “I’m going to take a shower,” Blaine said, and Kurt just nodded, and went back to staring at the spectacular skyline outside.
Blaine took his time, his movements slowed by exhaustion, and only realized after he’d finished brushing his teeth that he had no clean clothes to put on—he’d brought his kitbag up with him, but left his backpack in the car, so now he had no clothes at all other than his going-on-four-days-straight jeans and, of course, his NASCAR t-shirt—which, no. A towel seemed insufficient for modesty, given that what they really needed to do was talk, so he slipped into one of the robes hanging on the back of the door.
He was ready to listen, ready to hear whatever Kurt needed to say—but Kurt headed for the bathroom as soon as Blaine left it, sliding by him without saying a word, or even looking at him. He heard the shower turn back on.
So there was nothing to do but wait. He walked around the room, got a bottle of water from the mini-fridge and drank it, looked out the window at Seattle’s heavy, grey skies, listened to Kurt in the shower, and then stretched out on the bed.
That might have been a mistake, because the bed was huge and soft, and he was warm and clean, and he needed to talk to Kurt… they needed to talk, it was important, because something was going on and they should talk about it, they needed to…
He didn’t even realize he’d fallen asleep until he started awake. Kurt was there, about three feet away from the bed, scrubbed clean and flushed pink and entirely naked. Blaine almost moaned aloud.
“Kurt…” His head was pounding. He sat up. “I thought… we need to talk.”
Kurt knelt on the bed like he was approaching a frightened animal, slowly closing in, naked and perfect and gilded in the low, romantic light. “We do.”
“I’m… uh. Jesus, Kurt. I don’t… oh, God—” he scrambled a little, slipping on the smooth coverlet of the bed, struggling for space, for distance, for enough of both to make his mouth work right.
Kurt’s hand caught his wrist before he edged away. “You’re my husband, Blaine,” Kurt said softly, and Blaine froze, his arm lax and unresisting when Kurt tugged it toward him, placing it gently on his own chest. “We’ll talk. But for right now, just… be my husband, okay?”
Blaine groaned softly, a hurt, agonized sound. He slid his hand from Kurt’s chest up around the back of his neck and into his wet hair, and fitted the other sweetly into the muscular curve of his waist before yanking him down, crushing them together.
He had Kurt’s ass in his hands, silky-skinned and hot, holding him open and licking, teasing, his own heart fluttering and cramping in his chest every time Kurt gasped or cried out or twitched around his tongue. Kurt’s hips pressed close, then away, then into him again, riding his tongue with slow, torturous deliberation. Blaine went as deep as he could and Kurt’s breath hitched—once, then again, then rhythmically, over and over.
“I missed you, Blaine.” Broken, wrecked voice, so soft and so lost, and Blaine pulled back—or tried to, but Kurt had his hair, keeping him where he was. “No—don’t stop, okay? Just… please.”
Blaine didn’t stop, but he slowed. “I missed you so much,” Kurt said, and Blaine could hear him crying. “I dreamed… every time I slept, I dreamed about you, and I dreamed about you fucking me and I’d wake up with everything hard and rubbing the sheets—and then you weren’t there and it wasn’t real and my heart would rip in half and it hurt, it hurt, Blaine—”
“Kurt—” He couldn’t, he just couldn’t, any more. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry—”
“Be with me,” Kurt pulling him, almost clawing him, dragging him up. His words came short of breath and staccato, between hitching gasps. “I need you, need to feel you—right now, please—”
He went as slowly as he could, but his hands were shaking and Kurt was frantic and still crying and there was lube everywhere and Kurt’s heels dug hard into the muscles of his ass, pulling him down and in, hips lifting up and swiveling and taking him, too hard and too fast. “Fuck, Kurt—”
“Please,” Kurt said, breathless, his eyes wet and shining. “Please don’t let go.”
“Okay, okay I won’t, I’m here, it’s okay.” Impossible to tell if it was too much, if Kurt was hurting when he was crying, impossible to read the cues of his body when Kurt was just clinging to him like he would drown if he let go, pulling for more but half-fighting him, fists in his hair.
“I was so mad at you, Blaine.” Raw, shaking voice, churning hips and flexing muscles, furious sobs and Blaine could barely breathe.
“…so mad at you, for not being there, for not trusting me, for… oh. Oh. Blaine—” Kurt’s fingers like iron sinking into his shoulders, ruthless squeeze of thighs around his waist that made his ribs ache. “…don’t stop.”
“I won’t, okay, Kurt—” Kurt was still crying, still locked into him, still moving and his hands taking flight like birds, leaving Blaine’s shoulders and touching his face, cupping it, smooth, damp palms skidding over his cheeks. Blaine didn’t stop. He fucked Kurt harder, held him as close and tight as possible and pushed, making him take it. He kissed Kurt’s open mouth and caught the next sob, the next moan on the tip of his tongue, kissed Kurt while he came and came apart, crying so hard that the whole bed shook.
Blaine slowed, slowed, and all but stopped, holding there and rocking them together tenderly, just barely, soaked with sweat and panting hard and shivering a little. Kurt’s sobs smoothed out to quiet, gentle gasps, and Kurt wasn’t crying, wasn’t fighting him any more—he was just… there, right with him, holding on, his eyes wet and his face wet, but right there with him.
“I missed you,” Kurt whispered.
“I missed you too.”
“Stay with me.”
Blaine moved and Kurt unknotted, stretching while Blaine kissed him soft and deep, slow strokes of his tongue into Kurt’s salt-silky, wet mouth, echoing his strokes into Kurt’s body. Kurt moaned and moved with him, and everything slewed into sensual and erotic overload with frightening speed, leaving Blaine gasping, his hips twisting and gently bucking, out of his control. “S—sorry…”
“No,” Kurt told him, pressing back into the pillows and spreading wider for him, so wet and open. “That’s… you feel so good, Blaine.” One hand left Blaine’s face, skidding through the sweat and come on his own chest and stomach and on down, stroking himself—that hard, shiny, gorgeous cock caught in his elegant fist, and Blaine couldn’t look away, couldn’t stop groaning.
Heavy, deep breaths. Half-lidded, hazy eyes. “You don’t have to wait for me, Blaine.” A twist of the wrist, a shudder. “You… you can just come.”
“Not… not yet… you—” but his hips were speeding up, faster and harder and God help him he couldn’t stop. He couldn’t.
“A martyr and a gentleman,” was what he thought Kurt whispered, but it was hard to tell because Kurt was stroking faster, beautiful eyes closing and his open mouth panting and rocking between Blaine’s cock and his own hand, the faint line he got between his brows when he was about to come and Blaine was dying, just fucking dying from holding back so long, nerves screaming at him and his mutinous body fucking Kurt’s tight, sweet ass so hard the bed rattled.
“Blaine—” Kurt choked off the word and moaned, then again, his hand a blur and his hips bucking and then white, hot streaks on Blaine’s stomach and his own, and Blaine made some low, uncontrollable animal noise and came, throbbing inside the hot, slick, rhythmic squeeze around him, furious pounding of his heartbeat in his ears and everything gone except Kurt, coming with him, stretched out under him and coming hard, arching and moaning and so, so, so good.
Blaine’s arms gave out with no warning, and Kurt laughed breathlessly when Blaine landed on him. Blaine rolled them over on the acres of bed and worked slowly through the last few moments of drawn-out ecstasy, kissing Kurt’s soft-wet-sweet mouth; sated, delicious kisses.
Kurt blinked down at him sleepily, smiling. “Have we talked, now?”
Blaine stroked down Kurt’s slick-skinned back. Each of his arms felt like they weighed a ton. “I think… we did.”
“Okay.” Kurt laid down on him, stretching out, sliding down until he could rest his head on Blaine’s chest. “In case you didn’t catch the subtext, I missed you.”
Blaine petted Kurt’s silky, sweaty hair, and let his eyes drift closed. “God, yes.” He felt them settle, limbs subtly rearranging, finding home, going lax. Perfect.
The last piece of the puzzle, the last strand woven into the tapestry, rounding out the family he’d found, but not been born to.
Their family, now.
“Love you, Blaine.” Slow, slurred murmur. “So much.”
“I love you too, Kurt.”
It was the last thing he said before he slipped away, Kurt safe and warm and sleeping in his arms.
Pictures, slices, moments in time; family portraits, both greater and lesser:
The Three Graces, oil on canvas. Tina, Quinn and Santana, the original sketch hastily done on a cocktail napkin in the piano bar of a Seattle hotel, while Kurt played boogie-woogie and Mike taught Brittany how to jitterbug. Quinn was easy for him, Tina harder, Santana hardest of all, the edge and fierceness and secret softness of her almost impossible to catch, but he kept at it, and eventually he got it. A gay man’s bold paean to the feminine, according to one critic. Santana just said he should have called it Chicks Who Scare Me.
Quinn in a sarong skirt and bikini top on a beach in Majorca, a photo taken by the hunky investment banker she hooked up with. Her vacation lasted all of two and a half weeks before she was bored out of her mind and really tired of pretending to laugh at jokes about SEC regulations, and came home.
This Venus, watercolor and pastels, seven months later. Quinn on a seashell, her pregnant belly roundly erotic below her happy, madonna-private smile.
Cellphone camera shot, slightly tilted since Kurt was in a rush to capture the moment: Mike on a couch, one finger to his lips while he looked sternly into the camera, Tina asleep in his lap, her hands still loosely clasped around her IDA award for Best Feature.
Another cellphone camera shot, this one blurry and awful since Blaine couldn’t stop laughing—but despite that, it was his favorite picture from their family trip to Disneyland: Kurt and Brittany on either side of Santana in the Small World boat, singing enthusiastically with their hands joined while Santana scowled in the middle, looking like she was about to commit several felonies.
A zillion, quadrillion pictures of San Francisco and its environs, a picturesque backdrop to all the various combinations of Kurt, Rachel and Mercedes, on the girls’ first visit. It was the first time Blaine saw Kurt actually behave like a teenager, and he freaked out a little before he decided to make the most of the opportunity, and had so much furtive, silent, clandestine company-in-the-house sex that both of them walked funny for days.
A series of sketches: Kurt, in his first Broadway show dressing room, hushed and focused. Kurt taking his bows, flowers in hand, exultant. Kurt, in his second Broadway show dressing room, facing the mirror with equanimity. Kurt offstage, waiting for his cue, the formidable look in his eye that Blaine loved so very much. Kurt, in his fifth Broadway show dressing room, asleep on a chaise and looking all of sixteen again, the polished, exquisite man that he’d become sweetly softened to boyishness, an illusion that held until Blaine put his pencil down, leaned in, and kissed him.
Artist and Model IV (like the unfinished III, never offered for sale), oil on canvas. Both of them asleep, both naked. Exhausted and clinging to each other, Kurt settled on top of Blaine just-so, fitted together perfectly, cast up on each other in the vast beach of a bed.
All the legal stuff in this story is heinously wrong in a zillion different ways—I know that. Lots of other stuff in here is undoubtedly wrong too—which is why I write fiction, because I can always pull the ‘I pulled it out of my ass’ card out of my ass.
I’ve been afraid of finishing this story. For me, stories are like love affairs, and when they’re finished I miss them terribly, because we were so intimately involved. Living in this world was a refuge, solace, and a joy, and I would be remiss if I didn’t offer some thanks for the opportunity to Anne Rice, for writing a book I return to again and again, and love so much I finally had to attempt an homage.
I would also like to thank every reader, for sticking with me down this long, winding road. I hope, in the end, you found the view to be worth the trip.