Title: It’s Only Time
Spoilers (if any): none
Warnings (if any): none
Word Count: 4,386
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee, this is a work of fiction. Title from “It’s Only Time” by The Magnetic Fields.
Summary: The summer before Kurt is to leave for college in New York, he creates a way to keep close to Blaine when they’re apart. In a journal, they exchange letters and clippings that mean things to them, little things that remind them of each other. These are snippets of their first three months apart.
August 25, 2012:
The journal sits in Kurt’s desk drawer around a mess of photos from senior prom and a movie ticket from their first date.
In the final weeks of an arid August, in the days leading up to a bizarre and new and different kind of September, Kurt spends his days trapped in his room packing. Blaine is on his bed, curled up with knees to his chest and Kurt’s duvet clutched in his fist. He’s been like this for the past week—stunned and sad, sometimes silent.
It’s hard for Kurt to see him like this. Blaine’s eyes are spiked with spidery veins of red; Kurt can feel his throat close up when he kisses him; Blaine’s jaw goes slack as he takes in every inch of Kurt and his room and his home that’s essentially been Blaine’s home for the past year and a half. Because he’s not going to have it for a long time.
From his spot at his desk chair, Kurt looks at Blaine, bent into a sad configuration of miserable boy. If there was ever one reason to stay in Lima, Ohio—it’s on that bed.
“I have an idea.” Kurt says, filing through his desk for things to take to school.
“What?” Blaine says, muffled through comforter and pillow.
Kurt pulls from the top left drawer a leather-bound journal—navy blue, gold stitching, completely gorgeous.
“We can fill it up together, send it back and forth when I’m at school.” Kurt climbs on his bed and presses the journal into Blaine’s hands. “We can write letters in it or put pictures in it or just things that we find, you know? It’ll be fun. Probably will let us at least feel closer when we’re, you know…not.”
It hurts then, admitting it. Because for so long they had both known that Kurt would have to leave for college before Blaine, and for so long they’d kept living and loving without Kurt gone. It never really felt like it would happen, just because they had gone on knowing for so long. But now it was happening, and it feels like a punch to the gut.
“Yeah, yeah,” Blaine nods, attempts a little smile. “I love that.” And because he can’t help it, grabs Kurt’s face and kisses him. They both hold it for longer than was anticipated—they can’t really let go.
September 10, 2012:
The journal lies in its envelope on Rachel’s bright coral end table, on top of a clutter of gold-starred audition forms for various theater productions around New York.
Kurt comes back to his and Rachel’s absolutely shitty apartment after his first day of classes, drops his keys on the table by the front door, and finds a worn yellow envelope, looking beaten by the postal service and looped with Blaine’s graceful cursive. He takes it to his room and tries not to cry.
It probably goes without saying that I miss you. And I’ll continue to miss you until the day you come home for Thanksgiving. And I’ll probably still miss you when I see you. And now I’m crying because I’m thinking about seeing you and that’s still so far away.
Sorry for depressing you. I hope you’re having the best time, I really do, and I hope that Rachel isn’t driving you too crazy. Yet. She’ll probably want to christen the apartment with a first rendition of a Funny Girl number or something. Maybe she already has. You just have to know that I’m so happy for you, okay? I’m so, so happy for you. You’re doing everything you’ve ever dreamed of and I’m so proud of you, you don’t even know.
McKinley’s weird without you. Everything’s weird without you. I keep wanting to go to your house and just lie in your bed and be with you. Two months and I will be. A year and I’ll be there in New York with you. I can’t wait, Kurt. God, I can’t wait.
Now, I know New York is filled to the brim with attractive and single gay men, but don’t fall in love over there, okay? I can’t promise I’ll dance better than some of the gyrating guys you could meet at one of the thousands of gay clubs I’m sure are over there, but I love you more than they ever could. Promise.
P.S. I have taped on the next page the ticket stub for a romantic comedy that Tina and I went to see together to assuage the pain of our college-bound boyfriends leaving. In hindsight, it was a terrible idea, as we spent the majority of the film sobbing into each other’s shoulders.
The tears start mid-first sentence and do not let up. Kurt runs his finger over the ripped edges of the ticket and traces the lines of Blaine’s handwriting on the page. He was here and he wrote this and he’s so close and he’s not here, Kurt thinks. He loves Blaine’s handwriting, the big loop of his uppercase B and the clean little curl of his lowercase l and the a, i, n, e. He loves the embossed press of the pen on the back of the page, where he could see just how hard Blaine was writing.
Kurt can’t decide whether reminiscing would make him feel better or make him want to scream. He imagines Tina and Blaine crying in the movie theater, which brings him to the many times Kurt and Blaine had cried in the backs of movie theaters—and laughed and kissed in the backs of movie theaters, only the very back corners where nobody cared enough to look. He thinks about them curled in the same blanket watching movies in Kurt’s bed. Sometimes, when Kurt was sprawled out on his stomach with his eyes on the screen, Blaine would get up and straddle Kurt’s back, kneading knots out of his shoulders and kissing the back of his neck for no good reason.
When it all gets to be a little too much, Kurt takes his phone and presses the first speed dial; he needs Blaine’s voice like a lifeline.
September 21, 2012:
The journal is stuffed in Blaine’s mailbox, looking dejected and sad for what it is, for what it means.
Days without Kurt are long and strange and lonely. In an empty house, the walks up to his room after he got home from school were always pretty dismal, but at least before, there was at least the possibility of Kurt being able to come over and just keep him company. With Kurt at college, Blaine’s left without both his boyfriend and his best friend, and it hurts.
The Boyfriendhood of the Traveling Journal is going well, making him miss and love Kurt all the more. He longs for the days when he sees the envelope—their envelope—stuffed in the mailbox. And today is one of those days. He grabs at the envelope and rips at the paper, leaving a pile of yellow shreds on the front porch.
Kurt has taken to spraying one of the pages he fills with his cologne. Blaine can’t get enough of it—they did a bit of a clothing swap before Kurt left, exchanging t-shirts and cardigans so they could get through the day. Blaine’s been sleeping in Kurt’s shirt for a week straight, he’s only slightly embarrassed to admit. It’s too hard not to. When he’s wearing Kurt’s clothes, fabric that had once brushed Kurt’s bare skin, it’s the closest he has to curling up inside his boyfriend’s arms. God, he missed those days—just lazy afternoons after school where Blaine would just drift listlessly in and out of sleep with his head tucked in the crook of Kurt’s neck, breathing in Kurt’s smell and Kurt’s body with every rise and fall of his chest.
There are deep inhales and little shivering jolts when he reaches Kurt’s page, then Blaine starts reading.
Attached is an extra playbill (I had to keep the autographed version for myself—don’t hate me!) for the first Broadway show Rachel and I saw here—Wicked, if you can believe it. It was as spectacular as you would imagine. I wish you could have seen. I wish you were here.
You will be, soon enough, and that’s what I keep telling myself. I can’t wait. It’s absolutely a dream here—you’re the single thing missing. And I do miss you. I miss you every day. You know that. I have yet to meet any guys, however enticingly gyrating their dancing might be, that would ever make me stop missing you, stop wanting you. New York isn’t going to change a damn thing, Blaine.
I love you.
P.S. I also put some pictures of our apartment in here. It’s dreadful and rickety and tiny and an absolute dump, but we’re desperate and poor. Rach and I (okay, honestly, just I) have actually done a rather magnificent job sprucing the place up, and it looks far better than the “before” pictures, I can tell you that.
P.P.S. That one on the left is my bed. I’m showing it to you because in a year, it’s going to be our bed. :)
Blaine flips the pages of the playbill, runs his finger down the cast list. He and Kurt went to a few shows together, little ones at the community theater (because please, this was Ohio). The first time they saw RENT together pops into his head. He’d only known Kurt for a week—he was this new little spark, someone who could be the best friend that he had tried so hard to have all of his life. Looking back through less oblivious eyes, he could see that Kurt was nervous as hell, being on some kind of friend-date with an actual, honest-to-God boy. Blaine remembers wanting to hold Kurt’s hand that night. But Kurt then needed a friend more than anything. So he didn’t. But he had put his hand on the shared armrest to let Kurt know it was okay.
October 5, 2012:
The journal is on the kitchen counter; Rachel takes care of the mail and puts it where Kurt will find it when he comes back late from class to get his cup of coffee.
When evening comes, it passes by slow and too-cold, and all Kurt ever really wants in those long stretches of freezing night is a cup of coffee with Blaine. Coffee carries vaporous thoughts of Blaine with it; it always has, since that first latte at Dalton. And Kurt can’t help but crave him and their table at the Lima Bean every time he orders his mocha at the far-inferior coffee shop down the street from their apartment.
He comes home to the journal one night, reads Blaine’s pages, and immediately sets a coffee pot to brew.
I’ve been going out for coffee less since you left. It’s probably better for my teeth as well as my emotional state, but I still go sometimes and just torture myself. I went today, got our complete order. Both (yes, both) of our coffees, a big old chocolate chip cookie for me, and one of those yogurt parfaits that you’re so fond of. I’m not really sure why. The cashier looked rather concerned that I was ordering it all for myself. Didn’t she know I have a boyfriend across the country that I’m doing this to reminisce about?!
I have attached the receipt as proof of my lunacy.
I must say, I might have to switch to your coffee for at least some time now; only because it tastes like your mouth.
Kurt curls up on the couch with his coffee mug and rakes his eyes over Blaine’s letters. This one doesn’t make him cry, just smile so, so hard. It was the kind of smile that only Blaine could pull out of him, the one that he had to bite back when he was in public, the one that made the thin skin around his eyes crinkle up and his heart swell in his chest.
“How is he?” Rachel asks, walking into the room in her flannel nightgown.
“How d-how did you know?” Kurt says, incredulous. He had put the journal down and it was nowhere in Rachel’s field of vision, as far as he was concerned.
“Your smile, for one thing. Your face doesn’t get like that unless you’re interacting in some way with your boy toy.” Rachel says matter-of-factly as she curls herself next to Kurt on the couch.
“You’re a clever one, Miss Berry. But he’s okay. We both just miss each other a lot. It’s hard for him though, I think—I mean, 90% of his friends left, so he’s pretty bummed, but at least he has Tina and Artie.”
“Tina must be a nice and relatable companion during this time, I would think.”
“Evidently, they’re drowning their respective sorrows in rom-coms together.” Kurt says with a laugh.
Rachel cracks up too, and then they can’t really stop. Kurt wraps her up in a hug—they’ve had disagreeing schedules for the past few weeks and haven’t really had the chance to just be with each other. Despite living in the same house, he misses her. And it’s been a while since he’s had the consuming comfort of holding and being held.
October 18, 2012:
The journal is rained on and slightly battered, placed on the Anderson’s dinner table in the mix of electric bills and his mother’s Williams-Sonoma catalogs.
I just got the box of my photo albums Carole sent to the apartment. I forgot to pack them and really needed them. So I was looking through them with Rachel and we both just finished sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor bawling like little girls.
[a photo attached with the (really, quite beautiful but far too expensive for how much Kurt spent on it) gold tape Blaine knows came from Kurt’s craft closet at home: Blaine in Kurt’s lap next to the fireplace last Christmas, swaddled in Kurt’s cashmere sweater and grinning with Kurt’s chin on his shoulder.]
I think you stole this sweater from me; it’s nowhere to be found. Someone has some explaining to do. On second thought, maybe not—yeah, you’re too damn cute in it, just keep it.
[this one was taken at Kurt’s graduation party: Kurt’s pressed up close to Blaine, curling one hand around the back of his neck to keep him close while Kurt moved his body against Blaine’s and whispered hot into his ear. It was only a photo but the playback of memory made Blaine shiver.]
The iconic photo! The one that exposed us to all our friends as normal, hormonal teenagers and not, you know, ascetic monks following a strict regime of chastity!
[this next one was just of Blaine; Kurt had taken it when they were studying together one night last year. Blaine had been exasperatedly hanging upside-down off the edge of Kurt’s bed, Kurt had slithered on top of Blaine and was able to capture the most terrible, double-chinned angle of Blaine puckering his lips for the camera. Then, so close to his lips Blaine could still feel the whispered breath: “Get back to work. Or kiss me.” Unsurprisingly, Blaine had chosen the latter.]
I do hope you have stopped hanging upside down like this. The blood’s going to rush to your head and you’ll start having spontaneous fainting fits or something equally as tragic. I nag because I love you.
I come home for Thanksgiving break in about a month. I don’t know why I’m telling you this; you send me weekly updates on the precise number of days left. But I thought I should. I cannot wait. Be prepared to spend the entire week at my house, because my family wants to see me (and you) but I can’t be away from you for a day I’m home, okay? I love you.
One month—one month and Blaine can have his arms back full of his favorite boy, his mouth back on that sprawling expanse of naked skin, his hands sunk back into that gorgeous head of silken hair, his nose burrowing back into clean white soap and Kurt’s cologne.
October 30, 2012:
The journal is on Kurt’s bed; attached is a pink Post-it note on which Rachel has drawn a giant, magenta-Sharpie heart.
You can’t judge me for this. Any of this. Any words from here on out are spoken (written?) in a judge-free zone. And don’t freak out.
In my defense, I am home sick and TLC wedding-show marathons are the only things worth watching at 1:30 in the afternoon. I was certainly not expressly planning on thinking so much about our future wedding. It just…happened (I told you not to freak out). I haven’t planned exact details yet. I’m leaving that to you when the time comes.
But maybe outside in Manhattan—springtime, because the weather’s the best. Not a ton of people, just our closest friends and family. You’d wear something fantastic and look so beautiful I’d want to cry. And we’d be wearing really pretty boutonnieres with some really beautiful color/flower combination and I’d write some really awesome vows and then kiss you and we’d be MARRIED, Kurt.
I miss you so much. I miss you every day. I love you.
Kurt wants it too—so much. He wants to slip a wedding band around Blaine’s finger and intertwine their hands. He wants to hear Blaine’s vows; he wants to kiss him on an altar. He wants Blaine in a sharp black tuxedo with his arms around Kurt’s waist, slow-dancing as a married couple. He wants Blaine for the rest of his life. He wants everyone to know.
November 9, 2012:
The journal is on the floor by the Anderson’s front door, a smattering of (surely stolen) gold star stickers stuck on the lower right corner of the envelope.
Their mutual infatuation with Elvis Presley had begun late one afternoon this past summer; they had been sprawled on the living room floor watching Carole twirling around to “Jailhouse Rock” while fixing dinner. They were essentially alone; Carole was far too invested in her dancing and chicken piccata to notice much.
“He really was gorgeous in his prime.” Blaine had whispered.
“Pre-enormous pompadour and white-and-gold jumpsuits, yes, yes he was. He reminds me of you a bit, actually.” Kurt had said, tracing his finger over Blaine’s slightly-sweaty clavicle to lightly tug down the collar of Blaine’s t-shirt.
“Yup. I’m not sure why...probably the hair.”
“And here I thought it was for my dreamlike singing voice and undulating dance moves!” Blaine cried, putting a hand to his heart in mock horror.
“Well, that’s a given. He did use an awful lot of hair grease, though.” Kurt said absentmindedly, still drawing his finger around Blaine’s chest.
An hour later, they had swiped Carole’s entire Elvis collection and were busy rotating between CDs, Blaine was knee-deep watching interviews with him after he returned from the army (“He was so brave, Kurt!”), and Kurt was researching where in Ohio he could find a DVD of King Creole.
“Would you look at his cheekbones, Kurt?”
“And those hips, oh my God.” That one got Kurt a bit of a glare from Blaine. “But of course, I like these ones far better.” Kurt had saved quickly, putting his hands on Blaine’s hips and swaying a little.
With Kurt’s imagined fingers still latched onto the knobs of Blaine’s hipbones, Blaine reads his letter and wishes for Kurt to be with him, if only for a moment, to watch clips of The Ed Sullivan Show and moon over the smirk of Elvis’ smile.
One of Rachel’s friends from her musical theater class just sent her some postcards from his trip to Graceland, and I covertly swiped one to send to you. I had to. If I must ever step foot in Memphis, Tennessee, it will only be to visit Graceland. With you, of course. By the way, I’m still waiting on the verdict on whether or not Schue will let you do “Burning Love” for Sectionals, per my suggestion. And if he does, I’m going to require that video. Love you.
P.S. Regarding your last letter, I’ve been planning weddings since I was two. I’m not judging you or freaking out, I’m just excited. I can’t wait to be your husband.
The next day, Artie suggests Eminem and Blaine nearly shouts over him: “BURNING LOVE.”
November 20, 2012:
The journal is tucked into Blaine’s schoolbag slung over his shoulder; he sits next to Burt Hummel on a grimy airport seat at baggage claim.
Lip gnawed raw and knuckles cracked just to have something to do, Blaine tries to still his twitching feet: he’s too damn excited.
“You’re shakin’, kid.” Burt says with a smirk.
“I’m just…really excited.” Blaine laughs, probably coming out a bit hysterical from the adrenaline coursing through his veins. Burt only says, “Flight just landed”, grins widely, and squeezes Carole’s hand.
Blaine’s fairly certain that his head or his brain or his heart is going to explode. Sometimes he finds himself breathing too fast; other times he forgets to altogether. It’s been three months since he’s held Kurt. Three months since he’s kissed him or touched him or whispered right against his ear that he loved him. And it has hurt, so damn much, and it’s been so hard, and he’s been waiting for today since the day Kurt left.
His eyes stay locked on the revolving door, eyes scanning each of the people that go through and stomach sinking with each person that is not Kurt.
And then oh God, it’s Kurt—with his head held high and neck long and hair as flawlessly styled as ever even after his flight—and Blaine’s flinging his bag onto the chair and running towards him with speed he didn’t know he had and Kurt finds his eyes and runs and Blaine throws his arms around Kurt’s neck (finally, finally) and kisses him. Kurt’s father and step-mother are watching. Half the baggage claim is watching. And Blaine doesn’t give a shit. Airports are for tearful goodbyes and joyful reunions, right?
His lips taste the same, and it’s the most comforting thing Blaine’s felt in three months. When they pull back, they’re both crying.
“You’re real, oh my God, you’re here.” Kurt says in one breath, his hands coming up to cup Blaine’s face.
“Always will be.” Blaine says, tucking his face into Kurt’s neck and breathing him in like he hasn’t been able to truly do for so long. After a minute, Blaine finally lets Kurt go so that Burt and Carole can give him a proper hug. Kurt’s a crackling little drop of delight right now, and Blaine’s missed Kurt’s infectious kind of happiness so much. He’s missed that enormous smile that showed his teeth. He’s missed that laugh that shoots through to his spine and makes everything a little warmer.
He holds Kurt’s hand on the way to the car, gives him a kiss when he opens the car door for him, and lays his head on Kurt’s shoulder when they slide into the backseat together, Blaine taking the middle seat because he can’t really bear to be even a foot apart from him right now.
Kurt talks and talks about New York—about Rachel and their apartment and his classes and the production of Fiddler on the Roof that she’s been rehearsing for until 3 every morning—and he keeps his arm around Blaine the whole time. While Kurt discusses the meal plans he’s been keeping him and Rachel on to avoid the freshman 15, Blaine fishes out the journal and a pen from his bag and scribbles on the next blank page.
I’m so glad you’re here.
He nudges it onto Kurt’s lap and smiles. Kurt stops mid-sentence, reads the page, traces the words with his fingertip, and mouths, “I love you” with that golden smile on his lips.
July 2, 2017:
The journal lies in one of the moving boxes, tightly bubble-wrapped alongside framed photos from Blaine’s graduation and Kurt’s collection of original Broadway cast recordings.
Years later, when they move out of their apartment with Rachel and buy their first one together, Blaine will find the journal while unpacking one of the boxes.
He will take it out while Kurt arranges the pillows on the couch in an aesthetically pleasing manner. He will swipe one of Kurt’s fountain pens from the cup on his desk and loop in black-ink cursive:
Look at us grown-ups. You’re straightening up our couch in our living room and tonight we’re going to sleep in our bed together. I can’t believe any of this, but then again, it’s never seemed like it would end up any other way. But I love it. And I love you.
He’ll slip the journal in Kurt’s hand when he comes up to wraps his arms around Kurt from behind, brushing his lips along the shell of Kurt’s ear and pressing into every inch of him.
Nothing will seem impossible anymore. Not a wedding, not a child, not a future with the boy he’s been in love with since he was sixteen. It will just be Kurt, woven between the freckles on Blaine’s skin and flickering through his mind when he’s alone at work; Kurt, who charms him and keeps him safe and still can make his cheeks blush like those of a love-struck teenager.
Right before they will fall asleep together later that night, after a day of heaving boxes and interior decoration, Blaine will kiss Kurt goodnight for a little longer than usual and feel like they’re really, truly going to be okay: the gears have been spinning wildly with time spent apart and tears and fights—but they’re clicking now, making sense now. And maybe they’re twenty-four and still kind of figuring life out. But they figured each other out a long time ago, and there’s not a damn thing to worry about there.