Title: The Only Living Boy In New York
Word count: >2500
Spoilers: Through 4.01, pure speculation past that
Summary: Kurt in Central Park during the autumn, and a much needed phone call. Warnings: dog slobber.
A/N: Thank you, as always, to flaming_muse for using sharp sticks and poking this until it stopped bleeding red edits. (And for making me turn an email I sent her into a story.) The title is from Simon & Garfunkel's fabulous “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” album, which always makes me think of autumn and the unknown.
Kurt smiled wistfully to himself as he passed Tavern on the Green, remembering a very special dinner with Rachel years before at that very place. As he walked on the path further into the park, he checked the grass to make sure it wasn't wet, stepping onto the plush carpet of green towards a tall grouping of larches. The ground beneath it was littered with leaves in crimson and gold. He kicked through the leaves, feeling a bit giddy that this was his life now – walks in Central Park, restaurants where his idols dined, the lights of Broadway just over the horizon.
It was the sort of thing he wanted to gush about, and there was only one person that he wanted just then. A person who was several states away and not able to share in the excitement with him. A wind whipped through the narrow corridor between the trees and the high granite wall; he pulled his 3/4 length wool coat around himself tighter, beginning to feel the chill of the impending cold front and long months ahead spent without the warmth of his boyfriend at his side.
Turning to the wall to block the wind from the mouthpiece, he dialed Blaine's number and let his shoulders drop as he heard the familiar warm tones of the boy he loved when Blaine answered. Kurt smiled at the sound even though they had hundreds of miles between them.
“Blaine?” A forlorn and lonely sort of sigh he couldn't help was almost lost in the wind as he replied. Almost.
Blaine's voice quickly moved from excitement to concern. “Kurt, are you okay?”
“Yes, I'm... it's fine. I'm fine.”
He could hear Blaine shifting on the other end. He must have been in his room at his desk, then. “You don't sound fine,” Blaine said softly.
“I am, it's just...” His voice drifted off as he thought about it. Leaning against the cold granite, his finger traced a vein in the stone as he carefully picked his words. He didn't want Blaine to worry about him. “I miss you. I know, we promised to be strong, and I am, I promise. It's just... I passed someone that was wearing your cologne and then I realized I was wearing your old Dalton scarf and it didn't smell like you, and I really need you to wear it when I come home for Thanksgiving so it will again, and I...”
He kept back the tiny whine he wanted to let out. That wouldn't do either of them any good, he knew.
“It's just a few more weeks,” Blaine said, and in that moment, Kurt believed that Blaine was trying to console himself, as well, “and a few after that for Christmas break, and then it will be spring break and then it will be graduation. And then we'll be together.”
“I know,” Kurt sighed, turning and leaning back against the wall. The sky was crisp and blue and just then it seemed to be almost as big as it was in Ohio. Almost.
“Don't think that I don't miss you, though,” Blaine said, his voice dropping to something more intimate, something that made the hairs on the back of Kurt's neck stand on end and his toes curl in his shoes.
“I miss you, too,” Kurt replied, his voice almost too quiet to be heard. “Did I interrupt you doing anything important?”
“No,” Blaine sighed, and Kurt could hear the creak of his leather desk chair, the sound going straight to his heart, remembering their study sessions (usually interrupted by a need to kiss or simply touch). Blaine's room had been one of the few places they'd had where they could drop all caution and just be themselves: two boys hopelessly in love with each other.
They were still that; there just wasn't the opportunity to touch anymore. There would be no spontaneous kisses in between studying. No impromptu slow dances in the kitchen as they prepped dinner at Kurt's house. No hands held under the table in the school cafeteria.
“I was just working on my World History report. It's the same one Mr. Norell assigned you last year, I think...”
As Blaine described his current workload, Kurt listened with half an ear, trying to shake off his longing for his boyfriend as he watched people pass him, some kicking at the leaves, some jogging, one couple walking with a very tall, very shaggy dog, apparently sans leash. A dog who now seemed to see Kurt as a person of interest. It was an incredibly large dog. Could it still be considered a dog if it was that huge?
“Um, Blaine?” Kurt pressed himself back against the stone wall, his breathing becoming shallow.
Kurt turned sideways enough to draw his leg up in a protective sort of move. Apparently the dog wasn't aware that that was what it was meant to be. “There is a very large animal that is now sniffing my shoe. I don't think they have bears in the city, but I am kind of panicking right now.”
Blaine's laughter on the other end of the line dispelled most of the fear that had started coiling in his belly.
“Hold out your hand, knuckles up to it.”
“Oh, I'm supposed to offer it a meal? Is that how this works?” Kurt said, trying to tamp down his nerves. He pulled off one glove and did it, however, his hand only shaking a little.
The dog (bear? cougar?) sniffed it eagerly, his cold nose snuffling along, tickling Kurt enough to elicit a surprised laugh.
“Kurt!” Blaine was practically whining on the other end. “What's it doing? What color is it?”
Kurt rolled his eyes, but fondly. The dog was apparently pleased by his smell – well, of course he was – and bumped his head under Kurt's hand, seeking attention. “It's shaggy and brown with a white chest like an ascot – very dapper – and it's begging me to touch him, I think? Um,” He scratched it behind the ear, unable to control the grin on his face as the dog's back leg thumped on the ground. “And I guess I found his spot?”
Kurt dropped down to his heels to pet the dog more thoroughly. Its fur was thick and well-cared for by the looks of it. It was warm and oddly pleasant to bury his hand in it, scratching at the dog's skin only to start the process over again. The dog looked up at him, tongue lolling and panting as Kurt stroked its fur over his head, behind his ear and under his chin.
“Can you take a picture?”
Kurt rolled his eyes, but couldn't stop the fond laugh that came with it. “Here, hang on a minute.” He pulled up his camera on his phone and shifted so that his face was close to the dog's. He thought that was incredibly brave to put himself at the jaws of death for his boyfriend. The dog seemed nice, though. And whoever groomed him was doing a fabulous job. He didn't even smell like a dog. Huh. Did they make high-end grooming products for dogs? That might change everything he'd thought about having a pet, actually.
Just as he snapped the picture, the dog turned and licked a long, wet stripe up the side of his face. The camera caught him just as his grimace began. Then again, maybe he'd been right about animals being disgusting all along. He scowled at it as he sent the image to Blaine. The dog didn't seem to care that Kurt was looking daggers at it by the way it thumped its tail. Kurt tugged his glove back on with indignation.
Blaine laughed and cooed on the other end of the call. “I love those kind of dogs! Bernese Mountain. Oh, I bet he was just the softest thing...”
“He was also the slobberiest thing,” Kurt said, standing back up and using the end of his scarf to wipe his ear. After all, it was only fair that Blaine's things suffered just then. The dog now seemed to want to stay, sitting and leaning his weight against Kurt's leg. “So, how do I turn these off?”
Blaine was absolutely no help as he continued laughing on the other end. Fortunately, the owners seemed to realize they were missing a family member and whistled sharply. The dog barked once and took off running. Kurt felt strangely alone just then, the warmth against his leg where the dog had rested quickly turning cool as the couple walked away, the dog following along behind them.
“Lose your new friend?” Blaine teased.
Kurt huffed a noise of displeasure as he pressed back in against the wall, partially hidden from the public by the trees.
His voice quiet as if he was trying to maintain control, Blaine whispered, “I really miss you.”
Kurt stared up at the sky, blinking quickly to control the prickling sting of impending tears in his eyes. “I really miss you, too.”
“I keep looking for you in the hallways, to see your car in my drive, behind the counter at the Lima Bean--”
“Oh god, no,” Kurt groaned. “Please don't ever think of me back there again.”
“Okay, then,” Blaine said, laughing gently. “I keep expecting to see you come sit next to me at the Lima Bean,” he corrected. His voice went soft and faraway again. “Waiting for you to take my hand in yours and rest them on your lap under the table.”
Kurt made a helpless sort of sound that he couldn't control. He had felt like a part of him was missing, like he'd forgotten to do something ever since he'd arrived in New York. It was both a comfort and a heartache that Blaine felt that way, too. “Oh, Blaine...”
“Are you wearing your new black leather gloves?” Blaine asked, again with that quiet intimate voice that send shivers sparking down Kurt's limbs.
“Yes,” he breathed, holding the phone close even though no one could hear him. No one was even watching.
“Can you...hmm.” Kurt could hear Blaine shifting again, the soft click of a door closing, and then the rustling down of bedding. Oh.
“Can you take one off?” Blaine asked. His voice was so quiet, such a warm rumble against Kurt's ear that it was almost as if he was standing right next to him, whispering. Kurt's eyes closed shut and he bit his bottom lip even as his heart rate picked up.
“Yes, but...why?” He noticed that his own voice had gone soft and quiet. Intimate.
He balanced his phone on his shoulder, his ear pressed tightly to hold it in place as he held his gloved right hand up near the mouthpiece and began pulling it from each finger, finally sliding the entire soft bit of leather off his palm. Kurt wanted Blaine to hear the sound of it, faint though it was, so he would know Kurt wasn't just pretending. Evidently he could by the sound of the long sigh Blaine gave.
“Now I want you to imagine that I'm tracing along the top of your hand with my fingertip. Each one, featherlight touches.” Kurt unconsciously began to trace his bare hand with his gloved finger, the soft leather pleasant, but not the sensation he would have preferred in that moment. “I'd want to turn it over and draw along your life line, and your love line, of course.”
“Oh, of course,” Kurt said, barely finding the breath to get the words out. Here he was in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world and it felt like there was nothing else but the sound of Blaine's voice, soft in his ear, the memories of touches so fresh in his mind he could easily imagine it was Blaine touching him just then.
“God, I miss you, Kurt. Your skin...” Blaine sighed just then, and Kurt curled his bare hand into a fist, wanting to hold onto the sensation, hold on to the feeling that Blaine was right there with him. “And I wouldn't be able to help myself, Kurt. I'd need to hold your hand in mine. I'd need to press a kiss to it to make sure you knew that I loved you, that I understand what just the touch of a fingertip can mean. Because it's you that I would be touching. That's how I feel when I hold your hand. How it will be again, I promise.”
Kurt couldn't help the tear that coursed its way down his cheek at that. His voice hitched but it was the only sound he could bring himself to make just then.
“I love you, Kurt. We're going to be fine.”
He barely managed to whisper, “Okay.”
“Will you call me tomorrow?”
He swallowed thickly, drawing himself up straight and tall again. He could do this. He would do this – for himself, for Blaine, for their future. Because they would have one, together. “Of course.” He clutched his loose glove in his left hand, his bare right hand holding the phone – holding Blaine – close before they had to hang up. “Thank you.”
“I am so proud of you, Kurt. I am so in love with you.”
He laughed at that, wild joy flooding his heart and tears in his eyes because how could he worry about what was to come? How could he be scared when there was Blaine in his life, loving and supporting him?
“I love you, too.”
They stayed quietly on the phone for a moment, Kurt grinning through his tears and just breathing, knowing Blaine was doing the same. Feeling their love for each other like a real, tangible thing as it wrapped itself around his heart once again.
He heard what suspiciously sounded like a sniffle from Blaine before he replied, “Yes?”
Kurt held the phone with both hands and said in an almost reverential tone, “You're the love of my life, too.”
At the sound of Blaine's breath hitching in his chest, Kurt could see it – their future. A small and cozy apartment, slow dancing in the kitchen again, hands lightly drawing across one another's shoulders as they passed in the hallway, a nice warm bed that would be theirs. A life that would be theirs. They would have all of that, and he knew then with a certainty that they would.
His smile righted itself, watery though it was. “And if you promise to use only salon products on it, then you can have a dog.”
I am spoiler-free and would prefer to remain that way. Please, please, PLEASE do not mention anything that is upcoming on the show. I will be very cross and sad if you do. (But you won't, because you're awesome like that. :D Innarnet pls.)