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No one raises an eyebrow when Kurt urgently takes Blaine into his office and closes the door. Except for Fernando, none of his employees are particularly apt at customer service so they’re probably out there, talking about him in hushed voices and thinking he’s just going to do some damage control. Kurt sits Blaine down in the chair across his desk while he paces a little in the small room. Blaine looks half shocked and half amused, sitting into the tiny swivelling office chair. Heat rises to Kurt’s cheeks and he can barely look at the other man. He’d brewed a fresh batch of coffee before he’d set to work on the tire replacement so he turns around and busies himself pouring some into a generic white mug with the garage’s logo on it, his unwashed hands leaving dark streaks behind.

“Would you like coffee? Yeah, you like drip coffee. You’ll have coffee.”

“You know my coffee order?”

He turns back to Blaine and places the cup and a napkin in front of him with just a little bit too much force.

“Of course I do, you were right behind me at the coffee shop.” Kurt tries to make his voice sound light, like maybe he can convince Blaine that none of it is a big deal, but he knows he probably just sounds breathless and shaky. He sits at his desk and stares at his blackened hands for a second.

“Did you follow me here?”

“What? No! I was around and I decided to stop in because my car has this small dent in the driver’s side door. I was wondering if you did body work. And here you are.”

Kurt nods and sighs.

“Yes, here I am. Well, I’m sorry you had to witness that.” He says quietly.

“I’m sorry you have to deal with that.” Blaine answers.

“It’s 2018. One would think modern thinking has made it somewhere near Ohio and yet there are still knuckle-dragging apes making my life a living hell.” Kurt says venomously. Spite, his oldest and most effective weapon, bursts out of him

Why must you keep showing him the worst sides of you the thought is fragile, barely there.

Why must you care what side of you he knows? this one is louder, rebarbative.

Kurt hunches his shoulders and clenches his teeth, hopes he can open his mouth again without spilling more parts of himself to this near stranger.

“Well, pardon me because I’m sure this is going to sound patronizing, but I’m glad you can stand up for yourself.” Blaine says.

Kurt shrugs but he feels the corners of his lips twitch upwards. This really is the awkward babbling man Kurt met at the Alterno a few nights ago. He feels strange and itchy; uncomfortable at the thought that one of his dirty little nightclub hookup is sitting right here in his office, in broad daylight, when his employees are in the next room. From across the desk, though, Blaine is still smiling at him, sunny and soft and Kurt swallows with difficulty. It’s not a I’ve seen you naked smile. It’s a You’re wonderful smile and despite the fact that he’s spent the last few days trying to convince himself otherwise, he knows too well that Blaine is nothing like his usual nameless, shameful restroom encounters.


“What are you doing in Lima, Blaine? I’d know if you were from around here.”

Blaine blushes a little and rubs his hands together.

“I’m from Westerville, actually, but I’m coffee shop hopping.”

“Coffee shop hopping?” Kurt deadpans.

“Yeah, hopping around from coffee shop to coffee shop.” Blaine explains.

“No, I’d gathered that. I’m just wondering why you’d drive for approximately an hour and a half for coffee. What do you do for a living, Blaine Anderson?” He knows he sounds invasive, but he’s confused and he’s pretty sure that turning people’s life upside down isn’t remunerated work.

Blaine fidgets with his napkin and offers a small smile.

“Nothing at the moment.” He pauses and Kurt raises an eyebrow, waiting for him to go on. “I was… am a high school teacher. I was a teacher, I mean. I am… was. Am. Was. Am… I was a teacher, but not anymore. Though I guess I could still be one, if I wanted.”

Kurt wants to say Wow, you just open your mouth and everything sort of falls out, doesn’t it? but instead he goes for:

“So the confusion is about whether or not you still want to be a teacher, not about your qualifications?”

Blaine nods once and changes the subject rather obviously.

“And you own an auto shop!” Blaine exclaims, pointing to the nameplate on Kurt’s desk. The sentence is laden with so much awe that either Kurt misheard and Blaine actually said And you only paid 20$ for a McQueen jacket at the thrift store! or Blaine doesn’t have a very clear idea of what an auto shop is.

“Yep. I am am a mechanic. No confusion there.” He holds his grease-streaked hands up, palms towards Blaine, as if to prove his point. His smile feels tight on his face, like it’s been glued on top of his actual lips and his skin pulls when he moves. Not for the first time in his life, Kurt feels like a worthless ingrate for not being able to say it with pride.

“That’s amazing! You’re so young and you’re already a successful business owner!”

Kurt picks at his nails, stares at them for a moment.

“I inherited it, the garage.” He says, looking up at Blaine briefly, then back down, hoping that by avoiding eye contact, he’d avoid questions.

“Oh.” Is what Blaine says. From the corner of his eyes, Kurt can see him move in little twitches; he wants to scratch the scab but knows it’ll only make it bleed. “Well it sure seems to be in good hands.” Is what Blaine settles for, titling his head to establish eye contact with Kurt’s lowered gaze.

“Says the only person who’s witnessed my only moment of unprofessionalism.” Laughs Kurt. “Anyways, shall I look at your car?”

Blaine leads him to the parking lot where he left his gorgeous muscle car.

“Wow. I didn’t expect that. Cherry red ’59 Chevrolet ? Really?” He raises an eyebrow at Blaine who smiles crookedly and crosses his arms over his chest.

“Yeah. I rebuilt it with my dad the summer I turned sixteen. He officially gave it to me when I graduated high school. I’m pretty sure he’d seriously consider filicide if he saw this.” Blaine rolls his eyes.


Sure enough, there’s a slight dent in the driver’s side door; nothing that can’t be fixed. Blaine crouches down and strokes his hand over the indentation, then looks back up at Kurt. He doesn’t offer an explanation and Kurt doesn’t ask.


“You know what?” He says once he’s stood back up. “I’m not so sure I want to get it fixed after all.”

Kurt detaches his gaze from the car to frown at Blaine in confusion.

“I don’t want to sell it or anything- my father would definitely have my hide if I did that- but I think I’ll store it for a while and buy a new one. Do you have storage space here?”

“Huh, yeah, yeah. I have five storage spaces in the back of the shop and only one is taken right now, but Blaine, this is a really great car and it’s an easy fix.” Kurt points out.

“I know, but I want a car that can take me places. I feel like this one can only take me back here.”
Kurt knows that Blaine doesn’t mean Hummel Tires and Lube’s parking lot, but rather dull, flat Ohio. How can a 45 000 square miles state feel like the tiniest, most confining of straightjackets? Still, the statement makes something cold and slithering drop at the bottom of Kurt’s stomach. Something that feels a lot like dread.

“Oh. You’re leaving the Heart of it all?” he asks, feigning disinterest.

Blaine shrugs.

“I don’t know. Most of the time, I feel like I could be happy anywhere, but…” he falls silent.

“…but sometimes you think this is the only place where you can feel truly miserable?” Kurt asks quietly, kicking a stone that skitters on and on across the wide parking lot.

Blaine lets out a mirthless chuckle.

“I was going to say that I feel this is not where I could be the happiest, but I guess yours is valid as well.”

They both stare at horizon, at the late afternoon slowly declining sun, in silence, but when Kurt turns back to face the other man, he finds Blaine looking at him, eyes warm.

“See,” Blaine says quietly. “It doesn’t have to be awkward.”


Kurt draws in a surprised breath and for a second he’s sure he’s going to tense up, but instead he huffs out a tiny laugh and feels a smile almost as wide as the endless Midwestern plains stretch across his face. A little embarrassed, he playfully shoves Blaine’s shoulder and tells himself maybe he’ll let Blaine give him his number if he offers again.


After he asks Blaine once more if he’s sure he wants to store the car instead of having it fixed, Kurt parks it in one of the storage spaces at the back of the deserted shop but doesn’t throw a tarp over it yet. The late afternoon has blended into early evening and the guys have gone home. As he passes through the working area, Blaine in tow, Kurt bends down and picks up the wrench he’d carelessly dropped earlier, during his shouting match with Vic, and puts it back in place in his dad’s toolbox with a sigh. What a day.


“Are they all… difficult? Your employees, I mean.” Blaine asks after watching him silently for a minute.

“No it’s just the one, but the others are easily impressed. He’s just a big bully, really. Mostly, he barks loud but he doesn’t bite.”

“Well he seemed close enough to biting earlier, if you don’t mind me saying. I was kind of worried for a second.”

“He would never hit me.” Kurt states with a shrug.


Blaine nods and Kurt realizes that they’re standing very close. He doesn’t dare blink for the fear that if he closes his eyes for even a second, images of Blaine moving, sweating and panting on top of him will appear behind his shut lids. He swallows thickly as nervousness rattles in his chest. He feels even more out of sorts than he did that night in the cold hotel room. At the club, things are easy, rehearsed but this is different.

“Do you… do you want to come back to my place?” he asks in a whisper. He hates how unsure his hand is as he places it on Blaine’s collarbone. The other man smiles and closes his eyes. He leans into the touch and Kurt thinks he’s about to be kissed in the middle of the garage, but instead Blaine picks Kurt’s hand up, places a small kiss on it and lets it go.

“I think we shouldn’t.” He says.

Stung, Kurt takes a step back, trying to put space between the two of them because he would be thinking so clearly, so much more clearly if Blaine wasn’t so close, if Blaine wasn’t there at all. He bites his lips against the panicked words that are gathering in his mouth. His first instinct is to grasp at what’s just slipped through is fingers and he knows begging I could blow you in the backseat of your car! is not the appropriate response.

“Kurt.” Blaine steps forward. “I don’t mean that I don’t want to. I really, really want to. I just mean that we should wait.” Blaine sounds a little pleading, like he’s afraid Kurt will bolt.

“Oh. Wait.” Kurt repeats flatly.

“I think last time we rushed into things and it was…” Blaine steps even closer and lowers his voice. “It was lovely but I keep thinking about how much better it would be if we got to know each other. I… I gathered that it’s not quite how you usually do things, but I’d really like you to give me a chance. If you decide that this is not what you want, then I’m sure we’d be great friends; nothing lost”


Kurt feels wound too tight; his teeth clenched and his throat closed up. He can barely breathe so he gives up on words. He’s not sure what he’s agreeing to, but he merely nods, unable to look into Blaine’s too earnest eyes for how bare and raw they make him feel.

Blaine steers the conversation into more comfortable territories again, talks and smiles until the tension has mostly melted away and all that remains is the not unpleasant, too full feeling inside Kurt’s chest. By the time they exchange phone numbers, the sky has darkened outside and Kurt asks Blaine how he’ll get back to Westerville. Blaine tosses Kurt a carefree smile.

“I’m pretty much a certified drifter by now, I’m sure I’ll be just fine. Good night, Kurt.” He says with a wink and a wave as he exits the garage.

Kurt buries his face in his hand to hide the uncontrollable goofy smile he feels spreading on his face as soon as the door is closed behind Blaine


***



The next morning, Kurt texts Blaine.

Kurt: No, really. How did you get home last night?
Blaine: There’s a car rental place two streets away from your garage. Were you worried? :)



He huffs a laugh and looks up from his cellphone when the garage’s line rings. Kurt doesn’t particularly feel like running into Vic so he sighs in relief when the call turns out to be for a tow job; a woman who’s just been pulled over by the cops needs immediate repairs to her broken muffler if she wants to avoid getting fined for noise pollution. Kurt stuffs his phone in his pocket and grabs the key to the tow truck.


When he gets there, he greets the thirty-something, skinny woman leaning back against her white Sedan and does a quick job of chaining the car to the truck. Something about her strikes him; the way she carries herself, her casual clothes meshing with her elegant accessories. Kurt still has the eye for stylish people; they’re usually a rare sight for sore eyes in the middle of a work day at the garage.


“Where are you from?” He asks her once she climbs in next to him, knowing from experience that small talk usually makes a tow job less stressful for the customers.

He can see her eyelashes fluttering behind her sunglasses.

“Real close, by Shawnee township.”

“Really?”

Her smile is slow, her teeth almost blindingly white.

“What? I don’t look like I’m from around here?”

Kurt shrugs.

“I don’t know, I just always have a hard time imagining people living here of their own free will.”

She raises an artfully plucked eyebrow.

“Does someone keep you shackled in a basement on your days off?”

Kurt feels his cheeks heat up.

“N-no. I didn’t mean any disrespect. I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry for, honey.” She pauses. “Actually, I’m not originally from around here. I was born and raised in New York.”

Kurt does a double take, tries to be subtle about it.

“…Really? That’s… unusual.”

“You’re precious.” She laughs; the sound clear and straight-forward. “You have some big city dreams, kid?”

Kurt feels his features wilt and shrugs.

“I used to.” He presses his lips together, keeps the hopelessness trapped inside.

“I used to dream big, once. Really big.” She muses.

“I guess the time for dreams is long passed for both of us.” Kurt aims to sound wise and light-hearted but knows he mostly comes off as sad and bitter.

She remains silent for a few seconds. The smile on her lips softens, becomes more genuine.

“At one point, once you realize you can’t dream any bigger and you’re still empty inside, you start dreaming small.” She says, quietly.

Kurt is intrigued, but hesitates to ask for more details, this conversation already much deeper than his usual customer small talk.

“Besides,” she turns towards him “whoever told you there’s an expiry date on dreams is full of shit.”

Kurt snorts at how suddenly she went from being thoughtful to rude. She’s definitely an interesting lady.

“You got anyone tying you down here, honey? Love makes you do some crazy stuff, but you look miserable.” She looks at him from above the rim of her sunglasses. Her eyes are brown and piercing.

He opens his mouth to answer but for a moment, all that comes out is air.

“No it’s not like that.” He frowns. “I’m not miserable.” It sounds weak to his own ears.

She’s still smiling softly, wistfully, and turns back to face the road ahead.

“I settled down here when I met the person I love. It’s such a fucking cliché.” She laughs again. Then, her voice becomes really quiet. “Never thought it was possible to be this happy, though.”

She leans forward and fiddles with the radio. The CD he’d popped in a few days ago comes to life mid song.


" I won’t cry for you
I won’t crucify the things you do
"



Kurt smiles and turns the volume knob so he can still speak above the music.

“I love this album.” He says and flicks his eyes towards her, looking for a sign of recognition. “Are you familiar with her work? I’m always amazed at how fast people forgot about her after she died.”

“Mmh. That was a long time ago, kid.” She cocks her head to the side and crosses her skinny arms over her chest.

“My friends all had tickets to go see her show and I was really jealous, because I couldn’t go.” Kurt reminisces. “She got shot in New York, two weeks before the Cleveland show.” He shakes his head, remembers the soul-sucking sorrow he’d felt, how it had only brought back the never distant distress of his dad’s death. He allows himself to get lost in his memories for a moment. “I’m sorry, you have to stop me. I can be such a blabbermouth!”

She doesn’t answer, lets the music fill the cab.

”I wait on mountain tops and Paris cold, J’veux pas mourir toute seule.” They sing in unison.

“Hey!” Kurt says with delight. “I thought you weren’t familiar with Lady Gaga.”

She makes a non-committal sounds and shrugs one bony shoulders.

“Well, that’s pretty universal.” She says.

“The theme, you mean? Not wanting to die alone? I guess.”

She smiles.

“You speak French or you had to look that up?”

“Le français est une langue qui convient beaucoup mieux à la tristesse.” Kurt enunciates. He knows his accent and pronunciation must be horrible after so many years without practice, but he always made an effort not to lose the language; clinging to the only remotely exotic thing in his life, he guesses.

“You can be sad in any language, in any part of the world and doing the only thing you thought could make you happy. Thing is, you’ll never know until you go there and try.” She says, looking at the road ahead.


Those words sink into Kurt like rocks into a riverbed. They sink and sink until they can’t make their way further and anchor themselves there. He tries to convince himself that they’re just pseudo pop psychology from an eccentric city woman who doesn’t have enough sense in her to get her car looked at when it starts spewing infernal noises. Last time he listened to a woman like that, he was fifteen and ended drunk in school, puking on his guidance counselor’s shoes and clutching an armful of muscle magazines.
The rest of the drive is done mostly in silence, the smiling woman tapping her fingernails on the passenger side window to the rhythm of the music.


“Fernando!” Kurt hollers once they get to the garage.

“Sheesh, Kurt, no need to call my name like that, I’m right here.”

“Sorry, sorry. I just wanted to make sure my best man was available to tend to this lady’s car.” He turns to her. “I’m leaving you in good hands ma’am. The waiting area is over there.” He leans in and adds:

“Freshly stocked with this month’s Vogue, if that’s of any interest to you.”

She laughs sweetly.

“Thank you, doll. I hope you find the key to those shackles.”

Kurt leaves her with a last hesitant smile and a handshake. He doesn’t know what takes over him, but he walks straight to the red ’59 Chevy waiting at the back of the shop.

He lets his hand follow the peculiarly shaped rear deck distinctive to that year’s model and walks slowly to the driver’s side. He crouches down, and strokes the indentation there. Kurt’s always liked doing bodywork and Alex worked in a place that specializes in muscle cars for a few years, so Kurt could ask for help if he needed pointers. He knows he could get this job done rather quickly. His fingers linger on the edges of the irregularity. He wonders what happened; wonders if Blaine got into an accident. Rationally, he knows the dent is too small and not deep enough to have been anything dangerous, but he imagines it, still; the fuming car wrapped around Blaine’s body like a metal death trap. He frowns and lets his hand fall away.


“Oh wow! Is that a Classic Porsche 911?”


Kurt stands up and swirls around. The woman he just towed in has wandered into the back of the shop and is lifting the tarp off of the only other car in storage at the moment. His dad always used to say you couldn’t call yourself a mechanic if you didn’t have a dream car that you never had the time to rebuild gathering dust in a dark corner at the back of your shop.

“Yep. I always just kind of forget that it’s there; it’s been here much longer than me.”

“You can’t let a beast like that rot under a tarp! Those are pretty rare nowadays. That’s a car for going places!”

Kurt smiles wistfully. He remembers sneaking a look under the tarp as a kid and liking the color. He lays his palm on the shiny green body.

“I’d have to completely rebuild it, but I guess you’re right. With some work this baby could take me anywhere.”

She smiles at him and her eyes twinkle.


“Anywhere.” She presses, waggling her eyebrows.


Kurt laughs. They are interrupted when Rob timidly calls the woman over to fill some paperwork. She replaces the tarp and winks at him before she makes her way back to the waiting area.


“Think about it!” She throws over her shoulder.


And, weirdly enough, he does.


***



Kurt’s been working on the Porsche for a few weeks, now. He doesn’t mention it to Blaine. He doesn’t even really know why he’s doing it. He can’t pretend he’s doing it for himself or to honor his dad’s memory; every time he lays so much as a finger on that car he imagines himself riding shotgun next to Blaine on a highway to anywhere. What is he thinking? Is he building the guy a car so that he can better leave Kurt behind in a trail of dust?

They’ve been meeting for coffee at the Lima Bean almost every day, Blaine seemingly unbothered by the commute. He’s always there first, sitting in front of his laptop, typing away. Kurt hasn’t seen him looking at classifieds, but then again Blaine looks like the sort of guy who has enough money to buy a brand new model. Kurt’s a little afraid that, any day now, Blaine will open his mouth and say he’s got a car and a destination and so long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, adieu.

“I’m sorry I ran. That morning.” Kurt says out of the blue. It’s Kurt’s day off and as much as he’d like to make himself believe that the best part of days off is getting to dress to impress, he can’t deny how much he loves those lazy days. They meet at the café, order several coffees, read the paper, swap back order editions of fashion magazines and chat. When Kurt doesn’t have to rush to the garage, the need to talk is less intense and they often weave in and out of conversations, lapsing into companionable silences. “I woke up and I felt… I think I felt too good. And you were singing and it was that song.” Kurt continues.

Blaine is peeking up at him from above an old 2015 Vogue magazine. He perks up.

“You heard me sing! That can’t possibly be what made you flee.”

“So modest.” Kurt huffs and rolls his eyes.

“I was in an a capella choir back in high school. I love singing. I miss it a lot.”

“Really? I was in glee club. It meant a lot to me, even if they never gave me any solos. I wanted to become a performer. I don’t think I’ve really sang since I graduated. It used to be such a big part of me. All the friends I ever had were in that club.” Kurt says wistfully.

“What school did you go to?”

“William McKinley High.”

“Are you kidding me? McKinley beat us at the regional rounds in my junior year! How come we never met?”

“I had to drop glee club that year. That’s when my dad passed away.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.”


The silence is a little heavier than usual, but not uncomfortable. Blaine goes back to his magazines and flips a few pages before Kurt speaks again, almost in a whisper.


“My dad loved his garage a lot.” He doesn’t know why he says it, doesn’t know why he sounds like he’s trying to convince Blaine.


Blaine places his hand on top of Kurt’s on the tabletop and waits until Kurt looks him in the eyes to say:
“I’m sure he did. I’m also sure he loved you more.”


Kurt’s feels his lower lip tremble on an exhale and he bites down on it because he is no longer a teary-eyed sixteen year old. Blaine’s fingers trace soothing pattern on his hand and he starts speaking in a calm, low voice.


“After high school, I went to Boston University. I finished my teaching degree and got a spot at the school I’d made my internship at. The 8th grade English teacher was taking a sabbatical and I guess made a good impression, because they offered me to take his place for the year. It’s quite hard to find teaching spots, especially in bigger cities. You usually have to go to more remote places if you ever wish to get a permanent spot and they were making it pretty clear that if a position opened up in the next few years they’d be glad to have me filling it. When I was a teen, I went to, hum, Dalton Academy?” He pauses and looks up at Kurt who nods.

“Anyway, I was bullied a lot in public school so my parents transferred me transferred to Dalton. They had a zero-tolerance bullying policy there. I had such a great time with the choir and I made a lot of friends. I’ve always been a little idealistic, so in retrospect I realise I became a teacher hoping I could make things a little better for kids in public school who aren’t as privileged as I was. Did you have a tough time in high school?” Blaine asks.

“I actually became friends with some of my tormentors when I joined glee club, but yeah. I got shoved around. It calmed down when I came back to school after my dad died. I guess even bullies have consciences.” Kurt shrugs but he knows he’ll never forget the humiliation of climbing out of a dumpster, the frustrated tears he shed scrubbing at slushie stains on ruined clothes. The names he’s been called still come back to him sometimes and every time he finds a bruise on his body he remembers the pain of being shoved into a row of lockers. Most of all he remembers how no one had ever helped or cared.

“There was this one boy in one of my groups.” Blaine picks up his story. “The only thing he did without discrimination was bullying. So I gave warnings, then detentions, then a lot of detentions. No punishment seemed to be enough to get him to be civil so I went to the principal and got him suspended for a week.” Kurt senses Blane growing uneasy. He let’s go of Kurt’s hand and starts twisting and shredding his napkin.

“I never hid the fact that I was gay,” Blaine continues and the non-sequitur makes Kurt raise an eyebrow. “The principal and the school board knew it and I didn’t unnecessarily flaunt it but I decided that if my students ever asked, I’d be honest; show them that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, like I wish someone had done for me when I was that age. When that kid came back from his suspension, he started telling other students that I always kept him after class because…”

Blaine looks down at his hands.

“He accused me of sexual harassment. It didn’t go to court or anything, but I still had to hire a lawyer. I was lucky the school backed me up. I guess the kid realized that his lie was becoming much bigger than some petty revenge because he finally admitted that he’d made the story up, but… I couldn’t bear to go back. I knew there would always be doubts among the parents, and the students… What’s the point of being a teacher if the students can’t trust me? So I ran. Again.” He shrugs but Kurt knows that just like his bullying, that’s not something Blaine can shrug off.

“That’s awful.” He finally says in a hushed voice, aware that nothing he says could possibly make the situation any better.

“Things have been rather strained at home since I’ve been back.” Blaine’s face is pained, like he has a hard time finding the right words. “My parents barely speak to me. I’m an adult, now. Things shouldn’t be like this, you know?”

Kurt knows too well. He places his hand on Blaine’s.

“Do you think you could ever go back to teaching?” He asks.

“I don’t know. Maybe someday, who knows? Right now I’m a bit aimless but…”

“But?” Kurt encourages.

“I’ve been writing. I always wanted to write a book and I’ve had a lot of time on my hands, so…” He looks embarrassed and gestures towards his bag where Kurt knows his laptop is. “And you know what’s great about writing? I can do it anywhere.”


Blaine is smiling at him. He looks hopeful. Kurt feels himself crumbling from the inside.


“You could do anything. You could try to make it as a performer like you dreamed about in high school. You could design clothes; those brooches you make are amazing. You could be anything you want to be, Kurt.


“What?” Kurt frowns and straightens his back.


“You could go to college-”


“Are you implying that my being a mechanic is somehow not good enough, Blaine?” Kurt is angry now but Blaine raises his hands in a pacifying gesture.


“Not at all, but you do. Everyday.”


Kurt stands up and starts gathering his things.


“You know how hard it is for me at the garage! Everyone treats me like I don’t belong there!” He’s shouting in a public place but he doesn’t even care.


“Maybe it’s because you give off the vibe that you’d rather be anywhere else.” Blaine doesn’t shout back. He speaks calmly and just sits there, looking sad and defeated.


“How dare you? It’s my dad’s garage! The one he left me! He’d be proud of me, okay?” Kurt doesn’t know what’s happening. He’s crying and yelling and he knows everyone’s looking at him, but he can’t stop.


“I’m sure he would be, but I think he’d be much prouder if you were doing something that actually made you happy.”


Kurt turns on his heels and doesn’t stop when he hears Blaine calling his name. He storms out and runs to his car, the car his dad gave him.


***



Blaine: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. Please call me.
Blaine:I’m really sorry I pushed. I just want you to be happy.
Blaine:Kurt?


***



Blaine’s lying in his bed, waiting for his cellphone to buzz, like a lovelorn sixteen year old. The floor creaks in the hallway and he sees his mother’s shadow under his bedroom door. After a minute he hears her steps retreating.

Blaine feels all twisted up inside. His half-unmade luggage is still on the floor and he doesn’t know if he wants to grab its content and throw it haphazardly across the room or if he wants to grab all of his belongings and shove them in alongside what’s still messily piled in his suitcase.

It’s been two days since he’s last spoken to Kurt at the Lima Bean and Blaine is starting to think that he’s done something irreversible. His chest aches at the thought of the loss, but he thinks it was almost worth it for a chance to open Kurt’s eyes. He wants to go to the garage to see him but he thinks it would be really unfair of him to ambush Kurt in his workplace, especially since the other man obviously doesn’t want to talk to him. He’s debating whether he should send Kurt another text message when his phone vibrates in his hand. Kurt’s name flashes on the screen and Blaine’s fingers trip over themselves to accept the call.

“Kurt, hi!”

“You’re looking for a new car, right? A car that can take you places” Kurt’s voice sounds a little hoarse.

“Hum, yes.”

“Well I’ve been building one. I’m almost done.”

“What?”

“I’ve been building one. I’m almost done.” He repeats, a little louder.

“It wasn’t a What? I didn’t hear what you just said. it was a What? I have no idea what you’re talking about..”

“You don’t want to come over, then?” Kurt sounds brittle and Blaine doesn’t care about the car. He just really wants to see his friend.

“No. No, yes. Absolutely. Yes. I’m coming” Blaine babbles.

“Ok. Thanks.”

An hour and a half later, when he climbs out of his tiny little Japanese rental car, he’s surprised to see Kurt waiting for him, sitting just outside the entrance of the auto shop. The sky is dark, Blaine doesn’t know what time it is, but he’s pretty sure the garage’s closed for the night. When he approaches and gets a good look at Kurt’s face his heart seizes up.

“Oh my God, Kurt! What happened?”

Kurt stands up and sighs. His left eye his dark and swollen, his gaze never reaches Blaine’s face.

“I fired Vic.” He states simply.

“Did he do this to you?” Blaine reaches up to touch Kurt’s face but changes his mind at the last minute, lets his hands drop to his sides. He feels powerless.

“I have no idea what we were fighting about. Maybe the number of screws we keep in inventory, maybe the kind of coffee I buy for the machine in the office, I don’t know. I was kind of all up in his face with my righteous anger. I don’t know why I thought he’d never do it; I knew his problems with me went far beyond my sexual orientation. He seemed really shocked…after. He was looking at his fist like he himself never thought he’d actually snap. He was sort of in a daze and he kept apologizing. I fired him and he didn’t even say anything, except he kept apologizing.” Kurt’s voice had started out flat and empty but it had quickly climbed in pitch and his words were weak, trembling little things squeezed past his convulsing throat.

Blaine wraps his arms around him and Kurt burst into tears.

“You were right, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be here. I really, really don’t. I wanted to do the right thing, but I keep doing the wrong things.” He whispers against Blaine’s ear, his bony fingers clutched into the fabric of Blaine’s cardigan. Blaine simply shushes him and rubs his back soothingly, letting Kurt’s accumulated sorrow cascade out of him in crashing waves. Once he’s calmed down a little Kurt disentangle himself from Blaine embrace and wipes at his face. “Ugh. I’m sorry. I’m such a mess.”

“You’re beautiful.” The compliment spills out of him, simple and true.

“Shut up.” Kurt blushes and Blaine is thrilled to see one of the corners of his lips lift up.

“I think you mentioned something about building me a car?” Blaine inquires.

Kurt snorts and opens the door to the shop, lets Blaine in and locks the door.

“I said no such thing. This car is all mine. I just don’t like driving for long distances. I figured I needed a chauffeur. Ta-dah.” He says once he’s led Blaine to the Porsche. Blaine whistles appreciatively.

Kurt turns around, nervously wringing his hands. His voice his still high pitched and wavering from his earlier crying fit when he asks:
“Have we waited long enough, Blaine? Can we be together, now?”


Blaine lets Kurt’s name tumble from his lips as he crowds him against the green, shiny body of the car. He gently cradles Kurt’s injured face between his hands and whispers: “Yes, yes.”, before he finally, finally, finally kisses him.


***



Kurt asks Blaine to help him with the last few adjustments that need to done on the Porsche and it’s strangely, inexplicably intimate. Their fingers brush every time Blaine hands Kurt the tools and parts he asks for. With Kurt’s bruised face buried under the hood of the green beauty, their eyes rarely meet and their lips loosen, their secrets spilling out into the heart of the car.

“Some days I sit in front of my computer for hours. I watch the text bar blink and I wonder what makes me believe I could ever be a writer if I wasn’t even able to be a teacher.”

“Some of my high school friends are making it in New York, right now; one of them is an understudy on Broadway and another works at a fashion magazine. Every time they write, I hate myself a little more because I’m so bitter and jealous I can’t even be happy for them.”

“I didn’t use to be this awkward; I think I left trail of self-esteem crumbs on the road from Boston to Westerville.”

“Sometimes, I’ll be doing something… I don’t know, like I’ll be at the Home Depot buying a bag of seeds for my lawn and I’ll just have this one panicked moment. I’ll wonder: who is this person? Where have I gone?”

“You know that dent in my car? I kicked it in there. And I’m glad I did. I’m so, so glad.”

“I’m glad too.”




It takes Kurt only a few days to arrange his paperwork. He keeps the garage but makes Fernando manager. He sublets the house.

When the car is finally finished, Kurt gently pushes Blaine into the backseat, undresses him and climbs on top of him. He tries to replicate all of Blaine’s tender touches from their first night together and his take-charge attitude reduces Blaine to a clingy, moaning mess underneath him. The car rocks back and forth and the windows are all fogged up. Such a cliché. Kurt thinks while he’s still coherent enough and then he laughs into Blaine’s open mouth because he’s starting to really like clichés.

Afterwards, when they’ve cleaned up, Kurt stores his 2010 Navigator next to Blaine’s 1959 Chevrolet. Blaine helps him cover both cars with tarps. They’re leaving tomorrow.


***


“So you said you want to go to New York first, right?”

“Yes! It’s going to be amazing! We might not be flying there, but it will be my first road trip! We can have breakfast at Tiffany’s and go to Broadway!” Kurt’s voice is full of excitement and his eyes are sparkling. He looks a different kind of happy than Blaine usually sees when Kurt’s in a good mood. Or maybe it’s just his only real kind of happy.

Blaine has one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the stick. For the first time in ten years, there is absolutely no fear inside of him; not a single knot of anxiety. He feels lit up from the inside.

“I love you.” He says, sure.

There is a pause in which the stars shine and the night is peaceful and not a single rock drops at the bottom of his stomach.

“I love you too.” Kurt says and takes Blaine’s hand in his. They share a smile.

Kurt places the key in his palm. Blaine slots it in the ignition and turns.

The End






Please visit the art post and comment on [livejournal.com profile] evinyakwende's beautiful banner! :)

If you enjoyed this story please leave a comment. I've spent almost the entirety of the last six months being insufferable to my friend, co-workers and family, so I'd like to have something to show for it. ;)




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