Title: How We Move From A to B
Characters/Pairings: Cooper, current Kurt/Blaine, past Blaine/Sebastian, Blaine/Jeremiah, Blaine/Jesse (sorry I’m not sorry), Blaine/OC, Kurt/OC mentioned. Kurt’s father mentioned.
Words: About 4000
Warnings/Spoilers: Brief discussion of past homophobic bullying (includes use of a slur). It’s suggested that one character may have been pressured into sexual acts that he wasn’t ready for.
Summary: Blaine has finally given up on looking for love. And then he meets a burlesque performer called Porcelain.
Author’s Note: Part of the stripper!verse. This was originally supposed to be part of the story of how Blaine met Emma, but that story needs to stand on its own, and I think this does too. Also, I really, really needed to write some more “We have fallen in love and we shall stay in love forever!” cotton candy-type fluff this week. For reasons.
(Also, makeouts. I’m really starting to enjoy writing makeout sessions.)
Title comes from “Little Bit” by Lykke Li.
Everyone always told him that love would find him when he wasn’t looking for it.
He’d always really hated that saying.
But the thing is, it wasn’t like looking had really gotten him anywhere. It got him Sebastian, who made him feel desired and then made him feel… well, cheap is a word, although maybe not the best. Used, that could apply. Dirty he’s not as sure about, because dirty can be fun sometimes, and of course, according to Sebastian, that was all they ever had, dirty fun. But Blaine spent months trying to scrub Sebastian out of his pores; if anyone had fun in that relationship, it wasn’t him. So maybe the best word for it is awful. Sebastian made him feel awful.
Jeremiah never did — he was a lot more careful with Blaine, and for a while Blaine really enjoyed that, how cautious Jeremiah was. But then it started to stagnate, started to grow stale — the two of them wrapped in their separate, safe little bubbles, never really connecting. And Blaine thought about trying to pull Jeremiah back in, somehow, but there was never anything to hold on to, and they just… drifted.
A string of first dates that never really resolved themselves into a second. That thing with Blake, who was charming and sweet and treated Blaine well whenever he could make time for him (which wasn’t too often). Jesse was fun, and Blaine didn’t even mind the frequent critiques; they were, after all, familiar. But there are places where Blaine doesn’t want to be reminded of his brother, and the bedroom is just…
And then a few more first dates, and after a while, it just got to be too much work. It was easier just to keep his nights for working or hanging out with the guys, his days for sleeping in and working out and taking care of the house and taking care of himself. So that was what he did.
He stopped looking.
The problem with cliches is that they wouldn’t be repeated so often if they weren’t at least a little true.
Blaine wasn’t looking for anything more than inspiration when he dragged Cooper off to Tease-o-Rama; he really wasn’t. But then there they were, and there he was: Porcelain, spinning and twisting and flying high above them, supported by a wide band of silk and his own nerve. And Blaine watched him, and he wondered about the name. Porcelain, after all, is supposed to be fragile. But Porcelain himself seemed so strong, long and lean and flexible and beautiful, every gesture perfectly timed and weighted and balanced. He was… powerful. Exquisite.
He took Blaine’s breath away.
And the next thing Blaine knew, he was standing at the bar with Cooper and there was Porcelain himself, warm living flesh no more than half a foot from where Blaine stood, a thick brush of brown hair and astonishing eyes that were blue and green and gray all at once, his skin every bit as pale and perfect as his stage name implied, his features perfectly sculpted. His voice was unusually high, bright and clear.
He said that his name, his real name, was Kurt.
Looking at him, Blaine realized that he couldn’t remember his own name anymore.
He felt fourteen again, like he had just realized who he was and what he wanted in a partner (he wanted a boyfriend, he wanted a husband), and now he was face to face with this man who was beautiful and talented and different and for probably a good ten minutes, he was completely useless, babbling and fumbling and relying on Cooper to handle the load of the conversation while he tried to regain control of his own body.
And then… Then it just stopped.
Kurt started talking about his early adventures on the pole, and Blaine had to admit that he’d tried it, once, and would never ever risk it again, and it turned into embarrassing stage stories and how people kept trying to get Kurt to do drag (“It’s not that I don’t think I’d be gorgeous, because I know I would, but that’s not the point —”) and how Jesse introduced himself to Blaine by suggesting a place that sold lifts for his shoes (“Okay, so I’m not, like, your classic six-two, muscle-bound guy, but I’m not… It’s not even that I’m not that short, because compared to some of the guys, I am. But who cares, right? It’s me. Everyone’s got a niche, and this is mine.”) It wasn’t frightening anymore. It was easy. Like stepping up on stage, like singing a song. Kurt was every bit as beautiful as he’d been before, whipsmart and terrifyingly funny, and instead of being intimidating, it just felt right. Kurt felt right to Blaine.
Cooper drifted away, came back again, wandered back out into the crowd, finally reappeared with lipstick marks covering his face and trailing down his neck to disappear under the collar of his shirt, feathers in his hair and glitter literally everywhere, and announced that he was heading back to the hotel, and that Blaine could meet him there later, when he was ready. Which prompted Blaine to admit that he didn’t really know the city that well, that sometimes he still got lost in L.A. and he wasn’t sure he could find his way around San Francisco on his own. And then Kurt, who had apparently lived in California his whole life and was in San Francisco all the time (although he lived in L.A., like Blaine and Cooper, not even that far from WeHo), offered to show him around a little, just as soon as he’d gotten changed. And Blaine didn’t even have time to tell him that wouldn’t be necessary; Kurt was already dragging him off towards the dressing rooms, Cooper winking and waving after them.
(Blaine had already realized that although he wanted a lot of things from Kurt, he mostly wanted to be his friend, and to have Kurt around to talk to always and forever. But he couldn’t deny that Kurt was every bit as gorgeous in street clothes as he was in skintight lycra, and that no matter how he was dressed, following him would always be a wonderful experience.)
Blaine was pretty sure they got lost within ten minutes of leaving the club, but it didn’t really matter, not when he was telling Kurt about growing up and coming out in Ohio, and Kurt was explaining to him how California cow towns weren’t really all that different from the Midwest (“We act like we’re so progressive here, but once you get out of the city… I mean, all I know is that there were points in my life where it was like everyone around me really literally thought my name was ‘Hey, faggot.’”) They talked about dumpsters and dances and everything that had ever been thrown at them, from slurs to spaghetti to urine-filled balloons (Kurt seemed almost impressed by the pee balloons). By the time Blaine’s hotel finally emerged from the fog, Blaine felt like he’d known Kurt all his life.
Which made inviting him upstairs seem like the most natural thing in the world.
Anyway, it was three a.m., with fog so thick you could barely see a foot in front of you, and he was pretty sure they really had been lost for a while there, so he was honestly just trying to look out for Kurt’s safety. Because whatever they might be, later on, they were already friends. And given how quickly Kurt agreed, Kurt obviously felt the same way.
So they crept into the darkened room and huddled together on Blaine’s bed, shoes off but clothes still on, sitting on top of the blankets and whispering and giggling like two kids at a sleepover. They talked about movies, and Kurt said he liked the classics, liked the style of them, liked the romance and the formality and the ritual of it all. He said that when he was younger, that was what he wanted his love life to be, that sweeping, epic romance. He said that he still thought that the touch of the fingertips was as sexy as it got.
After that, every time Kurt’s hand brushed against Blaine’s, Blaine’s heart sped up and his breath came faster.
They talked shop, a little bit. Kurt liked burlesque because he liked the tease, the romance of it. He liked the sense of tradition, and he liked subverting the traditions, liked that it was old and yet new at the same time. And Blaine bit his lip and admitted that, while he didn’t really get turned on by his work the way some of the guys did, he liked the vulnerability of it. Liked the little blast of fear that came sometimes when he was up on that stage, about to take the last layer off with all those eyes on him, and he’d have nothing left to hide behind but a pair of briefs and his attitude.
“Controlled danger,” Kurt called it, and when Blaine nodded, Kurt shifted up a little closer so their knees were touching.
Blaine told Kurt that it felt, sometimes, like he was helping people. That sometimes he watched the women in the audience letting loose and going crazy and felt proud. Because he was part of that. He made them feel safe enough to do something like that. To be sexual and loose and free, unashamed and uninhibited, and he liked that he could do that for someone else.
Kurt didn’t laugh at him; he smiled, but it wasn’t mocking. “That,” he said, softly, “is lovely.”
No one but Cooper had ever just agreed with him like that, and Blaine felt something bubbling up inside him, something growing larger with every second.
And then Kurt told him how he felt about being a man in a female-dominated industry, and what people assumed and what they didn’t assume, and they talked about whether they were role models or not, whether they should even try to be (the consensus was, of course, yes), and somewhere around 7 a.m., they found themselves talking about “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and laughing so hard that they woke Cooper up, and he demanded they take him out to breakfast in order to make it up to him.
Fourteen hours after Blaine saw Kurt for the first time, he and Cooper dropped Kurt back off at the club to pick his things up before he headed home to L.A. Blaine gave Kurt his number, they made plans to meet up for coffee, and then they hugged goodbye. And it was just that, just a hug, but every time Cooper brought it up on the drive home, Blaine couldn’t do much more than blush and fidget with his seatbelt and scowl out the window.
Two days later, he found himself in a Starbucks, sitting across from Kurt, watching him sip his grande low-fat mocha. Every time their hands brushed, he found himself thinking about what Kurt had said, about the touch of the fingertips, and he would have been more embarrassed about how much he was blushing if Kurt’s cheeks hadn’t started to get a little bit pinker too, if his eyes hadn’t gotten that much brighter.
Blaine suggested that Kurt come out to see him perform, since Blaine had already seen him and fair was fair, and the fingers of Kurt’s left hand settled on Blaine’s wrist as he said “I’d love that.” His eyes were a little darker; he bit unconsciously at his lower lip, and Blaine couldn’t figure out why for a moment until he remembered talking about vulnerability and controlled danger, and he had to suck in a deep breath to collect himself, Kurt’s fingers still resting gently on his wrist.
But they didn’t go any further than that — Kurt’s hand on his wrist and a quick hug at parting.
And although Kurt and his friend Mercedes (and Blaine thought she didn’t quite like him, or trust him, or something, but he hoped he could change her mind) agreed to go back to Blaine and Cooper’s house for a drink after the show, Blaine wasn’t really expecting anything to happen when it was four of them and not just two. Even when it got too late for Kurt and Mercedes to go home; even when he was showing Kurt to his bedroom (because he was completely prepared to sleep on the couch; he was, after all, a gentleman). So it was a surprise when Kurt stopped him in the middle of saying “This is the bedroom,” fixed him with those blue eyes, and blurted out, “I really wanna kiss you right now.”
“Okay,” Blaine whispered, breathless.
And oh, that kiss. Kurt’s hands coming up to cup his jawline, fingers wrapping around the back of his neck, controlling and guiding him as Blaine clutched at Kurt’s waist and took everything he was given, the softness of Kurt’s lips and the hard pressure of his teeth just beyond, the way his tongue brushed at the edges of Blaine’s, light and teasing. Blaine wanted more, wanted everything, but just as he made his mind up to push in and start chasing it, Kurt drew back a little, resting his forehead against Blaine’s and breathing fast and hard. “Wow,” he said, voice shaky.
“Yeah,” Blaine said, and clutched a little tighter at Kurt’s waist, and wondered if a first kiss had ever made his heart race this way before. He didn’t think so.
“I think I need to do that again,” Kurt murmured, and Blaine wanted to ask him why he’d stopped in the first place, but Kurt’s lips were already covering his, and all that came out was a faint, muffled groan as Kurt proceeded to give him everything he hadn’t been able to ask for the first time they kissed.
This time, they stumbled all the way to the bed without breaking apart, kicking off shoes as they went, separating only long enough for Blaine to sit down on the bed and Kurt to climb onto his lap, raised up enough so that the beautiful long column of his neck was right there, and Blaine couldn’t resist it. Kurt shivered when Blaine brushed his lips underneath Kurt’s jaw; when Blaine started to kiss his way down, Kurt’s hands settled at Blaine’s waist. The first scrape of Blaine’s teeth had Kurt’s fingers tightening, pulling at Blaine’s shirt. When Blaine finally settled into the hollow of Kurt’s collarbone, where his skin was warm and soft and smelled of his soap and lotion and cologne and everything good about him, Kurt gasped softly and clung to him, pressing in close. Emboldened, Blaine wrapped his arms around Kurt and tasted the salt of his skin, drew patterns on it with the tip of his tongue, nipped at it gently, sucked a little harder, then pulled back until there was nothing but the gentle press of his lips brushing against the dampness he’d left behind.
“I suppose it’s too late to warn you that I bruise easily,” Kurt murmured, his voice a little breathy and raspy, and Blaine groaned again, pulling back enough so he could lean his head on Kurt’s shoulder, laughing a little as he fought to cool down. “Don’t worry about it,” Kurt added. “The nice thing about being Porcelain is that it’s really not that hard for me to find a good foundation match off the shelf. It’s probably much harder for you to cover a hickey.”
“That sounds like a —”
But Kurt had Blaine pressed into the mattress and was kissing him breathless before he could manage to say the word “threat.”
Of course, Blaine doesn’t bruise easily, and the faint purple marks that Kurt worked so hard for were nearly gone by the next morning, and had vanished entirely in the two days before they met for coffee again. But it didn’t matter; they both remembered what had happened. It was in the way they kissed “Hello,” just barely on the safe side of chasteness. It was in the way Blaine couldn’t keep his eyes off Kurt’s neck, and it was in the look on Kurt’s face during those few moments when Blaine did manage to lift his gaze only to find Kurt staring at his lips with a peculiarly hungry expression. It was Kurt’s hand settling on his; Kurt’s fingers wrapped around his wrist when he said “Mercedes has a gig on Thursday. It’s a small place, and she’s only got, like, half an hour maximum, but at least it’s not backup. I mean, if you’re not working, or…”
“I’d love that,” Blaine said, too quickly, and rolled his hand over underneath Kurt’s so he could clasp Kurt’s palm with his fingers, suddenly and unreasonably afraid that Kurt might pull away.
“We could meet up at my place,” Kurt suggested. “Split a cab from there. So if we wanted to… If both of us wanted to have a drink, or two, then we wouldn’t have to worry about driving.”
My place, Blaine thought, and shivered, palms going sweaty. “Sounds great,” he said, throat a little dry; he reached for his coffee with his free hand, but wasn’t confident enough in his ability to drink from it without spilling all over his shirt to actually take a sip. He felt shaky all over just at the thought of it. “I should warn you, though,” he added. “I get kind of… affectionate, when I’ve been drinking.”
Kurt just smiled at him. “I’ll keep an eye on you,” he promised.
And he did. He kept an eye on him — both eyes, even when Mercedes was onstage — and a hand on his knee as well, like he was worried that Blaine would go wandering. Not that Blaine would, of course. They had a great table, and Mercedes was a great singer, and Kurt was great, so great. Kurt was smart and funny and clever and sweet and great, and he had beautiful eyes and wonderful lips and that neck, and his broad chest and surprisingly strong arms and the spread of his fingers on Blaine’s knee and… And Blaine knew, no matter how many whiskey sours he’d had, he would never push Kurt for more than he was willing to give. But God, he wanted those hands everywhere.
Except, when they got back to Kurt’s apartment, and Blaine was finally exactly where he wanted to be, sprawled out on Kurt’s bed with Kurt’s hands pinning his wrists back into the mattress and Kurt’s weight heavy on his body and Kurt’s mouth devouring his (vulnerability, Blaine thought, controlled danger, and surrendered himself to it), Kurt pulled back before they’d gone very far, rubbed his cheek against the stubble on Blaine’s neck and chin and panted for breath, and Blaine started to wonder if he wasn’t pushing him too far anyway. Kurt liked romance — the touch of fingertips, the art of the tease — and while it wasn’t like Blaine was going to stop him if this was really what he wanted…
He needed to know. That Blaine was not Sebastian. That this wasn’t just fun for him. That he wouldn’t leave Kurt feeling used, or cheap, or awful. That he wanted to give Kurt whatever he needed, just like Kurt was giving him exactly what he needed right now.
That was what Blaine wanted to say. What came out, of course, was a garbled, incoherent mess that made Kurt push himself away, look down at Blaine with worried eyes, and reassure Blaine that he’d never think any less of Blaine no matter who he’d slept with.
Which was not really the point.
So Blaine took a deep breath, and looking up at Kurt (so beautiful, God, even still in his shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the collar unbuttoned just at the very top, he was so beautiful), he managed to get out something that almost made sense, at least to him. “But every guy I’ve ever been with, I’ve always kind of hoped… I always hoped they’d be the last one, you know?”
And it must have made sense to Kurt, too, because the next thing Blaine knew, Kurt was kissing him everywhere — his cheeks, his jawline, his neck, his collarbones — and promising that they’d go as slow as Blaine wanted, that Blaine would never be pressured into anything, that Blaine would be comfortable. Blaine almost begged, at that, because he didn’t want slow; or he did, but only if Kurt wanted slow, because Blaine didn’t need it, because Blaine knew; he’d known as soon as he saw Kurt up there on those silks, graceful and delicate and careful and anything but fragile. Blaine knew what he wanted. He wanted Kurt. But he summoned up one last bit of sanity, and said nothing more than, “I trust you.”
Which must have been the right thing to say, because Kurt resettled himself right where Blaine needed him the most, cupped Blaine’s face in both hands, and with nothing more than his talented lips and equally talented hips, proceeded to crack Blaine open and empty him right out.
But it wasn’t until afterwards, wasn’t until Blaine found himself standing naked in Kurt’s tiny bathroom while Kurt dampened a washcloth and carefully, almost reverently, cleaned him up, that Blaine realized how little he knew about being vulnerable. How many more ways there were to bare yourself to someone. And as Blaine gripped Kurt’s shoulder, stared down at the cloth held in Kurt’s pale hand, felt it rough against his oversensitive skin, he realized that, someday, Kurt would see everything there was to see in him.
And he didn’t even care.
They wrapped themselves around each other in Kurt’s bed that night, Blaine tracing the shell of Kurt’s ear with the tip of one finger (because he wanted them to have both, that was important: the romantic brush of the fingertips and the rush of vulnerability). Kurt tucked the crown of his head under Blaine’s chin and pressed light, dry kisses to the dip of Blaine’s collarbones. Then, unexpectedly, he laughed and groaned and buried his face in Blaine’s chest.
“What’s so funny?” Blaine asked, sliding his fingertip across Kurt’s shoulders to find his spine, tracing the sharp points of it.
Kurt pulled back a little bit, scooting up to rest his head on the pillow next to Blaine. He brushed his fingertips down the side of Blaine’s face. “Okay,” he said. “So I usually try not to think about my father in bed…”
Blaine made a face at that, and Kurt slapped him very lightly.
“But,” he continued, “I just couldn’t help thinking… Ever since I broke things off with Richard, he’s been telling me, you know, that love will find me when I stop looking for it, and I always —”
And Blaine couldn’t help it; he buried his face in the pillow and broke into a fit of giggles while Kurt, obviously confused, stroked his back and his hair and asked him, “Honey, are you okay?” over and over again.