So this is the unofficial (or maybe it should just be official) sequel to Perfect for Jesse St. James. Because apparently people wanted one or something. Enjoy!
(Day 1 – August 18, 2016)
Some say that time is relative, that it can be sped up and slowed down at will, that – if a person were to try his hardest – a single moment could become a lifetime. That one moment could become a person's entire world, living inside of it until his pact with time ended and he was forced to move on.
Jesse had never understood the feeling of wanting time to stop. He'd always thought such concepts were complete bullshit, because how depressing would it be to end up stuck, living in the past when there was a whole life, a whole future out there waiting?
But he thought he might be starting to understand, because he'd never actually counted down by the hour before. His life had, until now been devoid of events either so wonderful or so terrible that he simply had to know the exact moment it would be over.
Now he was sitting at a desk in a hotel room that isn't his, looking down at the illuminated screen of his phone, realizing that he only had 119 hours until it would be time to say goodbye, and suddenly that just wasn't enough anymore. His free hand rested on the desk, fingers drumming on the hard surface, watching the little numbers and wondering, for the first time, if he could slow them down.
And then it was 1:01 in the morning, and he now had less than 119 hours, and Jesse panicked.
"Blaine!" he called out, leaving his phone discarded on the desk, taking quick steps over to the closed bathroom door, his hand closing on the knob right as it turned. He released it immediately, the door pushing open to reveal Blaine standing there in nothing but an old pair of sweatpants, a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth. He raised an eyebrow, looking quizzically at Jesse as he continued brushing his teeth.
"You've been in there for three minutes," Jesse informed him, realizing just how stupid that sounds when Blaine choked on his toothpaste. But he couldn't help it; knowing there was a deadline suddenly made every moment more precious.
"Are you going to time me from now on?" Blaine asked him after spitting out his toothpaste, reaching over to take Jesse's hand as he left the bathroom. He smirked, in a way that still reminded Jesse of himself, leaning in and asking, "Or are you going to watch me on the toilet from now on instead?"
Jesse laughed, because the thought of following Blaine into the bathroom was ridiculous, but that didn't stop him from mirroring the other's smirk and answering with, "Well, I certainly wouldn't say no to a double shower."
"I'll file your suggestion away," Blaine decided, sitting down on the rather plush-looking hotel bed, pulling Jesse's hand to his lips and pressing a kiss to his knuckles. "Might as well make use of that bathroom while we've got it."
Jesse laughed again, but he couldn't help but wonder if any of these words actually held meaning, if any of these suggestions would become actual ideas. It was still a delicate place; they were still balanced on the tightrope stretched between California and New York, with no telling when it would snap. They had left nothing unsaid, nothing but what they wanted with each other, what they hoped to get out of these 119 hours they still had together.
"Lay with me," Blaine told him, letting go of his hand and scooting into the middle of the bed, lying back against the pillows. Jesse did as he was told, still in his jeans and damp shirt he'd worn to work, feeling as though such clothes shouldn't be allowed, not here in a place so clean. But he still crawled after Blaine, mirroring the other's slump against the pillows, their shoulders touching and arms pressed together.
Blaine was the one who moved first, shifting his position and tilting his head ever so slightly, leaning it against Jesse's shoulder. Both of them were stiff, rigid, afraid of what might happen if they were to re-introduce their bodies to one another.
"What's it like, waking up in someone's arms?" Blaine finally asked.
"I don't know," Jesse admitted. "I've always been the holder."
"Then what's it like to wake up holding someone?" Blaine revised, turning his face in towards Jesse's shoulder ever so slightly.
"I don't know," Jesse admitted again. He'd only held someone while they slept once, and that time had been an accident. Grace had fallen asleep while watching a movie with him, and he'd dozed off as well, only to be woken three hours later when she woke with a start, shot out of his arms, and started stammering apologies. "I've never actually woken up with someone in my arms. Not really."
Blaine seemed to consider this, his jaw moving slightly, maybe because he was chewing on his bottom lip. His body turned, curling towards Jesse, but still just barely touching him.
"Hold me," he requested, his words a low mumble against Jesse's shoulder. Jesse's breath hitched, his body tensing. It wasn't an unpleasant thought, not by any means, but this time he could at least admit he was scared.
"Yes," he said instead, rather than admitting what he felt. Blaine probably already knew, for he had always seemed to be able to figure out what Jesse was feeling before Jesse himself would. So he forced himself to slow his breathing, one arm looping around Blaine's naked torso, pulling him closer.
It had been five years and both of their bodies had changed, but they remembered each other. They fit together more out of instinct than knowledge, as if their bodies were trying to teach their minds a lesson. Just relax, they were saying. Let us figure it out. We did once before.
Blaine's body was hot, practically radiating heat, and when Jesse looked down at him, he realized the other was flushed red.
"Nervous." It wasn't a question.
"I'm being held by the man I've been secretly loathing and pining after for five years," Blaine said softly. "That doesn't even cover it." One of his arms was tucked between their bodies, pressed against his own chest, and Blaine wriggled a bit and removed it from that spot, letting it instead come to rest on Jesse's chest.
They both stared at Blaine's hand, stared at how skin that was darker than Jesse's looked against the black fabric, how it looked resting below Jesse's frantically beating heart. His touch was feather-light, hovering over Jesse more than resting on him. Jesse reached over with his free hand, covering Blaine's, as if giving him permission.
He suddenly felt the weight of Blaine's entire arm across his chest, his fingers splaying out under Jesse's hand, a light sigh escaping his lips.
"I've been waiting to do that since…" Blaine didn't finish his sentence, but Jesse knew what he meant. If he was being honest, he'd been waiting to hold Blaine again too, but had just been too scared and cowardly to admit it.
"You don't have to wear those, you know," Blaine murmured, plucking at Jesse's shirt. "You can borrow something. It's never comfortable sleeping in jeans, anyway."
Jesse smiled, because he'd been waiting to ask that very question, and Blaine had answered it already. Yes, Jesse, you will be spending the night. It was strange and new and wonderful, having Blaine take charge like that, tell him exactly what they were to do. Blaine probably was the only person he would let do that, the only person who could take the control out of Jesse's clutching hands.
"Okay," he said softly, but neither of them moved. Blaine stayed where he was, resting half on top of Jesse, half beside him, and Jesse did not release Blaine from that hold. They just laid there, Blaine in his sweatpants and his flushed skin and Jesse in his jeans and still damp T-shirt, listening to the other breathe. Listening to the other exist.
Blaine fell asleep not long after, and Jesse somehow managed to tug the comforter and sheets out from under them, pulling the sheets up to Blaine's chin, because he remembered that's how Blaine liked them. He wouldn't be able to explain how he'd managed such a feat without releasing Blaine from his hold, but he did so.
And then he suddenly realized that Blaine was asleep and he was awake. He was the one making conscious decisions now, just like he had five years ago.
It was like he was nineteen again, and they weren't lying on an over-stuffed hotel mattress, comforter bunched around their ankles and sheets tucked under their chins, heads resting on soft pillows that could be likened to clouds had the latter any substance. No, he was nineteen and lying on the sticky leather backseat of his own car, heart pounding as he realized what he'd just done, what decision he had made the moment he'd kissed his best friend.
He could leave, could just let Blaine go and walk away, just like he had before. But he wouldn't, because he'd just found Blaine again and Blaine didn't hate him and maybe they would be able to figure something out. He couldn't give all this up, even if it would be ever so easy to run away from the 119 hours they had left, some of which Blaine was now sleeping away.
He could run away from saying goodbye, but maybe the five days would make the goodbye worth it in the end. Maybe they would find a happy ending, would find a way to make it work. Because Jesse loved Blaine and maybe Blaine still loved him too, and that was all that really mattered, right?
His grip tightened around Blaine's slumbering body, reveling in the feel of him, holding him as he, too, drifted off to sleep.
Blaine was still there when he woke up, and Jesse held him until he, too, awoke. There was a kiss good morning that tasted like something left in the toaster too long, and their bodies were sweaty from being pressed together for so long, but they woke together.
And Jesse knew that if this was what he had to look forward to, he wouldn't mind working out all the bumps in the road.
(Day 2 – August 23, 2016)
"You need to stay," Blaine told him, their hands clasped together, Jesse's feet shuffling on their own as he fidgeted where he stood. He'd always hated airports, hated the waiting and the navigation and the security checks and the way his ears popped when the plane took off. But he now realized that there was one thing about airports he hated even more.
Having to stay behind.
"What gives you the right to decide what's best?" he asked, challenging Blaine one more time.
"The fact that you made that decision for the pair of us and then it took five years to fix that mistake."
Jesse's movements stilled, his mouth a straight line when before it had been turned up into an almost playful smile. He'd always expected Blaine to relent at the last second, tell him to fuck it and come along, tell him that they'd work out what he would do and how he would fit into Blaine's tiny apartment once they landed.
But he had been mistaken all along, because Blaine didn't want him to come. He wanted him to stay, and all those times Jesse had brought it up, telling him again how he could audition out there and how he wouldn't mind waiting tables if it meant they could be together, he had just been humoring himself.
"So it really was just five days, then," Jesse said, his voice barely a whisper.
"Five days," Blaine repeated. "Five perfect days spent with you in your city. I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend them."
"But…" Jesse's brow furrowed, because since when was he the emotional one, the nostalgic one? That had always been Blaine's job, sniffling over things in the past while Jesse rolled his eyes and told him to get on with his life. "But I don't want just five days."
Blaine met his gaze, and Jesse realized that while his voice is strong and unwavering, his eyes were full of emotion, full of his own wishes to stay or wishes for Jesse to come along, wishes that should remain unsaid out of fear that he should get his way.
"Sit with me," he instructed, walking over to a row of plastic seats. Jesse didn't let go of him for an instant, and they sat down in unison. Blaine seemed to crumple closer to him, leaning heavily on him for support. They sat in silence for a few long moments, until Jesse broke it.
"I don't want to do the long distance thing," he admitted, because he should have said that right off the bat, made it clear that he was in this for all the right reasons, rather than all the wrong ones. He wasn't trying to atone for a past mistake, not anymore. He was trying to build something. Something special and meaningful, something that could last if they gave it a chance.
"No," Blaine shot him down, just like he had every other time he'd proposed the idea. "It's rather fitting this way. Instead of running away from each other, we'll have to come running to each other. It will prove that it really is worth something."
"Blaine," Jesse tried to say something again, but Blaine cut him off.
"I'm not crazy about it either," he confessed, "but it won't work. Not now. We can't rush into something. We'll talk next time. We'll figure it out then. For now… we let things lie. You have work, and you'll be hearing back from that audition on Tuesday, and I have a contract I can't back out of. The timing isn't right."
"We have to talk next time," Jesse insisted. "We have to."
"We will," Blaine promised, but when he sighed it was with resignation, not content, and Jesse knew that they wouldn't.
Silence took over again, and they just sat there, Blaine still leaning on Jesse and Jesse holding tight to Blaine. Holding Blaine was becoming harder and harder, because with each tick of the clock on the wall, Jesse knew he was one second closer to having to let go. He'd never been the clingy one, never been the one who wanted more time together, but now he wanted to stop that clock with one glare and stay with Blaine for as long as he wanted.
Blaine shifted in his seat, turning towards Jesse and reaching over to put an arm on his chest. His fingers tickled against Jesse's neck, his thumb pressing against his jaw line while the other fingers gently wandered across the exposed skin. He kissed Jesse's collarbone, then murmured into the skin, "I really do fucking love you, okay?"
"I know," even Jesse's words sounded sad, because saying that you love someone was supposed to be a good thing, but now it felt like someone had twisted his stomach into a knot.
"Can you kiss me now?" Blaine asked. "I feel like shit and I don't want to think anymore."
And Jesse should say no, he should tell Blaine that there is absolutely no way they were going to kiss when there were about fifteen things they needed to talk about, but when Blaine looked up at him he just looked so sad, so Jesse kissed him. It wouldn't make anything all better and it definitely wouldn't explain anything for either one of them, but it was nice.
But watching Blaine leave, watching him walk to his gate and watching that plane take off… that was not nice at all.
(Day 3 – April 3, 2018)
The music was loud, pounding in Jesse's head, and he wasn't entirely sure why he'd come here. He was with a few friends, so he supposed that was why he decided coming would be a good idea, but now that he was sitting in a club with a small glass of something one friend bought for him clutched in a sweaty hand, watching everyone else dancing and chatting together, he wasn't entirely sure why he decided to come.
It wasn't like he'd lost his taste for going out with friends for some dancing and a few drinks. Just last month he had been the one who had been doing the dragging, pulling a few cast mates along until they finally agreed it sounded like fun and fell into step with him.
But tonight marked the third month in a row that he and Blaine hadn't been able to make it to see one another, and the last thing Jesse felt like doing was celebrating not seeing him for that long. It was strange, keeping count of days like this, because Jesse had never kept track of such things before, but now that he and Blaine have reached some sort of agreement about how this was supposed to work, Jesse spent his time marking off days on the calendar, sleeping beside his phone more in case Blaine called him or sent him a message than the fact that it was his alarm.
They had tried to get together, of course. Multiple times. Blaine had been meant to come up in the middle of that first month, but then he'd had a family emergency and had to get a plane to Westerville instead of New York. The month after that, Blaine had tried again, but a new label had picked up his band, so he'd had to stay. And then Jesse had decided the month after that to make it his turn to travel, and of course that was when he'd finally booked a role.
So they were stuck on opposite ends of the country, Blaine playing shows and going out schmoozing every single day, and Jesse stuck in rehearsals, preparing for his Broadway debut. He'd never expected finally making it to feel so bittersweet.
Because when Jesse looked back on their time together, they hadn't really had all that much. It was now almost two years since those five days they'd spent together after finding each other again, after they'd agreed that it was time to stop running and time to start working towards something. Jesse had assumed it would be all sunshine and rainbows form then on out, and that one of them would eventually be able to move to the other's city, but that had not happened. Blaine stubbornly told him no every time he brought the subject up, every time he tried to say that maybe he could make it in LA as an actor instead of New York.
They stayed on their opposite sides of the country, seeing each other once a month, Jesse racking up quite the impressive airfare bill, since he was the one who didn't need to stay in his city for work. Blaine had come to New York once or twice, but for the most part, Los Angeles had become their city.
It was fitting, since Jesse had run away from that very city to get away from Blaine, that he had to come back now when he wanted to see him.
Jesse had to admit that he was lucky to see Blaine as often as he did, considering most long-distance couples only see each other once or twice a year. But now that he was sitting in a club, remembering how he'd brought Blaine here the last time he'd been in New York, and realizing that he was three months overdue seeing him, he didn't feel so lucky anymore.
This was just plain depressing.
His eyes swept the room again, wondering if his friends were occupied enough not to notice if he slipped out early. Go figure, then, that two of them were hovering near the door. Sighing with resignation, Jesse looked around the room again, wondering if there was anybody here who looked as bored or anti-social as he did. The idea of striking up a conversation with someone was so much more appealing than getting dragged out to dance with people he had absolutely no interest in dancing with.
That was when he spotted her.
She was sitting alone, like him, an empty glass on the counter in front of her. A red headband held back her dark, curly hair, and she wore a navy dress with a very modest neckline, though the skirt was rather short. Jesse found himself chewing on his bottom lip as he looked over at her, for if Dalton Academy had had female cheerleaders, they surely would have looked exactly like this woman.
He wasn't sure what it was that got him out of his seat and walking over to her, but nevertheless, he did just that.
"Hi," he said kindly, smiling at her. "I'm Jesse."
"I'm not interested," she told him, voice firm.
"Oh," he was taken aback. "I thought maybe you could use some company, but if not, I guess I'll just–"
"Good plan," she advised him, eyebrows knitting together. They were thick eyebrows, but she kept them nicely groomed, and they did not look out of place on her face.
"What?" she asked, which was when Jesse realized he was staring.
"You have pretty eyebrows," he said.
"And you have no idea how to talk to a woman," she decided, shaking her head and standing up. "Come on." She offered him her hand.
"Come on," she repeated. "I like guys with no game."
Jesse was thoroughly confused, but at least this woman was interesting as opposed to boring or ditzy or any other number of things he hadn't been looking for, so he allowed himself to be lead into the throng of dancers. She settled her arms loosely around his neck, and he put his on her waist. It was strange, the way her hips flared out, when he was so used to a distinctively male body lacking such anatomy.
It was hot and loud and soon enough their bodies were pressed together thanks to everyone else pressing in around them. He'd fallen into step with her, adapting to the changing rhythms of the different songs, and yet he still felt large and oafish, his hands sliding when he tried to keep them in the same spot on her back, his feet shuffling back and forth, moving with none of the dexterity he'd learned from years of dancing.
If the woman noticed, she said nothing. She spun around once or twice, and Jesse found himself looking at the way her skirt moved when she did so, how the loose fabric fluttered against her skin, just below her – he now noticed – rather round ass.
She really was very attractive.
And he really was very lonely.
It was a recipe for disaster, missing Blaine and dancing with a woman who looked, save for her light blue eyes, to be the female version of him, even dressed in an outfit a female Blaine would probably wear. Jesse knew where this story was supposed to end up, knew how every shitty movie would have this end. There would be a cut-scene to the two of them kissing, to things getting rushed and frantic, and then the scene would go to black, opening on a messy bedroom with clothes strewn all over the floor and both of them asleep and naked in bed together.
Except the recipe is missing a key ingredient, or maybe it's Jesse who has something a little extra added in.
Because even while he finds himself physically drawn to this woman, he keeps getting a shock every time he looks into her face and realizes that those are light blue eyes he's looking into. They aren't the eyes he wants to see, aren't the eyes he trusts and wants and loves.
He excused himself after a few minutes or a few hours, unsure of the time or where he was anymore. She looked disappointed, but did not ask him to stay, and Jesse then found himself outside the club, still with no idea what time it was, calling Blaine and tapping his fingers on his leg while he waited for the other to pick up.
"Jesse?" came Blaine's groggy voice on the other end.
"Blaine!" he all but shouted.
"Jesse, what the fuck? It's one in the morning."
He thought back, because Blaine never went to bed that early, and he couldn't really find it in himself to care that it was apparently four in the morning his time. And that was when it all came back to him, how Blaine's schedule changed from nights to days, how they're spending their mornings in the recording studio and he needs his rest, like a proper adult now or something.
"Sorry," he said, his hand going to his forehead. "I just… I needed to talk to you."
"Can't it wait?" Blaine moaned, and Jesse felt a twinge of guilt because he clearly just woke him up for no reason other than to tell him that, oh hey, I could have just cheated on you but guess what? I didn't!
"Yes," he shook his head. "Yeah, sorry, I just… I didn't realize it was so late. I'll call tomorrow. Or, no, you call me, because I'd probably call during your recording session thanks to the damned time difference."
"Promise," Blaine said sleepily, his voice tapering out at the end of the word. He yawned, and Jesse heard his sheets rustling, presumably as he turned over to go back to sleep.
"Good night, Blaine," Jesse smiled.
"Nigh' ni-igh', Jes-se," Blaine yawned twice, then he made a happy sighing noise that made Jesse's face break into a gigantic smile. Then, suddenly awake, Blaine asked, "Sing to me until I fall asleep?"
"Of course," Jesse agreed, even though he was standing on a street corner and the bouncer at the door was already looking at him funny. "Any requests?"
"The usual," Blaine sighed again, and Jesse heard a little tap and then suddenly he heard humming in the background, so Blaine must have put him on speaker. Jesse's smile grew even wider, and he found himself picturing Blaine lying in his darkened bedroom, covers pulled up to his chin, lying on his stomach with his phone beside him on his pillow, half asleep with a smile on his face. It was a beautiful picture, one that Jesse had committed to memory and even had saved in his phone, because he would have been a fool to not take advantage of all those trips to LA and watch Blaine while he slept.
Jesse knew what the usual was, knew that Blaine wanted him to sing him to sleep with Gavin Creel's softer music, but he found himself singing something completely different, found himself singing something so strangely appropriate that he started to wonder how two songwriters could be so wise and yet still so unknown.
He could hear Blaine's breathing change halfway through the song, and he knew that he had fallen asleep, but Jesse still sang, needing to confess what had just happened to the slumbering man who would probably not remember any of this the following morning. Tears that had formed in his eyes traced his cheeks on their way down his face as he sang, "I just know you, and you're not here."
He had never made a habit out of crying while singing before, but it had finally hit him just how badly he wanted Blaine, needed him here, and Blaine was still on the other end of the country, sleeping while he cried. The one man Jesse had let in completely wasn't here to see him like this, wasn't here to see how much he cared, wasn't here to hold him and brush away his tears and tell him he was being stupid. He missed Blaine so fucking much that it was starting to physically hurt, starting to make him feel like someone had kicked him in the stomach and then kept repeatedly kicking him, day after day, until his skin was permanently bruised.
"I love you," he whispered to the sleeping man, then ended the call.
(Day 4 – December 25, 2019)
The radio in the corner played old Christmas hits from before the pair of them had been born, reminding them both of Christmases spent at home as youngsters, when their parents had played them Bing Crosby and told them how music just wasn't the same as it used to be. It was relaxed, cozy, and the entire room smelled of pine, and if they closed their eyes they could pretend that they were in a family room of their very own, with a tree and a fireplace and mistletoe hanging in the doorway.
Except that was not at all where they were, but it was their first Christmas together, and they were going to make the most of it.
They were in the lobby of a hotel in Westerville, neither one of them keen on the idea of spending their nights in Blaine's old house with both of his parents. It was late, much later than most people in Ohio would have been awake, but there they sat on one of the couches, Blaine slumped against Jesse's relaxed form. Jesse was singing in Blaine's ear, smile growing wider with every contented sigh that escaped Blaine's mouth.
"I wish every Christmas could be like this one," Blaine said, and Jesse just 'mmm-ed' his agreement before singing along with the next verse. Blaine wasn't drunk – Jesse had monitored the man's alcohol intake very closely, thank you very much – but he might have had a few sips of wine too many, which was doing nothing of consequence whatsoever.
Not now that they were away from Blaine's parents, because as much as Jesse liked it when Blaine wasn't afraid to hold his hand or kiss him when they strayed back into their conservative high-school stomping grounds, he didn't think that doing any of this in front of them was a good idea. It wasn't even the gay thing; it was more the fact that no child likes to have their parents watching them when they're trying to be affectionate like that.
The song ended, and even though it was now Nat King Cole's turn, Jesse didn't continue singing along.
"So I met your family," he grinned, making Blaine chuckle and nuzzle closer, turning his head to kiss Jesse's chin.
"I think they liked you," Blaine decided.
"Even though it took you four hours to decide I was your boyfriend?" Jesse joked, because he wasn't upset, not really, because had they been in Akron instead of Westerville, he wouldn't have known what to call Blaine, either.
"Then they liked you even more," Blaine told him. "Dad said that, when you were washing dishes with Mom. He told me to just tell him next time instead of worrying about it."
"So they don't remember me as the dickhead Jesse from high school?" he wondered aloud, making Blaine chuckle a bit too loudly and for a bit too long.
"I never told them about you," he admitted. "We only ever saw one another at school, really, and then during the summer they didn't care what I got up to anyway. So long as I was out with friends, they didn't care who."
"I'm hurt," Jesse feigned this in his tone. "I thought for sure I would have scored an honorable mention somewhere down the line." But then he turned his own head to kiss Blaine's temple. "But I like it better this way. Now when we finally move in together your Mom and Dad won't be worried that I'll ditch you."
"Oh, are we moving in together?" Blaine asked.
"Yes, we are," Jesse decided for the pair of them, and because Blaine was fuzzy from the wine, he just giggled instead of making a comment about Jesse not consulting with him first.
"I never want to spend another Christmas without you," Jesse told him honestly, and even though Blaine had just been giggling, he became serious in the blink of an eye. He turned, pulling away from Jesse slightly.
"You really mean that, don't you?" His eyes were wide, searching Jesse's face, but for what he did not know. Maybe a trace of laughter to show it was a joke? But it wasn't a joke, so he would be met with a completely passive face, lips curled up in a slight smile.
"Of course I do," his smile widened. Blaine matched it, then leaned in, pressing their smiles together. It took them a few moments, because for a few seconds they were torn between the urge to laugh and the need to kiss one another, but the kissing won out in the end, of course. It was happy kissing, the kind that got broken off every few seconds to exchange smiles and a few light chuckles, but then they would remember just how tempting the face hovering in front of them was, and they would be kissing again.
They managed to end up half-lying half-sitting on the couch, Jesse hovering on top of Blaine, which was when someone in uniform came over to tap Jesse on the shoulder and told him that the two of them were to leave the lobby if they were to continue that sort of display.
Jesse looked at Blaine, whose hair was now all messed up and who looked both confused and humiliated, and he burst out laughing.
"S-sure," he choked out. "W-we'll go. S-sorry." Seizing Blaine's hand, Jesse pulled him over to the elevator, still laughing when he pressed the 'up' button, sniggering when the elevator dinged as the door opened.
"What's so funny?" Blaine asked, but Jesse just pulled him inside, jammed the 'door close' button, and kissed him again. Neither bothered to press their floor number or any buttons in the elevator at all; Jesse was far more occupied with the buttons on Blaine's shirt and vice versa. Eventually Jesse managed to steer Blaine into the buttons while kissing him, and the elevator started moving, making both men jump and break apart.
Then they were both laughing, because it was just a stupid elevator and they should have just gone up in the first place, because wouldn't it have been smarter to do all this behind their locked door? But then again, impulse control has never been and will never be one of Jesse's strong points, and it was beginning to seem like Blaine was the same way.
Shirts un-tucked and unbuttoned and with ties hanging loosely around their necks, they laughed the entire way to their room, though Blaine still wasn't sure what the joke was.
"Maybe we should just stay here forever," Jesse suggested, closing the door behind them and resuming his work on Blaine's shirt buttons. "It's comfortable, the staff are nice, and it sure beats both our apartments in our respective cities. Plus you're here."
"Oh, thank you for finally thinking of me," Blaine teased. "I'm glad I come after how comfortable a room is."
"Any room is comfortable with you in it," Jesse said sarcastically, making Blaine laugh again. He seemed not to be paying attention to what Jesse was doing with his shirt, for he jumped when Jesse pushed it off his shoulders and started kissing down his neck.
"If you weren't currently – oh – making it really hard to concentrate, I'd… I'd…" Blaine seemed to forget what he was trying to say, and Jesse could feel his entire body relaxing, going back to how limp it had been downstairs on that couch.
"You can make fun of me tomorrow," Jesse told his neck. "Right now there are much more pressing matters that need taken care of." And he kissed Blaine again, steering him backwards into the bedroom. They fell into the bed together, a mess of tangled limbs and half-removed clothes, giggling and kissing and more giggling.
"Hey Jesse?" Blaine finally said, propping himself up on his elbows to look at the man hovering above him. "Merry Christmas, Jesse."
"Merry Christmas, Blaine," Jesse beamed at him. "Now let me give you your present."
"But you already did," Blaine told him, confused. "You got me tha–"
Jesse cut him off with a kiss.
"Your other present, then, Blaine."
"I have a question for you."
"What are you doing this weekend?"
"My show. Why, are you coming in again?"
"No… it's stupid, but… my ten-year school reunion is this Saturday and… and I was wondering if you would come with me."
"…as your what, exactly?"
"I'm not sure."
"Well, I'm your… I'm your Jesse. And you're my Blaine."
"That sounds so high school-slash-college."
"It does… but you are. I guess. But forget I said anything, I–"
"No, I'll be there."
"I'll be there. I'll make it work. Call me with the details once I get everything settled?"
"Talk to you soon, then."
(Day 5 – July 2, 2021)
It is impossibly weird, walking into Dalton's campus center holding Blaine's hand. Jesse stares around at the once-students milling about, taking in the way almost all of them have a woman hanging onto their arms, smiling around politely with whitened teeth, all in cocktail dresses and heels, hair done up in buns. They paint imposing pictures, each of them strikingly beautiful and slightly stern behind their painted smiles.
And then there is Kurt, who had been invited even though he hadn't graduated from Dalton, invited maybe out of a sense of camaraderie, who was standing side by side with another man, seemingly the only other same-sex couple in the room.
There are stares. It seems like everyone is staring and they probably all are staring, because Blaine was popular in high school, the guy they all looked up to, and here he is turning up holding the hand of the boy who had been his best friend, the boy who had ruined his life, the last these people saw them. To them, he isn't the man who had been slowly putting things back together, but the man who had left their friend in his moment of greatest need.
Kurt stares the longest, of course, his mouth a thin line, clutching the sleeve of the man Jesse presumes to be his husband, if the rings on their fingers are any indication. Kurt's face is worn, tired, and Jesse spots fading powder under his eyes when they walk past, no doubt there in a desperate attempt to cover up purple circles. Maybe it's his work that's so stressful – because he's heard that Kurt managed to make it as a designer and still pursues singing on the side – but then later on he overhears Kurt on the phone, asking how "the little angels did at bedtime," and Jesse knows it's the strain of fatherhood instead.
He finds himself staring at Blaine from afar, sitting at a solitary table while Blaine greets old friends, watching as he's shown picture after picture of toddlers and babies and even one eight-year-old, watches as the smile on Blaine's face becomes more and more forced.
And then he's staring at Kurt again, having not been ignorant to the fact that he and Blaine have yet to speak, and he wonders if Blaine regrets how things have turned out. Maybe he wishes that he could be the man on Kurt's arm, the one whose entire being seems to light up when Kurt smiles, the one who gets to kiss him and hold him, the one who is now raising a family with him.
He doesn't miss the wistful look in Blaine's eyes as he's shown yet another photo of a child.
Blaine's always been the romantic of the two of them, even if he's never been particularly good at it, but now Jesse's realizing that the romantic wishes he has don't just extend to the happily ever after the fairy tale ends with. Blaine knows what comes next, knows what he wants that happily ever after to contain, and it's written plain as day on his face.
Jesse considers this, now painfully aware of how they've never actually talked about the future, not past their next trips into the others' respective cities, at least. They've been trying to work towards something for the past five years, trying to fix the mistake that happened now ten years ago, but they've never managed to talk things through all the way. They live on an agenda of maybes and somehows, live in the space between them, live by the schedules of trains and busses and planes, and it's all passed by unnoticed. They've become dependent on the distance because they don't know how to be together completely, living for stolen weekends and quick day trips, for holidays spent together rather than with families.
They live two worlds apart, where Jesse is the city boy with city dreams, and Blaine is the boy in love with the city but longing for green pastures. He wants to put his own dream on hold, put the playground of Los Angeles to rest and trade it in for a suburban house with a swing set out back, where they'll argue over whose turn it is to mow the grass in summer, whose turn it is to rake the leaves in fall, whose turn it is to shovel the drive in winter. He's a city boy, but his heart lies elsewhere, lies in the future he's planned for himself and now has to watch others living.
And he realizes that if they are to make any progress, if they are to make this last, they need to start learning how this is supposed to work. Compromises aren't supposed to be who is flying into a new time zone this week. Compromises are supposed to be who does the dishes and who takes out the garbage. Who puts their career on hold to care for the newborn. Who gets out of bed in the middle of the night when the children are frightened.
Jesse is up and out of his seat before he realizes it, walking over to Blaine with determination pounding in every footfall. He doesn't hear the conversation Blaine is having with the two men he's sitting with, only catches a snippet of how the one had to try six times to give a particularly squirmy five-year-old his booster shots, and then he clears his throat.
"Blaine, can I talk to you?" he asks, because this can't wait, it really can't. It doesn't matter that he managed to score a whole week out of the show and that they'll have that whole week together. This needs to happen and it needs to happen right now.
"Sure," Blaine looks confused, but he excuses himself anyway, not even protesting when Jesse grabs his hand and pulls him out of the campus center and out onto the walkway, where the only eavesdroppers are the fireflies lazily dancing through the sky around them.
"What's up?" Blaine asks, grinning at him. "Bored already? I have to admit it's not exactly living up to my expectations either. If I have to hear one more story about what little Suzie or what little Jeffrey did that was oh so cute, I think I'll barf."
"Don't give me that," Jesse tuts. "You love kids."
"That I do," Blaine agrees, shrugging a shoulder. "But I'd rather hear about what my friends have been up to, not their children."
"Do you still want a family?" Jesse asks him, and this seems to catch Blaine off guard. He stares at Jesse for a moment, eyebrows knotting together.
"Do you still want a family?" Jesse repeats, tone patient.
"And who said I wanted one in the first place?" Blaine counters, but Jesse knows he's only saying it because he's confused and he wants Jesse to get to the point of why he dragged him out here. He knows Blaine, knows that the other does want a family, except that they've never talked about any of that because they haven't even talked about one of them moving to the city the other lives in.
"It's obvious," Jesse tells him. "Blaine, you've always wanted a family. You were picking out names for your kids when you were fifteen, remember?"
"People can change their minds," Blaine points out, but Jesse shakes his head.
"Not about this. You still want it, still want the suburban house with the big backyard and the kids running around outside." Blaine's smile widens just a fraction. "You want the big kitchen and the dog and the bunk beds even if the kids don't share a room. You want the photo albums with nothing but pictures of babies in the bathtub and the bottoms of their feet."
Blaine seems to catch himself smiling, because his mouth is suddenly set in a grim line.
"One day," he says evasively. "One day, maybe."
"With me?" Jesse dares to ask. "Or with someone else?"
"What do you mean?" Blaine frowns.
"I mean, do you want me in that future?" Jesse finally asks, watching Blaine's chest rise sharply with his intake of breath. "Because if you don't, if you can't see this being anything but a reason to spend our paychecks on airfare, then we might as well call it quits right now."
Blaine just stares at him, mouth falling open slightly, breath coming short and fast. Jesse waits. It feels like it takes forever for Blaine's breathing to even out, for him to finally figure out what it is he wants to say.
"You still belong in New York City," is what he says, his feet shuffling. "I can't – I can't take you away from that."
"There's theatre in Los Angeles," Jesse reminds him. "There are recording studios in New York. Blaine," he reaches out and takes both of Blaine's hands, holding them tightly, "there is no reason why we can't figure something out."
"I," Blaine swallows thickly, looking down at their hands, "I do want to figure something out. I just…" He sighs heavily, posture slumping, seeming to crumble before Jesse's eyes. "I'm scared. It's easy, knowing that you'll be waiting for me, knowing that you can't run away if we're already on opposite sides of the country, that I can't run away when every single fucking part of me keeps telling me to go back." His voice lowers. "What if one of us does move, and then it all falls to shit?"
He looks up, meeting Jesse's eyes, and Jesse can see the same fear he saw in them the day he left for Los Angeles for the first time, after they promised to be with each other and only each other – fuck distance – and that they would somehow make it work. Blaine is still afraid that Jesse will walk out on him, and as for Jesse himself… well, he doesn't quite know what he's afraid of. He's just scared all over again.
They speak at the same time, looking into each other's eyes and clutching tightly to each other's hands.
"I don't want to lose you again," is what Blaine says.
"I think we should get married," is what Jesse says.
And then Blaine is staring at him again, mouth hanging open again, his head cocked slightly to one side. Jesse doesn't know what to do, because he hadn't meant to say that, not one bit, but now that he has said it he realizes that, oh, yeah, actually he does think that's a good idea. It just probably was not the most opportune time to mention it, if Blaine's stunned expression is any indication.
"You think," Blaine's words come out a squeak, "that we should get married?"
"Yes," Jesse answers immediately, sounding much more confidant than he feels. His heart is thudding so loudly that he can feel it all the way up in his ears, blocking out the sound of people talking inside and the insects buzzing around them, blocking out every sound that could come between him and his nerves. He has to swallow hard to get that to stop, lest he miss something Blaine says.
"We can't," Blaine shakes his head.
"Why not?" Jesse asks, laughing because he thinks he just proposed and he has no ring to prove that yes, he does think this is a good idea, and he has no idea if guys are even supposed to give each other engagement rings, and – oh shit – what if Blaine wants one and he has to admit that he doesn't even know what Blaine's ring size is and why the hell is he worrying about ring sizes when, if he's being honest, he doesn't even know half of the things he should know about Blaine?
But he knows that he wants to marry him.
"You're just saying that," Blaine shakes his head, and he tries to take a step away, but Jesse keeps a tight hold on his hands. "You're just saying that because everyone in there is already married and has kids and you think I'm having a case of the green monster and you're trying to fix it with something that won't fix anything at all."
"No, I'm not," Jesse promises, letting go of one of Blaine's hands and reaching out to cup his jaw line, thumb brushing against his cheek. "Because it's time the pair of us figure out what we want, and I want you. I'll want you whether we live in New York City or Los Angeles or even if you want to move back to Westerville. I don't want to just be your Jesse; I want to be your husband Jesse."
"You're supposed to be the one who isn't good with words," Blaine all but whines, but then he's crushing himself against Jesse's body, head on his shoulder and one arm awkwardly trapped between their chests, the other grabbing at the jacket covering Jesse's other shoulder and clinging on. Jesse's arms are around Blaine's waist in an instant, holding him there and leaning in closer to him.
"I guess all the acting paid off," Jesse decides, murmuring it against Blaine's neck. "I've picked up a few things here and there, one of them being how to talk properly to the man I love."
"This is so unfair," Blaine mumbles back, but he manages to wiggle his arm out from between them and hook it around Jesse's neck, which Jesse takes as a good sign. But then he doesn't say anything or do anything more, just stands there, holding Jesse and letting Jesse hold him, and this is suddenly awkward all over again because Blaine hasn't actually given him an answer, so maybe he should do something about that.
'Do something about that' roughly translates to 'kiss your boyfriend right now, dammit,' so Jesse does just that, pressing their cheeks together for a moment then turning his own face so he can press his lips to that same spot. He can feel Blaine leaning closer, so he turns a bit more and kisses the corner of Blaine's mouth.
It's slow and sweet, the way they're kissing each other, so very different from how rushed and almost panicked they usually are that it's making it hard for Jesse to remember how to breathe. Sometimes they aren't even moving, just standing there with their lips pressed together for a few seconds, before one of them ever so slowly fits their lips together in a new way. It's almost too slow, but neither one makes any attempt to change that.
And they just keep standing there, locked together and barely moving, swaying slightly and tasting Jesse's toothpaste and the little sandwiches Blaine had been eating inside, and then there's something salty and Jesse can't tell which one of them started crying because he can't feel anything except for Blaine. Blaine is the only thing that exists, the only thing that matters.
Blaine is the one who breaks the kiss, bending his head yet still keeping his arms locked tight around Jesse, making no move to pull away. There is silence between them again, until Blaine breaks it, whispering, "Yes," so quietly that he shouldn't have heard, so quietly that Jesse doesn't even know if Blaine himself knows what he's just said.
Then, louder, "Yes." His voice shakes, but Jesse can hear his determination; even in this whisper he can hear it.
And then they're laughing and Jesse's arms are starting to hurt from how tightly he's squeezing Blaine, but he can't let go and won't let go because he knows – he knows – that they're going to be okay. They'll argue over the cake and who to invite and where to live and they'll probably threaten to call the whole thing off once or twice, but Jesse knows they're going to make it.
Because Blaine is perfect, perfect for him, and he likes to think that maybe he's perfect for Blaine as well.