Spoilers for the musical Hair, if anyone cares about such things...
There weren't very many rules set in place in the St. James-Anderson apartment. As it were, the two men's work schedules were so often complete opposites of each other that they were lucky to even catch glimpses of each other during the week, let alone actually be able to curl up in bed together at the end of the day. Blaine was an English teacher, having to rise at hours that Jesse had dubbed "God-forsaken o'clock," typically coming home right as Jesse was leaving for the theatre. Oftentimes he would be asleep by the time Jesse's subway finally brought him home, and Jesse knew not to wake him if that was the case.
That was one of their rules: Don't wake me up unless something's on fire.
The fact that Jesse still had a very bad habit of catching things on fire did not work in Blaine's favor when it came to that rule.
The only other rule the two abided by? Don't tell me what you're auditioning for.
It was quite the strange rule, one that friends and colleagues never seemed to understand. Jesse's career was theatre, and Blaine was his boyfriend, partner, husband-in-everything-but-writing of eight years, so why on earth would he not want to tell Blaine every single detail of his life, including his work?
To be fair, that particular rule had a loophole. When Jesse was auditioning in late summer through early spring, he could talk about it whenever he wanted. Blaine would sit and listen to his monologues and accompany him on the piano when he practiced his songs, giving critiques in ways that only Blaine could (meaning he was the only person allowed to tell Jesse he was anything less than flawless). But come mid-April, all talk of auditions had to stop. That was when Blaine could pursue his own love of theatre, because he would soon be off for the summer.
The reason this particular rule had come about? It was thanks to what had happened right after Blaine had graduated college and moved in with Jesse for good. They'd talked nonstop about their plans for the summer, Blaine wanting to make the most of it since he then thought it would be his last chance to pursue theatre. He had told Jesse excitedly all about an audition offer he'd been given, only to find out that Jesse had been invited to audition for the same show, in the same role.
They realized quickly after that even though both of them wanted to be successful, knowing that the other was their competition led them to not performing to their best, out of fear of beating each other for the role. So they kept quiet, only running into each other twice at auditions since then, and never for the same role. Things had worked out quite brilliantly, their vow of silence ensuring that both always made the most of each and every opportunity.
It might be a silly rule, but it served them well and had led to some very interesting situations later on, like the time they were working in theatres across the street from one another or the time Blaine had read a part in a workshop only to have Jesse originate it off-Broadway six months later. But the absolute best one was the day Blaine came home positively beaming, pounced on Jesse with no warning, and shouted, "I got Berger!"
Jesse scooped Blaine up in his arms, spinning him around bridal-style, a rather strangled sounding scream escaping from his own throat.
"Where?" he asked, clutching Blaine tightly. Blaine looped his arms around Jesse's neck, kissing him briefly and softly before answering, "For the Public Theatre's production in the park this summer."
Jesse dropped him.
Luckily Blaine's feet touched the ground first and his grip around Jesse's neck spared him from actually falling. He ended up just staggering a little, leaning heavily on Jesse as he righted himself, looking at his boyfriend with confusion all over his face.
"Thanks for dropping me," he said sarcastically, letting go of Jesse once he was sure both of his feet were securely on the ground, turning towards the kitchen and starting to walk in that direction. One of Jesse's hands closed around Blaine's wrist, pulling him back, free arm going around Blaine's neck and hugging him tightly.
"I got Claude," Jesse murmured into Blaine's hair, which he had been growing out for several months now, his reasons for doing so suddenly oh so obvious.
"No," Blaine pulled back, locking eyes with the man, disbelief written all over his face. "You didn't…" Jesse beamed at him. "You did!" Laughing, Blaine threw his arms around Jesse again, squeezing him tightly and making an excited little squeal. "Oh my God… what theatre god was happy with us?"
"The only one that matters," Jesse decided, giving Blaine a squeeze before letting him go, one hand reaching up to tangle in Blaine's mass of curls. "Come on, you crazy hippie. Let's go celebrate."
"Hey, how come I can't-" Blaine reached up to copy Jesse, his fingertips just barely brushing against Jesse's hair when the other swatted his hand away.
"No," Jesse ruffled Blaine's hair, winking.
"Good thing you'll be wearing a wig," Blaine grinned at him, following as Jesse headed for the door, latching onto him from behind and adding, "Otherwise you'd be the worst hippie ever."
The following weeks found the two men seeing more of each other than they had in a long time. For the first time, their schedules were identical, only differing when one of them needed to stay longer or come in early to rehearse their scenes without anyone else. It was easy, playing two best friends, particularly for Jesse since there was a part of his character that was completely taken with Blaine's. Their tribe was full of friendly people and familiar faces, so it took virtually no time at all to form the kind of bonds necessary for a show that thrived on spreading love.
But there were challenges, too. Berger had been a dream role of Blaine's since high school, but that did not mean that he felt that the role was him. Quite the contrary, Berger was loud and obnoxious and rude and spent quite a bit of the beginning of the show without pants, all of which combined to become the biggest challenge Blaine had ever faced in theatre. He was soft spoken and gentle, never wanting to hurt others, so playing the hippie about whom "Easy to Be Hard" is sung turned out to be very difficult indeed. But it was fun, and he had wonderful friends and an even more wonderful boyfriend to support him and tell him when he was playing the character too nice.
And that wasn't even taking into consideration the fact that he would be completely naked come the end of the first act.
Jesse's role, conversely, was one that he seemed to fit into naturally. Blaine watched him transform into the goofy and free-spirited Claude Bukowski, watched him get torn apart by his inner conflict, watched his compassion for his friends manifest itself and become his driving force. It was a beautiful transformation, watching the man he knew so well turn into this character, so beautiful that when Berger became desperate to save his best friend, Blaine became desperate to save the man he loved.
"Who'd have thought a show about hippies would make me cry?" Jesse had asked him, a silly question when both of them knew the show backwards and forwards long before ever landing the roles. But it made sense. Going in, you expect to be entertained. You expect to laugh, to make friends, to feel uplifted and joyful. And then the harsh reality of the Vietnam War is shoved in your face, shoved in all of their faces.
But they both formed strong bonds with their characters, falling in love with the show all over again, and probably to some extent with each other as well. Because there was no other way to describe the feeling in his chest when he watched Jesse singing "Where Do I Go?" in their final rehearsal.
No sooner had they all run off the stage than Blaine found himself searching for Jesse, realizing for the first time that he didn't know where the other went during their intermission break. He, of course, along with all the others, had to run back to his dressing room and put his costume back on, but suddenly finding Jesse was much more important.
It was lucky, then, that their dressing rooms were right next to each other and Jesse was indeed heading back there.
"Jess," Blaine's voice came out hoarse and soft, using the nickname that rarely, if ever, passed his lips. But Jesse knew who he was talking to, knew to turn around, knew that when Blaine used that name and his tone was that gentle, it was his cue to pull him into a hug. And he did just that, holding Blaine tightly in the middle of the hallway, his fingers pressing into Blaine's back and bringing him closer, wordlessly telling him that yes, I am okay with hugging you even if you are sweaty and naked.
"It's stupid," Blaine found himself saying, his face buried in Jesse's neck.
"No, it's not," Jesse decided for the pair of them. "That song's always made you an emotional mess, more than any other in the show." Blaine laughed, making Jesse squirm away, the laugh obviously tickling him.
"It just hit me right then for some reason," Blaine told him, raising his head to look the other in the eye. "You, singing that song, making that role mean something, and me being able to watch you do that? It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my entire life."
Jesse closed his eyes and raised his head to the ceiling, saying gruffly, "Dammit, Blaine, if you make me cry, I swear…" Blaine reached up to gently cradle Jesse's upturned face, guiding it back down and kissing him.
"I love you." It sounded more like a promise than a declaration, the words carrying more weight than when they exchanged them on nights they did get to talk before going to sleep, than when they exchanged them when saying goodbye on the phone, than when they were written in a birthday card or just on a piece of paper in the kitchen, for no reason at all. "Jesse St. James, you are perfect and I love you."
"You're ridiculous," Jesse gave him a shove, grinning and his face looking a little pinker than it had before. "Go put your clothes on." But his smile carried a sort of fondness, and Blaine knew that the feelings were mutual with that one look at Jesse's face.
"You like it," Blaine teased, twirling in a circle and actually giggling before grabbing one of Jesse's hands and pulling him along when he went into his dressing room. A month ago he never would have even considered doing such a thing, but it was funny how wandering around with no clothes on changes a man. He dressed quickly, not really paying attention to what he was doing, choosing to watch Jesse instead, as the other looked in the mirror, patting down his wig.
"You can pull it off," Blaine assured him, tugging on his jeans only to realize they were on backwards.
"I don't know how people do it," Jesse admitted, turning around to look at him and laughing when he noticed Blaine's struggle with his pants.
"Shut up," Blaine snapped, but he was still smiling when he said it. "I was distracted thanks to the fact that you were standing in front of me."
"Well, some things never change, I suppose," Jesse shrugged, waiting until Blaine had pulled on his pants the proper way before coming over to him and slinging an arm around his shoulder. "Come on, Berger, snap out of it. I'm the one who's supposed to be hung up on you, remember?"
"Well maybe Berger wants to be hung up on Claude instead," Blaine teased, leaning towards Jesse and putting an arm around his waist. "Makes sense, if his Claude is this breathtakingly handsome."
"Why thank you," Jesse bowed his head, then turned to look at Blaine, adding, "and I suppose Claude's Berger is nice looking too."
"You bet he is," Blaine decided, his grip around Jesse's waist tightening, steering the man out of the room. "Come on, let's go send you on a drug trip, Claude."
"Just so long as you cry at my funeral," Jesse demanded. Blaine shook his head, sighed, and pressed a kiss to Jesse's temple.
"I always do, my love. Every time."