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Author: Rachel
Title: Let it Out (1/8)
Rating: PG-13? (eventually NC-17)
Word Count: 7,005~
Summary: Mundane wasn't exactly Kurt Hummel's style, but it had become his milieu. Somehow he'd gotten into a pattern of nothing but work, and not even with a job that he liked or wanted. It was difficult to break the cycle when it was just the background of his life, but a push at the right time shifted everything into perspective.
Author's Note: Title comes from 'I'da Called You Woody, Joe' by The Gaslight Anthem. Thanks to pureklaination for being my sounding board and cheerleader, and many thanks as well to whenidance for her amazing beta skills!

Working at desk job was a mindless existence, but it paid the bills. That’s what Kurt Hummel told himself to get through every day. He’d had such dreams all through high school and college, about how he was going to make it out on his own, do what he loved to do and succeed in life in spite of all the people telling him he couldn’t.

Except real life was a bitch, and making rent was higher on the list of priorities than dreaming.

He tried not to be bitter about it, because it was what all or most people went through as they transitioned into adulthood. Having a job was truly something to be thankful for, and he tried not to think about how much he’d rather be doing almost anything else than what he was. The economy the way it was, he was grateful every day that he had a place to go and earn a paycheck, that he could keep his apartment and manage to put food on his plate. There were a lot worse jobs that he could be doing, and at least manual labor was out.

It was just that it seemed so never-ending. Every morning he walked the same path from the elevator to his cubicle, sat down in his chair that was probably close to the end of its office life, and started in on a pile of work that never ended. He wasn’t making up that it never ended, either, because as soon as he finished one task, two more would replace it. It was cyclical, a mindless repetition of entry level work that was numbing and only ever interrupted by the occasional phone call from someone asking for information he couldn’t legally provide.

Kurt wondered what it said about him that sometimes, he liked when people lost their cool at him. It was definitely the most exciting thing that ever happened to him at work, and he knew he wasn’t actually the cause so he never took it personally. It was the only thing that broke the monotony of staring at a computer screen and time flying past faster than he realized. At least that was a good thing about it all – hours felt like minutes when new things to do popped up on his screen automatically. Lunchtime came fast, the end of the day faster, and before he knew it he would be back on the subway headed home.

It made days feel wasted, how fast time went by and he had nothing to show for it. Day after day of waking up, fueling himself with enough coffee to get through work, and then getting home to settle in with whatever was recorded on his DVR from the night before and a dinner for one. It was ridiculous how much days of doing nothing were able to be exhausting. Kurt blamed the screens he stared at for eight hours a day. No matter what it was, it definitely wasn’t how he’d seen himself spending his life after college.

There were so many people that asked him what he’d expected to be able to do with a degree in fine arts. Art had always been his response, usually drawled out sarcastically or snapped at them if he was in a particular mood. He wouldn’t have gone to school for it if he hadn’t had every intention of carrying on with it afterward. It was just that life had gotten in the way, and drawing and creating didn’t put money in his bank account. He hated being such a slave to it, but it made the world go around and it was kind of difficult to try and live without it.

It was another day, another dollar, as Kurt rode the subway in to work. Mondays were the worst, though he guessed that was probably true for anyone in any job. Even if nothing happened to distinguish it from any other day – Mondays were always the worst. He rode the elevator up to his floor, same as usual, sat at his desk and logged in, same as usual, took a sip of coffee to steel himself for the hours of same old same old, and got to work. And for an hour or so, that was exactly all he did – until a text box popped up on his computer.

User TCOCHA is requesting access to remotely control your computer. Yes or No.

It wasn’t that unusual to have happen. Kurt had let his computer be remotely controlled many times before, though usually it was because of a technical problem he was having and it was by an IT person who he was on the phone with while it was happening. That was what gave him pause and made him hesitate with his curser hovering over the ‘No’ option. He had no idea why it was happening, or who TCOCHA was. Then again, he didn’t exactly know that many of his coworkers. Everyone sitting at their desks with their backs to the entrances of their cubicles didn’t exactly lend to camaraderie among the ranks. He definitely didn’t know all the people in IT, who were the only people he was aware of who had the ability to remotely control anything.

Thinking that maybe he’d missed an email about maintenance, or updates, or something, he moved his curser and clicked ‘Yes.’

Watching his computer work seemingly of its own accord was always a bizarre experience. Kurt watched transfixed as the arrow moved around the screen, his hand still on the mouse but unmoving, clicking on the taskbar to open a new document. The blank page sat that way for a few seconds, cursor blinking at the top left corner, before words started appearing.

Hello, Kurt Hummel.

Kurt blinked, staring at the screen for a moment before glancing behind him to try and see if anything weird was happening to the computers in any of the cubicles he could see. There wasn’t. It definitely wasn’t something that had happened any of the other times someone had been in control of his computer.

The mundane doesn’t exactly seem like your style. You should leave and go to the following address, see what your life could be if you let it.

Take a chance.

Kurt felt like he was in a movie, watching the address get typed beneath those three words, because who did that kind of thing happen to in real life? He was basically being told to follow the white rabbit, but given an address instead of a person to tail. It sent a thrill through him for a brief moment, something that he hadn’t felt in who knows how long and especially not at work. There was that potential of the unknown.

His hand twitched on the mouse and the arrow on the screen moved – TCOCHA was gone.

Kurt stared at the document pulled up on his screen for a long moment before hitting the print button, minimizing it before going to the communal printer to collect the page before anyone else saw it. He wasn’t a complete idiot, about to follow directions given to him by someone on his computer without a second thought to what possibly might happen. It was New York City, and his first thought was that he was being lured into a horrible trap that would end in him being dead in some abandoned warehouse somewhere.

Google maps was his friend, and he quickly pulled up the address and put it on street view. It didn’t completely look like it was a place for people to go and get murdered, but one could never tell in New York. He couldn’t believe he was seriously considering it, getting up and walking out of work to go off and meet the unknown. It had to be at least slightly fine, he convinced himself, because TCOCHA was a legitimate userID on their system, which meant they worked there and had the authority to access other people’s computers. He couldn’t imagine anyone working at that company, as dull and straight laced as it was, to nefariously be picking people off one by one by those means and managing to go unnoticed. Besides, he had mace in his coat pocket.

Take a chance.

It was a testament to how much Kurt hated what his life had become that he emailed his boss that he was sick, closed out of everything on his computer, and left. His heart was racing as he rode the elevator down to the ground level and walked out the front door of the building, into the noisy hustle and bustle of the city. The paper with the address was folded and tucked in his pocket, the number and street practically engrained in his mind with how many times he’d read it over again, his phone giving him directions on which lines of the subway to take to get to a part of Brooklyn he’d never been before.

Riding the subway gave him enough time to think about what he was doing, and panic a little. What was he doing? He felt like an idiot when he tried to answer that question, because the simple answer was that he was listening to random people in his computer. That would never hold water if anyone asked. Really though, he was trying to feel alive again. He was trying to feel like he was doing something with his life and TCOCHA had known just how to get to him by saying the words he’d wanted and needed. See what your life could be if you let it.

If he did end up dead, Kurt thought, at least he’d have done so on an adventure and not from boredom.

His heart raced as he climbed the stairs from the subway, scrolling through the rest of the directions on his phone as he clutched the mace in his pocket with the other. Maybe Kurt was more nervous than he wanted to admit, but he’d told himself there was no turning back once he left work. It would have been just as easy to chicken out and go back to his apartment for the day, take it off for his own sake, but what would he have done with it? Nothing. At least this way, he was doing something, and he was determined not to talk himself out of it.

The building from the address looked a tad like a warehouse, which didn’t help matters, and Kurt pulled the paper out of his pocket to double check it and make sure he was in the right place. Of course he was. He slid it and his phone back into his pocket, still keeping a grip on his mace, and climbed the few stairs up to the door with the right number on it. Taking a deep breath, he raised his hand and knocked, stepping back slightly to put a little distance between it and himself for when it opened. And just a few seconds later, it did.

Standing there in front of Kurt was a girl, or rather a woman, who was covered from head to toe in splatters of paint. He blinked as looked at her, unable to stop himself from glancing from her messy looking blonde hair all the way down to her bare feet. It made him realize that he hadn’t even thought about what to expect, other than the potential of something bad, but even if he had there was no way he would have come up with that. Her eyes were wide and unblinking when his gaze het hers again, and he didn’t even know what to say. He didn’t even know why he was there.

“Are you selling encyclopedias?” she asked, hands clasping and dropping down in front of her as she looked him over. The question both caught him off guard and confused him all at once, and he blinked.

“No, I…”

“Oh, you look like what I would think someone who sells encyclopedias would wear if they came to my door,” she continued, shrugging slightly and rocking back on her heels. “I never needed them anyway. Encyclopedias, I mean, not salesmen. Otherwise how could I buy anything?”

All Kurt could do was stare, because he had no idea how to respond or what to say otherwise. How was he supposed to explain what he was doing there when he didn’t even know that himself? TCOCHA really should have given better instructions than they had about that part. His hand loosened in his pocket as he tried to come up with something, anything, but was interrupted by her speaking again.

“Did you want to come in?” She stepped back out of the doorframe, offering him a smile.

“Are you going to try to kill me?” The words came out before he could stop them, and the girl’s eyes widened in response. “Sorry,” he said quickly, holding his hand up and taking a step back. “I didn’t mean it to sound like I thought you were a murderer, but this is all just so strange and—” He broke off as she pressed her palm against his, almost like the most gentle high five known to man but without an end to it. Kurt stared at their hands for a moment before looking back up to her, and she shook her head.

“I’m Brittany,” she supplied, pulling her hand away and giving a gentle smile. “You should come in.”

“Can I ask you something first?” At her nod, Kurt drew in a breath. It wasn’t the most important question, but one that he felt might help him get some kind of grasp on what was happening. “Why do you have paint all over you?”

“Because I was painting,” Brittany replied simply, and with that she turned on her heel and walked further inside, leaving the door open for him to follow.

It was much less concerning once Kurt was inside, the door shut behind him, though he wasn’t sure it should have been. He followed Brittany, gaze flickering around to memorize the path he was taking – just in case he needed to find his way out quickly. She may have seemed sweet and harmless, but he was still wary. The good thing was that it looked less daunting on the inside, with little rooms sanctioned off and furniture scattered about. It appeared lived in, comfortable, like it had been made a home for someone a while ago and kept that way.

He glanced around, taking in the way the sunlight was beaming in through the windows and illuminated all the paint that Brittany had dripped onto the floor as she’d trailed around. And then she started to go into one of the rooms and Kurt felt his nerves kick in again, a giant wave of what am I doing hitting him as he realized that just because he was inside, he still had no idea what was going on. “Wait, I – what is this?”

Brittany turned in the doorway and tilted her head as she looked at him. “I’m not that good at explaining,” she started slowly, worrying her lower lip between her teeth. “I just like answering the door.”

“You’re very good at it.” Kurt blinked as another voice spoke up from behind her, and Brittany brightened at the words. He leaned over a little to be able to look past her, seeing a girl sitting on the floor watching them.

“Um well, you do artsy stuff, right?” Brittany asked, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “I mean, I’m guessing you do or you wouldn’t be here! So you can do whatever you want! We have just about anything you would want to do. Paint, clay, pencils, wire… I have some crayons if you really want to use them…”

Kurt stared at her, trying to decipher what she meant. It sounded so simple and easy, do whatever you want, but it was never that simple or easy. Had he seriously left work to sit around in someplace in Brooklyn and doodle his day away? The possibility of how that might have been exactly what had happened sent a bit of a rush through him, but to what end? It was all well and good for the afternoon, he supposed, but it was the afterward that he wasn’t so sure about. He was there, so he might as well.

“Pencils?” Kurt requested, and Brittany’s expression lit up.

“I know where those are!” she exclaimed, stepping back out into the corridor and heading for another door. Kurt followed her in, that time, but stopped in the doorway. The room looked like an art supply store, anything he could have thought of stacked on shelves and organized by medium. It was like a heaven for his former life.

“I can use any of this?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her as she hummed in the affirmative. “What’s the catch?”

“Catch? Catch what?” Brittany blinked, and then smiled slowly. “Wait, like playing tag? I don’t know if we should run around in here, we might knock things over.”

“No, Brit.” Kurt turned and looked at the girl who had come up behind them, the same one from the other room. She looked vaguely amused. “I don’t think he means like playing tag. He means what’s the catch in coming here and playing with us.”

“I’m not going to pla—”

“Look, porcelain, there isn’t a catch,” she continued, slinking past him and the hall, glancing over her shoulder. “You want to draw? Draw. It’s that easy. The room next door is free.”

Brittany nodded when he looked to her, and pointed over toward a shelf. “All the pencils are there, and there are sketchbooks and everything around if you look. I have to go back to painting before I forget what it was supposed to be!”

Kurt was standing alone before he realized what was happening, just him and a room full of things that had his fingers itching to use them all. It had been too long since he’d done anything remotely artistic, and he wasn’t even sure if he knew how anymore. He crossed to the shelf that Brittany had indicated and looked over everything there, his eyes widening slightly as they fell onto a box of what had been his favorite brand to use before. They looked unopened, and he pulled them off the shelf instantly without bothering to look at anything else, a sketchbook joining them in his hands before he left the room, cautiously peering out before going to next door down.

It was an empty space other than worktable and a few chairs, but the walls were bare and everything looked untouched. It was a blank canvas, just like the pages in his hand, and Kurt slid into the chair behind the table as he set everything down and took off his coat, slipping it onto the back of the chair. He undid the top few buttons of his shirt, feeling himself relax as he undid the cuffs as well, rolling them up to keep anything from getting on them. His breath caught as he opened the box of pencils, not wanting the moment to feel important but knowing that it was, really, because this was something he’d essentially abandoned and yearned to do again.

The thing about the room being so blank was that it didn’t give Kurt anything to work with but what was in his head. He picked up one of the pencils, rolling it along his finger as he familiarized himself with the weight of it in his hand, the way it felt pressed between the tip of his thumb and the knuckle of his index finger, resting into the indents that were still there just waiting to be filled. It only took a few strokes against the first page of the sketchbook before Kurt’s shoulders eased back, his eyes closing for a long moment as he searched himself for inspiration, and then when he opened then again he began in earnest.

It was a familiar sound, the pencil moving across the page, and Kurt’s eyes focused on the etchings and patterns that flowed from the tip of it as easy as it ever had before. He hadn’t thought about what to draw when he started, but it didn’t surprise him what first came to mind. It was exactly what he saw every day – his desk from work. It was the most common scene for him to see, and it was a good place to start. The format of his desk – the computer, keyboard, phone, various office supplies – were on the page in black and white and shades of gray, before he reached for the actual colors to add to it.

Blocks of color formed on the cubicle walls, like a quilt of brightness than made it seem less like a desk jockey prison cell. In reality, the walls of his cubicle were practically blank. There were a few papers pinned up onto them, but all work related and reminders of how to do different operations. There was nothing colorful, nothing personal, nothing that tied him to it. If he were to get up and leave – actually quit, not just get up and leave for the day like he had that day – it wouldn’t take him any time at all to gather his belongings. There was a charger for his cell phone and some headphones in a drawer, a box or two of tea alongside them, and that was it.

Kurt lost track of time, unsure of how long he’d been sitting there pouring color into his life. The pages of the sketchbook were starting to fill with the places he spent his time, the settings most familiar to him, with details and decorations added in to make them all seem so much less boring and ordinary. His apartment, brightened with splashes of green and blue, the subway platform he stood on every day complete with yellow highlighting it, the front of his office building scrawled with red, red, and more red. Just because he was making it more interesting to look at didn’t mean he had to treat it nicely.

“Kurt?” An unfamiliar voice broke him out of his thoughts and his hand twitched, scratching a dark line across the page in front of him. He turned to look back toward the doorway and blinked. Standing there was a young man who looked roughly the same age as him, though clearly much more boyish in appearance, and much more casually dressed in tight, colorful jeans and a henley. Then again, Kurt doubted he’d just come from an office where looking professional was expected and enforced. He looked comfortable, and there wasn’t really any other way to describe it. Admiring that and the gentle curl to his hair, swept back from his face – his gorgeous face – didn’t stop Kurt from being slightly unnerved at the fact that the man standing there knew his name, except he figured Brittany could have told him as much.

“Who’s asking?” he replied, setting down the pencil in his hand and raising an eyebrow.

“Sorry,” the man continued, taking a few steps into the room and gesturing down to the sketchbook. “I didn’t mean to startle you.” He offered Kurt a smile, and his eyes had such a warm twinkle about them that there was a feeling of ease almost instantly as the man extended his hand. “Blaine.”

“Blaine,” Kurt repeated, slipping his hand into Blaine’s and taking in the warmth of his palm as they shook. His hand was soft and smooth, and his fingertips traced gently over Kurt’s fingers as they pulled away. He glanced down at the worktable, the sketchbook, the mark marring what he’d been doing, and he shook his head. “It’s fine, this wasn’t really anything anyway.”

“It looks like something,” Blaine replied, moving in to look down at it. “Everything is though.”

“I should be going, anyway,” Kurt said, turning back to the worktable and gathering up the pencils scattered across it, carefully putting them back into the case – orderly but used, and he wasn’t sure what the protocol was in that place. He wasn’t planning on taking them with him, because they weren’t his, but was he supposed to put them back in the same place he’d found them now that they weren’t unopened and perfect? He’d just flipped the sketchbook closed when Blaine spoke up again.

“What, done taking a chance already?” Kurt immediately felt more on guard.

“Was that you on my computer?”

“I’m not nearly tech savvy enough for that,” Blaine replied, shaking his head. He looked nonplussed at the accusation, and decidedly calm about it all. “You don’t have to leave, definitely not on my account. I was just coming to say hi, and welcome, and see if you wanted lunch.”

“I should go,” Kurt restated, but he didn’t move from his seat. “This is… it isn’t me.”

Blaine leaned forward, flipping the sketchbook open and thumbing through the pages until he got to the one Kurt had done of his office building, and he tapped on it lightly with his fingertips. “And this is?”

“What is this?” Kurt asked quietly, gaze moving from the page, trailing up Blaine’s arm with his pushed up shirt sleeves until he got to his face. Blaine bit his lip, like he was trying not to grin, and let his hand drop from the book.

“Let’s get lunch,” he said simply, readjusting the strap on the bag over his shoulder as he rocked back on his heels a step, giving Kurt a soft smile. “I’m fully capable of answering questions, but I’m also hungry and would prefer to do so while eating something. There’s a great little place just up the street…”

Kurt didn’t move, looking up at him unblinkingly until Blaine sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Blaine Anderson. That’s my full name. I have never in my life been arrested, or done anything that would get me arrested, at least as far as I’m aware. This isn’t a trick, it isn’t a trap, it’s just… life. It’s living. I am very hungry, Kurt, will you please come have lunch with me?”

Slowly, Kurt got to his feet and rolled down the cuffs of his shirt, pulling his coat off the back of the chair and sliding it on. Putting it on was a friendly reminder that at least he still had mace in his pocket and absolutely no hesitation to use it, should the circumstances call for it. Not that Blaine needed to know that – Blaine, who was smiling as he watched Kurt get ready to go with him. “You can take that,” Blaine said as Kurt stepped away from the table, nodding to the sketchbook. “I mean, I would say you could leave it for later but if you don’t come back that wouldn’t work.”

Kurt hadn’t quite thought about the potential of there being more days like that, more days of sitting and drawing instead of sitting and typing. He supposed he hadn’t thought about what to do with the book, as much as he hadn’t known what to do with the pencils. Reaching down, he turned the cover shut again and picked it up, keeping it in his hand as they moved through the hallways back to the front door he’d come in, and Blaine shucked his shirt sleeves down his arms as they headed outside into the mid-day sun.

When Blaine said the restaurant was just up the street, he hadn’t been lying. They’d barely gone a block before he was turning in under and awning and holding the door open for Kurt to go inside. A table was cleared off for them and Kurt slid into a seat, instantly looking over the menu for something to do to distract from the uneasy feeling he still had about it all. He settled on a sandwich, something plain and that didn’t require much thought, and they ordered their food with their drinks. Not much was said before the menus were taken away, but then Blaine folded his hands on the table and looked across it at him.

“Alright, well I guess I should preface everything by saying that there’s no way for some of this not to sound… I don’t want to say creepy but I guess there isn’t a better word,” Blaine began, his voice quiet but soothing despite what he was saying. “I swear it’s not creepy. But to clear the air and get it out of the way first thing, I know your name is Kurt Hummel, that you graduated college with a degree in fine arts, and I know where you work. Well, and anything that was on your resume but it’s not like I memorized it or anything…”

“How do you know that?” Kurt asked, sitting back in his chair to put a little more distance between him and Blaine. “Why would you have my resume – you’re right, this all sounds creepy.”

“Well, the internet,” Blaine offered with a little shrug. “And I’m sorry for how it sounds. Kurt, are you happy?”

“Yes,” Kurt replied automatically, the sudden question catching him off guard, before amending himself. “Not at this exact moment because I’m kind of freaked out, if I’m being honest, but…”

“You are? Really?” Blaine’s eyebrows rose pointedly and he looked unconvinced. “You’re happy with your life, what you’re doing with it and how you live it? You’re satisfied at the end of the day? Then Kurt, why did you come?”

Kurt drew in a breath. Blaine’s eyes were looking straight up into his, all dark honey colored and earnest. He was disarming, and Kurt wondered if he knew just how much. Somehow Blaine knew exactly what questions to ask to cut straight through to the core, to what would get Kurt the most. Of course he wasn’t happy, that was just the kneejerk response he gave anytime someone asked, because who actually wanted to hear the truth? That was the question, though, wasn’t it? Why had he gone? He didn’t even know, though he didn’t know how he was expected to when he didn’t even know what it was.

“No,” he murmured in response, and then the words he never admitted to anyone but himself slipped out. “I’m not. I feel like all I do is waste my time, every day.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Blaine replied, and he sounded sincere. “That’s never a good way to feel. Why don’t you do something else, instead?”

“Because I like being able to keep a roof over my head.” Kurt pursed his lips, trying to rein in a bit more control of the conversation. “I want to know what’s going on. Why do you know all that about me?”

“Here, let me even the playing field,” Blaine replied, looking nonplussed about it all. “You know my name, I graduated with a double major of musical theatre and art, and you’ve already been where I work – so technically you have a leg up on me now. I mean, I don’t carry around copies of my resume but I’m sure I could find it for you at some point if you really wanted.”


“Have you ever heard of Synergy?” Blaine asked as he leaned forward against the table, quirking an eyebrow at him. Kurt paused before giving a slight nod. Just because he wasn’t working in art didn’t mean he didn’t try to keep up with it. He’d had get rid of most of his magazine subscriptions to keep money aside for food and rent, but Synergy had come around and he hadn’t been able to cut it. Maybe it was because it was New York based, or the fact that it was all done anonymously, but it had intrigued him. “Welcome.”

“Wait,” he stammered, eyes a little wide as he looked over at Blaine. “You—that is Synergy? How?

“It’s kind of ridiculous, really,” Blaine replied, shaking his head. “I got a call from a friend I’d made in college. Her father wanted artwork for his buildings and she’d somehow convinced him that if he went with unknown artists he could get more prestige than if he got the same classic prints as everyone else – because no one else would have what he did. She called me because I’d used her as a model in one of my photography projects and her father had liked the pictures, and she figured I would know other people that would be able to contribute. I was doing some workshop for a show that wasn’t going anywhere, my boyfriend had just broken up with me, and I really didn’t have anything to lose or a reason to say no…”

Kurt couldn’t do much but stare. It wasn’t as though he’d given much thought to Synergy, how it worked or what it would be like, but if he had he never would have considered it being some warehouse in Brooklyn where it seemed like people just came and went. Everything that had been published by them had looked streamline and professional, and his mind was having trouble making the connection between paint-covered Brittany and the artwork he’d seen printed. If their drinks hadn’t been brought over, he was certain he would have just kept staring. As it was, he grabbed his glass and took a sip to give himself something else to do as Blaine went on.

“Anyway, I got in touch with a few people from college who I knew were as stuck as I was, and they reached out to others,” he continued, absently stirring his drink with the straw. “It hasn’t been the same group always, and a bunch of the people who were there at the beginning aren’t anymore. Once it started shifting like that, I kind of wanted to try something different. All I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is make art and help people, and so that’s what I tried to do.

“I started looking for people who were stuck in jobs where they shouldn’t be. Like you.” Blaine’s gaze flickered up from his drink to meet Kurt’s. “People with such creative talent shouldn’t be stuck behind a desk where they aren’t allowed to flourish. It’s stifling and repressive and I can’t imagine feeling that contained, that unable to express myself in the ways that I want. I was given this incredible opportunity and I wanted to share it with people who seemed to need it most, so that’s why we started looking into corporations and who worked there, finding the people with the background and doing a little research on them before trying to bring them in. That’s why I knew things about you already – not to be creepy.”

“Research.” Kurt said the word as if it were rolling over his tongue, his gaze not wavering from how it was locked on Blaine.

“Right, research. Nothing crazy just… seeing what’s out there. Online portfolios, examples from exhibits in college.” Blaine shrugged and swirled the straw around in his glass. “We like to know what we’re looking into. It’s not like we can just have anyone come in – there’s a certain standard of quality we have to maintain. It wouldn’t be that big a deal if we weren’t putting our work in a specific facility, or the publication, but everything snowballed so quickly and that means there’s a standard that has to be met. I don’t like wasting anyone’s time.”

Kurt started to open his mouth to respond but was interrupted by their food arriving. He ate almost mechanically, going through the motions and not paying attention. His mind was too distracted processing everything that Blaine had said to register the way the ingredients on his sandwich blended together so perfectly and deliciously, something that he would have appreciated any other day of the week. He hadn’t thought of art as a viable option in his life for years, and definitely never expected anyone to consider what he had done as good enough to be involved in a group and publication he had admired from afar. That might have been what was keeping it from clicking into place in his head more than anything else.

At least Blaine seemed content for the conversation to pause while they ate, because he didn’t say a word the entire time. He had said that he was hungry and that was the whole reason they were there, so Kurt supposed he wasn’t surprised at the way the man sitting across from him just dove into his food – he drew the line at thinking that he was wolfing it down because he was actually eating it fairly primly, just without any hesitation between bites and seemingly all focus on the plate in front of him. Kurt felt like he should have been a little more concerned about the fact that this stranger, or maybe even multiple strangers, knew so much about him without him actually volunteering the information, but he wasn’t. It was in the back of his mind, sure, but not enough that he wanted to run.

“I can’t quit my job,” he said quietly, once his sandwich was gone and Blaine’s plate was near empty. His fingers traced along the edge of his napkin and he shook his head. Not on a whim, not because a stranger liked artwork that he’d produced a few years prior, and definitely not without some other plan in place for how to make rent. Kurt wasn’t the type to leap without looking, despite the fact that he’d gone there that day and taken that chance. A day of adventure and giving into himself was one thing, but giving up what he knew and the safety and security therein was completely another.

“Okay,” Blaine replied, taking a sip of his water and giving a small nod. Kurt had expected some resistance, he supposed, maybe an attempt at convincing him otherwise, but Blaine looked nonplussed. “So you’re not interested at all?”

“No, I am,” Kurt corrected. He wasn’t sure if there was a way to explain just how interested he actually was with the thought of being able to just sit around all day and draw, paint, whatever he wanted. That was the life, that was the dream, but it was like a fairy tale – perfect and wonderful to think about but so far from anything real. “It’s just… a lot to take in.”

“Of course.” Blaine glanced up as the server stopped by again to drop off their check, his wallet out and card slipped in with it before Kurt even had a chance to reach for his own. “I get that.”

“So you realize just how insane all of this is?” Kurt asked, unable to help himself. Blaine just chuckled, a warm sound that was only enhanced by the soft smile playing at his lips as he looked over at Kurt.

“Oh, I spend every day trying to figure out how it happened,” he replied, shaking his head with another laugh. “Believe me, I realize.” He paused as if going over something in his head, his gaze flickering down to the table before back up to meet Kurt’s. “You’re very talented, Kurt. I’m not trying to tell you to quit your job, I would never presume… but if you ever have a free weekend, you’re more than welcome to stop by. You know where we are, and I would love to see what you can do.”

The train ride back into the city, to his apartment, all Kurt could do was think about what Blaine had said. It echoed in his head, you’re very talented, Kurt, and I would love to see what you can do. It was crazy to consider, but it wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as quitting his job outright. He kept opening the sketchbook he’d taken, fingers tracing over what he’d drawn that afternoon, and he’d just spent a good few minutes staring at one of his drawings when it was right there in front of him but far more drab and dull than he’d made it on paper – his subway platform.

His apartment was the same when he got there, boring and lifeless compared to the sketch in his hand where color was thrown onto the walls with reckless abandon. Kurt set the sketchbook on his bed as he took off his work clothes, still open to the page of his apartment and his eyes studying it as he changed into something more comfortable. His fingers ached for more already, to be holding the smooth wood of pencils and making something appear out of the blankness of a page. There were more pressing matters at hand than digging into the back of his closet to find what he might have had tucked away to do just that, so he shut the book and left it for another time.

Kurt spent his night sitting in his armchair, which was far too big for the tininess of his apartment but too comfortable to get rid of for something more practical, a glass of wine in his hand and a stack of Synergy magazines next to him. He’d looked at them all before, seen every page and piece therein, but it felt different to be doing so after seeing behind the operation. His eyes took in each detail as if it were the first time, looking for hints or clues as to who the artist had been. There were no names attached to any of it, and he knew Blaine had said that artists came and went, but Kurt felt like he should have been able to see them reflected in their art – the ones he’d met.

By the time he fell asleep, still in his chair and with magazines spread out around him, Kurt had all but talked himself into going back on the weekend and giving himself another chance.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2013 02:34 am (UTC)
Very intriguing! Looking forward to seeing how this develops and where it leads.
Feb. 21st, 2013 01:53 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading! ♥
Feb. 19th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
This is such a different plot than any out there at the moment. Very very interested to keep reading.
Feb. 21st, 2013 01:53 am (UTC)
I'm glad to hear it, thanks for reading!
Feb. 20th, 2013 01:25 pm (UTC)
Loved Blaine's line from the scandals scene in The First Time..."I just want to make art and help people". Would like to see Kurt step outside his comfort zone a little and let his creative artistic side out...and see what develops between him and Blaine too.
Feb. 21st, 2013 01:54 am (UTC)
Blaine just really wants to make art and help people, okay? ;)

Thanks for reading!
Feb. 20th, 2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
Gah! For some reason my phone wont let me log in. Camillo1978 here and I love this! Sort of a daydream from 1999 for me ;-) I got an email from a uni professor offering me a job out of the blue and can imagine Kurt's fear/delight exactly.
Feb. 21st, 2013 01:57 am (UTC)
Oh yay hello you! I'm glad you're here. :)
Feb. 20th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
I may have squealed when I saw you had posted a new fic...
Bang Bang is one of my favorite fic in the fandom (along with Near Misses and the Symphony Verse).

As for this new piece, let me just say it hits very, almost uncomfortably, close to home, and I can't wait to read where your words take us.
Feb. 21st, 2013 01:57 am (UTC)
Aw, that is so sweet for you to say! Thank you :)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )