Kurt was already opening the garden door when the grandfather clock struck thirteen that night. This time, the sunshine didn't startle him when he blinked up into what appeared to be a midday sky, the sun small and high in the frosty periwinkle-blue. The air had a cool, crisp feel to it, and the ground felt frozen and hard beneath his feet as he turned in a circle, looking around. Every time the garden sprang into life around him, he felt the same sense of tingling wonder rush through him, leaving him giddy and somewhat breathless.
The sound of a window opening caused him to turn around and look up at the house. Blaine had his bedroom window as open as he could, the bars restricting him from opening it fully. "Kurt!" he called, waving down and grinning. "Come on up!"
Kurt hurried back inside and up the stairs, glancing at each of the portraits on the walls as he passed them. There were a lot of men with bushy eyebrows similar to Blaine's, their faces stern and their clothes dating back into what Kurt could only assume were the early 1800s.
At the top of the staircase were three doors; the first one was open, and that was the one through which Kurt could see Blaine sat on his bed, a pair of crutches by his side and his foot tightly bandaged. Blaine looked up when he heard Kurt's footsteps, a grin lighting his face once more. "I wasn't expecting you for a few more weeks," he said, sounding delighted, waving Kurt in through the door.
Kurt ventured through, looking around at Blaine's bedroom—twice the size of his, he noted, and he could only assume that it included what was, for him, the bathroom. "How long's it been?" he asked, standing awkwardly in the middle of the room.
Blaine rolled his eyes at Kurt's discomfort and patted the bed covers beside him. "Sit down, you chump." He shifted further up the bed slightly to give Kurt space, but remained close enough for their elbows to brush together. "It's only been three days." He tipped his head to the side, pursing his lips thoughtfully. "Maybe you knew that I was bored and needed company."
Kurt relaxed onto the bed slightly, although he was unable to ignore the voice in his head shrieking about being sat on a bed with a boy and what would your father think? "Maybe the clock is psychic and knew," he said with a smile. "I certainly don't have any control over it."
Blaine gave him a curious look. "The clock?" he asked.
"The grandfather clock in the hall," Kurt said. "It strikes thirteen every night—"
"Strikes thirteen?" Blaine sounded doubtful. "How is that even possible?"
Kurt shrugged, and then gestured to himself and the room. "How is any of this even possible?"
Blaine hummed in acknowledgement, wriggling further back up the bed so he could swing his leg up onto the pillows, resting his head in Kurt's lap. Kurt tensed slightly, not quite sure how to react. Blaine closed his eyes and sighed. "That's better," he said, sounding satisfied. "My foot was killing me."
"Okay," Kurt said cautiously. He leaned back slightly, propping himself up on his hands so as to have something to do with them. "But yeah, the clock strikes thirteen every night and then all of this appears around me, when I go down to the garden."
"That's pretty cool," Blaine said, already sounding sleepy. He yawned, bringing a sluggish hand up to cover his mouth as he cracked an eye open to peer up at Kurt. "Your lap is really comfortable, by the way."
Kurt blinked. "Thanks, I guess?"
"It's a compliment, don't worry," Blaine assured him. "It means that you're an awesome cuddler."
Kurt blushed, looking away. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Uh-huh." Blaine's eyes were closed again, his face slackening as he started to drift off. Within seconds, soft snores were leaving his slightly-open mouth.
Kurt stared down at Blaine, not entirely sure what he was supposed to do with the sleeping boy in his lap. Should he wake him up? Move him? Let him be? Awkwardly, he brought up a hand to pet at Blaine's hair, glad for the lack of hair gel. Blaine's curls were soft and springy under his fingertips, his hair somewhat in need of a cut with ringlets tumbling all over the place. Blaine made a little muttering noise at the contact, and shifted closer to Kurt, nose perilously near Kurt's crotch. That decided it for Kurt. Slowly, being sure not to disturb him, he lifted up Blaine's head and slipped out from beneath him, drawing his legs up and away from Blaine so that they were lying parallel instead, Blaine's head lolling onto Kurt's shoulder.
Kurt stared up at the ceiling, noting the differences between Blaine's room and his own. The larger space and the extra window made a large difference; Blaine's room seemed lighter and airier, less cramped and poky. The white-washed walls were the same, although Blaine had a polished oak floor where Kurt had a worn carpet. In the corner of the room stood a tall closet with intricate carved panelling, and the mirror directly opposite the bed afforded Kurt a view of Blaine and himself curled up together. He tried to ignore the fluttering in his stomach at that, reminding himself that Blaine had just fallen asleep and people fell asleep with their friends all the time.
Sleep was tugging at his eyelids, however, as it was well into the early hours of the morning for Kurt, and he gradually drifted off into a gentle haze of sleep, the warm press of Blaine's body at his side both a distracter and a comfort.
Kurt awoke alone, curled up on top of the covers of his own bed at the flat. He blinked blearily at the fingers of sunlight stretching their way across the floor, and raised his arm to check his watch. 6:03am. He let his arm flop back down onto the covers, sleepily debating the pros and cons of climbing under the covers and returning to slumber.
The cool breeze tickling his calves eventually decided it for him. He rolled over, tugging at the duvet until it covered him properly and shut his eyes again, ignoring the fact that his feet were on his pillow and his head was nearly dangling off the foot of the bed.
With his eyes closed, however, he was only more aware of the lack of Blaine's body next to his own, the bed feeling empty and cold. He groaned in frustration and threw an arm over his face. The boy from the past was already under his skin, after just three meetings.
Kurt was screwed.
"That old grandfather clock has been striking the strangest hours recently," Anne said over breakfast that morning. She poked at her eggs with her fork, frowning slightly. "I almost feel like I should just call somebody in to fix it, but the landlord would probably chuck us out for messing with his precious clock."
Kurt shrugged, ignoring the squirm of panic in his gut at the suggestion, and took a sip of coffee. He swallowed it before saying, careful to keep his voice casual, "I don't know. I think it's quite charming, to be honest."
"Charming?" Lily raised an eyebrow. "That's one way of putting it."
Kurt smiled slightly. "It makes me think of how long that clock's been here, yet it still strikes every hour."
"Whether it strikes the right hour or not is another matter." Anne sighed and put down her fork, eggs untouched. "No, you're right. It's none of my business."
"Do you know who lived here before, anyway?" Kurt asked lightly, taking another sip of his coffee.
Lily looked surprised at his question. "Why do you ask, dear?"
He shrugged again. "Just curious, I guess."
"I don't really know," Anne said, "although the landlord is so attached to that clock that I assume he must have lived here for quite a while. Maybe even before the house was converted into flats."
Kurt frowned into his coffee. That couldn't be right. Blaine's family had lived here before the house was converted into flats, surely? "Do you know where I could find out more?" he asked, only just remembered to keep a tone of polite frigidity in his voice at the last minute.
Anne shook her head, returning to her eggs, but Lily looked thoughtful. She propped her chin up on her hands. "You could always try the London Metropolitan Archives," she said. "If you're interested, I could drop you there on my way to work tomorrow."
Kurt barely managed to suppress his grin. "That would be fantastic, thank you." He got to his feet, leaving his coffee half-drunk. "Anyway, I need to dash—I was planning on getting some hardcore shopping in today, so I should probably hurry."
He all but bounded back into his room—Kurt Hummel didn't bound, after all—and went instantly to the window, looking out through the bars into the courtyard below.
"I'm going to find out who you are, Blaine," he whispered to the tree down there. "I'm going to find you."
Kurt didn't even get halfway down the stairs that night before everything was melting into place around him. It seemed to get quicker and quicker each time, as if the clock remembered better where everything went with practise.
He could hear shouting coming from the open door downstairs, the one that no longer existed in Kurt's day.
"I will not have people talking about this family!" a gruff voice roared, deep and abrasive to Kurt's ears. "At the moment it looks like I can't even control my own son, and I will not have that."
"Father, I'm keeping up my grades perfectly at Dalton." Blaine's voice. "I'm on the track team and the football team, and the Warblers are extremely well-regarded by universities as a valid extra-curricular."
"You're wasting your time on that silly choir and everybody knows it. Poofters, the load of them, and I will not have my only son throw in his lot with them." A creak, as if he had sat down in a desk chair. "You will give the council your resignation as soon as you get back. Am I clear?"
"Yes, sir," Blaine said, his voice quiet and choked.
"Don't look like that, boy. I'm doing what is best for you—someday you'll see that. How's that girl of yours? Rachel what's-her-name?"
Kurt felt like he'd been sucker-punched in the stomach, closing his eyes and turning his face to the wall. Of course Blaine was straight. He'd been foolish to get his hopes up only to get them shot down again. He started to turn, intending to make his way back upstairs and not see Blaine, only to realise that he had no way of leaving—he was stuck here until the clock decided it was time for him to leave. He swallowed, hard, and then sat down on the stairs, clasping his hands and listening to the argument tearing on behind that door.
"...not interested in dating, Father," Blaine was saying, painfully earnest as ever. "I want to focus on my grades and make sure I get into university. I don't have time for girls."
"Don't be stupid, boy," his father grunted. "Girls are what make boys men. I keep telling you that Quinn Fabray would be a perfect match, but you don't listen to me."
"We aren't a good match," Blaine said. He sounded tired and beaten down, Kurt thought, feeling a twinge of sympathy. "We have nothing in common, and nothing to talk about."
"She's a perfectly nice girl. I don't see what's wrong with her."
Blaine sighed, impatient. "There's nothing wrong with her. There's just nothing right, either."
"That's disappointing, Blaine." His father harrumphed. "I need to get back to work now, so just think about it, will you?"
"Yes, sir," Blaine said, and he was so quiet that Kurt had to strain to make out his words.
The door opened, and Kurt caught a glimpse of a wood-panelled office, a large desk dominating the majority of the space, before Blaine shut it behind him and sagged against the wall. He tipped his head back, exposing the long line of his throat, and squeezed his eyes shut.
Kurt got to his feet, dusting off his pyjama bottoms. "Daddy problems?" he asked, leaning on the banister. (He still found it weird that the hallway had expanded to include the stairwell, in Blaine's time, but he thought it far nicer than the poky stairwell that existed in 2011.)
Blaine looked up in surprise, the pinched expression leaving his face when he saw Kurt. "You could say so," he sighed, straightening up and walking over to the stairs. "How could you tell?"
"I don't know—the shouting and arguing gave me a hint, though." Kurt smiled at him, hopping the last few steps down to the foot of the stairs. "Inside or outside?"
Blaine glanced over at the garden door. "The tree?"
Kurt gave him a stern glare. "The last time you were up there, you fell out of it and sprained your ankle."
Blaine shrugged, reaching out to grab Kurt's hand and tug him towards the garden door all the same. "That's only because you surprised me. If you're with me then you can't surprise me, can you?"
Kurt laughed, taken by surprise. "Your logic is as infallible as ever, I see," he said, hearing the fond tone in his own voice.
"Precisely." Blaine held open the door for him with a mock-courteous bow. "After you, good sir."
Kurt shook his head, unable to hold back his smile. "You are such an idiot."
"That's why you love me," Blaine chirped, slinging an arm around Kurt's shoulders and dragging him over to the tree. "Now, you have to tell me all about the music in your time, okay? I figure that that's one of the safest questions I can ask, and..."
Kurt had thought that it might be weird to look at Blaine, knowing what he now knew, but Blaine's cheerful smile and tackle hug drove all thoughts of war and death from his mind.
"It's been days, Kurt," he whined, although Kurt could feel Blaine's smile against his neck. "The longest time yet, in fact."
"Nothing to do with me, I assure you." Kurt hugged Blaine back tightly for a moment, then stepped back and looked at him, tilting his head and fixing a mock-serious expression on his face. "I think I can see a grey hair, though."
Blaine gasped playfully, hands flying to his hair. "You cannot!"
"Can too." Kurt grinned impishly, leaning back against the tree and folding his arms. "So how long's it been this time?"
"Nearly a month," Blaine said, looking injured. He reached out to take Kurt's hand—something he often did, Kurt had noticed. "I was lonely, Kurt."
"I swear you were at boarding school, though," Kurt objected. "You could hardly have been lonely."
Blaine pouted. "Fine. Well, then, I was lonely for you, Mr Pedantic."
Kurt felt the blush working its way up his neck, but he ignored it. "Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr Anderson."
Suddenly, from out of the blue, there came a horrible screeching and wailing sound, splitting the air and making Kurt jump in fright.
Blaine's grip on Kurt's hand tightened. "Air raid siren," he muttered, looking up into the sky with a filthy glare. "We should probably get inside the shelter."
"It's out in the apple orchard," Blaine said, already leading Kurt over to a gap in the hedge at the side of the garden that Kurt hadn't noticed before. "The only cool thing about it is that it's called an Anderson shelter. Nothing to do with my family, though. Anderson's a pretty common name."
The siren was still yowling. Kurt winced at the ear-splitting quality of it, covering an ear with his free hand. "Is it always this loud?"
To the side of the orchard stood a low structure sunk into the ground with a corrugated iron roof. Kurt vaguely recognised it from his History classes as being the most common type of bomb shelter in the Second World War, and that was when it sank in.
This was an air raid.
Very, very real bombs, time-travel or not.
Panic started to claw its way up his throat, making his heart beat in triple time and his palms to sweat. He felt sick.
Blaine looked at him in concern. "Are you okay?"
Kurt nodded mutely, pretty sure that if he opened his mouth he would be sick.
Blaine bit his lip, clearly unconvinced. "It's quieter in the shelter," was all he said, however, and Kurt was grateful for the fact that he didn't try to comfort Kurt with feeble platitudes. He squeezed Kurt's hand once before dropping it, crouching down to push the door open. He looked over his shoulder at Kurt and gave him a crooked smile. "It's not much in here, but it's safe enough."
Kurt clambered in after him, ducking his head in order to get through the small entrance. Inside, it was cool and dim, the air slightly damp against Kurt's skin. Kurt could hear Blaine rummaging around beside a dark shape, and heard the click of a torch—light flooded the shelter, allowing Kurt to see what was inside.
The floor was packed mud and dug about four feet down into the ground, and two low-slung bunks were pushed to either side of the shelter, which was about six foot in length—Kurt's dad could lie down on the ground and have his head against one wall and his feet against the door.
Blaine sat back on his heels and smiled at Kurt, his features oddly lit by the torch. "You can sit down, if you like," he said, nodding at the bunk. "We'll probably be here for a couple of hours or so." He straightened up and started trying to hook the torch into an oddly shaped wire brace hanging from the ceiling of the shelter—evidently some sort of self-devised light.
Kurt nodded tersely and perched on the edge of a bunk, wrapping his arms around his torso. He could hear the siren still wailing—although, like Blaine had said, it was a lot quieter inside the shelter.
Blaine settled down beside him, close and warm and comforting. Kurt could smell the washing powder on his clothes, the scent of his soap and the already-familiar smell of Blaine himself. Blaine reached out and rested a hand on his knee, meeting Kurt's eyes with a warm expression. "It'll be okay, I promise." He smiled. "After all, if the house is still standing in your time, then it's hardly going to be destroyed now, is it?"
Kurt closed his eyes and allowed himself to huddle closer to Blaine. Blaine's words made sense, although all he could think about was the images from his History classes in school—bombs falling through the air, the whirr of planes in the sky overhead, fires erupting throughout cities. He thought back to the records he had found at the London Metropolitan Archives, about Blaine Anderson in Courier New on the untouched pages of the records. He thought about the words soldier printed in block capitals under Occupation. He thought about the picture attached to the file; Blaine, only a little older than he was now, dressed in a soldier's uniform and cap, bright smile on his face and twinkle in his eye.
Then there was an arm being wrapped around him and Blaine's voice, soothing in his ear; "It's all right, Kurt. Just breathe. Just an air raid."
No, they weren't going to die today, but Blaine was going to die someday, Kurt knew. He turned his head into Blaine's chest, breathing in the scent of Blaine and soap and washing powder.
"I think I have some toffees in here, if you want one," Blaine said thoughtfully, remaining wrapped around Kurt. "I didn't finish my tuck box this term, and I think I left it in here the other day." He pulled away from Kurt and rolled off the bunk, kneeling down on the floor—Kurt winced at how the mud must surely be ruining the knees of his trousers—and rooting around in what sounded like a metal container. "Aha!" His head popped up again, grinning in excitement. "Brittany didn't feed them to Lord Tubbington after all." He unwrapped one from its brown paper wrapper and offered another one out to Kurt. "Want one?"
Kurt took it, unwrapping it with somewhat unsteady fingers, and put it in his mouth. The toffee was sweet and hard, sugar melting on his tongue into a sticky syrup. "Thanks," he managed to say around the sweet.
"No problem." Blaine sat back down next to him and sucked happily at his sweet, making loud slurping noises that caused Kurt's ears to flush red. "I usually read a book when I'm in here," he admitted in a conspiratorial tone. "Sometimes I get so sucked into it that I don't even hear the all-clear and Brittany has to come fetch me."
Kurt frowned. "Where is Brittany?" he asked, slurring around the toffee.
"In the cellar, I think. It's too far for her to get out of the kitchens and get here in time, so she usually just goes down into the cellar and waits there." Blaine shrugged, bringing his legs up to sit cross-legged. He leaned back on his hands and looked up at the ceiling of the shelter, at the rust marks and dirt encrusted onto the corrugated metal. "It's usually just me in here, to be honest. Father's at the bank a lot and Mother has a lot of friends she visits."
"So you just stay in the house by yourself?" Kurt asked. The Anderson shelter was cool, causing goose bumps to rise on his arms despite his thick hoodie. "Don't you get bored?"
Blaine shrugged. "I read a lot, and play piano. Sometimes I help Brittany in the kitchen or around the house, although my father says I'm not meant to." He cocked his head, suddenly listening intently. The siren had changed sounds already, a rising scale that echoed in the shelter. "That's quick," he observed. "It's usually a couple of hours before the all-clear sounds."
"Maybe it was a false alarm?"
"Maybe." Blaine considered it for a moment, then shrugged, pushing himself off the bed and reaching up on tip-toes to unhook the torch from the ceiling brace. As he did so, his shirt and tank-top lifting to bare a stretch of pale olive skin, smooth and stretched over the jut of a hipbone. Kurt averted his eyes, feeling strangely embarrassed. Blaine flicked off the torch and dropped it on the bunk bed, reaching out to take Kurt's hand in the sudden dark. "How much longer do you have, do you think?"
"A few minutes, maybe? I don't know." Kurt allowed Blaine to tangle their fingers together and lead him from the shelter, blinking in the abrupt harshness of the daylight. As if to back up his words, things were already starting to go misty around the edges, Blaine's hand suddenly much lighter in his own.
Blaine seemed to have noticed it as well, because he looked down at their linked hands in concern. "You're going, aren't you?" he asked, sounding oddly sad.
"I think so." Kurt squeezed his hand before letting it go, not wanting to feel his hand pass through Blaine's.
Blaine nodded and stepped back. "You'll be back, though?" He looked small and young in his ill-fitting clothes, the brown of the tank top too dull for him, the crisp white of the shirt too cold.
Kurt smiled at him. "If I can." He glanced over his shoulder to see the Anderson shelter completely fade away, the orchard trees fading too. "Shit," he said suddenly. "I need to get back to the house." He broke into a run, seeing the hedge already starting to turn into a fence, a trampoline melting into being two feet away on his right. He found the gap in the hedge as it was starting to grow over, jumping through wooden slats seconds before they became corporeal. He didn't dare to look back at Blaine, knowing that he, too, would be gone, fading into the ether.
He was ten foot from the garden door when a brick wall stopped him in his tracks. "Crap," he groaned, clutching his shoulder where he had taken the brunt of the blow. "Fuck."
Kurt was now stood at the end of somebody's garden in the early hours of the morning, looking like a vagrant in his pyjamas and a hoodie, with a six foot brick wall standing between him and his warm bed.
He stepped back and looked up at the top of the wall, a bare foot above his head. There was a spindly tree growing further down, branches just about bending over the top and mingling with the branches of the other tree—Blaine's tree, Kurt called it in his head.
He reached up and tested swinging his weight on the lowest branch. It held his weight, although it bent a worrying amount. He could do this. Carefully, he swung his body up onto the branch, waiting for it to stop swaying before he stood, clinging to the trunk, and reached for the next, which would get him over the wall and into the branches of Blaine's tree.
He was sat astride the top of the wall when a light flicked on, up on the top floor of the house. Kurt froze, watching as a figure appeared at the window: an old man with craggy eyebrows and no hair, staring down at Kurt with what looked to be a glare.
"Fuck," Kurt whispered again. This was, no doubt, the infamous landlord, and he probably wouldn't be best pleased to see Kurt clambering over the yard wall in the middle of the night.
He stayed still, hoping against hope that he hadn't been noticed—that the old man's eyes were poor enough to not spot him. After what seemed like a lifetime, but had probably only been a couple of minutes at most, the man moved away from the window, although the light remained on.
Quickly, aware that he probably only had seconds before the landlord returned to the window, Kurt scrambled down the tree, dropping the last few feet to the ground and nearly running back into the house and up the stairs, back to the flat.
Anne was frowning when Kurt walked into the kitchen that morning, a piece of paper in her hands. "Know what this is?" she asked, holding it up to show Kurt.
Kurt's heart stopped. It was a small scrap of paper, blue-tack still affixed to the back, with a single sentence scrawled across it in blue fountain pen.
Might want to get back quicker next time.
"Kurt?" Anne looked at him in concern when he froze in his tracks. "Do you know what this is?"
"No," he said, doggedly keeping his voice even and casual. "No clue."
Blaine was perched in the tree once more when Kurt found him that night—day—whatever. He grinned sunnily at Kurt when he saw him approaching. "I didn't think you were going to show up today," he said, pocketing something that flashed in the sunlight and nimbly jumping down to the ground. "It's only been a week."
"Has it?" Kurt asked curiously, looking around at the garden. "It's sunnier than it was, last time."
"That's just English weather for you, I suppose." Blaine grinned, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "I've got something to show you." He beckoned Kurt closer and Kurt, intrigued, followed him around the back of the tree. He gestured to a spot a little above eye level, where he had carved the shaky letters B.A. into the bark of the tree. "I'm marking all of the trees that I've climbed, starting with this one." He dug in his pocket, bringing out a sleek silver penknife, which he proudly showed to Kurt. "My father bought me this, as a reward for my report card this term. I wanted a new pen, but this is just as good, I guess." He was flushed with excitement, his eyes sparkling.
Kurt smiled, reaching out to take the knife and examine it. "It's lovely," he said perfunctorily, as he had no real knowledge or understanding of knives, and no wish to learn, "but you really shouldn't be carving into trees."
Blaine stopped bouncing. He frowned at Kurt, confusion crinkling his brow. "Why not?"
"It's not good for the tree. It's like cutting into a person's skin." Kurt handed the penknife back to him and settled down on the drier earth at the base of the tree, bringing his knees up to his chin and wrapping his arms around them. He leaned back against the tree trunk and stared up into the pale sky, appreciating the fragile warmth the weak sunlight afforded.
Blaine flopped down beside him, leaning heavily against Kurt and resting his head on Kurt's shoulder. Kurt bit his lip at the fluttering sensation that simple action started up in his stomach, and patted Blaine's head awkwardly, wrinkling his nose at the hair-helmet of hair gel Blaine was wearing. Blaine sighed heavily, warm and ticklish against the side of Kurt's neck. "If I promise not to carve into any other trees, will you add your initials to this one?"
Kurt weighed up the ethics of carving into a tree against the childish glee of having his initials next to Blaine's, and groaned. "You're not going to let up until I do, are you?"
Blaine grinned, wide and puppy-like. "Please?"
Kurt huffed. "Fine." He got to his feet, dusting off his pyjama bottoms—and he should probably dress up more for these meetings, he thought absently—and took the penknife when Blaine offered it. "Where do you want me to put it?"
Blaine leaned back against the tree and stretched his legs out in front of him, looking up at Kurt with a smile. "Next to mine?"
Kurt rolled his eyes, ignoring the blush that burned his cheeks and ears. He pressed the blade of the knife against the bark, pushing hard to get it to break the surface. He hissed at it when it stuck, having to brace his shoulder against the tree to press harder. Slowly, he carved out the letters K.H., the strokes of the letters harsh and angular against the wobbly curve of Blaine's B. When he finished, he stared at his work with an odd sense of accomplishment curling in his belly; he knew that it was wrong to carve into trees, but he couldn't help the thrill that it sent through him to see his and Blaine's initials side by side.
"You know what it's missing?" Blaine said, his head twisted at an awkward angle to look up.
Kurt tipped his head to one side, considering. A heart, he thought privately. "What?"
Blaine sprang up, nimble as ever, and took the penknife from Kurt's hand. Skilfully and with a steady hand, he added in a plus sign, between their names, so that it read B.A.+K.H. instead of B.A. K.H.
"Hey," Blaine said, nudging Kurt in the ribs, "you know whose name our initials spell?"
Kurt frowned, looking at the letters which were proudly inscribed in the bark. "No...?"
"'Bach'," Blaine said, sounding pleased with himself. He leant into Kurt, his body warm and heavy against Kurt's side as he wrapped an arm around Kurt's shoulders.
"They do not," Kurt objected. "Last time I looked, my name started with a K, not a C."
Blaine laughed, a warm, mellow sound that sent electricity sparking through Kurt's veins. "But Bach made the most beautiful music," Blaine said with a wide grin, "just like us. C'mon, it's close enough, surely?"
Kurt smiled in spite of himself, twisting his head to look at Blaine. He noted the sparkle in his eyes, the curve of his jaw, the way his eyebrows wiggled up and down when he got excited. He noted the pink of his lips, the faint stubble on his jaw, the length of his eyelashes.
Blaine noticed him staring and paused, a self-conscious flush working its way up his neck. "What?"
"Nothing," Kurt said, unable to keep a smile off his face.
Blaine's flush crept up even further, painting his cheeks with a rosy blush. "You're staring," he said softly, eyes flickering down to Kurt's lips.
Kurt felt his heart rate pick up, a thrumming at the base of his throat that threatened to choke him. "So I am," he said, keeping his voice hushed.
Blaine's arm tightened around him almost imperceptibly, before slipping down to loop around his waist. Blaine bunched his fingers in the back of Kurt's hoodie, the pressure of his touch sending delightful shivers up Kurt's spine. Blaine's tongue flickered out to wet his lips, and Kurt eyes tracked the motion. He felt over-sensitive, raw and trembling with wild energy that threatened to overwhelm him. Blaine was so close; Kurt could smell him, the warm, husky scent that seemed to reach out and envelop Kurt in comfort.
Without even realising it, he had pressed closer to Blaine, until there were scant inches between their faces, their chests brushing together. Kurt reached out to wrap his fingers around Blaine's tie, unable to take his eyes off Blaine's face.
"What are we doing?" Blaine asked quietly, his warm breath skating over Kurt's lips. Kurt could feel him trembling, and it soothed him to know that Blaine felt the same way too.
"Sshh," Kurt murmured, before leaning in to press his lips against Blaine's. Blaine stiffened momentarily—Kurt felt his heart lurch in fear—before melting into Kurt with a soft sigh and kissing back, his hand that wasn't curled into Kurt's jumper coming up to cup his jaw instead.
Blaine tasted good, Kurt thought, as he let his mouth fall open slightly—just enough to taste Blaine properly. He tasted of the sweets they had shared earlier; sweet and slightly tangy.
Blaine pulled back then, his face completely flushed and his eyes dark and slightly shocked. "Um," he said, and Kurt couldn't take his eyes off Blaine's lips and how red and wet they looked. I did that, Kurt thought to himself, allowing a frisson of delight to course through him.
Kurt unwound his fingers from Blaine's tie, but didn't move away. Blaine's hand dropped to Kurt's shoulder, a pleasant weight that sent tingles up the side of Kurt's neck.
"Wow," Blaine said after a moment of just standing there, feeling the pound of their heartbeats.
"Yeah," Kurt agreed.
"We should do that again."
"Ye—mrphh—!" Kurt's hands went automatically to Blaine's hair, but his fingers tangled in the gel and he growled into the kiss in frustration. Blaine let out a tiny whimper at that and pressed in closer, kissing him more frantically until Kurt felt dizzy and like he never, ever wanted to stop doing this. He felt rough bark at his back, and absently surmised that Blaine must have pushed him against the tree, out of sight of the main house. A good thing too, he realised—Blaine would probably look just a little insane, making out with thin air.
Reluctantly, the lack of oxygen getting to him, Kurt pulled back. "I haven't got much longer," he said, dropping another quick kiss on Blaine's mouth. "The clock's going to strike at any moment."
Blaine whined and wrapped himself around Kurt, burying his face in Kurt's shoulder. Kurt laughed slightly, petting at Blaine's back. "I'll be back, don't worry," Kurt said, his attempt to sound reassuring thwarted by the breathlessness Blaine invoked in him by nuzzling at his neck. "I'm hardly going to be kept away."
Blaine stayed very still for a moment, then peeled himself away from Kurt with dread in his eyes. "What if you can't come back?" he asked, his voice breaking slightly on the last word. "What if that's it? If our time has run out?"
Kurt ignored the panicked clench of his stomach at that and instead reached out to wrap his hand around the back of Blaine's neck again, brushing his thumb up and down comfortingly. "It's going to be alright," he said gently, locking his eyes with Blaine's and feeling his heart skip at a beat at the glow he saw in those hazel eyes. "I promise. Whether it's a week or a year, I'll be back, I swear."
As if to punctuate his words, the striking of the clock started up again; another thirteen tolls that were taking him away from Blaine once more. Kurt pressed another, frantic kiss to Blaine's lips, trying to engrave into his mind the memory of how Blaine felt and tasted, before straightening up. "I have to go."
Blaine caught his hand, fingers warm and fitting so perfectly with Kurt's own. "I love you," he said fiercely, his eyes glowing with a passion Kurt had never seen before. "I know it's early to say it but it's true. I love you." He swallowed. "And it's okay if you don't want to say it, I swear, but I just wanted you to know."
Kurt squeezed Blaine's hand, looking at this stupid, wonderful boy who had captured his heart in such a short space of time. "I love you too," he said, refusing to be hurried by the impatient calling of the clock.
And with that, he tore his hand away and hurried, half-running, to the back door and that grimy hallway and his life that seemed so much duller without Blaine there to light it up with bright colours. As he reached the door, he glanced back to see Blaine stood beneath the tree, a heartbreaking expression on his face and a downcast slump to his shoulders. Kurt dug his fingernails into the palms of his hands, the sting barely noticeable compared to the pain in his chest. "I love you," he repeated, just loud enough to Blaine to hear. "And I promise that I'll be back."
Blaine just nodded, already fading from Kurt's sight. The greenhouse was nothing but a faint blur in the distance, a brick wall springing up into existence. The only thing left was the tree, still as gnarled and twisted as ever.
Kurt bit his lip, blinking away the tears that were burning at the back of his eyes, and shut the door behind him, the hall enveloping him in its gloom once more.