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But You Shouldn't Give Up

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He thinks he’s met his soulmate when he walks into his stage combat class on his second day at NYADA. Thinks that the warmth that seeps into his bones, replacing the chill that had spent years burrowed under his ribs is the most incredible thing. He thinks that he’s found his one true love, and doesn’t consider any other possibility.

Kurt is… not what he expects. He’s fashionable and orderly and just that little bit controlling that it almost drives him insane. He tries to make it work, tries to shape himself into the right shape to complete the puzzle that is Kurt. Everything falls slightly short, each attempt at making them fit together, and he takes the blame.

They do what Kurt wants to do, see theatre shows when they can and hang out with people he doesn’t know that well. It’s worth it, for a while, to see Kurt merge effortlessly with a smile that Blaine never quite manages to pull from him on his own. It’s one that tells you someone’s at home, that they don’t have to try and be comfortable because they just are. When he sees Kurt laughing with some tall british guy he tries to bury the resentment that’s burning through his soul.

Much as they don’t fit, there’s moments when they do. He keeps hopeful on days like those, when Kurt is giving him his full attention and grinning like he’s won the lottery, that they can make this work. Even soulmates have to work for the love they're destined to have. Of course they do.

It almost eats him up when Nick meets his soulmate. They’d dreamed about it, finding the people they were meant to be with forever, when they were five. Dozens of conversations over the years, the too long hair of a pretty girl evolving into a handsome man with impressive cheekbones.

Jeff is nice - he’s funny and he clearly already adores Nick. He listens as they describe the sudden heat that flooded their veins when they walked into the same room that first time, the way their blood seemed to boil under their skin like someone lit a fire deep in their bodies. Something about it worries him, how they were attacked by blinding passion and he just felt a fizzle of heat, like he was holding a warm coffee between both palms, but when Kurt holds his hand later that evening he tries to forget.

They fight a lot, about things that don’t really matter in the end. In some ways, he loves that they yell, that they scream and border on a sizzling anger that he hadn’t known he was capable of. That’s when they’re fiery, when he understands how Nick described meeting his soulmate. This is what it’s meant to be and, if they have to argue about leaving a spoon in the sink to get there, it’s nothing they have to tell people.

Some nights are colder, almost the freezing point he’d been at before meeting Kurt. Except now, with the familiarity of heat flowing through him, he shivers and can’t understand why they’re like a snowstorm. Kurt doesn’t want to cuddle, he barely even wants to share a bed, so Blaine doesn’t press. Just wraps himself up in enough blankets to stop the shaking of his fingers and toes.

It takes a long time for anyone to pick up on how dysfunctional they actually are. He wonders if it’s obvious, if their friends mention the distance between them when they aren’t in the room. Santana mentions it to him on a Friday, Kurt floating around somewhere with Rachel like he doesn’t exist.

“Are you sure you’re soulmates?” she asks, settling herself on the sofa beside him as if she’d been invited to. They aren’t friends, but he needs to talk to someone and she might be the only person willing to listen.

“I honestly don’t know.”

He doesn’t. That’s the hardest part, being so aware that they probably aren’t meant to be at all. Parts of them are, the way their interests line up and their hands fit together perfectly. But it’s not enough, not when he spends his nights cold and empty while Kurt dozes beside him. Close but never touching.

“I want you to meet someone,” is what she says in the end, and he starts protesting loudly because no thank you, he has Kurt. Kind of. “He’s a friend and I think you need someone like him to just hang out with.”

He wants to argue with her, wants to assure her that he has friends and they’re just fine. But she’s staring at him like she knows how scared he is, like she’s been exactly where he is and only wants him to have the support she didn’t have. So he gives in. She promises that he’ll be good company, and that he has nothing to worry about. He decides to trust her because he can’t really trust anyone else.

*

Sebastian is late to their first meeting, his hair a windswept mess and his cheeks red from exertion. It’s almost enough to make Blaine leave immediately, but there’s a message from Santana on his phone that tells him to just try and he wants to give the other man a chance.

They don’t hit it off straight away. Sebastian is all kinds of out there that he isn’t familiar with and clearly comfortable in his own skin. He wants to know if he has a soulmate, if that’s why he smirks like the world belongs to him, if he ever feels cold anymore.

Blaine’s stammering for responses to the many questions Sebastian fires at him. He’s trying and it’s taking all his energy and he’s extremely grateful when the taller leaves the table to get himself a second coffee.

Part of him wants to walk away without being rude, without having to tell anyone that he’s having a bad time and should get home to his boyfriend. Another part of him hopes that staying longer will make Kurt blow up at him and he’ll experience the flush of heat that’s supposed to come from just being around his soulmate.

“You aren’t having fun, are you,” Sebastian says after ten minutes of stilted conversation, of Blaine doing nothing more than fiddling with an empty sugar packet. He wants to tell him that it’s fine but his mother always taught him not to lie so he smiles awkwardly instead. “You can leave. I’m not going to be hurt if you don’t want to hang out with me.”

“I’m sorry that I’m not having a good time.” he kind of is, because Santana went out of her way for this and he feels guilty about it. Sebastian shrugs. “Don’t sweat it, killer. I’ll walk you out.”

Maybe he didn’t have a world of fun and maybe Sebastian just isn’t someone he can be friends with but there’s a surge of something in his heart when the other holds the door open for him. He’s still cold and he still will be when he goes back to an empty apartment. He’ll warm up eventually. He has to.

*

Things with Kurt don’t get any easier. Too many of their nights are spent at separate houses. He starts visiting Santana more - she knows what they’re going through, knows how his body temperature seems to drop lower every time he sees her. She doesn’t make him see Sebastian again, just piles him with jumpers and blankets and hot chocolate laced with bourbon.

He tries to adjust, to remember that he came to New York to perform, not to find the one person in the world he was supposed to. It’s a challenge, as everything else has been so far, but he gets used to it. He avoids Kurt when they’ve spent their evenings elsewhere, ignores the way his supposed boyfriend spends all of his time with Adam.

So he deals. And eventually the cold that only existed in Lima, Ohio becomes the norm again.

*

He’s testy when he next sees Sebastian, chilled to the bone and desperate for a caffeine fix. He and Kurt are barely trying anymore and, since he practically lives with her, Santana gave up on abstaining when her girlfriend is around. He appreciates everything she’s done for him, he does, it doesn’t mean he wants to hear her having sex.

The barista is new, it’s obvious to anyone with the way he struggles to get a basic order right the first time and can’t seem to open the cash register. He’s tired and all he wants is a medium drip before spending an hour with his kind of boyfriend. He doesn’t mean to snap, doesn’t expect his patience to be running too thin. The boy almost cries and he’s filled with so much guilt that it almost warms him from head to toe.

“Take your time,” he hears from behind him, a hand settling on his waist without any indication. He turns to yell, to direct his anger at someone who deserves it, but Sebastian is standing behind him and gripping his waist and the words die in the back of his throat.

He turns anyway, pushing the hand away so he can glare up at green eyes dancing with mirth. “What are you doing?”

“I believe I’m saving you from yourself.”

He huffs, crossing his arms because he knows that’s pretty much it. “I was about to apologise. You didn’t have to step in.”

“Of course I didn’t,” Sebastian says, guiding him away to wait for their drinks after placing his own order. It’s complicated and he really does feel sorry for the barista now. “I felt like it. I haven’t seen you since that one time and Santana tells me you’re basically living at her place.”

“I’m not living there.”

“So you don’t have half a wardrobe of clothes there?”

“That’s not… I…” he knows that he can’t protest, because he does. He’d lost his way with Kurt, lost any energy he’d been willing to put in, and had slowly started taking every piece of himself away from their apartment. “I’m just staying there for a little while.”

Sebastian raises an eyebrow, handing him his coffee that he hadn’t even noticed was ready. He’s disbelieving and Blaine can understand that. All the evidence points to him moving in with Santana. It’s not really fair on her at all.

“It’s just until I find somewhere more permanent,” he insists as they leave. He’s not too sure if it’s Sebastian he’s convincing or himself but it’s words that are foreign on his tongue and he has to fight to push them out. “I don’t know a lot of people in the city.”

There’s a lull then, as if neither of them can think of the next thing to say. This is only their second conversation, one brought on by pure chance. He wants to walk away right there to avoid anything awkward while they just stand there. Sebastian’s biting his lip though, and there’s a light heat in his stomach that he can’t identify, so he patiently waits for the other to talk.

“I have a spare room.”

It’s not what he expects. It’s not what Sebastian expects either if the widening of his eyes are something to go by. They’re blocking the street. He’s staring at Sebastian, giving himself a chance to take in the light freckles painted across his nose and cheeks and the sparkle in his eyes. He doesn’t mean to stare but he’s slightly shocked and more than a little confused.

“Just in case you don’t find anywhere, you know,” he continues, the words tumbling out with no warning. “Or if you don’t want to bother looking.”

He’s waiting for an answer and Blaine’s scared to give one. They’re practically strangers, not even close to being friends. Sebastian’s offering though, which is more than anyone else is doing, so he accepts before he can really tell he’s doing it.

He gets the address, located in a nicer area than Kurt but still affordable, and they agree that he can move in over the weekend.

His resolve to tell Kurt almost breaks when he asks him to move back in.

*

Santana helps him move in with Sebastian, declaring herself a genius because this all happened thanks to her. Neither of them tell her how badly their first meeting went, how much Blaine hadn’t enjoyed himself. She’s done enough for him and, if she wants to be considered a genius for it, who is he to say no.

“Why do you have so many bowties?”

He’s organising them by colour, working his way through the rainbow roughly, and she’s watching with thinly disguised disgust. Being judged for his bowtie collection isn’t anything new, Cooper liked to tease him about it constantly, so he just shrugs.

“My grandpa passed them down to me,” he admits, trying to decide which order he should put the turquoise and teal ties in. “Cooper was off in Hollywood and he wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them anyway. So he gave them to me.”

“That’s… kind of charming.”

“My grandpa was kind of charming.”

She laughs, loud and obnoxious, and it brings Sebastian into the room. He’s wearing sweats and a shirt and Blaine’s never lived with anyone dressed so casually. It’s different and strange. He doesn’t mind it.

“I’m ordering chinese,” he tells them, waving a menu in front of their eyes as if they aren’t familiar with the cuisine. “You staying, Lopez?”

“I’m not doing all of this just to starve.”

“I do miss your extremely helpful nature when you aren’t hanging around like a bad smell.” They’re both laughing and he wonders why he didn’t think they were close enough to joke around this way. It’s nice compared to the cutthroat competition between Kurt and Rachel.

He and Santana manage to unpack all of his clothes, taking a break to eat with Sebastian. He’s grateful for her help, now and before. She just rolls her eyes when he shows her out, yelling a quick goodbye to Sebastian, and he wishes he could find a way to thank her for real.

He sends her a bouquet every week for a month.

*

Living with Sebastian is deceptively easy, even with the chill that constantly ran through his veins. They work out their own system, for showers, for chores, for anything they have to share. It was never like that with Kurt, a battle for everything to work out okay, and the change of pace is unsettling.

There are still days when he’s more lonely than he’d care to admit out loud. They hit him at random, whether he’s out at the park with Nick and Jeff or studying at the kitchen table humming the words to a song on the radio. Sebastian doesn’t seem to notice though, and he supposes he should be thankful for small mercies.

It takes them three weeks to get into their first real argument. He’s tired and grouchy and Sebastian spent the better part of the night having sex with the half naked man lying on their sofa. He leaves, knowing that if he doesn’t he’ll just make things worse, and comes home to a note that there’s ice cream in the freezer.

It’s his favourite and he’s warm when he eats it that evening.

*

He tries not to think about Kurt too much when they’re in the same class. Tries not to let his gaze fall to where the other is holding Adam’s hand when they think no one is watching.

It’s those days when he locks himself in his room with a Captain America film and ignores Sebastian’s pleas to let him in.

*

Going to this party hadn’t been his idea. Everything was too loud and the people too drunk to care for most boundaries. He’s one of the few people that are sober and he’s lost his way back from the bathroom twice already.

Leaving would be the ideal choice, his car was parked just outside and he’d probably not even register the frost resting on the grass. But he promised to drive Santana home and she was nowhere near ready to go home.

“Are you okay?”

He attempts to remember who she is, a pretty brunette that was apparently as sober as he was. She’s smiling, but it’s sad and small and he wants to ask her what’s wrong.

“I’m fine. Are you?”

“Just… cold.” He knows that all too well. Knows the harsh reality of being surrounded by people that could’ve been his destiny and feeling empty. Lonely. Cold.

“Me too.”

He doesn’t know what to say after that, even with the temptation to lend her his jacket. It won’t help either of them but nor will the silence threatening to strangle him if he doesn’t break it.

“Are you here with anyone?” She points out some blonde girl who’s ponytail looks too tight and he struggles to find Sebastian or Santana so he can show her that he, too, came with company. They talk. About New York. About school. About anything that isn’t how alone they both seem to be in this world.

In the end, it’s Sebastian that finds him, ranting about beer pong or spin the bottle or some other party game he hadn’t bothered to play in high school. He’s drunk, much drunker than Blaine had expected, and he apologises repeatedly to Marley (she’d told him her name) when Sebastian almost vomits.

He messages Santana, watching Sebastian gesture wildly, telling Marley a story that likely made no sense. He was tripping over his words, relying solely on the motions of his hands and Blaine can’t stop the heat in his cheeks when the other man starts talking about his ass.

If the heat of Sebastian’s body against his lingers after he’s pushed him into bed, that’s not something he’s going to think about.

*

He bumps into Kurt, quite literally, when he’s picking up a pizza for him, Sebastian and Santana. They’d tried to meet up regularly, spent an evening watching films and sharing stories of high school that none of them should really know.

“You look good.” he says, and Kurt does. He seems to stand taller, seems to have found a confidence in himself that Blaine was still working on. He’s happy for him. He also kind of hates how inadequate it makes him feel.

“You seem to be doing fine too.”

It’s subtle, anger flaring in a way that hadn’t been a problem in a long time. It sends pinpricks down his body, tiny flashes of heat that make him almost too nauseous to react. He stands still though, ignores the heat he’s feeling with Kurt so near. They aren’t soulmates, it’s so damn clear now that he isn’t forcing himself to fit beside the contours of Kurt’s body where he never belonged.

“It was nice to see you again.” he practically spits the words, resentment buried deep in his tone. Kurt startles and there’s some twisted sense of satisfaction that climbs up his spine.

Santana can sense the anger, the bitterness in his gait, the second he walks in the door. She drags him to his bedroom, demands that he explains what happened. He does because it took more out of him than it should’ve and maybe that’s a sign that he just shouldn’t bother looking for his soulmate anymore.

Sebastian’s putting a movie in the player when they walk back out, the pizza left untouched on the kitchen table. They’d agreed on Insidious before he left but the opening credits of Iron Man play and he doesn’t even fight the urge to hug his friend.

They all fall asleep on the sofa, Santana curling into his body and him using Sebastian’s shoulder as a pillow. He might be imagining it but there’s heat seeping into his pores where his cheek meets the other man’s shoulder.

*

It happens at random almost three months later, the sudden burn of his skin. It’s travelling through his bloodstream, blocks the cold out of his bones and tissue, pushing it to the surface of his skin and into the atmosphere. He struggles to talk, to reason with himself that he’s making it up, but Sebastian is staring at him as well and the words aren’t there.

The mug between their hands, just about to be passed from Sebastian’s to his drops to the floor and shatters, breaking the silence and scalding his feet with hot tea.

“Get a broom.”

They clean up the spill quickly, avoiding the shards and each other’s eyes with caution. It’s most difficult when they’re close, when he can feel the warmth of Sebastian’s body through layers of clothing.

The air is tense when they sit down at opposite ends of the table. HIs body is still burning and he’s not sure where to begin. It’s unchartered territory, the mind-numbing warmth carrying through him. He doesn’t know about Sebastian. Isn’t sure he wants to.

“We need to talk about what just happened,” he mumbled, tracing over the lines of the wood in front of him. Sebastian sighs, reaching across the table, curling his fingers around Blaine’s wrist. “You mean the fact that we’re apparently soulmates?”

“Yeah. That.”

Their hands tangle together, Sebastian’s palm hot against his own. Intimate. It almost sends him into a frenzy.

“I already knew.”

That stops him. Forces him to pull away without letting go of Sebastian’s hand. As much discomfort as he’s in, he’s more comfortable than he’s been before.

“What?”

His voice is tired, strained to his own ears. But Sebastian picks up on his question, on the dozens that he doesn’t have the energy to say.

“Since the day we met at the cafe,” he admits, stroking his thumb over Blaine’s pulse point. His heart stutters in his chest. “When I figured out you didn’t…”

“You let me leave.”

It explained a lot. It explained nothing. He’d gone about his life, invited people back to his bed while Blaine tried to sleep, and Blaine couldn’t fault him for that. He’d known he was his soulmate and he’d known that there was nothing to be done about it.

“When I offered you the room I knew what I was doing.” he’s staring at Blaine now, hoping that he’ll understand. He tries. “I may not have held much stock in this soulmate stuff before but I still managed to find mine. Couldn’t lose him for good, could I?”

“So you did it for your own gain?”

He’s not really betrayed, not even close to being angry. But he wants to understand. Wants to sift through Sebastian’s every thought just so he can understand his motives, his intentions. He settles for holding his hand.

“I did it because I didn’t want to force it on you but I didn’t want to be cold anymore.”

Blaine nods at that. The freezing cold that had controlled him for so long never felt anything but awful, taking hold of his entire existence until he almost couldn’t cope. Going back to that wasn’t something he’d wish one anyone - soulmate or not.

“Do you think we could try?” he’s not sure when the words work their way from his brain to his mouth. Not sure they’re what he intends to say at all. But they’re resting in the air before he can stop them and Sebastian is analysing his features for something.

“I think we could do it,” Sebastian answers, letting go of his hand to walk around the table and sit beside him instead. “I think we could be the best damn soulmates the world has ever seen.”

He’s probably wrong, cocky and uncomposed, but there’s hope in his eyes. He’s smiling and Blaine’s smiling back and maybe they’ve got a future that burns a whole lot brighter than they can begin to expect.

He’s willing to risk it just to try.