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“Sebastian,” Blaine whines as his boyfriend tugs on his wrist to yank him up and out of the subway. His stride is almost too long for his own and he trips on one of the steps.

The taller snorts out a soft sound as he manages to help him keep his balance before wiping that smirk off his face when Blaine glares at him. “What? You’ve been whining since we left the apartment, how am I supposed to know this was about the fact you couldn’t keep up.”

He smacks his arm as they reach the top of the steps and Sebastian smooths his thumb over Blaine’s quickening pulse point in his wrist before slipping their fingers together to hold his hand.

“Come on, we still got three blocks to walk.”

Blaine’s head tips back in a dramatic manner, narrowly avoiding an older woman with a cart of cans because he’s not paying attention. “I said I didn’t want to do this.”

“And I said, I don’t care,” Sebastian shrugs his shoulder, not really looking behind him as he’s speaking.

He feels his blood begin to boil under his skin and he wishes he could say that’s not a regular occurrence when dating Sebastian, but it is. “It wouldn’t kill you to listen to me for once.”

Blaine can’t see him but he knows his boyfriend is rolling his eyes, picking up the pace as the walking sign begins to blink that the traffic is going to change. “This is for your own good. You can’t just give up after a few ‘no’s.”

He scrunches his nose, holding his bag close to his side as they quickly cross the street. “A few? Sebastian it was ten ‘no’s in a row and I’m…I’m not giving up; I’m taking a much needed break. Sometimes you need to know when the market isn’t looking for someone like you.”

“Did you learn that from your brother?”

Blaine digs his heels into the cement, making Sebastian jerk to a stop underneath metal scaffolding. His boyfriend turns with a soft sigh, looking down at him as he holds his ground. “I just meant, sometimes you need to know when to stop. It’s getting embarrassing,” He swallows, rubbing the back of his neck.

He knew that coming to New York meant that he wasn’t going to be a big fish in a small pond anymore, that he’d have to work twice as hard for the things he wanted, that it wouldn’t be easy but…he’s been here for two years and he hasn’t gotten a single big show. There have been small roles, he appreciates anything he gets but—

He can’t help but feel a little discouraged from his lack of prospects. And not only that, the same group of theater people travel in circles, going to the same auditions and call-backs. He’s got a few friends that have made it into their big breaks and Blaine’s still sitting there in the audience with a call-back number taped to his chest and no opportunities to speak of.

“Maybe I’m just not—”

“No,” Sebastian says instantly, cutting his sentence off with a finality that makes Blaine’s eyes meet his own. “You were meant for this,” He gently runs his thumb over the shorter’s knuckles. “I can see and hear it every time I watch you perform. You just haven’t had the right part yet.”

Blaine smiles gently, just a small twitch at the corners of his mouth, looking down at their hands intertwined. His chest swells with warmth from Sebastian’s confidence in him—sometimes it means much more having that than his own. His boyfriend consistently believes him even when he begins to lose that assurance in himself.

He lets out a long sigh and swings their hands for a moment, the sounds of New York beginning to get louder around them as the city wakes up. Passing cars, people on the street, the sun pressing its way between buildings as wind gently whips around corners—it revitalizes him, almost, makes him remember why he moved here in the first place.

“Now, if you’re done pouting,” Sebastian smiles, taking a step towards him to lean down and kiss the bridge of his nose when Blaine crinkles it, “We need to get going. Don’t want you to be late.”

The shorter rolls his eyes but there’s more of a genuine smile to his lips as he lets Sebastian tug him forward on the street.

--

Blaine is pretty sure he’s going to murder Sebastian as he sits in the back of an auditorium, number 23 pinned to his chest. His leg is jackhammering in place as people filter in, walking past him to open seats, some rehearsing in the hallways before they take a spot on stage in front of judges.

This is for the Broadway show Kinky Boots and he busies himself with looking up the plot and character information, past performers, bootlegs of old shows. It’s strange because there’s a pit in his stomach that seems a lot like nervousness, something he’s not used to feeling when it comes to performing. Being on a stage is like a second home, like slipping into his own skin with a series of notes and movements that embody something he loves and, not to brag, but something he’s incredibly good at.

New York stages somehow feel so much bigger, capable of swallowing him whole. He knows how to own a space, to make people listen, to enrapture and pull people into his performance but at the same time—old fears are beginning to nip at his nerve endings based off of taking so many hits.

What if he’s just not good enough?

Sebastian’s hand comes down on his knee, squeezing gently and pulling his attention off his phone. “I’m not sure I know this anxious version of you.” He teases.

Blaine huffs out a soft sound, putting his phone on silent before slipping it into his pocket. “You know this is going to be a long process right? It’s not spanned out over a few days; I’m practically living in this auditorium this afternoon.”

Sebastian shrugs his one shoulder, taking one of his hands into his own. He rubs his thumb along the inside of his palm, the sensation warm and pressured. “I took off work. We can be here as long as you need.”

Blaine huffs out a soft laugh, scrubbing his fingers through his curls as he leans back against the velvety red seat, “Oh so you were confident about getting me here, huh? Ever since you yanked me out of bed this morning.”

The taller smiles gently, his eyes following the judges taking their seats near the stage. “I know you and I know what buttons to press,” He shrugs his one shoulder.

“Even that one button in the shower that you pressed…with your tongue?” Blaine asks a little cheekily, his skin heating against the back of his neck and flushing to his cheeks. “Was that part of your master plan?”

Sebastian smirks and squeezes his hand, leaning over to press a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. “No, that was for my pure enjoyment. Had nothing to do with getting you in this seat, number 23.”

Blaine shakes his head, chewing on his lower lip as one of the judges turns towards the audience with a microphone. “Good afternoon, we’re going to make this process as painless as possible. We’ll call your number. Once you’re on stage, state who you’re auditioning for and begin a song. Call-backs will be this afternoon. Any questions?”

The auditorium is a soft buzz of silence and pocket-whispers but nothing stops the process of moving forward. Blaine’s stomach turns into knots and he feels himself take a slow breath into his lungs, keeping it in there before letting it out. Black dots fizzle in his vision for a moment and he turns to look at his boyfriend,

“Song choice is going to be key if I want to land this audition for Charlie Price.”

Sebastian hums as the judges begin calling out numbers, not in order, number 79 moving towards the stage. “I know you’ve got a lot in your repertoire.”

Blaine watches number 79, who is excellent, belting out a number that he recognizes as ‘Wig in a Box’. He drums his fingers on the arm rest, running through his go-to songs— “I think I’m going to do ‘Something’s Coming’, West Side Story. I’ve adapted it a few times since I’ve performed it. It can easily relate to Charlie Price’s journey too, his ability to change.”

“He wears thigh-high sparkly red boots in this, doesn’t he?”

He rolls his eyes, “That’s all you’re focused on? I’m trying to talk character development with you in terms of my audition, Seb.”

He shrugs his one shoulder, eyes slipping to Blaine’s legs. One of his hands settle on his thighs, fingers sleeping between, “I’m one-hundred percent picturing you in character,” He grins even though Blaine smacks his hand to get him to concentrate.

“’Something’s Coming’?” He asks again, raising an eyebrow.

Sebastian licks his lips, opens his mouth to say something decidedly dirty and Blaine stops him by putting his hand up.

“Never mind, that’s what I’m going with.”

The taller smirks, “Glad I could help.”

The auditions move pretty quickly after that, the judges keeping a well-oiled machine of a revolving door of people on stage. When Blaine’s called, he feels something distinctly slip into place as he walks up the steps to stand in front of them. He can’t see Sebastian from where he’s at but he can still feel him, winding that confidence around his bones and making him stand a foot taller than usual.

“I’m Blaine Anderson and I’m auditioning for the role of Charlie Price.”

The judges take note before motioning him to begin whenever he’s ready. He takes a few moments to himself, rubbing his palms together as the music starts to swell. As he begins to perform, he remembers why he’s doing all of this in the first place and luckily, Sebastian’s been able to remind him because he feels at home.

He feels the exact moment things slip into place, like puzzle pieces finding their destinations in building a bigger picture, the connection he feels between the audience and his movements, his voice. He maps himself out on stage, uses the space, twists and stretches and digs deep to maximize the sound and emphasis of his voice.

Blaine gives his all every single time, no matter if he’s consistently told ‘no, maybe next time’.

He finishes, panting slightly as he nods his head towards the judges in thanks. As Blaine begins to make his way off stage—

“Number 23—Mr. Anderson,” One of the judges corrects himself, waiting until he turns to look at them. “Are you familiar with ‘Soul of a Man’?”

Blaine clears his throat, taking a step towards the stage as he plays with the bottom of his shirt. He remembers running into the song a few times online during his research of the show, he’s not sure he can successfully give a full performance of it though. Not without knowing all of the lyrics or getting a sense of emotion that the piece is supposed to bring.

That doesn’t mean he’s not about to try.

“Semi-familiar,” He admits, “If you have a set of lyrics I can give an impromptu performance.”

A different judge whispers to the one speaking to him before he nods, taking a packet which Blaine suspects are lyrics and meets him at the edge of the stage. Blaine swallows as he takes the song, flipping through the first verse and the chorus, humming the musical notes to himself to familiarize with the tune.

He lets out a slow breath, his eyes flickering up to Sebastian walking down the aisle for a closer seat. He slips into a chair in the fifth row, the ghost of a smile on his lips as he nods his head towards him. A silent conversation passes in the air, you got this and Blaine offers a small smile, fingers curling around the edges of the song packet in his hands. Memories of Dalton suddenly filter back to his mind, Sebastian sitting nearby on one of those familiar leather couches in a handsome blazer, eyes trained on him as he took control of the Warblers.

A place he’s always felt embraced by, his ability to lead encouraged and appreciated.

He takes root on the stage as he holds onto the paper and fixes his gaze on the judges, giving them a soft head-nod to play the music for ‘Soul of a Man’. Blaine finds himself closing his eyes, embracing the lyrics as if they’re about to be tattooed on his skin—living and breathing them.

By the time Blaine gets to the chorus, he feels the reaction of the audience, that give and take of the people around him—only fueling him to give more pieces of himself over in the performance.

“'Cause I'll never be the soul of a man, noble and wise—like the soul of a man, who lifted me high,” The lyrics fill up his chest, plant seeds, begin to grow inside of him. He relates to the struggle and embraces it, hoping that it comes across to the judges.

One of them puts their hands up to stop the music when he finishes the chorus and Blaine feels nervous energy begin to sizzle at the bottom of his stomach, sitting like lead in his bones. They say a few things to one another,

“Thank you, Mr. Anderson. We’ll call you.”

Blaine swallows and dips his head, trying not to take those simple sentences too seriously, trying not to slip into the depth of uncertainty, of another role he’s not going to get after giving so much of himself. He nods in thanks before moving quickly down the steps, a small smile in Sebastian’s direction as his boyfriend stands and they move outside.

--

He lets out a long breath, drawing fresh air into his lungs as they take a walk outside, Sebastian’s arm slipping loosely over his shoulders.

“You were incredible.” He says, drawing him closer and pressing a kiss against his temple.

Blaine smiles up at him, a soft flush to his cheeks still lingering from the rush of his performance. It’s only been about an hour, wandering around upper Manhattan to get coffee because he’s too nervous to eat.

“So you keep saying,” He teases but leans up on his toes to place a haphazard nose scrunch against the underside of Sebastian’s jawline. “But it’s…even if I don’t get the part,” Blaine says as they turn into a park, slowing their walking to a stroll, “You were right to yank me out of my complacency.”

“Oh wait,” Sebastian gently turns Blaine to face him as they pause by a fountain, “Say that again? I was right?”

Blaine rolls his eyes, letting his arms wrap around the other’s waist, “Don’t let it go to your head.” He squeezes his one side, leaning against his chest, “Thank you for the push.”

Sebastian hums, leaning down to press a soft kiss to his lips. He tastes like remnants of coffee and cinnamon biscotti, “You’re welcome; it’ll pay off at some point. Only a matter of time.”

He sighs softly and nods, allowing his eyes to close for a few moments as he rests his forehead against Sebastian’s lips. He can feel his breathing against his hairline as his nose presses into his curls, keeping him close for a few moments until his phone vibrating in his back pocket draws them apart.

Blaine looks down at a number he doesn’t recognize but he knows it has to be the judges from the theater, it’s the only phone call he’s waiting on. He motions to Sebastian that he needs a moment, taking a few steps away from him and turning to pick up.

“Yes?” He pauses, chewing on his lower lip. “Yes, this is Blaine Anderson.”

He (hopefully) prepares himself to receive a callback time, a tiny sense of dread on the corners of his emotions as he wonders if the judges call people to tell them they haven’t gotten the part. But that’s not what this is at all—

And he manages a ‘thank you’ at the end of the conversation, slowly lowering the phone away from his face as he turns to look at Sebastian. The taller watches him for a moment, swallowing like he might be in trouble since he’s made Blaine do this audition in the first place.

“B,” He says gently, rubbing the back of his neck and then switches gears with his attitude, “You know fuck them; your performance was outstanding and if they can’t see that—”

“I got it.”

Sebastian blinks, “You what?”

Blaine grins and puts his phone back in his pocket, taking two steps towards Sebastian before he outright jumps into his arms, “I got it!” The taller catches him instantly, a laugh tumbling out of his chest at Blaine’s excitement.

He maneuvers his arms to hold onto him more securely, not wasting a moment to twirl Blaine in a half-spin. He grips onto Sebastian tightly, a bundle of laughter leaving his chest as he presses his face into the other’s neck. He’s never remembered feeling so happy, even though it doesn’t feel real—his first Broadway show playing a lead role.

Blaine feels tears gather in his eyes and a lump form in his throat as Sebastian puts him down, his fingers shaking as he tries to figure out something to do with his hands. He can’t believe this is happening.

“What did they say?” Sebastian prompts, his hands resting on Blaine’s shoulders and working down his biceps.

“They said that I…I was soulful,” He laughs, sniffling, “All they needed was my rendition of ‘Soul of a Man’ and even though it was unprepared, it was that much more added emotion and a rawness that they didn’t see in any other audition.”  

Sebastian shakes his head, one of his hands moving to cup Blaine’s cheek. He strokes his thumb along the bone, removing a tear track as soon as it appears. “No one deserves it more than you,” He taps the tip of his nose, “And I won’t even say ‘I told you so’.” He winks and huffs out a soft laugh when Blaine pushes on his chest, trying to take a step away from him.

He draws him closer, leaning down to press a kiss against his lips. Blaine smiles, keening into the touch, lifting himself up on the toes of his feet to deepen the kiss as much as he can before they have to pull away.

“Come on,” Sebastian squeezes his hand, easily lacing their fingers. “We’re going home to celebrate. Bed, dinner, and champagne exactly in that order.”

Blaine grins, his heart full and thumping excitedly in his chest—he can’t picture someone who feels more lucky or happier than him in this very moment.