Heads Up, or something
smellslikechai
I always forget to make a post on LJ. Ooops.

Anyways, you may have noticed that my current wip, Dissent, is pretty much at a stand-still. For many reasons, it's basically suspended for the time being. I'd like to get around to updating it, but as we all learned in math, Lack of Time - Motivation / √ A Slow and Quiet Trickling out of Fandom = Not Much Work on Fanfic Being Done. This is a totally legitimate formula.

Also, I've been shitty at responding to comments, but I do read them and I flail and I can't think of anything other than "AHHHHH!!!! <3 <3 <3" to say to all of them, so THANK YOU to everyone who commented on any old fic of mine, I really do appreciate it.

Dissent (1/?)
smellslikechai
Rating: PG, later NC-17
Words: 4,500 this chapter
Pairing: Klaine (eventual)
Warnings: Just a few naughty words for now. We'll get to the violence and the sexual content later. There's also going to be a lot of talk of theology, although I'm not trying to prove or disprove God with this fic. 

Summary: In a post apocalyptic world, Kings are revered as Gods and the gap between the rich and the poor widens. Kurt, a mechanic living in the slum of the country's capital with his father, finds himself in the middle of a plot to overthrow King Anderson; a plot hatched by Captain Santana Lopez and the King's own son, Prince Blaine. 


A/N: This fic has been stewing in my brain for months, known only as 'steampunk AU' and now I finally have it down! I'm aiming for a weekly update, so please step on my toes if I'm way behind schedule. 

This is a very rough map of the two main countries, hopefully it'll help orientate you to this new world.



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“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”

-William Faulkner


Kurt runs down the narrow path, kicking up stones and dirt from the unpaved street as he dodges the shabbily dressed pedestrians on their way to the market. They shout at him as he tears by without consideration, but he keeps his pace steady, thin soles of his shoes barely cushioning the rocks underfoot. The stuffed burlap sack thrown over his shoulder bounces painfully against his back with each step, and the weight threatens to topple him if he loses his balance in the slightest. 

He ignores the pain and takes a sharp right down an alley, skidding on a loose patch of dirt. A pile of wooden crates, stacked haphazardly and taller than himself, blocks his path. He stalls for a moment, trying to quiet his pounding heart and listen. The sounds from the market don't carry on this windless day. Yelling children, clucking chicken, bleating goats, and the usual murmur of haggling seem to catch and drag in the heavy air, and it's easier for him to pick up on the out-of-place noises.

The stilted pattern of heavy footfalls catch his ears. That fat old vendor is quicker than he seems, Kurt thinks before heaving himself and the bag onto the first box of the precarious barricade. It carries his weight with a little give, so he hoists himself onto the next. It tips as he climbs and he stills himself, readjusting his stance before trying agin. It would be difficult with both arms, but burdened with the sack it's even more challenging. 

"Stop, thief!" 

Kurt's just about at the top when the merchant runs after him, breathing heavily. When he reaches the barrier he swipes for Kurt's ankle, but Kurt manages to pull it up and over the apex of the pile. He  tightens his grip on the bag and turns his feet carefully on the small landing he found. It's too high to jump from here, but climbing down looks just as dangerous. He works out a short path he can take, hoping the boxes are more stable than they look.

He turns his head back. "Sorry, I need these more!" Going down the boxes is trickier than climbing, and the bag is starting to slip between his sweating palms. He steps down a few boxes, testing the strength of each one before resting his weight on them, then takes in a deep breath and jumps, the humid air rushing past his face before landing heavily on the ground. The weight of the bag throws him off-balance and he lands on his backside with a loud 'oof!' 

Behind the boxes, there's a loud, frustrated cry and a bang. The vendor must've kicked the pile, that idiot, because they start to teeter dangerously. 

He grabs the bag hastily and bolts down the alley, side stepping errant chickens, and just barely turns to the next street before the pile crashes and a small cloud of dust floats above the buildings. In all the confusion, Kurt blends into the gathering crowd, checking over his shoulder only once to be sure the man isn't still after him. He walks calmly and swipes a newspaper from an abandoned kiosk. He's never understood why the King even bothers putting the news kiosk here, anyways; barely anyone in Taberna, the slum of Regontem, can even read, but it's a nice treat when he get one. He rolls it into a cylinder and tucks it into the waist of his pants, then whistles all the way home.

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"Hey, Dad!" Kurt calls out as he enters the old hangar on the outskirts of town. A rusting iron cat with squeaking gears meows expectantly at Kurt and follows him to the curtained off area that serves as their home. 

Hummel's Hangar used to be a thriving business, repairing commercial zeppelins and air ships from across the country. Kurt doesn't remember much from that time, it was so many years ago. But then the war broke out and the country lurched into a recession. King Anderson forbade trade with their neighbouring enemy,  Bellam, causing a sharp decline in air vessels that needed to be repaired. The once busy repair hangar now only serviced a few personal crafts, though in the crumbling economy, only the richest- those who lived near the top of the hill- could afford repairs, and even fewer would step foot in Taberna to have them done. 

Then, three years ago, Burt was no longer able to pay two rents, so they sold their house for only a quarter of its value and moved into the hangar. 

"You can play with the paper later, Grim," Kurt says to the cat, reaching down to scratch his metal ears, then pulls open the moth-eaten curtains. 

His father lays on the musty couch, still resting after his latest heart attack. The sudden onset meant closing the shop for a few days as he healed, something Burt resented loudly. But in the end, having a healthy, alive father was more important than the money they would be losing, and Kurt bickered until his dad acquiesced in taking down the 'open' sign. They always found ways to get by. 

"What's that?" Burt asks distrustfully, eyeing the burlap sac. 

"Your ticket to recovery." He digs his fingers into the fabric and rips the bag open. A handful of red apples fall through the tear and land on the concrete floor.

"Apples?" He catches the fruit Kurt tosses to him and surveys the skin. No wormholes or bruises like he's used to eating. "You know how I feel about you stealing. What if the King's Legion caught you? You'd be locked up in jail right now."

"I know." Kurt doesn't sound remorseful though. The King's Legion is brutal and unforgiving, sure, but they don't care about petty crimes. He grabs his own apple before dragging the bag out of the way. "But you can't keep eating those meal supplement pills. They're nothing but sugar and a few vitamins, and they're just as bad for you as all the stress you've been under."

"They're cheap, is what they are." Burt counters.

Kurt sighs helplessly and settles onto the concrete floor. The heatwave has been so persistent, going on two weeks now, that even the usually cool floor doesn't offer any relief. "I got a newspaper, too."

Burt grumbles as he bites into the apple, and Kurt pulls the rolled up paper from where he tucked it into the back of his pants. 

In bold letters, taking up a huge portion of the page, the headline reads PRINCE ABSCONDS, and the sub title: Prince Blaine Anderson Leaves Fiancée Duchess Rachel Berry at the Altar. Search Proves Futile. 

A large photo of Blaine in his ceremonial uniform covers the rest of the page. Like most pictures of the prince he's seen, Blaine smiles happily into the camera. His military stance, stiff and uncomfortable, doesn't match the easy warmth that comes through his sepia-hued face. In the few photos and interviews Kurt's seen, Blaine's always come off as charming. 

Burt chuckles haughtily from the couch, a small clump of apple falling from his mouth. "He's a freakin' prince! What's he got to run away from?"

Kurt nods, but his eyes remained locked on the picture. If this prince thinks his life is so bad, he should live a few days in the squalor Kurt calls home. No running water, the threat of muggings around every corner, each meal a question mark; he'd go running back up the hill to his palace, tail between his legs. 

A loud, hollow knock on the aluminum door rings throughout hangar. Kurt shuffles the paper and mutters under his breath. "What part of 'closed' don't people understand?"

The knocking dies down soon enough and Kurt turns back to the story.

"…the anticipated union between Prince Blaine Anderson and Duchess Rachel Berry  came to a dramatic finale when the prince stalled midway down the aisle then bolted out the palace doors. Security was sent after him, but both he and his airship have yet to be located…" 

Kurt laughs as he reads. It's one of the biggest scandals in the monarch's history, and no one was talking about it at the market. The gossipy women stood in their usual tattered dresses at their usual fish stalls, and either didn't know or care. Kurt guessed the latter. 

The city of Regontem was built hundreds of years ago on a giant, sharply sloping hill. At the summit sits the Palace, so high that it's said whoever stands on the tallest turret can reach up and grab a handful of cloud. In the shadow of the palace, down at the very bottom of the hill is Taberna. On a clear day, Kurt can stand out in the streets, crane his neck and look up at its glimmering marble walls. It's a constant reminder of the wealth afforded to the monarch while citizens starve on the street and because of this, the King and his reign mean very little to the poor.

"For someone who's supposedly a God, that King sure has a hard time controlling his own kids." Burt shakes his head to himself. "Remember, few years back, when that Prince Cooper ran off to marry What's-Her-Name, the common girl?"

Kurt does remember. It was back when his parents could still afford to keep him in school and his classmates were alight with gossip. The entire League had been dispatched, searching across the country for the heir apparent. Only one day later, an announcement from the king sprawled across the front page of every paper: the prince had been found, but was too fragile to reclaim his place in line for the throne. He would live a secluded life while the youngest brother, Blaine, took his spot. Kurt was dubious that they had found him at all, but when he voiced his doubts out loud, his teacher yelled and gave him a week of detention. 

But he wasn't the only one.  After that, people began to whisper questions about the legitimacy of the King's divinity, and those who asked found themselves swiftly and systematically silenced. For good.

"Ain't no God, that's for sure." Burt continues. "He's barely a man. Ought'a be locked away for for the things he's done, show him-"

The knocking picks up again, this time faster and louder. Burt cuts off immediately and sits up, glancing at the door. 

Kurt's heart beats in his chest and his body goes warm with anxiety. He glances at the bag of apples, dreading that the Legion finally decided to act in the community's best interest, and knowing his father's thinking the same. The punishment for stealing isn't severe, but with his family's history, they might make a special case out of him. 

There's no other way out of the hangar apart from the aerial door above, and nowhere to hide, though he hadn't considered it an option. The best thing to do is open the door and do whatever he's required without struggle. He holds his hand up to his father, silently telling him to stay still, then pushes himself off the floor and takes quick, uneven steps to the door. 

Instead of the sapphire and silver uniform of the Legion, he's face to face with an impatient looking woman surveying her nails. Relief washes his fear away, but it's quickly replaced with frustration. Judging by her clothes, he's willing to bet she was provided with a stunning education in one of Regontem's finest schools. A school that obviously did not teach the significance of a Closed sign. 

"What?"

"This a mechanic shop?" She peers around Kurt's body into the hangar, looking a little disgusted at the thought of taking a step inside. 

"That is what the sign says. It also says we're closed." He knows his dad is going to give him a talking to later for being short with a potential customer, but his heart is still racing and he doesn't care about anything other than getting back inside. Flies buzz through the open door and the sticky humidity seeps in but the woman doesn't turn away. 

"I need my zeppelin fixed and I need it fixed now." She roots through a pouch strapped around her thigh and pulls out a wad cash. "Will 300 Notas change your mind?"

Kurt's eyes widen at the off-white bills in her hand, each inscribed with a blue Fifty in ornate writing. It's been so long since he's seen a paper bill, they only come in high denominations to keep demand down, and if anyone walking past on the street saw….

"Get in here." He steps aside and urges her in, then looks both ways to be sure no one noticed anything before closing the door behind her. "Are you trying to get yourself mugged?"

She shrugs, unfazed, and steps further into the hangar, surveying the place.

"Christ. This place looks decrepit. You sure that roof isn't going to cave in?"

Kurt blanches at her word and looks around as though some stranger may be holed up inside, eavesdropping. "Don't say that word in here." He warns through gritted teeth.

The woman barks out a short burst of laughter. "What, Christ? You worried the King's Legion'll snatch me up for heresy? Please."

Her apathy doesn't reassure Kurt at all; instead he worries that he let a loose canon with a lit fuse inside their shop. It isn't uncommon to come across dissenters, especially in Taberna where the outrage is growing and the Legion's presence is slim. They're vigilant, though. If they trace this woman back to the shop, he and his father are in serious trouble. 

"Don't worry, little elf," she continues. "They're too busy looking for that whiny prince."

"So am I fixing you ship or not?" Kurt huffs, getting annoyed with her attitude. Even if the Legion's dropped their guard for a day, he'd still rather she leave as soon as possible; if it weren't for the bills still clamped between her long fingers she'd be out already. 

"That's the spirit!" 

He grudgingly marches behind the desk and pulls out the journal of transactions, flipping through the pages to find today's date. The inkwell is running dry, but Kurt gets enough to start writing. He scribbles through the basics then looks back up at the woman.

"I need your name Miss…?"

"It's Captain." She answers curtly, then slides her fingers under the book to flip it shut. The journal closes on his hand, blotting the ink and pushing the nib of the pen through the sheet. He glares at her. 

"What was that for?"

"No documents." She inspects her fingernails for chips as she speaks, like they're more important that the butchered book Kurt's trying to salvage. "No names. No questions. This is how it's gonna happen: you're gonna inspect the zeppelin's acceleration and steering. An extra 50 Notas if you finish within the hour. Then I'm going to fly far, far away from this stinking slum and if anyone asks, I was never here. Clear?"

"Got it." He mutters, still bemoaning the transaction journal. Did she really have to ruin it?  

"Good." She steps back from the desk and struts towards the door, snapping over her shoulder. "Now hurry up and open that aerial door. Time's a wasting."

Kurt rolls his eyes and hits the lever. Above him, there's a hiss and a puff of steam as the overhead doors part and retract, letting the light shine down to the concrete floor. He makes his way back to the curtained area to grab his work clothes to find his father already stepping into his coveralls.

"Don't you dare." Kurt threatens, stopping Burt in his tracks. "I can take care of this. You rest."

HIs father huffs to himself and hangs the garment back onto the hanger while Kurt rustles through a drawer, looking for an acceptable pair of goggles. He attempts to wipe the lenses clean by wiping them over his pant legs, but he only manages to spread the dirt around. It's the best he can do, so he slides them over his eyes, trying to ignore the splotches in his peripheral. He neglects  his coveralls, useless with all the tears at the seams and burn holes; any stains that appear on his shirt will easy camouflage into all the others.

The captain lowers the zeppelin slowly to the garage floor and honestly, Kurt's underwhelmed. Clearly this girl is rich. Very rich, judging not only by the pile of cash, but the supple leather of her fingerless gloves, aviator cap, and bustier, the fine wool of her trousers (rare enough since he only ever sees women in dresses and petticoats when they could afford the extra fabric), and the shine of the many buckles on her boots, glimmering when the dust mutes everything else around it. 

Her aircraft is a piece of shit. A generic model, at least ten years old, and patched on the body with an off-colour sealant.  Something in the engine car ticks every time she hits the accelerator, a sign of old age. Kurt can't imagine what someone like her is doing with that pile of junk. Even by his own standards (which are quite low due to being dirt broke) he'd tell her to scrap the thing. 

The woman sets the zeppelin to hover just above Kurt's head and ignores the rolling stairs Kurt had moved to the pilot window, opting instead to jump down. She lands gracefully and tugs the cap off her head, curtaining her face with long black hair, sleek from daily care and expensive salves. She'd be quite pretty, Kurt notices, if she'd wipe that smirk off her face. 

While the captain wanders around the garage, Kurt busies himself with the engine car. A few cogs are rusting over, lowering its efficiency and causing the steering problems, so Kurt quickly swaps them out for a new pair. Finding the source of the ticking is more challenging, but he eventually locates it inside the propellor. One of the gears has shifted off its holster, compromising the syndicated movement of all the pieces. With steady hands, he fastens the gear back in place and latches the propeller shut.  

Kurt ducks his head beneath the undercarriage to check the time on the adjacent wall clock. The captain had promised him a bonus if he finished within the hour, and he still has plenty of time.

"Do you want me to give it a quick once over?" He yells. The woman is near the back of the hangar, poking around in a toolbox.

"No." She barely raises her voice but the words are perfectly intelligible over the rush of the propellers. "I want you to do what I asked and only that."

"Well, I'm done that."

"What?" She spins on her heel and walks over, eyes narrowed warily. "You're not. What did you do?"

Kurt walks her through his process, feeling a bit proud as the captain nods along.  

"Looks like you're not totally incompetent," she says. Coming from her, he'll take it as a compliment.  She pulls another fifty out of her pouch and tucks it into the pocket of Kurt's shirt. "There." 

Her boots click across the cement as she walks to the stairs, and Kurt can't say he's sad to see her go. She pauses at the door to pull her cap back over her head and pokes stray hairs underneath before throwing the cabin door open and taking her position at the helm. 

The woman starts speaking and Kurt turns his head, thinking he's talking to her. He sees her behind the large wheel, hand pressed to her ear and he realizes she's using a communicator. Technology like that is foreign in Taberna, too expensive for anyone to own. The woman raises her voice to argue with the other person, whoever they are. Finally, the woman pokes her head out the window. 

"'Ey, you. How does 500 Notas a day sound?"

"What?"

"Five hun-dred." She enunciates. "We need an onboard mechanic. You're decent enough, and you don't ask questions. I like that."

Kurt thinks it's a joke at first, but the way she's looking at him with impatience means she really expect an answer. His mind reels. It's an astronomical sum, more than he'd know what to do with, but he still has his misgivings about the woman, let alone leaving his dad, his home. "I don't think-"

"Ok, seven hundred and I'll throw in a live-in caretaker for Pops. Can we go now? We're on a tight schedule here."

"What's all this?" Burt steps out from behind the curtain, looking between the two of them. The captain grumbles to herself and jumps back down to the floor so she can face him.

"Well, sir," she starts, her voice a saccharine tone. Kurt rolls his eyes. "I'm going on a bit of a journey and need someone as skilled as your son on board. We'll be no longer than a week, weather permitting." Burt looks dubious but doesn't stop her. He must've heard the numbers.  "Food, hygiene- everything will be provided for him, and if he wants to back out at any point I can assure his safe return home."

"And you won't be leaving Collow?" He presses. "I don't want him going into Bellam."

"No, sir," she replies smoothly. "I'm just seeing an old friend, and need to get there as soon as possible. I can't afford to waste time hauling this old thing to a mechanic every time it acts up."

Kurt's still wary. Why would she conceal her name if she's just going to visit a friend? On the other hand, this woman is offering him a chance to do something he's always wanted to: explore. He's never been outside Regontem, never seen Collow's towering mountain range or vast craters. Even just getting a glimpse of them from a zeppelin window would be an amazing experience for him.

"Can I, dad?" He's taking a risk trusting this woman, but at nineteen he's feeling stifled in this city. A week isn't too long, but it will give him time to enjoy his trip. "We can't say no to that money."

Burt knows it. "You're an adult now, as much I hate it. You gotta make your own path in life."

"Really touching," the woman says (though now that he has a good look, Kurt thinks she can't be much older than him). "But we're on a deadline here." She jerks her thumb to the clock on the wall. 

"I'm not going anywhere until I see who's looking after my dad," he says sternly, even though he's in no position to give orders. "And I want to know your name." 

"You're killing me, kid." She slips her hand under the ear flap of her cap and presses something on an ear cuff Kurt hadn't noticed earlier. A green light shines from the communicator and the woman starts speaking to somebody. "Yeah, I need your best nurse at Hummel's Hangar right now." She nods along to the other end of the conversation. "Uh… let me check. Yo pops."

Burt's eyebrows raise. "Yeah?"

"She's got a son. Apparently he knows his way around an aircraft. He won't be living here, but is it cool if he hangs around?"

"'Course," Burt replies gruffly. "Not a lot of room here, though."

"Dad, with the money I'm making, you can afford rent on another place. Maybe that place down the street?"

Burt claps a hand on Kurt's shoulder. This windfall is providing them with so many new options they never had before, though knowing that his father will be able to afford proper food makes Kurt the happiest."

"She's on her way now." The woman says. "And my name is Captain Santana Lopez. Now please go pack so we don't have to draw this out any longer."

Kurt follows Burt back into the living area and begins tossing his few possessions in a fraying canvas rucksack. Two pairs of grey pants, made with scratchy wool and patched at the knees, identical to the pair he's wearing now. Four white button up shirts and his only other pair of suspenders.  His undergarments are shoved in alongside socks, both riddled with holes. Most of his material assets were sold after the move for extra money, but he still keeps a few books, and most importantly, his mother's locket with a fading photo of her and her father. The filigree locket is inlayed with a small ruby, but neither he nor his father had ever considered pawning it off. 

He only has one pair of shoes, his steel toe work boots, saving room in his bag for his toolbox. Old zeppelins don't require many tools but he packs for ever conceivable mishap and hopes he has his bases covered. 

He feels his father's eyes on him the whole time and a lump rises in his throat. He's never been away from his father for longer than a day, and now he's heading out to some unknown location with a complete stranger. 

He pushes the doubting thoughts out of his mind and meets the woman- Santana- in the shop. She raises an eyebrow at Kurt and his rucksack. "That's it?"

Kurt's saved from answering by a knock on the door. He throws the bag on the ground with a loud clatter from the tools inside and pulls the door open. 

A friendly looking woman in the traditional white dress and petticoat stands smiling on the doorstep. Her incredibly tall son is off the the side, looking around the street.

"Hi, sweetie." She says, grabbing Kurt's hand between the two of hers. "I'm Carole Hudson, and this is Finn."

"Uh… hey!" Finn snaps his head forward and smiles. 

Kurt leads them inside and Carole instantly orders Burt back to bed. He's impressed with Carole already.

"Great, can we go?" Santana's already halfway up the stairs, huffing with impatience. 

Kurt hugs his father briefly, knowing that if he lingers he'll change his mind, and says his goodbye before running over to the zeppelin. He's about to climb in when he hears a faint meow at his feet. Grim sits on the top step, his tail flicking angrily. Kurt picks him up, struggling with the weight of his rucksack to bend down without tumbling forward. He looks to the pilot's window where Santana is watching him. He holds Grim out, the metal of his body cool on his hands.

"Can I bring him?"

"Yes, fine, whatever. Just get inside."

As soon as Kurt steps into the cabin the door closes with a hiss of steam. Kurt's eyes adjust from the sunlit hangar to the dim interior, and he sets Grim on the floor to stalk off down the hallway. 

The zeppelin rises with a quick jolt and Kurt races to the first window, heart pounding with excitement and trepidation. He watches the shop shrink below him, pressing his face against the glass for a better look. Eventually the overhead doors close and the shop is nothing more than a dot on the map of the city. As they rise, Kurt gets a good look of the Palace on the horizon, sparkling in the sunlight. Santana steers the ship west and eventually the hill and the Palace are nothing more than a jut in the fields below. 


Wait and See (masterpost)
smellslikechai

Rating: NC-17
Words: 20,500
Pairing: Klaine
Summary: Written for the Kurt/Blaine ReversebangKurt is the son of a used book salesman with dreams bigger than his small town; Blaine a transfer student and photographer with shining talent. Together they navigate the path of falling in love while preparing for their looming futures.

A/N: This fic is written to accompany this beautiful piece of artwork by naderegen. (Thumbnail links to art) 


Thank you so much to Mary for beta'ing, and Maribel for being my cheerleader and looking over the fic when I was close going crazy. Anyways, without further ado:

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Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Epilogue 


Wait and See (1/5)
smellslikechai
Kurt leaned on the tall counter, left leg tucked behind his right, a well-worn book held in front of his face. His eyes zoomed rapidly across the page, drinking in every word of the narrative. The store was empty except for one old lady quietly browsing the shelves, fingers running down the spines of each novel, pausing sometimes to pull out an intriguing book, flipping it on its back to skim the description. It was an act Kurt was familiar with; he spent hours in the store, sometimes sneaking down from their overhead apartment to search for his next read. He'd tuck himself against the wall, flashlight in hand, and read until the sun peaked through the large window.

Hummel and Son's Used Book Company had been in the family for generations, starting with his great grandfather and passing the deed on to his son. It had once thrived as Ohio's premier book store – his great grandfather had a way of prying the most renowned titles from collectors to sell in his shop, and maintained a wonderful private collection of his own. As the years went on the clout of Hummel's passed, taken by the public's growing interest in libraries in the run up to World War II, but the store always managed to stay afloat.

Kurt watched as the lady tucked the book she was examining back into its place on the shelf and slowly shuffled out, a friendly bell chiming as the door closed behind her. When she made her way out of sight, Kurt buried his face back in the book. He didn't expect anyone else to drop in; there was only half an hour before the shop closed, and today had been tediously slow. His father disappeared up the stairs hours ago to finish paperwork, leaving Kurt down here to man the fort by himself. Thankfully, he had books to keep him company.

As a child, books were all he had. He always knew he was different. Girls laughed at him and boys shoved him around the playground, though he never understood why. He was sure his tormentors didn't know either; they just saw him as an easy target and made his life hell. The stories he read filled the void of friendship. He never went anywhere without a book stowed away in his backpack, ready to drown out the hurtful comments with promises of adventures and heroics. The more he read, the more he understood himself and those around him. Bullies picked on others because it gave them a satisfaction they couldn't find anywhere else, and Kurt pitied them for it.

When high school rolled around, things got better. He met people with the same interests, and slowly managed to collect a small hodgepodge of friends. Sure, all of them were on the same social standing as he was, but Kurt wasn't picky. Now, one day before the start of his senior year, he felt confident knowing that in whatever class he was in, he'd be sure to have at least one person to talk to.

The ring of the bell pulled Kurt from his thoughts. His two best friends, Rachel and Mercedes, walked through the door arm in arm and laughing loudly.

"Hey, guys!" Kurt smiled, running around the counter to hug them both. "What's the plan tonight?"

Rachel gripped at Kurt's biceps, looking up at him with terrified eyes. "It's a catastrophe, Kurt," she exclaimed, while Mercedes bit her knuckle to keep from laughing. "Horror above all horrors! Mercedes and I-" with the back of her hand to her forehead, she took in a deep breath and turned away. Kurt rolled his eyes. He loved Rachel, but her dramatics were excessive and time consuming. "Don't know what to wear tomorrow!"

Rachel spun back around and bowed to her unimpressed audience. "Good right? I'm thinking about trying out for the school play this year."

"Beautiful," Mercedes said dryly, pushing her out of the way. "You're going to help us, right?" She pleaded, grabbing Kurt's hand. "This is it – senior year. Our last shot to make an impression and get out of here for good."

"Starting with your outfit." Kurt supplied, nodding. "Of course I'll help! Store closes in ten minutes, just hang around 'til then?"

The girls groaned.

"Can't you close up early?" Rachel asked. "Your dad won't know."

"He will. He just knows these things. Someone might come in."

Mercedes started to protest but the bell cut her off. Kurt cocked an eyebrow at her. "See?" He looked at the customer walking through the door then whipped his head back to Mercedes. He mouthed out an oh my God. She nodded.

He'd never seen anyone like that boy before, he'd certainly remember if he had. He looked as though he just walked out of the fifties, his dark brown hair gelled in a deep part and dressed in a grey cardigan, slacks and… was that a bow tie? But it wasn't the outfit, as atypical as it was, that had Kurt staring. The stranger was beautiful: large brown eyes set against olive skin, great complexion, full lips. Kurt tracked his movement across the store, spending most of his time in the visual arts section, flipping through books before deciding to put them in the pile or back on the shelf. After a moment's consideration, he picked up the pile and made his way to the till, stopping only to grab a brightly coloured book.

Kurt smiled as the boy placed the books neatly on the counter. As he rang them through, he payed close attention to the titles; all of them were about photography, except the one Kurt saw him grab last minute. One of Kurt's favourites.

"I used to have two hamsters named William and Mary," Kurt recalled, pointing to the book. "I wanted rats but my dad said he spent so much of his time chasing them out of the apartment, he wasn't going to be having any as pets."

"Oh, I've never read it," the boy said apologetically. "I just liked the cover. It might come in handy for a prop."

"It's a great book. You have to read it!" Kurt slid the books into a plastic bag and read the total.
The other looked puzzled as he handed over his debit card.

"Isn't it a children's book?"

"The Witches is a classic! Just do yourself a favour and look through it, alright?" He handed the boy his debit receipt and waved him off.

"Someone's blushing!" Rachel sang, poking Kurt's chest. Kurt batted her hand away. "He was cute," she pushed, which Kurt couldn't deny. But he knew better than to waste precious brain molecules on a hopeless crush, even if said crush was seriously pinging his gaydar.

"Come on," Kurt shooed them out of the store, taking care to turn off the lights and lock the door behind them.

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

"What about this one?" Mercedes strutted around the bedroom, showing off the outfit she had picked out for tomorrow.

Kurt scrunched up his nose. "I could almost get on board with your affinity for animal print," he twirled a finger, indicating that she should spin. "But why does it have to be technicolour?"

Rachel laughed and grabbed a fist full of popcorn, eagerly awaiting the smack down.

"Excuse you," Mercedes frowned, crossing her arms and jutting her hip out. "Mercedes Jones needs a signature print that is as loud and eye popping as she is."

Kurt pushed himself off the bed and made a show of going through her closet. "Animal print… neon… animal print… neon animal print… animal print." He looked at her pointedly. "There are other options. Bold colours are great in moderation. I have some spare fabric at home. Let me whip you up a top to wear with those skinny jeans, and a bright pair of shoes."

Mercedes wasn't having any of it. "Not a chance, boy. This outfit is fierce."

Sighing, Kurt flopped back down on the bed. "Why did you ask me for advice if you're just going to turn down everything I say?"

"Because," Rachel said, "by 'asking for advice' we actually meant 'tell us how great we look'."

Kurt threw a pillow at her, making her screech and duck. "Jeez, Kurt. What's up with you tonight?"

Mercedes took a seat on the other side of Kurt, sandwiching him between the two girls. He tugged at the strings of his shirt before answering. He had pushed the conversation from his mind, but now he couldn't avoid it any longer.

"I talked to my dad about Parsons last night," he explained to his knees.

Rachel placed a hand on his shoulder. "Did he say no?"

Kurt shook his head. "He didn't say anything. He just gave me this look. Like he was so disappointed in me. That store means everything to him, and when I told him I didn't want to carry on the business…" he took in a shuddery breath, unable to finish his sentence.

"That's not fair," Mercedes said consolingly. "He shouldn't ask you to give up your dreams like that."

"I know," Kurt nodded, wiping away a stray tear. "I still have time to convince him New York is where I belong."

"With us." Rachel pulled him into a rib crushing hug, making him cough.

"And the fabulous parties," Mercedes added.

"The fabulous people!"

"All the fabulous clothes."

"Provided by Monsieur Kurt Hummel," Kurt threw in, finally able to breathe.

"But of course!"

They laughed and fell back, their heads hitting the soft mattress, arms tangled.

Just one more year, Kurt thought to himself. He'll convince his dad on New York, he'll finish off his portfolio, and then he'll get into Parsons.

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

If the first day of school was anything to go by, senior year was going to pass at a snail's pace. His first class dragged on, the teacher's voice nothing more than a monotonous drone in the back of Kurt's head, and they hadn't started the material yet. Thankfully Mercedes sat next to him, so they passed a slip of paper back and forth, keeping themselves entertained.

I saw that boy from the store in the halls before school this morning. Guess he's a transfer student.

Kurt quirked his eyebrow and tried not to look too intrigued as he wrote his reply. Anyone that dresses the way he does clearly isn't from here.

"Kurt. Mercedes."

The pair looked up guiltily and Kurt slid the paper into his pocket, away from curious onlookers.

His second class was across the hallway. He hugged Mercedes at the door, her class located on the other end of the school, and slinked into the empty room. Desk choice was key; if he sat too close to the front he'd be under close scrutiny of the teacher. If he sat at the back he'd be mingling with the jocks and the deadbeats. Middle left was his best choice.

He sank into the stiff seat and pulled out a book, quickly flipping to the marked page as he waited for class to start.

The noise in the room increased as the students walked in, chatting loudly about their summer or squealing when they saw an old friend. Kurt tried to drown them out and focus on the story, but he kept glancing up, checking for friendly faces. As the bell signalling the start of class rang, he realized he didn't have anyone to talk to. One of the few empty desks in the class was on his right, and the girl on his left sat sideways, back to him, deep in conversation with her friend.

After attendance, a drawn out affair that always took twice as long when the noise from the students drowned out the names, Mrs. Andrews, an austere woman who kept her thick hair permanently braided, stood in front of the board and Kurt reluctantly put his book away. With a book, he never seemed alone. Here, in class, he was constantly reminded that he was. Hell, he didn't recognize half the names on the list, and he'd been in the school four years now.

Kurt spun his pencil around his finger and looked up at the clock every few minutes. Barely any time had passed at all but it felt like he'd been here for an eternity. Even sketching dresses, his go-to time waster when reading wasn't available, only held his interest for so long.

A knock on the door whipped everyone's head from the teacher. It pushed open slowly, and the boy from the store poked his head in.

"I-is this Chemistry 30?" He gulped, his eyes blown wide and scanning over the sea of faces. He smiled when he saw Kurt, and Kurt smiled back. "I'm sorry, I'm new. I got lost."

"Well, find a place," Mrs. Andrews motioned towards the desks, and the boy slinked into the seat next to Kurt. "What's your name?"

"It's Blaine Anderson, Misses." He replied politely, a stark contrast to her cold tone. He pulled his binder and textbook from his (fabulous, in Kurt's opinion) leather messenger bag and stared ahead intently, hand flourishing across the page as he took notes. No one else was writing.

Kurt tried to focus on the lecture, really, he did, but Blaine was so distracting. It wasn't anything that he particularly did, but Kurt would find himself staring at the way Blaine sucked on the end of his pen, or the way his long eyelashes looked in profile. Blaine was, thank god, too absorbed in his work to notice, or if he did, he didn't react.

Kurt just really hoped Blaine didn't see him.

The ringing bell pulled Kurt from his thoughts, and he quickly stuffed his binder into his bag. Blaine was doing the same, though he had one eye focused on the school map.

"Which class do you have next?" Kurt asked. "I can point you in the right direction."

Blaine smiled at him. "Thank you! I get so lost in this school." He handed the slip of paper to Kurt's held out hand.

Kurt looked down at it with pursed lips. Blaine's next class was close by, just around the corner, a grade eleven geography class. The class after was advanced math, only available to seniors.

"Your classes are kind of all over the place," Kurt noted, handing the paper back to Blaine. "What grade are you in?"

"I'm a junior, technically," Blaine replied, folding the paper neatly along the creased lines and sliding it back into his pocket. "But my old school was pretty intense. The classes were higher up on the curriculum. Transferring my credits was a pain."

Kurt nodded and followed Blaine out of the class. "You need to go that way," Kurt pointed down the hall, "then turn left. It's right across from a computer lab, can't miss it."

"Thanks, uh…"

"I'm Kurt," he said, surprised when Blaine grabbed his hand for a handshake. He really shouldn't have expected any less from a boy in a bow tie. "If you're not doing anything, you should have lunch with me today. And my friends. Have lunch with us." Kurt fought the heat crawling up his neck. He absolutely refused to make an ass out of himself.  

"That sounds great," Blaine beamed. He squeezed Kurt's hand and wow, they were still touching. "But hey, I have to go to class. Don't want to be late again. See you soon?"

"You bet!"

He watched as Blaine turned on his heel and disappeared into the crowd of students. If his eyes drifted below his waist for a second, he was sure no one would fault him.


----------

Kurt found a desk behind Mercedes and Rachel just as class started. He didn't even bother unpacking his bag; this English teacher was famous around school for his complete apathy. Instead, he leaned forward catching the girls' attention to report the news.

"I was talking to the new kid. His name's Blaine."

Rachel smiled knowingly at him. "Blaine, hey? Should I start making your relationship calendar?"

Kurt slapped her and looked around the class for eavesdroppers. Of course there weren't any. That would require them to care.

"What did you find out? Anything juicy?" Mercedes pressed, ears perking up at the promise of fresh dirt.

"Not really. All I know is that he's a junior, but he's taking a bunch of grade twelve classes. We didn't get a chance to talk much. I invited him to have lunch with us."

They spent the rest of the class discussing their classmates in a hushed tone. Who was dating who, who broke up, who had gotten especially zitty over the summer.

When the lunch bell rang, they fought their way through the halls to the cafeteria, finding a table big enough to seat the expected group. Kurt picked anxiously at his salad, only half listening to Mercedes and Rachel talk. He eyed the steady flow of students through the doors, scanning every face. He shouldn't care so much, shouldn't be so preoccupied by this boy he only just met, but that didn't stop his stomach from flipping when he walked in. Tina was next to him, a friend of Kurt's from book club, and she spotted the table first. Kurt watched as she grabbed Blaine's elbow and led him through the crowd.

"Hey guys!" She went around the table, hugging the three of them in turn and sitting next to Rachel. Blaine stood nervously to the side, glancing at the vacant seats, hands playing with the strap of his bag. Noticing his discomfort, Kurt pushed the chair beside him out and beckoned Blaine over.

"So, Blaine," Rachel leaned forward onto her elbows, resting her head in a hand. "Kurt says you went to some hoity-toity school. What brings you to McKinley?"

"I didn't say that," Kurt added quickly.

Blaine laughed, his eyes crinkling up at the sides and his head tilted back slightly. "My school was kind of posh. It was a boarding school over in Westerville, but my dad had to move for his job."

“Do you miss your friends?” Rachel continued.

Kurt rolled his eyes. “You don’t have to answer her questions, Blaine. Feel free to tune her out.”

“I don’t mind. I miss my friends, yeah, but they’re only a few hours away. And people here seem friendly.”

Mercedes and Tina choked back a laugh, earning them a glare from Kurt.

“I noticed you bought a bunch of photography books the other day,” Mercedes said, tactfully changing the topic. “Are you a photographer?”

Kurt turned to Blaine, eager to hear his answer. Handsome and cultured. Another tic under Team Gay.

Blaine ducked his head bashfully. “I try to be. Um, there’s still a lot I have to learn, but I think I’m okay.”

“That’s so funny,” Rachel said too brightly, sending Kurt a discreet wink, “because I was just talking to Kurt and he was lamenting the lack of decent photographers around here.”

Kurt, who had said no such thing, watched on in horror, afraid of what Rachel would come up with next. Blaine seemed dumbstruck by her words, not sure what to say.

“Kurt’s a designer,” she continued, oblivious to (or, more likely, choosing to ignore) Kurt’s surreptitious but insistent signals to shut up. “He’s brilliant, and he’s going to get into Parsons, but he needs to send in his portfolio, and for that he needs a photographer.”

Which wasn’t true at all. He didn’t need anything more than some quick snapshots of his outfits on a mannequin. The more he thought about it, though, the more he loved the idea of sending them something more dramatic and memorable. Unless Blaine thought he was taking advantage. Kurt had just met him, it would be uncouth to swindle photography services out of him.

“Well that’s totally up to Kurt,” Blaine said, tilting his head in Kurt’s direction. “I’m not gonna turn down the opportunity to expand my own portfolio.” He smiled guiltily.   

Kurt smiled back, legitimately glad that Blaine wasn’t slowly backing away.

“Here,” Blaine grabbed a notebook and a pen from his bag and hastily scribbled onto a clean page. “This is my number. Call me whenever you want to set something up. I think it could be a lot of fun!”

Kurt folded the scrap of paper Blaine handed him and slid it into his pocket, reminding himself that this was totally professional and not in any way Blaine flirting with him. Blaine didn’t mean for their fingers to graze as Kurt grabbed the paper, and he was looking into Kurt’s eyes because it was polite. So Kurt could stop thinking about the honey brown irises and the buzzing where their skin made contact, like, right now.

“Thanks,” Kurt said weakly, and prayed the heat crawling up his face wasn’t visible.

Kurt slumped back in his chair when Tina caught Blaine’s attention with a question about lighting. His thoughts strayed to his unfinished collection, sitting nearly completed in his room, awaiting the final touches that Kurt couldn’t bring himself to make. He’d been working on those clothes for ages, making small tweaks and trims as dictated by his three Vogue subscriptions. Once finished, that would be it. If the collection sucked, he wouldn’t have time to start over, and his Dad could stop him from sending the pictures in, anyways. He chewed slowly on his salad, his mind whirring.

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

Kurt walked through the store entrance, making his way past a group of chatting young girls. His father was behind the desk, laughing with a customer.

“Hey, Dad,” he sang, relieved to shrug off his heavy bag. He straightened a pile of books as his dad rang through the order, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When the customer left, Kurt slid behind the counter. “How was your day?”

“Same old, same old,” Burt replied, clapping Kurt on the shoulder and pulling out a stack of paperwork. He’d been reluctant to automate the system, preferring the tedious tasks of filing and storing reams of paper over trusting the store’s information to computers. “People have gotten along just fine without that stuff for thousands of years,” he had said.

Burt licked the tip of the pen before writing. “How was school?”

“Really good!” Kurt said, clasping his hands together and leaning over the desk, kicking his feet up. He was laying it on a bit thick, his day hadn’t really been anything spectacular, but he knew that his good moods tended to rub off on his father. “My classes are going to be a complete breeze.” He watched Burt carefully, judging his face. He didn’t have those faint lines on his forehead from scowling. “There’s a new kid in school, we have a class together. He transferred from a boarding school.”

Burt looked up, his hand stilled. “Alright.” Kurt could see him bracing himself.

“Well, he’s a photographer. A really good one.” He hoped. “He came into the store yesterday and apparently he really liked it because he asked if he could do a shoot in here. And when Rachel told him I make clothes he asked me to style!” Kurt figured there was enough truth to cancel out the blatant lies.

“You like this guy?”

“He’s nice,” Kurt answered, avoiding the deeper implication of the question. “And I figured a bit of advertising won’t hurt us. You know, if he becomes famous, you can say he shot in your store.”

Burt chuckled and turned back to his paperwork. “You’ll have to do it during the off hours, and it’s all on you.”

Kurt jumped and squealed, drawing looks from the patrons. “Thank you! It’s going to be great, I promise!” He grabbed his bag and ran up the stairs, all but throwing himself into his work desk. After lots of deliberation and stalling, he pulled out the first piece, a shirt, and meticulously finished the hems, creating his first complete look. Next was a dress that took much longer as he worked fine details into the fabric with metallic thread. By the time he had finished that, his eyes were sore from straining them and the sun was settling down on the horizon.

Kurt stood and stretched, having been sitting the entire time, hunched over the dress. He looked from the two finished pieces to the paper with Blaine’s scribbled number pinned to his cork board and smiled. This year would be different than the others; he’d have his dream of New York to carry him through the rough days. Only nine more months and he would be out of Lima forever (hopefully).

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

The next morning Kurt strolled into school early, non-fat mocha clutched dutifully in his hand as he walked down the near-empty hallways. The apartment had been stifling and his collection begging for more and more alterations, so he left. With a book tucked under his arm he made his way to the cafeteria, looking forward to a few minutes of quiet before the stampede of students charged in right before the first bell.

Just as he turned around the corner, he saw Blaine walk out of the office, papers in hand. Kurt doubled back and caught up to him.

“Hey!” He said, lightly touching Blaine’s elbow to get his attention. “In trouble already?” Kurt nodded towards the office.

“No, nothing like that,” Blaine laughed. “I was just trying to sort out my credits. It’s been a bit of a pain, but things are looking good.”

“Do tell.”

“Well I don’t want to jinx it,” Blaine leaned in conspiratorially, and Kurt felt his face warm. “But I’m only two credits away from graduating.”

“But that’s wonderful!” Kurt cried, more than a little jealous that Blaine could finish high school with one less year in this tortuous institution than he himself had, though mostly glad for him.

“Well, I still have to find a way to add these two hypothetical classes to my full schedule before the add/drop date limit...” Blaine shrugged the thought away and Kurt sipped at his drink pensively.

They slowed down outside what must have been Blaine’s locker, since the boy turned the combination lock with ease and extracted a few textbooks, dumping them into his bag. The locker was barely decorated, just a few pictures pinned to the metal with magnets, though Kurt felt it would be too intrusive to get a good look. He couldn’t help but notice, however, a faded picture of Blaine, baby-faced in a small suit, sitting behind a piano, his hair gelled identical to the way he wore it now.

“Do you still play?” Kurt asked. “There’s a jazz band that meets twice a week during the lunch hour. I think they already have a pianist, but maybe you could try out. I’m pretty sure it counts as a credit.”

Blaine closed the locker door quietly and chewed on his lip. “That would actually be pretty amazing.”

“It would!” Kurt fished his phone from his pocket and typed out directions to the conductor’s room. “There. Now you have my number, and you know where to go. You’ll have to audition, but the director is really nice.”

“Wow, Kurt,” Blaine said, almost in awe. “Thank you.” He was looking directly into Kurt’s eyes again, and it should have made Kurt self-conscious or uncomfortable, like it did yesterday, but today it was so sincere, so earnest, that Kurt just nudged him with his shoulder and pointed towards the cafeteria.

“You wanna split some disgusting, greasy hash browns?”

The cafeteria was slowly filling with students, each with cups of coffee in their hands, some of them finishing homework from the truly evil teachers that assigned it on the first day. The line-up for food is short, thankfully, so Kurt and Blaine pay for a large dish of hash browns and find a table before all the seats were taken.

Kurt speared a cube onto his fork, silently wondering if there was a graceful way to bring up the proposed photo shoot without seeming too eager, or like he was using Blaine just for his camera. Because that really wasn’t the case at all. With a face like that, Kurt thought it was a tragedy that Blaine stayed behind the lens.

“So...” Blaine started, looking up at Kurt, a trace of nerves on his face. “Did you actually need a photographer for your portfolio, or was Rachel just being facetious yesterday?”

Oh god, now Blaine thought he and his friends were weird, or teasing him. He shoved a hash brown in his mouth to buy himself time.

“Because I think that’s a great idea.”

Kurt nearly choked on his food. “Yeah?”

“Yeah! It’s great way to make an impression, and selfishly, I’d love to try my hand at fashion photography.” He grinned sheepishly. “I’ve been flipping through my mom’s Vogues since I was a kid.”

This time Kurt actually did choke. In his excitement he breathed in too deep, inhaling a chunk of potato. He coughed loudly, covering his mouth lest he spit on Blaine’s face and make this experience that much better. Blaine pushed Kurt’s mocha towards him which Kurt promptly downed, nearly scalding his throat.

“I’m sorry,” Kurt rasped, “I just get really excited about Vogue.”

Blaine laughed at that, a real, uninhibited laugh that drew attention from the tables around them. His mouth was open wide, his eyes crinkled, and soon Kurt was joining in too. It had been so long since Kurt had really laughed, and maybe he just needed to get it out of his system, because once he started, he found himself struggling to stop.  

“It’s not even that funny,” Kurt wheezed, clutching at his sore abs.

“I know but I can’t-” A fit of giggles cut Blaine off. “Sorry. Sorry.” He cleared his throat.

“No, keep laughing at my near-death encounter,” Kurt teased, kicking him under the table. “Glad I could be some entertainment for you.”

"I would have saved you," Blaine replied with a kick back, his foot resting against Kurt's ankle.

Kurt struggled to come up with an intelligent response, his mind having gone blank. Blaine was flirting. He was flirting and Kurt couldn't do anything but stare because he was an idiot who forgot the concept of spoken language and was two seconds away from grunting out his reply and presenting Blaine with a freshly killed woolly mammoth to woo him.

"I have a portfolio," Blaine said quickly, putting Kurt out of his misery but looking disappointed. "So you can decide if you want me to shoot your clothes." He grabbed a brown leather book and slid it across the table. The front was blank, no inscription or title.

"You keep this with you at all times?" Kurt flipped the cover open. The first page was a white page with a few of Blaine's personal details.

"I just have it because I've got an interview today. At the art gallery here."

Kurt's eyebrows shot up as he turned to the first photograph. A group of twenty or so boys about Kurt's age, all in blue and red suits, ties loosened and a few blazers slung aside sat in front of an old stone building. They were all smiling, eyes scrunched up against the sunlight.

"This is really beautiful, Blaine." It was. Much better than anything Kurt had expected to see.

"My favourite," Blaine explained. "That was my old school, my friends."

There were a few more shots of his old classmates, then a small girl sitting in a tree, sticking her tongue out at the camera.

Kurt was torn between admiring the details of each shot and quickly turning through the pages, eager to see what was next.

When he finally got to the end, Blaine watched him with anticipation. "So they're okay? I'm not a professional or anything, but I hope the art gallery will be impressed enough to let me work there."

"I'm sure they'll be amazed," Kurt said reassuringly and slid the book back to Blaine. "These are stunning. And I don't throw out false compliments," he added when Blaine looked unsure. "I'd be thrilled to have you as my photographer."

Blaine smiled wide, a look so infectious Kurt had to smile right back.

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

Chapter 2



Wait and See (2/5)
smellslikechai
“Hi, kiddo!” His dad called out from behind the desk. There was a large pile of books on the counter, all with yellowing pages and heavily creased spines. It was like Christmas for Kurt.

He didn't even think to remove his messenger bag before running to the new inventory and sliding his finger over the spines as he read the titles. He’d never heard of any of them before, but he was interested in acquainting himself. He grabbed an armful. “I’m going to flip through these over there,” he nodded to an empty corner and walked carefully to an abandoned aisle, setting the books down and sitting cross-legged, back against a shelf.

Whenever new books came in, Kurt insisted he at least flip through them. It made him a better sales associate when he could summarize almost everything in the store and give pitch-perfect recommendations. He didn't have time to read them all the way through, and a lot of them weren't that great to begin with, but he never failed to spend at least a quarter hour scanning the pages, taking note of characters, plot, and syntax.

As he tore through the novels, fingers steadily flipping each page, eyes boring into the small letters, he slipped slowly from reality. He was only vaguely aware of the customers walking by, most of them, used to the owner's son setting up camp and losing himself in the books, stepped over him unnoticed. It took the unexpected click of a shutter to pull Kurt back. He blinked, orienting himself to reality, and looked over to see Blaine, camera held up to his face, standing by the low shelf.

"I hope it's okay," Blaine said weakly, letting his camera rest on the neck strap. Instead of his usual cardigan/bowtie combo, he wore a simple red and white striped henley and relaxed jeans. It was a jarring change, but Kurt couldn't help but notice how nicely Blaine filled out the outfit. He shook the thought from his mind. "You just looked really good reading like that. Happy." He corrected quickly. "You looked happy."

Kurt slid his thumb in the between the pages to keep his place and smiled up at the boy. "Thanks." He checked his watch, surprised to see that it was already ten minutes to close. Time slipped away so easily when he was reading. He gathered the books into a few neat piles and rose up, his back aching from sitting hunched over for so long. He raised his hands above his head, stretching out, and looked around the store, checking for his model.

He had managed to bribe Quinn Fabray, popular cheerleader and reluctant book club member, into modelling for him. In return, he (painfully) agreed to let her choose next month's book. He went out and bought a two dollar bible from the dollar store in preparation.

Kurt wondered if Quinn had ever planned to show up and started to panic. To avoid a full on meltdown in front of Blaine, he quickly asked him about his equipment, and Blaine told him everything was still in his station wagon.

While the last customers filed out of the store, a few with a bag of books and others empty handed, Kurt took the time to introduce Blaine to his father. Everyone always had a hard time believing Kurt and Burt were related, and Blaine was no exception. He looked between the two; Burt, the big, baseball cap and flannel wearing guy, and Kurt, lithe and fashionable, features delicate where Burt's were rugged.

"Nice to meet you," Burt said gruffly, eyes piercing into the kid intently.

If Blaine was intimidated (and Kurt was quite sure he was) he did a good job hiding it. "You too, sir. Your son's been so helpful this past week. I'm sure I'd still be looking for that geography room without him."

Burt raised a surprised eyebrow, and Kurt wondered if it was Blaine's formality or his gushing review of his son that shook him. Probably both.

"He's the photographer I was telling you about!" He said happily. "We're going to be doing a few shots tonight. But we'll be quiet and clean up after ourselves."

Burt just nodded as though the concept of a photo shoot went far beyond his grasp and grabbed his paperwork, ready for a few more hours work. "Just remember to lock up when you're done." With a warning look to Kurt he strode out behind the counter and marched up the stairs to the apartment.

There was a pause between the boys as they stood in the now empty store. Kurt racked his brain for something to say, something that would make Blaine laugh but seem nonchalant at the same time.

"Uh. We should get your stuff."

Not exactly what he was going for, but Blaine smiled and lead Kurt out the propped-open door.

His jaw nearly dropped when Blaine opened the back door of his car. He knew from the pictures Blaine had showed him that he was talented, but he never realized how much equipment was involved. Large black cases and collapsible stands laid precariously on the backseat. He could only imagine how much everything had cost.

"It looks like a lot," Blaine said meekly, grabbing the handle of a trapeze case, "but it sets up quickly."

Kurt carried a few of the lighter poles at Blaine's insistence, setting them against the counter.

Blaine worked efficiently, extending the poles with a few flicks and twists of his wrists, and setting up the lights, expertly arranging them around the shelf they had decided would serve as the background. Kurt had offered to help but he realized would probably just fumble into Blaine's way, so he leaned back and watched the process, giggling at Blaine's seemingly unconscious muttering. "Light here… ISO at 200… or 400?…"

"Hey."

Kurt jumped when Quinn lightly touched his arm. He had completely forgotten about his model. They hug awkwardly; neither of them had ever been able to quantify their friendship, leaving them in a strange grey zone. They saw each other in class and book club, sometimes even managed to have enlightening conversations as long as they gave the subject of God and religion a wide berth, but they sat on polar opposite ends of the school hierarchy.

After triple-checking that Blaine would be fine on his own, he dragged Quinn upstairs and handed her the first dress.

"Is there I a place I can change, or…?"

"Quinn." He met her eyes. "I'm not going to peek."

She chuckled, a nice change from her usual head-bitch-in-charge scowl, and stripped off her white eyelet shirt.

"So who's the guy?" She asked, poking her head through the low neck of the dress and shot him a playful glance through the mirror. "A special friend, maybe?"

"Maybe," Kurt echoed. The dress was a bit big on Quinn, hanging loosely over her hips. Thankfully it was an easy fix. He grabbed a few butterfly clips from the kitchen and pinned the extra fabric behind her back. "Voilà!"

"But really," Quinn continued, eyes stuck firmly on her reflection. "You're totally into him, so go for it! He's- you know- gay, right?"

Kurt shrugged. "He hasn't said anything, but he reads Vogue." They share a knowing look.

"Alright, Daisy Buchanan." He took Quinn's hand, helping her keep her balance in the towering heels he instructed her to bring. "Let's get this shoot started."

----------

Blaine was doing the last minute adjustments when Kurt and Quinn came down the stairs. Kurt felt himself preening when Blaine took in the dress – or was it Quinn he was eyeing?

"Kurt, wow. That's beautiful."

He physically slumped in relief.

As Blaine directed Quinn in front of the lens, Kurt tensed again. As soon as Rachel planted the idea of a photo shoot in his head, he'd had strong visions of how it should look in his head, and surrendering control had always been a challenge for him. He warned Blaine that he could be anal (yes, he used that word. Yes, he knocked his pencil off the desk right after), but he trusted him to use his photographer's eye. Kurt didn't know anything about composition or focus, but he had a firm grasp on aesthetics, and he knew Blaine did too.

So he stood back and watched Blaine work, easing a smile from Quinn and directing a few simple poses. Kurt would step in now and again to adjust her dress or hair, but for the most part was content in letting someone as talented as Blaine put his own spin on Kurt's clothes.

He could see Blaine itching to move in for a tight shot, and stepping forward before remembering the focus was on the clothes and moving back. He bounced on the balls of his feet a lot, Kurt noted, and when he was on a roll he tended to shout.

"Yes! Your hand right there! Perfect!"

When they had a few hundred pictures to choose from, Kurt and Quinn went back upstairs to change her outfit while Blaine snuck outside to cool down.

"A bit luxurious for Anne of Green Gables." Quinn surveyed the silky white blouse he held out, running her hand over the material. "Wasn't she an orphan?"

"My interpretation wasn't literal." He held out the sleeves, letting Quinn slide her arms through the holes.

"These are really gorgeous, Kurt. Parsons will be lucky to have you."

Kurt, touched by Quinn's genuine compliment, put a hand over his heart.

"So will Blaine."

"Oh, I don-"

"Do you not see the way he looks at you?" She stepped into the steel blue dress that accompanies it and looked down at him while he tied the bow that rested at the waist.

Kurt tried to refute, afraid of getting his hopes up, but Quinn cut him off again.

"I'm serious. He doesn't look at me like that. Like his eyes are about to turn into hearts. He's like Pepe LePieu when he sees you, though less creepy."

He didn't respond, just let what she said sink in. He thought Blaine looked at everyone like that, but Quinn was the second person to tell him otherwise now. When he went downstairs, he'd watch Blaine carefully, he decided. Pay close attention to his looks, be objective. Try not to stare at the sliver of skin and hair that's exposed above his jeans when he leans backwards.

Blaine had a short stool set out when they returned and a few books piled to the side, old ones with faded spines and frayed covers. Quinn carefully settled herself down, sinking a long way before the stool, only a foot and a half tall, caught her weight. Her legs stuck out of her dress awkwardly, and it took both Blaine and Kurt to find a way for them to rest that didn’t look painful.

“Do her heels have to be six inches?” Blaine asked, worrying his lip between his teeth as he dealt with Quinn’s ankles. The shoes weighed them down, leaving them uncomfortably bent.

“I’m not dignifying that question with a response.”

“You’re a sadist.”

Kurt shrugged guiltily and shouldered him. “You like it.”

Their eyes met. Blaine, just barely shorter than Kurt, looking up at him, and Kurt’s face much too close. Electricity pulsed where their bodies grazed. Blaine swallowed loudly, his adam’s apple bobbing before he managed to stutter out a breathy “yeah.”

Quinn coughed.

“I mean,” Blaine all but jumped back. “I like that... vision. You have one.” He cleared his throat.

“But c-compromise is good, right?” Kurt willed his heartbeat back to an acceptable rhythm. “We can do without the shoes for this shot. It’s not like Anne was traipsing about the field in stilettos, right?” He laughed weakly and knelt down, helping Quinn with the buckles on the shoes while Blaine made his way back to the camera.

“See what I mean?” She hissed under her breath.

“Yeah.” Kurt bit the inside of his cheek. What happened was undeniably, irrevocably, a moment.

“So what are you gonna do about it?”

Kurt rose back to his feet, shoes in hand and said much too loudly, “I’m gonna go pee.”

He ran up the stairs, feet thumping loudly on each step and heart pounding in his ears. He could really be an idiot sometimes. But then, he’d never had much practice being around boys he liked, or any, really. Thinking on it, he realized Blaine was his first true crush outside the pages of his books. Everyone in his school was either homophobic or horribly mundane. Of course some of them were cute, but he was never flustered around them, didn’t bother getting his hopes up. But now, in the presence of a gorgeous, available boy, he felt what he’d read about in books: sweaty palms, a tied tongue, beating heart. He’d always taken that as an exaggeration; if anything, he thought the experience was horribly undersold. Nothing he’d read about first crushes compared to this.

“Hey kiddo.”

Kurt skidded to a halt on his heels. He’d walked right by his father’s study. “Hey, Dad.”

The bags under his eyes were more pronounced, the lines around his mouth visible after frowning down at the papers. He was tired.

Kurt felt guilt wrack through his body. He used to help him with the paperwork, when he was younger. He’d sit on the other side of the desk and write the dates on top of the pages and read the small print out loud to his father. Then he’d made friends, skipped a few nights. Now he rarely ever saw his father, let alone spent bonding time together like they had. Burt yawned and removed his cap, letting the harsh light of the incandescent bulb cast deep shadows across his face and throw his wrinkles into sharp relief. He looked about twenty years older, chiselled from age and stress.

And now Kurt was orchestrating his escape literally under his father’s nose. He felt his smile falter as he thought of his father’s reaction upon hearing Kurt didn’t plan, never had, really, on staying in Lima to take over the business. But this wasn’t the time to bring it up. He vowed to make it soon.

“How’s the shoot going? Your pal managing to get our sign in a couple shots?”

Kurt’s laugh felt hollow. “I’ll rib him into taking a promotional picture for us, Dad.” Us. He nearly choked over the word. “You need a hand finishing up? They won’t miss me down there.”

“You go ahead, Kurt.” Burt ran his hand over his head a few times before sticking his hat back on, but Kurt saw the trace of a smile, the same quirk in the corner of his mouth Kurt felt when he hid his joy.

“Maybe another time.” Kurt rapped his knuckles on the door frame before backing to his room. He tossed Quinn’s shoes on the floor, took in a deep breath, and skipped down the stairs, smile plastered back on.

----------

It took another two hours to finish the shots of all of Kurt’s outfits, and they were all exhausted when ten o’clock rolled around. The sun had sunk below the buildings, the last traces of light too close to the horizon to see, and the moon floated over the treetops. Quinn left with a hug for both of the boys, limping a little from the hours spent in a collection of heels.

Kurt helped Blaine wrangle wires and collapse everything that needed to be shrunk, not saying much and only grunting out a few words to Blaine’s questions. His mind was still up in his father’s office, the heavy weight of shame still weighing on his insides, dragging his limbs like lead.

“Kurt?”

Kurt glanced up. Blaine was standing in front of him, lightly tugging the bundle of wire from his hands.

“Are you okay? You’ve been quiet.”

“Have I?” He knew Blaine wouldn’t buy it. “It’s nothing. Really.”

“It’s not...” Blaine looked uncomfortable, tugging at his sleeve, “... me, is it?”

Kurt furrowed his brows at him, wondering what Blaine could mean. Blaine had been perfect all night.

“When we were joking about Quinn’s shoes.” His words were quiet, small. “You ran upstairs and when you came back down you seemed, I dunno. Upset. I didn’t mean to make things weird.”

Kurt could have laughed. He let a small chuckle slip out and touched Blaine’s shoulder lightly. “No, it wasn’t you, Blaine. If you did something wrong, you can bet you’d hear about it.”

Blaine’s face brightened. “I was kinda freaking out back there. I thought I ruined something.” He tossed the wire onto the pile of equipment. “Want to worry about this later and go through the pictures?”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

Blaine dug his laptop out of his bag and pulled up the file with all the shots. He’d had it hooked up to the camera all night, so all the shots, including the ones with Quinn mid-sneeze, or Kurt in the frame, adjusting whatever was falling down. There were just over a thousand in total.

“This might take a while. Stay there.” Kurt ran to the children’s section of the store and pulled a few bean bag chairs against the main counter. “There.”

They settled in comfortably and Blaine set his laptop in between them. “I have a better computer at home we should use for picking out the final shots,” he explained, expanding the first picture, “but we can weed out the ones we definitely don’t want.”

Another hour is spent giggling over the bad pictures and Kurt begging Blaine to email the pictures of Quinn with her mouth open and eyes half closed to him for future blackmail purposes. Blaine, the noble bastard, refused.

Throughout the process, they found themselves shifting closer and closer. Kurt would hover his finger over the screen, pointing out a particularly nice pose or angle, and Blaine would lean in, listening. Or Blaine would explain a technique he used and Kurt, feigning a sudden hearing problem, would have to scoot in to make sure he caught each word.

By the time they’d narrowed each outfit down to around twenty shots, they were pressed arm to arm, leg to leg. If Blaine tilted his head, it would rest comfortably on Kurt’s shoulder, and Kurt would be able to slip his arm easily around Blaine’s waist.

“What’s that one?” One of the thumbnails was different from the others. Kurt didn’t remember Blaine taking another picture.

“I took it when I first got here,” he pulled it up.

Kurt’s profile filled the screen. He was reading, his eyes cast downwards and his eyelashes noticeable in a ray of light. It would have looked morose if his mouth hadn’t been curled up in a secretive smile. Kurt didn’t remember physically reacting to the book he had been reading at the time, but he didn’t notice much when he read.

It struck Kurt as stunning. Not because he was the feature, but because of the way it had been taken. A sliver of light from a window out of frame fell across the page, and the books on the shelf behind Kurt faded into nothingness, like the row was unending.

He could feel Blaine watching him, felt his gaze burning into the side of his cheek. He turned and let his hand seek out Blaine’s. Their fingers brushed tentatively before Kurt grasped Blaine’s palm in his own. His stomach swooped and his body warmed from his bones out.  

“You really do know how to find the beauty in everything, don’t you?”

“It’s not hard when you’re around.”

Kurt didn’t know who started it, they probably acted in tandem, but his eyelids fluttered closed and they moved in until their lips met in a soft kiss. It was nothing more than a soft brush, so gentle and tentative it could only be described as chaste, but it sent Kurt’s nerves ablaze. He tilted his head and parted his lips, pushing in a bit harder, angling for more. Their teeth clacked loudly and Blaine pulled back, a goofy smile on his face. Kurt could feel the exact same smile on his own.

“I’ve never done this before,” he whispered apologetically.

Kurt giggled. Why couldn’t he stop grinning? “Me neither.”

Blaine cupped Kurt’s cheek in his hand and pulled him back in, exhaling shakily through his nose. He moulded himself into the kiss, lips sliding perfectly against Kurt’s and finding a steady tempo. Letting instinct and adrenaline take over, Kurt grabbed Blaine’s waist and held him close. His fingers pressed against the thin fabric of Blaine’s shirt, seeking out the warmth of his skin. All the new sensations overwhelmed him; the feeling of light scruff over his cheeks, the cool taste of spearmint gum on his tongue and the scent of musky body wash embedding into his shirt.

Seventeen years of waiting for his first, incredible kiss seemed like a fair trade, Kurt thought. They pulled away, both flushed red and smiling, and Blaine grabbed Kurt’s palm, his fingers trailing over the lines like he was reading his future. Kurt wondered vaguely what his love line might look like.

“So...” Blaine started. “That was kind of nice.”

Kurt laughed at the understatement. “It was pretty alright, I guess.”

“As much as I’d like to stay,” Blaine gestured vaguely to the small pile of equipment, “I do have to go home now.”

Hiding his disappointment, Kurt nodded and lifted himself to his feet, then held out his hand for Blaine. Even the platonic gesture of helping Blaine up sent butterflies flying around his stomach, and left him tripping over his feet while he carried the light stands back to Blaine’s station wagon.

“Where do you even find all this?” Kurt asked, handing the poles off to Blaine.

“My brother does commercials. He just grabs whatever’s broken but usable, or charms it off the set.” He swung the trunk shut and leaned against the car. “He’s pretty much a constant pain in the ass, but sometimes he’s capable of thinking of someone other than himself.”

“I’m sure he’s not that bad.”

Blaine shrugged noncommittally, obviously not wanting to talk more about his brother. Kurt didn’t want to, either, if he was honest. He had other thoughts on his mind.

He stepped in close to Blaine but kept his hands buried deep in his pockets. Blaine looked so good in the moonlight, the soft glow illuminating his face just enough to see the sharp outlines of his jawline and nose, and reflected off the decaying gel in his hair. He heard Blaine’s breath hitch, and took it as a sign to proceed, gently pressing his lips against Blaine’s and kissing him slow just because he could. Because Blaine was so gorgeous and the night was dark and no one could see what they were doing.

Blaine smiled against the kiss and brought his hands to Kurt’s waist, pulling him that much closer. It made Kurt’s stomach flip, having Blaine’s hands there and his tongue in his mouth, and he gains the courage to trail his fingers down Blaine’s cheek and cup his jaw.

The hum of an approaching car forces them apart, and in the harsh light of the headlamps Kurt sees a red blush on Blaine’s cheeks and kiss swollen lips. He bounces on the balls of his feet while he waits for the car to pass, then presses one last kiss to Blaine’s mouth before he pulls him around to the driver’s door. If Blaine didn’t leave right away, Kurt would be viable to keeping him at the shop forever.

“So, when can we meet up again?” He probably sounded clingy and eager but Kurt didn’t care. He’d had a great time and he wasn’t going to deny himself another chance to make out with Blaine.

Made out, Kurt thought to himself, barely containing his grin. I totally just made out with this hot guy and we might even do it again.

“I’m busy this weekend,” Blaine said, and Kurt was a little relieved to see that Blaine looked disappointed to say it. “I have that interview on Sunday, so tomorrow I have to get my portfolio ready. Maybe Monday, after school? I’m auditioning for Jazz Band, but it shouldn’t take long.”

“It’s a date.”

“A date,” Blaine agreed, and leaned in for one last chaste kiss to Kurt’s cheek. “See you then.”

Kurt watched Blaine drive away from the sidewalk, and waited until he turned the corner before heading back in. He tip toed up the steps, careful not to wake his father as he maneuvered in the dark. As soon as he stepped in his room, he fell onto his bed, buried his face in the comforter and squealed, feet flailing.

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

Saturday had been a crazy day at the store. Kurt barely had the opportunity to sit down in his usual spot with one of the new books before someone would wander by, asking for help. Most of the time it was some middle aged lady asking if they carried Fifty Shades of Grey (they did not, and Kurt had made it his personal goal to ensure the book never made it through the door), but on the rare occasion someone would ask for a recommendation, Kurt was in his element. He bounced around the store from bookshelf to bookshelf like an errant pinball, picking out books seemingly without looking at the title and giving a perfect summary each time. He spoke so fast that most patrons just looked on with concerned amusement, perhaps wondering if Burt knew his son was on the cocaine.

“-because they’re going all over Manhattan to find this secret show,” Kurt relayed breathlessly, holding up a stained David Levithan novel. “And they don’t even know each other but there’s this connection formed only by their similar taste in music, and it acts as the undercurrent for their-”

“I think she’s got enough to read for now,” Burt said, rescuing the doe-eyed girl from Kurt’s monologue. “Store’s closing, madam. I’ll help you carry your books.”

Burt grabbed half the pile that Kurt had laid in her arms, plus the copy of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist he added last minute. “A personal favourite.”

Kurt hung around for the sale and grabbed the noticeably heavier cash tray from the drawer, carrying it upstairs as his father lumbered behind with the paperwork.

They settled into their old spots in the office, Burt’s finger hovering over the old accounting calculator as he tallied receipts, and Kurt quickly counting the money in the till, piling mounds of change on the table and shooting them into his hand as he counted.

“Good day,” Burt noted with a nod, as if the endless stream of customers hadn’t been a hint.

“And the till’s only two cents over today.”

“Given any thought to school yet?”

The change in topic was so abrupt that Kurt nearly dropped the handful pennies he’d been recounting. He watched his father carefully, looking for some sign that he knew of Kurt’s plan to run away to New York, but all he found was innocent curiosity. “Oh. I- not really.”

“Well there’s still time yet before you gotta start handing in your application. Old Professor Harding over at UNOH only has a few years before he leaves the accounting program-”

Kurt shuddered at the idea of staying in Lima for another four years.

“But of course Franklin’s a great school, too. Even Ohio State. You’re a bright kid, Kurt. You could get in wherever you wanted.”

Anywhere except where he really wanted to be, Kurt thought bitterly. He was saved from a reply when his phone started buzzing.

Blaine: how many pictures of tall buildings against blue skies do you think i can submit before i become a niche photographer?

Kurt: What others call niche I would call a very specific talent. But what about those pictures you took at that creek in Westerville?

“Who’s got you so flustered?” Burt asked dryly.

Kurt was tempted to say ‘no one,’ to breeze past this, but he was already lying about one thing to his father, he didn’t want to keep piling them on.

“Uh.” He ignored his vibrating phone. “You remember Blaine, right?”

“The photographer from last night? I thought you said there wasn’t anything between you two.” He didn’t look angry, just a little exasperated.

“There wasn’t!” Kurt rectified quickly. “It’s new. Really new. And I know I haven’t known him for long but... he’s great dad. We have a lot in common, and I never expected to find anyone like him here.”

Burt crossed his arms and contemplated the news. “You know, kid. I always wondered how you would get along in a small town like this. I wanted you to experience everything life has to offer, and this is one big part of that.” He seemed to be choking on his next words, as though they were fighting their way out of his reluctant mouth. “If you’re sure about him, be smart, Kurt. And be safe.”

“I’m sure, Dad.”

Burt nodded brusquely. “Now get out and be a normal teenager for once. It’s Saturday night, you shouldn’t be spending it with me.”

Kurt smiled and pushed himself out the chair, waiting until he was in the hallway to check his missed message.

Blaine: i wasnt sure about those but you have such an awesome eye i have no choice but to trust you :)

As Kurt dialled Rachel’s number into the keypad, he felt giddy with just how sure of Blaine he was.

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

They met at Kurt’s locker that Monday. Blaine clutched at a giant cup of coffee and handed another, more reasonable cup to Kurt (after about five texts checking and double checking his coffee order).

"I didn't get any sleep this weekend," Blaine explained as he swooshed the already near-empty cup. "I was so worried about my interview, and my audition today." He took a deep breath in. "It'll be okay," he reassured himself.

"You'll be amazing," Kurt corrected. The bell rang shrilly throughout the halls, and Kurt squeezed Blaine's hand. "See you in Chem."

Kurt took off down the halls, fighting through the swarms of students and steeling himself for Mercedes' onslaught of questions about him and Blaine.

----------

By the time Chemistry started, Blaine was practically bouncing in his seat, his foot jumping in time to some unheard beat while he played incessantly with his pencil, making it harder than ever for Kurt to concentrate on the lesson.

Because sitting right next to him was his beautiful, overly-caffeinated boyfriend. Or, he thought they were boyfriends. Kurt's face fell as he thought it over. They had spent the weekend flirting over text, neither of them had actually said the word. Maybe Blaine just wanted something casual. Hell, he went to an all-boys prep school, he probably had so much more experience.

No, Blaine had said that he had never kissed anyone before that night, so Kurt needed to calm down. He hastily scribbled the notes on the board and turned his head to watch Blaine some more (which totally wasn't creepy. Kurt was allowed to look) only to find Blaine already smiling at him.

"What?" Kurt said self-consciously, raising a hand to the corner of lips and checking for crumbs.

Blaine grinned. "There's nothing on your face, Kurt." Around them, students were sliding their desks into groups with loud, discordant screeches. "Be my lab partner?"

"Only if you'll be my boyfriend." The words were out of his mouth before Kurt could stop them. He froze in his seat and watched Blaine break into laughter, drawing attention from their neighbours. The usual warmth of embarrassment crept up his face, but he couldn't help but grin, anyways; Blaine's smile was infectious.

"Alright." Blaine inched his desk next to Kurt's and pulled out the worksheet. "I accept the terms and conditions."

They worked side by side all class, and Kurt was excited to have Blaine as a partner – not just because it meant spending extra time with him, but also because he was exceedingly good at Chemistry. He moved so fast Kurt couldn't keep up, though when he saw Kurt's look of confusion, slowed down, showing each step to Kurt.

"I guess I just really like chemistry," Blaine explained when the bell rang.

Kurt rushed to his next class, eager to fill Rachel and Mercedes in on the new development between him and Blaine.

Blaine and Kurt sat next to each other at lunch, so close their knees would bump with each small movement. Kurt felt childish, grinning at the slightest contact, but he reasoned he was allowed to be giddy when he had a boyfriend like Blaine. Across the table, Tina, Rachel, and Mercedes were watching them with adoring smiles and trading meaningful looks. Blaine was too polite to say anything, but Kurt threw a piece of wilting lettuce at them.

The tinny bell rang out across the lunchroom, and a rush of noise kicked up as everyone slid their chairs back and packed the remains of their lunch. Kurt wouldn't see Blaine again until after his audition, and he wanted to wish him luck, but he was afraid to do anything more than squeeze his hand under the table as students streamed by. Most of Kurt's high school life had been spent under a shroud of invisibility, but with word spreading of his boyfriend (and Kurt had never expected to be a key figure in the school's gossip), people were taking notice, though their looks weren't friendly. No, kisses were out of the question, and hugs best saved for empty hallways, no matter how much he longed for both.

Blaine seemed to understand. He squeezed back and smiled, thanking him quietly, then followed Kurt down the hall until they had to turn down separate corridors. Their fingers grazed lightly in goodbye.

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

Chapter 3



Wait and See (3/5)
smellslikechai
Kurt parked at the sidewalk in front of Blaine's house, a white, one story building prefaced with a well-manicured lawn of dazzling green. Kurt envied the yard, never having one of his own as he grew up in the apartment downtown.

Kurt knocked at the door lightly, not sure what to expect. Blaine's text had been so stoic, not hinting at the outcome of his audition one way or the other. A dog from a neighbouring house barked a few times and a shiny SUV drove past before Blaine opened the door, and Kurt knew right away.

Blaine's smile was forced and weak, his eyes downcast and without their usual sparkle. When he welcomed Kurt into his house, his voice lacked its usual enthusiasm. He led Kurt to his bedroom, almost perfectly square and accented with rich blues and reds, and sat on the edge of the bed. Kurt took a seat next to him.

"He said he liked me," Blaine started curtly. "He said I was a great player, but he already had two pianists, but he'd keep me in mind if he needs someone. So…" he took in a deep, shuddering breath, and Kurt instinctively covered Blaine's hands with his own. "I just really thought I could graduate this year."

"Hey," Kurt started encouragingly, his heart aching to see someone as naturally optimistic and affable as Blaine so downtrodden. "There's still time to find another class."

Blaine shook his head. "I've looked at every option, Kurt. Spent hours with the guidance counsellor. And after Friday I won't be able to add another class, anyways."

He fell backwards onto the mattress, displacing the pillows and rattling the headboard against the wall. "I've dedicated myself so much this year, working my ass off in every class and now… it's all for nothing."

Kurt wished there was something he could say, but he came up with nothing.

"I'm sorry," Blaine said weakly, sitting back up to a slouched position. "I kind of ruined our date."

"No," Kurt assured him, because honestly, just being here with Blaine was awesome enough. "You're allowed to be disappointed. I know how much you're looking forward to graduating this year, and you still can. This year just started."

Blaine smiled graciously.

"If you want I could, well…" he trailed off self-consciously, not having meant to say anything. "It's stupid."

Blaine looked intrigued and prompted Kurt to continue.

"When I was young, sometimes my dad would read to me. It always calmed me down when I was upset."

He thought back to the hours spent in the living room curled next to his dad, weeks and months after his mom's death. Burt never knew what to say, and Kurt didn't expect him to suddenly have all the answers, even at age eight, but one day he picked up a book and started reading out loud. It was never any book in particular, never a book from which to seek solace or find meaning in their grief. Just a book.

Kurt would listen to sound of his father's voice more than the words, and feel the soft rumble as he laid his head on his chest. Burt was solid, a huge wall of a man that seemed completely immoveable in the hurricane that had ripped through their lives. For those few hours together in the living room, Kurt could anchor himself next to him.

"Okay." Blaine crawled backwards to the head of his bed, adjusting the pillows and propping himself up against them. He pointed out the bookshelf. "You can read whatever you want. I trust your taste in books."

The shelf was lined with a fair number of books, most of them old classics in distinct orange and white covers. As he scanned through, his eyes landed on the copy of The Witches Blaine had bought from the store the first time they'd seen each other. He pulled it out and twisted to face Blaine. "Have you read this yet?"

"Oh," Blaine shrugged sheepishly. "I forgot."

Kurt rolled his eyes teasingly and toed off his shoes before climbing on the bed next to Blaine. He tried not to dwell on the fact that he was in Blaine's bed, with his boyfriend right next to him, leaning his weight against Kurt's side. He flipped the book open and read in a clear, concise voice. "A note about witches…"

He read for almost an hour, dramatically gasping and whispering and yelling where appropriate and coming up with exaggerated character voices. Blaine laughed along, a sound that made Kurt's heart leap when he heard it. He loved knowing he was the reason for it, and kept up his ridiculous narration until the quiet bang of the door opening and closing below caught their attention.

"My mom," Blaine explained, nuzzling against Kurt's shoulder, then pushing himself away. Kurt instantly missed his heat. "We should work on your photos."

"Right." It was part of the reason Kurt had come, but he still wished he could keep reading the book. He dog-eared the page and slid it back into the shelf while Blaine turned on the computer. Kurt used the time to look around the room some more, taking in the decor. The first thing he noticed was the cameras, most of them on top of the bookshelf, but others placed on top of short stacks of books or tops of desks. They were old, some probably unusable or obsolete. A few newer cameras, small digital ones, much cheaper than the one Blaine had used for the shoot, sat on the computer desk. There were small robot toys and old vintage car models scattered throughout the room, which Kurt found strangely endearing.

Blaine tugged an extra chair to the desk and patted the seat. They looked through each picture, discussing how well the shot displayed each look. They agreed on almost everything, and as Blaine deleted all but ten photos, one from each look, Kurt felt himself growing even more excited for his future in New York.

"Is it okay if I do a few fixes?" Blaine asked, his mouse hovering over the photoshop icon.

Kurt hesitated, wary of the changes he's seen in fashion ads; overextended necks, laughably small waists, missing legs. Blaine seemed to read his face, assuring him he would only adjust the lighting.

True to his word, Blaine left the light bags under Quinn's eyes and the wrinkles in the fabric untouched, only changing the brightness of the picture with a few clicks and waves of his mouse.

"I think beauty is found in imperfection," Blaine said as he worked on the next photo. "If everything were perfect, we wouldn't appreciate it. A crooked petal on a flower, or a scar on pale skin," Kurt raised his hand inadvertently to the scar etched onto his neck. He'd had it as a child, when the kids would tease and shove him, unaware of their own strength. He hated that they left permanent reminder on him, a signature he would carry with him his whole life.

Blaine gently pulled Kurt's hand away and stroked his thumb over the skin, raising the hair on the back of Kurt's neck. "Beautiful." The word died off in his throat, coming out as nothing more than a hoarse whisper. Kurt leaned in for a light kiss, a small thank you, which Blaine deepened immediately, parting his lips.

Kurt hummed happily but pulled back, laughing at Blaine's dejected face. "Your mom's downstairs."

"She won't be coming up here," he said quickly, resting his hand just above Kurt's knee. "And I think that, as my boyfriend," they both smiled at the word, "it's your duty to kiss me when I'm morose and in need of cheering up."

Kurt, feeling his resolve waiver, shrugged. "Well, if it's my duty…" then leaned back in, all but crawling on Blaine's lap.

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The next few months flew by in a haze. Kurt's senior year was shifting from the dull, drawn-out experience he had predicted on the first day to a more ideal experience. He had his girls by his side as always, and they spoke more frequently about their upcoming move to New York. He now considered Quinn a friend, and they went to the Lima Bean together after book clubs, having interesting discussions on the book of the month. They usually (always) had differing opinions, but argued their points politely over a cup of hot mocha. Her friendship came with protection from the jocks. Even though they mostly kept to themselves, only shooting Kurt a few dirty glances on the rare occasion, it was reassuring to have her on his side.

And then there was Blaine. Unsurprisingly, he had landed the job at the art gallery. Most of his shift was spent behind a desk answering phones, but he had won over the favour of everyone in the building with his permanent smile, eagerness to please, and coffee runs. When a spot had opened in the student's gallery, it was he who had been asked by the staff to take the place. His first exhibition in a gallery, he had told Kurt breathily over the phone. It wasn't prestigious, but it was something. Kurt couldn't have been happier for him.

Which is how he found himself in front of the computer with an unknotted tie around his neck and one sock on his foot, the other in his hand. He was running late for the opening, but he still had to send in his application. Grumbling, he clicked through the pages impatiently, typing with heavy fingers. His application to Parsons had been sent in a week prior, an excruciating affair he could only finish with Rachel on his phone, egging him on.

Kurt finished the last of his application to the Ohio State accounting school, a back-up in case all else failed. He hadn't told his father that he applied to Parsons, always backing out last minute. It wasn't the right time, he told himself. Not yet. His application to Ohio State was only for his father's benefit.

When everything had gone through, Kurt checked the clock and raced to get ready in time. The opening was in an hour, but Blaine had asked him to arrive early. He put his sock on, tied and retied his tie into a perfect windsor knot, double checked his hair, then ran out of the apartment, yelling goodbye to his father over his back.

Only a few cars occupied the parking lot, so Kurt parked next to Blaine's car and walked inside. He knew the place from school trips in middle school, though he had never seen it so empty. Typing a message on his phone to Blaine, he wandered the halls. A thin woman with short grey hair and a fitting pencil dress stopped him. He expected her to escort him out, but she smiled warmly and held out her hand.

"You must be Blaine's beau. What a dear."

Kurt smiled and nodded, assuming this woman was Blaine's boss and wanting to make a good impression. "He's just down the stairs, sweetheart, follow the piano."

She left in a rush, and Kurt resumed wandering. He didn't remember seeing a staircase in his previous trips, but as he walked he heard the piano. Following the sound lead him to the stairs, and he pushed open the first door in the dingy hallway.

Blaine sat at the piano in his suit, his hair gelled in a pomp instead of plastered down the side of his head. His eyes were closed as he played the song, a slow, simple tune with meandering notes and very few harmonies.

Kurt watched, rapt. He had never seen Blaine play, although he had seen an upright piano in his house. He made a note to himself to ask Blaine to play for him in the future.

When the last note faded, Blaine jumped at the sight of Kurt.

"Sorry," Kurt walked around the piano, and Blaine made room on the bench. "You look great."

"I was going to say the same thing." Blaine said with a smile. His foot was tapping against the floor anxiously, his fingers dancing in his lap. Kurt covered them with his own.

"You're going to be amazing tonight," Kurt assured him, looking into Blaine's eyes.

Blaine took a deep breath and clutched at Kurt's hands like a life support. "Thanks for being here tonight, Kurt."

"There's nowhere else I'd rather be." He kissed him lightly and held him until Blaine was called upstairs before the doors opened.

----------

Rachel, Mercedes, and Tina were one of the first to walk in, squealing with delight when they saw the boys and hugging them both tight. They had seen most of Blaine's photography, Kurt had been sure to push his portfolio on them in the early stages of their relationship, but they were still happy to support Blaine on his big night.

A few other students Kurt didn't recognize (he assumed they went to Lima's other high school) stood with their own group of friends, chatting excitedly. The more cultured Lima public walked through the door in bright dresses and high heels that clacked against the wooden floors, or slim suits with slimmer ties, champagne in hand. Kurt watched with Blaine as they passed by his work. Some of them asked questions, some technical, some about the subject of his portraits, which Blaine answered happily.

While Blaine spoke to a friendly woman in a simple dress and ballet flats, Kurt joined his friends across the room. He hadn't looked much at the other exhibits, though Rachel had dragged the girls away to 'scope out the competition.' Kurt found it difficult to concentrate on the art in front of him, constantly turning his head back to observe Blaine, still talking to the same woman. He was grinning widely, bouncing on the balls of his feet a little as she spoke, but their conversation was cut off by the low babble of the guests.

He nudged Tina and pointed to Blaine. "What do you think they're talking about?"

Tine watched them for a moment. "Maybe she's buying one of his pictures," she guessed. "I wouldn't be surprised, he's better than everyone else here." She jerked her head to the display behind her, a series of landscapes of the setting sun on the horizon. One was nice, twelve was a little stale.

He kept looking over his shoulder, finding no distraction in the art in front of him as the group made their way around the room. Blaine and the woman shook hands, and Kurt couldn't help but notice that Blaine had subtly wiped his hand on his pant leg.

As soon as she left, Kurt snaked his way through the thinning crowd, carefully dodging tired looking servers with trays of empty glasses.

"Who was that?" Kurt asked, slipping his hand into Blaine's when he held it out.

----------

The night was dark and cold when they walked outside, still hand in hand. The fresh air hit them both like a wall; it had been too stale in the gallery. Thankfully, their jackets shielded them from the cool breeze that rustled the last remnants of leaves in the trees, and scraped the fallen ones across the cement. They had taken their time leaving the building when the viewing had ended, lingering in the foyer to joke with the girls before they left, and the parking lot was vacant save for their two cars.

Blaine was practically vibrating out of his skin. Kurt had first thought it was from the cold, but he soon realized it was excitement that shook him. He had turned down talking about his conversation with the woman inside, saying he needed some time to let it all sink in, but as they stood in the narrow strip between their cars, Blaine looked ready to spill. He looked so effervescent that Kurt worried if he let go of his hand, Blaine might float into the clouds.

"Her name is Joan." Blaine explained, words rushed and breathy. "She's a teacher at Lima High North. A photography teacher. She wants me to take her class via correspondence!"

Kurt hopped in place, grin breaking over his face. "Blaine that's incredible!"

"I know!" His grip on Kurt's hand was vice-like, threatening to cut off his circulation. "And the best part is that I can get my two credits! If I work with her over the winter break, she'll log my hours when classes start next semester. She still has to talk it over with the schools but she said she was hopeful."

"Wait, does that mean…" Kurt bit his lip and tried not to get his hopes up, but it really sounded like Blaine was saying- "you're going to graduate this year?"

"Yes! It depends if I can get the class but-" The rest of his speech was cut off when Kurt threw his arms around him, nearly tackling him into the car. Kurt didn't give Blaine time to catch his breath before he kissed him, small pecks on his lips and cheeks slowing down and augmenting until their tongues met and their hands clutched wherever they could find.

There was so much Kurt wanted to say. 'You're amazing,' 'I'm so proud,' 'you deserve this,' and he would tell Blaine, in due time. Now, though, he pressed his weight against Blaine and let his lips move with Blaine's, not caring that they were outside. A line of trees hid the parking lot from the main road, and the only light flickered wearily up above. They were invisible, and Blaine obviously planned to take full advantage. He pushed Kurt against the other car and slotted his thigh between his legs. When Kurt's head fell back from the friction over his growing erection, Blaine seized forward, attaching his lips under Kurt's jaw and sucking.

A small whimper tumbled out of Kurt's mouth, and he threaded his fingers through Blaine's hair, pulling him in closer and rocking his hips. They'd done this before, even managed a few jerky hand jobs in the back of parked cars, but the tingle of excitement coursed through Kurt's stomach each time, and the lightheaded giddiness soon followed.

He tugged Blaine back up, catching his lips and kissing him without technique while his hands slid down, over Blaine's ribs and landing at the swell of his ass. He kneaded his fingers into the fabric and pulled Blaine in harder, aching for more. He was pressed so tight between the cold metal frame of his car and his boyfriend's solid body he thought he might be able to wrap his legs around Blaine's waist.

The pressure deep in his stomach built, his insides set alight, and it dawned on him, somewhere in the back of his mind, that we was going to ruin his pants. His hands slipped to Blaine's waist and pushed him back, and he panted into the air that moved between them, not realizing how stifled he had been.

He explained his concern to Blaine, and maybe it was ridiculous but he really didn't want to shamefully hand them in to the dry cleaners with that stain. Just the thought dimmed the fire inside him down to a more manageable level. Instead of looking put out, Blaine's eyes flashed dark, dipping down to where his hands rested on Kurt's hips then back up.

"Can I suck you?"

When the question was out, Blaine moved back in, dragging his mouth over Kurt's neck and making it impossible for Kurt to process anything. Kurt closed his eyes, forcing his brain to cooperate.

"Here?"

"Yes." Blaine nipped lightly at Kurt's adam's apple and his thumbs rubbed smooth circles over his hipbones.

It might not have been Kurt's fantasy first blow job, but when Blaine sank down to his knees Kurt couldn't imagine being more turned on. The way Blaine looked up at him through thick eyelashes, his hand rubbing over the bulge of Kurt's pants; it was all more than Kurt could ever dream of. He let out a shaky breath and nodded at Blaine to continue.

Blaine popped the button open easily and pulled at the zipper, tugging the pants down as little as possible to reveal the outline of Kurt's hard cock straining against his underwear. He leaned forward on his knees and ran his mouth over it, his breath coming out hot through the fabric.

Kurt shuddered and leaned back, feeling boneless already. As much as he wanted to close his eyes, he kept his gaze down, watching Blaine's movement. His tongue rested along his bottom lip as he moved his head, licking a faint trail while he played with the elastic waistband of Kurt's underwear.

After looking up at Kurt once more – and God, Kurt wished Blaine would look at him the entire time – Blaine pulled the material down and took his cock in hand. He started with a cautious lick to the tip, making Kurt hiss into the still night. Blaine's mouth was warm and wet. His reaction must have encouraged Blaine, because he promptly stuck the head inside his mouth, his tongue sliding along the underside.

Kurt's fingers scrambled against the car, searching for something to cling to as Blaine moved his head down towards his fist. Blaine hummed against his hand and pulled his head back, fist following a few inches behind.

Blaine picked up the speed and Kurt fought to keep his hips still. He had been so close already when they started, and when Blaine worked over Kurt's cock, tongue tracing around the ridge and hand jerking where he couldn't reach, he felt it tightening in his stomach, threatening to snap.

He warned Blaine, grunted out 'gonna come,' while lightly nudging Blaine's shoulders, but Blaine kept going, moving faster, taking him deeper.

His orgasm snapped through him like a breaking elastic, and he slapped his hand over his mouth to mute the shout that ripped from his throat. He felt Blaine stroking him through it, coaxing out the last drops of come and swallowing around him.

"You didn't have to," Kurt said groggily as Blaine wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"I know," Blaine replied. He shifted onto his feet and tucked Kurt back in. He rose with a wince and rubbed at his knees, shaking loose a few small pebbles. "Was that good?"

Kurt could have laughed because he certainly didn't get off in about three seconds because it was bad. He pulled Blaine in close, his hand dipping underneath Blaine's pants to tease him. "Yeah. It was pretty good."

Blaine smiled with red, swollen lips and Kurt couldn't wait anymore. He tugged Blaine's pants down around his thighs and used his hand to get him off, carefully dodging the thin ropes of come.

"I can't believe we did that," Kurt said with a laugh, his brain finally catching up on the past ten minutes. He adjusted Blaine's collar unnecessarily. "Anyone could have driven by."

"But they didn't." Blaine beamed at Kurt so brightly his eyes crinkled. "And I got to give my fantastic, supportive boyfriend a blow job OUTSIDE!" He yelled the last word like he was taunting all those that had tried to keep him and Kurt from holding hands in the hallways or kissing at their lockers, and Kurt couldn't help but feel pleased. The words bounced around the parking lot with the faintest of echoes, unheard by anyone else but them. "And now I get to apply to college."

"Where do you want to go?" Kurt asked, tucking himself into Blaine's side. The wind was picking up and clouds were sweeping across the sky, promising the first snowfall.

Blaine shrugged. "I have a few ideas, but I guess we'll have to wait and see."

"Mmm," Kurt agreed. He threaded his fingers between Blaine's and watched the clouds cover the moon. "Wait and see."

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Chapter 4



Wait and See (4/5)
smellslikechai
Snow blanketed the state that winter, with drafts that, when Kurt had tried to walk outside, hit his knees and piled into his boots, soaking his socks. He spent most of the Christmas break at the store, helping with the increase of customers as the holidays drew nearer. He could tell his father was happier, seeing his son behind the desk and in the office more often, but Kurt couldn't bring himself to tell his dad about New York. It could wait until after Christmas.

So he holed himself up in the store, where a friend would drop by to share a few minutes of quality gossip or complain about exams. It was Quinn that came by the most often, shaking snow out of her blonde hair as the bell chimed above her. When Kurt could slip away, he'd wander between the shelves with her, discussing the newest books and planning trips to signings.

When he wasn't working, he was in his room, poring over the sewing machine. He needed all the practice he could get if he wanted to make an impression at Parsons, so he worked on the hard-to-sew fabrics and spent hours perfecting his craft. It wasn't Lacroix-level work, but after each piece he smiled smugly before moving on to the next.

Blaine, too, was busy most days. If he wasn't outside in the city, trudging through the piling snow for snapshots, he was caved inside a darkroom, mixing solutions and developing film. On the rare occasion they could spend any substantial time together, Blaine would explain in rapid-fire, run-on sentences everything he had learned under his new mentor, using terms that flew over Kurt's head.

Their first full day together was just after New Year’s Day. Blaine's parents were out of town for a fancy party in Columbus, and he would have the house to himself for the next day. Kurt was off work, the store being closed for the holidays, so Blaine knocked on the back door late that afternoon, coffee in hand. He bundled himself against the cutting wind and instructed Kurt to do the same, pointing to his camera. Knowing Blaine would wrangle him into posing for a few shots, Kurt took extra time getting ready. His hair would surely loosen from its aerosol trap and his cheeks and nose would redden from the cold, but he still wanted to look nice for a bit.

Kurt drove slowly through the near empty streets, careful of hidden patches of ice. Blaine provided him with seemingly arbitrary directions and kept his face pressed against the window of Kurt's Navigator.

"Do you even know where we're going?" Kurt asked with a grin. Blaine looked like a dog, marvelling at everything they passed. They were nearly out of the city now. Houses gave way to old gas stations, and fields grew closer on the horizon.

"I'll know when we get there." He flapped his hand dismissively. "Turn… left. No! Right!"

Kurt jerked the steering wheel hard and the tires lost traction on the underlying ice. Blaine grabbed the handle over his head as the momentum tried to throw him across the car. Kurt threw the car into neutral on instinct, thankful for all his father's warnings, and turned the wheels into the spin-out. He missed the ditch, but landed in a large drift with a soft thud.

Kurt attempted to reverse out; it shouldn't have been any surprise that the tires spun uselessly against the frozen snow. The engine revved loudly, but they remained in place.

"Kurt, I'm so sorry, I should have-"

"It's okay." There was no damage, everyone was safe. It could have been a lot worse. He pulled the keys from the ignition and sank back against the seat. "Hope you like digging."

With the shovels Kurt had pulled from the winter emergency kit, the pair worked the snow away from the tires. Without buildings to stop the wind, snow lashed across their faces and stuck to their eyelashes. Blaine's repeated apologies carried off, barely heard over the sound of Kurt's laboured breath. He was losing feeling in his fingers and toes and he cursed himself for choosing fashion over warmth.

Kurt speared the shovel into the snow and tried backing out again, to no avail. The dashboard clock told him they'd been out for an hour, and not one car had driven by.

"Can you call anyone?" Blaine asked, crawling into the seat and warming his hands in front of the heater.

The only one Kurt knew of with a vehicle bigger than his own was the tow company, and he wasn't eager to call and pay his way out. After a quarter hour in the warmth of his car, they hopped back out to clear the undercarriage. They crawled on their hands and knees to scoop out the snow packed underneath. Kurt was working up a sweat from the effort, and the wetness of his skin froze only made him colder. His teeth chattered and his entire body convulsed.

He tried to reverse again, and with Blaine pushing from the front, he felt the wheels catch below and jolt him backwards. He managed to smile through his numb cheeks and Blaine whooped loudly, tossing the shovels in the trunk before clambering in.

"Are you okay to drive?" Blaine pulled his hands from his glove and traced his fingers over Kurt's cheek. He frowned with concern. "Your lips look blue and you won't stop shaking. Maybe the hospital-"

"I don't have hypothermia, Blaine." Kurt said quickly. He was freakishly cold, yes, but he was pretty certain he was in no real danger. "But can you drive? My toes sting like a bitch."

Blaine didn't take his eyes off Kurt when he nodded. When Kurt settled into the passenger seat he tugged at his mittens and scarf with stiff fingers, exposing his clammy skin to the warmer air.

Kurt winced as he stepped out of the car, and Blaine wrapped his arm around his waist, alleviating some of the weight on his toes. The second they were in Blaine's house, Kurt fumbled against the laces of his boots, unable to grasp at the strings; the hot air of the house felt searing on his frozen skin. Blaine quickly kicked his own boots off and knelt down, gently helping Kurt. He wanted to be embarrassed but the reverence with which Blaine slid each boot and sock off his foot struck him.

"I'm going to draw you a warm bath," Blaine told him. "There's blankets in the living room. You can get out of those clothes and wrap yourself up, alright?" He turned and walked down the hallway. Before he disappeared into the bathroom, Kurt saw him tug his own shirt over his head.

It took a while for Kurt to peel his clothes off, fighting with his uncooperative fingers. Finally, he managed to fling them across the room and promptly wrapped himself in one of the blankets on the couch. He could feel his body heat trapped in the bubble, and already his shivers lessened.

Blaine was sitting on the lip of the tub in a pair of too-long sweats when Kurt walked in the bathroom, clutching the blanket shut around him. He kept his weight on his heels as he watched Blaine gauge the temperature of the water with his hand.

"It shouldn't be too hot." Blaine said, wiping his fingers on his sweats and rising. "You can… uh… get settled. I'll make hot cocoa."

"Wait," Kurt took a step forward, keeping Blaine in place. "Can you help me in?" Heat rose to his cheeks, though Kurt didn't think they could possibly redden further. With a sudden surge of bravery, he dropped the blanket, letting it fall in a heap around his ankles.  

For all the times they had taken each other into their mouths or rutted together until they came, this was the first time Kurt had been so exposed. Under the harsh light of the bathroom, there was nothing Kurt could hide. The hair on his body was on end and he still shook, but he forgot about that when Blaine dragged his eyes over him.

"Come on," Blaine held out his hand and helped Kurt step into the tub. After checking the water again, he pressed a chaste kiss to Kurt's lips and left him to soak.

Kurt leaned his head against the ledge and sank down as far as he could. The water was warm, almost cool on his body but uncomfortably hot on his fingers and toes, but he was slowly regaining heat.

In the silence of the bathroom, he could hear Blaine in the kitchen, running water to put in the kettle and rummaging through the counters. He smiled as Blaine started singing, his words barely intelligible as he mumbled through the lyrics, but the tune recognizable. Kurt hummed along and swished the water over his body, glad to see the irritated red veins along his skin were disappearing.

The water cooled quickly, or maybe his body was warming faster than usual, so he fiddled with the tap and added more hot water to the tub until steam rose from the tap. With a content sigh, he settled himself back down, letting the water line come up to his chin before closing his eyes. His muscles, sore from almost two hours hunched over a shovel, loosened in the heat.

“Hey, you.”

The sounds of Blaine walking back in bounced around the steaming room. After a clatter of what Kurt assumed were mugs on the countertop, Blaine asked, “How are you feeling?”

Kurt moaned happily, eyes still closed and limbs limp with relaxation. “So good.”

“Good. I’m really sorr-”

Kurt shushed him. “Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault.”

“But I-”

“Shh.”

Blaine refrained from his apology and started shuffling around the room, bare feet slapping lightly on the tiled floor. “Um, if it’s okay, I’m gonna take some pictures. I wanted to get some outside but... well.”

Kurt nodded minutely, each movement felt like displacing lead. He expected Blaine to shuffle out of the room, but instead he heard the click of the shutter ricochet through the steam. He opened a weary eye to see Blaine pointing the camera at him.

"Joan won't see these." Blaine said hastily. "She wants me to take a bunch of pictures every day and I'll show her the best. These are for me."

It wasn't unusual for Blaine to follow him around with the lens, and he'd become accustomed to Blaine throwing himself on the ground to get a good shot, but now he couldn't help but contemplate how incredibly naked he was. Even though most of his body was hidden behind the tub, it still felt rather salacious to him.     

"Just relax," Blaine whispered, his words slow and steady and not at all like Kurt's heart. He closed his eye again and let himself drift back into tranquility while Blaine clicked away, not at his usual rapid-fire pace, but with long pauses between each shot. "Joan wants me to apply to a school in Los Angeles."

"California?" Kurt replied idiotically. He'd spent so much time fantasizing about living in New York with Blaine that he hadn't really considered the reality of Blaine moving across the country, or being anywhere other than in his arms. The room suddenly felt degrees colder.

Blaine sat on the edge of the tub and slowly lifted his camera off his neck and onto the counter. "She's an Alma Mater, and she has a lot of connections in the program. It's a good school."

"Right." His mouth was going numb.

"But it's not the only good school. And it's so far away I don't know if I should go for it…" he trailed off, looking at Kurt as though expecting an answer.

Even though Kurt had many strong feelings about Blaine moving across the country, for once he'd have to keep his mouth shut. What was best for him wasn't going to best for Blaine, and he couldn't ask him to compromise his dreams. They'd only been dating four months, hadn't even known each other much longer than that, and even though Kurt loved him (God, he loved him so much) he wasn't going to stand in Blaine's way.

But Blaine was still looking at him with those big brown eyes, showing more uncertainty than he probably meant to, so Kurt grabbed his hand hearteningly. "You don't have to make any decisions yet. Just apply wherever, give yourself options, and when the time comes maybe you'll have a little more insight."

The words came out more secure than Kurt felt, thank god, so when Blaine smiled thankfully, a genuine grin of relief, Kurt leaned forward and dislodged the plug. "Eurgh, I'm starting to prune." He inspected the barely wrinkled pads of his fingers with distaste and waited for Blaine to hold out the towel. Beads of water rolled down his legs as he stepped into the humid air and Blaine, ever the gentleman, turned his head respectfully as Kurt took the towel and wrapped it around his waist.  

He wished Blaine would look again.

He led Blaine by the hand, pulling him out into the cold air of the hallway and sat him down at the living room couch.

"The hot chocolate…" Blaine's voice faltered when Kurt climbed on top of him, his knees straddling Blaine's waist and towel falling open.

"Is this okay?"

Blaine answered with a kiss, cradling Kurt's head in his hands and working over his lips. It was heated and desperate, and Kurt clung tightly to Blaine, conveying everything he couldn't say. Stay with me. Don't go.

Blaine’s hands slid down Kurt’s body, running underneath the towel and pushing it off to grab at his ass. His skin was warm, from his bare chest to the pads of his fingers, and Kurt arched back into his touch.

This egged Blaine on. Kurt could feel his boyfriend hardening in his sweats, his fingers trailing lightly down Kurt’s cleft. Kurt’s stomach swooped and anticipation coursed through his body. He was ready, so ready, to take the next step with Blaine. To be close and share himself in every way and let Blaine know exactly how deep his love ran.

But Blaine hesitated, fingers stalling just shy of Kurt’s hole. Kurt pulled his head back and rested his forehead against Blaine’s. “We don’t have to.”

“I want to.” He kissed Kurt again, so insistent and sure it would have made him blush. But he was distracted by Blaine’s finger as it circled around his hole, dragging over the sensitive skin and igniting something within him. He wanted more, needed Blaine inside him and around him and everywhere.

“I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

“And no matter what school you choose,” Kurt pecked Blaine’s nose, drawing a playful giggle. “I’m always going to be so proud to be your boyfriend.”

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Blaine dropped a small pile of envelopes between the two of them then spread them out over the comforter of his bed. There were five in total, each one ripped open at the top and torn as though the contents had been removed and shoved back in numerous times.

Kurt eyed the address on them; colleges from Los Angeles, Chicago, Cincinnati, Rochester, and New York City.

"I got into all of them." Blaine said quietly, his finger playing with the edge of one envelope. "And I've even got a scholarship into Los Angeles, if I want it."

He should have been thrilled, ecstatic, but Kurt’s grin came out strained. Of course he was happy for his boyfriend, thrilled that all his options worked out, but, well, some of his options were really far away. Even though it had been months since Blaine had brought up the possibility of moving to California, Kurt still felt the twinge in his stomach when he thought about it.

“But I don’t want it.” Blaine pushed the most worn envelope to Kurt, keeping his eye on a small spot on the comforter. The School of Visual Arts, along with the New York City address was printed on the front in fading ink. “This school is really great, Kurt, and it has the program that I want and...” he stalled for a second before clearing his throat and continuing. “I know we haven’t talked about it, but I hate the idea of leaving you, Kurt,” he looked up at Kurt, his eyes wide and shining under the harsh light of his room. “New York is something I want us to experience together.”

“We still don’t know if I’m even getting in to Parsons,” Kurt said glumly. As much as he wanted to fantasize about living in New York with Blaine and Rachel and Mercedes and spending days in Central Park and shopping on 5th avenue, the fact was he still didn’t have his letter.

He’d been accepted into Ohio State two weeks earlier, though he hid the letter from his dad- stuffed it in the bottom of his sock drawer while he waited for Parsons to get back to him and let him know, one way or another.

“Hey, of course you’re getting in.” Blaine grabbed Kurt’s hands and stroked his thumbs over the knuckles. The muscles Kurt didn’t know he’d been tensing eased under Blaine’s touch. “You have the best eye for style of anyone I’ve met, and the clothes you’ve been showing me could have come straight out of the pages of Vogue.” Kurt preened at the compliment, ducking his head down bashfully as Blaine inched closer. “Not to mention your encyclopaedic knowledge of who’s who in the fashion industry.

“So you will get in Kurt, it’s not a matter of if but when, and you will live in your tiny yet fabulous apartment with Rachel and Mercedes and I will suffer in my cramped dorm.”

“But you’ll come over every weekend and whenever you don’t have homework and lure me away from Rachel before I kill her with the promise of exploring and eating at trendy coffee shops.”

Blaine fell back onto the bed, holding his arm out for Kurt to crawl against.

Kurt squeezed Blaine’s hand in thanks. “How are you such a good boyfriend?”

“I learn from the best.” Blaine replied. “In fact, one particularly dashing boyfriend would read to me when I was feeling down, and it always managed to pick me back up again.”

“Mmm well he sounds like a smart guy.”

“He really is.” Blaine reached across the bed, grabbing a book resting on the nightstand, and propped himself up on the pillows.

Kurt nuzzled next to Blaine, resting his head on his chest, and listening to the timbre of Blaine’s voice as he started to read.

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"Hey, kid," Burt greeted when Kurt stepped in the store. He was shuffling through a stack of papers, his eyes not glancing up from his work.

"Hi, dad!" Kurt paused at the stairway. "I'm grabbing some carrots, do you want me to bring you any?"

"No thanks, bud. I'll be right up after you."

Kurt frowned in confusion. His dad never left the shop unsupervised, even when it was empty. Glancing around, he noticed the sign in the window had been flipped to 'closed.'

"Is everything okay?" He felt himself go cold. The last time this had happened, he was eight and Burt had told him about his mom's accident.

"No one's hurt," Burt answered cryptically. When he realized he wasn't going to get further explanation, Kurt climbed the stairs into the apartment. His feet felt like lead and his mind raced, wondering what to expect.

When he walked into the kitchen, he saw it on the kitchen table. His letter from Parsons, unopened and innocuous, but betraying so much. He thought he had time to tell his father, but the more he thought on it the more he realized he probably would never have found the courage.

Resigning himself to whatever would come next, Kurt sank onto the chair and waited, not daring to touch to the envelope. His father climbed up the steps soon after, and took a seat across from Kurt. He seemed to expect Kurt to start, but when his lips remained shut, he let out a long breath.

"When were you going to tell me?"

"I did. In the fall." Even though Burt didn't sound angry, Kurt couldn't help but take the defensive. "I said I didn't want to run the store, and that I was going to apply to Parsons. You didn't say anything."

That was months ago, and Kurt wondered if his father had taken him seriously.

"I wasn't thrilled with the idea back then and I'm still not." Kurt tried to interrupt but Burt continued. "Fashion is volatile, who knows if you'll get a decent job that can pay all your bills. The bookstore, Kurt, that's a secure career for you. This place has been in the family for generations, and even if something were to happen, a good business or accounting degree is an open door. I thought you liked working at the shop."

"I did!" Kurt said quickly. "I do. But it's not what I want for my life. I can't stay in Lima, dad, or Ohio. It's not the place for me and you know that."

"You're so much like your mom." The sudden change in tone threw Kurt, but he sat up straighter. "Her parents didn't like the idea of her marrying into the business. Didn't think she had it in her to be a businesswoman, but she showed them. She convinced my dad to let her overhaul the entire building, painted walls, fixed the front. Hell, she probably would have torn down the place and rebuilt it by herself. But then you came along." Burt smiled at the memories while Kurt listened anxiously.

"If you don't want to run the place, I can't make you do it, Kurt. That's my dream, not yours, and I have to give it up. But whatever you do, you gotta love it. If fashion is for you, I want you to make the best damn clothes you can, ya hear me?"

"Yeah, dad." Kurt felt the smile blooming across his face. "I promise."

"Good." Burt leaned forward and nudged the envelope towards Kurt. "See what it says."

With trembling fingers – both from his ecstasy of his dad's acceptance and the nerves of his impending fate – Kurt opened the flap and pulled out the papers. Plural. His voice went up in pitch as he read. "Dear Mr. Hummel, we are pleased to offer you a position in our program-" he dropped the paper and bolted out of his seat, throwing his arms around his dad.

"You're absolutely sure this is what you want?" His father looked to be holding out hope that Kurt would change his mind, but there was no chance.

Burt clapped his hand on Kurt's back. "I'm sorry, too.” He lifted himself off the chair and moved to the living room, humming lightly as he walked. Kurt was rooted, tapping the table and biting his lip. He was ecstatic, of course, and as much as he wanted to call Blaine, there was more he had to talk about. He hadn’t expected his dad to let him off the hook this easily, and he wondered if there was something his dad wasn’t telling him.

"Are you going to be okay? Running the store by yourself, I mean." He spun in his seat, watching his father root through the fridge. "I'll stay, if you really want me to."

"I know you will, kid. But the only thing worse'n you heading off to New York is you staying when you don't want to be here. The hell are these?" He held out a clear bag of lychees but Kurt waved the question off.

"You won't be able to run the store forever. Are you gonna hire somebody, finally?"

"Well," Burt took off his cap and rubbed his hand over his head, a recognizable sign of stress. "I had some hot-shot businessman in here a few months ago, left a card. Said he'd be interesting in buying the place."

Kurt nearly knocked his chair over when he bolted upright, and his acceptance papers fell sharply against the table. "Dad, you can't sell the store!"

"This place isn't profitable like it was, way back when. We get by okay but it's a narrow margin." He cracked the lid of his Coke and walked by Kurt without a glance, sinking into the upholstered couch with a groan. Kurt followed him. "I'd keep my job, for the most part, and the apartment, and he'd get some technology in here, maybe hire some kids. It's not a bad deal, and I'd finally get that vacation you've been banging on about."

The words softened Kurt. If it took a bit of stress off his father, he couldn't think of an argument against it. The store was his home, as familiar, if not more than his bedroom. Half his childhood memories revolved around sitting on the counter, flipping through books he didn't understand, or playing in the children's section with whichever kid had been dragged in by their parent.

His first friends, his first kiss, they all had strong roots to the store. He wondered if this businessman would try to change the layout of the store, erase the changes his mother had made; his father wouldn't allow it, anyways.

He was startled out of his thoughts when his father spoke again. "Before I make a decision, I wanna have your blessing. You're as much a part of this business as I am. There's a lot that's gotta be worked out, but I think it's for the best."

Kurt nodded. "I do, too." He let himself collapse next to his father on the couch, exhausted from the whirlwind of emotions.

His father must have felt the same. "What do you say I order a pizza and we can catch the Deadliest Catch marathon?"

Kurt hummed happily, practically salivating at the thought of a celebratory slice of extra cheesy pizza. "I'd like that."

~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~~=0=~

Epilogue



Wait and See (5/5)
smellslikechai
Kurt had only been in New York for six days but he learned to adapt to big city life quickly. With Rachel, it was impossible to blend in; she spent most of their time out and about pointing and gasping, phone held out in front of her face as she snapped blurry pictures of every landmark she could find while he and Mercedes gave her a wide berth. But Kurt was made for this city. He walked quickly, kept his head down, and memorized each transit route before going out. It was only when he turned down a quiet street that he would slow down to marvel his new surroundings.  

New York was everything he’d imagined and so much more. Loud and brash, bright with a constant kinetic motion that vibrated through the sidewalks and the overflowing garbage cans. His neighbours were either obnoxiously rowdy or inhumanly quiet, though they tended to keep to themselves. The only incident was after their first night together, when they stumbled through the halls at three in the morning, drunk on excitement and possibility and tequila, singing show tunes in near perfect harmony.

Graffitied buildings zoomed by as Kurt sat on the subway with earphones attached to his head, eyes locked on the window. He’d been enjoying his days in New York with the girls, of course he had, but six days without Blaine, communicating only by rushed texts and stolen wi-fi signals, had been harder than he’d care to admit. But now he was on his way to pick him up from the airport, egging the train on faster and barrelling out of the station to catch the bus on time.

The airport was large, crowded with others waiting to pick up friends or loved ones, all milling around the baggage claim area. Blaine had sent him a text on the tarmac, letting him know the plane had landed and was taxiing to the gate. Kurt stood by anxiously, staring at the hallway and waiting, feet tapping syncopated rhythms against the floor.

Finally, a small stream of people trickled into the baggage claim in groups of twos and threes. Kurt stood on his toes, peeking over the heads of those in front, eyeing each person who walked through until...

“Blaine!”

It didn’t matter that they were in a room with a hundred other people. When Blaine ran, Kurt opened his arms wide and caught him in an embrace, holding him like they’d been parted six months, not six days.  

“Welcome to New York,” Kurt said into Blaine’s unruly hair, losing himself in the tight squeeze and all-encompassing scent of Blaine. Behind them, the horn of the starting carousel went off and they extracted themselves just long enough to heave Blaine’s two suitcases off the conveyor. His family would drive up a few weeks later with all the big items, but until the official move-in date, Blaine would be living with Kurt and the girls.

Dragging Blaine’s suitcase in one hand and clutching at his boyfriend in the other, Kurt lead Blaine out the way he had come, watching in awe as Blaine’s face lit up when the strolled out the automatic doors into the New York air. His eyes darted over the yellow taxis and the city busses before landing back on Kurt.

“I can’t believe we’re here.”

“This is our city,” Kurt told him, stepping in closer to slot himself among Blaine’s side. “Our memories to create. It’s gonna be amazing, just wait and see.”





end.



Plaine: Wrestling
smellslikechai
“You totally just cheated!” Blaine yells indignantly, pointing at the screen and staring accusingly at Puck.

Finn rolls his eyes and pauses the game. “Blaine, just cause you suck doesn’t mean everyone else is cheating.”

Next to Finn, Sam huffs loudly, hands still attached to the control and eyes on the screen. “Can we hurry this up, dudes? I’ve kind of got a kill streak to keep up with here.”

“Yeah, Blaine,” Puck taunts. He reaches across Finn’s seat and shoves Blaine’s shoulder. “Your baseless accusations are seriously ruining my character. It’s all slander and lies!” He yells the last part loudly, throwing his arms up in the air triumphantly. Blaine takes the opportunity to dig his knuckle into Puck’s ribs.

“Guys, hey!” Finn’s pressed back into his chair while Blaine and Puck slap each other, crowding him to land their blows. “Can we move this somewhere else?”

Puck scoffs. “Sorry if our blatant display of testosterone is too much for your lady-like sensibilities. Me and Blaine have to settle this like men.” He walks around the chairs into the open living room and holds his arms out. “Let’s do this, Frodo.”

Blaine sets his controller down and hops over the arm rest. “It’s on.”

Puck is stronger, but Blaine is agile. He runs forward, tackling Puck to the ground but struggling to keep him pinned. “Admit you cheated!” Blaine orders, fingers gripping at Puck’s wrist and using all his strength to keep them on the floor, stretched over Puck’s head.

“Never!” Puck wiggles out of Blaine’s grasp and flips him over. He lodges one knee high between Blaine’s legs and holds his forearms. No matter how hard Blaine twists, he can’t free himself. “Apologize for your lies.”

Blaine purses his lips and shakes his head.

“I can make you talk.” Puck slides his knee up dangerously close to Blaine’s groin and smiles evilly.

Blaine’s stomach flutters unexpectedly. And that- that can’t happen. Not now. He closes his eyes and takes in a deep breath, trying not to focus on the way Puck hovers over him, blunt nails digging into his skin. He doesn’t imagine how much he’d like this in another context, being pinned down and controlled. Don’t go there, he warns himself, but he can already feel himself hardening.

Puck, mistaking Blaine’s silence for impertinence, takes the offensive. He grabs both of Blaine’s wrists in his one large hand while the other floats above Blaine’s crotch. “Are you going to apologize?”

Blaine sputters something unintelligible, and as adrenaline kicks in, manages to roll them back over. Puck’s head hits the floor and he swears loudly. Blaine hopes that Sam or Finn will break up the scrap, but a quick turn tells him they’ve resumed the game and likely aren’t aware of anything else.

“Dude.”

Blaine snaps his head forward. Puck is looking down at where Blaine’s straddling his legs andoh God, he’s hard now. Fully, undeniably hard and his erection is pressing into Puck’s hip. He tries to scramble off but Puck still has Blaine’s hands and he keeps him in place.

“Settle down, bro.”

That’s really the last thing Blaine wants to do right now but Puck’s not letting him go so he forces himself to relax, his face beet red from exertion and embarrassment.

And then Puck does that last thing Blaine expected him to do and rocks his hips up. Blaine can feel him him, equally hard and rubbing on his thigh.

It takes a moment for everything to click in, and he can see Puck scowling at him, willing him to catch up. But then it hits him. Puck is hard because of him, and he’s completely dumbstruck by the thought. He’s not really sure how to proceed from here, but then he remembers what they had been doing before was pretty nice, so he grinds back down on Puck, watching in awe as his eyes screw shut and his head hits the floor.

“Are you guys ok back there?” Finn turns in his seat, takes in the sight of Blaine pressed down against Puck, and spins back to the screen.

Blaine has no idea if Finn actually processed what he saw and he doesn’t really care because Puck is still under him, panting and stringing against his jeans. Blaine wants, God does he want right now, but it’s not the time and Sam and Finn are just a few feet away. So he takes a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself down, and pushes himself up.

He slides back into his seat between Finn and Sam, picking up the controller and resuming the game where he left off, watching Puck join from his peripheral. They can’t really talk, not openly, but they can still communicate.

“I hope you don’t think this is over, Blaine.” Puck growls, his tone menacing enough to fool the others.

Blaine can barely conceal his smirk. “Oh, I plan on finishing what I started.”

Kurt's Birthday Drabble
smellslikechai
Hands all around him, dragging over his skin, pinching and teasing. Blaine’s hands: calloused but soft from the lotion. A mouth, working on his neck then down, down, over his nipple, licking at the nub then over the other one. Down again past his sternum and ribs and belly and- yes. Blaine’s lips, stretching around his length, pink and shining. Sliding, taking more of him in. So close. Blaine’s finger, sliding behind his balls, massaging the perineum in light strokes, pushing inside him.

Kurt wakes up on his side with a quiet moan, the sun is shining in his window, beaming down on him and making him sweat under the sheets. He can feel himself, hard as a rock, practically convulsing with want. He’s not quite ready to move yet, though, so lays under the comforting weight of the blankets, reminding himself to shower right away. Or he could just not. It’s his birthday today, he can do whatever the hell he wants. He could get himself off right now, laundry be damned.

Of course he’s going to shower. He’s made it to his 18th year and he’s not about to regress to a neanderthal-like state. He’s an adult now. With responsibilities. He groans and turns his face into the pillow. No worldly wisdom has been given to him, no new knowledge that will make him somehow ready to be a valued member of society, but now the government deems him responsible enough to pick a president or ship off to Afghanistan. And he doesn’t even care about those those things right now anyways because this boner is going to kill him.

He shrugs the thought away and rubs the sleep from his eyes. Now’s as good a time as any to start his life of adulthood.

As he sits up he’s assaulted by screams. He screams and clutches his chest before registering his parents and Blaine are standing in his room, yelling ‘Happy Birthday.’

“You guys are awful.” Kurt groans, praying that no one has managed to catch on to his… predicament. He props the pillows up against the wall and leans back, knees at his chest, effectively hiding what needs to be hid. Burt and Blaine are side by side, beaming at Kurt like he’s some vision by God, and Carole bustles forward with a tray of pancakes and cereal and orange juice. Truly terrible people.

“Happy Birthday, honey.” Carole says again. “I couldn’t drag Finn out of bed this early.”

“That’s fine, Carole.” She has no idea how fine that is. “Thank you so much for this.”

She presses a kiss to his head and backs away, pulling Burt out with her.

“Happy birthday, kido.” Burt says again before being dragged away.

“Surprised?” Blaine asks, still beaming like a lunatic.

Kurt sighs loudly but smiles back, shifting in his bed to make room for Blaine.

“Surprised is definitely one word I would use.”

Blaine crawls in next to him, wrapping an arm around his waist. Kurt’s boner might have been killed by the sight of his parents, but Blaine’s doing a great job resuscitating it as he nuzzles into Kurt’s hair.

They don’t have time, his parents are downstairs, Finn’s across the hall, and there’s a million other reasons he should not be doing this but fuck it, it’s his birthday.

“I had a dream about you,” he whispers into Blaine’s ear. He grabs his wrist and brings it under the covers, resting it on his cock. The anticipation has him fully hard.

Blaine’s fingers curl around him from the outside of his pyjama pants, and really, that’s all Kurt needs, though he’s hoping for a bit more.

“Tell me.”

He leans on to his side to give Blaine better access. “You were touching me everywhere, then you went down on me. And -ah!” Blaine slides his hand under Kurt’s waistband and fists Kurt’s cock lightly. “You had a finger inside me. But I woke up before getting to the good part.”

“And tonight?”

Kurt struggles to think of anything past his impending orgasm. Really, Blaine should know better than to ask him questions.

But he’s insistent. “Before your party. We have two hours to ourselves after your parents leave and the party starts. What are we going to do?”

“Nngh,” Kurt starts gracefully. “Gonna bend you over the table.” Blaine’s grip tightens. Kurt takes that as a sign to continue. “Spread you out and fuck you right there…” He feels his balls tighten and his stomach drop and he can’t force another word out before he’s coming, shooting warm and sticky ropes over the two of them.

“Mmm, best present ever,” Kurt mumbles, sinking back into the pillows. Blaine laughs and curls up behind him, holding him tight. Kurt can feel Blaine’s erection pressed against the small of his back, and he’ll definitely take care of that right after a nap. And really, if this is the kind of wake up call he can expect as an adult, he’ll be taking a lot more of them.

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