Fall blows in with Blaine on its heels.
Kurt hasn't seen much of him while Blaine's been stuck in Ohio for the summer, because Blaine's parents got a last-minute case of empty nest syndrome and forced him to spend some "quality time" with them at home before he left for college. (Kurt likes the story about Mr. Anderson inviting himself along to a trip to San Diego Comic-Con with Sam, which, with Cooper added into the mix, turned into what sounds like the most embarrassing family vacation in the history of embarrassing vacations.) The two of them have survived on text messages and Skype and phone calls that went on too late, grabbing every bit of spare time together.
It got to the point where Santana started yelling through the curtains that if she had to hear them giggle with each other one more time, she was going to set all Kurt's clothes on fire. Needless to say, they made sure to keep it quiet after that, even when Kurt was sure Santana wasn't in the apartment.
But plans have been made, rooming agreements have been reached, and two weeks before orientation weekend starts, three boxes of Blaine's clothes and toiletries show up on their doorstep. Kurt shoves them into back corner of his room, waiting to be opened and unpacked.
Kurt is nothing if not a planner, and he has the rest of their season laid out, from the moment Blaine gets here until the day they head back to Ohio for Thanksgiving. Now that they will be living together as fiancés, not just boyfriends, Kurt intends to take full advantage of their new and sudden proximity. There's so much of New York, so much of being an adult, that they can experience together, and Kurt wants all of it, wants the late nights talking about anything and everything, early mornings curled up underneath Kurt's warm comforter, wants to argue about where they're getting takeout from and complain about the professors who don't appreciate their talents.
The temperature dips on the day that Blaine moves into their loft in Bushwick. The air is crisp and dry and cold. Kurt waits for this all year, for colored leaves to line the sidewalks, for freshly baked apple crisp coming out of the oven, for Halloween costume planning (he and Blaine are still struggling to agree on something for this year, which is not quite enough to get Kurt to call the engagement off, but it's getting close).
Kurt waits close to the window in his corner of the loft for the taxi to pull up in front of their building, and he pulls on a warmer shirt, long sleeves, to protect himself from the drafts. Blaine's been sending updates on his status since he left the airport, and Kurt has been pacing, restless with the knowledge that Blaine will be here, and not just for a few days, but here to stay.
His phone pings. A new message.
here, Blaine's text says, just as Kurt sees the yellow taxi pull up. Blaine tumbles out of the car, all glowing smiles and shining hair gel in the golden morning light.
Kurt doesn't even wait. He rushes down the stairs, taking them two at a time until he's on the front stoop. Blaine drags his suitcase behind him and re-adjusts the positioning of the straps of his backpack. He's tucked into a heavy wool coat that he must be sweating in. A yellow bowtie peeks out of the collar. His grin spreads across his face, and it's so much more beautiful here than in a grainy image on a computer screen. Kurt launches himself forward, and Blaine catches him, laughing. They twirl for a moment before Blaine has to put him down. Kurt holds Blaine's face in his hands as he kisses him. Blaine's lips taste like chapstick.
"Hi," Blaine says after he pulls back, sounding a little breathless.
Kurt knows he should let go and head back up the stairs since they're taking up half the sidewalk, but he can't stop memorizing the texture of Blaine's coat underneath his fingers, heavy and warm and still smelling faintly of Blaine's aftershave, the wry, fond twist of Blaine's mouth, the cool, clean taste of the air. Kurt wants to kiss him again. A group of little old ladies who live down the street give them dirty looks as they're forced to squeeze past them on the remaining sliver of sidewalk. For a moment, Kurt worries about getting poisoned at their next bake sale, but maybe he can get Santana to try anything that could be dangerous first.
"I missed you," Kurt says.
Blaine laughs. His eyes sparkle, and he reaches down to link his fingers with Kurt's. His hands are warm and familiar and solid, a real thing to hold onto. "Me too," Blaine says.
Kurt grabs the handle of his suitcase so that Blaine only has to deal with one piece of luggage at a time, letting himself drift close so that their shoulders are bumping together. They head inside.
It doesn't-- well, Kurt didn't expect it to be perfect with Blaine living with them. After all, Kurt spent an entire two weeks after he moved to New York imagining all the creative ways he could dump Rachel's dirty dishes onto her bed so that maybe she would wash them every once in a while. He nearly stabbed Santana with a pair of nail clippers because she was banging around the living room in the middle of the night without a care for her sleeping roommates. There was a whole month after Finn and Carole moved in with them when he nearly had to resort to blackmail in order to get Finn to stop playing Call of Duty with Puck on his XBox for five minutes so that Kurt could watch Toddlers and Tiaras.
Point is, Kurt more than understands that being friends with or even dating someone and being able to tolerate them within your living space are two separate things. He has plenty of experience with this sort of thing.
And yet, it's hard not to feel a little disappointed.
Blaine snores at night.
This isn't surprise to Kurt, not really. They had slept together (just sleeping) a few times, managing to sneak in a few nights together while they were at Nationals (though Kurt did have to trade dish duty and the number of Suzy Britton in his history class to Finn and Puck respectively) and during the trips Blaine made to New York. But those were isolated incidents, when the thrill of being pressed together at night, curled up in each other's arms, was enough to make the petty annoyances worth it.
Now that they've decided to live together, the novelty of sharing a bed, of being able to roll over and press his hand against the slope of Blaine's shoulder, of being able to bury his nose in the scent of Blaine's hair, has worn off. All he's left with is the honking noises that come out of Blaine's mouth and nose when he dozes off, just arrhythmic enough to be disruptive instead of steadying. Sometimes, it's better when Blaine is so tired that he falls asleep on his front, the noises muffled by the pillow underneath his mouth, but then Kurt worries about Blaine suffocating in his sleep. It's not every night. Sometimes when Blaine crashes into bed late at night, his breathing is soft and even and regular. Sometimes Kurt is just so tired that it doesn't bother him, able to nod off at the drop of a hat. But it's often enough that it feels like a constant irritation, burrowing deep underneath his skin.
Kurt has thought about buying ear plugs, but that feels like a drastic measure, and he's pretty sure Blaine wouldn't buy the excuse if he said that the garbage trucks were just really loud in the mornings.
He tries another tactic once during breakfast after another night of getting too little sleep. "So Carole was talking to me about how they have these new-fangled mouthpieces for reducing snoring. She said she was thinking about getting one for my dad," Kurt says, settling down at the kitchen table with his toast.
Blaine frowns, eyebrows drawing together. "Huh," he says. "That sounds useful, I guess." He goes back to eating his Wheaties and reading his textbook. He has an exam today, Kurt remembers.
And well, that's the end of that conversation.
In early October, Rachel insists they go apple picking.
Kurt isn't a particularly huge fan of this idea. The outdoors has never been his thing (and as far as he knows, it's never been Rachel's thing, either), but Rachel manages to convince Blaine that it'll be fun, and that's how they end up renting a car on a bright, clear day, and driving north of the city. Kurt leans his head against the window and watches the density of the urban sprawl give way to a thick forests and rolling hills. The leaves are just beginning to change color, the slightest hint of oranges and yellows amongst the green. Blaine gets into an argument with Santana about The Hunger Games that Kurt doesn't understand, but he likes the rise and fall of Blaine's voice. It gets deeper and louder as he gets more and more indignant, higher and thinner when he's being conciliatory. They spent enough time apart that Kurt had time to miss the odd little things. He likes having them back.
The apple orchard they end up at is swarming with families with small, eager children. There are tractor rides and a pumpkin patch and a farmstand, where they buy coffee and cider donuts before they start their day. The donuts are crumbling and sweet, covered in sugar that lingers on Kurt's lips.
The ground is still a little wet with dew, and the air smells like mulch in a way that makes Kurt's nose twitch. Kurt adjusts his boots and fixes his cap so it will block the sun from his eyes. Santana and Rachel fight about where they should start first, with the Macintoshes or the Cortlands, and their hand motions get increasingly wild. Santana almost takes out the eye of a nice-looking middle aged lady with one of her fingers, and Rachel nearly elbows a seven-year old kid in the face.
Many apologies are made, but in order to avoid An Incident, Kurt grabs Blaine's hand and their own empty sack and leads them towards the far side of the farm, where it's quieter because there are easier pickings closer to the entrance.
The ground is soft from too many feet, and the air is filled with the sounds of laughing, squealing children. He does his best not to think about how much recycled cow manure he must be walking on right now. They reach a path between two rows of Royal Gala trees, shaded beneath the branches. The ground is lined with fallen apples. Blaine's hand is warm in his own, squeezed tight. It's easy to feel tucked away, hidden from the world. The trees are covered in dense clusters of apples. These branches are not quite as picked clean as some of the ones they'd walked past earlier. Fewer people have come through.
Kurt reaches out, tugs on one of the apples until it comes free in his hand. It's perfect, round and firm in his hand, a soft red that lacks the shine of wax. When he takes a bite, it tastes crisp and sweet, and he makes a warm, pleased sound in the back of his throat. "It's really good," he says.
Blaine gives him a curious look, before reaching out and grabbing one of his own. Kurt watches as a delighted expression crosses Blaine's face. It's a little like the sun coming out, the way it spreads from the upwards curl of his lips to the raising of his eyebrows. "You're right," Blaine says. "It is really good." Okay, so maybe they're spending time outside in the sun, and they're basically on a farm (a farm), and he's getting cow manure all over his boots, but he thinks it's worth it if it can make Blaine this happy. Granted, Blaine gets happy when dogs walk by or when one of his ten thousand favorite songs starts playing on the radio, but there's something deeper about this sort of happiness, something gentler.
After they've filled their sack almost to overflowing, they find Rachel and Santana where they're wandering among the Cortlands. They seem to have resolved their differences, though that might be because they're too busy eating their own apples to snipe at each other.
They get back to Brooklyn after the sun has set, and Kurt is too sick of apples to pick through their haul before they go to bed. But Blaine's lips taste sweet and a bit sour, and Kurt tucks his nose into Blaine's neck, where he still smells a little bit like dirt and farm and sun, before he falls asleep.
Blaine likes to walk all over the hardwood floors of their loft in his dirty shoes.
To some degree, it's understandable. They all wear their shoes in the loft. It's a lot safer just in case there's a loose nail sticking up where you least expect it--they’d found three when they first moved in. But Blaine hasn't quite picked up on proper shoe cleanliness since moving to the city. In Ohio, it's easier to keep your shoes away from the worst the elements. In New York, you have to walk over miles and miles of concrete to get anywhere. And in New York, you're lucky if you can avoid stepping in dog piss or that place where that drunk guy vomited last week or into the half-decayed remains of something that someone decided to throw on the ground even though the garbage can is just a few steps away.
The weather is rainy that autumn, and the sidewalks end up gritty in a way that collects on the soles of their shoes. Blaine doesn't seem to notice, though, when he bursts into the loft after choir practice and can't stop for a moment to remove his loafers before he starts up a conversation with Santana about what he wants to make for dinner. He hasn't jumped on any tables, yet. Or any the sofas, thankfully. But Kurt's certain that it's just a matter of time before he needs to start worrying about how to get bootprints off the upholstery.
"Blaine," Kurt says, after the third week of this nonsense. Blaine's digging through the refrigerator for the apple he likes to have after he gets home. And okay, Kurt is staring at his ass while Blaine's bent over in this particular pair of extremely tight shorts, but he's also still wearing a pair of sneakers that he wears to his Zumba classes. Kurt can't quite smell the subway on them from where he's standing by the stove, but he's knows if he held them up to his face, he could.
"Hmm?" Blaine asks. His eyes are bright and wide, and he's smiling even as he's taking a bite out of his apple. Blaine's always been like that, where a little bit of exercise always gets him worked up instead of tired out like a normal person.
"Shoes," Kurt says.
"Oh, yeah," Blaine says. "Sorry." He takes them off and tosses them down near the doorway. Kurt smiles at him and gives him a kiss on the cheek, and Blaine laughs, shaking his head.
The next day he tracks his muddy shoes all over the freshly mopped kitchen floor, and Kurt sighs and rolls his eyes.
For Halloween, they go to party thrown by a friend of Elliot's who came to a few of Pamela Landsbury's gigs before Dani took off for LA and Rachel got totally swamped by rehearsals. It's taken nearly two months, but Blaine finally agrees that Kurt's idea to dress up as James Dean and Rock Hudson will be far more fun than Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, even if no one shuts up about Gravity at NYADA and there's a certain appeal about spending their weekly craft time gluing that many fake buttons onto their space suit costumes.
Kurt thinks he might miss trick or treating, but really, the best part about that was getting to show off his fantastic costumes to the neighbors. That was a lot less fun as he got older, when there were a lot fewer compliments and a lot more raised eyebrows at his extravagance and detailing. (Really, going out as Snooki was probably one of the simpler costumes he's put together over the last few years, and he spent three hours on Halloween afternoon getting his face and arms the proper shade of orange.)
This year, they don't have as much time to put in the effort to get it perfect, but their costumes are simple, easy to put together. Blaine hogs the bathroom shaping his hair into the perfect quiff, smooth on the sides and full and flipped over in front. Kurt uses their bedroom mirror to match his thrift store leather jacket to his skinny jeans to his pompadour.
Blaine puts on a neat navy blue suit, black tie, white pocket square, a romantic lead straight out of Pillow Talk. He shrugs on the blazer with a smooth, practiced ease, then knots his tie with quick, clever fingers. Kurt watches him with a wry smile. He's always had a weakness for men who can make dressing up look this effortless.
Kurt makes sure to straighten and smooth out the lapels of the suit before pressing a chaste kiss to Blaine's cheek. It gives his hands something to do so that he won't do something inappropriate, like mess up Blaine's hair or yank on Blaine's tie until they're making out on the bed like they're sixteen again.
"You're looking good," Blaine says, eyes raking up and down Kurt's body in a way that always makes Kurt's blood heat. His mouth turns up into a grin. "Especially your legs in those jeans."
Kurt makes sure to pose with his most sullen expression on his face, shoulders slouched, puffing on an imaginary cigarette, and Blaine laughs in a way that scrunches up his face. It ruins his slick 1960's Mad Men image, but it reminds Kurt of afternoons in the Lima Bean going over the Warblers' setlist and gossiping about the epic bridezilla hissyfit on last week's Say Yes to the Dress. It feels intimate and familiar, as comfortable as a worn-in pair of shoes, the way Blaine has always felt since the moment they met.
They stand side by side in front of Kurt's full length mirror, and Blaine's shoulder is pressed up against Kurt's arm. "We're going to be the best dressed couple there," Kurt says, readjusting the collar of his jacket, admiring the cut and shape of it on his shoulders. Looking at them together like this, Kurt feels--out of body, like all this is all happening to someone else. He'd always dreamed of living in New York, performing, finding someone to fall in love with, someone who understood him and loved him as he is. And now he has it. This is real.
"Of course we will," Blaine says. He raises an eyebrow, a close-mouthed smile spreading across his face, old fashioned and flirty, dangerously perfect. "We should make it an early night, though. Wouldn't want anyone getting jealous of how fabulous we are."
Kurt bites his lower lip to hide his smile. "That just wouldn't do, now would it?" he says, before he can't hold it in anymore and breaks out into a giggle.
They are the best dressed at the party, though it's not hard to be when the height of fashion is apparently bodypaint and a thong (some guy who Kurt is pretty sure pre-gamed the pre-game before deciding that was a good idea), sexy Blastoise (Kurt was never played Pokemon while growing up, but he is pretty sure the canons were not positioned there in the original version), and a bored-looking guy in an NYU hoodie and a half-hearted set of vampire fangs.
They do make it a short night of it, and Kurt decides he likes watching Blaine take off the suit even better than he liked watching Blaine putting it on.
Blaine doesn't know how to do laundry.
Kurt can barely remember a time when he didn't know how to separate whites from colors, when to use bleach and when not to. He has memorized the washing instruction labels of every single piece of clothing he owns, even the ones that are wrong. He stopped letting his dad do any of his laundry he was nine, after his dad ruined his third-favorite scarf, and Kurt decided that if you want something done right, sometimes you need to do it yourself.
The most Blaine can be counted on to do (and granted, he does this pretty well) is to pick up and drop off the dry cleaning at the nice mom-and-pop cleaners down the street. Rachel, despite her awful habit of washing all her clothes at the same time on cold, at least knows how to operate the machines. The first time Kurt took Blaine to their neighborhood laundromat, Blaine almost turned all their shirts purple, but Kurt managed to stop him in time. Blaine was really upset about it, and Kurt very much enjoyed the apology blowjob that night, but he never did let Blaine touch their laundry again.
It's annoying, dragging twice as much laundry down to the laundromat every week, but Kurt can't stand watching Blaine fumble his way through which of Kurt's variety of detergents to use with which temperature water and how to scrub things properly so that he won't distort the shapes. Kurt's been doing laundry for other people for a long time. He was okay dealing with his dad's worn flannel and jeans, but now there's Blaine silk bow ties and his corduroy pants and his wool cardigans. Kurt's schedule is packed full enough as it is with classes, NYADA, the diner, Vogue, not to mention that he has his own wardrobe to think of. Dealing with extra chores is not something he is pleased about.
"I could--" Blaine says, biting at his bottom lip as he watches Kurt wrestle their laundry basket down the stairs.
Kurt can't resist the urge to glare at him. "No," he says. He's tired, and he doesn't have the patience to deal with Blaine trying and failing to be helpful right now.
"But--" Blaine says. He's doing that puppy-dog thing with his eyes, wide and round and just a little hurt. Kurt knows it isn't intentional, but it's still getting on his nerves.
"I can handle this myself, Blaine," Kurt grits out between clenched teeth. Thankfully, he doesn't have much in the way of homework to do tonight, so he can just zone out while he's waiting for the machines to run and play Fruit Ninja. At least some watermelons will feel his wrath.
Blaine turns his head away. "Okay," he says. "Fine."
Kurt huffs out an annoyed breath and drags the laundry out the front door.
A rainy Sunday morning. Fog hangs over the streets, thick and white. The bright colors of the changing leaves are still vivid against the gray of the city.
"Don't want to get up," Kurt murmurs against Blaine's shoulder. He pulls the sheets up higher on his shoulders and wraps an arm around Blaine's torso. Blaine's t-shirt has ridden up, and his skin is so warm, almost hot against Kurt's cold hands and arms.
"Sure," Blaine says. "That sounds like a great idea." He tends to wake up before Kurt does in the morning, but it always takes him longer to get out of bed, like his body needs to wake up in stages.
There's something about Blaine that is always open and welcoming. Kurt has always taken comfort in that. But Blaine first thing in the morning is raw and exposed in a way that Kurt never gets to see after Blaine has gelled down his hair and knotted his bow tie. There's a fuzzy, unreserved sweetness to him, to the way he smiles, to the way his eyes glow, to the rough softness of his voice, and it always makes Kurt feel like there's been something scooped out of his chest to make room for the feelings that swell up inside him.
"I like mornings like this," Kurt says, his voice barely louder than a whisper.
They don't have anything planned for today, despite Santana and Rachel's best efforts. There's no pressing need to get up and get showered, to put on their clothes, to eat their breakfasts. They can stay here in the pale light that comes in through the window, and Kurt can kiss Blaine's lips, draw their bodies together languid and easy. Their mouths are still gummy with sleep, but Kurt can't bring himself to care.
Blaine sighs against Kurt's mouth, his eyes drifting closed. He cups the back of Kurt's head, tangling his fingers in Kurt's hair. "Like this, too," Blaine says. His knees bump against Kurt's thighs.
They kiss like that for what feels like hours, until Blaine slides his hands underneath Kurt's t-shirt and Kurt yanks on the elastic of Blaine's sweatpants. It's not anything complicated, just hands and skin, the taste of Blaine's mouth and the slick slide of his sweat.
When they pull away from each other, it's started to rain outside. The world seems softer like this, gray and warm and wet. Blaine cups Kurt's cheek. "Love you," he says, his voice mumbled and sweet. His eyes are sleepier now than they were earlier, half-lidded and dark.
"Love you, too," Kurt says. He rests his hand on Blaine's hip and thinks, I'm engaged to this man. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes.
It still surprises Kurt sometimes to realize that it's true.
The frustration doesn't build so much as it ebbs and flows. There have always been tons of things that drive him nuts about Blaine, like the way he almost invites female attention by playing the gentleman and doesn't even seem to realize that he's doing it, or the way he has turned passive-aggression into an art form when he's feeling hurt, or the way he gets increasingly condescending when he thinks he's right about something and people aren't tripping over themselves to agree with him.
But he's also sweet, the sweetest thing in Kurt's life when Kurt has a bad day, giving him backrubs and cooking him dinner and letting him pick what TV shows they watch. Blaine remembers every single one of their anniversaries and all of the most important places to them in their relationship, and when Kurt needs to sing or laugh or cry, he's always willing to be there to listen. He touches Kurt like he's precious, like there's nothing else he'd rather be doing, and there's a softness to his eyes when he looks at Kurt that makes Kurt feel warm and safe and loved.
Even then, the petty annoyances start to pile up. Blaine puts new toilet paper in the holder backwards even though he must have seen that everyone else puts the flap facing outwards. Blaine throws a hissyfit every time Kurt leaves a dirty tissue anywhere, even when Kurt has bad allergies and can barely think clearly enough to keep track of all his discarded tissues. Blaine squeezes his toothpaste from the middle instead of the ends. Kurt knows that Blaine isn't perfect, but there's a difference between knowing that Blaine isn't perfect, that he has flaws, that he's human, and having to confront those very same flaws day after day, hour after hour.
Really, he should have seen this coming.
The first time they have a full-blown fight as a-couple-that-lives-together, it's about whether or not John Lennon was overrated as a songwriter and singer. That devolves into a discussion of Blaine's overall musical taste (highly variable), an accusation of becoming a Brooklynite hipster about anything mainstream (Kurt), an examination of Blaine's inability to let go of his childhood (since Sam has moved into an apartment down the street and is only encouraging the worst of Blaine's impulses), capping off with Blaine asking whether or not Kurt even likes him or if he was just settling when he was still in high school, and Kurt responding that he really must be if he took Blaine back after the whole cheating debacle. They spend an entire thirty seconds staring at each other, tight-lipped and angry, before one of them breaks.
Kurt's the one who storms out. Technically, it's more his apartment than it is Blaine's. He's the one who started paying rent there first, and Rachel and Santana have proven to be good (well, good enough) friends while supporting Kurt through a breakup, and if Blaine decides--
Kurt refuses to think too deeply about that possibility.
It's gotten cold this time of year, and the air is chilly as Kurt steps outside. The sun goes down so early; it's already dark at 5 pm. Kurt's hoodie is too thin to be good insulation, and he shoves his hands into his pockets as he starts to walk. His dad always used to talk about the advantages of a good walk outside to clear the head, but Kurt was more prone to hiding in his room and sulking in his bed while listening to every single kiss-off showtune he had in his iTunes library. (It was perfect. He'd spent years cultivating that playlist.)
Out here, he's left to the sounds of a rowdy bar overflowing with people, heavy bass from a stereo in a tricked out Honda, his own breath, rough and heavy and deep. The stars overhead are swallowed up by the glow of the street lights. Some guy tries to jaywalk across the street and gets honked at and yelled at for his troubles. Kurt knows how he feels.
Kurt imagines Blaine lying in their bed, sobbing into his pillow. He's wearing the ugly crying face he makes during sad movies, and he's begging Kurt to come home because he's really sorry, and he's saying that of course Kurt is right, Kurt is right about everything, and it doesn't matter what they say to each other, Blaine will love him forever. It's a stupid fantasy, but Kurt takes a moment to indulge in it as he walks down the street in the cold.
The late-autumn air does cool the heat of Kurt's anger, and by the time he's made it around the block once, all he's left with is a throbbing ache in the center of his chest and a jittery collection of butterflies in his stomach. He needs to go home. They have to figure this out.
When he slides open the front door to their apartment, Blaine looks up from where he's sitting on the couch. His hair is a mess from where he's run his fingers through it too many times, and his eyes are red-ringed and wet. His face is smooth and still, and he looks years older than he is.
"Hey," Kurt says.
"Hi," Blaine says. His voice sounds small. "I'm sorry."
Kurt drops down on the couch beside him. "I'm sorry, too." He curls his hand around Blaine's. Their fingers fit together, the same way they always do.
"I love you," Blaine says. He leans his head on Kurt's shoulder, and Kurt's stomach unknots. They can do this. They survived all of last year. This should be a piece of cake. "I think we need to talk about this, though."
Kurt takes a deep breath. "You snore," he says.
"Wait, " Blaine frowns. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"You snore at night, and it makes it difficult to get any sleep," Kurt says. "And it drives me nuts that you track mud all over the apartment in your shoes. And I'm sick of washing your clothes."
"Oh," Blaine says. "It pisses me off when you try to micromanage my schedule and plan things for the two of us without talking to me about it first, and it annoys the crap out of me when you do that tapping thing with your fingernails when you're studying, and yes, my mom's done my laundry for most of my life, but I can't believe that you think I'm too much of an idiot to figure out how to do it myself."
Kurt almost shoots back something mean about how he wouldn't have to keep track of Blaine's schedule if Blaine wasn't always overcommitting to things, but that's not really-- getting defensive isn't going to help here. "I love you, too," Kurt says. He runs an absent hand over Blaine's hair. "So maybe we have to work on this co-habitation thing," Kurt says.
"Yeah," Blaine says, his fingers tightening around Kurt's. "But it's… it's worth it for me. I want it to make it work."
"Me, too," Kurt says, his voice going soft and a little scratchy. "I want to make it work, too."
"Ugh," Santana says from the kitchen. "Are you guys done yet? All this teary reunion bullshit is really putting me off my Italian." She still takes a giant bite out of some of the garlic bread Kurt was letting cool before dinner and chews it. Loudly.
"Shut up, Santana," Kurt yells. "No one asked you."
"Will you let me do my own laundry next time?" Blaine asks. "I'll read the directions and everything."
Kurt takes a breath. He'll have to fight down his urge to jump in every time Blaine screws up, and he will screw up, because he's still new at it. But Kurt can do this. It'll be worth it, because Blaine's worth it. "Yes, sure, of course," he says. "As long as you remember to put the toilet paper with the flap hanging out the next time you have to replace the empty roll."
"Deal," Blaine says.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, they spend a whole afternoon baking pumpkin pie from scratch. They're planning on travelling back to Ohio together for the actual holiday, but they still have two days of classes, and it's crunch time at Vogue.com because the December issue was running late this year, so Isabelle is begging everyone to work overtime in order to make sure that all the content is up on the web. Blaine doesn't have as much on his plate, just classes since his a cappella group isn't rehearsing at all this week. They're doing their best to spend every free moment together before the holiday madness descends upon them, their first since they got engaged.
The morning sun peeks over the rooftops, yellow and friendly and warm. Blaine is wearing a bowtie with a candy corn pattern, which is ridiculous considering that Halloween was more than half a month ago. He hums along to something by Lorde, swinging his hips as he dances to the radio. Kurt is focused on cleaning up after their first round of work, tossing away dirty paper towels and scrubbing down their counters.
"I think this is ready," Blaine says. He lifts the lid of the pot and pokes at the steaming pumpkin inside, trying to judge its tenderness.
Kurt hmms. "Well, the food processor is set up over here. Just toss it into a bowl, and I'll take care of it." The apartment is already starting to smell amazing, mostly because of the pumpkin seeds that are baking in the oven, and Kurt likes the way it reminds him of carving jack 'o' lanterns with his dad, sitting on their old kitchen table, sketching out beautiful patterns and then trying to execute them with young, clumsy fingers. Blaine's family apparently decided that pumpkins and knives were a bad idea mixed together after Cooper cut himself badly enough to need stitches when he was eight, so he doesn't have the same kind of nostalgia for it. To Kurt, that just means they can make new memories, better ones.
Blaine lifts the pot off the burner, picking out the thick slices of pumpkin with a pair of tongs. His tongue sticks out of his mouth as he focuses on the task at hand. It makes him look all of about ten years old. After he's done, Kurt works on scooping the pumpkin flesh into a bowl, separating it from the skin. Blaine starts gathering the other ingredients for the pie. Kurt can hear the familiar smack of the cabinet doors opening and closing, the reluctant suction sound of the refrigerator being forced open, the rattle of the spices on the rack.
It shouldn't take that long to find the cloves and the cinnamon, considering that they should be right next to one another. "You better not be rearranging my spices," Kurt says. He likes knowing every inch of his kitchen, though Rachel and Santana are determined to thwart him at every turn. It would be nice to have his fiancé on his side for once.
Blaine at least has the good grace to look embarrassed by it, the corners of his mouth turned up in a rueful smile. "It just bothers me that you organize it alphabetically instead of by type, and besides, Rachel already mixed up the oregano, the basil and the garlic powder after making that weird vegan pizza thing yesterday."
"I know we agreed to share the rest of our lives together, but there are just some lines that you just don't cross, Blaine," Kurt says.
Blaine shakes his head, laughing. "Fine," he says. "But I want to cordon off more closet space. Trying to share what we have right now is just not cutting it."
Kurt narrows his eyes. His corner of the loft is tiny, and it's only gotten tinier since Blaine and Santana moved in. The last thing Kurt wants to do is block off more it, especially for something as big as another clothes rack. On the other hand, Blaine is right about how their current space has been filled full to the point of bursting, and Kurt hasn't even had time to get his full winter wardrobe out of storage. "I agree to your terms," he says. He holds out a hand, expecting Blaine to shake on it.
But Blaine grins and leans in and kisses him, a floury hand on one shoulder, and Kurt knows that he'll have a white handprint on his dark blue t-shirt the next time he checks. "I want to be married to you so bad," Blaine murmurs against Kurt's lips.
"Me too," Kurt says. He's looking forward to it. Not just the fun parts, like his dad talked to him about -- sex and cooking pasta and dancing around in their underwear--but also the parts that they have to figure out how to do together--how to fight and how to make up and how to compromise on when it's an acceptable time to sing in their cramped, echoing shower.
Blaine takes the bowl of pumpkin glop out of Kurt's hands and starts scraping it into the food processor, his eyes shining with laughter. Kurt's heart feels cracked open and tender, overflowing with the love he has for this boy, this man. Blaine promised him forever, and Kurt intends on holding him to that.
The next time Blaine starts singing and dancing along to the latest Katy Perry single, Kurt makes sure to join in.