Blaine wasn't going home for Christmas.
It hadn't registered with Kurt at first; give him a break, he'd been kind of blinded by the singing and the smiling and the kinda sorta flirting. But as the days go on and every other Dalton student is met by parents and family and friends for the holidays, Kurt never sees Blaine with anyone. He's there for Wes and David's final iPod-and-sushi party (admission is one mix CD and one anything-but-California roll), arguing with Paul about the validity of including instrumentals on mix CDs. He's cheering Kurt through the last of midterms and talking him out of setting fire to his history book. He's hijacking every person he sees for Friday night Xbox tournaments.
But what Blaine isn't doing is obvious. He isn't texting various family members about Christmas presents. He isn't sharing his holiday plans (Luke is Jewish, Xavier celebrates Kwanzaa, and Tim and Eric are atheists, but they're all talking about family dinners and parties and trips to relatives they only see once a year). In fact, Kurt asks Wes and David to be sure, but they confirm it: in the year he's been at Dalton, Blaine's never once spoken about his family.
They're two of the last students left on the 23rd of December. Dad and Carole and Finn are coming soon to pick him up and drive back to Lima, and he's running out of time to talk to Blaine. So Kurt tries the direct approach first, leaning against the back of the couch in the common room, close enough to Blaine to really appreciate the semi-stubbled look the other boy is rocking.
"Want to come to Tina's New Year's party with me? It's always amazing - we go all out, themes, food, costumes. It's going to be sci-fi this year, and I think you could crash at my place. Dad said he doesn't mind, as long as you ask your parents first."
Blaine gives him a tight smile. "I don't know, Kurt. I'll check, and let you know in a couple days."
"What, you think they're going to say no? If they're that worried, give them my Dad's number. He'd be happy to confirm there'll be adult supervision and all."
He tries to read Blaine's expression, but Blaine looks so closed-off that he just can't. It's like Blaine's conjured a polite-but-distant mask for himself. Kurt watches as Blaine starts flipping through an issue of GQ - and seriously, it's the one with the Chris Pine cover, that's three months old, no way Blaine hasn't read it - almost ignoring Kurt completely.
"Blaine, are you even listening to me?" he asks, picking the magazine out of Blaine's hands and sitting down next to him on the common room couch. "If you don't want to go, just say so."
"It's not that. I really do want to go." God, the earnest, puppy-dog-eyes are back. Those things should be assigned lethal status. "I just don't know what my schedule at King's Island is going to be like."
Kurt suddenly remembers Blaine's blatantly flimsy plea for duet assistance. "You're working there over Christmas?"
"Yeah, I told you I was."
"I thought you were lying to get me to sing with you. Don't your folks have enough money to, like, buy the entire place? Why would you be working?"
Blaine grabs the magazine back and gets up, eyes narrowing. "I wasn't lying. And yes, they do, though why that should matter to you, I don't know. Whatever, Kurt, I'll catch you later."
He slips out the door before Kurt can apologize.
He gives Blaine an hour to cool off, during which he dials up reinforcements: Mercedes.
"Maybe he's not just some preppy rich boy," she says, nose wrinkling as she tilts her computer closer. Their Skype connection seems to be on the fritz today. "There are other students who are working their way through Dalton. Look at you."
Kurt shakes his head. "No, he said his parents were well-off, and he's certainly not hurting in the money department. He came in with the new dark-wash Dolce and Gabbana skinny jeans last week, and those'll set you back a heart-wrenching $450."
"You can't afford 'em, can you?" she asks.
He sighs, leaning on his elbow and gesturing to his trusty Diesel faded-wash Vikers. "These cost an entire month's worth of paychecks from the garage, and they've got to last. Doesn't mean I can't lust from a distance over other jeans."
"Sure you want the jeans and not the boy in them?" Mercedes drawls, one finger theatrically pushing her eyebrow up because she's never been able to raise it on her own.
"Oh no, I want the boy, too. That's why I invited him to New Year's."
"And he said he couldn't come?"
"Not at first. At first, he said he'd get back to me, but then I asked about his parents and demonstrated my astonishing and continuing flair for putting my foot in my mouth. He kind of walked out on me after that."
Mercedes considers for a moment, drumming her fingers on her desk. "Has he ever mentioned doing anything but working over Christmas?"
"No," Kurt says. "And Paul, his roommate, claims he's always the last one out and first one back over any school holidays. He said Blaine's got a sister in Dayton he talks to on the phone, but he's never even heard Blaine talk about his parents."
"Maybe he's an orphan with money from a trust fund that lets him stay at Dalton."
"Oh, sweetie, he doesn't have the gee-whiz personality to pull off 'Tomorrow'. Or the belt anywhere near tenor range."
"Jerk," Mercedes snipes, good-naturedly. "We can't all have your crystalline pitch. Some of us do quite well with the soulful, bluesy sound."
Kurt grins. "You remember that when you need someone to hit the E in 'O Holy Night'. I'll be at Mr. Schue's tomorrow night just in case."
"Coach told you?"
"She mentioned the words 'everlasting torment' and 'blistering eardrums' if I failed to attend. I'm just terrified she'll show up here one day and put me through Cheerios practice."
Mercedes giggles, though Kurt's deadly serious. Coach Sylvester is no less terrifying from 2 hours away over a telephone. "According to Quinn, she's still holding your performance at Nationals as the benchmark. All the Cheerios have to belt out 'My Heart Will Go On' in flawless French while in pyramid formation every practice, or she makes them scrub the trophies with their toothbrushes."
"Mon coeur continue et sur, ma chérie. Wish me luck?"
"That boy better be at New Year's, or we're driving to Cincinnati to get him."
Fifteen minutes before the Hudson-Hummels are due to descend on Dalton, Kurt finds Blaine in his room. Paul's side of the dorm is abandoned, having left yesterday, but Blaine doesn't even have a duffel bag lurking in a corner. Maybe the situation is worse than Kurt thought.
"Can I come in?"
Blaine looks up from his laptop, and unhooks one earbud. "Yeah, sure."
Kurt drops his messenger bag by the door and leans against Paul's bedframe. "About what I said earlier, I'm sorry if I-"
"I'm going to stop you right there, Kurt," Blaine says, yanking off the other earbud and half-closing the laptop. "Yes, I'm working at King's Island over Christmas. No, I don't need the money. Yes, my parents are about as rich as you can be to qualify for the millionaire tax bracket. No, I don't want to talk about them. And I told you, I'll think about New Year's. I wish you'd respect my privacy like everyone else here."
If this speech hasn't been written, memorized, and rehearsed in the past hour, Kurt will eat his Gaga shoes.
"I wasn't under the impression I didn't respect your privacy," Kurt says. "I'm just worried about my friend. You know, the guy who rarely snaps like this?"
Blaine's shoulders set under his t-shirt - and seriously, the fact that Kurt's finding a simple grey t-shirt attractive on someone should remind him just how gone he is on the guy - and he looks up at Kurt with an expression Kurt never expected to see on him: shame.
"My parents and I aren't close right now. It's a long story, and I'm not exactly welcome for Christmas. Last year, the school let me stay here, but this year, Dad's refused to pay the extra two weeks of room and board. So I took the job at King's Island, and I'm crashing with Mel for the holidays. Just the two of us, but we'll make it work."
Fuck. Kurt's really stepped in it now. He's rubbed Blaine's family situation in his face, called him a dumb little rich boy, and now, it turns out he's been macking on a guy with a boyfriend. It's time to bow out gracefully and maybe he'll recover enough over break to speak to Blaine like a normal person.
"I -" Kurt starts to say, but his phone cuts in, and crap, the family's here. "That's Finn. I have to go."
Blaine gets up and walks with him to the door. "I'll call you later tonight, okay?"
Kurt forces a note of cheer into his voice and smiles. "Yeah, of course. Listen, have fun with your boyfriend and don't work too hard!"
He grabs his messenger bag and heads off before he says anything even more stupid.
Casa de Hudmel - which is what he and Finn agreed on after the wedding instead of "Furt" - is kind of insane. All four of them are resolute Christmas lovers, and with a combined thirty years and two families' worth of traditions to mix, everyone doing fifteen things at once. Finn's room is knee-deep in wrapping paper and electric wiring for the outside lights. Carole bakes like a madwoman, trays of chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin and gingersnaps, and what's even weirder is that so does Finn.
("What? I like Christmas cookies, and if I don't help, they don't get made.")
Dad's fussing over the tree - seven feet, real pine, covered in more ornaments than anyone should possess - and Kurt is critiquing ornament placement when he gets a text.
Should it be possible to be both off-pitch and off-tempo at the same time? - Blaine
Further communication reveals Blaine really wasn't lying about the girl he'd been partnered with at King's Island: camera-phone proof shows that yes, she's a half-step off the pitch, way too flat, and at least three counts off the tempo.
You got past that monstrosity she calls a shirt? he texts back, and he doesn't know why, but he can tell the cute little "LOL! :p" Blaine texts back is a bit forced. They exchange small-talk for a bit before Blaine says "g2g, have 2 change 4 mat. show, yay waistcoats?"
And while Kurt's normal reaction is "yay waistcoats!", he still feels kind of sad that it's Christmas Eve and Blaine's working. He's kind of depressed for the rest of the morning, and Dad notices. Kurt finds himself pleading his case to his father to allow him to drive two hours to Cincinnati to see a boy he already almost lives with, bring him back to Lima, and allow him to crash in their already-crowded house.
It's Finn who talks Dad into letting him drive to Cincinnati, surprisingly enough. He gives a thoughtful speech about how no one should be alone on Christmas and it wasn't that long ago that Kurt and Burt and he and his mom were by themselves. Privately, Kurt's pretty sure it has more to do with Finn's breakup with Rachel and the kicked-puppy look he's been sporting the past two weeks. Kurt had invited him up to Dalton for a football game to take his mind off her, Finn had bonded with Blaine and Wes and Luke, and Finn's now returning the favor.
Two hours of driving, the hour-long show, and two hours back will leave them just enough time to get to Mr. Shuester's for decorating (because Kurt isn't risking Coach Sylvester's wrath, boy or no boy). Assuming he can convince Blaine to come back to Lima with him.
Assuming Blaine's not just going to tell him off for prying into his personal life again.
King's Island is a freaking zoo, and Kurt just manages to get tickets for the 6 pm show. He's practically in the rafters, and there's at least three crying kids surrounding him. One of the kids lets loose an earsplitting wail, and the girl in front of Kurt in the Buckeyes jersey almost jumps out of her seat. After ten minutes, the kid calms down, which is good, because the lights dim and the orchestra cues up.
The show is horrendous, thinly taped-together plot of what amounts to It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas stuck in a blender. The dialogue is barely even telenovela-quality. But most of the singers are good, and Blaine's amazing, a complete professional. He even manages to make "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" palatable, which, in Kurt's opinion, should qualify you for sainthood or something, because god, what a horrible song.
And the girl opposite Blaine for "Baby, It's Cold Outside" isn't a complete disaster this time, though every time she hits an off note both Kurt and Buckeyes girl shudder in unison. Kurt kind of zones out for the rest of the show, except for when Blaine's onstage, and when the finale comes to an end, he's one of the very few people standing while they applaud.
Now comes the hard part - finding Blaine and not coming off like a total stalker.
("You can't be worse than you were last year," Finn had said while they adjusted the indoor garlands. "It helps that he's actually interested in you and isn't, you know, straight.")
He talks his way backstage, past the little kids lining up for "White Christmas" girl's autograph - she's cute and blonde and looks like Quinn, and Kurt's sure the dads in the crowd don't mind getting another glimpse of her teeny-tiny white-fur dress and go-go boots - and looks around. If he were a gorgeous teenage boy, where would he be hiding?
"You've got someone in the cast, too?"
He turns around to find Buckeyes girl. She's short, barely topping five-two, and has an incongruously nice Old Navy pea coat slung over her arm. Kurt wants to pull her curly black hair back and french-twist it, because the ponytail look only works for cheerleaders and five-year-olds. He also wants to burn her jeans; frayed hems and flare-cuts are SO 90's, and while they balance out her weight (on the chubby side, but not Mercedes-style "fabulous and thick"), they do absolutely nothing for her legs.
He lies through his teeth. "Cousin, actually. He doesn't know I'm here. It's kind of a surprise."
"Cool. My brother's one of the soloists. I've been here a couple times, maybe I can help you find your cousin. What's his name?"
Kurt is saved from further lies by a familiar voice. Oh god. Maybe not so saved.
"Mel, get me out of here before I severely maim Colleen. I'm feeding her the tempo through the entire song and she's still three counts behind, please do not start me on her inability to remember a simple harmony. The girl is dumb as rocks and that's really doing a disservice to - oh my god."
If Kurt could somehow melt into the floor, that would be completely perfect right now. Of course, he'd be missing waistcoat!Blaine, who hasn't changed out of his costume yet.
"Hey," he says weakly. "Um, waistcoats yay?"
His humor is lost on Blaine, who's standing next to Buckeyes girl and looking kind of angry. "What are you doing here?"
It's a valid question, and if he doesn't tell Blaine the truth now, he's going to lose him.
"Apologizing. Possibly begging. I am so sorry for what I said earlier. It was insulting and I should have left it alone. I'm not sorry for caring about you, though, so if you think I'm going to apologize for wanting to make sure you're happy at Christmas-"
"Hey, it's all right." Blaine tugs him over and puts his arms around him, then rests his hands on Kurt's hips. "I was a jerk about it. I kind of treat everyone who makes me talk about my parents like they're going to attack me, and I shouldn't have done that to you."
"Understandable, though," Buckeyes girl says, leaning against the wall with a strange grin on her face. "Mom and Dad are complete shits when it comes to you. I don't talk about it either."
Kurt must look completely confused, because Blaine laughs and nods his head in the girl's direction.
"This is my older sister, Melissa. Mel, this is Kurt Hummel, the-"
"You're Kurt? Kurt from Lima who Blaine hasn't shut up about for two months?" He nods, and she rolls her eyes. "Oh my god, get it together, you two. Kurt, the thing you need to know is that my brother's an idiot when it comes to relationships. He'll never make the first move. B, if you don't ask this kid out within the next five minutes, I'll cancel your subscription to Vogue and tell Dad you're interested in spending spring break in the Oslo office."
"You wouldn-" Blaine breathes, tense in Kurt's arms.
"How long have you known me?"
"Then you know I would," she says, an impressive glare on her face. "I'll wait for you guys in the lobby."
So, "Mel" isn't his boyfriend after all. This is a good thing, Kurt reminds himself. Matchmaking or not, this is a good thing.
Kurt is really, really okay with never moving, because he has a very attractive boy in a waistcoat still wrapped around him. Albeit said boy is ranting about his manipulative bitch of a sister, but that's something he can deal with very easily.
He puts his hand over Blaine's mouth.
"Chill a minute, all right?" he says, and Blaine's amber eyes soften. "Are you really that pissed that people think we're good for each other?"
Kurt cautiously removes his hand, and Blaine rests his forehead against Kurt's for a moment. "No," he finally replies. "I just didn't picture this as how I'd ask you out."
"You pictured it?" Kurt says softly.
Blaine pulls back to look at him, head tilted to the side. His hair is curling, free from the gel he uses at Dalton, and the hunter-green waistcoat and tie look totally gorgeous on him. Kurt wants to photograph him, capture this moment, where Blaine's looking at him like this; like he loves him.
"I was going to do it over break. Take off early from a show, drive up to Lima, and surprise you."
"I would have said yes. I still will, no matter how you ask."
Blaine's nose wrinkles. "Even if I did it in rap?"
"Are you going to do it in rap?" Kurt deadpans.
"I wasn't planning on it."
Kurt sighs. "So are you going to ask, or do I have to be the gentleman in this relationship?"
"You think we have to be assigned roles like-"
"Oh my god." He threads a hand through Blaine's hair and looks him in the eye. "Tell me we're dating so I can kiss you."
"Who says you can't kiss me if we weren't dating?"
"I'm not that kind of boy," Kurt says, hand pressed to his chest like a fainting Southern belle.
Blaine leans in and presses his mouth to Kurt's, clearly intending it to be soft and sweet. Kurt has had enough of gentlemanly behavior, and pulls Blaine by his tie until they're wrapped up in each other. He kisses Blaine hot and messy, the way he's wanted to every time Blaine laughs or smiles or shrugs or dances or sings or to be honest, breathes.
Somewhere between Blaine tugging his hair and ending up against the wall, Blaine plastered against him with his waistcoast half-unbuttoned, they've managed to progress to full-blown makeouts. Blaine looks even better with kiss-blown lips and his hair ruffled, and Kurt tries not to move and let Blaine's thigh rub against his dick or he might just come in his pants.
"You are totally that kind of boy, Kurt Hummel," Blaine says and yeah, Kurt resolves he's going to make Blaine sound like that more often. His voice slides into a familiar song. "But I swear that I'll never tell!"
"Well?" Mel asks, sitting cross-legged on a row of chairs at the front of the lobby.
Blaine removes his arm from where it's laced through Kurt's and punches his sister on the shoulder.
"I hate you, you know that, right?"
"Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious. I was aware. Tell me you finally manned up."
Kurt grins. "Nope. Apparently I'm the man in this relationship."
"Wuss," Mel hisses in Blaine's direction.
"Bitch," Blaine returns.
"Children!" Kurt says. "We have two hours of driving to do, and if I'm not at Mr. Shue's by 9 sharp, Coach will kill me, stuff my body, and hang me in her office as a warning to all those who disobey her. Can we go?"
Mel looks confused. "Uh, I kind of live ten minutes away. What's this about driving and a shoe and your apparently insane coach?"
Shit. He'd completely forgotten his original purpose in coming here - other than stalking Blaine. This is what happens when you make out with really attractive boys in waistcoats (though Blaine's D&G jeans paired with a blue oxford and a grey sweater are currently doing a great job in distracting Kurt); you forget to ask them to your glee instructor's home on Christmas Eve and to sleep over your house.
He takes a deep breath, squeezing his boyfriend's (that word is never getting old) hand. "Would you like to spend Christmas with me?" Turning to Mel, he continues. "Both of you. It's going to be kind of weird, because it's Carole and Finn's first Hummel-style Christmas too, but I wanted to invite you. It was going to be a friend-type thing, but now? I would really kind of like it if my boyfriend - and my boyfriend's yente of a sister - would spend Christmas with me and my family."
Blaine is quiet, considering. "What's this thing you're freaking out about at 9?"
"Mr. Shue - New Directions's coach - is spending his first Christmas alone since his divorce, and Coach has decreed the entire glee club is having a party and helping him decorate tonight. I haven't really seen anyone but Mercedes in so long, I was looking forward to going. And, okay, Coach really will murder me if I don't show for anything less than life-threatening injury."
"I suppose I can be the spy this time," Blaine says. "Regionals are coming up and if we're going to beat McKinley, watching them in their natural habitat is a good start."
"So you're coming?" Kurt asks, heart absolutely not doing that flippy-thing in his chest that it does when Blaine's around.
"Missy?" Blaine asks, sitting down next to the girl in question. "Can you stand a bunch of obnoxious glee-clubbers for two hours for me? I'm sure you can watch all the football you want with Mr. Hummel and Finn tomorrow."
Kurt nods, hoping his encouragement counts for something.
She laughs softly. "You haven't called me Missy in two years."
"You hit me last time."
"You were drunk last time, you deserved it. I could have left you in Lincoln Park in November without a coat."
And Kurt knows there's a story behind that little anecdote, but the siblings - seriously, what is their last name? He's never even heard or seen it at Dalton. - exchange matching nose-wrinkling grins.
"But you didn't," Blaine says.
Mel nods. "No, you were too pathetic." She gathers her coat and stands up, looking over at Kurt. "Are you sure it's all right with your dad? I'd hate to put anyone out, and I'm totally fine with just driving home."
Kurt laughs. "You're a Buckeyes fan. I'm pretty sure he'll offer to adopt you."
The drive back to Lima is one of the better ones. Mel drives Kurt's car through the snow outside Cincinnati; he's protective of his baby, but he's never driven in snow before, and Mel's got three more years of driving under her belt than he does. Blaine offers to drive, but ironically, he can't drive stick. Kurt gets an hour in the backseat with Blaine to mock him for that one, and to blatantly cuddle with his boyfriend (nope, still not old). They obnoxiously sing Madonna and show tunes to make Mel stop flipping stations looking for the Northwestern/Michigan State game.
They stop off in Troy for gas, and since they're out of the snowstorm, Kurt takes over the driving. Blaine calls shotgun to control the radio while Mel stretches out in the backseat with her iPod and listens to what Blaine calls "cock rock" (apparently Mel digs Motley Crue and AC/DC, though Blaine swears if you dig deep enough, she's got a secret stash of girly pop music including Destiny's Child and TLC). Through Finn's influence, he's developed a grudging respect for hard rock, so he can't really hate on her preferences too much, even if he does still want to burn her jeans and cut her hair.
And all right, anyone who'll sing along to "Paparazzi" and "Shoop" can't be too bad.
He pulls up outside Mr. Shuester's apartment at 9:05 exactly. Kurt's ready to walk right up and ring the doorbell, but Blaine stops him with a hand on his wrist.
"Are you sure it's going to be okay? I mean, this isn't even your house we're crashing."
"What happened to courage?" Kurt asks, grinning in spite of himself.
"I'm a big giant coward, didn't you know?" Blaine says, going for self-deprecating. His tone is way too apprehensive, though. "Courage is your department."
Kurt looks to Mel for moral support. "Help me out here, huh?"
"No freaking way. I was gonna stay in the car and finish my Foucault readings."
"Stop it. You're both coming. Let's go, before I go in and get reinforcements."
The siblings exchange glances, and Blaine snickers. "What, are you getting Finn and some of those other behemoths from the football team to carry us in?"
Kurt breaks out what he's dubbed his Berry Grin - sweet, sudden, and really psychotic.
"I'm bringing Mercedes. And Coach Sylvester."
It turns out even Ohio State psych-majors have heard of how crazy Sue Sylvester is, because Mel is first out of the car. "Two of the Buckeyes cheerleaders used to cheer for McKinley," she says, shock and horror crossing her face. "We thought she was an urban legend."
"You're a cheerleader?" Kurt asks, but it's a stupid question.
"I'm one of the football team's equipment managers. Pam does the away games, I do the home games, which is why I'm not traveling with the team right now."
Blaine's followed them to Mr. Shuester's door, hands in his pockets. "Why do you care about the cheerleading coach anyway?"
"Once a Cheerio, always a Cheerio," Kurt says, ringing the bell until Mercedes opens the door.
"Got that right, boyfriend," she says, hugging Kurt.
Blaine interrupts while Mel looks on in bemusement. "Ah-ah, he's my boyfriend now. Don't worry, you'll get a time-share."
Mercedes pulls Blaine into a hug, too. "About freaking time. Now you just have to work on that ridiculous hair of yours - especially around Coach Sylvester. You did warn him, right, Kurt?"
"You can never properly prepare anyone for Coach Sylvester," Kurt says. "Oh, this is Blaine's sister. She's crashing, too."
"Melissa Anderson. You've met baby brother?"
Oh, finally. "Anderson" is a lot less worse than the surnames he was imagining - Walton, du Pont, Astor, Hilton, something ridiculous like that. Blaine Anderson, not bad.
"Met, liked in spite of the fact that he's gayer than Elton John and turns Kurt's flame up to five-thousand, yeah. Mercedes Jones."
Mercedes ushers them inside, where the karaoke machine is blaring and Puck's apparently decided to grace everyone with his rendition of Adam Sandler's "Chanukkah Song". They deposit their coats on the pile atop the hall table, and meet Brittany and Artie in the kitchen. There are hugs and introductions and at least one really awkward moment where Brittany mentions she'd made out with Kurt even though he was a very pretty peacock, and he has to elbow Blaine in the stomach to stop his laughing.
Artie wheels himself around the corner and into the dining room, coming to a stop in the living room.
"Anyone order a couple of Dalton spies?" he says, conveniently, as the music comes to a stop.
It's absolute chaos. He's covered in Tina and Quinn, both hugging him hello, while Mr. Shue and Coach Sylvester are sitting on the couch, surprisingly not looking like there's impending homicide, wrapping presents in tandem. Rachel makes a comment about a ceasefire because it's Christmas, but she secretly looks pleased to see Kurt and oohs and aahs over his new pageboy cap (red, for the holidays). Puck and Finn clap him on the back and Lauren fist-bumps with him and Mike does his traditional hello (which involves finger-snaps, high and low fives, and a cross-turn). Sam says hello, but greets Blaine like an old friend - huh, who knew Sam used to go to Dalton? - and even Santana hugs him hello and says his sweater doesn't look like it belongs on Manhattan Barbie.
Blaine and Mel introduce themselves around, and Puck actually waits three seconds before he hits on Mel ("college chicks who like football? Hot."). Santana tries the same thing with Blaine, but whatever Mercedes whispers in her ear works like a charm, because she gives Kurt a guilty look and resumes batting her eyes at Finn. Kurt is about to retrieve his boyfriend from a Finn-and-Sam double-team interrogation when a familiar voice snaps his attention.
"Porcelain, front and center!"
He ducks under Tina's arm where he's helping her string a series of lights on the window and rounds the couch to end in front of Coach Sue.
She smiles - a rare non-predatory "I will eviscerate you with my spare tire iron" smile - and raises her voice again.
"Porcelain's hobbity boyfriend with the Shuester hair, also front and center!"
Blaine figures out, with help from Mercedes as interpreter, that she means him, and extricates himself from Sam and Finn. He walks up, smiling.
"Good evening, Coach Sylvester, Kurt's told me-"
"Mouth closed, Frodo. I'm speaking to my Cheerio right now. I'll get to you later." She turns to Kurt. "Question number one, have you been keeping in shape?"
"Yes, coach. Workouts every morning and I've been hanging out with the gymnastics team on Tuesday nights to practice."
"Good boy. Question two, is that caviar-sniffing Queer Eye for the Rich Boy homo paradise you transferred to treating you well?"
Blaine, Will, and Sam start to protest ("I don't think-"), but Mel cuts them off ("I do. Best. Christmas. EVER."), and reaches over Rachel toward the bowl of popcorn. Kurt ignores them.
"Dalton is everything I wanted and more. Everyone's been completely welcoming and respectful. Oh, and Mr. Ellroy, my history teacher, says that he wants to give whoever taught me AP History a medal, so you should take him up on that."
People think that Coach Sylvester only coaches the Cheerios, and that she blackmails the school board to keep her at McKinley without actually teaching. Most of that is accurate. However, since approximately 17 students at McKinley actually want to get an education, she teaches a section of AP American History. It's filled with ridiculous anecdotes (how she caught Giuseppe Zengara before he shot Teddy Roosevelt, how she once went moose-hunting with George Bush) and it's entertaining as hell, but he actually learned, in her class.
"I just might. All right, question three, then you can go sing ridiculous Christmas music to your heart's content." She stands up and looks at Blaine for the first time. "Is he good enough for you?"
Kurt leans over and kisses Blaine in front of everyone, earning him a few faint "eww's" (from Finn, who is his stepbrother now, and from Puck) and assorted shouts of "hell, yeah" (from Lauren, Santana, and Mercedes), "get it, son!" (Artie, of course, and Mike), and "awwww" (the rest of the girls). Blaine smiles at him, bright and dazzling, and seriously, did he mention best Christmas present ever?
"Yeah, he is," Kurt answers.
"That's all I needed to hear from you. Go find yourself a decent song, and let me talk to your harem boy here. All right, Frodo, I need you to tell me this - has no one explained to you the concept of tweezers? I could carpet my first floor with those fuzzy tropical insects you call eyebrows."
Blaine looks mostly-terrified, but Mercedes leans over and pats his shoulder, mouthing "show no fear".
"Um, I didn't think they were that bad."
"Oh, they're bad, Glambert. They're making Frida Kahlo look like Princess Di. And nobody better light a cigarette in here, or the combined fumes of your hair gel and Shuester's will make this place go up faster than Chernobyl." Blaine seems to have figured out that the best way to deal with Sue is to answer quickly and honestly the questions you can, and to wait out the obvious crazy. "But I digress. I mainly care about your pitiful little existence due to one thing; you're dating Porcelain. Anyone who dates one of my Cheerios has to be worthy. At least you've got the oversized mouth working for you. I want you to hop to the karaoke machine and sing something good. Be nice and let Porcelain go first and get the Mariah Carey out of his system."
Blaine hugs Kurt a little desperately over by the karaoke machine, and gets fistbumps from Artie for not passing out upon his first meeting with Sue. Kurt cues up "All I Want for Christmas is You" and dedicates it to Blaine, with Rachel and Tina on the backup while Finn rocks out on his drum kit. Blaine does a reprise of one of his King's Island songs - "Little Drummer Boy" - which leads into Mercedes shyly breaking in on the last chorus with "Peace On Earth", playing Bowie to his Crosby. Even Sue looks impressed with his voice, though she's shouting choreographic instructions.
Puck and Sam break out into an acapella "Can I Interest You in Hanukkah", and Mr. Shue hijacks Kurt, Rachel and Quinn for a round-robin "Do You Hear What I Hear". Lauren starts up "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer", which turns into an excellent crowd singalong, everyone on the chorus and even Sue humming along. Santana and Brittany do "Santa Baby" like they do every year, and Rachel claims "O Holy Night". Blaine asks to join in on Tina's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and they sound really lovely.
He then tugs Mel up toward the microphones.
"All right," he says. "You have to be nice to her, she doesn't sing often and she thinks she's terrible. But it's Christmas, and one of the very few traditions we can keep is this one. Mike, some Pogues, if you please?"
Kurt doesn't know the song, but apparently more than a few others do. Artie and Puck plug in their guitars, Finn settles behind his drums, and Tina catcalls that they'd better do the clean version, there are adults around. Mr. Shue waves his hand dismissively and says he'll allow profanity considering they're not in school and it's a special occasion.
Blaine starts it off, pushing Mel toward one of the stools they've dragged in from the kitchen, and sitting behind Mr. Schue's keyboard. He plays a short intro, and next to Kurt, Rachel elbows Quinn and explains that his technique is clearly professional. There's a strangled cough from Artie along the lines of "shut up".
It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank
An old man said to me, we won't see another one
And then we sang a song, "The Rare Old Mountain Dew"
I turned my face away, and dreamed about you
Blaine gives Kurt a wry little grin for the next bit.
God, I'm a lucky one, came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling this year's for me and you
So happy Christmas - I love you, baby
Can see a better time when all our dreams come true
Kurt's still trying to calm his fluttery heart - boyfriend! Singing to him! - and exchanges knowing grins with Mercedes over Rachel's head. Puck, Artie, and Finn start up an Irish-sounding melody, and Blaine gets up from the piano. Mel nervously raises the microphone and takes a deep breath.
They've got cars big as bars, they've got rivers of gold
When the wind goes right through you, it's no place for the old
When you first took my hand on that cold Christmas Eve
You promised me Broadway was waiting for me
She's not terrible, but definitely untrained - alto definitely, mezzo if she really tried - and her voice has a smoky quality. She'd kill on some Billie or Janis, if she ever got around to exercising her voice. But she's smiling for the first time all night. Traditions are awesome like that. She tips her head to Blaine on her next line.
You were handsome
He spins her around, then bows.
You were pretty, queen of New York City
Their voices blend well, years of singing this song on Christmas evident. Kurt can't take his eyes off Blaine, how happy and relaxed he looks. During all the songs he'd sung before, he'd seemed tense and withdrawn. But when he puts everything he's got into a song, like he's doing now? He's amazing.
When the band finished playing, we howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging, all the drunks, they were singing
We kissed on the corner then danced through the night
Half the party joins in on the next part, which Kurt guesses is the chorus.
The boys of the NYPD choir were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day
Mel comes out with: You're a bum, you're a punk
And Blaine counters: You're an old slut on junk, lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
Everyone who's unfamiliar with the song kind of chokes on the "slut on junk" bit, but the Andersons are good-naturedly hamming it up. Blaine shoves Mel, who slaps him on the arm and gets in his face.
You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas, your arse, I pray God it's our last
Kurt sees Finn lose the time a little bit on "faggot", which makes him smile; his stepbrother's come a long way. The entire room strikes up the chorus, even Coach Sylvester, who would have a decent voice herself if she ever wanted to try singing some more.
Blaine and Mel start the back and forth again.
I could have been someone, Blaine sings, adding a Brando drawl.
Well, so could anyone!, Mel retorts, You took my dreams from me when I first found you
Blaine shakes his head. I kept them with me, babe, put them with my own
Can't make it all alone, I built my dreams around you. Mel's last solo bit.
Kurt's finally got the chorus - and the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day - and the boys signal for another reprise of it after the last one. Will raises his glass of cider, and the rest follow suit, Coach Sylvester having to swipe Mike's cup and making him pour another. They all join in for the last chorus, and pile onto Blaine and Mel for hugs and accolades.
Yep, looks like his boyfriend has the New Directions stamp of approval.
Kurt wakes up around 2 am to find Finn hanging halfway off his end of the couch and mumbling about yellow flags. More importantly, he finds his boyfriend sitting cross-legged in the window seat, wearing his own Cheerios warmup shirt and a pair of borrowed sweatpants. Blaine is supposed to be sleeping in Kurt's room, but he seems quite content to stare out the window.
"Hey," Blaine says quietly, noticing Kurt's sitting up. "Merry Christmas."
Smiling, Kurt gets to his feet, pajama bottoms unbunching from where he's kicked them up his legs in his sleep. He sits down next to Blaine, curling into warm blanket and boy.
"Couldn't sleep?" Kurt asks.
Blaine ducks his head, which means he's blushing. "I never do, on Christmas. I used to get up five or six times a night, to try and catch Santa. I don't think I ever grew out of it."
Kurt looks over at the tree, which has an overabundance of gifts this year - Finn's, Carole's, his dad's, his own, a couple things he'd bought Blaine, a few things Blaine and Mel bought each other that they'd had with them in Cincinnati.
"It's cute," he says, kissing Blaine on the cheek. "When did you find out Santa wasn't real?"
It's a long time before Blaine responds, but his voice is low and aching. "Six. Dad decided that I should be a big boy and stop believing in imaginary things. I think it had more to do with me asking for an Easy Bake Oven than anything else. I cried for days. Mom tried to bribe me with helping to make Christmas cookies. Mel gave me her entire collection of Barbies. But I still wanted that stupid oven. They never bought it, even though I asked every year. I bought one for myself when I was fifteen, with money from my first gig."
He can't imagine something like that. Dad bought him perfume at six and My Size Barbie at ten and tickets for American Idol at fourteen. He never tried to tell Kurt that Santa wasn't real, and told him the truth when Kurt did eventually ask.
He slips his arm around Blaine's shoulders, drawing him into an embrace. "Good for you," he says. "Every gay boy deserves to have the experience of baking that first yellow cake with chocolate frosting."
Blaine laughs, though it's definitely a bittersweet laugh. "I was a pioneer, then. I baked the yellow cake and made my own orange cream frosting, then used the chocolate frosting on the sugar cookies."
"You like baking?" Kurt asks.
"God, yeah. I'm kind of crap at cooking - that's Mel's specialty - but I can bake almost anything. Which reminds me; will I be stepping on anyone's toes if I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast?"
Kurt decides, upon reflection, that it is rude to smack one's boyfriend when he's offering cinnamon rolls from scratch.
"My dad really will adopt you. Though, if you don't mind, is there a way of making them a little more low fat? It's not good for Dad to have too many calories, what with the heart attack."
"Do you have Splenda, vanilla extract and skim milk?" Blaine asks, and Kurt nods. "Then it's not a problem. I can substitute those for the sugar, cream cheese, and whole milk."
He has a gorgeous boyfriend who sings, dances, gets along with his friends, is liked by his family, and bakes.
Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.